Charles Crichton’s “A Fish Called Wanda” is probably the last bit of Monty Python cinema we’ve ever gotten, and it embodies much of the same lunacy of the comedy troupe while also standing alone as one of the funniest movies ever made. “A Fish Called Wanda” is a zany and often raucous comedy that teams a slew of brilliant actors together for a unique, film that mixes sub-genres quite well and never loses sight of its comic themes, and Python-esque humor that borders on absurd without ever being ridiculous.
The adaptation of John Updike’s “Witches of Eastwick” is an engaging albeit soapy supernatural thriller that uses the idea of witches and Satan as a seductive male coming to something of a sexual war with a trio of witches with immense power. Over the course of “The Witches of Eastwick” he presents an enticing personality that’s despicable but manages to allure the trio of powerful women. The trio submits every essence of inner and outer power to him the more they find themselves falling for him, and obsessing over his sexual charisma. The way I tended to interpret “The Witches of Eastwick” is as a supernatural battle of wills between the sexes, and director George Miller manifests it through a brilliant cast.
Joe Lynch is a filmmaker not prone to delivering just everyday horror and genre outings, and “Mayhem” is proof of that. This is a man who should be delivering his off beat storytelling and directorial style to big budget features like James Gunn, but that is by no means a slight on the director. “Mayhem” is a demented dark satire and horror film filled with gore, dark humor, and a biting commentary on the doldrums of the work place and world of corporate back stabbing. Director Joe Lynch takes “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Warning Sign” and drops it in to a blender creating one of the most ruthless balls to the wall meshing of genres I’ve seen in a while. While Lynch is very liberal with the use of gore and splatter, there’s a damn good reasoning for all of what goes down.
I love John Landis, and I love that he at least tries to do something new whenever approaching the horror genre. No one else would try to bring together the mafia movie with the vampire movie. And while “Innocent Blood” stumbles in to a messy, dull, and silly horror comedy gangster picture, Landis is at least courageous enough to try to see where it’ll all take him. “Innocent Blood” suffers mainly from being so self congratulatory, to where Landis almost seems to be patting himself on the back at times. There are myriad scenes of characters in the movie watching classic horror movies on television, which is distracting considering the movie is set in Pittsburgh during the winter.
After the sad death of brilliant actor Raul Julia, the “Addams Family” film series was put to rest, despite both films being big commercial hits for their respective years. Almost immediately, Paramount sold the rights to the series to, baffling enough, Saban Entertainment. Saban, of course, is known for producing cheap but popular kids entertainment like “Power Rangers” and “Digimon.” The Saban label at the opening is almost a black mark on the entire movie, as the reboot of the reboot is a bargain basement third entry in to the series with all the cast replaced save for Lurch. The dark and Gothic aesthetic is missing, and comically sinister tone the series perfects is considerably watered down with the film feeling less like Tim Burton, and more like the terrible pilot to a show that never quite took off.
With the success of the first installment of the nineties “Addams Family” (however minimal), a sequel was only inevitable. The follow up is a turning point for the movies where the writers put the more popular side characters in to the forefront. This time around Fester and the kids get so much more focus, as Barry Sonnenfeld allows Fester more of the spotlight this time around. After the big reveal in the first film, Morticia and Gomez have a baby boy and much to their disappointment, Wednesday and Pugsley hate him. Despite making their feelings quite apparent, they persist in trying to kill their new baby brother, causing more headaches for their parents.
Among some of the best adaptations during the odd period in the nineties where every studio was putting sixties shows to film, “The Addams Family” is one of the best. While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Addams Family together again after the cult series, Barry Sonnenfeld offers up a unique retelling of the Addams Family that works well. The biggest change to the lore is now Uncle Fester is no longer Morticia’s uncle but an Addams’ and Gomez’s brother. This allows the writers to offer up a pretty fun and unique re-visiting of the family where the primary brood is played by some brilliant actors.
A lot of what makes Addams Family such a fun series is the darkly comic and sinister tone and great sense of Goth that comes with it. It’s not often I say this but watching the rare 1977 movie is kind of a chore to sit through, and you can sense it’s not a good movie at all once you gander at the grainy video and lack of production quality. This attempt at a series revival is a “feature length” television movie that is supposed to set off the new Addams Family. For some reason this is a reboot with the entire cast from the original series all over again, right down to an adult Wednesday and Pugsley. “Halloween with the Addams Family” isn’t just abysmal, but it’s boring, and painfully silly.