Groom Lake (2002)

groomlake_2AKA The Visitor

Starring Dan Gauthier, Amy Acker, Tom Towles, William Shatner, Dick Van Patten, John Prosky, Dan Martin, Rickey Medlocke, Duane Whitaker, Brenda Bakke, J.T. Colosa, Debra Mayer, Chuck Williams

Directed by William Shatner

Expectations: I’m a big Star Trek fan, so I’m oddly and probably misguidedly excited for this one because of Shatner.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-movie scale:
onehalfstar


There’s no way around it: Groom Lake is not a good movie. It fails at nearly every turn, in spite of having many intriguing elements with potential. Even if you do manage to care about the characters and what happens to them, nothing really comes together well enough to form a cohesive experience. I remember having similar feelings the last time I watched the Shatner-directed Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, so I suppose the two films together form some kind of evidence that if you’re not suited to the task of directing and telling stories visually, it doesn’t really matter how much money you have.

The film opens with a tow truck making its way over desert roads towards a butte. Mystical lights, similar to the Aurora Borealis, shimmer in the sky over his destination, and the driver, Dietz (Tom Towles), is intent on seeing just what the hell is up with all that. When he arrives, he jumps onto the back of his truck and approximates Arnold’s “I’m here! C’mon! Do it!” speech from Predator, telling the presumed alien ship, “I’m here, you son of a bitch!” The son-of-a-bitch alien does not respond; the lights merely dissipate and leave some sparkly residue on the man’s hands.

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Beware! The Blob (1972)

bewaretheblob_1Beware! The Blob (1972)
AKA Son of Blob

Starring Robert Walker Jr., Gwynne Gilford, Richard Stahl, Richard Webb, Shelley Berman, Godfrey Cambridge, Larry Hagman, Carol Lynley, Marlene Clark, Gerrit Graham, J.J. Johnston, Danny Goldman, Rockne Tarkington, Dick Van Patten, Tiger Joe Marsh, Sid Haig, Burgess Meredith

Directed by Larry Hagman

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Beware! The Blob is a sequel to The Blob, but it’s also not. There’s nothing to connect the two films other than the blob. Beware! The Blob is also a horror comedy, but the genre line is blurred with enough genuine comedy and enough genuine horror to make anyone question which should be labeled as the primary genre. I’m gonna go with horror even though I feel it’s more of a comedy than a true horror film. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I’m going with that only because a fan without any interest in horror would never choose to watch this, nor would they find it all that funny. Probably. I can’t speak for everyone.

In order to facilitate a lot of truly outlandish comedic scenes, there isn’t much of a plot. Plots get in the way of inspired, unconnected moments like an opening credit sequence of a kitten exploring a field, a long-haired hippie asking for a haircut from a clean-cut barber (played by stand-up comic Shelley Burman), or when a group of hobos (two of which are Larry Hagman and Burgess Meredith) do their best to battle the blob with a pitchfork. The plot here is nonsensical and pointless, but its free-flowing nature helps the film from getting too dull as the blob absorbs and assimilates its victims into its gelatinous mass.

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