Chasing Ghosts — Naked Avengers — Abominable — Excel Saga — in brief — movie reviews
Posted on January 21, 2008 by Chris Nelson
So in the interest of cleaning out my queue, this past weekend I decided to kick back and watch a few bargain flicks I’ve picked up over the past year, but haven’t had time to watch. Sadly, with most of these I would have probably been better off had I left them in the queue. For those of you who relish bad reviews, enjoy. This set was so bad, I’m dubbing it my “weekend of pain.”
Chasing Ghosts . Okay, I’m stupid. I thought this film, found in the horror section at a Hollywood video closeout sale (only $1!) was a horror story about ghost hunters. Instead, the film is a tired retread of Se7en, executed in a fashion so awesomely bad as to rank with the worst films I’ve ever, ever seen. The basic story concerns a series of serial murders and…who cares. It’s retarded. The film features Michael Madsen in the lead (which should have been an indicator as to its quality), though believe it or not, he’s not the worst actor of the bunch. There are scenes that are astoundingly bad, sequences where police on a stakeout are shot at, and immediately go about checking their surroundings for evidence rather than chase the shooter; scenes where men piece together Polaroid photos into a larger picture, and then go about explaining to the audience they might form some sort puzzle; scenes where Michael Madsen tries his darndest to sound profound. Gary Busey (aka: the other, more hagard Nick Nolte), Meat Loaf Aday, James Duval (dressed as an Italian sleaze-bag and getting killed, sadly) and Shannyn Sossamon also pop up for the proceedings. Sossamon might have been a bright spot, but any honest fan knows she has only two main draws, one of which is her funky hair and the other of which is not her acting. Sadly, neither of these is on display in Chasing Ghosts. If you’re feeling a bit masochistic, by all means check out Chasing Ghosts. However, if you have any sense of self preservation, by all means skip it.
Naked Avengers (aka: Lethal Angels) . When I saw Cool Dimension I figured I’d seen about the worst an assassin-babes feature could get. I was wrong. At least Cool Dimension had a coherent story and some attractive leads. Naked Avengers supplies none of these, instead offering an utterly nonsensical tale of female vengeance with complete beasts as leads. Seriously, you’d think that “killer babes” was an easy enough concept to understand, but put these women in a lineup with the Elephant Man (sans burlap sacks) and have them scream “I’m a human being!,” and you’d be hard pressed to tell which one’s which. Then there are the sequences of character dialog, which resemble more the rantings of crack-addled nut-jobs than utterances of the most poorly educated human beings (yes, even including products of the California Public School system. Our fair state ranks 48th in the nation). And the sequences of “martial arts”? Don’t get me started. Naked Avengers was boring, stupid, inept, and in a word, terrible. At least with this feature I learned that my 360 can handle DVD subtitles even at 4x fast-forward.
Abominable . I picked this one up because it stars Jeffrey Combs. But when the film started I noticed that the credit actually read “also starring.”(Yup, he’s in it for five minutes or so). Then I discovered it was a Sci-Fi channel original. Then I began kicking myself. The basic story is a mashup of Rear Window and Grizzly, only with a Sasquatch in the place of the bear, and a group of camping females to provide the necessary political subtext and narrative symbolism. The Sasquatch might have been interesting, and possibly even frightening, if he wasn’t modeled after Metallica’s Lars Ulrich. Likewise the suspense might have been at least somewhat sustained if the characters did anything approaching the actions of real people. Matt McCoy (Seinfeld’s Lloyd Braun) does a decent job as the main character, Preston Rogers, even though said character evidences enough naivete (even sending the cops an email stating a “creature” has absconded with a girl into the woods) and ineptitude to rival the worst celebrity moms. That said, there are some nice cameos, including Dee Wallace Stone, Lance Henriksen, and of course Jeffrey Combs. Abominable was easily the best of this bunch, and a bit better than the average Sci-Fi film, but that’s not exactly approximating good.
Excel Saga . I’ve been trying to finish this animation for over a year now. I have only six episodes left, and then I’m free. Now the pain involved here is more the damage done to my eardrums by the endlessly shrieking lead pixies, not so much the perplexing story—or lack thereof. The self dubbed “Quack Experiment” anime has a new theme (inevitably a parody) each episode, each involving an attempt by a secret organization, Across, to take over the world. Each attempt fails, with the mission being abandoned in favor of random tangents. And you haven’t known random until you’ve seen this show — this stuff is waaaay out there. There are some plot threads that span multiple episodes, one concerning a group of municipal workers, another concerning a poor, but hard-working Brazilian immigrant named Pedro, an afro’d film/animation director named Nabeshin, and the fourth a dog kept by one of the main characters as an emergency source of food. The municipal workers are by and large uninteresting, but Pedro’s story is kind of cool. His family befalls a tragedy, and he himself is killed in a construction fire (and subsequently by drowning in Tokyo Bay, stuck inside a giant flan), but his strength of character gains him the affection of the will of the cosmos (an actual character), thereby sending him into even more random territories. The show’s more weird than entertaining, more perplexing than funny, but at least I’m nearing the end. I can’t quite say I’ve disliked watching Excel Saga, but I wouldn’t say I liked it either. Still, it’s an experience like no other.
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