Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark-being a '90s kid I had all those books, so nostalgia was in overdrive here. The wraparound, as it were, is not nearly as exciting as the adaptations of the five or so stories, as the characters are all a bit dull, but the monsters from the book are well-chosen and look pretty gnarly; "The Red Spot" and "The Pale Lady" being the highlights. Not bad for a kids' movie. As expected, a sequel is in development.
The Pope of Greenwich Village-an actors' movie, with Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts as two struggling cousins who resort to robbing mob boss Burt Young, which proves to be a mistake. The plot is thin, but the two leads are really good, and this old actress is so great in her one scene that they nominated her for an Oscar. Roberts in particular is pretty hilarious (he insults this one guy by telling him "your mozzarella's tough sometimes") Also featuring an early '20s Daryl Hannah doing stretches in a leotard, so there's that.
Cry Macho-Clint, who somehow looks older than his age, is a well-retired ex-rodeo star, who gets tasked by Dwight Yoakam (who SUCKS in this movie), with retrieving his son from his evil Mexican ex-wife. Clint makes the journey and befriends the wayward youth and his rooster, and you better believe they learn powerful lessons along the way about what it takes to be a man. It's slow and uneventful and probably deserves its current IMDB rating.
Streets of Fire-a 1984 neo-noir musical film that's worse than its IMDB rating. This stars Michael Pare (who SUCKS in this movie) as some kind of tough who's trying to rescue rock star singer Diane Lane from Willem Dafoe and his evil gang of motorcycle baddies. It's a confusing movie with '80s music and '50s fashion that's only worth watching for the beginning and ending concert scenes that totally rule. I definitely didn't know "I Can Dream About You" came from this movie, possibly because I didn't know this movie existed until earlier this month.
San Andreas-The Rock plays a helicopter-rescue pilot who has to save first his ex-wife and then his daughter (29 year-old Alexandra Daddario as the most stacked college freshmen I've ever seen), as California gets totally owned by a shitload of earthquakes and a tsunami for good measure. Tons of CGI destruction, as you'd except, and lots of people dying violently. They throw in this subplot where The Rock's ex-wife is dating this douchebag guy now, and the guy abandons the daughter to fend for herself in the chaos, and then later he gets killed when the Golden Gate Bridge gets ripped in half. That's the kind of movie this is.
Mr. Mom-Michael Keaton loses his job, but his wife Teri Garr soon gets a high-profile one, so he has to stay home and watch the three kids and then he does lots of funny mom things like lose one of them in the supermarket, have battles with the super-powered vacuum cleaner and even starts to enjoy soap operas. Written by John Hughes, who had a more productive thirties than I did.
Ouija: Origin of Evil-prequel to a movie I haven't seen yet, but this one is supposedly a lot better, so I started here. So there's a single wife and two daughters who are faking seances and ripping people off, but then they add a ouija board to the act, and soon the younger daughter is channeling the evil spirit of some Nazi doctor (seriously), which enables her to do everything from writing letters in Polish to killing a priest. This is a good one if you like scary kids.
Leaving Las Vegas-another actors' movie, with Nicholas Cage as a failed alcoholic screenwriter who goes to Vegas to drink himself to death and meets prostitute Elisabeth Shue along the way, and they fall in love, but she doesn't try to stop him from killing himself, which seems weird. This has been talked about recently, because I remember someone saying that the guys who sodomize Shue are former members of the Cobra Kai dojo, and that the movie takes place in the Karate Kid universe, which would definitely make it more interesting than it is.
Premium Rush-JL Levitt is a bike messenger in NYC in this fast-paced, nonlinear, Michael Shannon-as-the-bad-guy movie where he has to deliver an envelope containing a credit for a bunch of money paid to a Chinese gangster in exchange for allowing this chick's mom and son to be exported to America, but Shannon wants it because he owes a lot of money to related Chinese gangsters, so he chases Levitt all around the city as frantically as possible. A modest thrillride indeed.
Little Shop of Horrors-a musical film based on a Broadway musical based on a non-musical film. Rick Moranis plays a dweeb (shocker) in love with this high-voiced lady he works with, but then he finds a Venus flytrap that starts getting hungry for humans, so he starts feeding it, and it gets bigger and bigger and a bit unwieldy, so he's gotta put it down. The original ending that you can find on youtube is dark as all hell, and sees the plant eat him, and then they start destroying cities and taking over the world. Anyway, I don't rate this; the only good thing is the Greek chorus made up of three soul singer chicks. Steve Martin plays a woman-beater dentist and Bill Murray a masochistic patient of his, but that stuff's not funny.
Prom Night-some bullying kids force a girl to fall backwards out a window to her death. Sixteen years later, and someone starts killing those now-high schoolers off one by one on prom night. Leslie Nielsen gets top-billing as the father of the dead girl, but he has about two scenes and five minutes worth of screen-time, as the real star is JL Curtis, who looks about 27 but is playing a high school senior here in her customary scream queen role. This is a routine slasher with a predictable killer reveal, and the disco dancing bits are probably the only reason to see it.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II-this wasn't a sequel until they decided to call it one. This time a '50s flashback reveals a guy who got cheated on threw a stink bomb at his ex-gf prom queen and she totally got set on fire and died horribly. He grows up to be principal Michael Ironside, but then the lead chick who needs a prom dress finds Mary Lou's old get-up in a storage closet at school, and it definitely possesses her into killing lots of people. There's lots of weird special effects and dream-type sequences in this, as it freely rips off "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Carrie" and a few other things, but it's honestly a commendable effort and definitely more interesting than the first movie.
Slumber Party Massacre III-a bunch of chicks gather together to party when one of their parents are away and have naked pillowfights and do other things girls do, then some pervy guys want to crash the party, and then one of them starts killing everybody with a drill. There's lots of gore and a relatively intense final twenty minutes where he keeps chasing them around the house, but they keep thwarting his efforts, and there's also two really weird red herring characters who wind up just being...really weird. On par with part two if only because there's no cheat ending.
Heart of Glass-I don't remember who recommended this, but it's a Werner Herzog movie with this plot: "The setting is an 18th-century Bavarian town with a glassblowing factory that produces a brilliant ruby glass. When the master glass blower dies, the secret of producing it is lost. The local Baron, who owns the factory, is obsessed with the ruby glass and believes it to have magical properties. With the loss of the secret, he descends into madness along with the rest of the townspeople. The main character is Hias, a seer from the hills, who predicts the destruction of the factory in a fire." It kinda feels like one of those late-period Tarkovsky movies where a bunch of philosophically minded people say interesting things and not much happens, but then there's some grand event at the end. Your mileage, I assure you, will vary. Wiki says Herzog put the actors under hypnosis during filming. Is hypnosis even a real thing?
Twins-separated at birth, we've got Arnold as a peaceful genius raised by a scientist on a private island who makes up for his naivety with brute strength, and DeVito as a low-level criminal who thinks his mother abandoned him and never got over that. They eventually track down their mom, but along the way they're pursued by toughs that DeVito owes money to, and there's a subplot about delivering something to some rich guy that's not too engaging, but you're here for the comedy and the beatdowns, and there's enough of that to satisfy the easily satisfied among us.
The Money Pit-Tom Hanks and Shelley Long buy a fixer upper mansion where everything keeps breaking and, slapstick rules the day. If you like to watch people get hurt in a house, then this is the movie for you.
The Hunger-Tony Scott's bizarre directorial debut about two vampires in NYC (David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve) where the former starts aging rapidly and eventually gets put in a casket while still alive in the attic along with all the other poor folks Deneuve sired (friggin' weird), and then she falls in love with doctor Susan Sarandon who studies aging herself, but she doesn't wanna be a vampire. The beginning of this movie is shot like an MTV video with a Bauhaus performance and it's stylish as heck, but it's a mess of a movie with two captivating performances being the only reason to see it.
Footloose-dancing is banned in Bomont by the town preacher (John Lithgow) because of some rock-related tragedy from years back, but then Kevin Bacon (with a dancing stunt-double) from the big city moves into town and brings the dancing back. There's a cute love story and an even cuter subplot where he teaches dopey Christopher Penn to dance while "Let's Hear It for the Boy" plays, and this has to be one of the most '80s movies out there. Famously, once they're allowed to dance, everyone is really good at it, which makes no sense.
Werewolf of London-1935 Universal werewolf movie where a botanist gets bitten by a wolf man in Tibet and then comes home and starts turning into a wolf whenever the moon is full, though he is able to stop himself with this weird plant blossom gimmick, which I don't remember from any other wolf movies. Unfortunately, the wolf man who bit him is in town and in a total dick move steals the blossoms, and the botanist starts killing people. This doesn't have the more advanced werewolf makeup of later films, but it's from the same guy who did the makeup in "The Wolf Man," and there is a neat cheat of a transformation scene. The movie itself feels more like "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" at times, but I think it's an underrated minor gem.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man-monster rally! The Wolf Man, who got killed at the end of his film by his own father, gets brought back when some graverobbers open his casket and the power of the moon revives him. He wants to reverse the curse and meets with that gypsy lady who tells him to go find Dr. Frankenstein, who's dead, but there's another scientist who wants to help (OR DOES HE?) and Talbot suggests his own demise by having his life drained and transferred into Frankestein's monster, whose body he finds under the castle after fleeing some villagers chasing him because he killed someone else (whoops). The monster is played by Lugosi again, but he has no dialogue, apparently because audiences kept laughing at Lugosi's voice coming from the monster, but in a shocking bit of continuity, he is still blind, as he was at the end of "Ghost of Frankenstein," which is never mentioned by other characters and which we have to figure out for ourselves by watching how strangely he gets around. Anyway, they fight at the end for a minute or two, and that's fun.
House of Frankenstein-Karloff is back in this one, but not as Frankenstein's monster (?) He plays an escaped prisoner who's got a hunchback assistant, who he promises a new body to after they eventually wind up at the castle and thaw out Talbot and the Monster (who died via drowning at the end of the last one/spoilers). Lon Chaney Jr. is easily the highlight of these movies, as he's just so tortured by his murderous ways and just wants to die. John Carradine's Dracula is in this for a bit too, as obviously there's not enough going on for a 70 minute movie. This movie has the same premise as "Son of Frankenstein," where Karloff wants to revive the Monster to kill the people who put him in prison. The ending is pretty wild, as The Wolf Man, Karloff, the hunchback, Frakenstein's Monster and the gypsy girl the hunchback was in love with all die/spoilers.
House of Dracula-Dracula and The Wolf Man are alive again with no explanation at all, and both come to this doctor guy and want him to cure them of their problems, which makes sense in The Wolf Man's case, but seems really weird for Dracula? Talbot is still suicidal after another murder, so he jumps off a cliff into the ocean. He doesn't die, but does find Frankenstein's Monster again. The doctor is soon driven mad when Dracula reverses the blood transfusions he's been claiming will cure him of his vampirism (wtf?), and then he revives The Monster, and more carnage ensues. It’s funny how many of these movies end with a mob of angry villagers burning things down.
The Brides of Dracula-the first sequel to “Dracula”/"The Horror of Dracula,” but there’s no Christopher Lee here, only Van Helsing vs. a whippersnapper disciple vampire and the title characters. Some goofy aspiring teacher chick (with tremendous cleavage) foolishly unchains the seemingly innocent suave Baron, but he’s actually a vampire, so his mother totally had a good reason not to let him roam about. This movie is fine and features a ridiculous giant-windmill-shadow-becomes-a-cross ending too. You know what all these movies have in common? Tremendous cleavage.
Dracula: Prince of Darkness-he’s back (the man in the cape), but this time there’s no Peter Cushing. A couple of couples wind up at the castle and encounter a creepy manservant who sneakily kills one of them and uses their blood to revive Dracula in a wicked scene. This is one of the better sequels, although Lee famously has no dialogue (his choice after reading the script rumor has it). Something to look out for: if a character brings up a way to kill Dracula that you’ve never heard before, he’s probably gonna die that way at the end of the movie.
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave-via a priest exorcising the castle who gets thunderstormed into falling and hitting his head on a rock, and then the blood “trickles into a frozen stream through a crack in the ice and onto the lips of Dracula, reviving him” (lolwut?) The priest then gets minionized by Dracula and helps him get access to the hot chick in this one. Dracula gets beat up by a normal dude and impaled on a cross, and if I’ve one complaint about these movies it’s that he’s always getting beat up or fleeing crosses and is made to look too weak too often.
Taste the Blood of Dracula-three old rich pervs who hang out in brothels and stuff want more thrills and chance upon an evil young Lord who has got some Dracula blood, and he tricks them into participating in a resurrection ritual, during which they freak out (rightly so) and kill the Lord, but then Dracula comes back and minionizes some chicks, and all three of them wind up dead, as you’d expect. This one is good too, but has possibly the worst ending, as Dracula gets supernaturally overwhelmed by the power of prayer or something and dissolves into dust.
Scars of Dracula-this time a bat regurgitates blood onto Dracula’s remains to bring him back, which is pretty wicked. In fact, this one has the most bat murders and features some hilariously unconvincing bat attacks. It also might be the most violent. There’s a scene where Dracula is disappointed in one of his minion chicks and absolutely stakes the shit out of her. What’s more: this one has Dracula running up the castle walls at one point. Just like in the novel! Dracula gets struck by lightning this time, as both God and nature seem to have it out for him.
Dracula A.D. 1972-Cushing is back, as the descendant of Van Helsing, and we’re finally in the swinging London of contemporary times in this really quite terrible movie. There’s a seriously goofy scene where a band called Stoneground performs in a dining room at a house party that might be the most memorable thing here. There’s another young Dracula disciple who convinces some fools (Van Helsing’s granddaughter among them) to engage in a black magic ceremony that brings Dracula back. You know what happens next: he turns some chicks, kills some people and then goes back to being dead in the end.
The Satanic Rites of Dracula-this one might be even worse and sees Dracula get a lot more aspiring and basically trying to end the world, as he uses some conspirators as the Four Horsemen to help him unleash a plague of some kind. Unfortunately for him, we learn earlier in the film via Van Helsing that Dracula’s susceptible to hawthorn bushes, and lo and behold, that’s how he meets his end.
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires-Lee wanted no part of this one, so there’s another guy briefly playing Dracula, but then he assumes the body of some old Chinese guy and soon we learn the tale of those golden vamps, as Van Helsing (teaching in China) accompanies a family of kung fu fighters in their quest to destroy them once and for all. This is an insane and honestly entertaining horror and kung fu mashup that has to be seen to be believed and a really odd way to end the series, but I’ll take it.
The Curse of Frankenstein-this is it: the role Cushing was born to play, as he is absolutely tremendous as Victor Frankenstein, and, quite honestly, a total piece of shit in almost this entire series. This one features Christopher Lee as the Monster/the Creature, but he doesn’t have much to do and also looks nothing like the Universal version, as they said “not happening, bros.” Anyway, this movie is good, and you have to admire Cushing’s pure evil, as he is in danger of getting blackmailed by the maid he’s banging and who is now pregnant, so he locks her in with the Creature to be murdered. Sadly, he’s forced to dispense with the Creature himself via knocking him into a vat of acid.
The Revenge of Frankenstein-he’s about to have his head chopped off for the maid’s death, as nobody will back up his Creature story, but he pays off the guards to let him escape and run amok once more. This time he’s gonna transplant a hunchback’s brain into a new body. The new Creature starts killing locals, as you’d expect, and then dies dramatically in front of everyone at a party, which must have been pretty embarrassing for Victor, who winds up being killed, but then his new assistant transfers his brain into a new body made to look exactly like his old one. You read that right.
The Evil of Frankenstein-Frankenstein and Hans the assistant are forced to go back home after too much graverobbing where they encounter a hypnotist named Zoltan and a deaf-mute girl, who leads them to his old Creature, whose body is frozen in ice. They use Zoltan to reanimate the Creature’s mind, but then Zoltan proves to be evil himself and starts using it to pillage. He tries to force the Creature to kill Frankenstein, but he doesn’t respect hypnotism that much, and kills Zoltan instead. He then starts fighting with Frankenstein and we get the classic castle burning down while they’re fighting ending. One of the lesser entries in the series.
Frankenstein Created Woman-this one’s all metaphysical and has to do with trapping and transporting souls into new bodies or some such. Hans gets blackmailed for murder and beheaded, so his slightly disfigured girlfriend drowns herself, and then Frankenstein transfers Hans’ soul into her body, so the chick with a man brain goes around as the new Creature and is seeking revenge on the guys who set him up to die; after she/he kills them all, he/she drowns herself again, and Frankenstein walks away all sad. Bloody weird!
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed-good idea, people. Frankenstein and a new helper kidnap a healthy bodied professor to insert a genius’ brain (he has a dying body) into. The helper’s lover lets the Creature (who’s freaking out about his new situation) escape, so Frankenstein stabs her to death. This has the same ending where Frankenstein’s fighting someone while a house burns down. I don’t remember how much I liked this one, which probably means I didn’t.
The Horror of Frankenstein-this one is actually minus Cushing, as it’s a tongue-in-cheek near-parody focusing on him in his younger years. It’s available on youtube and is thankfully funny enough to warrant a single watch, but it’s no great shakes. The first of two appearances of future-Darth Vader actor David Prowse as The Creature.
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell-the dramatic conclusion! Frankenstein works at an insane asylum and cobbles together parts from different patients that he acquires via murdering them or, at least, convincing them to kill themselves. lol this character rules. The Creature here is gnarly and ape-like, made up of all sorts of people, and of course wants to start killing people upon completion. The inmates eventually rip it to shreds, but Frankenstein is all “whatever, I’ll just start a new experiment” and does just that. The end.