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.
Well it’s that time of the year yet again and boy does time sure fly huh?! Yep another damn Christmas is comin’ and of course it’s the prime time to watch a plethora of holiday movies. One genre the “Christmas themed” horror movie, is easily one of my favorites. I’ve gotta say though it’s been a few years since I’ve actually seen anything that truly knocked my socks off ho-ho-holiday horror-wise that is.
2015 brought one of my favorites of all time, “Krampus”, which I’m sure to watch again this year and then just five years earlier another true classic “Rare Exports” dropped. So now it’s nearing the end of 2018, let’s take a quick look at what’s stirring about this year and see if there are any possible gems to watch between now and Christmas time!!
All The Creatures Were Stirring
So I watched this one last night, hoping it was going to become another holiday horror classic, sadly this just wasn’t the case. This Christmas anthology has it’s few moments but overall it’s a largely forgettable yuletide dud. It features six short Christmas themed segments, the best being one called “Dash and Away” which is kinda like a holiday themed short with a sort of Tales From The Crypt “Demon Knight” type of thingy going on. The rest features a lackluster take on a modern day Scrooge, a secret Santa office party going for a Saw type vibe, some pissed off killer reindeer which should have been awesome and the plot of others I’ve already forgotten. Also no sight of snow anywhere within these unspooky tales. If you’re really desperate this isn’t the worst thing you could watch but it’s surely no “Gremlins”. If you’re looking for a Christmas anthology check out ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ from 2015, that ones a much more ambitiously bonkers Holiday horror flick.
Anna and The Apocalypse
Here’s one lots of people are kinda ranting about lately, it’s a Christmas Zombie musical. I’m planning on checking this one out, but honestly I’m not a big fan of musicals and I’ve been steering clear of zombie movies for a while now as the whole craze at this point is just too played out for me these days. But hey I’m gonna give it a try soon regardless, why not?! here’s the synopsis: “A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy little town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.”
Yeah well here’s another one that in theory sounds like it might be a pretty sweet holiday horror, but then you watch the trailer and, well….I’ll probably pass. It looks like someone with a low budget was giving it an honest shot but the trailer does little to inspire me to seek this one out for a watch. Here’s the synopsis tho in case you’re feelin’ it with this one: “A group of college students attending a Christmas party at a sorority house that has a sinister past are all stalked by a bloodthirsty killer disguised as Mrs. Claus.’
Nope this isn’t a re-release of the 1989 classic schlock horror movie starring Dan Haggerty. This appears to be some sort of sequel to a movie called “Elf” not the awesome Will Ferrell one either, but another supremely lackluster one from maybe a year ago. Here’s the synopsis: “When a group of friends discover ancient elves locked in a cursed chest, they unknowingly unleash their wrath on the world.” Again, no snow in sight! If you’re going to make a crappy X-mas movie at least get some damn snow! Instead I recommend the Dan Haggerty flick of the same name-that one is awesomely idiotic!
Here’s yet another “killer in Santa costume” horror flick, this time all the way from Norway. To tell you the truth I’m pretty burned out on the whole “killer santa” thing, there’s great movies out there that were made in the 1980’s that do it best. But if you just can’t seem to get enuff of the genre then maybe Christmas Blood will be a must see for you! Here’s the synopsis: ” A murderer gets caught after terrorizing and killing people during Christmas night for past 13 years in Norway. After being in solitary for almost 6 years, psychopath escapes couple days before Christmas night. Police tracks next target of the psychopath to be in small village in the northernmost part of Norway. Group of friends are having reunion in the same village and unexpectedly end up being in part of Santa’s plan.” Hey at least this one takes place somewhere with snow! That being said if you’re looking for in my opinion the BEST killer Santa movie you must track down “Deadly Games” aka “Dial Code Santa” from 1989. It’s a rare french horror film that’s finally getting some attention here in the states this year, a mix of Rambo, Silent Night Deadly Night & Home alone!
I’m actually kinda excited to check out Pooka which is part of Hulu’s anthology series “Into the Dark”, It’s been referred to as Twilight Zone-ish type of horror outing and the whole concept sounds pretty interesting, I’m gonna check this one out for sure this Christmas, here’s the sysnopsis: “A struggling actor gets a holiday season job as a Christmas character in a plush suit to promote the hottest toy of the year, Pooka; he slowly develops two personalities – one when he’s in the suit and one that’s outside it.” It’s concept certainly beats another new “killer in a Santa costume” flick.
So that seems about it this year, are there any missing that I need to see or mention? Let me know!
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).
Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.
It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.
From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!
Been a movie watchin’ fiend lately & luckily most of the flicks, most of which I’d call largely forgotten cinema, have been surprisingly damn good! So listen up I’m gonna throw a bunch of short reviews for some films that are worth the trouble to track down if like me you’re looking for some lost gems! Let’s get on with this shit today we’ve got some great what I like to coin ‘John Hughes Horror’ in…
Night Life (1989)
First up let it be known this cool ass little movie was never officially released on dvd so it’s a tuff one to track down. You can hunt down a copy on vhs or like I did buy a bootleg copy of it on dvd from Ioffer.com, a great site for stuff like this. Anyway I wanna start off saying that this movie has Scott Grimes, that red headed kid from Critters 1&2 so it instantly had me there as I love those two movies. It’s essentially an 80’s teen high school bully movie with zombies. Scott Grimes or “Archie” in the movie, who channels a bit of Michael J. Fox, works at a mortuary for his jerky uncle (John Astin) and is bullied by four assholes (two preppy jock-y couples) from his school. Turns out he’s totally infatuated with one of the girls and the bullies quickly devise a plan to set him up on a “date” that ultimately destroys him teenage life. He’s also got an older lady pal, a cute local mechanic that he hangs out with all the time that he’s also crushed out on, who’s clearly put him in the friend zone. Ahh to be a teenager again…
Well one day those same four prepster bullies meet their demise in a horrible car crash, and of course Archie has to take them back to the mortuary. It seems though he’s in high school he accompanies the police to crimes scenes and is oddly in charge of the “dirty work” of dealing with the dead, I guess that shit flew back in the 80’s huh? Only problem is the four assholes become zombies when a bolt of lightning strikes the roof of the mortuary, something clearly foreshadowed earlier when a dead frog’s legs twitch when given an electrical charge by his science teacher. The nice thing here is these Zombies aren’t your mindless walkers, they’re more ruthless, cunning & have one clear driving their every move: to turn Archie into mince meat!! This begins a totally outrageous game of cat and mouse that plays out like a great extended episode of Tales From The Crypt in the best way.
The movie’s got a light hearted feel to it but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty when it needs to either. The zombie bullies use their newly acquired blood lust to carry out some pretty inventive on screen kills too. This may not be a traditional zombie apocalypse flick, but it’s one of the most unique and who needs more of the apocalypse anyway. Even in the 80’s that shit was overdone. Even way back in 89′ Tony Timpone of Fangoria praised it “the most original, off-beat & entertaining zombie films in years, a must see!”. I gotta agree it’s a ton of fun, has great stunts, cool fx, gore, rad looking zombies, sets & characters. Pretty much everything I love about the 80’s all wrapped into one. This one deserves an official release it’s definitely a lost gem. I’m pretty floored at how this movie doesn’t have more love these days, hopefully someone will clean it up and give it a proper release if you’re a fan of 80’s horror and those John Hughs-esque flick of that era you’ll find a lot here to love!! One last interesting tidbit here is that director David Acomba was one the two directors responsible for the infamously bad 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special!! But hey don’t hold that against him!!
People seem to tell themselves that they love the Netflix streaming stuff, but I’m here to say if you’re a movie maniac like myself, then you’re missing out a bit if you’ve stopped with the dvd mailing package that everyone used to have. Yep, I still get those red and white envelopes in the mail and continue to comb the Netflix dvd library for some lost gems. When I say these are “lost gems” I’m saying it with love for flicks with that 70’s and 80’s charm that I simply adore so damn much. This is a fun one to add to your Queue..
So I recently checked out a movie from 1989 called ‘Night Visitor’ which is part raunchy teen comedy mixed with a bit of “suspenseful” horror cheez. I’d always remembered the vhs cover artwork for this movie and was pleasantly surprised at how well it delivered the goods albeit, it’s ridiculous manner. I guess one of the draws for the movie was Shannon Tweed’s inclusion as the ultra sexy single next door neighbor lady. She’s pretty well known for her “erotic” thrillers of the 80’s and 90’s and also as Gene Simmons of Kiss’ longtime lover. Of course in the 80’s where there’s a sexy neighbor there’s sure to be some horny teenager spying ala “Rear Window” style on her. That’s the main premise of this one. Teen prankster/known bull shit artist, Billy, is ecstatic to find out Tweed has moved in as his new neighbor and he can’t stop spyin’ on her through his bedroom window. Yeah he’s got a reputation and he’s got troubles at school particularly with history teacher who’s fed up with his cocky demeanor & lames excuses for being continuously late to class.
Things turn into risky biz as it seems Tweed’s just fine with his new hobby as she flirts nightly with Billy through her bedroom window letting him in on her sessions of passion. Of course though if things just seem too good to be true they likely are for a horny teen in the 1980’s – Things take a dark and “dangerous” turn when one night he witnesses her get killed by a creepy robed slasher dude in a demonic mask! In the midst of the mayhem he learns the slasher’s actually his naggin’ pain in the ass history teacher, played by Allen Garfield, who here, oddly creepily resembles the crazy conspiracy theorist Alex Jones! Of course Billy’s shocked (and a bit bummed out) by this cuz his new perverted pastime comes to a sudden halt and even worse that no one believes his crazy ass story.
It seems to take some plot points from the far superior ‘Fright Night’ but Night Visitor still manages to provide some cheezball 80’s fun as we follow Billy’s elaborate plan to foil his deranged teacher’s path of destruction. It’s a decent yet ridiculous little horror movie that also features Elliot Gould in the “Peter Vincent” sorta role to team up with the teen hero. Night Visitor is definitely worth a watch if you’re down for some good C-level horror/thriller/erotic action with those 80’s genre tropes mashed up for good measure. It’s a fun “nobody believes me/everyone thinks I’m crazy when I’m not” flick. I oddly never seem to tire of that narrative and also really dig the whole “student vs his crazy teacher” plot line this one’s got going. Of course too I won’t lie, also back in the day I really didn’t mind when Shannon Tweed showed up in a movie and I still don’t! Check this out for some rather ridiculous fun and if you’re at all curious what it’d be like if Alex Jones taught at your high school, worshipped Satan and was hellbent on killin’ your ass!!
***This one was also known as ‘Never Cry Devil’
Unlike a most people I’ve STILL got the dvd mailers from Netflix coming my way. Let’s face the facts folks most movies online on Netflix watch instantly kinda suck, it’s crazy how many movies I’ve started and never finished on that damn website! So I’ve been combing the DVD version of the site trying to find cool old b-movie movies they’ve got in their ample reserve. Surprisingly I’ve found some decent lil’ gems there, most of said movies have terrible reviews and super duper low star ratings. I’m going to chronicle those here, the first one I’m recommending is a movie from 1989 called “Amok Train” or as it’s also known “Beyond the Door III”. Keep in mind this movie actually has nothing to do with either of the two previous ‘Beyond The Doors’ but even the Amok Train’s title screen calls it ‘Beyond the Door III’ in the actual movie.
Directed by Jeff Kwitny, who only directed four movies, one was the 1988 ski horror flick “Iced” that I now need to see as well. I wasn’t expecting a god damn thing from “Amok Train” to be honest but this movie actually delivered all the glorious 80’s cheez I personally crave on all levels! From it’s start I could tell just from the odd setting alone, as it was shot in Serbia and actually features some stunning locations that it had some promise going forward. The plot follows some American college students who head off on a class trip to Yugoslavia and witness some crazy ass pagan rituals, after traveling on a creepy ferry, which were surprisingly effectively pulled off. After most of the students survive the deadly encounter from the crazed locals they frantically run off into the woods and come across a moving train that’s barreling through the countryside. Of course they are able to just barely hop aboard (most of them at least) to their “safety” and of course that’s where the rest of the flick’s craziness mostly ensues.
I totally dig the setting of “the trapped on a train with evil forces” aspect of this one. The movie moves along at relatively fast pace as well. It’s got it’s fair share of impressive but ridiculous special effects, as well as some of the most idiotic “train out of control” sequences I’ve ever seen out on film. These scenes though, for me at least, enhance this C-level cinematic experience to higher levels of fun as the train seems to have an evil mind of it’s own. It switches course to evil paths on randomly appearing moving “possessed” train tracks. There’s some pretty cool yet cheezed out shit going on here, like the fact the train’s engine suddenly begins feeding on people rather than coal and the train is on a tight schedule to get one of the “virgin” college students on a perverted play date with the devil himself.
There’s also this cool 80’s badass soldier lady that joins the gang on the train who talks a lot of tuff guy shit and a killer scarf..yeah a killer scarf! The cast who’s got a It’s got some good gore also and stars Bo Svenson for anyone who gives a shit. For a flick I had zero expectations for it made for quite a fun evening of tokin’ and boozin’ it up a bit. If you dig obscure horror stuff that’s not on anyone’s radar then seek this out especially if you’re like me and still get pumped when you see that red and white Netflix dvd envelope in your mailbox!!
I’m a total sucker for a cool or super damn cheezy 80’s pop/rock song & I’ve noticed through the years that there are some really awesome soundtracks featuring obscure bands from the era that are almost entirely forgotten. Well NO more! I’m going to start compiling some of my favorite 80’s underground hits that have appeared in some of the more forgotten cult movies of the genre. So let’s get to the first installment!
About a week ago I checked out a cool little obscure australian slasher flick from 1989 called “Blood Moon”. It’s pretty much everything you want from the genre, playing out like a twisted ultra cheez John Hughes wannabe movie done down under. It’s got a ton of crazy horny teens, a ridiculous slasher, cool 80’s style and a total ludicrous plot.
“Something dreadful is happening in the small town of Cooper’s Bay … something more hideous than murder. The victims, usually students, are being strangled with a particularly grisly weapon while making love. They’re then buried … and small-town life goes on.
That is, until Kevin, an outsider, falls for Mary, the daughter of a Hollywood star. Both are on the campus killer’s hit list. They’re also on biology teacher Miles (sic) Sheffield’s hate list. Miles, you see, cannot tolerate his oversexed wife’s embarrassing affairs with the students. Finally, the rage building inside Miles and the insane butchering of young men and women explode in a nightmare of heart-pounding suspense … under a BLOOD MOON.”
Yep pretty much everything that makes a bad 80’s movie a ton of fun. What we also get is some cool obscure 80’s music, more notably a sweet Aussie power pop/glam band called “Vice” who “play live” in the movie during a school dance. I’ve gotta admit the band’s got the chops along with a rad goth glam look (They were forced to sport for the horror movie vibe) and some sweet ass catchy as shit pop gems. If I make a mix of cult horror movie songs this one will probably start it off.
It looks like Vice was a band formed in Brisbane in 1984 and throughout the years supported bands like ‘The Sweet’ & ‘Stryper’ on tours. I guess they started out as more of thrash band and also had some kinda offensive album covers too. In the later 80’s the band put out more polished power pop type of stuff. I checked out the album from ’89 called “Take Me home” that their “hit” song from the movie appeared in and it’s a ton of fun. Anyway here’s the theme song from Blood Moon “Keep Holding On” in all it’s 80’s keyboard kickin’ glory: