Saturday, November 24, 2012

Horror Fest VII Day One: The Boogens and Moontrap

 Forgive the shortness of the following reviews but here at Blogorium headquarters it's getting a little late... okay, much later than that to be honest, and I don't have much to add to The Boogens beyond what I wrote here and here.

 Moontrap, well, let's just say that there's not much that ever needs to be said about that movie, but I'll give it the old college try.

 But first, a few random thoughts on The Boogens: I watched it tonight with two people who hadn't seen the film before, hadn't ever heard of it, and most importantly didn't know what a Boogens looks like (yes, I am assuming that since the old man just calls them Boogens that the singular is also Boogens and if necessary the plural is Boogenses). They both confirmed what I and everybody who ever reviewed this film firmly believes: that if you knew what the creatures looked like at any point before the end of the film, you wouldn't be able to pay attention to the story at all. You'd be too busy waiting for the next time you saw a Boogens, so you could laugh at it (or, as they agreed, think it looks kind of adorable).

 While it's a long held belief in horror that the less you see of the monster, the more effective the film is (Alien, Jaws, Halloween), The Boogens relies entirely on the fact that it's creature is so goofy looking that there's no way to show it before the very end of the film. Without knowing that your creature is a half turtle / half octopus with saber-tooth tiger incisors, you're able to be vaguely invested in the story of Mark, Roger, Trish, and Jessica. Even Tiger, the stupid dog that everybody hates (including the main characters) has some level of empathy when he (SPOILER) gets it.

 Also, because I don't think I mentioned it last time, we spend a while trying to suss out where Silver City, Colorado was (because it doesn't exist and Trish would have to drive four hours to get back to Denver if they were in Silver City, New Mexico - the closest actual place) but the movie was film in Park City, Utah. I've mentioned the fact that The Boogens feels like a porno with all of the sex scenes removed (or tamed down) but it was nice to have someone else point out that so many parts of the movie have dialogue that sounds like a set-up for getting down only to cut to the next scene. I still contend that there's a This Ain't The Boogens: A XXX Parody out there somewhere.

 Finally, Rebecca Balding (Trish) was also in The Silent Scream, and Anne-Marie Martin (Jessica) was in Prom Night, Halloween II, The Young Ones, and most importantly, Sledge Hammer. Fred McCarren (Mark), in addition to looking like a long lost Duplass brother, was in Xanadu, and Jeff Harlan (Roger) was in Auto Focus and did voic-eover work for Batman Beyond. Jon Lormer had quite a prolific career doing television and film before playing Greenwalt, the old man (actual credit) in The Boogens, but chances are you either remember him as Professor Dactyl on Batman or as the old man who wants his birthday cake in Creepshow. Clearly the former over the latter.

 Okay so I had a lot more to say about The Boogens than I thought I would, which is good because Moontrap is pretty terrible. Well, by "pretty" I mean "really" and by "terrible" I mean "borderline unwatchable." While it's not uncommon to have conversations during the movie, I rarely get into a long discussion of the relative merits of Prometheus at the expense of the film at hand. Sure enough, we realized that we'd been ignoring Moontrap and, little to our surprise, we hadn't missed a thing.

 Written by Tex Ragsdale (which I assumed was a pseudonym for the person who really wrote this and realized how horrible it was, but apparently it's not) and directed by Robert Dyke (who is a real person that worked on miniatures for Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn), Moontrap is the nonsensical story of Colonel Jason Grant (Walter Koenig) and his flight partner Ray Tanner (Bruce Campbell) - nicknamed "Einstein" and "The Penetrator," if you were curious - two NASA pilots is the presumably near-future that come across a derelict spacecraft in Earth's orbit. It's from the moon, specifically the "Prometheus Crater" (you can see how the discussion started, I hope), and contain the corpse of a 14,000 year old mummified human astronaut, as well as a pod housing a robot. The robot escapes the NASA underground lab and uses the corpse to become a Cylon knock-off (that, or if you prefer, something the modern Battlestar Galactica ripped off in their Centurion design) that Jason and Ray help destroy.

 Ray and Jason are then allowed to fly to the moon to discover the origin of this ship, where they find a giant pyramid and a preserved woman named Mera (Leigh Lombardi) who doesn't speak English or understand why two astronauts are carrying space Uzis, but doesn't really seem to care and joins them. The robots, in the meantime, steal their lunar lander, kill Ray, and leave Jason alone to have sex with Mera in his handy space igloo, before capturing them and taking them on their ship to Earth to unleash an army of killer robots that will assimilate humanity and wipe them out.

 Wait... maybe I'm getting this all wrong. Maybe Prometheus and Battlestar Galactica ripped off Moontrap, and not only that but Tex Ragsdale and Robert Dyke beat Star Trek: The Next Generation to the punch with the whole "Borg" thing. Or maybe Moontrap is a sloppy mess of screenwriting where one plot point rarely leads to another, characters do next to nothing that makes sense, and depending on whether the budget can handle it or not, there is or is not sound in space. There is definitely Walter Koenig voice-over that's used in order to trick us into thinking he's saying something while floating around the derelict ship. I know that much, because his mouth isn't moving but he's clearly addressing Ray and not the audience.

 We watched Moontrap because of a request, and I like to entertain requests when possible, but this certainly was just as bad as I remembered it being. Maybe worse.

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