Friday, April 15, 2011

Worth Mentioning - Keep an Eye Out

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Cody talks about the horrors of Pin and the insanity of Undefeatable, with some drama in between, while Jay recommends Alabama indie A Genesis Found.

PIN (1988)

Pin caught my attention when it first arrived on VHS at a local video store, but for some reason it was never one of the many horror movies that I rented from that store. It's always stuck in my mind as a movie to see, it just took me over twenty years to do so.

The story begins with a doctor who has a life-size transparent man dummy in his office, and he uses ventriloquism to have it interact with young patients, pretending to have the dummy - called Pin - help him make diagnoses. He has Pin interact with his own two children as well, even having him teach them important life lessons, and the kids are convinced that Pin a real, living person. The doctor's son Leon especially believes in Pin and trusts him. Pin is wise. He loves Pin. Even as he ages into adulthood, he apparently never learns about ventriloquism and the knucklehead continues to believe that Pin is real.

At one point, Leon witnesses his father's nurse using the anatomically correct Pin as a sex toy, giving him severe sexual hang ups on top of the rest of his nuttiness. He catches his sister Ursula with a boy and makes her promise never to have sex again... Though it's a bit too late, as the girl finds that she's pregnant. Her father performs the abortion.

Finally realizing that Leon is off when he catches him talking to Pin in the office one night (the boy is now Norman Bates psycho enough to provide the voice himself while still thinking that it's the dummy talking), the doctor puts Pin in the car and, with his wife riding shotgun, heads off to donate Pin to a medical school. A car accident kills the doctor and his wife on the way and Leon gets Pin back, moving him into the family home with him and Ursula.

From there it's a story of further descent into madness and dummy idolatry as Leon continues to talk to Pin and Ursula has to deal with living with her crazy, overprotective brother. She knows her brother's crazy, but she can't see him put away in a mental institution...

The acting is good, the adult Leon and Ursula are well-played by David Hewlett and Cyndy Preston, and the always great Terry O'Quinn plays their unpleasant doctor father. It's a very strange, creepy film, with some unsettling, disturbing moments. It disturbed me watching it now, I image it really would've messed with me in '88/'89. And I have to give an honorable mention to the awesome slow motion moment near the end.

THE HIT (1984)

Terence Stamp stars as Willie Parker, a former criminal living in Spain who's kidnapped by two hitmen - a seasoned professional (John Hurt) and his younger sidekick (a babyfaced Tim Roth) - who have been hired to drive him to Paris. Once in Paris, Parker will have to face a criminal colleague who he testified against ten years earlier and will inevitably be killed.

Calm and accepting his fate, Parker verbally toys with the hitmen throughout the long drive through picturesque Spanish locales, trying to manipulate their actions, stir up paranoia, turn them against each other. Another unwilling passenger is picked up along the way, an attractive female who complicates the situation for the hitmen even further.

It's an interesting, well-written film, directed with great style by Stephen Frears.


It's 1963 and teenage Adam's hormones are going wild. One night, he sees his neighbor reclining in her apartment, wearing nothing but a robe. He runs off to the bathroom with the vision of her in mind. Now interested in the woman across the street, he starts to act like a young creeper, secretly taking pictures of her, stealing her mail and going through it, finding out that her name is Catherine. He worms his way into her life by offering to do work around her place, and she hires him to do some landscaping. The more Adam is around her, the more he realizes there's something big going on - Catherine may be having an affair with the U.S. President, and there's talk that he may be in danger.

Given the time period, we know how that turns out, but it was interesting to see how the events of the film play out against the backdrop of the real tragedy, and Gretchen Mol is beautiful and intriguing as the troubled Catherine.


This movie is amazingly ridiculous. The villain of the film is a man named Paul (played by the wondrously mulleted Don Niam), who goes by the name Stingray in the underground death matches he fights in. He's mentally and physically abusive to his wife, who he calls "mommy" and rapes while having flashbacks to his fights. When she finally leaves him, Stingray snaps completely - he puts red streaks in his mullet and hits the town to find his wife, his psychosis making him believe that any woman who vaguely resembles her is really his beloved Anna. He attacks them and kills them, removing their eyes. Eventually he makes the mistake of killing the sister of a streetfighter played by '90s direct-to-video action heroine Cynthia Rothrock.

I first found out about Undefeatable through a popular video on YouTube that now has over 8 million views. Titled "Best fight scene of all time", it spoils the end of the film but is so great that I had to see the 85 minutes of movie that came before. I wasn't disappointed. From watching that clip, you can see exactly what you're in for with the rest of the film, and will know if you want to see more of that or not. The film did lose me a bit during a police procedural stretch in the back end of act two, but was entertaining overall. In particular, any time Don Niam was on the screen, he was delivering gold.

Over-the-top, awkward, goofy, it's a "bad movie", but bad in a way that occasionally achieves greatness.

Jay's pick:

First off, I'd like to say that a previous mention, Pop Skull, is now available on Netflix Instant View:
Watch Pop Skull

With that, I'll move from one Alabama production to another as I spread the word about the Lee Fanning directed A Genesis Found. I attended high school at Hartselle High along with Fanning back in 2002-2005 so I guess you could call this more homer-ism, but I really enjoyed this film.


Directed by Lee Fanning
Starring Bennet Parker, Elliot Moon, Luke Weaver, and Elise Zieman.

This independent film focuses on John Patton Jr.  in the 1930s and his grandson Gardner in present day. During 1938, at the Moundville Archaeological Park in Alabama, Patton Jr. discovers a skeleton that is neither animal nor man. He hides it away from the world until he later writes a book about his find and is labeled a liar and nut. In our present, his grandson Gardner and Gardner's documentary filmmaker cousin Bart set out to find the buried skeleton and prove the claims were true.

This film was made on a shoestring budget but it doesn't show. Fine performances, some nice camera work, and a really solid musical score all help to create a great drama/adventure that Fanning seems completely in control of at all times. There are a number of great reveals throughout the film that all seem perfectly calculated by the director. Veteran actors Jackson Pyle, Steven Burch, and Rob Wilds (The Night Flier) all do a fantastic job as some of the "elder" cast members while Fanning's younger group of actors all get the chance to shine and all do a fine job-- each stepping up and stealing certain scenes. I was especially impressed with Luke Weaver as Gardner's slick-talking documentary filmmaker cousin. Bennet Parker does a good job as John Patton Jr. and truly nails the charm and mannerisms of a young man in the 1930s.

This film is long, will make you think, and doesn't offer a lot in the way of flash, but there's a ton of story and development to feast your eyes upon, and the end result is a journey more than worth taking. You can rent this diamond in the rough for $2.99 by way of Amazon On Demand

1 comment:

  1. Undefeatable is a classic! Loved the last line of the movie: "I've enrolled you all in college!"