Friday, June 30, 2017

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

45 years ago today, the fourth of the Planet of the Apes movies was released to theaters - Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

By this point, 20th Century Fox knew they had a marketable franchise.  They hit it big in 1968 with the original Planet of the Apes that created a world where apes were king and men were not much more than beasts of burden.  There are three main things remembered from the first film: 1) the original reveal of the gorillas hunting down humans in a cornfield, 2) "Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!", and 3) the end reveal that Taylor (Charlton Heston) had only time traveled to the future of Earth and not to a distant planet.

The movie made six times its budget in North America and was a certified hit.  The second film, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, worked on a smaller budget, but still grossed four times its budget.  Considering Taylor blew up the planet with a nuclear device, the request for a third film might have seemed a bit odd, but Fox figured out a way to do this by sending the main apes characters of Cornelius, his wife Zira, and their scientist buddy Milo to the Earth of the past.  They don't explain it well, but Escape from the Planet of the Apes featured the apes in 1973 Earth, and it wasn't without its fun - until the end when Cornelius and Zira were brutally murdered.  The third entry cost half as much as the second, but grossed six times its budget.

The trend of diminishing of box office grosses actually wasn't that big of a deal because Fox kept cutting the budgets with each subsequent film.  So that brings us to today's entry, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.  It takes place about 18 years after the previous movie and follows Cornelius and Zira's son, Caesar.  Now being cared for by zookeeper Armando (Ricardo Montalban), Caesar must keep his ability to speak under wraps or risk capture.  Apes are now being trained as slave labor, partially to replace dogs and cats who were all killed by a mysterious disease, but also because they were smarter and could do more than simply provide companionship.  The film also fills in the cracks of how the apes rose up to overthrow the humans on the top of the food chain, and plays out the scene discussed in the previous movie when one ape stood in defiance of his human masters by uttering a single word.

There you have it.  Before we get started, two things I will mention.  First, I believe this is actually the best of original Apes sequels.  It tells an interesting story of what a bleak future might be like and how we essentially let our hubris destroy our own society.  Second, some themes in the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes film plays off of this movie, but not an official remake.  I think it is at least safe to say that some of the themes and ideas, if nothing more than on a spiritual level, was good enough for these much more serious and higher budget Apes movies of the current era.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Megaforce (1982)

Ah Megaforce.  What took me so long to come around to you?

I think I probably subconsciously waited for this exact moment - to commemorate Megaforce's 35th anniversary of release.  There's a bit of insanity surrounding this masterful piece of cinematic art.  First, you probably didn't know that it has a deep connection to another 1982 classic sci-fi movie - Blade Runner.  Yeah.  There was a film company in Hong Kong who put together the funding for MegaForce, Blade Runner, and two other films to hopefully breakthrough in the United States.  All of them were box office failures (well...  technically High Road to China was not a failure, just forgotten).

Megaforce's release also came with an Atari 2600 game.  That game seems like a whole lotta garbage and flashing and explosion sounds that just all add up to it being complete nonsense.  At least it knew what scene to center the game around.  The film was directed by stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham who was usually known for making movies that involved fast cars and Burt Reynolds (The Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper - you get the picture).  This being is only venture into sci-fi Needham would attempt.  While I think it was only natural to pick him for what the movie had in it and was about, it was probably a stretch to think he was going to be able to piece all this together.

So, before we start in, I will give you a quick rundown of what the movie is about.  Megaforce follows Ace Hunter (Barry Bostwick) who leads an elite task force of adventurers who uphold justice.  Then, Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Persis Khambatta) shows up and asks for their help to fight off an aggressive neighboring country.  Khambatta is the girl oddly dressed as a Bond Girl on the poster there.  Even though she is a high ranking, combat veteran army lady.  Pffft...  and people are confused why there's such hub bub around the importance and success of this year's Wonder Woman movie.  Anyway, Hunter decides to help this small republic fight their foes, led by Hunter's rival Gueerra (Henry Silva from the wonderful vampire film I covered last year, Thirst).

There you have it.  Let's get this kooky action/adventure movie rolling!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Batman and Robin (1997)

Holy fishdicks, Batman!  This week's B-Movie Enema feature is, without a doubt, one of the most reviled comic book movies ever.  This (along with another fourth movie in its franchise I'll be talking about later this summer) effectively killed a relatively popular and very profitable Batman franchise.

Since it turns 20 this week, and this is a summer in which I'll be focusing on those movies celebrating anniversaries, of course I'll be featuring Batman and Robin.

But maybe a good question to start with is "Why?'  Why am I featuring this movie on a blog called B-Movie Enema?  Well, yes, most of the movies I write about could be labeled as a "B" movie - a label given to low budget movies (or, more classically, a shorter, cheaper movie to accompany a more prestigious one in the old double feature era of theaters).  Hell, some of them go much further down the alphabet than that.  I also look at the overall quality.  If the movie is overly melodramatic or exploits anything in any way, it could potentially fit that "B-movie" feel.  Granted, there are movies that are exploitation or go so over the top that they end up being silly, but there's also a feel to the movies that gives your gut and brain all the indicators that you're watching what can only be described as a "B" level movie.

That's what we have here with Batman and Robin.  It's pretty common knowledge now that director Joel Schumacher's vision and ideas for his two Batman movies were far different than Tim Burton's.  Schumacher seemed to not even watch Burton's '89 classic or '92 sequel.  He decided that his Batman films would be much brighter, grander, and utterly insane in how it was acted - particularly by side characters and the villains.  Schumacher was going for more of the campy 60s style of the old TV version of the character.

All that led to what we have here - something of a beautiful disaster.  I make it very well known that I do actually like Schumacher's first Batman film, Batman Forever, much more than Burton's second, Batman Returns.  I'm not going to go too far into my reasons why, but a lot of it had to do with the script for Returns and Jim Carey's kooky Riddler in Forever.  I still say that I was completely floored by Batman and Robin.  We saw the trailers.  We knew something seemed odd about it.  Never mind that George Clooney was now stepping into the cowl as Batman (marking the third Batman in as many films behind Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer).  That's okay.  I'm a James Bond and Doctor Who fan.  I can handle casting changes.  The trailer should have warned everyone that this movie was out of its mind.

It's like you're walking down the street and you see a possibly homeless, but definitely unbathed, fella with a sign about how doomsday is coming and you need to repent your sins.  He's missing important teeth and shouting crazy stuff at people while spittle flies through the gaps made by those missing teeth.  You know you shouldn't let him stop you and force you into a conversation about whether or not you think you've already been saved by Jesus.  You know what will happen if you engage this person.  You just know what will happen if you give the fella any of your attention.  So what do you do?  You walk straight up to the guy and tell him you've not been saved by Jesus.  This turns into a pretty painful 125 minutes of your life you will never get back.

That's what Batman and Robin is.  You walked straight up to that motherfucking box office, bought a ticket, you even smiled when you handed over your money, you went to the concession stand and ordered popcorn and a soda, and engaged the crazy to the point that you wanted to claw the skin off your fucking face.

And I'm about to do it all over again...  Roll film.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Rollercoaster (1977)

This week's B-Movie Enema entry is celebrating its 40th anniversary this very weekend.  It's Universal Pictures' Rollercoaster.

Rollercoaster was simply another in the decade-long string of "disaster films" that started at the very dawn of the 1970s with Airport.  It became such a genre in itself that you can almost think of that as being the same thing back then as we see now with superhero movies.  While the 70s were the "golden age" of the disaster flick, the genre still exists to this day.  Movies featuring high drama in the face of incredible tragedy still come out in fairly high numbers.  Anything that stars a relatively large cast that ends with a lot of them dead and a lot of others barely making it through whatever the disaster wrought could basically be labeled as one of these disaster films.

Let's face it.  This is also a perfect choice for the blog during a summer month.  What says summer more than an amusement park and roller coasters?

This one in particular stars George Segal, Richard Widmark, Timothy Bottoms, Susan Strasberg, and Henry Fonda.  Yeah, Academy Award winner Henry Fonda is in a movie I'm featuring on my dumb blog.  I'm really taking this up a notch in class.  The basic plot of this movie is that a "determined terrorist" (Bottoms) is targeting a popular roller coaster and the riders for senseless destruction.  It's up to the park's safety inspector (Segal) to stop him.  That's really all there is to it, but I should warn you, this movie clocks in at a full 119 minutes.  That's nearly two full hours of a guy chasing a terrorist trying to blow up roller coasters.  It might be a pretty long night for me.

So let's not waste a second more.  Let's see some wanton destruction and disaster!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Piranha DD (2012)

Man...  Now that I've survived Asylum Month, I'm not sure I can contain my excitement.  Frankly, I wasn't sure if I could carry on with anything other than sitting around a living room littered with empty pizza boxes while I go unshaven and unbathed and gorging myself on ice cream straight from the container.

However, the darkness parted and here we are - June.  I've survived the darkest month of my life since I resurrected this blog a little over a year ago and I'm ready to celebrate.  So!  I bring to you the start of a summer full of anniversaries!  Starting this week until the end of August, I'll be shifting my focus not only on movies that are celebrating some sort of anniversary ending with either a 0 or a 5, but I'm also getting back to basics.  Shitty movies that bring the simplest of pleasures - monsters, shitty stories, titties, dumbness, and a few halfway decent things mixed in.  We start with this week's movie - Piranha DD (or Piranha 3DD if you saw it on the big screen with 3D glasses to make dem dubba d's leap off the screen and practically motorboat themselves on your face) which celebrates the fifth anniversary since its release this upcoming week.

Am I selecting this movie as a bit of a softball lob over the plate after a particularly harrowing Asylum Month?  You betcha!  Am I selecting this primarily on the promise of seeing giant jugs on hot women in bikinis?  Oh my god, yes I am!  Have I seen the 2010 Piranha 3D that this sequelized?  Um...  No.  No, I have not.

Do I care?  You bet your fuckin' bippy I don't care one bit!

I'm so renewed after shedding the exoskeleton of The Asylum that I don't even care about the synopsis.  All I know is this movie has boobies, killer fish, Ving Rhames with gun legs, and the lovely Danielle Panabaker.  That's all I need.  I'm excited to get back to basics and watch a silly movie with lots of things I like, so let's get to it already!