Tagged: Special Effects

VHS Verdict 1987: ‘The Caller’ & The Art of the Twist Ending!

I checked out a perplexing VHS tape last night, ‘The Caller’, a “thriller” from 1987 starring Malcolm Mcdowell & Madolyn Smith. Now even though I’d been told this flick had a twist ending and even on the cover it boasts “a surprise ending”, somehow I’d just had no way of predicting what was gonna go down no matter how hard I tried during. That’s a pretty difficult task especially in this day and age. M Night Shyamalan eat your heart out. Warning, this one’s got a ton o’ dialogue and then some, oh boy and then some. At it’s beginning something is most definitely off with our two main characters and immediately my mind began racing to try to figure out just what the hell it could be. Basically it’s just two actors the entire movie and is a simple story about a woman who resides in an cabin out in the woods, who one dark night has a strange creeping man, Mcdowell, appear at her front door, claiming his car broke down and needs to use a phone.

From that point on both of these characters act in truly bizarre ways, they talk to each other about how they’d get away with murdering one another and at times actually get quite physical while doing so. There’s a ton of tense talk here and overacting a ‘plenty to behold from them both. The premise though startlingly simplistic and a bit absurd does a decent enough job of keeping you curious about where the fuck this one’s going to end up. It’s not the average “stalker” movie that the cover makes it out to be either, think more of an extended episode of The Twilight Zone instead. I’ve gotta admit the interesting thing about this one is that about an hour in I was getting a bit frustrated and had some serious doubts that things were going anywhere remotely interesting. There’s a lot of weird motive flip flopping amongst the two leads & at one point it almost seemed as if it might sharply go the erotic thriller route.

The odd banter at times can become quite tiresome but as the movie ended, I appreciated it and actually consider the lengthy chatty-ness of it all to make the finale that much more effective. Being a bit of a sleuth at the movie’s beginning I’d noticed a couple things that reinforced my will to stick it through to the end the first being the legendary horror b-movie bandit Charles Band was an executive producer, Richard Band did the music and also fx wizard John Carl Beuchler who’s know for his work on Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood (which is one of my faves), Nightmare on Elm St. 4: The Dream Master & Re-Animator was behind the fx work. These three things should give you enough of a reason to check this one out, if in fact the names mean anything to you. Definitely a hidden gem, that most definitely worth one solid viewing!! It also may deserve a quick re-watch to see if there perhaps are some clues amidst all the dialogue that may have really foreshadowed the movies bizarre ending. A neat-o 80’s low budget mind bender~

I couldn’t find a trailer for this one but here’s the whole damn movie if you’re feeling frisky!

 

 

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VHS Verdict 1991: ‘Cast A Deadly Spell’ – Forgotten Monster Noir!

Up until last night I’d never even heard of the HBO movie ‘Cast A Deadly Spell’ from 1991, but I was lucky enough to run across a VHS copy of this one recently. It immediately peaked my interest, the box had some quotes on it comparing it to ‘Ghostbusters’ & ‘Roger Rabbit’ with monsters instead of cartoons. Sign me up already! The movies a ton of fun and filled with some sweet totally 80’s style fx work as well as an equally impressive cast. It really perplexed me as to why I’d never even heard of this one as it’s something I would have totally dug back in ’91. Hey I think it’s better sometimes seeing a lost gem from way back in the modern era anyway…it takes me way back…

Anyway this cool movie stars Fred Ward as H.P. Lovecraft (seriously, how have I never heard of this movie?!) a private investigator, who hired to track down the legendary book, the Necronomicon. Lovecraft is one of the only people who’ve chosen not to use magic of any kind making his little quest all that much more difficult to accomplish. It’s a full on 40’s noir, placed in a time when witchcraft has been fully exposed to the general populace and things that go bump in the night are far more common than ever before. We’ve got a  bunch of neat monsters, werewolves & zombies along the way as well as an awesome scene with some pesky gremlins by way of rad old school puppetry. Hell, we even get a random unicorn that enters the equation into this unique little horror noir comedy.

There’s some cool scenes as well that up the movie’s horror factor with some impressive unexpected gore. There’s weird super powered gangsters, voodoo priests and plenty of that classic style animatronic monster mayhem to behold here. It’s also got it’s fair share of comedy though too and it in ways really is a bit like a horror version of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. Director Martin Campell went on to direct more recent stuff like the god awful ‘Green Lantern’ movie and ‘Casino Royale’. Along side Ward is also Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown & David Warner which is a pretty star studded cast for just how relatively forgotten this movie is today.

The movie spawned a sequel as well in 1994 but I haven’t heard to many good things about that one. There’s never been an official DVD release of the movie, but it certainly deserves one. The movie is available to watch on Amazon and a few other online platforms, so if you’re looking for a little lost nostalgia this one’s a cool little forgotten gem of a movie… 

Stranger Things: Please Use Practical Monster Effects!!

Stranger Things Season 2 finally dropped this Halloween and damn was it good! So much fun and such a total and complete trip down memory lane. The show plays off of the wonder filled nostalgia of the 80’s and almost perfectly captures the magic of movies like Poltergeist, E.T., The Goonies and The Lost Boys to name a few.

This show couldn’t possibly get any better at delivering the ever so sweet 1980’s cinematic magic could it?  Well I say it could do the job way better, after watching the second season it was apparent once again that this show could really up it’s game by ditching a lot of the shoddy CGI effects it uses for it’s monsters.

 

 

The show sure looks and feels like an 80’s Amblin flick, that is until they introduce us to the other worldly monsters. Then it quickly becomes very apparent it’s 2017 and that some questionable CG has entered my 80’s fantasy! So for season 3 of the show, I think they could do better, to really recreate that magic of old, it’s time for the show to incorporate practical creature effects! Puppetry, makeup, animatronics!

 

 

Imagine the creatures on the show if they had the feel of E.T., The Gremlins or Pumpkinhead?! The CG takes me out of the moment, the realism fades quickly and I imagine how much more effective the experience would really be if it just gave this tweak to say 75% of it’s fx work. That alone would give us the ultimate nostalgia trip, let’s face it, fans would go nuts for this and especially those who are real fans of the genre the show’s replicating. So help me spread this idea #strangerthings80sfx & Let’s demand that 80’s special effects magic be utilized for the next season!!!  They’ve come a long way with practical fx work and blending with CG or using CG to eliminate wires & puppeteers would take the show to a whole next level of 1980’s love….

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

5 Upcoming Movies You Gotta Be Pumped For!!

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

 

5. Dave Made a Maze (Out Now)

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

 

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

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

 

3. Early Man (January 26th, 2018)

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

 

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

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

 

 

1. The Terror of Hallow’s Eve (2017)

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

Big Trouble In Little China: Remake or Sequel?!

I heard recently that John Carpenter is co-writing an official sequel comic book series to his classic “Big Trouble in Little China” called “Old Man Jack”. It’s set in 2020 and follows the further adventures of the now 60 year old Jack Burton as he once again does battle with evil forces looking to conquer the Earth. Coming this September, this new series from Boom! Studios is getting the internet talking about getting Carpenter to adapt the comic to the big screen by long time fans. Sounds like a god damn bonafide slam dunk huh?!

Well not so fast movie maniacs! What a lot of people have forgotten is that 20th Century Fox has been threatening all of us fans of the original movie with a remake starring Duane “The Rock” Johnson as the new Jack Burton. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually like The Rock, but when it comes to the choice of a sequel to ‘Big Trouble’ with Kurt Russell at the very least written by Carpenter, it’s a no brainer. At the very least, give us the damn sequel first!! You can always reboot that shit later. I’d hope at this point Hollywood gets the very simple fact that people want sequels (done with integrity mind you) for their favorite movies rather than another throw away, cookie cutter, “here today gone tomorrow” remakes of a cult classic they keep servin’ us up. It should be proof enough with sequels to Star Wars, Blade Runner & tv shows like Ash vs Evil Dead that prove people don’t really want a full on remake. They want the story to continue. The solution to the problem at hand is simple, just add Duane Johnson to the damn cast of the sequel, have him team up with Kurt Russell! DUH! Continue reading

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

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

Here’s the crazy synopsis:

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

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

 

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