I just checked out a crazy fun episode of the 2006 Stephen King series ‘Nightmares and Dreamscapes”.The very first episode “Battleground” is a blast, LITERALLY! It seems this series went under the radar of most horror fans, probably because the rest of the episodes are pretty mediocre adaptations of some of Stephen King’s short stories of the same name.
Battleground starring William Hurt though is quite the exception to say the least. Directed by Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson) it of course features some pretty SPECIAL fx work. The premise of the story makes perfect sense to for Henson to be at the helm here and this almost demented “Small Soldiers” style story is a sweet little bloody brawl that’s enthralling to watch unfold.
William Hurt (R.I.P. who doesn’t speak a word in the entire episode) plays a cunning hitman who’s hired to take out the brainy CEO of a prominent toy corporation. It seems like a slam, dunk easy job and he heads home to his lavish high rise apartment after doing the dirty little deed. However it doesn’t take long for strange things to begin happening when he receives a mysterious package delivered to him.
Come to find out it’s filled with a shit load of toy soldiers as well as toy army tanks, planes, helicopters and jeeps. He doesn’t think much of it until he is viciously attacked as the toys aggressively come to life with one goal: to destroy this giant assassin!
What transpires is a pretty intense and bloody battle between a full grown assassin and a vicious toy battalion in Hurt’s fancy highrise and it’s one helluva spectacle. It even harkens back to such classics as the Trilogy of Terror’s Zuni fetish warrior doll and the classic King horror anthology, Cat’s Eye!
Brian Henson also does sn excellent job here directing, creating truly tense thrills and some really inventive special effects using very minimal CGI and mostly real human beings to create some truly stunning action sequences with the toys. There’s a great little special effects featurette on the DVD that shows how he brought this gruesome little minature war to life.
Hurt also does a really great job as the silent assassin, who relies on all of his expertise to try and survive the encounter. You really get a sense that he has finally met his match, wasting no time trying to figure out why or how this is happening and just simply focuses on how to exterminate the enemy. I highly recommend checking this wildly unique little episode down as it certainly packs a wallop! Thankfully someone has posted it right on YouTube:
Jim Henson’s 1986 nearly forgotten classic ‘A Christmas Toy’ is definitely on my list this year for holiday viewing. I’ll admit that I’ve yet to see this one, but from my limited poking around here on it, this definitely sounds right up my alley as a bit of a darkly unique Christmas tale. I see some major ‘Toy Story’ vibes here as there’s a gang of toys who spring to life when humans leave the room and keep order amongst themselves based on who’s the most beloved by their child owners!
We’ve got a whole new gang of puppets to behold from Henson who aren’t the classic Muppets and apparently the stakes and mental health of the toy’s are quite dangerous here. If one is seen by human eyes while moving around they apparently freeze in their tracks for the rest of their lives. I also am noticing the striking similarities to Child’s Play’s “Chucky” doll in the red headed female doll-coincidence? Hmmm….
Henson around this time was involved with a lot of projects and puppets were really all the rage. Movies like The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth were dominating human consciousness. A year later in 1987 Henson’s TV series “The Storyteller” would come out and that’s something I missed out on back in the day that’s been on my radar to check out for years. It’s a shame that in today’s day and age something like Henson’s fully hands on puppetry fails to somehow enthrall the masses in the way that CGI seems to captivate and dominate media.
So yes, I’m going to check this one out on Christmas eve this year and see if it’s really truly a lost holiday classic. One thing I’ve heard in several reviews is that The Christmas toy actually plays out more like a horror movie with real stakes and a creepy witch like villain named “Meteora”. This sounds exactly like something as a fan of weird old holiday kids specials that just might be right up my alley. Have you seen it? If so is this one a must watch?
Damn! Nostalgia is running rampant today, but first I wanted to report my thoughts quick on Brightburn, which is currently in theaters! I checked this one out yesterday at a matinee and was pleasantly surprised by this nasty little supervillain origin story. If you’re a fan of Superman you’re sure to find this one quite intriguing. If you’re a horror buff you’ll just might get a kick out of this unique creepy “superhero” tale. Brightburn is essentially the origin story of Superman but instead of him growing up to be the beacon of good we’ve grown to love he goes the opposite direction and gets real nasty to the human race. Once the main character kid realizes (around puberty) that he’s got superhuman powers developing, he quickly decides he’s superior to all humans and sets off on a villainous path of small scale destruction. Playing with people like an evil kid with a magnifying glass on a sunny day around an anthill.
Raised on the farm with his step parents just like good ol’ Clark Kent, he starts off as an innocent nerdy kid right up until his 12th birthday, basically deciding to go on a killing spree, off-ing nearly anyone who gives him a dirty look with his new found ass kickin’ abilities. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but luckily this is a pretty sweet “smaller budget” mainstream horror movie, unlike anything in the genre I’ve ever really seen before. I guess it might be a good companion piece to say, ‘Split’ which turned out to be a supervillain origin story in disguise. However unlike ‘Split’ this one’s R-rated, so there’s some pretty disturbing gory moments sprinkled about that really took me by surprise & some pretty nice visual fx work as well. It’s tense, well acted and deserves a sequel, as I’d love to see what happens to this evil little maniac next. It definitely exceed my expectations and if they do make a sequel hopefully humankind can figure out some way to put this pint sized supervillain in his damn place!
Next we got a new trailer for the final installment of Rambo! Titled “Last Blood” we get to see just what the hell John Rambo’s been up to since the last extra bloody installment from 2008! Yeah Stallone is back again as the iconic anti-hero and this time it looks as if he’s single handedly (of course) going to battle against a powerful drug cartel. The trailer looks promising, maybe not quite as wild as the last go round, but still, for his age it seems Rambo’s got one more damn fight left in him!
Next is the big one, the trailer for ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’! I never thought I’d ever really see the day we’d actually get a prequel to the beloved 80’s Jim Henson puppet masterpiece. I’m pretty impressed with what we’re seeing here, as it does feature some stunning puppetry. As great as it all looks I’m going to say honestly I’m a bit surprised with how CGI heavy it is as well. I’m not disappointed because I think practical fx and CGI used together tastefully is the best way to pull things off. Also it’s 2019, I hardly expect any mainstream production to go fully practical. Anyway this looks great if haven’t seen it yet check it out and if you have watch it again!!
Finally we’ve gotten the official trailer for Michael Dougherty’s upcoming Christmas horror flick simple titled “Krampus” and it looks amazing!!! I’m so stoked for this film this Christmas I’d put it directly behind ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ as the movie I’ve been most excited for in 2015. Dougherty’s the guy responsible for the incredible 2007 Halloween themed movie ‘Trick R Treat’. If you’ve seen that then you know he’s got the skills to give us an incredible holiday horror movie!
Yep I’ve waited it seems my whole life for a proper Krampus horror movie, let’s face it, it’s completely absurd that it’s somehow taken this long to get one. If you’ve yet to see this trailer check it out right now:
But wait! Dougherty’s ‘Krampus’ flick has an opponent this year in the form another movie which features Krampus as one of it’s main antagonists, ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ is also slated for release this year! Not only does this movie feature Krampus, but also features William Shatner and a horde of evil zombie elves who attack Santa Claus! This one also seems to feature, by a split second in the trailer a battle between Santa and muthfukin’ Krampus!! Ahhhh!
This year we’ve got some good ones to look forward to that’s for sure. So I’m a bit torn thus far on which one will be the “definitive” Krampus flick. My gut tells me Dougherty’s is going to be the clear victor as I’m digging the look so far of Krampus in his movie as huge hulking frightening monster while in ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ he looks totally fierce but more of a man beast bodybuilder dude. I’ve also heard Kevin Smith had a Krampus movie in the works (but maybe he decided to jump ship as the competition got fierce) and also that Jim Henson studios were developing one called “Happy Krampus”. My guess is we won’t be seeing these until next year. So what do you think? Which of the two Krampus movies do YOU think will emerge victorious in this year’s battle of the Krampuses?!!
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!
Ever have a memory of a TV show as a kid that as an adult you couldn’t remember what it was called or for that matter if the thing even really existed? Well today I want to spotlight one of those very lost/found memories in way of an old Halloween special waaay back from 1981 called “The Crown of Bogg”!! What makes this one special you might wonder?
Well being a big fan of puppets (I mean who isn’t right?) this one was made by none other than Paul Fusco, the damn creator of ALF!!! Well this one aired long before Alf was gobbling up cats on nationwide tv it’s nonetheless just as charming and weird! This one might bring to mind classics like The Fraggles with it’s strange muppet style, wacky songs and humor. With a character names like “King Mildew” you know this one is worth a watch if you’re looking for a odd long lost Halloween special to tune into before you watch some more well known classics!! Check it!! Damn how I do love Youtube!!
I am thoroughly bummed out that “Lessons Learned“, the short film by Toby Froud somehow slipped through my radar here undetected! Being a huge fan of Both Labyrinth & The Dark Crystal this film is on my must see list and Mr. Froud I find also lives right here in Portland, Oregon! Now that’s not even the most interesting part, Toby is kind of a legendary guy, his parents created the puppets and landscapes of The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth, but get this, he also starred in Labyrinth as the legendary baby that David Bowie kidnaps!!
So these days he lives in Pdx and works on puppets at Laika Studios on movies like Paranorman and the upcoming Box Trolls. Most recently however he’s completed his epic puppet short film, “Lessons Learned”, which was funded on Kickstarter. Now the film is complete and screenings are popping up. The movie looks pretty awesome & it really looks like it takes place in the same universe as The Dark Crystal!
So check out this trailer for the film which he teamed with Heather Henson (Jim Henson’s Daughter)! I think if he could follow this up with a feature length film, in the same vein it would excite legions of people all over the world. Lessons Learned will screen again as part of the Portland Film Festival in August. For those not in Portland, it has been selected as part of FilmQuest in Salt Lake in July, and will possibly play at festivals elsewhere pending acceptance.
I had to take a moment here to share with you a little something awesome I stumbled upon recently! Being a giant fan of anything and everything monsters it was to my surprise to pleasantly find out about Nightmerriment!
Nightmerriment is a one man operation out of Portland Oregon run by Matthew Hopkins. Hopkins is a puppet/monster maker and his creations are incredibly creepy, cute and fierce all at the same time. I guess when I first got a glance of his work I pictured him working in the Jim Henson Workshop, putting together monster puppets for movies like The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth. Self described as monster art somewhere between sculpture and puppetry, his creations look like they could come to life at any moment despite being showcased like taxidermy on wooden mounts.
Most of his creations from what I understand are for sale, so in fact we all could own a little creature of our own! Hipsters aren’t the only thing found in Portland these days, now we’ve finally got something real cool to brag about-hand made Monsters!
Check it out and Nightmerriment’s facebook page and follow his creations!
I ran across this amazing Kickstarter campaign for “The Mill at Calder’s End” an amazing looking short film by special effects wizard Kevin Mcturk. He’s already worked on some great movies like Hellboy II and the awesome horror comedy Black Sheep to name a few. Now he’s completing a fully puppetized film in the vein of Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe.
This film brings to mind movies like The Dark Crystal, which when you watch it still, it’s mind blowing piece of movie making. The behind the scenes are incredible and I think creative hands on movies like that are nearly obsolete these days. No matter how amazing computer generated imagery is or will become I think we can all appreciate something as incredible as a fully puppetized film full of real sets. So check this little video out it’s pretty amazing. He’s shooting for a $50,000 goal and god damn do I hope he makes it…
This clip brightened my day today as it brought back some great memories of being a kid. The legendary Star Wars episode of The Muppet Show! This is a great skit here where Star Wars and Pigs in Space collide! Enjoy!!