Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monster Dog A.K.A. Leviatan, Los Perros de la Muerte (1984)

An Italian horror directed by Claudio Fragasso, starring Alice Cooper.
Alice cooper returns to his hometown with some friends to make a video for his rock band. There are rumors of dangerous dogs and werewolves in the area. When some criminals try to attack the group, dogs and a werewolf also appear.
I found this while doing research on Troll 2. The songs/music videos were cool, but as a movie it was crappy. The script was horribly written. This seems to be a re-occurring problem with Claudio Fragasso's films. This means that like Troll 2, the plot did not make sense and the dialogue was nearly incoherent. I could hear every word, but putting them together in this manner was nonsensical. Character depth is not even to be discussed in this case. You need to be able to stand before you can walk. The video was not bad, but was definitely not good in most parts. Shot composition seemed accidental to the point that some of it looked good and other parts looked like a totally different camera operator. Amazingly, it was actually good on the music videos (picture). It makes me wonder what happened there. The audio was mediocre. I could hear everything and it was better than Troll 2 where layering obscured some sounds. However, that did not sound like Alice Cooper's voice. In fact, it seemed like everyone was dubbed. Why? Overall, I would rather have just seen the music videos than the whole film. I rate this poor.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Superior Firepower: The Making of "Aliens" (2003)

An American documentary directed by Charles de Lauzirika.
Interviews about making the movie, Aliens.
Do you remember The Beast Within? this is basically the same film. Some of the interviews were even shot for both films at the same time. When the interviewee is in the same location, wearing the same clothes, with the same camera placement, it kind of gives that away. This version included lots more about special effects, puppeteering and making miniatures. They used in-camera physical effects because digital effects were so costly and time consuming at that time. We get to see lots of alien models and costumes because there were more aliens in this film. There were 2 interviews that rubbed me the wrong way. One was the brothers who worked on models. Only one of them spoke and the other just sat there uselessly. The other was the composer who complained about tight deadlines for over half an hour. Overall, better than The Beast Within and yes, it made me want to watch Aliens. I rate this good.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Beast Within: The Making of "Alien" (2003)

An American documentary directed by Charles de Lauzirika.
Exactly as the title states: how the movie Alien was made.
Continuing the theme of movies about movies, this was interesting to watch, but much of it was obvious and needed little explanation. The interviews were on-topic and people said some good stuff. There was information included that fans of the series will find interesting. People from the cast and crew go into great detail about who had worked with whom before and selecting who would be working on this film. Technically speaking, the audio and video were great. I guess the real question of it's quality would be making the viewer want to watch Alien. I do, so it seems successful to me. Overall, great for those who like Alien lots and know little about how films are made. I rate this adequate.

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape A.K.A. Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (2010)

A British documentary directed by Jake West.
The story of Margater Thatcher's censorship attack on horror and exploitation films in the early 1980s is discussed. This is followed by in depth discussion of each film on the list as well as a trailer for them.
The initial documentary was very good. Once they started discussing every film on the list and playing trailers, I lost interest quickly. The interviews were full of good information and interesting to watch. The filmmakers used relevant B-roll to illustrate the points being made by the speakers. I think that they covered the subject matter quite well. The problem with the bonus footage was that it became far too repetitive to talk about the films and play original trailers. The speakers in this section did have interesting insights on how the films were made and their immediate reception, but too much of it was just the same thing over and over. The audio and video were technically good, even for the older films that circulated on tape trading networks. Overall, watch the documentary and skip the Final 39 and Dropped 33. I rate this good.

Swept Away A.K.A. Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto (1974)

An Italian romance adventure directed by Lina Wertmuller, starring Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato.
A rich woman on a yacht cruise is stranded on an island with a sailor from the boat. They fall in love, but are separated when they are rescued.
This was different from the 2002 version. It seemed far more serious and emotional. It lacked the comedy element that the remake used so prominently. I still liked the plot and characters. The video seemed more thought out and carefully planned than the remake. There was a scene in which the characters are sitting on the beach and we can see that the sand around them has no footprints in it. The ending was also different. In this original, the sailor's emotions and consequences are more fully demonstrated, whereas the remake just left him on a pier when the rich woman left. The audio on this was very low, but the subtitles were very good. Overall, I thought it was interesting to see both versions of this. I rate it adequate.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Troll 2 (1990)

An Italian American horror directed by Claudio Fragasso, starring Michael Stephenson.
A family goes on a vacation to a rural community. The son finds out that the locals are all vegetarian goblins and must prevent his family from eating anything, lest they become plants and food for the goblins.
This is obviously not the worst movie ever made. Ben Hur, Some Kind of Monster, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie and Blues Brothers 2000 were all far worse than this. Sure, it was total crap, but it didn't cause me physical pain to watch. This was poorly written, acted even worse, the editing was atrocious and they screwed up the sound in many sections. In all honesty, it looked like a first year film student made it. Trust me, I've seen much worse. What makes me so sure of this position? The audio was neither treble-bias screechy, mid-bias honky or bass-bias muffled. I could hear and understand most of the dialogue. The image quality was actually pretty good (just speaking of technical specifications). It was cast amazingly well. The poorly acted characters do indeed fit their roles and I found the female antagonist to be quite attractive (picture). The content did not make me cringe like my childhood idols and supposed metal gods behaving like crybabies (Some Kind of Monster). It was not overly long, with vast expanses of underutilized screen time (Ben Hur). It was not a musical with bad music (The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, Blues Brothers 2000). Overall, the "best worst movie" is more cheesy, hokey and amateurish than anything else. I rate it poor.

Best Worst Movie (2009)

An American documentary directed by Michael Stephenson.
Years after the original release of Troll 2, the film has found a cult following who poke fun at it. The original cast and crew reunite and travel to some film conventions together.
This made me want to watch Troll 2. I don't remember it being all that funny, but I watched it before I even started this blog, so quite a few years ago. George Hardy, the husband/father from Troll 2 should be considered the star of this documentary. This may be because he was the most outgoing extrovert involved and lacked the prerequisite shame that others felt over the original film. He was shown in his dental office, telling patients to go to screenings. Other interviewees commented that they would hate to be in the dental chair at that point because it was so obvious that dentistry was not his top priority. The director, Claudio Fragasso was initially surprised by the amount of people in the audience at screenings. He later learned that they were making fun of his film and his attitude changed accordingly. Margo Prey, the wife/mother of the original exhibited the most shame concerning Troll 2. I won't spoil the priceless scene though. Overall, a documentary for folks who like bad movies. Hard-core flophouse flick fans will recognize Plan 9 from Outer Space and Santa Clause Conquers the Martians when they are stated to be better films. I rate this good.