Tagged: Special Effects

4th Best Star Wars Movie ‘Ewoks: Battle for Endor’ Now on Disney Plus!

Ohhhhhhh yeah! Ewoks haters take note-The 4th best Star Wars movie, after the Original Trilogy (or if you’re a prequel fan it might be the 7th best Star Wars movie), has arrived on Disney Plus! Yes 1985’s almost forever lost and forgotten ‘Ewoks: Battle for Endor’ is now on the streaming service along with it’s much inferior prequel ‘Caravan of Courage’. Many OT fans have been severely disappointed by the the “Sequel Trilogy” and have only recently found solace in The Mandalorian, but ‘Battle for Endor’ is OG Star Wars all the way. To give it even more street cred than the “Sequel Trilogy” it was actually written by Star Wars creator himself George Lucas. The whole vibe of the movie screams of the Original Trilogy. 

There’s a surprisingly dark little story at the heart of ‘The Battle for Endor’ and whether you like it or not, OT character Wicket is iconic, played by Warwick Davis once again, is back for a feature length adventure. It’s filled with all the cool creatures, special effects, weird settings and even some of the heart of OT Star Wars that was largely missing in the “Sequel Trilogy”. We’re also treated to some very colorful villains and FYI the creatures in which Nick Nolte’s brilliant character Kuiil rides around in the desert (called Blurrgs), make their first appearance in this Ewok Adventure.

Yeah, thanks John Favreau, I know you too are a fan of Battle for Endor! This also features the late great Wilfred Brimley in a surprisingly spry action packed role. So if you’ve been craving 80’s Star Wars and have never seen this sweet little gem of a movie, by all means now’s the time to check it out! I’m personally hoping that maybe this will inspire a Disney Plus Ewoks series, we can see what the hell the older wiser Wicket has been up to and of course get Warwick in the role!

Mexico’s Sweet Forgotten 80’s Horror Franchise: “VACATION OF TERROR”!

                          

Are you truly ready for a 1980’s “Vacation of Terror” to Mexico?!! Nope. this ain’t Cancun folks, this here is a sweet horror franchise that started in 1989, starring legendary south of the border pop star turned B-movie horror icon Pedro Fernandez. Yes the lesser known Fernandez, appears to be a sort of “Ricky Martin-type” singer, who started his music career at the tender age of seven and later in the 80’s had a string of rad horror flicks like Trampa Infernal, Panic on the Mountain & this two part creep-out, Vacation of Terror (1&2). Check out his music as a kid when he went by the name Pedrito Fernandez:

1989’s Vacation of Terror is a pretty sweet little horror flick that follows a wealthy family’s visit to the countryside to fix up a crusty old cabin in the woods. Along for the ride is teen daughter’s hot shot occult investigating BF Pedro Fernandez along with his impressive mullet! The family starts to notice a few truly strange things happening in and around the property, and their youngest daughter soon falls down into a creepy ass well. Oddly there’s no water down there, but rather what seems to be some sort of lived in cavern den, with a freaky old doll and a few other odd antiques scattered about. Of course the daughter wants the weird ass doll, so they bring it up to the cabin where it begins to have an evil mind of it’s own that starts to manipulate and possess the young girl.

Good thing Pedro is there to combat the evil forces because this doll is hell bent on destroying the family and any furniture in the way of her telekinetic powers. You’ll see this doll’s evil eyes whisk from side to side about a hundred times as she “uses her powers” and her schtick does get a bit tired by the finale, but still strangely satisfying. However it’s imperative to see this first movie to set you up for the far superior sequel, where only one cast member returns-of course Pedro Fernandez!

1990’s ‘Vacation of Terror: Diabolical Birthday’ (directed by Pedro Galindo III who also did the excellent Trampa Infernal) is one helluva good time-but oddly there’s no damn vacation going on anywhere here. But that’s ok, we’ve got a wild ass halloween themed birthday party to attend instead this time! The best thing is Pedro returns, now a single man (who maybe had enough of the family’s creepy cabin and odd shenanigans), who runs an antique shop and meets by chance a cute lady pop star, Mayra who’s played by real life Mexican pop star Tatiana who wanders in. After some chit chat she ends up inviting him to attend a party later and when she’s about to split he notices a her little sister in the back seat of her car holding the same creepy ass doll from the first movie! Naturally Pedro swings into action at the sight and has a new reason to attend other than being crushed out on his sweet date-to fight evil! Of course part of the fun is to go to the party, where it’s either taking place on Halloween or the little girl just loves horror decor. We also get a super sweet performance from Tatiana of course doing her sweet hit song “Chicos Chicos” check it!

 Luckily Pedro gets there just in time to see her rock out! However there’s bigger fish to fry as he’s hot on the trail of the doll. However the there’s a wild birthday cake that just by “chance” gets some blood on it and soon the creepy living doll goes missing and eats the blood soiled cake, transforming it into human sized demon that resembles Angelica Huston’s wicked persona in “The Witches” mixed with Freddy Krueger.

From this point on the creature is out to terrorize all the party goers and it’s now up to Pedro & Tatiana to stop evil from spreading and maybe even find some romance? This one is a lot more fun then the first installment, it’s got a lot more going on, faster paced and a bit of a more playful element at it’s core . However director Pedro Galindo doesn’t skimp on the horror, there’s some great gore and colorful kills to behold as well as the setting. The decaying old deserted Mexican village they end up being chased around in is an excellent place for the spooky shenanigans to occur.

While some may say this is the Mexican “Troll 2” I just think it’s yet another super fun, campy horror movie that fans of the 80’s have got to check out. These two movies certainly need to receive a cleaned up blu ray release with some sweet special features. Otherwise horror fans will certainly miss out, these days it feels like a company like ‘Vinegar Syndrome’ releasing these unknowns gems gives them a sort of sudden street cred/seal of approval. Well you heard it here first though, before the ‘Vacation of Terror’ blu rays are suddenly all the rage-get ahead of the curve and head back to the 80’s to take your own “Vacation of Terror” to Mexico before all the tourists arrive!! You can get it on dvd as a double feature right here at World Cult Cinema!     

 

Underrated Halloween Movie Pick from Japan: 1990’s ‘Hiruko The Goblin’!

‘Hiruko The Goblin’ from 1990 has got to be one of the best horror movies from Japan I’ve ever seen. It hits all the right beats for me in what I personally love from the late 80’s early 90’s genre movies. Directed by the iconic Shinya Tsukamoto, most well known for his epic, bizarre cyber punk horror oddity ‘Tetsuo: the Iron Man’ he delivers another slam dunk here a couple years after with this. However, this particular movie of his has gotten a lot of criticism for being so totally different from ‘Tetsuo’. Haruko spends more time on character development, humor and over the top monsters, as well as a heavy dose of heart. For me this is a much better formula than the grimy bleak mood of most of this directors other work.

This plays out way more like ‘Evil Dead 2’ meets ‘The Ghostbusters’ then his cyberpunk Cronenbergian/ David Lynch tinged outings. The story is simple yet truly bizarre: a school has literally been built on a gate to Hell behind which hordes of demons await the moment they will be freed to wreak havoc on the physical plane. Hiruko is a powerful and cunning creature sent to Earth on a reconnaissance mission, he decapitates humans in order to assemble their heads on demonic spider like bodies and command them to do his wicked deeds. Eventually this gory predicament falls into the lap of an archaeology professor, who’s dramn to the abandoned school during summer time to investigate the supernatural shenanigans and stop this demonic onslaught.

One of my favorite aspects of this movie are the two protagonists a teenage high school student and his odd demon-lore obsessed archeologist uncle. When the boy’s father goes missing while exploring the caverns beneath the school, his eccentric uncle arrives on the scene to help him search the school armed with some nifty demon busting equiptment. From here it leads them on an epic surreal journey facing off with creatures in the creepy empty corridors of the school. It also explores family dynamics, all with a slightly light-hearted comedic edge to it amidst the mayhem.

The other big star of the show here is most definitely the special-effects showcased, if you’re a fan of 80s monster movies this one will definitely be right up your alley Hiruko and his minions are a true sight to behold and the director uses almost every 80’s style effect in the book to bring them to life. From animatronics to stop motion animation, it’s all here and the creepy aesthetics and setting of the film are the perfect place for this all to unfold. Also the movie’s got a relatively lean run time I’d less than 90 minutes, so it’s not something that’s going to put you to sleep. A true visual treat as well, with a little bit of everything for everyone. It’s ambitious horror film from what I consider the tail end of the golden age of the genre that more audiences in the U.S.A need to view. A cross between Ghostbusters, Evil Dead II, Poltergeist & The Thing done by way of Japanese brilliance. Also a perfect movie for this Halloween season that you might not have seen before! Physical copies of this can be pricey and hard to track down but I’m certain it must be streaming somewhere?! This need a deluxe blu ray release badly!!

 

Hong Kong Halloween: 1987’s ‘Vampire’s Breakfast’ is FANG-tastic!

This Halloween I’m gonna make a few obscure retro foreign horror movie recommendations that you may have missed out on from that oh so sweet era of the genre: the 1980’s! I just checked out a rad little Hong Kong Horror movie from 1987 called ‘Vampire’s Breakfast’!!

This forgotten little horror gem is a load of fun with a heapin’ dose of spooky settings, comedy, romance and action in the way that only Hong Kong cinema delivered back in the day. I really enjoyed how for the most part this one plays the horror pretty straight, keeping the all too usual Hong Kong “slapstick potty humor” out of the equation entirely. For me some of the 80’s Hong Kong stuff can be completely ruined by crappy potty humor and comedy that just plain hasn’t aged well (and keep in mind I’m not normally easily offended either). Nope, here we have a cool cast of characters and genuinely nasty “American/European” style vamp on the loose rather than the traditional Chinese hopping kind. We’ve got some funky footage of Hong Kong in the 80’s here and totally sweet fashion of the era in full swing.

The iconic Kent Cheng stars as a newspaper reporter who’s hot on the trail of a serial killer and after poking around a police crime scene begins to suspect that the killer might actually be a living breathing vampire. No one takes him seriously except a boozed up car stereo thief, who he reluctantly teams up with to track down the suspected bloodsucker. Along the way though he interviews one of the killer’s victims who barely escaped with her life, the oh soooo cute Emily Chu looking as stylee as ever.

Of course it’s love at first sight and we’re then treated to a full on 80’s style Hong Kong “John Hughs” cheezy romance, which is a total charm amidst the horror. The thing I really dig about this is movie, are the horror elements, unafraid to get nasty when it needs to as well as some action sequences that can be pretty exciting as well. No kung fu here though, which is kind of nice actually as it plants this one in a more believable horror setting, but that’s not to say the portly Kent Cheng can’t deliver the kicks, check out 1989’s ‘Vampire Buster’ to see his skills.

There’s a lot to love here if you’re looking for something different this Halloween, the vampire here is plenty fierce as well. He’s got a pretty sinister look and raises plenty of Hell on the foggy streets of Hong Kong. There’s also some unexpected moments of gore as well that ramp things up nicely in the finale. I’d say this one definitely deserves more love and most definitely a cleaned up blu ray release with more fleshed out subtitles. A colorful, creepy tale full of endearing characters and a brisk pace make this one standout viewing this Halloween for those who love uncovering hidden gems from horror’s sweet spot era of the 1980’s.

VHS Verdict: ‘DON’T PANIC’ the 80’s Mexican Ouija Board Pajama Party Nightmare!

I’ve been on a kick lately of trying to find lost movie gems from the 1980’s, mostly searching for foreign horror flicks from that era. It’s been pretty fun finding a ton of cool Hong Kong stuff and more recently discovering an awesome 80’s horror director from Mexico named Ruben Galindo Jr. The first of his horror movies I checked out was 1985’s ‘Cemetery of Terror’ and that got me hot on the tracks of the rest of his horror output of that era. So far he’s got a great track record, as Cemetery of Terror is ton of fun, a blend of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Carpenter’s Halloween & The Goonies. Well ‘Don’t Panic’ from 1987 is just as entertaining but in a far more ridiculous manner. It’s like a blend of Witchboard, Nightmare on Elm Street 2 with a dash of D-level John Hughes. I mean that in the best way as it’s the perfect flick to watch with a gang of ravenous cinefiles on a Saturday nite!

It’s main character the very whiny, curly blonde, seventeen year old american mama’s boy named Michael who’s forced to move to Mexico City to live with his alcoholic mother. On his seventeenth birthday his gang of irritating teen morons throw him a terrible party where they fully embarrass him in front of his school crush, peer pressure him to get totally wasted & eventually coax him into using a ouija board. Of course weird shit goes down and soon he’s seeing nightmarish visions of violent murders being committed all over the city nightly. While this consumes most of his time, he’s also falling head over heels in love with one of his lovely classmates. The two skip class one day an go on the greatest ridiculously awesome 80’s date ever put to screen while he takes her all over town on his bmx bike. Yeah life seems just perfect but of course he’s plagued by even more bizarre visions of murder, his eyes begin turn blood red forcing him to don sunglasses & avoid the new love of his life. Things get so crazy that he’s unable to sleep, but crazier yet, he begins to roam the streets in a pair of unbelievable dinosaur pajamas that are suited for a 6 year old! It’s one of my favorite things about this movie, those infamous PJ’s!! Best yet is that he spends probably 3/4ths of the film proudly donning them! All I wanna know is where the hell can I find a pair of those for myself?!!

Ok so this ones clearly a ton of idiotic fun, they even have a sort of Freddy Kruger type supernatural slasher dude named…..VIRGIL! He loves to taunt Michael and forces him on a wild spooky goose chase (in his PJ’s of course). This movie bleeds the 1980’s in it’s style and special effects work, modestly executed by FX master Screamin’ Mad George (Predator/ Nightmare on Elm Street 3/ Society)! Unlike ‘Cemetery of Terror’, this one’s in English (though it’s clear there’s some serious dubbing at times for certain actors) but still shows the charm of Mexico in the 1980’s, something I truly appreciate here. It’s filled with tons of ridiculous dialogue, over top bad acting and stands up there with some of the most fun the genre had to offer from it’s US counterparts.             

                                                                                               

  Galindo’s got a few other horror films I need to check out still, but this far in I’m starting to think he must be come sort of cult horror director in Mexico? He clearly had his finger on the pulse of cheezy, fully entertaining 80’s horror and I really think more horror fans here in the USA should be aware of his movies. They can be a bit hard to find physical copies of but luckily ‘Don’t Panic’ has been posted on Youtube if you wanna check it out that way. If you want a physical copy you can find it on Twistedanger.com a site filled with super hard to find cult flicks!! Check it out!

VHS Verdict: ‘976-EVIL 2’ Deserves Some Serious Love!

l’m BACK & I never saw this one coming: for some reason I decided it was time to finally check out ‘976-EVIL Part 2: The Astral Factor’, which I’ve literally been putting off for years & what a sweet little horror flick indeed! I like part two so much I’d say it’s definitely more fun than the original. There’s a big difference here in directorial duties, the first installment featured horror legend Robert “Freddy” Englund in the director’s chair for the first of only two times, while part 2 features Jim ‘Chopping Mall’ Wynorski. Yeah Wynorski being at the helm here immediately got me amped, as he’s done some pretty undeniably awesomely cheezy 80’s flicks besides just Chopping Mall. A few of my favorites like Return of the Swamp Thing, Hard To Die, Not of This Earth, Sorority House Massacre 2 & Deathstalker 2, so it’s no surprise really that 1991’s ‘976-EVIL 2’ delivers a similar formula only this time we find him playing the horror a bit more straight, at least in by his standards like he did in ‘Chopping Mall’.

We’ve got one of the the stars of the first movie back as well, Patrick O’Brien returns as ‘Spike’, who now roams the back roads of the USA ridin’ on his bad ass chopper, clad in tuff black leather. Yep a total “bad ass dude” for sure after the events of the last installment…That evil phone number is out there, still tormenting people randomly, calling pay phones & a college professor ends up the prime target of evil when he picks up! Soon the local college campus is being terrorized by a crazy supernatural slasher & a curious student named Robin decides to take on the case. Of course bad ass Spike rolls into town on his hog looking for trouble, meeting Robin and immediately decides to help her sleuth out the case. 

One of my favorite aspects of the ‘976-Evil 2’ is the villain played by Rod McCary, the evil professor uses astral projection to hunt down his victims. Most of the movie he’s locked up in the county jail and uses his creepy supernaturally powered astral body to do the damn dirty work! He also utilizes the ‘976-Evil hotline’ to mess up the college kids and all of it is a ton of fun to behold. The movie opening sequence sets the perfect tone of schlocky fun that rarely lets up throughout it’s run time making this one a nice lean cheezy supernatural adventure. 

It’s surprisingly solid (and admittedly stupid quite often) with some really fun, spooky 80’s style fx I just can’t seem to get enuff of, some fairly ambitious action sequences and some good ol’ explosions. There’s also an excellent sequence where a college girl gets sucked into her TV set and arrives on the scenes of It’s a Wonderful Life & Night of the Living Dead that makes the movie worth a watch alone. Also expect a ton of babes n’ beefcakes, even a super kick ass cameo sequence by an ultra sexy, sultry Brigitte Nielson!

 

If you’re a Wynorski fan and haven’t checked this out I highly recommend, if you’re just looking for a great party horror flick this one a damn good choice! Who’d a thunk it?!

 

 

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!!

 

‘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…

 

 

 

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble: Sam Elliot vs Sasquatch?!!

I’m going to make a prediction here, that the upcoming horror drama adventure movie ‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot’ is going to be one of my favorite movies of 2019. This one looks like a ton of fun and it stars Sam Elliot in what appears to be one heckuva oddball adventure. Besides I’m willing to give most any movie that’s got the big hairy ape in it a fair shot. First check out this bad ass poster:

Check out the synopsis:

“The story follows a legendary American war veteran named Calvin Barr (Elliott / Turner) who, decades after serving in WWII and assassinating Adolf Hitler, must now hunt down the fabled Bigfoot. Living a peaceful life in New England, the former veteran is contacted by the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead the charge as the creature is carrying a deadly plague and is hidden deep inside the Canadian wilderness.”

This sounds right up my alley and although we didn’t get a glimpse of Bigfoot himself I’m hoping we get a fair amount of the hairy guy and a decent game of cat and mouse between him and Elliot. After doing a little poking around the rumor is the movie is much more of a character piece than a campy throw down with Sasquatch, that’s good to know ahead of time for me at least. This one comes out on Feb 8th 2019, check out the trailer: