Documentary Review: What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (2018)

Also known as: What We Left Behind: Star Trek DS9 (shortened title)
Release Date: October 12th, 2018 (Los Angeles special screening)
Directed by: Ira Steven Behr, David Zappone
Music by: Kevin Kiner, Dennis McCarthy
Cast: Max Grodenchik, Andrew Robinson, Armin Shimerman, Nana Visitor, Colm Meaney, Jeffrey Combs, Aron Eisenberg, Rene Auberjonois, Ira Steven Behr, Alexander Siddig, Casey Biggs, Rick Berman, Terry Farrell, Jonathan West, David Carson, Marc Bernardin, Penny Johnson Jerald, Avery Brooks, Rene Echevarria, Ronald D. Moore, Michael Okuda, Chase Masterson, Louis Race, Michael Dorn, Wallace Shawn, Marc Alaimo, Michael Westmore, John Putman, James Darren, Bill Mumy, Cirroc Lofton, Nicole de Boer

Le Big Boss Productions, Tuxedo Productions, 455 Films, 116 Minutes

Review:

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was my favorite Star Trek show of the bunch. However, my relationship with it didn’t start out well. In fact, I really disliked it early on, quit halfway into the first season and didn’t return until years later, after it was off the air and I could stream it on Netflix.

Over the years, I’d hear from really hardcore Trekkies that it was the best show and that once it found its footing, its larger story and its purpose, it became one of the best shows in sci-fi television history.

After giving it a second chance, I discovered this to be true and the show, at least for me, lived up to that hype and may have even exceeded it.

This documentary was crowdsourced and probably long overdue. I’m glad that it got made when it did because a few key people who were involved in it have passed away in the few years since.

This was directed and put together by Ira Steven Behr, who was the DS9 showrunner. But he clearly has a ton of passion for this show, all the people he worked with on it and the large fanbase that has continued to grow over time.

What We Left Behind features interviews with just about every key person that was involved in the show and it was nice seeing how much they loved their work and each other, as well as the fans. Sadly, many fanbases have been wrecked in recent years, Star Trek, as a whole, being one of them. However, for whatever reason, DS9 seems to be less effected by that.

Overall, this was a really cool documentary and it was fun to watch. If you loved Deep Space Nine, you really should check this out. Plus, I think it is currently free on Prime.

Rating: 7.25/10

Film Review: Dirty Harry (1971)

Also known as: Dead Right (working title)
Release Date: December 21st, 1971 (San Francisco premiere)
Directed by: Don Siegel
Written by: Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink, Dean Riesner, Jo Heims, John Milius (uncredited), Terrence Malick (uncredited)
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon, John Mitchum, Debralee Scott, Albert Popwell

The Malpaso Company, Warner Bros., 102 Minutes, 99 Minutes (cut)

Review:

“Uh uh. I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?” – Harry Callahan

Going through my list of film series I haven’t yet reviewed, I was surprised when I came to the realization that I hadn’t covered Dirty Harry yet, as it is one of my favorite action crime franchises. Plus, it stars the always badass and intense Clint Eastwood, as the greatest character he ever played after “The Man With No Name” from Sergio Leone’s The Dollars Trilogy.

This also stars Andrew Robinson as the purely evil Scorpio Killer. He’s a guy that I love in just about everything and a solid character actor that, frankly, should’ve been in many more movies.

The story follows “Dirty” Harry Callahan as he tries to take down the Scorpio Killer, who has been using a sniper rifle to pick off his victims throughout San Francisco. What I like about the bad guy is that he is just a severely fucked up piece of shit and more like a force of nature than someone with a real plan. He creates fear and panic and in an effort to take him down, Harry skirts around the rules and takes the law into his own hands. This backfires on Harry, as even after he takes down Scorpio, the guy is released because of legal red tape. Ultimately, Harry says, “Fuck all this shit!” and he doubles down, finally killing Scorpio and then throwing his badge into the river as the ultimate “fuck you” to the system.

Dirty Harry is definitely a film of its time, similar to Death Wish, which would also spawn four badass sequels. These movies were a critique in rising crime rates in the U.S. and the inability of the police and the legal system to clean up the streets and make the public feel safer. Movies like these wouldn’t fly today due to society being so sensitive and butthurt over everything. Hell, look at the total shithole San Francisco has become in 2020. It’s not as violent but the West Coast softies let bums shit in the streets and throw dirty heroin needles all over the place.

Films like Dirty Harry are great because they are unapologetic and bitchslap the crybaby pussies that try to constantly justify the terrible behavior of shitty human beings. That’s also because those people are shitty human beings.

From a technical standpoint, this movie is meticulously shot with superb shot framing and cinematography. All of the scenes atop buildings are fantastic and give you a true feeling of scope and distance, especially in regards to how the sniper sees things from above, searching for his victims.

I also like all the dark and gritty parts. The big fight in the park underneath the giant cross is a real highlight in all the things I just mentioned about the film’s visuals.

The action is also captured tremendously well from the early street shootout to the rooftop shootout to the confrontation in the park at night to the bus scene and the final showdown.

The picture is well written with good pacing and it has more energy than most films from the time.

Dirty Harry is just a great action thriller that features a character that deserves his legendary status. And just like with Death Wish, I was fine with nearly a half dozen sequels even if the quality started to wane. 

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the four other Dirty Harry films, as well as the five original Death Wish movies.

Film Review: Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Also known as: Chucky 3: El Muñeco Diabólico (Mexico), Chucky 3 (Germany)
Release Date: August 30th, 1991
Directed by: Jack Bender
Written by: Don Mancini
Based on: characters by Don Mancini
Music by: Cory Lerios, John D’Andrea
Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Brad Dourif, Andrew Robinson

Universal Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“Don’t fuck with the Chuck.” – Chucky

While there is a very slight variance in overall quality of the original Child’s Play trilogy of films, all three are pretty damn consistent and each has it’s own vibe. Plus, the sequels don’t just feel like rehashes of the original.

The thing that sets this one apart is that Andy is now 16 and enrolled in a military school, drastically changing the setting and opening the plot up for a myriad of new directions.

Chucky is resurrected because what is a Child’s Play movie without Chuck? He tracks down Andy to his military school but not before murdering the crap out of the CEO of the toy company that produces Good Guy Dolls.

However, Chucky meets the young boy Tyler. He realizes that he can tell Tyler his secret and take over his body instead of Andy’s. Although, Chucky still wants to murder Andy for being a total pain in the ass in the first two movies. So what we get here, is teenage Andy in a race against Chucky in an effort to save young Tyler’s soul.

This film gets really dark but the early Chucky movies showcased terror and dread over the humor that would take over the franchise after this film. There is a grisly garbage truck murder, some other really good kills and the big awesome moment where the teenagers playing war games don’t realize that Chucky switched out their paint rounds with real ammunition. We then get a great final encounter with Chucky in a carnival spookhouse.

I just love how dark and brooding this film seems. Sure, the first two films were also quite dark but this one just ups the ante atmospherically and it works. Plus, Brad Dourif just feels more at home in his Chucky role. His one liners are great but they don’t distract from the proceedings.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Anything with Chucky in it.

Film Review: Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994)

Release Date: October 19th, 1994
Directed by: Jeff Burr
Written by: Constantine Chachornia, Ivan Chachornia
Music by: Jim Manzie
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Ami Dolenz, Soleil Moon Frye, J. Trevor Edmond, Hill Harper, Alexander Polinsky, Linnea Quigley, Mark McCracken, Steve Kanaly, Roger Clinton Jr., Kane Hodder, Gloria Hendry, Joe Unger

Motion Picture Corporation of America, Live Entertainment, 88 Minutes

Review:

“You will die! You all will die! Miss Osie curses every one of you to the vengeance of Pumpkinhead!” – Miss Osie

Pumpkinhead is a solid late 80s horror flick. Its straight-to-video 1994 sequel is not solid. Well, at the very least, the monster still looks damn cool and he still rips people to shreds.

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings does stay afloat but that is mainly due to its interesting ensemble cast. You have Andrew Robinson, who was damn good in Hellraiser, as the police chief. You also have Ami Dolenz, who I really just like to look at because she is mesmerizing. Then there are a couple 80s sitcom stars, Soliel Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) and Alexander Polinsky (Charles In Charge). You even have small parts given to Kane Hodder (the best Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th film franchise) and Gloria Hendry, who kicked ass in several 1970s blaxploitation movies. I also can’t forget scream queen Linnea Quigley and her famous boobs.

The problem with Pumpkinhead II is that it disregards the first film completely and just does its own thing. However, apparently the mutant kid that becomes the new Pumpkinhead in this movie was the illegitimate bastard son of the first Pumpkinhead and some insane girl that had sex with him. She was probably raped though, honestly. Then again, I knew this Craigslist hooker that lived in my complex and she probably would have given up the ass to Pumpkinhead for a drive to K-Mart and a big bag of Skittles.

Anyway, this movie doesn’t totally suck, it’s just lame that it didn’t continue on from the first one. The sequels after this are more direct sequels to the original but I haven’t seen those yet.

Pumpkinhead II sees the monster brought up from the grave of a dead mutant looking kid. He is summoned by a witch that wants revenge for the people who wronged the boy in the 1950s and for the kids who let her house burn down.

I have to give props to the creature effects. Even though Stan Winston wasn’t involved in this, as he was very involved with the first, the new team did a better than decent job at keeping the monster awesome. He looked the same and even got to move around a bit more. This version of Pumpkinhead was just more mobile and not as limited as the original. This made for better action and more versatile shots, where in the first film, they had to shoot it in a way that hid the monster’s limitations.

While the story and the action aren’t bad, this chapter in the series just doesn’t measure up to the first one. It’s not a waste of time and it is enjoyable if these kind of movies are your cup of tea. It is better than most pointless horror sequels and it had a decent cast. Although, I really just want to check out the third and fourth film to see if they right the ship.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: The ‘Hellraiser’ Film Series, Part I (1987-1996)

One of the greatest horror franchises in history is the Hellraiser series. Coming from the awesome mind of Clive Barker, this series offered up a mixture of terrifying tales and horrific visuals. It also brought a level of dark fantasy along with it, which became the norm with Barker’s work.

These films go beyond the standard slasher formula that was popular at the time and gave movie-going audiences something fresh and unique. When I was a kid, I was terrified of these films. There was Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and all the other horror icons of that era… and then there was Pinhead. Pinhead was something more evil and darker than anything else I had experienced at the time. Years before even watching these films, his image on the video store shelf was enough to keep me from popping one of these films into my VCR.

Since there are so many Hellraiser films, nine to be exact, I am going to review the first four here. I will follow up in the near future with the rest of the films.

Hellraiser (1987):

Release Date: September 10th, 1987 (London premiere)
Directed by: Clive Barker
Written by: Clive Barker
Based on: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley

Film Futures, Entertainment Film Distributors, New World Pictures, 93 Minutes

Review:

“We have such sights to show you!” – Lead Cenobite (Pinhead)

The first film in the series is considered the best. Where I stand, it is my second favorite. The highpoint of this film, is that Clive Barker actually directs it and it is based off of his novella, The Hellbound Heart.

This film introduces us to the complex world and characters within this franchise, most notably Pinhead and the other Cenobites, as well as Kirsty Cotton, who is involved in four of the films. It also introduces us to a gritty and graphic visual style that was original at the time.

Visually, the colors, tones and style were hijacked by several industrial and metal artists for their music videos for years following this film. It had a style all its own that went on to transcend the film.

As a story, the plot is solid and one of the most original horror/fantasy tales I’ve ever experienced. Clive Barker is on a level all his own in what he creates. His mind is unique and never seems to disappoint in regards to giving his audience something original and provocative. The word “haunting” is used a lot in reference to dark and dreary things, this film is the epitome of the word, as it attacks all the senses in ways one cannot be prepared for before seeing this movie.

Rating: 9/10

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988):

Release Date: December 23rd, 1988
Directed by: Tony Randel
Written by: Clive Barker, Peter Atkins
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham, Imogen Boorman, Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde

Film Futures, Troopstar, New World Pictures, 93 Minutes

Review:

“Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!” – Pinhead

Hellbound is a perfect sequel. It starred many of the same actors from the first film and was worked on by the same crew. The only main difference was that Clive Barker stepped down as director and that spot was filled by Tony Randel, who was an instrumental part in making the first film.

This is my favorite in the series. The style, tone and themes of the film are an expansion of what we were given in the first installment.

Hellbound takes things to a whole new level and starts to open the doors of the Hellraiser universe much more than its predecessor. We are given insight into the origin of Pinhead and the Cenobites. The mythos is also expanded and explained to a larger degree.

The film’s main protagonist is frightening as hell and adds somewhat of a contrast to the personality of Pinhead. He is a much eviler character with more sinister and selfish motivations, where Pinhead is more of an automaton being summoned by characters throughout the films.

The expansion of the mythos, the bigger villain and the fact that this stayed true to the essence of the original picture, is why Hellbound is my favorite. I also feel that it has the best rewatchability factor compared to all the other films in the series.

Rating: 8.75/10

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992):

Release Date: May 1992 (Milan)
Directed by: Anthony Hickox
Written by: Peter Atkins, Tony Randel
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Randy Miller
Cast: Terry Farrell, Paula Marshall, Kevin Bernhardt, Peter Boynton, Doug Bradley

Dimension Films, Fifth Avenue Entertainment, Trans Atlantic Entertainment, Miramax Films, 93 Minutes

Review:

“There is no good, Monroe. There is no evil. There is only flesh.” – Pinhead

This is the start of the decline of the series.

Hell On Earth was not as good as the first two but it wasn’t an awful sequel. It continued to expand on the Hellraiser mythos and the complexities of Pinhead’s character.

Doug Bradley as Pinhead was the highlight of this film and he got to act a little more and experiment with the character, as this was the first film to really make him the star of the series. He got more screen time here than probably the first two films combined and it made this film enjoyable, despite its flaws.

While Kirtsy shows up in a cameo part, this was the first film without her as a protagonist. Actress Terry Farrell did good stepping into the role of hero. She was a strong character and was believable in the part, as she fought off the hordes of hell in order to bring a little balance to the universe.

The character of Terri was cute as hell but ultimately, her fate sucked. Between her and her scumbag boyfriend’s bickering and turn to evil, I kind of saw a very likable character too easily transformed into a despised character and it just didn’t seem to work well.

The biggest complaint about this installment in the series, is that the new Cenobites were awful. One had a television camera for an eye, another threw CDs like Chinese stars, it was gimmicky and atrocious. In fact, they looked like a couple fanboys doing some Borg cosplay at a Star Trek convention.

While this was a step down from the previous films, this one is still enjoyable.

Rating: 6/10

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996):

Release Date: March 8th, 1996
Directed by: Kevin Yagher (as Alan Smithee), Joe Chapelle (uncredited)
Written by: Peter Atkins
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Daniel Licht
Cast: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Adam Scott, Doug Bradley, Phil Fondacaro

Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Do I look like someone who cares what God thinks?” – Pinhead

Now we have reached the infamous fourth film in the series, Bloodline. I say “infamous” because the consensus is that this film was total shit and it was responsible for all the other sequels not getting theatrical releases. Well okay, it wasn’t a great movie. Although, it still had some good shit in it.

Granted, this film starts off in space and as most of us know, whenever a horror franchise goes to space, it is the end of the franchise. Friday the 13th tried it and failed, Leprechaun tried it and failed and Critters tried it and failed. There are probably others too but you get the picture. Unlike the films I just mentioned though, Hellraiser: Bloodline didn’t turn to complete shit when they decided to go the space route. I guess some of that can be attributed to the fact that this story jumped around in time.

In fact, due to following different generations in time throughout this film, Bloodline felt more like an anthology movie. It also expanded the mythos once again and gave us an interesting origin for the puzzle box a.k.a. the Lament Configuration.

Doug Bradley was fantastic again and at this point, four films in, he has reached the horror icon level only reserved for characters like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.

An added bonus, is that the Cenobites are back to being in awesome form and not looking like phaser fodder from the set of Star Trek: Voyager.

Rating: 6/10

And that’s it for the first four films in the series, I will soon follow up with part two of this review, covering films five through eight… and maybe the recent remake, if I can stomach sitting through its weak 75 minutes.

Film Review: Cobra (1986)

Release Date: May 23rd, 1986
Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Written by: Sylvester Stallone
Based on: Fair Game by Paula Gosling
Music by: Sylvester Levay
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Brian Thompson, Andrew Robinson

Cannon Films, Warner Bros., 87 Minutes

cobraReview:

I was once asked what my favorite Punisher movie was. My answer was Cobra.

No, Cobra isn’t actually a Punisher movie but it is the closest thing that I think Hollywood has gotten to a live-action version of him. Cobra is a balls out, unapologetic, bad ass, gratuitously violent, one-liner bonanza of an action film.

I mean, Stallone’s Cobra actually says, right before he knifes and blasts a guy, “You’re a disease – and I’m the cure.” When challenged about the broken justice system by a serial killer, Cobra says, “This is where the law stops and I start – sucker!” The film even starts with a fantastic narration by Cobra, “In America, there’s a burglary every 11 seconds, an armed robbery every 65 seconds, a violent crime every 25 seconds, a murder every 24 minutes and 250 rapes a day.” There is just that stone cold Stallone delivery of every line of Cobra’s dialogue in this movie.

From the standpoint of the critics in 1986, the film is too cliche and relies too heavily on tropes weaved together with bad dialogue. But these are the same assholes that loved Avatar.

No, Cobra is not a critically-acclaimed motion picture. But it made a shit ton of money at the box office and really, should have had a sequel or five. Just because critics don’t like something, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something for the world to sink its teeth into. Besides, the critics hated a lot of things that became classics and then they later backtracked and tried to act like they were now accepting of many of those films. Granted, they’ll probably never like Cobra, its balls are too huge and covered in thick masculine hair.

Cobra is just a manly fucking film. It is the epitome of violent 80s action movies. It does just about everything right, if senseless violence and bad asses triumphing over psychos is your thing. It is my thing.

Stallone was great as Cobra, even though he was one-dimensional and not that interesting or dynamic. He was Stallone playing Stallone but with extra octane. Brigitte Nielsen was passable as the girl he is protecting from the psycho. Speaking of which, Brian Thompson was perfect as the serial killer, the Night Slasher. And to be honest, as a kid, I was never afraid of Freddy or Jason. But I was scared shitless of the Night Slasher.

This movie is dark; it plays more like a horror film in some scenes. It is that darkness, however, that makes this movie really cool. Yeah, it really frightened me when I was a young kid, who probably shouldn’t have been able to rent this, but that is what I loved about it. And even though it is a mid-80s testosterone-laced action picture, it holds up really well.

This came out when overusing tropes was frowned upon by serious filmgoers. If this came out today, it would probably be applauded as a great homage to that old action style. I mean, the critics would still probably hate it but there’d be a lot more people accepting of it. And I think that is due to the fact that films like this don’t really exist anymore.

Cobra is just a seriously bad ass movie. Its not a great movie, from an artistic standpoint, but it is great at giving the men of my generation something to pump their fists to.

Rating: 9/10