Friday, August 25, 2017

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

The final film of my Summer of Anniversaries event celebrates the 25th anniversary of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.

However, we're a couple weeks early on the celebration end.  Oddly enough, 1992 didn't have much for me to choose from.  1987 and 1997 had a bunch.  But in order to find something celebrating a 25th anniversary, I had to look to September.

September 11.

For a movie that takes place in New York City with all sorts of hell breaking loose.

With the Twin Towers appearing in the background of the poster.

Alright, that's enough about that shit.  Let's set the stage for today's ill-advised sequel.  In the late 1980s, Clive Barker's Hellraiser series was absolutely incredible.  The first film, no duh, named Hellraiser, was a low-budget, yet immensely successful, visceral body horror film that had lots of hallmarks of a Clive Barker story: weird sex stuff, lots of gore, weird sex stuff, dirtbags, weird sex stuff, and weirdly sexy stuff.  Considering it was made on a lean $1 Million budget, and ended up grossing $14 Million, of course it would get a sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, just a year later.  Again, it followed the weird body horror and sex stuff ending with Pinhead, the lead Cenobite, a hedonistic angel/demon creature, defeated.  With the movies being so incredibly popular among horror fans, of course the franchise would continue.

Yet, it took almost four full years for the third to be made and released.  But right out of the gate, you knew something was off.  The first two films were uniquely British.  They were filmed in England and, despite starring an American actress, Ashley Laurence, just overall kept that feeling that the events were taking place in a small town in the countryside in England.  When you see enough of these stylistic movies, you just get a feel that makes it uniquely British, or Italian, or German, or whatnot.

And if you're curious what a uniquely German feels like...  Just look for the weird scat sex that happens in all their films.  All of them.  In every German movie, there's usually someone literally shitting on the other's chest during sex.

All of them.

Not only did the British atmosphere go missing in the new Hellraiser III movie, but, through a series of events after Barker's Nightbreed failed at the box office, Barker was basically shut out of the making of the third installment until very late in post production.  So the film had mostly an American feel AND made pretty much entirely independent from the supervision of the guy who made the first two movies very popular.

As for the synopsis, I will look to my six-film The Hellraiser Collection set.  According to the back of the box: "A TV reporter discovers the Lament Configuration Box which opens the door to the Cenobites' demonic world of pleasure and pain.  Now, Pinhead walks the Earth again."

Let's dive in, shall we?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Steel (1997)

Shaq Attack!

Until today, I've only seen one Shaquille O'Neal movie ever - Blue Chips.  And that movie was "supposed" to be "good".  It wasn't.  If you want to watch a good movie about a basketball player going into college starring an actual basketball player, watch Spike Lee's He Got Game.

I'm already off topic.

The point I'm trying to make is that I like Shaq on the court.  I like Shaq on pre-game and halftime shows.  I like Shaq in commercials hocking insurance from The General.  But let's not deny the fact that, besides being a guy who I think is seemingly terribly nice and charismatic as a person, he can't act.

I tried for many, many years to avoid watching another Shaquille O'Neal movie, but then this fucking thing turned 20 years old and I do this blog and I am doing a "Summer of Anniversaries" thing and I've already featured a few superhero movies.

Fuck.

So!  That said, here's another shitty DC Comics movie.  Based on one of the "Supermen" who rose after the Death of Superman story in comics, the character of Steel, a.k.a. John Henry Irons, was a normal guy who built himself a suit of, no shit, steel to become a new "man of steel" in the absence of Superman.  This movie has nothing to do with any of that shit.

But what is it about?  According to Amazon Prime, Steel's premise is: "Shaquille O'Neal sheds his hi-tops for a dazzling suit of battle armor as the latest and greatest DC Comics superhero to wage war on crime."

I kinda don't think that was an accurate description of the movie I'm about to watch.  I doubt Steel is REALLY Shaquille O'Neal who literally tosses aside his sneakers to fight crime.  And...  Steel is not a bad character, but hardly the greatest from the pantheon of DC Comics.

That's Infectious Lass.

Look her up.

Friday, August 11, 2017

xXx (2002)

Fuck yeah, bro!  I finally get to talk about my favorite pastime...  XXX!  Porn!  Gross people doing gross shit to each other!!!

What's that?

Vin Diesel?  Asia Argento?  Tattoos?  Okay, well, I mean I guess Vin Diesel is okay.  Not sure I want to see his schlong, but Asia Argento?  I wanna see what tattoos she has in places that aren't usually available to the naked (heh) eye.  She's probably into some weird shit too...

Say what?

This isn't porn?  It's an over-the-top action flick capitalizing on The Fast and the Furious?  Even directed by the same guy who made that movie (Rob Cohen)?  Huh.  I've never heard of it.

Just kidding, folks, I saw this movie in the theater.  In fact, I've seen 66.7% of the xXx franchise in the theater.  Don't get me wrong, that doesn't make this movie any better whatsoever.  I'm just trying to frame the decision to make sure I covered this movie since it just turned 15 years old because this movie is real dumb.

Real, real, REAL dumb.

The back of my DVD box gives us this synopsis: "Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is a notorious underground thrill-seeker who, until now, has been deemed untouchable by the law.  But when crack NSA Agent Gibbons convinces Cage to infiltrate a ruthless Russian crime ring, this new breed of secret agent (code name: XXX) takes down the enemies of justice with a vengeance in this high-octane, turbo-charged thrill-ride from the acclaimed director of The Fast and the Furious."

Pretty much the entire synopsis tells you exactly everything you need to know.  When this came out, James Bond was celebrating his 40th anniversary of his first film, and about to be seen in his 20th canonical movie.  There were some idiots out there who thought Bond was past his prime and dull and boring.  They mostly were the types who rode pussy crotch rockets or ruined beautiful classic muscle cars by tinkering the fuck out of them or supercharged shitty Honda Civics.  In other words, idiots.  They needed someone like this to be reminded that it was okay to be a needle dick douche because you at least got a cool car and some sick tats, bro.

Another couple things that stick out to me in the synopsis...  Why is a thrill-seeker deemed "untouchable" by law enforcement?  That doesn't make sense.  If you fuck up someone's shit, as we will see in Xander Cage's introduction scene, you pay for that.  It doesn't matter how muscly or shaved headed you are and how pip squeaky and nerdy they are.  You are a fucking asshole.

Finally, if you have a movie with a guy named Xander Cage as the lead star, of fucking course it will be Vin Diesel.  The box didn't have to put that fact in parentheses.  Neither did I for that matter, but whatever.  Let's get started on this movie.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Masters of the Universe (1987)

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that this might be one of the very worst span of four weeks during one summer movie slate ever?  It started with July's Jaws: The Revenge and Superman IV: The Quest of Peace, and now ends with one of the more spectacular Cannon Films failures, Masters of the Universe.

The origin of how this movie came about takes root from the Mattel smash toy hit of the same name.  Trust me, when I was little, everyone had He-Man toys.  We'd walk around and ask each other if they want to play "He-Mans" and usually had our figures in tow at all times.  We fucking loved this shit.  What's funny is that the toys were super cheaply made.  For the most part, every figure had the same overly muscular body spray-painted different colors with different heads and different accessories or attachments.  When you have a bunch of of the very same body for every male figure, it makes production costs quite a bit lower and gives you much more of a profit when these things sold like crazy hotcakes.

There were comics from DC Comics, a video game on Intellivision, and, of course, a super popular animated series on pretty much every day after school.  Much like G.I. Joe and Transformers, the He-Man cartoon pretty much was there to only boost further sales of the toy line.  But the popularity did not go unnoticed by Hollywood.  It was only a matter of time that a live action movie would be produced.

And lucky us...  It was Cannon Films that came along to deliver the goods.

Cannon was no stranger to big time flops of things that had no business being unsuccessful.  Superman IV was an utter disaster.  Over the Top starred the biggest star of the 80s, Sylvester Sallone, and was dead on arrival at the box office.  A second dumpster fire Allan Quatermain film also pushed Cannon to the financial brink.

All of the movies listed above were also released in 1987.  It was simply dud after disaster after shitcake slathered in body oil.

As kids, we were all overjoyed that He-Man would finally come to the big screen.  We thought the Russian bad guy from Rocky IV also looked the part as well.  So what could possibly go wrong?  It's really hard to fuck up what's essentially a "swords and sandals" movie that has some sci-fi elements tossed in for good measure.  I mean... Right?

Right?