Tuesday, November 30, 2010

SAVE THE TIGER (1973)

Jack Lemmon is a man pushed to the edge. He's a WWII vet haunted with the guilt of being alive when so many of his buddies died. What did he do with his life? The life that his buddies didn't get to live. Did he become a baseball player like he so innocently dreamed of as a child? Did he find a woman who would fill his life with love and happiness? No, he started a clothing factory, a pretty successful one, but now due to some financial acrobatics he's secretly broke and unless he comes up with a whole lot of money before the IRS audits him he's gonna go to jail, his factory closed and everybody put out of a job. But that's not all of his problems.

The first few times I saw SAVE THE TIGER I knew it was a great film, but it wasn't until the third time that I realized that it was a masterpiece. Billy Wilder was obviously smarter than me cause the first time he saw it it said "There's only one problem with that movie: I didn't direct it." That's a hell of a compliment coming from a master like Wilder, but I'm actually happy that he didn't direct this film because it's absolutely perfect the way it is. I think with his name attached the studios would have raised the budget and interfered too much. As it was, the budget was only a million dollars and that budget restraint actually helped the film, I think, because it forced the filmmakers (kinda like the Hays Code back in the late 1930's) to become more creative, not in a moral sense, but in a artistic sense to make the film completely 100% off of the studio lot and out on the streets with regular buildings using real people in the background and normal street noises and natural lighting. It doesn't even feel like you're watching a movie, but almost like you secretly peaking into people's private lives filled with hidden demons, false faces and very real fears.

I cannot recommend this movie enough (if you like good movies). It's my 373rd review on Happyotter, but only the 3rd movie that I've added to my Best Movies List. It really is that good. Jack Lemmon gives one of the best performances in the history of cinema and director John G. Avildsen would go on to direct ROCKY and THE KARATE KID. Highly recommended, especially if you're interested in learning how to make movies.

[SPOILER!!!] I've heard some people question the title, SAVE THE TIGER. During one scene a man mentions that there's only a 500 or so tiger left in the world. They are a dying breed. Later the young woman Myra mentions that tigers are known to return to a place of beauty and that's how hunters capture (or kill) them. At one point Lemmon looks at a poster of a tiger and his reflection is cast in the glass. Lemmon is a dying breed and it is only when he's alone or relaxed that he starts dreaming of playing baseball when he was a child. At the end of the movie after he tells the arsonist to never mention his partner he goes to the park to watch the children playing baseball. He is returning to a place of beauty because he knows that his days are numbered and if the police don't get him or the IRS don't get him that his mind is finally going to crack from all of the pressure/guilt.

That's at least my take on the title.

Monday, November 29, 2010

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (2009)

[Update 03/09/2021: Need to redo this review completely. Fix the screenshots also.]

How can they fuck up a movie with Shannon Elizabeth wearing goth clothes?

How much you dislike or straight up hate this movie will probably depend on how much you like or love the original NIGHT OF THE DEMONS from 1988. Personally, I think remaking NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is blasphemy, but still I went into it with an open mind hoping for the best. And was it better than the original? Not even close! To be fair though this film isn't even a true remake: outside of the title, an old creepy house with demons in it and a 5 second cameo by Linnea Quigley this movie has very little to do with the original. Pretty much nothing. It didn't even have the "Eat a bowl of fuck!" line in it for (bowl of) fuck's sake.

Seven annoying butthones (who couldn't die fast enough) get locked in a old abandoned mansion on Halloween night then finally after 30 minutes of boring build up the demons attack and it's actually entertaining! Not because the story or the shitty special effects are any good, but because Edward Furlong goes absolutely nuts and starts screaming obscenities almost nonstop. He actually had one of the most realistic reactions to seeing a demon that I've ever seen in a movie: he freaks the fuck out and runs out of the room screaming "Shit, shit, shit shit!!!".  Which is pretty much what I would do in the same situation. If the rest of the movie had been as funny as those few minutes this would have been a much better movie.  Instead with soulless writing, very little gore, cheesy (in a bad way) action, annoying cast (except for Furlong's overacting), music video stylizing overdose and zero respect given to the original, I say fuck this stinker and just watch the original again.

Original Part 1 - Night of the Demons (1988)
Original Part 2 - Night of the Demons 2 (1994)
Original Part 3 - Night of the Demons III (1997)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

PREDATORS (2010)

Twenty years from now people will still be talking about how badass the original PREDATOR was. Twenty weeks from now nobody will remember PREDATORS was even made.

Eight dangerous people from Earth are kidnapped and dropped off in a huge rain forest planet where three Predators hunt them. The End. That's about it. Whatever you're imagining happened during the hunt is probably better than what actually happened. And I'm completely serious about that too because I've read fan fiction online that had a better story than this film.  The first 30 minutes or so were interesting, with the people getting to know each other and feeling out the situation (along with the audience doing the same), but then everything started dragged down slower and slower and characters started dying...until all we're left with is a couple of dull, unlikable bores rolling around in the mud.  Even the Predators are somehow lifeless and not even scary.

I had high hopes for this movie, since I love the original so much, but after awhile I found myself just daydreaming and bored.  By the end the entire thing is so soulless and bland that I couldn't bring myself to give a shit about any of it.

I also found all the little winks to the original film (minigun, "ugly motherfucker", Little Richard song) to be distracting and irritating. How about skip trying to be clever and shoehorn in all of that junk and instead concentrate on making a movie with some actual tension?  Adding depth to the characters, so the audience might actually give a fuck if they die or not, would have been nice also.
 
Overall, PREDATORS would have be better if it was just a stand alone film not even connected to the Predator Universe at all.  Watchable, but lifeless.

Part 1 – Predator (1987)
Part 2 – Predator 2 (1990)
Part 4 – The Predator (2018)
Alien crossover 1 - Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Alien crossover 2 - Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)