Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Don't Go in the Woods - 1981

Another year, another Don't.... movie.  I've covered several of these, and I guess I'm somewhat committed to seeing them all.  Of course, I'm only going by films that have the word in the title, if they are actually called something else and the "don't" is one of the many alternate titles, I "don't" count it.  See what I did there?

Don't Go in the Woods has a little story about it, as do a lot of these movies.  This is one of the many video nasties that existed, banned in the UK for quite an amount of time.  I definitely understand why Night of the Demon would get this label, but this movie was way calmer in comparison.  I remember no real nudity, and maybe a couple bad words.  There is blood, sure, but nothing over the top even by 1981 standards.  Texas Chainsaw was way more jarring than this woods based slasher.

The woods are a ever popular backdrop, probably a lot of people are scared of woods in real life, but I'm not one of them.  However, I'll certainly agree and understand that it's a great setting for a horror movie.  There's a reason it's so popular.  This time, we have....wait, guess!  Guess, come on.  Campers!  Obviously!  Camper friends Peter, Ingrid, Craig and Joanne go off the beaten path for a real backwoods adventure.

We get a few obligatory body racking up scenes before the foursome get butchered.  I especially loved it, because there's 4 of these "disposable death scenes" and each one is explained less.  First, its an ornithologist who's in the woods to watch birds.  Sure, makes sense.  He has a tiny little story and gets butchered after 2-3 scenes of him watching birds.  Then it's a woman and child, she's painting scenery.  This only gets one scene and one small follow up later.  Then it's a couple making out in their parked VW van.  One scene, zero follow up or consequence.  Lastly, the only black people in the movie, who come completely out of nowhere and are killed in approximately 30 seconds.  That last one just made me angry, as it seems like it was cut in solely to up the body count.

Don't Go is a very standard bottom of the barrel scratching horror flick, and it didn't bring anything new to the table.  The killer has literally zero explanation or motivation.  He is some crazy guy, dressed all wonky in animal furs, and his weapons range from machete to sharpened sticks.  We do see he has a cabin up in the woods somewhere, and that leads me to another point about these woods.

Sometimes I hate movies like this because exactly how big are these woods supposed to be?  These guys were out here hiking and camping for DAYS.  Then later, when it's convenient, the obese policeman can walk to the cabin and back to civilization easily in about 30 minutes, it seems.  Also, where are all these deaths in perspective to one another?  For the guys in the VW van, since it's not really an offroad vehicle, where are they that there's a road nearby and yet the killer can easily get to the vehicle and then back to his cabin which is, again, DAYS away?

Well, what did I really expect from the director of The Executioner, Part II and softcore porn film Sex Aliens? This movie was entertaining, however, much like Executioner II.  It teetered that so bad it's good line, had a fun soundtrack, and the characters were SUPER fucking annoying.  Seriously, the amount of times they spend screaming each other's names and making annoying sounds is probably 73% of the film.  That's why I actually remembered their names!  The screeching chipmunk voices of the characters yelling "Peter! Peeeeeeeter!  Peeteeeeeeeeeeer!" is forever ingrained in me now.

Still, 4 stars for being genuinely awful and in a rare feat, so bad it's great.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Invaders from Space - 1965

I'm on a regular Sci Fi Invasion boxset roll right now.  It's taken me a tremendous amount of time to get through this beast, considering everything.  I wasn't originally going to submit reviews for every movie, but then what's the point of owning the fucking thing if I did that?  Some of these movies, for example Extraterrestrial Invaders, The Creeping Terror, Horror High, The Alien Factor, and more, I had already seen before the boxset.  I waffled on whether or not to see these movies again for review purposes, or to just submit my review based on my memories of the films.

Ultimately, I still haven't decided a lot about the nature of my reviews, what I'm doing with my life, if I really want to have sex with another guy again or if women are enough, and where I'll be in 1 or 2 years or even 3 months.  There's a lot of strands in old duder's head right now.

Invaders from Space is diving back into my "oh so favorite" type of sci fi movies: those made from cut together TV serials.  I feel like I should not need to explain this AGAIN, so see the Rocky movie reviews or the Buck Rogers ones, or Fugitive Alien.  I am so ready to be done with these.

Invaders from Space is episodes 3 and 4 of Japanese TV show Super Giant.  Starring a Prince of Space like superhero known as Starman, Invaders from Space centers around invading aliens known as the Salamander Men.  Salamander Men is changed from the original Japanese series, in which they were the kappa, a race of malevolent beings that have obscured agendas and are mythological beings in Japan.

The Salamander Men begin to unleash a plague on mankind.  It's unclear at first how they are doing this, and mankind is freaked out.  Starman interjects, and discovers that the Salamander Men are using a local performing arts theater to spread the plague.  Why they're doing it this way is anyone's guess, but it does fit the theme of "what the fuck" that this movie is dripping plenty of.

When Starman meets up with these aliens, it's pretty silly.  Heck, silly is the word I would choose to apply to this entire film in general, but we're talking dancing around, over the top antics, seriously ridiculous dialogue, and the works.  There are of course kids thrown into the plot as well, since that was the demographic this show was aimed at, but they are not too annoying in this.  I will later on "get" to watch another installment of this series when I watch Evil Brain from Outer Space.

It's fun in an odd way, it's way better than most of these serials I have seen.  It's perhaps the Japanese factor and being way more decipherable than Fugitive Alien.  Also, it reminds me heavily of Prince of Space, which is one of my favorite MST3K episodes.  I'm rocking a MST3K t-shirt today btw.
3 stars.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Battle Beyond the Sun - 1959

Francis Ford Coppola got his start from Roger Corman.  Fact.  Two of his earliest films were in fact jobs give to him by Corman, and those were Battle Beyond the Sun (aka The Sky Calls) and The Terror.  Battle Beyond the Sun was one of these films like Gamera, made in another country and imported to the US cause it was cheap.  With some re-dubbing, a few new shots, and a clean up job, release it in the US and bank roll that muthafucka.

Straight from the trivia section of IMDb:  "Roger Corman gave Coppola the task of creating two monsters resembling genitalia (one male, one female) which were amusingly spliced into the film."  Yes, the most famous thing this movie is known for, was actually not even in it originally!  I mean look at the front of the movie:
I love how they put his name right on there as director.  He probably filmed about 20 seconds of footage in the entire film.  But, he's famous so, add him in there!  We've obviously seen this before, usually when an actor that would later become super famous was put in some second rate slasher like Cutting Class (1989).  

I wonder what type of payoff the original film, Nebo zovyot, had.  The cover of the movie is the final payoff of the American film, which isn't quite a spoiler if you've seen Corman, or is you're familiar with 50's monster movies.  It's all a lead in, Mars is the target for both Russian and American astronauts.  It's a toss up of who is going to win, but since the movie is Russian, they do eventually arrive first.  And this huge vagina beast is what awaits them.  Which is cool, I guess.

This movie had a ton of lead in, not a lot of pay off, and was very much a genuine 1959 flick.  It has the pacing, the feel, etc.  It is color, which wasn't hugely popular at the time especially among the normally low budgeted science fiction genre.  It's also a very quick hour and 17 minutes, over before you know it.

It's not hugely memorable, the end monsters are obviously the best part, and getting to that end part I'll rate as "good/average".  Also, given the names attached, it is one of the better known classic sci fi movies, and I'd known the cover of it long before I'd seen the movie.  Anyways.  It's fun, but be prepared for slowness and not a lot of interest factor.

Escape from Galaxy 3 - 1981

Did I watch these and decide to write the review later, then forget?  Or was I too drunk to remember watching them at all, and only retained the slightest memory of the film?

I started the Sci Fi Invasion boxset with a basic and flawless plan:  watch all of one disc, move on to the next one, and keep on this path until all 50 were finished.  Butttttttt....I watched a few out of order because I had seen films before/I wanted to see something else/different moods I was in.  Then, at some point, I started films without finishing them.  Then, I apparently had films like this, which I watched all of and then, DIDN'T review?!

So I had to watch Escape from Galaxy 3 twice.  I kinda really fucked myself over on that one.  I never would've normally seen this one twice.  It's not like it's all that bad, it's just that as you might guess, I have trillions of movies I need to watch.  And as you can see, what frustrates me the most is that I might end up watching movies twice, wasting my time, when I could have seen a new one and gotten that much more through the Sci Fi boxset.

Escape from Galaxy 3 is a lot like Hyper Sapien, also from the boxset.  I thought of that movie both as I was watching Galaxy 3, and later when I was formulating the review in my head.  You've got pretty similar plots:  Aliens land on Earth and it's mostly a big so what.  They have powers, but don't use them for too much, and eventually they begin to love life on Earth over what they used to have.  Both movies have other aliens that are hunting them, putting innocent lives in danger.

Galaxy 3 is perhaps "better".  I say that because it's not as childish on the outset.  It doesn't have a cheesy childish muppet for number one, but also it has nudity, has more action and violence, and is faster paced.  In it, Belle and Lithan land on Earth.  They are pursued by the evil, jewel bearded black guy character.  They immediately become interested in human interaction.  They especially are interested in the sexual practices of humans, or maybe that's only because it seems every human they come upon is in the midst of coitus.

Things go from there.  Again, for like the umpteenth time in this set, I wondered who the target audience was.  Sure, this is Italian, and nudity and sex wasn't as "bad" in Europe especially in the 80's.  But this is far too silly for an older audience, and not very exciting and very sexual for a younger audience.  Pretty much those age 9-13 are the only ones who might like it, and that's being very generous.  For a taste of how nutty this film can be, check out this ridiculous alien costume:
A starfish on her breast?  Seriously?

I was mildly entertained, and perhaps with copious amounts of weed this movie would be a lot better, but as it stands, 2.5 stars is way too generous.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Brother From Another Planet - 1984

Where can I start with The Brother From another Planet?  John Sayles is a well know, independent, interesting film maker.  Men With Guns stands as a film I loved, as was Matewan.  His style is not for everyone, and his movies are definitely hit or miss, however.  He has directed films that have won major awards, and films that are rated extremely lowly and generally forgotten.  Sort of the nature of the beast when it comes to independent film.

The Brother From another Planet was his first really big, successful film.  It was a film that was a major work for quite a while and what it's doing on the Sci Fi Invasion boxset, well, uh, I don't really know.  I guess it must've slipped into the public domain somehow.  But to be honest, I would be willing to bet that this one is a film that is at least semi up-for-consideration for a Criterion edition boxset that sells for an unprecedented 49.95.

The film itself is an analogy.  It's a look at our society from an outsider perspective, and it has plenty of I'm sure at the time relevant things to say.  I'm not saying it's aged badly, I'm just saying that looking at it 33 years later, it's obviously lost some impact.

Joe Morton stars as an alien, a black man who lands in New York.  He is unable to speak, and he traverses the city experiencing American life.  This movie takes it's time getting there, but in short "the brother" experiences everything from racism to sex to brotherly love and more.  He sees the seedy parts of the city, the beauty of it, and he interacts with the locals.

The "brother" has various unidentified powers.  He has a way with machinery, controlling it to his whim and fixing it.  He can also mend wounds in himself and presumably others.  He can pull out his eyeball and see through it after it's separated from his body, and in short, is a dynamically powered individual.  We never get a taste of how far his powers truly extend, and it's one of the many parts of this movie to go unexplained.

The "brother" is meanwhile pursued by two men wearing all black.  They're white men, and unlike him they can speak.  They are eccentric, and full of John Sayles weird-isms that someone like me who has seen a lot of his movies knows to expect.  They emit screeching sounds, they act zany and bizarre, and to boot one of them is even played by Sayles himself.

The plot goes from there, we see a lot of different interactions of different levels of believability.  It's a hopeful movie, one about the power of community, the opportunity of the world, and the strength of friendships.  It's not big on reason and explanation, but it needs not be.  This is back when movies didn't spell things out for us the way they do now, and I appreciate that some things go unexplained.

I really don't know how to rate it though.  Shot well, well acted, extremely memorable, yet also quite slow, full of supposed "plot holes" and very open to interpretation.  It's kind of the epitome of the independent film, and maybe that's why I like it.  It shows a person who is essentially blank, experiencing out world for the first time.  He has no reaction to it, and that's because we as the audience are supposed to react.  And that's why I like directors like John Sayles.  He asks you, as the audience, to be an active participant in the film.  Some will be willing.  Other won't be.

I give it 3.5 stars though.  It's a little bit long, and it's got a bit too much weirdness in it to age well.  I feel like perhaps they weren't sure what to do with the idea, and I understand why.  It's a difficult idea, and it doesn't lend itself well to multiple outcomes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Beyond the Moon / The Gypsy Moon - 1954 / 1956

Please see my review of Silver Needle in the Sky as to what this is.

(And I was really tempted just now to make that the entire review)

Sigh....This is two more lengthy installments of Rocky Jones.  Each one of these is 3 episodes, strung along together and made to appear as if it's a complete story.  Of course, it's not very complete.  It's not the least sensible thing I've ever seen, but it is clearly not meant to be self contained as a film.

Sometimes, you think to yourself, yeah, I get this.  You're watching it, and you're like, okay I get that this is for kids, but it's not that bad.  It's like that old Batman show with Adam West.  When Robin would say stuff like "holy hoodwink Batman".  What I'm saying is that the demographic for this show, kids who were born in the 40'-50's, is gone.  Obviously.

These movies are quite interchangeable.  Beyond the Moon has a plot about Bobby, the kid, being brainwashed by the evil aliens, and turning against Rocky Jones.  The Gypsy Moon has a plot about a warring couple of moons who come into contact with Rocky and they try to get him to end their war for them.  Along the way, Vena, the girl on Rocky's team as well as token old guy Professor Newton have minor roles and are occasionally more or less annoying.

If I sound more negative in this review than I was for Silver Needle, I think it's cause this concept wears thin very quick.  I cannot imagine watching all 13 movies.  Oh god.  I cannot, cannot imagine watching 13 of these.  I might literally go insane.

I was pretty into giving Silver Needle 3 stars as being a classic sci fi thing, and I'll downshift that to 2 stars for these two entries, but it is not as bad as Planet Outlaws still.  Sci Fi Boxset of course had these cause this is public domain bullshit.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fugitive Alien - 1987

Way back when I saw A Colt is My Passport I thought Shishido Jo looked prety weird.  What I probably didn't pick up on was that I actually had seen him before in a piece of odd sci fi dreck called Fugitive Alien, which was mocked by MST3K.  I bought that set, oooh lets see....over 4 years ago (!?) in mid July.  Wow.  That's amazing.

I just realized that I've almost hit the 2 years mark with this blog.  Wow, it's insane how fast time goes by. Like that MST3K boxset, it does not feel like that long.  My first MST3K boxset, boxset number 4, I bought when it was brand new in November 2003!  When I hadn't even graduated high school!  I've owned MST3K boxsets for 13 years!  Holy god, something is somehow very wrong with that.  Moreover, they've been steadily releasing MST3K boxsets for 14 years (since the first one in November 2002) and the whole show has still not been released.  I wonder if it deserves some award for the longest it's taken to release a show on DVD?

Back to Fugitive Alien, this one, when skewered by MST, is hard to watch.  The plot is completely indiscernible, and they sing that "Forklift song" a tons of times, which really takes you out of the movie.  I'm gonna go on record and say it's one of my least favorite Joel era MST3K episodes, simply cause I've seen the film probably...6-7 times, and I still have no idea what is actually going on in the episode.  It's a bit too much going on for me to get a grasp on the MST version.

So, it was also included on the Sci Fi boxset, and now I got to see it free of commentary from Joel and the bots, and wow, that was something else.  First of all, it's a movie much like Planet Outlaws and Silver Needle in the Sky where it's a collection of TV show episodes that were edited together, called a movie, and released with little to no regard for the fact that it doesn't flow and makes no fucking sense.

When I watched this movie without MST commentary, yes it made more sense.  I was down for a good watching and critique, and I even liked it. Some things threw me for a loop, but I remained optimistic as the move went on, and I slowly lost my patience and forgot what was happening.  That's when I realized, holy shit, I'm only 16 minutes into this thing.  Yes, this movie feels like about the longest piece of shit in the entire world.  It's long, long, long.

No plot, no explanation, just half a star