About Really Awful Movies

Horror movie authors and journalists who also review exploitation, action, grindhouse, kung fu, sci fi and other genre films. We are hosts of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, a celebration of low budget cinema - smart genre film chat, predominantly horror movies.

Crackerjack

Charm, gumption and a Yippee-ki-yay motherf*cker vaulted Die Hard into everyone’s favorite Christmas classics list. Crackerjack, by contrast, will do the opposite.

Die Hard on a mountain, this Canadian cheapie also has German baddies, and Christopher Plummer subbing Zs for Th’s as a Teutonic villain who favors starch collars and ugly racial politics as he takes a bunch of partiers hostage.

Luckily, a besotted Chicago cop (Thomas Ian Griffith of Karate Kid III fame) on vacation with his sister and bro-in-law is there to intercede, but not without a few J&B whiskey product placements and sound stage sullen set pieces along the way.

Crackerjack is bloody hilarious.

Its McClane is wound so tightly he punches out the organizer of his surprise party, and because this is knuckle-head action territory, he’s also been suspended from the force because he doesn’t see eye to bloodshot eye with the chief. And despite being able to knock back enough spirits to best Charles Bukowski, he’s still savvy and tough-as-nails enough to go toe-to-toe with his ruthless adversaries.

Genre fans will get a kick out of the Serpico nods, a Fredo-lite lifted right out of The Godfather and mise en scènes adorned with art depicting non-existent Chicago bluesmen, ’cause, you know…This is one Chicago cop who’s got the blues.

Crackerjack 3, the film’s equally hilarious (though unrelated) sequel, was a Koreatown DVD pick up by the authors of this site. In that one, Cold War spies reunite to take out a baddie threatening to lay waste to a German UN building. And its denouement reveals some subterfuge involving garden gnomes (!).

This one is a worthy series entry, with cable cars descending when they should be ascending, bizarre geographical blunders of bikinis and beach babes not normally present at such altitudes, and Nastassja Kinski as a deer-in-headlights love interest.

** (out of 5)

[Check out our Crackerjack discussion on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]

Friend Request

The bottom of the compost pile when it comes to horror subgenres, is undoubtedly social media horrors.

And Friend Request is no different, a rotten stinker predicated on a bullied spectral spookie who hijacks Facebook pages with gross content and torments her assailants.

But I Know What You Did This Summer this is not as the connection between the revenge seeker and the victims is barely there.

Laura is an uber-popular coed at a made-up California College populated by central casting types who chronicle their lavish lifestyles in Malibu, or some such place. Laura’s got 800 friends, 800 more than goth cliche loner, Marina, who sits in the back of psych class and pulls her hair out (maybe frustrated by the lack of quality slasher films tackling social media). To her credit, Laura reaches out to the outcast, only to be cyber-stalked and abused for her troubles.

Marina begins sending disturbing content to Laura’s friends, and posting snuff material as Laura (including a self-immolation vid), getting her expelled and making her the college pariah. Laura enlists the help of a hacker friend, who finds that the backend code is some witchcraft mumbo jumbo.

Meanwhile, turns out there’s little record of Marina even attending the school (maybe Felicity Huffman was lending a helping hand).

While the horror genre reflects cultural anxieties and has done so with aplomb in the past, whether it’s creeping conformity/communism in Invasion of the Body Snatchers or rampant consumerism of Dawn of the Dead,  however to date, no legit offering has adequately dealt with how social media is warping our minds, disrupting our concentration and making us depressed.

Whether it’s #horror, iMurders, Unfriended, or the best among them, Cam (which is a compliment so back-handed it should be used to slap a bitch) none can get out of their own way to tackle broader social implications of Pavlovian manipulation.

** (out of 5)

[Check out our Friend Request podcast!]