Looking for a ridiculously entertaining Halloween “party movie” this year to watch with a group of friends and a few cold ones? Well look no further, ‘Empire of the Dark’ from 1990 is one helluva great time for a gang of rowdy cinefiles. It’s written, produced, edited & directed by it’s star, the highly unlikely action hero Steve Barkett! Yeah Barkett’s vision here is obviously to put himself smack dab in the middle of full on ridiculous, over the top action, horror, drama and ultra cheez’d out romance. As the true jack of all trades in front of and behind the camera Barkett admittedly has a certain undeniable charm about him, an almost vintage Shatner-esque way of moving through the mayhem. He’s certainly NOT your typical action hero, the slightly out of shape, sweatpants wearing, ass kicker doesn’t need to fit the mold as he’s clearly got enough passion in the project to prove all the naysayers wrong. At least he tries his damndest!
Everything about this movie is highly ambitious, as he clearly didn’t have a gigantic budget, he fully utilizes every trick in the book to attempt to make this one as epic looking as possible. Sometimes it actually works too, he’s got monster cult members, a huge stop motion/puppet demon and a few set pieces that have me scratching my head wondering just how the hell he pulled some of this all off at all. The plot too is pretty sweet as well, we’ve got heroic policeman (Steve Barkett of COURSE!) who steps through a time vortex to a different dimension to save the woman he loves (whom he was having an affair with) and her newborn baby from a “sinister” satanic cult.
He escapes the cult saving only the baby, leaving his lover behind to die and we flash forward 20 years later. Barkett is now an ex-cop master swordsman, who still longs for his past love. That doesn’t stop him from being quite the ladies man of course, Barkett has surely got some pick up lines that wouldn’t fly today. We follow him as he slowly becomes convinced his lost love is somehow still alive and that the sinister cult has indeed returned to wreck havoc in the small town. From this point on things get even more ridiculous in the most charmingly idiotic ways. Bad sword fights, a terrible training montage, “steamy” sex scenes, supernatural encounters and utterly moronic dialogue make this one the perfect Halloween party movie.
Barkett clearly had a solid vision for this little ridiculous adventure as it’s jammed packed with “interesting” characters, some surprisingly solid special fx for the time, babes, monsters and even some sweet gore. Barkett even goes the distance with the romance making sure his character has plenty of it on display as well as some solidly stupid attempts at drama. The whole thing is a giant damn ball of idiotic fun, a full on Steve Barkett vanity project that was a true pleasure to watch for the first time. If you’re a fan of stuff like ‘Troll 2’ or ‘The Room’ then you’ve got to hunt this one down, it’s a better great bad movie than both!! Grab a copy on dvd HERE!!
‘Tenement’ AKA ‘Game of Survival’ is the third movie from Roberta Findlay I’ve seen and so far she definitely knows how to serve up the grimy goods in true grindhouse flavor. Yeah, Roberta understood how to make a truly sleazy horror flick that’s for sure. Even though Tenement might be considered more of a low budget action/thriller, it’s got plenty of horror and gore to go around. Findlay surely didn’t give a damn if she offended anyone, even though this came out in ’85 it’s jam packed with scenes that you’d likely not see put to screen in 2019.
Playing off a bit like John Carpenter’s ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ except in a run down inner city apartment building, Tenement features a pretty diverse cast of characters who face off in a violent battle of life or death. The bad apples in this one look like they stepped right out of ‘The Warriors’ and are just about the meanest most over the top street gang put to film. These drugged out leather clad assholes are ready kill nearly anything in sight, and when one of the tenants of the apartment complex tires of them hanging around in the basement he calls the cops, all hell breaks loose. Just when the residents decide to throw a party in celebration of the gang’s arrest, they’re let loose into the night by police. Hellbent on revenge they head back to the “tenement” to get bloody revenge on each and everyone who lives within it’s sweaty spray painted walls.
The film moves at a brisk pace and it’s not afraid to get ugly quick. There’s a shocking brutal scene of rape, beatings, drug overdoses, guttings and that’s just the damn start. As crazy as this sounds at the same time the production quality is pretty low, the acting often pretty flimsy/over the top and it’s all sorta hard to actually take seriously. That all being said, for a female film maker back in the 80’s (and especially today) it’s got more bite than most films of this genre made by men. The action and gore is pretty ambitious and luckily the blood here, looking basically like red paint, tames some of the it’s sheer brutality making it a bit more consumable for genre newbies. I really dug a lot of the characters as well, though some may seem a bit stereotyped but the protagonist, a grumpy loner bad ass hero named ‘Washington’ (a cool add to black horror heroes) gets the job done once the gang begins to wreck havoc on his turf, the tenement. It’s quite glorious actually once the surviving apartment tenants decide to band together and fight back, revenge is well served here for sure and it’s quite worth sitting through the earlier nastiness for some sweet revenge. Also never ever underestimate a pregnant woman in danger!
One of the best things about this mean little movie is the actual setting itself. The run down apartment building is a dirty gritty mess of a place. The perfect place for an inner city showdown to occur, with no help of course from the local police. A lot of Roberta Findlay’s movies, at least what I’ve seen so far, have this totally sleezy city vibe going on and it she works that angle quite well. When people bring up grindhouse films this one is actually the perfect example of the genre and for what it is this one’s easily one of the best out there. Her movies feel like they were made a decade earlier as well and have much more of of 70’s feel to them in look and style. A dark yet entertaining action packed urban battle that might not be the most digestible piece of cinema in 2019, but it’s surely something you likely won’t forget anytime soon!
Hey! I’ve been watching a TON a movies this last week, some old and some new some good, some great, some well…anyway here’s my reviews of some of my most recent gambles! Have you seen any of these?
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (2019)
This movie has all the ingredients sprinkled just within it’s title alone to be possibly the greatest movie of all time! Add in the awesome Sam Elliot as “the man” who does the killing and you pretty much can’t lose right?! Well going into this you just might think it’s supposed to be some sorta’ over the top exploitation style action flick, luckily I watched the trailer and did a bit of poking around beforehand, cuz’ this one is pretty much the opposite of what you’d be lead to believe from it’s wild and crazy title. Knowing this already, I felt prepared for a good heartfelt drama, but instead was delivered a jumbled mess of a movie. A mash up of flashbacks to WW2, romanctic interludes from the past and back to the modern times of Sam Elliot’s now lonely existence should have held more much more weight. I was left wondering why even have these insane all too brief plot lines with Hitler and Bigfoot at all? None of them are very memorable and neither have much real time dedicated to them. In fact I’d have preferred the movie more if they’d have skipped all the ‘Bigfoot and Hitler’ stuff altogether. It’s well acted and looks great but it’s weak meandering storyline for a movie with a title like this leaves me quite perplexed. I was really looking forward to this one, but man towards the middle I was starting to feel like nodding off, while my mind began wandering, finding myself checking the clock and runtime. It fails a drama & an adventure flick and it leaves me pretty disappointed with what it could have been ultimately.
The Final Terror (1983)
This little largely forgotten slasher flick is officially my first blu ray disc I’ve ever purchased. It’s 20 steps up in film quality from it’s previous VHS release, much of what was shrouded in darkness by the terrible transfer, making many of the scenes so damn hard to watch. Well this cleaned up version is truly stunning, being a horror movie that takes place in the forests of the Pacific NW most of it’s appeal comes from the lush vast foliage captured here. It’s a sweet little survival flick that features both Daryl Hannah and Rachel Ward in early roles as part of a camping crew that heads off into the woods only to be pursued by an evil psycho backwoods stalker. The problem for some may be the extremely low body count and high survivor rate of the group of twenty somethings. I think it’s a pretty cool different take on the genre, the whole movie has a genuinely spooky atmosphere, creepy foreshadowing campfire tales, cool raft scenes and a pretty likable cast. We even get an over the top super duper young Joe Pantoliano. It’s also got a great slasher villain, who unfortunately gets far too little screen time. But If you’re looking for a beautiful looking 80’s survival flick with some slasher elements sprinkled about, The Final Terror will likely quench your thirst! Continue reading
I’m super duper pumped about the recent addition to the “Phase 4” of Marvel’s cinematic universe, they’ll indeed be introducing none other than Shang Chi: The Master of Kung Fu to audiences around the globe! This really did kinda catch me by surprise, I mean who’d have ever thought Shang-Chi would get his own blockbuster film? I understand the Black Panther, as he’s easily in my opinion, one of Marvel’s most iconic, at least to any real collector of superhero comics. He’s a legend. However Shang-Chi (who as a kid I was a collector of his titles) is a pretty obscure character whom I never thought got enough credit. He’s been around though since the early 70’s and was Marvel’s direct reaction to the popularity of Bruce Lee.
Now in 2018 Shang-Chi once again has an advantage, as Marvel searches for it’s next big hit, cashing in at the box office on diversity in their movies, they’re aiming at lightning striking again with a movie that features an all Asian cast & director in a similar fashion as the Black Panther. I’d have been more impressed honestly if Marvel had introduced The Black Panther movie years before it’s release in 2018, but it seemed like they waited until the right time though to make as much money as possible with diversity being a hot topic. That being said better late than never for The Black Panther and now Shang-Chi I guess.
So being a fan of the greatest martial artist in the MCU I’m hoping they do indeed pull this one off and pull the character into the A-List category! What do we want from a “Master of Kung Fu” movie? Well how about the exact opposite of what we got from the Iron Fist series? This movie needs to bring on a superhuman kung fu spectacle unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Iron Fist was a giant disappointment, it’s terrible fight sequences/choreography, mixed with it’s ultra bland plot & unappealing lead character made for a truly tough series to sit that many hours through. Shang-Chi should be a full on action adventure movie, something like a mix up of Indiana Jones & Enter The Dragon but with the most insane martial arts battles put to screen, To pull this off they need someone who’s a true veteran to do the choreography/directing duties like Wilson Yip of the ‘Ip Man’ franchise or the legendary Sammo Hung. Continue reading
Well, well, well, it seems that us Star Trek fans may really finally be boldly going where no one has gone before. The apparent news is that Quentin Tarantino has got an interesting story to pitch for the U.S.S. Enterprise and if all things work out the way he’d like them to he’ll be sitting in the director’s chair. Also interesting is that he’s demanding the movie be rated R. Just what the hell would a Star Trek movie of this caliber actually look like? I’ve never even considered a Star Trek movie would ever be able trek into the ‘R’ rated zones of the galaxy!
To me this is an exciting step in possibly the right direction for Star Trek, sure the last theatrical movie was a decent enough time for what it was, but it also just felt a little too “typical bloated cranked out for the masses Hollywood action” to really feel like an authentic Trek adventure. So with Tarantino involved we just might get a cerebral science fiction adventure a bit more akin to the original series and then some. We might also be getting a darker vision of the crew’s space exploration. An ‘R’ rating opens up the possibilities for the crew to face some truly horrifying aliens and sinister villains as well as some creepy as fuck planets to check out. This is something I really hopes comes to fruition, I’d like a different direction for the Star Trek movie universe and different is exactly what we’re likely to get here if it happens.
The next question is what version of ‘Star Trek’ is Tarantino looking to helm? Would he be using the all of the actors from the more recent movie trilogy? Will he go Next Generation? Interesting is that today I saw that Patrick Stewart has opened the doors to Quentin, stating he’s open to reprising his role of Picard. Who knows we might even get some William Shatner action in Tarantino’s version, at this point I think anything is possible.
I think it’d be cool to keep it simple and continue the current rebooted crew putting them into a more complex, dangerous, mind bending sci-fi epic. I think Quentin really understands Star Trek and more importantly truly understands the characters of TOS. I’d love to hear some of his classic banter infused with the Star Trek crew, it could really work in ways we haven’t seen since the TOS movies of the late 1970’s-90’s. I think this could be the throwback style we’ve been waiting for mixed with a totally new vision. It’s an experiment I hope comes to light, I’ve got my fingers crossed…How about you?
Seems to me like after the “grand finale” series of the recent shared Marvel Netflix universe show, The Defenders, that Marvel’s lost some serious steam or should I say street cred?! Yeah, final verdict here on The Defenders…weak ass shit! Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t as bad as Iron Fist. BUT seeing the character of Iron Fist in the mix with The Defenders wasn’t really so bad in comparison to his other teammates. I realized that all of the shows are a bit stale when you take a step back and look at them. They all drag on too damn long and when they hit that lull they’re incredibly tedious, every now and again they’ve got their shining moments but they’re few & far between. I was initially pumped for a lean 8 episode, no BS Defenders series, however even 8 episodes felt a bit like a chore to sit through at times!
I wasn’t very impressed with The Defenders, as a longtime comic fan I think of all the ways the show should’ve been amazing and all the ways it was a bit of a let down. I’m tiring of the whole “uninteresting drama, for the sake of drama” these shows fill themselves with. I mean, does anyone really give a flying fuck about Foggy & Karen Page while they whine & worry over Matt Murdock’s Daredevil escapades anymore?! Was anyone captivated by Elektra & Matt Murdock’s “passionate” romance in the last season of Daredevil and this new Defenders series?! We certainly don’t feel anything real for Danny Rand & Colleen Wing! What about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ supposed “love connection” anyone care about that? The whole “Jessica Jones is an alcoholic thing” is so by the numbers that every time she takes a drink I feel like rolling my eyes. Uggh it’s just all feeling a little plastic, this cookie cutter drama factor they keep trying to push, it’s just not very interesting. It takes up a LOT of the actual run time of these series.
Well how about the action? Aside from that hallway fight early on in the first Daredevil season I’m not feelin’ that these shows are setting any new action trends. The way I see it these shows should have really upped the ante in the way of action, especially when it comes to superhuman kung fu!! I’m thinking they should’ve been taking notes from movies like “Big Trouble in Little China” & mashing it up with say the likes of Tony Jaa’s “The Protector”. Compare The Defenders for a moment to something that is actually awesome like the movies I just mentioned. Take a moment and imagine if they would’ve slapped a blonde wig on Tony and had him do the action sequences for Iron Fist or even Daredevil, the Marvel shows should be striving to top action sequences like this one here:
Instead we get some seriously bland kung fu by people who’re supposedly superhuman heroes and villains. Heck imagine at the very least if Danny Rand was breaking bones left and right and seriously fucking people up with that iron fist? How much would that alone have changed the dynamic of things? The shows so far range from decent to barely passable, but they should be a serious spectacle to behold visually at the very least. Instead these shows are kinda lazy, no one’s willing to push the boundaries to give us something we wanna watch again and again. I enjoyed the first season of of Jessica Jones & Luke Cage….BUT…do I every really wanna revisit them? Honestly no. Do I wanna revisit say “Stranger Things”? Hell yeah!
I watched one of the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episodes right before I started The Defenders. Not a good idea, The Defenders ended up feeling pretty cheap, the acting, action, even the sets felt very “made for TV”. Marvel’s got to make a few changes to it’s Netflix stuff. We need more inventive story telling, plot twists, better writing in general, far better action, actual interesting villains & more damn costumes!! Yeah put Iron Fist in his damn costume, that would at least make shit more fun. Give us some classic super powered villains rather than a gang of blah “bosses” and a bunch of faceless drone fighters for our heroes to do mediocre made for tv kung fu street fighting with. The time has come to start remembering where the roots of this shit came from, the comic books! Take notes on what made the last Wolverine movie “Logan” so good and give the fans what they really want!! I don’t have time to waste on more mediocre media Marvel, so get your shit together!
I finally got a chance last night to check out the latest Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider, The Gravedancers) ) horror movie starring none other than one of my fave 80’s action icons Mr. Dolph Lundgren! What we’ve got here is a pretty sweet lil’ horror / action hybrid that’s likely to please any fan of good ol’ Dolph. This one puts Jebidiah Woodley (Lundgren) front and center as grizzled demon hunter who strolls into a small town where a recent string of murders has got the folks in a panic. He tries to convince the local cops that something supernatural is afoot but of course they all just think he’s some crazy ass dude and end up locking him away for a night in jail. They soon figure out though Jebidiah ain’t all that crazy after all as they come face to face with a creepy possessed killer while he’s locked up. Lundgren is quickly freed and leads the police on a bit of a wild goose chase to find the pesky demonic killer.
It’s a nice simple plot, short and sweet. The movie’s barely 80 minutes long but packs a fair amount of excitingly gruesome scenes into it’s short run time. ‘Don’t kill It’ is a damn good time, it’s an old fashioned 80’s style movie that borrows a bit from the Denzel Washington/John Goodman horror thriller ‘Fallen’. Heck this one could almost be considered some sort of sequel despite the tonal differences of the two. Lundgren totally shines here and is utilized in exactly the way I hoped he’d be, more like an Ash type anti-hero who cracks his fair share of one liners while thoroughly kicking evil ass. He’s easily the best thing about this one and I’m already hoping that we see him return for a sequel that brings him into the fold of even more insane mayhem. The only real problem is that the movie maybe peaks a little to soon as it’s shining moment takes place about one third of the way through. A town hall meeting gone incredibly wrong becomes an insanely grotesque show of over the top action, comedy & gore. Continue reading