4th of July Horror Explosion: 1996’s ‘UNCLE SAM’ is a Bloody Blast!
All these years I’ve sorta avoided ‘Uncle Sam’ from 1996, assuming it was some sort of idiotic throw away, direct to video waste of time. The VHS cover was unforgettable, a wild lenticular evil Uncle Sam in glorious 3-D! Still for decades I never checked this out kind of on purpose.
This 4th of July however I was looking for something in the horror genre that might take place around the holiday and of COURSE there was good ol ‘Uncle Sam’ front and center. I almost passed on it yet again, but this time I noticed something that I def hadn’t before. It was directed by William Lustig famed for the brilliant ‘Maniac Cop’ franchise and written by one of my genre favorites Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, The Ambulance, Return to Salem’s Lot, Q: The Winged Serpent). Why the Hell hadn’t I realized this sooner?!
Well Uncle Sam indeed delivered everything I’d hoped it would and much more! It’s a great horror flick with some razor sharp comedy/social commentary, just what you’d hope it would have being written by Larry Cohen. It’s a wild story about a kid who’s freakishly obsessed with becoming a soldier, kickin’ ass for the USA & doing whatever the fuck President tells him to! He’s also obsessed with his Uncle, who’s real name is Sam, who tragically dies in the Iraq war from “friendly fire”.
When his body is shipped back to their home(?) to sit until his grave is dug, bizarre events lead to his dead decaying body reanimating and donning an Uncle Sam outfit which he strips from a peeping Tom on stilts after after murdering him!
At this point Uncle Sam embarks on a full on “Jason Voorhees” killing spree during the 4th of July as the small town starts to celebrate. I’d always assumed that this movie was a total farce/spoof, but far from it. It’s got a cool fast paced story, plenty of obnoxious patriotic humor and even a strong social commentary about the US government and war itself. There’s also some inventive kills (with fireworks of course!), cool make up effects and a cast which stars fan favorites Robert Forster and Isaac Hayes.
Probably one of the most ridiculous aspects and enjoyable parts of the whole movie is the kid and his crazy ass obsession with the United States and his over the top ludicrous patriotism on full display. It’s pretty gut busting and as a whole Uncle Sam is a total delight that somehow eluded me for almost three damn decades.
As far as 4th of July viewing you really can’t do better than this, the most “4th of July” horror movie of all time thankfully has got all the right moves and the talent behind it is evident in the final product. I got this bad boy on blu ray from Blue Underground! But now I want that damn 3-D lenticular VHS too! Hunt down Uncle Sam THIS 4th of July!!
Halloween 2021: Who Won? CHUCKY or MICHAEL MYERS?!
It’s been a bit of a “David & Goliath” horror showdown in 2021, two iconic slashers went head to head this Halloween and as far as I’m concerned the little guy has emerged as the clear victor! ‘Chucky’ stomped ‘Halloween Kills’, continuing the horror saga with no need to cancel ANY of it’s sequels, no matter how ridiculous they may have been! Not an easy feat, but Don Mancini has stuck to his guns and once again breathed some fresh air into the fanchise.
Mancini also deserves a lot of credit for clearly how much love he still has for Chucky. He clearly doesn’t need to erase the sequels, keeping everything cannon, something I really respect that oddly works in his favor here with the new Syfy series. He’s built an entire world within his sequels and it becomes even more interesting as some of the most ludicrous plot points of the earlier ones remain intact with this darker toned series that feels much more akin to the original.
‘Halloween Kills’ however is clearly being pushed imo for a different reason, what I believe to be more of an IP “cash grab” reboot thing. ‘The Pineapple Express’ director doesn’t bring much new or interesting to the table for someone who’s erased all of the sequels and replaced them with basically the “Terminator: Dark Fate” of the Halloween franchise. Hey, If you’re going to revise the existing lore, that is beloved by a lot of fans, you better have something bad ass planned for your new time line. ‘Halloween Kills’ personally left me completely underwhelmed & unexcited for whatever comes next. At this point who gives a shit about yet another Halloween timeline?
‘Chucky’ however has introduced us to a whole new cast of (so far) interesting characters, Don Mancini has finally brought us a gay horror protagonist to root for that doesn’t feel forced. ‘Cult of Chucky’ left us with also quite a fresh twist on things, Tuesday night we hit mid season with episode 4, though I’m at the moment starting to slightly feel some padding in the series, I’m hoping that the final 4 episodes will increase the mayhem as they introduce Tiffany and whoever else mysteriously pops in for the story.
Looking at the end of the last Chucky film there’s a lot of interesting directions this current story could now go in. I really hope they take some chances here like they were doing in the last Chucky film rather than trying to just stick to the original basic slasher formula. ‘Chucky’ now has the chance to go completely bonkers and throw the fans a bloody curve ball they’ll never forget. If they continue to incorporate some wild voodoo rituals, human possessions, multiple Chucky’s and one mean mysterious motive for the mayhem, the first season will be off to a sweet start. As it stands Chucky has cut Michael down to size with the authenticity of the original creator at it’s helm who’s clearly hungry to tell a new fresh story. Let’s see if he can deliver a home run in the last four episodes or if it’s flame fizzles into the realm of the tired reboots and bland cash grab “sequels”. Fingers crossed!
The Crazy Killer Muppet: Benny Loves You!
I just checked out this wild little trailer for what looks like promising horror comedy-Benny Loves You! What if your childhood stuffed animal had a mind of it’s own and didn’t handle being rejected well when you finally outgrew him? Well Benny is here to show you just that as he goes on a rampage when he’s thrown away by his longtime now grown up friend.
“After the accidental death of his parents, Jack’s comfortable lifestyle comes to an end and he must sell his family home. Desperate to improve his life, Jack throws out his childhood belongings including his beloved plush, Benny. It’s a move that has disastrous consequences when Benny springs to life with deadly intentions!”
It definitely looks like something else is going here as well in this one as we see a killer doll and what looks like a toy robot battling Benny. This looks like a super fun little crazy ride, I’ll definitely be checking this one out soon. Benny Loves You was written and directed by Karl Holt who also stars in the film. This one’s out on VOD beginning May 11th.
‘TRAMPA INFERNAL’: Freddy Krueger meets Rambo in this 80’s Mexican Horror Gem!
It seems like cult movie connoisseurs are finally catching wind of just how awesome some of the 1980’s Mexican horror flicks truly are! Just a couple months ago Vinegar Syndrome released Ruben Galindo jr.’s three nearly forgotten creepy classics, ‘Don’t Panic’, ‘Grave Robbers’ & my personal favorite ‘Cemetery of Terror’. I’ve been yammering on about those same movies right here, years before Vinegar Syndrome got wind of them. Not to toot my own horn too much but hey give me some damn street cred! So I’m here to give you the scoop on yet another 80’s Mexican horror cult classic that I’m certain must get a fancy ass blu-ray release ASAP. 1989’s ‘Trampa Infernal’ AKA ‘Hell’s Trap’, is definitely worth tracking down!
With a lean runtime of 74 minutes, this one’s never a bore and frankly never skimps on bringing everything you love about the 80’s slasher front and center in a way they can only do south of the border. Director Pedro Galindo III introduces us to a a couple of ultra competitive rival macho men, who make a bet on catching and killing a wild bear that’s been tormenting the countryside. Of course they gather some friends for this sweet camping trip & when they arrive to their destination it’s clear that the forest is housing something much more sinister than a damn bear. We’re introduced to one hell of a slasher villain, he wears the glove of Freddy Krueger, sports a mega creepy emotionless mannequin mask with a wild hairdo and carries an arsenal of firearms with him wherever he damn well pleases.
This asshole’s copletely compelled to kill anyone who steps in his freaky neck of the woods. Yeah the plot is pretty damn flimsy just the way I like it sometimes. We’ve got a pretty sweet gang of colorful characters who go head on into battle with this weirdo, along with some well executed inventive kills mixed with plenty of action and a handful o’ cool explosions to boot. Plus who doesn’t want to spend some action packed time in 1980s Mexico? Sign me up any time! Oh Yeah and the amped up 80’s fashion sense is worth the price of admission alone, this gang of campers can sell me cool vintage clothes for my vintage shop any day of the week. So moving on, this here turns into one deadly game of cat-and-mouse that really benefits from the beautiful setting of Mexico’s woodsy backdrop. It’s fierce villain who appears to be some sort of ex-soldier with an extreme case of PTSD is bound to generates his own cult following here in the US amongst fans of icons like Leatherface and Michael Myers. This guy’s a total badass! See for your damn self:
He’s kinda got an Owen Wilson type o’ thing going on? Well director Pedro Galindo, I can only assume must be related to Ruben Galindo jr. The Galindo’s must have had some sort of stranglehold on the horror genre back then there as they’ve put out some pretty excellent movies. Pedro Galindo III also has a couple other movies on my radar, ‘Panico en la Montana’ and the sequel to ‘Vacations of Terror’. So if you’re longing for something different in the horror genre, take a trip to Mexico in the 1980s and make sure to check out ‘Trampa Infernal’. There’s a whole treasure trove of cool horror films just waiting to be discovered by American audiences from our friendly neighbors. So you heard it here first Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow, whoever! Jump on this one ASAP as it’s another true forgotten cult classic..
Revisiting ‘MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D’ on My New Big ASS TV!!
Yowza!! On Thanksgiving I decided to finally check out my “Bloody Valentine 3-D” DVD on my new giant TV. At least for me it’s quite big measuring in at 50 inches, it’s one of those new ones that spies on you for the government! But oh well that’s life in 2020, as long as the thing is BIG who cares right? I also have to note it’s NOT a 3D TV, so I was watching it from a relatively old dvd with the old school blue and red glasses.
Anyway I originally saw the movie back in theaters when it was released in 2009 and boy was it a bloody good time, the crowd was literally going wild at the insane 3-D effects and this one being the first of the new wave of 3-D films it was designed to awe audiences. Back when we had theaters to go to, it seems like every movie for a while was being released in 3-D and really didn’t have much to offer except a few too many extra bucks to your damn ticket price. So with my new TV I decided it was time to see if this flick held up or if the 3-D even worked at all as the DVD came with those classic old red and blue glasses they used to give you back in the 80s!
Before this the only movies I’ve ever seen in 3-D were ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ which was shown on TV back in the 80s and also I was lucky enough to see ‘Jaws 3’ in 3D in the theater as a kid with my older brother along with ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street- Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare ‘ with the wild 3-D ending. Anyway to my surprise I was pretty damn impressed with what a second at home viewing of ‘My Bloody Valentine 3-D’ had to offer on DVD on my new Big Ass TV. I’d say with confidence, If you’ve never seen this one you should probably check it out ASAP!!
Bonkers Brazillian Supernatural Slasher Trailer: ‘SKULL: The MASK’!
I’ve been looking around for interesting movies during the lockdown and this one definitely looks like it’s got potential if you’re into crazy gooey practical fx and supernatural slashers. ‘Skull: The Mask’ comes from Brazil and the trailer looks pretty damn promising!
We follow the story of an ancient relic in the from of a creepy ass mask that turns it’s wearer into a rampaging maniac that looks like he just had a successful audition for GWAR!
“In the year 1944, an artifact is used in a military experiment. The artifact is the Mask of Anhangá, the executioner of Tahawantinsupay, a Pre-Columbian God. The experience fails. Nowadays, the Mask arrives at Sao Paulo. The Mask possesses a body and starts to commit visceral sacrifices on vengeance for the incarnation of its God, initiating a blood bath. The policewoman Beatriz Obdias is in charge of the crimes, challenging her beliefs”
Check this one out Horror hounds it looks like a ton of fun!
VHS Verdict: 1980’s Japanese Robot Craziness – CYBER NINJA & MIKADROID!!!
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.
Best of VHS Box Art: ‘Creepers’ Still Makes My Skin Crawl!!!
It’s always great when you find a movie with cover art from the 1980’s that is just as awesome as the actual movie, it really doesn’t happen all that often. But today I wanted to showcase some vhs box art that’s just as killer as the actual movie. I watched for the first time Dario Argento’s ‘Phenomena’, the 116 minute cut the other night and it still stands as my fave Argento movie. Previously I’d only seen the heavily edited USA cut of the movie called ‘Creepers’ on VHS. One I distinctly remember back in the 80’s oogling at in the video stores as a kid like some forbidden fruit! It’s such a great piece of horror art and it inspired me to post an image of it today! Totally Metal too!!!! Iron Maiden & Motorhead! whoohoo!
VHS Verdict: The Deadly Ballads of 1989’s ‘EXECUTIONER: The Musical’!!
Last nite I picked up quite an interesting new VHS release at Portland Oregon’s Tanker Tape Swap, a great event where you can have drinks a’ plenty while doing some serious rare retro movie shopping! Black Wideo, a new Portland based VHS label was there with their first release, the 1989 oddball, no budget, shot on video, long lost horror comedy ‘Executioner: The Musical’.
One thing I’ve always adored is the amazing cover art from vhs tapes of the 80’s and ‘Executioner: The Musical’ surely delivers that tradition with it’s stunning cover, bbq’d burgers and grilled eyeballs anyone? If I didn’t know better I’d have assumed this tape was released in the 80’s and someone just unearthed a big box of deadstock vhs. Anyway this morning before work I popped this sucker into my vcr (the movie’s only 25 minutes long and perfect for breakfast viewing) and now I’ve got it’s theme song stuck firmly in my brain still, hours later. What we’ve got here is a charming little slice of lost 80’s video nostalgia. The simple plot for this: there’s a weird singing hooded executioner dude on the loose and his presence in the city’s got the suburban teens undie’s in a total bundle. It’s NOT safe anymore to walk the streets and even worse the teenagers aren’t able to ‘party hardy’ like they used to. It seems the killer’s favorite time to strike, when a ‘killer’ party is going down!
One of the my favorite parts of this one is the bad boy greaser teen character, who’s down right P.O.’d that he can’t party. I mean he’s reeeeally upset about it, so damn much so that he leads the rest of his pals (who’re a bit like rejects from a ‘Breakfast Club’ audition) into a full on ridiculously awesome numbskull “pop song” about how bad they wanna throw a damn party, immediately. Even though the music here’s pretty much a guy and his acoustic guitar (with some help from his friends at times), the songs are oddly catchy, albeit 100% idiotic. I mean that in a good way and being that the short film is from the late 80’s you get some sweet nostalgic fashion choices and fully over the top teen stereotypes on display (and for some reason spotting vintage Doritos bags in movies always seem to get me quite excited-YUM!) . Like the rich kid with his boat shoes, no socks, short shorts & English accent, the stoner druggie dude & the classic nerd with the taped glasses are all on display and ready to get sliced up and even “sing” some songs.
‘Executioner: The Musical’ may not be for everyone, but if you dig weird stuff from the 80’s and low budget oddities you’re likely to find something quite endearing about it. For horror fans there’s enough red kool-aid and corn syrupy blood to go around & a syringe to the skull as well! With such a short run time it’s hardly a commitment & it’s the perfect opener for a night of trashy retro horror movies. Check out Black Wideo for a copy, it seems they’ve got plans to release more from the director, Scott Grenke’s archive of lost films! Beware though, the film’s theme song “Friendly Killer” just might get stuck in your head for far longer than you ever thought possible!
VHS Verdict: 1990’s Undead Frat Boys & Slimy Little Puppet Devils!!
I had a little double feature “party by myself” last night consisting of me, a bottle of wine, my cat, some weed and two horror flicks from the late early 90s. Always in hopes of discovering a lost and forgotten gem! This can result in one helluva fun evening alone or an early night drifting off on the couch to some boring cinematic trash. Luckily for the most part it was the first. I started my first glass of wine off with a movie from 1990 called ‘Pledge Night’.
I’ve been wanting to check this one forever, mostly because I’d heard that Joey Belladonna from legendary thrash metal band ‘Anthrax’ had a role as the supernatural slasher ‘Acid Sid’ and his band even provided the film’s soundtrack. Unfortunately the measly minute and a half he actually appears and the bad ass metal soundtrack his band drummed up doesn’t make this a lost 80s horror gem. Pledge Night instead spends most of it’s run time being a dumb frat boy comedy. Basically putting it’s characters through ‘Hell Week’ in a series of gross out initiations for the first hour. By the time the horror aspect kicks in it’s a bit too late in the game and “Acid Sid”, the evil supernatural hippie frat boy fails to deliver the scares despite being a pretty cool looking villain. Instead he cracks lame one liners after each of his kills and we come to find Joey Belladonna doesn’t even actually play the character in his hideous slasher form but rather in a short flashback. There’s a few neat gore scenes sprinkled amidst the potty humor but overall Pledge Night fails to deliver much of anything entertaining to the table. It merely left me wondering what connection Anthrax actually had to this damn movie? If this’d been the second feature I’d have probably tapped out early on the couch for some zzz’s.
Next up was a 1993 horror flick called ‘Little Devils: The Birth’ from the director of 80’s cult film ‘Rawhead Rex’, starring Marc Price who played ‘Skippy” on ‘Family Ties’ and also starred in the awesome ‘Trick R’ Treat’.
Luckily this one had a better cast & some pretty likable characters to at least keep me invested in the ridiculous plot. It basically plays out as a second rate ‘Ghoulies’ knock off but fortunately had enough charm to justify staying up well past midnight to polish off the rest of the bottle of wine. We follow Price’s character,a struggling writer who rents a room from his crazy sex-obsessed older landlady and shares the house with his weird ass neighbor who’s up all night creating demon dolls from some glowing sludge from the local mausoleum. He also meets a beautiful exotic dancer and the two of them fall “madly” in love while simultaneously discovering that evil “little devils” are running rampant, killing people around his rental unit. This by no means is a good movie, it appears to have been shot on video, the special effects are pretty atrocious & it’s run time is about 20 minutes too long.
All that being said it somehow managed to keep me entertained for it’s entire damn duration. The comedy works here quite well and there’s definitely some decent chemistry amongst it’s cast. The little devil’s themselves are nothing to write home about and are probably the least exciting thing about this movie. They for some reason run around killing people with miniature flame throwers and in comparison make the puppets in the ‘Ghoulies’ look like academy award winning works of special fx wizardry. However despite it’s flaws this ‘Little Devils: The Birth’ had enough going for it to recommend for at least one solid viewing. At the end of the day Marc Price makes it worth an hour and forty minutes of any fan a trashy cinema’s time.