Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Island Claws" review

Island Claws (1980)

Robert Lansing ... Moody
Steve Hanks ... Pete Adams
Nita Talbot ... Rosie
Jo McDonnell ... Jan Raines
Martina Deignan ... Lynn
Barry Nelson ... Dr. McNeal
Tony Rigo ... Joe
Raymond Forchion ... Jean (as Ray Forchion)
Dick Callinan ... Frank Raines

Why can't genetic experiments work like they should? They're always in a constant state of going awry. B-movie science produces a never ending stream of disastrous experiments. This in turn creates many monsters for the viewer to enjoy.

This time, science has goofed again and we get killer mutant crabs. The video box cover has a picture of a giant crab crushing a person in its mighty claws. The movie has lots of psycho normal-sized crabs and one large Styrofoam crab beast at the end. When you finally witness the spectacle that is a giant rubber crab attacking, you'll realize why the filmmakers kept it out of sight. They had to save it for the climax to prevent you from laughing all the way through the movie.

After suffering through "Tail Sting", I didn't have high hopes for "Island Claws". Since I was still in the mood to watch a giant animal attack, I had to jump back into the genre. Although "Island Claws" is nowhere near a good movie, it was more enjoyable than "Tail Sting". "Island Claws" is vaguely amusing. The battle with the giant crab at the end is good for a few laughs. Other than that, "Island Claws" is a typical B-flick. Nothing to get excited about as you'll forget the movie the second it's over.

While I found it a little amusing to see the giant crab prop get beaten up, I can't in good conscience recommend this movie. You probably shouldn't let your video renting plans for the evening go awry with "Island Claws".

SCORE: 1.5 out of 4 angry crabs

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Tail Sting" review

Tail Sting (2001)

Director: Paul Wynne
Writers: Timothy Griffin Peter Soby Jr.

Laura Putney ... Dr. Jennifer Ryan
Robert Merrill ... Captain Jack Russell (Pilot) (as Christian Scott)
Shirly Brener ... Shannon
Gulshan Grover ... Yaffi
Tara Price ... Courtney
Jean Carol ... Flight Attendant Patti
Elizabeth Perry ... Jodie Shawback

My friend and I watched this one the other day. Giant scorpions are running amok on an airplane. They're being experimented on for some reason or another. A bunch of bad actors run around the plane as pathetic special effects snap at them with their rubber claws. There are various emergencies and sub plots that have nothing to do with scorpions but have everything to do with distracting you from thinking about all the time you're wasting watching this flick.

When "Tail Sting" was over, my friend and I discussed the merits of what we had just seen. It took about a minute before we came to an agreement. LANDFILL. Throw this garbage on the pile. Bash the foam scorpions over their muppet heads and toss them in. I'll rev up the bulldozer and bury them as deep as I can.

I don't think enough bad things can be said about this movie. Once again I expected too much from a B-movie. I wasn't expecting "Snakes on a Plane" but I was hoping there would be something amusing watching scorpions run around the cockpit. It would be tempting to call "Tail Sting" a comedy but that might imply I enjoyed it. "Tail Sting" is either trying to be a comedic take on monster movies or it is attempting to be as good as it can on its $500 budget. Either way, it was a disaster.

I'm not going to mince words here. "Tail Sting" is worthless. Why even attempt to make a monster movie when you know you can't possibly come close to making an entertaining film? The only way you could possibly like this movie is if you really love watching bad movies and get a laugh out of watching cheesy special effects in action. If that's your thing, you might get into "Tail Sting". As for me, I was in pain. Time to bury the muppet scorpions and move on.


Friday, April 10, 2009

"The Midnight Meat Train" review

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Writers: Jeff Buhler Clive Barker

Bradley Cooper ... Leon
Leslie Bibb ... Maya
Brooke Shields ... Susan Hoff
Vinnie Jones ... Mahogany
Barbara Eve Harris ... Detective Lynn Hadley
Peter Jacobson ... Otto
Stephanie Mace ... Leigh Cooper
Ted Raimi ... Randle Cooper
Nora ... Erika Sakaki
Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson ... Guardian Angel

A photographer sets out to capture a shot of the real city. He's been criticized for running from danger so he decides to head out into the night to see what kind of trouble he can get into. It doesn't take long before he stumbles upon a mysterious butcher that likes to ride the subway train all night. The butcher is stalking his prey so he can turn the subway into a meat train. A midnight meat train if you will. Heads are crushed and eyes are gouged as the butcher goes about his business of preparing the meat for delivery. The photographer tries to convince someone that there's a madman loose in the subway but no one will listen to his insane ramblings. He knows he has to go all the way and follow the meat train to the end of the line.

I read this Clive Barker story many years ago and always thought it would make a cool movie. If nothing else, I wanted to see the words "Midnight Meat Train" on a movie theater marquee. I actually did get to see that as "Midnight Meat Train" played (very) briefly in one theater before shuffling off to video stores. I'm not sure why it didn't play in more theaters as it's a solid horror flick.

"Midnight Meat Train" is a fun, gory ride. It had everything I wanted in a mad butcher on a subway train movie. The butcher had a large bag of tricks to unleash on anyone foolish enough to be riding the subway at midnight. The meat train was soaked with blood and guts by the time it reached it's destination.

There's just something gratifying about watching a movie called "The Midnight Meat Train". Only horror fans would even think about checking this movie out. You know you're in good company. I had a good time watching the butcher go about his bloody business. It's worth a look.

SCORE: 3 out of 4 midnight butchers

Sunday, April 05, 2009

"Overnight" review

Overnight (2003)

Directors: Tony Montana Mark Brian Smith

Jeffrey Baxter ... Himself (as Jeffrey 'Skunk' Baxter)
Emmanuelle Béart ... Herself (archive footage)
Chris Brinker ... Himself
Jake Busey ... Himself
Gordon Clark... Himself
Billy Connolly ... Himself
Jim Crabbe ... Himself
Willem Dafoe ... Himself
Vincent D'Onofrio ... Himself
Marie Duffy ... Herself
Robert Duffy ... Himself
Tate Duffy ... Himself
Taylor Duffy ... Himself
Troy Duffy ... Himself
Tyson Duffy ... Himself
Cassian Elwes ... Himself
Sean Patrick Flanery ... Himself
Jason Flom ... Himself
John Goodman ... Himself
Shaun Hill ... Herself
Ramses Ishak ... Himself
Jimi Jackson ... Himself
Ron Jeremy ... Himself
Matthew Modine ... Himself
Tony Montana ... Himself
Mark Brian Smith... Himself
Patrick Swayze... Himself
Mark Wahlberg... Himself
Sharon Waxman... Herself
Harvey Weinstein... Himself (as Harvey)
John West... Himself
Billy Zane... Himself

"Overnight" is the tale of a battle between two bullies. One, (Harvey Weinstein, ex-Miramax kingpin), does battle with arrogant newcomer Troy Duffy. Duffy becomes famous overnight when Weinstein awards him fame and fortune for his script for "Boondock Saints". Not only does Weinstein buy the script, he also lets Duffy direct the movie. The Hollywood dream gets sweeter for Duffy when a record company wants to sign his band as well. And just to add a little extra magic to the fairy tale, Weinstein agrees to buy the bar he used to work at, (J. Sloans, now Villa), and let him run it. Could life get any better for Duffy? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, apparently everything. It doesn't take long for all of this success to rush to Duffy's head and turn him into one of the most insufferable jackasses you've ever had the displeasure of meeting. His friends get together to film the making of "Boondock Saints" but instead end up making a documentary of a man corrupted by his own out of control hubris. Most of the documentary focuses on Duffy giving dead serious speeches to his friends about how great he is. His friends have that glazed over look in their eyes as they subject themselves to his endless tirades. Soon most of Hollywood is sick of him too but Duffy doesn't seem to notice. He's too busy being in love with himself to care.

One of the cliches used to describe Hollywood is "It's high school with money". "Overnight" certainly lives up to that description. Weinstein was in love with Duffy at some point but soured on him quickly. After watching this documentary, it's not hard to see why. But apparently when Weinstein sours on you, the rest of Hollywood does too. Duffy tries to keep the momentum going for "Boondock Saints" but keeps running into obstacles. He thinks that Weinstein is out to get him and is blackballing him. The bigger bully won this fight.

"Overnight" is painful to watch. It is agony watching Duffy talk about how fantastic he is and how he is going to rule Hollywood. I had to pause the DVD many times so I could take a break from Duffy's arrogance. But "Overnight" gives a frightening close-up look at a rampaging ego that makes it worth watching. I wanted to feel a little sorry for the guy but I couldn't do it. He dug his own grave and jumped in. Was Duffy always this arrogant or was it just the initial success that changed him into this pompous jerk? It's mind boggling that this guy could treat his friends this way. It's even more mind boggling that he actually wanted to film himself doing it.

But what's even more bewildering about this movie is why would anyone be friends with Duffy in the first place? How did this guy make friends at all? He seems like he would be a good drinking buddy. A lot of the scenes in the movie take place in J. Sloans as Duffy gets hammered night after night. But the minute he sobers up he becomes unbearable. I also wonder why his friends decided to release this movie. I can only assume that they are now his ex-friends. I'm sure Duffy has plenty of those.

One last thought, I have seen "Boondock Saints" and I thought it was OK. My cousins loved that movie and demanded I watch it with them. I thought it was a fair crime movie but "Boondock Saints" has certainly found an audience on video and DVD so maybe there is something to be said about Duffy's skills as a writer/director. The IMDb tells me that there is a "Boondock Saints II" in the works. Will there be an "Overnight 2" to complement the eventual release? Let's hope that Duffy has learned his lesson and stays behind the camera from now on.

SCORE: 3 out of 4 Duffys