NOPE: Easily One of the BEST of 2022!!

I’m not gonna waste too much time reviewing the hell out of ‘Nope’ because I know that it’s soooooo 2 weeks ago! But being as finicky as I am about new new Hollywood  summer blockbuster movies I’ve got to take at least a moment here to tell you how fucking much I enjoyed the new Jordan peel movie!

I went into this one with no real expectations except that I might get another tale covering ssome sort of allegory about race or modern culture.  However with the modern “culture war” and basically the world at each other’s throats, falling apart I’ll have to be quite honest, I really wasn’t in the mood to think more about real world injustices or real life human struggles as I entered the theater. 

Thankfully Jordan Peele decided to give us a mysterious compelling monster movie  with no real strings attached but with plenty of layers to peel and dissect. Nope will leave you pondering all of the unique plot points sprinkled about for days. Our duo of well crafted main characters are black ranchers and he doesn’t need to make some sort of big statement about it. They’re just great characters who happen to be black. It also features some very curious and intriguing supporting characters one being a fairly convincing CGI chimpanzee that almost steals the show!

Nope really harkens back to the golden era of Stephen Spielberg movies in the best way possible  But adding a much more sinister, brooding touch. After trying to make it through his rebooted Twilight Zone series I was beginning to have my doubts about his next film as I wasn’t a big fan of ‘Us’ , that being said, trying to follow up the brilliant ‘Get Out’ seems like an impossible feat. Fortunately he was able pull it off with ease with his 3rd full length movie which is just as mindbending in my opinion at least as his first.

A beautiful looking movie filled with A super solid cast, great locales and an excellent creature design make this a truly engaging movie to see in the theater and so much more than I was expecting. It’s a different animal altogether than the summer Hollywood blockbuster you might be expecting.

Don’t go in thinking you’re gonna get Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness type effects either. Peele uses CGI sparingly and perfectly to create something that feels visceral, real and highly imaginative in today’s landscape of bloated big budget sludge. If you haven’t seen Nope yet go into the movie completely blind if you can, the less you know the better. What plays out on screen I think is one of the best cinematic events of 2022 hands down.

MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. Misses the Mark!

After getting a good look at what is supposedly the MCU design for iconic Marvel Comics villain Modok I can honestly say my childhood fantasies have been smashed! Easily one of my favorite villains of all time for his bizarrely offputing look, Modok deserves so much better than THIS!

 That is what is supposedly his design for the upcoming Ant-Man movie. His big movie debut look unfortunately does not feature any of the grotesque charm of the classic villain.

My hopes here are that he is merely wearing some sort of protective helmet. I’m also fairly certain that they will be featuring the character as some sort of ridiculous joke Instead of utilizing him as a terrifying monstrosity that he truly is.

I also think if they were to have designed the character using practical animatronic effects just how amazing he could really be on the big screen. Time will tell but in the meantime here are a few of my favorite images of one of Marvel’s most grotesque creations!

‘PREY’ Brings the Goods But Can’t Top ‘PREDATOR 2’!

[OK so it seems everyone is flipping out over the new ‘Predator’ prequel ‘Prey’ just released yesterday on Hulu! Most are claiming it to be the best of the franchise since the original 87′ masterpeice, some even boldly claiming it better than the original. Well I’m here to clear things up because in 1987 Predator was the very first ‘R rated’ movie I ever saw in the theater and I snuck into it at the age of 13!!

At this point I’d pretty much lost any enthusiasm for another Predator movie after 2018’s pathetic sequel ‘The Predator’. However I’m quite happy to report that 2022 has brought us the latest movie in the series, ‘Prey’ and it’s overall a sweet breath of fresh air finally. I’m gonna put it slightly above ‘Predators’ which I thought mixed things up nicely with a unique plot that deviates from the others. Prey goes back to the basics and it essentially works, the time setting of 1719 and the physical setting of the Great Plains combined with its unique Native American tribal characters make for a visually stunning survival adventure. I gotta be honest though, the dialogue of the tribe felt way out of place and took me out of the movie’s supposed era several times, it felt WAY too “modern America”, if like the tribe were actually modern day cosplayers from LA or something. They really could have done better to make them feel a bit more convincing vocally because they looked amazing.

 But one of the best things though was indeed the setting, beautiful locations that of course make me wonder how much of what we saw on screen was actually real or created via CGI? I hope it was filmed on actual location. Whatever the case it really worked in this particular situation, at times rivaling the jungles of the original film. Of course the basic plot set up does feel a bit heavily treaded as of late at least, it features a young, strong female lead who’s marginalized by her male tribe members who believe she doesn’t have what it takes to be a true warrior. However she’s a total badass master hunter, fighter, tracker & her male peers just refuse to accept her. 

The lead, Naru, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is a force to be reckoned with. However when Dutch finally becomes the hunted it’s clear his macho-man antics are simply not going to save his ass from the Predator. Nope, he’s going to have to massively reevaluate everything he’s learned in order to survive the Predator’s attack. I felt Prey lacked much of that visceral tension, urgency and nail biting suspense of the original. Perhaps because Naru seems more than capable of besting The Predator in hand to hand combat right from the get-go. I personally would’ve prefered a bit more character struggle that let the tension rise to its boiling point. I never really feared for Naru’s life at any point in Prey. It could’ve featured her crafting some inventive new tricks to outwit the Predator but instead felt like it lacked the clever hero’s ingenuity humans normally need to come out on top against an alien force. Instead it relies more on her just facing it straight on with hand-to-hand combat. The action scenes were quite well done but I wish there would’ve been a little more to her having to “Macguyver” her way to victory. Given the script though, Amber Midthunder, who portrays Naru, did a great job as our new hero. She’s cool but maybe just a bit too badass at times for me to truly believe that she’s ever in any actual legit danger. Still the whole vibe, time period, dazzling looking characters and her awesome dog companion made this a real welcome surprise when put neatly all together.

I also had some issues with some of the CGI work done with the animals in the movie. It’s a cool concept to see the Predator go one on one with a bear and a wolf but the way it was executed took me out of the movie again as the CGI sadly just wasn’t convincing enough. I also have somewhat of a problem with the Predator’s new look this time around as it was clear there must have been some sort of wonky CGI going on with it’s normally amazing practical animatronic face. Something that cannot be topped from the first 2 movies at least. Still though it managed to breathe some much needed fresh air into a fully dying franchise and at no point in the movie was I ever bored. So all in all I can admit this is a pretty damn solid entry in the franchise, one of the best installments but I can also say quite firmly that imo it’s NOT the best sequel to Predator.

I recently rewatched ‘Predator 2’ on Blu-Ray and it’s aged like a fine wine. Danny Glover is an amazing charismatic lead and the city setting/concrete jungle created a whole new creepy exciting scenario for the brutal carnage. PREY In my opinion doesn’t come close to besting Predator 2. Perhaps if the it was released in the early nineties it might have felt much more fresh than it does now today but sadly the franchise just doesn’t feel anywhere near as interesting as it used to no matter what scenario you might want to introduce.  In many ways the Predator franchise has simply run out a gas.

But if you still find yourself a die hard thirsty fan of the franchise looking for something new, you can’t go wrong with this new installment. It delivers enough of what we loved about the original to make it a worthwhile survival adventure flick! It’s a fairly unique little creature feature that would have been fun if it’d shown up in theaters…or 32 years ago!

VHS Verdict: 1990’s ‘WHEELS OF TERROR’ Goes The Distance!

I had a super sweet VHS swap at my store, Hollywood Babylon, in Portland Oregon a couple weeks ago and picked up some pretty promising picks on tape- Most notably ‘Wheels of Terror’ from 1990. A movie that luckily lives up to its sweet VHS cover!

 Originally an R rated, made for TV movie appearing on the USA Network, I admittedly didn’t have very high hopes for what would unfold on screen. As a big fan of road road horror I’m happy to report that this one really went the distance. Directed by Christopher Cain, most notably known for ‘Young Guns’ and ‘The Next Karate Kid’, I’d have never suspected he’d be capable of such a taut and effective tale of terror.  This would be a great  one to pair up with ‘The Hitcher’, ‘Duel’ or ‘Road Games’ for one helluva solid double feature.

 ‘Wheels’ pulls no damn punches and UPS the ante for some real high stakes horror!  In a nutshell it is the story of a single mother and her daughter who move to a small town in the desert. Mom’s a school bus driver, trying to get into the swing of small town life, it should be a simple adjustment right? WRONG! This small town has a BIG problem, a psychotic child predator is on the loose, abducting kids in his super fucked of sketchy demonic looking black car. Pretty messed up place to live huh? You bet!! Bad move Momma!

Well luckily the local mechanic souped up Mom’s school bus with a freakin’ race car engine, how’s that for foreshadowing?  Things get super tense real fast as the psycho driver begins to target the town zeroing in on the Mom’s daughter, arriving at their house reving his screechin’ engine in the dead of night. 

 At times it almost appears like the psycho is some sort of supernatural presence as no one seems to notice this bizarre freaky ass car driving around in broad daylight with no goddamn muffler! There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief that you might need a to really take this movie seriously but what it lacks in “grounded reality” It more than makes up for in tension. 

It would be one thing if it was simply a mass murderer driving around in a car but the fact that it’s a creepy sex offender makes the stakes shoot through the roof.  And once you get to the real meat and potatoes of the movie the final act is a goddamn balls to the wall action packed literal demolition derby thrill ride! Filled with great stunts, unexpected twists and fucking unrelenting killer road rage.

It’s lean run time of under 85 minutes also makes this one pack a powerful punch and is the perfect movie to watch with the rowdy gang of hungry cinefiles! I’d say my only real problem with ‘Wheels of Terror’ is the promise of some sort of mysterious reveal that might rear its ugly head in it’s finale that never comes sadly. Still its a bonafide lost hidden gem, full of action a’ plenty, strong characters and one wickedly terrifying villain! Hunt this little gem down and please someone give this nasty little flick a sweet blu ray release!!

 

Comic Cover of the Week: Walt Simonson’s Savage HULK Rage Rainbow!

Anyone have those oh so fond memories of ‘The HULK’ magazine from the 70s/80s?! They were larger than your average comic cover and had insanely epic covers & also featured a BONUS Moon Knight story in every issue. There was also ‘The Rampaging Hulk’ which was another larger comic version with amazing hand painted colors. THIS issue #23 from 1980 features the icon, Walt Simonson (as seen with his unmistakable signature) with his Banner/Hulk “rainbow of rage”.

An amazing colorful piece of gamma charged work that makes me again wish that Walt had spent more time drawing The Hulk!

The MCU Wrecking Crew!! OMG Childhood Dreams DO Come TRUE!

I was thrilled to hear that one of my favorite Marvel Comics supervillain teams was coming to life on the upcoming She-Hulk Disney Plus Marvel series!

The wait was over, this rough and tumble band of colorful supervillains has finally arrived on the scene ready to clash with the likes of Thor, She-Hulk and yeah the OG jade giant himself! These guys are such Icons! 1st appearing waaaaay back in 1974 (my year of birth actually) in The Defenders #17! 

From what I understand though, many people may have missed these supervillain sensations in the trailer entirely! I guess it might be because Marvel always does seem to tweak the costumes just a little bit for their live action shows, so here we are in case you missed it let’s check out “The Wrecking Crew” and let all of our childhood nostalgia FINALLY come to life!!!

So?! What did you think? Are you as excited and blown away as I am?!! Do you think this one’s got potential or do you think they’ve just made another throwaway version of iconic Marvel characters? What are the chances these guys will suit up in  something more……exciting? Also do you think these guys have superhuman strength or are they just luggin’ around some stupid MCU tech for the sake of some “witty” MCU humor? Only time will tell True Believers!

VHS Verdict: The Hippies and Horror of ‘HIGH DESERT KILL’!’

I just recently ran across a pretty promising looking VHS tape, at least from the cover, ‘High Desert Kill’ from 1989 has all the right ingredients for one hell of a horror flick!


Marc Singer, The Beastmaster himself, rounds out the cast in this intriguing tale of terror in the deserts of New Mexico. However don’t be too dead set on blood-and-guts in this tale of survival. There’s really not a lick of gore to be found anywhere on screen for it’s entire run time.

It actually plays out like a bit of an extended episode of the X-Files (minus the Mulder and Scully type aspect) and I mean that as a compliment. I guess this was indeed a made for cable TV movie, don’t let that deter you though, cuz there’s a lot of forgotten gems in that category. We’ve got a great setting with 3 manly dudes who head out on a camping/hunting excursion deep in the desert in honor of their long lost deceased friend. There’s plenty of testosterone here going around as these sweaty often shirtless guys begin to almost immediately encounter some eerie occurrences upon arriving the first evening as well as some hot “hippie” babes (At least that’s what they seem to think they are for some reason) to liven up the party.

But things quickly go South as they start experiencing hallucinations and begin to believe they are being stalked by some unseen malevolent force. The desert of New Mexico is the perfect place for this creepy tale to unfold, it’s filled with plenty of mystery and the stunning beauty showcasing its natural surroundings..

To be honest the setting here is really the star of the show, there’s not a hell of a lot of spectacle to behold otherwise visually. No real flashy special effects or balls to the wall action sequences. However what it seems to lack in spectacle it makes up for with atmosphere, cleverly mixing a sense of dread and mystery at play with these old friends as the plot begins to slowly unfold and reveal it’s ugly details. The cover of the movie however does reveal perhaps a little more than it should with an alien spacecraft high in the sky, but don’t expect too much of that either and don’t expect too many skeletons to be rearing their ugly heads.

Despite those minor quibbles there’s plenty to love here and the cast of characters makes this weirdo trip one worth taking.  It also features a pretty interesting backstory, shrouded and Native American mythology. If you’re in the mood for a simple slowburn with a pretty satisfying twist to it ‘High Desert Kill’ will be more than sufficient watch for any fanatic of erie eighties sci fi. I also see that currently Kino Lorber has a preorder for this one on blu ray– check it out!

MOVIE MELT Heads Off to Michigan’s Lush & Legendary ‘WEREWOLF ISLAND’ !!

So I went back on the Movie Melt Podcast to cover yet another pretty impressive vanity project from 2018! This time we’re headed off to ‘Werewolf Island’ AKA ‘The Legend of ‘Dog Lady Island’ (a way better name imo) for some truly ridiculous midwest horror shenanigans straight out of Michigan!If you’re into stupid but ambitious low budget horror films then this episode will definitely NOT let you down- as a native Wisconsinite myself I’m fully on board for this voyage that takes us to a place where movies are rarely produced and rarely talked about-deep into the heart of the midwest. Director/star Michael James Alexander might be considered past his prime but he don’t give a DAMN, he’s gonna make his acting AND directing AND writing fantasies come TRUE whether you like it or not!

That’s what’s most exciting to me, cinematic dreams can sorta kinda come true even as you get older. It’s sorta somewhat inspiring as Werewolf Island kinda shows me that anyone with enough ambition and elbow grease can sorta produce, write, direct and start in a damn movie! So who knows maybe I’ll be next?!! 

Yeah…so this is NOT from the movie but what the hell, there aren’t any other photos from it online! This’ll do!

So I suggest you grab a few drinks, sit down and chill out here for some mind numbing movie madness with more useless cinematic information than your brain can humanly comprehend! 

Also some serious trash movie recommendations as well as some bonafide bangers, of what’ you might wanna be checking out if you’re a crazed mutant movie fanatic like myself! LISTEN TO MOVIE MELT RIGHT HERE!!

Believe the Hype: The KENOBI Fan Edit REALLY Gets it RIGHT!

In case you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard about the new Obi Wan Kenobi fan edit, I’m here to tell ya why you gotta check that shit out ASAP! If you thought the series from Disney Plus was a big, bloated, convoluted mess then you’ve come to the right place, because a fan named Kai Patterson had decided  to give Obi Wan the damn justice he so desperately needed going all the way back to the prequal trilogy!

 I’m here to set the record straight as obviously you can’t trust the giant corporate websites these days to tell you any truth at all about movies! Surprisingly though they get this one right, as many have been really hyping this fan edit up. People are now saying that they finally have the Obi Wan Kenobi Star Wars story that they’ve always dreamt of, 

 Kai likely saw that somewhere within the series it had a cool story to be told. He trims it down from a 280 plus minute run time to a mere 150 minutes a two and a half hour Star Wars movie. He gets rid of the stuff that didn’t work, moves around plot points, bad dialogue and streamlines the action sequences. Anyway everyone and their long lost Uncle are talking about it so I’m probably the last person you need to hear more from at this point, You can only view the film from HIS WEBSITE, So what are you waiting for go check it and finally enjoy some Star Wars!!!

VHS Verdict: ‘THE SPIRIT OF ’76’ Wacky 4th of July Sci-fi!

Hey it can be hard to find good things to watch after all of the festivities of the 4th of July right? Let’s face it after drinking a case of beer at the cookout you’re probably ready to watch something stupid and I’ve got a good one for ya! ‘The Spirit of 76’ is an almost entirely forgotten ridiculous scifi comedy from 1990. It features David Cassidy, pop icon, known for hisoh so sweet musical career in the Partridge Family, as he goes way back in time to the 1970s on mission to save planet Earth!

But wait, you also get to see not one but TWO slightly past their prime but still totally dreamy, former teen 70s heart throbs, cuz  this bad boy also features Leif Garrett too! One of my favorite parts of the movie though, it also stars Jeff and Steve McDonald of one of my favorite iconic punk rock power pop bands bands REDD KROSS!  The 2 brothers are channeling some serious “Bill and Ted” vibes and add some serious cred and charm this little wacked out adventure.

 So In the year 2176, determined time travelers including Cassidy and the stunningly beautiful Olivia d’Abo (OMG so crushed!) are sent back in time, in a tin can style space ship to the year 1776 in order to save our planet. However a computer glitch transports them instead to 1976 by mistake!! Things get idiotic real quick as of course they’re being chased by a sinister force trailing not far behind. 

However we get a pretty entertaining “fish out of water” storyline going here where Cassidy (who should be in his natural habitat in the real world) and Co have some serious adjusting to do when they encounter things like platform shoes, polyester suits, mood rings and untamed 1970’s babes galore!

Their guides, Jeff and Steve from Redd Kross help them through this glamorous era and avoid certain danger among the disco era. The whole thing is a riot and also features even more familiar faces, the likes of Tommy Chong, Devo, Moon Zappa, Rob Reiner and Downtown Julie Brown! 

There’s Kung Fu fighting, disco dancing, stupid looking spaceships and the  whole damn thing takes place on the 4th of July folks! Get down!!

There’s a lot of pretty sharp comedy in this and tons of red, white and blue check out this little long forgotten scifi comedy, cult classic down if you want something a bit off the beaten path this 4th!! Here’s Redd Kross with the theme song ‘1976’ for the movie! One of my favorite tracks from their 1990 album ‘Third Eye’!!

Even better here is the entire movie, only 81 minutes long for your 4th of July viewing right on YouTube for free!!