Monday, September 30, 2013

Billy Crap: The Master Gunfighter

You really ran out of ideas, didn't you?  Today's film The Master Gunfighter, a title so generic that it needs an explanation.  Enjoy this long explanation, fans of information.  For the rest of you, you can skip the next few sentences.  Tom Laughlin is an idea man.  He managed to bide his time and finally got his pet project- Billy Jack- made.  It was a surprise hit in the early days of wide releases, as was its follow-up:  The Trial of Billy Jack.  The next *official* follow-up was Billy Jack Goes to Washington, which was a big, bloated disaster.  While the previous films were cheap, but big money makers, this film cost a lot (for the time) and didn't make much cash.  Part of the problem: they spent an estimated $750,000 building a copycat of the Senate Floor (since they were denied the right to shoot at the real one).  Before that film, he made today's film.  It's ostensibly a Western, but it's still very much a Laughlin film.  How so?  Well, it was Produced by his Production Company and Directed by his son!  I should note that the film wasn't Written by Laughlin, but it sure feels like it.  You'll see what I mean.  The film is about the titular Gunfighter battling the odds and trying to help- you guessed it- the Indians.  To see how far I made it, read on...
The film begins with the longest narration that I have ever seen.  Star Wars' famous intro- short by comparison.  Oh and it's ponderous Writing makes me *not* want to hear Burgess Meredith's voice.  What have you done to me?

In summary, the Christians used Indians as slaves and everyone fought over gold.  Are you still sure that Laughlin didn't write this?

Oh and Meredith says that the film is 'Part Reality, Part Fiction and Part Fantasy.'  Yeah.
This Indian lady finally comes home to her Village, only to find many of them dead and the rest vanished.  The film manages to make this whole Plot Point seem silly in a minute.

Incidentally, is it Racist to comment that the placement of her mole makes me sometimes question what kind of Indian she is?  Maybe a little.  Good thing I didn't say that then.
Laughlin and his...beard, I guess, are the film's hero.  He worked with the gang that attacked the Village, but didn't take part.  Nuance- what's that?  He leaves the Gang, but doesn't actually help any of the Indians.

However, all of the blame gets thrown on him and the film jumps ahead...3 Years.  The life expectancy was about 28 back then- that's a big jump!
Laughlin decides to hide from everyone as...The Master Gunfighter.  That's hiding, huh?  Why not wear a glowing sign with your name on it?

Naturally, some men track him down and interrupt his show...which is mostly him showing off his sword skills.  Why, you ask?
Well, this film is actually a Remake of Goyokin, a Samurai film.  That explains why the last part I watched had a bunch of Cowboys sword-fighting!  Tom, if you wanted to make a Western, make one.  If you wanted to make a Samurai film, well, make that.  Pick one!

Did I stop watching after this because of apathy or because the film went off of Streaming?  Yes.  The End.
It's...not an easy one.  I wouldn't qualify this as one of the worst films that I have had to endure by any means.  The biggest problem is the opening Narration.  Seriously, you guys ruined Burgess Meredith for me.  I have to watch my Blu-Ray of Batman: The Movie just to cleanse my palette now!  This movie is just so full of itself that it's annoying.  I know- Tom Laughlin full of himself, big surprise!  That Narration is more pretentious than a College Lecture on the Origin of Man delivered by a French Professor smoking a long cigarette!  This is a Western!  You can make nuanced stories in them, but you don't have to be so dense about it.  The Master Gunfighter is an arty Remake that wants you to go in expecting a normal Western and then 'stay for the life-changing message.'  I didn't.  I'm pretty sure that most people didn't.  It's still better than Billy Jack Goes to Washington.  At least I had to LOOK UP that it was a Remake.  Take us away, favor for your wife...
Let's clear the air with some Horror.  To help finish off my Horror Set, I'll go back to Slaughter High.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ridiculously-Cool Cover-Art: The Last Days of Man on Earth

The previous Art shown for this Robert Fuest film was weird as hell, featuring an Ape Man, twins and floating planets.  This is much cooler...
I still don't know what the hell this movie is about (at least based on the Posters), but this is quite awesome!

How can you NOT want to see this film after this shot of a glowing and metallic Angel lady and those floating orbs?!?  Gold.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Raw is BOOM!: 12 Round 2- Reloaded

There are at least twelve things wrong with this title.  Today's film is 12 Round 2 (ugh): Reloaded.  For the record, I don't know how 'Reloaded' makes a damn bit of sense in this title.  I could see it if the title was a play on words involving a gun (e.c. 6 Shooter 2: Reloaded) or some sort of computer lingo (e.c. Trojan Horse 2: Reloaded).  In this film, the title refers to a 'game' that our hero is forced to play.  How the hell do you reload that?  Here's something you'll probably never hear me say again: maybe you should drop the number from your title.  It hurts my soul a bit, but there you go.  Let's address another thing: WWE Films would barely exist without John Cena.  He starred in their first film (The Marine), starred in a few more (12 Rounds, Legendary, The Reunion) and you wouldn't have a few more without him (The Marine 2, The Marine 3, 12 Rounds 2).  You could argue that they'd still have their *better* films without him too, I guess.  In Marine 2, now-unemployed WWE Star Ted DiBiase Jr was the lead, while The Miz took over in Marine 3.  However, the job wasn't always his.  To make a long story short, Randy Orton does not have a good personal relationship with the U.S. Military due to his Service Record.  So when enough people complained, the 10-Time Champion was out and...The Miz was in.  Plan B: Orton can star in 12 Rounds 2 instead.  Do you care what the plot is?  Rather than waste any more time with information that 98% of you probably don't care about, let's dive right in...
In a rather cold open, our hero (Orton) tries to save the victims of a rather lax automobile accident.  He saves two guys from it, but the woman dies.

I say 'rather lax' since one car bumps into the other at about 15 MPH and the film cuts to Orton's reaction.  When they cut back, one of the cars has flipped.  I haven't had to ask this since Subspecies IV, but how the hell did this crash occur?
A Year Later, Orton is still working as an EMT.  At the end of his work day, him and his partner take a call to help a man with mysterious injuries.

Obviously, this is part of the bad guy's plan.  My question: what was his plan if they DIDN'T take the call?  Did he have a spare proxy?
Since everyone else was doing it, this film rips off The Dark Knight.  In this case, it's the old 'Cell Phone in the stomach to trigger a bomb' bit.  Joy.
This, naturally, is the set-up by a mysterious man to force Orton to play '12 Rounds' to save his girlfriend.

It's the guy who's wife was killed in the crash.  Everyone figured that out, right?  Okay, good.
This is a Direct-to-DVD film, so let's throw in some boobs.  Okay, good.
This is the lady and her team investigating the crimes/events that occur due to Orton's actions.  They add very little to the story, other than to pad the film out by having them revisit sets we just saw five minutes earlier.
It's important to remember that Orton's EMT is a normal guy.  He's an every-man.  He...just Suplexed this guy on the hood of a car.  Okay.
Here's another realistic moment for you.  When explosions go off, people start to fly backwards before they actually occur.  Gravity is a bitch.
Will Orton survive all 12 Rounds?  Will he catch the villain?  Will someone ever learn that naming a Bar 'Karma' is an accident waiting to happen?  To find out, watch the film.  The End.
Eh, I could give or take another Round.  It's not bad.  It's not all that good.  It's...adequate.  12 Rounds 2 is nothing special, nor is it something especially-awful.  Like The Marine 3, it's not all that bad or memorable.  Hell, The Marine 2 was surprisingly-complacent too.  Are John Cena sequels doomed to be so...middle-of the-road?  Well, for my sake, I sure hope not.  At least I can take solace that I beat Maynard to yet another WWE Films production.  I suppose I could talk about how the Acting is decent.  Granted- Orton can only manage to do 'mad' or 'mildly-mad.'  There's a scary bit in the beginning when he has to make *gasp* cute small talk with his wife.  That's scarier than any Freddy-based Nightmare.  The biggest compliment I can give the film is that it does do some interesting riffs on the basic plot structure of 12 Rounds (which I won't SPOIL).  There are two problems though.  One- they give up on the biggest one of them halfway, rendering my compliment kind of moot.  Second- this mildly-clever idea only seems that way if you've seen 12 Rounds (1).  I have, but I bet I could find a lot of you that haven't.  The film grossed about $2 Million in Limited Theatrical Release and an estimated $25 Million in DVD/Blu-Ray sales, so it wasn't exactly Avatar.  If you like Direct-to-DVD Action, you'll like this.  If you're looking for something unique, maybe avoid the Direct-to-DVD Sequel of a John Cena film.  Take us away, Def Comedy Jam EMT...
Next up, Billy Jack goes to the Old West.  Naturally, the plot involves Indians (and probably him building ANOTHER Indian School).  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Forgotten Toons: Freakazoid

I love this weird stuff!  Freakazoid was the third show produced under the supervision of Steven Spielberg.  It followed in the 'footsteps' of Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.  To give you an idea of how little appreciation is thrown towards this show, the latter two are currently running in Syndication on the HUB Network, a Channel that runs new shows and older ones (like Batman and Superman).  Why no love for Dexter Douglas?!?  If you don't know about the show, I'll give you what-for...
Frekazoid is the alias of Dexter Douglas, your typical nerd.  Bad posture, glasses- the whole kitten caboodle.  Thanks to a freak accident, he gets sucked into the Internet and the combined data overwhelms his mind, turning him into Freakazoid.

Did that make any sense?  No.  Good- it's not really supposed to.  He has to have an origin story, so there.
The real meat of the show is the characters.  What they do and why is almost secondary.  They include...

1. Inspector Cosgrove: A Police Officer (voiced by Ed Asner) is a deep-voiced guy who is easily distracted.  It's a running joke that Freakazoid goes to him when danger is afoot and they go off somewhere else.  It could be The Jelly Museum, a Go-Kart Track, whatever.
2. The Douglas Family: They don't do much, but they play a nice Midwestern droll to Freakazoid's insanity.  His brother is a jerk, so he usually gets his comeuppance from Freakazoid aka The Blue Guy.
3. Steff: A classmate who's in love with Freakazoid, but can't stand Dexter.  As a parody of Superhero culture, they play with this Lois & Clark dynamic a lot early on.  As shown in 'The Island of Dr. Mystico,' this dynamic is even more confusingly-silly.
4. Roddy: He's a Scottish Computer Programmer (voiced by Craig Ferguson) who has ties to Freakazoid's origin.  He plays a bigger role in the second part of the show.
5. Ingmar: who's introduced as a mostly one-off bit.  The joke: he's a Mute Butler who Freakazoid doesn't watch.  All he can do is wave ineffectively in the background.
6. Professor Jones- Ingmar's replacement is a snooty, but loyal man who doesn't like indignity.  Voiced by the late Johnathan Harris, he's privy to a running joke about the Actor's most famous character- Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.
7. Your Announcer: Joe Leahy voices the show's Announcer.  He likes to chime in when he feels like it and actually acts as a Character in one Episode (I won't say which).  If you ever wanted to see an Animated Narrator playing a real (animated) person *playing a character,* this is your show.
Of course, no hero is complete without his villains.  Rather than having to make my own composite image like I did for The Monster Squad, someone already did...
The show's insanity is really highlighted by the villains it features.  Cave Guy is a super-strong Country Club snob who talks like Thurston Howell.  Candlejack is a spectral entity that appears when you say his name and likes to say 'boo.'  Longhorn is a criminal who got radical plastic surgery to look like a bull and wants revenge on Nashville for rejecting his demo.  Invisibo (who, sadly, only appears twice) is an Egyptian Noble who's invisible and talks like Vincent Price.
Sometimes even the one-off villains are wacky in origin alone.  Arms Akimbo, for example, is a former Male Model who's a criminal since his arms have locked in the 'Akimbo' position.  No, really.
There is something that has to be discussed as well.  There was a controversy when the show Debuted that it was a rip-off of the comic Madman.  I don't agree, but let me just put up this comparison shot all the same.
There are also some differences between Season 1 and 2.  In the first Season, Episodes were made up of three to four segments.  The reason for the multiple parts was to highlight Shorts for ancillary characters.  It's what they did for all of the other shows.

For Freakazoid, you'd get to see The Huntsman, The Lawn Gnomes (sadly, a one-off), Fatman & segments where Freakazoid teaches you Norwegian.  By now, you should realize that I'm not making that last one up.

In summary, Freakazoid is a weird, wacky piece of my childhood.  It has very little continuity, very little common sense and very little to complain about.  As an adult, the show still holds up.  If you can accept that it's not to be taken seriously, you can have a great time.  What other show features Cameos by the President of the MPAA?  What other show features a guy who looks like Lon Chaney Jr and actually transforms into the Wolfman (in fake time-lapse to boot!)?  What other show features a new car for its character, followed by a fake commercial for it (mocking the Cartoon As A Way To Sell Toys cliche)?  Hell, what show could combine a parody of Amadeus with a Guest Appearance by famous Home Repair Guru Norm Abrams?!?  If you haven't seen Freakazoid, you need to.  It's a work of ridiculous art that crazy people like me love.
Got a Cartoon that I haven't featured yet?  If so, shoot me a comment and I'll give it a look.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Impossibly-Weird Cover Art: Last Days of Man on Earth

What the hell is this?!?  I mean, really, what is this?  Look for yourself...
Charlton Heston grew up an Ape Head and decided to fight back!  Oh and sorry about that Future- you'll sell well on DVD.
So what actually is this?

Well, it's a Sci-Fi Film by Robert Fuest (R.I.P.) that's more well-known to Americans as The Final Programme.

Wait- why did we get that title?  It's not terrible, but the other one is SO much better!

Next up, another cover to this film.  Instead of being so strange, it's super-shiny!  Stay tuned...

2,200th Post Celebration: Come Out And Play

Seriously, I really need a hobby!  We're up to the 2,200th Post here at Mondo Bizarro.  In honor of that monumental achievement, here's the recent Remake of a film that very few people in America have actually seen.  Yeah, I could see why you would do that.  The film in question: Who Can Kill A Child?  The remake: Come Out and Play.  You know what I love? It's renaming your Remake to make it not obvious that you are one.  You also get bonus points for removing the line from the original film that actually *makes the title apply.*  Seriously, there is a line in Child about inviting the Adults to 'come out and play.'  It's not in this film.  We're off to a great start.  Can the film get one more strike against it?  The Director is some guy called 'Makinov.'  Yeah, that does it.  In all seriousness, I've meant to watch/review this since I saw it on Streaming awhile back.  The time is now!  The short version: killer kids chase a couple around.  To see if this feels familiar in more ways than one, read on...
The film is all about build-up.  It takes a while to actually get to the interesting stuff.

In place of all that interesting shit, here's a shot of our hero taking a piss.  Yes, this happens.
Just like in Children of the Corn- which, to be fair, was published a year after the original was released-, the couple wander around for a bit until they see a child or two.  It's a while still until they actually see a reason to be scared of him.

This film does have one issue: if the kids started killing everyone yesterday, how did the barely-mobile old man live this long?
When you're faced with small children who could easily be knocked down, it's best to run away!

Yes, they do kill people, but I think even The Orphans could take out these...well, orphans.
I won't SPOIL what happens to him, but I will say this: you sir are a moron.  Seriously- you're dumb as shit!
Our heroes seek a place to hide in Gatlin, but...wait...wrong movie.  Pretend you didn't see that.
I also won't SPOIL the context of this shot, but I will say that the scene in question begs to be explained.  Naturally, it is not.

Look- mystery is neat and all, but there's a point where you really just can't be bothered to explain a thing.
Like in the original film, the point where the question about whether you can kill a child is kind of disappointing.  They treat it dramatically, but it really just exposes a fallacy in Film Standards.

Can our heroes survive?  Can the Children be stopped?  Will the girl on the far left learn to look in the right direction and not at her Mother?  To find out, watch the movie!  The End.
I suppose some of you may be more bothered by this.  Here's the thing: I'm a little jaded.  That said, I'm not going to pretend that the idea of these kids stabbing people to death, playing with heads and making ear necklaces was amusing.  The problem is that some major concession have to be made for us (as people) to allow this film to happen.  In one scene where they stab a guy, we never see the (prop) knife in the same shot as the body.  Is it because they couldn't afford to fake stabbings?  Of course not.  We just can't allow the image of a kid *actually* stabbing a guy to happen.  Likewise, the idea of showing violence done directly towards anyone under (around) 16 is just now allowed.  As the 2009 Remake of Corn showed us, you can murder LOTS of teenagers, but don't touch that fourteen year-old!  Mind you, I'm not *calling* for scenes of children being tortured or anything- I just want equality.  As far as the film goes, you have to accept that they don't want to explain alot, accept that the a lot of the kid actors aren't that good at looking scary (which is why only a few appear constantly) and accept that everything is going to be bleak.  I wasn't all that impressed by the total package, but it's got lots of atmosphere.  If you're open-minded and not afraid of a film that (kind of) touches upon our taboos, check it out.  It says a lot that not much has changed in a film that's a Remake of one made 36 years earlier.  Take us away, crass American marketing...
Next up, another WWE Films Production.  Instead of something new, it's a sequel to a John Cena film without The Champ.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Unholy Comedy: Rapture-Palooza

Is it still sacrilegious if it's funny?  Well, yeah.  Even so, this movie is kind of both.  Today's film is Rapture-Palooza, an Indy film that has a lot of good Comedians in it.  The plot is pretty much designed to offend those who can't take a joke.  The Rapture happens, leading to the Anti-Christ taking over.  This guy, however, is more horny than anything else.  When he lays eyes upon our heroine, he wants to make her his.  So can she stop this unholy creature and protect her virginity?  The film, as I mentioned, features a slew of recognizable people in silly roles.  Among the Cast there is Thomas Lennon, Anna Kendrick, Paul Scheer, Craig Robinson (of D-War fame), Rob Heubel, John Michael Higgins, Rob Corddry and Ana Gasteyer (aka the only SNL Cast Member not to be in Southland Tales).  The whole thing was made on the cheap, but that doesn't stop it from being good.  To see if this film is worth going to Hell over, read on...
The film begins at the Ending, which is kind of a weird touch.  There are still many surprises to be had though.  Even so, odd choice.
So, the Rapture happens.  This is an early sign of the film's budget.  To be fair, they at least make it look amusing and really seem like it was an intentional choice.

In their defense as well, this is at least a Comedy.  If this were Reservation Road, i'd be singing a different tune.
In the first notable Comedian role, Lennon plays a Wraith (read: Zombie) who is more driven to mow his lawn than to kill/eat people.  I guess it works on the same logic as the Zombies in Dawn of the Dead going to the Mall.
Next we have the two Robs.  Rob Corddry plays the boyfriend's father, who took very quickly to working for evil.  Rob Huebel, meanwhile, plays the Anti-Christ's Head of Security.  They're both kind of dicks.

Oh and two other things.  1) Paul Scheer plays one of the Gate Guards and 2) That is a giant cannon in the background.
Robinson plays the Anti-Christ, a man who took over in kind of a silly manner (which I won't SPOIL).  He's all about base desires and pleasure, which leads to...
Him choosing our heroine (Kendrick) to be his new Wife.  Her Mother (Gasteyer) takes it well, I think.
Our heroes come up with a complex plan.  What could possibly go wrong?

Oh and if you think that a plan in Movie will work perfectly, you really need to watch more movies.
See- I told you so!  Now who feels silly?
I won't SPOIL the bizarre and convoluted Ending to the film.  Telling you what happens doesn't really do it justice anyhow.  Their looks say it all.
It's certainly a hard sell.  The film is funny alot of the time, but always 'off.'  That's intentional, mind you, but it is going to make it a bit polarizing.  There are weird gags like jerk grasshoppers (you have to see them!), insulting Ravens and all of the Anti-Christ's dialogue.  You want a sign of how evil he is?  In one bit, he talks about how The Chronicles of Riddick is an under-appreciated film.  Blasphemy!  Speaking of 'blasphemy,' the subject matter is sure to offend many people.  The title alone tells you how seriously they treat the subject matter.  Honestly, I'm not that religious, so I was fine with it.  That said, I can obviously see why it would bother people.  This is especially true about the Ending (which, again, I'm not going to SPOIL).  How it all resolves is certainly going to bother some people.  To be fair, if you make it to the end of a film called Rapture-Palooza, you probably are forfeiting your right to be offended.  As a whole, it's a mixed-bag of Comedy.  If you're a weirdo like me, you'll probably enjoy it alot.  If you're less weird, you'll probably find it to be 'okay' for the most part.  If you're easily offended, well, the film is called Rapture-Palooza.  It's like renting Cannibal Holocaust and then being offended at the Rape Scene in the Climax.  Yes, it is a rough scene.  At that point, however, you'll have seen live animals being killed, a girl impaled on a spike and, well, picked a film to watch called Cannibal Holocaust.  As far as this film goes, how can you say 'no' to that face?
Next up, Mondo Bizarro's 1,300th Post.  If you can guess what I'm going to cover, you're ahead of me right now.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Crazy Youth: That Time Freakazoid Fought Dr. Mystico and the 4th Wall!

How do you pick just one?

With a ton of Episodes/Segments to choose from in Freakazoid's 2 Seasons, I was pretty torn.  Deep down, I knew that it had to be 'The Island of Dr. Mystico.'  It riffs on Mad Scientist Movies, movies about mutants and even throws a nod to Plan 9 From Outer Space.  Throw in Leonard Maltin and a former Secretary of State & you've got a real winner.  This one sums up the show pretty well, throwing in more 4th Wall breaks than usual and just generally being silly.  To see a glimpse into something that's even better as an Adult than as a kid, read on...
Leonard Maltin introduces the Episode by saying that it's 'one of the most pointless Freakazoid adventures ever made.'  He also explains that it was popular with Critics, until they realized that it wasn't European.

After that, he's abducted by a giant Ape-Man.  No, really.
The 'plot' involves Freakazoid flying all of the show's major criminals- Cave Guy, Longhorn, Candle Jack (who doesn't appear when you type his name...I hope), Cobra Queen and The Lobe- to France, Europe (as they call it).  We don't want them, after all.

It's around this point that they throw in a great Plan 9 homage.  Here's a side-by-side comparison of the infamous 'Boom Mic Shadow' moment.
This show takes nothing serious- which is why I love.  Case in point: Freakazoid tells The Lobe to look out 'the left side of the plane' over the P.A. and suddenly appears on the wing, just to scare him.  Ha.
The titular Dr. Mystico uses an extremely-silly device to cause them to crash on his titular Island.  Just look at that.
The group gets picked off one-by-one by mysterious foes.  That leads to a random aside about...
The Buddy System.  It's stuff like that- plus the monkey footage- that makes me love this show.  You were never quite sure what would happen next.

They actually joked on Commentary for 1 Episode about how a segment had a coherent, straight-forward narrative.  The reason: it was guest-written by Paul Dini.  Classic.
Dr. Mystico finally reveals himself and wants to take some time to savor his victory.  However, Freakazoid has a harsh truth for him.
He explains that he wants to make half-man/half-orangutan mutants to conquer Cleveland...I mean, the World.  With our heroes, Leonard Maltin and Henry Kissinger (I won't SPOIL how) in his clutches, who can stop him?

Well, it's Freakazoid's new Intern, of course.  He shows up with the key to their cell, their messages and some coffee in about ten seconds flat.  Only on Freakazoid, folks.
Our heroes decide to take a stand.  They have great powers and they're going to fight, dammit!
On second thought, never mind.  They just run away instead.

See you in Season 3.  Oh...right.  Never mind.  The End.
Freaking awesome!  Freakazoid was a silly show.  The thing about it was that it was the natural escalation of WB Shows starting with Tiny Toon Adventures.  The shows grew up with my generation and helped us turn into insane adults.  Thanks, Cartoons!  In the 2nd Season, the show transitioned into full-length Episodes, as opposed to three or four short segments.  While I'm torn on that, it does help in cases like this.  The Episode really has 'room to breath' here and let the silliness sink in.  The 4th Wall is smashed to pieces on numerous occasions in this Episode alone.  In one bit, we learn that 'Freakazoid only acts that way for TV.'  Mind you, this is said by his cartoon girlfriend.  Go ahead- rationalize that.  I love that there was a kid's show that referenced Plan 9 From Outer Space (among others) as well.  It's just a nice touch to show that they are not pandering to the lowest common denominator.  If you like wacky stuff, you really need to check this show out.  It's the only show I can think of to break the 4th Wall, teach you basic Norwegian and reference an Ed Wood film.  What do you think, Kissinger?
Up next, Spider-Man graces the segment yet again (it's just that weird!).  The story involves people from the future, Doctor Octopus and the common cold.  Stay tuned...