Tagged: Animatronics

VHS Verdict: ‘The White Buffalo’ is a Western ‘JAWS’ with Charles Bronson!

I never even knew a movie existed where Charles Bronson and Will Sampson (Chief Bromden from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’) teamed up to battle a giant albino monster buffalo up until a couple weeks ago. But yeah ‘The White Buffalo’ is just that, a wild west adventure flick that channels ‘Jaws’ in obvious ways but alsogives a lot more to ponder upon later. This 1977 action flick features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickock who’s haunted by nightmares of a vicious monster buffalo, so much so that he’s developed a bad habit of grabbin’ his pistols during the dreams and randomly firing it in real life while he’s in a deep slumber.

The visions intensify and soon Bronson’s on a cross country quest to track down this pesky monster. There’s some great action in between of course where Bronson kicks a ton of ass and gets into some crazy saloon shootouts, cuz let’s not forget what he’s best known for, over the top ass kickin’ action. Meanwhile the awesome Will Sampson plays the legendary Crazy Horse, who’s daughter happens to be slaughtered by the giant buffalo in a bloody massacre on his settlement and it inspires a quest of revenge against the beast.

I really dig this forgotten gem, from the cool sets to the atmospheric gothic journey when Bronson heads off on into the mountains in a stage coach, to the drama between Hickock and Crazy Horse as they try to come to terms with the white man’s dominance in the world. Of course my favorite part of this 70’s horror/action hybrid is the threat of the giant beast looming in the mountians, which I read was inspired by the success of ‘Jaws’. The creature appears within an almost dream like landscape, even when outside of Bronson’s nightmares.

The giant beast is actually pretty well done I think, considering the times, using animatronics and puppetry and well placed camera angles. there’s some pretty bloody and intense scenes later as well when the duo finally confronts the albino behemoth. Considering the movie had a PG rating back then at least it gets nice and dirty when it needs to. We all know those 70’s “PG” rated flicks can feel a lot more like an R rated movie in modern times. The movie definitely works best showcasing the unlikely alliance between Bronson & Sampson and does it’s best to show what sort of bonds and trust can develop against a greater threat. I had a blast with this one and it’s easily become one of my favorite Bronson movies! Track this one down, it’s a unique little largely forgotten monster flick! 

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The ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Movie Reboot Needs to Go Old School!

I’ve been hearing lately that the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movie franchise is going to again be rebooted after the shit show of the Michael Bay era of the reptilian heroes in a half shell. So it sparked me to revisit the original 1990 movie the other night which I hadn’t seen in probably 20 years or so. I was amazed at how well that movie has aged, seeing it in theaters back in the day I’d enjoyed it but kind of dismissed it as “kid stuff” at the time as my older brother in the 1980’s collected the original indie comic series and I’d had the chance to read them as a kid. If you’re aware of the TMNT early beginnings you’ll remember that it started off as a dark, gritty & violent comic series. I was blown away back then at the sheer oddity of the characters and the equally bizarre story lines of the originals. When I decided to revisit the 1990 TMNT film I’d forgotten just how dark that original movie actually is, especially considering today’s climate of safe moviemaking. The movie is almost closer to an R-rating than it’s original rating of PG. There’s kids smoking & drinking alcohol, robbing people, the foot beating up April O’neil, Raphael beaten into a near coma by The Foot and a badly beaten and bloodied up Splinter strung to a fence. It’s actually a pretty dark and gritty movie with the addition of the comedic surfer dude Turtles to lighten things up.

So currently we’ve got these new “TMNT” flicks, a big bloated Michael Bay produced, soul-less mess of CGI, uninspired storytelling and poor character development. The current franchise just hasn’t been connecting with fans the way they’d hoped, mainly with the amount of money that the films have made. Now they’ve got plans for a brand new reboot and it’s never been more clear just what this franchise needs to do: go old school. 

So first off let’s address the obvious big issue, imo the latest Michael Bay era CGI Turtles look terrible. They’re massive 8 foot tall green hulking humanoid turtles with creepy ass faces and not in a good way. Compare the newest incarnations with the very original designs. They couldn’t be more opposite. Even the Turtles of the 1990 movie do essentially look pretty much like what you’d hope for, sure they’ve been made much cuter but they stay fairly true to the original vision. So let’s face the facts, the original designs of the 80’s weren’t broken so why try and modernize them by making them the opposite of what they were intended to look like? Bring back the smaller classic versions of these characters, go simpler with their general design. It’s a lot easier to digest and most definitely not rocket science folks. 

Next I’d say you could go the similar route that many movies are taking by making the next movie a direct sequel to the original or at least setting the movie in the late 80s’ or early 90’s, it’s clear people love that era of film today (Stranger Things, IT anyone?). That being said bring back the suits!! Put real actors in real costumes with modern day animatronics the Turtles could look absoluterly mind blowing. The 1990 movie Turtles STILL look great and that was with a micro budget of 13.5 million dollars for the whole damn film. What they could do now would be incredible, we all want to believe that the TMNT are actually living breathing creatures and the latest movies sadly look like fakey cgi rendered cartoon characters inserted into the “real world”.

Lets get real here and let’s keep the budget low, we don’t need a TMNT movie to be on the scale of an Avengers film, we need a smaller more personal, more heartfelt movie with high stakes like the original. Next let’s get some real martial arts, real choreography and some real stunts again. One thing that blew me away revisting the 1990 movie was the actual real on screen martial arts that were displayed, it was pretty amazing actually and I’d love to see something in that vein in a brand new Turtles movie. It’d be like nothing out there in the mainstream that’s for sure. Lastly I’d love to see a darker more serious storyline, of course an “R-rated Turtles” movie would be my first choice, one that evokes the original comics would be absolutely insane. However, I know that’ll never happen so I think at the very least going as dark as the original movie would be more than good enough. Let’s see the Turtles roaming the city streets at night, jumping from rooftop to rooftop and roaming the dank sewers. Bring on the amazing real life set pieces, puppets and crazy creatures once again, I think fans would go bonkers for a throwback style TMNT. However I doubt Hollywood has the courage to try something as unique and inspired as the original movie. What do you think?!  

A Solo Yoda Movie: Star Wars Meets The Dark Crystal!

So for a while there was a lot of talk about the anthology “A Star Wars Story” movies that were potentially in the works, that was until ‘SOLO’ bombed at the box office. An Obi Wan movie, a Boba Fett and even talk of a Lando solo adventure. However the one that interested me the most was the idea of a Yoda movie, where we follow the adventures of a younger Yoda. This for a while seemed like an actual possibility but besides Solo’s failure in theaters, Frank Oz had stated a Yoda movie would simply be too difficult to articulate the puppet for a feature length movie and would likely need to be fully CGI. I think it could be done, utilizing both old school puppetry blended with CGI. The more I’ve thought about it all the better the idea seems to me, that Yoda should indeed get his own movie though.

So in response to Frank Oz, I think doing incredible puppetry in 2018 with the Disney budget doesn’t seem all that impossible, especially with green screens, CGI being able to erase wires, strings & actors who’re controlling it’s actions. I think utilizing CGI as well to bring Yoda to life in full body shots / lightsaber duels is indeed a must but using puppetry for close ups is also a must. It would be the perfect mixture of both to make everyone’s green Jedi really come to life in an epic full length adventure. Doing it the way they did back in 70’s though? Yeah, I’m certain that’d be quite a headache, though in the 80’s they pulled it off beautifully in the ambitious Dark Crystal.

Which leads me to the next point, imagine a Yoda movie that was more of a modern mix of The Dark Crystal and Star Wars. A spin-off Star Wars Story that maximized the use of real Puppets, exotic locations/sets and a stronger blend of old school fx blended with todays modern tech. It’d definitely be something different for a Star Wars movie especially in this day and age of total overuse of CG in blockbusters. I imagine someone like Guillermo del Toro at the helm, or at least someone who truly loves practical fx work, epic fantasy and incredible monsters. Just the hype of the movie featuring heavy puppetry alone I think would bring something truly unique to the table for today’s young and old fans of the franchise. They could even add some animatronic modifications to the Yoda puppet, giving him more complex facial expressions & get help from The Jim Henson Company to bring it all to life. I bet you’d have a hit on your hands at the box office. Continue reading

Movie Review: A Seriously Pissed off Bigfoot with a High IQ in ‘Primal Rage’!

I’m always totally down to see a killer new Sasquatch flick, the trouble is there’s been a LOT of pretty crappy ones made over the years with maybe just a few exceptions like Eduardo Sanchez’s ‘Exists’, ‘Abominable’ from 2006 and of course the classic ‘Harry and The Hendersons’. For some reason people have a tuff time bringing a believable Bigfoot to the big screen. Go figure. That leaves me believe people seem to think all they need is a tall dude to don an ape suit and they’ve got a worthy horror on their hands. The best ones though always put most of their money into their ‘Squatch creature fx and bring something truly believable to screen. Let’s face it, so many out there are faking Bigfoot videos on Youtube with rubber ape suits, believing what you’re seeing on screen is real is the first point of brilliance in a movie like this. Luckily “Primal Rage” is directed by fx wizard Patrick Magee (Jurassic Park 3/Progeny/AVP) and he put some serious effort into the crazed creature’s appearance in this movie. The best thing about this one is clearly the beast and that’s a damn good thing in this case.

Primal Rage’s actors aren’t trying to (or maybe even able to) win awards here and it’s got more in common at it’s core with a 70’s or 80’s killer creature flick than it does with something like Jurassic Park. The script is here might be a bit on the flimsy side but that makes way for tons of crazy Bigfoot action to go down. The premise is simple, an ex-con is just released from prison and picked up there by his girlfriend, as they drive through the mountains of Pacific Northwest (en route back home) they get side tracked when a mangled man stumbles into the road and is hit by their car. When they get out to investigate they almost immediately come under attack from large rocks being hurled at them, ex-con guy gets knocked off a cliff into a river and his lover jumps down to save him from drowning. This begins a fight for their lives in the woods are they’re pursued by “Oh-Mah” a pissed off native american mythical cryptid, AKA Sasquatch.

The interesting thing here is that “Oh-Mah” is actually an intelligent, brutal hunter who wears a bark mask and uses a bevy of handcrafted weapons to attack his prey. He also fucks shit up with his bare hands any chance he gets. He’s brutal as hell in this one, firing arrows and ripping people to shreds who’re dumb enough to hanging around in his stompin’ grounds. Bigfoot’s a calculated cold blooded killer here and there’s plenty of people for him to rip into, especially as there’s conveniently a gang of backwoods weirdos ala Deliverance who’re in desperate need of an ass-kickin shooting the shit in the vicinity. Bigfoot pulls no punches either, Magee pulls out some crazy ass sequences of practical gore a’plenty and his Bigfoot, “Oh-Mah” looks fantastic. He’s huge and it’s clear they put plenty of work into his animatronic face to make him a convincing and memorable movie monster.

There’s also a sweet supernatural sub-plot going on with the local Native American sheriff who’s out for Oh-Mah’s hide (this dude should have been the main character) and a crazy wood witch who looks like she stepped right out of Ridley Scott’s “Legend”. Magee does a fine job here creating a ton of cool action sequences and an explosive ‘final boss’ battle. Bigfoot does have a questionable scene where he forces himself upon a female captive that I could have done without, but luckily it’s a brief, more implied scene. Otherwise this one’s a ton of gory fun that’s not to be taken too seriously. It’s a good mix of Predator, Pumpkinhead & Deliverance with some ‘Squatch making it it one of the best of it’s genre. A must see addition to Bigfoot’s horror legacy!

 

VHS Verdict: 1991’s Nordic Creature Feature ‘The Runestone’!!

Here’s another pretty neat little creature feature from 1991 I’ve been wanting to see for a while now, well luckily I scored a cool VHS copy of the movie at thrift shop. As I’ve said before my favorite type of horror flick’s a monster movie and that’s exactly what this here is nothing more nothing less. Though released in ’91 it feels like a full on ’80’s movie, with tons of neon, cheezy dialogue and a big savage man in suit Bigfoot type of creature running around the city offing people. Yeah and it also features one of the bad guy henchmen from ‘Die Hard’, Alexander Godunov, who’s the heroic handsome Nordic godly clockmaker monster hunter.

Anyway we’ve got a bunch of fun plot points as a mystic runestone is found in a coal mine in Pennsylvania and transported to NYC, where we all know, the excitement always seems to happen. Soon the runestone displays it’s magic powers and an archeologist becomes possessed by an evil ancient Norse spirit. Of course the dude transforms into a crazed sasquatch called Fenrir that goes on killing spree throughout New York and ends up frequenting art exhibits where over the top yuppies seem to think he’s someone’s hip new art installment. Of course he gets pissed off and wreaks “havoc” in the art community. The creature actually looks kinda cool (some decent animatronics/make up) all things considered and that’s clearly the main draw here with this one. He’s got a sweet no BS attitude and does his best to fuck shit up as much as he can. Way to rep the monsters in the 90’s dude!

That being said, there’s relatively little gore splattered about and the movie spends probably an extra 20 minutes or so too long trying to create “compelling” character development. Most of the while I just was wondering what the goddamn cranky ass creature was doing? Let’s get back to what he’s up to cuz he’s likely pissed off and freaking people out somewhere in the city! I’d have also loved a bit more of the “Die Hard” dude as well, but sadly he’s not given as much screen time as he deserves until the finale, but damn if the guy doesn’t look like a bad ass when he shows up. I dig the final act as well as the characters face off against the creature briefly entering a different dimension. This one’s often confused with Julian Sands movie ‘Warlock’ from 1989 and feeling surprisingly similar at times it’s understandable why.

 There’s plenty of fun to be had here if you’re not expecting a helluva lot from ‘The Runestone’ and you dig low budget late 80’s early 90’s creature cheez. This one’s a prime example of an old school horror movie that if edited down to about 85 minutes would be a total crowd pleaser/cult fave. There’s a ton of total gems out there from the 80’s & 90’s that tried to fill their run time to a more “respectable length” adding too much filler, this one for example at 105 minutes does indeed have areas that drag somewhat, some day perhaps I’ll try and edit a few of these down. Either way there’s definitely some fun to be had regardless and it’s most definitely worth a watch if you’re down for some early 90’s monster business! 

VHS Verdict: 1990’s ‘Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor’ is Gooey Monster Movie Mayhem!

Damn! I’ve been scoring some excellent VHS tapes lately and even better is the fact that they’re movies I’ve never heard of before. Being a huge fan of 80’s creature features I was delighted to run across this total gem of a flick. Not to be confused with ‘Metamorphosis’ by George Eastman which also came out in 1990, ‘Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor’ is an inspiring special fx laden monster movie for fans of movies like The 80’s ‘Blob’, ‘The Thing’ & of course ‘The Deadly Spawn’. This movie is actually the unofficial sequel to 1983’s ‘The Deadly Spawn’ being produced by Ted Bohus who was responsible for both movies. Turns out he produced two home run horror movies as Metamorphosis is just as good if not in some ways even better than The Deadly Spawn.

The movie’s plot is quite simple, a scientist is researching some strange mutant creatures from another planet in lab and accidentally stabs one of them in the head with a syringe. The pissed off mutant bites his hand, escapes, the scientist quickly begins to metamorphosize into a slimy mass of grotesque flesh & eventually mutates into a huge creature that kills a security guard. Well it’s not long before the security guard’s two daughters and one of their geeky horny boyfriends are all up on the scene to figure out just what happened to their dear ol’ dad. They sneak into the research facility and crazy monster mayhem ensues. This one’s a ton of fun, sure it’s got some pretty bad acting, unintentionally goofy dialogue and may have about 15 minutes too much of bland character development but the whole thing is littered with crazy creatures and plenty o’ gooey gore.

The monsters are the main attraction here and they’re beautifully created via puppetry, animatronics and even a hefty dose of stop motion animation. It really is a great sequel to The Deadly Spawn and the main monster does indeed share an even enough similarity to the creatures of it’s predecessor. These two movies would make a great double feature especially for those who’re looking for an underrated gem of a monster movie and plenty of gross out schlocky gore.

The last 30 minutes of the movie definitely amps up the monster mayhem to eleven and though some of the first two acts can begin to only slightly drag with perhaps trying a bit too hard at crafting a “compelling” story once the shit truly hits the fan it’s totally worth the wait. Like ‘The Deadly Spawn’ this also one has quite a gigantic closing sequence that firmly cements ‘Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor’ into the list of the the best monster movies of the late 80’s/90s. Check it out!

Movie Review: ‘A Quiet Place’ A Big Hollywood Creature Feature Done Right!

Most of the big cinema Hollywood horror movies churned out these days are pretty damn forgettable but every so often we get a shiny gem thrown in our direction, this is most certainly the case with “A Quiet Place”. Yep, this one delivers on all levels, it’s an awesome tale of survival, a freaky creature feature and a totally tense original thriller all wrapped into one sweet package. John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe & Millicent Simmonds are a family trying to survive in total isolation in a house in countryside. In the surrounding forest the wrath of big blind alien creatures that hunt by sound look for their next meal. Get ready for the extremes between complete silence and jarring monster attacks to jolt you right the fuck out of your theater seat. Most of the movie is completely serene except for some of the score that creeps in and out from time to time and that’s what will keep you on your toes. I’d love to see a version of the movie that takes out the score completely as that’d certainly add even more tension to the sonic experiment at play here.

It’s really quite a great concept for a big cinema flick and if you’re chomping on popcorn and candy during the movie you’re likely to be heard by all around, the movie’s so quiet at times it can be a bit unsettling in a large theater full of people. This of course brings the audience directly into the tension and it’s done quite well cuz when the shit hits the fan from time to time it makes the tense action sequences that much more powerful. It also features the most awkward sequence of being stalked by a monster, one where Emily Blunt tries to escape being killed by one of these creatures while simultaneously going into labor! Damn-could it get an worse-yes it surely does..

The small cast also adds to the feeling of dread and isolation as danger lurks behind every noise presented on screen. The setting as well is lush and beautiful as most of it takes place on and around the old farm and a creepy ass cornfield, the perfect place for monsters to creep all about. Speaking of the monsters, we don’t really get any solid explanation about where they came from or why they’re here, maybe upon a second viewing it’d be easier to piece it all together from various newspaper clippings that are shown here and there. It’s been said this movie was also, in it’s early stages given the possibility to have a connection to Cloverfield, which also would have worked quite nicely. Continue reading