Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pilot Wings: Marvel's Runaways

Well, it is guaranteed to not be the most bleak Hulu Show on the Site.  This is Runaways, a Show that I have put off watching for a while.  The reason- none.  Sometimes, I just don't do things and that's that.  There's not always a story!  In any event, it is based on a Marvel Comic that I'm not too familiar with.  I know the premise and some of the Characters, but that's it.  In other words, if I don't point out that something is different, it's because I just don't know any better.  With so many Superhero Shows out there, can this one stand out?  It has a diverse, multi-ethnic Cast and is not about the MCU or The X-Men.  Will this be enough?  Will it be more Teen Drama than Superhero Show?  To find out, let's talk about Episode #1...
In the Cold Open, a mysterious Cult recruits a poor girl from the streets.  What for?
We meet a series of Teenagers who were separated for 2 years after a death in the group.  To get the Parents off of his back, one of them tries to get them to hang out one night. 
Some of them are not exactly on board. 
One of them feels her powers- super-strength- emerge that day and also discovers something freaky in the basement... 
A bunch of stuff happens- including one of them getting drugged, but saved from rape- leading the group to show up anyways. 
While looking for booze, the group accidentally opens a door and discovers their parents all doing some sort of ritual with the girl from the beginning. 
One of them makes a noise- shades of Temple of Doom- and they run away.  What will happen next?

To find out, watch the Show. 
Not the most interesting start for a promising Show.  It is hard to get past the idea that this is trying to mix a Teen Drama with a straight Superhero Show.  Even so, it is no Generation X.  With that said, I have no complaints about the Acting.  The worst thing I can say is that it seems to be taking its time.  You have to make a strong sell as a Pilot/first Episode.  This one commits to this idea based almost entirely around the Characters and vague set-up.  One of them does display some powers overtly, while one shows a hint of theirs.  If you are expecting a whole lot in this Episode, just know that it won't happen.  Putting aside that complaint, I did still like the Episode as a whole and do want to see where this goes.  Lastly, a quick shout-out to some cheeky foreshadowing in the Opening Credits...
Not the most interesting start- as the Pacing is a little slow- but still good.  I'll give it a chance.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Impossibly-Cool (and Lost in Translation?) Cover Art: Oasis of the Zombies

A Jesus Franco Film is surely good for...um...well, they have...I mean, there's the...okay, they usually suck.

Seriously, if he made something that is a legitimate Classic, I haven't seen it.  Case in point: his 1982 Zombie Film.

Someone made Bob watch this long ago- seen here- and didn't like it.  Will this Poster help?
Kind of really cool.

This one tells you what you're going to get- sand, Zombies and babes.

From what I've read and seen, you get more of the former than either of the latter.

Here's the original one I found floating around...
Mostly subtle improvements, but I like to think that I helped.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Countess Dracula

I haven't done one of these in a while, so why not celebrate more random death?

In Countess Dracula, the titular Character is old and wants to be young again.  The solution: bathe in virgin blood.

This is before Concealer was created, I guess.
One of the potential victims is this Romani Woman who is in Town to perform.
Oh well.  Time to die!
To sum up: women comes to Town, does nothing wrong and is killed for her blood.

The lesson: don't trust old Royals, I guess.  It makes you wonder what the *real* reason behind the Queen of England still being around is.

Please don't sue me.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Rare Flix Trash: Ratman

At long last, it...isn't good.  Today's Film is Ratman, a Film sold to me entirely by its Poster.  I read up a little on it and thought 'This should be good- in a bad way, of course.'  I downloaded and just kept putting it off.  It wasn't even that much of a conscious thing- it just happened.  Well, I finally watched it.  It sucks.  It mostly sucks in that bad way, but I'll still make the most of it.  The Plot- a Scientist has created a Human/Rat/Monkey hybrid for...no clear reason.  Yes, he's called Ratman, even though he could easily be Monkey Man, Rat Monkey Man or, my favorite, Man Monkey Rat.  It's mostly the best to me since it reminds me of Man Mountain Rock- Google him.  Naturally, he/it escapes and kills people.  That's basically it, really.  The Lead Character is played by a Little Person in fairly-silly, but scary enough make-up.  Nelson de la Rosa- who died in 2006- only has 3 Credits on IMDB.  If he looks familiar to you in any way, it is because he was the little mutant man in The Island of Dr. Moreau (and the Character the clearly inspired Mini-Me).  His life outside of Films is almost more interesting as 1) he's credited as the world's smallest Actor at 2'4"(being 4 inches shorter than Verne Troyer) and 2) he was apparently the 'lucky charm' of a Red Sox Player (as a big fan, apparently) during the Year they won the World Series!  It's all thanks to Big Papi and Little Nelson.  Oh and for all of you Italian Film Nerds like me, the Script was partly-written by Dardano Sacchetti.  That will mean nothing to like 90% of the people that read this, I know.  With all of that interesting stuff out of the way, here's the Film...
This guy has been experimenting with Rats and other Animals.  He decides to mix the genes of a Rat, a Monkey and a Man.  Thus the Title Character is born.
...and he's escaped.
The secondary focus of the Film is built around some boring Models, a Photographer and others that interact with them.
In true Law & Order fashion, they stumble across a body.  In this case, however, it was apparently covered in Chef Boyardee.
One of the Models is leaving a Bar the next night and is chased by a stranger.  She hides in a Closet...only to be killed by the hiding Ratman.

While I give this one a bit of a pass, the Film never adequately explains how NOBODY can fend him off.  At this point, Nelson weighed around 20lbs!
That said, that face is freaky.
The Film from this point on meanders a bit by mostly introducing more random Characters and then killing off the ones that they are 'done with.'

Case in point: our Male Lead is abruptly found dead in bed.  Don't worry, they have 2 spares.
I should also note that the best Print available is very washed out- as I'm sure you can tell- so stuff like the blood looks faker than ever.

On the plus side, Ratman hides in a fridge for a jump scare.  Brilliant!
After killing all but one of our Female Leads and Male Lead #3, he hides in a bag, kills a Cop and gets taken on a plane by our Heroes- thanks to a Cop who can't see a body and blood right in front of him!- to, I guess, kill again.

The End.
The definition of Euro Trash.  If you like sleazy, Italian Slasher/Giallo Films, this one has it all.  The Female Leads are Models, so you get Nudity.  The Male Leads are macho tough guys (that get killed by a man shorter and lighter than my Bookshelf) that try to 'protect' the Women.  Twice in the Film they find a dead lady body and don't let the Woman see it- since it is 'too much.'  It also helps you not have to do as much make-up work too!  The killer is a weird, trashy delight.  It is a bit of Exploitation, as Nelson had a legitimate disorder, so you made him a monster in a bit of a reverse Tor Johnson kind of way.  There is a whole lot of blood in this one, even if it looks fake as hell.  For some people, that is a positive.  I should also note that this Version I found is washed out, a bit blurry (enough that I asked Bob if I *needed* to blur out the below Screen Cap) and only with the English Dub.  Would it be a great Film with a good Print and the native language?  No.  I just always want things to be better- even if you are still Ratman.  The bottom line is if you're not into this kind of thing, it will do nothing to sway you.  If you are, you will probably get some enjoyment out of it.  It is no Argento Film though.  Oh you're a nasty voyeur, Ratman...
Next time, I try to cover another Film that I've put off/forgotten for even longer.  Do me right, Japan!  Stay tuned...

Friday, January 26, 2018

'Black'ish: USS Callister (Black Mirror)

At last, I cover the Episode that got all of the attention when the first Trailer was released.  How does it stand up on its own?  Let's see...
The USS Callister is a big part of Space Fleet, an Agency that saves the day and stops villains.

The attention to detail and homages here are great.  They don't miss much.
 However, it is not real.

No, it is the Game Mod of a big MMORPG created in part by this man.  He made himself the 'Kirk,' since, well, wouldn't you?
A new Worker shows up and she seems friendly.  She looks up to the often-stepped-on- man.
As such, he steals her DNA and puts a Digital Copy of her in his Mod.  Naturally.
Will the adventure in Space Fleet be enjoyable or is there a dark underbelly to this?

Obviously, no more SPOILERS.  See it for yourself.  The End.
This is...really good.  Right off the bat, they hook you with the spot-on homage/parody of original series Star Trek.  They then drop the main Plot onto you and see so much more.  What seems like a fun game turns out to be a bit of a power fantasy.  Is this one dark?  Yes.  Is this one dark by Black Mirror standards?  Not so much.  Given how much bleak stuff happened in the previous Season 4 Episode, the fact that most of this gets wrapped up neatly is nice.  There are winners and losers still- obviously.  What this one does well is to match the style and tone, while also making it its own.  While I really like The Orville, it is very much just a well-made copy/homage to Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It does its thing well, but doesn't change much.  This one is more a twisted mirror look at what the Series could be- double pun intended.  Is this super-original if you know much about Science-Fiction Novels?  No.  It is darn good though and definitely makes the most of what Black Mirror could and should be.  It is good enough to already inspire a bit of Fan Art too...
Next time, do I step back again to Season 3 or move forward with Season 4?  One way to find out.  See you then...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Quick Reviews: Jackboots on Whitehall

A two-for-one special on Oscar Films- sweet.  This is an oddball regardless though, so enjoy...
In this Alternate History tale, the retreat from Dunkirk (Oscar Connection #1) goes awry and the Nazis begin to take over Britain and the UK.
The Nazis are on the move, being so evil that they try to blow up a baby!  Can our giant-handed hero (so, not Trump then) save the day?
An American Soldier survives an explosion and arrives to help save the day.  I do like the joke that he keeps calling the Nazis 'Communists,' especially considering how often that mix-up happens IN REAL LIFE and with zero irony.
The Nazis march on London- even if the Map is all wrong- transform it into their own image.  Why London?
They want Winston Churchill (Oscar Connection #2)!  They sure owe money to 'Land of Confusion.'

Fun Fact: Timothy Spall voices him here and also plays him in The King's Speech.  Love it.
Can our Heroes win the day?  Can they kill some damn Nazis?  How will Scotland play into it?

To find out, watch the Film.
This is freaking weird!  It is an Alternate History tale about WWII...done with Puppets.  To be honest, I've been aware of this Film for Years.  Back when I did Dante's Inferno- made with finger puppets-, I was told about this one.  I knew that it was going to be weird.  I mean, obviously, right?  You don't have to see the Film or this Review to know that- just let me explain what the Film is.  Getting past that, the Story is goofy as hell.  It features super-silly Nazis, Scottish savages, over-the-top caricatures and other nonsense.  On the plus side, there's almost no respite for the silliness.  On the negative side, I kind of got a little numb to it.  It's not for lack of trying- the Film just can only go so far.  There are some legitimately-clever bits and I can certainly appreciate the man hours behind producing this one.  For me, it was just a little too long and consistently-goofy.  Who's the Straight Man here?  You may like it more than me- fine.  On the plus side, this happens...
It's a bit too silly to really last 90 minutes, if I'm honest.  If you're into all of this, it is a riot.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lost in Translation?: Prince of Darkness

In honor of his recent birthday (and proving to everyone that he's not dead), let me look at a John Carpenter Film Poster from across the Ocean.

In this case, it is arguably his most-underrated Film and the land I quite like- France...

It is interesting to see one of these that focuses on something different.  So many of these are just about the liquid evil or the Characters outside the Church.


Here's the one I found before I worked on it...
A little darker and a little more contrast.  Seemed appropriate, right?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rare Flix: Never Too Young To Die

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

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

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

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