APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Tamara (2005)

April 1: New boss, same as the old boss — Start the month off with something that’s April Fool’s in nature.

Tamara Riley (former dancer Jenna Dewan) is, well, Carrie and is in love with the only person who treats her with any kindness, her teacher Mr. Natolly (Matthew Marsden). She’s also a talented writer, but when an article about steroid abuse amongst her school’s athletes gets published, two of them — Shawn (Bryan Clark) and Patrick (Gil Hacohen) — want revenge.

Did I mention that Tamara is Carrie? Well, she’s also a witch and tries a love spell that binds her to her beloved teacher. How amazing is it that he calls her right away and asks her to join him in a motel? That’s really the jocks, along with Kisha (Melissa Elias) — who is in on the plan — and Chloe (Katie Stuart), Jesse (Chad Faust) and Roger (Marc Devigne) — who aren’t. And said plan goes horribly wrong, as when they surprise her and start filming her nude, she flips out and is killing seconds later. Just like I Know What You Did Last Summer, everyone is guilty even if they were just there as they all agree to cover it up.

Except that Tamara shows up for school the next day, looking like a whole new woman. Beyond looking like the most gorgeous girl in school, she’s also able to suggest that people do things, like making Roger broadcast his self-mutilation and suicide. She then visits Mr. Natolly’s wife (Claudette Mink) and calls her infertile, a secret the couple had, before forcing her father — who wants to sleep with her because, well, horror movies — to eat a beer bottle.

She can now even control her tormentors, sending them to kill Allison. I mean, nearly everyone dies in this movie — yes, spoilers for a movie made 17 years ago — even the best of people, all because of pranks. Will we ever learn?

Directed by Jeremy Haft and written by Jeffrey Reddick (whose writing of the first Final Destination gets mentioned on the poster), Tamara is pretty much a mid 2000s horror film trying to redo the past and not getting all that far with it.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Jess Franco’s Passion (2005)

In his 2000s movies, Jess Franco often features the same actresses — Fata Morgana, Carmen Montes, Rachel Sheppard and always Lina Romay — and the story doesn’t matter. An all-female remake of Franco’s 1986 film El mirón y la exhibicionista, this has a voyeur watching a new young couple and dealing with her ex, played by Romay.

Made by Jess’ Manacoa company, this is near formless as all it contains is posed male gaze approximations of what Sapphic love entails. We’re paying — whether through lack of art or by the old fashioned way of cash — for an elderly Jess to engage in whatever women he and Lina want to see frolic. I guess at least I should be happy that he figured out a way to get paid for it rather than paying for it.

At least the soundtrack that he created with Daniel White is catchy. This goes along with Jess Franco’s Perversion, a second movie that has more of the same but at least a conclusion. I wonder if Jess was approximating the VCA model which gave us one movie as two films, like Party Doll-A-Go-Go, a formless American movie that I’m sure that he would have just adored.

If you have 191 minutes to watch slow video effects and women writhe, it’s your call. I did it, but I am following that mantra that you have not seen a Jess Franco film unless you see all of his movies.

Great box art, though.


Syd (Chris Evans) learns that his ex-girlfriend London (Jessica Biel) is having a going-away party by her friend Rebecca (Isla Fisher) as she’s going to California with her new boyfriend. London destroyed Syd when she broke things off and he refuses to let her escape without telling her how he feels, so he brings along his coke buddy Bateman (Jason Statham) and pretty much gets destroyed and does lines in a bathroom while confessing everything that got him to this point in his life.

Directed and written by Hunter Richards, this is very 2005 in that Dane Cook has a role. Its leads were also dating, which makes sense as to why they’d both do this and hey, at least The Crystal Method soundtrack is pretty good.

Really, if you want to watch 90 minutes of Evans and Statham in a wig doing blow while women come in, urinate and also do blow while those two go off on life, love and urinating on folks, this is on blu ray and looks nice, I guess. This feels like a one room play and at least the leads get to put it all in and go for it. Maybe it’s your favorite movie and you saw it back in the mid 2000s and remember a time when you could randomly go to parties and not deal with a plague and the worst thing was some post-nasal drip and the need to apologize to some people you offended.

You can buy the Mill Creek blu ray of London from Deep Discount.

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Ultraman Max (2005)

Ultraman Max is the eighteenth installment in the Ultra Series, originally airing in Japan from July 7, 2005 to March 25, 2006. Across 39 episodes and one special, the special anti-monster task force DASH (Defense Action Squad Heroes) battles invading alien monsters, helped by Ultraman Max, who is secretly Touma Kaito, a DASH team member.

Unlike Ultraman Nexus, which went for a darker tone, this is a return to the original Ultraman series, bringing back old favorite monsters like Red King, Gomora, Antlar, Zetton, Eleking, Pigmon and Baltan. It also has a belief that humanity’s future will be a positive one, unlike so much of the science fiction of the 2000s.

There’s even a black and white episode that’s a tribute to the original Ultra Q and Ultraman Xenon makes a guest appearance.

Ultraman Max has an interesting role. As a Civilization Guardian, he studies developing civilizations and  works to help the species of other planets exist as one. Like so many of the Ultras before him, he has bonded with Touma Kaito after a great sacrifice, honoring the human by saving his life and sharing a body with him.

I like the idea that even the evil aliens have to admit that they like Earth in this story and how we have a place in the universe. Ultraman Max himself is inspiring, as he believes in the human race and in having faith in others. He’s learned a lot in his 7,800 years of life.

Another cool part of this show is that the monsters aren’t just aliens, but mythological creatures from Earth’s past. This series gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling and memories of being on my parent’s couch, jumping all over the room and blasting imaginary monsters with my Ultra Beam pose.

You can get the Mill Creek complete series set of Ultraman Max from Deep Discount.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) has unintentionally won a screen test when he shows remorse for a past crime. This convinces casting director Dabney Shaw (Larry Miller) that he’s a method actor and ready to head out to Los Angeles. At a party thrown by Harlan Dexter (Corbin Bernsen), who has recently come to terms with his daughter Veronica over his wife’s inheritance, he meets the man who is to prepare him for the role he’s been hired for, Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer) and also runs into someone he’s been in love with since he was seven, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan).

And then things get weird.

Partially based on the Brett Halliday novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them, Shane Black was on a downward slide when he wrote this, suffering through the failure of The Long Kiss Goodnight and a rejection letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He tried to get away from action and worked on a romantic comedy, but ended up back where he started. However, this was an attempt to reimagine the detective genre, using the spirit of the 1950s and 1960s yet modern characters. For example. Perry is gay, but Black wanted in include his sexuality as he had never seen “the gay guy who kicks down the door, shoots everyone, and bails your ass out before.”

Originally titled You’ll Never Die in This Town Again, this was the movie that showed Hollywood that Downey was ready to be a star again. He has said that this movie was “in some ways the best film I’ve ever done.” As for Kilmer, well, he missed doing comedy.

I loved everything about this movie, which is because, well, I love everyone in it. And I love Shane Black. This is the first movie he directed and he was asked by Empire, why is it set, like nearly all of his movies, over the holidays? He answered: ““I really wanted to set it at Christmas. At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about it. It seemed natural, because I hadn’t done a film at that time for quite some years. And there was no hesitation because I went with Joel Silver, and we’d already done a Christmas movie together with Lethal Weapon. Even Last Action Hero was a Christmas movie. So it was, why not? And Christmas helped a lot. The idea of this lonely guy in a brand new city at Christmas, wandering. It’s a bizarre, ironic take on Christmas in LA. It’s not Christmassy at all, except it’s, “There are miracles to find if you look closely enough for them.” Harry even says, “Last Christmas, we kind of changed the world,” meaning “We actually did something at Christmas that a) mattered and b) was impossible.” It was one of my favorite things to work on.”

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Santa’s Slay (2005)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was on the site back on December 21, 2017. Remember, it’s not who’s first. It’s who’s next.

If you ever wanted to watch a movie where Bill Goldberg hits Chris Kattan with the same sidekick that ended Bret Hart’s career, good news. I have found the movie for you.

Yep, the Mason family — including James Caan, Rebecca Gayheart, Fran Drescher and Kattan — are all fighting during Christmas dinner, but Santa arrives in time to kill them all. And that’s just the start.

Santa is really Satan’s son — the son of a virgin birth like Jesus — who used December 25th as the “Day of Slaying” until an angel defeated him in a curling match and he was forced to deliver gifts for 1,000 years.

Now, it’s 2005 and Santa is ready to get some revenge.

This film was directed by David Steiman, who was a production assistant for Brett Ratner. It’s a slick-looking film, one that ended up way better than I thought it would be.

It has some interesting picks as stars, like SCTV’s Dave Thomas playing a perverted pastor and Robert Culp playing the hero’s grandfather (who ends up being the curling playing angel who defeated Satan’s son). Plus, you know, Bill Goldberg as Santa, which gives him the chance to use his “Who’s next?” catchphrase after the credits.

There are much better Santa as killer movies you can watch this holiday season. And we’ve covered so many of them over the last few days. But if you want to be a completist — and if you’re a wrestling fan and want to see Vince Russo die in a strip club massacre — then go ahead and watch this.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Películas para no dormir: Cuento de navidad (2005)

One day in the woods, Moni (Ivana Baquero, Pan’s Labyrinth), Koldo, Peti, Eugenio and Tito discover that a woman in a Santa suit has fallen into a pit. That woman is bank robber Rebeca Expósito (Maru Valdivielso) who they decide to keep as their secret. They decide to start feeding her and trying to get her to tell them where the millions she store are, but soon, she’s escaped and she has an axe.

Luckily, they have the training they’ve picked up from a childhood of watching horror movies on VHS, like the film within this film Zombie Invasion which looks a lot like The Gates of Hell. It also has Elsa Pataky from Beyond Reanimator and Fast and the Furious. Oh yes! She’s also in Argento’s Giallo.

As the Santa with an axe chases the kids, only what they have learned from those films — and The Karate Kid — can save them. Maybe. Maybe not.  This has a dark ending with a little bit of hope, as at least one of the kids gave her actual food and not just junk. Also, she didn’t shove something into her eye like she was some kind of Fulci-obsessed lunatic.

Películas para no dormir means 6 Films to Keep You Awake. They include Blame by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador (Who Can Kill a ChildThe House That Screamed), Spectre by Mateo Gil, A Real Friend by Enrique Urbizu, The Baby’s Room by Alex de la Iglesia (El Dia de la Bestia) and To Let by Jaume Balagueró (Rec). This story was Paco Plaza (who also directed Rec) and written by Luiso Berdejo (Quarantine).

This is a great watch and I loved the other ones I’ve seen, so I need to hunt them all down.

American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile (2006)

The second American Pie direct-to-video film, The Naked Mile is about Erik Stifler (John White), who has been given a pass from his girlfriend Tracy Sterling (Jessy Schram) as he goes to the University of Michigan to visit his cousin Dwight (Steve Talley) and take part in the Naked Mile, a party that involves people, well, running a mile naked and partying. If you were wondering, who comes up with that, it would be Jim’s father (Eugene Levy).

The Naked Mile is a real thing that used to happen at the University of Michigan from 1985 to 2000. Senior students would celebrate their last day of class by running or biking a course through campus. The school was upset that this event was destroying their reputation.

Directed by Joe Nussbaum and written by Eric Lindsay, the main humor in this comes from a fraternity made up of smaller people who end up sleeping with really attractive women. I realize that 2006 is centuries away from today, but this is also so many miles — naked or clothed — from the quality of the American Pie films.

This was shot in Ontario but yet has none of the feel of 80s Canucksploitation sex comedies like RecruitsState ParkScrewballs, OddballsPinball Summer, Meatballs III: Summer JobScrewball Hotel and — how can anyone forget this is part Canadian — Porky’s.

American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005)

Look, if there weren’t going to be any more American Pie movies in theaters, there would always be people who would rent the direct-to-video sequels. You know, like me. I’m a completist. How many Amityville movies does it take to stop my OCD? How many Hellraiser films? Well, here you go: a whole series of American Pie movies that just have Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) and Stifler’s family to have the smallest of all threads.

Well, also Chuck Sherman, who is now a guidance counselor and sends Stifler’s little brother Matt (Tad Hilgenbrink, who is also in Lost Boys: The Tribe) to band camp where he’s guided by, yes, Jim’s dad. There are also plenty of hot young women — and also a little older ones, because Ginger Lynn plays the camp nurse — to be part of his new adult video Bandeez Gone Wild. He’s following in his brother’s footsteps, as Stiffler is a porn director, despite the alternate world of American Reunion where we learn that he’s suffering in the world after high school.

He also falls for Elyse Houston (Arielle Kebbel), who has the entire band play a Tal Bachman song. You know, the guy who sang “She’s So High.” Oh man, the 2000s, right? The music in this is strange because it has a lot of covers, as I imagine the lower budget could accommodate Andrew W.K. but led to a cover of James’ “Laid” and Linda Perry playing Pink’s “Get the Party Started.”

Director Steve Rash also made Under the RainbowSon In Law, Can’t Buy Me Love and direct-to-video sequels to Bring It On and Road Trip. This was written by Brad Riddell, who made Slap Shop 3 and I had no idea there was a Slap Shot 2.

PITTSBURGH MADE: George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005)

It seems hard to think about it today, but in the 1990s through 2000s, zombies weren’t interesting to Hollywood. Then 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead and Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead were surprise hits and Fox, was trying to buy the name Night of the Living Dead and decided to talk to George Romero, who wanted to make a movie he called Dead Reckoning. Universal Pictures ended up giving him more money than he ever had for a film and he decided to make everything he didn’t get to do in Day of the Dead.

There are some fun moments here — Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright cameo as zombies thanks to their Romero lovefest Shaun of the Dead, Savini’s Blades character from Dawn of the Dead has a few moments of being awesome, I’m always happy to see Asia Argento and I like the idea of the zombies using tools and becoming evolved after Day — but the fact that this is set in Pittsburgh yet shot in Canada has made me kind of upset.

The reason for my anger? It’s because this entire movie is based around the city and has Fiddler’s Green, an area for the rich and powerful ruled by Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), being protected by two of the three rivers as well as Dead Reckoning, a battle truck co-commanded by Riley Denbo (Simon Baker) and Cholo DeMore (John Leguizamo).

If you aren’t from Pittsburgh, the name Kaufman is amusing because the fancy department store down was Kaufmann’s and was always used to my childhood as an example of being rich. “Did you buy that suit from Kaufmann’s?” people used to say.

As for Argento, she plays Slack, a fighter in the gladiator pits where humans and zombies battle for the entertainment of the powerful elite. There’s also a zombie called Big Daddy (Eugene Clark) who has learned how to plan, lead and use tools.

I realize it’s not the worst zombie film — it’s not even the worst Romero Zombie film — but it feels like a movie standing it place, treading water and reliving its past, which is pretty much what the zombies do as they attack Fiddler’s Green.