Friday 21 February 2014

Basking In The Cesspool Of Filth #21

Deadly Spawn (1982 - Douglas McKeown) - By just about any definition of the term, this is a bad movie. Timelines are screwed up, character motivations and actions don't make sense, the overdubbing is poor, the science guy completely misunderstands the scientific method, and a raft of other things make this yet another cheapo 'B' movie to throw into one of those "50 Sci-Fi Classics" DVD sets that cost about $20. And yet, there's something here...It's a mix of a great non-cgi monster (obviously patterned after Alien since this came out only a few years after that game changer) and several interesting shots and editing decisions that give the movie a smidge more momentum and fun than your run-of-the-mill "why did you even bother" affair. And of course, a few non-intentionally hilarious moments too.

Body Snatchers (1993 - Abel Ferrara) - Despite a wide range of acting styles (from stilted to slightly psychotic), Ferrara's take on Invasion Of The Body Snatchers works pretty well. He immediately puts a different spin on the whole concept by setting it on a military base (and having that central location seed other bases with the eggs that replicate the humans they attach to), but there's also a strong command of atmosphere and just the right amount of alien reveals. If the tone isn't always spot on (since the acting and rather bad overdubbing - on par with some of the lesser Italian horrors - kills it in spots), the overall effect is quite fine thank you very much. And Meg Tilly is a standout as the sexy young mother, the vacant replacement and the shrieking accuser.

The Church (1989 - Michele Soavi) - This Dario Argento produced demonic tale (based on one of his own stories) slowly but surely becomes a slog. It contains some finely realized moments and scenes, but is a complete mess of a story with no defined characters and worse acting than the previous two movies already listed here (again, that poor post-synching of audio absolutely destroys any semblance of human qualities for each and every person in the film). At some point, you lose interest in the demons and witches long ago buried beneath the church and begin hoping for some kind of apocalyptic event to give a good reason to shut everyone up. Which all leads to the worst thing I can say about it in the end - it's rather dull.

The Stuff (1985 - Larry Cohen) - For the most part The Stuff knows exactly what it is and what it's going for - it knows it's goofy (one might even call it a cheesefest), tries for some broad satire and isn't really meant to be scary or frightening. It mostly achieves all of this, but it's occasionally pretty hard to get past the "Southern" accent and mannerisms of Michael Moriarty's ex-FBI agent. Perhaps it's my years of watching old Law & Order reruns, but it's hard to take his character in either a serious or comic vein. It has all the standard features of your basic 80s "bad" horror - terrible children actors, extras who seem not to understand the basics of human behaviour and the confidence to ensure that each and every person will always do the stupidest thing possible at just about every decision point. Danny Aiello and Paul Sorvino ("No more of your liberal remarks!") give, um, odd performances in small roles, and it is mostly kind of fun (apart from Moriarty), but I'm a bit mystified at some of the love I've seen for the film. I get why people gravitate to silly films whether they are completely missing the intended mark or not, but this seems to fall so squarely in between good and bad that I'm a bit surprised it caught anyone's attention.

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