Monsters Vs. Aliens

This is precisely the sort of movie I would make if I wanted something kids could watch in awe, while the adults laugh themselves silly.

Starting out with some SETI-style researchers-who only took the job because they wouldn't have to do anything-end up having their plans foiled when they detect a U.F.O. It turns out to be a meteorite that crashes into Earth, specially on top of Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon), turning her into a 50-foot-tall woman.

Oh, and ruining her wedding.

In short order, the usual black helicopter goons show up and whisk Susan off to the secret government lab, where she meets all the great b-monsters of the 1950's. B.O.B the blob (Seth Rogan)-a lovable pile of sentient goo, Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie)-a not-too-subtle reference to The Fly, The Missing Link (Will Arnett)-who is more Creature from the Black Lagoon than walking ape, and Insectasaurous-the requisite giant monster that resembles nothing less than the product of an unholy union of a gerbil, a puffer fish, and a ladybug. These characters are wardened by the hysterically funny Gen. W.R. Monger, played with verve by Keifer Sutherland-who, quite frankly, sounds like he wrestled a bull by the horns, took said horns, and carved them into the microphone he used to record his voice over.

Apparently the Monster crew has been sequestered for some time, only to be released when the world is accosted by the (slightly) intelligent alien warlord, Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson ). Their mission: Defeat Gallaxhar's terrifying probe robot, then his army of very stupid clones, and finally Gallaxhar himself. I'm not really spoiling anything when I tell you they win. It's a kids movie after all. That's not really the point, it's not that they win, but how.

Full of hysterical sight gags, clever bits of dialogue ("This place is an X-file, wrapped in a cover-up and deep-fried in a paranoid conspiracy!"), a dash of satire, and a surprising number of adult contemporary hits. Phrases like "Code Nimoy! Code Nimoy!" are frequently mixed-in with references to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Beverly Hills Cop-nevermind the fact that the entire movie is a nod to Dr. Strangelove. Even so, there's a good balance between the referential pop-culture humor and jokes that stand on their own. It doesn't hurt that the supporting voice cast is top notch as well, with Stephen ColbertPaul Rudd, and Ed Helms all contributing.

The icing on the character cake is Susan, who does the full Sarah Connor/Ellen Ripley Hero's Journey: going from delicate flower to destroyer of robots and stomper of alien ass. More importantly, she realizes she doesn't need a man to make her happy. You go, girl!

We don't do "family" movies on the Cavalcade often, but when one comes down the pike that has so many nods to the movies that inspired our love of schlocktacular cinema, we have to take a look. Fortunately, this movie's great on all levels. If you were to Cavalcade it, feel free to mix and match it with one of the fore-mentioned 50's romps, Monsters Inc., or Bolt-which has even more nods to Hollywood b-movies.

Pumpkinhead

When picturing the Cavalcade Event 8 lineup, we’d already decided that it was going to be doing something rather different than the previous seven events. By focusing on the theme of Halloween, we were able to run off in different directions than those to which we had been bound previously. Able to touch on one-off topics like Pumpkinhead was definitely a big draw.

Directed by Stan Winston, the journeyman craftsman who lead the teams that brought the Terminator, the Alien Queen from Aliens, and the physical dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to life. The man was, frankly, synonymous with the best movie monsters and creature effects for over a generation-so when he puts together an original “dark fairy-tale fantasy” horror film involving Lance Henriksen and a demon, it’s something I want to see.

I’d heard about Pumpkinhead for years, of course. It wasn’t the most successful movie in the theaters at the time of its release in 1988, but has officially achieved “cult status” on home video. Enough so that they made 3 sequels and a comic book mini-series. Even though the sequels were supposedly terrible, word kept circulating that the original had some serious merit. Besides, there was a 20th anniversary DVD that had come out only a month prior. It was fate.

The film centers on Ed Harley (Henriksen), the owner of a small country store in the middle of nowhere which he runs while raising his young son, Billy. One day six fun-loving-horror-movie-style-idiot-teenagers happen by, decide to have some good old-fashioned goofy fun by… pulling out their ATVs and riding over the hills near the store. Woo. Before anyone can say “plot device”, Billy chases his dog out to the hills, gets himself run over, and Harley’s got a righteous mad-on for some blood vengeance. In short order, Harley finds himself a witch, mixes his blood into some kind of stew, and sets loose the titular demon.

Now, my rather flippant description of the movie’s plot doesn’t do it justice, but trust when I say this has much more to do with my inherent dislike of writing synopsis than the quality of the movie. This is a brooding, and deeply atmospheric monster movie that almost overcomes its B-movie origins. While not a great work of Shakespeare, the movie does evolve into a fairly well-played morality play by the third act, with Harley having to come to terms with the price of Vengeance. The movie succeeds in hitting every note its going for…

…Which is exactly why its not a good choice for the Cavalcade. The fact that it takes its time developing the relationship between father and son in the first act causes it to drag on an audience hungry for action. Later, when the Demon is slaughtering the teens, it’s more concerned with creeping out the audience (and it’s intended victims) than actually completing its task, which can lead the “suspenseful” moments to drag out…which can cause more rambunctious crews to start to check out of the picture.

Depending on your Cavalcade audience, this is either a fantastically told low-budget dark fairy tale, or a slow-moving bore. Your mileage may vary. But I, for one, am glad it’s in my permanent collection.

Godzilla: Final Wars

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us for our long-awaited review of Godzilla: Final Wars. However, before I can get to the review proper, and adequately discuss the nuances of the film, I have to get something off my chest. I feel the need to do this, if only because it does so affect the rest of the analysis. We here at the Cavalcade of Schlock do want to thank you for your patience in this matter, ladies and gentlemen, and promise to be brief in my announcement, so that we may both continue on in our studied consideration of the motion picture. So, without further ado...

Ahem.

*cough*

....

*deep breath*

Oh. My. F*@%ING GOD. This movie is F*@%ING AMAZING!

*cough*

Thank you.

Ok, now onto the review proper: The year is 2020 and the earth is in chaos. Countless years of constant warfare and environmental neglect has led to the rise of the monsters. To combat the growing threat, the world's governments have formed the Earth Defense Force (EDF), whose sole purpose is to, well, defend the Earth... through force. Wielding a staggering array of the latest technology and weaponry that science-fiction can provide, the EDF have still more resources to call on in this desperate struggle for humanity: Super-Human Mutants.

Enter into the situation, the Xiliens. An alien race that, at first glance, is promising to help defend mankind against not only the monsters, but the impending doom of a planet made of FIRE on a collision course with Earth (to be fair, I think they meant "meteor" and mistranslated). However, it turns out that the Xiliens are actually the ones controlling the monsters and the fiery planet of doom hurtling towards Earth. Now, with the planet overrun with giant monsters, what hope do we have left?

That's right, Godzilla.

The one monster that the EDF couldn't defeat steps into the fray, not necessarily to defend the Earth, per-se. It's mostly a "if anybody's gonna trash the place, it's gonna be me" kind of deal. That's right, Godzilla is here to kick ass and call it Christmas, so sit back and enjoy the show. And what a show it is!

Every monster to ever set foot (or wing, in the case of Mothra) makes an appearance in this picture. Even the American 'Zilla from the travesty that was Godzilla (1998) steps up to receives a beating in one of the films best scenes.  This is a movie that's not afraid to ripoff of every science fiction movie released in the last 20 years. Just off the top:

But. It. doesn't. Matter. Because this movie throws them all together, stirs the pot of absurdity into a quality stew, and sets the burners to eleven...

Hmm. Kind of took that metaphor a bit too far there.

The point of all this is that you won't find a better Cavalcade movie than this. I still haven't mentioned the captain of one of the EDF warships, played by former champion Mixed Martial Artist Doug Frye as a man so... manly that he carries a samurai sword slung over his shoulder the entire picture soley so he can stick it in a wall and fight mano-a-mano against an alien in one of the films climactic battles!

In closing, three words: See this f@#%ing movie.

Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain

Today we're going to break a bit with tradition and do something a little different. Normally when we review movies for the site, they are tied to a particular Cavalcade Event. These last few weeks have been catch-up as we steamroll through the past events we've held. However this movie requires special notice be paid.

Originally slated to be part of the October 2008 Halloween Cavalcade, the company we purchased the DVD from was unable to get it to us in time for a showing. Originally, we were fairly disappointed. Just look at the cast for the picture: Ginger Lynn Allen, Chasey Lain, Taylor Hayes, and Jenna Jameson. Ok, there are some of you who might not immediately know who those people are, and even those that do might pretend otherwise to save face, so allow me to clear things up: They are some of the biggest names of late-80's to 90's porn (Don't worry, the links are work safe). Throw in 21 Jumpstreet's Richard Grieco, and we have a recipe for awesome. Sadly however, this recipe doesn't take into account one thing: Christian Viel. Writer, Director, sick motherf*@%er.

I've seen films with nudity and enjoyed them. I've seen movies with disembowelments and still had fun. I've seen cinema with violence/gore/mayhem and laughed, cheered, and overall had a good time with friends and loved ones. You know what? This ain't any of those times. As a matter of fact, this movie is one of the single most morally reprehensible pieces of trash that I have ever forced myself to sit through.

The movie takes place in back woods of Ireland and while there are hints of witchery and mentions of Samhain but don't let that fool you, it's really a stupid rip off of The Hills Have Eyes and the mutant cannibal story.

Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?

We have:

  • A woman ripped in half, intestines spilling out all over the place.
  • An armless/legless man on a spinning on a spit, penis still attached and swaying in the breeze.
  • An hour of padding for time.
  • Not one, but three impalements.
  • A man strangled by his own intestine, ripped out through his bunghole.
  • A woman stabbed in the chest, and her breast implant removed by the cannibals and squished around for the camera.
  • A woman raped by multiple cannibals, giving exposition while a bloody dead fetus lies in the middle of the floor with the umbilical cord still attached.

Not only is the movie disgusting, it doesn't make any damn sense. The ending is ripped out of another movie entirely and doesn't seem to have any real purpose other than to, you know what? I didn't care, I was just happy that the damn thing was over. It's editing is bad enough and the end product is such that the sick M-F that wrote and directed the movie actually posted a written apology on IMDB. Of course, he's apologizing for most of the nudity and gore being removed from the flick.

Don't screen this for anyone. Don't buy this from anyone. Treat this movie like the leprosy that it is. There are much better choices for campy crap horror movies with retired porn stars. A personal favorite: Evil Toons