Tagged: Movie

KIDS vs. ALIENS: If “Goosebumps” was Rated R!

I’ve been looking forward to Jason Eisener’s ‘Kid’s vs. Aliens’ since I heard the ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ director was making a feature length film based on his awesome short horror segment in V/H/S/ 2. Granted it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, I remember really digging the concept and execution of it.

The simple premise of this movie is so right up my alley it feels like it almost was tailor made just for me. In a nutshell some kids have a Halloween party that goes off the rails when evil aliens descend upon their lakeside household. The alien visitors for the most part resemble our traditional “Greys”, which I find to be one of the most terrifying creatures of the more modern era. I guess though they’d be more in line with what we saw in 2014’s ‘Extraterrestrial’ though (minus the CGI) than say the brilliantly bizarre 1989 Whitley Strieber biopic ‘Communion’. That being said, you’ve gotta admire how ambitious this movie is with all of its practical effects work and not a shred of CGI really anywhere to be found. Add in a lean run time of around 75 minutes (68 of them actual movie time) and you’ve got a nice, fast paced horror adventure at the ready. 

Plus the main kid protagonists of this movie are also quite charming for the most part. None of them get bogged down in modern online politics or social commentary, they’re just kids in danger with wildly filthy mouths being….kids. In essence they’re a fairly solid attempt of mixing the kids in Stand By Me with The Goonies. I’d say for the first 3rd of the movie I was pretty sure this might end up being one of my favorite horror films of 2023. It’s got a lot of heart at its core as well (maybe trying a bit too hard at times) and characters who you can for the most part get behind on this weird little ride.

However with ALL of that going for it, still there’s something here that in my opinion just didn’t quite click the way it should’ve. That’s not to say this isn’t a fun little movie, becuz it is. It just misses the mark at being a modern horror classic, maybe because they’re trying just a bit too hard at mostly everything they attempt to sell the audience. It’s same problems I had at times with 2013’s ‘Knights of Badassdom’ a movie which I do admittedly still enjoy quite a bit.

I guess I would say what it does succeed at being is a pretty excellent R-rated “Goosebumps” movie. In many ways, even the way it’s filmed looks a little bit like a vintage Goosebumps episode for better or for worse at times. I guess my problem was maybe my personal expectations weren’t quite met in the way I’d initially hoped for. Though this movie in many ways borrows heavily from the likes of classics like Fire In The Sky, it really lacks the intensity, atmosphere and mystery that could have pulled from it, even if just a little bit of it. The aliens In my opinion are shown way too much in plain sight. All of the things that make grey aliens so terrifying is completely absent here, they run around roaring like enraged grizzly bears. 

The aliens also look a bit too much like men in rubber suits, which I usually don’t mind, but easily hiding them a bit more might have benefited this greatly. More of the monsters isn’t always better. Overall though I do appreciate the almost entirely practical nature of this film’s special effects. It’s refreshing to see filmmakers getting a bit more old school these days!

Though the characters for the most part are fun wonky children, they do try a bit too hard to sell us that on all levels. Much of the character development feels a bit forced. The kids and their antagonist teen enemies end up being somewhat over the top caricatures and don’t always feel like “real’ people. The kids are NERDS, the older teen sister-hero is a NERD and the teens are really reeeeally meanies who don’t like NERDS. By the middle of the movie I found myself wishing their personas had been toned down. They started to feel like they were written by the “modern day Kevin Smith” or something. Ok, well maybe not that bad. Instead of growing to like them more as the movie progressed, I found myself becoming slightly annoyed with everyone’s behaviors and actions even if they were good in nature. 

Looking at it now though with zero expectations, it’s still one I do plan on revisiting again. It’s got plenty of action and really does try to feature a cast of heartwarming lead characters and pathetically almost unbelievably evil teen villains to you are basically told to hate anytime they appear. It also takes place on Halloween and makes it prime viewing for the holiday. There’s a lot of good here so don’t get me wrong, I just feel like someone needs to put together an amazing home invasion Grey alien horror film and do it the right way. In the perfect world I was hoping this would be a mix of 1989’s Communion and maybe like Evil Dead. (here’s a still photo  from Communion).

Instead it leans hard into the campy territory and doesn’t skimp on some impressive Gore FX either. Perhaps it’s really my own expectations that took this down a few pegs for myself, with all the crappy stuff out there streaming I do think there’s a lot of fun to be had. Check this one out, it’s worth a rental, but don’t go in expecting it to be quite as cool as his segment was in V/H/S 2. Still thank you Jason for adding an entertaining alien invasion flick to the cinematic horror library!

 

 

 

3 MUST See 80s Halloween GEMS from ‘Tales From The Darkside’!

Ok it’s ON!! Halloween time viewing is in FULL effect here at U-Dork so naturally we’ve gotta get our groove on with some often forgotten gems of Halloween that are an absolute essential watch- Especially if you’re a big fan of eighties horror! One of my favorite shows of that era, the brilliant horror anthology TV series Tales from the Darkside!

This 4 season series contains 3 of my all time favorite Halloween horror stories &  they’re so well done that if you put all of them together in a film anthology with a wrap-around plot line it’d make for probably one the best Halloween themed movies of the 1980s! So find these streaming this year or go do yourself a favor and buy the whole collection on dvd. Make sure though to bookmark these 3 this year and watch them all in a row.

First up ‘The Cutty Black Sow’ from Season 4 (1988).

This is easily gotta be one of the most terrifying episodes of of the series & also one of the strangest titles to boot. During Halloween a family is hit with the tragic death of a beloved grandmother. Just before she passes though she relays a cryptic warning to one of the children to beware of ‘the cutty black sow’ on All Hallows Eve, an evil demonic creature that seeks harm to the family and steal souls. This episode is filled with the sense of dread as a thick impending doom oozes through Halloween night air & the children wonder if their great grandmother’s warning is indeed one to be taken seriously. A creepy taut Halloween gem with a horrifying ending!

Second is ‘Halloween Candy’ from Season 2, (1985)

 Again one of the best episodes of the series hands down and directed by make up wizard/horror icon Tom Savini! This tale features a grumpy old man who absolutely loathes the Halloween season and more-so those pesky trick or treaters. However this Halloween he gets WAY more than he bargained for when an evil troll comes to his door asking for Halloween candy! This little monster is an absolute delight to behold, It’s clear that Savini has his FX work cut out for him as it’s one of the coolest little troll/goblin like creatures to hit the big or small screen. It’s also an incredibly creepy Halloween themed slice of horror, with a bit of a moral lesson at it’s core. It’s best not to be an asshole on All Hallows Eve especially if you live alone on a dark street & a weird trick-or-treater shows up in the dead of night. Filled with tense atmosphere and crafted by an icon, it’s no wonder this episode is a such TREAT!

Lastly is the very 1st episode of the entire series ‘Trick-or-Treat’ (1984) and in my opinion probably the best of the entire series altogether.

Co-written by George Romero and directed by well known actor Bob Balaban who also directed the 1989 cult horror film ‘Parents’, they give us a truly wicked Halloween adventure! A greedy old scrooge like miser basically runs a small town where everyone seems to be suffering and in debt to him. Every Halloween he opens the doors to his house of horrors where he geefully sits at a control booth, triggering terrifying sounds, traps & puppeteering animatronic creatures rigged to scare small children. This isn’t done to entertain the kids, it’s however a challenge to the smalltown children to search for the debts of their parents. If they find them, their families are forgiven of their monetary burdens. The old codger takes way too much sadistic pleasure in terrorizing the kids which makes this episode truly grim and unforgettable. He loves Halloween but for all the wrong reasons. Luckily in a turn of events he himself is faced with true terror and all bets are off this Halloween! Filled with incredible iconic horror imagery, thrills, heart and some amazing practical effects work this is the absolute standout must see episode of the series! It would also be the perfect finale for a Halloween horror anthology-This year don’t sleep on these episodes they’re essential viewing every damn year for one of the greatest holidays of all time!!

 

 

VHS Verdict: Corey Haim’s Underrated ‘Prayer of the Rollerboys’!

Corey Haim Is easily one of the most iconic actors of the eighties, however a lot of people seem to have missed out on his nineties career. ‘Prayer of the Rollerboys’ is a perfect place to start. Likely filmed in 1989 it still perfectly kickstarts Corey into the nineties! 

In the distant future crime is running rampant and Corey is a part-time pizza boy/full time hot shot rollerblader trying to take care of his little brother, put food on the table and find deeper meaning to life. Only one problem: a renegade gang of white supremacist criminals are endangering anyone who roams the streets, and they just happen to be obsessed with…..wait for it… You guessed it…. rollerblading! DUH!

 They’ve also got a snazzy new drug they’re pushing to the general public called “Mist” and things on the street are getting downright out of control. Luckily Haim meets Patricia Arquette, who at first appears to be just an beautiful, punk rock bad ass, but in reality works undercover for the police force. She’s looking for a way to infiltrate the evil Rollerboys and put an end to their racist dug peddling antics, good thing for her she met Corey who’s the prime candidate with with his radical rollerblading skills to get in league with the gang.  However even more lucky for Cory that she totally digs him! Jeeeealous!!!

 The film also stars Christopher Collet, who actually co-starred with with Corey Haim in his very first feature film, one that I highly recommend called FIRST BORN from 1984.  Here he plays the evil racist gang leader and goes one-on-one with Corey after pushing him way over the edge with a near unspeakable act of racism. Some of the stuff feels all too relevant in modern times as we deal with similar types of American nationalists today who like in “Rollerboys” try to inspire fear of illegal immigrants attempting to brainwash the working class into thinking they’re our enemies. Collette seems right out of a corrupt right wing nightmare.

I love the tone and setting up this movie, it takes place in a desolate, trashy, almost post apocalyptic timeline. It’s got that cool grainy almost Australian cinematography going for it as well  and actually goes a lot darker than I would have ever imagined. At first I guessed it to be more of a ‘Solarbabies’ adjacent type of movie. However this one’s actually pretty violent, with gripping action scenes, even though lots of them are roller blade-centric, delivering more action cheez than I could’ve hoped for. Surprisingly well executed!

If you’re not sold by the first opening 10 minutes featuring Corey Haim in a dazzling action packed montage of ridiculous roller stunts then you’re definitely gonna want to tune out. For the first time watch for me though it was just more proof of how iconic and important Corey was to the 80s teen coming of age genre that I hold so dear to me. It’s another solid Haim hit and one that many fans seem to have completely let fly under the radar. As ridiculous as the plot might sound it’s actually a pretty competent movie with quite a few interesting themes bubbling beneath its surface too. It’s got genuine thrills, cool characters, a villain you love to hate and some pretty memorable over the top action jams. In short this one’s way better than it ought to be and if you just happen to be a fan of freestyle rollerblading you’re gonna shit your pants here, this one’s most definitely for you rollerboyz and galz.

Somehow they manage to mix rollerblading into a movie that’s grittier, darker and goes deeper than expected. It’s also got a pretty pumpin’ soundtrack as well, plus seeing Corey and Patricia team up is a real delight, both have that special cinematic charisma. Sadly, Patricia, I think deserved a lot more screen time and it does seem a bit clear here that Corey might be heading into the troubling times of his career behind the scenes. It’s insane to me that no one has given it a fancy blu ray release either, that needs to happen ASAP. So track this little gem down if you’re feeling nostalgic for some ‘class A’ Corey Haim! RIP my dude….

 

Crazy 80s Aussie Rock Opera: SONS OF STEEL!

I’ve been stating lately here that I’m just not a big fan of movie musicals. BUT perhaps the type of musicals I’ve seen my entire life just don’t bring the fucking goods to the dance floor! I recently viewed 1988’s Australian musical oddity ‘Sons of Steel’ at a double feature movie night & paired it up with ‘The Legend of the Stardust Brothers’ from 1985! It was a gloriously cheezy musical combo!  

 If you were to ask me to really explain to you the plot of Sons of Steel I’d have a big problem trying to do so. It’s basically a “Dee Snyder” (Twisted Sister) look-a-like who sings a buttload of cock rock songs and also travels into the future or something where he meets some weird barbarians to try to try to stop an evil genius with a “mini-me” sidekick from destroying the planet?!  I guess that’s the gist, but who really gives a damn, it’s one giant awesome mess of a rock opera with a TON of foggy, neon atmosphere, bizarre characters, a meandering wild plot, jam packed with terribly excellent heavy metal songs!

 If you’re looking for a tubular 80s party movie this is definitely a BANGER! It’s sure to get the juices with it’s unusual plot & wild fashion, however, this like many other Aussie genre flicks of this era (Razorback, Fortress, Road Games, The Quest) have some truly stunning cinematography and rich atmosphere that amplify the onscreen antics to eleven. Simply said as dumb (and fun) as it’s story is, this movie looks far more fantastic that it has any right to. Easily one of the aspects here that make this such enjoyable viewing aside from the leather clad wardrobe, roaring motorcycles and two tone proto punk hairdos soaked in loads hairspray.

It’s leading musclebound  man, Rob Hartley, (who portrays Black Alice) is a real joy to watch. He overacts and grunts his way through most of the strange dialogue as well as belts out some mindnumbing musical numbers. Apparently trying to save the world from a nuclear holocaust, he’s not quite the person you want to put the fate of the planet in the hands of. That being said Black Alice gets into some good trouble and there’s some pretty impressive action scenes to chomp into as well. I was excited to check out director Gary Keady’s  filmography, however Sons of Steel remains his sole, one and only contribution! What a pedigree! Lucky for us all this one received received a snazzy fancy new blue ray release last year from Future Video-if you wanna ROCK check this shit out!

The Russo Brothers Next MCU Project: ‘THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS’?!

I have been pushing here on Universal Dork for quite some time to get an MCU movie or series about the mighty Great Lakes Avengers! It’s bummed me out cuz its seemed that over the years no one gave a damn about my bold ideas for this these “D-List” classic Marvel characters. But maybe just MAYBE, a couple people were indeed listening?! 

 I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Russo Brothers, who crafted some of the best films in the MCU (The Winter Soldier/Infinity War/Endgame), might have just ran across this little p-brain blog, or at the very least, you know what they say, great minds think alike! In case you’ve never heard of the Great Lakes Avengers they first made their appearance in the late 1980s in the West Coast Avengers #46. A unique comedic gang of superheroes from the “cheese state” of Wisconsin. They’ve had some truly ridiculous adventures over the years and have even shared the stage with Deadpool himself. I’ve always maintained that this crew of miscreants would make for a great cinematic comedy especially the  their origin story, portrayed in perfection in the Dan Slott series ‘GLA: Misassembled’ from 2005. It’d surely make for a great rough draft for a for a live action series.

They were recently asked about someday returning soon to the MCU and had this to say: The Russo Brothers answered: “Whatever we say, we’re going to get asked about it 100 times over the next week. So let’s pick the Great Lakes Avengers. Or the story of Cheese-Man!”

 So a lot of people might think this doesn’t mean a damn thing, mentioning it now, what’s the fuss right? They were just jokin’ around? Well the funny thing is this isn’t the first time they name dropped The GLA, they also brought up the d-list super team in 2018 as well. Check it out

They clearly know the Great Lakes Avengers would make for one helluva funny and unique comic book streaming series.  The time is definitely now to bring this show to life as at the current moment. The Avengers have ceased to exist in MCU in any real capacity, leading the perfect moment for this band of Midwest America’s Misfits to take up the mantle in a hilarious way. I think it would be a riot to see this gang of superheroes in their original costumes too, leave aside all of the fancy kevlar and give them their ridiculous spandex look in real life.

Also of course this is the place to introduce the wildly popular Squirrel Girl! It’s also been speculated that GLA character ‘Mr. Immortal’ may have already made an appearance in the She-Hulk trailer, making thus even MORE of a possibility!

The Russo Bros should make this happen, it’s ripe now to be an easy hit series with a truly bizarre, charming, comedic origin story of Marvel Comic’s ULTIMATE underdogs! Please bring on the weirdest wildest superhero adventure yet, THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS must ASSEMBLE!! Share this post or idea everywhere!

NOPE: Easily One of the BEST of 2022!!

I’m not gonna waste too much time reviewing the hell out of ‘Nope’ because I know that it’s soooooo 2 weeks ago! But being as finicky as I am about new new Hollywood  summer blockbuster movies I’ve got to take at least a moment here to tell you how fucking much I enjoyed the new Jordan peel movie!

I went into this one with no real expectations except that I might get another tale covering ssome sort of allegory about race or modern culture.  However with the modern “culture war” and basically the world at each other’s throats, falling apart I’ll have to be quite honest, I really wasn’t in the mood to think more about real world injustices or real life human struggles as I entered the theater. 

Thankfully Jordan Peele decided to give us a mysterious compelling monster movie  with no real strings attached but with plenty of layers to peel and dissect. Nope will leave you pondering all of the unique plot points sprinkled about for days. Our duo of well crafted main characters are black ranchers and he doesn’t need to make some sort of big statement about it. They’re just great characters who happen to be black. It also features some very curious and intriguing supporting characters one being a fairly convincing CGI chimpanzee that almost steals the show!

Nope really harkens back to the golden era of Stephen Spielberg movies in the best way possible  But adding a much more sinister, brooding touch. After trying to make it through his rebooted Twilight Zone series I was beginning to have my doubts about his next film as I wasn’t a big fan of ‘Us’ , that being said, trying to follow up the brilliant ‘Get Out’ seems like an impossible feat. Fortunately he was able pull it off with ease with his 3rd full length movie which is just as mindbending in my opinion at least as his first.

A beautiful looking movie filled with A super solid cast, great locales and an excellent creature design make this a truly engaging movie to see in the theater and so much more than I was expecting. It’s a different animal altogether than the summer Hollywood blockbuster you might be expecting.

Don’t go in thinking you’re gonna get Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness type effects either. Peele uses CGI sparingly and perfectly to create something that feels visceral, real and highly imaginative in today’s landscape of bloated big budget sludge. If you haven’t seen Nope yet go into the movie completely blind if you can, the less you know the better. What plays out on screen I think is one of the best cinematic events of 2022 hands down.

MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. Misses the Mark!

After getting a good look at what is supposedly the MCU design for iconic Marvel Comics villain Modok I can honestly say my childhood fantasies have been smashed! Easily one of my favorite villains of all time for his bizarrely offputing look, Modok deserves so much better than THIS!

 That is what is supposedly his design for the upcoming Ant-Man movie. His big movie debut look unfortunately does not feature any of the grotesque charm of the classic villain.

My hopes here are that he is merely wearing some sort of protective helmet. I’m also fairly certain that they will be featuring the character as some sort of ridiculous joke Instead of utilizing him as a terrifying monstrosity that he truly is.

I also think if they were to have designed the character using practical animatronic effects just how amazing he could really be on the big screen. Time will tell but in the meantime here are a few of my favorite images of one of Marvel’s most grotesque creations!

Believe the Hype: The KENOBI Fan Edit REALLY Gets it RIGHT!

In case you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard about the new Obi Wan Kenobi fan edit, I’m here to tell ya why you gotta check that shit out ASAP! If you thought the series from Disney Plus was a big, bloated, convoluted mess then you’ve come to the right place, because a fan named Kai Patterson had decided  to give Obi Wan the damn justice he so desperately needed going all the way back to the prequal trilogy!

 I’m here to set the record straight as obviously you can’t trust the giant corporate websites these days to tell you any truth at all about movies! Surprisingly though they get this one right, as many have been really hyping this fan edit up. People are now saying that they finally have the Obi Wan Kenobi Star Wars story that they’ve always dreamt of, 

 Kai likely saw that somewhere within the series it had a cool story to be told. He trims it down from a 280 plus minute run time to a mere 150 minutes a two and a half hour Star Wars movie. He gets rid of the stuff that didn’t work, moves around plot points, bad dialogue and streamlines the action sequences. Anyway everyone and their long lost Uncle are talking about it so I’m probably the last person you need to hear more from at this point, You can only view the film from HIS WEBSITE, So what are you waiting for go check it and finally enjoy some Star Wars!!!

4th of July Horror Explosion: 1996’s ‘UNCLE SAM’ is a Bloody Blast!

All these years I’ve sorta avoided ‘Uncle Sam’ from 1996, assuming it was some sort of idiotic throw away, direct to video waste of time. The VHS cover was unforgettable, a wild lenticular evil Uncle Sam in glorious 3-D! Still for decades I never checked this out kind of on purpose.

This 4th of July however I was looking for something in the horror genre that might take place around the holiday and of COURSE there was good ol ‘Uncle Sam’ front and center. I almost passed on it yet again, but this time I noticed something that I def hadn’t before. It was directed by William Lustig famed for the brilliant ‘Maniac Cop’ franchise and written by one of my genre favorites Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, The Ambulance, Return to Salem’s Lot, Q: The Winged Serpent). Why the Hell hadn’t I realized this sooner?! 

Well Uncle Sam indeed delivered everything I’d hoped it would and much more! It’s a great horror flick with some razor sharp comedy/social commentary, just what you’d hope it would have being written by Larry Cohen. It’s a wild story about a kid who’s freakishly  obsessed with becoming a soldier, kickin’ ass for the USA & doing whatever the fuck President tells him to!  He’s also obsessed with his Uncle, who’s real name is Sam, who tragically dies in the Iraq war from “friendly fire”.

When his body is shipped back to their home(?) to sit until his grave is dug, bizarre events lead to his dead decaying body reanimating and donning an Uncle Sam outfit which he strips from a peeping Tom on stilts after after murdering him!

 At this point Uncle Sam embarks on a full on “Jason Voorhees” killing spree during the 4th of July as the small town starts to celebrate. I’d always assumed that this movie was a total farce/spoof, but far from it. It’s got a cool fast paced story, plenty of obnoxious patriotic humor and even a strong social commentary about the US government and war itself. There’s also some inventive kills (with fireworks of course!), cool make up effects and a cast which stars fan favorites Robert Forster and Isaac Hayes.

Probably one of the most ridiculous aspects and enjoyable parts of the whole movie is the kid and his crazy ass obsession with the United States and his over the top ludicrous patriotism on full display. It’s pretty gut busting and as a whole Uncle Sam is a total delight that somehow eluded me for almost three damn decades.

As far as 4th of July viewing you really can’t do better than this, the most “4th of July” horror movie of all time thankfully has got all the right moves and the talent behind it is evident in the final product. I got this bad boy on blu ray from Blue Underground! But now I want that damn 3-D lenticular VHS too! Hunt down Uncle Sam THIS 4th of July!!

 

 

The PREDATOR is Back….But Maybe Too Damn Soon!

So there’s s new trailer out for the next chapter of the Predator saga. I should be fuckin’ pumped on this news right? I mean the 1st R rated movie I ever saw in theaters was Predator, one that I snuck into way back in the late eighties before I was of legsl age. It was one of my greatest cinematic experiences ever! So now its 2022, does a new “Predator” movie hold any weight for an old school fan?!

I’m gonna be completely honest here, the idea of more Predator is a pretty underwhelming freakin’ concept, especially  after that last load of dog shit we got served up. We never got to see Arnold return as Dutch or even team up with Danny Glover. We did get some sorta uninspiring AVP movies and a Topher Grace starring Predators…ugggggh. it’s not been a good  run for the muscle bound alien since 1990. But here we are yet AGAIN with a Predator prequel called “Prey”. They literally ran out of ways to use the word “Predator” it seems!

So whether ya like it or not the God damn Predator is back……again. So we got the teaser today and it looks actually like a decent simple concept, The Predator arrives to take down a Commanche tribe 300 years ago. With the hero being a skilled female warrior, the face off begins…Am I stoked like 1987? Nah…but I’ll check it out, but this time I hope there’s something new and fresh spun into the story because I’m starting to think this concept was really just good ultimately for one go round.

Where can they take this? Who cares! I guess this one will be on Hulu in August, NOT in theaters, I’m just fine with that, my expectations for ‘Prey’ are not high, I’m actually pretty surprised the alien is back THIS soon honestly. As expectations are low I hope to be pleasantly surprised, probably my big mistake! In the meantime just enjoy Batman: Dead End, for imo the BEST sequel to Predator 2!!