Category: Fantasy Movies

1980s Cine-MAGIC From Japan: The STARDUST BROTHERS!

I’m willing to bet you’re just like me and never heard of this near “forgotten ’til now” 80s gem from Japan: The Legend of The Stardust Brothers! This incredible movie from 1985 is most definitely one of the most unique oddities I’ve stumbled upon in quite sometime. An incredibly ambitious musical gem, packed with practical effects and eighties fashion that will likely knock your neon socks right off!

It tells the tale of  two struggling rival musicians: one a rowdy punk rocker and the other an egotistical wanna be popstar who meet a mysterious man while sharing the same bill  at a seedy night club. He offers them the contract of a lifetime, claiming that within one week, if they follow all the rules, the two of them will be rocketed to full blown pop super stardom. That is as long as they join forces, from that point on become The Stardust Brothers and tell the world they are indeed real bonafide brothers.

Now admittedly I’m not a real big fan of musicals, there’s only a few that I really love (Popeye, The Wizard of Oz & Little Shop of Horrors immediately come to mind). However this one has now EASILY made the list as a must watch and it’s something I’ll be watching over and over again. Essentially it’s the wildly unpredictable story of the bizarre rise and fall of this pop duo. It’s firmly glued together with a series of incredible little musical vignettes that are a visual and sonic feast.

A sweet mixture of punk rock, powerpop & some cool new wave numbers, connecting a series of incredibly ambitious music videos within one insane narrative. There are touches of the supernatural as well as a ton of amazing special effects, stop motion & practical monster effects that really impress, especially if your a fan of the 80s. It’s also filled to the brim with some of the best Japanese fashion of the era to go along with the catchy songs. As I write this, their theme song is still stuck firmly in my brain. I’d love to get my hands on some vinyl of the soundtrack. Aside from the cool music, luckily it’s got a pretty unique story that blends elements of scifi, horror and even a bit of romance. It’s unexpected twists and turns deliver a frenetic, action packed finale that will  leave you pondering the events of the entire film. Its all done with a heroic dose of heart too.

Just how far do you really go to live the life of a superstar without any of the hard work required to get to the top? The Stardust Bros go the distance and the musical journey is definitely a wacky one worth taking. Apparently director Makoto Tezuka tried to catch lightning in a bottle a few years ago by producing a direct sequel, but after doing a little poking around it doesn’t seem like he was quite to able to recreate the neon electromagnetic magic of the first.

In the meantime I highly recommend picking this one up on a newly released blu ray from SRS Cinema. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is packed with pure charisma, tons of vibrant youthful energy and shows you exactly how inventive some directors in the 1980s were in Japan with a limited budget!  Don’t sleep on this one!

 

Indiana Jones 5: Anthony Ingruber as Young Indy? PLUS Indy Cartoon!

Well ‘Indiana Jones 5′ has officially wrapped on filming and we’re now in the editing phase of the movie, hoping soon to receive a trailer to the finale of the Indiana Jones franchise! I have high hopes for this final installment but i gotta be honest too, I got a mountain o’ worries as well without the original team of Lucas/Spielberg writing or directing.

I’ve heard a LOT of rumors and supposed leaks from the set and I can say from what I’ve heard I was not particularlly impressed.

Many are claiming that Indy will be passing the torch to his female assistant and time traveling to team up with a younger version of himself. Who knows exactly what’s true here I recently watched a video from “Indiana Jones Nerd” that’s claiming Anthony Inguber might be making an appearance as he was rumored on set of Indiana Jones 5?

 So is this true? Probably not!  Hollywood is known for making terrible decisions with their big rebooted cash cow sequel franchises. I went extendively in to my idea of how they could please fans and reboot Indiana Jones perfectly right HERE  utilizing Anthony Ingruber as young Indiana Jones for the 5th installment. I think it’s a pretty solid way to do it but apparently they’ve got other plans, most likely passing the torch on to a strong female lead to continue on as the character. For the record I’m fine with that as long as it doesn’t feel forced and the story’s good. But judging from the Star Wars sequel trilogy I wouldn’t bet a got damn penny on that happening. I’m going as far to say that my gut feeling is Indiana Jones Part 5 is going to be an even bigger disappointment than The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a movie that admittedly over the years, I think has aged quite gracefully, despite some serious problems with bad CGI fx and his son Mutt being a turn off overall for fans.  Whatever the case color me intrigued and in the meantime let’s not fret too much. Take a look at this incredible animated Indiana Jones vignette from 2016 from Patrick Schoenmaker & take a moment to remember the good old days of classic Indiana Jones….

Anthony Ingruber HAN SOLO Deepfake Will Blow Your Mind!

There was so much hype about the possibility of casting Anthony Ingruber as Han Solo in the Star Wars community that he was actually one of the FIRST people to be given the chance to audition for the role by Lucasfilm. However even though he appeared in the role of a young Harrison Ford in The Age of Adaline, they for some reason chose Alden Ehrenreich….

Bad move! The ‘Solo’ film was a bomb and many were just left unconvinced that Alden was actually Han Solo, he doesnt look or sound like Ford, that’s for sure. Coming across more as Han’s younger stepbrother who was hangin out with Chewy for a couple hours than the iconic hero of the original trilogy.

So many had been left wondering just what could have been with Ingruber as Han Solo. Well peeps the wait is finally over as “Stryder HD” just put out the long awaited deepfake of Anthony as Han! The similarities are down right mind blowing! If this is not proof that if we see another appearance of young Han, Ingruber should be recast IMMEDIATELY, then I don’t know what is! Check this shit out!! P.S. Nice damn work Stryder HD!!

Hong Kong Horror Gems: 1985’s ‘Those Merry Souls’!

Here’s a sweet little Hong Kong horror/action/comedy hybrid from 1985 that really put a BIG smile on my face, ‘Those Merry Souls’. Yeah this all but forgotten flick has some serious star power, featuring the likes of martial arts legends like the charming Yuen Biao & the late horror icon “Mr. Vampire” himself Lam Ching Ying (RIP) together for one spooky comedic action packed romper. 

Now as you can see the poster here. makes it look maybe like a full on comedy, and in many ways ‘Those Merry Souls’ plays out like one. However it also has a serious supernatural aspect and threat that slowly rears it’s head to the final genuinely creepy action packed finale. This one tells the story of two stuntmen one a wildly talented martial artist and his bumbling whiny cousin who’s obsessed with a beautiful local club singer. Oh yeah and their uncle has recently developed a rare creepy ability to astral project and has been helping people who die find their way to the other side. He helps those merry souls but during his waking life doesn’t remember a lick of it ever happening.

The two bosom buddy stuntmen spend most of their time trying to ridiculously find romance and getting into trouble while doing so, one of the best scenes takes place on a beach where Yuen Biao shines showing his kick ass martial arts skills taking on a gang beach bullies in only his skimpy little swim suit. Biao really should have been an international star, he’s got the skills and a similar raw charisma of Jackie Chan. Things do get a bit dark and scary here though and what starts off like the perfect 80’s Hong Kong buddy comedy morphs into a pretty thrilling little supernatural tale.

This happens when their uncle, while in his astral form is instructed to take the soul of his own nephew when he’s injured doing a wild stunt on a movie set. At the moment of truth though he decides to let him live & spare his soul a mistake that costs him his own life and sets forth an evil entity upon them. In a way it’s a tiny bit Final Destination and when they employ the help of their other uncle, played by Lam Ching Ying, who’s of course got some secret magic skills of his own to ward off evil, things get really interesting.

The film’s finale is joyous as the whole gang along with their girlfriends all face off the evil entity along with their taoist priest uncle in an action packed final showdown. The stakes get high and the action is off the rails bonkers in true Hong Kong fashion as the entity possesses members of the group and soon things erupt into a crazy supernatural kung fu battle.

We even get to see Lam Ching Ying and Yuen Biao go at it full force, which is treat to behold. Bottom line here, ‘Those Merry Souls’ is a damn good time balancing out the comedy, kung fu & supernatural elements in all the right ways, something I’ve noticed many Hong Kong films of this era seem to fail at in my opinion more often than succeeding. If you’re looking to get in 80’s Hong Kong Horror I highly recommend ‘Those Merry Souls’ as the perfect party movie to share with a hungry gang of movie maniacs!

And for fans of Yuen and LamChing Ying check this out too..

4th Best Star Wars Movie ‘Ewoks: Battle for Endor’ Now on Disney Plus!

Ohhhhhhh yeah! Ewoks haters take note-The 4th best Star Wars movie, after the Original Trilogy (or if you’re a prequel fan it might be the 7th best Star Wars movie), has arrived on Disney Plus! Yes 1985’s almost forever lost and forgotten ‘Ewoks: Battle for Endor’ is now on the streaming service along with it’s much inferior prequel ‘Caravan of Courage’. Many OT fans have been severely disappointed by the the “Sequel Trilogy” and have only recently found solace in The Mandalorian, but ‘Battle for Endor’ is OG Star Wars all the way. To give it even more street cred than the “Sequel Trilogy” it was actually written by Star Wars creator himself George Lucas. The whole vibe of the movie screams of the Original Trilogy. 

There’s a surprisingly dark little story at the heart of ‘The Battle for Endor’ and whether you like it or not, OT character Wicket is iconic, played by Warwick Davis once again, is back for a feature length adventure. It’s filled with all the cool creatures, special effects, weird settings and even some of the heart of OT Star Wars that was largely missing in the “Sequel Trilogy”. We’re also treated to some very colorful villains and FYI the creatures in which Nick Nolte’s brilliant character Kuiil rides around in the desert (called Blurrgs), make their first appearance in this Ewok Adventure.

Yeah, thanks John Favreau, I know you too are a fan of Battle for Endor! This also features the late great Wilfred Brimley in a surprisingly spry action packed role. So if you’ve been craving 80’s Star Wars and have never seen this sweet little gem of a movie, by all means now’s the time to check it out! I’m personally hoping that maybe this will inspire a Disney Plus Ewoks series, we can see what the hell the older wiser Wicket has been up to and of course get Warwick in the role!

LOVE AND MONSTERS: A Sweet Escape from Reality into the Monsterpocalypse?!

One of the sweetest, feel good movies in recent memory, ‘Love & Monsters’ came as a totally welcome surprise! And that’s all being said as someone who’s normally pretty tough on newer horror/fantasy/sci fi movies. Love & Monsters which came out last year may not have the most original plot but it more than makes up for any shortcomings with its impressive special effects and it’s truly heartwarming adventure. I guess I’d at first glance describe this as having somewhat of a “Zombieland” type of a thing going on and it might be easily dismissed as just some wimpy copycat. On the contrary, Love and Monsters buries ‘Zombieland’ (and especially the sequel), with what I think are just plain more likable characters who embark a much more compelling and colorful adventure in general.

Roughly seven years after the Earth was subjected to a mysterious monster invasion, the rather cowardly Joel Dawson has been living underground with a small pod of people trying to avoid what lurks above. He spends his time reconnecting over the radio with his high school girlfriend, Aimee, whom he was separated from when the tragedy hit and also cooking his signature soup for his crew. When the feelings of isolation and cabin fever finally get the best him he decides to muster up the courage to head to the world above. Seeking to finally reunite with his lost love who resides 80 miles away at a coastal colony, as he surmises that there’s nothing really left for him underground anymore. As he heads out alone he soon realizes he’s hardly prepared for the dangers all around him in the outside world. Mutant monsters are hungry and lurking around nearly every corner.

One of the high points here is the inclusion of charming canine character named “Boy”. Lifting a bit from ‘A Boy and his Dog’ (minus the weird sex plot) in a much sweeter way, we get the best of both world’s here for this little apocalyptic adventure. ‘Boy’ proves to be the show stealer here imo and his bond with Joel makes dealing with the dangers a bit less frightening, all things considered. The two make an excellent team against the creatures and it’s clear that they both need each other more than they likely ever realized for piece of mind in a crazy world. He also meets a few other interesting characters, a pair of wandering scavengers, Michael Rooker along with the ruff and tumble little girl named ‘Minnow’. Joel soon learns the tricks of the trade from them and has to make a big decision on the outcome of his journey. One of the best scenes involves a strange AI intelligence, who brings even more unexpected meaning to his travels.

The whole thing is a great exercise in escapism during these real life uncertain times we all face at the moment. It also shows just how important real human (and animal) connections will hopefully always be to us here on the planet as we move forward. As we’re feeling isolated to certain degrees currently, Love and Monsters showcases some parallels to the current state of affairs. I guess we can all at least be relieved that big mutant monsters aren’t waiting to chomp us to bit when we head outside at least?

Let me get to the monsters here as well, I was half expecting some sort of chintzy fx work here to spoil the damn party. Not the case, the creatures here though mostly CGI are a treat to behold and for the most part are pretty convincing threats to our heroes. As a HUGE fan of monster movies I think it hits that sweet spot quite nicely. There’s also some cool plot twists and of course some admittedly hokey ones that otherwise might not have worked without such strong characters at the forefront. If you’re looking for “Calgon to take you away” (80’s kids you know the reference) from the worries of the real world, I can’t think of a better new fantasy adventure flick to visit than ‘Love and Monsters’, easily one of my faves of 2020!

Erotic Ghost Story: ‘RIKI-OH’ Director’s Monstrously Bizarre Softcore Flick!!

YOWZA!! What the hell did I just watch?! 1990’s ‘Erotic Ghost Story’ is exactly what you’d expect from Hong Kong director Lam Nai-Choi, responsible for the 1991 cult classic ‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky’. If you’ve ever seen that bonafide bonkers gorefest then you’ll likely want to experience his attempt at a sexy softcore! I’m not by any means a seasoned cinematic softcore fanatic, but if I was, I’d like this director to be at the helm of more of it. ‘Erotic Ghost Story’ has got it all, three ultra sexy ghostly babes, a heaping of “steamy” sex and “hunky” dude who turns into a hideous three headed monster of COURSE! It’s also manages to add some sweet action scenes, some wild magic and a solid dose of those charming 80’s fx I love so much.

It tells the story of three beautiful sex obsessed fairies who’s live in solitude out in the forest. They all take an interest in a young, handsome scholar who moves into the woods nearby in a cozy little cabin. Curiosity soon gets the best of them and each one decides to make a visit to meet this sexy studious stud in his messy book infested cottage.

All three of them find themselves oddly fantasizing about him, and each take it upon themselves to seduce him. Each believing they’ve scored the relationship of a lifetime until they discover his wicked dark secret, this seemingly innocent sex machine is actually a hideous horny three headed demon in disguise!

Things get pretty gosh darn sexy and the fairies soon discover that each of them has “gotten down and dirty” with the guy causing some hefty drama between them to go down. But their jealousy is really the least of their worries as soon they all find themselves growing thick hair on their chests! What a bummer! They seek help from a local magic priest to help cure themselves of whatever supernatural STD they managed to all catch from the guy but find that it’s up to them to face him one final time with their own special powers and try to destroy the horny beast.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one, I’d figured it was just going to be some guy getting it on with three sexy ghosts. But to my delight this one delivered that and THEN some. It’s really no wonder that Lam Nai-Choi couldn’t resist throwing some wild shenanigans and a three headed demon into the mix! There’s clearly an over abundance of sex on display as the guy gets lucky more than anyone has any real right to with three beautiful women, it’s just too bad for all involved that he was literally such a wild and crazy sex freak. I guess this softcore would be sort of a genre mash up, a wuxia (chinese fantasy), sex-filled, horror creature feature.

It gets a lot sexier than most softcore movies I’ve ever seen, but the true charm of it all is that the director took a stab at a odd choice of a genre movie and added his bizarre trademark bonkers touch to the whole damn thing. If you dig his other work like Riki-Oh , The Seventh Curse or The Cat you’re going to want to track this one down as well for sure for the sheer absurd spectacle of it all….

Star of the 4th Best STAR WARS Movie Passes Away: R.I.P. Wilfred Brimley..

It’s come to my attention that Wilfred Brimley has sadly passed away, many knew him as simply the man telling us all to check our blood sugar in those vintage diabetes awareness commercials. However the truth is he starred in the fourth greatest Star Wars movie, ‘Ewoks: The Battle for Endor’. That is not a joke either and many others have also agreed when it actually comes to the Star Wars movies recently after much deliberation. It turns out that in reality, after the original trilogy, 1985’s ‘The Battle for Endor’ is indeed not only better than the Prequel Trilogy but also superior as well to all of the Disney “Star Wars” films.

Wilfred co-starred in the movie along with Warwick Davis (Wicket) for the George Lucas penned epic adventure, which I hope some day gets a blu ray release. Again, I am not kidding, ‘The Battle for Endor’ has aged extremely well, so much so that John Favreau even put a nod to the movie in The Mandalorian. Wilfred starred as Noa Briqualon and aided the Ewoks in an epic battle against evil forces. Wilfred also had an iconic role in 1982’s epic monster movie ‘The Thing’ & also another of my favorite 80’s films ‘Cocoon’. Wilfred had been sick for two months with a kidney ailment and his fight finally ended today. He was an icon in his own right and even appeared in a cool 90’s alien horror movie I just watched for the first time a few nights ago, ‘Progeny’. Rest in peace Wilfred and thanks again for your role in the 4th BEST Star Wars film of all time….. 

VHS Verdict: 1980’s Japanese Robot Craziness – CYBER NINJA & MIKADROID!!!

Well the quarantine rages one! So naturally I’m taking advantage of the situation by watching as many cool movies as I can get my hands on! I checked out some pretty excellent Japanese movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s the other night and I won the jackpot as somehow BOTH movies delivered the damn goods! I mean that rarely ever happens when blindly grabbing two oddball movies I’ve never heard anything about.

First up was was 1988’s “Cyber Ninja”, which obviously by the title showed some true promise! This wild sci-fi action film tells the story of a cyborg ninja who’s battling an evil empire that uses giant dinosaur like robots along with a gang of robotic ninja’s of their own to wreak havoc upon a kingdom of samurai warriors. Yeah basically that’s the story, nothing fancy here just a bunch of wild action and robot ass kicking for a lean 80 minutes. There’s some cool martial arts as well and really sweet robot designs at play here that mix feudal japanese elements into their look. There’s these giants mechs in particular that have a sort of Japanese tree house melded as the control center, kinda of like a play on a Star Wars ATST walker. There’s also a ton of that ultra colorful hand painted laser/electricity/energy blasts fx that accompany the martial arts mayhem. It’s a ton of fun and it seems this was perhaps an inspiration for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? The movie was release by Namco, which later merged with Bandai, both famous for their video games. Cyber Ninja is must watch if you dig weird, 80’s action and fantasy stuff & was great little viewing surprise that doesn’t require your attention span to be in full swing either.

 

Next was 1991’s Mikadroid, also known as “Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disoclub Layla”. With a title like that you know you’re at the least in for something quite unusual and yeah it brings quite an intriguing little tale of terror to the screen. It’s super lean run time of 73 minutes also makes it much less of a commitment and the perfect companion to Cyber Ninja in more than one way. I’d say at it’s core, it’s really more of a horror movie, and go as far to even call it a “proto-slasher”. It follows a World War II soldier who was experimented on along with two others for a super soldier program.

However they went a step further in a secret underground bunker to transform him into a cyborg/droid and ends up looking like something straight out of a Hellboy comic. We flash forward to 1991 to a discoclub that was built on top the hidden bunker where some electrical issues awaken the WWII super solder robot from his long slumber (I guess a real Captain America kind of thing going on here more than I originally realized). The droid heads up into the parking garage where he conducts his killing spree on the oh so stylin’ Japanese party animals after their wild nights of drinkin’ and dancing the night away.

This movie’s certainly a unique slice early 90’s cinema. It’s quite beautifully shot as well as having a pretty kick ass looking robot and some really stunning underground locations. I was hoping for a bit more from some of the kills but the strange story is the true highlight. Enough so that this little oddity by it’s end unfolds into something truly unique for it’s time and relative obscurity. Released by Toho, it was originally intended to be a full on horror film for the straight to video Japanese Market. Originally set to be a a zombie horror film having the WWII soldier an undead killer instead of a robot . The day before filming began a child murderer was arrested, who had an open passion for horror films, and it resulted in almost all horror movies being essentially blacklisted from production at the time. The film’s plot was frantically reworked into a “sci-fi” film while still keeping the basic premise intact. That all being said, the changes made I think likely added to the movie’s bizarre but ambitious plot. If you go into the movie with few expectations you’ll find a truly charming little feature that firmly lands it in a league of it’s own for the time. 

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!