Thursday, February 26, 2009

Film Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD (1989, Stephen Hopkins)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 89 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Wes Craven (yeah, don't fool yourself, he just gets a "characters" credit), director Stephen Hopkins (PREDATOR 2), Lisa Wilcox (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4, a WALKER TEXAS RANGER episode), Michael de Luca (the final screenwriter and writer of THE LAWNMOWER MAN and JUDGE DREDD), Jay Ferguson (composer, also did the soundtracks of such films as LICENSE TO DRIVE and DOUBLE DRAGON: THE MOVIE), Robert Englund.
Tag-lines: "Freddy delivers." Straight, to the point. "Now Freddy's A Daddy, He's Killing For Two." A little weaker, but kind of clever, I guess. "Evil has spawned." A bit of a stretch to call it clever. "Freddy has a son." How is that even a tag-line?
Best one-liner(s): See review.

"Alright, Kruger...THIS TIME IT'S FOR KEEPS!" I'm going to present this review like a latter-day Freddy movie. One-liners shall be inserted with reckless abandon and little-to-no logic.

"Told you comic books was bad for ya."

Part Fives are never too kind to a series. And don't say 'EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' cause that's really just the second installment.

"Bon appetit, bitch!"

But at least THE DREAM CHILD doesn't pull A NEW BEGINNING and present a copycat Freddy or some dumb shit of that nature. "Wanna make babies?!" We got Stephen Hopkins directing here, who has kind of a heavy-handed Pro-Life agenda (see also my review of his PREDATOR 2) which he likes to insert into his genre sequels.

"It's a BOYY-OYY!"

But this is not a BAD movie. "Let's rock and ROLL!" [A girl rolls.] There's certainly some surreal, spit-take inducing moments. Like when Freddy uses eight one-liners to kill one kid. "Better not dream and drive!"

"This boy feels the need for speed!"

"Put your pedal to the metal, Dan!" "Bad year, Dan!" Or when Freddy shreds the 'nar on a glove-shaped skateboard.

"School's out, Kruger!"

And did Freddy's arm just get ripped off and disintegrate into a pile of red and green-striped sweater wearing spiders?! "Is she delicious... or am I CRAZY?" "Filet de Barbie!" Wow, this is exhausting. "Kids...always a disappointment." Wait, that's not even a one-liner! Three stars, for keeping me vaguely entertained (albeit with pursed lips and rolling eyes) for 90 minutes.

Freddy: He's like Wally and the Beav's dad. Because he's also like a 'Mr. Cleaver.' 'Meat Cleaver.' Yes, I know he doesn't use a meat cleaver. I only say that because his glove is just like five, long, thin, pointed meat cleavers, hence the comparison.

-Sean Gill

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Film Review: THE DEAD POOL (1988, Buddy van Horn)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 91 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, Evan C. Kim (CAVEMAN).
Tag-lines: "Dirty Harry Just Learned A New Game."
Best one-liner(s): "Fuck with me, buddy, I'll kick your ass so hard you'll have to unbutton your collar to shit. " or maybe "You're out of bullets. And you know what that means... you're shit outta luck."

This movie is utterly ridiculous, even by Dirty Harry standards. Since 1985, Clint has only acted in films that he himself directed- with three exceptions. One is Wolfgang Petersen's IN THE LINE OF FIRE. The other pair are two of Clint's most hated films- THE DEAD POOL and PINK CADILLAC, both directed by Clint's "stunt double," Buddy van Horn. I have a conspiracy theory to accompany this factoid, but now is neither the time nor place for such an exposé.

Back to THE DEAD POOL. This film is insane. Jim Carrey in a hair metal music video set to Guns 'n Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

Liam Neeson as a sleazy movie director. Harry's new catchphrase is "You're shit out of luck! (which is at least better than his catchphrase in THE ENFORCER, where it was "Marvelous").

DIRTY HARRY series composer Lalo Schifrin tries to update his sounds for the 80's with disastrous results. There's outrageous social commentary that hits you over the head like a ton of bricks- the media loves to report on blood and guts! Violent horror films spawn violence! All Asian American cops know karate! Yup, it's that kind of movie. There's a high speed car chase involving a remote-controlled toy car- with a bomb strapped to it!

And there's a lot of black-leather-glove-wearing-killer stuff that's extremely reminiscent of Dario Argento! If you like DIRTY HARRY movies, though, you'll still be along for the ride.

Clint is Clint, and the female foil this time around is Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson, who, as always, is formidable. And, if you're still thirsty for more Dirty Harry after this, there's always THE ROOKIE, which is DIRTY HARRY 6 in everything but name.

Or, you could just watch this:

-Sean Gill

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Film Review: STUCK (2008, Stuart Gordon)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 85 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Jeffrey Combs (star of REANIMATOR and many Gordons; here, in a cameo as the voice of the 911 operator), Russell Hornsby.
Tag-lines: "Ever had one of those days?"
Best exchange:
PETERSON: Of course, this is not an official offer, but I wanted you to be aware that you are high on my list of possible captains.
BRANDI: Thank you, Mrs. Petersen. I'll really try to do my best.
PETERSON: I know you will. Then I can count on you coming in tomorrow?
BRANDI: [surprised] Uh, Saturday?
PETERSON: I know what day it is, Brandi.
BRANDI: Yes, of course, I know you do; but, but I came in last Saturday.
PETERSON: Oh. I see.
[She starts to turn away]
BRANDI: But no, no, no, no, it's - I can come in, it's fine. It's no problem.

I didn't used to consider myself a Stuart Gordon fan by any means. Aside from DOLLS, his horror flicks just didn't get through to me, even though I'm was trying rather hard to like them. Yet I think sometime after DAGON, Gordon matured, began to fix his gaze upon quotidian horror, and finally found the perfect niche for his dark sense of humor. EDMOND and STUCK are by far my favorite Gordon films, and they brilliantly tackle some of the most important frustrations of our times, STUCK being a brilliant parable for the undercurrent of paralysis that seems to run beneath modern society. Using the story of Chante Mallard, the Texas woman who struck a homeless man with her vehicle and left him in her windshield to die, Gordon spins a black comedy which draws on the Kitty Genovese syndrome to the nth degree. But in this case, there's no one else to blame or to assume will 'take care of it.' It's a parable for an America who is willing to make the phone call, but hangs up as soon as someone answers. A people who will pull up to the hospital gate, but then peel out, frazzled and afraid.

It's about not being able to take responsibility, the pervasiveness of indecision, the hesitation that morphs into complete paralysis- something I think we can all truly relate to on some level, whether you're unsure about takeout options, a college major, or where to stash the body. Mena Suvari is impressive as the deluded 'upwardly mobile' nursing home attendant who lives only for the weekend club scene. Stephen Rea literally drips pathos as the recently homeless sad sack. Now some were angered by it (vague spoilers ahead), but I was actually pleased to see the narrative cathartically diverge from the news story, though I can't help but feel that it's meant as an "Owl Creek Bridge"-style finale which doesn't go through the motions of jolting back to reality. For an interesting double-bill, see it with Noah Baumbach's 1995 tale of post-grad ennui and paralysis, KICKING AND SCREAMING.

-Sean Gill

Monday, February 23, 2009

Film Review: THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959, William Castle)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 75 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Vincent Price, Elisha Cook, Jr. (THE MALTESE FALCON), Julie Mitchum (Robert Mitchum's older sis), Richard Long (The seminal TWILIGHT ZONES, "No. 12 Looks Just Like You" and "Person or Persons Unknown"), Carol Ohmart (Miss Utah 1946), and Von Dexter (composer for THE TINGLER, MR. SARDONICUS, 13 GHOSTS, etc.).
Tag-lines: "See it with someone with warm hands!"
Best one-liner(s): "I am not such a fool as to hang my wife from the ceiling, by a rope! "

"What husband hasn't, at some time, wanted to kill his wife? What husband hasn't had a thousand opportunities to do it in such a way so that he'd never be suspected?" Gimmick-meister William Castle submits, for your consideration, his latest shlocky piece de resistance:'s... a skeleton on a string. Alright, so it's no 'Percepto' or 'Illusion-O'... it's called 'Emergo,' and it's a glow-in-the-dark skeleton on a string, goddammit! Hey, at least it's better than Castle handing out useless gold-painted plastic coins for ZOTZ! (1962). Well, regardless of whether the gimmick is up to par, the flick is still pretty solid. It stars Vincent Price, for God's sakes. There's teeny coffins, vats of acid, zany ghosts, disembodied heads, and a Frank Lloyd Wright house. There's an aging Elisha Cook, Jr., TWILIGHT ZONE regular Richard Long, and blood dripping from the ceiling on Bob Mitchum's older sister's hand. (I kept waiting for something worse to happen to her, or maybe Vincent to hit on her, so Bob Mitchum could crash through the wall and issue a thrashing of Biblical proportions. Cause although Mitchum usually doesn't give a damn, I think that's the one thing that would actually get him worked up.) Then there's Vincent.

Vincent does not disappoint. Vincent never disappoints. What does he think of his wife's morbid sense of humor? Vincent thinks she's "so amusing." What does he think of your prattling on about ghosts? He thinks he's "had enough of your 'spook talk,' Pritchard."

Everything he says is gold. And thats largely due to the velvety, soothingly ominous timbre of his voice. Combine that with a 'stache, a suit, and a blase attitude, and you've got a horror icon that can do no wrong. Weak gimmick, strong cast, and four stars. Viva Vincent.

-Sean Gill

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Film Review: THE WIZARD (1989, Todd Holland)

Stars: 1 of 5.
Running Time: 100 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director Todd Holland (who went on to redeem himself, directing some episodes of TWIN PEAKS and co-creating WONDERFALLS), Christian Slater, Beau Bridges, Fred Savage, Luke Edwards.
Tag-lines: "They're on a cross-country adventure to the world's greatest video championship. It's more than a's the chance of a lifetime."
Best one-liner(s): "All right, I'm looking for a couple of kids. This one's a mental case, have you seen them?"

I am this movie's target audience. It's purported interests are MY interests: NES, Christian Slater, and 80's cheese. So allow me to explain the one star rating with four talking points:

#1. Waste of the Slater factor. So you got Slater, fresh off of HEATHERS, and... you sit him down on the sidelines? You're gonna tell him to put the eyebrows and the Nicholson voice away?! You, Todd Holland, sir, are an idiot.

There's still one scene in a diner where the Slater factor is high, but ONE scene in a WHOLE MOVIE of Slater? Come on. I'll tell you what you do; you switch out Slater's and Savage's characters, and you got yourself a much better flick. Seriously, though- not to harp on it, but HOW DO YOU WASTE CHRISTIAN SLATER LIKE THIS?! What is wrong with you?

#2. Cabazon Dinosaurs. These roadside attractions were cartoonishly and creatively depicted by Tim Burton in PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985).

Why would you make them central to the plot of a shitty movie a mere four years later? All anybody's gonna be thinkin' about is PEE WEE, and this is a far fuckin' cry from PEE WEE.

#3. Blatant consumerism. I can laugh at a feature-length commercial if it's ridiculous enough. I think MAC AND ME is hilarious.

Yeah, that's Tobey Maguire on the left. Still doesn't quite give this flick the push over the edge it needs, though.

The problem here is this: THE WIZARD thinks it's sincere when it's not. It thinks it's telling a heart-wrenching family saga, when it's really just hawking the power glove, which, everybody knows, sucked big time. I would've liked it much more if it was called THE POWER GLOVE AND ME and featured a scene where a wheelchair-bound kid fell off a cliff and was saved by the power glove. Which leads me to:

#4, Retardedsploitation.

I don't really have to spell it out for you. What this movie does with the mentally disabled is offensive enough, as is. It would be offensive if it were a Lifetime movie. But as part of a 100-minute commercial? That's like twisting a knife in the wound. THE WIZARD is not a fun jaunt down memory lane. It's a shitstorm of vulgar consumerism, utter mawkishness, and criminal misuse of Slater. One star.

-Sean Gill

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GO-GO KILLERS! Trailer Reel on YouTube!

A new play written by Sean Gill. Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Klein. Coming in May 2009 to the Sage Theater in Times Square.

Film Review: ROLLER BOOGIE (1979, Mark L. Lester)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 103 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director Mark L. Lester (CLASS OF 1984, FIRESTARTER), Linda Blair (THE EXORCIST, THE EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC), Jim Bray, Beverly Garland, James van Patten.
Tag-lines: "It's love on wheels! "
Best one-liner(s): "So what, I'm a musical genius! Whatta drag! Whatta bummer!" or perhaps "Get the goons with the fruit!"

I just couldn't get on board with ROLLER BOOGIE. It didn't possess the ridiculousness of STAYING ALIVE, the glitter of CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC, or the sheer virtuosity of BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.

Generally these films are a mix of poorly-acted bad dialogue, intense visual spectacle, and spit-take inducing moves. ROLLER BOOGIE only has the first item on that list. There were no roller skating moves here that caused me to spray Coke II out of my nose all over my Lisa Frank trapper keeper, and that's a bad thing. Basically we got whiny rich chippy Linda Blair and talentless, charmless Jim Bray pussyfooting around a narcissistic, sad sack summer romance with some mediocre skating thrown in for flavor. It wants so desperately to be SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, and, well, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: "I watched John Travolta in PERFECT, I KNEW John Travolta, and, Linda, you are no John Travolta." In fact, she's a younger, untalented, less attractive version of Kathleen Turner.

She sucks. And she's rich and tools around in a Rolls-Royce, so NOT ONLY does she suck, but we also LOATHE her. Jim Bray is a skater evidently training for the Olympics, or so he constantly says. Would that be ICE-skating? One would assume, but though the Olympics are mentioned about 10 times, the word 'ice' is not uttered once. I'm pretty sure you couldn't get a gold medal in Roller Disco, even in '79. Anyway, it all leads up to a dance contest. One of the other pairs of contestants is an actually talented black couple, well-trained and finely costumed. For a brief instant, you think you're in one of those other movies I mentioned. But no. Of course Linda and Jim win, and though in these sorts of films, it's usually a hollow victory with a stacked deck, I don't think, in the course of film history, that the winning of a contest has ever been more feigned, white-bred, and meaningless than it is here.

It, and this whole movie, are like letting the air rush out of a balloon. Pffft.

-Sean Gill

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Film Review: CANDYMAN (1992, Bernard Rose)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 99 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Virginia Madsen, Philip Glass, Tony Todd, Vanessa Williams (no, not that one, the other one), Ted Raimi, Xander Berkeley, Clive Barker.
Tag-lines: "We Dare You To Say His Name Five Times!"
Best one-liner(s): "I hear you're looking for Candyman, bitch. Well, you found him! " [Not said by Candyman. Candyman is a class act.]

Guess who's coming to dinner? Candyman. This is not a good movie. It's a mediocre movie with some brilliant elements to it. It's hard to explain; the cinematography is excellent, but I didn't care about anything happening within the frame. I couldn't connect to the characters, the mythology was weak, and the plot became too convoluted for it's own good. A couple times the Philip Glass score tricked me into thinking the film had weight, but it was only the music. Speaking of the music, Glass delivers one of his greatest scores. Everyone should own a copy. It takes elements from his previous work and infuses them with massive choral elements and a frightening, dusty old church organ. In fact, I think the director wants you to recall prior Glass movies through the imagery- helicopter shots of Cabrini Green mirror the Pruit Igoe segment in KOYAANISQATSI, and police procedural stuff reminds one of THE THIN BLUE LINE.

Too bad this masterful score is wasted on this movie. But then there's Tony Todd. As the eponymous Candyman, he's the only character who's not boring. And, as the big villain, it comes as some surprise that he's likable, charming, and Shakespearian.

Candyman is someone I could see inviting to a dinner party, and not having to worry whether he was going to cause a scene or not. Look at his competition. They're either totally crass (Freddy, Critters, Chucky, etc.) or have no personality whatsoever (Jason, Michael Myers). So despite the movie being weak, I have to give points for Candyman being the classiest horror villain since Vincent Price. I could see myself hanging out with Candyman. Just not in the context of this movie, please. Two stars.

-Sean Gill

Monday, February 16, 2009

Film Review: COFFY (1973, Jack Hill)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 91 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Pam Grier, Robert DoQui (ROBOCOP), Sid Haig, Alan Arbus, Brooker Bradshaw.
Tag-lines: "The Baddest One-Chick Hit-Squad that ever hit town!"
Best one-liner(s): "I go away for half an hour for you to turn a trick... and I come back and find you ballin' some niggah bitch! You WHITE TRAMP!"

A car door opens. A man emerges. He's wearing a goldenrod one-piece jumpsuit, revealing most of his chest. He has a ridiculous silver belt buckle, a gold-encrusted cane, a maroon felt fedora, a pointy collar, gold chains, a cape, ginormous sunglasses, and a 'stache.

No one has EVER looked more like a pimp. Suddenly, a song: "King George! He's a pimp!" It's perhaps the most blatant case of 'stating the obvious' in film history. And Jack Hill's COFFY manages to do it with a completely straight face. With no irony, no 'wink and a nod.' And THAT is why COFFY works, in a nutshell. Pam Grier is a force of nature, and she gives this film its ferocious, untamable energy. COFFY is one wild sprint through L.A.'s underworld with beatings, verbal barbs, catfights, and "B*tch, I'll cut you's." COFFY's got it all: ridiculous tag-lines ("Coffy- she'll cream you!," "No one sleeps when they mess with Coffy!"), broken-bottle fights, lesbian prostitutes, one-eyed villains (see also: Hill's SWITCHBLADE SISTERS), over-the-top racists (who get theirs, of course), completely low-rent sets, Sid Haig as a vicious hoodlum, and Pam Grier doing a laughable Jamaican accent (while undercover). It's got all this, and then it's got a serious social message, too.

The revenge-seeking Coffy is forced to confront a crooked black congressional candidate who makes an impassioned plea to save his life- "Black people want dope, and brown people want dope, and as long as there people are deprived of a decent life, they'll settle for anything to just plain feel good with." He argues that his nefarious doings are part of a larger, positive social agenda. But is he to be believed? That's up to Coffy. And because the filmmakers were earnest (see also: the blaxploitation scene in Hill's SWINGING CHEERLEADERS), COFFY actually carries some weight. Four stars.

-Sean Gill


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Film Review: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1992, Fran Rubel Kuzui)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 86 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Kristy Swanson, Rutger Hauer, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Swank, David Arquette, Paul Reubens, Luke Perry, Stephen Root, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Ben Affleck
Tag-lines: "Pert. Wholesome. Way Lethal."
Best one-liner(s): "All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die. Now it may not sound too great to a sconehead like you, but I think it's swell. And you come along and tell me I'm a member of the hairy mole club so you can *throw* things at me?"

Kristy Swanson. She won the hearts of a nation with her stunning turns in DEADLY FRIEND and FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. She fell pretty damn hard in the mid to late 90's, but here she was still A-list. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is a pretty solid movie. It's saved from mediocrity by a couple key elements. Swanson is solid. And when Buffy says her greatest goals in life are to marry Christian Slater and move to Europe, you really gotta respect that. Also respectable is Donald Sutherland in a ridiculous overcoat and fedora. Sometimes he stares off into space and gives it weight, as if he is considering the eons he's lived through.

He's actually just visualizing his paycheck, but since he's a real trouper, he's able to make it work for the picture. Crossing her eyes and doing spit-takes is two time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank. Maybe she was channeling this character by mistake in BLACK DAHLIA. Yeah, that movie's an abomination, but that's neither here nor there. Sporting some svelte lip carpet, playing the violin, and classin' up the joint is Rutger Hauer.

He still has a lot of dignity left after WEDLOCK and BLIND FURY, which is a most impressive feat, and one worthy of accolade and a hearty pat on the back. Here. But the silver lining is Paul Reubens. Like some bizarro cross between his Pee-Wee Herman persona and Tom Savini, Reubens' vampire comes out of nowhere and improvises up a storm.

His memorable final scene gives this film it's fourth star, and is a tribute to actors who are able to rise above studio mediocrity... by doing whatever the hell they want! Side note: look for an uncredited Ben Affleck as #10 at the basketball game.

-Sean Gill

Friday, February 13, 2009

Film Review: APPALOOSA (2008, Ed Harris)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 115 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons, Lance Henriksen, Renee Zellweger, Timothy Spall (buddy and frequent collaborator of Ed Harris and Mike Leigh).
Tag-lines: "Feelings get you killed."
Best one-liner(s): "Never ain't here yet."

APPALOOSA's a rock solid Western. Imagine an episode of DEADWOOD directed by Ed Harris, and there ya go. They even use the 'Deadwood' font. I figure a man can judge a Western by how strong his desire to shave is afterward. Following the mustache party that was TOMBSTONE, I didn't want to shave for weeks. APPALOOSA is more of a 'I'll shave in a couple days' kinda Western. Something like HANG 'EM HIGH, I'm shaving DURING the movie. Anyway, I was worried when I heard Ed was making this movie. The last time he directed (which, incidentally, was his directorial debut) was POLLOCK. And during that film, he got so effin' intense that he collapsed and required medical attention. The only thing more intense than my desire to see Ed Harris films is my need for nothing bad to happen to Mr. Harris. Here, he evidently kept his intensity levels within a safe, non-hospitalizable margin, but you wouldn't know it from watching the film.

Just a couple of really intense buddies. On...

...and off the screen.

APPALOOSA delivers. It's absolutely beautiful to look at, Ed and Viggo Mortensen continue (albeit in a far more comradely scenario) their powerful chemistry from A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, and there's excellent supporting turns from Jeremy Irons and a near-unrecognizable Lance Henriksen. Ed and Viggo slap goons in the face, and then shoot 'em down. Even Renee Zellweger can't ruin this. (And I was half-convinced that she would.) Harris directs his cast of characters with virtuosic nuance, and the centerpiece is the complex relationship between he and Viggo. Ed is in turns childish, brutal, naive, sweet, and grizzled; and the denouement rings true- it's at once a condemnation and an affirmation of Wild West ideals. Four stars. Keep on truckin', Mr. Harris.

-Sean Gill

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Film Review: THE LAST SHARK (1981, Enzo G. Castellari)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 88 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Vic Morrow (Jennifer Jason Leigh's dad, 1990: BRONX WARRIORS, THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE), James Franciscus (Dario Argento's THE CAT O' NINE TAILS), De Angelis (they did the music for a ton of third-rate Spaghettis, and a lot of Enzo Castellari movies like KEOMA and THE BIG RACKET).
Tag-lines: " A quiet, restful summer in the lazy coastal town of Port Harbor is abruptly about to end."
Best one-liner(s): See review!

Wow. Where do I begin? Enzo G. Castellari is one of the lesser known Italian genre directors of the 70's and 80's. Expect that to change, at least somewhat, when Tarantino rolls out his reimagining of Castellari's INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1978) this summer. Castellari is not on par with Mario Bava or Dario Argento, but he's totally on par with Lucio Fulci or Lamberto Bava, and is definitely better than the likes of Bruno Mattei or Michele Soavi, all of whom are probably better known than Castellari. Castellari specialized in COMPLETE rip-offs. Rip-offs, of course, re-routed and re-wired through his ridiculous Italian brain. 1990: BRONX WARRIORS is THE WARRIORS meets ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK in a dingy Italian gay bar. INGLORIOUS BASTARDS is THE DIRTY DOZEN, but sleazier. And THE LAST SHARK is JAWS... if JAWS was a nonsensical Castellari-directed giallo. All that's missing is the shark wearing black gloves and frantically whispering. And so I feel that THE LAST SHARK got its start on one balmy Italian night- Enzo probably just got back from the movies, where he had watched JAWS. He draws a bath, lights some candles, and gets in the tub. While in the tub, he probably drinks an entire bottle of Campari. Then he starts playing with a piece of styrofoam and a toy boat, and THE LAST SHARK is born. But I can show you better than I can tell you. Here's a little taste:

Reaction shots? Check. An Italian woman screaming? Check. Italo Horror Disco? Check. Stock footage? Check. Ridiculous slo-mo? Check. Head-scratching character choices? Check and check. Lemme cut straight to the chase- 10 reasons why THE LAST SHARK is awesome and Enzo G. Castellari deserves our praise:


Cause this guy is clearly an American, old money, New England politician, and NOT an Italian.


Because it accurately depicts summer in New England. Confederate flags are waved around in celebration of America's favorite sport: Windjammin'.

That is, windsurfing whilst jammin' to sweet Italo Disco.


Because Vic Morrow doesn't overdo it.


Because the terror of shark victims and special effects of their demises are essential to building palpable atmosphere.

#6. Because Enzo stumbled upon the greatest blunder of JAWS and was able to correct it. Why waste all that time building up character and the threat the shark presents, when you can jump right to Quint (Robert Shaw)? THE LAST SHARK does it right, and we have Quint, I mean Vic Morrow, and his hunt for the shark at centerstage by the five-minute mark. (We needed the first five minutes for a windjammin' montage.)

#5. Because it contains the hard-hitting media critique frequently present in these kinds of movies. During a fatal shark attack, a sleazy TV producer says to his cameraman "Keep that camera rolling! You get some good shots of that shark and I'll buy you a lobster dinner!" And what do you suppose the odds are, that after the shark is defeated, the sleazy TV producer says to our surviving heroes "Is there anything you'd like to say on camera? What was it like defeating the shark?," and then our hero punches him out? Yeah. The odds of that happening are very high, because it does happen.

#4. One-liners that don't make sense. I don't think anything can beat 1990: BRONX WARRIORS in this category, but THE LAST SHARK comes close. Here's a few:

Faux-Quint's ultimatum at the town-hall meeting: "You have two choices. One. Get out of his way. The other is to hold your ground, with fire, and try to kill him, because you do not have another choice!"

The stuffy politician who wants to keep the beaches open for windjammin', no matter what: "No damn shark's gonna screw up a year of work and planning!"

"One thing's for sure- it wasn't a floating chainsaw!"

The out of town showboat: "Don't worry, it's just a fish." (He gets his later, of course.)


#2. So Enzo heard everybody was impressed by the 'Zombie versus Shark" scene in Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE. How do you outdo "Zombie versus Shark?" Try "Shark versus Helicopter." I wish I could get a better picture of this, but it's purposefully obscured by the filmmakers so you don't notice it's a toy.


Because we learn what happens when a shark appears suddenly underneath a boat.

And then it all ends with some thoughtful, Eurotrash piano music. Bravo, Enzo!

-Sean Gill