October Damnaliens DVD Review by Steve Sawicki
Note: order the films from Amazon by following the hyperlinks to buy junk food for the aliens and keep them away from the dog.)
There have been many disasters through history in this country. The Hindenberg, the Titanic, The Chicago Fire, The San Francisco Earthquake (either of the two), The Phantom Menace, etc. We've managed to get through all of them so far. Well, sure, some of us are still smarting from Jar Jar Bing but we'll survive. What we haven't had before is all the live coverage. Even the last big Earthquake or the Los Angeles riots didn't garner the kind of coverage we're seeing here. It doesn't help that dozens of cameras captured the events as they unfolded nor does it help that we've seen these images before on film of a different nature. But Hollywood doesn't always get it right. For every Towering Inferno there's an Asteroid or two. For every Airport there's an Alligator. Let's see what disasters Hollywood has in store for us this month
Hollywood can't leave a good thing alone. This is why they keep making and remaking the same films over and over. They should learn that when the director calls it a wrap he means it. One film which should definitely have remained wrapped is The Mummy Returns. Yes, returns, because they obviously felt there were things they didn't get quite wrong enough the first time through. The acting is wooden (when they're acting), the story is ridiculous (what little of it there is) and the camera work looks like it was phoned in (on a cell with a bad connection). The only thing going for this flick is the special effects and they ain't all that special.
When your world is falling apart and you're spending your days trudging through the rubble with the latest laser rifle you're bound to wish for the good old days. The Terminator, Special Edition brings us back to those days via the device of time travel. Return to the pre-nuclear holocaust days when the only thing you had to worry about was remembering your mothers birthday and the new T-1 Robot on the block. Arnold invents an entire genre with a single line and a stoic expression. So punk, did I fire 1,845 shots or 1,846? In all the excitement I've plumb forgotten. So, go ahead, be Beethoven. I'll be Bach. Simply a DVD you gotta have. And not a mumbling robot in sight.
In the fine tradition of imitation is the best form of flattery, Hollywood spurts out, Terminatrix. Picture a robot dominatrix, clad in a tight rubber teddy and bent on the destruction of, well, it's kind of hard to figure out and the director obviously figured you'd be spending your time looking at the robot and not paying attention to the plot so why bother with even hiring a writer? Where's Pee Wee Herman when you need him?
As if a decaying mummy and a robot in rubber weren't enough of an insult this month the Hollywood decides to dump Star Wars, Episode One, The Phantom Menace, on us. What were they thinking? That's it's October and they're out of treats? Avoid this like a wet digital character and spend your time and your money tracking down the privately remastered version which edits out all the stupid parts. Sure it's 86 minutes shorter but boy do those remaining minutes make sense. Oh yeah, the re-edited version is a pirate so don't get caught with one. Make a friend or your editor buy one for you. You've always wanted to be able to visit someone in prison, haven't you?
Every month is a roller coaster of good releases sprinkled amidst the crap. Who decides what is what? Me. Why else would they pay me to do this? While you out there avoiding returning mummies and menacing phantoms be on the look out for Final Fantasy . This is one fine flick and it's almost breaking the record for the shortest time from theater to DVD. The story is a bit weak but the animation (digitalation?) is simply wonderful. At times you think you're watching humans and not digital beings. Damn, there's a theme here somewhere if I could only find it. Fun, entertaining, a glimpse of the future without the use of a time machine. Buy yours today.
I've managed to avoid doing the obligatory Halloween column so far due mostly to my gazing into the distant past and re-reading all of my past Halloween columns. They're fun to do for a year or two but then it's time to let sleeping things lie. However, that being said, I simply could not pass up mentioning The Erotic Rites Of Countess Dracula. Sure this sounds like a porn film but it's not. Porn films have much catchier titles like Dracula Sucks, or How about Steak at my place? I'm not sure why these erotic rites need to be held in the first place except they give you a reason for naked cavorting. Join the crew (you'll recognize most of them if you're any kind of vampire fan at all) as they run around the castle, mostly in states of undress, trying to either drink blood or kill vampires. Sometimes it doesn't make much difference who's doing what. Bound to be a classic on some alternate Earth.
Editor Ern this past summer took advantage of the 75th anniversary of route 66 to do a road trip. Frankly, I think he took the wrong road so I'm including this DVD offering just for him. Route 666, is the story of luckless individuals who simply find themselves on the wrong road. Next time you reach that fork in the road you better leave it the hell alone.
Muppets From Space. Puppets in spaceships. Must I say more?
Just to prove that Hollywood is not alone in the production of disasters I bring you, Lexx, Series 2, Volume 4. This insipid series which tries to blend sex and science fiction (and don't you know people have been trying to do that unsuccessfully for years) is an example of a bad idea made worse. The only group this series would appeal to is thirteen year old boys. Unfortunately the thing is on Friday nights late. Perhaps the release of this video is their rectifying the situation. Avoid this one like the plague, which, if I'm not mistaken, could be confused for a mummy reference.
Just to show that television occasionally shrugs off a disaster and gets it right I offer, Farscape 7, Flaxx./Jeremiah Crichton. The early part of the series when they were getting it mostly right. Fun to watch, fun to own and not a mummy or robot in sight.
Sometimes you just have to rely on what's sent you. This being the case let me paraphrase from the box of Generator Gawl, Out of Time, Volume 4. Parantheticals are mine. Time runs out for Gawl and his friends (the series ain't making money any more). Kanae offers a shocking revelation that could prove integral to their mission's success. (The writer's needed to tie things up really quickly). However, Kanae's covert disclosure is nothing compared to the powerful-and dangerous-secret the evil Professor Ryuko Saito has in store for them! (There's more than one writer). Now, as armies of evil generators from the future converge in the present, Gawl is forced to generate into a powerful, rage-fueled new form to battle a vicious apparition that could destroy himself, his friends, and his world. (Time travel is the escape device of the stupid and incompetent). After three suspenseful previous installments, the fate of the world now lies in the hands of 3 brave young men from the future who have journeyed back to the past to save the world from the apocalyptic nightmare that is preparing to be unleashed upon it in the final volume of Generator Gawl! (Arnold, sue 'em for copyright infraction). Simply not enough robots to make this worth watching and, considering we've got three young men, albeit brave ones, they don't once cry out for their mummy.
I can't help it. They send me these things and expect me to be serious about them First of all, their cartoons. Second of all, they're poorly animated. Third, there's often serious translation problems. Sorcerer Hunters-Magical Battles is a good example of all of these. Let me quote you from the box. This is it. Time to earn their pay. Time for the final showdown. (Do all of these things have to have a final showdown?) Time for Carrot to get serious. (Carrot? Yeah they got a character named Carrot). Things have gone from bad to worse, and as Zaha Torte (Chocolate Cake to his friends) closes in, the Sorcerer Hunters find themselves under attack from within as well as without. Past secrets threaten, a dark future looms and much is uncertain. (If they only had time travel they could take care of this past/future thing). The one thing the Sorcerer Hunters do know is that they must stop Zaha! (That would be because Zaha is trying to kill them all, even Carrott!) They must risk all to save all. (The threat of death will often make you risk all). Don't miss the last hurrah of the "Sorcerer Hunters" containing the final 6 chapters of the saga. (Miss it? I wish I had. Makes me nostalgic for those mumbling robots, the big galunks).