BEST of Red Netflix Envelopes: 1993’s Bonkers Super 8 Vampire Flick – ‘Darkness’!
The end of an era will soon be upon us, the red envelope Netflix “dvd by mail” system will finally come to an end later this year. Sigh…..It’s a bit depressing, I had a lot of fun awaiting these mini movie packages for soooo many years. Truth be told I discovered some truly unique lil’ hidden gems over the years as their dvd selection was once a wildly vast treasure trove…so here in honor I’m gonna blog weekly about my all time faves. The first being 1993’s DARKNESS: The Vampire Version-which I just got delivered for a second time. The dvd online is quite rare and fetches a pretty penny on eBay!
So here’s a really unique movie that still remains in their library- ‘Darkness’ is a cool little vampire movie with a cast completely made of what looks like no one over twenty years old. Leif Jonker the director was apparently only 17 when he started conceptually with the production and started filming in 1988, wrapping it up in 1991. He filmed it on super 8 and the whole affair is a mega blood drenched teenage nightmare in the best way possible.
Jonker doesn’t play for laughs here either which is refreshing, it’s all played as straight as it can be with machetes, chainsaws and teen vamps that sadly have no fangs! But alas, it’s a bit of marvel to behold just how ambitious this little splatter flick really is for a gang of ravenous teen punks who set out to shock their audience and for the most part do a bang up job at it all.
Darkness is filled with some legit action, suspense, blood, guts and some great attempts at serious acting. Even though the “vampires” feel more like a rabid gang of cannibals they still show their supernatural side while succumbing to the more traditional vampire trappings. Sunlight and holy water in particular. One sequence where the main characters a being chased through a river by vampires and a bottle of holy water is poured into the water causing some cool carnage as it mixes and destroys them is a real inventive highlight.
It’s a race to the sunrise as a cast of teens are chased across the countryside fleeing from blood thirsty vamps. There’s not more much to the plot honestly, but It’s so damn charming that Jonker went the full distance on it’s production it really doesn’t need to have an intricate story. The finale is well Wirth the wait to, as there’s an over abundance of exploding heads, melting flesh and crudely animatronic decrepit vampire’s to watch meet their gnarly demise. Sadly Jonker didn’t go on to put out much more-the only thing officially listed on Letterboxd is a short film from 1983 called ‘Ghost Carol’ described as a “Super 8 short about a ghost that kills a group of teenagers at Christmastime”. It’s a 22 minute horror film I need to find a way to see!
Supposedly Arrow video will be giving this a fancy blu release sometime in the future? It looked like it was supposed to come out a few years back, the trailer below is from four years ago. If it ever sees the “light of day”(no pun intended) I’ll be picking up a copy for sure. In the meantime if you’ve still got the red Netflix envelope system intact (at least until it ends later this year) put this bloody little nugget in your “queue” and get ready to rock! One of my favorite weird back catalog Netflix dvd finds-especially first time seeing it years back…..
Wild 80s Valentine’s Day Movie Picks: Scott VALENTINE in MY DEMON LOVER!
Ok Valentine’s Day is on the horizon! What are YOU and your sweetie going to watch?! Well I’ve got the cure for all you lovers out there- if you’re looking for a cool little horror rom com that’s flown way under the radar for FAR too long that’s perfect for the occasion look no further! Scott Valentine (the perfect name for this huh?) of ‘Family Ties’ fame (where he appeared as Mallory’s boyfriend ‘Nick’) co-stars in ‘My Demon Lover’ from 1987. A perfect one of a kind romantic horror comedy ripe for Valentine’s Day viewing!
This odd little flick is a real gem, with the hunky Valentine as a troubled homeless street musician named ‘Kaz’ & co-star Michele Little as the cute as a button ‘Denny’. When she meets him one day Denny seems to think she might’ve finally found a normal decent man with no skeletons in his closet. Oh boy, is she in for a surprise! whenever Kaz get’s aroused, which is quite often, he turns into a ferocious demon monster. However there’s much more to the story, Kaz has been cursed since he was a kid but things get worse when after his arrival into Denny’s life woman begin to turn up dead all around the city. It appears like “Demon Kaz” may have been up to some demonic slaughter and now has his sights set directly set on Denny! Sometimes love just ain’t enuff and soon She finds herself in the middle of a bizarre love triangle-with Kaz and his horrifying demonic alter ego!
This sweet little horror comedy is jam packed with 80’s charm and so much more. There’s some really well done practical monster fx on display here for the horror lovers and to make the demon extra special, they hired iconic monster comic book artist extraordinaire Bernie Wrightson to do creature designs for Valentine’s unique looks in the film. He’s one helluva cool looking demon and it’s no wonder that Wrightson played a hand in it’s creation. Bernie also did storyboarding and to me that makes this little weirdo rom com extra special. Plus Valentine’s demonic transformation sequences pretty excellent too and the movie doesn’t skimp on pleasing horror hounds featuring some fairly intense sequences of terror for a PG-13 rated film. It really feels almost like a lost ‘Tales from the Crypt’ movie with just the right amount humor and tongue in cheek charm. There’s also a surprising amount of cool 80s vfx work here in general and it’s finale really ramps things up with an impressive showdown in a spooky inner city castle sporting neon 80s electricity and lightning a’ plenty.
I’ve gotta clarify though, it’s not all horror here. Nope! There’s a heroic dose of cheezy 80s romance complete with a sweet date montage and even a few steamy “sexy” moments as well for all the lovers out there. A big flop at the box office, likely because of it’s bizarre premise, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t aged quite nicely for modern audiences. Though some of it’s plot might make a modern movie normies squirm in their seats, if you’re willing to stick with the characters despite all of their faults you’re likely find the perfectly bizarre date flick. My Demon Lover has some cool plot twists as well and an intriguing mystery running parallel to the romance making it stand out above most 80’s rom coms and horror films.
There’s not just cornball comedy here but instead some real genuine stakes at hand for our cast of likable characters that make My Demon Lover a special treat for Valentine’s Day. I’d say it’s most definitely in desperate need of a bigger cult following today and needs a fancy blu ray upgrade in a serious way. For the moment grab it on dvd, or if you even wanna go more old school get the VHS or rent it online to stream for only $2.99! If you’re in the mood for truly strange but charming romance you really can’t go wrong with My Demon Lover!
Comic Cover of the Week: Alpha Flight & CRYSTAR!
Oh how I miss being an 80’s kid and here’s a comic book that brings back some memories: The Saga of Crystar the Crystal Warrior! It’s been a while since I thought about this title but it was BIG on my radar back in the day, mostly because of the awesome action figures I owned from the Crystar toyline. Here however, is one of my fave covers of the series, beautifully illustrated by Michael Golden, featuring unlikely guest stars: Alpha Flight! One of my all time favorite super-teams of Marvel.
Most of the short lived series, only eleven issues long (this being the final one) had consistently quite impressive art work on their covers. So as a kid all it took was one look to reel me into the Crystal Universe and BEG my mom to let get a few of their truly unique action figures!
Movie Melt Orders a ‘HAMBURGER The Motion Picture’ with Xtra Horsey Sauce?!!
Well today I’ve certainly got something that’s gonna get your taste buds ticklin’! Oh yeah, I went back on the MOVIE MELT podcast and we covered the literally saucy and spicy ‘HAMBURGER The Motion Picture’! Yep this critically panned, box office bomb from 1986 gets it’s day in the sunshine. A second chance for redemption? Jam packed with juicy burgers, greasy ass fries and wild sexy(?), offensive shenanigans that make it a pure product of its time. A sloppy burger of a movie!
That being said, it still managed to offend people even back in the mid eighties and will continue doing so today. But we decided to give it a chance and try not to view it too closely through the lenses of 2023, I mean there has to be something lovable about a movie called Hamburger right?!! CHECK OUT THE EPISODE!
Well don’t waste any time and let’s find out listen to the episode right HERE! Plus soooo much more, food themed ‘Battle of the Bands’ as well as all the BEST movie recommendations of flicks you might wanna be watchin’ especially if you’re by chance a horror obsessed cheezhead from Wisconsin! Oh and I see the FULL version of Hamburger is on YouTube, released only on VHS otherwise! Unfortunately if you notice by the YouTube video it’s too daaaamn raunchy to watch right here! It’s too spicy for U-Dork apparently?!
3 MUST See 80s Halloween GEMS from ‘Tales From The Darkside’!
Ok it’s ON!! Halloween time viewing is in FULL effect here at U-Dork so naturally we’ve gotta get our groove on with some often forgotten gems of Halloween that are an absolute essential watch- Especially if you’re a big fan of eighties horror! One of my favorite shows of that era, the brilliant horror anthology TV series Tales from the Darkside!
This 4 season series contains 3 of my all time favorite Halloween horror stories & they’re so well done that if you put all of them together in a film anthology with a wrap-around plot line it’d make for probably one the best Halloween themed movies of the 1980s! So find these streaming this year or go do yourself a favor and buy the whole collection on dvd. Make sure though to bookmark these 3 this year and watch them all in a row.
First up ‘The Cutty Black Sow’ from Season 4 (1988).
This is easily gotta be one of the most terrifying episodes of of the series & also one of the strangest titles to boot. During Halloween a family is hit with the tragic death of a beloved grandmother. Just before she passes though she relays a cryptic warning to one of the children to beware of ‘the cutty black sow’ on All Hallows Eve, an evil demonic creature that seeks harm to the family and steal souls. This episode is filled with the sense of dread as a thick impending doom oozes through Halloween night air & the children wonder if their great grandmother’s warning is indeed one to be taken seriously. A creepy taut Halloween gem with a horrifying ending!
Second is ‘Halloween Candy’ from Season 2, (1985)
Again one of the best episodes of the series hands down and directed by make up wizard/horror icon Tom Savini! This tale features a grumpy old man who absolutely loathes the Halloween season and more-so those pesky trick or treaters. However this Halloween he gets WAY more than he bargained for when an evil troll comes to his door asking for Halloween candy! This little monster is an absolute delight to behold, It’s clear that Savini has his FX work cut out for him as it’s one of the coolest little troll/goblin like creatures to hit the big or small screen. It’s also an incredibly creepy Halloween themed slice of horror, with a bit of a moral lesson at it’s core. It’s best not to be an asshole on All Hallows Eve especially if you live alone on a dark street & a weird trick-or-treater shows up in the dead of night. Filled with tense atmosphere and crafted by an icon, it’s no wonder this episode is a such TREAT!
Lastly is the very 1st episode of the entire series ‘Trick-or-Treat’ (1984) and in my opinion probably the best of the entire series altogether.
Co-written by George Romero and directed by well known actor Bob Balaban who also directed the 1989 cult horror film ‘Parents’, they give us a truly wicked Halloween adventure! A greedy old scrooge like miser basically runs a small town where everyone seems to be suffering and in debt to him. Every Halloween he opens the doors to his house of horrors where he geefully sits at a control booth, triggering terrifying sounds, traps & puppeteering animatronic creatures rigged to scare small children. This isn’t done to entertain the kids, it’s however a challenge to the smalltown children to search for the debts of their parents. If they find them, their families are forgiven of their monetary burdens. The old codger takes way too much sadistic pleasure in terrorizing the kids which makes this episode truly grim and unforgettable. He loves Halloween but for all the wrong reasons. Luckily in a turn of events he himself is faced with true terror and all bets are off this Halloween! Filled with incredible iconic horror imagery, thrills, heart and some amazing practical effects work this is the absolute standout must see episode of the series! It would also be the perfect finale for a Halloween horror anthology-This year don’t sleep on these episodes they’re essential viewing every damn year for one of the greatest holidays of all time!!
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….
VHS Verdict: Corey Feldman’s Forgotten Survival Gem – Edge of Honor!
Being a big fan of classic Corey Feldman films I was quite surprised to stumble across a movie (I’d never heard of before) from 1991 which in my opinion is a bonafide forgotten Feldman classic! Yes, ‘Edge of Honor’ is a sweet survivalist thriller set in the Pacific Northwest that not only features Corey Feldman but also one of my late 1980’s mega crushes, Meredith Salenger too. Awwww yeah!
The beauty from ‘Dream a Little Dream’ and also the star of another totally forgotten gem of a horror film I love from 1988: ‘The Kiss’ (watch it THIS Halloween season!). Oh and it also features another sort of unfamiliar, yet familiar face: Don Swazye, lesser known brother of superstar Patrick Swayze! Director Michael Spence crafts a special coming of age action thriller that more people need to watch! Here’s Don as a weird backwoods criminal who’s dead set on hunting down a few kids.
Feldman stars as a boy scout, joined by two of his rascally peers exploring the deep wilderness together, they run into problems when they stumble across a cache of weapons. Of course things get dangerous when the criminals come to collect the goods and Corey & co have taken them elsewhere in the forest. Meanwhile, Meredith encounters her own problems with one of the backwoods criminal gang members who terrorizes her family and sends her on her own path of vengeance. Edge of Honor brings the thrills, Don Swazye plays a great unhinged villain and there’s another wild evil leader dude who’s got a retractable blade attached to his wrist on their trail. Gotta love that!
All bets are off here too as things oftentimes get pretty damn dark and dire pushing the stakes high. Boy Scouts of all ages join the fold for the adventure, and many of them won’t survive the night. The danger is real and Corey, Meredith and the scouts have to use their keen survival skills to try to eliminate the enemy and rise above the natural dangers of the dark thick woods of Washington. Luckily this movie has a totally charming cast of characters you can really care about as well as root for and villains who’re actually pretty legitimately terrifying in that cheezy 80s sort of way. It excels as well from its stunning filming locations set in the Pacific Northwest, the perfect backdrop for a wild backwoods adventure/showdown. Rambo eat your heart out!
It’s classic “Amblin kids/teens in danger” style story as well (that’s again quite popular today) and Corey legitimizes it all with his presence alone. The movie does go dark places, the action sequences are top notch as well, having an R rating sets it above your average teen adventure flick from the era. It’s got some real bite!
If you ever wanted to see a gang of Boy Scouts concoct an “Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator” type of plan of action against enemy dickheads, this movie will definitely tickle your fancy. The comraderie on screen is a true delight too behold, my only real gripe with it all was I’d hoped for a little bit more of Meredith Salenger in the film. However when she does show up she’s ready to throw down, proving herself to be no damsel on distress. This one’s definitely a lost gem and more fans of Corey most def need to know about it! He proves again why he’s such a beloved charismatic actor, especially from this particularly special era of movie making. It’s also odd because though the movie was released in 1991 Corey looks to be about only 14-15 years old here making me wonder if this was maybe filmed in 80s? He really sells the part and gives the movie an extra “edge” (no pun intended) as well as his younger scout co-stars.
I had the pleasure of viewing this on a projector, pumped through the stereo with a gang of eighties movie fanatics who’d ALL never seen it before. We teamed it up with 1990’s ‘The Prayer of the Roller Boys’ with Corey Haim, another movie I’ll be touching upon here soon. It was the perfect double feature! Edge of Honor is in desperate need of a special edition blu ray release, it’s got all the right moves & ingredients of a true cult classic and deserves a cult of its own in 2022. Check it out and go back to the basics of a campy but compelling form of storytelling sorely missed in modern day movie making….
‘PREY’ Brings the Goods But Can’t Top ‘PREDATOR 2’!
[OK so it seems everyone is flipping out over the new ‘Predator’ prequel ‘Prey’ just released yesterday on Hulu! Most are claiming it to be the best of the franchise since the original 87′ masterpeice, some even boldly claiming it better than the original. Well I’m here to clear things up because in 1987 Predator was the very first ‘R rated’ movie I ever saw in the theater and I snuck into it at the age of 13!!
At this point I’d pretty much lost any enthusiasm for another Predator movie after 2018’s pathetic sequel ‘The Predator’. However I’m quite happy to report that 2022 has brought us the latest movie in the series, ‘Prey’ and it’s overall a sweet breath of fresh air finally. I’m gonna put it slightly above ‘Predators’ which I thought mixed things up nicely with a unique plot that deviates from the others. Prey goes back to the basics and it essentially works, the time setting of 1719 and the physical setting of the Great Plains combined with its unique Native American tribal characters make for a visually stunning survival adventure. I gotta be honest though, the dialogue of the tribe felt way out of place and took me out of the movie’s supposed era several times, it felt WAY too “modern America”, if like the tribe were actually modern day cosplayers from LA or something. They really could have done better to make them feel a bit more convincing vocally because they looked amazing.
But one of the best things though was indeed the setting, beautiful locations that of course make me wonder how much of what we saw on screen was actually real or created via CGI? I hope it was filmed on actual location. Whatever the case it really worked in this particular situation, at times rivaling the jungles of the original film. Of course the basic plot set up does feel a bit heavily treaded as of late at least, it features a young, strong female lead who’s marginalized by her male tribe members who believe she doesn’t have what it takes to be a true warrior. However she’s a total badass master hunter, fighter, tracker & her male peers just refuse to accept her.
The lead, Naru, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is a force to be reckoned with. However when Dutch finally becomes the hunted it’s clear his macho-man antics are simply not going to save his ass from the Predator. Nope, he’s going to have to massively reevaluate everything he’s learned in order to survive the Predator’s attack. I felt Prey lacked much of that visceral tension, urgency and nail biting suspense of the original. Perhaps because Naru seems more than capable of besting The Predator in hand to hand combat right from the get-go. I personally would’ve prefered a bit more character struggle that let the tension rise to its boiling point. I never really feared for Naru’s life at any point in Prey. It could’ve featured her crafting some inventive new tricks to outwit the Predator but instead felt like it lacked the clever hero’s ingenuity humans normally need to come out on top against an alien force. Instead it relies more on her just facing it straight on with hand-to-hand combat. The action scenes were quite well done but I wish there would’ve been a little more to her having to “Macguyver” her way to victory. Given the script though, Amber Midthunder, who portrays Naru, did a great job as our new hero. She’s cool but maybe just a bit too badass at times for me to truly believe that she’s ever in any actual legit danger. Still the whole vibe, time period, dazzling looking characters and her awesome dog companion made this a real welcome surprise when put neatly all together.
I also had some issues with some of the CGI work done with the animals in the movie. It’s a cool concept to see the Predator go one on one with a bear and a wolf but the way it was executed took me out of the movie again as the CGI sadly just wasn’t convincing enough. I also have somewhat of a problem with the Predator’s new look this time around as it was clear there must have been some sort of wonky CGI going on with it’s normally amazing practical animatronic face. Something that cannot be topped from the first 2 movies at least. Still though it managed to breathe some much needed fresh air into a fully dying franchise and at no point in the movie was I ever bored. So all in all I can admit this is a pretty damn solid entry in the franchise, one of the best installments but I can also say quite firmly that imo it’s NOT the best sequel to Predator.
I recently rewatched ‘Predator 2’ on Blu-Ray and it’s aged like a fine wine. Danny Glover is an amazing charismatic lead and the city setting/concrete jungle created a whole new creepy exciting scenario for the brutal carnage. PREY In my opinion doesn’t come close to besting Predator 2. Perhaps if the it was released in the early nineties it might have felt much more fresh than it does now today but sadly the franchise just doesn’t feel anywhere near as interesting as it used to no matter what scenario you might want to introduce. In many ways the Predator franchise has simply run out a gas.
But if you still find yourself a die hard thirsty fan of the franchise looking for something new, you can’t go wrong with this new installment. It delivers enough of what we loved about the original to make it a worthwhile survival adventure flick! It’s a fairly unique little creature feature that would have been fun if it’d shown up in theaters…or 32 years ago!
Comic Cover of the Week: Walt Simonson’s Savage HULK Rage Rainbow!
Anyone have those oh so fond memories of ‘The HULK’ magazine from the 70s/80s?! They were larger than your average comic cover and had insanely epic covers & also featured a BONUS Moon Knight story in every issue. There was also ‘The Rampaging Hulk’ which was another larger comic version with amazing hand painted colors. THIS issue #23 from 1980 features the icon, Walt Simonson (as seen with his unmistakable signature) with his Banner/Hulk “rainbow of rage”.
An amazing colorful piece of gamma charged work that makes me again wish that Walt had spent more time drawing The Hulk!
Did You Spot the Sinister Emerald Green LAMP in ‘Stranger Things’ 4?!!
Did you see it?! The legendary mysterious emerald green lamp has reared its bizarre head in the latest season of Stranger Things! If you’re in the dark about the odd real world Hollywood conspiracy theories around the lamp, don’t fret, get the full scoop HERE!
OK so now that you’re well versed in the strange & mysterious Hollywood conspiracy theory of the Emerald green lamp, I wanted to just showcase a couple of the screenshots in case you might have not noticed it’s appearance in the show recently. Of course Stranger Things is the perfect series for the elusive lamp to make its re-emergence onto the scene.
If the fantastical rumors are indeed true, we might speculate perhaps the lamp has been brought back into circulation to try to ensure Netflix’s rise back to the top again? They were reportedly suffering a problematic subscriber drop. Maybe the lamp was brought to set to amplify the actors abilities or maybe even subliminally affect the viewers? Whatever the case the only thing that really matters here is that the emerald green lamp has emerged into 2022!