Tagged: Best

Humans & Mushrooms MERGE in MATANGO!

Hey fungi enthusiasts! If you’re looking for something truly stange & spooky to check out this Halloween season (and I know you are) then look no further- It’s time to take a trip of the sea shores of Japan to an uncharted incredibly creepy deserted island in 1963’s psychotronic horror: Mantango! I’m going to admit I haven’t really explored a lot of 1960s horror especially from Japan. However I’m a huge sucker for “stranded on an island” movie concepts and this one looked like it hit all the right beats from the trailer I saw. Essentially it’s like a demented episode of Gilligan’s island and much of the movie actually does actually kinda feel just like it, in all the best ways.

Visionary director Ishiro Honda paints an incredibly atmospheric nightmare landscape on the open sea, with a band of tourists on a fancy yacht who find themselves in the midst of a violent sea storm. Tired and hungry they take refuge on on a mysterious exotic tropical island infested with strange colorful mushrooms. There’s something extremely unsettling yet whimsical about the whole endeavor as the crew struggles to get along and and also find food that’s safe to eat there.

The most of the characters here I found to be a bit on the bland side, but it really doesn’t matter much because the beautiful bizarre portrait on display here of the island itself ends up as the true star of the entire show. The quietness of the foggy remote island lends much to the impending dread in the thick air as soon our cast of characters find themselves with hungry bellies, drawn to consume the beautiful fungi. It’s like they’ve spent the week in the garden of Adam-and-Eve but instead of colorful fruits instead enticed by mind altering fungus!

Matango is somewhat of a slow burn, but it’s a really fun “trip” right from the get go. All of the set pieces from the on the ship and especially the island are truly a spectacle to behold. It really makes me miss real practical sets, as many of the movies now in the fantasy genre just resort to bad CGI green screen backdrops. Being made in 1963, everything has that special  earthy but put together carefully by hand look to it of that era, looking like some high budget theme park attraction, blanketed in roaming fogs.

There’s also some some legitimately creepy visuals to behold, every bit of Matango’s landscape looks like at any moment could come alive and grab you. As the tourists become more restless and frustrated it’s clear something sinister has taken hold of their psyche. And while the movie secondary moniker is ‘Attack of the Mushroom People’ I would say that’s a bit of a stretch here. There’s really Not a helluva of a lot of “attacking” going on until maybe the movie’s final 10 minutes, but it’s definitely worth the wait once the mushroom people do arrive.

Even by today’s standards these creatures look quite incredible, feeling like something materilized from a strange fever dream. Matango has definitely peaked my interest in Japanese movies from this era, this is a cool little mind bending bit of eye candy that’s that is most definitely worth a watch this Halloween season if you’re in the mood for something truly unique! I got it on blu ray recently from Far East Flix!

 

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….

 

Comic Cover of the Week: When Wolverine was still Bad Ass!

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been quite a while since I bought any new comic books from Marvel. Every few years I give it an honest shot, but time after time the same thing happens, They only remind me of what I so desperately miss from the eighties. The unique and edgy storytelling that Marvel actually brought to the table. Yeah and I miss when comic books looked and felt like comic books Rather than glossy computer scans on synthetic paper.Today’s cover is yet another example of an artist on top of his game, John Byrne’s cover for ‘Marvel Comics Presents’ #47: Wolverine! His eye for detail was always incredible and this damn cover shows his skill level at its peak! It also shows Wolverine when he was still a mysterious bad ass! There was nothing quite like Wolverine in the 1980s…

Hong Kong Horror Gems: 1985’s ‘Those Merry Souls’!

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..

The Glorious 1980’s MOTHER’S DAY Rap Song from MR.T!!!

So it’s Mother’s Day today! We’re all looking for something to send to our sweet moms and if you’re at a loss I’ve got the PERFECT remedy for the situation!

Back in the 1980’s everyone’s favorite bad ass with a heart of gold, Mr. T thankfully released a rap album and luckily for us it also inspired him to record and release a video for ‘Treat Your Mother Right’. Check this out and send it to your own mom today, but most important listen to Mr. T’s advice when it comes to that special lady today!

The ‘SHANG CHI’ Trailer From an Old School Fan’s Perspective!

Sometimes I feel like I’m just raining on everyone’s MCU parade! I really don’t want to be THAT guy. However as a fan of the comic book as a kid in the 1980’s I can say if you’d shown me the trailer with no mention of what I was seeing I’d probably wouldn’t have guessed it was Shang Chi “The Master of Kung Fu’ I’d grown up to love!

Comic Book Cover of the Week 1985: Before WandaVision!

WandaVision seems to be the talk of the town, whether you like it or not it’s Disney +’s MCU big kick off series and from what I’ve heard it’s quite daring in it’s storytelling. I still haven’t checked it out, something about it just hasn’t pulled me into setting aside time to give it a try. Maybe when all the episodes are out I’ll dive in. But before all this hype of WandaVision we had this nifty 12 part limed series with the famous superhero couple released waaay back in 1985. Maybe I’ll give this one a spin again before I dave into more Disney + schlock, I’ve got to admit the first issue sure did look promising from the cover alone don’t you think? If this was what had been marketed for the MCU series I’d be 100% down from the very damn start!

  

U-Dork Returns to the MOVIE MELT Podcast to talk 1987’s BLOODY NEW YEAR!

So I’d say one of the weirdest damn holiday horror flicks of all time has just got to be 1987’s ‘BLOODY NEW YEAR’! Have you seen it?

Well whether you have or not take a moment to check out the Movie Melt podcast as we talk about some sweet under appreciated odd ball movies and get straight into the new year with this classic slice of weird-o 80’s British horror film.

It’s easily one of the most surreal and ambitious micro budget movies I’ve seen a long time and it’s perfect for the holiday seasons, if you’ve seen it you likely know how bizarre this wild little flick truly is! Check out MOVIE MELT and this episode for Bloody New Year!

Totally Crazy 80’s Indonesian Horror Mayhem: Mystics in Bali!

Mystics in Bali’ from 1981 is truly one one wild and crazy Indonesian horror flick and just what I was craving during lockdown! My first viewing of this gem would have admittedly been better had I not known a damn thing about the plot, so if you’re reading this and are interested, I’d suggest checking it out blindly to get maximum enjoyment! So you’ve been warned…

Anyway I’m kinda new to the whole Indonesian cult cinema scene, but I can say so far everything I’ve checked out has been pretty top notch. Mystics in Bali is 100% weird and wild. It follows an American named Cathy who travels to Bali to do extensive research for her book on the mystic ways of the mysterious black magic cult of the Leyak. She meets the handsome Mahendra a local man with knowledge of the dark local magic who also happens to have connections to a woodland witch. He takes her out to the forest to her lair and the bizarre woman vows to expose the secrets of the dark arts and their rituals to Cathy. Excited to get this exclusive info for her book she continues to meet the witch, who in turn tricks her into becoming her evil minion, transforming her into a Penanggalan, a horrific flying head with internal organs hanging from her neck!! GAAAHHHH!

Things go from bad to worse, as Mahendra has fallen in love with Cathy by this point and has no other choice than to ask his uncle Machessea practitioner of magic himself, to help him stop the witch and save Cathy from the curse of the sinister Leyak. This leads to a pretty epic battle towards the end making the whole thing a such a bizarre slice of foreign 80’s horror, it’s most definitely essential viewing for genre fans! There’s a pretty intriguing story here to fuel the horror as well along with the sets and general locale of the film make this a special treat by just that alone. There’s also some low budget but fully ambitious special effects at play here that really amp up the general madness of this movie. Also prevalent are a few relatively shocking moments here that are unlike anything I’ve personally ever seen before in a horror flick.

Some “must see” sequences that will stick with fans of the genre and leave you scratching your head in disbelief! The creature Cathy becomes is clearly the main attraction here and surely is one of the freakiest movie monsters I’ve seen in some time. The final showdown is a pretty great time as well, sure it’s a clunky battle, but it’s a ton of fun to behold. It’s no wonder that this movie was done by the same director, H. Tjut Djalil who also brought us the mega bonkers ‘Lady terminator’ which is def worth tracking down! I’ve also heard that his movie ‘Dangerous Seductress’ is quite a wild gem as well. So..Mystics in Bali is a true oddball, one of a kind horror flick and leads me further down the path of an era of movies other countries were producing during the 80’s that rival some of the best the USA had to offer-Check it out! 

VHS Verdict: ‘The Midnight Hour’ is a Full Dose of Sweet 80’s Halloween Nostalgia!

Are you looking for the perfect movie to watch this Halloween that’s got a little bit of everything for everyone? Well I’d highly recommend a little gem from 1985 called ‘The Midnight Hour’. This was originally aired on ABC back in the day as a made for TV movie. That being said it feels much more like a theatrical production, with genuinely spooky sets and some pretty sweet & spooky special fx. Imagine a whole movie with the look and feel of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and I must mention the music here’s also perfectly curated to the Halloween season at hand. One of the best sequences involves The Smiths “How Soon is Now” being the soundtrack to a truly uniquely executed vampire attack, it’s a ton of fun. The premise is nice and simple too, when a gang of teenage Halloween party goers sneak into a local spooky costume shop where they find a strange scroll made of human skin. When opening it and reading it aloud it revives a 300-year-old witch and a horde of ghouls, vampires & werewolves who head off into town to raise some mischeif and do a little holiday partying to boot!

There’s some great casting, we get some totally sweet 80’s personalities, the likes of LeVar Burton, Shari Belafonte, Peter Deluise & Kurtwood Smith among other super recognizable tv stars of the era. The whole thing is just so innocently charming, while still at times hitting some surprisingly darker tones. It’s really got something for everyone here, a bit of genuine horror, teen comedy (with some rather riske’ undertones for a tv movie), nostalic music, even a totally original 80’s song & dance number by Shari Belafonte called “Get Dead” to keep the party going all the way to midnight. There’s even a bit of a teenage love story at play here as well that features a ghostly teenage girl from the 1950’s who’s revived as well by the creepy incantation who roams the streets looking for love.

The Midnight Hour was directed by Jack Bender who went on to direct ‘Child’s Play 3’ (and a few other interesting made for tv movies as well) and it’s clear here he’s already got a penchant for horror. So if you’re looking for something totally nostalgic and a ton of halloween fun without getting too gory or scary, look no further, The Midnight Hour is a great opener for a double feature movie night. A warm up for some real scares of whatever you choose to fully creep out those who dare to stick around!