terrible movies

Cage

Cage_1989_poster

One of the great joys of quick-dry cement-headed action flicks like Cage is reveling in a piece of art which couldn’t be made today, especially given how folks are offended by just about everything it seems.

Featuring the Twin Towers Reb Brown and Lou Ferrigno, who’ll kick your teeth in even as you cower in your safe space, Cage is another one of those human cockfighting ring action flicks similar to Bloodsport. However it’s a wagon-load more racist. But have no fear. Nobody comes off well in this.

Reb (Scott) and Lou (Billy) play army buddies fighting over in Vietnam. Billy is seriously injured and airlifted back home, recuperating in a Veterans hospital. Scott helps him recover from his injuries and eventually, both of them are working honest-to-goodness blue collar jobs tending to the waterhole they opened, “Incoming.”

It’s frequented by two buffoonish stereotype Italians, Mario and Tony, bottom feeder mobsters, who just happen to be there when some equally buffoonish Mexican stereotypes rob the place. Impressed by how Scott and Billy (especially Billy) handle themselves, the indebted mob duo decides to kidnap the mentally challenged Billy and force him to fight in the underground Los Angeles cage fighting circuit.

The fighting ring, which isn’t unlike the earliest savage incarnation of the rule-free UFC, is governed by perhaps the ethnic group that comes off the least well in this production, the Chinese. Their champ is bankrolled by a Triad mobster and is king of the hill, top of the heap…

REB_BROWN_FERIGNOOf course, Scott has to track down his brother, and enlists the help of a reporter trying to break the story for the LA Times. Meanwhile, poor Billy has to fight for his very survival.

Cage is laughable, yet remains highly watchable. Reb Brown exudes effortless charm. He may possess an acting range from here til the end of your arm, but there’s something indescribably awesome about the man, without whom we wouldn’t have our podcast*.

Notable as well for featuring the uncredited ex-prison boxing champ Danny Trejo in a rather thankless role as hired muscle.

*** (out of 5)

[*CHECK OUT OUR PODCAST OF CAGE!]

Wolf House

Homo homini lupus est.* Why, oh why, do filmmakers have to subject us to herky-jerky terrible found footage movies like Wolf House? Well for starters, they’re cheap as heck to produce. And storyboarding them isn’t as rigorous.

Found footage/documentary-style films are highly polarizing. After all, the notion that people’s lives are so unimaginably compelling that every single second of their existence absolutely has to be documented by some idiot…well, that’s a tough sell, even to the most battle-tested reviewer who’s sick to his eye teeth of up-nostril shots.

And that’s not to say the odd found footage film isn’t decent. It’s a bit like the occasional salmon that survives a spawning run. When it comes to Wild Eye releases in particular, Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley is an adroit, if flawed, piece of work and worth a watch.

Wolf House, though, is a slop bucket of genre cliches: the “put that damn camera down!;” one character doing a mock David Attenborough wilderness voice-over; the night vision view that focuses on friends and what might be lurking in the dark; and of course, a guy so worried about his pending demise that he records a message he thinks will be viewed posthumously (subjecting the poor detectives to hours of solipsistic garbage and dizzying camerawork).

The Wolf House narrative is simple. Friends go missing in Niagara County, Upstate New York. And this is their story.

The setup is “cabin in the woods.”

Everything’s going splendidly, and one of the guys, who looks like a linebacker Travis Bickle, proposes to his girlfriend who’s described as a “real looker.”

One morning he shoots a creature that’s not a bear but what could either be a Sasquatch or “the last surviving Bigfoot.” And then things go predictably haywire.

There are doubled up references to Harry and the Hendersons as well as to Steven Spielberg (jeez, if your conceit is that the guy obsessively documenting the proceedings is a budding filmmaker, at least craft a few decent camera shots!).

Also, Wolf House uses split screen, but Annie Hall this ain’t. In fact, it’s the only time where there’s respite from motion sickness. And even THEN it’s a useless conceit, as the split screen is for, get this, a TRANSCRIPT of a 911 call. “Caller, what’s your emergency?” “Another bargain basement turd of a found footage film. Send help immediately!”

*1/2 (out of 5)

*Latin for “Man is a wolf to man…”