Idle Hands (1999) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Idle Hands (1999)


Film: Many years ago I had this film on DVD, but as can one when one has a big collection of anything, things go missing, and this was one of the films (along with David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ) that has disappeared. I probably leant them both to the same person and never received them back.

If you have my copy of eXistenZ, whoever you are, I want it back! You can keep the copy of Idle Hands as I now have this whiz-bang bluray copy released by Umbrella Entertainment.

This film was written by Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes and directed by Rodman Flender, who, considering how good this is, hasn’t really done anything like this again, though he is quite a prolific TV director.

Idle Hands tells of Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa) the ultimate slacker who spends his days smoking dope, watching MTV (and the hot girl down the street, Molly, played by Jessica Alba) and mooching off his parents, but Anton discovers what can happen when you spend too long idle.


Anton’s hand has become possessed and has turned him into a murderer, two of his victims being his best friends Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson) who return from the grave and decide to help him rid himself of his devil issue.

The first thing they do is suggest he visit local metalhead, Randy (Jack Noseworthy) who being a metalhead, you know, is obviously a devil worshipper to try and find a way to exorcise it. He suggests he keep his hands busy because as the saying goes, idle hands are the devil’s playground, but will it work or will Debbie (Vivica A. Fox), a woman from a sacred order sworn to destroy possessed hands, kill him?

The cast are a massive piece of how well this film plays, even though it is dated as hell. Alba is great as the rebel girl love interest, Henson and Green are just a wonderful comedy team and I wish they had done more together, Noseworthy reprises his ‘bully metalhead character’ he’s done several times and does so well and Sawa holds it all together brilliantly.

There is some absolutely prime bits of comedy from Sawa in this: not only is his ‘devil’ hand performed brilliantly, he also manages to squeeze out some sublime, almost unnoticeable bits of comedy that once you see, are just brilliant. A particular favourite of mine is the disgust on his face when he is woken by a particular song on his clock radio, but when he puts his Walkman on, the same song is playing and an expression of satisfaction washes over his face.

Speaking of music, 90s music fans take note: The Offspring appear at the school dance in this film so if you like them, you’ll get to hear a few tracks, and even better, if you DON’T like them… well, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.


Idle Hands is a fun and funny film, with some great jokes!

Score: ****


Format: This Australian region B bluray of Idle Hands runs for approximately 92 minutes and is presented in a spectacularly sharp 1.85:1 image with a matching DTS-HD 5.1 audio track. The extras, however, are not as sharp.

Score: ****

Extras: A nice bunch of extras on this disc:

A director and cast commentary starring Rodman Flender, Seth Green and Elden Hensen. It’s a pretty entertaining commentary as the three of them are quite funny.

Deleted scene is just as the title suggests, a deleted scene, but it’s introduced and explained by the director and features the demise of the villain of the film. The ending in the film is far better.

Making of Featurette is a 6 minute mini about the making of the film… don’t expect and involved explanation on how to make a film’ it’s essentially a trailer with some behind the scenes stuff and a few interviews.

Theatrical Trailer, is just that, the trailer for the film.

Storyboard Comparisons feature split screen views of the film showing the storyboard sketches in one panel and the actually film in the other. I find these things interesting so I enjoyed this part of the special features.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s VERY 90s, but really funny and I’m glad to own it again.

Easter Review: Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993) 

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you are enjoying your eggs and get to spend some time with the ones you love. The guy from THIS particular film wanted to do that very thing, but got more than he bargained for…
‘Tis the day of resurrection, and so here is one from the re watch pile…

Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)


Film: The first Return of the Living Dead film was a revelation to me when I saw it at Village Cinemas Sylvania when I was a teen. It was probably one of the first dates I ever took a girl on, and she never went out with me ever again.

Sorry Kylie.

Everything that was achieved in the film was amazing: art design, soundtrack, the cast… it felt like, to this little Australian suburban kid, what the American punk experience would be like, and then you throw something like zombies into the mix: astounding!

A few years later the sequel came out, and I was a slightly older teen then, but could immediately recognise that the new filmmakers hadn’t necessarily realised what made the first film what it was and filled the sequel with a real generic group of victims and they amped the dumb comedy up as they possibly didn’t have the skill Dan O’Bannon had with delivering the subtleties of black comedy.

By the time I had heard a third was coming out I was rolling my eyes, wondering how crap it could be… then I saw female lead Mindy Clarke on the cover of Fangoria and I though immediately,’ I gotta see this’. Looking like the daughter of a mating between Pinhead from Hellraiser and Trash from the first Return of the Living Dead, the contrast between the actress’ beauty and her ‘body modification gone bad’ appearance stunned me, and put this film in my headlights!


Whereas the first sequel had gone for laughs, this sequel written by John Penney (The Kindred) and directed by Brian Yuzna (Beyond Reanimator, Society), I had a pretty good idea that this movie was gonna be a trip.

Onto the film…

Julie (Mindy, now Melinda, Clarke) is desperate to see what goes on in her boyfriend Curt’s (J. Trevor Edmond) father, Colonel Reynolds’ military research facility. Curt, due to… well him being a teen and Julie being smoking hot… steals his father’s security card and sneaks in to find out what is going on.


What IS going on is that Colonel Reynolds is a part of a team who are trying to use 2-4-5 Trioxin, a chemical originally created to destroy marijuana but had the awful side effect of bringing the dead back to life, to try and create an army of controllable undead ‘bio-units’ to use in war instead of living soldiers.

They witness one of the experiments, and Julie becomes entranced by the idea of the Living Dead, hungry for brains.

Unfortunately, Curt and Julie have an accident and Curt decides to take Julie’s corpse to the lab to revive her, not knowing, or not caring, that she’ll become a zombie.

Of course she does become one, but finds that through self-mutilation she can control the urges up to a point… but how can a relationship work when one of the members is a reanimated corpse? Especially when you’ve upset the local gang… and maybe have bitten one of them…

This film is a blast; director Brian Yuzna isn’t the greatest director who ever lived, but what he lacks in talent he makes up for in enthusiasm and his ability to assemble a cast who can deliver a crazy story convincingly. Also, his lack of restraint when it comes to special effects is also something to be admired!

Black humour is one of those things than can easily not work, and the best thing they could of done with this story was keep it as the tragedy it was set up to be, which they did, and the whole tale works perfectly. Using some of the ideas proposed in the other two films, that is: being dead hurts, makes for a pretty interesting journey our heroes go on.

It’s atypical of most zombie films as there are actually few zombies! There’s no gigantic pandemic, no masses of the undead, just a couple of people in love making bad decisions… it even at times riffs on Frankenstein with its creator/ monster relationship. 

I do enjoy every second of it and recommend it to fans of the zombie genre.

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was performed on a region 1, USA release DVD which is about 10 years old. The film runs approximately 96 minutes with a not very sharp 16×9 image but with an OK Dolby 2.0 audio track.

Score: **

Extras: Surprisingly, this disc has three extras on it. There are two commentaries, one with director Brian Yuzna where he muses on the creation of the film and his cast and crew, and the other with actor Mindy Clarke, and second unit director Tom Rainone. Both are interesting, and it’s even more fascinating to hear about the making of a film from employer and employees.

There is also trailers for this film, and other Yuzna directed films Progeny, The Dentist, The Dentist 2 and Faust.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I really like this film and honestly, probably haven’t seen it enough! It’s time it returned to a higher rotation!

Copycat (1995) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Copycat (1995)

The Australian DVD of Copycat


Film: There was a period in the 90s where it felt like horror was maybe-not dead, but starting to smell a little. Even Fangoria was sticking blockbuster films on its covers! In the post Silence of the Lambs world though, a few thrillers popped out that surprised me with their level of entertainment, this, Copycat, being one of them.

(Yes, the irony of after a film like Silence of the Lambs that a similar film called Copycat would be released is not lost on me)

Copycat: Sigourney Weaver


Copycat tells of agoraphobic abnormal psychologist, who specialises in serial killers, Dr Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) who has become this way due to being captured and tortured by a killer named Daryll Lee Cullum (Harry Connick Jr.) who was apprehended soon afterwards.

Thirteen months later a new serial killer has started a reign of terror in town, and investigating officers Monahan (Holly Hunter) and Goetz (Dermot Mulroney) are stumped, but when Helen starts calling them offering them advice, she ends up involved… but perhaps she was already involved… perhaps the killer is working on her involvement, and maybe it involves Cullum…


Now it’s not the greatest thriller in the world, and the technology in it is laughably dated, and not yet kitsch enough to be cool, but solid performances by the leads, particularly Hunter and Weaver, both of whom I been a fan of for years. There are some other actors who pop up in this as well who add to the acting quality of the film: Terror at the Opera’s William McNamara, The Punisher’s Will Patton and Pollock’s John Rothman.

Interestingly though I am drawn to it, and it remains a film that I return to quite regularly, even though it’s not so great. I think it’s because it is easy to watch, and the story, whilst a little generic, does have a few surprises that drive the female leads on, though the motivation of Hunter’s character is more alluded to than confirmed. 
Maybe that’s when the appeal lies, in the fact that it’s like comfort food: easy to consume but not necessarily a proper meal.

Score: **1/2

Menu screen for the DVD of Copycat


Format: This film was reviewed on an (admittedly) older Australian, region 4 DVD version of the film which runs for just shy of 1 hour and 59 minutes. The video, present in 2.35:1, was of a below average quality but I imagine the age of the DVD may have something to do with that. The audio was presented in a functional Dolby 2.0.

Score: ***1/3

Extras: Only a few extras on this disc. The first is a ‘cat and crew’ text piece that looks like you are able to see the credits of a bunch of cast and crew, but when you go to select them, only Weaver, Hunter, Connick Jr. and Amiel are available! It seems weird to me to list everyone, especially when you consider Mulroney, McNamara, Rothman and Patton’s many and varied careers!!

There is also a commentary by Amiel that is accessible by the ‘languages’ option on the menu. It’s a fascinating commentary that explores filmmaking and serial killers, and really explores how important the score is to a successfully creating mood and tension.

Score: **

WISIA: I actually really like this movie, even though the story is little more than an extended episode of a police procedural TV show, and not necessarily a great episode either. I think it’s due to the quality of performance by all the actors in it. Whatever it is, I do seem to watch it once a year.

Copycat: Harry Connick Jr. as Callum and a future unfortunate cop

Arcade (1993) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Arcade (1993)

The cover of 88 Films Arcade


Film: The 90s were a pretty dire time for this horror fan, and as an 80s horror fan, that may have been partially my fault. It the 80s we had become accustomed to every film becoming a franchise: Freddy, Jason, Michael…. even Full Moon Pictures, who produced this film Arcade, had their franchises with the Puppet Master and Subspecies films. By the time the 90s hit, horror was just potential series starting and failing; I’m looking at you, Brainscan and Doctor Giggles.

Those few early years of the 90s just were terrible, and even Fangoria knew that there was something gumming up horror’s plumbing as some of the articles, and covers of this period included mainstream films like Jurassic Park and Batman Returns!

Thankfully due to fresh blood like The Blair Witch Project (not a film I like but I appreciate what it did for the genre) and revamped old blood like Wes Craven’s with his successfully, cynical and self-aware Scream films, horror survived and didn’t go the way of the western or the musical, a topic discussed occasionally at the time.

Arcade is one of the not so successful attempts at franchise creation, but it does stand out as having, for its day, some pretty incredible computer effects not done by a big Hollywood company like ILM.

Arcade: Megan Ward and Peter Billingsley


Onto the story: Alex (Megan Ward) has had a rough year. First her mother committed suicide, and then her Dad, well, he should be committed. To make matters worse, her friends are a bunch of 90210-styled buttholes (amongst them, Seth Green, who still looks exactly the same as he does now). 

Dante’s Inferno is a club/ video game arcade that they hang out in, and some of them are quite excited to try a brand new virtual reality game called ‘Arcade’ which is introduced to them by a video game executive from Vertigo Tronics called Difford (John De Lancie), but there is something not quite right about the game.

The games antagonist, Arcade, can bring people into the game peemanentky, and manipulate reality to his own ends…

So I’ll get a few of the bad points out of the way first. The characters are the most facile, awful bunch of turds I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing. Seriously, they are like the worst of each of the jerk characters from the Nightmare On Elm Street series all put together in one film, and they grate on every single nerve you have. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if any of them could act, but there were less wooden performances in 18th century puppet shows.

Next is the character of ‘Arcade’ itself. Remember how the killer from Bad Dreams was like a poor man’s Freddy, and then the bad guy from Brainscan was like an even cheaper version of him? Well Arcade is an even cheaper version of him, but they spent a fortune on now-archaic special effects to realise him. He’s (it’s?) a taunting smartarse just like the rest of the group, so I am surprised he wants to kill them, and not just join their gang of butt-plugs.

Next, it’s Albert Pyun’s direction. Normally I like his direction, and count The Sword and the Sorcerer as one of my favourite fantasy films, but here it meanders along with the adore mentioned sub-par acting and clunky dialogue.

Arcade: Megan Ward and Peter Billingsley


Which brings us to the final issue. The packaging for this disc from 88 Films proudly announces ‘from the writer of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel’. The person they refer to is David S. Goyer, who didn’t just write THOSE two films, but also two of the best Call of Dutys (in Black Ops 1 and 2), and the Blade films, and the weird scifi film Dark City. This is not a careers highlight, and it’s not necessarily that the idea is bad, because it was great when it was a film called ‘Tron’, it’s just poorly executed, which possible circles back to the acting and direction.

It’s a circle of suck.

On the plus side, the computer effects, considering their time, are a fun look at where we were in computer graphics was at this time.

I must say though that my favourite bit is when the surviving kids meet the game programmer, who doesn’t look like a cool, hippy-nerd in a superhero shirt, but instead is a 40-something, porno-moustached nerd in a labcoat and spectacles.

As a weird aside, one thing I did find interesting was I kept getting reminded of the film Pulse that starred Kristin Bell and Ian Somerhalder, which in itself was a remake of the Japanese film of the same name from 2001. It was probably just me, but I just felt a few suggestions made by the film made me think of that one.
Unfortunately those couple of musing things didn’t make up for the rest of the film, and I kid you not, every 20 minutes feels like an hour. Don’t bother.

Score: *

88 Films Arcade title screen


Format: The reviewed copy of the film was the UK’s 88 Films region free DVD release. This film ran for approximately 85 minutes, and was presented in an average 1.33:1 video with a decent digital 2.0 audio

Score: **1/2

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this disc, but not a great deal. First we have a ‘making of’ in the form of ‘Videozone’ which Full Moon Pictures used to put on VHS tapes at the end of the feature. This one’s pretty good as it has an early look at how what we now call CGI is created for the film.

There is also a trailer for Arcade, and an 88 Films Trailer Park featuring trailers for The Corpse Grinders, Two Moon Junction, Blood Orgy of the She Devils, Hideous, Girl in Gold Boots, Robot Wars, Dollman, The Doll Squad, Castle Freak and Slice N Dice.

Score: **1/2

WISIA: I am never, ever, ever, ever, ever going to watch this ever again.