Here’s a sweet little Hong Kong horror/action/comedy hybrid from 1985 that really put a BIG smile on my face, ‘Those Merry Souls’. Yeah this all but forgotten flick has some serious star power, featuring the likes of martial arts legends like the charming Yuen Biao & the late horror icon “Mr. Vampire” himself Lam Ching Ying (RIP) together for one spooky comedic action packed romper.
Now as you can see the poster here. makes it look maybe like a full on comedy, and in many ways ‘Those Merry Souls’ plays out like one. However it also has a serious supernatural aspect and threat that slowly rears it’s head to the final genuinely creepy action packed finale. This one tells the story of two stuntmen one a wildly talented martial artist and his bumbling whiny cousin who’s obsessed with a beautiful local club singer. Oh yeah and their uncle has recently developed a rare creepy ability to astral project and has been helping people who die find their way to the other side. He helps those merry souls but during his waking life doesn’t remember a lick of it ever happening.
The two bosom buddy stuntmen spend most of their time trying to ridiculously find romance and getting into trouble while doing so, one of the best scenes takes place on a beach where Yuen Biao shines showing his kick ass martial arts skills taking on a gang beach bullies in only his skimpy little swim suit. Biao really should have been an international star, he’s got the skills and a similar raw charisma of Jackie Chan. Things do get a bit dark and scary here though and what starts off like the perfect 80’s Hong Kong buddy comedy morphs into a pretty thrilling little supernatural tale.
This happens when their uncle, while in his astral form is instructed to take the soul of his own nephew when he’s injured doing a wild stunt on a movie set. At the moment of truth though he decides to let him live & spare his soul a mistake that costs him his own life and sets forth an evil entity upon them. In a way it’s a tiny bit Final Destination and when they employ the help of their other uncle, played by Lam Ching Ying, who’s of course got some secret magic skills of his own to ward off evil, things get really interesting.
The film’s finale is joyous as the whole gang along with their girlfriends all face off the evil entity along with their taoist priest uncle in an action packed final showdown. The stakes get high and the action is off the rails bonkers in true Hong Kong fashion as the entity possesses members of the group and soon things erupt into a crazy supernatural kung fu battle.
We even get to see Lam Ching Ying and Yuen Biao go at it full force, which is treat to behold. Bottom line here, ‘Those Merry Souls’ is a damn good time balancing out the comedy, kung fu & supernatural elements in all the right ways, something I’ve noticed many Hong Kong films of this era seem to fail at in my opinion more often than succeeding. If you’re looking to get in 80’s Hong Kong Horror I highly recommend ‘Those Merry Souls’ as the perfect party movie to share with a hungry gang of movie maniacs!
And for fans of Yuen and LamChing Ying check this out too..
I’d never seen a Roberta Findlay movie before up until a few days ago, but I’m pretty damn stoked to check out more of her work in the horror genre for sure! ‘The Oracle’ is a sweet yet nasty little horror film from 1985 that took me pleasantly by surprise. It really looks more like it was filmed in the late 70’s, even the clothing styles and general quality of the film has a gritty and dirty grindhouse vibe to it that certainly amplifies the charm. Taking place in the seedy areas of NYC during Christmas time (yeah a new holiday horror flick for the books) Jennifer & her asinine hubby move to a new apartment once occupied by an elderly psychic woman and soon stumble upon her creepy ass ouija board ‘The Oracle’ that she often used to communicate with the spirit world.
Jennifer, hyped on her new place, throws a swingin’ housewarming bash and with everyone witnessing, uses “the oracle” to contact a angry spirit of murdered man who demands bloody revenge upon his killers. From that point on the ghostly presence relentlessly terrorizes her & tries to manipulate her into avenging his death. Eventually she complies, but soon the murderers (the dead dude’s ex-wife & greedy biz partner) become suspicious of her snooping, and they re-hire the psycho who’d carried out the vicious killing before to try and track down Jennifer.
There’s a lot to love here with this mean ass supernatural horror romp. it’s got some truly unique characters, a cool female heroine & the killer is equally interesting being a trans/lesbian villain who’s as nasty as they come for horror movie standard of the day back then. The movie doesn’t go out of it’s way to get the point across, but in today’s landscape I doubt that you could present the character at all in the light portrayed in The Oracle. Still it was interesting deviation from the evil traditionally male killers of the 70’s & 80’s. For the obviously low budget it has it makes great use of it’s big city locales & it’s charming, ambitious special fx work. Interestingly enough this film came out a full year before 80’s cult classic ‘WITCHBOARD’.
These two actually have very similar plots and while Witchboard remains the winner here as far as quality horror there’s definitely something awesome about Findlay’s attempt. It’s nastier and carries a sort of sleezy quality that genre fans of B-movies might actually appreciate more when all is said and done. There’s plenty of subpar acting going on here and decent amount of fairly impressive gore to be found. The end of course tries to go the distance with it’s limited FX budget and in my opinion delivers the goods via a sweet little supernatural encounter.
I’m quite curious to check out more of Findlay’s movies, from what I’ve read it seems she dabbled in directing “X-rated” stuff in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s before tackling the horror genre with this movie in ’85. I’m curious about her string of movies through the 80’s, her most popular being Tenement. If you’re a fan of trashy 80’s horror you just might dig The Oracle & now you’ve got an excuse to give this underrated gem a whirl during the holiday season too!
One thing I love are those weird ass toys of the 70’s & 80’s many of them long forgotten by most. Today I was thinking about a strange action figure line called ‘The Supernaturals’. This bizarre gang of monster toys from 1987 had a gimmick, a spooky 3-D hologram sticker attached to their bodies, often times the heads and torso that really created an incredibly creepy unmistakable look for these action figures. These dudes were pretty damn awesome, each one came with a mini comic book that explained origins of the ghosty heroes and villains.
They also had glow in the dark hands and weapons just to make them even spookier when the lights went out as well as spooktacular vehicles they used in battle. I had a few of these as a kid, they were truly bizarre and that’s one of the main reasons why this toy line was so short lived. Luckily someone was kind enough to upload these old commercials of them so they can truly live on forever!!!
Ok let me clarify my statement above, I’ve got my fingers totally crossed that ‘Ghostbusters 3’ indeed happens, but it seems like us Ghostbusters fans have been teased with the idea of the damn sequel movie happening for far too long. Over the years it’s been a tug of war battle to get this movie made, it’s happening, then it’s not, then it is, then Bill Murray isn’t into it, then Murray is into it but only as a ghost, then instead we get an all female cast movie instead, then the female cast one is getting a sequel, then it’s not, now Ghostbusters 3 is back in development- blah blah blah. Yeah maybe it’s just me but this whole Ghostbusters thing has gotten a bit tiring.
Anyway that all being said, I really DO want part 3 dammit!! I just don’t want to be jerked around, either do it or don’t. Maybe you heard just a day or so ago that Dan Aykroyd had some interesting news that came out of the blue about the third installment to the original story while being interviewed by Dan Rather, he stated “There is a possibility of a reunion with the three remaining Ghostbusters… It’s being written right now, I think Billy will come. The story’s so good. Even if he plays a ghost” the actor said. This certainly gets me excited once again about seeing the remaining characters reunite to take down some ghosts but I can’t help but wonder if this is all just simply more talk. With the passing of Harold Ramis I figured it was truly the last nail in the coffin for a sequel to ever see the light of day. He went on further saying “I think we got a story that’s gonna work. It’s being written by a really good filmmaker, can’t say the names, but they’re a good team, they’re making an effort to bring back all the spirit and the emotion of the first two movies, and then take it into the 21st century with a vernacular that’s needed today to get it a crossed.”
However it seems Dan Aykroyd is back at it again, trying to gather some steam behind the proposed third movie. I really do wonder if Murray would ever truly get on board? I think it’s likely the question of just how good IS the current ‘Ghostbusters 3’ script? I’m fairly certain people would indeed be pretty excited for an official sequel and I think if Bill Murray isn’t down with it they should just do it anyway with Ernie Hudson and Aykroyd in their iconic roles. Perhaps they’re retired from ghost busting as paranormal phenomenon hasn’t been occurring since the events of the second movie? What happens though when strange things begin to happen again, perhaps the two, down on their luck “has beens” get a second chance to shine? Perhaps they’ll need a couple new recruits to help them? There’s most definitely a story there worth exploring and I really do hope Aykroyd can back up his claims and get a REAL sequel green lit. Of course if they could snag Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis to star as well that’d be a true treat for fans. I’m rooting for Dan Aykroyd to make this happen-what do you think?
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).
Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.
It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.
From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!
Here’s yet another entry for all you folks out there who STILL get dvds in the mail from Netflix! I know there aren’t all that many of us left these days, but I’m the type of guy who still thinks dvds are the bees knees! Yeah!! So what of it?!! Don’t get me wrong, I still stream stuff on the online Neflix site but let’s be honest most of that shit SUCKS – Hence why I’ve been combing the dvd Neflix library for lost gems!
Good news folks, I found another gem in their vast sea of aging dvds, this time we’re looking at a movie from Hong Kong from way back in 1987: EVIL CAT. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this cool ass little Chinese horror movie but I’m glad I did cuz it was a ton o’ fun! This crazy ass little movie is jam packed with quirk, 80’s electricity and frantic action sequences, basically everything I dig about the 80’s. Director Dennis Yu brings the fun and amps up some seriously ridiculous shit as we follow the exploits of an evil cat spirit (who’da thunk huh?) that’s released from it’s ancient sealed tomb by a construction crew & unleashed upon Hong Kong in the late 80’s.
The movie moves at brisk pace too, the evil cat spirit moves from body to body kinda like that Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen’ if it was more of a spastic colorful horror romp. It’s actually pretty damn funny when the spirit possesses people, they start acting like wild feral cats growling and scratching like maniacs. It’s pretty cool to see these actors go for it and go pretty far over the top with their possessions.
The evil cat spirit however has problems of it’s own though as we learn over centuries one family has been hunting it and keeping it in check over generations. In the 1980’s there’s an old badass dude from that bloodline who’s dying from cancer who pulls out the old magic bow & arrows from storage to put a stop to the feline madness himself. There’s some sweet plot twists here, crazy characters & some surprising gore that pops in out of nowhere from time to time. The movie never really drags and wears it’s 80’s influences firmly on it’s sleeve. You get a pretty damn fine representation of what Hong Kong was like in the 1980’s, filled with neon and great 80’s fashion. It’s clear if you’re looking for more great crazy cinema from that era, there’s a treasure trove of movies waiting to be discovered from Hong Kong studios.
Evil Cat is definitely worth tracking down and the finale is pretty cool especially when the evil cat possesses a woman who’s nearly as unstoppable as the Terminator! The actual cat spirit is portrayed several times as cool hand drawn animation & then as basically a female cat “creature” pulled from the broadway musical “Cats”.
So while there were several aspects of the movie that could have been done better it was still an incredibly inspired 80’s effort to witness for the first time with no expectations. Also if you’re a fan of kung fu there’s some cool crazy showdowns and plenty of humor thrown into the mix. Some if it being likely being due to some shoddy subtitles and translations that just add more charm to the viewing experience. Track down EVIL CAT or if you still have a Netflix dvd account then throw it into you’re queue!!
We’ve got a ton of movies these days that are trying to be a throwback to the vintage horror classics of the 70’s & 80’s but only a select few of them succeed on the level they attempt. ‘We Are Still Here’ not only succeeds it actually made me forget I was watching a movie released in 2015. What we’ve got here is on helluva ghost story with it’s lead being Scream Queen Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator, From Beyond, Chopping Mall fame which further legitimizes this flick’s already convincing retro time period.
It’s the 1970’s, after the death of their son Bobby in a car accident, Anne (Crampton) and her husband Paul (Andrew Sensenig) have decided to relocate to a new home way out in the boonies of New England. There they hope to find some peace in the midst of their mourning. Paul hopes this move will help his wife snap out the heavy depression she’s recently been dealing with and perhaps will help her begin to move on. No such luck, upon their arrival Anne is convinced her son’s ghost has now manifested in their new home.
As the ghostly events become more intense she decides to ask for help from her close friend May (Lisa Marie), a supposed psychic, and her pot smokin’ free spirit husband Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to try and make contact with Bobby. Shit gets even more freaky, as the weird townsfolk begin revealing the house they’ve moved into’s dark past that’s somehow legendary among them.
It’s a simple premise and just when you think you’re gonna get your average ghost about the house flick you’re knee deep in serious gore. That’s an interesting aspect of this movie, these ghosts will fuck you up big time if you’re nosing around where you’re not wanted. Director Ted Geohegan brings the splatter galore in this grisly tale and does it all old school style via some impressive practical effects.
The Ghosts too are pretty cool looking and the movies got a neat little mystery going on as well. It’s a short sweet little haunting movie that stands in a category all it’s own. You won’t want to miss the final conflict either as things get all ‘Evil Dead II’ pretty quick! Also this appears to be Ted’s first time directing and it’s a great debut. Cool to see he was born right here in Oregon a few miles from where I live! Check this flick out on Amazon, Itunes, Google play etc etc. It’s pretty awesome!
Housebound has got to be one of my favorite movies of 2014, easily one of the best “horror” comedies I’ve seen in quite some time! This splendid little flick from New Zealand is filled with a ton of mystery, some great scares, creepy cool atmosphere and a lot of laughs. This one kinda plays out like a twisted Scooby Doo adventure. It’s a simple premise here, our troubled heroine Kylie gets caught trying to rob an ATM and is soon sentenced to home detention back to the house she grew up with her mother. And what a large creepy house it is!
It doesn’t take long before things get weird as Kylie one evening insists on using the phone, while her chatty mother tells her she’s taking an important phone call. Leading to one of my favorite moments in the movie, as Kylie heads of flustered into her bedroom she turns on the radio to a station that’s got a “Coast to Coast” style paranormal program in progress. She notices they’re taking a live phone call from a woman who sounds oddly just like her mother, claiming that the house she lives in is haunted.
From here the story gets incredibly interesting taking twists and turns galore and to give away anymore of the plot would be a crime! Housebound is a nonstop thrill ride and will have you guessing right up to the very end. It’s a crazy little adventure, with real heart at it’s core. That’s not to say it’s devoid of scares or even gore, this one has it all tightly wrapped into one helluva humorous yet creepy package. The house where much of it takes place is pretty awesome as well, filled with more than enough odd rooms, long hallways, creaking doors and mysterious closets and cabinets! It’s also got a great sequence with a Teddy Ruxpin type talking bear that’s pretty damn incredible as well as the most genius use of a cheese grater you’re likely to ever see. So I highly recommend checking this one out if you’re looking for a great Saturday night popcorn flick! A ton of fun & one of the best flicks I’ve seen all year…
I love Stan Winston, he made soooo many amazing movie monsters come to life with his genius special effects wizardry! From the Predator, to the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to the incredible Pumpkinhead! Yes Pumpkinhead is one of my fave monster movies of the 1980’s hands down, and it was also directed by good ol’ Stan! Now let it be known that he really didn’t direct much, The Terminator 2 mini-film for the Universal Studios theme park and the Michael Jackson movie/video “Ghosts” in 1997 I thought was it for him. But I just found out today that he did indeed direct another full length feature film besides Pumpkinhead, so naturally I was pumped to check out his follow-up he did back in 1990! Well it just so happens to be a flick titled “A Gnome Named Norm” starring Anthony Michael Hall and a horny ass Gnome who’s lookin’ too impress the ladies!
Check out the trailer:
Well, now isn’t that something?! It looks like perhaps Winston was the inspiration behind flicks like “Munchie”?
Not quite what I was expecting after motherfuckin’ Pumpkinhead, but hey I gotta say that ‘A Gnome Named Gnorm’ looks like a damn good time!! So this one will go on my list of must watch movies-however this one I may need to view with a gang of friends and a few too many drinks!
You can watch the full feature on youtube too! This movie also went by the name ‘Upworld’, it’s crazy to find movies like this that somehow slipped under the radar!
The spookiness doesn’t stop after Halloween! Nope it’s The Day of the Dead today so check out this super incredible stop motion animation short from 2002 by Kirk Kelley “Dia De Los Muertos”!
It’s an awesome little nightmarish vision that will surely get you into the mood to party with the dead! I think he brilliantly captures the spirit of it all…