Tagged: v/h/s

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

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

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

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

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

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Forgotten Movie Gems: Operation Scorpio’s Kung Fu Comic Book Artist!

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… 

 

 

The Top 10 Horror Flicks Actually Starring Rock Stars!! No Cameos!

Let’s face it folks, we all love a good Rock n’ Roll horror flick, especially during the halloween season! There are a lot of good ones out there and many of them feature small cameos from rock stars BUT there’s actually not that many that actually feature them in lead or substantial roles in these “terrifying” movies. I here at Universal Dork tho, have decided to give you the top 10 rock and roll horror movies that actually star real rock stars!! So let’s not waste anytime messin’ around and get to it! Less talk more ROCK!! Here are some odd movies that famous rockers decided to risk their careers on!!!

10. Nick Knight / AKA Midnight Cop (1989)

Hey you remember ‘Jesse’s Girl’ right? Yep, easily one o’ the best pop songs of the 80’s in my opinion! Well 80’s icon Rick Springfield also had an acting career as well and when he wasn’t appearing on General Hospital he made some cheezy ass movies, one being this horror flick called ‘Nick Knight’ aka ‘Midnight Cop’! Yep Springfield stars as the hunky vampire detective on the dangerous case of his undead life, this movie was later remade into the first couple episodes of  the tv series ‘Forever Knight’! Dig this stunning vampiric Rick-o-riffic movie montage!

 

9. Halloween Resurrection (2002)

Here’s one of the worst movies of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, it took the finale of H20 and made it into some stupid sort of ridiculous “Scooby Doo” style plot twist. However this one makes the list because we get some “rockstar action” with Busta Rhymes, one of the main characters in it who goes toe to toe with Michael Myers in the finale and fuckin’ wins! I dig that at least!

 

8. Monster Dog (1984)

Here’s an totally odd little Italian flick called ‘Monster Dog’ from 1984 that stars superstar rocker Alice Cooper in the lead role!! The movie honestly ain’t that good but it’s a must watch for anyone looking to see Alice in more than a freaky cameo. Monster Dog is a subpar 80’s werewolf film, it starts off pretty cool but quickly begins to feel a lot longer than it’s short 84 minute run time. It’s got a couple decent werewolf scenes, cool poster art and a totally sweet ass Cooper track called ‘Identity Crisis’ that makes this one at least worth a view! Fuck yeah!

 

7. Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)

Another odd 80’s movie with totally classic box art and co stars pop star Toni Basil who dominated the charts in 1982 with her mega hit song ‘Hey Mickey’. This one’s worth a watch for that alone and has a cool soundtrack “featuring” Devo. This follows some teenagers trying to remove a curse, travel to Alcatraz and get some help from a cute 80’s ghost played by Basil. The trailer below actually makes the movie look pretty rad, but it’s one of those “best of” moments trailers, so if you check it out you’ll likely be a bit disappointed with how bland the movie quickly becomes. Still worth a watch for the pure cheez factor it all and a cool dance scene by Basil!

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VHS Verdict: The Hillbilly Horror of ‘Whiskey Mountain’!

Hot Daaayum! I’ve been swamped with work lately and totally unable to find the time to do some damn bloggin’ but now I’m back!! As you all may realize I love hunting for old vhs tapes, you just never know what the hell you’re going to find next as there’s seemingly a limitless supply of oddball movies from the 1970’s & 80’s out there waiting to be stumbled upon. Well while I was out hunting for cool shit  for my vintage shop Hollywood Babylon in Portland, Oregon (shameless self promotion) I of course found a bunch of interesting vhs tapes as well. One such was an creepy looking movie from 1977 called “Whiskey Mountain”. You just never know what you’re going to get and when I searched online for info on this flick there really wasn’t much on the web about it, so I figure I’ll try and put this one on the map a little more.

Well this is actually a pretty weird little 70’s ‘hixploitation’ flick that surely fueled more modern movies like “Wrong Turn” & “Tucker & Dale vs Evil”. I checked out the trailer for this on youtube before viewing and it looked like something worth at the very least checkin out, yeah the trailer was full of some pretty frantic 70’s action sequences & a ton of cool ass over the top 70’s fashion. A little more research online made me even more intrigued as the director William Grefe also hlemed a truly bizarre movie I totally dig called “Impulse” that stars William Shatner in his most ridiculously psychotic over the top performance of his career. So yeah I was eager to see what this had to offer. Here’s a little snippet from ‘Impulse’ so you get the gist of what Shatner’s got going on…

With ‘Whiskey Mountain’ we’ve got full on action right from the start as we meet our two main cowboys who appear far too old to be participating in a crazy dirt bike motocross race, but more power to em! One of the lead actors Christopher George is somewhat of a horror icon starring in cult classics like “Mortuary”, “Graduation Day”, “City of the Living Dead” & “The Exterminator” so I was pretty curious what ol’ Whiskey Mountain might offer me. I realized from the box that the movie was rated PG though, so I wasn’t expecting things to get too twisted. Well these two motorbike riding Marlboro men and their girlfriend’s all head off on a road trip to find a place called…you guessed it..Whiskey Mountain, a place where the weird ass locals claim doesn’t exist, which clearly means it does! Supposedly there’s treasure up some where in those hills and our two lovely 70’s couples are on a quest to find it. Of course things get freaky pretty quick when the local hillbillies at the filling station try to make lewd advances at one of the women.

At this point we follow the couple’s journey into the mountains where they encounter raging forest fires, waterfalls and of course hillbillies who’re dead set on stealing women’s panties while the gang skinny dips of course. There’s a lot of time spent trekkin’ about in the woods but luckily the movie never seems to get boring as most of the settings and landscapes are actually pretty breathtaking. It for the most part has a pretty lighthearted tone, but things take a rather jarring dark turn suddenly when the group investigates a pot farm in a mountain cave. There’s some dark shit that occurs and the movie’s “PG” rating feels waaaaay outdated. There’s a totally chilling super uncomfortable scene involving a series of Polaroids that should have easily pushed this film to an R rating, but it quickly reminded me that ratings back then ain’t at all what they are today.

The movie shifts tones dramatically quite often in the last third actually, one minute we see the disturbing “PG Rated” Polaroid sexual assault sequence and then in the next the two main hero dude cowboys are having a blast kickin’ hillbilly ass with happy banjo jams courtesy of ‘The Charlie Daniel’s Band’ a blarin’! There’s some good shit in that finale too, more motocross mayhem, a bridge gets blown the fuck up and of course one of the hero cowboy dudes jumps across on his bad ass dirt bike after (with those happy banjo jams a blarin’ again)! Then the tone shifts again as one of our main characters kicks the bucket suddenly and then just when you think the remaining members of the crew are on to safety shit hits the fan in one final Shyamalanian 70’s twist!

So yeah I recommend hunting this one down, it’s an interesting one that’s for sure, as it shows just how much you could get away with in the late 70’s with a PG rating! I dig the poster/vhs box art too and as far as hillbilly horror goes if that’s your jam this one’s a gem….  

Forgotten Movie Gems: ‘The Kindred’ Delivers That 80’s Monster Magic!

I’m always on the lookout for forgotten movie gems!! So I revisited a little creature feature called ‘The Kindred’ I’d seen waaaay back in the late 80’s and oddly never heard a peep about since. I came across the image of it’s excellent movie poster online and decided to track it down again. This one to my surprise, is one of those movies that was for some reason only released on VHS, so finding a copy was a little challenge at first. You might be able to check it out on Youtube, but I always try and avoid that if possible because the picture usually ends up a bit more blurry & pixelated.

Well turns out that this is a flick that really deserves far more love and could benefit greatly from official “cleaned up” release on dvd as the vhs transfer is pretty dark and muddy at times. But what we’ve got here is one heckuva solid monster movie from 1987 that’s largely influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. By the time I got to watching it I was a bit stoned so the plot was slightly confusing at first. Luckily that didn’t mean shit as the movie starts out with a bang and is full of plenty of awesome gruesome visuals throughout. Swift pacing can be a big problem with a lot of horror movies from the 80’s and The Kindred luckily moves along a pretty brisk pace.

Basically it’s about a guy who discovers upon his mother’s deathbed that he’s got a long lost brother named ‘Anthony’. Only problem is Anthony is small mutant monster who’s living a secluded lab, being experimented on by mad scientists. The guy goes on a quest to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of his ol’ lost bro Anthony and he gets a lot more than he bargains for. Because of course when he finds him it’s not your average family reunion full of hugs and kisses. As the mystery cleverly unfolds it’s clear Anthony isn’t your typical sibling. Nope, things get weird quick, people transform into mutant fish human hybrids and start turning up dead. I really enjoyed how towards the last 30 minutes the movie’s tone shifts & it suddenly becomes a full on “trapped in house with a monster fight for survival”.

Yep, Anthony escapes from the lab and mutates into a giant monster. The movie has got some awesome tentacled monsters, great practical fx work & an surprisingly intriguing story at it’s core. It also moves along without ever becoming a bore and when the shit hits the fan it’s a nice gory action packed spectacle to behold. I’d really love to see a cleaned up version of this movie on dvd to really appreciate the fx work that went into it, hoping Scream Factory or some releases this in the near future, I’ll be down for another viewing! If you love great monster movies of the 1980’s this one definitely worth tracking down!

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!!

VHS Verdict: The Monkey-less ‘BLUE MONKEY’ from 1987!

So I recently found a copy of an 80’s monster movie I’d been trying to track down for years- Blue Monkey from 1987. One thing I totally dig is an awesome or even badly entertaining 80’s horror flick and with this one I was certain I’d found either a lost gem or at the very least a full on golden turd!! Well it turns out I was quite wrong on both guesses, after years of waiting I was quite disappointed to find out Blue Monkey is neither, but rather a total snooze fest that’s bound to put the kibosh on any movie nite party!!

The funny thing is for the first half hour this one delivers some serious promise, that’s the sad thing because after a strong opening you’re so damn sure this movie is going to deliver the goods and then some that it’s tough to give up on it! The basic premise is someone gets bit by a weird bug in an exotic greenhouse that causes big slug like parasites to emerge from the hosts mouth. When the person is taken to the hospital that’s when the “mayhem” begins and then quickly peters out into a movie that feels far, FAR longer than it’s 97 minute run time!! Yeah the first half hour has some cool gross out fx and even introduces us to a young Sarah Polley!

 Aside from that there’s not much else to report, the rest of the movie features a shit ton of boring ass scenes of people walking around dark hallways and talking about a ton of shit my brain wasn’t willing to absorb. I watched this at a movie nite on a projector and as I looked around the room it was clear this movie was the fucking cure to the most intense case of insomnia!! I’d also like to add that there’s no blue monkey or anything related to a damn blue monkey in the whole damn film!!

Yeah people were nodding off and some I think got some nice zzzzz’s during most of the movies tiresome duration. When we finally get to see the monster mutant bug it’s just too little too late to give a damn. The only thing that kept this movie the least bit interesting were the two boozed up senior citizen patients at the hospital, and even the promise they showed waned pretty damn quick. The actual monster itself was actually pretty well done. If they’d have had the creature stalk people on and off during the loooong ass middle section of this movie it’d have been a helluva lot easier to sit through. Even adding a few of those “shadowy creature arm attacks and you throw some fake blood on a wall” type of scenes could have saved this one from being a full blown fucking sleep-aid!

I get really bummed out by movies like this, that with some clever editing, could have actually been a pretty fun little romp. It seems though the only thing this one succeeds at is being spectacularly boring, proving again the search for that lost 80’s horror gem is a tuff one. Every so often I’m proven wrong but usually if I haven’t heard of a movie being awesome from the 70’s or 80’s by the year 2017 there’s usually good reason! I’m glad the wait is over though with Blue Monkey, even though it was a total turd, it’s one I can happily cross off the list. This one never got a proper DVD release and now it’s finally clear why…you’ve been warned!!