Here’s a sweet little Hong Kong horror/action/comedy hybrid from 1985 that really put a BIG smile on my face, ‘Those Merry Souls’. Yeah this all but forgotten flick has some serious star power, featuring the likes of martial arts legends like the charming Yuen Biao & the late horror icon “Mr. Vampire” himself Lam Ching Ying (RIP) together for one spooky comedic action packed romper.
Now as you can see the poster here. makes it look maybe like a full on comedy, and in many ways ‘Those Merry Souls’ plays out like one. However it also has a serious supernatural aspect and threat that slowly rears it’s head to the final genuinely creepy action packed finale. This one tells the story of two stuntmen one a wildly talented martial artist and his bumbling whiny cousin who’s obsessed with a beautiful local club singer. Oh yeah and their uncle has recently developed a rare creepy ability to astral project and has been helping people who die find their way to the other side. He helps those merry souls but during his waking life doesn’t remember a lick of it ever happening.
The two bosom buddy stuntmen spend most of their time trying to ridiculously find romance and getting into trouble while doing so, one of the best scenes takes place on a beach where Yuen Biao shines showing his kick ass martial arts skills taking on a gang beach bullies in only his skimpy little swim suit. Biao really should have been an international star, he’s got the skills and a similar raw charisma of Jackie Chan. Things do get a bit dark and scary here though and what starts off like the perfect 80’s Hong Kong buddy comedy morphs into a pretty thrilling little supernatural tale.
This happens when their uncle, while in his astral form is instructed to take the soul of his own nephew when he’s injured doing a wild stunt on a movie set. At the moment of truth though he decides to let him live & spare his soul a mistake that costs him his own life and sets forth an evil entity upon them. In a way it’s a tiny bit Final Destination and when they employ the help of their other uncle, played by Lam Ching Ying, who’s of course got some secret magic skills of his own to ward off evil, things get really interesting.
The film’s finale is joyous as the whole gang along with their girlfriends all face off the evil entity along with their taoist priest uncle in an action packed final showdown. The stakes get high and the action is off the rails bonkers in true Hong Kong fashion as the entity possesses members of the group and soon things erupt into a crazy supernatural kung fu battle.
We even get to see Lam Ching Ying and Yuen Biao go at it full force, which is treat to behold. Bottom line here, ‘Those Merry Souls’ is a damn good time balancing out the comedy, kung fu & supernatural elements in all the right ways, something I’ve noticed many Hong Kong films of this era seem to fail at in my opinion more often than succeeding. If you’re looking to get in 80’s Hong Kong Horror I highly recommend ‘Those Merry Souls’ as the perfect party movie to share with a hungry gang of movie maniacs!
And for fans of Yuen and LamChing Ying check this out too..
l’m BACK & I never saw this one coming: for some reason I decided it was time to finally check out ‘976-EVIL Part 2: The Astral Factor’, which I’ve literally been putting off for years & what a sweet little horror flick indeed! I like part two so much I’d say it’s definitely more fun than the original. There’s a big difference here in directorial duties, the first installment featured horror legend Robert “Freddy” Englund in the director’s chair for the first of only two times, while part 2 features Jim ‘Chopping Mall’ Wynorski. Yeah Wynorski being at the helm here immediately got me amped, as he’s done some pretty undeniably awesomely cheezy 80’s flicks besides just Chopping Mall. A few of my favorites like Return of the Swamp Thing, Hard To Die, Not of This Earth, Sorority House Massacre 2 & Deathstalker 2, so it’s no surprise really that 1991’s ‘976-EVIL 2’ delivers a similar formula only this time we find him playing the horror a bit more straight, at least in by his standards like he did in ‘Chopping Mall’.
We’ve got one of the the stars of the first movie back as well, Patrick O’Brien returns as ‘Spike’, who now roams the back roads of the USA ridin’ on his bad ass chopper, clad in tuff black leather. Yep a total “bad ass dude” for sure after the events of the last installment…That evil phone number is out there, still tormenting people randomly, calling pay phones & a college professor ends up the prime target of evil when he picks up! Soon the local college campus is being terrorized by a crazy supernatural slasher & a curious student named Robin decides to take on the case. Of course bad ass Spike rolls into town on his hog looking for trouble, meeting Robin and immediately decides to help her sleuth out the case.
One of my favorite aspects of the ‘976-Evil 2’ is the villain played by Rod McCary, the evil professor uses astral projection to hunt down his victims. Most of the movie he’s locked up in the county jail and uses his creepy supernaturally powered astral body to do the damn dirty work! He also utilizes the ‘976-Evil hotline’ to mess up the college kids and all of it is a ton of fun to behold. The movie opening sequence sets the perfect tone of schlocky fun that rarely lets up throughout it’s run time making this one a nice lean cheezy supernatural adventure.
It’s surprisingly solid (and admittedly stupid quite often) with some really fun, spooky 80’s style fx I just can’t seem to get enuff of, some fairly ambitious action sequences and some good ol’ explosions. There’s also an excellent sequence where a college girl gets sucked into her TV set and arrives on the scenes of It’s a Wonderful Life & Night of the Living Dead that makes the movie worth a watch alone. Also expect a ton of babes n’ beefcakes, even a super kick ass cameo sequence by an ultra sexy, sultry Brigitte Nielson!
If you’re a Wynorski fan and haven’t checked this out I highly recommend, if you’re just looking for a great party horror flick this one a damn good choice! Who’d a thunk it?!
I do tons of hunting around town here in Portland Oregon and beyond for awesome VHS tapes for my own viewing pleasure and also for my shop Hollywood Babylon. The fun is always running across cool movies, often times I never even knew existed. This is most definitely the case when I ran across a VHS copy of ‘VIBES’ from 1988 starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum!? Yeah, at least for me this was a surprise as I’d never even heard of this one before and the unlikely pairing of Goldblum as “Nick” & 80’s pop icon Lauper as “Sylvia” kinda blew my mind. At first I thought it was simply an 80’s rom com, but upon reading the synopsis on the back I was even more excited to find that Vibes is actually a supernatural adventure flick with light elements of Indiana Jones sprinkled about it’s odd colorful plot.
Talk about a movie that sounds right up my alley? Vibes was indeed a ton of fun and it’s two unlikely leads make it a full on trip down 80’s nostalgia lane. Both Lauper and Goldblum play quirky down on their luck psychics who are hired to head off to Ecuador to find the missing son of a mysterious wealthy fortune hunter. Both seem reluctant to work together even though Sylvia who’s major bad luck with men, seems immediately enamored with Nick who’s character is as over the top Godlbum-esque here as they come. Both use their unique powers to piece together the mystery they become entrenched in, Sylvia speaks with a dead woman named Louise and Nick can see the psychic history of objects from merely by touching them.
Once the two leave the city they quickly realize there’s a supernatural element at play and their employer hasn’t been entirely honest about why they’ve been hired for the job. It’s a total pleasure to see the two leads playing off each other and it’s quite obvious from the get go it’s gonna be physically impossible for Golblum to resist the cute as a button Lauper. Cyndi shines here with her extra thick New York accent and most of all it’s the unlikely pairing of these two icons that really make this one such a treat.
The back of the VHS boasts something of a special fx extravaganza from one of the dudes from Ghostbusters which was sadly a bit misleading. There are a few neat scenes of 80’s fx at play here but ultimately the supernatural spectacle here wasn’t nearly as impressive as I’d hoped for. A few more scenes of paranormal mayhem would have made this one a full on lost 80’s classic. It does have some great sets though and the Ecuador back drop gives this a bit of a Romancing the Stone vibes at times although with less physical adventure actually going on. There’s a great dance sequence between the two as well that’s pretty darn cute as well. The main reason to seek this out is the two leads, it’s an interesting pairing and filled with a ton of fun moments despite it being a full on bonafide box office flop. One of the best parts of the movie is the closing credits song by Cyndi Lauper called “Hole In My Heart” which is one of her best and adds to the pure nostalgia of this little forgotten gem of an 80’s movie.
I’ve been noticing more recently the increased interest in astral projection, sleep paralysis & the shadow people phenomenon (all three that often times go hand in hand) becoming quite popular subjects lately in pop culture. If you’re unsure of what the three of these things are let me briefly explain. First astral projection (also referred to as an out of body experience) is when your consciousness or “soul” separates from the physical body. Sleep paralysis is when someone “wakes” from sleep and finds their body paralyzed for a short period of time. Finally “the shadow people phenomenon” has been reported by countless people while in the state of sleep paralysis and involves coming in contact with shadowy beings who appear near you or around you. These encounters are often described as terrifying, with strange voices and sometimes feelings of being attacked or suffocated by these shadowy beings.
What many people don’t know is that sleep paralysis, despite how modern horror movies depict the phenomenon, is actually a state that people who attempt or practice astral projection strive to get to. So to some who might not understand what’s happening during sleep paralysis this is a frightening experience but to others this is the sweet spot needed to induce an out of body experience. You see, when someone attempts astral projection it involves a certain amount of concentration or meditation, basically you are trying to let your body completely fall asleep while keeping you mind awake. When doing so successfully you body once calmed enough will become paralyzed, we all experience sleep paralysis every night when we go to bed, it’s what keeps us from acting out our dreams physically. In some cases sleep walking occurs when the body isn’t paralyzed completely. If you can successfully keep conscious while the body falls in sleep paralysis you’re actually very close to astral projecting, which is an amazing thing. Sleep paralysis is considered in a way the gateway to another dimension. Most of the movies and such out there today portray the experience in a negative & frightening way when in reality it’s a direct step to an incredible, life changing experience. Continue reading
I’ve expressed my interest in lucid dreaming here at Universal Dork a couple times in the past and today I thought I’d take a moment to talk about ‘astral projection’. First though, if you’re not quite sure what lucid dreaming is let me make it simple, it’s when you have a very vivid dream and something within the dream triggers you to become aware that you are dreaming (movies like Inception & Dreamscape are good examples). In many of these cases often with a little practice and focus you can learn to have them quite regularly. To be honest it makes movies like ‘Inception’ feel pretty boring. It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced and anyone can do it with a little effort.
There’s another practice that’s linked to lucid dreaming called ‘astral projection‘, also known as an ‘out of body experience’ or OBE. I’ve worked a ton on different methods to experience this phenomenon with various degrees of success. I can tell you with honesty that it’s lead to the most bizarre & unexplainable experiences of my existence. I’m to this day a bit uncertain exactly what astral projection really is at it’s core, some believe it’s just an elaborate lucid dream while others believe it’s the complete separation of consciousness from the physical body. I intend to find out for myself what the truth really is behind it. Thus far I’ve had several unexplainable experiences that have lead me to believe that perhaps there’s abilities humans have that involve being able to enter into different dimensions of existence that are not of our physical material world. It’s also made me question heavily my beliefs on life after death. Perhaps there’s more to us than just our bodies of flesh and bone? Continue reading
Have you seen the new Netflix series “The OA” yet? If not STOP reading and go check it out, it’s super damn good. Netflix is killing it these days with the amount of quality content they have been putting out and this series is easily one of my favorites. It’s basic premise discusses the possibilities of life after death by exploring the phenomenon of Near Death Experiences or NDE’s. The series has got quite an original and fully intriguing story at it’s core and it’s the type of show that by the season finale will have you perplexed and left thinking for days about the entire thing.
So what the hell really happened at the end there? There were a few different ways of interpreting what exactly went down, though none of the theories out there have been proven. Spoilers alert!! The theory that I like the best is that indeed the main character Prairie has gone to different dimensions and survived death several times. That her story IS true.
I’ve been a lucid dreamer most of my life & had always been quite interested in astral projection (also known as an out of body experience or OBE), I was really doubtful that there is anything after we die. Having someone close to me pass really kickstarted my interest in astral projection which is very closely linked to NDE’s. I began to practice everyday and I’ve had some truly bizarre experiences that I can’t explain happen to me. These experiences have led me to a place where I do beleive there is a strong possibility there’s more to life than the physical body & that there IS indeed something more awaiting us all after our hearts stop beating. Perhaps I’ll do a blog in the future about it all. Anyway the brilliant thing about the series is that it really leaves it up to the viewer to decide and by peoples personal experiences it will be clear which version you will lean more toward by the season’s end.
The funny thing was about half way through I’d jokingly said “what if this woman was just full of shit, crazy or some kind of narcissistic cult leader? That’d be pretty crazy..” Well in the last few minutes of the show we were left with that very possibility and I realized if this show did continue it could go in two very different directions. We could have the fantastical supernatural meta physical journey continue or we could have the story of a strange woman who’s fooled a group of people into thinking they’re on to solving the ultimate questions of our existence. As it stands, as much as the finale was fully frustrating and completely perplexing I kinda like the way the show has left us all wondering just what version of the story is true. It’s the wonder sometimes of not knowing all the answers that makes things in life so incredible, so if The OA remains a one season show I think it’d be kinda brilliant actually. We’ll see what happens as of right now there’s no word if the story continues or not, but damn you Netflix you did it again…
I love From Beyond! It’s one of Stuart “Reanimator” Gordon’s best movies in my opinion. It’s super fun tale based on the classic H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name. There’s a ton of awesome special fx and monsters a’ plenty in this weird ass horror classic. Well this kick ass movie also has one heckuva cover to go along with it showcasing the villain of the movie as he’s transforming into on of the best 80’s movie monsters of all time. The premise of the story is genius as we explore the mysterious pineal gland and quickly discover that just because you see empty space all around you it doesn’t mean it’s not filled with some truly nasty entities. I’ve always loved this cover, it’s a perfect representation of what made the vhs box art of the 1980’s so damn memorable! I think it may be time to dust off my copy of this one!
Halloween is right around the corner come October & you’ll have every right to watch as many horror movies as you want any damn night you want! So naturally being a huge horror hound myself I’m always on the hunt for some quality flicks to look forward to. So today I’ll give you a quick list of six movies (One short and five features) I think have a shot at delivering the goods in the horror department! I’m usually a tough cookie to please so hopefully my predictions will pan out here and we’ll soon be watching five cool horror movies….here goes nothing!
I’m going to start this little list off with an excellent trailer for an intriguing looking short horror film about a hair stylist with some seemingly sinister plans of her very own. I dig this idea for a horror story as I can’t really think of anything quite like it off the top of my head.
After discovering the trailer online by chance I checked out some more of the director, Jill Gevargizian’s short films and they pack an incredibly healthy dose of creep out horror in such small packages, considering most of them are under ten minutes in length . Here’s the trailer for The Stylist:
Beyond The Gates
Here’s another movie with a super duper unique story that I’m super excited about. Beyond the Gates follows a two brothers who reunite after their father’s passing at his old video store. Surrounded by a tons of video tapes they discover an old VHS horror board game and decide to check it out one evening. Of course this is no ordinary board game it’s got some serious evil attached to it.
Just the premise of this gets me excited, I’m a big fan of old VHS and as a kid spent a ton of time at the video store wandering through the horror section. I also recently acquired the old VHS board game “Nightmare” from 1990 so I feel like this movie really hits a sweet spot. The trailer looks great and plus we get Barbara Crampton as the spooky VHS gamemaster! Plus I totally dig the poster so sign me up!
You wanna have superhuman strength? You wanna fly high above buildings? You wanna have the indestructible claws of Wolverine? Well I’m gonna let you in on a little secret-you CAN have superhuman powers every night with a little commitment and perseverance. Now of course there is a slight catch, you’ve got to get serious about your dreams! But not just any old regular dream, learn to ‘Lucid Dream‘ every night. I’ve spent some of my nights transforming into The Incredible Hulk and smashing up whole cities, I’ve flown high in the sky with birds like Superman and I’ve also popped those adamantium claws Wolverine made famous from my knuckles. It was unbelievable, but it’s all true and I chose to do it all myself while fully conscious!
First though let me explain, ever since I was in my late teens I began to have lucid dreams and in the past year began to get more serious about it all. This here is the key to all this madness. So to anyone out there who doesn’t know what a lucid dream is let me give you a proper definition,
“A lucid dream is any dream during which the dreamer becomes aware that they are dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream, dream characters, narrative, and environment.”
Chances are you may have already had dreams like this in the past and didn’t quite realize it was something special or maybe you’ve never even realized this was possible? Remember ‘Dreamscape’ with Dennis Quaid? Or ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors’? Well it’s just like that except it’s easy to kick Freddy’s ass in a real lucid dream. And truth be told anyone can be a lucid dreamer all it takes is a little practice and focus. Also keep in mind a vivid dream is not a lucid dream. But a lucid dream is a vivid dream. Let me be clear here, once you experience your first real lucid dream you’re likely to never really be the same again.
Even more so, recently I’ve begun to focus on lucid dreaming a bit every day of my life. I’ve now begun to be able to control my dreams, create dream characters and really do anything that my mind can dream up quite often. Some of these lucid dreams are just as real as anything you can experience in the waking world, it all really depends on how seriously you want to delve into it. One thing I can guarantee is that it’s most definitely worth the effort. In many ways it might change the way you see life and reality altogether. Continue reading
The Insidious franchise is one I’ve been quite intrigued with for quite some time. I really enjoyed the concept of the first movie as it was one of the first horror flicks I’d seen which at it’s core used the OBE (out of body experience) or as many know it Astral Projection as the main plot device. A truly original basis for a “ghost story” and a topic in which the first had gotten me quite interested in researching. It was a breath of fresh air in Hollywood horror, a lean and ultra frightening movie that literally had me cringing in my movie seat. Add in the appearance of Lin Shaye (who’s been in countless movies from my childhood) in a similar role as the kind of Zelda Rubinstein character in Poltergeist for that little bit of nostalgia factor and you have a super fun fright film. However the second chapter didn’t impress, it was bland and a bit boring much like most big Hollywood horror sequels trying to quickly cash in on the success of the first film.
So I had quite low expectations for Insidious 3 and I’ve gotta say it actually turned out to be quite a good time! It’s simple story is about a young girl being terrorized by a weird ass ghost who wears a respirator on his face and leaves behind gross tar like footprints wherever he appears. This one’s focused a lot as well on Lin Shaye’s character and how she joined forces with the two younger paranormal investigators from the first flick.
The movie itself actually has some impressive acting as well when usual the third flick in a franchise can bring a cast of stale actors together for a mega bland script. This chapter also has a ton of scares around every corner. None of these are the kind where loud music blares and it’s nothing scary at all, like a cat jumping out of shelf or something. Nope every scare is actually something pretty gosh dang frightening. The only thing missing was exactly who and what the films creepy villain really was? I guess not everything can be explained right? This one also delves deeper into “The Further” the astral dimension where Shaye’s character really shines, it’s a pretty cool sight to see this old woman battling demon’s there with her dreamlike powers manifesting while she quietly sits in a chair in a deep trance in the “real” world.
Well plain and simple they succeeded in a pretty sweet little third entry in the franchise, it’s already got me excited to re-watch the original again. Check this one out if you’re looking for a nice creepy little movie that gets your hear a racing then this one is certain to do the trick!