Tag Archives: Wendy Schaal

Creature (1985, William Malone)

I'm hesitant to pay Creature any compliments, but it does have some unexpected plot developments. Not regarding the space monster, which rips off Alien comprehensively–though stoutly–but in how director Malone and co-writer Alan Reed plot the film. They have a large cast to work through as alien food and eventually move away from the Ten Indians style. It doesn't make the film much better, but it does make certain plot developments unexpected.

They also give some of the characters actual arcs. The actors don't do anything with these opportunities, but they do have them.

The easiest place to jab at Creature is Malone's direction. He's got a nice wide Panavision frame and no idea what to put in it. If the photography were more competent–either Harry Mathias can't light or the film stock was atrocious–some of the more awkward shots would be interesting. Low budget filmmaking sometimes leads to lots of innovation. Not so in the case of Creature.

Really, the only good thing about the film is Klaus Kinski's ludicrous, scenery chewing–literally–turn as a horny West German guy. He brings a nice amount of derision for the material but also acceptance of his place in it.

The rest of the acting is awful. Leading man Stan Ivar and his erstwhile sidekick, Lyman Ward, are astounding calm for being hunted by a monster. Diane Salinger and Wendy Schaal are weak, if somewhat less lethargic. The other cast members are indistinctly bad.

Malone plays Creature with a straight face. Big mistake.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by William Malone; written by Malone and Alan Reed; director of photography, Harry Mathias; edited by Bette Jane Cohen; music by Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker; produced by Malone and William G. Dunn; released by Trans World Entertainment.

Starring Stan Ivar (Mike Davison), Wendy Schaal (Beth Sladen), Lyman Ward (David Perkins), Robert Jaffe (Jon Fennel), Diane Salinger (Melanie Bryce), Annette McCarthy (Dr. Wendy H. Oliver), Marie Laurin (Susan Delambre) and Klaus Kinski (Hans Rudy Hofner).


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The ‘burbs (1989, Joe Dante)

Until The 'burbs gets around to actually having to pay off on its premise–the strange new neighbors are really serial killers–it’s quite good. There’s no way the third act pay off can deliver and the film’s quality takes a number of hits in the last half hour or so. Olsen’s script is, technically, at fault… but it’s hard to think of how the narrative could have unfolded and not had problems.

What the film does have, even with the last act problems, is some of Dante’s most enthusiastic work. The film’s perfectly casted–I counted three times the actors were trying not to laugh during a scene–and he gets these great performances. Olsen’s script sets up these fine characters, Dante and the cast are able to turn them into something even better… then the script abandons them. At one point, Carrie Fisher just disappears. Instead of figuring out how to incorporate her (or even just keep her around), Olsen sends her away. Coincidentally, Fisher disappears about the time the film hits the bumps.

Tom Hanks is very good in the lead. He manages not to get overshadowed by Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun, who are a lot wackier. Wendy Schaal’s good as Dern’s wife (she too disappears though) and Brother Theodore is hilarious as one of the villains. Corey Feldman is a tad broad… and looks a little old for a teenager.

Amazing Jerry Goldsmith score.

With its marvelous Dante direction, The 'burbs is almost a success.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Joe Dante; written by Dana Olsen; director of photography, Robert M. Stevens; edited by Marshall Harvey; music by Jerry Goldsmith; production designer, James H. Spencer; produced by Larry Brezner and Michael Finnell; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Tom Hanks (Ray Peterson), Bruce Dern (Lt. Mark Rumsfield), Carrie Fisher (Carol Peterson), Rick Ducommun (Art Weingartner), Corey Feldman (Ricky Butler), Wendy Schaal (Bonnie Rumsfield), Henry Gibson (Dr. Werner Klopek), Brother Theodore (Uncle Reuben Klopek), Courtney Gains (Hans Klopek) and Gale Gordon (Walter Seznick).


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