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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Camp Nightmare or a.k.a Who the Hell is Marvin?


Summer Camp Nightmare is another one of my "Holy Grail Movies." You know the films that you have wanted to see forever but could never find. Now I wish it had remained lost in the archives.

   Don't let the advertising fool you, this film is not a slasher film. It's a very boring rehash of Lord of the Flies sans the pig head and latent homo erotic themes. We visit your typical '80s summer camp full of teenage counselors who want to drink and bone. There's a "mean" counselor named Mr. Warren, who of course, stands in the way of their summer debauchery.

    One Manson-in-training camper named Franklin stages a bloodless coup and manages to lock up all the adults. Hooray, the counselors can finally drink and bone, expect for the scant few who still remember that they have small children to tend to. One of the children, Donald serves as a narrator recording the events onto a seemingly endless supply of blank cassettes.

     Without rules, chaos prevails Mr. Warren is killed trying to escape and a rape occurs. Franklin, who now refers to himself as a General lets the rapist off the hook. The girls revolt and carry him off to the woods and according Donald he is never seen or heard from again. It seems like a cop out, the movie was fine with showing a woman getting raped but not with showing the rapist getting his comeuppance.

    Eventually the cops show up and thanks to Donald's tapes, Franklin faces punishment for his misdeeds. The movie tries to paint him as a poor neglected teenager towards the end but it's too late, the character is just simply unlikable.

  This movie is just boring, nothing really interesting happens until the middle of the film.  The first part of the film tries and fails to flesh out the characters. The cast is relatively unknown save for soap star Melissa Reeves and Tom Fridley who is John Travolta's nephew.

   There are huge plot holes throughout the film like why would a camp have so few adults in the first place? What about the rapist? Not to sympathize with the character but he was murdered by a group of "innocent" teenage girls. Are they going to be able to live with what they did? Do they hope his parents will simply forget he existed? What prompted the cops to show up at the end? How is it that no one even attempted to break out and get help? It's not like they were being closely watched. And why is there a letter on the poster from Marvin and no one named Marvin?

    I guess not all "Holy Grail" movies can be as awesome as Jennifer, The Snake Goddess.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In Stepford, No one dreams of Jeannie

   If you have seen The Stepford Children, consider yourself lucky. This is one of many television films that fell through the cracks and never made it to DVD. You can find it online if you look though.

  We meet the Harding family, Steven is a former resident of Stepford and moving back for a simpler life. He's accompanied by wife, Laura, and his two stereotypically '80s punk teenagers. Laura is played by the fabulous Barbara Eden.

  Steven joins the fabled Men's Association who in addition to Stepfording their wives are tuning their teenagers to perfection. Steven fits in perfectly unlike his wife and kids. Laura is stunned by how vanilla her new town is, and ruffles feathers demanding changes.

  The teens, David and Mary, stick out like sore thumbs at their perfect high school. David doesn't care, he has met Lois another wild teen whose mother has just drank the Stepford Kool-Aid. Mary however starts to question her individuality after suffering a series of humiliations at school. The trio attempt to loosen up their fellow students by blaring rock music at a school dance. The devil's music whips them into a frenzy and causes the teens to be arrested.

  The Stepford men descend on Lois who calls David for help. They attempt to leave town but Lois is severely injured in a motorcycle accident. David sneaks into her hospital room and realizes that she is a robot. Laura begins to investigate the crash but they cops are unresponsive.

   David meets the new and improved Lois and confides in his mother. They go to visit her parents and Laura notes the changes in Lois' mother. Laura returns home unaware that Steven has upgraded Mary in her absence.
   Unnerved by her daughter's sudden change, Laura furthers her investigation. She learns that her hubby's first wife had died suddenly. She digs up her grave and uncovers a smashed up robot. She races home to learn that the Men's Association is looking for David. Mary 2.0 attempts to stab her mother but Laura manages to short circuit her and escapes.

   The men are furious that David managed to escape. Mary breaks in and finds her real daughter but their escape is thwarted by the men. However, David shows up in the nick of time and they flee Stepford.

     The films only real problem was how slow the movie progressed. It seemed like the saved the real action for the last 15 minutes of the film. It also ended  really abruptly, it's kind of jarring. Barbara Eden is pretty awesome and the storyline was decent. It didn't try to rip off too much from it's predecessor, The Stepford Wives which I appreciated.   All in all, the film is okay. Not the best in the world but it's watchable.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Whatever Mikey wants Mikey gets

    In the '90s, it was all about the killer child. You had such classics as Daddy's Little Girl and The Paperboy, even Macaulay Culkin got in on the action in The Good Son. Out of all of them, Mikey is hands down the best.

    Rather than waste half the movie with long drawn-out suspense scenes, Mikey cuts right to the chase. His family doesn't make it past the first 15 minutes. Mikey is adopted by another family who have no idea who they brought into their home. Of course, once things don't go his way he resorts to some very tough love.

   The most refreshing aspect of this movie is the death scenes, they are fairly realistic. These are kills that a young person could conceivably do. Some of the deaths in the other films would require the main character to have super human strength to pull it off.

    The cast of the film are pretty fun too. Mikey is played by Brian Bonsell, who is known for his roles as Andy Keaton on Family Ties and Worf's son Alexander on STNG. Brian Bonsell is a perfect choice for Mikey. He can play innocent just as well as psycho and there some really chilling scenes in the film. 

   A pre-Melrose Place, Josie Bisset, plays a neighbor who unfortunately catches Mikey's eye. And there's some horror royalty with Whit Hertford, who played Jacob in Nightmare on Elm Street 5.  They actually put in some fine performances despite the film's B movie status.

    The film does lose points for having the obligatory sequel hook but then again what horror film doesn't? It may be a B movie but it's actually well done. Any fan of the slasher genre should check this out, it's worth it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lesson for the day: Child proof caps save lives.

    Now I feel the need to add a disclaimer before I proceed. I am in no way making fun of cyberbullying, it's a serious topic that can destroy a person's life. However, if you are going to make a movie about the subject, try not to make it a melodramatic mess.

     We meet Taylor Hillridge, blond, well-liked, bright future, basically doomed. She is finally allowed to go online without her mother watching her every move. She joins a site called Clickster, which essentially Facebook with no rules and inexplicably no delete button.

    Taylor meets a cute guy online who is everything she ever wanted (sound familiar) but soon turns on her. The high school lemmings follow suit and soon Taylor is considered the town whore. Not only that her best friend and other man of her dreams abandon her as well.

    If things could not get worse, the viewers learn that her other best friend, Samantha created the dreamy guy's account in order to mess with Taylor. What possible reasons would she have to betray her best friend like that, you ask? Because Taylor liked a guy that Samantha didn't think was good for her. Apparently Samantha was wronged by a guy and sees all guys as the enemy.

   Taylor reaches the breaking point and posts a video implying that she is going to kill herself. Samantha sees the video and races to Taylor's house with Taylor's mom and ambulances in tow. They throw open the bathroom door to find Taylor struggling with a child-proof cap. Yes, I am not kidding, her whole suicide was thwarted because she couldn't figure out the complicated dynamics of a child proof cap.

   ABC Family, if you are trying to make me feel sympathy for the main character you failed.

   So Taylor gets counseling and Samantha confesses her role in the whole cyberbullying thing. Samantha is soon the school's whipping girl but feels she deserved it. Samantha essentially gets away with what she did. No arrests, no one sues her, and Taylor still hangs out with her. A great message to young teenage girls out there.

Taylor and her mom commit themselves to making a anti-bullying law. Taylor publicly confronts the head mean girl and her fairweather friends and dream guy join her accompanied by other outcasts. Of course, the head mean girl falls off her pedestal and the Internet is safe again. There is even a montage of kids texting one another in joy. All that is missing is a rising rendition of "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead"  

    Did anyone involved in this movie ever see the movie Heathers? Sure, the head mean girl might be dethroned, but someone else will just take her place.  ABC Family had a great chance to shed some light on the issue but instead chose to make yet another unrealistic, melodramatic, teen movie.