Monday, May 22, 2017

Episode 42: American Psycho 2 (2002)


“You know how some babysitters take you to the movies or rollerblading in the park? Mine brought me along on a date with a serial killer.”

Welcome back, B-movie fanatics!

As I so often say, I feel like I’m the only person in the world who actually enjoys some of the titles I select. In the case of American Psycho 2, that definitely rings true. Not only do most horror fans dislike this cash-in sequel, they despise and downright loathe it. The popular opinion doesn’t stop with genre devotees, either. Even the star herself has expressed her disdain for the project. That’s right, That ‘70s Show alum and Hollywood starlet Mila Kunis would like more than anything to see this, one of her very first leads, wiped from her filmography.


I won’t say I don’t understand all the vitriol hurled toward this particular piece of celluloid (although I wouldn’t be surprised if I did say something to that effect during the commentary itself). It’s not at all like its predocessor (probably because the original script was never meant to be a sequel to the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation) and, as I’ve come to find, many genre devotees hate when horror and comedy are blended together, which is the primary reason movies like Dr. Giggles never had much of a following. There’s even an audience who look down their noses at the sequels in franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, and Sleepaway Camp. Said fans insist these series’ went a little too far off the rails, focusing more on laughs and less on scares (although, I will agree that Seed of Chucky is pretty damn bad). But then again there’s the Saw franchise, which stayed true to form for seven films and I don’t think this did anything to satisfy those who found the original to be a genuinely well-made and, most of all, terrifying film.


When it comes to straight-to-video sequels, I think American Psycho 2 is exactly what one would—or at least ought to—expect. True, it doesn’t possess anything remotely close to the depth, not to mention scares, of the Mary Harron endeavor, but that’s probably because this isn’t the Mary Harron endeavor. It’s a totally different movie and if you disassociate it from the title,, I think it’s easy to enjoy it purely on a fun, campy, nothing cerebral here level, which is exactly what many of the movies I do commentaries for are.


I used to say this at the beginning of every episode, but I stopped, assuming listeners would have the sense to know. Just in case you don’t, be sure to start the commentary at the precise moment you start the film. That is, of course, if you choose to watch along. If that’s the case, your best bet is the Lions Gate Blu ray edition, running at 1:28:29 which was my source for this episode


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Episode 41: Intruder (1989)


“I’m just crazy about this store!”

It appears I’ve dropped the ball in terms of posting episodes relatively close to the time they’ve been recorded, As a matter of fact, I have commentaries recorded upwards of seven months ago that have yet to see the light of day. No, it’s not because I’m lazy. Quite the contrary. I take a lot of pride and put forth a lot of effort in this silly little dog-and-pony show, despite the modest views and not taking a dime for the many hours I spend recording my thoughts, gathering images, and composing text. The last of this trio has always been the most challenging. This, in all actuality, is why it takes me so long to post the commentaries. True, I could just slap something together and call it a day, but that’s not, nor has it ever been, the way I roll.

And that, dear readers, is the first (and more than likely the only) time I’ve used the phrase “the way I roll.”


When I started B-Movie Bonanza, I had no idea what the hell would prompt fans of the genre to give the embedded player the old clickity-click, and so I’d just scribble whatever came to mind. For a while, I took to writing synopses for the films, something I truly despise, but I thought adding a little humor might make them more of a fun read. These days, I search for an angle, as any “serious” blogger would. Example: the Slumber Party Massacre episode, where I purposely decided to read screenwriter Rita Mae Brown’s autobiography, should she mention anything about the script and/or the film that I could transcribe. But the goddamn thing was so boring and longer than hell, I couldn’t even make it to the midpoint. Here’s a woman who obviously thinks the smallest, most inconsequential moments of her life are worth putting to paper and, insanely enough, that people want to read them. And then there was the episode for Carrie 2, which was purposely posted on the 18th anniversary of the film’s theatrical release.


So, things often get away from me a little longer than I anticipate, especially with being a “professional” author. After hours pening and editing original fiction, the last thing I feel like doing is planting myself in front of the monitor to put forth my questionable writing talents in a blog I doubt anyone reads anyway. If I sound bitter, well, that’s probably because I am, but I assure you, it has nothing to do with B-Movie Bonanza. This silly little movie commentary podcast is one of the few things that keep me sane.


For this episode, I used Synapse’s director’s cut Blu ray edition, which runs 1:27:30. So, should the mood strike you, please feel free to watch along. And I promise to be a little faster when it comes to posting future episodes. If that’s not good enough, then SUCK ON THIS! Get it? Line from the movie? End scene? Elizabeth Cox wielding a big knife? Anyone? No? Okay, just listen to the goddamn commentary.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Episode 40: Flowers in the Attic (1987)


“I will give you food and shelter, but never kindness or love, for it is impossible to feel nothing but disgust...for what is not wholesome.”

On November 14th, 2016, when this episode was originally recorded, Alan Thicke was alive, well, and doing the publicity rounds for a partially scripted reality show cheekily titled Unusually Thicke. On December 13th, just one month later, he suffered a fatal heart attack. Had I known he were to depart this mortal coil so soon after I digitized my nonsensical ramblings...well...I probably would’ve done it anyway. I didn’t trash the Canadian-born actor and television personality for the sake of shits and giggles. He allegedly committed what I consider some pretty deplorable acts around the time Flowers in the Attic was in production and though these things took place three decades before, it still turns my stomach to think about. “What the shit is the correlation between Alan Thicke and Flowers in the Attic?” you may ask. Well, you’ll just have to listen to the commentary to find out.


I’m not at all surprised that recording this episode triggered so many pre and post-adolescent memories, as Flowers in the Attic, both the novel and the original film, have been among my favorite thrillers for quite some time. The book was one of the first I’d read that explored such adult themes as rape, incest, and child abuse. Though much of the material in Flowers in the Attic, not to mention V.C. Andrews’ other works, was more appropriate for a much older audience, it was young adults who embraced them more than any other demographic. It comes as no surprise that the film was given a PG-13 rating by the MPAA and was marketed for a teenage audience. It is that same audience who, to this day, hold this low-budget thriller near and dear.


As novel adaptations often do, this incarnation of Flowers in the Attic strays from the original material in many capacities, which upset V.C. Andrews’ more dedicated fans. I think, however, most of those devoted readers have since come to appreciate the film for what it is and, most of all, appreciate Louise Fletcher’s dead-on portrayal of the evil and sadistic grandmother (as I say during the commentary, her performance frightens me to this day).


As always, you’re free to watch along, should you so desire. For the purposes of this commentary, I used the Image Entertainment Blu ray edition, which runs 1:31”33. On a small sidenote: During the recording, I wonder aloud if there is any online proof of my Alan Thicke anecdote and, having recently searched YouTube, I’m pleased to say there is. Have a look and hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth—so to speak, of course.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Episode 39: Haute tension a.k.a. High Tension (2003)


“Tu ne m'aimes pas...”

Since all episodes of B-Movie Bonanza are recorded several months in advance, I always go back and listen before they’re uploaded to YouTube. Just in case I make any bonehead comments or behave in an inappropriate fashion, which compels me to apologize, or at very least explain. For instance: the ridiculous cackling during the rape kit scene in The Crush, or the detailed tutorial on how to properly slit one’s wrists during The Coroner. I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with me.


In this case, I noticed three things: first, I continually mispronounced “haute” (the H is supposed to be silent, this I should’ve known, having, at the time of the recording, been studying the language well over a year). Second, woven between many complaints about how Alexandre Aja blatantly plagiarized the Dean Koontz novel Intensity, I gave a plethora of tips and discussed the progress made during my many weeks of studying the French language, which made me come off both pompois and pretentious as fuck. Third, I realized how much I missed language-learning being a part of my daily routine.


Shortly after this episode was recorded, I put my studies on the back burner. I even stopped listening to French music, something I thoroughly enjoy. For months, I thought of the progress I’d made, and chastised myself for throwing it all away. I’ll get back to it, I continued to tell myself, feeling more and more like a failure. While I did lots of Googling in hopes of finding language-learning methods specifically aimed at the visually impaired, I consistently came up empty. Even the Library for the Blind had no suggestions. So, I decided to go back to learning exclusively by ear. There’s just one hitch: many audio lessons, as I’ve learned from experience, are pure garbage. They’re either vastly overpriced, extremely limited in how far they delve into the language, or their methods just don’t work.


Recently, I decided to go back to Pimsleur. I attempted their learning method once or twice, but must’ve inadvertently happened upon simple conversational French. Brief lessons someone traveling overseas might use to temporarily get by. My goal has always been to one day become fluent, something that simply cannot be accomplished in eight half-hour lessons. Luckily, I came to find that Pimsleur has created an alternative method, which consists of 150 thirty-minute lessons and goes much deeper than the set I’d previously attempted. So, I decided to begin again, which has been frustrating, but helped me rekindle a lost passion and once again enriched my daily routine. In all likelihood, I won’t be fluent upon completion of these 150 lessons. as it takes years to become fluent in a foreign tongue, but when the time comes, I’m sure I’ll figure out some way to continue my studies.


Because I was still in the thick of my language-learning at the time the episode was recorded, I decided to listen to the original French audio found on both the DVD and Blu ray editions, which runs 1:30:42. If you’d rather watch along using the English dub, feel free to do so, as it doesn’t tamper with the time length. Please find some way to enjoy the commentary, despite my overt pomposity, and until next time, bonsoir! 


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spotlight: Shocker (1989)


It doesn’t appear Wes Craven had a whole lot going on during the mid-to-late 1980s, his only real film contributions being Deadly Friend and The Serpent and the Rainbow. Other than that, a made-for-TV movie called Chiller, something for The Wonderful World of Disney, and a handful of episodes of the new Twilight Zone. I can’t imagine his career had taken the trajectory he’d wanted, or even anticipated, especially after the astronomical success of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Wes, I’m sure, wasn’t a happy camper when his script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors was ultimately rejected (only elements of his original story were used in the final script penned by Bruce Wagner and Frank Darabont, with contributions by director Chuck Russell), or when he was fired (*ahem* pardon me, replaced) from the 1987 adaptation of the classic V.C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic (Jeffrey Bloom slipped into the director’s chair soon after Craven’s departure).
He couldn’t have been too upset, however, as he was collecting checks for Elm Street-related endeavors with which he had nothing to do, a la additional sequels, the Freddy’s Nightmares television series, a Nintendo game, and a shitload of merchandising/endorsement deals. “Krueger Kash,” I giddily imagine he’d referred to it as, his naked body rolling about a large bed peppered with green bills, Indecent Proposal-style. He must’ve realized that A Nightmare on Elm Street was truly where his bread was buttered, Freddy’s clawed hand the one that fed him, and if he were to garner any future success (that is, real success) in the horror genre, he’d have to find some way to get back in on the action—or at least come up with something comparable.
And in 1989, Shocker, as well as its Krueger-inspired villain, were born.
There’s no denying the similarities between Shocker and the Elm Street series, namely the dream element and a mass murderer who returns subsequent to his ultimate demise (here, we have justice by the legal system, while in the A Nightmare on Elm Street backstory, the killer’s execution is orchestrated by a group of parents-turned-vigilantes). Along with Horace Pinker’s Krueger-style quips and wisecracks, we have a number of Elm Street nuances, some of them seen in the sequels Craven had nothing to do with (body jumping, the “trapping a supernatural villain in order to return him to the real world” concept, etc.). There main character’s adoptive father is a member of the police force, a nod to the original Elm Street, a cameo by Heather Langenkamp, and a scene involving a little girl on a tricycle, for fuck’s sake.
Shocker is far from a perfect film. In addition to its many similarities to an incredibly lucrative franchise, there are some definite pacing issues. A movie of this kind, which should be judged solely on its entertainment value, shouldn’t have a running time beyond 90 minutes (Shocker is 10 minutes shy of 2 hours). Because of the film’s length, I was forced to go snap-happy yet again, this time going much further than I have thus far. Here, I present more than 1,100 high quality images taken from the Blu ray edition. Enjoy.
On a small sidenote, some years before his death, Wes Craven mentioned plans to remake both Shocker and The People Under the Stairs, as he felt both could be much better, especially with today’s technology. Flawed though it may be, I think Shocker is fine the way it is. As for The People Under the Stairs, well, that’s a different story.