A gothic revenge tale and a pet-friendly farce are this week's recommendations
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, a quick announcement that Binge Blog will be celebrating the month of October by becoming CRINGE BLOG! Starting next week, this space will be reserved for movies and TV shows that make you scream, cover your eyes, hide under blankets or otherwise rattle your bones in fear — or parody the things that do.
Horrors, thrillers and spoofs of the like are all on the table. If you have something you’d like to see covered during the month, feel free to let me know via email at [email protected] or message me on Twitter. I might act on it, or I might not, but you won’t know unless you try!
Also, this WIRED video featuring accent coach Erik Singer breaking down the performances of film stars’ recent works is quite informative and entertaining, if you’re looking for a fun way to kill a half hour.
On to the recommendations!
“The Crow” (1994)
Amazon Prime Video, rated R, 102 minutes
I know, I know, I said the dark stuff was starting next week. But for some reason, Amazon is removing this movie from Prime Video on Oct. 1, so this weekend is your last chance to see it for free (if you're a Prime subscriber). It’s also more of an action movie than a scary one, even though the titular character is undead and wears makeup resembling Kiss and has a magical pet bird.
The story of “The Crow” goes like this. Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancé Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) are murdered on Oct. 30, one day before their wedding, in a robbery gone wrong. (Yes, they were going to get married on Halloween, how edgy.) One year later, a crow lands on Draven’s grave and taps the headstone. Draven then emerges from the dirt, reborn as, well, The Crow. He’s pissed as hell and coming straight for the gang that killed him and Webster. And his bird friend tags along for the ride.
It sounds hokey, but it works better than you think it does. Lee’s performance is electric, and it’s not hard to see other performances it has inspired, namely Heath Ledger’s legendary turn as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Unfortunately, Ledger and Lee share another similarity: Both performances were the actors’ final roles.
While Ledger died shortly after the film finished shooting, Lee, the son of martial arts master Bruce Lee, died during production, when a gun supposed to be firing blanks fired a shell instead (it had gotten stuck in the gun earlier, to no one’s knowledge), hitting Lee in the abdomen. He died a few days later during surgery. He was 28 at the time of the accident, and in a ghastly ironic twist, his life echoed that of The Crow himself: Lee and his fiancé Eliza Hutton were to be married 17 days after his accident.
Even if you don’t care for revenge tales, “The Crow” is worth watching to see the talent the world is missing with Lee gone. He was destined for stardom. It’s also well directed by Alex Proyas, who gives the proceedings an appropriately gothic touch. It’s not a groundbreaking story, but sometimes when the visual candy is this sweet, that doesn’t matter.
“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (1994)
Hulu, rated PG-13, 86 minutes
Pulling the opposite move of “The Crow,” this movie will be on Hulu starting Oct. 1. Which is a gift, because to younger me, this movie was the height of comedy.
I can’t tell you how many times I said “ALLLLLRRRRRRRRRRIGHTY THEN!” as a kid. Or thought about how brilliantly funny the phrase “If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer” is. Even when I got my apartment in Sarasota, I mimed the scene when Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) tests the soundproof-ness of a sliding glass door on my lanai.
Normally I like my humor to be at least a little sophisticated or clever, but there’s something to be said for pure silliness, and I respect it more as I get older. Jim Carrey’s face is just funny. Having the plot of the movie being someone kidnapping a live dolphin and also Dan Marino is just funny. It always will be.
Not everything holds up, though. There are tasteless and outright offensive jokes here, notably ones surrounding the movie’s big twist. These mean-spirited salvos seem weirdly out of place in a movie whose main aim is ridiculousness, but it’s a product of its time. I know it often doesn’t seem like it, but society has come a long way since 1994. This movie would never get made today, or at least would have to eliminate its twist entirely. I don’t hold that against this movie in particular. Enduring works like “Friends” also have jokes that seem wildly off-base today.
Instead of shunning these shows, I think we should use them as teaching tools for younger generations on what jokes aren’t OK and, most importantly, why they’re not OK.
Then enjoy the rest of the humor. Because, well, just look at Jim Carrey’s hair:
See you next week!