Friday, December 8, 2017

The Green Slime (1968)



The Green Slime (1968) is not a terribly good film, but it has a few interesting elements that make it worthy of watching. The most notable of these features is that the film is a joint production between Toei (Japan) and MGM. Shot in Japan with an American cast. This means it's like watching Battle in Outer Space (1959) but with actors you might see in Fantastic Voyage (1966).



The story begins as we discover an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Retiring Commander Rankin (Robert Horton) is sent with a team to detonate it before all life on the planet is destroyed upon impact. That team includes the fiance of Rankin's former girlfriend. The mission is successful, but the team inadvertently brings back a hitchhiking specimen onto the space station with them - The Green Slime.

And that's all in the first act, so this is not a movie that's slow to get started.



Once on the space station though, the story focuses on a race to figure out the evolving Green Slime and keep it from reaching Earth.



Most of the drama in the film comes from the love triangle clashes between the two dueling commanders. And by drama, I mean groan-worthy arguments and snark that amounts to little more than a series of pissing contests while the threat to the space station increases, people die, and the possibility of unleashing the Green Slime on Earth grows larger.

Larger....more numerous, same thing.

Even as the story is solid and the threat is straight-forward, the relationship between the two rival Commanders (and former best friends) is incredibly annoying. The best thing to alleviate this distraction is to focus your attention on the fantastic set work, costuming, and of course, The Green Slime creatures (which all look like something that you might see in an episode of Ultraman).



Recommended if you've never seen The Green Slime (1968), if you're wondering about the predecessors of the Alien franchise, or if you need an easy way to explain how annoying a pissing contest can be.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Deadly Friend (1986)



Deadly Friend is a film directed by Wes Craven and was a follow-up to his iconic Nightmare on Elm Street movie. It's a terrible movie about a young robotics genius who brings his murdered neighbor back to life using his cybernetic skills. She then goes on a murderous revenge spree. I'm going to spoil the whole thing, so you don't have to bother watching it.

(If you do plan to watch - against my advice - then you probably want to stop reading here.)

Don't say you weren't warned.

The movie starts with a single mother moving her son, and her son's robot, to suburbia. The son is basically a young version of the guy from Gremlins.



And the robot exhibits that kid's genius ability to create semi-murderous machines that talk like the Buck Rogers robot (Twiki) mashed-up with Donald Duck's voice.



Once settled in suburbia, the robotics expert kid meets the locals. One is a regular-looking version of Clint Howard who delivers papers around the neighborhood. The other, Kristy Swanson, is abused by her father. When her father's abuse kills her, the robotics expert decides to bring her back to life by implanting one of his circuit boards in her head. Of course, she immediately goes for revenge while the robot-genius kid attempts to hide her existence and keep her killing under control.

The title tells you how well that plan works out.

There are exactly three decent moments in this movie. The last one is pretty spectacular, but the first is when Kristy Swanson kills her abusive father. It's a moment that falls flat when it should have soared (I mean, who doesn't love watching that kind of an asshole get his comeuppance). Instead of a sweet death scene though, we get this.

Pffft.

The second worthwhile moment of this movie is the inexplicable (surprise?) ending. After Kristy Swanson has been killed a second time to end her revenge spree, the body is taken to the morgue. Like the idiot-genius he is, the robotics kid decides he can still help her (despite the fact that his previous "help" caused her to go all murdery) and aims to revive her again. That's when this happens.

So, the chip in her head caused her to internally robotify?

And finally, I've saved the best moment for last. This one is a gem, but needs a little set-up. As per usual in suburbia, there's one nasty neighbor who doesn't want the kids anywhere near her house. In this case, it's Mama Fratelli from The Goonies. At one point in the movie, the kids lose their basketball over Mama's fence. She scoops the ball up and keeps it. Later, Kristy Swanson decides this is appropriate retaliation for that slight.

Boom!

And then her headless body tries to walk it off.

As I mentioned from the start, I've spoiled the three best moments of this film because it's not recommendable. Unless you're a huge Wes Craven fan, I guess? Otherwise, avoid this movie.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Shin Godzilla (2016)



Even though I did a quick review previously, I wanted to sit down and put together a few more in-depth thoughts on this film. So, here goes...

After taking a break from making Godzilla movies, and even participating in the 2014 American production, Toho Studios handed the reigns of this new film to a director best known for his work in anime. And it was definitely the right choice since he's created a fantastic film and a fantastically terrifying version of Godzilla.



When a creature appears in Tokyo Bay, a governmental response must be formulated, coordinated, announced to the public, and then carried out. But Godzilla evolves quickly, and the Japanese government's slow response to what they learn about the creature and how to apply that knowledge to some strategy form the conflict of the story. Slow government vs. fast-moving destruction/tragedy. While the tone of this film calls back to the serious message of the '54 film, this time, Godzilla's destruction is an analogy for the Fukushima Reactor Meltdown.

Including radiation spikes.

There really isn't a "human story" to the movie as there is traditionally with Godzilla movies. Sure, there are human characters, but their personal drama isn't the center of the story. We see them struggle against bureaucracy and bristle against one another, but that's just the backdrop. Their job in this film is to put a human face on all the machinations going on behind what we ephemerally classify as "government."

This might seem like it would be boring. It is not.

This is in stark contrast to previous Godzilla films where a human character would say, "Let's send the X-2 to destroy it!" and immediately the film cuts to the next scene of the spaceship, or whatever, launching. Instead, we get the tension of knowing the disaster is getting worse while meetings are held to decide the course of action and, later, while a small group pours through data trying to figure out a way to destroy, or at least fight, Godzilla.

"Just bomb the crap out of it! Oh wait."

It's an entertaining and intense film. The destruction and repercussions of Godzilla's rampage is not an afterthought. There are real people with real lives in its path. So even without a "human story" built in, there's still a lot of humanity in the movie.

Highly recommended for Godzilla fans and anyone who enjoys a metaphor in their movies.