Posts Tagged ‘John Carpenter’

You wonder what this movies is about? Well, in 1980s we were still in the first wave of Jamie Lee Curtis career as a Scream Queen. She followed up the all- time classic John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) with another Carpenter gem- The Fog (1980). The she took a bit of a detour to Great North with Prom Night (1980) and then continued the Canadian tour some months later with a New Year themed Slasher featuring none other then at the world famous illusionist David Copperfield! So, how did it go? We’ll let’s go through it step by step.

Movie predictably starts with a bunch of nerds. Sigma Phi fraternity pulls a prank by promising him young Kenny a hook- up with a hot chick. They just fail to tell him that the chick was dead for a long time! Can you imagine someone going to all the trouble of getting a dead body into a student bed just for a stupid prank. I know they’re medical students but still. Kenny is horribly traumatized by the prank ends up in the mental institution!

When going insane make sure to spin in circles!

Three year later the gang is back to it’s usual hijinks, this time preparing to board a train. They are already drunk and wearing costumes (not a must have for a New Year celebration, but to each their own) but the real party is just about to begin.

Nerdy prankster with a Groucho Marx is looking for his girlfriend. Girlfriend is of course a blow up doll. He keeps spouting his lame comedy routine to everyone’s delight. Now, predictably he is the first to go (seemingly killers hate pranksters even more than their regular victims- slutty blonds). They board the train not noticing that somebody put a (real) sword trough the comedian and then took his place.

                                                                                                                          Being a funny guy always ends in tragedy

The Magician (David Copperfield) is talking with his assistant, tall blond called Charlie, feeling he is not yet prepared for his performance. Who is financing his thing? You’d espect these students to be in debt by now- not living it up.

Black dude in a lizard costume compliments the “new and improved” Groucho and his comedy and offers him some hard liquor. Groucho accepts and then proceeds to murder him in one fall swoop by busting his head on the bathroom mirror. That’s what you get for liking bad comedy.

 

Train conductor finds the murder victim in the bathroom .The only logical thing to do-hide the murder! I’m not sure that’s helping anyone in the long run. They even say “Bathroom is out of order”– man, that’s cold.

At some point the main organizer and OG Prankster Doc (dressed like a monk) comments that he didn’t hire a magician at all? But Alana’s boyfriend Moe just shrugs it off like it’s no big deal. The killer somehow manages to throw the body away and take the lizard costume (this is starting to become a pattern) and conductors decide to just accept that the dude was just drunk (ignoring all the gallons of blood that were there just minutes ago). It seems people will believe anything as long as it’s easier for them.

Bubbly girl Mitchie (also a bit drunk at this point) runs into train conductors carrying the Lizard. She helps Lizard Man walk and starts hitting on him instantly. That will prove to be a fatal mistake.


I guess she likes them coldblooded it seems.

After finding Mitchie dead too conducter finally figure out that there’s something wrong with this whole trip. Alana (Curtis) figures out that she’s gone and they finally admit they found her dead. If that wasn’t enough we are treated to another Copperfield act but thankfully Moe shows up bleeding like a pig in the middle of it. It seems bodies are starting to pile up.

 

They finally stop the train to try to prevent further killings. They trice to organize everybody and make them take of their masks. While freezing outside Alana finally figures out that Kenny is back and Doc then seals himself in the sleeper car where murderer is hiding. Naturally he doesn’t make it. After finding his decapitated body Alana figures out that the Magician must be Kenny in disguise.  Carne looks him up but the Magician manages to disappear?

Now with a new gimmick, a witch killer goes after Alana. She barely escapes with her life and manages to lock her self up in the compartment. He still tries to stab her but she turns the tables on him and stab him in the face. He continues going after her but she pushes him from the train car. Nightmare seems to be finally over.

 

Or is ti? They finally find the Magician but he is in fact murder by his own swords.Alana tells that to Charlie, his assistant but the wig comes off and it turns out that she is in fact Kenny! Kenny was cross- dressing as the assistant this whole time. She tries apologizing for her part in the prank but he doesn’t want to hear it. He insists on a kiss, and she finally obliges him. Unfortunately for Kenny he again looses his mind and starts spinning uncontrollably. Old man conductor shows up and whacks him with a shovel. He drops like a rock (and something rolls out from the ovbious stand in dummy). Water washes the body away with only a single shoe remaining while the train rolls on.

This scene is comedic gold

Verdict: Even thou I must say I sincerely enjoy the early part of Jamie Lee Curtis‘s career I would still say that Terror Train is a bit of a weak link for me. Gimmick of changing the costume after every kill sounds interesting on paper but in reality murderer lacks visual identity (see Jason Voorhees) and that definitely hurts the movie. Also, it takes them way too long to “get the train rolling”, it takes pretty much an hour for tension to really rev up.  And as much as I loved Coperfield‘s stuff as a kid, cutting to his performances every 10 minutes is not helping the pacing of this film.

Trivia: Jamie Lee Curtis would continue with the Horror genre with Australian Roadgames (1981) and go back to playing Laurie Stroude with Halloween II and her Horror streak would finaly be broken in ’82 with a comedy Coming Soon. She wouldn’t return to the genre ’till Halloween H20 (1998) and now mostly forgotten but batshit crazy SF/ Horror Virus (1999).

Trivia #2: Marie was played by none other than D.D. Winters, real name Denise Katrina Matthews– later known as Vanity. You might remember her from another cult classic- The Last Dragon. She was also in a Carl Weathers‘s awesome Action Jackson and had a sucesful musical career with Prince– produced Vanity 6 trio and two solo records. Unfortunately, she died way too soon in 2016.

 

 

Recently we talked about the upcoming Bolo Yeung documentary but we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on another legendary movie villain who’s documentary is just about to come out.

After an indiegogo campaign and  almost three years of production Henchmen: The Al Leong Story is finally done. It had it’s premiere mere days ago on June 7th on Days of the Dead convention in Las Vegas and it’s coming out on DVD on July 16th. Being a long time fan on the Fu Manchu-ed villain I’m pretty sure it was worth the wait.

Synopsis: This documentary explores the life of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces from 80’s action films. In addition to being the greatest cinematic henchman, Al Leong is also a martial arts champion, stuntman, biker, cancer survivor, and much more. From Die Hard and Lethal Weapon to Big Trouble in Little China and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, follow the career of Al Leong with vintage footage, film clips and candid interviews from the likes of John Carpenter, Jeff Imada, Craig Baxley and more.

And for those who missed it the first time around my favorite Al Leong fight scene with non other than Brandon Lee in his ’92’s film Rapid Fire:

 

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After the surprise success of John Carpenter’s Halloween ( made with a meager budget of $300,000) in 1978 many people tried to copy the same formula with the same desired effect. Some actually succeeded even spawning their own franchises (ala Friday The 13th ) but for every successful Slasher you’d have a dozen of stinkers. and Offerings (1989)– well, Offerings has the distinct pleasure of being the bottom of the barrel even among these. Yes, it’s just that bad.

Now, being honest the original concept showed some promise. Johnny is a kid that lives with his horrible and abusive mother (I’m guessing the dad ran away as fast and far as he could a long time ago).

streamtheofferings1Not only is she a horrible person, but her sense for interior decoration leaves a lot to be desired too.

 

He is shy and not really popular among the other kids (quite the contrary) but at least he gets to hang out with a cute blonde girl from his neighborhood called Gretchen. Unfortunately she couldn’t save him from the horrible prank that involved kids forcing him to walk down the age of the well- and ultimately falling down. Now, these kids are A- grade assholes and it’s a miracle he didn’t die right then and there. He only ended up brain damaged and  later comatosed for a prolonged period of time.

snimak

The story picks up  full 10 years later and you’d guess it- Johhny is back from the coma (and a nervous breakdown we’re lead to believe) and he’s ready for revenge. A special kind of revenge that consists of killing teenagers that wronged him and then sending their body parts to the Grechen, the blond kid he had a crush on before the prank (or lets call it what it really is- the murder attempt). Now, that kind of animalistic behavior in leaving trophies like a cat does to his owner might have actually worked and made this movie into something special but the director decides to “play it safe” and just keep copying  Halloween to a T.

I just don’t think Gretchen appreciated all of his hard work…

 

As you guessed it, that doesn’t really work out for the best. The characters are either clunky or unintentionally hilarious (master of overacting, the Sheriff’s  deputy who deserved way more time) and kills lack both the atmosphere and the goriness, and if there’s one thing you don’t want from a Slasher film that’s for it to be tame. The only truly disgusting thing is the fact that Johnny managed to serve the gang (including his loved one Gretchen) a Pizza with let’s say a sausage of human origin!!!  Sheriff suspected something but even after confirming it with a DNA analysis he just didn’t mention it to anyone and we never got to see the reactions to the accidental cannibalism.

offerings-movie-image“Somebody’s here to kill us…”

The fat, incompetent Sheriff did manage to do one thing and that’s he eventually managed to find all the missing aka dead people crammed into the well but on the other hand- while he was exhuming the bodies Johnny was busy hunting the girls (yeah and killing the goofy deputy sheriff who’s the only cool character in the whole movie). After dispatching the annoying girlfriend he chases down Gretchen (I guess to present her some other body part) who menages to get ahold of the deputie’s gun and empties the whole clip on Johnny.

Now in true slasher style Johhny just gets up and starts walking slowly towards her but the fat Sheriff finally appears and defeats Johnny with- a BIGGER gun! Yes, they had absolutely zero ideas at this point. Johnny lifts up his head one more time, uttering the word “Loooove” and then finally drops dead. I’ve never seen a movie villain do something so pathetic in my whole life.

This is so stupid it almost makes it all worthwhile

Verdict: So, this movie is basically just like Halloween but without any of the creepy atmosphere, innovative kills and with it’s Michael Myers being replaced by a fat, retarded emo kid. I would say without the same legendary music but that wouldn’t necessarily be true because they changed one tone and used a freakin’ Halloween theme by Carpenter in the whole damn movie!

Goofs: There’s also a little thing of crazy inconsistency when we find out that Johnny wasn’t in the coma this whole time but after being brain damaged he crawled out of the well (The Ring’s Sadako style) and killed his mother even thou he is just a kid, and that’s when the white coats finally got him.

Now, the acting on the other hand is a sight to behold. Teenagers  sound like a bizarre mix of California Stoners, Valley Girls and Southern Hillbillies which I didn’t even think it was possible till’ I saw this movie. And truth be told Offerings ended up being so goddamn terrible movie that I find this ridiculous Eastern European dance video way superior Halloween rip- off than this movie!

 

Trivia: Tobby Sexton, who played Jake in the movie went on to play a teenage version of Freddy Krueger (you know the scene where Alice Cooper plays his father) in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and unfortunately not much else.

By this point you probably realized we absolutely adore the work of the O.G.  henchman Al “Ka -Bong”Leong (Lethal Weapon, Punisher, Die Hard, Rapid Fire ). You can even take a look at our little tribute here. But now we are happy to report that that the long gestating documentary Henchman: The Al Leong Story ( featuring the late great Brandon Lee, John Carpenter & The Rock) is in the finishing stages of production.We even have the first trailer to show you!

 

Also, if you like Leong as much as we do- you can support the project by contributing to the Indigogo campaign and get some cool stuff in the process. You can find that here. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/henchman-the-al-leong-story#/

jumping_with_swords

 

 

Something we felt the urge to share with you good people! A brilliant tribute to Big Trouble in Little China, a gem of B- filmmaking by legendary horror/ SF/ action maestro John Carpenter. It’s crazy- ass fun ride in which ancient Chinese Kung Fu magic meets southern-American trucker badassness – with deadly consequences of course. Video is a fantastic mix of overly popular PSY’s Gangnam Style and some memorable scenes from this legendary flick! Surprisingly original Lo Pan, 80- something year old prolific cult- actor James Hong even makes an appearance, you can catch him in the elevator scene in 2:10!

For those who haven’t seen Big Trouble in Little China, bow your head in shame… and then watch this video.  That will be the start of your redemption.