Tagged: special fx
‘VIOLENT NIGHT’: A Killer Santa You Can Really Root For!
As far as modern holiday horror goes there’s a clear over abundance of yuletide garbage out there being mass produced as of the last 10 years. I don’t know what triggered it but it seems every year the floodgates open with a slew of sub par cinematic Christmas sludge. Well this year we’ve got a killer Santa Claus movie, but this time with a Kris Kringle that you can really get behind with some holiday cheer!
From director Tommy Wirkola, who helmed the highly entertaining “Dead Snow” franchise and also the equally enjoyable ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’. ‘Violent Night’ is easily just as fun as his previous films, part Die Hard, part Home Alone with a little bit of Santa’s Slay thrown into the mix for good measure. We get the real deal Santa Claus who’s feeling a bit down on his luck getting thrown into a truly “violent night”. He’s forced to use his unique supernatural yuletide abilities to defend a wealthy family trapped in their mansion from a gang of vicious criminals led by John Leguizamo!
Santa though has gotta sober up quickly, as he spent most of the evening drinking at a dive bar rather than delivering presents to kids on his “nice” list this Christmas eve. However all the action doesn’t necessarily fall just on Santa’s shoulders, we also have a little girl named Trudy played by Leah Brady who’s hell bent on helping Santa and her family annihilate the greedy criminals as well from inside the mansion.
That’s where the “Home Alone” aspect of this film really takes shape and boy does it deliver some bloody boobie traps! Brady is totally charming in the role and really helps make this little adventure memorable. Like much the director’s previous work this one is equal part comedy as well as action while managing to not let anything slip into a total farce. Yes, there’s plenty of legitimate thrills to be had here and really fun colorful characters that really help drive this film. John Leguizamo shines as the big baddie and it’s been soooo long since I’ve seen him, his presence was truly a welcome addition to the mayhem. David Harbour though steals the show as Santa Claus, I’ve always felt he has a special onscreen charisma and it really continues to shine here in the role. There’s also some pretty neat little twists and turns in the plot, some concerning Santa himself that makes for a uniquely intriguing back story to jolly ol’ elf.
What was most surprising was the inclusion of Beverly D’Angelo (of Christmas Vacation fame), who for the 1st quarter of the movie I was left scratching my head trying to figure out where I’d recognized her from? It’s been so long since I’ve seen her in anything and she does look quite different these days. It’s quite nice to see some of these actors in a major motion picture this holiday season!
The action sequences are also really well choreographed and filled with some pretty over the top gore, Violent Night definitely doesn’t skimp on the red stuff! There’s a lot to love here and the movie also showcases a fair amount of heartfelt family holiday drama, it’s not simply just another hack and slash.
I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen and I definithey will be returning to it next year if not maybe one more time in the theater this year! Violent Night is THE wild holiday flick of 2022, Don’t snooze on this one!
LOVE AND MONSTERS: A Sweet Escape from Reality into the Monsterpocalypse?!
One of the sweetest, feel good movies in recent memory, ‘Love & Monsters’ came as a totally welcome surprise! And that’s all being said as someone who’s normally pretty tough on newer horror/fantasy/sci fi movies. Love & Monsters which came out last year may not have the most original plot but it more than makes up for any shortcomings with its impressive special effects and it’s truly heartwarming adventure. I guess I’d at first glance describe this as having somewhat of a “Zombieland” type of a thing going on and it might be easily dismissed as just some wimpy copycat. On the contrary, Love and Monsters buries ‘Zombieland’ (and especially the sequel), with what I think are just plain more likable characters who embark a much more compelling and colorful adventure in general.
Roughly seven years after the Earth was subjected to a mysterious monster invasion, the rather cowardly Joel Dawson has been living underground with a small pod of people trying to avoid what lurks above. He spends his time reconnecting over the radio with his high school girlfriend, Aimee, whom he was separated from when the tragedy hit and also cooking his signature soup for his crew. When the feelings of isolation and cabin fever finally get the best him he decides to muster up the courage to head to the world above. Seeking to finally reunite with his lost love who resides 80 miles away at a coastal colony, as he surmises that there’s nothing really left for him underground anymore. As he heads out alone he soon realizes he’s hardly prepared for the dangers all around him in the outside world. Mutant monsters are hungry and lurking around nearly every corner.
One of the high points here is the inclusion of charming canine character named “Boy”. Lifting a bit from ‘A Boy and his Dog’ (minus the weird sex plot) in a much sweeter way, we get the best of both world’s here for this little apocalyptic adventure. ‘Boy’ proves to be the show stealer here imo and his bond with Joel makes dealing with the dangers a bit less frightening, all things considered. The two make an excellent team against the creatures and it’s clear that they both need each other more than they likely ever realized for piece of mind in a crazy world. He also meets a few other interesting characters, a pair of wandering scavengers, Michael Rooker along with the ruff and tumble little girl named ‘Minnow’. Joel soon learns the tricks of the trade from them and has to make a big decision on the outcome of his journey. One of the best scenes involves a strange AI intelligence, who brings even more unexpected meaning to his travels.
The whole thing is a great exercise in escapism during these real life uncertain times we all face at the moment. It also shows just how important real human (and animal) connections will hopefully always be to us here on the planet as we move forward. As we’re feeling isolated to certain degrees currently, Love and Monsters showcases some parallels to the current state of affairs. I guess we can all at least be relieved that big mutant monsters aren’t waiting to chomp us to bit when we head outside at least?
Let me get to the monsters here as well, I was half expecting some sort of chintzy fx work here to spoil the damn party. Not the case, the creatures here though mostly CGI are a treat to behold and for the most part are pretty convincing threats to our heroes. As a HUGE fan of monster movies I think it hits that sweet spot quite nicely. There’s also some cool plot twists and of course some admittedly hokey ones that otherwise might not have worked without such strong characters at the forefront. If you’re looking for “Calgon to take you away” (80’s kids you know the reference) from the worries of the real world, I can’t think of a better new fantasy adventure flick to visit than ‘Love and Monsters’, easily one of my faves of 2020!
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.
VHS Verdict: 1991’s ‘Children of the Night’ is a Forgotten Horror Gem!
Been on a VHS binge lately watching tons of old forgotten movies, some are of course are steamin’ turds but every now and again you come across something that’s a total delight! I ran across a copy of 1991’s ‘Children of the Night’ and was fairly certain it was again going to be another crapper, however this one proved to be a totally sweet romp of a horror comedy. I’m a giganto fan of 80’s horror and this one while being from 91′ has still got that great old school vibe and charm coming off the tail end of 1980’s. In my opinion a lot of flicks up through 1994 more or less continue to keep that feel in tact. That being said, I had a good feeling about this one when I’d seen that Peter Deluise of ’21 Jump Street” fame was billed as the star, I watched the shit out of that show as a kid in the 80’s and he was one of my favorite characters from the series for sure. Then I noticed Karen Black also starred and then that the director was Tony Randel of ‘Hellraiser 2’ & ‘Ticks’ fame.
Well I’m pleased to say from the start of this one (which I found out later was actually a Fangoria production) it fully delivered the goods and then some in all the ways I’d hoped for. Playing much more like a horror comedy we get a sweet little story of of teenage girl played by Ami Dolenz (also in ‘Ticks’ from 1993) who lives in a small town and accidentally awakens a wicked vampire lord while swimming in an underground pond below a church. Yeah that’s what she and her buddy do for fun…..well schoolteacher played by Peter Deluise later comes to town to see what’s up and ends up in the thick of a vampire attack where he teams up with the teen girl and a local town drunken preacher played by vinatge SNL alumni Garrett Morris. I gotta say when he arrived it was the icing on the damn cake, he’s known also as “Chocolate Chip Charlie” from the horror classic ‘The Stuff’ from 1985 and in this movie he drives around town at night drinkin’ mad amounts of whiskey in a crazy van that’s got a giant glowing cross spear mounted on the front it it to impale vampires with. By that point in the movie I was already in, but this solidified the deal for sure.
At the end of the ‘Children of the Night’ day plays a bit like ‘Evil Dead 2’ none of it can be taken too seriously but it’s not a full on spoof either. There’s a lot of cool FX work going on here as well as cool spooky inventive sets and locations. It’s a neat little horror adventure that’s not afraid to add some heart to it either. A lot like gory teen horror comedy that’d fit quite nicely along with 80’s cult classics like ‘Vamp’, ‘Critters’ or the highly underrated ‘Night Life’ from 1989. There’s also some cool ass action sequences and you also get some Karen Black super weird vampire lung moments to ponder upon! If you’re looking for some super fun lost nostalgia to watch with a gang of movie maniacs ‘Children of the Night’ is a prime choice in my opinion!
PLAYTIME: Chucky’s Killer Doll Counterpart Vs. Modern Cinema!
Here’s something that’s truly perfect for the Halloween season at hand and any fan of the Child’s Play franchise alike. Studio ADI who are known most for their amazing practical & animatronic monster FX through out the years presents this new short web series about a creepy doll actor who plays a killer doll named “Billy” and stars in a “Child’s Play” like 80’s movie franchise.
Down on his luck doll actor Billy has seen better days during the 80’s and when he today finds out that his franchise is getting a reboot without he’s determined to make things right! Much like what’s actually going on currently with the Child’s Play franchise which itself is indeed getting a full fledged reboot, ditching the original look of Chucky and basically wiping the slate clean of everything that came before it, including Brad Dourif & Don Mancini. Each episode is only a few minutes long but it’s definitely worth it, as it indeed features some truly stunning practical fx work and an intriguing, meta look at the killer doll/hollywood reboot treatment of some of our most beloved and cherished franchises!! There’s now three mini (no puns intended) episodes out now-Check it!!
Save ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ & Support ‘Season 3’ For Real!!!
It seems our ol’ pal Ash Williams might be in need of our help, Season 3 of ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ just recently kicked off & it seems there’s a serious possibility that the show may not be renewed for ‘Season 4’ by Starz. The show is one of the most pirated out there meaning all of us Evil Dead fans haven’t really been supporting the return of Bruce Campbell in the way he’d hoped we would. I’m fully up to date having just finished watching the most current episode of season 3. I’ve at the moment got a free 7 day trial for Starz, that’ll be over in a couple days and I’m planning on getting a membership at least for a month to watch the rest of the show. I figure $8.99 is way more than worth it for rest of the season, besides I spend more than that to see a movie at the theaters usually for a movie that wasn’t that all that good. So if you’re a real fan of the ‘Evil Dead’ franchise it just might be time to show up for real, cough up 9 bux and support Ash in his quest to stomp out evil!
Now onto season 3 thus far, upon watching the first episode, it felt a bit too familiar to season 2, Ash is now the hero of his small home town, everything seems to be peachy for him again and his companions (starting off a bit too much like the “Jacksonville paradise” season 2 first episode). Of course the Necronomicon appears again, someone recites it’s passages and ‘Deadites’ are back raising hell for the small quaint town. My only initial gripe was that we’re spending yet another season in Ash’s hometown, at least for now & I’d really have liked for Ash and his crew to have been sucked into another time warp similar to ‘Army of Darkness’ to really mix things up. However it was apparent my small gripe would soon be totally erased by just how bat shit crazy and fun everything quickly escalated to. So far season three just might be the best of them all, every episode delivers the wild and crazy gore, monsters & special fx fans have been clamoring for all these years. Continue reading
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!
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!
Movie Review: ‘The Void’ is a Total 80’s Throwback Nightmare!!
I was lucky enough to be able to check out the latest 1980’s throwback monster movie ‘The Void’ at the Hollywood Theater here in Portland Oregon last night. I’m pretty fucking stoked that I’m so close to one of the coolest theaters in the country that’s constantly giving us here alternatives to the huge Hollywood blockbusters continuously cranked out. If you’re ever in Portland I highly suggest checking out this place as it always has several incredibly unique events and movies happening there. But I digress, The Void was definitely a thrill to see on the big screen!
I’ve been waiting for this one for quite a while and right now it’s showing all across the country at select theaters. If you’re a fan of classic 1980’s horror flicks like ‘The Thing’, ‘Reanimator’ & ‘Hellraiser’ you’re in for quite a treat. ‘The Void’ captures the look and feel of films like these with ease, similarly creating an incredibly unsettling sense of dread throughout. Seeing it at the particular venue I did intensified the experience, along with the fact I smoked some pot (hey it’s legal here now so get off my back!) before and I felt a little bit like I was transported back to simpler times when horror flicks were at the peak of their charm. It’s story is pretty simple at it’s surface, taking place almost entirely inside a lonely hospital during a graveyard shift. We meet a group of people whose quiet night soon becomes a descent into total madness as the hospital becomes surrounded by a weird ass masked cult dressed in white robes with black triangles displayed upon their hoods. Continue reading
The Suckling: The Weirdest Revenge Film Ever!
Damn! I recently found a rare copy of The Suckling (AKA Sewage Baby) from 1990 on vhs and it easily goes down as one of the most controversial schlock horror films of all time. This little weirdo of a movie give us a truly unsettling plot of revenge you’re likely not going to find anywhere else. So what makes this movie any different than any other horror movie? Well the dicey plot is surely going to offend a large number of folks, especially in 2017.
It goes something like this, a young couple considering having an abortion, heads off to an inner city brothel to contemplate this tough decision. Because of course that’s a great place to ponder things like this! Of course things don’t go quite as planned as the loser boyfriend who’s eagerly pressuring his girlfriend to go through with it arranges for her to meet with the head Mistress “Big Mama” to run through the details of the procedure. Well Mama has other plans as she drugs the young woman and orders one of her “employees” to help her go through with it without the woman’s consent. Totally normal stuff there huh?! Well they then proceed to flush the fetus down the toilet and we follow it’s journey as it arrives in the sewer, leading us to a pretty memorable horror movie moment. Pretty goddamn weird huh? I’ve gotta say though, nothing gets too gruesome here thus far as the movie’s clearly spent ALL of it’s money on the monster and that’s a good thing. So no real worries about being grossed out by realism.
To make matter even worse, we then see the fetus is sitting in a pile of toxic waste that’s seeping into the ground from above and quickly begins to mutate into full grown pissed off monster who’s hell bent on revenge from the the people who’ve sent him to his doom. I mean talk about a political statement huh? This one’s definitely NOT for everyone and the filmmaker likely had some strong feelings in the topic? Or maybe they just simply thought it’d be a good setup for a creature feature? Looking at it as a revenge flick, it’s actually got a pretty inventive plot no matter what side of the argument you stand on.
Things get nasty pretty quickly inside the brothel and soon the monster is trapping the people inside with a nasty membrane that begins to grow around any exits the house has. Pretty much everyone in this movie is either a moron or a total asshole, so seeing them get picked off is never all heartbreaking. We got a ton of bad acting, combined with some attempts at decent action scenes & surprisingly solid monster effects that utilize some cool animatronics along with an impressive man in suit monster. That’s the interesting thing here, the creature actually is pretty cool and stands strong alongside some of the best b-movie monsters of the 80’s & early 90’s. I’ve gotta give them props for that.
Yep, the movie’s whole budget likely went into the monster effects & the funniest thing about it all is that on the back of the vhs they say this “THE SUCKLING has been compared to Alien for its claustrophobic intensity and Die Hard for its non-stop action.” Sounds kinda like the best movie ever huh? Well I’m not quite sure who decided to compare it to those because inventive as it all is it really never quite hits the mark of either of those films. Instead though what you get is an enjoyable offensive schlocky monster movie that’s exceeds just with the pure outrageousness of it storyline. This one is definitely not for everyone but if you’re a fan of odd-ball vintage cinema you’re likely to wanna track this little flick down and be fully ready to go full on mystery Science Theater 3000 on it!