Friday, November 04, 2005

LIFEFORCE for the Millennium... but no hot naked alien babes

Back for a quick moment... the feature is halfway through shooting, and so far, things are going pretty well - no major disasters have occurred, we're still on schedule and we're at one location for the next few days.

MICRO-FILM #7 should be out on the newsstands about now - or check out the site to order directly. I have an article on the film FIVE YEARS in the issue, as well as assorted reviews, a couple of columns and a remembrance about the late Sarah Jacobson.

Halloween has come and gone, and I didn't have a chance to expound on my proposed double-feature of LIFEFORCE and DREAMCATCHER, my premise being that DREAMCATCHER is the LIFEFORCE for the Millennium Decade.

When I made this statement to a couple of friends last weekend, they basically laughed in my face... so let me restate the evidence for my "demented" remark...

Oddly enough, it was a remark about POLTERGEIST that helped get things started, my friend having watched it in a spate of movies about ghosts - and finding it really fucking stupid. I, myself, came to this conclusion a few years ago while watching it on television... what seemed really cool and scary back in 1982 became tired and overwrought, some 20 years later.

POLTERGEIST was supposed to have elevated director Tobe Hooper from the muck of "horror director" into the A-list of directors - it had all of the right elements - a good cast, lots and lots of special effects and a story that was a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride -- that it all really didn't make a whole lot of sense when you sat down and analyzed it was immaterial to an audience wanting to have the crap scared out of it. POLTERGEIST made tons of money in the Summer of '82, but it didn't do a thing for Hooper - the project was produced by Steven Spielberg (and, some would allege, creatively directed by him) and since the film used major elements of Spielberg's oevure, Spielberg got most of the credit for the picture's success and Hooper got the end of a buzzsaw.

When Hooper entered into a deal with Cannon Pictures, the first film he made "could" be seen as a response to the POLTERGEIST experience - a sci-fi/horror picture freed from the cuddly restraints of Spielberg, yet could function on that grand scale (distinguished cast, a thrill-ride story, and - again - lots and lots of State Of The Art effects)...


And the general audience at the time promptly responded, "What the Fuck?!", apparently not ready for an adaptation of Colin Wilson's THE SPACE VAMPIRES done as a slightly tongue-in-cheek homage to Hammer Studios brand of grand scale sci-fi horror, with lots of sexual subtext, and best of all, Matilda May making her debut as a hot alien babe sucking the life out of people and traipsing around naked for the first 1/3rd of the movie.

Some 20 years later, Lawrence Kasdan, the writer/director of films such as THE BIG CHILL, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, GRAND CANYON and such, decides to let his hair down and become "Larry Kasdan" again... you know, the guy that wrote RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and did films like BODY HEAT and SILVERADO. So he decides to take on Stephen King's novel of alien invasion, DREAMCATCHER... and the reaction to it upon release was... well, see above.

DREAMCATCHER is Stephen King Science Fiction, and SKSF is ... well, wonky, for lack of a better term. The protagonists are 4 guys, friends since childhood who share a bond with a fifth kid, who is developmentally disabled (and in the film, played by a New Kid On The Block). These four friends go off for a weekend in the woods, when strange things start to happen... animals start to migrate out of the woods, and they come across a man who appears to be lost.
Unfortunately, the man has been probed by aliens who are choosing this particular weekend to stage an offensive attack... and offensive is the word for the films first set piece, in which an alien creature, who has been burrowed up the lost man's butt, makes an appearance in the bathroom (a sequence that works a lot better on the page, especially when you're in the bathroom reading it -- and a note on how much horror has changed... for the over forty crowd, the things that scare you the most are the things that start coming out of your ass).

There are Worms of Death; one of the men (a Britisher playing an American) apparently is taken over by an alien entity, who speaks like a Bond villian... so you have a British actor pretending to be an American who's speaking like a Britisher when he's possessed - the mind starts to spin. Plus, the military gets involved in routing the alien invasion, and the head badass is Morgan Freeman, who eventually ends up a villian. The military hero, who is the voice of reason?

Tom Sizemore.

So anyway, it ends up in a three-way chase: the British/psuedo-American possessed guy is atttempting to get a Worm of Death to the water supply, which will eventually infect the world; the other surviving protagonist goes after him with Tom Sizemore and the retarded New Kid On The Block (yes, he has an important part in this to play) to stop the alien possessed guy; and they're being stalked by Freeman, who wants to Kill Them All and never mind about God sorting them all out or not. There are explosions aplenty, and in keeping with the theme of pulling things out of one's ass, the screenwriters go for broke and come up with something totally out of left field that makes NO sense at all - but oddly enough, it WORKS.

I rest my case.