Monday, April 27, 2009

Episode 46: Musical Horror

A genre that has found a surprisingly strong round of support at Fantasmo is the cult musical. Screenings of Can’t Stop the Music, Xanadu, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the like have easily been among our most popular episodes (although we won’t include The Apple in that revered circle ). Perhaps the only thing more popular than musicals has been the horror genre, so your Team Fantasmo figures why not combine the two for what could be the greatest Fantasmo ever! That’s right, to kick off our summer season we will be screening two “horror musicals!” The first one is an 80’s favorite, the musical remake of the classic Roger Corman film Little Shop of Horrors. Steve Martin’s dentist sequence alone is worth the price of admission. Second up is a recent release that sort of came and went under the radar, Repo: The Genetic Opera, a film that combines Blade Runner, body-snatching, and an all-star cult cast. Great stuff! Here are your full Episode 46 details:

When: Saturday, May 2nd

Where: Chesapeake Central Library, 298 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322


8:00 p.m.: Little Shop of Horrors (1986) – Rated PG-13

9:45 p.m.: Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008) – Rated R

So there you have it Superfans, another episode that is surely music to your ears! And stay tuned as we will soon have a special announcement concerning a second(!) Fantasmo for the month of May. That's right, we will be holding a special edition of Fantasmo this month to honor the visit of a guest celebrity to the Central Library at the end of the month. You dare not miss it!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dolph Lundgren Is Retrograde!

One offshoot of my plunge into DTV action cinema by way of Steven Seagal, is that I've also rediscovered how terrific Dolph Lundgren is. I have pretty fond memories of his stuff from the late 80's and early 90's, and have been very impressed with his DTV efforts (particularly his directorial job on Missionary Man). A week or so back I got around to watching the latest Dolph release called Retrograde, a sci-fi/time travel thriller in which Dolph goes back to the past to stop a deadly virus outbreak. The film is often referred to as the "lost" Dolph Lundgren film as it was actually made in 2004, but for various reasons had yet to land here in the States. Having now seen the final product I can say it is no mystery as to why it took so long, this one is a pretty weak effort.

I won't spend a lot of time on the plot here, as it's nothing you haven't seen before. The film opens in the future (the year 2209 to be exact) and Earth is dying from a plague released in the present day by an Arctic expedition that uncovered some deadly meteorites buried in the ice. So Dolph and an elite team travel back to prevent the discovery. Unfortunately 75% of Dolph's crew are evil and hijack the ship for some sort of get rich quick scheme that never really makes sense. So the ship crashes, Dolph alone escapes, and the race is on between Dolph and the evil crew members to reach the doomed expedition to realize their independent goals.

Now granted that's a retread of any number of sci-fi films of the past, but I'm a sucker for Arctic sci-fi (especially when it is reminiscent of The Thing). The problem is this film is just plain boring. Firstly, Dolph is actually in this very little. In fact it reminded me a lot of Seagal's recent work in Against the Dark. Dolph gets injured early on and spends the bulk of the time in the expedition's sick bay. He then wakes up toward the end for some poorly staged shootouts. The second problem with this is that the acting is just horrendous (with the exception of Dolph). It's like everyone is reading their lines off cue cards that are just outside of the shot. Honestly, outside of poorly dubbed foreign imports, this is perhaps the worst acting I've ever seen in a film of this standard. Of course stuff like Manos: The Hands of Fate has worse performances, but you expect that. And these guys aren't even amateurs. You have other recognizable folks like Gary Daniels (Fist of the North Star, Steven Seagal's Submerged) who inexplicably don't seem to know what they're doing as well. Finally, the production values on this are wildly hit and miss. You have some great Arctic photography intermingled with horrible CGI and space weaponry that looks like it arrived from the fall Nerf collection . . . really amateur hour.

This is the first time in watching DTV Lundgren that he has shown up in something that echoes the madness of DTV Seagal. Prior to this everything I'd seen him in was competent and entertaining (just lower budgeted than his big screen days). I can't really fault Dolph here though as he does a fine job when he's around, but the rest of this mess just brings everything crashing down. It was all I could do not to hit the fast forward button on this one. If you're a Dolph devotee or a DTV die hard you'll need to check it out, but otherwise stay far away. This is not for the layperson. Instead go rent Showdown In Little Tokyo and you'll feel much, much better : )

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Envy Report: Dolph Lundgren Fest

Yet another cool cinema (this time in L.A.) doing an amazing fest. Yep, coming up in just a few days is the Dolph Lundgren Fest titled appropriately "I Must Break You." Actually I just watched (and will shortly review) his "lost film" Retrograde the other night, which they are giving away to a "lucky 30 attendees." Now while I love Dolph's work (perhaps second only to Seagal), I would not characterize Retrograde as his finest hour, nor those 30 recipients as particularly "lucky." They are lucky however to be seeing five totally awesome Dolph films in 35mm!! I think I would have traded Masters of the Universe or Showdown in Little Tokyo in place of Red Scorpion, but it's still a great lineup . . . and a great prelude to his big screen return this summer in Stallone's The Expendables. In the meantime, I wonder how cheap airfare is to Los Angeles right now : )

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Steven Seagal is Lawman!

As we rapidly move toward this Friday's Schlock-O-Thon Fantasmo anniversary extravaganza, and an inevitable screening of Seagal's Against the Dark, I thought it a good time to mention the similarly rapid move toward the premiere of Seagal's Lawman reality show on A&E. Many sites including this one are abuzz with news on this project. A Google search for Seagal and Lawman will provide you with a wealth of information. Initially I have to say I was looking on this as a bit of a joke, but if there is any truth to the background behind this tale then Seagal has been doing some pretty amazing stuff down in New Orleans. I know Vern expressed some reservations about this reality show move during his talk at our July Fantasmo, but the more info we get I tend to think he, myself, and everyone else fascinated with Seagalogy will be pretty pleased with this.

And for those of you following at home, Seagal's promising looking DTV film Ruslan (unfortunately retitled to Driven To Kill) has been pushed back to May. Oh well, at least we have a DTV summer blockbuster to look forward to : ) See you this Friday at 8:00 p.m. for the all-nighter . . . and don't forget we lock the doors at 10:00 p.m. What will be this year's Can't Stop the Music/Gymkata/Shark Attack 3? I'm betting Chopping Mall!!