WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Movies like this irritate me. So far as unheard of end of the world movies go, this really wasn’t a bad watch and there are far worse ways for you to spend your time. It’s main problem is that it dragged, but not in the usual way that makes you feel bored to tears. Rather it has a lot happen in a relatively short space of time so when you feel that Earth is pretty much on her knees and a resolution to the problem is about to be discovered you realise that you’ve only been watching for half an hour and that there’s still an hour to go. There are some glaringly obvious factual issues floating around but on the whole the acting is quite decent and the special effects are of a reasonable quality. That said, the title of the movie is completely misleading: nothing gets blasted and the arctic is in no way involved in the problem.
Poor little humans, we’re in for another round of ‘let’s meet our maker.’ It was a beautiful day when the people of Australia were watching a total solar eclipse (of the heart) and, much to the joy of health officials everywhere, nobody burned their retinas out. As happens from time to time the solar eclipse has a slightly greater effect on the planet than would normally be desirable. Somehow the combination of the moon passing in front of the sun and our recent tendency to pump our atmosphere full of pollution leads to the ozone layer springing a leak just off the coast of Tasmania. This rather sizeable hole (which is apparently visible from space) is allowing super cooled air from the mesosphere to filter down to the surface. This results in a cold front that begins sweeping its way across the sea towards Tasmania and the rest of Australia.
Now understandably nobody really wants to be caught in a fast-approaching cold front where the temperatures drop to -80 degrees fahrenheit (-62 centigrade for those who, like myself, find degrees fahrenheit confusing). Unfortunately for those people living in the line of fire the government isn’t really prepared to believe that the planet’s ozone layer is ruptured and freezing people in a split second, so a few people have to turn into frozen lollies before anyone actually sits up and pays attention. This is an end of the world movie so of course we have a rogue scientist in the form of Jack Tate to help us overcome this minor issue. As with many rogue scientists Jack’s family is in a state of turmoil and he’s in the process of divorcing his wife and losing the trust of his teenage daughter. Could this crisis possibly bring this family back together again?
So now what is the government going to do about this little problem? Well they’re certainly not going to listen to Jack, the one man who might just have all the answers. While the government twiddles its thumbs Jack tries to get his family to safety and sticks his wife with the in-laws and takes his daughter back to his lab. While in the lab he will try to come up with the best solution to Earth’s current situation and possibly fix the screw up of a plan the Australian government has come up with on its own. The situation will become slightly more complicated by the fact that the ozone hole above Australia in some way sent ripples out across the planet and opened holes above other major cities in Europe, Asia and North America. The race is on to find a way to plug the holes before all of Earth gets turned into a giant ice palace.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- If meteorologists get drunk enough they could easily solve all the world’s problems.
- Divorce lawyers are quite happy to be called blood-sucking parasites.
- Fireworks and chinese take aways will not buy you your daughter’s loyalty.
- For some people a ship full of condensation is the craziest thing they’ve ever heard of.
- A hairdryer will fix the most waterlogged of hard drives.
- Diabetic meteorologists need excessive amounts of chocolate to do their work.
- Any fool who bangs on his keyboard hard enough will eventually hack into an American military satellite.
- A true gentleman will gladly offer to do a little insulin shopping in -50 degree weather.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
There have been times in the past where I have accused directors of forgetting to have things happen in their movies. As some form of karmic retribution for that comment I was subjected to Road Train (a.k.a. Road Kill), a movie where there’s just far too much going on. We have angry couples, cheating couples, a haunted truck, madmen with guns, road trips, the Australian outback, Cerberus and what I believe to be an unintentional homoerotic subtext. With so much going on the movie never really has time to explain anything properly, and a truck really isn’t as menacing a killer as the director was probably hoping it would be. It’s an interesting idea, but one that isn’t properly developed and one that doesn’t really have the effect you can feel the movie was going for.
I’m always a bit concerned when a movie opens with a sex scene. It gives you the sense that this isn’t a very confident movie because it’s not saving the nudity for later when the plot might be taking a little dip and it needs to keep the audience’s attention. Since this isn’t Dead Boyz Don’t Scream I was also a little perplexed as to why we saw more naked man than woman, since this is very uncommon in the horror world. The sexing twosome are Nina and Craig, and a little bit off from their tent is the non-sexing couple Liz and Marcus. Craig, Liz and Marcus have been friends for donkey’s years and they go on little camping excursions into the outback every year and Nina’s just tagged along for the ride. There’s also a very strong Brokeback feeling going on between Marcus and Craig. Whether it’s meant to be there or not I’m not sure, but something’s just odd between them. Anyways, having sexed themselves out and had coffee the group heads on to find even more nothing in the great outback for them to enjoy and camp in.
Whilst driving and looking for more nothing the group spots a road train coming up the road. A road train is a really enormous truck and the kids are pretty excited because apparently being overtaken by one is the ultimate road trip high. Things take a little turn for the worse when, instead of overtaking them, the truck plows into the back of them. After trying a few evasive manoeuvres the truck eventually rams into them again, forcing their car off the road and sending it flying. The car ends up being completely wrecked and Craig has a little bit of bone sticking out of his arm, but other than that the group is left reasonably unharmed. Marcus and Liz notice that the truck has stopped just off in the distance, so they decide to go and have a little chat with the driver while Nina tries to calm Craig down about the excruciating agony he’s in.
The rest of the movie is just a mix and match of ideas that desperately try to hold onto one another. When Marcus and Liz get to the truck they find that there’s no driver to be found anywhere. When Craig and Nina join them a madman appears out of nowhere and starts shooting at them, so the four jump in the truck and drive it off. The truck then puts them all to sleep and drives them into a dead-end where it starts pitting them all against one another. Nina also discovers that the truck has no fuel, and judging by the smell of its fuel tanks it never has, so how it actually manages to drive is another story that no one gives much thought to. Cerberus also seems to be locked in one of the trailers at the very back and lures Craig in there and possesses him. Everyone’s fighting with one another, the madman at one point passes the torch onto Marcus, there’s a cult of sorts in an abandoned house, who’s been cheating on who comes out and leads to more arguments, water runs out, heads are placed under tyres and so on and so on and so forth. By the end you don’t actually care what’s happening, you’re just begging for it all to end.
Road Train was clearly made on a decent budget but its whole premise was just poorly executed. Without all the bickering and the inclusion of Cerberus (which really doesn’t make sense and is never explained) it may have worked, but this was really painful to sit through.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Women who hear other people having sex instantly want to have sex themselves.
- Being part of an enormous accident where the car flies off the road and flips will only result in mild bruising.
- Even with absolutely no experience it’s dead easy to drive an enormous truck.
- Independent women are often threatened with becoming dingo food by Australian men.
- Women think you can flag down a commercial plane and ask them for help.
- When your best friend sleeps with your girlfriend a homoerotic bromance is bound to break out.
- Women are oblivious to things like miraculous healing, a blood-stained muscular torso and Satanic possession.
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Year of Release: 1987
IMDB Rating: 2.7 / 10
Level of Awful: High
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
When I first discovered the joys of buying b-grade movies in bulk this was one of the first movies I ever took out of the box and watched and, admittedly, have seen far more times than any individual ever should. Not being a great fan of the werewolf sub-genre I’ve never seen any of the other Howling movies but, from what I’ve gathered, it was all pretty much all downhill after the first one. If it got worse after this I really don’t know how they managed it. The concept is just plain daft, but not daft in a good way. On the up side, at least we get a rare opportunity to understand how werewolves, like any other species, evolved and adapted to suit their particular niche in the world. Good on Nicole Kidman for saying no to the lead role!
Deep, deep in the barren wastelands of Australia’s outback evolution has decided to give the human race the finger. For many years we’ve all suspected that werewolves walked amongst us and wondered why some of our friends can never meet for drinks on a night when there’s a full moon. What we didn’t suspect was that different varieties of werewolves existed, each specially adapted to its natural environment. Here, in the outback, a very special variety of werewolves has existed under the noses of us humans: the marsupial werewolf. Like the kangaroo or the koala the female marsupial werewolf has a pouch on her stomach where the embryonic baby climbs into a few weeks after the mother became pregnant. They tend to live in little family groups, most often headed by an alpha male and several subservient females. This is where our tale of a little marsupial werewolf with a big dream begins…
Apart from her pouch and the fact that she’s never known a world outside of her little clan Jerboa is your average young woman bursting with dreams of a better life. As she has now come of age the alpha male has had his eye on her and the other women have every intention of holding her down if that’s what the situation requires and Jerboa just isn’t that kind of girl; she wants to see the city, the lights, the Sydney Opera House! So off she runs one day, catches a bus and makes her way to the big city. Now the city can be a strange and dangerous place to an innocent young woman like Jerboa so it’s very fortunate that she runs into Donny who offers her the lead role in a new horror movie called Shapeshifters. Not knowing what a movie is or what the hell she’ll be expected to do Jerboa agrees anyway because this is one of those situations where it’s love at first sight and they can’t stand to be apart and so on and so on and so forth. If only life could be that simple…
Turns out that the pack Jerboa ran away from isn’t too wild about the fact that they’ve lost a female capable of breeding so somehow they manage to dig up three nuns’ outfits and send three of the women off to Sydney to track her down and bring her back home. The problem with this is that Jerboa and Donny have already done the deed and she currently has a little rat-like creature in her pouch just waiting to grow into something resembling a human. The only choice for the young couple? Make a mad run for it. Fortunately for them they won’t be doing it alone; on their side is Professor Beckmyer, a man obsessed with discovering the true nature of the werewolf and the injustices they have suffered at the hands of mankind, Olga, a Siberian werewolf who wants to mate with one of the marsupials to try and strengthen the bloodline (marsupial werewolves having the advantage of not having to carry their offspring to term) and Thylo, the alpha male of Jerboa’s pack, who escaped when the US government rounded them all up. All they have to do now is hide out in the wilderness and wait for a time when the world will be more accepting of their kind.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Horror directors will allow any old creature to star in their movies.
- In Australia any old creature can win a Best Actress award.
- Strobe lighting brings on a whole other kind of epilepsy in a marsupial werewolf.
- Young men are not at all disturbed when they find out the girl they fell madly in love with yesterday has a pouch.
- Young men won’t think twice about running off into the bush and abandoning their lives for said woman with a pouch.
- Just because it’s a werewolf skeleton it doesn’t mean it can’t still attack you.
- No ballerina’s outfit will ever make a werewolf look pretty.
- With time the Vatican will be shown to be tolerant of virtually anything.
HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS TRAILER