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As of this writing I am currently a projectionist in my local cinema.
In my spare time, I dabble in scriptwriting.
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Little Italy (2018)
A Shocking Waste Of Time
So I left it to my wife to choose our Friday night movie, looking through the listings on Netflix we stumbled upon this alleged romantic comedy within the confines of Little Italy somewhere in Canada, although if you look this movie up on IMDB the location is Toronto(my own home city) but such a location isn't actually mentioned but then again why should it when the storyline revolves around an Italian family, their culture and of course their love of pizza.
However to quote Peter Griffin from Family Guy, what really grinds my gears is when the whole scenario is totally forced, the characters are carbon copies from movies that did it with far more success, instantly Moonstruck springs to mind.
Of course, with every passing decade a new breed of filmmaker and they believe they have conjured up something special! Sadly not so in this case.
The main leads were fine, although Hayden Christensen does lay on the Italian charm a little too thick, Emma Roberts didn't really have to hard and really she didn't quite pass as Italian.
As good and sometimes excellent as Danny Aiello has been in movies gone by, I have to ask why Danny, why tarnish your reputation with such a pithy role.
However, I'd blame were needed to be bestowed, I'm not going to say Director Donald Petrie, but rather Vinay Virnani, who wrote the story for this as well as co writing the script, there are two Asian characters in the movie, who to be honest are just on screen to illicit laughs, if anything the storyline should've perhaps been a culture clash of Asian meets Italian, as perhaps this might've been a tad more watchable.
My wife enjoyed it, I found myself rather annoyed with the entire proceedings, as a life long movie fan, I implore you all, avoid at all costs, go watch Moonstruck or even Big Night just to remember how tales of love and laughter can be viewed within Little Italy
A Piece Of Irish Gold
Now I must have been around sixteen years old when I first watched this, much to my mother's surprise, I actually rented something that was guaranteed to pull at the heart strings, rather ripped said beating heart from your chest, yes I was one of those teenagers back in the 80's who was forever renting horror movies!
However from time to time I was always caught off guard by the latest trailer I had watched, and true enough Hugh Leonard's very own screen adaptation of his award winning play had caught my attention.
Back in the 80's, I was never interested in girls, was I even interested in school? Well that's another story! But a trip to the video store was always a big highlight for me, and of course being half Irish, the landscape of the movie resonated deeply with me.
Being of an age now whereby I recall my time as a boy in Ireland, and my very own relationship with my father and indeed my Irish side of the family, gathers ever more momentum as I get older.
Having just watched the movie for the first time in 30 years, for years leading up to this point I used to quote lines from the movie to my wife every so often, 'Sappy Days' There's okd Drumm coming halfway up the The path and thst all time zinger as spoken by Martin Sheen as Charlie when he sees his long deceased dog coming back as one of those memories 'Ah you're dead too Blackie, you that! Such a line even all these years later still brings a tear to my eye, and the wife knows this all to well.
If you ever visited the small towns or villages in Ireland, then you willcone to realise, that life somehow stands still, we may move with our lives, create new memories, but the memories of our past will forever haunt us, Be they the good memories or indeed the bad.
Now I would imagine, Da is somewhat autobiographical, look for Hugh Leonard as oneof the pallbearers at Da's funeral, true elements of the movie make you feel like you are watching the stage play unfold, but as the movie plays out, it doesn't matter one bit.
The performances from all the cast remain unblemished by time, the late Barnard Hughes excels in his recreation of his role from stage as Da, and as for Martin Sheen, does he ever give a bad performance? Certainly not here, watch as he embraces the past, rekindles memories both heartwarming and of course heart wrenching in one of the greatest 80's movies ever made.
Safe Haven (2013)
Sleeping With The Enema.......
So it goes like this, my wife suggested the other day that we might go see a movie of a mutual choice, currently playing in the local cinema is Mama(my kind of movie) Being a fan of Nicholas Sparks's previous adaptations, particularly The Notebook & Nights In Rodanthe, the mutual nature of choosing together went completely out the window as I thought to myself, lets do the date movie thing.
Now apart from the Nicholas Sparks reference I knew nothing about the movie, and granted I prefer to watch horror movies, whodunnits, as I have done all the live long day, I have as I've gotten older broaden my scope when it comes to big screen entertainment.
However there comes a time in a married man's life when you gotta say, whoa nellie! what on earth am I watching here.
Now if ever a movie deserved spoilers to dissuade fellow patrons from parting with their hard earned cash, then this be the movie to spill the beans with, that being said, we should all judge for ourselves and be adult about it.
When my wife put forth the movie as said date movie, I kept calling it No Safe Haven(my mind was thinking about an old Wings Hauser movie) and I nearly asked for two ticket for that movie. As the movie began to unfold, my mind drifted toward the old Patrick Bergin/Julia Roberts rib tickler Sleeping With The Enemy.
Now I said no spoilers, and I will stay true to my promise, but sleeping with the enemy is all I will say, and truthfully that's all that permeated through my mind as the movie played. About half an hour into the movie I begged my wife to set me free, but she gripped my arm with a vice like grip and made me sit with her.
Many thoughts ran through my mind, Josh Duhamel you are better than this. Lasse Halstrom do you ever remember directing My Life As A Dog, good god man you don't need the money that badly and lastly Mr Nicholas Sparks, how dare you! In recent times you have systematically resurrected the romantic drama from it's slumber but with this glossy piece of dreck you are trying to pull the wool over the cinema patron's eye.
Something told me that we were not going to be in the same territory as his previous screen adaptations, and I said as much to the wife, when I exclaimed to her 'Something tells me my love, you are not going to shed a tear at this one' but hey what do I know, I'm a guy(as the character in Say Anything said, the world is full of guys, be a man) well I'm man enough to say, this was not the movie for me, and if you check out what I've reviewed in the past, you might well agree.
That being said, you've been warned, No Safe Haven.....sorry Sleeping With The Enema is instantly forgettable. Even My wife agreed with me and that's not an easy thing for her to do.
Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)
A Bitter Disappointment
I've often thought many years after my first initial viewing of this sequel, just what was Anthony Hickox thinking when he wrote and directed this serious misfire to what was a very enjoyable and fun filled original.
Admittedly when it came to the first Waxwork, what drew my attention to the movie was the groovy looking cover, such a weakness for cool looking artwork covers still haunts me to this very day, even though I am no longer than impressionable teenager, but a man celebrating his fortieth year on this planet(how about that for ageing this review and indeed myself) Luckily the first movie was able to deliver upon the promise of the synopsis and the artwork on show. What the second installment was sadly lacking was direction, a cohesive storyline and more importantly that fun factor.
I remember when this was first announced, I was so excited, because after Waxwork, Hickox made what was arguably(for me anyway) his best movie, Sundown The Vampire In Retreat, so having watched both these movies, I felt a need to watch any movie that Hickox applied his name to.
With the first Waxwork, the story had an aim and fully formed structure, plus a great cast to see it through, alas all the name's attached to Lost In Time, we mere time fillers and what did he have them do, re-enact/rehash classic scenes from 'The Haunting' and 'Alien' et al.
I can still hear Lesley Gore singing 'It's my party' at the end credits of the original, too bad this monster mash up, that Hickox threw together couldn't find that necessary gel to make it all stick.
A bitter disappointment. 2/10
God Bless The 1980's
Yes indeed the 1980's when I was but a very impressionable teenager, it felt like my every waking hour was spent in my local videostore, and when I was in school, I was always thinking about what movie I was going to watch next.
As was the case back then, a cool looking cover was always the catalyst for me to hire the movie regardless of whether or not I enjoyed the movie.
So Ghoulies was to be my introduction to the cinematic world of a certain film producer Charles Band, and his company Empire Pictures. Having just recently revisited the world of Ghoulies, and just about to embark on my fortieth year on this earth, I have hand on heart began to realise that what I liked when I was a teenager, has not remained the case as I've gotten older.
No matter what the detractors think of Charles Band's riff on Gremlins, the movie does have more plus points than negatives. The overall acting is pretty spot on, Peter Liapis as Jonathan Graves truly devours his part as Jonathan Graves, heir apparent to the supernatural throne left to him by his late demented father Malcolm, Michael Des Barres.
Des Barres has never been an actor that I've been to keen on, maybe it's his accent that I find somewhat off putting, but then again if you've ever watched him in Diary Of A Sex Addict, the title pretty much summed that movie up, but let us not forget his turn in Nightflyers.
You know when your a teenager, and you just watch copious amounts of nonsense, you tens to forget what you've watched and just who was in it, back in 85, I had no idea who Jack Nance was, but then I still hadn't watched Eraserhead, but Nance participation was a bit of a shock to me, I did find myself doing a double take when I spotted him hiding behind that fake beard, but you never forget that crazy eyed stare.
But what about the movie itself. Like I've mentioned previously, viewing the movie as an adult, you still sensed the atmosphere, those pesky Ghoulies, still look as cheap and cheerful and not quite scary as ever, but Luca Bercovici does capture some pretty good stuff on camera.
Of particular mention was the scene when Malcolm rises from his grave, quite striking and very well lit.
Ghoulies was my first introduction to Charles Band, but it wasn't until I watched Trancers, that my interest in Band's output truly took hold of my teenage years, and throughout the next two decades.
Ghoulies 2 was a smart little follow up three years later, ignore the next two sequels, as really you can't hold a candle to the original.
My rating is 6/10
Melvin: Son of Alvin (1984)
What's The Definition Of Foreplay?
First there was Alvin Purple, then came Alvin Rides Again, just when you thought you'd never catch sight of the purple headed monster again, along comes Melvin Son Of Alvin or as I fondly remember it known as Foreplay.
I have to say that if it wasn't for Mark Hartley superb Not Quite Hollywood, his documentary on Ozploitation movies, I would never have realised that before Melvin there came Alvin Purple, but then again when I first saw Foreplay I was fourteen years old, and as such my hormones were just peaking, and any movie that had a whiff of T & A about it I had to watch it, granted such movies like this were released in the 1980's before the BBFC took control of the home video market and exercised their right to ruin your entertainment behind closed doors.
Released here in the U.K by that late great home video distributor Medusa Home Video, the movie's plot was very slight, Melvin discovers that he too has that same sexual charisma that his father had before him, and every woman that he comes into contact with just has to have a piece of him.
Of course all Alvin wants it to share his love with one woman, namely Gloria.
Gerry Sont, whom I can only remember from Home & Away exudes a certain charisma and breezes throughout the movie with effortless ease. Like I said the storyline is paper thin, as this is considered part of the Ozploitation package of movies that Australia churned out back in eighties.
The movie does contain one of the catchiest themes tunes ever, 'Melvin the son of Alvin, which seems to permeate throughout the movie, I did wonder back then, did the movies budget only allow for one song, that aside the movie delivers upon the promise of it's titillating artwork cover.
What the definition of Foreplay? Brace yourself for some naughty antipodean antics and enjoy this now ultra rare slice of saucy sexiness.
My rating is 6/10
Dangerous Game (1988)
Get Ready To Experience Some Horror In Your Life!.....
Back in the 1980's when you wanted to watch a cheap and cheesy little B movie, the only label that really delivered the goods on the home video front was the late great home video company Medusa Home Video(anyone in the U.K who might happen to read this review will instantly recognise the name) Medusa Home Video thrived on releasing some really good and seriously off the wall movies that would never ever see the light of day.
If it's was Italian action movies(Warbus & Blastfighter spring quickly to mind) then it was sterling efforts emerging from down under, some might not have been very good, but you can never fault the overall commitment when it came to movies like Kadaicha, Out Of The Body.
It is true what they say, for every miss-fire, you will inevitably discover a little gem, and as such Dangerous Game certainly delivered the goods.
At the time I wasn't familiar with the name of Stephen Hopkins(then again who was) but after this movie Mr Hopkins received the call from America and made a few decent genre movies(Judgment Night, Nightmare 5 & Predator 2) but with his directorial debut, Hopkins much like Russell Mulcahy displayed with Razorback, that even if you had next to nothing in the way of a budget, you could more than make up for in the way of style.
That is not to say that the film had many flaws attached to it, Yes its true that the movies plot revolving around five teens being terrorised by a maniacal cop is in any way original, but it does help if you have the actor Stephen Grives playing the crazy arm of the law, who through every scene we get to watch and feel the emotional breakdown of this troubled law enforcement officer.
It's been many many years since I last watched this movie, but it takes a certain something about a movie for me never to forget about it, Sundown - The Vampire In Retreat is one such movie as is Steve De Jarnatt's killer thriller Miracle Mile.
What is that one thing you might ask? Well it takes a few things, a decent concept, some really good dialogue and as always some barnstorming acting. With every thriller you have to have a really good villain, and not since Inseminoid has Stephen Grives had the chance to exercise his acting chops but equipped with some exceptional dialogue, his freak out speech when he toys with Marcus Graham's character Jack and that of Kathryn when he realises that they have never seen a dead body before just rocks! When I had the movie in my collection, I always had to rewind that one scene just to hear every line of dialogue.
What of the rest of the cast, yes it's true that Grives is the star of the show as the Irish cop working down under, but the young cast more than hold their respective own, Miles Buchanan(Bliss) as the computer nerd who holds a serious torch for Ziggy(Sandy Lillingston) and Marcus Graham who for the majority of the movie is the main aim of psycho cop Murphy psychotic attentions.
Whilst not a very bloody movie, it does deliver, the Medusa Home Video cover was always the coolest and whilst this movie has all but fell beneath the radar, if you can find it, check it out and get ready to experience antipodean horror in your life.
Ps, the ending promised a sequel, thankfully such a thing never materialised.
A Dangerous but very true 10 out of 10 for this lost little Australian gem
Still Lingers In The Memory!..........
As of this writing I've finally managed to bag myself the unrated director's cut of Scott Speigel seriously classy directorial debut Intruder(aka Night Crew) this release comes courtesy of Charles Band's Wizard Entertainment label, Prior to Intruder, Scott Spiegel name for me was only ever recognisable from his screen credit for co-writing my all time favourite Evil Dead movie, Part 2 - Dead By Dawn. With Intruder, Speigel created a very groovy suspenseful little thriller.
Essaying his soon to be recognised trademarks goofy camera angles(the camera in the shopping trolley) and writing some really good dialogue, Spiegel created for me personally a seriously cool little slasher classic.
All the actors excel, especially Dan Hicks(watch the movie to discover why) although the trailer I watched gave too much away with regards to the actual outcome of the movie, heck even the back of the Wizard release even shows the killer's identity, that being said, this movie hits all the right notes, such a transgression is oh so minor.
Then again I've watched this movie so many times down through the years, just to watch the movie build crank up the tension is always a joy to behold, and yes it's always nice to see the KNB effects team special effects fully uncut in this movie.
Although not really a horror movie, but after two decades this movie still lingers in the memory for all the right reasons.
A resounding 10/10
Fear Island (2009)
In The Name Of Fear!.......
For anyone out there who can remember and recall with fondness the many exhilarating tales written by Enid Blyton about the famous five and their many exploits, such was my thinking when I sat down to watch this movie.
My immediate thought was of course imagine if Enid had concocted The Famous Five Go Mad On Fear Island. alas such is not the case, but such is that feeling of familiarity that it never left me throughout this film's entire running time.
The main headliner in the cast is of course Hayley Duff, and she acquits herself admirably throughout, although I did find myself extremely distracted by her dimpled chin! As for the rest of the cast they also carry themselves through the story with aplomb, decent acting is hard to find in movies of this nature.
However that being said, my main concern was the film's narrative structure that really let itself down, I'm all for flashback in small doses, but dear lord, just when you find yourself settling into the story we get another flashback! I've never been one for spoilers, and you won't get any here, but if you find yourself watching this movie and your able to get to the ending, don't be surprised if you shake your head in disbelief and wonder why in hell the scriptwriter decided on a very familiar twist.
In the name of fear!.....In the name of God!.....If you feel anyway inclined to watch a decent little whodunnit, skip this one and check out James Mangold's Identity, at least that movie can tell a decent story and definitely deliver a killer twist.
This movie get 1 out of 10 and that's just for Hayley's dimpled chin.
Jason Versus Carrie
I realise that the original Friday the 13th set the benchmark for all subsequent sequels and any other teen orientated horror movie made during the eighties and beyond, and in truth it was a decent little chiller, especially that ending! However for me, Friday The 13th - The New Blood has always been my personal favourite of all the Friday movies made. Two reasons for that were the presence of director John Carl Buechler calling the shots and scriptwriter Daryl Haney credited as co-scripter.
I've always loved my B movies, and these two masters of their respective craft have been attached to some of my favourites down through the years, Buechler's Cellar Dwellar is still one of my favourite Empire movies, and as for Haney, he hit the nadir of his career when he worked for both Harry Bromley Davenport & Axis Films International.
Now as for Part 7 - The New Blood, how do you resurrect everyone's favourite bogeyman when he's been anchored deep beneath the murky waters of crystal lake, why not introduce a girl called Tina, who many years earlier consigned her errant father to a watery grave via her ability for telekinesis.
Then of course when she feels that she needs comforting she accidentally brings back everyone's favourite bad guy, who naturally picks up where he left off, slicing and dicing.
Lar Park Lincoln excels in the role of the adult Tina, emoting very well the stresses and strains of being a teenager with an unusual talent, but the Oscar for the best bad guy on screen, aside from Jason that is must surely go to Terry Kiser as Tina's snake in the grass svengali Doctor Crews.
Although many people expect a film like Friday the 13th and it's respective sequels to have bum acting and less than sterling scripts, but that is certainly not so, as Friday The 13th Part 4 - The Final Chapter & Buechler's seventh entry in the series will attest to.
Why even Kane Hodder brings his usual panache to the role he made his own.
As sequels go, this one get's my full attention every time, 10/10
Eric Weston Take A Bow!..........
For creating a movie so Godawful that it truly defies description! I first discovered this movie's title when I was browsing through John Carl Beuchler's list of credits here on IMDb, naturally seeing such a title listed captured my imagination and why wouldn't it.
Now I did harbour ideas of purchasing the movie, based upon Buechler's participation and of course that of Eric Weston as director, although it had been many a year since I had last sat down to watch Evilspeak, favourable memories of that movie still lingered in my mind! Trying to find a release date or even a website that was selling the movie proved impossible, but luckily for me(however dread was to follow) here in the U.K. we have the horror channel, who from time to time do show the odd decent little horror movie, so without hesitation I sat down to watch it.
From the opening beats of the movie, my initial thoughts of yeah turned quickly to Holy crap! You would think that the presence of headline star Costas Mandylor would at least elevate the movie, but having witnessed Mandylor sacrifice his dignity in the movie Dr Chopper I should have known better, if it wasn't for the Saw franchise the man wouldn't have a career! As for Eric Weston, what happened in the intervening years between Evilspeak and Hyenas? did he forget how to be creative? In this instance the artwork for the movie offers more than the actual movie delivers! 1/10
Lipstick, Powder And Paint!
When Empire Pictures folded back in the late 1980's Company founder Charles Band has often cited that the reason for his beloved company's demise was the many acquisitions that his company made.
One such pick up was this cheap and cheesy supernatural horror movie written and directed by Bruce Hickey, who as far as I can gather has never been tempted back to have another stab within the horror genre, of course for any of you out there who have actually sat through this movie, perhaps one bite of the cherry for Mr Hickey was more than enough for anyone to stomach.
However if you look beyond Bruce Hickey's initial involvement, the main point of interest for me was the man who produced the movie, that man of course being the legend that is Tim Kincaid, who was taking a career break from making gay porn to lend his name to this a few other choice Empire releases, remember such gems as Mutant Hunt & my own personal guilty pleasure Breeders.
The main star of this movie was LeeAnne Baker, who by all accounts was a personal favourite of Kincaid's as she turned up in nearly all of his low budget legitimate movies, whilst not overly endowed both in body and acting talent she did have that something special about her, and luckily given the lead role as Eva, the reincarnated witch, she goes about stealing virginity's all over the place.
A major highlight of the movie is when Baker's character suddenly develops multiple boobs and her minions of the night start to suckle upon her lady lumps, a seriously demented delight indeed.
The storyline doesn't hold much water, the sheer goofiness of it all makes it all quite endearing and the major attraction is of course LeeAnne wearing all her Lipstick, Powder & Paint, parading around the Goth chic you shouldn't cross for fear of your losing your mortal soul and virginity.
Charles Band's Empire may have vanished, but these pick up flicks that he chose to release straight to video are what made my teenage viewing all the more memorable.
A boobtastic 7/10
This House Is Priceless!!................
Every genre fan worth their collective salt should always make time to check out this cheeky little off the wall supernatural black comedy.
Back in 1986 when this movie glided onto home video I was just gathering my love for all things off the wall when it came to genre movies, of course back then my main preoccupation was any movie associated with Charles Band and his glory days at Empire Pictures.
That being said, every so often a certain trailer would come to my attention that would more often than not strongly suggest that I should really check that movie out.
So without hesitation, I devoured the movie, from certain pieces of dialogue, some seriously well staged set pieces and a really good soundtrack.
A few years later when the movie surfaced on DVD, I needed no invitation to purchase, once again if you harbour any anorak ambitions, listening to how they came up with the story and how the movie got made is always worth a serious listen.
Reminising just recently after my latest viewing, the movie has lost none of its charm, William Katt looked like he was having fun, I had only ever seen him in one movie previous, remember Disney's Baby Secret Of The Lost Legend? Would he rather forget that one and cling to the memories of House.
Or how about Kay Lenz, she who has the most amazing jaw line, should they ever consider a revamp of Doc Savage look no further, Ms Lenz's career highlight for me was the very excellent 'Stripped To Kill' which had hot dancers, a killer soundtrack and a pretty decent storyline.
George Wandt as Harold Gorton I could take or leave, his acting style has never really amounted to much for me, as for behind the camera, Steve Miner was already a seasoned professional when it came to this style of movie-making and as his mentor Sean S. Cunningham was their as his guiding light how could he fail.
Of course the greatest aspect for me was the script, complete with a story by Fred Dekker, who really should try for a comeback, and a script by Gremlin puppeteer Etahn Wiley, Mr Wiley's career truly has been all over the place.
No matter how many sequels that came to pass, you really can't deny that this first excursion into household terror really was the best, in fact it was priceless!....
The Party Animal (1984)
Pleasures Don't Come As Guilty As This Classic Sex Crazed Comedy!
Of all the horny as all get out comedies that I remember watching back in the 1980's, Revenge Of The Nerds, Screwballs, and of course the Porky's trilogy, The Party Animal has always remained a constant source of reverie in my mind.
Having just watched the Region 1 release, after not viewing the movie in more than twenty years, It never comes as a shock to me that once the first few frames pass by how the memories just come flooding back of just why I liked this movie.
First and foremost was the soundtrack, The Fleshtones & especially The Buzzcocks, another movie released somewhere around the same time Splitz also had a killer soundtrack, plus it also contained that killer element of copious amount of female flesh wildly on show.
To that end, and as I was your atypical teenager just discovering the joys of these teen sex comedies, the T & A aspect of The Party Animal was for me the major selling point and I must confess, those elements still hold up to this day.
Considering what kind of movie this is, you wouldn't expect the acting to be up to much, but once again the vast majority of the actors acquit themselves admirably, Matthew Causey shines in the role of Pondo Sinatra, who as we all know would sell his soul for a piece ass! It's really is amazing that Causey refuses to acknowledge this movie, his career hasn't really taken flight, and I for one would love to be associated with a movie that has attained major cult status, but I'm sure Causey has his reasons.
The only real star to emerge from the movie was Tim Carhart, although he has one of those faces, I can only remember him from Thelma & Louise, I often wonder if he would ever shy away from talking about this cool little comedy.
Although the movie does have a fractured narrative, which in truth actually helps propel the movie forward, the movie itself is still a great little slice of eighties sleaze and tease and with such pleasures they don't come as guilty as this classic sex crazed comedy.
This movie gets a Viagra free 10/10
Spontaneous Combustion (1990)
Check It Out
The first and last time I saw this Tobe Hooper movie was back in 1990, I was nineteen years old, the strangest thing about it was that at that time I was totally gripped by it, but also at the same time I couldn't forget about it.
The sole reason at that time was the participation of Brad Dourif in the main role of Samson/David Bell, the man with a curse on his very soul! Just recently I managed to pick up the Anchor Bay Region 1 double header release which aside from Spontaneous Combustion, also included the seriously excellent Society.
Having just watched SC again, the movie despite some real shoddy effects moments, really has held up well after all these years, as previously mentioned, Dourif holds the movie together despite his performance taking flight on many occasions.
I have to say though that two other performances really stood out for me, one being the criminally underused Brian Bremer as Samson's father, you know I still remember Brian as Bunt in Stan Winston's excellent Pumpkinhead' from that performance to his turn here, he has always been an actor to remember.
The other was Cynthia Bain as Samson's potential love interest, I cant for the life of me remember her character's name, of course both her and Bremer were both in Pumpkinhead, both shared some serious screen time in that movie and it's two bad they didn't here.
Hooper might be considered as a master of horror, and despite having watched nearly all his horror offerings, I can honestly say that aside from SC and The Funhouse, nearly everything else has been more miss than hit, oh the scars that I still carry from sitting through The Mangler.
But enough about the bad and remember this decent little flourish that Hooper concocted from his own story, with some decent set pieces and a brisk pace, Spontaneous Combustion certainly set my cinematic world on fire some twenty plus years ago and to this day I recall with fondness.
Check it out - 9/10
Captain America (1990)
You know when you really want to like a movie, even after all the bad press and all the negative reviews that gather muster when a movie is really really bad! Well regardless of all that was said and done, I was adamant that I was going to check out the Menachem Golan produced and Albert Pyun directed big screen version of Marvel's first avenger Captain America.
Now I knew going into the movie that Albert Pyun's track record in making decent movies was few and far between and sure enough was in the words of Ronny Cox's who played the president in the movie, it's all bad medicine! Granted the major highlight for me was the villain The Red Skull, essayed in the movie by Scott Paulin, a longtime favourite of Pyun's if you ever check out Paulin's filmography, curiously Paulin also doubles up as an army doctor near the beginning of the movie.
As for the Matt Salinger playing Steve Rogers/Captain America, he tried, but wearing that goofy looking suit and spouting Stephen Tolkin's rigid dialogue, made his task nigh on impossible.
There is so much wrong with the movie, one such problem was the suggestion that the Red Skull was to the forefront of all the major assassinations throughout history, and the other was the environmental message running throughout the movie, I don't want to preached to whilst watching a superhero movie, I just want to enjoy the marvel of it all.
Is it a good thing that this movie is seriously hard to find, perhaps! and I must say that whilst watching the movie it reminded of Superman 4 - The Quest For Peace, and what that was trying to do, try less to entertain and strive more for force feeding us the viewer an environmental message.
You do have to wonder if this movie was made to keep the copyright alive, much like the Roger Corman produced Fantastic Four movie, which was also somewhat on the dreadful side.
All in all, this version will be consigned to the vaults of history and by doing so we will all feel very thankful.
My rating is 2/10, why 2? because it's Captain America, plus Albert Pyun directed the movie. With Pyun, you will never know what to expect, for every Sword And The Sorceror, we get Crazy Six!
Some might say that living in the past is not a good thing! But when I think about the movies that I remember fondly from my formative teenage years the Richard Wenk written/directed Vamp has remained a firm cult favourite of mine ever since then.
Just recently I thought I would dust off my Anchor Bay release and give a welcome return to old familiar territory after watching many a dud of late, and truth to tell the movie has not lost any of it's style and wit after all the years.
Granted the presence of Grace Jones is the main selling point of the movie, and from the original poster release, video release and the Anchor Bay release, her face is plastered all over them, I've never been a fan of the woman, I've never found attractive and her music has no appeal whatsoever.
For me the main stars of the movie are the protagonists of Keith & A.J. ably assisted by Duncan as they go on a nocturnal search for the perfect stripper, why you might ask? To gain access to their chosen frat house, they offer to garner the services of said stripper to entertain the frat boys and make it easier for them to gain admittance to the frat house of their choice.
Sounds like a simple task Right? If only! As our three heroes discover to their cost as their journey into hell more or less begins when they have a run in with Billy Drago and his cohorts, from there they head straight into the After Dark Club, and then the real horror begins.
Any horror fan worth their salt knows the story, so I wont tread over familiar ground but needless to say Messrs Makepeace(who looks like a young Mel Gibson) & Robert Rusler make a great double team, I could take or leave the Dedee Pfeiffer character and the presence of the late great Sandy Baron as the After Dark Club emcee really gives the movie a certain edge.
A truly great vampire movie, that has in abundance a great visual style, a seriously good soundtrack, the first song played in the After Dark Club when Candy(Sweet Sweet Candy) is dancing is still my favourite, plus Gedde Watanabe's line to the waitress when he asks her what time do she get off is still a classic.
Once bitten forever smitten that's how I feel about this 80's entry in the vampire genre.
My rating is an immortal 10/10
Alien from L.A. (1988)
When Alice Met Indy And Fell Down The Rabbit Hole And Through The Looking Glass!
Love him or loathe him, director Albert Pyun will always manage to divide his critics with his movies. My initial initiation with Pyun's vision was Radioactive Dreams, it had a quirky charm, two decent actors in the leads and a really good soundtrack courtesy of Sue Saad and Drock.
Back in my teenage years, my movie tastes were mainly geared toward horror movies and anything remotely B movie orientated, and it just so happened that Albert Pyun was making such movies primarily for one of my favourite film companies Cannon Films. Inc.
One such B movie, made for very little, if Cannon didn't want to spend too much, Albert Pyun was always on hand to squeeze every ounce of the budget he was afforded, and one such movie that he lent his talents toward was Alien From L.A.
How would you describe Alien In L.A? back when I first watched the movie I was only seventeen, and all I knew was two things, it was a Cannon production and more importantly it was a film by Albert Pyun, having watched the movie for the first time in twenty-three years, and grown a few decades older, I viewed the movie and garnered a few thought about it.
Well its a fairytale, as the once upon a time in the opening proclaims, we then catch sight of Wanda as she is being dumped by her boyfriend for being dull and annoying, that last remark is in part due to her voice, which is ever so slightly highly pitched, oh and she is also lacking in ambition and adventure.
So cue a letter relating to her supposed late father, informing her that she must come to Africa in relation to her father's disappearance, so in a blink of an eye we are treated to a myriad of visuals, some severe lapses in storytelling.
Granted the movie utilises Jules Verne's much told Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, but it also adds a dash of Indiana Jones and King Solomons Mines, plus and I mustn't forget the fairytale take on Alice In Wonderland, especially as Wanda(cutely played by Kathy Ireland) in pursuit of answers about her father falls down the rabbit hole and straight through the looking glass and wakes up in the fabled underground city of Atlantis.
It all sounds pretty cool, and truth to tell, one look at the cover and reading the synopsis back in 1988, I was hooked! Although to be honest the main draw was the director, and having just viewed the movie prior to drawing upon my thoughts, it is still a visual treat on the eyes, and the storyline is clearly visible, but the execution is truly all over the place.
Another painful aspect is the accents of some of the characters, especially William R. Moses, an underground opportunist, when he first spoke I thought to myself, is he Australian? is his mouth full of apple's and pears and was he in fact trying his hand at a cockney accent, but then he sounded like Vincent Klyn's Fender character from Pyun seriously cool Jean Claude Van-Damme futuristic actioner Cyborg.
In the end I just gave up trying to decipher was he was trying to do, but then nearly all the featured players were also affecting faux-pas east London accents, I guess what made it really annoying was the fact that the actors portraying these roles were all South African actors and you could really tell, if you've ever watched any South African based, American set movie, you'll always tell by the accents.
For all the bad things to be found within the movie, there are some good, and these good points lean toward the presence of Kathy Ireland, Deep Roy and longtime favourite of Pyun's Thom Matthews as Wanda's Prince Charming, which leads to the obvious happy ending.
I've always believed that when Albert Pyun worked under the control of Golan/Globus, that yes they saw that he had potential, but did they harness that potential properly, by cutting the budget's and working to a tight schedule, certain things had to take a back seat, and in this case it was the story structure.
Such things are still present with every movie Pyun has made, from his Cannon days straight through to his Filmwerks output, great ideas but severely lacking in a cohesive execution.
The upshot of all this? check through Pyun's back catalogue and track down his better efforts, the already mentioned Cyborg and that other classic actioner Nemesis.
My generous rating is 3/10 and that's for the presence of Pyun, Ireland and Cannon Films. Inc
This Movie Gets An 8/10 Why?
Within the world of Adult Cinema, writer and director Tim Kincaid will always be revered, having no inclination to track down any of that kind of cinema, my interest in Mr Kincaid work has always been rooted within his frenzy of activity working within the confines of low budget exploitation horror and science fiction movies.
My first run in with the man's work was the delightfully trashy Bad Girls Dormitory, which followed the formula for all those films within the genre, remember the likes of 'Concrete Jungle' & 'Chained Heat' the list is endless.
Bad Girls Dormitory was to be the movie that introduced Tim Kincaid to the legendary film producer and sometime director Charles Band, and upon Band viewing the movie, Kincaid was offered a multi picture deal to churn out some straight to video quickies.
Such titles Kincaid found himself involved in, whilst not exactly award winners, have garnered some serious cult status down through the years, and although I haven't watched all of them, a lack of proper distribution back in the day was partly to blame, plus these days some of his B movies just haven't been released to DVD.
One such title that has managed to survive is 'Breeders' when I first watched this film back in my teenage years, my only reason for checking it out was the movie's association with Charles Band, as to who Tim Kincaid was never fully dawned on me.
As many armchair critics have observed, all aspects of the movie are truly cheesy, the acting is most certainly off the wall, but what it does have going for it, is copious amounts of nudity, the mere sight of Amy Brentano doing nude aerobics is quite a sight to behold, as to why she felt the need to strip to nothing to perform such an act beggars belief, but such thoughts quickly disappear.
The other highlight was the special effects make-up courtesy of Ed French, who appears in the movie, the effects for what they are are suitably gross and goofy at the same time.
As to whether or not the storyline bares much scrutiny in terms of logic and sense please remember this is a B movie, with sensibilities as such, and it it my theory that Tim Kincaid had his actors as act accordingly.
Let's remember, Tim Kincaid is renowned within the circles of Gay cinema, he likes his actors to look a certain way and act a certain way, so it's not folly to think that every step of this movie has not been thought out seriously, yes it was designed as a quickie for the straight to video market and no matter what people think of this movie or the entire works of Tim Kincaid back catalogue of B movie output, he certainly knew what was required and how to entertain the masses.
This movie gets an 8/10, why? because it has a certain charm attached to it
I, Madman (1989)
Is It Fact Or Fiction!
Well back in the day when I was an impressionable teenager, I couldn't even tell the difference between such things as fact or fiction. That being said I always knew a pretty decent horror movie when I saw one.
This little gem first caught my attention when I caught the trailer prior to it's initial release, and much like many a movie with a decent trailer I just knew that I had to see it.
The trailer I saw courtesy of Entertainment in Video announced the title as 'Hardcover' Of course I never realised that the movie was actually called 'I Madman' which was the better title, and which currently graces my MGM retail release which is sitting right by my side as I write these very words.
The 1980's were a good time for horror movies, and they were also a good time for me when it came time for me discovering the many gems that sprawled themselves across the videostore shelves, I still remember hiring the likes of 'Pumpkinhead' 'Killer Klowns From Outer Space' 'Retribution'.
As with most movies that I liked and revered down through the years there have been some that haven't quite stood the test of time, 'Society' springs to mind, that being said, certain elements of 'I Madman' have always remained within my memory.
Having just watched the movie prior to writing these words, it struck me just how visually stunning the movie was and more importantly just how good the script written by David Chaskin was.
Filled with many a wonderful set piece, director Tibor Takacs really knew what to do with the camera, and aided superbly by the acting talent he had to work with, Jenny Wright as Virginia the bookstore clerk who begins to find herself immersed within the hideous world of the mad scribe Malcolm Brand, always had a very distinct acting style, very distant but always alluring, a prime example of this was her star turn in Eric Red's ultra cool 'Near Dark'.
Also on hand and acquitting himself admirably was Clayton Rohner, (who I'll always remember from Nigel Dick's 'P.I. Private Investigation')as Virginia's detective boyfriend, who can't quite bring himself to believe anything that Virginia's tells him, as he attributes her flights of fancy to her taste in reading material written by the villain of the piece Malcolm Brand.
If truth be told one of the best performances in the movie comes from Murray Rubin as Brand's publisher Sidney Zeit, the way he talks, his mannerisms and the interior of his office just encapsulate that closed in world of the low rent publisher.
Kudos also must go to Randall William Cook, who not only does he appear as the titular on screen villain, but he also doubled as the special effects creator, truly rocks as the lovesick Brand, who'd do just about anything for the love of his life(and if you haven't seen the movie, just wait and see and wait for your jaw to drop when you see what he's done to his facial features).
Director Takacs might not have directed anything of note in the last decade of so, but this movie along with the original 'The Gate' stand as a testament to his directing talents and as for scriptwriter David Chaskin, yes he might have been lambasted for his scripting of 'Nightmare On Elm Street 2' but through this movie he truly showed that he really had an ear for good dialogue and attention to detail when it came to setting a good gore laden set piece.
It really is too bad that the MGM release doesn't have a director's commentary attached to it, as it would have been nice to hear how the movie was financed and put together.
This movie would make a good companion piece with John Carpenter's 'In The Mouth Of Madness' and as a stand alone feature, this horror movie really delivers upon the promise of it's trailer and it's artwork cover, plus it's a true testament to it's abilities to chill and entertain twenty plus years later.
Loose yourself in this great little horror curio tonight, you'll be awful glad you did! Without hesitation, 10/10
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (2010)
What Just Happened?
Oh for the glory days to return! Alas notions of such high calibre and more importantly high concept ideas forever emerging from within out with the doors of full moon seem but a distant memory.
The gradual decay with their output over the last few years has been seriously evident with the likes of Gingerdead Man and such like. Ofocurse many with disagree, but as I have been a slave to the Ryhthm of the works of Charles Band, I believe I have seen the best of what the legendary man has produced and it's safe to say that Puppetmaster - Axis Of Evil most certainly is not high calibre nor is it a startling concept.
Longtime cohort David Decouteau has never been one to be adventurous when calling the shots as a director, just look at his Rapid Heart movies, just get the camera in focus and let the pretty things do their thing, and once again he shows a distinct lack of flair, but that being said, we do get a few visual set pieces, but these are primarily establishing shots.
As for the acting, aside from the main players, Levi Fiehler essaying the role of Danny Coogan our on screen protagonist and his on screen love interest Beth, played by the very fetching Jenna Gallacher, the minor parts afforded screen time do not acquit themselves with any glory, the presence of Ada Chao as Ozu really is a curious one, now as to whether or not the actress in question could actually speak English doesn't bother me one bit, however the delivery of her lines and facial movements really made me question her actual acting ability.
Of course the major crime committed on screen, or should that be off screen, was the lack of necessary puppets, if you take away the opening prologue, which was comprised of both new and old footage, which I'll be honest did click together really quite well, but I won't get too carried away with anymore plaudits, because none exist.
As for that ending, I don't really feel like I want another helping of the same old thing, if you get to the ending and feel like I did, What just happened. If the rumour's are to be believed, and Full Moon will now be shifting their brand of band over to China, and as cheaply as these movies can be made, should we be shocked if Charles Band delivers another Puppetmaster movie, I will not be surprised, maybe he should take them into outer space, it worked for Leprechaun.
Let's hear it for Puppetmaster in the Year 3000, then again let's not.
A major dud, without hesitation - 1/10
A Super Cool Action Movie!
Prior to this movie's release back in the day, I can still vividly recall the trailer showing up in the mix of many a television advert, and truth to tell, every time I watched the trailer, I just needed to see this film.
As many films of this kind, the theatrical release was severely short lived, that being said, when this movie made it's bow on video, I practically sprinted to my local video store to hire it, now back in 1989 I had just turned eighteen, and I had just developed a fixation for any movie that had anything remotely involving kick boxing or martial arts of any description.
As the years have passed, such a fixation has since passed, but my enjoyment for this movie has never waned, it was at that time my first experience of a JCVD movie as well as movie being directed by the much maligned Albert Pyun.
Having practically watched everything that Messrs Van Damme & Pyun have made throughout their careers since, for me personally, this movie is the pinnacle of both their collective talents, granted Van Damme was just starting out, the only worthwhile film I seen him in since was the very cool 'Wake Of Death' and as for Albert Pyun, his career has really been more hit than miss, and going by his IMDb web page, littered with just a little too much controversy.
That aside, collectively, the whole show on display here rocks, granted the whole premise revolves around redemption and revenge in equal measure, Van Damme's lack of understanding in the English department, Pyun's visual eye more than compensates, plus he really does choreograph a good fight scene.
I read somewhere many years ago, that if Pyun had got his way, his vision of Cyborg would have been that of a black and white rock opera, now as he was at that time under the wing of Messrs Golan & Globus at Cannon Pictures, such a thing was never going to happen, especially as they were experiencing money problems, so a huge sigh of relief for all concerned.
As the years have rolled by, this movie hasn't aged one little bit, and any time I find it lurking in the television schedules, I always recall that first time I watched the trailer, the excitement, the hope that this was going to be something more than just another action movie....
Simply put, back then and to this day, this is a super cool action movie, plus Vince Klyn for all his over the top antics makes one helluva screen villain.
Simply The Best!
In all my years of movie watching, there are not many movies out there that I can honestly say, really entertained me as much as this movie, granted when I first watched Bliss, I was fourteen years old.
Some might think, that at that age, such a movie would be out with the emotional grasp of person that age, these days I would say exactly just the same thing, however, even back then I always found myself watching more independently made movies than big blockbusters, such is still the case to this day.
Ask me why I like this movie, all I can say is this, it contains a certain dark charm that even now I still find seriously overwhelming. Having never read the book written by Peter Carey, the big screen adaptation was was littered with some great acting performances, the main plus point being Barry Otto excelling as Harry Joy, the man who believes he has it all, until that day he happens to die.
As to how faithful the movie is to the book, I cannot say, but various scenes that follow, truly walk a perverse line, Harry's son's sexual feelings toward his sister being one of many disturbing plot strands.
As to how you would categorise this movie, some might say it's a horror movie, some might say that it's a romantic movie, the underlying theme suggests horrific themes, lack of faith, adultery(Harry's wife cheating on Harry behind his back, with his business partner)but the overwhelming aspect is that of Romance, as Harry retells the tale of the longest love story ever told to a young lady, of how he first met the woman who changed his life, the one and only Honey Barbara.
Filled with many scenes of surreal imagery, I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves firstly Australian cinema, this movie along with Philipe Mora's Death Of A Soldier rank as to of the best examples of Australian cinema and also to those who love unconventional storytelling.
Because this movie is simply the best! Without Hesitation this movie gets 10/10
The Entity (1982)
The Chill Factor
Would I be correct in assuming that 'The Entity' is a horror movie? the central aspect's certainly make me believe so, a thirty something mother of three suddenly and without any explanation finds her at the mercy of an unseen force.
I have to say that every time I watch this movie I find myself transported back to the 1980's as this was the decade that I found myself movies of this nature.
The director of the movie Sydney J.Furie at first glance doesn't exactly scream out to me to suggest that the horror genre was truly his forte, but that being said, the set pieces that involve Barbara Hershey's character of Carla Moran, still contain the chill factor.
Prior to posting my thoughts here, I had just watched the movie after a lapse of many years, the one scene that always remains in my mind is when one of Carla's and her children are gathered around a cake, Carla's goes to fetch a chair and she say's 'Don't Start Without Me' is still a really shocking scene, considering that her young daughters plus her teenage son found themselves helpless whilst on the same room.
I've never read the book, although every time I visualise the poster, I find myself wanting to, as to how much of Frank D. Felita's story is true, will we ever know? Who knows! What I do know, that as a stand alone movie, it delivers what it promotes from the poster, and although the ending does seem a little rushed, the special effects employed throughout, plus the participation of Hershey as the main star and Sidney J. Furie guiding her every movie behind the camera should feel very happy with the end result......
A horror movie that delivers what the audience expects.
My rating for this movie is 7/10
The Best Of Empire Pictures Vol 5
The old dark house received a serious make over when Empire Picutres produced this classy little Stuart Gordon directed chiller, and scripted by the ever reliable Ed Naha.
Whilst travelling in Europe the Bower family, which includes father David, wicked stepmother Rosemary and the oh so cute Judy. Somewhere along the way their car gets stuck and they find themselves stranded out in the middle of nowhere, that is until the lightning splits the sky to reveal what they believe to sanctuary in the guise of an old dark house, which just happens to be home sweet home to Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke..
Of course this being an Empire Pictures/Stuart Gordon movie we all know all will not go to plan. Back in the eighties this movie along with numerous other Empire productions dating back to 'Trancers' had become a staple of my viewing delights.
Every aspect of this movie had me in complete rapture, from the atmosphere that pervaded the movie, to the acting of all the principles, the pretty slick scripting, plus the fact that the movie was directed by Stuart Gordon.
Although once again the movie was low budget, every attention to detail was there on screen, of course I never knew at the time that this movie shared the same sets as another Empire/Gordon movie, 'From Beyond' but having watched both over many many years, plus having listened to the audio commentary on 'From Beyond' all was revealed.
I've often wondered if this was the movie that kick started Charles Band's fascination with all things small, if such was the case, then let this movie serve as the best example of what he achieved when it came to presenting us the viewers with thought that small things could indeed kill at will.
With all the advancements in on screen technology, the special effects on show here really have stood the test of time, and setting aside the doll effects, the gore set pieces stood out as well, especially Ian Patrick Williams tortured demise toward the tail end of the movie.
All in all, this was another great example of Empire Pictures on full power when it mattered, and no collector of horror movies should be without it in their collection.