Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dull film made worse by insipid dubbing

Spirits of Bruce Lee (aka "Angry Tiger" ) (1973) 
Starring: Michael Chan 
Director: Shang Lang
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

 When his brother is robbed and murdered while buying jade in Thailand, jeweler and kick-ass martial artist Chen-Wai Chang (Chan) sets out to find and punish his killers.

"Spirits of Bruce Lee" is a waste of time and space. It's populated by uninteresting characters portrayed by handsome but unremarkable actors and actresses, and it moves at a glacial pace from predictable plot point to predictable plot point. Even in 1973 this boring and overlong film must have been a sleep-aid for some, and a welcome make-out opportunities for teenagers at drive-ins and second-run movie houses. The only way to get through this movie without boredom killing you as dead as Bruce Lee--barring making out or dozing off--would be to consume copious amounts of spirits (Bruce Lee Spirits or otherwise.)

 This film is one of the few in this set that has no qualities that give any reason for you to watch it. It's possible the original Chinese version is slightly better than what comes across in this obnoxiously dubbed film that features one of the greatest collection of annoying voices to ever be assembled in one place, but even it can't possibly be worth the time it takes to watch. It's rare that I think Godfrey Ho adding some random ninjas could improve a film, but I think taht would have been the only thing that could have saved this paint-by-numbers, half-assed martial arts melodrama..

By the way, can someone explaine the "Brucespoitation" thing to me? Did movie-going martial arts fans in the mid- to late 1970s really go to see any piece of crap that had Bruce Lee's name in the title? This movie can't be described as a tribute to Bruce Lee (or even anyone who was involved with making it it's so awful), nor does there seem to be any similarities to any of the movies Lee made plot-wise or theme-wise--except in a single, minor point that one really has to stretch to even consider a similarity. I simply don't get the selling point.

Monday, May 6, 2013

'Skinned Alive' will disappoint almost everyone

Skinned Alive (1990)
Starring: Scott Spiegel, Susan Rothacker, Mary Jackson, Floyd Ewing Jr., Lester Clark, and Barbara Katrz-Norrod
Director: John Killough
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

When a family of crazy cannibalistic taxidermists (Jackson, Rothacker, and Spiegel) are stranded over night in a small town, they see no reason to stop their ongoing killing spree.

"Skinned Alive" is a clumsily constructed horror comedy that features a talented cast doing their best with a weak script and a special effects crew that either didn't have enough money or enough skill to stretch the money for decent gore effects. There are only two instances in the film that will have you squirming in your seat due to the splatter/ick factor... and that's entirely too few for what this movie seems to want to be.

And the fact I say "seems to want to be" illustrates the biggest problem with "Skinned Alive", Watching it, I got the sense it wanted to be a cross between "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Spider Baby", but it lacks cohesion, so I'm really sure if that's what writer/director Killough was going for, or if that just my mind trying to bring order to the chaos.

If you're looking for a gory splatter-fest, "Skinned Alive" does not deliver. It doesn't even deliver on the promise of the title, as the only person who comes close to being "Skinned Alive" is a character who inexplicably kept coming back from the dead, in a manner that I couldn't determine whether it was supposed to be a joke or just a symptom of bad continuity. IF you looking for an intense and horrific viewing experience, "Skinned Alive" won't satisfy you either, because it unfolds in an entirely too random fashion, with too many characters being present for no good reason and the pace being too choppy and uneven for any tension to build in the film. The only possible audience for this film who will be satisfied are those looking for a Bad Movie Night experience; that this movie is perfect for.

With the horror falling flat, many of jokes being so lame they can't even be described as un-funny, the overall package of this film is pretty bad, despite the fact that most of the featured actors do a good job in the sense that they are hamming it up big time. Those over-the-top performances make the film more fun to watch than it otherwise might have been... and why it would be a nice addition to a Bad Movie Night. (Producer J.R. Bookwalter would have done everyone a favor if he had made this film part of the "Bad Movie Police" line-up from a few years ago. He might even have found that endeavor to be more successful than it was if he had.)