Monday, May 22, 2017

Strike Commando - 1987

Back to back with two of the most infamously bad directors.  Godfrey Ho represented China, and now Bruno Mattei represents Italy.  Bruno Mattei is known for the Z grade of action film which this film represents perfectly, and it also stars Reb Brown of Space Mutiny fame.  I've touched on Bruno Mattei with the fun Terminator and Aliens rip off Shocking Dark as well as the other type of film he's known for, sleazefest exploitation films like Women's Prison Massacre.

Strike Commando is sort of like your average run of the mill actioner that is set in the Vietnam war.  Reb Brown stars as the incredibly dull, completely undeveloped good guy who needs to find out the hidden link between Russia and Vietnam.  He is given permission to investigate this in his own method, which means no team and no pesky commanders.  But then once he gets captured, it means no help is coming either.

The capture scene and escape was reminiscent of The Deer Hunter, but the movie this really ripped off was Rambo part 2.  In part two, Rambo was sent to Vietnam by a bunch of uncaring diplomats that turned their back on him once he was out the door.  If Deer Hunter is first rate (which it is) and if Rambo 2 (sure, that works) was second rate, then that puts Strike Commando probably in....6th rate.  Yeah, this movie was not "good" in any sense.

Doing about 5 minutes of research just now, I found something kind of odd.  Reb Brown was mostly an action film star, nothing weird about that.  However, it's funny cause all of his action movies are based around Vietnam.  Now, I know there's nothing really odd about that, he was the right age and all.  It's just funny to me that one actor would end up getting cast as a Vietnam-era soldier multiple times.  He must've felt at the end like he practically did go to Vietnam.  He probably spent more time on the sets of movies about Vietnam then some actual soldiers spent in Vietnam.

All side tracking aside, this movie was not good.  It was the sort of movie that makes you watch, you don't get side tracked as easily as some other films, however I kept wondering how much was left, and I kept noticing how second rate everything was.  Reb Brown makes a really uninteresting star also.  It's no wonder he never "took off" as a star.  Being Captain America in the 70's and acting in one movie with Gene Hackman are no doubt his career highlights, and I am not surprised in any way.

The film was made in the Philippians, and the scenery is nice.  It would look better on a high transfer DVD instead of Amazon Prime, but hey I take what I get.  According to the 2 minutes of research I just did, this is not available on DVD at all, which would not be surprising since it's public domain no doubt and I'm sure no one gives a shit about it in any way shape or form.

I give it a subpar film, Z grade in intention 2.5 stars.  It was actually not all that bad.  Good riff fodder probably.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Crocodile Fury - 1988

There's a natural allure to Godfrey Ho movies that I cannot explain, and that I sometimes wonder about the sanity of people everywhere because of.  I went out in SF last night, to our local Alamo Drafthouse theater, and caught this in a tiny theater, and I was one of 40 people there.  This is one of those infamous "dice and splice" movies that Ho is known for.  Take several scenes from movie A, and randomly cut in movie B, and act like it goes together.

Another point in the plus category for this movie is that it has literally zero information on IMDb.  The director and one actor is listed, and that is the extent of information they have about this, apparently.  I'm half inclined to go on there and list the "plot" but I like the blank, anonymous look of the page too much to alter it.

So, since you can't get it from IMDb, here it is in my words:  Maria is a crocodile.  Or, I should say, Maria can turn into a crocodile.  She is in a small village, casually killing dozens of people, when her lover Jack finds her and tells her she must stop.  How will they live together in the next life if she dirties her karma with dozens killings?  Maria is one of several crocodile/human hybrids sent by witch master Monica.  Monica also has the traditional hopping vampire at her disposal, and it's up to Jack to stop her.

This movie was completely incomprehensible.  I don't mean that as an insult, nor do I mean it as an over-exaggeration.  Seriously, this movie made no fucking sense.  First of all, it's a Chinese movie with English dubbing and Greek subtitles.  The only known DVD version permanently has Greek subtitles, just in case, you know.  So it's another situation where, who knows if the original Chinese (or even the Greek subtitles for that matter) made sense, but the English certainly didn't.  It's pretty near impossible to follow the story lines, there are tons of names being thrown out, and honestly I didn't know who half the characters were.

Going into this, it's like watching the aftermath of a tornado.  Especially if it was a town you'd never been to that got hit by a tornado.  You wouldn't know what it was supposed to look like originally.  An entire water tower or something could've been ripped out of the place, and you wouldn't know cause you had never seen the water tower there.  Half of buildings would be missing, but you'd only be able to guess what it originally had looked like.  It's like looking at a half finished painting.  And especially, an abstract painting.  Something that was by definition random and at the artistic discretion of the artist.

Let me see here.  I dunno.  I want to try and explain more about how exactly little sense this movie makes, but just thinking about it gives me a headache.  It's not terrible, it's just that it gets tedious watching something, even at only 85 minutes long, when you have no clue what's happening, why, and where it's all going.  There's like, a fight scene or two, there's crocodile puppets flying through the air, there's bad acting and dialogue, stuff happens, and then randomly the words The End, and you're wondering, "Wait it's over?!  What the fuck happened in that movie?!"

The ending was abrupt, and I was glad that I wasn't the only one in the theater to think this.  It feels like this movie could've kept going forever, not that I was enjoying it, but, just because there was never a semblance of plot and they just randomly decided to end it at one point.  So in the spirit of that,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Oh, God! - 1977

This is perhaps my first and only review of a movie I watched based solely on the internet show On Cinema At The Cinema.  I watched season seven or whatever it was when Gregg Turkington did a bunch of location shooting for the film Oh, God!  I decided shortly thereafter that I should watch the movie, based solely upon the fact that Gregg likes the movie both in character and in person.

The movie is actually awesome despite it sort of being lampooned on On Cinema, and it has aged. This movie is one of those that's got a really interesting, inquisitive nature about the world and then dresses it up in comedy.  I completely love the idea of taking serious topics and turning them into comedy.  If we can't laugh at the nature of life, ourselves, our beliefs, and the world then what in the hell can we laugh at anyways?  This movie was not laugh out loud funny, but more of a quiet, bizarre comedy.

Jerry Landers is a completely normal guy, assistant manager at a local grocery store and a firm agnostic.  He one day gets a letter that says that God wants to meet him at a building at a specific time.  He reluctantly goes after extenuating circumstances, and meets George Burns as God.  God is a somewhat grouchy older man, who gives a lot of non-answers but makes a certain type of sense in an aloof, disconnected sort of way.  He also does prove himself to Jerry's satisfaction, and he tells Jerry that he must spread God's word, much like Jesus or Moses.

The best part of this movie though, for me, was to try and imagine myself in these circumstances.  It's funny, because I've been agnostic all my life, and I basically don't think about death, life after death, god, satan, the whole situation.  And I know there are people out there, right now, every day, who swear up and down, on lie detectors and the whole deal, that they have seen or spoke to god.  So what motivates these people, and I guess when it comes down to it, how do we know if someone has ever actually seen god.  More importantly, what would we do as individuals if we saw god, if god asked us to spread his word?  It was a fun question that was addressed in a refreshingly non-religious sort of way.

This movie was highly entertaining, and it's easy to see why sequels were made.  I think it's interesting in a bizarre way that it seems people who claim to see god are labeled as crazy, at least in my book.  I always wonder about what actually convinces these people they've seen him, and one can only guess and wonder.  It's a topic that I think people don't think about or talk about enough.

But still, this movie remains casually aloof from the whole thing.  It's not out to convert anyone, and it addresses the whole thing in such a way where all the question and answer sections are good enough to appease anyone, and to where some questions are wisely avoided.  Basically it says the reason for existence is what we make it, we believe what we want, and as long as we're good to each other we are following god's plan.  I think that's a nice message anyone could get behind.

John Denver as Jerry was a weird casting choice, but he works I guess.  George Burns is fantastic as God, and the rest of the cast is good.  It's a solidly entertaining flick that surprised me with how much I liked it.  4 stars.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reptilicus - 1961

In case you've been living under a rock or you've been wondering where da fuck I been at, the new season on Mystery Science Theater 3000 launched on Netflix pretty recently.  I've been watching that in my spare time, and I also got into watching actual good movies too, lately, again.  I watched the movie The Fly from 1958, a definitely 5 star, 5 bag of popcorn treat that I loved.

But back to MST3K, I'm not going to go into the new episodes too much, but one movie they riffed which I'd also seen recently-ish was Reptilicus.  Reptilicus was the Danish answer to the recent hit Godzilla, a giant monster movie that was made to capitalize off of it's success.  This was quite the fun movie for me to see, as I'm always up for a giant monster and destruction of that sort.

From everything I can find, it doesn't look like this was ever in 3D, but there are several parts where giants monster goo comes flying at the screen, so that's kinda cool.  Sorry, sort of a random thought there.  I'm super fucking hung over today.  I didn't even drink that much.  I just had like a shot and a beer at night!  What the fuck.  I did drink all day, obviously, but towards the night I was sobering up and barely had any at all!  Fucking body.  Thanks a bunch.

Back to Reptilicus, this is one of those slow developing films.  In the beginning, a group of guys find a giant frozen reptile tail.  A scientist accidentally leaves the freezer door open and falls asleep, and the tail thaws out over night.  Then it starts regenerating, growing, and all that good stuff.  Soon enough, all of Denmark is up shit creek as a monster starts crushing buildings and spitting green acid goo all over the place.

This was the first episode of the revamped MST3K show, and as an episode it's pretty solid.  The movie is for sure one that could be riffed and enjoyed, it's pretty perfect for that sort of treatment.  As a movie aside from that experience, it's decent.  It's a bit clunky and forced, but it's good to see another take on the Godzilla idea, and the monster is pretty cool looking.  I'll also say that it doesn't feel quite as old as it is.  I guessed it was in the 70's when I was writing the title above.  So, that's pretty cool.

It's entertaining enough, nothing too memorable or awesome or anything.  A very average 3 stars.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Poseidon Rex - 2013

I had my SyFy friend over this last weekend again.  Please see my reviews of Killer Bees and Axe Giant.  I couldn't tell you how and why we ever decided to watch SyFy original movies .  This movie, Poseidon Rex, wasn't made by SyFy, but it felt so much like it that it's gonna get lumped into that group.  To make matters even worse, this was directed by the guy that did the Schwarzenegger film Commando.  From a great, classic 80's action flick to fucking CGI fest SyFy BS.  Tragic.

In case that wasn't clear, this movie is a CGI fest of BS and bad acting.  The actors in this are a whole new level of horrendous.  I wondered if they had come from porn backgrounds, but no, somehow they hadn't.  Actually, the lead actress who I hated the most was a completely fake looking bleached blonde who used to be a cheerleader for the NFL.

Plot I guess.... So, you got some divers who accidentally release a dinosaur that was trapped in the bottom of the ocean.  That's about it.  It's an aquatic T-Rex basically, they explain later that it was a very late dinosaur that was part of the bridge in the gap between reptile and dinosaur.  Like it matters?  No, of course it doesn't goddamn matter, and you'll be wondering how much of this shitfest is left once you're ten minutes in.

I watched Gantz.0, The Condemned 2, and this flick with my buddy.  This one was the worst by far.  The Condemned 2 was just a very average action flick, nothing much to say about it.  Gantz.0 was badly dubbed and never explained jack shit about what was going on, but the monsters were awesome.  This one, well, I don't have much to say about it either, but it is more in line with the blog I guess....?

Anyways.  This one hurts.  It has no inherent entertainment value.  It's a overly long, really poorly CG-ed giant T. Rex movie, and the only thing it made me question was how in the world I used to watch these types of things.  Now that I have been watching more 60s, 70s, and especially 80s movies, I feel like the intentionally bad movies that come out around now are waaaaaay worse.  I'd take one of those awful movies off the Sci Fi Invasion boxset literally any day over this fucking bullshit.  It's not even so bad it's good.  I was tired, I was also drunk, but I still feel like I was aware enough to see that this was below Z grade entertainment.  Zero stars.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Amityville: The Evil Escapes - 1989

Final Fantasy 10 has some long ass cut scenes.  What's worse, there's a lot of them.  I'm not made for these types of games where you can't skip the cinemas.  I put on From Genesis to Revelations, I mute the TV since I'm playing it on PS2, and every time there's a cut scene, I fucking take to the internet.  It was my plan to write this review during cut scenes, that's why I mention this.

Amityville 4.  I've seen some of these, I don't remember which ones.  I watched maybe two of them a few years ago in what was I guess a mini Amityville marathon.  This one, I didn't see so this doesn't count as a rewatch or anything.  At this point in the series, it had already gone gimmicky, since part 3 was the 3D one.  It was never a popular series anyways, pretty much for die hard fans only.  Haunted house movies aren't that interesting, it's one of those life facts.

So for the big #4, they pulled out all the stops by....making it be a TV movie.  Yeah, they were admitting this was in the fucking barrel, sitting on the bottom of it, by putting this shit show on TV only, and also having the main villain presence be a lamp.  Yes, you heard that, an evil lamp was the best they could come up with I guess, and it's, you know, not that cool?  How could it be, amiright?

Generic movie family #389 or whatever we're up to at this point is living in bliss until they receive an evil looking lamp as a joke gift from their grandmother's friend.  The lamp is clearly evil, because soon as it arrives the daughter character Jessica starts seeing visions of her dead father.  Soon enough, bad shit starts happening in the house, in form of people getting injured and killed.

It's your average C grade build in a made for TV movie.  There is exactly one project that was NOT made for TV in the entire filmography of director Sandor Stern.  That would be the 80's flick Pin which I have been wanting to see for a while, and I still will.  It's just funny (to me) that he was only in the realm of TV his entire IMDb life.  Without a project for over 15 years, it's clear that his mark (on TV) has been made, and his time is over.

The flick plays out like the tired 4th installment that was made for TV that it is, that's why I dwell so much on these little facts I've been spouting out.  The highlights are the idiotic people getting hurt, it's definitely too light on the kills for it to be fun though.  Most of the time, you're watch little girl Jessica being a brat, the mother character getting frustrated with everyday life, and the grandma character watching her life turn to shit.  All that is kind of fun in a way, but it doesn't keep us gorehounds or even those looking for a sub-par demon movie happy.

So the evil escapes in the form of a lamp?  And the evil's big plan is to kill off this family, but will apparently be stopped by destruction of said lamp?  Sorry, but that's just kind of weak.  Also, why the fuck is the evil in the form of a lamp anyway?  I was reminded a bit of the evil tree from that one short in that horror serial I saw, but other than that brief moment of reflection, this was just boring.  And not only because I was in a bad mood.  I give it a 1.5 star rating I guess.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Starship Invasions - 1977

11 years before he scored a favorite for me by directing The Brain, Ed Hunt was directing this sci fi almost comedy film, which when I first saw the trailer for it, I thought was a Star Wars ripoff like so many others.  It's not really, and I rescind my earlier assumption that it was.  It's actually, like I said, an almost comedy about aliens screwing things up on Earth.

Robert Vaughn plays Allen Duncan, a ufologist and believer in aliens.  Well, let's actually say he's a scientist and finds aliens to be fascinating, but is on the fence about whether he believes in them or not.  He gets a call from a grizzled old farmhand who claims to have been abducted by them.  He then goes on national TV and informs the world he believes that the Earth is being visited by aliens.  That's when the calls start coming in to him from all sorts who claim similar experiences.

Aliens are real in this, in fact, there's many different kinds.  The main evil alien is played by horror regular Christopher Lee.
Lee, who has never looked more dignified.

Christopher Lee plays the alien Ramses, who leads a group of telepathic tights-clad aliens in a mission to take over Earth because their planet is dying.  He is the one that's been abducting Earthlings, including the farmhand mentioned earlier.  They go to a secret alien hideout at the bottom of the ocean, where other alien races (the good guys) maintain a presence on Earth.  It's explicitly said that Earth is protected by the good guys, so pretty soon Ramses and his aliens start to bring the fight to the good aliens.

This movie wasn't what I thought it'd be about.  It's actually kind of cool to have two alien species warring over Earth, it reminds me a bit of the plot behind The Day Time Ended.  I was expecting it to be more human focused I guess.  Humans are involved, soon enough.  The good aliens need help fighting the baddies and they abduct Allen Duncan and his mathematician friend.  Meanwhile, the bad aliens (these alien races coulda had names, I don't fuckin remember) have a ship in orbit around Earth that's shooting a ray at Earth that makes people kill themselves.

It's a really cool sequence when the humans are killing themselves, and it's also a cool idea to have the aliens fighting each other all over outer space.  Idea sounds better than execution, however, and I'm not gonna curb stomp this movie, but something about it just wasn't all that interesting.  It's got the actors, it's got the ideas, but somehow it all felt very low-key, slightly bland, and like nothing was really happening in the flick itself.  Hard to describe I guess, maybe it was just me.

I'll give a middle of the road 2.5, and I'm a bit less excited to see Ed Hunt's other movies.  It's kinda cool though that he got to work some real actors at least once in his pretty short career.