by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here on the IndyBlog.
Vietnam films have always been a tricky beast. While movies about previous wars have been shrouded in heroism and American pride, flicks set in the ’Nam have always had a decidedly unpatriotic pallor cast over them, with directors trying to insert their own anti-war sentiments into the thing instead of just telling a story. Director Joel Schumacher — the guy who nearly killed the Batman franchise—tries to earn back some critical cred with his take on the whole matter in Tigerland. He actually does a pretty good job, focusing on the before-war experiences of a group of young soldiers in the titular Tigerland, a hellish training ground that recreates what Vietnam will be like before they are actually shipped off. Colin Farrell is the cool, Hawkeye-esque recruit that stirs up rebellious behavior among the troops. But instead of glorifying it, Schumacher does the unthinkable and punishes him for it. An interesting take that is worth a look for Vietnam cinephiles.
Where Tigerland ends, Platoon begins, with young, wide-eyed patriot Chris (a fresh-faced, not-yet-insane Charlie Sheen) dropping right in the shit and losing his innocence almost immediately. Platoon is another ham-fisted, over-baked study of inhumanity through the eyes of Oliver Stone, one that, upon original release in 1986, was a massive hit, a genre-changing flick that not only won Best Picture, but changed the way war films would be made. In retrospect, however, it’s gratuitously silly, with characters that are more caricatures than anything else, with almost every soldier a monster hell-bent on gleefully killing as many Vietnamese as possible, in the most pornographic of ways. It’s as if Stone’s view of the war was, over time, dangerously skewed to make America as the most evil empire possible. Call me naïve, but I just don’t like seeing the military portrayed this way. Weird, I know.
I love giant mutant pig movies. Sure, it’s a small sub-genre, but, to me, it’s a terrifying one. I was a huge fan of James Isaac's riotous kitchen-sink horror flick Pig Hunt, a movie that was so deliriously wacky that any future killer-boar flick would have to really put in the work to top. France’s Prey does its darnedest, but it’s got too serious a tone, too bleak an outlook, to really be any fun. The mutations are coming thanks to chemicals at a neighboring factory, one that brings many family secrets to the forefront for the group hunting for the pigs, secrets that lead to one too many talky moments of finger-pointing pathos when porcine beast should be decimating the countryside. I guess, ultimately, I was bored more than anything else. I wanted more and didn’t get it. Still, if you’ve never seen a giant mutant pig movie, you could a lot worse. A lot worse.
Killer Yacht Party (from Troma, of course!) is a strange little indie horror film, one that I am still desperately trying to wrap my head around. It’s mildly amateurish and not very well-written, at all, but it resonated with me so deeply that I had a hard time not liking it. I appreciated its core message: that cool, beautiful people are dicks who should be, cinematically at least, aquatically slaughtered for total silver screen catharsis. Lacy, a surgically enhanced, blonde party-skank, drags her personality-driven wallflower friend Jane into one embarrassing situation after another, wherein all the good-looking assholes feel the need to remind her that she’s not up to par with them. It’s so painful to watch Jane get put through these insulting emotional incidents where she’s ridiculed and disregarded to her face, but when the offenders start getting offed in beautifully bloody ways, I couldn’t help but cheer and feel a bit of revenge by proxy. I’ve got your back, Jane, no matter how hackneyed the movie.