10th Post Special: The Movie Out Here

Title: The Movie Out Here
Year: 2013
Got It For: VERY Limited Theatrical Release

I’m sort of breaking my gimmick of movies I find for cheap on DVD and Blu-Ray for this one, but I’m still going to count it because it will more than likely be given out with cases of Kokanee beer in the next few months. You see, about a year and a half ago, British Columbia based beer label Kokanee got this idea to hold a contest in which the winners would appear in an actual feature film loosley based around their Kokanee Ranger TV spots. The ads had been running for a few years at this point, and were based around a mountain/park ranger attempting to track down an apparently alcoholic Sasquatch who breaks into cabins to steal cases of Kokanee beer. I don’t even remember what the exact details of the contest were (or if said details were ever mentioned in the commercials). But sure enough, the film got a theatrical release in Western Canadian Cineplex theatres and…well…this is the result.

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Keep in mind, I work at a Cineplex theatre to help pay for my everyday expenses as a university student, and one of the perks is getting movie tickets for a small charitable donation through the company. Maybe 40 people had seen it at my theatre in the three days it was out, 25 of them being one of the actors or contest winners and his friends. Seeing as how terrible this 90 minute long beer commercial looked, I managed to convince a friend at work to see The Movie Out Here as a lark and a good time at a terrible movie. We ended up being the only two people at the screening.

So the movie starts with a little old lady watching Reel Zombies on an old TV. Suddenly, she is aware that she is being watched…BY SASQUATCH! Sasquatch smashes through her window, and naturally granny runs to the door, opens it, and sees Sasquatch standing there. So she promptly kicks him in the nutsack. And if you like nut shots, you’re in luck as there are about 20 more scattered throughout the film. Anyway, this begins the first of 867,984,767 subplots this movie manages to cram into its runtime. After the animated opening credit sequence, we meet our actual main character, Adam. Adam works at a Toronto law firm (or something like that) with a fat guy and a horrifically foul mouthed female boss who follows her male employees into the washroom and comments on their genetalia. Um, where the HELL is HR on this one? The boss tells the fat guy that he has to go to Fernie, BC to file some paperwork about zoning and development for one of the firm’s clients, a big corporation called MegaDeuce whose CEO eats panda brains. No, I’m not kidding, that actually happens in a scene. Fernie happens to be Adam’s hometown, so when the fat guy has a heart attack on the toilet and can’t go, it’s up to Adam to do the job. Oh, and of course when Adam tries to help out Fat Guy, he ends up with an unconcious farting Fat Guy on top of him with his poop stained ass in his face. And if you enjoy staring at people’s bare posteriors, you’re in luck because…well, you get my drift.

So Adam hops on a plane to Fernie and, after being sprayed in the face with breast milk thanks to a woman and her baby seated beside him, runs into a few of his old hometown friends and enemies. One of his friends runs some sort of…hair removal junk shop store, or something, and is $20,000 in debt because he spends all his money on some fake “spiritual advisor.” And wouldn’t you know it, the zoning papers Adam just filed are about to result in the demolition and displacement of his friend’s business. Naturally, the only way to save the business is to spend thousands of dollars on Kokanee beer and throw a drunken party.

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The rest of the movie essentially consists of Adam and his two friends atttempting to find beer while the MegaDueceCEO and his two bully sons (who happen to live in Fernie as well, for a small town in the middle of nowhere, there sure are a lot of important people around). There’s plenty of tasteless and somewhat sickening scenes, and for a movie funded entirely by a beer company with a bunch of cameos from Canadian athletes and musicians (rapper Snow’s appearance leads to the only genuinely funny scene in the movie), the company sure doesn’t look very good in this film. After a scene in which Kokanee loses track of one of their trucks shipping beer to Fernie, my friend remarked that “they can’t keep track of their shit.” So if you’re in the mood for a disgusting “comedy” with B-plots about mountain rangers named “Glacier” and “Fresh” (JUST LIKE KOKANEE’S SLOGAN LOL) this one’s for you.

Oh, and the movie ends on a hilarious note about Sasquatch raping one of the main characters. Thanks Kokanee! Stuff like this is why I don’t drink.

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Exit Speed

Title: Exit Speed
Year: 2008
Got It For: $2.50 ($9.99 four movie set)

Whew, it’s been a while. Since I now have some time to marathon some movies, I thought I’d dust off the ‘ol blog and write some more clearance bin reviews. So let’s jump right back into it.

Exit Speed came on the same DVD 4-pack that includes The Octagon and another Chuck Norris flick, A Force of One, which may see a review here eventually for it’s amazing plot about karate serial killers and the champion who trains the police to fight karate and- oh right, Exit Speed.

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This film is actually a nice little low budget action thriller. A group of ten people get on a coach headed straight through the heart of Texas (and as movies have taught us, any road trip through Texas is a terrible idea). But instead of a chainsaw weilding maniac, our heroes are harassed by a motorcycle gang straight out of Mad Max. Things heat up when the gang comes after the group after the bus driver accidentally runs over a few of their members. Barricading themselves in an abandoned junk yard, these folks from all walks of life have to band together and use their skills to try to survive the night.

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There’s a lot to like about Exit Speed. The action starts with a tense chase scene and rarely lets up from there. The characters are likeable and dynamic, and even the ones who start out as annoying stereotypes eventually grow into their own as they learn to stay alive. There’s an army deserter on the run from her seargent, a divorced dad and single mom, a high school sports coach with temper issues, and even a LARPer (Live Action Role Player) who turns out to be a crack archer.

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The action is fun and makes you root for the good guys and despise the bad guys, but there’s still a dash of humanity. We know that most of these people are just everyday folks thrust into a kill or be killed situation. While the film has a good share of action violence, there are a few grisly scenes that are pretty effective. The heroes are often sickened by what they have to do, and the villains are made out to be sadistic and disgusting people.

Overall, I say this movie is worth a watch for action fans.

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The Happening

NOTE: An unfinished version of this review was put up because of some weird glitch with WordPress. Below is the complete review.

Title: The Happening

Year: 2008

Got It For: $5.00

Thanks to this DVD, I have resolved never again to watch behind-the-scenes special features before writing these reviews. The Happening is a hilariously bad movie. But like all movies, a colossal amount of work went into it and everyone involved was trying hard to make it good. Watching the “making of” featurettes on the DVD was a somewhat depressing exercise and it got me thinking about where it all went wrong. Ludicrous plot? Terrible acting? Poor direction? Well, let’s dig in and find out what makes The Happening so cringe worthy.

Hint: This is part of it!

The first scene  takes place in Central Park, where a woman observes everyone around her stop what they’re doing and begin searching for ways to kill themselves. This is a somewhat creepy moment, but it’s ruined by plot holes when we discover what’s causing such things to happen; but we’ll get to that in minute. We’re then introduced to our hero, a schoolteacher played by a vegetative Mark Whalberg. He and his wife; the horribly miscast Zooey Daeschanel (who seems to play the exact same character in everything she’s ever been in) have a relationship that’s been on the rocks lately. Can they salvage their love in the midst of this mass disaster? Why do perfectly healthy people suddenly want to kill themselves?

With proper writing and many, many better decisions, this may have turned out to be a good movie. But there are so many problems here; the only way to properly describe them all is in a classic bullet point list.

  • Terrible performances from normally talented actors. It seriously feels like everyone is reading the script for the first time.
  • Ridiculous twist. Spoiler alert here just in case you haven’t seen the movie. It turns out that the trees (not any specific species mind you, just “the trees”) are releasing chemicals that erase the human instinct for self preservation. While it is true that many plants use toxic or pungeant chemicals to defend against predators or claim an area of soil; the idea that they can just create new poisons and release them at will against a single species is ludicrous. Also, how was that one woman at the beginning not affected?
  • Apparently the movie takes place over a period of one or two days. In this time, scientists figure out what the chemical does, where it’s coming from, and have already organised press conferenes and TV interviews. Not to mention entire cities are evacuated.
  • Characters appear and disappear as needed. A random couple who know a lot about plants, a displaced Army private, and two random teenage boys (who are both shot about 10 minutes after they are introduced) and a psychotic old lady (the best and honestly scareist part of this movie) are amoung the cast of characters we get to “know” and “love.”
  • The kid in this movie (oh yeah, I forgot to mention the whole depressing John Leguizamo and his daughter subplot that ends with his death before the halfway point) has an Avatar: The Last Airbender backpack, foreshadowing another Shyamalan bomb.

I’m just scratching the surface here. There are SO many things wrong with this movie, that you have to experience it to truly understand. And it proves that just because you work really hard on something; it doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good.

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The Capture of Bigfoot

Title: The Capture of Bigfoot

Year: 1979

Got It For: $3.33

 When Bill Rebane made a movie, he made it a family affair, as evidenced by the credits for 1979’s “the Capture of Bigfoot.” The end scroll hardly had a line go by without a crew member‘s surname being  Rebane, and if it wasn’t Rebane then the person likely shared their name with at least one other person responsible for bringing us this snow covered gem. It seems that in the late ‘70’s there was a big Sasquatch/Yeti/Arak (the native name given to the legendary creature in this feature) fad going on, as this is one of long line of low-budget Bigfoot movies that hit the silver screen in that time period.

Whatcha gonna do, brother, when Arakamania and these 24 inch pythons run wild on you!

And oh boy, what a movie this is. We get our first full shot of Arak in the opening scene, foregoing any attempt to build atmosphere or tension through the wait to see what our monster looks like. See, some business man operating out of some backwoods ski resort in…uh…Place, USA, is obsessed with hunting down the legendary creature, and has hired a number of trappers to help him in his quest for surefire fame and fortune. Unfortunately for the trappers, the Arak they capture is merely a youngin’ and soon a full grown ape man appears to take them out. With a mighty sound that is not at all similar to some guy just yelling “BLLLEEEEUUGHGHGHGHGH!!!!” as he jumps out from behind a tree, Bigfoot grabs one trapper, turns him into floppy dummy, and tosses him face first into the snowbank before sending his partner home with fatal face wounds. As the park ranger and local Sherriff start to figure out what’s going on, the business man spirals into a blind murderous fury as everyone races to get their hands on Arak.

 

The first thirty minutes of this picture will have you laughing until your eyes bulge out of their sockets. The monster costumes, while not horrible in a technical sense (honestly the Bigfoot masks look pretty good) are still dopey looking and make it awkward for the actor to walk around in the snow. However, it starts to lose steam about halfway through. We’ve been given the payoff reveal of the monster in the first scene, so watching people traipse through the wood – often falling flat on their face in the snow- and arguing over the creature’s legitimacy starts to get boring pretty quickly. Still, this movie contains so many hilarious shots and sounds that a couple of screenshots can’t possibly hope to capture the magic. Highlights of the film include:

  •  A kid who sounds like Rocky the flying squirrel
  • High flying snowmobile accidents
  • Rodeo clowns at a ski racing event
  • A terrible band playing terrible music with terrible lyrics at a terrible dance party at the lodge
  • Boxes labeled “Explosives” left near burning welding torches
  • A car chase with one jump onto another car’s roof, one rollover, one explosion, and one hit-and-run

If you’re a fan of Bigfoot or poorly acted monster films in general, I say give this one a shot if you find it lying around somewhere.

 

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The Octagon

Title: The Octagon

Year: 1980

Got It For: $2.50 ($9.99 four movie set)

 

Watching The Octagon really shows how far action movies have devolved over the years. Oh, it’s a silly movie with cheesy acting and ludicrous characters, but it’s a look back at a time when something could be considered an action movie even if five minutes went by without something exploding. Even with its problems, it’s more gritty and graphic than much of today’s PG-13 (or 14A as we call it here) fare.

Chuck Norris plays Scott, a former martial arts competitor who was trained as a ninja throughout his childhood. When people around him start dying, Scott suspects his former “brother” may be training an army of terrorists as ninja assassins. When his best friend goes off like an idiot to take down the camp by himself, Scott finally decides he has to fight one more time to protect the people he cares about.

In spite of the hilarious plot and sub-par acting (which can’t be placed on Norris alone), the story mangages to create some suspense, as we really begin to wonder whether Scott can kill the man he considered his brother for the entirety of his formative years. However, certain elements of this film just put it too far over the top. We’re treated to Scott’s inner monologue (we know this because the voice is all echo-ey) throughout the movie, and the interspersed ninja training sequences are just too goofy to put any stock in. Oh, and no less than three women have the hots for Norris’s character over the course of the picture. There’s literally one for each act of the movie!  As one love interest is killed off, another immedietly takes her place.

The Octagon may feel a bit slow to today’s action movie audience, but if you want an early example of what made ‘80’s action movies awesome, this is a perfect example.

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Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Calling Dr. Death

Title: Calling Dr. Death

Year: 1943

Got It For: $5 (set of six movies).

I happen to be quite the fan of old radio dramas, especially ones of the thriller/horror varieties. Radio plays are quite the lost art these days, though you can still find them being made by a few broadcasters like the CBC and BBC. To my knowledge however, none of these are in the genre of suspense or horror, which in my opinion are the best for this type of audio drama. With breathless speeches from the characters, spooky sounds and eerie ambience the listener’s mind can create a vast canvas of the most horrifying things it can imagine. One of the best horror dramas ever on the radio was Inner Sanctum, which ran almost all the way through the 1940’s and into the ‘50’s. The series was so popular in fact that a series of six movies were made for Universal Pictures under the “Inner Sanctum” banner, a fact I was unaware of until I ran into a DVD of all six of these films on a $5 rack. All of the movies star Lon Chaney Jr. of Universal’s popular Wolf Man franchise. This brings us to our current feature, Calling Dr. Death.

Chaney plays Dr. Mark Steele, a successful neurologist with a talent for hypnotism. While Dr. Stelle is adept at unlocking the secrets of all his patients, his own life and mental health are a mess. He’s trapped in a loveless marriage with a woman only interested in his money, has a thing for his cute nurse, and is beginning to hear his own voice in his head suggesting that maybe life would be better with his wife out of the picture, *nudge nudge, wink wink.* One Monday morning, Steele wakes up to find his wife has been murdered and he can’t quite remember where he’s been all weekend. Hey, don’t act like it’s never happened to you! So is Steele really the killer? Is an innocent man going to the chair? Or is someone else behind the whole thing?

This film is actually quite good. Chaney and the rest of the cast deliver good performances, especially for what was a low budget picture, and the film is shot quite nicely with a decent DVD transfer. If you’re a fan of old fashioned mystery and suspense tales, it will do quite well for you. The film isn’t perfect however. Some of the superimposed “state of mind images” are a bit cheesy, and the famous Inner Sanctum host that bookended the radio program is nowhere to be found. We are, however, introduced to a man whom I refer to as “Mr. Crystal Ballhead.”

It clocks in at just over an hour, which was pretty standard for some low budget movies of the time, but it may come across as a bit of a ripoff at regular full price by itself. If the other five movies are as good as this one was though, it’s a steal as a set for five bucks.

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Double Feature: Fantasy Mission Force/Fire Dragon

Titles: Fantasy Mission Force, Fire Dragon

Years: 1982, 1986 respectively

Got Them For: $1.25 each, $5 set of four movies

There are a couple of friends I have who only get together every couple of months, as the one common friend that links us – the one whose house we use a vast majority of the time – attends school in another part of the province. For a few meetings, one of these friends told me the tale of the “Jackie Chan Action Pack,” which he had picked up for five dollars God knows where. None of the movies had Jackie Chan in any soert of leading role, and my friend had managed to sit through one movie, Fantasy Mission Force. Naturally I was intrigued. For months I demanded to see this set of DVDs. Finally, my persistance was rewarded and he gave me the set free of charge.

Oh boy. This set is a cheap bargain title and it shows from the minimal menu (stating the titles of the two movies on the disc and playing a twenty second clip of music that sounds suspiciously like “25 or 6 to 4 over and over again) to the hilariously poorly written synopsis of each movie on the back, two of which give away the endings of the movie.

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We’re just going to cover two of the movies here; though honestly they’re almost the exact same thing. No literally. Fantasy Mission Force is probably the most bizarre comedy I’ve ever seen in my life. It apparently takes place in World War II, where a group of rag-tag fighters with over-the-top personalities are recruited to find a case of money stolen by “the Japs.” Their words, not mine. Along the way they encounter a haunted house, a village of warrior amazon women led by Tuxedo Mask, and Nazis driving Mad Max style muscle cars. The movie is completely insane and completely entertaining (if you can take some light hearted racism and violence against women). Jackie Chan plays a theif who ends up helping our main heroes a few times along the way, and even defeats the big baddie at the end.
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Our second movie on the docket is Fire Dragon. I had no idea what was going on throughout quick cutting and murderous midgets hiding in cakes, so I’ll just let the back of the box explain it.

“During a war, the intelligence group of the country several members of the commitee to form a team to steal the seret file from the enemy’s army base. Among the members of the team are prisoner, famous theives and great fighters. Their destination is the Island of the Women Warriors. Unfortunately they are trapped on an island. Will they be able to succeed with their mission? Or will they discover something so unbelieveable about their own intelligence group?”

Sound familiar? It should, 80% of Fire Dragon is stock footage of Fantasy Mission Force, making it almost impossible to review this movie on its own merits. The filmmakers spliced in shots of two other actors and some body doubles and very poorly tried to disguise the fact that some of the actors in were not the same as those in other parts of the movie made from the butchered FMF (including a shot from behind “Jackie Chan”). It’s so horrible that in one scene the FMF characters meet up with the two being shot for Fire Dragon and even through the silhouette disguising their faces it is obvious the Jeep the FMF chracters are riding in changed colour.  Ugh, I’m getting confused again…it’s hard to believe a movie that’s made almost entirely of a movie I’ve already seen is so hard to understand.Image

Fire Dragon is absolutely painful, and the only redeeming qualities are the hilariously awesome dub done for the hero (the one actually shot for Fire Dragon) and hearing the Psycho shower music during a flashback scene.

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Day of the Animals

Title: Day of the Animals

Year: 1977

Got It For: $3.33

 

You know, I can’t help thinking that for the rest of my life; I will have to compare every movie I ever see to Day of the Animals. This film has become my measuring stick for motion pictures. Oh, not because it’s such an excellent movie, but because it has perhaps the most amazing minute or so of footage I’ve ever seen: Leslie Nielson fighting a bear.

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Oh yes indeed. You see, this picture is a vision of the future. Of what COULD happen IF the human population continues to deplete the ozone layer with dangerous flourocarbons. What happens if the ozone layer is depleted? Are people burned to death under intense heat? Do the harsh UV rays cause food supplies to wither and die, leaving us in a fight for survival against the elements and our very neighbors? Of course not stupid! It causes all the animals around to go crazy go nuts and start attacking all the humans. Birds sit beside children! Snakes attempt to drive trucks! Rats use cat-a-pults (or should I say rat-a-pults) to attack police!

We experience this horror alongside our intrepid protagonists, a group of hikers on a two week excursion into the woods who are just unlucky enough to get caught in the middle of it all during the Day (should be days, as the movie takes place over at least five) of the Animals!

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The movie itself is hit and miss. The animals are real, well-trained creatures in wide shots, but the close-ups allow us to see the hilariously bad puppets used for the attack scenes. However, if you enjoy cheesiness as much as I do and want to see Leslie Nielson (pre-comedy work) play a bigot who goes Ultimate Warrior on a grizzly bear, this is the movie for you!

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Creature From the Haunted Sea

Title: Creature from the Haunted Sea

Year: 1961

Got It For: About $1 ($5 DVD with 5 movies)

The original poster for Creature from the Haunted Sea begs me “PLEASE DO NOT GIVE AWAY THE ANSWER TO THE SECRET.” That secret apparently being that this film is actually a comedy. Going in, I had no idea that this was going to be an intentionally funny movie, as most advertising for the movie played it up as a straight up creature feature. The plot is that an American criminal and his crew (one of whom is actually an American spy) assist a number of Cuban loyalists in stealing a large amount of gold from the Cuban treasury. They then proceed to bump off each of the Cubans on the way to Puerto Rico, blaming it on a made up monster that, of course, turns out to be real. And made of sentient seaweed and ping pong balls apparently.

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According to IMDB, the original runtime for this movie was 61 minutes. The version on my disc is about 75 minutes long; evidence that it’s actually the TV cut that had a number of scenes added later on. While the main plot is straightforward and has some pretty funny writing, there are a number of subplots in this version that are convoluted, don’t make much sense, and take away from the movie overall. The production values are obviously quite low, this being an early-ish Roger Corman film. Props and costumes look cheap and somewhat silly, and one scence near the beginning is so poorly lit you can hardly tell what’s going on until a random car chase breaks out…and even then it’s pretty fuzzy.

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This movie is certainly an odd one. Part spy spoof, part monster movie spoof, part crime spoof, it’s an aqueous solution of funny, weird, and low, low budget. If you’re like me and have a taste for aged cheese, I say try it out. Otherwise you’ll probably be left scratching your head wondering where the last hour and fifteen minutes of your life went.

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Judge Dredd

Title: Judge Dredd

Year: 1995

Got It For: $4.80

Going into the 1995, uh, “summer blockbuster” Judge Dredd, I pretty much knew what I was getting into. Comic book adaptation, Slyvester Stallone vehicle, and an infamously cheesy movie. Hell, this film’s alternate title may well have been “1001 Kooky Faces of Armand Assante.”

The premise of this classic? A few hundred years in the future society has collapsed…and then risen…and is in the midst of a collapse…again…I think. Anyway, the streets are patrolled by Judges, brave men and women who don red plastic armour and ride large unweildy plastic motorcycles through the middle of soccer riots in the name of justice. Judge Joseph Dredd, played by Stallone, is one of the senior members of the force and looked up to by cadets and fellow Judges alike. After giving a lecture to his adoring pupils on the importance of upholding the law, Dredd is framed for the murder of a journalist by his former best friend, who has plans for taking over the city that include rock’em sock’em robots.

 

Dredd is tried and given a life sentence, at least five years of which apparently must be spent with Rob Schneider. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. Their transport is shot down by cannibals however, and soon Stallone is teaming up with Schneider’s 1337 haxxor, murdering other Judges and causing massive collateral damage and casualties throughout the city, all in the name of JUSTICE AND LAW!

While the acting in this movie is incredibly cheesy and the DVD has a weird issue with aspect ratio on my TV, it’s worth the $4.80. I got a few good chuckles out of it and the effects are somewhat impressive for the time. The costumes are ridiculous and the characters over-the-top, but sometimes that’s what makes a movie enjoyable. I say pick it up if you find it somewhere on a lonely shelf in the depths of your local video provider.