Pointless! Insane! But, jeepers, what genius! The short take: Girl meets insect, girl loses insect, girl finds monkey. I hate to spoil it by explaining further. Though hyped as a Jennifer Connelly vehicle, it's not quite the buxom starlet we enjoyed in Mulholland Falls; here she's young enough to be her own daughter. This Euro-production sat on some shelf so long that Donald Pleasence returns from the grave to relay such mumbo jumbo as, "It's perfectly normal for insects to be slightly telepathic." This is proven when Jennifer is actually teamed with a fly to go detecting. INSANE! Jennifer, a student at "The Academy," has some unspecified power over bugs ("Insects never hurt me. I love all insects"), and, like Lassie, the fly returns to lead her to clues. The second-unit filmmaking is better than the first--lots of close-ups of emoting arthropods--and the FX budget went to poorly fake a firefly's light, but the ending is so stupefying--yet emotionally satisfying in a demented way--that it must be seen to be believed! PLAY.
What hath Tarrantino wrought? This recipe is becoming unappetizing: Get many quirky actors who, alone, cannot carry a picture, lump them together into a Quentin stew, add rambling disquisitions on conspiracies, Francis Scott Key and Ray Charles, sprinkle in mournful bottleneck slide guitar, wait 90 vague minutes and, voila! Burned again. Except for the very delicious desert of watching a guy relieving himself on Luke Perry. One never tires of watching that. EJECT
Curious. This may be anti-violence commentary, a slap at our cultural imperialism, complete with Western-style showdown. Or, it may be a regular slasher flick, the result of our cultural imperialism. While there are umlauts all over the credits, and the dialogue is dubbed--in redneck dialect even--the cast was clearly speaking English when they filmed this tale of a nebbish film editor named Ed who goes loopy after being forced to watch too many slasher flicks. But then, we are forced to watch, too, and it's hard to tell which scenes the filmmakers really believe in. Nice closing song about donuts, though. PAUSE.
HEAD OF THE FAMILY
The concept probably came from a comic-reading kid: Evil quadruplets, each endowed with different abilities--super-sight, -strength, -breasts, etc.--led by a guy who's just a huge head. But the horror aspects vie with the erotic-thriller production, resulting in a weird hybrid both smarter than it needs to be and really, really stupid. But good sport Jacqueline Lovell displays a sharp, Sharon Stonesque spunkiness (among other things that Stone also likes to display) which is worth noting. PAUSE.
DARKMAN III: DIE, DARKMAN, DIE
Vosloo's back! They can't keep the Batsuit filled, but Darkman's rags seem stuck on Arnold V. Still, in his return engagement as the avenging scientist, he takes second billing to...Jeff Fahey? The spooky-eyed Fahey is a drug lord-slash-bad parent who plans to milk the Darkster's adrenal glands and sell the super steroids to street punks. But this is a family values Darkman. Vosloo gives lines like "I'm nobody's lab rat!" appropriate weight, and there is much face-ripping-off, but while all the pulp elements are present, they're arranged without the care of the original. Most egregious is the gratuitous plug for the Universal Studios Tour. It is so shameless that I must punish the corporate suits with an EJECT.
What? Jeff Fahey again, so soon? Yes, and this time he's dragged my perky ex-wife Ami Dolenz (Monkee Mickey's gal) into his private hell--or private Virtual Reality Pod. In fact, Fahey has made this movie before. It was called The Lawnmower Man. But there is no groundbreaking computer animation here. You have to accept that it's a state-of-the-art virtual reality machine because it has a row of sequentially blinking lights. That and the fact that "everyone at the lab is just so excited." Of course they are, they're part of some kind of God-Knows-What conspiracy. I might be more inclined to lose myself in the VR thrills, except it's just routine nudity. And blinking lights. EJECT.
If Anna Nicole Smith were a real actress, she'd be able to do more than one convincing shower scene. In this Diehard rip--er, homage (the Widow Marshall plays an "ace helicopter pilot" who foils terrorists in a high-rise), I was lathered only into a sense of deja vu. But we don't love her for her big acting skills, so for those reasons, and for continued audacity, I shall admit that she gives me PAUSE.
TROMEO & JULIET
Forget that pretentious Claire Danes/Leonardo DiCaprio version in theaters, this is the definitive filmed treatment of the Shakespeare classicif only because, finally, there's a happy ending. And Motörhead's Lemmy provides the narration. In the rivalry between the families of "Monty Cue" and "Cappy Capulet," Juliet is a now a vegetarian semi-lesbian and Romeo digs dirty CD-ROMs. Troma boss Lloyd Kaufman has made the Bard's language meaningful to a modern audience by adding fart jokes and frequent use of the F-word. More clever than the usual Troma fare, this gorefest with scenes of explicit body-piercing and toe-sucking is still juvenile. But so was the audience for the original. PLAY.
Next: Video Valhalla