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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Neon Maniacs (1986) - Joseph Mangine

This project really takes me into some weird places. I knew going into it I would find some weird stuff. It started with Slime City and Street Trash. Now I am finding stuff like this. Movies that were too low-budget to even stay on the campy cult classic radar. This movie is the epitome of campy cultishness. Just look at the over-the-top effects. They are so much, it appears to resemble a really dark episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. 

An unfortunate guy happens to find some pictures or trading cards with horrible looking mutants on them. All in various poses with murderous weapons. It's weird. These mutants all live under the Golden Gate Bridge and they happen to be causing havoc for the coastal city. Now the cops have to get involved. It goes down the crime movie path and even has a love story intertwined. 

This movie has a lot of negatives. But it gets some passes from me. Firstly, the movie is based in California. That already gains points with me. It's also extremely low-budget and has some interesting effects. Not great effects. Just interesting ones. The story leaves a lot to be desired and the acting is horrible, but it's expected. You get used to that kind of crap when you watch so many of these things. 

I don't think this movie really had a grasp on its concept. Neon Maniacs is all over the place with a very thin plot. The antagonists are shown quite a bit and it loses suspense because of it. Something just isn't very scary when you see it gleefully driving a the BART. The movie also goes on for far too long. It may only be ninety minuets but it feels like a four hour borefest. 

The music is horrible. It doesn't convey any sort of terror or fear. It is completely devoid of suspense or fright. It's bad. The main theme sounds like it was lifted from a supermarket jingle. I wouldn't worry about losing sleep over this one. In fact all of these elements kind of make the movie pointless to watch unless you are a hardcore movie watcher like myself. There are better bad movies than this one. 

Director: Joseph Mangine
Producer: Christopher Arnold and Steven D. Mackler
Writer: Mark Patrick Carducci
Starring: Leilani Sarelle and Alan Hayes
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment, Castle Hill Productions Inc. and Bedford Entertainment Inc.
Release Date: 14 November 1986
Country: USA
Did ya know: This movie was also known as Evil Dead Warriors. It tried to capitalize on the Evil Dead popularity.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Recovery (2016) - Darrell Wheat

I had seen Recovery on the Internet Movie Database and got kind of excited about watching it. It actually looked pretty interesting. The trailer was suspenseful and promising. It's hard for me to get excited for modern releases. They take tropes from other movies and beat them into the ground repeatedly. Unfortunately a large quantity of them happen to be crap. 

Apparently this is based on factual events. It follows a high-school girl that goes out clubbing with two stranger friends and her brother. She does drugs, drinks and eventually loses her phone and a friend. However, the a recovery app is installed and it shows the location of her missing phone. All she has to do is go to that location and get her phone right? 

This movie drags out badly. The plot becomes obvious within minuets and doesn't really mean much. The suspenseful nature is still there but the characters and plot are just so cheap and weak. The performances are mediocre at best. Kirby Blanton is our really generic lead. It's a shame because this movie had potential. 

The suspenseful parts of the movie are okay. They at least made watching this movie worth it. The antagonists are pretty scary. But the negatives just kill it. The cliched sepia tones and "artful" blurry stylized camera work are a distraction. The movie could have been something special but ended up being the usual over produced nonsense. Good for a single viewing but no more. 

Director: Darrell Wheat
Producer: Eric B. Fleischman
Writer: Kyle Arrington and Darrell Wheat
Starring: Kirby Bliss Blanton, Rachel DiPillo, Samuel Larsen and James Landry Hébert
Studio: Diablo Entertainment
Release Date: October 27, 2016
Country: USA
Did ya know: This is known as Seguidores Macabros in Brazil.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Retribution (1987) - Guy Magar

George decides to commit suicide on Halloween at the exact same time as a gangster named Vito. Just so happens that due to supernatural events Georges body survives and houses both himself and Vito. Slowly, Vito starts to make his way back out with murderous results. George keeps envisioning himself murdering all of these people. Much to the annoyance of his psychiatrist. 

The acting is nothing to write home about. Dennis Lipscomb does a really respectable job. The other actors are passable. It's just a shame that the editing and direction is so subpar. It doesn't stop this from being a really interesting feature though. The plot is strange but I kinda like it. This is a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story that has been enhanced for the modern age. Well, maybe enhanced is too generous of a word. This movie is absurd, campy, gory and wonderful. It's not amazing but that doesn't really matter. It's fun. It's a shame that it took Guy Magar so long to find distribution. 

The movie isn't scary. I just can't seem to be frightened with Dennis Lipscomb's weird haircut making me laugh. This also has one of the most infamous b-movie death scenes of all time. George's alter-ego murders a guy in a meat packing plant by trapping him inside of a hanging carcass. Then he runs him down a conveyor belt to a spinning saw. It's great. It also has a really eerie synth-y sountrack. It's kind of Giorgio Moroder-ish. 

Parts of this movie are so outrageous the're laughable. It reminds me of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace on Adult Swim. I recommend this movie. It has that forgotten eighties cult charm. Definitely something to dust off and play at parties. Everyone will get a kick. It should be pretty easy to find. I looked online and saw that they actually have a three disk blu-ray set. Crazy. 

Director: Guy Magar
Producer: Guy Magar
Writer: Guy Magar, Lee Wasserman
Starring: Dennis Lipscomb, Leslie Wing, Hoyt Axton and Suzanne Snyder
Studio: Overseas FilmGroup, Taurus Entertainment Company and Taurus Entertainment Company
Release Date: March 1987
Did ya know: This never had an official theatrical release. It was funded by director Guy Magar.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Wraith (1986) - Mike Marvin

The Wraith could only exist in the nineteen eighties. This is that special kind of idea that pops up when you're at least four to five rails of coke into the evening. Seriously. This is insanity. It mixes sci-fi, horror and action in no way that any other movie could do. It has car chases and aliens. It's equally as good as it is terrible. And it features some really great actors. It's a huge cult classic from the era when PG-13 movies actually had some balls. This movie is really bizarre and I couldn't wait to see it. 

A stranger with an incredible car is challenging the members of a local gang to race for something much more valuable than pinks. This pisses off the local authorities and the hot-headed leader of the gang. What they don't know is that this isn't just any stranger. This is an alien with a intergalactic Turbo Interceptor and he is out for vengeance. 

Firstly, I love the soundtrack. It has a great lineup of awesome songs from the time. Artists like Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Robert Palmer and a lot more. If you are a fan of eighties rock then I suggest at least giving the soundtrack a listen. It may not have been the best selection for a horror movie. But for an era with movies like Maximum Overdrive blazing AC/DC every five minutes, this is bliss. Plus the tunes are appropriate for the fast paced racing scenes. 

This movie hits a lot of highs for me. The mysterious driver has a really creepy vibe to him. At least the Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor that he was driving did. It was sleek, featureless and beautiful. The other cars in the movie were awesome too. Really tricked out ugly cars that tore up the television screen. Sorry, I just really like seeing these old school REAL car chases. Kudos to Buddy Joe Hooker for the amazing action sequences. 

These eighties punks were the best. The clothes were outrageous. Hollywood always knew just how to stylize these characters. The casting was actually pretty spot on. Clint Howard is really good in this feature. It's no wonder why Joe Bob Briggs claimed that The Wraith was his best picture. Also, Nick Cassavetes is a good gang leader. The acting isn't good. But it doesn't need to be. This movie exists on pure badassery alone. However, Sherilyn Fenn does have a long way to go.

I really liked The Wraith but it isn't very scary. It's more so just strange and kind of weird. But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't suggest watching it. In fact this movie would go great in a marathon with Return of the Living Dead and Jason Lives. It has a great deal of nostalgic value. For some reason it just clicks with me.

Director: Mike Marvin
Producer: John Kemeny
Writer: Mike Marvin
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes. Sherilyn Fenn and Randy Quaid
Studio: New Century Entertainment Corporation and Alliance Entertainment
Release Date: November 21, 1986
Country: United States
Did ya know: Johnny Depp, who was then dating Sherilyn Fenn, was present during filming and was living in the film crew's hotel with Fenn.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Mr. Vampire (1985) - Ricky Lau

Jiangshi is a genre of horror from Hong Kong made popular in the mid-eighties. It focuses on Vampires and Zombies based in Chinese culture. This movie was an intrical part in that popularity. Mr. Vampire, or 暫時停止呼吸, is a horror comedy that's directed by Ricky Lau and produced by Sammo Hung. It has a big emphasis on slapstick humor and creative stunt elements.

A village plans to rebury an elder. However, after the body is exhumed it's discovered that the corpse is a reanimated, blood-thirsty, hopping vampire. Three guys that work at the local mortuary are tasked to save the world and stop the small vampire outbreak. Oh, there is a succubus in there too. She is running around doing her thing.

The horror portion is actually pretty fantastic. I really like the lore here too. They have Hopping Vampires that can be constrained with wards that you past to their foreheads. The vampires can also smell you when you breath. Needless to say, its a far cry from the past incarnations. It's kind of a breath of fresh air compared to the countless Dracula remakes. There isn't really any gore. It's mostly replaced with heavy makeup and implied elements. The comedy breaks things up. For what it has. It's great. Definitely not scary. But not tame either.

I love the style of this movie. The quick witted pace and slapstick action is perfect. It's something that dredges up a great deal of nostalgia. The acting leaves a lot to be desired. But it works for the time and it works for this movie. I wouldn't change a thing. The showdown at the end with the succubus works really well. It's a really decent Kung Fu/Horror movie.

Director:  Ricky Lau
Producer: Sammo Hung
Writers: Sze-to Cheuk-hon, Barry Wong and Wong Ying
Starring: Ricky Hui, Moon Lee, Chin Siu-ho, Lam Ching-ying
Studio: Bo Ho Films Co., Ltd. and Paragon Films Ltd.
Release Date: 7 November 1985
Country: Hong Kong
Did ya know: The scene were the body was being exhumed was filmed just outside of the New Territories in Hong Kong. The background had been used in such movies as The Young Master (1980) and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) (during the end fight). Also filmed in the New Territories was the scene where the police investigate in a cave and the scene in where a body was being burned.