Monday, August 31, 2015

The Killings at Outpost Zeta - 1980

Written as I watch it, high and drunk:

Hm.  This movie's kinda slow.  I don't want to think that this early in, but dialogue, dialogue, bored actors.  What constitutes a good actor versus a bad actor?  If they just learn the lines, if they memorize them word for word.  Think about what they'll be doing as they say those words.  If they allow no part of themselves, their humanity, to drip into the character.  If they don't know what expression they're making, what they're doing with their hands, why their character is mad or glad, or whatever.  These actors suck.  They're horrible.  No thought at all about their characters.  They all come off as tired, bored, maybe drunk.  That's thought one.

It's amazing the work that these cheapass little movies can accrue.  Look at these ridiculous uniforms.  Someone had to make those, those lame skin tight red spandex things and the white detailing and the gloves, etc.  Someone sat down, and sewed that shit together.  That cheapass set, the one that looks like someone's office?  It was an office!  They emptied it of the officey things and hung up space graphics and put some chairs in there...I've been on sets, I know how it goes, and believe me, it's a lot of work.  To see the work that goes into this and the final product....isn't that why we love bad movies?  To see someone's passion turned into this horrible, disgusting, useless, trivial thing?  To feel better about ourselves?  Or is it to put ourselves in their shoes, to wish we were on that sinking boat, being that ignorant captain who says, and wholly believes, the ship's not going down.  This, this is brilliant.  This film matters.

What makes a script "bad"?  I know in my life I've said stupid things, things that sounded forced or didn't make sense, things that contradicted other things I'd said.  If we recorded real dialogues, they would be worse than the worst script imaginable.  And yet we criticize these scripts because the lines are so "unrealistic".  Have you ever played dumb, pretended you didn't know what someone was talking about when you actually did?  Yeah of course you have.  You could never do that in a script.  It's would be one of the worse, and one of the least sensible things to depict in a script.  But it's fucking human, it's ridiculous and inane.  How do we find these faults in ourselves explainable next to a movie wherein the dialogue is dumb?  Yeah of course it's dumb, LIFE is dumb.  YOU are dumb.  What the fuck do you expect?  Yet we do expect better.  We expect, because this is "entertainment" and entertainment must be "better".  How about instead of entertainment, we judge things by realism?  Wow, suddenly a lot has changed right?  This might be the most random review ever.

First real review part 1:  Holy shit I'm not going to make it.  I'm way too tired for this shit.  Get to the killings!  It's 30 minutes in and I just checked to see how much was left.  Ughhhh....  I don't understand what part of the human psyche loves bad movies.  How did evolution not breed that out?  I have probably legitimately spent years of my life researching, reading about, tracking down, and watching bad movies.  How is this the real review?  I want pasta.

Okay, now here I am two days later, having finished the movie after this original day.  So consider now to be the real review.  Killings at Zeta was a tremendously slow film, hell they don't even land on the planet Zeta until like 35 minutes in.  In the meantime it's all talking, people doing things, the supposed "drama" of spaceflight, and little to nothing to keep us entertained.  They land, a few of the crew goes out, finds a skeleton, all while the people who stayed with the ship try and uncover what happened to the last crew that came to the planet.  I realize they might have addressed this in the movie (but I think they didn't):  couldn't they have just communicated on the radio?  Like "Yo, spaceship, there's a fucking skeleton out here, keep your heads up"

A gigantic sort of rock monster thing shows up.  Supposedly, this was the planet's native species.  The first crew found the remains of one and started to grow another, and then the one they grew killed them all and went roaming around the planet.

It's obvious they just want to kill time for most of the movie.  What would've made a really neat 30 minute mini-movie was stretched into 90 minutes, and so most of the film is just filler.  They try to add tension, they try to distract us, but it's just needless fluff.  But that's kind of okay.  What this movie is, is a great film for a rainy day, a day where you're off work and you're dead tired and you maybe smoke a bowl.  It's enjoyable in that way where if you were a kid this movie would make a huge impression on you.  It reminds me of another era, an era where channels had nothing to show on them so they would throw $20,000 at a director and tell them to make a movie, and then to kill the otherwise unoccupied air space they would toss it onto the airwaves at 10:00pm.  All of 180 people would actually tune in to watch it, 30% would watch it all the way through, and 0% would remember the movie 3 weeks later.

But in the world we live in now, one of the strangest and most interesting facts is that these completely forgettable, absolutely temporary films, made for no reason more than to kill time, are all now online, living second lives, being reborn and re-examined.  Is that good?  I don't know.  I don't think anyone involved in this movie would've ever, EVER expected for someone like me to watch it 35 years later.  I sometimes think that nothing trivial, nothing bizarre can be forgotten anymore.  That's the double edged sword of the internet.  Sure you might think, "well that's not bad" and I'm not saying it is, it's just interesting to me that a little movie like this has gone on, it has survived.  How much else will and has?  We have the option to view movies from the 1800's, to listen to original recordings that are lifetimes old, to read manuscripts that are centuries old.  The intention was never for us to see, hear, understand that artwork.  No one thought or knew their creation would be studied years, decades later.  I think it's one of the most interesting things ever.

I find, with movies like this, it wasn't originally meant to last.  This was made for TV.  This was basically just a cheapo once off excursion.  The director, Robert Emmenegger, directed a total of 7 real movies (and some documentaries), all of that in 2 years.  Then, he completely vanished from the film industry all together.  You have to wonder about things like this.  What happened?  Film used to be such a transitional thing to some people it seems.  You don't see directors nowadays randomly appear and disappear in a 2 year time frame.  I'd love to know more about this guy, the movies, anything.

 Probably it's exactly what I said though.  Some fledgling channel, in Missouri or Iowa or some shit - he was like a creative director or a editor or a producer on the channel, they decided one day, we need a sci fi movie (or 7) to throw on late at night.  They threw a dart, it landed on him, they wrote him a check and said "do it".  Much like Larry Buchanan.  But then, the channel folded, the movie vanished into obscurity, and it would be completely forgotten if not for the magic of YouTube.

How do I rate it, though?  Interest level aside it's bad.  It's boring, it's slow, the actors suck, the effects are terrible, the music is weird...It's Z grade.  But that's why I do the fucking site, bro!

Update 3/14/17:  I have since purchased this film.  This has to be a clear contender for my favorite review of mine thus so far.  The Killings at Outpost Zeta, bad as it may be, is memorable, for some reason.  I ended up (foolishly, perhaps) thinking that this movie is awesome.  That is all.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Def-Con 4 - 1985

The question about this film that attacked me as I watched it:  is it bad or is it brilliant?  Is it awful or is it awesome?  The very fact I asked that versus say, why am I watching this movie, is a good sign. Or, would it really hurt that bad to set myself on fire?  I don't know what it was about this movie, but this movie walked that thin line between genius and pure trash better than just about anything I've seen, and that's a whole shitload o' movies.

Def-Con 4 may be the dark horse in that classic analysis of what's a cult classic and what's not.  Man, that is a fucking awesome way to describe this movie.  Yes, in the venerable race to find out what deserves a following and what doesn't there's the clear winners and the clear losers.  But then outta nowhere sometimes a movie will show up, outta no where, and it'll be the SHIT and that is the dark horse.  Yeah dude.  And Def-Con 4 might just be a dark horse.

Def-Con 4 has lot a of ingredients to make it classic and lots of added bonuses as well.  It has an awesome cast, played very well, having fun on set, not caring too much about their characters.  None of them are known, but they were all great in their roles and they are memorable.  It had a great concept, the tried and true post-apocalypse world.  Always a good niche, the post apocalypse wherein some innocents verse some evil, and this time it's a couple astronauts who were in space while the world got destroyed versus the evil gangs that live on Earth after the destruction.

Earth, as you know, will immediately fall into complete chaos if a bomb ever goes off.  Not only will it kill off fauna and flora, it will dry up water, destroy buildings and cars, but it will conveniently not kill people or destroy their clothes.  It's gonna be a weird apocalypse.  So earth is ruled by gangs, astronauts land, astronaut Howe goes to get help.  Help does not exist, rather there is evil man Vinny.  Vinny and top girl JJ have a pretty tight leash over everyone and although JJ doesn't like it, Vinny is in control.

Howe and Vinny clash cause Howe initially says he has food, Vinny and JJ (who was played by Lenore Zann, aka the voice of Rogue in the 90's X-Men show, fuck yeah) have differing opinions, he sentences her to death and eventually she is good, that's the point. Whatever, plot analysis over.  Fun shit happens.  That's the plot.

It was just classic.  Surprisingly good cinematography, great cast, low enough budget to be creative....I tell ya Canadian sci fi movies get ragged on but are usually surprisingly good IMO.  This one is no exception.  At the risk of two similar reviews back to back (The Head)  this movie might have to get 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pinocchio's Revenge - 1996

This is going to be my first, and maybe only review written of a movie I haven't watched recently. Usually my routine has been to watch the movie, then the next day write the review.  I saw Pinocchio's Revenge maybe a year ago, so I'm going off pure memories. I'm doing this because I have seen Pinocchio's Revenge twice, which is rare for some relatively average, forgettable puppet attack flick.  And yes, this is like Pinocchio as in the animated thing, the puppet.  But this one is live action and is a lot more like Child's Play than Pinocchio.  And it's not alone.  This and the 1988 movie Pin are both worthy entries into the puppet attack films that took on Pinocchio as a perpetrator.

Imagine Child's Play, the initial build, but without ever seeing the doll move, talk, etc.  It's all the child saying it did this, saying it did that.  Now, we do hear it talk, as the audience.  However, it's puppet mouth doesn't move and the creepy puppet thing never moves either.  We start with a guy out in the woods burying the puppet and the film goes from there.  Puppet is evil, it says all this weird-ass shit to a little girl.  She tries to convince her mom of the puppet's evil-ness, but mom ain't having none of it.

We as the audience want to see the puppet move, want to know that it is evil for sure, and that's the number one reason why this movie works.  I'm not going to say at any point that this movie is awesome, cause at best this is getting 3 stars (spoiler alert for my review there).  But this movie is not bad.  It instead walks that thriller / whodunnit / mystery / suspense line throughout, and we are made to wonder if indeed Pinocchio is committing these crimes - and if so, it he's doing it physically or mentally, and if he's not doing it, who is?!  The girl is around for all the kills so she is naturally blamed for them, and we have to wonder if it's her.

This was directed by Kevin Tenney, who did Witchboard and Night of the Demons.  Similar to those movies, this movie is well paced, keeps you guessing and interested, and has some creepy props.  It's very minimal, low budget I'd guess, and uses the fear of the unknown over monsters, blood, and extremity.  For what it is I liked it a lot, hence why I saw it twice.  I have a small thing for puppet attack movies, and since I refuse to sit through the Puppet Master series, I have to watch this shit.  I did see Demonic Toys and the sequel too.  There needs to be more puppet attack films.

Clearly ripping off the success of Chucky, released directly to VHS, movies like this are freakin sweet.  Where would we be without some bullshit trash like Pinocchio's Revenge?  3 full stars for the puppet, the girl actor, and the thrill of seeing Pinocchio maybe kill some peeps.

The Head - 1959

I put on this movie last night, fearing the worst.  This is going back to my Sci Fi Invasion boxset, which has given me a hit with Star Knight, and a miss with Night Fright (odd, that I picked two movies that rhymed).  Then, Eyes Behind the Stars wasn't great but was certainly weird and memorable, and I don't remember what other ones I've seen were from the box right now, if there were any.  So far, in other words, I've had a extremely good run with this set, considering.  And this movie just made it a whole shitload better.

I didn't want to get too excited, but I just kept thinking about this movie on BART just now (I commute to SF) and thinking about my review.  Yes, I was excited to write a review for it, in a rare case of review glee like the good ol' days when I started this blog.  Not that I don't enjoy writing this, it's just that sometimes the movies suck and I have nothing to say, see my last few short reviews.

The Head, it's such a bland name, and the plot, it's been done before and again.  In fact, I have even seen The Brain That Wouldn't Die, which is pretty much a carbon copy of this film in most ways.  You have the mad scientist, here played with eccentric glee by Horst Frank as Doctor Ood.  You have the head living without a body, here it is Professor Abel, who was originally doing the experiment, died, and was brought back by Doctor Ood.  Then there's the girl, Irene.  Irene is a hunchback, and to repay her loyalty Dr. Ood is going to put her head on the body of Lilly, a stripper he murders.

The best parts of this movie though, is not the plot, which is true 50's drama-horror-suspense like so many, but the way it's done.  Again, it's the atmosphere, it's the look, the design, the acting, the mood, the music.  It's all so top notch, absolutely perfectly done.  The film stock walks that perfect line between damaged but good enough quality, you get the aged feeling but not the look of something cheap and trashy.  The darkness, the light, it's all perfect.  I'd say this is a technically very well made film.

The acting is also top notch.  Dr. Ood is played with a manic intensity by Horst Frank.  Yes, it borders on overacting, and some will see it as such, but to me it was perfect.  He's not screaming and sweeping his arms around like crazy, he's got subtlety.  The dubbing was also spot on, since this was originally German, filmed in Germany, the dubbing is good and not that noticeable; again just the right amount of noticeable to make you appreciate it's charm.

Another thing I liked was the sexuality.  This movie was surprisingly sexy, erotic, almost had nudity, etc.  I don't know what it was rated on it's American release, it did have an American release on a double bill with a Christopher Lee film.  But the girl is really hot, the girl Lilly whose body Irene inherits.  Then they have some really ahead of their time sexual tension and scenes.  Of course as a guy I love those old vintage looking girls, thin as a stick and breasts jutting out at 45 degree angles.  There's a hot scene where she touches her breasts in front of a mirror, then there's a scenes where she opens her shirt and the guy sticks his hand in....oh man.  I want to be that guy.

It just had all the right ingredients, that's what it comes down to.  I would strongly recommend it if you have an interest in old horror films and don't know where to start.  It's a B movie, for sure, but it's really good, technically amazing, well acted, etc.  The special effect, the decapitated living head, was obviously just done with some forced perspective, and it's a lame effect, but that is truly the only weak point of the film.  It's very well paced, it isn't just all dialogue.  There's also not the ham-acting cop character that is always in movies like this.  The cops in this are very minimal.

I was going to give it 4 stars, but you know what, my blog, my rules, my thinking about it this morning....fuck it

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hellgate - 1989

What the fuck is going on here?  I add several movies to my Amazon queue thinking they're about zombies, this and Cave of the Living Dead, and then it turns out neither of them are zombie movies?!  Whose dick do I have to suck to get a freaking zombie movie goin here?  If it turns out that the other one I added, called fucking "Vengeance of the Zombies" also doesn't have zombies, I go on strike.  Which means, nothing really.  It's not like I get paid for this shit.  Basically it just means I get really angry, and write more reviews while drunk most likely.

Again, this movie had me set to enjoy a zombie flick.  Check da poster: 
You know on second thought, this did have people that were brought back from the dead, sort of the definition of a zombie, but I wanted a movie that was like the "zombie" zombie movie.  Where they bite, they're chasing people around, they're all decayed and gross and shit, they're idiotic, you know the typical zombie thing.  This is like, mystical magic brings people back but they're still intelligent, and they drive cars, and they obey their master - it's kinda like the dead people vampires can bring back in anime shows like Hellsing.  The "familiar", you know?

Yeah well whatever.  This one starts with some people telling scary stories.  This girl starts to tell one about a guy whose daughter was killed.  The father of the killed girl then finds a magic crystal which brings things back from the dead- although they also turn evil and then explode.  To living things, it just kills them.  Eventually he masters it, raises his daughter, and uses his undead daughter to get revenge on seemingly anyone.  The undead girl, Abigail Wolcott, is really hot and has some nudity, so, WIN.  Also the movie stars Ron Palillo, who was in a TV show called Welcome Back Kotter, which I've never seen.

Why did watching this film make me want to see old animal attack movies again?  Specifically I want to watch the movie Dogs from 1976.  Look for an upcoming review of it.  I hope.  

The movie was extremely dumb, it wanted to be funny and scary at the same time and succeeded in neither.  The humor is extremely stupid, it's the kind where you could tell the writers, maybe even the actors, thought it was really fucking funny - they were really fucking wrong.  It's soundtrack is a healthy supply of songs from the public domain and then the original songs are some dude noodling around on an electric guitar and synthesizer.  It's very minimal and extremely dull.  

The actors also suck.  A lot of them were never in other movies, or have minimal IMDb profiles.  Makes me wonder how Mr. Money from Welcome Back Kotter felt about being in this shit show.  The production values are bad, they obviously had some money but didn't spend it well, everything looks like a set, looks staged, looks like a prop.  There is no illusion of false reality here, it feels like the dumb fake movie that it is.  

But it's kind of original, it's B movie badness, and it could be okay to toke up to.  I guess that deserves a star.

Added 8/25/15:  On second thought 2 stars, this movie would be an okay movie to have on like, bad movie night with some friends.  It wasn't THAT bad, just know what you're getting in to.

The Gingerdead Man - 2005

Charles Band.  No, I haven't had enough of him yet.  Obviously.  It's not my fault he's all over Amazon Prime Instant View.  Or whatever it's called.  I added a bunch of movies of his production companies.  Some of them I didn't know were associated with him, some I did know.  This one I did know was his, yet I watched it anyway.  Something is clearly very wrong with me.

I've been listening to all the old My Bloody Valentine albums, all the ones that came out before the landmark of Loveless, and I only mention that because I'm listening to it right now, and if I hear a Kevin Shields quote that fits this movie, I'm gonna drop it.  Here's a good one just now:  "I want to go."  As in, go away from this movie.  Go, run.

Gary Busey is the kind of actor no one will understand in like 20 years.  Why he was ever in movies, why people got him to be an actor of all things.  Looking at the dude, he instead looks like the kinda dude who'd catch a fish, gut it and eat it raw, all whilst telling you about his strict religious beliefs.  He's a conflict of different type of person, both totally insane but also roped in tight as anything.  He has a great quote in Point Break, "I'm so hungry I could eat the ass end out of a dead rhino."  I've been really hungry, but holy shit, that guy's totally fucking insane.

Did I mention this movie had 3 sequels yet?  Just like any ridiculously named Band movie, people saw it because of the stupid name, and it got it's "deserved" cult following, and now it came back a few times, and even fought Band's other monster, the Evil Bong.  Oh man.  I'm so fucking tired.  I just got back from a 4 day trip to LA, we drove both ways cause we're clearly awesome.  And we didn't even get to see where Full Moon Features is located.

I'm not going to sink to describe the plot.  Re-read the title of the movie.

It's ok to riff, drink to, get high while watching, shoot yourself to, and just put on cause your life is awesome.  Otherwise, go outside.  Shit, go do something.  Don't watch this movie.  It's not funny, it's not tongue in cheek, it's just dumb, and I feel like a worse person for watching it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Daddy-O - 1958

Uggggh.  Oh god.  Why did I even watch this movie?  I'm asking you, the non-existent blog viewer, to answer me that question.  Being several beers deep did not help this at all, I would've needed to be several bongs hits deep to enjoy this shit.

Dick Contino (apparently a minor celebrity) stars as some idiot dude wearing the most ridiculous polo shirts ever and hiking his pants up high as they go, and apparently he's a beatnik and a singer too.  He sings really repetitive awful songs to middle aged looking teenagers, all whilst some plot goes on about drugs, hot rod cars, and a crime boss played by Bruno VeSota (from Attack of the Giant Leeches fame).  Yes, MST3K did riff on this movie, and holy fucking shit did it deserve that.

Some chick cuts him off on the freeway, intersects herself into his posse, beats him in a drag race by cheating, insulting him, and yet all he does is fall for her and let her do that shit to him, and he is the most bitchy little faggot imaginable about it.  God, this movie hurts.  This is my first "drama" film I think for this website.  I also bought one of these Steel Reserve flavored beers, I bought margarita flavor, and fuck it was awful.  Hence the randomness of my review right now.

Why was the girl such a unrepentant cunt?  The movie never answers that and it got on my nerve.  She is a total bitch the whole time, never gets what's coming to her, and the pussy-whipped main character acts like his namesake, he's a total dick who just deals with it and falls for her anyways.  Bruno VeSota rocks as the villain but never does anything really that cool, and the movie just kind of peters out and makes you sit there, bashing your face with rocks until it ends.

I don't know who would've watched this, or why, in 1958.  Soon the only way people will see these movies is out of some morbid curiosity, or perhaps on a drunk dare.  I don't think it deserves any better than that either.  I give in half a star.  Okay, no.  I don't.  I give it no stars.  FUCK!  It's just pointless, boring, has loose ends, it makes no sense, and it doesn't even have a message!  So what's the point of it?!  Bad things happen some time?!  Life sucks?  Yeah great movie, bro-han.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cave of the Living Dead - 1964

Also known as Night of the Vampires.

I watched this under the title of the post, Cave of the Living Dead.  I wanted some zombie flick, originally, and put this on cause obviously it sounded awesome.  But this is fact a vampire film, and I was ready for disappointment, but this film is actually not that bad.

There's been a grouping of murders recently, and a inspector is called in to solve them.  Maybe they're unsolved because the two policemen on the case are retarded?  That definitely seems to be the case.  There's also the unintelligent, self-depreciating black man John, and there's a doctor who clearly thinks that work and actual doctor duties are far too much to ask...  It's a real mess.  The inspector has to set everyone straight, solve the murders, and figure out why it is the victims have two little puncture marks on their necks.

Filmed in the 60's and still black and white, I was intrigued from the beginning because the film quality and the look was actually interesting.  It was actually pretty well shot and made, the atmosphere is present, and you kind of get caught up in the story.  This isn't one of those where you're just suffering in silence as they go from pointless dialogue scene to pointless drinking coffee scene to bland death back to dialogue.  They actually kept this movie going, they keep it interesting, and I wanted to watch it.

I did make the mistake to get drunk and high midway through, however.  This is not a drinking/smoking movie, it's one you might want to pay attention to.  I quickly forgot about the plot and wondered what was going on, and I really don't remember much of the end.  I know I wanted to like this movie though, so memory or not it gets 3.5 stars.

Women's Prison Massacre - 1983

Emanuelle Escapes from Hell (ItalianEmanuelle fuga dall'inferno), also known as Blade ViolentWomen's Prison Massacre, and Emanuelle in Prison. 

Just wanted to clear that up. And in case you don't know, Emanuelle is a long, long running series with both legitimate and illegitimate sequels that's all about sex. Usually they just throw the name Emanuelle in there to capture the audience, they want you to know it's sexy, whether there is actually someone named Emanuelle in the film or not.

In the case of this movie, IMDb tells me there was an Emanuelle, but I don't know which one was her. I don't know or remember any of the characters names, so there could'a been 4 Emanuelle's. Notice how in movies, no characters are ever named the same? In real life, people named John meet other John's every freakin day, but in movies there's one John, one Dave, one Steve or Carol or whatever. I digress. Emanuelle is played by super hot Indonesian woman Laura Gemser, and there's really only a thin plot to get to the nudity in this movie.

In the beginning, Emanuelle is a reporter and goes to the women's prison to report on the conditions there. There's some nudity and torture scenes as the guards and other prisoners fight her, and then some criminal gang busts into the jail and takes all the women hostage. They have sex with the prisoners, one of them even fucks the female prison warden in an really cool sexy scene. The last 40 or so minutes is just them, in the prison, having sex, and a slow build up of police who really do nothing of value in the entire movie.

The film was cheap, short, and easy. Directed by Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso, it was Italian trash cinema at it's finest. Some of the girls are pretty unattractive too, and seeing them naked isn't awesome, but I always appreciate movies where there's actual normal people in them. There is enough hot chicks to go around though. A fun romp, but giving it lots of stars would be hugely inaccurate.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Shocking Dark - 1989

Also known as Terminator II, Contaminators, and Alienators.

This movie part of a long line of Italian rip off films, which go hand in hand with all those Turkish films we've all hopefully heard of, like Turkish Star Wars, etc.  This one isn't Turkish obviously, but rather is by Italian cheapo director Bruno Mattei.  I saw my first Mattei film Rats: Night of Terror when I was in my teenage years, and I have always had a special place for it in my heart.  I was in the mood for complete trash so I turned this on the other day.

Originally it was titled Terminator II, as in, yes, a sequel to the Terminator film with Arnold Schwarzenegger directed by James Cameron.  Check the poster here:
Gee, I wonder what movie that is supposed to be?  Let me think about that one a while.

Obviously, it could not be released with that poster and title here in the US and wasn't, but I really wonder if, when it was released wherever it was with this poster, people went in and wondered WTF happened with the Terminator franchise.  Cause you see, despite being caller Terminator II, and the obvious rip off there, the plot is actually a complete rip off/copy cat of Aliens.  So, you have a Terminator II titled movie with the plot of Aliens.  Basically.

The surprising thing about this movie, though, is that it's not like the terrible trash you'd expect based on that previous paragraph.  It's not a great movie, definitely not, but it's also not bottom of the barrel trash.  It clearly had some sort of a budget, the actors aren't bad, even if they are dubbed, and being that the plot is a copy of Aliens, it's entertaining.  See, they really REALLY copied Aliens, and since Aliens is a great movie, this isn't that bad either.

The aliens themselves in this movie are not nearly as cool as the aliens in Aliens, but they are still interesting and neat looking.  And you could sort of see that maybe there were parts of the plot they did want to go on their own, or perhaps they forgot how Aliens went, and so it dawdles off on it's own for a little while.  All in all it's a really bizarre thing to watch if you're familiar with Aliens, being a big fan of Aliens myself I had a awesome time watching this weirdo rip off.

It's got some great moments, some truly offbeat moments, and sheer insanity at times, and that makes the movie easy to watch.  It's quickly paced, very atmospheric, and I can honestly say that it made me want to see more films by Bruno Mattei.  Since he has a plethora of awful/weird movies he's made I have a lot of options here.  I would definitely recommend this film for watchers of the obscure, for fans of Aliens, and just people in general.  I'd almost say that this is necessary viewing, in truth.  

I can't imagine what "legacy" this movie will have in the future, but being that Turkish Star Wars and Brazilian Star Wars and such are experiencing a resurgence (as is the Terminator franchise) maybe this movie will gain some more deserved notoriety.  Fortunately, this is available on YouTube, where I watched it (with Chinese subtitles too!).  Also, great movie for drinking, smoking, movie nights, riffing, etc.  I liked this shit!  What can I say?!  Five stars.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Werewolf of Washington - 1973

The Werewolf of Washington is a comedy horror film.  It took me a while to catch on to this, and then I debated it in my head for a little while, but it definitely is.  I mean it's right there in the title.  A werewolf?  In Washington?  Oh yes, let the antics begin!  It's not laugh out loud funny, or wasn't to me anyway, but it is pretty smart and pretty entertaining.

When reporter Jack is bit by a werewolf while on assignment, he meets up with a gypsy woman who tells him he bears the curse now. He gets a star scar on his body, and starts seeing pentagrams everywhere.  He also turns into a werewolf come the next full moon and kills a dude.  He doesn't have the strictest memories of his wolf antics (they never do) but is aware something is wrong and of course he remembers the gypsy and what she said about the curse.

Jack does all he can to try and convince others about this, and naturally no one believed him.  He is constantly pestered by the president, by his girlfriend, by other duties, who want him to be around and be there for important meetings and such, which interferes with his werewolf schedule.  It's a great setup for the movie, and it honestly was done very well.

The movie fits perfectly into that bizarre genre of slightly off kilter comedies.  It is light on the makeup and special effect, it wasn't trying to be like a legit werewolf film.  In fact the werewolf scenes are usually played for laughs.  He turns into a werewolf while on the phone in one, he then scurries around his apartment, knocking over a lamp and getting distracted by it, etc.  The actor, Dean Stockwell, was surprisingly energetic and enthusiastic about playing a werewolf it seems, and it's really fun to watch.

The comedy as I said is not in your face.  It's subtle, and usually pretty smart.  There is one scene though where Jack takes off his shirt in a men's room to show someone else the pentagram mark on his body, and someone calls them "faggots", that made me laugh.

This is the first and possibly only movie where I am going to say, "this movie could be / should be remade".  Not like, this one specifically, but this idea.  People are really into making fun of politics now, and if we got another idiot Republican like Bush in the White House, this movie being remade (keep it subtle, keep the horror element, and don't go crazy shoving your opinions around) would do very well I think.  The reason this is good is because Jack is just such a thorough good guy, he's really likable, and he only wants the best.  It's also not too heavy on actual political riffing, it's more like making fun of the general flow of politics, how ridiculous the people are, how old and unintelligent the president is, etc.

I really liked this movie, despite not knowing it was a comedy.  That made it better for me really.  I was thinking the whole time, "this is kinda funny for like a sub-par werewolf film".  I think it's best to approach this as a werewolf film, and consider the comedy as extra.  The only thing that bothered me was a loose plotline brought up in the last 20 minutes that never was followed up (watch for the midget).
I feel pretty good about the movie, I think it gets 4 stars.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter - 1966

Alright, I guess I might have overstressed how unique White Buffalo was way back when I reviewed it (man, that feels long ago).  In fact there is a whole subgenre (isn't there always) that's called Weird West, and it's Western-ish movies that have another element to them, whether it's sci-fi, horror, whatever the case may be.  And yes, Wild Wild West does fit in there somewhere.  But the whole Weird West subgenre (fuck you autospell, that is a word) is also inclusive of this film, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (JJMFD).  Most parenthesis ever in one paragraph?  Maybe.

Controversially, this was also the last film of Estelita Rodriguez, and she might've been involved with one of the makers of this film, there's this whole thing online about it.  Who cares?  Not me.  She plays Juanita Lopez in the film, and is the main love interest for the Frankenstein monster, which in this movie is depicted by slab of beefcake Cal Bolder, and he's not called a monster but, rather confusingly, Igor.  Uh, guys, Igor is the assistant, you know the hunchback one that's not in the original novel at all?  God, WTF.

Jesse James is the western outlaw and legend, in case you were wondering if it was supposed to be "that" Jesse James or not, it is.  So basically, things dawdle around until 41 minutes in when Jesse and beefcake man Hank Tracy are taken in by Frankenstein's granddaughter (aka NOT Frankenstein's Daughter as the title clearly states) and they hang out there for a bit while subversively Frankenstein's grandDaughter plans on putting Hank Tracy to work as her next monster.

I just read online that not only was this filmed in 8 days, this AND the double feature it played alongside (Billy the Kid vs. Dracula) were both filmed at the same time, and that 8 days was for both of these movies.  Holy shit, so basically this was shot in 4 days.  That may be one of the quickest films I've seen, and that's counting Roger Corman and Ed Wood's films.  It doesn't really show, surprisingly.  Uh, surprising isn't a strong enough word for that, how about "that's fucking insane"?  That is incredibly fast, and pretty damn skilled.  I'd challenge just about anyone to make a movie in 4 days now and have it still be even slightly entertaining.

Once the monster is made, it's controlled in the typical way - by use your strongest, most commanding voice.  The monster kills some people, and eventually it comes down to Jesse James, the monster, the grandDaughter, and a struggle of who can throw out their most powerful voice to make the monster do what they command.

As a monster, Frankenstein is pretty lame in this one.  Totally not enough makeup or anything, it just looks like the same guy with some fake stitches on his head.  I prefer a more monstrous monster myself.  He's also too smart; as a human Hank Tracy was kind of an idiot anyways, so when he's turned into the monster, he is pretty much just the same dude, except supposedly scarier.  I can't imagine anyone getting their scares, getting their kicks, getting anything real by watching this movie.  It stands (not alone) in that completely bland field wherein it's kind of nothing except a mild sciency fictiony movie that accomplishes nothing.  Which, as you might be aware, is why you would see it nowadays.

There's better films out there, more classic and whatever.  Maybe if Jesse had actually fought the monster or something, it would get a higher rating.  But as it is, 2 stars is more than enough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lady Frankenstein - 1971

Okay, so while I'm not entering any of the more legitimate Hammer or earlier Frankenstein films onto this site (as of yet, anyway) I'm not going to ignore that character completely, this movie can be considered as the middle part of my Frankenstein trilogy I started with Frankenstein Island and next comes Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter.  This movie was also partly produced by Roger Corman, a man whose name we just won't be able to get rid of in a blog like this one.

Supposedly a feminist sort of vision of Frankenstein, this movie is all about the daughter of Frankenstein, versus say a female version of the monster.  It's a little bit of a confusing title, as when I see Lady Frankenstein I think a female version of the monster itself.  But remember that Frankenstein is actually the name of the monster's creator in the original story, the monster itself has no name.  Thus Lady Frankenstein is actually a correct title.

In the beginning Frankenstein's daughter comes back from medical school, now a surgeon, and wants to help her father out on animal transplants.  There is a criminal that is executed, and soon after the Frankenstein's steal the body for their experimentation purposes.  The monster comes to life as always, but immediately kills father Frankenstein.  It roams free, wandering around killing people.  In the meantime, Frankenstein's daughter seduces beefy manslave Thomas, so that he can be killed with the intention of putting Frankenstein's old assistant's brain in Thomas's body.  Can her reign of terror be stopped, and what of the monster roaming the area killing people?

It's all lots of fun, and there are enough story lines going on at once to keep you watching.  The monster looks really insane in mostly a bad way.  During his animation process, his face randomly catches fire, and so once he's created he looks really facially deformed.
Otherwise he's a decent enough monster but the focus is not on him for most of the film.  We watch the daughter, Tania, and her cold-hearted approach to science.  It's interesting that she never shows surprise, disgust, fear, anything like that concerning the goings-on.  I'd say it's a very good performance, except I kind of doubt it was on purpose.

She just comes off like a total psycho, the kind that doesn't even realize there's something wrong with them.  The actress, Rosalbi Neri, is also really damn hot and has topless scenes aplenty in the film, and that was largely unexpected.  It comes in so late and it's the only thing that would make it R rated, cause the blood is very minimal.  So congrats on getting her bulbous chest in here to jack the rating up, bro.  I like.

In the end it's just another movie throwing the name Frankenstein around to attract viewers to pretty thrown together film, but I do congratulate it on a strong female lead, a commitment to nudity, and a ok enough monster.  It gets the middle road 2.5 stars.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror - 1998

I identify as bisexual.  That might be a TMI moment for many a reader out there. You probably don't know, don't care about my sexual history or preferences.  I'm just saying that I am not discriminatory.  Like, I like guys and girls, so I don't have nothing against gay people or transsexuals, or whatever.  But, somewhere on IMDb, somewhere online, it should just be stated, yes, this person did have a sex change.  It's just confusing.  I know it's none of my business per say, but come on.  Alexis Arquette plays Greg in the movie.  Cause she/he was still a guy. There's the start of this confusion.

Children of the Corn is I guess a classic horror film.  Even when I was young though, it did't have a great reputation and other Stephen King movies had a more known-about following.  It relied on kids being scary- maybe even helped invent that genre, and that might've been why it wasn't that known:  the kids were not very good actors in the movie.  But it has the most sequels as practically any movie ever, it is one of 9 Children of the Corn movies.  Okay.  It wasn't a bad first movie, but it definitely did not deserve 8 sequels.

This is also the first movie of Eva Mendez, she plays Kir in the movie, and she's a pretty decent actress.  My biggest qualm about her is that she is supposed to be 18 in the movie, and she was 24 in the role and she does NOT look 18.  She looks older.  Not in a bad way, but just, totally not 18.  She and a group of friends are driving along and end up in a town that's ruled by children, the children are all hella evil and influenced by "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" which is basically Satan.  The bodies stack up but Mendez and company decide to try and save the kids.

The movie is not as awful as you'd expect from a 5th installment that brings back no actors, plotlines, or anything related to the first movie (besides the basic concept).  It keeps the body count going, has enough weird characters to keep you interested, and is occasionally actually good/interesting.  They don't really make these sort of off shoots of things that much anymore, and in a way I like these things just cause they establish a legacy and/or fanbase.  You never meet anyone who's got like, all the Children of the Corn movies on DVD and the poster and is huge into the franchise, but if you do meet that guy, they're probably awesome.  I just wonder at some point when it comes to an 9 movie Children of the Corn series, was there ever that much demand for more sequels?  Are there actually other people out there like me who watch every single sequel?

It's cool though, and the movie like I said isn't all that bad.  Just relatively tame and forgettable.
2 stars.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fear - 1996

Fear might be my most popular actors movie review yet?  Hm.  Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Peterson, Alyssa Milano, Amy Brenneman, these people are all pretty well known for one reason or another, and the two leads are one Oscar nominated and one Oscar winner.  And the director James Foley is currently involved in House of Cards on Netflix and directed well known drama movie Glengarry Glen Ross.

Fear is such a basic name, bland, unassuming.  This movie could be about anything, it practically screams out at you.  It really fits this movie, though, and I could not rename this if I tried.  But it could've been named something like "the crazy dude" or something, cause that's really what it's got to offer.

Mark Wahlberg plays David, who is kinda the average mystery man.  Tall dark and handsome, David is a mystery and there's nothing that girls like more in movies like this.  Reese Witherspoon is playing a 17 year old girl who lives with her dad, brother in law, and stepmom.  Everything is kinda awkward with this family unit, but minor conflicts that are abundant step aside once Marky Mark enters the picture.  Reese W, playing Nicole, is just the whatever blond girl. A virgin, not super interested in men really, but full of pep and likability, she meanders along as the good girl you can easily watch until she is at a bar and spots David.

They lock eyes, and later when they first talk at a rave, David comes off as much deeper of a mystery.  He seems like a good guy though, as he gets Nicole safely out of the rave when a fight breaks out.  Then it's the slow dropping of the facade he put on for Nicole:  he beats up her friend just for innocently touching her, he hits Nicole (seemingly accidentally) but there is doubt, Nicole's father has this really bad feeling about David, etc.  You know what I just realized:  this movie fits into that 90's genre I made up, the teen sex thriller.  It's not the average one, cause it follows a innocent and likable female, but it is a twist on that 90's classic plotline.

Things go about as you expect and soon Nicole knows something is very wrong with David.  But the problem here is David.  Now I know that you should never over explain a character and sometimes it is enough to just have them act crazy, but there has to be something to make it make sense, cause otherwise you just watch as a character gets more and more extreme and you don't really know why.  I mean we as the audience knew what the dad knew from day one:  this guy's bad news.  But we spend so long with David playing innocent that when he turns bad, it's like there is just zero explanation.  It heavily relies on David just being super crazy and never once does it say, wait, why is he so fucking nuts?

The movie is very forgettable, not what I'd call good, and very popcorny for the most part.  It's the kind of movie you'd watch with a potential girlfriend, so she'd cling to your arm during the tense parts, and you'd both feel awkward during the sex parts, but you'd hopefully make a good joke about it once it was over, then you'd feel awesome about yourself and wonder if maybe you were gonna get laid that night.  I saw it....night before last.  Yeah.  August 7th.  And I did get laid that night.  So, maybe I owe that to Fear.  

It's not the worst thing ever, but they also decided to litter the soundtrack with awful 90's music and the movie feels extremely dated.  I know it's 20 years old, but I've seen 80's movies that aged better than this.  It's going to continue to not age well, be very indicative of the era in which it was made, and be forgotten.  But for trying, and the cast, it gets a solid 2 B movie stars.

Ticks - 1993

Also known as Infested and as C2 Killer Insect.

I recently rewatched this 1993 Brian Yuzna produced campy B movie with my wife, and once again I did not regret seeing this animal attack/normally small animal becomes huge film.  And I won't be the first to point out that if it had been named Killer Insect for good, the title would've been wrong as Ticks aren't insects.  But, whatever dude.

Seth Green stars in this movie as one of several problem kids that are sent to a summer camp to get better.  Apparently, all it takes is spending some time outside with other problem kids, doing activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, etc, and all the problems just melt away.  That's the idea behind this movie anyway, and the problem kids don't put up too much of a fight so maybe they're right.  While they're at this retreat, marijuana growers are simultaneously giving steroids to their plants to make them grow bigger, the steroids infect some ticks, and the ticks grow bigger.  It's your classic setup to a genuinely fun monster movie.

As I've stated numerous times, I love Brian Yuzna and I don't know why his films aren't better known.  He didn't direct, only produced, but this movie has a lot of his sort of elements in it.  There's the creature effects first of all; super good, everything is slimy and wet and gross looking.  There's Clint Howard in a small role, there's a couple minor tensions that come up beside the whole ticks thing, it's a movie that is really well paced and exciting even without the giant ticks thing going on.

Another thing I love that always makes me happy is when a movie that could've easily, EASILY been PG-13 goes for and gets and R rating.  It's like saying "fuck you" to all the little kiddies out there, Like, we could've easily trimmed out a couple parts of bad language and then you would've been able to watch this movie also, but, nope, we're keeping it, you don't get to see our movie.  I imagine it's rated R for the drug references, the language, maybe the blood.  But the drug languages are very minimal, they only swear like 10 times, and the blood is surprisingly low for this type of movie.  So they could've done it PG-13 with no real effort, I think.

Seth Green, Clint Howard, the other actors had all and have all been in real movies, this movie picked it's cast well.  The actors do a good job of having fun and putting this movie over.  Then there's the effects, as I mentioned earlier.  The little ticks are awesome looking.  Disgusting, real looking, slimy and deadly.  They look tremendously awesome.  When a dude or two gets fucked up, the makeup effects and prosthesis work is great, and it makes you feel both grossed out and it makes you laugh to see these guys go through the suffering they do.  There's a black guy that gets bit like 60 times by these things, and he just looks super messed up.  It's great.

Ticks is one of these that has a cult following, but not as strong as some of those other movies out there.  It's well paced, shot, directed, and executed, and deserves it's spot.  But ultimately, like so many projects which Yuzna was involved with, it just doesn't seem to have the awareness I think it deserves.  Cause I think it gets 4 stars.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Frankenstein Island - 1981

Holy shit, HOW is this movie from 1981?!  Wow, this movie looks, feels, smells like the late 60's. It's even got John Carradine in it, and that guy really got to one age and then just looked the same for the next 30 years.  But, 1981 it is and no clue anywhere online to show if it had been filmed previous to that.  This one is a genuinely old feeling movie.

We start with seemingly random scenes of hot air balloons.  Alright, that's unique.  I mean, how could you not like hot air balloons, right?  Well, when the balloonists land on an island, and go about exploring, and find a colony of weirdos there, you know you're in for a ride.  There's a woman turning people into sunglasses wearing zombies, there's an Edgar Allen Poe quoting prisoner played by Cameron Mitchell, there's a tribe of sexploited bikini wearing girls that don't really do much throughout the movie, there's Frankenstein, and then of course there's the ghost(?) of Frankenstein's creator (John Carradine) who chants "the power" a whole lot. Yeah, this movie makes tons of sense.

This movie was just a tad overdone and confusing, there's just so much going on the whole time and yet it's simultaneously very boring and bland.  It's great riffing material though and the pace is quick, so it's easy to watch.  It's obviously stretching a thin budget, but you have to give it props for having two major actors, and filming at a variety of neat locations including Mexico.

John Carradine has an extremely small part, like so many of his roles, and so many of the other characters are interchangeable to the point of getting them confused.  And it's filmed in that style where it touches on one story going on, then jumps to another somewhere else, another somewhere else.  It's not linear, where we follow the characters as they go on.  So it is slightly confusing and you should absolutely not pay it too much attention otherwise you'll probably just get mad at it.

It's the perfect movie to be super trashed while watching, in fact don't watch it without drugs and alcohol, because then you can have those awesome moments where you declare "I have no idea what's happening with this movie."  It's instantly riff-able, mockable, and hurts, but is prime grade A smelly cheese.  For riffability and general nonsense, it get's 3 solid B movie stars.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Legacy of Rage - 1986

I liked Brandon Lee.  And not just because of his most well known movie The Crow.  Although that helps of course and it's impossible not to mention Brandon Lee and not talk about The Crow.  The Crow was one of those movies made for a specific type of person at a specific time and it is a definitive 90's flick.  It personifies the 90's about as perfectly as The Matrix.  I love the 90's, obviously, because I was in my young teenage years during them and they fuckin kicked ass.  No stupid internet or smart phones to ruin everything, awesome dark kids shows and movies, it was the best time to be a young person.

If you are a fan of an actor, director, writer, whatever the case may be, you should see the stuff they make.  That's what I do.  If I enjoy the films of someone, then I'll be looking that shit up on IMDb in a heartbeat to see what else they did.  Brandon Lee's filmography is very small, he was in 8 movies, 2 of them in very minor roles or cameo appearances, so 6 real roles.  Of those 6 roles, 4 of those movie covers feature Brandon Lee showing his fists.  So, what I'm trying to say is the dude was in action movies.

Legacy of Rage was Brandon Lee's only film shot in a foreign country by a foreign director.  It was Brandon's only Chinese film, and the only one that was filmed in the traditional Hong Kong format.  This format was popular with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee and it's formula is something like:  good guy is thoroughly good - all around morally good and has everything going for him.  Good guy gets mixed up with bad gang.  Bad gang hurts him or his family, closes his restaurant, whatever the case may be.  Despite not wanting to hurt anyone, good guy breaks down and commits the crime of seeking revenge.  In the end good guy defeats everyone but is now broken because he hurt people.  Sometimes he'll be ok, but sometimes he takes a vow to become a monk, get's arrested, or other endings like that.  Also, one weird minor other thing:  actors are usually playing themselves, or at lease someone with the same name.

The story this time is that Brandon Lee, playing a guy named Brandon, is implicated in the death of a drug dealer.  Really it was Brandon's friend Michael (played by Michael Wong) who killed the drug dealer, and he implicates Brandon cause he wants to get with Brandon's fiancee.  Brandon gets sent to jail for 8 years for the murder, still unaware he's been framed by Michael.  Michael doesn't hook up with the girl, as she moves to Brazil with some weird old guy that likes her.  Brandon gets out of jail and learns that Michael set him up, so now it's two former best friends, and Brandon wants revenge...

It all culminates in some fights and some minor twists but in the end it's just sort of your average whatever film.  Nothing to look up time and time again, it's very formulaic.  I'll give it two stars, mostly for Brandon Lee.