Thursday, October 9, 2014

Horrors of October - Terminator II: Shocking Dark, The Dark (#9)

Terminator II: Shocking Dark (1990)

Always leave it to the Italians to make an unofficial sequel to a popular Hollywood movie, and then botch it up completely: Very similar to how Lucio Fulci turned his DAWN OF THE DEAD wannabe into ZOMBI 2, director Bruno Mattei (aka Vincent Dawn) followed the same strategy with his ALIENS rip-off SHOCKING DARK, only to instead officially call it TERMINATOR II. And amazingly, he got away with it, at least in Europe. To be fair, there is an evil, macho-pumped android in the movie but it's hard to take him seriously when he's named Samuel Fuller, looks like Paul Reiser and plays an exact clone of Burke. Also like Burke, the T-Lame00 doesn't pull a heel turn until much later in the picture and his bad deeds are easily overshadowed by the alien antagonists, who here look like giant fishmen. So, it's a shameless product that copied and pasted all of the details of its source material, plus a sprinkling of fan fiction. Why would anyone want to watch it? It's simple: the sheer incompetence of every level of production. All of the actors are hilariously wooden and beyond amateurish, often tripping over their words and even staring straight at the camera. The action sequences may be cheesy fun but then you have to sit through several scenes where literally nothing happens on screen. Audio is either a garbled-up mess or a total shrill-fest whenever the worst child actor ever opens her yapper. The Not-Xenos kill/injure people by pimp-handing them over rails or performing a Three Stooges routine. Two of the Marines, I mean soldiers of "Mega Force", are named Foster and Kane; I guess Charlie got Charles. More can be said about its crappiness (Many characters die because Fake-Ripley keeps hitting the wrong door-opening button!) but unless you're an Italian exploitation purveyor, you can stick with the Cameron cut.


The Dark (1979)

Since I was in the mood, I decided to watch another horror movie with "Dark" in the title. William Devane, Richard Jaeckel, and Cathy Lee Crosby are all searching for the zombie-like mangler that is terrorizing the L.A. nightlife and decapitating one person every day. But sometimes he's sick of this calling card so he blasts them with his eye-lasers till they explode. But this killing method also lobs off heads? And in one peculiar moment, the lasers can be telekinetic, propelling a copper into a wall before then making him explode?? Yeah, THE DARK certainly is a mess, largely due to the many production snafus that plagued it: Original director Tobe Hopper was replaced by John "Bud" Cardos (KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS) during filming and its original concept of a maniac zombie was altered into a laser-shooting alien brute after poor test screenings. This editing by committee doesn't help all matters, however. The film's script has all of the characters dicking around for the most part until the last quarter of the picture and it suffers from many noticeable continuity issues whenever the makers shoot outdoors. I don't know what's more bewildering: the fact that Devane is desperate to find his daughter's killer yet doesn't bring a gun or anything when he finally locates it or his eye-popping polka-dotted lounge robe. Despite these errors, I enjoyed THE DARK a bit because I largely viewed it as 50's style B-movie but with 70's sensibilities. It has a lot of talking scenes involving science and police work, a gypsy foreshadower, and a suave citizen investigator mixed in with a score that cribs THE OMEN and some stylishly shot scare scenes. I also had a ball at the cop-killing action finale, though how the heroes kill the creature is unbelievably lame. Not a hidden horror gem but a really odd curiosity piece.


No comments:

Post a Comment