In today’s Journal, 31 Days of Spooky Stuff continues as I look at killer yogurt, ancient Chinese demons and a trio of short films. I also discuss one of the most terrifying films I’ve seen in recent memory. Yes, dear readers, I saw THE OOGIELOVES. So come on in and don’t forget to wobble, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.
The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.
What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?
FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 83
(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 27 – OCT. 27, 2013)
SCREAMTIME (1983) – This anthology film has a couple of New York types stealing some videos from a Times Square store. They hide out at one of the guys’ sister’s place, a gal who immediately puts some moves on her brother’s friend. In the meantime, they watch the videos they got. All of the short stories told within SCREAMTIME are British (“You kin tell from da way dey tawk,” one of them says in fluent Brooklynese). The stories involve an obsessed puppeteer, a haunted house and a mystically guarded estate, respectively.
Obviously cobbled together from existing material to make a full-length film, SCREAMTIME feels like a cheat. And it’s not a particularly well made cheat either. None of the stories offers more than a couple of moments of interest and the direction in both the shorts and the linking material is flat. Awful.
THE STUFF (1985) – There is a new food sweeping the nation. It’s a white, yogurt-like substance that is sped through the FDA and hooks everyone who tries it. This is because the food is actually a parasitic alien symbiote that takes over the willpower of everyone who consumes the Stuff. Mo Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) is hired to find out what’s in the Stuff and why so many people are going crazy for it.
Larry Cohen has a way of taking a chilling premise and camping it up to the nth degree, all of which merely masks the social commentary he provides. Intended as a takeoff on the many health fads of the 1980s, THE STUFF succeeds in harkening back to the conspiracy sci-fi/horror films of yesteryear. It also manages to be quite funny thanks to a completely out there performance by Moriarty. Paul Sorvino also shows up late in the game as a white supremacist leader of a militia group. Like most of Cohen’s films, the whole thing works a lot better in theory than it does in execution. Still, THE STUFF is quite a treat all its own. Recommended.
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) – Jack Burton is a truck driver who agrees to help his friend/debtor Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) pick his fiance from the airport. The fiance is kidnapped by Chinatown street gangs who are working in concert with ancient Chinese gods to an immortal spirit to flesh and blood. Yeah, that’s about all the sense I can be bothered to make of this film right now.
All you need to know is that BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is incredible and if you’re one of the few who still hasn’t seen it, you’re missing out. After some of the most serious films of John Carpenter’s career (THE THING, CHRISTINE, STARMAN), Carpenter served up this bit of wonderful insanity. Based in part on a western script or the original draft for the BUCKAROO BANZAI sequel, depending on who you ask, it’s a meshing of blue collar action, Shaw Brothers martial arts and horror and winking comedy. That 20th Century Fox didn’t know how to market this film just goes to show you how clueless they were back then. This is sheer fun from beginning to end. If you don’t like it, you need to get yourself checked out by a professional. The Best.
THE OOGIELOVES IN THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (2012) – While planning a surprise birthday party, three oversized monstrosities called the Oogieloves lose five magical balloons and spend the rest of this awful, awful thing trying to get them back.
THE OOGLELOVES IN THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE may not be a horror film, but it’s sure as hell horrifying. I’ve seen torture porn that was less unsettling than this film. And the torture porn gave me a porn positive outlook on the human face when it was over too. For the entire film, I kept hoping that the talking pillow would just smother the rest of the cast before throwing itself in a thresher.
A cynical attempt to market a new group of shrill, unlikable characters to the BLUE’S CLUES set, this film also encouraged children to get up out of their seats, dance around and sing along with the movie… after which producers were dumb enough to think you could settle the little rugrats down again. This is why there was a four-year gap between the film’s completion and its release, so as to give the “marketing visionary (his words, I swear to God)” a chance to patent this pathetic gimmick. That the OOGIELOVES still managed to play to mostly empty houses after all this trouble is evidence of a benevolent God in the universe.
THE OOGIELOVES is aggravating, cloying and made me grind my molars in frustration. Somehow, they managed to score talented people who should know better – Toni Braxton, Chloris Leachman, Christopher Lloyd, Chaz Palmenteri and Jamie Presley. I didn’t count Carey Elwes in the “talented people” because he flushed that down the toilet long ago. I’m sure all of them figured they could just say they wanted to do something for the kids. But this whole film is such a pessimistically-marketed, high-pitched, multi-colored trip to Nightmaretown that there really is no defense for it. The Worst.
Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 338
Miss any of the previous Journal entries? Check them out here!