In bed, I sometimes flip through the movie channels looking for the odd flick or two or three that’ll kindly usher me into dreamland. The movie offerings can get pretty stagnant – I can usually count on Blade: Trinity playing on at least one channel, for example. And, for some reason, Screamers, starring the great Peter Weller, is on constant rotation. Sometimes, however, you hit gold. And, sometimes, Ulee’s Gold is on. This column will serve as a repository for some of the more interesting pieces of movies that I’ve seen late at night. This is something I started doing on the great, expansive CHUD message boards. You can check out where it all began right here.
10th & Wolf (2006): When I saw this displayed on the channel guide, I was hoping for a low budget werewolf movie along the lines of the Eric Roberts flick Werewolves of Wall Street. But, alas, it was just a gangster movie starring Superman’s romantic rival James Marsden and the ubiquitous Giovanni Ribisi. Confession: I actually like seeing Marsden show up in stuff. I think he’s always fairly solid. I was sad to see his molecules scattered and tattered by Dark Phoenix in X3, I pulled for him not to get Stepford-wived in Disturbing Behavior, and I was pretty disappointed that the CW decided to pass on his show Veronica Marsden. Anyway, spoilers for 10th and Wolf to sadly follow. So, if you are planning on seeing this one, just stay clear of the next few paragraphs. But, before you go, let me give you a really quick snapshot review of the flick: This thrill ride is really in10th.
I happened upon this movie really late into its runtime. According to the IMDB, I missed seeing the likes of Val Kilmer, Dennis Hooper, Leo Rossi (!), the ever cute Piper Perabo, and, no joke, Motley Crue’s asshole drummer Tommy Lee. What I did see was a series of events that would befuddle most movie moviegoers, I imagine. Bad guys call up Ribisi and torture his pal (Brad Renfro, I think – I mistook him for Johnny Lee Miller while watching) while he listens. This does not sit well with the duo of Marden/Ribisi and they decide to storm Bad Guy Manor. Within its walls, they split up so they can cover more of the well-decorated mansion’s square footage. Order and description of befuddling events: 1) Ribisi enters a spacious room and is shot in the back by a women. He shoots her and limps away in pain. 2) Marsden finds the dead Renfro, kneels down to mourn…and *BLAM* is plugged in the back by a baddie. The injured Marsden wheels around and shoots the backshooter dead. Two non-fatal back wounds that are immediately revenged? Surely writer/director/chiropractor Robert Moresco can’t possibly go for the non-fatal back wound trifecta, can he? 3) Ribisi, distracted by a painting of a man getting stabbed, gets knifed in the back by another evildoer. And, by the pained, hollow look on Ribisi’s face, things seem pretty final this time around.
Ribisi, bleeding out, falls to the ground with said knife-wielder and produces, from a pocket of his gangster slacks, a grenade. After letting out a pretty impressive death bellow, “Mississippi” Ribisi (just wanted to get even more “i”s in his name) blows himself and the backstabber up, Gorman and Vasquez style.
Anyway, I fell asleep before the very end, so I canï¿½t tell you if the cast was listed in the order of back damage. And, if so, if Ribisi was double-billed.
When a Stranger Calls (2006): Tagline: Evil Hits Home. Alternate MLB tagline: Evil Hits Home. Run! This is a remake of the Carol Kane babysitter nightmare flick from the late 70’s. Well, it’s a remake of the beginning of that movie stretched into a full-length feature! This time around, Con Air director Simon West is calling the shots. And, as usual, he phones it in. Let me see if I can squeeze another phone dis in. I wonder if he’ll fuck up his TXT project too. OK. I shouldn’t have pressed my luck.
Since the original movie came out in 1979, the script called for some updating. Cell phones are highlighted but, oddly, proven useless at every tired turn. For example, the babysitter (played by Brooke Shields’ eyebrow twin Camilla Belle) has her cell phone privileges taken away at the beginning of the film. Seems she went way over the minutes on the family cellular plan. Her father, played by the inconsistently great Clark Gregg, does not tolerate such flagrant teenage phone usage. And why should he? He’s trying to instill some responsibility into his teenage daughter, you know? That’s also why she’s stuck babysitting on the very night that a big high school celebration is being held. Anyone who is anyone is going to be there. Dads can be so cruel. Later, when the creepy babysitter killer starts calling the house and breathing heavily and saying weird, scary things, she can’t reach her friends because their cell phones get bad reception at the celebration spot. Her Dad’s mobile isn’t even on when she tries to reach him! Anyway, I think it was a mistake by the writers to cavalierly do away with cell phones. I say, why not embrace the post-1979 advancements in phone evolution? Or even kick it up a rung on the communication tech ladder, and make When a Stranger IMs (2006):
Anyway, I watched this entire thing, which is now a sad fact in my life. This was no piece of movie I glanced at, folks. I saw the whole Belle of wax. It did remind me that I had been boot-shaken by When a Stranger Calls Back (starring horror mainstay Jill Schoelen) when I saw it a number of years ago. This one = eh. Scar-faced Tommy Flanagan (Braveheart, Sin City) plays the stranger and it’s always good to see him getting work – even if he’s just the sound of breathing and a silhouette for most of the movie. My advice: Better to just skip this bloodless, scare-free affair altogether. Unless, I guess, you’re feeling sinister and are a Belle & Flanagan completest.
Bikini Chain Gang (2005): Directed by the prolific (to say the least) Fred Olen Ray. Now, I’m not exactly sure why the four ladies in the chain gang were imprisoned in the first place, but it did look like they were working in a hot climate, so I can forgive the prison blues/bikini swap. However, when the two guards overseeing the chain gang pop into the van for a little softcore bumping ‘n grinding, it stretches creditability just a tiny bit. These are hardened criminals! They can’t be trusted to just hoe the dirt in the middle of nowhere unsupervised! Anklecuffs certainly aren’t going to deter these conchicks from making a break for it. But, the guards put the gals on the honor system while they have at each other. I didn’t watch much of this one, but it did have one scene that stuck out. Two of the chained girls stumble their way to an abandoned stable to hide out. One of the guards tracks the hot escapees to the location, and then the tracker does something really bizarre – he kneels down beside a pile of horse dung outside of the stable and then kind of nods to himself like he’s thinking, “Of course! They must be in this abandoned stable because of this mound of evidence.” Is Fred Olen Ray really suggesting that these are chain gang bikini droppings? These pretty gals will remove their skimpy clothing for any reason. Plus, they poop in huge, horse-like piles. Softcore film fans: start your erections! I didn’t watch long enough to see if some poor soul steps in the chain gang droppings. But if expectations are defied and no character shit-slides through that fecal pile, count me in as a Fred Olen Ray fan 4life. Who am I kidding? I already love.
So, that’s that. I don’t know what I will write up for the next installment, but She’s the Man has been on a lot lately -proof that Vinnie Jones will take any gig. And I did watch the end of Screamers the other night. Jennifer Rubin vs. Jennifer Rubin for the climatic battle.
Just how Philip K. Dick would have wanted it.