For the first time (only?) this October, The Quick and Dirties makes an appearance. Since it is October, that means we're dealing with all horror flicks in some form or another. Let's get to it.
(2015)Imagine if R. L. Stine, the author of the "Goosebumps" series of horror novels for tweens was your next door neighbor. That's the position Zach (Dylan Minnette) finds himself in when he learns Stine, played by Jack Black, is the father of the girl next door/girl of his dreams Hannah (Odeya Rush). If that weren't enough, he also discovers all those books were "real," in a sense and that opening one causes whatever horrors contained within its pages to be unleashed upon the world. So basically, we have a kiddie horror version of Jumanji on our hands. That might seem to be a bit of a snide remark, but really it's not. The film does lots of things right, creeps some kids out with some wonderful visuals, and is a blast to watch. To be quite honest, it's better than any of the television or movie adaptations of Stine's actual work.
(2015)Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is a troubled teen who just moved in with the too perfect family of his uncle. Obviously, he has trouble fitting in, but manages to find a trio of misfits with whom to form a heavy metal band. Yes, after much discussion they name their band Deathgasm. After local metal legend Daggers (Stephen Ure) is killed, the boys get their hands on some sheet music to something called "The Black Hymn." Every time they play it all sorts of evil spirits are summonsed and everyone within earshot goes violently crazy. A cult is after the guys for the music, and in case you were wondering, Brodie also spends lots of time pining over and chasing Medina (Kimberley Crossman), the girl of his dreams. There are plenty of horror elements, but the real draw is the comedy. The film is downright hilarious. It wonderfully touches upon and skewers an impressive number of genre tropes. It also takes on metal culture at the same time. While doing these things, it gives us very inventive moments including "metal-vision" and death by dildo. What's not to love?
The Number 23
(2007)Dog-catcher Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) begins reading a book entitled The Number 23 and believes the book is about him. He becomes enamored with it, and yes, the number 23 which is given supreme numerical importance. Of course it is, that's the number Michael Jordan wore, duh. The premise is intriguing but things just get out of hand. All sorts of stuff just appears to be thrown on the screen to see what sticks. The ending feels ripped off from The Machinist. Too many questions are left unanswered, particularly as they pertain to the title. It's interesting enough to keep you watching but when it's over, the "wow" factor they were going for just isn't there.
The Madmen of Mandoras
(1963)John Coleman is a neurobiologist who happens to be one of the very few people who know about the deadliest nerve gas in the history of ever. One of the others happens to be his son-in-law Phil Day (Walter Stocker). After John is kidnapped by a group of Nazis and whisked away to the small, tropical island of Mandoras, Phil and his wife, John's daughter Kathy (Audrey Caire) spring into action. Doesn't sound like a horror film, yet, does it? That's because I failed to mention a key element. The Nazis are working under the orders of Adolf Hitler, who has been presumed dead for almost two decades by this point. What gives? They're keeping his brain, well, his entire head alive and he's after that nerve gas to take over the world. So yeah, we get to see Hitler's disembodied head in a jar barking orders at people. It starts off a bit pedestrian because it takes a while to get to Hitler, but it's a short movie (about 74 minutes), so it dissolves into nuttiness soon enough. It also contains an absolutely fantastic final shot of our friend Adolf.
They Saved Hitler's Brain
(1968)John Coleman is a neurobiologist who happens to be one of the very few people who know about the deadliest nerve gas in the history of ever. Hey, wait a minute. I just wrote that, didn't I? So, what's the deal with this one? It's simple. Someone, for some reason only known to those people and God, decided The Mad Men of Mandoras needed to be spruced up a bit and re-released as something different, but not really. They took the existing film, shot a bunch of scenes of a pair of secret agents also working on the case of Coleman's kidnapping, and awkwardly inserted them needlessly extending the movie's runtime an extra 17 minutes. The only thing they really succeeded in was making it longer and
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla
(1952)Two nightclub performers, Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo playing themselves, had to jump from their plane during an emergency. They crash-land on a tiny island with a small native tribe and Bela Lugosi as the doctor who has made the island his home while he does animal research. The movie starts bad and gets progressively worse. Petrillo bears an uncanny resemblance to Jerry Lewis and spends most of the movie doing an impersonation of him. Mitchell tries to be the Dean Martin of the act but is just a god-awful actor. Unfortunately, or humorously depending on your point of view, Mitchell is given a few musical numbers to perform. He delivers these songs with all the charisma of a fence-post. As if that weren’t bad enough, when Lugosi appears on screen, our heroes continuously try to make jokes by referencing the fact Lugosi is most famous for playing Count Dracula. The movie officially jumps the shark when, in a fit of jealousy, Lugosi transforms Mitchell into a gorilla. We also get some really unintentional humor by noticing that practically the whole native tribe is played by White actors while Lugosi’s character is referred to as “the only White man on the island.” Definitely so bad it’s awesome. Unless you’re a lover of bad movies, stay away.