Thursday, July 24, 2014

1989: Guilty Pleasures

Lots of enjoyable crap this year, let's dig in!

Christopher Walken's gonzo performance is the main attraction in this very, very, very loose adaptation of Whitley Streiber's book of the same title.  Playing a rather embellished version of the author, Walken is a sight to behold as he is abducted and experimented on by aliens, at one point making random pop culture references about them.  It's quite a performance and the fact that it's directed by the same guy who did the second and third Howling movies makes it even better.  It's an amazingly odd movie.

While Wes Craven is capable of making legit horror classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street, he also can take a ride off the deep end from time to time.  Shocker is one of those times as a deranged serial kill (played by Mitch Pileggi of The X-Files) is captured and given the chair only to come back an energy being that can travel through phone lines and TV signals and a good chunk of the film is him possessing random folks.  The highlight is the finale which sees the young teen hero chase the villain through the TV in a wild sequence that makes this rather routine for the most part flick a hilarious delight.

The first attempt at a film based on Marvel's Punisher comic book is a loud, violent, cheesy bit of junky fun as Dolph Lundgren hulks his way through the film growling out the occasional line of dialogue and killing a ton of people.  The film isn't exactly faithful to the comic but it's such an enjoyably cheesy ride that it doesn't matter much.  It's a fun, gleefully bad action movie.

I get a kick out this sort of cheap looking, utterly cheesy post-apocalyptic action flick from Cannon.  Jean-Claude van Damme is our loner hero for the day and he must transport a young woman cyborg who holds the key to curing a virus that has devastated the planet.  Cheesy f/x, adequate fights and a few flashbacks where van Damme sports a hideous wig make this a cheesy bit of fun.  It's the second best film Albert Pyun has ever made.

Now we come to a quartet of misguided, sort of pointless and in two cases, funny for all the wrong reasons sequels to hit movies.

The title is a cheat as Jason doesn't even hit land until an hour or so in but the eighth Friday the 13th film sports some nice kills, a typically good performance from Kane Hodder as Jason and some cheesy moments here and there.  The stuff on the boat before we get to New York is not that bad but when we finally hit land, it becomes a cheesy blast.

Most die-hard Trek fans loathe this one with a passion but as a casual fan (to the point of being nearly apathetic, actually), I find the fifth Star Trek film to be actually quite entertaining.  William Shatner's ego was in full force for this one and the end result is some pretty funny bits mixed with some philosophical stuff that tries like hell to work but doesn't.  It's a failure, yes, but a very entertaining one.

After cleaning house at the box office, a sequel to Ghostbusters was inevitable.  Sporting a less than enthusiastic cast, the second film has the guys called in once again to deal with some ghosts as an evil being imprisoned in a painting targets the city.  Bill Murray is funny, but the rest of the cast is sort of hit or miss.  The f/x are great and the overall film, while sort of redundant based on how much it cribs from the first one, manages to be entertaining.  It's not a great sequel, but it gets the job done well enough.

In a way, even though it more or less hits the same beats as the first, I like the second Fletch film more than the first.  Chevy Chase returns as the disguise loving, smartass investigative journalist and this time, he's trying to clear his name after being framed for murder.  He's inherited an estate in Louisiana and after sleeping with the realtor, he ends up being blamed for her murder.  Chase does his usual here with tons of wisecracks and disguises and while all the usual jabs at the south are taken, I can't really gripe because hey... It made me laugh.  As with the first one, the supporting cast is just fine with Cleavon Little and Hal Holbrook standing out along with R. Lee Ermey as a televangelist.  It's just dumb fun and one of the last good things Chevy Chase has done.

Nothing says guilty pleasure like pro wrestling and when you put mega-star Hulk Hogan in a movie where he's expected to emote, the results are pure unintentional comedy gold.  Hogan plays himself, more or less and his nemesis is Zeus, a huge monster of a man played by Tom "Tiny" Lister.  Zeus has been employed by an evil TV exec played by the omnipresent in 1989 Kurt Fuller who wants to put on a match between the two in an attempt to save his flailing network.  Hogan (his character is named Rip but come on, it's Hulk frigging Hogan) balks at the offer and it;ls only after his kid brother is paralyzed by Zeus that he accepts.  A romance with a corporate spy played by Joan Severance is also thrown in and through all of this, Hogan is just the cheesiest guy you could possibly hope for.  No Holds Barred is an amazingly dumb, sort of tasteless action film that is well worth tracking down if you want a laugh or twenty.

Coming soon: The Best of 1989

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.