Bad Movie Club: The Astro-Zombies

1968 sci-fi thriller

Bad Movie Rating: 4/5 (Fred: 1/5; Libby: no rating, but she did not seem happy; Josh: 2/5; Johnny: 2/5)

Rating: 4/20

Plot: A disgruntled scientist and his Igor-esque assistant are reanimating the dead to make superhumans. Frisky scientists try to discover what's causing mysterious murders while a bizarre trio of spies attempt to use the creations to their advantage.

Fred called this "almost unintelligible," but I thought it all came together in a traditional B-movie way. In fact, I think I almost liked it enough to give it a Bad Movie Rating of 4/5, but because of peer pressure, I don't feel like I can. I almost want to boost it a point just because of the presence of Tura Satana. [Edit: I have bumped the rating up to a 4/5. I will not succumb to peer pressure!]

I think my fellow Bad Movie Clubbers' problem with this movie had to do with pacing, but for me, inept pacing is endearing. Think of your Plan 9s or Yucca Flats or Manoses. They all have this almost otherworldly quality because the director has no idea how to make a story flow, create tension, and piece storylines together, so you've got this mass of B-movie cliches that plods along like that carpet monster in The Creeping Terror. For most people--like, normal people--that's going to make a film tedious, but for me, it adds a certain magic. The best example in this movie are mad scientific laboratory sequences with John Carradine, seemingly endless sequences where you have no idea what the scientist is doing and have no reason to care but are forced to watch it anyway. The movie just screeches to a halt during these scenes and starts to feel about as interesting as your high school chemistry class.

Carradine also has this assistant, Franchot, who, if you close your eyes and imagine a B-movie mad scientist's assistant, you don't need to even see to know. He's played by William Bagdad who Torgoes it up quite a bit with a hunched back and limp and wonky eye. I checked out the career of Bagdad. He was in The Ten Commandments, several Ted V. Mikels' movies, and something called A Clockwork Blue.

God damn, I sure love that poster. This has been on a list of "Bad Movies I Need to See" for a really long time, and it's partly because of that poster. And it's partly because of the infamy of Ted V. Mikels who is still working as he pushes close to 90 years of age. Glancing at his filmography, I believe I've only seen one of his movies--the interesting Black Klansman. But I always come across the guy's name in the same sentences that Ed Wood Jr.'s name hangs out in, so I was intrigued. And when I saw that poster for the first time? Oh, boy, this became a must-see.

It couldn't live up to the poster, but it's got its moments. I enjoyed the Astro-Zombies, plastic-skull-headed things in sports coats. I like how they aren't just menacing or violent but they're also a little pervy, clawing at brassieres and engaging in some light fondling as they attack their victims. One great scene has an Astro-Zombie having to stumble around while holding a flashlight to his own forehead.

Just doesn't seem all that menacing, does it? But then you've got rare moments like this:

A machete to the head doesn't sound like a pleasant way to go anyway, but knowing that that machete to the head was delivered by an astro-zombie that has to hold a flashlight to his forehead to function adds a level of embarrassment that makes it all seem even worse.

I also liked a lengthy dance sequence that was about as gratuitous as movie scenes come. And how scenes are inexplicably sped up although that might have had more to do with the Youtube version of this that we watched. And, of course, there's Tura Satana. It reminds me that I need to see Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! again. Tura, other than being shapely, has this presence that I like. And cleavage. I wish she would have had more of a career in movies although Varla in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is enough of a legacy. I am going to have to find The Doll Squad, another Mikels' movie that features Satana.

Honestly, I think this is a pretty good movie for something made in 6 days. I do wonder what the 370,000 dollar budget went for other than Carradine's paycheck and plastic skulls.

Ted V. Mikels made a sequel to this 33 years later, by the way. I guess the demand was just too much to ignore.

The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists

1995 documentary

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A look at the life and work of Gerald Gaxiola, the self-proclaimed Maestro, a "cowboy artist" who dabbles in a myriad of artistic endeavors while no caring if he makes a dime from any of it.

"You gotta keep blowing your horn, my man, cause the world needs the jazz."

I like that lyric from a song near the very end of this because I think it captures what's important about this semi-oddball character. The Maestro's a guy who just trucks right along. Why? Because the world needs his jazz! My man!

If you're going to make a documentary about somebody that nobody has heard of, you'd better make sure the subject is fascinating enough to make the whole thing seem worth it. There's nothing profound here, but you can't help enjoying this glimpse at the Maestro's life. I liked the guy's art work, and I especially like how eclectic his work was. His career allows him to enjoy an obscurity that doesn't limit him to a certain style, so he's free to explore. Aside from his painting, we see him construct a studio, design his flamboyant cowboy clothes, sing original songs, and eat cookies. He's a living and breathing jack of all trades!

Most bewildering were a couple segments that made it seem like the Maestro might be a little less pure than he lets on. First, there's some ramblings about Andy Warhol and later, he's threatening to ruin Christo's stupid yellow umbrellas. I'm not sure what to make of those scenes where he talks about other artists.

Anyway, I liked this guy and am glad I spent the time getting to know him. I believe this is the first Les Blank documentary I've seen, and I liked the style and the subject matter. I'll have to check out the other stuff Criterion's released.

My brother recommended this.

Edit: Now that I've looked him up, there are actually two Les Blank movies that I must have seen right before I started doing this blog--Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe and Burden of Dreams. The first is exactly what it sounds like, a documentary short that just deepens the mystique of Herzog. The latter is very nearly essential viewing.

Zorns Lemma

1970 avant-garde movie

Rating: no rating

Plot: Alphabet.

This is kind of like watching one man play a game that you don't know the rules to. This is really just Hollis Frampton, without any sound at all, showing the audience the alphabet over and over again. We start with letters, immediately move to words starting with each letter, and gradually see those letters and words being replaced by images that don't really make sense. X, for example, is a fire. The image on the Criterion package is for H, if I'm remembering correctly. By the end, the entire alphabet consists of these images, and I'm not really sure what the point of the whole thing is. I also don't understand why some letters--the U early on--are missing sometimes. In other words, I'm probably not smart enough for this movie. Of course, I'm the same guy who doesn't really understand comic book movies either.

Aesthetically, this is interesting enough. There's something a little haunting about the whole exercise, and my brain kept trying to figure out some significance to the selected words and images. The film, which is around 50 minutes long, is the kind of thing that you'd probably rather see part of on a museum wall instead of watching the entire thing on your television. It really seemed to annoy my wife, but I actually found the whole thing calming. I don't really like avant-garde stuff as much as I pretended to 10 or 15 years ago, but this did put me in a meditative mood. I'm not sure if that was Frampton's purpose though.

I hated the ending, around 10 minutes of a shot of people walking in a snowy field while a pair (?) of people read something that didn't make any sense to me. I thought it clashed with the alphabet stuff and couldn't figure out what it had to do with the rest of the film.


2015 minimalist sci-fi movie

Rating: 9/20

Plot: Fifty folks find themselves in a sort of arena and are one-by-one killed and whisked away. They have to figure out the rules of the little game they've found themselves in and then figure out what to do about it.

For 99% of the movie, you're looking at the setting on the poster up there. Just put some people on those red dots, and you've got it. I'm not saying a movie like that can't work, but the writing better be damned good. Here, the writing is far from "damn good" though. Characters who aren't around nearly long enough to either really know and understand or really care about get a few lines and then are zapped and dragged off less profoundly than writers/directors Aaron Hamm and Mario Miscione think it is. Everything's just so superficial here. It's all snippets, like philosophical sketches on Twitter or something, and none of the ideas about race, morality, sexuality, bias, economics, or anything else resonate. It's got about as much depth as your average reality television show, just a pointless exercise. As much as I hated watching this movie, I had to make it to the end to find out which character survives the experience. It was not worth it.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

2014 end of a trilogy

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A pair of traveling salesman try to peddle vampire teeth, a device that makes laughing sounds, and a rubber mask to people who don't look like they've ever laughed or will ever laugh.

Songs from the Second Floor; You, the Living; and this just might be the most consistent and perfect trilogy ever. It's a trilogy, according to an opening title card, all about "being human," and as a third movie that's a series of vignettes about nothing even more than Seinfeld is about nothing, there's really nothing else it could be about.

So you have to ask the question. What is "being human" really about anyway? Like most great art, it's not a question that this is going to force people to answer in the same way. Clearly, however, Andersson things "being human" is an absurd thing to do, and I'm pretty sure any pigeon you ask would agree. We live absurdly, and we die absurdly. We go to war absurdly, and we come back from war absurdly. We communicate absurdly and experiment on monkeys absurdly. We love and remember in absurd ways, we accept offers of free beer without even knowing how absurd the act is or how absurd it would be not to take it, we cling absurdly to things, and we dance absurdly. We're here for a limited time, do next-to-nothing with that time, and then turn into dust. This movie shows characters in the middle of the process of turning into dust, and that probably explains why all the characters are gray.

Not to say this is depressing or doesn't entertain because if you're approaching it correctly, it's hilarious, individual vignettes tickling, repeated lines and motifs bringing chuckles. And really, just Andersson's style puts a giant smile on my face. There's nobody else who makes even one scene like any of these, let alone an entire trilogy consisting of these drab tableaux scenes, characters seemingly trapped in strict architectures or absorbed into paintings that Edward Hopper would probably think were too depressing. I love how each scene is so perfectly constructed. Scenes open, and the first thing I do is zip my eyes around from corner to corner to corner to make sure I'm absorbing everything. Regardless of what actually happens or doesn't happen in each little scene, each one is delightfully exquisite.

There's a lot I want to say about this movie, but I don't know how to say any of it. In my perfect world, everybody's watching Roy Andersson movies and talking about them and buying drinking glasses from Burger Chef with these characters and their quotes on them instead of obsessing over the fucking Avengers. But this isn't a perfect world, and we're not perfect humans. We're the humans who Roy Andersson makes movies about, the kind that confuses pigeons.

I believe Andersson is around 72 years old, and at his current rate of movie-makin', he's not going to release another film until he's nearly 80. I'll be closing in on 50. I really hope there's another trilogy in him. I won't know how to write adequately about any of those either.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

2015 super sequel

Rating: 13/20

Plot: Occasionally, a company who I will not name because I do not do product placement here at shane-movies--the exception would be Zubaz, pants that enable you to embrace the awesome--sends me a coupon for a free movie as long as I'm willing to go to a nearby pharmacy or supermarket to find the giant red box and spend the time perusing, selecting, and punching in a code. One day earlier this month, I got an email with one of those coupons, drove a mile down the street, and rented this movie because I thought it the experience of watching superheros and one Norse god running around fighting evil would be worth the nothing that I paid for it. That experience was so amazing that I completely forgot about it until right now. And now I'm writing about it before I forget it again, especially since I know this is the exact type of movie that people would have wanted to read about three or four months ago. You've got to give the readers what they want, right?

Bloated. That's the word that keeps popping into my head. This movie, and probably most of the other Marvel movies, is the movie that reminds me most of a sebaceous cyst that I had on my lower neck or upper chest--depending on your angle, I guess--that I had to have removed. That's right--it's a sebaceous cyst of a movie. It feels like it could burst at any moment, but it doesn't and eventually requires the surgical precision of a little Indian doctor who you can barely understand. And that doctor questions your manhood while dumping half a bottle of peroxide on the wound. You wonder why you have a "wound" to begin with and nearly pass out as you walk through the waiting room. You're shocked to see a giant hole in your upper chest or lower neck the next day, and several years later, you've got a scar that nobody knows about except you.

I've digressed before I even started, but I'm pretty sure I'm a little drunk again. I'll tell you what--I'm glad I didn't start drinking as a younger man because I'm pretty sure I would have died a long time ago.

I haven't watched many movies this year. When I started this blog, it was all about the 365 movies in one year because I wanted to have some sort of goal and see if I could do it. I'm falling well short of 365 movies this year, but that doesn't matter any more. Honestly, I'm not sure why I keep this thing going except I do like to have a chronicle of what I've seen. I have a terrible memory, so it's good to have somewhere to go to find out what I thought about a movie. Like this one. In a few years, once the third movie, Avengers: Another Buttload of Money, comes out, I'll want to come and read this to remind myself what it was about and whether or not I liked it.

I'm going to be really disappointed in myself.

I guess I have to write a little about the movie. My favorite thing about the entire movie was James Spader. He's got such a great voice that I wouldn't mind hearing him read my obituary. And you know what the stupidest thing about this movie is? In a movie that has a lot more stupid than most Marvel movie fans would be willing to admit, the stupidest thing that the bad guy is voiced by James Spader.

Here's a question: Did Joss Whedon decide somewhere in the writing process that he wanted some sinister plan that Batman t.v. show villains would think was too complicated but with a far more costly special effects budget? I sort of remember the first movie where bugs are falling from the sky and our heroes have to fly around trying to stop them. At least I remember being bored by the whole thing. The climax of this, in which a chunk or real estate is being lifted into the heavens, is just as boring. One can only take so much special effects swooping.

Like all comic book character movies, this one confused me.

I am wearing a shirt that glows in the dark, and I'm 42 years old. How's that for ideas that clash? Today, I should have done something productive.

How many of these movies did Robert Downey  Jr. sign up for? He's going to be in the next Captain America movie and at least another one of these Avengers movies. Iron Man kind of turns out to be a doofus in this, doesn't he? Scarlett Johansson's in this, but it's seemingly only to be a love interest and later a damsel in distress. She gets her moments--furious motorcycle riding, etc.--but she winds up just being somebody who needs to be saved. There's too much of Bow and Arrow Guy in this. He's just not an engaging character, even if you give him a family. Hulk sulks, and Thor's running around doing things that I don't entirely understand. The Captain America movies are my favorite of the Marvel movies, but he always seems like too much of a good two shoes when he's with the other Avengers. Who am I missing? Did I cover everybody? I don't want to miss an Avenger!

Where's it go from here? The Avengers are apparently going to be fighting in the next series of movies, and that makes me a little sad. But these movies seem like they're going to go on forever. Long after they're interesting at all, I'm pretty sure people will pretend they're interesting just because it's expected. I find it difficult to get excited about these movies although I did sort of want to see what that Antman was all about.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's the same thing. There's some exposition, some action sequences, a little time to catch your breath, and then a giant fight scene. That's what it was all about.

I know who I forgot--Don Cheadle and the guy with wings. And two new characters, mopey siblings who stole their superpowers from Incredibles' characters. And Samuel L. Jackson who appears to be getting too tired for this shit.

Speaking of Samuel L. Jackson, it's interesting that so many people who hated the Star Wars prequels are so excited about the upcoming Force Awakens movie. I don't think you should be allowed to be excited about any Star Wars movies until you're willing to admit that most of what George Lucas was trying to do in those prequels--even The Phantom Menace--was at least fun. I mean, what the hell are you excited about if all you can remember about the prequel trilogy is how much you hated Jar Jar Binks?

This review isn't very helpful. I'll make it simple for you. If you've already seen this movie and engaged in some kind of fanboy circle jerk, then it's probably the right movie for you. If you think all these Marvel movies are entertaining but more than a little overhyped, then you're going to think the same thing about this one. And the next one. And the next one.

I'm feeling pretty cynical here. It might be the alcohol.

One more thing--the Fast and the Furious movies are better superhero movies than these Avengers movies. At least they're not all the same exact movie with different shadings.

Jimmy Johns. I like their sandwiches a lot, but they are really overpriced. That's a lot to pay for a sandwich. They definitely are freaky fast though.

Ok, so there's more product placement, but it was accidental. My instincts are telling me just to delete all that about my sandwiches, mostly because nobody cares but mostly because the Zubaz people might wonder what's going on. From there, it's a logical progression of feelings. If nobody cares what kind of sandwich I ate and how I feel about how much money I spent on it, why would they care about my reaction to Avengers: Age of Ultron. And if they don't care about my feelings about that superhero movie, why would they care about how much I enjoyed the last Neil Breen movie I watched? And if they don't care about something I'm that passionate about, would they care about anything at all?

It makes me wonder why I continue doing this blog. It chronicles, it gives me something comfortable, it's as much of a legacy as a really manly fart.

You know who I really want to be? I want to be the guy who knows a lot about movies but who has never seen Avengers: Age of Ultron. I think that's who I was born to be. Unfortunately, it's too late for that because I've seen Avengers: Age of Ultron. And I'll probably see the next one if that company sends me another coupon to get a free movie from their giant red machine.

I think I might be a little depressed actually. You get to be a certain age--in this case, 42--and you assume it's your last year on earth because you had a premonition when you were a much younger man and you look around at a world that should be much better than the world you were in 20 years ago but can't help noticing it's really not better at all. And you're experienced enough to look into the future and know that it's probably going to be a lot worse. And you're confused because you know that you're getting wiser with age and feel that the world should be getting wiser with age, too.

This is a movie that should make you temporarily forget all that, but it doesn't. And that's where the movie kind of fails. I want to watch a superhero movie that makes me feel like I did when I watched Superman for the first time and saw Christopher Reeve using his x-ray vision to look at Lois Lane's underwear. I was five when that movie came out, and the world was much simpler, the type of world where a guy in tights matching wits with a bald man can make you forget that there's even a real world out there at all. That magic is gone now.

I've probably changed more than superhero movies have.

Still, I can't figure out how they can put a Norse god in these movies and make jokes about his hammer.

I could write paragraphs about Scarlett Johansson, but I don't like her in this movie. I don't like her character, and every time I saw her on the screen as Spider Woman or whoever she happens to be, I just wished I was watching Under the Skin instead.

Now I'm sidetracked again. Here I was trying to focus on Avengers: Age of Ultron again, and I decided to go to imdb instead to see what people were saying about the far-superior Under the Skin. Here's something insightful:

Can you read that? It's a middle-aged man who thinks Scarlett Johansson's ass "looked absolutely delicious." Now I'm really depressed. Is it normal to see something like that on the Internet and immediately question every decision you've ever made in your life?

In my defense, I'm not sure what somebody is supposed to say about a movie like this. Maybe that has more to do with me as a person who blogs about movies. But seriously, what is there to say? The special effects are adequate? The story is exactly what you'd expect? The established characters are moved from point A all the way to point B in a way that wonderfully leads into the next blockbuster? The explosions are loud?

Let's talk about what this has to say about life. It's probably the exact same lesson as nearly every 50's B-movie except it says it in a more flamboyant way. Flamboyantly explosive and swoopy.

I'm reminded that Tommy Wiseau, a guy who made a movie like Tommy Wiseau instead of making a movie like everybody else, expressed a desire to direct a sequel to that last Fantastic Four movie. Now that would be something! That's a blockbuster I'd camp out to see.

Movie idea: Secretary 2: Age of Ultron.

Anyway, I'm having a difficult time focusing, so I'll end this and pretend it never happened.

Any questions?

San Andreas

2015 disaster movie

Rating: 8/20

Plot: Earthquakes vs. The Rock

Disaster porn with sketchy special effects and questionable logic. I expected The Rock to be ridiculous enough for this movie to be enjoyable. Like, I actually expected him to engage in fisticuffs with an earthquake or something, but stuff like that only happens in the world of The Fast and the Furious. Here, they try to make The Rock an actual human being with varying results.

Paul Giamatti reacts to earthquakes in the exact same way he reacted to the Kennedy assassination. Both made me laugh which I'm sure wasn't his intention.

I may have fast-forwarded over large chunks of this movie. Depression was intense while I watched this one.

Jurassic World

2015 reboot

Rating: 11/20

Plot: Dinosaurs rampage at a dinosaur amusement park.

This movie was almost as boring as The Land Before Time. The special effects extravaganza couldn't make up for bad storytelling with a bunch of characters I couldn't give a shit about. Where was Jeff Goldblum anyway?

The Land Before Time

1988 animated dinosaur movie

Rating: 13/20 (Jen: 20/20; Buster: 20/20)

Plot: Young dinosaurs go on an adventure to try to find their families.

This movie bored me, and thankfully, it was only about an hour and ten minutes long. The narration was oppressive, the colors kept changing without warning, and the music was irritating. This movie made me root for an asteroid. Don Bluth's only forgiven because of Dragon's Lair.

But it's not that bad of a movie.


1965 Bond movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: James Bond fights sharks as he hunts for stolen atomic bombs.

This had to be a bit of a letdown after Goldfinger. Connery's a cool customer, Claudine Auger's stunning, and there's a character with an eyepatch. A climactic scene on a runaway yacht is nonsensical and poorly filmed, but I loved underwater harpoon fight shenanigans.

This might break my record for the movie I had to watch in the most installments. I think I watched this in 18 separate pieces.

Bad Movie Club: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

1997 sequel

Bad Movie Rating: 4/5 (Mark: 3/5; Fred: 3/5; Libby: no rating; Josh: 4/5)

Rating: 5/20

Plot: Not sure, but I think it's almost the exact same plot as Masters of the Universe.

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie where special effects completely overwhelmed everything else. It's like they made a bunch of scrambled eggs--eggs that don't really taste that good because they've got an incomprehensible story, terrible acting, and laughable fight choreography--and then dumped forty pounds of salt and pepper all over them, so much salt and pepper that you have to dig your way through it all just to find the egg part. You get CGI characters flipping all over the place, the most ridiculous dragon thing ever, lots of computer-animated portals, and some of the grossest backgrounds you're likely to see, and everything else just drowns inside it all. I'm not sure there's a making-of documentary for this movie, but I'm pretty sure it would reveal that it was the product of A.I. as some sort of first step in a Terminator-esque takeover. Combined with that aforementioned terrible fight choreography--often an assault on physics--this is loads of fun for about 43 minutes. Then, it sort of starts to wear you out, and you start to wonder if you watched this in 7-D and were kicked in the head by a plastic robot ninja or something.

I am not familiar with the game these movies are based on at all, but I did see the first movie and have heard that the characters in this--including a hot four-armed woman and a goofy centaur--are all from the game. That first movie was pretty dull. I just remember a bunch of human characters fighting in a tournament on an island or something. This movie looks like what happens when people decide to take every character in the Mortal Kombat [sic] franchise and every idea for those characters that anybody has ever had, chew them up really well, and then spit the results onto film. What you won't criticize this movie for is having a shortage of ideas. No, this is one of those movies with far too many ideas, and the fact that very few of them are any good shouldn't stop you from appreciating the 80's kid creativity that went into this work of fart.

I'd recommend this as a good-bad movie for those of you with the stomach to take it. It is a bit of an endurance test, however.

I have to go now. A new Bad Movie Club is ready to start.

Bad Movie Club: Halloween Puppy

2012 Decoteau joint

Bad Movie Rating: 3/5 (Fred: 2/5; Libby: no rating; Josh: 3/5; Kristen: 3/5)

Rating: 2/20

Plot: Kids playing with a spell book accidentally turn Eric Roberts into a puppy. They have to find a Brady daughter to help turn him back into Eric Roberts, much to the chagrin of the world.

David Decoteau, of A Talking Cat?!? infamy, directed yet another talking animal gem between gay porn videos. Well, actually it's his alter-ego--Mary Crawford.

How's this for a confusing dvd cover:

That's right--that's the same movie except it has a different title and features a dog that looks nothing like the dog in the movie. But you can't beat that tagline: "Unleash the Impawsible" is solid.

This features the same house and the same Kristine DeBell as A Talking Cat?!?, but it's got a slightly-more-sober Eric Roberts and therefore just isn't as entertaining. Yes, that's despite an appearance of Susan Olsen, Cindy Brady herself. She's playing Ozzy Osbourne in this movie.

Roberts sure is enthusiastic. Look no further than a scene where he licks doughnut icing from his fingers. I'm pretty sure he practiced that in a mirror before the scene, thinking, "Yeah, and they say Julia's the talented one in this family. Look at how cool this licking looks. That's right, Eric Roberts. You're the man! You're the fucking man!" My favorite part might be where he, as a dog, says, "That's the stuff," in response to Kristine DeBell fondling him during one of the dozen or so scenes where Kristen DeBell fondles him. The closing credits--credits that last at least ten minutes and are more slowly paced than this movie, not an easy feat--is interrupted with outtakes of DeBell rolling around in the grass with that Halloween or Magic Puppy depending on which credits you believe, so you have to believe that Decoteau filmed about 70 hours of that.

Worse than Eric Roberts--but without the star power? Two bullies played by Lucas Adams and Ryan Greco, likely future stars in a Decoteau-directed gay porn extravaganza. They're not convincing as bullies, and I'd even make the claim that they're not convincing as actual human beings.

To be honest, Decoteau and company should be given a lot of credit for putting together a movie this good in the three days they likely spent writing, scouting locations, hiring actors, and shooting the thing.

Bad Movie Club: Warlock 3: The End of Innocence

1999 straight-to-video sequel

Bad Movie Rating: 1/5 (Fred: refused to rate because it was not a bad movie; Johnny: see Fred; Josh: 1/5; Carrie: no rating; Libby: no rating; Tami: not sure if started)

Rating: 8/20

Plot: A college kid inherits a creepy house, and the devil's kid tries to use it to summon his dad. Or something--it's been a while, and the plot of this one isn't that memorable.

This was a bad Bad Movie Club movie because it wasn't really that bad of a movie. Don't get me wrong--it wasn't a good movie. It just wasn't really bad enough. I have no interest in any other Warlocks.

At least it had this in it:

Bad Movie Club (That Time Forgot): Run Run Bunny!

2003 movie

Bad Movie Rating: 1/5 (Amy: 1/5; Josh: 3/5; Kristen: 1/5; Fred: 0/5; Libby: Was she there?; Mark: didn't start, mad because we weren't watching something involving ALF)

Rating: 4/20

Plot: I don't remember although, to be fair to my memory, I'm not sure I ever really knew what was going on in this movie.

Animal rights activists would be pissed if they knew about this movie, but luckily for them, they never will. Having "Bunny" in the name of this movie is cruelty to rabbits.

I had completely forgotten about this movie, probably repressed the memory of watching this movie. All I remember is that it's one of the ugliest things I've ever seen. I know that suprises you after getting a glimpse of that poster up there, but it's true. This is just an ugly movie.

We were supposed to watch something with David Hasselhoff, but it wouldn't work for us unfortunately. Anything would have been less painful than this.

I wish I would have remembered to forget about this movie.

Back to the Future Day Celebration Part 2! Time Travel Movie Fest: Back to the Future 2 (Movies-A-Go-Go)

1989 disappointing sequel

Rating: 12/20

Plot: I already whined about this movie here.

Movies-A-Go-Go Time! (Note: I do lose my steam in this one because I kind of hate most of this movie.)

I saw Back to the Future 3 with a girl, and it had to be love because I hadn’t even seen the second one yet. She told me about it, and her description ended up being much better than this actual movie. In fact, watching her eyes as she told me about this movie is still one of the best movie experiences I've ever had.

This opening sequence isn’t quite the same as it was in the first one, and it feels like they’re all in some 20th anniversary reunion where they’re acting out the scene again. It’s not a good start, Back to the Future 2. Not a good start at all. Is there a reason why they didn't just show the exact same ending sequence?

Clouds, likely because they couldn’t think of anything else to put here. From the wonderful clocks in the first movie to what appears to be a late-90's screensaver in this one. Again, this isn't a good start, Back to the Future 2.

Wait a second. This is 2015, and it doesn’t look like the 2015 in this movie. For one, nobody’s wearing totally impractical silver shades like Doc Brown is here. That's not to say I wouldn't wear them, but I don't believe I've ever seen them.

“All the kids in the future wear their pants inside-out.” Not quite, but it wouldn’t actually surprise me that much. Kids in 2015 are pretty stupid.

Yep, totally nailed the future. I actually don’t hold that against the movie. I like the chances they took here.

“You got to scrote?” Oh, my God. That combined with the headgear is enough to turn you completely off.

Bojo? What’s a bojo? Low-res scuzzball. As a child of the 80s, I'd like to defend the bad writing here. We were inventing stupid words so rapidly in the 80s that the writers of this had no choice but to think it would continue well into the next century.

"Save the clock tower” guy, Charles Fleischer, also the voice of Roger Rabbit. This is an interesting cameo here.

Cubs win the World Series, eh? Against Miami? Sure, it was prescient to give Florida a baseball team, but the poor Cubbies didn’t make it to the World Series and couldn’t have played the Miami team anyway. Nice try though, Back to the Future 2. I'm so happy that this baseball season is over, by the way. I was tired of hearing about how this movie predicted Chicago would win a World Series.

Why is there an Ayatollah Khomeini video waiter anyway?

Tranks, lobos, and zipheads live in Hilldale. Sounds like my kind of place!

Not even a talking parrot can save this. The height Biff wears his pants, an upside-down man who is clearly not Crispin Glover, Michael J. Fox playing a female version of himself. This is absolutely brutal.

How much more obvious could they make the “your father doesn’t like being called a chicken” thing?

Biff’s going to know exactly how the time machine operates. Yeah, I’m buying that. He can’t even drive it in reverse without hitting a dumpster.

Speaking of dumpster--this movie.

Flea. No, he can’t save the movie either. Not even one of the stars of The Big Lebowski can help.

“Chicken.” Cue string music!

AT&T product placement, as obvious as the “chicken” thing from earlier.

One thing this movie got right about the future of 2015--everybody’s going to communicate with personal fax machines. That was spot on!

After the near perfection of the first movie, the plot holes in this one make it even more disappointing. Its predecessor contained flawless science. This one is what the kids would call a hot mess.

Kudos to the dog playing Einstein. He’s good, especially when he’s allowed to improvise.

"Even I'm embarrassed about how this movie turned out. Woof!"

Geez. I guess Hilldale’s no longer a “nice place to live.” I guess the best way to paint a picture of the apocalypse as brought on by Biff and a sports almanac is to have a bunch of crashed cars. Biff becomes rich, and people no longer know how to drive? This movie doesn’t really make sense.

A heavily-armed Strickland threatening Fox’s nuts keeps me going, knowing that there will be a generous helping of Strickland in the last third of the movie.

Now the bum’s named Red? It wasn’t in the first movie, was it? That's the great George "Buck" Flower, by the way.

Marty, your mother’s eyes are up there. . .

Got to love Lea Thompson’s versatility in this, often even when she’s playing the same character. The way this character changes based on the timeline she happens to be in is fun to watch.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a spin-off to give Biff’s trio of pals a backstory or three.

Do you think Marty stumbled around the cemetery with a flashlight until he found his father’s gravestone, or was he given directions? Probably in this movie, he did the former.

I think I’d rather be watching the Clint Eastwood movie, preferably with a pair of bimbos in a hot tub. When I make my millions betting on sports, that's precisely what I'll do--watch Westerns in a hot tub with some whores.

Stairway chase. Heck yeah, I want to see that movie with Biff’s pals!

Biff’s stupefied celebration on the rooftop is mimicked by Wild West Biff in the next movie. One of the few nice touches in this movie there.

Yeah, keep explaining, Doc Brown. None of this is still going to make any sense to anybody.

Christopher Lloyd’s ridiculous, frenetic pacing on the street after landing in 1955 is one of the things that makes me want to forgive the first half of this movie.

I have to look up who does the voice of Biff’s grandmother. (As expected, it appears to be Thomas Wilson. Good work there.)

I do like the gaps this fills in for the 1955 storyline. They didn’t need to be filled in, and it doesn’t really enrich anything, but it’s still kind of fun.

“Get your cooties off of me!” If I had a dime for every time somebody said that to me in elementary school, I'd have a few more bucks than I have now.

There are three Delorean time machines in 1955 at one point. Is my thinking correct there?

“Five-eighths? Don’t you mean three-quarters?” For a guy so concerned with not changing the past--as well as a guy who’s seen the worst-case scenario of that happening--he really has no problem with changing things.

Was that a fake Crispin Glover dancing? If so, I assume that’s where they used a guy with a Crispin Glover mask and therefore the thing that made Glover a buttload of money.

Ahh, never made the connection. Biff has these same three idiotic friends in the 50’s. Minus the 3D glasses unfortunately.

Following Strickland and the “sports almanac” was never the right move, Marty. Didn’t you remember how this turned out? Strickland didn’t own a casino in the mid-80s!

“What’s CPR?”/“He just took his wallet” guy. CPR Kid, or "Lester" in the novelization of this movie, played by Wesley Mann who was also in Parker Lewis Can't Lose three times. And he apparently looks like this now:

Now that's what I call versatility!

There’s fake Crispin dancing in the background while Marty talks to Doc on the walkie-talkie, and it’s not even close. Even somebody who isn’t a Crispin Glover aficionado could see that.

Oh, my God...the chicken thing again! And things were going so well at this point.

Does Biff never use his rearview mirror?

Maybe you should just land the car, Doc?

Am I the only person who watches this and hates everything involving the stupid hoverboard? The crap with the train in the third movie, this 1955 action stuff, the 2015 chase that parallels the 1955 one. The hoverboarding was just not a good idea.

I’m sure there’s some physics explanation, but how is Doc zapped to 1885 there? He wasn’t traveling 88 miles per hour. This movie doesn't make sense.

Still just love how the storm stops immediately after the clock tower is struck by lightning. It’s like the storm said, “Ok, mission accomplished. We’re done here.”

Back to the Future III, coming Summer 1990. That was back when I still had a pulse and was convinced I could work myself into other people’s dreams. What a damn fool I was back then. It's also the time when I realized that I had been in love.

Back to the Future Day Celebration! Time Travel Movie Fest: Back to the Future (Movies A-Go-Go)

1985 popcorn masterpiece

Rating: 19/20

Plot: I already wrote about this movie here.

And you can probably read more coherent thoughts there, too. I've apparently bumped my rating up 2 points. Back to the Future, the more I think about it, really belongs on a list of my favorite movies ever. It's an 80's movie that doesn't feel all that dated, and the only things that I really feel like criticizing are product placements that would probably embarrass Speilberg and an ending that Crispin Glover doesn't like. This is one of those movies that I've seen so many times that I feel like I have every beat memorized, yet it doesn't really get old. It's as fresh now as it was the first time I watched it, and you still notice new little details each time you watch the thing.

Anyway, this got the extremely popular Movies-A-Go-Go treatment in honor of Back to the Future Day a little over a month ago, and then I forgot to put it on here. So here it is.

Love the sound of ticking clocks, but here are a couple questions: 1) Why does one man need this many clocks? 2) Where can I find myself a Harold Lloyd clock? Nice foreshadowing, by the way.
That one-shot travel through Pee Wee’s house is so good. And maybe it’s because I’ve seen this a dozen times or so, but the storytelling is so perfect here. This movie gives you information so effortlessly.

Product placement: A Burger King and an awesome Mountain Dew trucker’s cap. And by the way, it sure is sad that Doc Brown went from living in the sweet pad we see later in this movie and earlier in the timeline to what's apparently a shed next to a Burger King.

Wasn’t your fault that you were late, Marty? You were in your friend’s house about five minutes and ended up 25 minutes late. Marty's concept of time makes you wonder if he's equipped to be in a movie about time travel.

What’s going on with Mr. Strickland’s neck wrinkles?

The Pinheads. First album: The Pinheads Play Huey Lewis and the News.

Save the Clock Tower Woman isn’t overdoing it or anything.

I’m already really sick of Huey Lewis. I can’t hear him without thinking of his penis.

Crispin Glover! His gesticulations during the “Run ‘em on over first thing in the morning” line are just part of what makes this one of the greatest performances in cinematic history.

Pepsi, Bud Light, Nike. Even Doc Brown’s got a pair of Nikes.

Based solely on Crispin Glover’s laugh, he should have gotten the “Michael J. Fox money” he asked for to do the sequel.

Interestingly enough, Crispin Glover still doesn't look as old 30 years later as the 1985 version of his character looked in this movie. The guy doesn't age.

A Devo reference? "Is that a Devo suit?" I never would have noticed that without the closed captioning. I'm not sure why I never made that connection before.

December 25th was the birth of Christ? You know better than that, Doc. Not even the staunchest of Christians believes that anymore. Clearly the man has snorted too much plutonium.

Doc Brown has a wrinkly neck problem, too. It was a dangerous situation in the mid-80’s.
The foreshadowing in this movie is so good. I’m not sure I ever noticed that “next 25 World Series” line before.

Such great music right before the arrival of the terrorists. The gradually build-up is so good.

This movie gives Libya a bad name. Terrorists in a VW bus?

Laugh it up, Terrorist. It's all fun and games until you explode in a mall parking lot while trying to get back your plutonium.

Why does Marty drive right into a photo thing? Smart move if you know you're being gigawatted into the past, but if you don't, it just seems like bad driving. Marty's as good at driving as he is getting to school on time.

“Looks like an airplane...without wings!” Nice acting, Pa.

“Take that, you mutated son of a bitch!” Also good.

Ronald Reagan, another reference that pops up later. This movie is so good at doing that. This is about as cleverly written and visually-gagged as a movie can be, isn't it?

I’d be embarrassed if I lived in a city that couldn’t come up with a better motto than “A Nice Place to Live”


I like the dad’s line which makes it clear that he’s hit a lot of Peeing Tom’s with his car.

The running gag about Marty being a sailor is funny.

Question: How cute would your mom have to be for you to have any sexual interest. I mean, Lea Thompson's got to be kind of close, right?

I remember seeing this movie as a kid and thinking that Christopher Lloyd actually was this way. The silver jacket, the hair, the contraption on his head. He’s channeling Dr. Frankenstein.

“Jesus, didn’t that guy ever have hair?”

“A rhythmic ceremonial ritual.” I can definitely see why Marty would want to hang out with this science guy, but I would love a prequel showing how these two met. I know it's blasphemous suggesting that anybody else play these characters, but wouldn't that be cool? And I know it wouldn't exactly be logical, but finding out that Doc Brown had to befriend Marty despite how unlikely that would be just to not destroy the space-time continuum would be a nifty conflict. Has that been addressed in a comic book or something?

I can’t be the only person who watches this and wonders why Biff’s friend wears 3-D glasses all the time. I believe that was referenced on Doctor Who which makes me feel a little geeky.

Hey, Darth Vader wasn’t from Vulcan! I’m surprised this doesn’t piss off more sci-fi geeks.

“Lou, give me a milk...chocolate.” This five minute sequence--”My density has popped me to you.”--is 
Crispin Glover at his best. Why didn't the guy get an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this work?

Why do Biff’s words cause the jukebox to shut off?

This movie made me want to take up skateboarding, and I soon learned that I had no business being on a skateboard.

I hate the shot of Marty riding behind the blue-green truck and giving a wave to the people watching in the diner.

Doc Brown apologizing for the quality of his model. So good.

Lloyd’s gasp when the burning car hits a pile of crap and catches it on fire is also so good. Could any other actor have made this character this memorable?

“Hey, you, get your damn hands off her.” That’s one of the beautiful things about this movie. I can’t imagine anybody else--not even Eric Stoltz--playing Marty. I can’t imagine anybody else playing Doc Brown. And I definitely can’t imagine anybody else playing George McFly. This performance is spot on, idiosyncratic.

And now we get to see him dance? Just imagine that you’re at the Enchantment under the Sea dance and you see this guy dancing by himself like Crispin Glover is dancing.

“Who you calling spook, Peckerwood.” I probably quoted that line way too many times as a teenager, naively.

No, it doesn’t make sense that George, in a moment that gets me every single time, is going to be able to knock out Biff like that, but how do you expect Biff to fight with the raging hard-on he must have when he gets out of that car?

As Marty’s hand disappears, you really get the idea of how all these small moments in life really matter. I don't like the disappearing hand gimmick, but that message is still powerful.

There’s such irony with this Chuck Berry allusion. In reality, white rock and roll guys borrowed from black musicians. Here, we flip the script and have Chuck Berry being influenced by a white kid. That's probably racist.

Doc’s told Marty not to give him any information about the future, but shouldn’t he at least tell him that being sent back at “the exact same time” is a terrible idea? Although I guess he isn’t going to end up at the mall again, so maybe it doesn't matter.

I’ve always wanted to time this “less than four minutes” because it’s always seemed a lot longer than that to me.

As we approach the climax, I’m trying to think of a movie that is as purely entertaining from start to finish as this movie is. Comment below if you can think of any.

Ahh, and there’s Doc’s near plummet that brings us back to the Harold Lloyd clock at the beginning of the movie. So good.

I like Doc Brown’s shoes.

Longest four minutes in movie history. And it’s taking a Delorean travelling at 88 miles per hour a long time to go one block. Suspend your disbelief and just go along for the ride though.

Photo thing in a mall parking lot, movie Part III, the time machine is about to hit a drive-in screen. What’s the significance of any of this? The Delorean keeps almost hitting things that produce images.

Did I never notice the mall's name change or did I just forget about it? That's clever stuff, ruined only a bit by more obvious product placement. 

Fred does not look great, Marty.

Why does Marty have his alarm set for 10:27? And why does he sleep on his face with one arm 
behind his back? If it wasn’t shown twice, I’d assume he didn’t do it all the time.

Marty just avoided his mother’s kiss. I wonder why.

I totally get why Crispin Glover hated the end of this movie. It is sort of like a capitalistic wet dream, isn’t it? Would everything be just as “alright” if they didn’t have all this financial success and material possessions?

This cliffhanger ending seems abrupt to me. Maybe it’s partly because I know how crappy most of the second movie is though.