Thursday, May 26, 2011

Coffee enemas and soul-sucking aliens

CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES -- originally posted on Tumblr, 5/18/11

Believe it or not, time has been kind to this movie. Not that I’ve seen it before; I bought this along with 61 other used DVD’s at a Blockbuster Video going-out-of-business sale last year, and I’m finally seeing it now.

What I mean about time being kind is that there are a couple of jokes in this movie that might have been amusing to the audience during it’s original theatrical run, but now, ten years later — JESUS CHRIST, IT’S BEEN TEN YEARS ALREADY?! — these bits play pretty goddamn hilarious and/or fucked-up.

I mean, there’s a scene where Mick “Crocodile” Dundee is at a Hollywood party and a crowd has gathered around him as he tells crazy stories about his friend Mel Gibson. Only he’s talking about Malcolm “Mal” Gibson, some guy from the outback he knew back in the day, not the movie star. I think back in 2001, the joke was supposed to be Ha Ha Ha, how funny that one of our most-loved movie stars is being confused with a guy that constantly gets in trouble with the cops (Mick complains about having had to bail him out of jail twice). But now in 2011, now that Mel Gibson is better known as a drunk-driving, anti-Semitic, alleged wife-beater/recorded blow job-demander, it really plays differently.

The crowd of wannabes and gonna-bes and currently-ares react to Mick’s stories with a mix of shock and laughter, they’re getting a huge kick out of this crocodile hunter telling tales out of school, but I think if this movie was made today, the crowd would’ve just reacted like “Meh, what else is new?”

What am I saying? That scene would’ve never been shot if this movie was made in 2011, they’d probably change it to them thinking he was talking about Hugh Jackman or that guy from Avatar.

Another joke that probably plays funnier now (unfortunately) than it did ten years ago was the scene where Mick is driving on the freeway but suddenly stops because his son claims to see a dog in the road. This causes a huge traffic jam, followed by a miscommunication between Mick and the frustrated drivers that leads to cops and news helicopters showing up because everyone else thinks there’s a bomb situation.

After 9/11, anything bomb-related obviously has to be grounds for a filmmaker to Go There when it comes to terrorist humor (see: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay), but in the spring of 2001, things were different in the good ol’ USA — candy bars cost a nickel, people weren’t in so much of a hurry, and terrorist bombings came from good ‘ol White Americans, not some savage who wants to score with 70 inexperienced girls.

There’s a school teacher in this movie, she’s attractive and lonely, and that pissed me off because it brought back memories of the attractive schoolteachers I had in junior high — when puberty and new feelings were thrust upon me like a stripper to a rapper with expensive gold chains. In retrospect, I should’ve made a move. I mean, what’s the worst that could’ve happened? She says no? She calls my parents? Shit, my dad would’ve probably taken me aside once we got home and give me a high-five, then afterwards he would’ve gone somewhere private by himself and cry tears of joy that his son wasn’t nearly as fruity as he appeared.

Speaking of The Gay, there’s a scene where Mick and his buddy Jacko go out on the town; they stop at Wendy’s for a meal and then look for a bar to have a few pitchers. Naturally, they end up at a Western-themed gay bar which they promptly exit from. Take a guess at what song was playing during that scene, I’ll give you a hint: it’s the song co-written by Paul Shaffer that they always play to signify some gay/comedy shit is about to happen. If I ever make a movie with a scene like that, I’m gonna bring back “El Bimbo” aka The Blue Oyster Bar theme from Police Academy. Mick and his bud refer to the gays as “poofters”, yet half a minute later, they get mugged by a group of hoods who call them “fools” even though it’s obvious the actors are saying “faggots” but the shit was dubbed over for whatever reason.

I actually liked this more than Crocodile Dundee II, because it continues with the genial feel of the original, rather than suddenly putting on an earring and leather pants, trying to convince you it’s Hard now, like the sequel. The first one was a nice & friendly movie, but the second one had motherfuckers getting machine-gunned and sniper’d, and even though I liked it, it just didn’t feel right; it’s like talking to Henry Winkler for an hour and because he’s Henry Winkler, you’re totally charmed by what a nice guy he is. You share this with Henry and he stands back a bit, looking a tad offended. Then he pulls a knife on you and you’re like “Oh Henry, you’re so cute when you’re trying to be scary” and he’s like “No, I’m serious, I’m going to cut you” and you’re like “Whatever, dude” and suddenly he jabs you in the arm, giving you a small cut and you’re like “What the FUCK, Henry Winkler?”

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles eventually gets into some gangster shit, and sure enough, it’s the weakest shit in the movie. But the rest of the stuff, the stuff involving, uh, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, is amusing and not nearly as lame as I thought it would be. It’s mid-level sitcom humor, and the climax feels like you’re watching the climax to the most hardcore nonexistent multi-part episode of Family Matters or Step by Step ever made; you keep expecting to hear a laugh track and whoops and hollers from the audience as Mick dispatches a bad guy with a papier-mache cow, just like they would had it been Urkel or Cody who had done that shit.

The movie looks and feels like a TV-movie sequel to a big-budget theatrical film — it doesn’t help that this was shot in flat 1:85.1 aspect ratio rather than the anamorphic 2:35.1 ratio that the last two films were shot in. But for what it is, it’s a decent time-killer. With some minor trims, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this play on ABC Family or PAX or ION or whatever the fuck that channel is called. I spent about $1 on the DVD and 94 minutes on watching it, which sounds about right.

Oh yeah, one more thing: Paul Rodriguez is in this movie which reminded me of the time my mother met him at a 7-11 during a road trip. Of course, when she saw him, she said “A Million To Juan!” as opposed to his given name. According to my mom, Mr. Rodriguez was very nice to her. A couple years later, I found her watching television in the den, and Paul Rodriguez was being interviewed on some interview show; she said that by looking at his eyes, she could tell the man was a pot-smoker. You can tell that anyone is a pot-smoker by looking at their eyes, she told me. I nodded in agreement and then went back into my room to continue smoking a bowl.

LIFEFORCE -- originally posted on Tumblr, 5/18/11

Lifeforce gets more insane with each viewing; the first time I saw this flick, I was 8 years old and I was just kinda like Whuuh? and the second time I saw it was back in ‘00 and I was like Whaaa? and now I just finished watching it for the third time and I’m all like Whaaat da fuuuck?

I’m pretty sure the opening narration (on the international cut) was done by an unbilled John Larroquette, much like his uncredited voice work on Tobe Hooper’s first film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Anyway, I dug the narration because I’m not sure it’s even necessary and the main purpose seems to be so the audience wouldn’t ask why nobody on the Space Shuttle Churchill is floating in zero-gravity even though they’re in fuckin’ space.

Yeah man, it starts out in space where this combo crew of Americans (fuck yeah) and Brits (quite all right) are going to check out Halley’s Comet because that’s what people were all about in 1985. I was like 4 or 5 when I heard about Halley’s Comet and I wanted to see that shit, so my parents actually took me to Griffith Observatory to attend a comet viewing around 4 or 5 in the morning, except the weather decided to fuck us all by clouding that shit up something awful. The people in charge cancelled the viewing which was a bummer but at least we found a really good donut place afterwards.

So, the leader of the astronauts is played by Steve Railsback and I wonder if this was the only time he was ever given the lead in a big budget spectacle like this; I’m guessing this movie and The Stunt Man were the only ones. He and the other astronauts discover a large 150-mile-long skinny umbrella-looking thing with dessicated monster bats inside, oh, and three very naked humanoids.

The shit just gets crazier after that; the main humanoid (who’s name is Space Girl, according to the credits) walks around naked, hypnotizing her poor victims with her pretty face, beautiful body, and more importantly, her great breasts. Then she sucks the life energy out of them (the victims, not her breasts) and the circle of soul-sucking begins. You find out later that these Space Vampires learn everything about their prey before starting the whole Lifeforce game, and I guess if we were a more evolved species, she’d have to charm us with a great personality, but no, just a nice pair of tit-tays will do.

Space Girl also has two fellow Space Vampires, these two naked guys and that’s where the horror begins, if you ask me. Who wants to see that shit? Certainly not a couple guards at the Space Research Centre, where the humanoids were placed under surveillance (in their see-through coffins, no less!). The two guys, they wake up and explode out of the coffins, and then stare at the two Brit guards. These guards, they look ‘em over, see these handsome naked men in great shape, already they’re threatened. Then the two naked guys start walking towards them and being Real Heterosexual Men (with the homophobic baggage that comes with that designation), the guards then proceed to ventilate these guys with machine guns. It’s like “I’m not fuckin’ gay!”, they have to kill these fruits before they catch up to the guards and, I don’t know, turn them into gays as well. I’m reminded of that scene in that one episode of The Simpsons — one of their Halloween specials — when Homer kills the zombie Ned Flanders and then you find out that Homer didn’t even know Ned was a zombie.

This isn’t an insult, I love the look of the movie and I’m not sure if the shit was intentional, but while this movie was made in 1985, the color scheme, lighting and shot compositions really made it feel like I was watching some unreleased sci-fi/horror joint that had been sitting on the vault since 1967. Even the acting is awesome in that British sort-of-way, it’s like no matter how fucking out there and ridiculous the settings and dialogue, these guys are giving it the utmost importance, like it was fuckin’ Shakespeare. They’re wrong, however, this shit ain’t Shakespeare — it’s fuckin’ way better than Shakespeare. I don’t remember seeing Viola and Maria in Twelfth Night have blood shoot out of their orifices and then have that blood form into Orsino, who then screams before collapsing back into a puddle of blood. I must have been in the bathroom during that part of the play.

I’ve only seen Poltergeist once, and I was really young, so I barely remember it. I’m going to have to see it again, because right now, I’m pretty sure Lifeforce might be my favorite Tobe Hooper movie. I know he made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but that’s kinda got a Schindler’s List thing going for me in that there’s no denying that it’s a masterpiece, but I’m not sure I want to sit through all that pain/anguish/tension again. Shit man, maybe Spielberg secretly directed that one too.

As it is, Lifeforce is just too much fuckin’ fun. I think it’s genuinely Good Times, and I don’t know how serious this shit’s supposed to be taken, but I suspect it’s not supposed to be. There are people who were upset that MST3k chose This Island Earth as the flick they were going to roast for the feature-film version of their awesome show. Not because there were better choices out there, no, because This Island Earth is actually a pretty decent movie, they say. They have to calm the fuck down and get over that shit, because decent movie or not, there’s enough there to have fun with. I feel the same way about Lifeforce; I really like this movie but I’d sure love to have seen what Joel/Mike and the bots could have done with it.

Anyway, if Reservoir Dogs was Quentin Tarantino’s unofficial Parker movie, then Lifeforce is an unofficial Quatermass movie and that’s probably a big fuckin’ reason why this shit rules your school and the school next to it.