Saturday, March 31, 2018

Anti-Classic Horror: Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971)

After all this time, I finally went back and reviewed this!  This is one of those Films that I apparently watched, commented on (in a Buy the DVD! feature), but didn't actually review.  I don't know how that happens.  Today's Film is Dracula vs. Frankenstein, a 1971 Horror Film from classic crap Director Al Adamson.  He's the guy who made Horror of the Blood Monsters- the Film 'gumbo' that combined a Filipino Caveman Film, 40+ year old Stock Footage, Color Tinting, a bad Sci-Fi Film and a Vampire Opening added to finally sell the Film.  He also made a Film or two with Colonel Sanders- no lie.  With such a Resume, it is only natural that Adamson would make the fifth best Film to feature the duo so far- just behind House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein and the Egyptian Remake of Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein.  I kid, I kid- it's at least funnier than the last one I mentioned.  The Plot involves the Doctor, the Vampire, the Monster, some Hippies, a little person, a Singer and a bunch of random victims.  This one sure is something.  Is it good?  Of course not!  Is it memorably-bad and/or fun?  Let's see...
A Singer goes looking for her missing Sister somewhere around the local Pier.  The first thing that happens is she gets LSD put in her drink, so she's off to a good start.
At the same Pier, a barely-hidden Dr. Frankenstein runs a Horror Show.  He gets a strange guest- Dracula!  He wants to use his genius for his own ends.
Lon Chaney Jr is here in his last role.  His voice was so gone from Throat Cancer that he just grunts...but at least he's happy to be working.
Unfortunately, he's just the mute mutant sidekick here, regressing far from when he was the Wolfman and the same man playing Frankenstein was playing basically that role in House of Frankenstein.
In between random killings, Dracula exposits that he found the Monster's body and lets the Doctor revive it for revenge.

Said Monster has seen better days, as the Stinger will show you more clearly.
The Singer- remember her?!?- starts to get close to this older Hippie Guy, who helps her look for her sister...when he's not telling her to give her space...five seconds before telling her to look again.

Here's the weirdest part: while near the Pier, he hears the sound of the hidden hatch opening on said Pier.  This is following a woman's cry for help and the bloody axe murder of three men- which he doesn't hear!
It all comes to a head as him and the Singer confront the Scientist.  His little person helper has a strange bit of (I guess) comeuppance as he meets a strange end a bit later.

Holding an axe, his weight proves to be too much for the door, which opens.  He drops the axe, but also pulls down a cage holding a puppy (he's fine, PETA) and somehow falls head-first onto the same axe.  Logic!
Things take a very abrupt turn as the Doctor dies- also in silly fashion- and Dracula manages to elude the Police after shooting our Hero with his laser ring.  By the way, he has a laser ring- it's magic.

This leads to the climax out by the Woods.  With his plan ruined (it involved blood making him invulnerable FYI), he tries one last bite on our Heroine, which the Monster takes issue with.
This leads to a brief and silly tussle to justify the Title, which ends in the Monster's head being ripped off. 

This does stall Dracula long enough for the sun to kill him (with an effect that is trumped by even early Universal stuff).  The End.
It's all so silly.  It's all so dumb.  It's all so directionless.  The Movie has a basic Plot- Woman looking for her missing Sister, only to find out that she was captured by a Mad Scientist.  That's not enough, so let's throw in Dracula.  That's not enough, so let's make that guy Dr. Frankenstein and bring back the Monster too.  Do we have time for a 'Doctor uses the Monster to get revenge' Scene?  Excellent!  Still not enough?  Let's add in Chaney as an axe-wielding mutant guy who kills random people and sometimes abducts them too.  This is still feeling a bit sparse, so let's throw in Scenes at a Horror Show, which we'll just say that the Doctor runs at the Pier.  I still feel like we need more, so let's put in a couple of Songs and a bit where our Singer trips on LSD.  Well, if LSD is in the Plot and this was actually shot in 1969, let's add a bunch of Hippies.  Oh and Bikers too.  So yeah, this is a bit of a hodge podge Plot.  Apparently the Film was originally made without Dracula, which explains some continuity issues involving Naish's Frankenstein appearing older and more frail in the middle of the Film.  Fun Fact: Chaney's actual last Film (his part was shot in 1969) was a different Al Adamson Film...made on the same Ranch where the Manson Family lived.  Awkward.  It's all kind of dumb and you can't be mad at anything in it.  Is it a Cult Classic?  Yes.  Is it good?  No- it's a Cult Classic.  It's still better than...whatever the hell this face is supposed to be made of.
Next time, I celebrate a religious Holiday with...a Stephen King Film.  It's a tenuous connection, but I have put off covering this Film for Years, so screw it.  Stay tuned...

Friday, March 30, 2018

Creepy Rigatoni: Channel Zero, Butcher's Block- Episode 5

Another late entry here, but hey, it's my site.  Time and Space and all that.

We now return to Butcher's Block, home of mutants, cannibalism and lovely bedside service...
Alice and her Sister are now trapped in the Peach's Magical Murder Land.  As you can see, things aren't great.
Seeing what is happening to Alice makes her Sister question things.  She starts to explore and finds a strange, red door guarded by a freaky spirit.  What's in there?!?
As things aren't exactly great in the real world- complete with decapitations and a murder-, Alice is initiated into the Family like her Sister was, choosing their ways to avoid insanity.
More Peaches are coming to check on the missing Brother.  Uh oh.
Can her Sister talk Alice out of this crazy place?  Is it a mixed-up world when the crazy sister is the sane one?

To find out how this all leads to the Finale, watch the Show.
Another bloody good time.  Butcher's Block is undoubtedly-weird.  It has weird-faced little people, cannibal W.A.S.P.s, Meat-Man and bugs being pulled out of people's mouths.  It doesn't hold anything back!  As I've mentioned before, each Series is only 6 Episodes long, which must be freeing.  Kill off a Character in Episode 3- that's fine.  Continue to raise the stakes for 5 Episodes- no problem.  No need to worry about long-term Character Arcs is nice too.  People can naturally evolve and you don't have to worry about what you'll do with said evolution in, oh, Season 2.  To that end, all sorts of big moments can seemingly-happen at a moment's notice.  No need to wait for Sweeps Week, after all.  Given how much Streaming there is, is that even still a thing?  In any event, the Show continues to be trippy, bloody and weird.  I'd say more, but I have the next game...
Next time, the finale.  Consider how bloody it is now, how bad will that be?!?  See you then...

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cannon Fodder?: Street Smart (1987)

On the plus side, it might have almost been worth it.  Today's Film is Street Smart, a 1987 Film from Cannon Films.  As mentioned in the previous Review, Reeve wanted to do this Film and leveraged a Superman Sequel to get it made.  That Superman Film is infamously-bad and did irreparable damage to his career.  It would all be worth it if he finally got his Oscar.  Well, he got someone an Oscar...nomination.    It's a third degree victory, I guess.  The Film tells the tale of a Journalist who does the worst thing he can do to get a Story- make it up.  Years before the idea of 'Fake News' or famous cases of Journalists caught in their lies, this one was doing it.  Unfortunately for him, his Story is used by a devious Pimp and his Attorney to try and get away with murder.  Can he admit the truth?  Can he save himself?  Can he save those around him?  To find out how Reeve did his best to shed the Superman veneer, read on...
Reeve is a Journalist trying to get more attention and respect.  He goes all in on a Story...that he has no chance of getting.
Morgan Freeman (no, really) is a Pimp.  He's doing well...until a 'John' dies with him in the room.
After none of his sources pan out and a desperate gambit fails, he does something bad- he makes up the story entirely.
Freeman's Lawyer comes up with the idea of trying to use Reeve's Story as cover- giving him a fake alibi- and the pair meet up.  Reeve gets to see the guy be a bit scary.
As the Story gets Reeve more success and attention, he also ends up getting a bit too close to the other side...
When Reeve refuses to turn over his notes (which don't exist), he is sent to Jail for contempt.  Was it worth it?
Back on the Streets, Freeman pushes for Reeve to provide his 'notes' and his alibi.  He's not playing around!
In the bit that clearly got Freeman is first Oscar nod, he pushes his Prostitute to not turn him on.  Then she does.

Good, but also a bit pointless.
When things get more personal- as his girlfriend is attacked-, Reeve does the dirty double feature- helping Freeman get off the hook and then setting him up to be killed.

In the aftermath, he reports on the Story and...did he learn a lesson?  The End.
It's actually pretty damn good.  To be fair, it probably wasn't going to be bad.  Morgan Freeman is, you know, Morgan Freeman and Reeve was always underrated as an Actor.  He just had this natural ability to be interesting and charming- even in the last two terrible Superman Sequels.  Hell, I actually liked him in Village of the Damned- just nothing else in that Film.  This Movie had nowhere to go but down.  To their credit, it doesn't really.  There are some cheats here and there- like one undated photo somehow disproving the truth- and bits that weren't really necessary.  Is there a pay-off to Reeve sleeping with the Prostitute?  Did we need the Lawyer trying to recruit said Prostitute in an extended Scene just for her to say 'no?'  Did we need Morgan Freeman threatening people with sharp instruments as many times as he does?  Petty little stuff like that aside, Street Smart shows what Reeve could do what people let him not be Superman.  He's sneaky, lying and mostly in it for himself.  He learns a lesson, but he never really becomes 'good' by the end.  If he was good, he would have found a way to get Freeman put away without helping him?  Instead, he does a multi-part plan to get him killed and then benefit from his death.  You were Nightcrawler before it was cool, man!  The Film is actually really good, thankfully not too-dated and Freeman definitely deserved that Oscar nom.  Looking at who Reeve would have been against to get a nomination for himself- Jack Nicholson, Robin Williams, William Hurt, Michael Douglas and Marcello Mastroianni-, he didn't have much of a shot.  Should Freeman have won over Sean Connery though- maybe.  1988 was a weird year for the Oscars- Dirty Dancing, The Princess Bride, Beverly Hills Cop II and Mannequin were all up for Best Song!- so who knows.  Was it worth it?  Maybe not, all things considering, but at least the Film was good.  Then again...
Next time, I finally go back and review a Cult Classic that I somehow skipped.  With a bad Director but great features, it is going interesting.  Stay tuned...

Poor Bastards of Cinema: The Devil's Express

This Film- which was kind of a mixed bag of disappointment- was good for one thing- random death.

In The Devil's Express, an ancient evil from China makes it way over to America.  It proceeds to hide in the Subway Tunnels- avoiding the Ninja Turtles, I guess- and kill lots of people.

One of the victims- the first- is important to the Plot.  The rest, well, they are here.

Victim #1: Random Guy in Subway.
He wanders just off-screen and dies.

Victim #2: Random Asshole on Subway.
While yelling at his girlfriend and being overly-aggressive, he gets grabbed and pulled away to die by the creature.  Darn?

Victim #3: Seemingly-Important-At-One-Time Friend in Subway.
At one point, he was supposed to be important to the Plot.  By his end, he's running away from a fight and killed by the Monster.

At best, this is important as the 'now it is personal' moment...but that's about it.

Random death just for being a person in or around a Subway.  Still not the worst thing associated with Subway though.

The moral: take the bus.

Next time, a campy anti-classic brings me some victims.  It is cliché stuff.  See you then...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bob's Birthday Review: Gdgd Men's Party

Why did Alan Moore cross the road?  To kiss a snake.  You know, because he worships Glycon, a Snake Goddess.  Was that joke funny?  Was it better when I had to explain it?  It wasn't, right?  That's what watching today's Review is like.  Gdgd Men's Party is an Anime Series that attempts to be a short-form Comedy that is a mix of Fantasy and Improv Comedy.  It is a Series of 8-minute Episodes that will, theoretically, tell a whole Story.  Just so you know, I watched 10 of the 12 Episodes available so far (it is ongoing) and, yeah, they don't finish crap!  It is a silly and stupid mess.  On the plus side, it is not an outlier- there are many more versions of this.  Wait- why is that a good thing?  To find out why Bob gave this to me (and to see why he'll get his in July), read on...
In the opening minutes, we are TOLD what happens- as what all the good Writers do- and it is pretty generic.

Middle School Kid is sucked into an RPG to save a Princess and just drags along a younger Kid.
They are joined by a Robot- owned by the 'Princess'- who will guide them on their journey to save her from a vague Demon-thing in a Castle.
Speaking of the Princess, we get about a minute of her being weird alone in her Cell every Episode.
And now, my friends, the Achilles heel of this admittedly-not-great Show: the Improvised Comedy bits.

This is apparently something that Shows do- play something weird for the Voice Actors and record them making jokes/comments in-character.  As a tool to get Actors deeper into their Characters, it's good.

The problem: they are not funny and most of their jokes 'require' them to explain that they are talking about some Japanese Show or game or, I kid you not, Radio Calisthenics Programs.
I watched 10 Episodes.  I chuckled about 3x.  The End.
It's not good.  If you didn't get my feelings on it yet, I'd be amazed!  Maybe this would be funnier if I knew every random Show in Japan.  I feel like this is maybe the best defense for the Show, but I'm being generous.  End of generosity.  Maybe this would be more interesting if they had a complete and more focused narrative.  As it stands, they barely move the so-called Plot in 10 Episodes.  Just to give you a breakdown, here is how the general structure works- 30-45 seconds for Intro, 3 minutes for Plot, 1 minute for Princess, 3 minutes for random riffing and 30-45 seconds for Closing Credits.  In that limited time, they go from forming a Party (off-screen) to finding a magic sword (who's appearance is a one-off joke!) to finding a key to rescue a Princess.  To be fair, they find the Castle...and stop right in front of the door!  Get it?  I sure don't.  Between that, we get random conversations about acting like Adults, a whole bit where they go through an Amusement Park, the Robot short-circuiting while expositing about Art and then an abrupt bit where they fix him with a magic book.  There should be enough Story here.  They just don't feel like using it, apparently.  The Show also doesn't look that great, which isn't helped by their obsession with Poser-style Animated Sprites to fill out shots.  This might be a thing in some circle of Japan, but the humor and point of it is lost on me.  I'd rather just watch our own silly and random Shows instead of looking into your damn Crystal one more time- thanks!
Another year and another weird Anime for Bob.  I continue to cover more than him on this Site too.  Happy Birthday, ya bastard.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Lost in Translation: The Dead Pit

Thanks to whoever posted this on Facebook.

If you ever wanted to sell your obscure Film, why not make it a 'Sequel' to something big?  It's a common thing to do overseas.

Case in point- a Film about Zombies in a Hospital becomes this in France...
I love it.  It's all so silly, but I love it.

To see how the actual Film is, click here.

To see the original Version of the Poster/Box Art, look below...
I mean, it has to be green, right?  Seems like an oversight on the original.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

TV on the Internet: Ash vs Evil Dead- 'Apparently Dead'

As usual, I'm playing catch-up here.  Let's see if I can make up for lost time a little bit...
Ash goes to the Funeral of his Baby Mama.  As you can imagine, it doesn't end well.
Meanwhile, Pablo continues to be visited by a spirit.  It warns him of evil and tells him what he needs to find.
To help push Ash's Daughter further away from him, she brings back a face from the past...
...while the rest of the Ghost Beaters go to remains of the Cabin to find something important.  Will they survive though?

To find out, watch the Show.
Another bloody good time.  Puns- why not?  This Episode keeps the ball rolling nicely as we get the key Plot Points addressed, some bloody murder and some teasing for the next Episode.  Ruby is up to no good.  Ash is kind of an idiot. The Ghost Beaters are in trouble.  It would be easy for the Show to devolve into either two things- a boring, but Plot-driven affair or a silly Splatter Comedy.  Thankfully, Raimi and company keep a good balance.  You'll never confuse it with something like American Gods, but it is also a step above stuff like Z Nation.  With the stuff that happens in this Episode alone, I'm really curious to see just how far they will go here.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to wash up...
Next time, evil is in the Forest and in the Town.  Will it ever be stopped?  See you then...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Canon Fodder: Superman IV- The Quest For Peace

Was it worth it, Mr. Reeve?  Today's Film is Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, a 1987 anti-classic that lives up its reputation.  To set the stage, Canon Films was losing money.  Since you got to spend money to make money, they bought the Superman License from the Salkinds.  To convince Reeve to sign on, he got two things- a Story Credit and funding for a second Film (that isn't Superman).  To see how the latter Film turned out, see the next Review.  For the first one, he was inspired to have Superman deal with real world issues.  It absolutely could have worked.  Due to Budget Cuts and a silly Script, however, it is all a bit of a joke.  Superman wants to stop the potential Nuclear War- so he tosses our Nukes into the Sun.  Lex Luthor is back- complete with terrible Nephew- and his plan to kill Superman- of course.  It's all a bit ridiculous and I kind of love it.  I also hate it, so let's just fly right in...
To give a little Backstory, the Film was cut at the last minute to reach 90 minutes, so that it could play more times in the day.

With that said, they still found time for both Superman saves singing Cosmonaut AND Superman saves train with Lois.
They also find time for this Superman/Clark won't sell the family farm unless it is too a Farmer Scene.  Yea.

The only thing that matters- a soft retcon of his space ship and a new Deus Ex Machina for later.
To deal with a few of the Films forty or so Plot Points, let me sum it up...

1) A Tabloid Guy buys the Daily Planet.
2) A kid writes an essay to Superman to get rid of our nukes.
3) He debates with two Kryptonian Elders (since the 3rd Actor was busy) over it.
4) The Daily Planet is an asshole.
To help him decide, Superman reveals himself to Lois, flies her around the World and...then wipes her memory of this.  What a Super Asshole.
He gets *all* of the Nations to give up their Nukes to be tossed into the Sun.  However, there's one left, so Lex Luthor makes a weird clone thing and hides it on the missile.  Nuclear Man is born!

Side-note: one bit cut was the ORIGINAL Nuclear Man (presumably born from the first batch)- who was a goof.  Various Edits of it are online, like so.
Superman has an epic(ally silly) fight with Nuclear Man where most of the silly stuff you know comes from.  While holding the Statue of Liberty in a way that defies Science, he's cut by Nuclear Man's Revlon nails.

The sickness overwhelms him until, guess what, Deus Ex Machina.
The pair battle again- including a bit where Nuclear Man flies Lucy into Space and nothing bad happens- and Superman outsmarts him by...moving the Moon to create a Lunar Eclipse, weakening the Villain.

Sorry about the Tsunamis.
In the aftermath, he dumps Luthor back in jail- promising to see him 20- and drops Luthor's Nephew off at...a Foster Farm?

I'm sorry, but did you even check to see if he has non-imprisoned relatives?  Dick.
After all of this, Superman gives one last speech about how we'll get peace when we truly want it and will ask our leaders for it.

Sorry about that, Superman.  The End.
Super-silly.  Super-serious.  Super-disappointing.  On the plus side, Canon cut the Film down to 90 minutes, making it less bloated than Superman III.  This came at the expense of Plot and Characters- including the kid who wrote the letter-, so it wasn't all good.  Getting Hackman back- good.  Getting Jon Cryer with him- not good.  For every good or theoretically-good thing here, there are like 6 bad things.  Superman facing real-life problems- good.  Superman doing so by tossing Nukes into the Sun- less good.  Hackman is great here and Reeve is still committed to it all.  The less said about Mark Pillow as Nuclear Man- dubbed over by Hackman- the better.  I want to like this as a serious Film- I can't.  I want to love this as a dumb Film- I can.  It feels earnest, yet so silly that you have to laugh.  Making so many filler bits of Comedy- like Clark pretending to be weak or his double date- didn't help the Film as a serious narrative.  As a Comedy, it works better than Superman III.  Yes, that was supposed to be one!  This is the kind of endearing bad Movie that you can't be too mad at overall.  Let me just end now before things get awkward....never mind.
Next time, the Film that Reeve wanted to make in order to do this.  Well, it nearly won *someone* an Oscar.  Stay tuned...