Terror in Space – Dracula 3000

Dracula 3000 aka Infinite Darkness is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

One-Line Review: I can think of several thousand reasons not to watch this.

Dracula 3000Dracula 3000 (2004) – Rated R

In the year 3000, the crew of a deep space salvage ship come across a starship that had vanished and go on board to investigate. They find the ship abandoned, but they don’t know about the vessel’s history — or the evil they’re about to unleash.

Could they have picked a cast that screamed direct-to-video more than this? Casper Van Dien? Baywatch actress Erika Eleniak? Udo Kier? Rap artist Coolio? Wrestler Tiny Lister?

Dracula 3000 was directed by Darrell Roodt and written by Roodt and Ivan Milborrow. While Dracula 3000 is mostly dreck, it is clear that one of the writers had real affection for the source material. The film starts off with the space explorers discovering the spaceship Demeter a la the ship that brings Dracula to England in Stoker’s novel. The captain is lashed to his chair (the wheel in the novel).

Characters are named Capt. Abraham van Helsing, Mina Murry, Arthur “The Professor” Holmwood, Capt. Varna. Dracula is named Orlock. Locations mentioned include Transylvania and the Carpathian system. Unfortunately the rest of the script is just awful.

I won’t say the film is racist but the four white crew members have full names and the two African Americans are called 187 (the police code for homicide) and Humvee respectively. 187 is a dope-smoking fiend played by Coolio. Humvee is played by former pro wrestler Tiny Lister. 187 quickly moves from stoner to vampire lackey, filling the Renfield role.

I have to say that I would rate this but a single star for Coolio’s performance alone. This has to be one of the grating renditions I have ever sat through. The other performances are better but not good. Casper van Dien is in just-give-me-the-check-already mode.

The movie is set on a spaceship but they all just travel down various industrial tunnels. They meander here and there firing pistols and automatic weapons. Exterior ship shots are lifted from Space Rangers.

All of the coffins on the Demeter are filled with dust (ash) and 187’s accidental cutting of his arm gives Orlock the blood he needs to revive himself. If that is the case, who killed the captain and crew? How did the captain tie both of his hands to his chair? Was this Orlock’s master plan? To just hope someone would accidentally cut themselves and bleed on the ashes? Why is everyone dust except the captain?

Trust me you won’t want to sit through this to find out (and you won’t find out regardless).

People Watch: Casper van Dien was brought back for Starship Troopers 3 in 2008. Grant Swanby who plays Arthur Holmwood here is a barkeep in Starship Troopers 3.

End of June This ‘n’ That

Amazon Prime* Woohoo! Season three of Downton Abbey is now streaming free on Amazon Prime. Knowing that it was coming we waited. Unfortunately some friends on Facebook spoiled one of the pivotal events but I’m really looking forward to watching this ASAP.

* The fight for children’s viewership has begun. Amazon Prime has exclusive rights to many Nickelodeon properties such as Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, and Blue’s Clues.

Netflix* Netflix has an exclusive deal with Dreamworks to develop new material based on their properties. First up is a series based on Turbo, an upcoming Dreamworks movie about a racing snail. Besides their own works, Dreamworks also owns the rights to Waldo, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and Casper the Friendly Ghost. The Netflix Turbo series will premiere next year.

* Alert reader Tony umm alerted us to the fact that ALL Lego titles have been pulled from instant Netflix. Not sure why but may do a search later.

Hulu Plus* DirecTV is supposedly in serious talks to purchase Hulu for just a little over a billion dollars. I’m not sure what this will mean for Hulu. It would certainly be nice to get CBS on board but as long as I’m wishing – how about a freestanding HBO GO?

* I use an Xbox 360 for TV watching in the living room and a first generation Roku in the computer room. For those of you using Apple TV, it now does HBO Go and WatchESPN (still no Amazon Prime though).

June This ‘n’ That

Just some ramblings

Amazon Prime* Amazon Prime signed some more exclusives with NBC/Universal for the first seasons of Grimm and Suits and the first two seasons of Covert Affairs starting now. Hannibal will come in the fall and Defiance next year. I’m always glad to see Amazon pony up the bucks to compete with Netflix, even though these shows don’t interest me.

* Amazon just released Season 7 Part 1 of Doctor Who to Prime and season 3 of Downton Abbey is not far behind.

Xbox One* Microsoft announced the Xbox One and, unlike Sony’s invisible Playstation 4, they showed their new system. While there wasn’t much information on games, they sure want to take TV watching to the next level. You hook up your cable to the Xbox and then control it with your hands and/or voice – without a controller. As if I wasn’t lazy enough, now I’ll be able to just say “Xbox on, Netflix on, play Arrested Development marathon” and never get off the couch. Cost: $500

* As if that wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft has applied for a patent on ‘television achievements’ – pretty soon I’ll get my  10 points for that Arrested Development marathon and another 10 for not getting up to use the bathroom since the Kinect knows when you leave the couch.

Spock Glass* Returning to Mighty Dollar, they had put out some Spock glasses making my set complete. Instead of a starship and the character, the Spock glass features Spock and Classic Spock. I now have two of each glass except Kirk (meaning no one can use Kirk :P)

May This ‘n’ That

Netflix* Netflix has updated their iOS versions so now you can have autoplay and auto suggest on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod just as on the Roku and Xbox.

* In a great big duh!, wherever Netflix streaming goes, torrenting drops. To put it in old Loss Prevention terms, theft is 90% opportunity, 10% determination. Give people something to watch until Game of Thrones season 3 comes out on Blu-Ray and there’s a good chance they’ll wait. Meanwhile, does someone have an HBO Go key I can use so I don’t have to wait until next year to catch up on Tyrion and the Starks (new band name).

Arrested Development

* New Arrested Development season May 26th. Looks like a Memorial Day marathon to me! Remember there’s always money in the banana stand!

* Netflix will premiere another new series, Orange is the New Black, on July 11th. The series is a comedy/drama about a women’s prison. On July 18th, Netflix will get the BBC series Ripper Street, about policework during the time of…well you can guess.

Amazon Prime* As if there weren’t enough boxes out there with the Xbox, PS3, Wii U, Roku, and all the Roku knockoffs, it looks like Amazon is going to bring out their own streaming box.

* The people over at Silver Oak Casino have a brilliant (but far too large to post here) flowchart to help you determine what to watch on Netflix.

Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Star Wars

 

Sorry to mislead you – I’m going to talk about Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Star Wars individually.

Netflix

* Netflix intends to add a new plan for $12 that allows users to stream four shows at once (in addition to the current $8, two stream option). I can’t imagine streaming four different Netflix shows simultaneously in a single household but perhaps you have an extended family with diverse interests.

*Netflix updated their iOs app. The new interface isn’t revolutionary but is a bit slicker than the old one.

* As if it wasn’t obvious already, if Netflix were a cable network it would be the leading one. BTIG Research indicates that there are likely 28.1 million subscribers, each watching an average of 87 minutes of Netflix a day.

*Are you imagining Netflix for Google Glass? Now picture people driving with Google Glass and Netflix.

Tatooine Beach

* In just a few short months, we’ve gone from no more Star Wars movies ever to Disney’s current plan of a new Star Wars film EVERY summer starting in 2015. Between that and Star Wars land at the Disney parks, Disney got a lot of bang for their buck.

Amazon Prime* Amazon Prime users can now watch their 14 series pilots for FREE and help decide which should become a full series. There are eight comedies (including a Zombieland spinoff) and six children’s shows.

Bond…James Bond on Netflix and Amazon Prime

There is plenty of Bondage on Netflix and Amazon Prime (same titles on both services). Be aware that it only lasts until the end of the month.

Dr. No

Dr. No (1962) – Rated PG

“Sent to locate a colleague who’s vanished in Jamaica, debonair Agent 007 — in the first of the James Bond films — finds villainous scientist Dr. No plotting to derail the U.S. space program and take over the world.”

Goldfinger

Goldfinger (1964) – Rated PG

“The third installment in the 007 series — which racked up an Oscar for Best Sound Effects — finds überspy James Bond trying to thwart baddie Auric Goldfinger and his elaborate gambit to corner the gold market by contaminating Fort Knox.”

Thunderball (1965) – Rated PG

“With his sights set on a blackmail payday of global proportions, terrorist mastermind Emilio Largo hijacks two nuclear weapons — and only James Bond can stop him in this 007 classic featuring Oscar-winning special effects.”

You Only Live Twice (1967) – Rated PG

“After American and Soviet spaceships disappear, the two countries trade blame for the incidents — and as the nations edge toward war, James Bond is tasked with getting to the bottom of another international mystery.”

Live and Let Die (1973) – Rated PG

“Roger Moore debuts as suave secret agent James Bond, who’s sent to the United States to go after a master criminal scheming to take over the country by turning the populace into heroin junkies. Paul McCartney provides the Oscar-nominated title tune.”

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – Rated PG

“In this rousing 007 adventure, sly spy James Bond teams with a shapely Russian agent to foil a millionaire industrialist who plans to rule an underwater empire — by wiping out the surface world. Steel-toothed thug “Jaws” makes his first appearance.”

For Your Eyes Only (1981) – Rated PG

“This entry in the überpopular film franchise finds the indomitable James Bond tasked with recovering a top-secret device capable of directing ballistic missiles from nuclear submarines — before the Soviets get their hands on it.”

Octopussy (1983) – Rated PG

“Agent 007 springs into action after uncovering a terrorist plot hatched by a renegade Soviet general and an exiled Afghan prince to launch a nuclear attack — financed by the sale of Fabergé eggs — against NATO forces in Europe.”

A View to a Kill (1985) – Rated PG

Agent 007 races against the clock to stop a power-mad French industrialist who’s scheming to corner the world’s microchip supply by triggering a massive earthquake that would destroy California’s Silicon Valley — and kill millions.”

Licence to Kill (1989) – Rated PG-13

“This time it’s personal as James Bond — stripped of his license to kill — embarks on a one-man, unauthorized mission of vengeance when notorious Colombian drug lord Franz Sanchez leaves 007’s newly married friend for dead.”

Goldeneye (1995) – Rated PG-13

Pierce Brosnan takes his first turn as suave secret agent James Bond, who — with his sophisticated gadgets and signature Aston Martin — investigates the destruction of a Russian satellite weapons base with help from the massacre’s sole survivor.”

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) – Rated PG-13

“Pierce Brosnan stars as suave action hero James Bond in this continuation of the 007 series, this time teaming the secret agent and a sexy Chinese superspy against a megalomaniacal media mogul bent on starting World War III to boost his ratings.”

The World is Not Enough (1999) – Rated PG-13

“Greed, revenge, world domination, high-tech terrorism: It’s all in a day’s work for cunning secret agent James Bond, who’s on a mission — and in a race against time — to protect a beautiful oil heiress from a notorious terrorist.”

There is also the original premiere of James Bond way back in 1954 in

Casino Royale (1954) – Not rated

Having gambled away a vast sum of his country’s funds, a diabolical Soviet spy tries to recoup his losses through a high-stakes game of baccarat, but secret agent James Bond enters the competition to foil him in this 1954 teleplay.”

This is only for curiosity value. Barry Nelson is Jimmy Bond and Peter Lorre is his nemesis.

When you are done with that massive marathon, watch the excellent documentary:

Everything or Nothing

Everything or Nothing (2012) – Not rated

“He’s the greatest secret agent in the world, but who are the men behind Agent 007? This engrossing documentary goes inside the James Bond legend to uncover how a series of spy stories became one of the most iconic franchises in cinema history.”

 

 

Everything or Nothing – Film on Film Week

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Everything or Nothing (2012) – Not rated

“He’s the greatest secret agent in the world, but who are the men behind Agent 007? This engrossing documentary goes inside the James Bond legend to uncover how a series of spy stories became one of the most iconic franchises in cinema history.”

This is an exercise in how to make a documentary.

* Tell the whole story: Every Bond on film is covered here from the early TV version up through Daniel Craig. There are interviews with all of the Bonds. Sean Connery, who is notorious for not wanting to talk about Bond, is shown in older interviews.

* Tell interesting side stories: the story over the rights to Thunderball is fascinating but also heartbreaking as it allowed someone who wasn’t Ian Fleming to finesse the rights to a James Bond story

* Have more than just talking heads: Besides the wonderful and extensive set of clips, we also get Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger. Christopher Lee discusses his relationship with Ian Fleming.

* Give credit where credit is due. Ian Fleming is the beginning focus of the documentary but later we shift to Cubby Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and the Bonds.

Everything or Nothing has a slew of interviews but much of what the interviewees are saying is illustrated by clips from the Bond movies.There are also plenty of instances of classic Bond music.

Sean Connery receives the lion’s share but Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig are also featured. Even George Lazenby receives his due. The only thing not covered is the 1967 comedic version of Casino Royale.

If you are at all interested in James Bond, this is a riveting and fast-paced documentary.

Operation: Nazi Zombies – Nazi Zombie Week

Operation: Nazi Zombies is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Operation: Nazi Zombies (2003)

“A team of Army Special Forces is sent into a secluded, secret biological weapons facility, only to fall prey to the specimens of a Nazi experiment that was recreated by the Army Chemical Corps and the CIA after World War II.”

The credits list Operation: Nazi Zombies as being written, edited, and directed by David B. Stewart III. He is also the composer, set decorator, costume designer, and camera operator. He even appears in the film as Brigadier General Abrams.

I applaud Stewart’s can-do attitude and the let’s-put-a-show-on-in-the-barn aesthetics but this is just unwatchable. Filmed in 1999, it took four years to get a release.Some of the ideas and effects aren’t bad but this is clearly micro-budgeted.

The soldiers are dressed in a bizarre hodgepodge of buttoned shirts with merit badges, suspenders, and berets. One appears to have a pocketed vest but the rest don’t. Half of the team wear ski masks so in the event they are observed, only half the team is compromised.

The acting is truly awful. This is not to say that all of the actors are awful but it is clear that many of them are not on the same page. Some bark all their dialogue, some deliver it in method acting, some as though they are at a play. When in doubt, drop the ‘F’ bomb.

By the way, if you have a Nazi zombie film, you really must put your zombies in a Nazi uniform. It’s expected.

Thank you Zombie Lake, Oasis of the Zombies, and Operation: Nazi Zombies, you have cured me of my undead Nazi fetish. Well, at least until Dead Snow 2 comes out.

Oasis of the Zombies – Nazi Zombie Week

Oasis of the Zombies is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Oasis of the Zombies (1982) – Rated R

“At the height of World War II, the Nazis buried more than $6 million in gold in the Sahara Desert. Half a century later, Robert Blabert stumbles on the secret in his late father’s diaries and sets out to find it, unaware of the dangers that await.”

After the fiasco that was Jean Rollins’ Zombie Lake, Oasis of the Zombies could hardly be worse could it? Made by Eurotrash Meister Jess Franco on the budget equivalent of someone’s lunch money, Oasis of the Zombies is clearly awful before the opening credits roll. At least Rollins’ misfire intrigued me with some full-frontal nudity in the opening minutes.

Perhaps it is the lack of lingering close-ups but Oasis does not seem as poorly dubbed as Zombie Lake. The use of stock footage for the World War II battles is bad but not nearly as egregious as when Franco used black and white footage of A Night to Remember in the color film, the Castle of Fu Manchu. Speaking of which, this film would have been considerably improved by the presence of Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu.

The plotline is incomprehensible, the acting is so stiff that the zombies (when they finally show up) have more life in them than the speaking characters, one character appears to be the exact same age whether we see him in World War II or in modern times, etc. etc. etc. The list is endless but the two egregious sins are a singular lack of zombies (we’re almost at the halfway mark before they show up) and a dull dull dull film.

I hate to say it but Oasis of the Zombies is actually worse than Zombie Lake. Oasis of the Zombies is brought to you by the man who successfully killed off the Fu Manchu franchise, Jess Franco.

Zombie Lake – Nazi Zombie Week

Zombie Lake is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Zombie Lake (1981) – Not Rated

During World War II, a group of villagers ambushed and defeated a band of German soldiers and threw their bodies in the nearby lake. Now, the Nazis have returned as angry zombies, preying on unsuspecting teen swimmers and skinny-dippers.”

Okay, Shock Waves had underwater Nazi zombies back in 1977. Zombie Lake was made in 1981 so it better bring something new to the table.

Zombie Lake opens with cheesy 80s soft porn music. We immediately see the idyllic lake and then a buxom young lass strolls up to a gazebo at the edge of the lake and promptly takes off her clothes. She takes off all of her clothes in this pre-bikini wax era. After some lingering in the gazebo, she stretches out on a log to sunbathe for a bit. The camera lingers in close-up gradually moving up her body. I’m beginning to feel dirty.

She wanders nude around the outside of the lake, uproots a no swimming sign, and, you guessed it, begins swimming. The swimming is clearly filmed in a pool but hey suspension of disbelief. It is not long before our anatomically correct swimmer is stalked and killed by a green one-eyed Nazi zombie in rather poor make-up.

This comprises the first six minutes of the movie. Zombie Lake is dubbed and poorly so. The near-constant softcore score is very annoying but drowns out some of the awful dialogue.

I love how a few of the villagers find the corpse of one girl and carry it through town, attracting a crowd that doesn’t ask any questions but merely follows meekly behind. The bearers dump the body at the Mayor’s porch and everyone just stands around.

Watch the hilarious scene where a German soldier is killed and we see him smear the blood on his face!

Listen as the sound drops completely out about 24 minutes in, during the flashback sex scene with the German soldier!

Cringe as the sound comes back!

Wish the sound would go away again!

Lust after the all-nude ladies basketball team as they swim in the lake!

Wonder why when there is one woman, a lone zombie attacks but when there are seven women then we get an equivalent number of zombies!

I made it all the way through the movie. Let me assure you that at no point does it get better.