Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday the 13th Part 2: The Next Generation (1989)

... aka: Friday the 13th 2
... aka: Friday the 13th Part 2
... aka: Friday the 13th Part 2... The Next De-Generation
... aka: Friday the 13th: Part Two: The Next Generation
... aka: Friday the 13th: The Next Generation 2

Directed by:
F.J. (Fred J.) Lincoln

Want something a little different to celebrate Friday the 13th with and you've already seen all of the Paramount and New Line slasher movies? Then here ya go! This is a follow-up to FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NUDE BEGINNING (1987) from the same people and even featuring a few of the same actors playing the same characters. Like its predecessor, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Friday the 13th series (aside from a character named Jason briefly wearing a hockey mask) nor does it actually spoof those movies. Jessica (Barbii), who's never known her mother or father and has been raised her entire life by her Uncle Merlin (director Lincoln), is surprised with a birthday cake for her 21st birthday. Her Uncle decides this is as good a time as any to tell her a little about her origins. Supposedly her mother was an evil demoness whose only joys in life came form of corrupting humans and, now that Jessica is of age, her mom will be able to use her powers to return her to her place of birth. Jessica then disappears off the couch and pops up in a mysterious new house lit with red and blue lights. There, she meets her spastic twin brother Jason (Tom Byron) and tries to figure out just what's going on.







Jason's pimp friend Tyree (Billy Dee) surprises him with a birthday present in the form of ribbon-wrapped (and little else) ill-fated late 80s porn queen Megan Leigh (who committed suicide by gunshot shortly after appearing in this). After the obligatory three-way action, Jason reveals to his sibling in a hot tub that she's now in hell and that life in hell isn't forever as you eventually "burn out" and die for good as their mother (the same character played by Amber Lynn in the first) already has. Jason suggests that if she wants to really get to know their mother better and possibly discover the identity of their father in the process, she's going to have to visit some of the mortals mum had seduced and corrupted. Jessica agrees, Jason snaps his fingers and she's suddenly back on Earth in the bedroom of Reverend Jimmy Braggart (Joey Silvera, returning from the original with the same terrible attempt at a Southern accent). Jimmy's life has basically turned to shit after numerous scandals have rocked his TV ministry. After he rants and raves for a few minutes and claims there's no way he's her father, Jessica feels it's safe to go ahead and have sex with him.







Jessica's then zapped back to hell once again, where her brother is overcome with an incredible urge to cut up paper with scissors and talks about the 'who can corrupt the most mortals' rivalry between their mother and her brother. Instead of playing a game of who can out-corrupt who, Jason decides he wants to work as a team for the greater bad of mankind. Or, as the video box puts it, "Together they indulge in unthinkable sexual manipulations and lust that would put a 5 star hooker to shame!" To show her the ropes, Jason takes Jessica back to Earth where he "corrupts" Maggie Greene (Porsche Lynn) on a couch. Maggie, who's in a position to make or break the rich and elite, is just one part of Jason's master plan. He decides they need money, so he then has Jessica "corrupt" rich lesbian stock broker Carolyn Hunter (Sharon Mitchell) on a bar after last call. Rich and powerful "chairman of the board" (though I'm not so sure what board) E.J. Whitworth III (Mike Horner) is next on their list as they use their powers to get him and Carolyn to fuck. With Maggie as campaign manager, Carolyn's money and E.J. connections, Jason hopes to destroy mankind by getting a pimp into the White House. Meanwhile, poor Jessica just isn't having any fun with any of this... but I'm sure it's not something a last minute bout of incest can't cure.







While this is a step down from the first movie and not nearly as amusing, it's still OK for what it is. The fact they managed to squeeze in seven long sex scenes AND have a reasonably entertaining plot is an accomplishment in itself. The script - written by Lincoln's wife Patti Rhodes (who also co-produced with her hubby) - really isn't any worse than what you'd see in a typical R-rated B movie from this time. In fact, this actually has better, wittier writing than what you'll find in most of today's erotica, hard OR soft, plus it's colorfully lit and was shot rather professionally on 35mm film. They even throw in a few horror movie in jokes, including several nods to The Shining. Barbii, a porn performer for just a few years who even had her own production company (Barbii Productions) at this time, later turned up in Jim Wynorski's great comic slasher flick Sorority House Massacre II (1990) using her real name (Michelle Verran).

1/2

Son of Dr. Jekyll, The (1951)

.... aka: Das zweite Gesicht des Dr. Jekyll (The Second Face of Dr. Jekyll)

Directed by:
Seymour Friedman

Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (first published as a novella in 1886) is one of the most popular and enduring of all horror stories and it's easy to see why. The central theme is a timeless one of good vs. evil or, more specifically, the potential of evil and cruelty within us all once that civil, moral barrier is somehow eroded and we can no longer suppress our deepest, darkest urges. The fact science and drugs are typically the catalysts for the altered behavior of the central character open the tale up to a whole world of possibilities. There's simply a lot to play around with using the basics of this story; hence why it's been a favorite source material for film adaptations going back to the infancy of cinema. Technically, the story was first adapted as a stage play, which debuted in Boston in 1887 and became so popular it ran for over twenty years and toured internationally. The play's long-running star, famous stage actor Richard Mansfield, even became a suspect in the 1888 Jack the Ripper slayings when the play was touring London!

The first filmed version of the story came in 1908 (a 16-minute-long, now-missing short) and nearly twenty more followed in the silent era alone. Some of the most famous of the early adaptations were John F. Robertson's 1920 version starring John Barrymore and F.W. Murnau's Der Januskopf (also from 1920), which starred Conrad Veidt, featured Bela Lugosi in a supporting role and is unfortunately a lost film, with no known prints known to still exist, though enticing film stills and a poster do. Moving into the sound era, Paramount's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), directed by Rouben Mamoulian, became a huge hit with both critics and audiences. In the lead role, Fredric March made history by becoming the first (and still one of the only) actors to win a Best Actor Academy Award for a horror film. MGM decided to adapt the story a decade later with a lavish A-list production directed by Victor Fleming and starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner, which itself was a hit and received three Oscar nominations. There were other early versions, made for both theaters and TV, plus a 52-segment radio drama in 1932, and just as many uncredited derivations and offshoots, which is where The Son of Dr. Jekyll (a Columbia production) comes in.


Things open in 1860 with murderous Mr. Hyde (Louis Hayward) being chased through the streets of London by a torch-carrying mob. He scales rooftops, jumps onto the top of a moving carriage and leaps through a window in a desperate attempt to get back to his lab, drink his serum and transform back to his more subdued self. The mob fling a torch inside, setting his lab and home ablaze, and lock the doors. Now turned back into Henry Jekyll, he has no choice but to make his way to a third-story ledge and eventually falls to his death. The city can sleep easy now, right? Well, maybe. Henry and his actress wife (who became one of Hyde's last victims) have left a little something behind... an infant son. Dr. Curtis Lanyon (Alexander Knox), Jekyll's best friend and benefactor of his will, is a bachelor and doesn't think he has any business trying to raise a baby. Thankfully, Jekyll's lawyer Sir John Utterson (Lester Matthews) and his wife has always wanted a son but have been unable to have children. John takes the baby home to raise, under agreement with Lanyon that no one tell the boy of his origins until he's old enough to handle the shock.






Thirty years later in 1890, the now-grown Edward (Hayward again) is a brilliant and outspoken medical student who's just disgraced the family name by getting kicked out of the prestigious Royal Academy of Science for performing experiments the tabloid press claim were "bordering on witchcraft." Edward shrugs it off and figures he can find a smaller college to study at. In the meantime, he's fallen in love with John's niece Lynn (Jody Lawrance) and the two hope to be married. Because of the impending nuptials and a still-uncollected inheritance from his late father resting in limbo, Curtis breaks the news to Edward about his birth parents. He gives him the key to his father's long-abandoned home, but urges him to forget about the past. Eager to prove the press' insinuations  of 'like father like son," Edward decides to move into the home for three months. He's hoping that after no incidents the newspapers will get off his back, he can move out with his reputation intact, marry Lynn and live happily ever after. Naturally, things don't work out how he has planned.






It doesn't take long for Edward to be overwhelmed with the desire to clear the family by replicating his father's formula found in a set of papers titled "An Experiment in Changing Human Personality." He gets to work, grows increasingly more paranoid (mostly due to external factors) and starts having a difficult time controlling his temper. He's hounded and mocked by both the townspeople and persistent newspaperman Richard Daniels (Gavin Muir) and becomes acquainted with Lotte Sorelle (Doris Lloyd), an drunkard actress friend of his late mother's, Lotte's husband Joe (Patrick O'Moore) and their daughter Hazel (Claire Carleton). Someone Edward trusts is secretly trying to sabotage his experiments and then decides to get the local witch hunters riled up by attacking and beating a young boy and pinning the blame on him. There's betrayal, blackmail, one murder, a stint in an asylum, lots of running around, falsified formulas and even courtroom drama. Most viewers will understandably be wondering just what they got themselves into.






Tis true the horror elements are few and far between in this one. In many ways, this is a classic case of bait-and-switch (at least as far as the poster is concerned) that's likely to disappoint many who watch it. Those expecting chills are going to be disappointed and, most especially, those expecting to see Jekyll and Hyde as they know it will be disappointed. There is just one brief transformation scene here and, while the time lapse effect is expertly pulled off and the make-up used is OK, all Jekyll does after being transformed into the monstrous Hyde is lie on the floor and close his eyes! This is much more of a suspense thriller about a man out to prove his innocence when all the cards - and all of the evidence - are stacked against him. However, if you can accept this on its own terms and deal with your expectations being dashed, this imperfect film does have some other good things to offer.






Photography, art direction, costumes and overall production values are quite good, most of the acting is fine and great use is made of moody, shadowy noir lighting throughout. Where this film is unexpectedly strongest however is in its depiction of a judgmental society unwilling to let go of the past. A full thirty years after the original Hyde murders, the gossipy townsfolk just can't let it go and have no issue persecuting an innocent man simply for moving into his late father's home. They gather around outside and gawk, point fingers and whisper, throw rocks through the windows and even break in so they can get a closer look at the town boogeyman's offspring. The press feed the fire by trying to incite negative and violent behavior out of Edward simply to give everyone what they want (affirmation that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree), little caring about the repercussions or the psychological toll it is taking on him. The idea that mob mentality has a hand in creating society's monsters is put at the forefront here and is well-supported throughout.







I see almost universally negative comments about this film, but in a way there's delicious irony in all that when it comes to pre-judgment, unfair expectations and all that jazz. Interestingly, neither Robert Louis Stevenson nor his novella are acknowledged anywhere in the credits, though they certainly should be. At one point Edward even recites a long passage taken directly from the source story when he reads from his father's "notes." It's probably no coincidence no one is credited with the screenplay, though Mortimer Braus and Jack Pollexfen are both given a story credit. The cast also includes Rhys Williams as a butler, Paul Cavanagh as an inspector, Hamilton Camp and Joyce Jameson. This have never been released to DVD or VHS, but plays occasionally on Turner Classic Movies.

1/2
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