Tagged: practical effects

Movie Review: ‘Sweet Home’ A Lost 80’s Japanese Ghost of a Gem!

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).

Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.

It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.

From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!  

 

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5 Upcoming Movies You Gotta Be Pumped For!!

Dammit! This was a weak ass summer for movies wasn’t it? Well at least “IT” is now in theaters!! Well I’ve been thinking about some cool movies that look like they’ll be redemption for a rather underwhelming summer of Hollywood Sludge! Here’s five new upcoming movies to be excited about!

 

5. Dave Made a Maze (Out Now)

Here’s a truly unique looking movie about a dude named Dave who decides to build a maze in his living room out of cardboard as an art project. The maze ends up having magical properties to it and soon Dave ends up totally lost within. Good thing his friends come to the rescue only to find an insane world inside filled with pitfalls, magic & monsters all made out of cardboard!! Looks like damn good time…  

 

4. Insidious: The Last Key (January 5th, 2018) 

Insidious is one of my favorite modern horror franchises, I dig all three previous movies and Lin Shaye’s character has become the centerpiece for them. I especailly love her in the role of master ‘astral projector’ Elise as she’s off again on another ‘out of body journey’ into the mysterious dimension called ‘the further’ to battle another evil spirit. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while! 

 

3. Early Man (January 26th, 2018)

I’m stoked for this new one from ‘Wallace and Gromit’ creator Nick Park! His movies pretty much always hit a surefire home run and this one looks to be on the same path. It looks like some crazy cave men will doing battle against the lords of the bronze age as they fight to save their city from an evil lord. Always a fan of the incredible stop motion adventures of Park and crew this one is sure to continue the the laugh & charms of his previous movies-sign me up!

 

2. Cult of Chucky (Oct. 3rd, 2017)

October just can’t come quick enough! That last ‘Chucky’ flick proved Don Mancini has still totally got the chops and then some. Fuck the whole Child’s Play remake idea, Mancini is showing all these classic horror franchises being remade lately that you can continue an original story and give the fans EXACTLY what they want! Picking up where ‘Curse of Chucky’ left off this one boasts the return of Andy Barclay (the little kid from the first two movies), played by original actor Alex Vincent who’s looking to end Chucky’s evil reign once and for all! Bring it on!!

 

 

1. The Terror of Hallow’s Eve (2017)

Here’s a cool spooky looking horror movie that looks like it’s workin’ with all the right ingredients. This follows a special fx obsessed teenager who’s brutally beaten up by bullies at his high school and makes a wish to get revenge upon them all while carving some sort of freaky magic pumpkin. It releases some sort of evil genie who gladly promises to do it for him! Set back in the 80’s I’ve heard this movie is a ton of fun filled with cool practical fx and a boatload o’ monsters!

Forgotten Movie Gems: ‘The Kindred’ Delivers That 80’s Monster Magic!

I’m always on the lookout for forgotten movie gems!! So I revisited a little creature feature called ‘The Kindred’ I’d seen waaaay back in the late 80’s and oddly never heard a peep about since. I came across the image of it’s excellent movie poster online and decided to track it down again. This one to my surprise, is one of those movies that was for some reason only released on VHS, so finding a copy was a little challenge at first. You might be able to check it out on Youtube, but I always try and avoid that if possible because the picture usually ends up a bit more blurry & pixelated.

Well turns out that this is a flick that really deserves far more love and could benefit greatly from official “cleaned up” release on dvd as the vhs transfer is pretty dark and muddy at times. But what we’ve got here is one heckuva solid monster movie from 1987 that’s largely influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. By the time I got to watching it I was a bit stoned so the plot was slightly confusing at first. Luckily that didn’t mean shit as the movie starts out with a bang and is full of plenty of awesome gruesome visuals throughout. Swift pacing can be a big problem with a lot of horror movies from the 80’s and The Kindred luckily moves along a pretty brisk pace.

Basically it’s about a guy who discovers upon his mother’s deathbed that he’s got a long lost brother named ‘Anthony’. Only problem is Anthony is small mutant monster who’s living a secluded lab, being experimented on by mad scientists. The guy goes on a quest to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of his ol’ lost bro Anthony and he gets a lot more than he bargains for. Because of course when he finds him it’s not your average family reunion full of hugs and kisses. As the mystery cleverly unfolds it’s clear Anthony isn’t your typical sibling. Nope, things get weird quick, people transform into mutant fish human hybrids and start turning up dead. I really enjoyed how towards the last 30 minutes the movie’s tone shifts & it suddenly becomes a full on “trapped in house with a monster fight for survival”.

Yep, Anthony escapes from the lab and mutates into a giant monster. The movie has got some awesome tentacled monsters, great practical fx work & an surprisingly intriguing story at it’s core. It also moves along without ever becoming a bore and when the shit hits the fan it’s a nice gory action packed spectacle to behold. I’d really love to see a cleaned up version of this movie on dvd to really appreciate the fx work that went into it, hoping Scream Factory or some releases this in the near future, I’ll be down for another viewing! If you love great monster movies of the 1980’s this one definitely worth tracking down!

Forgotten Movie Gems: 80’s High School Zombie Bullies Rule in ‘Night Life’!

Been a movie watchin’ fiend lately & luckily most of the flicks, most of which I’d call largely forgotten cinema, have been surprisingly damn good! So listen up I’m gonna throw a bunch of short reviews for some films that are worth the trouble to track down if like me you’re looking for some lost gems! Let’s get on with this shit today we’ve got some great what I like to coin ‘John Hughes Horror’ in…

Night Life (1989)

First up let it be known this cool ass little movie was never officially released on dvd so it’s a tuff one to track down. You can hunt down a copy on vhs or like I did buy a bootleg copy of it on dvd from Ioffer.com, a great site for stuff like this. Anyway I wanna start off saying that this movie has Scott Grimes, that red headed kid from Critters 1&2 so it instantly had me there as I love those two movies. It’s essentially an 80’s teen high school bully movie with zombies. Scott Grimes or “Archie” in the movie, who channels a bit of Michael J. Fox, works at a mortuary for his jerky uncle (John Astin) and is bullied by four assholes (two preppy jock-y couples) from his school. Turns out he’s totally infatuated with one of the girls and the bullies quickly devise a plan to set him up on a “date” that ultimately destroys him teenage life. He’s also got an older lady pal, a cute local mechanic that he hangs out with all the time that he’s also crushed out on, who’s clearly put him in the friend zone. Ahh to be a teenager again…

Well one day those same four prepster bullies meet their demise in a horrible car crash, and of course Archie has to take them back to the mortuary. It seems though he’s in high school he accompanies the police to crimes scenes and is oddly in charge of the “dirty work” of dealing with the dead, I guess that shit flew back in the 80’s huh? Only problem is the four assholes become zombies when a bolt of lightning strikes the roof of the mortuary, something clearly foreshadowed earlier when a dead frog’s legs twitch when given an electrical charge by his science teacher. The nice thing here is these Zombies aren’t your mindless walkers, they’re more ruthless, cunning & have one clear driving their every move: to turn Archie into mince meat!! This begins a totally outrageous game of cat and mouse that plays out like a great extended episode of Tales From The Crypt in the best way.

The movie’s got a light hearted feel to it but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty when it needs to either. The zombie bullies use their newly acquired blood lust to carry out some pretty inventive on screen kills too. This may not be a traditional zombie apocalypse flick, but it’s one of the most unique and who needs more of the apocalypse anyway. Even in the 80’s that shit was overdone. Even way back in 89′ Tony Timpone of Fangoria praised it “the most original, off-beat & entertaining zombie films in years, a must see!”. I gotta agree it’s a ton of fun, has great stunts, cool fx, gore, rad looking zombies, sets & characters. Pretty much everything I love about the 80’s all wrapped into one. This one deserves an official release it’s definitely a lost gem. I’m pretty floored at how this movie doesn’t have more love these days, hopefully someone will clean it up and give it a proper release if you’re a fan of 80’s horror and those John Hughs-esque flick of that era you’ll find a lot here to love!! One last interesting tidbit here is that director David Acomba was one the two directors responsible for the infamously bad 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special!! But hey don’t hold that against him!!

VHS Verdict: The Monkey-less ‘BLUE MONKEY’ from 1987!

So I recently found a copy of an 80’s monster movie I’d been trying to track down for years- Blue Monkey from 1987. One thing I totally dig is an awesome or even badly entertaining 80’s horror flick and with this one I was certain I’d found either a lost gem or at the very least a full on golden turd!! Well it turns out I was quite wrong on both guesses, after years of waiting I was quite disappointed to find out Blue Monkey is neither, but rather a total snooze fest that’s bound to put the kibosh on any movie nite party!!

The funny thing is for the first half hour this one delivers some serious promise, that’s the sad thing because after a strong opening you’re so damn sure this movie is going to deliver the goods and then some that it’s tough to give up on it! The basic premise is someone gets bit by a weird bug in an exotic greenhouse that causes big slug like parasites to emerge from the hosts mouth. When the person is taken to the hospital that’s when the “mayhem” begins and then quickly peters out into a movie that feels far, FAR longer than it’s 97 minute run time!! Yeah the first half hour has some cool gross out fx and even introduces us to a young Sarah Polley!

 Aside from that there’s not much else to report, the rest of the movie features a shit ton of boring ass scenes of people walking around dark hallways and talking about a ton of shit my brain wasn’t willing to absorb. I watched this at a movie nite on a projector and as I looked around the room it was clear this movie was the fucking cure to the most intense case of insomnia!! I’d also like to add that there’s no blue monkey or anything related to a damn blue monkey in the whole damn film!!

Yeah people were nodding off and some I think got some nice zzzzz’s during most of the movies tiresome duration. When we finally get to see the monster mutant bug it’s just too little too late to give a damn. The only thing that kept this movie the least bit interesting were the two boozed up senior citizen patients at the hospital, and even the promise they showed waned pretty damn quick. The actual monster itself was actually pretty well done. If they’d have had the creature stalk people on and off during the loooong ass middle section of this movie it’d have been a helluva lot easier to sit through. Even adding a few of those “shadowy creature arm attacks and you throw some fake blood on a wall” type of scenes could have saved this one from being a full blown fucking sleep-aid!

I get really bummed out by movies like this, that with some clever editing, could have actually been a pretty fun little romp. It seems though the only thing this one succeeds at is being spectacularly boring, proving again the search for that lost 80’s horror gem is a tuff one. Every so often I’m proven wrong but usually if I haven’t heard of a movie being awesome from the 70’s or 80’s by the year 2017 there’s usually good reason! I’m glad the wait is over though with Blue Monkey, even though it was a total turd, it’s one I can happily cross off the list. This one never got a proper DVD release and now it’s finally clear why…you’ve been warned!!  

Fans of ‘Gremlins’ & ‘The Dark Crystal’ Should Check Out ‘We R Animals’!!

Here’s something totally awesome for anyone who’s a fan of movies like ‘The Dark Crystal’ & ‘Meet The Feebles’. Check out the ‘We R Animals’ trailer, a new movie you can fully support on Kickstarter. This project looks totally bonkers and like ‘Meet The Feebles’ boasts an R rating as well. All the characters are played by animatronic puppets bringing to mind a bit of a Gremlins feel as well to the whole thing. This project has been in the making now since 2010 but now seems to be looking like it’s gearing up to get very serious soon.

Here’s the crazy synopsis:

“We R Animals is the story about a bunny who’s never experienced love, who lives in a shady old circus but wants to get out. One day her dream comes true when she manages to escape and meets an old sweet lady called Alice. But her happy new life won’t last long. A criminal cat who runs a business where he shoots cute animal videos for the web now wants the bunny in one of his videos and therefore kidnaps her. It’s a nasty business where he earns big money on ads, while treating his actors like shit, often drugging them and doesn’t care if they die.

What happens next is a fun twisted r-rated ride with violence, ninja cats, soviet collie cyborgs, vicious dogs, vampire bats, revenge and magic.”

 

Sounds like a trip huh? I’m pretty excited to see the final product here. So many movies these days simply resort to CGI which is totally cool but it’s also really nice to see an inspiring “hands on approach” being utilized for a project as unique as this. The puppets look absolutely stunning & the sets look mindbending. The Sweden based writer and director also got the dude from “Kung Fury” involved recently as a producer on the project. Support this one if you can! 

Is the New HELLBOY Movie in Good Hands?!

Wow! So yesterday Mike Mignola made a stunning announcement that Hellboy will be returning to the big screen! BUT and there’s a big BUT here, without Ron Perlman & Guillermo del Toro’s involvement. This is a bit shocking to many as we’ve been waiting the third and final installment that’s been teased for years. I wish they’d have done it and I feel a bit bad for Ron Perlman as he gave the role his all and has been fighting for the fans for so long to complete the trilogy. With that being said, David Harbour, the cop from ‘Stranger Things’ will be stepping into the role of the big devil himself and he seems like an amazing choice for the role. I can already easily picture him as Hellboy just on his looks alone and the guy is a decent actor as well. So I think they’re off to a great start in terms of casting. I’m hoping that they’ll create Hellboy in the same way they did with Ron Perlman. His and the rest of the BPRD’s make up was incredible in del Toro’s movies and I’m hoping that they’re not going to simply CG Hellboy and the gang. One thing Guillermo did extremely well was the creation of incredible monsters using mainly practical fx and incorporating CGI only when truly necessary.

Also announced was director Neil Marshall, who I was immediately thrilled about, for the simple fact that he’s made easily two of the best horror movies of the last twenty years, Dog Soldiers & The Descent. Both of these movies are mind blowing-ly awesome and they’re 100% rock solid proof that this director just might bring us the best Hellboy movie possible. Heck, I go as far to put ‘Dog Soldiers’ right up there with ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and ‘The Howling’. As excited as I am at the possibility here I realized that ‘The Descent’ was released all the way back in 2005 and it got me thinking just what the hell has Neil Marshall really been up to the last twelve years? Lets find out as it may give us a better idea of exactly what we’re in store for with this new Hellboy flick.

After ‘The Descent’ Marshall went on to direct the lackluster ‘Mad Max’ influenced movie ‘Doomsday’ in 2008. The movie was a bit of a box office bomb and to me didn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table honestly in the post apocalyptic adventure genre. I guess I give him an ‘A’ for effort for giving it an honest shot but the movie was just too bland to make any real waves and has been largely forgotten for the most part.

After that he did ‘Centurion’ in 2010, with Michael Fassbender starring. It was a an ok attempt at a historical hack and slash war movie about the disappearance of the Roman empire’s ninth legion. This was also a bit of a bomb at the box office and largely went under the radar of movie goers. Once again this movie didn’t bring anything to the table that hadn’t really already been done before. One thing though I’ll say are that his movies look great and even Doomsday visually was at least effective in that area. Still ‘Centurion’ is one time viewing and it doesn’t have much to differentiate it from anything else that was being cranked out in the  genre at the time.

After that Marshall disappeared from the movie scene directing 2 excellent episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ as well as episodes of ‘Black Sails’, ‘Constantine’, ‘Hannibal’, ‘Timeless’ & ‘Westworld’. In 2015 he was one of the directors in the horror anthology movie ‘Tales of Halloween’ and directed the excellent installment “Bad Seed” about the killer GMO pumpkin! Loved it…

So what we’ve got here for Marshall is a big return to the silver screen on a big budget flick. I don’t have any reason to believe that he’s going to fuck it up, in fact with a great script which I’m certain Mignola will be part of and the supposed “R” rating the movie’s rumored to get we just might see a more true to the comic version of the character. I think it’ll be much darker, bloody and quite possibly a much bigger hit this time around. I’ve always thought cinematic Hellboy was ahead of it’s time and that the strange Mignola-verse would fare far better in today’s landscape than that of 2008 to movie goers. Hellboy & The BPRD are easily my favorites of the current comic book franchises out there, so this next movie means a lot to me.

If they lift the amazing feel of the del Toro movies and add a bit darker tone (don’t lose all the comedy though) we’ll be in for one helluva Hellboy flick. I’m also hoping that the movie might make a role for Ron Perlman, Doug Jones & Selma Blair (perhaps as villains?) because we all know how badly they wanted a third film. How cool would Ron & Doug be starring as some crazy creatures? Let’s let Neil Marshall return to his true roots and give the Hellboy movies the lethal does of horror they need today. The guy is super talented and his two incredible horror movies he made are proof that Marshall is exactly where he needs to be. I’m hoping this will begin many more Mignola-verse based movies or a BPRD tv series dammit!! So don’t fret I think Hellboy’s indeed in good hands…