1988’s ‘Magic of the Universe’ (Originally released as ‘Salamamgkero’ in 1986) is one HELL of a bizarre horror adventure! Shot in the Philippines and chock full of dark creepy tropical locations, you surely get a lot more than you bargained for with an odd film that clearly must have had a pretty decent budget to work with. The plot itself is pretty sweet & simple, a talented circus magician named Jamir while doing his seemingly routine disappearing act to an eager crowd, accidentally makes his assistant/daughter disappear not only into thin air but from our reality entirely.
Perplexed, Jamir decides to search for answers, heads off in search of a creepy, mysterious shaman whom he’s heard rumor of residing deep in a nearby forest. The Shaman mixes him up a concoction of some sort from the severed head of a monkey (some serious ‘Temple of Doom’ tones here) and then ventures into a danger filled alternate dimension, to try and rescue his lover & kid sidekick who also go missing shortly after his daughter does. I’m guessing the monkey brain drink (some sort of DMT type concentration) opened some sort of portal, enabling Jamir to cross over. Once on the “other side” he discovers his loved one are captives of a powerful witch named “Mikula” who’s got a huge, sweaty pulsating head and commands a grotesque army of freakish animal people minions, swamp monsters and a plethora of gooey, gross things that go bump in the night.
The whole romp is a giant, cheezy ass fever dream, full of fog, colorful yet dark sets draped in blue & pink lighting and of course some unsettling puppet creatures. One in particular is “Globo”, a weird ass gremlin type puppet with a tv screen for a stomach. Globo’s even featured in the opening credits as “himself” as they decided to show every actor in their role, with their characters names in the opening credits of the movie, something you’d expect normally at the very end. There’s so much weird shit going on here once Jamir heads off into the alternate dimension that whatever story it’s supposedly trying to tell becomes utterly lost, making the whole thing seem even more dreamlike with every minute that passes. There’s even a weird ass party / dance scene with a full band that curiously resembles GWAR in all their monster glory. I guess I’d say this flick also brings to mind a more demented & confusing version of ‘Labyrinth’ and I mean that in the best way possible. Also at a lean running time of 84 minutes the pace rarely lags, there’s easily enough eye candy to go around here to keep horror fans guessing what oddities will present themselves next onscreen. It’s main villain, (the witch Mikula) is pretty damn entertaining too, I never got tired at looking at her fleshy bulbous head bubbling and come the end of the movie you get some great gooey, 80’s style neon action in the final battle.
If you’re a fan of weird ass cinema ‘Magic of the Universe’ definitely won’t disappoint, it’s tropical, humid nightmarish sets are worth the price of admission alone. Director Tata Esteban is fully ambitious here with his grand horror fantasy vision, perhaps not the most easy to comprehend but hey, this is a perfect movie to check out with a few too many drinks & a gang of trashy cinefiles on a Saturday nite! No one will need to pay too much attention to plot either! It’s available to watch on Youtube or you can also hunt down the dvd version of the movie on a horror double feature! I’m certain there’s a VHS copy of this one out there somewhere still but it’s probably a challenge to track down. I watched this one from my Netflix DVD service (yeah, I still do that! For movies like this!) Check it out if you’re feelin’ crazy..
So now this holiday season I can say that I’ve officially seen all 5 “Silent Night Deadly Night” Movies! I’ve noticed a lot of people haven’t given the latter sequels a real chance, while the original is often a go to flick for most holiday horror fans. The fact is the 4th and 5th installments are pretty sweet additions to the franchise that operate similarly to “Halloween 3: The Season of the Witch”. Meaning they have absolutely zilch to do with the original three slasher themed Christmas flicks that came before them.
I think it’s a good thing actually, because at this point, I’m kinda over the whole “killer in a santa suit thing” trope. It’s been a done to death and the best “killer in a Santa suit” is a French movie from 1989 called “3615 Code Pere Noel” that pretty much no one has ever seen. So a year later in 1990, ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 4: The Initiation’ is it’s own movie completely, incorporating the Christmas thing just as a back drop for the whole weird ass story to unfold within. Directed by Brian Yuzna who was hot off the heels of ‘Society’ & ‘Bride of Reanimator’ helmed this x-mas oddity and even got horror icon Reggie Bannister (Phantasm) and always creepy genre fave Clint Howard to appear. On top of that he employs fx wizard Screaming Mad George (Predator, Nightmare on Elm St. 5) to work his usual bizarre monster effects magic even with the obvious limited budget.
It’s’ is a weird one that tells the tale of a reporter, played by the beautiful Neith Hunter (Near Dark) who’s investigating the bizarre death of a woman who leaped from a building and burned up in flames on the sidewalk. She soon finds herself mixed up in a weird coven of witches who’re trying to initiate her into their cult and have her take part of a gory sacrificial ceremony during the Christmas season. There’s giant bugs, disgusting transformations, huge gross maggots and Clint Howard running around like a madman chasing her all over the place. It also directly addresses the blatant sexism against women in the workplace quite nicely. Hunter’s character struggles with almost every man she comes into contact with, as pretty much all the men in this movie act like complete sexist dipshits.
There’s a bit of Yuzna’s “Society” style of grossness to “The Initiation” and it effectively displays plenty of squirm-worthy sequences that are sure to make people cringe in their seats. I enjoyed this one, not as much as ‘Part 5’ but it was a welcome departure from the Santa suit slasher concept of the previous three installments. I really wished ‘Christmas’ was more of a central theme to this but at least you get a bunch of shots with Christmas trees, decorations and lights in nearly every shot. A truly bizarre chapter in the series that’s definitely worth a watch if you’re fan of weird movies with some impressive practical effects work. You can get a three pack DVD of the Silent Night 3-5 on Amazon or pick up the VHS. Either way check it out if you’re looking for some weird cinema this holiday season!!
I’m a big fan of Alex de la Iglesia’s movies anyone who’s seen “Day of the Beast” or “The Last Circus” clearly knows that his movies always have something incredibly different to offer to whatever genre he’s directing. His new flick “Witching and Bitching” or otherwise known as “Las brujas de Zugarramurdi” ups the mayhem ten fold as this latest trailer will leave you breathless and perhaps a bit bewildered. There’s no subtitles on any of the trailers so far so check out this quick synopsis they offered as it will help in making sense of exactly what is going on in the trailer.
“Hugo Silva and Mario Casas play two hapless thieves, whose plan to rob a jewellery store unravels quickly when they have to bring one of their sons along, the ex-wife borrows the getaway car, they end up headed to France for Euro-Disney World instead of the planned Morocco, and they run into a coven of flesh eating witches in the Basque country.”
Due in theaters internationally in Septemeber, I can’t wait for this one to be released here in the USA check this shit out…