Category: Fantasy Movies
VHS Verdict: The 1990s Fairy Tale “Horror” of RUMPELSTILTSKIN!
I saw ‘Leprechaun’ IN the theater back in ’93, my girlfriend and I were the ONLY ones in the entire theater! Of course I had a damn good time and believe that ‘Leprechaun’ sort of kick-started a little mini genre of “fairytale horror” in the 1990s. While the director of the original Leprechaun also made another movie a few years later 1995 Rumpelstiltskin! Yep Mark Jones the writer and director of the ’93 cult classic also gave the a similar treatment to this weird little one without the “success” of the Warwick Davis fronted franchise.
Well last night I Pulled out my cool promotional copy of the VHS along with my projector, some friends, drinks and checked it out on the “big” screen. In all honesty I’m not entirely sure that I’ve ever really seen this movie before (even though I could have sworn that I had). Nonetheless Rumpelstiltskin delivered the same ridiculous goods in the same fashion as the original Leprechaun. The best way to describe this one would be a sort of “Terminator style” road chase movie- but instead of an imposing hulking cyborg you get a gimpy numb-nut fairy tale villain, who cracks ridiculous one liners while he chases a woman down trying to steal her baby to suck it’s soul!
In other words it’s a god damn good time! Our main mischievous villain here, Rumpelstiltskin, looks like he was plucked right out of Stephen King’s horror anthology ‘Cat’s Eye’. He wakes up from a 1000 year slumber and dropped into the 1990s. This all after being turned into a small stone sculpture after a group of villagers hunt him down after he steals one of their babies. You might think that this guy would have a hard time navigating the ’90s, but quite the opposite. Rumpelstiltskin seems to be quite adept in nearly everything he tries, Whether it’s riding a Harley or driving a stick shift semi truck- ‘ol ‘Rumpy can do it! The funny thing is he comes across more like a character that might appear in ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ than a wicked soul sucking goblin!
It’s your fairly standard “being chased through the countryside road trip” horror formula (which I FUCKING love)- but it definitely does have a few really fun tricks up its dirty little sleeve. Our main character is a widowed single mom (Kim Johnston Ulrich) with a baby of course and some of this actually plays out a bit like a “Sex in the City” episode. She hangs out with her horny female friends, drinks wine and tries to navigate being single in the era with a baby…the last thing she needs is THIS weirdo throwing a wrench into being a mom!
There’s definitely a certain degree of unpredictability to some the characters we’re introduced to which makes this an even more interesting watch. Particularly when we’re introduced to a sleazy, cheezy, sexist TV host, who comes across a bit like a second rate Howard Stern. The type of character you won’t be seeing “rise to the occasion” in any movie coming out in 2023 that’s for sure.
However I’m a sucker for an unlikely pairing of characters ‘on the run’ from true danger in horror movies and this one really BRINGS it. You’re never quite sure who’s going to suffer the consequences from an encounter with ol’ Rumpy! If you’re a fan of the original ‘Leprechaun’ there’s definitely a lot right here to love, Some cool make up effects, pretty sweet action sequences, explosions and like Warwick Davis’s character, some great idiotically witty banter! Rumpelstiltskin is prime candidate for a sweet new blu ray. It’s really long overdue that he gets a cult following and the true recognition he deserves-this is a really sweet totally 90s horror comedy, jam packed with ridiculous fashion of the time and characters you’re likely not to see anytime soon on the big or small screen. A great example that the 90s indeed does have some horror gems hidden within the decade! Track down this weird little fairy tale & turn off your brain to thoroughly enjoy the ride..
MOVIE MELT Podcast: 1988’s Bonkers Hong Kong Monster FX Genre Bender-PEACOCK KING!!
The Peacock King is easily one of the most ambitious hybrid Hong Kong films of the 1980s. It’s part horror, part adventure, part fantasy, part martial arts with just the right amount of comedic timing and 80s pop charm from the director of Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Yes the Movie Melt podcast goes back to Hong Kong to give you as much information about this wild flick that we could humanly dig up! As well as so much more cinematic mayhem than your human brain can possibly comprehend! Episode #170 is a banger and I’m personally there to guide you through the bizarre world of the Peacock King!
If you’re a fan of American genre bending films like Ghostbusters, Big Trouble in Little China or The Golden Child and have never seen Peacock King then you’re in for a real treat. This flick has all the right moves-80s fashion and adventure amped up to eleven. It’s just waiting for some cool boutique blu ray label to be snatched up and unleashed upon the western audiences.
Director Lam Ngai Kai is a mysterious figure in Hong Kong cinema but he’s also made a string of largely forgotten totally insane films unlike anything you’ve likely EVER seen before. Most people only know him from his ultra violent 1991 masterpiece ‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky’. However most of his lesser know films are just as entertaining and over the top.
In my opinion he’s the best director of 80’s/ early 1990s Hong Kong cinema-like putting early era Spielberg, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson into a blender. Total spectacle that pulls out every special effect in the 80s playbook and packs it into a lean mean location hopping adventure to stop portals from Hell from flooding open onto the Earth!
Check out the episode as we cover lots of must see films as well as do our best to breakdown this one of a kind director’s best films that’s likely to be a cult classic soon in the USA once the word gets out. LISTEN TO THE MOVIE MELT EPISODE RIGHT HERE!
Also check out this trailer and see a glimpse of Peacock King in all of it’s colorful glory:
RIP Steve Barkett: A True B-Movie LEGEND.
It’s just come to my attention that the highly underrated B-movie legend Steve Barkett (born in 1950) has passed away, the news via Jim Wynorski. I think it’s a sad day for anyone who knew of some his wildly entertaining movies and raw charisma as an actor. I only recently discovered his movies about 5 years ago but when I did it was a game changer. If you’re gonna start out anywhere with Steve I highly recommend Empire of the Dark his 1990 horror/action hybrid. He not only directed this movie but also starred in the leading role AND wrote the script. It’s a highly ambitious mix of horror fantasy, tuff guy action film and romantic comedy. It would make the perfect double feature with Evil Dead 2.
Yeah it’s THAT awesome and I know it’s saying a lot but I think Steve here oozes just as much charisma as Bruce Campbell in the leading role. He shines as the unlikely action hero who can somehow go “one on one” with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren.
Also for his budget he makes more than the most of just about everything in this movie from wild demonic set pieces in hell to crazy action battles. This is the one movie of his that I will watch over and over for the rest of my life.
He was a highly ambitious and incredibly inventive filmmaker, it’s a bit of a shame that his directorial output only manifested two movies, but both are awesome.
But don’t get me wrong he did so much more he starred in some other sweet B-movies in smaller roles like 1994’s Dinosaur Island, 1995’s Bikini Drive-In, 1993’s Dark Universe his other sole directorial post apocalyptic masterpiece The Aftermath (1982).
I’d always hope that he’d get behind the camera and in front of the camera in larger rolls a bit more in his later years, but hes left behind a some major league gems that anyone who’s a fan of low budget genre perfection must watch!
Steve will be remembered for all of the laughs and smiles he gave to all of us fans of these crazy movies- If you’re reading this post and you’ve never heard of him do yourself a favor and check out Empire of the Dark and The Aftermath ASAP! RIP Steve….
The Movie Melt Podcast Encounters ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS!!
I went back on to the MOVIE MELT PODCAST and had a serious close encounter with Richard Elfman’s (older brother of Danny Elfman) latest wacky comedy ‘ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS’! Richard has been making movies since 1980 and this is only my second feature of his I’ve seen, the first being 1994’s “horror” comedy ‘Shrunken Heads’. I can say though I have seen the music video he directed for his bro Danny’s band Oingo Boingo!
In this zany story an out-of-work actor stumbles upon a key to the universe that emerges directly out of his butt. Things in his life change quickly when he that he realizes there’s an intergalactic war between clowns and aliens. I guess the rest of the cast are the “geeks”? He’s stuck in the middle of a “wild” conspiracy and he’s got to get to the bottom of this global threat. It’s a weird one, with a touch of “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” and a dash of John Waters.
Plus we talk about movies you need to be watching and there’s also a ‘battle of the bands’ that will blow your mind! Is Richard Elfman my new fave director?! Has a modern comedy FINALLY delivered the goods? Is this movie a stroke of GENIUS or one BIG lame flat deflated joke? CHECK OUT THE EPISODE RIGHT HERE!! Oh yeah and the FULL movie is on Youtube or you can get the blu ray from MVD:
Movie Melt Podcast: The ONE Movie That Surely Inspired The MAGIC MIKE Trilogy!
Oh boy! Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there! Today we have a REAL treat for those looking for some spicy sexy action! I went back on the MOVIE MELT Podcast to record this special episode, ‘The Life and Loves of a Male Stripper’! Yeah this wild sexy musical “comedy” from 1987 is jam packed with beefcakes galore, bad acting, bad dancing, good dancing, babes, banana hammocks, 80s songs that should have been top 10 mega-hits, bad dancing, more bad dancing & then guess what? Yep even MORE BAD DANCING!
The male stripper here is quite a special guy, he can sorta dance and sorta sing and is irresistible to any woman (and likely any man) who sets eyes upon his “Adonis” like bod. The movie plays out more like a Playgirl male nude dance review than an actual cohesive film.
It features one of my new favorite pop songs-‘TAKE IT OFF’! If you’re in the mood for a good laugh, some ridiculous male dancing, 80s fashion galore and some forgotten retro pop songs that sound like a perfect mix of The Smiths & Oingo Boingo then The Life and Loves of a Male Stripper is going to seriously quench your Valentine’s Day thirst.
Plus we talk about more movies you’ve just gotta check out, a sexy lover’s edition of Battle of the Bands! So much useless cinematic information to fill your brain and most important, complete coverage of the movie that likely inspired the ENTIRE Magic Mike trilogy!! CHECK OUT THE EPISODE RIGHT HERE!! IF you’re feeling real frisky you can also watch ‘The Life and Loves of a Male Stripper’ right here on YouTube:
New Vintage 35mm Practical FX Horror Fantasy: Moon Garden!
I’ve been thinking lately while watching lots of movies from the 1980s about how much I really miss the feel of movies using practical effects, shot on real film, at real locations & on real sets. Let’s face it, even if you just love, say, Marvel movies, you’ve got to be able to admit that they can feel a bit soulless, jam packed with an overabundance of CGI, green screening & basically are void of any real life stunt work. I mean they even CG costumes on people. I’ve been thinking about how interesting it’d be if modern filmmakers would set out to make a fantastical film either in the horror, sci-fi, superhero genre and choose to not use ANY technology past 1990. A real bonafide, old school, hands on MOVIE.
Well I’ve probably gotten my wish, or at least something very close to it. The upcoming horror fantasy ‘Moon Garden’ appears to be going for the gold here, first being shot on expired 35mm film, which apparently can create some interesting and unexpected results. A bold move I think, secondly utilizing practical effects like puppetry, animatronics and stop motion animation. The trailer looks pretty incredible!
The premise is simple, a little girl has quite a troubling family life. One evening we find her running away from her arguing parents, she trips, falls down hard and as a result descends into a deep, dark coma. She awakens in a strange new place, more akin to a waking nightmare. She begins a journey through a sinister world where bizarre creatures are lurking around every corner.
The little girl goes on an adventure to carefully make her way back to consciousness armed only with a radio. This brought to mind an underrated Australian film from 1988 called ‘Paperhouse’, ‘The City of Lost Children’ and obviously the more popular ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. All have a surreal, dreamlike quality to them and Moon Garden at first look appears to be in the same realm. This looks like something special and it’s Coming sometime this year- Check this out!
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!
‘VIOLENT NIGHT’: A Killer Santa You Can Really Root For!
As far as modern holiday horror goes there’s a clear over abundance of yuletide garbage out there being mass produced as of the last 10 years. I don’t know what triggered it but it seems every year the floodgates open with a slew of sub par cinematic Christmas sludge. Well this year we’ve got a killer Santa Claus movie, but this time with a Kris Kringle that you can really get behind with some holiday cheer!
From director Tommy Wirkola, who helmed the highly entertaining “Dead Snow” franchise and also the equally enjoyable ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’. ‘Violent Night’ is easily just as fun as his previous films, part Die Hard, part Home Alone with a little bit of Santa’s Slay thrown into the mix for good measure. We get the real deal Santa Claus who’s feeling a bit down on his luck getting thrown into a truly “violent night”. He’s forced to use his unique supernatural yuletide abilities to defend a wealthy family trapped in their mansion from a gang of vicious criminals led by John Leguizamo!
Santa though has gotta sober up quickly, as he spent most of the evening drinking at a dive bar rather than delivering presents to kids on his “nice” list this Christmas eve. However all the action doesn’t necessarily fall just on Santa’s shoulders, we also have a little girl named Trudy played by Leah Brady who’s hell bent on helping Santa and her family annihilate the greedy criminals as well from inside the mansion.
That’s where the “Home Alone” aspect of this film really takes shape and boy does it deliver some bloody boobie traps! Brady is totally charming in the role and really helps make this little adventure memorable. Like much the director’s previous work this one is equal part comedy as well as action while managing to not let anything slip into a total farce. Yes, there’s plenty of legitimate thrills to be had here and really fun colorful characters that really help drive this film. John Leguizamo shines as the big baddie and it’s been soooo long since I’ve seen him, his presence was truly a welcome addition to the mayhem. David Harbour though steals the show as Santa Claus, I’ve always felt he has a special onscreen charisma and it really continues to shine here in the role. There’s also some pretty neat little twists and turns in the plot, some concerning Santa himself that makes for a uniquely intriguing back story to jolly ol’ elf.
What was most surprising was the inclusion of Beverly D’Angelo (of Christmas Vacation fame), who for the 1st quarter of the movie I was left scratching my head trying to figure out where I’d recognized her from? It’s been so long since I’ve seen her in anything and she does look quite different these days. It’s quite nice to see some of these actors in a major motion picture this holiday season!
The action sequences are also really well choreographed and filled with some pretty over the top gore, Violent Night definitely doesn’t skimp on the red stuff! There’s a lot to love here and the movie also showcases a fair amount of heartfelt family holiday drama, it’s not simply just another hack and slash.
I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen and I definithey will be returning to it next year if not maybe one more time in the theater this year! Violent Night is THE wild holiday flick of 2022, Don’t snooze on this one!
Hong Kong HALLOWEEN: 1990’s A Chinese Ghost Story 2!
I’m making this post assuming that obviously everyone has seen the legendary 1987 Hong-Kong horror romance action hybrid ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’?! No?! Well It’s often referred to as the “Chinese Evil Dead” and that’s a great comparison. So If you haven’t seen part one you definitely need to check it out ASAP, but even so you can still watch part 2 without having to know much about the original!
‘A Chinese Ghost Story 2’ continues right after the events of the 1st movie but this time puts the romance a bit more in the back seat and the action/monster mayhem a bit more front and center! This 1990 Hong Kong horror hybrid follows a wandering scholar as he as he continues his outrageous supernatural adventures while trying to find romance simultaneously.
Along the way he encounters cannibals, escapes prison, hides out in haunted temples, fights off an amazing giganto (animatronic puppet) tree troll, meets the reincarnated woman of his dreams, teams up with a wild martial artist turned sorcerer, faces a gigantic flying centipede (ending up inside of its stomach) and even manages to perform a rap song while taking a bath in pool of rainwater. And that’s just the shortlist of this radical spectacle!
As you can probably tell thus far, there’s really never a dull moment within it’s entire 98 minute run time. It’s filled with charming, colorful characters, amazing sets/landscapes filled with lush vegetation, roaming fog and spooky blue lighting in nearly every scene.
It’s also jam packed with awesome neon 80s animated lightning, some over the top martial arts and even manages to sneak in a little sweet romantic plot amidst all the magnetic mayhem. Better yet this one has some pretty on point comedy that shines through even despite the rudimentary but often incredible subtitles…
This is just a great big ball of fun. It’s equal parts fantasy/adventure/horror and comedy all stuffed into a juicy blender. I really think a great double feature would be to show both parts 1 & 2 back-to-back. I’d go as far to say this is probably the strongest horror franchises in all of Hong-Kong cinematic history. I have yet to see part 3 but from what I understand and these 2 are pretty much the cream of the ghostly crop.
So if you’re looking to get out of the American pumpkin patch this Halloween I highly suggest a trip to Hong-Kong’s golden era of of supernatural horror! These will not disappoint to deliver enough spooky, highly ambitious trick-or-treats from the Far East!
Humans & Mushrooms MERGE in MATANGO!
Hey fungi enthusiasts! If you’re looking for something truly stange & spooky to check out this Halloween season (and I know you are) then look no further- It’s time to take a trip of the sea shores of Japan to an uncharted incredibly creepy deserted island in 1963’s psychotronic horror: Mantango! I’m going to admit I haven’t really explored a lot of 1960s horror especially from Japan. However I’m a huge sucker for “stranded on an island” movie concepts and this one looked like it hit all the right beats from the trailer I saw. Essentially it’s like a demented episode of Gilligan’s island and much of the movie actually does actually kinda feel just like it, in all the best ways.
Visionary director Ishiro Honda paints an incredibly atmospheric nightmare landscape on the open sea, with a band of tourists on a fancy yacht who find themselves in the midst of a violent sea storm. Tired and hungry they take refuge on on a mysterious exotic tropical island infested with strange colorful mushrooms. There’s something extremely unsettling yet whimsical about the whole endeavor as the crew struggles to get along and and also find food that’s safe to eat there.
The most of the characters here I found to be a bit on the bland side, but it really doesn’t matter much because the beautiful bizarre portrait on display here of the island itself ends up as the true star of the entire show. The quietness of the foggy remote island lends much to the impending dread in the thick air as soon our cast of characters find themselves with hungry bellies, drawn to consume the beautiful fungi. It’s like they’ve spent the week in the garden of Adam-and-Eve but instead of colorful fruits instead enticed by mind altering fungus!
Matango is somewhat of a slow burn, but it’s a really fun “trip” right from the get go. All of the set pieces from the on the ship and especially the island are truly a spectacle to behold. It really makes me miss real practical sets, as many of the movies now in the fantasy genre just resort to bad CGI green screen backdrops. Being made in 1963, everything has that special earthy but put together carefully by hand look to it of that era, looking like some high budget theme park attraction, blanketed in roaming fogs.
There’s also some some legitimately creepy visuals to behold, every bit of Matango’s landscape looks like at any moment could come alive and grab you. As the tourists become more restless and frustrated it’s clear something sinister has taken hold of their psyche. And while the movie secondary moniker is ‘Attack of the Mushroom People’ I would say that’s a bit of a stretch here. There’s really Not a helluva of a lot of “attacking” going on until maybe the movie’s final 10 minutes, but it’s definitely worth the wait once the mushroom people do arrive.
Even by today’s standards these creatures look quite incredible, feeling like something materilized from a strange fever dream. Matango has definitely peaked my interest in Japanese movies from this era, this is a cool little mind bending bit of eye candy that’s that is most definitely worth a watch this Halloween season if you’re in the mood for something truly unique! I got it on blu ray recently from Far East Flix!