Jenifer (2005)

Starring Steven Weber, Carrie Anne Fleming, Brenda James, Harris Allan, Beau Starr, Laurie Brunetti

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: Low. I’m still interested in Argento, but he’s done me wrong more often than not.

Jenifer is an interesting Masters of Horror episode, and certainly a good one when compared to the usual quality of these, but what really holds it back is its ridiculously predictable storyline. Literally within the first few minutes I had already guessed (correctly) how the story would end. This makes the task of watching Jenifer a bit of a pointless endeavor, but at least it’s respectably well made, something I can’t say for every episode of the series. For obvious reasons, I’ll refrain from relating any of the plot, as knowing anything would spoil the whole thing.

Jenifer is arguably the best looking Masters of Horror episode yet, featuring none of the visual jank and cheap CG art that has cropped up in varying degrees in every previous episode. The cinematography is nice and the shots are mostly interesting. I also didn’t get the claustrophobic feel that most of the other episodes gave me. The only computer imagery I noticed was a fly bothering two men while eating in the opening moments. Everything else was realized in the real world by KNB FX in stunning, graphic detail. This episode probably has the most graphic gore I’ve seen in the series so far, with severed torsos, entrails and chopped up bodies showing up often. It all looks incredibly convincing and horrific, but because I didn’t care much for the characters, it wasn’t particularly effective in scaring or creeping me out. At the end of the day, gore is great, but I want some story to go with it. That being said, I welcome a fun gorefest with only a modicum of story. Key word being fun.

Continue reading Jenifer (2005) →

Quick Takes: Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Disorderlies, The Happening

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

Starring Leslie Nielsen, Mel Brooks, Peter MacNicol, Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Lysette Anthony, Harvey Korman, Anne Bancroft
Directed by Mel Brooks

Actually, he’s more just getting along than loving it. I was expecting Dracula to get all Liberace on life, but alas this is a rather pedestrian re-telling of the Dracula tale and not the flamboyant re-imagining I hoped for. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. On the contrary, I’m enough of a Dracula fan to get a kick out of the places where the kicks were intended. The blood gushing gag was my favorite, as it satisfied my gorehound thirst as well as my funny bone. A very minor Brooks work, and presumably his final film unless he’s preparing a comeback, Dracula: Dead and Loving It is just OK.

Disorderlies (1987)

Starring Mark Morales, Darren Robinson, Damon Wimbley, Ralph Bellamy, Anthony Geary, Tony Plana, Marco Rodríguez, Helen Reddy, Troy Beyer
Directed by Michael Schultz

Disorderlies is an astoundingly subtle take on race and class in 1980s, both of which went completely over my head as a kid focusing on the rap antics of three of hip-hop’s heaviest dudes. Oh ok, Disorderlies may not plumb the depths of social commentary and it’s technically not a very good movie, but if you’re in the right mindset, it’s a fantastically fun 80s comedy and I had an absolute blast watching it. When I was a young kid, I had an unhealthy fascination with seeing this movie and when I finally saw it, I loved it. I haven’t seen it since that fateful day in the late 80s, and while it isn’t the laugh riot I remember it being, it’s still pretty damn funny. I just can’t help but laugh when Buff and Kool drive a cop car from the back set with coat hangers. It’s like The Three Stooges for the 80s, complete with the accompanying sound FX and prat falls.

The Happening (2008)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley, Spencer Breslin, Robert Bailey, Jr., Frank Collison, Victoria Clark, Jeremy Strong
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

The Happening is a big-budget B-movie and nothing more, so like many B-movies, it never quite reaches the heights it sets out for. It’s a poorly acted, poorly directed, poorly written piece of trash moviemaking, but I honestly enjoyed it overall. I can dig the environmental theme, but I take issue with one key moment at the end that shows Shyamalan doesn’t really understand or subscribe to the theories he’s trying to enlighten others with here. Perhaps this moment is yet another comment on society, but if that’s the case, it’s poorly executed. Still though, it’s trashy fun and the R Rating helps sell the apocalypse pretty well. If you enjoy paranoia B-Movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Happening is a fair, but stupid, entry into the genre. Watch out for Mark Wahlberg’s dialogue with the potted plant, it’s a high point and I can only wonder what everyone on set thought about the state of their careers in that moment.

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