Tagged: 80’s special effects

Idiotic Christmas Horror: Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker!

Ho ho ho! The Christmas spirit is in the air again and it’s once again time to check out some crazy holiday movies! Last night I watched a pretty ridiculous one to say the least, the final installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, part 5: ‘The Toymaker’ from 1991! Now if you’re in the mood for some totally idiotic yet entertaining holiday movie mayhem I’d say this here is definitely worth a watch this year. As with the 4th installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, this one has got absolutely zilch to do with the original, clearly a sequel only in name and I’m quite fine with that becuz really now, how many damn movies do we need with a killer in a Santa Suit?

So “The Toymaker” goes a way different direction with a totally absurd plot directed by Martin Kitrosser & co-written by horror icon Brian Yuzna (Night of the Living Dead 3, Bride of Re-Aminator, Society), which finds a little kid whose family is “terrorized” by killer presents..ahem “toys” made by a weird ass old dude toymaker named ‘Joe Petto’ played by the one and only Mickey Rooney! How the hell they got Rooney to do this flick is a bit of a wonder. First he’s clearly got the star power here, though in 1991 he must have been in dire need of acting work and even more bizarre is that Rooney wrote a protest letter against the first Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).  Claiming the “scum” who made it should be “run out of town” for having fucked with the sacred holiday. Oddly then six years later he joined the damn franchise!! He must have just loved the damn script so much he couldn’t resist! The world may never know..

Anyway Rooney runs his own creepy toy shop in town called “Petto’s” which is probably the WORST name you could pick for a toy store, oh and he’s got his socially awkward son working the shop too and yeah…..his name is ‘Pino’. I recognized this kid actor Brian Bremer from Pumpkinhead as well as starring in Tobe Hooper’s Spontaneous Combustion & Yuzna’s ‘Society’. So are you catching on here to the brilliance of this story here yet? Well Joe Petto makes toys that kill people and his weirdo son who lives in the dank cellar helps him out and also gets yelled at a lot by Petto after he’s been drinkin’ on the job during shop hours.

The meat of the plot here revolves around Joe Petto’s evil toy’s stalking a single mom and her child for some “unknown reason” right around Christmas. We get some pretty ridiculous bullshit going on here when the toys viciously attack and we even got Screamin’ Mad George (Predator, Nightmare on Elm St. 3) doing his best with the budget on special fx duty. Killer toy army men, toy centipede larva, heck even some killer roller blades! The movie’s filled with crazy ass plot twists too, the kind that are so stupid you can’t help but find idioticlly endearing.

The Toymaker goes for the jugular with a “shocking” finale too, that kinda just has to be seen to be believed as it’s about as stupidly awesome things come. There’s plenty to enjoy here for the holiday as the story somehow operates nicely within the Christmas season. It’s likely the second best installment of the ‘Silent Night’ franchise and the perfect holiday party flick as it’s got a lean, just over 80 minute run time that moves at a nice brisk pace. If you want a full on holiday party flick this one’s got the goods, just make sure you’ve got your sense of humor intact, plenty of weed and boozy egg nog there to wash this one down with…you’ll be needing it!

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VHS Verdict 1987: ‘The Caller’ & The Art of the Twist Ending!

I checked out a perplexing VHS tape last night, ‘The Caller’, a “thriller” from 1987 starring Malcolm Mcdowell & Madolyn Smith. Now even though I’d been told this flick had a twist ending and even on the cover it boasts “a surprise ending”, somehow I’d just had no way of predicting what was gonna go down no matter how hard I tried during. That’s a pretty difficult task especially in this day and age. M Night Shyamalan eat your heart out. Warning, this one’s got a ton o’ dialogue and then some, oh boy and then some. At it’s beginning something is most definitely off with our two main characters and immediately my mind began racing to try to figure out just what the hell it could be. Basically it’s just two actors the entire movie and is a simple story about a woman who resides in an cabin out in the woods, who one dark night has a strange creeping man, Mcdowell, appear at her front door, claiming his car broke down and needs to use a phone.

From that point on both of these characters act in truly bizarre ways, they talk to each other about how they’d get away with murdering one another and at times actually get quite physical while doing so. There’s a ton of tense talk here and overacting a ‘plenty to behold from them both. The premise though startlingly simplistic and a bit absurd does a decent enough job of keeping you curious about where the fuck this one’s going to end up. It’s not the average “stalker” movie that the cover makes it out to be either, think more of an extended episode of The Twilight Zone instead. I’ve gotta admit the interesting thing about this one is that about an hour in I was getting a bit frustrated and had some serious doubts that things were going anywhere remotely interesting. There’s a lot of weird motive flip flopping amongst the two leads & at one point it almost seemed as if it might sharply go the erotic thriller route.

The odd banter at times can become quite tiresome but as the movie ended, I appreciated it and actually consider the lengthy chatty-ness of it all to make the finale that much more effective. Being a bit of a sleuth at the movie’s beginning I’d noticed a couple things that reinforced my will to stick it through to the end the first being the legendary horror b-movie bandit Charles Band was an executive producer, Richard Band did the music and also fx wizard John Carl Beuchler who’s know for his work on Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood (which is one of my faves), Nightmare on Elm St. 4: The Dream Master & Re-Animator was behind the fx work. These three things should give you enough of a reason to check this one out, if in fact the names mean anything to you. Definitely a hidden gem, that most definitely worth one solid viewing!! It also may deserve a quick re-watch to see if there perhaps are some clues amidst all the dialogue that may have really foreshadowed the movies bizarre ending. A neat-o 80’s low budget mind bender~

I couldn’t find a trailer for this one but here’s the whole damn movie if you’re feeling frisky!

 

 

VHS Verdict 1991: ‘Cast A Deadly Spell’ – Forgotten Monster Noir!

Up until last night I’d never even heard of the HBO movie ‘Cast A Deadly Spell’ from 1991, but I was lucky enough to run across a VHS copy of this one recently. It immediately peaked my interest, the box had some quotes on it comparing it to ‘Ghostbusters’ & ‘Roger Rabbit’ with monsters instead of cartoons. Sign me up already! The movies a ton of fun and filled with some sweet totally 80’s style fx work as well as an equally impressive cast. It really perplexed me as to why I’d never even heard of this one as it’s something I would have totally dug back in ’91. Hey I think it’s better sometimes seeing a lost gem from way back in the modern era anyway…it takes me way back…

Anyway this cool movie stars Fred Ward as H.P. Lovecraft (seriously, how have I never heard of this movie?!) a private investigator, who hired to track down the legendary book, the Necronomicon. Lovecraft is one of the only people who’ve chosen not to use magic of any kind making his little quest all that much more difficult to accomplish. It’s a full on 40’s noir, placed in a time when witchcraft has been fully exposed to the general populace and things that go bump in the night are far more common than ever before. We’ve got a  bunch of neat monsters, werewolves & zombies along the way as well as an awesome scene with some pesky gremlins by way of rad old school puppetry. Hell, we even get a random unicorn that enters the equation into this unique little horror noir comedy.

There’s some cool scenes as well that up the movie’s horror factor with some impressive unexpected gore. There’s weird super powered gangsters, voodoo priests and plenty of that classic style animatronic monster mayhem to behold here. It’s also got it’s fair share of comedy though too and it in ways really is a bit like a horror version of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. Director Martin Campell went on to direct more recent stuff like the god awful ‘Green Lantern’ movie and ‘Casino Royale’. Along side Ward is also Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown & David Warner which is a pretty star studded cast for just how relatively forgotten this movie is today.

The movie spawned a sequel as well in 1994 but I haven’t heard to many good things about that one. There’s never been an official DVD release of the movie, but it certainly deserves one. The movie is available to watch on Amazon and a few other online platforms, so if you’re looking for a little lost nostalgia this one’s a cool little forgotten gem of a movie… 

Stranger Things: Please Use Practical Monster Effects!!

Stranger Things Season 2 finally dropped this Halloween and damn was it good! So much fun and such a total and complete trip down memory lane. The show plays off of the wonder filled nostalgia of the 80’s and almost perfectly captures the magic of movies like Poltergeist, E.T., The Goonies and The Lost Boys to name a few.

This show couldn’t possibly get any better at delivering the ever so sweet 1980’s cinematic magic could it?  Well I say it could do the job way better, after watching the second season it was apparent once again that this show could really up it’s game by ditching a lot of the shoddy CGI effects it uses for it’s monsters.

 

 

The show sure looks and feels like an 80’s Amblin flick, that is until they introduce us to the other worldly monsters. Then it quickly becomes very apparent it’s 2017 and that some questionable CG has entered my 80’s fantasy! So for season 3 of the show, I think they could do better, to really recreate that magic of old, it’s time for the show to incorporate practical creature effects! Puppetry, makeup, animatronics!

 

 

Imagine the creatures on the show if they had the feel of E.T., The Gremlins or Pumpkinhead?! The CG takes me out of the moment, the realism fades quickly and I imagine how much more effective the experience would really be if it just gave this tweak to say 75% of it’s fx work. That alone would give us the ultimate nostalgia trip, let’s face it, fans would go nuts for this and especially those who are real fans of the genre the show’s replicating. So help me spread this idea #strangerthings80sfx & Let’s demand that 80’s special effects magic be utilized for the next season!!!  They’ve come a long way with practical fx work and blending with CG or using CG to eliminate wires & puppeteers would take the show to a whole next level of 1980’s love….