I headed out to the local video store the other night (yeah in Portland we still got an amazing one called Movie Madness) to rent some movies, just like we used to do back in the good ol’ days. Let’s face it folks, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the bland streaming services like Netflix and physically roam around a video store in hopes of stumbling across something entertaining. I decided this time I’d check out some new stuff I haven’t seen streaming out there.
First up was ‘Gags The Clown’ a movie I’d wanted to check out for quite some time now, being a Wisconsin native for much of my life & knowing this horror flick takes place in Green Bay (a place I’d personally hung out so many times in my teens & twenties) made this a no brainer rental. The cover art alone is pretty awesome and would look lovely gracing an old VHS.
Anyway I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a giant fan of “found footage” horror movies and it’s been pretty played out these days in my opinion at least. But in this case I was lured in mainly because I’m just downright intrigued by movies made in ‘The Dairy state’. So the idea of ‘Gags’ was inspired by the whole creepy clown roaming the streets in real life viral video phenomenon a few years or so back. The interesting thing here is that creator of ‘Gags’ actually took advantage of this using his character to supposedly fool local Green Bay residents and the local news to report on it, eventually gathering up some worldwide interest in the creepy clown. A pretty brilliant marketing move to say the least. Continue reading
Looking for a ridiculously entertaining Halloween “party movie” this year to watch with a group of friends and a few cold ones? Well look no further, ‘Empire of the Dark’ from 1990 is one helluva great time for a gang of rowdy cinefiles. It’s written, produced, edited & directed by it’s star, the highly unlikely action hero Steve Barkett! Yeah Barkett’s vision here is obviously to put himself smack dab in the middle of full on ridiculous, over the top action, horror, drama and ultra cheez’d out romance. As the true jack of all trades in front of and behind the camera Barkett admittedly has a certain undeniable charm about him, an almost vintage Shatner-esque way of moving through the mayhem. He’s certainly NOT your typical action hero, the slightly out of shape, sweatpants wearing, ass kicker doesn’t need to fit the mold as he’s clearly got enough passion in the project to prove all the naysayers wrong. At least he tries his damndest!
Everything about this movie is highly ambitious, as he clearly didn’t have a gigantic budget, he fully utilizes every trick in the book to attempt to make this one as epic looking as possible. Sometimes it actually works too, he’s got monster cult members, a huge stop motion/puppet demon and a few set pieces that have me scratching my head wondering just how the hell he pulled some of this all off at all. The plot too is pretty sweet as well, we’ve got heroic policeman (Steve Barkett of COURSE!) who steps through a time vortex to a different dimension to save the woman he loves (whom he was having an affair with) and her newborn baby from a “sinister” satanic cult.
He escapes the cult saving only the baby, leaving his lover behind to die and we flash forward 20 years later. Barkett is now an ex-cop master swordsman, who still longs for his past love. That doesn’t stop him from being quite the ladies man of course, Barkett has surely got some pick up lines that wouldn’t fly today. We follow him as he slowly becomes convinced his lost love is somehow still alive and that the sinister cult has indeed returned to wreck havoc in the small town. From this point on things get even more ridiculous in the most charmingly idiotic ways. Bad sword fights, a terrible training montage, “steamy” sex scenes, supernatural encounters and utterly moronic dialogue make this one the perfect Halloween party movie.
Barkett clearly had a solid vision for this little ridiculous adventure as it’s jammed packed with “interesting” characters, some surprisingly solid special fx for the time, babes, monsters and even some sweet gore. Barkett even goes the distance with the romance making sure his character has plenty of it on display as well as some solidly stupid attempts at drama. The whole thing is a giant damn ball of idiotic fun, a full on Steve Barkett vanity project that was a true pleasure to watch for the first time. If you’re a fan of stuff like ‘Troll 2’ or ‘The Room’ then you’ve got to hunt this one down, it’s a better great bad movie than both!! Grab a copy on dvd HERE!!
Wow, my mind has officially been blown by Panos Cosmatos’ second feature film ‘Mandy’! I was lucky enough to catch it this crazy ass flick last Sunday evening at Cinema 21 here in Portland with a rowdy packed theater. I’m damn glad I decided to make a run to the cinema rather than renting this online ‘cuz in my opinion that’s the absolute best way to see this one for the first time. After watching the steaming pile of crap that was ‘The Predator’ at a matinee Friday, a movie like Mandy was a complete and total breath of fresh air. I guess the best thing to say here is this movie may not be for everyone, but if you’re ready to take one of the craziest mind bending cinematic journeys of the last couple decades then you’re gonna fucking love it. Hell even the poster is awesome!
Mandy is a completely insane revenge flick set in the early 80’s and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. I’m so used to seeing big crappy Hollywood blockbusters in the theater, so this was a bit of of a welcome shock to my noggin. The whole movie plays out like an uncomfortable fever dream, with Nicholas Cage as a logger named “Red” who lives out in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful but eerily mesmerizing girlfriend Mandy. They live a quiet, serene life in an incredibly strange home in the middle of the woods, with large glass walls that bring to mind elements of a real life fairy tale. Everything’s dark yet overly drenched in vibrant hues of reds, purples & thick lush colors creating a surreal landscape that feels like a dream put right on the screen in front of you. It’s a spectacle to behold and it’s clear from the start that Red & Mandy have been through a lot together, sharing a truly special bond in their secluded life. Mandy works at a nearby convenience store, wears cool heavy metal tees and loses herself in fantasy novels while Red spends his time chopping down trees with his chainsaw. The two of them are pictured intently watching 80’s horror flicks together (NIGHTBEAST!), chatting about what their favorite planets are, showing they’re living a rather sweet, simple and innocent life together at this point.
Well shit majorly hits the fan when a crazy van full of uber religious cult members roll into the area and their leader spots the oddly beautiful Mandy walking on the road one day. The cult leader is seemingly hypnotized by her and quickly declares that he must have her for his own. The first hour of the movie is pretty slow moving but in the best way possible, though we don’t get much backstory, we do get a clear picture of the love Mandy & Red share for each other, which makes what follows all that more intensely heartbreaking. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but let’s just say this cult goes the full distance to send Nicholas Cage into a fully batshit crazy journey that’s part Evil Dead, part Hellraiser and part LSD drenched revenge fantasy. I know people have a sort of ironic love for Nicholas Cage these days but seriously Cage fully shines here in easily one of his best performances of his career. He’s awesome and not in some ridiculous sort of way. The movie goes to some truly bizarre places, the violence plentiful and there are a ton of oddball surprises all along the way.
The movie even has a sense of humor as well, though it feels like an unsettling waking nightmare most of it’s run time, there’s something truly comforting about having Nic Cage there with you as your guide through the mayhem of it all. It gives you a sense of hope that just maybe you’ll make it out of it all alive somehow. There’s also a strong heavy metal vibe to film, not just in it’s imagery but also in the score, which is completely breathtaking in it’s thunderous doom metal delivery through the hellish otherworldly landscapes. The music here is incredible and liley half of the charm of why Mandy works so damn well honestly.
There’s also cool hand drawn animated interludes that bring to mind the 1981 cult classic “Heavy Metal” in the best ways possible. Add in amazing practical fx work, crazy gore, epic weapon crafting, chainsaws, Goblin Mac & Cheese (just wait and see), drugs galore, demonic cenobite like bikers and a sweet ass cameo from Predator’s Bill Duke and you’ve got yourself one truly freaky epic horror masterpiece unlike anything you’ve like ever seen before. I can’t say enuff good things about this movie, it’s still floating around in my head four days after viewing it. I can though easily say that Mandy thus far is my favorite movie of 2018!
I finally got a chance last night to check out the latest Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider, The Gravedancers) ) horror movie starring none other than one of my fave 80’s action icons Mr. Dolph Lundgren! What we’ve got here is a pretty sweet lil’ horror / action hybrid that’s likely to please any fan of good ol’ Dolph. This one puts Jebidiah Woodley (Lundgren) front and center as grizzled demon hunter who strolls into a small town where a recent string of murders has got the folks in a panic. He tries to convince the local cops that something supernatural is afoot but of course they all just think he’s some crazy ass dude and end up locking him away for a night in jail. They soon figure out though Jebidiah ain’t all that crazy after all as they come face to face with a creepy possessed killer while he’s locked up. Lundgren is quickly freed and leads the police on a bit of a wild goose chase to find the pesky demonic killer.
It’s a nice simple plot, short and sweet. The movie’s barely 80 minutes long but packs a fair amount of excitingly gruesome scenes into it’s short run time. ‘Don’t kill It’ is a damn good time, it’s an old fashioned 80’s style movie that borrows a bit from the Denzel Washington/John Goodman horror thriller ‘Fallen’. Heck this one could almost be considered some sort of sequel despite the tonal differences of the two. Lundgren totally shines here and is utilized in exactly the way I hoped he’d be, more like an Ash type anti-hero who cracks his fair share of one liners while thoroughly kicking evil ass. He’s easily the best thing about this one and I’m already hoping that we see him return for a sequel that brings him into the fold of even more insane mayhem. The only real problem is that the movie maybe peaks a little to soon as it’s shining moment takes place about one third of the way through. A town hall meeting gone incredibly wrong becomes an insanely grotesque show of over the top action, comedy & gore. Continue reading
I haven’t even heard of ‘Stan Against Evil’ the latest horror comedy series debuting on IFC this coming week but one thing is for certain someone is trying to give Ash Williams a run for his money. I’m not sure this series will hold a candle to Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead BUT I do love me some John C. Mcginley that’s for sure! Anyway I had a feeling that someone would come along and try something similar to Campbell’s hit series sooner or later.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think from the preview that the show actually looks like something I’ll totally like and the premise sounds promising too:
“STAN AGAINST EVIL follows Stan Miller (McGinley), a perpetually disgruntled former sheriff of a small New England town who was forced into retirement. Stan has trouble relinquishing his authority to Evie Barret (Varney), the tough and beautiful new sheriff in town, but they form an unlikely alliance when both begin to realize things are not quite right in their quaint New England town. Together, they valiantly fight a plague of unleashed demons that have been haunting the town, which just happens to be built on the site of a massive 17th century witch burning.”
The show looks promising and I’m excited to see exactly what it brings to the table, perhaps some hyper crazy HP Lovecraftian adventures?
Well whatever the case count me in, Mcginley has been in a ton of cool flicks over the years and he deserves his time to shine again, I hope this is it!! What do you think? Does this look like competition for Ash?!
Here’s an incredible piece of artwork from an awesome 80’s horror movie called The Spookies. I’ve always loved this cover and remember it from waaaaay back when I was a kid in the video store. I only recently saw the movie and it was a damn fun time. I come to find out that the movie was actually supposed to be called “Twisted Souls” and had financial problems causing post production on the movie to come to a halt in 1984. A year later the movie was pieced together with a different director filming additional story lines to finalize the movie in a somewhat cohesive manner with the existing footage. If you get a chance to check out The Spookies it’s worth it, especially if you were a fan of the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. It feels like these guys must have been big fans for sure!
Looking for a cool new Halloween Horror flick to watch this year and are all out of new ideas?! Well I’ve got a fun one for you, ‘Deathgasm’ will deliver the mayhem and then some as the perfect Halloween party flick this year. This new movie, straight out of New Zealand delivers the blood and guts in the same vein as Peter Jackson’s classic splatter flick ‘Dead Alive’. Yep what you’ll get here is a full on black metal gore fest brimming with comedy and heart. This one would play quite nicely next to the 1986 classic “Trick or Treat” as it’s quite similar actually in many ways. Which is always a good thing of course.
It’s the story of teenage metal head who’s mom goes crazy and he’s sent to live with his uncle in a small town. His new surrogate family thinks he’s a total freak and his meathead cousin has got in in for him big time. At school he’s picked on and develops a crush on his evil cousins preppy girlfriend. Totally down on his luck he finally meets a fellow metalhead and starts a metal band eventually leading them to playing an ancient song that awakens vicious demons that run rampant all over town. From here things get super crazy as the band must find a way to reverse the spell and send the pesky demons straight back to hell!
As you might guess this is no easy task and the band has to slaughter of fuck ton of demons in the process. There’s a ton of crazy gore, heads flying, bodies sliced in two, weaponized twenty sided dice, dildos and of course anal beads. Yeah you heard that correct. This is a party movie above and beyond being a gory ass horror flick and is really the perfect flick for a wild crowd at a Halloween party this year. The movie delivers some pretty excellent practical effects as well and doesn’t skimp on the laughs either. It’s really more of Comedy than anything else which might be my only real gripe with it.
I totally dig horror comedies but I think this one might have benefitted a bit more in playing it’s story a bit more heavy handed. Sometimes the modern horror comedies play a bit too heavily to keep the fans too in on the joke. However this is one of the stronger flicks of the genre I’ve seen recently.
It reminds me a bit of the awesome 2007 flick Jack Brooks Monster Slayer (another great choice of a movie for Halloween), especially a scene in Deathgasm that’s almost a total rip from Robert Englund’s amazing performance in ‘Jack Brooks’. Lastly any fans of true metal will likely dig the music and the references to many classic death, grindcore and black metal bands. So if you’re in the mood for the perfect movie to crowd around with your buddies and a bunch of weed and booze this Halloween make no mistake Deathgasm IS your flick!!