I always thought it was so nice of Shang-Chi to let Billy Jack have a chance to kick ass on the cover of ‘The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu’ way back in the day! I mean Billy Jack was indeed a cinematic bad ass but who’d a thunk he’d grace the cover of a rad 70’s comic book? Well he made it happen, perhaps it was his posturing of Moral Violence?! Well back in 1974 he was apparently all the rage, this beautiful powerhouse round kick of a cover was done by icon Neal Adams!
I just watched what I consider to be a true bonafide lost 1980s gem, at least to me this movie was something I’d only found and watched by sheer chance. I frequent thrift stores quite often and upon discovering director Paul Lynch’s ‘Bullies’ a 1986 Canadian genre mash up of horror, thriller, action and revenge on VHS, I was most certainly intrigued, while realistically not getting my hopes up too damn high.
I’m pleased to report that ‘Bullies’ delivered the damn goods and then some in nearly every way I’d been hoping! Like I said in the title, this movie is essentially a mixture of The Karate Kid and Deliverance. I guess we’d categorize it as “Hicksploitation”. Sorry all you lovable hillbillies out there, but it’s kinda like if The Karate Kid’s Cobra Kai were evil messed up psycho mountain men! And when I say evil I mean evil with a capital E!
We follow the simple story of a teenage boy who moves with his mom and stepfather to a cozy little mountain town smack dab in the middle of the woods to run a family business. The only problem is some of the locals are restless and don’t particularly like the new arrivals in town…at all. A wicked gang of family hicks are on the prowl to fuck with anyone they please and no one seems to give a damn, not even the cops- imagine that huh?!
Luckily our teenage equivalent to Daniel Laruso befriends a cool local Native American man, who he establishes a strong bond with and like Mr. Miagi he teaches him some serious life lessons, survival and even a few nifty combat techniques. Something his stepfather whom he somewhat loathes and views as a useless coward doesn’t seem to have ANY interest in being part of. Of course he meets the beautiful Olivia D’Abo, and of course crushes out hard. I mean what are the chances he meets a babe like her in this po-dunk town? Lucky guy! Or is he?
As it just happens to turn out that she’s the sister of one of the insane maniac hillbillies who who threaten the town folk on any whim. But that’s not gonna stop the teen romance though as the two are immediately lovestruck. So the pissed off hillbillies up the ante with their evil shenanigans and the boy’s step dad is too chicken to stand up to them. These guys not only terrorize the teenagers but also go on the war path against the parents too, leading to a truly shocking rape scene that ups the stakes to deadly proportions and drastically shifts the tone. Be warned! ‘Bullies’ takes some dark twists and turns but by the final act you’ll be rooting for revenge with all of your damn heart. Even though it does go to some dark places it oddly has a lingering light feeling to it somehow, an 80s charm of something like The Karate Kid or My Bodyguard. Most importantly are how, for the most part, endearing the characters are in this grimy little banger. It makes the journey one worth taking.
I’d say this is the perfect coming of age revenge flick, filled with genuine heart, romance, comedy and some pretty wild and crazy action sequences. You also get served some gory kills and some intense explosions that put this one in a league of its own as a intriguing lost 80s gem. Bullies exists on VHS only and is just begging to be cleaned up and released on a slick blu ray. It really deserves far more attention from cult movie fanatics, if you get a chance check this one out, but beware, these “Bullies” are playing for keeps!!
Hey happy damn 4th of July America! So today it’s just all about the USA right? You bet! Well let’s take a quick break from all of the red, white & blue festivities to pay some tribute to four lesser known superheroes who are NOT Captain America that also have an unhealthy but awesomely bizarre obsession with the United States! There’s just nothing quite like a patriotic weirdo superhero on the 4th!
The Spirit of 76
Yeah this guy is indeed a weirdo, I mean look at his utterly ridiculous costume he came up with and thought would scare the bejeezus out of all of the nasty supervillains who come to threaten the good ol’ USA! William Naslund came on the Marvel Comics scene back in 1977 and for a very brief period even assumed the mantle of Captain America! WOW. He has no superhuman powers but did manage to fashion himself a bulletproof cape!
Ok so if you thought Spirit of 76 had a dumb look, well DC Comic’s Uncle Sam has taken the patriotic thing to the god damn extreme! This guy would put fear into the hearts of evil doers just by the possibility of how crazy he’d have to be to don a costume that ridiculously yet awesomely pathetic! He first appeared WAY back in Quality Comics in 1940 and then was brought into the DC universe officially in 1973. Get this, Uncle Sam is described as a spiritual entity created through an occult ritual by the Founding Fathers. Damn, no wonder why he’s so freaky. Sam’s got super strength, invulnerability, the ability to alter his size, enhanced speed, along with some degree of clairvoyance. He also can teleport to a pocket dimension called ‘The Heartland’. Whatta guy huh?
Well here’s a dude who I can finally get behind. American Eagle is a total badass and deserves more love in Marvel Comics. Born as Jason Strongbow, a name he should have just used instead of American Eagle IMO, he first appeared in a team up with The Thing back in 1981. A member of the Navajo Nation, American Eagle possesses superhuman strength, enabling him to bench press approximately 15 tons! He also possesses superhuman speed, agility, stamina, and sturdiness as a result of radiation-induced mutation. He later got a less cultural looking costume:
He’s featured, along with our next hero in one of my favorite modern Marvel Comics stories featured in Thunderbolts #112-115 from 2007 that is a MUST read!
Here’s another guy who just could never quite get the recognition of his idol Captain America. He even settled for a second rate moniker to fight crime. Yet Jack Flag is still a pretty cool guy, even if he’s obsessed a bit too much with his country. First appearing on the scene on 1994 as part of Captain America’s computer hotline network, Flag has proven himself to be an interesting character, who was inspired by his hero Captain America to become one himself. In that same Thunderbolts run I mentioned above, where Jack Flag like The American Eagle both stand up for their Constitutional rights against the United States government during the superhuman registration act! As you can see in the picture he has been noted to go the full distance dying his hair red white and blue!
So one reason it’s fun to be a blogger is because there’s always that slight chance something you write about could ignite a spark on a certain topic, and one thing I’ve been hoping forever is that we’ll some day get an ‘Alpha Flight’ movie! Some of you all might be asking who the hell is Alpha Flight? Well let me just start off by saying they at one time had much more notoriety in the Marvel Universe than The Guardians of the Galaxy! So as far as Marvel movies go anything is possible, I mean I never thought we’d get TWO damn Ant-man movies either! For those who may not know, Alpha Flight is a Canada’s answer to the X-men & The Avengers, who made their first appearance 40 years ago in X-men #120.
Wolverine was originally set to be the team’s leader, which led to them having a heavy presence in the X-universe & throughout the years they’ve had their own Marvel comic book series several times throughout the last 4 decades with varying degrees of success. Well I think now’s the time to tell the team’s story on the big screen & I’m certain if they did it right it’d be next the big thing in the MCU, not convinced? Well here are 6 reasons why Marvel’s gotta jump on the chance sooner than later!!
1. Diversity of the Team
Ok so it’s clear that diversity in comic book movies is a topic that’s endlessly being discussed today. It just so happens that they have always been one of the most naturally diverse in the Marvel Universe. From iconic native characters like Shaman and his daughter Talisman, to Eugene ‘Puck’ Judd being a ‘little’ person, to Marrina being a bizarre race of fish creature and Northstar being a gay man, the team undeniably has a lot of interesting characters within it’s ranks. Half have been made up of women and Heather Hudson also known as ‘Vindicator’ stepped in as the team’s leader for over half of the teams comic book existence. They’d easily translate to the big screen in a unique way and I think they’ve got a lot to offer in a way audiences haven’t seen before on the big screen!
2. First Gay Superhero
This leads me to my second point as recently I’ve seen that Marvel was looking to introduce the first openly gay superhero. Well good thing for Alpha Flight, they had the very first mainstream gay superhero, Jean-Paul Beaubier aka ‘Northstar’. Though it wasn’t openly stated in the team’s first series from 1983 it was clear to see the angle of the character presented there. Nearly ten years later in 1992 Northstar officially came out as gay to the public making mainstream headlines and then in 2012 again when the first gay superhero wedding took place prominently in ‘Astonishing X-men’ #51. His husband being Kyle Jinadu, a black man, was also notable in featuring a natural diversity within the now iconic superhero storyline.
The character has broken down barriers time and time again in comic book history and if any gay superhero makes it to the silver screen it surely should be Northstar. With all of his sexual identity to the side, the character has always been an interesting one, with one of the biggest attitudes in Marvel comics ranks he’s also got a twin sister “Aurora” whom he’s incredibly protective of. Their relationship has gone through a lot of intriguing states of turmoil as well, especially when it comes to her choices of people she chooses to date. Northstar in general is just a super badass character, possessing the ability to travel at superhuman speeds, fly, and project photon energy blasts. His twin sister, Aurora also possesses similar abilities. He automatically makes the team that much more interesting without even trying. Continue reading
I never even knew a movie existed where Charles Bronson and Will Sampson (Chief Bromden from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’) teamed up to battle a giant albino monster buffalo up until a couple weeks ago. But yeah ‘The White Buffalo’ is just that, a wild west adventure flick that channels ‘Jaws’ in obvious ways but alsogives a lot more to ponder upon later. This 1977 action flick features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickock who’s haunted by nightmares of a vicious monster buffalo, so much so that he’s developed a bad habit of grabbin’ his pistols during the dreams and randomly firing it in real life while he’s in a deep slumber.
The visions intensify and soon Bronson’s on a cross country quest to track down this pesky monster. There’s some great action in between of course where Bronson kicks a ton of ass and gets into some crazy saloon shootouts, cuz let’s not forget what he’s best known for, over the top ass kickin’ action. Meanwhile the awesome Will Sampson plays the legendary Crazy Horse, who’s daughter happens to be slaughtered by the giant buffalo in a bloody massacre on his settlement and it inspires a quest of revenge against the beast.
I really dig this forgotten gem, from the cool sets to the atmospheric gothic journey when Bronson heads off on into the mountains in a stage coach, to the drama between Hickock and Crazy Horse as they try to come to terms with the white man’s dominance in the world. Of course my favorite part of this 70’s horror/action hybrid is the threat of the giant beast looming in the mountians, which I read was inspired by the success of ‘Jaws’. The creature appears within an almost dream like landscape, even when outside of Bronson’s nightmares.
The giant beast is actually pretty well done I think, considering the times, using animatronics and puppetry and well placed camera angles. there’s some pretty bloody and intense scenes later as well when the duo finally confronts the albino behemoth. Considering the movie had a PG rating back then at least it gets nice and dirty when it needs to. We all know those 70’s “PG” rated flicks can feel a lot more like an R rated movie in modern times. The movie definitely works best showcasing the unlikely alliance between Bronson & Sampson and does it’s best to show what sort of bonds and trust can develop against a greater threat. I had a blast with this one and it’s easily become one of my favorite Bronson movies! Track this one down, it’s a unique little largely forgotten monster flick!
I’m always totally down to see a killer new Sasquatch flick, the trouble is there’s been a LOT of pretty crappy ones made over the years with maybe just a few exceptions like Eduardo Sanchez’s ‘Exists’, ‘Abominable’ from 2006 and of course the classic ‘Harry and The Hendersons’. For some reason people have a tuff time bringing a believable Bigfoot to the big screen. Go figure. That leaves me believe people seem to think all they need is a tall dude to don an ape suit and they’ve got a worthy horror on their hands. The best ones though always put most of their money into their ‘Squatch creature fx and bring something truly believable to screen. Let’s face it, so many out there are faking Bigfoot videos on Youtube with rubber ape suits, believing what you’re seeing on screen is real is the first point of brilliance in a movie like this. Luckily “Primal Rage” is directed by fx wizard Patrick Magee (Jurassic Park 3/Progeny/AVP) and he put some serious effort into the crazed creature’s appearance in this movie. The best thing about this one is clearly the beast and that’s a damn good thing in this case.
Primal Rage’s actors aren’t trying to (or maybe even able to) win awards here and it’s got more in common at it’s core with a 70’s or 80’s killer creature flick than it does with something like Jurassic Park. The script is here might be a bit on the flimsy side but that makes way for tons of crazy Bigfoot action to go down. The premise is simple, an ex-con is just released from prison and picked up there by his girlfriend, as they drive through the mountains of Pacific Northwest (en route back home) they get side tracked when a mangled man stumbles into the road and is hit by their car. When they get out to investigate they almost immediately come under attack from large rocks being hurled at them, ex-con guy gets knocked off a cliff into a river and his lover jumps down to save him from drowning. This begins a fight for their lives in the woods are they’re pursued by “Oh-Mah” a pissed off native american mythical cryptid, AKA Sasquatch.
The interesting thing here is that “Oh-Mah” is actually an intelligent, brutal hunter who wears a bark mask and uses a bevy of handcrafted weapons to attack his prey. He also fucks shit up with his bare hands any chance he gets. He’s brutal as hell in this one, firing arrows and ripping people to shreds who’re dumb enough to hanging around in his stompin’ grounds. Bigfoot’s a calculated cold blooded killer here and there’s plenty of people for him to rip into, especially as there’s conveniently a gang of backwoods weirdos ala Deliverance who’re in desperate need of an ass-kickin shooting the shit in the vicinity. Bigfoot pulls no punches either, Magee pulls out some crazy ass sequences of practical gore a’plenty and his Bigfoot, “Oh-Mah” looks fantastic. He’s huge and it’s clear they put plenty of work into his animatronic face to make him a convincing and memorable movie monster.
There’s also a sweet supernatural sub-plot going on with the local Native American sheriff who’s out for Oh-Mah’s hide (this dude should have been the main character) and a crazy wood witch who looks like she stepped right out of Ridley Scott’s “Legend”. Magee does a fine job here creating a ton of cool action sequences and an explosive ‘final boss’ battle. Bigfoot does have a questionable scene where he forces himself upon a female captive that I could have done without, but luckily it’s a brief, more implied scene. Otherwise this one’s a ton of gory fun that’s not to be taken too seriously. It’s a good mix of Predator, Pumpkinhead & Deliverance with some ‘Squatch making it it one of the best of it’s genre. A must see addition to Bigfoot’s horror legacy!
Black Panther is clearly all the rage at the box office and it’s crazy that he wasn’t introduced sooner to the Marvel cinematic universe. We had to wait roughly 10 years for his solo flick since the MCU kicked off, maybe Marvel was strategically timing his arrival with current trends in the news and social media? Whatever the case thinking about the gigantic monetary success of ‘The Panther’ I’m certain people over at Disney/Marvel are scheming what characters will be the next smash sensation and I’m certain they’re considering just how the racial background of them might help bring in the big bucks once again. Let’s face it, the white dude superhero can clearly get a little stale sometimes. So who’re the top contenders that Marvel might introduce to the moviegoing public? Here’s my predictions and hopes:
Shang Chi: The Master of Kung Fu
Shang Chi is clearly at the top of the list when I think about what Marvel might have planned next after the success of The Black Panther. It seems like Marvel and Disney are pretty concerned about their Chinese audience when it comes to releasing new movies as they can make a ton of money there. So if they play their cards right perhaps the legendary Master of Kung Fu could woo audiences in the USA and abroad? I think so, imagine a Marvel Kung Fu flick done right with crazy over the top superhuman martial arts action on the big screen. They could achieve what they should have with Iron Fist and give everyone the action extravaganza they craved for the Netflix character. I’d love to see him come to life on the big screen, he’s a true classic character that deserves more respect..
Have I ever mentioned how much I love monster movies? Well being a huge fan of the creature feature I thought I’d showcase one of my personal favorites. Prophecy from 1979 is a damn good movie that still holds up quite well even in 2016. It’s a monster movie with a message, don’t pollute the rivers cuz if you do you just might end up with a wildly mutated pissed off monster grizzly bear in your forests! Yeah John Frankenheimer does a wonderful job bringing this twister creature feature to life and the box/ poster art is one of my favorites check it:
It really doesn’t get too much better than this as far as awesome cover art goes and also having a movie that’s actually as cool as it’s poster art in this era can at time be a difficult task. As a kid this cover always stuck with me from way back in the video store days. If you haven’t seen this one then make sure this Halloween you track it down, you won’t be disappointed!