VHS Verdict: The Monkey-less ‘BLUE MONKEY’ from 1987!

So I recently found a copy of an 80’s monster movie I’d been trying to track down for years- Blue Monkey from 1987. One thing I totally dig is an awesome or even badly entertaining 80’s horror flick and with this one I was certain I’d found either a lost gem or at the very least a full on golden turd!! Well it turns out I was quite wrong on both guesses, after years of waiting I was quite disappointed to find out Blue Monkey is neither, but rather a total snooze fest that’s bound to put the kibosh on any movie nite party!!

The funny thing is for the first half hour this one delivers some serious promise, that’s the sad thing because after a strong opening you’re so damn sure this movie is going to deliver the goods and then some that it’s tough to give up on it! The basic premise is someone gets bit by a weird bug in an exotic greenhouse that causes big slug like parasites to emerge from the hosts mouth. When the person is taken to the hospital that’s when the “mayhem” begins and then quickly peters out into a movie that feels far, FAR longer than it’s 97 minute run time!! Yeah the first half hour has some cool gross out fx and even introduces us to a young Sarah Polley!

 Aside from that there’s not much else to report, the rest of the movie features a shit ton of boring ass scenes of people walking around dark hallways and talking about a ton of shit my brain wasn’t willing to absorb. I watched this at a movie nite on a projector and as I looked around the room it was clear this movie was the fucking cure to the most intense case of insomnia!! I’d also like to add that there’s no blue monkey or anything related to a damn blue monkey in the whole damn film!!

Yeah people were nodding off and some I think got some nice zzzzz’s during most of the movies tiresome duration. When we finally get to see the monster mutant bug it’s just too little too late to give a damn. The only thing that kept this movie the least bit interesting were the two boozed up senior citizen patients at the hospital, and even the promise they showed waned pretty damn quick. The actual monster itself was actually pretty well done. If they’d have had the creature stalk people on and off during the loooong ass middle section of this movie it’d have been a helluva lot easier to sit through. Even adding a few of those “shadowy creature arm attacks and you throw some fake blood on a wall” type of scenes could have saved this one from being a full blown fucking sleep-aid!

I get really bummed out by movies like this, that with some clever editing, could have actually been a pretty fun little romp. It seems though the only thing this one succeeds at is being spectacularly boring, proving again the search for that lost 80’s horror gem is a tuff one. Every so often I’m proven wrong but usually if I haven’t heard of a movie being awesome from the 70’s or 80’s by the year 2017 there’s usually good reason! I’m glad the wait is over though with Blue Monkey, even though it was a total turd, it’s one I can happily cross off the list. This one never got a proper DVD release and now it’s finally clear why…you’ve been warned!!  

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Comic Book Cover of the Week: Totally 80’s Wonder Man!

One of the greatest comic book artists of all time is unarguably Bill Sienkiewicz, to prove my point once again I’m posting a pretty mediocre one shot from 1986, with a simply stunning cover by Bill. Step aside Wonder Woman cuz here’s……..Wonder Man?! Yeah, here’s one of my favorite Avengers that simply never got enough love. Wonder Man was a mega strong kick ass dude who sported one of the coolest looks in the comics, nobody could sport that stylin’ red jacket any better! Also known as Simon Williams, he quit the Avengers to pursue an acting career something not many other superheroes would ever dare attempt. Originally a bad guy created by legendary villain Baron Zemo to take on The Avengers in 1964, Wonder Man ranks as one of the strongest Avengers too and Bill Sienkiewicz provides the character with his most glorious appearance on this  classic, forgotten piece of cover art!

 

Netflix’s B-Movie DVD Mayhem: ‘EVIL CAT’ From 1987!!

Here’s yet another entry for all you folks out there who STILL get dvds in the mail from Netflix! I know there aren’t all that many of us left these days, but I’m the type of guy who still thinks dvds are the bees knees! Yeah!! So what of it?!! Don’t get me wrong, I still stream stuff on the online Neflix site but let’s be honest most of that shit SUCKS – Hence why I’ve been combing the dvd Neflix library for lost gems!

Good news folks, I found another gem in their vast sea of aging dvds, this time we’re looking at a movie from Hong Kong from way back in 1987: EVIL CAT. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this cool ass little Chinese horror movie but I’m glad I did cuz it was a ton o’ fun! This crazy ass little movie is jam packed with quirk, 80’s electricity and frantic action sequences, basically everything I dig about the 80’s. Director Dennis Yu brings the fun and amps up some seriously ridiculous shit as we follow the exploits of an evil cat spirit (who’da thunk huh?) that’s released from it’s ancient sealed tomb by a construction crew & unleashed upon Hong Kong in the late 80’s.

The movie moves at brisk pace too, the evil cat spirit moves from body to body kinda like that Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen’ if it was more of a spastic colorful horror romp. It’s actually pretty damn funny when the spirit possesses people, they start acting like wild feral cats growling and scratching like maniacs. It’s pretty cool to see these actors go for it and go pretty far over the top with their possessions.

The evil cat spirit however has problems of it’s own though as we learn over centuries one family has been hunting it and keeping it in check over generations. In the 1980’s there’s an old badass dude from that bloodline who’s dying from cancer who pulls out the old magic bow & arrows from storage to put a stop to the feline madness himself. There’s some sweet plot twists here, crazy characters & some surprising gore that pops in out of nowhere from time to time. The movie never really drags and wears it’s 80’s influences firmly on it’s sleeve. You get a pretty damn fine representation of what Hong Kong was like in the 1980’s, filled with neon and great 80’s fashion. It’s clear if you’re looking for more great crazy cinema from that era, there’s a treasure trove of movies waiting to be discovered from Hong Kong studios.

Evil Cat is definitely worth tracking down and the finale is pretty cool especially when the evil cat possesses a woman who’s nearly as unstoppable as the Terminator! The actual cat spirit is portrayed several times as cool hand drawn animation & then as basically a female cat “creature” pulled from the broadway musical “Cats”.

So while there were several aspects of the movie that could have been done better it was still an incredibly inspired 80’s effort to witness for the first time with no expectations. Also if you’re a fan of kung fu there’s some cool crazy showdowns and plenty of humor thrown into the mix. Some if it being likely being due to some shoddy subtitles and translations that just add more charm to the viewing experience. Track down EVIL CAT or if you still have a Netflix dvd account then throw it into you’re queue!!

 

Netflix’s B-Movie DVD Mayhem: ‘Night Visitor’ & Serial Satanic Slasher Alex Jones!!

People seem to tell themselves that they love the Netflix streaming stuff, but I’m here to say if you’re a movie maniac like myself, then you’re missing out a bit if you’ve stopped with the dvd mailing package that everyone used to have. Yep, I still get those red and white envelopes in the mail and continue to comb the Netflix dvd library for some lost gems. When I say these are “lost gems” I’m saying it with love for flicks with that 70’s and 80’s charm that I simply adore so damn much. This is a fun one to add to your Queue.. 

So I recently checked out a movie from 1989 called ‘Night Visitor’ which is part raunchy teen comedy mixed with a bit of “suspenseful” horror cheez. I’d always remembered the vhs cover artwork for this movie and was pleasantly surprised at how well it delivered the goods albeit, it’s ridiculous manner. I guess one of the draws for the movie was Shannon Tweed’s inclusion as the ultra sexy single next door neighbor lady. She’s pretty well known for her “erotic” thrillers of the 80’s and 90’s and also as Gene Simmons of Kiss’ longtime lover. Of course in the 80’s where there’s a sexy neighbor there’s sure to be some horny teenager spying ala “Rear Window” style on her. That’s the main premise of this one. Teen prankster/known bull shit artist, Billy, is ecstatic to find out Tweed has moved in as his new neighbor and he can’t stop spyin’ on her through his bedroom window. Yeah he’s got a reputation and he’s got troubles at school particularly with history teacher who’s fed up with his cocky demeanor & lames excuses for being continuously late to class.

Things turn into risky biz as it seems Tweed’s just fine with his new hobby as she flirts nightly with Billy through her bedroom window letting him in on her sessions of passion. Of course though if things just seem too good to be true they likely are for a horny teen in the 1980’s – Things take a dark and “dangerous” turn when one night he witnesses her get killed by a creepy robed slasher dude in a demonic mask! In the midst of the mayhem he learns the slasher’s actually his naggin’ pain in the ass history teacher, played by Allen Garfield, who here, oddly creepily resembles the crazy conspiracy theorist Alex Jones! Of course Billy’s shocked (and a bit bummed out) by this cuz his new perverted pastime comes to a sudden halt and even worse that no one believes his crazy ass story.

It seems to take some plot points from the far superior ‘Fright Night’ but Night Visitor still manages to provide some cheezball 80’s fun as we follow Billy’s elaborate plan to foil his deranged teacher’s path of destruction. It’s a decent yet ridiculous little horror movie that also features Elliot Gould in the “Peter Vincent” sorta role to team up with the teen hero. Night Visitor is definitely worth a watch if you’re down for some good C-level horror/thriller/erotic action with those 80’s genre tropes mashed up for good measure. It’s a fun “nobody believes me/everyone thinks I’m crazy when I’m not” flick. I oddly never seem to tire of that narrative and also really dig the whole “student vs his crazy teacher” plot line this one’s got going. Of course too I won’t lie, also back in the day I really didn’t mind when Shannon Tweed showed up in a movie and I still don’t! Check this out for some rather ridiculous fun and if you’re at all curious what it’d be like if Alex Jones taught at your high school, worshipped Satan and was hellbent on killin’ your ass!! 

***This one was also known as ‘Never Cry Devil’

Netflix’s DVD B-Movie Mayhem: Amok Train!

Unlike a most people I’ve STILL got the dvd mailers from Netflix coming my way. Let’s face the facts folks most movies online on Netflix watch instantly kinda suck, it’s crazy how many movies I’ve started and never finished on that damn website! So I’ve been combing the DVD version of the site trying to find cool old b-movie movies they’ve got in their ample reserve. Surprisingly I’ve found some decent lil’ gems there, most of said movies have terrible reviews and super duper low star ratings. I’m going to chronicle those here, the first one I’m recommending is a movie from 1989 called “Amok Train” or as it’s also known “Beyond the Door III”. Keep in mind this movie actually has nothing to do with either of the two previous ‘Beyond The Doors’ but even the Amok Train’s title screen calls it ‘Beyond the Door III’ in the actual movie.

 

Directed by Jeff Kwitny, who only directed four movies, one was the 1988 ski horror flick “Iced” that I now need to see as well. I wasn’t expecting a god damn thing from “Amok Train” to be honest but this movie actually delivered all the glorious 80’s cheez I personally crave on all levels! From it’s start I could tell just from the odd setting alone, as it was shot in Serbia and actually features some stunning locations that it had some promise going forward. The plot follows some American college students who head off on a class trip to Yugoslavia and witness some crazy ass pagan rituals, after traveling on a creepy ferry, which were surprisingly effectively pulled off. After most of the students survive the deadly encounter from the crazed locals they frantically run off into the woods and come across a moving train that’s barreling through the countryside. Of course they are able to just barely hop aboard (most of them at least) to their “safety” and of course that’s where the rest of the flick’s craziness mostly ensues.


I totally dig the setting of “the trapped on a train with evil forces” aspect of this one. The movie moves along at relatively fast pace as well. It’s got it’s fair share of impressive but ridiculous special effects,  as well as some of the most idiotic “train out of control” sequences I’ve ever seen out on film. These scenes though, for me at least, enhance this C-level cinematic experience to higher levels of fun as the train seems to have an evil mind of it’s own. It switches course to evil paths on randomly appearing moving “possessed” train tracks. There’s some pretty cool yet cheezed out shit going on here, like the fact the train’s engine suddenly begins feeding on people rather than coal and the train is on a tight schedule to get one of the “virgin” college students on a perverted play date with the devil himself.

There’s also this cool 80’s badass soldier lady that joins the gang on the train who talks a lot of tuff guy shit and a killer scarf..yeah a killer scarf! The cast who’s got a It’s got some good gore also and stars Bo Svenson for anyone who gives a shit. For a flick I had zero expectations for it made for quite a fun evening of tokin’ and boozin’ it up a bit. If you dig obscure horror stuff that’s not on anyone’s radar then seek this out especially if you’re like me and still get pumped when you see that red and white Netflix dvd envelope in your mailbox!!

 

Comic Review: ‘LAST SONG’ #1 Is a Must For Anyone Who’s Been In a Band!

It seems Black Mask is at it again, releasing cool comic books! Yep ‘Last Song’ is out July 12th and it’s yet another excellent debut issue. There’s a lot of heart pumped into the story of Last Song and if you’ve ever played music and especially ever been in a band this one should really resonate. I spent a good portion of my life so far playing in bands, touring and dreaming at times of hitting it big. This awesome 64 page debut follows two guys who grow up together, learn to play music together and eventually attempt to give the rock n’ roll lifestyle a serious whirl. The two main characters Drew and Nicky have done pretty much everything together and decide to move out to L.A. in search of adventure instead of heading off to college to sign up for the mundane working grind. Nicky worries about his future, never being a kid again and states “I want to like what I’m doing so much that money doesn’t matter” as a teenager in the 80’s. He also lost his father at a young age to suicide which is sure to make this journey a bit more difficult down the road.

We follow the pair through high school and into their twenties as they finally attempt to patiently put together the perfect band. What I love about this book so far is how they portray the often epic journey of forming a band. I’ve seen comic books in the past try to hit the right notes on the topic but it’s never truly felt authentic in the approach. This however is a highly relatable story and it makes me wonder if writer Holly Interlandi has experience herself? It showcases the highs and lows of attempting a band, which is nearly identical to being in a one on one relationship with a lover. In the beginning it’s filled with excitement and passion but often times those initial feelings are hit with the realities of the world. Egos and personalities collide as time marches on.

This one captures the feelings of being in a band when the world is your oyster or at least that’s what we believed. It starts off giving us a look at what appears to be the band in the aftermath of a nasty break up. How could these two inseparable best friends have gotten to such a negative space in life? Well the first issue gives us a glimpse into the trouble that likely lies ahead and does so with a strong sense of melancholic urgency on the sidelines. There’s a lot to digest here as we get a pretty strong look into the characters hopes, dreams & impending fears.

‘Last Song’ has some serious substance to it, yeah I enjoyed the book’s extended length (ah..if only all single issue comic books were this long and meaningful), simply because I’m a bit tired of reading a new comic book that literally takes 5 minutes to breeze through that costs 4-5 bucks. It’s also got some excellent black & white artwork from Sally Cantirino as well that fit’s the book’s vibe immaculately. You get your money’s worth. I’m totally eager to check out what happens next here, to me a band breaking up can be just as devastating and heartbreaking as a split between lovers. So I’m curious where this all goes and just exactly what goes down. Check it out, even if you’ve never tried to rock your life away in a band, but if you have it’ll most definitely strike a familiar chord. A great read….the only bad thing about this is now I really wanna hear what their band sounds like!!!

 

The 10 Most Important Ingredients for an Epic D&D Adventure!

Joining or starting a new Dungeons & Dragons or table top RPG? Wanna make sure you have a great time? Here are 10 things to seriously consider as a player character (PC) or Dungeon Master before committing to the grand adventure. Some of them you might think are common sense but you’d be surprised how many people overlook these important guidelines. I’ve been playing for years on both sides of the table and have found from my experience in the dungeon that a recipe for a successful RPG adventure isn’t quite as simple to achieve as some might be lead to believe. There are a lot of factors that seriously enhance or hinder the experience from becoming the ultimate form of escapism many of us role playing nerds deeply desire. So let’s get started!!

10. Like Minded Adventurers:

Ok, over the years I’ve learned this is easily one of the most important factors for having a truly amazing experience playing table top RPGs. It’s extremely important to really think about just who it is that you’ll be spending hours of your time with trying to trudge through the dangerous and magical realms of the dungeon. I’m not talking about whether or not someone is going to be a wizard or a paladin. I’m talking about the real people you choose to add to the group or the group you join. Make sure everyone who’s joining wants the same thing from the experience.

It’s totally cool to have a group of people who’re getting together to party, hang out and casually roll some dice BUT if you’ve got a mixture of people, some who’re looking to pay attention to the details and really immerse themselves into the story you’re likely to have some unhappy campers among the group. This can also be extremely frustrating for the DM when preparing specific details & important plot points to have a crew of people partying too damn hard to remember what happened the prior week. Make sure everyone in the group is looking for a similar experience. Whether it’s a lighter party style game or a more serious role playing session. Talk this over before starting and maybe keep the first adventure short with a new crew to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you don’t address this it could make for some awkward moments later down the line and likely some seriously frustrated gamers.  

 

9. A Bad Ass Dungeon Master:

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