Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lost in Translation/Impossibly-Cool Cover Art: Pod People

Don't ask me why I was looking up Pictures from Pod People- I just was.

Anyhow, I found a bunch of a alternate Covers- from VHS to DVD- on Google.  This one really stood out to me.  You'll see why.
Holy crap!

Just...I'm gonna need a minute.

Holy crap.

Oh and in case anyone doubts the veracity of this, here's the back...
Why not?

Oh and for all of you that haven't seen Pod People, here is what the Monsters look like.
Kinda get the lies now, huh?

2,700th Post Celebration: The Freakazoid/Phibes Connection

Instead of doing a Review for this #ed Post, let's do something different.  Who's gonna stop me?  You?
While rewatching one of my Favorite Shows- Freakazoid- I discovered an Episode which featured some very familiar imagery.

The Episode in Question is from Season 2 and called 'Hero Boy.'  It features the return of Gutierrez (Ricardo Montalban).  See if his introduction seems familiar...
 *****
In case you thought it might be coincidental, here is what he does after rising to prepare for meeting our hero...
 *****
In the Climax, the always-covered Gutierrez pulls off his cowl to reveal his malformed face (as a result of his last appearance).
Admittedly, that last one is more 'in the spirit' of the Film, but it works in context to everything else so far.

How cool is it to find out that two things you love are synched up?!?  Even better, this is something I just recently noticed.

When Freakazoid was on originally, I had never seen the Phibes Films.  Obviously, someone who worked on the Show did.  Cool!

I've loved Freakazoid since I was a kid.  Now, as an adult, I have even more reasons!  Awesome.

Back to Reviewing stuff now...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Project Terrible: Ardennes Fury

We're back getting to the Terrible!  Naturally, let's start with The Asylum....
It is all sound and Fury, signifying laziness.  Today's Film is Ardennes Fury and...do I need to explain this?  Just in case, I will.  This is the knock-off version of Fury, the WWII Film with Brad Pitt, but NOT Christoph Waltz.  For the record, I never saw it.  This isn't about 'Which Fury' is better then- it's just about how subpar this one is.  On the scale of Asylum Films, this...is nothing all that interesting.  As a recent Film, I guess it shows that they can make Films better than they used to.  They used to make Death Racers (future PT Review), mind you, so the bar was low.  The Story is pretty simple: a bunch of Soldiers with a Tank do battle behind enemy lines.  That's pretty much all there is here.  As far as the group dynamic, there's not much to it.  As far as tank action, well, you know what is coming.  There is a little bit of basic Story to get the Film from beginning to end, but that's about it.  It is not good.  It might be bad.  The question is this: is it Terrible?  To find out, read on, Soldier...
This is our group of Soldiers (plus the lady they eventually rescue).  It is nice to see a black Soldier in the group, but that's the only thing of note here.
I hope you enjoy this shot of a tank- there aren't many.  It is pretty much just for the beginning and the End.

I think there may have been more tank shots in Dead Snow: Red vs Dead!
You are not Brad Pitt.  On the plus side, you aren't C. Thomas Howell, who I was expecting to Star.
On the plus side, there are a bunch of Action Scenes.  On the negative side, they are just...meh.
I won't SPOIL things here (although the Twists are obvious).  I will say that they get all dark and dramatic in lieu of a good, interesting Story.  Aw.  The End.
War is Hell, this movie is Meh.  It isn't really bad, but it isn't really good either.  It is so middle of the road that it should have a long, yellow line down it!  The Acting isn't noteworthy.  The Story is uninspired.  The Direction is satisfactory, but otherwise un-noteworthy.  I wish I could say more.  Unfortunately, that would require more work than they really put into this Film.  I've seen better.  I've seen worse.  This isn't Terrible- it is just unimpressive.  In lieu of Sad Keanu, here is Sad Brad...
Up next, a second Asylum Film for Project Terrible.  Can they live up to the cinematic excellence that is The Expendables 3?  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Old School Forgotten Flix: (Spanish) Dracula (1931)

Well, I've already done Mexican Dracula (twice), Dracula in Spain, Italian Dracula, Pakistani Dracula, Duck Dracula and even Dracula's Dog.  Hell, I've done Dracula in Space!  So why is this one so special?  Well, let me educate those of you who don't know.  In the early days, Universal shot some of their Films in multiple languages, just to increase the market.  In this case, they shot Dracula at night, while shooting Dracula by day.  Same Script (translated).   Same Sets.  Different Cast.  Could you imagine that happening these days?  Just try to picture Transformers: Age of Extinction shot concurrently with a bunch of French Actors and a different Director.  Not likely.  The question is this: can it be as good as Tod Browning's Film?  Yes.  In technical terms, it is arguably better.  The Film is shot with some good flourish, nice camera moves and overall pizzaz.  The big difference: no Bela Lugosi.  There is just no doing what he did here.  Other Draculas like Lee and Oldman have been good- just different.  That said, this Dracula has some good points, so it is kind of a shame that nobody seems to remember him.  To find out more in this compare/contrast Review, read on...
The Film is mostly Shot-for-Shot.  Same Script and all, you know.
One bit is does better or at least more stylish is the bit where Dracula first meets Renfield.  In flies a bat...
...and suddenly Dracula appears, striking a lovely pose.  You really have to see this in motion.
This is Carlos Villarias.  He is Dracula.  He's no Bela, but he's still good.  He's just more animated.
Since Casting was working off the same Material, they got pretty close matches for the English Cast.
One major difference is what the Female Cast Members wear.  The Spanish-speaking gals are more, well, revealing.  Why the standard was different is certainly up for debate.
One stand-out is this Film's Renfield.  He does crazy like few others do.  Stunning stuff, to be sure.
The big thing here is that due to the language barrier (Universal cast an English-speaking Director) and the time, the whole thing can feel a bit more dated and, well, hammy.
To be fair, Carlos does try, but things just aren't equal all the time.
Even so, this is still a damn good Film and certainly should be seen by Horror Fans.  Right, Drac?  The End.
A hidden gem from the Universal Library.  It is a shame that this Film gets so little respect.  You want a great example of that?  Well, Universal did include it in the Dracula Collection DVD Set- that's good.  However, they included it as, well, an after-thought.  The DVDs put the Films- from Browning's Dracula to Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein- in order...and put this Film on the last Disc with a Documentary about Universal.  Like I said- I'm glad they included it, but I just wish that they had treated it like a proper part of the Library.  Ugh.  Anyhow, the Film itself is generally more-dated than Browning's.  Mind you, that is mostly due to just how damn good Bela Lugosi was for him.  Aside from that major bit of Casting, this Film is often equal to or better than its more famous 'brother.'  The Director and Director of Photography shot the Film in a very fun and dynamic style.  The Camera moves in alot of ways that it didn't usually during this time in Cinema.  Kudos, guys.  The part about it being dated is kind of a mixed blessing/curse though.  On one hand, it feels more 'old-timey' than Browning's.  On the other hand, it feels like an interesting transition from Silent to Sound Films.  If you like that kind of stuff, it almost gives the Film an additional charm.  While Universal wasn't nice enough to hire a Spanish-speaking Director, they at least used Spanish for their fake Newspaper...
Next up, I begin Project Terrible with some Asylum crap.  With no Brad Pitt, should I be furious?  Stay tuned...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Old School Flix: Suddenly (1954)

I finally get to see the *good* Version of this Story.  Awhile back, I did a Film requested of me by Bob- Suddenly.  This turned out to be the 2013 Remake of a 1954 Film starring Frank Sinatra.  Who said- 'Guy who made Bloodrayne- you should Remake Sinatra?'  Who did he think he was, Jonathan Demme?  As a stand-alone Film, it is just not that good.  Compared to the Original, it is even worse.  It just falters in every way when it has to compare to this one.  Don't misunderstand- this isn't God's greatest creation or anything, but it does exactly what it wants to do.  Boll's Film does not.  Let's start at the top: Frank Sinatra plays the villain here (in one of the rare times he does so).  In the 2013 Film, it is Dominic Purcell.  Look- I don't hate Dominic, but he's just so damn flat in every Boll Film I've seen him in.  It's like he hates being in the Films, but has to.  I don't know if that's true, but it sure seems that way.  The Story is mostly the same, although some changes are there.  I will give you an overview of the Story and tell you what is different- two for one.  Sound good?  To find out why you would ever name a Town 'Suddenly,' read on...
The Film's B-Plot involves the Sheriff of Suddenly yearning for the Widow in Town.  They never say what War he died in, which is odd.  She is resistant.
That day, he learns that the President is going to be stopping in town briefly that evening.  Lots of work to do.
Also arriving in Town are Sinatra and his two goons.  They are there to kill a President!
His plan involves borrowing a House just up the hill to shoot from.  This stands in contrast to the Remake, where it appears to be way out in the Woods.  100 yards makes more sense than 1,000!
 While waiting for their time to strike, Sinatra and company decide to...Monologue.  ALOT!
Seriously, the Film's middle half is almost entirely Monologues and Speeches- either setting them up or executing them.

They are good, mind you, but...damn, guys!
As the time approaches, our heroes must work in secret to stop the killer trio.  The Police kill one, at least.
Thanks to some tricks with wiring (see a later Poor Bastard of Cinema), the attempt is stopped.
 They kill the one henchman with wiring and shoot Sinatra in time.  He even mugs in death.
...and unlike the 2013 Film, they don't feel the need to waste time with the 'Hiding Fireworks' Sub-Plot and to seem 'dramatic' by killing the grandfather.  The End.
Oh so much better!  The Story here is nice and simple.  There are a few key things to accept- the family situation, the Assassination Plot- and they work.  This isn't the most complex movie out there- so what?  It has good Acting, good Direction and a Story you can get behind.  The short timeline of the Story simplifies things and gives it some momentum.  Stories like this work when you don't have too much time to stop and think about little things that may not add up.  After the Uwe Boll Film, I was really hopeful that this wouldn't suck.  I didn't want to go 'Oh, this is as bad as Boll's Film,' that's for sure!  The odds of that happening were admittedly-low.  So many things in that Film- the dry Acting, the Melodrama, the silly Plot Points and the pointless Fireworks Sub-Plot- were just so bad.  Here are two Examples of how Boll does things worse- just for fun.  First, we have the set-up of the kid hiding Fireworks in the Forest...only for there to be no point.  In this Film, we have a Sub-Plot involving the kid getting a fake Gun that looks very realistic...and it plays into the Climax.  Second- in Boll's Film we get some silliness involving the power being rerouted just to shock one of the bad guys to death.  In this Film, we have them route the power from the TV to a metal table to kill one of the bad guys.  So much less stupid.  In the End, this is a nice, simple tale that still works over fifty-years later.  As a bonus, my Version wasn't the computer-colored one where Sinatra was given Brown Eyes!  Hey Grandpa, what do you think of Uwe Boll's Remake?
Next up, I take a look back to a nearly-forgotten piece of Film History.  Why settle for a Universal Classic in just one language?  Stay tuned...

Lost in Translation: Godzilla vs. Gigan

Let's be clear- this was one of the worst Godzilla Films of its time.  It is not much better now.

So, bearing that in mind, the folks over in Germany did some creative re-titling for the whole thing...
I'm sorry, but could you run that by me again?!?

I'm not expert in German (although I know one), but I do know this: there is no Frankenstein (or Adam) in this one!

Mind you, there is a Toho Film about him...so is this trying to pass itself off as related to it?  If so, ouch.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Twin Piqued: Traces to Nowhere

As it is Saturday, let's continue to unravel the Mystery of...
Now passed the intro Film (which was stand alone in some Countries!), we can explore further in...
Now staying in Town for the Investigation, Agent Cooper continues to narrate to Diane (who must have about 8,000,001 hours of him musing on tape by now) and hang around.
He also continues to be obsessed with the little things in life like great Coffee and Pie.
He does do some work, of course.  He talks to more people in Town and seems to clear some of the teens.  Others continue to act pretty suspicious.  They did something, even if it wasn't killing Laura.
There are some serious personal goings on in Twin Peaks as well, including affairs, unhappy families and abusive boyfriends.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Palmer continues to freak the hell out.  First, she sees Laura's face on a girl (an effect he'd use in Inland Empire) talking to her and then...
...she sees the face of a mysterious man.  Who is he?  Dunno.  Don't SPOIL it.
The big reveal is that this guy is in possession of a series of tapes that Laura recorded and the other half of her Heart necklace.  Intrigue!
It is hard to follow up the longer Intro/Pilot/Movie, but this is still good.  You get more quirky Cooper.  You get more scheming Citizens.  You get more random stuff.  This time, it is 'A Fish in the Percolator.'  Weird.  Everyone here does a good job with the material.  One highlight is the co-Owner of the Mill who just calls the other (Joan Chen) to tell her how much money shutting down the Mill the other day cost.  What a bitch.  Another is the continued use of Cooper to promote the fictitious Town and its Restaurants.  He loves the Coffee at the Diner (one of the best!) and even takes time to tell the Medical Investigators coming into Town where to get some great Pie!  Other than the murder and freaky people, Twin Peaks sounds great!  The tone continues to stay strange and the pacing does keep you properly off-guard.  You get some scheming in one scene, some investigating in another and the threat of spousal/girlfriend abuse in another!  Even looking at this thing over 20 years later, I can see the appeal- at least for now.  I know the Show only gets weirder and quirkier as it goes on, but I'll be along for the ride.  Kind of like how America was in 1990.  Right, Rolling Stone?
Next Saturday, more intrigue and insanity.  In town, things never really calm down.  See you then...