WATCH THE SERIES: Predator

With the release of Prey, it’s time to break down all of the Predator movies in one place and try and figure out why I love this franchise so much when I outright hate at least one of these movies.

The inspiration for the film came from a joke that after Rocky IV, Stallone had run out of opponents on Earth. If they made another film, he’d have to fight an alien. Jim and John Thomas were inspired by that and wrote Hunter, which became Predator. One could argue that they had seen Without Warning, which is nearly the same idea, with an alien — armed with futuristic weaponry and also played by Kevin Peter Hall — on Earth to hunt humans.

Predator (1987): As Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” blares, helicopters carrying Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poncho (Richard Chaves), Billy (Sonny Landham), Mac (Bill Duke), Hawkins (Shane Black), Blain (Jesse Ventura) and Dillon (Carl Weathers) lands in Central America to free a foreign cabinet minister and his aide.

On their way to the target, Dutch discovers a destroyed helicopter and three skinned bodies of a failed rescue attempt. After Dutch’s team decimates the enemy, including some Soviet officers, they learn that it was all a set-up by Dillon to get information from the enemy. Only one is left alive — Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) — so the team takes her to the extraction zone.

And this is where Predator flips the script.

Written by Jim and John Thomas (Mission to MarsExecutive Decision) and directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard, Last Action Hero), this film starts as a testosterone-laced ode to American firepower and then becomes a slasher, as the team is followed by an invisible, nearly-unstoppable alien hunter (Kevin Peter Hall) who has come from space just for the sport of hunting these soldiers.

There are so many stories about how JCVD was once the Predator. Why that ended is up for debate. Maybe it’s because Van Damme was only 5’9″. Or it could have been because all Jean Claude did was complain about the suit being so hot that he kept passing out. Or maybe the original design just didn’t work. The Stan Winston redesign? It’s as iconic as the xenomorphs of Alien, which the Predator would get to battling soon enough.

Predator 2 (1989): The beauty of Predator is that it starts as a war movie and suddenly becomes a slasher before you even realize it. It subverts the macho tropes of Arnold movies by inserting a killing machine that is tougher, better armed and just plain unstoppable. And that killer? He’s just here for sport.

So why do I love Predator 2 so much? Because it’s literally a grindhouse or Italian exploitation version of Predator. Instead of the jungle, we get a literal concrete jungle. Instead of Arnold, Jesse and Carl Weathers, we get character actors galore, like Danny Glover, Robert Davi, Gary Busey and Bill Paxton. It has the feel of RoboCop with a non-stop media barrage led by real-life junk TV icon Morton Downey, Jr. (“Zip it, pinhead!”), and a populace that is constantly armed and always looking for a chance to use it. It’s one of the few slices of the future where it feels like today — the technology is only nominally better and everything pretty much sucks for everyone. And holy shit, is it fucking hot.

The 1997 of this movie is really 2018, to be honest. Except LA is in the midst of a war between the Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels. It’s a perfect place for a Predator to hunt — and once that alien sees Lt. Harrigan (Glover) in action, it seems like it’s playing a game to capture the lawman as his ultimate prize. That’s when we meet Special Agent Peter Keyes (Busey), who is posing as a DEA agent, and new team member Detective Jerry Lambert (Paxton at his most manic).

There’s a scene where the Predator interrupts a voodoo ritual (the girlfriend screaming for her life is former Playboy Playmate turned porn star (that was a rare thing in the 1990s) Teri Weigel) and wipes out everyone, skinning them alive and taking pieces of them as trophies. One of the team, Danny (singer Rubén Blades) comes back to the crime scene, only to be killed by the camouflaged alien.

Harrigan starts tracking the killer, thinking he’s dealing with a human. He even consults King Willie (Calvin Lockhart, The Beast Must Die), the voodoo loving gang leader. That’s when we get that immortal line that Ice Cube sampled, “There’s no stopping what can’t be stopped. No killing what can’t be killed.” A short battle follows with an awesome two cut (literally) of Willie screaming and his severed head being carried away, continuing the scream.

Two massive action scenes follow: Lambert and team member Cantrell (María Conchita Alonso) battling a gang and the Predator on a train, then Keyes and his team battling the Predator in what they think is the perfect situation.

It comes down to Harrigan and the Predator battling one on one, from rooftop to buildings to a spacecraft. Harrigan overcomes the alien with its own weapons, then an army of other Predators appear (this made me stand up and cheer when I saw this 27 years ago in the theater) and one of them hands the cop an ancient gun as a trophy before they leave him behind. That gun is engraved “Raphael Adolini 1715,” a reference to the Dark Horse comic book story Predator: 1718, which was published in  A Decade of Dark Horse #1.

To be honest — a TON of this film is taken from Dark Horse’s Predator: Concrete Jungle. The first few issues feature  Detective Schaefer, the brother of Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, as he and his partner, Detective Rasche, fight a Predator in New York City. And the inclusion of the Alien skull was inspired by Dark Horse’s Aliens vs. Predator series.

I love that Lilyan Chauvin is in this as Dr. Irene Richards, the chief medical examiner and forensic pathologist of Los Angeles. How woke is Predator 2? The main cop is African American leading an ethnically diverse team when that diversity isn’t an issue at all? Then you have a woman in charge of all pathology? How ahead of its time is this movie?

Adam Baldwin from TV’s Firefly has a brief role as a member of Keyes’ team. Plus, Robert Davi plays a police captain, Kent McCord from TV’s Adam-12 is a cop, Steve Kahan (who played Glover’s boss in four Lethal Weapon films) plays a police sergeant and Elpidia Carrillo reprises her role as Anna Gonsalves from the original in a cameo.

If you read the book version, you learn even more: Keyes recalls memories of speaking with Dutch in a hospital, as he suffered from radiation sickness. However, the soldier escaped, never to be seen again. Arnold himself escaped, refusing to do this movie because of the script, and he was nearly replaced by Steven Seagal and Patrick Swayze!

Director Stephen Hopkins went on to direct The ReapingLost in SpaceThe Ghost and the Darkness and Judgement Night (he also directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child before this). He had to recut the film twenty times to get an R rating! I’d love to see the uncut version of this. Shout Factory, how about it?

One of my favorite things about the film is this outtake. Stick through it to see Danny Glover dance along with some Predators!

Also: Holy shit, Gary Busey. He is in character the entire time, discussing how they’re hunting the Predator while also talking about it as a film. If this doesn’t make you love him, nothing will.

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Macgruber, Balls of Fury, Your Highness (2010, 2007, 2011)

Mill Creek has released this DVD set of three 2000s comedies that is totally worth your money. You can get it from Deep Discount.

MacGruber (2010): Directed by The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, MacGruber does what all SNL films do: stretch a short segment into a full movie. However, because this movie has a rich history of spy films and MacGyver to make fun of, it does much better than most.

Star Will Forte would tell The A.V. Club, “What you see with this movie is exactly what we wanted to do. It’s the three of us having a bunch of fun writing it, then having fun making it with a bunch of our friends—old friends and new friends. I think that fun comes across when you watch it. It’s rare that you get that kind of creative freedom.”

Basically, MacGruber is the greatest secret agent of all time, but he’s been retired ever since his archnemesis Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) killed his wife (Maya Rudolph) on his wedding day. Of course, he comes back. And oh yes, as I always say, hijinks ensue.

WWE wrestlers Chris Jericho, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Kane, MVP and The Great Khali appeared in this movie as past agents that have worked with MacGruber, which led to Forte, Ryan Phillippe and Kristen Wiig hosting Monday Night Raw. And one of the henchmen is remake Jason, Derek Mears.

I’m for any movie that has Powers Boothe as an authority figure and Kilmer as a villain who ends up getting his hand chopped off, machine gunned, blown up real good and then, as MacGruber prepares to marry the love of his life, pissed on.

There’s going to be a series of this on the NBC Peacock streaming service. I can’t wait. Hopefully it’s as much fun as this movie.

Strangely enough — and this feels like complete BS because there’s no attribution on IMDB — Kilmer and Forte almost ended up being on Amazing Race as a team, as Kilmer later stayed at Forte’s house for a few months after this movie and they became such friends that they watched the show all the time together.

Balls of Fury (2007): As silly as this movie is, it’s important to remember that it comes from The State‘s Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, which means that yes, it will be incredibly ridiculous but in a way that makes you feel good about how dumb it al is — and I say that with affection.

Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) loses the semi-final ping pong game against semi-final game against Karl Wolfschtagg in the 1988 Summer Olympics and when he finds out that his father (Robert Patrick) bet on the game, he learns minutes later that the loan shark money that he used for the bet is collected by a near-supervillain named Feng (Christopher Walken) who makes Randy’s dad pay with his life. Therefore, no more ping pong.

Or maybe not. Nearly two decades later, Agent Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez) recruits him Enter the Dragon-style to infiltrate Feng’s table tennis tournament and break up his guns for money empire. Oh yeah — the tournament is sudden death and that means that the loser dies, as his henchwoman Mahogany (Aisha Tyler) kills whoever drops the ball with a poison dart.

After training with Master Wong (James Hong) and his daughter Maggie (Maggie Q), he must defeat table tennis bosses like Freddy “Fingers” Wilson (Terry Crews), The Hammer (Patton Oswalt) and his old enemy Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon).

The idea that Asian masters can’t teach skills to white people was a big part of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. The star of that movie, Jason Scott Lee, is in this as Siu-Foo.

Your Highness (2011): Before David Gordon Green started remaking every horror movie you ever cared about, he was making cute comedies like this one, written by Danny McBride and Ben Best.

This is the journey of Prince Thadeous (McBride) and Prince Fabious (James Franco), the sons of King Tallious. After they defeat the wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), Fabious plans on marrying the virgin Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) who he has just rescued. Thadeous skips the ceremony after hearing the royal guard, led by Boremont (Damian Lewis) insult him for his laziness. As he leaves with his friend Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), Leezar attacks, takes back Belladonna and plans on having sex with her during the convergence of two moons. She will give birth to a dragon that will help him conquer King Tallious’ kingdom. Thadeous must help his brother or be banished.

Their quest is complicated when they learn that the king’s Knights Elite have staged a coup and joined with Leezar. What follows are episodes right out of an Italian sword and sorcery movie, like a tribe of Amazon warriors, a hydra creature, a labyrinth containing a minotaur, a quest for the Blade of the Unicorn and meeting warrior woman Isabel (Natalie Portman).

When you see the scene with Leezar’s three witch mothers, they are played by Matyelok Gibbs (Erik the Viking‘s mother), Anna Barry and Angela Pleasence from SymptomsThe Godsend and From Beyond the Grave (and Donal’s daughter, of course).

This movie was not well reviewed and James Franco has been said to outright despise it. I had fun, but as you know, I’ve watched so many some of the wildest barbarian movies that cinema has to offer.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: George Clooney Double Feature – The American / Leatherheads (2010/2008)

The American (2010): Based on the 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, The American finds George Clooney playing Jack, a gunsmith and contract killer, who is also known as Edward when he gets spotted, a fact that he finds him killing his lover Ingrid (Irina Björklund) to keep from being found out.

He leaves for Castelvecchio, a small town in the mountains of Abruzzo, where he begins a relationship with two women: a prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido) and Mathilde (Thekla Reuten), who asks him to build a special rifle. Yet at every turn, others are hunting him.

Jack/Edward regrets his life and killing Ingrid, so he confesses to Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and tries to imagine a world where he can be with Clara, all while Mathilde readies to use the gun he made to kill him.

With allusions to the films of Leone and Don’t Look Now, director Anton Corbijn and writer Rowan Joffé have created an intriguing film with no real heroes.

Leatherheads (2008): Directed by star George Clooney from a script by Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly, Leatherheads is about the start of American football. Clooney plays Jimmy “Dodge” Connelly, the captain of the Duluth Bulldogs, who is trying to save his team and football as a whole as it struggles to catch on He convinces war hero and college football star Carter “the Bullet” Rutherford (John Krasinski) to the team. He’s a combination of University of Illinois football star Harold “Red” Grange, who signed to a contract with the Chicago Bears the day after his last football game and Alvin York, the controversial Medal of Honor winner whose fame led to Sergeant York, the Gary Cooper movie.

The team and the league succeed as a result of this, but when reporter Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger) learns the truth, she feels duty bound to report it. The entire world doesn’t believe her until Dodge plays a prank — much like Clooney in real life — and gets Carter to speak the truth.

This movie speaks to the truth of media heroism, how football became an organized and reputable — well, somewhat — sport and the men that played the game. It’s also really well done.

You can get the Mill Creek George Clooney Double Feature of The American and Leatherheads from Deep Discount.

Watch the series: Lake Placid

Sometimes, having OCD and ADD and who knows what else leads me down some strange paths. This time, it was to go all-in on Lake Placid. A note: The Lake Placid vs. Anaconda movie and Lake Placid: Legacy will be covered soon enough.

Lake Placid (1999): Not many eco-horror movies have the pedigree of Steve Miner directing and David E. Kelly writing them. Maybe it’s just that I’ve watched so many cable sequels and low budget cash-ins this week, but man — this is an actual movie! This line will make more sense by the time this article is done, as man did these movies take a dive when it comes to quality.

A SCUBA diving death in Aroostook County, Maine leads to an entire team investigating the cause. Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleason), wildlife officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) and mythology professor Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) soon discover that there’s a giant crocodile in the lakes, fed by kindly old Mrs. Delores Bickerman (Betty White).

The Stan Winston-created gator looks great, a moose head is gorily removed from the lake and White’s character is fun. There are also several references to Alligator, which I endorse because it’s the best of all croc or gator on the loose movies.

Lake Placid 2 (2007): Sheriff James Riley is now on the case of the gators and if you know your made for SyFy movies, you know that he has to be played by one-time Duke of Hazzard John Schneider. Instead of Betty White feeding gators, you get her sister Sadie, played by Cloris Leachman (they were both on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, so at least the casting has some meta quality). Instead of Steve Miner and David E. Kelly, we have David Flores directing and Howie Miller and Todd Hurvitz writing.

It is, as they say, a major step backward.

I was going to ask where a cop would get a grenade launcher and then I remembered that in my hometown of 7,436 people the police all have AR15s, ballistic armor and a battle armored SWAT vehicle. So this isn’t all that far-fetched, I guess.

In case you wondered, yes, a small dog is menaced by the gator.

Lake Placid 3 (2010): Sadie Bickerman has died and left her home to her nephew Nathan (Colin Ferguson from Eureka), who plans on fixing it up with his wife Susan (Yancy Butler) and their son Connor, who inherits the Bickerman family trait of feeding gators and making them into human masticating killing machines.

In this movie, an entire family of gators bites down on peeping toms and skinny dippers, keeping the cable movie from showing too much gore or too much skin. It also has a literal home invasion via crocodile years before Crawl.

Director Griff Furst — Stephen’s son — has been in nearly ninety movies and also directed Swamp SharkAlligator Alley and Trailer Park Shark. Writer David Reed is now a writer and a producer of The Boys.

The end of this movie directly ties into the fourth movie.

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2010): David E. Kelly, which wrote the original Lake Placid, gave this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and said, “Is this the last one really? The ending doesn’t make me think so. I am glad to see Robert Englund in this and some of the cast from the previous movie! The effects are still lame as second and third, but the story is good.”

David Reed was back as the writer and sequel king Don Michael Paul (Kindergarten Cop 2, Jarhead 2: Field of FireSniper: LegacyTremors 5: BloodlinesSniper: Ghost ShooterTremors: A Cold Day in HellDeath Race: Beyond AnarchyThe Scorpion King: Book of SoulsJarhead: Law of ReturnBulletproof 2 and Tremors: Shrieker Island) was new to the series, making what was claimed to be the last film in the series. Come on, people.

After the events of Lake Placid 3, Reba (Yancy Butler) is still alive and she starts this off by killing the last remaining crocodile in the supermarket. Now an EPA agent, she returns to Black Lake a year later to work with sheriff Theresa Giove (Elisabeth Röhm). And in every Lake Placid there must be a Bickerman and this time it’s Jimmy, played by Robert Englund.

Butler is pretty great in this, the crocodile is somehow twenty feet long and a whole bus full of kids gets menaced.

There’s an opportunity to make the Lake Placid movies high trash, yet no one ever seems to go for it. You know there will be more, so that’s my challenge to croc creatives: go wild.

Malevolent Ascent (2010)

David Wascavage makes two kinds of movies, both awesome. One side is silly monster movies, like Suburban SasquatchFungicide and Zombies by Design. The other is deadly serious and something sinister is happening beyond the fabric of normal life like Tartarus and this movie. I’m a fan of pretty much everything he does and this one pushes his filmmaking the furthest I’ve seen in all of his films.

Seven normal people are on an elevator that crashes and leaves them trapped inside a building. As they get their bearings and try to figure out how to escape, they soon discover that one of them has no intention of seeing any of them survive.

You know, M. Night Shyamalan was also raised in eastern Pennsylvania (born in Mahé, India, and raised in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania) while Wascavage is from West Chester. This film reminds me of a Shymalan idea but with five-figure budget, cardboard sets and CGI that can’t mean computer generated imagery, this lo fi auteur makes movies that I remember long after three or four what a twist Shyamalan movies have come in and out of theaters.

Damien Colletti is really great in this and brings the best acting I’ve seen in one of the director and writer’s films. Speaking of greatness, this description on the director’s site makes me want to watch this all over again: “A psychopath pursues victims throughout a collapsed mental hospital, as they learn that their survival and their very lives are struggles against the perils of life. Malevolent Ascent is a thrilling horror film that takes the viewer deep inside the bowels of a collapsed building, and personifies humanity’s desperation to fight against the unknown.”

I don’t plan on getting on any elevators anytime soon.

You can watch this on Tubi.

All About Evil (2010)

Following its world premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival and a limited theatrical run in 2010, Peaches Christ’s All About Evil disappeared. Now, it’s back and coming out on blu ray from Severin during their mid-year sale and then will start streaming on Shudder June 13.

After a scene that echoes Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? yet also has a small child urinating all over a microphone and electrocuting herself — set the tone! — we meet Deborah Tennis (Natasha Lyonne) — pronounced Deb-or-ah — who takes over her late father’s cinema and attempts to keep his dream alive. After disposing of her wicked stepmother (Julie Caitlin Brown), Deborah transcends her quiet librarian origins and discovers that she has a gift for cinema. Snuff cinema, that is.

With the assistance of her projectionist Mr. Twigs (Jack Donner, The Night God Screamed), identical and insane twins Veda and Vera (Jade and Nikita Ramsey) and Adrian (Noah Segan), she takes the Alamo Drafthouse pre-movie PSAs to the next level and creates short films during which she murders those who either annoy her or get in her way, making it look like Herschell Gordon Lewis gorenography. After all, the security camera footage of her first murder goes perfectly with Blood Feast.

As Deborah and the theater grow in popularity, the murders increase in frequency and intensity, including sewing a librarian’s (Mink Stole!) mouth shut. The theater also begins to fascinate a high school movie nerd named Steven (Thomas Dekker, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) while upsetting his mother (Cassandra Peterson!).

If a warped director making a torture movie called A Tale of Two Titties — starring a guillotine — makes you laugh, if a marquee displaying Blood Orgy of the She-Devils makes you feel the vapors, if you like to see good people meet bad ends from worse people, All About Evil was made just for you.

This goes on sale this Friday from Severin. It comes with an exclusive slipcase, audio commentary with writer/director Joshua Grannell (Peaches Christ) and actors Thomas Dekker, Ashley Fink, Jade Ramsey and Nikita Ramsey, a making of feature, a roundtable discussion, Evil Live: The Peaches Christ Experience In 4D World Premiere At The Castro Theatre in May 2010, Grindhouse short film, a second behind the scenes featurette, a trailer, teaser, bonus soundtrack CD and a bonus booklet The Tour De Fierce Diaries: On The Road With All About Evil by Michael Varrati.

Peaches Christ herself will present the film at “Peaches Christ 4-D Screenings” along the West Coast, including the Los Feliz 3 in Los Angeles on June 9 and the Victoria Theater in San Francisco on June 11 where the film was shot. Fans in Los Angeles can also attend a blu ray signing event at Dark Delicacies on June 12 with Peaches Christ and members of the cast.

Turbulent Skies (2010)

So what if we invented an airplane that can fly itself?

Instantly, I see the worst case scenario here.

You know who didn’t? The genius who plans an investor flight and installs new software that lets some viruses in so that the plane starts flying like a maniac.

So the military says, “Let’s shoot it down.”

And the inventor says, “My wife is on that plane.”

Hijinks ensue.

At least this time Fred Olen Ray has a cast with Casper Van Dien, Nicole Eggert, Brad Douriff and Patrick Muldoon, all of whom are in here for name value and occasionally hang back and allow the other cast members to shine.

The strange thing is that the computer malfunctions yet is not evil nor is it out to really kill anyone. So the conflict that you expect in these movies isn’t here. There is a scene where Casper flies in some stealth stock footage and appears inside the refuelling part of the plane, ready to save every one of us.

Anyways, you can kind of consider this a Starship Troopers mini-reunion with Casper and Muldoon in the cast. Unlike the convention that would have them, you don’t need to pay $110 for a photo op.

You can watch this on Tubi.

American Bandits: Frank and Jesse James (2010)

Jesse James (George Stults) and his brother Frank (Tim Abell) have emerged from a robbery gone wrong and Jesse is healing up with the help of Carrie (Siri Baruc) and Mary (Lauren Eckstrom). They don’t know that Marhsall Kane (Peter Fonda, who started his career making low budget Roger Corman films and fits in just fine here) is coming after them as well as his men making a play for the money and leaving the brothers in the cold.

How do you feel about day for night? Do you love it? Would you be happy just to have Jeffrey Combs show up for a little bit? Will you watch every western there is? Are you a fan of Fred Olen Ray or perhaps writing an entire week of a web site about his movies?

There’s still someone on IMDB that’s calling out the historical and weapon accuracy of Ray’s movies, such as how the movie is set in the 1860s and civilians are carrying Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army revolvers — which weren’t available to the general population until 1875 or later — and none of the guns recoil when they’re shot. I appreciate the writer’s attention to detail and invite them to write for the site.

You can watch this on Tubi.

 

Watch the series: Wild Things (2004, 2005, 2010)

Editor’s note: To check out Wild Things, click here.

Wild Things 2 (2004): Directed by Jack Perez (Unauthorized: The Mary Kay Letourneau StoryUnauthorized: Brady Bunch – The Final Days) and written by Ross Helford (who also wrote the Sniper sequels) and Andy Hurst (who wrote the sequel to Single White Female), this movie does credit Stephen Peters for characters, but there’s not a single continuing character. In fact, it’s pretty much the same story and a very similar threesome scene, which you’ll soon discover just might be the defining moment of any movie called Wild Things.

Brittney Havers (Susan Ward) is a wealthy Florida high school senior who has list her mother to a car crash on Gator Alley — where she was presumably devoured by alligators — and her stepfather Niles Dunlap (Anthony Denison, who was Joey Buttafucco in The Amy Fisher Story, the Drew Barrymore one) has just died when his private plane went down. She’s about to earn a small amount of money each year until she’s done with college and then $25,000 a year, with the rest of the will — $70 million dollars worth — going to an heir if they can be found. That heir ends up being one of her classmates, Maya King (Leila Arcieri).

We soon see Brittney, Maya and the DNA test doctor all having some MFF action, which clues us in that this is all a ruse. Insurance investigator Terence Bridge (Isaiah Washington) thinks that it’s a scam too, as Dunlap once had scarlet fever and was possibly sterile. That means the DNA doctor is a crocodile meal and then, well, the twists and turns start to add up. Dead people are alive, partners get double-crossed, people on the side of the law aren’t and there’s even an open ending that makes you think that the backstabbing hasn’t stopped.

Imagine if they just redid the first one, had no major stars, still had the threesome scene and shot it like a prime time soap opera. That’s kind of a success in my book.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough (2005): I love when a movie can be sold just on the title and doesn’t need to be tied into anything in any of the other movies in the series. So here we go. Another Wild Things, this one directed by Jay Lowi (Tangled) from a script by Andy Hurst and Ross Helfer, the same guys who wrote the last one.

Marie Clifton was given two diamonds — the “mother and daughter” — in her mother’s will, but her step-father Jay Clifton (Brad Johnson, who was in Nam Angels and was also a former Marlboro Man) has changed the will because he wants them for himself.

Meanwhile, there’s a sex ed seminar at school with Dr. Chad Johnson and probation officer Kristen Richards (Dina Meyer, once Batgirl on Birds of Prey as well as roles in D-ToxStarship Troopers and Saw), who reveals that she was the victim of a sex crime when she was in high school, which totally shuts down the raucous senior audience.

Now here’s where the Wild Things drama comes in: Marie has a swim meet and her stepfather meets towel girl Elena Sandoval (Sanda McCoy, who was in the secret Porky’s movie Porky’s: Pimpin’ Pee Wee), who he invites to Marie’s eighteenth birthday party. The girls do not get along — that’s putting it mildly — so Jay takes her to one of his construction sites and you know what happens next allegedly. Now, Detective Michael Morrison (Linden Ashby) and Richards are on the case, along with Dr. Johnson, who is to examine Elena.

If you’re wondering how long it takes until Marie, Elena and the doctor are all reenacting scenes from You, Me and Dupree, it’s about as long as it takes to read this sentence.

But man, the twists and turns of this one are so plentiful that they take one of the things that worked so well in the original movie and show how it all came together over the credits. And for some reason, the good guys actually come out on top in this one.

How much sex, illegitimate children, gator eating and swamp chases can one small Florida town have? Well, they made four movies out of this. There’s your answer. This one has the sense to just go wild — no pun intended.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Wild Things: Foursome (2010): Each Wild Things movie seems like a remake of sorts. This installment has Andy Hurst, who wrote the second and third, directing and a script by Howard Zemski and Monty Featherstone, the team who wrote Sharkman.

The major difference is that this time, we’re talking about twenty-year-olds and not high schoolers. Carson Wheetly (Ashley Parker Angel, who was in O-Town) is the rich and spoiled son of NASCAR car racer Ted Wheetly (Cameron Daddo). He thinks his dad may have killed his mother, but first, let’s get to this movie’s other main difference.

Whereas every Wild Things is built around a threesome, this one goes one better and has, as the title spoils for you, a foursome between Carson, his girlfriend Rachel Thomas (Marnette Patterson), Brandi Cox (Jillian Murray, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero) and Linda Dobson (Jessie Nickson).

Within a few days of that MFFF miracle — surely Carson is some level of science fiction character or at least a former boy band member — his father dies in a car crash that Bruno Mattei’s some Days of Thunder footage. That death is suspicious, so Detective Frank Walker (John Schneider, who may know a thing or two about car crashes) starts to investigate just as the will is announced, which states that Carson cannot inherit his father’s money and estate until he turns thirty or marries.

That means a quick marriage to Rachel, but they had a deal with everyone in the foursome, so Brandi and Linda seem to be dead meat, except that Rachel and Brandi are also working together to kill Carson. Once the girls end up — spoiler warning — using sex to kill Carson, they start conspiring to keep making love and attempting to murder one another.

This is the sort of movie that keeps the twists coming after the credits roll. All I have to say is keep your eye on lawyer George Stuben (Ethan Smith).

I miss the swamps of the other movies, but appreciate that this one is all about death and sex, which let’s face it, all giallo should be. It doesn’t get to that level, as it needs more fashion and better music, but it certainly has the sleaze — well, homogenized 2000s sleaze — going for it.

I kind of wish there was a fifth movie just to see if they’d get a fiveway into it.

Consider Tubi the Wild Things network, because they have every one of these movies.

 

Come una crisalide (2010)

Symphony In Blood Red was directed by Luigi Pastore, best known for Violent Shit: The Movie, and written by Antonio Tentori, who worked on A Cat In the Brain and Demonia for Fulci; Frankenstein 2000 for D’Amato; Segreti di donnaThe Jail: The Women’s HellIsland of the Living Dead and Zombies: The Beginning for Mattei; Dracula 3D for Argento and wrote modern Italian horror like CatacombaVirus: Extreme Contamination and Flesh Contagium.

Not only do you get a Claudio Simonetti score, you also get him on stage with his band Daemonia. And you get to watch a serial killer unleash his hatred on men and women alike as they have a rampage fueled by the effects of Sergio Stivaletti. While so much has been made of its Argento inspiration, it feels more like a slasher film than an arty psychosexual thriller.

Then again — it does start with a quote right out of Tenebre.

When a patient is told that they must go back to a clinic instead of being allowed to be free, they murder their therapist and start killing anyone and everyone they can. We hear from the killer throughout the movie as they narrate the killings and explain the reasons why they kill. One of the issues I have with newer giallo is that they attempt to claim the influence, have a few shots that reference the old films and then forget the elements that make the finest examples work: a protagonist forced to investigate the killings, a murderer motivated by past trauma, artistic death scenes, gorgeous people and high fashion.

I dug the Greek chorus priest puppets and the film’s grubbiness, but I’d say this is for giallo obsessives only. And that’s fine — we always find what we’re looking for.