Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Assassin - 1986

Terminator came out in 1984, and ignited the genre of robots killing people, which was something that sold like hot cakes for a little while there.  Do hot cakes actually sell well?  I guess they apparently do, though I'm an waffle guy myself.  So, Terminator.  Another word for Terminator might be, oh I dunno....Killer?  Oh I know, Assassin!  Yes, what I'm getting at is that this is another rip-off of Terminator.  A made for TV rip off.

Robert Conrad stars as retired secret agent Henry Stanton, who is of course going to come out of retirement for one last mission in Assassin.  Sandor Stern, director of legendary made for TV Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (obviously I'm kidding about the legendary status of that) directs this low-fi, pretty cheap rethought of Terminator.  

I just looked at the "also known as" section there on IMDB, and I do have to love some of these:
Brazil: RobĂ´ Assassino
Denmark: RoboKill
Poland: Golem
West Germany: Special Terminator CIA
Okay, Robokill and Robot Assassin make sense, sure.  Golem...well, it is the name of one fairly minor character, but I guess, yeah okay why not.  Then, Special Terminator CIA?  Wha? Sorry, but why "Special" Terminator?  Does he need those special education classes?  And is that title in the correct order?  Shouldn't it be "Special CIA Terminator" or "CIA's Special Terminator"?  Hell, I don't even know anymore.

This is going back to the Sci Fi Invasion boxset.  I don't normally just dial up made for TV copycats of Terminator to watch around Christmas time.  But this year I decided to forgo the holiday themed horror movies, and watch this instead.  

This movie wasn't especially bad.  It takes the Terminator idea and approaches it more from a cop drama angle.  Not that it's especially a drama, it's just that this is not an action adventure like Terminator.  Obviously, this one has far less effects as well, as well as a change in pacing. In Assassin, a robot created from the government gets loose and starts to kill people.  There is a list of people that the government knows about, which the robot is following, so they know where it will strike next.  They recruit our retiree agent Henry Stanton, and he helps them out to try and get the robot before it can kill everyone.

There's a twist or two on the way, but in general this movie plays about how you'd expect.  It's okay, in other words.  It's not gonna redefine movies or anything, but if it was 1986 and nothing else was on TV, I would probably have watched it.  It amps up he dialogue rather than the action, and it requires a bit more from you as the audience than the classic with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  But hey, you know, it is what it is?

It did make me wonder if you took more sci fi movies, and translated them into human stories.  Take for example, Alien or something.  Now, change everything that makes it a science fiction horror movie, and ground it in reality.  You could still make the movie, but the alien would be like a psychotic killer, and it would have to take place somewhere cool and creepy like an abandoned warehouse.  That movie sounds pretty dope actually.

I give it a very average 3 stars, in the end.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Crater Lake Monster - 1977

This movie was an interesting one.  I'll admit to you, my reader, that I might have started a few of these movies and turned them off, only to forget about them and then later start something else, and never get back to these.  So the first half of Crater Lake felt really familiar, and I kept having deja vu.  I was not, and am not still, sure if I'd seen the movie already, or if I was simply getting it confused with the countless other science fiction monster movies I've seen.

Filmed in Lake Tahoe and surrounding area, Crater Lake is the epitome of 70's schlocky fun and silliness.  This movie drinks in the fact it's late 70's and uses it's stereotype characters to full effect.  To say that this is comedy is a must.  This movie had to have comedy on it's mind when being made, whether with the awful real jokes that are present, or with the inevitable way that it would age after it was made.

This movie brought a few interesting moments to me, as I watched it last night quite high and a little bit drunk.  First of all, whatever happened to facial hair?  I'm not saying people don't have beards these days.  I'm just saying, like all the styles these days are really conservative and minimal.  The only people that step outside the lines and have more hair are like the "counter-culture" statement makers who do it for dramatic effect.

Now, I basically live in San Francisco, and I am almost certainly jaded by the people I am around.  But then again, it's also not in movies anymore.  In one scene of this flick, 4 men are standing around.  One's got the sideburns and 70's mustache displayed, and looks like a goddamn walrus.  One has the giant beard, like a solid year or more of growth.  One has a minimal lip-stache, the kind you might see today.  Only one was clean shaven.  Here in San Francisco, there's the eternal-stubble, a look I despise, and then there's clean shaven.  That's like, it.  Unless you're some old guy or a "counter culture" type, there is like zilch else out there.

Anyhow, Crater Lake gets hit by a meteorite in the beginning of this movie, raising it's temperature.  Shortly thereafter, a few people start disappearing along with the local fish population.  Sheriff Steve Hanson is on the scene, flaunting his 70's 'stache and trying to figure out what's going on.  But seriously!  Whatever happened to 70's 'staches?  Did people finally realize how they looked, and if that's the answer, why did they become popular in the first place?

When we finally see the monster, pretty early on actually, it's straight up hilarious.  A Ray Harryhausen looking, very dated looking monster made out of claymation.  Now, I love practical effects, but geez, these are pretty bad.  However, they do make the comedy factor more prevalent, even if it's not on purpose.  Now, often these old movies would shoot day for night.  Film in the day, and later apply a series of tints to the films, to make it look as if it was darker when they shot.  This film shot day for night, and simply never tinted the film.  So there are also a few "night scenes" that take place with a really bright sun out there.  Pretty awesome.

The movie was a huge success, making back 30 times it's budget.  It got pretty bad reviews too, and then it seems to have vanished from the public eye.  I guess it's public domain now that it's on the boxset.  It's a good film.  It's very well shot, and the actors are fun to watch even if they are badly scripted at times.  The pacing is adequate, and the setting is of course really nice.  It's a movie that some could complain endlessly about, of course, but then again they can go fuck themselves.  I give it a proud 4 stars.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Outing - 1987

Also known as The Lamp, this movie reminded me a lot of The Chill Factor, which I saw a long time ago.  It's interesting it reminded me of that, cause they essentially have nothing in common.  I mean, I guess they're both horror movies that were independently made and produced.  They also both involve people who at one point or another get possessed by a demon.  But I did like The Chill Factor, and I also did like this movie, The Outing.

The Outing is a genuine 80's flick, and I watched it in next-to-worst quality on YouTube just now.  Watching this took me back to when I was getting a bigger kick out of watching these types of things for the first time, and it really made me revisit my opinion that the 80's were simply the best decade for horror, hands down.  I think it was a mix of stepping over the line in terms of body count, yet keeping the films minimal in scope, and the zany electronic music and shitty effects really appeal to the kid in us that squeals when we see a puppet, or a string on an actor.

The Outing aka The Lamp is the usual twist on an old favorite.  We all know the story of the good genie coming out of the lamp and granting three wishes.  This time the genie comes out of the lamp and kills everyone in sight.  A group of house robbers rob an old woman, and find the lamp.  They release the genie inside, and it quickly takes over the body of the old woman and kills everyone.  Soon, the lamp is in the hands of a single dad and his daughter, because he works in a museum and the lamp is from 3500 BC.

The girl and her friends are thinking about staying overnight in the museum, just for kicks, you know?  The genie is released, and takes over the body of main girl Alex.  Evil Alex then gets the plans together to get all the friends to follow through on the plan of staying at the museum where the lamp is.  They stay, the genie starts knocking people off, and also a couple of local bullies have sneaked into the museum to inflict their own torture on the group of good guys.

This movie was really a lot of fun.  I'm trying to quantify why, and there's the usual reasons.  Number one, pacing.  Like 10 people die in this, spaced apart enough to keep you watching.  Minimal approach, not too much dialogue, but enough character development to where these aren't just "Character A and B" you're watching on the screen.  They actually take the time to make the main girl and her dad likable.  The bullies are the weakest, as they seem TOO evil, but when that's the biggest gripe, whatever.

The group of good guys are three sets of couples.  They're not given tons of development beyond Alex and her boyfriend, but the other couples are some easy cannon fodder, and they also give us a little bit of nudity.  The bullies are given time to be evil, but like I said their motivation is thin, and they leap from minor assholes to actually trying to kill someone and then raping a girl.  That escalated quickly.

The poster was funny too, I like it cause it has almost nothing at all to do with the movie:
Why are the characters drawings also?  That's such a 80's thing.  Why not just have pictures of them?  It's so cool though, I love that someone actually spent time making this poster.  I also love the swamp there.  I don't know if you'll be "surprised" but I don't think there's a single swamp in the entire movie.

In all, this is a good science fiction horror fantasy film, it's got plenty of bodies and practical effects, it's got plenty of laughable mistakes and clothes, and it would be a fantastic entry level non-known 80's horror.  It's got slasher elements and follows those rules too, which always counts for something.  I give it 4 stars.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Galaxina - 1980

If I had to describe Galaxina in just a short wrap-up, with no review present, I'd simply say: "A waste of money and time, one star" and be done with it.  I don't have to do that, but I do feel like keeping this one pretty short and sweet.

Galaxina was an early spoof of Star Wars, and indeed sci-fi in general.  Star Trek, Alien, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, yes those films and more have been spoofed to a greater or lesser degree by Galaxina.  No, of course Galaxina did not do it well, were you actually asking that?  Yeah, I'm tellin ya man, those movies can be riffed, but this is not the film to do it.

We join the space ship Infinity as it cruises through the galaxy.  The captain is Cornelius Butt.  Yep, this is the kind of "comedy" they can come up with in this one.  Get it?  His name is Corn Butt.  Like as in, Corn Butt...do you get it?  This is what passes for comedy as ol Corn Butt and his small crew go through the galaxy.  They fly with an old Chinese man who spouts off fortune cookie "Confucius Say" type of stereotypical things, a cigar smoking beefy dude, a black guy alien with wings, and a redneck character that never does anything much.

The plot is that they are looking for the Blue Star, which is some mega-powerful jewel.  In the meantime semi-main character Thor and Galaxina are falling in love, the side characters are being annoying or are barely there, and various sci-fi things are riffed on with a very low percentage of being riffed very well.

This falls into the same category of my last review, Morons from Outer Space.  See, I jumped across to America, and this one is getting slammed as well.  I don't discriminate!  I also started this one at least twice, turning it off each time.  I finally put it on last night, and watched the whole fucking thing.

This movie is named Galaxina, is known for starring a Playboy playmate, but there is no nudity from her, and her character is basically third or maybe even fourth fiddle in the plot lines.  Her story basically has no real interest, as we can see it coming, and about 45 minutes in it stops being front and center.  The Blue Star and the ridiculous shit surrounding it is really the plot, and it's okay.

To get to the money wasting part, this movie obviously had a budget.  Sure,  not a huge one, but this movie does look quite good in a lot of scenes.  The outer space scenes are done for a laugh but they still look quite good.  Also, the general production value and the look of the flick is good.  Those things should be given as props.  Which help the rating stagger up to an entire star.
Here's a quick preview of not-the-reason-this-was-rated-R.  Seriously why hire a playmate if she stays in clothes?

Morons from Outer Space - 1985

Sci Fi boxset, you let me down.  You let me down twice.  See the upcoming review of Galaxina. Morons from Outer Space was just about the lamest thing I could've imagined, and I'm a pretty imaginative person.  This is a British "comedy" about aliens that come to Earth and the fallout thereafter.

I guess British style humor is hit and miss for a lot of people.  People can laugh out loud at a series like The Office (the original one of course), which has no "punch lines" but rather just awkward people acting awkwardly.  Then you have something like Monty Python, going into serious reaches to be absurd and ridiculous, and that's funny too.  I myself like Monty Python, I like Ali G, and I don't particularly like Red Dwarf.  I liked Death at a Funeral, and I didn't like Bean.  I could go on with examples but I won't.

I couldn't really tell why Morons would've been funny.  Okay, the idea is good and it makes fun of the premise of a lot of other science fiction movie canon.  Aliens land on Earth.  They looks pretty much exactly like humans.  Despite the fact they don't have any special powers or abilities, they are immediately treated like celebrities.  I did like that they were mocking the celebrity obsessed culture that loves these people regardless of their actual abilities.

Three of the aliens are being thrown into the lime light, while a fourth alien that got separated has to work his way alone through England.  I guess the jokes come from the difficult situations that the fourth alien, Bernard, experiences in England, such as being committed to a mental hospital.

The movie was graciously short, an hour and twenty minutes long, but nothing really happened in it.  If your 80 minute movie feels like it's overly long, you might've done something wrong.  Still, it was decently budgeted, so the looks are there.  The premise is sound and it's easy to follow.  But the jokes aren't really there, and the movie just tends to be one you stare at blankly while wondering how much of it is left.  I started this about 5 times, never getting far.  I finally watched it all last night, and I don't feel any more like I enjoyed it than all those times I turned it off.

One star is too many, so half a star.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Fiend - 1980

Fiend is traveling back to the known and loved director Don Dohler of The Galaxy Invader, Nightbeast, and The Alien Factor fame.  I'm on my fourth helping of Dohler sci fi, and I will be coming back for more in the way of Blood Massacre and Alien Factor II.  Check out his IMDb page here.  Dohler is definitely not a household name, but I do wonder about what his notoriety in Maryland back in the 80's.  I wonder if people knew about him there, he might've been a local celebrity or something for all I know.

Backwoods creativity is Dohler's trademark.  It's this type of thinking that I do love, the minimalism and the direct approach.  Having next to no budget and not a lot of real actors didn't stop Dohler from directing his films, he plodded on and made 'em anyways, and you can see the love here.  You know by watching these that these were made by someone who loved the idea, who was committed to the film, and who wasn't in it for any reason other than pure love.  That's pretty cool I think.

I guess I've always appreciated the DIY approach, and that's why I can see a 50's movie that a lot of people might hate, and I rate it highly.  Again, this movie has no conventional attraction.  If your favorite movie is The Lord of the Rings, if you love modern summer blockbusters, you probably will not get one stitch of entertainment out of this one.  I'm not saying I have a better taste than other people here, I'm just stating that the tempo and the type of movie this is isn't gonna appeal to everyone.

Fiend is a lot slower than most of the Dohler films I've seen.  It's a murder mystery with a sci fi twist, and the kind of "murder mystery" where we the audience know whodunnit but the movie character don't.  Suffice to say that the movie was decent, and I think it was paced well enough.  It was the weakest link in the chain of Dohler films I've seen thus so far, which I will definitely attribute to the change in pacing.

In the beginning, which I loved, a weird orange alien being flies into a graveyard and raises a mustachioed dude from the grave.  He kills a nearby girl, and we see that it revitalizes him, makes him heal.  He also glows orange while doing this.  So basically, he kills people = he stays alive.

Then comes the biggest problem with the movie and a major plothole.  The character raised from the grave, Mr. Longfellow, is next seen living in a neighborhood with his own music academy, employees, and piano lessons, and all.  So exactly how much time has passed here?!  He gets a house, his own business, he makes anough money to live alone, he has a very successful business all in what, a few days?  Keep in mind from what we see, it looks like he has to kill someone every single day just to stay alive himself.  And it's pretty much only women that he can get energy from.  So where are the 300 or so women that he had to off in order to establish himself in this situation?

Well as it turns out, the bodies of a few local women do turn up, and Longfellow's neighbors Gary and Marsha Kender are freaked out.  Gary begins to quietly suspect Longfellow when a dead girl turns up right behind his house.  Also, Gary goes to an occult bookstore and picks up a book on witchcraft, which he reads and discovers the entry on fiends, which sound a lot like Longfellow's traits.  It also points him towards a recently deceased music teacher a few towns over who might have something in common with Longfellow.

Eh.  It was ok.  Like I said, a lot slower, and it's not the first Dohler film I'd show to anyone.  It isn't enough blood, effects, or interest to keep the casual viewer interested.  It's for completionists only.  The beginning is good, the actors are good, even the music is fine, it's just the mystery never exists, so mostly it's watching very badly written Gary Kender trying to put together the pieces about Longfellow, who constantly drinks wine and sits around looking wannabe scary.

I'll give in 2 stars for trying.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Devil Sorcery - 1988

This belongs next to the Mystics in Bali type of cult horror from the 80's which was made in Asia.  I haven't reviewed that one on here, I think I watched it shortly before I began this blog.  I found it to be highly entertaining though also highly confusing.  In short Mystics in Bali is about a woman who is seeking out a witch in Indonesia, and who gets wrapped up in her spells.  This one is clearly based on similar myths of the witch, which all revolve around what's known as Penanggalan: a flying head with it's internal organs hanging from the neck.

Devil Sorcery is Chinese, and was quite entertaining to cut to the chase.  Mystics in Bali got me lost and confused, from my memory.  I could and should probably watch it again, but short of that my memory of it is that I kinda stopped paying attention around 45 minutes in, because it was just too much WTF.  Devil Sorcery was way more linear, more straight forward in approach.

In Devil Sorcery, which I should say is itself not entirely that linear, a master witch is killed by his understudy Tung.  Tung inherits the witch's power, but he does not intend to use the powers for good.  Tung raises two of the Penanggalan, heads that do his bidding, and Tung also puts a spell on local women, cause he's cool like that.

The witch spells are easily the highlight of the film, which is good cause it's also the majority of the film.  Several girls immediately begin to go missing.  Tung has a couple different powers to kill the girls.  He can burst flames out from candles, he has the two floating heads, and he has vague "other powers" and in short....yeah the movie doesn't really show how he does any of this.  It's all implied.

You know, it's been a while since I saw it, but it was entertaining.  It has an other-worldly quality to it and the characters are likable.  Main character and evil baddy Tung is a great character and has plenty of time on the screen.  He is allowed to be funny, silly, boy-like, angry, and lustful all at the same time, and makes for an enjoyable watching experience.  To cut this short, I give it 3.5.  Plus, the subtitles ranged from fine to laugh out loud.  Here's a good one below:

Arachnid - 2001

What are SyFy original movies if not the old black and white B movies like Ed Wood, et all?  These are the modern version of that.  Of course now we don't have B movies.  "B movie" famously refers to when movies would play double features.  There was the one that people wanted to see, and the one that was tacked on that people essentially got for free.  The second features were the "B" movies meaning they came after the "A" movies.  Once this was no longer common occurrence, the phrase stuck around and now we apply it to a whole lotta stuff.  Its a badge of pride, like so much else, and it's a whole niche, genre, and more.

The essence of these movies is that they're bad.  Yes, you can in fact pride yourself on being bad.  If only that worked in the workplace?  Anyways, these movies tell us that they might not have what you want.... they don't have the actors, the effects, the reasoning and the motive, they do have some action, and they might have some entertainment value though.  But they tell us, straight forward, that they're second rate.  Why is this?  Why is that we're not only allowed to put out second rate material, but we're proud of it?  Perhaps its the same reason McDonald's exists.  No one is going to "go to bat" for McDonald's and support it.  But yet, it's fuckin popular as ever in health conscious 2016.

Did I mention that I accurately guessed the year of this film?  This is the shit that passed for TV entertainment in 2001.  This is the type of movie that eventually begs you to look away from it.  I'm writing this review while I watch it (drunk).  It has no uplifting qualities and it exists only to fill 2 hours on a channel no one watches.  Did this movie break even?  Does this movie exist on DVD with special features?  Are people besides me watching this now in 2016 for the first time and reviewing it, and more importantly will they be reviewing in in 2031, 2067, and 2190?  At what point will this film never be seen again?  I always wonder these types of things.  Take a classic.  Godfather.  Alien.  When is the last time anyone will ever watch that?  It will happen.  Eventually.

What is the part of the human psyche that wants to turn it's mind off?  What's that all about?  We are gifted with an extraordinary thing, the mind, and yet we squander it on SyFy movies and reality TV?  How the fuck does that make sense.  I hate, out of general principal, 90% of the traits of humanity.  Why is it that humanity likes these completely meaningless and destructive things?  We value them?  I own a 50 movie Sci Fi Invasion boxset, and at the risk of fucking up my search for those keywords later, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?????

Why do I cherish absolute trash and then rate is 5 stars?  Am I, as a critic and a human, missing something?  Or is everyone else?  What is wrong with the species that is mankind that makes these things happen?

Arachnid is part of the problem vs. part of the solution.  I refer to my above paragraphs here.  It revels in its badness and says, hey, accept me.  Why?  Because it's aware it's bad?  Is that good?  Are we now accepting badness as long as someone is aware that it's bad?  But then again, are they aware?  Was Brian Yuizna, one of my favorites, aware of this movie's terrible attraction?  Also, what quantifies it's badness?

The effects are decent.  The location is cool.  The pacing is adequate.  Where this movie fails is the script, acting, cinematography, repetitive nature, and inherent inability to entertain.  And I swear to god if I hear the last name Mercer one more time I might kill someone.

Jungle.  Perpetual midday or night.  Group of rough and tumble GIs that are thrown in, and you struggle to remember their names as they struggle to remain alive.  There's giants spiders on the loose, see, and scientist whats-his-face is gonna figure them out just in time to save the only two characters that matter, while in the meantime the fat will be trimmed in the way of spiders biting people.  Yep, SyFy territory right here.

One thing I will give this, as I said before is that the effects are cool.  Yuzna had effects filled projects and frankly this does not fall short.  There is a particularly memorable dream sequence with the spiders and a girl's missing brother.

But who am I kidding.  This is not a review.  Introspection aside, this movie was chalk full of awful.  It was bland piled with a nut topping and a glass flavored sauce on top.  It was the video equivalent to a Tuesday where we go to work, nothing special happens but it's not the worst ever, and then you come home, eat leftovers for dinner, and go to bed early.  It was dull, and frankly un-challenging in any way.  I'm not taking a colossal dump on this film, I'm just saying that there is no reason for it to exist in the first place.  In an existence made up of artworks both gorgeous and overpowering, in a world where humankind has walked on the moon and can talk with the click of a button, there was never a need for Arachnid to exist.

I just came up with an awesome idea:  have Buzz Aldrin be part of a review show.  Cause you could literally have him judge movies based on his experience of walking on the moon.  "So Buzz Aldrin, how does Arachnid compare with walking on the moon?"  I can just see it now.  I feel like he'd give this no stars, but I'll give it one for decent effects.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Frankenstein Unbound - 1990

No updates for almost a month, and then a double whammy?  What the fuck kinda unprofessional blog is this?  Enough self indulgence.  This is the last movie directed by Roger Corman as of now, 2016, and he's 90 years old this year so we just might not get another if you get my drift.  So 4 years after I was born, Roger Corman directed his last movie, and it was a bizarre alternate story of Frankenstein.  A sci fi fantasy reworking of Frankenstein, and a movie which I can actually say was, if nothing else, pretty interesting.

This movie made me think a bit, mostly about the Frankenstein franchise, and also about one of my own ideas I have for a sequel to Predator.  I think it's interesting when people take classic storylines, and then they write about them and reinterpret them in a different vein.  Frankenstein, as we all know is the the classic monster come to life film, the book paints the monster in a sympathetic way.  Alone, abandoned, Frankenstein lashes out almost accidentally at first, and things go from there.  It's been a long time since I read the book.

In the movie, John Hurt travels back in time accidentally from the year 2036 to the 1800's when Mary Shelley wrote the book.  In the 1800's, John Hurt meets a scientist while he's trying to figure out where and when he is.  After an initial talk, he then asks the man's name.  The man replies, casually, Frankenstein.  Raul Julia, of Overdrawn at the Memory Bank fame, plays Frankenstein.  John Hurt follows Frankenstein after situating himself a bit, and soon enough runs into Frankenstein's monster.

I'm sitting here writing this, and I get to the end of that paragraph, and my mind goes.  "What happened after that....?"  Hm.  I watched this movie on Friday I guess, today is Monday, and yet I literally don't remember at all what happened in this movie.  To be honest, the plot is not really a strong point to this movie.  I know things happened, I just question how many of them were important, and how many of them were interesting.

I wanted to like this movie, and spoiler warning, I did like this movie, but it wasn't exactly that entertaining.  Primarily the idea is good.  A time traveler discovering that Frankenstein is real, and following him around, and witnessing all this.  Ah!  For some reason that made me remember.  Frankenstein wanted a mate, so a lot of the movie was the good doctor Franky going about to make the monster a bride.  He decided to bring back one of the girls he loved instead though.  Yeah.  Okay.

As a last feature, I guess it'll do.  It doesn't exactly feel "classic" in any way, and I think a completely average rating is coming up, but it was still a fun thing to watch.  It made me think about the Frankenstein franchise.  You know, there's a story that basically was a dud.  I mean sure it's classic, the movies are always remade, and there are plenty of sequels to the first set of movies.  But it's not exactly a goldmine and/or idea mine in terms or what else to do with the characters.  This is the only re-imaging reinterpretation I have seen that's kept anything original about the story and built on it. However, credit shouldn't go to Corman on that front and rather to the author of the book upon which this movie is based.

Like I said, it serves it's purpose, but I doubt this movie would ever be called a classic, and if it wasn't Corman's last movie, I doubt anyone would ever watch it again.

Don't Go in the House - 1979

I'm continuing my Don't.... marathon here, taking a long break from bloggin about movies, and also taking a long break from my sci fi boxset.  Why?  There a lots of reasons for it, a lot of answers to that question, but suffice to say that The Reason is because no one reads this, it doesn't matter, and it's just a thing I do to waste time.  Wow, that felt interesting to say/type.

Don't Go in the House is a Psycho meets Texas Chainsaw type of horror slasher, influenced by both those and Halloween, but still pretty ahead of it's time since it was yet another slasher flick before the prevalence and popularity in the 80's.  At this point I'm convinced the only reason that people make assumptions about a genre like slashers that was defined in the 80's is because those people don't do any fucking research.  They don't investigate, dig into the movies that were coming out before that, and they reach natural assumptions based on "what's popular".  Fuck people, man.

Psycho: a movie in which the main villain has a hotel that he lives at with his (spoilers) dead mother who he dresses up as and kills people.  Who hasn't seen Psycho?  Well, since people apparently don't do research any more, I'm going to guess "a lot of people".  Fuck people, man.

Don't Go in the House: a movie wherein the main villain has a house that he lives at with his (spoilers) dead mother who he keeps in the upstairs.  He abducts random girls from different situations, comes up with a reason to take them to his house, and proceeds to kill them.  The "hook" if you will of this movie, not unlike an overplayed radio song, is that the killer is wackier, nuttier, and more ridiculous that Psycho, and occasionally barbecues these girls to death with a flamethrower.  I think we literally see one flamethrower death, but that enough to justify this movie putting the word flamethrower on it, which was a major reason to see it for me besides the name.

Mr. Flame, as we'll call the villain, is very prevalent in this movie, and serves as the main character.  His rationale is that he was abandoned by his dad, his mom abused him, and he turned into a serial killer.  You know, I have to say that I liked that reasoning.  At least they explained it, and based on what I have read on Wikipedia (a lot) a lot of true to life serial killers have similar upbringings.  Seriously, abused kids often go into serial killing, it's like their number one job choice.  Some ambitious parent out there should run a scientific study with their own kids: hurt the hell out the him/her, rape them several times, and then see if they grow up to be one.  Then, get back to me about the results.

So I'm feeling a little bit hungover and tired and I'm also riding my initial caffeine wave, it's influencing this entry a lot as I'm sure you can guess.  I'm also relistening to Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, the overly dream pop-esque entry from M83.

Don't Go in the House does at least justify it's name, unlike that fucking Don't Look in the Basement bullshit.  That movie, by the way, had a recent sequel, which was way worst than the first one and also had one of the worst soundtracks I've ever heard.

This one was pretty good for what it was I guess, it didn't greatly impress me in any way, but the movie went by pretty quickly, especially nice cause it had so little happen in it. I guess I'll give it 3 stars.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Children - 1980

"Look at that hair"
"You look at that hair"
"I'm looking at the hair"
"Yeah I'm not looking at the hair"
"She got pretty hair"

Yes, inane dialogue like this can be yours if you watch this movie!  Actually, this movie was a blast.  I almost want to rewatch it again, because I didn't do it in one sitting (too hungover and distractable today) and this movie deserves a one sitting approach.  Pretty much everything deserves to be watched in one sitting, shitty or not, just my opinion.

The Children was super ahead of it's time.  In my ritual of trying to guess the year of the movie, I guessed 1983.  Now, granted I also guessed 1981 and was only off a year from that guess, this movie looks and feels like mid 80's rather than 80.  The thing that gives it away the most is the clothes, which are dated.

Filmed in almost a real time approach, The Children is your classic story of kids that get some sort of infection from toxic waste.  There is a leak at a plant from faulty maintenance, and the school bus holding kids drives through a cloud of toxic vapor.  Of course, that makes the kids turn into sadistic killers.  Also, they can kill people just by touching them.  The deaths are a radiation-looking effect, so I guess we'll assume that the kids are infected with radiation of a sort.

The movie was smart because it threw a bit of humor into the story line, like that quote that I opened with and more.  They seemingly knew that a movie with killer kids might not be super good, so they got a few jokes and general entertainment going on as well.  There is a random topless girl, but there is only one, so boo.  Also, the pacing is slightly on a slower note than usual, just mentioning that here btw.

One thing that I thought was clever is that they don't skimp on the small details with the script and characters.  The characters are all quite likable, whether its the young cop who just wants to make out with his girlfriend, the nice older cop, the pregnant woman and her husband, etc.  Every character has a little bit of depth to them, and all of them have their own "thing".  Also, you wouldn't expect a horror movie to be touching in any way, but with killer children that means these people are losing their kids.  It actually got really emotional a time or two, and it was refreshing and nice to have that be included.

The effects pretty much suck.  I mean, okay, I've seen worse, but it wasn't a highlight of the film.  They wisely chose not to dwell on the effects, but when you see em, this is a pretty good of example of the best makeup job in the flick:
Not too great.  But all in all, a good movie and I was surprised.  It's not like, amazing, but it was a good change, and I love movies that are linear, movies that are real time, and of course, zombie films.
I give it 3.5 stars

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Incubus - 1966

A change might have been coming, or not coming, to this blog.  Basically, I can't decide what's going to happen with it.  Suppose it doesn't matter since I honestly doubt anyone ever read it.  I'm slowing down again, and I also might stop at my 2 year mark.  No big depressing speeches, just sayin.

Incubus stars a pre-Star Trek William Shatner as an average good guy.  The story follows a succubus who is tired of seducing the villains, the flawed people, and the dredge of society.  She decides she wants to seduce a genuinely good guy, and she sets off to find one.  She happens upon Shatner, who's living with his sister.  Succubus enters the scene, tries to seduce Shatner, and he remains a good guy.  Convinced she can do it, she persists, and an incubus is raised in the meantime to seduce Shatner's sister.

Filmed in black and white, the cinematography is easily the best thing about this movie.  I knew, somehow, that the cinematographer had won an Oscar just by looking at this movie.  Sure enough, actually the dude has won 3 Oscars for cinematography!  So this movie is fuckin fantastic to look at. It has a style that's unique to itself, which brings us to the whole "language" thing.

Perhaps the best known piece of knowledge about this movie is that it was filmed in the language of Esperanto, with English subtitles.  Esperanto is a language that was created as an idea to bridge the European languages which are all similar but have their differences: English, Italian, French, Spanish, etc.  It remained alive for a little while, in fact there are probably some people still speaking it today, however it never really took off in any way and obviously we aren't speaking it today in good ol' USA.  The "reason" besides for art's sake was because Esperanto, although not widely spoken, is at least semi present throughout most of the world, thus some people would understand it and......yeah, you know what, it was done for art's sake.  Explanation over.

I can say it's easily one of Shatner's best.  Being not his own voice, inflections and language, we are forced to not take him as so "Shatner-esque" and that helps.  Also, I dunno if you know this, but he wasn't in a shitload of great movies.  Haha.  Amiright? My favorite movie of his would most likely be 1964's The Outrage, based on Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon.  But this is easily second place.

The plot is pretty cool and easy to follow, and the setting and the movie is all minimal.  It has those classic ingredients that a movie lover should love:  good camera woork, straight story, bizarre quality to it.  Somehow, though, I wasn't terribly impressed.  It is good, I just was perhaps not in the right mood for it. I dunno, you can crucify me later though if you want.
I'll give it 4 stars though, cause I know it's good, I just wasn't too sure 'bout it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Star Pilot - 1966

It seems like it's been a little bit since I reviewed something off the sci fi invasion boxset.  So I took in Star Pilot, at some point, and got about 45 minutes into it.  Then I went to watch the rest, and discovered I didn't know what was going on in the film.  So I rewound it (do you still call it rewinding it on a DVD?) still didn't know what was going on, and in the end I actually restarted the entire movie.

This is one of those, this is one of those movies where it's pretty unclear what the actual plot is.  It starts out pretty good too.  Some guys are digging, and they find a weird cave, and then a spaceship that's buried in this ancient cave.  Onboard the ship is Kaena, the vaguely evil alien, and her cohorts.  The scientists who find the thing somehow get some Asian men involved, and some of the aliens and humans start to fall in love or whatever, and it goes from there.  Eventually, we discover that maybe the scientists have something to hide.

I wasn't too sure what happened between finding the ship and the plot twist near the end.  It seems at some point, they take off from the planet, and are simply flying through space for no reason with no destination.  I will admit to being quite drunk during a lot of this movie.

The spoiler warning and odd ending was that near the end, the aliens are like, okay, let's go back to Earth.  They link up to the humans mind, and determine the humans are hiding something.  Find out pretty soon that the humans knew that the Earth was about to be destroyed by a series of vague montages.  It was this, and several set pieces and characters, and basically a lot of other stuff, that made me remember Doomsday Machine a lot.  This one and that are like, first cousins or something in terms of plot and feel.

This one was a lot more confusing, and I didn't exactly like it.  It felt like the kind of movie that was heavily edited down from something else, though apparently this was not the case.

One good thing about it, at one point my wife was like, "Their dubbing is off." and I said it was not originally in English.  She asked what language it was and where it was filmed.  Now, keep in mind I had no idea cause I hadn't checked, but I intuitively said "Italy".  Yep.  I was right, filmed in Italy in Italian.  It just had that "I was filmed in Italy" feel to it that I picked up on, apparently.  1.5 star.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Prey - 1977

Also known as Alien Prey, this movie was directed by one of my favorites from that other boxset I reviewed, Gorehouse Greats.  Terror was the name of that movie, and I loved it.  It had a fast pace, plenty of original kills, and a great soundtrack.  Directed by Norman J. Warren, I thought for sure that I'd uncovered a new cult director.  I was set back a bit when Satan's Slave disappointed me, but it changed in scope a lot and was a lot more of a stuffy classic British film than the sci-fi action of Terror.

This is one of about 5 sci fi and horror movies that Warren directed in his relatively small filmography.  He was a obscure director in his tenure, never quite made it big or anything.  Satan's Slave was probably his highest budget flick.  This one, Prey, was very low budget, and very minimal.

Prey is a simple story.  One night an alien ship lands, waking up Jessica from her sleep.  She tells her lover and roommate Jo, who doesn't really believe her.  Shortly after this, a stranger named Anderson shows up on their property while they were out for a walk.  Jessica quickly takes a liking to Anderson, and Jo immediately dislikes him.  Something seems very off about Anderson.  He exhibits a misunderstanding about common things, and doesn't communicate very well.

Jessica finds a reason to keep Anderson around for a while, to the dislike of Jo.  That is when things start dying.  First it's Jo's chickens, then a fox, then more.  In the meantime, Anderson won't eat any of their food, continues to act weird, and the relationship between Jo and Jessica becomes strained.

This movie was ahead of it's time in many ways.  First off all there are multiple extremely bizarre factors to it.  The minimalist and bizarre soundtrack was really cool.  The fact that it was two lesbian girls as the main characters was super ahead of it's time.  Then there's the really long, strange slow-mo scene of Anderson when he falls in a creek.  Strange music plays as he and the two girls flounder about in the water....  I liked that segment a lot.

There's a fair bit of nudity, one scene of lesbian sex, and sexuality in general is one of the focuses of this film.  The film takes a interesting perspective look on relationships, and it shows us a semi-abusive lesbian relationship, the interaction of a male alien with a female human, and in general three people who represent an unusual love triangle.

When it's time for Anderson to become an alien, the movie doesn't do so well.  He usually just has weird looking eyes, but sometimes it goes full makeup and he looks like a cat.  It doesn't do super awesome, but it does represent him as more of an animal.  And essentially that's what this movie is, it's a grown up story of Red Riding Hood, an animal that disguises itself as a human and infiltrates our security, is invited right into our homes where we're weakest.

It was weird, it was good, and the characters were likable.  It had a lot of different things it brought to the table, and for that alone I'd give it high marks.  I end with a good review of 3.5, and a decision to watch the rest of Norman J. Warren's films.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Heavy Metal - 1981

Here's a movie I totally fucking forgot about.  I saw this movie back when I was a young dude, shortly after I got introduced to adult-y animated things back in the late 90's.  You know you're cool if you can say "back in the 90's"  just, you know BTW.  FYI.  I ate a weed muffin this morning, so I'm a little impartial right not.

Heavy Metal is an oddball out there.  Every once in a while I'll see a movie like this and I'll wonder, how did they make this in the time frame they did? 1981, it seems like that was not especially a time for adult animated films.  Okay, so there'd been some before, and Ralph Bakshi was at this point "on the map" with his R rated animated films.  But I still am surprised when I see that this is 1981.  It feels way too progressive and crazy for that time.

This was an obvious precursor to the MTV generation, the Beavis and Butthead culture of the 90's.  Heavy Metal feels way more like a product of the 90's counter-culture destruction people saw as Generation Y.  Heavy Metal was clearly one of those films that is actually really progressive and defining, and I didn't realize that when I was a kid.  Watching it again was a pretty eye opening experience.

I haven't reviewed any animated films on this blog yet, and that's cause they are pretty few and far between to find ones that aren't hugely well known.  Of course, Heavy Metal is hugely well known.  The film is a cult classic, an adult animated but super fun action packed comedy with both offensive and childish humor.  It's the type of film they don't make anymore, something that's rated R but still appeals to kids, like how they used to make R rated movie toys for kids.

The movie itself is a series of short subjects.  They more or less revolve around a glowing green ball which has the power to vaporize people who touch it.  Sometimes, though, the ball will instead influence a person directly or indirectly, and give them power.  8 different stories are presented, in different lengths in the film.  I'm not really going to do a complete breakdown at all, but generally some are pretty cool, and some are just small ideas that don't seem to be much of anything.

There's not a too lot of other things like this, and given that it's hard to market an adult oriented animated film, I'm not that surprised.  However, there should be more of these.  They're really cool, and so interesting to watch.  They're definitely more for younger adults than me, this is perfect for the time when I originally saw it, 16 or so.  But at that age you get lost in the killer soundtrack, animated violence and nudity, you don't really pay attention to the plots  (or I at least didn't).

It seems it should have a bigger following these days, but then again there's far too many other things for this to be like, shown at the local indie theater and all.  But it's great and deserves 4 stars.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Virus - 1999

I called the first death in 1999's Virus.  I love movies like this.  This is the kind of movie where based on dialogue, and how much screen time a character gets, you can tell who will die, which parts are important, etc.  I called the guy that was gonna die because he was alone, his screen time was minimal, and if he died it was gonna take a while for anyone to notice.

Why doesn't the bad guy ever kill anyone important first?  Of course, you have movies where the heroes die and movie like Executive Decision that kill a known actor, but why don't movies have like, the airplane pilot die first?  You know, they do these things out of convenience.  Of course the fucking cook dies first.  It's a horror movie, you don't need a cook/hot dumb blonde/guy who's a druggie.  You do need the strong virgin, the airline pilot, and the older dude who will eventually die (but not till later).

I also love how often charaters in movies like this stay in a location because "(X Character) is still in there".  It's the "what about (Y Character)?"  and basically just throw a random name into the blank there.  Some dude/some chick dies and the group doesn't know it, so they don't leave and they don't take action because they don't know where that person is.  How many times can we possibly see this?  Now, I'm not calling it unrealistic.  I'm just saying that it ALWAYS fucking happens.  Case in point here.

I also love how robots can usually be killed by shooting them in the head.  Now, you know what, I'll fucking be the first to say that humans have a huge weakness in the head.  Cut off one very obvious part, the entire thing dies.  Why would a robot follow that design?  Plus, since it obviously doesn't need a body full of organs and lungs and shit, couldn't it distribute the head parts in the body, or make backups, or whatever?  I have seen so many movies wherein the robot dies via a head destroyed.

Also, I love dialogue that's so threadbare that you know when they say something that it was written specifically for us as the audience.  Like when in this movie, they say, "oh look, incendiary grenades" it's so glaringly obvious that those grenades are gonna come back later.  Again, not calling it bad.  It'd be worse if randomly like 55 minutes in they found the grenades exactly when they needed them.  We'd call that stupid.  But I just love noticing that.  You insert one line of dialogue somewhere, and then you can get away with anything!  Remember that 3 second scene 38 minutes ago where they found the grenades?  Well shit, let's get those grenades back!!!

I've gotten to this point and I barely even feel like putting a plot summary here, so here's like 2 sentences.  Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland star in this movie where they find an abandoned Russian ship in the ocean and decide to board it and salvage it cause they think they'll be paid.  Onboard, they discover the ship's empty, and then phantom things start happening, and oh shit it turns out a bunch of machines are alive and starting to kill all the humans.

The effects and the pacing of this were pretty good.  Scratch that.  Effects were fucking awesome, pacing was okay.  They obviously had a good team to assemble the machines, and that's great cause it's the crux of the plot.  I don't care how bad your movie is, it can't be too terrible when your villain looks this fuckin cool:
But other than this, it's pretty low-rent average sci fi action, with not a lot to say that's unique...but then again, it doesn't have to be.  This isn't like, gonna be anyone's favorite film, but hey for what it is, it works.  I give it a solid 3 star rating.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pigs - 1972

I just finished the movie Pigs from 1972.  This is gonna be a real short review.

Ultimately, this movie was watchable, but not something I'm gonna think about for more than a day(ish) or dwell on.  This was another semi-bottom-of-the-barrel Troma distributed cannon fodder thriller/horror film.  I read online that director Marc Lawrence put a mortgage on his house to get this movie made, as it ran out of money.  I have to wonder if this made enough back to justify that.

Mr. Zambrini is a restaurant owner that lives there also, and has a bunch of pigs out back.  His voice-over at one point tells us that the pigs accidentally tasted human flesh at one point, and now they crave it and won't eat anything else.  Since Zambrimi depends on the pigs, he keeps finding people to kill and feed to his pigs.  It's an excuse to have pigs eating people, basically.

Zambrini runs into homicidal girl-on-the-run Lynn Webster.  We gather that whenever the weird "Daddy's little girl" song plays she slips into some sort of homicidal alternate persona, and she kills someone pretty soon, which Zambrini sees and kinda realizes they're two of the same.  Zambrini and Lynn dodge the persistent questions by the police as well as Lynn's shady past.  Meanwhile, a couple pesky neighbor ladies sense something is wrong.

It's okay, it's not as unprofessionally done as you might imagine.  The characters are likable and they do an adequate job keeping the pace going.  There was no real nudity, killing scenes, hell there might not have even been any bad language, which might make this like, a hard PG rating in all honesty.  It played out like any 70's movie that was low budget, essentially.  Not a lot to write about here.  The pigs don't really get much screen time, so most of the movie is eccentric Zambrini and Lynn, just, you know, doing whatever.

I'll give it 2 stars.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Demons 5: The Devil's Veil - 1989

I will eventually finish off this series of films, I swear to you!  I'm not like, surprised I haven't finished it yet or anything.  The series is, to put it bluntly, not really that great, and kind of annoying even at times.  That description actually fits this entry of it perfectly.  It's not super great, but still mildly entertaining.

Released as La Maschera del Demonio (The Mask of the Demon) and directed by Lamberto Bava, it's clear to see how this got linked with the Demons series.  It's the same director and even has the word demon in the title.  It's not as far a stretch as The Ogre, The Black Cat, or The Sect.  Speaking of The Sect, holy shit it's been over a year since I saw any inclusion of this series.  That's crazy man.  I seriously thought I'd watched one of them this year.

This entry starts out pretty well.  You have a group of friends skiing somewhere in the mountains, and there's an earthquake which opens a pit in the snow.  All the friends accidentally fall in there, where they're trapped and hot chick Sabina hurts her knee.  Distracted by trying to escape, they barely even notice the weird block of ice that looks like it has something trapped in it.  They bust it open, find a mask attached to a body, swipe the mask, and that's when shit gets wacky.  They discover an underground church, find a old blind priest, and uncover something about a witch. David is the one that grabbed the mask, and soon it seems he and Sabina are the only normal ones as their friends start to turn evil.

There is an adequate pace, and for the first 45 minutes I was genuinely thinking this one was pretty good.  It's not like it loses it's steam, it's just that it starts to get really repetitive, and it feels like the script took a major nosedive in the second half.  David and Sabina are two of the most annoyingly written characters.  It's so painfully obvious Sabina is evil, and yet David doesn't see it, and in the meantime he's given nothing worthwhile to do.  Also the evil friends never go full evil, they're dabbling around mildly evil, but not bad enough to warrant them being threats of any real kind.  It gets old, and starts to feel really worn through.

However, production value and even acting were decent.  It's the script, the idea, that gets old.  It feels like they're stalling for time, really.  Once we know/think Sabina is going to be evil too, it takes about 40 minutes for that to happen.  The priest character disappears, people keep turning from evil to good, and people keep having illusions.  After a while, it's hard to keep track of what's actually happening with the plot given all these things, and at some point you will decide you don't care, guaranteed.

As a movie it's okay.  Plenty of nudity including some kinky shit, and plenty of practical effects.  However, it's not that great and you may find yourself wondering what's going on like I did.  Some plot points seem promising and simply never go anywhere.  At one point, the priest has two of the people trapped in these wood stirrups, he's stuffing snow in their mouths while praying...I would've loved to see that scene go somewhere.  It never does.  Like many things, eventually it stops being shown and we're left to assume the guys escaped?

I give it 2.5 stars for being watchable, but not in a "fun" way.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - 1998

This is going to live on as the most rare entry into this blog.  I am gonna guarantee that now, although it's possible it could be matched in all realistic notions.  The reasoning is this:  as of Tuesday last week or so, I finished the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, and then on Sunday (yesterday) I watched the movie.  So this is one where the book was fresh in my mind and then I immediately watched the movie.

Now, technically, I also did this with Apocalypse Now, however I read the book after watching it, and I of course didn't review that movie for this blog.

The book should get a one paragraph detailing here first.  Written as both a celebration of and look back on the death of the dream of the 60's, Hunter S. Thompson spins a story of two out of place druggies binge-ing it up and stumbling through Las Vegas.  It's sentimental, hilarious, thought-provoking, and altogether too rare in it's form as both a criticism and an adoring love-letter to the simpler times, to politics, and the entire American system.  Thompson doesn't come off as someone who loves or hates, simply someone who observes, who sees the trends.  Although he'd be classified as part of the revolution, he more sounds like someone riding the wave, instead of someone who helped to make the wave.  It's surprisingly beautiful, and at times makes one wish they'd gone through his life experiences.

The movie is a tad "harsher" for lack of a better word.  It's interesting, and there's only a few examples of exactly how this is the case.  First of all, the Samoan attorney who has no name in the book, and in the movie is called Dr. Gonzo, seems a lot less dangerous in the book.  Okay, maybe not a "lot less" dangerous, but more of a lovable character.  The person in the movie would not only be a legit jailed criminal, but someone that no one would ever want to be around.  Could be the real guy the character was based on was more like the movie, I have no idea.  But I just really liked his character in the book and not so much in the movie.

Raoul Duke, the main character of both the book and the movie, is an almost mimic of how he was written to how he is performed.  That's one thing that stands out.  Johnny Depp pulled that role off, and I'd be hard pressed to wonder if this is his best performance.  Sometimes both him and Dr. Gonzo come off like too much, and I wonder if they are overacting, but one thing is that this is a Terry Gilliam film, and it's supposed to be overdone.

While I'm on that topic. I think the whole book versus movie argument is pretty stupid.  One can admire the wording, the flow of sentences and the brilliance of a mind while reading a book.  In a movie, even one like this with a narration, there is just no opportunity to do so.  Instead, one has in trade the ability to admire production value, cinematography, score, and acting.  It's not anywhere near an "even trade" and sometimes the movie / the book will of course be "better".  I'm not starting this paragraph to tell you which I think is better, I'm trying to explain why I don't think in those terms.

The movie is astonishingly well shot, and the sets and production value is sky high.  When watching Gilliam films, the details are a movie buffs dessert.  His films look fucking fantastic.  Highly detailed set pieces, obvious attention to detail, Gilliam and Baz Luhrmann are two directors who are known for fantastic production value.  The cinematography is also top notch.  Acting is good, as already stated, with a lot of well known people in minor roles.

I think the only thing that makes the book "better" in my opinion is it's stark contrast of setting Duke and the Attorney apart from everyone else.  In the movie, there is a perpetual oddness to a lot of the side characters as well.  They say things, do things, they look weird, etc.  You could say it's part of the drug visions the characters experience, but it makes them seem a little "less weird" than they do in the book.  So yeah.  I dunno about that.

Another good thing bout the movie.  I'd say it's aged extremely well.  It is supposed to take place in 1971, and it looks the part.  Thus there aren't a lot of aging factors to it, especially since star Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro aren't looking "their best".  Depp went full male pattern baldness for his character, while Del Toro gained 40 pounds.  Thus, it does not look 1998.  It looks great still, not almost 20 years old.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Street Trash - 1987

Not my usual foray, I decided to get into the stuff that's been sitting on my watch list for who knows how long.  I got exposed to this film from some online review of it.  Through clever editing and talking the film up they made it looks like a regular effects-packed 80's romp through low budget trash, and naturally I then added it to the queue.

I'm not gonna take a shit on this movie like that made it sound, this movie was fun.  But it is also overly long, which killed a little bit of the momentum and fun.  Maybe I watched the directors extended cut or something though cause IMDB says 91 minutes, but what I watched was almost two hours.  Anyways, some of the minor character stuff that wasn't great or some of the small plot parts could've been cut (and probably was) to make this a bit more fast paced, but I won't sweat the small stuff.

This is an entry into the wonderful genre of body horror.  Body horror is when dis-figuration comes through in the film, oftentimes leading to death, though not always.  The plot is based around some low-class booze that some store owner finds and decides to sell for $1 a bottle.  No information is uncovered about this booze, called Viper.  Viper causes immediate death though, and in grotesque body destroying ways.

Usually the people who drink Viper start to melt...Their fingers and toes rotting away in yellow or purple puss, their torso collapsing, etc.  It's all done with overblown but truly awesome looking effects, and one almost wishes there was more death in this simply because they did such a great job with it all.

To  further embrace their body horror, the movie also decided to dial everything else to 11.  The language, the characters, the dirt and slime on everything, the nudity, it's all there.  In a modern version of this, they'd probably do a bit more nudity and ridiculous racism and CGI, but this was the 80's when shit was still balanced and the plot was actually given time.  Not only the plot, but characters are given plenty of time in this one, and that's awesome.

Main character Fred is a likable hobo.  He just wants to drink, hang out, bum food and money from people, and get his rocks off like any bro.  He navigates the dangerous jungle of the other hobos, corrupt cops, shop vendors with a sadistic streak to them, and horny but dangerous girls who you might not wanna get on the bad side of.  There's also an evil hobo whose name I don't remember, and there's a whole supporting cast that are more than just some guys you see once or twice.

I liked it, and I think repeat viewings is perhaps necessary for a film like this.  This is one to remember, to show others and then you can notice the smaller stuff that maybe passed over your head the first time.  For that, 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Homicidal - 1961

William Castle was a producer and a director much known for gimmicks being involved in his A, B and Z level horror films he put out. Some of these movies are pretty well known, such as House on Haunted Hill which had the gimmick of a skeleton with red lighted eye sockets which was attached to a wire, and floated over the audience in the final moments of some showings of the film, to parallel the action on screen when a skeleton rises from a vat of acid.

Homicidal is a pretty obvious Psycho ripoff, it being a horror murder mystery.  In the beginning, we see a mystery woman ask a man to marry her.  She offers him a few thousand dollars for about 15 minutes of work.  Then, after the short marriage session, she randomly pulls out a knife and stabs the minister like 8 times.  She bolts, trades cars, and is soon back at her home.  Home it seems is a caregiver job to an elderly woman who can't communicate besides knocking on wood.  

We soon learn that our main character Emily has some sort of evil plot in mind.  She mentions wanting revenge to the old elderly woman Helga.  Helga can understand her, just not express her knowledge.  We see Helga trying to warn others of Emily's evil, in many ways.  But Emily is always there to dismiss the knocking as meaning other things.  Emily trashes the store owned by Miriam, the sister of Emily's husband Warren.  Miriam is suspicious after catching Emily sneaking into her room.  Miriam is more and more convinced, and in the meantime Emily's murder of the minister is being pieced together.

This movie could've been decent I suppose, but honestly the gimmick was pretty bad and almost ruined it.  It's definitely a "product of it's time".  Here's the gimmick....   At about the hour and fifteen minute mark, Miriam is going into the house to finally confront Warren about Emily's behavior, and we as an audience know that Emily is in the house.  Slow movement as the camera nears the door of the house....  and then a clock appears on the screen.  We watch as the clock starts to count down from 30 seconds.  Then, William Castle's voice over tells us: "This is your chance to leave if you're too scared.  You have 20 seconds left..." etc.  If you make it to then end, he congratulates you for staying, saying you're brave. Really?  Really!  That's what this movie did. 

Spoilers now.  Then, the big reveal of the movie is that Warren is Emily.  Which, for me, was....um, kinda interesting I guess.  Not terrible.  It was original and it was not something I in particular saw coming.  In retrospect, it makes sense too, and they do explain it.  It makes her be a sympathetic villain also.  One thing though, which I kept wondering, why the whole intro with marrying the guy just to stab the minister?  Seriously, she left two eyewitnesses when she could've just found the minister some day and kill him.  I mean I get it, she did it to make Emily be the villain, but she didn't need to do it in that way.  Ah well.  Spoilers over.

It's not overly gimmicky, just the clock and a short intro piece by Castle also.  The clock is sort of funny now, and the intro piece is whatever.  I just read the Wikipedia article which states: "Time magazine said: "It surpasses Psycho in structure, suspense and sheer nervous drive".  Holy shit, someone actually liked this more than Psycho?!  That's gonna be the first and last time this movie gets favorable reviews over Psycho.  It wasn't BAD, it just certainly wasn't GOOD.  2 stars.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Strays - 1991

I haven't done a made for TV movie in a long time, so with the help of some Mexican beer and Indian food, I watched Strays from 1991.  I'm gonna keep this review kinda short, but again, it felt nice to not be watching something from the boxset, and it also was nice to watch what I'd say was a pretty decent horror/suspense movie.

Strays is very minimal, which helped it along.  A family moves into a recently emptied house in a tiny little suburb somewhere.  Husband and wife Paul and Lindsey have a young daughter, and from the onset of moving into the house nothing goes right.  First the phone doesn't work, then the car crashes, then they find Paul's dog has been attacked by something in the night.  Paul is allergic to cats, and has been sneezing this whole time.  At first they think it's because of the cat they find living in the attic, but soon realize that might not be all that's setting him off.

I'm also gonna break here and say that I've been on an 80's binge for a long, long time.  I am not sure if this is because of my original 1986 marathon, or just because I love 80's movies, but it did feel good to watch something 90's again.  I do like the 90's.

This movie felt very traditional in it's approach, and was a semi slow moving feature, but still very likable.  The characters are not terribly defined, but still very charismatic.  They come off as a young and very in love couple, and even have a small story line of their own thrown in.  The daughter character annoyed me, but was probably realistic.  Then you have the cats.

The cats were shot extremely well.  This is how you make a horror movie about something like cats.  Shot in cool angles, with nice lighting, and capturing cats in a way that actually made you fear these things.  If you don't think a cat can kill you, well you're probably wrong, but second off, watch this movie.  They're surprisingly wily, strong, and intelligent creatures.  If they went for your jugular while scratching your face, you'd probably be fucked.

Some of the typical elements are in place, and there's maybe a plot hole or two, but nothing glaring that makes you hate the movie.  All in all, I'd say it was really quite good.  Not like, a classic, but for sure one to see if you like animal attack movies or if you hate cats.  My two cats slept through the whole thing, but maybe it gave them sadistic dreams about torturing me.  I guess I'll find out!
3 stars.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day of the Panther - 1988

Is it possible for a movie to have pretty decent stunt coordination, yet only average to okay action?  I guess the action in this is pretty good sometimes, I don't mean to ride it, but the stunts and the coordination of the whole thing is great.  Actually, truth be told I liked this movie.  Could have been because of the whole charm of being shot in Australia, but I think that it was more of a genuine heartfelt action movie, where you can tell everyone had a great time making it, and they didn't get too blown outta shape about it.

Low budget, yet well acted and well shot, Day of the Panther has main character Jason Blade infiltrate a drug ring to bring it down from the inside after they kill his partner.  It's an excuse for a plot, and in the directors own words, "there were eight fight scenes in the first film and nine in the second" so it wasn't light on the action.  In case you were wondering, this was shot at the same time as the sequel, Strike of the Panther.  So it may have been mostly fight scenes, so what?!

Jason Blade is your very average but likable overconfident action star, he finds endless excuses to not wear a shirt, he beds plenty of women, and he never fights a fight which makes him look like he couldn't win.  This considered, it is never boring, and it kept me reasonably entertained.  The action is fast paced and well shot, they last just the right length and have plenty of cutaways so you're not just looking at two guys throwin punches for 15 minutes straight, like some of those action movies.  Also, there are people besides Jason who fight, like in the first opening scene, and those fights are more entertaining cause they're closer matched.

Like I said, Jason is after the drug gang that killed his partner.  Above is one of the drug gang members.  Why they wear weird masks in the opening scene, and then never again in the movie is anyone's guess.  I'd guess, if I had to, they used several actors in multiple roles.  Jason infiltrates the gang because they like how well he fights, and soon enough he's tracking down the leader and slowly his cover is being blown.  It all comes to a head and Jason gets his revenge in the short 83 minute movie.  Those weren't spoilers, you knew how this movie was gonna go.

It all makes sense, and it's handled well by Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith who did Dead End Drive-In and BMX Bandits.  It was made to be low rent, it achieves low rent.  But for likable characters, a fun sense to it that never takes itself too seriously, and some badass fights, it gets placed even higher!  What can I say, I liked it?!  4 action movie stars.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Curse of the Faceless Man - 1958

On Wednesday, I got off work without a thing to do in the world.  I wandered over to the bus stop, not wanting to go home just yet, and hopped on a bus with no plan at all.  This is the kinda reason I am never going to have kids.  Anyways, I whipped out the phone (as is the thing to do) and took to the internet.  Since I was on a bus that went on Balboa Street in SF, I googled the Balboa Theater, and discovered there was a double feature playing that very night!  This movie along with "It!" from 1967.  So naturally, I went.

Let's start off with the theater.  This place is a small independent joint, with decent pricing and a nice staff.  Their popcorn is also quite good.  I sneaked in a bottle of Miller High Life, to be enjoyed during the film, as well as some gummy bears.  Cause that's how I roll.  A short intro and a short, insanely difficult trivia contest ensued, and then we were thrust headlong into Curse of the Faceless Man.

In Faceless Man, the volcanic explosion at Pompeii unearths a weird statue that looks like a human.  It is taken to a museum, where it's put on display.  Soon, people are dying, and it seems as if the statue is involved.  Also, we then see that it's moving.  The statue does look very cool, and especially when we see it moving ever so slowly.

 I have to give major props to the curator/movie presenter in this situation.  "It!" which is also known as the Curse of the Golem, was extremely similar to this movie, and I keep getting the two confused in my mind.  In fact, now I remember more of It! and less of this movie.  For example, I cannot for the life of me remember how this movie ends!

The pacing in this one was good, the movie was shot well, and the acting was not over the top in scope.  The film is very light, a good popcorn movie, and one that is good for pretty much anything.  I remember when I used to rate things in terms of drinking, smoking, seeing it with friends, and cult status.  Well, this one would be a great drinking/smoking movie, a great one for friends and bad movie night.  Long silences would offer plenty of riffing opportunity, and it's straight-forward approach is easy to understand in inebriated condition.

It is your average 50's monster movie, a light rip off of The Mummy, even sharing similar plot elements about lovers being reincarnated.  So, there's that.

Basically, it's fun, and one to watch if you like 50's movies, especially if you like them on the light side, not overdone, and not overtly cheesy.

Hyper Sapien: People from Another Star - 1986

If I'd known I had a few more 1986 movies in this Sci Fi Invasion boxset, I might have watched them before I turned 30 in my '86 movie marathon!  But I didn't even fucking check.  Here's how I was going to originally intro this movie:

There are two basic types of movies that exist.  The ones you forget, and the ones you remember.  I watched this movie last night, and then I watched Full Metal Jacket afterwards.  Guess which movie I enjoyed more?  Now guess which movie I was thinking about afterwards, and that I was still thinking about this morning?  Well, I guess it's a tad unfair to compare this to a Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, but still, I'm just saying there's the movies you forget about (this one) and the ones you never do (Full Metal Jacket).

Looking through the filmographies of the actors involved in this, I see a lotta different soap operas.  I wonder if those actors ever make it.  I can't think of pretty much anyone who was in soap operas and still made it big after that.  Of course George Clooney was in E/R, but I dunno if that was a true "soap" or if it was a TV show.  I think it was a soap.  But anyways, it seems to be the last ditch type of acting that people can do besides being on a local TV commercial, like the ones that are produced and shown specifically in one city.  The director however has done a Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the one film with Lazenby.  So that's interesting.

Hyper Sapien was definitely made with the kids in mind, this one is more of a kids movie that even Pod People. It's an upbeat little romp about some aliens that come down from the moon to see what Earth is like.  Two of the aliens are human-looking females, and the third alien is their pet Kirby, who is a three-legged weird-ass creature with psychic powers....
The aliens encounter our main character Dirt (on the left in the above pic) and quickly an attraction forms between Dirt and the older female alien, Robyn.  They all live with Dirt's grandfather and....ah fuck it, you get it.

This movie was pretty bland, it's your average mix of boring and also lightly entertaining.  Extremely predictable, and nothing in it happens that will make you want to pay attention 100%.  No one ever shows any surprise about the ridiculous alien Kirby there either.  When Dirt and later his grandpa meet Kirby they're just like "uh, hi?" instead of being like "wtf is this thing?!"

For being completely average and not a complete waste of time, I think 2 stars is more than enough, but due to the fact this is really childish, I might downgrade to 1.5.  It sure doesn't deserve more than 2, and now that I think about it more, it was pretty annoying.  Movies have to have something that makes you like them.  Although, the Kirby creature and the acting were okay, I still remain set on a 1.5.  I make the rules here after all.