The Challenge (or the “Thrill of Victory”)
If you’ve been keeping tabs on this blog, you’ve noticed that my last few entries have been excessively long. I don’t expect anyone to read the pieces in their entirety (though if you do, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send you an autographed picture and a one dollar bill).
Honestly, I get bored reading my own stuff. That’s why I thought it might be good if I set some limits for myself on this entry.
- I will not exceed over two paragraphs for each review.
- I will try to be as positive as I can (something else that there has been a shortage of here lately).
- I will make an arbitrary attempt at self promotion by reaching out to a film distribution company.
Study that last statement: Whatever could I mean?
Hello Echo Bridge Entertainment
There’s a rising star on the horizon of budget DVD manufacturing. That would be Echo Bridge, which as far as I can tell is somehow affiliated with Miramax. I’m sitting here looking at one of their “Horror Classics” collections that I bought at a gas station for $5. That measly 5 spot got me not just one...not just two...but eight entire horror movies from the mid-to-late 90s. Here was the pleasant surprise: the picture and the sound quality is absolutely terrific. I could knit pick and say that: “Well, there’s no widescreen...and no special features.”
That hardly matters if you’ve spent as much time traversing the bargain bin as I have. Trust me, this sort of value and quality is a rarity.
Now my question for Echo Bridge is this: Don’t you want me for a pitch man? In other words, wouldn’t you love to send me a box of free DVDs? I’m angling for the “Cult Classics” collection, and I don’t want to keep shelling out $5 to keep your fine company in business.
Now that I’ve sung the praises of Echo Bridge Entertainment...
Some Wonderfully Succinct and Positive Reviews
I remember when The Faculty came out and disappeared sometime in my college years. This would have been right after the “Scream paves the way for a gluttony of snarky, self reverential horror flicks” phenomenon. Truth be told: that is exactly what I wrote this film off as and never saw the thing.
The plot is relatively easy to summarize: the kids find out the teachers at the local high school are aliens!
You know what? This is a vastly better movie than I was expecting (remember “positivity...positivity...”). Because...
- This works as both a parody and a legitimate movie. Why is that? Kevin Williamson (yes, the writer of Scream) only came in for the rewrite and added the comedy and character nuance. The original plot was constructed (complete with elaborate twists and its own logic) by two writers named David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel. That leads to a rare case of a movie eating its cake and having it too.
- Robert Rodriguez was brought in as a director for hire, and he knows what to do. There are enough Rodriguez flourishes to make it interesting, but he also does a solid job interpreting the story. (Compare this to the self indulgent piece of crap Sin City and you start to wish that he would tone it down again.)
- This is fun to watch in retrospect because most of the cast went on to greener pastures. John Stewart stands out as one of the most diabolical teachers. I wish he would spend more time away from the Daily Show desk and do some legit acting.
- I’m not going to over sell you on the virtues of The Faculty. You’re not going to have your life drastically altered by it or anything. Just that I liked it more than I thought I would...that’s all.
(Remember...”positivity,” “positivity,” “positivity.”)
Another bone to pick with the Echo Bridge Company is that there is no back cover copy. That’s precisely the sort of thing a picky movie fan lives for and loves to point out. I always have a good time spotting “Best Film of the Year” and then realizing it’s a review from an obscure local rag from a place like Dayton, Ohio.
Here’s “give me” for you regarding The Prophecy: “The Prophecy is a well dressed B-level movie that provides A-level entertainment.” You can feel free to quote me on that (in very small lettering or an asterisk that leads to the bottom of the box).
Was that my short and succinct review for the flick? Not entirely. The Prophecy is a bit of a head scratcher for me.
There’s the plot: which as far as I can ascertain is about an apocalypse that is forecasted in an undiscovered chapter of the Book of Revelations. There’s Christopher Walken adjusting his trademark characteristics to perfectly fit the role of Gabriel the Angel. Elias Koetas is a cop who was once studying to be a priest until he had a “vision.” This has something to do with Heaven and Hell...did he happen to foresee the events detailed in the next 90 minutes? Then there’s Virginia Madsen as a school teacher who sees angels...and Eric Stolz as...well, I don’t know exactly. Another angel? Just wait until Viggo Mortensen shows up as the devil for a few scant minutes. (The next sentence contains a bit of a spoiler, although it might be a confused one.) Are we to believe that the Devil offers a solution to the problem and “saves the day?”
The issue might be that writer and director Gregory Wilden tries to pack an extraordinary amount of dense mythology into 120 minutes. The film moves so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep track without a score card.
What are the “pros” in this scenario? The Prophecy contains very distinctive and scary images of devils, angels, and the afterlife. Koetas does well with a somewhat cliched role of the cop that has “seen it all.” He even sells us on the fact that he was once a man of the cloth (his religious aspects are still causing him some inner torment).
Mostly, though, there is Christopher Walken. He’s menacing and funny; and is missed dearly whenever he leaves the screen.
The Challenge Part Two (or the “Agony of Defeat.”)
This hasn’t been wonderfully succinct or particularly positive, has it?
I still have two more movies to mention...drat!
There’s a point of confusion for me with this movie. I originally saw a chunk of it on late night TV when it was called by the much more appropriate title The Wisdom of Crocodiles. This is half of a wonderfully intriguing and original “vampire” film starring an eerily young looking Jude Law (pre-hair loss). I would compare it to a glossier, artier version of George A. Romero’s Martin (in which you don’t know if our main character is a true vampire or not).
I won’t delve too far into the Law character’s methods of womanizing and manipulation. I’ll just say that he is an entirely plausible pseudo-vampire, and deserves a stronger film to fully delve into his twisted psyche.
The second half of the movie falls completely out of sync with what we just watched. There’s too many balls in the air, and my attention was spread thin with the vast number of subplots. Each one of them is rich enough to carry itself, but mix them all together and you get a lumpy milkshake.
(Succinct...Succinct...Positive...Positive. I can do it!)
I thought this movie fucking blew. That was until it came to the “open for a sequel” ending and left me hanging.
Another “vampire” flick: good atmosphere, quality make up effects, and Angus Scrimm in a cameo.
Yeah, the end. (See, I can do it.)
Hey, Echo Bridge...
I wasn’t joking about that box of free DVDs.