Tagged: practical fx

VHS Verdict: ‘Riki-Oh’ Director’s ‘THE CAT’ from 1991 is Equally Bonkers!

I finally after years of searching, got a copy of the highly elusive, lost Hong Kong Horror / Sci-fi flick from 1991! If you’ve ever seen the director’s previous movie ‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki’ then you’ve got a decent idea of what you’re in for here. Lam Ngai Kai, the cult director at the helm here ended his wild and truly weird film making run with this crazy gem and then completely disappeared, likely completely satisfied with the truly bonkers back catalog of films he left behind.

‘The Cat’ is the perfect finale to his cult legacy as well, the only problem is, it’s a damn hard one to track down unless you search it down on Youtube and can find decent a version with subtitles, I’m not a big fan of the film quality that turns up there for many of these “lost” movies. But sometimes it’s the only way to check these rare flicks out. Filmed back to back with ‘Riki-Oh’, this one again is a short, sweet briskly paced, frenetic adventure with a runtime just under 80 minutes.

The story of course is yet another truly weird one: an amorphous blob of tentacled evil, is set loose from somewhere in deep space down to the streets of Hong Kong. Meanwhile mild mannered adventure novelist Wisely, is given an odd tip from a friend who suspects something strange afoot at his normally quiet apartment complex, discovering his next door neighbors are a trio aliens from another planet being lead by their “pet” cat named ‘The General’. Stranded on Earth they’re intent on completing a mysterious secret mission. Soon Wisley’s stuck in a mind bending web of utter mayhem when he tracks down & befriends the alien trio, embarking on a horror drenched adventure to stop the evil alien blob from continuing it’s path of destruction.

The Cat’s got a lot going for it, especially if you’re a fan of gooey, fast moving horror movies like Evil Dead II & stuff like The Terminator and The Thing. It’s got sweet 80’s style special FX galore, “Cat vs Dog” fist fights, over the top gun play & a down right bizarre train wreck of a plot. I mean that in the best way possible and some of the way it comes off is likely do to the crude translation of the dialogue via subtitles. It’s got a few scenes that kinda just have to be seen to be believed, not nearly anywhere as gory as Riki-Oh, but surely a unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a movie before. Particularly a sequence where the intelligent alien cat “General” is pursued by Hong Kong’s most dangerous canine, a hulking mastiff, who’s been sent by Wisely to hunt him down. Dog & cat duke it out in a creepy junkyard while the ‘General’ the cat displays some incredible human fighting techniques and even sports an unbelievable wresting move right out of the WWF to end the whole damn confrontation!

There’s tons of colorful, gooey practical fx to marvel over as well, puppets, gore, stunts & that classic 80’s electricity used to pure perfection. Director Lam Ngai Kai truly revels in the absurdity of it all and clearly used his stunning fx spectacles as the center pieces for his films. Turning your mind off and simply enjoying the eye candy is the best approach to his movies. I’m stunned most only know his movie Riki-Oh, which is now a bonafide cult classic, when he’s got a trove of incredible movies that all rival it. Do yourself a favor and check out ‘The Seventh Curse’ & ‘The Ghost Snatchers’ from 1986, ‘The Peacock King’ from 1989 as well as ‘The Cat’ & ‘Riki Oh’ 9if you haven’t seen that one yet). All of these movies deserve a remastered official blu ray release dammit!! Until then I’ve got some extra boot VHS copies of the movie If you’re interested!!

 

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1960’s Nightmare: The Banana Splits Return for a Full On Horror Movie?!!

I just checked out this trailer (released today) for the upcoming “Banana Splits” feature length film!! I know a lot of people out there don’t have any idea what hell a The Banana Splits are, but being someone who was born in the 1970’s (it aired from 1968-1970) I saw lots of this one on reruns! 

Before the success of “H.R. Pufnstuf,” (who most probably don’t know what that is either anymore) Sid and Marty Krofft cooked up this wacky, live action, slightly psychedelic puppet themed Hanna-Barbera children’s series. Its theme tune, “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)” is still iconic amongst many who grew up in the 1960’s, 70’s and even the 80’s. Check this original footage out from the show, it’s clearly perfect to inspire a horror flick:

Well this new trailer is quite a welcome surprise, I’ve always kinda thought the characters from the tv show were slightly creepy and it seems someone else was in agreeance. The Banana Splits are now entering the horror genre and I’d guess it must be because for years there’s been talk of a “Five Nights at Freddy’s” live action horror movie that’s been in developmental hell. So hey why not let the Banana Splits steal the damn spotlight? It looks like they’re maybe mechanical / animatronic puppets like Chuck E. Cheese or the “Showbiz Pizza dudes” who are also creepy as hell! I’m all for this and I think the trailer looks like a ton of fun! My childhood nostalgia has returned via the SyFy network(?!) to possibly quench my horror movie thirst! Check it out!!

   

Movie Review: Indie Creature Feature ‘Book of Monsters’!

Here’s a pretty neat little modern throwback horror movie I took a chance on recently that turned out be quite a bit of fun. ‘Book of Monsters‘ is a low budget British creature feature that clearly makes it’s best attempt to harken back to the gory glory days of 80’s horror flicks like ‘Evil Dead 2’ &Night of the Creeps’. It takes place on the main character, Sophie’s 18th birthday, when she reluctantly decides to throw a birthday party at her house. Her and her two friends are hardly the cool kids in school and aren’t even sure anyone will actually show up. To their surprise the birthday bash attracts a whole crew of unruly teens and even a few of the school bullies. Well it doesn’t take long before some weird supernatural shit goes down due to meddling with a necronomicon type of book. A full on bloodbath occurs when some creatures emerge from another dimension, invade her house and begin to slaughter the rowdy party guests. Sophie and her pals must band together to fend off the attack and protect their classmates from monster carnage.

It’s a simple story to follow and with a short run time of 84 minutes it’s a perfect party movie (literally) to watch on a Saturday nite with a gang of old school horror fans. One of it’s strongest parts is the protagonist Sophie, who’s a totally likable heroine who struggles with self esteem, teenage sexuality and the strange events of her past which tie into the supernatural events that occur. She’s also one of the only gay horror hero’s I can really recall seeing and they present this aspect of her character in a way that doesn’t feel fully forced into the narrative. Sure we got some bigoted bullies and typical teen jerks but those were always prevalent in the 80’s teen horror movies that likely inspired this one.

Now onto the horror aspect of things, though I liked the movie, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit tired of the ‘evil book/necronomicon’ angle of things, it feels pretty played out and I kind of wish they’d have used a different reasoning for the summoning of the monsters. Hardly a complaint really as once things get going here it’s pretty fun & action packed. The monster & gore effects are pretty ambitious for the most part. For the budget they had to work with they deliver a fair share of cool practical fx work avoiding for the most part cgi entirely (if my memory serves me correctly). The monster designs are pretty good too, one looks a bit like it was ripped out of M. Knight Shyamalan’s the village, one’s like a standard slasher dude and the other is kind of like a “Natasha Henstridge” Species/cenobite type-o creature. They all do a decent amount of gory, goopy damage too & it’s all executed in a fairly cartoonish way so it could easily be digested by the light weight horror fans. Oh yeah some evil garden gnomes are thrown in as well, that with a little more budget could have been far more crowd pleasing- but still an “A” for effort. There’s lots of chainsaws and general ass kicking done by the three female leads and even though most Hollywood blockbusters are trying to currently shoehorn girl power into movies ‘Book of Monsters’ does it in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like it’s blatantly pushing some agenda for brownie points.

If ‘Book of Monsters‘ had been released in 1987 it’d have been a bonafide cult classic, it’s a nice switch from all the shoddy CGI & digital blood of modern horror movies. It leaves the door open for a sequel and I think if it gets one with more cash behind it, there’s a possibility the second installment could very well end up as a modern day cult classic. For the meantime though I think the best crowd for ‘Book of Monsters’ are those who miss the glory days of 1980’s schlock, goofy gore & teen horror flicks!

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Trailer Brings Nostalgia & some Un-Special FX!

Today the trailer dropped for highly anticipated (?) sixth Terminator film in the franchise! I’ve definitely not been very excited for this one, the last three Terminator movies have been majorly disappointing, so why the hell would this seem like a good idea to try this all yet again? Well, it’s supposed to negate all of the movies of the franchise everyone hated AND bring back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor for another round of battle against the angry machines. I guess that’s enough to get fans to check it out right? The trailer looks like it’s trying to borrow a bit from T2’s winning recipe but one thing that’s got me perplexed is just how bad the special fx here look. How is it T2 which came out in 1991 appears to have better visual fx than a movie that came out almost three decades later? The CGI on display here looks like it was ripped straight out of a video game, I’m thinking that ‘Dark Fate’ is showing just how much this franchise is missing an FX wizard like the legendary Stan Winston working on it.

This trailer for the most part seems passable, and will likely be better than ‘Terminator: Genisys’ but still I’m not seeing enough here that truly feels like it’s bringing something fresh to the table for the franchise. I’m willing to give it all a fair shot but damn, that terrible song playing during the trailer isn’t exactly helping bring that classic vibe to the table either. A variation on the original Terminator score would have been much better here than some bad “edgy” ballad. A lot of current trailers make this bad decision to try and insert some crappy song in them and ultimately end up killing the excitement for a movie. It is pretty damn cool to see Linda looking all bad ass again and of course seeing Arnold is always a good thing. I’m hoping that this time around they give him a different role, becuz him being an aged Terminator reminds me way too much of ‘Genisys’ at this point.

It’s entirely possible that he’s actually the man who created the Terminator in his own image? That’d feel like a fresh role for Arnold at his age that really hasn’t been explored in the movies. Hopefully they’ll go with that angle to mix things up a bit. I’m also curious where the hell John Connor is these days? I realize they want the focus to be on strong female leads, which has always been prevalent in the franchise, but part of me wishes that Ed Furlong somehow pops up in the movie. I know, wishful thinking as Edward has had a lot of drug related issues these days and last I saw he wasn’t in very good shape to say the least. Still it’d be so nice to see that classic trilogy of characters reunited somehow. Anyway so far it looks like this new Terminator just might be another failed attempt at reviving the franchise, I hope I’m wrong!!

RIP John Carl Buechler: Remembering His Amazing Movie Monsters!!

Yesterday we heard the news of master special effects artist / director John Carl Buechler’s passing & it reminded me once again of just how amazing his work in the industry was and just how many of the movies he was involved with have been a huge part of growing up. From cult classics like Troll, Dolls & The Dungeonmaster to arguably the best installment of Friday The 13th, Part VII: The New Blood to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, his work has brought me soooo much joy throughout my life as a movie maniac.

As one of the biggest fans of monster movies, he brought some of the best to the big and small screen. It led me to comb Youtube for some choice clips of his that feature some of my favorite creations of his. They just don’t make em’ like this anymore, Mr. Buechler you will be missed but your incredible creatures will live on forever, that is for sure…

 

 

 

VHS Verdict: ‘The White Buffalo’ is a Western ‘JAWS’ with Charles Bronson!

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! 

PLAYTIME: Chucky’s Killer Doll Counterpart Vs. Modern Cinema!

Here’s something that’s truly perfect for the Halloween season at hand and any fan of the Child’s Play franchise alike. Studio ADI who are known most for their amazing practical & animatronic monster FX through out the years presents this new short web series about a creepy doll actor who plays a killer doll named “Billy” and stars in a “Child’s Play” like 80’s movie franchise.  

 

Down on his luck doll actor Billy has seen better days during the 80’s and when he today finds out that his franchise is getting a reboot without he’s determined to make things right! Much like what’s actually going on currently with the Child’s Play franchise which itself is indeed getting a full fledged reboot, ditching the original look of Chucky and basically wiping the slate clean of everything that came before it, including Brad Dourif & Don Mancini. Each episode is only a few minutes long but it’s definitely worth it, as it indeed features some truly stunning practical fx work and an intriguing, meta look at the killer doll/hollywood reboot treatment of some of our most beloved and cherished franchises!! There’s now three mini (no puns intended) episodes out now-Check it!!