Monday, January 31, 2011

Film Review: THE BOY WHO COULD FLY (1986, Nick Castle)

Stars: 2.5 of 5.
Running Time: 107 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Lucy Deakins (AS THE WORLD TURNS, CHEETAH), Jay Underwood (AFTERGLOW, UNCLE BUCK), Fred Savage (THE PRINCESS BRIDE, LITTLE MONSTERS), Bonnie Bedelia (DIE HARD, NEEDFUL THINGS), Colleen Dewhurst (ANNIE HALL, THE DEAD ZONE), Fred Gwynne (THE MUNSTERS, THE COTTON CLUB), Jason Priestley (TOMBSTONE, BEVERLY HILLS 90210), Louise Fletcher (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC). Music by Bruce Broughton (TOMBSTONE, THE ICE PIRATES, MOONWALKER). Featuring the one and only Coupe de Villes. Visual Effects by Richard Edlund (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, GHOSTBUSTERS, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, the opening sequence for TALES FROM THE CRYPT).
Tag-line: " A very special love. And a very special magic. But is it real magic or just an illusion?"
Best one-liner: "In da back of da bus....just you and us"

Well, allow me to take a brief respite from my exploration of the horror portmanteau in order to bring something to your attention: THE BOY WHO COULD FLY. Now, how you'll feel about the movie itself likely will hinge on when you saw it: its greatest devotees are nostalgia-driven sentimentalists who saw it as kids back in '86. I, on the other hand, saw it this weekend, and, uh... well, let's just say that it's a little corny.


With a little bit of E.T. and a little bit of DUMBO (but with an autistic kid instead of a Reese's Pieces-luvin' alien or a floppy-eared elephant), THE BOY WHO COULD FLY launches itself headfirst into heavy-duty mawkishness and attempts to leave no tear unjerked.

I don't wish to badmouth the film, though- I'm a fan of filmmaker (and John Carpenter crony) Nick Castle, and if this film brings comfort or nostalgia to its fans, then I'm all for it. Now, in my mind, there are a few memorable elements in it, and one really noteworthy element, so I shall discuss them without further delay:

We've got Louise Fletcher as a well-meaning psychiatrist. And even though she's friendly, I guess I can't stop myself from making a comparison to Nurse Ratched.

Anyway, in a puzzling twist she chose to go uncredited, yet receives a very special thanks– was she unhappy with how the film turned out, or did she want her appearance to be unexpected? Who knows.

We got Fred Savage playing THE LAST STARFIGHTER video game (THE LAST STARFIGHTER was Nick Castle's previous picture),


a gang of tubby eight-year-old kids who terrorize Fred Savage and whose leader wears an Anarchy t-shirt, a nuanced performance by THE MUNSTERS' Fred Gwynne as a drunken parental figure (he really is mind-blowingly great- his facial contortions alone are possibly the movie's most genuine facet),

and an un-nuanced performance by Bonnie Bedelia (who's obviously been directed to be overly... indicative).

(Note that she's looking at an alarm clock and is running a few minutes late– she's not running a few hours late, nor has the alarm clock transformed into a portal to another dimension or flashed some obscene message á la MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. She is just running... a few.... minutes... late.)

But then....thirty-four minutes in....they drop an ATOM BOMB. An atom bomb I like to call: THE COUPE DE VILLES...

Hollleeee shit. If you have no idea who or what the Coupe de Villes are, may I refer you HERE, HERE, and HERE.

So two gals are engaging in some underage drinking/slumber partying, when who should appear on TV but the legendary Coupe de Villes, doing their best 80's glam band impersonation.

KISS, eat your heart out. Clockwise from upper left: Tommy Lee Wallace, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, and guest Coupe Warren Carr (the production manager).

(And who is this mysterious 4th Coupe de Ville, Warren Carr? I see he was the production manager here, but it seems to be his only professional contact with any of the Coupes.)

Now, the song, which does not appear on their album, WAITING OUT THE EIGHTIES, is written by Nick Castle, is entitled "Back of the Bus," and is further evidence that there may be entire vaults filled to the brim with unreleased Coupe de Ville treasures. It features a high-pitched plea from Nick Castle ('Heyyyyy pretty baby'), a booming, intense chorus by Carpy himself ('in da back of da bus.'), and it pretty much made my weekend.

"Mmmmmm----heh, heh, heh/Hey pretty girl/You goin' to school/We gonna teach her/The golden rule/in da back of da bus/Just you and us/Heyyy pretty baby/we like your looks/come here and study/put down your books/in da back of da bus"

And then they change the channel. But I never thought I would see John Carpenter looking like a member of Twisted Sister and menacing a young lassie in the back of a schoolbus:

Carpy imperils a studious young lady...in da back of da bus

And now, to shed some long-sought light upon the Coupe de Villes phenomenon, I have transcribed the audio commentary for this scene from THE BOY WHO COULD FLY DVD (said commentary features Nick Castle, Jay Underwood, Fred Savage, and Lucy Deakins):

Nick Castle: I wrote and performed that song as The Coupe de Villes. The Coupe de Villes are in various other films as well. They're in HALLOWEEN, they're in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, so we sort of spread ourselves around. But it is basically a vanity band. We would play the wrap parties for some of our films, and, uh, make everyone listen to us.

[everyone laughs]

Jay Underwood: I can't remember, did you play at ours?

Nick Castle: I sang, but uh–

Lucy Deakins: It was your Bruce Springsteen lookalike phase. The bandanas and everything.

Nick Castle: This was an in-joke, having flown my two friends into Vancouver for this little bit of playing the rock n' roll band, John Carpenter, of course, the famous director who did HALLOWEEN, and another friend, Tom Wallace, who's another director, with the opportunity of actually pretending to be a rock group. I threw us all together for this little bit.

Lucy Deakins: I still have the record you cut.

Jay Underwood: I got the same album...WAITING OUT THE EIGHTIES.

Lucy Deakins: Yeah!

[then the subject is changed to how Nick Castle played Mike Myers in HALLOWEEN, and how he receives more fan mail for that than for all the movies he directed]

Interesting. Though obviously Nick sells himself short when he refers to it as a vanity band. And now I have to rewatch HALLOWEEN: apparently it contains some hidden Coupe-de-Villery that has flown right over my head the five thousand or so times that I've watched it. And you know what warms my heart more than THE BOY WHO COULD FLY? The fact that Nick Castle gave the cast of THE BOY WHO COULD FLY LPs of WAITING OUT THE EIGHTIES!

Two and a half stars for the Coupe de Villes, but where is the rest of the music video footage?...it must exist, and it demands to be seen!

-Sean Gill

Friday, January 28, 2011

Film Review: CREEPSHOW 2 (1987, Michael Gornick)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 92 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Directed by Michael Gornick (cinematographer on CREEPSHOW, KNIGHTRIDERS, DAWN OF THE DEAD). Starring George Kennedy (DELTA FORCE, COOL HAND LUKE), Dorothy Lamour (a shitload of Bob Hope movies), Holt McCallany (FIGHT CLUB, THREE KINGS), David Holbrook (Hal's son, VAMPIRE'S KISS, DEADLY ILLUSION), Don Harvey (DIE HARD 2, THE THIN RED LINE), Daniel Beer (POINT BREAK, LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN), Page Hannah (SHAG, GREMLINS 2), Lois Chiles (MOONRAKER, BROADCAST NEWS). Written by Stephen King and George A. Romero. Soundtrack by Les Reed (former member of the John Barry Seven, writer of "It's Not Unusual") with contributions made by Rick Wakeman. Special Makeup Effects by Tom Savini (who also plays the Creep), Greg Nicotero (MULHOLLAND DR., PLANET TERROR), and Howard Berger (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, KILL BILL).
Tag-line: "Good to the last gasp!"
Best one-liner: "This hair's gonna get me paid 'n laid"

"CREEPSHOW 2, huh?"
–"What, you don't think it's gonna be good?"
"Well, I mean..."
–"What?"
"I heard some things about CREEPSHOW III."
–"You shut yer fucken face! There'll be no more talk about CREEPSHOW III. Not while I'm around. Allow me to make an analogy. We'll use Italians, because I like Italians. If CREEPSHOW is the Dario Argento of CREEPSHOWS, then CREEPSHOW 2 is the Lamberto Bava of CREEPSHOWS, and CREEPSHOW III is like the 'CGI-luvin', mentally disabled brother of Bruno Mattei' of CREEPSHOWS."
"Then what's the Lucio Fulci of CREEPSHOWS?"
–"TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE."
"Fair enough- let's give CREEPSHOW 2 a whirl."
–"Let's. But I must warn you, it's a step down in quality. The budget's lower (it's a New World Picture), there's three stories instead of five, the animation's not as good, Romero handed off the directorial reins to his buddy Michael Gornick, and we got Holbrook's son instead of Holbrook. No Tom Atkins or Ed Harris freakdancing, either."
"Awww."
–"It's alright, though, you'll still have fun. But right off the bat here, look at this:


Yeah, that disfigured senior citizen there is the new Creep. Tom Savini's under that makeup, but I still gotta say I prefer a floating, shrouded skeleton to a mutant handyman. The kid seems a little overproduced and a little under-sincere, too."
"Well, at least the Creep has got his own vanity plate."

–"That's certainly true. But look at the kid in animation- he looks like a poorly-sketched evil elf! I didn't sign up for THE TIN DRUM: THE ANIMATED MOVIE, I signed up for CREEPSHOW 2!

Anyways, the frame story is moderately amusing, involving bullies and flesh-eating plants,



Is that eyeshadow?

but the animation is so damned cheap and bright and cheery, it doesn't really contribute to the spooky atmosphere like in the first one. It's even the same animator (Rick Catizone) as CREEPSHOW 1, so you have to imagine that budget and shortened schedule must have been the culprits."
"What about the main stories, though?"
–"Shaddup, I'm not done. The music's shitty, too. Gone are the graceful strains of John Harrison, and they've been replaced by some free-form synthesized tinkling by Les Reed. Some Rick Wakeman bizarro-electro-melodies show up in the segment 'The Raft,' but on the whole, the music's damn disappointing. There's even some wakka-wakka SHAFT-style music that rears it's completely inappropriate head during 'The Hitchchiker' section."
"Whaaaaaaat?!"
–"Yeah, right? Anyway- let's hit up 'Old Chief Wood'nhead."

"Is that wooden Native American statue going to come to life?"
–"Just shuttttt it! So George Kennedy is singing 'Jimmy Crack Corn' and trying to maintain his dignity. Dorothy Lamour plays the missus. They're a sweet old couple trying to make ends meet at their general store in a dying town."
"You mean like a dying town? Like there's gonna be some DYING?"
–"Just let me finish.

Times are tough, but everything's relatively fine and dandy, until three ridiculous punks, who possibly escaped from the set of DEATH WISH 3, come to crash the party. We got Don Harvey as Andy, 'the rich boy punk who's slummin' it.'

He's fun to watch, and he got a lot of bit-character work in the years to come. Here he strikes me as kind of a young proto-Peter Weller combined with a proto-Kevin Bacon. Then there's David Holbrook (Hal's son) as Fatso, 'the fat thug.'

Remember when it was the 1980's and all you had to do was show a fat person, and it was automatically funny? You didn't even have to make a joke. The filmmakers were like, 'hey, here's a fat person!' And then the audience said, 'Aww-hawhawhawhawhawwww!' I kid, but there's somethin' to that. Also, his hat says 'Bullshit' on it. Finally, we got Holy McCallany as 'Sam Whitemoon.' I guess he's supposed to be Native American, and he's got the ludicrous wig to prove it.

He's the most sadistic of the bunch. You can tell because he says stuff like 'Guess you don't hear good, shitface!!!' He's got a ridiculous plan to skip town with the proceeds of the robbery and live a free and easy life based on his terrific hair. 'This hair's gonna get me paid and laid,' he eagerly announces."
"What happens?"
–"Well, let's just say that Dorothy Lamour and George Kennedy don't fare so well, but thanks to some ersatz Native American mysticism, they, uh, might get avenged."


"So you're saying the wooden Native American statue comes to life?!"
–"Just watch the damn movie. Next, we got 'The Raft,' which is probably the best segment. Some one-dimensional partytime teens (who are supposed to be students from Horlicks University from 'The Crate') are out and about in the great outdoors."

"What is this, a Jason movie?"
–"No- it's way better. This segment's nearly genius in its simplicity: the kids go for a dip in an isolated mountain lake and find themselves trapped on a raft, far from the shore. Their adversary? A blob-like clump of God-knows-what.


The mise-en-scéne is great: you can almost feel the cold, shimmery water; smell the clean forest air and the pine needles. It's not just the isolation and the stillness, the fact that the setting is so serene and appealing perfectly accentuates the horror- something that I think the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies never quiiiite understood. The gore is ridiculous and the suspense is genuine. Who'd have thunk it– a first-rate tale of terror where the monster is quite obviously a tarp! The ending also features the greatest use of the line 'I...beat...you!' in memory."
"Sounds like this movie's really cookin'!"
–"I'll say. But then the final segment, 'The Hitchhiker,' is a real buzzkill, and my least favorite of the three. A rich lady has a tryst with a gigolo and must hurry home so that her husband doesn't realize she was out. Along the way, she steamrolls a hitchhiker, then flees the scene. Only the hitchhiker ain't done with her yet..."

"The Hitchhiker. The Hitchhiker? Haven't I heard you talk about this before?"
–"Not that Hitchhiker, ya goofus. Regardless, the segment features some over-the-top, DEATH PROOF-style stunts,

some mind-blowing gore,

and a cameo by Stephen King as a bumpkin trucker (!),

but the pacing really drags. And while CREEPSHOW endings are often predictable, they're usually given that extra push of insanity to really put them over the edge (see: 'They're Creeping Up On You' from CREEPSHOW 1). 'The Hitchhiker' certainly has the gore goin' on, but it takes so long to get there, it kind of fizzles out. Ahhh, well."
"What about the frame story? What about the Creep and his awesome, vanity-plated truck? Do we see them again?"
–"Well, it's funny you should mention it, because we sure do. Savini's Creep is driven off into the distance, waving at the camera and flinging CREEPSHOW comic books into the road. Then the credits roll. He just keeps on flinging them as he is slowly, slowly driven into the distance.



Who is driving that truck? Does the Creep have a sidekick? What's the use of littering the highway with CREEPSHOW comics? So that random hitchhikers have reading material? If so, why is he flinging them so haphazardly? He's gonna use up his entire supply on like a quarter-mile stretch of road. Is this an in-joke? In the last movie, Savini played a garbageman. In this one, he plays a litterer. Who knows."
"Sounds like CREEPSHOW 2 leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions."
–"That it does. But it's gross, it's fun, and it goes well with pizza and beer. What the hell else do you want?"
"Nothing else."
–"That's right. Here's to you, CREEPSHOW 2. Three stars."

-Sean Gill

Sean Gill's MUSTACHE PARTY at the LES Film Festival

MUSTACHE PARTY, a short film I made last summer (starring frequent collaborators Jillaine Gill, Rachel Klein, Joe Stipek, and myself) will be screening at the Lower East Side Film Festival on February 10th at 8:00 PM. The screening venue is 'Grand Opening,' and it's situated at 139 Norfolk Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Tickets are $10, and they, along with additional details, are available HERE.

The film can be described as follows: "Four mustachioed individuals await the impending apocalypse as a skeleton pummels a kettle drum and a hairy, Stygian Beast gradually awakens." There's stop-motion, schweet mustaches, and a shroud of existential dread. And a MIDI arrangement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Film Review: CREEPSHOW (1982, George A. Romero)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 120 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Hal Holbrook (THE FOG, MAGNUM FORCE), Adrienne Barbeau (SWAMP THING, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK), Leslie Nielsen (FORBIDDEN PLANET, AIRPLANE!), Ted Danson (THREE MEN AND A BABY, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), Stephen King (director of MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE), Ed Harris (KNIGHTRIDERS, THE RIGHT STUFF), E.G. Marshall (12 ANGRY MEN, TANNER '88), Fritz Weaver (MARATHON MAN, the Savini-directed TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE episode "Inside the Closet"), Carrie Nye (THE GROUP), Gaylen Ross (DAWN OF THE DEAD, MADMAN), Warner Shook (DAWN OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS), Tom Savini, Tom Atkins (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE FOG), Christine Forrest (KNIGHTRIDERS, MONKEY SHINES, wife of George Romero). Written by George A. Romero and Stephen King. Music by John Harrison (director of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE and the DUNE miniseries). Special makeup effects by Tom Savini. Cinematography by Michael Gornick (KNIGHTRIDERS, MARTIN).
Tag-line: "The Most Fun You'll Ever Have... BEING SCARED!"
Best one-liner: "I took care of it. That's why God made fathers, babe. That's why God made fathers."

It's George Romero's TALES OF HOFFMANN. The man combines his two favorite macabre and colorful youthful pursuits: the films of Powell & Pressburger and EC Comics. It's his ode to the morbid entertainments and blood-curdling fantasias that every kid deserves. It's also an ode to Ed Harris freak-dancing, peculiar booze consumption, and the Tom Atkins school of parenting, but more on that stuff in a minute.

CREEPSHOW is great. The tag-line says it all- "The Most Fun You'll Ever Have Being Scared." And I truly defy you not to have a hell of a time while watching this. Just talking about CREEPSHOW makes me want to watch it again. Perhaps I'll invest in a bumper sticker that says "I'd rather be...watching CREEPSHOW."

This is my kind of comic book adaptation: bright colors, Argento lighting, a lurid n' gritty feel: you can see the half-tone newsprint ink splashed on the screen; you can feel the brittle, scratchy pages of the cheap paper stock beneath your fingers.



It recreates that magical page-turning sensation, not knowing what might lay on the next sheet, pretending, in a childish mania, that the ludicrous, mystical mail-in might actually be a working voo-doo doll or X-ray glasses or a ghost-trapped-in-a-can.

And while the visuals are exquisite, the effect is compounded by John Harrison's soundtrack, which is masterful, in a sort of virtuosic, DIY way. Balancing simplistic, atmospheric synth tones; suspenseful, momentum-building piano; purposefully off-key renditions of Americana folk songs (a warped 'Camptown Races' gets some play during "Something to Tide You Over"); and the occasional Satanic chanting, Harrison builds an eerie soundscape that fits EC Comics to a T. His music tells a story- and, interestingly enough, Harrison would end up a storyteller himself, directing many episodes of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE (and the movie!), some TALES FROM THE CRYPT episodes, and co-writing that CGI Disney film, DINOSAUR.

There are five segments total, and each segment builds to that perfect moment of ecstatic fear; an immaculate horror whereupon the rest of the world falls away and you're left with a pure, sensory experience of absolute, comic book terror.



Some deserve the fate so badly you've been rooting for it to happen for the duration. Others are unfortunate bystanders to the atrocities of a cruel, indifferent universe. Life's one big creepshow, alright.

I'd like to get into the segments without giving too much away, so I'll take a quick look at each, individually:

We begin with a frame story, featuring a young boy, Billy (played by Stephen King's son, Joe), who loves all things creepy. His room is adorned with Godzilla dolls, Dracula posters, plastic monsters, the works. His beer-swilling abusive dad (played by the incomparable Tom Atkins!), decides to ruin the kiddie's evening by trashing his Creepshow comic book and smacking him around a little bit,

which is apparently why God made fathers, babe.

Appearing at Billy's window like a freaky guardian angel is the 'Creep' himself, and our young laddie is not frightened, but comforted.


This is our segue into the film proper, but we do receive some resolution later on- and said resolution may or may not involve a peripheral performance by Tom Savini as the 'garbage man.'

The frame story delivers exactly what is expected of it, and as an added bonus, throws in that extremely enjoyable Atkins performance. And that's what CREEPSHOW's all about. Even a diehard Atkins fan might rattle off their ten favorite things about CREEPSHOW, and then when they're finished, they'll say 'Oh shit- and Tom Atkins!' In other words, there's a lot going on- and when you can forget about Tom Atkins in the shuffle, that shuffle must be pretty damned good.

•FATHER'S DAY
The plot in a nutshell: a hateful douche of a dad comes back from the grave (FINNEGAN'S WAKE-style, from some spilt booze!) with a yen for some cake.



It also has Ed Harris. You know, I learned a lot about Ed Harris in CREEPSHOW.

I learned that he applies the same, patented, crazy-eye intensity to disco-dancing as he does to any other activity.

It must also be noted that Elizabeth Regan really holds her own as well, but Jesus- look at Harris! The steely eye contact, the psychotic head bob, the clapping, the boogying, the pure suavitude with which he turns down the volume! Highest marks, Ed. You never disappoint. Even in a minor role like this. There's not too many people I can say that about.

•THE LONESOME DEATH OF JORDY VERRILL
The plot in a nutshell: King's retread of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space," starring King himself as a meteor-discovering local yokel who ends up with a little more verdure in his life than he bargained for.

A lot of people complain about this segment and like to trash King's acting, but it's kind of got a boneheaded genius to it. [He says at one point, "Spell that kinda luck B-A-D" which recalls the "M-O-O-N, that spells moon" motif in THE STAND, a line oft-repeated by the mentally disabled Tom Cullen. So that's probably where King is taking his inspiration from.]

Plus, he drinks Ripple, and you know how I feel about celebrities and low-end fortified wines.

An other special mention must go to John Colicos, who plays the fiendish, amputation-luvin' doctor in Jordy's nightmare fantasy about what might happen if he 'got that checked out by a professional.'

In the end, King actually brings a tangible pathos to the role, and it's the one segment of the six that sort of leaves you feeling depressed. So in a way, the cartoonish (parodic?) quality of acting that precedes the somber conclusion is necessary to keep us from wanting to kill ourselves.


•SOMETHING TO TIDE YOU OVER
The plot in a nutshell: a cuckolded hubby (Leslie Nielsen) gets his kicks via aquatic torture of Ted Danson.

Look at that velvet track suit. The rocks glass resting on his belly. The yuppie home decor. The smug, self-satisfied attitude.

Leslie Nielsen (R.I.P.) is a great villain, and I wish he'd not been exclusively shackled to third-rate comedies in the latter days of his career.

So Nielsen finds out that his old lady (Gaylen Ross, from DAWN OF THE DEAD in a brief appearance) is stepping out with Ted Danson. He devises a heinous form of punishment that combines fear of drowning, fear of being buried alive, and fear of crabs.



Romero ratchets up the claustrophobia (and some nice class commentary), Nielsen ratchets up the villainy, and the gurgly, seaweed-encrusted payoff is damned satisfying.

•THE CRATE
The plot in a nutshell: A sad sack husband and his harpy wife's lives are irrevocably changed by the discovery of a mysterious crate.

This seems to be the consensus' favorite segment, and I call it the "John Carpenter Special." Sure, Carpy didn't actually have anything to do with it, but it A. stars his then-wife and frequent collaborator Adrienne Barbeau, B. stars THE FOG's Hal Holbrook, C. the crate in question (from an Artic expedition) is emblazoned with the name 'Carpenter.'



As our professorial, hen-pecked hubby, Hal Holbrook is terrific. He's got that forlorn little half-smile and the ruffled, unruly eyebrows. He lives much of his life in fantasy sequences, mainly because–

Adrienne Barbeau is his fire-breathing, drunken, loud-mouthed shrew of a wife.

Before you can say "I'll be wearing your balls for earrings," Barbeau is feasting on the scenery and having perhaps the most fun I've ever seen her have in a role.

She adds bourbon to her milk, for chrissakes! She spouts insults like "You're a regular barnyard exhibit- sheep's eyes, chicken guts, piggy friends... and SHIT for BRAINS!" and generally embarasses poor Hal Holbrook all over the place.

Oh, and that small matter of the thing in the crate... let's just say that when it's finally unveiled, it doesn't disappoint...


•THEY'RE CREEPING UP ON YOU
The plot in a nutshell: a Howard Hughes-ish germophobe billionaire is beseiged by an army of cockroaches.

Starring the irascible E.G. Marshall, this one's a classic "tenant vs. monster(s) in a confined space" tale, but since the tenant in question is a malevolent tycoon, we're- for the first time ever- actively rooting for an army of cockroaches.

Now, I've had enough up-close-and-personal encounters with these hateful creatures to accurately say that at one time I was living a Cronenberg movie, so this one definitely got under my skin a little bit, so to speak. I mean, stuff like this and PHASE IV hits a little close to home.

The practical effect (thousands upon thousands of actual roaches, often emerging from small spaces in unison) is staggering, and David A. Brody's roach wrangling abilities deserve our endless respect. (He also wrangled the roaches for the anthology series MONSTERS, John Schlesinger's THE BELIEVERS, and JOE'S APARTMENT). It enrages me to no end that these days they'd just do some lazy CGI and lay to waste the singularly sickening talents of the roach wranglers!

Also of note, the segment's sterile, retro-futuristic imagery (intruded upon by the creeping roaches), full of magnifying lenses and peculiar devices, almost feels like a partial inspiration for Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL (1985)?


The finale's extremely solid as well– it goes exactly where you think it will...and then about ten steps further!

In closing, five stars. Bravo, George. Bravo, Stephen. But as for me, I'd rather be...watching CREEPSHOW.

-Sean Gill