Looking for a ridiculously entertaining Halloween “party movie” this year to watch with a group of friends and a few cold ones? Well look no further, ‘Empire of the Dark’ from 1990 is one helluva great time for a gang of rowdy cinefiles. It’s written, produced, edited & directed by it’s star, the highly unlikely action hero Steve Barkett! Yeah Barkett’s vision here is obviously to put himself smack dab in the middle of full on ridiculous, over the top action, horror, drama and ultra cheez’d out romance. As the true jack of all trades in front of and behind the camera Barkett admittedly has a certain undeniable charm about him, an almost vintage Shatner-esque way of moving through the mayhem. He’s certainly NOT your typical action hero, the slightly out of shape, sweatpants wearing, ass kicker doesn’t need to fit the mold as he’s clearly got enough passion in the project to prove all the naysayers wrong. At least he tries his damndest!
Everything about this movie is highly ambitious, as he clearly didn’t have a gigantic budget, he fully utilizes every trick in the book to attempt to make this one as epic looking as possible. Sometimes it actually works too, he’s got monster cult members, a huge stop motion/puppet demon and a few set pieces that have me scratching my head wondering just how the hell he pulled some of this all off at all. The plot too is pretty sweet as well, we’ve got heroic policeman (Steve Barkett of COURSE!) who steps through a time vortex to a different dimension to save the woman he loves (whom he was having an affair with) and her newborn baby from a “sinister” satanic cult.
He escapes the cult saving only the baby, leaving his lover behind to die and we flash forward 20 years later. Barkett is now an ex-cop master swordsman, who still longs for his past love. That doesn’t stop him from being quite the ladies man of course, Barkett has surely got some pick up lines that wouldn’t fly today. We follow him as he slowly becomes convinced his lost love is somehow still alive and that the sinister cult has indeed returned to wreck havoc in the small town. From this point on things get even more ridiculous in the most charmingly idiotic ways. Bad sword fights, a terrible training montage, “steamy” sex scenes, supernatural encounters and utterly moronic dialogue make this one the perfect Halloween party movie.
Barkett clearly had a solid vision for this little ridiculous adventure as it’s jammed packed with “interesting” characters, some surprisingly solid special fx for the time, babes, monsters and even some sweet gore. Barkett even goes the distance with the romance making sure his character has plenty of it on display as well as some solidly stupid attempts at drama. The whole thing is a giant damn ball of idiotic fun, a full on Steve Barkett vanity project that was a true pleasure to watch for the first time. If you’re a fan of stuff like ‘Troll 2’ or ‘The Room’ then you’ve got to hunt this one down, it’s a better great bad movie than both!! Grab a copy on dvd HERE!!
I’ve been checking out a lot of 1980’s and 90’s foreign horror movies lately and the ones from Hong Kong are most definitely the most outrageous of them all. 1992’s ‘Wizard’s Curse’ is certainly proof of that, a mix of raunchy sex comedy, horror, fantasy and action all rolled into one big weird ball. A pair of “on the run” criminal lovers rumored to be practitioners of dark magic are hunted down by local police lead by a taoist priest. Using his own unique supernatural abilities he aids the cops, managing to personally slay them both. Soon after, a local cult leader resurrects their spirits into a one shared physical body, granting them superhuman powers & leaving them thirsting for human brains. They set out on a mission, to track down the priest for revenge and seeking to eat the brains of a virgin to gain ultimate powers of evil. This sets into motion a chase as the priest battles them to protect his daughter and the life of a tuff guy virgin cop who becomes entangled in the case.
Yeah it’s a weird one. It features Ching-Ying Lam better known for his role in the iconic ‘Mr. Vampire’ movies of the 1980’s as the even tempered ass kickin’ priest. The bad guy & girl share one body, change sexes at random & wear a totally 80’s leather clad outfit that’d make ‘The Terminator’ jealous. They rip though Hong Kong eating brains and murdering people with a huge glowing phallus, that’s used most of the time like a super powered snake like battering ram. There’s some really great 80’s style fx work going here, creepy moments and some frenetic action sequences keep Wizard’s curse moving at a brisk pace. Together (literally) they make a unique villain and the camera tricks utilized to make inhabit the same body are a lot of fun as well.
Ching-Ying Lam never disappoints with his kung fu either, he’s one of the best and there’s some incredibly fun supernatural kung fu battles to behold. However the movie is also entirely unsure of what it wants to be as it’s littered with sex & dick jokes when you least expect it. A lot of these Hong Kong horror movies of that era go lots of different directions and while it certainly makes things interesting this one could have really benefitted by keeping the raunchy comedy to a bare minimum. Also watching the movie with it’s rudimentary english subtitles leads me to believe the comedy may have played better if I’d have actually understood the language they’re speaking. My bad.
At the end of the day though, I definitely do recommend ‘Wizard’s Curse’, if even just for it’s sheer absurdity alone. Though it was released in 1992 it feels one hundred percent 80’s. Lots of neon, cool clothing, real stunts and a ton of 80’s FX work make it a unique little movie that never gets sleepy. It’s also filled with plenty of non PC “comedy” mostly revolving around sex yet never ends up being overly offensive some how. I liked the role of the virgin too being the wise crackin’ cop instead of the priests daughter, who regularly spends her time dodging super creepy advance & ploys from mega douchey men. The movie’s finale is pretty fun too as the Taoist Priest is forced to team up with his hilarious ex-wife who’s also a bad ass magician. And of course the movie’s final moment gag hinges on an over the top sex joke. If you’re looking for an utterly odd hybrid horror movie check this one out, it’s got a lot of weird ass shit going for it, if that’s your cup of tea!
l’m BACK & I never saw this one coming: for some reason I decided it was time to finally check out ‘976-EVIL Part 2: The Astral Factor’, which I’ve literally been putting off for years & what a sweet little horror flick indeed! I like part two so much I’d say it’s definitely more fun than the original. There’s a big difference here in directorial duties, the first installment featured horror legend Robert “Freddy” Englund in the director’s chair for the first of only two times, while part 2 features Jim ‘Chopping Mall’ Wynorski. Yeah Wynorski being at the helm here immediately got me amped, as he’s done some pretty undeniably awesomely cheezy 80’s flicks besides just Chopping Mall. A few of my favorites like Return of the Swamp Thing, Hard To Die, Not of This Earth, Sorority House Massacre 2 & Deathstalker 2, so it’s no surprise really that 1991’s ‘976-EVIL 2’ delivers a similar formula only this time we find him playing the horror a bit more straight, at least in by his standards like he did in ‘Chopping Mall’.
We’ve got one of the the stars of the first movie back as well, Patrick O’Brien returns as ‘Spike’, who now roams the back roads of the USA ridin’ on his bad ass chopper, clad in tuff black leather. Yep a total “bad ass dude” for sure after the events of the last installment…That evil phone number is out there, still tormenting people randomly, calling pay phones & a college professor ends up the prime target of evil when he picks up! Soon the local college campus is being terrorized by a crazy supernatural slasher & a curious student named Robin decides to take on the case. Of course bad ass Spike rolls into town on his hog looking for trouble, meeting Robin and immediately decides to help her sleuth out the case.
One of my favorite aspects of the ‘976-Evil 2’ is the villain played by Rod McCary, the evil professor uses astral projection to hunt down his victims. Most of the movie he’s locked up in the county jail and uses his creepy supernaturally powered astral body to do the damn dirty work! He also utilizes the ‘976-Evil hotline’ to mess up the college kids and all of it is a ton of fun to behold. The movie opening sequence sets the perfect tone of schlocky fun that rarely lets up throughout it’s run time making this one a nice lean cheezy supernatural adventure.
It’s surprisingly solid (and admittedly stupid quite often) with some really fun, spooky 80’s style fx I just can’t seem to get enuff of, some fairly ambitious action sequences and some good ol’ explosions. There’s also an excellent sequence where a college girl gets sucked into her TV set and arrives on the scenes of It’s a Wonderful Life & Night of the Living Dead that makes the movie worth a watch alone. Also expect a ton of babes n’ beefcakes, even a super kick ass cameo sequence by an ultra sexy, sultry Brigitte Nielson!
If you’re a Wynorski fan and haven’t checked this out I highly recommend, if you’re just looking for a great party horror flick this one a damn good choice! Who’d a thunk it?!
Ok it’s summer time and I’m gonna admit, I’ve been slackin’ on the blog lately! I’m sure you all’ve missed me sooooo much right?! Well anyway I’m throwing down some mini reviews of some of the movies I’ve checked out recently this last coupla’ weeks! So with out further adieu!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
I really enjoy when a new Tarantino movie drops at the theater, let’s face it, he’s really one of the only big filmmakers that puts out interesting often risky movies to the mainstream these days, love him or hate him. Most bigger Hollywood movies are far too safe and generally feel like their plots have been drawn up by researching what’s been trending on Twitter. Well ‘Once Upon a ‘Time in Hollywood’ doesn’t follow the rules and it’s super refreshing for that simple reason alone. This one feels like a slice of life in a long gone era of movie stars with a very loose plot that ties up in a bloody bow by it’s stunning finale. It’s filled with colorful unique characters and some familiar faces from Hollywood’s past. The Bruce Lee scene has a lot of controversy around it, mainly concerning his portrayal not being accurate to real life. But hey, c’mon it’s a Tarantino movie, does anyone really think it’s going to be a damn biopic?!! Tarantino hit’s another home run more or less in my opinion with a movie that’s truly a breath of fresh air in a barrage of mindless, soul-less Hollywood cash grabs!
Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)
This is the latest Simon Pegg / Nick Frost horror comedy if that means anything to anyone anymore in 2019? Well surprisingly this neat little creature feature was actually a pretty sweet little spur of the moment rental from Redbox. Basically a kid heads off to a snooty private school out in the middle of nowhere England. There he finds that a fracking company is digging deep in the nearby forest looking for natural gas and accidentally frees a gang of hungry monsters from the earth’s crust. Nick Frost plays a hippie activist guy who’s looking to shut down the frackers and Pegg plays a pathetic teacher at the school obsessed with his ex co-worker Margo Robbie, with whom he had a brief fling with. The movie’s got some neat practical creature fx, good action sequences & pretty decent humor as well. Not nearly quite as awesome as their previous team up flicks but most definitely worth a watch for monster movie fans.
Beyond the Seventh Door (1987)
Here’s a pretty sweet 80’s movie that’s def worth a watch with a gang of rowdy cinefiles and a case of beer! Starring Lazar Rockwood(what a name!), who somehow manages to capture that same moronic charm as The Room’s Tommy Wiseau! Yep, Lazar is quite a guy to say the least and this movie’s a long lost gem of a bad movie. Basically Rockwood is an ex criminal who’s looking for a big time heist teaming up with his ex girlfriend and plans to bust into a nearby mansion to get the ultimate goods! There he and his “girlfriend” face “seven deadly curses” each…behind a door together masterminded by an evil billionaire in a wheel chair! James Wan clearly used this as the template for the damn ‘Saw’ franchise-I just know it! Anyway there’s some truly idiotic stuff going on here, and Lazar is in the thick of these dangerouschallenges! He’s the hero you never knew you needed and he’s clearly got the most sex appeal to seduce a woman in the most awkward of moments. Check this out if you dig movies that are truly so damn bad that they’re awesome!
Holy shit, I finally checked this out and as a BIG fan of the comic books and the del Toro movies (even though they aren’t comic accurate) I’ve gotta say, this was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in maybe the last two decades. Going into this I was actually half expecting to like it for the possible campy-ness I’d heard about it. Nope!! This was just a downright powerfully painful experience, It was so bad I couldn’t make it past the hour mark. It’s been a while since I’ve actually turned off a movie because it was truly legit terrible. Sometimes I do it if it’s boring, but this was next level horse shit for sure. Absolutely wretched plot, terrible pacing, fully unlikable characters (trying to be edgy with F-words galore) & beyond shitty CGI fx that look like they were pulled from a bad third rate 90’s horror movie. I just can’t believe Neil Marshall who helmed two of the best horror movies of the last 2 decades (Dog Soldiers & The Descent) fucked this thing up so, so, so damn bad. I was so pumped to hear he was doing the movie and really saddened that he single handedly ruined Hellboy for the big screen for who know how long. This was a fully pathetic attempt at movie making and to be honest I thought David Harbour sucked in the role!!
I’m a big fan of horror anthologies and was pretty excited to check this one out as it’s got a great VHS cover. Well as a lot of 80’s horror anthologies go, most aren’t much to write home about. Nightmares almost falls into that category, like many of these movies they usually deliver one good chapter at least. For Nightmares that one’s the second installment, starring Emilio Estevez who plays a video game obsessed teenager who hangs out in arcades all day blaring punk rock tapes on his walkman. He literally battles an arcade game one night when he breaks into the local arcade late one night. I mean that the video game comes to life and he fights the graphics in real life. It’s a pretty cool little segment that oozes with the 1980’s in the best way. The rest of the stories however are pretty standard made for tv type of stuff 9as that is apparently what this thing was supposed to be, a made for ABC tv Twilight Zone type series that didn’t make it to prime time). The last story’s about an “evil” killer rat and features such a fully terrible finale it’s almost worth the uneventful wait. Talk about the worst evil killer monster rat FX of all time! This one’s got it FOR SURE! Anyway if you just can’t get enuff of 80’s horror anthologies you might wanna check it out at least for the video game segment but Creepshow this one is NOT!
So it’s no secret that the summer blockbusters of 2019 have been underperforming at the box office this year, unless you’re a Marvel movie there’s a good chance you just ain’t makin’ the boatloads of easy cash off of eager hungry consumers like you used to!! So far we’ve had some big flops and under performers in theaters this summer, Hellboy, X-men: Dark Phoenix, Men In Black International, Godzilla: King of The Monsters, Shaft and I’m sure a few more flops to come.
It almost seems that after the extravaganza of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ people just ain’t that impressed with what Hollywood’s a pushin’! So what the heck gives here? I’ve got 5 reasons why I think people just ain’t buyin’ what big ol’ Hollywood’s selling!
Bland, Soulless, Predictable & Safe Storytelling
One thing I’ve noticed over the recent years is that these big ass summer blockbusters don’t bring much new to the table, instead of setting trends they now play off of what’s trending on social media etc to try and ensure they make maximum profit. It’s clear to audiences that they’re being marketed to and a lot of the themes we see in current movies feel a bit forced into the narrative. The plot lines feel predictable & safe, being very careful not to push the boundaries. However, nobody likes to feel pandered to, especially just to make a quick buck. Today Hollywood blockbusters feel a bit too calculated, like a Mcdonald’s happy meal version of a movie. It tastes good for a moment but doesn’t provide much real nourishment. These huge movies need to set trends again and take more risks. Most of these stories being told on the big screen now follow a rigid formula, it’s time to shake things up a bit and develop some compelling content that will blow audiences minds & keep them thinking long after they leave the theater.
Cinematic Politics & Social Media Movie Battles
Sure social media can be a cool way to connect with friends all over the world but it’s also caused a major political rift in movie fans, especially online. Everyone has a damn platform and everyone’s ready to state their opinion for the whole world to hear. The landscape of politics (here in the USA at least) is a gigantic mess, people are more than ready to call each other names and insult each others political beliefs any chance they can and then some. If you’ve noticed now there’re Youtube channels whose main focus is to tear down movies that they feel promote left leaning agendas and vice versa. Now we’ve got boycotts & petitions galore that are raging against movies from angry fans who think they’re promoting a threatening political views. We’ve got Hollywood directors & industry people arguing with angry fans on twitter about their movies and political leanings. When a movie’s released people immediately jump in to examine what side of the political spectrum it falls upon & then get bent out of shape about it on their social media platforms. Most claim they want to go to the movies to escape from the worries of today’s society, but people are so divided (and making good profit off that anger on their platforms) these days and I’m not seeing this trend dying down any time soon. At least until we get a new damn President!
Poorly Planned Franchise Reboots & Sequels
There’s a lot of bad, uninspired franchise sequels and reboots out there these days making their way into theaters. Hollywood is trying their hardest to capitalize off of nostalgia these days. It seems they think that if they simply slap say ‘Star Wars’ brand on a movie that it’s gonna mean butts in seats at the cinema. Not the case, people are clearly smarter these days when it comes to their choice of entertainment. Lots of franchises attempting to reboot with younger “hip” stars and leaving the old actors in the dust. I mean what really is ‘Men in Black’ without Will Smith? How about Star Wars with crusty old grumpy Luke Skywalker that barely lifts a finger in the movie? Or the Ghostbusters without any of the original characters starring in it to properly pass the torch? Hollywood is a bit clueless when it comes to how to execute these sequels, fans want to see a respectful portrayal of classic older characters who’re set to pass the torch to younger generation. Some of these reboots/sequels actually seem downright disrespectful to the original characters, sweeping them under the rug as quickly as possible to usher in the new characters. There needs to be a class taught to all of these clueless Hollywood executives on how to successfully pass the torch in a franchise. If you take a crap on a beloved franchise the fans of it will roast your ass on social media. The fans today have more power than ever and it’s a new angle that’s got Hollywood baffled.
Spectacle over Story
It’s kinda crazy now, almost every blockbuster movie franchise has been trying to set up a cinematic universe because they think they can reap the same benefits as the MCU does. However what most of these franchises get wrong is that they simply haven’t spent the time worldbuilding building the way Marvel has over the the last 10 plus years. Most of these failing franchises spend their movie’s runtime trying to set up the next sequels rather than telling a compelling story with top notch character development. Instead they simply litter the movie with a bunch of shiny, glossy CGI & flashy explosions convinced that lone is enough to entice movie goers to get all amped up for their planned spinoffs. Well listen up Hollywood, going to the theaters is expensive and people just aren’t as dumb as you seem to think they are, yeah we got options these days with all the streaming content out there. Movies better step it with their storytelling otherwise we’re gonna stay home! So many of these franchise are dumbed down to a level that just won’t entice the masses like they used to. We want original stories, not rehashed plots from previous movies in the franchise. Sure the spectacle can be fun, but there’s a certain over saturation of mind numbing movies out there now and yours better be more than just fluff. Stop trying to predict what the masses are going to eat up and spend some time writing stories we haven’t already heard. Most of the movies feel like they’ve been looking at what’s trending on twitter and writing a story around that. I’ll say it again, Hollywood needs to set the trends again rather than blindly trying to follow them.
Star Power Ain’t What it Used to Be
Back in the 1980’s blockbusters were a just as big a deal but they usually had one thing going for them that’s missing today-star power. People would rush to the movies just to see Stallone or Schwarzennegar do their thing. It was an event. Not so much today, the days of larger than life celebs has somehow died, putting one of the stars of say the Avengers franchise in one doesn’t automatically equally box office gold. I’m not sure what changed over the years but people are far less starstruck than ever before. This means Hollywood has got try even harder to put something out that feels fresh and original, a good cast is still important but it’s clearly NOT a deal breaker anymore.
I’m gonna say it again, Game of Thrones: Season 8 was the worst final season in television history. Even somehow more unsatisfying than ‘Lost’! It’s clear that I’m NOT alone as the ‘Petition to Remake Game of Thrones‘ is already over one and a half million signatures!
There are so many problems with how this season went down, and it all really revolves around the terrible writing and pathetic execution of these last six episodes. The other day I saw an awesome video that quite perfectly explains just why it sucked so bad in the funniest way. Check out this “pitch meeting” from Screen Rant’s Ryan George as he completely nails it!!
So people seem quite up in arms about the latest season of Game of Thrones to put it lightly, it’s been pretty much everywhere online, more drama online than this season of the show could churn out! I’ve been thinking about it all for a few days now since watching Episode 5 and I think there’s really is something to all the anger towards the show writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Now that they’ve got no more writing from George R. R. Martin’s final book (which he still hasn’t finished) to base this season on, we get to finally see the writing chops of these two dudes in action. I’ve got a few major problems with what went down so far in the final season, most it being the execution of plot points by these guys, but some it of it indeed revolves around some shoddy ass writing.
One thing that now makes perfect sense is that David Benioff was actually a writer of easily one of the WORST movies in recent Hollywood history, 2009’s ‘X-men Origins: Wolverine’. If you’ve seen it, most unanimously agree, it’s one of the most pathetic movies to reach the major cinemas in recent times. Single handedly ruining Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Deadpool and Sabretooth all in one horribly executed, terribly written mess of a movie. It makes ‘X-Men 3’ feel like a god damn cinematic masterpiece. His buddy D.B. Weiss hasn’t written or directed much outside of GOT either. So it’s not all that surprising that this season feels a bit like a shit-storm to many today. SPOILERS AHEAD!
So I wanna point out a few things I think totally sucked about this final season so far, I realize that the internet is filled with GOT opinions right now so I’ll keep it all short. One of the BIGGEST problems for me is the handling the The Night King & the whitewalkers, seven damn seasons of fantastic mystery brewing around this incredibly intriguing and terrifying villain, then in one episode mid season it’s all over and nearly forgotten by the next episode. One of the things so many were most invested in was his true motivations. Would we see things from their perspective? Learn what fuels their rage towards the living? Find out what they really wanted from Bran? Actually hear The Night King speak his case with some real dialogue? Nope! The major supernatural threat of seven seasons was wiped from the plot in one murky battle and by the next episode everyone was back to acting like a bunch of spoiled babies after just surviving a possibly world ending event. Cersei wasn’t even affected by them in the least, but how awesome would it have been if The Night King and the Whitewalkers had shown up on her doorstep first and she had to flee to Jon Snow & Daenerys for help? Imagine the drama…Whatever the case the whitewalkers turned out to be a big ass nothing burger to say the least, a huge missed opportunity in my opinion. It actually felt as if the writers just wanted to quickly erase them from the last season for some reason.
The largely controversial Daenerys “mad queen” plot would have been fine with me, but the execution of it was seriously lacking the character development needed to add any real believability to her actions. She was majorly bummed off that most people seemed to love Jon Snow so much, but she’d just arrived on the scene, so I don’t know, maybe try and socialize a bit with everyone after the damn battle against the walkers?!! Geezus!! I’m sure this all must have been what George R. R. Martin had in mind ultimately (?) but if the writers expect me to believe Daenerys is then gonna go completely bonkers, exterminating a whole population of innocent, poor villagers, many of them children (who’ve already suffered under the rule of Sersei) you better have a lot more character development to occur to sell it. It all felt rushed & carelessly forced. I think it’d made a hell of a lot more sense if she’d went for Sersei directly in the battle with her rage, killed her personally or even better, captured her and viciously tortured her among the rest of her current crew. Reigning dragon’s fire upon the poor villagers who’ve already been punished for most of their existence was just not believable at this point. It felt like shock for pure shock value. The end of Sersei also felt anti-climactic, she never even shared any real dialogue with Daenerys & it felt for the most part like she was trying to commit certain suicide by her horrific slaying of Missandei. Whatever the case, this whole debacle mades perfect sense when I discovered that one tidbit of info that’d slipped through the cracks for me, David Benioff wrote the cinematic turd, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’…nuff said.