So, I have this idea. Bear with me, because it sounds more than a bit insane. Every so often, I’ll throw one of these together, based on three completely unrelated films I’ve seen recently. They will never be of the same genre, tone, style, or contain any other similarities. Just a bit of me watching odd stuff, and grouping it together. Okay? Okay.
This week’s edition:
So yeah, you can see that I had an…interesting weekend. I finally unpacked my film collection, and, though I did not pick anything from it, it was nice to see it outside of a box. Instead, I picked up The Evil Dead from Target, seeing as I’d never viewed it before, and managed to catch the other two films on television. Well, I actually recorded it. Thank goodness for TiVo. Remember back when you had to record TV with a VCR? There are reasons why this is the best era to be alive. Now, you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to program the damn VCR!
None of these were films I had seen before, by the way, so this series serves a dual purpose. On with the show!
Grab Bag Item #1: Sam Raimi’s Cult Horror Flick
From the outside, especially considering the immense popularity of Army of Darkness, with its incredible camp, one might be surprised at the remarkable self-seriousness possessed by the original. At least, for the most part. The film is a straight-up horror flick, in the way that AoD is a straight-up comedy, and Evil Dead 2 is somewhere in between.
The film tells the story of your typical teenage horror movie group who take a trip up to a secluded cabin. Its only so long until they run into a supernatural phenomenon, in this case, The Book of the Dead, which turns people into zombie-like creatures, the titular “evil dead,” who have no semblance of their former selves, and can only be killed by increasingly violent dismemberment. One by one, the group are taken, and the remnants must slaughter their former friends.
While the film is no longer as effective as it used to be in straight-up scares, due to dated low-budget effects, it still works, and has a suitably eerie and unsettling atmosphere to it. It’s also surprisingly original, subverting the “Final Girl” trope by leaving a male character alive.
There are, however, a few problems. Like I said, the effects are dated, in particular, the stop motion deaths late in the game, which do not look good…at all. There are moments that don’t work, like the *ahem* “tree rape” scene, which is at once uncomfortable and awkward, and the joke ending kind of undermines the whole film, though it is undeniably hilarious.
Unfortunately, however, Bruce Campbell showcases little of his trademark Ash charm in this installment, as he’s given little to work with, though he’s still the best actor present.
Not perfect, but certainly a classic of 80s horror, The Evil Dead earns an A-.
Grab Bag Item #2: The Most Arnold-y Movie
Yeah, Commando. Jeez, Commando. Is there a movie that’s as good as Commando, while also being so incredibly terrible? I doubt it.
Commando tells the tale of John Matrix (seriously, that’s his name) a retired soldier who ran an elite military unit, the best of the best. But that’s all behind him now, as he spends his time caring for his daughter, as shown by a traditional 80’s montage. He’s living an ordinary life, until they take his daughter. From there, it’s kind of Taken-lite, with a worse actor at the center, and an ineffective emotional core. Not to say that Arnold isn’t at his best (worst) in this film (seriously, this is the best Arnold film that’s not actually a good film), but he really doesn’t convince emotionally.
The action is what counts, though. How is it? Well, not great, up until the end. It’s a little dull and uninspired, until the end battle, which is so over-the-top it makes the rest of the film worth it. Seriously, remember that scene in Predator where Dutch and crew attack that village, spouting one-liners? That’s basically this entire film. Unfortunately, that type of action works best compressed into a segment or short film, such as the beginning of Predator or the brilliance that is Kung Fury.
However unintelligent it might be, Commando still is ostentatiously zealous about itself, with a quick wit and snappy one-liners. A solid C-.
Grab Bag Item #3: Cary Elwes + Mel Brooks = ?
Robin Hood: Men in Tights is a 1993 Mel Brooks parody of Robin Hood; in particular, of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. And, you know what? I love it! Sure, it’s far from Mel Brooks’s best work, but it’s astute, it’s hilarious, and Cary Elwes is the second-most beautiful man to live through the 90’s, behind Jeff Goldblum.
Not only is Cary Elwes beautiful, he’s fantastic, showcasing his impeccable comic timing and once again providing his Westley persona to the world.
The rest of the cast does not disappoint, and I am ever so grateful that Hulk Hogan declined the role of Little John. I’d rather have a no-name actor than Hulk Hogan, who ruins everything he’s in. He’s also generally unpleasant to look at.
The film is really funny, and highly recommended for at least one viewing. You will not be disappointed. An easy B+.
Sorry for the post being up late, it took a while to get wi-fi set up, but I’m good now. How was your weekend? Are you counting down the days until Christmas too? Have a spectacular day, thank you for reading, follow me on Twitter (or don’t) @ThatOtherCritic, and I’ll catch you on the flip side. Laters!