Posts Tagged ‘Ken Foree’

Movie Reviews 324 – From Beyond (1986)

December 15, 2017

Brian Yuzna had a hit on his hands when he co-produced with Charles Band the adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator teaming director Stuart Gordon with actors Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. So successful was this cult favorite that it really cemented the careers of all three. Daring to see if they could strike lighting again the entire ensemble reunited and brought us The Beyond, another Lovecraft short story. Lets just say that the bolts flew.

Admirer and acolyte of Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel), Crawford Tillinghast (Combs) concentrates his research activities on their shared theory on the existence of an interdimension coexisting with our own. He diligently helps Pretorius build a ‘resonator’ within the attic of their house laboratory while ignoring Pretorius’ late night proclivities in his sadomasochistic dungeon room. When Crawford finally manages to get it working one night he immediately realizes the unforeseen consequence of the breakthrough. While the device allows Crawford to see and interact with the various life forms in this new dimension it reciprocally allows those creatures to interact with this plane of existence And they are not a friendly. Luckily, while Crawford does get assaulted by them, he does barely manage to turn off the device in time suffering only minor wounds.

But once Pretorius hears that the resonator is functional he dismisses Crawford’s cautionary approach, an overconfidence that ends in Pretorius’ demise. But the state of the attic after the untimely death can only be explained as Crawford being responsible for Pretorius’ fate. Now in a mental institution, Crawford finds a believer in his extraordinary tale in Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Crampton) after she finds abnormalities in his pineal gland which corroborate his story. With the aid of Bubba (Ken Foree) a detective still working on the Pretorius case, she gets permission to bring Crawford back to the scene of the crime to help piece out the more abnormal aspects of the mystery. There they find Pretorius alive, but far from well. Having traversed to the other side, Pretorius now wants to fully consume everything in his former dimension and for that he needs to keep the resonator turned on.

The adoption of the pineal gland as a plot device is not accidental as its bodily function  introduces a sexual context to the story. And with the added presence of the sultry Crampton you can bet that the script makes ample use of Pretorius’ dungeon and all the accoutrements therein. Almost shockingly, those scenes aren’t even the standouts in this film as the special effects crew deliver a bevy of fantastic creatures, makeup and animatronics. The only critical aspects are some of the now very dated CGI, but thankfully those are used to a much smaller degree than the live action props.

The third act deals with the spectre of Pretorius making the resonator almost sentient and adopting a self-survival instinct countering the efforts of Katherine and Bubba all while Crawford battles his ever growing pineal gland extruding his forehead. All gruesome stuff combining brain matter, electroshock, and flesh eating ooze.

Anyone who enjoyed Re-Animator will be right at home with this one. The third installment that this same team of creators reunited for one last time to create the final entry of this Lovecraft trilogy is 1995’s Castle Freak. As I’ve never seen it I cannot comment but from what I understand it is a much more serious adaptation so it would depend on particular tastes as to how fans of the first two films will react to that one.

People like myself who sieve through most of the credits will pick up that comic creator Neal Adams worked on the visuals for this film although to what extent I cannot say. But the visual are a feast which deserves kudos for the effects artists who unfortunately are obscure given that most of the movie was filmed in Italy and he mostly Italian crew included those effects artists.

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Movie Reviews 40

January 20, 2012

Otis (2008)
Up until the mid point this movie appeared to be a run of the mill story about a idle brained man named Otis who kidnaps young girls and keeps them hostage in a hidden bunker under his home. Pretty boring and conventional until he kidnaps one particular girl from a very dysfunctional family. First get to see an inept and uncouth cop bumble the investigation as he deals with the girls family as they await a phone call from the abductor. But he movie takes a definite uptick once Otis’ latest abductee manages to flee and makes contact with her family. The girls mom (Illeanna Douglas) makes one request to her daughter before letting the cops know of her escape and coming to her aid. She requests that the girl not reveal any information about her abductor or where he lives. It is immediately evident that her mom and family plan to avenge the crime themselves rather than handing over Otis to the bumbling cops and the justice system. And as soon as the family make it to Otis’ house the fun and gore really starts. Sure you can see where this movie is going every step of the way. But who cares? Getting there is not half the fun, it’s all the fun.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
I loved this somewhat obscure movie when I first saw it years ago. On the face of it, it is comprised of some the oddest of combinations you could ever imagine. It’s a mob story in which one of their ‘go to’ hit men is a young black apprentice samurai practitioner (Forest Whitaker) who can only be contacted by carrier pigeon from one of the mobsters. He is in league with the mob as a result of being rescued by one of mob guys while being beaten up on the streets as a young kid. Pledging allegiance and loyalty to that one mobster, he finds himself at the mobsters beck and call while maintaining his identity secret from the others. It also helps that his devotion to learning the Way of the Samurai makes him one hell of a crack shot. But when a particular hit goes awry and crosses mob allegiances the head mobster (Henry Silva) has to put the cross hairs on the young hit man. But first they have to try to find out who he is. Part of the beauty of this film is that the mobsters are depicted as bumbling old time mafioso gang reinforcing every stereotype and cliche imaginable. Our young hit man however is a docile, thought provoking, well read neighborhood philosopher whose best friend is a uni-lingual french speaking Haitian ice-cream vendor. It’s comedy, drama, a sprinkling of Samurai philosophical quotes and a whole lot more I’m not even going to begin to explain. Jim Jarmusch directed this underrated title, which explains a lot if you‘re familiar with his other movies like Down by Law and Coffee and Cigarettes. But you’ve gotta see it to believe it.

Brotherhood of Blood (2007)
A group of vampire hunters are on the heels of a vampires clan (natch!) as the try to get back one of the group members brother who’s been nabbed by the clan. The brother, an archaeologist had stumbled upon some Egyptian murals that tell the story of some ancient battle between a vampires and the Devil. But the Devil was was ‘confined’ either during or right after that long ago battle. That is until he was supposedly unleashed into the body of the archaeologist. All very convoluted and I barely figured it all out towards the end at which point the ‘surprise ending’ wasn’t a surprise at all. Sid Haig and Ken Foree, both veterans of much better horror movies star in this one, but neither are really the prime roles and put in screen time only slightly above a ‘cameo’ category. I’ve certainly seen worse movies than this, but it certainly could have been a whole lot better as well. Actually, the directors, two guys who I will mercifully not name (look them up yourself) also teamed up again the following year for Alone in the Dark II, a movie panned even more than this one. I think they finally learned their lesson as the have not returned to direct again. Stay on the sideline boys.

Thirst (2009)
A unique J-Horror vampire tale in which a well meaning young priest volunteers to be part of an experiment in which doctors are trying to find a cure to a deadly disease. He becomes the only test subject to survive the trial drugs and in doing so becomes something a holy symbol to all manner of people seeking cures to their ailments. But all that is minor flotsam as the more evident outcome of the experimentation has made the priest a vampire, although still a good person. But the movie really kicks into high gear as the priest falls for a young woman who, once an abandoned child, has been adopted by an elder woman friend of the priest. The elder woman’s son has also ‘married’ the young girl, who seems more a prisoner and servant to the elder woman and her ‘husband’. At first the priest and the young girl have a simple affair but nothing in such a convoluted relationship remains simple for long. Things take an abrupt turn for the worse when the young woman learns of the priest’s true nature after the priest tries to ‘save’ the girl. Part comedy, part tragic, part drama, part horror, this has a little bit something for everyone.