Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rare Flix: Never Too Young To Die

A silly Action Film to end all Action Films.  Today's Film is Never Too Young To Die, a 1986 Film featuring John Stamos as your Lead.  You can already see a problem, right?  If it helps, the Film also features Vanity.  Does it?  I mean, she was in Action Jackson the next year.  Maybe if I told you who the Villain was?  It is Gene Simmons.  Wait- don't go!  He was in Runaway and the Classic Film KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park!  You'll probably stay if I tell you more about him....so I'll wait to do that.  The Plot involves a Gymnast (Stamos) discovering that his Dad used to be a Spy.  He is now needed to save the day and boy is he NOT ready for it.  Can he stop Simmons and his confusing gang of Mad Max rejects?  Can he actually win a fight to begin with?  To find out, read on...
Stamos is a Gymnast.  He's not bad-ass.  I'm pretty sure that the guy from Gymkata is his bully.
When his Dad- George Lazenby!- is killed, he learns the truth about his family.  Can he step up?
In his way is Simmons, who plays a madman who claims to be a Hermaphrodite, thus making him stronger as 'both a man and a woman.'

Simmons is NOT a fan of this Film FYI.  Do ask him about if you ever see him though.
Can Vanity make a bad-ass out of our Gymnast guy?  It sure as hell won't be easy.
Later, she makes a pass at him and he freezes up.  She keeps escalating it, to the point of literally sunbathing topless in front of him.  He FINALLY gets the hint!
Simmons' evil plan is to poison the water supply.  Presumably this is NOT to help the Youths of America take charge.

Yes, that is Robert Englund.
In a cunning move (provided you don't have eyes), Simmons disguises himself/herself as...the guy from Megaforce.

Oh and one of the *actual* Soldiers is the Squad Leader from Leprechaun 4.  Apparently he is an actual Vietnam Veteran!
Can our Heroes escape the clutches of the Bikers and save the day?  Can Stamos do his big stunt without an obvious Edit?
Not surprisingly, the pair succeed, although it is left open for Simmons to return.  This did worse than Dressed to Kill, so that ain't happening!
Cult Classic is a word that is thrown around too much and too easily.  Evil Dead 2 is a Cult Classic.  Demons is a Cult Classic (in America).  Is this such a Film?  Not quite, but it nearly succeeds in reaching such a high 'honor.'  It is just such a bizarre mish-mash of ideas.  A Gymnast turned Action Hero- sure.  A secret spy family- alright.  One of Prince's protégés as a 'Bond Girl'- I'll grant you that.  Those two stopping an Intersex Villain trying to poison the world AND commanding a dystopian-looking Biker Army- that's a bit much!  If this Film were made today, it would be one of those faux Grindhouse Films that probably tries too hard.  Since it was made 30ish years ago, it is a genuine attempt at being a serious Film.  This is Gymkata if he fought Dr. Frank-n-Furter instead of vague Europeans.  This is Dressed to Kill if you made your Hero swing around in spandex and lycra.  This is James Bond Jr. if the Plots got even sillier.  Since it just tries to be normal and is just actually bizarre, it is easy to recommend.  It sure ain't perfect, but what kind of Film like this is.  On one hand, it is sad to see this one be a one-off, as I'm curious what they would do next.  On the other hand, it is even funnier as a one-off, since it is clearly trying to be a Series Starter.  Oops.  This one is around more than it used to be, so check it out.  Enjoy this Poster to boot...
Next up, will I ever review Ratman?  If I can avoid such fun distractions, maybe.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Quick Reviews: Resident Evil- Vendetta

Can we get a good Resident Evil Movie?  Sure- all you need is to replace all of the Actors...
At a place that looks suspiciously like the Mansion used for all of the X-Men Films, Soldiers are called in.  You have to know what's coming, right?
It is all the work of an Arms Dealer who looks like evil George Clooney.

He's also a bad-ass fighter, which I'm sure is true of all Arms Dealers.  I mean, just look at Jonah Hill in War Dogs.
Oh and Zombie Kid Quota reached.  Boo.
Later, a Soldier-turned-Scientist is working on a cure for all of these Zombies that keep popping up.  Naturally, her lab is saturated with the Virus minutes after she talks about her possible cure.

Thankfully for her, it works.
When things get bad, Chris and the Scientist recruit Leon (Not Professional).  He's still mopey after the last Film- seen here- but eventually joins the group.
Without SPOILing everything, you just had to know that they'd fight a giant, infected guy.

Will they win?  Who will die?  To find out, watch for yourself.
A fun, frenetic adventure if you don't ask too many questions.  The Plot is pretty simple- evil Arms Dealer is making Zombies to get revenge.  In his sort-of defense, he was treated badly.  Mind you, he was still an international Arms Dealer, so....no Saint.  Chris and Leon make good Leads here, as they have solid motivations and defined Characters.  Even the Supporting Characters get little moments to shine, be it the other Scientist joking that her Frappe is really just dessert or 2 Soldiers discussing how groundbreaking Breaking Bad is.  The real selling points are obviously the Zombies and the over-the-top action.  Resident Evil 6- the game that this Film's Prequel was building up- was divisive for its turn to a full Action Game from having much Horror.  This one is mostly the same, but there's enough Horror there for me.  Plus it is something that you are watching and not playing, so the Action works better.  Contrasting this Film to the current Game in the Series is interesting too.  If you want a fun, action-packed CG Film to watch, this fits your need.  It also works without seeing the last Film- or, in my case, remembering it that well- which is a bonus.  Plus, who doesn't want to see a guy with this face get his comeuppance?
While it is no Lawrence of Arabia, the Film is fun and fast-paced.  Does it make a lick of sense most of the time?  Nah, but so what?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Quick Reviews: Luigi Cozzi's Godzilla?!?

So what is this?  How did Luigi Cozzi also make this Classic Monster Film?  Well, let's see...
So here's the basic Story...

Italy wanted a colorized version of the Film for Television.  In 1977, Cozzi obliged and delivered a slightly-cut and colorized version...of the American Cut made in 1956.
So let me sum up the confusing history here...

Japanese Film from 1954.  96 minutes long.
American Cut from 1954.  Even with new Scenes of Raymond Burr, it is 80 minutes long.
Italian Cut from 1977.  It splits the difference at 89 minutes.
Terribly-blurry Version viewed in 2018 with English Subtitles (by me).

Makes sense?
So yes, this is the Godzilla: King of the Monsters Version.  Here is color-tinted Burr to prove it.
Since this was a TV Movie from 40 years ago and the Film rights are kind of vague, this is the only Version available online.

I'd give it a full Review, but, well, look at it.
On the plus side, the blurry and color-tinted quality makes the Burr Insert Shots less obvious.
No matter what version you're watching though, Godzilla is still killed by the vague Oxygen Destroyer.  He'd come back 28 more times (give or take a Remake), so all is well.
I mostly just love that this exists.  The whole idea, as explained above, is just crazy.  Over 20 years after a butchered American cut (to remove some bleak moments and an anti-nuclear message), Italy got their own colorized, slightly-longer cut.  They were just ahead of Ted Turner on the trend.  I can only hope that more weirdly-colored Godzilla Sequels are out there too.  Who doesn't want to see what color they would make the ice in Godzilla Raids AgainCozzilla is the affectionate term for this Film and I do love it.  While he doesn't do much these days, Luigi Cozzi was kind of a mad genius in Italy and the World is greater for it.  It helps that I follow him on Facebook too.  Here's hoping he reads this.  If he knows of a better Print for this one, I'm all ears too.  Hook me up, pal!  A man can dream, right?  One last look at the odd, faded coloring now...
If there was actually a good Print available, I'd recommend it.  Unfortunately, there's not, so it is mostly just a film oddity like Grizzly 2: The Predator.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

'Black'ish: Playtest (Black Mirror)

As Technology continues to be a bigger part of our life, this Show just gets more relatable.  Will this week's Season 3 Episode keep that going?  Let's see...
In this Episode, a Hipster is traveling the World on a long Vacation.  Why?  To not have to deal with a personal issue.
When his money is suddenly and inexplicably cut off, he takes a job as a Play Tester in Britain.  It involves a small, medical implant.

What could go wrong?
They let him taste a game where only he sees a Digital Character and interacts with it.

The future of Porn, ladies and gentlemen.
When that goes well, he agrees to another, more in-depth test.  Naturally, the Game's Creator is an insane Japanese Man.
Will he live to regret this decision?  Will he live at all?

To find out, watch the Episode.
Interesting and intense stuff.  Like many Black Mirror Episodes, it is a bit of a slow burn.  You meet the people, you see the set-up and then it starts out innocent enough.  I don't know if I would let someone insert a chip into my neck just to play a Rabbids Game, but to each his/her own.  I can't go too much into the Story since it loops back on itself so much that any Plot Point is kind of major.  Basically, he plays too real Resident Evil and things get more bizarre from there.  This one does a good job of making you question reality and trying to separate it from fantasy.  Does it cheat?  Maybe.  To be fair, the Show did play with the concept of how time is relative many times before (see below).  The whole thing builds nicely in terms of suspense and drama.  Some may not like the conclusion, but it worked well enough for me.  This one is not going to be one of the favorites to many, but I thought that it is certainly above being labeled a 'disappointing Episode' or anything like.  I guess they just wanted more Jon Hamm.
Next time, I finally tackle the big, attention-getting Episode from Season 4.  Should I boldly go where every Critic already has?  See you then...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Impossibly-Cool Cover Art?: Evilspeak

A tale as old as time.  Nerd gets picked on.  Nerd uses the power of Satan to get revenge.

How is the Poster for this Film?  Let's see...
Damn!

That's all sorts of crazy!

The Film...is alright.  It is mostly worth it by the end...when stuff actually happens.

As per the usual routine, the original work...
It is good- just a little bit muted for my taste.  Go big or go home, you know.

Monday, January 15, 2018

My Crazy Youth: The Time That Aliens, James Brown and Chris Rock were on 'Miami Vice'

I could do a great many things on this Holiday.  For some reason though, this just seems right.

I was mostly too young to watch/enjoy Miami Vice when it aired, but I've obviously had plenty of time to do so since.  It's a pretty simple premise- Undercover Cops in Miami solve crimes.  Like many Shows, it ran for a long time.  As such, odd ideas started to slip in.  For example, today's Episode.  There's no sugar-coating this one- it's about alien abductions.  Do they happen?  Is there another explanation?  For some reason, this one also features James Brown, here as a sort-of Parody of himself.  It also features the first major Acting Gig for Mr. Rock.  Between them and Tubbs, I'd say that this Day seems right to highlight it.  It's just plain weird, so let's jump right in...
At a stake-out near a Theater promoting some sci-fi Film, a man freaks out at the sight of some Cosplayers and dives though a window.

Do you get it now?  'Jump right in.'  I crack myself up.
Their Coroner works the case and has some strange visions that night.  She seems bothered by it and explains her condition.

While the group try to figure it out, a Co-Worker appears- Chris Rock!  He's an Alien Abduction 'Expert' and guides them to someone to help.
Meanwhile, the visions continue.  Yes, Peanut Butter does play an important part in it.  No, I don't know why.

It does help to know that this was Directed by Ate De Jong though.
They see James Brown, here playing some guy who talks to people about their Abduction Stories.

On top of that, he also appeared in the visions as a Soul Singer not called James Brown, but appearing as 'Living in America' plays in slow-speed.  Right.
Meanwhile, Chris Rock keeps showing up.  It's like they knew he'd be famous in less than 10 years.
They get a sort of explanation for what is happening.  The CIA is putting hallucinogens out there in Miami, figuring that the incidents wouldn't stand out in a place so known for its drug culture.
Separately, however, there are also people that seem to be working for real aliens (maybe).  Our Heroes get Rock and the woman off of the boat and...
...but then our Heroine starts to have weird visions and wakes up in bed.  What really happened?
****

So that was odd.  The Story start out seemingly-simple and then just goes off of the rails.  Brown is a guy who talks to people who 'were abducted,' but also appears a dead Singer based on himself...and also is working for the CIA.  The most random parts are obviously the visions.  Showing stills from it (like below) don't truly show you just how crazy this all is.  Burning backgrounds, Peanut Butter Jars and more!  As an added bonus, Chris Rock.  His Character is not apparently new, but also only appears in this Episode.  How big is the Undercover Narcotics Team that he just never shows up again?  He was just always there in another Room and will be for the next 3 years.  This is barely a case for the team to be even be working on to boot.  They eventually find that a form of drug trafficking is going on, but they certainly didn't know that for a while.  This one sure is an oddity, to say the least.  One last crazy vision for the road...
Bat shit insane stuff.  How did this end up on Miami Vice?!?  Oh and Happy MLK Jr. Day.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hammer Time: Countess Dracula (1971)

A sister is doing it for herself.  Unfortunately, that thing is killing people to make herself look pretty.  Today's Film is Countess Dracula, the 1971 Hammer Film based on Elisabeth Bathory.  She's pretty infamous from History- even if it pretty certain now that she was innocent.  The working theory is that because a woman suddenly inherited all of this power and land that people got a bit jealous.  This wasn't the most free time for women, after all.  It is suggested that all sorts of baseless, crazy claims were made in order for her to be a criminal and thus lose all of her possessions.  Ouch.  Ignore all of that, however, as the Film goes on 'the historical record.'  She's just plain evil.  Ingrid Pitt was a staple of this Studio and her presence here is great, even if she got dubbed in post-production.  Emma Peele supposedly turned down the job, so there go all of the fantasies of you Avengers fans in the UK.  This Film exists in that famous, but not as famous as most other Hammer Films Category.  Is it truly the most under-appreciated Film in their library?  To find out, read on...
The death of a Lord leaves his aged wife in charge- at least until his Daughter returns.
Speaking of which, around the time suitors show up to inevitably marry said Daughter, she returns.  She falls for one foppish-looking guy and a Harlequin Romance Novel breaks out.
However, there's a big secret- this isn't the Daughter.  This is Mama.

How did she get so young?  By bathing in virgin blood, of course.
As for her Daughter, she had her kidnapped by a Turk.  The Film occasionally cuts back to see her try to escape.

We also get a power dynamic as Pitt's older suitor still wants her, but she only wants the young man.
There's also a catch- only virgin blood works. Why the Book separates that fact to a different page is anyone's guess but the Screenwriter's.
After helping her cover up her crimes for a while, he gets annoyed and just reveals her secret to her young lover.  Awkward.
She manages to convince him to marry her against his will, but he also knows about the real daughter now.

The blood wears off too soon and the guy is somehow killed in the process.
While all of this intrigue has been going on, there's been a search for all of the bodies.  They are found in the Castle.
And so our Villains are sentenced to die, now known as evil for all time.  There's a nice Roll Credits moment that...actually does lead them to Roll the Credits.  The End.
A dark Period tale of murder and intrigue.  Putting aside the History (true or untrue), the actual Film is actually quite interesting.  You get a whole lot of stuff involving the Countess, her Suitor, the new Suitor for 'the Princess,' the Royal Scribe and other people on the Staff.  They committed to making this as accurate as they could.  Getting back to the so-called-History, they handle it pretty well.  Accepting the idea that this all just happened, it feels pretty natural.  There is a bit of a disconnect between how she jumps right to blood as a source of youth and we never see the process work directly.  Obviously a modern version of this Film would show you the Actress de-age digitally- for better or for worse.  They also treat the idea that the mysterious new Princess isn't the Countess as a mystery for longer than I would have thought.  Was it less obvious to Audiences back then?  For a Film with Dracula in it, you should know by know that the Count doesn't show up.  It's just what they call her.  To be fair, it is less of a cheat than Brides of Dracula, which doesn't seem to feature him either!  The Film does feature plenty of blood, so you'll get your wish there.  This really is an underappreciated Hammer Film.  It's not a Dracula or Frankenstein Film, so it is already in a weird place.  If you like this stuff and haven't seen it, do so now.  Speaking of seeing, my big inspiration for watching this was to see Inspector Trout's descendant working a case that also involved a blood sacrifice and a madman obsessed with eternal youth...
Next time, I finally get to that Italian Horror Film.  Will the cheesy name be enough?  Stay tuned...