Monday, December 30, 2013


Spiders Man!
STARS: TWO and 1/2
Director: Ellory Elkayem
Starring: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Doug E. Doug, Rick Overton, Scarlett Johansson, Scott Terra, Leon Rippy, Eileen Ryan
Length: 1 hour 40 minutes
Rated: PG-13

1950s monster movie fans rejoice, Eight Legged Freaks is about to crawl into your local theaters filled with more thrills, shocks and stereotypes than have been on display since the first Tremors. While Ellory Elkayam's spider invasion doesn't reach the cult classic status of Tremors, Eight Legged Freaks provides enough scary action to keep moviegoers jumping till school starts back up.

Prosperity, Arizona is a dying mining town. Prosperity is a desert version of the quirky town in TV's Northern Exposure. It even has a lone voice of (paranoid) reason broadcasting from a radio station based in a trailer. Harlan (Doug E. Doug) spreads government conspiracy theories and alien invasion rumors like a low-budget Art Bell.

McCormack Mines are about to shut down. Wade (Leon Rippy), the mayor of Proserity has hatched numerous plots to reenergize the town's sagging economy, but all have failed. To cut his loses, Wade has allowed a chemical company to store toxic waste in the mine shafts under his empty shopping mall. Things go awry when a truck driver delivering the canned poison swerves to avoid a rabbit, spilling a 55 gallon drum of chemical death into a stream.

Mike Parker (Scott Terra) is the 10 year old son of Prosperity's sexy sheriff, Sam (short for Samantha) Parker (Kari Wuhrer). Mike is one of those genius children which seem to populate films of the genre. Mike likes to sneek over to the exotic spider farm run by the creepy Tom Noonan (Manhunter). Mike discovers that the several hundred spiders at the farm have begun to grow at an accelerated rate due to the contaminated crickets that Noonan feeds his pets. Mike is not supposed to be visiting the spider farm. His mother busts him when Mike stops by deputy Pete's patrol car as the oafish cop is cleaning up the chemical spill. Of course, Mike connects the chemical spill with the rapid growth of the spiders. However, no one ever listens to kids!

You can't have a giant-monster movie without a hero. Enter Chris McCormack (David Arquette). Chris has returned to Prosperity after a self-imposed ten-year exile. He intends to find the fabled vein of gold which eluded his dead father. Sam walks into the mine office and surprises the chain-smoking Gladys (Eileen Ryan, the mother of Sean and Chris Penn). Gladys informs Chris that the mine is three months away from going belly up. Chris also has a long-time crush on Sam the sheriff. Sam is the kind of sheriff that makes you want to undergo a body cavity search, whether you need it or not! The single mom has her hands full with Mike and her teenage daughter Ashley (Scarlett Johansson: Ghost World). Sam gives Ashley a stungun as a form of contraception. With all of the characters in place, "Eight Legged Freaks" unleashes the monsters for an hour long thrill ride.

The CGI effects run the gamut from excellent to lousy. Fortunately, there are only a couple of bad effects. There is a scene in which a hoard of jumping spiders pick off a group of dirt-bikers in the desert. Most of the scene is outstanding from an FX point of view, but a couple of the attacks almost appears to be an homage to Bert I. Gordon, the king of cheesy, giant-bug movies in the 50s. In Gordon's The Beginning of the End giant grasshoppers attack Chicago. During the finale, grasshoppers were photographed walking on still photos of the Chicago skyline. A couple of the bugs can be seen walking in mid-air ALA Wiley Coyote! The first two spider attacks have that quality. Because of the quality of the rest of the film, I have to believe this was an in-joke for movie nerds like myself. There is another scene in which a couple watches in horror as their cat is dragged inside their livingroom wall and killed by a spider. The cartoonish special effects during this scene almost ruin the entire movie. What is meant by the filmmakers to be clever only destroys whatever suspension of disbelief the audience has built up. Fortunately, bigger and better things follow which erase the bad taste of this scene.

A common theme in the monster movies of the 50s was "aliens attack the American way of life." This theme is updated to reflect the Enron/World Com age of corporate corruption. Corporate greed leads to the destruction of mankind by the mutation of nature. The "toxic spill" ploy has been used in previous horror films such as the terrible Horror of Party Beach to the cult classic Humanoids From the Deep to John Frankenheimer's preachy Prophecy. Here, the source of the arachnid mutation is nothing more than a loving wink to the films of the 50s.

How are the performances? We're talking about a giant-bug movie! The cast is fun. Doug E. Doug and Rick Overton steal the show. Doug E. Doug provides the film's slapstick comic relief while Rick Overton is more subtle. Overton's deputy Pete is a timid, lumox who doesn't realize how dumb he is. I found myself laughing every time each man was on screen, and worrying when they appeared to be in danger of dying! David Arquette has a likeable screen presence, but he wasn't strong enough to keep Doug and Overton from stealing the show. Maybe he should have studied Kevin Bacon's performance in Temors before filming. Kari Wuhrer was sexy and competent. I enjoyed Eileen Ryan's performance as the crotchety old secretary. It's easy to see where her sons Sean and Chris Penn get their talent.

The spiders also have to be considered characters in this movie. They deliever the best performances of all thanks to their CGI creators. There are a wide variety of eight-legged nasties. There are a couple of giant tarantulas, some very scary trap-door spiders and some bad-ass jumping spiders. I haven't seen this much variety in the various monsters since Starship Troopers. Unlike Arachnophobia which had me shaking out my shoes every morning before I put them on, Eight Legged Freaks delivers a different type of fright. These spiders scare the crap out of you by their massive size and numbers. My wife and daughter refused to go see the movie because they hate small crawly things. I hate spiders also, but the movie didn't play on that fear except during the first scene when they were still small.

Eight Legged Freaks has the potential to be this summer's sleeper hit. I was surprised that the sneak preview I attended wasn't full. My friend, John Beifus, who is the film critic for "The Memphis Commercial Appeal" made the same observation. He said, "maybe there aren't enough two legged freaks" that would enjoy the film. I hope there are. One thing producers listen to is the sound of money at the box-office. Tremors came out in 1990. It would be nice not to wait 12 years before the release of another monster movie as good as this one.


Doody, Ca-Ca, Poo-Poo

Director: Seth Kearsley
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jackie Titone, Tyra Banks, Jon Lovitz, Kenin Nealon, Rob Schneider
Length: 1 hour 16 minutes
Rated: PG-13

The lowest common denominator for Adam Sandler's profane "8 Crazy Nights" is the number two (think potty). If you ever wondered what a 70-year-old, seizure-prone dwarf would look like after being pushed down a hill in a porta-potty, then "8 Crazy Nights" is your kind of movie. If you ever wondered what reindeer with 'shit-eating-grins' looked like, then "8 Crazy Nights" is your kind of movie. If you ever wondered what the backsides of those same reindeer looked like as they had machine-gun, rapid-fire bowel movements, then "8 Crazy Nights" is your kind of movie.

Unfortunately, word of mouth will get around in the junior high restrooms next week, and 13-year old boys all over the country will make this movie some money. My 13-year old son and his friends could have written “8 Crazy Nights” after they broke into my vodka. The movie is stupid, juvenile and utterly profane. It is the worst Adam Sandler film ever made.

Davey (Adam Sandler) is a hate filled alcoholic who hates everyone including himself. Life has dealt him some hard blows, so Davey has decided to make everyone in his town as miserable as he is. Whitey (Adam Sandler) is an elderly dwarf who runs the town's junior basketball league. After Davey is arrested for destroying the town's Christmas and Chanukah decorations, Whitey offers to help Davey reform rather than go to the penitentiary. To bad for the movie goers that one of the film's police officers didn't look around to see if anyone was watching and shoot Davey in the face. Of course, Davey craps (literally) all over the old man. Davey craps all over everyone in the film. Adam Sandler craps all over everyone who slaps down their hard-earned money to see this crap. Like Scrooge before him, Davey will see the light before the 8th day of Chanukah has passed.

So what! Do not go see this film. If you have an IQ over 72, or you are more than 6 months into your puberty, this movie will insult and bore you. Adam Sandler's new holiday songs are awful. The new version of his classic Chanukah song plays over the ends credits. It is the only worthwhile thing in the entire film. Buy the CD instead. If you are a decent parent, you will not let your 13 year-olds (the film's target audience) go see this. Rest assured that there are plenty of tobacco chewing, wrasslin watching, inbred, Jerry Springer rejects that will think this is the greatest thing since WWE Pay-Per-Views with The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. All others be sure to take along a couple of rolls of toilet paper and be prepared to be covered in shit.


Live Freaky! Die Freaky! (2006)
Disc Details


List Price: $29.98

Running Time: 80 minutes

Special Features:
Widescreen anamorphic format
Chapter selection
Audio Commentary with John Roecker, Billie Joe Armstrong and Jane Wiedlin
Bonus Soundtrack CD with performances by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and the Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin. Music by Tim Armstrong and Roddy Bottom
"Mechanical Man" video with vocals by Billie Joe Armstrong
Deleted Scene
Behind-the-Scenes: “Desert Footage”
Behind-the-Scenes “Soundtrack Rehearsals and Recordings”
Behind-the-Scenes: “Making Puppets Speak”
Mini Bios
Sneak peeks

Video Format:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)

Language Tracks:
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)


Closed Captions:

2-disc Keep Case

Director(s): John Roecker
Movie rating: 0/10
DVD rating: 4/10
DVD Release Date: 01/31/2006
Running Time: 80 minutes
Rating: NR
Film & Disc Review, Live Freaky! Die Freaky!
reviewed: 2006-01-19

After watching this DVD, I wrote the PR person. It's not that I don't want to tell my readers the truth, because I do. It's just that when I feel inspired to try and destroy a filmmaker and his cast and crew in a review, I want to warn the PR person first. They said go ahead. Bad press is better than no press at all.

I wasn't kidding when I said I wanted to destroy the people involved in this film. I'd like to destroy them in the same way that Charlie Manson and his followers destroyed their victims. That may sound harsh. The reason that I would like to totally destroy everyone involved in the creation of this film is because they are hateful people who's so-called art will hurt specific people. I'm not talking about "Their satire will upset Blacks" or "Their satire will upset Jews" or "Their satire will upset Christians" or some other definable group. My problem is that this film will hurt Sharon Tate's sisters Debra and Patti. This film will hurt Sharon Tate's mother Doris and father Paul. This film will hurt Sharon Tate's widower Roman Polanski. This film will hurt the loved ones of Jay Sebring. The loved ones of Abigail Folger. The loved ones of Steven Earl Parent. The loved ones of Leno and Rosemary LaBianco.

How will this film hurt them? It will hurt the above mentioned people because their murdered loved ones are portrayed as evil and despicable people. I hope the families sue the hell out of the filmmakers to prevent the release of this horrible, hateful and harmful film.

I'm no prude. I love the bizarre. I love films that push the envelope. However. I think that when you present something as art, when it will cause real, tangible pain to specific people, then you should be tied down and anally reamed with sandpaper drill bits until you repent of your horrible actions.

What is repulsive about this film? Okay. Here goes. Sharon Tate is portrayed as a cocaine addicted bi-sexual slut who is more concerned with having an orgasm than anything else in life. She wants to destroy the environment and the poor. Jay Sebring is a homosexual slut who spends his last seconds of life sucking his own cock. Steven Parent is a drug-dealing homosexual. Abigail Folger is more interested in performing oral sex on Sharon Tate than warding off her own death. The LaBianco's are portrayed as an unhappy couple who wishes they had never married and never had children. How will this portrayal affect their children? Their children found their slaughtered and mutilated bodies! Shame on you John Roecker! Shame on you Green Day! Shame on you Blink 182! Shame on everyone involved in this hateful project.

My father was a writer. He was a Pulitzer Prize nominated newspaperman. When I was in fourth grade, I was exposed to the works of Jonathan Swift. I know what satire is. Long before most of the cast and crew of this film were born, I was watching "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" and "Laugh In." People my age will realize that, that means I have a pretty good idea what satire is. I also know about the punk rock movement. I was a fan of The Ramones and The Dead Boys. My hometown of Memphis was the setting for one of the last concert performances of The Sex Pistols. As a Public Defender, I often defend people wrongly accused of crimes by an oppressive government. I say these things to let you know that I am not a radical conservative with a hidden agenda.

I want this film to fail! I want the people involved in this film to be so overcome by remorse for their actions that they crawl on their knees up to the families of Charlie Manson's victims and beg forgiveness for their cruel callous indifference.

Fuck every one of you involved in this film. I hate what you have done. Any satirical message you may have wanted to convey was lost in the hateful way you portrayed the murder victims of Charlie Manson and his deluded followers. Fuck you all!

The Disc
Fuck you all. Fuck anyone who buys this evil DVD. If you purchase this DVD, I hope you run into Sharon Tate's sisters or parents and have to explain your actions. I hope the families of the victims catch you purchasing this DVD and CD set. I hope you die of embarrassment as you try to explain why you support such so called art that further desecrated and mutilated the spirit and memory of those who have already paid the highest price for coming across Charlie and his fucked up followers.

Picture Quality: 4/10
The picture is poor. The images obscene. Hard core puppet sex. Hard core puppet murders. These are images that you will wish you had not taken in. These are images that you will have to defend watching on Judgment Day.

Sound Quality: 4/10
Fuck this shit! Screw the people who made this movie. They talk about Punk. I hope this review is Punk enough for them. Fuck them! I piss on their art! I shit on their desecration of decency!

Easter Eggs:
No Easter Eggs Found on Disc.

Extra Features: 0/10
Extra shit from extra shitty people. Hey John Roecker. Go explain yourself to Sharon Tate's family. "It's just satire! It's just humor!" You want to know how the Tate's feel. Maybe if some fucked up crazy bastard and his dope crazed followers murder your sister or mother, and then 40 years later some know-it-all-Punk-wannabe-filmmaker comes and portrays your mother or sister as a drugged out, slut whore who could care less about anyone and anything that won't give her an orgasm, then maybe you'll know how the Tates will feel when they see your film. Fuck you.

The Final Word:

Fuck John Roecker and the folks who made this film. Fuck you if you watch it. God have mercy on you if you actually like the movie.


The Emmanuelle Collection (1975, 75, 77)
Movie rating: 6/10
DVD rating: 7/10
Release Date: May 13, 2003
Running Time: 4 hours 44 minutes
Rating: NR
Distributor: Anchor Bay
List Price: $49.98
Disc Details
Special Features: Widescreen anamorphic format
CHapter selection
3 disk boxed set
Contains all three "Emmanuelle" films: "Emmanuelle," "Emmanuelle 2: The Joys of a Woman" and "Good-bye Emmanuelle" in their original uncut versions
Featurette: "The Joys of Emmanuelle"
Poster and still galleries
Sylvia Kristal bio
Video Format: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Languages: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

Subtitles: English.
Captions: Yes
Casing: 3-Disc Box Set
"Emmanuelle" was the first X-Rated erotic film to be given a wide release by a major American studio. The French film was based on the memoirs of Emmanuelle Arsen, a Eurasian wife of a French Diplomat. Ms. Arsen wrote about her sexual awakening during the 1950s. The real Emmanuelle Arsen had a brief acting career. She played Maily, the Chinese woman Richard Attenborough married in Robert Wise's "The Sand Pebbles."

Columbia advertised "Emmanuelle" with the catch phrase "X was never like this!" Boasting beautiful location photography in Thailand and Hong Kong, sexy bodies erotically filmed, "Emmanuelle" became a box-office hit that spawned two official sequels and about 50 or 60 unofficial sequels. The film was unique in that it was a hit with couples. It was erotica, not pornography. While almost entire gamut of human sexuality is explored in the trilogy, there are no "money shots." Puritanical America has never fully embraced erotica in an open manner. We'd rather watch people kill each other than see a good screwing. "Emmanuelle" helped remove some of the stigma of celebrating human sexuality in media.

Emmanuelle (Sylvia Kristel) is the wife of a French diplomat (an architect in the sequels) stationed in the orient. She is naive to the ways of the world before she is confronted with an openness about sexuality among the people of Thailand. Emmanuelle is encouraged to learn by her husband. The two have an open marriage. There is a price for such a lifestyle. The third film deals with the effects of their choices on their marriage.

The Disc
Two good films, one fair film. Great picture and extras. OK sound.

Picture Quality: 10/10
Flesh tones, ahh, the flesh tones. Great flesh tones. Lots of flesh tones! Anchor Bay restored the films. The transfer is excellent. No artifacts or pixilation. Sharp images, although the film does have that 'filmed through gauze, soft-focus photography' in places.

Sound Quality: 6/10
The sound was not remastered into 5.1. The track is the original mono track. Not that you really need to hear a lot of moaning in surround sound! The soundtrack is flat and tinny in many places. Unfortunately, the "Emmanuelle" films have a very lame score that kicks in whenever the clothes come off. I was amazed to see how different the subtitles were from the English version. Obviously the subtitles were designed to go with the original French soundtrack. I played the English version with the subtitles and discovered two entirely different conversations taking place. Check this out during the scene near the end of the first film when the classy blonde is getting banged on an end table. In the English dubbed version, the couple is angrily talking dirty to each other, while the English subtitles reveal a more endearing conversation.

Easter Eggs:
No Easter Eggs found during review.

Extra Features: 8/10
The 36-minute featurette, "The Joys of Emmanuelle" is divided into three sections. A part of it appears on each disk. The featurette includes interviews with Sylvia Kristel, the producers and directors of the films. They discuss the origins of the films, the real Emmanuelle and the social impact the movie had back in 1974.

The stills gallery includes posters, lobby cards, print ads and production stills. It is quite extensive. As is the case with most anchor bay bios, the Sylvia Kristel bio is extensive and informative.

The Final Word:
A great set for couples who don't mind sharing erotica together. Beautiful movies that are sure to raise the heat during those long summer nights.


Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)
Movie rating: 7/10
DVD rating: 9/10
Release Date: December 4, 2001
Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
Rating: PG
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
List Price: $19.98
Disc Details
Special Features: Widescreen anamorphic format.
Chapter selection.
Commentary by director Roy Ward Baker, star Martine Beswick, writer/ Co-producer Brian Clemens and Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn.
Cast and crew bios.
Theatrical trailer.
Poster and Stills Gallery.
Radio Spots.
Video Format: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Languages: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

Subtitles: None.
Captions: No
Casing: 1-Disc Keep Case

During the early 70s, Hammer films began to pump more gore and nudity into their films in hopes of boosting diminishing box-office receipts. Unfortunately, this ploy didn't work, and Hammer's reign as THE horror film studio came to and end by the mid-70s. Instead of relying on gimmicks, Hammer should have taken a hard look at the tired reworked scripts they were producing. One exception to the rule of unoriginal retreads from Hammer's late period was the exploitive sounding "Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde." What started as a joke in the studio cafeteria turned into one of Hammer's better films. "Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde" reexamined the roles of men and women in Victorian England with a modern bent. Of course, "it's a man's world" was the rule at Hammer, so some avenues of investigation were not fully developed. However, the movie is a taut thriller with some great acting, direction and great evocation of the period.

"Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde" takes the basic premise from Robert Louis Stevenson's book, throws in a little Jack-the Ripper and the real life body snatchers Burke and Hare to boot. Ralph Bates, (a real life descendant to Louis Pasteur) stars as the Dr. Jekyll half of the title characters. Jekyll is hoping to rid the world of disease and suffering with his "elixir of life." Jekyll has been experimenting with female hormones obtains from the ovaries of bodies from the morgue. Jekyll has also employed the body snatchers Burke and Hare to dig up fresh graves. After discovering that his elixir extends the two-hour life span of a common fly by three days, Jekyll decides to test the elixir on himself. Jekyll ignored the fact that the male fly he tested the drug one laid eggs later on! Jekyll takes a drink and presto change-o, Sister Hyde (Martine Beswick) is looking back from the mirror.

A battle for possession of the body by its two occupants ensues. Hyde is a highly sexed homicidal banshee. Jekyll is terrified of what Hyde does, but he is intoxicated by the power he has unleashed. Each character turns to murder to obtain more female hormones. I'll go no further into the plot for those who might see this great little horror gem.

Filmed on a very small budget and completely on sound stages, "Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde" has a rich look and evokes the period quite well. The sets, lighting and costumes are all excellent. The buildings look as if they were really lived in. The first transformation is a wonderment of filmmaking. Dr. Jekyll thrashes around the room in agony as the elixir takes effect. He falls into an easy chair in front of a full-length mirror. His face sinks into his hands. He looks up at the mirror and Sister Hyde is looking back. What makes this outstanding is that the entire scene is done in one take without a single cut. I was a bit disappointed that the director, Roy Ward Baker explained how he pulled this off on the commentary track. It is so cool when you realize that it was done in one continuous take. Jekyll has an admirer, Susan (Susan Broderick). Susan's brother, Howard (Lewis Fiander) becomes enamored with Sister Hyde. There is a funny scene where Jekyll runs into Howard on the street. The Hyde part of his personality becomes aroused and her touches Howard's face and speaks his name. Realizing what he has done, Jekyll turns and leaves. Another scene which tries to examine to psychological issues created by Jekyll's experiment takes place just after the first transformation. Sister Hyde opens her robe to look at her breasts for the first time. An evil grin comes across her face as she instantly realizes that her body will be her greatest weapon in carrying out her plans. Other than these two sequences, the film doesn't delve deeper into the possibilities raised by the plot.

Some critics have attacked the film as being sexist, and a confirmation of Victorian views that women should be kept in their place because they are basically evil when given freedom. My feeling is that those critics are looking to hard for some political ax to grind. A cursory examination of the films put out by Hammer in the 70s reveals that the studio began to rely more and more on exploitation to make money. In this case, the exploitation just happened to make for a great story and movie.

The Disc

One of Hammer's better films. Great picture. Good sound. Excellent extras.

Picture Quality: 8/10

For the most part, and excellent picture. A few times during the movie, artifacts are apparent. There is a slight warble, if that's the right word, in the picture during a couple of points. For the most part, the rich colors and great studio lighting used to evoke London in the 1880s is all there for you to enjoy.

Sound Quality: 7/10

I didn't miss any of the dialogue, but the sound was a bit tinny at times. As is the habit among horror film directors, the sound track blares forth with deep bass sounds during scenes designed to cause fright. I was a bit annoyed the way the sub-woofer on my sound system would seem to jump to life during these scenes and then cut off the rest of the time.

Menu: 8/10

Nice use of photos from the movie. Fun design. There is a mad doctor lab motiff to the menu. Lots of slime green. Easy to navigate.

Extra Features: 10/10

Great commentary track. I got a kick out of co-writer/producer Brian Clemens bragging about a song he wrote for the song. I watched the movie before watching with the commentary track. I got so annoyed by this female street urchin walking around singing a terrible song. I really wanted her character to get killed before she sang another note! The poster gallery montage is great. I also enjoyed the cheesy radio spots which cautioned parents to protect their children from the graphic sexual transformation in the movie!

The Final Word:

Regular readers know that I love the horror films produced by Hammer. I'm happy to have even the bad ones in my library. This is one of the better films. It is probably the best film from the late period of Hammer. I'm very grateful that Anchor Bay has put so many great Hammer films out on DVD. This one is more than worth the price of admission.