Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens

Why did Sharknado 4 have to open with a Star Wars-esque opening crawl? Was it because they gave Tara Reid a Light Saber hand?

First there was a shark sandnado in Vegas, then a shark bouldernado in the Grand Canyon, followed by a shark oilnado/firenado in Texas. A shark lightningnado heads toward Kansas. Cue Wizard of Oz references…and a cownado. The lightningnado heads towards a nuclear power plant in Ohio…and becomes a shark nuclearnado. The grand finale takes place all the way in Niagara Falls…Wait, how did that baleen whale get into the Sharknado? And the baby shark nipple defibrillators…uhhhh…the end? At least they set it up for a sequel…Sharknado in France.

Adding Gary Busey to the mix was a stroke of genius. I didn’t think there was any more crazy that could be added to the mux, but I was wrong.

I was disappointed that Tara Reid wasn’t killed off in the last one, but I technically, I guess she DID die. Grumble, grumble…

The cameos came fast and furious: Carrot Top, Vince Neil, Wayne Newton, Adrian Zmed, Dr. Drew, Xfinity Cable Remote Controls, Al Roker, Bud Bundy, Jillian Barberie, Gilbert Gottfried, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Dan Yeager (Leatherface) and Caroline Williams (Stretch), Stacey Dash, Christine (the car), Steve Guttenberg (his character crossover from Lavalantula), Comic Con, Paul Shaffer, the biggest ball of yarn in the world, Lloyd Kaufman!!! (one of my idols), Gena Lee Nolin and some other Baywatch skank…did I miss any?

The whole family agreed that this one was better than the third one, which was previously the best one. Although it was mostly ridiculously predictable, there were a few WTF moments that had a tiny spark of genius, like the Christine cameo. I didn’t catch any other Stephen King references, it just seemed out of place, which made me love it all the more. Just a total, “fuck you, we’re going for it” moment. But isn’t Sharknado itself a whole spectacle of “fuck you, we’re going for it”?

The Wizard of Oz (3D)

Never before have I written a second review of a film. Not so much out of pride or any kind of belief that my reviews exist as the “final word” on the worth of a film…it’s more because I’m kind of lazy. (Or quite possibly…really fucking lazy.) The 3D re-release of The Wizard of Oz deserves a second review…not only because my original review was written 15 years ago, but because it truly is like watching a completely new film.

The images were so crisp and clear that it was almost detrimental to the experience. Seriously, I could see the edges of every munchkin’s baldcap, the fine edge of the lion’s wig and even the tin man’s white undershirt! Obviously, 3D wasn’t a consideration when this movie was originally filmed, so there’s nothing flying at your face or whizzing over your head. Even so, adding 3D wasn’t a total waste. Glinda’s bubble seemed to be really hanging in the air above us. Any scene with red smoke looked like some asshole had dropped a smokebomb in the front of the theater. Simply dazzling.

In my original review, I whined about having to share my Oz experience with a theater full of people. I wouldn’t say I’ve mellowed over the past decade and a half – I still loathe most theater audiences. But my selfishness over Oz has certainly decreased. When I found out about the 3D re-release, my first thought wasn’t, “I’ve gotta go see this,” but, “I’ve gotta take the kids to see this!” That’s right, my kids are just as obsessed with all things Oz as I am. My son has seen nearly every movie even vaguely Oz related – for several months, he watched The Wiz every day. His newest fixation is Oz Monopoly. My daughter is going to be Dorothy with sparkly boots for Halloween this year, wearing MY Dorothy dress, from when I was 5. I’ve done quite a good job of brainwashing them…and even though they watch the DVD at least once a week, they sat there like me, eyes wide in rapt attention at the 3D version. No screaming at them to be quiet, the only talking was to demand more candy out of my gigantic mom purse. That right there was worth the $14 a head admission price.

Oz the Great and Powerful

So did anyone else notice that Oz the Great and Powerful basically has the same plot as Army of Darkness? No? Just me?

Think about it. A man is whisked away by a cyclone/swirling vortex and transported to another time and place. The locals immediately recognize the newcomer as their prophesied Savior. At first, the newcomer is only in it for the chicks and other benefits…but as he gets to know the locals, he decides to fight the evil that is threatening them. The newcomer rallies their defenses and trains the locals using his otherworldly technology. After a fierce fight, the newcomer defeats the evil and saves the day, ending with a kiss…that’s BOTH films in a nutshell. Of course, that’s an oversimplification of both films, but you see what I’m getting at…I couldn’t stop paralleling them right there in the theater as I was watching.

Now for the $64,000 question – did I love the film? To quote every Romantic Comedy ever made, I loved the film, but I’m not IN love with the film. I’m IN LOVE with The Wizard of Oz and there can never be another. That being said, I did enjoy Oz the Great and Powerful, liked it and will probably buy the DVD. It might not be better than Return to Oz, but then again, it might be. Nostalgia fuzzes my mind and I have to remind myself that I’m not IN love with every film I loved as a kid. (Howard the Duck, I’m looking at you.)

I loved almost everything about the film though. I loved starting off the film in black and white like the original, but totally dispensing with the “it was all a dream” nonsense, which has always annoyed me. I liked Raimi’s not-so-subtle nods to his past films – “You’re all going to die!” and those rather rapey trees…and of course, Bruce himself. I liked the cast. Michelle Williams was underwhelming, but Mila Kunis was good enough to make up for it. Although she’s no Natalie Portman, I would totally have a girlcrush on her…if not for her exasperatingly disgusting taste in men. In fact, there was only one thing that sent a colossal bug up my ass…the romance. Denouement driven by romance sends me over the edge into bugshit nuts territory. Unless it’s The Princess Bride, I absolutely do NOT want to see a film ending with a…I’ll stop before I get carried away and say too much.

I was shocked by the remarkable restraint in marketing tie-ins with the film. I actually only noticed two – World Market sent me a few emails referencing a contest and my absolute favorite make-up – Urban Decay – released Glinda and Theodora themed eye shadow sets. WANT!

Of course my kids loved it, although the five year old had a bit of a problem keeping her 3D glasses on for the whole film. She made it about halfway through. The 3D effects were pretty to look at – especially the paper-cut style opening credits, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks on the TV at home. I’m guessing it will hit cable by the end of the summer? Oh…and they already announced a sequel. Hmmmm…where can they go with this story?

  

Flying Monkeys

Oz the Great and Powerful opened last week, but we weren’t able to fit it into our schedule…so we watched the next best thing – Flying Monkeys, courtesy of the SyFy Channel.

The plot follows the tried and true SyFy formula…mysterious beasties invade a town, kill half the population, but then are killed in a blaze of CGI glory by a scrappy teen. The teen in question is recent high school graduate Joan, whose hapless father gave her a monkey for a graduation gift. Let me pause for a moment to say that a monkey…even a cute little capuchin monkey…is the WORST fucking graduation present ever. The BEST fucking graduation present ever is a capuchin monkey that turns into a flying demon at night and kills your boyfriend while he’s boning the valedictorian. Oh, how I wish I got a vengeful flying demon monkey as a graduation present…not to name names, but there would have been more than a few dead motherfuckers back in 1994…

The flying demon monkey started to get a little creepy when it broke into Joan’s best friend’s house and watched her take a shower. It was definitely getting kind of rapey. What kind of flying demon monkey kills your cheating boyfriend, but then peeps on your best friend? Men are all the same…

Although the plot is not at all Oz related, there are a few nods throughout the movie. The flying monkey invasion is set in Gale, Kansas. Joan drives a red car, possibly Ruby red? The strangest nod, however, was not to Oz, but to Dazed and Confused. After a car of rowdy teenage girls drives by, the old gas station owner quotes the immortal Wooderson…”High school girls. I keep getting older, but they stay the same age.” Yes, this creepy motherfucker got eaten by flying demon monkeys, along with the rest of the town.

My husband was disappointed that the flying demon monkeys did not fling poo…and that is why I love him.

Return to Oz

There are few things scarier to a child than forced medical procedures – anything that requires being strapped down is bad, bad news. Even before I was aware of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I knew that shock therapy was fucked up.

Far scarier than anything that happened in Oz, Auntie Em dropping Dorothy off at the asylum to get her brains scrambled FUCKED MY SHIT UP. Nevermind the fact that Auntie Em was played by Carrie’s fucked up mom.

Even so, I let my kids watch it anyway. They love The Wizard of Oz just as much as I do…besides, I could always turn it off if they freak out, right? Well, they didn’t freak out, so don’t call CPS on me…yet.

The first question my son asked was, “Why isn’t it in black and white?” I’m pretty sure I asked my mom the same question over 25 years ago, sitting in the movie theater. He also wanted to know why the characters didn’t look the same. He understood Dorothy was a different actress , but he was bewildered that the Cowardly Lion was a real lion and the Tin Man and Scarecrow weren’t just dressed up people. I explained that the characters were meant to look like the illustrations from the original book, but I really need to buy him a copy, because my old copy doesn’t have the artwork. He’s one smart cookie for six years old – he caught on right away and didn’t ask too many questions after that. He really liked the film and was disappointed when I deleted it from the DVR to make more room for Hoarders and Animal Hoarders.

I’m still a big Fairuza Balk fan. I liked her as a crazy witch in The Craft, but I loved her as Ed Norton’s crazy girlfriend and Adam Sandler’s crazy girlfriend. She hasn’t done much lately, what happened to the market for crazy?

My three year old wouldn’t look at the screen when the Gnome King was exploding, but that was her only reaction – she didn’t cry or scream or demand I turn it off. She wasn’t scared of Mega Pythons either – she just laughed when it ate people, so I think I may have a little Knobby Jr. on my hands…seriously, DO NOT call CPS, I promise I won’t let her watch Faces of Death until after she starts Kindergarten.

 

Wild at Heart

One of most romantic films ever.

It was on The Independent Film Channel the other night, and whenever it’s on TV, I just can’t resist watching it, even though I have it on tape. Like most films by David Lynch, Wild at Heart affects me so emotionally, that I almost cry. Cry like most women cry at the end of Beaches…which is not me at all.

Of course the fact that Wild at Heart is a homage to The Wizard of Oz is one of the reasons to love this film. I stand by my declaration that The Wizard of Oz was the first Road Trip film ever made, and all Road Trip films thereafter contain a small piece of Oz…but few films actually admit it. Whereas the through Oz was bright and colorful for Dorothy, Lula and Sailor’s trip was a desolate wasteland, ending up in Big Tuna, Texas, instead of the Emerald City. Lula’s mother, Marietta was the perfect Wicked Witch, ultimately melting into a glass of liquor. But I never can decide which one is Dorothy – is it Sailor, or is it Lula????

The music of Chris Isaak doesn’t hurt either. Wicked Game launched his career, and that is the first song by him many people, including me, had ever heard from him. I didn’t really like him at first, until one fateful night. April and I were pretty fucked up, we were in college at the time, and I think she had gone to the pool. I was sitting in my apartment, in the dark, watching MTV, and the video for Wicked Game came on. I was glued to the set and I think I started crying, I’m not sure. I just felt so empty, the relationship I had at the time wasn’t like that at all – oh it was wicked all right, not in a good way, I just wanted to be rolling around on a beach somewhere, wanted something in black in white, but I think I just went to the pool after that. Pretty soon after that, I “borrowed” the Chris Isaak tape from my shitty roommate and never returned it. I hadn’t even seen Wild at Heart yet, though I ended up seeing it a year or so later. Wild at Heart evokes the same emotion from me, longing for a relationship like that, so passionate and sexual, seeming to be the only important thing in the world. The difference between now and then is that watching it now, I realize that it’s not real and that no one has that, at least not for very long. I cried so much because I wanted to have that illusion, rolling around on a beach or dancing on the side of a Texas Highway, that I didn’t realize sex isn’t all there is to a relationship. Now when I watch it, I take it as I would pornography, even above that, because it makes me feel something inside that pornography fails to – a reason for it all, not just sex, not just the fantasy. Sometimes, I almost feel relieved when I go back to my normal, boring life now. Only sometimes, though.

Nicolas Cage sure was hot, when he had hair. And he does a decent Elvis Impression. Yes, that really is him singing throughout the film. Like all Lynch films, gotta go buy the soundtrack – Angelo Badlamenti.

So I’ve poured my heart out, probably sounding wild at heart and weird on top, but that, in and of itself, should be enough for you to take this film seriously as an alternative to Beaches and/or pornography.

The Wizard of Oz

Absolutely, positively, undeniably my favorite film ever. No other film comes even close. Screw all those people that think Star Wars is the best film ever made. There would be no Star Wars if it wasn’t for The Wizard of Oz. (After that statement, I guess I should expect to get hate e-mail…)

I was Dorothy until about 6 or 7 years old. (Okay, sometimes I was Cinderella or Wonder Woman, too.) Anyway, my Dad would have the hardest time picking me up from Sunday school. He would come asking for Lara, but they would say, “No, that’s Dorothy,” and he would have to convince them otherwise. I had ruby slippers (okay, they were red shoes), the blue gingham dress, I even had a dog that looked like Toto. In other words, I was in complete denial of reality. I never heard of anyone going crazy like that over Luke Skywalker….okay, no more about Star Wars!

I was so excited when I heard about the re-release of The Wizard of Oz. I knew that it had been re-released before, but never in my lifetime, so this is pretty special. It was downright weird seeing it in the theater. It had always been my own experience before, having always watched it in my own living room, either taped or on TV. But this time, I had to share it with a whole theater full of people and I did not like it one bit. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing seeing it on the big screen. The colors were brighter than they ever could be on my crappy TV and it pretty much blew me away. I just couldn’t get over the feeling that every single person in the theater was invading my space. Selfish, huh? Exactly. It was almost as if I was betrayed by a lover – no one should get to see Oz but me…

But of course I am glad that others have gotten to see it. A whole new generation of children have been exposed to The Wizard of Oz, whereas they might not have been otherwise. Even though I think that it was re-released more as a marketing ploy (are the Oz beany babies that I saw at WalMart really necessary?), it is truly wonderful to see the Wizard again.