Last nite I picked up quite an interesting new VHS release at Portland Oregon’s Tanker Tape Swap, a great event where you can have drinks a’ plenty while doing some serious rare retro movie shopping! Black Wideo, a new Portland based VHS label was there with their first release, the 1989 oddball, no budget, shot on video, long lost horror comedy ‘Executioner: The Musical’.
One thing I’ve always adored is the amazing cover art from vhs tapes of the 80’s and ‘Executioner: The Musical’ surely delivers that tradition with it’s stunning cover, bbq’d burgers and grilled eyeballs anyone? If I didn’t know better I’d have assumed this tape was released in the 80’s and someone just unearthed a big box of deadstock vhs. Anyway this morning before work I popped this sucker into my vcr (the movie’s only 25 minutes long and perfect for breakfast viewing) and now I’ve got it’s theme song stuck firmly in my brain still, hours later. What we’ve got here is a charming little slice of lost 80’s video nostalgia. The simple plot for this: there’s a weird singing hooded executioner dude on the loose and his presence in the city’s got the suburban teens undie’s in a total bundle. It’s NOT safe anymore to walk the streets and even worse the teenagers aren’t able to ‘party hardy’ like they used to. It seems the killer’s favorite time to strike, when a ‘killer’ party is going down!
One of the my favorite parts of this one is the bad boy greaser teen character, who’s down right P.O.’d that he can’t party. I mean he’s reeeeally upset about it, so damn much so that he leads the rest of his pals (who’re a bit like rejects from a ‘Breakfast Club’ audition) into a full on ridiculously awesome numbskull “pop song” about how bad they wanna throw a damn party, immediately. Even though the music here’s pretty much a guy and his acoustic guitar (with some help from his friends at times), the songs are oddly catchy, albeit 100% idiotic. I mean that in a good way and being that the short film is from the late 80’s you get some sweet nostalgic fashion choices and fully over the top teen stereotypes on display (and for some reason spotting vintage Doritos bags in movies always seem to get me quite excited-YUM!) . Like the rich kid with his boat shoes, no socks, short shorts & English accent, the stoner druggie dude & the classic nerd with the taped glasses are all on display and ready to get sliced up and even “sing” some songs.
‘Executioner: The Musical’ may not be for everyone, but if you dig weird stuff from the 80’s and low budget oddities you’re likely to find something quite endearing about it. For horror fans there’s enough red kool-aid and corn syrupy blood to go around & a syringe to the skull as well! With such a short run time it’s hardly a commitment & it’s the perfect opener for a night of trashy retro horror movies. Check out Black Wideo for a copy, it seems they’ve got plans to release more from the director, Scott Grenke’s archive of lost films! Beware though, the film’s theme song “Friendly Killer” just might get stuck in your head for far longer than you ever thought possible!
Here’s a pretty neat little modern throwback horror movie I took a chance on recently that turned out be quite a bit of fun. ‘Book of Monsters‘ is a low budget British creature feature that clearly makes it’s best attempt to harken back to the gory glory days of 80’s horror flicks like ‘Evil Dead 2’ & ‘Night of the Creeps’. It takes place on the main character, Sophie’s 18th birthday, when she reluctantly decides to throw a birthday party at her house. Her and her two friends are hardly the cool kids in school and aren’t even sure anyone will actually show up. To their surprise the birthday bash attracts a whole crew of unruly teens and even a few of the school bullies. Well it doesn’t take long before some weird supernatural shit goes down due to meddling with a necronomicon type of book. A full on bloodbath occurs when some creatures emerge from another dimension, invade her house and begin to slaughter the rowdy party guests. Sophie and her pals must band together to fend off the attack and protect their classmates from monster carnage.
It’s a simple story to follow and with a short run time of 84 minutes it’s a perfect party movie (literally) to watch on a Saturday nite with a gang of old school horror fans. One of it’s strongest parts is the protagonist Sophie, who’s a totally likable heroine who struggles with self esteem, teenage sexuality and the strange events of her past which tie into the supernatural events that occur. She’s also one of the only gay horror hero’s I can really recall seeing and they present this aspect of her character in a way that doesn’t feel fully forced into the narrative. Sure we got some bigoted bullies and typical teen jerks but those were always prevalent in the 80’s teen horror movies that likely inspired this one.
Now onto the horror aspect of things, though I liked the movie, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit tired of the ‘evil book/necronomicon’ angle of things, it feels pretty played out and I kind of wish they’d have used a different reasoning for the summoning of the monsters. Hardly a complaint really as once things get going here it’s pretty fun & action packed. The monster & gore effects are pretty ambitious for the most part. For the budget they had to work with they deliver a fair share of cool practical fx work avoiding for the most part cgi entirely (if my memory serves me correctly). The monster designs are pretty good too, one looks a bit like it was ripped out of M. Knight Shyamalan’s the village, one’s like a standard slasher dude and the other is kind of like a “Natasha Henstridge” Species/cenobite type-o creature. They all do a decent amount of gory, goopy damage too & it’s all executed in a fairly cartoonish way so it could easily be digested by the light weight horror fans. Oh yeah some evil garden gnomes are thrown in as well, that with a little more budget could have been far more crowd pleasing- but still an “A” for effort. There’s lots of chainsaws and general ass kicking done by the three female leads and even though most Hollywood blockbusters are trying to currently shoehorn girl power into movies ‘Book of Monsters’ does it in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like it’s blatantly pushing some agenda for brownie points.
If ‘Book of Monsters‘ had been released in 1987 it’d have been a bonafide cult classic, it’s a nice switch from all the shoddy CGI & digital blood of modern horror movies. It leaves the door open for a sequel and I think if it gets one with more cash behind it, there’s a possibility the second installment could very well end up as a modern day cult classic. For the meantime though I think the best crowd for ‘Book of Monsters’ are those who miss the glory days of 1980’s schlock, goofy gore & teen horror flicks!
Ok let me clarify my statement above, I’ve got my fingers totally crossed that ‘Ghostbusters 3’ indeed happens, but it seems like us Ghostbusters fans have been teased with the idea of the damn sequel movie happening for far too long. Over the years it’s been a tug of war battle to get this movie made, it’s happening, then it’s not, then it is, then Bill Murray isn’t into it, then Murray is into it but only as a ghost, then instead we get an all female cast movie instead, then the female cast one is getting a sequel, then it’s not, now Ghostbusters 3 is back in development- blah blah blah. Yeah maybe it’s just me but this whole Ghostbusters thing has gotten a bit tiring.
Anyway that all being said, I really DO want part 3 dammit!! I just don’t want to be jerked around, either do it or don’t. Maybe you heard just a day or so ago that Dan Aykroyd had some interesting news that came out of the blue about the third installment to the original story while being interviewed by Dan Rather, he stated “There is a possibility of a reunion with the three remaining Ghostbusters… It’s being written right now, I think Billy will come. The story’s so good. Even if he plays a ghost” the actor said. This certainly gets me excited once again about seeing the remaining characters reunite to take down some ghosts but I can’t help but wonder if this is all just simply more talk. With the passing of Harold Ramis I figured it was truly the last nail in the coffin for a sequel to ever see the light of day. He went on further saying “I think we got a story that’s gonna work. It’s being written by a really good filmmaker, can’t say the names, but they’re a good team, they’re making an effort to bring back all the spirit and the emotion of the first two movies, and then take it into the 21st century with a vernacular that’s needed today to get it a crossed.”
However it seems Dan Aykroyd is back at it again, trying to gather some steam behind the proposed third movie. I really do wonder if Murray would ever truly get on board? I think it’s likely the question of just how good IS the current ‘Ghostbusters 3’ script? I’m fairly certain people would indeed be pretty excited for an official sequel and I think if Bill Murray isn’t down with it they should just do it anyway with Ernie Hudson and Aykroyd in their iconic roles. Perhaps they’re retired from ghost busting as paranormal phenomenon hasn’t been occurring since the events of the second movie? What happens though when strange things begin to happen again, perhaps the two, down on their luck “has beens” get a second chance to shine? Perhaps they’ll need a couple new recruits to help them? There’s most definitely a story there worth exploring and I really do hope Aykroyd can back up his claims and get a REAL sequel green lit. Of course if they could snag Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis to star as well that’d be a true treat for fans. I’m rooting for Dan Aykroyd to make this happen-what do you think?
So yesterday I checked out the new Halloween (H40, I’ll call it) movie everyone has been ranting and raving about, as a long time fan of the franchise I can say it was a pretty damn well done sequel. It did in a way bring back memories of eagerly heading into the theater 20 years ago for basically the same event, Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode facing off against her long time nemesis Michael Myers for ‘Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later’. I remember how excited I was back in 1998 seeing this legendary face off happen on the big screen and it left me pondering yesterday, which was a better film?
So first off Jamie Lee Curtis coming back AGAIN was a very special treat! Hell yeah, she did a great job as Laurie Strode and the nostalgia was super high once again seeing her as the iconic final girl. She truly brought firey emotion to film and completely sold her desperation and paranoia in awaiting the return of the Michael Myers. She also was essentially a total Sarah Connors type character, a full on badass waiting for the chance now to finally destroy her nemesis, equipped with guns galore and a crazy ass fortress filled with traps as her home. ‘Halloween: T2’. You could really feel the final battle brewing and the thick tension in the air from the get go. Quite a different character than in H20, here she’s eagerly awaiting the chance to kill Myers rather than hide from him.
Rather than a son this time around she had her daughter, who’d she spent most of her childhood training to use guns and survive an inevitable confrontation with Michael she was certain would someday occur. Her daughter now resentful of her intense upbringing has a daughter of her own, Laurie’s granddaughter, whom she’d really like to distance from her supposedly wacko overreacting final girl of a mom. Meanwhile Michael who’s been locked up for 40 years escapes and goes on a killing rampage. So there you have it in a nutshell story wise at least..
It also had a stunning new score from the master who started it all, John Carpenter. That definitely gave it the feel of nostalgia and set the mood quite well for the most part. It did however make me wonder a few times though, why not just have Carpenter get in the director’s chair as well? David Gordon Green did a decent job directing but his resume is a bit perplexing, ‘Pineapple Express’ being his most notable amongst a trove of weird unpopular rom coms. H20’s director Steve Miner directed genre favorites ‘Friday The 13th’ Parts 2&3, ‘House’ from 1986, Warlock (1989) and was even second unit director on the cult classic ‘Night of the Creeps’. Though H40 was a pretty solid effort overall there’s still a part of me that thinks just maybe H20 may have been a better end to the saga? Am I crazy?! I thought the 2018 version was darker in tone, for the most part, except when there’s Danny Mcbride comedy oddly inserted throughout which seemed a little off most of the time. I do remember H20 had some of odd comedy as well with LL COOL J wisecrackin’ and a general sort of a Scream-esque style to the whole experience. I thought the kill scenes here were pretty decent, most being done off screen, only seeing the end result mostly and one cgi knife kill that did indeed kinda bother me. I’d say in the inventive kill department though Halloween 2018 didn’t bring a lot new to the table. Continue reading
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.
Ok so here’s an interesting clip! You remember that old Star Wars holiday special that George Lucas wants to pretend never happened? Well here’s another bizarre moment in retro Star Wars history, all the way back in 1980 Hamill made an appearance on German television making a cameo on a musical Star Wars themed variety show, recently Hamill shared the video and commented on it also saying “I remember not wanting to wear a gold jumpsuit like a rejected member of ABBA or if I could memorize dialogue in a foreign language-but thought “Who cares? No one outside of Germany will ever see this!” Thanks to the internet-NOTHING EVER GOES AWAY. Who knew?”
I’ve never seen this before but I’ll say it’s quite a treat for any true fan of the beloved series. In case you missed this one here it is in all of it’s glory!
It seems our ol’ pal Ash Williams might be in need of our help, Season 3 of ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ just recently kicked off & it seems there’s a serious possibility that the show may not be renewed for ‘Season 4’ by Starz. The show is one of the most pirated out there meaning all of us Evil Dead fans haven’t really been supporting the return of Bruce Campbell in the way he’d hoped we would. I’m fully up to date having just finished watching the most current episode of season 3. I’ve at the moment got a free 7 day trial for Starz, that’ll be over in a couple days and I’m planning on getting a membership at least for a month to watch the rest of the show. I figure $8.99 is way more than worth it for rest of the season, besides I spend more than that to see a movie at the theaters usually for a movie that wasn’t that all that good. So if you’re a real fan of the ‘Evil Dead’ franchise it just might be time to show up for real, cough up 9 bux and support Ash in his quest to stomp out evil!
Now onto season 3 thus far, upon watching the first episode, it felt a bit too familiar to season 2, Ash is now the hero of his small home town, everything seems to be peachy for him again and his companions (starting off a bit too much like the “Jacksonville paradise” season 2 first episode). Of course the Necronomicon appears again, someone recites it’s passages and ‘Deadites’ are back raising hell for the small quaint town. My only initial gripe was that we’re spending yet another season in Ash’s hometown, at least for now & I’d really have liked for Ash and his crew to have been sucked into another time warp similar to ‘Army of Darkness’ to really mix things up. However it was apparent my small gripe would soon be totally erased by just how bat shit crazy and fun everything quickly escalated to. So far season three just might be the best of them all, every episode delivers the wild and crazy gore, monsters & special fx fans have been clamoring for all these years. Continue reading