Tagged: 1990’s

Bizzaro Lost 90’s Christmas Flick: FANTASTIC GAMES is a Holiday Fever Dream!

Are you looking for something truly bizarre to watch this holiday season? Well you’ve definitely come to the right damn place, as I recently ran across a movie from 1998 that takes place on Christmas Eve and is just about as wildly perplexing and insane as they come!

‘Fantastic Games’ is a movie that’s passed through the years almost completely unwatched by anyone, save for a few die hards of weird-o cinema on Letterboxd! Director Alvaro Passeri crafted a cool little practical effects heavy monster flick from 1994 called ‘Creatures from the Abyss‘ AKA ‘Plankton’ that much like ‘Fantastic Games’ has also gone many years oddly without a cult following, it’s a pretty fun stupid little practical fx heavy creature feature that deserves a much wider audience in my opinion.

Fantastic Games (which is only available to watch on YouTube for some reason) revolves around a family during a snowy Christmas Eve trying to take care of their sick daughter. Her father on top of it all is missing, trapped out in the cold winter night somewhere and a weird family “friend” pops in during the snow storm with some clearly ulterior motives.

Her brother insists on reading her a crazy colorfully cosmic adventure story from a strange book that materializes on screen in all of it’s wacky epic glory & barely makes a lick of freakin’ sense. About 15  Minutes into this movie I didn’t know what the flying fuck was going on! However it’s such a delicious visual treat to lay your eyes upon it really doesn’t matter. Basically it involves a teenage girl who flies on a surfboard through space with her dog companion Toby. Sort of mirroring a “Dorothy and Toto” type a trope.

She gets mixed up in some sort of “live action” video game I guess you could refer to it as a “fantastic game” set forth by some weird ornery horned alien villain with a shiny plate glass face who loves to yell at people any chance he gets.

I’m guessing it’s trying to replicate the magic of ‘The Neverending Story’, to intensely up the ante with its cadre of creatures, satanic skeleton filled caverns, creepy puppet faced space wizards and just about any reason to display some sort of fever-dreamlike special fx sequence.

The amount of effort the director must have put in to this truly inventive yet incredibly incoherent little visual feast is really quite ambitious. Viewing this for the 1st time left me scratching my head on just how this strange psychotronic nineties oddity has passed everyone by for so many years without a peep from genre fanatics. 

I’d say this one’s in desperate need of a blu ray restoration and a big modern day cult following. It’s the type of movie you wanna watch with a gang of cinema junkies & plenty of merry drinks during the holidays!  It features more than enough Christmas visuals too to qualify as a bonafide holiday gem.

However it’s easily one of the most perplexing and confusing pieces of cinema I viewed in some time. Get ready to behold some weird shit, like the meek little dog companion Tony extinguish a raging fire in the pits of hell with his own pee! All bets are off on how these two are gonna survive and further to the finish line of the sinister “Fantastic” game. The events that happen in this creepy world also seem to be mirroring the fever of the sick girl and troubling family events on Christmas Eve.

It’s a pretty interesting to watch how this all unfolds- even though it doesn’t make really sense.  Imagine a sort of D-list Terry Gilliam style wacko cinescape that thrives to be bigger and more boisterous visually but plotwise more incohesive while not giving a damn. Director Alvaro Passeri is either a madman or a incredibly underrated visionary waiting for a legion of fans who salivate for something straight out of a nightmare.

Check out his website and you tell me that this guy isn’t perhaps a secret genius: He’s clearly a master of practical effects and an inventor of some of the weirdest shit I’ve seen in a long time, check this out if you doubt me:

Clearly a Renaissance man of bizarre proportions, I see good things on the horizon for Paserri once word finally gets out about his unique secret cinematic achievements and oddball inventions. So this Christmas season why don’t you take a trippy trip into his strange holiday nightmare world of Fantastic Games. You can watch the whole movie right here! 

 

 

 

‘Perversions of Science’ the Forgotten Tales from the Crypt Sequel Series?!

Tales from the Crypt is easily hands down one of the greatest horror television shows of all time and what a great time of the year to revisit your favorite episodes! Well this year I put together a cool VHS horror anthology that’s all Halloween themed, in fact this is my sequel, as I made the 1st installment last year. To put this thing together I did a lot of research on Halloween themed horror short films from the eighties and nineties, Halloween themed horror TV episodes (no sitcoms) and of course installments of movie horror anthologies that all revolve around the Season of the Witch.

Finding the goods is actually a lot harder than you might think, but my Halloween research led me to a 1997 series called ‘Perversions of Science’ that has a pretty sweet Halloween episode directed by horror icon Tobe Hooper! But just what the fuck is ‘Perversions of Science’ anyway?

 Well news to me, it’s the “sequel series” to Tales from the Crypt and involves the same creative team, with music by Danny Elfman. Instead of the Crypt Keeper this time we get a futuristic sexy sultry computer generated robot woman as our host. Where the hell has this been my entire life and why am I just finding it about it all right now?!

Well from what I understand it definitely wasn’t the most popular series of its time and only ran for ONE season. Though many of the episodes have strong horror elements, it’s primarily a science fiction based show. I don’t claim to be any expert on this as I’ve only seen one episode, but the one I did see was definitely good enough to make me hella curious on hunting down the rest. But since it’s so close to Halloween I might as well talk a little bit about the Halloween themed episode of that’s leading me down this Perversion rabbit hole.

The episode ‘Panic’ takes place on Halloween night at a costume party, where two real life aliens from another planet are disguising themselves and eagerly awaiting orders from their leader to launch an attack on the human race. However unbeknownst to them a “war of the worlds” type radio broadcast is on the airwaves that evening and they mistake it as a real world news event. This leads the evil aliens played by Jason Lee & Jamie Kennedy (oh soooooo damn 90s!!!) into a bizarre series of earthly events on All Hallow’s Eve.

There’s some pretty cool practical effects here that definitely harken back to the good old days of Tales from the Crypt but of course there’s also some rather dodgy nineties cgi as well. That all being said I’d love to get my hands on a nice clean copy of the show as it looks like it’s got a lot of potential.

But there’s never been physical version of this thing ever released to my knowledge besides it’s original airing, no DVD’s VHS or blu rays out there that I’ve been able to track down and not streaming anywhere.

With directors like Tobe Hooper, William Shatner (?) and stars like Jeffrey Combs, Ron Perlman, Sean Astin, Will Wheaton this 10 episode series is on my ASAP must see list!!  Have you seen this forgotten television series? Let me know! Ps here are my VHS tapes I made:

VHS Verdict: Corey Haim’s Underrated ‘Prayer of the Rollerboys’!

Corey Haim Is easily one of the most iconic actors of the eighties, however a lot of people seem to have missed out on his nineties career. ‘Prayer of the Rollerboys’ is a perfect place to start. Likely filmed in 1989 it still perfectly kickstarts Corey into the nineties! 

In the distant future crime is running rampant and Corey is a part-time pizza boy/full time hot shot rollerblader trying to take care of his little brother, put food on the table and find deeper meaning to life. Only one problem: a renegade gang of white supremacist criminals are endangering anyone who roams the streets, and they just happen to be obsessed with…..wait for it… You guessed it…. rollerblading! DUH!

 They’ve also got a snazzy new drug they’re pushing to the general public called “Mist” and things on the street are getting downright out of control. Luckily Haim meets Patricia Arquette, who at first appears to be just an beautiful, punk rock bad ass, but in reality works undercover for the police force. She’s looking for a way to infiltrate the evil Rollerboys and put an end to their racist dug peddling antics, good thing for her she met Corey who’s the prime candidate with with his radical rollerblading skills to get in league with the gang.  However even more lucky for Cory that she totally digs him! Jeeeealous!!!

 The film also stars Christopher Collet, who actually co-starred with with Corey Haim in his very first feature film, one that I highly recommend called FIRST BORN from 1984.  Here he plays the evil racist gang leader and goes one-on-one with Corey after pushing him way over the edge with a near unspeakable act of racism. Some of the stuff feels all too relevant in modern times as we deal with similar types of American nationalists today who like in “Rollerboys” try to inspire fear of illegal immigrants attempting to brainwash the working class into thinking they’re our enemies. Collette seems right out of a corrupt right wing nightmare.

I love the tone and setting up this movie, it takes place in a desolate, trashy, almost post apocalyptic timeline. It’s got that cool grainy almost Australian cinematography going for it as well  and actually goes a lot darker than I would have ever imagined. At first I guessed it to be more of a ‘Solarbabies’ adjacent type of movie. However this one’s actually pretty violent, with gripping action scenes, even though lots of them are roller blade-centric, delivering more action cheez than I could’ve hoped for. Surprisingly well executed!

If you’re not sold by the first opening 10 minutes featuring Corey Haim in a dazzling action packed montage of ridiculous roller stunts then you’re definitely gonna want to tune out. For the first time watch for me though it was just more proof of how iconic and important Corey was to the 80s teen coming of age genre that I hold so dear to me. It’s another solid Haim hit and one that many fans seem to have completely let fly under the radar. As ridiculous as the plot might sound it’s actually a pretty competent movie with quite a few interesting themes bubbling beneath its surface too. It’s got genuine thrills, cool characters, a villain you love to hate and some pretty memorable over the top action jams. In short this one’s way better than it ought to be and if you just happen to be a fan of freestyle rollerblading you’re gonna shit your pants here, this one’s most definitely for you rollerboyz and galz.

Somehow they manage to mix rollerblading into a movie that’s grittier, darker and goes deeper than expected. It’s also got a pretty pumpin’ soundtrack as well, plus seeing Corey and Patricia team up is a real delight, both have that special cinematic charisma. Sadly, Patricia, I think deserved a lot more screen time and it does seem a bit clear here that Corey might be heading into the troubling times of his career behind the scenes. It’s insane to me that no one has given it a fancy blu ray release either, that needs to happen ASAP. So track this little gem down if you’re feeling nostalgic for some ‘class A’ Corey Haim! RIP my dude….

 

Larry Cohen’s 1992 SHE-HULK Movie That Should’ve Been!

So today the first episode of the long awaited SHE-HULK series premieres on Disney Plus & though I’m excited for it I’m still a bit saddened that we will never have gotten a LIVE action She-Hulk on the big OR small screen. If I’m not making myself entirely clear it’s because the version of She-Hulk we’re getting today is indeed a fully CGI generated character. However what most people don’t realize is that waaaay back in the early nineties there was indeed a live action She- Hulk movie in the works!

Even more amazing was that at its helm was Larry Cohen one of my all time favorite cult cinema directors- Even MORE “sensational” was the inclusion of Brigitte Nielsen in the title role of the Jade Giantess! This was indeed a match made in heaven. And after watching Larry Cohen’s brilliant 1990 movie ‘The Ambulance’ I’m convinced Stan Lee and him had made the connection for producing a She-Hulk movie during that production.

If you’ve never seen ‘The Ambulance’ you gotta check it out. Eric Roberts stars as a Marvel Comic Book artist who goes on an insane journey chasing a mysterious ambulance across New York City. Stan even makes several  cameos in it as himself (above). 

After the the Cohen/Stan Lee connection had been established, New World Pictures was seemingly ready to produce a live action She-Hulk movie, shooting for a 1992 release & indeed had Larry attached to direct (and rumored to have written the script). Apparently an attempt was made to attract investors by doing some concept photo shoots for the character with Brigitte Nielsen, who would also be in the role of Jennifer Walters. 

I remember running across these photos in ‘Comics Scene’ magazine way back when and being pretty excited about what the possibilities of this collaboration might produce even if her look and outfit were a bit off in the promo photos. The script is shrouded in mystery and has never really but really had any sort of leaks except that Eric Roberts was to appear as a villain. I can only imagine with Larry Cohen directing we would have gotten something at the very least intriguing and fun. It’s also not certain whether these concept photos were really reflective of the true “final look” of the character. It’s imagined that once production was started on it they would’ve fleshed  out her character design much more & hopefully made her skin tone at least darker green. 

 Whatever the case Brigitte would have filled the role perfectly, The Red Sonja star was a dream cast for the movie. I can only imagine that this ultra campy version of the character might have eventually morphed into a cult classic. The early synopsis promo:                                                         

SHE-HULK (Larry Cohen, 1992). A mild-mannered lawyer (Brigitte Nielsen) receives a life-altering blood-transfusion after being shot by a local mobster (Eric Roberts). As a result, she finds herself transformed into a magical green rage-monster.

Though it sounded promising, they had several cinematic misses under their belt by that time with Howard the Duck, Captain America & The Punisher films all flopping and barely meeting the mark for comic fanatics. However my faith in Larry Cohen as a director and script writer only confirms that this particular project would’ve indeed been something memorable. Brigitte in 1990 was fully fit and definitely ready for the role.

It’s a real shame that never it never happened, I think a She-Hulk movie coming from that era would have been so much fun and I’m so curious where are they would have gone with everything. Even if it had turned out to be one giant ball of gamma radiated cheese it still would’ve been interesting to see a real live action version of the character and given Brigitte a chance to shine like Lou Ferrrigno did in his classic role….

 

 

 

 

LGBTQ Pride Month Cover: NORTHSTAR! Marvel’s 1st Gay Superhero!

It’s pride month & U-Dork is here to feature a sweet comic book cover way back from 1986, Marvel Fanfare #28, featuring Marvel Comics very 1st and BEST openly gay superhero, the one and only Northstar!

Yes! Alpha Flight has been an ALL time favorite of mine since 1983. A cool, cast of characters created by comic legends John Byrne & Chris Claremont, and one of the most diverse, even by today’s standards, superhero teams around. Northstar is a true fan favorite as Marvel’s first openly gay character, who officially made news back in issue #106 when he made his reveal January 14th, 1992. I remember back then it was quite a big deal.

However even though the character was always intended to be gay, more conservative restrictions back in the early 80s on comic books wouldn’t allow it. Instead Byrne had to let readers read between the lines. Northstar is a true LGBTQ legend and honestly I’m quite surprised that Alpha Flight has not made its way onto the big screen. Seriously get with the program MCU!

Not only is Northstar one of the coolest mutants in the MCU he’s also got one of the best most boisterous attitudes around.  He’s always been a fun read and never a dull moment when dealing with him. Over the years he has even joined the ranks of the X-Men.  However I personally enjoy him much more as a member of Alpha Flight..

 This cover of Marvel Fanfare #28 is an excellent representation of him and the team as you can see when viewing the full wrap-around cover. It creates quite a stunning full picture, beautifully illustrated by Ken Steacy.

 The character of Northstar is one of my favorites and definitely deserves to be honored this month in particular! Props to Northstar AKA Jean-Paul Beaubier!

VHS Verdict: 1993’s STEPMONSTER Makes Mom a Mutant!!

I’m always excited to use what little power I have on U-Dork to hype up a forgotten gem of movie that warrants a fancy blu ray release and 1993’s Stepmonster is just that kind of flick. With a solid cast featuring Alan Thicke, Ami Dolenz and Corey Feldman (among others) we get a sweet little early 90s, PG-13, cheezed out creature feature! Right up my alley..

 Produced by Fred Olen Ray and Roger Corman you might already have a pretty good idea of what to expect here.  It’s a bit of a coming of age horror flick mixed with monsters and suburban comedy. Pre-teen kid Todd’s mother goes mysteriously missing on a family camping trip and a few months later his Dad (Alan Thicke of COURSE)  has strangely got a new mysterious lady movin’ in who’s soon to be Todd’s new mom. Ummm…TOO soon Alan!

To make matters worse dead bodies start turning up in suburbia and Todd begins to suspect that his mother is some sort of vicious shapeshifting mutant monster that made her way from the forest on their camping trip into their freakin’ family home. Of course no one believes him and he spends his time trying to convince his crush Amy Dolenz & her stoner rocker boyfriend (played by Corey Feldman) of the danger the neighborhood is in. 

That’s the one part of this movie that could have been greatly improved-it needed WAY more Corey!  He comes across here like his Frog Brother persona or better yet like his character from The Burbs. This might as well exist in the same universe as that movie and that’s more than just fine with me. Oh yeah young Todd is also a perv!

 There’s a ton of fun to be had here in this little creepy adventure that feels more like it belongs in the eighties than the nineties to be honest. Some of the humor as well feels a notch or 2 above it’s PG-13 rating, which I guess can be expected judging by the producers sassy reputations. That being said, it’s really got that Amblin “kids in danger” vibe that I love so much, along with the cool creature and special effects that go along with movies of that genre so well. The creature design is also pretty impressive for such a low budget affair and feature some of that classic early nineties face morphing that maybe has an aged so well?

Luckily Stepmonster has its heart mostly in all the right places and pretty much hits all the right beats making it a great double feature aside movies like ‘The Goonies’ or ‘The Gate’.  It also wastes no time, with its lean 86 minute run time, it’s a great party movie that nearly anyone can enjoy, who knows maybe there’s an “R rated cut” of the movie somewhere, I’d love to see the movie get even darker. Nonetheless this is a pretty sweet little family horror flick that’s tailer made for fans of the eighties and early nineties. Stepmonster def deserves a fancy blu ray release with a ton of extras!

 

 

Spider-Man Atari 2600: The Greatest TV Commercial of the 80’s!!!

So today I want everyone to check out the greatest TV commercial of the 1980s: Atari 2600’s Spider-Man’s home video game!! I of course remember this one quite well, back then this shit was cutting edge to the MAX!

Sure it was a good time but what really sold this for me was the wild n’ crazy live action commercial, that featured the Green Goblin in all of his sparky pumpkin bomb glory. Check this out for a little refresher on how to make a totally bad ass TV comnercial! College kids in advertising take NOTE!!

Yeah so what 80s commercial is better? If you got one send it my way. If you’re too young to remember this one and what the actual game looked like then you’re likely in for a shock, things have changed a LOT in video game graphics since ’82! Check out the cutting edge gameplay of the Atari 2600 Spider-man!!

Ok & just for good measure here’s a cool, but not nearly as ambitious commercial for 1994’s Incredible HULK game from Sega Genesis!

This was a ton of fun and I really dig the graphics! I need to revisit this one ASAP!

They reeeeeeally needed a live action Lou Ferrigno HULK appearance to really sell this one! Oh well!!

Comic Cover of the Week: When Wolverine was still Bad Ass!

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been quite a while since I bought any new comic books from Marvel. Every few years I give it an honest shot, but time after time the same thing happens, They only remind me of what I so desperately miss from the eighties. The unique and edgy storytelling that Marvel actually brought to the table. Yeah and I miss when comic books looked and felt like comic books Rather than glossy computer scans on synthetic paper.Today’s cover is yet another example of an artist on top of his game, John Byrne’s cover for ‘Marvel Comics Presents’ #47: Wolverine! His eye for detail was always incredible and this damn cover shows his skill level at its peak! It also shows Wolverine when he was still a mysterious bad ass! There was nothing quite like Wolverine in the 1980s…

Freddy Krueger vs. The Goo Goo Dolls?!!

Hey I gotta admit, I love the old Goo Goo Dolls stuff and what most peeps don’t realize is that they started out as a punk rock band! Yep they had a very different sound in the late 80s and even in the early 90s were essentially an extension of sound to Minneapolis’ pop punk icons The Replacements. What even more people have forgotten is their horror themed music video they pumped out back in 1991 for ‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’!

They indeed appeared on the soundtrack with a song called ‘I’m Awake Now’, this was when they were still brilliantly ripping off Paul Westerberg’s sound and touring with The Replacements on their final tours.

As it turns out The Goo Goo Dolls actually have 3 songs featured on the soundtrack as well as others by Iggy Pop & The Junk Monkeys. 

No wonder why I liked them so much back then they obviously were super down with Fred!

 And then there’s this super awesome fan made Freddy’s Dead video as well, that really highlights the movie’s insanity nice work OCPcommunications (a cool Youtube channel) on putting that together-A sweet little Halloween morsel!

MOVIE MELT: The Best Worst 90s Irish Kung Fu Cinematic Bonanza!

U-Dork teams up again with the Movie Melt podcast to cover 1997’s moronicly bad ass Irish martial arts flick: Fatal Deviation!

Oh Yeah! We lost some serious brain cells here as a 19 year old Van Damme obsessed filmmaker puts himself in the lead role to constantly lose his temper and kick trailer park gangster ass!

Yes another vanity project that would make Tommy Wiseau jealous jam packed with patheticly enjoyable “acting”, mindnumbing ^plot” twists and some impressive indie ass kickin’ kung fu! Take a listen here for a ton of debatably useless cinematic info to get your mind off the stresses of the damn daily grind! Fatal Deviation is a movie that will surely bring a smile to your face if you’re feeling blue!  Check out the new episode right HERE!