Sunday, November 9, 2008

Film Review: THE WILLIES (1991, Brian Peck)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 92 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Clu Gulager, Sean Astin, James Karen, Dana Ashbrook, Bill Erwin, Kimmy Robertson, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold
Tag-line: "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll puke, you'll die!"
Best one-liner(s): "You boys aren't out here giving each other 'the willies,' are ya?"

Basically, it's the weird, seemingly made-for-TV, pseudo kiddie version of CREEPSHOW. It kinda plays out like an episode of EERIE, INDIANA that's been dumbed down for mass consumption, with urban legend-esque creepy tales that are so generic, I half-expected the killer with the hook hand or the truck driver flashing his brights to make an appearance. The lead kids, including Sean Astin, are pretty stiff and have great difficulty registering the difference between vague terror, mind-numbing shock, and complete boredom as they continually mix and match those three emotions rather haphazardly throughout, usually settling on boredom. Then there's the bizarre cameos (which can mostly be explained by the fact that the director, Brian Peck, appeared in all the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD movies, most notably as the lead, mohawked punk in the first installment) : we have the GROWING PAINS kids, Lucy the secretary (Kimmy Robertson) and Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) from TWIN PEAKS:

and finally CLU GULAGER as the school principal who delivers his one line,

"My God, what the hell happened in here?" with more sincerity than the rest of the cast for the rest of the entire film, combined. There's also there's a weird scene that plays out for a minute like BILL AND COO with flies instead of birds. And then LIVING DEAD's James Karen appears in a somewhat larger role as the monstrous janitor. And it all boils down to a final scene with a ridiculous twist and amazing (lack of) reaction from our main characters who should be completely terrified at the prospect of impending bloody death,

but instead look only mildly perturbed, as if merely their cheese has been moved. This and Clu Gulager barely elevate this to three stars. For 80's horror completists only. (Yes, I know it was made in 1991.)

-Sean Gill

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