REVIEW: SMALL SOLDIERS

CAST

Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man)
Gregory Smith (The Seeker)
Phil Hartman (The Simpsons)
Denis Leary (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Ann Magnuson (Perfect Strangers)
Jay Mohr (Cherry Falls)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Wendy Schaal (American Dad)
Alexandra Wilson (Diner)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Robert Picardo (Stargate SG.1)
Jackie Joseph (Police Academy 2)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Tommy Lee Jones (Batman Forever)
George Kennedy (The Boston Strangler)
Ernest Borgnine (From Here To Eternity)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy)
Christina Ricci (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Cheri Oteri (Liar Liar)
Rance Howard (Universal Soldier)
Marcia Mitzman Gaven (The Simpsons)

Top defense contractor GloboTech Industries acquires the Heartland Toy Company and as part of the move, Globotech CEO Gil Mars (Denis Leary) tells Heartland toy designers Larry Benson (Jay Mohr) and Irwin Wayfair (David Cross) to develop actual live-action toys capable of “playing back”. Mars selects Larry’s action figures, the Commando Elite, for the project and Irwin’s educational toys, the Gorgonites, for their enemies, with the toyline expected to hit the market in three months. Faced with such a tight deadline, Benson forgoes safety testing, then uses Irwin’s password and chooses GloboTech’s overly powerful X1000 microprocessor to control the toys.Teenager Alan Abernathy (Gregory Smith) signs off for a shipment of the toys at his family’s toy store without his father’s consent. He and delivery driver Joe activate the leaders for each group – Archer (Frank Langella) for the Gorgonites and Chip Hazard (Tommy Lee Jones) for the Commando Elite. Alan’s neighbor and love interest, Christy Fimple (Kirsten Dunst), buys Chip as a birthday present for her brother Timmy. Alan returns home to discover Archer in his backpack; he realizes Archer is sentient, but in the meantime, the Commando Elite awaken and apparently destroy the Gorgonites in the toy store. Alan calls the company and files a complaint. Later, when Larry and Irwin listen to Alan’s voice mail, Irwin is terrified to discover the X1000 was designed for smart munitions guidance; a Globotech engineer reveals the AI circuit is designed to learn over time, but mass production was scrapped due to issues with EMP shielding.

Meanwhile, Chip and his squad pursue Alan to his home and attempt to kill him and Archer; unlike the Gorgonites, the Commando Elite do not understand they are just toys. Alan is attacked by Nick Nitro (Clint Walker), whom he mortally wounds. The next day, Alan and Archer find the rest of the Gorgonites in a dumpster at the shop. At home, Alan learns the primary goal of the Gorgonites is to seek their homeland Gorgon, which they mistakenly believe to be in Yosemite. The Commandos learn of Alan’s interest in Christy and decide to take her hostage, immobilizing the Fimple household to force Alan into surrendering the Gorgonites.Alan and Archer sneak into the Fimple house to save Christy, but runs into her Gwendy dolls, whom Chip has engineered as auxiliary troops. Archer cuts Christy loose from her bonds and together they destroy the Gwendys before escaping with the Commando Elite’s kit-bashed vehicles in hot pursuit, but they are all destroyed during the chase. The two return to his house, only to find her family and his parents waiting for them. Phil (Phil Hartman) refuses to listen to Alan and Christy about what happened. Irwin and Larry arrive and talk to Alan over his voicemail. At that moment, Chip – who survived the chase – attacks the house with a new force of Commando Elites, having hijacked Joe’s shipment and equipped with more improvised vehicles and weapons, and a battle breaks out between the Commandos and the humans inside, cutting off the house’s electricity supply.

Having been guided by Irwin’s advice to create an EMP blast, Alan heads out to force an overload of the power lines; Christy, Irwin and Larry head to the Fimples’ house to turn on all electronic items inside and wedge the power transformers open for a larger surge. The normally peaceful Gorgonites exit the house and fight back against the Commando Elite. Chip flies to the top of the powerline pole to stop Alan, where he briefly battles and defeats Archer, but finds himself thrust by Alan into the powerline, triggering the EMP blast which kills Chip along with all of the remaining Commando Elite. Mars arrives in his helicopter during the police and fire department cleanup the next day. He pays Joe, the Fimples, and the Abernathys for damages as well as buying their silence from the media, and orders Larry and Irwin to prepare the Commando Elite for sale to rebels in South America. Amongst the craziness of the aftermath, Alan and Christy part on highly amicable terms, and Alan later discovers that the Gorgonites have screened themselves from the EMP blast by hiding underneath the Fimples’ large satellite dish. Alan brings the Gorgonites to Yosemite National Park, where he sends them out in a large toy boat from his father’s store to find their island home of Gorgon.

I enjoyed this movie and despite it not being an all time classic I do recommend it as an entertaining family film

 

REVIEW: GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH

CAST

Zach Galligan (Hatchet 3)
Phoebe Cates (Private School)
John Glover (Smallville)
Robert Prosky (Mad City)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Haviland Morris (The Fifth Element)
Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood)
Jackie Joseph (The Split)
Gedde Watanabe (Gung Ho)
Keye Luke (Battle of The Planets)
Hulk Hogan (The Ultimate Weapon)
Kathleen Freeman (As Told By Ginger)
Howie Mandel (Lois & Clark)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Neil Ross (Babe)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)
Julia Sweeney (Pulp Fiction)
Dean Norris (Total Recall)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
John Astin (The Frigteners)
Bubba Smith (Police Academy)

After the death of his owner Mr. Wing (Keye Luke), the mogwai Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) becomes the guinea pig of mad scientists working at Clamp Enterprises, an automatic state-of-the-art office building in Manhattan, run by eccentric billionaire Daniel Clamp (John Glover). At the mercy of the chief researcher Dr. Catheter (Christopher Lee), Gizmo is rescued by his friend Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) and his fiancee Kate (Phoebe Cates), both of whom work at Clamp Enterprises. Clamp quickly befriends Billy upon being impressed by his skills in concept design, also sparking the interest of Billy’s superior Marla Bloodstone (Haviland Morris). Gizmo is left in the office, where water spills on his head and spawns new mogwai, including Mohawk (voiced by Frank Welker), who then has Gizmo locked in the vents. They eat after midnight, turning into gremlins.

After Gizmo finds a way out of the vent, Mohawk tortures him while the other Gremlins cause the fire sprinklers to go off and spawn a Gremlin army that throws the building into chaos. Billy attempts to lure the Gremlins into the lobby, where sunlight will kill them; after Billy briefs Clamp on gremlin knowledge, he inspires Clamp to try to save the city; Clamp, realizing the good PR it will bring, escapes outside through a secret tunnel to cover the front of the building in a giant sheet depicting nighttime to trick the creatures. The Gremlins devour serums in the lab; one becomes the intelligent Brain Gremlin (Tony Randall), who plans to use a “genetic sunblock” serum to immunize the group to sunlight. Another Gremlin turns into a female, while a third becomes pure electricity and, after killing Dr. Catheter, is trapped in Clamp’s answering machine by Billy. All the while “Grandpa Fred” (Robert Prosky) catches the chaos on camera with help from a Japanese tourist named Mr. Katsuji (Gedde Watanabe), broadcasting it to the world; he dreams of being a proper anchorman but only works at Clamp Enterprises as the host of a late night horror show.

Murray Futterman (Dick Miller), Billy’s neighbor from Kingston Falls visiting New York City and still trying to recover from the trauma from the events of the first film, encounters a bat-hybrid Gremlin the Brain Gremlin used the serum on; he covers it with cement, effectively turning it into a gargoyle. Murray realizes that he is not crazy as everyone believed and that he has to help; when Clamp escapes the building using a secret route, Murray uses it to sneak inside the Clamp building to aid Billy. Billy and the chief of security Forster (Robert Picardo) team up, but Forster is stalked and sexually harassed by the female Gremlin who is attracted to him. Mohawk finishes torturing Gizmo and devours a spider serum, transforming into a monstrous half-Gremlin half-spider hybrid. He attacks Kate and Marla, but Gizmo (tired of being bullied, dressed up like Rambo) confronts Mohawk and kills him with an ignited bottle of white-out. Outside the building, a rainstorm frustrates Clamp’s plan as the Gremlins gather in the building’s foyer, singing “New York, New York” as they anticipate all the havoc they’re planning to cause.

Billy formulates a second plan to kill the Gremlin army: having Mr. Futterman spray the army with water and then releasing the electrical Gremlin, electrocuting and killing all of the army including the Brain Gremlin. Clamp charges in with the police and press, but sees the battle is already over; although disappointed he could not take part in the heroism, he is so thrilled by the end result that he gives Billy, Katie, Fred and Marla promotions and hires Mr. Katsuji as a cameraman. Billy and Kate then return home and Gizmo stays with them for good. Forster (covered from head to toe in lipstick marks) calls Clamp, explaining he’s trapped in a restroom with the female Gremlin (the only survivor of the army), and is dismayed when Clamp says it will take hours to rescue him as they clear the building. The female Gremlin’s initial lust reveals itself as a far more intensely passionate love as she approaches Forster in a wedding dress. After much horror and discomfort, Forster eventually gives in.Gremlins 2 is one of the funniest films that you will see. And I’m just a little surprised that Joe Dante isn’t still active so much in the business anymore. He made some great films and I would gladly see anything that he puts his name on.

REVIEW: GREMLINS

CAST

Zach Galligan (Hatchet 3)
Phoebe Cates (Drop Dead Fred)
Hoyt Axon (Retribution)
Frances Lee McCain (Footloose)
Corey Feldman (The Goonies)
Keye Luke (The Mighty Quinn)
Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood)
Jackie Joseph (Police Academy 2)
Polly Holliday (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Judge Reinhold (The Santa Clause)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Howie Mandel (Lois & Clark)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
William Schallert (Innerspace)

Randall Peltzer, a struggling inventor, visits a Chinatown antique store in the hope to find a Christmas present for his son Billy. In the store, Randall encounters a small, furry creature called a mogwai (Cantonese: 魔怪, “monster”). The owner Mr. Wing refuses to sell the creature to Randall, though his grandson secretly sells the mogwai to Randall but tells him to remember three important rules that must never be broken – do not expose the mogwai to bright lights or sunlight which will kill it, do not let it get wet, and never feed it after midnight.

Randall returns home to Kingston Falls where he gives the mogwai to Billy as a pet. Billy works in the local bank, and fears his dog Barney will be put down by Mrs. Deagle. Randall names the mogwai “Gizmo” and Billy makes sure to treat him well. But when Billy’s friend Pete spills a glass of water over Gizmo, five more mogwai spawn from his back, a more troublemaking sort led by the aggressive Stripe. Billy shows one of the mogwai to his former science teacher Mr. Hanson, spawning another mogwai, who Hanson experiments on. Stripe’s gang trick Billy into feeding them after midnight by chewing out the power cord to his bedside clock and transform into cocoons, as does Hanson’s mogwai. Shortly after, their cocoons hatch and they emerge as mischievous, reptilian Gremlins that torture Gizmo and try to murder Billy’s mother, while Hanson is killed by his Gremlin.

All of the Gremlins are killed except Stripe, who escapes to a local YMCA and jumps into a swimming pool, spawning an army of Gremlins who wreak massive chaos around Kingston Falls. Billy tries to warn the police but they don’t believe him. Many people are injured or outright killed by the Gremlins’ rampage, including Mrs. Deagle, who is launched out of her house on a stair lift that has been sabotaged by the gremlins. At the local bar, the Gremlins have fun until the barmaid Kate Beringer, Billy’s girlfriend, flashes them with a camera and escapes into the bank with Billy and Gizmo. While hiding, she reveals her father died in a chimney while dressed as Santa Claus. Billy and Kate discover the town has fallen silent and the Gremlins are watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a theater. They set off an explosion, killing all the Gremlins except Stripe.

Billy chases Stripe into a Montgomery Ward store, where Stripe climbs into a water fountain and tries to spawn more Gremlins. Gizmo arrives in a toy car and opens a skylight, exposing Stripe to extreme sunlight and melting him. In the aftermath of the Gremlins’ rampage, Mr. Wing arrives to collect Gizmo, scolding the Peltzers for their carelessness, thinking the Western world is not ready but comments that Billy might some day be ready to care for Gizmo properly. Gizmo likewise believes so, having become attached to Billy. Mr. Wing departs with Gizmo in tow, while Randall narrates to the audience to check their house if things go wrong, because “there just might be a Gremlin in your house”.Originally a much more evil script (intended to be an anti-Wonderful Life), Chris Columbus was inspired to write Gremlins as he listened to the rats in his apartment scurry about in the dark during the night. He lightened the material somewhat before filming began, but Joe Dante’s wild vision makes it a twisted, festive reality. Gremlins sparked the rise of Chris Columbus as a creative force in Hollywood. Only 25 at the time of filming his career has been made up of classics, and Christmas classics, such as The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Harry Potter, and Bicentennial Man. Joe Dante never scored a bigger hit, but his subsequent career significant;y defined 80s and 90s cinema with movies such as Innerspace, The ‘burbs, Gremlins 2, and Small Soldiers. Goldsmith scoring every one of them until his death in 2004.

REVIEW: THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960)

CAST

Jack Nicholson (Batman)
Jonathan Haze (The Terror)
Dick MIller (Gremlins)
Jackie Joseph (Small Soldiers)

On Los Angeles’s skid row, penny-pinching Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles) owns a florist shop which is staffed by him and his two employees, the sweet but simple Audrey Fulquard (Jackie Joseph) and clumsy Seymour Krelboyne (Jonathan Haze). Although the rundown shop gets little business, there are some repeat customers; for instance, Mrs. Siddie Shiva (Leola Wendorff) shops almost daily for flower arrangements for her many relatives’ funerals. Another regular customer is Burson Fouch (Dick Miller), who eats the plants he buys for lunch. When Seymour fouls up the arrangement of Dr. Farb (John Shaner), a sadistic dentist, Mushnick fires him. Hoping Mushnick will change his mind, Seymour tells him about a special plant that he crossbred from a butterwort and a Venus flytrap. Bashfully, Seymour admits that he named the plant “Audrey Jr.”, a revelation that delights the real Audrey.

From the apartment he shares with his hypochondriac mother, Winifred (Myrtle Vail), Seymour fetches his odd-looking, potted plant, but Mushnick is unimpressed by its sickly, drooping look. However, when Fouch suggests that Audrey Jr.’s uniqueness might attract people from all over the world to see it, Mushnick gives Seymour one week to revive it. Seymour has already discovered that the usual kinds of plant food do not nourish his strange hybrid and that every night at sunset the plant’s leaves open up. When Seymour accidentally pricks his finger on another thorny plant, Audrey Jr. opens wider, eventually causing Seymour to discover that the plant craves blood. After that, each night Seymour nurses his creation with blood from his fingers. Although he feels increasingly listless, Audrey Jr. begins to grow and the shop’s revenues increase due to the curious customers who are lured in to see the plant.
The plant (voiced by writer Charles B. Griffith) develops the ability to speak and demands that Seymour feed it. Now anemic and not knowing what to feed the plant, Seymour takes a walk along a railroad track. When he carelessly throws a rock to vent his frustration, he inadvertently knocks out a man who falls on the track and is run over by a train. Miserably guilt-ridden but resourceful, Seymour collects the body parts and feeds them to Audrey Jr. Meanwhile, at a restaurant, Mushnick discovers he has no money with him, and when he returns to the shop to get some cash, he secretly observes Seymour feeding the plant. Although Mushnick intends to tell the police, he procrastinates by the next day when he sees the line of people waiting to spend money at his shop.
Image result for the little shop of horror 60sWhen Seymour later arrives that morning suffering a toothache, Mushnick sends Seymour to Dr. Farb, who tries to remove several of his teeth without anesthetic to get even with Seymour for ruining Farb’s flowers. Grabbing a sharp tool, Seymour fights back and accidentally stabs and kills Farb. Seymour is horrified that he has now murdered twice and after posing as a dentist to avoid the suspicion of Farb’s masochistic patient Wilbur Force (Jack Nicholson), Seymour feeds Farb’s body to Audrey Jr. The unexplained disappearance of the two men attract the attention of the police and Mushnick finds himself questioned by Sergeant Joe Fink (Wally Campo) and his assistant Officer Frank Stoolie (Jack Warford) (take-offs of Dragnet characters Joe Friday and Frank Smith,[12]). Although Mushnick acts suspiciously nervous, Fink and Stoolie conclude that he knows nothing. Audrey Jr., which has grown several feet tall, is beginning to bud, as is the relationship between Seymour and Audrey (whom Seymour invites on a date).
Image result for the little shop of horror 60sWhen a representative of the Society of Silent Flower Observers of Southern California comes to the shop to check out the plant, she announces that Seymour will soon receive a trophy from them and that she will return when the plant’s buds open. While Seymour is on a date with Audrey, Mushnick stays at the shop to see that Audrey Jr. eats no one else. After trading barbs with the plant when Audrey awakens and requests to be fed, Mushnick finds himself at the mercy of a robber (Charles B. Griffith) that pretended to be a customer the previous day who believes that the huge crowd he had observed attending the shop indicated the presence of a large amount of money. To save his own life, Mushnick tricks the robber into thinking that the money is inside the plant, which then crushes and eats him. Not only does the monstrous plant’s growth increase with this latest meal, but its intelligence and abilities do as well.Image result for the little shop of horror 60sIt intimidates Mr. Mushnick, who is now more terrified than ever, but not so much that he will pass up on the money the plant is bringing in as an attraction. After he is forced to damage his relationship with Audrey to keep her from discovering the plant’s nature, an angry Seymour confronts the plant asserting he will no longer do its bidding just because it orders him. The plant then employs hypnosis on the feckless lad and commands him to bring it more food. He wanders the night streets aimlessly until pursued by a rather aggressively persistent street walker, Leonora Clyde (Meri Welles), intent on making a score. Believing him harmless, she flirts with him to no avail until he inadvertently knocks her out with a rock and carries her back to feed Audrey Jr.
Image result for the little shop of horror 60sStill lacking clues about the mysterious disappearances of the two men, Fink and Stoolie attend a special sunset celebration at the shop during which Seymour is to be presented with the trophy and Audrey Jr.’s buds are expected to open. As the attendees look on, four buds open and inside each flower is the face of one of the plant’s victims. As the crowd breaks out in shock and fright, Fink and Stoolie realize Seymour is their culprit who flees from the shop with the police in hot pursuit. Managing to lose them in a junk yard filled with sinks and toilets with the help of Mushnick who followed along, Seymour eventually makes his way back to Mushnick’s shop. Audrey Jr. demands, “Feed me!” Seymour curses the plant for ruining his life. He grabs a kitchen knife and climbs into Audrey Jr.’s maw, saying, “I’ll feed you like you never been fed before!” Later that evening, Audrey, Winifred, Mushnick, Fink, and Stoolie return to the shop where they discover that Audrey Jr. has begun to wither and die. As Winifred laments over how her son used to be such a good boy, one final bud opens to reveal the face of Seymour, which pitifully moans, “I didn’t mean it!” before drooping over—apparently ending the life of Audrey, Jr.
Image result for the little shop of horror 60sThis is a brilliant film made in a very short low buget. Its fun and quirky and delivers some great lines. Acting is bad but its supposed to be and adds to the satire of the film. Jack Nicolson is chillingly familiar in casting type, a mad funeral director who likes pain.