Monday, March 31, 2014

Moon Over Miami: Josh Kirby...Time Warrior: Trapped on Toyworld

As you can see, I am in no rush to wrap up this series.  Today's film is the next Chapter in the Josh Kirby...Time Warrior series: Trapped on Toyworld.  For those who havent kept up (or cared to), here's what you need to know.  Some time in the future, people made a device called the (not Ultimate) Nullifier, which would allow them to control/shape reality.  Quick question: why?  Seriously, like Heaven Guns, I have to ask why this was a thing.  Anyhow, a battle for control of it takes place between a man I'll call Not Doctor Who and The Films' Only Black Character (who has a silly name).  The battle rages onto Josh's front yard and he gets sucked into it.  In the first film, he helps a rebellion involving Knights, peasants and two Dinosaurs.  That led into an adventure based blatantly on the film Wizards.  They managed to escape the world of giant children, but the villain causes their ship to haywire and Josh falls out!  This is the half-way point in the six-part series, so let's see if they can make something happen. To find out, read on...
Josh falls out of the ship and through an incandescent version of the Sliders portal.  He lands in the Woods (perhaps the same ones he was in for Quest of the Delta Knights).

Time Tunnels are so weird that they make Josh's sleeve grow back!  Science!
Josh is now on Toyworld, a place that is self-explanatory.  It is also a bit creepier than they intended for this 'cute' world to be.  Right, Legally-Distinct-From-Raggedy-Anne?
She takes him to Toy World, which you will note is listed as two words...but not in the title.  Yeah, I'm OCD like that.

More importantly, it has what is supposed to be a talking egg in a bowl...but looks like a dildo.  For kids!
The villain- Professor Zoetrope, in case you care- arrives looking for the next piece of the Nullifier.  His weapons don't work, however, thanks to Geppetto, the Ruler of the land.

Of note, Geppetto is played by the same man who was the lead in Please, Don't Eat My Mother, which was 80% porn.  Things change in 20 years, I guess.
Not Doctor Who does pretty much nothing for this story.  The ship is damaged by Not Nukie (don't ask) and he spends 99% of the Run Time bitching about it on the Ship.  Thanks for nothing, Not Time Lord.
Here's some fresh Nightmare Fuel for you.  Enjoy.
So Josh is confronted by a hologram of Dr. Zoetrope, who tells him that he is a Time Warrior.  Really?  It's only in the Title!

Oh and he doesn't do anything else to actually stop Josh at this point.  What a sporting villain!
He finally makes a big play to get the item he wants and to take out Josh.  He uses his newly-discovered powers to...call on a radio for help.  It probably sounded better in the Script.

Gepetto saves the day by arriving just in time with...a bunch of pies. Yeah, they save the day with a pie fight.  Thanks, Pennywise!
The trio escape with the Nullifier Piece, but their ship is attacked again.

The film ends with a cliffhanger of them about to be hit by...a train...in a time tunnel...projected on their cheap TV/VHS Player?  Alright.  The End (for now).
Was it worth the wait?  I guess.  Honestly, let me put this into perspective.  Josh Kirby...Time Warrior is a Made-for-VHS/DVD Film Serial aimed at a young audience.  So, to put it simply: I am not the Demographic.  You could argue that I was the Demographic when it was released in 1995, I guess.  With that in mind, let me begin to tear the thing apart!  It is goofy, it is inept and it is really not that good.  The whole idea of a kid thrown into a bunch of crazy worlds/times is good.  What they do with it is just kind of alright.  Toyworld- really?  That's the best you could do?  Never mind that you went from them being treated as Toys in the last 'Episode' and now Josh is teamed up with actual Toys.  You had literally all of theoretical Time and Space to work with and you just ripped off Babes in Toyland.  Wow.  Full Moon, you can do...okay, I can't really finish that sentence.  You guys just made Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong last year, so I know that you can't really do better.  In the End, I do still want to see how this whole thing works out, but I'm not exactly in a rush.  I'll leave you with the many faces of Buck Kartalan on Mondo Bizarro.
Next up, what happens when a rare OOP film becomes more available?  The answer- I review it!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mondo Bizarro's Top 10 Weirdest Dracula Films

Dracula is cool.  Dracula is scary.  To some people, Dracula is even sexy.

However, here are ten oddities that may dispel your opinion about the Character in many ways.

10. Doctor Dracula: The Count's part in this Al Adamson film is pretty straight-forward.  However, the film was originally Written as a film about a Cult full of people reincarnating for power.  To help sell it, Drac was added to the film.  Sigh.

9. Pakistani Dracula: This is a pretty straight-forward version of the tale.  What makes it seem odd is that you *expect* it to be crazier, especially when you see the Mondo Macabre Trailer.  It is weird in parts though.

8. Sundown- The Vampire In Retreat: While Dracula doesn't play a huge part here, the film itself is quite odd (in a good way).  A group of Vampires try to live peacefully on synthetic blood, but a rift emerges.  It is some Vampire-on-Vampire action with a hint of Romance and a love triangle to boot.

7. Bram Stoker's Dracula: The Love Story- To Die For: Its bulky title alone could put it on the list, but it is quite odd too.  There are two Vampires fighting over a girl, although I could have sworn it was a split-personality thing until much later.  Seriously though, who thought up that title?

6. Dracula II- Ascension: One moment can really define a film- for good or bad.  Near the climax, Dracula is escaping from his confinement.  To slow him down, our hero throws a bunch of marbles, since the Count apparently has super OCD.  He uses his powers to count them super-fast (cue bullet time), rendering the plan moot.

No, really.

5. The Killer Barbys vs Dracula: Jesus Franco made this movie about The Count trying to kill a rock band. I need say no more.

4. Dario Argento's Dracula 3-D: The film is a somewhat-loose, somewhat-tight version of the classic Tale.  However, it has some crazy quirks like Dracula turning into a bunch of flies, an Owl and a man-sized Praying Mantis.

That happens.

3. Zoltan...Hound of Dracula: This is a film about Dracula's pet dog.  The dog is also a Vampire.  Any questions?

2. Dracula Rising: This surprisingly-dull film is told in a shit-ton of flashback footage.  For the End, however, Dracula and his rival start casting magic spells and throwing fireballs.  So yeah, it's weird.

1. Die Hard Dracula: Are you trying to be funny.  This film features many goofy ideas and visuals, including Dracula throwing fireballs.  How does that happen in two films?!?  The movie is consistently more goofy and inept, giving it the slight 'edge' here.

Any film with a flying coffin set to operatic music wins any day of the week.

Runners UpDracula Blows His Cool, Bram Stoker's Dracula's Guest, Bram Stoker's Dracula's Curse, Dracula 3000, The Vampire/The Vampire's Coffin

Mondo Bizarro's Top Ten Oddest Italian Films

Since it is nice and pouring outside, why not stay in and relive my past Film memories?  In honor of my kind-of-sort-of-Anniversary Month, I thought I'd do a few new Top 10 Lists.  After all, I've covered A TON of crappy movies on the site in the last 5 Years.  I've also covered a lot of, well, odd ones.  Many times the two lists overlap, but I'll try to focus this one.

Italy is a great Country and has a rich Film History.  I, however, tend to track down the weirdest and grossest Films that they do.

Runners Up: Graveyard Disturbance,  Demons 6: Profundis, The Church, The Beyond, The Mother of Tears, Dario Argento's Dracula 3-D and Demonia.

10. Gor: As far as odd goes, this one takes the cake by comparison to its source material.  The Gor tales are all about a Planet full of slave women and the men that control them.  All of that is pretty much gone in the film adaptation, leaving a pretty generic tale in its wake.

9. Sodoma's Ghost: Nazi Ghosts.  Need I say more?  Okay.  Nazi Ghosts in an Orgy.  There- that will do it.

8. Lucifera: Have you ever REALLY loved a painting?  This piece of Euro-Trash involves a young lady who stares a painting and wakes up in its setting.  What follows is a tale of Witches, some kind of Satan and a 'it was all a dream' Ending that was obvious from the get-go.

7. Dracula Blows His Cool: A Dracula Sex Comedy?  I think that this speaks for itself as well.

6. Troll 3: Contamination .7: The other Troll 3 is more related...in that it is not about Ator.  Other than that, it features crawling vines, toy construction vehicles and, of course, no Trolls.

5. Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat: A film about a killer, ghost-possessed Cat.  Just think about that for a moment.  It is a film about many people who are killed by a tabby.

4. The Sect: I don't even know how to describe this one.  It features POV footage of a woman drinking a glass of water.  We see a Rabbit watching television.  By the time a bird pulls worms out of a lady's neck, I'm long passed understanding this one.

3. Mr. Hercules Against Karate: That's what killed Vaudville!  That one random joke is enough to have this film on the list.  The fact that it is about a bumbling strong man in China, but is directed by Antonio Margheriti is just icing on the cake.  A must see for Rare Film Buffs!

2. The Mummy Theme Park: After all of this time, it is still hard to top this schlockfest!  The title alone tells you a lot about what to expect.  The Story involving a Sultan offending an ancient Mummy as he prepares to open the titular park- gold.  Just don't make fun of any film by Massimiliano Cerchi or he'll bitch at you on Facebook.  Right, Maynard?

What can top this craziness?!?

1. Cat in the Brain: A film by Lucio Fulci about Lucio Fulci being driven crazy while filming one of his own movies (and the #9 Pick)- that's what.  Seriously, Fulci plays himself in this film which is about 2/3 Stock Footage and 1/3 Reaction Shots of the Director.  It is so Meta and weird that it hurts.

In closing, Italy- you're a weird country.  You have given us many great films...and what was just listed above.  Never change.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bob's Birthday Bonanza: Cuticle Detective Inaba

I definitely suffered less this year than I did last year.  In honor of my friend's Birthday, I could choose between doing a comparison on three weird, but related Animes or reviewing a show about a Werewolf Cop who chases a money-eating Goat.  I went with the latter- naturally.  The show is Cuticle Detective Inaba, a show that is defined by the word 'quirky.'  Sukeban Boy was a good lead-in for this show, as both are Japanese and made by two clearly-insane people.  The show is apparently based on a Manga (proof exists below) and quite strange.  The Episodes are somewhat in Order, but are mostly made up of two separate tales of the crew.  It is a bit trickier to review than Nyarko-San, since it is less structured and straight-forward.  Unlike that show, however, it uses its premise to the fullest.  On top of that, it really lampoons many Anime tropes.  It is certainly not for everyone, as it strikes an awkward balance between story and crazy.  I honestly kind of like it, but I'll let you be the judge (in that unofficial and unimportant way) though.  To get a glimpse of the insanity, read on...
Inaba is a Werewolf (of sorts).  He used to be a Police Dog/Human, but quit to be a Private Detective.  His power: to track people by way of a single hair.

By the way, the show alternates between normal Character Design and Chibi.  It's weird.
His main rival: Don Valentino.

He's a Goat.
He's a Goat that is a Mob Boss.
He's a Goat that is a Mob Boss that eats Money.  Any questions?
Inaba's special power is activated by his cross-dressing male assistant (don't ask).  Depending on the hair color, he has different powers.  Some examples include...

Blond Hair = Electric Powers.
Black Hair = A Negativity Aura.
The tales are all pretty damn weird.  One involves a magic scroll that allows people to travel to key points in Japanese History, while another involves the Lead Detective's chocolates and a love potion (in the form of other chocolates).

Oh and if you want context to this, you're not getting it here.
Much like Excel Saga, the Ending Credits feature a weird, musical number.  Unlike that show, I have no English Subtitles for this song.

It appears to be about Don and how much he loves to eat money.  Why not?
A side character introduced in the first few Episodes (of which 12 are on Crunchyroll) is another Detective who is obsessed with Inaba and wants them to be friends.  It is far less creepy than the young boy/demi-god from Nyarko-San or little Kusano from Sekirei.
Why the show works for me is that it slips in sort of Meta Jokes about how crazy it all is.  It grounds in a small enough of a reality for it to work.

That is my way of looking at it, at least- yours may be different.
It is also worth noting that this show is really ridiculous and full of wordplay.  Again- it worked for me.
In closing, it is a wacky show with very little structure.  Were you expecting a serious plot from a show with a Werewolf Cop who chases a money-eating Goat Mob Boss and his henchman who always wears a bag over his head?

I didn't think so.  The End.
So yeah, this is damn weird.  The show is all kinds of weird!  The Story as a whole is crazy.  There is a Story involving a vial of nerve gas buried in a box and the only key is held by a hyper little girl.  Naturally, this girl is the Detective's Daughter.  There is a point where Don Valentino is shot a dozen times in the head about, but shows no consequences.  However, they don't just ignore that it happened- he just ignores it (see below)!  So yeah, it is crazy.  If you're into the crazy stuff, you will love this.  For me, it was like a crazy, sugar rush of a show.  In small-to-medium doses, it is quite fun.  While I only watched the first 4 Episodes, I will probably check out the rest.  If nothing else, it is good for a call-back joke of sorts...
Next up, the third Chapter in a Full Moon story that I tend to review every 8 months of so.  When Josh Kirby goes to a land of Toys, cutesy crap is sure to follow.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

WTF Japan?!?: Sukeban Boy

Before there was a Machine, there was a Boy.  Today's film is Sukeban Boy, one of the earliest films of one my favorite, insane Directors.  He brought us Machine Girl.  He brought us Robo-Geisha.  He also brought us the visionary insanity of Dead Sushi.  Noboru Iguchi is just plain crazy.  I'm not complaining, mind you- I love his movies.  With the craziness he's made lately- including a bit in The ABCs of Death and Karate-Robo Zaborgar-, what did his earlier stuff look like?  The film tells the tale of a young man cursed with a pretty-looking body and the voice of a girl.  He's all man where it counts, but you have to go looking for it.  He moves to a new School at his Father's advice...only to find that there is a lot of violence hidden in the halls.  This mighty man-woman is up for the task!  To find out how this bizarre tale unfolds, read on...
Our hero begins by beating these three guys up...just because.  It is a foreshadowing of how so many of these films begin with random fight scenes.

Unlike those films, there is follow-up and it is clear when this takes place.
Her father tells her to just embrace her female appearance at a new School.  He also hangs around in secret for no clear reason.

Is 'wacky' a reason now?  It fits here, so I'll go with 'yes.'
In spite of...wackiness, the disguise works.  She makes a friend and joins a Club.  Naturally, it is a weird one...
It is the Humility Club, where girls are taught to be shy and humiliated.  Sure- people would join that!

As it turns out, the President is involved in the Yakuza, leading to some wacky fights involving Japanese young ladies in various states of undress.
The main villain reveals herself to be Full Frontal Woman (even though she's still wearing panties, since it is Japan).  She's pretty mean, taking the legs of our heroine's friend.

Note to self: never befriend a hero.  Bad things will happen to me- guaranteed.
Our heroine runs afoul of many groups in the School for the big finale.  They're like the gangs in The Warriors, only they're all Japanese girls in various states of undress.

Note to self: fund Japanese version of The Warriors.
I won't SPOIL too much of this Finale, since it is chock full of insanity.  Plus, just telling you what happens wouldn't do it justice.  We do get Machine Gun legs though.
I will say that the final fight involves punching, nudity and a fart.  Are you shocked?  The End.
Wow.  I mean, wow.  This is an exercise in pure crazy.  Is it good?  Kind of.  You certainly have to be in the right frame of mind for it, since it is completely crazy and over the top.  It is so far over the top that it just crashed into the Imagination Ship from the new Cosmos show.  Yeah, I made a Cosmos sight gag- deal with it!  The story has girls in Football gear with no pants, a lady with machine gun legs and men in drag.  The whole thing is a series of random events with a loose plot.  Iguchi films got more of a Plot Structure later, which certainly makes them more accessible to most people.  I still like it, but I'm still a bigger fan of his later work.  That said, this is a neat look at ideas that would become more fleshed out in later films.  It is still fun if you are into the really, really weird stuff.  Besides, I learned a lesson: even in Japan, there is bad touch!
Next up, I give Bob a Birthday gift by reviewing a freaky Anime.  It has a Goat, a Werewolf and that is only the tip of the Iceberg!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rare Flix: First Action Hero

Yeah, this is a thing.  Unfortunately, it is not nearly as interesting as it sounds.  Today's film is First Action Hero, an Italian Import that I discovered on a cheap $1 DVD in an Independently-Owned Convenience Store.  I saw the title and thought 'This was a thing?  I have to see this.'  Fortunately or unfortunately, this Italian film is not a rip-off of the Schwarzenegger film.  I'm...sad?  Instead, it is a somewhat-generic Action Film that is a mish-mash of other film ideas and Plots.  Why bother with the Review then?  Well, it is because the film is full of fun cliches and a finale that makes me giggle.  Plus, the movie takes place in Miami and the lead takes a shot at Tampa- my neighbor to the North!  You'll pay for this slight...by getting more attention than you've probably gotten in a Decade!  Hmm...I may want to rethink this.  In the meantime, let me tell you about the film.  A Detective returns to Miami to solve a series of gangland murders and...is way to wrapped up in it to solve it objectively.  However, this is a thinly-written plot, so none of that matters!  To find out how it all ends up (and why the Ending is so funny), read on...
We get stock shots of Miami (foreshadowing Burn Notice) and then a Mobster fishing on a boat.  A man in Scuba Gear pops up and shoots him in the throat with a spear gun and...

the film suddenly jump cuts to a DIFFERENT crime scene.  It's so jarring that I want to sue this film for giving me whiplash!
Anyhow, both victims were Mob Bosses, leading to an awkward meeting in that building from Time Chasers (you know the one).

The group discusses what to do and...gets nowhere, naturally.
Our hero- Fabio Testi...who is usually in better Films- is WAY too invested in this, as mentioned.  He's having an affair with the Lawyer for ALL OF THE MOB BOSSES, being the ex-Son-in-Law of a Mob Boss and having a daughter with said Boss' daughter.

Does this ultimately matter all that much?  No.  He just does what any hero would.
The violence gets to him when he's targeted...since he is after all of them.  He stops one would-be assassin and corners the other.  When he draws a new weapon, our hero shoots him...in the dick.

You don't shoot people in the dick, Fabio!
Basically, there is a lot more random killing, talking about who is doing the killing and more killing.  Moving on...
The climax of the film is the best (and only good) part.  Our hero's daughter- who had all of two scenes- is kidnapped and our hero goes to rescue her.  He runs around a Quarry BY HIMSELF and kills about 1,000 people.

Here are some highlights.  First, man doing a complete flip on a 'Space Mutiny kill'...
Here's where he shoots a car (after making it flip on three pieces of metal) and a guy runs out on fire.  Thanks, Led Zeppelin!
After they get tired of him just shooting/punching people, he finds a bunch of Dynamite and goes to town.  The high-point: when this guy jumps from an explosion...before it occurs.  Ha.
After all of that, he mud wrestles (seriously!) the villain's henchman and wins.  Why not the villain?  He was already shot to death by the ex-Father-in-Law.  Pay-off- what's that?!?

Speaking of which, our film literally ends with Fabio saying that he's not certain what he'll do next.  Um...okay.  The End.
Hot damn- this is dumb!  Granted- it is a piece of Euro Trash, so I didn't expect much more.  I'm still torn on whether or not I'm upset by the title.  It makes no sense (he's not the first) and it attaches itself to a film that wasn't really a hit.  In addition, this film's release year is 1994, so it is a bit later (even allowing for European release delays).  Weird, right?  I don't know what an actual Italian knock-off of Last Action Hero would look like, but now I really want to see it.  As a film, it is pretty bad.  If you can ignore the dubbing and the obvious VHS Rip on the DVD, it is pretty generic.  That is, of course, until we reach the finale.  That finale- hilarious.  It is so ridiculous, so goofy and I wish that there was more of it.  I'm reminded of the quarry scene of Black Cobra- a Euro Trash film that was actually a rip-off of a film (Cobra).  For fans of the stuff, it is worth a rental for the last twenty minutes or so.  For anyone else, this is probably news to you that a film called First Action Hero exists.  If you have any doubt that this film was made in the 1990s, here is Bill Clinton...
Next up, an early work by a crazy Japanese Director that I love.  Boobs, boobs and more boobs (with guns in them).  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rare TV Flix: The Norliss Tapes

It is neat (but empty) piece of 1970's TV History.  Today's 'film' is The Norliss Tapes, a Backdoor Pilot for a TV Show that never surfaced.  This all goes back to Dan Curtis, a man whose Career in Television would parallel that of Rod Serling before him and Chris Carter after him.  He's most known for the low-rated, but well-regarded show Kolchak: The Night Stalker, although he actually only worked on the Original TV Movie.  He also made Dark Shadows, but (thankfully?) didn't live to see Tim Burton bastardize the show into a Film.  As the son of a huge Dark Shadows fan, it was a rough time.  Around the time that the Night Stalker film aired, he also made this.  The best guess people have is that Curtis was just trying to maximize his chances of a Show being picked up.  It kind of makes sense if you think about it.  If they are deciding between 10 pitches and Curtis has one, there is about a 10% chance of getting picked up.  If Curtis now has 2 shows, his odds, well, double.  That seemed to work out, although in the favor of Kolchak and not Norliss.  The Story is a neat one and has *some* parallels to the more famous tale.  A man named Norliss is working on a book about the Occult when he goes missing.  The answer lies in his titular Tapes.  To find out (some of) what happened to him, read on...
Mr. Norliss is a man writing a Book on the Occult.  He tells his Publisher that he needs to see him right away- it's urgent!
Before they can meet, however, he goes missing.  The only clue: his Tapes.

An Investigator decides to play Tape #1 to find some answers...
Norliss, as it turns out, is hired by a woman (Angie Dickinson) to investigate a break-in at her Studio by...her husband?

Naturally, there's a catch: he's dead already!
Norliss checks every lead.  In the meantime, this Film/Pilot gives us a Poor Bastard of Cinema to cover later.

Some man/ghoul is killing people and draining their blood.  To what end?
 Angie and the above Mystic (who gave her husband the ring that made him a ghoul) go to the Crypt to take the ring and end the curse.

Yeah, this will end well...especially since they left at like 4:55 in the Afternoon!
The Mystic is killed, but the ghoul lets his wife escape, shedding a tear.  A monster with a heart- yowza!

I do have to ask why Zombies were always blue around this time.  Who decided that?
The ghoul has a goal (try saying that five times fast!): to bring this Demon to life via a Sculpture.  As for the blood, it was used to make the clay.  Ew.
Rather than stop him from finishing, Norliss makes a magic circle to seal it in and a fire breaks out.

If you ever wanted to know what a 1970's TV Version of Marvel's Mephisto would have looked like, here you go.
The fire kills (more, I guess) the ghoul, but it is unclear if the demon got out.  You want closure or something?

With the case over, the tape ends.  The Investigator moves on to Tape #2, which is where the 'film' stops cold.  See you in the...oh...crap.  The End.
Well, crap!  Honestly, the whole thing is pretty good.  I almost wish that it had turned out to be bad, just so I wouldn't be sorry that nothing more came of this.  The worst part: I didn't know this information going in.  I figured that it was just some obscure, TV movie like Cardiac Arrest, Alien Abduction or recent fare like Mask of the Ninja.  No, this is a tale without closure- which even Bates Motel has a bit of- and something that makes you want to see more.  There are a number of Threads on its IMDB Forum of people saying the same thing, even some forty years later!  This is one of those rare times that I am upset that the movie is good.  Don't get me wrong- it's not perfect.  The pacing and use of random kills is a bit odd at times.  For modern fans, the conventions of the day may not be as interesting.  On purely its own merits though, The Norliss Tapes is a good glimpse at what could have been.  Hey CBS, you haven't made a somewhat-disappointing Remake of this Show that you can cancel after only a few Episodes yet.  I've seen the Ratings- you can't do worse (not counting Big Bang Theory)!  I'll leave you like this film left me- wanting...
Next up, a Rare find from Italy.  It is trash, but you have to make it to the End to really see the beauty!  Stay tuned...