Tag Archives: 1.5-star

Leprechaun (1993), directed by Mark Jones


If this movie had come out a decade earlier I might have seen it before now. I went to a lot of horror movies in the 80s, which was my heyday for theater-going. Saying that isn’t to say I would have liked it, though. I may have consumed much, but even back then I didn’t just eat it up. Most of it sucked, and I knew it. The Boogens, My Bloody Valentine, Final ExamLeprechaun would have fit right in. So why now?

Two words: Jennifer Aniston. In her first starring role. That these words now have a magic more powerful than a leprechaun’s is obvious. What was originally a poster showing the little gremlin peeking through a doorway is now a large photo of Aniston, with the little monster tucked away in a corner or shown, in silhouette, in the foreground. Even the tagline has changed: it used to say, “Your luck just ran out”; now it says, “Her luck just ran out.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not wild about Aniston. But I do miss Friends. And this movie was made the year before Friends started, so we’re talking about a very young and pretty Jennifer Aniston. I’ve seen movies with much less inducement, believe me.

Is she worth it? I mean, does she make the movie watchable? I thought for awhile she might. When we first see her, she’s wearing a short dress, and there’s a lovely shot of her walking up a flight of stairs — with the camera, of course, at ground level. Before long, however, she’s changed into an awful pair of shorts and, well, the magic was gone. Permanently.

Leprechaun made money, though, quite a lot of it. I suppose Mark Jones, who both wrote and directed the film, deserves kudos for coming up with an original monster. But I was never one of those who believed that the monster was the star. I stopped watching Hellraiser because it became all about Pinhead (or that’s my sense of it, anyway). I was disappointed (and a little disgusted) that Hannibal Lecter became the focus of the sequel to Silence of the Lambs. Even when I continued to watch — I saw Friday the 13th up to about #7 and I’ve seen four or five of the Halloween films — it wasn’t because of the monster, it was because of the scenario. That my enjoyment even then generally continued to decline is probably because I was missing the point: I was supposed to root for the bad guy. And I didn’t. So, yeah, evil leprechaun, that’s different. But who cares?

This movie isn’t any dumber than others of its ilk, but it isn’t any smarter, either. It’s about a leprechaun who wants to retrieve the gold that was stolen from him and who will kill anyone standing in his way. I guess it’s too much to ask that Jones do something clever with that idea, to do for leprechauns what Stephen Chiodo did for clowns in Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Too much — because what is there really to say about leprechauns? What are the jokes? I don’t know, and Jones clearly doesn’t either. In fact, he lifts a few from clowns: we see the sprite riding a tricycle and a toy motor car. It’s kind of pathetic.

Ah, but then, so am I. Why do I still think tilting my head will make the camera go lower?


Left Behind (2014), directed by Vic Armstrong


Slack and severely underwritten story about several uninteresting sinners who, on the day of the Biblical Rapture, are left behind while millions of others from all around the world simply vanish. One man believes aliens are behind the disappearances, and for all the evidence in the film of God’s involvement (there is none), he might as well be right. Nicolas Cage is Rayford Steele, an airline pilot and adulterer, who may or may not make it back to New York after his plane is damaged during a flight to London. Meanwhile, Chloe (Cassi Thomson), his religion-hating college-age daughter, tries to cope with the loss of her mother and younger brother in a world rapidly descending into chaos. Based on the first book in the 16-volume series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and that’s about what this film feels like: 1/16th of a complete story. With a diffuse and inept script, forgettable acting, and an unimaginative effort behind the camera by Vic Armstrong.

Lovelace (2013), directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

lovelace-poster - small♦½

I don’t know what we’re supposed to take away from this movie, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with “the seventies.” I say this because the filmmakers refuse to allow us to forget it. Just when we think we might — just when we think there might be a universal message hiding somewhere in all this — they blast us with another song or another TV clip (Richard Nixon, Johnny Carson, Phil Donohue) or some more of those crazy clothes people wore back then. I think maybe this movie is telling us, The seventies were real, man!

That’s about as deep as this movie ever gets. It’s hard to be incoherent and deep at the same time.

Linda Lovelace, of course, is the woman who starred in Deep Throat, the record-breaking porno film that helped mainstream the entire industry. It was reviewed in the New York Times. In 1980, she published her autobiography, Ordeal, in which she spoke out against pornography and domestic violence, the latter because she claimed to have been threatened and beaten by her husband, Chuck Traynor, and forced by him into porn and prostitution.

I have no doubt that bad things happened to Ms. Boreman (her real name). Just as I have no doubt that this movie, posthumously, is one of them. It’s an awful mishmash of scenes with conflicting messages, as if the filmmakers couldn’t quite decide who the bad guys were. Except for Chuck. He’s rotten from start to finish. (But for that kind of thing, you’d do better to watch Star 80.)

It’s safe to say that the porn industry comes out  unscathed. As a matter of fact, it’s actually kind of cute. There’s the loving recreation of Linda’s most famous role, for instance. Her co-star, Harry Reems, seems like a nice guy, and provides the basis for the film’s only humor, when he gets a little too excited by Linda’s famous talent. There’s the photographer who shoots her for the movie poster, who, Linda says (in awe), makes her beautiful. There are the porn bigwigs who protect her from Chuck later in the film.

If it’s about anything, this film is about domestic violence, but even that won’t fly because, without the porn, there was no point in making it about Lovelace, specifically. And as a biopic, it’s too disjointed and incomplete to be of any real value. Watching this picture I got the distinct impression that Linda only made one movie (Deep Throat), but the reality is, she appeared in adult loops, including one involving bestiality, as well as in the sequel to Throat.

I can’t think of any reason to see this movie except to ogle Amanda Seyfried’s breasts, and that is, I think, the strongest indictment against it.

The Factory (2012), directed by Morgan O’Neill


Generic muddle about a cop chasing a serial killer/kidnapper.  Makes so little sense, director O’Neill has to go back and show you all the clues leading to its just-because-we-can ending, though all that gets clarified is just how bad and illogical this film is.  “Inspired by” true events, which would appear to be a mixture of the Joseph Fritzl and Gary Heidnik cases, with some Manson-like brainwashing thrown in to glue it all together.  John Cusack plays every cop ever, breaking things, beating people up, and doggedly pursuing his goal until, of course, he brilliantly solves the case.  The best line in the film occurs during the Christmas season, when a young boy whose older sister has been kidnapped asks his mom, “If Abby doesn’t come back, do I get her presents?”  What should have been a poignant moment is notable only for its comedy.  A dismal effort all around.