Category: Sci Fi
MOVIE MELT Podcast Covers Fangoria’s 1992 Northern Wisconsin Creature Feature: SEVERED TIES!
The latest episode of the Movie Melt podcast is a special one, especially for all of you “cheeseheads” out there-We cover the third Fangoria Films bizarro teen mad scientist monster flick ‘SEVERED TIES’ from 1992! This mostly forgotten gem was filmed in my home state of Wisconsin, way up north in my old stomping grounds-Rhinelander! WTF right? Why in the world would they choose the small town northwoods area to film NOT just Severed Ties but ALL three of their first feature films up there?!
Well the story is truly intriguing and on this episode we bring on special FX artist and native northern Wisconsinite Hank Carlson to tell his wild story of Windsor Lake Studios, the team behind ‘Hellraiser’ who decided to set up shop there. Hank fills us in on how as a small town teen with an unlikely dream of cracking into the biz as a make up artist, he somehow lands his dream job in the late 80s!
We get the scoop on horror history in the making and discuss ‘Severed Ties’ in all of it’s gooey glory! Plus a Wisconsin themed Battle of the bands in this ALL things Wisconsin horror movie mash up..
Who says dreams can’t come true?! Tune in RIGHT HERE to check out the episode and delve head on into one of the strangest horror films of the 1990’s: a practical fx creature feature that’s in desperate need of a fancy blu ray release and a devoted cult following…
The Best of Netflix DVD: Reggie Banister Enters the CEMETERY GATES!!
Reggie Banister of “Phantasm fame” is one of my favorite horror heroes-hands down! The horror franchise is my all time favorite of the genre, Reggie is one of the main reasons why it resonates with me so hard. What I’ve noticed though is Reg really doesn’t take center stage in any other movies I can think of, it’s usually just brief cameos in things like ‘Bubba Ho-tep’ or even ‘Kenny & Company’. Well that’s what I was led to believe but low and behold through the Netflix “red envelope” dvd mailer program (that’s sadly coming to an end soon), I received a movie from queue that’d been sitting there for years! The 2004 (or 2006?) horror flick CEMETERY GATES finally arrived in the mail, I really had quite low expectations and quickly noticed Reggie Banister was appearing, I figured he’d likely be doing another “horror cameo” in a low budget production. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I was pleasantly surprised, Reggie is one of the main characters in this one & better yet even the movie is somehow a total gem-a gore soaked, practical fx creature feature with heart and a heroic dose of humor while also a somewhat intriguing story at play. Yeah I was expecting a steamin’ load of shit and what I got was one of my new favorites of the 2000’s horror movies. It’s filled with a cast of fun characters, many of which are total boneheads, which make this little gnarly flick even more of a blast. It’s the story of an escaped lab animal-a giant mutated Tasmanian devil named “Precious” who goes on a muderous rampage in the countryside when set loose by some numbskull animal rights activists.
The lab Precious came from is owned by……Reggie Banister, a seasoned scientist who’s sad about his son moving out on his own. His son an aspiring horror filmmaker is heading out to the country with his horny numb nut buddies to film a zombie film, little does he know his childhood now mutated “pet” Precious (who was experimented on) is running wild in the vicinity.
Precious though is not the only threat, there’s some horny braindead hillbillies, who look like the perfect lunch for a tasmanian devil, also raising hell. Reggie and his sexy scientist buddy soon discover the missing creature and set out to the countryside to try and track it down before it goes completely bonkers on the local population.
Cemetery Gates has got a lot going for it, Reggie pretty awesome in it and there’s a certain bit of idiotic charm to his relationship with his son AND his son’s relationship with the former lab pet turned mutant. It’s also a load of fun to see all these utterly moronic characters get ripped to shreds by Precious. We’ve got the idiotic hillbillies, some middle aged stoners, Richard Elfman as an insane fisherman, the bonehead amateur actors and a few random hikers that suffer the brunt of the gore. The fun is really had when we see Precious in the flesh on it’s killing spree. She tears limbs, decapitates and rips apart a ton of people all in gloriously gooey practical fx and real onscreen “blood” galore. The creature looks pretty damn good too in that sorta 1980s style monster mayhem.
It’s so absurdly charming looking in the flesh and when the final confrontation goes down with Precious it becomes a “family affair’. Reggie, his son, his girlfriend and Reggie’s hot lab partner go all in on taking down the mutated ‘taz in a dark subterranean lair beneath a cemetery. There’s some real heart here at it’s core that sincerely shines through all of the moronic antics that occur and I really appreciate the entire fiasco.
It to me, hits all the right beats, finally another film essentially featuring Reggie front and center to love. He’s here in all of his hair dyed glory to kick some monster booty once again & who’d have thought it’d be again in the mid 2000’s? There’s some good atmosphere and plenty of mischief for Reggie & co to get into as well. If this thing had been released in the 80s it’d be a bonafide cult classic. I’ve NEVER heard anyone speak a peep about Cemetery Gates, so I’m taking it to my platform to get the damn word out.
It’s the perfect midnight movie to rock with some starving cinemaniacs-they may doubt it’s merit by it’s cover but chances are it’ll quench any gorehounds thirst as well as tickle their funny bone. Cemetery Gates is true 2000’s cult classic in the wings….
The MOVIE MELT Podcast’s Wildly Erotic Appointment with DR. CALIGARI!
It’s quite an interesting appointment when you’re set to pay a visit to a brand new new doctor & this week on the MOVIE MELT podcast we got one helluva check up by checking out 1989’s wildly erotic horror flick DR. CALIGARI! A bizarre nightmare from the director of the legendary plot centric-porno ‘Cafe Flesh’, Stephen Sayadian comes this equally strange dive into complete madness!
Yes! ‘Doctor Caligari’ is most definitely a weird one, an erotically gross dreamlike voyage into an insane asylum led by the daughter of the legendary 1920’s mad practitioner! There’s some serious problems when people become human guinea pigs of sultry doc as she performs experiments on patients with the most extreme shock therapies and hormone treatments. the results are quite shocking in this avante garde slice of madness. It’s filled to the brim with neon sets, strange creatures, human sized tongues, babes, hunks, scarecrow hand-jobs and lots of nonsensical plot points that will drive you absolutely NUTS!
Also on this episode is a “best of” battle of the bands, featuring the most idiotic musical numbers and artists to grace the damn internet-listen to the stupidest songs duke it out for the ultimate prize-MOVIE MELT’s seal of approval. Plus we discuss some cool movies we think you’ve just gotta see and so much MORE including a discussion on deepfake penises!
Grab a case of beer, get cozy and ready for the good times to roll as we plunge into the weird ass cinematic world of DR. CALIGARI on the latest episode of MOVIE MELT!
Needs to be BLU: Brigitte Neilson’s 90s Sci-Fi Ass Kicker GALAXIS!
Today I’m starting a new series on U-Dork called “Needs to be Blu” Where I’m going to start documenting all of the movies that I’ve seen that most desperately need a fancy ass blu ray release! There are still some real gems out there that just aren’t getting the attention they deserve, are out of print on dvd or have only EVER been released on VHS format.
Today my recommendation to all those fancy labels out there like Vinegar Syndrome, Culture Shock, Arrow video, Visual Vengeance etc is Brigitte Nielsen’s sci-fi actioner GALAXIS aka Terminal Force released in 1994. Brigitte Nielson stars as a inter-galactic space babe who kicks a lot of ass coming across like Dolph Lundgren’s lady action counterpart. Check it out:
I wish she’d have had more cheesy roles like this(I’ve got to check out BODY COUNT still), she’s such charming presence and iconic femme fatale. In this particular film she really looks the part too, she dwarfs most of the men in height and doesn’t take a lick a shit from a single one of them. It’s a bit of a mix between The Terminator and Highlander and feels like it was shot in the late 1980s. It hits all the right beats for me- the fish out of water, light romance, charmingly idiotic characters, some genuinely fun special fx as well as a good sense of humor throughout. Plus Moll here who’s a great B-movie villain (check out ‘Dungeonmaster’ from 1984 for more proof of that) is of course a lot of fun to watch ham it up!
A cool little sci-fi “run for your life in a big city” adventure where Brigitte is your guide and Richard Moll reprises his “bad guy” role again as a sort of Darth Vader type villain. Top top it all off Sam Raimi even shows up for some of the fun early on and so do some stop motion robots thankfully. Lots of lasers, dark steamy alleys, ridiculous bad guys and of course Nielsen looking all sexy as the amazonian leather clad lead, just legit dumb fun that I’m always all in for.
Aside from Brigitte the co-lead John Brennan plays a charismatic numbskull treasure hunter who’s on the hunt for some strange artifact, one that Brigitte and Moll are on the hunt for as well. Along the way he of course gets mixed up in a boatload of shenanigans that Nielson usually has to solve by kicking someone’s ass.
The lucky guy gets to join forces with Nielson, and the two slowly fall for each other, too bad the evil Moll always seems to arrive before anything can ever really happen for the two! As far as dumb bad guys go too there’s a really over the top mob boss guy played by Fred Asparagus who somehow manages to be a major player in the action all the way up to it’s boiler room style finale. Obviously this is prime cheez, it’s fun, fast paced and largely forgotten- Someone release this on blu ray!
‘CYST’ Brings Back Old School 80’s Gross Out Monster Mayhem!
Where have all the gross out out slimy monster movies disappeared to? Well if you’re in the mood for gallons of ooze, slime and pus you’ve come to the the right place with CYST. A 2020 monster movie that’s largely flown under the radar and brings back all the old style practical fx you might be been missing in 2023.
Set back in the 1960’s at a doctor’s office that specializes in cyst removals, we get the story of an insane practitioner who’s experimenting with a new lazer on patients and their bulging boils. The doctor played by Troll 2’s George Hardy, is really more like a mad scientist who takes pleasure in popping a plethora of enormous pus filled pimples, most of which explode directly onto our main character/heroine Patricia, a nurse who’s had it with the doctor and all of the slimy ooze she’s got to deal with on the daily. She’s put in her notice and it’s her last day on the job. The Doc, flustered about her sudden resignation, takes pleasure in all the pus way too much and he’s hell bent on using this new laser technique on a special patient with a large, ready to burst, boil on his back.
This however triggers the cyst to quickly develop a mind of it’s own-it separates from it’s host and shows it’s true nature-a rapidly growing one eyed monster. This disgusting beastie goes on a rampage and the patients, doctors, nurses and employees are inadvertently trapped inside the building. This begins a fight to the death with the tentacled monster, that looks like a more disgusting creature you might see in a nightmare version of H.R. Puffnstuff or Sigmund the Seamonster.
Cyst is a neat little modern retro creature feature that tries it’s damndest to gross you out with all of the over the top pimple popping pus and blood. However, as gross as that all sounds it’s never very beleivable as all the ooze looks far too cartoonish to ever be taken very seriously. It’s instead plays out like a more disgusting version of Nickelodeon’s ‘You Can’t Do That On Television’. I think with Cyst’s super short run time (69 minutes), it’s black comedy and “try to gross you out” old school monster fx it’d be best described as almost like an excellent lost ‘Tales from the Crypt’ episode. If they ever revive the series they should look to Cyst for inspiration, it’d make for a modern “Crypt” crowd pleaser.
There’s a bit of black humor here too but it’s refreshing that for the most part it’s all played pretty straight. This could have easily devolved into another stupid modern tongue in cheek ‘Troll 2’ style attempt at a “bad” movie. Instead we get a lean old school monster movie with some charming characters and ambitious 80’s style creature and gore fx work here to really amp things up. Cyst is certainly not the greatest modern monster movie but it’s helluva fun ride-best to be absorbed with a gang of horror freaks and some stiff drinks. A pretty damn solid modern midnight movie!
The Original “Ralph Bakshi” Style MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE 1982 Animation?!
The Masters of the Universe were always one of my favorite action figures and animated series of the 1980s! I had soooo many of the toys and watched the show every day after school. The cartoon series was a lot of fun but I always wondered later in life what a darker grittier version of the show might look like?!
A lot of their original artwork had a sort of “Frazzeta/Vallejo” style to it. It looked pretty edgy and dark in that 70’s fantasy style. Here’s a few of my favorite images of the artwork that show the darker fantasy potential to He-man and the Masters of the Universe:
I recently saw this 1982 TV ad, apparently the first commercial of the toyline, it raised my eyebrows a bit. The animation style has a grittier feel and I wonder if this version of it was ever on the table for the animated series? It definitely feels like a bit more time or frames were used for these limited sequences. That’s not to say the animated series didn’t have it’s charm but it does have a lighter feel to it. Check it!
This version almost feels more in line with something like “Fire and Ice”, Ralph Bakshi’s iconic sword and sorcery animated epic. Whatever the case I really love that a glimpse into the darker side of The Masters of the Universe exists even if just in a short animated sequence in an early 80’s toy commercial…..Oh and becuz it rules so hard here’s the Fire & Ice trailer! The guy kinda has a “He-man” vibe to him huh?
RIP Steve Barkett: A True B-Movie LEGEND.
It’s just come to my attention that the highly underrated B-movie legend Steve Barkett (born in 1950) has passed away, the news via Jim Wynorski. I think it’s a sad day for anyone who knew of some his wildly entertaining movies and raw charisma as an actor. I only recently discovered his movies about 5 years ago but when I did it was a game changer. If you’re gonna start out anywhere with Steve I highly recommend Empire of the Dark his 1990 horror/action hybrid. He not only directed this movie but also starred in the leading role AND wrote the script. It’s a highly ambitious mix of horror fantasy, tuff guy action film and romantic comedy. It would make the perfect double feature with Evil Dead 2.
Yeah it’s THAT awesome and I know it’s saying a lot but I think Steve here oozes just as much charisma as Bruce Campbell in the leading role. He shines as the unlikely action hero who can somehow go “one on one” with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren.
Also for his budget he makes more than the most of just about everything in this movie from wild demonic set pieces in hell to crazy action battles. This is the one movie of his that I will watch over and over for the rest of my life.
He was a highly ambitious and incredibly inventive filmmaker, it’s a bit of a shame that his directorial output only manifested two movies, but both are awesome.
But don’t get me wrong he did so much more he starred in some other sweet B-movies in smaller roles like 1994’s Dinosaur Island, 1995’s Bikini Drive-In, 1993’s Dark Universe his other sole directorial post apocalyptic masterpiece The Aftermath (1982).
I’d always hope that he’d get behind the camera and in front of the camera in larger rolls a bit more in his later years, but hes left behind a some major league gems that anyone who’s a fan of low budget genre perfection must watch!
Steve will be remembered for all of the laughs and smiles he gave to all of us fans of these crazy movies- If you’re reading this post and you’ve never heard of him do yourself a favor and check out Empire of the Dark and The Aftermath ASAP! RIP Steve….
The Movie Melt Podcast Encounters ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS!!
I went back on to the MOVIE MELT PODCAST and had a serious close encounter with Richard Elfman’s (older brother of Danny Elfman) latest wacky comedy ‘ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS’! Richard has been making movies since 1980 and this is only my second feature of his I’ve seen, the first being 1994’s “horror” comedy ‘Shrunken Heads’. I can say though I have seen the music video he directed for his bro Danny’s band Oingo Boingo!
In this zany story an out-of-work actor stumbles upon a key to the universe that emerges directly out of his butt. Things in his life change quickly when he that he realizes there’s an intergalactic war between clowns and aliens. I guess the rest of the cast are the “geeks”? He’s stuck in the middle of a “wild” conspiracy and he’s got to get to the bottom of this global threat. It’s a weird one, with a touch of “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” and a dash of John Waters.
Plus we talk about movies you need to be watching and there’s also a ‘battle of the bands’ that will blow your mind! Is Richard Elfman my new fave director?! Has a modern comedy FINALLY delivered the goods? Is this movie a stroke of GENIUS or one BIG lame flat deflated joke? CHECK OUT THE EPISODE RIGHT HERE!! Oh yeah and the FULL movie is on Youtube or you can get the blu ray from MVD:
New Vintage 35mm Practical FX Horror Fantasy: Moon Garden!
I’ve been thinking lately while watching lots of movies from the 1980s about how much I really miss the feel of movies using practical effects, shot on real film, at real locations & on real sets. Let’s face it, even if you just love, say, Marvel movies, you’ve got to be able to admit that they can feel a bit soulless, jam packed with an overabundance of CGI, green screening & basically are void of any real life stunt work. I mean they even CG costumes on people. I’ve been thinking about how interesting it’d be if modern filmmakers would set out to make a fantastical film either in the horror, sci-fi, superhero genre and choose to not use ANY technology past 1990. A real bonafide, old school, hands on MOVIE.
Well I’ve probably gotten my wish, or at least something very close to it. The upcoming horror fantasy ‘Moon Garden’ appears to be going for the gold here, first being shot on expired 35mm film, which apparently can create some interesting and unexpected results. A bold move I think, secondly utilizing practical effects like puppetry, animatronics and stop motion animation. The trailer looks pretty incredible!
The premise is simple, a little girl has quite a troubling family life. One evening we find her running away from her arguing parents, she trips, falls down hard and as a result descends into a deep, dark coma. She awakens in a strange new place, more akin to a waking nightmare. She begins a journey through a sinister world where bizarre creatures are lurking around every corner.
The little girl goes on an adventure to carefully make her way back to consciousness armed only with a radio. This brought to mind an underrated Australian film from 1988 called ‘Paperhouse’, ‘The City of Lost Children’ and obviously the more popular ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. All have a surreal, dreamlike quality to them and Moon Garden at first look appears to be in the same realm. This looks like something special and it’s Coming sometime this year- Check this out!
The Northwoods of Wisconsin’s 1980s Horror Films & FANGORIA Connection?!
I just visited my old stompin’ grounds up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin & it peaked my interest into a specific window of time in the late 1980s & early 90s when apparently horror movie productions were a hot commodity up there-Fangoria was on the cutting edge of “cheesehead” fright flicks! Who knew? So waaaay up north there’s a cluster of small towns, Eagle River, Three Lakes, Sugar Camp & Rhinelander that were the main staple in filming many of these late 80’s early 90’s horror films. There was a unique studio all the way from the UK that oddly made it’s headquarters somewhere between this little group of cities. My mom currently lives in Three lakes (we had a cottage on a lake there since the 80s, my dad grew up there, my Aunt does too and owns a property in Sugar Camp & my mom also just bough a property in Rhinelander) alas I have spent a LOT of time there throughout my life. In fact I was just up there for an entire month. However I never suspected it was a mini horror mecca until recently. Why? Well let’s find out! Wisconsinite horror fanatics, this one’s for YOU!
Windsor Lake Studios which was based in Eagle River, Wisconsin, (I’ve heard possibly Sugar Camp Wisconsin too?) population 1300, produced a number of films for Fangoria and a few other smaller VHS only companies, though a few actually have made it onto blu ray over the past few years. Oddly only one of the trio of Fangoria Films releases have seen blu ray releases. At the time it was a big deal in the horror community when they started producing their own movies. It’s strange to me how or why a movie studio that produced predominantly horror flicks was open and operational in this tiny region nestled in the thick of the Northwoods and it’s plentiful chain of lakes. It’s definitely NOT Hollywood in the Northwoods-I can fully attest to that! That being said you just might run into a Rhinelander, Hodag (pictured below) in the woods if you’re lucky enough..
Windsor Lake Studio was started in 1987 and attracted the talent of Eagle River native Hank Carlson, only a teen at the time but had ambitions to be the “next Tom Savini”. He went on to become quite an impressive practical fx artist getting his start at Winsdor Lake by being annoyingly persistent, visiting the studio property many times though univited. There’s a great interview with him right here for all of you locals who want the scoop on this regional horror legend. He also gives some excellent perspective in the commentary of the Arrow Video blu ray’s for ‘Trapped Alive’ & ‘The Chill Factor’.
The three owners of the studio were from the UK and producers of major Hollywood hits ‘Heathers’ and more notably ‘Hellraiser’ & ‘Hellraiser II: Hellbound’. Apparently the premiere for ‘Hellraiser’ happened at the Vilas theater in small town Eagle River where Hank Carlson worked. I wish I’d have known that back then dammit!