Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Alien: Resurrection (1997)
AKA Alien 4

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif, Raymond Cruz, Leland Orser, Carolyn Campbell

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Expectations: Ugh.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


OK, hear me out. I know that Alien: Resurrection is a total piece of shit, and you know it too. What I didn’t know was that watching this 15 years and a shitload of B-Movies later, I would actually get a kick out of Alien: Resurrection. It’s still shitty, but there’s a lot to like about the film if you’re able to completely divorce yourself from the idea that this is a part of a franchise that you love. That’s simply the only way to enjoy this one, and really, they’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. Ripley died at the end of Alien³, and the somber, horrific tone of the series died along with her. Alien: Resurrection is a cash-in movie grasping at straws to create another moneymaker in a successful series, but damn if it isn’t a fun B-movie too.

Alien: Resurrection opens with some evil scientists cloning Ripley, and while they were at it, they whipped up a big batch of cheese balls… and the alien queen growing inside her. Due to some flawed logic cloning practices, Ripley is now something of a hybrid, gaining some of the alien’s curious traits such as acidic blood and superhuman strength. The real goal was to get the queen and start doing the bio-research the entire series has hinted at, but the scientist’s master plan hinges on some cargo being delivered by a bunch of space pirates led by Ron Perlman, and when they arrive shit starts to go down.

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Final Stab (2001)

Final Stab (2001)
AKA Final Scream, Du bist tot!, Scream 4 (Bootleg Title), Scream 4: Final Chapter (Bootleg Title)

Starring Jamie Gannon, Melissa Reneé Martin, Erinn Hayes, Laila Reece Landon, Bradley Stryker, Chris Boyd, Forrest Cochran, Michael Lutz, Brannon Gould, Donnie Eichar, Scott Hudson, Britt Soderberg

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low. Scream clone? No thanks.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Along the path to reviewing all of Full Moon’s films, I’ll also be reviewing some related stuff that’s not exactly a Full Moon film. This is one of those, but it was supposedly executively produced by Charles Band (uncredited) and it’s directed by David DeCoteau, one of Full Moon’s most prolific directors back in the ’80s and ’90s. He has continued to work with Charles Band off and on after that period, but mostly he’s off on his own making low-budget horror flicks starring as many hot young people as he can find. This is one of those movies, and from the poster and alternate titles you might gather that it’s a Scream clone. It does share some of the self-aware character types of the Scream series, as well as the simple idea of a knife-wielding killer (who’s definitely one of these teens) running around in a Halloween mask, but actually its plot is more like a self-aware April Fool’s Day. Oh, and technically these people aren’t teens, they’re college students, but y’know… same difference in a horror movie.

Final Stab is about a murder mystery weekend in which people are actually getting killed. The thing is, unlike April Fool’s Day, we’re in on the joke almost immediately. This awareness on the part of the characters and the audience allows for some interesting situations, but ultimately it does take a lot of the tension out of the film. This knowledge subverts the general horror trope of running from the killer though, as each character knows the killer to be fake, they all greet him with a “Hey, man, how’s it going in that suit?” or some approximation of this kind of small talk.

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Batman Returns (1992)

Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Michael Murphy, Cristi Conaway, Andrew Bryniarski, Pat Hingle, Vincent Schiavelli, Steve Witting, Jan Hooks

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Moderate. The last time I saw this, it wasn’t all that hot.


Batman Returns is proof positive that bigger is not always better. I’m sure there are people out there that thoroughly enjoy this one, but I found it overlong, stupid and without much of the charm of the original. There’s a lot of potential here for a good Batman movie, but therein lies my biggest problem with Batman Returns: it’s not a Batman movie, it’s a Penguin movie. If they wanted to title it correctly they’d have gone with something like Penguin Begins or The Dark Penguin Rises, or perhaps they could have gone completely obvious and went with Penguin and Catwoman.

Batman Returns opens with Paul Reubens and his wife, disgruntled with their flipper-handed infant. They decide to throw him off a bridge, thus giving rise to the most annoying Batman villain ever to make it on-screen. I’ve never been a Penguin fan, and this fucking movie isn’t doing him any favors. There’s also the Catwoman’s origin as a sub-plot and Batman’s literally just along for the ride. Michael Keaton probably had no more than twenty lines in the entire movie… give or take a few.

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Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)
AKA Scanner Force, Mastermind – Total Kontroll

Starring Liliana Komorowska, Valérie Valois, Steve Parrish, Colin Fox, Daniel Pilon, Peter Wright, Sith Sekae, Harry Hill, Claire Cellucci, Michael Copeman

Directed by Christian Duguay

Expectations: Moderate. I hope it’s as fun as Part 2.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


There’s no way around it, Scanners III: The Takeover is a shitty movie. Its story is lackluster (but not without potential), and its characters start out with a lot of promise that quickly fizzles away as they settle into the molds they’ll be in for the rest of the film. It’s like the filmmakers had the idea of character arcs, but then got bored and said “Fuck it.” So why isn’t the film rated lower, you ask? That’s simple. Scanners III delivers a lot of over-the-top bullshit of the variety I enjoy immensely, and in these cases I’m always willing to forgive a lot.

The film opens with a party in a high-rise apartment. It feels like an ’80s party, but everyone’s a little more reserved and no one’s snorting cocaine off the mirrors… no one we can see anyway. One thing leads to another and some of the partygoers begin arguing the existence of scanners. Alex, our hero, is talked into proving that they do exist, and he moves his buddy slowly across the room with his mind. Some jovial asshole grabs his shoulder, breaks his concentration and Alex’s friend goes careening out of the window to his death. Stricken with grief and unable to come to terms with what his powers have done, Alex does the only thing someone looking for solace did in the ’80s/’90s. He went to study martial arts, of course. And Alex didn’t just go around the block to the local Taekwondo studio, he went to Thailand! My mind immediately reeled at the possibilities of a martial arts Scanners film.

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Chronicle (2012)

Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Bo Petersen, Anna Wood, Rudi Malcolm, Luke Tyler

Directed by Josh Trank

Expectations: Moderately high. I really liked the FX in the TV spot.


Chronicle is a found-footage movie that forgets one key element of the found-footage genre: the consumer-grade video camera. Instead of shooting the film on low-end equipment to give the film’s tale credibility and reality, the filmmakers instead chose to shoot the entire thing on the ARRI Alexa (which runs about $90,000 for a starter kit), basically the current reigning digital camera champion. It’s been used to shoot a shitload of high-profile films such as Drive, Hugo, Melancholia, The Avengers, and many, many more. (And yes, I only picked movies that I had reviewed so that I could link them… What can I say? The shot in Chronicle of the Apple iPad hurtling towards the screen with the Apple logo always in full view inspired my shameless side. I would advise Apple’s marketing team to insist that in the sequel it is a MacBook that is hurtled so that the Apple logo can be illuminated when it’s flying towards the screen.) While the Alexa itself is revolutionary and truly able to capture some amazing digital images, Chronicle is a found-footage movie. The stunning visuals should come from the specifics of the action, not the quality of the cinematography.

In part, the film does deliver great special effects that make you believe three high school kids just got crazy superpowers. The best of these moments is the one that sold me when I saw it in the trailer. It features the lead kid riding in the back seat of a car. An asshole guy in a truck follows closely behind, honking his horn. The kid waves his arm to the side and the truck careens off the road, through the guard rail and into the river below. Holy shit! It really looks great, but a few pretty FX aren’t gonna do the job here. If this was a four-minute short film, I’d be singing a different tune, but this is actually one of the more boring eighty-minute films I’ve seen in a while. And I’m the guy that sat through six horribly lackluster Josh Kirby, Time Warrior films earlier this year.

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Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)

Starring Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Terry Kiser, Troy Byer Bailey, Barry Bostwick, Tom Wright, Steve James, Novella Nelson

Directed by Robert Klane

Expectations: Seen it before, but I don’t remember anything about this one. Bernie’s a stiff from moment one, so this should be non-stop corpse-draggin’ fun, right?

On the general scale:

On the “People Pretending a Corpse is Still Alive” scale:


[Editor’s Note: One quick thing before I kick this one off: there will be massive spoilers. I’m just not able to do it justice without performing the full autopsy on Bernie’s rotting corpse. So be warned!]

In yesterday’s review of Weekend at Bernie’s, I called it a singular and unique film. The same can be said of Weekend at Bernie’s II, as it goes in a completely different direction than its predecessor while still exploring plot lines introduced in the original. After a strange animated intro sequence that plays up the kid-friendly aspects of this tale of the not-so-recently deceased Bernie, the film begins in the coroner’s office. Bernie has been turned in and locked away, and our heroes can finally get on with their lives without Bernie always hanging around. Wait, what? How are we supposed to have all the wild fun of the original now? I was hoping for a film filled with dead Bernie, but apparently that wasn’t meant to be. That being said, when Weekend at Bernie’s II is funny, it’s incredibly absurd and in certain cases it even rivals the original. The only problem is that these moments are so few and far between that most of the film is spent yawning and wishing Bernie would enter frame.

Before I go any further I have to make note of the film’s rating, as it is baffling me. I generally don’t pay attention to these things, but for whatever reason I had noticed that the original was PG-13, and the sequel was only PG. I thought, “Damn, so it’s gonna be tamer and more kid-friendly, huh?” I resigned myself to it, but to my surprise this is most likely the first and last PG movie to feature a main character yelling “Blow me!” to one of his co-workers, quick frontal female nudity and other assorted adult situations. If this came out at PG nowadays, the conservative Christian groups would tear down the local AMC, with burning effigies of Bernie littering the sidewalk.

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Piranha 3DD (2012)

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Adrian Martinez, Paul James Jordan, Meagan Tandy, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Scheer, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager

Directed by John Gulager

Expectations: High. I’ve been very excited to see this, hoping for a sequel that recaptures the horror/comedy of the 2010 remake.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Long story short: This movie contains none of the guilty fun of the original. It’s not that Piranha 3DD is pure shit, it’s more that it’s a shameless cash-in, it’s obvious and it squanders an opportunity to deliver another horribly debaucherous, gory good time. I thought the 2010 remake, Piranha 3D, was hopelessly shitty, but it was made with such style and filled with such inventive gore that I couldn’t help but become enamored with it. It seriously had no business being as funny and gore-tastic as it was. So when I heard there was a sequel looming, I instantly become excited and hoped it could live up to its predecessor. Maybe if previous director Alexandre Aja was still around, but this time we get John Gulager, the man who brought the world the Feast trilogy, of which I have seen none (and based on the strength of this one, I won’t be changing that anytime soon).

Piranha 3DD opens with a scene that holds no significance or bearing on the tale that I can remember. It features Gary Busey and his buddy hunting around a lake in the dark of night for their cow. How or why their cow is in the lake we will never know, but when they do find said cow, it’s dead, rather gassy, and it involuntarily shoots a couple of piranha eggs out its ass. Oh, if only I had paid for the 3D! While fish eggs from a dead cow’s ass might whet your cinematic appetite, don’t be fooled! The film actually focuses on a water park recently taken over by a money-hungry dude who hires strippers for lifeguards and designates one of the pools as an “Adult Pool,” complete with condom dispensers poolside and a “Cooch Cam.”

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