Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '88 - Nate Fancher ""

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Underrated '88 - Nate Fancher

Nate Fancher - "Nate Lugosi" on Facebook - is a forensically trained clinical mental health professional. Movies are the lens through which he views the world, and he enjoys unearthing new film experiences whenever possible.

Beach Balls (Joe Ritter)

“Whatever you do, don’t touch your fingers to your mouth.”

This is one of those films that ran in steady rotation on USA “Up All Night” back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I remember having that show on for background noise when I was a high school youth, and every so often I could almost convince myself that – maybe – this was the night that a censor was asleep at the wheel and they’d let slip a stray nipple shot. Granted, I had the scrambled connection to Cinemax After Dark for that, in a pinch.

Never an accidental exposure of bare boobs, sometimes I’d end up fairly engrossed in the story. And actually, for these kinds of movies – I’ve taken to labelling the late ‘80s teen sex comedies, “titty ha-ha’s” – this one isn’t too bad. There is less “beach” than a title of this nature would have you believe, but it leans more into the rock-n-roll-party-while-the-parents-are-away tropes, enough to keep you entertained. It was funny, when I got older and managed to get my hands on a copy of the film on DVD, I felt like I was doing something wrong, and, the more I watched it, the more I risked one of my parents walking in and wondering what the hell was going on.
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Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years (Penelope Spheeris)

“If your parents don’t like it, it’s good.”

I seem to recall discovering this on MTV or VH1 one night. It was weird to see these heavy metal musicians talking about their craft so openly. Heavy metal musicianship was almost like professional wrestling, in a sense, that the theatrics seemed to take precedence over the actual dynamics of the work. Until I recently watched the Shout Factory release, all I’d really remembered of this film was a brief sequence where Ozzy Osbourne – still mostly in his prime – talked about all his drug use while making breakfast. While he haphazardly pours orange juice more on the table and occasionally in the glass, you can see the shell of a human Ozzy would become by the time his reality show came around.
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Fright Night Part 2 (Tommy Lee Wallace)

“Vampires aren’t real.”

There’s a HUGE difference between this, and “Fright Night II” (2013). Do not get your brands confused!

Seems 1988 was a hotbed for horror sequels. Just on my movie shelf alone, I’m looking at “Critters 2”, “Ghoulies 2”, “Halloween 4”, “Hellraiser II”, “Nightmare on Elm Street 4”, “Phantasm II”, “Return of the Killer Tomatoes”, “Return of the Living Dead II”, and “Zombi 3”. Then there’s this film, where William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall reprise their roles from the first “Fright Night”. The chemistry between the two is as fantastic in this film as it was in the first, as they take on the sister of Jerry Dandridge, played by Julie Carmen. The threats from the first film are amplified for the second, as this time Charlie and Vincent have to also contend with vampire minions, a werewolf, and a hulking entomophagist (which, side note about yours truly, is a word that I didn’t learn just for this review but one I’ve known because of my work in the field of mental health).

Something I found odd (but I was delighted when I discovered it): This is Jonathan Gries first of two turns he has done as a werewolf, the second being Desperate Man in “Monster Squad.”
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Lady Terminator (H. Tjut Djalil)

“If it bleeds, it can die.”

Good lord, this film! This film is kitchen sink cinema at its best.

To be absolutely honest, there is nothing that I could add to my thoughts of this film that wouldn’t seem like I was cribbing from Zack Romero and his “B-Roll” show from the Roku channel B-Movie TV. Hindu goddesses, cyborg women, cooter snakes, and a guy who gets his crotch annihilated via machine gun … This is what cinema is about.
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Robo Vampire (Godfrey Ho)

“How dare you take my lover’s corpse and turn it into a vampire beast!”

Another great kitchen sink film. Take one part Robocop, one part Chinese vampire mythos, and stir in a smidgen of “Monster and the Girl.”

God, I love hopping vampires. I love gorilla vampires. But you know what I wanted to see? Robot vampires. But I’ll take what I can get.
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Waxwork (Anthony Hickox)

“They’ll make a movie about anything, nowadays.”

Okay, Zach Galligan is probably better remembered by fans for his role in “Gremlins”, and I’ll concede that point. But for my money, his best role is as Mark in “Waxwork.”

Tons of great stuff to love in this movie: It’s a monster mash film, of a sort; the conceit of the wax figures not only coming alive but the dioramas being portals to alternate worlds is really well done; in a film with mummies, vampires, and zombies, it’s the Marquis de Sade that plays the boss villain; and, inspired turns by David Warner, Patrick Macnee, and John Rhys-Davies as a werewolf!

I love this film. It’s a perennial go-to for home horror movie marathons, Halloween viewing, and general cinema “comfort food.” The sequel, while carrying much of the same spirit as this one, lacks a little something with its increased attention to time- and dimension-hopping conceits, but reduced focus on anything resembling waxworks, which – as it says on the tin – are the lifeblood of this franchise.
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