Category: Movies

MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. Misses the Mark!

After getting a good look at what is supposedly the MCU design for iconic Marvel Comics villain Modok I can honestly say my childhood fantasies have been smashed! Easily one of my favorite villains of all time for his bizarrely offputing look, Modok deserves so much better than THIS!

 That is what is supposedly his design for the upcoming Ant-Man movie. His big movie debut look unfortunately does not feature any of the grotesque charm of the classic villain.

My hopes here are that he is merely wearing some sort of protective helmet. I’m also fairly certain that they will be featuring the character as some sort of ridiculous joke Instead of utilizing him as a terrifying monstrosity that he truly is.

I also think if they were to have designed the character using practical animatronic effects just how amazing he could really be on the big screen. Time will tell but in the meantime here are a few of my favorite images of one of Marvel’s most grotesque creations!

‘PREY’ Brings the Goods But Can’t Top ‘PREDATOR 2’!

[OK so it seems everyone is flipping out over the new ‘Predator’ prequel ‘Prey’ just released yesterday on Hulu! Most are claiming it to be the best of the franchise since the original 87′ masterpeice, some even boldly claiming it better than the original. Well I’m here to clear things up because in 1987 Predator was the very first ‘R rated’ movie I ever saw in the theater and I snuck into it at the age of 13!!

At this point I’d pretty much lost any enthusiasm for another Predator movie after 2018’s pathetic sequel ‘The Predator’. However I’m quite happy to report that 2022 has brought us the latest movie in the series, ‘Prey’ and it’s overall a sweet breath of fresh air finally. I’m gonna put it slightly above ‘Predators’ which I thought mixed things up nicely with a unique plot that deviates from the others. Prey goes back to the basics and it essentially works, the time setting of 1719 and the physical setting of the Great Plains combined with its unique Native American tribal characters make for a visually stunning survival adventure. I gotta be honest though, the dialogue of the tribe felt way out of place and took me out of the movie’s supposed era several times, it felt WAY too “modern America”, if like the tribe were actually modern day cosplayers from LA or something. They really could have done better to make them feel a bit more convincing vocally because they looked amazing.

 But one of the best things though was indeed the setting, beautiful locations that of course make me wonder how much of what we saw on screen was actually real or created via CGI? I hope it was filmed on actual location. Whatever the case it really worked in this particular situation, at times rivaling the jungles of the original film. Of course the basic plot set up does feel a bit heavily treaded as of late at least, it features a young, strong female lead who’s marginalized by her male tribe members who believe she doesn’t have what it takes to be a true warrior. However she’s a total badass master hunter, fighter, tracker & her male peers just refuse to accept her. 

The lead, Naru, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is a force to be reckoned with. However when Dutch finally becomes the hunted it’s clear his macho-man antics are simply not going to save his ass from the Predator. Nope, he’s going to have to massively reevaluate everything he’s learned in order to survive the Predator’s attack. I felt Prey lacked much of that visceral tension, urgency and nail biting suspense of the original. Perhaps because Naru seems more than capable of besting The Predator in hand to hand combat right from the get-go. I personally would’ve prefered a bit more character struggle that let the tension rise to its boiling point. I never really feared for Naru’s life at any point in Prey. It could’ve featured her crafting some inventive new tricks to outwit the Predator but instead felt like it lacked the clever hero’s ingenuity humans normally need to come out on top against an alien force. Instead it relies more on her just facing it straight on with hand-to-hand combat. The action scenes were quite well done but I wish there would’ve been a little more to her having to “Macguyver” her way to victory. Given the script though, Amber Midthunder, who portrays Naru, did a great job as our new hero. She’s cool but maybe just a bit too badass at times for me to truly believe that she’s ever in any actual legit danger. Still the whole vibe, time period, dazzling looking characters and her awesome dog companion made this a real welcome surprise when put neatly all together.

I also had some issues with some of the CGI work done with the animals in the movie. It’s a cool concept to see the Predator go one on one with a bear and a wolf but the way it was executed took me out of the movie again as the CGI sadly just wasn’t convincing enough. I also have somewhat of a problem with the Predator’s new look this time around as it was clear there must have been some sort of wonky CGI going on with it’s normally amazing practical animatronic face. Something that cannot be topped from the first 2 movies at least. Still though it managed to breathe some much needed fresh air into a fully dying franchise and at no point in the movie was I ever bored. So all in all I can admit this is a pretty damn solid entry in the franchise, one of the best installments but I can also say quite firmly that imo it’s NOT the best sequel to Predator.

I recently rewatched ‘Predator 2’ on Blu-Ray and it’s aged like a fine wine. Danny Glover is an amazing charismatic lead and the city setting/concrete jungle created a whole new creepy exciting scenario for the brutal carnage. PREY In my opinion doesn’t come close to besting Predator 2. Perhaps if the it was released in the early nineties it might have felt much more fresh than it does now today but sadly the franchise just doesn’t feel anywhere near as interesting as it used to no matter what scenario you might want to introduce.  In many ways the Predator franchise has simply run out a gas.

But if you still find yourself a die hard thirsty fan of the franchise looking for something new, you can’t go wrong with this new installment. It delivers enough of what we loved about the original to make it a worthwhile survival adventure flick! It’s a fairly unique little creature feature that would have been fun if it’d shown up in theaters…or 32 years ago!

VHS Verdict: 1990’s ‘WHEELS OF TERROR’ Goes The Distance!

I had a super sweet VHS swap at my store, Hollywood Babylon, in Portland Oregon a couple weeks ago and picked up some pretty promising picks on tape- Most notably ‘Wheels of Terror’ from 1990. A movie that luckily lives up to its sweet VHS cover!

 Originally an R rated, made for TV movie appearing on the USA Network, I admittedly didn’t have very high hopes for what would unfold on screen. As a big fan of road road horror I’m happy to report that this one really went the distance. Directed by Christopher Cain, most notably known for ‘Young Guns’ and ‘The Next Karate Kid’, I’d have never suspected he’d be capable of such a taut and effective tale of terror.  This would be a great  one to pair up with ‘The Hitcher’, ‘Duel’ or ‘Road Games’ for one helluva solid double feature.

 ‘Wheels’ pulls no damn punches and UPS the ante for some real high stakes horror!  In a nutshell it is the story of a single mother and her daughter who move to a small town in the desert. Mom’s a school bus driver, trying to get into the swing of small town life, it should be a simple adjustment right? WRONG! This small town has a BIG problem, a psychotic child predator is on the loose, abducting kids in his super fucked of sketchy demonic looking black car. Pretty messed up place to live huh? You bet!! Bad move Momma!

Well luckily the local mechanic souped up Mom’s school bus with a freakin’ race car engine, how’s that for foreshadowing?  Things get super tense real fast as the psycho driver begins to target the town zeroing in on the Mom’s daughter, arriving at their house reving his screechin’ engine in the dead of night. 

 At times it almost appears like the psycho is some sort of supernatural presence as no one seems to notice this bizarre freaky ass car driving around in broad daylight with no goddamn muffler! There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief that you might need a to really take this movie seriously but what it lacks in “grounded reality” It more than makes up for in tension. 

It would be one thing if it was simply a mass murderer driving around in a car but the fact that it’s a creepy sex offender makes the stakes shoot through the roof.  And once you get to the real meat and potatoes of the movie the final act is a goddamn balls to the wall action packed literal demolition derby thrill ride! Filled with great stunts, unexpected twists and fucking unrelenting killer road rage.

It’s lean run time of under 85 minutes also makes this one pack a powerful punch and is the perfect movie to watch with the rowdy gang of hungry cinefiles! I’d say my only real problem with ‘Wheels of Terror’ is the promise of some sort of mysterious reveal that might rear its ugly head in it’s finale that never comes sadly. Still its a bonafide lost hidden gem, full of action a’ plenty, strong characters and one wickedly terrifying villain! Hunt this little gem down and please someone give this nasty little flick a sweet blu ray release!!

 

VHS Verdict: The Hippies and Horror of ‘HIGH DESERT KILL’!’

I just recently ran across a pretty promising looking VHS tape, at least from the cover, ‘High Desert Kill’ from 1989 has all the right ingredients for one hell of a horror flick!


Marc Singer, The Beastmaster himself, rounds out the cast in this intriguing tale of terror in the deserts of New Mexico. However don’t be too dead set on blood-and-guts in this tale of survival. There’s really not a lick of gore to be found anywhere on screen for it’s entire run time.

It actually plays out like a bit of an extended episode of the X-Files (minus the Mulder and Scully type aspect) and I mean that as a compliment. I guess this was indeed a made for cable TV movie, don’t let that deter you though, cuz there’s a lot of forgotten gems in that category. We’ve got a great setting with 3 manly dudes who head out on a camping/hunting excursion deep in the desert in honor of their long lost deceased friend. There’s plenty of testosterone here going around as these sweaty often shirtless guys begin to almost immediately encounter some eerie occurrences upon arriving the first evening as well as some hot “hippie” babes (At least that’s what they seem to think they are for some reason) to liven up the party.

But things quickly go South as they start experiencing hallucinations and begin to believe they are being stalked by some unseen malevolent force. The desert of New Mexico is the perfect place for this creepy tale to unfold, it’s filled with plenty of mystery and the stunning beauty showcasing its natural surroundings..

To be honest the setting here is really the star of the show, there’s not a hell of a lot of spectacle to behold otherwise visually. No real flashy special effects or balls to the wall action sequences. However what it seems to lack in spectacle it makes up for with atmosphere, cleverly mixing a sense of dread and mystery at play with these old friends as the plot begins to slowly unfold and reveal it’s ugly details. The cover of the movie however does reveal perhaps a little more than it should with an alien spacecraft high in the sky, but don’t expect too much of that either and don’t expect too many skeletons to be rearing their ugly heads.

Despite those minor quibbles there’s plenty to love here and the cast of characters makes this weirdo trip one worth taking.  It also features a pretty interesting backstory, shrouded and Native American mythology. If you’re in the mood for a simple slowburn with a pretty satisfying twist to it ‘High Desert Kill’ will be more than sufficient watch for any fanatic of erie eighties sci fi. I also see that currently Kino Lorber has a preorder for this one on blu ray– check it out!

MOVIE MELT Heads Off to Michigan’s Lush & Legendary ‘WEREWOLF ISLAND’ !!

So I went back on the Movie Melt Podcast to cover yet another pretty impressive vanity project from 2018! This time we’re headed off to ‘Werewolf Island’ AKA ‘The Legend of ‘Dog Lady Island’ (a way better name imo) for some truly ridiculous midwest horror shenanigans straight out of Michigan!If you’re into stupid but ambitious low budget horror films then this episode will definitely NOT let you down- as a native Wisconsinite myself I’m fully on board for this voyage that takes us to a place where movies are rarely produced and rarely talked about-deep into the heart of the midwest. Director/star Michael James Alexander might be considered past his prime but he don’t give a DAMN, he’s gonna make his acting AND directing AND writing fantasies come TRUE whether you like it or not!

That’s what’s most exciting to me, cinematic dreams can sorta kinda come true even as you get older. It’s sorta somewhat inspiring as Werewolf Island kinda shows me that anyone with enough ambition and elbow grease can sorta produce, write, direct and start in a damn movie! So who knows maybe I’ll be next?!! 

Yeah…so this is NOT from the movie but what the hell, there aren’t any other photos from it online! This’ll do!

So I suggest you grab a few drinks, sit down and chill out here for some mind numbing movie madness with more useless cinematic information than your brain can humanly comprehend! 

Also some serious trash movie recommendations as well as some bonafide bangers, of what’ you might wanna be checking out if you’re a crazed mutant movie fanatic like myself! LISTEN TO MOVIE MELT RIGHT HERE!!

Believe the Hype: The KENOBI Fan Edit REALLY Gets it RIGHT!

In case you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard about the new Obi Wan Kenobi fan edit, I’m here to tell ya why you gotta check that shit out ASAP! If you thought the series from Disney Plus was a big, bloated, convoluted mess then you’ve come to the right place, because a fan named Kai Patterson had decided  to give Obi Wan the damn justice he so desperately needed going all the way back to the prequal trilogy!

 I’m here to set the record straight as obviously you can’t trust the giant corporate websites these days to tell you any truth at all about movies! Surprisingly though they get this one right, as many have been really hyping this fan edit up. People are now saying that they finally have the Obi Wan Kenobi Star Wars story that they’ve always dreamt of, 

 Kai likely saw that somewhere within the series it had a cool story to be told. He trims it down from a 280 plus minute run time to a mere 150 minutes a two and a half hour Star Wars movie. He gets rid of the stuff that didn’t work, moves around plot points, bad dialogue and streamlines the action sequences. Anyway everyone and their long lost Uncle are talking about it so I’m probably the last person you need to hear more from at this point, You can only view the film from HIS WEBSITE, So what are you waiting for go check it and finally enjoy some Star Wars!!!

VHS Verdict: ‘THE SPIRIT OF ’76’ Wacky 4th of July Sci-fi!

Hey it can be hard to find good things to watch after all of the festivities of the 4th of July right? Let’s face it after drinking a case of beer at the cookout you’re probably ready to watch something stupid and I’ve got a good one for ya! ‘The Spirit of 76’ is an almost entirely forgotten ridiculous scifi comedy from 1990. It features David Cassidy, pop icon, known for hisoh so sweet musical career in the Partridge Family, as he goes way back in time to the 1970s on mission to save planet Earth!

But wait, you also get to see not one but TWO slightly past their prime but still totally dreamy, former teen 70s heart throbs, cuz  this bad boy also features Leif Garrett too! One of my favorite parts of the movie though, it also stars Jeff and Steve McDonald of one of my favorite iconic punk rock power pop bands bands REDD KROSS!  The 2 brothers are channeling some serious “Bill and Ted” vibes and add some serious cred and charm this little wacked out adventure.

 So In the year 2176, determined time travelers including Cassidy and the stunningly beautiful Olivia d’Abo (OMG so crushed!) are sent back in time, in a tin can style space ship to the year 1776 in order to save our planet. However a computer glitch transports them instead to 1976 by mistake!! Things get idiotic real quick as of course they’re being chased by a sinister force trailing not far behind. 

However we get a pretty entertaining “fish out of water” storyline going here where Cassidy (who should be in his natural habitat in the real world) and Co have some serious adjusting to do when they encounter things like platform shoes, polyester suits, mood rings and untamed 1970’s babes galore!

Their guides, Jeff and Steve from Redd Kross help them through this glamorous era and avoid certain danger among the disco era. The whole thing is a riot and also features even more familiar faces, the likes of Tommy Chong, Devo, Moon Zappa, Rob Reiner and Downtown Julie Brown! 

There’s Kung Fu fighting, disco dancing, stupid looking spaceships and the  whole damn thing takes place on the 4th of July folks! Get down!!

There’s a lot of pretty sharp comedy in this and tons of red, white and blue check out this little long forgotten scifi comedy, cult classic down if you want something a bit off the beaten path this 4th!! Here’s Redd Kross with the theme song ‘1976’ for the movie! One of my favorite tracks from their 1990 album ‘Third Eye’!!

Even better here is the entire movie, only 81 minutes long for your 4th of July viewing right on YouTube for free!!

 

4th of July Horror Explosion: 1996’s ‘UNCLE SAM’ is a Bloody Blast!

All these years I’ve sorta avoided ‘Uncle Sam’ from 1996, assuming it was some sort of idiotic throw away, direct to video waste of time. The VHS cover was unforgettable, a wild lenticular evil Uncle Sam in glorious 3-D! Still for decades I never checked this out kind of on purpose.

This 4th of July however I was looking for something in the horror genre that might take place around the holiday and of COURSE there was good ol ‘Uncle Sam’ front and center. I almost passed on it yet again, but this time I noticed something that I def hadn’t before. It was directed by William Lustig famed for the brilliant ‘Maniac Cop’ franchise and written by one of my genre favorites Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, The Ambulance, Return to Salem’s Lot, Q: The Winged Serpent). Why the Hell hadn’t I realized this sooner?! 

Well Uncle Sam indeed delivered everything I’d hoped it would and much more! It’s a great horror flick with some razor sharp comedy/social commentary, just what you’d hope it would have being written by Larry Cohen. It’s a wild story about a kid who’s freakishly  obsessed with becoming a soldier, kickin’ ass for the USA & doing whatever the fuck President tells him to!  He’s also obsessed with his Uncle, who’s real name is Sam, who tragically dies in the Iraq war from “friendly fire”.

When his body is shipped back to their home(?) to sit until his grave is dug, bizarre events lead to his dead decaying body reanimating and donning an Uncle Sam outfit which he strips from a peeping Tom on stilts after after murdering him!

 At this point Uncle Sam embarks on a full on “Jason Voorhees” killing spree during the 4th of July as the small town starts to celebrate. I’d always assumed that this movie was a total farce/spoof, but far from it. It’s got a cool fast paced story, plenty of obnoxious patriotic humor and even a strong social commentary about the US government and war itself. There’s also some inventive kills (with fireworks of course!), cool make up effects and a cast which stars fan favorites Robert Forster and Isaac Hayes.

Probably one of the most ridiculous aspects and enjoyable parts of the whole movie is the kid and his crazy ass obsession with the United States and his over the top ludicrous patriotism on full display. It’s pretty gut busting and as a whole Uncle Sam is a total delight that somehow eluded me for almost three damn decades.

As far as 4th of July viewing you really can’t do better than this, the most “4th of July” horror movie of all time thankfully has got all the right moves and the talent behind it is evident in the final product. I got this bad boy on blu ray from Blue Underground! But now I want that damn 3-D lenticular VHS too! Hunt down Uncle Sam THIS 4th of July!!

 

 

LGBTQ Pride Month Cover: NORTHSTAR! Marvel’s 1st Gay Superhero!

It’s pride month & U-Dork is here to feature a sweet comic book cover way back from 1986, Marvel Fanfare #28, featuring Marvel Comics very 1st and BEST openly gay superhero, the one and only Northstar!

Yes! Alpha Flight has been an ALL time favorite of mine since 1983. A cool, cast of characters created by comic legends John Byrne & Chris Claremont, and one of the most diverse, even by today’s standards, superhero teams around. Northstar is a true fan favorite as Marvel’s first openly gay character, who officially made news back in issue #106 when he made his reveal January 14th, 1992. I remember back then it was quite a big deal.

However even though the character was always intended to be gay, more conservative restrictions back in the early 80s on comic books wouldn’t allow it. Instead Byrne had to let readers read between the lines. Northstar is a true LGBTQ legend and honestly I’m quite surprised that Alpha Flight has not made its way onto the big screen. Seriously get with the program MCU!

Not only is Northstar one of the coolest mutants in the MCU he’s also got one of the best most boisterous attitudes around.  He’s always been a fun read and never a dull moment when dealing with him. Over the years he has even joined the ranks of the X-Men.  However I personally enjoy him much more as a member of Alpha Flight..

 This cover of Marvel Fanfare #28 is an excellent representation of him and the team as you can see when viewing the full wrap-around cover. It creates quite a stunning full picture, beautifully illustrated by Ken Steacy.

 The character of Northstar is one of my favorites and definitely deserves to be honored this month in particular! Props to Northstar AKA Jean-Paul Beaubier!

Final Verdict: Disney STAR WARS is Pretty Decent FAN Fiction!

‘Obi Wan Kenobi’ has officially wrapped up with the finale of the series released today! I watched it an enjoyed the finale/the series in general was pretty fun. It was a good time seeing the prequel era get some love, Ewan & Hayden back for some sort of “redemption” from their wooden performances of the prequels was nice to see. That all being said this series has really cemented Disney Star Wars, at least for me, as big budget fan fiction. Long gone are the days of me freakin’ out over new Star Wars stuff.

At this point I view this new stuff in the same way I do YouTuber Star Wars fan fiction videos. It took me a while to get here as for years The “Sequel” Trilogy would trigger me into a geek rage. But once I realized George Lucas had sold Disney the treatments for his true sequel trilogy and they chose to instead let JJ & Rian Johnson write their own, I knew Star Wars now is actually more like a Marvel Comics “What If?” adventure than the real vision of George.

 

Today, I just don’t take it seriously for THAT simple reason. It’s just like ‘Legends’, but with less interesting, less daring, more corporate influence over the franchise. ‘Kenobi’ was just fine, it had some great moments but it also had what I think was somewhat predictable, lazy story telling.

It’s honestly probably the best you’re gonna get out of a giant corporate entity that is pumping out Star Wars content like an 80s sitcom rather than a precious cinematic event. It’s all now sorta just regular standard streaming “content”, we know more is on the way by the boatload to keep that monthly subscription ongoing. $$$$$ to the MOUSE Y’all!!

So it was all just fine, Kenobi came back and while it wasn’t mind blowing storytelling it was for the most part a “good time”. Of all the series on Disney Plus though this should have been “the one” to melt the minds of the fans. So many missed opportunities to make a truly epic unforgettable adventure. My expectations are low these days, so I wasn’t let down but still, I always just wish they’d have George crafting at the very least the BASIC storylines…

I wanna know what had REALLY happened to Luke, Leia, Lando & Han from the creator himself. I wanted to know what Obi Wan & Vader were really up to during this time period and we’ll perhaps the mystery of it all is better left in the minds of us fans...