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Thunder in Paradise (1994)
Unintentionally funny... the runt of the litter!
1994 saw a variety of original, inspired and entertaining television programmes coming to air, such as Margaret Cho's shortlived but acclaimed "All-American Girl", Australia's popular "Blue Heelers" and "Heartbreak High", cult sci-fi series "Babylon 5", medical drama "E.R.", shortlived prime-time drama "Models Inc" and of course the sitcom "Friends". However, with all things good, there must be at least one bad! 1994 also saw the introduction of quite a few barrel-rotting apples but thankfully in most cases their respective networks killed them off before any serious damage was caused.
I'm talking about Thunder in Paradise here. A show with horrible production values, cheesy music of a vomitus nature, unintentionally funny dialogue, and to top it off Hulk Hogan.
Seven years after it's US debut, THUNDER IN PARADISE made it's premiere in Australia last night at 2:30 am with the two-part pilot episode. For some strange reason I lasted the whole two-hours, laughing at the ridiculous submarine, the trashy actors, the corny one-liners and misadventures of Hogan's characters.
In the first part Hulk and his partner save two people from a Cuban village via the use of a remote controlled jet-ski. Hilarious, but not as funny as the happy (and somewhat constipated) expression on the faces of these poor escapees when they're supposed to be afraid. Part 2 concerns Hulk getting married (yes, the show is unrealistic if you hadn't figured it out yet). Robin Weisman (whom you may recognize as the "little lady" from Three Men and a Little Lady) stars in this episode as Hogan's stepdaughter. There was one scene where Hogan kills a shark and makes sick jokes about it to her (using it like a puppet and saying things that could seriously inspire years of nightmares). I don't find anything funny about finding a license plate inside the stomach of a shark and making sick jokes about it (Hogan: "Must've been a small car! HAHA"). The pilot hits it's ultimate low when Hogan finds a valuable necklace inside the shark and places it around his stepdaughter's neck (without washing it or anything). Then we meet some goofy jewel thieves who are after the necklace. There's a ridiculous kidnapping, funny scene involving Hogan climbing a palm tree and of course true love. So very cheesy. Carol Alt (Amazon) also co-stars as a scantily-clad female bartender. She can certainly do better than this.
So far I've only seen the first two episodes of this clunker and I'm ashamed to say I probably will tune into the rest if they air. Thunder in Paradise is another one of those guilty pleasures taken away in the prime of it's youth to prevent serious damage (especially to the actor's careers).
Down to You (2000)
Entertaining romantic comedy, but is doesn't stick!
"Down to You" was slammed by critics when it was released, claiming it to be unoriginal, unfunny and really a waste of time. Pay no attention to them. It is rare for romantic comedies to be entirely original [they are after all dealing with love], but Down to You does have it's moments differing it from most of the recently released teen comedies [to which it has constantly been compared].
Through narration by both protagonists the audience is able to see the development of both characters in the long-term and how they ultimately react to each other. Freddie Prinze Jr and Julia Stiles were perfectly cast and behaved as mature young adults for the majority of the film [sparing the audience from cliched teen talk]. They leave the zaniness to their co-stars, which was a good move. The film is more of a "love story" then most recent teen flicks dealing mainly with "physical attraction" or "opposites attract".
One problem with Down to You however is it's not presented well enough to keep the audience interested. Perhaps in the hands of a more capable director this would be achieved, as I got a bit bored with a few of the scenes and some jokes really fall flat. Because of this, it's not as memorable as other teen flicks such as "10 Things" or "Scream", even.. as it's pacing is quite slow. It's saving grace is the cast. Henry Winkler gives a comic performance as Prinze's celebrity-chef father and Zak Orth plays Prinze's "friend turned porn- star-friend" with gutso. Selma Blair gave a sultry performance but lacked development making her nothing more than "the porn star girl".
Compared to the other three major teen romance flicks of the year (Loser, Whatever it Takes, Boys and Girls) Down to You is indeed one of the finest. It just needed more "oomph" to make it more memorable.
True Crime (1999)
Effective Thriller supported by great cast
Clint Eastwood has still got it after all these years, and True Crime is proof. This effective thriller follows journalist Steve Everett in his hunt to free a man from execution. It is Eastwood's directorial flair that soars the film from a mediocre thriller into a highly original, sensational Oscar-worthy vehicle. The rest of the cast are also of top standard with Isaiah Washington playing the accused and Lisa Gay Hamilton as his distraught wife. Both co-stars give sensational, gripping performances and are indeed the film's highpoint (even shadowing Eastwood). James Woods also soars as Everett's strict yet sleasy employer. Penny Bae Bridges & Francesca Ruth Eastwood also give breakthrough performances as the daughters of Eastwood & Washington respectively. The extremely tense finale keeps audiences on the end of their seats impatient for the truth to revealed. Overall an extremely well-paced, gripping thriller guaranteed to intrigue audiences. 9/10
Desperate But Not Serious (2000)
Hilarious Damsels-in-Distress Comedy!
In the grand tradition of Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, A Night at the Roxbury, Mystery Date and Adventures in Babysitting comes the latest zany night-on-the-town "where everything goes wrong" comedy, Desperate but Not Serious.
Set entirely in Los Angeles, we meet wild-party girl Francis and her sweet but naive friend Lily whose evening backfires (they misplace the invitation to an important wedding party, they're stalked by a psychotic bartender and they crash their car, among other situations)
Performances here are exceptional. Paget Brewster (who looks a lot like Parker Posey) exudes talent, beauty and charisma. I loved how she growled at the airport ticket agent and her whole airhead self-indulgent attitude. Christine Taylor in the role of Lily is great. She's funny [especially when saying the wrong things] and effective in raising empathy at times from the audience. John Corbett was fine as Lily's significant other, but suffered from lack of character development and screen-time. Supporting roles including Musician Henry Rollins as a menacing bartender, Joey Lawrence as a dim-witted celebrity, Max Perlich as a sleazy womaniser and Judy Greer as a bitchy "executive assistant" are nothing short of perfect. The "L.A. artificiality" of these characters is hilarious and adds to the plot well. Finally Claudia Schiffer rounds out the top cast as Gigi, a wild musician and college student who "majors in everything". Gigi acts as a Greek Chorus somewhat, dictating much of the action before it happens, before transforming into a guiding spirit of some sort. Some of her lines sound a bit flat (as though she's trying to speak in a bubbly accent), but she shows promise.
Desperate but Not Serious is a fabulous independent movie and deserves a wider audience. It's not to be taken seriously, instead with an "open mind". Relax, pour yourself a drink, Kick your feet up and enjoy Desperate but Not Serious, one of the best overlooked films of 1999/2000.
The Dream with Roy & H.G. (2000)
New Zealand Medal Tally -- "0"
If any Aussie hadn't heard of this delightful satirical narrative of the Sydney 2000 Olympic games he or she has obviously been living in a shell secluded away from the real world that was for that time, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Roy and HG observed, analysed and made fun of the Olympic games in more ways that one. Noone will forget their hilarious remarks regarding the distressed facial expressions of gymnast Svetlana. Or their continual reminder of New Zealands medal tally ("0"). Haha - not to mention their delightful coverage of the weightlifter who dropped the weights on her head. And I agree - What's the use selling an Olympic Umbrella if you can't take the "bloody things" into the stadium.
I agree with the other commenter - it was the best show on aussie TV for those weeks. It's a shame they couldn't cover the Paralympics - but then again, that might be a tad in bad taste.
Here's to hoping they cover Athens 2004,
Welcome to Woop Woop (1997)
Hilarious, if-flawed, Australian comedy!
"Welcome to Woop Woop" takes Australian cliches to the extreme. When con-artist Teddy escapes to the Australian outback, he finds himself drugged, unconsciously married and trapped in "Woop Woop" an outback town inhabited by zany hooligans.
I enjoyed it. Initially, I didn't want to rent it after reading several negative reviews, but I'm glad I finally did proving that critics are often wrong.
There's one scene which I won't spoil that hit the film's high-point, and let's just say I will never look at the Sound of Music again, or at least Mother Abbess.
The soundtrack was fantastic (especially the "Climb Every Mountain" remix) and the cast were great. Johnathon Schaech and Dee Smart gave nice performances, but the show stealers were arguably Rod Taylor and Susie Porter. Both reigned with charisma and succeeded in entertaining and disgusting audiences with their amazingly repulsive father/daughter performance . Paul Mercurio also makes a humorous cameo reiterating one of the stricter rules of "Woop Woop" ~ "Nobody leaves".
Although some scenes caused me to wince, such as the Woop Woop abbatoir scenes and a funny, yet disturbing incestual relationship, I suggest you check it out.
Welcome to Woop Woop is a brilliant satire of Australian culture.
Bold Satire with a killer performance by Hunter
"Positively true Adventures..." takes a bold look into the life of an obsessive stage mother thus making it a successful satire. Holly Hunter gives a killer performance and is arguably one of the greatest female actors around today (see The Piano, Copycat and A Life less Ordinary for evidence). It's a shame this had to be a telemovie as a cinematic release would've guaranteed Holly an Oscar nom, but ah well.
Beau Bridges and Swoosie Kurts also give fantastic performances rounding out the talented cast.
Much like 1999's Drop Dead Gorgeous, this film is black to the point of extreme ebony and should appeal to most, but if you're into frigid sugar-coated films, I suggest you steer clear.
Maslin Beach (1997)
Scary.. Yes Scary!! Jam-packed with nudity (from fat people to skinny people), Maslin Beach takes place on a nudist beach in S.A.
I first saw this film two years ago - it's safe to say it made a bizarre topic of discussion at school the next day. This film was horrible! Hardly a romantic comedy - just a showcase of nudity! This movie hit its lowpoint with one of the new-age characters staring down between a girls legs.
Girl: You're not going to find God in there! Guy: Nah, But I think I found heaven.
Steer clear of this one, unless you want to hear amateur actors discuss topics such as farting, adultery and the process of superlguing one's genitals together. AVOID!
The best TV game show!
I used to watch "Cluedo" when I was nine years old, and being a fan of the board game, computer game and movie (starring Tim Curry & Lesley-Ann Warren) I was hooked.
Of course I was saddened when the TV show was rushed into cancellation. The quirky Ian McFadyen presented the show with great charisma and energy (reminiscent of his comedy company days). With a great all-star cast (Andrew Daddo, Joy Westmore and V's Jane Badler) and a string of Aussie veteran guest stars, Cluedo was cancelled too soon.
Please rerun this series, it was so clever, quirky and mysterious. I particularly enjoyed the episode involving Colonel Mustard and "the scarf", not to mention the strange one involving a "grounding glass" (ouch). I haven't seen the US version (which is/was probably good too), but please "Bring it back!"
Big and Hairy (1998)
In the grand tradition of Harry & the Hendersons and Air Bud, comes Big and Hairy, soon to be seen in an afternoon slot on a cable station near you. Much like Tammy & the T-Rex/Paper Brigade, B&H is one of those guilty pleasures you pop in the VCR when mama and papa bear are out getting plastered at the local pub.
Even though the lead characters name is Picasso, and some of the actors obviously skipped a few too many lessons, it's a good film for the young'uns. One particular casting flaw, however is in the form of Chilton Crane (who?) as Picasso's mom. She talks as though she's in a soap opera, walks like she has a pole lodged up her butt and makes really perplexed faces (note the scene where the family can 'hear something fishy'). She hit the films lowpoint, I just wish she'd hit herself. The BigFoot is pretty cool though, not as cheap as I'd expected. Underrated little gem, nice to see it received a DVD release.
House Gang (1996)
Landmark of Australian Television
Although the storylines are quite unfunny and cheesy, House Gang is memorable for it's casting of actors with disabilities (Downs Syndrome to be precise). It was very pleasing to see young Tracie Sammut return to television after consecutive success on the critically acclaimed series, "G.P.". Newcomers, Ruth Cromer and Saxon Graham round out the great cast.
The show originally evolved around a small independent halfway house/safe haven for folks with disabilities (Trev, Belinda and Robert) for a lesbian biker. The place is turned upside down when broke landlord (with a bad rep with the interns) Mike and bratty daughter Chloe show up, demanding refuge. The first season dealt with issues such as friendship, relationship problems and alcohol abuse. The second season marked the departure of Jack, and arrival of neighbour Julie and Donna (friend of Belinda). Relationships between Donna & Trev, Mike & Julie evolved and the series ended on quite a highpoint.
The performances were fantastic, especially from Downs Syndrome affected stars Tracie Sammut, Ruth Cromer and Saxon Graham. It was nice to see that the writers treated them like normal, everyday people of society (as is expected) and didn't use their disabilities for cheap laughs or use them against the characters.
SBS never aired any more episodes however. This is most likely due to the low ratings (being on the same time as South Park), and the BADDDD writing. But, it will be remembered.
Season 1 episodes are still available for order on VHS, I believe.
Sweet Lies (1987)
Bland, but symbolic of my appreciation for obscure films!
No way was I going to stay up late to watch The Witching Hour, so I inserted a new 3 hour cassette (for the 30 minute feature), pressed record on the VCR and dozed off... The next day, I watched it, liked it.. but being the couch potato I am, there's no way I was going to reach for the remote, so I left the tape running.. discovering Sweet Lies.
I found it quite interesting. Plot sounds lame, insurance investigator stalking this fraud guy, gets in a love triangle with two french women.. pfft. Yet I found myself laughing at some of the most unfunny scenes in cinematic history ~ (Joelle glueing her foot to the floor, the fraud's prune of a wife attacking him with a golf club, the fraud's french lover who lets strangers into her house, the french grandma who likes to sit on park benches in her dressing gown at night, etc..) Treat Williams was a bit wooden, but the leading ladies performed quite nicely. I esp. liked the character of Lisa (played by Mary-Louise Parker lookalike Laura Manszky), she was quite funny, cool French accent. Is she actually French?
Ignoring a few characters like that boxer Mersault & Dixie's pigheaded brother Claude (who needs to learn how to act NOW!), will help you enjoy it a little bit more. Set in Paris, it seems as though it was filmed in a different French city, although I could be wrong.
Since viewing Sweet Lies, I've grown a higher respect for the obscure/independent movie industry and plan to devote more time to these than to the box-office successes. I guess that means I'm off to the Dendy Independent Film cinemas at Newtown, I'll have to tolerate the urine smell.
Thanks, Sweet Lies!! 6/10
Senior Week (1987)
I hope I've got the right movie here....
Senior Week was on here late night around two years ago and it's all coming back to me. It's another one of those horny teenager films of the 80s in the grand tradition of Porkys and Screwballs. I can't remember much except for these dudes going away for the weekend and one of them has some English essay to write. What they hoped would be a weekend of sun and fun gets interrupted with the arrival of the English teacher fish-hag woman herself. I don't know why she bothered going there, but I do recall some inane scene involving a ketchup fight between her and the proprietors of the local milk bar. I pray this is the right movie.
If it's at the video store, check it out.. pretty much a horny teen film with some weird sexual fantasy scenes - Was that shaving cream or whipped cream?
Mr. Wrong (1996)
Rent it, Tape over it, Return it!
Poor Ellen. She's finally getting some respect in Hollywood with excellent performances in such films as edTV, The Love Letter, etc, yet has to deal with having starred in this flop.
Talent such as herself, Bill Pullman, Joan Cusack, Dean Stockwell, Ellen Cleghorne, and the sensational Joan Plowright is wasted in this turkey.
I must admit however that it did start off promising - the typical single woman living in the shadow of recently married sister, meets nice guy, blah blah blah.. but went totally downhill soon afterwards. What caused Whitman (Pullman) to be such a hyperactive fool? And Joan Cusack and her feeb slave Bob? I love Joan, she's had some great roles (hence the 2 oscar noms) but not even her charismatic prowess can save this hairball. She has to deal with a brainless character who cuts couches and puts gum in Ellen's hair! Sheesh - and the Mexican kids?? Well, I laughed at that scene.. I found it to be quite racist also mind you.
Unfunny, unoriginal and uninspired right up to the end wedding where Ellen is in rollerblades or something and Joan is sporting a rifle. Spare me the hyperbole and give me my ninety minutes back.
Carnival of Souls (1998)
Horror or Drama?
Carnival of Souls starts off promising, but goes downhill awfully too soon. Yes, we know Alex is haunted by memories of her mother's death and lives in fear that the killer is coming after her, but will you get on with the film already?
I really wanted to like this film, but there were too many lost plots, irrelevant characters and it's slow pacing. I really wanted to like it. It would've made an excellent drama, but they ruined it by marketing it as a horror film and by placing these weird chernobyl freak things in Alex's nightmares. Total disappointment.
Shawnee Smith was very charismatic and delightful as the younger sister. Bobbie Phillips (who looks like a cross between Claire Forlani & Natalie Imbruglia) was excellent and quite touching at times. Larry Miller, who really only appears in dreams, etc.. was funny as the perverted psycho, but lacked development.
Carnival of Souls was well acted & directed but lacked in the writing department. The only horror was in the dreams, and films in this genre need more than that.
8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997)
Funny, but that's all.
Why wasn't this film given a cinematic release here in Australia? "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" is a hilarious goofball comedy in the tradition of Weekend at Bernies, Billy Madison, There's Something about Mary, Dumb & Dumber, The Stupids, etc..
Who really cares about plot - look at the title?? Were you expecting Schindler's List? I was roaring with laughter from start to finish. Joe Pesci was fantastic as the hitman. I loved the airplane scene hehe ("Sure make conversation, just do it in sign language"). The rest of the cast performed nicely as well. I particularly liked Dyan Cannon as the recovering alco. I laughed my head off when she found the head, same for when Kristy Swanson found them ("You got me a present!"). When the heads broke out into song ("Mr Sandman") I was laughing tears.
David Spade annoyed me but this minor flaw can be discarded by screaming "Up Your Ziggy with a WahWah brush" everytime he comes on screen - helped me relax!
Entertainment Scale: 8/ 10
The Substitute (1993)
Tedious, but not that bad!
Amanda Donohue stars as a wonderful teacher with a dark side - she kills people. Pretty unoriginal concept, but I enjoyed it. Amanda Donohue was flawless in her portrayal of both a high school teacher and a psycho loon. She reminded me of my teachers so much I shivered. This film also marks Mark Wahlberg's acting debut and you can tell. Marky Mark was terrible in his portrayal of a "rebellious" teen and potential victim. I was cheering for his death and thank god he's taken some acting lessons since then. Dalton James was alright, but Natasha Gregson Wagner, who looks she's balding, was quite boring.
More suspense was needed as was some development of the supporting characters (Wagner, Wahlberg, etc...). Aside from a few lost plots, bad performances and scenes of standard thriller fare, check it out. For once we actually feel for and understand the protagonist. She might kill people for personal gain, but who doesn't?
Prom Night II or Carrie II ?
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is the perfect film to cheer you up when you're feeling blue!
After high-school prom queen ho Mary Lou (who freakishly resembles Monica Lewinsky.. Is there something she's not telling us?) is incinerated at the prom by Boyfriend #1 (i think there were around 9 in total, but 2 present), her spirit returns with a vengeance thirty years later, possessing naive wallflower Vicki. Until this point Vicki was a charming girl, your typical garden-variety Christian with a bible-thumping mom (Carrie?).
Now she's a sex-crazed freak who's killing off her friends in the most bizarre methods ever. The locker scene was remarkably original and very effective. For once nudity was significant to a horror film character. It does have quite a lot of sexual undertones, not to mention the funniest bunch of characters ranging from the popular chick willing to do *anything* to be crowned prom queen, the teacher who *loves* Vicki, and Vicki's pal with the birdsnest hairdo. Was I the only one laughing?
Prom Night II is not a bad horror film. Its letdown is the ridiculous ending, as well some quite appalling and disgusting scenes, such as where she tries to viciously mount her boyfriend and where she tries to french kiss her father (I warned you!). The ending is borrowed from Carrie which is unacceptable. It does have original moments, but if Carrie was a tramp - this film would've been a carbon copy.
Aside from these small possibly overseeable flaws, Wendy Lyons gives a nice, if at times monotonous, performance as Mary Lou. Beth Gondek was great as Jess - it had to be the hair. The whole cast gave fairly above average horror film performances.
Scene to look out for? The Cafeteria dream scene with a mystery head is floating around in the mystery stew! HAHAHA!
The Witching Hour (1996)
Nice little featurette
The Witching Hour aired here (Australia) in 1996, just after the release of "The Craft" and was a delightful little accompaniment to the hit film. We hear from all four ladies, as well as director Andrew Fleming, and experienced wiccan Pat Devin who helps provide an insight into the meaning of witchcraft.
With footage from some great films (Heathers, The Lost Boys, Carrie), excellent scenes from the The Craft and awesome music, it was a nice little show. Some parts may spoil particular scenes of the film, as is known with all "making-of" featurettes, but it's a must for all fans of the film and its leading ladies. The focus on witchcraft was very interesting, particularly the scenes with Pat Devin in "Panpipes Magickal Marketplace" (a store owned by star, Fairuza Balk). I'm proud to own a copy, and if you get your hands on to one, check it out!
It would've been nice to see 'The Witching Hour' as an extra on the DVD version of 'The Craft'.
Stupid, pointless and unfinished!
Click has got to be one of, if not THE worst movie I have ever seen. You've got to be worried when the opening and closing credits are accompanied by scantily-clad tramps dancing around in the background. This film tells the pathetic story of some stupid killer killing off Calendar models, even though we don't see any of this action until the second half of the film when he stalks a small group of models at closed-set ranch out in the middle of nowhere! I heard from an online acquaintance that many of the actors were pulled from the film by the MPAA or SAG for some odd reason, which may explain why many scenes and characters don't make any sense whatsoever to the story and only appear in limited scenes, particularly the first scenes.
What also got on my nerves was the fact that none of these girls were even attractive enough to be models and not many of their faces ring a bell. The director probably met them on the street, much like a character in the film does, arghh this film is sooo bad, although particular merit goes to Friday the 13th gals Susan Jennifer Sullivan and Juliette Cummins (one of the pulled actors - had a big role) who turn in quite decent performances, especially Susan. The rest of the cast, Troy Donahue in particular, just annoyed me.
Would be the worst movie of all time if people had actually seen it! So if you're REALLY bored, watch.. actually don't watch it.. go rent the Vice Academy series where at least the campiness is entertaining! This is trash.. what the hell were they thinking?? Same applies to me that day in the video store!! (exhale)