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..
I never thought I’d go back and give 2019’s ‘Butt Boy’ a damn re-watch, butt here I am back on the damn ‘Movie Melt‘ podcast where I was invited to give my two cents worth on the weird ass movie I review right HERE! Yeah for some reason ‘Butt Boy’ was nominated to be the feature presentation on the podcast, probably because of it’s totally bizarre premise that really has to be seen to be believed.
That being said, this flick is most definitely not for everyone imo and I’ve stated here before I’m still not quite sure if I liked the damn thing myself. Even so I’ll state again if you don’t know what the hell I’m even talking about with this movie, that I suggest just going into it completely cold and letting things unfold. It’s an interesting experience to say the least. If you’re a fan of the movie we’ve got more info on the film and the director than anywhere else on the net.
So check out the ‘Butt Boy’ or just listen to Movie Melt where we all discuss movies you should be checking out, do some wild cinematic trivia and of course talk about one of the most perplexing movies of the last decade, Butt Boy in all of it’s glory…
Yowza!! Are you in the mood for the wildest and craziest summer camp antics from the great white north of Canada? Well look no further as Universal Dork headed back on the Movie Melt podcast to talk about some seriously idiotic 80’s trash cinema! This time covering 1984’s slapstick summer camp cult classic Oddballs. Yes, you’ll find more worthless movie knowledge than your brain can humanly comprehend!
Oddballs is one weird ass forgotten comedy and if you’re a fan of stuff like ‘Top Secret’ or ‘The Naked Gun’ then there’s more than enough of that schtick here to quench your thirst. Inspired by the classic ‘Meatballs’ this one’s so dumb you’re likely to lose a few brain cells just by simply viewing it’s raunchy cover!
Check out the whole PODCAST RIGHT HERE!
Oh yeah and if you’re reaaaaaally feelin’ the summer heat you can watch the damn movie on Youtube!
So you’re in the mood for an ass kickin’, science fiction, martial arts packed 80’s adventure? Look no further, ‘The Magic Crystal’ from 1986 delivers the damn goods and THEN some!! It also delivers the iconic action star Cynthia Rothrock in one of her earliest roles doing what she does best, throwing the beat down on the wise guys. This Hong Kong production filmed largely in Greece, has some truly stunning locations and makes good damn use of them, following a stylin’ cool guy mercenary (Andy Lau) who’s hot on the trail of an alien artifact, you guessed it, a magic crystal. This green crystal which actually looks more like a glowing green glob also houses an alien within it shimmering surface.
Of course there’s an evil mastermind named Karov (Richard Norton), who’s also head of the KGB and also full on martial arts maestro who’s dead set on acquiring the magic crystal for his own villainous plans. This huge dude is so bad ass it almost always requires at least two kung fu masters to take him on and even then he usually ends up on top. He also wears some awesome evil black studded outfits while he does his sinister business and is just a plain awesome bad guy here.
Andy Lau soon meets up with a small cast of colorful allies, Cynthia Rothrock being one of them, who help him on his pursuit for the alien artifact. Luckily for the mysterious crystal it ends up in the hands of a little boy who quickly discovers what’s actually inside of it. From here the movie goes in another different direction as the kid forms a bond with the alien and we end up with a sorta E.T. type of thing going down. Yeah the crystal even grows a creepy glowing finger and shares some of it’s “ancient wisdom” and “power” with the kid leading them on a bit of an adventure of their own.
The whole movie is simply a delight to behold. With it’s fun sets, beautiful greek isle locations, endearing characters, pulpy villains and that oh so sweet era of the mid 1980’s for it’s ambitious story to take place in. The action is top notch as well and though the movie is jam packed with bone breaking stunts and martial arts it’s definitely not simply just a kung fu flick. In fact the final third of the movie plays out more like an Indiana Jones adventure as our band of heroes delve deep into trap filled caverns and tunnel slides for our characters to glide down to more even more danger.
It actually kinda feels like this flick might have been where Spielberg got his idea for ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’! Hey you never right? There’s so much fun here to be had, the classic 80’s fx in play and a ridiculous paper mache alien that could have used a bit more work still come off as charming. Cynthia is also right on top of her game here as well and it’s fucking awesome to see her in some of these Hong Kong productions where she looks right at home in their frenetic bone breaking action sequences. The kind that US productions never could seem to replicate but never stopped trying. I checked the movie out on Blu Ray, though it sadly wasn’t an official release (it desperately needs one!), you can watch the English Dub on Youtube and get the scoop about the flick from Cynthia herself right here below,
The legendary horror icon Elvira is back!! However, like many of us, she fears that Halloween might be canceled this year. To make sure that doesn’t happen she’s released a brand new single to try to bring some spooky joy to the holiday. Yes 2020 has been a truly strange year and with coronavirus still being a big problem on planet Earth, Halloween just may indeed end up getting canceled.
BUT Not if Elvira has anything to say about it dammit, and if anyone has the final word on the holiday it’s just got to be HER. I’ve been preparing myself to revisit her classic 1988 comedy ‘Elvira: Mistress of the Dark’ this Halloween and one baffling thing I’ve noticed is something truly bizarre, now at 69 years of age she literally has not aged a day!! Perhaps she really is an immortal undead queen?! Still simply stunning in every way-here’s one thing that doesn’t suck about 2020!
Ok so WTF did I just watch? Well ‘Butt Boy’ is a 2020 horror/thriller/mystery with a truly bizarre plot. It’s a genre melder that’s 110% absurd yet played straight & somehow for the most part actually kinda works. Now that’s not to say I really give this one my stamp of approval, but at the same time I’m not going to NOT recommend it either. I’d say the less you know about the plot the better, as going in completely blind for me at least felt like the best way to view this thing.
I guess if I had to describe it briefly I’d say it’s basic story might have been concocted during a heavy drinking session by a couple adults with a severe case of juvenile humor. Then the next morning they decided to pitch the idea to someone who’s a big fan of ‘Stranger Things’ looking to produce a serious gritty supernatural thriller. I don’t know why someone would spend serious time and money on a movie with a plot this damn ridiculous but hey it’s 2020 and yes anything at this point seems possible. I suppose the allure here is just that, a film with a premise so absurd that’s for the most part pretty well acted, atmospheric, mysterious and taken quite seriously most of the time. If you wanna check this out blindly, STOP reading here! I won’t spoil the whole thing but I will mention the plot synopsis and a few details I took away from my viewing.
Detective Fox, a ruff and tumble guy loves his work and also is a bonafide alcoholic. After finally deciding to check himself into AA, he meets mild mannered Chip, who becomes his sponsor. However there’s been someone out there on a child abduction spree and Detective Fox begins to suspect Chip could somehow be responsible. More so he begin’s to think Chip has something sinister helping him cover his tracks and his suspicions lead him down a dark hole of terror no one could ever imagine or believe possible.
So that’s it in a nutshell, the flick from the get go starts off pretty odd and will likely leave you doing some serious head scratching as things quickly unfold. And yeah soon you’ll probably begin to think of the stupid ways this film could all go and likely you’re dumbest scenario will probably be correct! That all being said ‘Butt Boy’ somehow manages to be pretty entertaining and even somewhat…engaging? Forget the absurd plot, the real interesting thing here is the execution of of the whole damn thing. Sure there’s humor, but there’s also a degree of tension that at times actually make this feel like a pretty decent thriller. The supernatural aspect of it all never gets any explanation and at times it make it feel a bit like some dumb dream you might have had as a teenager. ‘Butt Boy’ is worth a viewing if you’re up for something different and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, does that make this one good? I honestly don’t know still what to make of it all, butt I guess I’m going to have to keep pondering it for maybe I’ve just somehow missed some powerful deeper meaning……
Warning do NOT watch ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ or ‘Bogus Journey’ before viewing ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’!! I made the mistake of watching them both in a span of a less than a week and witnessing the comedic genius of these retro gems before viewing the latest installment. Both the previous films have just aged so damn well, I was laughing out loud as it’d been so long since I revisited them and they truly hold up. This along with the hype from critics boldly claiming it was just as good as the first two had me excellently PUMPED for the long awaited sequel! Well, I’m sad to say I was most supremely let down by ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’.
So that’s not to say you shouldn’t check it out, if you’re a fan it’s your obligation dude to see what became of the legendary duo. What I’ll tell you is, the legendary duo isn’t very excellent these days. The two are down on their luck, apparently still trying to write the song that unites the human race. They have their two daughters, who are basically younger versions of them and their struggling with their marriages to the Princesses. Enter two more “excellent adventures” to steal the hit song from their future selves and their daughters to round up legendary musicians to be their back up band ala the first film.
Sounds like a blast huh? Not so fast! It’s not exactly that simple to be truly excellent in 2020 dude! Alex Winter was pretty on point as Bill to be fair, and carries the whole movie almost entirely on his shoulders. The strangest, most perplexing thing about this damn movie is Keanu Reeves as Ted. It feels like he’s trying to do a bad, unpracticed impression of the iconic character, his delivery is flat, uninspiring and just plain not convincing. This is highly problematic for a Bill & Ted flick! I’m certain Keanu was excited to revisit the role and with the original writers on board along with the director of ‘Galaxy Quest’ this should have been an easy slam dunk! I guess Keanu just couldn’t channel the magic, in fact his daughter in the movie is more convincing as Ted than he is.
I also noticed how silent my viewing was in terms of laughs, I chuckled a few times and my friend barely made a damn sound, as we both laughed our way recently through the first two. There were also too many subplots and a flimsy script left for a pretty disjointed rushed adventure. William Sadler however returning as ‘Death’ was the film’s highlight IMO and probably the funniest part of the whole movie. I think Bill & Ted really needed to ham this thing way up, I was certain seeing the older versions of them being as ridiculous as the first two movies would be a real treat of comedic gold. Instead this one felt like some sort of depressing Bill & Ted “drama” that worked hard to undo the major plot points of the first two films. I guess lightning rarely strikes the same place three times. That all being said I’m happy they did it, or at least tried because they certainly didn’t need to but clearly wanted to give it one more spin. I’m still a bit bummed the day after seeing it that my old pals Bill & Ted aren’t quite the same guys I knew and loved, but at least the film tried it’s best to be optimistic in these strange, troubling & uncertain times….
I’ve seen some heated arguments out there lately about the upcoming SHE-HULK “Disney+” series, something I’d never have expected to be an issue a few years ago even. However it’s now 2020 and everything seems to quickly escalate into some sort of major online argument or politicized debate, yes even She-Hulk has become a goddamn hot-topic! The big issue at hand is what version if the character we’ll see in MCU?! For most of her existence in the Marvel comics, She-Hulk was known for being well, let’s not beat around the bush…NOT particularly ugly. She was, for me as a kid growing up in the 1980’s one of my very first crushes. The Hulk was and still is my favorite superhero and when I saw She-Hulk for the first time I was admittedly an instant fan! Yeah slightly embarrassing…I guess? Or what the hell, maybe not!
She-Hulk in the 1980’s was also one of the most fun loving characters in all of the Marvel Universe, seeming fully confident in her green skin. Jennifer Walters really embraced her inner “Hulk”, unlike her cousin Bruce. She dealt with plenty of sexism in the pages of the classic comics, but many today are accusing the many of the male writers/artists of the past for blatantly exploiting and sexualizing her character. She-Hulk in the 1980’s was indeed a bit of sex symbol in the comics as were plenty of the ultra sculpted male characters but let’s be fair here, She-Hulk was indeed through the years given some of the most ridiculously cringeworthy scantily clad moments by artists. That being said, the classic third wall breaking John Byrne run of She-Hulk in 1989, was a truly unique approach even though it obvious he was truly delighted drawing her every curve.
I need to re-read those to see how it holds up today and see just how offensive it might be in 2020? Up until recently, I’d thought 80’s She-Hulk would be a great basis for a new series but times have changed right? Now She-Hulk, in the current comics is basically a female version of The Incredible Hulk, she’s essentially rejected her more feminine, “sexy” side & has serious regrets about her past looks and behavior. So an MCU Disney Plus She-Hulk series faces the issue, should She-Hulk be a more serious crime drama in the age of #metoo or a comedic, third wall breaking courtroom comedy?
Should the show be a more politicized statement on current affairs in the age of a sexist chump like Donald Trump? A wild female Jekyl & Hyde monster thriller? Or a sort of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” self aware NYC comedy? My idea is how about we combine ALL the approaches into one. The best of all worlds? Start the show off as Jennifer Walters navigates through the current landscape of things, as ridiculous as things are in the Trump era combined with how over the top PC things have sometimes become at the same time? Perhaps Jennifer’s Hulk out starts off as more of a comedic creature feature, and she quickly figures out how to tame her inner Hulk thanks to Ruffalo’s Banner Hulk.
Whatever they decide the real issue remains, should She-Hulk reject her “sexy” side and go full monster? How should she appear? In 2020 it might be frowned upon for her to keep that 1980s, 90s & 2000s look and instead embrace the more ultra muscular modern “Hulk” look. I think I’d be happy with either, but my final thought is a blend of the two is what would work best. They way I’ve seen her depicted at times has bothered me a bit, like when she essentially looks like a ridiculous green skinned porn star with no muscle tone. Here’s the best look in my opinion of what the MCU She-Hulk should probably look like, the more powerful amazonian look:
What do you think?!
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!