Lock Up (1989): #Watch1989

Lock Up (1989): #Watch1989

Lock Up original film art

Lock Up (1989)

Your body has to be here, but your mind can be anywhere.

As I watched my latest 1989 film, Lock Up, I began contemplating the future of the #Watch1989 enterprise. According to the original tenants of the program, my 1989 movie marathon would conclude on December 31st, 2019. At that time, however, I anticipated having felt some sense of closure. I’d have watched a few dozen movies from 1989, discovered some gems along the way and completed a handful of chapters (all of them?) in the manuscript about the Summer of 1989. Alas, reality has clubbed me upside the head as I’ve taken stock of my year of #Watch1989.

I’ve watched around 65 movies from that great year. But there’s so many left to watch. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve discovered some gems, but I also still have a bunch on my “must-watch” list that just haven’t been handled. I still haven’t seen My Left Foot, for example, and that’s a problem. Don’t talk about the manuscript. I got a new freelance job a few months ago and I’ve been struggling to make time with my own writing. So I went ahead and devoted a sleepless evening hyped up on non-drowsy antihistamines to watch Sylvester Stallone’s Lock Up (1989) which had just arrived from Netflix DVD.

Maybe I don’t need to put an expiration date on this, after all…

Netflix DVD Lock Up

Netflix DVD, those fine distributors of physical media, came through with a copy of LOCK UP, delivered to my door.

A Sylvester Stallone movie from the 1980s that I hadn’t seen? I suspect foul play based on reputation. Indeed, I’d never bothered with Lock Up due to it’s less than stellar reputation. And by less than stellar, I mean steaming pile of prison-cell fungus. That said, I’m still surprised I’d somehow sidestepped the movie entirely considering I watched everything indiscriminately during the late 1980’s.

While Lock Up plays like a stripped down Escape Plan (2013) prequel, it has the distinct benefit of featuring Stallone without a shred of self-awareness and a nefarious prison warden played by Donald Sutherland. Both hit all the predictable, necessary, and occasionally delicious 1980’s cinema beats. The result is a film that adheres to an outdated model of filmmaking, the delusional B-movie that masquerades as top-flight entertainment. We love the 1980s and the 1980s loves us back with entertaining mid-budget refuse like this.

Sylvester Stallone Lock Up

Sylvester Stallone confronts the bully (Sonny Landham) trying to take his lunch money in Lock Up (1989).

Shackle Your Disbelief

If we are to go along with Lock Up‘s absurd premise, we have to accept a series of absurd events that take place even before the events of this film. Sylvester Stallone’s Frank retaliated against a bunch of goons that beat the owner of the body shop in which he worked. That he was then incarcerated for a very long time and eventually escaped said prison because the warden (Donald Sutherland) committed unspeakable acts against his inmates. Instead of being fired, the warden gets reassigned to a hellhole maximum security prison where his further misdeeds can go even more unnoticed. The warden also exists in a prison system that would then somehow permit the transfer of the prisoner (from a minimum security facility) back into his custody.

I understand that our penal system is a shit show, (I read the New York Times and am therefore m’f’ing informed), but even this stretches the limits of the imagination.

Donald Sutherland Lock Up

Donald Sutherland as Lock Up’s evil Warden Drumgoole.

Warden Drumgoole launches an initiative to break Frank and cause him to do something that would result in his life imprisonment at his maximum security hellhole. He employs inmates to bully, intimidate, bait and torture Frank. He throws him in solitary whenever possible. I won’t reveal the straw that finally breaks Frank’s back, but it’s absolutely despicable. The lengths to which Drumgoole will go, give the film its only sense of surprise. Let’s face it. We know Frank’s going to get out. We know that somehow Sylvester Stallone is going to mug and grunt his way to freedom. The twist comes during the final act when you think just maaaaaybeeeee the Warden’s finally snared the fly in his web — and yet Sly evades him yet again. How he manages to escape an unwinnable scenario might also require some more suspension of disbelief (if you haven’t already exhausted it).

And you might shed a tear at what they do to a newly refurbished classic mustang.

Sylvester Stallone

Frank (Sylvester Stallone) picked the wrong day to quit knocking heads.

Lock Up Verdict

The director, John Flynn, made a name for himself making gritty 1970’s neo-noir like The Outfit (1973) and Rolling Thunder (1977). After a slow period to begin the 80’s, he wound up directing Lock Up and Out for Justice, a far cry from the kind of freedom he had been afforded.

Despite the intermittently laughable melodrama that speckles the Lock Up landscape, the movie finds it limited range and delivers a watchable exercise in “giving the bad guy what’s coming to him.” Stallone suffers constant physical and emotional torture — some of it rather undigestible and viscerally unnerving.

The supporting cast gives more than the movie’s worth — the cast of familiars like Tom Sizemore, Frank McRae and John Amos carry some of sly’s Sly acting burden. Oddly, when Stallone faces off against Donald Sutherland, their give and take styles (constant overt vs. underperformed rage) fit together like puzzle piece that someone mashed into place. It doesn’t work, but it kinda does if you don’t look too close — much like the entire movie.

If you’re the kind of person that enjoys Sylvester Stallone vanity projects for all the wrong reasons, you’ll definitely have some fun with Lock Up.

Check out some past #Watch1989 write-ups: Sea of Love / Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure / The Experts

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone strikes a statuesque pose in Lock Up (1989)

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. He hosts the Cinema Shame and #Bond_age_Pod podcasts. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Disclaimer: I earn rewards from DVD.Netflix.com, which has thousands of movies to choose from, many that you won’t find on streaming services. I do this because the availability of physical media is important. The popular streaming notion of “everything available all the time” is a myth. We are always our own best curators. #PhysicalMedia #DVDNation #ad

Hooptober Roundup: Double Time Recap

Hooptober Roundup: Double Time Recap

Between a glut of paying gigs, vacation, and holidays I’ve managed to stretch Hooptober into the Christmas season. That’s a first. Nobody’s reading because we’ve all moved on to the traditional “Die Hard is/isn’t a Christmas Movie” debate. That’s fine, too. I made a commitment to watch and review 31+ Horror Movies for the month of October. I’ve watched them all. Now here are the remaining reviews, told in hurried, one-paragraph fashion to satisfy your ho-ho-horror cravings.

#19. The Mummy (1932) – Karl Freund

the mummy 1932

Karl Freund’s wrangles light and shadow like he’s applying it with a paint brush. The love story that traverses multiple lifetimes gives this one its dramatic weight and Karloff’s undead love monster his humanizing baggage. I’d recommend The Mummy in any master class about using cinematography to cure all narrative ills.

 

#20. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – James Whale

Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein

Elsa Lanchester as The Monster’s Bride in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

I’ve always thought that the people who don’t appreciate James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein don’t see the humor in The Bride of Frankenstein. It’s a tale skillfully told — but it’s Whale’s ability to comment on the genre from within (something he did more overtly in The Old Dark House) that makes the film such a brisk romp.

 

#21. The Mummy’s Hand (1940) – Christy Cabanne

Hooptober The Mummy's Hand (1940)

Universal’s Mummy series loved to cut narrative corners. This constant familiarity allows the viewer to embrace each film’s eccentricities or dismiss them entirely as hack regurgitations without creative advancement. The Mummy’s Hand borrows the setup and footage from Freund’s 1932 effort but adds enough padding to make it feel fresh (enough). Easy to enjoy. Easy to forget tomorrow.

 

#22. Captive Wild Woman (1943) – Edward Dmytryk

Aquanetta in Captive Wild Woman (1943)

Aquanetta, mid-transformation, in Captive Wild Woman (1943)

The Universal well had clearly run dry when they conjured this pathetic excuse to transform another human into another animal. But but but this time it’s a woman! The horror elements become secondary concerns. The movie spends an inordinate amount of time engaging in animal cruelty and disturbing racial connotations. If there were something here more worth watching we’d have something to discuss.

 

Liliane Montevecchi in The Living idol (1957)

Parisian-born Liliane Montevecchi thinks she sees Jaguars around every corner in The Living idol (1957)

#23. The Living Idol (1957) – Albert Lewin, Rene Cardona

Gorgeous-looking Aztecploitation, oozing in Technicolor and wide-format location cinematography, but lacking anything in the story department. A woman may or may not be the reincarnation of an Aztec princess and jaguars may or may not be coming for her. This loose remake of Lewton’s Cat People gives us just enough to keep watching but not enough to distract us from the backdrop. Co-directed by the Cuban-born Rene Cardona — a central figure in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.

 

#24. Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) – Dario Argento

Hooptober Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

One of the few prime-era Argento holdouts on my viewing resume. Some wonderful imagery, visually inventive flourishes and a memorable Ennio Morricone score undermined by a predictable twist. I’m itching for another viewing despite its flaws.

 

#25. All the Colors of the Dark (1972) – Sergio Martino

Hooptober All the Colors of the Dark

Sergio Martino directed perhaps my favorite mindf#ck giallo Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (also starring the perpetually vexing Edwige Fenech). I picked this up during the last Severin Black Friday sale and I’ve been waiting all year (for no especially good reason) to watch it during Hooptober 2019. Perpetually needy and terrified Edwige finds herself stuck in a mental state between fact and fiction, unable to escape the grasp of a Satanic rape cult. Don’t attempt to strangle narrative from this psychosexual satanic panic film told through the perspective of an unreliable narrator. Just let the misdirection wash over you like Bruno Nicolai’s score.

 

#26. Leptirica (1973) – ?or?e Kadijevi?

Hooptober Leptirica

Mirjana Nikolic as the “She-Butterfly” in Djordje Kadijevic’s Leptirica (1973)

Just another made-for-TV Serbian folk horror film. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. A vampire-like menace attacks people in and around an old mill. No explanations given. Awkward light humor and a haunting and singular score. A few truly memorable images give Leptirica aka The She-Butterfly her bite.

 

#27. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) – Renny Harlin

Hooptober A Nightmare on Elm Street 4

I feel like “perfectly capable” is a solid recommendation for any horror sequel with a number greater than or equal to 4. In this entry Freddy Krueger becomes a nightmare wielding clown, but still retains the menace that made the original such an effective horror movie. What The Dream Master lacks in thrills, it makes up for with inventive kills and set pieces. Lisa Wilcox gives us an engaging protagonist that helps smooth over some of the hackneyed plotting.

 

#28. Vampire’s Kiss (1989) – Robert Bierman

Nicolas Cage in Vampire's Kiss (1989)

Nicolas Cage going full bonkers in Vampire’s Kiss (1989)

What the hell is Nic Cage doing? What is this accent? What is this laugh? It’s almost as bizarre as his creative choices in Peggy Sue Got Married — but that was an otherwise straight movie. This? Bizarre performance, perversely entertaining movie. Crazy Nic eating cockroaches and chasing pigeons with fake vampire teeth. The movie plays so dumb you don’t see final narrative shift coming. Vampire’s Kiss gets “smart” — and works because Cage’s highwire histrionics provides the necessary smoke and mirrors.

 

#29. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) – Stephen Hopkins

Hooptober A Nightmare on Elm Street 5

Hopkins gives this entry some flair, but the series is running on fumes. The film’s set pieces have become completely disengaged. Feel free to admire the creativity, but these sequences fail to contribute horror or forward momentum. It all feels watchable but perfunctory.

 

#30. The Church (1989) – Michele Soavi

hooptober the church (1989)

Demon hankypanky in Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989)

Overdue rewatch of a Michele Soavi classic and unofficial third act of Lamberto Bava’s Demons. Demon sex, possession, creepy gothic imagery, Keith Emerson score, young Asia Argento, and choice bits of goo. Always recommended.

 

#31. Popcorn (1991) – Mark Herrier

Hooptober Popcorn (1991)

Tom Villard tormenting Jill Schoelen in Popcorn (1991).

Would-be cult classic riffs on the same gag for 90 minutes. The homage to William Castle stunts makes for fun viewing, but it too-often wanders into (uninspired) traditional slasher territory. The best bits take place in the films within the film that make up the all-night horror marathon. As they were shot by the film’s original director, Alan Ormsby, I can’t help but think he might have had a better grasp of the offbeat tone and pacing. That said, Herrier shepherded the film to completion or maybe it wouldn’t have existed at all.

 

#32. Innocent Blood (1992) – John Landis

Robert Loggia Innocent Blood

Robert Loggia in John Landis’ Innocent Blood (1992)

My favorite part of Innocent Blood takes place when a car chase enters the Ft. Pitt tunnel but comes out on the south side of the Liberty. Robert Loggia sucking the scenery of blood as a vampire gangster makes this a winner.

 

#33. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) – Scott Glosserman

Nathan Baesel in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Nathan Baesel in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

I liked Cabin in the Woods, but this meta-horror movie actually dissects the genre *and* manages to sustain a consistently unsettling tone before unleashing its own effective slasher film. It’s about time I got around to this one considering The Cinemonster and I discussed this on the Cinema Shame podcast two years ago.

 

#34. Horror Noire (2019) – Xavier Burgin

horror noire (2019)

Straightforward, talking-heads doc about the Black American connections to the horror genre (and Hollywood as a whole). Essential viewing for horror fans — but I’m not sure it captivates the average moviewatcher without a pre-existing love for the genre.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober FINAL:

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) // #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) // #11. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) // #12. Pet Sematary (1989) // #13. Eaten Alive (1976) // #14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989) // #15. A Bucket of Blood (1959) // #16. The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) // #17. Revenge of the Creature (1955) // #18. The Creature Walks Among Us // #19. The Mummy (1932) // #20. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) // #21. The Mummy’s Hand (1940) // #22. Captive Wild Woman (1943) // #23. The Living Idol (1957) // #24. Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) // #25. All the Colors of the Dark (1973) // #26. Leptirica // #27. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master // #28. Vampire’s Kiss (1989) // #29. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child // #30. The Church (1989) // #31. Popcorn (1991) // #32. Innocent Blood (1992) // #33. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) // #34. Horror Noire (2019)

 

 

The Creature From the Black Lagoon: 31 Days of Horror

The Creature From the Black Lagoon: 31 Days of Horror

creature from the black lagoon poster#16. The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

Nature of Shame:
Unwatched Universal Blu-ray set

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1950’s
Pre-1970
Universal horror

Last year I began hosting spooky outdoor movies around Halloween and inviting my daughters’ friends and their families. This year we projected The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Would it go over as well as last year’s screening of The Blob (1958)?

For me, it was my first Creature viewing in nearly thirty years.

Sidenote: Now begins the furious, get-it-done approach to Hooptober/31 Days of Horror review blurbing. 

‘The Creature From the Black Lagoon’ Elevator Pitch

An expedition to the Amazon hopes to find more fossilized evidence of the link between man and fish.

the-creature-swims-in-the-lagoon

The underwater spectacle of The Creature From the Black Lagoon must have been a miraculous moviegoing experience.

Watching Creature With Kids and Their Adults

An interesting phenomenon developed halfway through the film. Kids were cheering for the monster, and the adults (who hadn’t seen it) were worrying more about the archaeologists who were trying to kill the creature.

Like most of the classic Universal horror films, the studio tapped into a unique sense of pathos for the “monster.” The monster became the aggressor when it felt threatened by the aliens who’d invaded its secluded home along the Amazon river.

The simple premise played well with the kids who kept cheering for the Creature as he dispatched one unlikable human after another.

Final ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’ Thoughts

Creature never become an essential for me in the same way as the Mummy or the Invisible Man. This viewing allowed me to focus on the gorgeous underwater cinematography and balletic swimming sequences that must have thrilled audiences in 1954. As a technical achievement The Creature From the Black Lagoon is a marvel of B-movie entertainment.

 

 

Creature from the Black Lagoon BlurayThe Creature From the Black Lagoon is available on Blu-ray from Universal along with its two sequels on the Complete Legacy Collection

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) // #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) // #11. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) // #12. Pet Sematary (1989) // #13. Eaten Alive (1976) // #14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989) // #15. A Bucket of Blood (1959) // #16. The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) // #17. Revenge of the Creature (1955) / #18. The Creature Walks Among Us

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

 

A Bucket of Blood: 31 Days of Horror

A Bucket of Blood: 31 Days of Horror

#15. A Bucket of Blood (1959)

a bucket of blood movie posterNature of Shame:
Beatnik horror/comedy? Yes, please.

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1950’s
Pre-1970
A Dick Miller jam

I’ve hit that mid-point. I no longer care about writing these reviews. This is a shame because I’ve watched all the damn Hooptober movies, but I’ve only logged half of my reviews. I should care less, write less and just finish. Eventually, you’ll probably get the totally half-assed rundown (fundown?) of everything else I watched this past October, but I haven’t yet reached that point. A Bucket of Blood arrived from Netflix DVD just in time for my Crystal Lake palette cleanse. Anything but Jason, please and thank you.

I don’t mean to spoil this review entirely, but as soon as I finished A Bucket of Blood, I went ahead and ordered the Olive Films Signature Edition Blu-ray. Either it pushed all the right buttons or I was destined to fall in love with the next movie that wasn’t about a machete wielding force of supernatural evil.

A Bucket of Blood from Netflix DVD

‘A Bucket of Blood’ Elevator Pitch

Dig this, man. This square cat, a busboy at a swingin’ cafe, eyeballs the scene and the chicks, but he’ll never cop a feel. After he accidentally wigs out and kills a stoolie pig he becomes made in the shade after turning the dead cop into a sculpture. After he gets hip to the scene, he needs to feed the beast to maintain his status as a certifiable Daddy-o. 

a bucket of blood

Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) unveils his final masterpiece.

‘Sculpting With Dead Things’ Doesn’t Have the Same Ring To It

Produced and directed by Roger Corman, A Bucket of Blood looks like a movie made for $50,000 in five days. The production even shared sets with Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors. Viewers unacquainted with Roger Corman’s oeuvre might consider this a detriment to the film’s production or entertainment values. There’s a distinct different between “cheap” and “crap.” “Crap” can come in any budget. Just as cheap can come in any flavor.

The movies Roger Corman made with screenwriter Charles B. Griffith, marked a new direction for the producer who’d never before dabbled in comedy. A Bucket of Blood not only satirizes Corman’s own filmography and the illogical world of art, but also the teen films of the era. Unlike many of those other beatnik teen films of the 1950’s, Blood doesn’t feel like a mimeographed movie made about kids by adults; it feels like a reasonable facsimile of the culture made without contempt.

a bucket of blood (1959)

Walter’s ascendency to king of the hepcats coincides with his newfound talent for “sculpting.”

At only 66 minutes, A Bucket of Blood‘s barely a main course. Corman’s purposeful pursuit of story in the name of efficiency eliminates the fat and focuses on our busboy’s accidental ascendance and ultimately fall from grace. AIP had given Corman the budget, a shooting schedule, and leftover sets from Diary of a Teenage War Bride (1959). Corman and Griffith concocted premise after a night of drifting in and out of beatnik coffeehouses. They married the culture with 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum and begat A Bucket of Blood.

Final ‘A Bucket of Blood’ Thoughts

Rapid-fire fun with a thoroughly engaging lead performance. Roger Corman’s low-budget zinger is the perfect #31DaysofHorror entry when fatigue sets in after too many soulless slashers.

The performances, particularly that of Dick Miller, carry the film’s comedic tone without resorting to redundancies like winking at the audience. I never thought I’d use the word measured to describe a Roger Corman production, but A Bucket of Blood moves forward at a measured pace that maintains consistent humor and its pithy commentary on the New York art culture.

 

 

A Bucket of Blood is available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.A Bucket of Blood Blu-ray from Olive Films

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) // #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) // #11. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) // #12. Pet Sematary (1989) // #13. Eaten Alive (1976) // #14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989) // #15. A Bucket of Blood (1959)

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Disclaimer: I earn rewards from DVD.Netflix.com, which has thousands of movies to choose from, many that you won’t find on streaming services. I do this because the availability of physical media is important. The popular streaming notion of “everything available all the time” is a myth. We are always our own best curators. #PhysicalMedia #DVDNation #ad

Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989): 31 Days of Horror

Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989): 31 Days of Horror

#14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989)

Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan posterNature of Shame:
YET ANOTHER UNSEEN FRIDAY THE 13TH. 

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s
#Watch1989

AT LAST. I’ve reached my goal. I had to watch through Part VIII to satisfy my personal requirements for my #Watch1989 marathon. (Thanks, DVD Netflix, for fueling this madness.) Huzzah. Calling this a pyrrhic victory would be generous. I spent 20 minutes at a bar struggling to differentiate between all 8 Friday the 13th movies. I had to rewind for some do-overs, but I hit my stride after the second pint of Imperial Stout.

friday the 13th part viii netflix dvd

‘Friday the 13th Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan’ Elevator Pitch

Right — lovely. So based on the title, Jason’s unleashed in Manhattan. What a wonderful premise! I can’t wait to hear more. 

Noooooo, no no no. Wait. This is even better. Jason’s stuck on board a high school party river cruise. Fish in a barrel!

Wait. So he’s not in New York City? 

Not until the very end! But trust me on this river cruise thing. It’ll be perfect. Die Hard on a river cruise! Except not Die Hard, but Friday the 13th!

Tell me one thing. Does Jason at least maul a boombox blasting rap music once he’s in New York City?

You know it!

Friday the 13th Jason Takes Manhattan skyline

Jason shakes his machete angrily at the skyline.

‘Jason Takes a Party Cruise’ Doesn’t Have the Same Ring To It

But then again, maybe “Jason Takes a Party Cruise” would have been appropriately reflective of how little Jason actually “takes” because it’s definitely not Manhattan. It also speaks to the dearth of creativity found in this eighth entry in the series. While I’m no apologist, I also can’t abide the critics who lament a rapid and steady decline of Friday the 13th from its glorious heights.

First of all, what glorious heights? And second of all, the original wasn’t well made nor was it all that entertaining. You want a solid slasher flick? Try Part II. If you want wild and entertaining, try Part VI. You want trashtastic? Part VII‘s got your number. If you’re a masochist, I recommend Part V.

If you’re looking at this series as a steady decline, you’re not actually watching the movies.

Reverting back to tired old teenage “types” and putting them aboard a party cruise for Jason to pick off one by one isn’t a bad premise. It at least tries to push the series beyond Crystal Lake. (If you’re a camper or vacationer aren’t you steering clear of that place by now?) Friday the 13th Part VIII seems content to go through the motions in the new and shiny locale that serves as a stand-in for invention.

Tom Caldecott and Jensen Daggett in Friday the 13th Part VIII

Jim (Tom Caldecott) and Rennie (Jensen Daggett) take on Jason in a nonsensical sewer throwdown.

The teenagers have no personality. Jason does Jason things. Worst of all, director Rob Heddon seems perfectly content to invoke a Freddy Krueger brand of illusionary, red herring dreamscape terror. Our “final girl” sees visions of young Jason around every corner. Heddon’s trying to humanize our inhuman evil, but it rings false because he does so in a way that invokes A Nightmare on Elm Street and concedes that Jason’s run out of momentum.

In Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan -- or does he?

In Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan — or maybe just a souvenir, like a I Heart NY t-shit.

Final ‘Friday the 13th Part VIII’ Thoughts

By the time Jason actually makes it to Manhattan, there’s no saving this movie. We’re only treated to this one image that hints at the promise of a movie called Jason Takes Manhattan. There’s no tension, no thrills, and no surprises. It’s a 100-minute slog that wears out its welcome after the first 30 and Jason doesn’t even sniff the ripe garbage of New York City until the one-hour mark.

 

 

friday the 13th blu-rayFriday the 13th Part VIII is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) // #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) // #11. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) // #12. Pet Sematary (1989) // #13. Eaten Alive (1976) // #14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989)

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Disclaimer: I earn rewards from DVD.Netflix.com, which has thousands of movies to choose from, many that you won’t find on streaming services. I do this because the availability of physical media is important. The popular streaming notion of “everything available all the time” is a myth. We are always our own best curators. #PhysicalMedia #DVDNation #ad

Martin Scorsese, The Big Picture & Content Culture

Martin Scorsese, The Big Picture & Content Culture

Let’s get make one thing clear, though. Martin Scorsese shouldn’t have to defend his suggestion that contemporary superhero movies aren’t “art.” (They’re not. They’re entertainment.) The attacks on his status as a supposed senile guardian of cinema is patently absurd. He’s one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema and one of the art form’s most sincere champions. But that doesn’t mean he wants to influence *your* taste in movies. He wants to make a point about how far the business has strayed. 

If you want a picture of where we are as a cinematic (content?) culture, read Martin Scorsese’s Opinion in the New York Times and the longer form analysis in Ben Fritz’s The Big Picture, which is equal parts hopeful and horrifying. Fritz uses the Sony email hack to take a peek behind the contemporary Hollywood decision-making process — which has more to do with potential profits from China and mass merchandising than it does with making good movies.

hollywood sign (made in china)

Hollywood — now built for China.

In highlighting the decline of the mid-budget movie in Hollywood, Ben Fritz stopped short of making one point that I thought was staring us in the face the whole time. Fritz described the failure of Sony’s mid-budget star vehicles that contributed to their decline as a profitable film studio. (Most of them starred Will Smith.) He didn’t pass any value judgments, however, and that speaks directly to something Scorsese said in his New York Times Opinion.

And if you’re going to tell me that it’s simply a matter of supply and demand and giving the people what they want, I’m going to disagree. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue. If people are given only one kind of thing and endlessly sold only one kind of thing, of course they’re going to want more of that one kind of thing.

Audiences miss the boat on certain movies. They always have. Whether it’s poor marketing, poor release timing, poor titles — quality has never equalled box office performance. That said, I believe recent audiences have been conditioned by the decided lack of quality in these mid-budget studio offerings. Excellent mid-budget slickly-produced entertainment like Edge of Tomorrow (2014) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2016) failed to find their deserving audiences, but can you blame audiences from being wary of buying a ticket for After Earth (2013)? Consider the kinds of movies we were watching at the box office 30 years ago and ask yourself if these would ever get made today. 

If you didn’t see THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015) it might be because studios failed to adequately recognize the value of the product. Or you hate fun.

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that as Hollywood has further distanced itself from a system of centralized artistic control — the producer or the director — it’s failed to deliver a consistent mid-budget product. Ben Fritz paints a picture of a system catering to the whims of its ego-driven stars rather than the filmmakers themselves. Fritz’s list of failures — with only a few exceptions — consists of objectively bad movies. It represents an industry that’s so afraid of short term losses it refuses to cede control to anyone but its biggest stars — as if Adam Sandler or Will Smith would carry the torch to a brighter future.

Between studio risk aversion and a crippling stream of abysmal star vehicles, fewer mid-budget movies were produced. The ones that did see the light of day drove the existing audience to TV and Netflix and Amazon Prime where they could find content driven by the kind of creative vision that once fueled a large portion of mainstream cinema. It’s an anti-communal version of the cinema Scorsese’s recalling with fondness and pure nostalgia. So when Martin Scorsese says he’s filled with “terrible sadness” about the state of our modern moviegoing culture, he’s not just posturing as a holier-than-thou artist. He’s looking back on his midnight trip to see Psycho and recognizing that that experience may have become extinct. 

Stranger Things Netflix

Watching STRANGER THINGS at home on your couch is nice, but are you going to remember that experience 60 years from now?

Scorsese goes out of his way to say Marvel movies just aren’t for him. Martin Scorsese also wants you to know that there’s other beautiful, imaginative, engaging cinema out there that has nothing to do with men in tights and/or capes — and those movies are in danger of disappearing from the mainstream entirely. That’s the crisis here — not that one of our greatest filmmakers doesn’t care about Captain America. 

I just needed to get that off my chest.