The world is a crazy place right now, so you might want to take a moment to disconnect from the madness just for a minute to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of ROBOCOP!!! Ok that is all for today!! You may now go back to the regular scheduled programming!
Well the quarantine rages one! So naturally I’m taking advantage of the situation by watching as many cool movies as I can get my hands on! I checked out some pretty excellent Japanese movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s the other night and I won the jackpot as somehow BOTH movies delivered the damn goods! I mean that rarely ever happens when blindly grabbing two oddball movies I’ve never heard anything about.
First up was was 1988’s “Cyber Ninja”, which obviously by the title showed some true promise! This wild sci-fi action film tells the story of a cyborg ninja who’s battling an evil empire that uses giant dinosaur like robots along with a gang of robotic ninja’s of their own to wreak havoc upon a kingdom of samurai warriors. Yeah basically that’s the story, nothing fancy here just a bunch of wild action and robot ass kicking for a lean 80 minutes. There’s some cool martial arts as well and really sweet robot designs at play here that mix feudal japanese elements into their look. There’s these giants mechs in particular that have a sort of Japanese tree house melded as the control center, kinda of like a play on a Star Wars ATST walker. There’s also a ton of that ultra colorful hand painted laser/electricity/energy blasts fx that accompany the martial arts mayhem. It’s a ton of fun and it seems this was perhaps an inspiration for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? The movie was release by Namco, which later merged with Bandai, both famous for their video games. Cyber Ninja is must watch if you dig weird, 80’s action and fantasy stuff & was great little viewing surprise that doesn’t require your attention span to be in full swing either.
Next was 1991’s Mikadroid, also known as “Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disoclub Layla”. With a title like that you know you’re at the least in for something quite unusual and yeah it brings quite an intriguing little tale of terror to the screen. It’s super lean run time of 73 minutes also makes it much less of a commitment and the perfect companion to Cyber Ninja in more than one way. I’d say at it’s core, it’s really more of a horror movie, and go as far to even call it a “proto-slasher”. It follows a World War II soldier who was experimented on along with two others for a super soldier program.
However they went a step further in a secret underground bunker to transform him into a cyborg/droid and ends up looking like something straight out of a Hellboy comic. We flash forward to 1991 to a discoclub that was built on top the hidden bunker where some electrical issues awaken the WWII super solder robot from his long slumber (I guess a real Captain America kind of thing going on here more than I originally realized). The droid heads up into the parking garage where he conducts his killing spree on the oh so stylin’ Japanese party animals after their wild nights of drinkin’ and dancing the night away.
This movie’s certainly a unique slice early 90’s cinema. It’s quite beautifully shot as well as having a pretty kick ass looking robot and some really stunning underground locations. I was hoping for a bit more from some of the kills but the strange story is the true highlight. Enough so that this little oddity by it’s end unfolds into something truly unique for it’s time and relative obscurity. Released by Toho, it was originally intended to be a full on horror film for the straight to video Japanese Market. Originally set to be a a zombie horror film having the WWII soldier an undead killer instead of a robot . The day before filming began a child murderer was arrested, who had an open passion for horror films, and it resulted in almost all horror movies being essentially blacklisted from production at the time. The film’s plot was frantically reworked into a “sci-fi” film while still keeping the basic premise intact. That all being said, the changes made I think likely added to the movie’s bizarre but ambitious plot. If you go into the movie with few expectations you’ll find a truly charming little feature that firmly lands it in a league of it’s own for the time.
You like classic alien abduction flicks as much as I do? Well the recently released ‘Dark Encounter’ brings to mind movies like ‘Communion’, ‘Fire in the Sky’, ‘Close Encounters’ but also brings some new dramatic plot points to the traditional alien abduction story. Basically we’ve got a small town scenario here where a family’s 8 year old daughter suddenly goes missing one sunny afternoon while home alone. A year passes, with no clues of her whereabouts and the family, along with some close friends gather at their home for a memorial, still trying to come to terms with what happened to her. As the night descends upon their gathering so does a seemingly sinister alien force. Mysterious lights in the sky are seen and soon members of the family begin to go missing in the woods that surrounds the house. It’s not long before the strange lights fill the home and the remaining must try to survive the night while piecing together the very mystery for which they gathered.
It all takes place in the 1980’s and much of it’s imagery is clearly influenced by those classics like ‘E.T’. & ‘Close Encounters’ but it still manages to set those similarities apart by going in unexpected directions. It starts off as the classic extraterrestrial abduction story but ends up with revelations far more disturbing to the family dynamic set up earlier. It looks great too, beautifully shot with plenty of tense scenes set out in the woods while strange colors shine through the trees. They capture a sense of a looming alien presence that’s purely unsettling and mysterious creating some great scenes of raw tension. There’s some great acting here as well, everyone’s quite convincing in their roles which lends tremendously to the mystery of it. As far as those little green men though, people waiting for alien mayhem might walk away a bit disappointed from Dark Encounter. While I ultimately appreciated the movie at it’s end for different reasons I was of course hoping things were going to climax with some human vs E.T. action. I still think someone needs to churn out a bonkers gray alien vs human abduction flick, I know it was attempted by ‘The Vicious Brothers’ with their 2014 film ‘Extraterrestrial’ and again with “Dark Skies” but somehow in my opinion just missed the mark.
That all being said I think Dark Encounter is most definitely worth watching for fans of the “Alien Abduction” film genre. It’s got an intriguing mystery at it’s core and goes in some surprising directions that also land it firmly into the family drama category as well. Hey if I’m going to watch a family drama this is the kind of move I want to do so with. It will leave you with a bittersweet feeling but it’s definitely an interesting encounter with visitors not of this Earth.
Ok, so I’m not going to go into full deep detail here on Jordan Peele’s latest horror outing ‘US’, as there’s easily enough online analyzing with the buzz and huge hype surrounding it. I’m gonna just give a few quick thoughts on it now that I’ve had a couple days to let it sink into my brain and let you know an unbiased opinion, the good and the bad, as a huge horror hound and a big fan of his first film ‘Get Out’. Most already know the plot of this one but if not here’s a quick refresher:
Married Couple Gabe and Adelaide Wilson take their two children to their long time family beach home expecting to relax and hang with with friends at the beach. But as night falls upon them, their vacation quickly turns to terror and utter chaos when dopplegangers of themselves violently raid their home. It turns into a evening of terror as they play a deadly game of cat & mouse with insane mirror images of themselves.
So Jordan Peele has undeniably crafted a damn good mainstream horror movie once again that feels like a high budget, more violent episode of The Twilight Zone. That’s a great thing, as I’m always down for an intelligent, thought provoking horror flick and this one leaves you with a lot to think about. ‘Us’ fully delivers the frantic action, legit scares as well as some stunning violence and grooves along at near perfect pace never losing a beat. Right from the start Peele gives us a clue as to what influences he’s drawing from here, I liked the 1980’s opening with the ‘C.H.U.D.’ vhs in plain sight as well as ‘The Man With Two Brains’ and ‘Goonies’ next to the old TV which also is broadcasting something that should be paid close attention to. There’s a lot of clues sprinkled about here throughout and it’s a fun thrill ride.
The acting of course by everyone on board was pitch perfect and the sense of dread and despair Peele drums up shows he fully understands the genre in all the best ways. The evil family that arrives upon the scene are likely to become modern horror icons, scary as ever and their perplexing motives for even being there at all is easily one of the best parts of the entire movie. I’ve always thought the doppleganger concept was a frightening one, meeting an “off” version of yourself in a dark alley is something of nightmares. Peele take this concept, puts it on steroids and leaves you thinking just how you might really react being put in a similar situation.
Now with all that being said, as a big horror fan, I found many of the brilliant tense scenes a bit undermined by attempts at comedy, much of which admittedly landed pretty well but felt out of place. For me though as funny as Peele makes the dialogue at these moments, (I feel) perhaps this trend of following scenes of tension with a joke a bit tired at this point. It takes me out of the movie in a big way, I understand the masses dig that type of thing, but it’s kinda something I feel so many try to replicate due to the success of the Marvel movies. It felt tonally off & I personally can do without, unless I’m watching something like ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’. I also found that within the first 20 minutes or so the major twist was so blatantly obvious I’d actually put it to the back of my mind as being not a likely possibility. However when the end roared forward it was indeed revealed to be exactly what I’d expected. Maybe I’ve seen too many of these horror flicks? So possibly a minor spoiler to some, I’d actually wondered if Jordan Peele had seen the 2015 movie ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ as there’s a story in the X-mas horror anthology that features a black family that well, let’s just say experience the same thing basically. Coincidence? Maybe.
By the very end it was clear that there’s a social commentary going on again here as in ‘Get Out’, perhaps a good one but the insertion of it this time around I think kinda derailed the horror mystery that came before it. It feels more like a fable by the time the end credits hit, one that introduces new plot info to seemingly prove some kind of lesson. The explanation for the madness that erupted before feels slightly forced, just doesn’t make much sense and ultimately in my opinion changes the dynamic of the whole movie altogether. I’d actually rather be given no real explanation for what occurred than be given some sort of societal lesson at the end of the movie. It all comes pretty much out of left field, reaching a more sci fi inspired explanation that requires some serious suspension of disbelief and a much more surreal dream like approach that feels a bit out of place here ultimately. I guess it’s much more of a symbolic presentation, at least towards the end and perhaps I just wasn’t expecting it to move fully into that mode.
In a way I guess I can compare it to M. Knight Shyamalan’s movies, where sometimes his twist ending undoes some of the brilliantly crafted terror that came before it by trying to prove some deeper “meaningful” point. However, that’s just my opinion as I know many love those movies that tie into real world issues. That all being said, I highly recommend ‘Us’ as it’s still a shit load of fun and miles above the crappy ass normal Hollywood B.S. that you’re likely to see at a big cinema. Surely one of the best horror movies of 2019, Check it out and let me know if you think I’m way off here with some of my criticisms?
‘White Fire’ from 1984 is one helluva bizarre movie, it’s not only filled with a ton of crazy ass action sequences but it’s also got a complete WTF plot going for it that you kinda just have to see to believe. ‘White Fire’ starts off with two siblings (Bo and Ingrid) who witness a gang of crazed soldiers sadistically murder their parents. There’s fully over the top action kicking into gear right from the very start including a bonkers attack on the kid’s dad with a flame thrower that you just gotta see to beleive. It’s one of those “rewind & watch it again” scenes as the stunt dude is completely bombarded with a flame blast with no head or face protection, and for an instant the guy is fully engulfed in flame. Anyway only the two kids manage to survive the bloodshed. Flash forward twenty years later… Bo and his beautiful sister are grown up & employed at a hi-tech diamond mineshaft operation located in the desert that looks straight out of a 1960’s sci fi flick. The inseparable pair soon stumble upon the discovery of a legendary supernaturally powered diamond, called the “White Fire.” Both are immediately pursued by a gang of evil villainous thugs who’re dead set on getting their grubby hands on the diamond themselves. Check out this radical poster/box art for the flick:
Well once the pursuit starts, things get outta hand pretty quickly and we witness the bro and sis duo’s bizarrely epic kung fu skills & brother Bo even resorts to grabbing a chainsaw to fuck up a whole gang of goons on a dock. They’re a great team and soon we get to the real weird shit, lots of his sister Ingrid fully nude at a private swimming pool and Bo comes around afterward and rips his sisters towel off her refusing to give it back. They proceed to laugh about it while she’s completely exposed in front of her brother for far far to long. Ahhh that good old innocent brotherly love! Shit gets even weirder when his sister dies soon after while kung fu fighting a whole gang of villainous goons while still sporting her towel, that now refuses to fall off.
Naturally Bo is super duper bummed out to find his sister has been murdered but the next day he runs into a random lady in a bar while greivin’ n’ drinkin’ whom he ends up approaching with an offer she just can’t refuse! 50 grand to get a face transplant from his dead sister and learn to imitate her! Naturally the woman goes for it, because for some reason I’m a bit confused about still, having his sister alive will help them get the diamond or some shit? Whatever, Bo naturally falls in love with the woman and when she gets the face transplant things get mega awkward!! Now she looks identical to his dead sister, but what’s he to do, he’s already madly in love with her!
The rest of the movie’s a blast, iconic bad ass Fred Williamson shows up as a hired bounty hunter dude to raise some hell for the duo and there’s action a plenty to behold, even a dude who gets his crotch fully mangled by a table saw! There’s a surprising amount of gore here sprinkled throughout to compliment the bonkers plot that will leave you continuously scratching your head in confusion. White Fire’s got some rad locations too, most of it takes place in Turkey and it’s a treat to see the city of Istanbul in the 1980s. Directed by Jean-Marie Pallardy, who mainly directed porno flicks, ‘White Fire’ is definitely a party flick worth a watch with a gang of rowdy cinema fiends!
Damn! I’ve been scoring some excellent VHS tapes lately and even better is the fact that they’re movies I’ve never heard of before. Being a huge fan of 80’s creature features I was delighted to run across this total gem of a flick. Not to be confused with ‘Metamorphosis’ by George Eastman which also came out in 1990, ‘Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor’ is an inspiring special fx laden monster movie for fans of movies like The 80’s ‘Blob’, ‘The Thing’ & of course ‘The Deadly Spawn’. This movie is actually the unofficial sequel to 1983’s ‘The Deadly Spawn’ being produced by Ted Bohus who was responsible for both movies. Turns out he produced two home run horror movies as Metamorphosis is just as good if not in some ways even better than The Deadly Spawn.
The movie’s plot is quite simple, a scientist is researching some strange mutant creatures from another planet in lab and accidentally stabs one of them in the head with a syringe. The pissed off mutant bites his hand, escapes, the scientist quickly begins to metamorphosize into a slimy mass of grotesque flesh & eventually mutates into a huge creature that kills a security guard. Well it’s not long before the security guard’s two daughters and one of their geeky horny boyfriends are all up on the scene to figure out just what happened to their dear ol’ dad. They sneak into the research facility and crazy monster mayhem ensues. This one’s a ton of fun, sure it’s got some pretty bad acting, unintentionally goofy dialogue and may have about 15 minutes too much of bland character development but the whole thing is littered with crazy creatures and plenty o’ gooey gore.
The monsters are the main attraction here and they’re beautifully created via puppetry, animatronics and even a hefty dose of stop motion animation. It really is a great sequel to The Deadly Spawn and the main monster does indeed share an even enough similarity to the creatures of it’s predecessor. These two movies would make a great double feature especially for those who’re looking for an underrated gem of a monster movie and plenty of gross out schlocky gore.
The last 30 minutes of the movie definitely amps up the monster mayhem to eleven and though some of the first two acts can begin to only slightly drag with perhaps trying a bit too hard at crafting a “compelling” story once the shit truly hits the fan it’s totally worth the wait. Like ‘The Deadly Spawn’ this also one has quite a gigantic closing sequence that firmly cements ‘Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor’ into the list of the the best monster movies of the late 80’s/90s. Check it out!
I recently stumbled upon a beautiful big box VHS version of the 1983 gem ‘Raiders of Atlantis’ and it’s easily one of the most entertaining 80’s action/sci-fi genre mash up’s I’ve ever seen. Even more interesting is that we’ve got cult director Ruggero Deodato, most well known for his extreme gore flick ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ at the helm. Well, while ‘Raiders’ doesn’t feature the offensive gross-out gore of ‘Holocaust’ it does have it’s fare share of unexpectedly crazy bloody good moments and then some to spare.
As for the plot, there’s not much to it, basically two hot shot war vets (Mike, who’s a slightly past his prime playboy and his buddy, recently converted to islam, Washington, who desperately wants people to call him Mohammed) and their crew head off by boat to investigate the strange suddenly rising continent of Atlantis that emerges from the depths of the ocean covered in a transparent dome. Well pretty much as soon as our crew of trusty adventurers set foot on Atlantis’ shore they discover a creepy, fully ravaged city with dead people scattered about, leading to a particularly excellently executed chilling scene involving a skipping record. Deodato immediately sets the stage for a full on genre sandwich that’s part action/sci-fi/horror & post apocalyptic adventure.
Of course none of this can really be taken too seriously as the movie opens with Washington & Mike displaying their innate ability to kick major ass and then some within the first few minutes. However the movie shifts gears when it’s revealed that the natives of Atlantis are actually psychotic punk rock post apocalyptic warriors who’re out to kill anyone and everything in sight. Their leader even wears a ridiculous see through plastic skull mask and they all drive around freaky jacked up killer cars and motorcycles like total maniacs. The rest of the movie is really one fucking awesome action sequence after another, ridiculous hi-octane shit that never slows. Continue reading
Most of the big cinema Hollywood horror movies churned out these days are pretty damn forgettable but every so often we get a shiny gem thrown in our direction, this is most certainly the case with “A Quiet Place”. Yep, this one delivers on all levels, it’s an awesome tale of survival, a freaky creature feature and a totally tense original thriller all wrapped into one sweet package. John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe & Millicent Simmonds are a family trying to survive in total isolation in a house in countryside. In the surrounding forest the wrath of big blind alien creatures that hunt by sound look for their next meal. Get ready for the extremes between complete silence and jarring monster attacks to jolt you right the fuck out of your theater seat. Most of the movie is completely serene except for some of the score that creeps in and out from time to time and that’s what will keep you on your toes. I’d love to see a version of the movie that takes out the score completely as that’d certainly add even more tension to the sonic experiment at play here.
It’s really quite a great concept for a big cinema flick and if you’re chomping on popcorn and candy during the movie you’re likely to be heard by all around, the movie’s so quiet at times it can be a bit unsettling in a large theater full of people. This of course brings the audience directly into the tension and it’s done quite well cuz when the shit hits the fan from time to time it makes the tense action sequences that much more powerful. It also features the most awkward sequence of being stalked by a monster, one where Emily Blunt tries to escape being killed by one of these creatures while simultaneously going into labor! Damn-could it get an worse-yes it surely does..
The small cast also adds to the feeling of dread and isolation as danger lurks behind every noise presented on screen. The setting as well is lush and beautiful as most of it takes place on and around the old farm and a creepy ass cornfield, the perfect place for monsters to creep all about. Speaking of the monsters, we don’t really get any solid explanation about where they came from or why they’re here, maybe upon a second viewing it’d be easier to piece it all together from various newspaper clippings that are shown here and there. It’s been said this movie was also, in it’s early stages given the possibility to have a connection to Cloverfield, which also would have worked quite nicely. Continue reading
Hey there I’m back for a whole NEW year in 2018!! Yeeehaw!! I’m starting off with a little review from a recent batch of VHS I bought while thrifting around Portland, Oregon. In my huge stack of weird movies I’ve been burning through, was a movie called ‘Evolver’ from 1994. From the cover of this one I was more than certain this was gonna be some total bull shit show that I’d likely not be able to make it all the way through. HOWEVER I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually dug Evolver!
Let me be clear though, this movie is totally stupid, but in the best way imaginable. It starts off with some shitty virtual reality video game being played in an arcade by our lead character, hot shot video gamer Kyle played by “teen heart throb” Ethan Embry. He’s basically on stage in the arcade and of course there’s a big crowd there cheering him on, becuz in the 90’s that’s what people did dammit! Anyway he’s a computer hacker as well and uses his skills to make himself the prize winner of a new real life robot called “Evolver” a prototype game system that plays laser tag with you in your own house. Evolver kinda looks like the baby of the robots in “Chopping Mall” as he’s only about 3 feet tall, oh yeah and he’s voiced by none other than William. H Macy! At first Evolver is easy to beat but at each new level of household combat that he’s defeated he gets better and even transforms a bit so he can be “more menacing” to his foes. Continue reading
Well, well, well, it seems that us Star Trek fans may really finally be boldly going where no one has gone before. The apparent news is that Quentin Tarantino has got an interesting story to pitch for the U.S.S. Enterprise and if all things work out the way he’d like them to he’ll be sitting in the director’s chair. Also interesting is that he’s demanding the movie be rated R. Just what the hell would a Star Trek movie of this caliber actually look like? I’ve never even considered a Star Trek movie would ever be able trek into the ‘R’ rated zones of the galaxy!
To me this is an exciting step in possibly the right direction for Star Trek, sure the last theatrical movie was a decent enough time for what it was, but it also just felt a little too “typical bloated cranked out for the masses Hollywood action” to really feel like an authentic Trek adventure. So with Tarantino involved we just might get a cerebral science fiction adventure a bit more akin to the original series and then some. We might also be getting a darker vision of the crew’s space exploration. An ‘R’ rating opens up the possibilities for the crew to face some truly horrifying aliens and sinister villains as well as some creepy as fuck planets to check out. This is something I really hopes comes to fruition, I’d like a different direction for the Star Trek movie universe and different is exactly what we’re likely to get here if it happens.
The next question is what version of ‘Star Trek’ is Tarantino looking to helm? Would he be using the all of the actors from the more recent movie trilogy? Will he go Next Generation? Interesting is that today I saw that Patrick Stewart has opened the doors to Quentin, stating he’s open to reprising his role of Picard. Who knows we might even get some William Shatner action in Tarantino’s version, at this point I think anything is possible.
I think it’d be cool to keep it simple and continue the current rebooted crew putting them into a more complex, dangerous, mind bending sci-fi epic. I think Quentin really understands Star Trek and more importantly truly understands the characters of TOS. I’d love to hear some of his classic banter infused with the Star Trek crew, it could really work in ways we haven’t seen since the TOS movies of the late 1970’s-90’s. I think this could be the throwback style we’ve been waiting for mixed with a totally new vision. It’s an experiment I hope comes to light, I’ve got my fingers crossed…How about you?