Film Review: Venom (dir. by Ruben Fleischer)


VenomPosterAbout 20 years ago, a friend and I walked out of a movie theatre for some pizza. On the way to the Pizzeria, I raved about the movie we just watched.  The effects were awesome, and the main character was bad ass. My friend didn’t share the same sentiment, and over the dinner, he went on to explain everything that was wrong with the film. Bad CGI (for its time), 2 Dimensional Characters, and a pretty simplistic plot. By the end of my dinner, all of my joy was sucked away. I wanted to believe, deep down that I walked into a quality production, but there was so much room for improvement.

That film was Mark Dippe’s Spawn.

I mention this because after seeing Ruben Fleischer’s Venom, Spawn was the first film that came to mind. That makes sense, given that a lot of Venom’s genesis is from artist Todd McFarlane, who also created Spawn (and gave Spider-Man some of the best webbing I’ve ever known). There are parts of Venom I truly enjoyed, and I can say that there isn’t much of a problem with the acting on anyone’s side.  However, the levels of boredom in the film’s first hour will have you wanting to bring in a highly caffeinated drink to sip on, just to stay awake. The lady next to me yawned, which made me yawn and it just cycled through the audience. The good sequences are already visible in the trailers.

Here’s a clip of Venom from the Ultimate Spider-Man Video Game (easily recommended) to give you a rough idea of how he is.

From a plot standpoint, Venom does a good job in giving us a story for how Eddie Brock and his Symbiote meet without factoring in Spider-Man at all. Comic readers remember the Secret Wars, where Spider-Man lost his suit and picked up a symbiote replacement. When the Symbiote proved dangerous, Peter Parker got rid of it and it fell into the hands of his former Daily Bugle nemesis, Eddie Brock. Together, they formed Venom, a beast with all of Spider-Man’s powers and Brock’s hatred of Parker. Venom plagued Spider-Man, who was incredibly dangerous because he was one of the few villains that didn’t set of Parker’s Spidey Sense. He could sneak up on him at any time, assume the likenesses of other people, and Parker would never see him coming.

The Sony Spider-Man series changed this up in Spider-Man 3, replacing the Secret Wars with more of a Blob-like story. Symbiote crashes to Earth, finds Parker. Parker decides to rip it off and it finds Brock.  In this new version of Venom, symbiotes already exist in space, and a corporation lead by Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) are trying to bring them to Earth to intermingle with humans. When investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) stumbles on the corporation’s evil plans, he accidentally joins with a symbiote and finds himself with a near insatiable hunger for the living.

You have the best 2 in 1 team up since Leigh Wannell’s Upgrade. I would not be opposed to a sequel for this if they tightened up the writing. Maybe that’s my problem. Both Upgrade and Venom are similar, but only one had an interesting character that looked like Tom Hardy (sorry, but Logan Marshall-Green does bear a resemblance).

Ruben Fleischer’s (Zombieland, Gangster Squad) direction is okay here. With Cinematographer Matthew Libatique (Iron Man, Black Swan) at his side, Venom doesn’t have many problems there. With the exception of the final confrontation, the shots aren’t too blurry or hard to track when the action starts. Even though Venom is a visibly dark character, I couldn’t complain that scenes weren’t well-lit.

For me, the problem with Venom is that at an hour and 52 minutes, it feels like the first hour is just waiting for that symbiosis to occur. Eddie Brock doesn’t really become interesting until Venom appears (also voiced by Hardy), and that’s a rough thing to say, given the cast involved. We’ve both seen Hardy, Ahmed and Michelle Williams in better roles, but they really aren’t given any real meat here. The dialog is a little shaky in some places. Hardy pushes himself hard here, and you see how disjointed Brock gets as he adjusts to the changes. Brock as a character, however, doesn’t really have a lot going for him. Neither did Peter Parker or maybe even Steve Rogers, but there were elements about who they were that helped you to appreciate who they be became as superheroes.  Steve Rogers was a weakling with a good spirit, which made him a better Captain America. Peter Parker was a chemical whiz kid and came up with his own web-fluid. Brock just…well, reports. There’s a lot of boredom in that first hour. The best scenes are the interactions between Venom and Brock, full of cute banter. It’s like having an unwelcome guest wanting to meet your parents. It just took so long to get to that point. When it does, however, the movie improves. They do manage to get a lot right about what Venom can do.

The CGI in Venom is definitely good in some places. It stands as the best argument for another remake of The Blob. The symbiotes are creepy in their design and motion, slithering up walls and making their way through vents. Venom, in all it’s glory, is quite a sight to behold, towering over humans. It goes a little overboard over the last 3rd of the film. I can’t say I knew for sure what it was I was looking at, but that’s to be expected with some superhero films.

If you see the film, stay for the mid-credits scene, which teases a future character. Also stay for a near 5 minute sneak peek into Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.

Overall, if you feel you have to see it in a theatre, by all means, do so. If you can wait for it to come out on Digital, that may be the best route.

Review: Predator 2 (dir. by Stephen Hopkins)


Predator 2

Like any successful genre film, Predator would remain in the consciousness of filmgoers during the late 80’s. The film was that popular and successful. This also meant that the studio who produced and released the film were more than happy to try and replicate what made them a lot of money.  So, a sequel was quickly greenlit within the halls of 20th Century Fox.

Yet, despite the success the first film was able to garner despite some major production problems, this time around luck wasn’t with Predator 2. The follow-up film would have different production issues than the first but they would affect the film in the long run.

First off, John McTiernan wouldn’t be on-board to direct the sequel. His back-to-back successes with Predator and Die Hard has suddenly made him a coveted action director. His schedule would keep him from directing Predator 2 as his slate was already full with The Hunt for Red October being his next film. In comes Stephen Hopkins to helm the sequel.

Yet, the biggest blow to the production would be not being able to get Arnold Schwarzenegger to return in the role of Dutch, the sole survivor of the elite rescue team from the first film. As with most stars and sequels, this time it would be over a salary dispute that would keep Arnold from returning so in comes Danny Glover to take on the sequel’s lead role.

Now, Danny Glover has more than pulled his own action film weight with two Lethal Weapon films already under his belt, but in terms of on-screen charisma he would be a major downgrade from the presence Schwarzenegger provided the first film. But Glover was more than game to take on the role of Lt. Harrigan of the LAPD as the setting for the sequel moves from the steaming jungle canopy of Central America to the blistering asphalt and concrete jungle of gang-ridden Los Angeles.

This change in location made for an interesting take as it helped establish some world building that showed these Predators have visited Earth many times in the past and not just in the faraway jungles but more towards areas and places rife with conflict. We learn that it hunts those who have survived the conflicts of the area they’re in. Only the strongest for these extraplanetary hunters.

Unlike, the original film, Predator 2 fails in not having a cast of characters that the audience could empathize and root for. This follow-up is mostly about action and even more gore than the first. Even the opening sequence tries to one-up the jungle shooting scene from the first film, yet instead of shock and awe the sequence just seems loud and busy,

Predator 2 suffers from a lot of that as the film feels more than just a tad bit bloated. The Thomas brothers (Jim and John) who wrote the original film return for the sequel but were unable to capture lightning in a bottle a second time around. Where the first film was very minimalist in it’s narrative and plot, the sequel goes for the throw everything in but the kitchen sink approach. We have warring drug gangs, inept police leadership, secretive government agencies with their own agendas.

What does work with Predator 2 and has made it into a cult classic as years passed was the very worldbuilding I mentioned earlier. We learn a bit more of this predator-hunter. While some comes as exposition from Gary Busey’s special agent role Peter Keyes, the rest comes from just seeing the new look of this particular Predator courtesy of special effects master Stan Winston.

The biggest joy for fans of the films comes in an all-too-brief scene showcasing the trophy case of the Predator inside it’s spacecraft. Within this trophy case are the skulls of the prey it’s hunted and killed. One skull in particular would ignite the imagination of scifi action fans worldwide. It’s a skull of a xenomorph from the Alien franchise. It made fans wonder if the two films were part of a larger tapestry. Both properties were owned by 20th Century Fox, so there was a chance and hope that the two meanest and baddest alien creatures on film would crossover together.

It would be many, many years before such a team-up would happen. Even when it finally did fans of the franchises would be let down with what they get after waiting for over a decade.

Predator 2 could be seen as trying to make lightning hit the same patch twice or it could be seen as a quick cash grab by a studio seeing a potential franchise. Both are true and without its two biggest stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger and John McTiernan, returning to reprise their roles for the sequel the film was already behind the eight-ball before filming began.

While the follow-up had some interesting new ideas that helped round out the Predator as one of film’s greatest onscreen villains, it also failed to capitalize on those ideas in a creative way. There’s some good in Predator 2, but way too much baggage and too much bad to have it live up to the success and popularity of the original.

Review: The Hunt for Red October (dir. by John McTiernan)


The Hunt for Red October

Fresh off the success of his two previous films, The Predator and Die Hard, John McTiernan was now tasked with adapting one of the 1980’s most popular novels with Tom Clancy’s debut techno-thriller, The Hunt for Red October.

By 1990, the year the film was released, Gorbachev had thawed the Cold War that existed between East and West. The Berlin Wall was months away from being torn down and glasnost became the word of the day for most people who knew nothing but the spectre of nuclear annihilation hanging over their heads since before born.

It was during the final years of the Cold War that an insurance salesman with a penchant for military and spy thrillers tried his hand in writing one. this first attempt became a worldwide sensation and was quickly put up in a bidding war by all the major studios. It would be Paramount Pictures who would win to adapt The Hunt for Red October for the big-screen and John McTiernan would be hired to steer the film.

While Sean Connery would ultimately be cast in the main role of Soviet submarine Marko Ramius, he wasn’t the first choice. German actor Klaus Maria Brandauer was originally cast but ended up leaving production a coupe weeks into production due to prior commitments. So, in comes Connery and the rest, as they would say, is history.

The thing about film adaptations of popular novels has been how much of the novel could the filmmakers, especially the screenwriter, be able to fit into a film that would run around 2 hours or so. Some cutting of scenes that fans loves would have to be done and depending on the scenes in the novel, a backlash could begin against the film even before filming was completed.

Fortunately, this was Hollywood in the late 1980’s and there was no such thing as the internet as we know of it today. There were no blogs dedicated to reporting on every minute detail of a film production. No amateur film newshound bringing up unsubstantiated rumors of the going’s on during a film’s production. This was still a Hollywood who controlled how news of their activities were going to be reported and what they decided to tell and show reporters.

This would be a boon for McTiernan’s The Hunt for Red October since the film had some major help from not just the U.S. Navy, but from the Department of Defense in trying to make sure the film was as realistic as possible in portraying the life of American submariners, Naval personnel and how the intelligence community in the West operated. Again, this was also with the film portraying all these groups in a much more positive light in return for their assistance.

In today’s world, such a compromise from the filmmakers to gain the help from the military-intelligence apparatus would be akin to some as perpetuating warmongering and glorifying the military. I could see blogs shouting for boycotts if such a thing happened nowadays.

But returning to the film The Hunt for Red October, for a straight-by-the-numbers thriller it still brings a certain surprise and inventiveness in the action-thriller genre that other filmmakers decades later would try to emulate (Crimson Tide and the many Jack Ryan-based films). Despite a Russian accent that really was cringe-worthy even when first heard, Sean Connery made for a charismatic and sympathetic Marko Ramius whose reasoning for defecting with the titular submarine Red October went beyond just the politics of the era.

Backing him up was a strong ensemble cast with a very young Alec Baldwin in the role of Jack Ryan, James Earl Jones as his boss CIA director Adm. James Greer and Sam Neill and Scott Glenn as Cmdr. Borodin and Capt. Mancuso. The film goes in heavily into Clancy’s love for technobabble and military jargon, yet the actors involved seemed very game and convincing in acting out the dialogue that would sound ridiculous is just read without context and understanding.

While the film does sacrifice some of the more political maneuverings in the book, which meant less scenes with Richard Jordan as National Security Advisor Dr. Pelt, it does streamline the film to be more action-oriented. It was a shame they went that way in which parts of the novel to cut out since Jordan’s performance as Dr. Pelt was one of the highlights of the film, despite his limited screentime.

In terms of action, The Hunt for Red October proved once again that McTiernan knew how to handle both tension and action in equal measure. He makes the cat-and-mouse battle between the Soviet and American subs seem as thrilling as any fast-paced dogfight scenes that thrilled filmgoers when Top Gun premiered on the bigscreen.

Even the film’s orchestral score from the late and great composer Basil Poledouris would lend the film a certain level of martial prowess that Poledouris’ compositions were known for. Even after many viewings it’s still difficult not to hum the film’s Soviet national hymn-inspired theme.

While The Hunt for Red October was one of the last films of the Cold War-era that still showed the tug-of-war between the East and West, it was a fitting end to a part of Hollywood’s cinematic history that portrayed Communism, especially that of the Soviet Union, as the big go-to Enemy that made action movies of the 80’s so popular with the Reaganite crowd.

The success of this film would begin a cottage industry of sequels featuring the character of Jack Ryan who would be portrayed in subsequent films by none other than Everyman himself Harrison Ford then in a miscasting in a later sequel by Ben Affleck.

“Black Panther” : Hail To The King


Let’s be honest — as was the case with last year’s Wonder Woman (in fact probably to an even greater degree), Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon before it was even released, and in future it will be examined as such. As something more than a movie. As something that resonated within, and reverberated throughout, the zeitgeist. Its trajectory in that regard is largely unwritten to this point, but can be predicted with a fair amount of certainty : near-universal praise will come first, followed by the inevitable backlash, followed by an almost apologetic, “ya know, maybe we were too hard on this thing that we loved at first” sort of acceptance. If we could just skip all that, and take it as a given, it would save us all a lot of time and effort — but it’s on the way, so tune in or out of all that as you see fit. My concerns here are considerably more prosaic : to talk about the movie as what it began “life” as, to wit — “just” a movie.

For what it’s worth (which may not be much), I’m tempted to agree, to an extent, with those who are pointing out that simply seeing this flick is in no way an act of “resistance” in and of itself : after all, if the fact that the first thing that runs in theaters before the film starts is a commercial for Lexus cars featuring Chadwick Boseman in full Panther gear isn’t enough to clue you in to the reality that, at the end of the day, this is much more about profits than it is about politics, then the product placement within the film itself should do the job — and at the end of the day, one of the largest corporations in the world, founded by noted racist Walt Disney, is still the one making all the money off it. If, then, shelling out ten or fifteen bucks to watch Black Panther is an inherently defiant or dissident act (and I’m not saying it is), then it’s a highly commodified and co-opted one.

All that being said, when a film is released out into the world, particularly a film with as much fanfare attached to it as this one, there are gonna be ripples that emanate out from it — and among the millions of kids, in particular, who watch this flick, the seeds of an interest in African culture are sure to be sown, and the more they follow the metaphorical stalks that grow and flower from those seeds, the more they’ll discover things like historical resistance to colonialism, exploitation, capitalism, and the like. So while Black Panther may not be a radical (or even a particularly political) work in and of itself, it may inspire some radicalism in the future — one can only hope, at any rate.

But that’s pure speculation at this point, so let’s talk about what we know for certain.

One thing anyone who follows this site, or my work anywhere else, absolutely knows is that I’m no fan of Marvel Studios product in general. Unlike, apparently, most people, I find the overwhelming majority of Marvel flicks to be hopelessly redundant, formulaic, lowest-common denominator fare directed in a flat and lifeless “house style” with no particular visual flair, no particularly standout performances, no particular vision to do anything but get audiences keyed up for the next one. They exist as a self-perpetuating celluloid organism, one with no distinct personality but a lot of business sense and promotional muscle. This has been going on for so long, and with so much box office success, that I went into flick essentially expecting more of the same — sure, I knew it had a predominantly-black cast, and was set in Africa (albeit in a fictitious country), but that doesn’t mean that director Ryan Coogler was going to break the mold in any appreciable way. Hell, it doesn’t even mean that he would be allowed to do so. Happily, my pessimism was turned on its ear almost from word the word “go” here.

Black Panther looks different, feels different, because it is different. Coogler and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole certainly capture the dynamism, the energy, the Afro-futurism that has been a part of King T’Challa’s backstory since Jack Kirby created the character and his world (nope, we don’t lay any credit at Stan Lee’s feet around these parts, but I’m not getting into the “whys and wherefores” of that right now because, shit, I don’t have all night), but advance it all considerably, absorbing the extra layers added onto the mythos by the likes of Don McGrregor, Billy Graham, Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates over the years, and coming out with something uniquely suited to cinema and very much of the “now.” There’s a hard-driving and kinetic sense of energy to this film that the so-called “MCU” has been missing since it inception, and if you’re among the small number of those who agree with my assessment that most of these flicks play out more like two-hour TV episodes than proper movies, you can relax : this is as bold, brash, and big as it gets. This is blockbuster fare not only in name, but in execution, with visual effects that amaze, sets that inspire awe, cinematography that commands attention, action that sizzles, a script that charges forward, and music that slicks that trajectory along. This is arresting cinema that doesn’t even give you the option to leave your seat.

But what of the acting, you ask? It ranges from good to great, and thankfully the great includes the key players : Chadwick Boseman is regal yet human, fallible, relatable in the film’s central role: Forest Whitaker embodies aged wisdom tinged with regret as high priest Zuri; Michael B. Jordan is the first truly formidable villain, crucially one with a compelling backstory and some entirely valid philosophical viewpoints, as Killmonger; Martin Freeman not only reprises, but considerably expands, his already-extant “MCU” role of CIA agent Everett K. Ross with heart, humor, and brains; Sterling K. Brown makes the most of limited but significant screen time as T’Challa’s late uncle, N’Jobu; Andy Serkis — as a human this time! — chews up the screen with dangerous charm as Ulysses Klaue (or “Klaw,” as the comics would have it). These guys are all tops, really. And yet —

It is the women that carry this film. Whether we’re talking about Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s love interest Nakia, a determined, fiercely independent, and soulful force that isn’t just her partner’s “equal,” but his conscience; Danai Gurira as General Okoye, head warrioress of the Dora Milaje, who embodies martial discipline and loyalty with the controlled fury of a hurricane ready to strike at any moment; Angela Basset as Queen Mother Ramonda, a living embodiment of grace, stature, and tradition; or Letitia Wright as younger sister Shuri, part “Q” to T’Challa’s “Bond,” part grounding and humanizing influence, part Moon Girl-style intellectual prodigy — as in life, it is the women that both make this movie’s men what they are, while also being complete and fully-realized in and of themselves. African history is far less patriarchal than is commonly believed, and in Wakanda that proud matriarchal lineage is exemplified, modernized, magnified — and honored.

Most films reflect the moment. Others define the moment. Black Panther goes one further by creating the moment. It’s as near to flawless as big-budget blockbusters get and eschews the too-common-flaw that movies made on this scale have of dumbing things down to appeal to the masses. Coogler and company instead trust those same masses to be intelligent enough to meet them on their level, and to respond to being talked “up,” rather than “down,” to. By believing that the world was not just ready, but eager, for something that goes far beyond mere spectacle — something that challenges the intellect while speaking to the heart — they have woken what could very well be a sleeping giant.

Now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed they’ve spurred that giant to do something more than simply go out and buy luxury cars.

Late Night Cable Review: Cinderella’s Hot Night (2017, dir. Dean McKendrick)


Ever wanted to watch Dean McKendrick and some of his usual late night cable actors try to spoof a Hallmark movie? I’m glad I have now.

You could take that title card, put in the title of a Hallmark movie, and not have to change anything else about it.

The movie starts off with narration from Christine Nguyen. She introduces us to the prince of Cratonia named Steven (Kyle Knies). Steven’s father is not happy about his son being a bachelor.

Sarah Hunter is his secretary named Samantha. She shows up to tell the audience that there is going to be some business dealings with an American company, so that he will have an excuse to meet Cinderella.

The movie wastes no time cutting to Cindy (Karlie Montana) who works at Universal Imports. She’s not having the best of days. At least she isn’t getting fired for wearing that top to work.

In fact, her boss Patrick (William F. Bryant) is concerned about her, and invites her into his Godfather office.

Why does he have that?

Also, I guess he didn’t live happily ever after with Kira Noir at the end of The Deadly Pickup (2016).

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

As you can read, she is getting kicked out of her apartment. Her boss does what any good boss would do to make sure an intern doesn’t lose their position by having to get a job. He gives her a spare room at his house.

Patrick could die tomorrow, and no one where he lives would care.

Then we meet his wife, Mona, played by Beverly Lynne.

That’s a face you can trust. She plays the wicked stepmother character.

They have a butler who has a name within the film, but I think his stage name will do just fine.

If I had to sum-up Regis’ character in this film, then it would be like the maî·tre d in Barbara Broadcast (1977). That guy has to be given a blow job by any waitress or costumer who drops dishes, a glass, or a vase–anything breakable. He doesn’t seem to get any pleasure from it. It’s part of the job for him. He really seems to just want to go about his business managing the restaurant.

Barbara Broadcast (1977, dir. Radley Metzger)

That’s Regis. With that in mind, it has been a whole five minutes of runtime.

By the time they shot this film, Lynne was 43 years-old. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see her get a scene. You don’t usually see that in one of these late night cable movies.

Immediately after they finish, Patrick shows up to tell us that his company will have some dealings with the prince.

What’s missing? We have Cinderella. We have the wicked stepmother. We have the father who sometimes is part of the Cinderella story. It’s the stepsisters we need.

Enter Grace (Blair Williams) and Sylvia (Penny Pax). This isn’t the Emma Marx from the first film. This is Penny Pax circa the sequels to The Submission Of Emma Marx (2013).

They’re exactly what you would expect–ditzy and entitled.

Patrick tells them Cindy is coming, and we move onto the next scene.

And that is all you need to see of the next scene. That is all there is to it. This is the only time they meet until much later. This quick, casual, and super-short scene.

Wait a second, this place was burned to the ground in Paranormal Sexperiments (2016).

Paranormal Sexperiments (2016, dir. Terrance Ryker)

Paranormal Sexperiments (2016, dir. Terrance Ryker)

I don’t like it when different films that use the same sets break continuity.

Patrick brings Cindy home. She gets the reception you would expect from the sisters.

Penny Pax, presumedly because she’s sick of her dress causing her to blend in with the bed…

grabs Regis, and drags him to another room. They must really expect privacy in this house because they never close the door.

It even appears to have confused one of the actors or crew members, because they get caught in this shot.

I was confused too. The movie was expecting me to get into this sex scene with those three pink dogs in the background? I couldn’t stop looking at them throughout this part.

The next morning, they make an immigration joke…

before Patrick tells us he is going to hop a plane to go see Steven on his native movie-set.

To quote Christine Nguyen, Cindy has been left in a “den of vipers.” I think Cindy is wondering about that statue behind her. I certainly was.

They make Cindy fetch a bottle of wine.

After arriving in Cratonia, Patrick and Samantha hit it off well. They have sex…

we see an Instagram photo…

and Patrick dies along with everyone onboard the plane.

Christine Nguyen tells us this via voiceover narration in a very nonchalant and upbeat way.

Oh, well. Goodbye, Patrick. We hardly knew you.

Anyways, Nguyen finally decides to show up as Cindy’s fairy godmother.

Cindy’s main problem is that she is lonely. With a little magic, Cindy’s fairy godmother is naked, and ready to pleasure Cindy.

That’s because even James Franco had his mind blown in Interior. Leather Bar. (2013) about the fact that he could be making a movie with pornographic sequences in it and the Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) at the same time.

It makes sense that these two would end up together. They already did this in a previous movie.

College Coeds vs. Zombie Housewives (2015, dir. Dean McKendrick)

I have two problems with this scene.

The first is that picture of a pineapple on the wall. The second is the tiara. It’s a little difficult to pay attention when you keep wondering how that is going to stay on.

Mona now visits a cameo appearance by Ryan Driller in order to find out that her husband was in a lot of debt, and she’s stuck with it. This part only exists so they can’t pay Regis to stay around, and can con Cindy into doing their bidding in exchange for continuing to stay with them. That’s how she is going to slip into the standard Cinderella role.

We also find out that Regis comes from Iowa and is probably going end up shoveling pig shit.

“Pig shit” must be the magic phrase though, because Grace decides to have sex with him before he leaves.

Now we can skip over some things because it’s the standard Cinderella stuff. The only thing you need to know is that Steven decides to hold a New Year’s Eve party in America.

Cindy has a shower scene so she can have a couple of flashbacks. One of the two flashbacks is to the only time Steven and her have been in a room together up to this point. It’s as if they felt they needed to remind you that they even know each other.

Moaning about not being able to go to the ball, a visit from The Fairy Godmother, and we are at the party.

I beg to differ. What about that tattoo on her arm?

Inside, you know the deal. Hi there, guy on the right.

She ends up running away from the party and The Fairy Godmother’s magic is faulty as usual. It leaves one of the shoes intact.

Steven wants her tracked down, and he’ll creep out Sarah Hunter if he has to in order to find her.

He arrives at what appears to be the entrance to a different house that was used in Bikini Model Mayhem (2015).

Bikini Model Mayhem (2015, dir. Jon Taylor)

Bikini Model Mayhem (2015, dir. Jon Taylor)

After you get over the red Buddha sitting next to a plant in the shape of hair on a troll doll, he has found her. They consummate the shoe fitting.

They live happily ever after.

Mona and her daughters are turned into “scullery maids.”

And I guess Regis went back to Iowa. He gets no closure in this film.

That was different from the usual. The acting is fine all-around. They really did take a generic Hallmark plot and add sex to it. I didn’t like seeing Penny Pax play this kind of character. However, if you haven’t seen her play Emma Marx, then I can’t see it bothering you. The sex stuff was fine even if they really should have taken some of the humorous things out of the room. I mean I liked them for the purposes of having fun with this movie. But if you are watching it for the sex, then I could see it being distracting, and taking you out of the moment. The plot is Cinderella. You know the story.

This one is about average.

Late Night Cable Horror Review: Paranormal Sexperiments (2016, dir. Terrance Ryker)


The movie opens up with a shot of a house from Erotic Vampires Of Beverly Hills (2015) and College Coeds vs. Zombie Housewives (2015).

Erotic Vampires Of Beverly Hills (2015, dir. Dean McKendrick)

College Coeds vs. Zombie Housewives (2015, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Inside, we meet Cosgrove (Robert Donavan). He starts off the film talking to a painting of Erika Jordan who plays Lady Dracovich. He tells her that she thought she would live forever, but that death got her anyways. He seems to imply that he had something to do with her death.

Of course within seconds of him walking away, she appears on the stairs to make a threat, and start the opening credits.

Now it’s time to meet our main character. That would be Cindy, played by Blair Williams. She’s visiting Madame Zola, played Kira Noir.

After saying some stuff, Zola presses a remote control, and releases some special effects.

I think the ghosts are at the bottom of the screen, and not on the ceiling, Cindy.

It’s pretty funny. She will look almost every direction except where we see the ghosts.

Cindy wants to know her future. Zola lays it on pretty thick. All you need to know is that she has a glowing ball, a remote control for effects, and she recently “repossessed” the powers of the psychic world that allow her to know all.

In order to help Cindy, Zola needs to know what Cindy’s fears are. Those would be the following:

  1. Enclosed spaces
  2. Open spaces
  3. Hot food
  4. Cold food
  5. Gluten-free food
  6. Children
  7. Vampires
  8. Birds
  9. Cornucopias

I’d like to think that’s Kira Noir wondering why they couldn’t get Jacqui Holland to play this role. Holland appears to have gone back to making B-movie horror films.

So, let me get this straight about Cindy’s fears.

  1. She’s afraid of where almost every scene in this movie will take place.
  2. She’s afraid of the very few times she will be outside.
  3. She can’t eat…
  4. She can’t eat the cakes that show up later.
  5. I’m assuming the cake is gluten-free.
  6. So are the filmmakers, which is why there is always legal info at the end of the credits concerning the age of the actors.
  7. Vampires don’t live here anymore. McKendrick made sure to clean them out after Erotic Vampires Of Beverly Hills.
  8. Who isn’t afraid that the placeholder on IMDb for a remake of The Birds is going to turn into a real movie?
  9. I guess she’s afraid of the ending of the movie then.

I’m being harsh on Blair. She isn’t the best at the bimbo routine, nor the evil one, but she pulls off both well-enough for this movie. I don’t have any real complaints about her performance.

After a few more lines of dialog, they have sex. It makes sense because…I have no idea.

Now we follow Blair home to find out that rent is due.

And by home, I of course mean the room from The Love Machine (2016) and Model For Murder (2015).

The Love Machine (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

We also meet Cindy’s roommate Sara (Morgan Lee). The last time I saw her was in a small role in the movie Carnal Wishes (2015).

Carnal Wishes (2015, dir. Jon Taylor)

As you can see, she finds it a bit ridiculous that with rent due, Blair went and saw Madame Zola, regardless of Cindy’s assurances that she got her money’s worth. Oh, and their landlord’s name is Mr. Catwhistle. I just thought I’d mention that.

They get a knock on the door. It’s Cosgrove. He’s here to deliver nonsense.

Dracovich wasn’t liked in life, so she left instructions that the first person who pushed the “like” button on her My Spacebook page would inherit her estate. Yes, they really say “My Spacebook.” It’s no dumber than Degrassi’s Facerange. The news causes them to make a stupid joke.

As you might have already guessed because you’ve seen this plot in a million other movies before, there is a catch. They need to protect a book, or they lose the estate.

They aren’t allowed to read it either.

Now it’s time to meet Professor Gordon. He’s played by Andrew Espinoza Long.

Cindy wants some leave from her class to deal with this estate business, which is fine by him. During this, he is having some trouble with Carter Cruise under the desk. I’m just going to assume she dropped a pencil down there, and was to embarrassed to popup while Cindy was still there.

Why is she wearing a graduation cap and gown? I don’t know. Here’s a shot of Long’s chest to distract you.

It’s like I caught him in the middle of posing for a perfume ad. They had sex of course in case you were confused as to why he is half-naked.

Blair pays a visit to Madame Zola so she can give her an ominous warning, which is ignored, and followed by Blair and Sara going to the Dracovich estate. We see that same overhead shot from Erotic Vampires Of Beverly Hills as they enter the house.

Erotic Vampires Of Beverly Hills (2015, dir. Dean McKendrick)

They head upstairs. On their way up, Sara looks at the portrait, and we find out that she would have sex with Dracovich if she were alive. Naturally, Cindy touches the painting, becomes possessed by Dracovich…

and they have sex. Some people smash a champagne bottle to christen something new. Others have a sex scene, so that they can poke fun at the woman always keeping her heels on by having Cindy barefoot while Sara leaves her sneakers on.

If you’re thinking this seems like a lot of sex so far, then you’d be right. This is only a half-hour into the movie, and there’s already been three scenes. There’s a lot in this one.

Cosgrove shows up at the house. His Dracovich sense must have been tingling.

This is as good a time as any to bring up that the best scenes in this movie are with Donavan. He does a good job. I like it when they get in an established actor to be in these. Even if by “established”, I mean he was in Trancers 6 (2002).

Trancers 6 (2002, dir. Jay Woelfel)

Trancers 6 (2002, dir. Jay Woelfel)

The actual reason he is at the house is because he needs Cindy–who is still possessed–to sign some papers.

We find out that Dracovich was a sexual predator. If you were a man, then she’d turn you into her servant. If you were a woman, then she’d turn you into her slave. And I’m sure if you were gender-fluid, then she’d turn you into a synonym for servant or slave.

Talking, talking, Cosgrove probably pushed her off the stairs to kill her, Dracovich leaves Cindy’s body, Cindy is wondering why she thinks she’s been licked all over, and we are back at professor Gordon’s office.

Cathy (Carter Cruise) brings in a cake.

Close enough to “Happy homecoming.”

These two plan to go over to the Dracovich house because they don’t have any other sets to loot.

Kira Noir takes a shower so that we know that while Blair will never change clothes during this movie, at least Madame Zola is clean.

She gets a threatening call from Dracovich telling her to stay away. She knows that it’s Lady Dracovich because she hung up on her. I’m not kidding.

Back home, it’s time for a Ouija board to make a cameo appearance.

I’m sorry. I mean a Witchboard, as they call it. I haven’t seen the Witchboard movies yet, but the third one has the subtitle of “The Possession”, so it fits.

The letter thing moves, and that’s the cue for Gordon and Cathy to come in to present them with the cake.

Gordon goes off with Blair to talk about the mystery surrounding when exactly during this scene Dracovich possessed her again. All that I saw was the camera angle change. This turns on Gordon, and they proceed to have sex.

I couldn’t be less interested in this scene. Yes, the sex scenes do little for me except to allow me to not have to take as many screenshots since I can’t show those parts. But the reason this scene is particularly uninteresting to me is that once you’ve seen Long go at it with three cheerleaders in this same room, than this is really boring.

College Coeds vs. Zombie Housewives (2015, dir. Dean McKendrick)

If there’s only one sex scene I remember from any of these movies that I’ve reviewed, it’s that one.

Cathy is looking exactly where anyone would for valuables–the kitchen cabinets.

The cake opens up on her to reveal a reference to the Art PA’s pseudonym.

Now Dracovich decides to make a personal appearance. She tells Cathy that she can’t have the book unless Cathy distracts her.

Notice that the clock says it is 3:16 in the afternoon. Part way into the distraction, it will be 4:17. Is that how long they were actually going at it?

You can also see someone reflected in the oven.

I hope Erika Jordan got hazard pay. It looks like at any moment she could have hit the back of her head on the corner of the countertop.

Sara now goes around the house looking for people, and Cosgrove shows up.

At the same time, Cathy wakes up on the floor. She finds the book on the counter. She opens it so that she can become possessed.

Cosgrove comes in and takes the book before going to chew out the painting of Dracovich. We find out here that he did kill her. According to him, Dracovich can come back to life if she has a male sacrifice. He thinks there are only women here, so it won’t be an issue. He hears a woman moan, which tells him Dracovich is up to something. I’m not sure why. In this movie, that could mean some of the girls are celebrating the opening of a door.

Since there is very little time left in the movie, he is right, and finds Professor Gordon tied up on a bed having an orgy. Madame Zola shows up seemingly just to join the party. Sara jumps in too.

Off to the side of the bed, we can see Dracovich appearing to orchestrate the action.

This place really reminds me of one of the rooms in David DeCoteau’s house.

Cosgrove waits around for awhile so that we can watch before he ends the scene by opening the book. They all get zapped, but I can only show you Dracovich.

Cindy tells him he did a good job stopping Dracovich. But she wonders why he felt the need to do it so fast considering how quickly he was able to dispatch her.

It makes perfect sense, Cindy. He set the house on fire.

End of movie.

This isn’t a bad one of these movies. There is too much sex and the plot is barely existent. However, Donavan is good. It was nice to see Carter Cruise again in a role that wasn’t a complete ditz. Long was funny as usual. There were some humorous lines that I couldn’t show you because I forgot to turn on subtitles. They kept having Blair Williams say words that are almost what she means to say. There’s a little bit between her and Morgan Lee about Dracovich and Malkovich–vich is vich?

Ultimately, this one is only worth it if you are just looking for sex. There isn’t a whole lot more to it.

Late Night Cable Movie Review: The Love Machine (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)


It’s been awhile since I wrote a review of a feature film. Let’s see if I can still get through one of these. How hard can it be? It’s a Dean McKendrick movie.

If you’re gonna watch this, then I hope you have seen McKendrick’s The Deadly Pickup (2016) and Model For Murder (2016) since this is basically a third film in what could be an unofficial trilogy.

The movie begins, and we see what looks like an amplifier with two voltage gauges, a pressure gauge stuck on top, and something that shoots a beam out of it, which I’m sure comes from another one of McKendrick’s films.

Much like this set, which is where Sarah Hunter’s character from Model For Murder was killed.

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

In this film, Carter Cruise is playing Bair. She is in a session with psychologist, Dr. Stephanie Bradshaw (Jennifer Korbin). Bradshaw asks her what she does when she sees an attractive man. She wants to know what her first thoughts are. Those first thoughts are of stock footage from The Deadly Pickup.

The opening kill.

And Rick!

You remember Rick, right? He’s the guy who got pricked with her poisonousness ring, yet still managed to stumble from the car where they had sex…

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

so that he could die somewhere else.

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Then he came back in Model For Murder as a photographer.

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

There’s also a flashback to Charlie who had to be rescued from Cruise by Deputy Randall.

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Don’t worry, Deputy Randall, who was promoted to detective in Model For Murder, makes a return in this film. Like Cruise, he is playing a different character. However, unlike Cruise, he is played by Billy Snow via the pseudonym of Alan Long. Makes sense to use the name of an actor from 1975’s Pick-up.

After the reused footage, the doctor turns up the dial on the machine, then asks her again what she wants to do with the attractive man.

Perfect! I can’t say the same about these opening credits though. This dance number with Erika Jordan goes on just short of forever.

It only exists so she can give a lap dance to one of our main characters, Don (Justin Berti), in order to introduce us to him.

It also gives me an excuse to wonder what led her from working as a detective to dancing at this club.

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Also, Don has gone from managing models to sadly having to visit this strip club.

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

After a shot of a street somewhere, we cut to the bedroom where Erika Jordan and Billy Snow had sex in Model For Murder.

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

This is where we meet Don’s wife, Jane (Alice Haig). They are having trouble with their marriage. He wants to try couples therapy, but she is reluctant, so he leaves to sleep on the couch, which judging by the paint on the walls, is probably in the same building as the room from earlier.

Meanwhile, at the $20 Oil Change…

Don strikes up a conversation with his friend John (Michael Hopkins) concerning his marriage problems.

I know I said something similar when I talked about Model For Murder, but welcome back to the world of the living, Josh. You might remember Michael Hopkins as Carter Cruise’s first victim in The Deadly Pickup. Or you don’t, because you have a life, haven’t seen all three movies, and certainly haven’t paid this much attention to them.

We also get the return of Sheriff Bates…

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

except this time Michael Gaglio owns this $20 Oil Change.

And I got this humorous shot of Justin Berti.

It doesn’t have to do with anything. I just thought I’d share it with you.

John suggests a therapist that worked for him and his wife, Angie.

Then we get what looks like a new set.

Sure, it appears to have been decorated by the same people who did the police station in The Deadly Pickup, but I couldn’t find it anywhere else.

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Inside, the doctor gets the story from Don and Jane about their troubles while they sit on the couch that Rick had sex on in Model For Murder.

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Of course she’s an ideal candidate to be zapped by that machine. The questions ultimately lead the doctor to asking Jane about her sexual fantasies. This time we don’t get stock footage. It’s just another reused set. She dreams of sunbathing on the set of the sexual encounter with a murder victim her husband told police about in Model For Murder.

Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

And of course there’s a pool boy (Robbie Caroll). You may remember him as the police officer who arrested Katie Morgan at the beginning of Vixens From Venus (2016).

Vixens From Venus (2016, dir. Sal V. Miers)

Much like Jordan, his career seems to be on the downswing. He was once a police officer, and now he’s been reduced to being a pool boy.

This is the first sex scene of the movie. I would love to have heard the conversation on the other end of this that Jane was having with the doctor.

While this scene happens, we are treated to a few minutes of a soundalike of Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet.

The session went well, and a follow-up appointment is set.

Now we get to find out what the outcome of these treatments is when we get to meet John’s wife, Angie (Pepper XO).

A call comes in from the therapist who tells Angie that “it’s time.” That means it’s time to have sex on Brian and Traci’s bed from The Deadly Pickup.

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

The Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

It also means that it’s time for John to die from a corkscrew to the chest.

The next morning, Jane tells Don that she thinks the treatments are going well, and Don goes off to work to have the bad news broken to him about his friend being killed. But before Don receives the bad news, we get to see that the $20 Oil Change has an SBC payphone in 2016.

Gaglio breaks the news to Don, which leads the film to immediately cut to two people having sex on a leopard-print bed. I have no idea who they are.

She gets a call from the doctor, and he’s dead.

Now Jane meets Jeff (Billy Snow). If he looks worried here…

it’s because of who his wife is.

Jane goes in for another treatment. While she is under the control of the machine, the doctor forces herself upon Jane. No joke. They really could have left this scene out–no matter how short it is.

Don now breaks the news to Jane about John’s death so that we know the two of them have a reason to start being suspicious of the doctor. That’s not important though, because the scene that I was waiting for, finally happens.

Breezy finally gets her revenge on Deputy Randall. Does the rest of the film really matter now?

Okay, fine. Jane is lying in bed when she has a dream of Christine Nguyen doing a shower scene. I’m not kidding. They randomly inserted a shower scene by having Jane dream about one out of the blue for no apparent reason.

With the death of Billy Snow, Don is convinced things are fishy with the doctor, and he tries to talk Jane out of seeing her. It doesn’t work.

Then they have another shower scene. I have to give them some credit. They do end it with pertinent information to the plot. Jane remembers the doctor’s “Kill him” line.

Don does some intense research online about the doctor.

Long story short, something bad happened to her, so she’s taking revenge on other people.

Don now races to save his wife from this monster. Unfortunately, Don’s an idiot, and Jane zaps him with the machine, leading to a sex scene. However, since we are at the end of the film, when Jane pulls a gun to shoot him, he takes it away from her.

The doctor comes in, and I kind of love Don because he doesn’t hesitate for second. She pulls a knife, and he shoots her.

A quick shot at the machine, and Jane is free from its power. A couple lines of dialog are exchanged, then the movie abruptly ends.

So, that’s The Love Machine.

For the people watching for entertainment value, it doesn’t have much to offer other than getting to see Carter Cruise do in Billy Snow.

For people watching for the sex, it doesn’t have much either. There are a couple of sex scenes, and two shower scenes shoehorned into the movie. The one scene of girl-on-girl is kind of disturbing seeing as the doctor does sexually assault her. Then the movie adds confusion since that encounter is what appears to trigger her to have a dream about a woman taking a shower. Yet, it’s never followed up on.

I almost would have preferred the doctor to win in the end by taking Jane away with her. Sure, it would have been dark, but it would have been something memorable about this movie.

I can’t recommend this one.