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Dec 102013
 

Star Fairies is yet another straight-to-video feature that’s based on a toy line. Up in the clouds in the land of Wish-Come-True is Castle Wish Star, where star fairy Princess Sparkle grants wishes to children all over the world when they say, “Star Light, Star Bright…” You know the rhyme. One thing I don’t understand. If Sparkle is a princess living in a castle, where are all the servants and staff? It appears that she lives alone.

Lately, Sparkle has been overwhelmed with so many wishes and there are more of them every day. She goes to the magic wishing well (voice of Jonathon Winters) for advice and it tells her how to get the help she needs. Sparkle expected one helper, but ended up with five, which worked out even better.

These helpers are all star fairies and their names are Spice, Whisper, Night Song, True Love, and Jazz. Sparkle named them after their personalities. Why does that sound familiar?

With the assistance of Sparkle’s flying unicorn, Lavender, the star fairies go on their assignments. Soon they meet Hillary (voice of Drew Barrymore) who is unhappy with her boring life. The star fairies have no luck helping Hillary, so they take her to Sparkle.

The villains in this story are a group of greedy elves, led by Bungle Boss. With the help of his lackeys Frump and Snickerby, they steal Sparkle’s wand and cause chaos everywhere they go. It’s bad enough that the three of them keep fighting over the wand because they don’t know how to share.

Now it’s become a quest to recover the wand. The wishing well has the answer, but the elves took it also and sent it elsewhere. There are many dangers along the way, like a troll, a giant, a two-headed dragon, and a bunch of ghosts that live in the trees of a creepy forest. What an exciting fantasy quest this is.

Star Fairies is definitely a memorable feature. I could see a cartoon series coming from this with the star fairies having other adventures granting wishes and dealing with Bungle Boss and his elves. Unfortunately, that never happened. What a shame.

Oct 152013
 

Stephen King is best known as a top horror novelist and quite a few of these novels have become feature films. Stephen King’s first screenplay was for the 80s horror movie Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye. It’s a trilogy of terror with only one common denominator, a wandering adventurous cat.

While running from a muddy wet dog, the cat hitches a ride on a truck over to New York City. There begins the first tale, which is about a clinic called Quitters Inc. that uses unorthodox methods to help people quit smoking by scaring them straight. Dr. Donatti’s (Alan King) latest patient is Dick Morrison (James Woods).

The unorthodox methods feature a cell with an electric shock floor that’s used like a hotfoot. Dr. Donatti demonstrates it on the cat. As funny as the jumping around was, that’s no way to treat a kitty.

What’s worse is that for the first month, Morrison will be under constant surveillance. (I would guess paparazzi ninja style.) If he screws up, his wife Cindy (Mary D’Arcy) gets put in the cat room. If he does it again, his young daughter gets put in the cat room. After that, it gets much worse. All I can say is that it goes beyond the cat room.

After many temptations, including a hallucination, Morrison soon breaks down and secretly has a smoke. Unfortunately, he was caught immediately and has to helplessly watch Cindy in the cat room getting a major hotfoot. It’s a good thing Morrison didn’t smoke again after that.

During the ruckus, the cat escapes and gets on a boat, which takes him to Atlantic City, New Jersey. In the second tale, the cat goes to the casino. I guess he wants to play there, but has trouble getting through the traffic. However, this story is more about luckless gambler Mr. Norris (Robert Hays) being forced to stroll around the outside ledge of the building on the 30th floor. Casino Owner Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) makes it more challenging by testing Norris with bike horns and stuff, “Just to keep him on his toes”. Cressner sure likes to say that a lot.

That’s not the only obstacle Norris has to face. There’s a pigeon that likes to peck ankles and refuses to let up, as well as the giant sign which blocks the ledge. All the cat does is watch, which is a bit disappointing if you were expecting him to do anything.

After that the cat escapes and hops a train to Wilmington, North Carolina. The third story is where the cat serves his true purpose and that is to protect schoolgirl Amanda (Drew Barrymore) from a tiny troll. Amanda’s parents are against having the cat stay, but that won’t stop him from guarding her.

The troll is one creepy customer. He tries to steal Amanda’s breath and only the cat can stop him. The cat is no Puss and Boots, but he is a clever fighter.

This was a good movie. That cat sure gets around as an escape artist and a traveler. It’s as amazing as it is cute.

Jan 282012
 

Classic cartoons from the old days always had memorable theme songs, some of which could be found on soundtrack albums if there were any. In the mid 90s, there was a very rare mixture on an album called Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, which features the different theme songs in a more extended and updated manner and performed by “modern” bands and artists.

Some of those classic songs include the themes from Scooby-Doo Where Are You, Josie and the Pussycats, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, PopeyeHong Kong Phooey, and Spiderman (60s version). A different artist or band like Matthew Sweet, Liz Phair, The Ramones, The Butthole Surfers, Juliana Hatfield, and others perform them.

Not all of the tracks are theme songs though. There are also songs from different shows that were hits back in the day like Sugar Sugar from The Archie Show, Epp Opp Ork Ah-Ah from The Jetsons, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy from Ren and Stimpy, and Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine in from The Flintstones. All of which were only featured once in certain episodes. Does anyone still remember any of these songs?

There are even theme songs from shows I had never even heard of before like The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Groovie Ghoulies, Gigantor, and H.R. Pufnstuf. Luckily, the inside cover has information on each show, which made them more familiar to me and made me curious to see what these shows are like, if I can find them either on DVD, Netflix, or the Boomerang Channel.

Along with the info, there’s also a bit of commentary from the bands and artists about their take on these songs as well as their favorite cartoons growing up. It must be a real pleasure to participate in an album like this.

In addition to the album, there was also a straight-to-video feature about Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits. On a beautiful sunny day, Drew Barrymore and her friends have fun watching music videos from all of the different songs and provide their own cute and funny commentary. (It doesn’t include the theme from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids for some reason.)

To add to the fun, the group also gets a package that contains things like breakfast cereal, candy necklaces, and silly string in spray cans. That’s just the kind of stuff that represents innocent times. You won’t find a special like this on MTV and I have no doubt that only hardcore Drew Barrymore fans would remember it.

This album is unique with its modern twist on old favorites. Once I do find any of the old shows, after listening to this CD, I now observe the theme songs to see how they are different in comparison.

May 272011
 

We all remember that classic iconic alien E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Widescreen Edition). I was very young when I first saw this movie and for years I could only describe it in three words, “Two hours long”. That was because the slow pacing made the movie difficult to follow and I expected it to be more like ALF. Now I understand it a little better. E.T. is an alien who was stranded on Earth and was found by three children, Elliot (Henry Thomas), Michael (Robert MacNaughton), and little Gertie (Drew Barrymore). (Wasn’t she adorable?)

E.T. slowly learns to speak, thanks to Gertie’s guidance and a Sesame Street episode on TV. It goes to show that even aliens can learn stuff from that show.

E.T. is smart. He can not only identify his home with a Buck Rogers comic strip, he can move things with his mind and has a healing touch, which he’s always offering to use, even if you have a fake knife in your head as part of a Halloween costume like Michael does.

Then of course there’s the classic flying bicycles. E.T. is the perfect pilot to have, except his landings needed a little work.

This whole time, the children try to keep E.T. a secret from their mother Mary. Dee Wallace, who I met at Cult Fiction Drive-in 2011, plays the role.

As E.T. and the kids use a homemade contraption to “phone home”, government agents spy on them. Eventually they nab E.T. and keep him under quarantine because he has become ill. The doctors do all they can to save E.T. from dying. Although Elliot keeps telling them that they’re killing him, they don’t listen. Then a miracle happens. After some major cooling off, E.T. is all recovered.

Then Michael and Elliot escape with E.T. in hopes of getting him home. However, it’s not so easy with the police and government agents chasing them, but it becomes real exciting when they race off on bikes. That’s right, bikes that fly with E.T.’s help. I can tell that the landings have improved.

This was an interesting movie that’s real heartwarming. It still runs long at points, but was still enjoyable.

One last item: E.T. also has a ride at Universal Studios theme park. Here you get to ride bikes that fly, but the story goes in another direction. Not only are the seats more comfortable than on a real bike, but you also get to fly to E.T.’s home planet. The movie could have used that subplot.

May 282010
 

Scream (Dimension Collector’s Series) is a teen slasher about a masked killer in the town of Woodsboro, who terrorizes high school students by calling them before stabbing. Oh, the magic of cell phones. The killer’s first victim is Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore). She was so pretty in that sweater. It goes well with her blonde hairdo.

After Casey and her boyfriend Steve (Kevin Patrick Walls) get murdered, the police arrive at the high school and interrogate everyone there. Unfortunately, they are still nowhere close to finding out who the killer is. It’s a real mystery here.

The killer’s next victim is Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell). He tries the same tactic on her. “Hello, Sydney.” But she’s not so easy to kill. Heck, she’s brave enough to punch out a reporter. “Nice shot.”

School gets out early one day and Stu (Matthew Lillard), who is a hilarious goofball, throws a party at his house and invites everyone. With the killer still out there, Randy (Jamie Kennedy) uses his knowledge of horror movies to help the others survive. Simple rules like, no sex, no alcohol, no drugs, and never say, “I’ll be right back”. Unfortunately, no one takes him seriously. The knowledge does pay off later, for those who actually listened.

Many horror movie references are featured in this movie, from when Randy tries to identify the killer to when Billy (Skeet Ulrich) relates his relationship to Sydney as “edited for TV”. Also keep an eye out for a guy dressed as Freddy Kruger. 

This is a great movie overall. It has lead to two sequels as well as a couple of spoofs. In a way, Scream was like a horror movie that was inspired by the creativity of other horror movies. It goes to show how popular the genre really is. I must ask though. Are motives really incidental these days?