Saturday, June 27, 2020

Puppet Master 'Blade The Iron Cross' (2020)

Full Moon helmed by Charles Band has been entertaining horror fans for almost forty years. The secret formula is surprisingly simple, blood, beautiful women, ridiculous stories with a few dashes of boobs, perversion and camp. The Bandiverse has multiple franchises, other studios have spent millions trying to create profitable franchises. FMEU has Puppet Master, Dollman, Trancers, Subspecies, Evil Bong, Killjoy, Demonic Toys, and Gingerdead. Not to mention the other divisions like Moonbeam and Torchlight.

The eleventh Puppet Master movie proves kill’in Nazis never gets old. The Nazis are losing WW2 and are desperate to afflict loses on the Americans. Their master plans are quickly coming to fruition. Annihilation by Death-Ray or reanimated monsters. Which one will be completed first and can anyone stop it, much less survive the madness?

Full Moon not only perfected the straight to video home market. But they were able to maximize the VHS and later DVD format. With previews of their upcoming films in development and special features, like Full Moon Video Zone, making of and ways to purchase merchandise way before the internet made getting your favorite movie swag so common .

The casting of a Full Moon movie normally gets a handful of familiar faces along with up and coming new talent. Blade Iron Cross has actors that have been around but no one except their agent and mother would recognize them. The stand out is Tania Fox. Following a long history of woman too beautiful to be in a low budget Charles Band movie. Something about beautiful people make a movie easier to watch. Ms. Fox is a big reason this film is so entertaining.

For Boomers watching one of these movies, takes us back to late night sleepovers, watching a tape our parents wouldn’t approve of, on a massive sugar high and on a 4:3 ratio backbreaker TV. For Millennials, Z’s and whatever the next too-easy-to-offend generation is, you’re going to be triggered, offended, traumatized, with the safe space being the stop button. But you’re gonna love it!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Booze, Broads, and Blackjack (2020) Movie Review

"Booze, Broads and Blackjack" is entertaining and easy to watch. Movies like these are the reason cinema was created for the masses, and proof God loves us. No better way to waste a work night (or an epidemic) than plopping down and watching art happen. Director Rickey Bird has dropped several easter eggs throughout the movie as well as several cameos by himself and writer Carl Nicita. "Booze, Broads, and Blackjack" is just an all-around enjoyable movie. The Hectic Film crew made the impossible happen once again, even though they got their film trailer stolen like ten times during production (even saw a video of it being dragged off even though it was chained to a car).

Making a movie based on a book can provide huge challenges. Authors don't have to worry about the cost associated with multiple scenes and wardrobe changes, not to mention exotic foreign locales. When laying ink down on paper, or keystrokes on the magical glowing box that brings me endless joy, it's easy to dream up islands floating in the sky inhabited by blue creatures, huge castles with dragons flying overhead, a spaceship infested with alien life, or even blowing up much loved cultural landmarks throughout the world. Authors don't have to plan to fly a cast and crew to Las Vegas, nor do they have to worry about feeding and lodging arrangements. Set building and CGI is just a stroke of a pen to them.

Director Rickey Bird and Writer Carl Nicita

At the same time, book to film adaptations create an opportunity to enhance the original story. Stephen King movies have greatly benefited from legendary directors improving on the source material. King's movies wouldn't have done so well without great talent behind the camera; "Carrie" (1976) had Brian De Palma, "The Shining'"(1980) had Stanley Kubrick, "Creepshow" (1982) had George Romero, "Christine" (1983) had John Carpenter, "Misery" (1990) Rob Reiner, both "The Green Mile" (1999) and "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) were done by Frank Darabont.

"Booze, Broads and Blackjack" also took the opportunity to improve on the book. In particular, the character of Savannah in the book was too consequential and random. While reading the book, I really wanted her to turn into the psycho stalker from "Play Misty for Me" (1971) starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. Also fixed was the too cool for school, mister perfect, Jack King. Flawless characters are boring to watch. One reason "Breaking Bad" (2008-2013) was so good was because every character was frustratingly flawed. Jack transformed into the lovable spoiled screwup, who does everything he shouldn't. The movie fixed a couple plot points that didn't quite work. The book also had a bunch of awesome music interwoven into the story, songs that even a major Hollywood movie would have had issues getting the rights to, which this film did a great job working around. The music provided by Ghost Coast Productions, while not as legendary as the classics named in the book, did a great job filling the void.

Another reason "Booze, Broads and Blackjack" is so enjoyable to watch are all the beautiful women in the movie; Felissa Rose "Sleep Away Camp" (1983) and "Killer Rose" (2020), Erica Rey "Machine Gun Baby" (2018), and Sarah French "Rootwood" (2018). All too often, movies lacking million dollar budgets have problems attracting beautiful talent. Beautiful people are so much easier to watch. Plus a bunch of cool transition scenes helped the viewing experience.

Also helping the viewing experience are Vincent Pastore and James Duval. Mr. Pastore has had a long and legendary acting career that jumped back and forth between big-budget Hollywood and indie productions. He did a cameo in an awesome movie reviewed here a couple years back called "Pitching Tents" (2017), check it out if you missed it. Because let's face it, we have seen all of his epic roles. Mr. Duval's Generation X social commentary cult classics led an entire generation into the decline of western civilization as we now know it. Seriously, if you haven't watched "The Doom Generation" (1995), otherwise known as Rose McGowan's first real role, or "SLC Punk" (1999), having lived in Salt Lake the repressed Mormon teens come out when the sun goes down (shhhh don't tell the church), still have fond memories of seeing punk bands in cramped basements.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Parasite 2019 (Warning Subtitles)

A master class in film making. A ride through all emotions, peak and valleys, funny at times and deeply thoughtful at others. Each frame is visually interesting and showing the continuing not so subtle class struggle theme. A quote I heard recently "to each complex problem there are easy and wrong answers", which seems to fit so much of this movie.

Joon-ho Bong has quietly become one of the best international directors behind only Guillermo del Toro 'Pan's Labyrinth' (2006) and 'Devil's Backbone' (2001). If you don't know either one of these directors, fire up Google, Netflix, Red Box, cable movie channel, or make a trip to Wal-Mart. Joon-ho has written and directed some fantastic movies, including 'The Host' (2006) and 'Snowpiercer' (2013) often with themes of working-class or poor struggling.

Following a broke unemployed family who has to hustle to survive. A bit of good fortune gets them in with a rich family. Neither family is portrayed as good or evil nor smart or dumb. Too often in depictions of class struggle, the poor are dumb and the rich are evil. Here we see the Kim family quickly motivated to help each other out with numerous ingenious schemes, with each family member contributing in his own way. The Park family busy dealing with their own issues, having a large household tends to lead to many things coming up. Simple things can have very different meanings depending on where one lives.

While very sympathetic to the Kim family, it slowly unravels an uncomfortable truth. True they are a tight family who quickly helps each other. But, the person who introduces them to the Park family is quickly betrayed. They are ruthless in dispatching people in their way without a care. At one point a neighbor needs help getting his loaded bicycle up the stairs, they all rush past, not sparing ten seconds to help someone they know. Each member is desperate to get a job so they can eat, at first. That quickly gives way to taking advantage any way they can with quickly looking down at the Park family for being naive. Within a short time putting their new-found prosperity a risk. The father Ki-taek who tries to be on his best behavior still is kind of rude, disrespectful, lazy, has a body odor problem and is quick to point the finger at someone else. To be fair the viewer sees how bad their lives suck, the struggle is real!

The movie takes a rollercoaster series of sharp dark turns. I love it when I can't tell where a movie is going. It ends in a deeply depressing thud. A promise is made, that is hopeful and quickly uplifting, but much like in 'Death of Salesman' an empty promise without merit. That leaves nothing but sorrow and sadness, that can't be fulfilled. All the dark turns and mayhem but nothing compares to the stark realization for the survivers.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Furies (2019) Movie Review

A female-driven Ozploitation movie with strong social commentary on how quick we are to judge others. Even facing imminent death these girls can't stop their SJW crusade or work together to live. The movie unfolds several twists on the 'hunting humans for sport' genre. On top of our heroine Kayla having inopportune seizures. With each girl having a different idea on what they need to do to survive.

The director, Tony D'Aquino, does a good job of drawing the audience in. From (shocker) the girls doing dumb things to get themselves killed to Kayla's (Airlie Dodds) epileptic fits as a beast with a machete is chasing her. There are a few well-timed moments of comic relief. He also tips the hat to several horror movie classics.

Unfortunately, this movie doesn't do enough to stand out, with so many horror movies being released just being good doesn't make the cut. Lost in a pool of blood with other movies, 'Satanic Panic' (2019), 'Tone-Deaf' (2019), 'Riot Girls' (2019), Witches in the Woods' (2019), 'Burn' (2019), 'Escape from Cannibal Farm' (2019), 'Quarries' (2019), 'Camp Wedding' (2019), and 'Banana Splits Movie' (2019) give viewers no shortage of options. There just isn't enough time to watch them all.

The only real thing that bugs me in any movie like this, is showing tech that would require a full surgical team to implant. The costs would be astronomical. Plus the likelihood of failure and death. A missed opportunity, if a bunch of guys are running a human hunting channel online for other dudes to watch they would make the girls wear something more interesting than just the "street" clothes they were wearing when they got snatched. Any viewer of a reality show knows you have to meet the contestants. Tony missed some easy film time that could have brought a little more fun to this movie.

If you can make past the slow start this movie is worth watching. As with a large number of Sylvester Stallone movies (see Rambo Last Blood for a prime example), the people who made this movie wish they spent a little more time developing the script and characters.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Camp Wedding (2019) Movie Review

A movie that starts out with 80's nostalgia with a feel of Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982). Got tricked into watching this movie because it's rating on IMDB was 7.8/10. It has since fallen down to 4.3 which is about where it should be. With forgettable cliche characters and spec plot, the opening and middle acts drag. The ninety seven minute run time could easily be trimmed down to an hour. Which is short for a feature film but would pump up the IMDB rating (gotta pump up those numbers rookie) plus make it more watchable.

The story borrows heavily from '80s horror, kid dies at camp with a deranged counselor (Friday the 13th), on cursed ground and evil spirits using technology (Poltergeist 1982) everyone who has sex gets it first and people camping and fighting for survival (every teen horror movie made ever). Nothing wrong with paying homage to awesome cult favs (Tarantino has made a career doing this). But add something to the story, make it worth watching. If you're just ripping off other movies you should have plenty of time to beef up the dialog and characters (or at least steal more from other movies).

There are so many movies being made now, films need to find a way to stand out. There was another bad horror movie (I don't remember the name) released last year which had that had the exact same opening and middle acts with the same cookie cut out characters (But had better deaths), group of friends gather in a cabin, people start dying. I've seen the same movie hundreds of times!

The market is saturated with movies, the effect of the digital age where anyone with a cell phone can make a movie. If you're going to make a movie be interesting. Another movie that just came out was 'The Banana Splits Movie' (2019). Which had the hook of using an iconic 60's children's tv show. Unfortunately, no one remembers, defeating the purpose of getting the rights of 'The Banana Splits Adventure Hour' (1968-1970). But oh man watching the intro and credits on YouTube brought back memories I didn't know I had. Super cool they got the rights to this Hanna Barbara series and Krofft puppets, too bad the movie was lame.

The final act pulled this movie out of the dump bin. Nicely wrapping up what little story there was and making sense out of some really lame deaths. The whole movie made good use/mocking of modern technology. To bad the director, Greg Emetaz, didn't make better use of Kelley Gates (played Mia) or Adam Santos-Coy (Trask). Particularly Kelley it would have been fun to see her bridezilla and crash diet more during the movie. Easily could have filled twenty entertaining minutes with Kelley being bat guano crazy!

Monday, July 1, 2019

High on the Hog (2019) Movie Review

A grind-house movie with a cast of horror titans. A non-stop visual bombardment of entertaining cornea burning pleasure. A thinly veiled plot about government overreach and justification for legalized weed. Gets ground into this blood stain of cinema marvel.

Sid Haig is Big Daddy, a small town farmer with jungle fever and hankering for kind bud. Joe Estevez is a small minded pig who treats his hangovers with whiskey. If only they could have smoked some sticky icky together the movie could've had a happier ending. Ellie Church plays the mystic who can see through the smoke Mary Jane a DJ throwback to Vanishing Point's (1971) Supersoul played by Cleavon Little. 

Sig has been acting awesomeness for 50+ years if you've never seen 'The Host' (1960) do yourself a favor and find a copy. Joe Estevez has 285 acting credits on IMDB, to put that into perspective Samual L Jackson is listed at 184 acting credits and John Wayne is listed at 178 (Haig has149). Rounding out the trio of b-movie titans is Robert Z'Dar (118 acting credits) in his last movie role. Everyone remembers him from Tango & Cash (1989) but horror fans know him as 'Maniac Cop' (1988) and the two sequels.

YouTube High on the Hog Trailer

It's funny how low budget movies with blood and boobs get treated by rating sites. IMDB currently has this movie at 3.7/10. Other movies that are much worse rate much higher; 'The Dead Don't Die' (2019) 6.0/10, 'Shed of the Dead' (2019) 5.4/10 (Liked this movie rating was spot on), 'The Domestics' (2018) 5.7/10. But if the movie has an abundance of gore and boobs it doesn't matter the quality or entertainment value of the film, the points disappear. High on the Hog is more entertaining than any of these other ones. The Dead Don't Die is a humorless take of the zombie apocalypse done in a dry British humor style, but once again they forgot the humor so really it's just dry British style that's BORING!

High on the Hog isn't to be taken too seriously. It's a wonderfully easy way to kill an hour and a half with your friends mimicking MST3K and if you're passing a 'J' around, Remember to pack it tight!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Retro Movie Review

Josh Whedon need we say more? Yes, a lot more!

The script had a concept for a powerful new type of female superhero, a mix of dark humor with comedic tongue-in-cheek horrific stylings thrown in, focusing more on personal relationships than a plot or a point. A genius has a vision, idea, a tremendous leap forward in entertainment marvel for the masses. But, its too far from the normal cookie cutter movie formula for anyone to understand it, much less foster it into life on the silver screen. Yeah, don't listen to the guy who came up with the concept...

Looks like the problems on the film started once the Kuzui's jumped on board to get the movie made. Joss Whedon sold the rights to Sandollar with Fran and Kaz coming in to help put the financing together for the film. Then Fran was given the director position. Her only other director experience came from 'Tokyo Pop' (1988). A small art semi self biographical film that got some critical acclaim. In the end, she didn't 'get' the material nor could she reign in the actors. The casting agent completely nailed the casting. But all the actors did their own thing. Giving the movie a disjointed feel. The feud between Whedon and Donald Sutherland has been well documented, leading to Whedon leaving the production. A lot of people liked Paul Reuben's over the top zany performance but it takes the viewer out of the scene due to the tone being completely different. Seth Green getting left on the cutting room floor is a direct slap to pop culture nerdom in every way possible. He already had created a strong body of work and recognizable to most moviegoers and horror fans (he was in 'It' (1990)). Re-watching this, maybe the only actor or person who got the concept, outside of Whedon, was Luke Perry.

People will point to Wonder Woman (1975-1979) as a man hanging back as a girl does the fighting. But Steve Trevor didn't know Diana Prince was Wonder Woman. He had no relationship with Wonder Woman. Most of the time a superhuman goddess comes out of nowhere solves the case beats up the mere mortal bad guy laughably easy, tells a bewildered Colonel Trevor what happened and who to arrest than disappears before he gets the stupid look off his face and has a chance to hit on her. After which old Stevo has to go back to the nerdy Diana who has this hot Liberian thing going on.

Pike, on the other hand, learns Buffy is the chosen one. Not being emasculated by Buffy being an army-of-one. He hangs back dutifully holding her purse and occasionally handing his better half a stake before scurrying back to where he can get a nice safe view of Buffy's backside. Perry played this role with a soft touch, the end one believes the heartfelt moments, and he doesn't have any alpha male issues boiling under his sweet smile. Kristy Swanson was born to play Buffy! Unfortunately, they had her play the character dumb. She's isn't mentally challenged, she is just a typical teen focused on going to prom, then Europe, and then marrying a famous actor, and then dying.
Letting Whedon leave production is akin to someone firing Steve Jobs from Apple, or turning off Stephen Hawking's computer, or locking Albert Einstein in the bathroom during a meeting, or publishing Stephen Kings script for the Stand after only a thousand pages, or letting a studio head green light a DC movie that isn't Lobo, or ending Games of Thrones before the last book is published. Just shows a little bit more how clueless Fran Rubel Kuzui was. She didn't recognize Whedon's utter total reality smashing genius or how this game-changing script worked. Further proved by the tv show being a huge hit.