We all know that H.P. Lovecraft stories can be hard to translate to the big screen, but when I heard Richard Stanley was making his cinematic return with ‘Color Out of Space’ I was pretty damn excited to say the least. Stanley may not have the longest resume when it come to feature film but what he has done is pretty damn amazing. Both Hardware (1990) & DustDevil (1992) are lesser known horror gems & with ‘Color Out of Space’ it’s a complete and total return to form. Stanley also brings Nicolas Cage along for the ride, which after his fan fave performance in ‘Mandy’ has kinda given Cage his second coming as an even more beloved cinematic presence. Much like ‘Mandy’ there’s plenty of bizarre psychedelic imagery here to go around and a ton of visceral horror sequences that I guarantee will shock you.
Stanley seems to love a slow burn horror story and brings that approach once again, leaving us all with a twisted but beautiful spectacle to behold by the film’s final act. The story here is simple, one quiet evening an eerie glowing meteorite lands in the front yard of Nathan Gardner and his family’s Alpaca farm. They soon find themselves baffled by it’s effect on the plants & wildlife on property as well as their own suddenly strange behaviors. Soon it’s clear, a mutant extraterrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies is roaming the woods at night & transforms their quiet rural life into the ultimate technicolor nightmare. Continue reading
So way back in 1988 Hong Kong had their own awesome version of Robocop, an ass kickin’ lady cyborg named Maria! Yes, the action/sci-fi flick ‘I Love Maria’ aka ‘Roboforce’ is easily one of the best 80’s movies I’ve seen coming from that region of the world since I started going down the rabbit hole of odd ball Hong Kong cinema a while ago. I must admit, a lot of Hong Kong films during that era are usually pretty hit or miss, many with confusing, nonsensical plots & often weird slapstick potty humor that likely loses something in the often rudimentary english translation provided. However ‘I Love Maria’ definitely hits the right beats on the humor, action & plot to make it stand out as not merely a foreign remake of Robocop but a uniquely charming little sci-fi adventure all of it’s own. The plot’s indeed pretty outrageous, but to a large degree that’s what makes it a so much damn fun. It’s also filled with some memorable characters that at the end of the day, leave you with some warm fuzzy feelings about friendship & the importance of true camaraderie. So what’s it all about you ask?
So the vicious “Hero Gang”, is a downright nasty criminal terrorist organization (I know odd name for the gang then huh?), hell bent on wreaking all out havoc upon the streets of Hong Kong with their unstoppable killer robots: Pioneers 1 and 2! While Pioneer 1’s a giant hulking armored unit, Pioneer 2’s been modeled after “Maria“, the Hero Gang’s devious second in command. When Pioneer 2 gets damaged during a secret assassination mission, it’s taken into the custody of a curious hi-tech weapons inventor employed by the police force named “Curly”. He secretly repairs & reprograms her with new coding that triggers changes to her logic center. Pioneer 2 begins to develop her own unique heroic personality and soon Curly finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly battle against The Hero Gang. Banding together with a drunken ex-gang member named “Whisky” & “T.Q.”, a bumbling news camera man, the four of them embark on a dangerous mission with the fate of Hong Kong in the palm of their hands!
‘I Love Maria’ is a must see for fans of odd 80’s sci fi, the three main human characters have some great chemistry together, one of which is cult director Tsui Hark (Detective Dee, Double Team, Once Upon a Time In China), who hams it up thoroughly as the heroic alcoholic ‘Whisky’. The special effects work is pretty stunning as well, especially when it comes to Maria battling the ‘Pioneer 1’ robot. They bash though walls, fire rocket launchers for their arms and fling eachother around like rag dolls on the streets of Hong Kong. They never skimp on spectacle here either as there’s a plethora of explosions, Hi-tech weaponry, martial arts battles, car chases & of course awesome robot beat downs to behold here. There’s also a pretty interesting duo of villains, the brother & sister leaders of The Hero Gang who also happen to be in love. Throw in “Mr. Vampire” himself, Lam Ching Ying in the mix to showcase his always amazing kung fu and you’ve got yourself a frenetic sci-fi action flick here that never lets up.
That all being said the real star of the show is clearly the charismatic cyborg Maria, who not only lights up the screen with her robotic butt kicking but also with her curious charm. A largely forgotten rad 1980s female action hero that more people need to discover. Hunt this one down, especially if you dig over the top, 80’s, sci-fi action stuff that really fires on all cylinders: unique characters, stunning practical fx, sets, locations and just pure cybernetic mayhem a’ plenty . Stick around all the way through the end credits as well, where you’ll some of the sweetest scenes of the movie. Someone needs to jump on releasing and cleaning up some of the amazing Hong Kong horror/sci-fi stuff out there from the 80’s & 90’s, there’s so many forgotten, rarely seen gems for fans of cult cinema in the USA. Until then this one’s actually pretty hard to find, but definitely worth the effort!
True Believers, it’s never been a more perfect time for the ‘Great Lakes Avengers’ to make their grand entrance into the MCU! Ok, I know many of you casual Marvel movie fanatics out there are likely wondering just who and what the hell I’m talking about, but the “GLA” as they’re also referred to have been around since the late 80’s and have on a couple occasions attempted to actually replace The Avengers, most notably when they tragically disassembled in 2004 in the comics. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin based team are most well known as the ultimate gang of blundering misfit superheroes and when the Avengers disbanded they figured they’d simply take the mantle of the team for themselves to reap all the glory for themselves. Of course they quickly found out they weren’t quite qualified when it came down to taking out major threats to the planet. So why introduce these guys now into the MCU huh?
Well at the current moment in the movies The Avengers aren’t really a thing anymore, at least for the moment. With Cap old & retired and Tony Stark dead, it’d be the perfect time to check out the origin story and rise of ‘The Great Lakes Avengers’. In fact with the ‘Disney+’ streaming service there’s the platform needed to tell their ridiculously madcap story. Since 1989 when writer/artist John Byrne introduced the underdog team to the Marvel Universe (West Coast Avengers #46), I’ve been a big fan. In fact I listed them before as one of the obscure Marvel teams I thought would make a great movie or better yet today a comedic Disney+ series after the success of the D-listers The Guardians of the Galaxy. To me the team has so much more potential than GOG, with their origin story alone being a helluva good adventure, if even at times more of a dark comedy.
The name of the team alone would spark immediate interest and originally back in the comic books they’d even been coached by Hawkeye and Mockingbird who desperately tried to whip them into shape. You could even have Jeremy Renner make a cameo in an episode as Hawkeye to do just that. Considering the team’s ranks were filled from a classified ad in the newspaper would open the door to so many great comedic scenarios as well.
Then there’s the team themselves, which consists of Mr. Immortal, a mutant with a super-superhuman healing factor and the ability to survive the most gruesome deaths, Bertha who’s the most popular fashion icon in Milwaukee WI who has the ability to bulk up like the Blob, Dinah-soar the flying female reptilian, Doorman a mutant who can create doorways using alternate universes to pass through solid objects and finally Flatman, the team’s current leader & openly gay two dimensional version of Reed Richards. But wait the team was also home to the now iconic Squirrel Girl and this would be the perfect place for her to make her official MCU debut!
This team and their story would make for the perfect superhero series, there’s so many interesting angles to explore. From forming the team, to training to be the new “Avengers”, to their many failed missions and their attempt to square off against a real superhuman threat. There’s something truly charming about exploring an underdog group of down on their luck superhuman characters. The comedy practically writes itself and they’d be a surefire win in a series of their own as there’s nothing quite like them out there yet. So what do you think? Do you think now’s the time for this weird-o gang of midwest superheroes to enter into the fold?! If I’ve peaked your interest a good launch point of the team is the six issue mini series from Dan Slott from 2005 called “GLA: Misassembled”, I think that would be a perfect blueprint for a Disney+ series….
I just got done reading the ‘ALPHA FLIGHT: True North’ Marvel Comics one shot and it got me a bit excited about the possibility of an ongoing series. Yeah Alpha Flight has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid in 80’s and after the first John Byrne series it’s never been quite the same, so hearing that a new one shot was coming out made me decide to head up to ‘Cosmic Monkey‘, (Portland Oregon’s best comic book shop), to grab a copy and see for myself. It’s been a few years since I bought new comic books, I quit a while back cold turkey, as their just too damn expensive and many of them don’t grab me like they used to honestly. However, Alpha Flight always gets another chance!
So ‘True North’ was a pretty decent little dive back into the lives of the diverse Canadian superhero team, it features three short stories with various members of the team. The first featuring classic Alphans Talisman & Snowbird as they travel to a remote area of in the Arctic Circle to investigate a supernatural presence. It’s an intriguing little tale that could have really spanned the whole issue. I definitely enjoyed the artwork in this one by Max Dunbar as well.
The next story is a small slice of life featuring everyone’s favorite little person badass ‘Puck’ and the fish woman ‘Marina’ as they walk a lonely beach on a sunny day. Puck shares a story from his past and the two of them spend some time bonding. A neat little short overall but I wasn’t a real big fan of the artists depictions of Puck and Marina, who basically just made them look like a short guy and a green woman devoid of most of her fish like qualities. The last story features Heather Hudson aka ‘Vindicator’ as she hides from the Canadian government for crimes committed while under the mental control of long time Alpha Flight villain ‘The Master of the World’. It’s a pretty interesting short story too and also features her husband James ‘Guardian’ Hudson with plenty of underlying relationship drama bubbling below the surface. Overall this one was nice refresher of just what an Alpha Flight ongoing series could feel like in 2019.
The other members were missed though, classics like Sasquatch & Shaman weren’t even in it at all and Northstar and Aurora only spoke a couple lines. I was hoping for a cool one shot with the whole team showing their current relationship as a team, but regardless it was still a pretty good teaser, even if it was priced at whoppin’ 5 bucks! DAMN!! I’ve always thought the team under the right writer again could be developed into a great modern series. The team’s super diverse cast has a lot of rich history to explore. ‘True North’ strikes some good chords but I’m not sure it was really quite compelling enough to drum up the magic needed to push Alpha Flight into a new ongoing series. I’d like to see Wolverine return to the team and maybe bring some drama into Heather and James’ rocky relationship. It’s always been softly suggested he might have some feelings for Heather. You never know! I’m also still hoping for an Alpha Flight movie as well, I think they’d be an instant hit in the MCU!
I’ve been checking out a lot of 1980’s and 90’s foreign horror movies lately and the ones from Hong Kong are most definitely the most outrageous of them all. 1992’s ‘Wizard’s Curse’ is certainly proof of that, a mix of raunchy sex comedy, horror, fantasy and action all rolled into one big weird ball. A pair of “on the run” criminal lovers rumored to be practitioners of dark magic are hunted down by local police lead by a taoist priest. Using his own unique supernatural abilities he aids the cops, managing to personally slay them both. Soon after, a local cult leader resurrects their spirits into a one shared physical body, granting them superhuman powers & leaving them thirsting for human brains. They set out on a mission, to track down the priest for revenge and seeking to eat the brains of a virgin to gain ultimate powers of evil. This sets into motion a chase as the priest battles them to protect his daughter and the life of a tuff guy virgin cop who becomes entangled in the case.
Yeah it’s a weird one. It features Ching-Ying Lam better known for his role in the iconic ‘Mr. Vampire’ movies of the 1980’s as the even tempered ass kickin’ priest. The bad guy & girl share one body, change sexes at random & wear a totally 80’s leather clad outfit that’d make ‘The Terminator’ jealous. They rip though Hong Kong eating brains and murdering people with a huge glowing phallus, that’s used most of the time like a super powered snake like battering ram. There’s some really great 80’s style fx work going here, creepy moments and some frenetic action sequences keep Wizard’s curse moving at a brisk pace. Together (literally) they make a unique villain and the camera tricks utilized to make inhabit the same body are a lot of fun as well.
Ching-Ying Lam never disappoints with his kung fu either, he’s one of the best and there’s some incredibly fun supernatural kung fu battles to behold. However the movie is also entirely unsure of what it wants to be as it’s littered with sex & dick jokes when you least expect it. A lot of these Hong Kong horror movies of that era go lots of different directions and while it certainly makes things interesting this one could have really benefitted by keeping the raunchy comedy to a bare minimum. Also watching the movie with it’s rudimentary english subtitles leads me to believe the comedy may have played better if I’d have actually understood the language they’re speaking. My bad.
At the end of the day though, I definitely do recommend ‘Wizard’s Curse’, if even just for it’s sheer absurdity alone. Though it was released in 1992 it feels one hundred percent 80’s. Lots of neon, cool clothing, real stunts and a ton of 80’s FX work make it a unique little movie that never gets sleepy. It’s also filled with plenty of non PC “comedy” mostly revolving around sex yet never ends up being overly offensive some how. I liked the role of the virgin too being the wise crackin’ cop instead of the priests daughter, who regularly spends her time dodging super creepy advance & ploys from mega douchey men. The movie’s finale is pretty fun too as the Taoist Priest is forced to team up with his hilarious ex-wife who’s also a bad ass magician. And of course the movie’s final moment gag hinges on an over the top sex joke. If you’re looking for an utterly odd hybrid horror movie check this one out, it’s got a lot of weird ass shit going for it, if that’s your cup of tea!
Ok it’s summer time and I’m gonna admit, I’ve been slackin’ on the blog lately! I’m sure you all’ve missed me sooooo much right?! Well anyway I’m throwing down some mini reviews of some of the movies I’ve checked out recently this last coupla’ weeks! So with out further adieu!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
I really enjoy when a new Tarantino movie drops at the theater, let’s face it, he’s really one of the only big filmmakers that puts out interesting often risky movies to the mainstream these days, love him or hate him. Most bigger Hollywood movies are far too safe and generally feel like their plots have been drawn up by researching what’s been trending on Twitter. Well ‘Once Upon a ‘Time in Hollywood’ doesn’t follow the rules and it’s super refreshing for that simple reason alone. This one feels like a slice of life in a long gone era of movie stars with a very loose plot that ties up in a bloody bow by it’s stunning finale. It’s filled with colorful unique characters and some familiar faces from Hollywood’s past. The Bruce Lee scene has a lot of controversy around it, mainly concerning his portrayal not being accurate to real life. But hey, c’mon it’s a Tarantino movie, does anyone really think it’s going to be a damn biopic?!! Tarantino hit’s another home run more or less in my opinion with a movie that’s truly a breath of fresh air in a barrage of mindless, soul-less Hollywood cash grabs!
Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)
This is the latest Simon Pegg / Nick Frost horror comedy if that means anything to anyone anymore in 2019? Well surprisingly this neat little creature feature was actually a pretty sweet little spur of the moment rental from Redbox. Basically a kid heads off to a snooty private school out in the middle of nowhere England. There he finds that a fracking company is digging deep in the nearby forest looking for natural gas and accidentally frees a gang of hungry monsters from the earth’s crust. Nick Frost plays a hippie activist guy who’s looking to shut down the frackers and Pegg plays a pathetic teacher at the school obsessed with his ex co-worker Margo Robbie, with whom he had a brief fling with. The movie’s got some neat practical creature fx, good action sequences & pretty decent humor as well. Not nearly quite as awesome as their previous team up flicks but most definitely worth a watch for monster movie fans.
Beyond the Seventh Door (1987)
Here’s a pretty sweet 80’s movie that’s def worth a watch with a gang of rowdy cinefiles and a case of beer! Starring Lazar Rockwood(what a name!), who somehow manages to capture that same moronic charm as The Room’s Tommy Wiseau! Yep, Lazar is quite a guy to say the least and this movie’s a long lost gem of a bad movie. Basically Rockwood is an ex criminal who’s looking for a big time heist teaming up with his ex girlfriend and plans to bust into a nearby mansion to get the ultimate goods! There he and his “girlfriend” face “seven deadly curses” each…behind a door together masterminded by an evil billionaire in a wheel chair! James Wan clearly used this as the template for the damn ‘Saw’ franchise-I just know it! Anyway there’s some truly idiotic stuff going on here, and Lazar is in the thick of these dangerouschallenges! He’s the hero you never knew you needed and he’s clearly got the most sex appeal to seduce a woman in the most awkward of moments. Check this out if you dig movies that are truly so damn bad that they’re awesome!
Holy shit, I finally checked this out and as a BIG fan of the comic books and the del Toro movies (even though they aren’t comic accurate) I’ve gotta say, this was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in maybe the last two decades. Going into this I was actually half expecting to like it for the possible campy-ness I’d heard about it. Nope!! This was just a downright powerfully painful experience, It was so bad I couldn’t make it past the hour mark. It’s been a while since I’ve actually turned off a movie because it was truly legit terrible. Sometimes I do it if it’s boring, but this was next level horse shit for sure. Absolutely wretched plot, terrible pacing, fully unlikable characters (trying to be edgy with F-words galore) & beyond shitty CGI fx that look like they were pulled from a bad third rate 90’s horror movie. I just can’t believe Neil Marshall who helmed two of the best horror movies of the last 2 decades (Dog Soldiers & The Descent) fucked this thing up so, so, so damn bad. I was so pumped to hear he was doing the movie and really saddened that he single handedly ruined Hellboy for the big screen for who know how long. This was a fully pathetic attempt at movie making and to be honest I thought David Harbour sucked in the role!!
I’m a big fan of horror anthologies and was pretty excited to check this one out as it’s got a great VHS cover. Well as a lot of 80’s horror anthologies go, most aren’t much to write home about. Nightmares almost falls into that category, like many of these movies they usually deliver one good chapter at least. For Nightmares that one’s the second installment, starring Emilio Estevez who plays a video game obsessed teenager who hangs out in arcades all day blaring punk rock tapes on his walkman. He literally battles an arcade game one night when he breaks into the local arcade late one night. I mean that the video game comes to life and he fights the graphics in real life. It’s a pretty cool little segment that oozes with the 1980’s in the best way. The rest of the stories however are pretty standard made for tv type of stuff 9as that is apparently what this thing was supposed to be, a made for ABC tv Twilight Zone type series that didn’t make it to prime time). The last story’s about an “evil” killer rat and features such a fully terrible finale it’s almost worth the uneventful wait. Talk about the worst evil killer monster rat FX of all time! This one’s got it FOR SURE! Anyway if you just can’t get enuff of 80’s horror anthologies you might wanna check it out at least for the video game segment but Creepshow this one is NOT!
‘Tenement’ AKA ‘Game of Survival’ is the third movie from Roberta Findlay I’ve seen and so far she definitely knows how to serve up the grimy goods in true grindhouse flavor. Yeah, Roberta understood how to make a truly sleazy horror flick that’s for sure. Even though Tenement might be considered more of a low budget action/thriller, it’s got plenty of horror and gore to go around. Findlay surely didn’t give a damn if she offended anyone, even though this came out in ’85 it’s jam packed with scenes that you’d likely not see put to screen in 2019.
Playing off a bit like John Carpenter’s ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ except in a run down inner city apartment building, Tenement features a pretty diverse cast of characters who face off in a violent battle of life or death. The bad apples in this one look like they stepped right out of ‘The Warriors’ and are just about the meanest most over the top street gang put to film. These drugged out leather clad assholes are ready kill nearly anything in sight, and when one of the tenants of the apartment complex tires of them hanging around in the basement he calls the cops, all hell breaks loose. Just when the residents decide to throw a party in celebration of the gang’s arrest, they’re let loose into the night by police. Hellbent on revenge they head back to the “tenement” to get bloody revenge on each and everyone who lives within it’s sweaty spray painted walls.
The film moves at a brisk pace and it’s not afraid to get ugly quick. There’s a shocking brutal scene of rape, beatings, drug overdoses, guttings and that’s just the damn start. As crazy as this sounds at the same time the production quality is pretty low, the acting often pretty flimsy/over the top and it’s all sorta hard to actually take seriously. That all being said, for a female film maker back in the 80’s (and especially today) it’s got more bite than most films of this genre made by men. The action and gore is pretty ambitious and luckily the blood here, looking basically like red paint, tames some of the it’s sheer brutality making it a bit more consumable for genre newbies. I really dug a lot of the characters as well, though some may seem a bit stereotyped but the protagonist, a grumpy loner bad ass hero named ‘Washington’ (a cool add to black horror heroes) gets the job done once the gang begins to wreck havoc on his turf, the tenement. It’s quite glorious actually once the surviving apartment tenants decide to band together and fight back, revenge is well served here for sure and it’s quite worth sitting through the earlier nastiness for some sweet revenge. Also never ever underestimate a pregnant woman in danger!
One of the best things about this mean little movie is the actual setting itself. The run down apartment building is a dirty gritty mess of a place. The perfect place for an inner city showdown to occur, with no help of course from the local police. A lot of Roberta Findlay’s movies, at least what I’ve seen so far, have this totally sleezy city vibe going on and it she works that angle quite well. When people bring up grindhouse films this one is actually the perfect example of the genre and for what it is this one’s easily one of the best out there. Her movies feel like they were made a decade earlier as well and have much more of of 70’s feel to them in look and style. A dark yet entertaining action packed urban battle that might not be the most digestible piece of cinema in 2019, but it’s surely something you likely won’t forget anytime soon!