Friday, May 31, 2019

Rare Flix: Ator 3- The Iron Warrior (1987)

Not so much the black sheep of the family as it is the arty sheep.  This is Ator 3- The Iron Warrior, a 1987 Action Film from Alfonso Brescia.  Oh right- U.S. Release, so...Al Bradley.  This Film goes by a few variations of the Title.  It can be The Iron Warrior or just Iron Warrior as well, depending on the region.  Some leaned into this being an Ator Film, although I take a bit of an issue with that.  They have Miles O'Keeffe as a Barbarian of sorts and some Magic- that's it.  There's no story connection, his 'Ator' seems very different and it is completely-standalone.  It would be like calling Red Sonja by a new Title- Conan the Barbarian- The Red Warrior.  Arnold is in that playing a Barbarian, but that's the only connection whatsoever.  So now that we've made it clear that this Film is not what it is often billed as, let's discuss why it is not it seems either.  To invite the simplest comparison, calling this a 'Sword and Sorcery Film' would be like just calling El Topo a Western.  I'm going to lean in hard on the Jodorowsky comparisons here too, as Brescia gets really whimsical when it comes to slow-motion, dense subtext and bizarre visuals.  Like his iconic Film, the Movie puts weird places and things in an ostensibly-familiar setting.  This one has a King on his throne, for instance, but said Castle is actually just a stone room filled with people in crazy outfits holding anachronistic dogs on leashes (and there's only like 6 of them).  It's weird and wonky.  Is it good?  To find out if the original Director was right to disown this entry, read on...
We get craziness right off the bat as we meet a bunch of Witches that apparently control everything.  One of them is locked away by the others for exactly 18 years.

Yes, they did steal this from Superman, including the phantom-like faces of the Council and the silly hoop thing as a prison.
She comes back to target the Princess a la Maleficent.  Their Castle- as noted earlier- is less interesting, big and grand.
She sends the titular Iron Warrior in to kill all 5 Guards and apparently the entire defense.

Seriously, Lichtenstein looks at you guys and laughs!
Ator is here to...practice in front of a mirror until the Plot pulls him in.  He saves the Princess and manages not to do something silly like make grenades.
The biggest selling point of the Film is the visual style, made up from the wondrous sights of a real Island they filmed on.
The flipside: the Plot is a slow, jumbled mess of 'go here and find something.'  In between that, weird slow-mo fights and magic shenanigans.
Ator eventually bests the Warrior after learning its secret- it is his Brother!  He was taken by the Witch and apparently NOT freed by the other Witches, since they are, well, a word that rhymes with witches.
The Witch tries to trick them right up the end and nearly kills the Princess.

Looking back at it, her plan to drag her around for an hour before riding her into a prone spear wasn't a good call!
She gets burned to death and everyone lives happily ever after...maybe.  This Film is vague about it, so I will be too.
A weird, weird experience.  I should call it a Film.  Is it though?  It's definitely more of an experience.  It's so random, trippy and eclectic that I can't be sure what actually happened.  I'd be curious to see this with someone involved actually trying to explain it.  Did Alfonso Brescia do Commentary before his 2001 death?  I hope so!  This one is definitely the oddest Ator in many ways.  They all have either silly magic, silly science or silly monsters.  In this case, it tops them all by being dream-like, self-serious and having the sort of wandering spirit that you normally see in French Films.  Brescia made a unique Film.  I don't know if it is good or not.  I feel like I have to watch it again and pay more attention to see if there's enough 'to get.'  It's visuals are stunning.  They used two Islands- Malta and Gozo- to great effect.  They don't need great Sets if they have the real thing!  If I could actually follow the Plot, this would be a definite recommendation.  As it is, the Film is beautiful, weird, eclectic and weird.  Yes, I said weird twice- it earned it.  Speaking of weird, how often do Fantasy Films feature Power Lines?
Next time, I dig into my 'mystery bag' of Films and get something random.  I don't know, so you can't either.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Impossibly-Cool Cover Art?: Cannibal Girls

This is apparently a misleading Film- kind of.

It's definitely gory, but more of a Comedy.

Oh well- freaky cover!
Damn awesome!

I love silly gimmicks and stuff like this 'Warning Bell' is great.  Is it as silly as Chamber of Horrors?

I hope so.

Here's the original...
Minor changes, but I think the darker red and brighter yellow is good for contrast.  Disagree if you like.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

DCE-Hulu: Doom Patrol- 'Cyborg Patrol'

Another week of insanity courtesy of DC's Streaming Service.  It's my appetizer for the return of Swamp Thing, so here's hoping for something tasty...
The Bureau of Normalcy is an evil Organization that captures the 'strange' and exploits them in various ways.
In this case, it is Cyborg.

Where are Superman and Batman when you need them?  Oh right- recast and too expensive.
The Doom Patrol must work with someone they don't trust- Silas Stone.  Can they be cohesive?
Even if they can get to Cyborg, will he be in any state to rescue?

To find out, stream the Show.  Binge watch all 5 interesting Episodes of Swamp Thing before the new one, won't you?
A dark distraction...but what else is new?  They continue to do other things than forward the Plot.  Dull surprise.  Let's take the positive in stride, shall we?  The Setting of the Ant Farm is interesting.  They borrow a lot of the visuals from stuff like Brazil, but it still looks nice.  The Villains are clearly evil, but also in different ways.  They each get a form of comeuppance, so that's good.  The Cyborg stuff is different and feels like a natural escalation of previous Plot Points.  It takes an *interesting* turn at the end that I'm not super-fond of, but I also 100% saw it coming.  We finally get a bit more of Mr. Nobody, which is a good change from the nearly-nothing we've gotten from him in quite a while.  There are some good lines here and some appropriately-freaky visuals.  Moments in the Episode feel like what the Show really should be.  If there was more of them, I'd be all in.  Sadly, it's intermixed with less interesting stuff that I was less fond of.  I'm not sure that I like the direction of this Plot.  In any event, the good is outweighed by the bad...but not by that much.  It also shows us the true danger that Google Glass represents...
Next time, after a big moment, can the team regroup.  I think there's a guy missing...or something.  See you then...

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Replicas (2018/19)

Replicas is a Sci-Fi Drama/Action Film that has a pretty low body count.

That said, one of them certainly doesn't deserve it!

Keanu and his family hide from some thugs in a Puerto Rico Hospital (that looks like an Apartment Building).  The villains go inside...
Whereupon a Janitor confronts them for being in there after hours.
Guess what happens?
Yeah, he's killed.
He was literally introduced to be killed and show that the bad guys- who are trying to kidnap Keanu's family to destroy them- are evil.  You know, in case you didn't get it!

The Moral: look the other way.  Just do your job and you'll live!

Next time, more random folks just doing their job.  Granted- they are guarding criminals, but their fate is especially-bleak when you consider the source.  See you then...

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Zoned Out: The Twilight Zone- 'Six Degrees of Freedom'

Another week and another trip to that famous place.  This time, we're going into Space and experiencing...
A planned trip to Mars is a big deal for these Astronauts.  It gets bigger, since...
A Twilight Zone twist means that the Earth is seemingly-devastated by nuclear war.  As that approaches, they choose to go escape and remake civilization.
The trip is long- about 9 months- so they had better get used to those weird, round doors and each other.
As the trip goes on, tensions mount, but they are professionals.  They can and must hold it together...right?
Things get worse as one of them forms a theory that will derail all sense of structure to this mission.  Is he right?  Is he wrong?  Does it matter?

To find out, watch the Episode.  You get a Picard Show coming soon, so look forward to that.
A fairly-subtle, slow burn of an Episode.  They are really good at being restrained when necessary on this Show, which I like.  As a series of self-contained stories, it is good to have variety.  It seems like next Episode is going to be pretty intense, so this placement seems intentional.  Episode Order doesn't matter as far as story, but you imagine that someone must be in charge of deciding the Airing Order for reasons like this.  The Story is good.  You don't see stuff as much as you are told stuff happens, which is a little disappointing.  In terms of this being an Episode of TV, I get it.  In the grand scheme of things, it also makes sense- no SPOILERS.  With limited F/X and a tight Setting, it all comes down to the Actors.  All in all, they do a good job here.  The way the Episode plays out isn't exactly how I was hoping, but that's not a big deal.  Six Degrees is a slow-burning tease of an Episode with some interesting pay-off.  It also sends a good lesson- weirdoes with beards look weird the more ragged they get.
Next time, an Episode about people going crazy in America.  In the Age of Trump and acting like Nazis 'aren't all bad,' is this even Sci-Fi?  See you then...

Friday, May 24, 2019

Impossibly-Cool Cover Art?: Savage Harvest (1981)

So my curiosity about the Film was piqued long ago with the more famous Cover.  While searching on Google, however, I found an alternate one.

Is it as good?
Well, no.

It's more accurate to the Film (teasing the 3rd Act) and doesn't feature that screaming lady.

So as pure trash, this is a 5.  For quality and creativity, it's a 7.

Here's the original...
Photo-Editing Software can do wonders, no?  While the new one isn't perfect, it's a big step-up.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rare Flix: Savage Harvest (1981)

After enjoying the crazy Poster for a long time, I might as well watch the Movie!  This is Savage Harvest, a 1981 Film featuring familiar stuff.  1981 brought us both this Film and Roar, the Film about a family being tormented by the Director's 'pet' lions.  Why are there two of these from the same year?!?  This one is a bit different as it is not chock full of horror stories like Jan De Bont (working as a Cameraman) being literally-scalped by a Lion.  Ouch.  Oddly, this one is more obscure and hard to find.  As such, I could only find a low-to-medium quality version of it.  If you have an actual DVD of this Film, you are some sort of Pink Dolphin who can do his own Taxes.  I mean that you don't likely exist.  When a drought makes the local Lion population attack people, a conflicted family must escape.  Will they escape the worst sleepover not held at Neverland Ranch?  To find out, read on...
The Film doesn't so much show you what is happening as just straight up tell you.  Alright then...
 ****
So yeah, the Lions are willing and able to eat people now.  Bad luck for this guy.
This guy on the left loses his work force- led by the guy on the right- due to the Drought.  This Movie barely hits 90 minutes and stuff like this is why.
Tom Skeritt is the Father and he's back to spend time with his family.  Yeah, he's not around enough, but, counterpoint- that mustache.
On his way home, he finds his dead friend and we learn that the lions flipped over a Jeep/SUV and tore their way in to kill a guy.

The Film couldn't figure out how to SHOW THAT HAPPENING, but take their word for it.
The people at the House don't seem to aware of the danger until it literally jumps on them.

I know that there was careful Editing and an Animal Trainer on hand, but that shit still looks dangerous as hell!
With no working Cars (since a Lion somehow swatted a hole in a pump- right!), they are stuck inside.
From this point on, it basically becomes 'Night of the Living Dead, but with Lions.'  On the plus side, a Lion somehow sneaks into the House via the Chimney and stealth-kills a guy!
In a semi-ironic move, they fashion a moving cage to get out to the Car amidst the Lions.  They escape, but at what cost?  The End.
A decent Movie, although factors outside of its control play a part.  It's really hard to truly enjoy a Film when the Quality is so bad that I feel like I'm watching it without my glasses on.  That said, the Movie is still pretty good.  The Drama is nice.  The Lions are real.  The attacks look pretty real, save for some choppy Editing.  The contrast between this and Roar is having the Lions trained.  On a certain level, you can make a case for not trying to 'domesticate' an Apex Predator like a Lion.  You should probably let it just be free and do what it wants.  On another level, if your Family is being scarred and terrified by them, maybe use trained ones!  There are zero stories about people maimed or wounded that I could find about this Film and it looks just as real most of the time.  I can accept a bit of Editing if it means that Melanie Griffith doesn't have to get 50 stitches!  Unlike later Films, they make the Lions a palpable threat and I liked it.  They are still Animals, so they smack each other around like they naturally do.  The Film manages to get close to 'Lions are super-smart' a couple of times- like the one waiting for the girl to stick her arm out- but holds back.  I still find the idea that they can do certain things in the Film to be a bit silly, but it's a minor point.  If you can find this Film (and in better visual fidelity), it's worth a look.  It's not going to blow your mind, but it has good moments in it.  It also features a famous company that is no longer with us...
Next time, I cover a third Film in a Series that was hated by the original Director.  Since the others were bad, is this good?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Quick Reviews: Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)

A Comic Book Crossover finally comes to Animation.  Will a lifetime of anticipation match the final product?  Let's see...
A new threat comes to Gotham- the Foot Clan!  Batman rises to the challenge, but finds it not so easy to deal with.
To make his night even harder, he runs across the titular Turtles and, naturally, a fight ensues.

It's kind of the rule that Superheroes have to fight when they first meet, right?
The Foot Clan allies itself with Ra's Al Ghul as part of a master plan that, well, is a crazier version of the usual 'Destroy the City to restore it' schtick.

Can you imagine your 10-year old self seeing this pairing though?  Damn!
It wouldn't be a Turtles tale without some ooze- or mutagen, if you're Batgirl- coming into play.  No SPOILERS though.
Can the group unite to stop a big threat?  
Even if they do, can they save the City?

Of course, they can, but you'll want to see how it all goes down.  Check it out!
Everything I was hoping for (and a little more). It has Batman.  It has the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  It has Batgirl and Damian Wayne.  It has Batman's Rogues Gallery.  It has The Shredder.  They manage to work in most of what you'd expect and many things you wouldn't.  Again- no SPOILERS, but the 2nd Act gets pretty insane!  If this does well enough, we can hope for even more, like Krang or Nightwing or Bebop & Rocksteady.  As it is, the Film gives you so many great moments and fun jokes.  Seeing the Turtles in the Batcave (see below) is one thing.  Seeing them geek out over what's in there is something else.  The Plot is nothing that is going to defy expectations, but everything delivers.  You get the fights you want to see.  You get the unique pairings you'd hope for.  You even get a little more as each Turtle has a 'counterpart' to play off of for their own Character Arcs.  Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is what it should be- fun, crazy and entertaining.  It even pays homage to the history of both Characters, but especially Batman with this deep cut...
A fun Film that manages to have more than you might expect.  It still skews younger than my Demographic, but leaves in enough nostalgia too.