TONIGHT’S EPISODE: IT’S 2001 AND JOHN CARPENTER JUST DIRECTED A SPACE TRAVESTY
JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS
After his uneven, yet universally praised In the Mouth of Madness, cult director John Carpenter began a rapid descent into mediocrity. Not that some of his past efforts hadn’t been weak (Memoirs of an Invisible Man, I’m looking in your direction), but, beginning with Escape from L.A., continuing on through John Carpenter’s Vampires, and (hopefully) ending with Ghosts, Carpenter’s abilities as a filmmaker seemed to take a serious nosedive. Ghosts is a particularly disagreeable mess. A miscast variation of Carpenter’s classic Assault on Precinct 13 (Ice Cube, Clea DuVall, Pam Grier, and Jason Statham are all ridiculous in their roles), made in the early days of digital special effects, this poorly written mish mash of Horror and Sci-Fi clichés is just plain no fun. It’s unfortunate, because a movie about aliens and zombies should actually be pretty cool. A last minute subplot suggesting that humans are the descendents of a Martian race just further serves to muddle the affair.
THE GLASS HOUSE
In the early ‘90s, Hollywood fell in love with a new type of thriller. Hits like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Single White Female, gave voice to a fresh motif; the fear that those we trust most implicitly are the ones out to do us the most harm. Typically these films feature a wholesome main character who befriends a lunatic with a dark secret. Soon, said loon shows his or her true colors and our hero or heroine turns to friends and family for help. At this point, all of the other characters in the film are disbelievers, refusing to accept that the main character is in any actual danger. Variations on this theme reappeared throughout the decade, but the fad eventually petered out.
Enter The Glass House, an irrelevant slice of teen-noir that hit theaters about ten years too late for anyone to care. Leelee Sobieski and her little brother are sent to live with neighbors after their parents are killed in a car accident. The Glass family live in a swanky glass mansion (Get it?) and are highly respected members of the community. It doesn’t take long for Sobieski to discover their Dark Side, however, and the rest is just as boring and predictable as one might think. Poorly written, acted, and directed. Every ounce of would-be suspense is drained from the proceedings.
Another irrelevant slice of cinema, John Singleton’s Baby Boy is a half-hearted attempt at proselytizing. Almost a sequel to Singleton’s masterful debut Boyz N the Hood, Boy tells the tale of Jody, a go-nowhere slacker who has two kids with two different girls, no job, and no plans for the future. His life is affected, both positively and negatively, by two separate ex-convicts. Singleton tries to have his cake and eat it too, and therein lies the problem. By 2001, no one really cared about L.A. gang violence anymore, so, rather than make another gangsta flick, Singleton decided to make a movie about the lingering effects of gang culture on the black race. The message is great and the acting is superb (with Ving Rhames and Snoop Dogg both delivering stellar performances as the diametrically opposed ex-cons), but the writing and the direction are stilted and heavy handed.
Danger Brown spends his days searching the planet for that most elusive of prey, the VHS tape. He has dedicated his life to watching and reviewing long forgotten gems and flops from the Home Video era.