Bad Movie of the Week

Number 242 of a series

I need to check on this. Yes, it was on Wednesday I posted a review of Ghostbusters from 1984. Of course there needed to be a sequel, and there was. Here it is. From 1989, here is Ghostbusters II, with much of the same cast and crew.

Like its predecessor, this is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, the source of these screen shots. It’s from Columbia Pictures. Details are from Wikipedia.

The opening title shot tells this is “5 years later.” There is a crack in a New York City sidewalk, and a slimy ooze emerges and spreads. Along comes the enchanting Ms. Barrett, since married, since divorced, not arriving at her apartment, carrying her groceries, pushing her new baby, Oscar (William T. Deutschendorf and Hank J. Deutschendorf II) in a carriage. There is a special place in hell for parents who name a child Oscar, but that’s another matter. Anyhow, the carriage wheels roll through the ooze, and as Dana engages with the building superintendent, the carriage starts to roll away. Not just roll away, but on and into Midtown traffic while the frantic mother chases after it. It rolls and dodges traffic, as if by luck (or magic) and finally stops. Dana is curious, and she considers calling her old friends with the Ghostbusters.

And we see the new logo. Number 2.

The five years have not been good for the Ghostbusters. The luster has come off the business, and they are reduced to doing birthday parties. Even the sixth graders think this stuff is a big hoax.

Dana stops by Spengler’s research lab to try to get some answers. She does not want Peter involved, since she wound up marrying a musician instead of him (he never asked her).

She is now working as an art restorer at a museum, under the direction of Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol). He’s the nerd’s definition of a nerd, and his attempts at cozying up to Dana are brutally inept.

But in the museum is a painting of Vigo the Carpathian, a European tyrant from centuries past. Alone in the museum, Janosz is accosted by the spirit of Vigo coming out of the painting. He is commanded to obtain a baby to enable his rebirth. We know which baby this is going to be.

The Ghostbusters, following up on Dana’s request, check out her apartment. Peter checks out Dana. He is enchanted by the baby he figures should have been his. Then the team moves to the sidewalk, where they discover a sinister presence underground. Bypassing the city’s permit process, they set themselves up as a repair crew and proceed to punch a hole in the street to locate the sinister force.

They are successful in the first part. They find beneath a river of ooze and recover a sample. In the second part they sever a main power cable and punch the Big Apple into darkness, leading to a criminal trial. As evidence, the police bring along stuff they found in the Ghostbusters wagon, including a beaker full of the ooze.

The ooze is strange stuff. It reacts to human emotion, and as the judge starts to pronounce sentence he becomes more enraged, and the beaker becomes more volatile, finally erupting into the ghosts of the Scaleri Brothers, the pair of which the judge previously sent to the electric chair.

Anyhow, the Ghostbusters are (temporarily) vindicated, but things are not going well for Dana. Mysteriously, Oscar climbs out on the building ledge, where an apparition, apparently in the employ of Vigo, snatches him and carries him away.

I won’t stretch out a deconstruction of the plot, but suffice it to say the Ghostbusters figure the mysterious ooze can be turned around and made to work for them. They accumulate a boatload of the stuff and apply it to the Statue of Liberty, and they activate it with soothing vibes. This animates the statue, which wades the Hudson and comes to Manhattan to do battle with Vigo.

The Ghostbusters triumph. End of movie.

Five years after the original, much of the charm had worn off the concept, but this production still earned $112.5 million in the American market and $215.4 million world wide. It was the eighth best grossing movie of that year.

The script is by Aykroyd and Ramis, those two in the middle above. We saw a lot more of Peter McNicol later, as he played Professor Larry Fleinhardt for six seasons of Numb3rs. Also, he was a camp supervisor in Addams Family Values.

I’m not going to review any additional Ghostbuster sequels.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 241 of a series

You knew eventually I would get around to this one. Here it is. Burt Reynolds died recently, and this was one of his more notorious movies. He met Sally Field here, and the two enjoyed one of those brief Hollywood marriages. That was 41 years ago. Now it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

The title is Smokey and the Bandit, and that’s about the most excitement you’re going to get out of it. This was back in the days when trucker lore was the big rage, and everybody had a CB radio and knew all the highway jargon. “Smokey,” of course is the police, particularly the highway police, because they might be seen wearing these hats likes forest rangers wear, like Smokey the Bear wears. Get it? There used to be a thing called the Gum Ball Rally, and it was an off the books cross-country race engaged by those rich enough to have the fast cars and bold enough to defy the law. The story went that in Ohio if you got on your CB and asked for a smokey alert some patrol officer would come back that there were no smokeys here. This was not to be believed, because the reality was that “Ohio is wall-to-wall Smokey Bears.” Those were the legends of the times. Wait. In case you need further explanation, it was called the Gum Ball Rally, because of the lights on the top of cop cars that looked like gum ball machines.

Reynolds is “Bandit.” That’s his handle. His birth name is Bo Darville, another reason to use “Bandit” for a handle. He is so famous, so popular, he is paid by truck rally promoters just to show up and be there. At this one he accepts the proposition, for much cash, to drive to Texarkana (from Atlanta) and bring back a load of Coors. Some history is involved here.

In those days Coors was strictly from Golden, Colorado, and they limited distribution of their product, because it was not pasteurized, and they did not want to suffer quality defects from long transport times. In the late ’60s I lived in Austin, and you couldn’t get Coors that far east, but you could get it in west Texas, where I sometimes worked at the McDonald Observatory. People would take the charter flight out to Alpine, and they would sometimes bring back a shipment of Coors. We called it something like the Coors Express.

Eventually politically conservative commentator Ronald Reagan weighed in on the matter, because the FTC sued Coors for restraint of trade, and Reagan considered that companies should be allowed to restrain trade to any extent they desired.

So the opening scene shows a trucker being busted for transporting contraband, a load of Coors, east of Texas. The basis of this movie is no Coors east of Texas.

Bandit elicits some up-front for the run, an item of which is the star of the show, this 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. Fact is, this plot is so thin, and the dialog so weak, this car is the move.

The scheme, which does not make any sense, is for Bandit to drive point in the Trans Am in order to smoke out all the mounties while his buddy Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Jerry Reed) keeps a low profile and mothers the cargo.

On the trip back from Texarkana Bandit picks up runaway bride Carrie (Field). That adds romance to the movie and also to Reynolds’ private life.

Interest in the plot is introduced by way of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), whose son is the stranded groom. Sheriff Justice is, of course, relentless in his pursuit of Bandit in the Trans Am, having no clue as to the existence of the contraband Coors.

Of course, Bandit meets multiple smokeys along the way, allowing stunt driver Hal Needham, also the film’s director, to show us what the car can do. Here’s the Trans Am displaying considerable over-steer in the dirt.

To be sure, the plot involves destruction of multiple police cars, as they variously roll over, t-bone, or go into the drink.

Needham made this jump with Lada St. Edmund in the car, standing in for Field. Truth be told, if I were director Needham I would have used a mannequin and saved a movie credit and also an insurance premium.

I won’t leave readers hanging. This cop car eventually does go into the water.

And Bandit makes it back with the load, with Sheriff Justice close behind, by now his sheriff’s car missing both doors and the roof, that courtesy of a steel cable stretched across his path. Bandit and Frog (Carrie) taunt him on the CB from a few feet away as they head off on another exciting run, this time to bring clam chowder back from Boston.

To add edge to the plot, Bandit is required to make the Atlanta-Texarkana and back run in 28 hours., which leaves me in mystery. I’ve made the Dallas-Tucson run, about the same distance, in 15 hours, and that’s while keeping within the posted speed. OK, 85 mph in West Texas. To be sure, this movie was in the days when double-nickels was imposed by federal mandate.

My inclination was to be sorely offended by the bland dialog in this production. Here are some quotes, courtesy of IMDB:

  • Sheriff Branford: The fact that you are a sheriff is not germane to the situation.
  • Buford T. Justice: The god damn Germans got nothin’ to do with it.
  • Junior: What did he say?
  • Buford T. Justice: SHUT UP! ONE SHIT AT A TIME!
  • Junior: All right.

 

  • Junior: My hat blew off, daddy.
  • Buford T. Justice: I hope your goddamn head was in it.

 

  • Carrie: You have a great profile.
  • Bandit: Yeah, I do, don’t I? Especially from the side.
  • Carrie: Well, at least we agree on something.
  • Bandit: Yeah. We both like half of my face.

Wikipedia reports that the dialog was scripted on the set.

This has to be the worst movie I have reviewed that contained this much star power. Field came to the production with a best actress Oscar from Norma Rae, and Gleason had been nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for The Hustler. This was the second highest grossing film for 1977, after the Star Wars debut.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 240 of a series

Another selection from movies filmed in (near) Sedona, Arizona. I was out there last month and picked up on a list of films that used the location. This production made ample use of the famous Red Rock scenery and apparently Oak Creek, that runs through the canyon. Other than that, this is about somewhere out west where mining is a prime industry, and pioneering is a way of life. It’s Johnny Guitar from 1954 out of Republic Pictures. It stars Sterling Hayden as Johnny Guitar (Johnny Logan) and Joan Crawford as Vienna (no last name given). It’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. We are also treated to Mercedes McCambridge as hard as nails Emma Small and Ernest Borgnine as badman Bart Lonergan. Ward Bond you will recognize as John McIvers. Details are from Wikipedia.

Speaking of the famous Red Rock country, the film opens with cowpoke Johnny Guitar riding through some of that. I use the term “cowpoke” loosely, because there is no evidence Johnny has ever poked, pushed, prodded, or even touched a cow. First he experiences some blasting, as miners scratch for gold and silver. Only the blasts appear to be somewhere besides Sedona, because the geology is totally unlike the region. Likely the locals and the Bureau of Land Management would not allow blasting away at some scenery that today rakes in millions of tourist dollars each year. Anyhow, Johnny also hears some gunshots, and he looks down.

He sees some men robbing a stage coach and killing somebody. He rides on.

He comes to Vienna’s place, definitely a cut above your typical frontier saloon. The place is up class, and Vienna is something to look at as well. She has hired Johnny to come out to the rough country to work in her establishment, ostensibly to play the guitar. We later learn there’s a flame going between the two, one that’s unquenched since they parted ways five years previous.

Only, Emma and her followers resent Vienna and her upstart ways, and Emma leads a brigade that charges into Vienna’s place to blame the holdup, and the killing of Emma’s brother, on Vienna and the four pieces of loose change that hang around her place. Emma demands the local authorities force Vienna to close her place by the next day. Things are going to get tense.

The four unsettled hombres decide they need to clear out of the territory. Accused of being robbers, they always assert they grub a living from a silver mine they have. Fact is, the mine has run dry, and they need to move on. To get traveling money they decide to pull a bank heist. They barge in and do the deed while Johnny and Vienna are there to close her account so she can pay off her staff and close her place.

Emma places the bank job on Vienna’s head, and she leads a posse to Vienna’s place to string everybody up. Meanwhile, one of the robbers has gotten separated from the others and has made his way to Vienna’s place, where she has hidden him beneath a table.

He is Turkey Ralston (Ben Cooper), and Emma threatens to hang him outright unless he implicates Vienna. He does, and they hang him forthwith. After dragging Vienna and Turkey out to be hanged, Emma takes down the chandelier with a shotgun blast, burning the place to the ground.

After Turkey has been well and properly hung from the local bridge, only Vienna is left. Nobody will whip the horse out from under her, so it’s left to Emma to do it. It’s something she relishes.

But Johnny has made his way in the dark onto the bridge, and he cuts the rope and rescues Vienna. They escape in the darkness, and they make their way to the robber’s secret hideout by way of a tunnel behind a waterfall.

But Turkey’s horse gets restless and heads for the hideout, leading the posse there. Emma meets secretly with Lonergan and arranges a double cross. When the scheme comes to light there is turmoil within the gang, and eventually the remaining three are killed. Emma faces Vienna for a fight to the death. Emma fires first, but a wounded Vienna blasts Emma onto the world beyond.

The posse has come to see this was a feud between Emma and Vienna, and they no longer want any part of it. They turn around and head back home.

Johnny and Vienna come down from the robbers roost to start a new life together.

Hold it right there. This has the basis of a good plot, but some (a lot) of the dialog is junior high. Here is an exchange between Johnny and The Dancin’ Kid (Scott Brady), a rival for Vienna’s affections:

Kid: All of a sudden I don’t like you, mister.

Johnny: Now that makes me real sad. I always hate to lose a friend.

Vienna: That’s the way it goes. Win some, lose some.

There’s a lot of that in this movie.

It’s possible some of the lame dialog can be laid to Roy Chanslor, who wrote the book and also The Ballad of Cat Ballou. Wikipedia claims that “Philip Yordan rewrote the script on location.”

There’s a lot in this movie that doesn’t fit. Who was responsible for continuity, anyhow. We see Emma gun down the chandelier and quickly the two-story edifice is totally engulfed. Later we see the posse ride past the conflagration. And later we see them riding past. And later we see them riding past. And later we see them riding past. Get the picture?

The posse figures to block the bandits’ escape by blasting away various parts of the mountain. We see explosion after explosion, apparently with nobody around setting off the charges. You have to ask, with the bandits heading hell bent for leather to escape, how did the posse get ahead of them to plant all those charges?

Look at the final scene. These four high plains drifters discovered a silver lode in the mountains, and they worked it by themselves to keep the location secret. In the meantime they built this place, apparently designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, all by themselves, as a temporary place to bunk while they worked the mine. And nobody noticed them trucking all this building material up the trail and through the waterfall. When did they have time to work the mine? Maybe I’m being too picky.

Joan Crawford subsequently became even more famous through the memoirs of her stepdaughter. Her nature was manifest during this production, as Hayden and McCambridge found her disagreeable to work with. Sterling Hayden was a real hero in World War II, earning a Silver Medal. He ot his big role as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove.

I recall Mercedes McCambridge as Rock Hudson’s tough-hided sister in Giant. It seemed to me, watching her in my youth, that casting directors had her number on their speed dial, labeled “Masculine Woman.”

This was three years after the start of Ernest Borgnine’s career. I previously saw him in The Whistle at Eaton Falls, a film that is currently withheld from the public. His major break was as a shy butcher in Marty, where he played the title role and won an Oscar for best actor. The real money was McHale’s Navy, which ran on TV for four years. He was a real Navy vet, re-enlisting after the United Stated enter World War II and finishing as a Gunner’s Mate First Class. I previously reviewed Bad Day at Black Rock, RED, and Escape from New York.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 239 of a series

This title shot explains how I came to review this movie. The name of the movie is Albuquerque, which is the most prominent city in New Mexico. But the scenery is nowhere near Albuquerque; rather it’s in another state, Arizona. Specifically the scenery is from Sedona, where I was all of last week. In the town there is a series of plaques along a scenic walk, each one explaining something of the local culture. One plaque lists all the movies filmed in the region, and one of these is this, based on a book by Luke Short. The movie came out in 1948 and is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

The film stars Randolph Scott as Cole Armin, a former Texas Ranger, coming to Albuquerque to work for his uncle, John Armin (George Cleveland). That’s where the story gets interesting.

But first viewers are treated to more of that famous Red Rock scenery, for which Sedona is famous. This is Bell Rock, a sandstone formation, several hundred feet tall, which stands alongside Highway 179. A few years ago Jim Eng and I went about 200 feet up, where we obtained some fantastic photos.

More of the Red Rock scenery as we see a stage coach heading toward Sedona, rather, towards Albuquerque.

The opening scene introduces one of the most colorful characters to grace western movies during my childhood. Here is George “Gabby” Hayes as Juke, the driver and also a top notch mule skinner. For the uninformed, “mule skinner” means driver of mule teams.

Tragedy strikes quickly as three gunmen stage a holdup. Cole has been entertaining fellow passengers, including the striking Celia Wallace (Catherine Craig). But Cole is without his weapon, and he has to surrender meekly as the bandits take Celia’s money ($20,000) and shoot one of the passengers. There follows a dramatic scene where the flurry of gunfire spooks the horses, and the coach goes tearing off along the desert road with a young girl, Karolyn Grimes as Myrtle Walton, trapped inside. Cole borrows a loose horse and overtakes the coach, saving the day for all but the dead passenger.

Cole’s life as a hero is short. When the remains of the stage coach run arrives in Albuquerque, and Cole discloses his kinship with John Armin, a decided chill sets in. John Armin has a reputation as a ruthless, even criminal, businessman. When the local sheriff, Ed Linton (Bernard Nedell) shows a lack of interest in catching the culprits, Cole’s suspicion grows. It turns out the sheriff works for John Armin.

John Armin is an old man, confined to a wheel chair, and needing a younger man, such as his nephew, to take over and run his freight hauling business. Also working for Armin is the brutish gun slinger Steve Murkil (Lon Chaney, Jr.), billed as “Lon Chaney” in the titles.

Cole quickly figures out he does not want to work for his uncle, and he throws in his lot with sweet Celia’s brother, Ted Wallace (Russell Hayden), who runs a rival freight business. When the Wallace freight business begins to show some competition, John Armin brings in outside help in the form of the smashing Letty Tyler (Barbara Britton). Letty arrives on the coach and proceeds immediately to the offices of the Wallace freight company, where she comes upon Ted being robbed by a masked man with a gun. Letty immediately whips her own weapon from her handy purse, and gets off two shots, scaring the bandit away. She is awarded with a job at the Wallace company. Not known, but ultimately suspected by Cole, is that Letty’s pistol was loaded with blanks.

As a plant for Armin, Letty brings him inside information on his competition.

But one part of that information leads to an attempt to bushwhack Ted, who suffers a disabling wound to the leg. Letty has gone sweet on Ted, and she ultimately unloads the details to Cole. I’m cutting out a chunk of plot detail and getting to the crux.

The Wallace company bids on a contract to carry ore from an isolated mine in them there mountains, and Armin sends along one of his plants as one of the drivers. The shipment comprises ten loads and ten drivers, and when the Armin guy arrives at the mine he hightails it back to town on a horse, previously stashed for the purpose. Cole must take the place of the absent driver, and he is not actually a mule skinner.

The route down the mountain is treacherous, and Cole’s wagon has been sabotaged. On the steep road the brake must be applied constantly, and somebody has cut partly through the brake lever with a saw. When Cole pulls harder on the brake lanyard, the lever snaps, and there are tense moments before Cole hauls out his trusty bull whip to snag the remaining part of the lever and apply the brake.

Getting down from the mountain is only part of the hazard. Armin prepares his cadre of gunslingers to ambush and annihilate the Wallace company when the wagons arrive in town. Letty gets wise to the scheme, and she makes Armin a deal he cannot refuse. She comes behind him as he prepares to watch the shootout from his office window, and she places her pistol, now with live ammunition, at the back of his head. The moment the shooting starts she is going to pull the trigger.

But Letty has alerted Ted and Cole of the ambush, and the drivers arrive in town with their load and also with their own men hidden in one of the wagons. There is one massive shootout in the streets of Albuquerque, and the Armin gang is wiped out. After the smoke clears they find Armin slumped in his wheelchair with a hole in his head.

It’s wedding bells for two of the couples, and the movie ends happily, along with this improbable plot.

Big complaint: Amazon’s copy of this video does not play well. Inadequate rendering of the video stream results in low quality video. Most apparent is the smearing of images containing motion.

It’s interesting to compare a move with the book that was its basis. The book is Luke Short’s Dead Freight for Piute, and I obtained a copy for comparison. Nowhere in the book does the word “Albuquerque” appear. So much for realism. Of course, the book does not mention Sedona.

A practice I have observed previously involves a movie studio acquiring the rights to a book, throwing away the plot, and retaining the title. This may not be the case here. I have not read the book, but the opening pages are encouraging. The book starts with Cole and Celia on the coach to somewhere, and bandits rob Celia of her money. We can suspect there will be a close parallel between the book plot and the movie.

Most disturbing of all is the huge gunfight scene. A contingent of seasoned gunmen ambushs a wagon train as it pulls into town, and they are completely defeated by the freight men. The outcome of the battle is grotesquely lopsided. How much of that are we supposed to believe?

Lon Chaney, Jr. was the son of the more famous Lon Chaney, known as “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” Four years after this release Lon Chaney, Jr. appeared as a washed up gunfighter in High Noon with Gary Cooper.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 238 of a series

This came out in 1999, and somewhere I watched it through. Anyhow, it’s now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and I brought it up on my computer to capture some screen shots. It’s The Blair Witch Project. Details are from Wikipedia.

The big deal about the plot is the footage was supposedly found a year after the characters went missing in the Maryland outback. It’s a scary movie where everybody dies, so you know that catastrophe is always about to strike, and you sit on the edge of your chair waiting for doom.

To keep up the appearance of authenticity, the producers have left in what are the supposedly unclipped ends of the video clips. Such as this:

The problem is, many sequences have the appearance of having been clipped, removing blurry and off-subject frames, which normally appear when you pick up the camera and hit the record button before you bring the view finder up to your eye, but when it suits the whim of the editor. Here are a few more frames to illustrate. We see the recording started when the subject is not ready, and the camera is not centered.

But this sequence, showing the guy saying goodbye to his mom, seems orchestrated. We do not see the mom, nor do we hear her. No need for another actor on the payroll.

And they are on their way to oblivion.

Camera starting up, they guy is not yet ready to speak his part.

There is a story. The guys have to admit to the girl they forgot to bring the map. It is the prelude to the tragedy that is beginning to unfold.

The final scenes show the three, individually, at odds with something unseen. We watch the rambling video as the three seek out their nemesis. We hear a noise and watch the scene blur as a camera falls.

Fade to black. Of course.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 237 of a series

This one came out in 2001, and you don’t need to expect an in-depth review. It’s Evolution, and it’s currently streaming on Hulu, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. It’s a science fiction film and also a comedy. Think of it as Ghost Busters done small. You’r going to see some parallels.

As with all good sci-fi flicks, this starts with an asteroid hurtling towards the earth. Here it comes.

Meanwhile, out in the Arizona desert, a nefarious character is unloading a body from the trunk of his car. He drags it to an abandoned shed, and pours gasoline around the outside. Then he sets it afire. By now you’ve figured out this is only a dummy, and we see this is wannabe fire fighter Wayne Grey (Seann William Scott), practicing the art of rescuing a buxom blond from a burning shed out in the desert.

Wayne rescues the victim, and begins to apply mouth-to-mouth. A miracle. She is recovering. He looks to the sky. He sees the asteroid coming straight at him. He runs. Just in time. The asteroid obliterates the burning shack and flips his car into the air.

Meanwhile, back at Glen Canyon Community College, geology Professor Harry Phineas Block (Orlando Jones) is discussing her academic future with a comely student. It’s hard to miss the parallel with Bill Murray. The phone rings. They want him to go check out the meteorite.

He and biology Professor Ira Kane (David Duchovny) head out. The space rock has penetrated the ground and lodged itself inside an cave beneath. They get  samples of the gooey stuff clinging to the meteorite and take them back to the college where they observe the stuff grows and evolves, hence the title.

Back at the site for more research the two are stymied by Kayne’s nemesis from his days as an Army colonel, Brigadier General Russell Goodman (Ted Levine). Kane also meets up with Dr. Allison Reed (Julianne Moore). There’s obviously going to be some sex in this movie.

Attraction grows.

Yes, you knew it was coming. The junior college scientists figure out the stuff on the meteorite is evolving at break-neck speed, especially when exposed to heat, such as flame. The Army is aiming to eradicate the menace with Napalm. We know where this is headed.

But the scientists have figured out the chemical basis for this new life form, and they determine that selenium is the antithesis to this kind of life. Where to get the selenium? They scoop up stocks of Head and Shoulders shampoo and load up a fire engine.

As the Army applies the Napalm, and as he critter grows out of control, the intrepid scientists, plus Wayne, charge in and hose down the critter’s innards with H&S, saving the world and all mankind. Then Kane and Reed rush off screen to make whoopee.

The closing credits kick off with a salute to H&S shampoo.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 236 of a series

If you think this movie is going to be about Italy, then you’re going to need to wrap your head around a bit of culture shock. The title is Once Upon a Tim in Venice, and it’s Venice, California. Big difference. It came out last year, and you may ask yourself why it’s already streaming on Hulu (whence the screen shots), and then you’re going to say, “Oh, right. This film sucks.” Details are from Wikipedia.

Hey, the movie features Bruce Willis and John Goodman, so you may wonder where they went wrong on this. That’s going to become apparent. This is what you might get if Quentin Tarantino and the Cohen brothers took a lunch break, and the Cullen brothers happened by and found some of their loose stuff lying around, and they said to each other, “Why don’t we steal this stuff and make our own movie—something like Pulp Fiction and The Big Lebowski combined. With Willis and Goodman we’re halfway there.” And that’s my explanation of how this came about.

The story is told by John (Thomas Middleditch), an assistant to Steve Ford (Willis), a Venice, CA, private detective. In fact, Steve is the only P.I. in all of Venice. Anyhow, John has to track down the wayward sister, Nola (Jessica Gomes), of two really rough characters. As the movie opens, John has tracked Nola to where she is attending a group therapy session for sex addicts. He pretends to join the group, posing as a crazed sex fiend who is unable to pause his rambunctious (and phony) sexual encounters.

When Nola exits the session, John approaches and convinces her to come with him. He takes her to Steve’s place and leaves her there. We next see Steve working madly to extinguish Nola’s sexual fire.

Then Nola’s brutish brothers show up, and we shortly see Steve skateboarding naked along Venice streets at night. He has his pistol, and when a cop stops him for skating while nude, Steve hides the gun in the crack of his ass while he identifies himself to the friendly cop, who knows him. Maybe the funniest line in the film is when Steve retrieves his gun and remarks, “Now I know what that feels like.”

The brothers of Nola.

Channeling The Big Lebowski, Steve gets crossways with a gang lord, who steals Steve’s stuff, including his dog. That’s the dog. You need to get a good look, because the rest of the movie is going to be about getting the dog back, again channeling The Big Lebowski.

Yeah, there’s gang lord, Spyder (Jason Momoa) with the elusive dog. We’re going to see Steve negotiate a convoluted maze of schemes to get the dog, and that’s the rest of the movie.

Yes, Venice Beach. Nothing much like it.

Of course, Steve and his friend Dave (Goodman) arm up and go after the gang. Makes for lots of spray and pray.

And it all ends well.

Check out Venice Beach if you have not. For those local (San Antonio and abouts), the way to get there is to get on Interstate 10 and head west. When the freeway runs dry, get off and find a place to park. You’re at Santa Monica Pier. Follow the beach in the direction of Mexico about 300 yards and be prepared for a new world of experience. Go on Saturday (maybe Sunday, too), when the vendors and the performers set up their stalls on the sidewalk.

Walking in a winter wonderland

What you see is what you get.

We’re getting used to seeing Bruce Willis’s ass, first noticed in 12 Monkeys. I have reviewed  Acts of Violence, RED, and Fire with Fire.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 235 of a series

This came out in 1951, and I am surprised I have no memory of having seen it before. It’s Warpath, starring

There were some heavy hitters playing these roles, but it was all for bought, done in by a lame storyline. It’s streaming on Hulu, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

In a dusty town along the 19th century frontier, Vickers runs into one of the people he’s been looking for these past eight years. He kills him in a gunfight.

Barely seconds later he stops into the local tavern for a shot of rye and immediately gets into a tussle with an Army sergeant (O’Hara), whose been making lewd advances on beyond-cute Molly. He takes down the sergeant and the sergeant’s corporal sidekick and follows up by asking a few questions. The other two fellows he’s looking for are in the 7th Cavalry, and he heads out of town on the train (with Molly) to join up.

There’s a great scenic shot of the train snaking its way through the Black Hills, but it’s obvious this is a poorly constructed tabletop model.

In the Army, and under the command of Sergeant O’Hara, Vickers wins the affection of Molly, which does not sit well with his sergeant. But the confrontation is short lived, as the dance is interrupted by the call for M Company to pull out most quickly to confront some Indians who are resisting settlers poaching on their territory.

M Company finds itself out numbered and decides to make a stand on that island in the middle of the river. It turns out to be an excellent choice, such a choice that later in the movie the director uses the same setting for a different locale on the North American continent.

The troops fend off the Indian attacks with great losses, and Vickers wins sergeant stripes. He was formerly a major in the Civil War. From the cast of characters and the battles being fought, this is obviously 1876, the year George Armstrong Custer and his regiment got wiped out at Little Big Horn.

Anyhow, Vickers figures that O’Hara and Molly’s father are the two he is looking for. O’Hara deserts, and Sam Quaid lights out of town, also, knowing his time in the civilized world is running out.

Sam sells his store and takes Molly with him to join up with the wagon train Vickers’ troop is riding protection on. Again the troops are out-gunned, and this time the Indians prevail, capturing Molly, Sam, Vickers, O’Hara, and others. The Indians want to know where Custer is heading. The palefaces don’t know, so the Indians start executing prisoners, one by one, starting with the settler who started the fight by killing two people in the Indian village.

O’Hara has smuggled in a pistol, and he starts a ruckus, distracting their captors so Molly and Vickers can escape. The remaining prisoners perish.

Vickers reports to his captain, but it is not in time to save Custer from his fate.

The battle over, and Vickers has been elevated to officer status. He and Molly stand together, overlooking the valley, contemplating their future lives together.

Decent acting, but the plot is overly involved. It wanders from episode to episode and involves multiple improbabilities. Notice how Vickers and Molly are the only survivors of the wagon train.

There is much to do in this movie with the Garry Owen March, which was also a theme used in Little Big Man, also concerning the fate of the 7th Cavalry. The 7th saw action as late as the Vietnam War, where my brother served in the unit.

My favorite Edmund O’Brien film is 1984, the original film from 1955, where he played the part of Winston Smith. He was in one of the clips from White Heat used in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, previously reviewed. I need to find more Edmund O’Brien films to review. Keep watching.

I’ve reviewed a number of Forrest Tucker films, including:

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 234 of a series

This week’s bad movie is a sequel to last week’s, so I’m not going to recap the plot. Suffice it to say it’s the same story.

  • The shark attacks.
  • People are unaware at first.
  • People become aware after several have been eaten.
  • There is a plot to kill the shark.
  • Human fallibility wins out, and others get eaten.
  • The shark is killed.

It’s Jaws 3 from 1983, starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. There are others listed, but Quaid an Gossett are the only two having something approaching stardom. This is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

And, there’s water. There’s always water in theses shark movies, because you need sharks, which live in water, and you need bikini-clad damsels, who sometimes go in the water. We see a newly inaugurated water park, which I presume is in Florida, and they are putting on a great show featuring water skiers building human pyramids.

Danger lurks. Cue that John Williams score.

Gossett is Calvin Bouchard, in charge of the operation. Of course he’s concerned about profits, because all these shark movies are about profits before public safety. He watches the water. For what reason is never explained, because he never spots anything.

But somebody does spot the shark trolling the water beauties, and there is a mad scramble to get everybody out of the water. Bad business for a water park.

Quaid is Mike Brody and John Putch is his brother Sean, survivors of the shark attack in the previous movie.

The water park features an “enclosed” lagoon. I put “enclosed” in quotes, because the shark penetrates the enclosure and begins to pick off victims, starting with a luckless diver sent down to repair the protective gate in the middle of the night, all alone. Reality check. This appears to be something professional divers never do.

The park also features an underwater section, essentially a tunnel (tube) laid along the bottom of the lagoon and featuring large windows that allow visitors to view nature up close. This works fine until the shark plows into the tube wall, starting a leak, causing the safety doors to close, trapping a number of visitors as water rises chest high.

Yes, they do repair the leak, and, yes, the trapped visitors are freed, but the shark is not finished. As Sean and his true love (Bess Armstrong as Kathryn “Kay” Morgan) gather in the control room to watch, the shark attacks the viewing window. The control room is under water in the lagoon. The window caves in, water plus shark enter the control room, the shark eats. Only Sean and Bess survive.

This is not one of Quaid’s best performances. Neither is it Gossett’s. The remainder of the cast appear straight out of summer stock. The previous year Gossett was Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman, for which he picked up an Oscar. I first caught Quaid in Breaking Away,, a film about bicycle racing and coming of age. I continually hunt for a copy to review. The same year this came out he was astronaut Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff.

There is a glaring technical glitch in the plot with the underwater viewing tunnel. In the movie it is depicted as having emergency doors that seal off sections in case of flooding. Absolutely wrong. No engineer would ever sign off on such a thing for reasons demonstrated in the story. The world has multitudes of underwater tunnels, and none have provision for sealing people inside. The writers created this device to add suspense and also to chew up some celluloid, allowing the movie to be stretched to 99 minutes, which is mercifully short.

Oh, Jesus! There is yet another sequel. It’s Jaws: The Revenge, and there will be a review if I can lay my fingers on a copy and if $50,000 in unmarked bills is not left on my front doorstep beforehand. In the meantime, please enjoy Sharknado. And yes, you are welcome.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 233 of a series

The plot is so well-stitched, earning this one its place as BMotW. From 1978, it’s Jaws 2, with Roy Scheider reprising his role as as Police Chief Martin Brody of the friendly resort of Amity Island. It follows by three years the original shark movie, based on a book by Peter Benchley. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. If you saw the original, you know the plot.

Two divers discover the sunken fishing boat from the earlier movie. So does yet another great white shark, who eats both, but only after one of them gets some photos.

When the divers go missing the chief begins to resurrect his old suspicions. Next we see two women on a water ski outing. One is driving the boat. The shark stalks the skier, and while the driver is not looking the shark takes the bait. When the driver sees what’s going on she panics, and, attempting to counter the shark, she explodes a gasoline can on the boat. No live witnesses.

Suspicions throbbing, the chief constructs some cyanide-tipped bullets for his revolver. They never get used in the movie.

Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), left over from the first movie, is showing potential investors around the community. A major annoyance is Brody, embarrassing them all by sitting in his shark observation tower while tourists enjoy the beach, unaware. This reprises the original theme. A concerned and vigilant chief of police pitted against a town council that is more concerned about scaring away tourists and investors.

When the photos taken by the deceased divers are recovered, the town council refuses to believe they show a shark. They act to rid themselves of this troublesome priest, and Brody is out of a job. At this point the plot devolves into teenagers (plus one juvenile) putting themselves into harm’s way as a festive rollick on the water begins. Also, under the water.

The shark attacks the party crowd out of sight of land, and the remaining 30+ minutes of the film is consumed by screaming teenagers, fighting off the shark, falling out of boats, getting eaten, desperately seeking help. A harbor patrol helicopter lands to rescue them, but the shark attacks and sinks the helicopter.

Of course, Brody sails to the rescue. The final shark attack comes as the group is about to be rescued at Cable Junction, a small spit of rock that houses power and communications hookups. Brody accidentally pulls up a power cable with the anchor of the police boat, but he feeds it to the shark.

The shark takes the bait, and we watch a glorious minute of the shark being fried.

And that’s the end of the movie. We only imagine Brody will get his job back. We do see the mayor eating a small serving of crow when others report the shark attack. We know from history this meal will not stick, because there is going to be a sequel, and we need somebody to play the doubter against all evidence that a shark is on the prowl.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 231 of a series

It doesn’t take long to find a bad movie. Go back to 1933, and there is a bunch. This is The Kennel Murder Case, with William Powell as Philo Vance. This is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

The movie gets it title from the opening scene, a dog show, at which Philo’s Scottish terrier is eliminated before the final round. Then Philo catches an ocean liner to Europe.

I selected this shot to show how Powell looked in the old days.

Another person with a dog in the show was Archer Coe (Robert Barrat). He’s a generally bad fellow, and a competitor’s dog ends up dead in an alley. The next morning the butler brings Coe’s breakfast up to him, but the door is locked, and there is no answer. Peering through the keyhole, the butler spies the dead Mr. Coe, sitting in a chair.

Philo learns of this and interrupts his trip, getting off the ship before it sails and coming to investigate what turns out to be a murder. The original assumption was that Coe shot himself in the head inside a locked room. But the coroner discovers a nasty blow to the head and also a knife wound in the back. Philo figures out how the killer was able to lock the inside lock from the outside. The trick involves some fishing line that is ultimately pulled through the keyhole without leaving a trace.

But there were two murders. Archer’s brother Brisbane (Frank Conroy) was the first to strike, tracing back from his presumed train trip to Chicago to do the crime. But he never made it out of the house. The second killer finished the job and then killed Brisbane, leaving the body in a closet. Inside another closet is another dog, a Doberman, discovered by Philo’s dog. This dog was apparently struck by the killer, but he recovers.

Brought back to the scene of the crime, the Doberman is unleashed, and he goes straight for the sought after killer. The movie allows the Doberman to chew for mostly a minute before others come to the rescue.

On top of that, the print is in really bad shape. And this is the digitally remastered version. Amazon Prime has four copies available for viewing to Prime customers, and another is for sale. Hopefully it’s in better shape.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 231 of a series

I haven’t figured out why this one wasn’t BMotW years ago, but here it is now, from 1987, The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s currently streaming on Hulu, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. There is not much to the plot, but here is a synopsis.

Arnold is police helicopter pilot Ben Richards in a dystopic future world where brutal government oppression keeps things straight, almost. Ben refuses to fire on unarmed civilians who are participating in a food riot, and he becomes an unperson, working in a slave labor camp, where prisoners die of starvation and rough treatment regularly.

But Ben engineers a break. The prisoners know what’s really going on, and they’re going to take their country back. Here he goes mano-a-mano and defeats a prison guard.

In the world outside, gladiator games keep the population distracted. One such game is The Running Man, which involves professional stalkers hunting down and exterminating prisoners turned loose inside a human game preserve. The master stalker is Captain Freedom, played by Jesse Ventura, before he became governor of Minnesota.

The Running Man is a TV game show, run by Damon Killian, played by Richard Dawson. Here he watches video of Ben’s prison escape and gets the idea of capturing him and putting him into the game.

Ben figures he needs to get out of the country, but he has no travel pass. He abducts somebody who has one, Amber Mendez (María Conchita Alonso), who looks really sharp in her workout suit when Ben walks up and places his hand over her mouth.

But at the airport Amber blows his cover, and Ben is captured. He and two other recaptured prisoners are put into the game, dressed in slick fugitive suites and harassed by goons on motorcycle until they start running down long, dark tunnels.

I will not elaborate further. Amber gets wise to the scheme when she views the actual footage of Ben’s rebellion, but she gets scooped up and thrown into the game with Ben and the others. The two other escapees die in the game as Ben and Amber defeat a series of stalkers sent after them, finishing up with Captain Freedom.

The crowd turns against the phony game, and Ben captures Damon. He places Damon in the fugitive sled, and sends the sled down a long chute and into the air, where it scores a bull’s eye on a notorious billboard.

And Ben and Amber get ready to make whoopee as the crows cheers them. And that’s the end of the movie.

Not so amazing, the film made $38 million in the U.S. on a budget of $27 million. It has since become a kind of cult classic, and last week I talked to an otherwise intelligent person show acknowledged he has viewed the film multiple times. Once turned out to be enough for me.

That same year, Jesse and Arnold appeared together in Predator, apparently Jesse’s first film. I have previously reviewed Arnold in Kindergarten Cop, one of his best roles. We have also seen Commando and The 6th Day.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 230 of a series

This has to be just about Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s worst move. Then, I never saw any of the Conan films. This is End of Days, and it came out in 1999, at the appropriate time for such a movie. Recall that as the 20th century closed down all kinds of doom was projected, not counting four-digit date software issues. The deal was 2000 was supposed to be the 2000th anniversary of Jesus of Nazareth (born in the year -4). 2000 was supposed to be the beginning of the new millennium, and it was, except the new millennium started at the end of 2000, not the first of January 2000. Anyhow, this is about the religious notion of end of days, and there is more on this topic than you care to hear. The movie is currently streaming on Hulu, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

When the movie opens we see a priest (or a monk) at the Vatican pulling out cannisters of ancient scrolls. He finds the one he is looking for.

He takes the document to the Holy Father with startling news. The girl that was prophesied is about to be born. It’s 1979, twenty years prior to 1999, and the girl is going to grow up to bear the child of the Prince of Darkness. Many churchmen declare the girl must be killed to forestall this prophecy. The Pope decides (since when?) it would be immoral to sacrifice an innocent. The girl must be protected.

It’s a few days before New Year’s Eve in 1999, and a Nameless Banker (Gabriel Byrne) is having dinner at a swanky Manhattan eatery, along with a business acquaintance and a most charming woman. He gets up and goes to the men’s room. While he is inside relieving himself, a disturbance in the fabric of time and space comes down the street and enters the restaurant. It follows the banker into the men’s room and engulfs him. The banker becomes the host of the Prince of Darkness.

The man exits the restroom, strides to his table, kisses the woman passionately, and goes outside. As he strolls away the restaurant is demolished in a fiery explosion.

Meanwhile, super cop Jericho Cane (Arnold) and his partner capture a crook. Here is Arnold doing his True Lies stuff, snagging the bad dude in mid-air while dangling from a cable attached to a helicopter overhead.

The girl is born, and now she is 20 and most likely still a virgin. Her parents are dead, and she is being raised by a mysterious woman, soon to be revealed as working for the Holy See. The church is dedicated to protecting the girl, but at the same time to prevent her being impregnated by the Dark Prince. The impregnation must occur between 13:00 p.m. and midnight on 31 December 1999. The reason for this is never adequately explained.

Here young and virginal Christine York (Robin Tunney) rides a subway train, confronted by an apparition. It’s a manifestation of the dark side, and Christine has been plagued with this kind of thing for years. From outward appearances she is schizophrenic.

Back at her apartment some men break in with the intent to kill Christine. But first they must administrate the last rites. These are people from the church, and their intent is to keep Satan from humping her and getting her pregnant.

But Cane and his partner, following up on a related case, happen by, and Christine is saved. Cane becomes interested in Christine.

And the movie plot is off and running as Cane must prevent the girl from getting knocked up during the critical hour, and the rest is cinema FX, packed with scenes such as this one of a subway car crashing in a tunnel.

Come the critical hour, and Cane destroys the banker, but the manifestation invades his body, and he prepares to impregnate Christine, by force, on a church altar.

By sure will power Cane overcomes the dark force and tells Christine to run. It is seconds before the ball drops in Times Square. The church is half wrecked, and Cane impales himself upon the sword of a fallen statue. This is most gruesome.

The ball drops, and the magic hour expires for another 1000 years.

Cane has given all and has atoned for his years of denial of the power of faith. It’s a tale for the ages.

Yes, and that is all the movie has going for it. Based on a legend concocted by people unknown at a time unknown and having no basis in fact or scripture. It is a bad movie.

As I watch through this I was struck by the many ways the prophecy could have been forestalled. Cane could have screwed the girl and gotten her pregnant. She could have gone on the pill (except the church would object).

Also, this Prince of Darkness is such an omnipotent being, how come he has to go through all theis rigmarole to impregnate the girl, and how come he is unable to use his vast powers to defeat some bumbling cops? If this shows the limitations of the Prince of Darkness, why are we so concerned that he could possibly dominate the world.

And finally, this planet is one of possibly billions of habitable worlds in the universe, and it just happens to be the center of all this attention? Tell me more.

My favorite Arnold film tends to be Kindergarten Cop, where Arnold does comedy well. The Terminator is good, also, but there he’s a stand-in for  machine and not a real person. True Lies was another comedic tough guy role for Arnold. I need to review Total Recall.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 229 of a series

The moment I started watching I realized I had seen this movie before, and I had. It came out in 1953 under the same title, mostly the same characters, and much the same plot. It’s Invaders from Mars, released in 1986. I reviewed the 1953 version in October, so I’m not going to go through the plot again. I will just post a few screen shots from Amazon Prime Video, where this is now streaming, and I will also post corresponding shots from the previous review. You will be impressed with how Hollywood producers can economize by recycling old material, apparently including sets. This is a GolanGlobus production, so you have an idea what to expect. Details are from Wikipedia.

Yes, movie titles improved in 33 years.

The Gardner (used to be MacLean) family beds down for the night after viewing a meteor shower. George (Timothy Bottoms) is a scientist working at a nearby military base. David (Hunter Carson) is a budding scientist. Laraine Newman plays Ellen Gardner.

But David looks out his window and sees a spacecraft land. That rail fence looks much like the one in the 1953 movie.

He tells his parents about it, and the next morning George goes out to Copper Hill to investigate. He returns much strange.

From 1953

Later that day George does not return from work. The police are called. They go out to  investigate. They return much strange.

From 1953

David notices that people who have become laconic, almost catatonic, have something in the backs of their necks. At school the mean teacher Mrs. McKeltch (Louise Fletcher) also eats live frogs. This is different from 1953.

The school nurse, Linda Magnuson (Karen Black) intervenes when David tells her his remarkable story.

In 1953 she was Dr. Blake.

Two army types sent to investigate disappear into  the sand. They return much strange.

 

David gets the attention of General Climet Wilson (James Karen).

 

When the two returnees attempt to kill the general, it is obvious that something is up.

The general sets the might of the United States Military into motion.

From 1953

They confront the invaders in their cave. Here a naive scientist figures to negotiate. They are horrible. They vaporize him.

From 1953

Here is the scene where the invaders capture Linda and prepare to insert a device into the back of her neck.

This is the iconic picture from 1953, where the horrid creatures subject the helpless and beautiful woman to their evil scheme.

In 1953 it was the movie poster.

The soldiers fight it out in the cave with the invaders and plant explosive charges. When they try to escape they see the exit has been sealed. David figures how to use one of the invaders’ weapons to blast open the exit.

Then everybody is running. The general and the soldiers run. Linda runs. David runs, pursued by his parents, who are under mind control from the invaders.

The explosives go off, and David wakes up from is dream.

From 1953

After being reassured by his parents, David tries to go back to sleep, but the storm again awakens him. He looks out his window. He see a spacecraft landing on Copper Hill.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 228 of a series

I was trying to figure out how this came to be, and I was thinking some Hollywood types were sitting around brainstorming ideas. Somebody probably said, “Let’s do a spoof movie.” And somebody else said, “That’s been done before,” but the first guy said, “No, I mean a spoof of a spoof,” and the second guy said, “Like what?” Then the first guy said, “Take National Lampoon’s Vacation, for example,” and the second guy said, “That’s ridiculous. That turkey is not going to come out until 1983. That’s nine years from now.” But the first guy was persistent, and he said, “I mean, suppose there was a spoof of a western movie.” The second guy said, “So?,” and the first guy said, “Let’s assume there was such a movie, so let’s make a spoof of that movie.” And the second guy said, “That’s never going to work. But, what the hey! We’ve got spare cash, and I know some funny guys looking for work right now. So what are we going to call it?”

And the first guy responded, “Let’s call it Blazing Saddles.” And the second guy said, “Ugh, that’s God awful. Just do it, and let me know when it’s done.”

So, here it is, currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video (whence the screen shots) and featuring

Details are from Wikipedia.

Even the title is a spoof. “Blazing Six Guns.” Get it? Anyhow, the movie gets rolling into PC territory immediately. There’s a gang laying a railroad line out in the hot sun, and the crew comprises Chinese and Negroes mostly, and foreman Taggart uses language like “chink” and “nigger” when referring to them. Watch this review get flagged.

So Taggart needs to check for quicksand, and he directs Bart and another to take a hand cart into the suspicious area, where they promptly sink into the quicksand. Taggart thinks it’s a big joke, and he laughs while Bart comes up from behind and whacks him on  the head with a shovel.

So the rail line needs to be routed through a town called Rock Ridge. But first the evil Gov. William J. Le Petomane and attorney general Hedley Lamarr need to exterminate all living residents of the town, who happen to be white people named Johnson. We know that the governor’s sweet assistant Lili von Shtupp, the “Teutonic Titwillow” is going to be able to apply her obvious talents.

Meanwhile, outside the window, a public hanging is in progress. and Bart is to be one of the hangees, having been summarily convicted of bashing a white guy over the head with a shovel. The evil ones decide their first tactic is to run in a ringer sheriff to rile the citizens of Rock Ridge, making them vulnerable when the governor’s gang of cutthroats comes riding down on them.

So they pull Bart out of the punch line and pin a star on him. He’s thankful.

The Johnsons of Rock Ridge are thankful they are getting a new sheriff to replace the one that was just killed, and there is a big celebration in progress with a band playing. Somebody posted on a building with a spy glass watches for Sheriff Bart’s arrival, and at last he spots him riding across the desert. He is dumb struck at what he sees. He calls down to the crowd that he sees the sheriff coming, but he’s a n…er. A blast from the band drowns out the first syllable, and it’s interpreted as “He’s near.”

Then Sheriff Bart comes riding down the street, and all festivities stop. This movie is going to be a long spoof about racism in the Old West.

Not feeling very welcome, Sheriff Bart settles himself into the jail, where he plays chess with the Waco Kid. The kid has given up gunfighting and turned to drink instead. But he’s still blazing fast. He demonstrates by snatching the black queen off the board without Sheriff Bart even seeing his hands move.

Things are not turning out the way the evil officials planned, so the governor runs in  Lili von Shtupp to sap some of the sheriff’s vitality. It works the other way, as Lili acquires a fondness for black sausage.

But the evil band is coming to Rock Ridge to wipe out all the Johnsons, having recruited from all the evil tribes of the world. Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid figure they need to employ wit to defeat them, and they slow the invading horde by placing a toll booth along the invasion route.

The main line of defense is a fake town, constructed overnight by recruits from the railroad gang. The evil gang comes riding in to confront cardboard citizens strolling down the street between false front buildings.

The Waco Kid uses his skill with a pistol to set off explosive charges in the town to wipe out the invaders, and the town is saved.

Except, that the melee is now out of control, and as the camera pans back we see the action is occurring in the Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank, California. The chaos spreads beyond of the western set and into the set of an elaborate stage show.

And it goes downhill from there.

This is a silly movie, propelled by a lot of lame humor based on racial stereotypes, sight gags, and even flatulism, introducing the famous campfire scene. Whoopee!

This may have been the high point of Cleavon Little’s career. He died of cancer in  1992.

Slim Pickens turns in a classic performance, having already been a standout in Dr. Strangelove and The Getaway. where he had a bit role.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 227 of a series

I didn’t need to  dig into the Amazon Prime Video archives for this one. It’s a new release. From Wikipedia:

Acts of Violence is a 2018 action film starring Bruce Willis, written by Nicolas Aaron Mezzanatto, and directed by Brett Donowho.

Filming began in Cleveland, Ohio in March 2017.

With a running time of 86 minutes, it was released in a limited theatrical engagement as well as on video-on-demand by Lionsgate Premiere on January 12, 2018.

Cast

Screen shots are from Amazon Prime Video. Here’s the plot.

Deklan MacGregor is a war veteran suffering mental issues. He can’t get help from the V.A. Here he is consulting with a therapist, right before he erupts and storms out.

Meanwhile, Detective James Avery teams up with Detective Brooke Baker (n the right) as they prepare to raid a street drug distributor.

The raid goes off much as planned, except the body of a young woman is found on a bed in this den of inequity. A GPS tracker has been implanted in her wrist. Also (we learn later) the drugs involved are a cut of carfentanyl, used to tranquilize large animals, such as elephants and rhinoceroses. Also, as the raid draws to a close, Detective Avery chases the operation’s honcho to the roof of the building, where there is a struggle for survival. The honcho goes over the edge and clings by his fingers. Avery tells him goodbye and watches him fall. The druggies are members of a gang headed by Max Livington. He’s a really bad dude who uses threats of violence and also murder to keep his empire in line. As a side operation, Max runs a string of sex slaves.

Back at the office Avery winds down in the manner of all hard-bitten police detectives. He empties the bottle into his coffee mug.

Meanwhile, Deklan is celebrating the impending marriage of his brother Roman to a sweet girl named Mia.

They go to separate bachelor and bachelorette parties, and while the women are celebrating Mia is confronted by one of Max’s gang. She rebuffs him and goes outside to phone Roman. A white van rolls by, and the guys working for Max scoop her up and drive off into  the night. This is not looking good.

When the brothers get an inkling that something is wrong, they spring into  action and track down Mia’s cell phone to a gang house. Deklan and Brandon are ex-military, and they are carrying their sidearms. They phone for the police, but they don’t wait. They assault the house and rescue some sex slaves. Mia is not there. They are in trouble with the police for their extra-legal action, and Deklan has a conference with Avery. The outlook is not good. Mia’s information will be entered into a database, and the attempt to locate her will be included in ongoing operations to track down all such women.

Meanwhile, Mia is having a rough time. The scenario is a direct appeal to pathos. Beautiful, helpless woman in a short cocktail dress is bound and held prisoner by a ruthless sex slave gang. Our heart goes out.

But Mia is not all that helpless. She breaks free from her bonds and gets the attention of the two who scooped her up. The two are in the midst of packaging drugs for distribution, and when they go to check out the commotion she is causing, she attacks them and runs out the door, just in time to be snagged by Max and his sidekick. Max is not pleased his two underlings have been so foolish as to violate his instructions by bringing a sex slave prospect to the drug center. He decides to have the sidekick shoot these two delinquents. Then he changes his mind. He will have the lovely Mia do it. He places the pistol in Mia’s hand and pulls the trigger, dispatching one of the pair, leaving the other with a reminder to not step out of line again.

The brothers decide the police are no help, so they arm up and prepare to take down Max’s gang on their own.

They start by ambushing four of the gang, killing three and taking the fourth prisoner. They intimidate the live one and get him to cough up Max’s full name and the location where they are holding Mia.

They raid the place, killing a number of the drug traffickers. But Mia has escaped and is fleeing across a rail yard. Again a scene of intense pathos. She hitches a ride with an elderly motorist, but the GPS tracker, by now implanted in her wrist, gives away their position, and Max’s men track them down and kill the driver, taking Mia prisoner and preparing to ship her off to Las Vegas, along with the rest of Max’s product, which is what he calls his sex slaves.

Max has previously cut a deal with the powers. They will let him slide in return for rolling on his mob. This latest bit by the vets appears to Max to be unfair play, and he orders retribution on any and all who have been messing with his operation.

The brothers, released by Avery, are given 24 hours to finish their business with Max before the police haul them in for disturbing the peace. They assault Max’s preparations to relocate, using sniper fire to suppress resistance while two of the brothers move in close with automatic weapons. They rescue Mia, but Max retaliates. When the brothers return to Brandon’s house, the gang has already come and gone. They have ransacked the house leaving Brandon’s wife Jessa dead.

In mourning, Mia and the brothers wait for the police to come. Max and his gang come first, headlights shining in through the window. A hail of automatic weapon fire disrupts the peace, and the brothers scramble to defend the house. They prevail in the end, with Mia contributing some deadly fire power. But Brandon is now dead, and Max has escaped, wounded. The police arrive and clean up  the mess, hauling the brothers off.

In true Dirty Harry manner, Detective Avery slams his badge down on his boss’s desk and walks out. He goes to where Max is trying to recoup his shattered empire, and he does not waste words. He stitches Max with a few rounds from  his sidearm.

Later we see the surviving brothers and Mia enjoying a gathering in the back yard with Mia and Roman’s new baby.

Yes, this is the cookbook vigilante action film, possibly traceable back to  Billy Jack. There is also a whiff of Dirty Harry and Death Wish. Combat veteran, psychically damaged, comes home after dealing with the bad guys only to discover the bad buys are also back home. And the cops, hands tied by protocol and bureaucracy, are woefully ineffectual. It’s time for the real action heroes to suit up and set matters right. Little is believable.

The police are going to let Max walk in return for rolling on his organization? It’s something that exists in the minds of imaginative screen  writers. The military vets are going to use their combat experience to take down a street gang in a frontal assault? The supposedly conflict-wise warriors go off to battle without first protecting the home front? Following one home defeat, the murder of Jessa MacGregor, they sit around and wait for the inevitable retaliation from Max’s gang. Max, cool street fighter that he is, figures the best way to take on a trio of combatants is to stand at the curbside and spray the house with automatic weapons fire. Despite having the advantage of firepower, numbers, and initially surprise, Max’s hardened fighters are defeated utterly, all killed, except Max. Again, according to the movie script cookbook, the sole survivors are the two top antagonists. Avery tracks Max down for a final duel, which in this case is a variation on Dirty Harry. Max is unarmed, but that counts for nothing, and there is no taunting, and there is no final grapple for supremacy, Avery executes Max with an absence of drama. What a surprise ending!

Bruce Willis previously appeared in RED, since reviewed. I have also reviewed Fire with Fire. I have a hankering to review some of the Die Hard movies, and I will if they ever pop up on Amazon or Hulu.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 226 of a series

This one’s old enough to drink. It’s Event Horizon, from 1997. A little explanation.

I took physics in college, and I had to do a number of term papers. One was my explanation of an event horizon. It’s this: if two events occur far enough apart in space-time, then one can have no influence on the other. That almost fits into the theme of this movie, only the title derives from Event Horizon, a space craft. To summarize the plot it’s best to think of Shakespeare’s The Tempest brought forward into the 21st century.

I watched a live staging of the play decades ago, and a very bad production is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. I tried watching it through but dozed off a couple of times. Anyhow, the Shakespeare plot involves a sorcerer who uses his magic to delude his enemies into believing they are stranded on an island. Thus empowered, the sorcerer achieves his ultimate goal. The movie plot has much the same elements.

This is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) is the designer of Event Horizon, He dreams he is aboard a derelict Event Horizon, all aboard are dead, and debris and bodies float about, following random air currents. He wakens, and he is aboard a rescue vessel named Lewis and Clark. He touches photos of his late wife.

Event Horizon was a secret experimental craft designed to achieve superluminal travel. It disappeared years previously on its initial trip to Proxima Centauri, the star nearest the sun. Event Horizon has now reappeared in orbit around Neptune, and the crew of Lewis and Clark is about to go there and figure out what  happened. They enter “grav tanks” to protect themselves during their ship’s violent trip to Neptune.

A less appropriate crew of a critical mission is hard to imagine. They lack the cohesion and stability we have come to expect from modern astronauts, various ones having conflicts that eventually doom their performance on the mission. The remainder of the crew is:

They reach Event Horizon and make entry. The amazing gravity drive is revealed. It accomplishes much the same as the device in Contact, invoking similar concentric rotating rings.

Things begin to go badly. The gravity drive activates, and Justin is partially sucked into the drive portal. He comes free heavily damaged and later attempts suicide by exiting an air lock.

Event Horizon had entered an alien universe and returned a being in its on right. Like the sorcerer of The Tempest, it plays on the minds of the crew with the aim to condemn them to self-destruction. One by one members of the rescue crew encounter apparitions that drive them to their doom. Peters sees a vision of her son, and she follows it through the doomed ship until she falls to her death. So much for the benefits of artificial gravity.

Skipping over the remaining plot details, only three of the rescue party survive. They enter a section of Event Horizon that serves as an escape capsule, and Miller severs it from the remainder of the craft by detonating explosive charges, sacrificing himself in the process. Days later a rescue party arrives to find the three survivors in grav-tanks. Rescuers release Lieutenant Starck and the other two, including Justin, from the grav-tanks.

This could have been a great techno thriller, but I’m guessing the producers had Shakespeare more in mind. Probes into the characters’ psyches introduce distraction from could have been an interesting tale of man-machine conflict.

Neil also appeared in The Hunt for Red October, previously reviewed, and also The Piano and Jurassic Park, both in 1993.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 225 of a series

People who follow this series possibly will not believe it, but I never heard of it before. Here it is. In Great Britain there was a drama series based on the character of Paul Temple, a crime fiction writer who lends a hand solving actual crimes. Starting in 1938 a series based on the character ran on British radio, and ultimately there were four movie adaptations. This was the first, Calling Paul Temple, with John Bentley in the title role. This came out in 1948, 70 years ago, and it is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from  Wikipedia.

The movie runs for 90 minutes, and I watched it through once. That said, I found the plot intertwined enough to fuzz my diminishing wit, so I will fall back to sketching the plot and explaining what I was able to discern.

The opening scene you can tell is on a train, because everything is shaking  and swaying back and forth, and there is train noise. It’s the night express from London to Canterbury, and the conductor is going around punching tickets. When he gets to one compartment the occupant a comely and apparently well heeled blonde woman is dead. Further examination reveals she has been knifed. When the shade to the compartment is pulled down, the word “REX” is revealed written on the inside. This is the third of the Rex murders, and police are baffled.

There is more to come. We can tell this production spares no expense by the lavish set that opens scene two. It’s a swank night club, and patrons are sitting around at tables enjoying sumptuous meals while the floor show features a smashing blond chanteuse, Norma Rice (Celia Lipton) with a lovely voice delivering forth an absolutely vacuous number that goes on and on, chewing up celluloid by the yard.

Much as she is wonderful to look at, we are glad when the song is over, and she retires to prepare for her next number. At a table we see Paul Temple and his gorgeous wife (Dinah Sheridan) named, incongruously, “Steve.” They are joined by Sir Graham Forbes (Jack Raine), apparently with Scotland Yard. He wants to discuss the Rex murders.

He could not have come to a more auspicious place for the discussion, because immediately after her opening number, Norma goes to her dressing room to change. While there she pens a note to Sir Graham, asking him to come to see after her second number. She says she may be able to help him with the Rex murders.

Her dresser takes the message and heads for the club floor, and in the corridor she encounters a woman dressed in a gray suit going  the other way. The woman enters Norma’s dressing room.

Shortly, Norma makes an entrance and sings another number, accompanied by a bevy of charming womanhood. At one point in her song she is near the top of those stairs, seen in the shot above, when she collapses and falls down the stairs. Of course she dies. Of course she has been poisoned.

Paul and Steve accompany Sir Graham go up to Norma’s room to look for clues. The dresser tells about the woman in gray but can give no additional details. Steve strikes something with the toe of her shoe, and it’s a unique lipstick. Not thinking it might be a clue, she filches it for herself, and it is never revealed again in the movie, although there are subsequent references to this particular cosmetic brand from Egypt.

And now I’m going to cut out a lot of stuff. Paul scans the news, which is about the murders and the “girl in grey.” Also, on a road trip to Canterbury, Paul and Steve get ambushed by a man who is waiting alongside the road in a classic touring car and gets off four shots at them, sending their roadster into the bushes. They catch a lorry back to London.

The touring car traces back to one Dr. Kohima (Abraham Sofaer). It was his car alongside the lonely English road, but he was not driving, and neither was his chauffeur, who was on vacation in  Ireland. Somebody “borrowed” the car and then returned it. The mystery deepens.

Paul decoys Dr. Kohima out of the room on the premise of phoning about his car while Paul rifles the doctor’s files. He discovers the names of murdered women among the doctor’s patients. This is suspicious. Also, Dr. Kohima is Egyptian.

It deepens further when Dr. Kohima’s assistant, Mrs. Trevellyan (Margaretta Scott), pulls Paul aside and confides. She cannot talk at the office. She must meet him at her place after work. She gives Paul the address and the time to meet, 6:30.

Well Paul and Steve show up at the appointed time, only to find the door ajar and Mrs. Trevellyan gone. The clock on the mantle displays 6:15, and they shortly discover it is not running. They find a scrap of paper with four names produced by a typewriter in all caps: Mary Anderson, Lady Hackwill, Agatha Ladycross, and May Haddington. In script at the bottom is “Sent. B.T.” Steve holds up a desk pad to a mirror to read another cryptic message. Then they discover the ticking sound they hear is not the clock, but it is a time bomb. Steve rips the explosive charge loose and tosses it out the window, whereupon it goes off with a deafening roar. The timing mechanism is left intact for future examination.

It later turns out, as Mrs. Trevellyan explains, that she was lured out of her flat by a hoax phone call.

Skipping over some more detail, the woman in gray comes to  Paul’s flat while he and Steve are at lunch, and she sends the houseboy (Shaym Bahadur as Rikki) to  fetch Paul. After Rikki leaves, the woman starts to  pen a note to Paul. The note reads:

Mr. Temple,

In case anything should happen to prevent me seeing you, this is to tell you that REX is

She never gets to finish the note. The doorbell rings about that time, and she goes to the door.

Whoever was at the door shoots and kills the woman in gray, who then falls dead on the floor inside.

Skipping over more detail.

The whole deal is a blackmail plot. Somebody has snooped on Dr. Koshima’s files and is using information on patients to extort money. One guess is that some victims are being murdered to put the scare into the others. Then Paul’s friend Edward Lathom (Alan Wheatley) tells Paul that he is being blackmailed, as well. He cannot reveal his guilty secret, and he intends to pay off. He has been  instructed to leave the money in the Old Friar’s Monastery in Canterbury.

Paul and Steve arrange to be there when the blackmailer comes to collect. The collection agent turns out to be Mrs. Trevellyan.

Winding this down, Paul and Steve get lured back to the monastery, and are captured by a villain I was unable to identify but who binds them to a pillar and opens a sluice from the river to flood the chamber, sentencing them to a slow death. Along come reinforcements, and they are rescued.

Which brings it all to a head. The usual suspects gather in Dr. Kohima’s office to settle matters. Mrs. Trevellyan, who has been in a hypnotic trance induced by the doctor is now brought around. She had been blackmailed into divulging Kohima’s files. She is ready to reveal the name of the blackmailer. In the darkened room a shot rings out. She is wounded, and the perpetrator makes his escape.

It’s Edward Lathom. But the outer door is locked, and he can’t get out.

Neither can the others escape the inner office, for that door locked automatically, as well. Paul scales a drain pipe and corners Lathom in an upper floor. They struggle over the gun. A shot rings out. Lathom appears at the top of the stairs with the gun. Paul jumps him from behind and subdues him on the stairs. The murder mystery is resolved.

It’s a convoluted plot, and I left a lot out. A bunch of it is contrived. In multiple instances (3) we have victims about to reveal what they know, only to be cut short at the last moment. Mrs. Trevellyan survives. The woman in gray is murdered in Paul’s apartment and the next scene shows the crime mess all cleaned up and no sign of police snooping about looking for clues. Somebody ambushes Paul and Steve on the road to Canterbury, using Dr. Kohima’s car, which leads Paul and the police back to Kohima and the undoing  of the blackmailer.

Production quality is at or above par for the period, vis the elaborate nightclub set swarming with extras. Acting is dead on, and director Maclean Rogers keeps the action and the scenes visual and dynamic. I imagine Francis Durbridge‘s original plot exhibited more relevance, which was then subverted for the exigencies of making the movie.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

This seems to be the penultimate of The Falcon franchise, from 1948. About time. It’s Appointment With Murder, featuring John Calvert as Michael Waring, The Falcon. This time the notorious adventurer is working for an insurance company interested in recovering from an $80,000 loss. It runs for 66 minutes, but the plot is unnecessarily intertwined.

The opening shot shows two pairs of shoes, one pair of which is worth noting. I never figured out why women wear these things.

Anyhow, the one in the steeple-jack heels is Lorraine W. Brinckley (Catherine Craig), and she is finishing her walk with shady art dealer Norton Benedict, played by Jack Reitzen. Lorraine is proprietor of Brinckley Art Gallery, and the two examine a valuable painting by Italian artist Andrea Mantegna. Benedict has sold it to Lorraine, and she hands him an envelop with cash. They examine the painting, which appears to be uncatalogued and also wanting a mate, which object is next on  her list to acquire.

Switch to Milan, where The Falcon is also after the Mantegna. He deals with painter and art forger Giuseppe Donatti (Peter Brocco), who claims to  have painted the reproduction he is trying to sell. Donatti’s shady partner, Martin Minecci (Ben Welden), looks on.

Only, Minecci turns up murdered, and The Falcon returns to America with the painting. After an adventure at customs in New York, he journeys on to Los Angeles, where he barges in on Lorraine, seeking to get the two Mantegna’s together for the insurance company.

The plot becomes too involved. The Falcon takes his painting along with Lorraine’s, and he deposits the pair at a baggage check in the train station. He tears the claim tickets in half, and hands Lorraine half the pair. That way the two of them will need to stick together as they seek to find a buyer for the two Mantegnas. The reason for this is not clear. But Lorraine conspires with Benedict to obtain both paintings.

Somebody, apparently Benedict, sends two thugs to abduct The Falcon, and they take him to a warehouse space and proceed to slap him around in an effort to obtain his half of the claim tickets. The Falcon turns the tables on the thugs and escapes in a blazing gunfight.

Benedict and Lorraine go back to the claim check and convince the clerk to hand over the checked items when shown only the torn halves. But The Falcon has been a step ahead. He has checked a bird cage and a bird and has swapped out half of the new claim tickets for those he purloined from Lorraine.

Now Benedict shows his true self, and he resorts to his trusty pistol, which weapon he apparently used on the unfortunate Sr. Donatti. They go back to The Falcon’s hotel to collect the two paintings, The Falcon alerts the police. The desk clerk gets involved and is killed in an exchange of gunfire. The police arrive and subdue Benedict as he attempts to make an escape with The Falcon as a hostage.

The Falcon returns the two paintings to the insurance company, and he hands a wire recording he has made that will show Benedict’s culpability and also will exonerate Lorraine. And that is very much the plot, though I left out a few details.

What’s wrong with the movie is the whole lot of foolishness put forth as a plot. Here it is.

An Italian count had the two paintings. He claims they were lost in the war (Italy lost). The insurance company paid off on the claim. Now the company wants its money back, because the paintings are being returned to the count. That’s not the way it works. First, this is a war casualty, which claims are typically not covered by insurance policies. Second, The insurance company has the paintings, and they want the count to return the money he was paid. But that’s not the way it works. When an insurer covers a loss, the client gets to keep the money. If the company can recover the loss, then they own the recovered item. It’s up to the insurance company to recover their loss by disposing of the recovered item.

The Falcon is working for the insurance company. Early in the movie he and Lorraine have both paintings. That should have been the end of the movie. Aha! The paintings were stolen. We have them. Call the police. Seize the paintings. Hand them over to the insurance company. The movie is over. For reasons not made clear The Falcon wants to enter into a scheme with Lorraine to pair the two paintings and sell them for more than $80,000. That’s crazy.

The Falcon goes to Milan to meet up with Donatti. He has the other Mantegna, which he claims to have painted himself. How does  this painting later turn out to be a real Mantegna?

When The Falcon arrives at Donatti’s studio, there is a gorgeous American model posing. The Falcon makes a dinner date with here. We later see he never keeps the date.

When The Falcon is in Donatti’s studio, Donatti and Minecci endeavor to speak English. They continue to speak English when they are alone without The Falcon.

During the flight back to America, another passenger contrives to slip contraband into The Falcon’s valise. But The Falcon gets wise and turns the smuggler in to the customs agents. This is a pointless side bar to the plot, having nothing to do with the story.

The Falcon slips the hotel clerk a note telling him to alert the police. The clerk phones the police from the back room and then engages Benedict in a gun fight and is killed. Nothing more is said about the poor clerk, whose body lies ever more stiff on the floor while the movie continues toward an end.

It is obvious Lorraine has conspired with the murderous Benedict to double-cross The Falcon, but in the end he absolves her of any complicity, and the two go off together for a night on the town. Yeah, let’s hope he never turns his back on her in the future.

Like I said, the plot is just crazy.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Back to Amazon Prime Video (these screen shots) for another bad movie, and this is not really old old one. It’s The Sand from 2015, and you know it’s going to be a teenage slasher movie from the opening scenes. Details are from Wikipedia.

Yes, we see a wild spring break party on a beach at night, and all stops are out. There is massive drinking, hijinks, and screwing of another girl’s boyfriend. We’ve all been there. You have? What’s it like?

A huge egg-like object casts up on the beach, arousing some curiosity and thereafter ignored.

Until the morning. Kaylee (Brooke Butler) is the first to come around, and the sun is already up. She’s finished the night in the lifeguard shack with Mitch (Mitchel Musso). When she looks around everybody else is gone except for her boyfriend Jonah (Dean Geyer), who is ensconced in the front seat of a convertible with another girl, Chandra (Meagan Holder). Another couple are in the back seat.

Marsha (Nikki Leigh) has spent the night close to nature on top of a picnic table. She is the first to die, except for those already missing. Kaylee is the one with the brains, and she spots the problem when the sand devours a bird. She suspects there’s something wrong with the sand, and she shouts warnings. Marsha ignores this good advice and steps onto  the sand, only to have her body dissolved into the sand.

During the night Gilbert (Cleo Berry) got really drunk, and they painted a dick on his face and stuffed him in a trash barrel, where his massive hulk has become stuck.

The boy in the back seat of the car gets out and is devoured. Jonah figures he has found a way to get across the sand and to freedom by placing two surfboards, one after the other, on the sand. But in his last stretch to reach the table the sand shifts the board he is standing on, and tendrils reach up from the sand and infest his abdomen. He does not die, but he reaches the top of the table with horrendous injuries.

Since the partiers had the foresight to lock their cell phones in the car trunk (to prevent the evening’s festivities appearing on YouTube), they cannot phone for help. Fortunately Rex (Jamie Kennedy), the beach patrol commander, arrives in his patrol car, but he is a total shit head, and the kids tell him so. He does not believe their story about the sand until it devours him alive.

Eventually the sand gets everybody else except Kaylee and Chandra, and they make it to the patrol car, taking Jonah with them. At night the creature in the sand attacks again, this time with enormous octopus tentacles. Kaylee defeats the sand thing by pouring gasoline on it and  throwing in a book of lighted matches.

Come daylight another person drops by and raps on the window. Jonah is dead, and the sand is free of the menace. Another closing shot appears to be an aerial view of Santa Monica Pier. Wikipedia tells me the creature is revealed as a giant jellyfish, retreating back  to the ocean and in search of another beach full of people.

And that’s the plot. If the writers had wanted to stretch it they could have gotten into how the survivors explain what happened to all the others, but that would not have been much excitement. Wikipedia further calls attention to “Blood Beach – a 1981 film with a similar premise.” What we have is a great opportunity to ogle college girls in skimpy outfits and even some bare tits. That aside, the production could have done with better F/X. Depictions of people being consumed by the sand often employ some local image blurring, which we are supposed to assume is what it looks like when a human body dissolves. Sub par for a 21st century production. This was distributed by Taylor and Dodge.