Tagged: practical effects

The MOVIE MELT Podcast Gets Educated at GHOUL SCHOOL?!

It’s finally time to go BACK to school, but not with Rodney Dangerfield, with the MOVIE MELT Podcast. You bet! I went back on to discuss the low budget 1990 horror comedy GHOUL SCHOOL! This nearly forgotten movie fetches a pretty penny on eBay for a VHS copy and is known by cult movie fanatics as a boner-fide classic. So does Ghoul School desperately need a fancy-ass blu ray release? Or should it stay forever encased in a moldy VHS tape?!

That being said how fun is it really to go back to Ghoul School? Is it as sexy as the cover might suggest? Or is it far more terrifying than you might suspect? You can really learn a lot from this one I tell ya!

Perhaps when you attend Ghoul School you actually end more stupid when you finally graduate? Here’s sweet teaser you’ve got to check out, a fundraiser for the movie from way back when that we discuss on THIS episode! Could the teaser be more satisfying than the real thing? Hmmmm….

 

Well we’ve got the scoop and all the useless details about this weird little punk rock low brow horror oddity as well as a school related battle of the bands and lots of senseless movie talk about what you might be wanting to watch if you’re a cinematic super freak! Check out the latest episode HERE!

KIDS vs. ALIENS: If “Goosebumps” was Rated R!

I’ve been looking forward to Jason Eisener’s ‘Kid’s vs. Aliens’ since I heard the ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ director was making a feature length film based on his awesome short horror segment in V/H/S/ 2. Granted it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, I remember really digging the concept and execution of it.

The simple premise of this movie is so right up my alley it feels like it almost was tailor made just for me. In a nutshell some kids have a Halloween party that goes off the rails when evil aliens descend upon their lakeside household. The alien visitors for the most part resemble our traditional “Greys”, which I find to be one of the most terrifying creatures of the more modern era. I guess though they’d be more in line with what we saw in 2014’s ‘Extraterrestrial’ though (minus the CGI) than say the brilliantly bizarre 1989 Whitley Strieber biopic ‘Communion’. That being said, you’ve gotta admire how ambitious this movie is with all of its practical effects work and not a shred of CGI really anywhere to be found. Add in a lean run time of around 75 minutes (68 of them actual movie time) and you’ve got a nice, fast paced horror adventure at the ready. 

Plus the main kid protagonists of this movie are also quite charming for the most part. None of them get bogged down in modern online politics or social commentary, they’re just kids in danger with wildly filthy mouths being….kids. In essence they’re a fairly solid attempt of mixing the kids in Stand By Me with The Goonies. I’d say for the first 3rd of the movie I was pretty sure this might end up being one of my favorite horror films of 2023. It’s got a lot of heart at its core as well (maybe trying a bit too hard at times) and characters who you can for the most part get behind on this weird little ride.

However with ALL of that going for it, still there’s something here that in my opinion just didn’t quite click the way it should’ve. That’s not to say this isn’t a fun little movie, becuz it is. It just misses the mark at being a modern horror classic, maybe because they’re trying just a bit too hard at mostly everything they attempt to sell the audience. It’s same problems I had at times with 2013’s ‘Knights of Badassdom’ a movie which I do admittedly still enjoy quite a bit.

I guess I would say what it does succeed at being is a pretty excellent R-rated “Goosebumps” movie. In many ways, even the way it’s filmed looks a little bit like a vintage Goosebumps episode for better or for worse at times. I guess my problem was maybe my personal expectations weren’t quite met in the way I’d initially hoped for. Though this movie in many ways borrows heavily from the likes of classics like Fire In The Sky, it really lacks the intensity, atmosphere and mystery that could have pulled from it, even if just a little bit of it. The aliens In my opinion are shown way too much in plain sight. All of the things that make grey aliens so terrifying is completely absent here, they run around roaring like enraged grizzly bears. 

The aliens also look a bit too much like men in rubber suits, which I usually don’t mind, but easily hiding them a bit more might have benefited this greatly. More of the monsters isn’t always better. Overall though I do appreciate the almost entirely practical nature of this film’s special effects. It’s refreshing to see filmmakers getting a bit more old school these days!

Though the characters for the most part are fun wonky children, they do try a bit too hard to sell us that on all levels. Much of the character development feels a bit forced. The kids and their antagonist teen enemies end up being somewhat over the top caricatures and don’t always feel like “real’ people. The kids are NERDS, the older teen sister-hero is a NERD and the teens are really reeeeally meanies who don’t like NERDS. By the middle of the movie I found myself wishing their personas had been toned down. They started to feel like they were written by the “modern day Kevin Smith” or something. Ok, well maybe not that bad. Instead of growing to like them more as the movie progressed, I found myself becoming slightly annoyed with everyone’s behaviors and actions even if they were good in nature. 

Looking at it now though with zero expectations, it’s still one I do plan on revisiting again. It’s got plenty of action and really does try to feature a cast of heartwarming lead characters and pathetically almost unbelievably evil teen villains to you are basically told to hate anytime they appear. It also takes place on Halloween and makes it prime viewing for the holiday. There’s a lot of good here so don’t get me wrong, I just feel like someone needs to put together an amazing home invasion Grey alien horror film and do it the right way. In the perfect world I was hoping this would be a mix of 1989’s Communion and maybe like Evil Dead. (here’s a still photo  from Communion).

Instead it leans hard into the campy territory and doesn’t skimp on some impressive Gore FX either. Perhaps it’s really my own expectations that took this down a few pegs for myself, with all the crappy stuff out there streaming I do think there’s a lot of fun to be had. Check this one out, it’s worth a rental, but don’t go in expecting it to be quite as cool as his segment was in V/H/S 2. Still thank you Jason for adding an entertaining alien invasion flick to the cinematic horror library!

 

 

 

Bizarre Holiday Viewing from New Zealand: 1981’s The MONSTER’S CHRISTMAS!

OK Are you reeeeeally looking for something to watch that’s truly off the beaten path to this holiday season?! Look no further, the 1981 lost classic ‘The Monster’s Christmas’ all the way from New Zealand will stuff your stocking with some truly bizarre yuletide treats!

 This is a genuine bonafide oddball all the way from New Zealand that sort of feels like a fucked up version of HR Pufnstuf. The monster’s Christmas features some pretty genuinely impressive fully disturbing creatures for a kid’s Christmas special. I mean take a look at this guy hes one of the most frightening things I’ve seen probably in the last decade! 

 That’s “Mr. Nasty” the creepiest henchman of an “evil” witch who is obsessed with exercising, who lives inside of a mountain deep within a beautiful natural cavern. But I guess I’m jumping ahead little too quickly here. Our story starts out on Christmas Eve with the cutest little New Zealander you’ve ever seen, who just happens to be reading a book called ‘The Monster’s Christmas’ to her Teddy bear before bed. If this is a real book, I need to find a copy ASAP!

However it doesn’t take long before she’s awoken by a noise in her living room and instead of finding Santa there’s a giant green cyclops monster with a smokestack on the top of his noggin and some sort of creepy floral oozin’ eye. She agrees to help him out with the evil wicked witch who threatens the monsters world. The little girl quickly decides to go on a bizarre little adventure that ends up being almost like a travel video to some spectacular New Zealand locales that masquerade quite nicely for the monsters world. Only one thing, she’s got to get home by Christmas day!

 This is probably one of my favorite new discoveries especially for Christmas viewing in 2022. Filled with some beautiful locations, a wondrerful main character and even a few charming little songs thrown in for good measure. But let’s be honest here it’s mostly about the freaky ass monsters presented on screen! They’re all pretty awesome and it’s a crime this little holiday special doesn’t have a HUGE cult following. I think it’s ripe for a fancy ass blu ray release – Vinegar Syndrome are you game or WHAT?

Ok so as I mentioned before Mr. Nasty is one creepy character, he’s some sort of strange hybrid of a human, a mole and a bat. He is a truly terrifying creation but he’s completely loyal to the wicked witch, who by the way has her own complete personal gym inside of her cave! And believe me she gets some great use out of it!

She’s quite charming as she spends most of her free time trying to get fit and is dressed to the nines in regal 1980s aerobic garb! Pretty much everything about this little 45 minute feature is utterly bizarre and hits all of the right beats to make something truly obscure that is an absolute must add to your Christmas viewing! I’d say this one’s perfect for the kids although Mr. Nasty, be warned is quite the embodiment of a living breathing nightmare. He sorta steals the show..

If you’re a fan of obscure bizarre yuletide viewing I highly recommend tracking The Monster’s Chtistmas down and watching it this year. I just found a full version of it is available now on YouTube or you can add it to your collection by getting the dvd which I highly recommend. If anyone has an extra copy of the VHS please send me one!  Oh yeah, thank you New Zealand!

 

 

Bizzaro Lost 90’s Christmas Flick: FANTASTIC GAMES is a Holiday Fever Dream!

Are you looking for something truly bizarre to watch this holiday season? Well you’ve definitely come to the right damn place, as I recently ran across a movie from 1998 that takes place on Christmas Eve and is just about as wildly perplexing and insane as they come!

‘Fantastic Games’ is a movie that’s passed through the years almost completely unwatched by anyone, save for a few die hards of weird-o cinema on Letterboxd! Director Alvaro Passeri crafted a cool little practical effects heavy monster flick from 1994 called ‘Creatures from the Abyss‘ AKA ‘Plankton’ that much like ‘Fantastic Games’ has also gone many years oddly without a cult following, it’s a pretty fun stupid little practical fx heavy creature feature that deserves a much wider audience in my opinion.

Fantastic Games (which is only available to watch on YouTube for some reason) revolves around a family during a snowy Christmas Eve trying to take care of their sick daughter. Her father on top of it all is missing, trapped out in the cold winter night somewhere and a weird family “friend” pops in during the snow storm with some clearly ulterior motives.

Her brother insists on reading her a crazy colorfully cosmic adventure story from a strange book that materializes on screen in all of it’s wacky epic glory & barely makes a lick of freakin’ sense. About 15  Minutes into this movie I didn’t know what the flying fuck was going on! However it’s such a delicious visual treat to lay your eyes upon it really doesn’t matter. Basically it involves a teenage girl who flies on a surfboard through space with her dog companion Toby. Sort of mirroring a “Dorothy and Toto” type a trope.

She gets mixed up in some sort of “live action” video game I guess you could refer to it as a “fantastic game” set forth by some weird ornery horned alien villain with a shiny plate glass face who loves to yell at people any chance he gets.

I’m guessing it’s trying to replicate the magic of ‘The Neverending Story’, to intensely up the ante with its cadre of creatures, satanic skeleton filled caverns, creepy puppet faced space wizards and just about any reason to display some sort of fever-dreamlike special fx sequence.

The amount of effort the director must have put in to this truly inventive yet incredibly incoherent little visual feast is really quite ambitious. Viewing this for the 1st time left me scratching my head on just how this strange psychotronic nineties oddity has passed everyone by for so many years without a peep from genre fanatics. 

I’d say this one’s in desperate need of a blu ray restoration and a big modern day cult following. It’s the type of movie you wanna watch with a gang of cinema junkies & plenty of merry drinks during the holidays!  It features more than enough Christmas visuals too to qualify as a bonafide holiday gem.

However it’s easily one of the most perplexing and confusing pieces of cinema I viewed in some time. Get ready to behold some weird shit, like the meek little dog companion Tony extinguish a raging fire in the pits of hell with his own pee! All bets are off on how these two are gonna survive and further to the finish line of the sinister “Fantastic” game. The events that happen in this creepy world also seem to be mirroring the fever of the sick girl and troubling family events on Christmas Eve.

It’s a pretty interesting to watch how this all unfolds- even though it doesn’t make really sense.  Imagine a sort of D-list Terry Gilliam style wacko cinescape that thrives to be bigger and more boisterous visually but plotwise more incohesive while not giving a damn. Director Alvaro Passeri is either a madman or a incredibly underrated visionary waiting for a legion of fans who salivate for something straight out of a nightmare.

Check out his website and you tell me that this guy isn’t perhaps a secret genius: He’s clearly a master of practical effects and an inventor of some of the weirdest shit I’ve seen in a long time, check this out if you doubt me:

Clearly a Renaissance man of bizarre proportions, I see good things on the horizon for Paserri once word finally gets out about his unique secret cinematic achievements and oddball inventions. So this Christmas season why don’t you take a trippy trip into his strange holiday nightmare world of Fantastic Games. You can watch the whole movie right here! 

 

 

 

‘MANDY’ Director Finally Returns With More WTF Horror in ‘THE VIEWING’!

I’ve been waiting quite some time for Panos Cosmatos to follow up his dark epic adventure film ‘Mandy’ & to my surprise he did so late October. I guess I’m late to the damn party on it as I really don’t watch much streaming content on Netflix anymore, for me personally most of the stuff on the platform just doesn’t cut it. Most of it feels like factory filmmaking, but I was pleasantly surprised to check out Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ there and come to find an episode of his new horror anthology called ‘The Viewing’ fresh from the director of ‘Mandy’ and ‘Black Rainbow’!!

 I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure just what to expect but this bizarre episode packs a punch with its finale and along the way manages to blend in some great humor and the cast of interesting characters to keep this mysterious story moving quickly with intrigue. It’s an interesting plot too, taking place in 1979, with icon Peter Weller (Robocop) playing an elusive billionaire who invites several TV personalities to his bizarre mansion for a “viewing” of something seemingly otherworldly.

Cosmatos constructs a genuinely humorous character study as the drug fueled gathering slowly transitions into utter chaos by its end. I really enjoyed this episode, it definitely had the signature “Panos” feel to it, at least visually and sonically. It really has that same dreamlike quality as his previous two features and the score again here with The Viewing is something I’d definitely listen too in my spare time.

It’s rich atmosphere is full of color and visually abstract in all the best weirdest ways possible. I was a bit surprised with the humorous tone presented, which sticks around right till the very end, leading me to be extra curious about what his next film ‘Nekrokosm’ might bring to the table. Take note though, it’s not all fun and games, when the shit finally does hit the fan (which does sorta take a little longer than I’d hoped) we’re treated to some legit WTF moments of monster mayhem and headscratching horror in the way Panos most definitely excels at.

The FX here too are quite impressive, as I’d hoped and kinda expected them to be. It’s clear that The Viewing rises above the rest of the flock as a all too welcome walk into the mind of one of the genres most creative visionaries. I can WAIT to feast my eyes and mind upon his next full feature film…if you dug ‘Mandy’ go check this shit out!

Stephen King Presents: William Hurt vs Pissed Off Toy Soldiers!

I just checked out a crazy fun episode of the 2006 Stephen King series ‘Nightmares and Dreamscapes”.The very first episode “Battleground” is a blast, LITERALLY!  It seems this series went under the radar of most horror fans, probably because the rest of the episodes are pretty mediocre  adaptations of some of Stephen King’s short stories of the same name. 

Battleground starring William Hurt though is quite the exception to say the least. Directed by Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson) it of course features some pretty SPECIAL fx work. The premise of the story makes perfect sense to for Henson to be at the helm here and this almost demented “Small Soldiers” style story is a sweet little bloody brawl that’s enthralling to watch unfold.

William Hurt (R.I.P. who doesn’t speak a word in the entire episode) plays a cunning hitman who’s hired to take out the brainy CEO of a prominent toy corporation. It seems like a slam, dunk easy job and he heads home to his lavish high rise apartment after doing the dirty little deed. However it doesn’t take long for strange things to begin happening when he receives a mysterious package delivered to him. 

Come to find out it’s filled with a shit load of toy soldiers as well as toy army tanks, planes, helicopters and jeeps. He doesn’t think much of it until he is viciously attacked as the toys aggressively come to life with one goal: to destroy this giant assassin!

What transpires is a pretty intense and bloody battle between a full grown assassin and a vicious toy battalion in Hurt’s fancy highrise and it’s one helluva spectacle. It even harkens back to such classics as the Trilogy of Terror’s Zuni fetish warrior doll and the classic King horror anthology, Cat’s Eye! 

 Brian Henson also does sn excellent job here directing, creating truly tense thrills and some really inventive special effects using very minimal CGI and mostly real human beings to create some truly stunning action sequences with the toys. There’s a great little special effects featurette on the DVD that shows how he brought this gruesome little minature war to life.

Hurt also does a really great job as the silent assassin, who relies on all of his expertise to try and survive the encounter. You really get a sense that he has finally met his match, wasting no time trying to figure out why or how this is happening and just simply focuses on how to exterminate the enemy. I highly recommend checking this wildly unique little episode down as it certainly packs a wallop!  Thankfully someone has posted it right on YouTube:

 

 

 

‘Perversions of Science’ the Forgotten Tales from the Crypt Sequel Series?!

Tales from the Crypt is easily hands down one of the greatest horror television shows of all time and what a great time of the year to revisit your favorite episodes! Well this year I put together a cool VHS horror anthology that’s all Halloween themed, in fact this is my sequel, as I made the 1st installment last year. To put this thing together I did a lot of research on Halloween themed horror short films from the eighties and nineties, Halloween themed horror TV episodes (no sitcoms) and of course installments of movie horror anthologies that all revolve around the Season of the Witch.

Finding the goods is actually a lot harder than you might think, but my Halloween research led me to a 1997 series called ‘Perversions of Science’ that has a pretty sweet Halloween episode directed by horror icon Tobe Hooper! But just what the fuck is ‘Perversions of Science’ anyway?

 Well news to me, it’s the “sequel series” to Tales from the Crypt and involves the same creative team, with music by Danny Elfman. Instead of the Crypt Keeper this time we get a futuristic sexy sultry computer generated robot woman as our host. Where the hell has this been my entire life and why am I just finding it about it all right now?!

Well from what I understand it definitely wasn’t the most popular series of its time and only ran for ONE season. Though many of the episodes have strong horror elements, it’s primarily a science fiction based show. I don’t claim to be any expert on this as I’ve only seen one episode, but the one I did see was definitely good enough to make me hella curious on hunting down the rest. But since it’s so close to Halloween I might as well talk a little bit about the Halloween themed episode of that’s leading me down this Perversion rabbit hole.

The episode ‘Panic’ takes place on Halloween night at a costume party, where two real life aliens from another planet are disguising themselves and eagerly awaiting orders from their leader to launch an attack on the human race. However unbeknownst to them a “war of the worlds” type radio broadcast is on the airwaves that evening and they mistake it as a real world news event. This leads the evil aliens played by Jason Lee & Jamie Kennedy (oh soooooo damn 90s!!!) into a bizarre series of earthly events on All Hallow’s Eve.

There’s some pretty cool practical effects here that definitely harken back to the good old days of Tales from the Crypt but of course there’s also some rather dodgy nineties cgi as well. That all being said I’d love to get my hands on a nice clean copy of the show as it looks like it’s got a lot of potential.

But there’s never been physical version of this thing ever released to my knowledge besides it’s original airing, no DVD’s VHS or blu rays out there that I’ve been able to track down and not streaming anywhere.

With directors like Tobe Hooper, William Shatner (?) and stars like Jeffrey Combs, Ron Perlman, Sean Astin, Will Wheaton this 10 episode series is on my ASAP must see list!!  Have you seen this forgotten television series? Let me know! Ps here are my VHS tapes I made:

3 MUST See 80s Halloween GEMS from ‘Tales From The Darkside’!

Ok it’s ON!! Halloween time viewing is in FULL effect here at U-Dork so naturally we’ve gotta get our groove on with some often forgotten gems of Halloween that are an absolute essential watch- Especially if you’re a big fan of eighties horror! One of my favorite shows of that era, the brilliant horror anthology TV series Tales from the Darkside!

This 4 season series contains 3 of my all time favorite Halloween horror stories &  they’re so well done that if you put all of them together in a film anthology with a wrap-around plot line it’d make for probably one the best Halloween themed movies of the 1980s! So find these streaming this year or go do yourself a favor and buy the whole collection on dvd. Make sure though to bookmark these 3 this year and watch them all in a row.

First up ‘The Cutty Black Sow’ from Season 4 (1988).

This is easily gotta be one of the most terrifying episodes of of the series & also one of the strangest titles to boot. During Halloween a family is hit with the tragic death of a beloved grandmother. Just before she passes though she relays a cryptic warning to one of the children to beware of ‘the cutty black sow’ on All Hallows Eve, an evil demonic creature that seeks harm to the family and steal souls. This episode is filled with the sense of dread as a thick impending doom oozes through Halloween night air & the children wonder if their great grandmother’s warning is indeed one to be taken seriously. A creepy taut Halloween gem with a horrifying ending!

Second is ‘Halloween Candy’ from Season 2, (1985)

 Again one of the best episodes of the series hands down and directed by make up wizard/horror icon Tom Savini! This tale features a grumpy old man who absolutely loathes the Halloween season and more-so those pesky trick or treaters. However this Halloween he gets WAY more than he bargained for when an evil troll comes to his door asking for Halloween candy! This little monster is an absolute delight to behold, It’s clear that Savini has his FX work cut out for him as it’s one of the coolest little troll/goblin like creatures to hit the big or small screen. It’s also an incredibly creepy Halloween themed slice of horror, with a bit of a moral lesson at it’s core. It’s best not to be an asshole on All Hallows Eve especially if you live alone on a dark street & a weird trick-or-treater shows up in the dead of night. Filled with tense atmosphere and crafted by an icon, it’s no wonder this episode is a such TREAT!

Lastly is the very 1st episode of the entire series ‘Trick-or-Treat’ (1984) and in my opinion probably the best of the entire series altogether.

Co-written by George Romero and directed by well known actor Bob Balaban who also directed the 1989 cult horror film ‘Parents’, they give us a truly wicked Halloween adventure! A greedy old scrooge like miser basically runs a small town where everyone seems to be suffering and in debt to him. Every Halloween he opens the doors to his house of horrors where he geefully sits at a control booth, triggering terrifying sounds, traps & puppeteering animatronic creatures rigged to scare small children. This isn’t done to entertain the kids, it’s however a challenge to the smalltown children to search for the debts of their parents. If they find them, their families are forgiven of their monetary burdens. The old codger takes way too much sadistic pleasure in terrorizing the kids which makes this episode truly grim and unforgettable. He loves Halloween but for all the wrong reasons. Luckily in a turn of events he himself is faced with true terror and all bets are off this Halloween! Filled with incredible iconic horror imagery, thrills, heart and some amazing practical effects work this is the absolute standout must see episode of the series! It would also be the perfect finale for a Halloween horror anthology-This year don’t sleep on these episodes they’re essential viewing every damn year for one of the greatest holidays of all time!!

 

 

Humans & Mushrooms MERGE in MATANGO!

Hey fungi enthusiasts! If you’re looking for something truly stange & spooky to check out this Halloween season (and I know you are) then look no further- It’s time to take a trip of the sea shores of Japan to an uncharted incredibly creepy deserted island in 1963’s psychotronic horror: Mantango! I’m going to admit I haven’t really explored a lot of 1960s horror especially from Japan. However I’m a huge sucker for “stranded on an island” movie concepts and this one looked like it hit all the right beats from the trailer I saw. Essentially it’s like a demented episode of Gilligan’s island and much of the movie actually does actually kinda feel just like it, in all the best ways.

Visionary director Ishiro Honda paints an incredibly atmospheric nightmare landscape on the open sea, with a band of tourists on a fancy yacht who find themselves in the midst of a violent sea storm. Tired and hungry they take refuge on on a mysterious exotic tropical island infested with strange colorful mushrooms. There’s something extremely unsettling yet whimsical about the whole endeavor as the crew struggles to get along and and also find food that’s safe to eat there.

The most of the characters here I found to be a bit on the bland side, but it really doesn’t matter much because the beautiful bizarre portrait on display here of the island itself ends up as the true star of the entire show. The quietness of the foggy remote island lends much to the impending dread in the thick air as soon our cast of characters find themselves with hungry bellies, drawn to consume the beautiful fungi. It’s like they’ve spent the week in the garden of Adam-and-Eve but instead of colorful fruits instead enticed by mind altering fungus!

Matango is somewhat of a slow burn, but it’s a really fun “trip” right from the get go. All of the set pieces from the on the ship and especially the island are truly a spectacle to behold. It really makes me miss real practical sets, as many of the movies now in the fantasy genre just resort to bad CGI green screen backdrops. Being made in 1963, everything has that special  earthy but put together carefully by hand look to it of that era, looking like some high budget theme park attraction, blanketed in roaming fogs.

There’s also some some legitimately creepy visuals to behold, every bit of Matango’s landscape looks like at any moment could come alive and grab you. As the tourists become more restless and frustrated it’s clear something sinister has taken hold of their psyche. And while the movie secondary moniker is ‘Attack of the Mushroom People’ I would say that’s a bit of a stretch here. There’s really Not a helluva of a lot of “attacking” going on until maybe the movie’s final 10 minutes, but it’s definitely worth the wait once the mushroom people do arrive.

Even by today’s standards these creatures look quite incredible, feeling like something materilized from a strange fever dream. Matango has definitely peaked my interest in Japanese movies from this era, this is a cool little mind bending bit of eye candy that’s that is most definitely worth a watch this Halloween season if you’re in the mood for something truly unique! I got it on blu ray recently from Far East Flix!

 

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!