Saturday, September 11, 2004



A Video Review of "Swimfan"

Copyright 2004 Glenn Walker

I saw a lot of movies in theatres in the summer of 2002. By far, the most hyped movie of that summer was Swimfan. You couldn’t blink without tripping over this preview or being smacked in the face with the poster. I grew to hate the previews, previously one of my favorite parts of going to the movies. The hype definitely lasted much much longer than the film itself was even in the theatres.

Swimfan was directed by second-rate actor John Polson and written by a pair of first timers, Charles Bohl and Phillip Schneider. Despite the strikes against them, it’s not that bad. I do wonder whose idea the ever-present blue tint in this flick was - that person deserves serious anti-props.

The story itself is child’s play to anyone who’s seen a Lifetime thriller or an early 1970s ABC movie of the week. Poor schmuck doesn’t return psycho chick’s affections and she stalks him with gimmicks and shocks that would make Alfred Hitchcock and William Castle blush.

The ‘victimized’ guy is Jesse Bradford, from Hackers who was also one of the underrated highlights of Bring It On. I put victimized in quotes because technically he brought all this on himself by being sexually promiscuous with a sociopath. It’s sort of a twist on the old slasher film theory that if you do it you die.

Taking on the Glenn Close Fatal Attraction role is Julia Stiles-wannabe Erika Christensen who was also in The Banger Sisters and the Leave It to Beaver movie. They do their best. Whether that’s a compliment or not remains to be seen.

Blink and you’ll miss relatively decent actors Dan Hedeya and Nick Sandow as obligatory adults, the coach and cop respectively. Also look out for Jason Ritter, son of the late John Ritter and star of "Joan of Arcadia" who does a good turn here.

What’s really annoying about the whole scenario is the "Pretty White Kids with Problems" vibe flowing through the whole movie. It’s hard for me to relate to happy, well-adjusted teenagers who have their own cars in high school, getting scholarships and having serious relationships - all at seventeen - even if they are being stalked by sociopathic girlfriends. Maybe it’s just me.

In retrospect, after finally seeing this film almost two years later, the previews were much much better than the film itself. I would have rather seen the preview.

Thursday, July 22, 2004


Press Release: July 2004
Pretty/Scary: Women in Horror

Women in Horror: Why?

Pretty/Scary. The duality of the phrase is simple. Women can be pretty. They can also be scary. Women can be pretty scary. In a world where most geeks are men, it’s hard for women to find one another among all the testosterone-ridden conventions, film screenings, comic book stores, and underground video collections. It’s also difficult to find a way for women to accept their beauty, sex appeal, and femininity while acknowledging that they are smart, talented, and intelligent as well. When you think of a geek, does Angelina Jolie pop into your head? Well, not really. But if you think about some of the films she’s been in (Tomb Raider, anyone?) it’s clear to see that she’s got a geeky side to herself. For years women have been presented as only the objects of men’s affections, gracing the covers of Draculina Magazine and appearing nearly naked in slasher films, with never a thought from anyone that maybe women are doing it cause they like horror and science fiction. Maybe they don’t only exist to please men, but to please themselves. Maybe there are pretty geeks, after all!

When I started getting to know women in the horror business, I soon found out that many driving forces were women. There are actresses who seduce, but also produce. There are horror writers, actresses, and artists out there who are just as active, if not more so, than men, who don’t get a chance to exploit their femininity. It’s the twenty-first century, and it’s about time that women can be pretty and scary without having to compromise either their beauty or their intelligence in order to be part of the horror world.

Amy Lynn Best, Jennifer Whildin, and I (Heidi Martinuzzi) started Pretty/Scary so that women in horror have a place to promote their films and novels, to congregate, to read about other women, to network, and to read about horror from the point of view of other women. Not to sound like a feminist (and I’m not knocking feminism), but most horror magazines and websites are all about men. Women are treated only as eye candy only. At Pretty/Scary, we treat men like Eye candy. Every month we will list a new Hot Man in Horror, and we’ll turn him into a piece of meat for all to see. Our first HOT man is Eli Roth, director of Cabin Fever and his interview is about 5 lines long. He’s lucky we gave him that before we started drooling. We will also honor actresses, writers, and producers for their contributions to the horror industry. Our first honoree is Cassandra Peterson, AKA Elvira, who graces us with a three page interview and her view on women in horror.

Aside from interviews and news, Pretty/Scary hopes to be the definitive review site for horror films and novels by women. Giving an in-depth look at all novels and films written, produced, or directed by women, Pretty/Scary will also review books and films where women are the main characters (like I Spit on Your Grave, Catwoman, and The Grudge). There is a mailing list and a forum, plus an area where members can post their own horror fiction. We have original dark and horror themed artwork by women in our art galleries, and we will be covering and reviewing women in punk, gothic, and hardcore metal bands. We’re trying to cover all aspects of horror, so if we’ve left anything out, please let us know! We want to cover independent and mainstream horror alike; there’ s no room for distinction when our main focus is on women.

The website will be launched July 30th, 2004 and can be found at We welcome anyone in the horror business, female and male, to come visit and contribute in any way. Likewise, we are always looking for news stories and women to promote.

Pretty/Scary, in conjunction with Necroscopic Entertainment, is launching a 2005 Women in Independent Horror Calendar that will be available for purchase on the Pretty/Scary website and in comic book stores and book stores around the country this Fall. The calendar features horror actresses Sheri Moon Zombie, Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon, Ryli Morgan, Melantha Blackthorne, Suzi Lorraine, Amy Lynn Best, Syn DeVil, Lilith Stabs, April Burril, Rachael Robbins, and me, Heidi! (even though I am not a Scream Queen) One of the main issues I have found with Women in Horror is the strange distinction that some horror actresses have developed, that of Scream Queen. I thought it was an interesting topic to ask the girls about, since not only are they Scream Queens, but they are being put in a Calendar for that very reason. Here is what some of the most important women in horror films today have to say about the ideas of women, horror, and being pretty scary…

“Well, it has been my experience that most horror actors limit themselves to just that...acting. I have made it a point over my career to ask many questions and inform myself about all levels of film production. The knowledge I have picked up along the way has allowed me to participate to varying degrees in the writing, directing and producing of most of the projects in which I have been involved” -Melantha Blackthorne

“Part of me loves it, and wants to at least come close to that status. The other part of me doesn’t like that term very much, because I know a few of these ladies and there is SO much more to them than their ability to jiggle in the right places and scream at the horrible monster that’s coming their way. I don’t want to say it’s demeaning, but it isn’t as all-encompassing a description as it should be, in order to properly describe these women.” -Ryli Morgan, on the term “Scream Queen”

“Right now I think it helps to portray myself as having sex appeal. I mean, why not? I’m young and sexy, right?! But in my last film “Screaming Dead” I was actually cast as the plain, level headed girl. And that was a nice departure. I mean I can’t play the damsel in distress forever. It was fun playing the bimbo, cheerleader, and bombshell. But what comes after that for those characters? They are fun and cute when it’s a young girl playing them, but the aging version is just plain old pathetic! Think of Mrs. Roper on “Three’s Company”!!” -Rachael Robbins on being hot

“There’s this scene that I did in a movie called “Love” - basically I play this obsessive compulsive chick with numerous neuroses - my character has a fight with the other lead actor - I just seized the moment and went balls to the walls ballistic & crazy. I think everybody on set was genuinely scared, haha. Afterwards they told me the scene kicked some major ass!” -Suzi Lorraine on her favorite scene in a horror film

“I think it’s been turned into a generic word. Nowadays, ever woman in a low budget movie, horror or not, has been called a Scream Queen. The meaning has been completely diluted. My own term has become “Spicy Sister”.” -Amy Lynn best on the term Scream Queen

“One certainly doesn't become a Scream Queen without solid attributes; she could hit a high pitched scream as well as her low budget sisters could, but more importantly, well endowed or not, she was perfectly inclined to go topless. And the willingness to go topless has been the number one requirement of a working Scream Queen since the 'big' 80's.” -Debbie Rochon on Scream Queens

“I have set myself apart by perfecting a Jekyll & Hyde switch in films. I often start out normal -- an apparent victim -- and then something happens to transform me into a villain. Like, I get possessed by demons, or go insane and become a homicidal maniac, or I get bitten and turn into a blood-sucking vampire. (Examples of that are "HAUNTING FEAR", "SPIRITS", "GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE", and "TRANSYLVANIA TWIST".) I've also played a lot of strong female characters, despite my petite size (like "HYBRID", "CORPSES ARE FOREVER") -- and I've fondly been dubbed "The thinking man's Scream Queen" because of my college degrees.” -Brinke Stevens, on what makes her different from other women in horror

“ I think my name is pretty cool...hell that's why I use it.... to hear a horror actress playing a vampire or monster or something & her name is like June summers it just doesn't seem right” -Syn Devil on her name

”…The final, bloody killing scene in “Chainsaw Sally”. Something about having all that fake blood splashed on me while holding a running chainsaw as I stand over my victim really lights my fire! Call me crazy...” -April Burril on her favorite scene in Chainsaw Sally

Women have minds and intellect and talent. And beauty. And they can be terrifying. From film festivals to magazines to movies, women are taking a much bigger role in horror than ever before, and it’s time someone was there to get the story straight. That’s what Pretty/Scary is all about….

For Press Information, Submissions, and General Info:
Press contact:

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Sorry for the Inconvenience...

Welcome to Hell is currently under re-re-reconstruction. I'll be back online and current reeeeeal soon. Don't sweat it.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

"Hope for the World"


A Video Review of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Although I am a veteran of fantasy role-playing games I have to admit to having never getting through J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. In high school I read the first book (on which this film is based but is very fuzzy in my memory so you won’t find any book-to-film comparisons in this review) and struggled to start "The Two Towers" and failed during my college days. Tolkien is unfortunately very dense (at least to me). I file him along with H.P. Lovecraft. They are both amazing concept men but as writers they are dreary and nearly incomprehensible (to me at least - if only to avoid the slings and arrows of smarter people).

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is completely accessible which I think surprised everyone especially the casual moviegoer and those evil Hollywood critics who both shun fantasies at every turn. Perhaps there is hope for this sad sad world yet if concepts like good against evil, responsibility and friendship still resound in people’s hearts.

The story revolves around a powerful ring of great evil in a long ago fantasy land. A conglomeration of different races elects a band to take the ring to be destroyed in the place it was forged. Hilarity ensues, as they say.

It all begins with hobbit Bilbo Baggins skillfully played by Ian Holm (Alien, The Fifth Element) and his birthday party in Hobbiton. It’s a happy bright occasion that slowly devolves into darkness. The conversion is handled well and the viewer is easily led to understand the peril encompassing all of Middle-Earth. It is this subtlety that makes TLOTR so accessible to the mainstream. The show rather than tell is the key.

The cursed ring is put into the hands of Bilbo’s nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood of The Good Son and The Faculty) and along with friend Samwise (Sean Astin of Rudy) and wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) they set off the have the ring destroyed. This is probably one of McKellen’s best roles and performances and that’s saying a lot. He is one of the world’s finest actors. In Gandalf he reflects many facets and emotions from leadership and bravery to fear and mystery. He’s not your average everyday wizard.

The rest of the cast is remarkable as well. Christopher Lee is back doing what he did so well in years past - playing believably evil villains. His Saruman is both motivated and emotionally impenetrable. The battle between him and Gandalf is stunning and powerful. Speaking of evil, Cate Blanchett brief evil turn as Galadriel tempted by the ring is spellbinding.

Young cocky boys that they are, Viggo Mortensen as Strider and Orlando Bloom as Legolas insisted on performing their own stunts that resulted in broken ribs and teeth. They’re also pretty good as actors too. The all too brief moment shared by Strider and Arwen (played with remarkable and unexpected skill by Liv Tyler) shows a chemistry and electricity I would have liked to have seen more of, if not in the TLOTR trilogy than in any other film.

Of course the real star of the film is the special effects. From the minor forced perspective shots to make full-sized actors into three and four feet tall hobbits and dwarves (John Rhys-Davies is a particularly difficult trick into the dwarf Gimli) to the fiery Balrog to the stunning matte paintings and CGI armies the special effects in Fellowship are truly among the best ever done.

The New Zealand locales, especially Hobbiton which was built a full year before shooting began so that it would look old and lived in, are amazing. This is due in part to the unparalleled skill of cinematographer Andrew Lesnie but mostly to the breathtaking landscapes of the region itself. The original music score of Howard Shore only enhances the sheer majesty of the film itself.

Unlike myself writer director Peter Jackson has read the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. He knows what it’s about, and he has nothing but love and respect for the work and its creator. The project for Jackson began as a pitch to make "The Hobbit." After seeing his superior accomplishments with this film I can’t wait for the next two and hope he gets to do the original one. See The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It’s truly one of the best films ever made.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

"Dead End" (1937)


A Video Review of "Dead End"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This 1937 classic directed by William Wyler and starring Humphrey Bogart, Sylvia Sidney and the Dead End Kids is a timeless story of culture clash. The lush high-rises of the rich look down on the tenements of the poor over the scenic East River in new York causing an interesting mix of folks good and evil.

You get one of everything here. An college studied architect reduced to painting signs, a seamstress on strike and her brother in a street gang, a wanted gangster come home to see his ma and his girl, a rich kid terrorized by the street gang, a society girl in love with the secretive architect – all circling in an endless cycle, eventually sucked into the bottomless toilet of the East River.

It’s almost like film noir without the detective. It is film noir, everyone is a loser in a struggle. The losers with hopes and dreams and a chance for survival you grow to love and root for. Like I said it’s a different film noir, one with hope.

For a time this was a lost film and I’m glad it was finally found. The actors are in top form and Bogart cuts his teeth here with the gangster role that would catapult him to the heights. Don’t miss this classic.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

"Eight Bucks, French Girl!"


A Film Review of the Worst Film Ever Made, "Moulin Rouge!"

Copyright 2001 Glenn Walker

Anne-Sophie is one of my best friends. I love her to pieces. She’s a good friend, she was a bridesmaid at my wedding, she’s a great teacher and is probably one of the best Janets Rocky Horror has ever seen. But she’s got this French thing going on. Part of it is a curse of ancestry but she’s obsessed with anything French. Anything. And thus we come to Moulin Rouge!, the worst film I’ve ever seen.

By twisted coincidence the day this steaming piece of crap opened was Anne-Sophie’s birthday and she wanted all her friends to join her for a viewing of ‘this amazing film set in a French backdrop.’ Of course I hadn’t seen it yet so I had no idea what I was in for, and it was my good friend Anne-Sophie’s birthday – how could I refuse?

I’ve walked out of movies before but I don’t make it a habit. There are only two I can think of. I walked out of A View to a Kill on the promise of amorous attention and I walked out of Natural Born Killers because the violence was too much for my wife. It should be noted I saw both films later on by myself. I don’t walk out of movies. I usually don’t even go to the bathroom or concession stand once the previews start. This is a rule I should have broken the dreadful night of Moulin Rouge!.

That’s how much I like Anne-Sophie. I stayed in my seat because I didn’t want to upset her. It was her birthday after all. It was not because I thought the film might get better later on as some films actually do. I knew there was no chance of that.

The convoluted story concerns a writer, Ewan Macgregor, who falls for a showgirl, Nicole Kidman, and writes a show for her while she seduces a duke, Richard Roxburgh, who is financing said show. It’s all set amongst the backdrop of turn of the century Paris at the Moulin Rouge. Up front for those of us who wondered about these things, it is not a remake of the 1952 classic of the same name starring Jose Ferrer.

Baz Luhrman is a talented director. I didn’t care (and let’s note not caring for a film is a long way from pure hatred) for Strictly Ballroom but I really enjoyed his William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. R+J was a masterpiece of an age-old story blended into a contemporary setting and put to a modern score with fast cut MTV style camera techniques. I love it and actually own a copy.

He tried to force these techniques on Moulin Rouge! but it just doesn’t work. This film at its black cold heart is a stage production and MTV fast cuts don’t mesh well with that genre. Anyone who has seen any version of "Riverdance" can vouch for that. The camera never stops moving. Now this is an interesting approach when outdoors cruising the amazing miniatures set of Paris but not on inside shots. It is dizzying and annoying. Luhrman also uses the music approach here as he injects contemporary songs into the world of the Moulin Rouge. The cringe factor for me of the inclusion of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Heroes," "Lady Marmalade" and "Like a Virgin" into dialogue and turn of the century production numbers turns my stomach to a point one can’t imagine.

When some people see a bad movie they make this joke saying "That’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back." I have taken this to heart regarding Moulin Rouge!. This is two hours, seven minutes and twenty-three seconds I will never get back, ever. I will be lying on my deathbed thinking that I could actually live for two more hours, seven minutes and twenty-three seconds longer if it wasn’t for that goddamned movie!

Of all the evils in this world - Disney, boy bands, Adam Sandler, Palestinians, marriage, poetry readings, Satanism, Little Feat, fast food restaurant rest rooms, pretentious movie critics - there is none so evil as Moulin Rouge.

Cough it up, Anne-Sophie. Eight bucks, French girl!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

"Just Imagine..."


A Film Review of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Seeing as how The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is based on a comic book (or graphic novel for you snobs who don't read comic books) I'll reference an old comic book ad. "Just Imagine." It was usually used to promote any comic like World's Finest or Justice League of America where your favorite superheroes teamed up.

That's what The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is like. It's a literary hero team up. Just imagine… Alan Quatermain, the Invisible Man, the Bride of Dracula, Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Captain Nemo and Tom Sawyer… all in one film together. These literary legends come together to stop a world war in 1899.

It's a very dark movie which I don't usually mind. Some of my favorite flicks are dark like Tim Burton's Batman and the original The Crow. The problem with LXG is with the few daylight scenes we get are positively breathtaking. One has to wonder why we couldn't have more.

The violence is excessive but not excessively bloody or gory which is refreshing movies nowadays. The action scenes however are shaky, unclear and annoyingly frenetic. Stephen Norrington gets an "F" for bad direction.

The special effects are impressive - except for the CGI which is mostly the grotesquely muscled Mr. Hyde. I felt his appearance unnecessary and his unnerving transformation even more so. I could have done without.

The performances are all excellent, especially Sean Connery. When has he ever made a bad movie? Even in Zardoz and the Highlander films he's the best thing in them.

The real highlights are the interactions between the legends which are few and far between. I could have stood this flick being longer if we had gotten more of these moments.

This movie is terrific even though it has gotten some bad reviews from critics. I can only guess they didn't like it because they don't read and had no idea who any of these characters are.

High concept, cool idea, great movie. I loved it. See it.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Preview Review: "Against the Ropes"

"Against the Ropes" opens nationwide on 2-20-2004.


A Film Review of "Against the Ropes"

Copyright 2004 Glenn Walker

I saw this, um, film last night and today I saw the first preview on television. This is perhaps the greatest exercise of creating an ad that literally contains all the good parts of a movie. When you see the preview, trust me, that’s it. Those thirty seconds are all you get.

Against the Ropes is the true-life story of successful female boxing manager Jackie Kallen. Although it should be noted that in all the promotional material it is called a ‘fictionalized drama inspired by the life of Jackie Kallen.’ The story part of Against the Ropes is written by Cheryl Edwards who previously had a screenplay produced as Save the Last Dance, which is suspiciously similar to this flick’s plot, in a underdog-take-all way. This fourth-rate "Faust" is sadly predictable and the dialogue is at best terribly cliched. Based on the final product this time around, Miss Edwards had better hope she’s not a one trick pony.

This major motion picture that screens like a second rate made-for cable was actually filmed in 2002 but was reputedly delayed from release because of the war in Iraq. Perhaps it was believed that folks going to the movies to escape the violent reality of the constant CNN war coverage wouldn’t want to see a violent boxing movie. What’s curious is that Against the Ropes isn’t all that violent nor does it really have all that much boxing. The boxing itself is shot at a distance at times and when close up, takes a tip from The Crow and shows results rather than action. We know there’s been damage but never see the impact.

The movie is horribly miscast from any angle. Meg Ryan as Jackie Kallen and Omar Epps as her diamond-in-the-rough boxer Luther Shaw, while highly capable practitioners of their craft, are uninteresting and unlikable leads. Epps does a typical good-hearted thug schtick throughout that may have been warming from, say, Paul Newman, but is unflattering here. Shaw’s uncredited sparring partner from South Africa is far more interesting and he only has one line and even less screentime than a blink. And Meg Ryan? Well, I’ll get to her in a moment.

The supporting players are serviceable. Joe Cortese as Kallen’s boss and the always-incredible Tony Shalhoub as boxing kingpin Sam LaRocca are perfect PG-13 Disney-style villains. Tim Daly does his Tim Daly-est as Kallen’s local sportscaster friend. Michael Buffer appears for a few seconds to deliver his trademarked line "Let’s get ready to ruuuuumble!" and collect a paycheck. Oh, wait, do I owe him money now for writing that? Jackie Kallen herself even appears briefly as a reporter whose question causes a speed bump in the Kallen and Shaw relationship.

Charles S. Dutton co-stars as Felix Reynolds, a legendary trainer Kallen pulls out of retirement to help her mold her wannabe champion boxer. Unlike the folks with their names above the title, Dutton is interesting and one of the pleasures of the film. His interaction with Ryan and Epps adds to them more depth than they do on their own. Against the Ropes is also directed by Dutton. Although he does an adequate job, better for Lifetime than HBO or the big screen, but an adequate job.

Meg Ryan takes a lot of heat for being the nice girl, the sweet girl, the girl next door, Tom Hanks’ sweetheart, America’s sweetheart. It’s a good image but it’s typecasting just the same. One would have thought that the orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally might have changed that, but, nope, Meg’s just too gosh darn cute. When she smiles and scrunches up her nose you just can’t help but smile and go ‘awww.’

But the nose scrunching may in fact be part of the image problem. Comedienne Nicole Sullivan of Fox’s "MadTV" does a dead on imitation of Meg Ryan and makes the nose scrunching the prime joke. As the target of ridicule Meg probably sought to change her image. With Against the Ropes she decided to go the same route that American sweetheart Julia Roberts went with Erin Brockovich. She would toughen her look with trailer trash flair, add some rough edges and show a side of herself not seen before. Unfortunately it was wildly successful for Julia, but not for Meg.

Meg Ryan is just not believable as trashy. She may look the look but once she smiles the illusion is just that, an illusion. She’s a little girl playing dress up and you go ‘awww.’ Ryan also puts on a hideous Boston-ish, New York-ish hybrid accent, which is bizarre because apparently the story happens in the midwest. Maybe she was imitating kallen herself who perhaps affects an odd accent. One can never tell. The accent mercifully disappears ten minutes into the film, but when it returns toward the end - it is a completely different accent!

There are hints at romance with Daly and also jealousy with Epps but these are never played up. One could say this was a true story and perhaps no romance occurred but again, this is a ‘fictionalized drama’ so why not a romance? It might have perked up an otherwise flat story. I can’t help but think of Patch Adams starring Robin Williams and also a true story film where the title character’s girlfriend was killed by a serial killer, when in reality the real man was gay and never encountered any murderers of any kind in his life. Oh, that Hollywood magic!

That’s what Against the Ropes needs, some magic to save this film. A serial killer, an unpredictable plot, some fresh dialogue, heck, even some acting from the leads could have saved this dreck. Sadly, the only people ‘against the ropes’ here are in the audience.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

"Neon Batman on Broadway"


A Video Review of "Batman and Robin" (1997)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

I sincerely hope to someday read Joel Schumacher's obituary and somewhere in that obit I hope to read the words "beaten to death by Batman fans." Joel Schumacher is single-handedly responsible for the death of the Batman franchise for Warner Brothers and yet he still works there. Will wonders never cease?

Mister Freeze. He is a formidable criminal genius whose comics history stretches back to the 1950s, his origins only recently being uncovered as science gone mad in an attempt to cure his true love from a frozen tomb.

Poison Ivy. She is the nihilistic beauty whose kiss kills and controls deadly plants.

Bane. He is the designer drug induced superman who in the comics broke Batman's back and sent him into hiding.

Any one of the above would supply appropriate angst and plot to power any one Bat-movie. We get however all three in watered down form. We also get watered down subplots in Batman and Robin's constant bickering, the introduction of the new Batgirl (a character that bears no resemblance to any DC Comics character by that name) and Alfred's fatal illness. Why couldn't this film just be about one thing?

George Clooney is okay as the caped crusader. He's really just doing himself in a batsuit though. You can tell he and Chris O'Donnell were all about signing the checks this time around. The worst, the absolute worst, is Alicia Silverstone. As the both perky and pudgy Batgirl she delivers her lines with all the skills of Jan Brady trying to be Marcia Brady. Ick!

On the villain side Uma Thurman actually makes an interesting Poison Ivy even when bending the camp-o-meter with her puns and bad Robert Smith imitation. Arnold Schwarzeneggar as Mister Freeze, for lack of a better phrase, runs hot and cold for me. At times his menace is perfectly brought across and the rest of the time he is belittled by his cold-related taglines. Icy doom, indeed!

There are two small nods to the comic book source of Batman. The inclusion of Julie Madison played to cardboard cutout perfection by model Elle McPherson. In the Golden Age of comics Julie was Bruce Wayne’s fiancee. John Glover is the other wink as Poison Ivy’s mentor Dr. Jason Woodrue who in the comics was the Floronic Man, a self-mutated villain who clashed with the Atom, Green Lantern and the Swamp Thing.

Besides the non-acting, the aimless plots and the exceeding camp we have Joel Schumacher's trademark that he has left on the Batman franchise: homoeroticism. There's no such thing as a bat-codpiece and the batsuit does not have nipples!

My current favorite quote is by Joel Schumacher and is about critics: "You remember every hateful word they write until the day you die."

I certainly hope so. This one’s for you.

Damn you, Joel Schumacher!

Thursday, January 29, 2004

"Regarding Harrison"


A Video Review of "Regarding Henry"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Harrison Ford is one of the best living actors today. Everything he appears in bears a certain standard of quality and his skill as an actor is always top notch. Such is the case with Regarding Henry.

Unlike other actors in similar roles; Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tom Hulce in Dominick and Eugene, Sean Penn in I Am Sam, Adam Sandler in all his films; there’s an unwelcome urge to laugh at the mentally challenged. Here, with Harrison Ford, that doesn’t happen. Here you can only marvel at his performance.

Ford stars as Henry Turner, an evil lawyer (is there any other kind?), who is shot in the head and goes into a coma. Upon awakening and rehabilitation he becomes a new man, a kinder, gentler and much better husband and father. We watch him confront his past and his sins and make a new start.

Annette Bening as Henry’s wife and Mikki Allen as his daughter hand in equally excellent turns. Bill Nunn as Bradley the physical therapist gives the performance of his life and makes you wonder why we haven’t seen the like since.

This is an excellent film that should not be missed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

"Poster Girl for Psychopaths"


Reviews of "Return to Oz" and "The Craft"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Tired of renting Moulin Rouge for the umpteenth time when you can’t find anything good to watch at the video store and you’re bright enough to know better than to ask a clerk what’s good? Here’s a good themed double feature for a night of popcorn, cuddling and good movie entertainment; two wonderful performances of the princess of psychotherapy, Fairuza Balk.


First thing you've got to do is forget everything you know about the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. This isn't a musical and Fairuza Balk is no Judy Garland (hell, most of the time Judy Garland was no Judy Garland - without a handful of pills and a swig of vodka, that is). Now there are elements of that film in Return to Oz like a head trauma leading Dorothy to a dream of Oz but that's about it. It is more based on the works and images of L. Frank Baum than the 1939 musical. It begins with Dorothy going off to the nuthouse because of her obsession with Oz and during a rainstorm she escapes into Oz. Most of the Kansas scenes and the Nome King, the Wheelers and Mombi might be too frightening for the little ones (might send 'em off to the nuthouse with Fairuza) but still a must see.


She goes from running away from witches to becoming one. Not an unexpected step however considering Fairuza is a Wiccan and owns a witchcraft shop in LA. The Craft solidifies her career as an adult actress and unfortunately is probably her best work to date. She plays a disturbed young girl, who along with three equally outcast friends, uses witchcraft to get what they want out of high school. Eventually getting boyfriends and hurting taunting classmates escalates to murder and more. Fairuza is especially frightening here - she's the ultimate psycho girlfriend. Watch it with the lights on.

Check them out, it’s a good night’s entertainment… much better than that damned musical… again.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

"The Cat's Meow" 2001


A Video Review of "The Cat’s Meow" (2001)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This is the stuff of Hollywood legend. The Cat’s Meow is the story of a yachting trip in 1924 where movie producer Thomas Ince dies of mysterious circumstances. The legend holds that super-publisher William Randolph Hearst, whose yacht it was, shot Ince and then used his considerable wealth to cover it up.

The yachting trip was to celebrate Thomas Ince’s birthday and other notable guests included Hearst’s mistress actress Marion Davies, Charlie Chaplin and Louella Parsons. It’s quite a cast of characters and played by quite a cast of actors.

Edward Herrmann is Hearst. He’s a longtime character actor well known for playing mostly real people and also most disastrously Herman Munster. He plays the power mad millionaire with human emotional flaws despite the man’s almost demonic Citizen Kane reputation. It is a considerable performance. The only thing that ruins it is the occasional lapses into that fake Herman Munster laugh.

One person who impressed me was Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin. I had previously only known him for his stand-up comedy act that he usually performs in drag. In The Cat’s Meow he is skilled and very serious, quite a turnaround from how I normally perceive him. Anyone else out there with similar pre-perceptions might want to check him out in Shadow of the Vampire and The Secret Agent from 1996.

Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies shows yet another side of her formidable skills. What on the surface appears to be a silly girl Dunst always proves each part she plays to be much deeper and substantial. Ince is done by a restrained and subdued Cary Elwes in a masterful piece of work. It’s rare that an actor can show such skill with so little room. Also blink and you’ll miss Joanna Lumley from "Absolutely Fabulous." She’s mostly background but when she speaks she shines.

Jennifer Tilly’s Louella Parsons appears at first ridiculous and sad. She thinks highly of herself but offers little to show she’s anything but shallow and stupid. After the dirty deed occurs she shows an inhuman degree of wile in obtaining a lifetime position with Hearst’s newspapers through blackmail. Tilly plays evil quite well.

The Cat’s Meow represents director Peter Bogdanovich’s return to real movies rather than lesser projects for television and cable. He had a rash of quality hits in the 1970s with PaperMoon, one of my all-time favorites What’s Up, Doc? and the Oscar winning The Last Picture Show although most people nowadays probably know him as Dr. Melfi’s therapist on "The Sopranos." It’s good to have him back.

The script is by novice writer Steven Peros who is currently adapting "Around the World in 80 Days" for a new try at the big screen. He certainly shows a lot of promise here. The story as purported by The Cat’s Meow has Charlie Chaplin having an affair with Marion Davies and Thomas Ince shot by Hearst who mistakes Ince for Chaplin.

It’s certainly a possibility but the facts have never come out as to what really happened on that yacht. Most of the folks who were there are gone now and they never really talked about it except in insinuation. Perhaps Hearst’s power still rules from the grave. We’ll never know. The Cat’s Meow is only speculation but it’s good speculation. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"Mule Skinner Blues"


A Video Review of "Mule Skinner Blues"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Mule Skinner Blues is the story of Beanie Andrew and his quest to make a horror movie in his Florida hometown using the talent pool of his neighbors to put it all together. His efforts are documented by director Stephen Earnhart.

Inspired by a film crew that came to his town to shoot a music video Beanie found an old video camera and became a self-taught movie director. Together with peculiar hometown writer Larry Parrot he comes up with "Turnabout is Fairplay" in which Beanie gets to live out his fantasy of crawling through the mud in a gorilla costume. I'm not making any of this up.

The cast is rounded out by Miss Jeannie who is a aspiring yodelling country singer and two rival guitarists Steve Walker and Ricky Lix. Mule Skinner Blues takes us inside their lives and those of many more trailer park residents as the horror film comes together. Most of them seem like they have sprung live from the heads of either John Waters or Richard Linklater but believe it or not they are real.

The movie travels the road from amusement to sadness to triumph as we follow these folks over a few years and finally see the debut of "Turnabout is Fairplay." This must be seen to be believed and it's pretty entertaining too. Proof positive that anyone can make a movie.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Maltese Falcon


A Video Review of The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The third screen version from 1941 of Dashiell Hammett’s "The Maltese Falcon" is quite possibly the best film noir ever made. Not only is director John Huston’s screenplay nearly word for word identical to the novel the film has a nearly perfect ensemble cast.

The famous story involves private investigator Sam Spade on the track of both his partner’s killer and an elusive jeweled statuette called the Maltese Falcon. Where the 1941 version succeeds over its predecessors is in the casting. Hammett’s work is about off the wall, colorful characters that just weren’t properly brought to life previously.

Humphrey Bogart is Sam Spade. He plays it with a cynical disconnection almost giving the effect of not actually living his life but watching and enjoying the ride. The female lead is Mary Astor one of the few actresses to make the leap between silents and talkies successfully. Her Brigid O’Shaughnessy isn’t as tough as she should be but still exquisitely done.

The skill demonstrated here is immaculate. Gladys George as Spade’s partner’s sexy wife Iva, Barton MacLane as big time prick Dundy, Peter Lorre in one of his most famous roles as Joel Cairo - all wonderful and flawless in their parts. I didn’t care much for Lee Patrick as Effie but that’s just my personal preference. I found her foxy but unconvincing at times, not as charming as previous Effies.

The parade doesn’t stop there. Sydney Greenstreet is the sinister fat man Kaspar Gutman perhaps his most memorable role, Ward Bond famous for TV’s "Wagon Train" plays amiable cop Tom Polhaus and film noir veteran Elisha Cook Jr. known as Hollywood’s lightest heavy is the decidedly evil Wilmer Cook. Blink and you’ll miss the director’s dad Walter as Captain Jacoby. As I said this is a perfect ensemble cast.

It’s rare that such a combination of perfect script and cast happens but when they do it’s a joy. Add in the beautifully fitting score by legendary composer Adolph Deutsch and you’ve got possibly one of the best film noirs ever made and probably one of the best of that decade. 1941’s The Maltese Falcon is a masterpiece.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

"The 13th Child"


A Film Review of "13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Oh boy. Oh. Boy. Where do I start? Let’s go from the title. 13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One is just so short and concise it just rolls off the tongue perfectly. Sarcasm mode off. But only for the moment.

"13th Child" actually relates to the real legend of the Jersey Devil, of which there is precious little in this movie. According to the legend, Mrs. Leeds (or Shourds, depending on which version you believe) gave birth to a thirteenth child. So sick of childbirth was she that she cursed the baby to be a devil. Lo and behold it was and promptly flew up the chimney and out into the south Jersey wilderness known as the Pine Barrons. There it has roamed for well over two hundred years. No mention of that makes it into the film.

The thirteenth child here is a non-sensical reference to an ancient Native American (Leni Lenape, to be exact, at least they got the name of the tribe that roamed the area right) curse about a thirteenth child being a shape-shifter. Like I said, nonsense.

Why ruin a perfectly good centuries-old horror story with crap like that? The other thing about the title that bothers me is "Volume One." It mocks us with its arrogant intent for sequels. The last movie that tried that was Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and I think we all know how many sequels that one had.

Other than professionals (and I use the word loosely) like Robert Guillone and Cliff Robertson (who unbelievably had a hand in writing and producing this mess) the acting is horrible. It’s the worst. I can act better than these idiots and anyone who’s seen me act (check out "Standard Issue" or "Elbow Talk" at knows what a terrible insult that is.

Not only does the acting suck the directing is slipshod and the story is a sloppily written flasbacked mess. At some points it hurt to watch. I really want to slap Cliff Robertson.

There are good parts. At times it seems like an early Roger Corman work with Ed Wood sensibilities. With some Band-Aids here and there it could (maaaaybe) have been good. It does have an old school 1970s horror flick vibe going for it.

The music is superior, better than most of the crap we get in horror movies lately. It’s very suspenseful and builds wonderfully. It even punches up scary scenes that might normally have been dull without it thanks to what passes for actors in this mess.

The best part for me, and it’s only a novelty for myself and other folks who actually live in south Jersey, is that it’s filmed here. A majority is filmed at Batsto, an old historical village that is now a park. The town made cannonballs for the American Revolution, it doubles for a creepy old man’s property. Very cool, for some of us at least.

The special effects aren’t bad, the Jersey Devil seems to owe quite a bit to Alien and is genuinely scary until we get a close-up in the light – bad move. Lit up, it just looks cheap.

More bad than good. Let’s hope we never see "Volume Two."

Thursday, January 08, 2004

The Adventures of Jane Arden


A Video Review of The Adventures of Jane Arden

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This gem from 1939 is typical B-movie filler for the period. At barely less than an hour long The Adventures of Jane Arden is based on the girl reporter comic strip by Monte Barrett and Russell E. Ross.

"Jane Arden" the comic strip began in 1927 and had moderate success in the United States but was huge in Canada and Australia. It is predominantly remembered for the cut out paper doll outfits included every Sunday for use on your own cardboard Jane Arden doll. And I thought superhero comics were sometimes bizarre.

This movie that seems like a brutally short serial was directed by film veteran Terry Morse who would go on to do other offbeat classics like The List of Adrian Messenger, Robinson Crusoe on Mars and the 1956 American version of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.

Girl reporter Jane Arden is played by Rosella Towne who suffered from a very short career of little note which is unfortunate because she showed promise. William Gargan is quite good here as Ed Towers. He gained fame later on as TV’s "Martin Kane, Private Eye." Dennie (not Demi) Moore is a delight as the lovelorn editor Teenie. Moore is probably best known for her small bit in The Women as the tattling manicurist.

She might seem like a third rate Nancy Drew at first but Jane Arden has her own style and spunk. You might say she’s the original spunky girl reporter. The story of The Adventures of Jane Arden has our girl going undercover to snag jewel smugglers is pretty simple for this mini chapterplay but it’s enough and plays out well for under an hour.

Jane Arden was the precursor to Lois Lane and Brenda Starr who has become lost in our time. She was the spunky girl reporter prototype, a role model for girls everywhere who liked paper dolls. Check out The Adventures of Jane Arden. It’s a nice entertaining time capsule.