Tagged: teen

KIDS vs. ALIENS: If “Goosebumps” was Rated R!

I’ve been looking forward to Jason Eisener’s ‘Kid’s vs. Aliens’ since I heard the ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ director was making a feature length film based on his awesome short horror segment in V/H/S/ 2. Granted it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, I remember really digging the concept and execution of it.

The simple premise of this movie is so right up my alley it feels like it almost was tailor made just for me. In a nutshell some kids have a Halloween party that goes off the rails when evil aliens descend upon their lakeside household. The alien visitors for the most part resemble our traditional “Greys”, which I find to be one of the most terrifying creatures of the more modern era. I guess though they’d be more in line with what we saw in 2014’s ‘Extraterrestrial’ though (minus the CGI) than say the brilliantly bizarre 1989 Whitley Strieber biopic ‘Communion’. That being said, you’ve gotta admire how ambitious this movie is with all of its practical effects work and not a shred of CGI really anywhere to be found. Add in a lean run time of around 75 minutes (68 of them actual movie time) and you’ve got a nice, fast paced horror adventure at the ready. 

Plus the main kid protagonists of this movie are also quite charming for the most part. None of them get bogged down in modern online politics or social commentary, they’re just kids in danger with wildly filthy mouths being….kids. In essence they’re a fairly solid attempt of mixing the kids in Stand By Me with The Goonies. I’d say for the first 3rd of the movie I was pretty sure this might end up being one of my favorite horror films of 2023. It’s got a lot of heart at its core as well (maybe trying a bit too hard at times) and characters who you can for the most part get behind on this weird little ride.

However with ALL of that going for it, still there’s something here that in my opinion just didn’t quite click the way it should’ve. That’s not to say this isn’t a fun little movie, becuz it is. It just misses the mark at being a modern horror classic, maybe because they’re trying just a bit too hard at mostly everything they attempt to sell the audience. It’s same problems I had at times with 2013’s ‘Knights of Badassdom’ a movie which I do admittedly still enjoy quite a bit.

I guess I would say what it does succeed at being is a pretty excellent R-rated “Goosebumps” movie. In many ways, even the way it’s filmed looks a little bit like a vintage Goosebumps episode for better or for worse at times. I guess my problem was maybe my personal expectations weren’t quite met in the way I’d initially hoped for. Though this movie in many ways borrows heavily from the likes of classics like Fire In The Sky, it really lacks the intensity, atmosphere and mystery that could have pulled from it, even if just a little bit of it. The aliens In my opinion are shown way too much in plain sight. All of the things that make grey aliens so terrifying is completely absent here, they run around roaring like enraged grizzly bears. 

The aliens also look a bit too much like men in rubber suits, which I usually don’t mind, but easily hiding them a bit more might have benefited this greatly. More of the monsters isn’t always better. Overall though I do appreciate the almost entirely practical nature of this film’s special effects. It’s refreshing to see filmmakers getting a bit more old school these days!

Though the characters for the most part are fun wonky children, they do try a bit too hard to sell us that on all levels. Much of the character development feels a bit forced. The kids and their antagonist teen enemies end up being somewhat over the top caricatures and don’t always feel like “real’ people. The kids are NERDS, the older teen sister-hero is a NERD and the teens are really reeeeally meanies who don’t like NERDS. By the middle of the movie I found myself wishing their personas had been toned down. They started to feel like they were written by the “modern day Kevin Smith” or something. Ok, well maybe not that bad. Instead of growing to like them more as the movie progressed, I found myself becoming slightly annoyed with everyone’s behaviors and actions even if they were good in nature. 

Looking at it now though with zero expectations, it’s still one I do plan on revisiting again. It’s got plenty of action and really does try to feature a cast of heartwarming lead characters and pathetically almost unbelievably evil teen villains to you are basically told to hate anytime they appear. It also takes place on Halloween and makes it prime viewing for the holiday. There’s a lot of good here so don’t get me wrong, I just feel like someone needs to put together an amazing home invasion Grey alien horror film and do it the right way. In the perfect world I was hoping this would be a mix of 1989’s Communion and maybe like Evil Dead. (here’s a still photo  from Communion).

Instead it leans hard into the campy territory and doesn’t skimp on some impressive Gore FX either. Perhaps it’s really my own expectations that took this down a few pegs for myself, with all the crappy stuff out there streaming I do think there’s a lot of fun to be had. Check this one out, it’s worth a rental, but don’t go in expecting it to be quite as cool as his segment was in V/H/S 2. Still thank you Jason for adding an entertaining alien invasion flick to the cinematic horror library!

 

 

 

VHS Verdict: 1986’s ‘BULLIES’ Channels ‘The Karate Kid’ Via ‘DELIVERANCE’!

I just watched what I consider to be a true bonafide lost 1980s gem, at least to me this movie was something I’d only found and watched by sheer chance. I frequent thrift stores quite often and upon discovering director Paul Lynch’s ‘Bullies’ a 1986 Canadian genre mash up of horror, thriller, action and revenge on VHS, I was most certainly intrigued, while realistically not getting my hopes up too damn high. 

I’m pleased to report that ‘Bullies’ delivered the damn goods and then some in nearly every way I’d been hoping!  Like I said in the title, this movie is essentially a mixture of The Karate Kid and Deliverance. I guess we’d categorize it as “Hicksploitation”. Sorry all you lovable hillbillies out there, but it’s kinda like if The Karate Kid’s Cobra Kai were evil messed up psycho mountain men! And when I say evil I mean evil with a capital E!

We follow the simple story of a teenage boy who moves with his mom and stepfather to a cozy little mountain town smack dab in the middle of the woods to run a family business. The only problem is some of the locals are restless and don’t particularly like the new arrivals in town…at all. A wicked gang of family hicks are on the prowl to fuck with anyone they please and no one seems to give a damn, not even the cops- imagine that huh?!

Luckily our teenage equivalent to Daniel Laruso befriends a cool local Native American man, who he establishes a strong bond with and like Mr. Miagi he teaches him some serious life lessons, survival and even a few nifty combat techniques. Something his stepfather whom he somewhat loathes and views as a useless coward doesn’t seem to have ANY interest in being part of.  Of course he meets the beautiful Olivia D’Abo, and of course crushes out hard. I mean what are the chances he meets a babe like her in this po-dunk town? Lucky guy! Or is he?

As it just happens to turn out that she’s the sister of one of the insane maniac hillbillies who who threaten the town folk on any whim. But that’s not gonna stop the teen romance though as the two are immediately lovestruck. So the pissed off hillbillies up the ante with their evil shenanigans and the boy’s step dad is too chicken to stand up to them. These guys not only terrorize the teenagers but also go on the war path against the parents too, leading to a truly shocking rape scene that ups the stakes to deadly proportions and drastically shifts the tone. Be warned! ‘Bullies’ takes some dark twists and turns but by the final act you’ll be rooting for revenge with all of your damn heart. Even though it does go to some dark places it oddly has a lingering light feeling to it somehow, an 80s charm of something like The Karate Kid or My Bodyguard.  Most importantly are how, for the most part, endearing  the characters are in this grimy little banger. It makes the journey one worth taking.

I’d say this is the perfect coming of age revenge flick, filled with genuine heart, romance, comedy and some pretty wild and crazy action sequences. You also get served some gory kills and some intense explosions that put this one in a league of its own as a intriguing lost 80s gem. Bullies exists on VHS only and is just begging to be cleaned up and released on a slick blu ray. It really deserves far more attention from cult movie fanatics,  if you get a chance check this one out, but beware, these “Bullies” are playing for keeps!!

 

The DESCENDENTS Find a Time Machine & Bring Back Their Lost 80s Album!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Descendents, so you can imagine how damn stoked I am for their latest release ‘9th & Walnut’. Long story short, all of these songs from the new album are from the late seventies and early eighties. Lost tracks the band demoed but never released, instead produced a batch of new songs that became their iconic album ‘Milo Goes to College’. 

Well in 2002 the original line up recorded this lost album and in 2020 lead singer Milo Aukerman finally recorded the lead vocals for it. What we end up with is a bonafide classic brought back to the future, literally a lost punk rock time capsule. It oozes of eighties goodness with the sound and type of songs that I feel have been missing largely from the band’s last two albums. 

It also Clearly is oozing with teen angst, nowhere to be found are songs about getting too old or not being able to eat the greasy food you want anymore. Instead we get a batch of snotty love songs and angry punk ragers clearly fueled by a hefty dose of caffeine & french fries. This is the exact way that I love my Descendents, drenched in the 1980s sunshine and no filter.  It’s also notable that the sound comes full circle with the original lineup intact even though sadly guitarist Frank Navetta passed away not long after this was recorded.

Jam packed with classic guitar riffs with plenty of their nostalgic attitude & the sweet melodies of their original bassist Tony Lombardo bring me back to simpler times. This  album IMO is an absolute dream come true for hardcore fans who grew up listening to them in the 1980s. The anthems of those awkward teen nerds come alive one last time with this latest release from the Descendents! Mmmm…TOTALLY!

Movie Melt: 80’s Summer Camp-sploitation Insanity…..ODDBALLS!

Yowza!! Are you in the mood for the wildest and craziest summer camp antics from the great white north of Canada? Well look no further as Universal Dork headed back on the Movie Melt podcast to talk about some seriously idiotic 80’s trash cinema! This time covering 1984’s slapstick summer camp cult classic Oddballs. Yes, you’ll find more worthless movie knowledge than your brain can humanly comprehend!

Oddballs is one weird ass forgotten comedy and if you’re a fan of stuff like ‘Top Secret’ or ‘The Naked Gun’ then there’s more than enough of that schtick here to quench your thirst. Inspired by the classic ‘Meatballs’ this one’s so dumb you’re likely to lose a few brain cells just by simply viewing it’s raunchy cover!

Check out the whole PODCAST RIGHT HERE!

https://movie-melt.zencast.website/episodes/mm-122-oddballs-1984

Oh yeah and if you’re reaaaaaally feelin’ the summer heat you can watch the damn movie on Youtube!

Forgotten Movie Gems: 80’s High School Zombie Bullies Rule in ‘Night Life’!

Been a movie watchin’ fiend lately & luckily most of the flicks, most of which I’d call largely forgotten cinema, have been surprisingly damn good! So listen up I’m gonna throw a bunch of short reviews for some films that are worth the trouble to track down if like me you’re looking for some lost gems! Let’s get on with this shit today we’ve got some great what I like to coin ‘John Hughes Horror’ in…

Night Life (1989)

First up let it be known this cool ass little movie was never officially released on dvd so it’s a tuff one to track down. You can hunt down a copy on vhs or like I did buy a bootleg copy of it on dvd from Ioffer.com, a great site for stuff like this. Anyway I wanna start off saying that this movie has Scott Grimes, that red headed kid from Critters 1&2 so it instantly had me there as I love those two movies. It’s essentially an 80’s teen high school bully movie with zombies. Scott Grimes or “Archie” in the movie, who channels a bit of Michael J. Fox, works at a mortuary for his jerky uncle (John Astin) and is bullied by four assholes (two preppy jock-y couples) from his school. Turns out he’s totally infatuated with one of the girls and the bullies quickly devise a plan to set him up on a “date” that ultimately destroys him teenage life. He’s also got an older lady pal, a cute local mechanic that he hangs out with all the time that he’s also crushed out on, who’s clearly put him in the friend zone. Ahh to be a teenager again…

Well one day those same four prepster bullies meet their demise in a horrible car crash, and of course Archie has to take them back to the mortuary. It seems though he’s in high school he accompanies the police to crimes scenes and is oddly in charge of the “dirty work” of dealing with the dead, I guess that shit flew back in the 80’s huh? Only problem is the four assholes become zombies when a bolt of lightning strikes the roof of the mortuary, something clearly foreshadowed earlier when a dead frog’s legs twitch when given an electrical charge by his science teacher. The nice thing here is these Zombies aren’t your mindless walkers, they’re more ruthless, cunning & have one clear driving their every move: to turn Archie into mince meat!! This begins a totally outrageous game of cat and mouse that plays out like a great extended episode of Tales From The Crypt in the best way.

The movie’s got a light hearted feel to it but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty when it needs to either. The zombie bullies use their newly acquired blood lust to carry out some pretty inventive on screen kills too. This may not be a traditional zombie apocalypse flick, but it’s one of the most unique and who needs more of the apocalypse anyway. Even in the 80’s that shit was overdone. Even way back in 89′ Tony Timpone of Fangoria praised it “the most original, off-beat & entertaining zombie films in years, a must see!”. I gotta agree it’s a ton of fun, has great stunts, cool fx, gore, rad looking zombies, sets & characters. Pretty much everything I love about the 80’s all wrapped into one. This one deserves an official release it’s definitely a lost gem. I’m pretty floored at how this movie doesn’t have more love these days, hopefully someone will clean it up and give it a proper release if you’re a fan of 80’s horror and those John Hughs-esque flick of that era you’ll find a lot here to love!! One last interesting tidbit here is that director David Acomba was one the two directors responsible for the infamously bad 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special!! But hey don’t hold that against him!!

Movie Review: ‘Night of Something Strange’ – Horror Potty Humor at it’s Worst!

I’ve been looking forward to checking out the new horror comedy “Night of Something Strange” for quite some time and finally this week I decided to check it out via rental on Google Play. From what I’d heard about it and seen in the trailer, it looked liked a super fun homage to splatter flicks of the 1980’s with an unhealthy dose of comedy splashed in for a good time. I’m all about a good indie horror comedy, in fact the horror comedy is easily one of my favorite genres. However ‘Night of Something Strange’ just really didn’t do it for me. I give them a serious ‘A’ for effort but when you’re making a movie like this it’s extremely important to nail down the comedy aspect of the horror first. That can be a hard task & precisely where this movie really falls flat, at least for me.

This one is all about grossing you out in every middle school way you can imagine. That’s perhaps who this movie’s comedy might truly appeal to. For me though gross out poop, pee and sex humor gets old real quick. NOSS is jam packed with potty humor and as the movie plays on it continuously tries to top last the poop, pee-pee, gross out sex scenario with something more “outrageous”. It simply tries way too hard to get a reaction, kinda like if Seth Rogan wrote the script for this when he was thirteen years old but with “gross out” dick jokes and zombie rape scenarios sprinkled throughout. Yeah the movie has a lot of undead raping & it’s not really the kind of stuff that’s offensive, since clearly it’s incredibly unrealistic looking and it’s actors aren’t exactly out to win an academy award with their performances. So none of it will stick with you for days or scar you as the scenes aren’t even the least bit convincing. That’s a good thing, because I’m not a fan of the rape-y horror movie. It’s all just too damn stupid, and though I do like me some ridiculousness this one tries way too hard.

This flick is essentially an 80’s horny teen throwback movie with even more horny undead creatures roaming around the grounds of a spooky motel. There’s a few scenes that are actually pretty well done and the practical effects here are at times actually pretty impressive. It also looks pretty nice too, it just suffers from a ton of stale comedy. I don’t know, maybe when I was twelve years old this would have been funny? However it’s just trying way too hard to gross us out with farts, poop, dirty tampons, boners & nasty sex humor around each & every corner. It’s also maybe about 20 minites too long. I haven’t got much else to say about this one, (I really like the poster art at least) but if you dig this kind of mega excessive potty humor then hey, this movie delivers the goods and then some!!