Am I the only one who remembers Grand Theft Auto: Vice City?
No, that’s too flippant. I know for a fact director Nicolas Winding Refn remembers Steve McQueen’s 1972 movie The Getaway. I’ll bet he remembers its pointless 1994 remake (starring Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger of all people) as well. Me, though, I remember Vice City. I played the whole way through that stupid game twice (2002 was a bad year) and, apart from its bitchin’ soundtrack, I remember a whole lot of hot pink cursive text. The kind that’s all over Drive, Refn’s ninth movie and the first real critical darling of Fall 2011.
That last sentence assumes you’re like me and like to pretend Planet of the Apes remakes don’t exist. [Future Dave’s note: You’ll have to forgive past-me’s egregiously ill-informed pre-judgement of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which we wound up liking quite a lot, in spite of its shitty title. Proof, once again, that the Cultural Zeitgeist is occasionally right about something and that I am a misanthropic, ornery jerk, prone to thinking the worst about everything.] So I’m a critic. I should like Drive…right? Well…I do…kinda…but I’m not like you people. You see this site. You know what I’m into. And hopefully I’ve made what I don’t like crystal clear. Continue reading Drive (2011)→
Twelve years after his debut, Godzilla found himself riding an international wave of giant monster movies, Japanese or otherwise. The previous three films flooded Toho Studios with an admirable amount of cash and an (arguably) even larger amount of prestige. Rival studios began fielding their own monstrous challengers to Godzilla’s crown, but no one really cared about them yet. Why settle for second, third, or even fourth-best when the King of Monsters’ still going strong?
Hoping to cement their market dominance, Toho shook things up behind the scenes, turning director Ishiro Honda’s years of daikaiju movie-making experience towards creating new kaiju with familiar, and thus internationally marketable, names (like “Frankenstein“). Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya, his work now in high demand, founded the production company that bears his name and set to work creating the next generation of fans through the then-new medium of television…and a little superhero show called Ultraman. You might’ve heard about it.
Then someone got a hot idea: resurrect King Kong and team him up with Mothra for a rollicking kaiju adventure on a (budget-conscious) South Sea island. Then something happened. I’ve heard too many stories to tell you the truth. A dispute erupted over the rights to Kong’s name. Or the rights were all secure and the major sticking point became a cost-effective foreign distribution strategy. Or maybe someone, somewhere, mentioned the idea the became King Kong Escapes. Continue reading Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966)→
I’m supposed to warn you away from early-90s [Famous Person’s Name] [Semicolon] [Actual Title] films, but I’m pretty sweet on this one. It’s no Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but New Nightmareis something we hadn’t seen for quite some time by 1994: a decent Wes Craven film.
(And yes, though I’ll continue to call it New Nightmare for brevity’s sake, I’ll be filing this under “W”). As a member of the Home Video generation, I’m culturally obligated to mention the Craven movies most people (including Craven, it seems) would just as soon forget. People like Shocker and if I tilt my head and squint, I can see that. People like The People Under the Stairs and, hey, why not? But by the mid-90s, a sizable minority of horror fans had begun to vocalize The Unthinkable: maybe Craven just got lucky. Twice. Three times if you stretch. Maybe he’d never been the Master of Horror everyone wanted to believe. Or maybe, like George Lucus, he’d just spent too much time inside The Hollywood Bubble, constantly hearing people tell him how much of a Master of Horror he was/is/will forever be. Continue reading Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)→
Due to the explosion – although on reflection I think it was supposed to be a flash or something – everyone is lying around the console unconscious. Barbara and Susan are the first to wake up and, for a moment, they can’t recognize each other. Also Susan feels a sharp pain in her neck and head. Once Ian wakes up as well, Barbara finds he also doesn’t recognize where he is, thinking that he and Barbara are back at the school they teach in. Wounded and still unconscious, the Doctor only mumbles, “I can’t take you back, Susan!” As Susan goes to try to find something to treat the Doctor’s head wound, which was caused by the fall, she discovers that the doors and other equipment on the TARDIS aren’t working properly. Susan panics and thinks some alien force has invaded the TARDIS. When she tries to operate the controls, she faints. Once she recovers, she reacts with suspicion and anger when Ian comes to check on her, threatening him with a pair of scissors until she collapses again. Continue reading Trash Culture’s Doctor Who Reviews – The Edge of Destruction (1964)→
There is no human achievement more complex, daunting or inspirational than the “conquest” of outer space. I put “conquest” in sarcastic quotes because we really haven’t conquered jack shit. We’ve played golf on our nearest satellite and left a plaque for the cockroaches to find. By the standards of SF in the mid-60s, we’re way behind schedule.
We should’ve discovered our tenth planet by now. Instead we’re down one and the space shuttle’s been mothballed. Robots do all our exploring for us because it’s cheaper and “safer.” As if anyone said space would be “safe.” We’ve known there were monsters out there since before we knew how out there could really be. Martians invaded in 1898, 1938 and1953. Earth itself faced off against (not just any ol flying saucers but) theFlying Saucers in ’56. The Mysterians came for our women in ’57, Krankor came for our rocket fuel in ’59, and in ’61 the Neptune Men came for…umm…yeah…something…I forget because that movie was so boring. King Ghidorah’s arrival in 64 was only the icing on the cake. And in 196X, we discovered Planet X. Continue reading Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965)→
Here’s another great example of a good idea handled badly by a major studio more interested in selling toys than selling a movie. Dick Tracy didn’t do as well as Disney’s upper management hoped, at least not on the merchandising front. Michael Eisner’s mouse house – eager to make that up, and hopefully copy Warner Brothers success with the Batman franchise – bought license rights for this particularly independent comic book property because of its high-concept and oodles of nostalgia.
The Rocketeer is a deliberate homage to movie serials, pulp-novels, and comic books of the early-to-mid 20th century. Its steeped in cameos, in-jokes, and subtle references fans of its source material or time period (or both) will readily appreciate. Interestingly enough, Dick Tracy, which went out of its way to look like a comic book, could help but wind up feeling like a cheap, Disney-fied gangster movie. The Rocketeer, which goes out of its way to look like a big-budget movie (even if the budget wasn’t as big as it needed to be) feels more like a comic book done well.
Problem is, in order for a kid from 1991 to find The Rocketeer anything but slow, kitschy and boring, that kid had to have my parents…or the rough local equivalent. An adult figure kind enough to pass on their appreciation for the Golden Ages of cinema and Sci-Fi literature. You could say I was preconditioned to like this film, but does The Rocketeer hold up today…? Continue reading The Rocketeer (1991)→
The crew of the TARDIS prepare to leave the ship to explore their surroundings, but no one notices that a radiation gauge on the console has suddenly jumped from normal to dangerous. Outside there’s a petrified jungle (wasn’t it a swamp last time?), which the Doctor deems devoid of life. However, they do catch sight of a seemingly abandoned but perfectly preserved city in the distance. The Doctor wants to explore it, but Ian with his human sensibilities and British alpha male authoritarianism refuses to let the only person who can pilot the TARDIS (if barely) go off and possibly get himself lost or killed. While Susan is briefly separated from the group on their way back to the TARDIS, someone or something touches her on the shoulder, frightening her, but no one believes her. Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor, who has softened up just a little since the last episode, shows his human guests the basics of life on the TARDIS, by explaining that there are private rooms to rest in (which we don’t see) and by showing a machine that can generate food bars that will have the exact taste of anything the operator asks for. Barbara and Ian’s joy at discovering that there are perks to wandering aimlessly through infinity is short-lived, though, as they hear something banging on the TARDIS’ doors. This, along with Susan’s claims, is enough to cause all three to demand that the Doctor get the TARDIS as far away as possible as soon as possible. Although he still wants to see the city, the Doctor seems to acquiesce. Yet when he tries to get the TARDIS to “launch”, nothing happens, and the Doctor claims that the reason is because some vital part in the console has run out of the mercury it needs to function…but it’s obvious (except to Barbara, Ian, and Susan) that he’s not only lying but proud of himself for doing so. Now, the Doctor explains with feigned regret, they’ll just have to go down to the city and search for any laboratories that might have mercury since there’s no back-up supply on-board.