Ha ha!

You just never know what he'll review next!

Friday 28 March 2014

Burl reviews The Malibu Bikini Shop! (1986)

Ha ha, bikinis! Yes, it’s Burl here, reviewing up a little bikini action for you with a carefree funtime picture called The Malibu Bikini Shop! Ha ha, this is a real balletomaniac of a picture, straight-up manna for people who enjoy looking at ladies in bikinis! It’s not an especial passion of mine, but I also certainly don’t mind it, and so when I put on The Malibu Bikini Shop the other night, I was ready for whatever it had to offer!
But we should start with that title, because it’s pretty obvious the movie takes place in Santa Monica or Venice, and certainly not in Malibu! Ha ha, I guess someone thought The Bikini Shop was a pretty bland title – and it is – but then couldn’t think of anything better than to stick “Malibu” in there! Or maybe Malibu was the hip, happenin’ place to be in 1986, and the very mention of it assured box-office success; or maybe someone was a big fan of that great picture Malibu Beach! Ha ha, who knows!
Whatever the case, this partcular lighthearted laff-fest begins with a fatal drowning accident! Yes, frisky Aunt Ida putters off on a jet ski into riptide territory, and that’s the last anyone sees of her! She wills her house and her beachfront bikini shop to her two nephews, Alan and Todd! Alan, played by Michael David Wright from No Small Affair, plays a button-down, uptight business major, who has just collected his degree and is preparing for a life with his shrill, princess fiancée Jane, and a job with his plutocrat father-in-law-to-be! Ha ha, seems pretty horrible! (Wright, by the way, became a real-life executive later on, so maybe his performance was not so fictional!)
Todd on the other hand is played by Bruce Greenwood from Star Trek Into Darkness, and he’s a slap-happy beach bum with no business acumen or respect for traditional values! He’s quite happy to spend the rest of his life running the bikini shop and creepily watching ladies change through two-way mirrors he’s had installed; while Alan, at the behest of Jane, wants to be rid of it with a quick sale and then move on with the rest of his boring, ordered life! Ha ha, therein lies the central conflict in this picture!
But the plot hardly matters, because the true foundation of this picture is bikinis! Ha ha, it’s bikinis all the way down! There are all sorts of scenes of ladies trying on skimpy bikinis, or displaying them in ad-hoc shows! And there’s a crazy little music video that pops up toward the end of the picture, and of course, ha ha, it’s bikini-centric!
But the plot occasionally reasserts itself, as when Jane suddenly appears in the middle of all the bikini action and makes a dreadful, whining nuisance of herself! I have to give credit to Debra Blee, well-known from The Beach Girls, who throws herself into the thankless role of Jane and becomes exactly what I imagine she’s supposed to be: intensely annoying, almost unwatchable!
Of course there are some big party scenes and other shenanigans, and the picture positively overflows with bikini shots! It has a mostly harmless funtime atmosphere, except for some of the less-savory aspects, and nothing about it is surprising or challenging in any way, or very funny either! It’s brightly shot and has a reasonable amount of pep, and with all this studiously taken into consideration, I’m going to give The Malibu Bikini Shop two dashiki-wearing Sonny Bono lookalikes!

Burl reviews The Hunt For Red October! (1990)

Ha ha, be glorious, our age-old motherland, it’s Burl! Yes, I’m here to review a submarine picture, The Hunt For Red October! Now, I like a submarine picture, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t say I like them as much as I thrill to a good dirigible movie! And I have a friend who counts submarine movies as his very favourite genre of them all, and so I have additional sympathy for them on that account!
This picture, based on the only Tom Clancy book I ever bothered to read – ha ha, flag-waving technothrillers are not so much my thing – begins with Soviet silver-fox sub driver Sean Connery guiding his new super-secret extra-fat submarine out into the sea with the intention of never taking it back! Marko Ramius is his name, and he wishes to defect, ha ha! (The whole movie, it should be noted, was a bit out of date geopolitically speaking by the time it came out in 1990!) His officers are of similar mind, so the only thing he’s got to do is evade the entire Soviet navy, ditch the crew and persuade the American he means them no harm!
And all the Americans do believe he means them harm except for one: Alec Baldwin! He plays a boffin called Jack Ryan who apparently has his PhD in Marko Ramius Studies! He also talks to himself a lot, which Baldwin sells as well as he can, but still comes off as a little silly! Anyway, there’s a long series of scenes in which Ryan tries to convince everyone from Admiral James Earl Jones (whom we recall from Conan the Barbarian) right through to sub captain Scott “The Keep” Glenn, and everybody in between!
This was John McTiernan’s next picture after Die Hard, so I remember going to see it in breathless anticipation of a thrilling action picture! It’s certainly not that, because model submarines just aren’t that exciting to watch! There’s a big explosion at the end, and a bit of a shootout too, but the movie is mostly lots of chatting! Still, it’s slickly done in the grand Hollywood style, so I won’t claim it’s not entertaining!
And as you know, I’m much more “ha ha” than “rah-rah,” so I was cheered to realize that, while the picture was certainly a grand celebration of all that was tough and manly about the military and intelligence forces, and of their hardware and their deep, abiding brotherhood, it was much less so, and much less stupidly so, than many other pictures! So it had that going for it! It’s still pretty kooky in parts, though!
The real attraction? Ha ha, that cast! You’ve got Connery and Baldwin, both solid, and Glenn and Jones giving fine support, and then other ringers like Sam “Jurassic Park III” Neill giving a touching performance as the Russian officer who only wants to live in Montana, and Peter “Lifeforce” Firth as a nasty Rooskie, and Joss Ackland and Courtney B. Vance and of course the Legend himself, Tim Curry! It’s a talented bunch, ha ha!
It tries very hard to make the situation as hair-raising and suspenseful as possible, but that means everything stops periodically so Jack Ryan can remind everyone of the dreadful stakes involved! This eventually begins to have the opposite effect of what is intended, and you’re left with a bunch of people standing around in an attractively-lit metal tube! Ha ha, it’s an okay Hollywood bunticulation, but on the whole I’m going to give The Hunt For Red October just one and a half caterpillar drives!

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Burl reviews Susanna Pass! (1949)

Yippee-ki-yay, it’s Burl, roundin’ up another movie review for you! Ha ha, this one is, delightfully I feel, called Susanna Pass! It’s a Roy Rogers picture, which means of course that it co-stars both Dale Evans and The Smartest Horse In The Movies, Trigger!
I guess this is a Western – well, no doubt about it, actually! The thing that caused me a moment’s hesitation is that it’s a contemporary Western, with cars and trucks and radios and so forth! That’s always a bit strange! Ha ha, the action takes place in and around the beautifully-named Susanna Pass, where a kindly old man named Russell runs a fish hatchery, a nasty old man named Martin – Russell’s brother, as it happens – runs the local newspaper, and Roy Rogers is the game warden!
Meanwhile two escaped convicts arrive in the area! Bob is out for revenge against Martin, who set him up, and he also wants to get his hands on a vast reserve of oil he suspects is located beneath the fish hatchery lake! Roberts, the other convict, is just along for the ride, but happens to be a shady oil engineer! The two have a fight and Bob catches a poking! Ha ha, and after that there are a lot of plot details, several explosions and plenty of murders! Yes, this is perhaps one of the most murder-happy Roy Rogers movies ever made!
It’s the poor fish who take the most casualties, however! The bad guys keep blowing up the lake with dynamite, and fish are floating everywhere! Meanwhile Roy and a kung-fu ichthyologist named Doc, played by Dale Evans, appear perpetually close to having a romance, but it doesn’t ever happen! There are plenty of songs though, and a passle of fisticuffs, and at one point the whole movie stops to become a Jean Painlevé-style nature documentary so we can learn about how fish hatcheries work! Ha ha, and all of this is packed into about sixty-seven minutes!
I enjoyed the picture quite a lot, I must say! Roy maintains his pleasant, smiling veneer even through all the murders and double crosses! Also, the Trucolor photography is very lovely, and the locations are much prettier than the usual dusty Iverson’s Ranch trails we see in such pictures! I liked the whole fish hatchery thing too, and the fact that Roy was a proto-environmentalist battling nasty oilmen! In many ways it’s the flip side of the coin to Thunder Bay!
It’s a terrific little programmer, and even the comedy-relief Mexican father-daughter team were not as bad as one might expect! To my recollection, neither of them ever says “Ai-yee-yee-yee!” or talks about cucarachas! Dale Evans’ character is pretty progressive too – she’s a smart scientist who can take care of herself, and doesn’t fall simperingly in love with the cowpoke Roy the moment she sees him! Altogether I’d like to give Susanna Pass two and a half Riders of the Purple Sage!

Friday 21 March 2014

Burl reviews Some Kind of Wonderful! (1987)

Hello, and a good day to you – it’s Burl! Ha ha, I’m here to review a movie that’s, curiously, quite close to my heart! That doesn’t mean I think it’s particularly good, or that I’d go so far as to recommend it to others, but I have a real soft spot for the thing! It’s a John Hughes picture – one he wrote and produced but did not direct, it should be noted – and it’s called Some Kind of Wonderful!
I recall seeing the picture on a double bill with something else, maybe that ape movie, Project X! I really should have been on a date to see that double feature, but I don’t think I was! Maybe I couldn’t think of a girl whose taste would encompass both movies; but that would have been a complete failure of imagination on my part, and a woeful underrating of the young ladies with whom I was schooled!
The main thing I loved about the picture was Mary Stuart Masterson, who may not have made a very convincing drummer, ha ha, but who looked terrific in a chauffeur suit! Heaven Help Us indeed! She plays Watts, presumably named after Charlie Watts, a young lady who speaks in goofy pseudo-epigrams (“Ha ha, don’t mistake paradise for a pair of long legs!”) and, judging from her drum head, is a Love & Rockets fan! In the 90s I knew and was powerfully attracted to a number of ladies with cropped, bleached-blonde hair, and I believe this character is to thank for that particular romantic avenue!
Anyway, if you’ve seen Pretty In Pink, the plot will seem familiar to you! (I hadn’t, and still haven’t seen that particular movie, so the repetition didn’t bother me!) There’s a young fellow, a working-class rapscallion named Keith, who has the aforementioned Watts for a best friend, but pines for a blowdry beauty called Miss Amanda Jones, just like in the Stones song, ha ha! The big twist is that, though Amanda moves among the rich and has a wealthy, perfidious boyfriend she herself lives in a literally wrong-side-of-the-tracks neighbourhood! Watts, meanwhile, secretly loves Keith, but he’s blind to that fact, and also to her infinite superiority to Miss Amanda Jones, to the point of seeming a little dull-witted!
Eric Stoltz, well known from The Wild Life, plays Keith, giving a strange, soft-spoken performance that’s out of place in a teen film, but welcome for precisely that reason! The twist with his character is that when he unveils his portrait of Miss Amanda Jones, it's hilariously misproportioned and generally terrible! Ha ha, I love Movie Art! John “Beverly Hills Cop” Ashton plays Keith’s dad, who’s obsessed with getting him into a business college, but Keith is more interested in being an artist than any post-secondary education! (Ha ha, art school seems never to have occurred to him!) The twist with his character is that he’s not on the whole a bad guy, and also that he doesn’t give up his pro-business school stance at the end of the picture!
The other thing I really liked about the picture was the soundtrack! Ha ha, plenty of great tunes, and a really great pennywhistle version of the Elvis standard “Can’t Help Falling In Love!” It was also quite nice to see the threatening thug characters led by Elias Koteas, who I suppose are meant to be punkrockers (a caste Hughes never successfully grappled with!), turn out to be extraordinarily helpful, nice guys! Ha ha, as an art-class punkrocker myself, I quite appreciated that!
Howard “Grumpier Old Men” Deutch was the director, and he manages to pull off a reasonable, if bland, simulacrum of the Hughes style! It might have been interesting to see a little more pep in the thing overall, but I guess you can’t have everything! It’s hardly a groundbreaking picture, but it hit me in the sweet spot back in my happy schooldays, and so I give Some Kind of Wonderful two and a half mongers!

Burl reviews The Banker! (1989)

Hi, it’s Burl here with a review of a pretty goofy thriller! Ha ha, it’s called The Banker, and it’s about a killer investment banker who spends his days in the corner office and his nights all slicked up with facepaint and a crossbow, liquidating assets! Ha ha!
It’s a police procedural-meets-psychokiller picture, along the line of goofberries like Too Scared To Scream, Fear City and The First Power, with just a touch of Delirium! The banker of the title is a big muscleman guy, played by the dracula from The Monster Squad, who for some reason adopts a fake British accent when he’s on the prowl! When he gets the urge to kill, he calls up one or another of a pair of pimps (ha ha, one of them is played by none other than Leif “God’s Gun” Garrett!) and organizes the company of a lady, whom he then stalks and crossbow-hunts! After that he scrawls some symbols on the wall in blood, because he’s just that kind of guy!
Pretty soon the shout-happy police captain played by Richard “Maniac Cop” Roundtree – of course, who else, ha ha! – puts Detective Robert “Alligator” Forster on the case! Again, ha ha, who else? (Ha ha, Forester was a terrific guy, and he gave me a letter opener once!) The movie gets pretty repetitive at this point – it brings in a crusading news lady just as we saw in The Dark; and also the pimps get curious about what’s happening with their ladies; and there are many scenes where the banker’s secretary tries to prevent people from bursting into his office without an appointment! Ha ha, sadly we never get the scene where she is told her boss, to whom she has always been so loyal, is a crazyman killer!
Ha ha, any effectiveness this picture has comes from its extraordinarily hateful villain! If you thought you couldn’t dislike slick financial players any more than you already do, if the sight of Wall Street-style slicked-back hair makes you want to spit in it, or if you thought the fellow from American Psycho was just about as low as murderous yuppies could get, let me introduce you to this banker, Big Osborne! Ha ha, just wait until you hear his rationale for all the killings! But he deservedly gets a brutal sendoff, almost but not quite in the style of that mad axeman in Cobra!
Otherwise, the movie’s a pretty damp horseblanket! There’s little to no pep in the execution, and though the actors are mostly pretty game, they can’t do much with all the clichés they’ve been given! There’s an attempt at visual style, which is appreciated, but that’s fairly hackneyed too, I’m sorry to say! The picture comes from the same fellow who made the not-quite-a-movie California Girls, so it was actually a lot better than I expected it to be!
It tries, let’s put it that way! Exploitative elements are present and accounted for, the cast has a strong B picture flavor, and there’s a late-80s vibe that, if that’s the sort of thing you like, you’ll like a lot! But at the same time it should have been a lot better, or at least not such a flatty! I’ll give The Banker – boring title too, ha ha! – one and a half ill-fated ethnic partners!

Thursday 20 March 2014

Burl reviews Herbie Rides Again! (1974)

Beep beep, it’s Burl! Ha ha, I’m here to review a motor-vehicle classic for you, the second Herbie picture (after The Love Bug), Herbie Rides Again! Ha ha, I’ve never been quite clear on why Herbie was known as a love bug, but I suspect it has to do with the hippie times in which his first picture was released!
He does perform some love-related duties here, mostly by not interfering with the burgeoning romances offered up by the plot! Now, it’s been a while since I saw the first picture, but I seem to recall it involved racecar driver Dean Jones discovering to his amazement the sentience and unbelievable physical abilities of the little gray 1963 Volkswagen Bug, which he then employs to win both races and hearts!
Jones is forgotten in this sequel, and Herbie’s ownership papers have somehow been transferred to a little old lady, Mrs. Steinmetz, who lives in a former fire hall in the middle of a wasteland somewhere in San Francisco! The wasteland is there because nasty developer Alonzo Hawk, played by the great Keenan Wynn of Piranha and The Dark, is preparing to build a soulless double-tower edifice on the site! But Mrs. Steinmetz, who lives in the firehouse with a young lady named Nicole (played by Stefanie Powers, who is of course well-known for her part in Palm Springs Weekend), won’t sell, and that makes old Alonzo, who’s blustery at the best of times, so red-faced and apoplectic that you'd think he’s like to burst a valve, ha ha!
Enter Ken Berry, a man so radiating earnest good-naturedness that he might have been machine-tooled to be a Disney hero, who plays Alonzo Hawk’s naïve nephew Willoughby! Willoughby starts out trying to convince Mrs. Steinmetz that she should give up the firehouse, but after Nicole beats him with a lobster he realizes the error of his ways and commits himself to protecting the firehouse from his uncle’s depredations!
With all the pieces in place, Herbie himself rather belatedly swings into action! There are marvelous trick effects as the little bug pops wheelies and screeches through parking garages and fancy restaurants, and up the sides of gullies, buildings and the Golden Gate Bridge itself, where he has chased a passel of lawyers! The climax sees Herbie raise an army of fellow Herbies to go after the heavy construction machines which have the firehouse surrounded and are about to bash it to flinders!
I’m pretty sure I saw this picture at some impressionable age, because it really helped form my opinion of real estate developers (don’t care for ‘em!) and San Francisco (attracted to it!), while also giving me an abiding fondness for Herbie himself, who consistently looks great while never being too cute; and also an appreciation for the steely, grainy, richly contrasted look of late 60s / early 70s Disney cinematography!
And the cast is terrific! Berry and Powers are perfectly adequate, but Helen Hayes is marvelous as the old lady, and Keenan Wynn shouts too much perhaps, but he’s always a treat! There are nice turns from John McIntire, who was the sheriff in Psycho, and such performers as Huntz Hall (from Gas Pump Girls) and Chuck McCann (from Lunch Wagon)! And Don Pedro Colley turns up wearing an expensive suit and puffing cigars in the role of “Barnsdorf!” And guess who cameos as a surprised surfer? The Baby himself, from that movie The Baby! Ha ha, wow!
It’s an entertaining little kiddiepic, with the highlight being Keenan Wynn's epic Herbiephobic dream, in which the sheep he is counting to fall asleep become first Herbies with Jaws-teeth, then chanting, hatchet-tossing headdress-wearing Herbies, and finally a buzzing swarm of flying Herbies which surround the now-gigantic, finally aphasic Wynn as he growls and bats away at them from atop the Empire State Building, until he is blinded by their jets of oil and spins downward with a final, maniacal death-scream! Ha ha! I’m going to award Herbie Rides Again two and a half extra-wide building ledges!

Sunday 16 March 2014

Burl reviews The Sugarland Express! (1974)

Yee-ha-ha, it’s Burl, here to review the picture Steven Spielberg made just before he tackled Jaws! Yes, it’s The Sugarland Express, and it’s a movie I’d never seen before, ha ha!
I think the reason I’d always avoided it was that it promised a not inconsiderable number of Goldie Hawn moments on screen, and if you’ve ever read my review of Protocol, you know that ol’ Burl can surfeit of Goldie Hawn moments pretty easily! Not that I really dislike her or anything; it’s just that my Hawn reservoir, being perennially untapped, overflows at the slightest refill!
But when the picture came on the old-movie network, I thought it was finally time to have a look! Ha ha, it was apparently Goldie’s first dramatic role, and though there are many of her goofette traits on display, she also gets to cry and rage and play sly and other things Laugh-In just didn’t allow for! She’s not bad, overall, though the character comes off as being really not so very bright at all!
She plays a young lady who’s just come out of the hoosegow, and her husband, a fellow named Clovis, happens also to be in the pokey, though he’s got a few months left to go! (Clovis is played by William “Ghostbusters” Atherton, back in the day before he was known mainly as a guy who played jerks!) But the couple’s little baby has been handed off to a foster family, and to prevent the lad from being lost to them forever, Goldie’s plan is to break Clovis out of the pokey and for them to somehow then go get the wee lad! This leads to a police chase and the kidnapping of a young officer, and then an ever-escalating mega chase led by courtly Ben “Terror Train” Johnson!
The young officer is played by Michael Sacks, who was also the lead in the movie version of Slaughterhouse-Five! It turns out he was only ever in a grand total of twelve movies and TV shows, the last of them in the mid-80s! But he was a good actor with a very appealing presence, so that makes me wonder just what happened to the poor guy!
In any case, the movie is very nicely done, though not the most thrilling and original thing ever made! It looks good, thanks to Vilmos “The Witches of Eastwick” Zsigmond, and it has some funny bits and plenty of nice performances! Ben Johnson is a particular delight – I’m always cheered up when he comes on screen, ha ha! I recall that, after seeing Jaws, some friend of Pauline Kael’s told her that Spielberg was the first director to come without a proscenium arch hovering over his head, and while that’s obviously not true, you can certainly see what he meant when you watch his early work!
It’s a nice little picture even if the John Williams score too often sounds like a Christmas carol (I forget exactly which one, ha ha), and so I’m going to give The Sugarland Express two and a half Louisiana lunkheads!

Sunday 9 March 2014

Burl reviews Star Trek Into Darkness! (2013)

Boldly going where no Burl has gone before, ha ha, it’s Burl, here to review the biggest and newest and loudest Star Trek picture, Star Trek Into Darkness! Ha ha, I’m not what you’d call a big fan of this particular cultural behemoth; if I were, my card would have to be removed and my insignia torn from my chest the moment it was discovered that I’ve maybe seen three or four episodes of the original show, fewer still of the New Power Generation, and none of the various other TV shows, whose lineaments I could barely discern even in their heydays!
But I’ve seen most of the movies, so I’ve got that going for me, ha ha! And like many people, I consider the Wrath of Khan one just about the best of them, overflowing as it is with Rich Corinthian Leather! Apparently there was some question as to whether the bad guy in this one would be Khan or not, and I’m not sure why there was ever any doubt, or why anyone would care much one way or another! But for those still not put wise and who actually do care, I’ll let you in on the big secret: yes, the bad man in this is the same bad man, more or less, whom Mr. Roarke played in Wrath of Same! Ha ha!
Well, now that cat’s out of the bag, what can we say about the picture itself? I’ve always enjoyed seeing these movies in the theatre, because the spaceships always look so great on the big screen when they crash or blow up or do other things! I’d certainly have enjoyed this one better in the cinema, no question, because that’s mostly what this picture has going for it: big spaceships doing things!
The interplay between the cast is pretty good too – it’s a bunch of talented people, all of them hitting pretty much the right notes required to pay homage to the old characters (and actors) and at the same time make something slightly new out of it! It’s certainly a change of pace for the fellow who played the title role in Dredd, for example, but he has a blustery good time with his role as Dr. Leonard Bones! Simon “Paul” Pegg makes a fine Scotty, John Cho is a grand Sulu, and so on! Even little Anton Yelchin, well known from the Fright Night remake, does a decent Chekov! And we have a surprise appearance from Robocop himself, Peter Weller, and a terrific performance from the star of The Malibu Bikini Shop as Captain Pike!
Behind the camera is the fellow who made Super 8, and I certainly have to applaud his technical skills! I have read criticisms of his love of lens flares and always dismissed it as some kind of crazy nitpicking; but I do have to admit that the darn things are everywhere and get a bit distracting! I suppose the hard mattes and perhaps the entire matte box never made it into the camera package – ha ha, some equipment rental schlub must certainly have gotten an earful for that little blunder!
Anyway, like all big action pictures these days, there are about three endings, maybe four, and by garr, why they don’t just dissect that Khan into little pieces and be shut of him, I just don’t know! But no, they store him in a tube! He’s never a very scary villain, and he’s never less scary than when they reveal his ultimate goal, which is to kill almost everybody! Ha ha, this is done in such an offhanded way that it either presupposes great knowledge of this character and his plans, or just had to be shoehorned in among all the exploding junk after someone pointed out the generally low stakes while it seems all he wants to do is beetle off with his 72 friends, for whom he feels a ridiculously strong love!
I won’t go on about the other things I found ridiculous or implausible in this picture, because nerds have already been all over it like scarabs! I will say that it was more or less enjoyable while it was on, though there were some longuers and some moments in which the silliness slopped up over the edges and into my seat! But for its technical dazzletry and eagerness to entertain, I’ll go ahead and give Star Trek Into Darkness two tribbles!

Saturday 8 March 2014

Burl reviews The Sin of Adam and Eve! (1968)

Ha ha, let there be Burl! Yes, it’s me, just plain Burl, here to review a Mexican picture dramatizing the story of Adam and Eve! It’s called The Sin of Adam and Eve, and quite naturally it spends a good deal of time on the parts before the great fruit-eating sin, when they didn’t wear any fig leaves at all! After the eating of the fruit – which doesn’t look like a terribly appealing viand, it must be said! – things move pretty quickly, because fig leaf shorts and the later accouterments we see are not what the customers paid their money to see!
So it’s your basic nudie flick! Ha ha, do I need to describe the plot? Well, after a Genesis dramatized through stock footage of erupting volcanoes and quaking landscapes, Adam is formed out of dust! He’s a burly fellow with a perpetually bewildered expression, and we see him wander about the Garden for some time, discovering such joys as swimming and shouting! Ha ha, truly a paradise!
Soon enough the Lord decides Adam needs a companion, and after a little rib surgery, Eve is formed! She’s a very comely lass, it must be said, and Adam shows her around the Garden for quite a while! The Lord points out the forbidden Tree of Knowledge and tells them it’s a no-no! But a snake is prowling around the premises and whispering to the not-too-swift-seeming Eve that she really ought to try some of this marvelous fruit – hey, she owes it to herself, and who is this Lord anyway to tell her what to do?
After many scenes in which Eve tries things like wearing an enormous flower on her head or showing off some pebbles, and Adam reveals himself to be an insensitive clod, the fruit is finally eaten! Then there’s the fig leaves, the casting-out (during which the pair lose one another for a while), and the separate wandering of the wastelands! Adam fights or flees from a whole series of animals, which also chase and eat one another – ha ha, no ASPCA on this set! – and eventually the pair are reunited!
Well, I guess the idea is that the picture has a sad ending – if only Eve had been able to resist the temptation, humans would have lived in a perfect, plentiful paradise and everything would be great, and there would be no war, no strife, no privation! But it seems like it could all have been avoided if only the Lord hadn’t put that tree there! Was it meant as some kind of test? If so, why? It makes the Lord seem kind of mean and dogmatic, at least as far as this picture explains things!
Anyway, it’s mostly a nice little movie with plenty of scenery to look at, ha ha! There’s no dialogue besides “Adam!” and “Eve!” shouted incessantly; but there’s plenty of narration! It’s mostly a curiosity: a Biblical picture with exploitation aplenty! It’s not the most thrilling thing ever made, but I enjoyed it in an obscure way, and I’m going to give The Sin of Adam and Eve two flaming swords!

Thursday 6 March 2014

Burl reviews Las Vegas Weekend! (1986)

Ka-ching, it’s Burl! Ha ha, yes, I’m here with a review of a weird little nerd comedy from the mid-80s, which most likely got the green light thanks to the success of Revenge of the Nerds! This one is called Las Vegas Weekend and it features a slobbering glasses nerd named Percy, who also happens to be a largely unsocialized computer wizard obsessed with his Wang! Ha ha, that joke is made so many times through the 83 minutes of this picture that you lose count, and it begins to feel like a verbal version of the time Sideshow Bob stepped on all those rakes!
Percy is a grad student at some Los Angeles college, and it seems he has developed a system of card-counting he figures would be perfect for Vegas! When his professor, played by Ray Dennis Steckler of all people – ha ha, you remember Rat Pfink A Boo Boo, I’m sure, and Wild Guitar and all those other great pictures he made! – gives him the boot from his institution, just as Venkman, Spengler and Stantz got it in Ghostbusters, Percy decides to try his luck in that desert gambling mecca! So the lady who has a crush on him lends him her car, and off he motors to Sin City!
Once there, Percy puts his system into action at the blackjack table, and he wins a bundle! This attracts the attentions of Ace and Louie, two goofy gamblers, or maybe criminals – it’s hard to tell! They seem modeled on the sort of hoods Dick Bakalyan used to play in those Disney science-wizard pictures! Ace is a short bald fellow, while Louie is a big dumb lug, mugging outrageously in a desperate, frenzied attempt to inject some measure of humour into every scene; but he might as well be trying for laughs by holding up a sign reading “funny!” Ha ha!
The rest goes as expected, though with all its pointless turns and reverses, it seems to take forever! Ha ha, it feels as long as Casino! It shares an excess of narration with that picture as well! Percy wins and wins, and gets a transformative makeover and succumbs to the temptations of the flesh! Then his erstwhile girlfriend shows up, and soon Percy’s blackjack system unravels! He loses all his winnings, outrages his ladyfriend, his friends desert him and soon he is wandering the Strip to the accompaniment of melancholy music several rungs down from the kind of thing that would have played in a John Hughes movie!
There is of course a logic-defying reunion between the two sometime-sweethearts, and then several more scenes of blackjack, which the movie hardly needed frankly, and then a big slot machine explodes! The end! Ha ha, if you can only watch five minutes of this movie, make it the last five! They’re great!
But you may as well watch the whole thing, because you’ll witness some very strange performances! Percy makes both a convincing nerd and a convincing rico suavé, which is pretty impressive – almost Jerry Lewisian! It’s certainly a more committed performance than I’d have expected, and comes off like a half-talented normal guy doing an Eddie Deezen impersonation! There are other familiar faces on board too, like Jace Damon from Hell Squad, Macka Foley from Ed, and of course Tamara Landry from Bikini Med School! Ha ha!
Now, I don’t usually like gambling pictures – I just don’t care much for scenes of people knowing they should hold 'em or fold 'em or walk away or run, but don't! This is why I’ve never seen California Split, The Gambler, Lost in America, ha ha! (I have seen Vegas Vacation though!) But in this movie it's more tolerable, because you don’t care one way or another which way it goes, and judging from that last scene, neither did the filmmakers! Ha ha, it’s got all this and an extended nerd lovemaking scene, so how can you go wrong! I'll tell you how – if it’s not very good, ha ha! I’ll give Las Vegas Weekend one and a half exploding slot machines!

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Burl reviews Mutant! (1984)

Ha ha, can you conceive of it! A movie starring Bo Hopkins and Wings Hauser? Ha ha, sorry, Burl here! I almost forgot to introduce myself because I was so thrilled at the existence of such a pairing! (Mind you, it doesn’t touch my dream team cast, which would be Dick Miller and Harry Dean Stanton starring together as partners in crime of some sort, or maybe rivals in love a la Grumpy Old Men! Ha ha, they were both in The Long Ride Home, but not so much as a team!)
So Mutant has Bo and Wings, and after a lot of bickering they eventually do team up, sort of, to battle a terrible threat! The set-up is as follows: two brothers, Josh (Wings) and Mike, are for whatever reason driving through some dire Southern town when, uh oh, they run into a spot of bother with a truckful of rednecks! Now they’re stranded, and after some barfighting and a mysterious disappearance and many encounters with dyspeptic, dipsomaniacal sheriff Bo, it turns out the town has a toxic zombie problem, and the truck-drivin’ rednecks are among those responsible for this environmental outrage!
Ha ha, I’d seen this picture before, and remembered it as dull and dry and overlong and uneventful, and I think I’ve always slightly resented the misleadingly evocative, slightly H.R. Geiger-ish poster artwork! Of course the VHS box is much worse, adding a very Alien-looking monster which never appears in the movie!

No, it’s strictly a toxic zombie picture, along the line of movies like Warning Sign or Impulse, or even Nightmare at Noon, which also stars Bo Hopkins and Wings Hauser, ha ha! It's another movie directed by John ‘Bud’ Cardos, and once again, as with The Dark, ol’ ‘Bud’ is replacing a director who got canned from his position! Another strange occurrence is that the picture was originally called Night Shadows, a dull and nonsensical title (though apt considering the frequently dark photography, ha ha!), but was renamed Mutant only a year or two after Forbidden World, a movie that contains an alien very similar to the spurious one on the VHS box, had its name changed from its original Mutant – a change made on the grounds that no one would know what the word “mutant” meant!
Phew! Ha ha, I should write a book about it, or maybe about the mysterious disappearance of executive producer Edward L. Montero shortly after it was made! Well, maybe I won’t, but someone should! Anyway, to get back to the picture, watching it this time around I still found it overlong (it’s a hundred minutes or more!) and filled with too much bickering and too many scenes of skulking, but I also thought it was a little bit scary here and there, almost in spite of the rather flat direction from 'Bud'! And it gets intense on an almost a 28 Days Later level, at least in one scene in a school bathroom! (Ha ha, I didn’t like that scene, and felt very badly for the kid from Close Encounters!)
It also has more Special Makeup Effects than I’d thought of it as having! If they’d thought to include a little gore, it might now be thought of as an 80s Rubber Movie to rival The Power! But mostly it’s just some inflating hands and necks and heads as people toxify (which reminded me of the similar Alien Predators), and some pretty nifty yellow-goo stigmata! These scenes help balance out the dark dullness and some pretty horrendous acting from the main lady!
Mutant won’t be found on anyone’s list of favourites, but it scratches the itch if you feel like some 1980s smalltown horror! It could have used more pep and a few more lights in the climax (even a scene involving exploding molotov cocktails manages to be very dim, ha ha!), but I’m going to give this picture one and a half bottomless pits of toxic waste for several of the bad guys to fall into! Ha ha, take a gander!