Hey fungi enthusiasts! If you’re looking for something truly stange & spooky to check out this Halloween season (and I know you are) then look no further- It’s time to take a trip of the sea shores of Japan to an uncharted incredibly creepy deserted island in 1963’s psychotronic horror: Mantango! I’m going to admit I haven’t really explored a lot of 1960s horror especially from Japan. However I’m a huge sucker for “stranded on an island” movie concepts and this one looked like it hit all the right beats from the trailer I saw. Essentially it’s like a demented episode of Gilligan’s island and much of the movie actually does actually kinda feel just like it, in all the best ways.
Visionary director Ishiro Honda paints an incredibly atmospheric nightmare landscape on the open sea, with a band of tourists on a fancy yacht who find themselves in the midst of a violent sea storm. Tired and hungry they take refuge on on a mysterious exotic tropical island infested with strange colorful mushrooms. There’s something extremely unsettling yet whimsical about the whole endeavor as the crew struggles to get along and and also find food that’s safe to eat there.
The most of the characters here I found to be a bit on the bland side, but it really doesn’t matter much because the beautiful bizarre portrait on display here of the island itself ends up as the true star of the entire show. The quietness of the foggy remote island lends much to the impending dread in the thick air as soon our cast of characters find themselves with hungry bellies, drawn to consume the beautiful fungi. It’s like they’ve spent the week in the garden of Adam-and-Eve but instead of colorful fruits instead enticed by mind altering fungus!
Matango is somewhat of a slow burn, but it’s a really fun “trip” right from the get go. All of the set pieces from the on the ship and especially the island are truly a spectacle to behold. It really makes me miss real practical sets, as many of the movies now in the fantasy genre just resort to bad CGI green screen backdrops. Being made in 1963, everything has that special earthy but put together carefully by hand look to it of that era, looking like some high budget theme park attraction, blanketed in roaming fogs.
There’s also some some legitimately creepy visuals to behold, every bit of Matango’s landscape looks like at any moment could come alive and grab you. As the tourists become more restless and frustrated it’s clear something sinister has taken hold of their psyche. And while the movie secondary moniker is ‘Attack of the Mushroom People’ I would say that’s a bit of a stretch here. There’s really Not a helluva of a lot of “attacking” going on until maybe the movie’s final 10 minutes, but it’s definitely worth the wait once the mushroom people do arrive.
Even by today’s standards these creatures look quite incredible, feeling like something materilized from a strange fever dream. Matango has definitely peaked my interest in Japanese movies from this era, this is a cool little mind bending bit of eye candy that’s that is most definitely worth a watch this Halloween season if you’re in the mood for something truly unique! I got it on blu ray recently from Far East Flix!
I’m willing to bet you’re just like me and never heard of this near “forgotten ’til now” 80s gem from Japan: The Legend of The Stardust Brothers! This incredible movie from 1985 is most definitely one of the most unique oddities I’ve stumbled upon in quite sometime. An incredibly ambitious musical gem, packed with practical effects and eighties fashion that will likely knock your neon socks right off!
It tells the tale of two struggling rival musicians: one a rowdy punk rocker and the other an egotistical wanna be popstar who meet a mysterious man while sharing the same bill at a seedy night club. He offers them the contract of a lifetime, claiming that within one week, if they follow all the rules, the two of them will be rocketed to full blown pop super stardom. That is as long as they join forces, from that point on become The Stardust Brothers and tell the world they are indeed real bonafide brothers.
Now admittedly I’m not a real big fan of musicals, there’s only a few that I really love (Popeye, The Wizard of Oz & Little Shop of Horrors immediately come to mind). However this one has now EASILY made the list as a must watch and it’s something I’ll be watching over and over again. Essentially it’s the wildly unpredictable story of the bizarre rise and fall of this pop duo. It’s firmly glued together with a series of incredible little musical vignettes that are a visual and sonic feast.
A sweet mixture of punk rock, powerpop & some cool new wave numbers, connecting a series of incredibly ambitious music videos within one insane narrative. There are touches of the supernatural as well as a ton of amazing special effects, stop motion & practical monster effects that really impress, especially if your a fan of the 80s. It’s also filled to the brim with some of the best Japanese fashion of the era to go along with the catchy songs. As I write this, their theme song is still stuck firmly in my brain. I’d love to get my hands on some vinyl of the soundtrack. Aside from the cool music, luckily it’s got a pretty unique story that blends elements of scifi, horror and even a bit of romance. It’s unexpected twists and turns deliver a frenetic, action packed finale that will leave you pondering the events of the entire film. Its all done with a heroic dose of heart too.
Just how far do you really go to live the life of a superstar without any of the hard work required to get to the top? The Stardust Bros go the distance and the musical journey is definitely a wacky one worth taking. Apparently director Makoto Tezuka tried to catch lightning in a bottle a few years ago by producing a direct sequel, but after doing a little poking around it doesn’t seem like he was quite to able to recreate the neon electromagnetic magic of the first.
In the meantime I highly recommend picking this one up on a newly released blu ray from SRS Cinema. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is packed with pure charisma, tons of vibrant youthful energy and shows you exactly how inventive some directors in the 1980s were in Japan with a limited budget! Don’t sleep on this one!
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.
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!
These videos are making quite a stir this week as Boston Dynamics has released a new video of their top robot star “Atlas” in motion! Next to Atlas in the video you can also see a few of his creepy robot buddies are also ready for “action”.
The opening looks like a team of robot superheroes ready to hit the real world and kick some butt. From what I understand these robots are being developed for the military-let’s just hope they don’t fullfill the prophecy of Skynet! For now let’s at least enjoy the vision of some pretty incredible technology as science fiction slowly becomes reality…
Ok, So Hugh Jackman went on Twitter the other day asking the fans exactly what they wanna see for the “final” Wolverine movie. So listen up Hugh I’m a real fan of Wolverine and here’s my real thoughts on your final movie outing as the character! First let me get this out of the way, I loved the “Old Man Logan” storyline and that is why this next Wolverine movie should absolutely NOT be based on it. Primarily Hugh you’re just not OLD enough yet!! Seriously, you should do “Old Man Logan” ten years to fifteen years from now. How rad would that be to see you come back for this when you are actually an older guy?!
Right now focus on the final flick being just a great Wolverine story that can be done right giving the fans exactly what they want. Second ‘Old Man Logan’ done right would feature Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and The Incredible Hulk. That at the moment just does not seem possible due to legal reasons so HOLD OFF on this until it IS the right time where you can really do the story justice. Don’t fuck this up Hugh!! Work on getting these things figured out and then come back and give the fans what they truly deserve. There’s no Rush for this storyline.
Ok now let’s get onto what I have seen the fans asking for. Number one of most all the comments I have read want to see you suit up in one of the classic costumes!! I can say personally that I agree with this. Give us the classic comic Wolverine before you sign off on the character. Fans have been asking for this forever, it’s a no brainer. Do it Hugh. You might wanna consider the black, brown and tan costume or the version worn in X-Force which would probably translate better to film. Let’s face it the blue, yellow and black one might be a bit much.
Alright then, the other most common comment I’ve seen is concerns about the rating of the movie. Fans want and R-rated Wolverine movie dammit! Seriously we need to see what a real bezerker rage would look like from a guy with unbreakable metal claws would really look like. Wolverine needs to stab, slice and dice like he does in the comics. It’s crazy how little blood is seen on screen from an enraged animalistic mutant. Let’s really see wolverine go nuts one last time . I think this WILL happen once the studio sees how Deadpool fares. No more mediocre, watered down Wolverine go out with a real bang!
Lastly give us a truly great villain for him to face! Let’s see Lady Deathstrike come back looking more like she did in the comics along with The Reavers! How awesome would that be?
Or have Wolverine head off to Madripoor to retire and face off against Razorfist, Bloodsport and Roughhouse! That was a super cool & huge part of Logan’s past and could include some great almost Indiana Jones style of jungle adventure.
Or how about Omega Red tracking down Logan he’d be quite a sight on the big screen and a great classic villain!
Or have Wolverine head off to the woods of Canada to get away from it all and end up trying to survive and save innocents from The Wendigo?! Now that’d be intensely creepy adventure…
Or Lastly have Wolverine tracked down by Alpha Flight, this would be a great way to introduce a new team franchise and an intense part of Logan’s history that has yet to be told or even mentioned.
So there you have it thoughts from a real fan! Make this shit happen already!! What do you all think would be the best Wolverine story for Hugh to star in as his “final” appearance?
Here’s a crazy ass looking flick I’m pretty pumped to check out from Joe Lynch (Knights of Badassdom) set to be released Feb. 27th! It looks to me like Salma Hayek could be the new Uma Thurman as this one looks like it’s gonna give Kill Bill a run for it’s money in total crazy over the top action!
“Everly” is a thriller centered on a woman who faces down a cast of colorful bloodthirsty assassins sent by her ex, a deadly mob boss, while holed up alone in her apartment building. Yep it’s Salma Hayek vs. The Yakuza and so far this one is looking like a Tarantino wet dream! Check this out if you haven’t already!
I’m taking a moment here to share a new song from my latest musical endeavor The Davis Baby! Yes it’s named after that little mutant monster baby from the 70’s horror flick “It’s Alive”. See back in the mid 90’s I lived in Wisconsin & I played in a pop punk band called Ben Grim, we were inspired by bands like Descendents/ALL, The Doughboys, The Hard-ons ect, we released some records and toured around the US with our best buddies Fun Size (one of the best pop punk bands of the 90’s). It was some of the best times of my life, as Bryan Adams might say. So I decided to put together a group today that sort of brought that old Ben Grim sound back.
We wrote four songs of crunchy old school power pop the way we would have done it back in the Ben Grim days. The project features my former band mate Joel Vega, who sang and played guitar in Ben Grim with me, my old pal Kevin Carl from lates 80’s/90’s band G-Whiz & Jim Wadsworth my good friend/fellow D&D player from Portland, Oregon band Danger Death Ray. We posted a FREE/name your price download of our new song “Laid to Rest”. It’s meant to be free but bandcamp doesn’t just let you list the track as purely “free”. So please no need to pay just download it!
It’s gonna be featured on our upcoming split ep with Higley (Kevin Carl & Duane Kiener of G-Whiz, Kris Roe of The Ataris & Bill Stevenson of Descendents/ALL/Black Flag) out soon on SP Records. The song also features Mark Arnold from Big DRILL Car on guitar. Which we were fully stoked to have play on it as Big DRILL Car remains to this day one of my favorite bands ever!
Download The Davis Baby for FREE here https://thedavisbaby.bandcamp.com/
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I’m trying to get the word out on this project, and it’s tough in this day and age to get anything out there on your own in the vast sea of the internet, so if you like it please help me share the song-maybe we’ll record more or start playing live!
So today we got the news that Hugh Jackman and James Mangold will be back for another solo Wolverine adventure. I say this is good news overall as “The Wolverine” was actually pretty decent until it’s out of place cartoony finale. It was a solid PG-13 attempt at telling a classic yet highly altered Wolverine movie comic book adaptation taken from the legendary Chris Claremont / Frank Miller limited series from 1982. They almost pulled it off too, until in the film’s final act when Mangold suddenly remembered he was making a Hollywood blockbuster and shoved a giant robot version of The Silver Samurai down our throats….uggh…Hollywood can really be the pits sometimes.
So anyway I’ve put together five classic Wolverine stories from the comic books that should be contenders for the next movie. At this point it’s common knowledge they’ll butcher some part of the story, but hey a guy can dream right? So listen up all you Hollywood numbskulls cause here at Universal Dork you’ll get my guidance toward making a movie that Wolverine flick fans deserve. Before I start the list though let me set up a few rules for the next flick.
First make this damn installment “Rated R”! The fans have spoken, we want some blood and guts in the next film. I wanna see him slice some people’s arms off, cut people in half ect ect. There’s no way a guy with adamantium claws wouldn’t cause a complete bloodbath while in battle. So give us some realism this time. Second let’s keep the story and visuals consistent if it’s gonna be cartoony then keep the whole flick that way, don’t insert some cartoon bullshit into an otherwise serious storyline. Keep with the tone of the movie. Lastly lets keep it character driven, keep it personal and let’s not get too many other characters or mutants in the mix, the last film was good in this way. Wolverine wasn’t saving the world, he was on a personal mission. These stories are where he works best, as a loner, when he’s out in the real world, drinkin’ at the bar and some serious shit goes down. Ok now onto my plot suggestions:
#5. Old Man Logan- This was quite an interesting modern Wolverine storyline and since Jackman is getting a bit older this might be a great one to make into a movie. However there could be some problems as The Hulk and Hawkeye are owned now by Disney. Perhaps they could settle on something that’d make it possible for these characters to cross over? Or Maybe this movie could be filmed in 10 years from now when Jackman is truly age appropriate for the story line. A futuristic Wolverine story with Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye would be pretty awesome and of course seeing Logan take on The Hulk would be quite a treat as well!!
#4. Kitty Pryde and Wolverine: Movie based on the 1984 mini-series could be a great sequel to “The Wolverine” as it takes Logan and Kitty Pryde who would of course be played by Ellen Page, who’s already stated she wants to make a solo film of her character from the movies, on an adventure together. So what better way to do this than add Jackman into the mix and kill two birds with one stone? Continue reading
I won’t lie, I’ve been looking forward to finally seeing the trailer for ‘The Wolverine’ for quite some time now. The wait is over, we finally got to see a glimpse of what we’re in store for this summer. As you may know I loathed X-men Origins: Wolverine with a passion. I still have a hard time pumping myself up for any Hugh Jackman Wolverine stuff after enduring that giant heaping turd of a film. However I’m a fair guy and give things more than their fair share of chances, though I’ve said here before that I’d actually love a Wolverine reboot with a whole new cast. Still I am reaching deep down within my soul and looking past the last couple Wolverine based flicks and again giving Hugh one LAST chance to redeem himself as everyone’s favorite berserker. So I watched the trailer several times now and to me this looks like a pretty solid attempt at a ‘decent” Wolverine adventure.
Did it wow me like I was hoping? No. Did it suck as bad as I was expecting? Not at all. I give this teaser a solid B. This meaning that it could go one of two ways. Way down or way up on the scale of what us true Wolverine fans have really always wanted. First I gotta say Jackman looks good as he always has in the role, he’s a great actor and fully capable of bringing us the best Wolverine performance we’re likely to ever see on screen. I can be knit picky about wanting Wolverine’s crazy comic book hair all day, but hey this is Hollywood and they want to make Wolverine super sexy, not a freaky, hairy little five foot tall mutant with fucked up hair. I get it. I let go of ever seeing that version of the character on screen.
So with this trailer we see Logan apparently heading back to Japan to become “mortal” because he’s tired of living forever with all the pain he’s endured in his life. It appears Lord Shingen weakens his healing factor much like in the original Claremont/Miller limited series from 1982 which this movie is loosely based on. However in that story he heads to Japan to find his fiancee has been forced into marriage by her father Lord Shingen, to an abusive Yakuza crimeboss. Hence Wolverine goes batshit crazy against a clan of ninjas ect.
This movie version looks like it’s trying to head into a “more epic” storyline, amping up the special effects and including a bunch of villains into the mix. This to me could be the first sign of a mistake in the movie. Trying to cram too much into a perfectly human story of love and revenge. However it’s really too soon to jump to any conclusions. One thing that appears to be missing is the blood and violence needed to properly tell the store of a man with razor sharp blades indestructibly bound to his knuckles. This movie better not skimp on the blood. I want to see Wolverine’s claws slice and dice like they do in the comic, in all of the past films we never see any blood, severed arms, legs, ect. I know this is a PG-13 movie but at least give us a little in the way of what sort of damage this mutant would do in a real world with weapons like that. Again, too soon to tell, this movie could indeed give us all that and more. I just can’t take another bloodless kiddie Wolverine flick. So all that said I wasn’t blown away by the trailer. It has potential, unfortunately we don’t yet know if it will finally raise the bar to the true potential of what an amazing Wolverine flick can and should be….what do you think?