Archive for Tobe Hooper

Body Bags (1993) Review

Posted in Body Bags with tags , , , on September 5, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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BODY BAGS

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Zip Yourself in Tight

Release Date- August 8th, 1993

Running Time- 95-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Billy Brown & Dan Angel

Director- John Carpenter& Tobe Hooper

Starring- Stacy Keach, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Alex Datcher

Body Bags, which aired on Showtime back in 1993 was meant to be a pilot for a new horror series, which would rival Tales from the Crypt, which was a big success on HBO. But a TV series never came to be and instead Body Bags would end up being a TV movie. 13-years after Body Bags, Showtime would find their horror series called Masters of Horror, which ran for two seasons. Body Bags is an anthology with two segments directed by John Carpenter and one directed by Tobe Hooper. I’ve always liked the concept for anthologies, but to be quite honest more often than not I find the films ok with a couple of exceptions and Body Bags is one of the exceptions. Even when I like the stories I sometimes feel as if more time was needed, but here I thought each story ran at the proper length where they didn’t wear out their welcome nor did they feel too short.

Body Bags as mentioned was directed by Carpenter and Hooper and in 1990 Dario Argento and George Romero teamed up for Two Evil Eyes, which like Body Bags was meant to be a TV series and like Body Bags, Two Evil Eyes never became a series. When you team up two popular filmmakers expectations are bound to be quite high and perhaps Body Bags doesn’t fully live up to, but at the end if the day its a solid effort. Starting in 1976 with Assault on Precinct 13, which was John Carpenter’s 2nd feature film he went on one of the greatest runs for a filmmaker in my opinion. From 1976-1988 Carpenter made some truly great films and perhaps films that might a be weaker were at least above average. The only film I didn’t really connect with was Prince of Darkness, which is a film I need to be in the right mood for, but outside if that I thought all the films Carpenter made from 76-88 were great or again the very least above average. The 90s is when many felt Carpenter started a decline, which really isn’t true. While a lot of his work in the 90s may not be personal favorites I enjoyed them for the most part, but I can see why some would dismiss them when compared to his 70s & 80s work. Body Bags in my opinion is one of Carpenter’s best from the 90s maybe even my favorite of his work from that decade. When it comes to Tobe Hooper I’ve never really been a huge fan of his work whereas Carpenter is one of my favorite filmmakers. I loved Texas Chainsaw Massacre and would rate it as the most terrifying film I’ve ever seen. TCM 2 was a solid effort and I quite liked it and to some degree I enjoyed the Funhouse, but it pretty much ends there, oddly enough though Hooper’s segment Eye was my favorite of the three stories.

Before and after each part there is a segment called The Morgue, which features John Carpenter as the Coroner, which is sort of like the Crypt-keeper from Tales from the Crypt. Tobe Hooper and Tom Arnold also appear briefly in the final part of the segment.

The screenplay by Billy Brown & Dan Angel was quite strong and unlike other anthologies I felt each story ran at the perfect time. First up is The Gas Station in which Anne (Datcher) is starting her job at the gas station working the night shift. She comes across a couple of eccentric, but harmless people, but soon finds herself stalked by a psychotic killer. Brown & Angel write a solid story with a couple of mentions of Haddonfield, which of course was the setting for Carpenter’s Halloween. Characters are entertaining and overall its a fun segment.

As director Carpenter crafts a well paced segment with some decent suspense. Don’t expect anything like Halloween, but The Gas Station was highly satisfying.

David Naughton appears in a small role with cameos from Wes Craven and Sam Raimi.

The 2nd story is Hair. This time Brown & Angel write a more campy script and it sort of reminds me of an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Richard (Keach) is losing his hair and is quite depressed about it. He pays a visit to Dr. Lock (David Warner) and Robert’s wish comes true and his begins to grow back, but like the old saying be carful what you wish for. This segment features some fun writing with a nice twist you probably won’t see coming.

John Carpenter crafts a fun segment that’s high on camp value and through its duration he always keeps Hair a lot of fun.

Deborah Harry appears as a nurse and Greg Nicotero has a cameo.

The final segment Eye is the more serious of the segments with Brent Matthews (Hamill) a career minor leaguer on the verge of a call up, but his dreams are ruined after getting into a car accident, which costs him his eye. He ends up going through with an eye transplant, which is a success, but his happiness is short lived as he begins to have horrible visions until he’s on the brink of madness.

Eye I found the best written of all the segments and despite the short running time Brown & Angel get the most out of things and develop the characters well and do a solid job on Brent’s breakdown.

Tobe Hooper makes like I stated my favorite segment in Body Bags. Eye runs at a strong pace and has a nice mysterious and eerie tone going for it.

Charles Napier has a bit part with Twiggy as Cathy Brent’s wife and the legendary Roger Corman appears as Dr. Bregman.

Overall Body Bags is an excellent anthology with three excellent and fun stories. I often wonder how Body Bags would have turned out if it did become a series. Regardless Body Bags is a fun film and comes highly recommended.

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Lifeforce (1985) Review

Posted in Lifeforce with tags , on September 26, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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LIFEFORCE

** Out of 5

Tagline- In the Blink of An Eye, the Terror Begins

Release Date- June 21st, 1985

Running Time- 116-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Dan O’Bannon & Don Jakoby (Novel- The Space Vampires- Colin Wilson)

Director- Tobe Hooper

Starring- Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May and Patrick Stewart

When it comes to the films of Tobe Hooper I’ve never really been a big fan and by no means is he a bad filmmaker, but I was just never into his films and that does include Poltergeist. However with that said the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a masterpiece of filmmaking and the most terrifying film I have ever seen. I also very much enjoyed Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but outside of those two films and to a lesser degree the Funhouse I’m just not a big fan of Hooper. Lifeforce, which was released in 1985 is no different from many of Hooper’s other films that I’ve seen. I knew of the film, but never saw it until the blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released by Shout Factory. Lifeforce is a film I really wanted to like and as a fan of Cannon Films I hoped I would enjoy this much like how I did with Hooper’s two Chainsaw films and even the Funhouse (which I liked but didn’t love). But while Lifeforce had the potential, I was for the good portion kinda bored. I saw the 116-minute cut and one day I’ll have to give the 101-minute version a shot, but in the end Lifeforce was a film I really wanted to like, but often found myself zoning out.

Going into Lifeforce I wasn’t expecting it to be on the level of Texas Chainsaw nor was I expecting a good film in the traditional sense. I went into Lifeforce expecting something along the lines of Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, which deals with aliens and zombies with a plot all over the place. Lifeforce has alien vampires and the final act has people turning into zombies, but where Plan 9 from Outer Space succeeds in being a really entertaining film, Lifeforce was just a boring film. Over the years Lifeforce has gained a cult following and I easily understand why, but again I just found this film dull and lifeless and for me it was quite difficult to get through.

The screenplay was written by Dan O’Bannon & Don Jakoby. O’Bannon wrote the story for Alien and wrote Total Recall, Invaders from Mars (with Jakoby and directed by Hooper) and of course he’s best known for being the writer/director on Return of the Living Dead. Jakoby has also done some solid work including writing John Carpenter’s Vampires, Death Wish 3 (under the name Michael Edmonds) and a story credit on Acrophobia. However here with Lifeforce I found the script by O’Bannon & Jakoby rather dull with rather boring characters. The plot is all over the place sort of like Plan 9, but its never as fun. O’Bannon & Jakoby have done some solid work, but in my opinion Lifeforce isn’t one of them.

Director Tobe Hooper delivers in my opinion a film that’s poorly paced and lacks excitement. Lifeforce had the potential to be a really fun film, but I was just sort of bored. While not poorly made Lifeforce for me at least was rather dull and Tobe Hooper never manages to get very much out of any of the scenes and its just a poorly paced borefest.

Overall I fully get the appeal of Lifeforce and I really wanted to like it but I found the fun level quite low and I was never really into the film. At 116-minutes Lifeforce was overly long and dull and who knows perhaps on another viewing I’ll warm up to it, but based on my first viewing Lifeforce did nothing for me. Again I get the appeal, but I just couldn’t get into this.

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10 Movies to watch for Halloween Night

Posted in 10 Movies to Watch for Halloween Night with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

This isn’t a top 10 all-time favorite list. It’s only a list for films I feel would make great Halloween night viewing. Also this isn’t in order either.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) Review

Posted in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2

**** Out of 5

Tagline- After a Decade of Silence The Buzz Is Back!

Release Date- August 22nd, 1986

Running Time- 101-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- L.M. Kit Carson

Director- Tobe Hooper

Starring- Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson

Released in 1986 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has drawn mixed reviews from the viewers; some actually rate this higher than the original, which is something I disagree with and others rate it as a terrible flick, which is also something I disagree with. TCM 2 for me in no way can compare with the original, but in its own right it’s still a good flick and I’d actually rate this higher than most of the Halloween and Friday the 13th sequels and all of the Elm St. sequels except New Nightmare. Quite honestly I think this series is a little underrated and a lot of that has to do with how brilliant the original was, but in regards to TCM 2 I personally find this to be an excellent movie and truly does deserve more credit than it often gets. Every franchise has that one film that splits the viewers while others are either well received or generally looked down upon and TCM 2 is one of those sequels that seems to be loved or hated.

If you go into this movie expecting anything like the original you’ll probably be letdown. For me the original TCM is the most terrifying movie I’ve ever seen and while there was some comedy it was funny, but also really creepy since the villains were so insane, but TCM 2 is very much a dark comedy and there aren’t many scenes that play for suspense or scares like the original. Though there is one great jump scare when Leatherface first appears at the radio station. If anything you can almost view TCM 2 as sort of a satire of the original in some spots, since it has some scenes that are alike, but here they are played out in a really over the top manner.

Radio show host Stretch finds herself under attack by Leatherface (Johnson) and his family, while Lefty Enwright (Hopper) a Texas Ranger hunts the family down for revenge for Franklin and Sally from the original film who were his nephew and niece.

The screenplay L.M. Kit Carson is overall mostly solid with some really interesting characters, which is something that often lacks in the horror genre and even more so in sequels. Lefty is in his own right a bit insane as he’s obsessed with killing Leatherface and his family; by no means is Lefty the typical hero as he even uses Stretch as bait even if it means she gets killed in the process. Lefty is likable, but in no way the typical hero we see countless time and this is just one of the reasons TCM 2 worked so well for me. The characters here are highly memorable and each add a little something to the movie.

Rather than focus on the horror aspect, Carson options to add a lot more comedy and writes a really crazy and over the top screenplay. Carson retains elements of the original, but also takes some of those elements and sort of turns it into a satire. The original film the intentions were to make a black comedy and while those elements are on display, but in the end its far more scary than funny and with TCM 2, Carson delivers an excellent satire of the original. The fact the script does something a bit different than the original could have been a huge failure and depending who you ask it could be seen as a failure, but for me it works greatly. This time around while the villains are still insane, but they are a lot sillier and whereas the original they were funny in a really creepy way here they are still creepy to a certain degree, but they are too over the top to inject too much fear and that even goes for Leatherface who is just as silly as he is insane. Leatherface even gets a crush on the heroine Stretch and while this might sound a little stupid it works in contrast of the movie. Overall L.M. Kit Carson writes a terrific satire filled with terrific characters.

Tobe Hooper returns as director and crafts an entertaining if not flawed film; to be honest outside of the Chainsaw flicks I’m not really the biggest Hooper fan, but he did in my opinion make the scariest flick I’ve seen with TCM, but this time he seems to have little interest in creating any suspense or scares, which might turn off some viewers, but I think in the end was the right idea since I don’t think he could have matched the brilliance of the original. The easy thing to do from a writing standpoint and directing is to simply rehash the original film, which is what most sequels end up doing, but again there was just no way this could match the brilliance of the original since its one of those rare movies that works of every level.

There really are only a couple of scenes where Hooper might try to scare the audience, but for the most part Hooper focuses more on creating an just a fun and entertaining movie with plenty of comedic bits. For the most part everything Hooper attempts works well, but there are some parts where the movie does slightly drag, which could have been fixed with some editing since the 101-Minute running time is a little overly long. But with that said even if some scenes slightly drag Tobe Hooper is still able to maintain a fun pace. Like the original Tobe Hooper sets a tone early on for the movie only this time a more campy tone. The fact Hooper aims to make a more over the top flick rather than a scary flick will no doubt draw mixed reactions, but again I think Hooper did the right thing since I don’t think he could have made a sequel scarier than the original and the one thing I hate about sequels are when they are a rehash of the original; for better or worse, Hooper makes an original sequel that takes elements of the original and takes them to a whole different style.

The performances were highly entertaining with Stretch played by Caroline Williams being one of my favorite heroines; she’s smart, sexy and funny and Caroline Williams does an excellent job. Jim Siedow returns as the Cook and he also gets a name, Drayton; Siedow is once again over the top, but this time he isn’t as creepy, but he’s hysterical in a truly great performance.

Bill Johnson takes over the role of Leatherface who was played by Gunnar Hansen in the original and the character of Leatherface is almost an entirely different character. Hansen’s Leatherface was just insane and almost childlike, but extremely dangerous and violent. Johnson’s Leatherface is a lot more animated in his movements and like I said comes across as just as much silly as insane if anything he’s almost like a rebellious teenager. Johnson and Hansen couldn’t be any more different so I really don’t wanna compare the two performances since it wouldn’t be fair since both play the part so differently. However with that said I highly enjoyed Bill Johnson in the role and even though he doesn’t speak he does have a bit more personality with his movements and eye movements and while nobody could ever top Gunnar, Bill Johnson makes the role his own and does an excellent job.

As Lefty Enright, this isn’t the best role the late Dennis Hopper played, but I gotta admit this is my favorite movie he did. TCM 2 may not have the acclaim that other movies Dennis Hopper made, but I would still rate this is my favorite movie he did. Through most of the movie Hopper plays it straight, but as the movie goes on he gets to get a little over the top and Hopper really makes Lefty such a memorable character.

But the real star of the show is Bill Moseley; for many years Moseley was appearing in many horror films sometimes with a big role and sometimes a limited role, but it wasn’t until 2003 with Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and the 2005 sequel The Devil’s Rejects that he really got noticed. As Chop Top, Moseley built a cult following, but never really got his due. As enjoyable as the movie is it got even better when Moseley entered the movie and Chop Top is just freaking insane and while he is creepy he’s far too funny and even likable to create too much fear. The one thing that’s clear is Bill Moseley clearly was having a good time and this shines on screen with easily one of my all-time favorite performances in a horror movie.

Overall every series has that one or two installments that will split viewers and TCM 2 is one of those sequels and while I can get why some people would look down upon this one after the brilliant original, but TCM 2 in my opinion is an excellent sequel and like I stated earlier in the review I find this better than most Halloween, Friday the 13th and Elm St. sequels. If you go in expecting a straight up horror flick you might be letdown, but go in expecting a semi-scary movie that is more of a satire of the original you might find yourself loving the movie as much as I do.

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