Blu Review: 80s Linnea Quigley + Evil Priests Conspire in Heartland of Darkness!

I checked out the new blu ray from Visual Vengeance, the lost 80s horror thriller Heartland of Darkness. Apparently this little “smalltownsploitation” movie was never released before this and for die hards of the genre it even features Linnea Quigley too. The movie actually shot in 1989 was recently given some finishing touches and for the most part this is a pretty charming little horror tinged thriller with strong characters, plenty of intrigue, sassy dialogue and decent amount of satanic panic. 

Originally titled ‘Blood Church’ we get the story of big trouble in a small town, mainly with a wicked Catholic priest in disguise who’s secretly the head of satanic cult who’s on a killing spree (or maybe that’s just a now considered standard priest?). Too bad for him and his gang because big city journalist Paul Henson and his teen daughter move to town on a mission to start a local no B.S. newspaper. Soon he’s joined by a sexy big city reporter small town transplant who’s decided to join the paper and put the kibosh on the Cult’s wicked murderous rampage. This starts a series of bizarre events within the hierarchy of the town folk, with a massive conspiracy in play. Oh and it also inspires Linnea to of course get a bit frisky in a graveyard again!

I enjoyed the heck out of Heartland of Darkness, it’s got a cool cast of likable characters, a satanic cult, conspiracy, mystery, Linnea Quigley (looking cuter than ever) getting naked twice, a bit of romance as well as some decent gore and a bit of action to boot. It never really drags but at around an hour and forty minutes I think it could have benefited with a tighter edit. I also think Linnea could have had a bigger better role in the story but it’s pretty cool at least to just see her onscreen here in a lost 80s role.

What’s also interesting is a few sequences where you can tell it got a few “modern” edits. There’s some lightning that appears to be digitally inserted and even a scene where it’s seems clear an out of place looking digital “explosion” must have been inserted, perhaps to make better sense of the uncompleted film?  Or maybe it was just the directors dream to have it in there? I’d likely have to take a deep dive into the extensive plethora of bonus features provided here, one being a new interview with Linnea as well as the original 1990 work print of the film at that time titled “Fallen Angels”.

It also comes with stickers, liner notes and some other surprising physical goodies inside the blu. This was a real treat to watch for the first time, that being said, will I watch it again? Probably not. There’s nothing particularly memorable here that’s going to separate it from the gems of 1989 and make you salivate for a rewatch. However horror collectors and Linnea completists are going to wanna take note and grab a copy. There was clearly a LOT of love from Visual Vengeance here to make this release something truly special. It’s pretty fun package all in all. Visual Vengeance is putting out some really sweet releases. Check it out!

Comic Cover of the Week: Alpha Flight & CRYSTAR!

Oh how I miss being an 80’s kid and here’s a comic book that brings back some memories: The Saga of Crystar the Crystal Warrior! It’s been a while since I thought about this title but it was BIG on my radar back in the day, mostly because of the awesome action figures I owned from the Crystar toyline. Here however, is one of my fave covers of the series, beautifully illustrated by Michael Golden, featuring unlikely guest stars: Alpha Flight! One of my all time favorite super-teams of Marvel. 

Most of the short lived series, only eleven issues long (this being the final one) had consistently quite impressive art work on their covers. So as a kid all it took was one look to reel me into the Crystal Universe and BEG my mom to let get a few of their truly unique action figures!

The MOVIE MELT Podcast Gets Educated at GHOUL SCHOOL?!

It’s finally time to go BACK to school, but not with Rodney Dangerfield, with the MOVIE MELT Podcast. You bet! I went back on to discuss the low budget 1990 horror comedy GHOUL SCHOOL! This nearly forgotten movie fetches a pretty penny on eBay for a VHS copy and is known by cult movie fanatics as a boner-fide classic. So does Ghoul School desperately need a fancy-ass blu ray release? Or should it stay forever encased in a moldy VHS tape?!

That being said how fun is it really to go back to Ghoul School? Is it as sexy as the cover might suggest? Or is it far more terrifying than you might suspect? You can really learn a lot from this one I tell ya!

Perhaps when you attend Ghoul School you actually end more stupid when you finally graduate? Here’s sweet teaser you’ve got to check out, a fundraiser for the movie from way back when that we discuss on THIS episode! Could the teaser be more satisfying than the real thing? Hmmmm….

 

Well we’ve got the scoop and all the useless details about this weird little punk rock low brow horror oddity as well as a school related battle of the bands and lots of senseless movie talk about what you might be wanting to watch if you’re a cinematic super freak! Check out the latest episode HERE!

KIDS vs. ALIENS: If “Goosebumps” was Rated R!

I’ve been looking forward to Jason Eisener’s ‘Kid’s vs. Aliens’ since I heard the ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ director was making a feature length film based on his awesome short horror segment in V/H/S/ 2. Granted it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, I remember really digging the concept and execution of it.

The simple premise of this movie is so right up my alley it feels like it almost was tailor made just for me. In a nutshell some kids have a Halloween party that goes off the rails when evil aliens descend upon their lakeside household. The alien visitors for the most part resemble our traditional “Greys”, which I find to be one of the most terrifying creatures of the more modern era. I guess though they’d be more in line with what we saw in 2014’s ‘Extraterrestrial’ though (minus the CGI) than say the brilliantly bizarre 1989 Whitley Strieber biopic ‘Communion’. That being said, you’ve gotta admire how ambitious this movie is with all of its practical effects work and not a shred of CGI really anywhere to be found. Add in a lean run time of around 75 minutes (68 of them actual movie time) and you’ve got a nice, fast paced horror adventure at the ready. 

Plus the main kid protagonists of this movie are also quite charming for the most part. None of them get bogged down in modern online politics or social commentary, they’re just kids in danger with wildly filthy mouths being….kids. In essence they’re a fairly solid attempt of mixing the kids in Stand By Me with The Goonies. I’d say for the first 3rd of the movie I was pretty sure this might end up being one of my favorite horror films of 2023. It’s got a lot of heart at its core as well (maybe trying a bit too hard at times) and characters who you can for the most part get behind on this weird little ride.

However with ALL of that going for it, still there’s something here that in my opinion just didn’t quite click the way it should’ve. That’s not to say this isn’t a fun little movie, becuz it is. It just misses the mark at being a modern horror classic, maybe because they’re trying just a bit too hard at mostly everything they attempt to sell the audience. It’s same problems I had at times with 2013’s ‘Knights of Badassdom’ a movie which I do admittedly still enjoy quite a bit.

I guess I would say what it does succeed at being is a pretty excellent R-rated “Goosebumps” movie. In many ways, even the way it’s filmed looks a little bit like a vintage Goosebumps episode for better or for worse at times. I guess my problem was maybe my personal expectations weren’t quite met in the way I’d initially hoped for. Though this movie in many ways borrows heavily from the likes of classics like Fire In The Sky, it really lacks the intensity, atmosphere and mystery that could have pulled from it, even if just a little bit of it. The aliens In my opinion are shown way too much in plain sight. All of the things that make grey aliens so terrifying is completely absent here, they run around roaring like enraged grizzly bears. 

The aliens also look a bit too much like men in rubber suits, which I usually don’t mind, but easily hiding them a bit more might have benefited this greatly. More of the monsters isn’t always better. Overall though I do appreciate the almost entirely practical nature of this film’s special effects. It’s refreshing to see filmmakers getting a bit more old school these days!

Though the characters for the most part are fun wonky children, they do try a bit too hard to sell us that on all levels. Much of the character development feels a bit forced. The kids and their antagonist teen enemies end up being somewhat over the top caricatures and don’t always feel like “real’ people. The kids are NERDS, the older teen sister-hero is a NERD and the teens are really reeeeally meanies who don’t like NERDS. By the middle of the movie I found myself wishing their personas had been toned down. They started to feel like they were written by the “modern day Kevin Smith” or something. Ok, well maybe not that bad. Instead of growing to like them more as the movie progressed, I found myself becoming slightly annoyed with everyone’s behaviors and actions even if they were good in nature. 

Looking at it now though with zero expectations, it’s still one I do plan on revisiting again. It’s got plenty of action and really does try to feature a cast of heartwarming lead characters and pathetically almost unbelievably evil teen villains to you are basically told to hate anytime they appear. It also takes place on Halloween and makes it prime viewing for the holiday. There’s a lot of good here so don’t get me wrong, I just feel like someone needs to put together an amazing home invasion Grey alien horror film and do it the right way. In the perfect world I was hoping this would be a mix of 1989’s Communion and maybe like Evil Dead. (here’s a still photo  from Communion).

Instead it leans hard into the campy territory and doesn’t skimp on some impressive Gore FX either. Perhaps it’s really my own expectations that took this down a few pegs for myself, with all the crappy stuff out there streaming I do think there’s a lot of fun to be had. Check this one out, it’s worth a rental, but don’t go in expecting it to be quite as cool as his segment was in V/H/S 2. Still thank you Jason for adding an entertaining alien invasion flick to the cinematic horror library!

 

 

 

The Final Season of Cobra Kai Needs THE NEXT KARATE KID!

It’s official Cobra Kai is coming to end with season 6 this year & I really think that it’s a great idea to stop while the iron is still HOT. They likely could have just left the end of Season 5 as is and it would have been actually quite satisfying. They’ve pretty much went everywhere they could with the series covering almost all the characters in the “Miyagi-verse”. However there’s one big corner left to explore still: The NEXT KARATE KID. The highly underrated gem of the franchise!

It’s the perfect time to bring Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank) into the mix for the final curtain call. For many years I avoided The Next Karate Kid, I felt like it was an illegitimate spin-off of the “real deal” even though Part 3 was an uneven, laughable, tonally off chapter. It’d surely seem like the time is now bring Swank into the mix, the last season could use the female energy and give the show a fresh twist. The Next Karate Kid is also the last resource to draw from the “Miyagi-verse” and though it’s villains don’t seem to make sense in Cobra Kai it’d be really interesting to see Daniel and Julie finally meet in person and discuss the legend of Miyagi. Perhaps Julie could shed new light on his wisdom or even secrets of his past that Daniel(and the fans) might not be aware of?

As I’ve said before, Swank would be a welcome addition to the series, she’s most definitely a high caliber actor and the series would be more than lucky to be graced with her talent. It’s really the last link waiting to be covered from the  4 movies. But what are the odds it happens? Well at the moment, Hilary is pregnant and is expecting very soon, so I wonder just how available she could even be? It’s definitely possible I suppose for her to jump on board in a couple months.

So far however she’s stated she’s never been approached to be on Cobra Kai, which honestly I find to be quite odd especially since she’s stated that she’s open to reprising her role. In my opinion though, this last season really needs The Next Karate Kid connection. It would be a real treat to see her and Daniel fight with their Miyagi-Do karate expertise side by side. She could be a big part of the big final tournament and quite honestly the last missing link to the Miyagi lore.

I’m hoping they don’t drop the ball here, The Next Karate Kid is a solid entry in the franchise. It wasn’t a reboot/carbon copy of the first film with a girl in the Danielson role, it had it’s own unique story to tell, charming characters and has actually in my opinion aged quite nicely. Over the last few years it’s really become a favorite of mine, giving us a sweet glimpse into Mr. Miyagi’s life outside of Daniel. Also what if there are some great never before seen outtakes or deleted scenes from The Next Karate Kid that could be over into the show?

If you’re A “Danielson only” Karate Kid purist you should really give The Next Karate Kid another shot, if you’re like me and miss Mr. Miyagi, the brilliance of Pat Morita, that movie really delivers a high powered crane kick to the ass! Fingers crossed Hilary RETURNS in a BIG way for the final season of Cobra Kai!!!

Movie Melt Orders a ‘HAMBURGER The Motion Picture’ with Xtra Horsey Sauce?!!

Well today I’ve certainly got something that’s gonna get your taste buds ticklin’! Oh yeah, I went back on the MOVIE MELT podcast and we covered the literally saucy and spicy ‘HAMBURGER The Motion Picture’! Yep this critically panned, box office bomb from 1986 gets it’s day in the sunshine. A second chance for redemption? Jam packed with juicy burgers, greasy ass fries and wild sexy(?), offensive shenanigans that make it a pure product of its time. A sloppy burger of a movie!

That being said, it still managed to offend people even back in the mid eighties and will continue doing so today. But we decided to give it a chance and try not to view it too closely through the lenses of 2023, I mean there has to be something lovable about a movie called Hamburger right?!! CHECK OUT THE EPISODE!

Well don’t waste any time and let’s find out listen to the episode right HERE! Plus soooo much more, food themed ‘Battle of the Bands’ as well as all the BEST movie recommendations of flicks you might wanna be watchin’ especially if you’re by chance a horror obsessed cheezhead from Wisconsin! Oh and I see the FULL version of Hamburger is on YouTube, released only on VHS otherwise! Unfortunately if you notice by the YouTube video it’s too daaaamn raunchy to watch right here! It’s too spicy for U-Dork apparently?!

 

Comic Cover of the Week: Wisconsin’s Forgotten 1980s Superhero!

Here’s a flashback to late 1980s indie comics who’s covers pack a punch (or more so a KICK)! Wisconsin superhero Badger was always a favorite of mine, for one reason because the cheese state, from which I hail, never got much attention in the superhero spectrum. Mike Baron’s ‘First Comics’ creation was a truly unique spin on the genre. This incredible cover was one as a Wisconsinite always stuck in my mind! Badger was truly reppin’ the Midwest! A dynamic cover from 1988 by Steve Rude is one of my faves hands DOWN!

‘Evil Dead Rise’ Trailer Feels Like a ‘Conjuring’ Spin-off?!

There’s a lot of hype lately around the return of the “EVIL DEAD” franchise with Evil Dead Rise and personally I’m just not feeling the heat so far. Sure it’s kinda neat to see the classic Necronomicon book again onscreen, but at least in the trailer, that’s about the only thing that’s feeling “Evil Dead” about the whole affair in my opinion.

When I saw the poster, the first thing that came to mind wasn’t the classic franchise, it really looked eerily similar to the 2022 horror film “SMILE’. For a moment I thought it WAS perhaps a SMILE spin-off being announced.

In fact if you took out the Necronomicon from the trailer I’d have honestly thought this film was a James Wan produced spin-off sequel set in his “Conjuring” universe. Or like a sequel to ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ or something. And don’t get me wrong, I like James Wan’s movies but Evil Dead Rises doesn’t do anything at least in the trailer to separate itself from the current horror trends-and why would it? It looks like another Blumhouse film (maybe it is?) and to me seems almost like a pointless franchise reboot that’ll probably be forgotten fast in a sea of 2023 similarly stylized corporate Hollywood horror films. Where’s the flavor of the original films?

I often wonder if Hollywood is even capable of making a movie that looks and feels like something like the original Evil Dead films? Everything looks too slick, I think someone needs to step in and dial things back, legions of fans would truly flip out if they could replicate the real atmosphere of the the originals, this ain’t it. That’s not to say I won’t eat my words, perhaps Evil Dead Rise will be the BEST of all Evil Dead films?

I think fans deserve something different if you’re really going for an honest attempt to revitalize Evil Dead. I’d rather have a movie sequel to ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ Season 3 personally. I’d much rather have a sequel in tone to Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness, that feels really like part of the old franchise. It could even be more in tone with the 1981 OG film, set in the 80s with more of a classic look?

Or follow Pablo and Kelly from Ash vs Evil Dead if we really want to steer clear of Ash. I think there’s likely a much better way to transition Evil Dead back onto the big screen and so far this seems like a mis-step.

I’m going to see it and I hope I’m proved wrong but it all just looks and feels too familiar to the modern horror films of the last few years. I like modern horror, but if you’re going to try to bust out a classic franchise again you’ve got to capture what made it so special to begin with…

MOVIE MELT Podcast & The Y2K Mayhem of 1999’s ‘Y2K’?!!

Yes true believers it is NO joke-we survived Y2K!! The year was 1999 and tensions were through the freakin’ roof, all the rumored disastrous computer malfunctions combining with insane natural disasters, the world was on course for certain doom!!  Some of you out there might be too young to remember this fateful evening and how we  persevered the most dire circumstances. Well if you need a refresher here it is becuz I went back on the Movie Melt Podcast and we covered Y2K from 1999 starring Louis Gossett Jr, Malcom McDowell and some other annoying dude who plays an idiotic computer hacker!!

This later, nearly forgotten flick from PM Entertainment was in serious need of attention, and of course everyone needs a refresher on just what exactly went down on New Yearz Eve Y2K!

 We also talk about the most badass films of 2022 and do another battle of the bands Y2K edition! Check this refresher out and get educated on what really went down in 1999!! LISTEN HERE! Check out the trailer too for this epic showdown/real life history lesson!

1983’s ‘GET CRAZY’: The Number One News Years PARTY Flick!

The big question this year: what the hell are you gonna watch tonight on New Year’s Eve?! If you’re like me and sticking around the house tonight (deciding to steer clear of crazy bars and wild crowded parties) then you’re likely gonna be looking for the best damn New Year’s Eve party flicks out there!

We’re looking no further because 1983’s GET CRAZY is about as good as this shit comes! Exactly 40 years ago the slapstick hormone infused cocktail of musical genius is one party worth attending from the seat of your couch. Best served for a thirsty crowd of cinemaniacs! From the director of ‘Rock n’ Roll High School’, it’s game on for New Year’s Eve when a promoter and his wild crew of one of the coolest underground theaters in town plans the ultimate NYE rock concert.

The only problem is an evil corporation lead by Ed Begly Jr is ready to destroy the entire building with a bomb & a rotten plan to gentrify the neighborhood. Don’t fret though because ‘Get Crazy’ provides some seriously wacky gags but it’s not all “Airplane” or “Naked Gun” slapstick here, there’s some real heart to the story and along the way you can expect to get your socks seriously rocked off in the process. Director Allan Arkush also adds a sweet pedigree of punk rock here to please anyone who’s a die hard of the genre.

With an incredible soundtrack and some fictitious bands who crank out some of the coolest 80s songs you’ve never heard in one of the wildest concert settings ever put to film- There’s just simply no way to be bored here with Get Crazy. If you have the option tonight to run this through your stereo system and crank it, definitely do so, that’s the best way to watch this one-loud and proud!

Starring familiar faces like Lee Ving, Malcom McDowell, Lou Reed, Bill Henderson, the early 80s never felt so vibrant and colorfully drug addled.  Everything in this movie looks wonderful. It’s filled with incredible colorful set pieces and really captures a slice of the wild life during the holiday season in 1982. There’s a great blu ray edition out of this movie by Kino Lorber and you can watch it FREE on Youtube.

Easily one of my favorite movies I’ve watched for the 1st time in 2022. I highly recommend if you’re staying home tonight & love cinema to check this out for sure and crank it up! Happy New Years!