REVIEW: RED HEAT

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Red Sonja)
Jim Belushi (K-9)
Ed O’Ross (Dick Tracy)
Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond)
Gina Gershon (Killer Joe)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Richard Bright (The Godfather)
Brent Jennings (Moneyball)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Terminator 2)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Brion James (Enemy Mine)
Peter Jason (48 Hours)

Christine Carlson (Linda Blair), an American college student, travels to West Germany to visit her fiancé Mike (William Ostrander), who is serving in the US Army there. She tries to convince him to marry her promptly, but he chooses to delay marriage in order to re-enlist. Distraught by Mike’s decision, Christine takes a late-night walk where she witnesses a kidnapping by the East German Stasi and gets kidnapped herself as well. She is transported to the East Zone, where she is brutally interrogated by the Stasi, forced to admit to false charges of espionage, and thrown into a women’s prison with the common criminals, including the gang leader Sofia (Sylvia Kristel), who is the prisoners’ “top bitch” and has de facto control of the entire prison population. Sofia takes pleasure in brutally tormenting and harassing Christine, until the latter loses her patience and fights Sofia in a no-holds-barred brawl. Meanwhile, Mike is determined to free his beloved, and tries to get the US Army and the West German BND to help him. At first they refuse, but ultimately they reluctantly go along with his plans and help him free Christine.Not the funniest comedy or the best action movie, not even the best movie featuring either of the leads, but undemanding fun from the late 80s.

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REVIEW: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)

CAST

Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies))
Vincent Gardenia (Moonstruck)
Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Tichina Arnold (Wild Hogs)
Jim Belushi (Red Heat)
John Candy (Spaceballs)
Christopher Guest (The Princess Bride)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
Miriam Margolyes (Babe)
Stanley Jones (Super Friends)
Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf)
Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) and his colleague, Audrey (Ellen Greene), work at Mushnik’s Flower Shop, lamenting they cannot escape the slums of New York City, living in a run-down, rough neighborhood referred to as “Skid Row.” Struggling from a lack of customers, Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) prompts to close the store, only for Audrey to suggest displaying an unusual plant Seymour owns. Immediately attracting a customer, Seymour explains he bought the plant, which he dubbed “Audrey II”, from a Chinese flower shop during a solar eclipse. Attracting business to Mushnik’s shop, the plant soon starts dying, worrying Seymour. Accidentally pricking his finger, he then discovers Audrey II needs human blood to thrive.

Audrey II continues to grow rapidly and Seymour becomes a local celebrity. Seymour soon attempts to ask Audrey out, but she turns him down because she has a date with her sadistic, mean-spirited dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin). Despite this, Audrey is interested in Seymour, as well as dreams of marrying him and escaping Skid Row. After Seymour closes up shop, Audrey II (Levi Stubbs) begins to talk to Seymour, demanding more blood than Seymour can give. The plant proposes Seymour murder someone in exchange for fame and fortune: Seymour initially refuses, but agrees upon witnessing Orin beating Audrey.
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After Orin was finished with his patient, Arthur Denton (Bill Murray), who requested “a long, slow, root canal”, Seymour books an appointment with Orin and arms himself with a revolver: however, he cannot bring himself to use it. Orin, who abuses nitrous oxide, puts on a type of venturi mask to receive a constant flow of the gas. Accidentally breaking an intake valve and unable to remove the mask, Orin begs Seymour for help removing it, but as Seymour just stands there. When Orin asks Seymour what he ever did to him, Seymour coldly replies, “Nothing, it’s what you did to her.” Orin dies from asphyxiation and Seymour drags his body back to Audrey II. While dismembering the body for the plant, Seymour is unknowingly witnessed by Mushnik, who flees in fear.
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After feeding Orin’s parts to Audrey II, Seymour discovers the police investigating Orin’s disappearance. Audrey, feeling guilty about wishing Orin would disappear, is comforted by Seymour and the two admit their feelings for each other. That night, Mushnik confronts Seymour about what he saw and holds Seymour at gunpoint, threatening to report him to the police. Mushnkik then attempts to blackmail Seymour, giving the option to flee the country in exchange for the ownership of the plant. With no choice, Seymour steadily backs him towards the plant, which swallows Mushnik whole.
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Despite widespread success, Seymour worries about Audrey II’s growth and unstable appetite. Offered money and a contract for a botany TV show, Seymour plans to escape Skid Row with Audrey using the money, leaving the plant to starve. After Audrey accepts Seymour’s marriage proposal, Audrey II catches Seymour leaving and demands another meal: Seymour agrees, but insists on meat from a butcher. While Seymour is gone, the plant calls Audrey, coaxes her into the shop, and then tries to eat her. Seymour, returning in time to save Audrey, escapes the store with her. Explaining that he fed the plant to become successful and win Audrey’s heart, Seymour discovers she has always loved him. Approached by an executive from a botanical company named Patrick Martin (James Belushi), Seymour is offered a contract to breed Audrey II and sell the saplings worldwide. Seymour drives Martin away, and realizes he must destroy Audrey II for the sake of humanity.
2Returning to the shop, Seymour learns that Audrey II is actually an alien from outer space. Audrey II traps Seymour and destroys the shop, but Seymour grabs an exposed electrical cable and electrocutes Audrey II. Leaving the destroyed shop, Seymour safely reunites with Audrey. The two wed and move to the suburbs: arriving at their new home, which is the one seen in Audrey’s daydreams, a smiling Audrey II bud can be seen among the flowers in their front yard.
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Little Shop of Horrors is so amazingly special and unique, that viewing it almost transports you to another world. It’s quite possibly the best film representation of a stage musical ever made–the sets are perfect, the casting is perfect, the music is perfect, and everything else about the film is perfect

REVIEW: LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN

CAST

Lea Michele (Scream Queens)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Jim Belushi (Red Heat)
Kelsey Grammer (Bad Neighbours 2)
Tracey Adams (American Horror Story)
Michael Kravic (Ghosts of Mars)
Martin Short (Mars Attacks)
Bernadette Peters (Annie)
Oliver Platt (2012)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Megan Hilty (The Good Wife)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Richard Steven Horvitz (Power Rangers)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad)
Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)

In the Land of Oz, the Emerald City’s co-leaders the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion discover that an evil Jester has stolen the broomstick of the late Wicked Witch of the West and taken control over the Flying Monkeys. With Oz’s future at stake, the Scarecrow decides to use his invention called the Rainbow Mover to summon Dorothy Gale to save the kingdom again. But flying monkeys invade the castle and force the trio out the window.

In Kansas, Dorothy’s farm has been wrecked by a tornado, leaving it in disrepair. A sleazy man claiming to be a government appraiser arrives and condemns the farmhouse, handing the Gales an eviction notice. Dorothy discovers people all across town have been handed the same notices and are moving on. Dorothy and Toto encounter a rainbow which abducts them, transporting them to Oz, but not to the Emerald City as intended.

Dorothy meets Wiser, an overweight but intelligent owl who cannot fly. They enter Candy Country, where everything is made out of confectionery including the people. They are promptly arrested by Marshal Mallow for breaking the “no eating anything made of candy rule” due to the Jester tampering with the signs and taken before a court presided over by Judge Jawbreaker. When Judge Jawbreaker finds them guilty, the lollipop stenographer asks for their names to put on the death certificates. Upon realizing who Dorothy is, Judge Jawbreaker drops the charges of eating candy and releases her and Wiser. under the suggestion of Judge Jawbreaker, Mallow joins the group on their way to the Emerald City as a promise he made to find the missing General Candy Apple. Meanwhile, Glinda confronts the Jester in his castle, who has attached his sister’s crystal ball to her broomstick, creating a magic staff which he has used to turn Oz’s leaders (with General Candy Apple among them) into subservient marionettes. Glinda also falls victim to this as well.

Dorothy’s company enter the Dainty China Country and require permission from the vain China Princess to pass through her kingdom. With Mallow posing as a suitor, the group enter the China Princess’ castle and see her rejecting potential suitors but is enchanted by Mallow’s singing. An earthquake caused by the Jester damages the land, prompting an angry China Princess to blame Dorothy for the Jester’s torment but agrees to allow her group to pass through on the condition she accompanies them. Finding a bridge to the Emerald City destroyed, the group decide to construct a boat but all the talking trees refuse to co-operate, except an aging tree named Tugg who is carved into a galleon. They sail into the Emerald City, finding it abandoned, only to be attacked by the Flying Monkeys. Dorothy’s group escape into a cave system but tumble down a waterfall.

The China Princess is shattered by the fall and presumed dead, prompting Dorothy to head for the Jester’s palace alone. Mallow mourns the princess, and sings to her about his newfound love for her, discovering she is alive and fixes her. Mustering up his confidence and strength, Wiser manages to fly off to aid Dorothy. Dorothy and Toto confront the Jester, who plans to kill her, only for Toto to drop a curtain on his head, with the lead Flying Monkey named “You” stealing the Jester’s staff to regrow its wings after the latter shrunk them. As the Jester gives chase, Dorothy reunites with her captured friends and they confront the Jester on the rooftop. In the ensuing fight for the staff, Dorothy falls off the roof but is caught by Wiser.

The rest of Dorothy’s friends arrive with Tugg built on wheels, engaging the Flying Monkeys in battle. The Jester tries to rid himself of Dorothy by summoning a tornado but Dorothy’s own magic breaks the spell damaging Oz and freeing the marionettes. The Jester is nearly sucked into the tornado, but is saved by Dorothy. However, when she casts the staff into the tornado, the Jester throws himself in after it and vanishes. Glinda appears and sends Dorothy and Toto home.

Reuniting with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, Dorothy rallies the townsfolk to stand up for their homes, discovering the appraiser is a con artist using multiple fake licenses to commit crimes. He is arrested by the sheriff while his lackey runs off. Everyone starts to rebuild their town with Dorothy’s farm being among those rebuilt.All in all this is a film that the whole family should find charming and fun. And at 88 minutes it is the perfect length to tell the new Oz story while keeping your attention. Ignore those critics complaining about the quality of the animation. Its a kids’ movie, for crying out loud!