Benzona's Reviews.

The Forgotten Brilliance of “Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) has always been an outlier. The filmmakers took a shoestring budget of less than two million dollars and made a film that would gross well over forty million. Hot on the heels of the groundbreaking horror-comedy Evil Dead 2 (1987) Killer Klowns had some big shoes (no pun intended) to fill in the genre. Horror-Comedy has always been hugely important to me, as well as being a gateway to regular horror films, I’ve forged many great friendships over love of cheesy schlock from the 80s, I would even go as far to say horror-comedy changed how I viewed film as a whole.

The first time I watched Killer Klowns is what I would consider an ideal scenario for this type of film: a film that’s very funny on it's own, but bringing a few friends to riff with during the rare moments where jokes fail to land. I remember being surprised by the quality of the special effects, especially considering the film’s budget and genre: the “Klowns” (aliens that resemble deformed version of the docile earth-clown) are genuinely unsettling to look at, a combination of rubber masks and puppetry make these abominations almost feel alive in a very uncanny sort of way. In addition, the Klowns’ paraphernalia was all very detailed and well designed, even if only appearing on screen briefly.

Comparisons can be drawn to Stephen King’s IT (1986) as both involve killer extraterrestrial creatures that look like clowns, but the similarities largely end there. IT, despite having funny moments, largely takes the subject matter seriously, Killer Klowns does not take itself seriously, even for a moment, and that’s what makes it so beloved by so many. I previously praised the design of the Klowns, but they’re not the only special effects marvel on display, despite being cartoonish, the death scenes are memorable, as the Klowns liquify their victims, leaving behind nothing but a bloody skeleton wrapped in cotton candy. And the humor in this film is top notch, the supporting characters the Terenzi Brothers (portrayed by Michale Seigal and Peter Licassi) are standouts, delivering gag after gag effectively. The cast and crew clearly had fun making this film, which I think is important to producing an enjoyable movie. The film isn’t perfect, no film is. Notable issues include occasional sub-par acting and a fairly routine plot. However, I can somewhat excuse these flaws as strength, as it’s a lot more fun to see a bad actor hamming it up than a good actor embarrassing himself (see: John Travolta) Overall I recommend this film wholeheartedly, it’s considered a cult classic for all the right reasons, it would make for an amazing movie night with a handful of friends, but it is strong enough to stand on its own as an experience. Killer Klowns from outer space is available for free from Youtube movies and is more than worth your time.

"Metal Gear Solid 3": Another Exercise in Compelling Absurdity

metal gear solid 3

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004) is widely considered a landmark game. The third entry in Hideo Kojima’s legendary Metal Gear Solid series, Snake Eater had a lot to live up to, and it largely succeeded. I was late to the party with Metal Gear: I didn’t get into the series until over twenty years after its first entry, as a result: the games, once hardware-pushing marvels, didn’t impress me from a technological standpoint, however, the series’s stunning story and voice acting blew me away, and they quickly became some of my favorite games of all time.

Snake Eater was, for a long time, my least favorite game in the series. I always enjoyed it, but given it's a place as a prequel it felt weirdly disconnected from the other games to me. Gone were characters I had come to love like Solid Snake, Colonel Campbell, and Otacon, replaced by new characters Naked Snake, Major Zero, and EVA. Of course these new characters were still compelling, they were just unfamiliar to me, I would come to appreciate them during my second playthrough of the game, when it blew me away all over again. Snake Eater continues in the series tradition of placing exceptional storytelling above all else. And as with all the Metal Gear games, it is more than willing to embrace the absurd. Being an espionage game set in the 1960s, it takes clear inspiration from James Bond, incorporating the core tenants of the series it really embraces it's setting and forms an identity all of its own.

As with all of the Metal Gear games, the story is prioritized above all. Hideo Kojima is a storyteller first and a game developer fifth or sixth. The story is phenomenally over the top while riding the line between a total cheesefest and serious drama like a mechanical bull, love or hate him, Hideo Kojima knows how to tell a compelling story. The characters are extremely complex, and the voice actors really give it their all to make them come to life. The game isn’t perfect, however, the control scheme is unconventional and feels downright outdated at times, additionally, some actions rely on pressure sensitive inputs, which modern controllers do not support. Regardless, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is an experience I would recommend to everyone, if you don’t have the hardware, Youtube user KefkaProduction has edited each game in the metal gear saga into a “Game Movie” (heavily edited gameplay and story relevant dialog and cutscenes) so that everyone can experience the story, and believe me it’s a story worth experiencing.

Going Back to "Back To The Future"

Back To The Future

The Back to The Future trilogy, or BTTF, is one of the few trilogies that manages to completely maintain its standard of quality throughout all 3 parts, Star Wars sagged a little with Return of The Jedi, The Godfather Part III never got close to the near universal acclaim of the first two, and The Matrix Revolutions was just straight up bad. But with the Back to the Future trilogy Robert Zemeckis managed to consistently maintain an energy that most directors can’t keep going for the runtime of a single feature-length film, let alone three.

As a kid, I enjoyed Back to The Future for it’s likeable characters and impeccable sense of adventure, but now as a young adult I appreciate it even more for it’s incredible period-accurate clothing, wonderfully unique plot, and scarilly relevant social commentary. Unlike other time-travel stories, such as Avengers: Endgame or Doctor Who, which often play fast and loose with the mechanics of time travel for the sake of the plot, Back to The Future goes out of it's way to ensure they remain perfectly consistent, and it’s for this reason that it remains one of the most believable time travel films ever made.

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox really give life to the characters of Doc and Marty, their performances elevate an already great film to a truly legendary state. Alan Silvestri of Avengers fame wrote an incredible score that combined with the musical stylings of Huey Lewis and the News gives the trilogy an absolutely phenomenal soundtrack. One of the film’s greatest strengths comes from the fact that all three films flow perfectly into the next, while each stands fine on it's own, the overarching plot makes the trilogy absolutely perfect for binge-watching.

Something that surprised me when I rewatched the trilogy for this review was the social commentary given with the character of Biff Tannen. As a kid I thought he was a kind of cartoony over the top villain, but rewatching it now I see that he’s literally just Donald Trump. A violent, creepy sex pervert, who uses the absurd ammount of money he obtains in the second film to gain total control over Hill Valley and convert the town into a dystopian hellscape. Honestly, even without the pure satisfaction of seeing an analog for President Trump get covered in manure, this is a trilogy that everyone should experience at least once.

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All Content © Ian Janas 2020.