BENNETT INVENTORY : Thrice Upon a Time

Oh, yeah, the "threequel." Who needs 'em, amiright? What, there's more story left to tell? Can you prove it? You think our standards are so low that we'll just eat the brand name? Why do you require so much of my time?

You ever ask these questions? You should. Howard Beale woulda wanted you to. It'd probably be good for you - not like an "all the time" thing, just in moderation. I still haven't seen the third Matrix or Lord of the Rings movies and I wake up every morning with clear sinuses and little-to-no stiffness in my neck and shoulders.

The saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, Tokyo Drift."
We got a buncha fav threes here: Die Hard 3, Batman 3, Star Wars 3, Night of the Living Dead 3, The Amigos 3. The internet has already told us how much we love Ghostbusters 3, so we're already ahead of the game.

How 'bout them thirds that use money to replace the boring, cheap stuff of their predecessors: Army of Darkness, Beyond Thunderdome, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Debbie Does Dallas: The Final Chapter.

You always compare them to the original or the second one (or in many cases, the fourth, the fifth, to infinity and beyond), so they'll always be in the shadows, acting forced and barely functional.

I know what you're thinking: "Toxic masculinity is a strain on our culture." But we're talking movies here - particularly Part 3s, and you need to pay attention because there's a list coming.

There have been a few that have been more competent, more vile, more musical, more different, more better. Or, less superfluous, less transparent, less intrusive, less Ewoks.

I wouldn't apply any asinine, presumptuous 'blog list' words or phrases like "underrated" or "reconsider these" - but here's a bowlful of Threes for you & me that tend to get overlooked by the census bureau (and sometimes that's a good thing).

Watch them or don't. At least now you'll know. Stay woke.

- Paul

Disappointed with the not-too-subtle satire of Part 2 but you like the added production value? Leatherface may be the installment for you. All comparisons aside, I'm not shy about my feeling that, on its own, it's one of the best Hicksploitation flicks around.
The role of the demented Sawyer brother (originated by Edwin Neal) doesn't leave a lotta room for interpretation, but it certainly doesn't require any restraint - and they've only ever cast the perfect guy for the role (Bill Moseley, McConaughey). Following suit, Viggo Mortensen brings a quieter menace to his version, which only adds to the standout qualities of this installment. B+

Dark tones mixed with lite comedy - John Landis is the man for the job... Except this ain't 1980s John Landis, folks, and we're left with a bit of a farce here. The cocaine/titty bar aesthetic of the first two is literally replaced with a Disney-like theme park - and that very intentional irony wears off really fast.
The Faltermeyer theme has been reworked into a more traditional 'movie score' that sounds like a computer game from 1991. The stunts are replaced with slapstick. There's a fully choreographed song & dance number to a Supremes song 5 minutes into the film. This is 90s John Landis. And you know what? I guess it's alright. Eddie's funnier than he'd been in a while, and the plot is about as much fun as a good coloring book. Had it been called something else with no relationship to any other movie, we might've had a winner. B

You know me: I love some suburban paranormal activity, but I love it more when the monster hits the town.
Carol Anne is living with her aunt & uncle in a Chicago skyscraper apartment, which serves as a gothic, towering beehive of the zombies and ghosts that follow her everywhere. The movie's famous for two things: not being as good as the original, and its bodacious practical FX - literally done largely with smoke and mirrors. The elegant, upscale settings deny the movie of any color - or a cohesive story, which, those two elements together make for one creepy-weird good time. B

I'm hard-pressed to think of another franchise in which the tone and quality remains this consistent - which is a surprise considering the talent went south with immediate followups like Wrongfully Accused, Mafia!, et. al. Fred Ward and Kathleen Freeman are always a godsend, and Anna Nicole is lovely, but this movie has a few of the strongest and funniest bits in the whole series: the sperm bank, the 'great escape' -- but the silliest and most ambitious sequence is the Academy Awards Show climax that erupts into an orgasm of choreographed slapstick and hijinks that the Stooges only ever dreamed of having enough time & money for. B+

Remove the Strasberg-style improv, the guerrilla-style production, the soul-crushing sense of dread, and you've got Book of Shadows. Now, try to reintegrate these elements into a corpse long-dead, and it smells not too good.
We saw this in a theater packed with kids who were amped up for whatever-the-fuck movie you could've thrown at them (think of the Bride of the Monster premiere in Ed Wood); they screamed, they laughed, they cheered, they shouted things at the movie, they were completely taken with the jump scares and spooky trees and whatever else happened in this lemon. I've not seen it since, because their joy became ours for that single viewing, and without them, I'm afraid we have nothing more to talk about. D+

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