Saturday, May 22, 2010

Three Films Make A Grump: Spewed from intergalactic space to clutch the planet earth in its...TERROR TENTACLES!

Legendary Panty Mask (1991): Surprisingly mild Go Nagai adaptation about a panty mask wearing, mock-Injun-bikini garbed heroine lacklusterly fighting the evil nuns dominating an all-female town and protecting a cross-dressing boy. Sounds fun enough, but lacks the commitment to sleaze (the film does not even contain the slightest nudity) and/or insanity I have come to expect from this kind of thing. There are a few moments of delight to be had in the film's dreadful musical numbers (especially the renditions of "classics" like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Ten Little Indians" in perfect Jenglish), but the whole affair is just too timid to be truly interesting.


The Ultimate Warrior (1975): Director Robert Clouse's rampant mediocrity strikes again and manages to make a post-apocalyptic movie about a frequently topless Yul Brunner protecting a group of relatively sane and peaceful people in the ruins of New York against their nasty neighbours until Max von Sydow convinces him to crawl through the Underground kind of boring. The script is fittingly cynical and doesn't shy away from dead babies and humanity showing its worst side, but Clouse is never able to sell it right.

If this was an Italian movie, it would probably be saved through insanity and incomprehensibility, alas, Clouse is too classy (read "boring") for anything fun like that.


The Wolfman (2010): This film is as divided in its personality as its titular character is. Visually, there's a lot to like here, especially when the film concentrates on building mood through the glorious artificiality of its production design. It is much less successful - and more than just slightly ridiculous - when it goes for scenes of gory monster rampage.

The script is quite a mess. Themes of classical gothic horror, some clever modernisation, much more stupid "modernisation" and a lot of even more stupid Freudian psycho-nonsense (good old father complexes) are randomly thrown together with any old stuff that must have come to mind while writing the film, seemingly without any thought for what it all is supposed to be about. What business, for example, has Inspector Abberline (the man who hunted Jack the Ripper) in this film? Why overload what is at its heart a very simple story with so much baggage that doesn't have any pay-off, neither textually nor subtextually?

The film's permanent shifts in tone, its unfocused and disconnected jumping from scene to scene are the final nails in its coffin. Well, unless Anthony Hopkins' usual "I am so sinister" performance has that dubious honour.

I liked this a lot better when it was Ang Lee's Hulk.


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