The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

I last watched this a very long time ago, some time before the turn of the century, so I had forgotten most of it.

This was a bomb when it came out in 1988, it made only $8 million from it’s $46 million budget, but it is a Terry Gilliam film after all. This article explains the making of the film, and also some of the troubles in the film including some quite dangerous scenes, which were very clearly evident while watching it. Sarah Polley, who was nine years old at the time, had a co-starring role and as you will read in the aforementioned article was very traumatised as a result of being in the film.

I quite enjoyed it though. It was funny in places, especially when Robin Williams made his appearance as King of the Moon. Oliver Reed too was very funny as Vulcan, in fact I would say he was the highlight of the film. The rest of the film though was entertaining and quite good to look at. As well as Robin and Oliver, the film included such fine actors as Eric Idle, Uma Thurman, and Jonathan Pryce. A very respected actor, but virtually unknown at the time was John Neville who played the Baron, and he was most excellent. Sting had a cameo.

Some of the humour does fall a bit flat, and if you are a Monty Python fan then you will know what the punchlines to some jokes will be, and it also slows down a bit in places. It is also not really a kid’s film, especially with several beheadings and a risqué scene involving the tickling of the Queen of the Moon’s feet and suggestive groans.

A rather enjoyable watch, and better than I was anticipating.

Date watched: August 11th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2019: 23

Casino Royale

James wanted to watch a Bond film in the weekend, so he chose this one as he has not seen it yet.

I have seen this a couple of times before at least, with my last post about it way back in 2012. So here is what I wrote that time:

I saw this a few years back for the first time and decided to watch it again to see how well it has stood up after seeing most of the older Bond movies.

And I was quite impressed. Daniel Craig was as good as I remember and the rest of the film was much more polished, mature and action-like than any Bond film before it, but pretty much minus the camp Bond humour. That though did not matter too much, this seemed more like a proper action/thriller/spy film that can hold it’s own against the Jason Bourne and Tom Cruise flicks that could have easily wiped out Bond if he did not get up with the times.

Hopefully Daniel Craig does a few more Bond films.

I am in agreeance with myself on what I wrote, but I don’t agree with my score of 8.5 out of 10, it was a tad too generous. There were a few long scenes where the story slowed down just a bit too much and I was longing for some action sequences. The poker game for example dragged on a bit which could have been shortened or livened up a bit with a shootout at some point. And the romance storyline in the third act, which seemed like it was tacked on, was kind of dull… it too needed a shootout scene or at least a car chase somewhere.

But these gripes aside it was still a good Bond film, and solidified Daniel Craig as a very worthy Bond.

Date watched: August 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
James’ score: 7.5/10
Film count 2019: 22

Airplane II

I felt like a comedy last night, and Airplane came to mind first. But, I saw that recently so decided to go with it’s sequel, even though I remember it as not being nearly as good (I have seen this at least twice previous).

Right from the beginning it started re-hashing jokes from the original, even using a few of the original’s characters such as the Hare Krishnas at the airport. Some jokes were just variations. But, there were some new jokes, and I did laugh a few times, but overall it got to be tiresome, and some jokes were just not funny at all.

Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, and Steven Stucker returned and were just as good, it is just a pity they didn’t have a better script to work with. The Shat seemed to enjoy his part, and being The Shat he did overdo it a little… but, we expect nothing less.

From IMDB: This film was created with the obligation that its creative team return for a third installment. Expectations were so high that the next film was promised at the end of the credits of this one. When the film was released to mediocre box office, plans for Airplane III was doomed. However, the advertisement remains in most prints.

This is not worth watching again, but some day I will probably watch the first film again, and perhaps another time after that.

My previous score for this film was 7 out of 10 (February, 2016), but I feel that is too high now.

Date watched: July 6th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2019: 21

The Informers

Not long into watching this I realised I had seen this before, and looking back through my blog posts I found that I had reviewed it back in September, 2012. No matter, it was kind of worth watching again.

The film involves different characters and follows them as they go through 1980’s high life in Los Angeles. So there is a lot of being high, and one character comes down with a mysterious new sickness, the result of sleeping around too much.

The acting by all is superb, and it should be with actors like Mickey Rourke, Amber Heard, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, and Billy Bob Joe Hank William Thornton. Chris Isaak is in it too, and he did an admirable job of it.

Ultimately though it didn’t really do much at the end. Some of the stories had an ending, some not, and maybe it was not supposed to come to a satisfying end. Basically the film was about despair, loneliness, and helplessness so perhaps the filmmakers were trying to get us all really down.

A whole subplot that involved vampires was cut from the film, perhaps for the best. Then again, it could have spiced the film up more. There was one scene in the film though that did show a remnant of that plot (involving a very nasty and pale-faced character who was trying to buy a kidnapped child). The film was a huge bomb, which is a pity as it was not a terrible film, but I guess most people want a happy ending, and maybe keeping the vampires would have helped.

Date watched: July 6th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2019: 20

Freaks

This is a 1932 film I had been wanting to see for quite some time, and when I chanced upon it on YouTube I had to watch it there and then.

I was expecting this to be a blatant exploitation film, just a film version of a circus freak sideshow, which it was for some part. But mostly it did not portray the various actual circus performers in a disrespectful way, and by the end of the film they were basically revengeful heroes.

The main character was Hans, a German dwarf who falls in love with a trapeze artist in the travelling circus they are part of. The trapeze artist, Cleopatra, learns that Hans has inherited a large amount of money, so she and Hercules (the strongman of course) conspire to get into that money. Hans has a dwarf lady friend (played by his actual sister), and she loved him, so things get messy quickly.

Other actors included a man who had no arms or legs, the bearded lady, Stork Woman, conjoined twins, and Schlitzie (also called ‘Pinhead’). Each of them was given a little time in the film so we could observe their various traits. There were also side stories, some of which were quite silly, including the love quadrangle between the conjoined twins, one of the twins’ husband, and another chap who proposed to the other twin. And the story of the bearded lady having a baby.

I wasn’t expecting much going into this, but by the end I was quite impressed and was hoping Cleopatra would get what is coming to her, which she did in a very bizarre fashion.

From Wikipedia: Following disastrous test screenings in January 1932 (one woman threatened to sue MGM, claiming the film had caused her to suffer a miscarriage),[6] the studio cut the picture down from its original 90-minute running time to just over an hour. Much of the sequence of the freaks attacking Cleopatra as she lies under a tree was removed, as well as a gruesome sequence showing Hercules being castrated, a number of comedy sequences, and most of the film’s original epilogue.

The final cut is 59 minutes long.

It was a financial disaster when it came out, and was banned all over the place due to it’s “outrageous and repulsive” content. The director made only three more films after this, the film had ruined him. The actress playing Cleopatra hoped this film would boost her waning career, but she too was finished after this.

It was banned in the U.K. until 1963, and upon release was given an X-rating. It became a cult film in the 1960’s.

Researching the various actors in the film I was surprised to see that many lived to a ripe old age despite their physical or mental deficiencies. Schlitzie died aged 70 after a long life of mostly performing, something he loved doing (he had a mental age of 3). The actor playing Hans died aged 83, and Koo-Koo lived into her 80’s.

It is a very good thing people are not being treated like this anymore, either on film or in circus acts, but I found this to be an almost sympathetic look at how these people lived. They were not portrayed as monsters, but instead as quite happy and positive people who enjoyed a good time.

Well worth a watch as this is a significant film in many ways.

Date watched: June 30th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2019: 19

Braindead

As mentioned in my previous post, I found this (on YouTube) and watched it last night.

This film upped Bad Taste in all ways. The production was much better due to a NZ$3 million budget (Bad Taste was made for $25,000), the use of real actors, and there was a lot more splatter. In fact this must rank as the most splatter-goriest film of all time, especially the last thirty minutes of the film which is basically just blood, entrails, and brains flying everywhere. It was also funnier, which it really needed to be due to the amount of extreme gore happening. Some scenes were a bit absurd, such as when the hero of the story takes the zombie baby to the park in a pram, and proceeds to attempt to subdue it when it goes berzerb… Peter Jackson’s favourite part of the film apparently.

The actors and actresses in this are a who’s-who of 1990’s New Zealand television and film. Familiar names such as Timothy Balme, Elizabeth Moody (she was brilliant in this), Ian Watkin, Davina Whitehouse, Bill Ralston, and Belinda Todd. Peter Jackson also had a minor role. They were all brilliant and they were all subject to a huge amount of fake blood and gore.

It was good to see 1990’s Wellington made to look like 1950’s Wellington. There was one scene where I saw the street where my brother lives, and the bus stop near his place where earlier this year I waited. This link shows the shop used in the film, and across the road is the bus-stop, although it has been renewed since then. In the film a tram was visible on the street which is impossible as the streets are very steep in this area.

The special effects, especially the puppets, were very impressive. This article is a good read about how the film was made.

Braindead is banned in countries such as South Korea, Finland, and Singapore. In Germany it is heavily cut, and the R-rated version in the U.S.A. is also cut, although the unrated version is completely original. Peter Jackson announced plans last year to restore this and Bad Taste in 4K, along with Meet the Feebles.

Here is a good story of someone who played the zombie “Mum” in the film.

This actually bombed in the day, I guess it was just too gory for most people.

I absolutely enjoyed this, it was just so over-the-top gory and yet funny at the same time. I would place it slightly above the Evil Dead films, Evil Dead 2 in particular, as the most funniest horror films in existence.

Recommended for anyone who can stomach a large amount of splatter and laugh at the same time.

Date watched: June 16th
Score: 10/10
Body count: unknown
Film count 2019: 18

Bad Taste

I felt like returning to this Peter Jackson classic horror film after many years since my last viewing. In fact I have no review of it on this blog, so it was quite some time ago that I last saw it.

Even though it has been a long time, I remembered most of the film. Scenes such as Derek falling down the cliff, Frank having to eat from a bowl of puke (and enjoying it), various chainsaw scenes, and the exploding sheep.

Despite being a film made on a budget by a bunch of friends in weekends, and being Peter’s first proper film, it was very well made. Peter’s film techniques and comedy timing were impressive, as well as the special effects and makeup which Peter mostly did himself. Peter also had a couple of roles in the film, including Derek who was the funniest character in the story.

I remember going to see this at a theatre not long after it was released, and my cousin who was with me had to leave a few minutes after it started, he couldn’t handle the gore (I think it was the scene where the alien had the top of his head blown off, and the brains slopping out that did it). I though thoroughly enjoyed it back then, and still do.

Braindead, Peter’s next film, was probably better overall, but as I cannot find that film anywhere I cannot compare the two films. But Bad Taste is a fun film and I would say is one of Peter Jackson’s best.

Addendum: After a quick search I found Braindead… watching it tonight!

Date watched: June 16th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2019: 17