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 (sure, that works) was second rate, 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 artistic 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.  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 stars....no, 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.

The Giant of Metropolis - 1961

Ugh, what a way to end the boxset.  You hear me, sci fi invasion, I fucking killed you!  You as the casual reader that doesn't exist won't know this, but I've had the sci fi invasion boxset sitting right next to my DVD player for over a year.  I mean, why put it away?  I knew I had more movies from it to watch!  So I kept it right there, and I watched things from it, and NOW I can move it, finally!

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....see my next review, of the boxset, for now I guess I'll stick to the movie.

What the fuck can I say about The Giant of Metropolis?  First of all, there is no giant in it.  It instead has Gordon Mitchell as some giantly muscled up dude name Obro or Ohro, on IMDB it has both names in different places, and he is the through and through good guy that is gonna help out Atlantis.

I wondered while I watched this, well more specifically I wonder right now, why have all these movies taking place in Atlantis?  It's like they were afraid by putting this in Greece or Rome or something that they'd be declared as false.  And I get it, they're based on myths.  But I'm just saying, what are the chances that people saw these movies because they were looking for accurate depictions of myths?  I'm guessing that these movies weren't watched by scholars who were interested in ancient myths of Atlantis and Hercules and shit.  They were probably watched by kids, teens, and young adults who just wanted fun entertainment.

Anyways, Obro is just your average beefcake guy that is wandering around when he gets involved in the happenings at Atlantis.  Evil scientist Yotar is causing problems, and it's up to Obro and princess Mecede to try and stop him.  There are regrettably no test-your-strength scenes, so the movie lags a bit.  In fact, this movie felt like it was almost incomplete.  It does have that typical fashion of saving all the action for the ass end of the film, but even once that happens it still felt hollow and incomplete.

These types of films are best when there's more characters, or where the characters are truly challenged in one way or another.  In this, there is never a conflict, everything is straight as an arrow as we watch Obro be good, and Yotar be evil.  Shot in Italy, it looks okay, and the acting is a fine-whatever type of thing, but in the end I'd say it's a sub-par sword and sandal flick, even as lowbrow as sword and sandal flicks of the 60's went.
1.5 stars.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Evil Brain from Outer Space - 1964

This Sci Fi Invasion entry serves as the last bit (I think, I hope) of the Japanese serial Super Giant, which Invaders from Space is also a part.  In retrospect, I think that Invaders from Space could have been better if it had been the beginning of the film series, or if I had seen the film series that took place before it.

Evil Brain serves as the end of the series, and in that respect I found it much more enjoyable than Invaders from Space.  Could just be that I was excited that this was the second to last film I have to watch in the set, but for whatever reason, I was damn happy just to be there, watching it, in all it's shoddy glory.

Not to say this movie is good.  It most certainly isn't good.  First of all, this is a 78 minute film which was edited out of almost 3 hours worth of TV shows.  No one would ever state that this movie was "linear" or "made sense" without taking many things into account.  But it seems like, since this movie is mostly dull filler, a lot of that almost 3 hours must've been even worse filler, cause this movie still does make sense, in a way.  It certainly was easier for me to follow in comparison to Invaders from Space, and I was actually understanding what was happening in the end part.

I'm sure the original Japanese version didn't have the narration, and I'm also sure they changed the literal things that the people were saying to that this movie made sense.  I'm just, sure of it at this point.  With all that editing going on, nothing would make sense otherwise.

In Evil Brain from Outer Space, we begin with a brain in a suitcase being lost by the man carrying it.  That brain was Balazar, who had been assassinated.  Once the brain gets loose, aliens start to be a problem for Starman, the tights-clad superhero with the stuffed crotch area (actually, it really was stuffed!).  But it seems most of the first part of this movie actually follows a little boy who's name I forget.

The kid goes to see a doctor who is actually an alien, and it's the slow figuring this out segment which I liked.  There's all these secret doors and hidden switches in the garden outside, which I thought was really neat.  It made me wonder, back in the 60's especially, how they might have gotten something real like that to work.  I'm sure in the film, it was stage hands, wiring, off camera effects.  But I just wonder how you'd really get a huge door to swing open, or a entire platform to lower, just by flipping a little switch or something.  I want a house with a hidden passageway or something!

Anyways, the end of the film is also pretty cool.  I'd be hard pressed to tell ya what happened, I saw this movie like 3 days ago, but I know I liked it, and it made sense.  And I was glad that I'd seen an actual part of the series that was important, instead of random middle parts, which is why I didn't like Invaders from Space, or any of those fucking Rocky movies (or similar).

One thing which I was just doing was going through the actors in this series, the minor guys that didn't have character names or parts that I remembered.  Just to see what else they were in, if they were real actors, if I've seen them in anything else.  It's kinda fun.  Some random actors have been in other films I've seen, a guy was in Jigoku, someone was in a film with Sonny Chiba, etc.

So this one gets a unrepentant 3.5 stars, and I have only ONE film left to go!

Night of the Blood Beast - 1958

Night of the Blood Beast is gonna be thematically similar to the Pod People / Extra Terrestrial Visitors review because this is another film I was more familiar with from MST3K.  This episode of MST in particular is not as great as the Pod People episode, however it's still a good one that I've seen a handful of times and that I remember parts of.  The same director also did Attack of the Giant Leeches, also featured in MST.

Keeping this review pretty short, Blood Beast is about an astronaut that crash lands on Earth.  He is apparently dead from the crash, and Steve and Dave and Julie are on the scene to check out what happened.  Then they discover the body is still in decent shape, and rigor mortis and everything is going slowly, so they take it for further study.  Eventually, the astronaut John gets back up, is apparently fine, and is now linked to an alien creature that is causing chaos in the town.  John is receiving communiques from the alien, and now the humans have no choice but to listen to what he says if they wants their man back.

This is a pretty typical 50's monster movie, first off.  It's mostly dialogue, Corman was involved in it, and the effects are minimal while the drama and the build is most the flick.  I will say that it's done pretty well, in that the average 50's flick is still fun to watch, enjoyable enough.  They make is clear that there is possibly more to the story than we're let onto at first, as it seems like the alien might be good, and it might just have been an accident that it caused the death of a man.

Hmmmmm....what else to say.  Filmed in Bronson Canyon, like so many films of the era.  Oh, the alien looks fucking ridiculous, like some bizarre parrot monster:
Also of note is that this is one of the (drum roll) last THREE films on the Sci Fi Invasion Boxset and I am SOOOOOO close.  A slightly better-than-average 3 stars.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Rocket Attack USA - 1958

Hm.  I wonder why IMDb lists this movie as 1961, then down the page, shows a release date of 1958.  Wikipedia says 1958 also.  No information given about why this would be, and since it felt more to me like 1958 than 1961, I'm changing my entry title to 1958.

Ah, the Cold War.  A time when it seemed whoever had the better technology would decide a lot about the future of the human race.  When the Soviets launched the Sputnik into space as the first satellite, it sent shivers up the spine of many an American.  Someone somewhere thought, you know what we need is awareness.  We need to make Americans feel like they have to act, and they have to act now.  So, a little propaganda film called Rocket Attack USA was green lit, and now almost 60 years later we can look back on it and laugh, as it sits in obscurity on the Sci Fi Invasion boxset.

This movie is one of those simple narrative stories.  John is a secret agent who is sent to Russia to investigate what they're up to.  He has a far less exciting way to get there then than any competent thriller or nail biter, and pretty soon he's in the general area.  In the meantime, we have cutaways to the Russians as they plan the launching of an ICBM attack against the US.  The agent discovers that the Russian leader has an American girl he's banging on the side, and he gets information from her about the space program and the missile status.

Pretty soon, things are coming to a head.  John the spy decides he must go and see for himself.  He sneaks in, and gets spotted.  Perhaps then, it was his own fault when the Russians decide they can't wait, and proceed with their plans to launch the missile.

I was just trying to decide if it was progressive or not to have one of the main characters in the film be a prostitute.  She's the girl that's fucking the Russian man, although it's implied she may be doing it "just to do it" she is in general what the 50's would consider "an immoral person".  Having her front and center could be seen as progressive.  Similarly, they actually give the Russians screen time, and they also aren't pure evil, which goes quite against many other films of this era that I've seen.

Anyhow, all that aside, it's a pretty average flick.  There's a few badly done sequences, particularly one with a blind man who is trying to escape once the ICBM is launched towards the US.  I guess spoilers would be in line here, sorry.  They do launch the missile, and it's implied that the US is destroyed.  So in other words, we dead.  Why do I suddenly have the strong desire to watch some backwoods slasher instead of reviewing this movie?  It's a mystery to anyone.

This one can have 2 stars.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Extra Terrestrial Visitors - 1983

Also known, (better to me) as Pod People.  Also, The Return of ET, The Unearthling, Visitor, The New Extraterrestrials, and more.

This is the very well known rip off of ET that was featured on MST3K and was recently voted as one of their top ten episodes ever by the fans.  I do have to agree that this film is extremely good material to riff on, and it was a great episode for those guys.  I tend to like a lot of the obscure MST episodes that aren't fan favorites, but this is a "gimme" because the kookiness of the early seasons of MST matches perfectly with the kookiness of the movie.

Watching it without riffing, I first turned it off immediately.  I decided I wasn't going to watch it, because the movie itself was ruined for me by MST.  MST does such a good treatment, it's an episode I've seen so many times, and I could literally start remembering the riffs as they would've happened in the treatment, so I didn't think I could make it through the whole flick.  But, that was about 6 months ago, and I gave it another shot, and watched it to completion. 

This was originally going to be a violent alien film much like any ol' horror flick from the 80's set in the woods with evil aliens.  But ET was a huge success, they decided to copy that instead, and made what was supposedly an almost sequel.  And it is pretty similar.  Alien lands, little boy Tommy finds alien egg, takes it home to have it hatch to a little alien guy that has magic powers.  In the meantime, a group of campers encounter the mother alien, which accidentally kills one of their friends.  They find Tommy's house, and ask his parents for help.  Tommy's alien, Trumpy, and the mother alien look the same, so naturally when it's uncovered that Tommy has an alien, shit hits the fan.


As a kids film, it's much more accessible than the other "kids movies" on this boxset.  This is a film which I might actually show a kid.  It's weird, but fun, and it actually has appeal in the ways that you'd expect.  The whole film goes by innocently enough, and it has no major hurt or anything to it.  In fact, I'd be hard pressed to say anything truly negative about it besides the fact that it's so second rate in nature.  But shit, if I saw this and not ET, I'd probably like this a lot.  ET is a good film of course, but this one has that isolation factor to it, it's also got a less complex plot, and I would argue that having one kid in Pod People versus a whole gang in ET makes this one more identifiable to people like me that didn't have a lot of friends when they were kids.

Maybe I've been jaded by seeing this as a MST episode, however I truly did enjoy this in a way.  It's got that 80's charm, and the low budget charm as well.  One thing about ET I never really liked was the whole third or whatever act where the government guys have ET and ET is dying and Elliot has to save him....that part got bogged down for me and has a lot of things that I think an adult would appreciate more.  This film is almost more childish, except for the one "F word" and some sexual dialogue.

Anyways, it's not like a competition.  Besides having friendly magic aliens that hang out with kids, these films barely have anything in common anyways.  So I'm over it.  I'd argue that this film is one of the more surreal and bizarre in the boxset, one of the more enjoyable films, and one that is at least very memorable.  And for that, 4 stars.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Footprints on the Moon - 1975

Also known as "The Footprints" - literal translation of Le Orme. And "Primal Impulse," huh, what?  I saw it under that last name on the Sci Fi Invasion boxset.  In what is sure to be an introspective and serviceable entry, I review it now!

I will admit first and foremost that I had completely lost enthusiasm for this boxset.  It droned on for way too long, and I have to say that even though I only have 5 or so movies left I am still considering not finishing it.  It just drains my desire to watch films.  I somehow think I'll never look at movies the same after seeing this boxset, more because I'll be wondering what kept some random movie from 1963 OFF the set.  Like, who still claims the rights to it, when will it be public domain, and what meaning it has that it's released on solo DVD (if it is).

Footprints on the Moon, however, is the exact reason I watch sets like this.  This film is great.  I say that with both pride and an eruption of joy for the set itself.  Footprints on the Moon is one of those types of movies I love.  It's got a real interesting mystery.  It's got a interesting and hidden main character that we both feel empathy for but slightly distrust.  It's got a high level of bizarreness to it that makes it feel almost David Lynchian.  And it's got a real slow, developing storyline that would be easy to dismiss and find dull, but if you're into it it wraps you up with suspense.  What's more, it's got a great soundtrack.

Alice is a woman that we never get a complete picture of.  She's a single woman, strong but emotionless.  She wakes up one day to discover that she doesn't remember the last few days, but there are signs that she was awake and active during those days.  Alice finds small clues that lead her to other clues.  She discovers that there is an island called Garma that is connected, as well as a dress that appears in her closet and is her size.  Also, random memories of an old film she saw called Footprints on the Moon keep running through her mind.

She follows the clues to the island of Garma, where more clues pile up, a little girl named Mary and some of the town residents seem to know her.  From there, the plot continues on as such.  Alice has a lot of reveals and gains parts of the puzzle, some pieces leading to more questions instead of providing the answers.  The haunting score drives the mystery home.  I can tell Academy Award winning composers by the sound they create and I knew the guy that did this was good.  Yup.  Academy Award for Life is Beautiful composer.  Also of note is the cinematography, beautifully captured despite pan and scan formatting.  3 time Academy Award winner Vittorio Storaro really captures this film well.

In the end, I really liked this.  The great score, the weirdness factor, and the mystery of it all made me really reminded of Mulholland Drive, which I saw again recently.  I see now where David Lynch perhaps gets some of his inspiration from.  The strong female lead is definitely a missing ingredient in a lot of films, and Florinda Bolkan does a great job as a leading character.

The mystery payoff at the end is also one of those that you have to be paying attention to.  This movie is not one that you should watch without paying attention, although I do have to say that even paying attention I'm not sure I "got" what was going on.  It's left a bit vague, and that was the right call in my opinion.  So, see it and decide for yourself.  4 stars.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Future Women - 1969

Also known as: Rio 70, The Girl from Rio, River 70, Mothers of America, and The Seven Secrets of Sumuru.  That's not even all of them, that's a selection.  Called the Future Women title on my sci fi invasion boxset.

Jess Franco strikes again, which means low budgets and near exploitation level filmmaking.  This is classic exploitation, however it's still that definition of which I don't agree.  But I'll accept it.  It's not overly sexual or anything either, it's pretty much by the numbers and average for a 69 actioner film that is as much James Bond imitating as it is a late women-rule-the-world-how-wacky. Whatever gave birth to that awful concept, and also what happened to it?  Seems like that used to be such a thing, especially alien girls...

This time, it's a sort of sequel to the Million Eyes of Sumuru, which is a film I have seen since it's a MST3K episode.  Though I don't remember it, it's interesting to think I've seen the prequel to this as I watch it.  Of course, it's very loose in terms of prequel/sequel thing.  The woman in this is not even called Sumuru, but rather Sumitra or something like that.

Basically Sumitra in this is a power hungry leader of a group of women.  She wants to take over the world as she sees fit, which will put men in an awkward place.  She captures several people including Ulla Rossini, who soon has main character Jeff sent to bring her back.  They know Sumitra needs money so they say that Jeff has 10 million dollars somewhere.  She captures him, intent on getting the money, and he discloses to Ulla he is actually there to rescue her.

Since it has a plot and it's not just skin, I looked at it from that point of view instead of looking at it as a sex flick.  It has a small amount of nudity as does most of Franco's work, however nothing huge in this one.  It's actually pretty plot driven, and the actors are decent as well.  No real effects, and minimistic in shot, I'm sure because it was low, low budget.

In the end, it was an alright film.  I'm not going to give it the torch or say it was great, it was just straight down the middle average, "eh" of a film

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe - 1990

That ol' Sci Fi Invasion boxset is so close to being finished I can taste it.  I think I have about 3-4 movies left.  And I'm going to have to some major site scouring to figure out exactly which ones are even left.  I don't remember from the names of these things, and even IMDb is hard to tell cause some of the names of the movies are different from what it's listed as online.



Abraxas is on the outskirts of well known stupid culty films, and it's no doubt because it stars Jesse Ventura in a dumbed down Terminator clone.  It's kiddy, it's stupid, and it has nothing it brings to the table besides basic movie presence.  I guess the cast is good enough.  Sven Ole-Thorsen as a villain with a giant accent much like Schwarzenegger is fun, and Jim Belushi in a small role.  The girl is a decent actress even if I haven't seen her in anything else and she hasn't acted for over 20 years.



This was at a weird time in Hollywood.  I think that movies and producers were starting to realize they couldn't market R rated movies to kids, and so they were dumbing them down.  Abraxas is really a PG approach to Terminator, but still with some of that leftover 80's mentality.  It had a budget, that's not the problem really, the problem is that it has no real interest factor and brings nothing new to the table, and instead seems content to basically be Terminator-Lite.



An alien comes to Earth and impregnates main girl Sonia.  Soon enough, Abraxas and Secundus (Sven Ole Thorsen) also come to Earth.  Secundus is after the girl because he wants her baby, Abraxas is guarding her from Secundus and his evil plan.  So basically Abraxas is Kyle Reese and Secundus is Arnold's Terminator.  The woman in this is just a weak loser, not a strong character like Linda Hamilton in Terminator.



That's really it.  It has a bit more attempts at "comedy" because in this movie, Abraxas and Secundus are both robots.  Or, not specifically robots, but some sort of artificially enhanced human type things.  They are immortal, they have robotic enhancements, and they have a voice that is built into them that is sort of like Siri for Terminators.  This is their "Answer Box" which interjects at times with things it says that are either "funny" or "smart" but are actually neither.



The movie goes how you'd expect if you saw Terminator.  Abraxas falls in love with Sonia.  Secundus is pure evil and eventually gets beaten.  Lalala, happy day.  There's no real cool effects either.  This film basically slashed all the cool violence and robots that Terminator had in trade for Jesse Ventura sitting around without a shirt on.
Good trade.

Sure, you could riff on it or make a drinking game out of it.  Rifftrax exists for it, and I've seen that also.  It's very forgettable, and honestly I didn't even remember I'd finished it until last night.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Spacemaster X-7 - 1958

I tired of the sci fi boxset as you might have guessed, although I do have Abraxas lined up to view next.  Anywho, I youtubed "50's monster movie" and blindly clicked on Spacemaster X-7 after seeing it was about a mutant fungus.

First of all who the hell named this thing?  Spacemaster X-7 has literally zero to do with what happens in this movie.  Nothing is ever a master, and the X-7 thing doesn't refer to anything I heard or saw during the entire film.  The fungus is technically from space, so there is that, but that's really the extent of it.  It comes from space, lands on Earth via a space probe, and a scientist gets ahold of it and starts trying to experiment with it.

Most of this film is, as you might expect....dialogue!  Dialogue, and people walking here and there, and what feels like a secondary plot actually becoming the entire focus of the film.

Laura Greeling has a child with scientist Charles Pommer.  She is in town to get custody of their kid but Pommer is busy studying the space fungus.  She tries to get him to pay attention to her, but he's way too immersed in work (we gather this is the same reason why they split up in the first place).  So anyways, when the fungus gets out of hand it kills Pommer and is apparently spreading with her now.  She's like, according to the movie, and I'm paraphrasing here, "A thousand typhoid Mary's rolled into one".

She is super concerned about getting back to Honolulu to meet back up with her new husband.  She doesn't want her new husband to know that she has an ex and a child with that ex.  So she is going to lie to her new husband and tell him that she adopted the kid?  So seriously, you're going to tell your new husband who you love SO much that you just randomly decided to adopt some kid?!  And he would be mad at you for having an ex and a kid, but won't be mad at you for some seemingly random adoption?!

Greeling goes through a lot of bullshit as the cops are looking for her, cause they know that she is probably holding the disease.  She goes to the airport, a hotel, she talks to people and orders things for delivery, etc.  Yet, there is never a single concern given for these people becoming sick with the fungus, or with anything falling out from that.  Heck even the cab driver, played by Moe Howard in an odd cameo, would have to be heavily monitored after coming into contact with her.  But, hehe, you know, F all that.

We follow Greeling and she does all sorts of pretty average things.  This movie is definitely a slow one, and not as interesting as I would've liked.  It lags in the middle quite a bit, but for it's era it is pretty average in that way.  It is interesting cause it's more a Fugitive esque, personal story of a crime drama thriller than what I expected, which was sci fi horror.

The fungus is the only effect, and it's pretty good.  It doesn't look like more than some sorta black and grey thingy, and I can't imagine it was more than some random cloth and shit they used to make it appear on camera as a fungus.  The actors are good, and the story would've been sufficient except for the numerous plot holes I could point out with no problem.  In short, it's a very easily forgettable serviceable 50's sci fi movie with a thriller sorta drama twist.

3 stars.


Update 4/13/2017:  I just found out there was an Atari game named the same thing as this, Spacemaster X7.  It's not a video game based on the movie, it was just a weird coincidence.  I just thought that was really odd, and thought I'd mention it.