Welcome to Four Horsemen Films!

Here at Four Horsemen Films, we're dedicated to some of the very best and worst cinematic masterpieces you know, love, and despise. Think of us as Bad Movies for Bad People, or as a liaison to the inner sanctum of cinema. Or, just think of us as quick and entertaining reads. That's what Four Horsemen Films is all about.

Monday, December 21, 2009

No Holds Barred (1989)

No Holds Barred (1989)

Written By: Dennis Hackin

Directed By: Thomas J. Wright

Starring: Hulk Hogan, Joan Severance, Kurt Fuller, Tony ‘Tiny’ Lister

Country of Origin: United States of America

The Idea:
The name says it all. Hulk Hogan. There has never been, nor do I expect there ever to be, a bigger name in the world of professional wrestling. Sure, you all have the list of names you could rattle off that compare, but EVERYBODY in the world has heard of Hulk Hogan. He’s a former five-time World Wrestling Federation Champion that starred as Thunderlips in Rocky III and made the terms WrestleMania and Hulkamania household and global. Say what you will about the state of his current situations, he’s still Hulk Fucking Hogan.

So it should come as no surprise that Vince McMahon and the WWF wanted to capitalize in any way they could on the Hulkster’s ever-growing popularity. The fastest and easiest way in the business of pro wrestling to get that license to print money is to merchandise the hell out of your talents. Hulkamania wouldn’t be what it was if you didn’t market the man to a wider demographic by slapping his face on everything you possibly could. There were Hulk Hogan action figures, water guns, coin banks, t-shirts, pants, championship belts, headbands, teddy bears, Frisbees, alarm clocks, watches, shoes, hats, slippers, and toothbrushes, and that’s just what I recall in my collection. Of course, it should go without saying by this point, that there were Hulk Hogan movies, too. In fact, both Hogan and McMahon recognized the need to make Hulk an even bigger star than he had already grown to be. So after Hogan’s appearance in Rocky III, the crew went to work on another cinematic epic of altogether different proportions: No Holds Barred.

The term itself is a vintage wrestling colloquialism about a knockdown, drag-out donnybrook between bitter rivals. So just by hearing it attached to the name Hulk Hogan, you would assume you’re in for a thrill ride of epic clashes between Hogan and evil villains in some phantom outlaw world. Sadly, this would actually be the plot of a slightly less and slightly better Hogan film, Suburban Commando. No Holds Barred, however, decided to rest comfortably on the idea that they could be completely unimaginative, stupid, and campy and still get by on Hulk Hogan as a legitimate action star. The following evidence supports this case.

Hogan plays Rip, the World Wrestling Federation Champion and most popular number one super guy in all the known world. He’s the biggest star and everybody, especially competing television networks, is desperate to get Rip for a ratings plug. Did Hogan executive produce this so that he could play a character that is an even more egotistical version of himself? Actually, yes, he did.

Rip is the essential “say your prayers, eat your vitamins” version of Hogan that most of us grew up with. He fights the bad guys in the ring and gives back to his many charities and friends in his off-times. You’d never once stop to think what would happen if Rip had children that were untalented moochers who live off of his money so they can crash cars and record shitty music albums. No, that would be too much like Hogan. He’s playing Rip, a better version of…himself. Big stretch there. Rip’s influence on the world is borderline orgasmic to everyone he comes in contact with, but more on that later. For now, we’ll stay focused on the World Television Network, a rival station (though it is never made clear what channel the WWF is being broadcast on, either) and its crude owner, Mr. Brell. Brell has a vision in which everyone who isn’t on the same wavelength as he is immediately becomes a “jockass” (his words, not mine) and we should do anything possible to lure Rip to the network.

Brell, played by Kurt “I played a network executive in Wayne’s World, also” Fuller, is a total dick. He does everything in his power to treat his people like garbage, making sexist and sometimes racist remarks to them whilst never losing track of his quest to keep Rip exclusive to WTN. He even goes so far as to hire Rip a new publicist, Samantha, played by Joan “I feel like I was paid for this movie in” Severance. Not surprisingly, after weeks of following Rip around on the road attempting to seduce him over to the WTN and Brell, Samantha falls for the giant oaf. After all, what’s not to love about Rip? As if his already mammoth reputation hasn’t won you over, he’s a listing of some other things he can do through the course of cinema magic:
-Makes footprint indentations on the outside of limousines by kicking them from the inside
-Explodes through sunroofs with Michael Jordan-esque vertical leaps
-Terrifies toadies into shitting themselves on cue for comedic effect
-Speaks fluent French
-Creates hilarious anecdotes while oiled up and naked (side note: I got to see Hulk Hogan’s ASS way too many times in this movie)
-Saves restaurants and diners with his impeccable chair throwing technique
-Sets off pyrotechnics by throwing barbells at neon signs and mirrors
-Cures Cancer (probably)

With all of his plans blowing up, Brell decides to create the incredibly homoerotic “Battle of the Tough Guys” in an attempt to lure Rip to his network. Somehow, this shoot fighting, mixed-martial arts style of competition draws big ratings, especially when Brell introduces a cross-eyed monster by the name of Zeus. Zeus terrorizes opponents in the ring, and women and children out of it. He nearly cripples Rip’s brother Randy until Rip agrees to fight Zeus one-on-one on Brell’s network. What follows is a long, boring match that starts in a wrestling ring (despite advertisements of no ring, referee, or rules, which clearly, all three are present) and ends when Zeus tumbles a few stories to his assumed death while Brell finds a new and interesting way to electrocute himself to death. Nobody seems to care about Rip’s multiple homicide caught on tape, as the film ends in that generally awesome everybody loves everybody way that the 80’s made famous.

Quote of the Film:
“Dookie?” -Rip
Final Thoughts:
Its funny, because if you really wanted to delve into the complete and total works that this movie has to offer, you’d recognize that WWF inadvertently predicted their own latent competition with the rise of MMA and UFC in the states. Sure, it isn’t a Battle of the Tough Guys, but you get the picture. While I criticize this movie for being unimaginative, I do so for the all-to-obvious combination of Hogan and McMahon failing to come up with something different from their everyday lives. Did you know that they sat in a hotel room for three days completely rewriting this script when they didn’t like the first draft? And this is what they came up with? In the months that followed, Hogan feuded with Zeus on WWF television at both SummerSlam and the Survivor Series, until what was supposed to be a one-on-one encounter at WrestleMania VI. But when box office and pay-per-view receipts turned up less than expected, Vince McMahon axed the idea and went with the backup plan of having Hulk Hogan defend the World title against the up and coming Ultimate Warrior. I wonder how that ended?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)
Written By: Fritz Gordon

Directed By:
Michael A. Simpson

Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Michael J. Pollard, Mark Oliver, Haynes Brooke

Country of Origin:
United States of America

The Idea:
I am recognizing a few flaws in my previous entries in this series. I don't believe I mentioned it previously, but the time it took for the producers of the original cult film in this line, that being Sleepaway Camp, is just unfathomable. Even during the 80's, the filmmakers on this project and the previous one, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, waited approximately five years before releasing back-to-back sequels. Think about that for a second: When Back to the Future was released in 1985, Robert Zemeckis didn't ponder what could be. He acted on his bankable commodity and created a pair of sequels as well that saw release in under four years. Figuring that the BTTF series had a budget much larger than that of these movies, it is justifiable that it would take this long.

But why in God's name did we have to wait five and six years respectively for the conclusion of something so low budget that it could have been made in a single Summer as a three-film set? I present to you Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, a movie that takes its name alone from The Who's "Baba O'Riley." Any similarities between this movie and that song end right there. Sleepaway Camp III is the weakest in the series, and not just because The Boss didn't make a cameo appearance.

Filmed back-to-back with Sleepaway Camp II, we find ourselves in a familiar predicament: Angela Baker is at large once again, tearing through the world of teeny campers with no real motivation other than that she is one messed up...uh...woman. In the opening ten minutes alone, Angela runs over an incoming camper with a garbage truck and assumes her identity. I would love to question where she found the means to steal and operate said truck, but hey, who has time for logistics?

Angela's fellow campers this time around have all been rescued from various broken homes and juvenile detention centers in the area; places where she herself should be quite familiar with. What ensues is more murder and mayhem in the same sadistic fashion as before, except that Angela seems to have lost that imaginative spark she once had. If we were to look at the lasting novelty of the series, we'd notice that the biggest draw of these campy epics are the outlandish, bizarre, and often completely impossible death scenes. Too bad they skipped on them come round 3. Sure, it is still pretty gory, with Angela tearing off some limbs, forcing campers to snort poisonous chemicals instead of their cocaine, and even using blunt instruments to the extremes, but when she just shoots a guy for no other reason than to watch him die, I begin to lose interest in this massacre.

A gun? Really? What happened to the girl/boy that drowned a girl in a mound of shit? What about the girl/boy that flooded the pedophile with boiling hot water? What about the curling iron? Did you forget about the curling iron up the vagina? Where did our precious memories of the series go to? Apparently, by the time they needed to film this one, they just decided that beating someone with a tree branch was just as effective for the audience. In a word: Wrong.

In an attempt to redeem the film, there are dozens of references to other horror films and pop culture icons of the past and present, but none of them serves an particular purpose in the canon. After approximately 90 minutes of waiting for Angela to break out into "Born in the U.S.A.," she is defeated by the few surviving "good girls and boys" style campers who managed to evade her brief killing spree. When all looks to be over, go figure that Angela would rise up and kill the paramedics taking her to the hospital. I question the very intent behind that move, as Angela puts herself in quite the vicious cycle by doing so. Her fate undetermined, she rides off into the sunset and we are left the same way we were each film before.

Member of the crew who should've been fired: Writer Fritz Gordon must have exhausted himself with that "stellar" approach he brought to Sleepaway Camp II, because he just gave up in Sleepaway Camp III. Same story, same idea, same campers (some of them), same ending. Been here before, and it sucked then, too.

Best Name in the Cast: Three cheers for Pamela Springsteen, who once again takes the cake for the award. Yes, Baby Bruce worked on no other projects of note (save for Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and yet she manages to excel as a raving psychopath with no motivation and a serious gender complex. I can still hold out for her to sing "The Wrestler," though.

Quote of the Film:
"I like movies with really good acting, like Gone With the Wind or Care Bears." -Cindy (Seriously, WTF?)

Final Thoughts:
With the completion of this film, a fourth entered pre-production and looked promising. Entitled Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor, the film was to take place long after the original horrific events and it even had seeds of doubt planted about who the killer would be. Supposedly going to be another shocker, only 30 minutes of principle photography were ever released. The rest is shrouded in mystery, an unfortunate casualty of the disinterest that loomed after the release of Sleepaway Camp III. In fact, for nearly 20 years, it was the preceding film that killed the franchise in a most unjust fashion. Luckily for us, the original creators and actors came back for a return engagement and released Return to Sleepaway Camp last year. If I were you, I wouldn't voluntarily watch this one to get inside the mind of Angela Baker, unless, that is, you want to be the next Angela Baker. PENIS!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Night of the Demons III (1997)

Night of the Demons III (1997)
Written By: Kevin Tenney

Directed By: Jim Kaufman

Starring: Amelia Kinkade

Country of Origin: United States of America

The Idea:
Damn. Another horror series is about to get a facelift with a supposedly clever new remake. No, I’m not talking about Friday the 13th, Halloween, or even Plan 9 From Outer Space. It has come to my attention that the entire Night of the Demons saga is finding a new home for a new generation just 20 years removed from its big “scream” debut. Somehow, the Cryptkeeper found that pun to be terrible.

With all of the movies getting remakes in the horror community, its time to open up our big book and review another film that, while not being a technical remake, was just that when it opened to the public. Before we get to all of that nonsense, we should trace our footsteps to just how we got here.

Night of the Demons was a story about a demon in the old haunted Hull House who possessed a group of youngsters looking to party. At the forefront of this Halloween nightmare was Angela, who had invited the crew to their eventual demise. Little did she know that in the midst of all of this demon possession and overt sexual molestation, she would meet her maker and be banished by the end of the evening. By the time Night of the Demons 2 rolled around, the producers attempted to expand the plot and background of their new cover girl Angela by incorporating her long lost sister, a fighting nun, and a series of wacky mishaps for horned up Catholic teenagers. Sure, the idea was mostly the same, but Night of the Demons 2 made up for it with even less sexual ambiguity and morals than its predecessor. That brings us perfectly up to speed with the plot and premise of Night of the Demons III, which can be interpreted almost scene for scene and character for character as a remake of the very first film.

Angela’s back on All Hallows Eve to take a few more souls to the grave with her while having her one night of freedom. She’ll have plenty to choose from this time around, as the kids are a little more rambunctious and rebellious than the first few bunches. That said, it should come to no surprise that in their attempts to buy (illegally) beer, they end up in a hostile showdown with a cop, shotgun, and a whole lotta trouble. When one of them (not surprisingly the black guy) is actually wounded badly the others panic and begin a wild gunfight that results in a downed (but never out) officer. As they escape, the “good” ones are entangled in a constant battle with the “bad” ones until they come to a logical hideout in Hull House. After all, it’s abandoned, and nobody would think to look there.

Sure enough, as soon as they get around to that whole “hiding” business, we manage to get the sensual Angela in on the business as she lures each one of the teens to their doom via a series of promises, sexual and otherwise. Now, if you’ve read the other two reviews from this film line, you have to be wondering what over the top sex situation is going to get itself CAPITALIZED for this review. We’ve already had LIPSTICK IN THE TITS and POSSESSED DEMON TITTIES, so the smart money would be on something involving a fanged nipple. Sorry to disappoint, but the pinnacle of stupidity in this one come when Angela corners Orson and Orson, equipped with a pistol, holds up our demon friend, threatening to blow her away. Angela reacts the same way anyone held at gunpoint would. She mimics the act of fellatio on the shaft of the pistol until magically all of the bullets are comfortably within her mouth and spit back into Orson’s hand. One more time, just for good measure. ANGELA SUCKS A GUN AS IF IT WERE A COCK. I love these movies.

Certainly, it isn’t the only highlight of this movie, but it has to be at the top of the list for cinematic excellence no matter where you look. Angela’s escapades see her form an army, just like we’ve seen before, until a scant few remain in an attempt to fight of the demon charge. Throw in a washed up detective (every bad horror movie has one) trying to get to the bottom of the liquor store shootout, and you’ve got the makings for a film that finds itself, in principle, copying and pasting itself from the late 80’s. No need to spoil the ending, you’ve probably already got it figured out.

Member of the crew who should’ve been fired: Kevin Tenney stuck it out through thick and thin with this franchise, but his efforts at writing this film were some of the laziest in movie history. We’re basically watching the same movie we’ve seen before, and even though the only remaining copy circulating on the internet is a French dub on the YouTube, its hard to save the third installment with bad voiceovers.

Best Name in the Cast: Poor Vlasta Vrana. Despite having an excellent knack for the alliterate name, this guy was doomed from the moment he stepped on screen. Vrana plays the aforementioned detective who, if you haven’t guessed already, is the tragic victim of
the Chief Wiggum named “Retirony.”

Quote of the Film:
“Do you think if I watered them they’d grow bigger?” -Abbie, in reference to her breasts. Wow. Just wow.

Final Thoughts: Let’s set the record straight: Night of the Demons III is about as original as the concept of using roman numerals to “class up” your shitty sequels. It borrows heavily from the first film in the series and gives little new information on what was developing into a nice little saga. No new pictures were made after this one failed, and up until this year, few mentions were made of the series outside of this website. That said, this movie might not live up to the camp standard of Night of the Demons or the often unheralded depth of Night of the Demons 2, but it certainly fits in with the rest of the crew for being an essential movie to watch on Halloween night. Granted, horror movies come and go, but few have that capture ability to be viewed on one particular day a year. Thankfully, when they suck hard on a gun like this, that one day is a small fraction of the calendar.