Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review

Movies that you love to watch over and over.

Lionheart

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Lionheart

Release Date: January 11, 1991

Genre: Action, Drama, Crime   

Director: Sheldon Lettich     

Writers: S.N. Warren (Earlier Screenplay), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Story & Screenplay) & Sheldon Lettich (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Harrison Page, Deborah Rennard, Lisa Pelikan, Ashley Johnson, Brian Thompson

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

It’s been awhile since I reviewed a movie with an 80s action star. I didn’t want to do another Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal nor Dolph Lundgren movie since I’ve done one of each. I combed through the list of action stars and one name shocked me as I’ve never reviewed any of his movies for the site yet. The person I’m referring to is the Muscles From Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme. JCVD was a prolific action star with good looks, kick ass moves and the master of the splits that would make men cringe. Going through is filmography one movie stood out as a perfect film to present since it doesn’t seem to find a whole lot of love in the movie review community. For this review, we look back to 1990 and the film, Lionheart.

In the movie Lionheart, Van Damme plays Lyon Gaultier, a solider in the French Foreign Legion stationed in the Djibouti. He receives a delayed letter from his sister in law in Los Angeles regarding his brother in the hospital after a drug deal gone bad. After being denied leave, Lyon deserts the legion and escapes in a Jeep. Wandering the desert, he gets work as a tramp steamer which the boat he is working on is heading for the United States. He arrives in New York City instead of Los Angeles. Penniless and with no way of getting to his brother in time he comes across an illegal street fight ring led by a man named Joshua (Harrison Page). Lyon participates in a match which he wins (of course) and earns money. Seeing the potential, Joshua takes Lyon to meet a woman named Cynthia (Deborah Rennard) who runs an organized street fight for the rich. Impressed by his fighting skills Cynthia sponsors him a flight home. Unfortunately, Lyon is too late as his brother has passed. He agrees to fight for Cynthia to bankroll an account to give money to his sister in law Helene (Lisa Pelikan) and his young niece Nicole (Ashley Johnson). Unbeknownst to Lyon, members of the French Legion have arrived in America to apprehend him to be Court Marshalled for desertion. Lyon must save his family as fast as possible before he is taken into custody.

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Directed by Sheldon Lettich who wrote the screenplay alongside Van Damme, Lionheart is one of the standout films that he’s done. It’s more than a movie with a ton of fights. It’s a film that has heart. Van Damme is looking for redemption for abandoning his brother for a long time and trying to make right with what’s left of his family. The sacrifices he makes in the film from deserting his unit to his body being bloodied, bruised and broken are displayed with determination and will.

The performances in the movie are good and convincing. Van Damme naturally evolves the character of Lyon as a loner who slowly breaks out of his shell and works to make amends to his family and generate an unlikely partnership/friendship with Joshua. Harrison Page does a great job playing Joshua. Although he is a recruiter for Cynthia and is all about the money, he does look out for Lyon and helps him connect with his sister in law and niece. He is also credited with giving Lyon the nickname “Lionheart” which he gets known by through the fighting world. Deborah Rennard as Cynthia is seductive and manipulative. She tries to use Lyon as her personal boy toy, but Lyon rejects her advances. She only sees dollars with him and doesn’t care for his well-being. Lisa Pelikan gives a heartbreaking emotional performance as Helene who is angry at Lyon for not making it home on time to see his brother one last time and struggles to find forgiveness, but essentially allows him back into her life and Ashley Johnson was cute as a button as Nicole. There’s an appearance from Brian Thompson as Cynthia’s bodyguard/right hand man Russell, but he doesn’t get a lot of screen time. He appears only when Cynthia appears except for one scene.

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The fights in the film are engaging and enjoyable as Van Damme goes up against some of the best each with different builds and abilities. I loved the fact they used different locations for each fight including an underground parking garage complete with cars parked in a circular format to represent a cage, a near empty swimming pool with just enough water to dunk the fighters in and even a racquetball court. It felt like I was watching two gamers play Street Fighter.

The plot is simple and there’s no real twists or turns. There is some predictability near the third act which I won’t go into in order to avoid spoiling anything. Lettich does a great job keeping the audience focused going from a fight to a dramatic scene and then to a character scene, etc. There are a few moments that drag out, but most of it comes from the first quarter of the film.

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Lionheart would rank as my third favorite Van Damme film only to Bloodsport and Hard Target. It’s the most human film of his body of work that we won’t see a performance like that again until his semi-biographical movie JCVD (another classic). The film went on to gross $24.3 million on a $6 million budget which is a nice chunk of change. It’s a dramatic actioner with gladiator combat that encompasses the spirit of not just a warrior, but a man.

TRIVIA

  • A trailer for the film, seen on various VHS releases from Imperial Entertainment, which produced the film, makes absolutely no indication of Universal Pictures’ involvement, since Universal would only pick up the U.S. distribution rights later in the process.
  • Filmed after Death Warrant (1990) despite being released prior.
  • A sequel was planned but never materialized.
  • This film was released under one of five titles, depending on the country it was released in. It was released under the names ‘Lionheart’, ‘Full Contact’, ‘A.W.O.L Absent Without Leave’, ‘Wrong Bet,’ and ‘Leon ‘. The film was independently funded and so was sold to various distributors throughout the world. It is therefore assumed they just picked the title that had the most impact in their respective territories.

AUDIO CLIPS

Your Brotha Is Not My Problem

You’re A Real Asshole

America

Rude Operator

Let Me Count This

This Is The Lion

You’re Kinda Pretty

What’s Happening?

You Told Them To Burn My Clothes?

Everything OK In There?

I’m Not Your Toy

Scotland

I’m Going To Draw Myself A Bike

Hard Cold Sick Bitch

I Knew You Weren’t Really A Stranger

You Need Karate Lessons

Wrong Bet

The Iceman

Release Date: May 3, 2013

Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama   

Director: Ariel Vromen   

Writers: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen (Screenplay) Anthony Bruno (Book) Jim Thebaut (Documentary “The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With A Killer”)

Starring: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

Since I was a teenager, I’ve always been fascinated with stories about the mafia. I would read books on everyone from Al Capone to Henry Hill and watch numerous television documentaries and film adaptations. I find it incredible how much power and influence they have which affects the lives of ordinary citizens. One person I’ve been fascinated with was Richard Kuklinski who was a notorious contract killer for the mob. He was nicknamed “The Iceman” for how he would keep the bodies of his victims in freezers and for his stone-cold demeanor when killing people never showing an ounce of emotion. His life story was made in several specials for HBO and in 2013, a film adaptation called The Iceman was released.

Directed by Ariel Vromen, Michael Shannon stars as Kuklinski starting in the 1960s. He starts out working as a porn film lab technician until he encounters Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta), head of his own crew working for the Gambino crime family. DeMeo shuts down the lab and sees if Kuklinski would be more useful to them as a contract killer. After testing Kuklinski which he passes he becomes a ruthless hitman taking out anyone he is asked to take out. In addition, he is raising a young family with his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) who are kept in the dark about what he’s doing. After DeMeo has to lay low, Kuklinski works independently coming across another hitman named Robert Pronge, also known as Mr. Freezy (Chris Evans) and they go in business together for another mobster named Leo Merks (Robert Davi). Eventually, Kuklinski becomes unstable and reckless which would lead to his ultimate downfall and the revelation from his family about his notorious career.

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The Iceman is a blunt gangster film that has some spots of humanity, but overall is as cold as a Chicago winter. Vromen depicts Kuklinski as a man who is simply doing a job. He shows no mercy when he takes out the people he is hired to take out. He even toys with one of his victims (in a cameo appearance by James Franco) by telling him to pray to God and if he appears, he’ll spare his life. There are moments where Vromen shows some form of humanity of Kuklinski around his family, it feels like it doesn’t go far enough. We’ll get to more of that later.

The lead performance of Michael Shannon is as solid as a rock. He got the look and voice of Kuklinski down to a science. Throughout the film you see Shannon as a soulless monster which gradually starts to wear down on him with his family and some of the sticky situations, he finds himself in. Near the end he becomes paranoid and erratic which leaves him vulnerable to apprehension.

Shannon is supported by Winona Ryder as his wife who is completely oblivious to his deeds. There are moments where she tries to figure out if he has something to hide but loves him dearly that she believes everything he says. Ray Liotta plays a familiar role as a gangster, this time as Roy DeMeo. He plays DeMeo as a man to be feared and not to mess with. There is a great scene where Shannon is entering the back seat of Liotta’s car and Liotta is there pointing a gun to his head and lecturing him about how a man can only take so much and keep things hidden. The surprising performance to me was Chris Evans as Mr. Freezy. I’m so used to seeing Evans as clean-cut Captain America, but in this film he’s as crazy as Kuklinski but in a quieter way. He’s able to turn on the charm of an ice cream man to children and then when they’re gone, he becomes Kuklinski’s partner in taking out contracts.

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There’s relatively little blood and gore in The Iceman as most of the brutal things Richard Kuklinski does in shown either off screen or in head shots. There are more gun killings than anything else. You’ll see moments of Kuklinski killing people execution style and some that just happen in a spontaneous moment due to his weakening trust around the mobsters that entrust him to do their dirty work for them.

While The Iceman is a slick film, it’s not without its flaws. First off, I think Ariel Vroman didn’t go deep enough with Kuklinski’s character and reasoning for doing what he did. He omits Kuklinski’s terrible childhood which many psychologists believe could have developed his lack of empathy. Also, some of the events in the timeline are not correct. I’ve read books on Richard Kuklinski and have seen the HBO special and certain events in this film, most notably near the end are shuffled around. In addition, the editing is constantly hectic even at the smallest of things which don’t give off the kind of emotions you are hoping to get in a movie.

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The Iceman is indeed a depressing flick and not for everyone, but if you like these kind of character studies then this would be something for you to watch on a quiet evening. It’s straight laced in terms of plot and characters. The performances are what really drives the movie as Shannon interacts with the people, he comes across in his own way making sure to keep them at arm’s length from one another. If you like this movie I highly recommend checking out the Kuklinski tapes where The Iceman himself talks about his life, his family and his crimes. You’ll get a better understanding of his methods of madness.

 TRIVIA

  • To aid her performance as the oblivious wife, Winona Ryder removed all the pages of the screenplay that didn’t involve her.
  • Apart from a 15 second flashback, the film makes virtually no mention of the awful childhood that Richard Kuklinski endured. His parents were both deeply violent people, with his father actually accidentally beating his older brother to death. In real life, this played out into Kuklinski becoming a very violent person himself. The film completely glosses over the fact that he regularly beat his own wife.
  • James Franco and Benicio Del Toro were originally cast in the lead roles. Franco was replaced by Chris Evans and Del Toro was replaced by Ray Liotta, although Franco was given the brief role of Marty Freeman instead.
  • Michael Shannon was able to emulate the real Richard Kuklinski’s voice by listening to TV interviews and the HBO documentary, America Undercover: The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992).
  • The name on Mr.Freezy’s van is ‘Captain Freezy”. This is a possible nod to Chris Evan’s role as Captain America.

AUDIO CLIPS (Warning: Contains Explicit Language and Themes. Listener Discretion Is Advised)

They’re Lousy Conversationalists

Put The Money On The Table

Roy DeMeo Introduction

You Don’t Respect Yourself Enough To Use Your Own Name

Cold As Ice

You A Lumberjack?

God’s Got Nothing To Do With It

Pray To God

Mr. Freezy

Cartoons?

So Is It My Lucky Day Or Last?

You Can Finish Jerking Off

Like You Don’t Care Anymore

Poem To Annabelle

Maybe I Should Go In And Say Happy Birthday

Life Can Be Pretty Random

Black Moon Rising

Release Date: January 10, 1986

Genre: Action, Thriller  

Director: Harley Cokeliss (as Harly Cokliss)   

Writers: John Carpenter (Story & Screenplay), Desmond Nakano & William Gray (Screenplay)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, Lee Ving, Bubba Smith  

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

Hope you enjoyed the batch of Halloween movies that were presented on Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review! I’m going to be taking a break from horror reviews to focus on other genres. I have a handful of movies ready to go and trying to write as many reviews as I can in between working my day job, writing and editing for Braindead Network and finishing up my monster movie script that I’m particularly proud of. But enough of my time management issues, let’s get to the next non-horror movie review which will be the 1987 action cult film Black Moon Rising!

Written by horror auteur John Carpenter (ironic since I said I’m not going to mention horror movies for a while on this page), the film features Tommy Lee Jones in a rare leading role as Sam Quint, who is a former thief that is hired by the FBI to steal a computer disk which contains incriminating evidence against a company called the “Lucky Dollar Corporation.” On his tail is a former acquaintance of his Mavin Ringer (Lee Ving) who works for the company. Quint crosses paths with Earl Windham (Richard Jaeckel) at a gas station. Windom just tested a new prototype vehicle called the Black Moom, which can  reach speeds of 325 MPH. Quint hides the disk in the Black Moon which makes its way to Los Angeles. Upon intercepting the Black Moon, a group of auto thieves led by a woman named Nina (Linda Hamilton) steal the car along with some other vehicles at a restaurant. Now Quint needs to retrieve the disk to complete his task.

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John Carpenter wrote Black Moon Rising during the time he was working on Escape From New York. The script floated around until it was picked up by New World Pictures, which hired Desmond Nakano and William Gray to re-write parts of it and tasked Harley Cokliss to direct.

The movie is essentially a “got to get back a stolen car” story filled with some great chase sequences, ample amounts of action and solid performances from the cast. It’s too bad Carpenter didn’t direct the movie because it does have a style that is suited to his work. Black Moon Rising reminds me a lot of Knight Rider considering the car looks like if KITT had a son.

As previously mentioned, this is a rare lead role for Jones who doesn’t disappoint as Sam Quint. His charm and witty sense of humor is displayed all throughout the move even in the most dire situations. He is observant of his surroundings and uses his skills as a thief to elude his pursuers. Linda Hamilton does a stellar job as Nina. Her story is developed right as she appears on the screen. Throughout the run time, you understand Nina’s background and why she chose the profession she chose. Any bitterness you have towards her in the movie turns into sympathy. She becomes an intriguing partner to Jones’ Quint whose relationship also moves as quickly as the Black Moon car. Other noteworthy performances include Lee Ving as Marvin and Bubba Smith as FBI Agent Johnson, whom Quint reports to.

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Director Harley Cokeliss has been a B-movie filmmaker for most of his career, although he has credits directed numerous action sequences for The Empire Strikes Back. That experience paid off as he creates some thrill-seeking action sequences most notably with the car. I could feel my toes curl and my heart race when Jones gets into the car and presses all the buttons to get it to do certain things kind of like the various cars James Bond has used to get out of sticky situations.

The only thing I didn’t care for in the movie is the love scene between Jones and Hamilton. I don’t think the term ‘Awkward’ cuts it when describing the scene. You could easily list it in a top 10 list for “Worst Lovemaking Scenes!”  I understand its part of the movie and trying to fit a romantic dynamic in the movie, but they probably could’ve shown it another way.

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Despite some of the predictability, Black Moon Rising is a fun picture that is a wink and a nod to many classic action movies. I appreciate it for its technicality, style and a cast that works together. It’s a perfect viewing for a rainy Saturday afternoon or if you’re looking for a thrilling low budget affair. It impressed me the first time I watched it and it hasn’t changed my opinion since re-watching it again not too long ago.

TRIVIA

  • This is actually the first screenplay that John Carpenter ever sold. The film had been in development for over 10 years.
  • Linda Hamilton despised working with Tommy Lee Jones. Jones had been struggling with alcoholism at the time.
  • Tommy Lee Jones did most of his own stunts.
  • A lot of Tommy Lee Jones’ wisecracks were improvised by the actor himself.
  • The stunt driver of the Black Moon had virtually no idea where he was going as he was in a semi-recumbent position whilst driving. His windshield was also made of Plexiglass that reflected every single surface, obscuring his vision even more.
  • The Black Moon was based on a Canadian car prototype design called the Wingho Concordia II which was first unveiled to the public in 1980. Only one of these were ever actually built so the car seen in the film is a copy cast from molds.
  • Tommy Lee Jones uses an original H&K P7 9mm pistol in the film. He carries the pistol without a round in the chamber, even though it is widely known to be among the safest handguns ever built and purposely designed to carried with a round in the chamber. He also used an identical P7 in Under Siege (1992).

 

AUDIO CLIPS

Show Our Car Off

We Used To Be In Competition

I’m Getting Too Old For This

You Are A Thief

You’re In For A Long Lonely Night

I’ll Take The Keys

They’re Stealing The Cars

I Was Here

Don’t F**k With The Government

Oh No, Molina

It’s An Interesting Machine

Iron John

I’m Not Going To Open The Door

Just How Many Names You Got?

Come On, You Worked At NASA

I Would’ve Grabbed At Anything

You Just Gave A Whole New Meaning To The Term Breaking And Entering

 

Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

Release Date: January 13, 1995

Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Action

Director: Ernest Dickerson  

Writers: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris & Mark Bishop

Starring: Billy Zane, William Sadler, Jada Pinkett Smith, Thomas Haden Church, CCH Pounder, Dick Miller, John Kassir (Voice)

 

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

Happy Halloween! We’ve reached the final review for the month of October. As you could tell by now, most of the movies featured on this site were monster movies and anthology movies. This movie that I’m presenting is a little bit of both. It’s a monster movie presented by an anthology series. What could I be talking about? None other than the first Tales From The Crypt movie, Demon Knight which was released in 1995.

The Cryptkeeper goes Hollywood in this first full-length feature from the series. He presents the tale of Demon Knight in which a drifter named Frank Brayker (William Sadler) is being pursued by a man in cowboy attire (Billy Zane) who turns out to be a demon.  He is in pursuit of a relic that Brayker carries that once it is in his possession, he would be able to take over the universe. After a car chase which results in a big explosion, Brayker makes his was into a small New Mexico town where he meets a bum named Uncle Willy (Dick Miller) who guides him to a motel in the outskirts. In it contains the motel owner Irene (CCH Pounder), work release convict Jeryline (Jada Pinkett Smith), prostitute Cordelia (Brenda Bakke), postman Wally (Charles Fleischer) and later café worker Roach (Thomas Haden Church). The Collector along with the town sheriff (John Shuck) and his deputy named Bob (Gary Farmer) track Brayker down at the hotel. The Collector takes out the Sherriff and Brayker uses the key to drive The Collector out of the motel. Determined to get the key at all cost, The Collector cuts his own hand spewing out green blood which he splatters all over the dirt which creates other demons to help him. Now Brayker and the rest of the inhabitants must survive the night and prevent the demons from getting the key.

The cast of Demon Knight featured familiar character actors who fit their parts perfect like Cinderella’s glass slipper. Billy Zane as The Collector played it loose but menacing. He brought that soft charm that he is known for but has the skills to manipulate his victims in order to get what he wants. He essentially is the devil in this movie as he temps the survivors with anything they want in exchange for their soul. Few of the characters in the movie succumb to their impulses. Zane played it a little over the top but not in a way that annoys you. Zane has publicly stated this was his favorite part and helped him get the part of the bad guy in Titanic.

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William Sadler is a seasonal vet on the show. He appeared in the pilot episode The Man Who Was Death and he appeared in cameo segments as The Grim Reaper (his character from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey) and later as a mummy in the second film Bordello of Blood. I couldn’t think of a better actor to play Brayker than him. He’s a man who didn’t ask to become the guardian of the key, but when it was bestowed upon him, he felt a duty of responsibility to keep it safe. When he gets the survivors involved, he does what he can to protect them even though at times they overrule his suggestions. Sadler’s Brayker is reminiscent of a western gunslinger. I don’t think you could convince me that the producers casting Sadler in the role is a coincidence. It felt like the producers gave him a tribute by having him in the second billing.

As for the rest of the cast, I enjoyed their roles especially Dick Miller’s Uncle Willy who played it like a lovable family member CCH Pounder’s Irene who rules her motel with an iron fist and Church’s Roach who was a slimy thick-headed character that was loathsome from the beginning. And I can’t forget about Jada Pinkett as Jerryline. What I thought would be a throw away character turned out to be one of the more important characters to the story. While there’s not much of a background on her except for her being on work release, you see her come into her own during the movie.

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The film was directed by Ernest Dickerson whom prior to getting this job directed the movies Juice, which featured Tupac Shakur and Surviving The Game starring Ice-T and Rutger Hauer. He was a unique choice to make this movie, but he did an amazing job creating something that captures the look and style of the television series while getting the maximum effort from the cast and crew.  The concept of the movie is easily inspired by the films Rio Bravo and Assault on Precinct 13 since the movie takes place in a central location and you a group that’s trying to storm the location and you have the inhabitants of the location defending it with their lives. The entire film is set in the nighttime which gives it this dark cold look. The use of the green colors for the demon’s eyes and blood along with the red used in the blood barriers that Brayker creates gives it a rave like glimpse. The make up work of the demons was well done despite at times I couldn’t make out the detail since their skin blended with the dark setting. The kill scenes in the movie have a mix of Evil Dead style kills and ones that would see in a Tales From The Crypt episode.

Instead of making an anthology movie like Creepshow or the Tales From The Darkside movie, the producers of Tales From The Crypt elected to present one story that would cover the full length of the movie. The gamble paid off. It’s a roller coaster of a flick. There wasn’t a moment for me where I watched it that I was getting bored. Demon Knight is unquestionably the best film of the three that were released. It’s one that fits in right with the box set of the television series.

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I hope you enjoyed these horror movie reviews for the month of October. I’m going to be taking a break from reviewing horror movies and will be focusing on other genres. Have a few movies already in development for future postings. Make sure you’re hitting that follow button to keep tabs on all the updates! Again, I wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween!

 

TRIVIA

  • Purposely released on Friday, January 13 because the Tales From The Crypt movies were originally to be tied with traditional “horror weekends” such as Friday the 13th or Halloween.
  • Birds had nested in the rafters of the set, which caused audio problems, so before each take the crew would shoot off a blank gunshot to startle and quiet the animals.
  • The studio originally wanted Cameron Diaz for the role of Jerryline, but director Ernest Dickerson convinced the producers to cast Jada Pinkett Smith instead.
  • The entire set was constructed practically in an abandoned airport hangar in Van Nuys, California. Since the bulk of the film was set over the course of a single night, this allowed the crew to shoot during the day.
  • The green slime was taken from Glowsticks which the FX crew disassembled.
  • Brayker says he received the key from a soldier named Dickerson, a reference to director Ernest R. Dickerson.
  • This movie marks William Sadler’s third appearance in “Tales From The Crypt”. He appeared as the lead character in the pilot episode “The Man Who Was Death” and had a brief appearance at the end of “The Assassin” playing The Grim Reaper, his character in “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.” He would later appear as a Mummy in the second “Tales From The Crypt” Movie “Bordello of Blood!”

 

AUDIO CLIPS 

Cryptkeeper Introduction

Too Late To Give Them A Ticket

Airbags, You Gotta Love Em

I Think He’s Looking For A Room Of His Own

Town Is That Way

Get That Pussy Off The Table

My Nipples Are Smoking

This Property Is Hereby Condemned

Give Me The Key

Right In The Eyes

Assholes Don’t Have Friends

You’re Gonna Have To Take It From Me

This Is For Four Years And Minimum Wage

You’re Talking Genesis

I’ll Get Back To You

You Wouldn’t Hurt Your Old Uncle Willy Would You Babe?

Come On Out Everybody

They’ll Look Like Last Week’s Leftovers

Creepshow 2

Release Date: May 1, 1987

Genre: Horror, Comedy, Fantasy  

Director: Michael Gornick    

Writers: Stephen King (Stories), George A. Romero (Screenplay)

Starring: George Kennedy, Tom Savini, Domenick John, Lois Chiles, Dorothy Lamour

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

We’re only a week away until Halloween (my favorite holiday of the year). As you could tell by the reviews that have been released this month, they are all horror related reviews. If you were reading Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review last year I did a special called Guiltiest Pleasure Horror Movies! This time around I tried to find some unique movies to review and discuss. For this week’s review I chose a movie that gets overlooked but has had a resurgence due to the new original series being played on Shudder.

What am I talking about? Of course, I’m referring to Creepshow! The original film from the team of Stephen King and George Romero which was an anthology film based on the old Tales From The Crypt EC Comic series from the 50s was a huge success with its frightening stories, amazing makeup and special effects and its macabre sense of humor. The television series on Shudder has been a big success as well as it returns to the look and feel of the original movie. Not many people realized there were not one, but two film sequels that were made. Unfortunately, Creepshow 3 is absolute garbage and is ranked among the worst horror movies ever made, so I chose to review Creepshow 2!

While the original film had five stories, Creepshow 2 shrinks the number down to three with animated wrap around segments featuring The Creep, which is voiced and played physically in the beginning by make up effects legend Tom Savini (whom also worked on the original film). The first story in the movie, Old Chief Wood’nhead stars screen legends George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour who play an elderly couple who run a general store that has a giant cigar store Native American “Old Chief Woodenhead” who guards the front then comes to life after thieves rob the store and kill the owners. The second story The Raft is about a group of college kids who go swimming in a lake that has a wooden raft in the middle. As they head to the raft, a floating black blob emerges and surrounds the kids as they reach the raft. After one of them is engulfed by the blob and dies, the rest are trapped on the raft trying to figure out how to get away from the blob before it consumes the rest of them. The final story in the film is titled The Hitch-Hiker, where an adulterous businesswoman, played by Lois Chiles who quickly tries to get back home before her husband does to avoid suspicion that she’s been at her lover’s house. She slips on a corner and kills a hitchhiker on the road. She leaves the area not helping the hitchhiker and continues to race home only to be followed by the hitchhiker at every turn.

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Michael Gornick takes over directorial duties from George Romero for the sequel and Stephen King returns to write the stories and the interludes (he even appears in a cameo). While Creepshow 2 is not as memorable nor iconic as the first movie, its satisfactory to those who like these kinds of movies. There’s plenty of gory moments, laughable dialogue and brings a moral framework to the stories. The animated interludes bring a new layer to the film series.

The special effects and makeup work in Creepshow 2 is passable, but it doesn’t match up to the work that Savini did in the fist movie (no one can, Savini is the master) . The movement of Old Chief Wood’nhead is authentic, and his facial expressions are slightly creepy. The blob in The Raft looked like they stretched out a black trash bag and had it float around, but the effects team gives it life through strings of tar as it pulls its victims into the water and the victim melts into nothingness. There’s plenty of blood along with some creative kills most notably in the first story.  Ed French was the original effects artist but left due to a falling out he had with Gornick. Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero replaced him. Nicotero is currently the executive producer of the Shudder series and has directed a couple of the episodes. No doubt his work on this film help get him this role.

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The stories themselves are slightly distinguishable, but I felt there should’ve been more of a variety. You essentially had all three stories of some kind of monster whether it was a ghost, creature or in this case the human beings. The Raft was actually an original short story written by King that was featured in the adult magazine Gallery back in 1982. This was my personal favorite of the three stories. The blob is reminiscent of an oil slick and King was influenced by pollution in the environment and the effects that it has on our earth.

Finally, the acting. While the first film had a barrage of familiar faces, there’s only a few established actors in this sequel. I’m always thrilled to see George Kennedy in a movie. He plays the friendly compassionate store owner in the first story which is a role that suits him well. Lois Chiles, best known as Bond girl Holly Goodhead was a surprise in the film thinking this was something out of her league, but she did a fine job as the sexaholic businesswoman Anne Lansing. My favorite performance of the movie comes from Holt McCallany who plays Sam Whitemoon in Old Chief Wood’nhead. He’s the leader of the group who ransack the general store and kill the owners. He’s detestable but has quite a few memorable lines which you’ll hear in the audio clips below.

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I would have to say that Creepshow 2 is a movie strictly for the fans. For those who haven’t seen the original movie, I highly recommend watching that first before moving on to this film and the television series. While more could’ve been done in this particular film, it’s a satisfactory sequel. It would rank in my Top 10 Horror Anthology movies with its predecessor undoubtedly claiming the top spot.

Stay tuned next week as there will be one more horror film to be presented before Halloween on Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review!

TRIVIA

  • Daniel Beer, who played Randy in the segment, “The Raft”, almost died from hypothermia, the water was so cold, his body turned green. The crew wanted him to continue acting, but Director Michael Gornick said if they get him to keep working, he will walk off the set and never return. So they took him to the hospital, and he made a full recovery, and completed the segment of “The Raft”.
  • Dorothy Lamour’s last film (segment “Old Chief Wood’nhead”).
  • Make-up Artist Ed French left the film amidst the filming of “The Raft”, after being snubbed by Director Michael Gornick, who turned to Howard Berger for advice on how to fix the blob monster in the lake. Berger and Greg Nicotero finished the remaining effects in the film without French.
  • David Holbrook appeared in the segment “Old Chief Wood’nhead”. His father, Hal Holbrook, starred in Creepshow (1982) (segment “The Crate”).
  • Barbara Eden was originally cast as the hit-and-run driver Annie Lansing during the last segment, “The Hitch-Hiker”; but had to drop out prior to filming, due to her mother falling ill.
  • Much of the soundtrack was performed by legendary keyboardist Rick Wakeman of the English prog-rock band Yes.
  • CAMEO: Stephen King: The truck driver in “The Hitchhiker” segment.

 

AUDIO CLIPS

Creep Introduction

Jimmy Crack Corn

Shove This In His Mouth

Why Don’t You Run Us Out Of Town?

Move Lady

This Hair Is Gonna Get Me Paid And Laid

Venus Fly Trap Bulb

I’m Pre-Med

Balls Are Going To Turn Into Ice Cubes

Don’t Tip The Raft

It’s An Oil Slick

I’m Gonna Smoke You

Well Swimmers

I Counted Six Orgasms

That Really Is Impossible

I Went To Get Laid, George

You’re Seeing Things Bitch

Thanks For The Ride, Lady

Time For This Boogeyman To Boogey

Inhumanwich!

Release Date: December 15, 2016

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy

Director: David Cornelius   

Writer: David Cornelius

Starring: Matt Laumann, Michael Peake, Jack Burrows, Kayla Clark, Jake Robinson

 

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

Since we’re in the middle of Halloween season, we’re going to go from one creature feature movie to another. We go from an alien parasite who injects his victims with a drug like juice to a giant monster made of human, radioactive substance and ground beef. This next movie in “Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review” came out of nowhere like something falling from the sky. The first thing that caught my attention was the movie title followed by the image of a Sloppy Joe with teeth. The title of the movie was called “Inhumanwich!”

“Inhumanwich” is a Sci-Fi/Horror/Comedy about an astronaut returning back to earth from a space mission. As he prepares to eat a Sloppy Joe sandwich his wife made him for his trip, he gets caught in an asteroid field damaging the ship’s reactor core. Radiation leaks out which gets on him and the sandwich. When he crash-lands in a wooded area, he slowly turns into a meat monster with tentacles. From there it wrecks having in a small southern Ohio town eating one human to another causing it to grow in size. The scientists at NASA team up with the military to stop this creature before it consumes any more victims.

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Written and directed by David Cornelius, “Inhumanwich!” is a throwback to the silly sci-fi monster movies of the fifties. It’s shot entirely in black and white which gives it that authenticity of being a movie from that era. The look of the film is amateurish in nature complete with a local cast and crew, but they all work well together to create a film that doesn’t take itself seriously which makes it enjoyable.

I love the fact that the movie takes place in Ohio. The crew is from Cincinnati and the entire film is shot there. The filmmakers decided to give Dayton (my hometown) its own NASA Mission Control Center. I’m telling you right now, we don’t have an actual Mission Control Center here, but we do have the National Air Force and Space Museum. Other than that, the film does a good job showcasing the area with its suburban neighborhoods and heavily wooded areas.

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Like a cheesy monster movie from the fifties, the performances are filled with familiar characters found in most of those films. You have the stereotypical housewife who shows concerns (or lack thereof) of her husband, scientists who come up with ways of stopping the monster only for it to backfire and the military officers complete with firepower who’s only remedy to the situation is to shower it with bullets. There’s plenty of gags and situations with the characters that it reminds me of something “Monty Python” would do.

As for the star of the movie, the creature is essentially a giant meatloaf with eyes and tentacles. The first time you see it, he is chasing a hunter using fast motion effects. I was literally chocking on my sandwich as I saw this. The creature essentially eats the meat of its victims leaving the bones behind as shown in various shots of skeletons that looked like they were bought from a Halloween Store. It has the ability to camouflage itself with any ground meat as shown in one particular scene. I have to give the filmmakers props for coming up with an ingenious creation.

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The film makes do a good job of limiting the use of special effects in “Inhumanwich!”  There’s a mix of physical effects with ones that were done on a computer. They didn’t lessen my enjoyment as I continued through the structured and easy to follow plot. One thing is for sure is that David Cornelius made sure to throw every fifties sci-fi monster trope out there and many were able to stick.

“Inhumanwich!” is a great throwback to the monster movies of the era. I give the filmmakers much kudos for creating a funny and entertaining movie. If you’re sick of the big budget monster flicks, this is the total opposite. It makes you want to go back and revisit those style of films. Who knows? Maybe someday we can get a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” riff of this movie!

 

TRIVIA

  • N/A

 

AUDIO CLIPS

Introduction

Two Way Communication

Meeting The President

Meteors?

Talking To Lisa

Worse Than I Thought

Need A Minute To Stand Up

Meat Being Consumed By Meat

His Hunch And My Hunch Are The Same Hunch

Really Fast And Had A Lot Of Knives

Could Be Raccoons?

Radiation Turned Him Into A Merman

Like A Sloppy Joe

Lisa Speaking To Joe

Quite A Lot To See In The City

Need A Competitive Eater

Lakota

Release Date: October 11,  2019

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Director: John Sciarretta

Writer: John Sciarretta

Starring: John Sciarretta

As stated in previous postings here at “Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review” there will be times where we will break from the norms of reviewing movies that you may love (or hate) for some special reviews. This happens to be one of those occasions. Special thanks to John Sciarretta who reached out to me on Twitter asking me to check out his short film “Lakota” which he just released. I watched it last night and prepared a review for all of you to read. Because this is a short film, I will do my best not to give any spoilers or major plot points away.

I’ll start out with the synopsis of “Lakota.” Sciarretta plays Michael Garver, a shoe salesman from Exeter, New Hampshire who goes for a hike in a remote trail on the afternoon of September 23, 2019 to never return. Investigators find his phone in the woods and what they uncover would be traumatic.

“Lakota” is an eighteen minute short film which was filmed for no money and the medium used to shoot the film was an iPhone (which is becoming the new thing from recent articles I’ve read). It’s essentially a found footage film inspired by “The Blair Witch Project.” It focuses on a single character and everything that has happened to the character is through their words, descriptions and actions.

While this concept is nothing new, I did enjoy the film for its use of metaphor and giving a performance that is not forced or enunciates. Sciarretta starts out dictating on his phone what he’s seen throughout his hike and with every new update, there is a startling revelation. The realization that Michael is lost in the woods translates into Michael is getting lost in his mind. You see the slow breakdown of his psyche until it becomes uncontrollable. It’s a good performance because it is a real person in a real world scenario where most people would react the same way if they’re lost and start to lose hope.

Sciarretta’s performance is good, however if there’s anything he could’ve added to it would be he altered his appearance with every passing day. For example, I would’ve loved to see perhaps his clothes muddy, dirty or torn to show despair or perhaps scratches on his face to show that Michael is having a physical deterioration in addition to a mental deterioration.

“Lakota” is a decent short film that looks and feels like a real event that occurred. It’s a movie which can give aspiring filmmakers motivation to go out and make something for nothing. You don’t need a big camera or cheesy special effects to make your art. It comes down to the characters, story and the setting which this film hits all three on the bulls eye.

You can watch “Lakota” right here below! Thank you again to John Sciarretta for sharing this film with everyone!

 

Adam Cook is the Founder and Editor of “Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review” since it’s inception January 2018. He is also a contributing writer for “Braindead Network.  For inquiries please contact him at adam.cook87@yahoo.com and on Twitter @GPCRMovies