So I’d say one of the weirdest damn holiday horror flicks of all time has just got to be 1987’s ‘BLOODY NEW YEAR’! Have you seen it?
Well whether you have or not take a moment to check out the Movie Melt podcast as we talk about some sweet under appreciated odd ball movies and get straight into the new year with this classic slice of weird-o 80’s British horror film.
It’s easily one of the most surreal and ambitious micro budget movies I’ve seen a long time and it’s perfect for the holiday seasons, if you’ve seen it you likely know how bizarre this wild little flick truly is! Check out MOVIE MELT and this episode for Bloody New Year!
So you’re in the mood for an ass kickin’, science fiction, martial arts packed 80’s adventure? Look no further, ‘The Magic Crystal’ from 1986 delivers the damn goods and THEN some!! It also delivers the iconic action star Cynthia Rothrock in one of her earliest roles doing what she does best, throwing the beat down on the wise guys. This Hong Kong production filmed largely in Greece, has some truly stunning locations and makes good damn use of them, following a stylin’ cool guy mercenary (Andy Lau) who’s hot on the trail of an alien artifact, you guessed it, a magic crystal. This green crystal which actually looks more like a glowing green glob also houses an alien within it shimmering surface.
Of course there’s an evil mastermind named Karov (Richard Norton), who’s also head of the KGB and also full on martial arts maestro who’s dead set on acquiring the magic crystal for his own villainous plans. This huge dude is so bad ass it almost always requires at least two kung fu masters to take him on and even then he usually ends up on top. He also wears some awesome evil black studded outfits while he does his sinister business and is just a plain awesome bad guy here.
Andy Lau soon meets up with a small cast of colorful allies, Cynthia Rothrock being one of them, who help him on his pursuit for the alien artifact. Luckily for the mysterious crystal it ends up in the hands of a little boy who quickly discovers what’s actually inside of it. From here the movie goes in another different direction as the kid forms a bond with the alien and we end up with a sorta E.T. type of thing going down. Yeah the crystal even grows a creepy glowing finger and shares some of it’s “ancient wisdom” and “power” with the kid leading them on a bit of an adventure of their own.
The whole movie is simply a delight to behold. With it’s fun sets, beautiful greek isle locations, endearing characters, pulpy villains and that oh so sweet era of the mid 1980’s for it’s ambitious story to take place in. The action is top notch as well and though the movie is jam packed with bone breaking stunts and martial arts it’s definitely not simply just a kung fu flick. In fact the final third of the movie plays out more like an Indiana Jones adventure as our band of heroes delve deep into trap filled caverns and tunnel slides for our characters to glide down to more even more danger.
It actually kinda feels like this flick might have been where Spielberg got his idea for ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’! Hey you never right? There’s so much fun here to be had, the classic 80’s fx in play and a ridiculous paper mache alien that could have used a bit more work still come off as charming. Cynthia is also right on top of her game here as well and it’s fucking awesome to see her in some of these Hong Kong productions where she looks right at home in their frenetic bone breaking action sequences. The kind that US productions never could seem to replicate but never stopped trying. I checked the movie out on Blu Ray, though it sadly wasn’t an official release (it desperately needs one!), you can watch the English Dub on Youtube and get the scoop about the flick from Cynthia herself right here below,
I’m all for 80’s throwback nostalgia, it was the decade where I spent most of my damn childhood for cryin’ out loud. That being said HBO’s “home pandemic theater” holiday release ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ should have really been a dream come true for me. Literally tailor made for someone just like me who still often longs for the good old days and full on nostalgia of the 1980s. However ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ somehow completely misses the mark and simply seems to try an make a checklist of what Hollywood thinks we want to see from that era, it’s the DCEU’s version of 2016’s ‘X-Men: Age of Apocalypse’, which in my opinion supremely failed at what should have been a sure-fire nostalgic hit with the awesome source material they had in their hands.
The funny thing is I’m not quite sure how to pin point just exactly what doesn’t work for me with Wonder Woman 1984. On paper it sounded like a wonder-ful idea to have Diana Prince hangin’ out in that particularly colorful fun filled era of cinema. It just made sense. There seems like so many totally radical scenarios to put her and the supporting characters in, but as the movie slogged by with it’s flimsy plot it was quite clear to me: This was not the 1980s I remember sooooo fondly. I guess the main problem is the plot’s pointlessly random approach to almost everything that occurs in it 2 hour and 30 minute run time. Dressing it all up in wild neon 80s fashion and the whole “fish out of water” approach just doesn’t save this one from being a bit of a stinker. I know Patty Jenkins was attempting to recreate the magic of Richard Donner’s Superman and and in the first 20 minutes it seemed like she was on track. It was soon apparent though it had more in common with say, George Lucas’ ‘Howard the Duck’ than ‘Superman II’.
Something this time around about Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman just didn’t resonate with me in the way it did in the charming first installment. Sure we got the ‘Mandalorian’ himself Pedro Pascal as the greedy “Lex Luthor” type villain who apparently has spent his entire life searching for some ancient magic crystal that grants wishes-why? Who knows and I guess who really cares right? Then you have Kristen Wiig playing the frumpy coworker of Diana’s at the Smithsonian Institute, who’s also set on becoming the next Iconic villain for Wonder Woman. Far from it. Of course Pedro Pascal or ‘Max Lord’ conveniently figures out that the two of them are in possession of and studying his most coveted crystal treasure. Things from there increase to get incredibly uninteresting, the pace slows way down and lets you enjoy the most boring aspects of the 1980s. Oh but wait, we just cannot forget Diana’s ex-lover, Chris Pine shows up, resurrected from the dead and randomly in the body of another man for some reason that I guess is connected to the magic crystal’s wish granting power.
The action scenes are decent, the acting isn’t half-bad and the 80s backdrop was for the most part handled fairly well. But this movie’s bland overly random plot points combined with it’s stereotypically boring supporting characters (mainly two uninteresting villains with ridiculous motivations) had me checking the time counting down the minutes tell it’d finally be over.
We do of course get to see Wonder Woman in a fully CGI final battle against a (for some reason fully CG) generated Kristin Wiig “Cheetah” that harkens back to that terrible final fight underground train sequence in the Black Panther! Yeeehaw! Trust me as someone who grew up in the 80s I can assure you they were much more totally radical than this. As a fan of the first outing this one, as we said in the 80’s this one gagged me with a spoon….I’ll gladly take THIS instead any day!
So I was just on one of my favorite podcasts out there on the interwebs: MOVIE MELT! If you’ve never checked it out and dig stuff like Red Letter Media or lots of the cinematic oddities I cover right here then you’re bound to really get some kicks outta this podcast. They really go the extra distance there covering weird flicks often even the likes of RLM’s “Best of the Worst” wouldn’t dare touch & their unique format blends in some brilliant comedy as well.
Anyway I was lucky to be able to chat in length about one of my favorite Holiday Horror flicks: Silent Night Deadly Night Part 5-The Toymaker!! We also cover more weird Christmas stuff that might tickle your fancy for holiday viewing this year, check out MOVIE MELT HERE!!!
Who knew that 1988’s Canadian cult creature feature ‘The Brain’ was actually a hidden holiday horror gem? Yep this monster movie from the opening scene has got Christmas decorations strewn all over the place and keeps up this trend for the full duration of the film. Christmas lights, trees, tinsel and Santa decorations are carefully placed in view. People every year search for those lost holiday horror gems and I’d say we can put ‘The Brain’ firmly in the “Takes place during the Christmas season” movies & if ‘Die Hard’ qualifies as a holiday film then this one certainly does as well!
Well is it worth the trouble to track down and check out this 2020 holiday season? YES! The Brain has everything I love in an 80’s horror flick. Cool likable characters, a wild giant rubbery monster, plenty of action and a ridiculous plot reminiscent of those classic 1950’s sci-fi creature features. Creepy ass Dr. Blakely (the dude from Re-Animator who loses his head-and does in The Brain too!) runs a seemingly normal TV show called “Independent Thinkers”, a popular weekly “self-help” program. However he’s not making his audience any wiser, he secretly serves an alien organism called The Brain, that brainwashes (duh!) the viewers using it’s other-worldy mind control techniques. It’s also got a hunger for human flesh & as it consumes it’s victims it also increases in size. The only one who stands to save the city and possibly the Earth is a wise crackin’ teenage practical joker and his super cute stylin’ girlfriend.
The Brain is a fun filled totally 80’s horror romp with plenty of action, cool villains and a rad slightly idiotic looking monster that’s brought to life via puppetry and animatronics. He’s kind of like giant hulking “Madball” toy from the 1980s. He attacks his victims with limited mobility as he “cruises” around on his snake-y bod. There’s also some cool kills that are unexpectedly sprinkled about the holiday landscape and rarely a dull moment to behold.
Most of the movie features our two main characters on the run and some of the settings are pretty sweet. I’m always a sucker for hiding out inside of an empty closed school all night! Easily one of my favorite places for mayhem to ensue. As I mentioned before, there’s enough holiday decor strewn about to warrant this one a watch during the Christmas season if you’re looking for something different this year. Besides that The Brain is a solid, entertaining, charming little monster movie that’s got a sweet release on blu ray from Scream Factory that looks great and has some cool little extras to give you tons of useless information on the the movies origins!
Ok it’s really no secret that the Presidential debates the other night was a complete and total shit show! I’d go as far to say that it may have been the worst “debate” I’ve ever seen. Anyway apparently I’m not the only person who thought that, in this crazy election year we’ve got the legendary crazy nerd pop star Weird Al Yankovic weighing in with another bonafide cult hit! Check this out as Al gives you his thoughts on these two candidates!!
The world is a crazy place right now, so you might want to take a moment to disconnect from the madness just for a minute to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of ROBOCOP!!! Ok that is all for today!! You may now go back to the regular scheduled programming!
Times are crazy, amidst the pandemic something even more sinister has certainly arisen, a true tragedy involving once again United States law enforcement. It seems the cops are being exposed again as true corrupt enemies of the people and more importantly the poor and African Americans seem to be those most hurt by them. Here are a few old VHS covers featuring horrific COPS that today certainly seem once again relevant. The cops must now learn, that their actions are under the microscope of the citizens of America. The police will be policed…Derek Chauvin remains far worse than any horror film villain could ever be.
I just checked out VFW, the latest from director Joe Begos (Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye) who returns with, in my opinion his best film yet! This sweet little gritty love letter to John Carpenter, which calls back to his classic ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ in big way, is also a blood soaked love letter to some older actors/action stars of yesteryear. We’ve got icons Fred Williamson, William Sadler, Stephen Lang, Martin Kove & even George Wendt from ‘Cheers’ to make this bar room brawl even more authentic!
The story kicks off on a special birthday night for VFW bar owner “Fred” and his tight knit gang of bad ass war veterans. The evening quickly turns into wild all-out battle for their lives when a teen punk rock girl crashes their party with a sack full of ‘hype’. This new drug basically turns people into demented maniacs, with a hunger for more hype at any cost. The evil punk drug dealer, desperate to get his valuable stash back, sends his gang of gnarly addicts on a rampage to get it back. When these mutant punks on a rampage storm the bar looking for the teen, the old vets along with a younger soldier get to relive the gory glory years of war one more time. They unleash their pent of rage and fury using every weapon they can get their hands on to protect the girl and try annihilate the horde of drug addled maniacs. However these messed up punks have hype running through their veins and want more, risking anything to their grimy paws on it.
If you’re a fan of old school action flicks from the 70’s & 80’s you’re going to really get a kick out of VFW. The gore is pretty over the top, done in a such a cartoony way that people literally explode on screen. As a fan of practical fx Begos always delivers the goods with some wild splatter, he also keeps the vibe placed firmly in the golden days of the action era, with not a cell phone in sight. It also feels like an 80’s flick, with stunning neon lit sets within the walls of the cool old dank dive bar.
The real highlight of this is the cast of old codgers who do the majority of the ass kickin’. It’s absolutely delightful to see the likes of Fred Williamson & The Karate Kid’s Martin “Sensei” Kove in full on action mode as well as Stephen Lang, William Sadler and the younger soldier played by Tom Williamson. They’re all great here and give this film the cred it deserves proving age is just a number when it comes to cinematic butt kicking. I really enjoyed VFW, it’s the perfect modern midnite movie and gets so much praise for bringing in some old icons into the mix of onscreen mayhem. Check this out if you’re a fan of 70’s/80’s cult action horror flicks- And here’s to hoping VFW gets a sequel bringing even more of the bar’s patrons into the fold, hand picking some more old nearly forgotten bad asses to do some damage one last time!
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.