LOVE AND MONSTERS: A Sweet Escape from Reality into the Monsterpocalypse?!
One of the sweetest, feel good movies in recent memory, ‘Love & Monsters’ came as a totally welcome surprise! And that’s all being said as someone who’s normally pretty tough on newer horror/fantasy/sci fi movies. Love & Monsters which came out last year may not have the most original plot but it more than makes up for any shortcomings with its impressive special effects and it’s truly heartwarming adventure. I guess I’d at first glance describe this as having somewhat of a “Zombieland” type of a thing going on and it might be easily dismissed as just some wimpy copycat. On the contrary, Love and Monsters buries ‘Zombieland’ (and especially the sequel), with what I think are just plain more likable characters who embark a much more compelling and colorful adventure in general.
Roughly seven years after the Earth was subjected to a mysterious monster invasion, the rather cowardly Joel Dawson has been living underground with a small pod of people trying to avoid what lurks above. He spends his time reconnecting over the radio with his high school girlfriend, Aimee, whom he was separated from when the tragedy hit and also cooking his signature soup for his crew. When the feelings of isolation and cabin fever finally get the best him he decides to muster up the courage to head to the world above. Seeking to finally reunite with his lost love who resides 80 miles away at a coastal colony, as he surmises that there’s nothing really left for him underground anymore. As he heads out alone he soon realizes he’s hardly prepared for the dangers all around him in the outside world. Mutant monsters are hungry and lurking around nearly every corner.
One of the high points here is the inclusion of charming canine character named “Boy”. Lifting a bit from ‘A Boy and his Dog’ (minus the weird sex plot) in a much sweeter way, we get the best of both world’s here for this little apocalyptic adventure. ‘Boy’ proves to be the show stealer here imo and his bond with Joel makes dealing with the dangers a bit less frightening, all things considered. The two make an excellent team against the creatures and it’s clear that they both need each other more than they likely ever realized for piece of mind in a crazy world. He also meets a few other interesting characters, a pair of wandering scavengers, Michael Rooker along with the ruff and tumble little girl named ‘Minnow’. Joel soon learns the tricks of the trade from them and has to make a big decision on the outcome of his journey. One of the best scenes involves a strange AI intelligence, who brings even more unexpected meaning to his travels.
The whole thing is a great exercise in escapism during these real life uncertain times we all face at the moment. It also shows just how important real human (and animal) connections will hopefully always be to us here on the planet as we move forward. As we’re feeling isolated to certain degrees currently, Love and Monsters showcases some parallels to the current state of affairs. I guess we can all at least be relieved that big mutant monsters aren’t waiting to chomp us to bit when we head outside at least?
Let me get to the monsters here as well, I was half expecting some sort of chintzy fx work here to spoil the damn party. Not the case, the creatures here though mostly CGI are a treat to behold and for the most part are pretty convincing threats to our heroes. As a HUGE fan of monster movies I think it hits that sweet spot quite nicely. There’s also some cool plot twists and of course some admittedly hokey ones that otherwise might not have worked without such strong characters at the forefront. If you’re looking for “Calgon to take you away” (80’s kids you know the reference) from the worries of the real world, I can’t think of a better new fantasy adventure flick to visit than ‘Love and Monsters’, easily one of my faves of 2020!
Movie Review: Old Dudes STILL Kick Ass in VFW!!!
I just checked out VFW, the latest from director Joe Begos (Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye) who returns with, in my opinion his best film yet! This sweet little gritty love letter to John Carpenter, which calls back to his classic ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ in big way, is also a blood soaked love letter to some older actors/action stars of yesteryear. We’ve got icons Fred Williamson, William Sadler, Stephen Lang, Martin Kove & even George Wendt from ‘Cheers’ to make this bar room brawl even more authentic!
The story kicks off on a special birthday night for VFW bar owner “Fred” and his tight knit gang of bad ass war veterans. The evening quickly turns into wild all-out battle for their lives when a teen punk rock girl crashes their party with a sack full of ‘hype’. This new drug basically turns people into demented maniacs, with a hunger for more hype at any cost. The evil punk drug dealer, desperate to get his valuable stash back, sends his gang of gnarly addicts on a rampage to get it back. When these mutant punks on a rampage storm the bar looking for the teen, the old vets along with a younger soldier get to relive the gory glory years of war one more time. They unleash their pent of rage and fury using every weapon they can get their hands on to protect the girl and try annihilate the horde of drug addled maniacs. However these messed up punks have hype running through their veins and want more, risking anything to their grimy paws on it.
If you’re a fan of old school action flicks from the 70’s & 80’s you’re going to really get a kick out of VFW. The gore is pretty over the top, done in a such a cartoony way that people literally explode on screen. As a fan of practical fx Begos always delivers the goods with some wild splatter, he also keeps the vibe placed firmly in the golden days of the action era, with not a cell phone in sight. It also feels like an 80’s flick, with stunning neon lit sets within the walls of the cool old dank dive bar.
The real highlight of this is the cast of old codgers who do the majority of the ass kickin’. It’s absolutely delightful to see the likes of Fred Williamson & The Karate Kid’s Martin “Sensei” Kove in full on action mode as well as Stephen Lang, William Sadler and the younger soldier played by Tom Williamson. They’re all great here and give this film the cred it deserves proving age is just a number when it comes to cinematic butt kicking. I really enjoyed VFW, it’s the perfect modern midnite movie and gets so much praise for bringing in some old icons into the mix of onscreen mayhem. Check this out if you’re a fan of 70’s/80’s cult action horror flicks- And here’s to hoping VFW gets a sequel bringing even more of the bar’s patrons into the fold, hand picking some more old nearly forgotten bad asses to do some damage one last time!
Greatest Animated Movies of ALL Time: 1983’s ‘Rock and Rule’!
I absolutely love seeing lost gems from the 1980’s, which is hands down my favorite era of cinema. So my excitement level upon seeing 1983’s ‘Rock and Rule’ was through the roof. I’m surprised honestly it took this damn long for it to materialize on my tv screen, being a big fan of hand drawn animation, it was a breath of fresh air in the CGI heavy era of today. Rock and Rule feels like the perfect companion piece to the cult classic ‘Heavy Metal’. It’s full of amazing music, the likes of Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Cheap Trick, Iggy Pop & Earth Wind and Fire provide the soundtrack here, but more so are also the providing the songs that the characters perform in the movie.
This Canadian post apocalyptic tale of rock and roll adventure, follows the exploits of an evil & powerful rockstar named “Mok” who’s looking to unleash a demonic force from another dimension to aid him in ruling the entire planet. In order to do so though he needs to find the perfect voice that can hit the that special pitch, to enable the magical portal to open. The heroes of the movie are a band of human/animal hybrid mutants who perform in struggling rock band at dive bars all over the city. When Mok is out on the town one evening he witnesses a performance by them and sets his sights on the female vocalist of the band named “Angel”. Her jealous bandmate/co-vocalist Omar feels betrayed when the evil rocker invites her to his mansion on the outskirts of town. Soon it’s evident Mok has sinister plans for Angel, which sends Omar, along with the rest of his band on a fantastic journey to try and rescue her from his evil clutches. However it may be Omar & the band who actually end up needing to be saved.
This one’s just a ton of dazzling fun to watch, the story might be a bit flimsy but the musical numbers & the spectacular animated sequences more than provide enough enticing eye candy to keep the pace swiftly moving. The songs are a treat as well and were crafted especially for the movie, in fact some of the lyrics written actually influenced it’s plot. It’s quite interesting to see the passion some of the people like Lou Reed & Iggy Pop had going into this project as well as how much work different animators put into the different characters giving them their own unique look and movement. The color bursts off the screen with that iconic 80’s neon and the action sequences and animated band performances are truly epic to behold. The movie ignites a true nostalgia for simpler times bringing the tail end of the 1970’s on a collision course with classic 80’s movie magic. I can only dream of how much fun this must have been to see in a theater in 1983. Continue reading
We Can Never Go Home – Truly Dangerous Teen Angst and Punk Spirit in the 80’s!
Oh how I love the 80’s! There’s something truly unique about that decade and even more so to me, having grown up in that era. That might be one of the reasons why I am loving ‘We Can Never Go Home‘ from Black Mask Studios so much, it really holds some serious nostalgia within it’s pages. In the late 80’s I was probably just about the same age as these characters in the book and was fueled by things like skateboarding, punk rock and well for me…girls. This series is set in 1989 and feature two characters who somehow seem like long lost characters from my childhood, only these two teens have something other than just raging hormones pulsating through their veins, they’ve also got some strange superhuman abilities. So what’s so unique about a story with some teenage misfits with dangerous mutant like powers you might ask?
Well writer Matthew Rosenberg pulls no punches and at issue #2 we see our two leads getting into a boat load of serious, serious trouble. Imagine if you were a teenager with raging hormones and you had a peculiar case of superhuman strength or could kill someone with your mind? It’d be a dangerous scenario and after our two troubled teens Madison & Duncan become friends it becomes quite an unholy alliance. With Madison sending her boyfriend crashing through a car window after he picks a fight with a loner punk rocker Duncan, things begin to get real messy real quick. Soon these two find out they have more in common than they ever imagined.
After one fatal move the two are bound to never go home and head off on a road trip that by issue number two will have you gasping for air. These two teens just seem to get deeper and deeper into a tangled web that could easily cost them and anyone they care about their lives. So what better solution than stealing a car and robbing the local drug dealer of all his cash huh?
I’m also loving all of excellent references to old punk rock, mix tapes with everything awesome & confusing about being a teen in the 1980’s. It’s clear Rosenberg himself is a fan of the era and he captures the heart of a great rebellious 80’s flick within the pages of his book, which isn’t an easy task. I can already see this series transformed into great tv series or movie, kind like if ‘Heathers’ and ‘Firestarter’ got together and had lovechild.
So in a time when superhero books leave you feeling a bit empty inside it’s nice to know we’ve got a true alternative to the genre and one more exciting road trip left to go on with that awesome girl (or boy) that may have have got away many years ago. Just make sure to bring that totally rad old mix tape on this ride because is gonna get epic and most definitely deadly…
Comic book Cover of the Week: The Blob’s Ultimate Dream Babe!
I always loved this particular comic book cover by John Byrne way back from 1985! Alpha Flight #22 is a fun issue with a great simplistic cover. I love when team titles have issues where you get either a solo adventure or a pair together, in this case two of my favorites the mutant twins Northstar and Aurora! I love how frustrated they both look while in the clutches of The Pink Pearl.
Alpha flight was an excellent title and I highly suggest the entirely charming John Byrne run of the series. Now the cool thing about this is that you might think the Pink Pearl was simply a one off villain but in fact she has sine appeared several other times through the years most recently briefly in The Logan Legacy. John Byrne too had his act fully together with these 80’s Alpha Flight comic covers too! This one though has always been a fav of mine!
Blood Glacier: An Old School Style Creature Feature!
I’ve been looking forward to “Blood Glacier” now for quite a while, anything that boasts similarities to John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is always on the top of my lists of flicks I’ve just gotta see. This neat little Austrian film is a pretty fun, gory, watch and really feels like it could’ve been made in the 80’s. It’s plot has the same type of vibe as ‘The Thing’ as we have a small band of researchers up in the mountains doing research on the effects of global warming and how it’s affecting wildlife. It doesn’t take long to figure out that something sinister is lurking around the mountain sides here, especially when they discover a giant glacier that’s oozing a strange red liquid from within. Soon the team discover that weird mutant hybrid animals are wandering close to their station and what’s worse is that they’re hungry and pissed off! Yipee!!
This movie has some great characters, in fact the main characters are what really make this one shine.Plus one grumpy older female bad ass scientist even shout’s out one of my favorite movie lines I’ve heard in a long time- “stop eating that banana while you’re crying!!” I had to watch that part a few times! Best ever. I was thinking the same thing right when she screamed that one out! I loved the atmosphere of it all too, a serious sense of dread lingers throughout and the creatures are also pretty inventively savage. I wouldn’t put them on the same level as “The Thing” but for almost entirely practical effects this one made the most of it’s smaller budget.
Much of the monster action here is most effective by what you don’t see and the sounds heard these mutants create while on the attack. I was hoping to be dazzled by the practical effects just a tad more and really could have seen a bit more CG being used to the films benefit? I rarely say that and I guess they kept the vision pretty well focused and consistent, I was just hoping to get a better full view of some of these monstrosities. This one does play like a cool lost 1980’s creature feature and i say that in the best way. You get some cool hybrid creatures, mutated mountain goats, killer mosquitos, mutant hawls and weird insect fox hybrids and one gory ass operation sequence! This one makes me even more pumped to see “Harbinger Down” which is another upcoming Monster movie also boasting no CGI by special effects wizard Alec Gillis and crew. In the mean time check out Blood Glacier, you can watch it on Netflix streaming to get your monster on!
Here’s a little glimpse into some of the monster making: