PDR Movie Thoughts: Pulse (1988)

Today I am thinking about a 1988 horror film, called Pulse.

Electricity Is Evil

Pulse is about some sort of technological entity, maybe living electricity or something, that seems to enjoy nothing more than taking over the electronics in suburban homes so as to slaughter those inside. We’re never given any kind of motivation or explanation or anything, but bad horror movies love to do bad storytelling and use the “whatever is in your imagination is scarier” excuse, so I’ll just allow it. Anyway, the protagonal victims here are this one kid* and his father and step-mother. Basically, their house tries to kill them. That’s the movie.

It isn’t a terrible movie, of course. As a fan of horror films, I have watched much worse. But it wasn’t great either I have enough trouble connecting with horror movies given that I’m not in the least afraid of the dark or of night-time. Anyone who knows me can attest, PDR thrives at night. But you know what else I am also not afraid of? Technology. Therefore, I am definitely not the target audience for a movie, the point of which is apparently “Remember, all this technology in our lives? It could kill us.” I’m a lot more off-put by the people using the tech than the tech itself.

And anyway, this movie is probably two decades too soon for a real Killer Technology House plot. Sure, lamps can overheat and start a fire and such, but the Killer Technology House in here is way too low-tech for anyone living in the 21st century. Okay, a lamp can overheat and start a fire or a hot water heater can… also overheat and cause scalding water to hurt people. Those are potentially deadly things, sure, but our houses these days are literally connected to the Internet. The Pulse Entity of 2018 could audio of it killing the kid onto the father’s phone so that the father is distracted and gets into a car accident. In 1988, the monster has to basically malfunction at the people. In 2018, it could use the technology as it is intended and still kill people. And all that without having it inexplicably lock doors that are in no way electric. Was it doing that with magnets, movie? What did I miss movie?

Also, we have electric locks now too, so we could do that too.

Anyway, in spite of my gripes, there will always be something about movies made in the 80s that I will appreciate. I don’t think it is just the time period (Though I do love the time period. I love that there was a time when calling someone a “turkey” was considered a serious insult), but there is something a quality to film of that time that I’d love to see brought into the modern era, and not just via works set in the 80s (Stranger Things).

In conclusion, I am willing to write and direct a sequel to this movie if Hollywood calls. Thank you, goodnight.

*It was not until I checked the IMDB page that I learned that the main kid was played by Joey from Blossom. Whoa. (Good reference, PDR)

PDR Movie Thoughts: Fatal Justice

I watch a lot of dumb movies. To get something out of it, I am going to start occasionally writing thoughts about them on my website. These are not reviews, because almost always these will be terrible films, just things I think of while watching.

Today’s Movie Thoughts are about Fatal Justice.

This scene does not happen in this movie.

The plot is pretty basic. A CIA Assassin code-named Diana is sent to kill a more senior CIA assassin code-named Mars. Early plot twist: Mars is her long-lost father. Later plot twist: The CIA is actually trying to wipe out its entire current generation of assassins to get new ones who are more loyal to newer administration (some of whom are compromised to the Russian mob).

It’s definitely a movie that uses violence and action as a spectacle, but it actually has a pretty anti-killing stance within the text. As he nears death, Mars says: “You know, it’s funny. You start killing for Uncle Sam, you’re young, you believe in the system. You want to do the best you can do… but when you find out that it’s a lie, it’s too late. You don’t have nothing left. You don’t have nothing left. It’s just you and your conscience. I’m so tired of killing. I just want to rest.” Of this, PDR, your local Pacifist Who Likes Action Movies, wholly approves (while admitting the hypocrisy).

When Diana is introduced, she is posing as a pizza deliverer to gun down an old man in front of his family. It’s implied the guy “deserved” it, but she feels bad for his family. Mars, meanwhile, is introduced as training the next generation of assassins. There’s a scene I actually like where Mars is doing a drill sergeant thing with the new volunteers. He asks one of them why he joined and the guy is like “To serve my country” and Mars is like “You are not! You’re here because you want to kill people” and he goes on about how this job lets them act out their sick fantasies and the government will sanction it and “pat you on the back”. Mars’s training technique is very much like the Marvel character Taskmaster’s, in that the students aren’t guaranteed to make it through alive. I suspect this is not how he’s always trained them, but that he’s only doing it this time he knows what’s coming.

As Diana and Mars team up to go into what seems like it’ll be a suicide mission: “You go East, I’ll go West.” “We’ll meet in Hell.” Someone thought that was deep.

Naturally, for all the movie laments what killing does to the protagonists, Diana still achieves her victory by slaughtering everyone who wronged her. (I mean, her ultimate victory is actually seeing through the CIA’s last ditch attempt to get her and escaping, but mostly the violence thing.)

What else? There’s some surprisingly expensive-seeming stuff going on: helicopter scenes, cars flipping, stunts where people fall from windows. Speaking of the helicopter(s)* There is a bit where a cop, over a speaker from a helicopter, was saying “This is the police, come out with your hands up” and then Diana shoots at him and he says, still over the speaker “Oh Shit” in a pretty bad delivery but it made me laugh. Diana actually does manage to bring down the helicopter with the pistol.

But those few scenes with a budget can’t cover up the fact that the movie is pure B-Grade trash. The bad camera quality, some terrible ADR work, crappy lighting. It’s all stuff I myself could probably exceed in these days of 2018 with my phone. Granted a lot of the acting is bad, but they do have actors. That’s one thing that even 2018 PDR can’t rival. Amusing to me: at one point Mars assigns four trainees orders to head North, South, East, and West respectively, but the actors don’t move in directions that can correspond with their orders.

Finally, for a movie that has nudity and swearing and such, Diana keeps using these exclamations that are endearingly mild. She’s all “You better believe it. And how!” and “Oh, man!” even in times of danger. Unfortunately, “You picked the wrong day to mess with me, buster” is not going to rank among the top action one liners of all time.

*While multiple helicopters appear in the narrative, I suspect they were all played by the same helicopter.

Beekeeper Reviews: C.T. Young

C.T. Young (whose initials don’t stand for anything) appears in the 1953 film Bright Road. C.T. is a troubled student who is singled out by Miss Richards, a new teacher who hopes to turn him around. Indeed, C.T. does not see the point of going to places like school and church, and when there he is completely unable to hide how much he doesn’t want to be there. It takes him two years to get through every grade and the old teachers have given up on him as a “backwards child”. But he isn’t a bad child. He doesn’t really associate with the other schoolchildren much, apart from his girlfriend Tanya, but he is extremely well behaved at home where he not only helps take care of the kids who are younger than him, but also uses the profits from selling his honey to do things like buy paint for the house. For Christmas, he even gives a jar of that honey, his only source of income, to his mother with a note saying it is “from the bees” and that’s pretty cute. C.T. loves other animals too. He has a dog named Come Here (who, incidentally, seems to be smart enough to warn him when he is running late for school), sings along with birds, and is fascinated by a caterpillar going into a cocoon which is a useful metaphor for his own story. Basically, C.T. is a very good child who just doesn’t fit into the usual schooling methods and that’s what Miss Richards sees in him. She recognizes that he is skilled at drawing and encourages him there. She also catches him helping another kid with math problems, proving that he may not care enough to do it for his own sake, but he’ll do it to help someone else.

But I’m not here to review good children. Lets focus on the beekeeping stuff. Of the bees he says, “Me and them, we’re sort of in business. They make a little honey, I sell it.” It doesn’t sound like he makes a lot of money, but the fact he makes any is a good start. At the film’s climax, a swarm of bees comes through the open classroom window looking for somewhere to hive. C.T. is unfazed as he stops the other students from panicking or harming the bees, grabs the queen, places her in a jar, and carries her, his hand covered in bees, to find a nice tree in the woods where they can live.

Unfortunately, that is a redemptive moment for an earlier bit of Beekeeper Rage. Granted, it takes an awful lot for C.T. to work up to that moment of anger. His girlfriend Tanya dies of pneumonia, which is understandably something one would be upset about. Then, after he returns to school, having skipped for a while, he finds classmates singing the “Three Blind Mice” song, which has always upset him for its imagery of cutting off tails of the mice (he loves animals that much). He reacts to this song by grabbing a jump-rope and swinging it around as a weapon to lash out at everyone, then gets into a fistfight with another student.

I like my beekeepers to be good fighters, and though that C.T.’s only fight is a Beekeeper Rage moment is sad, he does acquit himself well. He is also able to take several hits on the hands with a ruler from the principal without flinching. And, though he is told he must apologize, he notes that, after he saved everyone from the bees, he was forgiven without needing to apologize. Way to get a moral victory, C.T.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.

For the record, the movie is based off a short story called “See How They Run” by Mary Elizabeth Vroman, but in that story there is no mention of C.T. keeping bees, so it is not canon here.

Beekeeper Reviews: Bee Movie’s Beekeepers

It can’t be overstated: This movie depicts a universe in which bees are uncannily human. They speak English, they have technology and family units, they have furniture and clothes, they even have their own version of Larry King. But the beekeepers in the movie are inhumane. One benefit of the doubt can be given to the beekeepers: The bees have a policy that, until the events of the movie, they don’t speak to humans, but even so, these beekeepers see the bees who have chairs and paintings and still call bees “pinheads”? Not very observant.

Unlike my ideal beekeepers, these guys aren’t protecting their bees. They are exploiting them. One of them says specifically that “we throw it in some jars, slap a label on it, and it’s pretty much pure profit.” From the sounds of it, they don’t spend any money on taking care of the bees. The hives they make for their bees are represented as unfurnished, minuscule apartments with propaganda pictures of their queen about. The beekeepers have the typical technology, but even that is twisted to jerk-styles. When describing his smoker, one beekeepers says “Ninety puffs a minute, semi-automatic,” which sounds impressive until he adds “Twice the nicotine, all the tar!” These guys are actually addicting the human-like bees to the smoke to keep them exploitable. This “They make the honey, and we make the money” style is pretty abhorrent. Real beekeepers give something back. Also, these guys never portray any fighting or supernatural abilities. They don’t amount to much.

In a way, the real beekeepers in this movie are the bees themselves. But I don’t think that counts.

Beekeeper Review: Paul from 1313: Giant Killer Bees

Bees are disappearing and something needs to be done about that. “1313: Giant Killer Bees!” is a “movie” that uses that as the setup for its “plot”. In an attempt to give bees the boost they need to survive, some professor has shipped a bunch of handsome students to a tropical compound to try to fix bees with experiments. Paul is the only beekeeper in the project, everyone else being a mere scientist.

Well, the experiments result in giant bees that turn people into zombies and Paul dies almost immediately. They can’t all be winners. But hey, the movie says that he’s basically one of the only competent people involved in the project. He had nothing to do with the injections that caused the mutations. The fact that he removes his protective mask while running away from a giant bee could be a sign of stupidity, but maybe he can just gauge how useless it would be against a giant bee, right? Could be. Wants to free up his peripheral vision? Maybe?

Anyway… The giant bees cause the end of the world.

Two Honeycombs out of Five. He seemed to be a functional beekeeper, but in the face of the supernatural, he could not hold his own.