Category: Fantasy Classics

Swords, Sorcery & Bad Choreography Turbo Charge 1984’s ‘The Devil’s Sword’!

I’m not real familiar with with Indonesian cinema, but last night I watched a dvd (yeah a DVD folks!!!!) I got in the mail from Netflix that’s been in my queue for well over a year. The 1984 Swords and Sorcery fantasy martial arts adventure, ‘The Devil’s Sword’ from director Ratno Timoer. I really didn’t have any expectations, in fact I was fully prepared to turn this one off after 10 minutes, however that was most definitely not the case. Nope! Instead The Devil’s Sword immediately won me over with some impressive joyfully bad choreographed magical martial arts battles taking place in a truly stunning exotic jungle location. If you’re a fan of cheezy fantasy movies from the 1980’s then this one’s gonna be right up your damn alley. It’s also alerted me to the Indonesian action star Barry Prima, maybe I’m late to the Prima party, but a quick look on Letterboxd at his filmography revealed what appears to be an overload of action, fantasy, horror hybrid gems just waiting to be leaped into.  

This one has pretty much got it all, wildly stupid martial arts, sword battles, magic, monsters, babes & hunks galore! All of it 100% ridiculous, macho man Barry Prima stars as “Mandola”, basically “Rambo the barbarian” looking remarkably similar to Sly Stallone (with a smooth fully stupid dub track that seems like it might even enhance viewing pleasures). He’s also got a radical bad ass female co star, who right out of the gates lays a smackdown on a gang o’ goons & who aids the mighty Mandola in his epic quest to destroy a wicked witch, the sultry and seductive Crocodile queen! She’s indeed quite a woman and has tons of male sex servants one of them the kidnapped husband of Mandola’s female ally! She’s also got a gang of some of the worst, most idiotic looking, crocodile/human minions that really just have to be seen to be believed. Some of these fights too go on for way, way too long but in that sort of “They Live” sorta way. I mean check this out if you think I’m full of shit!

Mandola ends up on this epic quest when some of The Crocodile Queen’s assassins injure his master’s legs and he himself is forced to saw them off! The Devil’s Sword definitely doesn’t skimp on some wild gore either, limbs and heads are chopped off, accompanied by sprays of blood. There’s also a dab of indiana Jones thrown in as Mandola explores caverns filled with hordes of bats and one supremely stupid looking giant cyclops! I guess they were lucky that Indonesia is such a beautiful place, because some of the locales add a solid a layer of legitimacy to the whole experience, suddenly I’m eyeing Indonesia as a future dream vacation.

The Devil’s Sword has really energized an interest in not only the country but also in some of the wild cinema it had to offer back in the 70’s & 80’s as well as a strong curiosity in it’s main man, Barry Prima! Check this flick out, it’s the perfect watch with a case of beer and some friends to enjoy all the unintentional wackiness strewn about the screen. There’s a dvd out there that Mondo Macabro put out years ago I think you can still snatch, or hey if you’re like me just put it on the dvd by mail list from Netflix!   

 

Brightburn’s Evil Superman, Rambo & The Dark Crystal Return!

Damn! Nostalgia is running rampant today, but first I wanted to report my thoughts quick on Brightburn, which is currently in theaters! I checked this one out yesterday at a matinee and was pleasantly surprised by this nasty little supervillain origin story. If you’re a fan of Superman you’re sure to find this one quite intriguing. If you’re a horror buff you’ll just might get a kick out of this unique creepy “superhero” tale. Brightburn is essentially the origin story of Superman but instead of him growing up to be the beacon of good we’ve grown to love he goes the opposite direction and gets real nasty to the human race. Once the main character kid realizes (around puberty) that he’s got superhuman powers developing, he quickly decides he’s superior to all humans and sets off on a villainous path of small scale destruction. Playing with people like an evil kid with a magnifying glass on a sunny day around an anthill.

Raised on the farm with his step parents just like good ol’ Clark Kent, he starts off as an innocent nerdy kid right up until his 12th birthday, basically deciding to go on a killing spree, off-ing nearly anyone who gives him a dirty look with his new found ass kickin’ abilities. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but luckily this is a pretty sweet “smaller budget” mainstream horror movie, unlike anything in the genre I’ve ever really seen before. I guess it might be a good companion piece to say, ‘Split’ which turned out to be a supervillain origin story in disguise. However unlike ‘Split’ this one’s R-rated, so there’s some pretty disturbing gory moments sprinkled about that really took me by surprise & some pretty nice visual fx work as well. It’s tense, well acted and deserves a sequel, as I’d love to see what happens to this evil little maniac next. It definitely exceed my expectations and if they do make a sequel hopefully humankind can figure out some way to put this pint sized supervillain in his damn place!

Next we got a new trailer for the final installment of Rambo! Titled “Last Blood” we get to see just what the hell John Rambo’s been up to since the last extra bloody installment from 2008! Yeah Stallone is back again as the iconic anti-hero and this time it looks as if he’s single handedly (of course) going to battle against a powerful drug cartel. The trailer looks promising, maybe not quite as wild as the last go round, but still, for his age it seems Rambo’s got one more damn fight left in him!

Next is the big one, the trailer for ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’! I never thought I’d ever really see the day we’d actually get a prequel to the beloved 80’s Jim Henson puppet masterpiece. I’m pretty impressed with what we’re seeing here, as it does feature some stunning puppetry. As great as it all looks I’m going to say honestly I’m a bit surprised with how CGI heavy it is as well. I’m not disappointed because I think practical fx and CGI used together tastefully is the best way to pull things off. Also it’s 2019, I hardly expect any mainstream production to go fully practical. Anyway this looks great if haven’t seen it yet check it out and if you have watch it again!!

Game of Thrones: Season 8 ‘Pitch Meeting’ Perfectly Explains Why it SUCKED!

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!!

Game Of Thrones Season 8: From the Writer of ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’!

 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.  

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ‘Re-Edit’ Trailer Arrives!!

So as most of you all have probably heard by now, ‘The Last Jedi’ was a pretty divisive film to say the least. Star Wars will likely never be quite the same because of it, to some that’s a good thing, but to most the movie was seen as a huge disappointment. A lot now rides on the shoulders of JJ’s upcoming Episode 9 and many seem to think the damage to the franchise simply can’t be repaired. I myself was not a fan of ‘The Last Jedi’ in the least, which was perplexing as the original trailer made the movie appear to be something completely different from what we ultimately ended up with. The treatment of beloved classic characters like Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Leia & Admiral Ackbar enraged longtime fans & shoddy storytelling paired with jarring attempts at comedy helped to sink Episode 8 to new depths most haven’t seen since the days of the prequels. Luckily someone has stepped up to the plate to entirely re-edit the movie, Ivan Ortega (who edits movies for a living), whom I’ve been following since the start of his Youtube channel ‘Film Fix’ has been working hard on this for the better part of 2018.

He’s shown several times on his channel edits he’s done that drastically alter the narrative of the movie and seemingly breath new life into The Last Jedi. His approach puts a heavier focus upon Luke Skywalker, something many fans including myself had been hoping for all along since this latest trilogy was announced . Ortega though has not just re-edited The Last Jedi, he’s also apparently filmed new material, one being an extended fight sequence between Luke & Kylo, one where lightsabers actually clash and real contact is made between the two combatants. He’s also given Admiral Ackbar more screen time and true purpose in this new version. I suggest checking out his channel to see exactly how it’s being done as it’s truly fascinating. The new Edit is very close to completion and today we get the official ‘re-edit trailer’ for his labor of love. I’m so damn excited to check out the full version, as it seems his approach is more in line with Lucas’ original vision, given the material he had to work with. Check this out and watch closely for all the changes that were made to shift the movie more in line with the spirit of the original trilogy!!

 

 

A Closer Look at the NEW Hellboy Movie Poster!

 I’d have thought by now that we might have already gotten a teaser trailer for the upcoming Hellboy reboot film set to drop next year. However it’s now been moved back another 3 months for an April 12th, 2019 release date. But, we did just get this brand new Hellboy poster that seems to feature David Harbour as the legendary character, though it’s a bit hard to tell if this is indeed an actually photograph or perhaps a CGI enhanced image. Whatever the case it does indeed show some true promise and perhaps a closer adaptation to the comic book than what we saw with the lighter hearted more comedic take of Guillermo Del Toro.

Clearly Harbour like Ron Perlman is covered heavily with prosthetics and likely a muscle suit, which is far better than CG-ing the character. Interesting as well here is the portrayal of Hellboy with his full set of horns rather than the sawed off look. Word is also that this movie will be based on an actual Hellboy tale from the comics called ‘The Wild Hunt‘.  I’m really liking what I’ve seen and heard so far with the reboot, I’m especially excited to see what they do with the BPRD members it will feature. Having Neil Marshall on board as well is super exciting, as he did a couple of the best, imo, 2000’s horror movies ‘Dog Soldiers’ and ‘The Descent’. I’m hoping for a teaser trailer soon, so we can really get the feel of what tone this one’s really aiming for.

‘Mandy’ Movie Review: Nic Cage Battles Crazy Jesus Freaks & Biker Demons!

Wow, my mind has officially been blown by Panos Cosmatos’ second feature film ‘Mandy’! I was lucky enough to catch it this crazy ass flick last Sunday evening at Cinema 21 here in Portland with a rowdy packed theater. I’m damn glad I decided to make a run to the cinema rather than renting this online ‘cuz in my opinion that’s the absolute best way to see this one for the first time. After watching the steaming pile of crap that was ‘The Predator’ at a matinee Friday, a movie like Mandy was a complete and total breath of fresh air. I guess the best thing to say here is this movie may not be for everyone, but if you’re ready to take one of the craziest mind bending cinematic journeys of the last couple decades then you’re gonna fucking love it. Hell even the poster is awesome!

Mandy is a completely insane revenge flick set in the early 80’s and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. I’m so used to seeing big crappy Hollywood blockbusters in the theater, so this was a bit of of a welcome shock to my noggin. The whole movie plays out like an uncomfortable fever dream, with Nicholas Cage as a logger named “Red” who lives out in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful but eerily mesmerizing girlfriend Mandy. They live a quiet, serene life in an incredibly strange home in the middle of the woods, with large glass walls that bring to mind elements of a real life fairy tale. Everything’s dark yet overly drenched in vibrant hues of reds, purples & thick lush colors creating a surreal landscape that feels like a dream put right on the screen in front of you. It’s a spectacle to behold and it’s clear from the start that Red & Mandy have been through a lot together, sharing a truly special bond in their secluded life. Mandy works at a nearby convenience store, wears cool heavy metal tees and loses herself in fantasy novels while Red spends his time chopping down trees with his chainsaw. The two of them are pictured intently watching 80’s horror flicks together (NIGHTBEAST!), chatting about what their favorite planets are, showing they’re living a rather sweet, simple and innocent life together at this point.

Well shit majorly hits the fan when a crazy van full of uber religious cult members roll into the area and their leader spots the oddly beautiful Mandy walking on the road one day. The cult leader is seemingly hypnotized by her and quickly declares that he must have her for his own. The first hour of the movie is pretty slow moving but in the best way possible, though we don’t get much backstory, we do get a clear picture of the love Mandy & Red share for each other, which makes what follows all that more intensely heartbreaking. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but let’s just say this cult goes the full distance to send Nicholas Cage into a fully batshit crazy journey that’s part Evil Dead, part Hellraiser and part LSD drenched revenge fantasy. I know people have a sort of ironic love for Nicholas Cage these days but seriously Cage fully shines here in easily one of his best performances of his career. He’s awesome and not in some ridiculous sort of way. The movie goes to some truly bizarre places, the violence plentiful and there are a ton of oddball surprises all along the way.

The movie even has a sense of humor as well, though it feels like an unsettling waking nightmare most of it’s run time, there’s something truly comforting about having Nic Cage there with you as your guide through the mayhem of it all. It gives you a sense of hope that just maybe you’ll make it out of it all alive somehow. There’s also a strong heavy metal vibe to film, not just in it’s imagery but also in the score, which is completely breathtaking in it’s thunderous doom metal delivery through the hellish otherworldly landscapes. The music here is incredible and liley half of the charm of why Mandy works so damn well honestly.

There’s also cool hand drawn animated interludes that bring to mind the 1981 cult classic “Heavy Metal” in the best ways possible. Add in amazing practical fx work, crazy gore, epic weapon crafting, chainsaws, Goblin Mac & Cheese (just wait and see), drugs galore, demonic cenobite like bikers and a sweet ass cameo from Predator’s Bill Duke and you’ve got yourself one truly freaky epic horror masterpiece unlike anything you’ve like ever seen before. I can’t say enuff good things about this movie, it’s still floating around in my head four days after viewing it. I can though easily say that Mandy thus far is my favorite movie of 2018!

Hong Kong’s Sam Raimi: Whatever Happened to Riki-Oh’s Lam Nai-Choi?!

One of the most wild & unpredictable filmmakers of all time hands down has got to be Hong Kong’s Lam Ngai Kai aka Lam Nai-choi, Most well known for his mega cult classic ‘RIKI-OH/The Story of Riki’ it’s clear this guy is, in my opinion one of the most underrated directors in the horror genre. Imagine if Sam Raimi made movies as consistently awesome as the Evil Dead trilogy, well that’s a good way to sum up this guy’s catalogue of crazy ass films. I’ve been fully surprised at how many people love ‘Riki-Oh’ yet aren’t familiar with anything else this guy’s done.

It probably doesn’t help that he completely disappeared off the movie map in 1992 for unknown reasons. Perhaps he realized he’d unlikely ever be able to top the craziness of his back catalogue of bizarre flicks. I’d love to know what he’s up to today and what I’d love even more would be his return to filmmaking. There’s however, literally zero info on why he stopped his film career and what the dude’s been up to these days. That being said let’s take a quick look at some of his coolest flicks you may not have even known existed! First if you’ve never seen Riki-Oh from 1991 it’s easily one of the wildest action/horror hybrid movies out there and totally on par with the awesomeness of Evil Dead 2. It features some of the most over the top action/gore of all time:

 

Next is another equally crazy ass flick from 1986 called ‘The Seventh Curse‘ which is like Indiana Jones on acid fighting monsters and exploring some truly epic locations. It features Chow Young Fat in a small role and continues with totally frantic action sequences that never slows it’s pace right to the very end. A true hidden gem of a movie that many 80’s horror fans have completely missed out on over the years. Seek this out asap as it’s more proof this guy’s got chops on par with the likes of early Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi & Don Coscarelli.

 

Kai’s got more under his belt too if you want another horror adventure that’s a true spectacle to behold check out ‘The Peacock King‘ from 1988. A totally unique movie that’s also a full on FX extravaganza. This one literally utilizes nearly every 80’s special fx in the book, from stop motion monsters, to animatronic creatures etc. etc. etc. you name it, this movie will take you on tour of the bizarre set to a super fun, dark yet equally light hearted adventure. Check it out: Continue reading

That 80’s German Star Wars Musical Starring Mark Hamill?!

Ok so here’s an interesting clip! You remember that old Star Wars holiday special that George Lucas wants to pretend never happened? Well here’s another bizarre moment in retro Star Wars history, all the way back in 1980 Hamill made an appearance on German television making a cameo on a musical Star Wars themed variety show, recently Hamill shared the video and commented on it also saying “I remember not wanting to wear a gold jumpsuit like a rejected member of ABBA or if I could memorize dialogue in a foreign language-but thought “Who cares? No one outside of Germany will ever see this!” Thanks to the internet-NOTHING EVER GOES AWAY. Who knew?”

I’ve never seen this before but I’ll say it’s quite a treat for any true fan of the beloved series. In case you missed this one here it is in all of it’s glory!

 

Harrison Ford to Overdub Dialogue for New ‘SOLO’ Movie?!!

Ok total click bait headline right? Well I have to admit upon seeing the most recent teaser trailer the thought of Harrison Ford dubbing his voice didn’t seem like all that bad of an idea at first. Now first I’ve gotta say, that Superbowl teaser was pretty damn cool. Visually it had some excellent moments that had me suddenly feeling the excitement of a this new “Han Solo” prequel origin flick. However yesterday upon seeing the longer teaser trailer there was one big ass thing that had me a bit worried. My first impression of this new “Han Solo” played by Alden Ehrenreich, I just wasn’t feeling it was Han. That’s a big worry for a movie called ‘Solo’ I think.

Now don’t get me wrong, these two teasers look pretty cool and I think there’s some serious potential for something really fun. I know a lot of Star Wars fans proclaim they weren’t asking for a new Han Solo movie, but I’ve been cool with it as I’ve seen a young Captain Kirk and crew played by younger actors work quite nicely in the modern TOS Star Trek movies for the most part. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban (who fuckin’ perfectly nailed McCoy!!) all did a splendid job as the iconic characters. So I still have faith Alden could possibly pull it off. This first trailer though, as cool as it came off didn’t scream ‘Han Solo’ to me. It felt to me like an adventure in the Star Wars universe with all new characters with the exception of Chewy. Let me just add, thank god we’ll be getting a ton more of Chewy, as the iconic character has been cast aside like the family dog in The Last Jedi, only seemingly there to interact with the Porgs for comic relief sporadically throughout the movie.

 

So maybe Alden doesn’t look much like the Han we’ve known for all these years and he certainly doesn’t sound like him. Recasting legendary cinematic characters is a seriously tuff fucking thing to do and sometimes it’s just maybe not the best idea to attempt do so. I had my doubts though with Chris Pine as Kirk, despite the fact he at least, looked the part. Though he doesn’t attempt blatant Shatner-isms he does to a certain degree subtly slip them in from time to time without most even noticing. He mostly emulates Kirk’s true spirit very similar to the way that Shatner did without actually trying to be Shatner and some how by some miracle, he’s totally believable in the role and it just worked.  

 

So it’s hard to tell if ‘Solo’ will resonate with fans, so far I’ve got my doubts about Alden. This one definitely feels as if it’s taken some lessons from JJ’s 2009 Star Trek movie. From the ‘SOLO’ teaser it’s kinda like ‘Star Trek Beyond’ meets Modern ‘Star Wars’ meets ‘The Fast & The Furious’. For me it could really go either way, I liked ‘Star Trek Beyond’ for the most part and I’ll admit I was quite ready to hate on it before I saw it (I can’t stand those Fast & Furious movies) but again I really like the actors who were cast in the original roles. They kinda saved it for me and now I’m looking forward to yet another Star Trek cinematic adventure. So while I’m hopeful that ‘Solo’ is going to be a ton of fun, it’s success however is totally dependent on Alden’s performance as Han and if he can convince the crowd that HE is indeed the legendary gunslinger. If not then oh boy, Disney’s got another Star Wars mess on it’s hands, and maybe my idea of Harrsion Ford overdubbing Alden’s lines just might not have sounded like such a crazy idea after all….