JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Dracula’s Fiancee (2002)

Jacques Regis stars as a vampire hunter who is dragged along his apprentice (Denis Tallaron) on the hunt for the many descendants of Dracula (Thomas Desfossé), which leads him to The Order of the White Virgins and monsters that include a dwarf (Thomas Smith), smoking nuns who also — of course — kiss, a vampire woman (Sandrine Thoquet), an ogress (Magalie Aguado), a wolf-woman (Brigitte Lahaie) and Isabelle, a young woman destined to be the latest bride of Dracula (Cyrille Iste).

Dracula lives inside a clock, which alows us to know that this is the work of Jean Rollin, as that image was such a part of The Shiver of the Vampires. The other major clue is that this ends on a beach, where a sacrifice and a wedding and doom are due along the shore. And hey — one of the nuns is half of the Castel twins, Cathy, making an appearance after Rollin was critically re-evaluated and had a comeback big enough to get to make this.

There’s also a heart ripped clean out of a chest and a baby being eaten, making this one of the bloodier Rollin films. It’s also odd that Dracula himself appears instead of just being hinted at, but in a world that by 2002 had seen everything there was to see about fanged blood drinkers, leave it to Rollin to show us more by going back to what has always worked. Druggy, slow, doomy wanderings through musty castles and overcast coastlines.

I love that so many reviews start with “This shouldn’t be your first Jean Rollin movie.” There are more of those than where to start!

You can watch this on Kino Cult.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (2002)

As much as I dislike every Home Alone movie, this one…this is the darkest timelime. Kevin McCallister (now played by Mike Weinberg) is now a child of divorce and his mom Kate (Clare Carey taking over for Catherine O’Hara) crying while she watches It’s A Wonderful Life and his father Peter (Jason Beghe from Monkey Shines taking the role from John Heard) getting married to the rich and gorgeous Natalie Kalban (Joana Going). Gideon Jacobs and Chelsea Russo are Buzz and Megan, who don’t really figure into this.

I mean, I can see why they got divorced, after leaving Kevin at home twice they had to have Child Services called on them and had to deal with all sorts of issues. Now dad has two servants — Mr. Prescott (Erick Avari) and Molly (Barbara Babcock) — and a hot lady and why would he ever go back?

Filmed in Cape Town, South Africa — not the most wintery of locations — this movie couldn’t even get Daniel Stern to play Marv. He called the movie “an insult” and “total garbage.” They had to get French Stewart for the role, yet he dresses like Harry, which is somewhat confusing but maybe the filmmakers never watched the first movie. Anyways, Marv has a girl named Vera, played by Missi Pyle. And you knew it, Kevin has to fight them off again inside the mansion.

Directed by Rod Daniel (Teen Wolf) and written by Debra Frank and Steve L. Hayes, this was supposed to become a series. That’s why the original ending that had Kevin’s dad staying with Natalie and his mother dating a police officer who turned out to be Marv’s younger brother was changed. The parents had to stay together if they were making a show, I guess.

American Pie 2 (2001)

The summer after their first year of college, Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Chris “Oz” Ostreicher (Chris Klein) and Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) decide to rent a beach house and get stuck with Steve Stiffler (Seann William Scott). Everyone’s lives are slightly moved ahead, as Jim is about to meet with Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) at the end of the summer and gets sexual experience from Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Kevin reconnects with Vicky (Tara Reid), Oz is in a long distance relationship with Heather (Mena Suvari) and Paul is longing for another evening with Stiffler’s mother (Jennifer Coolidge).

Directed by James B. Rogers and written by Adam Herz, who also wrote the original, this at least carries everyone through to a logical next step in their lives while having a great lesson that you should  get past high school. You should also not use super glue to jerk off and always go after geeky girls, which really is the best thing you can get from this movie.

In the scene where Stifler, Jim and Finch get caught by the next door lesbian neighbors and are coerced into removing their clothes, you can barely see Eddie Kaye Thomas in the shots. That’s because he was genuinely laughing so hard that they had to edit around him as he broke character.

Two scenes were cut: Oz and Heather cheating on each other and the character of Stifler’s dad played by the late Chris Penn. It just didn’t work for the movie and they were removed after test screenings.

There was a lot of secrecy over what would happen in this movie and it was shot with the fake names Secret Disguise, Semi-Secret Disguise, Semi, Semi-Secret Disguise, The Not-So-Secret Disguise and American Pie 2: The Heretic.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 25: The Rules of Attraction (2002)

25. CRAIG’S TWIST: When that iffy roommate situation goes sour in a dangerous way.

Written and directed by Roger Avary and based on Bret Easton Ellis’ book, this movie makes me not regret at all that I went to art school instead of college and that I was not forced to suffer through roommates. Although man, my first roommates worked at Arthur Treacher’s, always smelled like fish, didn’t have beds and one of them used to cry about his girlfriend while listening to “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys, infusing in me a lifelong hatred of Mike Love. Well done, asshole.

Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon), Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder) and Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) are students at Camden College, a place where an end of the world party leads to sex for all of them and not always the way they want it. Lauren gets taken by a townie while a film student records it. Paul gets beaten by a jock who is closeted. Sean ends up sleeping with a girl he really doesn’t want. But oh, before all that, Paul wanted Sean and wrote him letters, which he thought were from Lauren, who also likes him. Except that a geeky lunchlady girl — that’s Theresa Wayman, who was in the band Warpaint with Sossamon — sent Sean those letters and she kills herself and things spiral out of lovelorn control from there and then we get a scene where Lauren gives Eric Stoltz a blowjob while he listens to classic music because he’s married and doesn’t sleep with students. Sure, whatever, she says, taking out her gum.

This movie reminds me of a time in my life where all this music existed yet I was too busy working sixty to ninety hours a week and stuck in a marriage that was crushing me. Such is life, right?

Anyways, it has everyone from Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth and Faye Dunaway to Fred Savage, Swoosie Kurtz and Paul Williams in it and for that — mostly for Paul Williams — I agreed with this film. What didn’t make it in was Casper Van Dien as Sean’s brother Patrick. That guy. The one with the nice business cards.

The soundtrack is pretty good as well — “Six Different Ways” by The Cure, The Rapture, “Colours” by Donovan, “L’ami Cauette (My Pal Peanut)” by Serge Gainsbourg, Love and Rockets, The Go-Go’s, “Rise” By PIL, Harry Nilsson, and Erasure — but it does not have Glenn Danzig redoing “To Sir With Love” for Less Than Zero, so that Bret Easton Ellis movie has my heart.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 22: The Untold (2002)

22. FURGET ABOUT PATTERSON & GIMLIN: Watch a non-American sasquatch movie.

Also known as Sasquatch, this Canadian Sasquatch movie was directed and written by Jonas Quastel. It has Lance Henriksen as Harlan Knowles, the President and CEO of Bio-Comp Technologies. Along with Marla Lawson (Andrea Roth), an insurance person because that’s exciting and kids love underwriters, he’s searching for lost research equipment — and his daughter — in the wilds of Canada.

They also have a computer engineer named Plazz, insurance representative Marla Lawson, survivalist Winston Burg, forensic investigator Nikki Adams, and local mountain man Clayton Tyne to be in danger when Bigfoot rears his ugly head.

I really hope Lance Henriksen got paid really well for all the horrible movies that he did that aired on SyFy. I mean, the guy seems like a good dude and all, but I can only imagine he was forced — I mean, maybe he did them of his own free will, but it feels like forced — into movies like this.

There’s also a big business insider trading storyline and the last thing I want to think about when it comes time to watch skunk apes, yetis, Bigfoots and sasquatches. Nope. I just want to think about monsters running through the woods, not capitalism.

SLASHER MONTH: Spliced (2002)

Also known as The Wisher, this Canadian early 2000s horror movie is way better than it has any right to be. Directed by Gavin Wilding and written by Ellen Cook, it has Liane Balaban as Mary, a teenage girl who is obsessed with horror. Her parents refuse to allow her to watch any more of these movies after they cause her to sleepwalk. She sneaks out with her friends to see a movie that literally makes audiences puke called The Wisher and before leaving, wishes that her father would go away. He dies on the way to stop her from going to the movie and now, she sees the Wisher character from the film as others are killed by her wishes, all while Joel Silver tries to be her therapist and Drew Lachey — Nick’s brother — tries to win her over.

The Wisher is such a big deal that it’s the only movie playing at the theater, except for Halloween Resurrection. Then, this gets down to subliminal messages within movies, early 2000s film piracy and the goofy Wisher showing up in the woods. It even has a post-story stinger where the lead’s little sister decides to watch The Wisher on cable — I would watch it, I mean, it has a tree kill a man — and then The Wisher — who this movie just Scooby-Doo explained away — is sitting on the couch next to her.

Huh?

You can watch this on Tubi.

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Through the Decades: 2000s Collection: The Emperor’s Club (2002)

Based on Ethan Canin’s short story “The Palace Thief”, The Emperor’s Club is about a prep school teacher named William Hundert (Kevin Kline) and his students at St. Benedict’s Academy near America’s capitol.

Hundert is dealing with a problem student named Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch in younger days, Joel Gretsch), a senator’s son who could care less about his education. The teacher take an interest in the young man and even raises his grades — a conflict of ethics — to keep him encouraged and so that he can participate in the school’s annual Mr. Julius Caesar contest, in which the top three students compete in a quiz. During that contest, it is apparent that Sedgewick has help from the headmaster and already has the questions. Even though he loses to Deepak Mehta (Rishi Mehta as a teen, Rahul Khanna as an adult), their friendship never comes back. The senator’s son goes back to his old ways and barely graduates.

Twenty-five years later, Sedgewick is running to be a senator and says that he will make a big donation to the school if the entire class — including the person who should have been in the contest, Martin Blythe (Paul Dano in the past, Steven Culp in the present) — comes to his resort hotel for another Mr. Julius Ceasar challenge. Nothing has changed, as Sedgewick has an earpiece to get all the answers.

The teacher must now reveal to his old student what he did and deal with whether or not his career as an educator had any impact. As the son of teachers, this scene really resonated with me.

I’d never choose to watch this movie, so that’s why I love these Mill Creek decades sets. I came away really enjoying this film.

The Mill Creek Through the Decades: 2000s Collection has some great movies for a great price like Nurse BettyOne Night at McCool’sSpy GameThe Shape of Things, 21 Grams, Baby Mama, State of PlayThe Hitcher and Cry Wolf. You can order it from Deep Discount.

Arnold Week: Collateral Damage (2002)

This film about terrorism was originally scheduled to be released on October 5, 2001, but it was obviously postponed after 9/11 and released on February 8, 2002. The original cut had Sofía Vergara hijack an airplane; this was also cut from the film.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Captain Gordon Brewer, a firefighter hunting down the Colombian terrorists who killed his wife Anne and son Matt when a bomb blows up in the plaza of the Colombian Consulate building in Los Angeles.

Claudio “El Lobo” Perrini (Cliff Curtis) is the man behind the bomb attack and even his wife Selena (Francesca Neri, yes, the daughter of Rosalba) is starting to see that perhaps her husband is just as into killing Americans as he is making a political message. Or so it seems…

Brewer is now in Colombia making his own improvised bomb strikes, much to the displeasure of Peter Brandt (Elias Koteas), the head of the CIA in the country. Can Brewer get the revenge he needs so badly? Or is he part of the problem? When is too much enough?

Directed by Andrew Davis (Under SiegeThe Fugitive) and written by Ronald Roose (who edited Easy MoneyMy Demon Lover and House Arrest) and David and Petter Griffiths, this casts Arnold as an everyman when we want Arnold to be Arnold. It takes almost the entire movie to get there, but when he electrocutes terrorists, bites off ears and dispatches a villain with an axe, you’ll be pleased while wondering why we didn’t get this from the beginning.

Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (2002)

Flat Dog survived, her egg hatched, some criminals have crash landed in her swamp and Tobe Hooper is long gone. I guess, umm…Martin Kove is in it? Is that reason enough to watch it?

Gary Jones, who made Escape from Death Block 13 and Boogeyman 3, directed this film and it’s fine in a SyFy kind of movie way. Jace Anderson, who wrote it, was also on scripted duties for Mortuary (the 2005 Tobe Hooper one), the remake of Night of the Demons, the remake of Toolbox Murders (also Tobe Hooper) and Mother of Tears, sometimes teaming with co-writer Adam Gierasch. You know who else scripted this? Boaz Davison. Yes, the man who made Lemon Popsicle and The Last American Virgin.

How they never made a third one is a miracle to me.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Junesploitation 2022: Fungicide (2002)

June 9: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is monsters! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

David Wascavage is probably best known for Suburban Sasquatch, but before that movie, he made this berserk film that is all about a scientist named Silas Purcell (David Weldon) whose parents (played by Loretta and Edward Wascavage, the director’s mom and dad) send him to a bed and breakfast to try and calm down. He brings his work — trust me, I get it — and ends up transforming the woods around the home of Jade Moon (Mary Wascavage, who also wrote the movie with David) into a killing field populated by mushrooms who live on human meat.

Also staying at the B&B are overly stressed and roided out pro wrestler Tony Ignitus (the much beloved Dave Bonavita) and a smarmy real estate agent named Jackson P. Jackson (Dave Wascavage, getting into his own movie), as well as a survivalist named Major Wang (Wes Miller).

By the end of the movie, hundreds of mushrooms of all shapes and sizes have taken over and the only weapon that destroys them is balsamic vinegar, a fact that made me laugh so loudly and for so long that I lost consciousness.

There’s also a moment where a humanoid mushroom vomits a human skeleton, which is everything that I want movies to be. I also absolutely love that every time someone encounters one of these mushrooms for the first time, they think they’re cute and try to pet them, which always goes bad.

More movies should be less concerned about video fidelity and more about having fun. This film proves it.

You can watch this on Tubi.