Category: Supernatural Encounters

Bonkers Brazillian Supernatural Slasher Trailer: ‘SKULL: The MASK’!

I’ve been looking around for interesting movies during the lockdown and this one definitely looks like it’s got potential if you’re into crazy gooey practical fx and supernatural slashers. ‘Skull: The Mask’ comes from Brazil and the trailer looks pretty damn promising!

We follow the story of an ancient relic in the from of a creepy ass mask that turns it’s wearer into a rampaging maniac that looks like he just had a successful audition for GWAR!

“In the year 1944, an artifact is used in a military experiment. The artifact is the Mask of Anhangá, the executioner of Tahawantinsupay, a Pre-Columbian God. The experience fails. Nowadays, the Mask arrives at Sao Paulo. The Mask possesses a body and starts to commit visceral sacrifices on vengeance for the incarnation of its God, initiating a blood bath. The policewoman Beatriz Obdias is in charge of the crimes, challenging her beliefs”

Check this one out Horror hounds it looks like a ton of fun!

VHS Verdict: 1998’s ‘WATCHERS REBORN’ is Better Than ‘THE LAST JEDI’!

Hello everyone out there, I hope you’re all doing your best during these unprecedented times, staying inside and staying SAFE! Being essentially trapped indoors leaves plenty of time to watch movies, well the other evening I’d found myself thinking about the colossal failure of the Disney Star Wars “Sequel Trilogy”. If only they’d have given us fans what they’d always dreamed of, a cohesive compelling story that gave us a truly unforgettable send off to the characters we’d been waiting 30 plus years to see again AND brand new fleshed out characters who we could continue to follow on cosmic adventures for years to come. In many hardcore fan’s opinions we got neither and I was thinking of how awesome it would have been to watch this “sequel trilogy” over and over if it’d had been done with care and not flat out wasted classic characters like Leia & Luke Skywalker.

Mark Hamill in particular really got the short end of the stick and many fans of arguably the most iconic pop culture character, Luke Skywalker left ‘Episode 8’ feeling incredibly underwhelmed. Well many fans might appreciate an alternative to ‘The Last Jedi’ in the form of a largely forgotten sequel to ‘The Watchers’ (the totally 80’s super fun Corey Haim Creature Feature), ‘Watchers Reborn’. The star of the whole show? You guessed it Mark Hamill! Technically the 4th film in The Watchers franchise, it’s the only sequel that’s really worth tracking down and technically more of a sequel to the first movie anyway. Keep in mind this one’s a fully b-level monster flick, it’s cheezy, it’s low budget but it’s got a lot more heart than The Last Jedi! You’ll get a great does of 90’s Hamill front and center in a pretty damn fun little horror thriller. Another plus is that it’s directed by John Carl Buechler (RIP), practical fx wizard behind New World Pictures, who’s done some stellar work right up until his death in 2019 (Hatchet, Nightmare on Elm St 4, Troll, Friday the 13th part 7) .

In this sci-fi charged tale, the US government has lost control of the “Outsider”, an experimental human animal hybrid forced into becoming a savage killing machine. The monster busts loose onto the city streets and eventually into a local zoo where it begins it spree of murder. The Government desperately seeking to cover up the break out, sends agents from the NSA to begin eliminating anyone involved with the project. This inspires Dr. Grace Hudson, who’d worked closely with the creature to run for her life. Enter down on his luck Jack Murphy (Mark Hamill), a skilled detective whose partner was just murdered by the Outsider. While investigating the murder Jack runs into a stray golden retriever with human intelligence named Einstein, who escaped from the same governmental agency responsible for the Outsider. He reluctantly takes the dog in and eventually decides to help Dr. Hudson escape from the clutches of deadly assassins. Now on the run, the trio must rely on the few resources they have left evading the clutches of of the vicious monster that is also trailing them.
 
 
‘Watchers Reborn’ is worth the price of admission alone for Mark Hamill, who’s a ton of fun in this one. There’s plenty of heartfelt and comedic moments here to enjoy, especially his relationship with the uber intelligent dog being a pretty sweet highlight. There’s certainly more charming moments for Mark here than in The Last Jedi and to be honest, despite it’s small budget is a lot more fun to watch. It also makes me sad Lucas didn’t utilize Hamill in the 90’s for a Star Wars adventure, he would have truly shined once again as the character. Instead much of Hamill’s post Star Wars career had been reduced to largely forgotten B-movies, this being one of the best in my opinion.
 
 
There’s also some pretty fun gory monster moments here, action and a pretty well done werewolf-y creature thanks to Buechler’s fx skills. A bit of a road movie, buddy comedy and action thriller rolled into one, ‘Watchers Reborn’ is a truly delightful piece of 90’s schlock. I’d buy this one on Blu-ray along with 1988 original for sure if it ever gets the proper treatment. If you’ve felt a little depressed about Luke Skywalker recently I suggest checking this one out, grab a few drinks and some pizza because this one is a cheezy slice of cinema from much simpler times…..
 

 
 

 

Lockdown Movie Mayhem: What Should YOU & I Be Watching?!

Hello everyone from the land of self quarantine! Damn!! I really hope all of you out there are staying safe safe, staying home and keeping your damn sanity. With all that being said, I guess some good can indeed come out of all this isolation?  On the bright side there’s now plenty of time to watch as many movies, tv shows & read as many comic books as humanly imaginable. But let’s face it, the hard part is finding the quality entertainment to pass the time. So my question to you all: what should I be watching to take my mind off of all of this damn craziness? One can only watch so much of the depressing anxiety inducing news! So please let me know in the comments what the hell I might be missing out on!        

                                                                                                                                                                   

 I’d say the best thing that I’ve seen since this stinkin’ self quarantine began was a movie called “Good Boys” from 2019. It’s easily one of the best damn comedies of the last 5 years, no doubt about that. It follows the adventures of three tween boys as they go on a “desperate” mission to recover a lost drone they used to spy on their teenage neighbor in hopes of learning how to kiss for an upcoming “kissing party”. Of course along the way they get into a shitload o’ mischief and meet more than their fair share of ridiculously shady characters. It kind of reminds me of ‘Superbad’ with 12 year olds. Make no mistake, this by no means is a kids movie though, but the kids in it are full on comic geniuses. One of my new faves for sure. So check it out if you’re looking for something that’s likely to put a smile on your face in the times of pandemic. It won’t disappoint!    

                                                                        

Otherwise the movie pickins have been pretty slim to be honest. I checked out a couple horror movies from the 80s that were filmed in my home state of Wisconsin, both of which ended up being interesting for that reason to me but easily could cause drowsiness to the average movie fanatic. Oddly, both I believe were released by Troma films at some point in time. First was ‘Blood Hook’, a semi-promising 80’s fishing slasher flick and second was the super snoozer ‘The Capture of Bigfoot.’ 

Both appeared, from their cool VHS covers to be epic horror flicks, but I quickly found myself nearly nodding off or having those wicked thoughts of god damn Corona weaseling it’s way back into my mind. Not a good sign. I am though, very intrigued with movies that were filmed in Wisconsin, especially horror movies which there really aren’t many of in the land of cheese.

The Midwest was not exactly the epicenter of groundbreaking filmmaking especially in the 80s. But if you’re from “America’s Dairyland” both of these are definitely worth a peek for that fact at least I suppose?                                                                                                           

I did though check out a cool movie from 1989 called ‘Vampire Buster'(AKA Ninja Vampire Busters), a sweet Hong Kong horror comedy. It follows an haunted urn containing a wicked demon that mysteriously ends up in Hong Kong after being auctioned off to a rich Tycoon. Of course things go off the rails when the evil is accidentally released from it and wastes no time to begin possessing innocent people. Luckily the owner of the urn, “The Vampire Buster” is hot on its tracks, arriving in Hong Kong with his supernatural abilities and smooth ass martial arts moves in full effect.

Lots of cool 80s visual-effects going on here and some genuinely creepy moments, along with a hefty dose of well landing comedy make ‘Vampire Buster’ one of the standouts in my recent binge of Hong Kong horror viewing. Much of how entertaining it is largely relies on Kent Cheung’s (who stars as the magical demon buster) charisma and highly impressive martial arts skills. For a man of his stature he surely has some truly impressive feats of agility, bringing to mind the legendary Sammo Hung. Track down ‘Vampire Buster’ and I even advise watching it with the English dub track as it’s pretty well done and the voices for once I feel actually enhance the movie’s charm. That being said there was not one damn vampire to be seen in ‘Vampire Buster’….Ok now what have YOU seen that’s worth a watch during the pandemic?

VHS Verdict: ‘Saga of the Phoenix’ Brings the Monsters & 80’s Mayhem!!

I finally got a round to checking out 1989’s ‘Saga of the Phoenix’, the wildly entertaining sequel to ‘The Peacock King’ from cult classic Hong Kong director Lam Ngai Kai (Riki-Oh). If you’re a fan of ‘Riki-Oh’ I highly recommend checking out the director’s other work and while ‘Saga of the Phoenix’ isn’t as shockingly violent, it’s easily just as wild and crazy as anything he’s ever done.  In the sequel we follow once again, the exploits of the two magical monks Lucky Fruit and Peacock but more so this time the “Hell Virgin” Ashura who in the last movie caused some major problems, almost destroying mankind as we know it while under the enchantment of the devil. Ashura though still loves the mortal world and eventually is granted permission to live there for 7 days, only if she makes a promise to stay out of any mischief that might interfere with the human world. She gladly accepts and quickly hunts down a weird gremlin creature named “Genie” when arriving on Earth. Peacock, Lucky Fruit and 3 bad ass nuns are also then sent down to chaperone her visit, but of course the wicked “Hell Concubine” has other plans, to send her evil minions there as well to try and corrupt her once again. 

Though I’ve heard many seem to think this one is more “kid friendly”, probably because the gremlin character “Genie”is focused on quite a bit. Though we follow Ashura and him running around Hong Kong in the 80’s having fun (which I totally dug), it’s still got plenty of downright bizarre scenarios to behold that I think places it in a league all of it’s own and quite a worthy sequel. There’s also the inclusion of a brother and sister human duo that befriend the main characters and the brother just happens to be a madcap inventor of an inter dimensional time machine. Go figure! There’s a few hints of romance and of course the three nun protectors all decide to go for a dip in the human’s swimming pool after their outfits get shredded in battle, donning swimsuits for the first time in their rather “sheltered” life. There’s also some pretty perplexing plot choices surrounding the character of Genie that just kind of have to be seen to be believed. The character which is a mix of puppet and stop-motion animation has got plenty to do here and is given more than his fair share of moments to shine and even scare.

Sure there’s a lot going on here in a movie with an admittedly flimsy plot, the good thing is that the majority of it all is one helluva good time. Bleeding sweet 80’s fashion & locations, outrageous characters, wild sets, puppets, stop motion animation, giant monsters and plenty of neon lasers to behold, it’s hard not to at least be enamored by all of the eye candy. There’s also a splash of martial arts action thrown in the mix to keep the action going at a steady pace from Lucky Fruit and Peacock. Sure there’s lot’s of logic issues with the plot & the dialogue (translations likely) can be a bit incoherent at times but there’s more than enough outrageous charm throughout to easily satisfy fans of directors like Steven Speilberg, Sam Raimi & Peter Jackson’s 80’s and early 90’s work.

If you’re a fan of weird 80’s fantasy, action & horror you definitely need track down The Peacock King & The Saga of the Phoenix.  It’s jam packed with all the things I love so much about that era of film making. Lam Ngai Kai (aka Ngai Choi Lam) is easily the best cult director out of Hong Kong for the time, it’s a shame he completely disappeared from film making after 1992. Perhaps he decided his body work couldn’t be topped? Thankfully he’s left behind a truly unique legacy of outrageous films that have yet to be explored by a huge portion of American cinemaniacs.  

Movie Review: Indie Creature Feature ‘Book of Monsters’!

Here’s a pretty neat little modern throwback horror movie I took a chance on recently that turned out be quite a bit of fun. ‘Book of Monsters‘ is a low budget British creature feature that clearly makes it’s best attempt to harken back to the gory glory days of 80’s horror flicks like ‘Evil Dead 2’ &Night of the Creeps’. It takes place on the main character, Sophie’s 18th birthday, when she reluctantly decides to throw a birthday party at her house. Her and her two friends are hardly the cool kids in school and aren’t even sure anyone will actually show up. To their surprise the birthday bash attracts a whole crew of unruly teens and even a few of the school bullies. Well it doesn’t take long before some weird supernatural shit goes down due to meddling with a necronomicon type of book. A full on bloodbath occurs when some creatures emerge from another dimension, invade her house and begin to slaughter the rowdy party guests. Sophie and her pals must band together to fend off the attack and protect their classmates from monster carnage.

It’s a simple story to follow and with a short run time of 84 minutes it’s a perfect party movie (literally) to watch on a Saturday nite with a gang of old school horror fans. One of it’s strongest parts is the protagonist Sophie, who’s a totally likable heroine who struggles with self esteem, teenage sexuality and the strange events of her past which tie into the supernatural events that occur. She’s also one of the only gay horror hero’s I can really recall seeing and they present this aspect of her character in a way that doesn’t feel fully forced into the narrative. Sure we got some bigoted bullies and typical teen jerks but those were always prevalent in the 80’s teen horror movies that likely inspired this one.

Now onto the horror aspect of things, though I liked the movie, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit tired of the ‘evil book/necronomicon’ angle of things, it feels pretty played out and I kind of wish they’d have used a different reasoning for the summoning of the monsters. Hardly a complaint really as once things get going here it’s pretty fun & action packed. The monster & gore effects are pretty ambitious for the most part. For the budget they had to work with they deliver a fair share of cool practical fx work avoiding for the most part cgi entirely (if my memory serves me correctly). The monster designs are pretty good too, one looks a bit like it was ripped out of M. Knight Shyamalan’s the village, one’s like a standard slasher dude and the other is kind of like a “Natasha Henstridge” Species/cenobite type-o creature. They all do a decent amount of gory, goopy damage too & it’s all executed in a fairly cartoonish way so it could easily be digested by the light weight horror fans. Oh yeah some evil garden gnomes are thrown in as well, that with a little more budget could have been far more crowd pleasing- but still an “A” for effort. There’s lots of chainsaws and general ass kicking done by the three female leads and even though most Hollywood blockbusters are trying to currently shoehorn girl power into movies ‘Book of Monsters’ does it in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like it’s blatantly pushing some agenda for brownie points.

If ‘Book of Monsters‘ had been released in 1987 it’d have been a bonafide cult classic, it’s a nice switch from all the shoddy CGI & digital blood of modern horror movies. It leaves the door open for a sequel and I think if it gets one with more cash behind it, there’s a possibility the second installment could very well end up as a modern day cult classic. For the meantime though I think the best crowd for ‘Book of Monsters’ are those who miss the glory days of 1980’s schlock, goofy gore & teen horror flicks!

VHS Verdict: ‘The White Buffalo’ is a Western ‘JAWS’ with Charles Bronson!

I never even knew a movie existed where Charles Bronson and Will Sampson (Chief Bromden from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’) teamed up to battle a giant albino monster buffalo up until a couple weeks ago. But yeah ‘The White Buffalo’ is just that, a wild west adventure flick that channels ‘Jaws’ in obvious ways but alsogives a lot more to ponder upon later. This 1977 action flick features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickock who’s haunted by nightmares of a vicious monster buffalo, so much so that he’s developed a bad habit of grabbin’ his pistols during the dreams and randomly firing it in real life while he’s in a deep slumber.

The visions intensify and soon Bronson’s on a cross country quest to track down this pesky monster. There’s some great action in between of course where Bronson kicks a ton of ass and gets into some crazy saloon shootouts, cuz let’s not forget what he’s best known for, over the top ass kickin’ action. Meanwhile the awesome Will Sampson plays the legendary Crazy Horse, who’s daughter happens to be slaughtered by the giant buffalo in a bloody massacre on his settlement and it inspires a quest of revenge against the beast.

I really dig this forgotten gem, from the cool sets to the atmospheric gothic journey when Bronson heads off on into the mountains in a stage coach, to the drama between Hickock and Crazy Horse as they try to come to terms with the white man’s dominance in the world. Of course my favorite part of this 70’s horror/action hybrid is the threat of the giant beast looming in the mountians, which I read was inspired by the success of ‘Jaws’. The creature appears within an almost dream like landscape, even when outside of Bronson’s nightmares.

The giant beast is actually pretty well done I think, considering the times, using animatronics and puppetry and well placed camera angles. there’s some pretty bloody and intense scenes later as well when the duo finally confronts the albino behemoth. Considering the movie had a PG rating back then at least it gets nice and dirty when it needs to. We all know those 70’s “PG” rated flicks can feel a lot more like an R rated movie in modern times. The movie definitely works best showcasing the unlikely alliance between Bronson & Sampson and does it’s best to show what sort of bonds and trust can develop against a greater threat. I had a blast with this one and it’s easily become one of my favorite Bronson movies! Track this one down, it’s a unique little largely forgotten monster flick! 

Movie Review: Thankfully ‘GLASS’ is the Opposite of a Marvel Movie!

So there’s a damn big ‘split’ (no pun intended!) in movie goer’s opinions on M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie ‘Glass’. The long awaited sequel to both ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split’ has caused a ton of debate online, some think it’s the perfect end cap to Shyamalan’s “Eastrail 177” trilogy other’s think it’s a boring waste of two hours. For me I found it to be a compelling end to the saga, in fact I saw the critics bashing this movie so hard that I was truly expecting the worst going in. I mean Shyamalan’s let me down before in big ways (The Happening, The Last Airbender anyone?) so I was fully prepared to begin my next phase of “hatin’ on the guy” once again. Luckily he stuck to his guns and in my opinion delivered a smart, tense & mysterious movie that feels right in line with ‘Unbreakable’ & ‘Split’. He definitely subverted my expectations, not in the same way Rian Johnson did with ‘The Last Jedi’ but in a way which I’ve come to appreciate early on in M. Night’s career. I was hoping that it would avoid trying to be a “Marvel” movie, something it seems all big Hollywood productions are desperately trying to replicate using a somewhat, imo, tired film making style, mixing their usual “witty banter comedy” with gigantic bloated CGI battles, that at this point makes me begin to nod off in theaters.

Instead he creates smaller scale action sequences that feel real, tense and important when they occur. I’ve grown pretty damn bored with the modern superhero movies and their predictable tropes and overuse of green screens & rubbery cartoony CGI action sequences. Glass feels like it could actually happen in the real world and I was pretty scared Night was going to try and tap into that Marvel-esque money making formula that’s all the rage. Thankfully it feels like a natural progression to what came before it, more like a Christopher Nolan style superhero film than ‘Infinity War’ or ‘Aquaman’. That being said I can see how modern audiences conditioned to the ultra fast paced video gamey CGI action stuff would find plenty of reasons to be pissed off at this one. Its a dramatic supernatural thriller with slight elements of the superhero genre sprinkled about, I think ‘Glass’ will surely satisfy fans of the the two previous installments.

That all being said the movie does have plot points I found a bit disappointing. Not because they were bad moves, but because it didn’t go the way I ENVISIONED it to. The movie sets up the audience for things that might not occur at all and this all works as it feels like the real world as opposed to ‘The Last Jedi’ which is based in 100% fantasy in an established universe spanning back to the 1970’s. Shyamalan’s decisions left me disappointed and heart broken, but not in a way that destroyed the film’s appeal to me. It made me want to go back and watch all three in order and the films third act subverts expectations in ways I never saw coming. It feels like Shyamalan wasn’t merely looking to cash in on his new “superhero universe” but rather had a complete story he was willing to start and end. It was bizarre seeing a movie that didn’t feel like it was trying to tease the next installment. It brought back familiar faces from Unbreakable and Split as well and all of them were wonderful in the roles, I’ve got to admit though the characters didn’t do what I’d originally imagined they’d do. Again, I kinda appreciate that.

A few things that bothered me? Wanting more of Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson interacting, but I guess we got a heap of that way back in Unbreakable and there’s some clear problems with how Jame’s Mcavoy’s character was kept imprisoned in the mental ward where the three of them were locked up in. Minor qualms really, my major being one of the key events that occurred at the end left me perplexed and actually quite saddened. Again never expecting they’d go there and go that direction. So all in all ‘Glass’ is one I highly recommend, I give it an ‘A minus’ as it left me thinking about it a couple days later and left me wanting a second viewing now that my expectations aren’t there. Night delivers a beautiful, tense, realistic superhero character piece that fully enhances what came before it. Check it out, but don’t expect your usual superhero flick!