I’ve mentioned S.P. Somtow here recently several times after discovering his long all but lost 1989 horror cult classic flick ‘The Laughing Dead’. If you’re a fan of gory, gooey 80’s horror comedies ala ‘Evil Dead 2′ then I definitely encourage you to track that film down asap. It sits in that sweet spot of the golden era of horror that I love so damn much and it’s desperately in need of a real release here in the good ol’ USA, as back in the late 80s for some reason it was only released overseas. A cool blu ray release would immortalize it as a bonafide lost genre favorite!!
Apparently the director has sadly stated he’s lost track of the film’s original prints over the years and even mentioned if he could find it he’d like to make a new cut of the movie. That doesn’t necessarily mean the print doesn’t exist anymore, but perhaps there just needs to be some sleuthing around perhaps to find them! Ok, so not only was he responsible for ‘The Laughing Dead’ but also much more in the horror genre, he’s also a cult horror novelist. Known primarily for his 1984 book ‘Vampire Junction’, which I’m planning on tracking down soon. Well now it’s come to my attention that he has a new horror movie in the works, “Maestro: Symphony Of Terror” that is currently in production in Thailand.
“The Maestro is a loving tribute to the cult classics of the past, that was conceived by acclaimed filmmaker Paul Spurrier and bestselling author and musician S.P. Somtow, It’s shot with the speed and energy of the classic horror thrillers while maintaining the wild inventiveness, ironic tone and relentless imagery that made those films immortal. It’s a story of a genius provoked and pushed into madness and beyond, The Maestro tells the story of Arun, a composer and conductor who tried to make it in Europe but has ended up teaching high society children in a Thai shopping mall. For years, he has been composing a magnum opus, The Tongues of Angels, and dreams of premiering it under his own baton. It is a work of transcendence, of wildness … and a touch of madness.” Here’s a sneak preview recently released:
I’m excited to check this one out it and see just what this bizarre horror flick has to offer! In the meantime let’s track down the original prints of ‘The Laughing Dead’ for a slick blu ray release and let that build the hype machine for ‘Maestro: Symphony of Terror’!
Hey horror hounds! I’m willing to bet top dollar that you have probably never heard of or seen 1989’s bonker’s horror comedy ‘The Laughing Dead’?! I reviewed it right here not too long ago but enjoyed this weird wild cinematic journey so much I chose it as the feature presentation to cover for the latest episode of the Movie Melt Podcast!
So if you dig 80’s horror flicks like Evil Dead II, Re-animator or Terrorvision and haven’t got the scoop on this one you should check out the podcast for sure. With FX legend John Carl Buechler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Friday the 13th VII, Troll ) bringing the gooey gore & monsters to life along with the offbeat horror story set in Oaxaca, Mexico, it’s a shame this movie never saw an official release here in the USA.
Written & directed by Splatterpunk cult horror novelist/composer S.P. Somtow, makes it a guaranteed treat for 80’s horror fanatics. Check out the episode RIGHT HERE for the scoop on ‘The Laughing Dead’ as well as a whole heap of crazy shenanigans and useless movie info! Here’s the trailer for the movie…
It seems like cult movie connoisseurs are finally catching wind of just how awesome some of the 1980’s Mexican horror flicks truly are! Just a couple months ago Vinegar Syndrome released Ruben Galindo jr.’s three nearly forgotten creepy classics, ‘Don’t Panic’, ‘Grave Robbers’ & my personal favorite ‘Cemetery of Terror’. I’ve been yammering on about those same movies right here, years before Vinegar Syndrome got wind of them. Not to toot my own horn too much but hey give me some damn street cred! So I’m here to give you the scoop on yet another 80’s Mexican horror cult classic that I’m certain must get a fancy ass blu-ray release ASAP. 1989’s ‘Trampa Infernal’ AKA ‘Hell’s Trap’, is definitely worth tracking down!
With a lean runtime of 74 minutes, this one’s never a bore and frankly never skimps on bringing everything you love about the 80’s slasher front and center in a way they can only do south of the border. Director Pedro Galindo III introduces us to a a couple of ultra competitive rival macho men, who make a bet on catching and killing a wild bear that’s been tormenting the countryside. Of course they gather some friends for this sweet camping trip & when they arrive to their destination it’s clear that the forest is housing something much more sinister than a damn bear. We’re introduced to one hell of a slasher villain, he wears the glove of Freddy Krueger, sports a mega creepy emotionless mannequin mask with a wild hairdo and carries an arsenal of firearms with him wherever he damn well pleases.
This asshole’s copletely compelled to kill anyone who steps in his freaky neck of the woods. Yeah the plot is pretty damn flimsy just the way I like it sometimes. We’ve got a pretty sweet gang of colorful characters who go head on into battle with this weirdo, along with some well executed inventive kills mixed with plenty of action and a handful o’ cool explosions to boot. Plus who doesn’t want to spend some action packed time in 1980s Mexico? Sign me up any time! Oh Yeah and the amped up 80’s fashion sense is worth the price of admission alone, this gang of campers can sell me cool vintage clothes for my vintage shop any day of the week. So moving on, this here turns into one deadly game of cat-and-mouse that really benefits from the beautiful setting of Mexico’s woodsy backdrop. It’s fierce villain who appears to be some sort of ex-soldier with an extreme case of PTSD is bound to generates his own cult following here in the US amongst fans of icons like Leatherface and Michael Myers. This guy’s a total badass! See for your damn self:
He’s kinda got an Owen Wilson type o’ thing going on? Well director Pedro Galindo, I can only assume must be related to Ruben Galindo jr. The Galindo’s must have had some sort of stranglehold on the horror genre back then there as they’ve put out some pretty excellent movies. Pedro Galindo III also has a couple other movies on my radar, ‘Panico en la Montana’ and the sequel to ‘Vacations of Terror’. So if you’re longing for something different in the horror genre, take a trip to Mexico in the 1980s and make sure to check out ‘Trampa Infernal’. There’s a whole treasure trove of cool horror films just waiting to be discovered by American audiences from our friendly neighbors. So you heard it here first Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow, whoever! Jump on this one ASAP as it’s another true forgotten cult classic..
So I’d say one of the weirdest damn holiday horror flicks of all time has just got to be 1987’s ‘BLOODY NEW YEAR’! Have you seen it?
Well whether you have or not take a moment to check out the Movie Melt podcast as we talk about some sweet under appreciated odd ball movies and get straight into the new year with this classic slice of weird-o 80’s British horror film.
It’s easily one of the most surreal and ambitious micro budget movies I’ve seen a long time and it’s perfect for the holiday seasons, if you’ve seen it you likely know how bizarre this wild little flick truly is! Check out MOVIE MELT and this episode for Bloody New Year!
Yowza!! On Thanksgiving I decided to finally check out my “Bloody Valentine 3-D” DVD on my new giant TV. At least for me it’s quite big measuring in at 50 inches, it’s one of those new ones that spies on you for the government! But oh well that’s life in 2020, as long as the thing is BIG who cares right? I also have to note it’s NOT a 3D TV, so I was watching it from a relatively old dvd with the old school blue and red glasses.
Anyway I originally saw the movie back in theaters when it was released in 2009 and boy was it a bloody good time, the crowd was literally going wild at the insane 3-D effects and this one being the first of the new wave of 3-D films it was designed to awe audiences. Back when we had theaters to go to, it seems like every movie for a while was being released in 3-D and really didn’t have much to offer except a few too many extra bucks to your damn ticket price. So with my new TV I decided it was time to see if this flick held up or if the 3-D even worked at all as the DVD came with those classic old red and blue glasses they used to give you back in the 80s!
Before this the only movies I’ve ever seen in 3-D were ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ which was shown on TV back in the 80s and also I was lucky enough to see ‘Jaws 3’ in 3D in the theater as a kid with my older brother along with ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street- Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare ‘ with the wild 3-D ending. Anyway to my surprise I was pretty damn impressed with what a second at home viewing of ‘My Bloody Valentine 3-D’ had to offer on DVD on my new Big Ass TV. I’d say with confidence, If you’ve never seen this one you should probably check it out ASAP!!
YOWZA!! What the hell did I just watch?! 1990’s ‘Erotic Ghost Story’ is exactly what you’d expect from Hong Kong director Lam Nai-Choi, responsible for the 1991 cult classic ‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky’. If you’ve ever seen that bonafide bonkers gorefest then you’ll likely want to experience his attempt at a sexy softcore! I’m not by any means a seasoned cinematic softcore fanatic, but if I was, I’d like this director to be at the helm of more of it. ‘Erotic Ghost Story’ has got it all, three ultra sexy ghostly babes, a heaping of “steamy” sex and “hunky” dude who turns into a hideous three headed monster of COURSE! It’s also manages to add some sweet action scenes, some wild magic and a solid dose of those charming 80’s fx I love so much.
It tells the story of three beautiful sex obsessed fairies who’s live in solitude out in the forest. They all take an interest in a young, handsome scholar who moves into the woods nearby in a cozy little cabin. Curiosity soon gets the best of them and each one decides to make a visit to meet this sexy studious stud in his messy book infested cottage.
All three of them find themselves oddly fantasizing about him, and each take it upon themselves to seduce him. Each believing they’ve scored the relationship of a lifetime until they discover his wicked dark secret, this seemingly innocent sex machine is actually a hideous horny three headed demon in disguise!
Things get pretty gosh darn sexy and the fairies soon discover that each of them has “gotten down and dirty” with the guy causing some hefty drama between them to go down. But their jealousy is really the least of their worries as soon they all find themselves growing thick hair on their chests! What a bummer! They seek help from a local magic priest to help cure themselves of whatever supernatural STD they managed to all catch from the guy but find that it’s up to them to face him one final time with their own special powers and try to destroy the horny beast.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one, I’d figured it was just going to be some guy getting it on with three sexy ghosts. But to my delight this one delivered that and THEN some. It’s really no wonder that Lam Nai-Choi couldn’t resist throwing some wild shenanigans and a three headed demon into the mix! There’s clearly an over abundance of sex on display as the guy gets lucky more than anyone has any real right to with three beautiful women, it’s just too bad for all involved that he was literally such a wild and crazy sex freak. I guess this softcore would be sort of a genre mash up, a wuxia (chinese fantasy), sex-filled, horror creature feature.
It gets a lot sexier than most softcore movies I’ve ever seen, but the true charm of it all is that the director took a stab at a odd choice of a genre movie and added his bizarre trademark bonkers touch to the whole damn thing. If you dig his other work like Riki-Oh , The Seventh Curse or The Cat you’re going to want to track this one down as well for sure for the sheer absurd spectacle of it all….
Well the quarantine rages one! So naturally I’m taking advantage of the situation by watching as many cool movies as I can get my hands on! I checked out some pretty excellent Japanese movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s the other night and I won the jackpot as somehow BOTH movies delivered the damn goods! I mean that rarely ever happens when blindly grabbing two oddball movies I’ve never heard anything about.
First up was was 1988’s “Cyber Ninja”, which obviously by the title showed some true promise! This wild sci-fi action film tells the story of a cyborg ninja who’s battling an evil empire that uses giant dinosaur like robots along with a gang of robotic ninja’s of their own to wreak havoc upon a kingdom of samurai warriors. Yeah basically that’s the story, nothing fancy here just a bunch of wild action and robot ass kicking for a lean 80 minutes. There’s some cool martial arts as well and really sweet robot designs at play here that mix feudal japanese elements into their look. There’s these giants mechs in particular that have a sort of Japanese tree house melded as the control center, kinda of like a play on a Star Wars ATST walker. There’s also a ton of that ultra colorful hand painted laser/electricity/energy blasts fx that accompany the martial arts mayhem. It’s a ton of fun and it seems this was perhaps an inspiration for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? The movie was release by Namco, which later merged with Bandai, both famous for their video games. Cyber Ninja is must watch if you dig weird, 80’s action and fantasy stuff & was great little viewing surprise that doesn’t require your attention span to be in full swing either.
Next was 1991’s Mikadroid, also known as “Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disoclub Layla”. With a title like that you know you’re at the least in for something quite unusual and yeah it brings quite an intriguing little tale of terror to the screen. It’s super lean run time of 73 minutes also makes it much less of a commitment and the perfect companion to Cyber Ninja in more than one way. I’d say at it’s core, it’s really more of a horror movie, and go as far to even call it a “proto-slasher”. It follows a World War II soldier who was experimented on along with two others for a super soldier program.
However they went a step further in a secret underground bunker to transform him into a cyborg/droid and ends up looking like something straight out of a Hellboy comic. We flash forward to 1991 to a discoclub that was built on top the hidden bunker where some electrical issues awaken the WWII super solder robot from his long slumber (I guess a real Captain America kind of thing going on here more than I originally realized). The droid heads up into the parking garage where he conducts his killing spree on the oh so stylin’ Japanese party animals after their wild nights of drinkin’ and dancing the night away.
This movie’s certainly a unique slice early 90’s cinema. It’s quite beautifully shot as well as having a pretty kick ass looking robot and some really stunning underground locations. I was hoping for a bit more from some of the kills but the strange story is the true highlight. Enough so that this little oddity by it’s end unfolds into something truly unique for it’s time and relative obscurity. Released by Toho, it was originally intended to be a full on horror film for the straight to video Japanese Market. Originally set to be a a zombie horror film having the WWII soldier an undead killer instead of a robot . The day before filming began a child murderer was arrested, who had an open passion for horror films, and it resulted in almost all horror movies being essentially blacklisted from production at the time. The film’s plot was frantically reworked into a “sci-fi” film while still keeping the basic premise intact. That all being said, the changes made I think likely added to the movie’s bizarre but ambitious plot. If you go into the movie with few expectations you’ll find a truly charming little feature that firmly lands it in a league of it’s own for the time.
I’m not real familiar with with Indonesian cinema, but last night I watched a dvd (yeah a DVD folks!!!!) I got in the mail from Netflix that’s been in my queue for well over a year. The 1984 Swords and Sorcery fantasy martial arts adventure, ‘The Devil’s Sword’ from director Ratno Timoer. I really didn’t have any expectations, in fact I was fully prepared to turn this one off after 10 minutes, however that was most definitely not the case. Nope! Instead The Devil’s Sword immediately won me over with some impressive joyfully bad choreographed magical martial arts battles taking place in a truly stunning exotic jungle location. If you’re a fan of cheezy fantasy movies from the 1980’s then this one’s gonna be right up your damn alley. It’s also alerted me to the Indonesian action star Barry Prima, maybe I’m late to the Prima party, but a quick look on Letterboxd at his filmography revealed what appears to be an overload of action, fantasy, horror hybrid gems just waiting to be leaped into.
This one has pretty much got it all, wildly stupid martial arts, sword battles, magic, monsters, babes & hunks galore! All of it 100% ridiculous, macho man Barry Prima stars as “Mandola”, basically “Rambo the barbarian” looking remarkably similar to Sly Stallone (with a smooth fully stupid dub track that seems like it might even enhance viewing pleasures). He’s also got a radical bad ass female co star, who right out of the gates lays a smackdown on a gang o’ goons & who aids the mighty Mandola in his epic quest to destroy a wicked witch, the sultry and seductive Crocodile queen! She’s indeed quite a woman and has tons of male sex servants one of them the kidnapped husband of Mandola’s female ally! She’s also got a gang of some of the worst, most idiotic looking, crocodile/human minions that really just have to be seen to be believed. Some of these fights too go on for way, way too long but in that sort of “They Live” sorta way. I mean check this out if you think I’m full of shit!
Mandola ends up on this epic quest when some of The Crocodile Queen’s assassins injure his master’s legs and he himself is forced to saw them off! The Devil’s Sword definitely doesn’t skimp on some wild gore either, limbs and heads are chopped off, accompanied by sprays of blood. There’s also a dab of indiana Jones thrown in as Mandola explores caverns filled with hordes of bats and one supremely stupid looking giant cyclops! I guess they were lucky that Indonesia is such a beautiful place, because some of the locales add a solid a layer of legitimacy to the whole experience, suddenly I’m eyeing Indonesia as a future dream vacation.
The Devil’s Sword has really energized an interest in not only the country but also in some of the wild cinema it had to offer back in the 70’s & 80’s as well as a strong curiosity in it’s main man, Barry Prima! Check this flick out, it’s the perfect watch with a case of beer and some friends to enjoy all the unintentional wackiness strewn about the screen. There’s a dvd out there that Mondo Macabro put out years ago I think you can still snatch, or hey if you’re like me just put it on the dvd by mail list from Netflix!
I absolutely love seeing lost gems from the 1980’s, which is hands down my favorite era of cinema. So my excitement level upon seeing 1983’s ‘Rock and Rule’ was through the roof. I’m surprised honestly it took this damn long for it to materialize on my tv screen, being a big fan of hand drawn animation, it was a breath of fresh air in the CGI heavy era of today. Rock and Rule feels like the perfect companion piece to the cult classic ‘Heavy Metal’. It’s full of amazing music, the likes of Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Cheap Trick, Iggy Pop & Earth Wind and Fire provide the soundtrack here, but more so are also the providing the songs that the characters perform in the movie.
This Canadian post apocalyptic tale of rock and roll adventure, follows the exploits of an evil & powerful rockstar named “Mok” who’s looking to unleash a demonic force from another dimension to aid him in ruling the entire planet. In order to do so though he needs to find the perfect voice that can hit the that special pitch, to enable the magical portal to open. The heroes of the movie are a band of human/animal hybrid mutants who perform in struggling rock band at dive bars all over the city. When Mok is out on the town one evening he witnesses a performance by them and sets his sights on the female vocalist of the band named “Angel”. Her jealous bandmate/co-vocalist Omar feels betrayed when the evil rocker invites her to his mansion on the outskirts of town. Soon it’s evident Mok has sinister plans for Angel, which sends Omar, along with the rest of his band on a fantastic journey to try and rescue her from his evil clutches. However it may be Omar & the band who actually end up needing to be saved.
This one’s just a ton of dazzling fun to watch, the story might be a bit flimsy but the musical numbers & the spectacular animated sequences more than provide enough enticing eye candy to keep the pace swiftly moving. The songs are a treat as well and were crafted especially for the movie, in fact some of the lyrics written actually influenced it’s plot. It’s quite interesting to see the passion some of the people like Lou Reed & Iggy Pop had going into this project as well as how much work different animators put into the different characters giving them their own unique look and movement. The color bursts off the screen with that iconic 80’s neon and the action sequences and animated band performances are truly epic to behold. The movie ignites a true nostalgia for simpler times bringing the tail end of the 1970’s on a collision course with classic 80’s movie magic. I can only dream of how much fun this must have been to see in a theater in 1983. Continue reading
I finally got a round to checking out 1989’s ‘Saga of the Phoenix’, the wildly entertaining sequel to ‘The Peacock King’ from cult classic Hong Kong director Lam Ngai Kai (Riki-Oh). If you’re a fan of ‘Riki-Oh’ I highly recommend checking out the director’s other work and while ‘Saga of the Phoenix’ isn’t as shockingly violent, it’s easily just as wild and crazy as anything he’s ever done. In the sequel we follow once again, the exploits of the two magical monks Lucky Fruit and Peacock but more so this time the “Hell Virgin” Ashura who in the last movie caused some major problems, almost destroying mankind as we know it while under the enchantment of the devil. Ashura though still loves the mortal world and eventually is granted permission to live there for 7 days, only if she makes a promise to stay out of any mischief that might interfere with the human world. She gladly accepts and quickly hunts down a weird gremlin creature named “Genie” when arriving on Earth. Peacock, Lucky Fruit and 3 bad ass nuns are also then sent down to chaperone her visit, but of course the wicked “Hell Concubine” has other plans, to send her evil minions there as well to try and corrupt her once again.
Though I’ve heard many seem to think this one is more “kid friendly”, probably because the gremlin character “Genie”is focused on quite a bit. Though we follow Ashura and him running around Hong Kong in the 80’s having fun (which I totally dug), it’s still got plenty of downright bizarre scenarios to behold that I think places it in a league all of it’s own and quite a worthy sequel. There’s also the inclusion of a brother and sister human duo that befriend the main characters and the brother just happens to be a madcap inventor of an inter dimensional time machine. Go figure! There’s a few hints of romance and of course the three nun protectors all decide to go for a dip in the human’s swimming pool after their outfits get shredded in battle, donning swimsuits for the first time in their rather “sheltered” life. There’s also some pretty perplexing plot choices surrounding the character of Genie that just kind of have to be seen to be believed. The character which is a mix of puppet and stop-motion animation has got plenty to do here and is given more than his fair share of moments to shine and even scare.
Sure there’s a lot going on here in a movie with an admittedly flimsy plot, the good thing is that the majority of it all is one helluva good time. Bleeding sweet 80’s fashion & locations, outrageous characters, wild sets, puppets, stop motion animation, giant monsters and plenty of neon lasers to behold, it’s hard not to at least be enamored by all of the eye candy. There’s also a splash of martial arts action thrown in the mix to keep the action going at a steady pace from Lucky Fruit and Peacock. Sure there’s lot’s of logic issues with the plot & the dialogue (translations likely) can be a bit incoherent at times but there’s more than enough outrageous charm throughout to easily satisfy fans of directors like Steven Speilberg, Sam Raimi & Peter Jackson’s 80’s and early 90’s work.
If you’re a fan of weird 80’s fantasy, action & horror you definitely need track down The Peacock King & The Saga of the Phoenix. It’s jam packed with all the things I love so much about that era of film making. Lam Ngai Kai (aka Ngai Choi Lam) is easily the best cult director out of Hong Kong for the time, it’s a shame he completely disappeared from film making after 1992. Perhaps he decided his body work couldn’t be topped? Thankfully he’s left behind a truly unique legacy of outrageous films that have yet to be explored by a huge portion of American cinemaniacs.