Rambo is back, but does anyone care?

The trailer for the new Rambo flick (ingeniously titled “Rambo”) has finally hit the net, and I can’t tell whether the movie is supposed to be a follow-up to the third film in the popular action series or a sequel to “The Pacifier.” In it, John Rambo plays babysitter to a group of Christian missionaries after they’re kidnapped in Thailand. Along with his trusty knife, bow and cliched dialogue (“Live for nothing, or die for something” – seriously?), the Vietnam vet wreaks havoc on the savage Burmese mercenaries.

Sylvester Stallone has gone on record as saying that the reason the film wasn’t titled “John Rambo” (like “Rocky Balboa,” which signified the end of a franchise), is because he’s still very much open to making more. Too bad. If this trailer is any indication – not to mention it’s January release date – they should have quit while they were ahead.

Click here to check out the trailer, and then come back to let us know what you think.


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Scare(s) of the Day: “Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection”

It’s a long scary day ’round my place, as I celebrate the final Scare of the Day for October by working my way through MGM’s awesome new box dedicated to that legendary scare-master, Vincent Price. I’ve actually been tackling one or two of these films as I’ve had the time, but I wanted to make sure they were all knocked out by the end of the day, so rather than wait ’til the wee hours to get this thing posted, I’m just going to update it as I go. I’ll make the acknowledgment right off the bat, however, that this is no way intended to be a comprehensive collection of all things Price; in fact, without even trying, I can think of half a dozen other horror films on his resume which are part of MGM’s Midnite Movies catalog. Does that mean we’ll get a “Volume 2” come next Halloween…? We can only hope.

Tales of Terror – Price found himself in the midst of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations plenty of times within his career, but few are more enjoyable than this trio of tales, directed and produced by the inestimable Roger Corman.

Though he’s teamed with Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone in the second and third segments, respectively, it’s in the first – “Morella” – where Price is truly the star. He plays Locke, a man who has spent decades mourning the death of his wife, who died in childbirth. When Lenora, the child in question, returns home after an absence of many years, she’s shocked to find the family mansion in disarray and her father but a shadow of the man he once was; of course, she’s even more shocked when she finds that Daddy’s been keeping the decomposing corpse of Mommy lying around for all this time. Somehow, father and daughter manage to reconcile, but in the end, it’s Moms who gets the last laugh.

The best of the three segments is unquestionably “The Black Cat,” which finds Lorre taking the lead role as Montresor Herringbone, a drunken lout who proves that just because you’re a drunk and a lout doesn’t mean you can’t be a clever – and deadly – son of a bitch. The entire story is played far more for laughs than horror, but the final shot is gleefully gruesome. Lorre goes all out with his drunk routine, though he probably had little choice in the matter if he wanted to match Price’s vigorously slimy performance as Fortunato, a pretentious wine connoisseur who ends up sleeping with Herringbone’s wife, the gorgeous Annabel (played by the gorgeous Joyce Jameson); the scene where Herringbone and Fortunato have a wine taste-off is, in and of itself, worth owning the film…if not this entire box set.

Though “The Black Cat” inspires quite a few chuckles, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” leads one to believe that Corman prefers to leave his viewers screaming rather than laughing. Here, Price plays the title character, a dying man who decides to provide a mesmerist by the name of Carmichael (Rathbone) with the opportunity of a lifetime: to hypnotize him at the moment of his death, to see if his passing can be prolonged via hypnotic suggestion. The experiment proves only half-successful; Valdemar remains in a half-dead / half-alive state, where his body is gone but his mind lives on, trapped within the lifeless vessel. Valdemar’s wife, Helen (Deborah Paget), and his longtime friend, Dr. Elliot James, demand that Carmichael release his subject, but Carmichael refuses, calling it the opportunity of a lifetime, providing him with the chance to find out what lies beyond this plane of existence. (You will not be shocked to discover that Carmichael soon gets the chance to learn about it first hand.) Rathbone is good and evil in his role, and Price’s ghostly voiceover is suitably spooky, making for a nice and creepy finale to three consistently enjoyable scares.

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Scare of the Day: “Voodoo Moon”

I gotta tell you, I haven’t a clue how long this has been sitting around my office, waiting to be reviewed; worse, my wife watched it when it first got here, and she can’t remember how long ago that was. The best I can offer you is that it was originally released on October 3, 2006, so we’re almost certainly looking at an entire year…and while I realize that I should feel embarrassed about the fact that it’s been loitering around here for so long, the best defense I have is that it’s a Sci-Fi Channel original film, and, statistically, those things are generally best left unwatched.

In the case of “Voodoo Moon,” I’ll at least say this: it’s a far cry from being the worst Sci-Fi Channel original film that I’ve ever seen. In fact, at times, it feels like a cross between “Fallen” (the Denzel Washington flick which probably blew most of its budget just to license The Rolling Stones’ “Time Is On My Side”) and “The Crow,” though the latter comparison probably only comes into play because the film’s lead, Eric Mabius (“Resident Evil”), walks around wearing a long black trenchcoat for the majority of the movie.

Mabius plays Cole, who basically spends his life practicing voodoo and hunting demons, one of which – a dark fellow named Daniel (Rik Young) – keeps popping back into our realm when he’s not wanted. Daniel’s been a thorn in Cole’s side for years, growing stronger each time he returns, and, now, he’s back for a final battle. To draw as much strength as possible, Cole draws together a group of folks he’s helped over the years, and they’re more than willing to step up and help him defeat Daniel. Also in the mix is Cole’s sister, Heather, played by Charisma Carpenter; it’s pretty clear that Carpenter didn’t have to stretch much to play this role, which has her reacting to things in much the same way she did when she played Cordelia Chase on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” John Amos (“Good Times”) plays a biker buddy of Cole’s, and there are also appearances from horror flick stalwarts like Dee Wallace Stone and Jeffrey Combs. Amos is great, but that’s also probably the least surprising revelation about the film, given that he’s usually entertaining in any role; Combs, however, is part of the most entertaining subplot of the film, playing one of Cole’s cronies who gets killed on his way to assist him but refuses to let little things like death or rigor mortis get in the way of doing his part. Young is pretty entertaining with his portrayal of the evil Daniel, too:

As with any Sci-Fi Channel flick, there are plenty of moments which will inspire you to yell at the screen because of their stupidity, but Jenn – my wife and my regular “Scare of the Day” viewing companion – became very vocal about her issues with a small moment in the movie. It occurred when Heather stepped into the hallway of the hotel where she and Cole were staying, only to get immediately stabbed in the leg with a fork by an old woman who’d been possessed by Daniel. Heather’s reaction was basically, “Ow, that hurt,” taking it pretty much in stride when Cole yanked out the fork. “Oh, my God!” yelled Jenn. “You would so NOT act like you’ve just gotten a slap on the leg if you’d been stabbed by a fork!” This really, really bothered my wife. Later in the film, Heather accidentally cuts herself on a broken glass and barely holds it together, at which point Jenn yelled, “Suck it up! You took a fork in the leg…and I know that hurt worse than that!” I won’t waste your time or mine by regaling you with the other fork-related references made throughout the course of these 89 minutes, but suffice it to say that the issue was still going strong even as I was typing this paragraph.

The special effects range from the not-bad to the outrageously-crappy, with the battle royale between Cole and Daniel falling somewhere in-between the two poles, but probably the most annoying thing about “Voodoo Moon” is that it’s one of those movies where you’re always aware that there’s a good idea getting the shit kicked out of it by poor execution. The character of Cole is actually a rather interesting one, particularly the idea of a demon hunter who has a team of people he’s saved working with him (it reminds me of “The Shadow”), but the concept is wasted here.

Oh, well. It’s not like I had high expectations, anyway.


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Long live Goulet!

Why settle for Will Ferrell when you can have a jolly good laugh with the real thing?


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Goulet! is dead

Yes, it’s true. Robert Goulet is dead at 73, waiting for a lung transplant. Bobby had a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis. So long to you, sir. In tribute, here is Will Ferrell on “SNL” as Goulet.


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