I’ve been looking forward to this new Nic Cage horror flick for a long time and the trailer for ‘Willy’s Wonderland’ has finally dropped. Sure like the 2019 ‘Banana Splits’ movie this one is essentially another version of the ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’, which has been in developmental cinematic hell for years. ‘Banana Splits’ was pretty underwhelming, so I’ve been hoping that this Nic Cage lead film would get it right as I do quite love the idea of the creepy ‘Chuck E. Cheese/Showbiz Pizza’ style animatronic cartoon characters coming to life at night and causing bloody chaos. So yeah, we have Cage here hired as a handy man at a cursed amusement park where the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” scenario busts wide open. Check out this sweet poster!
From the trailer I’ve gotta say I was a teensy bit let down, I know this isn’t academy award fare we’re dealing with, but after starring in the incredible ‘Mandy’ I’ve high hopes for Nic to return with another modern horror classic. This however, from the trailer at least looks kinda chintzy, reminds me of something Cage churns out quickly to pay his mound of back taxes rather than a quality B monster movie. Of course I’m checking it out when drops but I was hoping for a thicker atmosphere of spookiness and the general vibe of it all feels slightly like a flimsy Cage cash grab. Even the cinematography feels a bit cheap at this point. But hey I guess having high hopes for another ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ copycat should NOT have been that high! Dammit Cage please prove me wrong here! What do YOU think?!
If you wanna go down the animatronic cartoon character rabbit hole from way back in the day for some real chills check THIS out:
And this for the WHOLE history on the restaurants from yesteryear that inspired ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’:
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.