Pod People

Body Snatchers is an invasion you’ve likely never heard of. I always thought there was just the original and remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. So I had to watch this version as well, that I knew nothing about. Body Snatchers is the only version that bares the name of the book. It’s vastly different from the previous adaptations. Though it does utilizes ideas present in each version. Like the 1956 original, the lead narrates the story and a boy claims that his mother is not his mother. Like the 1978 remake, the “pod people” are naked as their host bodies decompose and they let out a high pitched scream to alert other pods. Aside from those similarities, Body Snatchers now takes place on an army base. Which seems to be suggesting that soldiers are like pods. In the way that both are emotionless drones. An agent of the EPA is sent to the base along with his family. Another change of pace is having the lead be a teenage girl. Marti just wants to be a normal teen, but the invasion happens so fast that it barely registers. Really the only name actors in the movie are R. Lee Ermey and Forrest Whitaker. Both of whom are barely in it. Instead Body Snatchers is more focused on the many people that end up being body snatched. They’re clearly taking more advantage of the R rating by having a lot more naked pod women. The ending is sort of a mix of both downer and hopeful. Everyone Marti loves turns into a pod, but the military is able to blow the pods up. Body Snatchers works best as a more human examination of the invasion.

3. BS

Marti falls asleep

Remake of: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Little High, Little Low!

Stuart Little is the tale of a little mouse with big dreams. It was based on the first children’s book by famed author E.B. White. Though it wasn’t the first to receive a movie adaptation. Stuart Little is one of many beloved movies from my childhood. I saw it in theaters and many times after on VHS. That being said, I never read the book. So I had no idea it was vastly different from the movie. Apparently the Stuart Little in the book is born to human parents and just happens to be small with a mouse appearance. Needless to say the movie makes a lot more sense. You know as much sense as a talking mouse being adopted by human parents can make. Directed by co-director of The Lion King Rob Minkoff and co-written by M. Night Shyamalan (what a twist!), Stuart Little focuses on the Little family. A cheerful little family made up of Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, and 90’s “it kid” Jonathan Lipnicki. While at the adoption agency, the Little’s meet Stuart. An optimistic talking mouse fittingly voiced by Michael J. Fox. His new brother George is less than enthusiastic at first, but he warms up to him eventually. The same can’t be said for their cat Snowbell. Since that makes Stuart a mouse with a pet cat. Nathan Lane is the clear scene stealer voicing the feisty feline. Stuart has many ups and downs, but he always maintains a positive attitude. Whether he’s winning a boat race or dodging a mob of cats in a motorized toy car. Stuart Little goes to show that a little optimism goes a long way.

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Stuart introduces himself

Followed by: Stuart Little 2

Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children

Village of the Damned (1995) is a remake I never knew existed. That’s mostly because my parents always made an effort to show us an original first. So unless a remake was released when I was a kid, I didn’t know about it. Not even legendary director John Carpenter being involved seemed to make it standout. Really the only thing its remembered for is being the last movie performance from Superman himself Christopher Reeve. Before the tragic accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Other than that Village of the Damned (1995) plays out about the same with a couple of key differences. The now American village of Midwich still falls asleep all at once, but the government gets more involved. A doctor closely examines the mysterious pregnancies. Only the children come out looking much more obvious. Their hair is a lot more white than blonde and their eyes glow a more orange color. They’ve also added an unnecessary layer of complexity to them. By having them be exactly 5 boys and 5 girls. Only with David’s intended being a stillborn. Because of that, David is for some reason made to be the only sympathetic child. Instead of the sinister leader that worked so much better in the original. The leader this time is a girl named Mara. She, along with the rest of the children, aren’t nearly as creepy. Due mostly to the fact that they aren’t British. Apart from the added violence and attempted depth, Village of the Damned (1995) doesn’t feel like it was helped by John Carpenter’s style.

3. Village of the Damned

The children use their telepathy

Remake of: Village of the Damned (1960)

Sibling Rivalry

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was for a time the only good sequel in the Halloween franchise. There’s still no comparison to the original, but at least this one gets a lot right. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is exactly as it sounds. It takes place 20 years after the events of Halloween and Halloween II. In fact, the movie completely ignores everything that happened in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Laurie Strode is alive and not so well, she now has a Josh Hartnett son named John instead of a daughter named Jamie, and there’s no mention of all the messy cult stuff. Ignoring the last three films seemed like a good idea considering how bad they were. In Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Laurie lives in California with her son as a headmistress under an assumed name. Since it has been 20 years since the events of the first film, Michael Myers returns to finish his sister off once and for all. Some of the characters like LL Cool J’s are a bit more fleshed out than previous installments. While the tone is slightly more meta and the teens are hipper thanks to the ironic influence of Scream. The best thing about the sequel is definitely the faceoff between Laurie and Michael. It’s a lot more physical then you might expect. SPOILER ALERT! the way she kills him at the end should have capped off the series. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later may have a weird title, (how is the formula for water scary?) but it’s a welcomed return to the roots of the original.

7. Halloween H20 20 Years Later

Michael sees Laurie for the first time in 20 years

Preceded by: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers & Followed by: Halloween: Resurrection

Cult of Thorn

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers should not exist. It was 6 years since Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. A movie that by all accounts should have been enough to kill the franchise. Turns out there’s still more they wanted to do with Michael Myers. Jamie is now older and gives birth to Michael’s grandchild. Which means he has to go after the poor thing. The new protagonist is actually Tommy Doyle, the boy Laurie Strode babysat in the first Halloween. It’s a clever connection and he’s even played by a before he was famous Paul Rudd. It’s just not enough to keep this entry from being both unnecessary and incoherent. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers attempts to answer the question of why Michael Myers can’t seem to die. One that makes as much sense as Dr. Loomis still being alive after having a massive stroke. Apparently some mystical symbol and a vague cult ritual are responsible for Michael’s unkillable nature. The Cult of Thorn is made up of past characters that your not gonna recognize unless your some kind of obsessed fan. SPOILER ALERT! they don’t even tell you if Michael Myers or Dr. Loomis survive in the end. At least it’s notable for being Donald Pleasance final appearance in the franchise before his death. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is a mess that desperately needed to be cleaned up.

6. Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers

Michael fulfills his purpose

Preceded by: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers & Followed by: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Give Me the Pink Elephant!

Darkman is what you get when your unable to secure the rights to Batman or The Shadow. You get an original “superhero” from the mind of Sam Raimi. An R rated story about a man who gets horribly beaten by a gang of criminals, has a life changing operation, gets revenge on the criminals, and eventually confronts the evil businessman responsible. Oh wait that’s Robocop. Well Darkman still has its own unique style. Although it sounds just as dark as every other superhero movie that came out in the 90’s, the tone is actually very campy and darkly comedic. Similar to the Evil Dead movies it’s sandwiched between. In fact, the role was intended for Bruce Campbell, but it ended up going to Liam Neeson instead. Making this his first action role. Darkman is about a scientist named Peyton Westlake who creates a synthetic second skin. A gang led by Durant leaves him horribly burned and disfigured. After which he gains superhuman strength and an immunity to pain, but he also loses his mind. Going on a gleeful quest for revenge that requires the use of his second skin to frame the criminals that wronged him. While at the same time trying to win back his girlfriend Julie. His appearance is like a cross between The Phantom of the Opera and the Invisible Man. As he himself gradually becomes a monster. My parents were actually the ones who introduced me to the movie. They frequently quoted lines that they thought were funny. The most infamous one involving a pink elephant at a carnival. The most impressive action scene involves Darkman swinging from a helicopter. Really a lot of moments are similar to Raimi’s mainstream superhero flick Spider-Man. Darkman is just as underrated as it sounds.

Darkman

Darkman is ever vigilant

The Woodsboro Murders

Scream 2 overcomes the horror movie sequel curse that it’s trying to satirize. Since everyone knows those tend to suck. Unlike with his Nightmare franchise, Wes Craven actually returned to direct. Meaning Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, and Jamie Kennedy would return too. Instead of having an entirely new cast of victims like most sequels do. Sidney and Randy are now in college where they try to move on from “The Woodsboro Murders.” Which is difficult considering Gale just wrote a book about it. Something that gets between her and a now disabled Deputy Dewey. There’s also a newly released movie based on the events called Stab. Just like Scream, Scream 2 has a very chilling opening sequence. One question some viewers might of had about the first movie is, “Where are all the black people?” Well now there’s plenty, including Jada Pinkett-Smith whose killed in a theater packed with people dressed like Ghostface. Kind of in poor taste if you think about it. Well just like in real life, the previous murders inspire a copycat killer. This new Ghostface seems to be killing people in accordance with the names of the previous victims. Buffy herself Sarah Michelle Gellar is one of them. Sidney is so on edge that she even suspects her new boyfriend might be the killer. He almost was but it was drastically altered due to a script leak. Newly exonerated Cotton Weary is also a suspect. According to Randy, the rules to a horror movie sequel are: the body count is bigger, the death scenes are more elaborate, and something about having a successful franchise. SPOILER ALERT! Random creep Mickey is the killer, but he’s not as important as Mrs. Loomis. Out to avenge her son’s death à la Mrs. Voorhees. With more creative kills and wit, Scream 2 is a sequel done fright.

2. Scream 2

Possible Ghostfaces

Preceded by: Scream & Followed by: Scream 3

Do You Like Scary Movies?

Scream wants to know, “Do you like scary movies?” If the answer is yes, then “What’s your favorite scary movie?” Well back in the early 90’s that would have been tough to say. Since genuine horror films were scarce at the time. So just as he did with New Nightmare, horror legend Wes Craven decided to turn the genre on its head. This time by making teenagers well aware of classic horror movies and clichés. I’ve certainly become an expert. Scream has one of the most chilling horror movie openings of all time. Where a mysterious voice on a cellphone calls teenager Casey Becker played by Drew Barrymore. Who is of course the star of the movie… psych! The calls are flirty at first before becoming very sinister, and when she fails to answer horror movie trivia, she’s killed before the title even appears. The real “Scream Queen” is Neve Campbell who plays legendary final girl Sidney Prescott. Her quiet little town of Woodsboro is stalked by a knife wielding maniac. Ghostface is an instant icon wearing a tattered black robe and long white ghost mask. Halloween costumes where unavoidable growing up. Police Deputy Dewey or desperate reporter Gale Weathers aren’t much help. Though romance did spark between David Arquette and Courtney Cox. Sidney is incessantly stalked by Ghostface. So if you want to survive you have to follow Randy’s 3 simple rules: you can never have sex, drink/do drugs, or say “I’ll be right back.” After killing principal Fonz and Ghostface namer Tatum, the killer is revealed to be (SPOILER ALERT!) Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis and his shaggy friend Stu. All for the love of horror movies and an incident involving Sid’s mother. Despite it’s satirical tone, the kills are still effectively terrifying. Scream is the youthful breath of fresh scare that the horror genre needed.

1. Scream

Ghostface goes in for the kill

Followed by: Scream 2

Swanky New Lessons

The Next Karate Kid doesn’t need to exist, but since it does, here it is. Pat Morita is now the last cast member standing since Ralph Macchio bailed out. This time Mr. Miyagi trains a teenage girl in the radical 90’s. Literally the only thing this unnecessary revamp is good for is giving Hilary Swank her first starring role. Before she was a 2 time Oscar winner, Swank was the bratty karate student Julie-san. She’s rebellious because she takes care of an injured hawk. Which has nothing to do with anything and is just plain bizarre, but not as bizarre as a group of ruthless teen security guards picking on Julie. Mr. Miyagi for some reason ends up looking after Julie when he swaps houses with her grandmother. She refuses to “Wax on, wax off,” so he instead teaches her karate at a buddhist monastery. Most of which feels like leftover martial arts lessons that they couldn’t fit into the previous films. He also teaches her how to dance. Followed by an even weirder monk bowling sequence. In the end, Julie frees the bird, fights the bully, and gets the boy. The Next Karate Kid is just as pointless as it sounds, but at least Hilary Swank makes an impression.

5. The Next Karate Kid

Mr. Miyagi meets Julie-san’s hawk

Preceded by: The Karate Kid Part III

I Don’t Care

U.S. Marshals is the spin-off to The Fugitive no one knows exists. Probably because it’s not titled The Fugitive 2. Even though it practically follows the same exact story. Only with slightly more focus on Sam Gerard and his colorful crew of U.S. Marshals. Really a spin-off was most likely only made to squeeze more out of Tommy Lee Jones’ Oscar winning character. They lost their credibility the second they put Jones in a chicken suit. From there nearly every beat is the same as The Fugitive. Another wrongfully convicted individual goes on the run after a crash and attempts to avoid being arrested while uncovering the truth. Wesley Snipes is that fugitive, but the difference between him and Kimble is that we don’t know if he’s really innocent. Making it really difficult to care if he makes it or not. The crash this time occurs on a plane. It’s bigger, not better. There’s even another cornering scene that’s not as good. Really the only difference is that Gerard is joined by a DSS agent played by Robert Downey Jr. So basically Iron Man assists Two-Face in trying to capture Blade. All of it ends with another twist that sort of comes out of nowhere. Without an already great story to stand on, U.S. Marshals is just a less satisfying chase with no one to sympathise with.

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U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard takes aim

Spin-Off of: The Fugitive