Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Disturbing Behavior - 1998

I had the rare opportunity to watch Disturbing Behavior last night on 35mm in a fucking theater with other weirdos like myself who would go out to see a early 90's thriller-ish movie on a Tuesday night.  It had a short intro where I won the trivia contest, and it was all in all pretty "rad".  See, I can say rad because the movie was from the 90's.

Disturbing Behavior was a post-Scream entry into the horror thriller genre.  I have been talking a lot about horror as a genre with my horror buff friend recently.  We were talking about exactly how much Scream redefined the entire genre, the entire concept of horror.  As die hard horror fans, we both agree that in a way, as fucking stellar and groundbreaking as Scream was, it basically ruined horror movies forever.  It brought every problem, every ridiculous idea up, and it brought it front and center so we'd see it every time.  Of course, die hard fans like us can still enjoy a horror movie, but in the mainstream eye I think Scream really made people re-examine how much they truly enjoyed the genre as a whole.  In short, Scream was amazing.

So, post-Scream, they were still gonna make horror films, but how would they do it?  Disturbing Behavior did it by crossing genres with thriller and drama, coming of age, and big doses of reality coming through.  The whole film is an allegory about conformity and being oneself.  And it did all of this with huge 90's charm, ridiculous music of the era, and great actors.

Disturbing Behavior jumps into the action with Nick Stahl as Gavin witnessing a murder.  Some asshole jock is out with his girlfriend, randomly breaks her neck and kills a police officer.  However, the jock is let off by the cops who were there, and so now we know the cops are in on it.  Meanwhile James Marsden as Steve is a newcomer to the town, an outsider who doesn't fit in but is befriended by Gavin and his group which includes Katie Holmes as Rachel.  They are the outcasts of the school, the punky druggie dudes who don't care about school and just wanna chillax. Anyways, cutting all this short, Gavin is convinced there is a large conspiracy at hand that's changing the students into zombies, and he begins trying to convince Steve of this.  And then one day Gavin himself changes.

It's a extremely fast paced, gripping, and electric movie.  The cast sells the shit out of their characters, and Katie Holmes looks bomb as fuck as the main girl.  The threat feels real, and the story this movie tells is one that likely we could all relate to.  Feeling out of place in a school, in a society, feeling that pressure to conform is a very real feeling which I know I've felt most of my life.

There's some awesome death scenes, some great action, and everything falls right into place.  The end was typical, and satisfying.  All in all, I was not expecting a ton from this movie, and I really fucking liked it!  If I remember the plots and the every detail, if I remember character names, if I remember individual scenes the next day, it's pretty much a guarantee I liked the film.  I wasn't sure about the blog aspect of the film, but since I never update the site these days (hehehe) I figured whatev.

I give it....5 90's stars.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Wraith - 1986

I feel like I go through phases with this blog.  I have seen countless movies that could have fit into this blog.  I even rewatched I'ts Alive, my favorite mosasaurus film, and I made my friend watch it.  I've been revisiting serious films as well, and suffice to say I haven't really felt like blogging about all this crap I do.

I may have mentioned at some point that I was listening to How Did This Get Made, the podcast about bad movies.  I enjoy it, and I like watching the movies they feature on it.  When they featured The Wraith, and then when The Wraith was available free on Netflix, a small part of me celebrated.  I hate how a lot of these films they do are not available for free online.  I refuse to spend money right now.  I'm ultra-cheap.

The Wraith is a surprisingly high production car racing movie from the 80's.  It continues my 1986 marathon, about 2 years after I initially started my 1986 marathon.  Wow, that's fucking weird dude, I remember startling this marathon like it was yesterday.  I'm getting old man, time is passing faster and faster.  I also had a bad thought when I signed onto the Blogspot site today.  I had an inevitable feeling like this blog was over.  I hope it's not, I hope I continue, but somehow....I don't think it's destined to live much longer.

But let's not live in the future, let's live in the now.  In the now, 31 years ago, Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid, Sharilyn Fenn, and Nick Cassavetes starred in The Wraith.  The Wraith is about an alien force that comes to town in Arizona, in the form of a sleek black roadster car.  The evil gang of baddies see the car and want it.  They challenge the wraith to a race, the loser gives up their car.  The Wraith starts to kill all the members of the gang in these races, forcing them off the road in crashes.  This is all pursued by Randy Quaid as the local police.  Charlie Sheen is a seemingly unconnected drifter who starts wooing the girl of the leader of the street gang.

The movie consists of pretty well done, highly produced race scenes.  Crazy songs play in the background, either established classics or songs that missed the mark I guess and faded into 80s obscurity.  There's tons of race scenes, and the cars are very cool.  The titular Wraith is a concept car, a Dodge from the 80's.  I tried to upload a photo but fucking blogspot is being a bitch.  Google it.

The movie proceeds, it's very simple and yet never boring.  Seriously this movie just flew right by, and I liked it a lot.  Very well done, lots of deaths and explosions.  There's a sense of mystery to this thing, and we're not sure what exactly is The Wraith or anything for quite a long time.  In the end, some things are explained, but some are wisely left as a mystery and never explained fully.  I think the basic idea is fine though:  we're left with a dim idea of what happened and why, and I think it's a near flawless 80s romp.

Four classic action sci fi stars.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Megaforce - 1982

Golden Harvest is a Chinese production company that has been around a long time and (I think) is still going strong.  They've brought us Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung and other great stars.  In the 80's they decided to infiltrate the US market with a few American made and American style films, such as Megaforce.  This was a big deal for them.  They threw $20 million at a sci fi actioner film called Megaforce, and hoped that it would massively succeed enough for them to successfully gain a foothold in the American market.

Megaforce is by and large a extremely 80's sci fi action flick that is easy to watch, but not so much on the great side of the scale.  It feels extremely high production, and it's easy to see where the 20 million went, however is the film "good"....?  Well, no, I am going to say it's not.  Not for your typical array of reasons, but simply because it's not entertaining.

Barry Bostwick stars as a generic commander of an elite group of special soldiers known as the Megaforce.  The Megaforce is introduced in the beginning when a stiff British general comes to meet the commander, and the general is put off by Megaforce's apparent lack of adoption of regular military style.  They have no uniforms, they don't care about rank, and they don't worry about the image like other military people would.

Along with the general is Persis Khambatta, of Star Trek and She Wolves of the Wasteland fame.  She is sort of a blank woman creation made to be the love interest of Barry Bostwick's commander dude.  I don't remember exactly why she was with the general to begin with, but suffice to say she's there to be eye candy and the sole female in this entire flick.  She is hot as fuck in case you haven't noticed, so I'm not complaining or anything.  Megaforce gets their mission, and she tries to join the Megaforce, but Boswick won't let her because "he can't, or he won't?" type reasons which are fairly stupid.

The mission involves the usual stuff, blowing up countless things, shooting lots of guns, and motorcycles.  It's all fun to watch, but it plays a lot like a tired kung fu or bland action film where you feel nothing for the hero or villain and don't really care what will happen in the end.  Also, there is never a single moment where you actually think the good guy will lose or even get a scratch on them, so it makes for a bland, pretty lame cinema experience.  I watched it while drunk on Irish coffee on my sick day.

Not sure what else to say about it.  The production, actors, the look, the style, the pacing, it's all there.  This has the ingredients of a classic bad action film from the 80's, but somehow I wasn't very interested in it.  Couldn't say exactly why.  Perhaps it's just not for me.  I'll still give it 3 stars.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Moonraker - 1979

Wow, what the fuck is this blog?!  I am going to review the 11th installment of James goddamn Bond?!  Yes, I am.  Fuck it.  Fuck it!  I'm feeling buzzy from coffee, I'm horny as fuck, I'm reviewing James goddamn Bond, and life is good.

I was always interested in James Bond as a kid.  I have always liked the idea of these really long series of films that have tons of sequels, and there's always an obscure 2-3 out there that you can't find for some dumbass reason.  I remember being absolutely obsessed with Godzilla, Zatoichi, The Twilight Zone, and other types of really long series that didn't used to be online (Twilight Zone is mostly available online right now, though it's still not the whole show).  I'm not sure exactly why this was, but I am sort of a completionist / obsessive compulsive about these sorts of things.

I remember going to Peters Video, in Calistoga California with my brother and my dad in the 90's and early 2000's, and renting random ass James Bond movies.  How I got into the series, who knows.  It's very possible I saw Goldeneye in theaters in 1995 (age 9), or when it was a new release, and that would about make sense if that was when I got into the Bond series.  Anyhow, we'd rent all the back catalog of Bond films.  I remember liking Roger Moore films the best, because they were zany and dumb, fitting perfectly with my pre-teen mentality.  Second I liked Timothy Dalton, then Pierce Brosnan.  Then Connery, then Lazenby, then Daniel Craig if you're curious.

The Roger Moore films took a turn for the weird very early on.  That is not to say some of the Connery films weren't weird, but I feel like Connery turning Japanese and fighting Oddjob was still not as weird as Bond going to space, Jaws, and using a special Golden Gun on a desert island.  Although my favorite Bond villain was Donald Pleasence as Blofeld, that's purely because I am a Pleasence fanatic.

Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me were two of my standout favorites from the series even early on.  I loved Jaws, he was my second favorite villain, and to this day is the only Bond henchman to appear in two Bond films.  Richard Kiel was stunning as Jaws, certainly looks the part, and it helped that he was an unlockable character in the Nintendo 64 Goldeneye video game.

This is a noticeably silly entrant in the Bond franchise.  Capitalizing off of the success of Star Wars like so many other films, this entry saw Bond take to space.  Although when I saw it in the mid 90's this seemed absolutely like a "jump the shark" moment in the series, I have to say that watching it now in 2017, it doesn't seem as unrealistic and far fetched.

There are several different theories as to which actor plays Bond at what age in his life.  It's basically regarded that Daniel Craig is Bond when he's youngest.  He's green, he's cocky, and Q and Moneypenny are young.  Then it would be Lazenby, in the film where Bond gets married.  Then Timothy Dalton as an angry, more violent Bond thereafter.  Then for me I feel like Connery and Brosnan are interchangeable for the most part in the timeline.  But it's pretty much agreed on by everyone that Roger Moore portrayed Bond at his oldest.  He's in the minimum amount of fights, he hardly kills anyone in most of his entries.  Moore was also the oldest actor to play Bond, and so this theory makes sense the most.

This is hardly a standard review, obviously.  But as a Bond entry, I found Moonraker to be pretty fun, and there's always a special place for it in my heart.  The stunts are cool, whether it's skydiving with no parachute, taking a gondola hovercraft onto land, or the tense action on the sky tram.  Moore is confident and slick as Bond, though I'd have to say that Moore also plays the least likable Bond in my book. He beds the ladies, he smarts and charms his way around everything.  This movie never saw a Bond car, didn't have much gadgets, and Bond only kills one person directly in the entire film.  It's an odd one, but it's very good in my book.

As an entry, it's most likely on the low spectrum for most people.  But I'm not most people, and my ratings are a whole WTF thing as I'm sure you'll notice.  I give this one 4 stars.  I like it!  The Spy Who Loved Me is better though.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Embryo - 1976

This movie, Embryo, is one that I've seen listed on multiple boxsets time and time again when I peruse Amazon and other sites for DVD boxes that might want to purchase.  I can't say exactly why, since it's not that old or not that bad, but I supposed those reasons alone are not enough to keep it out of the black hole that is the public domain.

Embryo would star an aging Rock Hudson, still good looking and in great shape, as a scientist who wants to create a way to save fetuses that are dying.  Rock Hudson plays Paul, who's a likable if somewhat naive scientist that just wants to do good, can't see anything beyond the good that his science will do.  He's pretty much the stereotype.

At first Paul tries out his experiment on a dog that he has in his lab.  The dog is not only born, but thrives and grows quicker, smarter, and better than any normal dog would.  Apparently.  So, then it's Paul thinking, "well shit maybe I should try this on a human!" and try it on a human he does.  He refuses to do things the amoral way, so he finds a 3 month old fetus that is going to die, he snags it, and he injects his growth hormone.

The baby girl continues to grow, grows up normal and quite fast, and is suddenly about the age of 24.  He takes her out of her capsule finally, and discovers she has super intelligence, the drug is no longer going to make her grow quickly, and she's eager to learn human customs.  Victoria as she's called, because she was a victory, is a genius, and despite not being mature emotionally, she quickly begins to master the more mathematical and scientific aspects of the human mind.  Then, much like every movie like this, she decides she must embrace the emotional side.  She fucks Rock Hudson, and soon begins to develop problems with the drugs used to grow her.  They seem to be turning her evil....

Sorry about the convoluted plot-line outlaid above.  This movie was one of those, like Frankenstein, where you could say "yeah it's about a dude who brings a monster back from the dead" or you could go into the details about the plot details.  The point is, this is Frankenstein but dressed up with a bit more character and a girl rather than a monster.  The girl is played by Barbara Carrera, who was decent enough in the role.  It's mostly her and Rocky Rock Hudson conversing most the flick, and they did seem to have some chemistry between them.

Looking at this from the recent angle I have of 1976 movies, I have to say this one was "better" as well.  I guessed 1978 when I was writing the year above, and in that way, I guess you could say it looks just a tiny bit "better" than the other two 76 movies I've seen recently.  The pacing was kind of slow, but it was also more of a drama / slow burn movie then a quick flashy actioner of a film.

Hm, what else.  Nothing much worth noting.  Roddy McDowall was in a small cameo.  No music worth remembering.  Decently shot and whatever.  Some nudity from Victoria, she has a nice body.  And, the ending was totally one you could see coming.  Basically once things take the turn and Rocky fucks Victoria, you can probably guess the rest of the movie, but it was still worth watching I'll argue.  It's was a basic "meh" of a movie, but that's still worth 2.5 stars.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Exterminator City - 2005

There's low budget and then there's no budget.  This blog has primarily dealt with low budget, but we'll take our first sort of foray into no budget here.  Now, I can't actually say no budget about this movie.  I don't know exactly how these things work, but it's my understanding that you'd have to pay a girl a decent amount of money to appear naked or topless in your film, and since every single girl in this is naked or topless, they must've had some money to pay them to appear that way.

Everything else in this movie is obviously done by like 1-2 guys, and a budget of nothing.  There's hand built, seriously clunky looking robot hand puppets, very early MST3K looking contraptions that barely seem to function.  There's a lot of terrible dialogue by guys that obviously thought they were pretty genius for making a "comedic" script that featured robots calling each other words like "bitch".

The director Clive Cohen has zero other movies he's remotely connected with, and zero information on IMDb.  That's something I will now always miss about IMDb, the message board dialogue started on each page by various other movie viewers.  Inevitably on each lonely IMDb page there'd be someone else, like me (or maybe even it would be me) who would start a message board about someone like Clive Cohen.  They'd say something like "Where is he now?" or "What the heck?" and they'd be wondering if someone out there on the information superhighway knew any insider information on Cohen.  I miss those boards.

Exterminator City....well, I don't miss movies like this.  This is the kind of entertainment that I can't exactly tear apart from limb to limb, cause it obviously took creativity, talent, and artistry to make it.  It's not funny though, it's not interesting, and it's like watching something made by middle schoolers.  Trust me, I used to film shit with my friends, and half the stuff we made was about as good as this, not even fucking joking.

There's literally scenes of huge titted women walking around their homes topless and going about daily tasks, and we're supposed to what, accept it because "it's funny"?  Sorry, no.  Sorry, you don't get a pass just cause you intentionally made your movie campy and self aware.  I don't know.  This is the Charles Band type of shit where it's made specifically to pander to the high idiots and their drunkard friends as they sit in an induced stupor and snicker at the movie while daring each other to taste the bong water.

I don't have lots more to say to it.  It is relatively entertaining despite my roast up above, and there's certainly worse films out there.  It came on a circa 2005 DVD, and I haven't watched a DVD that poorly produced in a really long time.  I remember buying my first DVDs in about....2002, roughly 6 years after they existed from what the internet tells me.  At first they didn't have menus or anything, just jumped right into the movie.  This has one item on the menu, which is obviously home made.  You start the movie, and you have to watch trailers.  This is like VHS shit where the trailers are literally PART of the movie.

So, Exterminator City.  Hm, I don't know.  Strangely enough, after venting all this, I feel like giving it decent marks.  Perhaps it's the fact I put it on when I was tired, and I was still entertained to an extent.  Perhaps it's something else.  I'll never know.  But hey, Clive Cohen, good job wherever you are, you drunk son of a bitch.  2.5 stars.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Burnt Offerings - 1976

Two 1976 movies in one day?!  Oh my fucking god.  Goddamn.  I'm a little bit drunk, but I watched Burnt Offerings stone cold sober, so this is a drunk review of a sober movie basically.  Interesting huh?  Now you're reminded about why you read this dumbass blog.

Burnt Offerings is a Amityville inspired, super by-the-numbers haunted house movie.  Which is not to call it bad.  In fact, I might even take that bit back about it being a haunted house movie.  It's billed as a haunted house movie, when I would say it's more of a demonic possession and mystery film.  I dunno.  I'm a bit of a genre freak in case you haven't noticed.  I fucking hate when things are labelled as something other than what I would classify them as.  Get Out, the recent "horror" movie (which I give 5 stars) is labeled horror.  Yeah right!  That movie is a straight mystery thriller.  No fucking horror elements at all.

Burnt Offerings has Oliver Reed of Venom fame as the father figure of a family that moves into a huge dilapidated mansion which is actually located (in real life) in my current home town of Oakland California.  Bay Area, bro-han.  Oliver Reed, his hot wife Karen Black (drool) and their wormy son all live in this mansion which is practically given to them, and they have to take care of the weird old woman who lives in the top floor.

Pretty much right away it's established that the woman either is dead or doesn't exist at all, Karen Black develops an obsession with her, and Oliver Reed begins to be influenced by some sort of demonic force.  I'm obviously at the point where I don't give a shit about their character names.  Oliver Reed falls under evil influence and attacks the wormy son, tensions rise, and eventually they all decide they must leave the house.  But what about the old lady who lives in the place?

Basically, I was expecting a low level haunted house movie, and instead I got a bizarre mix of ghost film, demonic possession, and a mostly average flick in general.  I'm not really in the boat right now of "I have tons to say about this".  I fact, I can't really even say if I liked it or not.  It felt....basically like anything else one might watch.  Had it's good and bad.  The actors, good.  The plot, meh.  The scares, zero.

That would be one thing I'll say.  Zero scares, and one of those movies where I don't even know what would be considered scary in 1976.  I guess the father attacking the son is scary in concept, but I mean, seriously yo.  It was a right down the middle, meh experience, which I'd normally give a 2.5, but for whatever reason, I'll give this 3.  Maybe because Karen Black is hot.  Probably.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Witch Who Came From the Sea - 1976

Hundra director Matt Cimber made this odd little film, The Witch Who Came From the Sea (I'll call it Witch for brevity) which was another one of these well know video nasties.  I don't remember if I added Witch because of Matt Cimber, because it was a video nasty, or why specifically I added it at all, but suffice to say that's extremely common for me to add something and forget why.  Classic me.

The Witch is a very bizarre, very fucked up story of a woman who may or may not have psychic powers and also may or may not be going insane.  This movie walks the line between fantasy and reality very well, and very often.  It's also one of those movies where despite the clear resolution in the end, it's still unclear exactly which scenes were reality and which were imagined.

In the beginning of Witch, we see the main woman, Molly, at the beach with her two nephews, Tadd and Tripoli.  As she watches some hunky guys down the beach, we slowly see them die, seemingly caused by Molly's intense stare.  This is chief among the scenes I don't know if were real or not.

The movie slows down from there and we follow Molly as she goes about her life.  She works at a local bar and restaurant, she spends a lot of time with her sister Cathy, and Cathy's sons Tadd and Tripoli.  Why the two boys are named Tadd and Tripoli is never explained. The questions we really wanted answered in this film simply never are.

One night while watching football, she sees and is attracted to two of the star football players.  Next we know, she has found these two in real life.  She seduces them, takes them to her room, and begins to tie them up to the bed with promises of kinky sex.  Molly does have a lot of nudity, so be prepared for pretty small but perky tits that you can glue your eyes to in many scenes.  Anyhow, she ties up the guys, and to their dismay puts her clothes back on.  Molly then produces a razor, and begins cutting.

This movie did a great job of walking the fantasy and reality line very well.  There is eventually some explanations, but they never do explain everything.  It's said that Molly was a victim of childhood sexual abuse by her obese fisherman father.  Her sister Cathy possibly was too, but that's never said.  The two footballs presumably remind her of her father?  I don't remember that being part or not.

There's also a bizarre mermaid and ocean motif in the film that's never explained.  Molly gets a weird mermaid tattoo midway through the film, just after the two killings.  You know, I'll say it now:  This movie was very weird but really good.  It was enjoyable, and I honestly could keep talking about small plot points for forever it seems.  The Witch did have an amateur feeling to it, sure, but the acting and the strangeness of the story more than made up for it.

This qualifies more as a video nasty than Don't Go in The Woods (click on the link "nasties" in the first sentence).  It's got tons of nudity, it's got blood, and it has themes of rape, incest, and child molestation.  Yet, it feels curiously subtle, and like all the bad shit that happens in the movie is reasonable.  For that, and for the awesome feel of the film in general, I'll give it 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Final Terror - 1983

I believe I was about halfway through this movie when I decided it was pretty awesome.  That was a nice feeling.  The Final Terror, which is a pretty awful name, was actually pretty awesome!  Other names up for contention, by the way, were: The Creeper, Three Blind Mice, The Forest Primeval, and Bump in the Night.  I get it, it's hard to name horror movies.  I do get it.

The Final Terror was step on the ladder for many of the people in it, which is always a good sign.  Director Andrew Davis later directed a classic Steven Seagal film, Under Siege, as well as one of my favorite Harrison Ford films, The Fugitive, an Academy Award winning film.  The film also stars Joe Pantoliano, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, and Adrian Zmed.  A lot of them got famous literally about a year or two after this was filmed, which was in 1981.  That was enough to push this film finally out into theaters in 1983.

The charm of this movie, and the reason that I decided I liked it, is the complete picture.  This film has it all.  Like I said it has the actors.  Then, the music is great.  The music is always an important part of the horror film genre, where little things like atmosphere make all the difference.  Shot in the beautiful redwood forests of north California, the setting looks amazing.  Finally there's the actual horror elements which come into play as well.

Plot first, several friends are going up to the woods to go camping (original, right?!).  They are driven there by a generally pissed off and cranky Joe Pantoliano.  The friends are eight people, I think.....  There might have been too many characters, that is one thing I'll say straight out.  They're driving up to somewhere way up a river, to do a mix of camping and rafting.  Once they arrive, it's camping, pranking each other, and scary stories told around the fire.  Soon enough, a prank is played on Marco and he goes missing.  All the group sets off to search for him, and then the kills begin.

I mentioned there are a lot of characters in this.  The group of friends is big, and I'm not entirely sure why that is.  In fact, I thought early on, and on reflection I still think that Daryl Hannah never has a single line.  That's because there's just too many characters, and I sort of got them confused.  When everyone is a attractive blonde/brunette except for the two black characters, it's very easy to get the whitey's confused.  Most of the characters also do very little.  Besides walking around, screaming when need be and other such reactions, they are mostly just there.

But one thing I liked and why I decided I liked this movie is that about the halfway point, one character is dead and one is kidnapped, and none of the friends know it yet.  The friends find a cabin in the woods where it seems the killer is living.  As they look around the cabin, the killer is holding the kidnapped girl below the floorboards, machete held to her face.  It's a cool, chilling sequence.  And that's when I realized that plot aside, this movie was a cool mix between Texas Chainsaw and Friday the 13th.

The difference between a slasher like Friday and a horror thriller like Texas is of course, the grittiness and the disgust associated with the killer.  Leatherface in the first few Texas movies is disgusting, putrid, surrounded with decay and mental instability.  Whereas Jason is superhuman, almost a hero, and never really threatened, Leatherface is just a fucked up big guy in an apron.  These small things done to give the killer a level of humanity or depth are really where a horror movie can up it a notch.  Nothing is scarier than knowing that the guy after you might not just kill you.  He might do fucked up, sick or just plain hurtful things to you first.

The other interesting thing, spoiler alert I suppose, is that there's not a lot of deaths in this movie.  Most of the characters live.  This to me is a lot more realistic of a plot.  Despite the fact that the end had a small dumb plot point, this movie felt super realistic to me in a lot of ways.  Basically every part of this could and might happen.  There's no glaring parts that were idiotic like so many of these movies.  There were no supernatural parts.  This movie felt very honest about it's intention, and it was very well done in that way.

Amazon Prime has really shitty quality, and I bet that watching this on DVD would have been an almost 5 star experience.  However, I am only going to give it 4 because the quality was god awful.  Also, some scenes it's hard to tell exactly what was happening.  There's a scene where for some reason the girl who can't swim randomly gets out of the boat, and I have no idea why.  Also, the end was pretty dumb with a last minute, predictable twist.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jason Goes to Hell - 1993

Where does that phrase "jumping the shark" come from, anyways?  I have no idea.  I think it refers to Evel Knievel jumping sharks, but since that's considered "cool" and "jumping the shark" is considered bad, I wonder bout these things.  I guess the vernacular phrases we use every day rarely have reasons for why they exist, and language as a form makes no fuckin sense anyways.

Jason Goes to Hell is a very "jump the shark" moment in the Friday the 13th series.  It had perhaps already jumped when Jason went to Manhattan, however at this point it seriously went just plain fucking wrong.  Jason, without any explanation whatsoever, can suddenly change bodies?!  In the first opening scene, which is again never explained, a girl typically runs from Jason only to have the police ambush him and literally blow him up.  Except that his heart doesn't blow up, which apparently means he's still alive.  But his body is destroyed, so now he can literally infest the "idea" of Jason into other people?!

Some red lights fly out of Jason's chopped up body, infest the morgue attendant, and soon he consumes the heart of Jason which makes him into a psycho killer.  The temporary bodies Jason is in run out after some time, so he not only kills people randomly, but kills people with the intention of hopping bodies.  That's all well and good, and later it turns out that he can indeed be stopped, as long as it's at the hand of someone that's related to him.  He has a sister that's alive, as well as her baby daughter.  So it's up to them to stop Jason permanently by stabbing him in the heart with a special dagger.

Ugh.  If it sounds like this is stupid and/or complex, that's cause it is stupid.  It's complex, not in a good way, but in a way that makes you angry and realize just how low the bar was set at this point.  In Jason Goes to Manhattan, at least Jason was legitimately in the film, he had a reason to go to Manhattan, and it was such a small change to the series that is was fine.  In this one, it's not only fucking with the location, but with the mythology, the killer, the basic story elements, etc.

There are quite a bit of kills, and so therefore we come to the one part of the movie that is acceptable: the violence.  There's tons of kills in this, and a lot of them are pretty creative.  Also, I guess that the whole idea of Jason switching bodies is kind of cool, it's just that it needed to be introduced WAY before this dumbass film in order for it to make sense.  Also, there is never an explanation given as to how Jason comes back after being killed in this one.  I guess that was spoiler alert, Jason dies in the end, by the ways indicated, and then in Jason X, Jason just randomly is back at it.

So, this movie was pretty awful, and in fact these three (Manhattan, Hell, X) and even Freddy Versus Jason could all be seen as why this franchise is effectively dead unless they reboot it again like they did in 09.  Anyways, whatever, 1 star.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

There's Nothing Out There - 1991

The IMDb plot summary of this movie reads: "When a horror film buff tries to warn his friends of impending danger during March Break, they scoff at him, that is, until sinister things begin to happen."  Sound familiar?  Cause to me it sounds sort of like Scream.  Wes Craven is a genius obviously, but I do wonder what would've happened if this film had perhaps a tiny bit more talent behind it or any known name.

There's Nothing Out There (TNOT) plays out like a version of Scream that's about 45% sillier, and 100% more amateur.  This movie has, instead of ghostface killer, a weird mutant tadpole monster that I honestly don't think was ever explained.

It's the classic plotline as lampooned by The Cabin In The Woods.  Seven friends in an isolated cabin and one of them is a horror film aficionado.  They go through the typical bullshit as the wary horror film friend forewarns about the impending doom.  This was all well and good until there was an actual part where one of the characters is trying to escape the monster in the film, then suddenly a boom mic is visible.  The character sees it and actually grabs it and swings on it to escape the creature.  If that's not breaking the fourth wall, I don't know what is.

So it's incredibly self aware (at times) and it is basically a comedy in those ways wherein it glorifies it's "cleverness" and also it's "self awareness".  These things combined would not only make it a precursor to Scream, but the entire horror genre circa 2017.  I am trying to say that this is basically how a lot of horror films now are, especially low budget independent ones.  They are self aware as fuck, they have their intentions visible from scene one, and they make their characters and plot and everything secondary to that.

This film does follow that formula, hell one could say this film is the definition of that formula.  And I have to say, as impressive as that is, the novelty wore down.  The first 45 minutes I was pretty optimistic, and I wanted to like this and give it a great review.  In time, it wore out it's welcome and I was pretty bored.  The problem was that even with tits, monsters, originality, etc, this movie never felt like it was that interesting.  It just sort of kept going, and instead of being interested, I was bored and antsy.  That and I drank too much in the beginning so I was pretty drunk.

So I will admit that perhaps my short attention span was due to being drunk, but I doubt I missed out on much.  I'll give it 3 stars, and I'll scratch it off my list.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Strike Commando - 1987

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Crocodile Fury - 1988

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Oh, God! - 1977

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reptilicus - 1961

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Poseidon Rex - 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Amityville: The Evil Escapes - 1989

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Starship Invasions - 1977

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Blood Beat - 1983

Thus we come to another edition of "watched at work".  I will first apologize for being away for a little while there.  Celebrating 31 years old as of March 30th, I went camping.  I did take with me a little iPad like device with tons of bad movies on it, however the piece of shit had no battery power and I didn't get to watch a single one.

Blood Beat is an extremely obscure horror film from 1983.  It's in the realm of holiday movies, though I couldn't tell you why they decided to have this be set around Christmas time.  It's anyone's guess, they basically just needed any reason to have a bunch of older kids coming home to their parents, and I guess Christmas was a good excuse as any.

The title comes up and immediately you'll notice the awesome soundtrack.  Done by the director and his brother, the music in this movie is fucking great.  It's loopy, but also really good at times, and it's definitely 80's synth weirdness in it's full glory.  Like I said, kids are coming home for Christmas.  Ted and his girlfriend Sarah come to Ted's house, and Ted's mom immediately notices something weird about Sarah.   Ted's mom, Cathy, is not so normal herself.  It seems she goes into regular trances, paints bizarre pictures, and might be psychic.

Soon Sarah is afraid of Cathy, Ted's caught in the middle, people around the area are starting to die, and in the meantime Sarah finds an old samurai outfit near her bed.  That's when things turn ugly.  There's a few confrontations which boils to a head in an awkward family living room scene.  Also, some things are filmed in ways where you...can't quite tell what's going on.  It is accompanied well with dialogue that fades in and out and isn't mastered well with the music.  Scenes you can't see, words you can't hear!

It is easy to follow though, and soon there's a samurai warrior in the house, hunting everyone.  The samurai is linked to Sarah, and more specifically to Sarah's sex drive.  Cathy is intent on painting, and shuts all her family out.  Innocent family members Gary, Ted, Paul and Christie are all seemingly at the mercy of this samurai.  About 20 minutes before the end, they randomly up Cathy's powers as well.  Soon enough she has glowing hands, and it also turns out her kids have psychic power.  Well, two of her kids do.  Her son Ted doesn't seem to have them.

If the plot sounds vaguely confusing, that would be because it is.  It's not terrible, it's just that there isn't explanation of anything.  And I mean ever.  There is literally never anything explained in this movie.  Why is Sarah controlling a samurai?  How is she linked to the samurai?  Spoilers I guess, we do gather the Cathy and Sarah are related, possibly linked through stock footage of World War 2 (?) and then Sarah kills Cathy.

I find the making of the movie to be an interesting untold story.  The sole feature of director Fabrice Zaphiratos, he was a French director filming in Wisconsin, about a killer Japanese samurai.  There simply must be a story here, but who knows what that story is.  I wonder if any other French directors did any horror movies in Wisconsin in the 80s?  Good question, right?
Although I guess it does explain why a rural Wisconsin home has a "France" poster.

It was what I would describe as "oddly watchable".  It's the kind of movie that moves quickly enough and has enough weird qualities to make you keep watching.  The ending is a cluster-fuck, but that's the only let down.  All in all, it's a weird romp in definite riff fodder, and would be a fantastic weed film.  3 stars.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Star Crystal - 1986

At one point in Star Crystal, main good guy Campbell tells a fake story about how he is an heir to the Campbell's soup line.  This was about the turning point of the movie, I remember.  The thing about Alien copycats is that they have a really good original movie they could copy, that and in space, with aliens, with sci fi, ANYTHING is possible.  Have the alien be able to move through walls, whatever!  You have a golden ticket to do whatever you want.  So why did it turn into something so awful?!

45 minutes of Star Crystal is almost solid.  The beginning isn't first rate, it's not an A movie ever in it's 90 minute run, but it's solid and it works.  You have an expedition to Mars that disappears.  Then you have a spaceship sent to investigate.  Campbell and crew are on board, and they bring back with them a curiously Alien looking egg.  It hatches, an alien comes out, and they have to end up blowing up their ship and escaping in the shuttle craft.  Then it's going to take them around a year and a half to make it back to Earth since the shuttle can't fly very fast.  Of course, since the alien stowed about their shuttle, they won't make it nearly that long.

I knew something would get fucked when literally all the unimportant characters died in the first 30-40 minutes of the movie.  Like great, now there's two people left which means that either 1) movie slows down a whole lot and the dialogue gets drawn out pointlessly, or 2) The plot gets all weird, and something stupid will happen.  That's a general rule when the movie is badly paced.  In Star Crystal, both of these horribly not-awesome things happen!

Yep it's a double dip as we watch Captain Campbell and Adrian making cute and getting to know each other.  Then we also have the alien creature, which, for some reason turns from Alien into ET.  That's exactly what this movie is.  This is Alien meets ET, and it's also I should say, a rather dumbed down Alien to begin with.

Spoilers, I guess, the alien turns out to be good, all the deaths were because it was protecting itself.  It's also hyper intelligent, started controlling the shuttle craft, and now wants to get into good relations with the humans.  Oh god, and there's even a horrendous scene where the alien and the Campbell are playing checkers or something later.  Please note that when you used to buy this on VHS, it probably came with razor blades so one could kill oneself if so desired.

I barely even remember what actually happened in the end of this movie.  I will admit I actually fell asleep during a part of this.  The worst part of this movie is that it had potential!  The beginning was great!  Okay, not great, but decent.  But why, 45 minutes in, make it a kids movie?  And it is straight kids.  There isn't a single moment in the rest of the film that cool, scary, interesting, zero.  And I get it.  Rated R didn't used to be so excluding to kids.  I remember playing with Terminator and Predator toys when I was a kid.  Rated R used to mean watch it first, and if it's not super offensive, then show it to your kids!  Heck, maybe Rated R still means that.  I'm no parent.  But there aren't toys made for kids from these films anymore, at least.

What else can I say about this....Well, I didn't hate it.  I just didn't like it.  It failed me when it turned all ET and kiddy.  Seriously, what were they thinking?  You would lose any of the older audience with that, and kids would have been lost by the beginning, which is kind of violent, and almost scary at times.  That's to me, so yes, a kid would be scared by it.

In the end, I dunno, I guess a 2 star rating is fine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Friday the 13th - 2009

So I will be the first the admit that my reviews for the entirety of time post 1990 are minimal.  I dunno.  I'm not gonna argue or anything.  I love older movies more than modern films.  I liked the intention behind older films so much more, and that's one of those indefinable things that I could go on and on about.

I think the internet age especially is one where we don't have to try and make movies for everyone anymore.  We can be just fine making films for a niche audience, and surviving by reaching that niche online.  I'm not saying that movies before the internet had to be designed for a mainstream audience.  What I'm saying is that producers and filmmakers used to have some sort of an idea of what they would need to do to be watchable by a large audience and not be hated.  It seems that more and more films are trying to go against the grain and be weird just to get an internet following, just to attain that legendary cult status.

Not the greatest lead in to Friday the 13th, in fact Friday the 13th has nothing to do with any of this, I'm just thinking about it.  Friday the 13th is a film that I saw in theaters when it first came out.  I remember not liking it.  Then I never watched it again until like 3 nights ago.  I thought about either reviewing this or the defining, 5-star film Falling Down with Michael Douglas.  There's a lot I could say about Falling Down here, but suffice to say that it's a fantastic film, and it's a shame that the writer never did anything else.

Friday the 13th is flawed, there is no doubt about that.  I have a new friend that I've been hanging out with, we're both huge horror film fans.  He lent me the 13th, and I was texting him about it later that night.  He said, a movie to me is good if it's entertaining.  And yes, this movie is entertaining.  But I'm sorry, it must take more than that.  Friday the 13th is entertaining, and in fact it's not even all bad.  It just in no way is a great film, and barely even a good one.

In the pre-credit sequence, we get a flashback of Jason's mother as she is in her last moments. Then cut to present day as Jason kills some guys by the lake as they look for a marijuana farm that's out there.  The kills in the beginning, and in the movie entirely, are an easy highlight.  That is one point I will say they did well, is that most the kills are good or at least decent.  They reference the famous sleeping bag death from Friday the 13th Part 7, and there's the standard machete kills.

Then you have a group of young asshole friends staying at their buddies cabin in the woods....will they never learn?  They're accompanied by hunky drifter Clay, and basically they do the same as the marijuana hunters.  They have sex, they dick around, and the dialogue drains your will to live as well as the bottle of malt liquor you brought to cut the pain.  I'm really trying to remember if there's anything else noteworthy about the plot, but you know what I'm pretty sure that's truly it.

The reason this is entertaining, and even watchable, is that it does bring some interesting concepts to the table.  It has a girl that experiments with trying to pretend she's Jason's mom, it has Jason's own cabin he's staying in with some cool sequences there, and it has lots of kill filler, or "kifiller".  It also has Jason be more human than he was in some of those previous sequel series.  He gets injured, he gets slowed down, he gets knocked out.  The Jason in this is average.  It was the first time that Kane Hodder wasn't Jason in quite a while, and the actor I guess is fine.  I didn't like the close ups of his eye expressions in the mask, but other than that he's fine as a big killer guy.

As it finished though, and they blatantly ripped off the original 1980 Friday the 13th, I had an odd feeling.  I wished, for perhaps the first time, that there were second-second rate sequels to this installment.  For some reason, despite the fact that the sequels sometimes ruin the film entirely, I thought it'd be incredibly fun to watch, say, a 2011 Friday the 13th where Jason terrorizes a girl scout team that is on a nature hike.  Some part of me really wanted to see that.  And that was a really cool feeling.

As I grow older, or maybe as these films grow older, parts of me likes them more.  I remember dismissing this movie almost entirely when I first saw it 8 years ago.  And sure, it sucks.  But is it THAT bad?  No.  I don't think so.  It tries, and you know what, it's got some cool things that happen.  Sometimes that's all it takes.  3 stars.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mill Creek's Sci-Fi Invasion - Box Set Review

Mill Creek is kind of like the slumlord of DVD boxsets.  Anyone with a shady past and a few measly dollars to his name can be put up for a night as long as they don't cause any waves and the cops don't come around asking questions.  Mill Creek somehow asks people to cough up $30 for this boxset, but you can find it for way cheaper online.  In fact, since I know no one reads this blog, I'm going to offer up my boxset for FREE if you comment on my blogs.

If my memory serves me right, I first became aware of this set via an online review of it.  Although I can't seem to find the review right now, I read a breakdown of the set, and the authors thoughts about the movies therein.  I love to read introspective and personal reviews, even when it has little to do with the movie, so naturally this was right up my alley.  If you're super interested, read this review I just found, where two people discuss every single film in the set.

As I've mentioned before, some of the movies included on this set, I'd seen and reviewed before I owned them on the Sci Fi Invasion set.  The Alien Factor, Brain Twisters, Death Machines, The Day Time Ended, It's Alive, Horror High, and War of the Robots are all films that I'm pretty sure I saw outside of the boxset, because they interested me in one form or another.

I'm not going to go in depth about all these.  Well, okay, actually, I am.  I keep on waffling about this review.  I was just going to give each movie a final star rating.  So what I think I'll do is 4-5 word synopsis, 1-2 sentence final thoughts.  Kinda like I did with the other boxsets I've reviewed on the site so far.  I'm debating links.  Links take so fucking long!  Alright, I might even bequeath you with links.  And now, with the help of Close to the Edge by prog rock band Yes, I present:

(in alphabetical order)
984: Prisoner of the Future: Dystopian prison society drama.  This was a TV pilot, not picked up obviously.  It was alright, I gave it one star, and it possibly deserved more.  I'll give it 3 now.
Abraxas: Terminator-Lite with Jesse Ventura.  Stupid kids version of Terminator, only enjoyable if you're high.  2.5 stars? The fuck was I thinking?  I give it a retrospective 1.
The Alien Factor: Bizarre alien attacks people.  Don Dohler is one of my fave new directors, and this one is pretty good.  It's not as fun as some of his others, so only 3 stars. Seen before the boxset.
Alien Prey: Alien posing a human lives with two women.  Progressive, interesting, if perhaps ill executed little flick.  Had that surreal feeling to it, and deserved watching.  3.5 stars.
Assassin: Terminator-Lite made for TV version.  Talky drama where the machine is more discussed as a threat than seen as a threat.  Still, it wasn't badly made, so 3 stars.
The Bat: Murder whodunnit with Vincent Price.  It reminded me a bit of the old radio drama The Shadow, I now realize.  Still, not that good, very talky, and felt not quite fleshed out.  2 stars.
Battle Beyond the Sun: Russian space adventure.  Hm, better poster than a movie right here.  Long space flight scenes, short vagina monster scenes in the end.  Pretty forgettable, 1.5 stars in retrospect.
Beyond the Moon: Rocky Jones fights evil aliens.  These serials really got to me after a little bit.  They were so lifeless, barely had effects, and the acting was dull.  1 star in retrospect.
Brain Twisters: Are computer experiments to blame for recent killings?  Yes.  Before the Sci Fi Invasion set, this was on Gorehouse Greats.  It was fun but dumb.  2 stars.
The Brother From Another Planet: Alien that looks like a black man lands in NY.  A comedy, a satire, and one of the newest films on the set.  Interesting, but overly long I'd say.  3.5 stars.
The Crater Lake Monster: Loch Ness style monster in a lake.  Another comedy, and a so-bad-it's-great classic I'd argue.  This one was actually a highlight, and a good one to show people.  4 stars
The Creeping Terror: A bizarre rug monster alien attacks people.  A MST3K classic, a great little piece of trash which is deserving of a view by anyone who likes bad movies.  5 stars.
The Day Time Ended: Aliens do battle in a desert on Earth.  This movie kicked ass.  I have actually watched it since with people.  Love the surreal and bizarre qualities.  5 stars.
Death Machines: Karate robots are sent to kill people.  Long, dull, and chock full of badly done fight scenes, this movie made me want to kill myself.  I gave it zero stars. Seen before the set.
Escape from Galaxy 3: Two aliens land on Earth, bringing conflict with them.  Kiddy, lighthearted, and silly, but still somewhat entertaining maybe.  If you're stoned.  2.5 stars.
Evil Brain from Outer Space: Starman fights alien invaders.  The end of the Starman series of films, easily the most enjoyable serial film I've ever seen. I gave it 3.5?  Wow.  Maybe only 3 I think.
Extraterrestrial Visitors: One evil alien in the woods, one good alien in a house!  Another MST classic, without the commentary it's still a fun kids movie I'd watch again.  4 stars.
Eyes Behind the Stars: Mystery flick with an alien twist.  I watched it twice, sober the second time.  It's a well done mystery, but overly long at times and has some plot holes.  4 stars.
Fugitive Alien: Incomprehensible serial installment.  I've literally seen this movie about 4 times, and I could not tell you what it's got happening in it.  It looks kinda cool though.  Half a star.
Future Hunters: Indiana Jones-esque action flick.  A pretty decent action movie involving the spear that killed Christ and the people who want to capture it.  With Robert Patrick!  3 stars. 
Future Women: A spy infiltrates a woman-run society/cult.  Pretty tame in the end, this was a slow action/suspense film which was really neither.  What the hell was this movie?  2.5 star?  Maybe 1.
Galaxina: "comedy" set in space with robots and shit.  Another movie with no real genre.  I guess adventure comedy, not funny, without much adventure.  Not even rated R.  1 star.
The Giant of Metropolis: Muscle man fights Atlantis.  Maybe I was super hard on it, but I really wasn't in the mood.  It also brought nothing new to the table.  1.5 stars.
The Gypsy Moon:  Rocky Jones fights evil aliens.  Another bland Rocky serial, who knows and who cares what the plot was.  These were insufferable.  1 star in retrospect.
Hands of Steel: Cyborg warrior defends a woman in a desert town. Another one that I thought I should rewatch and never did, but at least it seems I understood this one.  Fun sci fi.  3.5 stars.
The Head: A scientist plays with a disembodied head and other experiments.  I loved the atmosphere in this.  This film had great acting, great pacing, and was just plain fantastic.  I gave it 5 stars.
Horror High: Scientific experiment turns a student into a beast.  Ahead of it's time horror movie with slasher-type pacing and feeling.  Also a horror comedy, one of the first I'd say.  4.5 stars.
Hundra: Conan the Barbarian with women!  Hundra was quickly thrown together after Conan was a hit, and it's Conan with women.  it's pretty good actually, a fun action movie to put on. 3 stars.
Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star: Friendly aliens land on Earth and make friends.  A kids alien movie with a fucking muppet creature and no inherent reason to watch it.  1.5 stars.
Invaders from Space: An earlier installment of the same Starman series as Evil Brain from Outer Space.  Not as entertaining, it's less linear and harder to watch than Brain. 3 stars, downgraded to 2.
It's Alive: A greasy dude has a trapped dinosaur.  I seriously thought about rewatching It's Alive.  I probably will still.  It's Z grade, in entertainment value and production.  So I give it....2 stars maybe?
Life Returns: Experiments bring a dog back to life.  A weird backstory and a weird film in general.  In retrospect, this was barely even a film.  It has a strong weirdness factor, didn't translate to screen as well as it could've.  But it is possibly one of the more interesting things on here.  1.5 upgraded to 3.
The Manster: A man's injected with a serum that makes him grow a new head.  Very well known cult film, 50's horror chock full of awesome.  Very classically entertaining with fun effects.  4 stars.
Mission Stardust: Aliens with a hidden agenda come to Earth.  This movie was perhaps better than I gave it credit for.  I was in the "slump" this boxset caused me to have. Very slow though. 2 stars.
Morons from Outer Space: Human looking aliens come to Earth and are celebrities.  A "comedy" that wasn't funny, and was pretty dull.  No real laughs, but a good idea I suppose. Half a star. I was harsh.
Night Fright: Alien kills people.  This movie would've been way better if it had been filmed in any way that was even slightly competent.  Bad lighting, bad setting, bad pacing, the whole deal. 2 stars.
Night of the Blood Beast: An astronaut brings an alien presence with him back to Earth.  Although it's pretty average mostly, I'd say the pacing is a bit slower and it's not as fun as it could've been.  3 stars.
Primal Impulse: A woman has no memory of the last few days and starts to gather clues.  A genuinely creepy mystery that moves at a great pace and keeps you wondering.  Well done, 4 star film.
ROTOR: Android gets loose and kills anyone on a list.  Sorta like a hybrid Terminator and Robocop, but far less exciting than either of those.  Featuring an android with a mullet.  3 stars.
The Raiders of Atlantis: Atlantis is raised from the ocean, people investigate.  An interesting mix of Mad Max and action adventure.  Well paced, decent effects, and a cool villain.  4 stars.
Robo Vampire: Hopping vampires versus a trashcan robot.  Insanely weird, very Asian kung fu sci fi hybrid that is equal parts nutty as it is fucking kickass.  Essential for cult enthusiasts.  5 stars.
Rocket Attack USA: Russians are going to maybe launch an attack against US.  A special agent investigates, in what is mostly dull dialogue scenes.  Does feature millions of deaths though. 2 stars.
Silver Needle in the Sky: Rocky Jones fights alien baddies.  Despite being high and drunk, I couldn't enjoy Rocky Jones, cause it's fucking boring and makes no point.  3 stars?  Fuck that, how about 1.
Slipstream: A robot escapes the evil government with the help of a drifter. The late Bill Paxton and Mark Hamill lead a great cast, in a surreal adventure film, but it's still not that great.  Maybe a 3 though instead of my original 2.  Just wasted potential.
Star Knight: Mystery film about an astronaut in medieval days.  Weird and surreal, but thoroughly enjoyable film with Klaus Kinski.  It was weird but good, and really memorable. 2.5, 3.5
Star Pilot: A spaceship is found on Earth by explorers. Some of these movies just struck me as odd and hard to follow.  This was definitely one of them.  Confusing, albeit interesting flick. 1.5 stars.
Top Line: UFO found in the Amazon, and cyborgs somehow....  Yeah this one was also confusing.  It's an enjoyable sci fi flick, but you might get as confused as I did, and it's forgettable. 2.5 stars.
Trapped by Television: A new invention gets exploited by those who know of it's existence.  Perhaps the least "sci fi" on the boxset, this one was very old and not enough material to be a movie. 1.5 stars.
War of the Robots: Italian Star Wars rip off.  Very strange, very hard to follow, though admittedly awesome at times Star Wars influenced space adventure film.  Fun, but hard to watch.  3 stars.
Welcome to Blood City: Westworld-esque sciency mystery film.  Another weird one.  Surreal, super bizarre, and had great actors.  Has it's flaws, naturally.  3.5 stars.

So good god, it's over.  Wow.  There are so many reflections I could have on it now, seeing all those synopses.  I have to say though, 22 of the films got below 3 stars, which means the majority of these I gave at least 3 stars.  So, 28 at least somewhat decent movies.  Also, on reflections I ended up liking films more than I originally had.  Such as Life Returns, I doubled the original score.  

I think one of the major things that contributed to a lot of these getting bad marks was inconsistency.  They'd have moments, times when they were awesome.  They'd have things happen, or have effects, or actors, that I loved.  But then they'd kill any momentum they had with lots of bad, long, poorly written scenes, or endless dialogue, or by just being confusing.  I remember really wanting to like some of these only to later be sitting there wondering, "Why am I fucking watching this?"

Some of these should be seen again, most definitely.  Some of them I was not in the mood for, and that alone can set you off on a bad path.  I might have explained in my review of Footprints on the Moon, that I was really tuned into that movie, and I was 100% invested.  Some of these films might have been requiring more attention then I wanted to give them.  I'm also not ruling out the idea that these could have been edited away from what they originally were.  No information is given about most of them.  A lot of them were dubbed, and I truly wonder how accurate the dialogue is- if there is anything cut, etc.

As a whole, I'd give the box set perhaps 3.5 stars.  As a whole, as a beast.  I think most of the films are enjoyable.  Even if they are public domain, they are still hard to find, and some of the ones on here are downright impossible to find anywhere but on these type of boxsets.  I doubt I'll be buying another one any time soon, though I have been eyeing B-Movie Blast for a while. Also, there's a Warriors one and a Kung Fu one of course....  What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment.  Punishment and tacos.