Archive for John Astin

That Touch of Mink

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When wholesome, hardworking small-town girl Cathy (Doris Day) moves to New York City and meets handsome tycoon Philip (Cary Grant), she thinks she’s found the man of her dreams. Although Philip assures her he’s not the marrying kind, Cathy has other ideas.

What people are saying:

“This is what movies should be like. Great dialogue, some unpredictability, characters that play off of each other. Gig Young is a trip and a half in this one. This is a well-spent hour-and-a-half. While some of it is obviously dated (clothes, etc.), this is a fun flick.”

“Have always been a huge fan of Doris Day but this is easily my least favorite movie of hers. Dialogue is very telling of the times.. and not in a good way. But then again, I’m a sucker for an old movie.”

“A clean and interesting romantic affair between a corporate man – Cary Grant’s polished action and a childish and anxious lady.”

“I can’t really think of much to say about this film. It is an inoffensive, middle of the road romantic comedy which barely delivers 3 solid laughs. Even Cary Grant couldn’t win me over on this one.”

“lines from the movie in the order they come Cary Grant “How do you feel about tapping the unused, abundant natural resources of young, developing countries?” Doris Day “I think they should be tapped!” If you don’t understand why this is oddly magical or how Cary Grant is doing Jack Donaghy from 30 rock way before 30 Rock or why Doris Day is so damn huggable here, then what help can I give you. You heartless hag.”

The Frighteners

Posted in Comedy, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1990, architect Frank Bannister loses his wife Debra in a car accident. He gives up his profession, letting his unfinished “dream house” sit incomplete for years. Following the accident, Frank gains the power to see ghosts and befriends three: Cyrus, a 1970s gangster, Stuart, a 1950s nerd, and the Judge, a gunslinger from the Old West. The ghosts haunt houses in the area to accumulate work for Frank’s ghostbusting business; Frank then “exorcises” the houses for a fee. Most locals see him as a con man.

Frank cons local health nut Ray Lynskey and his wife Lucy, a physician. Ray dies of a heart attack not long after. An encounter with his ghost leads Frank to discover that an entity representing himself as the Grim Reaper is killing people and marking numbers on their foreheads that only the psychic can see. Frank’s wife Debra had a similar number when she was found.

Because Frank can see the numbers ahead of time, he can foretell the murders, but this puts him under suspicion with the police, even Sheriff Walt Perry, who is usually patient with Frank. He calls in FBI agent Milton Dammers. Highly paranoid, obsessive and disturbed from years of undercover work, Dammers is convinced that Frank is psychically responsible for the killings. Frank is captured and detained after the town’s newspaper editor-in-chief Magda Rees-Jones is killed – she has previously publishing articles attacking him. During the confusion of the arrest, the Judge “dies” when he tries to protect Frank from the Reaper.

Lucy investigates the murders and becomes a target of the Grim Reaper. She is attacked while visiting Frank in jail, but they escape with the help of Cyrus and Stuart, who are both dissolved in the process. Frank wants to commit suicide to stop the Grim Reaper. Lucy helps Frank have a near-death experience by putting him into hypothermia and using barbiturates to stop his heart. Dammers abducts Lucy revealing that he had been a victim of Charles Manson and his “Family” in 1969.

In his ghostly form, Frank confronts the Grim Reaper and discovers that he is the ghost of Johnny Bartlett, a psychiatric hospital orderly who killed 12 people about 32 years earlier, before being captured, convicted, and executed. Patricia Bradley, then a teenager, was accused as his accomplice, although she escaped the death penalty due to her underage status. Lucy resuscitates Frank and they visit Patricia. Unknown to them, Patricia is still in love with Bartlett and on friendly, homicidal terms with Bartlett’s ghost. Lucy and Frank trap Bartlett’s spirit in his urn, which Patricia has kept. The pair make for the chapel of the now-abandoned psychiatric hospital hoping to send Bartlett’s ghost to Hell.

Patricia and Dammers chase them through the ruins. Dammers throws the ashes away, releasing Bartlett’s ghost again before Patricia kills him. Bartlett’s ghost and Patricia hunt down Frank and Lucy. Frank realizes that Bartlett’s ghost, with Patricia’s help, was responsible for his wife’s death and the number on her brow.

Out of bullets, Patricia strangles Frank to death, but Frank in spirit form rips Patricia’s spirit from her body, forcing Bartlett to follow them. Bartlett grabs Patricia’s ghost, while Frank makes it to Heaven, where he is reunited with Cyrus and Stuart along with his wife Debra. Bartlett and Patricia’s spirits claim they will now go back to claim more lives, but the portal to Heaven quickly changes to a demonic looking appearance, and they are both dragged to Hell. Frank learns it is not yet his time and is sent back to his body, as Debra’s spirit tells him to “be happy.”

Frank and Lucy fall in love. Lucy is now able to see ghosts as well. Frank later begins demolishing the unfinished dream house and building a life with Lucy while the ghost of Dammers is riding around in the sheriff’s car.

REVIEW:

A couple of years ago, AMC was showing The Frighteners as part of some scary marathon they were having at a time that wasn’t Halloween. I can’t remember what else was shown, but I know that Fright Night was shown either before or after this. I didn’t get the chance to watch for whatever reason, but I did say I was going to eventually get to it and, well, you get the picture.

What is this about?

Blending humor and horror, director Peter Jackson’s outlandish tale centers on shady psychic detective Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), who uses his ability to communicate with the dead to boost his business. But when a sinister spirit is unleashed and members of the community are mysteriously killed, the P.I. — with the help of a comely widow (Trini Alvarado) — must use his powers to get to the bottom of the supernatural slayings.

What did I like?

Balance. Horror comedies seem to be the type of films that everyone either love or hate, depending on if they swing toward the horror or comedy side of thing more. In this case, I believe we have a good balance between the two genres in this film, thanks to some good performances from the cast and decent direction from those on the other side of the camera.

Question. As the paranoid FBI agent, Jeffrey Combs is great. He actually reminds me of some shifty gangster turned stool pigeon from those old gangster movies, but that may be because of the hair. I wonder if he used this character as a basis for his voicing of The Question in Justice League Unlimited years later, because they have very similar timbres, except Questions isn’t insane…at least not in the same way.

Plot. I’m a little shaky as to my opinion on the plot, but if it gives an excuse to have a bunch of ghosts running around, then you can’t really complain, I suppose. The way the film climaxes is pretty nice. As a matter of fact that whole final sequence in the asylum (when did asylums become so scary, btw?) is a big payoff with all the shooting, stabbing, falling elevators, decaying floors and whatnot.

What didn’t I like?

Length. Can this be? Peter Jackson directed a film that was under 3 hrs? Even better, it doesn’t have that stretched out, padded feeling. Or does it? For me, at nearly 2 hrs, I felt this was a bit too long. Cut out a good 15-30 minutes and this would have been just fine, but that didn’t happen and we get this. I suppose it could be worse, though.

Newspaper. There seems to be some animosity between Michael J. Fox’s character and the editor of the local paper. At a couple of points in the film, I thought she was going to have something to do with the murders, or at least come back as a ghost the way the husband did earlier in the film.

Effects. For 1996, these aren’t exactly bad effects, but the Grim Reaper stuff still seemed rather cheap. Maybe I’m looking at it through modern eyes, but that whole computer grease look didn’t work, especially since a few years earlier liquid metal was done so convincingly in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, a technique that still stands up here in 2013, so there’s no excuse!

Now that I’ve watched both, I can say without a doubt that this was a heavy influence on Paranorman. With a title like The Frighteners, the movie poster, and the way a good 60% of this flick play out, one would think is it some truly scary film, but it isn’t. As a matter of fact, this is one of those Halloween party films you put in while your guests are arriving, so that you can warm up before the scary “main event” films. That being said, for what it is, this isn’t a bad film at all. I just feel it needs a little work to be better. Does that mean I don’t like it? Of course not! As a matter of fact, I actually recommend it, so give it a go, eh?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Teen Wolf Too

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Todd Howard (Jason Bateman), the cousin of Scott Howard, has recently been accepted into Hamilton University on a full athletic scholarship. Having never been much good at sports he soon realizes that he is there for one reason – because werewolves run in the family. At first Todd is certain that Coach Finstock (Paul Sand) has the wrong guy, but at the first boxing match of the year the wolf in him emerges.

With his new found fame comes girls, top grades and even the dean’s car but as the year goes on, Todd realizes that he is losing his friends and self respect. Can he be a winner without the wolf?

REVIEW:

After watching Teen Wolf  last night, I flipped the DVD over and watched Teen Wolf Too this afternoon.

Whenever I watch a sequel, I question the motives behind it. I mean, there are sequels that are made to continue a story, there are those that are meant to start a story that will be continues, and then there are those that are there just to make money. That’s what category this thing falls in. Teen Wolf ended with nothing left to resolve, yet they felt the need to make a sequel. To make things worse, they have different characters interspersed with some of the originals. Nothing really wrong with that, except that they aren’t the same actors from the original. This begs to question…why?

Jason Bateman’s character obviously is meant to be similar to Michael J. Fox’s. As a matter of fact, they resemble each other…vaguely, but Todd has the bigger ego once the campus accepts his wolf persona and he becomes a total jerk. As I said in the Teen Wolf review, there is just something disconcerting about the speed at which they accept him. I juts expect them all to be more scared of a guy that suddenly changes to a werewolf right in front of their eyes, but that’s just me.

For a comedy, this isn’t very funny. I’ve gotten bigger laughs cleaning the litter box than I did from watching this.

What is good about this thing? Well, even though Batman is hindered by this horrendous script, he remains the bright spot, along with John Astin, everyone else just doesn’t cut the mustard. In the previous film, it seemed like everything was all about Scott and basketball. At least in this one we get a bit about Todd in class, and his troubles/perks for being a wolf. It is also hinted that his faculty advisor/Biology professor is also a werewolf, but all she does is give the dean the red eye, similar to the way Scott’s dad did in the first film, only there’s no pissing involved this time. I wish she would have gone full wolf, instead of have a tail, though. Not really sure what the deal with the tail was, since none of the three werewolves we see in these two films has one, but it is good to know that there are werewolves outside the Howard family.

The fact that almost none of the actors from the Teen Wolf came back for the sequel should have been a tipoff as to how bad this film was going to be. I remember watching this thing back in the day and tolerating it, but even then I  remember it reeking of suckage. I really wish I could say something positive about this thing, but there isn’t much. Even for fans of 80s cinema, it just isn’t worth it. Really, unless you’re a Jason Bateman fan, there is absolutely no reason to waste your time.

2 out of 5 stars

Return of the Killer Tomatoes

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , on July 8, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set twenty five years after the events of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!(referred to as the Great Tomato War in the movie), the basic plotline is that after the events of the first film (where the tomatoes were stopped by the worst song ever composed called “Puberty Love”) the misanthropic villain, Professor Mortimer Gangreen (Played by John Astin), has created a tomato transformation chamber by which he can turn ordinary tomatoes into humans. By dipping ordinary tomatoes into vats of toxic waste and then placing them into the chamber, Gangreen uses music to his advantage, as the juke box that is hooked up to the chamber syncs up with the tomato transformation chamber, allowing him to create virtually anything by the use of whatever song he’s picked. With these, he plans to conquer the world. Though the veterans of the Great Tomato War have something to say about that…

This film marks the appearance of FT, the Fuzzy Tomato. Other notable characters are Chad Finletter (Anthony Starke), nephew of Wilbur Finletter (the semi-main, but more popular, character of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!) and his girlfriend Tara (Karen Mistal), who is actually a female Killer Tomato turned into an attractive girl by the device. Tara turns back into a tomato when she hears the opening musical notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; however, the musical notes of the theme to Gone with the Wind restores her to human form.

REVIEW:

A mad scientist who uses toxic waste to turn tomatoes into humans. Sounds like guaranteed entertainment, right?

This film is along the line of the Toxic Avenger series, a horrific spoof that never takes itself too seriously and makes no apologies for its badness.

John Astin somehow manages to fit the role of a mad scientist perfectly. Maybe its because this role is as eccentric as  the one he’s best known for, Gomez Addams from the original Addams Family. Professor Gangreen seems to have an unhealthy obsession with tomatoes, and beefcake men, apparently.

This film is one George Clooney’s earliest film roles. My jaw dropped when I saw his name in the credits, but now that I think about it, many stars got their start in small films such as this. Clooney shows flashes of the brilliant actor he will go on to become…or at least tries to with the material he’s given.

Karen Mistal is a total babe and may very well be the breakout star of this film. Such a shame she more or less disappeared after this film. She plays Tara, the runaway tomato who hooks up with the Finletter boy. Mistal has many of the film’s best scenes and lines, and apparently has a love for cooking toast.

Since the film is about tomatoes, you’d expect to see giant tomatoes, right? Surprisingly, there are none. The only tomato that isn’t normal size or turned human is the one called FT (Fuzzy Tomato), who functions as a pet of sorts for Tara and plays a very important role in the films climax.

One review  read about this film said it best, “If you’re looking for a serious horror film, then you’d best look elsewhere.” This is so true, though when I would see this film in the video store when I was growing up, I thought it was a serious horror film. I was so wrong.

This is not the best film in the world. As a matter of fact, it loses momentum after the first hour or so. The scene where they initialize product placement, while meant to be funny, just kills the little momentum it has growing and eventually just becomes a lame joke. I think this could have been done better. The filmmakers should take a lesson from Mel Brooks when doing such jokes. Still, this wasn’t a total waste of time. It’s a good B-movie to watch, as long as you know what you’re getting into and don’t expect anything more. Still, there really isn’t anything to brag about here.

3 out of 5 stars