VHS Verdict: The 1990s Fairy Tale “Horror” of RUMPELSTILTSKIN!
I saw ‘Leprechaun’ IN the theater back in ’93, my girlfriend and I were the ONLY ones in the entire theater! Of course I had a damn good time and believe that ‘Leprechaun’ sort of kick-started a little mini genre of “fairytale horror” in the 1990s. While the director of the original Leprechaun also made another movie a few years later 1995 Rumpelstiltskin! Yep Mark Jones the writer and director of the ’93 cult classic also gave the a similar treatment to this weird little one without the “success” of the Warwick Davis fronted franchise.
Well last night I Pulled out my cool promotional copy of the VHS along with my projector, some friends, drinks and checked it out on the “big” screen. In all honesty I’m not entirely sure that I’ve ever really seen this movie before (even though I could have sworn that I had). Nonetheless Rumpelstiltskin delivered the same ridiculous goods in the same fashion as the original Leprechaun. The best way to describe this one would be a sort of “Terminator style” road chase movie- but instead of an imposing hulking cyborg you get a gimpy numb-nut fairy tale villain, who cracks ridiculous one liners while he chases a woman down trying to steal her baby to suck it’s soul!
In other words it’s a god damn good time! Our main mischievous villain here, Rumpelstiltskin, looks like he was plucked right out of Stephen King’s horror anthology ‘Cat’s Eye’. He wakes up from a 1000 year slumber and dropped into the 1990s. This all after being turned into a small stone sculpture after a group of villagers hunt him down after he steals one of their babies. You might think that this guy would have a hard time navigating the ’90s, but quite the opposite. Rumpelstiltskin seems to be quite adept in nearly everything he tries, Whether it’s riding a Harley or driving a stick shift semi truck- ‘ol ‘Rumpy can do it! The funny thing is he comes across more like a character that might appear in ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ than a wicked soul sucking goblin!
It’s your fairly standard “being chased through the countryside road trip” horror formula (which I FUCKING love)- but it definitely does have a few really fun tricks up its dirty little sleeve. Our main character is a widowed single mom (Kim Johnston Ulrich) with a baby of course and some of this actually plays out a bit like a “Sex in the City” episode. She hangs out with her horny female friends, drinks wine and tries to navigate being single in the era with a baby…the last thing she needs is THIS weirdo throwing a wrench into being a mom!
There’s definitely a certain degree of unpredictability to some the characters we’re introduced to which makes this an even more interesting watch. Particularly when we’re introduced to a sleazy, cheezy, sexist TV host, who comes across a bit like a second rate Howard Stern. The type of character you won’t be seeing “rise to the occasion” in any movie coming out in 2023 that’s for sure.
However I’m a sucker for an unlikely pairing of characters ‘on the run’ from true danger in horror movies and this one really BRINGS it. You’re never quite sure who’s going to suffer the consequences from an encounter with ol’ Rumpy! If you’re a fan of the original ‘Leprechaun’ there’s definitely a lot right here to love, Some cool make up effects, pretty sweet action sequences, explosions and like Warwick Davis’s character, some great idiotically witty banter! Rumpelstiltskin is prime candidate for a sweet new blu ray. It’s really long overdue that he gets a cult following and the true recognition he deserves-this is a really sweet totally 90s horror comedy, jam packed with ridiculous fashion of the time and characters you’re likely not to see anytime soon on the big or small screen. A great example that the 90s indeed does have some horror gems hidden within the decade! Track down this weird little fairy tale & turn off your brain to thoroughly enjoy the ride..
Needs to be BLU: Brigitte Neilson’s 90s Sci-Fi Ass Kicker GALAXIS!
Today I’m starting a new series on U-Dork called “Needs to be Blu” Where I’m going to start documenting all of the movies that I’ve seen that most desperately need a fancy ass blu ray release! There are still some real gems out there that just aren’t getting the attention they deserve, are out of print on dvd or have only EVER been released on VHS format.
Today my recommendation to all those fancy labels out there like Vinegar Syndrome, Culture Shock, Arrow video, Visual Vengeance etc is Brigitte Nielsen’s sci-fi actioner GALAXIS aka Terminal Force released in 1994. Brigitte Nielson stars as a inter-galactic space babe who kicks a lot of ass coming across like Dolph Lundgren’s lady action counterpart. Check it out:
I wish she’d have had more cheesy roles like this(I’ve got to check out BODY COUNT still), she’s such charming presence and iconic femme fatale. In this particular film she really looks the part too, she dwarfs most of the men in height and doesn’t take a lick a shit from a single one of them. It’s a bit of a mix between The Terminator and Highlander and feels like it was shot in the late 1980s. It hits all the right beats for me- the fish out of water, light romance, charmingly idiotic characters, some genuinely fun special fx as well as a good sense of humor throughout. Plus Moll here who’s a great B-movie villain (check out ‘Dungeonmaster’ from 1984 for more proof of that) is of course a lot of fun to watch ham it up!
A cool little sci-fi “run for your life in a big city” adventure where Brigitte is your guide and Richard Moll reprises his “bad guy” role again as a sort of Darth Vader type villain. Top top it all off Sam Raimi even shows up for some of the fun early on and so do some stop motion robots thankfully. Lots of lasers, dark steamy alleys, ridiculous bad guys and of course Nielsen looking all sexy as the amazonian leather clad lead, just legit dumb fun that I’m always all in for.
Aside from Brigitte the co-lead John Brennan plays a charismatic numbskull treasure hunter who’s on the hunt for some strange artifact, one that Brigitte and Moll are on the hunt for as well. Along the way he of course gets mixed up in a boatload of shenanigans that Nielson usually has to solve by kicking someone’s ass.
The lucky guy gets to join forces with Nielson, and the two slowly fall for each other, too bad the evil Moll always seems to arrive before anything can ever really happen for the two! As far as dumb bad guys go too there’s a really over the top mob boss guy played by Fred Asparagus who somehow manages to be a major player in the action all the way up to it’s boiler room style finale. Obviously this is prime cheez, it’s fun, fast paced and largely forgotten- Someone release this on blu ray!
Hong Kong’s 1989 Satanic Cult Action Flick- BLOOD RITUAL!
After re-watching the 1976 classic satanic cult/ road trip/ action/ horror/ hybrid ‘Race with the Devil’ I was still in the mood for more “devil cult” related flicks. Well lucky for me, Hong Kong gave us a nice little CAT III gem from 1989 called ‘BLOOD RITUAL’ and it delivers quite the grimy punch-a wild and crazy little forgotten actioner that’s ripe for a fancy-ass blu ray release!
I had quite a bit of fun with this one and it’s sorta refreshing when weeding through so many overly slapstick Hong Kong horror comedies, when you come across something that really balances just the right amount of humor action and gore all into one weird little freaky package. ‘Blood Ritual’ definitely starts out with a bang. Featuring a sexy sweat covered woman in red high heels, completely naked being, stalked by a gang of cult members all dressed in white. She’s caught, carried away and immediately enters into, you guessed it, a god damn blood ritual!
We then get a tuff cop who’s hot on the case and a detective who’s just been released from prison, who’s trying to start a new life. At least that’s what I was able to cobble together with rudimentary & hard to read subtitles on this film print. They both get way more than they bargained for when it comes to their attention via a pretty sweet looking indie comic book zine that’s been making the rounds in Hong Kong that a killer satanic cult has been taking innocent victims for their bizarre ritualistic sacrifices. It’s all dressed up with evil hand drawn imagery, sexy sinister situations and pentagrams a’ plenty! It’s the kind of comix I couldn’t seem to get enuff of in the late 80s- DAAAAMN~!
This starts a race against time, trying to track down the wicked cultists before they snatch their next innocent victim. Meanwhile we get a pretty likable/comical cast and I’d go as far to say that it at times actually moves a bit into the “rom com” category as well, making it quite an interesting little over the top mash up. So the “recently released from prison detective” (I’m guessing that is what he is?) manages to meet a sassy bar room singer one evening and even manages to rent a room from her family. In classic form, neither of them get along too well together at first and their “relationship” leads to one of the strangest sequences I’ve seen in a Hong-Kong movie yet. Involving a severed finger, a ring, laxative, a fishbowl and chopsticks. Ok so if your imagination is running wild you’ve probably guessed exactly the truly bizarre scenario that unfolds to help complete the detectives bizarre lead on these cult members whereabouts. It sorta has to be seen to be believed, you won’t see this line of action in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ or ‘Se7en’ to get a lead on a case that’s for SURE!
I really love checking out these obscure and in this case forgotten foreign films like this that managed to hit all the right wild beats yet still remain unknown to the general public, here in the USA at least. Movies just like this that manage to show you something you’ve never quite seen before in a film-it’s pretty impressive. ‘Blood Ritual’ delivers some genuine thrills and chills as well as some frenetic action sequences that are quite unique to this era of Hong Kong cinema. Stunt work that blows your mind. Also the cult members are the real devilish deal, sever their limbs and they’ll use them as a weapon in a total animalistic rage against you-it’s not being played for laughs either, something I totally can get behind. Check this shit out if you’re in doubt!
Filled with spooky locales, intense bloody action, some pretty decent humor (as least from what I could make out), some “romance” and a finale that’s right up there with the best of anything that USA produced in that era, imo better – Blood Ritual will knock you right on your ass. Think a bit of Stallone’s ‘Cobra’ with more over the top action and a vicious killer cult to dismantle. I got a copy of this on DVD from Far East Flix, though I enjoyed it, I’d say this movie is in desperate need of a cleaned up blu ray release with better subtitles.
The subs at times don’t seem to make a lick of sense either, many of them disappearing completely into the background of the movie doesn’t seem to help, still I was able to get the gist of things and could tell it’s a unique littler horror thriller in need of a “CULT” following. Someone step up to the plate and give Blood Ritual the damn respect it rightfully deserves!
VHS Verdict: Maria Ford is an ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION!
Jennifer Lawrence for some reason appears to think she’s the world’s first female action star but there’s a treasure trove of lady badasses in cinema throughout the years to behold. Specifically Maria Ford in 1994’s highly underrated & essentially forgotten ass kicker ‘Angel of Destruction’. Ford goes full Jean Claude Van Damme here and it’s a riot as she beats the holy hell out of a plethora of low IQ (no offense if you have a low IQ, I certainly have one) meatheads (If you’re a meathead though too bad) hellbent on either killing her, mansplaining her or trying to pathetically get in her drawers.
Last time I saw Maria Ford was in ‘The Unnamable 2’ a sweet “better than the original” horror sequel from 1992, where she spends most of her time completely nude. Well she continues the tradition here, as she’s in her birthday suit quite a bit and even manages to beat down a gang of home invaders while donning only her g-string. Angel of Destruction is a fast paced, fairly idiotic actioner that’s a great schlocky time from ‘New Horizons Home Video’. Maria stars as a “tuff as nails cop” who’s sister is murdered by a deranged military vet-turned serial killer, obsessed with killing mob bosses, rockstars & random women, whom he role plays with as his “brides on a wedding night” and then murders them for his twisted kicks. When Maria’s sister becomes his next victim she jumps on the killer’s trail in a whirlwind of rage and teams up with her hunky detective boyfriend to kick and blast their way to ultimate justice.
The weirdo serial killer next targets an “on the rise” female pop singer, who’s hoping her latest music video (in which she performs entirely topless?!) will make her the next Samantha Fox and put her on MTV map to super-stardom. Guess that’s an interesting strategy?
Ford takes the job as the singers personal bodyguard to protect her and her voluptuous lady lover from the skeezy serial killer AND her disgusting Harvey Weinstien-esque manager. There’s some wildly entertaining fight sequences filled with broken tables, broken bottles, busted up chairs, roundhouse kicks, bar room brawls with big dumb bone-heads to get fully immersed in.
I really dig Maria’s performance here too, she’s easily the brightest bulb in a cast made up almost entirely of morons. The plot’s a lot of legit dumb fun and of course Ford is hott as hell and fully able to be quite convincing when giving a mad beatdown to dudes three times her bodyweight. There’s a cool showdown too and Maria gets to go the distance against the big baddie for the most part all by her lonesome.
I’m very curious if she delved into anymore cool sexy full on action flicks?! If so I’m game for more sweet 90s cheez! Someone wise up and give ‘Angel of Destruction’ a fancy blu ray already-Maria is a cult ballbuster here just waiting for a bigger audience
RIP Steve Barkett: A True B-Movie LEGEND.
It’s just come to my attention that the highly underrated B-movie legend Steve Barkett (born in 1950) has passed away, the news via Jim Wynorski. I think it’s a sad day for anyone who knew of some his wildly entertaining movies and raw charisma as an actor. I only recently discovered his movies about 5 years ago but when I did it was a game changer. If you’re gonna start out anywhere with Steve I highly recommend Empire of the Dark his 1990 horror/action hybrid. He not only directed this movie but also starred in the leading role AND wrote the script. It’s a highly ambitious mix of horror fantasy, tuff guy action film and romantic comedy. It would make the perfect double feature with Evil Dead 2.
Yeah it’s THAT awesome and I know it’s saying a lot but I think Steve here oozes just as much charisma as Bruce Campbell in the leading role. He shines as the unlikely action hero who can somehow go “one on one” with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren.
Also for his budget he makes more than the most of just about everything in this movie from wild demonic set pieces in hell to crazy action battles. This is the one movie of his that I will watch over and over for the rest of my life.
He was a highly ambitious and incredibly inventive filmmaker, it’s a bit of a shame that his directorial output only manifested two movies, but both are awesome.
But don’t get me wrong he did so much more he starred in some other sweet B-movies in smaller roles like 1994’s Dinosaur Island, 1995’s Bikini Drive-In, 1993’s Dark Universe his other sole directorial post apocalyptic masterpiece The Aftermath (1982).
I’d always hope that he’d get behind the camera and in front of the camera in larger rolls a bit more in his later years, but hes left behind a some major league gems that anyone who’s a fan of low budget genre perfection must watch!
Steve will be remembered for all of the laughs and smiles he gave to all of us fans of these crazy movies- If you’re reading this post and you’ve never heard of him do yourself a favor and check out Empire of the Dark and The Aftermath ASAP! RIP Steve….
The Story of Riki-Oh vs. the Savage STONE AGE WARRIORS!
‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky’ has a huge cult following for a goddamn good reason, obviously the extreme over the top gore is what really grabs people initially but also the film’s star Fan Siu-wong just kills it as the film’s main character Riki-Oh. Well if you’re looking to see another excellent action bonanza starring lead Fan Siu-wong you’ve come to the right place.
I just watched ‘Stone Age Warriors’ from 1991 and it’s a real treat jam packed with jungle action, babes, hunks & adventure galore. It also stars a couple other heavy hitters it’s female cast, the ass kickin’ Elaine Lui and my new Hong Kong crush, Nina Li Chi, wife of famed superstar Jet Li. It’s a ton of fun, with some Indiana Jones/Romancing the Stone flavor thrown in for extra good measure.
Deep in the rain forests of New Guinea, wildly aggressive natives attack a group of Asian treasure hunters. They go missing and soon a Hong Kong insurance investigator/girlfriend of the lead adventurer(Nina Li Chi) leaves for New Guinea along with his daughter, a martial arts superstar actor(Elaine Lui) to search the jungle on a mission to rescue her dad. However to navigate through the dangerous terrain they’re going to need a damn good guide, luckily they run in to the mysterious Christian missionary/martial arts master played by Fan Siu-wong.
However it’s not just wild animals and wicked terrain they’ve got to worry about, there’s a bigger threat in the jungle, a colorful gang of evil violent drug traffickers have teamed up deep in the jungle with the local tribes as thsir minions. Of course this wicked gang of outlaws are heavily armed & highly proficient in the martial arts and ready to take out anyone who comes anywhere near their operation.
The baddies are lead by “The Leopard”, a wild freaky martial arts bunny boiler babe portrayed Devi Sabah, a total on screen force to be reckoned with. She’ll fuck you up bad with her seriously killer form of martial arts and give you a solid scare with her wildly animalistic unpredictable persona. And no she’s not part of any jungle tribe! But she’s easily one of the coolest villains I’ve seen in a Hong-Kong feature film and quite some time. Her right hand man is a cocky totally over the top 80s white dude, who you might expect to be full of hot air, but he also has got all the right kick ass moves as well as commanding the savage “stone age warriors” (nope seriously though no one is from the Stone Age in this movie). He’s got their undies all up in a bundle when the trio arrives on their rescue mission.
Add in a few more vicious mercenaries and you’re in some serious early 90s trouble with a big ass “capital T”. But hold your horses- things are even more dangerous from the get go for all who step foot in this jungle. Nina Li Chi & Elaine Luis square off against all the odds of nature here when they get separated from their guide and there’s some crazy stunt work the two pull off here (during the credits you get to see them in action). They slide down muddy trails, fall off of waterfalls, get swept away in the river rapids, get covered in scorpions and in the most frightening sequence are being chased by REAL Komodo dragons. If you know anything about them, you know how dangerous they are to be in such close vicinity too and this part of the movie is actually pretty terrifying.
Fan Sui-wong really shines here as well with his ridiculous physique and crazy ass martial arts on FULL display. There’s some super wild fight scenes here especially in the final 3rd of the film in trees, rickety bridges & helicopters, Fan gets to really shine in one of his best lead roles as he’s clearly a larger than life hero once again. It’s not just the boy’s club here though, Elaine Lui also get just as much martial arts action as well as she goes head on with The Leopard woman who’s badass enough to take on BOTH her AND Fan together. Stone Age Warriors is total blast with three charming leads, cool villains, plenty of “Indiana Jones” type shenanigans, wild for real dangerous animals, romance and crazy kung fu.
This one deserves an official fancied up blu ray from someone like Vinegar Syndrome as it really is a total forgotten gem. It also great to see Fan “Riki-oh” Sui-wong featured prominently in sweet action adventure extravaganza! I got this one for pretty cheap off eBay but the official dvd of it’s a pretty rough transfer (but worth the watch). BEWARE though It’s got those annoying subtitles that sometimes blend into the bottom of the film, still tho, highly recommended!
Blu Review: Jet Li & His MOM Kick Major Butt in THE LEGEND of Fong Sai Yuk!
So I recently gave an long overdue rewatch to ‘The Expendables 2’, as I’ve been pretty curious how the film would hold up over a decade after its initial release. I’m happy to report that yes, it’s still a TON of fun with it’s gigantic bloated cast of classic action heroes. One who really stood out as part of The Expendables cast was Jet Li, even though he really only appears in the wild opening sequence, it’s clear why he was put on the roster in the first installment: he’s one of the greatest action stars to ever grace the big screen! That really sparked an interest for me once again in Li’s earlier work. This time particularly his Hong Kong film career, which I’ve had a bit of a blind spot about for far too long. So I was able to get a copy of a sweet new double feature from Ronin Flix set to drop on Valentine’s Day! The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk 1 & 2 delivered what I suspected I might’ve been missing, Jet Li at his absolute BEST.
As a first time watch I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, except that there’d likely be some impressive martial arts action on hand at the very least. However what The Legend delivered to me was so much more. As a big fan of classic Hong Kong cinema, it really made me a little embarrassed that I wasn’t a bigger fan of Li’s earlier work. First off when I saw it was directed by Corey Yuen, I had a feeling I was probably in for something quite special as he’s responsible for two of my all time fave 80s Hong Kong action bangers ‘Yes Madam!’ featuring Cynthia Rothrock and Michele Yeoh (who’s getting a A LOT of love lately) as well as ‘Righting Wrongs’ with Rothrock again and my personal fave critically underrated icon Yuen Biao.
I’m not sure how or why 1993’s ‘The Legend‘ went under my radar for so long, but I’m happy it did, because I got to watch it for the first time last night. It at first appears almost like it’s going to be a more serious period piece. What it really is though is a non-stop roller coaster of some of the most inventive kung fu action melded with truly charming characters & just the right amount of comedy to keep you smiling ear to ear.
In a nutshell Jet Li stars as Fong Sai Yuk, kung fu expert extraordinaire and just an all around giant ball of charisma. He falls for a rich local mechant’s daughter while competing in a wild sort of “track and field” tournament & also comes to a stunning revelation that his parents are connected directly to the Red Lotus Flower Society, group of rebels with plans to overthrow the evil emperor. Thing go way off the rails, as you might imagine and soon Fong is teaming up with his family to enforce some ass kickin’ justice for all enslaved by the evil empire.
Of course Li finds more zany mischief to get into along the way, resulting in one of my favorite action sequences of the entire movie: a tournament to win the hand of the local rich merchants beautiful daughter in marriage. Just beat his top female bad ass in combat on a huge wooden monkey bar like structure set high above the eager crowd of townsfolk. This is a hilariously entertaining epic duel, as the main objective is to knock your opponent to the ground below, but of course nothing is that simple. Li and his female opponent use every tactic to stay above ground, running across the crowd’s heads and displaying jaw dropping acrobatics.
Even better is Fong’s mom enters the tournament as well, disguised as a man and the results equal more high jinx of the wildest order. The chemistry of Fong and his mother is pretty kinetic too, a truly shining example of tight knit family dynamics on display in all the best & sweetest ways possible-oh and yes his mom is just as talented at kicking butt as he is. In fact it’s quite refreshing seeing just how awesome the women are in this movie, being fully incorporated into all the crazy action at times even more so than the guys.
What makes ‘The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk’ work so well for me is the perfect balance of comedy, action, high stakes & romance that are blended into a period piece. At times Chinese period pieces can be something I might have to force myself to sit down and watch. This though is pure pulpy adventure and luckily it’s not filled with any annoying, often offensive, slapstick “comedy” which can also bog down some otherwise excellent Hong Kong productions. Both Films on the disc have a good lean runtime too around 90 minutes, some period pieces can be a bit long, but this one’s a perfect party actioner. It’s no wonder why Jet Li rose to such acclaim as an international/American action star. I hope Sly Stallone realizes just how lucky he was to have snagged Li for his Expendables movies.
The blu ray from Ronin Flix looks and sounds great as well plus the English dub is really pretty well done. It also features the sequel, also released apparently in 1993 as well. It features a cool interview with Corey Yuen & also with the writer Jeff Lau. All in all if you’re looking for a wild, funny, action packed adventure with a ton of charisma, heart & incredible set pieces then you just can’t go wrong with The Legend of Fong Saw Yuk! A true martial arts bonanza I had the pleasure of viewing 30 years after it’s release for the very first time!
Wild 80s Valentine’s Day Movie Picks: Scott VALENTINE in MY DEMON LOVER!
Ok Valentine’s Day is on the horizon! What are YOU and your sweetie going to watch?! Well I’ve got the cure for all you lovers out there- if you’re looking for a cool little horror rom com that’s flown way under the radar for FAR too long that’s perfect for the occasion look no further! Scott Valentine (the perfect name for this huh?) of ‘Family Ties’ fame (where he appeared as Mallory’s boyfriend ‘Nick’) co-stars in ‘My Demon Lover’ from 1987. A perfect one of a kind romantic horror comedy ripe for Valentine’s Day viewing!
This odd little flick is a real gem, with the hunky Valentine as a troubled homeless street musician named ‘Kaz’ & co-star Michele Little as the cute as a button ‘Denny’. When she meets him one day Denny seems to think she might’ve finally found a normal decent man with no skeletons in his closet. Oh boy, is she in for a surprise! whenever Kaz get’s aroused, which is quite often, he turns into a ferocious demon monster. However there’s much more to the story, Kaz has been cursed since he was a kid but things get worse when after his arrival into Denny’s life woman begin to turn up dead all around the city. It appears like “Demon Kaz” may have been up to some demonic slaughter and now has his sights set directly set on Denny! Sometimes love just ain’t enuff and soon She finds herself in the middle of a bizarre love triangle-with Kaz and his horrifying demonic alter ego!
This sweet little horror comedy is jam packed with 80’s charm and so much more. There’s some really well done practical monster fx on display here for the horror lovers and to make the demon extra special, they hired iconic monster comic book artist extraordinaire Bernie Wrightson to do creature designs for Valentine’s unique looks in the film. He’s one helluva cool looking demon and it’s no wonder that Wrightson played a hand in it’s creation. Bernie also did storyboarding and to me that makes this little weirdo rom com extra special. Plus Valentine’s demonic transformation sequences pretty excellent too and the movie doesn’t skimp on pleasing horror hounds featuring some fairly intense sequences of terror for a PG-13 rated film. It really feels almost like a lost ‘Tales from the Crypt’ movie with just the right amount humor and tongue in cheek charm. There’s also a surprising amount of cool 80s vfx work here in general and it’s finale really ramps things up with an impressive showdown in a spooky inner city castle sporting neon 80s electricity and lightning a’ plenty.
I’ve gotta clarify though, it’s not all horror here. Nope! There’s a heroic dose of cheezy 80s romance complete with a sweet date montage and even a few steamy “sexy” moments as well for all the lovers out there. A big flop at the box office, likely because of it’s bizarre premise, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t aged quite nicely for modern audiences. Though some of it’s plot might make a modern movie normies squirm in their seats, if you’re willing to stick with the characters despite all of their faults you’re likely find the perfectly bizarre date flick. My Demon Lover has some cool plot twists as well and an intriguing mystery running parallel to the romance making it stand out above most 80’s rom coms and horror films.
There’s not just cornball comedy here but instead some real genuine stakes at hand for our cast of likable characters that make My Demon Lover a special treat for Valentine’s Day. I’d say it’s most definitely in desperate need of a bigger cult following today and needs a fancy blu ray upgrade in a serious way. For the moment grab it on dvd, or if you even wanna go more old school get the VHS or rent it online to stream for only $2.99! If you’re in the mood for truly strange but charming romance you really can’t go wrong with My Demon Lover!
The Northwoods of Wisconsin’s 1980s Horror Films & FANGORIA Connection?!
I just visited my old stompin’ grounds up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin & it peaked my interest into a specific window of time in the late 1980s & early 90s when apparently horror movie productions were a hot commodity up there-Fangoria was on the cutting edge of “cheesehead” fright flicks! Who knew? So waaaay up north there’s a cluster of small towns, Eagle River, Three Lakes, Sugar Camp & Rhinelander that were the main staple in filming many of these late 80’s early 90’s horror films. There was a unique studio all the way from the UK that oddly made it’s headquarters somewhere between this little group of cities. My mom currently lives in Three lakes (we had a cottage on a lake there since the 80s, my dad grew up there, my Aunt does too and owns a property in Sugar Camp & my mom also just bough a property in Rhinelander) alas I have spent a LOT of time there throughout my life. In fact I was just up there for an entire month. However I never suspected it was a mini horror mecca until recently. Why? Well let’s find out! Wisconsinite horror fanatics, this one’s for YOU!
Windsor Lake Studios which was based in Eagle River, Wisconsin, (I’ve heard possibly Sugar Camp Wisconsin too?) population 1300, produced a number of films for Fangoria and a few other smaller VHS only companies, though a few actually have made it onto blu ray over the past few years. Oddly only one of the trio of Fangoria Films releases have seen blu ray releases. At the time it was a big deal in the horror community when they started producing their own movies. It’s strange to me how or why a movie studio that produced predominantly horror flicks was open and operational in this tiny region nestled in the thick of the Northwoods and it’s plentiful chain of lakes. It’s definitely NOT Hollywood in the Northwoods-I can fully attest to that! That being said you just might run into a Rhinelander, Hodag (pictured below) in the woods if you’re lucky enough..
Windsor Lake Studio was started in 1987 and attracted the talent of Eagle River native Hank Carlson, only a teen at the time but had ambitions to be the “next Tom Savini”. He went on to become quite an impressive practical fx artist getting his start at Winsdor Lake by being annoyingly persistent, visiting the studio property many times though univited. There’s a great interview with him right here for all of you locals who want the scoop on this regional horror legend. He also gives some excellent perspective in the commentary of the Arrow Video blu ray’s for ‘Trapped Alive’ & ‘The Chill Factor’.
The three owners of the studio were from the UK and producers of major Hollywood hits ‘Heathers’ and more notably ‘Hellraiser’ & ‘Hellraiser II: Hellbound’. Apparently the premiere for ‘Hellraiser’ happened at the Vilas theater in small town Eagle River where Hank Carlson worked. I wish I’d have known that back then dammit!
Blu Review: 80s Linnea Quigley + Evil Priests Conspire in Heartland of Darkness!
I checked out the new blu ray from Visual Vengeance, the lost 80s horror thriller Heartland of Darkness. Apparently this little “smalltownsploitation” movie was never released before this and for die hards of the genre it even features Linnea Quigley too. The movie actually shot in 1989 was recently given some finishing touches and for the most part this is a pretty charming little horror tinged thriller with strong characters, plenty of intrigue, sassy dialogue and decent amount of satanic panic.
Originally titled ‘Blood Church’ we get the story of big trouble in a small town, mainly with a wicked Catholic priest in disguise who’s secretly the head of satanic cult who’s on a killing spree (or maybe that’s just a now considered standard priest?). Too bad for him and his gang because big city journalist Paul Henson and his teen daughter move to town on a mission to start a local no B.S. newspaper. Soon he’s joined by a sexy big city reporter small town transplant who’s decided to join the paper and put the kibosh on the Cult’s wicked murderous rampage. This starts a series of bizarre events within the hierarchy of the town folk, with a massive conspiracy in play. Oh and it also inspires Linnea to of course get a bit frisky in a graveyard again!
I enjoyed the heck out of Heartland of Darkness, it’s got a cool cast of likable characters, a satanic cult, conspiracy, mystery, Linnea Quigley (looking cuter than ever) getting naked twice, a bit of romance as well as some decent gore and a bit of action to boot. It never really drags but at around an hour and forty minutes I think it could have benefited with a tighter edit. I also think Linnea could have had a bigger better role in the story but it’s pretty cool at least to just see her onscreen here in a lost 80s role.
What’s also interesting is a few sequences where you can tell it got a few “modern” edits. There’s some lightning that appears to be digitally inserted and even a scene where it’s seems clear an out of place looking digital “explosion” must have been inserted, perhaps to make better sense of the uncompleted film? Or maybe it was just the directors dream to have it in there? I’d likely have to take a deep dive into the extensive plethora of bonus features provided here, one being a new interview with Linnea as well as the original 1990 work print of the film at that time titled “Fallen Angels”.
It also comes with stickers, liner notes and some other surprising physical goodies inside the blu. This was a real treat to watch for the first time, that being said, will I watch it again? Probably not. There’s nothing particularly memorable here that’s going to separate it from the gems of 1989 and make you salivate for a rewatch. However horror collectors and Linnea completists are going to wanna take note and grab a copy. There was clearly a LOT of love from Visual Vengeance here to make this release something truly special. It’s pretty fun package all in all. Visual Vengeance is putting out some really sweet releases. Check it out!