Tuesday, December 3, 2019

My Crazy Youth: Dracula Battles The Defenders of the Earth!

This would have been perfect for October!
I just didn't know that it existed until last week.

The Defenders of the Earth was an '80s Show with a Super Friends-like premise, but with different characters.  One Company owned a bunch of random Characters and put them together.  You got...

Flash Gordon- Ace Pilot.  Earth Hero.  Featured in best/worst Sci-Fi Film ever in 1980.
The Phantom- Master of the Jungle.  'Immortal' Hero.  Featured in the best/worst Superhero Film in 1996.
Mandrake the Magician- Master of Magic.  Lord of Illusion.  Featured in...very old Film Serials.
Lothar- Strong as 10 men!  Man-Servant to Mandrake in the Comic Strip.  Once described in 1935 as his "giant black slave."

...so anyways, can these guys switch seamlessly from fighting Ming the Merciless and other Aliens to the Undead?  Let's find out...
We begin with Jonathan Harker going to kill Count...Vlad?

Yeah, they just call him that, despite the Title of the Episode.  I don't know why.

...anyhow, this Dracula pops out and...transfers his body into Harker's via pink energy, taking over.
Some time later, Dr. Van Helsing asks Mandrake and company to check on Harker.

They show up, see all of the creepy stuff and decide to hang around.
Vlad/Harker/Dracula has a thing for The Phantom's clearly underage Daughter, even giving her a dress as part of his courting ritual.

Ew.
The title comes from what they all- save Phantom- drink at Dinner.  It turns them all into Animals!

Yes, Dracula's plan is to turn them into talking animals and sell them.  Flash's Son becomes a 'giant white owl.'
...for about 10 seconds before changing into a brown-white one.

Thanks, rushed animation!
They need a cure for this, which is made by their super-computer (in a mountain) and sent to them via rocket.  This is apparently set in/around 2015 by the way.

Extra fun: said super-computer is powered by a crystal containing Flash's wife Dale's soul!  F---king '80s Shows could get away with alot!
Before taking the cure, the now all-animal group decide to hoist Dracula with his own petard, defeating his wolves!

They turn human and take him out with their truck's spotlights (sure!) and he returns to being Harker.
He wants to make the place a Museum/Bed and Breakfast!  The End.
A weird use of everyone involved!  Where do you begin with this?  A Space Ace, a Magician, a Bruiser and a Jungle Lord team up to battle Dracula.  Dracula doesn't ever once try to bite anyone.  Dracula's plan involves turning people into talking animals.  Dracula kind of gets his ass kicked by everyone, especially Flash and his son in the body of two birds.  Random things are introduced- like a Villager being turned into Dracula's unwilling servant- but little comes of it (he just provides more bodies to become wolves).  The big climax involves the group- as animals- fighting a pack of wolves.  In addition, Dracula's willing henchman fights The Phantom and is tossed from the wall onto a carriage.  So yeah, he's dead!  The whole thing is just plain bizarre and I kind of love it.  I still think that The Centurions fighting Dracula is weirder and a bit more interesting, since it feels more natural.  This has a real WTF quality to it, sort of mixing Dracula and Dr. Moreau for no good reason.  One last update on Flash's Son.  He went from a 'giant, white owl' to a brown one to...a normal-sized one.  No, they don't address this change one bit...
A strange, silly Episode.  Where else can you see Dracula, a giant snake fighting wolves and The Phantom press-slamming wolves like he's Andre the Giant?!?

Monday, December 2, 2019

VHS For the Win: The Freakmaker (aka Mutations) (1974)

A silly Film gets even sillier on VHS.

This Film sure was weird.
Now put the craziest image you can on a box.
Slap a new Title on it.

What do you get?
Is this a Comedy?
It sure doesn't look serious, does it?

And yes, I had to blur out the woman's boobs.
Nudity on a VHS Box- that's a rare one!

Here's the original...
I still have to censor out the Nudity.  Sorry?  In any event, I didn't change this crazy thing *too* much, but I do think that it looks better with more sharpness and without that tag.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Quick *Holiday* Reviews: Kristy (2014)

It doesn't have stuffing or turkey or that weird cranberry jelly stuff.  Instead, it has murder and stalking.  It's fun for the whole (Manson) Family...
We see ominous messages from 'the Dark Web' about how strangers chase, torture and kill girls who they call 'Kristy.'  They represent everything they hate, it seems.

On Thanksgiving break, one girl- Justine- ends up at College all alone.  Well, her and 2 Guards.
Off-campus, she meets an obvious bad guy in a not-7-11.

She tries to be nice to this stranger, but it doesn't end well for all involved.
Back at Campus, the members of the strange group show up.

Unsurprisingly, it doesn't end well for the Guards.

To be fair, the Main Guard was also Black, so he was 1,000% going to die in a Horror Film!
She tries to call for help, but has no luck.

Yes, our Villains are 'super-elite hackers' who can just kind of do whatever the Plot needs them to.
Can she hide long enough to survive the night and possibly escape?
Or will she have to rise to the occasion and take out the killers herself?

To find out, stream the Film on Netflix like I did.  It goes well with gravy.
A tense, if familiar Thriller.  There are Films that are so different in some way that they get lots of attention.  Conversely, there are Films that feel so familiar that you just zone out completely.  The love story of a telekinetic Tire and a woman is the first.  The 42nd 'People killed by Inbred People in the Woods' since 2006 is the latter.  Between them lie Films that don't break new ground, but also deliver.  I made this comparison long ago when I covered a J-Horror Film that was very familiar, but still damn good.  I actually cared.  I knew the clichés that were there, but got past them.  Kristy is just like that Film in that regard.  I know how this all plays out.  Seemingly-omniscient killers chase a woman around and she keeps barely escaping.  She eventually 'powers up' and turns the tables on them (to varying degrees of success).  I have questions about key Scenes- like how they end up on the Roof within seconds of her getting there- but they never distract from how well the Film works.  They have a whole Campus and they use it!  The space is big, but also empty.  It somehow feels confined even though it is a massive place.  Her inevitable turn is handled in a way that is a bit too on-the-nose, but the payoff is worth it.  Is this a good Film as far as Thanksgiving goes?  No, it's just a Plot Device to put her alone on campus.  Even so, it doesn't feature an evil turkey, so I avoided that bastard for another year.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm expecting a guest...
A solid Thriller with a few obvious conceits for the story.  A strong Lead makes it all work in the end.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

'70s Trash: The Freakmaker (aka Mutations)

A collaboration of multiple Doctors that actually features all of the Actors!  This is The Freakmaker aka Mutations aka like 6 other things.  It's a 1970s Horror Film from Britain that is a mix of two stories sewn together like some sort of, well, freak.  One story involves a Scientist looking to evolve humanity to the next level.  Sure- it's crazy when Doc Terror wants to do it by making us all cyborgs, but...oh, I see it now.  The other story involves a deformed man running a freak show who captures people.  The two join forced to help each other in the weirdest PSA on cooperation ever!  The Film is right proper British, but mostly in that trashy way that makes it kind of fun.  No snooty men with mutton chops or carriages like those Hammer Films.  No, this is the dirty streets, back alley Britain that is less featured.  It is so British, in fact, that the Director's last name is Cardiff!  The Film features a crazy creature, as well as some real life 'freaks.'  Speaking of which, this Movie may feel familiar at points, but we'll get to that.  For now, wait for the reveal of our two Doctors and see how crazy this is.  And yes, my copy has the updated logo and copyright on it- weird...
A Scientist yammers on about how plants evolve and adapt to their environment as we see Stock Footage of just that.

For one, I want to see a Debate between this guy and the 'bugs are superior' guy from that Film.
Yes, I did choose the most phallic image they show here.
Said person is Donald Pleasance, who was just lecturing his College Class (full of 30 year olds).

He wants man to evolve like plants do in order to survive.
He's clearly the perfect genetic specimen, so he has all of the rights to judge us.
The other 'Doctor' is this misshapen man who kidnaps people out in the open to experiment on them.

It's hard to tell under all of the make-up, but that is Tom Baker!

After Frankenstein and Sinbad, but before Doctor Who he was doing this!
Donald tries to work and show his crazy evolution machine (which can turn a rock into an orange!) to a colleague.
When that doesn't get him far enough, he captures a new victim (after Topless Woman on Slab #1) with Baker.

The experiment to make him a plant-man hybrid fails...or does it?
Baker's B-Plot involves him hiding out in a Freak Show that he runs.  The Film pads things out by giving us a long Freak Show section.

Later on, the 'freaks' celebrate and declare him 'one of us,' which makes him mad.  Hmm...
The experiment earlier worked, giving birth to a new plant-man!  Both him and Baker target the Female Lead, but the latter gets her.

She's taken and ends up as Topless Woman on Slab #2.
Baker's Plot wraps up before the finale as the 'freaks' turn on him for being an asshole by killing him by the wagons.

Did you get that this was Freaks yet?!?
As for Pleasance, his plant-man shows up and kills him (see Stinger).  Our Male Lead shows up after the plant-man is burning from the fire he started in the lab.

He rescues her, although they try to imply that she will transform too!  The End.
A grotesque oddity that is kind of fun and crazy at times.  To begin, the Film is certainly flawed.  It has a big scope it aims for, but clearly has the Budget for far less.  We get a tight number of actual Leads, since we have so many ancillary Characters to support.  Most of them shine here though.  Michael Dunn, who died after his Scenes were shot, brings a certain grace to a Freak Show.  Baker plays his role as mostly-menace, but some nice character moments sneak in.  His big one involves him asking a Prostitute to say that she 'loves' him and offering her more money to do it.  Pleasance is low-key insane here, which is nice to see for me.  Other Critics called his performance 'wooden,' but there's a difference.  The actual Leads are nothing special, but you can't have the story without them.  The 'freaks' are a bit of a distraction, but they are real people and bring a certain charm.  Their section is mostly-padding though, as mentioned.  The Film's monster is just on the good side of cheesy.  You can't see the zipper, so that's a plus.  They clearly have enough budget for one monster suit and one gross out effect (below), so why not run with it?  The Freakmaker is a bit trashy and silly.  If you like that, this will probably entertain you.  Anyone who wouldn't see a Film called The Freakmaker is rightly-justified in skipping this though.  And now, the dangers of crash dieting...
Next time, it is a Holiday treat.  By that, I mean it's a Thriller set on a Holiday and it's not for the whole family.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

'Black' History: Black Mirror- Hang the DJ

As the year comes to a close, I need to go back to cover stuff I've overlooked/missed.

In that vein, more of this Show!

This time, they tackle Dating and Apps.  It gets weird, of course.  Cue the Morrisey...
In this world, dating works a bit differently.

You use an App and it sets you up with a partner and tells you how long you will be together.
It's just how it all works- don't question it!
Our Leads seem to be a good match, but they only have 12 hours.  Ouch.
After their short stint, they get paired up with more people.  They don't seem to be as good of a match though.
Is the system perfect and they're just wrong?  Will they get back together?

More importantly, what is the twist?  I mean, they all have one, right?
To find out, stream away like I did.
An interesting Episode, to say the least.  The core premise is neat, to say the least.  The whole place feels both real and artificial.  That's obviously the point, says everyone who's seen it already.  No SPOILERS, sheesh.  The idea that people just accept what they are told and are essentially controlled by their smart phones is...eerily accurate.  Breaking news- Black Mirror proves prescient and touches upon modern issues!  The Leads are nice and feel very real.  They have lots of little touches of reality that make them feel fleshed out and natural.  You can see them as real people and probably know someone like them in some way.  Side-note: the Show was British and now it's not, yet this Episode stars Brits.  That's weird, right?  In any event, the Sci-Fi Element is not so pervasive that it dehumanizes the whole Story, but is also present enough to not be an afterthought.  Like many good Season 1 Episodes, this one works really well.  It will make you feel happy.  It will make you feel sad.  It will make you feel whatever emotion this face conveys...
Next time, another Season 4 Episode I didn't get to yet.  You want more than that?  See you then...

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Lost in Translation?: Squirm

Thanks to Japan (I think) for this lovely poster for a trashy Film.

Most seen on MST3K, Squirm is the tale of killer worms.
*Pause for laughter.*
It is like a Tennessee Williams Play mixed with bad Horror.

See how someone else sells it well...
That's kind of terrifying- I won't lie.

The whole format is a bit cliché- even for the time- but it is a well-used cliché for a reason.

It also seems to be an inspiration for Tremors, no?

Here's the original...
The poster of this, well, poster clearly had a long-time folded copy, so I tried to lean that up and give it some polish.  Nice, right?

Friday, November 22, 2019

SPOILER Reviews: The Frozen (2012)

A Film with a big twist can really live or die by it.  This one is definitely the latter and, to get the joke out of the way, I won't let it go...
A woman discovers that she is pregnant right before a weekend away with her boyfriend.  Awkward.
Said weekend trip is to go hiking and camping...in Winter...alone...for the first time.
So yeah, that doesn't go well.

They end up crashing their snowmobile (somehow), which now strands them.
What's the deal with the weird guy who will watch, but not address them?
Things only get worse when the boyfriend goes missing and...there's another hour or this.

So yeah, enjoy her wandering around, being scared and waking up from dream sequences.  It all leads to the mother of all cliché twists...
Are you ready?
Last chance...

So they were dead the whole time.  They died in the crash (somehow).
He accepted it, apparently, and vanished, while she wandered around until meeting the Hunter.
Yeah, he's Death/The Grim Reaper.

Ugh.  The End.
That was long, slow and pointless.  Seriously, more than 2/3 of the Film didn't really matter.  What was even the point of this?  This kind of twist ending is arguably the most cliché, no?  The 'they were all dead' one is on par with 'this was all a dream/simulation/fantasy.'  It's a slight tweak of that, at best.  More importantly, it has been done by many, many other Films by this point.  Carnival of Souls is over 50 years old!  If that Movie was a person, it would be working its last job and planning to move down to Florida to be with the grandkids!  Yes, that Nicole Kidman Film also did that...over a Decade before this Film!  There's obviously a more recent Film that tried a version of this twist, but I'll cover that later.  So can I get past the ending?  No.  In spite of that, I'll say that the Film has a clear idea- showcase its Female Lead.  I like the idea, but...yeah, she can't carry this little of a Plot.  No offense to her, but I tuned out long before the finale.  Screen Legends can barely get away with this, so its not like it is an easy task.  The Film is marketed like it is going to be a Wolf Creek-style Film.  It isn't.  It could also be seen as a Survival Film.  Yeah, not really that either.  It's a bad Acting Exercise gone awry.  The Frozen is just not interesting and offers nothing new.  For another comparison, it's also a less interesting version of Soultaker.  Say what you will about that Film, but at least it won an Award.  Yes, this picture is real.
A good idea for a Movie turns into a bad one.  Why make such a cliché story after all of these years and add NOTHING to it?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Flix: Iron Sky- The Coming Race

A Cult Hit that featured Sci-Fi and Nazis got a Sequel.  No, not Kung Fury (yet).  Instead, it's the one with Moon Nazis and boy did it get weirder...
In this Film, we jump ahead a hundred years or so.  The Earth was nuked to near annihilation and we all live on the Moon in the empty Nazi Base.

Me flatly telling you all this is about as exciting as the Film presents it, since they just have this lady flatly telling you this.
Life is hard as resources are limited, very few things work (despite the base being shown as HUGE in CG shots) and a Cult of Steve Jobs-worshipping folks led by Tom Green are in charge.

Good news, Bob- Tom Green is back and now he looks like Eric (of Tim & Eric).
Things get better and worse when the evil Nazi (Udo Kier) from the last Film shows up.

He has a story to tell...
So...bear with me here...

He's a Lizard Person who showed up on Earth eons ago.
His Brother turned out to be Hitler.
They live at the Center of the Earth.
Oh and a bunch of famous, random people from History were also Lizard People, ranging from Stalin to Steve Jobs to Not Sarah Palin.

All good?
Can our Heroes find the power source they need?  Will they stop posing for the Poster they didn't use?
Will the evil Cabal win the day instead?  Will they offend as many people as possible here?

To find out, stream the Film.  It took over 5 years to get made, so don't wait 5 years to see it.
A weird, crazy mess.  The Film isn't good by your standard definition.  Its Plot is a random mess.  Its Acting is only alright.  Its Humor is odd and all over the place.  Its Story introduces a strange mix of fantastical ideas and straight-up clichés.  They think that if they lamp shade them- like joking about muting the 'boring villain monologue- that they can still keep doing them.  On top of that, the Narration is both random, occasionally META and all sorts of lazy.  This is a real Tell, Don't Show affair at many times.  That said, I don't hate the Film.  Is it goofy?   Yes.  It has Lizard Person Steve Jobs interacting with Lizard Person Hitler and Lizard Person Margaret Thatcher.  It has the use of an old Cell Phone as a major Plot Point.  It has a Cult full of people that worship Steve Jobs.  Oh right- that's just reality.  The problem is that the lazy and cliché Writing really takes over the structure of the Film.  The grand adventure with the Lizard People just turns into Action Set Piece Cliché with minor tweaks.  The most interesting people in the Film- the Jobsists- don't make it past the 2nd Act.  The 'will-they-won't-they' stuff and the 'love triangle' bits are pretty unnecessary.  The Film has two good, crazy moments for every one cliché they indulge in, at least.  If you like strange, crazy adventures, this one qualifies.  That said, the 'Teaser' they used to promote their Fundraising promised Trump and Action Jesus, neither of which actually appear...
A big, silly mess.  If you like it for what it is, the Film can be silly, shallow fun.