Sunday, 21 August 2016

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

From https://ladygeekgirl.files.wordpress.com/2015/
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Directors: Eric Radomski and Bruce W. Timm
Screenplay: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko and Michael Reaves
(Voice) Cast: Kevin Conroy (as Batman/Bruce Wayne); Dana Delany (Andrea Beaumont); Hart Bochner (Arthur Reeves); Stacy Keach (Carl Beaumont); Abe Vigoda (as Salvatore Valestra); Mark Hamill (The Joker)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #21

Because of what the horror genre tackles - notions of dread, death, decay, the prevailing sense of the ethereal and haunted but also the emotional baggage left behind by it - it's possible for other genres to blur into it or entirely take tropes and moods from it. Batman is a particularly great example of this as a franchise. While I have a growing interest in superheroes, I still prefer Japanese manga and anime in many cases and, when it comes to DC Comics1, Batman is only one of two franchises I've any interest in, the other not even Superman2.Batman is arguably the best superhero ever to be created, and I argue it's as much how flexible to character and world is to various genres as it is that world and its characters. The original character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger is openly based on the detective films of the period it was created in and pulp characters that existed before, horror found in aspects such as the bat costume to strike fear into criminals and the Joker being inspired by the film The Man Who Laughs (1928). Almost every risk with the world has been successful in keeping it relevant - pure camp with Adam West became as iconic as the serious version of the character; rundown science fiction succeeded through Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986); realism through Christopher Nolan's trilogy; even unexpected takes like adding Cthulhu -like mythos in The Doom That Came To Gotham (2000-1), a one-off comic I've recently read penned by Mike "Hellboy" Mignola, work because the characters allow it. (Only full blown sci-fi in Batman Beyond is still sketchy for myself unless I find a great story set in the world. Ironically it's The Big O (2001-3), a two series anime show made by people who worked on the nineties Batman animated series who wanted to pay tribute to it, that shows how Batman in the future could work with noir tropes next to giant robots.)

Horror naturally fits Batman like a hand in a velvet glove, be it Batman himself or villains like the Scarecrow, and while Mask of the Phantasm is a superhero genre film rather than full horror cinema, it gladly seeped a PG child friendly animation with gloom and darkness as a grim reaper figure known as the Phantasm targets gangsters for punishment, Batman blamed for the crimes when the figure disappears into mist and bodies are left. A large part of my love for Batman is nostalgia for the critically acclaimed animated series from the early nineties I grew up with; while I need to return to it, I still at an impressionable age realised the drastic bar in quality the show had, and how adult it was in tone, next to the cartoons I was also watching back then. Revisiting Mask of the Phantasm as an adult, it's a deeply melancholic tale where the Phantasm figure interconnects with the tale of the one woman in Bruce Wayne's life who vanished and broke his heart, the remaining heartache it causes relevant to the current plot. Starting with images of Gotham's skyscrapers and composer Shirley Walker going for the most operatic opening theme possible, one of the only animated theatrical released for a DC Comics franchise is still stupendous and feels like a proper, adult film with emotion to it.

It is strange realise though, when I grew up believing the nineties animated series was set in a contemporary day of the show's own logic, that this version in Mask of the Phantasm is technically a period piece set in the forties, one of the big factors to why the show had such an effect on me being its period aesthetic, an art deco tone of forties noir films and grand architecture that would explain how I became obsessed with aesthetics in cinema and popular media as I did as an adult. With this film some fifties diesel punk aesthetic is added for its own narrative, a retro ray gun tone found in a World of Tomorrow exhibition that plays an important part of Bruce Wayne's (Kevin Conroy) relationship with Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), a character who returns to his life, and the place the Joker (Mark Hamil) occupies in its desolated form years after. The general style of the Batman franchise, how important the city of Gotham was, helped ground the story and make the character accessible whilst also giving carte blanche for broad, expressionist stylisation; even Joel Schumacher's films, even if you think he vomited neon onto everything, had a sense of style to them that had character even if the rest of the films horrified other viewers.

In terms of covering this film under the scope of horror, its surprisingly dark for a family friendly film, as an adult amazed that in less than eighty minutes that it manages to create such an emotional deep, macabre tale of lost love. Against showing the early beginnings of Bruce Wayne as a vigilante and the creation of Batman, it emphasises the emotional sacrifice of the position against the tragedy of Andrea's life. The figure of Phantasm is straight out of horror cinema, terrorising targets including an extended scene in a graveyard which emphasises death even if in a way suitable for a young audience. Like with the original animated series from the nineties, going only from memory, it's surprising how much Mask of the Phantasm and this version of Batman got away with in terms of adult concepts such as death, managing like old forties cinema to convey grim content without explicitly dealing with it, more so when you also have a figure like the Joker that is both a comedic figure but, through Hamil's incredible vocal performance, absolutely terrifying even in this more comedic version. Stuff in this film, even implied, with Joker is still gruesome to even consider next to when the late Heath Ledger played the character and did his magic trick with a pencil.

The flashback heavy tale itself really has a deep emotional level to it, Andrea only a character connected to this one story but weaved carefully into it that she could easily have been canonical to the franchise, having an immense effect on the mythology in this plot. The danger that this type of pulp character, like any superhero, is that it can become predictable if little changes, negated by how this is, balanced between moments of comedy and drama, takes a successful risk in having a drama in the midst of the plot.

From http://thebatmanuniverse.net/image/Movie/History/Animated/Batman-Mask%20of%20Phantasm%20(1993)/Screenshots/Batman
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1. Vertical comics are an entirely different case I separate from DC Comics.

2. The other is Green Lantern. All my knowledge is Wikipedia and that awful Ryan Reynolds film, but the premise's potential for weird cosmic stories is appealing alongside with the world. Only the terrible sounding villains outside of the mythos of various colour spectrums of lantern rings sounds like it's going to be off-putting. With Superman, it's not only how too invulnerable the character is but how unappealing any of his nemeses are outside of Lex Luthor are that I have little interesting, and I was someone who grew up enjoying Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-7)

Friday, 19 August 2016

The Raven (1963) [Mini Review]

From https://i.jeded.com/i/the-raven-1963.32489.jpg
Director: Roger Corman
Screenplay: Richard Matheson
Cast: Vincent Price (as Dr. Erasmus Craven); Peter Lorre (as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo); Boris Karloff (as Dr. Scarabus); Hazel Court (as Lenore Craven); Olive Sturgess (as Estelle Craven); Jack Nicholson (as Rexford Bedlo)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #20

The Raven is one of the few Corman adaptations of Edgar Ellen Poe that's deliberately humorous. One of the best things about these adaptations is that, while fun, they took themselves seriously. The Raven is different in terms of having its tongue in its cheek but because it's still depicted with sincerity, the result is entirely riveting. The original poem of The Raven is merely an opening catalist to start a completely unique story, more drastic than the other Poe adaptations I've seen from this series in changing the original narrative, where isolated but humble magician Dr. Erasmus Craven (Price) lets a raven into his study only to find soon after that it can talk. The raven, once helped by magic, is revealed to be fellow magician and alcohol enthusiast Dr. Adolphus Bedlo (Lorre), turned into a bird after a duel with the sinister leader of the main magician's guild Dr. Scarabus (Karloff), whose maleficent reputation is matched by the possibility he has captured the soul of Craven's late wife Lenore (Court) and made her his possession, leading Craven and his daughter Estelle (Sturgess), alongside Bedlo and his son Rexford (Nicholson) to head to Scarabus' castle.

There's a great sense with The Raven that everyone is having fun while contributing said energy to great performances. Playing a hero for once in these Poe films for Corman, Price is so affable and a gentleman it's not surprising this his real off-screen personality effectively comes through, Craven the warm milk drinking man hesitant to get involved with Scarabus but pressed on to do so through Price giving him nobility rather than plot contrivance. Some might find Lorre's bumbling, drunken Bedlo an embarrassment for the actor, near the end of his life, but for me personally (in drastic contrast to the opinion of Harun Farocki's documentary The Double Face of Peter Lorre (1984)) this doesn't come off as an insult to Lorre but a talented actor gladly throwing himself into a lovable buffoon with decent material. Other actors had worse ends to their careers, such as Karloff sadly, who here thankfully gets to play menacing but by a grace without need for going over-the-top, the elegance of his performance even for slapstick a reminder the most beloved actors in horror cinema then and now had theatre experience or had worked in areas which had them flex their acting talents, not to mention a natural nobility to many of them away from the camera. Add to this Court vamping it up, and chewing more scenery than Price, Karlof and Lorre combined, and a very young Jack Nicholson in a role that surprises knowing where he'd be a decade on, at one point showing the stereotypical mannerisms when possessed while driving a horse driven coach but effectively playing the slightly bumbling son figure to Lorre.

Also significant is how Corman emphasised a clear quality to these films technically. Having Richard Matheson, legendary author and the man who penned the Poe films that came before this one helps, as does the rich production design onscreen. Still low budget, Corman's decision to use the money used to make two smaller films to make one Technicolor work with distinct sets helped immensely, the gothic look of the film elegant even in a film like this that's exceptionally goofy at points, the colour especially restored for Blu-Ray as well immensely appealing for this type of story. While it has significantly less of the psychedelic colours and none of the dream sequences of other Poe films, the distinct style is pitched at a quality above a lot of substandard colour horror films at this point in the sixties which couldn't use any of this then-new aesthetic properly. Even the antiquated magic effects have a handmade charm especially in the final magician's duel which comes off as a series of Looney Tunes punch lines one-after-another. It's with the serious tone here that, even if it has the likes of Price and Lorre involved in comedic pratfalls, it never becomes obnoxious irony and retains a respectability that makes the humour and chills work.

From https://horrorpediadotcom.files.wordpress.com
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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tower of Evil (1972) [Mini Review]

From https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/17
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Director: Jim O'Connolly
Screenplay: Jim O'Connolly
Cast: Bryant Haliday (as Evan Brent); Jill Haworth (as Rose Mason); Anna Palk (as Nora Winthrop); William Lucas (as Superintendent Hawk); Anthony Valentine (as Dr. Simpson)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #19

A proto-slasher set on Snape Island - where four American youths go to only to almost all be killed barring a catatonic survivor - a group of archaeologists go to said island when this incident reveals the possible discovery of Phoenician artefacts, but at the possible cost of being bumped off by whoever killed most of the American group. It's surprisingly explicit for its era in terms of a British horror film - nudity, graphic murders including decapitation - but it's still incredibly bland, a lack of grace or ill-ease found here where for all this it still feels stilted. Snape Island and its central lighthouse in the middle of its land should evoke nautical dread but instead you have a lot of actors speaking bland exposition in groups without any sense of atmosphere to the environment. For all its transgression only the dialogue of Nora (Palk), a disgruntled and adulterous wife of one of the archaeologists, really still has teeth in it in how sexually open she is in her words, the only real entertainment to be found in how blunt she is to everyone in front of her husband despite the fact the character should arguably be hateable.

The datedness even by this period - what teen goes to a jazz festival even in 1971? - is worse when the survivor of the first attack is barely used, only within post-psychedelic psychological experiments which are meant to bring back her memories of the original attack that involve a lot of over large, flashing disco lights. The threat at the end, only spoiling part of the end, partially involves a man with a beard and dungarees, that hasn't washed for months, who is the leas threatening horror bogeyman you could get, undermining Tower of Evil further. Sandwiched between films like Witchfinder General (1968) and The Wicker Man (1973), too many British horror movies are like this one in how lack sure they are, missing the potential in their premises and dragging along in spite of the sex and gore they started adding.  

From https://horrorpediadotcom.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/
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Sunday, 14 August 2016

See No Evil (1971) [Mini Review]

From http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/
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Director: Richard Fleischer
Screenplay: Brian Clemens
Cast: Mia Farrow (as Sarah); Dorothy Alison (as Betty Rexton); Robin Bailey (as George Rexton); Diane Grayson (as Sandy Rexton); Brian Rawlinson (as Baxter)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #18

See No Evil on paper is a potentially great pot boiler thriller. Sarah (Farrow) is a young woman who has lost her eyesight and is learning to cope with her new life with blindness while staying at her uncle's home in England. A sociopath venture up to the home and Fleischer does exactly what one would want from a premise like this. No overbearing music that spoils the moment or jump scares. Instead there's a slow and lingering sense of dread. Fleischer lets small details - glass on the kitchen tiles, a wrist chain on the floor - give the sense of something having gone wrong with the vulnerability of Sarah, having to use her hands to travel around, leaving the viewer with immediate fear for her. Punctured with a subplot about an old suitor Steve (Norman Eshley) trying to rekindle their romance, it actually helps build up the concern when finally the events that have taken place are shown in a matter-of-fact way, a camera pan to the left or the frame being pulled back revealing the horror of what's happened. The perfect way to make a thriller.

Sadly See No Evil while a technical gem for a thriller dwindles in interest after this. While the presentation is perfect, including its natural photography for rural English countryside and wasteland, the story doesn't build up well enough even for a simple pot boiler under ninety minutes. Briefly there's a concern that it's going to become anti-gypsy in attitude, which does turn out to just be a plot twist based on the characters' prejudices thankfully, but it doesn't help that the killer when they're revealed is merely a McGuffin than someone compelling visually or in performance. (Neither does it help that, to try to make them evil, they're established at the beginning by having them come out of a cinema with a double bill including "Rape Cult" in the matinee or having their feet on the seats in a pub. The later is just bad manners, and especially in seventies Britain let alone now, you couldn't get away with a film title like "Rape Cult" in English cinemas like old American grindhouses could.) The film seems far more interesting in equestrian content in fact that the thrills at points, obsessed with horses and riding them even if it leads to an escape by way of one. While its short length is perfect for a sharp, creepy narrative the plot needed more meat on its bone to make the ending better.

From http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/wp-content/
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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Friday the 13th Part II (1981) [Mini Review]

From http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/fridaythe13th/images/
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Director: Steve Miner
Screenplay: Ron Kurz and Phil Scuderi
Cast: Amy Steel (as Ginny Field); John Furey (as Paul Holt); Adrienne King (as Alice Hardy); Warrington Gillette (as Jason Voorhees); Walt Gorney (as Crazy Ralph)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #17

Regardless of my opinion of the first Friday the 13th, I'll actively remind myself continually that Part 2 is a significantly better film than the original. A great deal of my problems with the original are completely excised and replaced with something significantly better. The feel of the seventies is still here and, more so than the first, the backwoods atmosphere is significantly more palpable here. Having scenes in the broad daylight that are tension building, not just for blank dialogue like the first, really helps emphasising that no one is safe, and the lush American woodlands here is even more atmospheric distinct. Rather than just a set the woodland here in the sequel is both a beautiful place but also dangerous without killers in it with bears and dark passages in the middle of it. If anything it does signpost that Steve Miner is significantly better than Sean S. Cunningham at least in terms of these Friday the 13th films in direction, at least in the sense that when you get a prolonged moment of a kettle boiling on a stove its actually used to build up dread rather than wasting time like in the first.

Another huge advantage is that the characters are actually likable. There's some strange aspects - Muffin the dog is cute, but I wasn't expecting a full blown theatrical reveal for her at the end of the film usually expected for non-canine human beings - but there're characters here that are so much more interesting to the point you actually care for them, a rarity in slashes that's a significant advantage for this one. Amy Steel, with the best surname for a final girl actress, is so much more charismatic and given a character in Ginny whose more rewarding - resilient with intelligence but with clear grit to her. That grit drastically contrasts that obnoxious virgin parallel with final girls in these films, something clearly obvious in how she basks with a beer at the bar, with the attitude of a  grown woman, contemplating the possible innocence of Jason Voorhees before everything went wrong for his family. All the characters are likable even if they're one note, to the point one's death is actually tragic connected to how everything was looking great for them, done in at such a cruel moment and in a rare moment for a slasher you actually feel pain for their death.

There's still flaws sadly but they're more things that should've been fixed rather than sabotaging the film completely. Harry Manfredini's score is still overbearing to a detriment. The chase scenes in the last act as well, while far more engaging, do become repetitious; I've always found the more slower, dramatic moments in horror cinema more engaging, chase scenes unless you're the best like in Halloween (1978) or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) always in danger of coming more off like action scenes than something for the horror genre, meant to be more contemplative or moody unless you get the tone right. Crazy Ralph (Gorney), from the first film, is a comical character who doesn't work, like a parody of a character from a horror film, but he thankfully only has a small role before [spoiler] he thankfully buys the farm. and, while the controversy over this film taking scenes from Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood (1971) are not that problematic for me, the censorship to the film scuppers the recreation of the spear scene from the first film to an immense detriment.

Thankfully everything else is solid, a lot more done right here. The opening sequence, crushing the hopes of the fans of the first film and effectively crushing the prequel at the same time, does work as it appropriate sets up how no one is safe. Having likable characters helps build up fear as much as having a villain who is far more a prescience throughout the film from the beginning; borrowing the sack from The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) helps as does having a hulking figure in the shadows who is both clumsy, not safe when a chair collapses to pieces under him like for anyone, but still dangerous and resourceful. The sense that this feels more darker and sinister than the first film helps a lot, where even a sense of a character wetting themselves in fear doesn't come off as tasteless but a moment of anxiety before pulling themselves together. The only regret with this film is that it's stuck to the first like a Siamese twin. Despite the extensive use of prequel footage, you're stuck knowing that the first film has to exist to enjoy this one, and the fact that this ends up with a confused chronology as a result of doing this yet undermining plot points from the first to get a better narrative does cause a headache if you think about it too much. Unfortunately like many sequels, the timeline and mythology of the franchise was already existing in parallel dimensions from the second film onwards but at least Friday the 13th Part II is a significantly better work that can be enjoyed by itself, the prequel preferably buried somewhere to be forgotten for me while this did the premise better. 

From http://static.wixstatic.com/media/ff562f
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Friday the 13th (1980) [Mini Review]

From http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/fridaythe13th/images/9/91/
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Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Screenplay: Victor Miller
Cast: Adrienne King (as Alice L. Hardy); Harry Crosby (as Bill Brown); Kevin Bacon (as Jack Burrell); Jeannine Taylor (as Marcie Stanler); Mark Nelson (as Ned Rubenstein)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #16

I've had the intention of going throughout the Friday the 13th films even if there might've been difficult to get a few of the later sequels (did I get rid of my copy of Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) or is it lost in the netherrealm of the wardrobe? I really don't want to shell out of lot of money for a bad film like that second hand...). I've however found a roadblock already, knowing how important the first film let alone the franchise is in American horror history but with a weary and ambivalent opinion of the first. This small review has taken needing a rewatch of the first Friday the 13th two times, with the immediate sequel watched inbetween, before I could write this, the one I had the most familiarity to from the series when I watched it years ago. What I realise is that, once my original hatred of slasher films was broken down and I'm starting to go through them, this film is the plain vanilla of the sub-genre and not interesting compared to all the obscurer ones.

I compliment the film in look and tone. Ironically, despite the franchise being the catalyst for a lot of how the eighties American horror films would be in presentation, even the non-slashers, this is a seventies movie entirely in aesthetic. Lust, rugged forest locations and normal people in the cast, the girls you'd met and date from next door and chummy jocks you'd bump into on a street, Kevin Bacon amongst them always seeming to be far more down-to-earth and approachable to the point you could see him transition from this to being a Hollywood star later on. Unfortunately having now caught the bug of appreciating slasher films even for their repetition of plots, I have already found better made, more schlocky, weirder and more entertaining ones whilst barely scrapping the surface of it as a sub-genre.

A lot of this is that it's failed as a horror movie in many ways, intentionally wanting to capitalise on Halloween (1978) but not having any really distinct character to it if it wasn't for its rural camp setting, something that can be found in many other slashers like Madman (1981) and The Burning (1981). It relies on a build up to the kills compromised by the characters being exceptionally bland, even the final girl played by Adrienne King we're meant to finally get behind, the less the memorable dialogue without unintentional camp or menace to it even less interesting than some of these slashers can have. Also, while its great music, I entirely blame Harry Manfredini's score and how it's used for a lot of the problems with overeager and overused scores in modern horror films in terms of jump scares and deflating tension. The famous whispering in the score is excellent and chilling, but altogether the score when it builds up is overbearing. In direct comparison, the score for John Carpenter's Halloween, while signposting jumps, had a greater subtlety and allowed for moments of stillness. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) realise that just a collage of noise, pig sounds and screaming would terrify anyone.

When it leads to the dynamic ending, I feel Friday the 13th lets itself down. While Betsy Palmer is memorable and a much needed injection of charisma, the film doesn't build itself up throughout its narrative to make her inclusion into the narrative have greater weight. Even when it gets to the famous scene on the lake, which is a great sequence possessing a great, serene synth track, the film undermines it by having more scenes afterwards rather than letting it be the last moment before the end credits to leave viewers with a buzz afterwards. Altogether, with these flaws, Friday the 13th is just bland, a film that may have kick-started the slasher craze in the early eighties but not one for me personally that really stands out in the slightest.

From http://deathensemble.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/
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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Teenage Caveman (2001) [Mini Review]

From https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
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Director: Larry Clark
Screenplay: Christos N. Gage
Cast: Andrew Keegan (as David); Tara Subkoff (as Sarah); Richard Hillman (as Neil); Tiffany Limos (as Judith); Stephen Jasso (as Vincent)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #15

In the early 2000, a series called Creature Features was created between US cable and satellite station Cinemax and American International Pictures (AIP), an independent film production company known for b-movies from the fifties and sixties which Roger Corman would grow into a legendary director and producer from. Creature Features remade five of AIP's older films for the new Millennium, the one which stood out the most for me for all these years the least expected one to ever exist and standing out of the set as the potential oddity. The idea that the producers took Teenage Caveman, based on a 1958 prehistoric teensploitation work directed by Corman, and let it be directed by the legendary and notorious photographer and film director sounds like a bizarre masterstroke I'd be compelled to see. Clark made Kids (!995), a controversial cult drama where youths have sex, take drugs and get into grim situations, and continued down this path with as much controversy. With all this in mind, I had for years since I was a young naive cineaste wondered what the hell a film about (preferably) teenage cavemen would be like from Larry Clark. Lots of sex? Likely. Nubile youths waxing lyrically on their lives naively? Possibly, thought stranger if its teenage cave people musing about their lives living in caves eating brontosaurus. Violence? Definitely and since Clark has tackled violence in films before, such as someone being battered nearly to death with a skateboard in Kids, he's able to tackle to visceral in affecting ways that would make it a pretty nasty genre flick.

A post apocalypse tale, mankind is reduced back into a new prehistoric age living in caves again. David (Keegan), the protagonist, has to live with a father who uses his position as the tribe's priest to restrict others and try to sleep with as many of his son's friends as possible. After David commits patricide, he and his friends wander in exile only to find a ruined metropolis and encounter two survivors. One a drug and drink fuelled guy named Neil (Hillman) who missed the chance to have become a rock star in the old world, the other his caring girlfriend Judith (the beautiful Limos), they welcome the youths into their home, openly admitting they are immortal due to being guinea pigs in an experiment to save humanity but not revealing how they intend to pass it onto the youths even if the side effects of the failed mutation is death by internal explosion in gore and guts if the transition isn't successful. It was interesting to see whether Clark would be censored slightly for a TV movie even if it's for cable and could get away with a lot more; while there's still a lot of nudity, drug taking and sex, as Neil and Judith encourage their guests to partake in drunken orgies, there's something innocent to the material in a schlocky T'n'A filled horror movie sort of way appropriate for an updated b-movie. Unfortunately while this sounds good in a silly way the result is an abominable disaster. The first issue is that it's not a film about teenage cavemen. Once it gets to the metropolis and Neil and Judith's home, the rest of the film is in corridors and is another cheap sci-fi horror movie. The film looks bland and like the TV movie it is to a severe detriment, claustrophobic corridors that are lacking in style and even the outdoor moments not offering a change of look.

The other, even bigger issue is that the screenplay by Christos N. Gage is garbage. Clark can have young characters who sound real in his films but it's clearly a case of who is working on the screenplay, such as having the than-teenage Harmony Korine write Kids with the realism of being around the age of the characters he wrote about. Gage's script is a botched attempt at broad, exaggerated youth dialogue, the kind that one wishes Greg Araki made this film instead to get this done properly, spliced with the bland exposition dialogue of terrible modern sci-fi horror movies. Where the hero is bland and uninteresting, his girlfriend Sarah (Subkoff) is whiny and emotionally stunted rather than likable, and the teenagers are merely fodder for a body count. Neil and Judith are more interesting characters, especially as villains who actually want to help humanity by way of sexually transmitted immortality, the least expected and memorable intention for any villain to have, but the finale has Neil becomes embarrassing in terms of how actor Richard Hillman has to chew the scenery from then to the conclusion. At first, like a man whose drug and drink intact would even make Keith Richards blush and balanced on a knife edge between charisma and being scummy, the character alongside the more likable Judith are the only real virtue of the film especially as they are technically the villains; when terrible CGI effects and prosthetics that look dire on Hillman's head, even by the late Stan Winston, are involved Neil becomes the worst example of a villain who won't shut up thus making the viewing experience even more painful.

As a result, Teenage Caveman is not even a fascinating failure, which fans of a director would still like because the director's personality is there, but a film so compromised and bad that one would prefer if it was buried never to be watched by said fan again. Like Tusk (1980) for Alejandro Jodorowsky or The Mother of Tears (2007) for Dario Argento for examples, it's an incredibly embarrassing work from a director I admire that I really and significantly doubt I would want to witness again, preferring amnesia and watching other Larry Clark films instead to revisiting Teenage Caveman again. 

From https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/
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