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,
Jim Henson’s 1986 nearly forgotten classic ‘A Christmas Toy’ is definitely on my list this year for holiday viewing. I’ll admit that I’ve yet to see this one, but from my limited poking around here on it, this definitely sounds right up my alley as a bit of a darkly unique Christmas tale. I see some major ‘Toy Story’ vibes here as there’s a gang of toys who spring to life when humans leave the room and keep order amongst themselves based on who’s the most beloved by their child owners!
We’ve got a whole new gang of puppets to behold from Henson who aren’t the classic Muppets and apparently the stakes and mental health of the toy’s are quite dangerous here. If one is seen by human eyes while moving around they apparently freeze in their tracks for the rest of their lives. I also am noticing the striking similarities to Child’s Play’s “Chucky” doll in the red headed female doll-coincidence? Hmmm….
Henson around this time was involved with a lot of projects and puppets were really all the rage. Movies like The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth were dominating human consciousness. A year later in 1987 Henson’s TV series “The Storyteller” would come out and that’s something I missed out on back in the day that’s been on my radar to check out for years. It’s a shame that in today’s day and age something like Henson’s fully hands on puppetry fails to somehow enthrall the masses in the way that CGI seems to captivate and dominate media.
So yes, I’m going to check this one out on Christmas eve this year and see if it’s really truly a lost holiday classic. One thing I’ve heard in several reviews is that The Christmas toy actually plays out more like a horror movie with real stakes and a creepy witch like villain named “Meteora”. This sounds exactly like something as a fan of weird old holiday kids specials that just might be right up my alley. Have you seen it? If so is this one a must watch?
I never could get enough of the classic black Spider-man suit! Back in the 1980’s it was quite a controversy to give Peter Parker some new duds especially something as bold as the black costume! I loved it and it’s no wonder it was brought back several times through the years despite it becoming one of his most famous villians, Venom! Anyway here’s a favorite cover of mine from Web of Spider-man Annual #2 way back in 1986!! Charles Vess has done some truly stunning work and anytime he tackled Spider-man you knew you were in for a treat! Check it out!
Here’s a totally excellent comic book cover way back from 1986 done by the always awesome Brian Bolland, who in my opinion is easily one of the best cover artist of all time. This one’s a great portrayal of the legendary Elvira in House of Mystery #1!
With the Halloween season coming in mere days this one’s worth a second look and re-read. Cassandra Peterson still wows fans to this day with her iconic persona, she still looks as great as she ever did, perhaps she really is UNDEAD?!!
Wait a second here! How could it be that I’ve never heard of the cartoon ‘Defenders of the Earth’ from 1985?! Up until a few minutes ago I never even knew it existed. This cool 80’s cartoon even aired for 65 episodes and featured legendary comic characters The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, Lothar along with their children kicking villain ass. I know, everyone probably has seen the shit out of this show except me, I grew up in Wisconsin, never had cable tv and perhaps there it just simply didn’t air around where I lived?!
Whatever the case I’m a bit stunned I missed out, as a kid in 1985 I would have loved this show. The animation looks solid too, and even as a kid I could tell when cartoons had shoddy work done on them, my first thought was that it looked like the same animators that worked on G.I. Joe. There was even a Marvel Comic book series of it too..
I guess Marvel legend Stan Lee even wrote the lyrics for the damn theme song! Damn! Is this some sort of proof of the Mandela Effect manifesting in my life? Anyway this is like a King Features version of The Avengers and I think this could make a pretty cool little movie. Anyone else miss this as a kid?!!
Wait now there were also action figures too?! What? Hmm….I am perplexed!!
And some Robot Chicken…
One of the greatest comic book artists of all time is unarguably Bill Sienkiewicz, to prove my point once again I’m posting a pretty mediocre one shot from 1986, with a simply stunning cover by Bill. Step aside Wonder Woman cuz here’s……..Wonder Man?! Yeah, here’s one of my favorite Avengers that simply never got enough love. Wonder Man was a mega strong kick ass dude who sported one of the coolest looks in the comics, nobody could sport that stylin’ red jacket any better! Also known as Simon Williams, he quit the Avengers to pursue an acting career something not many other superheroes would ever dare attempt. Originally a bad guy created by legendary villain Baron Zemo to take on The Avengers in 1964, Wonder Man ranks as one of the strongest Avengers too and Bill Sienkiewicz provides the character with his most glorious appearance on this classic, forgotten piece of cover art!
Here’s yet another entry for all you folks out there who STILL get dvds in the mail from Netflix! I know there aren’t all that many of us left these days, but I’m the type of guy who still thinks dvds are the bees knees! Yeah!! So what of it?!! Don’t get me wrong, I still stream stuff on the online Neflix site but let’s be honest most of that shit SUCKS – Hence why I’ve been combing the dvd Neflix library for lost gems!
Good news folks, I found another gem in their vast sea of aging dvds, this time we’re looking at a movie from Hong Kong from way back in 1987: EVIL CAT. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this cool ass little Chinese horror movie but I’m glad I did cuz it was a ton o’ fun! This crazy ass little movie is jam packed with quirk, 80’s electricity and frantic action sequences, basically everything I dig about the 80’s. Director Dennis Yu brings the fun and amps up some seriously ridiculous shit as we follow the exploits of an evil cat spirit (who’da thunk huh?) that’s released from it’s ancient sealed tomb by a construction crew & unleashed upon Hong Kong in the late 80’s.
The movie moves at brisk pace too, the evil cat spirit moves from body to body kinda like that Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen’ if it was more of a spastic colorful horror romp. It’s actually pretty damn funny when the spirit possesses people, they start acting like wild feral cats growling and scratching like maniacs. It’s pretty cool to see these actors go for it and go pretty far over the top with their possessions.
The evil cat spirit however has problems of it’s own though as we learn over centuries one family has been hunting it and keeping it in check over generations. In the 1980’s there’s an old badass dude from that bloodline who’s dying from cancer who pulls out the old magic bow & arrows from storage to put a stop to the feline madness himself. There’s some sweet plot twists here, crazy characters & some surprising gore that pops in out of nowhere from time to time. The movie never really drags and wears it’s 80’s influences firmly on it’s sleeve. You get a pretty damn fine representation of what Hong Kong was like in the 1980’s, filled with neon and great 80’s fashion. It’s clear if you’re looking for more great crazy cinema from that era, there’s a treasure trove of movies waiting to be discovered from Hong Kong studios.
Evil Cat is definitely worth tracking down and the finale is pretty cool especially when the evil cat possesses a woman who’s nearly as unstoppable as the Terminator! The actual cat spirit is portrayed several times as cool hand drawn animation & then as basically a female cat “creature” pulled from the broadway musical “Cats”.
So while there were several aspects of the movie that could have been done better it was still an incredibly inspired 80’s effort to witness for the first time with no expectations. Also if you’re a fan of kung fu there’s some cool crazy showdowns and plenty of humor thrown into the mix. Some if it being likely being due to some shoddy subtitles and translations that just add more charm to the viewing experience. Track down EVIL CAT or if you still have a Netflix dvd account then throw it into you’re queue!!
There was a time when zombies were fucking awesome & not like how they are “awesome” today. That time was way back in the 70’s & 80’s before everyone and their mom and dad were watching ‘The Walking Dead’. Today the zombie craze has brought us countless shitty zombie movies, comic books & merch but back in the 80’s all of the zombie mayhem was quite a bit more underground. I was watching Frank Henenlotter’s ‘Brain Damage’ last night with a group of people and noticed someone in the movie was reading ‘Deadworld’. I was surprised that no one in the group had ever even heard of the comic book. I’ve blogged several times in the past about the book which still remains my favorite zombie comic of all time (at least the first 12 issues or so). Deadworld is punk as fuck and featured some truly stunning undead art from the gore master Vincent Locke who’s done artwork for bands like Cannibal Corpse. The 1986 book featured a prominent villain simply referred to as ‘King Zombie’ and his gang of undead who’ve developed intelligence while still lusting for flesh. He was a total badass who cruised around on his motorcycle and terrorized a gang of teens who’s bus broke down on a desolate highway. The books a treasure trove of totally amazing, legit zombie tattoo designs by the way. There’s been a collection done pretty recently of all of the old issues and they even tried to reboot it a some years back. I suggest hunting those down, they’re a unique read and embody the dirty grit of grindhouse 80’s style zombie flick to perfection. This was the issue featured in ‘Brain Damage’ it remains today one of my favorite pieces of zombie art to date!
And of course here’s ‘King Zombie’…..
Over the years we all have enjoyed and sometimes hated the giant “epic” multi title crossovers and mini-series that are so damn popular these days. However some of my personal favorite comic book stories are short and sweet. They often times have nothing to do with the major story arc you’re currently reading in that title and especially back in the 70’s & 80’s these self contained stories that had a beginning and end to them all in one book were sometimes more heavy hitting than any crossover could ever be. So I’ll be showcasing some of my favorites and the first one that came to mind might be my favorite of them all.
Flash back to 1986 when X-Men #205 hit the shelves. This issue is easily one of the best Wolverine stories of all time, and it’s all in just one issue. A brilliant epic crafted by Chris Claremont and Barry Windsor Smith remains one of the darkest and most brutal issues of X-men to date. Let me clarify that this was during a time when Wolverine was rarely seen in solo adventures and the character was still deeply mysterious.
The story was called “Wounded Wolf” and featured Lady Deathstrike’s first appearance as a super freaky ass cyborg as well as her three Reaver mercenary minions. It also featured Katie Powers from the mutant kid team ‘Power Pack’ who during a snow storm encounters Wolverine who’s beaten to a pulp, covered in blood and nearly naked. Soon the two of them are both on the run from Lady Deathstrike and her cyborgs who’re out for bloody revenge. It reminds of a Wolverine movie storyboard Ridley Scott might have anticipated directing in the 80’s. Continue reading
Remember when Wolverine was truly awesome?! No? Well it’s been a long while since Wolverine was a mysterious, weird looking, bar brawlin’, little runt with indestructible razor sharp claws. Now he’s Old Man Logan because X-23 is the female Wolverine. Now he’s been in a bunch of mainstream movies with a tall, hot, hunky leading man playing him. He’s been way overexposed over the years so Marvel could fully cash in on big time profits. He’s hardly a mysterious character anymore. Wolverine is much like say, the band Metallica in 2016, a watered down, bland, tired version of the badass metal band they were in the 1980’s. Wolverine however didn’t always used to be this way believe it or not way back when he was the epitome of cool. He was so damn awesome back in the 1980’s even the indie comics couldn’t come up with a character who was half as kick ass as ol’ Logan. Yep Marvel had their shit fully together and they knew it. Back in the 1980’s the X-men were something special and over the years they’ve become a gang of predictable, mega mainstream pop culture icons. Well back when Wolverine was a scary dude the X-Men was really the only place you could find this character monthly until 1989 when he finally got his own series. Here’s an example of how awesome the character was in the 80’s. Another amazing cover from the master Barry Windsor Smith….