SLASHER MONTH: Witchboard III: The Possession (1995)

Written by Jon Ezrine and the writer and director of the first two films, Kevin S. Tenney, this entry in the Witchboard films was directed by Peter Svatek (Bleeders). It’s all about Brian (David Nerman), a man who finds out his landlord (Cedric Smith, the voice of Professor X on the 90’s X-Men the Animated Series) is really a demon named Kral. How does a demon learn the ways of Canadian real estate, one wonders? The film never really gets into that, but these are the facts that I really want to learn.

Kral takes over Brian’s body — as demonic landlords are wont to do, basically subletting his soul, so yeah maybe demons are good at real estate — and decides that he’s going to knock up our protagonist’s wife Julie (Elizabeth Lambert).

There are some good KNB effects on display — a man gets attacked by his own butterfly collection — and it’s pretty much the Red Shoe Diaries if that Showtime show also had gore and demons, which sounds like a great idea for a movie if you ask me. This one is kind of like Wall Street with, you know, demons.

Speaking of sex, this movie remembers that it is angry that the second one didn’t get Ami Dolenz as nude as Tawny Kitaen and goes all in on the softcore aardvarking. It’s couples gore, I guess.

While this is the last Witchboard film, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors and The Blob director Chuck Russell is planning on a remake, as of 2017. I’m all for that.

SLASHER WEEK: Evil Ed (1995)

The editor of Loose Limbs has killed himself, so Edward Tor Swenson gets the job. However, the more that he works on the film, the closer he gets to insanity, as a mental patient tells him that he needs to “correct the world.” At once a slasher movie and a protest against Swedish censorship, Evil Ed made its way to video store shelves in the U.S. and made quite an impact. Pretty great for a movie that only played four theaters in its home country.

Screenwriter Christer Ohlsson was an editor whose job was cutting the violence from American slasher films for the European market. I would assume that he wasn’t working on them for Italy.

The title is obviously a play on Evil Dead, which is funny, because the villain of the third film, Bill Mosely, is the voice in the killer in the Loose Limbs films. They should have made those movies, because there was a scene where a woman is attacked by a beaver and then shot in the head with a bazooka.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi or get the blu ray from Arrow Video.

Mallrats (1995)

Let’s be straight: I could type out the entire script of this movie by memory. That’s how important this movie was to a 23 year old me. I even worked in an ad agency inside a mall and often felt like the characters in this, walking the shops and stores of Station Square with no shopping agenda.

I was probably one of the few people back then who loved it, because it bombed and writer and director Kevin Smith apologized for the movie at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Today, as Smith says on the intro to the twenty-fifth anniversary Arrow blu ray, this movie has aged into being seen as a success.

The adventures of T.S. Quint (Jeremy London) and Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) as they navigate the Eden Prairie Center Mall — actually in Minnesota*, but supposedly New Jersey — as their attempt to get over the loss of their respective girlfriends, Brandi Svenning (Claire Forlani) and Rene Mosier (Shannen Doherty). Along the way, they interact with Jay and Silent Bob, meet Stan Lee and even go to the dirt mall.

That’s an oversimplification of a movie that once — and yes, still — meant so much to me. What comic book geek doesn’t see themselves as Brodie, a man who can somehow win over Doherty despite only caring about Superman being able to shoot semen like a shotgun and playing as Hartford on his Genesis? Even all these years later, I see him as one of the coolest characters in the movies of my youth and have followed Jason Lee through so many characters as a result.

While Jay and Silent Bob Reboot felt like a massive misfire, I’m happy to see that this movie has lost none of its fun and good feelings. Sometimes, as Smith says, things just age well.

The Arrow re-release of this movie comes with so much, starting with a brand new restoration by Arrow Films of both the Theatrical and Extended cuts of the film, as well as a TV cut of the film featuring overdubbing to cover up the sheer amount of profanity.  There’s also audio commentary with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck and Jason Mewes, as well a new interview and introduction by Smith, a making-of film deleted scenes and more. You can get it from Arrow and totally should — they sent us a copy but I would have bought it myself.

*Fargo was being filmed in the same town at the same time.

SLASHER MONTH: Jack-O (1995)

After making Dark Universe and Biohazard: The Alien Force, Steve Latshaw (Return of the Killer Shrews) directed this film, which shows off what he learned from working with Fred Olen Ray.

The Kelly family live under a curse, as one of their ancestors killed the warlock named Walter Machen and now, the demon Jack-O has been freed from Hell to get the revenge that Walter has wanted for so many centuries.

Beyond the appearance of the monster, this movie has two cameos going for it. Yes, two cameos that have little or nothing to do with the rest of the film, as  John Carradine and Cameron Mitchell appear from beyond the grave as Machen and an expert on the occult.

Latshaw was also smart enough to get Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens into this one, if only for the moment that my wife walked in, saw a naked Linnea and shot me the kind of look that should have been accompanied with a lawyer.

These kids should know better than to release demons from their final resting places, but come on, without their monkeyshines, we wouldn’t have a film.

Howling: New Moon Rising (1995)

Directed, produced, starring and written by Clive Turner, this film attempts to unite Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, Howling V: The Rebirth and Howling VI: The Freaks.

Turner’s character arrives in a small western town and begins mingling with the people there at the very same time that a large animal is killing people. Meanwhile, a detective and a priest start connecting the past three films in this series, which allows plenty of stock footage to pad out the running time.

This is the worst of the Howling films, which really seems like a low bar to trip over. Everyone in the town where this was made used their real names in the film. That in itself is a crazy story, because Roger Nail (who made Hard Time and art directed Darkman) was the original director of this movie and he wanted to make a werewolf movie. Seeing as how this was called Howling 7, you have to applaud his creative vision. Instead, Turner wanted to make a character-driven take about the hillbilly community and less about furry monsters.

That’s why the credits say, “The events depicted in this town are fictitious. The characters depicted in Pioneer Town are real.”

I can’t tell you not to watch this. I will tell you that the scene with the song “Prescription Beer” is astounding and I also wonder why there ever needed to be a werewolf here, but again. I’m just writing about these movies, not making them.

Night of the Running Man (1995)

Las Vegas cab driver Jerry Logan (Andrew McCarthy) discovers a stolen million dollars. Before he gets to use it, he’s hunted down by a relentless and cold-blooded assassin (Scott Glen).

How brutal is Glen? He boils McCarthy’s feet so he can’t run away, but he still gets to a hospital in time and falls for his nurse (Janet Gunn, The Quest). As for the boiled feet, you should know better to get into a cab driven by John Glover. I kid — I love that guy and he brings something great to every role, whether it’s Daniel Clamp in Gremlins 2 or A.J. in Ed and His Dead Mother.

Wayne Newton is in this, which makes sense, as he didn’t have to leave Vegas.

Those who watch the credits — hello, I’ve sat in sparse theaters with you — will notice that Alfred Sole did the production design for this movie. Yes, that’s the very same Alfred Sole that made Alice, Sweet Alice.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Tommy Boy (1995)

We’ve talked about Peter Segal before — he directed Get Smart — and here he’s unleashing Chris Farley on the big screen as the son of “Big Tom” Callahan (Brian Dennehy), who soon drops dead after marrying Bo Derek. We should all be so lucky. Soon, he’s trying to save the company along with his father’s best employee, Richard Hayden (David Spade).

This movie is basically a road film packed with hijinks. Rob Lowe played the part of Tommy’s stepbrother uncredited as he was contractually obligated to make Stephen King’s The Stand. However, he took the part as a favor for Farley. Much like every movie this week, Dan Aykroyd shows up. Here, he’s car store dealer Ray Zalinsky.

Will you enjoy this film? It just depends on how you feel about Farley. Me, I loved him, so I’ve seen this so many times. It holds up and has plenty of emotion to go with all the laughs.

Mind Ripper (1995)

Although it is marketed in some regions as a sequel to The Hills Have Eyes and The Hills Have Eyes Part II under the titles The Hills Have Eyes III and The Hills Still Have Eyes, there are no actors, characters or even storylines from either of those movies. It does, however, have producer Wes Craven, whose son Jonathan wrote this movie.

It’s directed by Joe Gayton, who went on to write the movies Bulletproof and Faster.

Set in a remote desert location — hence the title The Outpost , as well as the tenuous connection to The Hills Have Eyes — where government scientists are trying to bring back suicides as superhumans, this movie is all about the dark side of experimenting on the dead. There is no good side of this, by the way.

Stockton (Lance Henriksen, who deserves better) is a scientist called in to help oversee the project. He’s joined by his son Scott (Giovanni Ribisi, who despite this being his first role, deserves better), daughter Wendy (Natasha Gregson Wagner, Urban Legend, who also deserves better) and her boyfriend Mark (Adam Solomon, who never made a movie after this, so maybe he didn’t deserve better). After all, an uncontrollable test subject named Thor is loose and must be contained.

This was one of the first movies shot in Bulgaria after the fall of Communism. I’m sorry, Bulgaria.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi. It’s also available with Rifftrax commentary on Tubi.

Tank Girl (1995)

Why did this movie run this week instead of our failure week? It made $6 million on a $25 million budget, was critically attacked to put it mildly and creators Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett disliked the final product.

That said — nearly every woman I know adores this movie and points to it as a classic. Just go to any convention and you’ll still see Tank Girl cosplay 25 years later. The comic never went away. And a reboot may be on the way.

Even for a movie that’s a total mess, with scenes missing and a studio that had no idea what they had, it’s more successful than anyone remembers.

Director Rachel Talalay’s stepdaughter gave her a Tank Girl comic to read while she was shooting her directorial debut, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Finding a studio ready to handle the sexual themes and violence of the film was difficult, but honestly, how anyone thought this would be a blockbuster still amazes me. Then again, people think of books as this vast universe of ideas and comic books as only being superheroes even now.

As if we don’t have enough troubles, in 2022, a comet is going to hit and cause a decade-long drought. The water that is left will belong to Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell) and the Water & Power Corporation.

Somewhere, somehow, Rebecca Buck will become the “Tank Girl.” Lori Petty owns this entire film, literally becoming the character for so many that didn’t even realize that she was a character from the Deadline comic magazine.

W&P troops attack the commune that Tank Girl lives in, kill her boyfriend and kidnap her young friend Sam. Instead of killing her, Tank Girl is enslaved and tortured. After meeting Jet Girl (Naomi Watts) and Sub Girl (Ann Cusack, who took over for Bjork), the antiheroine makes like a spaghetti western character who has been wronged and rights things by killing everyone in her way, then falling in love with a Ripper, which is a mutated human kangaroo. Ice-T is one of those kangaroos, too.

This is the kind of movie where punk rock girls destroy a strip club and force Ann Magnuson to sing Cole Porter songs at gunpoint.

More than an hour was chopped out of this film, with whole new scenes — like the ending — needing to be animated. But you know what? It still works. It’s goofy, it’s silly, it’s ridiculous and that’s what it aims to be. It’s the most fun end of the world movie I’ve seen not made in this country, at least.

GoldenEye (1995)

After Licence to Kill was released, pre-production work for the seventeenth James Bond film — the third to star Timothy Dalton — began. There was even a poster shown at Cannes. But soon, producer Albert R. Broccoli would stop working with long-time writer Richard Maibaum and director John Glen.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the owners of the series’ distributor United Artists, and Broccoli’s Danjaq, owners of the Bond film rights, then fell apart. MGM/UA was sold to Pathé Entertainment, who attempted to sell off the broadcast rights to the studio’s films to pay for the buy out. The problem was that they were selling them for firesale prices and were denying Danjaq any of the profits.

By the time the legal issues were settled, six years had passed. While Dalton was still Broccoli’s choice to play Bond, the star’s original three-movie, seven-year contract expired in 1993. That means that Pierce Brosnan could finally be Bond.

John Woo was originally selected to direct, but Martin Campbell — who directed two Zorro films, two Bond films and, perhaps not so successfully, the Green Lantern movie — finally took over.

This is the first Bond film to be made after the fall of Communism. One of the movie’s big changes was to cast Judi Dench as the new female M, who refers to Bond as a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” and a “relic of the Cold War.” The fall of Russian is also shown in the opening titles, which upset plenty of people in those countries to see the symbols of their past decimated by girls in bikinis.

GoldenEye begins with James Bond and Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) infiltrating a chemical weapons facility in Russia. Trevelyan is caught and presumably killed by Colonel Ourumov. While Bond manages to destroy the site before escaping, the truth is that Trevelyan and Ourumov come together to create the Janus crime syndicate.

Famke Janssen makes for a great henchwoman as Xenia Onatopp, a fighter pilot and killer who loves to crush men between her thighs. She’s awesome in this and even did all of her own driving stunts. There are also great turns by Joe Don Baker, Robbie Coltrane and Alan Cumming.

So what is GoldenEye, other than Ian Fleming’s estate? It’s a satellite that the Russians are using to destroy targets with a nuclear electromagnetic pulse.

Perhaps more people in the U.S. know this movie as the inspiration for the Nintendo 64 game, which was a huge multiplayer game.

This is a film of many firsts and lasts. The first Bond film to use CGI. The first to switch the roles of Moneypenny, M and Bond all in the same film. And the last that Albert Broccoli would live to see. Luckily, with Brosnan, the series was in stable hands.