Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

This movie had two requests, one from James Greening and another from my cousin, Alexis Vardoulis. I’d been wanting to watch this for a long time, so I’m excited that these requests came in for more horror comedy movies, as they’re getting me to watch some movies I wouldn’t normally get to. Actually, that’s the whole reason I do this site — to learn more about movies and share them with others. Thanks James and Alexis!

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil plays with the conventions of the slasher and redneck film to great comedic effect. It’s written and directed by Eli Craig, who started as an actor (he’s in The Rage: Carrie 2) before creating this movie.

Allison (Katrina Bowden, Cerie from TV’s 30 Rock), Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Todd, Mitch and Mike are on their way to a camping weekend in West Virginia. While buying beer at a gas station, they meet Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk from Firefly and Tyler Labine from TV’s Reaper), two well-meaning rednecks who have just achieved a major life goal by buying a vacation home.

Tucker tries to talk to Allison, but he’s awkward and ends up frightening everyone. Obviously, they’ve already judged everyone they’re going to meet in the country. On the way to their cabin, Tucker and Dale are pulled over by the sheriff, who warns them about how dangerous the woods are.

While the college kids are in the woods, Chad tells them all about the Memorial Day Massacre, an attack by hillbillies that happened twenty years ago. Following the slasher movie conventions, the kids ho skinny dipping but instead of being killed, Allison slips and hits her head. As Tucker and Dale are fishing nearby, they see this and save her life. But to everyone else, it looks like they kidnapped her.

Everything from here on out is all about perceptions and misunderstandings. Only Allison is able to see Tucker and Dale for what they are, truly nice guys who just live somewhere different than them. Of course, these kids are morons and they end up impaling themselves on trees and getting themselves killed, which only puts more blame on our heroes.

It turns out that Chad’s mother was the lone survivor of the Memorial Day Massacre, which means that when he goes crazy, he sees killing Tucker and Dale as the perfect revenge. And because Allison earlier turned down his advances, he thinks that her being friends with the duo is a form of Stockholm Syndrome. Even worse, it turns out that all the clippings in the house and the sawmill reveal that Chad’s father — and not any hillbillies — was the actual murderer behind those killings twenty years ago. 

Will Tucker and Allison survive and go out on a date? Will Dale ever bowl again after Chad cuts off his fingers? Or will Chad kill off everyone? These questions will all be answered when you watch Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.

I really enjoyed this movie. It doesn’t take anything seriously and is more fun the more you love the movies that inspired it. There have been discussions of a sequel, which I would love to see.

You can watch it on Shudder.

The A-Team (2010)

“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… the A-Team.”

Joe Carnahan was behind Smokin’ Aces and wrote the remake of Death Wish. Here, he’s remaking the 1980’s TV series that was created by Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell.

The film begins by showing how the team was formed. John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson, taking on George Peppard’s role) is captured by renegade General Javier Tuco, but he escapes and rescues Templeton “Face” Peck (Bradley Cooper, playing Dirk Benedict’s part). They then enlist B.A. Baracus (UFC fighter Quinton Jackson, taking over for Mr. T) and escape in a helicopter courtesy of the certifiably insane “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharto Copley, here for Dwight Schultz). The incident cements their friendship and puts a fear of flying into Airborne Ranger B.A.

After eight years of successful missions, CIA Special Activities Division operative Lynch (Patrick Wilson) assigns the team to recover U.S. Treasury plates and a million in cash from an armored Baghdad convoy. Hannibal’s CO General Morrison (Gerald McRaney!) grudgingly allows them to go on the mission while Faces ex-girlfriend Defense Criminal Investigative Service Capt. Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel) is against the mission.

The whole thing is a set-up, as the Black Forest private security troops blow up General Morrison, removing the team’s only alibi for conducting maneuvers in enemy territory. They’re all dishonorably discharged and sent to separate ten-year prison terms.

Of course, Hannibal has a plan. That means working with Lynch again and getting his team back together while Sosa — who was dropped down to Lieutenant as a result of their previous adventure — is in hot pursuit.

There’s plenty of twists, double-crosses, heavy machine gun fire, an escape in a flying tank and so much more here. Original cast members Benedict and Schultz show up as a fellow prisoner and a neurologist. I liked Benedict’s quick role, but he said, “You’ll miss me if you blink. I kind of regret doing it because it’s a non-part. They wanted to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, the original cast are in it,’ but we’re not. It is three seconds. It’s kind of insulting.”

There is one cool part where the science fiction roles of both Benedict and Schultz are referenced in the movie at the psychiatric hospital, as you can see the names Reginald Barclay and G.F. Starbuck listed. Plus, the other actor’s name is Thomas Banacek, who is a nod to the George Peppard detective series.

The movie didn’t make enough for a sequel, but it’s not bad. It helps a lot if you’ve seen the original movie. It kind of lost me by the end, but the opening made me think this was going to be way better than it ended up being.

BASTARD PUPS OF JAWS: Piranha 3D (2010)

Alexandre Aja may have announced his horror career with High Tension, but he’s really been known for his remakes of classic films, like directing The Hills Have Eyes and writing and producing Maniac. Here, he presents a much more satiric take on undersea terror, along with a cast game for pure silliness at times.

It all starts with Richard Dreyfuss playing a fisherman named Matt Boyd, but we all know that it’s Matt Hooper, particularly because he’s listening to the song “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” which he sang with Quint and Brody in Jaws. Dreyfuss did this cameo for a large salary, which he promptly donated to charity. Regardless, he’s only here to get ripped apart by piranha.

Jake Forester is kinda sorta the hero of this whole endeavor, crushing on his old friend Kelly and dealing with her boyfriend and his jerk pals. To make money that summer, Jake is working for porn director Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell), who is looking for spots to shoot his latest film with his star actresses, Danni Arslow and Crystal Shephard (legit porn star Riley Steele), and cameraman Andrew Cunningham (Paul Scheer of the podcast How Did This Get Made?). He leaves his little brother and sister behind and takes his crush Kelly onto the porn boat The Barracuda.

Meanwhile, Jake’s mom Julie (Elisabeth Shue, somehow roped into this gory mess) is searching for the missing Boyd along with Deputy Fallon (Ving Rhames). When they discover his body, they consider closing the lake, but much like every single movie that I’ve ever seen about killer fish, the prospect of tourism dollars keeps everything open despite the danger.

Meanwhile, Julie and a team of seismologists led by Novak (Adam Scott) to discover buried prehistoric lake filled with piranha eggs. They capture one alive — despite big losses — and take it to pet store owner Carl Goodman (Christopher Lloyd!) who was once a marine biologist. He tells them that this species is incredibly aggressive and has already grown cannibalistic.

Our heroes try to warn everyone, but of course, people just want to jet ski and have sex in the water, which means that every single person must be devoured by mini-fish with big teeth. Nearly everyone on The Barracuda is killed before Jake reaches his mother for help. Only Jake, Kelly and the kids survive, using the porn director’s corpse as bait and as is customary, blowing up something real good to kill off the killer fish.

Just when it seems like the coast is clear — literally — Goodman calls to tell them that these are only the babies. Novak wonders where the parents are just in time for one to eat him.

Chuck Russell (The BlobA Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors) was originally slated to direct this and I would have loved to have seen his vision. That said, this is a fun and fast-moving affair. And when it comes to awesome directors, Aja was planning on having the directors of the last two Piranha films, Joe Dante and James Cameron play boat captains, but Cameron was too busy.

WATCH THE SERIES: A Nightmare on Elm Street part three

Where could a Nightmare on Elm Street go after five movies, a TV series and numerous appearances in pop culture? Freddy had gone from a horrifying villain to somehow, the hero of the series. Sure, this had happened to Godzilla and Gamera, but those monsters were always friends of children, not murderers of them.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – 1994

Originally, this film was going to be A Nightmare on Elm Street 7: The Ascension, but Wes Craven had the goal of creating a more intelligent meditation on the effects of horror on those who created it. He also wanted to bring Freddy closer to what he envisioned him as being in the original film, both in look and how he behaves.

Heather Langenkamp, yes played by Heather Langenkamp, played Nancy Thompson in the first and third movies in the Elm Street movies, but now she keeps dreaming that Freddy is coming for her, her husband Chase and her son Dylan (Miko Hughes, Gage from Pet Semetary). She awakens to an earthquake tearing through her house and a prank caller who continually keeps phoning in Freddy’s nursery rhyme.

After a talk show appearance with an in-costume Robert Englund, Heather learns that New Line Cinema wants her to work on a new Elm Street film that her husband has already been doing effects for. And when she arrives home, her son is watching the first film, screaming at her when she tries to turn it off. She calls her husband to help and as he rushes home, he falls asleep at the wheel and is killed by Freddy.

At the funeral, she has another vision of Freddy and John Saxon — you better believe I stood on my couch and cheered — tells her that she needs help. Dylan refuses to sleep and becomes obsessed with Krueger, which leads to her visiting series creator Wes Craven, played by, you knew it, Wes Craven.

Craven explains that Freddy has always been alive, a supernatural creature that attached itself to the films and was freed when Freddy died for the last time in the fifth film (perhaps it was just that he was upset that that one is so bad). Englund knows even more, but soon disappears from all contact.

After an aftershock to the earthquake, Heather takes Dylan to the hospital, where the doctor on call believes that he’s being abused. While police have her under custody, Freddy appears and kills the babysitter much like the first kill in the first film.

Dylan sleepwalks across a crowded freeway with Nancy in pursuit as the film grows more nightmarish — yes, I know that was super literal. After being injured saving him, Heather returns home, only to learn that John Saxon has now become her/Nancy’s father Don Thompson. She decides to embrace her old role and Freddy emerges into reality, taking her son into her world.

Working together, Dylan and Heather/Nancy shove Freddy into an oven — echoing how the parents of Elm Street stopped him in the original story — murdering him. They awake in bed, with a copy of the film’s script close behind. There’s a note from Craven, thanking her for defeating Freddy and playing Nancy one last time. Now, she has jailed the demon into the film’s world all over again. Dylan asks if it’s just a story and Heather says that yes, it has all just been a story. Yet that’s up to debate, as In the ending credits, Freddy Krueger is listed as playing himself.

If the end result is similar to Fulci’s A Cat in the Brain, this was not lost on the Italian godfather of gore (and emperor of eviscerated eyeballs). In his lone U.S. convention appearance (at the January 1996 Fangoria Horror Convention in New York City), Fulci would claim that New Nightmare rips off his film.

This movie was well-received by critics, but where can you go with Freddy Krueger? Simple. You make him battle someone else. 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason would pit the two horror icons against each other and the results were that each would have to reboot afterward. You can read our thoughts on this film from last year’s Friday the 13th Watch the Series post right here.

A Nightmare on Elm Street – 2010

Samuel Bayer directed the Nirvana video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” amongst literally hundreds of other videos and commercials. For his first movie, he was selected to remake the first Elm Street, a task that had to feel herculean.

Produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes team, the goal was to do what they had done for their Friday the 13th remake: take the best parts of each film and make one new story. However, they soon learned that going back to the first film was really the only way to go. They also made Krueger an actual child molester and not a killer, as well as making him meaner, with a look more like an actual burn victim.

Robert Englund endorsed the film (and Jackie Earle Haley playing Freddy), but Craven was not as kind, perhaps because he wasn’t consulted before the movie was made.

Kris Fowles (Katie Cassidy, Black Canary on TV’s Arrow) meets her friend Dean (Kellan Lutz, Twilight) at the Springwood Diner, but soon, Dean is asleep and dreaming of Freddy Krueger, who slices his throat. In our reality, Dean cuts his own throat as waitress Nancy (Rooney Mara, the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, who hated being in this movie so much that she nearly stopped acting) watches.

The children of Elm Street soon learn that they all went to pre-school together, where they were abused by — you guessed it — Freddy Krueger. Now, they’re all dreaming of the burned killing machine. Kris is soon killed by him, with her murder blamed on her ex-boyfriend Jesse (Thomas Dekker, John Connor from the Fox Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show, who called this film a horrible mess). Of course, he’s soon dead in his jail cell.

Quentin (Kyle Gallner, American Sniper) and Nancy begin investigating and soon learn that once the parents of Elm Street learned that Krueger was molesting their children, they hunted him down and burned him alive. What follows is pretty much the same tale as the original, with Freddy being pulled into our world and a similar shock twist ending.

I really have no idea who this movie is for. You can just go watch the original to see a much better, more imaginative film. Bayer has a great visual style — he came up in directing with Bay and David Fincher — but between the CGI makeup for Freddy, the portrayal of him and the general been there, done that nature of this film, I was bored throughout. Then again, I realize that millennials don’t have as many DVDs as me or any interest in watching a movie from the early 80’s.

Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller has been quoted as saying that while the film was a financial success, the backlash didn’t stop for two years. The company wouldn’t make another movie until 2013’s The Purge and hasn’t remade a horror movie since.

While a talented actor, I just don’t like Haley in the Freddy role. Maybe its because he has referred to the original as, “The worst movie ever.” Or perhaps that’s just sour grape, as there’s a rumor that Johnny Depp tagged along when Haley auditioned for the original and got the part while his friend didn’t.

Want more Elm Street?

2011’s I Am Nancy explores Heather Langenkamp’s feelings about starring in the films and her role in the series.

https://vimeo.com/239374398

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street will be out later this year and is all about Mark Patton’s journey in Hollywood after making the second Elm Street. It looks really interesting and you can find the official site here.

Nightmares in the Makeup Chair is another upcoming film that is all about the process that it took to transform Robert Englund into Freddy every single day of filming. You can learn more here.

Beyond the Marvel comics we covered, Freddy has also appeared in comics from Innovation Comics, Trident Comics, Avatar Press and WildStorm Comics. There was also a crossover comic with Dynamite Entertainment that was all about Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, which puts a dream movie into the hands of eager readers.

If you love Mortal Kombat, good news. You can play as Freddy in the 2011 edition of the game and its Mortal Kombat X mobile game. While he looks like the 2010 version of the character, that’s really Robert Englund providing his voice.

Freddy is also available for the slashertastic game Dead by Daylight (you can also play as Michael Myers, Leatherface and the Pig from Saw), which also came with a playable version of Quentin Smith from the 2010 film.

I almost forgot…Freddy also chased politicians on DC Follies…

He also was on The Goldbergs last week!

Thanks for joining us on our voyage through Elm Street! Do you have a favorite? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!

2018 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 18: The Aldebaran Mystery (2010)

Day 18 of the Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge is Psychotronic Documentaries: The real authority on the occult, ufos, ghost hunters, conspiracy theories etc. They’re all real, accurate and true, right? After a week of documentaries, I had to go deep and find something truly off. And guess what? I succeeded.

This film promises so much. During Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, it states that a cabal of Nazi magicians and technicians discovered the secrets of anti-gravity and space travel from extraterrestrials.

This one hits every point you’d want it to. Hello Tesla! Hello Thule Society! Hello Maria Orsic and her Vrilerinnen, psychic girls who serve the Vril Gesellschaft, with long hair that acts as a cosmic antenna to contact occult beings from beyond our reality. Hello Black Sun! There’s also Germany’s Antarctic colony Neuschwabenland and psychic messages telling all of the Vril Society that no one will remain on this Earth.

But it doesn’t stop there. Flying wings! Flying saucers! Nordic aliens meeting with Eisenhower and Pope Pius XII! Hidden Nazi bases post World War II! Operation Paperclip! Aliens helping Nazi NASA scientists create our space program! There’s so much in this movie that it seems like the serious version of Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America!

Throw in some Roswell, Peter Levenda (who may or may not be the Simon who wrote the 1960’s Simon Necronomicon), Skull and Bones, Freemasons and more for a simmering stew full of saucer sauciness!

But don’t take it from me. Check out James Nichols site for the original essay or watch this via the link above or on Amazon Prime.

PS – Your author used to read old BBS message boards in the pre-internet phone based modem days on a Commodore 64. I was reading the Krill Papers that would eventually find their way into the book Behold a Pale Horse and there was a whole FOR YOUR EYES ONLY warning about how aliens killed Kennedy and showed our government a hologram of the Crucifixion, claiming they orchestrated the entire thing. It was at this time that my computer crashed and I became convinced — perhaps under the influence of a bottle of Jack Daniels and two Snapple Ice Teas that made for a horrifying mixed drink — that frogmen and Men in Black were coming for me, so I woke up our entire house in an abject panic. Ah, youth!

DOCUMENTARY WEEK: Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer (2010)

I was 15 years old when R. Budd Dwyer killed himself on live TV. Many stations refused to show the full footage, like KDKA, WPXI in Pittsburgh broadcast the footage uncensored on an early newscast, as they believed that kids wouldn’t be home to see it. That said — there was a snowstorm so many of us were home early. Many kids reacted just like they did to the Challenger crash, with dark humor being the only way to deal with it. I’ve since learned that a study of the incidence of the jokes showed that they were told only in areas where stations showed the uncensored footage.

Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer attempts to tell the story behind the man who killed himself with a .357 Magnum after being implicated in a scandal with Computer Technology Associates (CTA)

The Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dwyer had run as a common man from a small town and throughout this documentary, this fact — and the feeling that he let down his hometown and the people that believed in him — is drummed home.

Everyone has a side to their story in this, including the last interview filmed with his wife before she died and his children. There’s also some incredible scenes William T. Smith, the person whose testimony convicted Dwyer. I wonder how much of the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul character of James Morgan “Jimmy” McGill/Saul Goodman is based on this guy. He really seems to be a real-life Bob Odenkirk character.

This is a balanced documentary that really lets you come to your own conclusion. Sadly, I feel like politics have only gotten worse since Dwyer’s death.

The film also impacted me because Dwyer was often at the center of tape trading in the days before the internet. I’m a big fan of sites like the Found Footage Festival, who recently discussed with David Cross how he started trading tapes. My history of video mix tapes is similar — there was always someone who had a VHS tape at a party that had something you had only heard of. There were things like Pastor Gas, where televangelist Robert Tilton was overdubbed with fart noises. There was always Faces of Death. And there was always grainy footage of R. Budd Dwyer ending his life on live television.

We became desensitized to it. As each progressive generational dub was made, the footage became as hard to see as our morals. There was always a race to find the next crazy thing, to see something we shouldn’t see. At that time, there was just a strange subculture that wanted to own these moments. I’m not saying that everyone wanted to see extreme things. But the majority of mixtapes were often chock full of things like this.

Watching this film, I remembered seeing Dwyer more times than I’d like to think. And the suicide has reverberated throughout pop culture, inspiring songs like Marilyn Manson’s “Get Your Gunn” (complete with a sample of Dwyer’s voice), Kreator’s “Karmic Wheel” and Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot.”

This film made me think about my ethics and about tape trading before the internet blew finding a clip wide open. And most importantly, it made reconsider a man that I’ve always thought was guilty and took the coward’s way out because his back was to the wall. Trust me — it’s not as simple as that.

If you’d like to see this for yourself, check out the official website or watch it on Amazon Prime.

Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

The Arboria Institute was founded in the 1960’s to find the connective tissue between science and spirituality, finally helping humans to achieve perpetual happiness. But as the first numbers appear on the screen, spelling 1983, you know that something has gone very, very wrong.

Now, Arboria’s work is being continued by his disciple, Dr. Barry Nyle. To the outside world, Barry seems like a wonderful fellow. But a bad psychic trip in 1966, Barry hasn’t been quite the same. He is married to a woman who seems like a servant that exists only to praise him. He’s addicted to prescription medicine. And his hair is gone and his eyes have gone black, facts he hides with a wig and contact lenses.

It gets worse. He’s also been keep Elena, Arboria’s daughter, in a prison below the hospital that’s inspired by Lucas’ THX-1138. Her psychic powers — gained by being submerged into a black mass as a baby — have been given to her to accelerate human evolution. As her father says, “You will be the dawning of a new era for the human race… and the human soul. Let the new age of enlightenment begin!” Barry has different plans, isolating her in a room with only a television that suppresses her mental powers.

Day after day of intense interrogations follow as Barry wants to determine how Elena’s powers work. Or perhaps he just wants to have sex with her, as a nurse discovers that his notes are full of strange symbols and a violent need to possess Elena. So the good doctor does what any of us would do. He takes a bunch of psychedelics and manipulates Elena into destroying the nurse. She wanders out of her room but is soon stopped by a creature in a red space suit called a Sentionaut.

Keep in mind that this movie is full of long, drawn out sequences, almost like a shoegaze song come to vibrant visual life. You’re either going to love this movie or hate it — it’s not one for easy watching.

Arboria is now senile as we see a flashback to how Barry failed at his attempt to achieve transcendence and killed Elena’s mother. Her father was completely unfazed by this, only concerned with submerging his daughter into the blackness. As we finish the flashback, Barry murders the doctor. He then shows his wife his true face, trying to explain the pain of his life before murdering her.

Elena finally escapes, meeting a mutant and another Sentionaut who reveals his face to her — he is a child. Barry has decided that he must face Elena and is prepared to destroy her with a ceremonial dagger. As he gets closer to her, he is sure that a group of stoners had sex with her, so he murders them all.

In the final confrontation, he is no match for Elena, who keeps his feet stuck to the ground. Symbolizing his failed leap forward in 1966, he tries to jump forward only to kill himself by hitting a rock. Elena then wanders into a town, following the lights of television.

After the credits, an action figure Sentionaut appears as we hear a voice in reverse speak and the title “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Obviously, that’s a reference to Buckaroo Banzai. This is a movie filled with visuals and longing, as if it’s nostalgic for a future that we only saw in the past. Director Panos Cosmatos is the son of George P. Cosmatos, the director of Rambo: First Blood Part II, Cobra and Leviathan. In fact, this film was financed with the royalties of one of Cosmatos’ biggest films, Tombstone. Panos has stated in interviews that this film was a way of dealing with the deaths of his parents, combining his father’s popcorn sensibilities with his mother’s experimental art.

You can spot the influences in this film from space. The 1966 sequence has the stark high contrast look of E. Elias Merhige’s The Begotten. Kubrick’s ghost hangs on nearly every frame. The director has cited Manhunter as the inspiration for the color choices. And because it was all shot on 35mm, it has a grainy look that recalls the past more than any gleaming future. I also need to call out the Carpenter influenced soundtrack and inclusion of a Venm song, too.

The actual story here is pretty simple. But the way it’s told and the way the movie unfurls is why this stands out. You can play spot the references, you can try and figure out the film’s stance on identity or you can just zone out and enjoy. Or you can hate this movie and think that it’s incredibly self-indulgent. The choice is yours. Obviously, I’m going to watch this a few hundred times to get all I can out of it. You can check it out on Shudder.

Predators (2010)

Produced by Robert Rodriguez (who also came up with the story) and directed by Nimród E. Antal, this is the forgotten film of the Predator franchise. Its title relates to Aliens and it also describes the humans who have come to this alien planet.

Royce (Adrien Brody, cast against type here but awesome in his role; he has even offered to return in sequels) is a mercenary who awakens as he parachutes into an unfamiliar jungle. It’s a great sequence that sets up the non-stop chase that makes up the movie. Soon, he meets other predators: Mexican gang member Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Spetsnaz Russian soldier Nikolai (UFC fight Oleg Taktarov, who was happy to play a rare positive Russian character in an American film), Israeli sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga, The Rite), RUF soldier Mombasa (Mahershala Ali, Moonlight), Yakuza gang member Hanzo, San Quentin death row inmate Stan (Walton Goggins, House of 1000 Corpses) and a doctor named Edwin (Topher Grace from TV’s That 70’s Show), who doesn’t seem to fit. They finally make their way through the jungle to a clearing where they stare up at multiple planets. It’s a jarring scene that reminds us that we are far away from Earth.

It turns out that this planet is a game preserve where the Predators gather game to be hunted. Soon, Cuchillo is killed and used as a trap. Then, they find a captive Predator and three larger hunters, known as the Tracker, Berserker and Falconer. Mombasa is killed and Royce demands to know why Isabelle knew who the aliens were. That’s because she knew Dutch from the original movie and heard his story.

They then meet Noland (Laurence Fishburne), a soldier who has survived for ten seasons. Even though he explains the rules to them, he tries to kill them for their supplies. As they escape, Royce hatches a plan to exploit the feud between the smaller and larger Predators.

As he tries to escapes the fire, the Tracker kills Noland but is taken out by Nikolai’s mines as he sacrifices himself to help the party. Similarly, Stan saves everyone by facing off with the Berserker, but his skull and spine are ripped out. Hanzo is the last to put himself before the group as he and the Falconer duel, with both dying from their wounds.

Royce, Isabelle and Edwin make their way to the camp, but Edwin is injured and Isabelle won’t leave him behind. Royce then frees the smaller Predator and they set the ship’s course for Earth. Unfortunately, the Berserker returns, kills his rival and blows the ship up. It’s revealed why Edwin is there: he was a killer and uses poison he found on the planet to paralyze Isabelle. Royce arrives in the nick of time and saves her.

Our heroes cover Edwin with grenades and then Royce battles the Predator one on one, killing it with an axe just as more parachutes come down from the sky. Soon, more Predators will come, but they will be ready.

I really enjoyed this film, both in the theater and then revisiting it a few weeks ago on blu-ray. It deserves to have more people watch it. Hopefully with the new The Predator movie coming out, this will happen.

LEAGUE OF FORGOTTEN HEROES: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

Based upon Jacques Tardi’s historical based fantasy comic book, Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec, this film takes place in the secret history of our world before the first World War. Today, we’d call the style of Tardi’s comic steampunk, but don’t let that name sway you: this movie is awesome.

Two of Tardi’s stories inspired this movie: Adèle and the Beast and Mummies on Parade, so this film takes place in 1912 Paris.

Luc Besson (La Femme NikitaThe Fifth ElementLéon: The ProfessionalValerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) is one of the foremost creators in the cinéma du look style which Wikipedia claims favors “style over substance, spectacle over narrative.” His visual style dominates everything he creates, including this movie, which is the film that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen should have been.

Let me see if I can sum up the craziness that this piece of cinema contains. Professor Espérandieu (Philippe Nahon, who played the nameless butcher in three Gaspar Noé films, Carne, I Stand Alone and Irréversible) hatches a pterodactyl which ends up killing a politician who is having an affair in a taxicab with a showgirl. The President of France demands that the National Police handle the sightings of the dinosaur, with Inspector Albert Caponi handling the investigation.

We finally meet our heroine, Adèle Blanc-Sec, who works as a travel writer and is on a quest to find the mummified Patmosis, who was the doctor for Pharoah Ramses II. It turns out that she wants to revive the famous physician to save the life of her sister Agathe, who has had a tennis accident. Her arch enemy Professor Dieuleveult (Mathieu Amalric, Quantum of Solace) also wants the mummy, but she defeats him and travels back to Paris.

She needs Professor Espérandieu’s help to revive the mummy, but he’s now on death row as he’s been blamed for the dinosaur attacks. However, big game hunter Justin de Saint-Hubert is trying to kill the flying monster while Andrej Zborowski (Nicolas Giraud, Taken) wants to save it. Just as Espérandieu is to be executed, Adèle and Zborowski tame the pterodactyl and fly it to the rescue.

While enjoying tea with the revived mummy, we learn that he was really a physicist, not a physician, so he is unable to help revive Agathe. However, Saint-Hubert fatally shoots the pterosaur along with Espérandieu.

Adèle and Patmosis go to the Louvre, where they revive all of the mummies, including the Pharoah, who revives Agathe. Deciding that he wants to see Paris, the undead Egyptian leads his entire court into the night.

After all that adventure, Adèle decides to relax on a cruise. But as we see her nemesis with an evil grin, we learn that she’s on the Titanic! What a set up for a sequel, as is the credits scene where Ménard tries to get his revenge on Saint-Hubert.

I really loved this movie. It’s kind of amazing that it got such a limited release in the U.S. because it’s such an imaginative film. It also looks gorgeous, with perfectly integrated effects. Plus, I laughed several times during this and the humor didn’t get in the way of the tale.

This film was intended to be the first of three films, but it’s been a few years since it was made. When asked by Den of Geek in 2016 if there would be a sequel, Besson said, “I would love to, because I love this character Adèle. She’s basically the grandmother of Indiana Jones. But it was in French and it’s difficult in France to do films with a certain kind of budget because it’s just in French. But I hope we can.”

Shout! Factory has released this film in the US on blu-ray and you can also stream it on Tubi TV. I’d definitely recommend you set some time aside and check this really interesting movie out!

CHRISTMAS CINEMA: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

After two well-received web entries, 2003’s Rare Exports Inc. and 2005’s Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions, writer and director Jalmari Helander created this ode to the darker side of Santa Claus.

A British company called Subzero is doing arctic deep drilling when it discovers that a burial mound contains something hidden. Two boys, Juuso and Pietari listen in, then argue the existence of Santa before Pietari goes home to read how Santa is really a horned being who whips bad kids and boils them alive.

The day before Christmas Eve, Pietari’s dad, Rauno, digs a trap to protect his reindeer herd from wolves, who have been driven mad by the explosions and digging. They discover hundreds of dead reindeer, all gnawed to death, but both Pietari and his father are unsure if the wolves are really to blame.

Rauno blames his misfortune on the Subzero company and heads out for retribution. However, he finds no one there, just a deep pit into what looks like Hell. Then, they learn that potatoes, heaters and even a hairdryer have gone missing. Even worse, Jusso jas disappeared, a fact that Pietari discovers has happened to kids all over the village.

Another villager, Piiparinen, finds an old man who is near death, who goes from deceased to able to attack to strong enough to break metal bars. They dress the old man as Santa and inform Subzero’s American boss, Riley. He informs them that they only have an elf and must not behave rudely. One swear word later and the lights, Riley and his pilot have all been killed.

Everyone runs to Hangar 24, where they discover a horned beast trapped in a block of ice being warmed by the stolen heaters. They also see sacks of kidnapped children before they are attacked by the elves.

What follows is a daring rescue and escape, with Santa being blown up real good and Raulo ending up working with Subzero to send the elves to American malls, where they will be seasonal Santas.

Rare Exports could have been a silly parody of a film, but it is shot with dark charm and plenty of verve. It’s a really unique piece of cinema that surprised me at several turns. You can check it out on Shudder or Amazon Prime.