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The 1995 Index: All the MFF 1995 Posts in One Place!

March 30, 2015

Hello all. Mark here.

1995 week is over and it was a big success! I had a blast writing about 1995 and all of its eccentricities. Whether it be researching the random moments or writing about the cult classics I’ve learned that 1995 was a multi-layered bringer of the good, the bad and the ugly.

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I’ve compiled all of the 1995 posts and put them in a convenient spot for you. Throughout the year I am going to update the list with further 95 shenanigans. We here at MFF are trying to accumulated the biggest, best and most random collection of 1995 posts on the planet.

Click on the links! Enjoy! Share! Help us build a wonderful 1995 collection.

The Evolution of Mallrats: The Blade Runner of Comedies

Mallrats

The MFF Random Awards: 1995 Edition! A collection of Asthmatic villains, tailored vests and hovercrafts

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Before Sunrise: The Best Romance of 1995

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Alec Trevelyan, Goro and Tony Perkins: The 1995 Heist Crew

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The Best Moments of the one of the Worst Years in Horror: Looking Back 20 Years to 1995

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The Best/Worst Fight of 1995: Analyzing the Goro vs. Johnny Cage Fight

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The Best Fights of 1995: Sword Grabs, Haymakers and Leg Squeezes

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Dracula: Dead and Loving It: Mel Brooks 1995 Comedic Gem

Dracula dead and loving it

Kids, To Die For, Welcome to the Dollhouse and Village of the Damned. Ranking the Troubled Youth of 1995

To Die For

The MFF 1995 Random Awards: Part Two: A Collection of nut shots, raspberries and swimming pools

Dolph

Goldeneye: The 1995 Resurgence of Bond

goldeneye tie

The Best/Worst Monster of 1995: The Big Slimy Worm/Shark (Aka Dinner) in Waterworld

water world

The 1995 Jerk Squad: A collection of step brothers, Musicians and fashionable males

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20 Years of Rex Manning Day: A Look Back at the 1995 Cult Classic Empire Records. 

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Clueless – 20 Year Later

clueless fountain scene - cher

 

Clueless – 20 Years Later

March 29, 2015

As part of this week’s 1995 celebration, Mark asked some of his favorite people to write about movies made in 1995. I wasn’t sure where to begin so I exercised my Google muscles and searched around the internets for ideas… that was when, much to my horror, I started seeing ‘20th Anniversary Edition’ and ‘20th Birthday Celebration’  headlines on my screen.

Obviously 1995 was 20 years ago, but when you sit down and quantify it, you (meaning me) start to feel really old. Take a look at some of the things turning 20 this year…

  • The DVD is announced as a new media format
  • Starbucks Frappuccino
  • Dangerous Minds, Toy Story, Friday, Apollo 13
  • eBay
  • The World Wide Web available via AOL
  • Tom Hanks wins Best Actor Oscar for Forrest Gump
  • Christopher Reeve is paralyzed

and the real reason for this post…

clueless movie poster

Clueless is 20 years old this year — Cher, Josh, Tai, Christian, and Dionne have been adored by teens and adults alike for two decades.  To look at Paul Rudd (Josh), it is hard to believe that this much time has passed, seriously what is his secret??  If you find yourself looking for something to watch tonight, here are five arguments for the case of Clueless.

  1. Source Material. Another special anniversary to be noted this year, is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Emma, the material that Clueless is loosely a based on.  I cannot count the number of times that I have watched Clueless but it never loses its appeal or humor. Even with the multitude of pop culture references (Twin Peaks, Pippi Longstocking, Beavis and Butthead, Pauly Shore) I attribute that to solid and enduring source material.
  2. Likeable Characters. Sure Elton is kind of an entitled slimeball and Amber is a bitchy frenemy, but there is no real villain in this film.  We have a full cast of quirky, cliquey and lovable teenage characters who are trying to match-make their teachers (to help their GPA’s) and navigate through a mostly typical high school existence full of parties, charity drives, crushes, shopping, debate classes and drivers licence woes. clueless_gym class
  3. THE Closet. That closet though. The first time I saw Cher’s closet, I was in awe.  Nowadays, it would be still be pretty cool, but much more on par with the level of current technology.  I WANTED (read STILL want) that masterful and innovative display of clothing organization, not to mention the clothes within the closet as well.  On a similar topic- there is much talk about the fashion in this movie and the sheer volume of outfits worn by Cher and crew.  What I find impressive about the fashion is that it is clearly 90’s influenced garb, but it feels costumey enough that it still looks fresh and fun when watched 20 years later.cher  - clueless
  4. Awareness. It’s hard not to appreciate a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Tai says it best when Dionne and Cher are orienting her to the Bronson Alcott High landscape while using their best SAT Prep vocab words, ‘Wow, you guys talk like grown ups.’ This awareness shows up in how the schools various cliques are introduced, how the characters talk about themselves, and Tai’s well-thought out apology to Cher. But there is one way that I especially love, Cher’s voice-overs.  She is self-reflective but still naive, generous and helpful but still self-serving and she hashes all of this out via voice-over while we watch her delightful antics. clueless fountain scene - cher
  5. Father- Daughter Dynamic. Mel and Cher Horowitz have been on their own for a while and it is clear that this suits them just fine. Cher watches her dad’s health/diet, he smiles at her quirks.  She looks up to her lawyer dad and tries to incorporate aspects of his career into her behavior to make him proud. When Cher  argues and schemes her grades from average to excellent, a proud Mel says ‘Honey I couldn’t be prouder than if they were based on real grades’.  There are many father-son stories told in cinema, which makes this rare portrayal all the more delightful.

If these five reasons aren’t enough to make you want watch or re-watch Clueless, then in the immortal words of Amber… Whatever!

The Damned (2013), a solid premise and great atmosphere that fails to deliver an effective possession movie about an Evil Dead witch.

March 29, 2015

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MY CALL:  A solid premise and great atmosphere that fails to deliver an effective possession movie.  Despite some good performances and a decent ending, we are not completely reimbursed for the disappointing shift from an engaging, tense film to a nigh-dull, predictable experience.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The Damned:  Stronger Spanish-language films whose atmosphere’s actually deliver on their promises include The Orphanage (2007), [REC] (2007), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and The House at the End of Time (2013).

Also released under the title Gallow’s Hill and Encerrada, this Colombian film boasts a humble $5 million budget and uses it wisely.  It is also Colombia’s highest grossing film with 395,380 tickets sold (in Colombia) of the year…not horror film, but “film.”  Having seen this, I’ll say it doesn’t live up to that statement.  I mean, sure.  I guess I’m not surprised it was Colombia’s highest grossing horror film, but I’m a bit surprised it was their highest grossing film in general for the year.  Then again, this is perhaps the first Colombian movie I’ve ever reviewed.  So what do I know about their country’s film industry?

Reporter Gina (Carolina Guerra; Da Vinci’s Demons), her cameraman, a young girl, her father (Peter Facinelli; the Twilight Saga, Hollow Man 2) and soon-to-be stepmother (Sophia Myles; Outlander, Underworld: Evolution) find themselves stranded in the flash flooding mountains of Colombia and seek refuge in an old man’s house in the middle of nowhere.

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This premise already screams cookie-cutter plot, right?  Lost, car breaks down, people are stranded, they find an old house with a creepy host who offers them help but has no telephone and he doesn’t speak much…yeah, it does.  But you know what?  For what it is, it works.  After we meet the characters, find them stranded and see them to their creepy remote locale, this film captures a creepy atmosphere from the get-go.

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“Hey, that old guy asked us not to leave this room. What should we do while he gets us a glass of water?”

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“Where did they go?  Um….to look for a bathroom.”

Their remote location host is an old man who isn’t so happy to have guests.  He lets them in to take cover from the rain but explains that he has no means of communicating with the outside world and he doesn’t even want them to leave the living room.  Of course, the old man’s guests find an excuse to explore the house at the earliest opportunity and they stumble across a locked cell in the basement incarcerating a young girl.  They release her and, in doing so, release “the damned” upon the house.  From here, this becomes a possession movie which declares a witch’s curse to be the problem, but it feels a lot more like Evil Dead (1981, 1987, 2013) revisited using the Fallen (1998) playbook.

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What worked?  Carolina Guerra gives the best, twisted performance as a possessed deadite and, until the possession premise was obvious, the atmosphere was powerful and eerie. Spanish director Víctor García (Mirrors 2, Return to the House on Haunted Hill) knows what creeps us out.  The special effects were limited and practical, but one scene involving a neck break and its aftermath (and the actor’s performance around it) was REALLY IMPRESSIVE.  Also, although predictable, I liked the (hardly-a-twist) ending.  It shined with a “horrific” sort of poetic justice.

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 The evil spirit of the witch exploits our secrets and sins much as the devil would.

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 Then she contorts and spasms and goes all Evil Dead.

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What didn’t work?  Once you know the premise, things become overly predictable and the atmosphere loses its luster.  I essentially found myself waiting for the witch’s spirit to finish her game of musical chairs as she possesses her way through the cast of protagonists.  It simply degenerated from engaging and tense, to almost dull.

I’m not alone in my opinion of this film—i.e., not being terribly impressed.  Out of almost 3000 ratings it averages only 5.2/10 on IMDB, the NY Daily News gave 2/5 stars and explained “strong performance doesn’t scare off moviegoers in this serviceable, but gruesome, horror flick,” and Rotten Tomatoes reveals an unprovocative rating of 11% (20% audience).  Of all places, Amazon has the highest ratings at 3.3/5 stars.

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The ambience, Carolina Guerra, and the ending might make this film worth a watch for the horror fan who likes to see as much as they can.  Just don’t expect anything original or to be wowed.

 

 

20 Years of Rex Manning Day: A Look Back at the 1995 Cult Classic Empire Records

March 28, 2015

Empire records poster

My life has reached a pinnacle. Joe is letting me close the store tonight.

With these immortal words we are introduced to the world of Empire Records. The cult classic is full of 90’s independent music and a boat load of future stars. In a recent podcast we had a listener question about what would be the perfect cinematic job. I quickly replied “working at Empire Records.” The employees were cool, the dancing plentiful and they planned an impromptu block party to save the store.

 

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Fresh off the success of Dazed and Confused and Clerks, Empire Records looked to perfect the day in the life of teenagers/twenty-somethings film. 1995 was a great year for single day movies as Before Sunrise, Mallrats, Kids, Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Friday were big hits or eventually became cult classics. Empire Records was panned by critics (24% RT) and quickly disappeared from theaters. However, it picked up a massive following on VHS and DVD. It has become so popular people are throwing “Rex Manning Day” parties 20 years later and Huffington Post cast the remake (Jennifer Lawrence, Shailene Woodley, Aubrey Plaza, Skylar Astin, Ezra Miller, Adam Driver, Kieran Culkin and Jake Johnston).

Why has the legacy lived on? One of the reasons Records is so beloved is because it plays like Breakfast Club met High Fidelity and spawned Dazed and Confused. It juggles subplots with aplomb and has something for everybody. It is easy to like the characters because they come from different walks of life and are able to work together in the coolest store ever. They might not always get along but they are united in their dislike of Rex Manning and saving the store.

 

rex manning

empire

 

Empire Records has an odd rhythm that was the product of studio meddling and big editing cuts. Director Allan Moyle in an interview with Buzzfeed had this to say about it:

“The studio was in a cocaine mentality, while we at the movie were in a pot mentality.” Part of the feel of the film was also lost via Regency’s insistence that it remain PG-13, rather than have the R-rating of the original script; that’s why none of the characters could be shown actually smoking cigarettes or marijuana, why they couldn’t swear like actual teenagers, why Eddie couldn’t run his weed operation on the roof — why they couldn’t, in other words, fully behave like the teens they were meant to portray.

Here is the story behind why it received such a limited release:

Regency decided to test the re-cut film on teen audiences — a common practice for any film, no matter the genre. The first screening took place in a white, middle-class area of the San Fernando Valley — and the audience loved it. Moyle was pleased, but Regency wanted to test it again. This time, however, the screening was in a lower-class, Hispanic neighborhood in the Valley — and the results were disastrous. It’s easy to see why: The cast, their character’s concerns, and the music itself are all lily-white.

The limited release is what allowed Empire Records to become a cult classic. Much like Mallrats it is a underachiever that was loved by underachievers. People united around Empire Records because it was a misfit and offered something for everyone. Pretty much everything that could happen in one day happens in the film. It makes the life lessons learned in Breakfast Club seem boring because BC didn’t feature faux-funerals, sex and robberies.

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Another reason why the film is so popular is because it plays like a Generation-X time capsule. I remember buying cassettes and thinking music stores were the coolest thing ever. Watching it 20 years later you can’t help but smile when the Gin Blossoms or Sponge starts playing.  I remember getting my hands on the VHS and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. It was one of those movies that you heard about from somebody else. I also received Donnie Darko and Boondock Saints in this manner and they’ve lived long cult classic lives. The passing along of the film built a community of insiders who looked at it as their film. Empire Records has lived on because its fans won’t let it die.

I don’t think Empire Records could be remade. The era is over and the circumstances that lead to it being loved cannot be replicated. The remake would be too glossy and lack the personality that made the original a cult classic. That is why I am happy that people are discovering or rediscovering the film.

Watch Empire Records. Appreciate the music. Host a Rex Manning day.

 

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The MFF Podcast #4: The Sarlacc Pit, Annabelle and Jumping the horror shark

March 28, 2015

Hello all. Mark here!

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This is where the magic happens!

 

The Audible sponsored MFF Podcast is back and we are talking about The Sacrament, The Interview, Annabelle and the Sarlacc Pit. We go in depth about jumping the horror shark and look back at the hype of The Interview. As always we do Salacious Crumb impersonations and discuss Kurt Russell.

Big trouble

 

Sit back, relax and enjoy philosophical musings about lame cults and evil dolls with identity issues.

You can stream the pod on The Shark Dropper Website or you can download from Itunes.

If you get a moment please subscribe, review and rate the pod. It would be greatly appreciated!

The 1995 Jerk Squad: A collection of step brothers, musicians and fashionable males.

March 28, 2015

Hello all. Mark here.

The cinematic world needs jerks. Jerks move films forward and allow the heroes to save the day. Without jerks we’d be stuck with boring films full of nothing (not true). When a jerk is done right they become canonized and are cherished and disliked for decades.

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Biff!

We’ve already had a 1995 heist crew post so I decided to write about the jerks of 1995.  Think of them as the Ocean’s 11 of jerkiness. They are the supporting characters who are a pain in the ass and more often than not cause annoyance or slight discomfort. If you want a great example of a jerk look no further than the picture below.

Chet

Chet from Weird Science is a Jerk to the extreme

Without further ado here are the jerks of 1995!

Sidenote: I’ve left out the guys from the Jerky Boys movie because it seemed to easy.

 

Shannon – Mallrats

Shannon is the true elitist of the mall. He works at a fashionable store and has no problem intimidating the comic book nerds. He loves hooking up with women in uncomfortable spots (not a Volkswagen) and gets his comeuppance because he sleeps with a 16-year-old. Kevin Smith sums up Affleck’s early career in the Mallrats commentary when he said:

“You were just a guy who would beat ass all of the time.”

mallrats

 

Roach – Demon Night

Roach basically kills everybody then gets himself killed. In a classic jerk move he wipes up the evil blocking goo and dooms the rest of the survivors.  Most horror films need a jerk like this to move along the plot and give the audience something to cheer for when they meet a bloody death. People cheered when Mr. Roach was torn apart.

roach

 

Deebo- Friday

Deebo bullies, threatens and eventually loses his consciousness via a brick. He is the classic jerk who uses his size to bully the populace and throws upper cuts so devastating they knock people into the stratosphere.

Friday

 

Eric Gordon – Billy Madison

Eric is a big time turd who attempts  to blackmail, cheat and threaten his way into running a massive company. Classic jerk move! He also has this dialogue exchange in which he manages to be jerky, condescending, and more jerky.

Carl: I ate some Triscuit crackers in the car, you should have had some.

Eric: Well, maybe if you told me they were delicious Triscuit crackers I could have enjoyed them with you.

Carl: I’m sorry.

Eric: Well  “sorry” doesn’t put the Triscuit crackers in my stomach now, does it Carl?

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Rex Manning – Empire Records

Rex Manning is the worst. The employees of Empire Records were stoked to have him in the store signing autographs. They dubbed the special occasion “Rex Manning Day” and had a really nice set up for him.

 

rex manning

 

He arrived at the store in jerk mode and proceeded to hurt feelings and wreck expectations. The thing that elevates his jerkiness is he had a hit song called “Say No More Mon Amour!” That is the jerkiest song ever.

 

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Rick Sanford – Angus

Before James Van Der Beek was crying at the Creek he was harassing an overweight kid.

 

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Rick Sanford was a gawky kids nightmare in Angus. Rick was popular, athletic and really jerky. If you got on his radar you were in for a lot of hurt. However, the ENTIRE school rebelled against him and the jerk got his comeuppance.

angus

 Being a jerk at prom. Classic jerk move.

 

Paul – Tommy Boy

Rob Lowe was awesome in Tommy Boy. He played a total jerk who accused people of eating paint chips and had no problem smacking little kids in the face. Between Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy it is hard to imagine Rob Lowe was so nice in Parks & Recreation.

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Amber – Clueless

Whatever! Amber is the most spoiled person in a movie full of spoiled people. Amber is always in competition with Cher and she sets herself up for some mighty zingers. She might be misunderstood but I just think she is a jerk.

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Lolita - Welcome to the Dollhouse

Lolita is a monster who intimidates via blank stares and terrible words. She harasses the main dorky character and cements her status as a jerk in this moment.

Dawn Weiner: Why do you hate me?

Lolita: Because you’re ugly.

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Tony Perkis – Heavyweights

Attention campers. Lunch has been cancelled due to lack of hustle. Deal with it.

How do you help overweight kids lose weight? You act like a massive jerk and force them to take over the camp so they can sad eat. Tony Perkis was a perfect trial run for Stiller’s jerky Dodgeball character White Goodman.

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The Best/Worst Monster of 1995: The Big Slimy Worm/Shark (AKA Dinner) in Waterworld

March 27, 2015

water world

 

Roger Ebert explained Waterworld perfectly when he said:

I’ll remember some of the sights in “Waterworld” for a long time. But I won’t necessarily want to see them again.

I 100% agree with this sentiment for 118 of the 120 minutes of the film. The 118 minutes (including the credits) are excessive to the extreme and are a mixture of intriguing and dumb. There is a longer cut out in the world somewhere and I bet they explain the two minutes I became obsessed with.

Have you ever experienced a movie moment that leaves you perplexed? It could be a fleeting glance or a huge plot hole but you just can’t shake it. You stay awake at night and wonder why that moment happened. The 1995 film Waterworld features a monster scene that I’ve never been able to quit. When I watched Waterworld in the theater I had no idea what happened because I was digging into my twizzler bag and missed the sea beast entirely. I was confused, mystified and hungry after watching the group dig into delicious sea beast meat. I had to wait until the film came out on VHS to figure out what happened.

What happened? Not much. In the words of a CHUD article about the beast.

I am. I chomped Costner. I was

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Here is the how the questionable moment occurs. Kevin Costner is annoyed that the women on his boat are hungry. So, he jumps into the ocean armed with a tiny spear gun and starts trolling behind the boat. His nonchalance shows that he has done this before and it must be annoying. The women look on in awe (because Costner is amazing) and their expressions change as something starts bubbling up to the surface. A MASSIVE SEA BEAT WITH LIKE 6,000 TEETH SWALLOWS COSTNER WHOLE! We then get an underwater shot of the spear exploding out of the creatures belly. The women get fed.

Where did this monster come from?

Isn’t this a massive gamble?

How did the teeth miss Costner?

If this monster was so close why aren’t there more coming around to eat the giant carcass?

Couldn’t Mr. Sea Beast flip the boat?

Why is the beast laying flat when it came directly up from the ocean floor?

Sea eater waterworld

Wouldn’t the stupid Smoker jet skis be perfect food?

I’m guessing that a throwaway scene in one of the most expensive movies ever made hasn’t bothered many people. It was simply another moment of excess in an excessive film. However, I love movie monsters and have spent lengths discussing how the Sarlacc pit became a pit in Return of the Jedi. The wonky editing, rewrites and Costner’s ego (I kill big creatures easily!) created a very random scene that explains nothing while giving us something cool. The lack of information and ease of it all created a weird moment that has been burnt in my memory for 20 years.

Viva la easily killed sea beast!

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