Tag Archive: John Carpenter


Escape From L.A. (1996)

Escape_From_LA

In the sequel to 1981’s Escape for New York, we find our antihero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell)  trying to escape from yet another post-apocalyptic mega city, this time it’s the City of Angles.  LA has become a penal colony after an earthquake turned it into an island, and is now only inhabited by the dregs of society.  Gun-for-hire Snake, winds up getting shipped off there after being captured by the Feds, but they have a deal for him: find a doomsday weapon that the president’s rebel daughter stole and we might give you the antidote to the deadly virus we just injected you with.  With no other choice he travels to the island in search of the weapon, now in the hands or the terrorist Cuervo Jones.

It isn’t going to be as easy as just going up to the guy and asking nicely, he is going to have to perform some off the wall and highly impractical feats to even get near the guy.  Snake will have to surf a 100 foot wave, escape from a group of plastic surgery addicts, shoot some hoops for his life and also hang-glide from Hollywood to Disneyland.  Once the mission is a success, he’s a little peeved at how the government used him (again), and decides to use the super-weapon against them.

Alex’s Thoughts:  What this movie lacks in quality it make up for in sheer awfulness. Wait… no… that’s sounds about right.  While John Carpenter’s previous movie was sort of charming and inventive it in’s own low-budget way, this one copies the exact same premise but without any of the charm, it’s just bad, and seems like it was just a cash grab flick.   While I do like Kurt Russell, he didn’t look to be giving it his best, and seemed like his best physical acting days were behind him.  With awful dialog, poorly choreographed fight scenes and low-rate special effects, it is easy to forget about this movie.  Its one redeeming quality is that it has Bruce Campbell in what could have been a great role as the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills, but it was totally underutilized.  If you need a good escape flick, you might want to check out Lockout instead.  Alex Rates This Movie 3/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: Oh, I want to like this so badly, every few years I will even go back to give it another shot, but it’s soooooo awful. There is nothing good about this, nothing at all. It’s a waste of time, and a sign that Carpenter’s good years were way behind him. I don’t know what else to say other than that the effects are so terrible that I can barely sit through it. MST3K would destroy this, and then like Pod People or Mitchell it could become a favorite. Until that happens, avoid this dumpster fire at all costs. Tim Rates This Movie 1/10

Cuevo Jones

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

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Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

Release Date: 10/22/1985 – Rated R

Starring: Tom Atkins (Escape From New York)

Plot Summary:  Warning: this is a Halloween sequel in name-only and doesn’t feature masked killer Michael Meyers.  Instead of a serial killer, this time the story revolves around a  novelty company called Silver Shamrock who’s beyond making whoopee cushions and fake dog turds; they now are producing Halloween masks with microchips in them that will kill all the kids wearing them on Halloween night.

Our story begins with a couple of constipated looking guys in suits chasing down an old man.  The old guys escape and is brought to a hospital, but soon one of the suits comes in a crushes the guy’s skull.  As he is followed outside by our broad-shouldered, mustachioed and alcoholic doctor lead actor, the suit gets into his car and douses himself with gas and eats a match.  The next morning the old man’s daughter, Ellie, comes in to ID the body as Dr. Dan looks on.  A few days later Ellie enlists the help of the doctor to try to find out who killed her dad; because a doctor doesn’t need to hang around saving lives when he can be off playing detective, right?  Ellie pinpoints the location of where she thinks her pop got into trouble; it’s a small town and home to the Silver Shamrock Novelties Company.  Once they get there, they notice that the town and it’s residents are a little creepy.  After getting a hotel room and snooping around some more, Ellie decides she wants to go for a ride… a moustache ride.  The next morning they go up to the factory to see what’s going on.  After going on a tour, Ellie spots her father’s car in a garage and freaks the fuck out.  While on the way back to the hotel, Ellie is kidnapped for some reason; everyone else they catch snooping around is killed on the spot, but not this tramp. 

Dr. Dan breaks into the plant to save her, but a suit catches him.  As the suit throws him into box after box full of packing peanuts, our man lands a good punch, only to find out that these guys are robots.  More suits come in, along with the owner of Silver Shamrock, who conveniently lets him in on his master plan as he is taken to the master control room.  The owner shows him that they have a monolith from Stonehenge, and they put a little piece of it into each mask for its magical properties.  This guy is some sort of witch, and he is going to sacrifice millions of kids on Halloween with a secret signal sent through a commercial that not only kills the kids, but makes snakes and bugs come out of their face holes.  Dan is tied up, but breaks free and finds Ellie in another room.  They somehow use the power of the stone to kill all the robots and the owner (again, this is some sort of super doctor), as they speed away.  Just when you think all is well Ellie attacks Dan, and after a brief scuffle we find that Ellie was replaced with a robot.  Dan gets away and tries to call a TV station to keep them from playing the Silver Shamrock commercial that will murder all these kids.  Too bad there is more than one station playing this commercial!

Alex’s Thoughts:  I’m sure Tim will punch me in the neck for saying this, but I like this movie.  I have a strong nostalgic feel for it, as it was the first horror movie I was allowed to pick out from the video store as a kid.  It isn’t a great movie, but I just have strong feelings towards it.  There are only a few deaths, and only one is dramatic at all, and the rest of the movie just sets up the five minutes of action at the end, but it works for me.  Truthfully this would work a lot better as something like an hour-long episode of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt sort of double feature and is pretty long and drawn out most of the time.

Tim’s Thoughts: NECK PUNCH! Really? They steal Stonehenge? Sure that’s fine, but they use it to make lasers? What? Dr. Dan is no better than Denim Dan from Howling 2 (see our Howling 2 review) and while this movie might have made an “OK” Twilight Zone, or Tales From the Crypt, this had to be Carpenter phoning it in. It has several great elements to it, creepy town, maniacal commercials, but it’s so flat, and boring. I respect Alex’s nostalgia, but I still didn’t like this movie. I am sure we will eventually do more of Carpenter’s 80’s stuff, but this is one of my least favorites.

Final Thoughts: After Halloween 2, Michael Meyers was supposed to be dead for good; so John Carpenter decided to keep making Halloween themed movies under the same Halloween movie title to reel in those fans.  Overwhelmingly it didn’t pay off, and this movie was trashed by fans and critics who thought it would feature the same characters as the pervious two film.  It is still shunned today by many horror fans because it isn’t a true sequel and it tricked people into seeing it based on the movie’s title.

Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim Rates This Movie 5/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

They Live (review recommended by reader Julia)

Release Date: 11/4/1988 – Rated R

Starring: ‘Rowdy” Roddy Piper (The Piper’s Pit), Keith David (There’s Something About Mary)

Plot Summary:  Nada is a down on his luck drifter just looking for a chance to get back on his feet.  After finding some temporary work at a construction site, he meets fellow homeless guy Frank.  After work Frank takes them back to a squatter’s camp for the night.  While in the camp Nada sees a strange hacked signal on TV telling them that they are being controlled and influenced by others; he also notices some strange goings-on at a church across the street.  In the morning Nada goes to check out this church only to find that it is a front for an extremist group who manufacture sunglasses.  That night the police raid the church, as they were the ones hacking the airwaves and kill most of the occupants.  Nada goes back in the morning to find that one case of sunglasses survived the assault by the police.  While downtown he tries on the glasses and is astounded by what he sees.

The sunglasses reveal that there are hidden message under every form of print and advertising; messages such as ‘obey’, ‘marry and reproduce’ and ‘sleep’.  Not only that but, it shows that some people are not really people at all, but some type of fiendish ghoul.  The ghouls quickly realize that this man can see them for what they really are, and try to kill him.  Nada escapes back to the resistance with the help of Frank who takes some persuading to try on the glasses for the first time (in the form of the longest alley fight ever).  Nada and Frank go to the source of the signal that hides the ghoul’s true form in an effort to destroy it so that the humans can see they are under the influence of strange alien creatures.

Alex’s Thought’s:  Though extremely slow to start, the end of this movie isn’t too bad.  I didn’t hate it, but this isn’t something I need to watch frequently, once a decade should do.  There is some funny dialog and the concept is pretty good.  It’s pretty clear this movie didn’t have a huge budget, but they did alright with what they had.  I did enjoy the scene where Nada tries to get Frank to try on the glasses for the first time, the actors took what was supposed to be a 30 second fight scene and turned it into over 5 minutes of actual fighting; with the exception of the punches to the face and shots to the junk it was all real.

Tim’s Thoughts: I always wanted to know what the aliens/ghouls were doing with the brainwashing, I mean, it didn’t seem like they were eating humans, some of the creatures even had crummy everyday jobs. I like this movie mostly out of nostalgia, but all in all it’s not too bad. I always felt like it was missing something, just coming up short from being great. The aliens look awesome, there are funny lines, and Roddy Piper is kinda charming in spite of himself. I “like” not love this one, worth checking out just to say you’ve seen it, if you are that kind of movie fan.

Final Thoughts:This is an “ok” Carpenter movie, if you are a Roddy Piper completionist then it’s a must, but otherwise save this one for a marathon, or theme night.  Again, some awesome one-liners and great makeup but for some reason comes up short.

Alex Rates This Movie 4/10

Tim Rates This Movie 5/10

“You see, I take these glasses off, she looks like a regular person, doesn’t she? Put ’em back on… formaldehyde-face!”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here