From Fat to Fit

The Nutty Professor (1996) is the even bigger remake of the 1963 original. In more ways than one. It’s also the version I mostly grew up on. Rather than just redo what came before, Jerry Lewis gave Eddie Murphy the ok to put his own personal stamp on the remake. So instead of being too nerdy, Professor Sherman Klump has a weight problem. Despite his attempts to lose weight and gain self confidence, hecklers like Dave Chappelle keep reminding him how he looks. So Professor Klump mixes a serum that allows him to lose all his weight. This Buddy Love is athletic and confident enough to ask out Carla Purty. She’s now a chemistry graduate played by Jada Pinkett before she got Smithed. The Nutty Professor (1996) is the perfect display of Eddie Murphy’s comedic range. As he plays a grand total of 7 different characters. All accomplished with Academy Award winning makeup and fat suits. Murphy plays the kind hearted Professor, the loud and aggressive Buddy, his flatulent father, his cheerful mother (“Hercules, Hercules, Hercules”), his sex obsessed grandmother, his tough brother, and even a parody of Richard Simmons. The dinner scene is the funniest scene in the movie. It can get a little gross at times, but it’s still one of the only fart jokes I laugh at. Instead of the truth coming out at a dance, Buddy is instead brought to a science demonstration by the hilarious Dean. After a bizarre body changing sequence Sherman gives a similar speech about accepting oneself. The Nutty Professor (1996) is definitely a nuttier remake that’s just as funny as the original.

THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, Jada Pinkett, Eddie Murphy, 1996, (c)Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collec

Professor Sherman Klump and Ms. Purty dine at The Scream

Remake of: The Nutty Professor (1963) & Followed by: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

The Griswold’s Are Going to Vegas

Vegas Vacation is just a lazy vacation nobody asked for. Out of the four Vacation movies, this is the only one to be neither written by John Hughes nor have National Lampoon in its title. The biggest problem is a lack of originality and tired performances. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo aren’t trying nearly as hard as before. Plus the idea of taking the Griswold’s to Las Vegas could’ve had potential in a better movie. Specifically one with an R rating. It made sense to make Christmas Vacation PG-13 (still don’t get European Vacation), but Vegas Vacation is PG for crying out loud. Vegas is full of nudity, drugs, and/or debauchery. Really it’s the only installment that would’ve made sense with an R rating. Instead Clark, Ellen, and the kids are just sorta hanging out doing their own misadventures. Clark loses money, Ellen flirts with Wayne Newton, Rusty gets lucky, and Audrey wants to be a stripper or something. Cousin Eddie also returns in a less memorable way. Although I will say that I appreciate the joke about Clark hardly recognizing the kids. Now played by Ethan Embry and Marisol Nichols. Plus Christie Brinkley returns for a cameo. The rest of Vegas Vacation is not worth the trip.

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The Griswold’s spend in Vegas

Preceded by: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Welcome to the Rock

The Rock is the closest thing to a genuinely good Michael Bay movie there is. Every single movie he’s directed has a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes except The Rock. Granted it’s just a 66%, but that’s still saying something for one of the worst directors working today. His movies have always been entertaining, but only if you’re willing to turn off your brain. The Rock actually has a good set up and the Bayhem isn’t the only draw. Which is of course just as loud, bombastic, and constant as all his later work. The Rock refers to the island prison Alcatraz. On it several hostages are taken by a group of rogue U.S. Recon Marines. Lead by Brigadier General Frank Hummel played by Ed Harris. His plan to release deadly rockets full of toxic gas unless he gets $100 million is pretty villainous, but his reason for doing it isn’t completely sinister. Chemical weapons specialist Dr. Stanley Goodspeed is tasked with defusing the weapon. He’s a desk jockey prone to the occasional Nicholas Cage outburst. Former Alcatraz inmate John Mason is also tasked with stopping him. Since he’s the only man to ever escape the island. He’s one of Sean Connery’s last good performances before retirement. Their mission takes them from the rooftops to the sewers with plenty of explosions in between. I may not have been able to completely follow The Rock the first time, but there’s no denying it’s one of the most action packed action movies of the 90’s.

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Mason and Goodspeed examine a chemical weapon

Chucky Gets Lucky

Bride of Chucky drops the “child” part of its title and makes things much more adult. By giving Chucky an equally psychotic bride. My mom actually warned us against watching it for that reason. Since it’s much more bloody and sexual. After Child’s Play 3 failed to keep the franchise going, it was time for a radical change of pace. Bride of Chucky begins one month after Chucky was shredded in an amusement park. His remains are recovered by Tiffany Valentine, who turns out to be Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend who was never mentioned until this point. Taking obvious cues from Bride of Frankenstein (they even show her watching the movie), Bride of Chucky turns Tiffany into a killer doll as well. As a human, Tiffany seems like nothing more than a criminal’s bimbo girlfriend, but she’s actually more deadly than she looks. As a doll, Tiffany has bleach blonde hair, too much makeup, a white wedding dress, and a black leather jacket. This time around Chucky has a stitched up face. Not a bad look, but it’s a little obvious. Which is what makes Bride of Chucky so different. It’s much more meta. With jokes made about the movie’s themselves and even references to other horror franchises. Jennifer Tilly’s natural soft spoken voice makes her perfect for Tiffany and her banter with Chucky is the best part of the movie. Unfortunately the rest of it is too generic slasher movie. With forgettable teenage protagonists Jade and Jesse. Bride of Chucky makes far better use of its new killer couple.

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Chucky and Tiffany go in for the kill

Preceded by: Child’s Play 3 & Followed by: Seed of Chucky

Look Who’s Stalking

Child’s Play 3 takes things to a very unlikely location for a horror movie, military school. Although it was released a year after Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3 takes place 8 years later. Chucky is reborn once again after being a mere exploded hunk of plastic. Since his blood entered the machinery. Chucky tracks down a now 16 year old Andy enrolled in military school. Andy is still haunted by the past, but trying to move on and maybe get a girlfriend. So it basically becomes Full Metal Jacket with a killer doll in the background. Not that there isn’t at least one kid in the movie. A black kid named Tyler that Chucky now plans to possess. In some ways it seems like Child’s Play 3 was just made too fast. You can tell that Chucky’s overall design has gotten a lot uglier. Military school is an interesting change of pace, but it defeats the purpose of calling it a slasher movie if the killer uses a gun. While the carnival climax is a bit more fitting, it does seem kind of last minute. Child’s Play 3 is also tragically linked to a horrific true crime story. I would agree that since I was still young at the time, parts of the sequel started to become too much for me. Child’s Play 3 is no laughing matter.

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Chucky breaks out the shaver

Preceded by: Child’s Play 2 & Followed by: Bride of Chucky

Sorry Jack… Chucky’s Back!

Child’s Play 2 is one of a few genuinely effective slasher movie sequels. Two years after Chucky was burned, dismembered, and shot through the heart, the idiotic PlayPals Company responsible for “Good Guys” have him rebuilt. Thus giving Chucky new life. The events of Child’s Play also negatively affect Andy’s life. His mom is sadly institutionalized and Andy is left in foster care, but he can’t help but to feel like Chucky is not too far behind. Which he is even though no one believes him. Chucky once again plans to swap his soul with Andy, but he might not be so successful this time around. Child’s Play 2 isn’t just the same thing all over again. Chucky is a lot more ruthless and creative in his kills this time. He uses weapons like a classroom yardstick and a knife for a hand. Some of the images in the sequel are just as iconic as the original. Plus the humor has gotten much more over-the-top. Not that it can’t still be a little creepy. Child’s Play 2 also introduces final girl Kyle. Andy’s foster sister who helps him fight back against Chucky. Everything eventually leads to a final confrontation in the “Good Guys” doll making factory. I was still pretty young when I saw the sequel, and even though it’s much more intense, I still watched it just as much as the original. Child’s Play 2 shows that Chucky ain’t playing around.

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Chucky breaks out the yardstick

Preceded by: Child’s Play & Followed by: Child’s Play 3

Super Ripley

Alien Resurrection resurrects the Alien franchise, but only slightly. Like Alien³, I didn’t bother seeing Alien Resurrection when I was younger. Even though it’s not nearly as bad. My parents simply told us it was icky. Alien Resurrection refers to Ripley. Who was annoyingly killed off at the end of Alien³. 200 years later, she’s cloned in order to bring back the Xenomorphs for military purposes. Since a queen alien was inside her. The process gives her superhuman abilities including strength, reflexes, acid blood, and a psychic link with the aliens. Don’t worry, it gets weirder. The crew/cast this time is a group of mercenaries recruited by the military. The only ones worth mentioning are one in a wheelchair and another played by Ron Perlman. There’s also 90’s mainstay Winona Ryder as Call. She’s revealed to be a highly advanced android. The aliens aren’t that much different than the original. They most notably kill their own in order to use its acid blood and swim around. Not that there isn’t another alien variation. The ickiness really kicks in when the also mutated queen alien gives human-like birth to a disgusting alien/human hybrid called a “Newborn.” Something Ripley’s bizarrely affectionate towards. Until she throws it into deep space in an overly graphic way. Sigourney Weaver’s unusual performance is fine, but she’s definitely not the Ripley we used to know. While the director isn’t noteworthy, Alien Resurrection was written by Joss Whedon. Proving that he wasn’t always a master writer. Alien Resurrection is watchable, but style is clearly more important to them than substance.

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Call encounters the Newborn

Preceded by: Alien³ & Prometheus

Acid in the Face

Alien³ does everything in its power to insult fans of the previous Alien films. I’ve known for a long time that Alien³ was a movie that my parents genuinely hate. That’s why I ignored it when I was younger, only seeing it later as an adult. Since it’s one of a few movies my parents considered walking out of. SPOILER ALERT! Alien³ kills off beloved characters Hicks and Newt within the first few minutes. So what’s the point of sticking around after that? Ripley and an egg containing a queen are the sole survivors of a crash that lands them on an all male prison planet. Meaning Alien³ is the only movie in the Alien quadrilogy that doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. While there, Ripley is isolated and has her head shaved. It brings down the progress Sigourney Weaver made severely. The only crew/cast is a small group of prisoners. The only interesting thing we learn about the Xenomorph is that the host determines the form of the alien. A facehugger attaches itself to a dog and becomes a dog alien. A slender creature that runs on all fours. The only thing I can call good about Alien³ is the iconic shot of Ripley with an alien next to her face. She isn’t killed because she has an alien growing inside her. In the end, Ripley dies by leaping into a fiery furnace with chestburster in hand. Like most franchise movies that are this terrible, Alien³ suffered from rewrites and studio meddling. So you can’t really blame first time director David Fincher too much. That being said, Alien³ is still a gloomy, overly depressing, orange colored mess.

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A Xenomorph gets dangerously close to Ripley

Preceded by: Aliens & Followed by: Alien Resurrection

Concrete Jungle

Predator 2 turns up the heat for a sequel now set in an urban jungle. Unlike the first Predator, I definitely shouldn’t have seen Predator 2 at such a young age. My dad got us the movie on VHS and I think he didn’t realize how much graphic nudity was in it. Victims are stripped naked instead of skinned for some reason. Despite releasing in 1990, Predator 2 is set 10 years after the events of the first movie. 1997 Los Angeles is currently dealing with an increase in drug and gang activity during a heat wave. One that draws the attention of a new predator. Only this one is equipped with even more weapons. Along with the ones seen previously, the predator now has a spear, a net cannon, and a throwing disc. Kevin Peter Hall once again plays the titular hunter. Since Arnold didn’t want to return, Danny Glover now plays the lead. He’s up to the task, but not quite the same physical match. Glover plays a cop named Harrigan who crosses paths with the predator along with his crew/cast of fellow cops. Bill Paxton plays a cop that ends up getting killed by the predator. Meaning he bares the distinction of being killed by a terminator, an alien, and a predator. Gary Busey plays an agent with knowledge of the predator’s alien origins. Harrigan’s fight with the predator takes them all the way to its ship. Where a Xenomorph skull is seen (more on that later). The predator is killed and an elder predator comes to reward him with a trophy. Along with its over-the-top nature, my biggest problem with Predator 2 is that it just goes too far in a genetically gruesome direction.

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The Yautja looms over the city

Preceded by: Predator & Followed by: Predators

Carrie’s Half Sister

The Rage: Carrie 2 is the only forced sequel made for Carrie. Considering Carrie’s death at the end of the first film, there was no point in making a sequel. Stephen King never made a follow up and it was already 3 decades old. Which is why I’m certain it was only referred to as Carrie 2 just to attract more people to it. Apart from the lead having telekinesis, clips of the 1976 movie, and the return of Sue Snell, it’s barely worth seeing. Amy Irving now plays an older Sue Snell who works as a school counselor. She discovers that Rachel’s power is the result of her being the fraternal half sister of Carrie. Although her power is far less impressive than the original. Since some of it is shot in black & white and uses bad CGI. As a 1999 teen movie, the dialogue is often cringy too. The Rage centers around goth outcast Rachel Lang after the suicide of her best friend Lisa, played by a busy Mena Suvari. When a popular jock starts dating her, it leads to a similar sequence of Rachel snapping and killing everyone who wronged her. Only with modern technology and too many jokes. They also kill Sue, which really annoyed me. The Rage: Carrie 2 fills me with rage and regret for having watched it.

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Rachel snaps

Preceded by: Carrie