Week 1: The Stuff, Monster in the Closet
Last Week: Adisaya Piravi, Turkish Star Wars.
Don't worry if you missed Turkish Star Wars, from the reception I think I'll probably show it again, those who have seen the film can testify to what a strange, life changing experience it is.
This week: It Came from the 80's: Vol. 2
Rated PG-13 95 Min
Pulse is a pretty inventive take on the sci-fi/horror genre, though it is not to be confused with Kairo, a
Japanese film remade in the US as Pulse, which is a very important horror film in its own right. This isn’t nearly in the same league. It stars a young Joey Lawrence and his brother Matthew, oddly enough not playing brothers. While the film is quite misguided, it does make some rather interesting choices, and is particularly adept at giving us red herrings, one of which can be seen as a direct influence for The Ring.
This is the sole feature film directed by Paul Golding, who also wrote the film. Golding was the writer for all of George Lucas’ student projects at USC, and was an important figure in the New Hollywood movement.
Trivia( sorry, can’t find a lot on this film)
Myron Healey, who plays Howard, has 280 credits to his name, from 1943 to his death in 2005. He was also a bombadeer in WWII
Joey Lawrence dated Katherine Heigl in 2000.
Matthew Lawrence: His favorite fast-food restaurant is Pizza Hut. (Seriously, that was the first listed on IMDB)
Connecting the two films:
Features footage from Starman (1984) , which was directed by John Carpenter, who’s first big film was Dark Star (1974) which was written by Dan O’Bannon, who wrote Invaders from Mars.
Invaders from Mars (1986)
PG 100 min ( I swear I've seen an R rated version of this, and I've found posters online with it listed as R, though it appears that the only version in circulation today is the UK cut which was rated PG)
No name in film history has had the prolific power to strike paralyzing fear and dread into the souls of film critics and movie goers like, as did Cannon films in the 1980's. Like it’s contemporary Troma, Cannon films followed a production model of buying low-budget, bottom of the barrel scripts, and putting them into production . However, while Troma made their films quite aware of their own awfulness, and ill-mannered taste, often to impressive Brechtian levels, Cannon films were quite serious.
Cannon was a co-production of Israeli producers Menahem Golan, and his cousin Yoram Globus. In the video-hungry mid-80's Cannon found a good amount of success, and brought us the (sic)venerable talent of Chuck Norris, who became a (sic) star from his 10 cannon collaborations, and the rebirth of Charlie Bronson’s career with a dozen action films, half of witch were Death Wish sequels.
Their film output brought us such craptacular titles as Breakin 1, Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo, the American Ninja series, Masters of the Universe, Superman IV, and the notorious The Apple. Roger Ebert said of Golan-Globus in 1987, the year Cannon reached their apex of output, "No other production organization in the world today has taken more chances with serious, marginal films." These “chances” included two of my childhood favorites, Puss n’ Boots, and the Allen Quartermain series, which was Chuck Norris in an Indy Jones rip off, a large amount of teen sex comedies, prison films, action/exploitation, and even a fair amount of soft porn. That same year (1987) was also the year Cannon crashed. They invested a ton of money into Masters of the Universe, selling it as the next Star Wars, and banked on van Damme and Dolph Lundgren becoming the next action stars.
For those of you Spiderman fans, Cannon going bankrupt was a blessing, as the studio held the rights to make Spiderman, and had pegged the director of Missing in Action and Invasion USA to helm it, though Cannon went bankrupt before it could go intro production. In 1990 the cousins split on horrendous terms after, I kid you not, they put rival films into production to cash in on the short lived Lambada craze.
If the cannon label is not enough to strike fear into a viewer, than the fact that Invaders from Mars is a remake of a 1950's b-sci-fi classic shouldn’t help either. However, the talent involved in this strange film is enough to recommend it. It was directed by Tobe Hooper, who directed the best horror film ever (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), and had just come off of Poltergiest to start a series of career killers with Cannon. It’s screenwriter, Dan O’Bannon wrote Alien, and the film features an unprecedented amount of reclusive actors. Included is a great over the top performance in a rare appearance by Louise Fletcher who gave one of the all-time great acting performances as Nurse Ratchet in Cookoos nest, the now iconic Bud Cort (Harold and Maude), the vastly underrated Karen Black, and Hunter Carson. Who’s Hunter Carson? First, his other starring role was in Paris, Texas, which is one of my very, very, very favorite films. Second, he’s the son of Karen Black and LM Kit Carson. Who’s LM Kit Carson? He’s a talented Texas writer, who adapted Paris, Texas, and in 1994 championed a little short film by some family friends called “Bottle Rocket.” He later produced the film which launched the careers of Wes Anderson and the Brothers Wilson.
So, what do we get with all of this talent? Like all other Cannon releases a near surreal mixture of unintentionally bad dialogue, effects on the cheap, and some rather strange plot choices. The ending is also perplexing, as you’ll see, for many reasons. It is also interesting to view the film in terms of it being a remake of a paranoid 1950's anti-intellectual film, made during the height of the Reagan administration.
A Link to the Cannon films Appreciation Society