Movie Stakeout: March Madness

in #filmlast month

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Last month the Movie Stakeout precinct climbed deep down into the rabbit hole of mad concepts...and even madder movies.

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Freaked (1993)
Alex Winter gets mutantised by Randy Quaid and that's only the beginning, which also sees Mr-T as a bearded lady and Keanu Reeves stretching his acting chops as a mad farm animal! All visualised and brought to life by the Chiodo Brothers and a soundtrack featuring the Butthole Surfers. A truly Gonzo cult comedy!
If you are from the MTV generation you will get a kick out of this one!
Rewatch: 3.5 madballs

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The Arizona Case Files: March Madness
Spirited Away (2001)
A young girl and her family stumble into a spirit world, and when her parents are turned into pigs ten year old Chihiro is forced to work in a bathhouse run by a witch. She's befriended by a boy who turns into a dragon, a multi-armed boilerman and a spirit named No Face. Frogmen, giant babies, bouncing heads and creatures made from soot make for a two hour fever dream.
Now I know this is going to get backlash, but I can't give this Oscar winner full marks. Despite the universal love, I don't think this is Miyazaki's best movie, and I really don't like some of the character design. I also think something this whimsical needs to be shorter, like Alice in Wonderland (1951) or Labyrinth (1986).
Rewatch: 4 bath tokens

The Arizona Case Files: March Madness
Space Jam (1996)
Tiny aliens try to enslave Bugs, Daffy and the rest of the Looney Tunes to spent eternity as living attractions at a theme park. After tricking the space creatures into a contest to decide their fate, the Tunes choose basketball, thinking the diminutive critters don't stand a chance. But the aliens have a plan, and steal the talent of basketball greats like Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, transforming them into court-dominating brutes. Not to be out done the Tunes enlist the help of retired legend turned baseball player Michael Jordan...and Bill Murray's involved too.
When this came out on VHS my friends and I watched this repeatedly...we were in college at the time.
It's a ridiculous meta celebratory sports movie featuring some of the most recognisable cartoon characters ever created, and some of the greatest athletes to lace up a sneaker, what more could you ask for.
Rewatch: 3 pointer

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Dick Japowski's March Madness!
The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
A documentary film looking at the life, music, art and madness of Austin local hero Daniel Johnston. A truly fascinating look at a creative who had God and the devil battling inside him for large chapters of his life, but still managed to use this to create great art and music. A sympathetic journey into the psyche that also shows Johnston's friends and family and what they had to deal with. Ask your Spotify, Alexa or YouTube to play some of his music today!
Rewatch: 4.5 madballs

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Synchronic (2021)
Two New Orleans paramedics are called out to what appear to be grizzly or bizarre accidents, but they all have something in common, a trendy new drug named "Synchronic"...
The new film from duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead who have recently been snapped up by Marvel for their upcoming Moonknight series, and if you're familiar with the pair you'll understand why. These guys are making true original sci-fi movies, and if you enjoy this then go back and check out Spring, Resolution and the endless. The set up of this mystery and the first half is the strongest with Anthony Mackie trying to get his head around the madness he's witnessing, and it's fun trying to guess where the movie is heading. A satisfying trip.
First watch: 4 madballs

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The Arizona Case Files: March Madness
Cowgirls Vs Pterodactyls (2021)
A school teacher forms a pose with a drunken gunslinger and a brothel owner to rescue her husband who has been carried off by a pterodactyl.
I didn't expect much from Cowgirls Vs Pterodactyls, and it certainly delivered. The acting and production are the level of a student film, and we're not talking film school we're talking college.
There's one scene where the three leads are sat around a (CGI) fire in a blacked out studio space, although they're meant to be outside you can hear the dialogue reverberating of the walls. There's also another point when the three leads get horses to quicken their journey, and they've clearly never ridden a horse before, the animals barely break into a trot. I could go on.
This is the first 2021 release I've seen, and pretty sure it's going to be the worst one of the year.
First watch: 1 bag of pterodactyl manure

The Arizona Case Files: March Madness
Freddie as F.R.O.7 (1992)
A French prince is turned into a frog by his sorceress aunt wishing to cease control of the throne. While trying to escape his aunt, who has transformed herself into a giant snake, Freddie is rescued by Nessie, a Loch Ness monster. But because Freddie also possesses magical powers he doesn't stay a regular frog, growing up like any normal person.
Then what must be centuries pass, and Freddie (Ben Kingsley) is now an agent for the French Secret Service on loan to Britain, Where landmarks are disappearing. A villain named El Supremo (Brian Blessed) plans to harvest their residual enery built up over centuries and use it, via magic, to but the British public to sleep so his forces can invade.
An animated oddity lost to time and YouTube, a favourite of this detective's siblings growing up, and one that didn't hold Little Arizona's attention at all.
...did I also forget to mention Freddie's car is alive. of course it is.
Rewatch: 2.5 frog's legs

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The Arizona Case Files: March Madness
Colossal (2016)
An alcoholic unemployed writer named Gloria returns to her home town after her boyfriend kicks her out. It's not long before she bumps into an old friend, and starts working at his bar, where they regularly stay after hours to get drunk.
Meanwhile in South Korea a gargantuan monster keeps appearing from nowhere and destroying large parts of the capital before vanishing completely.
...and somehow Gloria is responsible.
This could have been a generic, yet enjoyable story of someone getting their life together, and the first act very much plays out that way. But once the monster drama kicks in the story goes in a very different direction, and not one I was expecting.
First watch: 4 Kaiju-sized Doughnuts

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Society (1989)
What happens when you shun society? Society shunts back! Baywatch star Billy Warlock learns the harsh truth about complying with the neighbours in this fairly standard horror flick that is elevated in the last half by some of the best/ worst terrifying grossness ever committed to film. Thank make up maestro Screaming Mad George for your subsequent nightmares!
Rewatch: 3.5 madballs

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Dick Japowski's March Madness!
King Kong Vs Godzilla (1962)
In preparation for both Godzilla Vs Kong and the great month of Ape-ril, Japowski jr and myself watched the original battle of the titans and the outcome may surprise you!.. A heck of a tonne of fun. SEE Kong force a tree down Godzilla's throat.. MARVEL as Godzilla torches Kong's chest hair and APPLAUD when the Military tie several balloons to Kong and float him into battle atop Mt Fuji!
A great time that sets the bar high for the new movie to topple.
First watch: 4 madballs

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
Madness doesn't come much more madder than from the mind of Salvador Dali and Salvador serves surrealist slices that really make you think "How much insanity can I handle?" Dead donkeys in grand pianos, ant hand, slicing up eyeballs. Perfect fodder for future Pixies songs!
First watch: 4 madballs

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The Arizona Case Files: March Madness
Six-String Samurai (1998)
The bomb dropped in 1957, and Russia took over most of the America that was left. Elvis became king of the city of Lost Vegas, but now, forty years later, the king is dead. The City needs a new king...enter Buddy, a guitar strumming Ronin on his way to take the throne. Unfortunately Buddy also finds himself keeper of an orphaned boy who's being pursued by Death and his heavy metal horseman.
What a concept, I saw the poster and I was sold, then I saw the write-up...could this be the greatest movie ever made and never heard of? Nope. At best there's a music video for a nineties rock band.
First watch: 1 stale sushi roll

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Nothing But Trouble (1991)
Chevy Chase and Demi Moore get lost in New Jersey and wind up in Valkanvania, where their car gets impounded and are taken to see "The judge" played with relish by Dan Aykroyd. This was Aykroyd's one and only shot at directing and by all accounts was loved on set by cast and crew.
Audiences and critics were a different story though, not seemingly ready for the bizarreness presented to them and this was buried.. Even myself as a huge Chase, Aykroyd and Candy fan hadn't heard of this until former Stakeout detective Charlie Stalk started talking of bonesawing rollercoasters, penis nose and the twins and I had to see it!
Gonzo in the way the best cult films are, it's a real shame Dan Aykroyd wasn't given more free rein to direct as we may have gotten a whole new genre?!
Rewatch: 3 madballs

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Manborg (2011)
A soldier fighting against the armies of hell is reawakened in the future as more than just a man.. He is Manborg! And with his trio of renegade bros must stop Count Draculon once and for all.
The first release by low budget Canadian production company Astron-6 who recently brought us Psycho Goreman. This is equally packed with homemade charm, and a knowing humour and love of the time when these types of films were clogging the video shop shelves on a weekly basis! This also feels heavily influenced by South Park and Trey Parker's delivery of dialogue.
First watch: 3.5 madballs

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Cinematic Sleuth Sam Sleet, P.I. Celebrates March MADness!
Little Monsters (1989)
A boy learns that the monsters under your bed are more than just a scary story and uncovers a secret world of mischief. I was very fond of this one as a kid and have a lot of nostalgia for it now, but there's some stuff in here that's gross and creepy in the wrong way. The low budget also holds it back a bit, as the monster world is described as a kid's wildest fantasy, but we go there and it's basically a shantytown made from wooden pallets. A couple of monsters cross the line from kids' fun scary to genuinely upsetting. A grotesque, hulking bully with a jagged underbite at one point pulls a little kid's head off and tosses it in a basket, and then there's Boy, played by Frank Whaley, who's actually a pretty effective late-reveal big bad, but also probably a few degrees creepier than what they were aiming for. I've always remembered the end with the kids on the beach in California and Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere" playing, but I wasn't sure if that was in this or The Wizard. All in all, a fun rewatch but not up there with the classics from my childhood.
Rewatch: 3 wet bedsheets

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Monster Hunter (2020)
A military troop out on a routine exercise get transported by a magical storm to another world filled with giant monsters. Sounds pretty magical but in reality it's extremely tedious. And although you do get big monsters, you also get alot of sand which means it's visually boring! Hard to watch, and listen to as it's also poorly written, acted and directed. I hear the craft services put in the most effort!
First watch: 1 madball

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The Arizona Case Files: March Madness
Tank Girl (1995)
In the dystopian year 2033 water is the most valuable commodity, and one evil corporation as more than it's fair share, and they want more. A trigger happy free spirit and her new friends, humanoid kangaroos known as The Rippers, are about to level the field.
Based on the cult comic co-created by Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz) Tank Girl is punk rock trash with a budget, and it doesn't care if you like it. It's ridiculous. Over the top villains, animated sections, and even a musical number. What's not to like?... you'll have to ask Detective Japowski, he doesn't care for this at all.
Rewatch: 4 Doughnuts

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Godzilla versus Hedorah a.k.a. the smog monster (1971)
Godzilla goes green as he takes on the eco threat of an oily smog monster who's polluting and turning people into skeletons! There is also singing, dancing and animated goodness. As close as Godzilla came to being the 60s Batman!
First watch: 3 madballs

Dick Japowski's March Madness!
Tickled (2016)
A New Zealand journalist best know for his fun puff pieces at the end of news stories learns about the world of competitive tickling endurance. But as he follows this down the rabbit hole the story gets less light and fluffy and more pokey..
Equal parts fascinating and unsettling, prepare to get tickled!
First watch: 4 madballs

Have you lost your mind to any of the movies we've investigated? What movie twisted your brain the most? Let us know in the comments below.