Category: childhood nostalgia

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…

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!

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!

 

 

Comic Cover of the Week: Jim Lee’s BIG Break- Samurai Santa!!

A skilled japanese martial artist masquerading as a department store Santa Clause isn’t what anyone thinks of when thinking of comic book icon Jim Lee. HOWEVER Samurai Santa one shot from 1986 was really his BIG break!

This cool little long forgotten indie comic book is perfect for the Christmas season! Jim Lee was the inker on this one shot holiday themed adventure, which eventually landed him a job with Marvel Comics on Alpha Flight in the late 80s. This is a cool little off the wall Christmas story and a sweet simple one for the season! It might be time to give this one a re-read and hey maybe someone needs to adapt it into a live action movie?!

 

INDIANA JONES 5 Trailer’s “Crystal Skull” Style VFX are TROUBLSOME!

So a few days ago we finally got the long awaited ‘Indiana Jones 5’ teaser trailer! Yes the final installment ‘The Dial of Destiny’ will indeed arrive in June of 2023. After the backlash of ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ from 2008 it’s been promised that we’d get a proper legit style Indiana Jones movie finally. Though that promise seems quite thin as the original creative team of Spielberg and George Lucas is nowhere to be seen this time around. It seems if I’m being honest with myself that Disney is now again going to give us, like they did with Star Wars, more of their bloated big budget fan fiction!

 I really don’t wanna be so negative here when it comes to sequels these days of beloved eighties franchises, but after watching this trailer a few times I’m quite worried. As I browsed YouTube for fan reactions it seems that I’m surely in the minority here. Almost everyone who viewed it seems to think that this looks like legit old school Indy. It makes me wonder if we were watching the same damn trailer? Now I’m not gonna say that it wasn’t a blast seeing and hearing Sallah again, of course I do wonder just how much he’s actually in the movie and if they’ve decided to not feature Ke Huy Kwan, aka “Shortround” then in my opinion this movie’s already made a major misstep for that alone. I’m willing to not jump to any major conclusions so far as it’s just a 2 minute trailer right?!

What I can say without a shadow of a doubt though is that the visual FX work here is borrowing heavily from the “Crystal Skull” playbook. Over the years I’ve grown to warm up to that movie (though deep down in my heart I know how truly disappointing it was), though it took some time and leniency, I was certain that director James Mangold was going to really do it justice giving us something that felt grounded in the reality of the original’s practical effects, locales and real sets. I’ve always felt that last installment really suffered from the clear overuse of wretched CGI and in my opinion it has no place anywhere near an Indiana Jones film. So I’m quite surprised that’s this new trailer relies so heavily on sub par computer graphics and obvious green screening.

What the hell are they thinking over there at Disney? The only real criticism I’ve seen are from YouTubers are from the legions of whom are obsessed with reporting and whining about “woke” elements being in Disney properties. They seem to be very triggered about Indiana Jones having a female sidekick here. These people in my opinion are just as irritating as the ones on the opposite side of the spectrum. None of them seem to have any real criticism about what’s being displayed so far on screen visually. So many of these scenes in the trailer look out of place, like him running on top of a train, riding on a damn horse and even the underwater skull and eels all look pretty cheaply rendered by digital technology. And those are only a few instances of the many questionable moments in the trailer. Even him jumping from one car to another looks like some sort of bad blurry CGI. What gives here? Is Hollywood completely uncapable of doing anything on set anymore?

The final Indiana Jones movie jam packed with sub par CGI again after all of the complaining about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Who the hell is greenlighting all of this shit? I often wonder is this just a cost issue? A corporation that has billions of dollars can’t afford to film on real sets with real actors with real practical effects and stunt work?  I’ve got a real bad feeling about this one…and we haven’t even gotten to the story yet.

 I’m also at this point getting a little tired of the whole de-aging deep fake techniques  that apparently are all the rage still. I would have much rather preferred Anthony Ingruber appearing in the role of a young Indiana Jones than some computer generated Harrison Ford mumbo jumbo face faking.

I would’ve surely preferred River Phoenix to have appeared as the younger version again if he’d still been alive. I’m really hoping this trend doesn’t replace the real actors portraying younger versions of a character.  I find all of this very troubling and at the very least was hoping for one last hurrah in the Indiana Jones universe that felt somewhat on the same level as the original trilogy. But I do understand how misguided Hollywood really is and for me to really expect anything different in this day and age is just a pipe dream, that keeps reaccurring over and over.. I’m really hoping that I’m proven wrong and I’m going to go in to this final installment as indifferent and neutral as possible, but hey if I’m gonna be honest so far this looks like a possible flamin’ turd in the making!

 

 

 

 

3 MUST See 80s Halloween GEMS from ‘Tales From The Darkside’!

Ok it’s ON!! Halloween time viewing is in FULL effect here at U-Dork so naturally we’ve gotta get our groove on with some often forgotten gems of Halloween that are an absolute essential watch- Especially if you’re a big fan of eighties horror! One of my favorite shows of that era, the brilliant horror anthology TV series Tales from the Darkside!

This 4 season series contains 3 of my all time favorite Halloween horror stories &  they’re so well done that if you put all of them together in a film anthology with a wrap-around plot line it’d make for probably one the best Halloween themed movies of the 1980s! So find these streaming this year or go do yourself a favor and buy the whole collection on dvd. Make sure though to bookmark these 3 this year and watch them all in a row.

First up ‘The Cutty Black Sow’ from Season 4 (1988).

This is easily gotta be one of the most terrifying episodes of of the series & also one of the strangest titles to boot. During Halloween a family is hit with the tragic death of a beloved grandmother. Just before she passes though she relays a cryptic warning to one of the children to beware of ‘the cutty black sow’ on All Hallows Eve, an evil demonic creature that seeks harm to the family and steal souls. This episode is filled with the sense of dread as a thick impending doom oozes through Halloween night air & the children wonder if their great grandmother’s warning is indeed one to be taken seriously. A creepy taut Halloween gem with a horrifying ending!

Second is ‘Halloween Candy’ from Season 2, (1985)

 Again one of the best episodes of the series hands down and directed by make up wizard/horror icon Tom Savini! This tale features a grumpy old man who absolutely loathes the Halloween season and more-so those pesky trick or treaters. However this Halloween he gets WAY more than he bargained for when an evil troll comes to his door asking for Halloween candy! This little monster is an absolute delight to behold, It’s clear that Savini has his FX work cut out for him as it’s one of the coolest little troll/goblin like creatures to hit the big or small screen. It’s also an incredibly creepy Halloween themed slice of horror, with a bit of a moral lesson at it’s core. It’s best not to be an asshole on All Hallows Eve especially if you live alone on a dark street & a weird trick-or-treater shows up in the dead of night. Filled with tense atmosphere and crafted by an icon, it’s no wonder this episode is a such TREAT!

Lastly is the very 1st episode of the entire series ‘Trick-or-Treat’ (1984) and in my opinion probably the best of the entire series altogether.

Co-written by George Romero and directed by well known actor Bob Balaban who also directed the 1989 cult horror film ‘Parents’, they give us a truly wicked Halloween adventure! A greedy old scrooge like miser basically runs a small town where everyone seems to be suffering and in debt to him. Every Halloween he opens the doors to his house of horrors where he geefully sits at a control booth, triggering terrifying sounds, traps & puppeteering animatronic creatures rigged to scare small children. This isn’t done to entertain the kids, it’s however a challenge to the smalltown children to search for the debts of their parents. If they find them, their families are forgiven of their monetary burdens. The old codger takes way too much sadistic pleasure in terrorizing the kids which makes this episode truly grim and unforgettable. He loves Halloween but for all the wrong reasons. Luckily in a turn of events he himself is faced with true terror and all bets are off this Halloween! Filled with incredible iconic horror imagery, thrills, heart and some amazing practical effects work this is the absolute standout must see episode of the series! It would also be the perfect finale for a Halloween horror anthology-This year don’t sleep on these episodes they’re essential viewing every damn year for one of the greatest holidays of all time!!