Category: bad movies

The Northwoods of Wisconsin’s 1980s Horror Films & FANGORIA Connection?!

I just visited my old stompin’ grounds up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin & it peaked my interest into a specific window of time in the late 1980s & early 90s when apparently horror movie productions were a hot commodity up there-Fangoria was on the cutting edge of “cheesehead” fright flicks! Who knew? So waaaay up north there’s a cluster of small towns, Eagle River, Three Lakes, Sugar Camp & Rhinelander that were the main staple in filming many of these late 80’s early 90’s horror films. There was a unique studio all the way from the UK that oddly made it’s headquarters somewhere between this little group of cities. My mom currently lives in Three lakes (we had a cottage on a lake there since the 80s, my dad grew up there, my Aunt does too and owns a property in Sugar Camp & my mom also just bough a property in Rhinelander) alas I have spent a LOT of time there throughout my life. In fact I was just up there for an entire month. However I never suspected it was a mini horror mecca until recently. Why? Well let’s find out! Wisconsinite horror fanatics, this one’s for YOU!

Windsor Lake Studios which was based in Eagle River, Wisconsin, (I’ve heard possibly Sugar Camp Wisconsin too?) population 1300, produced a number of films for Fangoria and a few other smaller VHS only companies, though a few actually have made it onto blu ray over the past few years. Oddly only one of the trio of Fangoria Films releases have seen blu ray releases. At the time it was a big deal in the horror community when they started producing their own movies. It’s strange to me how or why a movie studio that produced predominantly horror flicks was open and operational in this tiny region nestled in the thick of the Northwoods and it’s plentiful chain of lakes. It’s definitely NOT Hollywood in the Northwoods-I can fully attest to that! That being said you just might run into a Rhinelander, Hodag (pictured below) in the woods if you’re lucky enough..

Windsor Lake Studio was started in 1987 and attracted the talent of Eagle River native Hank Carlson, only a teen at the time but had ambitions to be the “next Tom Savini”. He went on to become quite an impressive practical fx artist getting his start at Winsdor Lake by being annoyingly persistent, visiting the studio property many times though univited. There’s a great interview with him right here for all of you locals who want the scoop on this regional horror legend. He also gives some excellent perspective in the commentary of the Arrow Video blu ray’s for ‘Trapped Alive’  & ‘The Chill Factor’. The three owners of the studio were from the UK and producers of major Hollywood hits ‘Heathers’ and more notably ‘Hellraiser’ & ‘Hellraiser II: Hellbound’. Apparently the premiere for ‘Hellraiser’ happened at the Vilas theater in small town Eagle River where Hank Carlson worked. I wish I’d have known that back then dammit!

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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!

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!

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?!

 

‘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!

Bizarre Holiday Viewing from New Zealand: 1981’s The MONSTER’S CHRISTMAS!

OK Are you reeeeeally looking for something to watch that’s truly off the beaten path to this holiday season?! Look no further, the 1981 lost classic ‘The Monster’s Christmas’ all the way from New Zealand will stuff your stocking with some truly bizarre yuletide treats!

 This is a genuine bonafide oddball all the way from New Zealand that sort of feels like a fucked up version of HR Pufnstuf. The monster’s Christmas features some pretty genuinely impressive fully disturbing creatures for a kid’s Christmas special. I mean take a look at this guy hes one of the most frightening things I’ve seen probably in the last decade! 

 That’s “Mr. Nasty” the creepiest henchman of an “evil” witch who is obsessed with exercising, who lives inside of a mountain deep within a beautiful natural cavern. But I guess I’m jumping ahead little too quickly here. Our story starts out on Christmas Eve with the cutest little New Zealander you’ve ever seen, who just happens to be reading a book called ‘The Monster’s Christmas’ to her Teddy bear before bed. If this is a real book, I need to find a copy ASAP!

However it doesn’t take long before she’s awoken by a noise in her living room and instead of finding Santa there’s a giant green cyclops monster with a smokestack on the top of his noggin and some sort of creepy floral oozin’ eye. She agrees to help him out with the evil wicked witch who threatens the monsters world. The little girl quickly decides to go on a bizarre little adventure that ends up being almost like a travel video to some spectacular New Zealand locales that masquerade quite nicely for the monsters world. Only one thing, she’s got to get home by Christmas day!

 This is probably one of my favorite new discoveries especially for Christmas viewing in 2022. Filled with some beautiful locations, a wondrerful main character and even a few charming little songs thrown in for good measure. But let’s be honest here it’s mostly about the freaky ass monsters presented on screen! They’re all pretty awesome and it’s a crime this little holiday special doesn’t have a HUGE cult following. I think it’s ripe for a fancy ass blu ray release – Vinegar Syndrome are you game or WHAT?

Ok so as I mentioned before Mr. Nasty is one creepy character, he’s some sort of strange hybrid of a human, a mole and a bat. He is a truly terrifying creation but he’s completely loyal to the wicked witch, who by the way has her own complete personal gym inside of her cave! And believe me she gets some great use out of it!

She’s quite charming as she spends most of her free time trying to get fit and is dressed to the nines in regal 1980s aerobic garb! Pretty much everything about this little 45 minute feature is utterly bizarre and hits all of the right beats to make something truly obscure that is an absolute must add to your Christmas viewing! I’d say this one’s perfect for the kids although Mr. Nasty, be warned is quite the embodiment of a living breathing nightmare. He sorta steals the show..

If you’re a fan of obscure bizarre yuletide viewing I highly recommend tracking The Monster’s Chtistmas down and watching it this year. I just found a full version of it is available now on YouTube or you can add it to your collection by getting the dvd which I highly recommend. If anyone has an extra copy of the VHS please send me one!  Oh yeah, thank you New Zealand!

 

 

Bizzaro Lost 90’s Christmas Flick: FANTASTIC GAMES is a Holiday Fever Dream!

Are you looking for something truly bizarre to watch this holiday season? Well you’ve definitely come to the right damn place, as I recently ran across a movie from 1998 that takes place on Christmas Eve and is just about as wildly perplexing and insane as they come!

‘Fantastic Games’ is a movie that’s passed through the years almost completely unwatched by anyone, save for a few die hards of weird-o cinema on Letterboxd! Director Alvaro Passeri crafted a cool little practical effects heavy monster flick from 1994 called ‘Creatures from the Abyss‘ AKA ‘Plankton’ that much like ‘Fantastic Games’ has also gone many years oddly without a cult following, it’s a pretty fun stupid little practical fx heavy creature feature that deserves a much wider audience in my opinion.

Fantastic Games (which is only available to watch on YouTube for some reason) revolves around a family during a snowy Christmas Eve trying to take care of their sick daughter. Her father on top of it all is missing, trapped out in the cold winter night somewhere and a weird family “friend” pops in during the snow storm with some clearly ulterior motives.

Her brother insists on reading her a crazy colorfully cosmic adventure story from a strange book that materializes on screen in all of it’s wacky epic glory & barely makes a lick of freakin’ sense. About 15  Minutes into this movie I didn’t know what the flying fuck was going on! However it’s such a delicious visual treat to lay your eyes upon it really doesn’t matter. Basically it involves a teenage girl who flies on a surfboard through space with her dog companion Toby. Sort of mirroring a “Dorothy and Toto” type a trope.

She gets mixed up in some sort of “live action” video game I guess you could refer to it as a “fantastic game” set forth by some weird ornery horned alien villain with a shiny plate glass face who loves to yell at people any chance he gets.

I’m guessing it’s trying to replicate the magic of ‘The Neverending Story’, to intensely up the ante with its cadre of creatures, satanic skeleton filled caverns, creepy puppet faced space wizards and just about any reason to display some sort of fever-dreamlike special fx sequence.

The amount of effort the director must have put in to this truly inventive yet incredibly incoherent little visual feast is really quite ambitious. Viewing this for the 1st time left me scratching my head on just how this strange psychotronic nineties oddity has passed everyone by for so many years without a peep from genre fanatics. 

I’d say this one’s in desperate need of a blu ray restoration and a big modern day cult following. It’s the type of movie you wanna watch with a gang of cinema junkies & plenty of merry drinks during the holidays!  It features more than enough Christmas visuals too to qualify as a bonafide holiday gem.

However it’s easily one of the most perplexing and confusing pieces of cinema I viewed in some time. Get ready to behold some weird shit, like the meek little dog companion Tony extinguish a raging fire in the pits of hell with his own pee! All bets are off on how these two are gonna survive and further to the finish line of the sinister “Fantastic” game. The events that happen in this creepy world also seem to be mirroring the fever of the sick girl and troubling family events on Christmas Eve.

It’s a pretty interesting to watch how this all unfolds- even though it doesn’t make really sense.  Imagine a sort of D-list Terry Gilliam style wacko cinescape that thrives to be bigger and more boisterous visually but plotwise more incohesive while not giving a damn. Director Alvaro Passeri is either a madman or a incredibly underrated visionary waiting for a legion of fans who salivate for something straight out of a nightmare.

Check out his website and you tell me that this guy isn’t perhaps a secret genius: He’s clearly a master of practical effects and an inventor of some of the weirdest shit I’ve seen in a long time, check this out if you doubt me:

Clearly a Renaissance man of bizarre proportions, I see good things on the horizon for Paserri once word finally gets out about his unique secret cinematic achievements and oddball inventions. So this Christmas season why don’t you take a trippy trip into his strange holiday nightmare world of Fantastic Games. You can watch the whole movie right here! 

 

 

 

Typhoon the Baboon: 1980s Animal Actor Extrodanaire!

Typhoon the Baboon has quickly risen to the top of my list as one of my favorite animal actors/cult characters of the 1980s! I was lucky enough put together a VHS swap last weekend at the iconic Cinemagic Theater right here in Portland, Oregon for their monthly VHS movie nite. The first Friday of every month they show a movie straight from VHS and project it on to the big screen. This week they were showing something I’ve never seen before from 1986 called ‘Unmasking The Idol’. I really wasn’t sure what to expect but what I ended up with was a glorious cult cinematic treasure to behold for the very first time from director Worth Keeter. I heard there was a baboon in this James Bond/Indiana Jones-ish action mash up, but nothing could prepare me for the ultimate primate-Typhoon!

Now come to find out Typhoon had also landed the lead role in the 1990 cult classic primate slasher flick: ‘Shakma’! I actually really dig that movie, it’s a pretty well done but ridiculous, fantasy game/LARPING in an office building with a batshit crazy baboon taking out nerds left and right piece of cinematic trash. Little did I know Shakma (Typhoon) was an action star before becoming a low brow horror icon! 

His role in “Unmasking” is pretty hilarious, Typhoon or “Boon” in the movie excels in hand to hand combat, throws bombs, shoots guns, wears suits and compulsively flicks people off like a true champ! The movie without Boon, would still be a riot, but with him as part of an elite team of ninja mercenaries really makes this movie one for the books. A wild ride of 80s action insanity, full of idioticly charming pulpy plot lines, babes and most importantly BOON!

 So after viewing Unmasking the Idol I felt a little sad that I’d most likely witnessed my last experience with Boon. However I was quickly alerted to the fact that this movie had a sequel from 1987 called ‘Order of the Black Eagle’ and indeed featured the star primate in the role once again! Apparently this time around though his role is a bit limited but I did hear that it features him driving around a miniature tank & blowing the shit out of Nazis! So yeah that’s next on my list for SURE.

Doing a little more investigating on Letterboxd I also found out that he makes an appearance in ‘The Fly’ with Jeff Goldblum?! Damn this guy’s got a pretty good filmography under his belt! I guess that one’s just gotta get a rewatch soon, especially due to it being the Halloween season AND to see Typhoon’s performance through a new lense.

Apparently Typhoon was able to follow simple commands quite well and even his role in Shakma where he portrayed a violent memesis he was merely shown food from an open door and then let loose when the door was closed. Naturally Typhoon being excited about the food would pound and smash on the door like a berserk maniac creating quite a stir on camera.

There’s actually a pretty cool & extensive article about his performance in ‘Shakma’ that’s worth a read if you’re interested in his acting career. Now I  don’t want to make it all sound like working with Typhoon was always a pleasant experience, though it’s reported that he had quite a loving connection with his trainer here’s what David Cronenberg had to say about his experience directing him: “They’re very volatile, and there’s no such thing as a tame baboon, Jeff, because he was much bigger and stronger than the baboon, was able to dominate him, and the baboon’s wrangler said it was a good thing that the baboon formed that relationship….Otherwise there could have been big trouble on the set with some of the female members of the crew.” Umm…no Jeff Goldblum is NOT stronger than a baboon, if they get pissed they will fuck you up! They are indeed many times stronger than a human….

I also don’t want to give Typhoon a bad rap because lots of actors can be sort of grumpy on set. Everyone has flaws, even Typhoon. I did a little poking around and couldn’t find any more information about him being curious about how long he lived, with no results. So at this point I’m going to just believe that he’s out there, still alive planning his next big movie come back! ‘Unmasking The Idol’ has just been released on blu ray via Vinegar Syndrome too!!

 

 

 

She-Hulk Ruins The Great Lakes Avengers’ MR. IMMORTAL?!

OMG! Disney Plus MCU really does make dreams come true?! I’ve been begging for the appearance of the Great Lakes Avengers, one of my favorite ridiculous “D-lister” comic book teams to appear in their cinematic universe for years. Today on the latest episode of SHE-HULK they gave us the live action version of the classic GLA team member/founder Mr. Immortal.

Unfortunately they of course, completely ruined the character, Craig Hollis, transforming him from a frumpy but charismatic, misunderstood, misfit, underdog superhero to a pompous, rich, lame, uninterseting, selfish old prick. Yet another unlikable character to add to the shows already long list of IMO crappy cast members.

Mr. Immortal from the comic books was a poor, down on his luck, extremely depressed person who mustered up the strength and courage to form a team of misfit superheroes at his local YMCA  thrrough ads in the local paper’s want ads.

Being a native of Wisconsin of I’d always found this team particularly endearing being based in Milwaukee. The Midwest never got to have cool superheroes & their origin story, I always imagined, would be a unique one to see unfold on the big or small screen. Even the Russo brothers who helmed Avengers: Endgame/Infinity War had recently suggested the team would make a great addition to the Marvel cinematic universe. I really couldn’t agree more, there’s so much  fun to be had with them…

So unfortunately everything on these terrible Disney MCU TV streaming shows seems to be cannon. Yep they have indeed officially ruined the character and likely any hope for a Great Lakes Avengers show to ever materialize.

Apparently they even inserted a QR code into the episode when the character appears which will lead you to West Coast Avengers #46, the 1st appearance of the team just to rub it in all of our faces..

If you’re going to change a character this much from the comic book version why not just avoid it alltogether and introduce someone different in the role? Ughh..After watching this pathetic attempt at comedy today, I can honestly now confidently say that She-Hulk is easily one of the worst things I have seen in the MCU.  It’s absolutely incredible how “funny” they think their show is too, when in reality I think it’s completely possible that these scripts are being generated by AI. It also leads me on to believe another sad fact, if you were a die hard fan of the classic Marvel Comics, the current version at least of the MCU is most definitely NOT for you. 

Hey I’m probably the only person out there who actually gives a damn about The Great Lakes Avengers or Mr. Immortal, but this one kind of hurt. They already completely ruined the live action version of The Wrecking Crew in this series so it’s no surprise I guess.

So at the end of the day I guess I really don’t care because The Great Lakes Avengers were always destined to fail. Especially if they were introduced into the current version of the MCU. They’d never have the guts to actually tell their truly unique darkly comedic origin story on their platform anyway. That all being said, if you’re diggin’ She-Hulk I’m really happy for you, no ill will there, continue on, however the exit from the MCU for me is looking much closer than it ever has before…