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!
I just had to do a post about this cool little short horror film most genre fans missed out on, it’s something I’ve been waiting years to check out, especially since it features the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper in the lead role! ‘Portal to Hell’ was one of Roddy Piper’s the last projects he filmed back in 2015 just before he sadly passed away. This crowd funded short was originally supposed to be the pitch for a feature film. Unfortunately that never happened for obvious reasons. At least we have this rad little 12 minute horror comedy which really should’ve been included in some sort of larger horror anthology feature film as I think it’d made for a sweet little installment.
I’ve always suspected Roddy would have made for a great “Ash” type horror hero and this could have been the spark that ignited that flame. For years I’d check to see if the short film had been released anywhere but never could find much info about it at all. The other day I randomly did a Youtube search and the whole thing popped up for all to see just nine months ago. On on minuscule budget, I think they did a great job with this little horror story and but I’m even more bummed Roddy wasn’t able to become the star of his own unique little horror franchise. If you’re a Lovecraft fan or just love Rowdy Roddy Piper you’ve gotta check this out! Spread this around, it should have way more than just 900 views!
1988’s ‘Magic of the Universe’ (Originally released as ‘Salamamgkero’ in 1986) is one HELL of a bizarre horror adventure! Shot in the Philippines and chock full of dark creepy tropical locations, you surely get a lot more than you bargained for with an odd film that clearly must have had a pretty decent budget to work with. The plot itself is pretty sweet & simple, a talented circus magician named Jamir while doing his seemingly routine disappearing act to an eager crowd, accidentally makes his assistant/daughter disappear not only into thin air but from our reality entirely.
Perplexed, Jamir decides to search for answers, heads off in search of a creepy, mysterious shaman whom he’s heard rumor of residing deep in a nearby forest. The Shaman mixes him up a concoction of some sort from the severed head of a monkey (some serious ‘Temple of Doom’ tones here) and then ventures into a danger filled alternate dimension, to try and rescue his lover & kid sidekick who also go missing shortly after his daughter does. I’m guessing the monkey brain drink (some sort of DMT type concentration) opened some sort of portal, enabling Jamir to cross over. Once on the “other side” he discovers his loved one are captives of a powerful witch named “Mikula” who’s got a huge, sweaty pulsating head and commands a grotesque army of freakish animal people minions, swamp monsters and a plethora of gooey, gross things that go bump in the night.
The whole romp is a giant, cheezy ass fever dream, full of fog, colorful yet dark sets draped in blue & pink lighting and of course some unsettling puppet creatures. One in particular is “Globo”, a weird ass gremlin type puppet with a tv screen for a stomach. Globo’s even featured in the opening credits as “himself” as they decided to show every actor in their role, with their characters names in the opening credits of the movie, something you’d expect normally at the very end. There’s so much weird shit going on here once Jamir heads off into the alternate dimension that whatever story it’s supposedly trying to tell becomes utterly lost, making the whole thing seem even more dreamlike with every minute that passes. There’s even a weird ass party / dance scene with a full band that curiously resembles GWAR in all their monster glory. I guess I’d say this flick also brings to mind a more demented & confusing version of ‘Labyrinth’ and I mean that in the best way possible. Also at a lean running time of 84 minutes the pace rarely lags, there’s easily enough eye candy to go around here to keep horror fans guessing what oddities will present themselves next onscreen. It’s main villain, (the witch Mikula) is pretty damn entertaining too, I never got tired at looking at her fleshy bulbous head bubbling and come the end of the movie you get some great gooey, 80’s style neon action in the final battle.
If you’re a fan of weird ass cinema ‘Magic of the Universe’ definitely won’t disappoint, it’s tropical, humid nightmarish sets are worth the price of admission alone. Director Tata Esteban is fully ambitious here with his grand horror fantasy vision, perhaps not the most easy to comprehend but hey, this is a perfect movie to check out with a few too many drinks & a gang of trashy cinefiles on a Saturday nite! No one will need to pay too much attention to plot either! It’s available to watch on Youtube or you can also hunt down the dvd version of the movie on a horror double feature! I’m certain there’s a VHS copy of this one out there somewhere still but it’s probably a challenge to track down. I watched this one from my Netflix DVD service (yeah, I still do that! For movies like this!) Check it out if you’re feelin’ crazy..
I for some damn reason checked out this shoddy sequel to the 1990 horror flick ‘Mirror Mirror’ the other night & the one surprise greater than anything this film could muster up was Mark “Incredible Hulk” Ruffalo in his first “real” movie appearance! So ‘Mirror Mirror 2: Raven Dance’ came out in 1994, though it really feels much more like a mid 80’s movie with it’s special fx work/plot. It starts off pretty strong actually, showing a lot of cheezy promise, that is if you’re a fan of low budget 80’s horror stuff. We’ve got creepy nuns in a convent along with a “terrifying” giant vintage mirror that’s some sort of portal to another dimension of evil. It emits that 80’s style energy electricity fx I love so much, all over the damn place turning a bunch of nuns into piles of burnt ash, it’s admittedly a pretty sweet opening making me for a second think I’d unearthed some sort of forgotten gem of a horror flick!
Well we then switch to “present day” 1994 where we meet a bad ass alternative rock band on tour, who seem to be channeling the Red Hot Chili Peppers and for some reason they’re rehearsing for a gig in town at the old church. There’s a random teenage girl there hanging out with them, who ends up being the main focus of the movie and of course the douchey band members can’t resist uncovering the giant haunted mirror & are sadly destroyed all too soon by the evil mirror’s supernatural energy blasts. I was hoping these idiots would be present most of the movie but alas…Anyway Roddy Mcdowell also stars in one of his most boring roles and the movie slogs along at a snail’s pace until Mark Rufflo emerges as some sort of “mysterious” character who might be evil but it also some sort of “sexy” love interest. That actually was pretty unexpected!
Throw in a weird crazed handyman, a useless subplot with a greedy stepsister trying to extort some big money from the main character and eventually about 30 seconds of a pretty cool monster, more energy bursts from the mirror and well….ah…ok…who gives a shit, let’s not waste anymore time trying to explain this crappy ass mess, so here’s Mark Ruffalo’s first movie appearance in this boring pile of shit waste of time horror flick!!
Yesterday we heard the news of master special effects artist / director John Carl Buechler’s passing & it reminded me once again of just how amazing his work in the industry was and just how many of the movies he was involved with have been a huge part of growing up. From cult classics like Troll, Dolls & The Dungeonmaster to arguably the best installment of Friday The 13th, Part VII: The New Blood to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, his work has brought me soooo much joy throughout my life as a movie maniac.
As one of the biggest fans of monster movies, he brought some of the best to the big and small screen. It led me to comb Youtube for some choice clips of his that feature some of my favorite creations of his. They just don’t make em’ like this anymore, Mr. Buechler you will be missed but your incredible creatures will live on forever, that is for sure…
I never even knew a movie existed where Charles Bronson and Will Sampson (Chief Bromden from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’) teamed up to battle a giant albino monster buffalo up until a couple weeks ago. But yeah ‘The White Buffalo’ is just that, a wild west adventure flick that channels ‘Jaws’ in obvious ways but alsogives a lot more to ponder upon later. This 1977 action flick features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickock who’s haunted by nightmares of a vicious monster buffalo, so much so that he’s developed a bad habit of grabbin’ his pistols during the dreams and randomly firing it in real life while he’s in a deep slumber.
The visions intensify and soon Bronson’s on a cross country quest to track down this pesky monster. There’s some great action in between of course where Bronson kicks a ton of ass and gets into some crazy saloon shootouts, cuz let’s not forget what he’s best known for, over the top ass kickin’ action. Meanwhile the awesome Will Sampson plays the legendary Crazy Horse, who’s daughter happens to be slaughtered by the giant buffalo in a bloody massacre on his settlement and it inspires a quest of revenge against the beast.
I really dig this forgotten gem, from the cool sets to the atmospheric gothic journey when Bronson heads off on into the mountains in a stage coach, to the drama between Hickock and Crazy Horse as they try to come to terms with the white man’s dominance in the world. Of course my favorite part of this 70’s horror/action hybrid is the threat of the giant beast looming in the mountians, which I read was inspired by the success of ‘Jaws’. The creature appears within an almost dream like landscape, even when outside of Bronson’s nightmares.
The giant beast is actually pretty well done I think, considering the times, using animatronics and puppetry and well placed camera angles. there’s some pretty bloody and intense scenes later as well when the duo finally confronts the albino behemoth. Considering the movie had a PG rating back then at least it gets nice and dirty when it needs to. We all know those 70’s “PG” rated flicks can feel a lot more like an R rated movie in modern times. The movie definitely works best showcasing the unlikely alliance between Bronson & Sampson and does it’s best to show what sort of bonds and trust can develop against a greater threat. I had a blast with this one and it’s easily become one of my favorite Bronson movies! Track this one down, it’s a unique little largely forgotten monster flick!
Been on a VHS binge lately watching tons of old forgotten movies, some are of course are steamin’ turds but every now and again you come across something that’s a total delight! I ran across a copy of 1991’s ‘Children of the Night’ and was fairly certain it was again going to be another crapper, however this one proved to be a totally sweet romp of a horror comedy. I’m a giganto fan of 80’s horror and this one while being from 91′ has still got that great old school vibe and charm coming off the tail end of 1980’s. In my opinion a lot of flicks up through 1994 more or less continue to keep that feel in tact. That being said, I had a good feeling about this one when I’d seen that Peter Deluise of ’21 Jump Street” fame was billed as the star, I watched the shit out of that show as a kid in the 80’s and he was one of my favorite characters from the series for sure. Then I noticed Karen Black also starred and then that the director was Tony Randel of ‘Hellraiser 2’ & ‘Ticks’ fame.
Well I’m pleased to say from the start of this one (which I found out later was actually a Fangoria production) it fully delivered the goods and then some in all the ways I’d hoped for. Playing much more like a horror comedy we get a sweet little story of of teenage girl played by Ami Dolenz (also in ‘Ticks’ from 1993) who lives in a small town and accidentally awakens a wicked vampire lord while swimming in an underground pond below a church. Yeah that’s what she and her buddy do for fun…..well schoolteacher played by Peter Deluise later comes to town to see what’s up and ends up in the thick of a vampire attack where he teams up with the teen girl and a local town drunken preacher played by vinatge SNL alumni Garrett Morris. I gotta say when he arrived it was the icing on the damn cake, he’s known also as “Chocolate Chip Charlie” from the horror classic ‘The Stuff’ from 1985 and in this movie he drives around town at night drinkin’ mad amounts of whiskey in a crazy van that’s got a giant glowing cross spear mounted on the front it it to impale vampires with. By that point in the movie I was already in, but this solidified the deal for sure.
At the end of the ‘Children of the Night’ day plays a bit like ‘Evil Dead 2’ none of it can be taken too seriously but it’s not a full on spoof either. There’s a lot of cool FX work going on here as well as cool spooky inventive sets and locations. It’s a neat little horror adventure that’s not afraid to add some heart to it either. A lot like gory teen horror comedy that’d fit quite nicely along with 80’s cult classics like ‘Vamp’, ‘Critters’ or the highly underrated ‘Night Life’ from 1989. There’s also some cool ass action sequences and you also get some Karen Black super weird vampire lung moments to ponder upon! If you’re looking for some super fun lost nostalgia to watch with a gang of movie maniacs ‘Children of the Night’ is a prime choice in my opinion!