Sunday, October 29, 2017

Short Film: A Charlie Brown Christmas Reunion (2012)

Way back in October, 2016, we unearthed the old but perennially entertaining student film, Bring the Head of Charlie Brown (1986). 
Darned if we didn't stumble upon another fun short that takes aim at CB and the Peanuts gang. This short is actually more Christmas-themed and thus would perhaps be more appropriate for December, but not only did we notice the full year since the last time we looked at the Peanuts, but Christmas shit is already in the stores anyways.

"The first strip from October 2, 1950. From left to right: Charlie Brown, Shermy, and Patty."

A Charlie Brown Christmas Reunion is far less violent and ridiculous and guffaw-inducing than last year's Head, but for that oddly effective and affective and closer to the bone.
The short is the product of the fine people at ADHD (Animation Domination High Def), many of whose past projects deserve rediscovery. Till then, welcome to life and aging.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

R.I.P.: Umberto Lenzi

6 August 1931 – 19 October 2017

"A mostly unsung titan has passed." The great Umberto Lenzi has left us! In a career that spanned over 30 years, the Italian director churned out fine quality as well as crappy Eurotrash and cult favorites in all genres: comedy, peplum, Eurospy, spaghetti westerns and macaroni combat, poliziotteschi, cannibal and giallo.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Misc. Film Fun – Two Music Videos that Tell Stories

The Australian electronic music group The Avalanches does some pretty groovy music videos. The visuals to their songs Frank Sinatra (2016), Subways (2016), and Frontier Psychiatrist (2000) are excellent — as are the songs. But the video to Since I Left You, the title track to their first album (2000), does a bit more than just offer good visuals: it tells a story, admittedly one that only truly becomes apparent (and bittersweet) during the last seconds. Directed by Rob Leggatt and Leigh Marling, the video won "Best Video" at the 2001 MTV Europe Music Awards. A blast from the past, so to speak.
The Avalanches —
Since I Left You:

Next up, a music video to wipe away all the wistful poignancy left behind by Since I Left You. "Mr. Oizo" is the pseudonym of French electronic musician and film director Quentin Dupieux, a man possibly best known as the director of the decidedly surreal (and bloody) love-it-or-hate-it horror comedy, Rubber (2010 / trailer), about a killer car tire with telekinetic powers. (For which, actually, "Mr Oizo" supplies some music.) 
Oddly enough, for his 2014 electro-release Ham, Dupieux / Mr. Oizo didn't do the video but, instead, called upon Eric Wareheim (whose oeuvre of numerous entertaining music videos also includes the oddly disquieting ode to twerking that is the video to Major Lazer's Bubble Butt [2013]). For Ham, Wareheim directed a violent ode to America's penchant for obesity and guns, and our greatest national holiday, Black Friday. And while Wareheim himself calls the video a nightmarish vision of what America might become, we at A Wasted Life would say that it is already an accurate reflection of today's national soul and the general appearance of Trump's nation. 
Starring John C. Reilly, of Life After Beth (2014 / trailer), the disappointing remake Dark Water (2005 / trailer), and Tale of Tales (2015 / trailer).
Mr. Oizo —

Saturday, October 14, 2017

R.I.P.: Tobe Hooper, Part II: 1983 – 1991

25 Jan 1943 — 26 Aug 2017

Like George Romero (4 Feb 1940 – 16 July 2017), director Hooper was possibly plagued by the fact that his first general release feature-film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), was such a stylistic and influential masterpiece that there was no place for him to go but down. But for all the bad or mediocre movies he made, he still made more one more masterpiece than most directors, as well as a small number of early career horror movies of note. May he rest in peace.

Go here for Part I: 1964 – 1990

Billy Idol: Dancing with Myself
(1983, dir. Tobe Hooper) 
OK, nowadays it is relatively common for film directors to be former music video directors, but back in the early to mid-80s, when MTV exploded onto the American public — yes, hard to believe, but MTV was once new and exciting — and suddenly music videos were all the rage, name directors were suddenly doing music videos. The most famous example is probably John Landis's 14-minute short film music video for Michael Jackson's Thriller (video), though Martin Scorsese outdid him by an additional around three minutes when he directed Jackson's Bad (video).
Less well-known is that Tobe Hooper did a music video, too. But not for the Moonwalker: he did one for the former sneering "bad boy" of pop, Billy Idol, aka William Michael Albert Broad, who is now long a respectable, past middle-aged daddy. And while one would think that alone by title, topic, source, Eyes Without a Face (trailer to Georges Franju's 1960 film Les yeux sans visage, the film that inspired that song) would be the song Hooper filmed, it is not. Instead, Hooper did the extremely 80s-looking video to Dancing with Myself. As far as we know, it is also the only music video he ever directed.

Return of the Living Dead
(1985, writ. & dir. Dan O'Bannon [30 Sept 1946 – 17 Dec 2009]
After The Thing (see Part I), this movie here is the second 80s classic that Tobe Hooper almost directed. Oddly enough, though Return of the Living Dead was a success, O'Bannon only ever directed one other movie, the unjustly unknown take on Lovecraft, The Resurrected (1991 / trailer). But, of course, he remained well-employed as a scriptwriter — including for Tobe Hooper's next two disasters, Lifeforce (1985) and Invaders from Mars (1986).
Indeed, it was the three-picture deal that Cannon films offered Hooper, the films of which we will look at after this one, that led him to drop this project. According to Slash Film: "Ferdinando Baldi (Whip and the Body [1963 / trailer]) eventually dropped out of the project [Space Vampires]. [...] Around this time, Tobe Hooper was struggling to find work at the studios. With limited options, he signed on to direct a $4 million sequel to Night of the Living Dead (1968 / trailer). Shortly after doing so, Menahem Golan offered him a chance to direct a much larger movie: Space Vampires, which was budgeted at $25 million. Tempted by the offer, Hooper exited Return of the Living Dead and was replaced with his hand-picked successor: Dan O'Bannon, a well-known sci-fi filmmaker most famous for writing Alien (1979 / trailer)."
Originally intended to be a "serious" horror movie based on John Russo's novel sequel to the classic George Romero movie, O'Bannon retooled the movie as a comedy and introduced the whole concept of zombie's eating brains instead of simply human flesh. A critical success, it even went on to spawn four sequels of varying lesser quality: Ken Wiederhorn's Return of the Living Dead, Part II (1988 / trailer), Brian Yuzna's Return of the Living Dead III (1993 / trailer), Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005 / trailer) and Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005 / trailer). John Russo also wrote a "living dead" movie later, Children of the Living Dead (1998 / trailer), but it had nothing to do with the series and is generally considered terrible.
One of the first zombie flicks to present fast and/or thinking zombies, Return of the Living Dead is a great and hilarious movie of the kind they just don't make anymore. If we ever had a quibble with the flick, it was that it always seemed to us that the mixture of the friends in the graveyard was too diverse: a real clique, of that time and we assume today, would never be as varied as the one in this flick. But at least they don't have the singular quota-filling Afro-American that is de rigueur today, and always one of the first to go.
The plot, according to the 2,500 Movie Challenge: "Freddy (Thom Mathews) and Frank (James Karen), two hapless employees working at a medical supply warehouse, inadvertently release a lethal gas that resurrects the dead and transforms them into bloodthirsty monsters. With the help of their boss, Burt (Clu Galager), as well as Ernie (Don Calfa [3 Dec 1939 – 1 Dec 2016]), who runs the morgue next door, Freddy and Frank do what they can to 'clean up' their mistake before anyone finds out about it. But when the gas infects the air, then spreads by way of a rainstorm to the nearby cemetery, it awakens hundreds of corpses, all of whom now have a craving for human brains."
Trailer to
Return of the Living Dead:

(1985,  dir. Tobe Hooper) 

"John Fowles once told me that the film The Magus [1968 / trailer] was the worst movie ever made. After seeing Lifeforce, I sent him a postcard, telling him I had gone one better."
Colin Wilson in Dreaming to Some Purpose

Lifeforce was the first movie of Tobe Hooper's three-picture deal with The Cannon Group, Inc./Golan-Globus Productions, a company whose roots could be traced to the release of such  masterpieces as Joseph W. Sarno's Inga (1968 / trailer). By the 80s, they were considered one of the most successful independent producers of Hollywood, but a series of bad business decisions — of which Hooper's 3-film deal was arguably part — caused the company to fold. (For their story, you might wanna check out the two documentaries Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films [2014 / trailer] and The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films [2014 / trailer].)
As Hooper himself said in an interview, prior to everything going south, "Cannon was really a good company to work for... both Yoram (Globus) and Menahem (Golan) loved the movies and the filmmakers, and really treated them well. It seemed more, when I was there, like maybe what the old system was like. I miss that kind of showmanship and risk-taking." 
Trailer to
We caught Lifeforce in the cinema, if you can imagine that. After all, it wasn't like we were going to miss a Hooper film based on Colin Wilson's novel The Space Vampires and written by Dan O'Bannon, the guy who — aside from making Return of the Living Dead — also wrote Dark Star (1974 / trailer), Alien (1979 / trailer) and Dead & Buried (1981 / trailer). 
Well, we absolutely loved Mathilda May and her fantastic body — supposedly she only spends about 7 naked minutes of time on screen, but it seems like more — but really found the movie a piece of shite. It annoyed us to realize that we had already seen a kiddy version of the movie many times before on Count Gore de Vol's afternoon Creature Feature show as a kid, namely Hammer's Quatermass and the Pit / Five Million Years to Earth (1967 / trailer).
Years later, we saw Lifeforce again and found the movie a lot better, but now, we can hardly remember anything about it other than Mathilda May and her fantastic body. One day, we might watch it again because, as Final Girl says, "This film is probably Tobe Hooper's most ambitious [movie] [...] and it's a delightful (though a wee overlong) '80s romp, the likes of which you don't much see nowadays. There really aren't enough naked space vampires in the world of cinema today, don't you agree?" 
Over at fandango, they have a plot description written by Paul Brenner: "The story concerns a joint British-American space probe of Hailey's Comet. Inside the comet, the astronauts, headed by Carlsen (Steve Railsback of Disturbing Behavior [1998] and Ed Gein [2000]), find a spaceship that contains the dead bodies of several aliens, along with the naked bodies of three human-like creatures in suspended animation. They bring the aliens aboard the ship for examination, but the specimens are sloppily guarded and soon the trio spread contagion among the population of the ship. Returning to earth, the beautiful space vampire (Mathilda May) escapes into London and begins to feed of the bodies of the unwary Britons, turning the city into a zombie-populated wasteland. It is now left for Carlsen to stop the vampire invaders."
366 Weird Movies muses, "Lifeforce is a grandly cheesy and frequently nonsensical mishmash of B-movie cliches, and a great movie to watch with a six-pack on hand. Although it's loony, offbeat and fun, it's ultimately too lightweight and not quite systematically deranged enough to rank as one of the greatest weird movies of all time. [...] The flick would still be worthwhile without Mathilda, but her nude performance adds that certain something that lodges the movie in the cinematic consciousness. Add in early Industrial Light and Magic-style special effects, with electric blue rays shooting everywhere in sight during the vampire zombie apocalypse as stolen human souls merge together and climb into a great glowing column shooting up to the alien mothership, and you have a film that's visually unforgettable." 
When the movie came out, Hooper was the director to hate, as he remained for most of the rest of his career. But people are beginning to reevaluate some of his former supposed fuckups, and Lifeforce is one to which a new tune is now being sung. Daily Dread is one of the many websites that looks at Lifeforce, Tobe Hooper's "celebration of excess", with a different eyes than the masses of the 80s: "[...] A lot of the audience for Lifeforce assumed Hooper didn't know what he was doing — they concluded that the movie just got away from him. Nope. Tobe Hooper knew exactly the movie he was making. Lifeforce is a crazy movie. It was designed as a crazy movie. It succeeds at being a crazy movie. Had it been released under its original title, Space Vampires, the movie might have been better received. A title like that is a little more upfront about what kind of movie one can expect. [...] Thirty years later, though, audiences are more at ease with the kind of postmodern epic Hooper created — a movie that borrows a little from a dozen other influences and blends them together into something wholly original. It's a movie that is part science fiction and part horror, part ponderous and part pulp, part Hammer horror, part Quatermass and part Romero. It knows exactly what it is and is exactly what it wants to be: a highly sexual apocalyptic space opera on a massive scale. For years, Tobe Hooper has been one of the most underrated of all the original Masters of Horror and Lifeforce is his most underrated film."
Final Girl, on the other hand, sees the message the mayhem wanted to convey: "Lest you think that Lifeforce is nothing but a naked effects extravaganza, however, let me assure you: this movie has a deeper message. That message is revealed when, as he tries to explain his attraction to Space Girl, Carlsen states: 'She killed all my friends and I still didn't want to leave. Leaving her was the hardest thing I ever did.' See? It's all a metaphor for relationships. We've all had at least one of 'em: your girlfriend or boyfriend completely sucks the life out of you, all your friends hate him or her, your friendships fall apart and you're left weak, lethargic, and a mere shell of your former self... and yet, you stay with him or her for no reason beyond the fact that he's cute or she has great tits. Lifeforce lesson #4: relationships will kill you!"

Invaders from Mars
(1986, dir. Tobe Hooper) 
Some might say that Mathilda May's wonderful "pair of enormous gazongas" helped destroy Hooper's career, but it actually took a few more films for that to happen. For us, we finally wrote Hooper off when, in 1990, we sat through this piece of shit here and Spontaneous Combustion (1990) in one truly wasted night. 
Trailer to
Invaders from Mars (1986):
The original Invaders from Mars, from 1953, is a minor classic directed by William Cameron Menzies that belongs to the alien-invasion cum red-scare genre of 1950s science fiction. It is not a movie that really needed a remake, but then the man who instigated the production, Wade Williams, is a millionaire film fan who can afford to instigate odd, possibly pointless, projects. (In 1992, for example, he instigated and produced an even more pointless remake, the failed version of Edgar G. Ulmer's Poverty Row classic Detour [1945 / trailer / movie].)
Of the original cast in Menzies' version of Invaders from Mars, Jimmy Hunt, who played the kid in the 1953 film (David Maclean), plays the Police Chief in the 1986 version.
Trailer to
Invaders from Mars (1953):
The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Review, as always, has the plot: "Young David Gardner (Hunter Carson) sees a UFO go down beyond the hill behind his house during the middle of a thunderstorm. In the morning, David's father (Timothy Bottoms) goes to investigate. He returns and insists on taking David's mother (Larraine Newman) behind the hill as well. After they return, both appear changed and behaving in very strange ways. David sees there are now strange marks at the base of their necks. He confesses his story to school nurse Linda Magnusson (Karen Black) and the two of them uncover a network of tunnels under the hillside, dug by invading Martians who are taking over the minds of the locals. Together they alert the military as the Martians, with an army of mind-controlled humans, try to sabotage a NASA Mars launch."
And while there are a few brave, misguided souls out there that now claim that this film, like so many of Hooper's, was misunderstood when released and should be reappraised, we here at A Wasted Life are of the opinion that sometimes shit is shit, and thus stays shit. Still, as Video Graveyard says, "[This] remake of the 1953 sci-fi classic has some good names behind it […] so it's hard to fathom why it turned out such a low-scale feeling pile of junk." To be fair, the movie is not all that bad the first third of the way; it just falls apart thereafter and becomes an annoying, totally unenjoyable and aggravating experience. (One could easily imagine that judgments were affected by chemical substances.)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
(1986, dir. Tobe Hooper)
Written by Lewis Minor "Kit" Carson (12 Aug 1941 – 20 Oct 2014). When we saw this movie at the time of its original release, we were already totally hyped due to the script excerpts that had been printed in some "serious" movie magazine, the name of which we've forgotten. We expected a lot, and we weren't disappointed. 
Trailer to
TCM Part 2:
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has little in common with TCM I, but we immediately understood it for what it was: an over-the-top, bloody and blackly comic critique of Ronald Reagan's America and the yuppie mentality. We loved it — we would even agree to an extent with Mick Garris, who has called the movie "a masterpiece" — and were never able to understand why everyone hated it, or why it was such a flop.
Hooper himself, however, had perhaps the correct insight to why it failed at its release: "I was just going to produce it and I couldn't find a director. Literally, I couldn't find anyone my budget would afford, a director whose work I knew, so I ended up running out of time and directing it myself. In doing so, I amplified the comedy and, I think, gave the general audience exactly what they did not want. I think they expected more of the same [as in TCM I]."
The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre, which rates the sequel of its namesake "Of Some Interest", has a bare-boned plot description: "A high-budgeted revisitation and sequel many years later by Hooper himself. The result is a loss of all realism and the original disturbing, horrifying effect replaced by twisted, gory and even humorous and campy entertainment with fancy sets full of Fellini-esque imagery. The story revolves around a relative of one of the original victims psychotically obsessed with finding and killing the murderers with his own chainsaw, and a female radio DJ who overheard a recent chainsaw murder take place and consequentially gets involved. The twisted family is still very much demented in various ways and nastily preoccupied with human slaughter, skin, bone and edible flesh."
Indeed, had Fellini ever directed a blood-drenched satire with special effects by Tom Savini , it might have looked like something like this sometimes highly disturbing black comedy. In any event, with the third feature-film critical and financial failure in a row to his name, Tobe Hooper moved onwards to television.

Amazing Stories — Miss Stardust
(1987, dir. Tobe Hooper)
Amazing Stories was an anthology series created by Steven Spielberg that originally ran on NBC in the United States from 1985 to 1987. He took the title from the famous and influential magazine of the same name launched in 1926 that more or less survived, with pauses and under various titles, for 80 years. The show was not a success and was not renewed after the originally run ended. Tobe Hooper directed the last episode, Miss Stardust, based on a short story originally written by Richard Matheson published in 1955. Scriptwriter Thomas E. Szollosi — who shares the screenplay credit with Matherson's son, Richard Christian Matheson — is a busy TV scribe who also has a few feature film scripts to his credit, the best being Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997 / trailer) and the worst It Waits (2005 / trailer).
The plot, according to Wikipedia: "An alien (Weird Al Yankovic) threatens to destroy Earth if the Miss Stardust beauty pageant doesn't allow contestants from other worlds."
The blogsite Indiana Junkie is the only site we found that thought the episode was worth writing about: "The anthology show was heavily hyped before its debut as creator Steven Spielberg bringing his 'magic' to the small screen. By the time Hooper's episode debuted, however, the public has tuned out as they figured out early on that the stories were anything but remarkable. […] It seems only fitting that this would close out the series as it encapsulates everything that was wrong with the show as it isn't amazing in the slightest. […] This is one of those entries that make you sit back and wonder why they even bothered. […] And, as was endemic in the series, they felt they could just throw money on the screen to fool viewers they are watching good stuff. The production values are all top notch and there are three elaborate aliens that look awful but you know cost a bundle. On the plus side, Hooper did load the cast for this half hour episode with some genre vets including Jim Siedow (the cook from TCM), James Karen, Anthony James and Angel Thompkins. Maybe he knew it was a 'take the money and run' kind of deal so he hooked friends up?" 
The movie everyone remembers Angel Thompkins for —
The Teacher (1974):

Freddy's Nightmares — No More Mr. Nice Guy
(1988, dir. Tobe Hooper)
Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984 / trailer) is, of course, a classic; A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985 / trailer), an entertaining failure; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987 / trailer), a viable and entertaining sequel featuring one of our fav minor actresses, Jennifer Rubin; A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988 / trailer) had an attractive heroine, Lisa Wilcox as Alice, and a head-trip of an interlude in which a scene repeats itself; we can't remember anything about either A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989 / trailer) or Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991 / trailer), and have yet to see any of the others, New Nightmare (1994 / trailer), Freddy vs. Jason (2003 / trailer), and the failed reboot, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010 / trailer).
Yep, Freddy got flogged more than a month of dead horses. And aside from all the movies, he also was used for two different TV series, the first of which was Freddy's Nightmares, which ran for 44 episodes between 1988 and 1990. For the most part, it was an anthology series with Freddy (Robert Englund) acting as the host, much like the Cryptkeeper in the indefinitely better Tales from the Crypt (1989-96). Occasionally he was also part of the given episode's storyline, as in the first episode, No More Mr. Nice Guy, which was directed by Tobe Hooper.
The stories invariably took place in Springwood, Ohio, the same town as in the movies, and above all on Elm Street, the titular street of the franchise. No More Mr. Nice Guy was the story of Freddy's origin, though i-mockery does point out, "There are definitely some plot holes in this baby. If you remember in the original Elm Street, Nancy's mom (Ronee Blakley) explained the story about what really happened to Freddy, and it's definitely different from some of the stuff in this show. But hey, Nancy's mom was a friggin' lush anyway." 
Nightmare on Elm Street Wiki has the actual plot: "A man (Freddy Krueger) has been brutally slaying various children. But after he attempts to attack a police officer's twin daughters, he is finally captured and put on trial. During the trial, it is revealed Freddy was never read his rights, and Freddy is let free. The victims' angry parents form a mob and burn Freddy alive, but he has not been killed, and seeks revenge on the police officer (Ian Patrick Williams) who arrested him."
411 Mania points out, "The second half of the episode concerns Blocker [the police officer] and his apparent mental-breakdown following that night's events. At first it seems like this is just a result of Blocker's guilt over what he has done, but not surprisingly it is eventually revealed to be the work of Freddy, who claims Blocker as his first dream victim during a horrific visit to the dentist. This is sort of weird to me, too — if Freddy was already able to infiltrate people's dreams so soon after his death, why did he then wait another 18 years or so before going after the children of those who killed him?" 
In any event, in 1988 Tobe Hooper could pay the rent thanks to this and an episode of the TV series The Equalizer (1985-89) that he also directed, entitled No Place Like Home.

I'm Dangerous Tonight
(1990, dir. Tobe Hooper)
Tobe Hooper directs his second TV Movie, 11 years after Salem's Lot, this time a "horror thriller" loosely based on a short story by the tragic Cornell Woolrich (4 Dec 1903 – 25 Sept 1968). I'm Dangerous Tonight has also been released on DVD. The teleplay was adapted by regular TV scribes/producers Bruce Lansbury (12 January 1930 – 13 Feb 2017) and Philip John Taylor. Taylor's only feature film credit is the script to Paul Bartel's Lust in the Dust (1985 / trailer). I'm Dangerous Tonight was remade seven years later by Russell Mulcahy as an episode of the TV horror anthology series The Hunger (1997-2000), a series which some prude on imdb described as "Big budget softcore aimed at pseudo-intellectuals who cannot admit that they watch porn.
Trailer to
I'm Dangerous Tonight:
About the source story, Fiction DB says, "I'm Dangerous Tonight is one of Woolrich's short stories classified as a novella based upon its length. It was originally published in the first edition of the new monthly pulp magazine, All-American Fiction, in 1937. Not known for writing supernatural stories, this particular work is one of few where Woolrich crossed into that genre."
At All Movie, Cavett Binion supplies a synopsis: "The plot involves a possessed Aztec ceremonial cloak (once used to line a sacred burial chamber) which poisons the soul of anyone who wears it. An improbable string of events sees the cloak turned into a little slip of a dress — donned by several different women, but worn to evil perfection by Madchen Amick […]." But then, Madchen Amick (Priest [2011 / trailer], Sleepwalkers [1992 / trailer] and The Borrower [1991 / trailer], among other stuff) has always looked good in anything she wears.
The cast has a number of interesting faces: Anthony Perkins is there for exposition as Professor Buchanan, R. Lee Ermey chews cigars as Lieutenant Ackman, Natalie "Eunice 'Lovey' Wentworth Howell" Schafer (5 Nov 1900 – 10 April 1991) of Gilligan's Island makes her last on-screen performance as the greedy granny, and Dee Wallace acts against type as Wanda Thatcher. The strangest face in the cast, however, is Eurotrash great William Berger (20 June 1928 – 2 Oct 1993, of Dial: Help [1988], Dr. M [1990], Django II [1987] and much, much more) as Jonas Wilson, the first person to fall under the spell of the red cloth.
Indiana Junkie says, "Hooper's direction is very workmanlike […]. There are even a few bits that are downright embarrassing. For example, Amy's entrance into the dance is hilarious as everyone rubber necks at her and Gloria even jumps in front of her boyfriend as if to protect him. And wait until you get a load of the music and white guys dancing. Later, Hooper offers one of the most unintentionally funny bits of his career when Amick has a tug of war with her wheelchair-bound grandmother over the dress. The prospect of Hooper working with Perkins is certainly intriguing, but Perkins dials it down in terms of his trademark oddball performances and is only in the thing for a total of maybe 15 minutes."

Spontaneous Combustion
(1990, writ & dir Tobe Hooper)
It was the night that we watched this piece of shit along with his earlier piece of shit, Invaders from Mars (1986), that made us we decide we would no longer bother with Tobe Hooper films. Spontaneous Combustion rates up there as one of the worst movies we ever saw, all the more worse because it wasn't even fun bad. It's just bad.
Supposedly it was nominated for best film at the 1991 Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Awards, but if that's true then they must have been fucking desperate. The movie was a deserved flop. 
Used in the movie —
I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire
by The Ink Spots:
Mondo Digital, which actually, unbelievably, bravely claims that "time has been surprisingly kind to the film thanks to its surprising visual flair (especially in the second half) and Dourif's excellent performance", has the plot: "Here Dourif is cast as Sam, a man with a reasonably happy life and a nice girlfriend (Cynthia Bain of Pumpkinhead [1988 / trailer]), but he's haunted by the horrible fate of his parents who spontaneously burst into flame just after he was born. Both were subjected to covert experiments in atomic radiation by the government back in the '50s, and that seems to have some bearing on his predicament now: he can control fire and electricity, but each time he uses his power, it deteriorates him physically. On top of that someone's running around killing people with a poison-filled syringe straight out of Re-Animator (1985), and the local nuclear power plant (which apparently accounts for most of the incoming cash for the town in which this is set) seems to have a sinister agenda involving our hapless protagonist and his literally fiery rage issues." 
Bloody Pit, which unlike us sees some "bad film" potential to the move, points out some flaws: "While this starts out fairly well with the 1950s segment, it only gets progressively worse from there. The plot is unfocused and meandering, there's so much stuffed in here that pretty much every plot thread ends up under-baked or just gets tossed to the side altogether, the John Dykstra special effects are highly variable (ranging from excellent to awful) and everything leads up to a truly terrible finale that's unsatisfying, anticlimactic and utterly senseless. What gives with the birthmark? What gives with Sam briefly acquiring clairvoyant abilities and being able to see into not only his past but other (dead!) people's lives? What gives with the syringe of glowing green goop a mad doctor/assassin wants to inject Sam and Lisa with? What gives with Sam being able to cause people to spontaneously burst into flames at will and from afar yet not using these powers on the people he knows mean to do him harm? The piss-poor writing/plot development does provide the occasional unintended laugh and 'WTF just happened?!' moment, so this has that much going for it."
Trailer to
Spontaneous Combustion:
We here at A Wasted Life simply see Spontaneous Combustion as a crappy movie and a deserved flop with an all-over-the-place story — but Brad Dorouf once gave an explanation for the plot problems: "[…] My feeling is, the producers destroyed it. Tobe could have made three different movies with the material he had, and each one would have worked. But by the time he got it, it had changed from a love story to a suspense thriller about my character's paranoid fantasy, to a guy-goes-crazy film about this insane killer who becomes a destructive force that's going to wipe out mankind. We went back and kind of restructured it as a love story, but it didn't really help. The beginning of the film was great, and a certain portion of my stuff was fine, but then it became stupid when all the flame stuff started happening."

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
(1990, dir. Jeff Burr)
OK, Tobe Hooper had absolutely nothing to do with this movie, except: "Characters by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel". 
New Line bought the rights to TCM from Cannon in the hopes of creating a franchise along the lines of their Nightmare flicks. The movie was a flop, but that didn't stop more Chainsaw films from coming. Of the cast, the only names of interest is a young Viggo Mortensen, playing Leatherface's bro Eddie 'Tex' Sawyer, and Ken Foree as the survivalist cum hero Benny. 
(made before the film was made):
Absolute Horror says "Leatherface is the most disappointing of the TCM movies — mostly because it doesn't take us anywhere new.  But then again, with the exception of Part 2, none of them really do. Ultimately, almost every TCM film follows the same formula as part one, just does it a bit more slickly.  The formula is: normal people, driving through Texas, meet seemingly normal other people, break down, find out that seemingly normal other people are in fact part of insane, inbred, mutant cannibalistic family, Leatherface comes out with a chainsaw, and inevitably some woman survives the whole thing. And there, in a nutshell, is the plot of TCM 3. […] But all of it just feels a bit half-baked. Really, if you want to get a disturbingly off-beat horror movie, then watch the first installment. If you want some over-the-top camp, then watch the second. But why take a step back and watch a mediocre re-imagining of Part 1? There's no real point to it.
An opinion shared by the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review, where Richard Scheib is of the opinion that "The more one compares Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III to the original, the lamer it ends up seeming. Kate Hodge's torture and pursuit by Leatherface is ludicrously mild in comparison to the nightmarish violation and pursuit of Marilyn Burns in the original. The plot weakly imitates the structure of the original — travelers meet hitchhiker, are assaulted, girl tied up in house. Even the house where the family live, despite a far bigger art director's budget, is orderly and clean and compares woefully to the filthy house decked out in dioramas of animal skeletons in the original. The occasional scene does work — one scene trying to repair a car tire before Leatherface returns is tensely sustained. Some of the new characters — Viggo Mortensen's cowboy hitchhiker and particularly Joe Unger's glintingly fiery-eyed Tink — while pale shadows of the startling menagerie in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, are not too bad additions."

Tales from the Crypt — Dead Wait
(1991, dir. Tobe Hooper)
Tales from the Crypt, which ran for seven seasons (1989-1996) on HBO, was a weekly horror anthology series in which virtually every episode was based on a tale originally presented in one of EC's famous comic books from the 50s  (e.g., The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Crime SuspenStories, Shock SuspenStories, and Two-Fisted Tales). A few of the tales had already been filmed in Amicus's anthology films Tales from the Crypt (1972 / trailer) and The Vault of Horror (1973 / trailer). 
Considering how closely aligned the series was to Hooper's general sensibilities as a filmmaker, it is almost odd that he only every directed one episode: the 30th (and 6th of season 3), based on a tale that originally appeared in The Vault of Horror #23 (February-March, 1952), written by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein and drawn by Jack Davis. The real cover is found below, the fake cover for the TV show above. For the TV episode, Gilbert Adler adapted the tale; Adler went on to later script and direct the movie Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood (1996 / trailer).
The plot as found at Wikipedia: "A thug (James Remar) who's working for a plantation owner (John Rhys-Davies) teams up with the owner's mistress (Vanity [4 Jan 1959 – 15 Feb 2016]) in order to steal a highly valuable black pearl. He later double-crosses the mistress only to be double-crossed himself by a mysterious priestess (Whoopi Goldberg)."
Flights, Tights and Movie Nights, which says "the direction is fantastic, with a lot of deep shadows and ceiling fans," has the plot: "[…] The main role is played by James Remar with some odd-looking red hair as a small-time crook looking for a big hit which is currently a large black pearl owned by John Rhys-Davies who owns a plantation in an African village in the middle of a revolution. He also happens to have a way-too-hot-for-him wife who obviously has eyes for Remar. […] As the rebels get closer, Rhys-Davies sends Remar off with his wife to flee the country, but Remar still wants the pearl which is missing. He ends up killing Davies before realizing that he had swallowed the pearl to keep it safe and he has to cut it out of his worm-infested stomach which is grotesque, if a bit unbelievable. His wife turns on Remar, but Goldberg saves him and takes him through the jungle to the airport, except she actually takes him to her village as red hair is a sign that he is full of life and she cuts off his head and tosses the black pearl aside."

Go here for Part III: 1992-2003…
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...