I do tons of hunting around town here in Portland Oregon and beyond for awesome VHS tapes for my own viewing pleasure and also for my shop Hollywood Babylon. The fun is always running across cool movies, often times I never even knew existed. This is most definitely the case when I ran across a VHS copy of ‘VIBES’ from 1988 starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum!? Yeah, at least for me this was a surprise as I’d never even heard of this one before and the unlikely pairing of Goldblum as “Nick” & 80’s pop icon Lauper as “Sylvia” kinda blew my mind. At first I thought it was simply an 80’s rom com, but upon reading the synopsis on the back I was even more excited to find that Vibes is actually a supernatural adventure flick with light elements of Indiana Jones sprinkled about it’s odd colorful plot.
Talk about a movie that sounds right up my alley? Vibes was indeed a ton of fun and it’s two unlikely leads make it a full on trip down 80’s nostalgia lane. Both Lauper and Goldblum play quirky down on their luck psychics who are hired to head off to Ecuador to find the missing son of a mysterious wealthy fortune hunter. Both seem reluctant to work together even though Sylvia who’s major bad luck with men, seems immediately enamored with Nick who’s character is as over the top Godlbum-esque here as they come. Both use their unique powers to piece together the mystery they become entrenched in, Sylvia speaks with a dead woman named Louise and Nick can see the psychic history of objects from merely by touching them.
Once the two leave the city they quickly realize there’s a supernatural element at play and their employer hasn’t been entirely honest about why they’ve been hired for the job. It’s a total pleasure to see the two leads playing off each other and it’s quite obvious from the get go it’s gonna be physically impossible for Golblum to resist the cute as a button Lauper. Cyndi shines here with her extra thick New York accent and most of all it’s the unlikely pairing of these two icons that really make this one such a treat.
The back of the VHS boasts something of a special fx extravaganza from one of the dudes from Ghostbusters which was sadly a bit misleading. There are a few neat scenes of 80’s fx at play here but ultimately the supernatural spectacle here wasn’t nearly as impressive as I’d hoped for. A few more scenes of paranormal mayhem would have made this one a full on lost 80’s classic. It does have some great sets though and the Ecuador back drop gives this a bit of a Romancing the Stone vibes at times although with less physical adventure actually going on. There’s a great dance sequence between the two as well that’s pretty darn cute as well. The main reason to seek this out is the two leads, it’s an interesting pairing and filled with a ton of fun moments despite it being a full on bonafide box office flop. One of the best parts of the movie is the closing credits song by Cyndi Lauper called “Hole In My Heart” which is one of her best and adds to the pure nostalgia of this little forgotten gem of an 80’s movie.
Dan Haggerty (RIP) most famously known for his family friendly iconic role as “Grizzly Adams” also did some major ass kicking in the 80’s & early 90’s C-list cinema. I was lucky enough to check out a VHS copy of ‘Repo Jake’ and damn did it catapult Haggerty to a whole new level of awesome. First off, a movie with the name “Repo Jake” featuring Haggerty in the lead role might sound a bit ridiculous and it turns out in this case you can totally judge a book by it’s cover. From start to finish this one is pretty much nonstop idiotic fun, though not entirely intentionally a “comedy” per say it’s the perfect action party flick from 1990 that’s got enough going for it to charm the pants off a Tommy Wiseau.
Haggerty stars as Jake Baxter an ex military dude who moves from the midwest to LA to make some quick cash as a repo man to pay off his own debts on a repossessed home in Minnesota. From the get go we know Repo Jake Baxter is a total bad ass with a big heart as he immediately helps a woman recover her stolen purse on the streets of Cali. This opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie, Jake kicks the purse snatchers ass big time an while doing so completely demolishes some poor dudes corner store. But hey at least he recovers that purse!!
From that point on it’s clear, Repo Jake has got some seriously unusual magnetic sex appeal too as pretty much every woman he runs into from that point on wants to relentlessly get down with him. Jake of course can’t help that he’s so damn sexy and in that wholesome “Haggerty way” never caves to their advances. Whatta guy I tell ya. Who knew he was such an object of desire? Well that’s not the only mischief Jake gets involved in, when he lands his job as a repo man there’s trouble around nearly every corner and his co-workers are a full on 80’s style motley crew of crazy over the top characters. Jake’s first job is fucking amazing as he heads off on his own to repo a car from a gang of drunk morons who’re cheering on their buddy as he drives in circles around Jake in a parking lot. It’s not long before Jake’s on the hood of the car for a ridiculous drunken joyride. Jake always gets the damn job done.
He gets his repo on kickin’ ass along the way, Jake even repos a fucking helicopter from a seriously persistant pilot, yeah he’s a total natural, like the Rocky Balboa of repo men. He’s got it all at this point, the money’s a’ flowing an of course he’s soon dating his sexy aspiring actor neighbor in his apartment building! Clearly twice her age it seems his rugged animal magnetism is just too damn much for any human to resist. Eventually he pisses off a “powerful” crime lord and reveals he was once a hotshot drag racer who lost the love of his life due to his passion for kick ass car racing. Of course Repo Jake gets another chance to show off his mad skills as a car racer when he’s put to the ultimate test forcing to compete against the local crime boss in a high profile high octane race and then all sorts of madness ensues in full on ridiculous final boss battle.
Haggerty totally shines in this flick, I’d say it’s one of his best and proves him to once again be an unlikely action hero. He certainly does have a degree of humbling charisma that always makes him a pleasure to watch on screen. As far as movies that fit into that “so bad that they’re great” this one is a winner and a lot of it’s charm comes from director Joseph Merhi, who knows how to push the perfect buttons with a limited budget. He’s got quite a few movies from the 80’s and 90’s (The Newlydeads, LA Heat, Epitaph) I’m looking to check out now after having such a great time with Repo Jake. Check this out on a Saturday night with a gang of rabid movie maniacs along with plenty o’ booze and it’ll surely provide all with one helluva good time!! Here’s the full movie on Youtube for a Repo Jake quick fix:
‘The Johnsons’ is a damn weird ass Dutch horror flick from 1992 that I’ve been curious about for years. Well to my surprise, while out combing the thrift shops, I came across this one on VHS and could’t wait to see what it was really all about. ‘The Johnsons’ first off has a really weird name for a horror movie, it sounds like it might be some sort of 80’s comedy, but alas, this one’s truly an oddity with it’s bizarre plot that I’m fairly certain might offend a some folks especially in the year 2018. It’s also got a reputation as one of the best Dutch horror films of all time. That being said, it should be noted that Holland hasn’t exactly pumped out a lot of horror movies through the years. So the competition ain’t exactly all that fierce!
The Johnson’s has one crazy story to tell, that’s for certain, we’ve basically got a 14 year old girl who was conceived from a test tube and her seven completely bald, weird ass brothers who break out of an insane asylum (where they’ve lived most their lives after they killed 16 kids when they were seven years old ) to hunt her down while out on a camping trip. Their intention isn’t to kill her but to supposedly impregnate her so she’ll give birth to some weird demonic fetus who’s destined to fully fuck up the Earth. Got that? Yeah it’s quite an odd premise but it’s actually a pretty damn interesting, well executed little tale and the imagery involving her mute bald psycho killer brothers when they’re children is actually worth the price of admission alone. The scenes of the kids smearing blood on the walls and sticking razor blades between their teeth (& that boink, boink, boink sound he makes with it) are quite chilling. It’s also cool to see a horror movie in the early 90’s with it’s main characters being a black professor who’s trying to solve the mystery along with a mother and daughter duo trying to escape the bad siblings. Continue reading
I’ve been burning through a stack of late 80’s/90’s VHS tapes lately I scored and while there’ve been a lot of stinkers in the lot there’ve been a few I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised about! I found the first five of the ‘Children of the Corn’ movies and I’d never actually watched any of the sequels so I thought what the fuck? Well the second movie was pretty much a total bore and I’d figured they’d likely just get more dull with each installment. Boy was I wrong!
Yep! ‘Children of the Corn Part 3: Urban Harvest’ is now one of my favorite sequel horror flicks! This movie’s a ton of seriously fun horror schlock. It’s premise is awesome too, we’ve got a couple weird-ass ‘Children of the Corn’ who get adopted and move from the bloody cornfields of Nebraska to the urban streets of Chicago. Their new parents are a couple of yuppies who’re stoked to have two new amish kids of their own. But little do they know one of them has some weird ass supernatural abilities and a one track mind for planting a new crop of corn right there in the city. Things quickly get awesome as their sent off on their ‘first day’ of class at a diverse inner city school and have to fend for themselves as everyone makes fun of their weird clothes and equally odd mannerisms.
Well the new setting seems to be a good one for one of the ‘Corn kids’, soon the older of the two is dressing like he’s the coolest new dude on the block and quickly discovering he’s got a fav new interest that quickly replaces corn: girls!! This new style doesn’t sit well with the younger ‘corn obsessed’ brother and soon he goes on a mission to find a vacant lot to plant some new evil corn, hell his yuppie stepdad even tries to get in on the corn action too. He find’s his stepson’s new utterly incredibly delicious crop of corn flourishing in some shitty soil in a vacant lot between two crumbling warehouses and immediately sees dollar signs! Yeah, he eagerly talks to his new kid about selling out his new breed of corn to a big corporation so it can be eaten all over the world. Naturally the evil kid’s elated and then moves on to convince the local gang bangers and school bullies to start listening to his crazy corn sermons! Soon their all hooked on his schtick and it’s up to his older, newly hipper, formerly amish brother to put and end to his evil plan.
This one never lags, it’s pretty much non stop fun and is chock full of stupid dialogue and some seriously awesome old school horror. I was totally surprised to at how bad ass the special effects are here too, come to find out Screaming Mad George (Predator/The Abyss/Curse II: The Bite) is responsible for the onscreen awesomeness. There’s a bunch of super unique kills, living killer corn, evil scarecrows, corn zombies & even an awesome giant monster at the end!! I was certain being it was ’95 we’d likely have some shitty ass CGI in the mix but instead we get George’s incredible practical fx work. Even the giant monster is a blend of animatronics and stop motion animation and the movie never stops charming the pants off of an old school horror hound. I love these surprisingly well done sequels that are many times completely overlooked by most. The ‘Urban Harvest’ is super action packed, fun filled horror flick, the kind most these days continuously try and replicate. I like how this one appears to be totally trying to play it’s ridiculous plot totally straight, It’s a true gem that’s been lost in the corn field for far too long!! Check this shit out!!
Hey there I’m back for a whole NEW year in 2018!! Yeeehaw!! I’m starting off with a little review from a recent batch of VHS I bought while thrifting around Portland, Oregon. In my huge stack of weird movies I’ve been burning through, was a movie called ‘Evolver’ from 1994. From the cover of this one I was more than certain this was gonna be some total bull shit show that I’d likely not be able to make it all the way through. HOWEVER I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually dug Evolver!
Let me be clear though, this movie is totally stupid, but in the best way imaginable. It starts off with some shitty virtual reality video game being played in an arcade by our lead character, hot shot video gamer Kyle played by “teen heart throb” Ethan Embry. He’s basically on stage in the arcade and of course there’s a big crowd there cheering him on, becuz in the 90’s that’s what people did dammit! Anyway he’s a computer hacker as well and uses his skills to make himself the prize winner of a new real life robot called “Evolver” a prototype game system that plays laser tag with you in your own house. Evolver kinda looks like the baby of the robots in “Chopping Mall” as he’s only about 3 feet tall, oh yeah and he’s voiced by none other than William. H Macy! At first Evolver is easy to beat but at each new level of household combat that he’s defeated he gets better and even transforms a bit so he can be “more menacing” to his foes. Continue reading
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…
Hot Dayum! Here’s a rad ass kung fu movie I recently checked out that deserves some serious love yet remains all but forgotten by most here in the USA. If you dig comic books and kung fu I say you gotta take a moment to check out…
Operation Scorpio, aka The Scorpion King (1991)
This unique Hong Kong kung Fu movie from 1991 is barrel of zany fun. It’s jam packed with some truly stunning action and hyper-crazy early 1990’s Kung Fu mayhem!! This one’s got a ton of heart and a cool ass story about a comic book artist, Yu Shu, who’s got a wild ass imagination and spends his time daydreaming of being a real life superhero. It opens with a great sequence that perfectly sets the stage for the frantic charming martial arts extravaganza. His wild imagination gets the best of him when his ‘in class cartooning’ soon gets him expelled from medical school leaving him to help his Uncle’s buddy, Master Yat around his popular noodle restaurant. But Yu soon finds himself fully wrapped up in the evil web of a criminal prostitution ring, when going out on a limb, he helps a woman escape from their stronghold late one evening while walking about town. Now the duo are on the run and take shelter hiding out in Master Yat’s noodle house, they’ll eventually find a lot more than noodle’s in his bustling restaurant.
Shit gets pretty awesome as the movie constantly introduces us to a colorful cast of unique characters and the villain’s seemingly superhuman fighting abilities inspire our main character to take a stab at kung fu himself. He secretly heads off to local martial arts school that’s taught by one of the most bad ass, muscle bound kung fu experts I’ve ever seen in cinema. This dude rivals Bolo Yueng! The movie plays out a bit like a comic book version of “My Bodyguard” & “The Karate Kid” and it’s filled with comedy, romance and downright incredible martial arts sequences. Sonny, (The Scorpion King), the lanky villain of the movie, shows that size clearly doesn’t matter when it comes to superhuman kung fu and proves himself to be quite a cinematic threat to anyone who stands in his way. His “scorpion” style of fighting is a treat to see in action as well and one of the best action scenes is when Yu’s Hulking kung fu teacher decides to try and put an end to his problems himself. This truly epic and a bit of a heartbreaking confrontation is definitely not to be missed..
We’ve got a ton of cool shit going on in this one & one of the most entertainingly cheezy sequences of the movie involves the rigorous kung fu training endured by Yu as he masters martial arts through a full on noodle making work out. We’ve got some great twists and turns in the plot as well and just about everything in this movie is quirky enough to elevate this one to a level of it’s own in the ranks of late 80’s early 90’s martial arts movies. Cool sets, ultra colorful characters, superhuman kung fu, heart and unique little story drive this movie into territory I wasn’t even aware existed in the genre. Operation Scorpio, aka ‘The Scorpion King’ is a total treat for any comic book fan and it’s no wonder the flick was produced by the legendary Sammo Hung. It stands on it’s own and really deserves a lot more attention and notoriety for it’s pure charm and ultra endearing cheez factor it delivers. Seek this one out, as it really is a forgotten gem…