Archive for April, 2011

Leprechaun 6: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)

Directed By: Steven Ayromlooi

Starring:  Warwick Davis, Sherrie Jackson, Tangi Miller, Page Kennedy, Laz Alonso

Subgenre: Slasher, Supernatural

Synopsis: The Leprechaun in back in the hood for his latest sequel.  Once again, the Leprechaun is chasing down a group of friends that have stumbled upon his gold.

Thoughts: Been there and done that.  That is what my thoughts were after the sixth Leprechaun movie in a short period of time.  The studio felt heading back to an urban setting was the best route, but it sure seemed like they went back to the wrong well.  Apparently the original storyline took place in a tropical location during Spring Break.  Hard to say if that would have been any better, but Back 2 tha Hood sure was a step back from the original Hood.

As usual, Warwick Davis was magically delicious in his role as the Leprechaun.  He is the one constant throughout the series, and honestly, I hope they never replace him if they decide to make more movies.  The rest of the cast here is pretty bland, with some performances bordering on bad.

The Direction was similarly uninspiring as well.  Ayromlooi went on to direct Love & Other 4 Letter Words and My Girlfriend’s Back.  Can’t really chalk that up to a Hollywood success story, although that is exactly three more movies than most of us have ever directed.

 There really isn’t anything special about the script either (also written by Ayromlooi).  The Leprechaun is back after his gold after chasing a Flute in the last movie, and once again, he loves the weed.  It just so happens that one of the main characters sells weed and another one is a pot head.  Another amazing coincidence is that they find four leaf clovers in some of the weed.  I am sure that is a pretty common occurance.

Back 2 tha Hood isn’t the worst sequel in the franchise, but it throws its hat in the ring.  I guess it is a good thing that In Space was so damn bad.  Watch this to complete the franchise, but viewer beware.

Directed By: Rob Spera

Starring: Warwick Davis, Ice-T, Anthony Montgomery, Rashaan Nall, Red Grant

Subgenre: Supernatural, Slasher

Synopsis: Mack Daddy O’Nassas, a record producer, has successfully captured the Leprechaun and his magic flute, giving his great powers of influence over other people.  The Leprechaun is accidentally freed from his prison and is on a mission of revenge and reclaiming his magic flute.

Thoughts: I have no idea how someone convinced an executive to make another Leprechaun movie after the terrible In Space debacle, but here we are in 2000 with ol’ Leps back for more, and in “the hood” none the less.

The first sign that this movie is an improvement over the last is the always awesome Ice-T is a major part of the movie.  You can also tell that a bit more money was dumped into the production and the script is much improved, but still a little hokey.  It feels a lot like the second installment that way.  Leprechaun isn’t about to take itself seriously at this point.

I’m not sold on the magic flute story line, but how many times can the Leprechaun be searching for his gold.  I guess it works for this movie, but the thought of Ice-T, the Original Gangsta, blowing on a flute is odd.

We all know the Leprechaun loves his Irish Whiskey, but that can be tough to find in the hood.  He does find a replacement though, in the form of the old sticky icky.  The Leprechaun fast becomes a fan of smoking up.  To be expected I guess.

Warwick Davis is back as the Leprechaun as well, a role he is familiar with and very well suited for.  He is the Leprechaun, much the same way that Doug Bradley is Pinhead and Tony Todd is Candyman.

In the Hood isn’t the greatest movie, but it is a return to what made the earlier Leprechaun movies fun.  It’s campy with a little red stuff thrown in for good measure.  It’s worth checking out for fans of the little guy.

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

Directed By: Brian Trenchard-Smith

Starring: Warwick Davis, Rebekah Carlton, Debbe Dunning, Guy Siner, Brent Jasmer, Jessica Collins

Subgenre: Supernatural, Slasher, Science Fiction-Horror, Comedy-Horror

Synopsis: The Leprechaun is back, this time on a distant planet wooing a Princess, battling Space Marines and dealing with a robotic spider mad scientist.

Thoughts: Not sure what the next logical place for the Leprechaun to go is after Vegas, but pretty sure I would have come up with something other than launching his ass into space.  We catch up to the Leprechaun on a distant planet, courting a space princess with a plan to kill her father and take over the crown.  No mention of how he made his way off the planet, no backstory, nothing. 

The Leprechaun actually loses quite a bit of screen time in this one to the group of Space Marines that blow him up and to the insane Dr. Mittenhand, who is half robot and soon to be half arachnid.  Yeah, this movie is a train wreck.

This is a direct to video feature, and it really shows.  I am talking sub ScyFy quality.  The acting, sets, and FX are all terrible.  The story is a mess.  All in all, this movie sucks, and sucks hard.  The first three movies of the series are Oscar worthy compared to it.  I don’t refer to IMDB often, but this gem is sitting at a rating of 3.0, which may be generous.

It shocks me that this isn’t the last film in the franchise, as In Space could easily be a franchise killer for any franchise.  If you are interested in the Leprechaun franchise, you could easily skip this one and head right for Tha Hood, but if you are like me and have to see them all, I recommend knocking back a few drinks first.

Creepiest Bunnies in Film History

Posted: April 24, 2011 in List, Opinions

There just are not very many (any?) good Easter themed horror movies.   Where are the guys that made Thankskilling! When you need them?  As a substitute, I am going to count down the five creepiest rabbits to find themselves in a movie. 

5. Night of the Lepus – While giant mutant bunnies are nothing to scoff at, the superimposed rabbits here really weren’t that scary, unless you have to clean up after them.

4. Donnie Darko – Creepy, yes, but come on, it was a guy in a bunny suit.

3. Fatal Attraction – I think we all know what is in that pot.

2. Monthy Python and the Search for the Holy Grail – I know what you are thinking, “Oh, it’s just a harmless little *bunny*, isn’t it?”  Go forth at your own risk.

1. Twilight Zone: The Movie – Pretty sure this scared the shit out of me when I was a kid.

Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Directed By: Brian Trenchard –Smith

Starring: Warwick Davis, John Gatins, Lee Armstrong, Caroline Williams, John DeMita, Marcelo Tubert, Michael Callan

Subgenre: Supernatural, Slasher

Synopsis: The Leprechaun is back, this time in a place tailor made for him, Vegas baby! He battles soon to be college student Scott, who is turning into a Leprechaun himself!

Thoughts: After seeing the Leprechaun start out in the country in the first movie and move to a more urban area in the second, the only natural place to send him for the third movie is Las Vegas and its endless sea of casinos. 

The third installment follows the same formula, with the Leprechaun tracking down his gold.  This time he is chasing Scott, a college kid on his way to his first semester of school who is using one of the gold coins for luck at a casino.

I actually like the premise for this one and it had loads of potential, but shoddy acting and a rushed script only gave us a load.  Warwick Davis is awesome as usual, but other than that, the other actors don’t being much to the table.  About the only familiar face is Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2).

The gore and death scenes are also not up to par, with most of them falling on the ridiculous side.  It is quite apparent that this series is becoming a parody of itself, which is troublesome for a franchise that straddles the horror and comedy genres.

My guess is if you are sitting down to watch Leprechaun 3, you are making your way through the series, so go ahead, finish what you started, but be warned, the quality is dropping off.

Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Directed By: Rodman Flender

Starring: Warwick Davis, Charlie Heath, Shevonne Durkin, Sandy Baron, Adam Biesk

Subgenre: Supernatural, Slasher

Synopsis: The Leprechaun is back, not just for his gold, but to settle an age old grudge and find himself a bride!

Thoughts: While the first Leprechaun flick didn’t blow up the box office, it did make enough to send the studio scrambling for an immediate sequel.  They turned to relative unknown Rodman Flender to helm the second foray into the Leprechaun mythos.  While Flender was unknown at the time, he has gone on to direct a few movies and many TV shows, including the underrated Idle Hands. 

While the first movie has Jennifer Aniston in it, the second installment offers no such superstars in the making.  We are stuck with Warwick Davis and a bunch of unknowns.  The acting in this one is pretty weak, but it is pretty enjoyable.  My favorite character was Morty, even though he was very stereotypical and canned.

A new angle that the sequel brought is the use of wishes.  Of course the Leprechaun twists every wish into something sadistic and bad for the person making the wish, much like the Djinn from Wishmaster, which wouldn’t come out for a few more years. 

Quality death scenes are few and far between as well, and most of them that had any potential occur off the screen, like the lawn mower to the face.  It is pretty apparent that the studio is going for campy horror, although there is a bit of nudity in this one.  It’s nothing special, but there none the less.

If you enjoyed the first Leprechaun, chances are you will like this one as well.  It follows a similar formula and Davis was pretty much born for this role.  It is also worthwhile to see the Leprechaun get completely hammered in a drinking contest on St Patty’s Day.

Leprechaun (1993)

Directed By: Mark Jones

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Warwick Davis, John Sanderford, Ken Olandt, Robert Gorman, Mark Holtan

Subgenre: Supernatural, Slasher

Synopsis: An evil Leprechaun gets pissed off whenever anyone messes with his gold, which is just what Tory and her new friends happen to do.  It is up to them to survive the onslaught of mischievous attacks by the Leprechaun.

Thoughts: The Leprechaun came later than most of the other 2nd (3rd?) tier horror icons, with his debut film landing in 1993, but the franchise would go on to pump out 6 movies in 10 years.  Leprechaun is very similar to Child’s Play in a lot of ways, including a diminutive killer.  It’s fair to say that if you enjoy Chucky, the Leprechaun will be right up your alley.

The storyline plays out like you expect, and the screen writers made sure to include every bit of Leprechaun mythos that they could jam into the 92 minute run time.  Four leaf clovers, pots of gold, and Irish whiskey all show up, as well as what I consider to be one of the most asinine parts of the movie.  The Leprechaun finds himself compelled to shine shoes.  So, he stops looking for his gold to shine shoes at one point. 

There are more than a few over-the-top ridiculous deaths in Leprechaun, but none more so than the pogo stick attack on the Pawn Shop owner.   The Leprechaun also drives around in a little car, which looks it came right from the circus.  Moments like this kept the movie from ever being scary or creepy.  I think that Leprechaun could have been a much darker film, if a few He has things had been done differently.  Instead we get something much more comedic in nature, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Aside from being the first appearance of the Leprechaun, this movie is Jennifer Aniston’s first movie role.  A year later she was starting Friends and starring in an endless array of Romantic Comedies.  She does a decent job here, but nothing special.  Aniston always seems to play the same role in her movies.

Another somewhat notable genre actor is Mark Holtan, who played the dim witted Ozzy.  He also appeared in both Teen Wolf movies and even starred as John Wayne Gacy in Gacy.

You can’t not mention Warwick Davis, who plays the titular villain.  Davis has played such roles as Wicket in Return of the Jedi, Willow, as well as Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter films.  He does a masterful job as the Leprechaun and it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the role.

The Leprechaun series is pretty cheesy, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.  The first one is worth seeing for horror fans.  Grab a few beers and kick back for some shenanigans!

The New York Ripper (1982)
{Lo Squartatore di New York}

Directed By: Lucio Fulci

Starring: Jack Hedley, Howard Ross, Almanta Suska

Subgenre: Gialli, Slasher

When you think of the Italian Godfather of Gore Lucio Fulci, you tend to think of his zombie flicks such as The Beyond, City of the Living Dead and Zombi, but he directed quite a few other Gialli style fims as well, including The New York Ripper.

Ripper tells the story of a killer loose in New York that is stalking young women and taunting the police with a duck voice. In usual Gialli and Fulci form, the movie is violent and gory, with a significant amount of sex throughout the movie as well. There are plenty of red herrings and of course you don’t learn the identity of the killer until the final act.

While Fulci is arguably the master of zombie movies, he does a decent job with this genre as well. I prefer his zombie flicks myself, but it is interesting to see what else he can offer to the genre.

Ripper is also one of the infamous Video Nasties, and itsn’t too tough to see why it was included, with its graphic murders and gratuitous nudity and sex. Because Fulci directed it and its inclusion on the Video Nasty list, I would consider this a must see for horror fans. Check it out and work on your best Donald Duck impersonation.

I recently watched Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers and when I checked into Miso (www.gomiso.com) a friend commented that it was one of the best werewolf movies out there. This got me thinking. Now, I love Dog Soldiers, I think it is a great mix of horror and action, but I don’t see it as one of the best werewolf movies of all time.  But what is the best werewolf movie ever? 

I kept mulling over the top werewolf movies of all time and decided to put together a list, but not what I consider the “best”, but what my favorite werewolf movies. After I threw together my list a shuffled it around a bit, I took to the wide world of the Internet to see other opinions. My list doesn’t differ too greatly from what I saw. I do have a bit more of an appreciation for Paul Naschy I suppose. Anyways, here is my list:

1. An American Werewolf in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Wolf Man (1941)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Night of the Werewolf (El Retorno del Hombre Lobo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Howling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Curse of the Werewolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Ginger Snaps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Dog Soldiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Silver Bullet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Werewolf’s Shadow (La Noche de Walpurgis)














As you can see, Dog Soldiers still makes the list, but I think there is a pretty wide gap between that and Ginger Snaps.

Some of the biggest titles missing from my list are The Company of Wolves, Wolfen, The Wolfman (2010), Wolf, Teen Wolf and the Underworld movies. I have yet to see Company, so that may well be one that cracks my list. While it has been ages since watching Wolfen, I don’t recall being too excited about it, but it is another one I should probably revisit. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Wolfman remake or Wolf for that matter. Teen Wolf is great, but not something I can include on this list. It is much more of a comedy and there are not really any horror elements in it, other than the fact it is about a werewolf. While the Underworld movies have their place in the genre, I look at them more as action movies as well.  One little known werewolf movie that almost made my list was Blood Moon.  It is a slower paced flick, but one well worth checking out if you have yet to see it.

Looking at this list, and the amount of Werewolf movies as a whole, there appears to be room for more entries.  Wes Craven failed with Cursed, but there has to be some great Werewolf stories out there, right?  Dog Soldiers and Ginger Snaps are both recent films, but all the others on this list have been around for a long time.  Maybe some aspiring screenwriter has something out there…

The Last House on the Left (1972)

Directed By: Wes Craven
Produced By: Sean Cunningham

Starring: Sandra Cassel, Lucy Grantham, David Hess, Fred Lincoln

Subgenre: Exploitation, Revenge

 

You know what shocks me the most after my initial viewing of The Last House on the Left? Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham went on to have successful careers with major studios. This is pretty shocking for the time, hell; it is still pretty graphic for today’s standards. This was pretty much off of most people’s radar until the remake came out a while back.

Mari and Phyllis go to a concert for Mari’s 17th Birthday and look to score some weed afterwards. They look in the wrong spot and wind up in the hands of escaped criminals led by the vicious Krug and Weasel. They are raped, tortured and eventually killed by the group, who end up near Mari’s home and, ironically, end up staying the night with her parents. Mari’s parents find out the truth concerning their daughter and the group and exact a nasty revenge.

Last House on the Left is a nasty film. Much of the realism comes from the almost documentary feel to the filming and editing process. Its explicit violence and sexual assault landed it on the infamous Video Nasty list. David Hess, who plays Krug, plays one of the coldest, most vicious villains I remember in film. Hess didn’t make too many American movies after Last House, but did extensive work in Europe and even starred in Deodato’s The House on the Edge of the Park, pretty much reprising his role as Krug.

In fact, not many of the actors went on to do much of anything in major cinema. Fred Lincoln (Weasel) went on to become a major player in the porn industry as an actor and director. The deputy did go on to play the bad guy in Karate Kid, but that is about it. This could be due to the low budget nature of the film, or the fact that Last House made most of the actors virtually untouchable. Who knows?

One interesting aspect to the movie is the use of music. The music is often in direct contrast to what is happening on screen. Soothing ballads strike up at the end of one of the rapes for instance. The police serve as comedic relief as well, which I believe was intended to give the audience a break in the tension.

Last House isn’t an easy film to watch, but it is a worthwhile entry into the horror genre and without it, we may not have other genre classics such as The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm Street. When you watch it, keep the original marketing in mind. Just keep telling yourself “It’s Only a Movie.”