Monday, January 25, 2010


Imagine Gremlins, only with plush toys instead of gremlins.

Now picture someone rolling around on the ground holding a teddy bear as though it were attacking them... for an hour and a half.

Oh, and the woman on the cover doesn't appear in the movie.

If you think this sounds awesome, you're absolutely right.

The story's simple enough. Two hobgoblins from space land at a movie studio.

Shortly thereafter, the staffs' wishes begin being granted, just before they're killed off. The security guard suspects this turn of events is related to the recent arrival of these two furry aliens, and so he locks them away for the next 30 years. Well... that's not entirely true. The hobgoblins are behind a bank vault door, with a jail cell built around the front, but no one can even seem to walk into the room without the doors swinging open. I guess those doors just worked because the hobgoblins couldn't reach the door handles. Either that or the hobgoblins were just busy keeping themselves amused in there. This may actually be more likely, as only two hobgoblins came from space originally, and when we see them again there are 4 or 5 of them.

In any case, eventually one of the idiots constantly opening that door to the glowing green, fog filled room forgets to close the door for long enough that they escape.

So what do these aliens, sophisticated enough for interstellar space travel, do as soon as they get out after 30 years of imprisonment? Well they simply beam themselves back up to their home pla... oh, no actually they steal a golf cart, and ride around while the kids look at them.

And then I believe we're to understand they scamper off, although they're hand-puppets, so the only way this can be implied is for us to just be shown the characters as they look around at things that are off camera. We're actually treated to this little trick several times throughout the movie, but only in the sets that aren't built to include puppet stages. For scenes where the puppets are operated from just out of frame or set up behind their little stages, Rick Sloane has said that they were operated by a woman who'd just gotten out of a mental hospital; one whose medication seemed to restrict her puppetry skill to the "shake them around" method.

The only other puppetry alternative is explored when the hobgoblins actually attack the characters. In these scenes, the victims actually have to operate the puppets themselves. You can imagine how convincing this is; if anything it just looks like they're trying to force hugs on a bunch of uncooperative teddy bear creatures.

All the characters gradually experience the hobgoblins giving them each a taste of their biggest desires. These fantasy scenes serve to move the storyline along until we arrive at Club Scum. Here we are introduced to Road Rash, who is significant only because he's the only actor who went on to do anything else after this movie.

You may recognize him from his later role as Maynard, the pawn shop owner in Pulp Fiction.

Although the whole point of these fantasies is that the hobgoblins use them to kill their victims, the hobgoblins just can't pull it off. They keep trying, but they just can't seem to do any more damage to the characters than you might imagine a latex puppet's mouth chewing on you might do. No one gets a scratch.

Hell, the military guy is the only guy who takes any damage at all. And it's when he blows himself up with a hand grenade... which causes him to inexplicably be engulfed in flames... at which point he gets up and walks around screaming for 20 seconds of screen time... and then he shows up about 2 scenes later, with only a rash and a pair of crutches... for his sex scene.

Available on Amazon: Hobgoblins (20th Anniversary Special Edition)

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Now I'll admit that I've only ever seen a few clips from Sideways (and that's unlikely to change), but I would suspect that Virginia Madsen's Oscar-nominated performance there isn't anything to measure up to her role here as Helen Lyle in Candyman.

Or her role as the unlikely offspring of Gillian Anderson and Lucille Ball.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie, and I believe it was mostly because of the casting. Madsen was excellent and believable at all times as Helen Lyle. Tony Todd is surprisingly excellent as the Candyman. When he first shows up in a parking garage wearing what looks like a fur pimp-coat and a pirate hook, it's hard to keep from laughing at him, but he somehow he makes it work. He makes the character unique and like the rest of the cast, really gives 100% here.

He's also probably the most genteel of all film murderers, to the extent that he even politely asks Helen, repeatedly, if she'll please be his victim.

The Candyman is also fairly unique as a slasher villain in that he is black. This was no accident, one of main themes here is class/race differences in America... which brings me to one of my only real complaints. Although Candyman manages to constantly bring up social problems of that sort, it doesn't always seem to get around to making it's point. If it had managed to stay on a train of thought for a little longer and finished constructing the points it was trying to make, then I think it could have made them well, because the film never feels preachy.

I've heard criticisms about the ending, but I thought it was just fine. The entire movie is about urban legends, how they survive, and how they change. In that light, what happens to the legend of the Candyman wraps up that idea neatly enough.

Available on Amazon: Candyman (Special Edition)

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

If you long for the days when filmmakers could take a camera and a couple of bucks out to the middle of nowhere and return with their beautifully weird sci-fi masterpieces, then you're in luck, as Larry Blamire seems to believe that those days aren't over.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra starts by introducing us to Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson), as they are going away to spend a few days in a little cottage in the woods where the scientist can of course, do science.

At the same time, a couple of Marvians from planet Marva, Kro-Bar and Lattis, crash land their ship in the same woods. After the crash, the Marvians find that that what they need to repair their ship happens to be the same material that Dr. Armstrong is studying. To top it all off, their pet mutant seems to have escaped during the crash.

As if that wasn't enough, Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe), a sort of mad scientist, happens to be interested in the very same area, only he's there to try to find a haunted cave and awaken the titular Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (a biology class model bought on ebay) and use his power for himself. Although he clearly wasn't quite counting on finding such a sassy and unaccommodating skeleton.

What ensues as they all bumble through the forest running into one another is 90 minutes of memorable, quotable hilarity in a near perfect comedic tribute to 50's sci-fi.

I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up Animala (Jennifer Blaire). She completely steals the show, while being almost completely mute aside from her single repeated word of dialogue. In her black tights and short hair, she's an apparent throwback to another bit of 50's sci-fi, Cat-Women of the Moon.

The only real problem here is knowing the whole time that there's a completed sequel that's been lying around for a long while awaiting distribution, and that won't be available until mid-2010.

Mark your calendars.