January 2013

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

Oh Troma Entertainment, you never disappoint me when I need something weird to talk about.

Directed by Peter George

Produced by Robert Tinnell

Written by Jon Ayre

Gail Neely
Barry Brenner
Robert Harden
Tom Demenkoff

Music by Jon McCallum

Cinematography Rolf Kestermann

Editing by Craig A. Colton

Distributed by Troma Entertainment

Running time - 83 minutes

Surf Nazis Must Die is a 1987 American comedy film directed by Peter George and starring Gail Neely, Barry Brenner, and Robert Harden. It was produced by The Institute, a production company formed by Peter George, Craig A. Colton and Robert Tinnell, and distributed by Troma Entertainment, a company known for its low-budget exploitation films.

Leeroy's Mama An earthquake leaves the California coastline in ruins and reduces the beaches to a state of chaos. A group of Neo-Nazis led by Adolf (Brenner), the self-proclaimed "Führer of the new beach," takes advantage of the resulting chaos by fighting off several rival surfer gangs to seize control of the beaches. Meanwhile, an African American oil well worker named Leroy (Harden) is killed by the Nazis while jogging on the beach. Leroy's mother "Mama" Washington (Neely), devastated by the loss of her son, vows revenge. After arming herself with a handgun and grenades, she breaks out of her retirement home and sets out to exact bloody vengeance on the Surf Nazis.

The Fuhrer I re-watched this film earlier today and afterward considered going with a different movie, perhaps Poultrygeist or Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. but decided against it so I could torture myself with those films at a later date, I mean reserve the right to discuss and share the brilliance of those masterpieces of cinema at a future time if you all can behave yourselves.  Damn it I sat through Surf Nazis and if I had to suffer so should you. 

As usual this film is up to the high standards you would expect from a Troma movie but if you are watching a Troma movie you are not expecting Oscar award winning anything from it.  The above blurb pretty much covers everything you need to know about the plot.  What is surprising is that the acting is better than most films in the Troma vault.  If you accept the goofy nature of the film then the characters become believable.  The backstory of how the world got this way seems to be missing some details but in all it explains what it needs to.

If you are the curious type then you can watch the film in it’s entirety at youtube.  Troma released most of their catalogue to the internet over the past couple of years.  This is a fun film but be ready for some gory scenes when Leeroy’s Mom gets her revenge on the Surf Nazis.


Related Articles:

How not to make a werewolf movie

If you have been following you are already aware of my deep love and respect for the majestic werewolf.  If there was one mythological beast I hope is real this would be the one.  Today we will delve into that special combination of budget, script, effects and acting that can suck the life out what should be a simple formula for terror.
I will be avoiding the various arguments of humanoid vs. quadruped, behavior and killing method that seem to span the current breed of werewolves in cinema, did you see what I did there with ‘breed’, and just stick to the basic universal rules of lycanthropy. 
  1. Character gets infected and isn’t aware that he/she is.
  2. Character transforms and doesn’t particularly care for it.
  3. Friends and loved ones are placed in jeopardy.
  4. Everyone dies violently.
  5. Werewolf either gets killed or vanishes into the darkness to kill again in the sequel.
Now an otherwise great werewolf movie can be brought to a sudden stop by something as simple as a bad makeup design.  Using the most excellent film “The Howling” by Joe Dante as my example I wish to demonstrate what I mean.  Keep in mind this is the same movie and the same effects department creating the very different looks of two of the characters.
This is a werewolf
This is a Pomeranian
After a movie full of some of the best looking werewolves that 1981 had to offer, they end the movie with Dee Wallace turning into Chewbacca.  But I’m not here to tarnish this wonderful film.  I’m here to show two examples of screwing up a simple horror movie concept.

War Wolves (2009)

War Wolves is a 2009 television movie that originally aired on the Syfy network on March 8, 2009. The film stars John Saxon and Michael Worth, who also serves as the film's director.
Jack Ford leads a special forces unit back to the United States to hunt down Jake Gabriel, a soldier who has been infected with the werewolf virus that turns man into wolf. Little does Jack know that three of the female soldiers serving in his unit have also been infected and have already transformed into she-wolves. The she-wolves' forces of evil and Ford's special op forces of good, are pitted against each other in the race to save mankind from turning into wolves.
Oh boy, where to start?  Staring and Directed by the same guy is never a good sign.  How about SyFy original, which usually means done for $20 and lunch.  But I have seen some great films done cheap so maybe this one will be…
Sweet Jeebus!  Really?!  The makeup is really just plastic ears and teeth, contacts and black greasepaint on the end of her nose?  There is no way it can all look this bad.  They had to make the male werewolf better.
Ah…Bad picture, maybe a different angle.
Holy Crap!  Yep, and it only goes downhill from there.  Fight sequences over-use that Matrix bullet time effect and flight by wire so the jumps are epic and acrobatic.  Dialogue is delivered by growling but the ill fitting plastic teeth also make the actors slobber so every line is this weird gravelly lispy spit projecting overdone emoting monologue.  Last but not least, let’s look at the character descriptions:
  • Michael Worth as Jake Gabriel who had left his former comrades behind and uses alcohol and drugs to suppress the urges and changes his body is undergoing. He coins the alias Lawrence Talbot, the name of the original Wolfman
  • Natasha Alam as Erika Moore Jake's love interest and leader of the wolves in Jake's absence, she attempts to convert the reluctant Jake into embracing his wolf side and turning against the humans.
  • John Saxon as Tony Ford an aging military General in hunt of the wolves. Detached from his family due to his lengthy, seemingly endless work.
  • Tim Thomerson as Frank Bergman Ford's assistant, a rambunctious old man who seems to make light of about any situation. He is Tony's opposite and best friend.
  • Adrienne Barbeau as Gail a woman who has taken Jake in, she attends an AA group at the local church which Jake attends as well. She is a very insightful woman who regales stories of "her" Kenny and provides profound insight, mixed with a little belief in Men in Black, Sasquatch, Aliens etc.
They just had to invoke Lon Chaney Jr. not that it lends any respect to the film.  There are so many clichés and recycled plot points in this film I don’t think there is anything original in the whole 104 minutes.

Half Moon (2010)

"Half Moon" tells the story of a city gripped with fear because of a man killing prostitutes. When down on her luck prostitute Rose (Shellie Chapman aka Tori Black) goes to a hotel to meet a man who seems like the perfect guy things soon change and she suspects he could be the killer ...or worse a Werewolf.
When I first became aware of this film I thought it could be a great film.  There is a Jack the Ripper killing working girls, Rose meets Jacob at the hotel and after a few hours of just talking lets her guard down.  When Jacob goes to the bathroom she opens the duffle bag he brought and finds it full of S&M gear and weapons.  After handcuffing him to a chair the mystery of whether he is the serial killer or not begins to play out all the while trying to not reveal what he really is.  I believed this could be the best idea I had heard for a werewolf movie.  Not really sure if our character really is infected or just insane.  Unfortunately, there is so much wrong with this movie I actually only watched twenty minutes of it and then jumped to the end for the forty seconds of werewolf…blurry, fun fur wearing werewolf.
You would think the problem would be Tori Black since adult film actresses are not known for their acting ability but she did a great job.  As I recall this film only has two locations, the street where Rose hears about the job and the hotel room so money got saved there.  The pacing and dialogue feels so far off my head hurt after only the twenty minutes I gave it.  There are stretches where Rose and Jacob are talking about absolutely nothing and it feels like the cameraman just let the camera roll while the two characters made up their own awkward lines.
I wanted this to be a good film both because I thought the plot sounded interesting and I wanted Tori Black to deliver a performance so amazing it made people rethink their prejudice toward adult film actors.  Too bad I was wrong.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Traveler (2010) and Twixt (2011)

We have a super very extra special double shot of Val Kilmer for this ICFIFC. 

Val Kilmer at Cannes in 2005Born in Los Angeles, California on December 31, 1959. Studied at Hollywood's Professional's School and, in his teens, entered Juilliard's drama program. His professional acting career began on stage, and he still participates in theater; he played Hamlet at the 1988 Colorado Shakespeare Festival. His film debut was in the 1984 spoof Top Secret! (1984), wherein he starred as blond rock idol Nick Rivers then the cult classic Real Genius (1985), as well as the blockbuster action/fantasy film Willow (1988). He was in a number of films throughout the 1980s, including the 1986 smash Top Gun (1986). Despite his obvious talent and range, it wasn't until his astonishingly believable performance as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors (1991) that the world sat up and took notice. Kilmer again put his good baritone to use in the movie, performing all of the concert pieces. Since then, he has played two more American legends, Elvis Presley in True Romance (1993) and Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993). In July 1994, it was announced that Kilmer would be taking over the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Michael Keaton.

The Traveler (2010)

A mysterious drifter blows into a small town on Christmas Eve, and sets off a string of gruesome events that threaten the lives of six police officers in this thriller starring Val Kilmer. As the townspeople settle in for the holiday and darkness washes over the town, a man (Kilmer) enters the local police station and confesses to committing multiple murders. Now, with each new detail the stranger reveals, it becomes increasingly clear that the real nightmare is only beginning.

The majority of reviews call this Rod Serling’s High Plains Drifter, but if Serling or Eastwood had anything to do with this film it might have been good.  As it stands, it would have to improve to be mediocre.  I wanted to like this film since I like Val Kilmer as an actor and normally I would relish a weird tale about revenge of an innocent(?) man coming back from the grave to pay back those who wronged him but it comes across as a excuse to string six killing scenes together.  A straight to video release and it shows.  At points the plot comes to a complete halt, probably because there is about 40 minutes of material to fill 96 minutes of film.  If you are a true fan of Kilmer you are welcome to watch but if you want a decent movie you should look elsewhere.

Twixt (2011)

A writer with a declining career arrives in a small town as part of his book tour and gets caught up in a murder mystery involving a young girl. That night in a dream, he is approached by a mysterious young ghost named V. He's unsure of her connection to the murder in the town, but is grateful for the story being handed to him. Ultimately he is led to the truth of the story, surprised to find that the ending has more to do with his own life than he could ever have anticipated.

In an interview with The New York Times, Francis Ford Coppola discussed the origins of the film, which he said "grew out of dream [he] had last year – more of a nightmare" and "seemed to have the imagery of Hawthorne or Poe." He continued:

But as I was having it I realized perhaps it was a gift, as I could make it as a story, perhaps a scary film, I thought even as I was dreaming. But then some loud noise outside woke me up, and I wanted to go back to the dream and get an ending. But I couldn't fall back asleep so I recorded what I remembered right there and then on my phone. I realized that it was a gothic romance setting, so in fact I'd be able to do it all around my home base, rather than have to go to a distant country.

Twixt was filmed at Coppola's estate in Napa County as well as locations in Lake County, California, including downtown Kelseyville and Nice.

Musician Dan Deacon scored the film. The film's name was changed from Twixt Now and Sunrise to Twixt, and scenes from it were played at the July 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Now we’re talking!  Alcohol induced hallucinations, ghosts of little girls, vampire orgies and Edgar Allen Poe making an appearance.  This is where I disagree with other reviewers, I liked this film.  Kilmer owns his character and squeezes every last drop of a writer in decline out of it that he can.   Elle Fanning, who’s acting ability I am starting to pay attention to, plays the little dead girl is the creepiest fashion.  There are points in this film you start questioning whether anything is real or all in Hall (Kilmer) Baltimore’s head and then ten minutes later reverse what you decided.  It is a shame Coppola only did a limited release when it was in theaters which would be the reason it didn’t make any money.  This could have been one of the films Kilmer would have been remembered for.  If you can hunt down a DVD or catch it on Sundance Channel like I did I would highly recommend you take in this film and savor what was created.

Related Articles:

  1. Val Kilmer Page at IMDB
  2. The Traveler Review at Answers.com
  3. Twixt Page at IMDB
  4. Twixt Page at Wikipedia

Sunday, January 6, 2013

3 quick thoughts

Got home and I am working on the It Came From IFC for tomorrow but wanted to throw out three quick things on my mind.

1.  Go here now and read a great article about horror movie casting by BJ-C at Day of The Women.  No one has a better understanding of how to make an effective horror movie than she, plus I kind of idolize her.

2.  If you’re going to remake Texas Chainsaw Massacre could you try to actually watch the original?  Leatherface was not the only “villain” in the original and some of the scenes that don’t focus on him are the ones I remember more, for example The Dinner Scene.

3.  Why is it when we have a character listening to music in any of the Star Trek series it is always classical or big band or jazz or show tunes?  You telling me there is no rock or metal in the 24th century?  Ensign Redshirt doesn’t get off his duty shift and relax with a little Slayer?  Dr. Phlox doesn’t jam out with Hank Williams Sr.?  Unless you count J.J. Abrams trying to convince me Kid Rock will still be around in the late 23rd century but I doubt anyone will remember his name 20 years from now.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Unforeseen Delays

As I write this I am sitting in an airport in Eastern Europe awaiting the next string of flight delays.  I had hoped to have been back to the states days ago but due to inclement weather or werewolves on the runway or whatever, it did not turn out so much to my chagrin.  I will do my best to be back at the HQ sometime in the next few days and we will be back to daily posts starting this coming Monday the 7th.

Sorry for the delays in posts but I guess it was beyond my underlings to write something in my absence.