Pretty strange horror film. It starts out with Martin Sheen
crying over spilt milk.
Of course that makes a lot more sense when you realize that his
wife stepped in the milk as she was touching a shorted-out Mr.
Coffee, causing her to get fried like a moth in a bug zapper. The
film doesn't waste any time before getting to this. First, Martin
Sheen jogs a bit through the opening credits. We hear some eerie
music, although nothing eerie happens. It's just the milkman
making his morning rounds. We wonder what the eerie music is for.
Soon we realize that the seemingly benevolent milkman has
delivered the instrument of death, the dreaded carton of
half-and-half. Hey, everyone knows that stuff is dangerous. That's
why I only drink 5/8ths-and-3/8ths. Anyway, the credits stop
rolling, and ... zap ... the wife buys the farm.
A dairy farm, to be specific.
After this horrifying death, which is completely irrelevant to
the rest of the film, Sheen does what I think any of us would do
when confronted with agonizing grief. He moves himself and his son
from Minneapolis to New York City. Mind you, he's a police
psychologist. Maybe he thinks that mentally disturbed New York
cops will make the wife's macabre death seem positively festive in
comparison. I would have thought that the young son would be
better off in tranquil Minneapolis, among his friends and familiar
teachers and relatives, but I'm not a psychologist and Sheen is.
Apparently there is no better therapy for a traumatized kid than
to move him to The Big Apple and expose him to the stresses and
terrors of policemen haunted by their very existence.
It'll help toughen the kid up.
Yeah, I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense. And I wasn't
kidding about the irrelevance of that death. Neither the late wife
nor the Minneapolis origin was ever used in the plot in any way.
If the film had simply started with Sheen as a single parent
living in New York, it would have been exactly the same film.
Well, it would have been the same film without a woman getting bug-zapped, which I
guess was an element of "foreboding." Personally, I advocate less
foreboding and more afterboding. Maybe even some actual real-time
Anyway, the film centers around Santerķa, the Cuban-African
spirit religion. Santerķa has kind of an interesting background in
that it started as kind of a secret code used by certain slaves to
continue their indigenous religion. They would pretend to be
accepting Catholicism, thus pleasing their masters, and would seem
to be devoutly inspired by the Catholic saints. In fact, the
masters were amused that the simple Africans seemed to be more
interested in the saints than in God. ("Santerķa" essentially
means "saint-worship.") It turns out that the Africans weren't so
simple. In fact, they were some cagey-ass motherfuckers who had
figured out a way to worship their polygamous gods in the
guise of Catholic saints, with each saint acting as a secret
symbol for a specific god. That way the Africans were able to keep
their own beliefs while mollifying their masters with their
ostensible conversion to Catholicism. The bric-a-bric of the
Santerķa mythology is quite cinematic, since it combines the
colorful Catholic imagery of statues, candles, incense and rituals
with all sorts of voodoo-type exotica involving colored beads,
drums, tropical fruit, mysterious rituals, painted faces, sea
shells, and animal sacrifice.
Santerķa is exotic, but essentially benign unless you're a goat
or a chicken, so the film's
association with it was fundamentally window-dressing, designed to
provide a colorful backdrop for the film and to show how the white
people misunderstand and fear anything different. The real evil in
the film comes from a secret "brujerķa" (witchcraft) cult spun off
from Santerķa. These people are to Santerķa as satanists are to
Christians. Yeah, I know that's kind of obscure and will not be
grasped immediately, but that's the film's gimmick, for better or
worse. The brujerķa advocates are into some bad-ass stuff like
sacrificing humans, and watching Jeopardy re-runs when they
already know all the questions. Apparently they worship both JoBu
and Alex Trebek. One of their most powerful spells requires three
young boys to be sacrificed by their own parents. They've already
rubbed out two youngsters, but they're coming up empty-handed on
number three. Say, guess who has just moved to town with his son.
Be sure to word your guess in the form of a question.
I'm pretty sure you can take it from there.
It would seem that the sole power of this form of brujerķa is the Jedi mind trick.
I'm not kidding. Not even a little bit. In a scene which seems to
pay direct homage to Star Wars, the brujo smuggles a suitcase full
of evil paraphernalia through U.S. customs with the following
Customs Agent: So, Mr. ... (looks at passport) Voodoo?
Evil Caribbean Dude: That's FATHER Voodoo. I earned that title
with seven years in the evil seminary.
Customs Agent: So you're an evil priest?
Evil Caribbean Dude: I beg your pardon? I am most certainly not
an evil priest, sir. I am an evil HIGH priest.
Customs Agent: Oh, sorry, your eminence. And is the reason for
your trip evil business or evil pleasure?
Evil Caribbean Dude: Well, heh-heh, a little of both. I'm
really here to do some evil work for my boss, but I hope to catch
some evil sights while I'm here as well. You know there are so
many in New York. Trump Tower. Trump World Tower. Trump Place. And
as long as I'm here, maybe I'll catch an evil show, something with
Nathan Lane or ... hey, does Jeopardy tape here or in L.A.?
Customs Agent (shrugging shoulders amiably): Well, let's see
what you have in this suitcase. Open it please.
Evil Caribbean Dude, now with no eyeballs, menacingly:
You don't want to look in there. There's nothing of interest.
Customs Agent: I don't want to look in there. There's obviously
nothing of interest. Enjoy your stay in New York, Father
Structurally, The Believers is very similar to Rosemary's Baby,
probably too similar in several ways which become more and
more apparent as the plot unfolds. Apart from its obviously
derivative nature, it is a moderately interesting "urban horror"
film with a decent cast (Martin Sheen, Robert Loggia, Helen
Shaver, Jimmy Smits) and some agreeably gaudy symbology. It earns
its horror stripes less from tension or "jump" scares than from
creepiness. It lingers on images like autopsies, or worms and bugs crawling out
of people's skin and vital organs, or guys who can make their
eyeballs disappear. It's tame, bland fare by today's jaded, post-Tarantino
standards, but was probably considered fairly graphic in its day.
To tell ya the truth, I don't remember how it was received in
Rather surprisingly, two major talents were behind this movie. The Believers was directed by John Schlesinger of
Midnight Cowboy and Marathon Man fame. The screenplay was written
by Mark Frost, who also wrote what is probably my favorite sports
book, The Greatest Game Ever Played. Those guys have each mastered
other genres, but neither one of them seemed to be very
comfortable in the horror milieu. With so much high-powered talent
behind it, the film is certainly not incompetent, but it is
nothing more than an OK time-killer. Most frustratingly it has one
of those ambiguous post-resolution epilogues where you can't
really figure out what it is all supposed to mean because it seems
to be leaving room for a sequel which never materialized. Apart
from that frustrating ending, it's the kind of film you can watch
if it comes up on cable when you're in the mood for a movie, but
not the kind of film you plan your schedule around.
Note: I am lukewarm toward The Believers, but Tuna likes this
film substantially less.
Here are his comments:
The Believers (1987) is a supernatural thriller set in that
hotbed of the occult, New York City, starring Helen Shaver and
Martin Sheen. Sheen loses his wife due to a freak electrical
accident. He and his son move to New York, and their new landlady,
Helen Shaver, finds them a housekeeper. Sheen and Shaver become
an item. Turns out Sheen and his son are the target of a voodoo
cult that believes in child sacrifice, and have selected Sheen's
son for the honors.
I can't give you many more plot details, because I found it
totally unwatchable, and fast forwarded from one nude scene to the
next. If you are a fan of "Cuban voodoo cults trying to
sacrifice son of New York psychiatrist" films, you might enjoy it.
Otherwise, avoid it. D.
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To call this a surprise would be a severe understatement. Talladega Nights and World Trade Center performed as expected, but neither of them won the day. Step Up, the dancing film, took in 8.5 million dollars on its opening day, despite being in only 2400 theaters. It came close to tripling its estimate, and took in $3400 per screen, nearly twice as much as Talladega Nights.
Pulse, a new horror film, also did better than its expectations to pull into fourth place.
Both Pulse and Step Up succeeded without positive reviews. Pulse was totally unseen by critics, and Step Up was almost universally panned, although Variety liked it.
Zoom, the new Tim Allen superhero comedy, another one withheld from critics, bombed.
Little Miss Sunshine again had excellent revenues in limited distribution. It will pick up another 400-500 theaters next week.
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Twisted Sisters (2006)
Twisted Sisters (2006) is a direct-to-vid from writer/director/producer
Wolfgang Büld. As the title suggests, the story contains the surprise evil twin,
but it can be forgiven because is not the plot device used as the last minute solution to a mystery. In fact, we know about the evil twin less than half way into the
film, as do the police.
Men start turning up very dead with holes where their
genitals used to be, and witnesses identify Jennifer (Fiona Horsey) as the
murderer. She seems like an unlikely candidate. She's had a perfect life, and is
now pregnant and with a perfect man. It isn't until her parents confess that she is adopted and that she
may have a twin sister that we learn about Norah (also played by Fiona Horsey). Norah had a very different
life from her twin, having been raised by an uncle who raped her
early and often, and later having spent time in a hospital for the criminally insane
after having removed the same uncle's objectionable bits. Norah is insanely jealous of Jennifer's
happiness, and is bent
on evening up the score.
Since the evil twin bit is revealed mid-film, there are clearly many plot
twists to come after. The strength of this film, however, is not the plot but
the inventive murders, the most creative of which was accomplished by a large
fireworks apparatus in a man's asshole.
Comments and reviews tend toward the positive, and I
would agree. It's a solid straight-to-vid. Fiona Horsey played the two
characters well, the murders were clever, and the motivations were believable.
This is a C.
IMDb readers say 5.6.
shows breasts and buns in several scenes as both Jennifer and Sarah.
Dann reports on Side Effects:
If you have
even a mild feeling of good will towards the pharmaceutical industry, you
won't after you view this 2005 drug company expose which also doubles as a
romantic comedy. Must people already know this, but the people running the
drug business are such scum-sucking vermin that they make the worst
criminals look like choirboys in comparison. In any society that wasn't
run by corruption, greed, crooked on-the-take politicians, low-life
completely unethical businessmen, and dirty money, like ours is today,
they'd all be serving life sentences in jail.
The story follows the adventures of Karly,
a young drug representative for a major drug company. Karly struggles with
ethics and love as she tries to create a career for herself while still
being able to look herself in the mirror each morning.
During the course of the movie, which is
both funny and a good romance, director/writer Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau
brings out some of the industry's dirty little secrets like diabetes drugs
which costs only ten cents per pill to make, but wholesale for 12 dollars
per pill, giving the manufacturer an obscene and disgustingly large
profit, then retail for nineteen dollars per pill, creating another huge
and inexcusable profit, while prohibiting the poor and uninsured from
getting the drugs they need.
For Karly, love and ethics triumph in the
end, but this movie is most important for the information it provides.
Considering that the movie cost only one hundred and ninety thousand
dollars to make, while the drug industry spends over 25 BILLION dollars to
promote their outrageously inflated drugs, the producers may be fighting a
losing battle against a legal criminal activity, but they're trying, at
least, and EVERYONE should see this movie!
shows more areola in this version of the famous picture than in the actual
Vanity Fair cover
Franka Potente in the immortal German classic, The Three Gas Station
Chicks. (Rated a sterling 2.4 at IMDb). Franka became an instant
international legend with Run, Lola, Run, but her previous career was
ordinary. Her subsequent career has been in some higher-profile films, but
she herself hasn't made any special contribution.
Geno Lechner had a memorable topless scene in 1994's
Immortal Beloved. Here is what she's shown since then.
(l) Corps plonges, 1998 (c) Seerosenteich, 2003 (r)
Before Immortal Beloved, Geno offered her only lower
body exposure in her screen debut in Love at First Sight (1991)