Film Review: Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Release Date: April 8th, 1994
Directed by: Rodman Flender
Written by: Turi Meyer, Al Septien
Based on: characters by Mark Jones
Music by: Jonathan Elias
Cast: Warwick Davis, Charlie Heath, Shevonne Durkin, Sandy Baron, Kimmy Robertson, Clint Howard, Tony Cox, Michael McDonald

Planet Productions, Trimark Pictures, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Scream as you may! Scream as you might! If you try to escape, you’ll be dead on this night.” – Leprechaun

As I said in my review of the first Leprechaun movie, this is a series that actually increased in quality as it went on. Granted, it did run out of steam after the first three or four movies but this chapter in the series is slightly better than its predecessor.

You don’t really get an explanation on how the Leprechaun survived the first film but also, you never really knew if he died in that one or just got severely fucked up.

Who cares, though, as these movies use magic to do just about anything for the sake of convenience. Like its predecessor, the Leprechaun’s powers aren’t clearly defined and he can pretty much do whatever he wants. So don’t try to analyze the plots of these films or the title character’s choices with any sort of logic.

In this chapter, the Leprechaun shows up in Los Angeles to claim his bride, after cursing the family of an Irishman who outwitted him a thousand years earlier. None of that really matters, anyway. Just know that the Leprechaun wants the movie’s pretty teen girl and her doofus boyfriend wants to protect her.

There are some pretty decent kills in this film but the gore factor should’ve been kicked up a bit. I think the real reason why it wasn’t had more to due with budgetary reasons than anything else. It would’ve been cool seeing the lawnmower kiss of death kill actually happen onscreen and not in silhouette. Also, the pot of gold in the belly kill should have been much more gruesome.

Anyway, Warwick Davis saves this picture from complete mediocrity. He’s much more comfortable in the role and he really turns up the volume in this one. There are also some really good one-liners.

In the end, this is far from my favorite horror franchise but I still enjoy these movies regardless of their faults. However, without Warwick Davis, these films would be just as forgettable and trash as The Wishmaster movies.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Leprechaun movies starring Warwick Davis.

Film Review: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Also known as: Grounded, Teenie Weenies, The Big Backyard (working titles)
Release Date: June 23rd, 1989
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Ed Naha, Tom Schulman, Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna
Music by: James Horner
Cast: Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman, Kristine Sutherland, Thomas Wilson Brown, Jared Rushton, Amy O’Neill, Robert Oliveri, Mark L. Taylor, Kimmy Robertson, Frank Welker (voice)

Walt Disney Pictures, Silver Screen Partners III, Buena Vista Pictures, 94 Minutes

Review:

“Nick, I’ve got six hours to get home, get big and get to the mall. Now get moving.” – Amy Szalinski

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that one of the writers of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is Brian Yuzna, the guy behind Re-Animator and its sequels, as well as From Beyond and Society. In fact, this film came out in the same year as the over the top and insane Society. Talk about two extremes.

Anyway, this family classic was one of many reasons as to why the summer of ’89 is probably the best summer for movies of all-time. I loved this as a kid and it has held up pretty well.

Some of the effects look a bit dated, as this came out just before the CGI boom that came with Jurassic Park in 1993, but the use of green screen and stop motion effects pretty much comes off without a hitch and these special effects are top of the line for 1989. Disney crafted an incredible world for this movie and all the physical sets still look fabulous by 2019 standards.

The movie is also kind of timeless and the humor still works. This isn’t a film that’s chock full of ’80s cliches. Okay, maybe the clothes the kids wear are very ’80s but this is written in a way that the jokes and humor aren’t as dated as other films from the time.

Additionally, all the kid actors are pretty solid, as are the parents. The parents of course get top billing in this movie but the bulk of the film is focused on the children and their adventure, trying to get home from the other side of their backyard. Of course there are several challenges that stand in the kids way, which just makes this adventure a lot of fun and actually provides a good amount of real tension.

Rick Moranis is as good as he always is but the real scene stealer was Matt Frewer, who owned the character of Russ Sr. Frewer can do drama and comedy well but here he was so committed to the bit that he was the biggest bright spot in the film.

I’m glad that I revisited this and I’ve just realized that it’s approaching its thirtieth anniversary. Man, I can’t believe it’s been that long since the epic summer of ’89.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the sequels but each one gets worse and worse, as well as other late ’80s family sci-fi movies like *batteries not included and Cocoon.

Film Review: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991)

Release Date: June 7th, 1991
Directed by: Stephen Herek
Written by: Neil Landau, Tara Ison
Music by: David Newman
Cast: Christina Applegate, Joanna Cassidy, Keith Coogan, John Getz, Josh Charles, David Duchovny, Kimmy Robertson, Danielle Harris, Sydney Lassick

HBO Pictures, Outlaw Productions, Warner Bros., 102 Minutes

Review:

“I’m right on top of that Rose.” – Sue Ellen “Swell” Crandell

I had the rare opportunity of revisiting this film on the big screen. Okay, not in a theater per se, but on a large silver sheet stretched between two large trees at my friend’s makeshift movie theater in his backyard in the woods.

This was a pretty good vehicle for Christina Applegate, who was huge at the time for playing the slutty teenage daughter of Al Bundy on Fox’s television hit Married… with Children. This was Applegate’s attempt at breaking out and as being seen as someone other than a slutty daughter on a sitcom.

Here, she plays a much smarter and resourceful character and this is ultimately, a coming of age story. Applegate shines, as does the rest of the young cast, who had great chemistry and felt like actual siblings.

I’ve always liked Keith Coogan but Kenny is my favorite role he’s ever played. Also, horror icon Danielle Harris, pretty fresh off of Halloween 4 and Halloween 5, plays the youngest sister of the five children here. We also get to see Joanna Cassidy, David Duchovny and Kimmy Robertson in supporting roles.

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead is a comedy where you have to suspend some disbelief because the premise sees a babysitter die, the kids stuff her into a trunk and drop her body off at a cemetery – this way they can have their summer to themselves. This really is kind of a black comedy at its core, even if the darkness is buried in colorful teen comedy candy.

I can’t honestly say that this is a great film but I still love it to this day and, at least for me, it’s had some staying power. Maybe I was always attracted to it because of it’s dark narrative underbelly. But I think that the real reason this film has stuck with me for over a quarter of a century is that everyone in it works so well together. Plus, Christina Applegate is kind of a badass in this and it forever changed how I perceived her.

This is a film that was underappreciated and underrated at the time it came out. Most people have probably forgotten about it, all these years later. But for some reason, I still pop it into the DVD player every few years.

Rating: 7.5/10