New Vintage 35mm Practical FX Horror Fantasy: Moon Garden!
I’ve been thinking lately while watching lots of movies from the 1980s about how much I really miss the feel of movies using practical effects, shot on real film, at real locations & on real sets. Let’s face it, even if you just love, say, Marvel movies, you’ve got to be able to admit that they can feel a bit soulless, jam packed with an overabundance of CGI, green screening & basically are void of any real life stunt work. I mean they even CG costumes on people. I’ve been thinking about how interesting it’d be if modern filmmakers would set out to make a fantastical film either in the horror, sci-fi, superhero genre and choose to not use ANY technology past 1990. A real bonafide, old school, hands on MOVIE.
Well I’ve probably gotten my wish, or at least something very close to it. The upcoming horror fantasy ‘Moon Garden’ appears to be going for the gold here, first being shot on expired 35mm film, which apparently can create some interesting and unexpected results. A bold move I think, secondly utilizing practical effects like puppetry, animatronics and stop motion animation. The trailer looks pretty incredible!
The premise is simple, a little girl has quite a troubling family life. One evening we find her running away from her arguing parents, she trips, falls down hard and as a result descends into a deep, dark coma. She awakens in a strange new place, more akin to a waking nightmare. She begins a journey through a sinister world where bizarre creatures are lurking around every corner.
The little girl goes on an adventure to carefully make her way back to consciousness armed only with a radio. This brought to mind an underrated Australian film from 1988 called ‘Paperhouse’, ‘The City of Lost Children’ and obviously the more popular ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. All have a surreal, dreamlike quality to them and Moon Garden at first look appears to be in the same realm. This looks like something special and it’s Coming sometime this year- Check this out!
KIDS vs. ALIENS: If “Goosebumps” was Rated R!
I’ve been looking forward to Jason Eisener’s ‘Kid’s vs. Aliens’ since I heard the ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ director was making a feature length film based on his awesome short horror segment in V/H/S/ 2. Granted it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, I remember really digging the concept and execution of it.
The simple premise of this movie is so right up my alley it feels like it almost was tailor made just for me. In a nutshell some kids have a Halloween party that goes off the rails when evil aliens descend upon their lakeside household. The alien visitors for the most part resemble our traditional “Greys”, which I find to be one of the most terrifying creatures of the more modern era. I guess though they’d be more in line with what we saw in 2014’s ‘Extraterrestrial’ though (minus the CGI) than say the brilliantly bizarre 1989 Whitley Strieber biopic ‘Communion’. That being said, you’ve gotta admire how ambitious this movie is with all of its practical effects work and not a shred of CGI really anywhere to be found. Add in a lean run time of around 75 minutes (68 of them actual movie time) and you’ve got a nice, fast paced horror adventure at the ready.
Plus the main kid protagonists of this movie are also quite charming for the most part. None of them get bogged down in modern online politics or social commentary, they’re just kids in danger with wildly filthy mouths being….kids. In essence they’re a fairly solid attempt of mixing the kids in Stand By Me with The Goonies. I’d say for the first 3rd of the movie I was pretty sure this might end up being one of my favorite horror films of 2023. It’s got a lot of heart at its core as well (maybe trying a bit too hard at times) and characters who you can for the most part get behind on this weird little ride.
However with ALL of that going for it, still there’s something here that in my opinion just didn’t quite click the way it should’ve. That’s not to say this isn’t a fun little movie, becuz it is. It just misses the mark at being a modern horror classic, maybe because they’re trying just a bit too hard at mostly everything they attempt to sell the audience. It’s same problems I had at times with 2013’s ‘Knights of Badassdom’ a movie which I do admittedly still enjoy quite a bit.
I guess I would say what it does succeed at being is a pretty excellent R-rated “Goosebumps” movie. In many ways, even the way it’s filmed looks a little bit like a vintage Goosebumps episode for better or for worse at times. I guess my problem was maybe my personal expectations weren’t quite met in the way I’d initially hoped for. Though this movie in many ways borrows heavily from the likes of classics like Fire In The Sky, it really lacks the intensity, atmosphere and mystery that could have pulled from it, even if just a little bit of it. The aliens In my opinion are shown way too much in plain sight. All of the things that make grey aliens so terrifying is completely absent here, they run around roaring like enraged grizzly bears.
The aliens also look a bit too much like men in rubber suits, which I usually don’t mind, but easily hiding them a bit more might have benefited this greatly. More of the monsters isn’t always better. Overall though I do appreciate the almost entirely practical nature of this film’s special effects. It’s refreshing to see filmmakers getting a bit more old school these days!
Though the characters for the most part are fun wonky children, they do try a bit too hard to sell us that on all levels. Much of the character development feels a bit forced. The kids and their antagonist teen enemies end up being somewhat over the top caricatures and don’t always feel like “real’ people. The kids are NERDS, the older teen sister-hero is a NERD and the teens are really reeeeally meanies who don’t like NERDS. By the middle of the movie I found myself wishing their personas had been toned down. They started to feel like they were written by the “modern day Kevin Smith” or something. Ok, well maybe not that bad. Instead of growing to like them more as the movie progressed, I found myself becoming slightly annoyed with everyone’s behaviors and actions even if they were good in nature.
Looking at it now though with zero expectations, it’s still one I do plan on revisiting again. It’s got plenty of action and really does try to feature a cast of heartwarming lead characters and pathetically almost unbelievably evil teen villains to you are basically told to hate anytime they appear. It also takes place on Halloween and makes it prime viewing for the holiday. There’s a lot of good here so don’t get me wrong, I just feel like someone needs to put together an amazing home invasion Grey alien horror film and do it the right way. In the perfect world I was hoping this would be a mix of 1989’s Communion and maybe like Evil Dead. (here’s a still photo from Communion).
Instead it leans hard into the campy territory and doesn’t skimp on some impressive Gore FX either. Perhaps it’s really my own expectations that took this down a few pegs for myself, with all the crappy stuff out there streaming I do think there’s a lot of fun to be had. Check this one out, it’s worth a rental, but don’t go in expecting it to be quite as cool as his segment was in V/H/S 2. Still thank you Jason for adding an entertaining alien invasion flick to the cinematic horror library!
‘Evil Dead Rise’ Trailer Feels Like a ‘Conjuring’ Spin-off?!
There’s a lot of hype lately around the return of the “EVIL DEAD” franchise with Evil Dead Rise and personally I’m just not feeling the heat so far. Sure it’s kinda neat to see the classic Necronomicon book again onscreen, but at least in the trailer, that’s about the only thing that’s feeling “Evil Dead” about the whole affair in my opinion.
When I saw the poster, the first thing that came to mind wasn’t the classic franchise, it really looked eerily similar to the 2022 horror film “SMILE’. For a moment I thought it WAS perhaps a SMILE spin-off being announced.
In fact if you took out the Necronomicon from the trailer I’d have honestly thought this film was a James Wan produced spin-off sequel set in his “Conjuring” universe. Or like a sequel to ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ or something. And don’t get me wrong, I like James Wan’s movies but Evil Dead Rises doesn’t do anything at least in the trailer to separate itself from the current horror trends-and why would it? It looks like another Blumhouse film (maybe it is?) and to me seems almost like a pointless franchise reboot that’ll probably be forgotten fast in a sea of 2023 similarly stylized corporate Hollywood horror films. Where’s the flavor of the original films?
I often wonder if Hollywood is even capable of making a movie that looks and feels like something like the original Evil Dead films? Everything looks too slick, I think someone needs to step in and dial things back, legions of fans would truly flip out if they could replicate the real atmosphere of the the originals, this ain’t it. That’s not to say I won’t eat my words, perhaps Evil Dead Rise will be the BEST of all Evil Dead films?
I think fans deserve something different if you’re really going for an honest attempt to revitalize Evil Dead. I’d rather have a movie sequel to ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ Season 3 personally. I’d much rather have a sequel in tone to Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness, that feels really like part of the old franchise. It could even be more in tone with the 1981 OG film, set in the 80s with more of a classic look?
Or follow Pablo and Kelly from Ash vs Evil Dead if we really want to steer clear of Ash. I think there’s likely a much better way to transition Evil Dead back onto the big screen and so far this seems like a mis-step.
I’m going to see it and I hope I’m proved wrong but it all just looks and feels too familiar to the modern horror films of the last few years. I like modern horror, but if you’re going to try to bust out a classic franchise again you’ve got to capture what made it so special to begin with…
MOVIE MELT Podcast & The Y2K Mayhem of 1999’s ‘Y2K’?!!
Yes true believers it is NO joke-we survived Y2K!! The year was 1999 and tensions were through the freakin’ roof, all the rumored disastrous computer malfunctions combining with insane natural disasters, the world was on course for certain doom!! Some of you out there might be too young to remember this fateful evening and how we persevered the most dire circumstances. Well if you need a refresher here it is becuz I went back on the Movie Melt Podcast and we covered Y2K from 1999 starring Louis Gossett Jr, Malcom McDowell and some other annoying dude who plays an idiotic computer hacker!!
This later, nearly forgotten flick from PM Entertainment was in serious need of attention, and of course everyone needs a refresher on just what exactly went down on New Yearz Eve Y2K!
We also talk about the most badass films of 2022 and do another battle of the bands Y2K edition! Check this refresher out and get educated on what really went down in 1999!! LISTEN HERE! Check out the trailer too for this epic showdown/real life history lesson!
1983’s ‘GET CRAZY’: The Number One News Years PARTY Flick!
The big question this year: what the hell are you gonna watch tonight on New Year’s Eve?! If you’re like me and sticking around the house tonight (deciding to steer clear of crazy bars and wild crowded parties) then you’re likely gonna be looking for the best damn New Year’s Eve party flicks out there!
We’re looking no further because 1983’s GET CRAZY is about as good as this shit comes! Exactly 40 years ago the slapstick hormone infused cocktail of musical genius is one party worth attending from the seat of your couch. Best served for a thirsty crowd of cinemaniacs! From the director of ‘Rock n’ Roll High School’, it’s game on for New Year’s Eve when a promoter and his wild crew of one of the coolest underground theaters in town plans the ultimate NYE rock concert.
The only problem is an evil corporation lead by Ed Begly Jr is ready to destroy the entire building with a bomb & a rotten plan to gentrify the neighborhood. Don’t fret though because ‘Get Crazy’ provides some seriously wacky gags but it’s not all “Airplane” or “Naked Gun” slapstick here, there’s some real heart to the story and along the way you can expect to get your socks seriously rocked off in the process. Director Allan Arkush also adds a sweet pedigree of punk rock here to please anyone who’s a die hard of the genre.
With an incredible soundtrack and some fictitious bands who crank out some of the coolest 80s songs you’ve never heard in one of the wildest concert settings ever put to film- There’s just simply no way to be bored here with Get Crazy. If you have the option tonight to run this through your stereo system and crank it, definitely do so, that’s the best way to watch this one-loud and proud!
Starring familiar faces like Lee Ving, Malcom McDowell, Lou Reed, Bill Henderson, the early 80s never felt so vibrant and colorfully drug addled. Everything in this movie looks wonderful. It’s filled with incredible colorful set pieces and really captures a slice of the wild life during the holiday season in 1982. There’s a great blu ray edition out of this movie by Kino Lorber and you can watch it FREE on Youtube.
Easily one of my favorite movies I’ve watched for the 1st time in 2022. I highly recommend if you’re staying home tonight & love cinema to check this out for sure and crank it up! Happy New Years!
INDIANA JONES 5 Trailer’s “Crystal Skull” Style VFX are TROUBLSOME!
So a few days ago we finally got the long awaited ‘Indiana Jones 5’ teaser trailer! Yes the final installment ‘The Dial of Destiny’ will indeed arrive in June of 2023. After the backlash of ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ from 2008 it’s been promised that we’d get a proper legit style Indiana Jones movie finally. Though that promise seems quite thin as the original creative team of Spielberg and George Lucas is nowhere to be seen this time around. It seems if I’m being honest with myself that Disney is now again going to give us, like they did with Star Wars, more of their bloated big budget fan fiction!
I really don’t wanna be so negative here when it comes to sequels these days of beloved eighties franchises, but after watching this trailer a few times I’m quite worried. As I browsed YouTube for fan reactions it seems that I’m surely in the minority here. Almost everyone who viewed it seems to think that this looks like legit old school Indy. It makes me wonder if we were watching the same damn trailer? Now I’m not gonna say that it wasn’t a blast seeing and hearing Sallah again, of course I do wonder just how much he’s actually in the movie and if they’ve decided to not feature Ke Huy Kwan, aka “Shortround” then in my opinion this movie’s already made a major misstep for that alone. I’m willing to not jump to any major conclusions so far as it’s just a 2 minute trailer right?!
What I can say without a shadow of a doubt though is that the visual FX work here is borrowing heavily from the “Crystal Skull” playbook. Over the years I’ve grown to warm up to that movie (though deep down in my heart I know how truly disappointing it was), though it took some time and leniency, I was certain that director James Mangold was going to really do it justice giving us something that felt grounded in the reality of the original’s practical effects, locales and real sets. I’ve always felt that last installment really suffered from the clear overuse of wretched CGI and in my opinion it has no place anywhere near an Indiana Jones film. So I’m quite surprised that’s this new trailer relies so heavily on sub par computer graphics and obvious green screening.
What the hell are they thinking over there at Disney? The only real criticism I’ve seen are from YouTubers are from the legions of whom are obsessed with reporting and whining about “woke” elements being in Disney properties. They seem to be very triggered about Indiana Jones having a female sidekick here. These people in my opinion are just as irritating as the ones on the opposite side of the spectrum. None of them seem to have any real criticism about what’s being displayed so far on screen visually. So many of these scenes in the trailer look out of place, like him running on top of a train, riding on a damn horse and even the underwater skull and eels all look pretty cheaply rendered by digital technology. And those are only a few instances of the many questionable moments in the trailer. Even him jumping from one car to another looks like some sort of bad blurry CGI. What gives here? Is Hollywood completely uncapable of doing anything on set anymore?
The final Indiana Jones movie jam packed with sub par CGI again after all of the complaining about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Who the hell is greenlighting all of this shit? I often wonder is this just a cost issue? A corporation that has billions of dollars can’t afford to film on real sets with real actors with real practical effects and stunt work? I’ve got a real bad feeling about this one…and we haven’t even gotten to the story yet.
I’m also at this point getting a little tired of the whole de-aging deep fake techniques that apparently are all the rage still. I would have much rather preferred Anthony Ingruber appearing in the role of a young Indiana Jones than some computer generated Harrison Ford mumbo jumbo face faking.
I would’ve surely preferred River Phoenix to have appeared as the younger version again if he’d still been alive. I’m really hoping this trend doesn’t replace the real actors portraying younger versions of a character. I find all of this very troubling and at the very least was hoping for one last hurrah in the Indiana Jones universe that felt somewhat on the same level as the original trilogy. But I do understand how misguided Hollywood really is and for me to really expect anything different in this day and age is just a pipe dream, that keeps reaccurring over and over.. I’m really hoping that I’m proven wrong and I’m going to go in to this final installment as indifferent and neutral as possible, but hey if I’m gonna be honest so far this looks like a possible flamin’ turd in the making!
‘MANDY’ Director Finally Returns With More WTF Horror in ‘THE VIEWING’!
I’ve been waiting quite some time for Panos Cosmatos to follow up his dark epic adventure film ‘Mandy’ & to my surprise he did so late October. I guess I’m late to the damn party on it as I really don’t watch much streaming content on Netflix anymore, for me personally most of the stuff on the platform just doesn’t cut it. Most of it feels like factory filmmaking, but I was pleasantly surprised to check out Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ there and come to find an episode of his new horror anthology called ‘The Viewing’ fresh from the director of ‘Mandy’ and ‘Black Rainbow’!!
I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure just what to expect but this bizarre episode packs a punch with its finale and along the way manages to blend in some great humor and the cast of interesting characters to keep this mysterious story moving quickly with intrigue. It’s an interesting plot too, taking place in 1979, with icon Peter Weller (Robocop) playing an elusive billionaire who invites several TV personalities to his bizarre mansion for a “viewing” of something seemingly otherworldly.
Cosmatos constructs a genuinely humorous character study as the drug fueled gathering slowly transitions into utter chaos by its end. I really enjoyed this episode, it definitely had the signature “Panos” feel to it, at least visually and sonically. It really has that same dreamlike quality as his previous two features and the score again here with The Viewing is something I’d definitely listen too in my spare time.
It’s rich atmosphere is full of color and visually abstract in all the best weirdest ways possible. I was a bit surprised with the humorous tone presented, which sticks around right till the very end, leading me to be extra curious about what his next film ‘Nekrokosm’ might bring to the table. Take note though, it’s not all fun and games, when the shit finally does hit the fan (which does sorta take a little longer than I’d hoped) we’re treated to some legit WTF moments of monster mayhem and headscratching horror in the way Panos most definitely excels at.
The FX here too are quite impressive, as I’d hoped and kinda expected them to be. It’s clear that The Viewing rises above the rest of the flock as a all too welcome walk into the mind of one of the genres most creative visionaries. I can WAIT to feast my eyes and mind upon his next full feature film…if you dug ‘Mandy’ go check this shit out!
The Russo Brothers Next MCU Project: ‘THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS’?!
I have been pushing here on Universal Dork for quite some time to get an MCU movie or series about the mighty Great Lakes Avengers! It’s bummed me out cuz its seemed that over the years no one gave a damn about my bold ideas for this these “D-List” classic Marvel characters. But maybe just MAYBE, a couple people were indeed listening?!
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Russo Brothers, who crafted some of the best films in the MCU (The Winter Soldier/Infinity War/Endgame), might have just ran across this little p-brain blog, or at the very least, you know what they say, great minds think alike! In case you’ve never heard of the Great Lakes Avengers they first made their appearance in the late 1980s in the West Coast Avengers #46. A unique comedic gang of superheroes from the “cheese state” of Wisconsin. They’ve had some truly ridiculous adventures over the years and have even shared the stage with Deadpool himself. I’ve always maintained that this crew of miscreants would make for a great cinematic comedy especially the their origin story, portrayed in perfection in the Dan Slott series ‘GLA: Misassembled’ from 2005. It’d surely make for a great rough draft for a for a live action series.
They were recently asked about someday returning soon to the MCU and had this to say: The Russo Brothers answered: “Whatever we say, we’re going to get asked about it 100 times over the next week. So let’s pick the Great Lakes Avengers. Or the story of Cheese-Man!”
So a lot of people might think this doesn’t mean a damn thing, mentioning it now, what’s the fuss right? They were just jokin’ around? Well the funny thing is this isn’t the first time they name dropped The GLA, they also brought up the d-list super team in 2018 as well. Check it out.
They clearly know the Great Lakes Avengers would make for one helluva funny and unique comic book streaming series. The time is definitely now to bring this show to life as at the current moment. The Avengers have ceased to exist in MCU in any real capacity, leading the perfect moment for this band of Midwest America’s Misfits to take up the mantle in a hilarious way. I think it would be a riot to see this gang of superheroes in their original costumes too, leave aside all of the fancy kevlar and give them their ridiculous spandex look in real life.
Also of course this is the place to introduce the wildly popular Squirrel Girl! It’s also been speculated that GLA character ‘Mr. Immortal’ may have already made an appearance in the She-Hulk trailer, making thus even MORE of a possibility!
The Russo Bros should make this happen, it’s ripe now to be an easy hit series with a truly bizarre, charming, comedic origin story of Marvel Comic’s ULTIMATE underdogs! Please bring on the weirdest wildest superhero adventure yet, THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS must ASSEMBLE!! Share this post or idea everywhere!