Halloween Scene: Slither (2006)

One of the reasons watching Zombie Holocaust made me so mad was because I was focusing on it instead of watching the excellent Slither which I had seen years ago when I lived with my pal Rickey Purdin (of DC Comics and VHS Notebook fame). But, aside from the basic plot, a few key scenes and the inclusion of Jenna Fischer, I had forgotten almost everything about this movie, including the fact that faves Elizabeth Banks, Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker starred.

Anyway, after finishing that crapfest, I turned the Xbox on and finished Slither. Holy crap, you guys, this is such a great movie. I put it up there with Trick ‘r Treat as one of my favorite horror movies from the last 1o years. The beauty of this film is that it includes so many different horror elements and does them all well. You’ve got the Invasion of the Body Snatchers thing, the small town thing, the “this could spread to the whole world” thing, the zombie thing, the gore thing, the pretty-good-CGI thing, the funny thing, it has ALL THE THINGS.

If you haven’t seen the movie — and you really should, it’s fan-effing-tastic — these alien creatures wind up in a small town and start taking over the population. Because they take over Rooker first and he loves Banks, everyone who gets infected and becomes part of the hive mind, they all love her and bring her to Rooker who has turned into…something else. It’s just such a cool idea that feels familiar enough that doens’t need a ton of info to get into, but also feels fresh. That’s pretty much the way this whole movie feels. Meanwhile, Fillion plays the sheriff who’s doing his best to stop the invasion and just survive this ordeal.

Unfortunately, I had to watch this movie mostly with subtitles — which I didn’t even know you could do on Netflix Instant until the other day. This worked out so I could continue to understand the movie while I watched it either at night or while Lu took naps. The problem though is that I really missed hearing Banks and Fillion give their dialog. Those two are such good, funny actors and bring both elements to this film which might seem funny, but is definitely taken seriously. We need more movies like this, dammit!

Sylvester Stallone Is Awesome

I had a revelation while watching Over The Top (1987) this weekend: Sylvester Stallone really is a good actor. In addition to his obvious bad assery, I found myself feeling bad for the big galoot as he struggled with dealing with his son. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, I’ve seen a surprising amount of Stallone movies this pass year including Death Race 2000, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Over The Top, Tango and Cash (how did I not blog about those three?), Cliffhanger and Rambo. I’ve also seen most of the Rocky movies in my days, but need to rewatch them, Cop Land and, as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t wait for The Expendables. Two of those I’ve watched recently, so let’s jump in, shall we?

A few weeks back I had some free time on the weekend (I came down with a crazy cold while we were trying to paint our bathroom, I swear) and decided to give Cliffhanger (1993) on Netflix Instant Watch. I got so into it that Em, who was graciously finishing the painting while I slowly turned into a snot machine, heard me yelling at the TV and was about to yell at me for playing video games while she was working until she came in to see me on the edge of my seat.

See, the thing is that THEY’RE ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN. Sure there’s actors, stuntmen, matte painting and other special effects, but this is before cheap CGI, so someone was actually on a mountain and you can feel that danger. I don’t know if it was unconscious or not because it popped into my head right away “Woah, that’s high up, someone had to actually do that,” but I definitely felt it the whole time. Just try and tell me this isn’t intense:

I’d never seen the movie, so it held a lot of surprises for me, especially when it came to the cast. I pretty much only knew that Stallone and the girl from Northern Exposure (Janine Turner) were in it. I had no idea John Lithgow, Michael Rooker and the cop from CSI Miami (Rex Linn) were all in it. You gotta love Lithgow as a villain.

The thing that surprised me about both of these Stallone movies is how much deeper the story is than you’d expect. With Cliffhanger, you’d just expect it to be dudes on a mountain making other dudes find their lost money, but instead you’ve got all this backstory between Stallone and Rooker and Stallone and Turner. The same goes for Over The Top, which I picked up at Best Buy for $5 last week even though I’d never seen it before. It’s not JUST the Stallone arm wrestling movie. He’s also dealing with his 10-year-old kid who he’s never met before (played by David Mendenhall, the voice of Daniel Witwicky in Transformers), the kid’s sick mom, her dad (played by Lost Highway’s Robert Loggia!) and a bunch of dudes in tank tops at the arm wrestling championship.

Of course, it comes with its fair share of ridiculousness too. Stallone’s a truck driver and one of the prizes for the American arm wrestling championship just so happens to be a big rig. Exactly what he needs. Huh, go figure. There’s also a whole series of scenes in which his son steels a car, drive it to the airport, gives it to a security guard, flies to Las Vegas, avoids his grandpa’s goons (one of which, I’m pretty sure played a goon in Road House, the one with the curly hair) and makes his way to the arm wrestling championships all while his dad is in the middle of the competition. Crazy! How does he do this? Were credit cards even around back then? It’s like they tried to throw a little Home Alone in the middle of this action movie, it’s great. You’ve also got a great series of weirdos he has to arm wrestle (all of whom are much, MUCH bigger than him.

But, yeah, of course the best moments involve Stallone being a badass:

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If you can’t get behind this kind of awesomeness, I pity you.

Two more quick things. One, the movie was so rad that it earned itself an action figure line back in 1986 with real arm wrestling action! I very much wish I could find a commercial online for this, but as the basic video search I did on YouTube brought nothing, click through to this Virtual Toy Chest link, you’ll be doing yourself a service my friend.

And second, just try and tell me that this painted image of Stallone, arm extended with a truck and a hawk behind him isn’t cooler than anything you’ve seen in the past 13 years. Bazinga!

Halloween Scene: Seeing Halloweeners

Much like spying Lost cast members, I love seeing folks from the Halloween movies (well, the ones I’ve seen and liked at least) in other flicks. I’ve recently had the pleasure and surprise of seeing Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence in various flicks I didn’t even know they were in.

Danielle Harris popped up as a kid in two flicks about dads she doesn’t really like who get into some crazy situations. First up, I watched a movie called Back to Back (1996) starring her and Michael Rooker (who I’ve only seen in Mallrats, he looks kinda funny with hair). Oh, Bobcat Goldthwait is in it too and is super annoying, but don’t worry, he gets blown up pretty good.

Back to Back is not a good movie. It’s not altogether bad, it’s just kind of unremarkable. Rooker and Harris get kidnapped by this guy who has a score to settle with someone for some reason, so he escapes from a police station and blah blah blah. I guarantee you’ve seen this kind of movie before done better. But, if you’re like me and you’re looking for something to watch on Netflix Instant, you can probably do worse.

Harris also appeared as the angry daughter in The Last Boy Scout (1991). I’ll be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in the movie and still haven’t finished it from early last week (I had pretty bad luck picking movies as I’m sure I’ll get to in further detail in upcoming posts). I’m sure there’s some good stuff in there, I just need to finish it out. Thanks to this commute, though, it’ll be rough. Anyone want to give me one of those plug-in internet things? I’d greatly appreciate it and even plug the heck outta you, for what it’s worth.

On the Donald Pleasence front, I peeped him in two movies as well, first up the Sean Connery James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967). In it, Pleasence plays Blofeld, the big villain for the early Bond flicks. Pleasence was the first guy to play Blofeld in person (you saw him petting his cat a lot and feeding fish before this) and boy does he look crazy nutso, but in a good way. It’s pretty clear that Donnie here was the inspiration for Dr. Evil in Austin Powers (down to the suit and even some of the mannerisms).

Pleasence also appeared in the 1979 version of Dracula starring Skeletor-Nixon himself Frank Langella as Drac. I read about the movie on Horror Movie A Day and thought it sounded pretty good. I was bored to tears for most of it, but Pleasence played a mental institute-running Dr. Jack Seward. He didn’t do much but be a dad for the parts I saw (this was another movie I couldn’t get through, even being a captive audience on a train. Ah well, you can’t go wrong with crazy Pleasance, though he still, in my opinion, never topped the upper echelon’s of crazy-old-guy he reached in Halloween 6.