[31 Days of Horror Part VII: The New Blood] Day 30 – Demons 2 (1986)

Director: Lamberto Bava
Cast: David Knight, Nancy Brilli, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Bobby Rhodes, Asia Argento, Virginia Bryant
Screenplay: Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti
92 mins. Rated R.

I’ve unintentionally picked several movies this month that are set in high-rises. There was Shivers, Poltergeist III, and the film we’ll be talking about tonight, Demons 2. I have nothing against high-rises, nor do I harbor any ill will to their occupants, but the pattern has been noted.

Demons 2 picks up some time after the first film, and we discover that the events of the original film did indeed happen, and the world knows of the existence of demons. The demons were defeated, and life has seemingly returned to normal. On this night, a fictionalized film is being shown on the television depicting young people who returned to the quarantine zone that the demons had been, and just as before, the demons attack, moving through the screen and back into our world, this time targeting an apartment complex and its inhabitants. The odds are against them, but the ones that group together to fight back may just have a shot.

Demons 2 is indeed a sequel tot he original, which I liked. True sequels were still a bit of a rarity for foreign-produced horror films during his time; there was a favorability toward slapping a sequel title on a random similar film and marketing it as a sequel. I just figured this was the same thing, but there’s no way of avoiding it. Demons 2 is very much a sequel. In fact, it’s pretty much the same movie as the first one, just set in a different location.

In that way, Demons 2 is a little too much of the same thing. It reminded me of Evil Dead II, which just spent a lot of time re-enacting the events of the original, effectively remaking it (in fact, it is more similar to Return of the Living Dead II, as it actually has some of the actors from the first film returning to play new characters).

This sequel is truly winning when director Lamberto Bava (Body Puzzle, Devil Fish) tries new things. Even when his attempts don’t work, there is a charm to the effects work, dated as it is. I particularly liked the enhanced creature design, which looks slightly different than the original film’s effects, while still similar enough to fit in this world. I also liked the different demon types explored in the film. Demons 2 feels like an expansion of this story and mythology in a really exciting way.

Demons 2 flounders a bit in its overly-similar plotting, its poor acting, and its unearned finale, but that’s not why I watched this movie. I understood what I was getting, and that’s what I got. The acting is as good as I expected, but the film was a visual and tonal treat. It was just damn fun to watch, even with its flaws (and there are flaws). I still recommend this film to the fans of the original, but it is a step down.

3.5/5
-Kyle A. Goethe

For my review of Lamberto Bava’s Demons, click here.

[Stephen King Day] Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Director: Stephen King

Cast: Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Christopher Murney

Screenplay: Stephen King

98 mins. Rated R.

 

The trailer for Maximum Overdrive, perhaps the single greatest trailer in cinema history, features Stephen King, the writer/director of the film and writer of the short story Trucks, which the film is based on, claims that if you want Stephen King done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. He also claims that he’s going to Scare the Hell out of you! Neither of these claims ever comes true in Maximum Overdrive, but is the film without merit? I don’t think so. Let’s break down the horror novelist’s lone directing credit today, and we’ll find out just what the hell happened.

The date is June 19, 1987, and the Earth has passed in the tail of a comet that creates a supernatural force, bringing all machines on Earth to life. The machines begin a hostile and homicidal takeover, and a group of survivors hold up in the Dixie Boy truck stop gas station, hoping to fend off the mechanical menace.

Let’s start off with King’s second claim. There’s nothing in Maximum Overdrive even remotely terrifying outside of its central concept. It just doesn’t offer chills. Perhaps it’s because we don’t care about our core group of characters, perhaps it’s because we aren’t presented with enough tension once the initial plot comes into play and the survivors are trapped at the Dixie Boy. It isn’t exactly clear where the film falls apart because it is only tenuously held together to begin with. King’s a hell of a novelist, but directing just doesn’t seem his forte. He can direct on the page, but not all that well with a camera. That’s not entirely on him, as he was quoted as saying that he was “coked out of my mind” for the entirety of the filmmaking process, and it shows (perhaps nowhere more obviously than that trailer). If there’s ever been a solid case for quitting drugs, show someone the great modern horror writer and his film only directing film, Maximum Overdrive.

None of the performances are particularly dazzling. I like the Emilio Estevez (The Way, D3: The Mighty Ducks), specifically in Repo Man, but he capture the audience well. Pat Hingle (Batman, Hang ‘Em High) is flatly asshole-like in his work as Hendershot, a secondary antagonist to the survivor group, and everyone else in the film falls into the stock character work, with most of the secondary cast disappearing from memory with hours of seeing the film.

AC/DC provided the music for the film, and their song choices kind of worked with the high-octane motor vehicle villains that circulate around the Dixie Boy looking to pick off our blood-pumping heroes. I’m not big on their ratchety score outside of the song choices though. Again, AC/DC are not writers of musical scores, and while some musicians can do both, perhaps they were not ready at that time to move into the realm of films.

So the film is bad, there’s no denying that (King himself called it his worst adaptation back in 2013, and those 2 Golden Raspberry noms didn’t give it much credibility), but is it a so-bad-it’s-good kind of film? In some ways, it really is. It has such a simple plot that you don’t have to follow it with detailed notes, the inconsistencies (why do some of the working vehicles never come to life when others do?) are almost endearing, and the murder and mayhem are enjoyably silly and entertaining (King’s cameo as a man at an ATM is particularly dumb and fun). Sure, I showed it at a movie night a few years back, and it earned the enjoyment factor raised.

Maximum Overdrive is not a good movie, but like all auto wrecks, there’s some salvaging to do with this one. There are parts that work well enough to get it moving, and you can get some mileage out of it in the right circumstances, as long as you know what movie you are watching. The statements in the trailer may not be truthful, but it does sell exactly what this movie is, if you can handle it. It’s not good, and I won’t claim that it is, but you can still have a hoot with it.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Ferris Bueller’s Day Off] Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Director: John Hughes

Cast: Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck

Screenplay: John Hughes

104 mins. Rated PG-13.

 

Apparently, today is Ferris Bueller’s Actual Day Off, or at least the best approximation. There’s no set date but research was done that June 5 as the most likely day that Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick, The Producers, Wonder Park) took off back in the 80s, and it seems a good time to actually celebrate this day in honor of all the kids who didn’t get to skip school in 2020 because school was skipped for them.

Ferris Bueller is the most popular kid in school, and he’s decided to take a day off of school by faking sick. His best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck, Twister, TV’s Succession), is out of class today as well because he can’t find a reason to get out of bed. Ferris convinces his buddy to partake in a day’s adventure in Chicago alongside Ferris’s girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara, Timecop, Daughter of Darkness), all the while evading his parents and school principal Ed Rooney, who has a vendetta against Bueller.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has a mood all its own, and there are elements of it in other John Hughes (Planes, Trains & Automobiles, The Breakfast Club), it stands all on its own. With the inclusion of Yello’s “Oh Yeah,” a song that wasn’t in the pop culture landscape before its release, this film is every high school student’s dream movie. I saw it for the first time as a child, and I said to myself, “That’s going to be me one day.” Long story short, it wasn’t. More often than not, I was Cameron. There were moments of Ferris, but I leaned into Cameron too.

That’s what is so great about the characters in this film. At times, we are all a Ferris and we are all a Cameron. Broderick finds a way to make a wildly unrealistic character like Ferris into an incredibly relatable idol. He’s a guy who has an answer for every situation, but he also finds himself taking advantage of those around him that doesn’t always have solid consequences. When he confronts some of his own faults later in the film, and he finds that his skills don’t always work, he has to let go of his ego…slightly.

Cameron is another character that, while relatable, could have been very annoying. Cameron is the kind of character that isn’t always easy to translate, but having suffered with confidence and self-worth in the past, his arc works quite well. He’s struggling the whole film with trying to find his worth and trying to connect with a distant parent, and all of Ferris’s pokes and prods are unable to empower him. Cameron’s strength needs to come from within, but he is unable to bring it forth.

The question comes up a lot as to who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist of the film, and I guess there’s no clear answer. While some would call Cameron the protagonist and Ferris the antagonist, I would go the simpler route of protagonist Ferris as the protagonist and Rooney as the antagonist. There’s even talk about whether or not Ferris is even real or just an imagined friend for Cameron. That’s a lot of crazy talk. Ferris the protagonist who gets the ball rolling on the plot and Rooney is a classic antagonist. Rooney is not inherently a bad guy but he is against Ferris.

None of that matters, though, because however you choose to see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it’s a damn enjoyable film. It’s very unrealistic, but writer/director John Hughes pulls off a movie that works on so many levels. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it takes advantage of a interesting world (is the Shermerverse a thing?) of fun characters and uniquely-tense situations. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is worth revisiting or seeing for the first time. It hasn’t even aged all that much. See it now. Go on, take the day off.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 28 – Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

Director: Brian Gibson

Cast: Jobeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins, Julian Beck, Zelda Rubinstein, Will Sampson, Geraldine Fitzgerald

Screenplay: Mark Victor, Michael Grais

91 mins. Rated PG-13.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Effects, Visual Effects

 

Poltergeist is now considered a classic American horror film, so it seems only natural that there would be a sequel, but it still surprises me whenever I talk to someone about the Poltergeist sequels, many of them do not know of their existence, but there is a strong cult following for them. It’s been some time since I visited the series, and now seemed a perfect time for it.

It’s been a year since the Freelings experienced powerful poltergeist activity at their home in Cuesta Verde, and they’ve moved on to a new home and life has returned, as much as it can, to normal, but when Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein, Southland Tales, Sixteen Candles) discovers that the evil at the old Freeling home is still present, she sends a friend, Taylor (Will Sampson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Outlaw Josey Wales) to meet with the Freelings and help them. At the same time, a mysterious preacher named Kane (Julian Beck, The Cotton Club, 9 1/2 Weeks) shows up with an interest in Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke, Around the Bend, Surviving).

The performances are all very fine in the film. It feels like the Freelings have evolved in the year since the first film. They are both distraught that the spirit is still wreaking havoc on the film, but it also feels like their prepared for it this time. Jobeth Williams (The Big Chill, Alex & the List) runs the house again as Diane. She wears the pants in the family and husband Steve (Craig T. Nelson, The Incredibles, Book Club) is just along for the ride. The two have great chemistry together.

Screenwriters Mark Victor and Michael Grais (Cool World, Secrets of the Unknown) did a great job of evolving and progressing the mythology of the first film. It’s one of my favorite elements of the sequel. The mythology around The Beast in this film is really cool. The big problem with their scary movie, though, is that it isn’t scary. There’s very little actual poltergeist activity for most of the film, and a lot of it is been there, done that. There’s only one moment that’s very memorable, and it involves a sequence beginning with tequila that I won’t ruin for you. It’s a great sequence in an otherwise unscary movie.

The Poltergeist Curse lived long through this film. There’s something very chilling about the real-life horrors surrounding this franchise. Actress Dominique Dunn, who played Dana, the eldest Freeling, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend just after the first film was released.Apparently, the plan was to send her to college in the sequel, but of course these scenes could not be filmed.  I respect that they didn’t recast or work around it because it lets her character find some peace. Then there’s issue of Julian Beck dying of stomach cancer before this film’s release. He wasn’t able to complete post-production work as Kane. I know it doesn’t mean anything to the merit of the film, but it’s interesting and disturbing the amount of real-world death that is connected to this film.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a lesser film to its predecessor, but there’s some interesting world-building to this sequel, world-building that doesn’t take away from the creep factor of its central specter. The flaw though is that the film isn’t as creepy or scary as the first and it’s noticeably devoid of anything scary for at least the first hour of the movie. Things start to heat up near the end, but it took me out of the movie by that point and I was really just watching for the story, which is engaging. Still, though, fans of the first film may find some enjoyment out of this second film. I found a bit.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 14 – House (1986)

Director: Steve Miner

Cast: William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, Kay Lenz

Screenplay: Ethan Wiley

93 mins. Rated R.

 

I caught House on the Sci-Fi channel as a child and was swept up in it. I taped it and watched it again and again and again. I figured that, today, I would take a look back at this movie to see if it’s worth my love or if it’s just a guilty pleasure. Both are fine with me.

Roger Cobb (The Man from Earth, The Other Side of the Wind) has just inherited his aunt’s house after her passing, and he’s taken the opportunity to move in and work on his next book. He has bad memories of the house; his son went missing several before and the house was the last place Roger saw him. The resulting marital problems left him divorced from wife Sandy (Kay Lenz, Breezy, The Secret Lives of Dorks). He’s also suffering from PTSD from his time in Vietnam. Roger has a lot of demons, and he’s about to discover that the house isn’t a normal one. It’s a conduit of evil, and Roger’s about to face his worst fears within its walls.

I might have given myself up too quick on this one at the beginning, but I fucking love House. It’s easily in my top ten favorite horror films of all time. There are faults to the film that are more apparent watching it as an adult, but I don’t even care because all the great parts of House outweigh the bad ten times over.

Let’s start with the incredible William Katt, an actor who never got the full-on recognition he deserves. He’s been steadily working for decades, but he kills it as Roger Cobb. I may be harboring a man-crush for Katt because I grew up watching him in Carrie and Greatest American Hero, but I just find him to be such a charismatic neighborly presence onscreen and his portrayal of Cobb as a sympathetic tortured but sweet individual is really strong.

The supporting cast is small but mighty. Though Kay Lenz doesn’t get much to do, George Wendt (Grand-Daddy Day Care, TV’s Cheers) gets a lot of the heavy lifting as new neighbor Harold. Wendt provides the straight-man comic relief to the many horrors of the house, and he really hits that perfect level of smarmy but friendly and truly caring about his neighbor. He’s not always the most-loyal, but I was taken by the realism that a standard comic relief character was able to be conveyed.

The real stars of the film, though, are the creatures. House contains some of the coolest and creepiest creature designs I’ve ever seen, and it’s all for the sake of twisting and turning Roger’s life upside-down. I don’t even want to pick a favorite one because they’re all so great. Hell, there’s even a bunch of sentient tools from the work shed that come to life and try to kill Roger, and it somehow works for the exact tone that director Steve Miner (Warlock, Day of the Dead) is going for.

House is an absolute blast that can be repeat-viewed over and over again. It’s a shame that this franchise never really kept to the quality of the original because I love the idea of the house being something different to each of its occupants. William Katt kicks ass as the lead and the film boasts some truly spectacular creature effects. Seek this one out immediately!

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part III, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 15 – Witchboard (1986)

or “Still a better Ouija movie than the actual Ouija movie”

Director: Kevin Tenney

Cast: Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite, Burke Byrnes, Rose Marie

Screenplay: Kevin Tenney

96 mins. Rated R.

 

Making a movie about a Ouija board is really tough, everyone. Seriously, it’s must be truly difficult. How does one make a board game scary?

Jim Maror (Todd Allen, Django Unchained, My All-American) is trying his best to mend his relationship with childhood friend Brandon Sinclair (Stephen Nichols, Merchants of Venus, TV’s Days of Our Lives). The biggest problem is that Jim’s girlfriend Linda (Tawny Kitaen, Bachelor Party, TV’s Moms Anonymous) used to date Brandon. At a party one night, Brandon introduces them to a Ouija board and the spirit of a ten-year-old boy named David that Brandon has communicated with many times before. Brandon forgets the Ouija board with Linda, who begins using it pretty regularly. As the same time, danger keeps befalling Jim. Are the two series of events connected or merely coincidence?

Witchboard has a problem that regularly happens in bad movies. I didn’t like Jim or Brandon. I marginally liked Linda, though she was mostly underdeveloped. Naturally, our male leads get better over time as they loosen up a bit, but they play like children fighting over a toy.

Director Kevin Tenney (Night of the Demons, Bigfoot) sets a nice tone for the film. It’s a nice mixture of lightheartedness and downright dread while never folding all the way to one side, but that’s about all it has to give.

All in all there’s problems abound in this movie, but I did enjoy the camp level of it, and I think that’s what you really have to have with a film like Witchboard. This isn’t planned as an Oscar film nor is it meant to please everyone. This is a prime example of a film you have to judge on its own merits. What is it trying to be and is it successful in that way? Witchboard is moderately successful as the cheap low-budget ghost story. There isn’t much for scares here, and the film isn’t as good as Tenney’s better effort Night of the Demons, but it is fun at times. Not very fun, but fun enough.

Witchboard is pretty much exactly what I expected. I was hoping for more effect fun for a film like this. We are dealing with a wacky ghost story trying to make a piece of cardboard scary, so I did want more. The film has fun, and the tone matches what I saw on screen. Witchboard is fine for genre fans, but I’m doubtful it will work for others.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Kevin Tenney’s Night of the Demons, click here.

[Friday the 13th] Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)

Director: Tom McLoughlin

Cast: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen, Renee Jones, Kerry Noonan, Darcy DeMoss, Tom Fridley

Screenplay: Tom McLoughlin

86 mins. Rated R.

 

How do you continue a slasher franchise when the killer was dead the entire previous installment. Well, you Frankenstein the hell out of him!

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI makes no question of whether or not Jason Voorhees is back. Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews, The Return of the Living Dead, The Peacemaker) killed Jason years ago as a child, and now, as part of his emotional recovery from the past, he returns to Jason’s grave to destroy Jason’s body forever. When he inadvertently causes the resurrection of the masked killer, he finds that no one believes him. Sheriff Garris (David Kagen, Getting Even with Dad, Boris and Natasha) has him arrested, believing him to be just as dangerous as the undead Jason. Thankfully, the sheriff’s attractive teenage daughter Megan (Jennifer Cooke, Covenant, TV’s V) has her eyes on Tommy and believes him. Now, the newly renamed Camp Forest Green has opened, and the youthful campers have arrived at what could be a murderous buffet for Jason, and time is running out.

Writer/Director Tom McLoughlin (The Unsaid, At Risk) delivers the most meta and self-aware horror film of the Friday the 13th franchise and perhaps all of horror at that point. McLoughlin infuses his film with all the elements that this franchise needed. First of all, it made Jason a zombie, further explaining his unkillable force at work. He brought actual campers to the scene, a first for the series, adding a level of terror and suspense to the proceedings. The best element, though? He has fun with the material while never truly bastardizing the horror elements for a laugh. This is a tough line to walk, but McLoughlin walks it perfectly. Let’s face it. After six films, this formula would be wearing thin if not for a fresh flavor, and that’s what we get. Jason Lives is the best film in this franchise (there, I said it).

The performances here are serviceable at best, but that’s also something we’ve come to expect. The true star here is C.J. Graham’s Jason. Graham had never acted before, but his background in the military makes Jason an unstoppable killing machine. There’s a scene where Jason brutally murders some paintball-playing adults, and he stops for a moment to realize that he is more powerful than ever. Graham’s stoic performance is subtle enough to never fully steal the show, but he is a worthy addition to the long line of Jasons.

So there we have it. Six films in, and the franchise feels fresher than ever. The formula isn’t going to win a lot of new fans over, but this is a Friday the 13th for the die-hard fans, a celebration of the series. It’s fun while never being too funny, and it’s scary while never trying to over-complicate things. It’s just a fun film to watch, particularly in a large group. Check it out this Friday the 13th if you can.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, click here.

For my review of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part III, click here.

For my review of Joseph Zito’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, click here.

For my review of Jack Sholder’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, click here.

For my review of Danny Steinmann’s Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 20 – Psycho III (1986)

Director: Anthony Perkins

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey

Screenplay: Charles Edward Pogue

93 mins. Rated R.

 

A friend of mine once told me that he believes the Psycho franchise to the most underappreciated franchise in horror. When I pined, he told me that while most people regard the original film as a classic, the sequels are mostly dismissed as they started appearing over two decades after the first film. When I saw Psycho II, I got what he meant. No, it isn’t the first film, but it doesn’t try to be. Today, we’ll take a look at the follow-up, directed by Anthony Perkins (Lucky Stiff) himself.

When Maureen (Diana Scarwid, What Lies Beneath, Another Happy Day), a nun, has a horrible accident, she goes on the run, leaving her old life behind. She finally ends up at the Bates Motel, being run by Norman Bates (Perkins). Norman has a new assistant in Duane (Jeff Fahey, Grindhouse, Atomic Shark) and a whole lot of skeletons in his closet after murdering Emma Spool, the woman claiming to be Norman’s true birth mother.

Psycho III isn’t as clean as its predecessors. There are a lot of moving parts here and they don’t hold up as well as what has come before. There is a subplot with the disappearance of Mrs. Spool and the journalist who suspects Norman. There’s the plot with Maureen and her striking resemblance to Marion Crane. Then there’s Duane, who has a plan of his own. Sadly, the multitude of plot points don’t hit as well as they did in Psycho II.

The film does have its merits, though. There are plenty of callbacks and referential material to firmly tie this film to the rest, and it does build on the story without retread. Psycho III takes its own path without falling back on the same story over and over. Sometimes, the film’s connective tissue with the original film helps, sometimes it does not.

Overall, Psycho III works well enough, though it never reaches the heights that it could or should. First-time director Perkins can’t juggle the pieces as well as should, but fans of the first two will find enough to like in this third installment.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, click here.

For my review of Richard Franklin’s Psycho II, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Happy 30th Birthday!] April Fool’s Day (1986)

aprilfoolsday1986a

Director: Fred Walton

Cast: Deborah Foreman, Griffin O’Neal, Clayton Rohner, Jay Baker, Deborah Goodrich, Ken Olandt, Leah King Pinsent, Amy Steel, Thomas F. Wilson

Screenplay: Danilo Bach

89 mins. Rated R.

 

Of all the interesting holiday-themed horror films to spring up from the success of films like Halloween, April Fool’s Day is probably the most interesting idea. It’s a film idea that, even on the surface, shouldn’t work very well, but this film created its cult following from its smart plotting and playful attitude. It’s only a question of whether or not it holds up after three decades.

aprilfoolsday1986b

Eight friends of the heiress Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman, Valley Girl, Lobster Men from Mars) gather for a weekend at her secluded island cabin to celebrate the last year of college. When secrets start to be uncovered from each of their pasts, a cold-blooded killer begins to do away with each of them in turn, but as April Fool’s Day is upon them, the gang can’t tell who’s pranking who, and who’s killing who.

April Fool’s Day may not be the most illustrious of horror films, but it is damn fun all the same. The campiness of pranks (though many involve murder strangely) combined with the horror aspects create a silly but altogether enjoyable film.

It helps to have genre favorites like Amy Steel (TV’s All My Children, Friday the 13th Part 2), Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water) and Ken Olandt (Leprechaun, Power Play) involved as well.

Again, I should point out, this movie wasn’t going to win any awards, but as far as enjoyable film experiences, I just can’t really fault this one. Sure, the characters are mostly stiff and flat, but the dialogue keeps the tension and tone regular. Sure, director Fred Walton (When a Stranger Calls, The Stepford Husbands) isn’t a good director, but he nails it on this particular project.

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April Fool’s Day is a great film to show your friends. It is a great movie-night movie. It is a fun experience best shared with others. Having your group take guesses at just what’s going on is the most fun, and I think that’s what it’s all been about, right?

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Happy 30th Birthday!] Highlander (1986)

 

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Cast: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, Roxanne Hart

Screenplay: Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood, Larry Ferguson

116 mins. Rated R for strong action violence, a scene of sexuality and some language.

 

Wow, 30 years since Highlander. 30 years since the Princes of the Universe. Damn.

Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert, Mortal Kombat, Hail, Caesar!) is an Immortal, a being destined to live forever in search of the illustrious “Prize.” The only way to die is to be killed by another Immortal. He has lived for hundreds of years, trained by mentor Ramirez (Sean Connery, Dr. No, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and is being hunted by an Immortal of pure evil called the Kurgan (Clancy Brown, TV’s Spongebob Squarepants, The Shawshank Redemption). Now, a beautiful cop named Brenda (Roxanne Hart, Letters of Iwo Jima, License to Wed) is hot on his trail in an attempt to discover exactly who or what he is.

I really wish I had more time to describe this film.

I absolutely love the lore behind the original Highlander. Christopher Lambert, who learned English just in time to portray Connor, is a terrific and very likable lead. He is matched by the majestic and goofy Sean Connery having a ton of fun as the Egyptian Immortal Ramirez. Clancy Brown is terrifying, oozing creep factor.

This is arguably Russell Mulcahy’s (TV’s Teen Wolf, Resident Evil: Extinction) most visually stunning film. The imagery is filled with gorgeous landscapes, sweeping battle scenes, and beautifully shot moments.

The soundtrack from Queen is intense and wondrous and fits this film so perfectly. Each song matches the tone of the scene just right.

Highlander is just right, and while the film has a few pacing issues early on, overall it is just an absolute blast to watch. It has the ability to pull me in and make me watch it multiple times in one sitting. It is just a fun time, pure and simple.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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