Monday, November 24, 2014

VHS For The Win!: Mansion of the Doomed

After over 2 Years, one of the most frequent Segments of Mondo Bizarro! returns!!!

I found a treasure trove of rare and crazy Films recently and will start to share them with you.  In the meantime, here's an example of what will be coming down the pike!
A big, fun and goofy bit of Box Art!

Is that a giant Edgar Allen Poe?  Is he a ghost?  Is that lady not safe even when she seems to be quite far from the Mansion?

Of course, the main point is the tagline thrown on there.  It is a great example of what you had to do in the big, thriving VHS Market.

I love this stuff.

Rare Flix: Night of the Demon (1980)

Just for the record: it is a coincidence that I'm doing two Bigfoot Films in a row.  Today's Film- Night of the Demon (1980) was in my sights for a while, but I hadn't gotten around to it.  When I discovered that a few similarly-titled Films were also available, I decided to finally see this one.  It...is a bit misleading.  Demons is about weird, demon-like monsters.  Night of the Demons is about weird, demon-like monsters.  This Film is about, well, Bigfoot.  I suppose that there is a sort of Satanic tinge to the Film, but not so much that this Title makes alot of sense.  The lone survivor of a large group that went to the Woods tells his Story and it is up to you to believe it.  Okay, that last part is a lie.  If you don't believe it, the Movie still ends the same way.  I'm not sure why I said that.  Anyhow, this is a Video Nasty as well, which is pretty apparent right from the Opening Kill (was it a cliche in 1980?) and this Title Card...
This man is in the Hospital.  He is questioned about why all of his friends are dead.  He has a Story...
His Story is a bit complicated, however, since he first has to tell how he went to a Class where the Teacher played some Bigfoot footage.  Wait- is this Found Footage...in 1980?  Wow.

A woman shows up and she's the young girl from the footage.  She wants the truth.
With a small group in tow, our hero and his lady go out in the Woods.  They find their source, but he's not exactly friendly.  Plus, he's clearly hiding something.
Further confusing the narrative, our hero tells the other people on the trip about some recent attacks.

So he's telling the Police that he went to the Woods and then told other people a Story about a guy he never met?  Alright.
This especially-goofy kill- he's tossed into a sharp tree branch and dies- is not presented as a Story being told to the group, so...how does our hero know about this?  Did this happen?
Eventually, the group finds Crazy Wanda, a woman who's been living in a Cabin in the Woods (sorry, Joss Whedon).  What's her secret?
Well, as a young lady, she had 'relations' with Bigfoot and gave birth to its child.  However, the Farmer Dad killed it, so she killed him and has been living alone ever since.

Oh and they stop a random Satanic Cult in the Woods.  That amounts to...well, nothing.
Eventually, the Bigfoot shows up and assaults the House they are in Precinct 13-style!  He looks kind of goofy right.
In spite of how silly he looks, he unleashes a bad-ass, slow-motion killing spree on them.  He kills all but our hero (naturally).

In the aftermath, nobody believes the Story(ies), so...that was pointless.  The End.
Easily the most bloody Bigfoot Movie I've seen.  Yea?  This Video Nasty has certainly earned its reputation- for better or for worse.  The Film has a small, Cult fanbase it seems.  Some people love it as a bizarre trainwreck, while others just find it to be so odd that it is great.  It sure is goofy at times.  A man swung and thrown into a pointy tree branch?  Admittedly, a similar bit was done in Prophecy (about the only good part, really), but the sheer random chance of the throw's end elevates this a bit.  You get to see a lady stabbed with a pitchfork by a Bigfoot.  You get to see Bigfoot use an Axe on some dude's head!  You get to see some dude shoved into a giant saw, which is stored blade-upright for some reason!  The Ending is ridiculous and the random kills are bizarre.  Where else do you get to see Adult Girl Scouts stabbed by Bigfoot?  Aside from that, this is a Horror cheapie and isn't that well-Acted.  It is not unwatchable in these times, but it also not for everyone.  If you make it past the first 10 minutes of this Film, you'll probably stay to the End.  I won't say that this is a great Film (by any stretch of the imagination), but it is so odd that Horror Buffs need to see it (or again if they already have).  If I haven't sold you, here's a VHS Cover for it...
Up next, a Film with the same Title (sometimes) from over twenty-years earlier!  Will Bigfoot strike again or will it be something sillier?  Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quick Reviews: Willow Creek (2013)

After previous attempts to blend Drama and Comedy (World's Greatest Dad) & Action and Comedy (God Bless America), let's see what Mr. Goldthwait can do with Comedy and Horror...
A guy wants to make a Film about Bigfoot by going to a familiar sighting location and brings his girlfriend along to help him film it.
His goal is to reach the famous Patterson/Gimlin location where this famous (and probably fake) footage was shot.

You gotta love that pose BTW.  It's like 'Bigfoot' goes 'Hey Steve, we got it now?'
Since we need background and motivation for the Characters, we get odd bits where they turn the camera on for about two minutes to film themselves arguing.  Weird.
They visit the town by the Park area and see the sights.  Some folks seem to just be marketing the whole 'Bigfoot' phenomenon, while others take their joking very seriously.
Despite not being trained Hikers or Campers (it seems) and being outright *threatened* by a guy not to go out into the nearby area, they do anyways.

All of this builds up the Film's key moment: the Tent Scene.  It is long, tense and divisive- to say the least.
I won't SPOIL this one any more for you, so let's just stop suddenly like most of these Found Footage Films do.  The End.
****
This is certainly an interesting one to diagram and break down.  I'm obviously not a huge fan of Found Footage Films.  I've also stated that I try to judge any Film on its own merits as well, so I don't immediately hate them either.  I do love Trollhunter, after all.  As for Bobcat Goldthwait's Films, I've generally liked them.  There is always something a bit *off* about them, of course.  They usually work for me though, whether it is Robin Williams' faux sincerity or America's dark tone.  In this case, it seems like he was hampered a bit by the Found Footage conceits.  The Car Scenes, for example, don't seem to have a reason to be filmed.  Other bits- like them in a Restaurant- aren't bad, but I don't get why/how they were shot either.  This one also falls into the 'How are we seeing this?' trap that 9 out of 10 of these Films tend to.  Is that really a SPOILER?  No, not really.  The Film has key points where it is trying to be funny (and usually works), but lots of scenes of dread.  If the idea was to make a Horror-Comedy, it is an uneven result.  If the result was to make a light-hearted start that turns really dark, then it is much more successful in that regard.  As I said before, the key bit is the Tent Scene.  Right or wrong, it is probably going to define this Film more than anything else.  How you feel about it will certainly sway your overall opinions on this one.  On the plus side, Bobcat seemed to be having fun.
A simple premise. some interesting build-up, but...kind of an odd one.  I didn't hate it...but it's not great.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Zoned Out: To See The Invisible Man

It is that time again, America (and whoever else is out there).  Time to step through the veil of...
In this Tale, a Man learns that the worst thing the Government can do to you isn't kill you...but ignore you...
A man is sentenced for his hideous crimes.  They put him in a strange room and strap this metal thing to his head.  Are they giving him an Eye Exam?
No, they are giving him a mysterious mark.  This marks him as 'Invisible.'

People can still see him, but they are told not to act like they can.  He will be ignored by all for one full year.
To enforce this rule, they are watched at all times by government-controlled flying orbs.

Yes, they do look like the Ships from 'A Small Talent For War.'  Yes, that is a coincidence.
People take this very seriously, since they can be punished for knowingly acknowledging an 'Invisible.'
The year goes by slowly and painfully.  Our hero never thought that human companionship could mean so much...until he lost it completely.
He barely makes it through his one year sentence, but life must go on.  He can resume his normal life and job now...but there's a hitch.

During his sentence, he met another Invisible and they didn't talk, for fear of punishment.  Well, he's Visible now, but she still isn't.
After much thought, he challenges the system and acknowledges her.  Who knows what punishment he'll face- you decide!  The End.
It is a bit 'on the nose,' but still good.  This is one of those that really feels like a 'Classic Twilight Zone' Story.  It has Sci-Fi (with the advanced technology), human emotion and Drama.  The idea of it sounds silly at first, but does tend to grow on you.  We take so much for granted.  Aside from the interaction with Family and Friends, there are so many little things.  The 'friendly for her tip' Waitress at a Restaurant.  The 'makes small talk for his job' guy at the Convenience Store.  Hell, even people we don't want to talk to, like a Cop giving us a Ticket.  Now imagine if you had none of that.  On top of that loss, you have the knowledge that they can see you and do know that you are there.  It is one thing to be alone.  It is another thing to be surrounded by people who make you *feel* alone.  This is how people dealing with all sorts of metal ailments like Depression often feel.  Can it be heavy-handed?  Yes.  It is easier to deal with since it is a Segment that runs around 15 minutes long, as opposed to being Feature-Length.  Honestly, this could work in a longer Format too, you just may have to tone it down a little.  Since I'm the only one around singing the praises of this iteration of the Show, I find that unlikely.  It is as unlikely as running into another person wearing the same forehead mark- awkward!
Next week, a comedic Tale of a wish that gets granted.  If nobody likes you in your job, what happens when all that changes?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rock Flix: Rock & Rule

Are you ready to Rock?!?  I can't hear you!  I can't he-ar you!  Oh right, this is text.  Today's Film is Rock & Rule, a 1983 Animated Film featuring a number of great Musicians and a strange Story.  Much like Interstella 5555, it is a Showcase for the Rock.  Unlike that Film, this has dialog and is not JUST Songs by the band.  This is more about highlighting some more, shall we say, hip rockers from this Era around a strange, strange tale.  You get Lou Reed, Blondie, Iggy Pop and more.  The Story involves an evil Musician trying to do something, well, evil.  He needs a special Singer (Debbie Harry) to make it work, so he has to do some sneaky stuff to get her.  Can her Band stop him?  Will he destroy society?  To find out, rock on...
They wanted to make a cartoon with weird, mutant people, so they just said 'Nuclear Apocalypse' and that's that.  After that, we get a general Plot Summary (that's my job!) by way of Star Wars-style text.
MOK shows up looking for his Singer.  He's scoured the World and found nobody.  Thankfully for him, this weasely-rat-guy was managing our heroes.
The band actually has two Singers, but they can't exactly agree on that.  You can just cut the sexual tension with a knife.
MOK makes his move and takes our heroine away, making the band follow in pursuit.  Ew.
He finds out a crypic prophecy- from his magic mirror-esque Computer-, but generally disregards it.
The band gets close to saving her, so MOK messes with their brains and dumps them back home.  Unfortunately for him, the Concert he must put on is...in that town too.
While it doesn't affect the Plot too much, the villain's song- by Lou Reed- is good enough to mention.
Back in the Plot, the Climax involves the big Concert and the Ceremony to let loose a big demon.  Nice King Kong homage there, huh?
Ultimately, the Prophecy comes true as the two Singers perform together and send the creature back.  As a bonus, one of MOK's henchmen turns on him- since the creature killed his brother- and knocks him into the portal to Hell as well.

The band is now famous and all is well.  The End.
It is a bit short on Story, but not on Style.  The Story is, well, kind of odd.  A famous Musician/Producer needs a special Singer to do a ritual that summons a Demon?  That's...weird.  The Characters aren't exactly all that 3-dimensional either.  It was neat of them to give the lead Henchman a bit of an Arc.  Of course, that stands out in contrast to just about everyone else in the Film.  So if the Story is out there and the Characters aren't that deep, what makes the Film work?  The Style.  The Character Design doesn't blow you away, but it is solid.  The rotoscoped Animation is not for everyone, but I've always been a sucker for it.  It just looks more fluid to me.  Others may disagree, but it is my site after all.  The biggest draw here is obviously the music.  You get a couple great Lou Reed (R.I.P.) songs, some nice stuff from Blondie, a bit from Earth, Wind and Fire (given a special Guest Star Credit!) and even some Iggy Pop.  Naturally, your love of the Film may be depend on how you feel about the Artists in question.  Regardless, Rock & Rule is a fun, catchy Film which still stands up after 31 years.  As a bonus, the DVD Version on Netflix is the Restored Version (with the Print literally cleaned up at times).  On top of all that, we get the first appearance of 'You're Tearing Me Apart, Lisa!' circa 1983...
Next up, a 3-Part look at some similarly-titled Films.  First on the list, a Night with a monster in the woods.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WTF South Korea?!?: Bunshinsaba- Witch Board

This is basically the Gumbo Version of Japanese/Korean Horror Films.  Today's Film is Bunshinsaba: Witch Board, a 2004 Horror Film from South Korea.  This is not to be confused with the Trilogy of similarly-titled Chinese Films.  One source lists them as Remakes, while the other does not.  I dunno- haven't seen them (yet).  The Story involves an angry spirit, girls committing suicide and some hapless Detective trying to solve the crime.  I've only seen a handful of K-Horror Films and even I've seen this one- or have I?  While it plays like other Films, there are still some interesting things to talk about.  It has some neat visuals and was actually more engaging than I expected.  To find out more, read on...
A group of teenage girls do a Ceremony at their School to summon a spirit.  Of course, they don't think that it will actually work.
A new Teacher shows up and takes Roll, calling on Student #29...who doesn't exist.  Quick- where's Sadako?
A rash of mysterious suicides begin to take place.  The girls go to a public place- around School-, place a trash bag on their heads, coat it in Gasoline and then light their heads on fire.

It is not a song making them do it though (nor is it the wind)- it is a ghost girl (see her hand in the shot).
It all relates to this blind girl who got picked on at School 30 years earlier (by the kids' parents).

Wait- the acts of the Parents as teens comes to affect their kids?  I saw this one in Spain (and a dozen other places).
A woman is here to use her psychic powers to channel the spirits and see what happened.  Basically, the Village near the School thought that the girl and her mother- a powerful telepath- are Witches, so they burned them alive- hence setting up the theme of the suicides.
What's worse?  The mother was 'seeing' through the eyes of her daughter, allowing her to live like a person with sight.  That means that she saw her daughter die violently through her eyes...before she too was burned.

A person burned alive and seeking revenge on the kids of her killer- never seen that one.  It also reminds me of The Brainiac, only without the Comet and the actual brain-stealing.
Using the Teacher as a vessel, the evil Mom-spirit burns the remaining targets (save one) in a trapped room.

Get that one?  It was in Children of the Corn II!  It could be a coincidence...but that's not as funny.
For the final guy, she stabs him to death with some scissors (before Inside BTW) and leaves covered in blood.  While she's not in a Dress, I don't need to explain this one, do I?
After that, some time goes by and she gives birth to a daughter- who becomes the dead daughter, naturally.

Two final things:
1. She leaves behind a dead lady's fingerprints.  How is the case closed?
2. Of all the Films to borrow from, why did you pick Rasen?

Oh yeah, The End.
Honestly, I was surprised.  Yes, this Film borrowed from/was inspired by a number of Films.  Some of it could be purely inference from me, while other parts are hard to ignore.  With that out of the way, I actually kind of liked it.  Now bear in mind that I'm not a huge fan of K-Horror.  So, if you happen to be one, you may like it even more!  The Story breaks no boundaries or anything, but works.  There are neat moments that I didn't really have time/space to cover.  There's a bit where the evil Spirit appears as a head coming out the top of a desk.  There's another bit where the Teacher is talking to the Spirit controlling her.  They play with you a bit here which I like.  You first see the Spirit using the Laptop, while the Teacher sits on a nearby bed.  When the conversation changes, you see that the woman is actually the one using the Laptop and the 'other' version is imaginary.  Subtle?  No.  Neat?  Yes.  While the Story veers off into some odd territory- how does possession change your fingerprints?-, it is ultimately a good one.  The one question I have- what's up with this completely-real Company Logo in the Credits?
Up next, we switch gears to bring you a Cult Classic from 1983.  If it Rocks and it Rules, I'll watch it.  Stay tuned...