Tagged: 1980s

Hong Kong Horror Gems: 1985’s ‘Those Merry Souls’!

Here’s a sweet little Hong Kong horror/action/comedy hybrid from 1985 that really put a BIG smile on my face, ‘Those Merry Souls’. Yeah this all but forgotten flick has some serious star power, featuring the likes of martial arts legends like the charming Yuen Biao & the late horror icon “Mr. Vampire” himself Lam Ching Ying (RIP) together for one spooky comedic action packed romper. 

Now as you can see the poster here. makes it look maybe like a full on comedy, and in many ways ‘Those Merry Souls’ plays out like one. However it also has a serious supernatural aspect and threat that slowly rears it’s head to the final genuinely creepy action packed finale. This one tells the story of two stuntmen one a wildly talented martial artist and his bumbling whiny cousin who’s obsessed with a beautiful local club singer. Oh yeah and their uncle has recently developed a rare creepy ability to astral project and has been helping people who die find their way to the other side. He helps those merry souls but during his waking life doesn’t remember a lick of it ever happening.

The two bosom buddy stuntmen spend most of their time trying to ridiculously find romance and getting into trouble while doing so, one of the best scenes takes place on a beach where Yuen Biao shines showing his kick ass martial arts skills taking on a gang beach bullies in only his skimpy little swim suit. Biao really should have been an international star, he’s got the skills and a similar raw charisma of Jackie Chan. Things do get a bit dark and scary here though and what starts off like the perfect 80’s Hong Kong buddy comedy morphs into a pretty thrilling little supernatural tale.

This happens when their uncle, while in his astral form is instructed to take the soul of his own nephew when he’s injured doing a wild stunt on a movie set. At the moment of truth though he decides to let him live & spare his soul a mistake that costs him his own life and sets forth an evil entity upon them. In a way it’s a tiny bit Final Destination and when they employ the help of their other uncle, played by Lam Ching Ying, who’s of course got some secret magic skills of his own to ward off evil, things get really interesting.

The film’s finale is joyous as the whole gang along with their girlfriends all face off the evil entity along with their taoist priest uncle in an action packed final showdown. The stakes get high and the action is off the rails bonkers in true Hong Kong fashion as the entity possesses members of the group and soon things erupt into a crazy supernatural kung fu battle.

We even get to see Lam Ching Ying and Yuen Biao go at it full force, which is treat to behold. Bottom line here, ‘Those Merry Souls’ is a damn good time balancing out the comedy, kung fu & supernatural elements in all the right ways, something I’ve noticed many Hong Kong films of this era seem to fail at in my opinion more often than succeeding. If you’re looking to get in 80’s Hong Kong Horror I highly recommend ‘Those Merry Souls’ as the perfect party movie to share with a hungry gang of movie maniacs!

And for fans of Yuen and LamChing Ying check this out too..

Comic Cover of the Week: Barry Windsor Smith’s EPIC Machine Man!!

I recently pulled out my old ‘Machine Man’ limited series from 1984, some thing I do pretty regularly because it’s just that damn awesome. The series brings Machine Man into the future of 2020 where he faces off with the evil Arno Stark, the next Iron Man! The thing that sets this series apart from a lot of the stuff back then is the fact that Barry Windsor Smith showcases how much of a bad ass he is with his stunning artwork on not only the cover but the inside as well. The series of 4 covers is pretty amazing as it shows his circuitry transforming him into his original form. Here’s issue #3:

They reissued the series again a decade later and then issued a trade paperback with yet another amazing cover by Barry!!

 

The ‘SHANG CHI’ Trailer From an Old School Fan’s Perspective!

Sometimes I feel like I’m just raining on everyone’s MCU parade! I really don’t want to be THAT guy. However as a fan of the comic book as a kid in the 1980’s I can say if you’d shown me the trailer with no mention of what I was seeing I’d probably wouldn’t have guessed it was Shang Chi “The Master of Kung Fu’ I’d grown up to love!

Comic Cover of the Week: John Byrne’s Super-JOKER!

So sooner or later The Joker was bound to get tired of Gotham and Batman! 1987’s Superman #9 has one hell of an awesome cover by John Byrne and the story is pretty fun as The Joker stops by Metropolis to make people go crazy with his deadly laughing gas! He’s also managed to bring along a robot Superman with a freakin’ nuclear bomb inside, thats when Superman steps onto the scene! He easily foils the Joker’s plan asking point blank why he came to Metropolis, Joker simply laughs and says “Ooh Superman…Why not?”

What I really love here is just seeing seeing The Joker on the cover of a Superman comic, something we rarely, if ever, had seen before this. It’s always great I think when we see a traditional villain of one superhero square off against another. Byrne captures the Joker in his own unique way here on this amazing cover I want on a t-shirt! My only issue is I wish The Joker had been able to give Superman a better run for his money!

 

4th Best Star Wars Movie ‘Ewoks: Battle for Endor’ Now on Disney Plus!

Ohhhhhhh yeah! Ewoks haters take note-The 4th best Star Wars movie, after the Original Trilogy (or if you’re a prequel fan it might be the 7th best Star Wars movie), has arrived on Disney Plus! Yes 1985’s almost forever lost and forgotten ‘Ewoks: Battle for Endor’ is now on the streaming service along with it’s much inferior prequel ‘Caravan of Courage’. Many OT fans have been severely disappointed by the the “Sequel Trilogy” and have only recently found solace in The Mandalorian, but ‘Battle for Endor’ is OG Star Wars all the way. To give it even more street cred than the “Sequel Trilogy” it was actually written by Star Wars creator himself George Lucas. The whole vibe of the movie screams of the Original Trilogy. 

There’s a surprisingly dark little story at the heart of ‘The Battle for Endor’ and whether you like it or not, OT character Wicket is iconic, played by Warwick Davis once again, is back for a feature length adventure. It’s filled with all the cool creatures, special effects, weird settings and even some of the heart of OT Star Wars that was largely missing in the “Sequel Trilogy”. We’re also treated to some very colorful villains and FYI the creatures in which Nick Nolte’s brilliant character Kuiil rides around in the desert (called Blurrgs), make their first appearance in this Ewok Adventure.

Yeah, thanks John Favreau, I know you too are a fan of Battle for Endor! This also features the late great Wilfred Brimley in a surprisingly spry action packed role. So if you’ve been craving 80’s Star Wars and have never seen this sweet little gem of a movie, by all means now’s the time to check it out! I’m personally hoping that maybe this will inspire a Disney Plus Ewoks series, we can see what the hell the older wiser Wicket has been up to and of course get Warwick in the role!

Comic Cover of the Week: The Original 80’s FLAG SMASHER!

So with all of the talking hype around the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series on Disney Plus, I thought it would be a good idea to post the cover from Captain America # 312, from 1985!

Here we get a good look at the original vision of the Flag Smasher, who now I guess represents some sort of terrorist organization instead of a all-out supervillain. This issue was actually a favorite of mine as a kid and of course I always love some Paul Neary artwork! I can’t lie, part of me really wishes that this guy would have been the one appearing on the new show!

 

Comic Cover of the Week: Banner’s Haunting Hulking 1980’s Fever Dream!

One of the most unique comic book covers the Jade Giant ever received has got to be from The Incredible Hulk #294, way back in April of 1983. I love the covers from this period, as you never quite knew what to expect, sometimes covers would be hand painted, or sometimes even photographs. It was all quite unpredictable in the best way possible. Today the slick artwork done completely via computer can be initially quite stunning but can also have a sterile feel to it and the weird glossy “paper(?)” they’re printed on doesn’t help give them any extra charm. Issue #294 though is what comic book covers are all about, painted brilliantly by Ken Steacy. This issue also features the wild moment, of Bruce transforming into The Incredible Hulk COMPLETELY naked while lathering up in the shower! Check that out right HERE! This is all just a couple more reasons why I miss the 1980’s so damn much…

Mexico’s Sweet Forgotten 80’s Horror Franchise: “VACATION OF TERROR”!

                          

Are you truly ready for a 1980’s “Vacation of Terror” to Mexico?!! Nope. this ain’t Cancun folks, this here is a sweet horror franchise that started in 1989, starring legendary south of the border pop star turned B-movie horror icon Pedro Fernandez. Yes the lesser known Fernandez, appears to be a sort of “Ricky Martin-type” singer, who started his music career at the tender age of seven and later in the 80’s had a string of rad horror flicks like Trampa Infernal, Panic on the Mountain & this two part creep-out, Vacation of Terror (1&2). Check out his music as a kid when he went by the name Pedrito Fernandez:

1989’s Vacation of Terror is a pretty sweet little horror flick that follows a wealthy family’s visit to the countryside to fix up a crusty old cabin in the woods. Along for the ride is teen daughter’s hot shot occult investigating BF Pedro Fernandez along with his impressive mullet! The family starts to notice a few truly strange things happening in and around the property, and their youngest daughter soon falls down into a creepy ass well. Oddly there’s no water down there, but rather what seems to be some sort of lived in cavern den, with a freaky old doll and a few other odd antiques scattered about. Of course the daughter wants the weird ass doll, so they bring it up to the cabin where it begins to have an evil mind of it’s own that starts to manipulate and possess the young girl.

Good thing Pedro is there to combat the evil forces because this doll is hell bent on destroying the family and any furniture in the way of her telekinetic powers. You’ll see this doll’s evil eyes whisk from side to side about a hundred times as she “uses her powers” and her schtick does get a bit tired by the finale, but still strangely satisfying. However it’s imperative to see this first movie to set you up for the far superior sequel, where only one cast member returns-of course Pedro Fernandez!

1990’s ‘Vacation of Terror: Diabolical Birthday’ (directed by Pedro Galindo III who also did the excellent Trampa Infernal) is one helluva good time-but oddly there’s no damn vacation going on anywhere here. But that’s ok, we’ve got a wild ass halloween themed birthday party to attend instead this time! The best thing is Pedro returns, now a single man (who maybe had enough of the family’s creepy cabin and odd shenanigans), who runs an antique shop and meets by chance a cute lady pop star, Mayra who’s played by real life Mexican pop star Tatiana who wanders in. After some chit chat she ends up inviting him to attend a party later and when she’s about to split he notices a her little sister in the back seat of her car holding the same creepy ass doll from the first movie! Naturally Pedro swings into action at the sight and has a new reason to attend other than being crushed out on his sweet date-to fight evil! Of course part of the fun is to go to the party, where it’s either taking place on Halloween or the little girl just loves horror decor. We also get a super sweet performance from Tatiana of course doing her sweet hit song “Chicos Chicos” check it!

 Luckily Pedro gets there just in time to see her rock out! However there’s bigger fish to fry as he’s hot on the trail of the doll. However the there’s a wild birthday cake that just by “chance” gets some blood on it and soon the creepy living doll goes missing and eats the blood soiled cake, transforming it into human sized demon that resembles Angelica Huston’s wicked persona in “The Witches” mixed with Freddy Krueger.

From this point on the creature is out to terrorize all the party goers and it’s now up to Pedro & Tatiana to stop evil from spreading and maybe even find some romance? This one is a lot more fun then the first installment, it’s got a lot more going on, faster paced and a bit of a more playful element at it’s core . However director Pedro Galindo doesn’t skimp on the horror, there’s some great gore and colorful kills to behold as well as the setting. The decaying old deserted Mexican village they end up being chased around in is an excellent place for the spooky shenanigans to occur.

While some may say this is the Mexican “Troll 2” I just think it’s yet another super fun, campy horror movie that fans of the 80’s have got to check out. These two movies certainly need to receive a cleaned up blu ray release with some sweet special features. Otherwise horror fans will certainly miss out, these days it feels like a company like ‘Vinegar Syndrome’ releasing these unknowns gems gives them a sort of sudden street cred/seal of approval. Well you heard it here first though, before the ‘Vacation of Terror’ blu rays are suddenly all the rage-get ahead of the curve and head back to the 80’s to take your own “Vacation of Terror” to Mexico before all the tourists arrive!! You can get it on dvd as a double feature right here at World Cult Cinema!     

 

Spider-man and his Amazing 80s Hardee’s 3-D Happy Meal!

Ahhh the good old days where Happy meals  truly made people happy! Back in the 1980s you could score a Happy Meal that really had something to offer. You could also watch a commercial that was actually better than what you got inside of it. Check out this classic 1980s Happy Meal commercial featuring Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends along with  The Incredible Hulk! Back when I was a kid I would wake up early every Saturday morning  and watch Spider-Man and his amazing friends and then my favorite show The Incredible Hulk  part of the Marvel Comics Power Hour, then I begged my mom her one of these things- check it!! 

Comic Book Cover of the Week 1985: Before WandaVision!

WandaVision seems to be the talk of the town, whether you like it or not it’s Disney +’s MCU big kick off series and from what I’ve heard it’s quite daring in it’s storytelling. I still haven’t checked it out, something about it just hasn’t pulled me into setting aside time to give it a try. Maybe when all the episodes are out I’ll dive in. But before all this hype of WandaVision we had this nifty 12 part limed series with the famous superhero couple released waaay back in 1985. Maybe I’ll give this one a spin again before I dave into more Disney + schlock, I’ve got to admit the first issue sure did look promising from the cover alone don’t you think? If this was what had been marketed for the MCU series I’d be 100% down from the very damn start!