Movie Review: INNERSPACE

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innerspaceWarner Bros.

“You’ve got a big future in retail food marketing, and I’d hate to see you blow it now by going psycho on us.”

Ah, Joe Dante. His movies factor into my Nostalgia Databank quite often. Gremlins, Explorers, and of course, Innerspace, a kind of Fantastic Voyage by way of a Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis comedy.

It was the summer of 1987. The parental units decided to take my sister and me to the drive-in theater just outside of Fremont, Nebraska for a special fireworks display and a showing of the recently released Innerspace. So, my first viewing of this movie was by way of an American movie experience that was in the later death throes at the time. It was quite the experience, mainly because I was fending off mosquitoes more often than paying attention to the movie. But, I ended up watching Innerspace a few more times on video rentals and one time on Cinemax.

In Innerspace, a Navy Lieutenant named Tuck volunteers for a top-secret experiment that involves being put inside a submarine pod and miniaturized, with the express purpose of being injected into a rabbit. Because SCIENCE! But, because this is the 80s, the lab is set upon by a rival organization before the injection could happen, and during a chase, the itty-bitty Tuck is injected inside a grocery store clerk. The clerk…well, he’s a bit of a hypochondriac. Okay, okay…a whole lot of a hypocondriac. Anyway, after doing soe science-y stuff, Tuck manages to see and communicate with his unsuspecting host, with all the wackiness that would ensue with this kind of thing. So now, Tuck only has a few hours of oxygen left, and he needs to get out of the clerk and get re-embiggened. But, the bad guys have the computer chips necessary to do that, and so Jack gets the clerk to enlist the help of his estranged girlfriend to go after what they need. Will they be able to extract Tuck in time, before he becomes a permanent fixture inside his hapless host?

What can I say, really, other than Innerspace is another one of those fun family oriented science fiction flicks from the era that more or less defined modern whimsical fantastic storytelling. Sure, the story is pretty derivative from Fantastic Voyage, and it’s a predictable plot, but it’s nevertheless a fun ride throughout. The dynamic between Dennis Quaid and Martin Short as Tuck and Jack the clerk respectively is inspired. And just for pointless geek moments, this movie features a pre-Star Trek Voyager Robert Picardo as a bad guy named “The Cowboy”. It seems Picardo features in more than a couple of Dante movies in the 1980s. Anyway, it’s another fun 80s sci-fi flick that is worth the watch some rainy Saturday afternoon.



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Movie Review ADDAMS FAMILY VALUESParamount Pictures

“You have enslaved him. You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that. But please, may we see him?”

Two years after the first live action Addams Family music delighted my sensibilities, here came a sequel that, somehow, turned out to be just as good as — if not better than — the first movie. The entire cast is back, and everything builds on the wackiness of the first.

We begin the movie immediately with the birth of the newest Addams addition — little Pubert. As such, Gomez and Morticia hire a nanny to take care of the baby. Uncle Fester finds himself smitten with her, while the other children — Wednesday and Pugsley — are less than thrilled with the new additions. Unbeknownst to everyone, the nanny is a serial killer named the Black Widow, whose MO is marrying wealthy bachelors and then killing them to get their fortune. And she has her eye on bagging Uncle Fester. To get the suspicious kids out of the way, she sends them to summer camp, where things go exactly as you would expect for them. Meanwhile, Uncle Fester and the Nanny get hitched, and she then tries to kill him, and things go exactly as you would expect with that. Pubert catches a nasty case of The Normals, and the newly minted Mrs. Addams takes the entire family hostage in frustration. Then things get weird.

Originally watching Addams Family Values in the theater back when this was first released was great. I immediately wanted to own it on video, despite it being a new release at the time. The movie somehow not only duplicated the extremely funny type of whimsical morbid humor that I loved about the first Addams Family movie, but upped it. I especially love the summer camp parts, with Wednesday’s interaction with the normal kids and counselors. To this day, I still sing the “Eat Me” song around Thanksgiving.

Overall, the entirety of Addams Family Values is great. Darkly funny, highly quotable, getting something new out of it every time I watch it…seriously, why am I still writing this review? I am going to watch this movie again. Highly recommended.

Movie Review: JOE Vs. The VOLCANO

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joe vs the volcanoWarner Bros.

“Do you want to marry him?”
“Do you want to marry her?”
“Good. You’re married.”

The year was 1990, t’was the later spring time, and I was a 16-year-old buck with my first car and freedom and a bit of disposable income, so one Saturday afternoon I decide to catch a flick at the movie theater in town. “Town” being 20-25 minutes away by car. 15 minutes by foot. Yep, I just made an obscure M*A*S*H reference. Because that’s how I roll.

Anyway, the movie that I was fated to watch that afternoon was Joe Vs The Volcano. I remember choosing it because it starred Tom Hanks. At this point in his career, Hanks was famous, but he had yet to hit the uber-famous icon status that he would in the 1990s and beyond. Personally, I loved him in Big, so I caught Joe Vs. The Volcano on that strength alone. Also, the TV spots made it look like a wacky comedy. Only, Joe Vs. The Volcano wasn’t a wacky comedy, so much as it turned out to be an offbeat romantic comedy.

One more thing before I continue: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain this is the first on-screen team up between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Anyhoo…

Hanks plays the titular Joe, a desk jockey working a dead end and thankless job, until one day his doctor diagnoses him with a “brain cloud”, an incurable condition that will kill Joe within five or six months. Give or take a plot convenience. This gives him the motivation to quit his job and live the rest of his remaining time to his fullest. Soon thereafter, he’s approached by a wealthy industrialist with a proposition to have Joe sacrifice himself into a volcano to appease the natives of the Pacific island of said volcano, so he can mine a McGuffin mineral that is only found on that island, all within 20 days. Take as long as you need to let that process, there. Figuring he has nothing to lose, Joe agrees to this, and takes off on the wackiest boat ride of his life to the island. Along the way, he meets up with the daughter of the wealthy industrialist (well, one of ’em, anyway), gets caught in a storm and adrift on his floating luggage in the ocean (not the last time Tom Hanks was going to find himself adrift on the ocean in a movie), then serendipity! finds himself adrift-ed onto the very island he was supposed to be on, where the natives are lead by Abe Vigoda, who marries the two before they jump into the volcano together…only to have the volcano immediately belch them back out and destroy the island anyway. Which is fine, because it seems the doctor gave Joe a fake diagnosis in the first place, because the wealthy industrialist paid him to get a willing sacrifice. So, um…the end, I guess.

I have to admit that I wasn’t very much enamored with Joe Vs. The Volcano when I first watched it at the theater back in the day. I recall being a bit bored at points, but it was quirky enough to keep my interest. Even now, with me having developed a better appreciation for what it is as an offbeat dark comedy. To this day, my favorite part of the movie was where Abe Vigoda marries Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s characters by going “Do you want to marry him? Do you want to marry her? Good, you’re married. I’m going now.” Regardless, Joe Vs. The Volcano isn’t very high ranking in my Nostalgia Memory Banks. But, it’s more entertaining than the sum of its parts. Worth a look-see some time.

Movie Review: SLITHER

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slitherUniversal Pictures

“Where is the Mr. Pibb? I told your secretary to pack Mr. Pibb. It’s the only Coke I like.”

Back in 2006, one of the greatest sci-fi horror comedy movies was released. That movie, in case you missed the titled heading, was Slither, the directorial debut of James Gunn, the man who would go on to make an obscure Marvel comic into the best movie of Marvel’s cinematic existence.

So then, one evening outside a small South Carolina town, a meteorite crashes. Inside this meteorite is a sentient extraterrestrial parasite that immediately makes the local used car dealer its new home. Soon, the car dealer starts to mutate, growing tentacles and getting all weird and gross. Basically, second puberty. Then the local pets start disappearing, and a local woman is then infected with hundreds of the parasite offspring. Soon, the entire town is being threatened with these creepy crawly spawn of Cthulhu, and it’s up to the town’s long-suffering Sheriff and a handful of survivors to defeat this intergalactic horror.

Apparently, there was some controversy when Slither was released due to an alleged similarity to the 1986 movie Night Of The Creeps. I haven’t seen that movie yet (it is in my Watch Cue, though, rest assured), so I’m not able to point out any similarities. But, if it’s as much fun as Slither was, I may be moving Night Of The Creeps up the cue.

What makes Slither one of my favorite B-Movie sci-fi horror flicks of the past couple of decades is the snappy script, and the performances from the actors, especially Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker. Gads, I would watch anything either one of those two are in. Also, legendary voice actor Frank Welker handled the alien slug sounds. The effects are great, and you can tell that Gunn spent some time in the Troma camp of movie making, with the whole tongue-in-cheek humor mixed in with the horror. Say what you will, but I consider Slither to be one of the best not-really-guilty pleasure B-Movies out there. Check this one out some time.


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what we do in the shadowsParamount Pictures

“Yeah, some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ooooh, those are some nice pants.”

So, there I was, in the hospital due to my knees getting rather messed up. I had my laptop there, and was contemplating taking in a streaming movie to help assuage my growing boredom in just sitting there healing up. I was perusing the Horror section on my Amazon account, and notice one of the titles available was, in fact, What We Do In The Shadows. Remembering friends aggressively recommending I watch this movie for a rather long time, I decided to finally give it a go. I mean, it was made by one of the Flight Of The Concords guys. And I’ve been hearing pretty good things about this mocumentary style comedy horror thing.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a mocumentary and a found footage movie. What We Do In The Shadows falls in the former category, and belongs in the kind of quality mocumentary comedies as This Is Spinal Tap and Anvil: The Story Of Anvil.

What’s that? Anvil: The Story Of Anvil wasn’t a mocumentary, but an actual documentary on the band? That’s depressing. Okay, so how about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping? Okay, we’re good then. Moving along…

So, What We Do In The Shadows follows the unlives of four vampire roommates sharing an old Victorian house, and opening up about their daily goings abouts and various other things that none of the normals of society know about. They’re all getting ready for the upcoming annual masquerade ball, a kind of gathering of supernatural and undead persons and creatures. Over the days, they try and debunk various myths and exaggerations about the vampire lifestyle, something that’s thrown a bit askew when the oldest of the four–a Nosferatu style elderly vampire that dwells in the basement inside a stone crypt most of the time–turns a Millennial, who turns out to be a brat that would make Lestat want to smack him for being so brazen.They also make friends with a human, who helps teach them to understand and embrace the 21st Century and its technology for their benefit; and get into some altercations with the local werewolf pack. Wackiness doth ensue, my children of the night.

What We Do In The Shadows is a fantastic movie. It not just settles as a comedy, content on merely playing around with several vampire tropes and cliche’s, but due to some very good writing, turned out to be more than that. There’s a very tangible sense of pathos and loneliness that the main vampire characters exude, along with their annoyance at the youngest baby bats to infiltrate the group. Even if you’re not a fan of the Vampire genre, I highly recommend acquiring this movie and watching it.


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freaks of natureColumbia Pictures

“I think I’m having brain withdrawals.”

In Freaks of Nature, we welcome you to Dillford, where three days ago, everything was peaceful and business as usual: the vampires were at the top of the social order, the zombies were at the bottom, and the humans were getting along in the middle. But this delicate balance was ripped apart when the alien apocalypse arrived in Dillford and put an end to all the harmony. Now it’s humans vs. vampires vs. zombies in all-out, blood-sucking, brain-eating, vamp-staking mortal combat – and all of them are on the run from the aliens. It is up to three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – to team up, figure out how to get rid of the interplanetary visitors, and try to restore order to this “normal” little town.

Freaks Of Nature was apparently released to theaters on the same day that another so-called “horror comedy” going by the name of Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse was released. Only, Freaks Of Nature was only in 100 or so theaters on October 30th, 2015. I don’t remember seeing this in any of the local Omaha theaters at the time; each one, though, had a showing of the Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse. Which I still haven’t watched. For reasons.

The original script to Freaks Of Nature started life under the title “Kitchen Sink”, something I vaguely remember being reported on back in 2011. It was evidently so memorable I promptly forgot about it until I was doing the usual background investigation on this for the review purposes. Huh. It was filmed in 2013, but was held back by Sony until it was just dumped with little to no fanfare on the previously mentioned date, then slipping into DVD/VOD relative obscurity. Which isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but the question remains: is Freaks Of Nature worth checking out?

Since I’m big on using food-related analogies, I would compare Freaks Of Nature to a good plate of goulash. And in case you were wondering (or aren’t very familiar with the concept of “goulash”), I’m talking about the American Midwest version that really only has the name and maybe the inclusion of beef as the only connection to the original Hungarian dish. It consists mainly of ground beef and macaroni in tomato sauce, and depending on the recipe can include corn, onions and garlic, diced stewed tomatoes, with the option of cheese to be added for taste.

And like goulash, Freaks Of Nature turned out to be a hot mess, but a surprisingly tasty hot mess that was made better with cheese. And if you go back to the original script’s title, you kind of get the idea that the creators of this were in on that fact. The base of this movie feels more like a John Hughes coming-of-age rom com that also features vampires and zombies dwelling together because…reasons. Then aliens invade, and a human, a vampire and a zombie from the local high school have to set aside their prejudices and band together to figure out what the aliens want. Which turns out to be a chemical compound found in the town’s Riblet factory.

For the most part, Freaks Of Nature was enjoyable on a certain level. It’s a movie that’s in desperate need of a focus, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. It’s certainly way better than Vampires Suck. Worth a look-see.


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addams family, theOrion / Paramount Pictures

“I would die for her. I would kill for her. Either way, what bliss.”

Come join The Addams Family for the most hilarious scarefest of this season or any other! When long-lost Uncle Fester reappears after twenty-five years in the Bermuda Triangle, Gomez and Morticia plan a celebration to wake the dead. But Wednesday barely has time to warm up her electric chair before Thing points out Fester’s uncommonly “normal” behavior. Could this Fester be a fake, part of an evil scheme to raid the Addams fortune?

The fall of 1991 was a good time for me. It was my Senior year in High School, and everything seemed vital and alive. The world was my burrito. Also, some pretty good movies that rank high in my Nostalgia Locker were released then. Like, for instance, the live action Addams Family movie.

Based on the classic and deliciously morbid cartoon strip by Charles Addams, the live action movie itself is the directorial debut of Barry Sonnorfield, who you may know better as the guy behind such blockbusters as the Men In Black movies. He also brought us Wild Wild West and Space Chimps, but let’s not let that besmirch this review, shall we?

Now then, we come into the titular family with Uncle Fester having been missing for the past 25 years. Seems there was a disagreement between Gomez and Fester that lead to his leaving, and Gomez is lamenting his absence. Meantime, Gomez’s lawyer decides, since his loan shark’s son looks so much like Fester, that he should use this to try and gain access to the vast Addams fortune. Things go…well, until “Fester” begins to bond with the Addamses, and begins to believe he really is Fester. Since it’s been over 25 years since this released, SPOILER: He really is Fester. Go figure. Anyway, deliciously morbid humor abounds and wackiness ensues.

I’ll just come right out and say it: the Addams Family movie is one of my Top 5 favorite movies that I try to watch at least once a year. Usually around Christmas time, because, like Gremlins, this is a wonderfully twisted and whimsical treat that’s set during the most dark holiday of the year. Just the opening shot of the recreation of the classic Charles Addams Christmas cartoon of the family about to surprise a bunch of carolers with some boiling oil perfectly encompasses my feeling of the so-called Yuletide cheer of the season. I watched this twice in the theaters when it was first released. I then owned a VHS copy that I systematically wore out, then had it on DVD until I lost it (fortunately, I made a digital backup copy, so I still technically have it).

Bottom line is, The Addams Family movie is just fantastic. It’s dark, it’s whimsical, the cast is perfect, there are oodles of little jokes and puns firing left and right…if you haven’t seen this movie, you really should. Recommended.

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