Here’s something truly unique and inspiring on the Star Wars front, as everyone’s talking about ‘The Mandalorian’ Disney Plus series this week and how damn good it was. I mean do you really need another review of the show at this point? I didn’t think so! Well it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Timothy Zahn Star Wars book trilogy from the early 90’s, one which many fans had considered the real episodes 7-9 for many years until recently. If you’re a fan of the original trilogy, were underwhelmed with the Disney sequel trilogy and never read those books I highly suggest checking them out to get the ultimate old school fix of Star Wars! In fact the best way to check them out is in the audio book form narrated by Marc Thompson, whose vocal impersonations of the original characters is mind blowing, as well as the music and sound fx that’ll make you feel like the movie has come to life. It’s really that good.
Well recently I discovered something pretty amazing on Youtube, it seems a fan named ‘DarthAngelus’ is attempting to animate the story of the first installment “Heir to the Empire” in a Clone Wars/Rebels style series. A truly ambitious project and a welcome one for the true OT fan. It’s the very first time we meet the iconic villain ‘Thrawn’ who really should have been utilized in the sequel trilogy as the big baddie in my opinion. I’ve really enjoyed what he’s done here and I’m looking forward to what comes next and how just the action sequences will unravel, which will be a big part of how well this epic story translates to this animation. So far it’s a real treat to see how much love a fan has for the series, if there was a way for them to put Marc Thompson’s (the audiobook’s narrator) voice into this it’d even more of a spectacle. In the meantime kudos to this fan, more people need to know about this as I think it’s something truly special in the works! Check it out:
Ok folks, in just under two months we’ll be getting the final installment of “The Skywalker Saga”. Yep, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is going to wrap up the whole damn story whether you like it or not. Many people (as I’m sure you know by now) have huge problems with the “Disney Star Wars” stuff, for quite a while I was pretty damn perturbed about it all too. Especially with The Last Jedi. Then I’d read about how Disney bought the rights to the franchise and also got the drafts for George Lucas’ version of Episodes 7-9. Instead of fulfilling the iconic creators vision for his saga they decided to go with a more familiar plot, JJ and Rian Johnson delivered movies that are essentially soft remakes of the ‘Original Trilogy’.
When I’d heard this news something just clicked and I suddenly wasn’t upset with these new Disney Star Wars films. I realized they’re all essentially just high budget fan fiction films and that I’ll always have the real movies to watch. These new Star Wars flicks actually aren’t any different than the (much more superior in many ways IMO) Star Wars EU (Expanded Universe) material, or what they’re referred to as now, ‘Star Wars Legends’. Essentially all the non movie fiction stuff. I realized whatever Disney comes up with next really doesn’t matter much at least to me, in any real way anymore. Star Wars IS George Lucas, at the very least the sequel trilogy, 100% should have utilized his story for the final installment of The Skywalker Saga. Otherwise it really is just fan fiction with some big bucks behind it.
That all being said, I’ve still been wondering for a while just what this last installment has in store for Luke Skywalker, if anything at all. I then remembered JJ Abrams, a fan of Star Wars was co-writing the movie and it got me thinking, is he really going to sideline Luke? He’s got the chance to play with Luke Skywalker in his sandbox, one of the most iconic characters in pop culture. One last real chance to utilize the original actor as the character, c’mon is he really going to just have him show up as force ghost in a cameo?! Even though people swear up and down Luke is dead I really cannot fathom Abrams not giving Luke the excting moments, likely he himself and the rest of the OT fan base had been waiting for 30 plus years to witness on the big screen. How could a guy like JJ resist?
Are you looking for the perfect movie to watch this Halloween that’s got a little bit of everything for everyone? Well I’d highly recommend a little gem from 1985 called ‘The Midnight Hour’. This was originally aired on ABC back in the day as a made for TV movie. That being said it feels much more like a theatrical production, with genuinely spooky sets and some pretty sweet & spooky special fx. Imagine a whole movie with the look and feel of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and I must mention the music here’s also perfectly curated to the Halloween season at hand. One of the best sequences involves The Smiths “How Soon is Now” being the soundtrack to a truly uniquely executed vampire attack, it’s a ton of fun. The premise is nice and simple too, when a gang of teenage Halloween party goers sneak into a local spooky costume shop where they find a strange scroll made of human skin. When opening it and reading it aloud it revives a 300-year-old witch and a horde of ghouls, vampires & werewolves who head off into town to raise some mischeif and do a little holiday partying to boot!
There’s some great casting, we get some totally sweet 80’s personalities, the likes of LeVar Burton, Shari Belafonte, Peter Deluise & Kurtwood Smith among other super recognizable tv stars of the era. The whole thing is just so innocently charming, while still at times hitting some surprisingly darker tones. It’s really got something for everyone here, a bit of genuine horror, teen comedy (with some rather riske’ undertones for a tv movie), nostalic music, even a totally original 80’s song & dance number by Shari Belafonte called “Get Dead” to keep the party going all the way to midnight. There’s even a bit of a teenage love story at play here as well that features a ghostly teenage girl from the 1950’s who’s revived as well by the creepy incantation who roams the streets looking for love.
The Midnight Hour was directed by Jack Bender who went on to direct ‘Child’s Play 3’ (and a few other interesting made for tv movies as well) and it’s clear here he’s already got a penchant for horror. So if you’re looking for something totally nostalgic and a ton of halloween fun without getting too gory or scary, look no further, The Midnight Hour is a great opener for a double feature movie night. A warm up for some real scares of whatever you choose to fully creep out those who dare to stick around!
Looking for a ridiculously entertaining Halloween “party movie” this year to watch with a group of friends and a few cold ones? Well look no further, ‘Empire of the Dark’ from 1990 is one helluva great time for a gang of rowdy cinefiles. It’s written, produced, edited & directed by it’s star, the highly unlikely action hero Steve Barkett! Yeah Barkett’s vision here is obviously to put himself smack dab in the middle of full on ridiculous, over the top action, horror, drama and ultra cheez’d out romance. As the true jack of all trades in front of and behind the camera Barkett admittedly has a certain undeniable charm about him, an almost vintage Shatner-esque way of moving through the mayhem. He’s certainly NOT your typical action hero, the slightly out of shape, sweatpants wearing, ass kicker doesn’t need to fit the mold as he’s clearly got enough passion in the project to prove all the naysayers wrong. At least he tries his damndest!
Everything about this movie is highly ambitious, as he clearly didn’t have a gigantic budget, he fully utilizes every trick in the book to attempt to make this one as epic looking as possible. Sometimes it actually works too, he’s got monster cult members, a huge stop motion/puppet demon and a few set pieces that have me scratching my head wondering just how the hell he pulled some of this all off at all. The plot too is pretty sweet as well, we’ve got heroic policeman (Steve Barkett of COURSE!) who steps through a time vortex to a different dimension to save the woman he loves (whom he was having an affair with) and her newborn baby from a “sinister” satanic cult.
He escapes the cult saving only the baby, leaving his lover behind to die and we flash forward 20 years later. Barkett is now an ex-cop master swordsman, who still longs for his past love. That doesn’t stop him from being quite the ladies man of course, Barkett has surely got some pick up lines that wouldn’t fly today. We follow him as he slowly becomes convinced his lost love is somehow still alive and that the sinister cult has indeed returned to wreck havoc in the small town. From this point on things get even more ridiculous in the most charmingly idiotic ways. Bad sword fights, a terrible training montage, “steamy” sex scenes, supernatural encounters and utterly moronic dialogue make this one the perfect Halloween party movie.
Barkett clearly had a solid vision for this little ridiculous adventure as it’s jammed packed with “interesting” characters, some surprisingly solid special fx for the time, babes, monsters and even some sweet gore. Barkett even goes the distance with the romance making sure his character has plenty of it on display as well as some solidly stupid attempts at drama. The whole thing is a giant damn ball of idiotic fun, a full on Steve Barkett vanity project that was a true pleasure to watch for the first time. If you’re a fan of stuff like ‘Troll 2’ or ‘The Room’ then you’ve got to hunt this one down, it’s a better great bad movie than both!! Grab a copy on dvd HERE!!
Ok so I don’t normally cover politics much here at Universal Dork and I really don’t plan to in the future! However I heard recently that former 80’s icon wrestler, action hero, Navy Seal and former Governor of Minnesota Jesse “The Body” Ventura is considering a run for President in 2020 with The Green Party. This upcoming election year could get a lot more interesting as Ventura is well known for not holding back his political views….whether you like em’ or not. For me Ventura’s been a big part of my childhood, I mean the guy starred in some totally awesome movies like Predator, The Running Man, Demolition Man & the largely unseen but awesome ‘Tag Team’ with Roddy Piper. Oh yeah and for those bad movie fanatics he also starred in Abraxas!
Anyway, in the last few days he’s been starting to talk once again about running for President in 2020, some months back he was asked at an airport by TMZ about it and had a few brash words for Trump if he runs, but then hasn’t mentioned the possible 2020 run again until now. Politically he’s always been an independent and has devoted a lot time presenting arguments on why The Democrats & Republicans are the true source of many of the country’s problems.
His political leanings are similar to Bernie Sanders in many ways and he’s always claimed if you are given a chance to debate the Democrats and The Republicans you can indeed beat them. He states they keep out all other political parties for a reason, so the two can continue on their two party dictatorship. I’d love to see Ventura enter the race, in this most recent interview he described Donald Trump as a “draft dodging coward” and I’d love to see that presented to Trump face to face in a damn debate!
Ventura’s an interesting guy for sure, many know him for heavily researching conspiracy theories and his most recent book ‘Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto‘ favors the 100% legalization of cannabis across the USA. I’ve been intrigued by Jesse since I was a kid watching the WWF and Predator was the first R-rated movie I saw and snuck into in the theater. So yeah I’m ready for “The Body” to enter the 2020 field with The Greens if he’s really serious about it that is. If anything it’d be one helluva spectacle to behold! The Green Party has had zero luck getting the attention needed to be allowed onto the debate stage over the years and the hope would be that Ventura could finally generate enough hype in the media that the people would demand to see him included. If Jesse continues speaking with no filter it just very well could indeed happen. Imagine a third or even 4th voice in the debates-I think more perspectives are desperately needed here in the USA. It’s been a while since we got a third voice on a Presidential debate stage (Ross Perot 1992!) and I think if there was anyone out there who could gather enough controversy to be included on one it’d be Jesse “The Body” Ventura!
Now let’s keep in mind this isn’t the first time he’s mentioned running for prez as the amazing comedian James Adomian clearly shows in this awesome comedy skit about Jesse’s contemplation about the topic!
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!
l’m BACK & I never saw this one coming: for some reason I decided it was time to finally check out ‘976-EVIL Part 2: The Astral Factor’, which I’ve literally been putting off for years & what a sweet little horror flick indeed! I like part two so much I’d say it’s definitely more fun than the original. There’s a big difference here in directorial duties, the first installment featured horror legend Robert “Freddy” Englund in the director’s chair for the first of only two times, while part 2 features Jim ‘Chopping Mall’ Wynorski. Yeah Wynorski being at the helm here immediately got me amped, as he’s done some pretty undeniably awesomely cheezy 80’s flicks besides just Chopping Mall. A few of my favorites like Return of the Swamp Thing, Hard To Die, Not of This Earth, Sorority House Massacre 2 & Deathstalker 2, so it’s no surprise really that 1991’s ‘976-EVIL 2’ delivers a similar formula only this time we find him playing the horror a bit more straight, at least in by his standards like he did in ‘Chopping Mall’.
We’ve got one of the the stars of the first movie back as well, Patrick O’Brien returns as ‘Spike’, who now roams the back roads of the USA ridin’ on his bad ass chopper, clad in tuff black leather. Yep a total “bad ass dude” for sure after the events of the last installment…That evil phone number is out there, still tormenting people randomly, calling pay phones & a college professor ends up the prime target of evil when he picks up! Soon the local college campus is being terrorized by a crazy supernatural slasher & a curious student named Robin decides to take on the case. Of course bad ass Spike rolls into town on his hog looking for trouble, meeting Robin and immediately decides to help her sleuth out the case.
One of my favorite aspects of the ‘976-Evil 2’ is the villain played by Rod McCary, the evil professor uses astral projection to hunt down his victims. Most of the movie he’s locked up in the county jail and uses his creepy supernaturally powered astral body to do the damn dirty work! He also utilizes the ‘976-Evil hotline’ to mess up the college kids and all of it is a ton of fun to behold. The movie opening sequence sets the perfect tone of schlocky fun that rarely lets up throughout it’s run time making this one a nice lean cheezy supernatural adventure.
It’s surprisingly solid (and admittedly stupid quite often) with some really fun, spooky 80’s style fx I just can’t seem to get enuff of, some fairly ambitious action sequences and some good ol’ explosions. There’s also an excellent sequence where a college girl gets sucked into her TV set and arrives on the scenes of It’s a Wonderful Life & Night of the Living Dead that makes the movie worth a watch alone. Also expect a ton of babes n’ beefcakes, even a super kick ass cameo sequence by an ultra sexy, sultry Brigitte Nielson!
If you’re a Wynorski fan and haven’t checked this out I highly recommend, if you’re just looking for a great party horror flick this one a damn good choice! Who’d a thunk it?!