Category: vhs

Trick or Treat with BIGFOOT during SQUATCHTOBER!

U-Dork’s Back on the Movie Melt podcast where we are celebrating this Halloween season by covering some spooky obscure Bigfoot flicks: We call it Squatchtober! Let’s face it a good freakin’ Bigfoot movie is hard to find but when you stumble across one you gotta call it out to feral forest gods and inner city Sasquatches alike. We’ve been discussing the best & the worst Sasquatch related horror movies this month And it led us down a path to the ‘Black River Monster’ from 1986!

What? You’ve never heard of this one?  What do you live in a cave or something? I guess not ‘cuz if so you probably would have already seen it! Well this one’s pretty much flown under everyone’s damn radar but don’t let that deter you in your quest for the big hairy fellow’s greatest roles in cinema!

Lots of discussion on what ‘Squatch related movies you should be watching this Halloween during Squatchtober and so much more useless cinematic information  to cram into your brain! All hail the truly elusive original party animal this Halloween and check out our tribute to him on the LATEST EPISODE OF MOVIE MELT!! 

‘HALLOWEEN: H20’ Holds Up Even Better after ‘HALLOWEEN KILLS’!

Ok so here we are again, doing the whole John Carpenter Halloween “sequel” reboot hype machine again! But to be honest I’m not at all that hyped yet again this time around. As I stated In 2018, I found ‘Halloween: H20’ to be my favorite finale of the Laurie Strode vs Michael Myers saga.

It was exciting way back in 1998 to witness their epic familial final confrontation unfold on the big screen. It was a big deal for horror fans. Sure the movie was made during the hype of the “Scream” phenomenon and is a bit of a sign of the times of what horror was back then stylistically. The same could be said of horror movies set in the 1970s and 80s really, so I can’t really fault it for that. What it did bring was its own uniquely original story and wasn’t a basic retread of things we had already seen in the very first film. I like to refer to ‘H40’ as the “Force Awakens” of the franchise. I don’t consider that a big positive either, rather a sign of Hollywood’s continual laziness.

 So now we get the supposed long awaited sequel to the “sequel”, of an amazing movie that in my opinion ALREADY had an amazing sequel directed by John Carpenter himself. So already it seemed a bit pointless to me. Watching ‘Halloween Kills’ I continuously found myself wondering what really is the point of this all? What was this movie actually adding to the mythos of the Halloween franchise? To me it just seemed like more backtracking for no real reason and began to remind me of recent tired Hollywood retreads like ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’.

If you simply came to observe Michael Myers back in action, hacking and slashing random people to bits, then you were likely somewhat satisfied. To me though, my level of engagement started to quickly wane to the lows of the Rob Zombie era Halloween which ends up just being a boring flat downer. I also don’t think that this current sequel reboot features any real likable characters at this point either.  Sure it was cool to see Anthony Michael Hall back in a movie again, and I guess it was exciting(?) to see Jamie Lee Curtis again? Not sure if I give a damn anymore. Basically I feel like this movie simply took all of the most unique elements of Halloween 2 & Halloween 4 and squashed them into one bleak, brutal somewhat generic package. Nothing new to see here. If you’re going to go through this much trouble to re-tell a sequel series you’d better damn well make sure you’ve got something interesting and fresh going on in the plot.

To me ‘Halloween Kills’ offers nothing really. Just a collection of brutal kills, most feeling completely random and senseless. It left me completely underwhelmed for what was to come in the supposed final installment. However it also again completely improves the staying power, charm & heart of ‘Halloween H20’ as it ages like a fine bloody red wine.

I already got my Laurie vs Michael finale when it was a fresh idea, now it just feels like ‘Halloween: Ressurection’,  completely unnecessary….then again not surprising when a horror movie franchise is rebooted by the guy who directed ‘The Pineapple Express’ I guess. Well that being said if you dig H20 check out this new sweet video that really puts into perspective how much Hollywood screws with good ideas from Jamie Lee Curtis herself! 

Must SEE Halloween: Spielberg’s Spooky 80s AMAZING STORIES!!

Of course, everybody’s looking for the ultimate Halloween viewing this year and it just so happens I’ve got a couple recommendations here that are a MUST see for anyone who’s a fan of those spooky “Amblin* films of the eighties! A lot of people seem to have forgotten about or never even heard of  Steven Spielberg’s 1980s anthology series ‘Amazing Stories’. That’s truly a shame because many of these episodes are classic “Spielbergian” gems that are indeed quite freakin’ amazing. Better yet, there are a handful of episodes that are absolutely perfect for the Halloween season. Today I’d like to mention two of my all time favorite episodes of the series that just so happen to be quite perfectly spooky and utterly charming.

Easily one of the best episodes of the series comes from the 1st season is called ‘Mummy Daddy’. It’s directed by William Dear who’s most well known for one of my all time favorites ‘Harry and Hendersons’. This features an actor on a creepy fog laden swamp of a movie set who’s dressed in an elaborate mummy costume that’s virtually unremovable. When he suddenly gets a phone call that his wife is about to give birth, he bursts frantically from the set to head off to the hospital, In full mummy garb. What he doesn’t realize is that the backwoods locals are restless as they fear the legend of an actual evil mummy rumored to roam the forest in search of innocents to prey upon is alive and well.

 There’s a lot of unique twists and turns in this half hour episode, the mummy fx look incredible and the sets and fog filled moonlit locales are top notch. One thing is clear Steven Spielberg had a movie level budget for the show and he was willing to put it all on the line. This episode features the perfect blend of spooky comedy & horror as well as some excellent supernatural action sequences.

Not to mention one of my favorites, Brion James in the role of the aggro head hillbilly, who’s hell bent on ridding their small town of the mummy’s curse forever! This one is a must see for the Halloween season! 

Next up is my absolute favorite episode of the entire series which comes from season 2 called ‘Go to the Head of the Class’. 

It’s directed by ‘Back to the Future’s’ own Robert Zemekis, features Mary Stuart Masterson and of course Christopher Lloyd! This one is slso a double length episode, it easily could have been made into an excellent horror flick and would have easily been one of the best episodes of ‘Tales from the Crypt’ if it’d been included in that series, where to be honest it feels like it belongs!  In a nutshell it’s a story of two teenagers who who plan an elaborate revenge scheme on their asinine school teacher. However this isn’t your average tale of revenge, they instead employ the powers of the supernatural playing a record backwards and performing a ritual in the cemetery late one night after school that will supposedly put an end to their least fave douchebag headmaster! 

Christopher Lloyd shines in the role of the evil teacher and like the last episode I mentioned, the special effects here are done by Stan Winston and all of the horror set pieces are utterly breathtaking in the spookiest way imaginable. It’s jam packed with the perfect blend of comedy, genuine scares and familiar faces of the eighties that are certain to put a smile on your face.

These two episodes will pack the perfect double duo punch and give you something different to check out this Halloween season. Yeah horror from a much simpler time from the golden era of horror! Do not snooze on these this year!

Crazy New HORROR Blu Rays for Halloween you NEED!!

I wanted to take a moment here to mention a couple brand spankin’ new blu ray releases coming out this month just in time for Halloween that I’m absolutely stoked for! If you’re looking for 2 amazing horror films plucked right from the golden age of the eighties and early nineties then these two will NOT disappoint! Both of these flicks are filled with just the right amount of gory practical effects ridden horror and the perfect doses of comedy from their uniquely charming casts. So without further ado here are 2 blu rays you need this Halloween that are coming out this month! You can pre-order them now!

The Laughing Dead (1989)

I actually just did my last blog post about the director of The Laughing Dead’s new movie ‘The Maestro: Symphony of Terror’.  But this long lost eighties slice of a horror is a must see for anyone who’s a big fan of stuff like Evil Dead 2 or Re-animator. It never got an official release here in the United States so this one’s kinda special. It’s jam packed with monsters, zombies, gooey gore and plenty of absurd comedy as well as some genuine frights!  Don’t let the title fool you, This is most definitely NOT your average run of the mill eighties zombie flick! You can preorder this thing right now via Vinegar Syndrome!

 

Hiruko the Goblin (1990)

 Hot damn! I’m so pumped on this one too, Hiruko the Goblin is being released by Mondo Macabro. This one would be a perfect double feature with The Laughing Dead as well, It’s jam packed with amazing practical effects and super awesome monsters! It’s also got some heart as well, as it features a family affair, with a teenager who teams up with his eccentric oddball demon hunting uncle to face the forces of evil in an abandoned Is boarding school.  From the director of Tetsuo: The Iron Man! This is perfect for the Halloween season!  Keep in mind none of these trailers are the new 4K transfers, Hopefully they’ll release those soon!

Movie Review: Classical Thai Horror of ‘The Maestro: Symphony of Terror’!

I’m a big fan of the 1989 cult horror flick ‘The Laughing Dead’, If you’ve never heard of it and are a1980’s gore horror fiend, well I’ve a feeling that it’s gonna be your new favorite “lost” 80s gem. Rumor has it that it just might be getting a fancy blu ray release?! I hope that’s true! Well it’s director/cult horror novelist/composer extraordinaire S.P. Somtow is back after a long hiatus starring in and writing the latest creepy outing all the way from Thailand with ‘The Maestro: Symphony of Terror’.

The tale of a musical genius haunted by his past and pushed into a state of pure insanity, The Maestro tells the story of a mentally unstable man named Arun (S.P. Somtow), a dedicated composer who attempted a run for fame in Europe but ultimately finds himself deeply depressed, back in Thailand teaching rich kids music at a local shopping mall. Behind the scenes though, he’s been secretly planning a wildly dark magnum opus called ‘The Tongues of Angels’, his ultimate goal: premiering it to the entire world on a livestream during the Covid 19 pandemic. His wildly demented ambition however may induce a lot more than musical madness but also death to those who threaten his journey.

So yeah I’ve been quite excited to check this out, but also had hoped Somtow would be at the mantle as director on the project. I really enjoyed his campy approach on ‘The Laughing Dead’ and the comedic elements incorporated with the heavy effects work of legend John Carl Buechler made it a total blast. That all being said ‘The Maestro’ does definitely deliver some of Somtow’s signature tones, but perhaps with a more artistic approach. Director Paul Spurrier does a decent job behind the camera, giving the movie at times a more slick approach then what I’d ultimately prefered. It combines lighter elements of horror with tense hypnotic dark classical music but also has a few more deeply disturbing psychological aspects at hand here as well that at times made me a bit uncomfortable. The lush locales of Thailand combined with Somtow’s intensely creepy musical compositions sonically assault in a truly unique way.


To be quite honest, his beautifully dark score is probably the biggest star of the entire movie. I’d been expecting something quite a bit different, with more old school fx leaning in on much more on the horror side of things. Instead this one plays out more a psychological thriller and is the first movie I’ve seen that takes place actually during the Covid 19 era. We finally see people on screen irritated with and fussing with their masks as well as trying to navigate life through these current bizarre times. But that doesn’t stop the shamed Maestro from seeking out his pawns, a crew of young musicians gathered from his mall class and the even from the streets.

Most of the madness takes place at a stunningly creepy decrepit mansion In the countryside where the symphony of horror begins to take shape. The Maestro has one thing on his mind: his music and will let nothing get in his way of composing the ultimate dark symphony.

This one’s definitely worth a watch, it’s got a great cast of young actors and Somtow shines again as the villain in a similar way he did back in ‘The Laughing Dead’.

I’m glad that S.P. has again returned to his horror roots, overall I think this is a pretty solid return to form. Going forward I’d like to encourage him to get back behind the camera again, I think he’s got the chops that the people thirst for today with the 80s cult camp fanatics. If anything ‘The Maestro: Symphony of Terror’ must be watched for it’s incredible musical finale, which blew me away. I’ll be hunting down the soundtrack for sure!!

That 1982 TOM SAVINI Hong Kong Horror Flick?!

I’m willing to bet that even if you’re a huge fan of fx legend Tom Savini that you likely never knew in 1982 he was flown to Hong-Kong to do special fx on an obscure horror comedy called ‘Til Death Do We Scare’!  I never heard of it until a month ago & was completely intrigued. For good reason too, this is one wacky bizarre little mess of a damn movie!

Directed by Lau Kar-wing this essentially follows the story of a down on her luck widow whose husbands keep dying in mysterious & slightly stupid ways on their respective wedding days. For instance one dies by way of random bird flying directly into his freaking mouth at the altar!

Well, I guess, lucky for her the ghosts of her 3 dead stooge husbands all meet in the afterlife & team up vowing to watch over her. What we get here is a totally moronic misadventure, with her 3 former lovers for some reason trying to set her up with a wacky yet I’m assuming unintentionally creepy radio DJ dude. Yep he does his fair share of stalking the beautiful widow, with  surprisingly positive results! Who knew stalking could be such a turn on?!

For some reason the three zany ghosts spend a lot of the time in the movie fucking with him, moving chairs around and making him physically unable to take off his pants when getting ready to get some sexy action! They also spend a little time scaring him thank god and that’s exactly where the film’s real star imo, Tom Savini finally enters the scene with those impressive 80s special effects and creepy makeup stylings everyone loves him so much for. In fact part of me kinda wondered, maybe Tim Burton watched this one, because some of these ghost’s wild scare antics combined with Savini’s make up effects bring to mind his classic film Beetlejuice. 

On second thought I’m pretty certain Burton never saw a peep of this one! The film kind of shifts gears in its 3rd act and involves our creepy lover boy along with his pathetic best buddy being exiled off to an extra dimensional island of the dead. There everything seems strangely to be made of paper mache(?), paper mache cars, paper mache walls, paper mache staircases, which are NEVER a good thing. But none the less a full on paper mâché nightmare!

So there the two of them (for some unknown reason), face off against the dead’s annoying overlord who’s followed by a gang of well dressed partying ghosts. The finale of the movie is where Savini clearly unloads his trunk of extra props from Creepshow! OOOOH YEAH! Where he helps bring to life a giant blue Chinese vampire and his horde of wicked zombies! I’m guessing Mr. Savini was working with a shoe string budget here, as the fx work is fun, it def does look a bit unfinished. I’m not sure if I was just too stoned to understand the plot correctly or if this thing was just a crazy giant mash up of weird lost in translation mayhem! By the time it was done I was so confused with what I’d seen, but at the same time completely satisfied. Sure I’d hoped Savini was working on a bonafide gem of a lost Hong Kong horror flick of the 1980’s that I could shout on the mountain tops to my fellow cinefiles! Instead I just relished in all the fun Tom Savini must have had while filming this ridiculous mess in 1980’s Hong Kong….

Billy Blanks Channels Mr. Miyagi in the Rad 90’s Karate Kid Rip Off: SHOWDOWN!

Hot damn! How I love me some motherfreakin’ Karate Kid and Cobra Kai! I’ll even openly admit that I love 1994’s ‘The Next Karate Kid’ as well, something I recently watched for the first time after writing it off for sooo many years as some lame soft remake of the original. So while waiting for Cobra Kai season 4 to drop I needed something in the same vein that could tickle my Karate Kid fancy, enter 1993’s big time radical ripoff: Showdown!!

This sweet high-school martial arts action/drama hybrid flick hits all the same beats basically as Karate Kid but with more ridiculous & extreme circumstances around every corner! I guess it exists in the same idiotic type of narrative as Karate Kid Part 3, which is A-ok with me. Story wise I won’t waste your time here it’s pretty much the exact basic premise of the original karate kid except with Billy Blanks being being a janitor of a high school, taking the role of the Miagi mentor type character. It’s also worth noting that the high schoolers here, especially our hero and and his douchey “Johnny Lawrence” style opponent appear to be pushing 40!

We get a mega ridiculous “love” triangle type of thing going on as well that’s far less believable and unromantic than anything in the Karate Kid. Also the villanous karate dojo here is focused around a violent unregulated illegal death matches rather than you’re all Valley karate tournament! Oh yeah and they also have an older sultry seductress working within their ranks who tries to use her feminine charms to seduce high school karate kids and lead them down a sexy path to defeat!

I guess that’s why they needed to up the ante with the inclusion of major bad-ass Billy Blanks doing what he does best in this movie: kicking major highschooler ass.

Jam packed with a ton of ridiculously stupid dialogue And idiotically charming characters, Showdown most definitely makes for a highly entertaining watch for die hard fans of the Karate Kid franchise.

MVD’s “Rewind Collection” released this bad boy on a sweet blu ray with a ton of excellent bonus features!

Check this out in the meantime to get your fix while we all wait patiently wait for Cobra Kai Season 4!

U-Dork & Movie Melt Go on a Rad 80’s ‘ROCKIN’ ROAD TRIP’!

Check out the latest episode of the ‘Movie Melt‘ podcast where Universal Dork joins the conversation to cover an obscure summer blast of punk rock shenanigans with 1985’s ‘Rockin’ Road Trip’! 

Yes! We get down to the nitty gritty of this lost 1980’s summer road trip comedy adventure but also spend some time chattim’ about a ton of other weird-o movies, stupid demonic sex and more useless cinematic information than the human brain can comprehend!

Check this ridiculous shit out right HERE and check out the trailer for our wild ass feature presentation!

 

 

VHS Verdict: BLACK SAMURAI is Over the Top 70’s Pulp at it’s Best!

Well I was able to check out the 1977’s ‘Black Samurai’ for the first time and I’m not quite sure why I put it off for so damn long, I think it might have something to do with the shoddy looking cover art on the VHS copy I had. Being a HUGE fan of ‘Enter the Dragon’ and having such an amazing time seeing ‘Black Belt Jones’ on the big screen here in Portland Oregon for the legendary Hollywood Theater’s Kung Fu Theater a few years back with a packed crowd I should have certainly done it sooner. Yep Jim Kelly is once again a total bad ass in some of the most outrageous scenarios of his whole career! The proof is in the poster alone…

So I really wouldn’t say he screams of a “Samurai” per say here in any real way even though there’s a brief scene of him messing around with a samurai sword. Here’s really more of a 007 James Bond type of guy here, an Agent of D.R.A.G.O.N. to be exact, who’s using his crazy kung fu skills to annihilate any asshole who he can get his damn hands on! And boy do throw some real wild ones his way for a total ass whooping. The whole plot revolves around Kelly hunting down a satanic black magic cult who’s kidnapped his lover, lead by the most geeky unthreatening, snake obsessed, white guy, villain boss I’ve surely laid my eyes upon. Kelly’s challenged by all sorts of his evil minions, tuff guy street thugs, tribal type warriors, insane little people with whips and most bizarre, the cult leader’s evil giant pet vulture! Yes he has a hand to hand battle with a damn vulture and also flies around in a jet pack, has a couple rad car chases and hangs at a mariachi party all while looking the most stylin’ and ripped as Bruce Lee while doing it all.

That’s not to say the sleazy cult director, Al Adamson makes it at all flow smoothly as there’s some seriously ridiculous yet fully satisfying martial arts battles here to gloriously behold. Jim Kelly still has the kick ass moves, but the crazy choppy editing and some of the perplexing overdubbed dialogue thrown into scenes has just got to be heard and seen to be believed! This certainly has got me on a Jim Kelly kick lately because this one was so satisfying, after this pandemic cools down I’m sure this one needs another play with a group of friends. It’s a full on train wreck of fun that plays out just like a grimy pulpy comic book adventure.

Jim Kelly’s one of the coolest 70’s action heroes and here in Black Samurai he proves once again exactly why he can’t be messed with especially if you decide that kidnapping his girlfriend is somehow a good move (it’s NOT). It’s well paced, throws everything but the kitchen sink at you and to be quite honest most of it sticks to the wall. From his rad track suits to his flashy sports cars, Kelly displays a suave, cocky swagger that never gets old. Let Black Samurai take you back to the 1970’s for on hell of an over the top adventure! Check this trailer out if you’ve never seen it before if you’re in doubt!

   Here’s a great interview with Jim Kelly:

 

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.