Tagged: practical effects

1980s Cine-MAGIC From Japan: The STARDUST BROTHERS!

I’m willing to bet you’re just like me and never heard of this near “forgotten ’til now” 80s gem from Japan: The Legend of The Stardust Brothers! This incredible movie from 1985 is most definitely one of the most unique oddities I’ve stumbled upon in quite sometime. An incredibly ambitious musical gem, packed with practical effects and eighties fashion that will likely knock your neon socks right off!

It tells the tale of  two struggling rival musicians: one a rowdy punk rocker and the other an egotistical wanna be popstar who meet a mysterious man while sharing the same bill  at a seedy night club. He offers them the contract of a lifetime, claiming that within one week, if they follow all the rules, the two of them will be rocketed to full blown pop super stardom. That is as long as they join forces, from that point on become The Stardust Brothers and tell the world they are indeed real bonafide brothers.

Now admittedly I’m not a real big fan of musicals, there’s only a few that I really love (Popeye, The Wizard of Oz & Little Shop of Horrors immediately come to mind). However this one has now EASILY made the list as a must watch and it’s something I’ll be watching over and over again. Essentially it’s the wildly unpredictable story of the bizarre rise and fall of this pop duo. It’s firmly glued together with a series of incredible little musical vignettes that are a visual and sonic feast.

A sweet mixture of punk rock, powerpop & some cool new wave numbers, connecting a series of incredibly ambitious music videos within one insane narrative. There are touches of the supernatural as well as a ton of amazing special effects, stop motion & practical monster effects that really impress, especially if your a fan of the 80s. It’s also filled to the brim with some of the best Japanese fashion of the era to go along with the catchy songs. As I write this, their theme song is still stuck firmly in my brain. I’d love to get my hands on some vinyl of the soundtrack. Aside from the cool music, luckily it’s got a pretty unique story that blends elements of scifi, horror and even a bit of romance. It’s unexpected twists and turns deliver a frenetic, action packed finale that will  leave you pondering the events of the entire film. Its all done with a heroic dose of heart too.

Just how far do you really go to live the life of a superstar without any of the hard work required to get to the top? The Stardust Bros go the distance and the musical journey is definitely a wacky one worth taking. Apparently director Makoto Tezuka tried to catch lightning in a bottle a few years ago by producing a direct sequel, but after doing a little poking around it doesn’t seem like he was quite to able to recreate the neon electromagnetic magic of the first.

In the meantime I highly recommend picking this one up on a newly released blu ray from SRS Cinema. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is packed with pure charisma, tons of vibrant youthful energy and shows you exactly how inventive some directors in the 1980s were in Japan with a limited budget!  Don’t sleep on this one!

 

Larry Cohen’s 1992 SHE-HULK Movie That Should’ve Been!

So today the first episode of the long awaited SHE-HULK series premieres on Disney Plus & though I’m excited for it I’m still a bit saddened that we will never have gotten a LIVE action She-Hulk on the big OR small screen. If I’m not making myself entirely clear it’s because the version of She-Hulk we’re getting today is indeed a fully CGI generated character. However what most people don’t realize is that waaaay back in the early nineties there was indeed a live action She- Hulk movie in the works!

Even more amazing was that at its helm was Larry Cohen one of my all time favorite cult cinema directors- Even MORE “sensational” was the inclusion of Brigitte Nielsen in the title role of the Jade Giantess! This was indeed a match made in heaven. And after watching Larry Cohen’s brilliant 1990 movie ‘The Ambulance’ I’m convinced Stan Lee and him had made the connection for producing a She-Hulk movie during that production.

If you’ve never seen ‘The Ambulance’ you gotta check it out. Eric Roberts stars as a Marvel Comic Book artist who goes on an insane journey chasing a mysterious ambulance across New York City. Stan even makes several  cameos in it as himself (above). 

After the the Cohen/Stan Lee connection had been established, New World Pictures was seemingly ready to produce a live action She-Hulk movie, shooting for a 1992 release & indeed had Larry attached to direct (and rumored to have written the script). Apparently an attempt was made to attract investors by doing some concept photo shoots for the character with Brigitte Nielsen, who would also be in the role of Jennifer Walters. 

I remember running across these photos in ‘Comics Scene’ magazine way back when and being pretty excited about what the possibilities of this collaboration might produce even if her look and outfit were a bit off in the promo photos. The script is shrouded in mystery and has never really but really had any sort of leaks except that Eric Roberts was to appear as a villain. I can only imagine with Larry Cohen directing we would have gotten something at the very least intriguing and fun. It’s also not certain whether these concept photos were really reflective of the true “final look” of the character. It’s imagined that once production was started on it they would’ve fleshed  out her character design much more & hopefully made her skin tone at least darker green. 

 Whatever the case Brigitte would have filled the role perfectly, The Red Sonja star was a dream cast for the movie. I can only imagine that this ultra campy version of the character might have eventually morphed into a cult classic. The early synopsis promo:                                                         

SHE-HULK (Larry Cohen, 1992). A mild-mannered lawyer (Brigitte Nielsen) receives a life-altering blood-transfusion after being shot by a local mobster (Eric Roberts). As a result, she finds herself transformed into a magical green rage-monster.

Though it sounded promising, they had several cinematic misses under their belt by that time with Howard the Duck, Captain America & The Punisher films all flopping and barely meeting the mark for comic fanatics. However my faith in Larry Cohen as a director and script writer only confirms that this particular project would’ve indeed been something memorable. Brigitte in 1990 was fully fit and definitely ready for the role.

It’s a real shame that never it never happened, I think a She-Hulk movie coming from that era would have been so much fun and I’m so curious where are they would have gone with everything. Even if it had turned out to be one giant ball of gamma radiated cheese it still would’ve been interesting to see a real live action version of the character and given Brigitte a chance to shine like Lou Ferrrigno did in his classic role….

 

 

 

 

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!

‘PREY’ Brings the Goods But Can’t Top ‘PREDATOR 2’!

[OK so it seems everyone is flipping out over the new ‘Predator’ prequel ‘Prey’ just released yesterday on Hulu! Most are claiming it to be the best of the franchise since the original 87′ masterpeice, some even boldly claiming it better than the original. Well I’m here to clear things up because in 1987 Predator was the very first ‘R rated’ movie I ever saw in the theater and I snuck into it at the age of 13!!

At this point I’d pretty much lost any enthusiasm for another Predator movie after 2018’s pathetic sequel ‘The Predator’. However I’m quite happy to report that 2022 has brought us the latest movie in the series, ‘Prey’ and it’s overall a sweet breath of fresh air finally. I’m gonna put it slightly above ‘Predators’ which I thought mixed things up nicely with a unique plot that deviates from the others. Prey goes back to the basics and it essentially works, the time setting of 1719 and the physical setting of the Great Plains combined with its unique Native American tribal characters make for a visually stunning survival adventure. I gotta be honest though, the dialogue of the tribe felt way out of place and took me out of the movie’s supposed era several times, it felt WAY too “modern America”, if like the tribe were actually modern day cosplayers from LA or something. They really could have done better to make them feel a bit more convincing vocally because they looked amazing.

 But one of the best things though was indeed the setting, beautiful locations that of course make me wonder how much of what we saw on screen was actually real or created via CGI? I hope it was filmed on actual location. Whatever the case it really worked in this particular situation, at times rivaling the jungles of the original film. Of course the basic plot set up does feel a bit heavily treaded as of late at least, it features a young, strong female lead who’s marginalized by her male tribe members who believe she doesn’t have what it takes to be a true warrior. However she’s a total badass master hunter, fighter, tracker & her male peers just refuse to accept her. 

The lead, Naru, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is a force to be reckoned with. However when Dutch finally becomes the hunted it’s clear his macho-man antics are simply not going to save his ass from the Predator. Nope, he’s going to have to massively reevaluate everything he’s learned in order to survive the Predator’s attack. I felt Prey lacked much of that visceral tension, urgency and nail biting suspense of the original. Perhaps because Naru seems more than capable of besting The Predator in hand to hand combat right from the get-go. I personally would’ve prefered a bit more character struggle that let the tension rise to its boiling point. I never really feared for Naru’s life at any point in Prey. It could’ve featured her crafting some inventive new tricks to outwit the Predator but instead felt like it lacked the clever hero’s ingenuity humans normally need to come out on top against an alien force. Instead it relies more on her just facing it straight on with hand-to-hand combat. The action scenes were quite well done but I wish there would’ve been a little more to her having to “Macguyver” her way to victory. Given the script though, Amber Midthunder, who portrays Naru, did a great job as our new hero. She’s cool but maybe just a bit too badass at times for me to truly believe that she’s ever in any actual legit danger. Still the whole vibe, time period, dazzling looking characters and her awesome dog companion made this a real welcome surprise when put neatly all together.

I also had some issues with some of the CGI work done with the animals in the movie. It’s a cool concept to see the Predator go one on one with a bear and a wolf but the way it was executed took me out of the movie again as the CGI sadly just wasn’t convincing enough. I also have somewhat of a problem with the Predator’s new look this time around as it was clear there must have been some sort of wonky CGI going on with it’s normally amazing practical animatronic face. Something that cannot be topped from the first 2 movies at least. Still though it managed to breathe some much needed fresh air into a fully dying franchise and at no point in the movie was I ever bored. So all in all I can admit this is a pretty damn solid entry in the franchise, one of the best installments but I can also say quite firmly that imo it’s NOT the best sequel to Predator.

I recently rewatched ‘Predator 2’ on Blu-Ray and it’s aged like a fine wine. Danny Glover is an amazing charismatic lead and the city setting/concrete jungle created a whole new creepy exciting scenario for the brutal carnage. PREY In my opinion doesn’t come close to besting Predator 2. Perhaps if the it was released in the early nineties it might have felt much more fresh than it does now today but sadly the franchise just doesn’t feel anywhere near as interesting as it used to no matter what scenario you might want to introduce.  In many ways the Predator franchise has simply run out a gas.

But if you still find yourself a die hard thirsty fan of the franchise looking for something new, you can’t go wrong with this new installment. It delivers enough of what we loved about the original to make it a worthwhile survival adventure flick! It’s a fairly unique little creature feature that would have been fun if it’d shown up in theaters…or 32 years ago!

80s Stop Motion Mayhem: Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires!

A sad fact for me to admit is that sometimes when I watch a movie at home, all by myself I’m easily tempted to be distracted by my phone while “watching”. Usually it’s a sign that the flick I’m watchin’ just ain’t cutting the damn mustard! It’s probably also a sign of phone addiction, but that’s another depressing topic in itself. So imagine how pleased I was at the first viewing of ‘Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires’, probably my favorite new movie of the last few years hands down, I never even looked at my phone ONCE the entire time!

This one was released overseas in 2018 but just this year hit streaming services. But before I get ahead of myself, a lot might wonder just what the hell is this thing? Well to put it simply it’s probably one of the greatest stop motion animation full length features I’ve ever seen. Easily one of the most unique movies stylistically. There’s literally been nothing quite like it before. It’s essentially a stop motion version of a 1980s action movie / horror/sex comedy hybrid mash up for all you fans of those midnight B-movies of yesteryear! 

Chuck Steel is a full on meat-head, numbskull cop who’s fully proficient with just three things: martial arts, big guns and his big bad attitude. A self proclaimed loner, he pretty much handles every situation with his fists or a gun, a hardened heroic dipshit, losing the only woman he ever loved to an evil ninja crime syndicate of course! 

Chuck’s pretty much able to finagle his way out of any situations with sheer brute force, until an occult menace comes to town, bringing a slew of bizarre creatures called trampires to roam the foggy night streets. He’s soon forced to adopt new buddy cop partners to work with and also teams up with a “Peter Vincent/Fright Night” type old guy vampire slayer to try the rid the city of this supernatural scourge.

Along the way of course we get a ton of insane martial arts brawls, spectacular explosions, car chases, crazy gore & a load of ferocious monsters to feast our eyes upon.

To say this movie is ambitious would be an understatement as this took years to film, building dozens of stunning miniature sets and using all practical puppets to create some of the most breathtaking stop motion animation I’ve ever witnessed.

Everything looks absolutely incredible and this is a literal cult horror b-movie fanatics dream come true! As I understand it the director, Mike Mort, had created the character when he was a teenager and & just now finally bringing the adventure to the big screen and eventually getting a funding of 20 million dollars, and boy does the effort and money show.

I’m honestly quite surprised that this movie hasn’t gotten WAY more attention. It does of course feature some very un-PC humor, nothing incredibly offensive, but definitely the kind of jokes you would hear directly in a classic, raunchy eighties comedy. The character in a nutshell emulates the same type of humor you might expect from Ash in Evil Dead or Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai. 

Perhaps that’s why this one hasn’t garnered major attention so far? I’m perplexed! Whatever the case ‘Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires’ is a true spectacle to behold and a loving tribute to everything that us weirdo movie maniacs appreciate about about the 1980s and the golden era of horror.

Check this out if you’re a fan of B-Movies that drip of over the top characters, action, monsters, martial arts, crude comedy and one liners galore!

Movie Melt Podcast: Bryan Yuzna’s Gory Y2K Spawn Ripoff FAUST!!

YES! U-Dork joined forced with the ‘Movie Melt‘ podcast where we give major coverage to the nearly forgotten Y2K Spawn rip off ‘Faust: Love of the Damned’!

Yes Brian Yuzna who’s helmed some real fucking horror gems, the likes ‘The Bride of  Reanimator’,  ‘Return of the Living Dead 3’ and total horror jam ‘Society’ deserves WAAAY more damn love! Instead of covering those though we decide to go REAL “hardcore Yuzna” and cover one of his most under appreciated films from an era of horror that’s not very widely beloved! The damn year 2000!! Who many consider to be one of the worst years for horror!

This darkly ridiculous superhero horror romp kinda has to be seen to be believed, Jam packed with a full soundtrack of freakin’ nu-metal, hot babez, hunky duderz, over the top gore and cool practical fx monsters!

You’ll learn more about this rad director and this obsurdly charming movie then you ever dreamnt possible.

But that’s not all there’s plenty of ridiculous cinematic junk food covered as in addition to FAUST! The Internet’s most unsuccessful blogger gets real with the cast of Movie Melt and shit gets def! Check out the mayhem right HERE! 

Cult Flicks In Desperate Need of a Blu Ray: 1988’s ‘WATCHERS’!

I’ve been looking at my VHS tapes lately and have been compiling a list of some of my favorite cult horror flicks that for some god forsaken reason have still gone without an official fancy new blu ray release! One of the first movies that comes to mind is one of my all time favorite underrated gems of the late 80s, featuring Corey Haim in the lead role in this nostalgic, yet largely underseen creature feature ‘Watchers’ directed by Jon Hess (Alligator II).

 I definitely consider this to be “prime” Cory Haim and quite frankly the perfect addition to a double feature with ‘The Lost Boys’. In some ways it almost feels like an extension of Haim’s character “Sam Emerson” in The Lost Boys. He’s got his rad eighties fashion, comedic licks and hair dialed up to an 11 and really is perfectly in line with the tone of The Lost Boys. In my opinion at least, it’s a perfect campy 80s creature feature/coming of age adventure featuring teen heart throb Haim on the run with with a canine who possesses human intelligence thats escaped from a secret nearby research facility. If you’re a fan of dogs in leading roles in horror movies this is definitely a gem!

What are they on the run from? Well, Michael Ironside and a savage mutant beast dead set on reuniting with the dog and literally destroying anything in its path of course! To put this in a nutshell, this flick is the epitome of what a series like Stranger Things is trying to desperately replicate. The Watchers is the real deal & it’s naturally got the authentic 80s “kids in danger” charm down perfectly to a T. Like an R-rated Amblin production.

 I actually also really dig the special effects on display here, there’s some cool gore and also a pretty sweet realistic, yet slightly stupid looking savage hairy monster! I really don’t mean that to be a negative either, I like the monster, he just looks kinda like a moron!

A very realistic stupid looking monster, hey I’ll take that any day of the damn week! This movie was based on a Dean Koontz novel and spawned several sequels. My second favorite of them is 1998’s ‘Watchers Reborn’ the 4th installment which features Mark Hamill in the leading role. I’d love to see all of the sequels get a Blu-ray release as well and hoping that someone like Vinegar Syndrome or Shout Factory can grab this and give it some new gas in it’s tank.

It was released on VHS and also an out of print combo DVD with the sequel that features “Beastmaster” Mark Singer included which is very hard to find now. So all kick ass blu ray labels out there take notice, The Watchers is the perfect movie to get into the grimy hands of some hungry horror hounds and ripe for the picken!

The Craziest Movie Subtitles of ALL Time!

So for New Years this year I rewatched 1999’s ‘The Last Ghost Standing’. A totally bonkers Hong-Kong horror movie that takes place on New Year’s Eve. If you ever get the chance to check it out I highly recommend it, especially if you like movies like Evil Dead 2, it will not disappoint! Once again I had to freeze frame it and officially document this bizarre subtitle!!  This easily makes the list of the craziest subtitles of all time..

WTF New Years Eve Hong Kong 90s Horror Gem: ‘Last Ghost Standing’!

Wild and weird New Years flicks are not easy to come by. But god damn do I have one of the most WTF movies taking place on New Years Eve you will ever see to recommend! ‘Last Ghost Standing’ from 1999 is essentially a night in the life of a young couple on a New Year’s Eve date to a creepy theater that’s showing it’s very final picture before closing forever…

 It doesn’t take long however for things to get downright dirty, spooky and simultaneously zany when evil forces from the netherworld descend from from the depths of hell to kill everyone who has purchased a ticket to the final show at the theater. Basically a mix of ‘Demons’ and ‘Evil Dead 2’ with even more senseless comedy and insane goopy antics. Yes, this one dials the idiotic insanity up to 11 with a barely cohesive story holding this creature together by the withering tendons. I’d make sure you’re a few drinks in or stoned outta your gord before checking this one out on New Year’s Eve. You’ve been warned!

It’s jam packed with awesome cheap-o B-movie fx & gross out moments a’ plenty.  Particularly a scene where a group of wild raver teens are attacked by a disgusting toilet poop monster in the restroom.  Barely any of this late nineties gem makes a lick of sense either, I think it’s all there just to give our eyes a visual feast  & at the same time make you lose a brain cell or two just from watching.

Things get so out of control in the theater that they eventually have to call in a mock Jackie Chan type character with a fake prosthetic nose to come and try to settle the supernatural score with the demons. The funny thing is it would appear that the demonic forces in this movie aren’t fully satisfied with the state of modern cinema at the time and are ready to rip it’s existence entirely from our world.  The essential reason for their attack on the patrons.

If you’re a horror fanatic and looking for something truly bizarre on New Year’s Eve today, this is definitely going to deliver the goods right to your damn doorstep. It’s silly, gross and a lot of frenetic fun & I can certainly guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it before! Happy 2022!!