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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, April 30, 2018

Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

The original Piranha is a great flick with innovative special effects work and some stars that I always enjoy seeing on screen! Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Kevin McCarthy, and Keenan Wynn all show up and are directed by the great Joe Dante. This sequel had a lot to live up to. Well it does have Lance Henriksen and was directed by James Cameron, so it probably has to be good. Right?

Things kick off with a couple having “relations” underwater in a wrecked ship while wearing scuba gear and not much else! Be prepared female nudity is going to be a common theme in this one. Sadly, for them they happen to be in the home of a bunch of bioengineered saltwater Piranha who quickly make them supper. The action then moves to the local nearby island resort where our main characters, dive instructor Anne and her ex-husband police chief Steve have a difficult relationship. Or I think that is what we are supposed to think. They also have a son named Chris that crews on a yacht and fishes on the beach. So yeah… back to the fish.

Anne takes a dive class to the wreck we saw in the opening and sure enough one of her students ends up on the menu. This leads to a mysterious guy showing up to comfort her since she feels bad about it. Of course, he turns out to be a science guy that may or may not be a decent dude. There are also a couple of ladies who hustle people out of money, food, and other stuff while they sail around. They also seem to be allergic to wearing their tops which refers back to that common theme I mentioned earlier. In classic “Jaws” fashion the jerk boss refuses to close the beach and the piranha eventually show up to eat a bunch of helpless victims. This time staying out of the water doesn’t help because they can fly! Yes, the piranha come flying out of the water to eat people.

This isn’t a good movie. It has terrible pacing issues with long stretches of the movie lacking any action. The subplot of the ladies hustling people is complete filler and does nothing to move the plot along. There is also another couple characters of a dentist and his new lady friend that has no payoff at all. Unlike the ladies they don’t even end up piranha chow. Again, it seems to exist only to eat up some time. The dialogue is awkward and silly. There are times that it seems the cast is struggling to spit it all out. This isn’t helped by the bad acting that most of the cast brings to the screen. Of course, the highlight is Henriksen who as always is great.

Good creatures could have saved this one...
I also have to mention that the special effects work is subpar. Both the original and the sequel had very low budgets so there isn’t any excuse for this one to fail while the first outing was great. Here the fish look like rubber puppets on strings. You can see the strings constantly which gets annoying. The attacks boil down to rubber fish bumping into their victims with some red dye dumped into the water for “blood”. The attacks on the land are even sillier with the actors clearly holding the fish to their necks, because that is pretty much the only place they attack.

The only highlight for me is how goofy the whole idea and execution of Piranha II: The Spawning is. I will admit that there is a certain charm to the ineptitude of the proceedings. If you like awful movies that you can rip on, then this might amuse you. That is about all that it has going for it. But hey that is better than nothing I suppose.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

Friday, April 27, 2018

Road Trip to the Capital Theater – Killer Klowns from Outer Space

I was very excited to hear that there was a screening of Killer Klowns happening near me. Well okay it is over an hour drive, but still that is close considering I live in the middle of nowhere. This wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve seen the movie on the big screen. In fact, I have a really funny story about seeing it during its limited first run in the theater years ago. Pick up the latest copy of midnight magazine here to check out my article. I managed to rope a bunch of my friends into going with me and we headed out of town. When I say a bunch I actually managed to convince six of them to go. Who knew I had that many friends?

The show didn’t start until midnight, but the Capital is in a cool neighborhood, so we went up early. With an hour to kill we wandered around a bit but didn’t have to go too far. Right next to the theater is an honest to God pinball arcade. Real vintage pinball games that reminded me of the days before video games… yes, I’m that old! After dumping some quarters in the machines, we strolled next door to buy our tickets, grab snacks, and find seats. The turnout was pretty good considering there was a basketball playoff game (go Sports Team!) which is a big deal in Cleveland. Seeing this movie with a crowd only makes it more fun.

International man of mystery and Pinball Wizard
If you haven’t seen Killer Klowns from Outer Space, you are missing out. The movie is very cheesy, but in a completely enjoyable way. The story is reminiscent of the old fifties invaders from space movies like Invasion of the Saucer Men or Invaders from Mars. You know there were a lot of “invasion” movies. Might have to be a series for the blog someday. The plot follows the familiar “teenagers” see crash, no one believes them, and they have to save the day. Here it is played for laughs with the clowns being menacing, but in amusing ways. This is a horror comedy that actually works. Not many of them around.

The movie doesn’t have any real gore in it, but the design of the Klowns is amazing. The Chiodo brothers who wrote and directed this cut their teeth on special effects and are responsible for the work in the first couple Critters movies. Here each Klown has its own unique look and is scary. Pennywise can move over because these are the real scary looking bastards! The effects work for the exploding aliens, people getting wrapped up by Cotton Candy guns, and shadow puppets are all basic, but work onscreen holding up fine. I have always loved this one and this time around wasn’t any different.

Love the creature design!
After the movie we headed back home, but not before stopping at Steak and Shake for burgers. I know people keep asking why I include food in most of these reports. I’m a fat guy so food is part of these events for me. And in case you were wondering my burger was pretty good. Everyone arrived safely back in town and I finally hit the sack around four in the morning. I keep saying that I’m getting too old for this stuff, but really I love attending these events. There are more midnight screenings coming and in October I have Twelve Hours of Terror at the Capital as well. Check out their website to keep track of the events coming to the Capital and if you do come to one look for the fat guy with a smile on his face and say hi.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer