Friday, July 20, 2012

The Babysitter (1980)

The Babysitter

Written by Jennifer Miller
Directed by Peter Medak

Jeff Benedict...William Shatner
Liz Benedict...Patty Duke
Tara Benedict...Quinn Cummings
Joanna Redwine...Stephanie Zimbalist

Dr. Jeff Benedict moves his family to a new town, looking for a fresh start. He and his wife Liz have been having problems, stemming from his over-working and her over-drinking, and it's been affecting their precocious daughter Tara. But the move has been difficult on her too, and she's become lonely and removed.

Wanting to take some of the strain off herself, Liz hires 18-year-old Joanna Redwine to help out around the house and be a companion to her daughter. Joanna is the perfect employee, a real catch. But before you can say The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (or Poison Ivy, or any of a dozen other titles), Joanna is weaseling her way into the very fabric of the family unit, looking to make it her own.

It's a very familiar formula, and there are very few surprises to be found here. Still, there is comfort to be found in familiarity, so this was an easy one for me to enjoy. Besides, where else could you see Captain Kirk making out with one of the Identical Cousins? That's worth the price of admission alone.

The performances are all pretty solid, especially for a TV movie. Being a TV movie, though, the more salacious elements are heavily downplayed and it feels censored although it's not. Like a PG-13 edit of an erotic thriller, it all seems a little off.

Patty Duke is great as the fragile wife, even though she seems influenced by the barely-legal babe way too easily. William Shatner's performance is somewhere between the Shakespearean staginess of his early days and the over-the-top hamminess of his latter career. His character makes some questionable choices, but he was probably thinking with his Tribble--and we all know the trouble those get us men into.

Stephanie Zimbalist may not be the most convincing sociopath, but god damn, is she nice to look at.

It won't be converting any skeptics into horror fans, but The Babysitter proves to be a very watchable, though very predictable, melodramatic thriller.

Not Rated
96 Minutes
United States

"I'm sick and tired of your innuendo!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hostel 3 (2011)

Hostel 3

Written by Michael D. Weiss
Directed by Scott Spiegel

Scott...Brian Hallisay
Justin...John Hensley
Carter McMullen...Kip Pardue

A Las Vegas bachelor party goes horribly awry when one of the attendees vanishes without a trace. The last person to see him was a professional escort, but unfortunately she seems to have gone missing too. The friends of both missing parties team up to find them, but what they don't realize is that they have been kidnapped by the Elite Hunting Club, an American offshoot of the organization from the previous two Hostel installments. Their friends are being tested and tortured, with an audience of high rollers betting on the outcome.

The Hostel franchise is probably more infamous than it is famous, one of the most guilty purveyors of the Torture Porn subgenre. When these films are watched, it is solely for the shocking scenes of murder and mayhem, and not for the storyline or any inherent value. It's a dirty shock and awe campaign, and although the thrill of such an endeavor is short lived and not typically worth frequent viewings, sometimes that simple shock is all you're looking for.

By the law of diminishing returns, and judging from the quality of the original, Hostel 3 shouldn't be worth a free rental. But surprisingly, it's not terrible. In fact, it's not bad at all. While it doesn't offer the same amount of visceral grue that attracted gorehounds to the series in the first place, it doesn't have the same amount of visceral grue that repelled others from the series in the first place.

Gorenography-wise, it's the weakest in the series, although it does have its moments. But as an actual movie? It's probably the strongest (which admittedly isn't saying much). Without Eli Roth at the helm, the plot is much less meandering, and there's not 45 minutes of inane douchebaggery to sit through before the horror kicks in.

It's not going to be topping many lists in the near future, but for 90 minutes of guilty entertainment you could do a lot worse. Things move at a pretty quick clip and there are a few outstanding twists along the way to keep things interesting.  Worth a watch.

Rated R
88 Minutes
United States



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