I’ve had this discussion several times over the past year with fellow Star Trek fans, what most seem to fear is Quentin Tarantino getting his dirty mitts on the franchise! But like it or not, it seems Tarantino might actually be taking the reigns on the next movie, which has also been rumored to be his last film ever in the director’s chair. Most seem to fear he’s going to totally ruin Star Trek, planting over the top violence & F-bombs around every damn corner of the movie & if it’s ‘Rated R’ like he’s proposing, there’ll surely be some of that. It makes me wonder does Star Trek need to be rated R? Probably not, but if it is I’m pretty curious just what that would look like exactly. That all being said, I really don’t think he’d turn Star Trek suddenly into ‘Kill Bill’. I feel like Quentin just might actually be the right person for the job, especially if you’re longing for a classic Trek adventure ala The Original Series, The Next Generation or classic movies like ‘The Wrath of Khan’.
Let’s face the facts folks, the JJ Abrams ‘Star Trek’ stuff was fun (at least the first and third movies in the trilogy), but it felt way more like ‘The Fast & The Furious’ than an actual Trek adventure. The classic Star Trek/Next Generation stuff had a much different vibe than these fluffy, bloated CGI spectacles we’ve been recently served up. The classic stuff most often explored a more cerebral side of science fiction story telling. Sure even in ‘The Original Series’ there was great humor and a certain degree of spectacle, but the stories almost always had something interesting to say and often times left you thinking. This side of the Star Trek storytelling, in my opinion, has been seriously missing in these modern attempts. So hear me out, think of what era of film Tarantino truly loves beyond anything else, it’s all of the stuff from the 60’s & 70s. I’m certain he spent some serious time neck deep in those original Star Trek episodes and absolutely adored the banter between Kirk, Spock, Bones and the crew. Their witty conversations on the original series actually remind me in many ways of the dialogue Tarantino serves up in his own films. I can easily picture his influence on Chris Pine’s Kirk, Zachary Quinto’s Spock & Karl Urban’s McCoy fitting perfectly in spirit with the original series in a way we’ve yet to see for this latest cast.
Tarantino thrives in the vintage era of filmmaking that Star Trek was first introduced in, he gets it and it’s obvious that it’s all a huge influence on pretty much everything he’s ever done. Almost all of his movies are a callback to that exact era when Star Trek was first originally thriving. The grindhouse movies and tv of the 60’s and 70’s is exactly what fuels Quentin’s entire soul. It’s why I think just maybe people are wrong to fear Tarantino taking on Star Trek. If you’re a fan of the classic stuff, then there’s honestly probably not a better person to be grabbing the ‘Trek’ bull by the horns and putting it back on course to it’s true roots. Quentin would likely serve us up a more compelling, thought provoking science fiction story to digest as well. He never delivers the predictable Hollywood fare. I don’t see his film making style at all being just a giant CGI spectacle. He’s never been into that. I trust he’s not going to work with a flimsy script either, especially if it is indeed planned to be his final movie. His films have always had more dimensions to them than the average generic summer blockbuster.
I think he’s got the wit, the understanding of what made the original material great & the vision to blend it all into a package that feels classic while at the same time something Trekkies have never quite seen before in a Star Trek film. To me “Tarantino Star Trek” really makes sense. I’m just not interested in seeing another mindless, bloated blockbuster of a Star Trek film again. Let’s go back to what made the series stand out from the herd. In order to do that it really needs someone who understands the franchise and isn’t just trying to make a boat load of quick cash off the masses. Star Trek needs a different style of film maker this time around, that’s certainly clear and I think taking a chance on Quentin is as good a bet as any to give the franchise a bold boost into new territory…
I’ve been flying through a ton of VHS tapes lately which can be a ton of fun and also a total drag sometimes! A lot of these old 80’s horror movies have pretty impressive VHS cover art, they look like they’re gonna be a lost fucking gem, however you truly just can’t judge a book by it’s cover, or in these particular cases, a movie. Anyway it’s always a gamble and sometimes you do indeed end up with a hidden gem or at least something that’s so damn stupid that it’s a thoroughly entertaining shiny cinematic terd. So here’s the verdict on some VHS tapes I’ve scored recently! CHECK IT!!
Nightmare at Bitter Creek (1988):
Here’s a little movie that turned out to be a ton of fun, we get a psycho killer/survival flick with instead of annoying teenagers, we’re treated to a group of middle age ladies on a camping excursion with a middle aged Tom Skerritt as their hard drinkin’ tuff guy guide. Oh and he also has this rad dog named “Buster” that everyone seems to be a bit too obsessed with. Anyway, they all head of into the woods of the Sierra Mountains, sounds like fun huh? Well there’s also a crazed group of Neo-nazi killers who’re hellbent on shooting everyone in sight roaming around the woods. This one’s got some pretty decent characters (Buster included), super breathtaking locations, creepy atmosphere and for a PG-13 flick a good amount of action & violence especially in it’s final act. Not entirely a horror movie, it’s still got enough going for it to please fans of the genre, I dug it for sure! Here’s the whole damn movie via Youtube:
Here’s another one that was a pretty fun time as well, especially if you like cheezy 80’s ski movies and also idiotic horror. I know I do! So yeah, this one is 80’s as hell, totally over the top fashion, big hair, bad ski moves on the slopes, bad editing, idiotic characters and even a wannabe “mystery” at it’s core. It’s also basically one quarter soft core porno as well, there’s a bunch of “steamy” sex scenes strewn about Iced’s messy story. It’s all in all a really stupidly entertaining watch, directed by Jeff Kwitney who also directed “Amok Train” aka “Beyond the Door III” from 1989 which I love. ‘Iced’ turned out to be a good ridiculous party movie filled to the brim with stupid shit and an opening credits scene that looks like it was put together by a high school AV club. In this case though instead of being a total bore this one delivered enough schlocky fun to make it a fully worth while view. If you like dumb movies, this one surely delivers – and that final scene is a total treat!
I was pretty excited to check this “horror” flick out when I ran across it, basically it’s about some mysterious tombs that are discovered in the catacombs beneath Rome that release an evil force and also stars Donald Pleasance! Sounds like a damn good time huh? Unfortunately this one is a total bore, lots of character development and bland dialogue for uninteresting characters and lots of roaming around in dim caverns. Like lots of it. At one point I decided to watch the movie on fast forward until FINALLY something happened at the end that seemed somewhat interesting, however I’ve already forgotten what it was. This ones a real winner, if you’re having a hard time falling asleep it’ll bore you into a serious slumber. Here’s the trailer, trust me it’s not as cool as they make it out to be..
Here’s a sweet little movie that’s a ton of fun if you’re not expecting a heck of a lot! Invader features a dude who works at an over the top tabloid paper reporting on weird stories who gets involved in a ‘wicked’ mysterious Alien conspiracy. The dude sneaks onto an air force base and witnesses some ultra secret super powered jet being tested and ends up paired with a bad ass military Captain when he’s caught there snoopin’ around. From this point on the movie features a pretty rad “buddy style” team up with the two and really from the start it’s totally entertaining albeit dumb sci-fi romp full of pretty ridiculous action sequences as well as some pretty surprising well timed comedy. I had zero expectations so perhaps that’s why this one seemed like such a fun time? Still there totally were some impressive yet cheezy fx work at hand and the “final boss” battle features some radical old school stop motion animation to look forward to as well! Gotta love it, check this out sometime if you’re looking for a entertaining cheez-filled early 90’s sci fi adventure!
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!
Dan Haggerty (RIP) most famously known for his family friendly iconic role as “Grizzly Adams” also did some major ass kicking in the 80’s & early 90’s C-list cinema. I was lucky enough to check out a VHS copy of ‘Repo Jake’ and damn did it catapult Haggerty to a whole new level of awesome. First off, a movie with the name “Repo Jake” featuring Haggerty in the lead role might sound a bit ridiculous and it turns out in this case you can totally judge a book by it’s cover. From start to finish this one is pretty much nonstop idiotic fun, though not entirely intentionally a “comedy” per say it’s the perfect action party flick from 1990 that’s got enough going for it to charm the pants off a Tommy Wiseau.
Haggerty stars as Jake Baxter an ex military dude who moves from the midwest to LA to make some quick cash as a repo man to pay off his own debts on a repossessed home in Minnesota. From the get go we know Repo Jake Baxter is a total bad ass with a big heart as he immediately helps a woman recover her stolen purse on the streets of Cali. This opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie, Jake kicks the purse snatchers ass big time an while doing so completely demolishes some poor dudes corner store. But hey at least he recovers that purse!!
From that point on it’s clear, Repo Jake has got some seriously unusual magnetic sex appeal too as pretty much every woman he runs into from that point on wants to relentlessly get down with him. Jake of course can’t help that he’s so damn sexy and in that wholesome “Haggerty way” never caves to their advances. Whatta guy I tell ya. Who knew he was such an object of desire? Well that’s not the only mischief Jake gets involved in, when he lands his job as a repo man there’s trouble around nearly every corner and his co-workers are a full on 80’s style motley crew of crazy over the top characters. Jake’s first job is fucking amazing as he heads off on his own to repo a car from a gang of drunk morons who’re cheering on their buddy as he drives in circles around Jake in a parking lot. It’s not long before Jake’s on the hood of the car for a ridiculous drunken joyride. Jake always gets the damn job done.
He gets his repo on kickin’ ass along the way, Jake even repos a fucking helicopter from a seriously persistant pilot, yeah he’s a total natural, like the Rocky Balboa of repo men. He’s got it all at this point, the money’s a’ flowing an of course he’s soon dating his sexy aspiring actor neighbor in his apartment building! Clearly twice her age it seems his rugged animal magnetism is just too damn much for any human to resist. Eventually he pisses off a “powerful” crime lord and reveals he was once a hotshot drag racer who lost the love of his life due to his passion for kick ass car racing. Of course Repo Jake gets another chance to show off his mad skills as a car racer when he’s put to the ultimate test forcing to compete against the local crime boss in a high profile high octane race and then all sorts of madness ensues in full on ridiculous final boss battle.
Haggerty totally shines in this flick, I’d say it’s one of his best and proves him to once again be an unlikely action hero. He certainly does have a degree of humbling charisma that always makes him a pleasure to watch on screen. As far as movies that fit into that “so bad that they’re great” this one is a winner and a lot of it’s charm comes from director Joseph Merhi, who knows how to push the perfect buttons with a limited budget. He’s got quite a few movies from the 80’s and 90’s (The Newlydeads, LA Heat, Epitaph) I’m looking to check out now after having such a great time with Repo Jake. Check this out on a Saturday night with a gang of rabid movie maniacs along with plenty o’ booze and it’ll surely provide all with one helluva good time!! Here’s the full movie on Youtube for a Repo Jake quick fix:
Hot Dayum! Here’s a rad ass kung fu movie I recently checked out that deserves some serious love yet remains all but forgotten by most here in the USA. If you dig comic books and kung fu I say you gotta take a moment to check out…
Operation Scorpio, aka The Scorpion King (1991)
This unique Hong Kong kung Fu movie from 1991 is barrel of zany fun. It’s jam packed with some truly stunning action and hyper-crazy early 1990’s Kung Fu mayhem!! This one’s got a ton of heart and a cool ass story about a comic book artist, Yu Shu, who’s got a wild ass imagination and spends his time daydreaming of being a real life superhero. It opens with a great sequence that perfectly sets the stage for the frantic charming martial arts extravaganza. His wild imagination gets the best of him when his ‘in class cartooning’ soon gets him expelled from medical school leaving him to help his Uncle’s buddy, Master Yat around his popular noodle restaurant. But Yu soon finds himself fully wrapped up in the evil web of a criminal prostitution ring, when going out on a limb, he helps a woman escape from their stronghold late one evening while walking about town. Now the duo are on the run and take shelter hiding out in Master Yat’s noodle house, they’ll eventually find a lot more than noodle’s in his bustling restaurant.
Shit gets pretty awesome as the movie constantly introduces us to a colorful cast of unique characters and the villain’s seemingly superhuman fighting abilities inspire our main character to take a stab at kung fu himself. He secretly heads off to local martial arts school that’s taught by one of the most bad ass, muscle bound kung fu experts I’ve ever seen in cinema. This dude rivals Bolo Yueng! The movie plays out a bit like a comic book version of “My Bodyguard” & “The Karate Kid” and it’s filled with comedy, romance and downright incredible martial arts sequences. Sonny, (The Scorpion King), the lanky villain of the movie, shows that size clearly doesn’t matter when it comes to superhuman kung fu and proves himself to be quite a cinematic threat to anyone who stands in his way. His “scorpion” style of fighting is a treat to see in action as well and one of the best action scenes is when Yu’s Hulking kung fu teacher decides to try and put an end to his problems himself. This truly epic and a bit of a heartbreaking confrontation is definitely not to be missed..
We’ve got a ton of cool shit going on in this one & one of the most entertainingly cheezy sequences of the movie involves the rigorous kung fu training endured by Yu as he masters martial arts through a full on noodle making work out. We’ve got some great twists and turns in the plot as well and just about everything in this movie is quirky enough to elevate this one to a level of it’s own in the ranks of late 80’s early 90’s martial arts movies. Cool sets, ultra colorful characters, superhuman kung fu, heart and unique little story drive this movie into territory I wasn’t even aware existed in the genre. Operation Scorpio, aka ‘The Scorpion King’ is a total treat for any comic book fan and it’s no wonder the flick was produced by the legendary Sammo Hung. It stands on it’s own and really deserves a lot more attention and notoriety for it’s pure charm and ultra endearing cheez factor it delivers. Seek this one out, as it really is a forgotten gem…
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).
Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.
It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.
From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!
Here’s yet another entry for all you folks out there who STILL get dvds in the mail from Netflix! I know there aren’t all that many of us left these days, but I’m the type of guy who still thinks dvds are the bees knees! Yeah!! So what of it?!! Don’t get me wrong, I still stream stuff on the online Neflix site but let’s be honest most of that shit SUCKS – Hence why I’ve been combing the dvd Neflix library for lost gems!
Good news folks, I found another gem in their vast sea of aging dvds, this time we’re looking at a movie from Hong Kong from way back in 1987: EVIL CAT. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this cool ass little Chinese horror movie but I’m glad I did cuz it was a ton o’ fun! This crazy ass little movie is jam packed with quirk, 80’s electricity and frantic action sequences, basically everything I dig about the 80’s. Director Dennis Yu brings the fun and amps up some seriously ridiculous shit as we follow the exploits of an evil cat spirit (who’da thunk huh?) that’s released from it’s ancient sealed tomb by a construction crew & unleashed upon Hong Kong in the late 80’s.
The movie moves at brisk pace too, the evil cat spirit moves from body to body kinda like that Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen’ if it was more of a spastic colorful horror romp. It’s actually pretty damn funny when the spirit possesses people, they start acting like wild feral cats growling and scratching like maniacs. It’s pretty cool to see these actors go for it and go pretty far over the top with their possessions.
The evil cat spirit however has problems of it’s own though as we learn over centuries one family has been hunting it and keeping it in check over generations. In the 1980’s there’s an old badass dude from that bloodline who’s dying from cancer who pulls out the old magic bow & arrows from storage to put a stop to the feline madness himself. There’s some sweet plot twists here, crazy characters & some surprising gore that pops in out of nowhere from time to time. The movie never really drags and wears it’s 80’s influences firmly on it’s sleeve. You get a pretty damn fine representation of what Hong Kong was like in the 1980’s, filled with neon and great 80’s fashion. It’s clear if you’re looking for more great crazy cinema from that era, there’s a treasure trove of movies waiting to be discovered from Hong Kong studios.
Evil Cat is definitely worth tracking down and the finale is pretty cool especially when the evil cat possesses a woman who’s nearly as unstoppable as the Terminator! The actual cat spirit is portrayed several times as cool hand drawn animation & then as basically a female cat “creature” pulled from the broadway musical “Cats”.
So while there were several aspects of the movie that could have been done better it was still an incredibly inspired 80’s effort to witness for the first time with no expectations. Also if you’re a fan of kung fu there’s some cool crazy showdowns and plenty of humor thrown into the mix. Some if it being likely being due to some shoddy subtitles and translations that just add more charm to the viewing experience. Track down EVIL CAT or if you still have a Netflix dvd account then throw it into you’re queue!!