JANUARY 6, 2009
It’s been a damned long time since I’ve been able to hit up a Grindhouse night at the New Bev, so I was excited to see that not only would I be able to make it tonight, but that one of the films, Return Of The Demon (Cantonese: Mo Gao Yi Zhang), was a horror film, thus sparing me from having to watch some budget pack nonsense at work in order to make my film for the day. Unfortunately, it was also the 2nd film (after the pretty awesome sci-fi action comedy I Love Maria, aka Roboforce), which is traditionally a tough one for me. It’s late, I’ve been guzzling Bud Lights, and it was the SECOND movie I had to read. But I only dozed for like 15 minutes, which I think is way above my average.
Another thing not helping much is that the movie isn’t slow, but it’s very repetitive. Scenes go on for 10-15 minutes sometimes, and often don’t even really have any bearing on anything. At one point, one of our heroes tries to dance his way out of a room that is covered with eggs (he doesn’t want to break any of them). So after like 2-3 minutes of tiptoeing around and ballet movement, the villain (? – her introduction was apparently during my nap) starts telekinesis-ing the guy around, which results in another 5 or 6 minutes of him breaking eggs and getting covered in egg slime (though somewhere in there the ghost chick somehow controls his mind and makes him sing “I have AIDS and corn shit and I’m impotent!”, which momentarily improves matters). It’s one of a few examples of such overlong and repetitive sequences, all of which really hurt the pace and overall enjoyment of the movie At 75-80 minutes, this would have been a classic, but at damn near 100, interest starts to waver.
Also – the movie is seemingly unwilling to kill off any of its heroes until the final reel. It’s hard to really fear the villain, even factoring in the general goofiness of the film, when no one really seems like they are in danger. However, this actually works to the movie’s benefit in that aforementioned finale, as when someone finally DOES die, it’s pretty goddamn shocking.
I also dug the Hammer style ending. Villain dies via explosion, and just as I jokingly muttered “The End!” the credits indeed began to roll. It’s nice to know that by the time they got to the end of the movie, the director and writer finally figured out how to move along. Maybe in The Return Of The Return Of The Demon, we will get kung fu/ghost/supernatural entity/comedy perfection.
The IMDb page for this movie is flimsier than the one for the student film I edited. No external reviews, no message board comments, no trivia, not even a goddamn genre tagging. Safe to say that it’s not really well known, so I am guessing that few of you are reading this entire review. But for those who are, I will leave Tall F-in Joe to fill in some highlights in the comments, he’s good at that.
I would like to briefly talk about I Love Maria though. This one is a bit more well-known, thanks to being co-directed (and starring!) Tsui Hark, and is also far more entertaining. Like Demon, it gets a little repetitive at times, but it’s a far more exciting movie at its core. There’s a robot woman flying around, another robot that looks like the lovechild of ED-209 and one of Bioshock’s Big Daddies, lots of kung fu, a slapstick-y pair of heroes who think a dog is a pig, and lots and lots of mistranslated lines. Damn my drunkenness for not being able to recall any word for word, but trust me, they are a hoot. If you’re a fan of multi-genre fare, I would highly recommend it.
What say you?