Over the weekend the husband and I watched three October-appropriate films – An eighties slasher flick Happy Birthday to Me, an eighties horror-comedy House II: The Second Story and the more recent The Batman Vs. Dracula animated direct-to-video movie.
Let’s start with the animated movie:
Movie 2: Saturday October 2, 2009
Film Title: The Batman Vs. Dracula (2005)
Starring (voice actors): Rino Romano as The Batman/Bruce Wayne, Alastair Duncan as Alfred Pennyworth, Peter Stormare as Count Dracula/Alucard, Tom Kenny as The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot, Kevin Michael Richardson as The Joker and Tara Strong as Vicky Vale
Written by: Dave Capizzi
Directed by: Michael Goguen
This movie is part of The Batman animated series that was on the WB for a while not too long ago. My husband and I are huge Batman fans but never had much interest in this version. After watching this movie I’m glad that we never wasted our time.
The movie isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t something I would recommend anyone seek out.
For some unknown reason (even to the story writer, apparently) Dracula’s coffin was removed from Transylvania post-heart-piercing and dumped into a Gotham city underground crypt. After breaking out of Arkham Asylum The Penguin (who sounds and acts more like the animated Beetlejuice than any incarnation of The Penguin I’ve ever seen or read) stumbles across this crypt looking for buried treasure. Mr. Cobblepot escapes the fangs of Dracula but falls prey to Drac’s hypno-gaze and becomes The Count’s new Renfield.
Meanwhile, Vicky Vale is interviewing (and hitting on) a young Bruce Wayne but he’s too distracted by the new rash of strange disappearances and she’s pretty much out of luck.
But so is The Batman. Due to witnesses seeing a ‘batlike’ creature when these Lost Ones disappear, the city starts hunting down The Batman believing he is the one kidnapping all the missing persons.
The Batman figures out who Dracula is – but really, it’s not that hard. Drac even gives his name as Alucard to Bruce Wayne at a party. This has become so common it’s positivily cliche. What’s really sad is that ol’ Brucey had to write out the letters and hold them up to a mirror to figure it out. I know, I know – that was more to let the audience in on the joke, but really – it just made Bruce look stupid.
By the time the story ends, the Joker’s been turned into a vampire, cured by The Batman, and Vicky Vale has been kidnapped and nearly turned into Drac’s vampire queen. Fortunately, Batsy is able to defeat The Count with Wayne Industries’ newest technological feat.
There are many problems with this movie, the biggest being that it’s just plain dull. I did not like the character designs, Alfred Pennyworth seemed quite out of character (he did a spit take for goodness’ sake) and the voice actor they cast for Batman – ick. He sounded like almost all Hollywood men today – boyish and boring. Batman needs a deep, commanding voice. How can you strike fear into the hearts of men when you sound like a teenage boy?
I will say this for it though – The Joker as a vampire is pretty damn creepy. What’s even creepier is that while a vampire and as The Batman’s prisoner, he dined on Bruce Wayne’s blood nightly.
Okay, so moving right along. Don’t worry – I actually liked the other two movies we watched this past weekend.
Rating: Three Screaming Pumpkins out of ten
Movie 3: Saturday October 2, 2009
Move Title: House II: The Second Story (1987)
Starring: Arye Gross as Jessie, Jonathan Stark as Charlie, Royal Dano as Gramps and John Ratzenberger as Bill
Written by: Ethan Wiley
Directed by: Ethan Wiley
The first House movie is a lot of fun and sometimes genuinely scary. The sequel – which has nothing to do with the first movie aside from the fact that it centers around a haunted house – is just fun.
When Jessie moves into the house his parents – who he never knew – left him, he starts exploring and finds that the strange mantlepiece on his fireplace is missing something rare and valuable – a crystal skull. After even more research he deduces that this skull might just be buried with his great great grandfather, with whom he shares his name.
He convinces his best friend Charlie to help him dig up the old codger and lo and behold – there’s the skull – and along with the skull is ol’ gramps. He’s decayed and very, very old but still kicking.
Jessie and Charlie take Gramps and the skull back to the house but is is almost immediately stolen – by a barbarian from a prehistoric alternate universe that anyone can get to just by going into the upstairs study.
And that’s how this movie goes up until the end. Jessie and Charlie visit three alternate universes trying to keep their hands on the skull and therefore keeping Gramps alive. In the end, Gramps’ old friend-turned-enemy shows up demanding the skull but Jessie shoots it out with him until only one of them is left.
Along the way Bill Maher shows up as a smarmy record producer and a few non-descript women look pretty on the screen for a few minutes but are never developed past a two-dimensional shell. However, a cute little pterodactyl and dogerpillar make up for lack of female character development.
Rating: Five Screaming Pumpkins out of ten
Saving the Best for last :
Movie 4: Sunday October 4, 2009
Title: Happy Birthday To Me (1981)
Starring: Melissa Sue Andersen as Virginia Wainwright, Glenn Ford as Doctor David Faraday, Tracey Bregman as Ann Thomerson and various other Canadian youths
Written by: John C.W. Saxton, Peter Jobin & Timothy Bond
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Although a slasher flick, this movie is very short on gore. The kills are quick and the camera never lingers on the aftermath.
However, the interesting story that keeps you guessing right up until the end makes up for it.
Virginia is a popular girl in her (high school? College? – it’s very unclear) and is even in what the locals call ‘The Top Ten’ – meaning the top ten most popular people in the school.
However, all is not perfect in pretty little Virginia’s world. Three years prior she had been in an accident that left her in a coma. After experimental brain surgery, she recovered but with very little memory of the accident itself or what led up to it.
In the meantime, members of the Top Ten slowly disappear. The viewer knows they are dead – we see each kill although we never see the killer – but the townspeople don’t know if they’re dead or alive. None of the bodies turn up.
By the end of the movie we find out exactly where those bodies went along with how and why.
As with most slasher movies, this film has a female lead performed adequately by Melissa Sue Andersen of Little House on the Prairie fame. A few other familiar character actors from early eighties films pop up along with Glenn Ford.
Rating: Seven Screaming Pumpkins out of 10