Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blatantly-Misleading AND Lost in Translation Cover Art: From Dusk to Desert

Danny Trejo is a working Actor.  He'll do anything.

Seriously, if you can throw together $10,000, he'll appear in your School's Play!  I hear that he's great as Mercutio.

You think I'm joking, but consider On Bloody Sunday.  Speaking of Low-Budget Films, here is another...
Looks simple enough and not worth mentioning.  However, this film is actually known as a much different movie over in my United States...
Kudos/Finger of Shame to European DVD Distributors for realizing that an American Family Film wouldn't sell there, but a cheap Horror Film with Danny Trejo would.  That's...clever?

I also like to note the stark lack of Trejo on the U.S. DVD.  It's like he wasn't the focus or something!

Thanks to Maynard Morrisey (of the less-viewed Horror Movie Diary) for the Pics and suggestion.  I knew that he was good for something!

Bunny Fun: The Nasty Rabbit

I skipped a Horror Film this time, but still ended up with something scary.  Today's film is The Nasty Rabbit, a film released on DVD by Alpha Video.  Now you're saying to yourself 'Why mention who released the DVD?'  Well, you see, Alpha and I have a...unique relationship.  The short version: they release any old film they can find for free/cheap- good or bad.  I own ONE film on DVD from Alpha- Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women.  If you don't know, it is a Recut (with a few new scenes) of a film itself recut from a Russian Science-Fiction Film.  Thanks, Roger Corman!  So, with that in mind, let's lower the bar even further.  The Film was Directed by Arch Hall Sr, so it naturally Stars Arch Hall Jr.  The pair worked together for a handful of Films.  Their most famous work: Eegah!  Joy.  Is the bar not low enough yet?  Okay, here's some more information for you: this is a Slapstick Cold War Comedy.  Worried yet?  Let's be clear: this Sub-Genre is not all bad.  There are some legitimately-good Films covering this Topic, most notably The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming.  That Film has classically-trained funny men like Alan Arkin and Carl Reiner; this one has Arch Hall Jr.  So yeah, it's bad.  The Story involves the Russians sneaking a ticking time bomb into America via a Ranch.  The vessel: a Rabbit.  This leads to a ton of Spies from different Countries showing up in one place and chaos ensues.  To find out if this film is worth your time, read on...
This man is Russia's Top Spy and he has been given a deadly weapon to set in the United States.  Naturally, they attach it to...
A Rabbit.  How did you guys ever take over so much land again?

Oh and the Rabbit talks...at least to the Camera.  Is this real life?
The Spy's arrival is greeted by Spies from just about every major Country in the World, all of whom are trying to stop him.  For a number of dumb reasons, they fail.

These stereotypes are so outlandish that I guess I'm supposed to laugh.  The Mexican Spy is always wearing a Poncho and Sombrero- funny?
The real 'Star' here is Arch Hall Jr, who plays this role like a talentless Elvis.  If you want to see someone act like Elvis in a good Spy Comedy, watch Top Secret!
The Spies don't know where the radioactive isotope is hidden, so devise a number of Slapstick plans to catch the Spy.  They all fail and laughter ensues.  That's what is supposed to happen, at least.
 Okay, maybe a funny face, some random chaos and wacky music will work.

Laugh, damn you!!!!
*Insert Tepid Romance Plot Line Here*
The Spies all engage in a wacky chase scene (with silly music and sped up Benny Hill-style) and manage to stick the dangerous isotope in a lead container, stopping the threat.  That's all it took to stop something that was supposed to irradiate all of the United States in less than week?
Well, blame it on Bunny!  The End.
Eegad, this is lame!  This film is dated, ridiculous and just not that funny.  To be fair, it was probably stupid when it was made.  Even if you compare it to the Comedies of the times, it is pretty damn stupid.  For all the Benny Hill stuff and films like it, there are some legitimately-good Films from this Era.  You don't ever want to disown a whole Decade with generalities, after all.  The best defense of this film one can really offer is that it was aimed at a younger audience.  I can see someone saying that, but I don't see why films for Kids have to be stupid as hell like this.  Do you like your Kids being talked down to?  I certainly don't like when it happens to my theoretical Children!  You could also try to argue that this film is pure, harmless fun.  I don't know about the fun part so much, but let's focus on the adjectives.  The film is chock full of cartoonish Racial Stereotypes like the Japanese man you saw earlier, the Mexican in the Sombrero and the German man always wearing his monocle.  I'm not necessarily-offended by this, but it is kind of Racist.  It is that 'is it harmless' kind of Racism, but it is Racism nonetheless.  In summary, it's not really funny, interesting or tasteful at all.  On the plus side, it has a Midget and Richard 'Jaws' Kiel as a Ranch Hand.
Next up, a pair of recent DTV Action Films.  First up, the sort-of Sequel to a Project Terrible film featuring Zombies, Robots and a surprisingly-awake Dolph Lundgren.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

WTF (South) Korea: Hansel and Gretel (2007)

I'm sorry- come again?!?  Today's film is the 2007 South Korean Film known as Hansel and Gretel.  I would have gotten to this one sooner, but...actually, I don't know why.  It may have something to do with the fact that there are about SIX of these films.  The Asylum has one, The Syfy Channel has one, David DeCoteau has one, there's this one and I think there's one with Hawkeye or something.  I'm sure it's okay.  Here's why I'm confused: this isn't Hansel and Gretel.  What it actually turns out to be is a Remake of the Classic Twilight Zone Episode 'It's a Good Life' (which was also Adapted into the 1983 Movie as well by Joe Dante).  The closest connection to the Classic Fairy Tale is a few references to it and a clear emulation to motifs in Pan's Labyrinth (with the juxtaposition of Fairy Tales and Reality).  I'll give them credit for aiming high, at least.  The film tells what starts out as a simple tale, but turns much odder.  I won't SPOIL it as I'm sure that some of you will want to see it for yourself.  Your chance to see it on Streaming via Netflix is gone (for now), but there's always DVD and whatever else you thieving bastards may use.  To get a hint about what is going on here (without a Witch), read on...
The film begins sharply with a man running through the Woods.  Is he running from a killer?  Is he running to save someone?  Did he just hear someone playing Banjos and think 'It is time to GO!' perhaps?
Well, they have to be Arty, so we cut back to earlier.  Our hero swerves to avoid hitting an animal and his car flips over.  Damn SUVs!
Wandering in the Woods with a head wound, he runs across this young girl who leads him back to a Cabin.  Seems like a good idea, says the concussion!
The house turns out to be owned by her Parents, who live there with her older brother and younger sister.  Our hero is hesitant to stay, but is also hurt.  It doesn't help that these people act super suspicious.
He wakes up and finds that the place is a bit...creepy.

Seriously, I'm not scared of Rabbits, but these guys look like they can see you!
They are sad to see him go, but he insists that he must go home.  His girlfriend, you see, is pregnant and he wants to be there for her.

Why do I suspect that something is going to go wrong?  Perhaps it is because of th 'Day One' Caption in the previous picture.  Well, that or I watched the whole movie.  
Sure enough, the trip ends in disaster and he returns to the Cabin.

On the plus side, he can enjoy these kids creepy cartoon.  This one's for you, Bob.
I won't SPOIL what happens in this one.  It takes a few Twists that are pretty neat.  One of them involves the arrival of the couple below.

It is a bit hard to explain properly...so I won't.  See the movie.  The End.
It's not my cup of tea (no confusing racism intended), but I can see how others might like it.  The set-up: neat.  The atmosphere: all there.  The execution: good, but not what I prefered.  The film both lives and dies by its story and how quickly you draw into it.  I got it pretty quickly, but had to wait for the film to get around to confirming what I thought.  I won't fault it for taking its time, mind you, but I just have to speak for myself.  Besides, I know that some of you are (or think that you are) really 'quick on the draw' when it comes to guessing Plot Points and the like.  If you see this through to the end, you'll have a good time.  I do, of course, want to note that as a sort-of K-Horror Film, it has many of the Tropes that I don't care for too much.  I won't 'throw the baby out with the bath water' here and just give up on all South Korean Horror or anything.  By the way, I seems to use 'Old Timey' expressions alot these days.  I usually use 'By the way' alot too.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, it is a well-appreciated gem to many.  Feel free to see if you are part of the club or just one of those people that 'are too cool to be in their club' like me.  I'll leave you with both a tease and something mot of you probably did not expect...
Up next, Easter is a Holy Holiday to many.  To celebrate, here's a film that will make you say 'Holy Crap- this isn't funny!'  Stay tuned...

4/20 Day: Bottom 5 Pot Films

Since the actual partakers of this so-called Holiday will do most of it today, let's do it.  Besides, I have actual *Holiday* work to do on Sunday.

I don't smoke Pot.
I don't enjoy Pot Comedies.

Are these two statements necessarily-related?  I don't think so.

In 'honor' of the unofficial celebration, here are the *Bottom* 5 Pot Films that I've reviewed thus far.  I'm excluding a previous 4/20 Day film called Alice in Acidland, since...well, you figure it out.

1. Meat Weed America: This is still the worst.  The follow-up to Meat Weed (which Michele reviewed) is about a group of people who smoke Meat Weed (you figure it out!) who have their way of life threatened by a Terrorist too dumb to name.

The film has about six other random Plot Points including the birth of half-man/half-purple cow, a pointless one with Lloyd Kauffman: Art Dealer and the 'classic line': 'I'm gonna give you the AIDZ, bitch.'  At least the Director didn't mind me tearing it to pieces.
2. Pot Zombies: More like Shit Zombies!  The basic idea- mutated Pot makes you into Zombies is 'fine.'  The key is that this film has no overall plot.

Seriously, it is just a series of 'set up, zombies and end' scenes.  Save me, Rifftrax Live!
3. Evil Bong 2- King Bong: Yes, the Sequel is worse.  In this film, our heroes go to an island to escape the side effects of smoking the titular Bong in the last film.

They come across the titular new threat, a gang full of Porn Stars (Thanks, IMDB!) and this scene ripped off/inspired by The Fly.  More dumb and pointless...somehow.
4. Evil Bong: Still bad, but less so.  Idiots smoke the titular Bong and get attacked in 'Bong World' by ladies wearing Monster Bras (why is that a thing again?).  Plus, Tommy Chong.

The best/worst parts are the random Full Moon Character Cameos from folks like Jack Deth (Thomerson did this, but not Trancers 6), The Gingerdead Man, Decadent Evil's Vampire Hunter and Oogie Boogie here.  They're nonsensical, but *can* remind you of better films (and Gingerdead Man).
5. Bong of the Dead: The least worst of the worst.  The film is pretty clearly inspired by Shaun of the Dead, but is also weirdly-paced.

On the plus side, ridiculous gore.  On the negative side, everything else really.
If you smoke Pot, you may enjoy them.  You probably won't notice all of the issues while you're riding that high.  Good for you.

I hope you enjoyed this look at previous Pot Films.  I don't exactly plan on rushing out to watch any more anytime soon (which means that Maynard will give me nothing but them for PT now).  Happy whatever day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blatantly-Misleading Cover Art: Night at the Magic Museum

Full Moon- they make alot of movies (many of which are really bad).

Moon Beam- they are a subsidiary Company that make Films for the younger audience.  Take, for example, this film which is available on DVD (at 7-11 Stores)...
Why does this remind me of something?  I keep getting Deja Vu...
Oh, right.  That hit Film.

First off, this is the ORIGINAL Poster for it.  Similar Title, but you can spot the difference(s).
Second: the Plot Synopsis states that our Hero (does his name matter?) finds something in said Museum and is transported to *Insert Fantasy World Here*.  So...the Museum is not exactly a big part then?

Okay then.

Is it worth asking why he's not wearing the same clothes in the new Poster?  You couldn't Photoshop around that?  Weird.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WTF Japan?!?: Evil Dead Trap 2

This was not worth the 4 year wait.  Today's film is Evil Dead Trap 2, the sort-of Sequel to a unique film.  The original- if you forgot my review or haven't seen the film- is about a series of Snuff Films sent anonymously to a TV Station.  The Reporter goes to investigate, leading her to a Warehouse full of death traps.  The film is marred by a series of confusing Ending moments that...will not have any bearing on this Film at all.  Joy.  This film is about an unlikely lead- in all senses of the word- and her journey of...something.  Basically, alot of people die, a Mystic is involved and, naturally, we get a mysterious ghost child.  There is an explanation for all of this, but you have to put up with alot of confusing crap to get it.  It is worth noting that the man behind this film is Izo Hashimoto, most notable for Writing the film Akira.  Odd, right?  To find out why this film might just be so obscure (it randomly got sold to a Moviestop near me, if you must know), read on...
This is our lead.  She's has a, well, less than ideal body type and works a lonely job as  Film Projectionist.  Starting off strong, movie.
She has a self-obsessed friend (why are they friends again?) who introduces her to this cliche Businessman with no personality.  In spite of our lead blowing him off completely, he...
...can't get enough of her.  In America, we call this Stalking.

Japan- courtship optional!
There is, of course, a huge catch to this one-sided relationship: our heroine sees visions of a small child and kills women in violent fashion.  Why?  How?  All will *sort of* be revealed in time.
The only way that this is *kind of* related to Evil Dead Trap is that we have a lady Reporter.  That's it.

I kept waiting for a better reason- like she is the weird demon spawn from the second ending- but got none.  I guess there is another thematic similarity, but I'm stretching things.
Our 'heroine' keeps killing people, but does eventually seek some spiritual help.  The woman is...less than happy when she visits her at a later date.

The short version: there is a strong and evil spirit about her/in her.
The best explanation: the spirit of the child that she aborted long ago is forcing its way into her and affecting others too.  This is *kind of* similar to the whole 'my in-born twin is controlling me' idea from the first Film.

The 'boyfriend,' for one, seems to be completely possessed by it in the film's most effective- if goofy- Scene.
Speaking of goofy, a big chunk of the Third Act is built around Hideki (the lead) and the Reporter trying to kill each other.  Once- interesting.  Three times- overkill.
As far as I can tell, the film ends with Hideki having a final, mental break and ending up in an Asylum.  Good- that explains everything!  The End.
Wow, what a confusing mess.  Let me be clear: Evil Dead Trap was no Classic.  It is not a bad film looking back at it, but it is not great either.  It has neat moments, but it is confusing as a whole.  After waiting 4 years (it is still OOP on Netflix BTW) and spending $2.99 on it, I'm...a bit disappointed.  The biggest thing: I don't know what to make of it.  Is it a Murder Mystery?  Well, it has alot of the former, but none of the latter.  Is it a Horror Film?  I guess, but it is often too goofy for its own good.  The film has a very weird sense of identity, that's for damn sure!  It is too confusing and gory for the casual fan.  It is a bit too odd and arty for most Horror Fans.  So who is it for?  If you like blood and guts with no good explanation for it, I recommend this.  If you like to hear Asian ladies screaming and scratching each other, I recommend this.  If you like Sequels that aren't Sequels in any way, shape or form, I recommend this.  For anyone else, it is a strange mess that some of you may like and others may not care for.  Take us away, funny-looking Mystic...
Next up, let's look at a different part of Asia for a film that I had to watch on a deadline.  It is a German Folk Tale filtered through an American TV Show and produced in South Korea.  Stay tuned...

Project Terrible Returns Yet Again...Again

You love it.  We love it.  The people who make low-budget films that we mock love it.

Project Terrible returns!
This one is certainly an odd mix.  The films being reviewed include...

* Generation X (the Fox TV Pilot)
* Mac and Me
* House at the End of the Street
* The Giant Claw
* Catwoman
* Spider-Man Strikes Back!
* Fetching Cody
* Slashed Dreams
* Doctor Strange
* Deadly Prey
* Metal Tornado
* Meat for Satan's Icebox

What a random mix!  Superhero TV Pilots, Troma Films and crap Horror Films- oh my!

Keep an eye out for these Reviews in May and beyond.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Poor Bastards of Cinema: The Blob (1988)

The only thing worse than being a pointless Victim in a Horror Film is being one who's alternative fate is almost as bad.

In 1988's The Blob, our hero's amorous friend is out on a date with a girl.  He has been giving her juice and it seems to be wearing her out.
As it turns out, this early version of Quagmire has been giving her lots of booze via his Trunk-based Bar.  This guy takes Date Rape to disturbing levels with this amount of pre-planning!
He returns to find the girl passed out and gets ready to go to work when something weird starts to happen to her.
Her face turning into a deflating basketball qualifies as weird to you too, right?  Thought so.
As it turns out, the Blob had snuck in (somehow) and started to eat/melt her while he was away and then it kills him.  I guess she was just a vessel.
Now, to be fair, she does have a name (Vicki De Soto).  She ONLY has a name since he announces in a previous Scene that he has a date with her that night.  The character only speaks maybe two lines.

So this poor girl escapes a Date Rape scenario...by being eaten by an acidic alien beast.  Yea?

Incidentally, she is played by Erika Eleniak, the star of Baywatch and a number of less-than-good films on Mondo Bizarro.  You have to start (dying) somewhere, I guess.

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Crazy Youth: The Hulk vs Four-Armed Cyborg Ninjas in Shangri-La

There is crazy and then there is comic book crazy.  This is much more the latter!

For those who don't know, The Hulk is a big, green beast that smashes people, places and things.  Okay, EVERYONE knows that.  Let's talk about what people may know less...

The Incredible Hulk was a Cartoon made in the 1990s.  It was a good time for Comics.  The Prospector's Boom- when people like myself bought Comics thinking that they would grow exponentially in value within a small period of time- was in full effect and they were getting picked up for TV and Film.  The Fantastic Four, X-Men and Spider-Man were big, while smaller hits were made with Spider-Man Unlimited, The Silver Surfer, WildCATs, Nightman and Ultraforce.  Before the bubble burst, The Hulk got a show too.  Unfortunately, UPN was a fickle TV mistress and wanted bigger ratings.  As such, She-Hulk was forced onto the show and the tone went from dark (and interesting) to goofy.

That leads us into today's induction (which is also the *second to last* Episode ever) called...
A Chinese Man has a magical medallion and...the bad guy from Centurions (?) is watching.  He sends his four-armed Cyborg Ninjas to get it.
Naturally, Bruce Banner and Betty are going for a walk and stumble across the scene.
Bruce becomes the Hulk and helps out.  It gets weird(er) when the man seemingly turns into dust after handing them the Medallion and disappears.
Using the power of micro-fiche (and the Internet), the gang (now with She-Hulk thanks to UPN) know where to go and show their Medallion to the right people.
The villain attacks in person (via cheap animation compositing) and actually beats the Hulk!  They trick him with a fake copy, however, and manage to hold onto the real amulet.
A recovered Hulk and company are visited by Monks and go through a magic portal to what is basically Shangri-La.  They call it something else, but it...might also be where the Elves live in Lord of the Rings.
The mystic residents use the Medallion to give Bruce some sort of inner peace that 'cures' him of the Hulk transformation process.  That's nice.  One problem...
The bad guy- who is one of three Brothers, if you care- attacks again and only Hulk can turn the tide.  The magic Deus Ex Machina process can only be done once (why?), so he has to give up peace to not be killed.

Oh and you get to see Betty & She-Hulk take the robot arm chassis things to shoot lasers of their own.  Neat, but silly.
The villain is defeated and Banner is pretty okay with never being cured...since the show would end next Episode.  The End.
This is just so odd and out of place.  To be honest, that sums up most of the last Season as well.  The first Season is neat since it is so dark and dreary.  Banner looks for cures, but they keep getting taken away.  He gets a cure finally...and he'll die unless he becomes the Hulk again.  He gets a cure...but it actually turns him into a Gray jerk.  To make more people watch, UPN wanted things lighter.  The result: Episodes involving She-Hulk going to her High School Reunion and getting cast as a Stunt Woman.  Joy.  This one is especially goofy because the basic premise doesn't fit The Hulk.  Once you get past the Ninjas, you get the fact that they have an extra set of robot arms and that their boss is a Cyborg.  That is just so 'out there' that it is funny.  For a crazy tale to work, it has to be grounded in some sort of reality.  This tale involves three Brothers, Shangri-La, Cyborg Ninjas and a magic Medallion.  We have long past reality and it is waving at us desperately in the Rear View Mirror!  I don't hate the story- I just think that it is ridiculous.  It would make for a crazy Iron Fist or Iron Man tale (just sub in The Mandarin maybe), but it makes no sense as a Hulk tale.  It just feels extra goofy as the lead-in to what would be the Series Finale.
Next up, a good Sci-Fi Cartoon goes off the rails in a big way.  It starts out strong, but ends up with Dinosaur Men...somehow.  Stay tuned...