1985 / Director. Walter Hill
To my delight I came across a copy of Brewster's Millions in a bargain bin for $2. Score! It has been years since I've seen it but watching it again the other night, I realised that I knew it well. I'm pretty sure I had a copy taped off the TV on VHS (commercials included) as a kid and I obviously watched it enough to feel a sense of nostalgia all these years later. Richard Pryor was at the height of his career then this movie was made. He had already made a string of hits and when Brewsters Millions came along he was a bankable name. He plays a down on his luck minor league baseball player who stands to inherit $300M. The catch is that to claim this fortune he must spend $30M in 7 days without retaining any assets... and so it's a fairly generic comedy, but with John Candy by his side and a great cameo from Hume Cronyn, the movie works. It plays out very much like any of the Adam Sandler movies of today, only this shows you how TO do it. It's got a great mid 80's aesthetic that puts it in good company with the likes of Trading Places and Splash. Walter Hill directs with Joel Silver and Laurence Gordon producing... it's somewhat of a departure from their usual action movies... also, few people know that Brewster's Millions is one of several adaptations based on a novel from the early 1900's. I haven't seen any of those but I think the contemporary setting of this version works well, particularly with the state of corporate greed going on in the States at the time... And so anyway, for a $2 find, Brewster's Millions is a winner!
2002 / Jim Hanon
Beyond The Gates of Splendor is an eye opening, heart-warming and life affirming documentary telling the story of 5 families and their connection with the Huaorani people. The Huaorani's were notorious for being the most violent people on Earth, who were feared by every other tribe within the Amazonian region. In the mid 50's five missionary families relocated to the jungles of Ecuador and in 1956 the five men decided to make contact with the Huaoranis. Tragically the five men never returned and were speared to death. The story made headlines back in America but amazingly the women and children remained in Ecuador, determined to continue the work their husbands started. And so they walked into the Huaoranis' territory, made contact and performed the miraculous feat of changing an entire culture. Within months the tribe abandoned it's traditions of killing and with a greater understanding of the world around them, they became a gentle and friendly people. Amazingly the very tribes-men who killed their husbands became protective figures to these American women and children and an unbreakable bond formed that exists to this day. This is an incredible story and the film is made all the more powerful with the abundance of footage used. The five men who were slain took film and photos right up to the point of death and their equipment was later found and salvaged. Candid interviews with the wives, children and tribes-people make the film very unique. It puts life in perspective and emphasises that mankind is one, regardless of culture. This film engaged me deeply and I have just learned that a companion feature film was made, called End Of The Spear. It was directed by the same guy and I guess I'll be hunting it down. Definitely see this is you get the chance.
1993 / Director. Charles Band.
Continuing my Charles Band series of write-ups I revisited Dollman Vs Demonic Toys today. This sequel blends 3 of the Full Moon franchises into one. The stories and characters from Dollman, Demonic Toys and Bad Channels all meet up for a pretty lame encounter where the toys, again, attempt to resurrect their demon master and the Dollman and shrunken Ginger (from Bad Channels) must stop them. When discussing Charles Band's movies it's important to approach them on a different level. They're the schlockiest brand of B-movie and a child-like enthusiasm needs to be employed... sadly for this instalment, these far-fetching suspensions of disbelief are put to the ultimate test. The damn movie runs for a measly 55 minutes... that doesn't even constitute a feature. It's a short. Furthermore a large portion of it includes flash-back footage from all three previous films. Each character's back story is re-shown and the movie assumes that the audience is new. What's left is about 40 minutes of new footage thats poorly executed (even for this brand of flick). I'm a glutton for pain because I have admittedly seen this a few times... in hope that one day my mind will change; no luck yet. Its like watching Honey I Shrunk The Kids without the fun and packed with filthy language. The movie gets a real kick out of itself and the leader of the Demonic Toys spurts off a slew of obscenities, which I think we're supposed to find hilarious. It's more cringeworthy, though.
1992 / Director. Charles Band.
Feeding my recent appetite for shlocky B-movies, its time to visit Demonic Toys. This is another little gem from Charles Band and his Full Moon productions. Like his already-established Puppet Master franchise he has created another bunch of killer toys which terrorise five people trapped in a haunted warehouse. They've been brought to life by an evil entity that's possessed the body of a child. Obviously the movie has a facetious nature about it but it's also quite violent. It's a much nastier movie compared with Puppet Master. These toys talk and their methods of killing are relished. Eyeballs are gouged and flesh is stripped from faces... the toy creations are fun, albeit stupid and the movie strives for something more... respected Hollywood writer/director David S Goyer (Dark Knight, Man Of Steel) penned this one and there's clearly a great talent desperate to break through. He understands the audience and appeals to the gore-hounds. The Demonic Toys franchise continues with a couple of cross over movies (Dollman & Puppet Master) as well as an official part 2. I will no doubt write about them soon too. I love Charles Band and the brand of horror he makes. Its low grade, corny and super fun. I find people's criticisms of his work redundant and ignorant. Watching them is like going to a carnival and eating fairy-floss (cotton candy) and corn dogs. Its rubbish, but yum!