Tagged: 90’s

VHS Verdict: 1998’s ‘WATCHERS REBORN’ is Better Than ‘THE LAST JEDI’!

Hello everyone out there, I hope you’re all doing your best during these unprecedented times, staying inside and staying SAFE! Being essentially trapped indoors leaves plenty of time to watch movies, well the other evening I’d found myself thinking about the colossal failure of the Disney Star Wars “Sequel Trilogy”. If only they’d have given us fans what they’d always dreamed of, a cohesive compelling story that gave us a truly unforgettable send off to the characters we’d been waiting 30 plus years to see again AND brand new fleshed out characters who we could continue to follow on cosmic adventures for years to come. In many hardcore fan’s opinions we got neither and I was thinking of how awesome it would have been to watch this “sequel trilogy” over and over if it’d had been done with care and not flat out wasted classic characters like Leia & Luke Skywalker.

Mark Hamill in particular really got the short end of the stick and many fans of arguably the most iconic pop culture character, Luke Skywalker left ‘Episode 8’ feeling incredibly underwhelmed. Well many fans might appreciate an alternative to ‘The Last Jedi’ in the form of a largely forgotten sequel to ‘The Watchers’ (the totally 80’s super fun Corey Haim Creature Feature), ‘Watchers Reborn’. The star of the whole show? You guessed it Mark Hamill! Technically the 4th film in The Watchers franchise, it’s the only sequel that’s really worth tracking down and technically more of a sequel to the first movie anyway. Keep in mind this one’s a fully b-level monster flick, it’s cheezy, it’s low budget but it’s got a lot more heart than The Last Jedi! You’ll get a great does of 90’s Hamill front and center in a pretty damn fun little horror thriller. Another plus is that it’s directed by John Carl Buechler (RIP), practical fx wizard behind New World Pictures, who’s done some stellar work right up until his death in 2019 (Hatchet, Nightmare on Elm St 4, Troll, Friday the 13th part 7) .

In this sci-fi charged tale, the US government has lost control of the “Outsider”, an experimental human animal hybrid forced into becoming a savage killing machine. The monster busts loose onto the city streets and eventually into a local zoo where it begins it spree of murder. The Government desperately seeking to cover up the break out, sends agents from the NSA to begin eliminating anyone involved with the project. This inspires Dr. Grace Hudson, who’d worked closely with the creature to run for her life. Enter down on his luck Jack Murphy (Mark Hamill), a skilled detective whose partner was just murdered by the Outsider. While investigating the murder Jack runs into a stray golden retriever with human intelligence named Einstein, who escaped from the same governmental agency responsible for the Outsider. He reluctantly takes the dog in and eventually decides to help Dr. Hudson escape from the clutches of deadly assassins. Now on the run, the trio must rely on the few resources they have left evading the clutches of of the vicious monster that is also trailing them.
 
 
‘Watchers Reborn’ is worth the price of admission alone for Mark Hamill, who’s a ton of fun in this one. There’s plenty of heartfelt and comedic moments here to enjoy, especially his relationship with the uber intelligent dog being a pretty sweet highlight. There’s certainly more charming moments for Mark here than in The Last Jedi and to be honest, despite it’s small budget is a lot more fun to watch. It also makes me sad Lucas didn’t utilize Hamill in the 90’s for a Star Wars adventure, he would have truly shined once again as the character. Instead much of Hamill’s post Star Wars career had been reduced to largely forgotten B-movies, this being one of the best in my opinion.
 
 
There’s also some pretty fun gory monster moments here, action and a pretty well done werewolf-y creature thanks to Buechler’s fx skills. A bit of a road movie, buddy comedy and action thriller rolled into one, ‘Watchers Reborn’ is a truly delightful piece of 90’s schlock. I’d buy this one on Blu-ray along with 1988 original for sure if it ever gets the proper treatment. If you’ve felt a little depressed about Luke Skywalker recently I suggest checking this one out, grab a few drinks and some pizza because this one is a cheezy slice of cinema from much simpler times…..
 

 
 

 

VHS Verdict: ‘Saga of the Phoenix’ Brings the Monsters & 80’s Mayhem!!

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.  

VHS Verdict: 1991’s ‘Children of the Night’ is a Forgotten Horror Gem!

Been on a VHS binge lately watching tons of old forgotten movies, some are of course are steamin’ turds but every now and again you come across something that’s a total delight! I ran across a copy of 1991’s ‘Children of the Night’ and was fairly certain it was again going to be another crapper, however this one proved to be a totally sweet romp of a horror comedy. I’m a giganto fan of 80’s horror and this one while being from 91′ has still got that great old school vibe and charm coming off the tail end of 1980’s. In my opinion a lot of flicks up through 1994 more or less continue to keep that feel in tact. That being said, I had a good feeling about this one when I’d seen that Peter Deluise of ’21 Jump Street” fame was billed as the star, I watched the shit out of that show as a kid in the 80’s and he was one of my favorite characters from the series for sure. Then I noticed Karen Black also starred and then that the director was Tony Randel of ‘Hellraiser 2’ & ‘Ticks’ fame. 

Well I’m pleased to say from the start of this one (which I found out later was actually a Fangoria production) it fully delivered the goods and then some in all the ways I’d hoped for. Playing much more like a horror comedy we get a sweet little story of of teenage girl played by Ami Dolenz (also in ‘Ticks’ from 1993) who lives in a small town and accidentally awakens a wicked vampire lord while swimming in an underground pond below a church. Yeah that’s what she and her buddy do for fun…..well schoolteacher played by Peter Deluise later comes to town to see what’s up and ends up in the thick of a vampire attack where he teams up with the teen girl and a local town drunken preacher played by vinatge SNL alumni Garrett Morris. I gotta say when he arrived it was the icing on the damn cake, he’s known also as “Chocolate Chip Charlie” from the horror classic ‘The Stuff’ from 1985 and in this movie he drives around town at night drinkin’ mad amounts of whiskey in a crazy van that’s got a giant glowing cross spear mounted on the front it it to impale vampires with. By that point in the movie I was already in, but this solidified the deal for sure.

At the end of the ‘Children of the Night’ day plays a bit like ‘Evil Dead 2’ none of it can be taken too seriously but it’s not a full on spoof either. There’s a lot of cool FX work going on here as well as cool spooky inventive sets and locations. It’s a neat little horror adventure that’s not afraid to add some heart to it either. A lot like gory teen horror comedy that’d fit quite nicely along with 80’s cult classics like ‘Vamp’, ‘Critters’ or the highly underrated ‘Night Life’ from 1989. There’s also some cool ass action sequences and you also get some Karen Black super weird vampire lung moments to ponder upon! If you’re looking for some super fun lost nostalgia to watch with a gang of movie maniacs ‘Children of the Night’ is a prime choice in my opinion!

Comic Cover of the Week: Vintage VENOM!

Since the second trailer for the Venom movie dropped today, which actually looks pretty damn cool in my opinion, I figured I’d post a cool old skool comic cover of everyone’s fave wicked symbiote way back from 1994. It’s a rad cover and also features Morbius, The Living Vampire teaming up with Venom to kick the weirdo Demogoblin’s ass. Bob Mcleod did the art for this one and as far as old Venom covers it’s one of the best. I’m guessing there’s a big possibility as well that in the movies we may see Jared Leto who’s going to portray Morbius eventually meet up with Venom. Whoopee!

 

P.S. here’s a cool fan made Venom Trailer from the 90’s cartoon to go along with my totally 90’s Venom post!! CHECK IT!

VHS Verdict: 90’s Remote Control Radio Shack Robots Gone Psycho in ‘EVOLVER’ !

Hey there I’m back for a whole NEW year in 2018!! Yeeehaw!! I’m starting off with a little review from a recent batch of VHS I bought while thrifting around Portland, Oregon. In my huge stack of weird movies I’ve been burning through, was a movie called ‘Evolver’ from 1994. From the cover of this one I was more than certain this was gonna be some total bull shit show that I’d likely not be able to make it all the way through. HOWEVER I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually dug Evolver!

Let me be clear though, this movie is totally stupid, but in the best way imaginable. It starts off with some shitty virtual reality video game being played in an arcade by our lead character, hot shot video gamer Kyle played by “teen heart throb” Ethan Embry. He’s basically on stage in the arcade and of course there’s a big crowd there cheering him on, becuz in the 90’s that’s what people did dammit! Anyway he’s a computer hacker as well and uses his skills to make himself the prize winner of a new real life robot called “Evolver” a prototype game system that plays laser tag with you in your own house. Evolver kinda looks like the baby of the robots in “Chopping Mall” as he’s only about 3 feet tall, oh yeah and he’s voiced by none other than William. H Macy! At first Evolver is easy to beat but at each new level of household combat that he’s defeated he gets better and even transforms a bit so he can be “more menacing” to his foes.  Continue reading

Revisiting: Demon Knight, Dead Calm, Chatting With Billy Zane & V-Force!

I recently decided to watch some classic Billy Zane movies, why you ask? Well a little while ago he filmed a scene for a new movie in my store Hollywood Babylon in Portland, Oregon. Yeah, I was pretty damn excited to arrive at the shop to find out that he was there fully ready to get into character. I actually really like a handful of his movies a lot, but I’d admit it’d been too long since I watched any classic Zane….

First on my list was ‘The Phantom’, which came out twenty years ago. I’ve always thought this was a great comic book movie and dusting off my dvd reinforced just that. Yeah the movie is admittedly totally cheezy but it’s like a superhero version of Indiana Jones: pure pulp, cool sets, great practical effects and a ton of classic action. It apparently didn’t do well at the box office so we never got a sequel, but here Zane shines as a good guy for once. Normally he plays a villain, and always a damn good one so it’s nice here to see him playing the classic comic book icon The Phantom in all of his glory. The movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it just delivers a perfect saturday matinee popcorn movie. Give it a watch again, it’s aged quite well. Continue reading

C’mon People this Halloween Give the 90’s MISFITS Another Chance!

It’s Halloween….TOMORROW! The time of the year has never been more ripe than now to be cranking one of my favorite bands of all time..The Misfits! Yes I’ve been playing the shit out of the classic Danzig Fronted Misfits albums but I’m also giving the 1990’s Michale Graves version of the band some play as well!

I get it, I get it, The Misfits will always really be with Glenn at the forefront but come one, the 90’s Misfits deserve some cred too! They released two super fun horror punk albums “American Psycho” and “Famous Monsters”, with a compilation called Cuts from the Crypt as well.

Ok so they aren’t lyrically as vicious or evil as the Glenn stuff but who can resist cheezy songs about 80’s flicks like Pumpkinhead, Poltergiest and weird obscure 80’s horror like Boxing Helena and Hell night from 1981?

Hell they even appeared in the George Romero movie “Bruiser” (ok yeah so that movie kinda sucked but still!) and also had Romero direct their video for the song “Scream” and also had the legendary Basil Gogos of Famous Monsters magazine & Pushead do their cover art!

Anyway 2015 marks 20 years since this version of the band formed way back in 1995. I saw them in 1997 and well as much as I kinda wanted to diss them they were pretty great live…

So bitch all you want  about The current version of The Misfits fronted by Jerry Only but how about this year giving the classic Misfits the usual play and also adding the 90’s ‘Fits to the mix! It’s been 20 years now..get over it people! Crank this shit!