Sunday, November 30, 2014

Moon Over Miami: Josh Kirby, Time Warrior- Journey to the Magic Cavern

It seems to take me longer to get around to these, doesn't it?  After the last 4 Films, can you blame me?  I didn't think so.  So let's talk about Josh Kirby, Time Warrior and his latest adventure called (The) Journey to the Magic Cavern. not a direct rip-off of another Film, so that's one point for it.  It is still inherently a rip-off of the Doctor Who tale 'The Keys of Time' though.  I still won't let that go, no.  We are now five 'Episodes' into this and we are building up to the Main Event.  In this one, Josh and company meet some Mushroom People- of the Matango family?-, battle a villain and set up for the final 'Episode.'  I'll give them credit for introducing a Plot Twist, even if it seems to make no sense to me.  With all of the recap out of the way, let's go spelunking...
The Mushroom people seem to worship Josh and company's terrible puppet...I mean, companion.  However, the bad news is that the Nullifier pieces disappeared when they landed on this new world.
They want to go looking for them, but the King (and his only semi-convincing make-up- says 'No.'
That little bit of Drama buys them about five minutes.  Other Mushroom Men agree to let them go, bringing the puppet along to sense the pieces for them.
So they Journey through the Magic Cavern looking for the pieces, but also looking for a missing Mushroom Man who can cure their female companion- who took a bite out of him and is now poisoned.

There's a minor conflict about what their priority should be, amounts to very little for now.
They find a Cave which is where many Mushroom Men have gone missing.  There can't be anything to it, can there?
They best the beast by discovering its remote control-using owner.  As for their lady companion, they arrive too late.  They needed more time.

Josh summons his power up- which he has now, remember?- to somehow reverse time five minutes just around her, allowing the cure to work.  Have fun with that, Scientists!
Shockingly, the guy who captured and brainwashed the Mushroom People for his Circus is not as trustworthy as they thought.

They stop him, although the People decide that they still want to see the Universe- just of their own free will.
In the aftermath, Josh literally stumbles upon the final Nullifier piece, only to fall and have to be saved by...the villain?

He claims that the Doctor Who-knock off is actually the Villain.  Before Josh can get any proof, the Villain is shot by 'the Doctor.'  Is he really evil?!?
According to the Teaser for the next 'Episode,' the answer is 'yes.'  That...seems to come out of nowhere, right?  Weird.  The End (for now).
Not their best, but also not their worst.  The Film does a slow build-up to the finale, which is certainly less than I expected.  You have one 'Episode' left to sell me on your big Finale, so you spend 80% of it dicking around in a Cave?  I know that alot will happen in the actual Finale (since they showed me most of it in the Teaser!), but this still feels like a missed opportunity.  The most they do is vaguely-set-up the good Doctor as being evil.  This makes the Ending feel quite out of nowhere!  I don't recall anything in the previous Episodes even hinting at this Plot Twist.  When Josh questions the 'Villain' on always trying to kill them, he says that he just saved him now.  Yes, but...that doesn't answer the question now, does it?  That's all he says at first, so...what?  He offers to let Josh use a never-before-mentioned power to prove his claim, but that is stopped.  As for the rest of the Story, I liked that I couldn't specifically point to one or two things that they were copying here, although I'm sure that there is some of that here (given their record).  The make-up work for the Mushroom People is mostly pretty good, although some of it is better than ever.  The new villain is over-the-top fun, but comes too late and doesn't do enough.  What a waste.  He's the Sci-Fi equivalent of Wild Wild West's (the movie) Dr. Loveless.  The worst thing I can say is that this one does very little to stand out.  The aliens are fun, but the Story just kind of meanders until a sudden J-Turn of an Ending.  One more to go, sadly-underused-Villain...
Next up, I celebrate Cyber Monday with a Horror Film with an Internet twist.  Can the return of a Japanese Horror Favorite succeed?  Stay tuned...

Impossibly-Goofy Cover Art: Corruption

I have no idea what this Film is actually about or whether or not it is good.

I know this: Corruption has an hilariously-goofy Poster!

You went with this?!?

I can't decide whether or not to be offended or to laugh.  Can I do both?

Great.  Thanks.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Zoned Out: Tooth & Consequences

It is Saturday and we are now going to take our weekly trip into...
In this Segment, we see the Tale of a man who hates his life...but will learn that things can always be worse.
This Dentist (the guy on the right) hates his job.  Nobody likes him and he doesn't want to take it.
He chases away all of his Patients for the day and loses his latest Receptionist.  What could go right?
He tries to hang himself, but falls from the chair into the arms of...The Tooth Fairy?  Yes, Kenneth Mars here is The Tooth Fairy and he grants the man's wishes: he will be loved and respected.
It works.  It really, really works.
Unfortunately, it works TOO WELL and he can't stand the attention.  People are literally mobbing him like he's a shirtless Taylor Lautner in Forever 21.
He ends up 'riding the rails' with some other Hobos.  Why do they understand him?

They were also Dentists who got 'their wish' granted by Mars.  Dun dun dun!  The End.
Another quirky Short from this Series.  This Tale is not complex.  This Tale is not deep.  This Tale is not even super-clever.  What is this Tale?  It is odd, silly and just plain fun.  This poor Dentist is so depressed and then gets everything he wanted...but he can't handle it.  The whole thing is played the right amount of silly for me.  Kenneth Mars plays the role straight, making him stand out next to the Dentist.  He is pretty much the only one here playing it straight too, which is nice too.  He also doesn't do anything overtly magical or anything.  The Dentist says what he wants and he tells him that he got it.  This makes the second half look all the more surreal, as you have no 'proof'' that something really happened.  The twist is a little obvious, but still neat.  These kind of Stories are fun because they happen in their own sort of reality and don't have to match up to anything else.  As a short, fun Twilight Zone tale, this works for me.  As a bonus, it was Directed by Robert Downey Sr- weird!
Coming next week, a Food Critic makes one enemy too many.  What's the worst thing that can happen when you eat out?  Stay tuned...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Old-School 'Holiday' Flix: Black Friday (1940)

Thanks again, Svengoolie.  On Saturday night, METV (check your local listings) is must see for me as one of the few Horror Hosts still active (and in Syndication) is on.  A few weeks back, he showed this Film and it just seems appropriate.  After all, this was Black Friday before it became about Moms beating each other Battle Royale-style over an Elmo doll.  In this Old School tale, a Doctor (Boris Karloff) does some daring surgery to save his friend's life.  It has complications, however, as the mystery that is the brain (especially in 1940) arise.  Is having a part of a Mobster's brain enough to make you turn to crime?  Is it alright to use your friend to find hidden money (if you intend to use it for good)?  How the hell did Bela Lugosi end up in such a small role?  To take a fun glimpse to the past (including Doctors that smoke around Patients), read on...
The Film begins right before the End with Karloff on Death Row.  He hands his Diary to a Reporter, who proceeds to 'work his way through the case...'
Karloff's friend- a History Teacher- gets a brain injury due to being hit by a Mobster's Car during a chase.  He has damaged parts of his brain, so Karloff just kills the Mobster and takes his!
As Karloff tries to help his friend return to normal, he discovers that he is going through mood swings and remembers things that he didn't experience.  Is he getting memories from the Mobster?
Karloff takes the man to New York City (under the auspices of helping him) to prove his theory: that he now shares the personality of the Mobster.

Oh and the Mobster hid $100,000.  That may be important.
The problem: the Mobster personality takes control at will (played by the same Actor) and seeks revenge on the men he worked with.  After all, they tried to kill him.

Why is Bela such a small role here (and never on-screen with Boris)?  Good question, actually.
The money is found and Karloff seems to repress the Mobster's personality.  However, the sound of a car misfiring triggers its return and he goes after Karloff- rightly thinking that he took the money.

Boris shoots him to save his Daughter, leading to him now being on Death Row.  Brain Surgery never pays.  The End.
Old School in all of the good and bad ways.  Black Friday is a Film who's Plot makes less sense as time goes on, but that's okay.  I don't think that people *really* believed in the idea of memories/personality being transferred this way.  Mind you, Brain Surgery was around for about maybe 50 years (in some form) at the time of this Film's release, so less information was known.  It worked because people didn't know so much about the process then.  It still kind of works today, however, if you just go 'this is a Fantasy.'  The Film's strong points include the good Direction, good performances by the Leads and its attempt to experiment with new Story ideas.  Is this one a bit odd when you think about it?  Yes.  However, the twist on the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde thing and Karloff's character having shades of gray (at first, at least) is nice.  He is far from the atypical Mad Scientist, which I like.  It is also worth noting how well the Professor/Mobster does.  Without major make-up work or anything like that, he plays both roles and looks different enough to fool you.  It is both complex and subtle.  As a whole, Black Friday is a neat bit of Noir mixed with Fantasy.  While they don't interact, you do get Bela and Boris in one Film.  It is not as memorable as their other 'team-ups,' but also deserves more attention than it gets.  Enjoy your Shopping, while I enjoy neat Posters like this...
Up next, the return of a Full Moon Series in 6 Parts.  I'm almost done with Josh Kirby, I care?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rare Holiday Flix: Home Sweet Home (1981)

Happy Hollandaise, Internet.  In honor of this time of giving thanks (hey- I just got that!) and togetherness, here's a Slasher Film.  Let's be honest: there's one for every Holiday, right?  Halloween, Christmas and even Mother's Day (twice!)- set.  I think the only one that's missing is a Film where a man dresses like a Tree and kills people on Arbor Day.  Hey anyone but Troma- get on that!  That brings me to today's Film- Home Sweet Home.  This 1981 Slasher was made right at the beginning the Genre's peak, which is actually a bad thing.  While they hadn't gotten bogged down in doing the same Plot 1,000 times at this point, there was a different problem.  Copycats.  In the wake of Films like Friday the 13th, alot of people thought that they could replicate the success.  The result was films like this- many of whom didn't have a long shelf life.  In this case it is a bit more literal, as I think the Film only really had a life on Video Store Shelves.  You know- those big Redbox Units.  I found this on a Streaming site and I really doubt that there is a proper DVD release for it.  No love, Anchor Bay?  In this story, a crazy person kills people, goes to a house full of jerks and kills more people.  Do you want to hate the victims (save for the little girl and Final Girl) and the Killer (who laughs like an idiot all the time)?  If so, you're in luck.  Just for fun, let me Review this is a Haiku.  So gather everyone (even that Uncle who thinks that Obama is a Maoist) and read on...
This is Jake (of 'Body By' Fame).  He kills.
Jake laughs while killing people.
This Family sucks.
This is Mistake.  Why a Mime?
Jake meets Mistake.  Death.
Jake kills all but one.  The End.
This is not good.  Here's the thing: there's nobody to root for and no reason to care.  The Killer has no motivation, other than being crazy.  There's no back-story- he's just crazy.  He has no real personality- just laughing while killing.  He doesn't have a unique look- he's (Body By) Jake in street clothes.  He doesn't have anything to make him stand out amongst the Classic killers in the Slasher Genre.  Hell, even among Giallo killers, he is nothing.  Argento's killers spoke in weird voices, had some menace and wore sweet leather gloves.  I cant even point out something among killers from less stellar Giallo films, be it their choice of instrument or their attire.  You get nothing here.  As for the Family, they fight, they yell and they don't get along.  For some of you, that does invoke the spirit of Thanksgiving though!  The people don't have to be perfect, mind you, but I want *someone* to root for.  The only ones that come close are the Parents of the little Girl and her- but that's just cheating.  If you are playing the 'Cute little Girl' card, you have nothing else going for you.  There is some perverse charm in Jake's bizarre presence and how seemingly-unkillable he is, but that is pretty much it.  Feel free to skip this one and enjoy your Cranberry Sauce- only do it in moderation, unlike Jake here.
In honor of Black Friday, I have something in mind.  Considering the fact that I've already seen a Film called Black Friday, this makes sense.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old School Flix: Night of the Demon (1957)

No Bigfoots here!  Today's Film is Night of the Demon- at least in the U.K. it is.  I'll get to that momentarily.  This 1957 Film has some good pedigree behind it, being based on a well-regarded Short Story and being Directed by Jacques Tourneur.  The Film tells the tale of a skeptic who is forced to become a believer when his life depends on it!  The Film had some issues before it came out though.  First off, the Director insisted that the monster never be shown.  I kind of see what he's going for...but it wouldn't have been my call.  Of course, he made alot more Films than I ever have, so I won't argue with the late Director too much.  The other thing was a number of cuts made for the U.S. Market and a title change.  Night was cut by around 12 minutes- to 83 minutes- and was given a new (but also effective) Title.  Here's the rub: later Releases were actually returned to full (like mine)...but kept the same Title of the recut version.  Life is confusing sometimes.  The important question is this: is the Film good?  To find out, read on...
Just to reiterate: my Streaming Version was 95 minutes, but still had the American recut Title.  Odd.
What are the odds that I would get a second Film within a month that shows us Stonehenge?  Pretty low, right?
In the opening Scenes, we see a man- the Uncle of our Heroine- confronted by the Titular creature.  Up to when the Creature appears, I can kind of see what Tourneur was going for.  This is still cool though.
Our Hero goes to London for a a Convention discussing the Paranormal.  As a skeptic, he has a vested interest.

He runs afoul of another man, however, a 'Doctor' who may be running a Cult.  So when he slips our hero a strange business card, something must be up.
He continues to investigate the background of the dead Professor and his previous research.  He meets with the same 'Doctor' later- who tells him that he will die in 3 days.  Ruh roh.
In a bit cut from the original U.S. release, he checks out a local Village and they talk about him being 'marked' and want nothing to do with him.

Will he die?  What is his fate?
He eventually figures out that the card was a mark placed on him to be killed by the Demon.  He has to do something daring and clever to escape a bloody end.
The solution: make sure to be near the man who 'marked' him and pass it on to him.  It actually works and the man is killed by the Demon.  Hurray for trickery.
So did any of that sound familiar?  Well, it should.

Supposedly, Drag Me to Hell was going to be a Remake of this Film, but there was a rights issues.  Instead, he took key issues and made something quite a bit different.  Neat.  The End.
It is definitely better than the 1980 Film, although also quite different.  That Film was all about Gore and Bigfoot, while this is about Atmosphere and dread.  Yes, it does involve a Demon, but his part is smaller than you might think.  Obviously, that has to do with Tourneur's original vision- somewhat- and just the general idea of giving you little of it (to make the scenes more impactful).  This one is about the Characters and watching them try to unravel the mystery.  That means that some of you might not like it- that's fine.  It has a real Old School vibe which I kind of dig.  The dreary Black-and-White Photography aids in this, also adding Atmosphere.  It could (and has been) said that Black-and White Films achieve more Atmosphere by using Fog and Smoke than in Color Films.  That is why some people still push for the use of it- like in the Alternate B&W Version of The Mist.  Some are off differing opinion on this- that's fine too.  As the sum of its parts, Night/Curse is a fine Film.  The Pacing and Execution won't please everyone.  On the plus side, the creature was deemed cool enough to get a Statue made out of it...
Next up, we take a break for Thanksgiving to feature some Rare Flix.  Instead of Indians, I have a legitimate Thanksgiving Horror Film!  Stay tuned...

Monday, November 24, 2014

VHS For The Win!: Mansion of the Doomed

After over 2 Years, one of the most frequent Segments of Mondo Bizarro! returns!!!

I found a treasure trove of rare and crazy Films recently and will start to share them with you.  In the meantime, here's an example of what will be coming down the pike!
A big, fun and goofy bit of Box Art!

Is that a giant Edgar Allen Poe?  Is he a ghost?  Is that lady not safe even when she seems to be quite far from the Mansion?

Of course, the main point is the tagline thrown on there.  It is a great example of what you had to do in the big, thriving VHS Market.

I love this stuff.

Rare Flix: Night of the Demon (1980)

Just for the record: it is a coincidence that I'm doing two Bigfoot Films in a row.  Today's Film- Night of the Demon (1980) was in my sights for a while, but I hadn't gotten around to it.  When I discovered that a few similarly-titled Films were also available, I decided to finally see this one. a bit misleading.  Demons is about weird, demon-like monsters.  Night of the Demons is about weird, demon-like monsters.  This Film is about, well, Bigfoot.  I suppose that there is a sort of Satanic tinge to the Film, but not so much that this Title makes alot of sense.  The lone survivor of a large group that went to the Woods tells his Story and it is up to you to believe it.  Okay, that last part is a lie.  If you don't believe it, the Movie still ends the same way.  I'm not sure why I said that.  Anyhow, this is a Video Nasty as well, which is pretty apparent right from the Opening Kill (was it a cliche in 1980?) and this Title Card...
This man is in the Hospital.  He is questioned about why all of his friends are dead.  He has a Story...
His Story is a bit complicated, however, since he first has to tell how he went to a Class where the Teacher played some Bigfoot footage.  Wait- is this Found 1980?  Wow.

A woman shows up and she's the young girl from the footage.  She wants the truth.
With a small group in tow, our hero and his lady go out in the Woods.  They find their source, but he's not exactly friendly.  Plus, he's clearly hiding something.
Further confusing the narrative, our hero tells the other people on the trip about some recent attacks.

So he's telling the Police that he went to the Woods and then told other people a Story about a guy he never met?  Alright.
This especially-goofy kill- he's tossed into a sharp tree branch and dies- is not presented as a Story being told to the group, does our hero know about this?  Did this happen?
Eventually, the group finds Crazy Wanda, a woman who's been living in a Cabin in the Woods (sorry, Joss Whedon).  What's her secret?
Well, as a young lady, she had 'relations' with Bigfoot and gave birth to its child.  However, the Farmer Dad killed it, so she killed him and has been living alone ever since.

Oh and they stop a random Satanic Cult in the Woods.  That amounts to...well, nothing.
Eventually, the Bigfoot shows up and assaults the House they are in Precinct 13-style!  He looks kind of goofy right.
In spite of how silly he looks, he unleashes a bad-ass, slow-motion killing spree on them.  He kills all but our hero (naturally).

In the aftermath, nobody believes the Story(ies), so...that was pointless.  The End.
Easily the most bloody Bigfoot Movie I've seen.  Yea?  This Video Nasty has certainly earned its reputation- for better or for worse.  The Film has a small, Cult fanbase it seems.  Some people love it as a bizarre trainwreck, while others just find it to be so odd that it is great.  It sure is goofy at times.  A man swung and thrown into a pointy tree branch?  Admittedly, a similar bit was done in Prophecy (about the only good part, really), but the sheer random chance of the throw's end elevates this a bit.  You get to see a lady stabbed with a pitchfork by a Bigfoot.  You get to see Bigfoot use an Axe on some dude's head!  You get to see some dude shoved into a giant saw, which is stored blade-upright for some reason!  The Ending is ridiculous and the random kills are bizarre.  Where else do you get to see Adult Girl Scouts stabbed by Bigfoot?  Aside from that, this is a Horror cheapie and isn't that well-Acted.  It is not unwatchable in these times, but it also not for everyone.  If you make it past the first 10 minutes of this Film, you'll probably stay to the End.  I won't say that this is a great Film (by any stretch of the imagination), but it is so odd that Horror Buffs need to see it (or again if they already have).  If I haven't sold you, here's a VHS Cover for it...
Up next, a Film with the same Title (sometimes) from over twenty-years earlier!  Will Bigfoot strike again or will it be something sillier?  Stay tuned...