VHS Verdict: The 1990s Fairy Tale “Horror” of RUMPELSTILTSKIN!
I saw ‘Leprechaun’ IN the theater back in ’93, my girlfriend and I were the ONLY ones in the entire theater! Of course I had a damn good time and believe that ‘Leprechaun’ sort of kick-started a little mini genre of “fairytale horror” in the 1990s. While the director of the original Leprechaun also made another movie a few years later 1995 Rumpelstiltskin! Yep Mark Jones the writer and director of the ’93 cult classic also gave the a similar treatment to this weird little one without the “success” of the Warwick Davis fronted franchise.
Well last night I Pulled out my cool promotional copy of the VHS along with my projector, some friends, drinks and checked it out on the “big” screen. In all honesty I’m not entirely sure that I’ve ever really seen this movie before (even though I could have sworn that I had). Nonetheless Rumpelstiltskin delivered the same ridiculous goods in the same fashion as the original Leprechaun. The best way to describe this one would be a sort of “Terminator style” road chase movie- but instead of an imposing hulking cyborg you get a gimpy numb-nut fairy tale villain, who cracks ridiculous one liners while he chases a woman down trying to steal her baby to suck it’s soul!
In other words it’s a god damn good time! Our main mischievous villain here, Rumpelstiltskin, looks like he was plucked right out of Stephen King’s horror anthology ‘Cat’s Eye’. He wakes up from a 1000 year slumber and dropped into the 1990s. This all after being turned into a small stone sculpture after a group of villagers hunt him down after he steals one of their babies. You might think that this guy would have a hard time navigating the ’90s, but quite the opposite. Rumpelstiltskin seems to be quite adept in nearly everything he tries, Whether it’s riding a Harley or driving a stick shift semi truck- ‘ol ‘Rumpy can do it! The funny thing is he comes across more like a character that might appear in ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ than a wicked soul sucking goblin!
It’s your fairly standard “being chased through the countryside road trip” horror formula (which I FUCKING love)- but it definitely does have a few really fun tricks up its dirty little sleeve. Our main character is a widowed single mom (Kim Johnston Ulrich) with a baby of course and some of this actually plays out a bit like a “Sex in the City” episode. She hangs out with her horny female friends, drinks wine and tries to navigate being single in the era with a baby…the last thing she needs is THIS weirdo throwing a wrench into being a mom!
There’s definitely a certain degree of unpredictability to some the characters we’re introduced to which makes this an even more interesting watch. Particularly when we’re introduced to a sleazy, cheezy, sexist TV host, who comes across a bit like a second rate Howard Stern. The type of character you won’t be seeing “rise to the occasion” in any movie coming out in 2023 that’s for sure.
However I’m a sucker for an unlikely pairing of characters ‘on the run’ from true danger in horror movies and this one really BRINGS it. You’re never quite sure who’s going to suffer the consequences from an encounter with ol’ Rumpy! If you’re a fan of the original ‘Leprechaun’ there’s definitely a lot right here to love, Some cool make up effects, pretty sweet action sequences, explosions and like Warwick Davis’s character, some great idiotically witty banter! Rumpelstiltskin is prime candidate for a sweet new blu ray. It’s really long overdue that he gets a cult following and the true recognition he deserves-this is a really sweet totally 90s horror comedy, jam packed with ridiculous fashion of the time and characters you’re likely not to see anytime soon on the big or small screen. A great example that the 90s indeed does have some horror gems hidden within the decade! Track down this weird little fairy tale & turn off your brain to thoroughly enjoy the ride..
The Movie Melt Podcast Encounters ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS!!
I went back on to the MOVIE MELT PODCAST and had a serious close encounter with Richard Elfman’s (older brother of Danny Elfman) latest wacky comedy ‘ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS’! Richard has been making movies since 1980 and this is only my second feature of his I’ve seen, the first being 1994’s “horror” comedy ‘Shrunken Heads’. I can say though I have seen the music video he directed for his bro Danny’s band Oingo Boingo!
In this zany story an out-of-work actor stumbles upon a key to the universe that emerges directly out of his butt. Things in his life change quickly when he that he realizes there’s an intergalactic war between clowns and aliens. I guess the rest of the cast are the “geeks”? He’s stuck in the middle of a “wild” conspiracy and he’s got to get to the bottom of this global threat. It’s a weird one, with a touch of “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” and a dash of John Waters.
Plus we talk about movies you need to be watching and there’s also a ‘battle of the bands’ that will blow your mind! Is Richard Elfman my new fave director?! Has a modern comedy FINALLY delivered the goods? Is this movie a stroke of GENIUS or one BIG lame flat deflated joke? CHECK OUT THE EPISODE RIGHT HERE!! Oh yeah and the FULL movie is on Youtube or you can get the blu ray from MVD:
RIP Marvel’s MODOK: The FINAL Nail in the MCU Coffin for Me!
The Disney MCU just continues to think MODOK is so damn funny, but us comic book fans haven’t been laughing! You bet I’ve seen the latest take on MODOK from the new MCU ‘Ant-man: Quantumania’ and it’s worse than I’d ever imagined possible. They again blow the chance to make an awesome villain into “live action”. The MCU always had a problem in my opinion bringing classic villains from the comic books onto the big screen. However I’ve really never seen a more pathetic attempt than THIS. Perhaps things have gotten considerably worse in the “Disney” MCU phase? It certainly seems so to me. I’ve found myself over the last couple years being less and less engaged in the whole shebang. I haven’t seen the last three theatrical releases and I’ve barely been able to make it through any of the Disney Plus streaming shows. Whatever the formula is, I’m no longer interested. This MODOK controversy seals the deal. The MCU………OVER IT! Let’s compare the MCU “MODOK” to the comic book version…
Why does everything in the MCU now seem like it’s some snarky joke? The problem is, whatever snarky comedy they once had has definitely worn out it’s welcome. Instead of giving us the truly classic and bizarre version of one of Marvel Comic’s most terrifying weirdo supervillains, we got another pathetic attempt at a joke.
MODOK could have been a vile, unsettling freak of a villain one that’s creepy and threatening and can instill true fear into characters like The Abomination and go one on one with The Hulk.
I’m so burnt out on this sort of factory filmmaking and pumped off the assembly line MCU / Disney Plus streaming “content”. But the funny thing is I never imagined MODOK would be the final nail in the coffin, at least for me. It’s really strange to me as well because even more recently in the comic books they portrayed the character in quite a revolting, serious way as a real threatening villain. But of course recently they also decided at some point to make a ridiculous stop motion animation series about the character as well, further pushing the joke they seem to think it’s so funny that is MODOK. That’s another thing with the current MCU they think they are way more funny than they actually are in reality. Here below is a more modern portrayal is totally on point and I wish they would’ve just stuck with something like this, but hey everything is now apparently a snarky super funny joke!
I’ll take my 80’s comic books for another re-read and call it a day!
Blu Review: Jet Li & His MOM Kick Major Butt in THE LEGEND of Fong Sai Yuk!
So I recently gave an long overdue rewatch to ‘The Expendables 2’, as I’ve been pretty curious how the film would hold up over a decade after its initial release. I’m happy to report that yes, it’s still a TON of fun with it’s gigantic bloated cast of classic action heroes. One who really stood out as part of The Expendables cast was Jet Li, even though he really only appears in the wild opening sequence, it’s clear why he was put on the roster in the first installment: he’s one of the greatest action stars to ever grace the big screen! That really sparked an interest for me once again in Li’s earlier work. This time particularly his Hong Kong film career, which I’ve had a bit of a blind spot about for far too long. So I was able to get a copy of a sweet new double feature from Ronin Flix set to drop on Valentine’s Day! The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk 1 & 2 delivered what I suspected I might’ve been missing, Jet Li at his absolute BEST.
As a first time watch I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, except that there’d likely be some impressive martial arts action on hand at the very least. However what The Legend delivered to me was so much more. As a big fan of classic Hong Kong cinema, it really made me a little embarrassed that I wasn’t a bigger fan of Li’s earlier work. First off when I saw it was directed by Corey Yuen, I had a feeling I was probably in for something quite special as he’s responsible for two of my all time fave 80s Hong Kong action bangers ‘Yes Madam!’ featuring Cynthia Rothrock and Michele Yeoh (who’s getting a A LOT of love lately) as well as ‘Righting Wrongs’ with Rothrock again and my personal fave critically underrated icon Yuen Biao.
I’m not sure how or why 1993’s ‘The Legend‘ went under my radar for so long, but I’m happy it did, because I got to watch it for the first time last night. It at first appears almost like it’s going to be a more serious period piece. What it really is though is a non-stop roller coaster of some of the most inventive kung fu action melded with truly charming characters & just the right amount of comedy to keep you smiling ear to ear.
In a nutshell Jet Li stars as Fong Sai Yuk, kung fu expert extraordinaire and just an all around giant ball of charisma. He falls for a rich local mechant’s daughter while competing in a wild sort of “track and field” tournament & also comes to a stunning revelation that his parents are connected directly to the Red Lotus Flower Society, group of rebels with plans to overthrow the evil emperor. Thing go way off the rails, as you might imagine and soon Fong is teaming up with his family to enforce some ass kickin’ justice for all enslaved by the evil empire.
Of course Li finds more zany mischief to get into along the way, resulting in one of my favorite action sequences of the entire movie: a tournament to win the hand of the local rich merchants beautiful daughter in marriage. Just beat his top female bad ass in combat on a huge wooden monkey bar like structure set high above the eager crowd of townsfolk. This is a hilariously entertaining epic duel, as the main objective is to knock your opponent to the ground below, but of course nothing is that simple. Li and his female opponent use every tactic to stay above ground, running across the crowd’s heads and displaying jaw dropping acrobatics.
Even better is Fong’s mom enters the tournament as well, disguised as a man and the results equal more high jinx of the wildest order. The chemistry of Fong and his mother is pretty kinetic too, a truly shining example of tight knit family dynamics on display in all the best & sweetest ways possible-oh and yes his mom is just as talented at kicking butt as he is. In fact it’s quite refreshing seeing just how awesome the women are in this movie, being fully incorporated into all the crazy action at times even more so than the guys.
What makes ‘The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk’ work so well for me is the perfect balance of comedy, action, high stakes & romance that are blended into a period piece. At times Chinese period pieces can be something I might have to force myself to sit down and watch. This though is pure pulpy adventure and luckily it’s not filled with any annoying, often offensive, slapstick “comedy” which can also bog down some otherwise excellent Hong Kong productions. Both Films on the disc have a good lean runtime too around 90 minutes, some period pieces can be a bit long, but this one’s a perfect party actioner. It’s no wonder why Jet Li rose to such acclaim as an international/American action star. I hope Sly Stallone realizes just how lucky he was to have snagged Li for his Expendables movies.
The blu ray from Ronin Flix looks and sounds great as well plus the English dub is really pretty well done. It also features the sequel, also released apparently in 1993 as well. It features a cool interview with Corey Yuen & also with the writer Jeff Lau. All in all if you’re looking for a wild, funny, action packed adventure with a ton of charisma, heart & incredible set pieces then you just can’t go wrong with The Legend of Fong Saw Yuk! A true martial arts bonanza I had the pleasure of viewing 30 years after it’s release for the very first time!
‘Evil Dead Rise’ Trailer Feels Like a ‘Conjuring’ Spin-off?!
There’s a lot of hype lately around the return of the “EVIL DEAD” franchise with Evil Dead Rise and personally I’m just not feeling the heat so far. Sure it’s kinda neat to see the classic Necronomicon book again onscreen, but at least in the trailer, that’s about the only thing that’s feeling “Evil Dead” about the whole affair in my opinion.
When I saw the poster, the first thing that came to mind wasn’t the classic franchise, it really looked eerily similar to the 2022 horror film “SMILE’. For a moment I thought it WAS perhaps a SMILE spin-off being announced.
In fact if you took out the Necronomicon from the trailer I’d have honestly thought this film was a James Wan produced spin-off sequel set in his “Conjuring” universe. Or like a sequel to ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ or something. And don’t get me wrong, I like James Wan’s movies but Evil Dead Rises doesn’t do anything at least in the trailer to separate itself from the current horror trends-and why would it? It looks like another Blumhouse film (maybe it is?) and to me seems almost like a pointless franchise reboot that’ll probably be forgotten fast in a sea of 2023 similarly stylized corporate Hollywood horror films. Where’s the flavor of the original films?
I often wonder if Hollywood is even capable of making a movie that looks and feels like something like the original Evil Dead films? Everything looks too slick, I think someone needs to step in and dial things back, legions of fans would truly flip out if they could replicate the real atmosphere of the the originals, this ain’t it. That’s not to say I won’t eat my words, perhaps Evil Dead Rise will be the BEST of all Evil Dead films?
I think fans deserve something different if you’re really going for an honest attempt to revitalize Evil Dead. I’d rather have a movie sequel to ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ Season 3 personally. I’d much rather have a sequel in tone to Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness, that feels really like part of the old franchise. It could even be more in tone with the 1981 OG film, set in the 80s with more of a classic look?
Or follow Pablo and Kelly from Ash vs Evil Dead if we really want to steer clear of Ash. I think there’s likely a much better way to transition Evil Dead back onto the big screen and so far this seems like a mis-step.
I’m going to see it and I hope I’m proved wrong but it all just looks and feels too familiar to the modern horror films of the last few years. I like modern horror, but if you’re going to try to bust out a classic franchise again you’ve got to capture what made it so special to begin with…
‘VIOLENT NIGHT’: A Killer Santa You Can Really Root For!
As far as modern holiday horror goes there’s a clear over abundance of yuletide garbage out there being mass produced as of the last 10 years. I don’t know what triggered it but it seems every year the floodgates open with a slew of sub par cinematic Christmas sludge. Well this year we’ve got a killer Santa Claus movie, but this time with a Kris Kringle that you can really get behind with some holiday cheer!
From director Tommy Wirkola, who helmed the highly entertaining “Dead Snow” franchise and also the equally enjoyable ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’. ‘Violent Night’ is easily just as fun as his previous films, part Die Hard, part Home Alone with a little bit of Santa’s Slay thrown into the mix for good measure. We get the real deal Santa Claus who’s feeling a bit down on his luck getting thrown into a truly “violent night”. He’s forced to use his unique supernatural yuletide abilities to defend a wealthy family trapped in their mansion from a gang of vicious criminals led by John Leguizamo!
Santa though has gotta sober up quickly, as he spent most of the evening drinking at a dive bar rather than delivering presents to kids on his “nice” list this Christmas eve. However all the action doesn’t necessarily fall just on Santa’s shoulders, we also have a little girl named Trudy played by Leah Brady who’s hell bent on helping Santa and her family annihilate the greedy criminals as well from inside the mansion.
That’s where the “Home Alone” aspect of this film really takes shape and boy does it deliver some bloody boobie traps! Brady is totally charming in the role and really helps make this little adventure memorable. Like much the director’s previous work this one is equal part comedy as well as action while managing to not let anything slip into a total farce. Yes, there’s plenty of legitimate thrills to be had here and really fun colorful characters that really help drive this film. John Leguizamo shines as the big baddie and it’s been soooo long since I’ve seen him, his presence was truly a welcome addition to the mayhem. David Harbour though steals the show as Santa Claus, I’ve always felt he has a special onscreen charisma and it really continues to shine here in the role. There’s also some pretty neat little twists and turns in the plot, some concerning Santa himself that makes for a uniquely intriguing back story to jolly ol’ elf.
What was most surprising was the inclusion of Beverly D’Angelo (of Christmas Vacation fame), who for the 1st quarter of the movie I was left scratching my head trying to figure out where I’d recognized her from? It’s been so long since I’ve seen her in anything and she does look quite different these days. It’s quite nice to see some of these actors in a major motion picture this holiday season!
The action sequences are also really well choreographed and filled with some pretty over the top gore, Violent Night definitely doesn’t skimp on the red stuff! There’s a lot to love here and the movie also showcases a fair amount of heartfelt family holiday drama, it’s not simply just another hack and slash.
I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen and I definithey will be returning to it next year if not maybe one more time in the theater this year! Violent Night is THE wild holiday flick of 2022, Don’t snooze on this one!
1980s Cine-MAGIC From Japan: The STARDUST BROTHERS!
I’m willing to bet you’re just like me and never heard of this near “forgotten ’til now” 80s gem from Japan: The Legend of The Stardust Brothers! This incredible movie from 1985 is most definitely one of the most unique oddities I’ve stumbled upon in quite sometime. An incredibly ambitious musical gem, packed with practical effects and eighties fashion that will likely knock your neon socks right off!
It tells the tale of two struggling rival musicians: one a rowdy punk rocker and the other an egotistical wanna be popstar who meet a mysterious man while sharing the same bill at a seedy night club. He offers them the contract of a lifetime, claiming that within one week, if they follow all the rules, the two of them will be rocketed to full blown pop super stardom. That is as long as they join forces, from that point on become The Stardust Brothers and tell the world they are indeed real bonafide brothers.
Now admittedly I’m not a real big fan of musicals, there’s only a few that I really love (Popeye, The Wizard of Oz & Little Shop of Horrors immediately come to mind). However this one has now EASILY made the list as a must watch and it’s something I’ll be watching over and over again. Essentially it’s the wildly unpredictable story of the bizarre rise and fall of this pop duo. It’s firmly glued together with a series of incredible little musical vignettes that are a visual and sonic feast.
A sweet mixture of punk rock, powerpop & some cool new wave numbers, connecting a series of incredibly ambitious music videos within one insane narrative. There are touches of the supernatural as well as a ton of amazing special effects, stop motion & practical monster effects that really impress, especially if your a fan of the 80s. It’s also filled to the brim with some of the best Japanese fashion of the era to go along with the catchy songs. As I write this, their theme song is still stuck firmly in my brain. I’d love to get my hands on some vinyl of the soundtrack. Aside from the cool music, luckily it’s got a pretty unique story that blends elements of scifi, horror and even a bit of romance. It’s unexpected twists and turns deliver a frenetic, action packed finale that will leave you pondering the events of the entire film. Its all done with a heroic dose of heart too.
Just how far do you really go to live the life of a superstar without any of the hard work required to get to the top? The Stardust Bros go the distance and the musical journey is definitely a wacky one worth taking. Apparently director Makoto Tezuka tried to catch lightning in a bottle a few years ago by producing a direct sequel, but after doing a little poking around it doesn’t seem like he was quite to able to recreate the neon electromagnetic magic of the first.
In the meantime I highly recommend picking this one up on a newly released blu ray from SRS Cinema. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is packed with pure charisma, tons of vibrant youthful energy and shows you exactly how inventive some directors in the 1980s were in Japan with a limited budget! Don’t sleep on this one!
The Russo Brothers Next MCU Project: ‘THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS’?!
I have been pushing here on Universal Dork for quite some time to get an MCU movie or series about the mighty Great Lakes Avengers! It’s bummed me out cuz its seemed that over the years no one gave a damn about my bold ideas for this these “D-List” classic Marvel characters. But maybe just MAYBE, a couple people were indeed listening?!
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Russo Brothers, who crafted some of the best films in the MCU (The Winter Soldier/Infinity War/Endgame), might have just ran across this little p-brain blog, or at the very least, you know what they say, great minds think alike! In case you’ve never heard of the Great Lakes Avengers they first made their appearance in the late 1980s in the West Coast Avengers #46. A unique comedic gang of superheroes from the “cheese state” of Wisconsin. They’ve had some truly ridiculous adventures over the years and have even shared the stage with Deadpool himself. I’ve always maintained that this crew of miscreants would make for a great cinematic comedy especially the their origin story, portrayed in perfection in the Dan Slott series ‘GLA: Misassembled’ from 2005. It’d surely make for a great rough draft for a for a live action series.
They were recently asked about someday returning soon to the MCU and had this to say: The Russo Brothers answered: “Whatever we say, we’re going to get asked about it 100 times over the next week. So let’s pick the Great Lakes Avengers. Or the story of Cheese-Man!”
So a lot of people might think this doesn’t mean a damn thing, mentioning it now, what’s the fuss right? They were just jokin’ around? Well the funny thing is this isn’t the first time they name dropped The GLA, they also brought up the d-list super team in 2018 as well. Check it out.
They clearly know the Great Lakes Avengers would make for one helluva funny and unique comic book streaming series. The time is definitely now to bring this show to life as at the current moment. The Avengers have ceased to exist in MCU in any real capacity, leading the perfect moment for this band of Midwest America’s Misfits to take up the mantle in a hilarious way. I think it would be a riot to see this gang of superheroes in their original costumes too, leave aside all of the fancy kevlar and give them their ridiculous spandex look in real life.
Also of course this is the place to introduce the wildly popular Squirrel Girl! It’s also been speculated that GLA character ‘Mr. Immortal’ may have already made an appearance in the She-Hulk trailer, making thus even MORE of a possibility!
The Russo Bros should make this happen, it’s ripe now to be an easy hit series with a truly bizarre, charming, comedic origin story of Marvel Comic’s ULTIMATE underdogs! Please bring on the weirdest wildest superhero adventure yet, THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS must ASSEMBLE!! Share this post or idea everywhere!
Movie Melt: ‘DADDY CAN’T DANCE’ is ‘The ROOM’ Meets ‘BREAKIN’!
So Daddy Can’t Dance?! Dont be so sure of that!! On this episode of the Movie Mellt podcast we cover the extremely cringe inducing but incredibly entertaining vanity project ‘Daddy Can’t Dance’ from 2006!
Believe me when I say you kinda just have to see it to believe it when I’m talkin’ ’bout ‘Daddy Can’t Dance’. Originally titled ‘White Men Can’t Dance’, this one features a former 80’s breakdancer, now middle aged, out of touch, out of shape, office man who decides to give it one more shot! He heads back on the cardboard dance floor when he enters a highly competitive, high stakes breakdancing competition to save the life of his dying daughter! Sheesh, this one’s heeeeeavy!!
Yep! Daddy jumps back on the B-boy scene and tries his best to get into shape and learn some new fresh moves that will put him on the map and land him hopefully the mantle as number one king breakdance champ! The odds are certainly stacked against him as he not only attempts to get his groove back but also thinks that he’s the funniest man to walk the planet as he gets himself into a series of highly uncomfortable situations, using his fully out of touch humor that he still thinks is everone is hip to!
If you’re a fan of ‘The Room’, Tommy Wiseau and ‘Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo’ then feast your eyes upon ‘Daddy Can’t Dance’ ASAP! On this episode we cover this cinematic oddity as well chat about tons of movie mayhem and also have a “battle of the movie band’s” competition! So If you’re into cinematic oddities, check out the LATEST episode of MOVIE MELT right HERE!
The SHE-HULK Series’ “Roger Rabbit” Style CGI!
Yowza!! So the day has finally come, yes, we finally get the official full length ‘She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law’ trailer that dropped TODAY! Awwwww yeah!
As a giant fan of the character, who’s been one of my favorites since the 1980s (especially the ’89 John Byrne series) I’ve got a little bit to say about this! How can it possibly be that Marvel’s CGI seems to be getting WORSE rather than better?!
I’ve been very apprehensive about how they were going to create ol’ Shulkie and bring her to the “live action” MCU & my literal worst nightmare just came true upon viewing this damn trailer! Arrrrrrgh! She-Hulk definitely has a retrovibe here, but not in a good way but a retro nineties level CGI vibe!
First and foremost let me say that I was actually impressed with the with the “story” and style of the trailer & with the direction that it seems to be headed. It’s exactly what I was hoping for in a She-Hulk series! That’s why this is particularly frustrating.
I can definitely feel the spirit of John Byrne’s iconic run right here materializing on screen in this trailer. Nice work, unfortunately She-Hulk looks more like Shrek, when I saw just how bizarre the CGI on She-Hulk AND The Incredible Hulk actually are so far here. At this point I just kind of wish they would have gotten a real living breathing female body builder to portray the character. This is what I like to call a sort of “Roger Rabbit” style live action CGI attempt, only unlike Roger rabbit we’re supposed to believe SHE is an actual real life character. Hmmm..this is indeed perplexing for a couple reasons..
I’m just NOT buying it true believers! Somebody better jump in quick and “Sonic the Heddgehog” this shit. She-Hulk deserves way better than this, there’s simply no excuse for the sub par level of FX in a show by produced by a multi-billion dollar corporation. Disney/Marvel get your shit together fast, cuz this is embarrassing!