ORBzine Movie Reviews August 2000


Aidan Quinn plays a scientist who earns a living by proving that ghosts and supernatural events are hoaxes. He is summoned to a country mansion, and meets Kate Beckinsale who lives there with her two brothers. One is Anthony Andrews (the British actor, not to be confused with Anthony Edwards from E.R.).

In one of his final appearances, Sir John Gielgud has a cameo as the local doctor.

The film is based on the book by James Herbert , and directed by Lewis Gilbert , who worked on several James Bond films and also co-produced this film along with Anthony Andrews.

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  • The Lost Boys

    A single mother and her two teenage sons move to a small town in California, which they soon discover is missing persons capital of the USA.

    The elder brother (Jason Patric) gets involved with a gang of teenage bikers led by Kiefer Sutherland ( Dark City ).

    The younger brother gets involved with the Frog Brothers, a pair of self-styled Vampire Hunters played by Corey Feldman and Corey Haim (The Goonies ).

    The mother gets involved with a businessman who seems pleasant enough, but keeps a couple of massive guard-dogs.

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  • Blood of Fu Manchu

    Christopher Lee plays the yellow peril, taken from the books by Sax Rohmer.

    Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee - Dracula ) has a new base of operations in a lost city somewhere in South America. He has a cunning plan. A group of caucasian women have been abducted, brainwashed and altered to have a poisonous kiss. One is sent to England, to target Nayland Smith. The poison blinds its victim, then slowly kills him.

    Nayland Smith and his friend, Doctor Petrie, travel to South America to find the cure. This was filmed on location in Brazil, so it does not look as bad as it might.

    Fu Manchu is having problems with a local bandito named Sancho Lopez. Yes, a Figaro lookalike is almost more of a threat than Nayland Smith himself! Fun Manchu's dacoits capture the fat greasy bandito, and use him as a pawn.

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  • Stargate

    This is early 1990s SF hokum from Devlin & Emmerich, who have brought skiffy to blockbuster budgets

    The action starts on the Giza Plateau, 1928, where a mysterious arch is uncovered.

    We go forward to 1993, to an Egyptology lecture where the protagonist, Dr Daniel Jackson (James Spader), explains that there are no hieroglyphics anywhere in the Pyramids and thus they are probably far older than the accepted date of about 2500 BCE.

    This film is not the first time the topic has been raised. Erich Von Daniken brought such issues to light in the 1970s, just as Professor M.K. Jessup did in the 1930s. However, many people are unwilling to challenge accepted views, and the term Pyramidiot is sometimes used to denigrate the

    As a note of trivia, one of the attendees mentions Colonel Veiss who discovered the name of Pharoh Khufu scrawled in a tiny corner in the Great Pyramid. Obviously this inspired use of that name for a character in The Visitor. The other hand-down to that TV show is the presence of the actor Leon Rippy.

    The other protagonist is Colonel Jack O'Neill (Kurt Russell - Escape from New York, Escape from L.A. ), a Special Forces officer on medical leave because his son accidentally shot himself with O'Neill's gun. We learn this through expositionary dialogue between a couple of grunts - a sure sign of lazy script-writing!

    Jackson and O'Neill meet at a secret US military base - a former missile silo in Creek Mountain, Colorado. The Stargate is 10,000 years old, and it looks like it spent the last 65 years being prodded by the US military. But why do they take it as anything other than a decorative feature? Most 1920s Egyptological artefacts (such as the Sphinx's beard) are in dusty corners of museum store-rooms. And saying they HAD been studying it for a number of years, why the hell hadn't they got it translated already?

    Jackson looks at the work O'Neill's team has done, and fixes the shoddy translation done by the fat guy from Spin City. Yes, Jackson was recruited not because of his theories, but because he is an expert at deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics!

    Jackson works out how to work the Stargate -
    It's on the other side of the known universe.

    Our intrepid adventurers go through the Stargate - Jackson, O'Neill and a unit of Special Forces grunts - and find themselves trapped. They take the opportunity to explore.

    Jackson, supposedly an expert Egyptologist, mis-identifies the Eye of Horus as the Eye of Ra. This kind of stupid, deliberate mix-up is rife within the film industry; writers take short-cuts and Directors make unspeakably illogical things happen on-screen because it looks good.

    The good guys explorations are interrupted by hi-tech evil aliens led by Ra - played by Jaye Davidson (Crying Game).

    As the film develops, O'Neill's personal conflict (his guilt over his son's death) takes an important role. He will not risk shooting hostage children (but he WILL nuke them!), and develops a father-son relationship with a young native boy.

    Jackson's character development regards a native woman called Sha'uri ( Mili Avital - Arabian Nights ), who helps him learn the native tongue ...

    The film may SOUND slow-moving, but the climax is a life-or-death battle that takes place while the timer is ticking down on a nuclear warhead.

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  • Creeping Flesh, The

    This is a Hammer film from 1972, set in Victorian England. The story is told in flashback, and centres around two brothers. One, played by Peter Cushing ( Dracula ), is a scientist who thinks he has discovered the missing evolutionary link. The other, played by Christopher Lee ( Blood of Fu Manchu ), is a psychiatrist in charge of an asylum for dangerous inmates.

    Cushing returns from Indonesia with a well-preserved proto-human corpse. Examination of its blood shows strange antibodies. He tests a sample on his lab monkey, and discovers it has the apparent property of removing all evil impulses. He injects it into his daughter, to save her from the insanity (nymphomania followed by a mental breakdown) that took her mother.

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  • Snowbeast

    Skiers at a ski resort in the Rocky mountains are being killed off by a mysterious beast. The local sheriff and his Olympic-class skier friend (played by Bo Svenson) go out to hunt the creature - a killer bigfoot!

    The two protagonists' love interest is a female news reporter (Svenson's wife, the sheriff's ex-GirlFriend) who interferes and throws herself into mortal jeopardy just to get a story!

    This film was made in the 1970s, when such subjects as Bigfoot were topical. Also notable are the overtones of Jaws, which came out only a couple of years before this film did. Since this is a low-budget thriller, very little of the beast itself is shown on-screen; mostly we just see from its point of view as it stalks its prey.

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  • Stephen King's Sleepwalkers

    Alice Krige (Ghost Story, Star Trek VII: First Contact) and Brian Krause ( Charmed ) play mother and son, a pair of soul-sucking shape-shifters. They can make themselves invisible, and when they feed their faces become animalistic - obviously an influence for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Television show.

    The only thing that can defeat the creatures is the common house-cat. Even the tamest little kitten instinctively attacks and brutally savages the creatures at the first opportunity. Yes, the plot shows blatant re-use of ideas from the Drew Barrymore section of King's Cat's Eye

    Madchen Amick is the virginal babe-in-distress that Krause takes a liking to.

    The token black guy is a sheriff's deputy. Ron Perlman ( Alien: Resurrection ) pops up as a Captain in the State police.

    King himself has a cameo as the graveyard-keeper. Other cameos are horror directors John Landis, Joe Dante and Tobe Hooper.

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  • Brenda Starr

    Unlike Dick Tracy, this acknowledges that it is a comic strip. The artist travels into the Brenda strip, and interacts with characters.

    Brooke Shields plays the title character - a girl reporter in the late 1940s, just as the Cold War is hotting up. Timothy Dalton ( James Bond ) is the mysterious one-eyed man, Brenda's love interest. Diana Scarwid rounds out the cast as Libby Lipps, the bitchy arch-rival.

    An Einstein-looking fellow called Kreutzer (an ex-Nazi scientist) has apprently discovered a fuel powerful enough to make space travel possible. Brenda must find Kreutzer, get the story and bring the formula to the USA before they are snatched by Libby and the KGB respectively.

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  • Return of Swamp Thing

    Dr Arcane (Louis Jordan - Octopussy ) is back, despite what happened to him in the first film. He is still living in Arcane Mansion in the middle of the Louisiana swamps, where he is attempting more genetic research. Sarah Douglas plays Arcane's research co-worker and fellow scientist.

    Monique Gabrielle plays one of the villain's swimsuit-clad lovelies - yes, like the villains in the Bond films he has a troup of them running wild in the mansion.

    Arcane's stepdaughter Abigail ( Heather Locklear ) arrives.

    A pair of pre-teen kids see the Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) fight an evil crocodile-man, and decide the must track him down and photograph him.

    Van Damme fans will note that the end music is Born on a Bayou, the end music for Hard Target.

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  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

    Mad Mike Myers is transferred to a new hi-security loonybin - and while en route he kills the doctors and crashes the ambulance. Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is the only one who realises the danger ...

    The villain's target is his 7-year-old niece Jamie, daughter of the Jamie Lee Curtis character. JLC is apparently dead - which begs the question, how did she come back for Halloween: H20?

    The supporting cast includes

  • Kathleen Kinmont (Renegade) as a sexy blonde
  • Beau Starr ( Due South) as the sheriff

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  • Rocky Horror Picture Show

    This is a musical based on the 1970s Stage Play written by Richard O'Brien ( Flash Gordon ), who also has a key role as the deformed butler. It is a parody of 1950s Science Fiction films. The theme song mentions Triffids, When Worlds Collide and Forbidden Planet . Charles Gray ( Diamonds Are Forever ) delivers the narration.

    Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon play a just-married couple whose car breaks down as they drive off on their honeymoon. They go to a nearby delapidated mansion, which they discover is owned by Dr Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry - Legend ) - a sweet Transvestite from Transylvania.

    Meatloaf ( Fight Club ) also pops up, as a biker.

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  • Shivers

    David Cronenberg made this in the mid-1970s, and the plot helps to explain his plotless film Rabid.

    The action is set on Starliner Island, a luxury apartment complex advertised as a self-contained paradise. However, there is a worm in the apple.

    A surgeon murders a prostitute and then kills himself. It turns out that he had bio-engineered a parasite that would increase the human sex drive and turn the world into a big, beautiful orgy. The parasites are spreading around the complex, slowly driving everyone insane.

    For some reason, the infected humans appear to be only sexually overactive around the uninfected.

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  • Attack of the 50-foot Woman

    This is not the original 1950s B-movie, but a 1990s feminist remake directed by Christopher Guest [Spinal Tap]. Of trivia note, a clip of the original is shown in a scene at the drive-in movie theater.

    Darryl Hannah stars as a bimbo in a long-dead marriage who can't just GET OVER IT! Her unfaithful husband is Daniel Baldwin ( John Carpenter's Vampires ). Hannah is zapped by a flying saucer, and finds herself growing uncontrollably every time she gets angry at the men who are controlling her life.

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  • Tomorrow Man, The

    Julian Sands plays a shape-changing robot from the future. No, this is not a straight-to-video Terminator 2 rip-off; he comes to save Humanity, not to destroy it.

    He lands in Oregon, where he meets a computer designer played by Giancarlo Esposito (Usual Suspects). Pursued by the US Government, the two fugitives must get to Phoenix, Arizona and prevent a rocket launch from failing.

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  • Them!

    No, not the 1950s Giant Creepy-Crawlie flick - this is a 1990s Aliens in human form effort. In other words, a B-movie every bit as predictable and cliched as any Roger Corman flick.

    Tony Todd ( Candyman, Final Destination ) pops up, malevolent as ever.

    Evil industrialists are polluting the environment and changing the area's weather patterns. Since the aliens can control electricity, and harness lightning, are they part of the conspiracy?

    To help the flimsy plot, a wee girl pops up regularly to give warnings.

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