Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

When Elvira’s (Cassandra Peterson) great aunt dies, she heads to the sleepy and conservative New England town of Falwell where an inheritance is waiting for her. Quitting her job and believing she’ll get millions, she instead finds that she’s inherited a creepy old house, a weird cookbook and a punk-rock poodle. Elvira’s ample “charms” and strange ways unsettle some of the residents of Falwell and in the meantime, not everyone of her relatives is happy with Elvira getting what she got…because the cookbook may hold more secrets than just the recipe for an awesome chicken Kiev.

Elvira is a force of nature. Many people might not remember her, but she was super-popular back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Her acting is sort of hammy, but then again, Elvira films are meant to be campy and ribald and showcase her many talents (and by talents, I mean boobs).

The plot is similar to one you’d find in an old B film from the early movie years and that works well because Mistress of the Dark IS a B film. There are enough laughs and titillation to make this a Halloween classic. Though it’s obviously not set during Halloween, Elvira is everything people love about Halloween.

(And the boobs don’t hurt, either)

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43 (2013)

Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid), an insane and desperate screenwriter, manages to sneak his way into an interview with producer Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear) for a movie pitch. What follows, as Griffin listens mostly at gunpoint, is a series of loosely-connected short films that Wessler thinks will be his cash cow. There is a story of a man with testicles on his neck who goes on a blind date, one about two men kidnapping a leprechaun and the consequences of doing so, one of a woman who proposes the ultimate gift (which may make you more uncomfortable than you think), and one in which Robin (Batman’s sidekick) is on the Gotham City speed-dating circuit. These are not the only skits, but in the end, they all culminate into a film that is reminiscent of others in its genre such as Kentucky Fried Movie.

There were a ton of stars in this film. Aside from Greg Kinnear and Dennis Quaid, there was also Common (the rapper, from Hell On Wheels), Hugh Jackman, Will Sasso, Richard Gere and others.

That having been said – this film should have been AMAZING. As it stands, it felt like I essentially watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Live…and not their best skits, either. Some of them admittedly made me laugh out loud but most were just potty humor. Poop and piss jokes, literally, comprised most of the skits in the film. The one that had me laughing the most was the leprechaun skit but only because of the novelty of seeing Gerard Butler as a leprechaun spouting obscenities at Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott that’d make a sailor blush.

It may be worth watching, if only once, on Netflix or somewhere else you can find it on the cheap. I suspect that mostly teens may find this funny, but for the rest of us it’s so-so (and not as good as Kentucky Fried Movie, either….not by a long shot).

JOE Rating: ★★

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Original Theatrical Release Date: February 15, 1985
Director: John Hughes

Five high-school kids end up in detention who couldn’t be more different from one another; “The Brain” Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), “The Athlete” Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), “The Basket Case” Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), “The Princess” Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) and “The Criminal” John Bender (Judd Nelson) – they are all different stereotypes who find out that they are all the same in more ways than they imagined.

John Hughes made lots of films, but this one resonated with me more than most. It was set in high school and although I wasn’t in high school when it was released (I was only four years old at the time) I saw it later on in life when I needed to see it and it actually helped me with my own mindset during high school in different ways.

Ringwald and the rest of the cast are well-chosen for their individual roles, especially Judd Nelson as the kinetic John Bender and Ally Sheedy as the creepy girl, Allison. Paul Gleason played a great villain in the form of the teacher looking over detention, Richard Vernon. Ringwald doesn’t really do much different in this film than she did in other Hughes films – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Breakfast Club plays out almost in a vignette fashion as the hours in the day move on and on and while at first being tongue-in-cheek and sort of silly, actually moves on to be relevant and full of heart – a love/hate letter to high school life in the 1980’s.  The performances bring life to a vehicle with not a lot of actual story content – at face value, this is a film about kids in detention….but as far as deeper meanings go, this is an allegory which teaches us that we are all human and all have something akin with one another.

JOE Review: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For The Breakfast Club

Bordello of Blood (1996)

Bordello of Blood (1996)

The second in a series of Tales From The Crypt movies finds Rafe Guttman (Dennis Miller) investigating a funeral parlor that just so happens to be a front for a whorehouse….run by vampires. Lilith (Angie Everheart), the Queen of all vampires, plans on shedding her shackles and turning on the world (and also taking it over). That is, of course, if Rafe doesn’t get in the way of her plans.

If I have to say something about Dennis Miller, all I’ll say is that he’s a fine comedian but he’s never really been cut out for the acting gig. This is the only real instance in which I can say that I liked his presence within the context of a film.

This movie bombed at the box office but it’s always been a sort of guilty pleasure for me. Angie Everheart is gorgeous, despite her terrible acting…and so is Erika Eleniak. Corey Feldman shows up, too, and actually isn’t bad in his role although it’s kind of a similar role to the one he had in The Lost Boys.

The film itself is just silly and campy….sort of as if Quentin Tarantino directed an SNL skit. The puns are abundant and so are the boobs and the blood. This movie is definitely good to laugh-bond over, for sure.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Road House (1989)

Road House (1989)

Dalton (Patrick Swayze) is a legendary “Cooler” who directs and backs up bouncers in rough-and-tumble bars. When a man known as Tilghman (Kevin Tighe) offers to pay him whatever he wants to charge in order to clean up his own bar, the Double Deuce, Dalton accepts and when he moves there and begins cleaning up house, he finds that some folks are resistant to his changes – chief among them Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzarra), who is a lot more dangerous than he looks.

I put off watching the film for years, due to a love-hate relationship I had with Patrick Swayze. I finally found it on Netflix and decided to watch it.

I have to say right off the bat that I did enjoy the film, despite anything that was wrong with it. If anyone could pull off playing a philosopher/bouncer….it was Swayze. Of course, in Road House, he doesn’t really get to pull out all the stops with his lines or dialogue…but he does kick some serious ass, even while wearing mom jeans.

Sam Elliott also has a role in this film as Wade Garrett, although his screen time is far too short. It was great to see HIM kick some ass, too. Most of the fights are your run-of-the mill 80’s bar fights but there were also generous amounts of topless scenes and even a few explosions (I know, right?).

If anything, Road House is worth watching in honor of the now-deceased Patrick Swayze. Though his acting chops weren’t quite up to par like they were in Donnie Darko, you can definitely see why Swayze was all the rage back in the day.

Whether you appreciate Swayze or just need a good, cheesy flick to watch on a Friday night – this one’s for you.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Gravity (2013)

Gravity (2013)

A medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), is on her first space mission with experienced astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) on his last flight before retirement. When a Russian satellite is destroyed, the debris field hurls across the atmosphere with deadly speed, destroying everything in its path. Kowalsky and Stone must find a way to survive in order to make it back to Earth in one piece.

The only thing I had read previously about this film were notable astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson’s tweets about the movie. He said that he enjoyed the movie very much but he was tweeting about the scientific inaccuracies, which made me second-guess going to see it. I’m glad I did give in and go see it, however.

First off, the film looks and sounds (when there is sound) amazing. I didn’t see it in IMAX but I now want to after seeing the regular film. There were only a couple of spots where the CGI didn’t keep the realistic quality and it bumped me out of make-believe-land but overall, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you whether some of it was actual space footage or if it was CGI.

There were only a couple of annoyances, mostly having to do with Bullock’s character (not her acting, her character). Clooney was decent, but aside from those two there weren’t really many other actors aside from Ed Harris and Clooney didn’t really act too differently in this film from any of his other films.

Gravity had me on the edge of my seat a few times in exasperation and stress, so I take that as a sign of a good film if it can get me that worked up.

Go see this, preferably in IMAX and preferably in the dark. By yourself.

JOE Review: ★★★★

Machine Gun Preacher (2011)

Machine Gun Preacher (2011)

Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is a real-life hero formed from the virtual ashes of a hardened criminal who found God and became a construction worker. While on the job, Childers meets a priest from Africa and is inspired to visit, ending up in Sudan and Northern Uganda, where he helps to build an orphanage and ultimately moves on to becoming a liberation fighter trying to save Africa’s children from the clutches of an evil warmonger who uses them as children soldiers in his army.

Machine Gun Preacher is based on the true story events of the real Sam Childers, who endorses the film. The movie is more drama than the trailer and cover art depict, and less action, but there is not enough action OR real-life documentary-style filming to make this as interesting as it could have been. Gerard Butler is passable in the role but looks nothing like the real Childers (not to mention his accent slipping through more than once) and the filmmakers could have dealt more with the more interesting side of Childers’ story which saw him pitting his Christian faith against acts of violence. If they had explored that side of the equation, then the movie could have been great….but as it stands, the movie is just sort of ho-hum with no real staying power. It doesn’t really distinguish itself from other generic action films and there are much better dramas out there to boot.

Still, I think it’s at least worth watching once, if only for your introduction to Sam Childers himself, so you can know a bit about his back story if you’re so inclined. Michelle Monaghan is nice to look at and it was cool to see Michael Shannon as well.

JOE Rating: ★★★