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’ve been burning through a stack of late 80’s/90’s VHS tapes lately I scored and while there’ve been a lot of stinkers in the lot there’ve been a few I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised about! I found the first five of the ‘Children of the Corn’ movies and I’d never actually watched any of the sequels so I thought what the fuck? Well the second movie was pretty much a total bore and I’d figured they’d likely just get more dull with each installment. Boy was I wrong!
Yep! ‘Children of the Corn Part 3: Urban Harvest’ is now one of my favorite sequel horror flicks! This movie’s a ton of seriously fun horror schlock. It’s premise is awesome too, we’ve got a couple weird-ass ‘Children of the Corn’ who get adopted and move from the bloody cornfields of Nebraska to the urban streets of Chicago. Their new parents are a couple of yuppies who’re stoked to have two new amish kids of their own. But little do they know one of them has some weird ass supernatural abilities and a one track mind for planting a new crop of corn right there in the city. Things quickly get awesome as their sent off on their ‘first day’ of class at a diverse inner city school and have to fend for themselves as everyone makes fun of their weird clothes and equally odd mannerisms.
Well the new setting seems to be a good one for one of the ‘Corn kids’, soon the older of the two is dressing like he’s the coolest new dude on the block and quickly discovering he’s got a fav new interest that quickly replaces corn: girls!! This new style doesn’t sit well with the younger ‘corn obsessed’ brother and soon he goes on a mission to find a vacant lot to plant some new evil corn, hell his yuppie stepdad even tries to get in on the corn action too. He find’s his stepson’s new utterly incredibly delicious crop of corn flourishing in some shitty soil in a vacant lot between two crumbling warehouses and immediately sees dollar signs! Yeah, he eagerly talks to his new kid about selling out his new breed of corn to a big corporation so it can be eaten all over the world. Naturally the evil kid’s elated and then moves on to convince the local gang bangers and school bullies to start listening to his crazy corn sermons! Soon their all hooked on his schtick and it’s up to his older, newly hipper, formerly amish brother to put and end to his evil plan.
This one never lags, it’s pretty much non stop fun and is chock full of stupid dialogue and some seriously awesome old school horror. I was totally surprised to at how bad ass the special effects are here too, come to find out Screaming Mad George (Predator/The Abyss/Curse II: The Bite) is responsible for the onscreen awesomeness. There’s a bunch of super unique kills, living killer corn, evil scarecrows, corn zombies & even an awesome giant monster at the end!! I was certain being it was ’95 we’d likely have some shitty ass CGI in the mix but instead we get George’s incredible practical fx work. Even the giant monster is a blend of animatronics and stop motion animation and the movie never stops charming the pants off of an old school horror hound. I love these surprisingly well done sequels that are many times completely overlooked by most. The ‘Urban Harvest’ is super action packed, fun filled horror flick, the kind most these days continuously try and replicate. I like how this one appears to be totally trying to play it’s ridiculous plot totally straight, It’s a true gem that’s been lost in the corn field for far too long!! Check this shit out!!