Corey Feldman

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985, Danny Steinmann)

Someone–whether it be the writers, director, producers, studio, composer, whoever–someone tried really hard to make Friday the 13th: A New Beginning a comedy. It fails miserably, but the attempt is interesting if not admirable.

Wait, it’s not because of the composer; Harry Manfredini plays it straight and ruins a lot of the scenes. Well, not exactly ruins them but he definitely works at cross purpose.

It’s hard to say if it’s director Steinmann working the absurd cliche angle; there are a handful of ambitious scenes in the film, where Steinmann is clearly trying to do something with the filmmaking (never the film). So are those moments the fluke or is the rest of it the fluke?

The actors suggest the former, just because the acting is so bad and there’s no way Steinmann wouldn’t prefer better acting in those parts. He’s got Shavar Ross, who’s annoying as all hell but he’s a capable actor and Ross is stuck in scenes without any professionals to work with. Leading lady Melanie Kinnaman is bad. She doesn’t have anything to do, but she’s still bad.

As the suspect in all the film’s ineptly cut murders, John Shepherd is terrible. Obviously Steinmann saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre for one sequence, but he also borrowed heavily from The Karate Kid for Shepherd’s scenes. It’s silly and awful and the film’s so unsuccessful, it’s actually pitiable.

Decent enough performance from Juliette Cummins in one of Steinmann’s acceptable tangents.

But it’s an awful movie. Just lame.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Danny Steinmann; screenplay by Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen and Steinmann, based on a story by Kitrosser and Cohen; director of photography, Stephen L. Posey; edited by Bruce Green; music by Harry Manfredini; production designer, Robert Howland; produced by Timothy Silver; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Melanie Kinnaman (Pam), John Shepherd (Tommy), Shavar Ross (Reggie), Vernon Washington (George), Richard Young (Matt), Caskey Swaim (Duke), Tiffany Helm (Violet), Juliette Cummins (Robin), Jerry Pavlon (Jake), Carol Locatell (Ethel), Ron Sloan (Junior), Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (Demon), Jere Fields (Anita), John Robert Dixon (Eddie), Deborah Voorhees (Tina), Dominick Brascia (Joey), Anthony Barrile (Vinnie), Mark Venturini (Vic Faden), Richard Lineback (Deputy Dodd) and Marco St. John (Sheriff Tucker); special appearance by Corey Feldman (Tommy at 12).


Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984, Joseph Zito)

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter never tries to be scary. It tries to be gory… but not too gory. It saves the biggest gore moment for the last, when any number of the other ones throughout the film would’ve given Tom Savini better material. It’s supposed to be gory, but not too gory. It still has to be mainstream.

And The Final Chapter is a desperate attempt to fulfill the mainstream expectations of a Friday the 13th movie. There’s pointless nudity, dumb coeds, scary music, a kid with a horror movie fixation. Except Zito can’t do any of it right. He does best on the exploitation of his female cast, but even that is inept because of his direction. Zito shoots everything in a medium-long shot, straight on so the pan and scan video release won’t miss any of the technically competent, but entirely unimaginative gore.

Worse, Zito has a screenwriter in Barney Cohen who give him okay scary setups. Zito flops on all of them. Occasionally it’ll be something as simple as needing Harry Manfredini’s (admittedly somewhat lame this entry) score over a scene instead of the scenic sound. There’s not a single good thing Zito does in the film.

Except the opening tracking shot tying it to the previous series entry.

Lots of bad acting, but also an almost good one from Crispin Glover and okay ones from Kimberly Beck and Barbara Howard.

One scare out of The Final Chapter shouldn’t have been asking too much.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Joseph Zito; screenplay by Barney Cohen, based on a story by Bruce Hidemi Sakow and characters created by Victor Miller, Ron Kurz, Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson; director of photography, João Fernandes; edited by Daniel Loewenthal and Joel Goodman; music by Harry Manfredini; production designer, Shelton H. Bishop III; produced by Frank Mancuso Jr.; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Corey Feldman (Tommy), Kimberly Beck (Trish), Erich Anderson (Rob), Barbara Howard (Sara), Peter Barton (Doug), Lawrence Monoson (Ted), Camilla More (Tina), Crispin Glover (Jimmy Mortimer), Joan Freeman (Mrs. Jarvis), Carey More (Terri), Clyde Hayes (Paul), Judie Aronson (Samantha), Bonnie Hellman (Hitchhiker) with Lisa Freeman (Nurse Robbie Morgan) and Bruce Mahler (Axel).


The Goonies (1985, Richard Donner)

There’s a lack of consistent mood to The Goonies. The film has its phases and the mood and tone change from phase to phase, but Chris Columbus’s script changes characterizations between these phases as well, which is rather disconcerting. For example, while the film introduces the villains–Anne Ramsey as the mother, Robert Davi and Joe Pantoliano as her sons–with some humor, but by the end they’re entirely slapstick.

And Donner can’t really direct the slapstick. There’s a noticeable lag, which editor Michael Kahn (who otherwise does a phenomenal job) can’t do anything with. But Donner does well with the actors. Even the weak performances, like Jeff Cohen (whose annoying overweight kid isn’t just annoying, he’s also the butt of all the script’s jokes), are generally all right thanks to Donner’s direction.

There are some stronger performances–Martha Plimpton and Corey Feldman are both good. Josh Brolin and Kerri Green have their moments too. Jonathan Ke Quan simultaneously has a lot to do, physically, but not much to do acting-wise, which is good… he doesn’t do well in his big scene. As the de facto lead, Sean Astin is more appealing than good, but he does have some fine moments.

Excellent music from Dave Grusin and photography from Nick McLean help through the rougher spots–like the entire third act. Oddly, J. Michael Riva’s great production design shines brightest during that third act.

It’s saccharine and superficial, but Donner’s direction is quite good. It’s a passable kiddie adventure.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Donner; screenplay by Chris Columbus, based on a story by Steven Spielberg; director of photography, Nick McLean; edited by Michael Kahn; music by Dave Grusin; production designer, J. Michael Riva; produced by Donner and Harvey Bernhard; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Sean Astin (Mikey), Josh Brolin (Brand), Jeff Cohen (Chunk), Corey Feldman (Mouth), Kerri Green (Andy), Martha Plimpton (Stef), Jonathan Ke Quan (Data), John Matuszak (Sloth), Robert Davi (Jake), Joe Pantoliano (Francis), Anne Ramsey (Mama Fratelli), Lupe Ontiveros (Rosalita) and Mary Ellen Trainor (Mrs. Walsh).


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).


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990, Steve Barron)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uses Central Park as an establishing shot for an apartment at 11th and Bleecker. I’ll let you Google Map that one.

The film’s worth talking about for four reasons—the amazing animatronics, the editing, the anti-Japanese sentiment and Judith Hoag. It’s also amusing to watch for Sam Rockwell sightings, but that one isn’t so much a discussion point.

For people who care about puppetry and animatronics, the work the Jim Henson workshop does in Turtles is phenomenal. They create five entirely believable creatures. It’s so effective, in fact, I’m glad Josh Pais both did the voice and the costume work for his character… so I can identify him as the film’s worst performance.

There are some terrible performances from the regular actors here, but Pais is atrocious. His characterization seems like a mix between James Cagney and George Jefferson. If Turtles weren’t a stupid movie with a bad script, he’d be the one ruining it.

Switching up the list a bit—Judith Hoag. While Elias Koteas (as her romantic interest) is okay, she’s great opposite all the costumes and animatronic nonsense. She makes the fantastical nature work… at least until her character disappears to give more attention to the lame fight scenes.

The great editing—in the fight scenes and not—makes Turtles mildly tolerable. The anti-Japanese sentiment is bewildering but captivating.

Awful performances from James Saito and Obata Toshirô—the only Japanese actors—don’t help.

Turtles is terrible. Hoag aside, there’s nothing “good.”

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Steven Barron; screenplay by Todd W. Langen and Bobby Herbeck, based on a story by Herbeck and a comic book by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird; director of photography, John Fenner; edited by William D. Gordean, Sally Menke and James R. Symons; music by John Du Prez; production designer, Roy Forge Smith; produced by David Chan, Kim Dawson and Simon Fields; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring David Forman & Brian Tochi (Leonardo), Michelan Sisti & Robbie Rist (Michelangelo), Leif Tilden & Corey Feldman (Donatello), Josh Pais (Raphael), Judith Hoag (April O’Neil), Elias Koteas (Casey Jones), Michael Turney (Danny Pennington), Kevin Clash (Splinter), James Saito (The Shredder), Obata Toshirô (Tatsu), Raymond Serra (Chief Sterns) and Jay Patterson (Charles Pennington).


The Lost Boys (1987, Joel Schumacher)

Not being a girl, I never really got The Lost Boys. I didn’t even see it until I was in my late teens, hunting down Jeffrey Boam’s screenwriting credits. Seeing it now, it’s not just clear how much the film wastes wasted Michael Chapman’s cinematography or how Schumacher makes Corey Haim the only gay leading character in a major Hollywood film I can think of, but also how impossible it would have been to identify with the film as a boy. It’s not like The Monster Squad or The Goonies; Schumacher’s gearing this film specifically for the teenager girl audience. Its infinite depths of gay subtext, while amusing during the more tedious stretches, are really meaningless.

I also can’t remember many other popular vampire films where the rules of vampirism aren’t fetishized. There’s lip service paid to them here, but The Lost Boys plays it pretty loose with the rules (like when Jami Gertz enters Haim’s house uninvited or antlers killing a vampire).

Haim’s not good. He’s not even personable enough to be obnoxious. Corey Feldman’s bad too. Jamison Newlander’s fine, so much so, it’s surprising he didn’t go on to more.

Jason Patric, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann and Barnard Hughes are all great. Patric’s got some lame scenes too, so when he does good work, it’s impressive–he’s got a lot to overcome.

The vampires are mostly lame, Alex Winter being the lamest. Their makeup is from the Cat People remake….

Still, it’s not as bad as I remembered.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Joel Schumacher; screenplay by Janice Fischer, James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam, based on a story by Fischer and Jeremias; director of photography, Michael Chapman; edited by Robert Brown; music by Thomas Newman; production designer, Bo Welch; produced by Harvey Bernhard; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Jason Patric (Michael), Corey Haim (Sam), Dianne Wiest (Lucy), Barnard Hughes (Grandpa), Edward Herrmann (Max), Kiefer Sutherland (David), Jami Gertz (Star), Corey Feldman (Edgar Frog), Jamison Newlander (Alan Frog), Brooke McCarter (Paul), Billy Wirth (Dwayne), Alex Winter (Marko) and Chance Michael Corbitt (Laddie).


Gremlins (1984, Joe Dante)

Okay, I don’t get it. How did Zach Galligan not succeed as an actor? He’s not astoundingly good or anything, but he’s incredibly likable. From his filmography, it looks like he just disappeared… Anyway, I watched Gremlins because I haven’t seen it in ten years and, I don’t know, I thought Blockbuster was sending me the special edition (they didn’t).

What’s incredible about Gremlins is that it’s a special effects spectacular, back when they knew how to make them. I watched this film and constantly wondered how they did the models, the moving faces, the puppetry (I assume it was puppetry). That feeling is incredible today, because I never feel it anymore. At best, it’s something like Hellboy–watching the ‘making of’ documentary and being surprised they didn’t just use CG.

But Gremlins isn’t just odd because it’s visually interesting, it’s also interesting–and amusing–because they made it to amuse the audience. There is no reality in the storytelling–the Gremlins know pop culture references within an hour of birth–and once you let it go, Gremlins is amusing. A lot of it doesn’t work. For example, the connection between “gremlins” in machines to the Gremlins of the title, that’s all forced. It’s not funny enough either, though I saw the second one before the first, and I think they got that one right.

Oh, and I love how all the characters seem to meet just before the film begins. Presumably, since it’s a small town, everyone would know how Phoebe Cates’ dad died. No one does. It just doesn’t work that there’d be these young stars stuck there with no other young people around… the small size of the town really limited that aspect of the film’s “reality.” It gets the quotation marks because I’m not sure they cared about reality too much. You can’t force a purely amusing film–Gremlins writer Chris Columbus has been trying to do that again for twenty years–so it’s an admirable feat.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything I forgot… Hoyt Axton is really good… I think that’s it….

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Joe Dante; written by Chris Columbus; director of photography, John Hora; edited by Tina Hirsch; music by Jerry Goldsmith; production designer, James H. Spencer; produced by Michael Finnell; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Zach Galligan (Billy), Phoebe Cates (Kate), Hoyt Axton (Rand Peltzer), Frances Lee McCain (Lynn Peltzer), Polly Holliday (Mrs. Deagle), Keye Luke (Grandfather), John Louie (Chinese Boy), Dick Miller (Mr. Futterman), Jackie Joseph (Mrs. Futterman), Scott Brady (Sheriff Frank), Harry Carey Jr. (Mr. Anderson), Corey Feldman (Pete), Glynn Turman (Roy Hanson) and Judge Reinhold (Gerald).


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