Hillbillies

You don’t know the half of it.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the Hills Have Eyes movies. This is a weird franchise. The original 1977 film written and directed by Wes Craven has gone on to become a cult favourite, though I don’t think it’s anything special, or very good. It was followed up eight years later by The Hills Have Eyes Part II, a movie that I don’t think Craven wanted anything to do with and which appears to have been cobbled together out of whatever he’d shot after the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s terrible.

Then, nearly thirty years after the original, Alexandre Aja was picked to direct a remake which I think is the best of the horror-franchise remakes that were thick on the ground in the early 2000s. I love what Aja did, and the mutant hill people are a great twist.

There was a sequel to Aja’s movie the next year with The Hills Have Eyes 2. Though not as good, it’s still a decent attempt at doing something different, this time having a squad of National Guardsmen being hunted by the cannibal clan of hillbillies. Anyway, the upshot is that the remakes are actually more entertaining than the first two movies, which is rarely the case. Obviously, though, they aren’t for everyone.

Flies

He’s not alone in there.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the various Fly movies, which had their genesis in a story by George Langelaan first appearing in Playboy. Two minor classics are in the mix (the original and Cronenberg’s version), as well as some interesting follow-ups.

One thought: there was never a female Fly. The closest they came was the character of Judith in Curse of the Fly, but she wasn’t an insect hybrid. I don’t know if there’s any significance to this, but it did strike me as interesting. We’ve had female vampires, mummies, and werewolves, brides for Frankenstein and invisible women, but no female Fly. Somebody should get on that.

The Fly (1958)
Return of the Fly (1959)
Curse of the Fly (1965)
The Fly (1986)
The Fly II (1989)

They’re here!

Your invasion may be colourized.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching various body-snatcher movies. The basic idea may have come from Robert A. Heinlein’s novel The Puppet Masters (1951), which had a real political edge to it. Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers (1955), later made into the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which the novel subsequently adopted as its title, was less political, but that hasn’t stopped people from interpreting it (and all of its successors) that way. Let’s face it, it was the Cold War and body-snatching aliens were all part of the Red Scare. Anyway, here’s the line-up:

Invaders from Mars (1953)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Brain Eaters (1958)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Invaders from Mars (1986)
Body Snatchers (1993)
The Puppet Masters (1994)
The Faculty (1998)
The Invasion (2007)

Critter round-up

Leonardo DiCaprio, looking even prettier than his costar in his film debut.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the five (thus far) movies in the Critters franchise. Widely seen as a Gremlins rip-off, these omnivorous furballs apparently were independently conceived, and the first two movies aren’t all bad. The others are garbage, though Critters 4 does deserve some credit for being, I think, the first horror franchise to expand from Earth into space (later, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, and the Leprechaun franchises would all make a similar migration).

Critters (1986)
Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)
Critters 3 (1991)
Critters 4 (1992)
Critters Attack! (2019)

Spies in the ’60s

You have a lot to answer for, Mr. Bond.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching a bunch of spy movies from the 1960s (along with a couple of outliers at either end of that decade). Basically this means Bondmania: the Connery Bond movies and all their parodies, imitators, and correctives. Somehow Bond just hit on the perfect formula right from the start though, and no one could ever duplicate the success they had with it.

North by Northwest (1959)
Dr. No (1960)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Charade (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1965)
The Ipcress File (1965)
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)
Thunderball (1965)
Arabesque (1966)
The Quiller Memorandum (1966)
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1966)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Our Man Flint (1966)
Funeral in Berlin (1966)
Murderer’s Row (1966)
Modesty Blaise (1966)
Casino Royale (1967)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
In Like Flint (1967)
Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)
Deadlier Than the Male (1967)
Some Girls Do (1969)
Topaz (1969)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
The Kremlin Letter (1970)
Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Little green men

All he wants is his gold.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve just finished off the unheralded Leprechaun franchise. I’m a little impressed that they made 8 of these, but then there have been 8 Children of the Corn movies too. I guess the brand is worth, or has been worth, something. Warwick Davis was OK in the role in a couple of the early movies. The 2014 reboot, turning the title figure into a growling beast, was a woeful mistake. Linden Porco in 2018 actually showed some promise, but I don’t know if we’re at the end now anyway.

Leprechaun (1993)
Leprechaun 2 (1994)
Leprechaun 3 (1995)
Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)
Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)
Leprechaun 6: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003)
Leprechaun: Origins (2014)
Leprechaun Returns (2018)

Handsome, clever, and rich

Old-school gentrification.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. I think the rom-com Clueless still plays pretty fresh, and the two more traditional versions from 1996 (one with Gwyneth Paltrow, the other with Kate Beckinsale) are OK. For all the praise she received though, I think Paltrow makes the worst Emma. Then I finish up with the 2020 edition, starring Anya Taylor-Joy. I really enjoyed it, except for what they did to Mr. Knightley. Poor Mr. Knightley, as Emma’s father would say.

The transman

Her gun is bigger than his.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve finished watching the original trilogy of Jason Statham Transporter movies — The Transporter (2002), Transporter 2 (2005), and Transporter 3 (2008) — as well as the reboot The Transporter Refueled (2015). About what you’d expect from a franchise that apparently began life as a series of BMW car commercials. But maybe not quite as good as that. Generic stuff all around, though I didn’t think the reboot was as bad as reviewers made it out to be. Or, to put it another way, I didn’t find it to be as big a let-down.