Category: Fantasy Movies

VHS Verdict: ‘Wizard’s Curse’ 1992’s Bizarre Raunchy Kung Fu Horror Flick!!

I’ve been checking out a lot of 1980’s and 90’s foreign horror movies lately and the ones from Hong Kong are most definitely the most outrageous of them all. 1992’s ‘Wizard’s Curse’ is certainly proof of that, a mix of raunchy sex comedy, horror, fantasy and action all rolled into one big weird ball. A pair of “on the run” criminal lovers rumored to be practitioners of dark magic are hunted down by local police lead by a taoist priest. Using his own unique supernatural abilities he aids the cops, managing to personally slay them both. Soon after, a local cult leader resurrects their spirits into a one shared physical body, granting them superhuman powers & leaving them thirsting for human brains. They set out on a mission, to track down the priest for revenge and seeking to eat the brains of a virgin to gain ultimate powers of evil. This sets into motion a chase as the priest battles them to protect his daughter and the life of a tuff guy virgin cop who becomes entangled in the case.

Yeah it’s a weird one. It features Ching-Ying Lam better known for his role in the iconic ‘Mr. Vampire’ movies of the 1980’s as the even tempered ass kickin’ priest. The bad guy & girl share one body, change sexes at random & wear a totally 80’s leather clad outfit that’d make ‘The Terminator’ jealous. They rip though Hong Kong eating brains and murdering people with a huge glowing phallus, that’s used most of the time like a super powered snake like battering ram. There’s some really great 80’s style fx work going here, creepy moments and some frenetic action sequences keep Wizard’s curse moving at a brisk pace. Together (literally) they make a unique villain and the camera tricks utilized to make inhabit the same body are a lot of fun as well.

Ching-Ying Lam never disappoints with his kung fu either, he’s one of the best and there’s some incredibly fun supernatural kung fu battles to behold. However the movie is also entirely unsure of what it wants to be as it’s littered with sex & dick jokes when you least expect it. A lot of these Hong Kong horror movies of that era go lots of different directions and while it certainly makes things interesting this one could have really benefitted by keeping the raunchy comedy to a bare minimum. Also watching the movie with it’s rudimentary english subtitles leads me to believe the comedy may have played better if I’d have actually understood the language they’re speaking. My bad.

 

 At the end of the day though, I definitely do recommend ‘Wizard’s Curse’, if even just for it’s sheer absurdity alone. Though it was released in 1992 it feels one hundred percent 80’s. Lots of neon, cool clothing, real stunts and a ton of 80’s FX work make it a unique little movie that never gets sleepy. It’s also filled with plenty of non PC “comedy” mostly revolving around sex yet never ends up being overly offensive some how. I liked the role of the virgin too being the wise crackin’ cop instead of the priests daughter, who regularly spends her time dodging super creepy advance & ploys from mega douchey men. The movie’s finale is pretty fun too as the Taoist Priest is forced to team up with his hilarious ex-wife who’s also a bad ass magician. And of course the movie’s final moment gag hinges on an over the top sex joke. If you’re looking for an utterly odd hybrid horror movie check this one out, it’s got a lot of weird ass shit going for it, if that’s your cup of tea!

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VHS Verdict: 1988’s Bizarre Horror Fantasy ‘Magic of the Universe’!

1988’s ‘Magic of the Universe’ (Originally released as ‘Salamamgkero’ in 1986) is one HELL of a bizarre horror adventure! Shot in the Philippines and chock full of dark creepy tropical locations, you surely get a lot more than you bargained for with an odd film that clearly must have had a pretty decent budget to work with. The plot itself is pretty sweet & simple, a talented circus magician named Jamir while doing his seemingly routine disappearing act to an eager crowd, accidentally makes his assistant/daughter disappear not only into thin air but from our reality entirely.

Perplexed, Jamir decides to search for answers, heads off in search of a creepy, mysterious shaman whom he’s heard rumor of residing deep in a nearby forest. The Shaman mixes him up a concoction of some sort from the severed head of a monkey (some serious ‘Temple of Doom’ tones here) and then ventures into a danger filled alternate dimension, to try and rescue his lover & kid sidekick who also go missing shortly after his daughter does. I’m guessing the monkey brain drink (some sort of DMT type concentration) opened some sort of portal, enabling Jamir to cross over. Once on the “other side” he discovers his loved one are captives of a powerful witch named “Mikula” who’s got a huge, sweaty pulsating head and commands a grotesque army of freakish animal people minions, swamp monsters and a plethora of gooey, gross things that go bump in the night.

The whole romp is a giant, cheezy ass fever dream, full of fog, colorful yet dark sets draped in blue & pink lighting and of course some unsettling puppet creatures. One in particular is “Globo”, a weird ass gremlin type puppet with a tv screen for a stomach. Globo’s even featured in the opening credits as “himself” as they decided to show every actor in their role, with their characters names in the opening credits of the movie, something you’d expect normally at the very end. There’s so much weird shit going on here once Jamir heads off into the alternate dimension that whatever story it’s supposedly trying to tell becomes utterly lost, making the whole thing seem even more dreamlike with every minute that passes. There’s even a weird ass party / dance scene with a full band that curiously resembles GWAR in all their monster glory. I guess I’d say this flick also brings to mind a more demented & confusing version of ‘Labyrinth’ and I mean that in the best way possible. Also at a lean running time of 84 minutes the pace rarely lags, there’s easily enough eye candy to go around here to keep horror fans guessing what oddities will present themselves next onscreen. It’s main villain, (the witch Mikula) is pretty damn entertaining too, I never got tired at looking at her fleshy bulbous head bubbling and come the end of the movie you get some great gooey, 80’s style neon action in the final battle.

If you’re a fan of weird ass cinema ‘Magic of the Universe’ definitely won’t disappoint, it’s tropical, humid nightmarish sets are worth the price of admission alone. Director Tata Esteban is fully ambitious here with his grand horror fantasy vision, perhaps not the most easy to comprehend but hey, this is a perfect movie to check out with a few too many drinks & a gang of trashy cinefiles on a Saturday nite! No one will need to pay too much attention to plot either! It’s available to watch on Youtube or you can also hunt down the dvd version of the movie on a horror double feature! I’m certain there’s a VHS copy of this one out there somewhere still but it’s probably a challenge to track down. I watched this one from my Netflix DVD service (yeah, I still do that! For movies like this!) Check it out if you’re feelin’ crazy..  

 

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: Episode IX Trailer Drops! Can it UNITE the Fans?

So today we finally got the first trailer to Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, yeah…that’s seriously the name of it. Has anyone else noticed that the “Rise of” phrase in big Hollywood blockbusters franchises is just maybe a TAD overused these days?!! Terminator: ‘Rise of the Machines’, Gi Joe: ‘Rise of Corbra’, ‘Rise of the Guardians’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance, Fantastic Four: ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’, 300: ‘Rise of an Empire’, Underworld: ‘Rise of the Lycans”, Transformers: ‘Rise of the Dark Spark’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’…..need I go on?! I mean I guess everything in Hollywood is fucking “rising” these days huh?! Good for them I suppose! So aside from Episode IX’s embarrassing title, check out this trailer if for some reason you haven’t already:

 

So after, what to me was the most disappointing sequel in movie history, ‘The Last Jedi’, we are now eagerly(?) awaiting the conclusion to this messy trilogy. JJ Abrams is back again folks, finishing what he started and as much of a fan as I was of ‘The Force Awakens’ when it debuted, I’m gonna admit, it was by no means great, inspiring story telling. Instead it was yet another rather bland Hollywood reboot/remake disguised as a sequel that managed to tug my nostalgic heart strings at all the right moments. So in that aspect story wise at least, it fits perfectly with it’s even messier, more uninspired story telling of it’s sequel. So this latest ‘Rise of Skywalker’ trailer seems to be trying it’s best to rope fans wallet’s back into the franchise, who after the last movie, found themselves a bit underwhelmed with the direction of things. Overall I think the trailer does a decent job at accomplishing it’s goal, I’m not going to sit this one out at the theater like some have threatened to do, but I still won’t be rushing out to stand in line for it opening night either. At least not yet. At the very least I’m intrigued at how this trilogy is going to try and find some sort of originality in the third and final chapter. AAfter two movies I’m not very invested in any of the new characters, but at least they throw us some Lando, Chewy, Leia and C3P0 in this. I’m not being an old grumpy original trilogy purist either, I was fully down and ready to fall in love with the new characters.

However, these new Star Wars movies are now feeling less like an epic event and more like another attempted cash grab reboot of a once beloved 80’s franchise we’re continuously spoon fed by Hollywood. I do I think that the laugh of Palpatine at the end of the trailer is a good sign that JJ devised a plan that he thinks will rope in any straying disgruntled Star Wars fan. I’m admitting I’m curious what’s going on here, I hope it somehow feels cohesive with what came before, as it’s started talk of Palpatine’s possible return in the flesh for the final installment. I’m giving this trailer a solid ‘B’. It didn’t blow my mind but it has gotten the wheels turning in my brain again pondering how this Star Wars “Saga” will end and more so if they can unite divided fans. As long as it NOT mirroring ‘Return of the Jedi’ I think it’s got a chance because at this point literally anything in my opinion will be better than the last installment…. 

RIP John Carl Buechler: Remembering His Amazing Movie Monsters!!

Yesterday we heard the news of master special effects artist / director John Carl Buechler’s passing & it reminded me once again of just how amazing his work in the industry was and just how many of the movies he was involved with have been a huge part of growing up. From cult classics like Troll, Dolls & The Dungeonmaster to arguably the best installment of Friday The 13th, Part VII: The New Blood to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, his work has brought me soooo much joy throughout my life as a movie maniac.

As one of the biggest fans of monster movies, he brought some of the best to the big and small screen. It led me to comb Youtube for some choice clips of his that feature some of my favorite creations of his. They just don’t make em’ like this anymore, Mr. Buechler you will be missed but your incredible creatures will live on forever, that is for sure…

 

 

 

The New HELLBOY Trailer Fails Again to Capture the True HELLBOY Vibe!!

Ok, I went from insanely excited about a reboot of Hellboy to now wishing that Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman were back again instead for a third installment. I loved the del Toro Hellboy movies but also recognized that they really didn’t capture the true tone of Mike Mignola’s visionary comic book series. Visually they were damn near perfect but I’d always hoped for a darker version of Hellboy to appear onscreen as a fan of the source material. I was positive that latest director Neil Marshall was finally gonna deliver the goods. I’m a huge fan of his debut werewolf flick ‘Dog Soldiers’ and his companion piece ‘The Descent’ was just as damn good. From the start, Marshall made many claims that this new version of Hellboy was going to have the feel of the comic books, much darker, gothic and less comedic than del Toro’s lighter take on the series. Well now after seeing both trailers for the movie at this point it seems the new incarnation of Hellboy is more or less the same take on the character we got from the previous films. At least from what the trailers reveal.

The only thing that feels different is the dropping of the ‘F-word’ and some shoddy CGI blood sprinkled about in the trailer. Heck it even seems as if David Harbour is doing a full on Ron Perlman impersonation and the wacky comedy seems just as prevalent (if not more so) here in the two trailers as it was in the del Toro movies. Why even replace Ron at this point if you’re just gonna do the same take on the character? Sure Harbour’s version appears to be not quite as cute visually but it still feels basically just like Ron. The trailer’s got a cheaper production quality as well in my opinion, dare I say a more generic vibe to it as well when you compare it del Toro’s perfect gothic style. 

I was also a bit surprised to see just how CG heavy this footage was, Neil Marshall had originally boasted the movie was going to largely utilize practical effects over digital to give it a more real world feel. Instead I’m seeing a lot of truly subpar standard Hollywood  digital effects at play here and it’s making me miss del Toro’s vision all the more. I’m gonna call it here, a prediction that Hellboy is going to flop. The one thing the first two movies had going for it were that they really stood out from the crowd, while this so far looks sadly like another bland Hollywood blockbuster.

I’d also heard that Mike Mignola, (the creator of the character/legendary artist), stated early on that this movie was much more in line with his vision of the character that the previous installments. I’m not sure as he’d stated that quite some time ago, if perhaps the production somewhat switched gears and now we’re getting a more standard “what you’d expect” from a big Hollywood production. The comic books are are truly incredible and anyone who’s only familiar with the movies might be quite surprised at how different the tone of them are from movies. I’m hoping I’m wrong and that there’s a real Hellboy movie here that hasn’t been presented in these two trailers. I’m still going to see it, but man am I disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. Any other fans of the comic book out there feel the same way or disagree? Let me know!