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Here's a sampling of the movie reviews you will find crammed in with weird articles and interviews in the Dr. Squid zine.
Also known as Droid Gunner, according to various sources, but the video box I rented called it Cyberzone. Marc The Beastmaster Singer stars as a scruffy 'droid hunter, who works the mean streets of a future where the poor live "on the surface" while the wealthy live either in high rises or in an underwater city build where Los Angeles used to be (the west coast fell into the ocean, y'know). Matthias Hues - whom I last saw as the brain-draining alien in I Come in Peace - plays a smuggler who carries four pleasure droids (overly-buxom babes in lingerie and sometimes, not in lingerie) to earth. Marc is hired by the droids' owner to retrieve them and he's teamed up with a mousey-looking female assistant - who of course looks like a babe who is made up to look mousey by pulling her har back and wearing dorky glasses. In the course of looking for the missing pleasure droids, Marc visits a brothel, where the mousey-babe has to pose as a sexy hooker (I was just waiting for something like that to happen) and hangs out at a strip club where scream queen Brinke Stevens stars as a mutant stripper (her mutations consisted mainly of Spock ears and fangs). Anyhow, Marc meets up with the smuggler, who's been ripped-off by the president of new LA who wanted the droids in the first place. Needless to say, the two buff guys and the no-longer-mousey babe all team up to rescue the pleasure droids in a big shoot-out at new LA.
Fred Olen Ray directed this puppy and he knows "the elements:" babes, buff guys, blood, spaceships, strippers, gunplay and...babes. Well, as with other Ray features I've seen, the elements are there, but there's a little too much other stuff inbetween. This film gets added to my list of movies that re-use the spaceship footage from Battle Beyond the Stars (which includes Space Raiders and Dead Space already). In addition, some sort of waterworks plant is used as several locations, basically filling the role of the "warehouse/foundry/space to be used for the action-packed finale." Robocop ended up in some abandoned factory for his finale. In Cobra, Sylvester Stallone's Marion Cobretti fought his big finale in a working foundry, as did the characters in Terminator 2. You know the drill: at the end of the movie, get the main characters to a big space they can run around in, ricochet bullets off of, run along catwalks in, etc. Then either impale the bad guy or just blow the whole place up. In any case, getting back to Cyberzone, it wasn't that bad, actually - I enjoyed the sense of humor in it. Think of it as an R-rated Trancers. If you're into that kind of stuff, check it out.HEY! Director Fred Olen Ray himself contacted Dr. Squid about the above review...and here's what he had to say:
"Enjoyed you review of Cyberzone, which was made as Droid Gunner until the Lucas people tried to convince Roger Corman that THEY owned the word Droid.... I personally don't like anything with Cyber in the title. While some of your points are well made it must be considered that a) the film had a 10 shooting schedule - the same as Creepozoids; b) It's budget was a little over $225,000 - the same as an low-budget AIP film from the early 1970's; c) When Roger tells you to use the spaceship footage, you use the spaceship footage. Other than that I did the best I could with a script that was developed without my participation. Unfortunately, Corman chose to excise what I considered to be the film's best scene (with the orphan child) for home vid, but I think it may be in the Cable Tv version...Corman's spaceships also appear in Forbidden World (which Dead Space is a remake of), and Caged Heat 3000, but I'm sure there are others - like my film Hybrid and of course, the disasterous Star Hunter."
Director of photography Howard Wexler told Dr. Squid that Cyberzone was "a quickie Fred Olen Ray pic with a 10-day shooting schedule. Basically, Andrew Stevens, doing work for Roger Corman, had some stock footage in need of a story. Marc Singer was great, as well as Matthias, and we all had a good time."
It's the future. There is acid rain all over the place. After a big "computer readout" (green letters scrolling onto a black background) explains this set up, we see a band of army deserters make its way through alleys and under bridges until they end up taking refuge in an old warehouse. Looks like some sort of research lab to them, what with the computers, animal cages and such, but there's nobody home, no even the lab rats. The geeky one of the bunch starts hacking on the computer while the rest check out the sleeping quarters, grab some grub and in one case, have a soapy shower encounter (clean water is a big deal after all). After discovering a severed head and large holes in the rat cages, the bunch begin to wonder what exactly happened to the previous residents. At dinner, the geekozoid starts freaking out, puking black liquid and finally dying. We get to see glimpses of a large, black Alien-esque monster lurking around the complex. Next, Ashlyn Gere and Linnea Quigley are attacked by a very fake-looking giant rat. Linnea stomps the rodent, but Ashlyn suffers quite a nasty bite to the neck. Later, she flips out and beats the crap out of Linnea until she's crushed and pukes up more black stuff. The crew are picked off until a lone army dude is left to fight the vasiline-covered rubber monster.
This is one low-budget feature, filmed mostly in a few rooms with some metal shelving and dim lighting. The slobbering creature isn't too convincing and is even less scary when the ridiculous final battle takes place. The two scream queens seem to do an admirable job with the material they're given, but this is pretty much a by-the-numbers Alien rip-off.
Y'all remember Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Reba McIntire and Michael Gross battlin' those graboid worms in Tremors? Wasn't that a cool flick? Well, if you liked that one, you'll like this direct-to-video sequel. While Kevin and Reba don't return, the film opens with Fred Ward's Earl Bassett, now trying to run an ostrich ranch out in the desert, being asked to help fight a new outbreak of graboids near oilfields in Mexico. As the story goes, Ward and Bacon's characters shared short-lived fame after their initial graboid adventure, appearing on magazine covers, talk shows and inspiring a video game. Ward got the short end of the hype stick and what money he did make he's now blown a couple of ostriches who are more than a bit coy about breeding. With not much to lose and more fame and fortune to gain, Earl heads of to Mexico with a gung-ho, young hanger-on named Grady and meets up with a pretty blonde scientist (Helen Shaver) at the company's office. Using a bunch of explosives supplied courtesy of the Mexican military, Ward & friend go on a spree, blowing up gobs of graboids out in the fields. Ward soon calls up his old militant buddy Burt Gummer (Micheal Gross), who's holed up in his bunker watching war movies...alone. Seems that Reba left him between films. Anyhow, he heads down, arrivng in a huge military truck stocked with tons o' explosives. On an evening wormhunt, Earl & Grady get in a bit of fender-bender, ending up stuck on a rock with a huge graboid just on the other side. This big worm isn't very aggressive, in fact it just lays there, pulsating and screeching. The pair has to wait it out while a company man comes out to the rescue. After a huge noise, the two check out the graboid only to find its entire side burst open. They risk heading out across land back towards the base, coming upon their "rescue" truck along the way. The bashed up vehicle holds only a few bloody remnants of it's former driver. When they get back to the base, they are soon assaulted by the latest mutation of the graboids - ostrich-like walkers with big ol' mouths and oddball retractable antenae. They're fast, they're mean and their pursuit takes up the rest of the movie.
All of the quick pace, inventive storyline, action and sly humor of the first feature are here, along with lots of cool and gorey effects. The plot really kept me guessing as the remaining players tried to stay one step ahead of the gaggle of running graboids. There's a bit of techno-babble about the origins of these giant worms, but just enough to provide some interesting flavor to the story. The first Tremors was an entertaining b-movie and so is Tremors II. Check it out!
As my friend John and I watched Death Machine, we kept yelling out names of other movies that it seemed like we were watching. Aliens! Robocop! Terminator! Bladerunner! Edward Scissorhands! Now, don't get me wrong - even though a lot of sequences looked like they were patched together from other genre favorites, this was a pretty entertaining flick. After "near future" appears on screen, it starts off abruptly at the death-strewn scene where a cyborg has gone berserk. Just as the armored security dudes get to him, he shorts out and collapses. Turns out there's one of those nasty megacorporations (Chaank Armaments Corp.) that has been working on a variety of nasty military projects trying to come up with the ultimate war machine. After all, their motto is, "Hard Technology for a Hard World." These projects have all been hush hush until a new board of directors member, Hayden Cale, leaks some info out. She hopes to stop the secret productions or at least acknowledge their existence. The rest of the board is not too keen on that idea. It seems there's this little psycho genius named Jack Dante who works in the basement on these secret projects and the last time a board member tried to stop his work, Jack made sure he turned up dead. Shredded, to be exact. Cale thinks this is all phoney baloney and decides to confront Dante in his lab.
Unfortunately, he decides that she is going to be his next girlfriend. Later that evening, Dante overhears (he of course hears and sees everything with all of his little cameras and such throughout the building) two board members plotting to kill Cale so she won't upset the balance of things. Since Jack doesn't want his new (however unwilling) girlfriend to be offed, he sends his Death Machine (referred to as Warbeast in the film - perhaps the original title?) to slice and dice. At this point, I figured that the rest of the movie would be crazy ol' Jack directing his chomping erector set to julliane all of his enemies, however, a new twist was thrown into the mix. A trio of eco-terrorists break into the building with the intention of breaking into "vault 10" and seizing a bunch of "technology bonds" or something, essentially stealing all the corporation's money. So with the terrorists, Cale, Dante, some fat guy board member and the Warbeast as our cast, the movie continues as an exciting thrill-ride with a bunch of funny one-liners (no, not stupid Arnold or Freddy Krueger-type ones, these are actually funny) and a couple of neat plot twists.
Now, let's get down to specifics. The warbeast is a pretty cool-lookin' piece of work - kind of a metal skeletal alien queen with chomping teeth and long Edward Scissorhands hands. Dante is played by Brad Dourif, who is known for playing creepy and/or psycho guys in movies like Dune, Spontaneous Combustion, Trauma and on the X-Files episode "Beyond the Sea." He's got long greasy hair in this one and just barely avoids playing Dante over the top. Some of the hilarious lines include Gale saying "Sign my ass!" and one of the terrorists saying to the fat guy, "F**k you, Ho Ho!" That was so funny I had to find a pencil and write it down.
All in all, Death Machine is a pretty cool sci-fi action thriller that may borrow some concepts and set design from other movies, but is entertaining just the same. Check it out.
Auntie Lee's Meat Pies
Oh my God, was this awful! This is one of those movies that I had read about here and there and it seems to me that it was generally referred to as some sort of campy comedy. It tries to sell itself as some sort of black comedy about Auntie Lee (Karen Black) who's bevy of nieces (including Teri Weigel who may look familiar from Playboy or Married with Children or her numerous porno films) seduce young men, bringing them back to the house where they are turned into the raw materials for Auntie's famous and popular meat pies. Tossed in are a dim-witted hired hand and the local sheriff, played by Pat Morita, best known as Arnold on Happy Days and the teacher in the Karate Kid movies.
Granted, this premise has some black comedy potential, but this production doesn't take advantage of it, instead padding out the minimal plot with long, meandering conversations and long, meandering shots. For instance, did we really need to see a group of people get out of their car and walk ALL THE WAY up the stairs to the house and then in to the house and then a few seconds of the house after they went inside? Or when a car speeds off down a road in the woods, after the car drives all the way out of sight, the camera stays on the shot of the woods for what seems like 30 whole seconds! There are several sequences of the girls poorly attempting to use sexual innuendo, but they all seemed to be striking a pose as they were droning out their inane lines. In b-movie terms, the film could've at least filled the gaps between the boring scenes with some nudity and gore, after all, you've got a bunch of sexy women, including a porn star fer crissakes, and guys being ground up into pie filling. But except for a couple of super-brief glimpses of one girl's breasts, everyone keeps their clothes on. The gore scenes, very far and few between, are really cheesy. At dinner one night, they bring out "baby," a full grown woman in a giant stroller who coys and giggles like an infant and is extremely annoying and a huge turn-off in my book. Was this supposed to be sexy? Funny? Well, it was neither. The best thing about this movie is Karen Black who actually made the Auntie Lee character entertaining.
Sorry, folks, but I would say this flick would be a total and complete waste of your time. Skip it, please.
I had heard good things about Chronos, a vampire film from Mexico. When my friend Tim said he was going to see it on campus, I jumped at the chance. The film details the story of the Chronos Device, the insect/mechanical creation of an alchemist who used its blood-filtering powers to live a couple hundred years longer than he should have. He is killed when a building collapses and the device is lost. It is discovered by an antiques dealer who finds it in the base of a statue. The golden object clamps onto his hand and "stings" him. He slowly develops an addiction to these stings and a taste for blood. No fangs. no coffins. A new twist on an old theme. At the same time, a rich recluse has gotten hold of the alchemist's notebook, describing the device and how to use it. His hulky son, played by Beauty & The Beast's Ron Pearlman, hunts the statue down and roughs up the old man in search of the device. I don't want to give too much away, but highlights include licking blood off a bathroom floor, grandpa sleeping in his granddaughter's toy chest, and believe it or not, a hilarious morgue sequence. This movie was made with style. Quality acting, effective set design and atmosphere and an intriguing story make this film one to see.
On a side note, I noticed that the U.S. video release of this film has a blonde babe on the cover, with the Chronos device sucking on her breast. Just to avoid any disappointment, I'll let you know that this scene does not occur in the film. But see it anyway!
This is a cool flick. If you've ever seen the show The Night Stalker, you'll recognize some similarities. An ambitions (and often obnoxious) reporter is investigating a series of gruesome murders that point to some sort of cult ritual. He uses his connections within the police department to get more info than most reporters. He is also investigating an extremely wealthy businessman and his company. These two stories end up meeting when it is revealed that the businessman and his associates are actually satan worshippers! They've turned to the dark side and have been making sacrifices to gain more and more wealth here on earth. This is a cool concept and is played out with lots of cynical humor. A title like "Satan-Worshipping Yuppies" might not sell this video as well, but would be a pretty good name, giving you the idea that mixed with the bloody gore and a few scenes of nudity, there's a wry sense of humor - and that's what pulls this movie above others like it, that turn out to be depressing gore-fests. The only drawbacks were the sometimes over-the-top performances by the reporter and a heavy-metal satanist. From a practical aspect, this was shot on video and run through the filmlook process, and the lighting, angles, sound and effects on this are terrific. I wish I could tell you about the ending because it is by far the greatest part of this flick - great effects, great acting and a final plot twist that had me laughing for days. Recommended!
It seems that sometime in the future, a band of bad dudes have acquired the launch codes to start World War III and are using them to blackmail the United States. The feds decide to send in the D-1 unit, or Digital Man, an experimental cyborg that is the state of the art soldier. The D-1 goes in, wipes out the bad guys, acquires the launch codes himself and then goes AWOL. Back at HQ the commander who sent the experimental unit gets chewed out and the head honchos call in a quartet of tough marines, assigning them the charge of destroying the rogue cyborg. The team heads out towards "Badwater," the desert site of a closed nuclear facility and now home to a bunch of redneck ex-employees of said facility. Once the Marines arrive there's mucho firepower and battling with the Digital Man as well as dealing with the obnoxious white trash residents of the small town under seige.
The first half of the movie plays like an episode of Space: Above and Beyond. You've got your racially and gender-mixed team of tough Marines, overseen by a tough-talking commanding officer. You've got big guns, virtual-reality training, cool computer-generated transports, bases and effects and a quick-moving, action-driven plot. Once the group lands in Badwater however, it reminded me more of the b-classic, Tremors. You've got your desert town in the middle of nowhere, populated by only a handful of hillbilly types and a big menace that everyone is trying to get away from. Plus there's a good dose of comic relief from the town's residents.
The Digital Man is played by Matthias Hues, who was in Cyberzone and played the cranium-piercing alien in I Come In Peace. And he looks good as a armor-covered cyborg. Other actors you may recognize include Clint Howard (Ron's brother) as another cyborg unit and Patrick Swayze's brother, Don, as the lead hill person, whose trailer is blown up after he and his girlfriend are interupted while trying out new sexual positions.
Despite getting a little slow in the middle, the pace is pretty good, the effects are decent and the plotline actually take a few twists and turns to keep things interesting. Check it out.
Meet The Feebles
For those of you who may not know who Peter Jackson is (editor’s note - this review was written in the mid-90s, long before Lord of the Rings), he is a New Zealand director whose odd films include the zombie ultra-gorefest Dead Alive (originally released as Brain Dead) and the excellent but creepy Heavenly Creatures. An earlier film, Meet The Feebles, was the darling of bootleggers for a long time. I read bits and pieces about it, making it this legendary unobtainable film that could only be found locked away in the bedrooms of geeky videophiles, stacked along with tapes of Jackie Chan movies (from before Rumble In The Bronx was a hit the US), Italian cannibal flicks and the director's cuts of The Abyss and Army of Darkness. It's reputation of sick-and-twistedness had only grown because most people hadn't actually seen it. Lo and behold one day, a single copy of it actually showed up at the local Hollywood Video! With a simple rental transaction, I was about to experience the depravity I had only read about.
Suffice to say, this weird flick was everything I had read about. This is basically an unrated version of The Muppet Show, detailing the behind-the-scenes and backstage antics that occur as The Feebles prepare to put on the evening's big variety show. The Feebles basically are muppets; there's an overeating pink hippo who's having an affair with the theater owner, a blue walrus, who himself is boffing one of the dancers. Meanwhile, there's a rat whose making a porno flick in the basement with a cow decked out in bondage gear. Toss in a knife-throwing frog who's a dope-addicted Vietnam vet, a flamingly gay stage manager (who performs a wonderful musical number about his favorite sexual activity) and a blue elephant who got his chicken girlfriend knocked up and you start to get a picture of this twisted tale.
The protagonist of the story is a wide-eyed young hedgehog who is super cute and immediately falls in love with a dancer when he starts on the show. Elsewhere, the wacky rabbit, known for his sexual prowess, apparently comes down with AIDS, while the boss walrus and his bulldog henchman are out scoring some cocaine. The grossest character by far is an annoying fly who's a gossip columnist for the local newsrag. He buzzes around digging up dirt on the Feebles and is once seen hanging out in the toilet, eating his dinner with a spoon. I hope you know what I mean because I'm not going into anymore detail here. Suffice to say, this is one bizarre movie mixing puppets with sick, dark humor and a healthy dose of violence.
Now I can say that I have seen the legendary Meet The Feebles and it truly is a sick and twisted movie. I was repulsed but strangely fascinated. If you can handle really, really, really dark humor than rent this flick (if you can find it!).
I passed by this box many times in the video store - you never know these days with the word Cyborg slapped onto so many pieces of crap. I think it started with vampires - see, directors figured that all they needed for a vampire movie was some fangs and some blood, so a lot of cheap (and bad) vampire movies were made. You should also watch out for zombie movies. I mean, there are some cool ones (Romero's trilogy, Dead Next Door), many directors figure if you have some ratty clothes and some dark eyeshadow, you can make a zombie movie. For a while there, serial killers became the cheap movie fad - I mean, you didn't even need any make up for this - just a guy who can look crazy. So a lot of cheesy movies came out that had "serial killers" in them. So now we come to cyborgs. Well, true, usually these movies have some sort of special effects in them, often some part of the cyborg's flesh is shown torn away and you see mechanics underneath. But nowadays those prosthetics can be bought at the local Halloween shop, so some cheapo cyborg films are being made. Which brings me back to Cyborg Cop. Not necessarily cheap, but not necessarily good, either. In fact I was enticed to rent this by seeing a trailer for it on another movie. Unfortunately it was a case of the trailer being better than the whole movie it was promoting. Actually until about the last 1/3 I was feeling very ripped off. The movie starts with two DEA agents in a shootout. One agent blasts the nutjob, but he turns out to be part of a famous newspaper family, So the cop is grilled in he press and basically forced to resign. He ends up going on a secret mission with some Navy SEAL types to South America somewhere to attack a drug lord's HQ. It turns out to be a setup and basically the good guys are slaughtered. Back home the cop's buddy finds out he's missing and heads south to find him. Hey - where are the cyborgs?!?! Anyhow, the buddy gets to the islands and runs into a reporter from one of the papers who slandered his friend. Well, after the little fight they had I knew these two were going to end up in the sack together and...I was right. They end up teaming up to find out what happened to the cop. Hey, where are the cyborgs? Oh, wait, here they are. Seems that the drug lord has a team of scientists making cyborgs to sell to international criminal groups and questionable governments for use as the perfect assassin. They've got one unit done and are at work turning the cop into one of them. Needless to say, a few remnants of the cop's memory remain and so he ends up fighting against the bad guys but dies a tragic death at the end. Sob. Now, I guess this was a cool concept, but just wasn't done very well - in fact is was pretty slow and there was quite of bit of dialogue I laughed out loud at. Here's something else I laughed at. When we first see the cyborg-making lab, the background sound effects are the sounds from the Enterprise deck on the Star Trek TV show! Hilarious! In any case, unless you want to fast forward through this whole movie for the 2 minute sex scene, you can probably skip it.
My friend John and I were scanning the horror section of our local video shop when the sight of porn star Ginger Lynn Allen in a black bikini/warrior outfit caught our eyes. A few bloody pics on the back including a clown with sharp metal teeth made us take a chance on renting Satan's Storybook. As expected, Ginger is only in a little bit of the movie. This 1989 shot on video feature starts with some black demon ninjas fighting a white-clad ninja who has kidnapped a goth-looking chick with black lipstick. Turns out that the white ninja is Ginger and she has kidnapped Satan's bride, as part of a prophecy about some good girl killing the woman who would bear Satan's child: the antichrist. We hear all this through a long monologue from Ginger after she spins out of her ninja getup and into the barbarian bikini. She literally spins and ends up in a different outfit. Sorry, no nudity in this feature. Cut to a goat-headed Satan sitting on his throne, surrounded by smoke. He's mighty pissed that the babe he was about to impregnate has been taken so he sends his minions after Ginger. To pass the time while he waits, he calls upon his Jester, who pops up out of the floor fog and proceeds to dance around like a dork between telling a few tales for the horned one's amusement (hence the title Satan's Storybook - I knew it would turn into an anthology sometime). The first tale is about the "Demon of Death," a psycho serial killer dressed in 80's cliche heavy metal garb. He picks a name out of the phone book and goes to kill her. Problem is that the girl he wants is a clairvoyant, and her mom is a witch. He slaughters the family in a pretty bloody style, but then gets gunned down by the cops. He doesn't die, though so he's carted off to prison and is sent to the electric chair. Meanwhile, his last inteneded victim is having a seance to call upon her dead mom for guidance on how to get revenge on the killer. After a trite twist ending, the Jester tells his second tale, that of an alcoholic clown who is all washed up and decides to hang himself. After the hanging he is visited by another clown and there is a loooooong sequence of boring dialogue. Finally the bad clown reveals his spikey metal teeth and tells the drunk clown that he is dead and is going to hell. Cut back to Ginger, who is wandering through the woods with Satan's bride in tow. She is suddenly surrounded by a bunch of guys in cloaks and halloween masks and proceeds to vanish like Obi Wan Kenobi on the Death Star. After the bride decides she doesn't want to bear Satan's kid after all, we get a red, smokey shot of Ginger saying (implying a sequel no less!) that they'll meet again and the credits roll. This was baaad, folks, sorry to say. I mean, Ginger did OK I guess, but wasn't in most of the movie. The folks who were in most of the movie were pretty awful. The effects were cheesy overall, but they did get some good make-up guys to work on this thing. Satan's make-up was pretty good as was some of his minions. Even the halloween masks were pretty cool-looking. But geez, none of that makes it worth sitting through this thing.
I recall seeing the TV ads for this fantasy adventure when I was a kid - it came out a few years after Star Wars and seemed to me (even as a kid) that they were trying to ride on the Star Wars bandwagon. But I didn't care - it looked really cool to a 12 year old kid, what with all the spaceships and laserguns and stop-motion animated monsters. Alas, I never made it to the State Theater to see it and for a long time, I all but forgot about it. Then I happened upon the video at a new video shop I was checking out and all of those adolescent memories flooded back and I had to rent it. Well, it reminds me of a cross between Barbarella (in particular the distinctly European feel, including lots of fantastical sets and colored stars in space (much like the rainbow colored starfields that littered the Lou Ferrigno Hercules movies, but that's another review altogether). A lot of it reminded me of Jason of Star Command and other Saturday morning space operas of my youth.
The film opens with a total Star Wars rip-off: a giant ship decends into the shot from above. Shortly we see transluscent red dots all over the place and a bunch of space guys on board the ship get killed by them. It's all quite surreal, actually. Marjoe Gortner (with his annoyingly feminine features and tight poodle hairdo) and Carolyn Monroe are being chased by the intergalactic cops. They are caught and thrown in jail. Despite all the other inmates being costumed in jumpsuits, Carolyn's jailbird attire consists of a leather bikini.She escapes from jail and after running through an intergalactic cornfield, a spaceship lands on a hill and she goes in to find a green-skinned cop and his black-helmeted robot, who have come to free her so they cam all join up on a secret mission. Christopher Plummer's hologram pops in to explain that the universe has been divided up into two warring factions and The COunt's side developed a weapon that is so powerful, it takes an entire planet to conseal it. THeir mission is to sail to the "haunted stars," find The Count's secret planet and destroy it!
Along the way, they end up on a planet of Amazonian women, who also wear bikini-type outfits. I am telling you, if I had seen this when I was 12, I would've LOVED it. The fact that I saw it when I was over 30 gave me a little different view.
The good news is that is moves along at a good pace - there is always some sort of action going on whether it is explosions, fights, spaceship chases, monsters or just plain running around. The stop motion effects remind me of some of the Sinbad movies, although not nearly as smooth. And of course, Carolyn Monroe looks pretty darned good in her leather bikini thing. The bad news is it was just too silly for me. I really think it is a colorful throwback to Flash Gordon and some of the adventure serials and on that level it works. However, it has the same drawbacks as a lot of those serials do: stilted dialogue, cheap-looking effects and costumes, outlandish concepts and ridiculous things happeneing all over the place. If you can put yourself in that 12-year old state of mind this is a fun ride, but for those who want more science in their fiction and/or want a heapin' helpin' of nudity and gore - this ain't the tape to rent tonight.
Killer Sex Queens from Cyberspace
The basic plot is this: the Prometheus Corporation has created a computer program called the "Virtual Escort" that is the most realistic thing on the market. Unfortunately the same compnay also makes the world's most powerful military software, in particular a program that can get into eenemy territory via any electrical, computer or phone line. Can you guess what happens? The programs get a little mixed together leading to a computer generated hooker who pleases her clients...then kills them! A local videostore begins carrying the CDs and business is booming. Soon they are tagged as a virtual brothel by city officials and take some heat from the cops.
What we have here is a really silly movie that I actually had a good time watching. First off, there are lots of sexy babes and they usually get totally naked. Secondly, there is a lot of funny stuff - very broad comedy: sight gags, a bearded guy in drag, funny sound effects, really stupid guys, trailer trash, ultra sleazy salesmen, etc. Some of the acting is OK, but most of it is really bad and it actually makes parts of the whole thing funnier.
This shot on video movie has two directors - one for the "erotic videography" and one for the rest of it. In other words, what these guys did is write a movie around several super-hot x-rated scenes of ladies stripping out of their bikinis and all but lap-dancing for the camera. So whenever some dork pops the CD-Rom into ther computer, it switches to the erotic footage (that would prbably be on one of those types of CD ROMs anyhow).B-movie babe Lorissa McComas appears as the virtual hooker/killer and Danni Ashe (of the infamous website Danni's Hard Drive) unleashes her bod from it's bikini bonds and gives herself a poolside oil rubdown. The computer generated effects are pretty low-tech compared to Hollywood fare, but in the context of this movie, they work since nothing is taken seriously. If you want to have a fun time and check out what my friend described as, "a whole lotta naked," this movie would be a fun choice.
OK, I have heard about this David Lynch movie for years and whenever I would mention it to my friends they would all say, "oh man that was totally disturbing" and then kind of shudder. Well, of course, that made me even more curious to see it.
The film concerns a young man, Jeffrey Beaumont (played by Kyle McLaughlin) who comes back to his small hometown when his father goes into the hospital. On his way back home from visiting Dad at the hospital, he cuts through a field and find a human ear. He takes it to the police and shows it to a detective there. He later visits the detective at home and meets up with his daughter (Laura Dern) whom he sort of knew from afar in school. They share what they know about the ear and the case and soon are more curious about it than I was to see this movie. Soon, Jeffery finds himself compeled to sneak into the apartment of a local lounge singer whom they believe is linked to the case. She comes home while he is there and he hides in the closet. What he sees is one of the many "disturbing" parts of the movie. Through a cryptic phone call, we learn that the singer, Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), is a married woman whose husband and son are being held hostage by a weirdo criminal named Frank (Dennis Hopper), who later shows up and engages in a strange sadomasichistic sexual thing with the singer, while he swears up a storm and inhales deeply from some sort of tank he has hanging from his belt. Jeffery is discovered and forced to strip naked as Dorothy seduces him and begs him to hit her. Like I said, this is one of the disturbing parts. The story goes on later as Jeffery gets taken for a joyride by Frank and his lackies. They visit the crash pad of a guy named Ben (Dean Stockwell) who is another bizarre character himself: suave, very feminine, wearing slight make-up and speaking very softly. They are surrounded by silent fat extras who look like they came from a Sunday church picnic. As Jeffery peels away the layers of the case, he finds connections that go as far as the local police. He puts his trust in his detective friend and this leads to an ultimate showdown with Frank at Dorothy's apartment, which is to say the least, another disturbing part.
There's a couple of gratuitous gore scenes and a whole lotta nudity from Dorothy. Oh yeah and a whole lotta the "f" word.
All in all, the tone of this movie is very Lynchian - lots of close-ups of things we might take for granted by that a lonely guy with a lot of time on his hands would notice (bugs crawling in the grass, the inside of the ear, the lushness of blue velvet). The colors in some parts or so rich and saturated, they just might drip off the screen - like in the apartment building hallway: filled with drab blue and grays, but with super-rich red EXIT signs and ashtrays. The music is dreamlike (except for some guitar-driven hot rod music during the joyride). The characters for the most part all their weird sides, but many of them (Frank, Ben, Dorothy and other smaller roles) have extremely overt weird sides.
This movie originally came out in 1986 and at the time it was shocking. The brutality of Frank and the sheer weirdness of the characters combined with the detailed shots of the severed ear really threw audiences for a loop. That is, unless they had seen Pink Flamingoes already, but that?s another review. Perhaps based on the rantings of my friends, I was expecting too much disturbing stuff or a lot of seemingly nonsensical references and stuff like Eraserhead. Actually, Blue Velvet seemed almost normal compared to a lot of the stuff I've seen. There was a lot more brutality in Resevoir Dogs or True Romance. Seven gave lots of screen time to dead bodies, body parts and the like. Pulp Fiction had a couple of characters chatting in a car while a man with his head blown off lay in the back seat and one of the guys had brain matter stuck in his afro. I guess so much has been done since '86 that the shocks weren't as shocking as I had hoped. That being said, I did feel uncomfortable watching Frank beat the crap out of Dorothy and get all weirded out on Jeffery and stuff. As with all Lynch movies I've seen, it's kind of slow and there's lots of stuff that seems to come out of left field. If you are into this stuff, check it out. At least then you can say you've seen it.
Fade in and we see a bald, skinny guy dressed in baggy green clothes, just waking up. He stands and finds himself inside a square room, with the floor, ceiling and all four walls looking the same - a pattern of panels with a door in the middle. He checks a few of these safe-like doors and sees identical rooms on the other side, save for a different color lighting in each. He goes through one of the doors into the next room. After a moment there is a huge wooshing sound and then the guy falls apart into a pile of well sliced segments. After his body crumbles, a frame with criss-crossing wires swings back and folds up into the ceiling. And that's all before the titles!
The opening sequence of Cube is haunting and it only gets better from here. We gradually meet several other people, all dressed the same, all confused as to where they are, and how and why they got there. There's the cop, who naturally takes charge of the group. The bleeding-heart liberal female doctor. The frightened young female student. The sarcastic, nihilistic guy. The prison escape artist. The retarded guy. They make their way through this maze, trying to avoid "traps" and find a way out. The student turns out to be a math whiz, which helps when the group discovers a numbering system to the rooms. But is the system really what they think it is? That's what really makes this work - they don't really know...anything! They don't even really know what the cube is. Or do they? Or do we? This element of mystery is played well and the plot keeps twisting and turning.
I don't really want to give too many plot points away because I really enjoyed this movie and hope you check it out sometime.
While it may seem that this could be a dull, overacted set piece, with lots of conversations between these different people, who find out more about themselves and each other in the face of danger, with lots of allegory and moral lessons, it is not. Instead, it is a smart, tense action thriller. Sure there are a few spots where the characters talk, and butt heads, and we find out a bit about their different backgrounds, but that is well-balanced with a lot of tense situations, action and suspense.
For you scorekeepers out there, there are no nude scenes, but there are several super-gross-out scenes chock full of flesh-eating acid, blood and gore. This is not a gorefest by far, but the gore it does show is killer.
The amazing thing about this is that 90% of it was probably shot on one set (two of the cube rooms - they could have just re-lit each one with a different color each time the characters were to be in another room), and yet it doesn't seem like a small movie. The way it is shot and the pace that the movie moves at really give a sense of being lost in an endless array of rooms. The music is minimal and is mostly just odd synthesizer moans and mechanical noises.
I really enjoyed this one. Dr. Squid says check it out.
The video box looked like an Aliens rip-off, the plot description looked like an Aliens rip-off and, indeed, Dead Space is an Aliens rip-off. We open with Marc "Beastmaster" Singer and his robot sidekick intercut with FX scenes from Battle Beyond the Stars (which were also used in Space Raiders, Cyberzone, and probably some other films I haven't seen...yet). Anyway, he gets a distress signal from a research outpost where some virus research experiment has gone awry. He lands to check it out and then we are treated to scens of various vaseline-covered rubber critters hiding in air shafts and sticking to people's faces. Unfortunately, there are just too many long, dull sequences of Marc and the crew walking through corridors between the excitement. Finally, at the end, the creature has grown to about 10 feet tall and looks like a cobweb-covered mother alien from Aliens. The movie is only about 78 minutes, and there's a nice sex scene with El Beastmaster, but overall it was a little slow for me. If you love Marc Singer the way I do, you'll need to check this one out, if only to be a completist.
I had heard about the Brood as being one of David Cronenberg's earlier films and since I am a fan of many of his works, I tracked it down and rented it. It is an odd mix of classic Cronenberg and hokey monster movie. The eerie, psychological stuff comes from the set up of a new-age clinic out in a big, nifty-looking cabin the woods in Canada. Run by the imposing and secretive Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed), the clinic uses intense forms of therapy, usually involving some type of hypnosis, regression and acting out of past experiences. This intensity results in a physical manifestation of some sort, most notibly a bunch of scars and wounds appearing on a patient during a demonstration of the therapy. Frank's wife, Nola, has been holed up at the Doc's clinic for awhile and he and her daughter miss her very much. But when Nola's mother is killed, the Doc won't let her out for the funeral claiming that to break the therapy process would cause too much damage. Slowly, the movie's tension builds as more killings occur. Each time we get to see more and more of the killer(s). They first appear as little jumpsuited munchkins - not very scary if you ask me. Later we get to see that they are mutant little girls. After some more investigation, Frank discovers that his wife, through the whacked-out therapy, has manifested her little problems with little mutant kids that have gone out and done away with those that have caused her pain in her past. It's a nifty little plotline and there's a pretty disgusting "birthing" scene, but I just couldn't get scared by the little girls. Here's a bit of obscurity - one of the mutants is played by Felix Silla, who played that annoying little robot, Twiki on the Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century TV show.
The movie had what I feel is the Cronenburg spookiness about it and some intense performances, but when the actual "monsters" came on screen it seemed a little silly. Not a bad flick, kind of talky and a little slow at times, but more of an interesting look at the guy who would freak us out with Scanners and The Fly.
This is a classic hokey sci-fi classic if you ask me. Maybe I'm a little fonder of it than most because I first saw it when I was a kid, but it still is hilariously entertaining. It starts out with a great psychedelic rock song entitled, Green Slime. Any movie that is called Green Slime and then actually uses a song of the same name in it has to be good. There's this space station hanging on wires out in space and Richard Jaeckel is on board, sweating along with a bunch of clean-cut guys in drab outfits. They ride around in the vehicles of the future - golf carts! There's some sort of research going on and these spores get into the ship and start turning into this green slime which then turns into these giant cucumber-shaped monsters with lots of eyes and tentacles. Remember that show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters? Well, if you do, think of a really pissed-off Daddy Sea Monster wildly flailing his floppy rubber arms around and you'll get the idea. Anyway, then everybody sweats some more and they bring in the golf carts. They try to contain the green slime monsters in the hallways by closing off sections of them like the ending sequence from Get Smart. A bunch of guys get slimed and there's lots of dramatic tension and sound effects of beeping and computer-type noises. I have since read that this was some sort of Japanese/American production, which doesn't surprise me. This green slime cucumber monsters looked like the guys that Ultraman fought every week. The explosions in space highlight all of the wires holding everything up. Now, let me pause for a moment to note that it may seem like I'm pointing out all of the bad points of the film, but those are what make it entertaining. I've seen my share of movies that were supposed to be "so bad, they're good," and they were just...bad. However, this one is so colorful, action-packed and cliche'-ridden, that it really is fun. Really.
Another memorable thing about this film was the sound made when a bunch of people were running. It was obviously dubbed in later and sounded like a couple of guys typing on a word-processor.
As with a lot of these movies, don't expect Out of Africa or Academy Award material here. If you except them for what they are and don't place your expectations too high, you'll end up being entertained. I'm not really sure if this is out on video, but I've seen it several times on local stations and often in TNT sci-fi festivals.
I first read about the Australlian film Body Melt in an issue of Fangoria Magazine. The article was peppered with supergross photos of goopy, melted heads. When I saw that it was out on video, I just had to rent it. Oh, well, you live and learn. The first 10 minutes were great - opening with a TV commercial for a health farm/vacation resort, then cutting to a sweat-soaked, couple, apparently taking a break from some sexual activities. The woman, seen as the spokesperson in the aforementioned commercial, injects the delerious guy with some sort of syrum. We next hear her telling someone over the phone that her injections will assure the guy's death by the morning. The injected guy looks up an address on a computer, leaves the health farm and, after a brief stop at a convenience store, leads a high speed chase that ends with his crashing into a van at the end of a cul-de-sac. Oh, did I mention that this whole time his neck was disinegrating? The basic premise is that the health club is experimenting with some superdrugs, designed to alter the body's gene structure. They're disguising the drugs as vitamins and experimenting on the resort's guests. The man residing at the address on the computer receives a free sample of said vitamins in the mail. So much for the set up. What we get for the next hour or so is a lot of dull dialogue, a couple of young dudes who run into a family of inbreds when they get lost on the way to the resort and a couple of cops asking a lot of questions. Finally, in the last 15 or so minutes of the film, the body melting begins and, I must admit, is pretty gross. The whole inbred family sequence (which seemed to be dropped in from a different movie when I was watching it) finally is linked into the plot and the cops arrive on the scene. Topped off with a trite twist ending, Body Melt seemed to be stretched out way too far. Apparently, it was based on a short story and probably should've been a shorter film. When they finally pile on the cool FX at the end of the movie, they were all of the scenes I had already seen stills of in the magazine article I read. If you want to get some cheap thrills watching some gorey effects, rent Body Melt and fast forward through the middle.
This is a pretty cool, quirky film. The time is a near future and obnoxious wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper plays drifter who comes to the big city to work. He meets up with this big black guy and they bulge their muscles together working (and living) at a construction site. The gap between the very rich and very poor is widening and weird things are going on at a church. Director Carpenter was apparently trying to make an analogy to some of the right-wing social and political trends going on in the real world (actually, I think he does that in most of his movies). Anyhow, Piper finds some sunglasses and when he looks through them, all the rich people look like toadfaced aliens. In fact, THEY ARE toadfaced aliens! All of the billboards and signs have hidden words painted on them, seeming into our subconscious, but revealed with the aid of the sunglasses. The basic premise here is that the world has been taken over by these aliens who can look like humans and subliminally keep the world's people under control. They communicate with Dick Tracy 2-way wristwatches and have a secret base underground where they can transport back and forth to their home planet. Roddy gets to wrestle/fight the black guy for a r-e-a-l-l-y long fight (I read that John Carpenter just kind of let those guys go and left the camera rolling) and join an underground group who are fighting the aliens. He also gets a gun and kills a whole bunch of them.
Whenever I used to catch Rowdy Roddy Piper on Portland Wrestling, he was a total jerk - I hated him. Of course, I think that's all part of the act - you're supposed to hate him. In this movie, he was kind of cool. This film has a classic line that is at once really stupid and really hilarious. Roddy walks into a bank full of the rich aliens with a big gun and says, "I came to chew bubble gum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubble gum." There's a lot of cool effects with the glasses showing the world alternately as we see it and the world as the aliens have made it. What they need to do is have John and Roddy come back and do a sequel, where humanity and the aliens battle in a massive apocalyptic war with guns and zombies and lasers and spaceships and all that stuff. Hee hee hee! As I recall, They Live got a rather cold shoulder at the box office, so I don't know that a They Live II is likely in the near future. In this meantime, this movie's pretty neat. Oh yeah and another killer John Carpenter soundtrack. Check it out!
I got a big kick out of The Tenement and the main reason is that it kept me guessing. And for a guy who has seen quite a few horror movies, that's a real compliment. While the execution is sometimes rough in terms of production values and acting, the clever stories in this horror anthology really make it sing. Case-in-point, we start off with a popular genre cliche: a couple making out in a parked car who, in short order, are attacked by hooded figures. Next thing you know the girl's tied-up and the figures are spouting quazi-satanic stuff. I was started to get annoyed: while the cult was talking about this girl having to pay for her sins (which I assume was making out in a car), a couple of leather-clad lesbians started making out. This was flying in the face of logic and as I was just ready to scream out loud at the screen that this didn't make any sense...I was hit in the face with a clever plot twist. I was impressed. As the building-related stories began, I was thrilled at the interesting left-turns that the stories took.
The building of the title is merely a device to link several stories together - each one is about someone who has lived in this building. The horror movie fanatic who falls into an audition for his favorite director, only to be shot down in flames. We peek inside this fanatic's mind and question what is real and what's not. We're next thrown into a tale of a mute girl and a man stalking her. Their cat and mouse game is engaging and played fairly straight. The next tale starts off with so much humor, it really jerked me out of the vibe of the movie, but before long, I was hip to the dark humor moving this tale of a neurotic man who may or may not be a werewolf. Then we meet a serial killer whose unique way of getting victims causes an encounter with a woman who doesn't react as most victims would. To tell too much more about any of these stories would be too much of a spoiler, but each has it's own share of plot twists and shocking moments.
Overall, you get a lot going on: there are movies within movies, stories with various story threads woven back and forth, bloody deaths, clever nods to all kinds of horror genre stuff and even a nice bit of skin. Some of the scenes are nicely done, others are harshly lit with too little set dressing and sometimes the handheld camerawork is a bit distracting. Frankly, it reminded me of some of the better stuff I've seen on the local college station, which isn't that bad: look beyond that for several roller coaster rides of horror.
Things to watch out for: Fangoria's Mike Gingold's over-the-top performance as the horror movie director. It was a bit much, but I did laugh several times which I think was the point. Also check out Syn DeVil as the stripper who meets up with a werewolf: Yowza! Kudos to director Glen Baisley and Light and Dark Productions for an entertaining horror anthology! Dr. Squid says check this one out.