Comic Book Movie Review: Tank Girl (1995)

We all knew a girl who was REALLY into Tank Girl, didn’t we?  For a lot of people my age who would have been teenagers when the flick came out, Lori Petty as Tank Girl completely exemplified the kind of outside the norm, Gen X, alternative thought process that appealed to the kids who were more concerned with which new bands were rad instead of which new brands to wear.

It’s kind of interesting because the character of Tank Girl is basically the female version of the slick friend who appears in tons of 80s movies. You know, the guy who tries really hard to get his geeky friend to ask a girl out (think Styles from Teen Wolf). But instead of trying to help a pal out, she’s trying to break out of prison and destroy a mega corporation in a post-apocalyptic future where it hasn’t rained in over a decade.

So, how did this quirky 90s subcultural flick based on a comic book I’ve never read hold up? Pretty great, actually. Like Batman and Robin this is a big, goofy  movie with all kinds of craziness (kangaroo mutants played by Ice-T, tanks all over the place, a villainous Water & Power organization). It’s bright and it’s loud and it’s odd and that’s what makes it great. I can’t see a major studio getting behind a movie like this and am surprised MGM did the same in 1995, to be honest. Heck, there’s a Cole Porter song and dance number in the middle of a brothel in the movie!

I think the cast is great and everyone really jumps into these roles that could have been done with too much tongue in too much cheek, but instead Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T, Maclom McDowell and the rest really have fun with it and give it their kinetic all.

Personally, I don’t have a connection to this movie. I think I rented it once from Family Video back in my ongoing rental spree, but didn’t remember much about it. I’ve liked Petty ever since I saw A League Of Their Own and think it’s a ton of fun and a great movie to check out. Also, as I tweeted while watching, Kat Dennings’ character on 2 Broke Girls sounds like she lifted her entire speech pattern after Petty’s. Give it a listen and then compare. Funny stuff.

Halloween Scene: Demons (1985), Halloween (1978), The Ring (2002), The Substitute (2007) & My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Even though the weather went from very Halloween to ridiculously sunny today, I frontloaded my week so that I could give myself a horror movie marathon day. Today I watched Demons, Halloween (the original of course), The Ring (US remake), The Substitute (dubbed, poorly I might add) and My Bloody Valentine 3D in 3D for the first time. So, let’s tackle these bad boys in order.

I actually watched Demons late last night, which is still technically today. I was catching up on emails and some links I wanted to read, so I wasn’t paying 100% attention and I don’t really understand what was happening. Considering this is an Italian horror movie, I’m not sure if I would understand even if I was sitting in a room by myself with just this movie to draw my attention. Far as I can tell, some people are in a movie theater and somehow the movie turns the viewers into demons. Once the demons are loose, they somehow create more demons, which kind of makes them zombies with a different look (glowing eyes, big claws).

Even though I don’t really know what was going on, I do know that the effects and kills in the movie were both awesome and cringe-worthy. You’ve got claws popping through a woman’s finger tips, a woman being scalped by a demon and razors near nipples among plenty of other things.

Aside from not making perfect sense (or at least being interesting enough to draw my attention away from the computer to pay attention which is obviously less of a sin than actually not making sense, but still not good), the movie also spends a lot of time with some cocaine-loving punks who (I think) only serve to show up at the movie theater later to become demons. It’s a weird choice, but I guess one that’s somewhat common when it comes to Italian horror (I’m not very well schooled in this subgenre). But, any movie that ends with a dude riding a dirtbike through a movie theater swinging a samurai sword to kill demons right before a helicopter falls through the roof is worth watching. It’s not a good movie, but it’s a fun story to watch.

Halloween‘s still my favorite slasher movie of all time. I reviewed the flick a few years ago, which you can read here. The sitting-up scene still gives me a charge. I don’t know if I’ve noticed this before, but I have no idea why Laurie’s friends with Annie. She’s SUCH a bitch. Man, what a jerk. Anyway, I love how Loomis’ decent into madness can be seen even in this first installment. Love that guy.

This was only the second time I’ve seen The Ring, but it’s still one of my favorite horror movies. The first time I saw it was in college at a date event my fraternity threw. We rented out a small room at the tiny theater in town called The Strand, everyone brought a date and we all sat there in the dark watching the movie. It’s my all-time favorite horror experience in a theater because, knowing everyone there allowed a lot of us to cut loose a little, so there was all kinds of screaming. You tend to hold that back when you’re in a theater with strangers, but this was a room full of friends. It was awesome. The only problem with the experience is that the missus swore off horror movies after watching the flick with me. Even worse, some of my fraternity brothers tried to scare us when we came back to my room later that night. Their plan was to have a tape sticking out of my VCR, the channel set to static and someone behind the couch to turn the TV on when we walked in. We stopped off to get some food, so we took longer to get back than everyone else which is good because, had they pulled the prank off, I don’t think the missus would have slept ever again. Or killed someone. By the time we got back to my room, some dudes were walking out, saw us and told us their aborted plan.

I had a wonderful time watching this movie again. I was worried that it would have lost a lot of its punch with me as I watched it by myself and during the day, but instead I was struck by how well put together the flick was. Gore Verbinksi did a great job with the visuals and mood of the movie. I also like that the Noah character seems to say the things that critics of the movie might say “It’s very student film” and “must have been scarier at night.” Those little bits give the script some self-awareness that I like without it being too in your face. Ring’s another slow burn type of movie, which I think I’m starting to appreciate more and I also like that there’s a mystery to the film. You think you get the answer and then that answer turns out to be completely wrong. I love when that happens in movies. You’re just trying to put the pieces together along with the Naomi Watts, but just because you’ve got a series of facts doesn’t mean you know the full story.

I was also struck by how many now-famous people are in small roles in the movie. Sara Rue (who was on BBT and those Jenny Craig commercials), Adam Brody, Amber Tamblyn and Pauley Perrette (the goth chick from NCIS) all have small parts. Plus, Samara is played by Daveigh Chase who voiced Lilo from Lilo & Stitch, which is kind of funny because the missus loves Lilo & Stitch and HATES The Ring.

In case you’re wondering, yes I’ve seen the original Ringu movies, but didn’t like them as much. I bought bootleg versions of them at a comic convention after seeing the movie in 2002, which was funny because, at the same time, the missus had bought me the legit versions for me for Christmas (the previous Christmas the same thing happened, but with the Jay and Silent Bob action figures). I don’t remember specifically why I didn’t like Ringu as much, but I would imagine it boils down to Americans not having the same weird cultural fears and hangups that Japanese folks do. Verbinski did a good job with the water and the kids, but those things don’t normally because I’m a grown man who can swim. I also remember having a problem with the subtitles which were white on often white backgrounds. I left these DVDs back home when I moved out here, so it’s been a while and I should definitely give them another watch.

Speaking of more watches, I watched The Substitute again and I think it’s the best Ghost House Underground movie of the bunch. It still reminds me of The Goonies but with an alien broad who can shrink people and control minds instead of the Fratellis and pirates. My only problem with the movie is that the dubbing is awful. Is it really so hard to get some actual kids to record voices instead of people who usually do cartoons? Seriously, pull a group of 16 year olds off the street and give them the script and it’d be way better than this. Just saying.

I finished things out by watching the copy of My Bloody Valentine 3D I picked up from Blockbuster and the pink and green 3D glasses I bought online. I’m not sure what to think about the experience of watching a 3D movie at home. This was the first time I ever did that and the first time I’ve used these kinds of 3D glasses. When I first put them on everything looked to be washed in those hues, but after a little while your eyes get used to it. As I’ve said, I tend to work on more than one thing at once which means every time I looked away from the screen or took the glasses off, it would take all that long to get back into the swing of things again. The other problem I had was that I couldn’t find a good angle to watch the movie. My usual seat isn’t directly in front of the TV but off to the side, so the 3D effects didn’t always hit me in the right way. Maybe I was too close or too far away. I tried some different angles, but never got a great view of things. There were a few things tossed at the screen that did make me flinch, but I missed the eye gag in the beginning because I was looking at email. I’m lame. The movie itself was the same as it was last time, though I remembered the twist this time around. I guess it still works and is a fun enough slasher flick to buy for $5.

Quick Movie Review: The International (2009)

Clive Owens is a cool dude. At least he seems so in his movies. I think I first saw him in Sin City, but I do remember hearing about his roll as The Driver in those commercials before that. From there I saw and really enjoyed Shoot Em Up, King Arthur and Children Of Men. I had Derailed from Netflix but it sounded too intense (Jennifer Aniston’s character gets raped), so I sent it back without watching. While flipping through the recently released Instant Watch movies on Netflix, I saw The International on there and immediately added it to the top of my list. I watched it last night and it was alright. Owens is as slick and awesome as he always is. The plot revolves around a big evil bank. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely paying attention (which makes this a rather lame movie review). But, I have to blame the movie at least a little bit. I’m sure it was relatively intriguing, but the only parts that dragged me away from the laptop were the action scenes. There’s a big shoot out in the Guggenheim which was really fun. I also had a good time watching him walk around NYC, trying to see if I recognized where he was (I didn’t). I did find it interesting how prevalent Chase was in the background of various scenes of him in the city. Were they cool with being in the “evil bank” movie? I should probably change the title of this to “A Quick Movie Scene Review” but that ain’t happening. Anyone actually sit down and pay attention? Should I give The International another look in the near future?