Thursday, October 23, 2008

pulse (1988)...

I found another reference to Negative Pleasure, this time over at Moonstone Comics, a great site that has been posting some amazing Elvira memorabilia for Halloween this year. Blogger Jamdin has even been posting some stories and covers from the DC's attempted revival of "House of Mystery," the aptly titled "Elvira's House of Mystery." I love Elvira. I dunno, all camp and cleavage aside, I think she's actually really funny...

Anyway, I'm trying to get back to the film reviews. I mean, I write those, right? I don't even know anymore, man. Actually, I've been on a pretty good run of seeing films I've mostly pretty much liked, and a few I've really actually liked, not all great wonderful masterpieces of transcendental cinema art, but still some decent flicks. "Pulse," for instance, is an alright albeit very lightweight kiddie horror flick from the late 1980s (it's also an unrelated but kind of amazing and socially relevant Japanese film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and an almost entirely irrelevant American remake of that Japanese film starring Kristen Bell from "Veronica Mars," who will never love me, Samm Levine from "Freaks & Geeks" and Rick Gonzalez from "Reaper," neither of whom will probably ever love me either, although I think I might be friends with Levine on Myspace. Excitement.).

Anyway, the 1988 "Pulse" is written and directed by Paul Golding, who had worked on "Medium Cool" (great film) and wrote the better-than-you-think-it-is "Beat Street" (according to imdb, he also made a short film with George Lucas in college). It has a fairly nonsensical plot about lightning striking a power station in the desert and turning the electricity in some suburban (Arizona? California?) house malevolent, because lightning can do shit like that (just ask the Flash). After the crazy lightning demons makes the homeowner go insane and kill his wife, then kills him, or he kills himself, or something, it moves across the street to the home of Cliff De Young (underrated actor from "Shock Treatment" and "the Hunger," also former singer of the band Clear Light) and Roxanne Hart ("the Verdict"), just in time for De Young's son Joey Lawrence (hot off the series "Gimme a Break" and on his way towards "Blossom") come visit for the summer (Joey's brother Matthew plays an across the street neighbor who looks inexplicably like Joey, and is kind of a slightly better actor).

So, yeah, the horror in this one mostly amounts to the TV turning itself on and off and some stuff catching on fire. Really, this movie doesn't have much of a plot, but it's stylishly mounted. Particularly of interest are the macro-photographed circuit details. We see the insides of the technology on various appliances in the family's ultra-modern (yet very beige) home, with little diodes melting into liquid metal and reforming in new shapes. It's just pretty cool, visually. The film looks good in general (the cinematography is by Peter Lyons Collister, who also shot "Halloween 4" [which I like, and which also looks really good] but also shot "He's My Girl," "Dunston Checks In," "Beautician and the Beast" and "Garfield- a Tale of Two Kitties," yow!) with the technocentric aspects of the plot intermingling with very earthen hued, subdued tones (again, lots of beige, which if you remember the 1980s, is not off point).

A strong visual sensibility is the primary reason to check this one out, and the decent pre-digital special effects, which have texture, dammit (CGI doesn't). But everything else is pretty lame. Joey Lawrence is terrible even for a kid actor, there's never any sense of being a real kid coming from his performance, he's obviously just a movie kid. De Young and Hart are good, although she is underused. I don't think this made it to theatres, or if it did, it wasn't widely released or promoted, because this is totally the kind of movie little 10 or 11 year old me and my dad would have gone to see circa 1988. Also, isn't 1988 a little late/early for a movie about the horrors of technology? I mean, you don't really see a home computer in this one, so it's not about the digitization of everyday life. Characters talk about a microwave oven but it's not really about the dangers of radiation. This is like basically an anti-electricity movie, like watch out for having cable TV and electric lights because they might go crazy some day and try to shock you? That's the problem with not really defining your terms. It can work if your threat is really threatening, like some kind of crazy unstoppable force, but in this film catastrophe is easily averted by just like basically going outside. Also, "Pulse" is kind of anti-water, because water conducts electricity, so it's on "their" side, not "ours." Maybe Golding lives in a shack in the woods or something. For me it wasn't relevant, although I also enjoyed the brief turn by Robert Romanus, who played Damone in "Fast Times at Ridgement High." Almost everything I know about sex, to this day, I learned from watching "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Up next, in hopefully far better written reviews than this one, the decent recent horror-comedies "Drive Thru" and "Reeker," plus a couple of low budget winners, Ray Dennis Steckler's "Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher" and the surprisingly excellent "the Deadly Spawn," plus more issues of "Twisted Tales" and other indie horror comics from the 1980s. Until then, stay spooky...

No comments: