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!
I recently found a copy of the rare horror movie ‘The Keep’ from 1983 and finally checked it out for the first time last night. I’ve wanted to see this one for a long time, mainly because of how damn awesome the movie’s cover/poster artwork is, the it’s VHS cover always stuck with from when I was a kid hanging around in the horror sections of the videos stores while my parents were distracted.
The Keep was directed by Michael Mann, who I’ve always loved for his 1986 movie Manhunter, which was the first big screen appearance of Hannibal Lecter. So it seems this particular movie has been kinda shoved under the rug as Mann has admitted that he’s not a big fan of it. At least not a fan of the cut that was theatrically released. Apparently his version of the movie was originally 210 minutes long! Whoah! Supposedly Paramount told him to edit it down to just two hours, that version still didn’t sit well with test audiences so they edited the movie down even further to a mere 96 minutes. Of course that’s one of the main reasons why the movie is admittedly pretty hard to make any real sense of. It’s a slow burn, but I knew that from the start, and knew it wasn’t really your typical horror movie. Instead I viewed it for what it really is, a surreal, dream like horror fantasy and it really works well as exactly that.
It’s based around a group of Nazis who are sent to guard an huge, old, mysterious fortress in a Romanian mountain pass. One of them releases an powerful force trapped within the walls while thinking they’ll discover some sort of treasure behind them. A weird stranger senses this from his home back in Greece and travels to the keep to try and destroy the sinister force. As Nazi soldiers are eliminated, a Jewish father / daughter duo who both have information on the secrets of the bizarre stronghold arrive on the scene to make sense of the ghostly happenings. It’s a cool set up, but it’s a bit hard to comprehend as it’s filled with plot holes and many unanswered questions, likely that’d been explored in the mega extended version.
It’s also more of an art film really than a horror flick at the end of the day. It’s filled with ripe, hazy dream like atmosphere from start to finish, it’s a visual treat with a mostly quiet pace to it. When the creature though arrives on the scene from the walls of the keep it does get pretty intense and the finale is filled with a ton of great sequences that surely must’ve influenced a modern film maker like Panos Cosmatos (Mandy, Beyond the Black Rainbow). There are some amazing set pieces here, most filled with creepy fog, a pretty impressive hulk of a monster and some really excellent special fx work to behold as well. It certainly excels in it’s creation of a portal from another dimension spilling into our reality.
The cast also is pretty awesome as well, Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne and a much younger Ian Mckellan make this whole experience that much more enjoyable. Byrne plays a crazy Nazi and Mckellan shines as a sort of hero of the movie, being forced to work alongside the Nazis. Yeah folks, Ian was at one time “young” even though he’s still oddly kinda old even way back in 1983! I also have to mention the totally epic score from soundtrack legends Tangerine Dream, I gotta track the soundtrack down. The Keep was a delight to finally see after all these years, this movie desperately needs a re-release on blu-ray/dvd this time with the full 210 minutes of Mann’s vision!!
So Friday afternoon I checked out ‘The Predator’, the latest comedy from director Shane Black, the 5th installment to the movie franchise if you include those AVP films. I’d been pumped for this thing to drop as a big fan of the original, which back in 1987 was the first R-rated movie I saw in the theaters. It was also the first movie I’d ever snuck into. I can still remember my friend and I’s reaction to witnessing ‘Predator’ on the big screen after sneaking in, which itself was pretty exciting actually, it was a truly epic cinematic event I’ll never forget and one of those moments growing up that shaped my obsession of movies to current day. I love Predator and the best thing about the movie is that it STILL holds up as one of the best action/horror/scifi flicks of all time. So yeah, naturally when I’d heard Shane Black, who’d actually starred in the original film and Fred Dekker (Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps) was writing it, my hopes for a truly iconic return to form for the Predator franchise was indeed very high.
Well the verdict is in folks, and as a longtime fan, I’m sorry to say the movie blows. After seeing the trailers, I was certainly cautious going into this one, but still was quite certain if anyone was going to deliver the goddamn goods this time around it’d have be Shane Black. That however was certainly not the case. ‘The Predator’ is a full blown comedy and not a good one, in fact it was a bit awkward in the theater as their attempts at jokes fell quite flat most of the time to a rather quiet and unenthusiastic audience. I guess the best way to describe it is it’s attempting to be a Marvel movie version of the Predator. This seems to be the trend these days in these bloated blockbusters, interrupting any potentially serious moments in a movie with some sort of “witty” Marvel-esque attempt at a joke. I’ve gotta say I’m over it. Long gone is the horror/slasher, suspense of the original films instead we’ve got utterly bland characters entrenched in one truly moronic adventure.
I could care less about this movie’s characters, in fact at one point I was hoping for the Predator to destroy them all just so they’d stop cracking unfunny jokes. All of them are totally generic, even the little kid is just a total bore and probably had no place even being in a Predator movie, especially this one which I found out has some weird ass controversy surrounding it. I’m not going to give a play by play either, as so many people out there have already reviewed this stinker. I’ll get down to the real meat and potatoes here, the Predator at least looked good, that is until the bigger CGI Predator and his lame ass CG dogs shows up to take a big dump on that aspect of things as well. Let’s not even discuss how dumb the Predator dog subplot is here, it’s just not worth the time, lets just say it’s another example of The Predator’s piss poor writing. There’s also tons of “call back” joke lines thrown around here from previous movies in the franchise, apparently Shane thinks that shit is still really a big treat for the fans, as a fan I can truly say it’s not.
The movie is just one big dumb, poorly edited, poorly paced, boring mess of a movie. For the longest time I was hoping that Arnold would return in this film as Dutch from the 1987 classic. I wanted it so bad. After seeing 2018’s ‘The Predator’ I’m actually fully relieved that he declined the cameo Shane Black had offered him. This movie didn’t deserve to have Dutch to make an appearance. As far as ranking the films, this one just might be the worst of the batch, I actually would rather watch the two AVP movies before trudging through this thing again. I’d say after this it just might be time to retire the franchise for good. I’m still amazed Shane Black and Fred Dekker could drop the ball this badly, but alas they served us all a bonafide shit sandwich. Good riddance Predator, I’m sad to say it but I’m not gonna miss you….
Now here’s a new crazy looking monster movie that looks pretty damn sweet and totally ready to quench my thirst for those gooey creature features of the 80’s! There’s something about most modern monster movies that just doesn’t cut the cake for me, I’m rarely convinced these days that a CGI creation is much of a threat on screen, as they don’t really look like they’re actually there in the flesh. Rather floating around on a separate computerized layer. So as much as I loved “A Quiet Place” the monsters were probably my least favorite thing about the movie. Give me an 80’s classic like ‘The Thing’, ‘The Blob’, ‘Gremlins’ or even something like “Neon Maniacs” any day of the damn week!
Judging by the new trailer for “Book of Monsters” I might’ve just found the kind of movie I’m looking for. It looks like a long lost 80’s creature feature in the best way possible. The premise sounds like a fun time as well, besides the whole “evil book” thing which might be considered a bit played out at this point, it still looks like a ton of gory fun filled with a lots of old school practical fx monster mayhem.
“Sophie’s 18th birthday party becomes a total bloodbath when six horrific monsters descend upon her home, intent on devouring the party guests and killing anyone who tries to escape their clutches. As her school friends are ripped to shreds and eaten, Sophie must rally a band of misfits and take up arms to send their party crashers back to the depths of hell. To survive the night, Sophie will face her destiny; monsters are real – and she’s the only one who can stop them.”
Check out the trailer, this one’s set to drop on August 25th..