When the powerful and presumably criminal El Jefe (Emilio Fernández) finds out who impregnated his teenage daughter, he puts a million dollar bounty on the man’s head—literally. Months later, a couple of the tie-wearing goons end up in a rundown bar in Mexico City, asking questions about Garcia. It’s there they meet the American piano player, Bennie (Warren Oats), who plays stupid. He doesn’t know where Garcia is, but he’s got a lead: his prostitute girlfriend, Elita (Isela Vega).
“Everybody’s got a right to be a sucker once.”
It’s the classic opener: the gunslinger stumbles upon a damsel in distress in the middle of the desert. This time the gunslinger is Clint Eastwood and the damsel is Shirley MacLaine. The two of them play Hogan and Sara. After Hogan guns down the group of would-be rapists, Sara puts her clothes back on.
Hogan’s thrown for a loop when he sees the habit and the rosary. He doesn’t feel right leaving a nun all alone in the desert, so he agrees to take her with him, even after he discovers Sara’s in deep shit with the French for providing money and support to Mexican revolutionaries.
Two Mules for Sister Sara is a comedy that sometimes forgets it’s also a western until it overcompensates in its climax, which is jarringly and uncharacteristically violent. The rest of the film is pretty funny, sure, but it must have been disappointing to see it during its original run, only a year after the release of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which is really funny and a lot more evenly cooked.
The running gag: although she’s a nun, Sara says and does some unlikely things. After Hogan helps her climb into a tree, he sincerely apologizes for touching her bottom. “It’s no sin that you pushed me up the tree with your hands on my ass,” she says. Hogan’s double-take is priceless.
But that’s pretty much all it is: funny. There’s some amusing dialog, good writing, and a touching moment or two, but it’s little more than a solid entertainment that feels like it’s playing it a little too safe. It comes from a time when westerns were like Marvel movies and the studios were just as reluctant to adjust the formula as they are today. That so many people seem to consider Two Mules for Sister Sara to be some kind of classic sets the bar for classics just a little too low. It’s a good movie and I’ll probably even watch it again someday, but I personally wouldn’t say it’s great.
And that’s just fine.
Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie modified for 4:3. Especially one with such incompetent panning and scanning. Unfortunately, VHS is probably the only way you can see Sonny Boy, a weird little film that apparently never made the leap to disc or digital media. Pan and scan this terrible is like trying to watch a movie through a telescope, but someone else is holding it to your eye. It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s worth watching it this way until someone tracks down the rights and gives the film a proper release.
Sonny Boy opens on a secluded motel where a young couple are being spied on by a good-for-nothing desert thug named Weasel (Brad Dourif), who looks pretty much how you’d expect a guy named Weasel to look. Weasel murders the couple and takes off in their convertible, which he tries to sell to the local crime boss, Slue (Paul Smith, who played Bluto in Popeye). Slue is a grown-up bully who lives in a junkyard of stolen merchandise with his transvestite wife, Pearl (David Carradine, who also provides the theme song). As Slue and Weasel are negotiating the price of the stolen convertible, Pearl notices there’s a baby boy in the backseat and she immediately adopts him as her own.
So what happens when a baby is raised by a trio of monsters? First, they give him “the gift of silence” by cutting out his tongue. Then, in a montage of Sonny Boy’s formative years, we see how Slue and Weasel physically torture Sonny, against Pearl’s wishes, in order to toughen him up for the real world. These games of abuse culminate in Sonny Boy’s rite of adulthood, in which Slue ties the boy to a stake and Weasel lights a ring of fire around him. You’ll see Pearl off to the side, desperately trying to put the fire out with a tiny bucket of water. She’s shaking her head as if to say, “Oh, boys will be boys.”
I know all this sounds horrific, but it’s kind of sweet—perhaps bitterly so—in the surreal context of the film. The film makes no excuses for the way its characters behave, but it’s clear this is the only way these people know how to raise a kid, a kid they clearly love and care about. You begin to wonder if the reason they lack a moral compass is the same reason Sonny Boy lacks one: perhaps they were raised like animals, too. Anyway, one day Sonny sees himself in the mirror for the first time, face covered with the blood of Slue’s enemy, which inspires the boy-in-a-man’s-body to begin the long, difficult process of deprogramming himself…
Or something like that.
There’s a lot that’s wrong with the film (such as an overly explanatory voiceover, a cheat of an ending, and a hamfisted message about tolerance, acceptance, yatta, yatta, yatta), but it’s clear the movie was a labor of love. There are plenty of creative shots, surprisingly great casting, and an unwillingness to make the film something it isn’t in order to satisfy more commercial audiences. According to the grapevine, the subject matter of Sonny Boy was so disturbing, theaters pulled it from showings within days of its release. I don’t buy that because the film simply isn’t that disturbing. I think the real reason it was pulled is couldn’t have been a crowd-pleaser in 1989, which seems to be the year moviegoers began demanding more of a film’s budget than the content itself.
Mere minutes into Sonny Boy, I was reminded of a type of film I haven’t thought about in a long time. Growing up in the late eighties and nineties, there was no shortage of small, “quiet” films on HBO and Cinemax, films I’d never heard of before they simply came on one day and unexpectedly hooked me. I honestly don’t know how to explain these types of movies, and I’m sure the TV programmers only acquired them for filler content, but they were kind of like the younger, unknown siblings to “slice of life” films like Something Wild. In other words, they were smaller versions of mainstream movies when movies had more in common with novels than video games.
Ultimately, that’s what’s most satisfying about Sonny Boy: its unexpected restraint. I probably would have liked it just as much if “the joke” was that you get to see the star of Kung Fu in a dress, but amazingly, it doesn’t go there. Sure, there are people who get thoroughly blown up by artillery shells, but if you’re looking for a raunchy exploitation film to show a drunk and rowdy crowd, Sonny Boy isn’t the one. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth a watch on a hungover Sunday morning, though.
No, Django doesn’t merely have clichés, but employs them to leverage the action forward. Director Sergio Corbucci is well aware his audience already knows everything we need to know about saloons, hookers, and bandits, so there’s no time wasted on introductions. Besides, the character himself is a consolidation of only the finest elements that gave the clichés staying power in the first place.
The Visitor opens on a plane of unreality in which a force of good (John Huston) comes face to face with a force of evil. When the evil flings off its sacramental robe, it reveals it has taken the form of a little girl. Cut to a different plane of existence: Franco Nero, in Christ-like garb, tells a group of bald disciples the mystical backstory concerning these forces. I’ll be damned if my eyes didn’t glaze over at this long, dull explanation, which is probably why I had so much trouble following the rest of the movie.
A lot of these tips aren’t necessarily hidden, just kind of unclear at the get-go, so I’m aiming this at players who just got the game. I’m 16 hours into the game, so I’ll probably be adding tips as I play a little more. Also, a lot of this stuff is subject to change with future patches and updates.
First of all, you can run the game at 60fps, but it totally breaks the game physics. According to Reddit user Dynasty2201: “You run faster and lockpicking becomes impossible.” Look, 60fps would be nice (and its exclusion is fucking ridiculous, to be honest), but is it really worth breaking the game?
To auto-walk or auto-run, press X on the keyboard.
Most people are aware Caps Lock toggles between run and walk, but it also toggles between a slow sneak and a super slow sneak. I was having some trouble sneaking by a group of mutants until I realized this.
Radiation matters more than ever now as it lowers your maximum HP. This means Rad-X and Rad-Away are a lot more important than in previous games. Short of paying a doctor 40 caps, Rad-Away is, as far as I know, the only way to remove radiation sickness.
Early on, you’ll probably need concrete for Sanctuary quests. I wasted several minutes looking for it until I realized you can “scrap” various things in the settlement (including cars, collapsed houses, fences, and mailboxes) by pressing V on the keyboard to go into Workshop Mode. You will see the option at the bottom of the Workshop menu, which is activated by pressing R while facing (highlighting) whatever you wish to scrap.
Throwing grenades is way more confusing than it should be for PC players. I understand console players have limited buttons, but assigning it to the same key that performs a melee strike is probably the dumbest thing about Fallout 4’s controls. You can reassign the key all you want, but you can’t split the functions up between two keys. This means whenever you try to pistol whip someone, it’s all to easy to toss a molotov instead, setting your enemy as well as yourself on fire. I have a feeling this will be fixed in a future update, but not soon. Anyway, if you want to melee, don’t hold the key down. If you want to throw a grenade, make sure you’ve equipped the grenade and hold the key down until you hear a click.
The Sort option at the bottom of your Pip-Boy’s Inventory menu is your new best friend. To the right of “Sort” you’ll see parentheses which shows what you’re currently sorting by, such as value, weight, and damage.
When bartering, you can highlight your own inventory or the trader’s inventory, then press right or left on the arrow keys to sort by weapons, ammo, junk, etc. Speaking of junk…
In most games you can safely sell or ignore junk. In Fallout 4 it’s a lot more important for construction. This makes deciding what to take and what to drop a little more overwhelming, but having a companion carry some of the load makes it a little easier.
I just spent a little over five hours in FO4. I apologize for the lack of action shots, but hey, at least there won’t be any major spoilers. Here’s what my sleep-deprived brain thinks so far…
The character editor is a little wonky.
Update: Having seen some of the character creations players have posted this morning, I’m convinced my brain broke during this part of the game… maybe I just didn’t entirely understand how the controls worked. What I originally wrote is as follows:
I had some trouble adjusting features exactly as I wanted and I was a little disappointed in the range. After spending around twenty minutes in the editor, my character’s facial features barely looked any different than the stock facial type I chose when I began. You get another chance to change your look before you leave the vault, but I have a feeling I’m stuck with what I’ve created. Which is kind of a bummer. I want my character’s look to grow as she does. (I thought it was cool to give her gray hair after coming out of the cryos.)
Update: Apparently there’s a barber in Diamond City. He can change your hair, but it doesn’t look like you can change any other features elsewhere in the game. I’d personally like to add wrinkles and scars as the game progresses. They should patch in a tattoo parlor for superficial stuff like that.
The prologue is short and sweet.
I was eager to get into the wasteland as soon as possible. No birthdays, no ink blot tests, no bullshit. There’s around twenty minutes between the opening credits and leaving the vault. It’s just not as plodding as previous FO games, which will make replays a little less painful.
The main objective, so far, is kind of a downer.
I had the same complaint about Dead Rising 2: when I play an open world game, I don’t want too much responsibility. With an objective like “find your kidnapped baby boy,” it’s hard to believe your character would be enticed by relatively pointless side quests like “build a chair.” If you play games purely for the challenge rather than the roleplay, you probably won’t be bothered by this at all. Those of you who like to submerse yourselves into the character, on the other hand, might feel pressured into rushing the main quests. I just wish the plot was a little bit lighter so that I could go screaming into the wasteland like a maniac from Mad Max.
Companions are kind of annoying, but helpful… usually.
I really dislike the dog (so far) because it has an annoying tendency to place itself in my line of fire. Codsworth is good for carrying loot when you get encumbered, but his lights and inexplicable disappearing acts get annoying. So far I’ve had trouble getting him to follow my commands. He often says, “I’m afraid that isn’t possible,” even when it’s perfectly clear he should have no problem at all. Having said that, I usually hate companions in games and FO4’s friendly AI can be pretty impressive at times.
The graphics and gameplay are smooth on day one.
I’m running my graphics on ultra with an Intel Core i5-4690k, 16 gigs of RAM, and a GTX 970. The first ten minutes of gameplay felt a little choppy for some reason, but after leaving the vault I haven’t had many, if any, complaints. It’s sad I feel the need to commend a game for simply working, but that’s the state of the video games industry, I guess. Nonetheless, this feels a lot smoother than New Vegas and part 3.
It’s kind of easy to get stuck.
Be careful when walking or jumping between walls and objects like cars because you might end up having to reload a previous save. So far, though, it’s not nearly as sticky as a Grand Theft Auto game.
The controls are kind of annoying.
If you want to exit your Pip-Boy, you have to press Tab. If you want to exit a work station, you have to press Tab and then Esc. It’s just the tiniest bit frustrating that Esc will exit some menus, but bring up the pause screen in others. You’ll see what I mean when you play it.
It doesn’t do anything new.
That’s not a complaint. This feels like a Fallout game turned up to 11, which is probably what we all wanted. It’s already a lot more polished than New Vegas and a helluva lot more exciting. We’ve got a good contender for game of the year here. It’s not as smooth as The Witcher 3 yet and some of the additions like crafting and power armor and the new perk system might become intimidating to more casual players, but so far I’m having a blast.
It’s going to be hard going to bed tonight. Hell, it ‘s going to be hard going to bed for many nights to come.
I’m guessing Cox and McNeill’s characters weren’t part of the original He-Man mythos. They feel like an afterthought, added by misguided screenwriting logic: “We should give audience members someone they can relate to!” The film wastes so much time on these sickeningly white bread teenagers it’s a cheat to everyone who came to see swords, sorcery, and cheesy action. If, like me, you thought Masters of the Universe was going to be set almost entirely in a fantastical world like Flash Gordon, you’re going to be disappointed anyway.
Masters of the Universe desperately wants to be the next Star Wars film, and although Bill Conti’s music and most of the camerawork are pretty good, you tend to realize you’re watching the first take of many scenes. In one action sequence, He-Man is heroically holding off the bad guys as his friends flee through a doorway. Meanwhile the door itself, which is supposed to be propped against a wall, keeps falling and distracting Lundgren from his acting. Later, when being lashed by one of Skeletor’s henchmen, Lundgren’s reactions to the whip are hilariously out of sync. Early on there’s a big panoramic showing Skeletor’s army of bad guys marching prisoners of war across a battlefield. One of the bad guy extras trips front and center and has trouble standing back up. You’ll hear echoes of Johnny Depp’s Ed Wood enthusiastically yelling, “Cut! Print!”
Which isn’t to say this is a cheap movie. Despite the flaws, Masters of the Universe just isn’t bad enough to warrant a midnight movie-going audience. And despite some wonderful costume creations, it isn’t good enough for adults, either, partly because the villains’ inability to kill anyone plays out at the expense of suspense. The film looks pretty damn good in HD and roughly half of the special FX are kind of impressive, but Frank Langella’s skull makeup restricts his performance rather than enhancing it.
Midnight Movie Monday begins November 9th.
UPDATE: So yeah, as of November 27th, 2015, this feature is going to be on Fridays. Just makes more sense.
ANOTHER FUCKIN’ UPDATE: So yeah again… as of January 2016, I’m, uh, kind of not doing this weekly at the moment. Too many 2015 movies to catch up on.
Like I said a couple days ago, I’m planning a weekly feature which resembles 31 Days of Gore, but it’ll be a lot broader in terms of genre choices. Considering I just did well over thirty horror movies in a row, I’ll probably focus on action, science fiction, and fantasy for a while. I won’t be reviewing new movies for Midnight Movies (a title which is subject to change, by the way), and I’ll either choose terrible movies or exploitation films (or both) for this new feature.
Any movie I want to talk about which doesn’t fit my idea of a midnight movie will appear no differently than movie reviews often appeared on this site in the past… in other words: sporadically. So if it’s a new release in theaters or on VOD, it will not be featured in Midnight Movies.
Although it’s not written in stone, here’s my current criteria for Midnight Movies:
- Movies that never quite made the leap from VHS to DVD (such as Sonny Boy)
- Movies I haven’t seen since I was a kid (such as Masters of the Universe)
- Movies with high exploitation values (such as Malibu Express)
- Movies that are unimaginably awful (such as the Anna Nicole Smith vehicle, Skyscraper)
- Movies oozing pure, unadulterated cheese… my favorite flavor