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 never even knew a movie existed where Charles Bronson and Will Sampson (Chief Bromden from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’) teamed up to battle a giant albino monster buffalo up until a couple weeks ago. But yeah ‘The White Buffalo’ is just that, a wild west adventure flick that channels ‘Jaws’ in obvious ways but alsogives a lot more to ponder upon later. This 1977 action flick features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickock who’s haunted by nightmares of a vicious monster buffalo, so much so that he’s developed a bad habit of grabbin’ his pistols during the dreams and randomly firing it in real life while he’s in a deep slumber.
The visions intensify and soon Bronson’s on a cross country quest to track down this pesky monster. There’s some great action in between of course where Bronson kicks a ton of ass and gets into some crazy saloon shootouts, cuz let’s not forget what he’s best known for, over the top ass kickin’ action. Meanwhile the awesome Will Sampson plays the legendary Crazy Horse, who’s daughter happens to be slaughtered by the giant buffalo in a bloody massacre on his settlement and it inspires a quest of revenge against the beast.
I really dig this forgotten gem, from the cool sets to the atmospheric gothic journey when Bronson heads off on into the mountains in a stage coach, to the drama between Hickock and Crazy Horse as they try to come to terms with the white man’s dominance in the world. Of course my favorite part of this 70’s horror/action hybrid is the threat of the giant beast looming in the mountians, which I read was inspired by the success of ‘Jaws’. The creature appears within an almost dream like landscape, even when outside of Bronson’s nightmares.
The giant beast is actually pretty well done I think, considering the times, using animatronics and puppetry and well placed camera angles. there’s some pretty bloody and intense scenes later as well when the duo finally confronts the albino behemoth. Considering the movie had a PG rating back then at least it gets nice and dirty when it needs to. We all know those 70’s “PG” rated flicks can feel a lot more like an R rated movie in modern times. The movie definitely works best showcasing the unlikely alliance between Bronson & Sampson and does it’s best to show what sort of bonds and trust can develop against a greater threat. I had a blast with this one and it’s easily become one of my favorite Bronson movies! Track this one down, it’s a unique little largely forgotten monster flick!
I recently found a copy of the rare horror movie ‘The Keep’ from 1983 and finally checked it out for the first time last night. I’ve wanted to see this one for a long time, mainly because of how damn awesome the movie’s cover/poster artwork is, the it’s VHS cover always stuck with from when I was a kid hanging around in the horror sections of the videos stores while my parents were distracted.
The Keep was directed by Michael Mann, who I’ve always loved for his 1986 movie Manhunter, which was the first big screen appearance of Hannibal Lecter. So it seems this particular movie has been kinda shoved under the rug as Mann has admitted that he’s not a big fan of it. At least not a fan of the cut that was theatrically released. Apparently his version of the movie was originally 210 minutes long! Whoah! Supposedly Paramount told him to edit it down to just two hours, that version still didn’t sit well with test audiences so they edited the movie down even further to a mere 96 minutes. Of course that’s one of the main reasons why the movie is admittedly pretty hard to make any real sense of. It’s a slow burn, but I knew that from the start, and knew it wasn’t really your typical horror movie. Instead I viewed it for what it really is, a surreal, dream like horror fantasy and it really works well as exactly that.
It’s based around a group of Nazis who are sent to guard an huge, old, mysterious fortress in a Romanian mountain pass. One of them releases an powerful force trapped within the walls while thinking they’ll discover some sort of treasure behind them. A weird stranger senses this from his home back in Greece and travels to the keep to try and destroy the sinister force. As Nazi soldiers are eliminated, a Jewish father / daughter duo who both have information on the secrets of the bizarre stronghold arrive on the scene to make sense of the ghostly happenings. It’s a cool set up, but it’s a bit hard to comprehend as it’s filled with plot holes and many unanswered questions, likely that’d been explored in the mega extended version.
It’s also more of an art film really than a horror flick at the end of the day. It’s filled with ripe, hazy dream like atmosphere from start to finish, it’s a visual treat with a mostly quiet pace to it. When the creature though arrives on the scene from the walls of the keep it does get pretty intense and the finale is filled with a ton of great sequences that surely must’ve influenced a modern film maker like Panos Cosmatos (Mandy, Beyond the Black Rainbow). There are some amazing set pieces here, most filled with creepy fog, a pretty impressive hulk of a monster and some really excellent special fx work to behold as well. It certainly excels in it’s creation of a portal from another dimension spilling into our reality.
The cast also is pretty awesome as well, Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne and a much younger Ian Mckellan make this whole experience that much more enjoyable. Byrne plays a crazy Nazi and Mckellan shines as a sort of hero of the movie, being forced to work alongside the Nazis. Yeah folks, Ian was at one time “young” even though he’s still oddly kinda old even way back in 1983! I also have to mention the totally epic score from soundtrack legends Tangerine Dream, I gotta track the soundtrack down. The Keep was a delight to finally see after all these years, this movie desperately needs a re-release on blu-ray/dvd this time with the full 210 minutes of Mann’s vision!!
Here’s another pretty neat little creature feature from 1991 I’ve been wanting to see for a while now, well luckily I scored a cool VHS copy of the movie at thrift shop. As I’ve said before my favorite type of horror flick’s a monster movie and that’s exactly what this here is nothing more nothing less. Though released in ’91 it feels like a full on ’80’s movie, with tons of neon, cheezy dialogue and a big savage man in suit Bigfoot type of creature running around the city offing people. Yeah and it also features one of the bad guy henchmen from ‘Die Hard’, Alexander Godunov, who’s the heroic handsome Nordic godly clockmaker monster hunter.
Anyway we’ve got a bunch of fun plot points as a mystic runestone is found in a coal mine in Pennsylvania and transported to NYC, where we all know, the excitement always seems to happen. Soon the runestone displays it’s magic powers and an archeologist becomes possessed by an evil ancient Norse spirit. Of course the dude transforms into a crazed sasquatch called Fenrir that goes on killing spree throughout New York and ends up frequenting art exhibits where over the top yuppies seem to think he’s someone’s hip new art installment. Of course he gets pissed off and wreaks “havoc” in the art community. The creature actually looks kinda cool (some decent animatronics/make up) all things considered and that’s clearly the main draw here with this one. He’s got a sweet no BS attitude and does his best to fuck shit up as much as he can. Way to rep the monsters in the 90’s dude!
That being said, there’s relatively little gore splattered about and the movie spends probably an extra 20 minutes or so too long trying to create “compelling” character development. Most of the while I just was wondering what the goddamn cranky ass creature was doing? Let’s get back to what he’s up to cuz he’s likely pissed off and freaking people out somewhere in the city! I’d have also loved a bit more of the “Die Hard” dude as well, but sadly he’s not given as much screen time as he deserves until the finale, but damn if the guy doesn’t look like a bad ass when he shows up. I dig the final act as well as the characters face off against the creature briefly entering a different dimension. This one’s often confused with Julian Sands movie ‘Warlock’ from 1989 and feeling surprisingly similar at times it’s understandable why.
There’s plenty of fun to be had here if you’re not expecting a helluva lot from ‘The Runestone’ and you dig low budget late 80’s early 90’s creature cheez. This one’s a prime example of an old school horror movie that if edited down to about 85 minutes would be a total crowd pleaser/cult fave. There’s a ton of total gems out there from the 80’s & 90’s that tried to fill their run time to a more “respectable length” adding too much filler, this one for example at 105 minutes does indeed have areas that drag somewhat, some day perhaps I’ll try and edit a few of these down. Either way there’s definitely some fun to be had regardless and it’s most definitely worth a watch if you’re down for some early 90’s monster business!
Happpppy HALLOWEEN boys, ghouls and all freaks of nature!! It’s finally here that special day where all things creepy and spooky are considered the norm amongst all other average humans!! Well today we’re going the distance and going to take a look at one of my favorite topics of all time: MONSTERS!! Duh!
So today many will be transforming themselves into creepy creatures of the night and I want to compile the top ten movie “human to monster” transformations of all time!!! Let’s get on with this shit, in no particular order, it’s time to get gross people, because who doesn’t love seeing humans morph into creepy creatures especially on Halloween!!
10. The Howling (1981)
I just NEVER get sick of this awesome werewolf transformation in the Howling! It’s one of the best human to monster transitions of all time, I just love the fact that Dee Wallace watches the whole damn thing instead of getting the fuck outta dodge!! One of the best!
9. The Beast Within (1982)
Check this shit out, one of the best most bizarre transformations for sure! This time though we witness a troubled teenage transform into some sort of bug/human hybrid! Nasty for sure!! Goddamn do I love some good practical fx!!
7. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)
What a damn fine movie, I just can’t get enuff of this one, it’s got awesome practical old school monster fx and even features Robert Englund in one of his best (maybe the best?!) post Freddy movie roles. Better yet Englund transforms into a big ass monster that look’s like Chet’s brother from “Weird Science”!!
6. The Curse 2: The Bite (1989)
Damn I love this flick, it’s a sequel only in name to the ‘Will Wheaton’ movie “The Curse” from a couple years before. It’s a fun movie with some superb extra special fx and a finale that’s worth the wait of the often meandering story. If you’ve never seen this one maybe skip watching this here and just seek out the full movie, this sequence is most of it’s awesome finale…
5. Tales From The Dark Side: The Movie (1990)
The finale story to ‘Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie’ anthology is super awesome and features a totally memorable monster movie transformation! I still feel bad for the dude who didn’t keep his promise, things were just going so damn well in their relationship! Oh well no amount of counseling could have fixed this deep inner relationship issue! It had to come out at some point!
4. The Company of Wolves (1984)
This rad and totally bizarre, sometimes forgotten gem of a werewolf movie, has several awesome transformations in it. However this one is my favorite. The snout out of the mouth is an awesome totally disgusting effect that still awes me every time. I’ve got to re-watch this one again SOON! This freaked me the fuck out as a kid…
3. The Thing (1982)
Here’s a classic! The Norris transformation sequence in The Thing is one of the best most iconic moments in monster movie history! Like it needs any real introduction-here it is again in all it’s gory glory!
2. Black Sheep (2006)
I love this horror comedy and Weta Workshop did an incredible job giving us a totally memorable transformation sequence! The movie is filled with awesome practical fx work and I love the whole “weresheep angle”, if you’ve never seen this indie gem you better check it out asap-it delivers the goods and then some!!
1.An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Considered by most to be the greatest man to monster movie transformation of all time obviously this one needed to be on the list, so here it is one last time for any of you who’ve been living in a damn cave for the majority of your life! Ohhh the pain of it all!!!
Still haven’t had enuff? Me neither-here’s a few more I totally dig!!
Oh and Luke Skywalker as he transforms into a bug in the shitty “Guyver”…still damn cool tho!
Oh and Drew Barrymore’s crazy transformation in the underrated “Doppleganger”!!
God bless Youtube, Here’s a cool one from The Spookies from 1986~!
Cool one from Waxwork II: Lost in Time!
A great one from the criminally underrated 1987 monster extravaganza ‘The Kindred’!!
….and of course this WHOLE damn movie!!
Here’s an incredible piece of artwork from an awesome 80’s horror movie called The Spookies. I’ve always loved this cover and remember it from waaaaay back when I was a kid in the video store. I only recently saw the movie and it was a damn fun time. I come to find out that the movie was actually supposed to be called “Twisted Souls” and had financial problems causing post production on the movie to come to a halt in 1984. A year later the movie was pieced together with a different director filming additional story lines to finalize the movie in a somewhat cohesive manner with the existing footage. If you get a chance to check out The Spookies it’s worth it, especially if you were a fan of the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. It feels like these guys must have been big fans for sure!
Being a big fan of monster movies can be tough in this day and age where it’s not that often you see a real good one hit the theaters! Well my hopes are always high that I just might see a good one each and every year and in 2017 so far it seems the pickins are a bit slim at the moment, but heck I need me some monster movies this year! Anyway I did a little poking around and found a five upcoming movies that look somewhat promising if you’re a monster maniac like me!
It‘s looking here like we might have a contender in the big pig genre of monster movies. Of course at number one we have “Razorback” from 1984 which is a perfect creature feature in my opinion. Let’s give this new Australian flick a chance though the trailer looks pretty awesome!
BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE: