Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Vineyard

(1989) **



Well I’m off to a rather dodgy start this year. (Am I allowed to say “dodgy” or does one have to be British to use that term?) In any case I was wholly unprepared for Horrorthon IX (Holy crap, 9th year!), and as punishment I scrambled at the last second and selected this oddity. James Hong directed and stars in this surprisingly-tolerable-for-such-a-bad horror movie.

Who is James Hong, you ask? Why he is that amiable actor you have seen in countless movies as the token Chinese guy, yet whose name you can never seem to recall. The reason he is in everything is because he can play any Chinese stereotype effortlessly. Judge for yourself, this guy can do it all:


James Hong also did voice-overs in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956), and I'm pretty sure he was on Seinfeld. In case you are wondering, he is happily still alive today. 
In The Vineyard Hong plays a spiritual winemaker guru who stumbles upon the key to immortality. By using the blood of healthy young scantily clad prisoners chained up in his basement, he is able to prolong his own silly life. I'm not sure exactly how it all works but from what I gathered it involves ancient Chinese wisdom, made-up stuff, voodoo spells and a healthy dose of nonsensical mumbo jumbo.

I refuse to go into further detail. To be frank, this movie is so baffling it could only have come from 1989. Everything about it is just plain wrong. It's not particularly scary, gross or funny. I enjoyed Hong as the villain but I strongly disliked almost everything else, especially protagonist Jeremy, who tried too hard to be charmingly awkward (picture a poor imitation of Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent). It is a bizarre and completely over the top film, and yet I still can't in good conscience recommend it even to stoners who love everything or so-bad-it's-good horror aficionados. On the plus side I'm on the board now and I think I just just decided on a theme for this year - the year 1989!

10 comments:

Catfreeek said...

Welcome to feast! He most certainly was on Seinfeld. Sometimes these great supporting character actors just don't hold up in the lead role, maybe that's the issue.

JPX said...

He was on Seinfeld as the waiter at the Chinese restaurant who would never seat the gang! That montage of his greatest hits is hilarious, JSP, as is the AWFUL poster (he just looks like a tired zombie). I hope your next effort yields you better results!

Landshark said...

That James Hong retrospective alone captures everything that is great about Horrorthon. Excellent and hilarious review!

DCD said...

There have been a couple of duds to start out this year, haven't there? Although they definitely yield the funniest reviews!

Crystal Math said...

1989 sounds like a promising "theme," it sure as hell shows you know your horror! Nine years? Crazy.

Octopunk said...

If you count the JPX vs Johnny bouts this is like the 14th one, if you count the one pre-blog contest with more than 2 people in it (i.e. me too) this is the 10th, but the blog was started in 2005. There are some 2004 reviews but those are back-dated (I had aspirations to include all the movies reviews the three of us emailed to each other but I lost steam).

Anyway, excellent review! Love the Hong collage, did you make it or find it?

I applaud your effort to explore 1989 but I think there will be much hurting. "Freddy sporting shades" was a 1988 joint.

50PageMcGee said...

i know you were probably trying to make it symmetrical, but i feel that you could have included a picture of james hong as lo pan in big trouble in little china. "supernatural chinese man".

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I made the collage, and had fun doing so. I could have added about 50 more pictures (including Big Trouble in Little China) of his various expressions but felt pressure to get my first review up!

AC said...

best theme ever.

would big trouble in little china count for horrorthon? it does have horror elements, and mr. ac and i would welcome any excuse to watch it again.

JPX said...

Hmmm, I think Big Trouble is a comedy - stick with SAW, AC!