Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moon Over Miami: Dead Man's Hand/The Haunted Casino

Who needs a plot when you have C-List horror stars?  All kidding aside, I like Sid Haig and Michael Berryman.  I like Haig a little less because of the Rob Zombie connection.  To be fair, he was awesome in Galaxy of Terror, even if his own blade killed him.  As for Berryman, he mostly does bad movies because of his reputation and looks.  The bottom line: you don't cast him as the 'Wacky Uncle.'  So with this in mind, let's look at this 2007 cheapie from Charles Band- Dead Man's Hand: Casino of the Damned.  Oh, I mean, The Haunted Casino.  Despite the DVD on Netflix having the first title- and the film itself having it too- the movie is listed on Full Moon Direct under the second.  Both titles are silly, but at least the newer one relates more than a one-time line right before the end of the movie.  So what is this movie about?  Criminal ghosts inhabit a casino and try to kill people, since one of them is related to the guy who killed them.  Sounds like a Full Moon plot to me!  To find out how silly this really is, read on...
We get a shit-ton of filler here.  I'll spare you most of it and just give you this summary of what happens before the real horror begins...

- Two people check out the Casino and die.  More on them in a future Poor Bastards of Cinema induction.
- Our heroes show up to check out the place.  Their characters break down into Final Guy, Final Girl, Nerd Girl, Joke Guy, Slut Girl and Rocker Guy.
- They see random ghosts, which are signaled with changes to the lighting.  How?  Good question!
- They set up some H.L.A. (look it up) between Slut Girl and Nerd Girl...but never follow it up one bit.  Why would you set that up and do nothing?!?  Damn you, Charles Band!

All caught up now?  Good.  Scream.
Forty-five minutes into the film, the guys with above-the-title billing finally show up.  No, I don't count the fake newspaper shots of Haig and Berryman as 'them appearing.'  The guys were Casino heads who tried to kill our hero's uncle and were killed themselves.  It just so happens that our heroes showed up 24 hours before the 40th Anniversary of the deaths.  Right.
Our heroes are presented with 'games of chance' by the ghosts of those killed.  The ghosts cheat their asses off and kill most of the cast.  Real nice.
There's even a sub-plot where Rock Guy and Slut Girl get into a fight- since he has performance issues- and the ghost of a Waitress gets between them.  This leads to her showing her evil, ghost form and killing Slut Girl.  That was pretty pointless...but it did pad out the film.
After the deaths of 90% of the cast, our heroes put everything up to one last game of chance.  They win, so Haig lets them go, choosing not to cheat in this game...for once.  You want closure?  Tough shit.  The End.
Nobody wins in this Casino.  The plot of this movie is a waste of time.  I wish that I could say nicer things about it, but I can't.  They don't explain why the ghosts have powers.  Mind you, it's a step to assume that people can just come back to life as ghosts in the first place, let alone have reality-warping powers!  Most films that pull shit like this have them 'involved in voodoo' or 'brought back by Satan.'  Something- anything at all!  Aside from the fact that the plot makes no sense, it's just poorly-paced.  It takes forty-five minutes for anything of real value to happen, spending the rest of the time setting up the characters that just die off abruptly later.  All of the character sub-plots- including a romance between Nerd Girl and Joke Guy, the H.L.A. set-up & the Rock Guy, Slut Girl and Ghost Waitress- amount to nothing!  They are literally just there to pad out the film.  Speaking of padding, all of the 'ghosts challenge our heroes' scenes feel the same, making their numerous appearances feel longer than they should.  I could also point some major inconsistencies- like an F/X shot showing the first victim's head melting and his body being found with an intact head- throughout the film.  Plus, the bad guy from Blood Dolls is here playing a guy with an egg-shaped head.  Does he have head-variance written into his contracts?!?  If you like Full Moon films, you'll ignore all of this and probably like it no matter what I say though.
Do you like mummies from space?  Too bad- this film is mostly about PG-13 lesbians.  Stay tuned...

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Don't Go in the Woods

A lot of people die in Don't Go in the Woods.  They die entirely at the hands of this crazy guy...
...except for this guy.  He's accidentally skewered by our hero when he is confused for the villain (due to him picking up the killer's staff earlier).  Oops.
So what was the point of this random death?  Was it to show what happens when you seek revenge?  Because, if so, the rest of the film ruins this by having our heroes actually get revenge later!

Next up, a special look at two Poor Bastards from one Schwarzenegger film.  It's a double-dose of unnecessary!  Stay tuned...

Moon Over Miami: Crash & Burn

The jokes practically write themselves!  Full Moon is nothing if they are not opportunists.  The superhero film craze of the '80s occurs and they try to make a Doctor Strange movie.  The result turned out to be Doctor Mordrid (which may or may not have a sequel), but they tried.  Likewise, this 1990 film was a sort-of a reply to The Terminator.  This is Full Moon, of course, so the scale, budget and special-effects are not all that comparable.  I won't spoil who plays the Arnold role just yet, but it's pretty disappointing as well.  If you know 'The Scooby-Doo/Law & Order Rule,' you can figure it out.  This movie is all about setting up a scenario that sounds interesting and failing to execute it at every turn.  You can practically see the movie that this is supposed to be as you watch the movie actually in front of you.  Try to keep your seat belts on as we prepare to...
Nuclear war has made the Earth a rough place to live.  It would be nice to actually see that, but we don't.  Basically, there is a big, evil government group is controlling everything, despite no Police force being shown or their will being enforced in any way save for one.  The film takes place at a TV station run by this old man and his granddaughter.  This guy shows up on a motorcycle to deliver stuff they need.
Hey look- a giant robot in the background of this shot.  Will they use it to fight back against the evil government?  No.  Just forget about it for seventy minutes.
After the death of the grandfather, the heroes decide to figure out which one of them could be a robot.  This involves a blood test.  *cough* The Thing *cough*
Hey look- the most famous guy in the film- and the guy who was in TCM 2- is the robot.  I'm totally shocked.
After lots of running around and filler like that, our heroes end up outside with a wounded robot and hero.  The granddaughter (Megan Ward) uses the robot to crush Moseley.  Immediately after that, the giant thing malfunctions and 'dies.'  Ward and our hero just kind of leave, presumably passing the guy from Parasite along the way.  The End.
Why can't you be the movie you should be?  The plot of this movie is a disappointment, feeling like a side story to a better movie.  I want to see the evil government.  I want to see the resistance fight back.  Hell, I want to see the robot do something...anything!  Like a lot of Full Moon films, I have to go in knowing that I won't see the film that I really want to see.  The Trancers series is really good about setting up neat ideas- a future in peril, evil men with armies of mutants, etc- and never really executing them properly.  It's like the whole company is just a series of spec films in order for them to get loans from Bank of America or something.  There are some good moments in the film, but the pacing is really bad, leading to an ending that feels rushed.  As far as closure goes, you don't get much.  Oh yeah, having the other woman be a robot in the end for no clear reason was dumb too!  On the plus side, they don't force the comedy element in like they usually do these days.  Take us away, pointless nude scene...
Next up, two horror actors for hire elevate a standard Full Moon film.  Who needs a good plot when you have that?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1,500th Post Special: Men Behind the Sun 2

What better way to celebrate than with the deaths of thousands of people?  With my 1,500th Post, I knew that I needed something big, something strange and something that many people may not even have heard of.  Naturally, I thought of the sequel to one of the most controversial films of all time.  With the Faces of Death films not available to rent (darn) and the Traces of Death films being awful, I went with Men Behind the Sun 2.  Oh wait- it's Men Behind the Sun 4.  Well, here's the truth.  Men was made by Tun Fei Mou in 1988 as a long-dormant pet project.  After it's success, local cheapskate and rip-off artist Godfrey Ho stepped in and made two films of his own.  By 1995, Mou had attempted to reclaim the series.  Naturally, he decided to make it about the worst massacre in Chinese history- the Rape of Nanking.  Yeah, this is going to be a fun movie!  All you need to know is that this film is violent, quite racist and very confusing.  To see more, read on...
This movie begins with telling us that it's dedicated to the victims of the war.  Naturally, they are going to spend 90 minutes re-enacting their deaths.
Does your film need at least three screens full of historical information to explain them?  If so, make a different movie...or make a documentary.  This- not so much.
Speaking of deaths, this random guy gets decapitated by a Japanese soldier.  I do like the realism here.  I mean, why shoot the people in the street when you can stop, wait for them to stick their out a window and decapitate them?
Just 17 minutes in, the movie indulges in a special effect that is so gross (and random) that I can't show it.  I can imply it heavily though...
Yeah, that's the appropriate reaction to that.  By the way, the film just cuts after this shot and the guy escapes.  How?!?
Immediately following an absurd and sudden gore effect, we get five minutes of these guys talking about swords- and by default- and war.  Who Edited this?!?
After twenty-plus minutes, the film thinks that we still don't think that Japanese are evil.  Too subtle?
Oh yeah, they also give this Japanese Commander a 'Hitler' mustache.  Real nice.  You get the point, I think.  The End.
Do you like racism and murder?  The plot of this movie is alright, but there's not much to it.  It's essentially a bunch of scenes based around the Japanese being nationalistic jerks who murder people for fun.  The Rape of Nanking was a terrible thing.  It is called The Rape of Nanking- we all know that it's bad!  The key problem here is that the violence is represented in such a silly way that it's hard to treat it with the seriousness that you would expect.  Did the Japanese really do the 'call people in for a meeting and gun them down' trick so many times?  Did they pull Buddhist Monks out of a room one-by-one and shoot them?  Did they randomly attack pregnant women and pull out their babies?!?  I would like to say that this film treats a serious and traumatic piece of World History with respect and reverence.  Unfortunately, that would be a lie.  This is a bizarre piece of Exploitation that does nobody a service.  If you're Chinese, it treats a serious incident like some sort of joke.  If you're Japanese, you're a murderous scumbag.  As a bonus, all of the Japanese people are dubbed into Cantonese (as is the one 'German' guy and the one 'American.').  Makes me wonder how bad the Godfrey Ho films are.  Take us away, way too silly mustache for a drama...
See you in another 100 posts.  I hope that review won't feature Troma effects and mass murder...but it probably will.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lost in Translation: Taste the Blood of Dracula

One more silly Dracula poster and we're all done.  Okay, there's actually two of them.  Here is the less-silly version of Taste the Blood of Dracula...
Kind of silly without context, but it looks damn normal in comparison to this Edited version..
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!  This is a horror film and not a comedy, right?  That's just goofy.  Did Mad Magazine make this?!?

Next up, a Corman barbarian film that's not Deathstalker.  It sure as hell looks like it though!  Stay tuned...

Moon Over Miami: Urban Evil

A film that nearly got to be Terrible.  I actually tried to get Maynard Morrisey (of the titular Horror Diary) to review this for Project Terrible, but it's apparently not available in Europe.  Damn you, Region codes!  Why would I want him to do this film?  Well, you see, this isn't a movie- it's three movies.  Full Moon has made a few head-ways into the 'Urban' (read: black) market over the years.  Aside from the Killjoy films (future reviews if the discs come back into print), they've only made a few.  Conveniently enough, three of them- The Horrible Dr. Bones, The Vault and Ragdoll- are compressed into this 90-minute film.  Yeah, this is a horror compilation of three film that they already made, but cut down into thirty-minutes each!  On the plus side, two of them are Out-of-Print on Netflix, so it does save me the effort.  What- it's not like I was going to buy them!  It's a three-course dinner of crap from Full Moon, so let's dig into...
The first 'section' is the remix of Dr. Bones.  Ironically, they rip-off their own film title to get this one...
Even cut down by 1/3, the filler is still here.  Essentially, a producer- the title character- is getting a bunch of acts together.  Do we need to see them each perform?  Apparently, yes.
Shock of all shocks, the guy is evil and using the music as part of some voodoo spell.  Kudos on the make-up work, but everything else looks cheap.
Next up, it's the cut-down version of the Vault.  To see how I feel about it, just read the review of the full film here.
Finally, we reach Ragdoll.  It's essentially the 'black version' of Puppet Master.  This also involves voodoo, making it appear that Full Moon thinks that black people are only interested in rap, voodoo and the subject of slavery.  Yikes!
The doll- which appears to be the doll version of Aunt Jemima- goes around killing people because of some voodoo ritual.  It's all pretty silly and I really only have more to say if and when I can see the full version.  The way they cut the plot down makes it pretty hard to follow!
It's three times the confusion!  The plots of these movies are not that bad, but the dramatic Editing hurts them a lot.  I can't compare the full plots of Ragdoll and The Horrible Dr. Bones, but I can do it with The Vault.  A lot of key points are chopped up or just removed entirely.  I just don't see why they tried to do this.  If you wanted to re-release the films under the 'Urban Evil' brand, why not just do a DVD set?  It's not like you don't have sets for Trancers, Puppet Master, Subspecies, Evil Bong and even the goddamn Gingerdead Man films.  Hell, you have a box set of the softcore porn films that you've released!  The bottom line: when you have enough Box Sets to have a 'Box Sets' tab on your website, you can afford another one.  This one is easy to avoid, since it makes Full Moon plots seem even worse than usual.  This shot expresses how I feel...
Up next, a man, a robot, Bill Moseley.  If you want to see a film that teases something big and never really delivers, you're in luck!  Stay tuned...

Monday, September 26, 2011

VHS For The Win: Children of the Full Moon

Werewolves are scary.  Kids can often be scary.  Naturally, a combination of the two should be pretty potent then...
I love that Lycanthrope shot and the sort-of-evil kid face, but what's the deal with the skull?  Who invited you, Yorick?!?

Up next, I highlight the awesome VHS box to an '80s film I've already reviewed here under the Project Terrible banner.  Can it redeem the film?  Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Video Nasties: The Cannibal Man

* This review is a day late.  Big whoop- wanna fight about it? *

Well, you're cutting right to the chase, aren't you?  Today's film comes to us from Spain, a country that determined that indiscriminate violence counts as a plot.  No, it's not Don't Go in the Woods again- these deaths are plot-related.  It tells the tale of a poor man who makes a mistake and makes another to cover for it.  This is followed by another and another and another!  The entire plot could have been negated by one simple action at the beginning.  It's an interesting idea, certainly.  It speaks about escalating violence and how one can question their initial course of action.  Of course, it also means that you just watch the movie going 'Just put an end to this- it's only getting worse!!!  Why won't you listen to me, guy in a movie made 40 years ago?!?'  What sets off this course of action?  To find out, read on as I avoid dousing myself in black pepper before I meet...
Our hero is a poor guy who works at a Slaughterhouse.  Pretense to show animal slaughter?  Awesome.  Him and his lady go out on a date, but get in a conflict with the cab driver.  He dies.
The next day, the girlfriend says that they have to report his death to the Cops.  He says that poor people get screwed and she still says that they have to.  So, naturally, he chokes her to death.
The guy's brother comes back to town before his Wedding and gets told the bad news.  He says that they have to call the Police.  Guess what happens to him- I dare you.
*Sigh*  The fiancee shows up and asks about the brother.  Since the guy hasn't disposed of the bodies, he kills her too.  No cannibal stuff yet, by the way.
The dad shows up and...yeah, this movie is a bit redundant.  Other than a sub-plot involving a neighbor and filler scenes of him disposing of body parts, this is it!
Lastly, a nice lady from the Diner ends up with our main character.  They have sex before she dares attempt to enter the 'corpse room.'  She dies.  Do you really care what happens after this?  Do you really?

Fine.  He goes to jail.  The End.
You are what you don't eat.  The plot of this movie is pretty bare-bones, but I think that's on purpose.  There is not a lot to distract you from the constant escalation of violence that occurs in this movie.  I do think that the order is a bit iffy though.  After accidentally killing one guy and killing his girlfriend, he offs his brother.  No offense to the brother's fiancee or the brother's fiancee's father, but are their deaths as dramatic as the brother's?  They could have easily had the fiancee show up looking for the brother and die, followed by the father and then his own brother.  Here, you get the most dramatic death of the film pretty early on- around 30 minutes in- and everything else just feels not as important.  As far as the film itself goes, it's good, but a lot of people won't like it.  For one thing, the title is very misleading.  The closest he gets to being a cannibal is nearly eating the meat from the plant he works at- and is dumping body parts in at- and he avoids that meal like the plague (see below).  More importantly, the film moves at its own pace, which is quite leisurely.  There are even breaks from what little plot there are!  The film has more interest in showing you the city and making social commentary about the disparagement between rich and poor in 1970's Spain.  Good for you, but I'd rather watch a movie with a plot!  It's not terrible, but you can expect a lot more from a Video Nasty.  Enjoy some soup...
Up next, I tackle the evil of Full Moon's cheap schlock.  First up, a movie with evil and the title...I mean, three movies with evil in the title.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Impossibly-Cool Cover Art: Devil's Express

What do you get when you combine Blaxploitation and Horror?  Petey Wheatstraw, The Devil's Son-in-Law.  You also get this...
So a black, kung-fu hero has to fight a zombie- which may or may not be giant- who hates trains, but loves women?  I'm so confused and interested at the same time!

If you've seen this film, let me know how it is (and if it's available).

Next up, a film about a brave adventurer battling a giant snake.  No, it's not Conan The Barbarian.  Stay tuned...

Video Nasties: Don't Go in the Woods

Okay, fine- I won't!  Today's film is one of the more oddball Video Nasties, as it was practically made to get on the list.  The film is about a mysterious man who lives in the Woods and kills anyone who goes in there.  It's a lot like First Blood, although it predates the film by a year...but was made 9 years after the book.  On the plus side, it's better than Hell's Trap.  Interestingly, this First Blood rip-off was made before the film, while that one was made after.  Unlike that Stallone film, however, this crazed vet has no back-story.  He just goes around killing people and never talks.  Oh good- I hate it when characters have depth!  Is this film more than just a bunch of deaths with a randomly-inserted morality lesson at The End.  No, not really...but keep reading anyway.  Ignore your friends when they say...
A bunch of hikers go out in the Woods.  Damn you, Blair Witch- you won't claim these people (or Jeffrey Donovan's career)!
This freaky-ass dude is the killer.  You know this because he spends the first half of this movie wandering around the woods and killing random people- not even touching the main cast yet.
For example, this random lady- who somehow made it onto the poster- is just painting a portrait in the Woods with her baby and is killed.  To give the crazed killer some credit, the baby is left alone.  To take away the crazed killer's credit, the baby is left alone.
After a lot of pausing and running, the group gets whittled down.  The 'I'm the Leader' guy- who drops the title line- dies first and his lady friend meets a grisly end trying to find him.  Don't go in the Cabin...alone.
In the 'morality play' part of the film, the remaining two campers leave the safety of the Hospital to take out the killer.  It's a tough fight, but they do it...and keep doing it...and you can probably stop now.
In the Epilogue, we see that the baby is still left alone out there.  This shock ending is muted quite a bit by the fact that the Police are clearly going to just comb the Woods for the bodies now and find him/her!  The End.
I told you that hiking was dangerous.  The plot of this movie is...well, barely-existent.  Don't get me wrong, I kind of liked the movie.  Aside from the hikers and their interactions- which feel fairly genuine most of the time- the film is just about random people who show up, say a line or two and die.  Seriously, that's the depth they get!  In fact, the film even credits them as 'Victims' and most of them don't have names- just titles like Lady Artist and Tourist at Falls.  I guess if you're making a low-budget film and want to get all your friends involved, you either do this or making a zombie film.  With all of that said, the movie is pretty good as it feels gritty without being overly-dark (well, most of the time).  More importantly, a lot of it feels real.  Oddly, the goofiness of some of the random kills takes away from this, rather than adding to it like you'd imagine.  For example, they keep cutting to this guy pushing his wheelchair up a hill.  Finally, he gets to the top, looks out over the horizon...and is instantly decapitated.  Is it funny in a dark way?  Yes.  Does it feel a bit out of place?  Yes.  If you want a Video Nasty with less overt gore and a depressing nature, check this out.  It's weird, but kind of fun (in spite of its flaws).
Next up, a Spanish film about a man who goes too far.  By the sixth time he does it, you lose sympathy.  Stay tuned...