Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Forest - 1982

With the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th in the early 80's came countless imitators trying to cash in on the serial killer craze.  Some of these movies decided that clearly what gave Halloween it's success was basing your horror film around a holiday.  Apparently that's what they thought anyways, as movies like New Years Evil, April Fool's Day, Home Sweet Home, and countless others appeared all at once.  The imitators for Friday the 13th were numerous as well, and since 13th was just about a killer in the woods it was even easier to copy.

So, you have a few well known Friday the 13th imitators from the 80's, like Sleepaway Camp or The Burning, and mostly the imitators of 13th were kind of decent.  Oddly enough, 13th spawned better imitators than Halloween, in my opinion.  Now, I love a good slasher flick.  It's a style that is so simple, so direct, and needs little direction or difference to keep someone interested.  It's a style where nothing has to be "different" or "new" but if you get the atmosphere and the sense of tension right, it's going to be a good movie.

Of course, one of those thin lines a film can walk is how to present your murderer.  Usually in a slasher movie your killer is an enigma, dark and mysterious, with reasons either being cryptic or severely disturbing.  Halloween was the best of the cryptic killer movies, without a doubt.  Friday the 13th had a cryptic killer, presented as more of a whodunnit than anything else.

The Forest is a little known 1982 horror movie that has every reason to be forgotten about.  It's not especially good, memorable, or bloody, has no nudity or even bad language, and the killer is actually shown in a more sympathetic light.  There's a very easy plot, basically some people go camping and there's a killer loose in the woods.  The movie goes for a weird supernatural feel as the woods are also infested with the ghosts of the killer's family, which at times help out the 4 people who are running around in the woods.

Through the ghosts and the killer's memory we are shown why the killer man became the crazy cannibal dude that he is.  He was cheated on by his abusive wife, and went nuts and killed her.  Then his children both committed suicide which drove him completely over the edge.  It's this that makes us sympathize with him a little bit.  It's not the most effective strategy, as the movie never describes why he is a cannibal, or why the children committed suicide.  I think they just wanted to make him scary as can be (by making him cannibal) yet wanted to have a "reason" (the wife thing).

The movie is cheap, flimsy, and there are no scares in it, The single best part would probably be the retarded flashback in which we see the man discovering his wife is cheating on him.  Not only does it show him as a complete idiot, but his reaction is so bland, and the death scene so slow and boring, that it makes for a few laughs.  The movie could easily be the subject of some MST style treatment, if you are feeling up for it.  Long periods of silence, corny dialogue, stupid characters, it has all the ingredients.

Another good thing about the movie was the awesome original music.  The soundtrack is obviously trying to be as memorable as the iconic Halloween and Friday the 13th scores, with a "theme".  The 80's synths of the soundtrack are in full gear throughout the film, which is super awesome and silly.  Plus there are some really bad, 70's sounding soul-type pop songs that litter the film, and they are truly laughable.  That gives the film an entire star rating higher, because it's things like that that make your horror movie good, memorable, and fun.

All these things considered it ends with a 1 star rating.  The killer was just not scary, in fact I'm almost sure he wasn't supposed to be.  This movie was almost more of a psychological thriller than anything else.  See it if you're going to riff it or if you LOVE slashers like I do.  Otherwise, it's more than skip-able.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Venom - 1981

Ah, snakes. We return at last to the subject of snakes. I've only touched on snakes maybe once so far in this blog? With that movie Stanley? That sounds right to me. The real question is which creature has more movies based on it, snakes or sharks? I'd guess sharks, but snakes are up there in terms of movies being made about them.

Venom is your usual British thriller film with a snake element added in. This movie feels extremely British, usually in the "bad" way- meaning lots of dialogue. Get ready to sit there and listen listen listen as these guys go on and on about something or other. It's not like there isn't any action in this movie, cause there is, but geez, someone could've taken a whole bunch of this dialogue out of the movie and nothing would have changed.

I also haven't reviewed a movie that has starred Klaus Kinski yet. I fuckin love the Kin-ster. He's amazing, and one of my favorite actors. I find it odd that he never really "made it big" in any movies, I guess his most known roles would be the 3 films he did for Werner Herzog. But that dude was a charismatic, insane actor! He could pull off a madman like no other, helped in no small part by how he looked. Kinski is smaller than his cohort in this movie - at 5'8" he wasn't huge, but his presence is way more intimidating than any other actor I can think of.

It seems to me that stars from Europe have more of a free pass now, it's not uncommon to see International stars pop up in all sorts of projects made for Americans now. Sure, the British and the Americans have always traded actors back and forth, but there are not a lot of German, Polish, or Scandinavian actors that I see in American movies. I think it's too bad, cause a lot of them are super good. Klaus Kinski was in some American made movies, but mostly they were bad ones like Time Stalkers, Android, and Schizoid (great named movies, right?).

Which leads me to my other point, no other "good" actor that has had successful movies was in so many terrible films. Sure, you can name dozens of good actors in bad movies, but by bad in this case I'm talking super low budget, made for TV, etc. It's a complete shame that Kinski was not better embraced by film casters, cause he would've been amazing in some American movies. I hear he was offered a part in Indiana Jones, but turned it down unfortunately.

Back to Venom....Venom is like I said, a snake thriller in which a young boy accidentally brings home a black mamba. At his home, there is some sort of theft going on with Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed, I didn't quite understand what they were robbing or why, maybe I wasn't paying attention. The mamba gets loose and bites Klaus's girlfriend like 6 times. At this point they don't know it's a highly venomous snake, because the boy thought it was a innocent garden snake.

Then the girlfriend dies and someone calls the police, a policeman shows up at the house and Oliver Reed shoots the officer. Thus the police force descend upon the house with their whole "situation" going on, the criminals inside have the boy and his grandfather hostage, and there's a deadly black mamba "somewhere" loose inside the house. It's a solid reason for thrills and spills aplenty.

I didn't like the lead police officer played by Nicol Williamson. For some reason he seems incredibly bored with this hostage situation, and overly tired. When he first meets Klaus Kinski he doesn't take him seriously as a threat, and just sort of wanders off after Klaus let's him know his demands. Why? Who the fuck knows. Later, Klaus feels obligated to show he means business, and has to literally terrify the hostages at gunpoint in order to let the police know he's serious. Sure, maybe the policeman was trying to call his bluff or something...but I'm pretty sure with 2 hostages you don't just say "they'll be fine" and leave.

This movie is apparently a cult film, but I'd never heard of it. I only know this because on IMDB the keywords are "grindhouse" and "cult film". psychotronic | grindhouse | cult film | black mamba | snake| See All (39) » See, that's what they put on IMDB. I guess I could see why, though in my opinion it's purely because it features a weird crazy criminal played by Kinski. Being a fan of him, but not of this movie is hard. Sure, it gets points for Kinski, the real snake, the realistic feel to the flick, and decent pacing. But somehow it also felt overdone, suuuuper slow at times, and just not very good. Maybe that was just me.

Problems aside, it's worth seeing if you like Kinski, slow thrillers, snakes, or what I feel might be an "accurate"-ish crime drama. Also, Kinski is written well, the dialogue he has is great, and his performance is spot-on. I guess in that light I'll, give it 2.5 stars. But for some reason, I just didn't like it, still.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

She Gods of Shark Reef - 1958

Filmed as part of a back-to-back production in Hawaii by Roger Corman, She Gods of Shark Reef is a mostly forgotten, formulaic Corman film.  To see the Corman formula you can click here, or I'll just go copy it out of the previous review and post it for you:

1) "strong" female lead - the lady that seemingly is a major character who is strong outwardly, but is actually just hiding behind her outward strength and is in truth just as girly as all women were depicted in the 50's

2) lotsa dialogue - sure, it is usually plot dialogue, and one could argue that it's needed, but man is there lotsa dialogue and talking. Shut the fuck up already! Move on!

3) Tomboys - going back to that female thing, there is usually a tomboy in a Corman movie. This girl will wear jeans, plaid colors, and sometimes be called by a nickname like "Princess" because hahahaha, it's FUNNY! They're calling HER princess!!

4) As little monster scenes as seemingly possible - Yes, please do save the monster for the last 2 minutes and have it only appear like twice in total. NO! We want to see the fucking monster!

5) Ma and Pa - there's a tradition of old-timeyness in Corman movies. So usually Ma and Pa are there, and usually they are still in love as they were when they got married. Pa sometimes has to hold her shoulders and shake her when she's afraid; but it's the fifties, that's what women were for.

6) The halfwit - my least favorite and surprisingly common character to show up in any movie. This guy is usually unexplained, or just explained as being "slow"
Now to that, the only thing which I forgot about, and which I would now add is:
7)  Criminals as the stars of the film, or the main characters committing criminal deeds.

This movie follows 1,2,3, kinda 5, and 7 for sure.  Thus we move onto the plot!  The film opens with a couple guys getting stranded on a tropical island.  The inhabitants are a bunch of indigenous women wearing tropical printed clothes - and no men.  They are led by a semi-bossy matriarch who does not like the fact the men are here, and especially doesn't like that the main character Chris is hitting it off with island girl Mahia.  Turns out all the women collect pearls, worship the sharks that swim in the waters by their island, and due to Mahia's love affair, she is to be sacrificed!

It's a very basic plot, nothing too special, and it moves along at a brisk pace.  At barely over an hour long, this movie flew by for me.  Somehow it felt like even shorter than that.  Whether that's because it's good or not, at least it won't waste your time.

For a film made in Kauai and featuring a beautiful backdrop they sure don't focus on it, though.  The photography is dismal, the lighting is bad, and the footage all looks like stock footage that's been sitting in a crate for several decades.  And of course, the movie is old, and maybe subsequent DVD releases cleaned it up, but I think it's more that Corman wasn't shooting on nice equipment.

Since it's short, since it's from 1958 and therefore super old, you have to give it some leeway in terms of a "bad movie" rating, but it's definitely not aged well.  It has no depth, it has no tension.  While the shark scenes are cool, and sometimes the actors (or stand-ins) were quite close to the sharks, it doesn't manage to have a sense of danger around it.  I do wonder what it must've been like in '58 though, I doubt people had ever seen that sort of thing before.

For the lightning quick pacing, decent shark scenes, and lack of plot-holes or confusion, I'll be graceful with a 2.5 star rating.

Unforgettable - 1996

Well, I wasn't going to include this movie in this blog, but then I figured, you know, this movie is one of those easy to watch forgettable 90's movies, much like Rodentz, Convict 762, Ice Cream Man and Brain Twisters....so why not throw this one in too?  I find that when it comes to bad movies I inevitably start long ago and then work my way up to current.  This is an ongoing thing with me, I'll watch say, The Time Machine or something, then some 70's sci fi movie, then an 80's teen thriller, and then some late 90's action thing.  It's like a cycle.  Then I'll go back to the 50's for something and start all over.

The 90's were sort of the king of boring, dumb, every-one-is-exactly-the-same action movies.  Whether this was because more were being made for TV only with no hopes of theatrical release, or the popularity of action movies at the time, I'm sure it was a combination of those factors and more.  But also incredibly popular was the sexy thriller drama movie.  These were like the dark female with the shady cop and the cocaine doing bad-guy....you know the type of movie.  The 90's were the king of the anti-hero.  They also didn't make their anti-heroes stupid like in movies now.

Unforgettable is kind of an mystery/drama/thriller type movie that was pretty much made to exist in the 90's only.  It feels incredibly 90's, and that's reinforced by starring Ray Liotta, Linda Fiorentino, and Christopher McDonald.  It even has Kim Cattrall in a small role!

Ray Liotta plays David Krane, a tough cop who was at one point framed for the murder of his wife, but the case was dismissed.  He wants to solve the case, but has no leads.  He attends a seminar held for an experimental new drug, designed by Linda Fiorentino as Martha.  Martha won't let him try out the drug, which is designed to let him experience the memories of other people (namely, his wife).  He steals the drug one night, and injects himself with it.

The movie goes through some padding as he experiences these memories, finds out his wife was cheating on him, first suspects one guy and then another, etc.  It's all very average mystery movie stuff with no real surprises.  The flashbacks get kind of tedious and the movie does suffer from being way too long.  I had the "thrill" of watching this movie 32 ounces deep into malt liquor and I still had a few times where I wondered how much of the movie was left.  We know he's going to get the guy, does it really have to take that long?!  At almost 2 hours, this movie should have been 90 minutes tops.

Another bland movie, another bland review, I'm getting tired of dishing out these constant 1 and 2 star reviews.  Where does this one land?  I dunno, probably on the low end of that spectrum.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Warlock - 1989

I really didn't intend to watch this few movies this month.  I really started off with a bang on this blog.  But I'm slowin' waaaay down.  Sorry, but since there's no one reading anyways, that kind of makes it easier to not care.  I took in Warlock while I was at my work yesterday and today, kinda split it in half between the two days.

Warlock is one of those forgotten about movies from the late 80's that was green lit (most likely) because of such films as Highlander being successful.  Warlock is kind of your typical action-adventure type thing that aims for the mid-level entertainment demographic and fanbase and succeeds in somewhat appealing to it.  Warlock was mildly successful in that it spawned two sequels, but it is mostly unknown nowadays, it doesn't have the following other similar movies had.

Warlock is about Julian Sands as the title Warlock getting transported to modern day America.  Along with him comes Warlock hunter Redferne.  They both come from the 1600's or something, and so naturally wacky misunderstandings about modern technology take place with Redferne as he interacts with local 80's girl "Kassandra with a K".  Yes, it's your typical out-of-place comedy antics as Redferne doesn't understand cars and whatnot and the 80's girl wearing a fucking pink midriff shirt shows him what's what. 

I don't mean to make this movie sound like your fish out of water comedy, cause it's not, but I honestly thought it would head that way when I saw these guys interact.  The good thing though is there's plenty of Julian Sands in the film being pure evil.  He's out to get some pages from a book so he can learn the true name of god and undo all of creation.  He also puts a spell on Kassandra that ages her 20 years every day, so now she's roped into helping Redferne.

The movie goes mostly as expected, they clash a few times with Redferne eventually getting outsmarted or beaten in some wily way, and Kassandra and Redferne clash in their typical way - featuring the ever-so-classic part where Kassandra could leave but doesn't, and instead chooses to continue helping Redferne stop Warlock.

One thing I appreciated is that we see Sands being super badass and powerful throughout the film, He isn't just occasionally cool.  Also, I like that they let Redferne be powerful too, Red hurts the Warlock several times, and so does Kassandra.  There's a particularly cool segment where she drives nails through his feet through some magic with sand  (yeah, sounds weird, I know).

The movie's decent.  It kills time, it doesn't bore you to death, and the characters and music are solid enough.  It's not as classic as Highlander, but it's a decent ancient-warriors-fight-in-modern-times flick.  I wonder what other movies fit into that "genre"?
I'll give it a good 3 stars.  It's definitely not like, AMAZING or anything....

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Convict 762 - 1997

You're probably wondering what ever happened to my reviews of boxsets just about now.  Yes, it's true, I haven't done one in a little while and I feel quite ashamed.  You know what I did though, I drastically overbooked myself.  I went and got myself 6 fuckin boxsets, and I have Netflix, and Amazon, and Hulu, and I have movies I rent from the library.  Then I bought VHS (See: Swordsman II review) and I also have other movies I find online, or movies I get from "wherever".

I took a vacation recently.  My wife and I went to Idaho, the state I was born in, and a place where a lot of my family still resides.  While we were there we stopped in at some gas station that I think was a Love's, and there they have just about every random thing you can think about.  We got macaroni with bacon flavored Lay's chips (not bad, but not especially "macaroni and bacon" flavored) we got some bizarre flavored Mountain Dew soda, and we were almost going to leave when my wife spotted the discount DVD rack.

These DVDs were extremely cheap.  3 for $10 might not seem like the bottom-of-the-barrel prices you'd normally "write home about" (in this case, "write online about") except that some of these DVDs were multi-movie packs!  Thus I picked up 10 movies for $10.  I got one 5 movie action pack featuring Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal, I got one 2-movie pack that I forget, and then I got this:

Just about as awesome as it looks, this is a bottom of the barrel DVD release indeed.  It's a fucking cardboard sleeve!  The DVD, not pictured, is a double sided beast not even worthy of a protector sleeve.  Now I know what you're thinking:  but you've already reviewed Dark Planet!  Yes, I did actually forget that I'd seen that movie.  It was that forgettable.  So, now I own a copy....yaaaaay...
This will count as a boxset though, and thus we begin what is going to be a very easy boxset review for me, only one movie left!

In Convict 762, which feels extremely made for TV, the storyline goes that a ship of all-females is flying around in a bad CGI vessel, when they run into something and they lose a bunch of fuel.  The nearest place to gas up is a highly dangerous prison planet, and they don't wanna go but have no other option.  Once they land they find a guy who claims to be a guard and tells them Convict 762 killed everyone else, and is now loose on the planet.  762 boards the ship of course, and is played by Billy Drago.

Once 762 and the prison guard are on board, Drago gets loose, people start dying, and the plot goes through a washing machine.  You see, of course the "guard" guy is himself a prisoner, and now they can't trust him...it's all very "been there done that".  No, the all-female crew does not have lesbian sex, and the closest we get to nudity is in the last 5 minutes of the flick.  

It's your standard who's the bad guy type plot and when Drago "dies" the lead chick decides to have sex with the "guard".  Then she goes up to the ship's cabin, and in the worst sequence ever, "thinks about" what's happened since they got both men on board and then randomly decides the "guard" is in fact the evil one.  So the two minutes in which you decided that the "guard" was evil is enough to convince you thoroughly?!  And why would you not "think about what happened" before you fuck the guy?!!!

Anyways, the end sucked.  The movie sucked.  The editing was under the premise that "maybe if we show random shots of dimly lit guys laughing and saying indeterminable things, that will be scary?" and the acting by the females was horrendous.  Billy Drago was overacting like a true OG and the prison guard dude was also horrid.  This movie gets denounced to half a star because of the stupid fucking end.

Spirit of Bruce Lee - 1973

Ah, "Brucesploitation" yet another untouched-on-by-this-blog mini sub-genre.  This was the phenomenon where, after the rather sudden death of Chinese megastar Bruce Lee, dozens of films hopped on the martial arts bandwagons with imitators, lookalikes, and similar storylines, names or unofficial sequels to existing Bruce Lee movies.  This didn't last too long, how long can one really imitate a star like Lee?  Not to mention that these films didn't really "fool" anyone, people knew he was dead and none of the "replacements" for him caught on.

The most un-subtle of these films is also perhaps the most known, Game of Death.  Only 11 minutes of actual footage of Lee was used, and the rest of the film we see some Asian guy in giant sunglasses, or with his back to the camera, or shot from far away to mask the fact he didn't look like Bruce Lee at all.  That compiled with the fact that actual, real footage of Bruce Lee's corpse is used.  Creepy.  So that movie was in a word distasteful.  And luckily, many of the other rip-offs aren't so low.  They merely have stars that are names something "too similar" to his name, Bruce Li, Bruce Lai, etc.  That or they randomly use his name in their title, like this movie, Spirit of Bruce Lee.

Why is this movie called that?  Well, as near as I can find, the original name was Angry Tiger.  aka The Spirit of Bruce LeeSpirits of Bruce LeeSpirits of Bruce Li.  Source.  The funniest thing about those alternate titles is the one "Spirits of Bruce Li".  Because, Bruce Li is actually a totally different actor ALSO not in this movie.  This movie has Wai-Man Chan, playing a character named Chang Chen-Wai!  So where the fuck did "Spirit of Bruce Li" come from?!

Anyhow, this movie is you basic martial arts flick with a loose, who-gives-a-fuck plot.  Chen-Wai goes to Thailand to find out what happened to his brother, who went there a little while back and stopped communicating with him.  Chen-Wai is befriended by some other local Chinese peeps living in Thailand, and they all find out Chen-Wai's bro is dead.

Some of the funny scenes and dubbed dialogue in this movie:
A 70's screen-divides-into-thirds part where the character is seen walking - from 3 different angles!
A midget yelling at a fat guy!
Two characters talking about what it would be like if they were cripples!
This line:  "Ow my leg!"  "What's the matter, is it your leg?"

Chen-Wai finds his brother's watch being part of a bet that some Thai guys are doing, and he is soon hot on the trail of the guy that killed his brother.  He does a whole lot of investigating with the help of the Chinese family, but soon the evil gang that killed his brother are aware of him, and they burn down the house of the family that's helping him.  So now he's not only out to revenge his brother, but to get even for the burned house.

It's an interesting enough movie I guess, not a lot of action, and nothing that really makes it special.  It moves kind of slowly, it's predictable, and nothing in it really caught my attention or made me glad I was watching it.  The silly moments and the dubbing didn't happen enough for it to be funny, nor where there obvious translation errors that would have made it interesting.  So, in short it wasn't that good.  I guess that's what I'm trying to say.  It's completely middle of the road, gimmick-less, and bland martial arts "action".
I give it 1 star.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan - 2013

I think there needs to be a separate rating system for Sci-Fi original movies, as they are intended to be cheap-ass, bad-CGI messes that generally suck and are not supposed to do much besides kill your time and perhaps serve as alcohol background.  That said, there is a current surge of popularity regarding Sci-Fi (now called SyFy) movie Sharknado, because of it's ridiculous title, and the fact that it's becoming fashionable and cool to be nerdy and idiotic.

Sci-Fi has a long history of making just about the stupidest shit you'll ever see, and then sometimes having stuff that's surprisingly watchable.  Sure, the movies are bad.  They are supposed to be bad.  But like Milpitas Monster, the movies are also done with tongue-in-cheek film makers and they kind of suck you in.  They are "safe", they are low-rent, and they kind of remind me of my childhood, watching stupid movies but finding them entertaining anyways.

Some of the movies that perhaps won't make it to your TV any time again soon, but deserve for you to know about:
Wyvern, Roadkill, Planet Raptor, Sand Serpents, Mongolian Death Worm, Ice Twisters, Ogre, Sasquatch Mountain, SS Doomtrooper, Fire Serpent, Jabberwock, Metal Tornado, Roboshark, 3 Headed Shark Attack, Sand Sharks, Komodo vs. Cobra, Sharktopus, Rock Monster, Monster Ark, Dinoshark, Super Gator, Dinocroc....Oh I could do this all fucking day.
Granted I have not seen ALL of these I have seen MOST of them.

Axe Giant is the story of a group of some "troubled teens" that go out in the woods for some sort of military-run bootcamp to get them respecting their environment and whipped in shape, etc etc.  They run into trouble when a giant fucking ridiculous dude (Bunyan) in one of those foam outfits that's supposed to look like muscle comes out of nowhere and starts killing them.  Joined by local loopy hillbilly Joe Estevez, who at least looks like he had fun camping it the fuck up, they have to try and survive the various CG and bad effects that attack them every once in a while.

The plot is retarded, as you can tell, and it doesn't matter anyways.  People fight bad things.  There, that's the plot in 4 words.  There is an entire sequence, the backstory of Bunyan, that shows his fabled blue ox, which in this movie is depicted as some horrible looking CG thing straight out of a demented kids cartoon.  I do give mad props to the film for not having a CG Bunyan as well, although it probably would've looked better than the stupid foam body-suit.

The trend for these Sci-Fi features is to kill the baddie via explosion.  I just spoiled like, 85% of the Sci-Fi original movies for you.  Seriously, it's ridiculous.  This one doesn't take that road though, and they actually defeat Bunyan extremely easily, by shooting him.  Well, anticlimax, but maybe they were going for the possible sequel should billions of people love it and demand more Bunyan.

The kills were mostly lame, the characters sloppily acted and shallow, the script overly silly and just plain bad, and the "effects" well, read my previous comments on them.  The movie is bad.  But it's also awesome, a true Sci-Fi original in feel and execution.

As I already stated, I'm just going to review whatever I feel like on this website, so this doesn't fit into Grindhouse, but does fit into "phenomenally bad" so I think it's worthy of the web.  Plus there's like no reviews of this movie online.

I'm going to give it 1 star, not because it's bad, but because it should literally be impossible for any Sci-Fi thing to get more than that.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chopping Mall - 1988

Well Chopping Mall definitely wins so far in the category of "best named movie I have reviewed for this website".  That's just fuckin great, Chopping Mall.  Classic.  And the movie is deserving of that great title, the movie itself is very good and a lot of fun.

Jim Wynorski is one of those guys like Charles Band, probably best known for doing bad movies, and that's fine, he probably embraces it.  I don't know if he declares himself a bad movie director like Band does, but he is at least partially aware of his reputation, I feel pretty sure.

Chopping Mall is a definite 80's movie.  That's a good thing if you're a movie guy like me.  The 80's were awesome for movies.  Practical effects were still in usage, the music and the clothes and the hair was all insane and fun.  The actresses and actors were not all glamorized by Hollywood and overdone with makeup, they let real looking people be the major stars of their films.  Now I feel like every actor has to look the same, and everyone is makeup-ed the fuck over.

One of the things I love about 80's movies especially is the presence of the nerds.  Nerds nowadays I feel are unrealistic, nerds in these movies were more realistic; they were actually unsocial, had problems, and didn't make friends easily.  As a nerd myself, I can tell you that it's not like it's depicted by guys like John Heder or Seth Rogan or Jesse Eisenberg.  Nerd-ship is painful and awkward.

Anyways, back to Chopping Mall.  This movies fuckin rocks.  If you took the first scene of Robocop, where ED-209 goes crazy and kills that guy, and then if you made a whole movie like that, that might accurately describe the plot of Chopping Mall.  Chopping Mall is about these little Johnny-5 looking droids that are designed to be protector-droids.  They have tank treads for feet and big red eyes, and two hook-like hands on stretchy arms.  They're fucking awesome, and real.  Not real robots, but not bastard CGI creations.

The evil Johnny-5's get activated when lightning hits a downtown mall late at night.  Of course, 6 teenagers are in the mall, seemingly just camping out there cause they can. 3 Johnny-5's activate, kill the night watch men, and then comes after the teens.  So it's 6 horny teens vs. 3 evil Johnny-5's.  And it's great, thoroughly.

The music is awesome too.  Synths and toms as only the 80's could do.  The actors are good enough and do their job, and the pacing is terrific.  All in all this movie isn't even so-bad-it's-good, this movie is just legitimately good.  Deserves to be better known.  I think this has all the makings of a modern cult classic.  I'd love to see it at midnight in a theater with hardcore fans.  Be fuckin sweet.

I'm feeling great about it, it gets four damn stars!

Oh, so you're saying all Italians are evil robots.  I get your hidden message here, Wynorski

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Heatseeker - 1995

There seemed to be a plethora of bad action movies in the late 80's and early to mid 90's.  My personal opinion is that the success of some of those early Steven Seagal movies, combined with the initial success of Jean Claude Van Damme, and the presence of Schwarzenegger still making good movies, Stallone, et all, made directors eager to jump on the action movie bandwagon.

I mention Seagal and Van Damme first because they were doing the straight beat-em-up style of action; no guns, no knives, no sci fi or fantasy aspect to most of those movies.  Those movies were just about a straight-shooter whole-hearted clean-cut guy going one on one with seemingly unstoppable evil.

The perfect example of this in my opinion is Van Damme in Bloodsport.  Movies like that made for an easily imitable action movie formula.  And Heatseeker, directed by lesser known bad movie maker Albert Pyun, is definitely a cheapo ripoff of all the action movies that were coming out at the time.

It is the future, naturally, and damn, a lot has to happen really quick, cause this movie takes place in 2019.  And to quote GTA Vice City, in the future there will be robots.  These robots are more like the cyborg implanted humans though.  And they compete in fights.  So humans with a certain percentage of robot in them fight to the death in this contest, and it's cool and all.  Except that one guy, the good guy, Chance O'Brian, is all human.

The only human in his league against superior, stronger and faster robots, Chance O'Brian (extremely Irish sounding name for an Asian guy) is going to have to be the best to win over any of these guys in battle.  But don't worry, he is the best and magically defeats everyone he's pitted against.  But his hot female manager has some implanted part and the chief bad guy played by Gary Daniels uses it to control her.

After we get to see her perfect, sweat covered tits, she is now in the bad guy corner and Chance is up against the big bad himself, Gary Daniels as Xao.  Asian guy with Irish name vs. British guy with Asian name.  Okay, weird.

Heatseeker is one of those extremely low quality, no surprises, no hidden easter egg type movies.  It follows a crayon-drawn plot and it's so simplistic you'll probably consider turning it off several times.  I know I did.  I mean we all know what's going to happen.  The clean cut human is going to beat the evil android dude.  Might I mention that this plot is the same as a Twilight Zone episode called Steel?

Heatseeker was probably made to be slightly edited and shown on TV, and it really only serves to put another entry into the long list of forgettable 90's action movies.  I'll give it a star, for Gary Daniels, who I like, and the hot chick's nice breasts.  Tried to find you a photo of it but couldn't.  Also, btw, the title of the movie has nothing to do with the plot.

Badlanders - 1992

Also known as Prison Planet....

God this movie is ridiculous.  In a mostly good way, I will say, but still.  This is like Mad Max meets....well, it's basically just a Mad Max ripoff really, but with a plot obviously stolen from countless other B grade crap where it's just an excuse to have people conflict.  And conflict they do, with characters so overdone and plot so whisper thin they might as well just name people "Character A" and "B" etc.

When reluctant good guy Blaine (Character A) is sent to prison planet, it looks like he's shit outta luck.  Although it's referred to as "Prison Planet" and that's even the name of the movie, there is no actual prison on the planet, so that's sort of unclear.  In fact, it just looks like Arizona, which is in fact where they filmed this.  There are of course random gangs of good and bad guys on prison planet which our hero semi-interacts with,

It all leads to mr. hero's true conquest, he is looking for the true ruler of Earth, who is a man named Himshaw.  Oh and did I mention the name of the planet where our hero comes from?  Anakin.  Great reference there, guys. Sorry, this movie is nowhere as good as, and nothing like Star Wars.

While searching for Himshaw, Blaine runs into the evil group that runs prison planet, led by this mustached weirdo Broxton.  Broxton looks fucking ridiculous with his stupid mustache.  There is also insanely annoying character Heinsy (I think that's his name).

That's when I discovered that this movie has all the necessities for a fantastic drinking game.
1)  A drink every time the annoying guy is annoying as fuck
2) A drink every time the mustache guy looks like an idiot
3) A drink every time you can see far off power lines or roads that are obviously not supposed to be seen
4) A drink every time the main character Blaine looks like a total loser
You'll be shwasted in no time!

So this movie is a great drinking game, and I drank a little watching it.  It's got that easy to follow type of plot which is great for drinking to, and it's not taking itself too seriously but also not self aware enough to be unfunny.  The characters are fucking retarded and the script is only worthy of being toilet paper.

But, high watchability rating and stupidity make it a great bad movie night movie, a great one to watch at all your bad movie parties, and a good one to put on if you're in a bad mood and want to watch stupid people being hurt.
I give it a solid 2.5 stars.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Master of the Flying Guillotine - 1976

Here we go, with more kung fu movies to make us scream.  This movie has picked up quite a cult following due to high recommendations from Quentin Tarantino as well as others, and it is something everyone should probably see.  Also known as The One Armed Boxer vs. the Flying Guillotine.

This movie is a sequel, the first film The One Armed Boxer has not picked up the type of following that this movie did, and that's probably unfortunate.  This movie is a true sequel where it talks about things that happened in the first movie and thus we're left with only a partial storyline.

Apparently, a one armed boxer killed some fighters that were related to the Flying Guillotine guy, who is named Fung Sheng Wu Chi.  Fung Sheng is tracking down and killing all people with one arm in his search for the one armed boxer, a bit of an unnecessary overkill if you ask me.  He kills them with the weapon of the title, the flying guillotine.  The flying guillotine is a truly awesome weapon, a  red dome that has a saw blade around the edge.  He throws the dome over the top of a persons head, a screen drops over their face, and the blade decapitates them!

There is tons of fighting in this movie.  Let's just say that straight up and let it sit.  There is TONS of it.  This movie sometimes gets mixed reviews, sometimes gets lambasted by critics.  And I think the reason is the amount of fighting.  Now, if that's what you're looking for, awesome!  But if it's not, well...  There is a series of fights- a tournament, that take up literally 20 minutes of this movie.  The fights are not plot progressive, only two of them really matter, and the rest are just fights for the sake of fights.

Additionally, a lot of the fights in this movie forgo having truly unique choreography and effects in lieu of just having real martial artists show their skill.  So sometimes it gets a bit tedious.  This movie does have some cool special characters though.  There is an Indian fighter who can stretch his arms out like Dhalsim in Street Fighter, for example.

The fighting "problem" aside, this movie is flawless.  The soundtrack is strange and unique, a lot of German music, bizarre sounds, and it somehow works.  The characters are very memorable, and the movie moves along at a good pace.  The dubbed version of it is well acted and performed, the subtitles version more true to life, but this is not a film where it especially matters which version you watch.

I would say this movie is worth seeing for any fan of kung fu movies, weird movies, and generally anyone.  It has enough entertainment value to watch even if you don't like "these types" of movies, just fast forward that 20 minute pointless fight sequence.

I'll give it 4 stars.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Monster - 1980

Copied right from Wikipedia:   released in 1980 as Monstroid, and is also known as Monstroid: It Came from the Lake (American DVD box title) and The Toxic Horror (American alternative title).

So it's got an identity crisis, what else do you expect from a low-fi, indie horror film?  You know what this website is seriously running low on at this point - reviews of movies that I watched while drinking.  Yeah I know, there are some on here, namely It's Alive.  But I've not done that for quite a long time.  I don't know why I specifically mention this right now....  But damn it, I went out and bought 4, yes 4 different types of malt liquor.

Now, I would normally say "I'll drink them all for you, my gigantic fanbase!"  But I drank too much on Sunday, and things went kinda badly, so I'm not going to do that.  Especially because 4 bottles amounts to 112 ounces of highly alcoholic beer.  I got two 40's: St. Ides and Colt 45, and then two 16 ouncers: Schlitz and Magnum.  So, I'm rocking the kwality!

Monster is your average sort-of Jaws, sort of whatever ripoff horror film, getting back on subject.  Taking into account that this film was actually started in 1971 but was only done and released in 1980, it makes more sense to think of it as early 70's than 80's.  It's got that low quality shittiness of the 70's crusted all over it's stupid face.

Monster stars John Carradine in a I-was-on-set-for-only-two-days type role; a religious guy who never really does anything noteworthy.  Other than that it has James Mitchum, and a bunch of other unknown people.  It is about, well, guess.  A monster.  In a lake.  That's killing people.  And it feels made for TV.

I wanted to compare this to 2003's film Monster with Charlize Theron, because why shouldn't I?
- both films are set in backwoods communities filled with ugly, disgusting people
- both films make their stars look awful (Monster 2003 just did it with makeup, this film actually made them look like bad actors)
- ummm, this is getting hard.  Both films starred some well known people?

Okay, fuck that.

Monster 1980 is pretty bad.  It's just got that typical like, who cares type of layout.  Characters you won't like, lack of a central character, side plots that might just make you depressed, and a whole lot of lack of death.  Monster kills some people, sure, but not nearly enough.  Just like most of these movies they rely on the Jaws idea of not showing the Monster, and in this, well it goes averagely.  Not a lot of suspense or chilling parts to it.  Mostly you know when a death was coming.

It is interesting that if this had this been released closer to when it actually started production in 1971, it could have come out before Jaws and seemed original.  But since it came out after Jaws, it's looked at as a rip off.  Hm.  Well, whatever.  I'm not going to dwell on it.  This movie is perfect for drinking to, ignoring, sleeping through, or just walking away from.  It's not scary but has some schlock and ridiculousness appeal.  I'll give it 2 stars.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Beast With a Million Eyes - 1955

Is this my first Roger Corman movie?!  How in the world did I go this long without one??  I'm going to have to go back and make sure he didn't do any of those other ones, and that it somehow slipped by me.  But no, I'm pretty sure this is my first one.  On this website.  I've obviously seen others, if I hadn't you would easily deserve to lynch me with my own intestines.  In fact, one of my all time favorite movies is Attack of the Crab Monsters.

Now, technically Corman is uncredited on this film and didn't direct the entire thing.  The story goes that after one day, union problems cause Corman to take over production and replace the director and cinematographer.  He called in some cinematographer guy, and he himself took over directing.  And it feels very Corman-y.  Corman has a style he is known for.  It's hard to define, as it's a collection of small things really.  But this movie has 'em all.

1) "strong" female lead - this lady is a major character who is strong outwardly, but is actually just hiding behind her outward strength and is in truth just as girly as all women were depicted in the 50's
2) lotsa dialogue - sure, it is usually plot dialogue, and one could argue that it's needed, but man is there lotsa dialogue and talking.   Shut the fuck up already!  Move on!
3) Tomboys - going back to that female thing, there is usually a tomboy in a Corman movie.  This girl will wear jeans, plaid colors, and sometimes be called by a nickname like "Princess" because hahahaha, it's FUNNY!  They're calling HER princess!!
4) As little monster scenes as seemingly possible - Yes, please do save the monster for the last 2 minutes and have it only appear like twice in total.  NO!  We want to see the fucking monster!
5) Ma and Pa - there's a tradition of old-timeyness in Corman movies.  So usually Ma and Pa are there, and usually they are still in love as they were when they got married.  Pa sometimes has to hold her shoulders and shake her when she's afraid; but it's the fifties, that's what women were for.
6) The halfwit - my least favorite and surprisingly common character to show up in any movie.  This guy is usually unexplained, or just explained as being "slow" but wtf!  WHY are all these halfwit people wandering around?!  At least in this the dude's explained.  But when we get the explanation (the father dude knew all along that he had some of his brain removed after being in the war) it's ridiculous because Pa never told his family that.  So he makes them live with some halfwit weirdo who oggles both women that are around, and for years the girls just think Pa is a nice guy, but no, he's actually helping a disabled guy.  Ok, great.  But you're NEVER going to tell your family that?!  WTF?!

The Beast with a Million Eyes starts like any other movie.  Ma and Pa live on a farm with daughter Sandra and invalid Him (yes, his name is Him).  One day a weird droning sound is heard, but it's not an airplane.  Then, the farm animals start acting weird, Ma kills Sandra's dog with an axe, and Him starts acting weird too.  Could it be related to the weird droning sound, and the cutaways showing a spaceship that landed?

That's all I care to put of the synopsis right now.  In short, nothing really too special.  It's pretty average in everything, it has some interesting segments with the animal attacks, which are the highlight of the film.  You see, the Beast of the title can take over things without much brain power.  So animals and the invalid Him are easy targets for the influence of the Beast.

Eventually, all the humans go out to the spaceship to confront the Beast, which comes spilling out of the UFO with a very noticeable eye count of 2 rather than 1,000,000 and when they try to kill it, they're unsure if it is actually dead.  Which I have to say, that was pretty rare to have a movie of this era with vagueness.  Even though they try to cover it with bizarre dialogue about love, the fact remains the Beast could still be on Earth at the end.

It's decent enough, for what it is.  It's forgettable, it's very bland, and it's low-energy.  It moves at an okay pace, the animal attacks keep it fun, and the acting is alright.  It's very "passable".  The title is perhaps the best thing about it.  That and this poster:
If the movie had been anything like the poster, it would've been 1,000,000 times better.

I'll give it one star?  Maybe 2.  Hm.  1.5?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Swordsman II - 1992

Also known as The Legend of the Swordsman

Ah, VHS.  With the end of movie rental stores everywhere, I must regretfully say that my childhood video store Bae's Rincon Video in Santa Rosa, CA is finally coming to a close.  They lasted longer than anticipated, I mean I literally know one place right now that still rents movies that isn't Netflix.  Bae's was an awesome place when I first moved to Santa Rosa when I was about 13-14 years old, and I continued going until now, when they will close in April 2015.  It's been a great 16 years I've been going (wow, that seems insanely long).

Anyways, Bae's apparently had a small cache of VHS leftover which they are now selling in addition to the DVDs in their "might as well sell it cause what the fuck are we going to do with it" sale.  I picked up the most random VHS I could find, got 4 of them, and one of them was Swordsman II with Jet Li.  A 90's martial arts film before Jet Li was famous and right after the release of the first Once Upon a Time in China film (which by the way, is an amazing movie).  This is my first foray into the VHS films I bought.

This is the sequel to 1990's Swordsman, which did not have Jet Li in it, or any of the actors in this movie, and there's another sequel to this movie, Swordsman III:  The East is Red - which also shares none of the actors.  Which makes it slightly confusing, but then the plots aren't linked in any way so you can look at these movies as stand-alone's.  I also have not seen either other Swordsman movie, just fyi.

The movie is slightly confusing, this is my preface for the plot synopsis and all my comments regarding it.  It must be said that for the DVD release of this they most likely redid the subtitles, because they only loosely let you know what's going on; complete with bad grammar and spelling mistakes, and all that together adds to the confusing plot.  Here are some gems from the subtitles, for your enjoyment:
"Life is like morning dew, it's hard for me to find a true friend."
"Don't let his discover that you're take."
"It's a pity that Ling's his Ying and Carol."  (there is no one named Carol in the movie, obviously)
"The ship'd leave, hands off."

I love that first one because it's so insane.  Life is like a morning dew, it's hard for me to find a true friend.  Um, yeah, sure, bro, whatever you say?  In context, some of these do make sense, but I just love subtitles like this.  Ling's his Ying and Carol??  Who the fuck is Carol?!  Where did they translate that from, is there even a Chinese word for the American name Carol?  Note, Carol is capitalized in the subtitle, it's not like a song; a Christmas carol for example.

The plot is something like this:  Jet Li just wants to drink wine and relax, but then some hottie he's attracted to is attacked by her evil uncle Fong who has mad martial arts skills, so Jet Li is going to help her.  Turns out Fong has made an insane sacrifice to master martial arts and his evil group wants to basically just ruin everything.  That's kind of the short version, the long version would just be confusing.  But what happened is that Fong cut off his penis to attain martial arts prowess, and so he's transforming into a woman.  That's a plot point.  So, now you know.

The martial arts scenes are pretty cool.  This is the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style of martial arts, where people can do insane stuff like balance on leaves, and jump 160 feet into the air, and run on flying boomerangs and such.  Not my favorite type of martial arts, I prefer the more realistic kind like in Once Upon a Time in China, or the Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee movies.  But this movie does it with a comedic approach, which is nice, and it's not as prevalent as CT,HD so that's good.

I liked this movie despite the confusing parts of it.  It wasn't like, my favorite movie ever, but it's fun and it won't waste your time.  It's got good acting, cool cinematography, and the subtitles were hilarious.  Also, very memorable characters and interesting sensual scenes involving the guy turning into a woman.  Slightly homoerotic, but still hoooot.
I'll give it like, 2.5 stars.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Milpitas Monster - 1976

I'm extending my viewing sources a little bit and taking in some movies from Amazon Instant Video.  I get it through my Prime membership free anyways, and they have a bunch of stuff Netflix doesn't have, and I can watch it at work instead of working, so why not?  Netflix used to work at work, but now it won't even load pictures let alone movies.
I also apologize for not updating recently, I was on vacation for 8 days and meant to watch bad movies while I was gone, but simply never did.  Oh well, I doubt anyone missed me anyway.

The Milpitas Monster is what is literally known as an amateur film.  The fact is that this movie was created by high school students, teachers, and residents of Milpitas, and none of them are "actors" or "directors" or anything related to film in the traditional sense.  For that being said, some other very well known films are also amateur, Manos the Hands of Fate is very well known for example.  There are a handful of other films that went down as being well known amateur films, and here are my rules for that classification:
1) The director must have no other films, shorts, direct to video, or any other things that they created before.
2) Lead actors must be unprofessional - in other words not have any filmography.  The only exception to this is when someone throws enough money at a project to hire someone kind of well known.
3) Usually this will all go hand in hand with super low budget, extremely bad acting, and high cheese factor - but exceptions do exist.

The Milpitas Monster hits all three of these rules right on, and is horrendously bad.  The director has done zero besides this movie, the actors have all done zero, and no one associated with this movie ever made one penny off of it most likely.  But they weren't trying to either, and this is one of those rare movies where most likely it wasn't made to be shown to the public in general, and thus we must accept that it wasn't made to entertain US, the moviegoing critics and public.  We must give it some points for that.

My best guess and my research online tells me that this started when Milpitas (a town located in the South Bay Area, California, about 6 miles away from San Jose, CA) started to be overwhelmed by trash problems in the 70's, big campaigns were launched to get people to start rethinking their trash problems, and a big dump was made somewhere, etc.

Somewhere in all that, the high school made posters for a "monster" that would emerge from the dump, should you throw away things that were not trash, or not separate your recycling, or something like that.  This became so popular that the city gave the high school money, and someone thought to make a movie about this monster; capitalizing on the fame of the thing in this (at the time) small town craze that had caught on.  So, they got the official blessing from the city council or whatever, they got some more money, and the cooperation of police, firemen, and locals, and they started to make a movie!

The movie itself is amateur, like I said.  Lighting, acting, effects, and sounds are all bad.  The whole film feels like a lot of fun, however.  They interjected some bad comedy trying to make it fun, and it's ridiculous to watch, but somehow you know that making the film, watching it in the town square or whatever the fuck they did, that whole thing must've been awesome.  It's one of those movies that doesn't matter that it's bad, it wasn't supposed to be serious.

The monster also does look cool, which I will give points for.  It's very obvious they just had a guy in a suit standing closer to the camera to appear bigger than things far away, it's painful when they use poor miniatures and stop motion animation.  It's all bad bad bad, but made to be bad.  So is it so bad it's good?  Wellllll....Not really.  It hasn't aged very well and it's not very easy to watch, unfortunately.  For me at least.  My mind tends to wander and this movie was extremely hard to put on and not get distracted by something else.

All in all, it was very interesting to see the town of Milpitas represented as a flat, barely existing place that was laid back and slow paced.  Nowadays, Milpitas is indistinguishable from the rest of those towns in the South Bay, and being a resident of Oakland, CA, I can tell you that it looks nothing like how it looks in the film.  That has to be the most interesting part of the movie.  So, in other words, it's not especially good.

It's going to be a hard one to rate, and a lot of people online love it.  I couldn't say exactly why, for some people it is so bad it's good, and for some it's just wacky.  For me, the wackiness was TOO wacky that it tried too hard, and the badness factor was so intentional and overdone it just made me roll my eyes.  So I have to give it a low rating.  One star.