Thursday, June 25, 2015

Infra-man - 1975

Also known as The Super Inframan and Chinese Hercules

Well, here we go, this review is going to be hard to write.  I am going to admit right off that I don't necessarily like movies like this, nor do I know a lot about them.  The infamous Shaw brothers produced this movie, and like many of their other productions it's pretty high budget and obviously took a lot of work.  I was also drunk during parts of this, watching it over the span of a couple days because I literally cannot watch a movie like this in one sitting.

Here is how I work:  I like me some flash and fast pacing, but I also like some straight forwardness, some plot, and a well paced movie versus just nonstop action.  I'll probably get torn a new one from all my nonexistent readers for giving Infra-man low marks.  But who the fuck cares.

This movie is a pure, 100% fighting nonsense whatever thing.  I feel completely sure about saying that even though my grasp of the "plot" wasn't that strong.  Essentially some evil queen comes to Earth with her army of rubber suit monsters, the humans create Infra-man out of some normal dude, Infra-man is the warrior for the Earth, and yup that's it.  The next like hour and 15 minutes is fighting, fighting fighting, flips, explosions, explosions, monsters, weird's like a fucking whirlwind hits you.

The movie is probably the best one ever if you love things like Power Rangers, Ultraman, and the like.  It has endless childish high paced action violence, but if you're looking for anything substantial....well you might want to looks somewhere else.  Not that this movie gets lumped into the countless bad movies out there.  It's just that it's about as deep as a puddle in the middle of the hottest day in the Sahara desert....there's really nothing to it.  Now, everyone does their jobs, of course, and the movie looks great.  It's high production value, the costumes and sets are awesome, and actors are classically so over the top and ridiculous that it's in a whole new league of acting.

My best advice is, put it on if you're in the mood for action, but childish action, and if you wanna see something that's Godzilla-like in it's over the top-ness and insanity, but less plot and explanation and more of shit blowing the fuck up.  For what it is it's by far the best in it's league, and nothing comes even close to it's weirdness.  I am not going to give it a rating, cause by my standards it's maybe just a 3 or something, but these are not my types of films.  So, enjoy it for what it is.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Night Fright - 1967

I apologize for taking extraordinarily long to write this review and finish this movie.  I realize I talked about this all the way back in Star Knight, as this was the next movie in the boxset I was watching.  Side talk here, why is is boxset not a word?  I get the red squiggly guy under it and it wants it to be box set.  But I think we should accept boxset as a word.  Like a portmanteau, you know, except you're not shortening anything....

Anyways, what I did was start Night Fright on the DVD, get distracted, not finish it, then forget I had started it altogether, watch other things for the next few days/weeks, and then finally re-read my blog (hey, someone has to read it right?  I might as well be the only one) and realize I never finished Night Fright.  Of course, I did rewatch most of the footage I'd already seen, apparently I was 40 minutes in when I'd stopped, but I didn't remember anything after 23 minutes in.

This movie is the king of forgettable, that's for sure.  This movie, I had to double check here, was not a Corman produced movie, but damn does it feel like it.  It feels like some incredibly bland copycat movie.  You know how you go into the store, and you find like Coca Cola, and then there's the store's version?  It's like that.  This movie is essentially the Shasta Cola of movies.  It may be incredibly cheap, but also has no taste, less caffeine, and basically is nowhere near as well known.  Now notice I stayed away from the word "good" cause I dunno if Coke qualifies as good, but since millions of people drink it, throw in good too.

I feel like some of the screen shots I've put in don't necessarily captivate the movie that well.  Cause, well they're normally of something happening, whether it's the monster, or nudity, or whatever.  I took a specific screen shot in this movie to try and captivate the whole movie in one image.  Here it is:
Yes, this shot is Night Fright.  Under lit, poorly shot, out of focus...yes, this shot is Night Fright.  A picture here truly is worth 1000 words.

John Agar stars as a cop in some podunk town where some restless teens are roaming around gettin' in all sorts o' tangles, and a spaceship lands.  There is some giant weird monster guy that appears out the ship and starts slaughtering peeps.  The idiot teenagers have pointless interactions as hero Rex and his bossy girlfriend try to save everyone, and John Agar really hams it up as the big man in charge.

The movie is really this badly lit for most of it, the recording equipment was apparently bought from the local dollar store, and it shows.  The monster actually looks pretty cool too - it's supposed to be some giant mutated alligator thing. The only problem, it's never shown in a way where we can actually see what it looks like, this is another case where the bad editing, bad lighting, and terrible camera work make it worse than it needed to be.

All in all, it's definitive 60's trash, grade Z sci fi horror with zero difference factor, which is why it get's a slamminnnnn 2 stars.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Trip to the Moon - 1902

This review will refer to the hand-colored, 2011 restored version featuring music from the French band "Air".

What first caught my eye in A Trip to the Moon was that it didn't have any dialogue title cards.  There are a few segments wherein people talk, they argue, there is evident talking, and normally one or two dialogue cards would come up, but his movie had none.  Whether that is due to the lack of them in the original or that is exclusive to this version I don't know.

Secondly, the coloring is just so much fun to watch.  The movie rate is 22 frames per second, quite a bit slower than the modern films, and thus it looks a little more jumpy.  And interspersed in those frames you can see the coloring jumping around, generally going into the wrong areas, etc.  It's really quite interesting to see and to pause the movie and imagine those people individually coloring the frames.

The other thing I noticed and said to my wife while we watched is that it's amazing how you can still tell to this day just how much work they put into this film.  Everything that was drawn by hand, all the backgrounds, all the sets and the props, they are absolutely amazing.  Also, of course the camera never moves.  In those days the camera was huge, expensive, and you only had one of them.  So in that way this feels a lot more like a play.

The film story line is of some men that make a rocket that will go to the moon, they shoot it to the moon where it famously lands in the eye of the moon.  On the moon they encounter a race of people, who don't want them there.  That's basically it, I mean it's only 18 minutes long so there's not that much else to write about plot wise.

The story feels like a mix between a fantasy and a comedy, although there aren't big laughs they were going for, some of the stuff is done in a silly, fun-having way.  It feels very accessible, there is something there for everybody, in a good way.

The sequence on the moon feels strange, very surreal, and it is slightly confusing.  Sometimes the sequences that take place don't seem to link very well, and although it's never a big WTF moment or anything, some things kind of make you guess at what happened.

All in all this is necessary viewing for probably everyone to understand film's beginnings.  Although I appreciated the color, I think watching it in black and white would be fine.  I also didn't really enjoy the new soundtrack by Air, I would've liked to have seen it without a soundtrack, or with whatever sound it had originally had.

Scared to Death - 1947

In what is to be my oldest movie review before the next movie review I do, I look at Scared to Death from 1947. This movie was Bela Lugosi's only starring role in a color film, he was in some other color things but not in starring roles apparently.  I am reminded of that last Lugosi film I saw, The Black Sleep, which turned out to be quite awful.

This movie reminds me of that one in some ways, in fact, this movie reminds me of just about every similar horror movie.  It's got its weirdo characters: the midget, always a staple in some of these horror movies (especially if they act like a savage beast, have no lines, and have a name like Indigo that makes no practical sense but sounds vaguely foreign).  It's got the hypnotist, again a common character (should always hypnotize just by voice and eyes, and have either a mystical name, or a "Professor" or "Doctor" preface such as in this film, Professor Leonide).  And at last it has the masked woman - slightly different maybe but it's really just a twist on the mystery monster/ghost thing, so it shouldn't get that many points.

By the way, what happened to the hypnotist?  I could just start naming movies at the drop of a hat from the 50's-70's that had hypnotists.  They totally disappeared.  I wonder what the last movie with a evil weird hypnotist was....

The plot centers around this woman who tells the tale of how she died (how shocking).  Her bizarre memories involve this hypnotist (Lugosi) with his midget sidekick.  There is the masked figure, and there is policeman Bill Raymond who is trying to figure out what's going on.  Bill Raymond is one of those typical B movie characters too, he's the "big dumb cop who has his heart in the right place" which is closely related to "the lovable idiot".  He has typically bad dialogue including "There were screams inside! You gotta admit that it's in the longitude of my profession to make with an investigatory reaction there to- What am I saying?"  See it's funny because he used all this professional talk but didn't actually know what it meant!!  IT'S FUNNY!

There is an equally bad line I wanted to put when he talks about his metabolism.  His love interest makes him some sort of food, maybe it was coffee and offers it to him.  He has some line about how it would be bad for his metabolism, then walks away saying "Interesting word, metabolism.  It'd be a lot more interesting if I knew what it meant."  Ugh, fucking stab my ear holes with pitchforks why don't you?  It's not funny, it's not clever, and it makes no fucking sense.  How did he use the word perfectly in a sentence, but not know what it meant?  He is so typically written too, just a thorough good guy, always doing the right thing and constantly after the girl, and we know that though she's smarter than him and a free spirit she'll settle with him and his down home, homespun childish charm.  Just fucking shoot me instead.

George Zucco is also in this movie, as the husband to the dead girl, and he really doesn't do anything memorable.  Sure, I may have not been paying the strictest attention but he is just super forgettable in this flick.  The whole thing kind of moves along at a quick pace at least, the movie is just over an hour so how long can it possibly feel?  Fortunately there are no more bad characters in this, Lugosi has a heavy presence in the movie, and the whole hypnotist thing is downplayed to where it doesn't get annoying.  Also the actress, Molly Lamont, was quite good.  She stopped acting 50 years before she died, I wonder why?  She was actually pretty decent.

So the movie has some entertainment value, and I think it's mostly due to the fact it was made in '47 that makes it kind of bad.  I mean, all things considered it didn't feel almost 70 years old.  Those things considered, I'll bump it to two stars.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Terror - 1963

I have given the Corman formula in the past, for She Gods of Shark Reef and for The Beast with a Million Eyes.  It's all bland and whatever, he makes bad movies, however there is a "but" in there somewhere.  But, sometimes he had a higher budget, or accidentally made something good, or had someone else's script or whatever.  This is one of those cases.  Not to say this movie is good, cause it's not, but it is higher budget, doesn't follow the formula Corman sets, and is different.

This film is well known as one of Boris Karloff's few color films, and as an early starring role for Jack Nicholson.  Shot in a reported 4 days on a shoestring budget by the master of throwing cheap movies together, it was filmed in Big Sur, California in parts, and the scenery is beautiful. Additionally, some back up footage in the movie was directed by a young Francis Ford Coppola. Those things add up to this movie being slightly well known in terms of early 60's horror films.

Those ingredients, you'll notice don't spell out anything good though.  Sure, Jack Nicholson and Coppola and Karloff = good, but shot in 4 days = way too rushed, no cohesion, and a total mess.  The plot is loose, basically some ghost lady leads Jack Nicholson's character to a secluded castle where he encounters Boris Karloff as the old baron with a secret, a mysterious painting, and whatever.

It's all trying to capitalize on atmosphere, there are no truly scary or even thrilling moments.  It tries desperately to frighten with this bizarre ghost story, but just comes off as trying too hard in most parts.  Nicholson gives no sign that he would go on to become an actor worth noting and watching.  Here he sounds overly nasally, irritating, and his dialogue is bland.  Karloff comes off as the been-there-done-that, I only came cause you're paying me kind of acting.

The sets and the scenery are kinda cool.  As I said, filmed in Big Sur, CA (Google image search it) and using sets from some previously shot films, it looks the part.  The real bad part of it though is the pacing.  It's incredibly slow, it's all bad dialogue, and it just hurts.  Plus, we know how it will go so early on that most of the film just feels tedious.  I always wonder how much of me is jaded by modern films, and how much of me is just hating cause it is a bad movie.  Was this movie ever considered cutting edge?  I don't know, but maybe.  It could scare you, I guess.

Psychological horror for me is the worst kind, I like movies like Alien when it comes to horror.  I just don't care about psychological horror, and most other subgenres like that.  Ghost stories to me are some of the worst.  It's just such a bland, no frills type of horror.  Ghost movies like this almost always mean no effects will be had, no one is gonna die except the evil dude (Karloff), and it's a mystery that's painfully obvious to us as the audience the whole way through.  It just makes me want to smack someone.

I feel like I could say more about this movie, but fuck it.  Who cares.  A star for the actors and directors involved and for Big Sur.

Leprechaun: Origins - 2014

I am just going to say right up front here that the only reason I am including this review here is because I reviewed the first six Leprechaun films and I felt like as a completion-ist, this film should rightfully be included.  Of course this is one of those sequels or reboots where it's so far removed from the original movie(s) that if you gave it a different name no one would know it was supposed to fit into a series.  Yes, welcome to the "American re-make of Godzilla from 1998" hall of fame, Leprechaun: Origins.

Leprechaun: Origins follows that tried and not-so-true method of horror films.  I call this the "Helpful Stranger" method and it's seen often and always works the same way:
1) group of young friends is somewhere they don't know, and are either lost, broken down, or just wandering aimlessly
2) local person who seems like they just want to help tells them of a place they can stay / can tow their car / somehow helps them
3) they blindly take the offer, usually at the disapproval of the one person in the group who is not a stoner or idiot or total jerk
4) turns out they are now in the danger zone, and the helpful stranger was not actually being helpful at all!
5) some of them die (the ones who had sex, do the most drugs, or insulted the local townsfolk die first)
6) it comes down to the doubtful member of the group and "the innocent" ones left, and sometimes they will get an assist by one of the evil peoples who led them here, or other times they'll just try and make their escape
7) they either escape or die

Yep, that's several movies right there I can think of that follow that exact formula.  For example, the film Chernobyl Diaries followed that plotline as well, and now Leprechaun (Lep from now on) follows suit....cause it's too hard to be original, people.  Just too hard.

This movie tried to be different from the other Lep films by having a darker, more horror centered plot.  I guess it does, as this is horror whereas the others were a horror comedy, and in some of those cornier sequels even more of an adventure sci fi type feel.  This one dials back the interest factor and settles for the lowest common denominator.  It stars WWE star Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl, the midget dude who started wrestling back when I used to watch WWE.  I can say with 100% surety that anyone could have played the role here though, cause the Lep in this film seriously looks like one of the goblins from The Lord of the Rings films.

There is virtually no blood in the film, there is one leg wound that looks pretty bad and fake, and then there is a kill where the Lep rips out a dude's backbone.  It's all filmed in the most boring way possible, what actually could have looked cool with the backbone was turned into a yawn-fest by lack of good camera angles, editing, and atmosphere.

Leprechaun wasn't like, the best horror comedy movie ever or anything.  It got lucky by casting a young Jennifer Aniston, the Leprechaun being played by Warwick Davis, and witty, bizarre dialogue was also great.  It was an interesting kind of surreal horror film, like if you took one of those weird dreams you had and turned it into a feature length movie.  It is a classic though, and extremely memorable.

This film is nothing.  It's absolute fluff.  It's completely forgettable, not noteworthy in any single way, does not deliver horror, comedy, intelligence, blood, shocks, thrills....etc.  It was a waste of people's time, money, and whatever talent the cast might've had.
Zero stars.

And by the way, it is not the "Origin".  This isn't like the beginning of anything?!  Nothing points to the other 6 films following this one.  I mean sure, I guess you could make a sequel to this, it sort of left it open, but no one ever will.  Fuck this movie.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Island of Dr. Moreau - 1977

There are just some movies where for whatever reason, they're not as good as they should be.  Well, hell there's a ton of movies like that.  But there are the ones that mystify you, that make you wonder at WHY they didn't deliver.  They could have the cast, the plot, the production budget, the effect - it could all be there and yet you're still walking away from it thinking it wasn't that good.

I'm going to spend a lot of this review seemingly bashing The Island of Dr. Moreau, not for any one specific reason, and I don't mean to say it's a bad film.  It's just not good.  It had a lot going for it and maybe that's one of the reasons.  It had the stars, Michael York from Logan's Run played the main character, Burt Lancaster played Dr. Moreau, and it also had Gypsy's one true love Richard Basehart as the lead animal/hybrid thing.  I guess that should lead me to the plot...

We open on two guys in a boat, lost at sea.  They awaken and spot an island, head to it, and one of them promptly gets dragged away by something.  That just leaves Michael York to discover that there are inhabitants on the island, Dr. Moreau and a couple other humans are there, and they are experimenting with turning animals into humans and humans into animals.  Michael York is curious about this until he decides to flee the island, gets caught, and injected with the serum to turn him into an animal.  Meanwhile, the animal/human hybrid things led by Richard Basehart have a tense relationship with their creator Dr. Moreau, he is just one slip up away from them getting out of his control.

Like I was saying this movie kind of had it all.  The cast is good and does their jobs well.  The location they shot on was the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, and it looks beautiful.  The makeup was decent, not as good as some movies of course.  In fact in places it's pretty bad, but it still works.  Sometimes they just obviously threw a mask on someone, what really doesn't work is when it's just the face of the hybrid thing that's part animal and the rest is all human....  But, that's not what made the movie bad alone.  It's very hard to describe what exactly makes it not good.

I was curious, and checking online it doesn't exactly get the best reviews from other people either.  Well, so maybe it's just a middle of the road, thriller adventure movie with a sciency twist.  I would say the pacing is not the best, it's kind of slow, there's not a lot that really happens in the movie either.  Also, it's fairly predictable.  Even if you'd never heard of it before, you could probably guess how it's going to go from early on.  I wonder if Planet of the Apes was written before or after this original book by H.G. Wells.  That's the real question.

For not being outwardly bad, and for the actors I give it a middle of the road 2.5 stars.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nightbeast - 1982

This is my third alien invasion film by one of my new favorite dudes ever, Don Dohler.  This is the same guy behind The Galaxy Invader and The Alien Factor.  From what I have read, and now that I've seen both movies, Nightbeast is supposed to be a direct sequel or even a remake of The Alien Factor. It's virtually the same plot, brings back some of the actors playing the same characters, and the two are pretty interchangeable. Why you would remake your own movie only 4 years later is anyone's guess.

The one thing this movie had that The Alien Factor did not is heavy, dripping, oozing, delicious cheese.  Something seems to have happened between Alien and this one, cause although Alien was "so bad it's good" this one is walking a thin thin line between a bad movie and sheer hilarity.  This movie literally made me laugh with how awful some scenes were done, the high corniness factor, the completely awful acting, everything.  The scenes are so over the top it's impossible at times to take this movie seriously.

Redoing the plot from Alien Factor, a spaceship lands on Earth in rural Maryland, and out pops the alien with his destructo-beam gun, to start blasting the local rednecks.  The alien in this is awesome.  I was going to put awful and of course, both apply and are true.  It is also quite awful.  It's some weird brown monster dude, with huge buck teeth, and I'm sure the original costume/prop was funny to see on set.  I mean, it's funny for us to watch it in the movie, so, you know.
When Nightbeast isn't blasting people with his ridiculous beam that turns them into giant flashes of color and then makes them disappear, he's killing people in the most ridiculous ways.  He at one point rips some guy's arm off as a girl screams continuously in the back ground.  That was one of those scenes where I was laughing- the scene goes on for awkwardly long, and girl stops screaming, catches her breath, and then just keeps going.  It was like, an obvious error on the set that they just said "fuck it" to and kept going.

The music is also seriously wonky.  As overdone as the rest of the movie, it's loopy, weird, atmospheric, and perfect.  It was apparently done by a 16 year old JJ Abrams who somehow got the director to let him do it, I'd love to know the whole story behind that.  JJ should continue doing weird sci fi soundtracks, he had a knack for it.

The script is trash, the actors are the trash can you throw them into.  They're just so bad.  There's a sex scene wherein it just comes off as so forced, so awkward, I actually felt bad for the people involved, and they both look like they're trying their hardest not to laugh.  The recording equipment was terrible, awful quality so sometimes you kind of have to guess at what they're saying and just go along with whatever.

But all these "awful" things aside, this movie was fucking amazing.  It was just so much fun, the hour and twenty minutes flew by like nothing, and I was thoroughly entertained the whole time.  It would be a great bad movie night flick, a great drinking and smoking movie, a fantastic one to show someone who wanted to see 80's cheese.  I wanted so badly not to be as entertained as I was, because the movie is almost to the point where it's self aware in the bad way, but it's not.  Instead it's just perfect.

Again, I wanted to not rate it highly.  I waffled a lot between like 3-5 stars.  I thought as a movie The Galaxy Invader was technically better, more linear, had skill behind it, etc.  I though The Alien Factor was clever, interesting, had better effects, etc.  This one is like those two if they were filmed on acid, and while you're drunk.  It's technically horrible, it has no redeeming qualities, and it's pure insanity, which is why it gets....

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Hills Have Eyes, Part II - 1985

Since I enjoyed the first Hills Have Eyes, and since I enjoyed Wes Craven's New Nightmare, I turned this flick on the other day and laid back....and was thoroughly not-entertained.  I had to know exactly what was going on here, and I read the stuff on Wikipedia.  Apparently, Wes Craven did some filming of this movie, although it was not complete, and he got pressured into releasing it as it was, only making it feature length by adding some footage from the first movie in to fill it out.

This movie feels like it too.  Now granted, it was already bad before you got the "lucky inclusion" of footage we'd already seen.  The movie stars people that were pretty much not in anything else, in fact the main actress in this would have her career disappear after being in this movie, and you can definitely tell why.

On it's story line side, it's really not all that different from the first movie.  Some people, including a guy who was in the first movie, take a trip in the desert.  Because they're running late, they decide to take a shortcut, and of course their bus breaks down.  So then they're stuck out in the middle of the desert, and the malformed cannibals show up to start hunting them.

The feel of this movie is all wrong though.  It focuses a lot more on the villains, but instead of making them dark, it makes them goofy and stupid.  Michael Berryman returns as the main ringleader dude who gets the most screen time.  He's a good actor but his character is just written way too goofy and comes off like something intended for kids, if he wasn't trying to kill you.  The movie adopts a much more "adventure" movie feeling in places versus horror, which feels very off.  And then there's the "star".

Tamara Stafford went from two TV roles, to a very small role in 1984's Against All Odds, and then got the lead role in this movie as a blind girl.  And she is just so bad.  Bad puns and retarded jokes about seeing litter the script, since you know, SHE'S BLIND, and that gets old, but the actress is awful.  She has no charisma, comes off like a fluff headed teenager, and we watch basically her every step throughout the movie.  It gets so old, you pray to see her die.  When the main sympathetic character just makes you want to kill them yourself so they shut the fuck up, it's probably not a great script/character.

I don't know how much of this movie being bad is Craven's "fault" and how much is the studio's.  Honestly, the re-used footage isn't a huge deal breaker for me, the blind girl, the childish elements, etc are all much worse.  The lack of blood is pretty noticeable, and the kills are also lame.  Add in that there is basically no suspense, and most of the movie is very predictable.  This is your typical "the first was way better" type of sequel.
I want to give it one star, for creativity, I guess.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Lost Boys - 1987

Like I've said many times, I like writing this thing.  It's just such a good excuse to watch movies.  I hadn't seen The Lost Boys since I was in like, freshmen year of high school I think, so it's been like 14 years?  Damn, that's incredible.  I noticed it had arrived to Netflix watch instantly, so I decided to watch it again.  I watched it with my wife last night, and here is da review.

Now, movies like this they definitely don't make anymore.  A movie that goes for and gets an R rating, but has childish elements and contains themes about growing up, maturing, and all that shit.  After all, this movie marked the start of the Corey Haim/Corey Feldman union, they look to be young teenagers, and I was shocked to find out just now that Feldman was 15 in it?!  Wow, he looks a lot younger or maybe I'm just never around teenagers anymore.  I thought he was like, 11 or so in this.  Okay, maybe like 13.  But it's creepy thinking that the young looking kid there could be allowed to drive!  WTF!

Corey Haim plays an average kid, he and his big brother Michael live in Santa Carla CA, which is actually Santa Cruz CA, and one day Michael is hanging out making eyes at the young woman that is involved with some local troublemakers led by Keifer Sutherland.  Keifer is awesome in the movie, he looks freakin insane with bleached blond hair and leather jacket, and is a badass character.  He and his little gang challenge Michael to a motorcycle race, which of course Michael would've won if the race hadn't come dangerously close to a cliff edge.

Michael gets invited back to hang out with the motorcycle gang, and he eventually drinks from a bottle that they tell him is wine.  Well, the next day he is growing intolerant of light, and craving something a little more alive than a frozen pound of flank steak.  Could it be that somehow he has become a vampire?  In the meantime, Michael's younger brother Sam has become friends with local brothers Edgar and Alan Frog, who proclaim themselves as vampire hunters, and have all the knowledge about how to deal with their kind.

I have a love for movies that don't dwell on the how, the why, the what, the where.  It's enough to know that they're vampires, we don't need to explore mythology and how the Frog brothers know about vampires, and whether that means werewolves exist....we just need to see the fucking action, and the 80's fun.  The movie is seriously 80's.  The silliness of the clothes, the hair, it's all there in spades.  Corey Haim has some seriously awful t-shirts, and there is a scene at a concert where the main singer is in the most ridiculous outfit ever, playing a saxophone during his 80's pop/rock song.

The effects are also good.  We don't see them a whole lot, which builds up the anticipation, and then when we do see them, they're cool looking, dark, and sinister.  There is the vampire faces that all the guys have, and there are some awesome blood/goop/whatever gunk that looks purely gross.  I guess it's just rated R for the blood and violence.  There is no real nudity, only medium bad language.  I wonder if now they would get PG-13.  But I liked the fact it was R.  Not a "hard" R, but R, kinda like saying, "fuck it, we could be PG-13 if we toned back the blood, but we're not going to!"

I liked this, and my thought as I watched it was that I kinda wished more movies were like this.  A fun adventure movie made for adults.  You don't see rated R adventure horror comedies very much.  In fact, the adventure movie has almost disappeared, now there's just action.  The plot, the character, has taken a backseat to the CGI, the "coolness" of the characters, etc.  I like movies like this because people were human, they weren't these giant flawless muscle-heads.  In a movie like The Avengers and the sequel, they rely far too much on canned one liners, hollow development, and the perceived "coolness" of it's characters.

This is a definitive 80's movie, one that I'm frankly surprised hasn't gotten a gritty reboot or a whole franchise based on it.  It does have it's direct to DVD sequels, but no one really cared or watched them.  The characters are likable, realistic, and defined.

Oh, this is my hundredth blog, I should say something.  Uh, yay me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Troll - 1986

Troll 2 has gone from a somewhat unknown about bad movie to one of the most popular bad movies ever made in the last 5-10 years.  I remember in 2009 when I first heard someone else talking about Troll 2 and I realized I wasn't the only one who had seen it.  It even has the documentary made about it, Best Worst Movie.  Is it the best worst movie?  Well, I dunno, maybe, I've enjoyed other things more but Troll 2 really does have a high appeal for riffing, drinking, smoking, watching sober, and just plain stupid horrible movie magic.

Troll, the prequel and the original, is nowhere near as fun.  And it's not supposed to be, the magic of Troll 2 is what got lost in translation:  the movie featured no trolls, had weird plant monsters instead, and the acting and the effects were famously bad.  As I watched Troll though, I realized that many people who have caught on to the cult phenomena of Troll 2 probably haven't seen Troll, cause if they had they'd realize Troll 2 isn't all that far off.

Troll was a Charles Band (again) produced kids movie.  Let's get that out of the way.  This was made for ages 5-15 or so probably.  So it's unfair to expect sophistication or even linear ideas.  And Troll has it's young people in trouble plotline that's simple and easy to follow:  in the first couple minutes an evil troll takes the body of young girl Wendy.  Wendy's brother Harry Jr is the only one who notices her different behavior and thinks something is wrong.  Harry teams up with a witch who lives in his building, Eunice, and together they try and stop the troll from turning all of the apartment building inhabitants into troll ilk.

The parts that surprised me though, was that this movie is also heavy on the weird plant creatures.  Just like the sequel, there is a presence of weird goblin looking half human creatures:  they are what the troll turns the apartment residents into.  Additionally when they turn into these things they are created by plants and then there is a heavy presence of plants.  Basically it shares a lot in common with Troll 2, the only thing this movie has that Troll 2 doesn't is the titular Troll...which of course is necessary, but it brings back my Godzilla 1998 argument:  would the movie get riffed on half as bad if it'd just had a different title?

Anyhow, the Troll 2 argument aside, this movie is a decent enough kids movies.  It has those near scary parts that all good 80's and 90's kids movies had that I am disappointed are gone from modern films, it had cool practical effects, and it had a good "other" message about growing up and taking responsibility.  The actors, even the kids, were pretty well done, and the movie moves along quick enough.  Given I am not the intended target audience and I still enjoyed it, I'd have to say that qualifies it as a "classic kids film".

I'll give it 3 stars.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Death Machines - 1976

Once again we venture into the world of "The Poster is Better than the Movie" with this stupid flick, but then how could it not be if the poster looked like this:
Holy fucking shit!  Some evil Gothic tower comes alive, grows gargoyle style faces that have massive butt-chins, and sports some evil ass spike mouth that people would literally rather throw themselves out of all willy nilly than face.  How could this movie be anything except the best movie ever made in the history of mankind?

Well, extremely easily, that's how.  At first I thought, you know for a sci fi this movie has a lot of bland kung fu in it.  That thought early on led me to look up the movie on IMDb where I read the trivia and was given this poster by some hack who decided they should do exactly what they did to me:  lead people on with awesome art only to fail to deliver.

The plot is about three "machines" who look like humans, there's an Asian one, a black one, and a white one.  They kill people in the first couple minutes, demonstrating their power.  Then there's also nudity 7 minutes in so I get my hopes up, then I slowly kill myself over the next hour and 15 minutes as bad actors say dull things and nonsensical scenes randomly pass while I consider watching something else.  This movie may not have any deserved holy shit moments, but the holy shit experience it got was "Holy shit this movie is bad".

The action in this is badly choreographed, boring, and makes you want to bash your head against a wall.  The "death machines" are all pretty stupid, and it's unclear as to whether they are actually machines in the technological sense or they are just referred to as machines.  They don't do very much throughout the film, mainly just dull fighting.  They are led by tall-haired Asian lady Madame Lee, who is also a bad actress and is obviously dubbed.

This is the type of shit that came flooding out to support the kung fu crazy that Bruce Lee started, and why they decided to market it as a sci fi movie with the cover art is unknown.  If any movie was half as cool as the poster art, I'd buy that on DVD right now.  What's that you ask?  Were any of these actors in anything else?  Why, of course not!  Only 2 of the 5 top billed actors have been in more than 2 movies.  Nice.

So what, so it's a bad martial arts film.  Is it worth seeing?  I doubt it.  I was slightly intoxicated during parts, that didn't help.  Riffing fodder could be a reason to see it,...but there's so many other, better films to riff on.  It's too slow and uninteresting to drink or smoke to.  It's just bad.  Bad bad.  I'll give it no stars.  Fuck it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Chill Factor - 1993

Also known as "Demon Possessed" on IMDb.

Some movies are just made, not for any particular reason that is obvious to us, not to win awards or to be groundbreaking- they are just made.  Is that the case here with The Chill Factor, a semi-bland but also kind of well done 90's horror thriller filmed in Wisconsin?  Did the director, the stars, the writers, did they think this movie was going to be the next horror smash hit?  I honestly wonder that a lot when I watch movies like this.  Low budget, yet still somewhat original movies like this make you wonder about the hopes and dreams of another person, about what drives us to create, about how man can pursue their vision, etc.  Or maybe it just makes me wonder that.  Entirely possible.

The Chill Factor is one of those movies where in order to change things up a bit, in order to differentiate itself, it changed the setting and the set up of a normal horror film.  First of all, it's narrated by an elderly woman, who identifies herself as a survivor of the ordeal we are watching, and pops in on occasion to give us a necessary detail or two.  It's an interesting idea, first of all because as I remember it didn't say exactly, "Hi I'm Jane, that's me" or whatever so we don't know which girl it is or anything, and secondly because then we know there will be a survivor, and likely only one.

Adding to the narration is the setting.  Filmed in Wisconsin, this film takes place in the middle of nowhere in the snow.  In fact the cover (which was why I saw the film) is a snowmobile.
Now I'm not saying it's incredibly original to have a poster like this, but it is a sell point for an audience.  To say "yes, my horror movie will have snowmobiles" is kind of different.  Plus, for me, I love the 90's feel of the poster (kind of an 80's feel to it left over too).  The setting sun, the snowy wasteland, the dark purple colors....the font!  The font is fucking great.  It's mysterious, it's bizarre, it's attention grabbing.

What The Chill Factor is, is a film about a group of young friends that go out into the middle of nowhere to have a snowmobile race.  One of them crashes and gets hurt, and they find a cabin out somewhere to take their injured friend to.  It's too far to move their friend all the way back to town, so most of the group stays there at the cabin with the injured guy while one the group leader goes back to town to get help.  What these feisty teens don't know is that there is a Ouija board there, and that once they bust it out, ("it'll kill some time" they say as the explanation) it raises a demon that takes over their injured friend Tom.  Tom is, by the way, the only character whose name I remember.  I guess the group leader dude was Chris?  Or maybe it was Ron.  I really don't remember, or care.

Tom goes all evil and kills group members one by one with his evil demon powers.  He kind of just "causes things to happen", we'll see moving objects or circumstances that seem outlandish and then we'll cut to Tom in his demon makeup making evil expressions and so it's more of insinuated kills.  But the kills themselves are pretty nice.  They're clever, and even though some of them seem awkwardly set up, they're still fun to watch and original.  Originality is everything when you've got a low budget, and so this movie gets points. Chris, the group leader who left to get help, gets killed indirectly by Tom, and so now it's Tom preying on his group of friends

This movie at first made me want to give it relatively low marks for the general pacing, which is slow, and for the bad acting.  It's pretty amateur in feel, and obviously it didn't take much longer than a few days at most to film it.  But you can't really blame them, because I'm sure it was all the director's or writer's money.  I personally hope they made it back off a film like this, because these films need to be made.  Not like, this one especially, but damn, where would we be without independently made, low budget films?  Some of those films have been my favorite.  I know if I made a movie, I'd be damn proud if it came out half as good as this one.

I feel great about it, I'm giving it 3 stars.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Star Knight - 1985

Also known originally as "El caballero del dragon" which translates exactly to "The Dragon Man", this is an unheard of film included on MY NEW BOXSET Sci Fi Invasion:
Yes, it does say 50 movies, and yes, I do have plans on watching them all.  But no, I'm not going to marathon it.  In fact, I've seen many of these before.  I'm looking at the actors there listed on the bottom of the boxset and I can tell you what movies they're in, cause they're the ones I've seen:
Mark Hamill and Bill Paxton in Slipstream, Jesse Ventura is Abraxas, uh, okay, I'm not going to check the rest of that, fuck it.  The most WTF movie on this boxset is The Brother From Another Planet, directed by John Sayles, which I have seen and although I guess it's Sci Fi, it's barely that and more of an indie comedy.

This movie, Star Knight, is a Spanish production (think Spain, not Mexico) that stars Klaus Kinski and Harvey Keitel.  Man, those guys (specially Harvey) were pretty name actors, why didn't they make the cover of the DVD box?!  I also did not know that Klaus Kinski was in this when I randomly selected it to watch first, so that was an unexpected bonus.  I chose this disc first because it had the most movies on it I'd already seen:  1983's Extraterrestrial Visitors and 1989's Slipstream.  Then it has Night Fright from 1967, which I am about 40 minutes into currently.

Star Knight was a weird one to start this set off with.  I made a mistake, in other words.  It's a fucking sword and sorcery movie, first of all.  I was about 10 minutes in and already thinking of changing it to something else, but Klaus Kinski convinced me otherwise.  He plays a wizard, and Harvey Keitel plays some other loyal server to the king or something I think.  I don't remember what Keitel was supposed to be.  Whatever.  The princess runs away, despite rumors of a dragon nearby, and goes swimming, and disappears into the lake.  Her servant that went with the princess comes back swearing the dragon took her, but we don't know if she's lying or what.  Then the next time we see the princess, she is with some weird guy in a bizarre suit and a helmet like an astronaut.
As it turns out, this guy is an alien, and people just think his UFO is a dragon.  This dude, known as Ix, communicates only by telepathy, and his language is weird whale-songs.  It's a very strange moment, because at one point or several, I was pretty buzzed while I watched this and downed a 32 ounce Bud Ice, and I had no clue what was going on.  The movie is slightly confusing but you get it pretty soon and 45 minutes in you know what you're watching.  It's just the editing and the lack of explanation at first make it strange.

Anyways, the princess and Ix hang out and they fall in love, while in the meantime all the kings horses and all the kings men pursue the dragon.  Klaus Kinski eventually finds her first and comes to understand what's going on.  Then in the weirdest finale ever, Harvey Keitel touches Ix's helmet, somehow that makes him wear the suit pictured above instead of Ix, and then Harvey and the king randomly appear on Ix's spaceship floating out to space?!  WHAT?  So they die then?  Cause last I checked they didn't know how to fly a spaceship and they don't know where they're going....

Like Extraterrestrial Visitors, this somehow gets roped into that plethora of strange, disturbing kids movies made by other countries.  It's not like it's scary or has violence, but it's just so wtf and it does have nudity (small amount).  But who else would this be for???  The comedy is stupid and awful, the sword and sorcery stuff is done tongue and cheek, the whole thing feels very light and childish.  Plus, normal people could not take this movie seriously for a second.  Now, I personally couldn't care less about kids, so go ahead, show them this movie.  If they grow up to be serial killers, maybe it was just coincidence.

I guess I do have to say though that this movie leaves one hell of an impression, and obviously I didn't hate it.  It's not some boring nonsense like so many foreign films.  In fact it reminds me a lot of 1983's Extraterrestrial Visitors.  If you don't know that movie, it is also known as Pod People and was riffed on by MST3K.  It's a ripoff of E.T. from Spain, and it's all sorts of kooky weirdness.  By the way why is the word kooky so similar to the word cookie?

I could probably talk about this movie a lot more, but I'll spare you the time and just say, I would actually recommend it.  In a weird way.  If you're in a bizarre mood, definitely if you're smoking the reefer or drinking, and if you like cheesy childish sci fi.  My perfect Saturday morning always calls for a movie like this, it brings me back to when I was a kid and watching some weird ass movie like The Manitou (yes, I saw that as a child, and yeah, it frightened the fuck out of me).

I'll give it a generous 2.5 stars.  I might watch this again, if I'm looking for fun.  The pacing kinda sucks, though, so there's other far better things out there.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Beast from Haunted Cave - 1959

Let's return to an area we know and (possibly) love.  Roger Corman.  Oh yes, there will be Corman.  Lots o' Corman.  Ugh, this movie fucking sucked.  Let's actually start with that thought.  This movie was dulls-ville-o'rama.  Boring fucking talking talking talking.

The Beast from Haunted Cave is some sort of wannabe heist gangster flick with a sci fi horror twist.  Of course, given that this is Corman cannon fodder, you get to sit back and take the horror sci fi for what it is sure to be the moment you press play:  tiny insert shots, and a loooooong wait to finally see the monster in the last two minutes.  Corman was king of making you wait for the very ass end of the film for you to get any sort of payoff.  I wonder if he did this to make people walk out of the theater saying, "that movie wasn't that bad," the ending of it still fresh in their minds.

What is the plot besides the fact it features a very indiscernible monster that makes occasional guest appearances?  Some bullshit about some gold bars that are in the mountains.  A couple of these criminals set off some explosives in the hills and awaken the Beast, which is a giant spider by the way, and it kills one of them.  The other gets away but now is terrified of what he saw, and what no one believes him about.  All becomes clear when they witness the Beast kill someone else, but they've still gotta get their gold so now it's one last confrontation, man vs. Beast....

The monster in this movie is awful.  Here is the poster of the movie:
Awesome!  It's some sort of tentacle monster with huge fangs and there's webs everywhere!

Then the monster we got in the movie:
It's uhhhh, some dude covered with hay and string draped all over him?  It's Cousin Itt from Addams Family?  It's a close up of something my cat threw up?  This could literally be anything.

So as you can see, this movie doesn't exactly "deliver".  It's genuine Corman, at least, and we knew what we were getting in for, but this one has to be one of his worst.  At least others distract you with how silly the monster looks, or with a somewhat interesting side plot.  The plot in this one is so flat though, and poorly acted, that it pretty much fails in every conceivable way.

I will give it this:  if you went into it not knowing what the title was, and not knowing anything about Corman, there is a small chance you might get caught up in the plot and wonder wtf is with the spider thing.  Because like so many of the movies of this era, it doesn't explain jack shit, which is great if you were super high and drunk.  It could be entertaining like that.  But the plot moves so slowly you'd eventually just decide to watch Robocop II instead.  Bad language makes for bad feelings.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - 1985

It's an age old question:  why can't I find Road Warrior anywhere?  Okay, so not exactly age old.  But damn, that movie is not on any streaming site and the DVD is save only on Netflix.  Do I cave and rent it from the library?  Okay, thinking of that I just reserved my copy.  But that didn't keep me from skipping chronologically and going right to Beyond Thunderdome, the agreed upon shame of the Mad Max family.

This movie gets an endless bad rap for it's silliness and that is pretty deserved.  I mean, first of all it's the weird characters: there's a midget boss of an underworld, there's Tina Turner as some sort of dominatrix looking lady who has strange hair, and a whole host of other weirdo's.  Then there's the Thunderdome.  Thunderdome is some giant cage in which people fight to the death.  Of course, that's not enough though.  No, the people in there have to be dangled from bungee cords and do stupid flips and bounces everywhere.  It's like some demented Cirque Du Soleil show, and nowhere near as entertaining.

When the fight in the Thunderdome starts, with the idiotic crowd cheering and looking like the extras from Waterworld, Max and the giant metal headed guy he's fighting immediately launch out of their corners, fly all over the place, and it looks as uncoordinated and ridiculous as kids playing on a jungle gym.  Max eventually wins the bout but takes pity on his opponent, who it turns out is mentally handicapped.  Since the rules of Thunderdome are "two men enter, one man leaves" Max has broken that rule and thus gets exiled.

That's when this movie turns all Peter Pan-esque.  Max finds some outcast group of children, they have their own civilization where they do Peter Pan like things and engage in being idiots like those kids from the movie Hook.  If you're beginning to sense a theme here it should be:  wackiness, silliness, childishness, and Peter Pan.  If you saw the first film you should recognize that though you probably could show it to a kid, it had none of these traits.

So what am I complaining about, really?  Well, they took a decent dark story and they turned it into an action adventure.  And that is the same line the new one, Fury Road follows.  But this one is far too familiar.  It gets old, it gets predictable, and it feels like it rips off every fun 80's movie there is. It's basically if you took Hook, The Goonies, and Waterworld, and you made some weird bastard child out of them all.

All that considered, the story line moves at a reasonable pace and it doesn't hurt as bad as it easily could while you're watching it.  Considering it came out in '85, only 6 years after Mad Max, Mel Gibson looks a lot older here too, the long hair and makeup help a lot.

I guess I'll give it 1.5 stars.  I don't really know what to give it.  It's like Godzilla from 1998, if it had been named something else and hadn't insinuated it was part of a far, better lineup of movies, it wouldn't be considered as bad.  Just change the name and it would gain respect.  But no, it had to be part of a franchise, and had to try and ruin it.