VHS Verdict: ‘THE SPIRIT OF ’76’ Wacky 4th of July Sci-fi!
Hey it can be hard to find good things to watch after all of the festivities of the 4th of July right? Let’s face it after drinking a case of beer at the cookout you’re probably ready to watch something stupid and I’ve got a good one for ya! ‘The Spirit of 76’ is an almost entirely forgotten ridiculous scifi comedy from 1990. It features David Cassidy, pop icon, known for hisoh so sweet musical career in the Partridge Family, as he goes way back in time to the 1970s on mission to save planet Earth!
But wait, you also get to see not one but TWO slightly past their prime but still totally dreamy, former teen 70s heart throbs, cuz this bad boy also features Leif Garrett too! One of my favorite parts of the movie though, it also stars Jeff and Steve McDonald of one of my favorite iconic punk rock power pop bands bands REDD KROSS! The 2 brothers are channeling some serious “Bill and Ted” vibes and add some serious cred and charm this little wacked out adventure.
So In the year 2176, determined time travelers including Cassidy and the stunningly beautiful Olivia d’Abo (OMG so crushed!) are sent back in time, in a tin can style space ship to the year 1776 in order to save our planet. However a computer glitch transports them instead to 1976 by mistake!! Things get idiotic real quick as of course they’re being chased by a sinister force trailing not far behind.
However we get a pretty entertaining “fish out of water” storyline going here where Cassidy (who should be in his natural habitat in the real world) and Co have some serious adjusting to do when they encounter things like platform shoes, polyester suits, mood rings and untamed 1970’s babes galore!
Their guides, Jeff and Steve from Redd Kross help them through this glamorous era and avoid certain danger among the disco era. The whole thing is a riot and also features even more familiar faces, the likes of Tommy Chong, Devo, Moon Zappa, Rob Reiner and Downtown Julie Brown!
There’s Kung Fu fighting, disco dancing, stupid looking spaceships and the whole damn thing takes place on the 4th of July folks! Get down!!
There’s a lot of pretty sharp comedy in this and tons of red, white and blue check out this little long forgotten scifi comedy, cult classic down if you want something a bit off the beaten path this 4th!! Here’s Redd Kross with the theme song ‘1976’ for the movie! One of my favorite tracks from their 1990 album ‘Third Eye’!!
Even better here is the entire movie, only 81 minutes long for your 4th of July viewing right on YouTube for free!!
U-Dork on The MOVIE MELT Podcast: The Horror of ‘PROM NIGHT 3’!
So in preparation for the Halloween season I joined the Movie Melt podcast to yet again discuss another cinematic oddity! This time we covered the largely forgotten 1989 cult horror gem ‘Prom Night 3: The Last Kiss’.
This one’s even better than the original Jamie Lee Curtis slasher classic! A great sequel to the Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou, which is also a MUST see this ‘Ween season.
Anyway this episode though covers sooo much more than just ‘Prom Night 3’ take a listen to find out what flicks you should be checking out right now and learn even more useless, but epically awesome movie info you can share with everyone and your cat. Listen here for the scoop on the horror cult comedy and melt your mind with cinematic mayhem! LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE!
VHS Verdict: BLACK SAMURAI is Over the Top 70’s Pulp at it’s Best!
Well I was able to check out the 1977’s ‘Black Samurai’ for the first time and I’m not quite sure why I put it off for so damn long, I think it might have something to do with the shoddy looking cover art on the VHS copy I had. Being a HUGE fan of ‘Enter the Dragon’ and having such an amazing time seeing ‘Black Belt Jones’ on the big screen here in Portland Oregon for the legendary Hollywood Theater’s Kung Fu Theater a few years back with a packed crowd I should have certainly done it sooner. Yep Jim Kelly is once again a total bad ass in some of the most outrageous scenarios of his whole career! The proof is in the poster alone…
So I really wouldn’t say he screams of a “Samurai” per say here in any real way even though there’s a brief scene of him messing around with a samurai sword. Here’s really more of a 007 James Bond type of guy here, an Agent of D.R.A.G.O.N. to be exact, who’s using his crazy kung fu skills to annihilate any asshole who he can get his damn hands on! And boy do throw some real wild ones his way for a total ass whooping. The whole plot revolves around Kelly hunting down a satanic black magic cult who’s kidnapped his lover, lead by the most geeky unthreatening, snake obsessed, white guy, villain boss I’ve surely laid my eyes upon. Kelly’s challenged by all sorts of his evil minions, tuff guy street thugs, tribal type warriors, insane little people with whips and most bizarre, the cult leader’s evil giant pet vulture! Yes he has a hand to hand battle with a damn vulture and also flies around in a jet pack, has a couple rad car chases and hangs at a mariachi party all while looking the most stylin’ and ripped as Bruce Lee while doing it all.
That’s not to say the sleazy cult director, Al Adamson makes it at all flow smoothly as there’s some seriously ridiculous yet fully satisfying martial arts battles here to gloriously behold. Jim Kelly still has the kick ass moves, but the crazy choppy editing and some of the perplexing overdubbed dialogue thrown into scenes has just got to be heard and seen to be believed! This certainly has got me on a Jim Kelly kick lately because this one was so satisfying, after this pandemic cools down I’m sure this one needs another play with a group of friends. It’s a full on train wreck of fun that plays out just like a grimy pulpy comic book adventure.
Jim Kelly’s one of the coolest 70’s action heroes and here in Black Samurai he proves once again exactly why he can’t be messed with especially if you decide that kidnapping his girlfriend is somehow a good move (it’s NOT). It’s well paced, throws everything but the kitchen sink at you and to be quite honest most of it sticks to the wall. From his rad track suits to his flashy sports cars, Kelly displays a suave, cocky swagger that never gets old. Let Black Samurai take you back to the 1970’s for on hell of an over the top adventure! Check this trailer out if you’ve never seen it before if you’re in doubt!
Here’s a great interview with Jim Kelly:
Movie Review: Old Dudes STILL Kick Ass in VFW!!!
I just checked out VFW, the latest from director Joe Begos (Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye) who returns with, in my opinion his best film yet! This sweet little gritty love letter to John Carpenter, which calls back to his classic ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ in big way, is also a blood soaked love letter to some older actors/action stars of yesteryear. We’ve got icons Fred Williamson, William Sadler, Stephen Lang, Martin Kove & even George Wendt from ‘Cheers’ to make this bar room brawl even more authentic!
The story kicks off on a special birthday night for VFW bar owner “Fred” and his tight knit gang of bad ass war veterans. The evening quickly turns into wild all-out battle for their lives when a teen punk rock girl crashes their party with a sack full of ‘hype’. This new drug basically turns people into demented maniacs, with a hunger for more hype at any cost. The evil punk drug dealer, desperate to get his valuable stash back, sends his gang of gnarly addicts on a rampage to get it back. When these mutant punks on a rampage storm the bar looking for the teen, the old vets along with a younger soldier get to relive the gory glory years of war one more time. They unleash their pent of rage and fury using every weapon they can get their hands on to protect the girl and try annihilate the horde of drug addled maniacs. However these messed up punks have hype running through their veins and want more, risking anything to their grimy paws on it.
If you’re a fan of old school action flicks from the 70’s & 80’s you’re going to really get a kick out of VFW. The gore is pretty over the top, done in a such a cartoony way that people literally explode on screen. As a fan of practical fx Begos always delivers the goods with some wild splatter, he also keeps the vibe placed firmly in the golden days of the action era, with not a cell phone in sight. It also feels like an 80’s flick, with stunning neon lit sets within the walls of the cool old dank dive bar.
The real highlight of this is the cast of old codgers who do the majority of the ass kickin’. It’s absolutely delightful to see the likes of Fred Williamson & The Karate Kid’s Martin “Sensei” Kove in full on action mode as well as Stephen Lang, William Sadler and the younger soldier played by Tom Williamson. They’re all great here and give this film the cred it deserves proving age is just a number when it comes to cinematic butt kicking. I really enjoyed VFW, it’s the perfect modern midnite movie and gets so much praise for bringing in some old icons into the mix of onscreen mayhem. Check this out if you’re a fan of 70’s/80’s cult action horror flicks- And here’s to hoping VFW gets a sequel bringing even more of the bar’s patrons into the fold, hand picking some more old nearly forgotten bad asses to do some damage one last time!
Totally Crazy 80’s Indonesian Horror Mayhem: Mystics in Bali!
‘Mystics in Bali’ from 1981 is truly one one wild and crazy Indonesian horror flick and just what I was craving during lockdown! My first viewing of this gem would have admittedly been better had I not known a damn thing about the plot, so if you’re reading this and are interested, I’d suggest checking it out blindly to get maximum enjoyment! So you’ve been warned…
Anyway I’m kinda new to the whole Indonesian cult cinema scene, but I can say so far everything I’ve checked out has been pretty top notch. Mystics in Bali is 100% weird and wild. It follows an American named Cathy who travels to Bali to do extensive research for her book on the mystic ways of the mysterious black magic cult of the Leyak. She meets the handsome Mahendra a local man with knowledge of the dark local magic who also happens to have connections to a woodland witch. He takes her out to the forest to her lair and the bizarre woman vows to expose the secrets of the dark arts and their rituals to Cathy. Excited to get this exclusive info for her book she continues to meet the witch, who in turn tricks her into becoming her evil minion, transforming her into a Penanggalan, a horrific flying head with internal organs hanging from her neck!! GAAAHHHH!
Things go from bad to worse, as Mahendra has fallen in love with Cathy by this point and has no other choice than to ask his uncle Machessea practitioner of magic himself, to help him stop the witch and save Cathy from the curse of the sinister Leyak. This leads to a pretty epic battle towards the end making the whole thing a such a bizarre slice of foreign 80’s horror, it’s most definitely essential viewing for genre fans! There’s a pretty intriguing story here to fuel the horror as well along with the sets and general locale of the film make this a special treat by just that alone. There’s also some low budget but fully ambitious special effects at play here that really amp up the general madness of this movie. Also prevalent are a few relatively shocking moments here that are unlike anything I’ve personally ever seen before in a horror flick.
Some “must see” sequences that will stick with fans of the genre and leave you scratching your head in disbelief! The creature Cathy becomes is clearly the main attraction here and surely is one of the freakiest movie monsters I’ve seen in some time. The final showdown is a pretty great time as well, sure it’s a clunky battle, but it’s a ton of fun to behold. It’s no wonder that this movie was done by the same director, H. Tjut Djalil who also brought us the mega bonkers ‘Lady terminator’ which is def worth tracking down! I’ve also heard that his movie ‘Dangerous Seductress’ is quite a wild gem as well. So..Mystics in Bali is a true oddball, one of a kind horror flick and leads me further down the path of an era of movies other countries were producing during the 80’s that rival some of the best the USA had to offer-Check it out!
VHS Verdict: Roberta Findlay’s 1985 Grindhouse Shocker ‘Tenement’!
‘Tenement’ AKA ‘Game of Survival’ is the third movie from Roberta Findlay I’ve seen and so far she definitely knows how to serve up the grimy goods in true grindhouse flavor. Yeah, Roberta understood how to make a truly sleazy horror flick that’s for sure. Even though Tenement might be considered more of a low budget action/thriller, it’s got plenty of horror and gore to go around. Findlay surely didn’t give a damn if she offended anyone, even though this came out in ’85 it’s jam packed with scenes that you’d likely not see put to screen in 2019.
Playing off a bit like John Carpenter’s ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ except in a run down inner city apartment building, Tenement features a pretty diverse cast of characters who face off in a violent battle of life or death. The bad apples in this one look like they stepped right out of ‘The Warriors’ and are just about the meanest most over the top street gang put to film. These drugged out leather clad assholes are ready kill nearly anything in sight, and when one of the tenants of the apartment complex tires of them hanging around in the basement he calls the cops, all hell breaks loose. Just when the residents decide to throw a party in celebration of the gang’s arrest, they’re let loose into the night by police. Hellbent on revenge they head back to the “tenement” to get bloody revenge on each and everyone who lives within it’s sweaty spray painted walls.
The film moves at a brisk pace and it’s not afraid to get ugly quick. There’s a shocking brutal scene of rape, beatings, drug overdoses, guttings and that’s just the damn start. As crazy as this sounds at the same time the production quality is pretty low, the acting often pretty flimsy/over the top and it’s all sorta hard to actually take seriously. That all being said, for a female film maker back in the 80’s (and especially today) it’s got more bite than most films of this genre made by men. The action and gore is pretty ambitious and luckily the blood here, looking basically like red paint, tames some of the it’s sheer brutality making it a bit more consumable for genre newbies. I really dug a lot of the characters as well, though some may seem a bit stereotyped but the protagonist, a grumpy loner bad ass hero named ‘Washington’ (a cool add to black horror heroes) gets the job done once the gang begins to wreck havoc on his turf, the tenement. It’s quite glorious actually once the surviving apartment tenants decide to band together and fight back, revenge is well served here for sure and it’s quite worth sitting through the earlier nastiness for some sweet revenge. Also never ever underestimate a pregnant woman in danger!
One of the best things about this mean little movie is the actual setting itself. The run down apartment building is a dirty gritty mess of a place. The perfect place for an inner city showdown to occur, with no help of course from the local police. A lot of Roberta Findlay’s movies, at least what I’ve seen so far, have this totally sleezy city vibe going on and it she works that angle quite well. When people bring up grindhouse films this one is actually the perfect example of the genre and for what it is this one’s easily one of the best out there. Her movies feel like they were made a decade earlier as well and have much more of of 70’s feel to them in look and style. A dark yet entertaining action packed urban battle that might not be the most digestible piece of cinema in 2019, but it’s surely something you likely won’t forget anytime soon!
VHS Verdict: ‘The Johnsons’ is Early 90’s Oddball Dutch Horror at it’s Finest!
‘The Johnsons’ is a damn weird ass Dutch horror flick from 1992 that I’ve been curious about for years. Well to my surprise, while out combing the thrift shops, I came across this one on VHS and could’t wait to see what it was really all about. ‘The Johnsons’ first off has a really weird name for a horror movie, it sounds like it might be some sort of 80’s comedy, but alas, this one’s truly an oddity with it’s bizarre plot that I’m fairly certain might offend a some folks especially in the year 2018. It’s also got a reputation as one of the best Dutch horror films of all time. That being said, it should be noted that Holland hasn’t exactly pumped out a lot of horror movies through the years. So the competition ain’t exactly all that fierce!
The Johnson’s has one crazy story to tell, that’s for certain, we’ve basically got a 14 year old girl who was conceived from a test tube and her seven completely bald, weird ass brothers who break out of an insane asylum (where they’ve lived most their lives after they killed 16 kids when they were seven years old ) to hunt her down while out on a camping trip. Their intention isn’t to kill her but to supposedly impregnate her so she’ll give birth to some weird demonic fetus who’s destined to fully fuck up the Earth. Got that? Yeah it’s quite an odd premise but it’s actually a pretty damn interesting, well executed little tale and the imagery involving her mute bald psycho killer brothers when they’re children is actually worth the price of admission alone. The scenes of the kids smearing blood on the walls and sticking razor blades between their teeth (& that boink, boink, boink sound he makes with it) are quite chilling. It’s also cool to see a horror movie in the early 90’s with it’s main characters being a black professor who’s trying to solve the mystery along with a mother and daughter duo trying to escape the bad siblings. Continue reading
Comic Review: ‘There’s Nothing There’ #1 is Seriously Strange & Sexy!
Here’s a cool solid debut comic book from Black Mask Studios called ‘There’s Nothing There’ from the co-creator Patrick Kindlon of the awesome series “We Can Never Go Home”. This issue starts off instantly with a cool but familiar feeling set up as we follow a woman named Reno who attends a mysterious elite costume party with one of her friends. Think a little ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ here as soon it’s revealed that things are set to get kinky real quick.
We’re not entirely sure who’s party this is or what’s at stake as we’re introduced to some mega richie rich ‘Bill Clinton’ looking dude who emerges and delivers an odd slightly religious sexually charged speech to the party goers that seems to signify they’ll be creating something important together. The place quickly erupts in a full on orgy, and Reno fully partakes in the festivities as we’re given a fairly detailed look at the sexual endeavors that ensue over a few pages. During it all Reno sees something strange appear outside in the sky that at first appear almost like some sort of UFO’s floating in a pink cloud shrouding the sky.
The next morning Reno’s mind is clearly in a bit of a haze and as she meets a friend for breakfast we discover she’s some sort of star who’s worried about the paparazzi following her and not following her at the same time. She soon begins to have hallucinations of odd people appearing on the streets and we’re not quite sure if she’s suffering from the effects of drugs from the night before or if perhaps she’s developed some sort of sixth sense to see dead people. Is this the result of an elite ritual from night before? Likely, but things continue on this way even after she returns home to get some rest.
There’s some great potential here and has set up a mysterious plot that could easily go in any number of directions and I hope it pushes the envelope as the story progresses into some unfamiliar terrifying territory. We’re treated as well to some pretty sweet stylized artwork here from Maria LLovet that works perfectly with the story’s tone & mysterious set up. I’m not always these days drawn to stories about rich sexy elites as it seems that most characters in comics somehow come from this sort of classist privileged environment. However, I’m getting the feeling that this might deliver a lot of twists and turns that will likely place our main characters into some unfamiliar territory.
Black Mask is putting out cool books and is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers. ‘There’s Nothing There’ #1 is a solid debut (that’s new on the shelves this week) and it’ll be interesting to see if this one can craft an unpredictable mystery as the series continues. Check it out!
Are You Ready For The Side Effects of ‘The Master Cleanse’?!
Here’s a cool trailer for a movie that looks and sounds like a truly unique cinematic experience. The Master Cleanse is a movie based on a spiritual retreat that goes completely bonkers as this particular cleaning of the body brings out more than some nasty toxins and some negative karma!
Yeah when you think of a master cleanse you normally think of some crazy fast where you might only drink juices for a a couple weeks or head out to a wacky woo retreat but this new flick making the rounds at SXSW shows that dedicating yourself to something like that can be a lot more menacing. Most of the movie’s plot is shrouded in secrecy but we’ve got a cool clip to tide us over until it’s released in theaters and online. The flick stars Johnny Galecki whom I associate most with ‘Roseanne’ but most today recognize from The Big Bang Theory. The movie’s getting a bit of a buzz at the moment and is supposed to have some cool ass creature fx and a generally perplexing plot calling in comparisons to early Cronenberg movies but with more of a comedic vibe. Anyway if you haven’t heard of this one check out this clip as a official trailer has not yet been released!
Video Tonfa Collected: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of VHS!
I’m super excited to get this brand spankin’ new collected version of ‘Video Tonfa’ just released by Floating World Comics here in Portland Oregon. I’ve posted here before about indie comic artist, writer & publisher Tim Goodyear’s incredibly inventive & honest movie reviews which can be read regularly in Pork Magazine – But now movie maniacs can get a collected version of over 600 pages worth of them.
Goodyear not only reviews them in his own words but also recreated each movie’s classic and not so classic VHS covers. Any fan of cult, weirdo, horror, action and the like is bound to dig the creativity and time put into this project. Also reviewed are probably a truckload of flicks you’ve never heard of and that alone can lead you to some pretty excellent film finds if you’re willing to take the time to track em’ down for yourself!
Luckily Goodyear has put in the long hours to weed through it all for for you and give you his own take of what’s been overlooked in the vast sea of lost VHS treasures and turds. So yeah, if you’re like me and just can’t seem to get enough of the largely forgotten cinema of yesteryear then this is a book you’ll wanna reference quite often! Check it out here!