The Nest (1988)

thenest_1Starring Robert Lansing, Lisa Langlois, Franc Luz, Terri Treas, Stephen Davies, Diana Bellamy, Jack Collins

Directed by Terence H. Winkless

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Who likes cockroaches? Or better yet, who likes swarms of cockroaches invading every facet of small-town life? Not enough? Well… these cockroaches eat flesh! That’s the basic pitch for The Nest, which honestly could be even shorter: It’s Piranha with cockroaches (and less humor)! But while it may be based on a tried-and-true premise, The Nest delivers enough B-Movie thrills to make it creep, crawl, and endear its way into your heart.

Sheriff Richard Tarbell (Frank Luz) wakes up with a small roach problem. Not the best “How do ya do?” to start the day, but he’s got other things on his mind so it doesn’t faze him much. Elizabeth (Lisa Langlois), his high school sweetheart, is coming back into town after a four-year absence and guess what? A lot has changed since she left! A building or two have been demolished, the sheriff is kinda seeing someone else, and oh, there’s now a base just outside of town run by a nefarious corporation called Intec. I’ll give you one guess what they were experimenting on in this mysterious base…

Continue reading The Nest (1988) →

Quick Takes: City of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons, Not of This Earth

gates_of_hell_xlgCity of the Living Dead [Paura nella città dei morti viventi] (1980)
AKA The Gates of Hell
twohalfstar

Starring Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, Fabrizio Jovine
Directed by Lucio Fulci

Take a moment to consider the film’s title along with its poster art. Zombies, right? Wrong. City of the Living Dead really isn’t much of a zombie movie. Not in the traditional sense anyway. I’m somewhat unsure what the actual plot was, but the gist is that a priest kills himself and becomes a zombie mage, which somehow also opens the gates of Hell. These gates being open doesn’t really lead to the zombie hijinks you might expect, though, as City of the Living Dead is dreamy, haunting and supernatural where other movies would just go for your standard horror shocks and zombie kills. The plot is so nonsensical and chaotic at times that it makes it hard to get through, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. By far my favorite aspect of the film is the incredible gore, which really must be seen to be believed. There’s not much of it overall, but boy do they make up for lost time! I don’t want to spoil anything, but I definitely won’t be hankering for any pig guts and organ meat any time soon!

nightofthedemonsNight of the Demons (1988)

Starring Cathy Podewell, Amelia Kinkade, Linnea Quigley, Alvin Alexis, Allison Barron, Hal Havins, Billy Gallo, Lance Fenton, Philip Tanzini, Jill Terashita, Harold Ayer
Directed by Kevin S. Tenney

Despite its legacy and name recognition, I wasn’t really feeling this one until the 2nd half (which is pretty much non-stop entertainment). Demons in a haunted house chasing a girl dressed as Alice in Wonderland is as fun as it sounds. Dope Steve Johnson FX work too. The lack of any likeable characters is what made the first half kind of slow and boring, and I was surprised just how trashy a movie it was overall. If I didn’t know this came from the same director as Witchboard, I’d never have guessed it in a million years. Witchboard feels like solid, classic horror filmmaking, while Night of the Demons feels amateurish and naive in comparison. Two completely different types of movies, though. I really should hunt down some more of Tenney’s movies to see which style is the more prominent in his career.

not_of_this_earthNot of This Earth (1988)
onehalfstar

Starring Traci Lords, Arthur Roberts, Lenny Juliano, Ace Mask, Roger Lodge, Rebecca Perle, Michael DeLano, Becky LeBeau
Directed by Jim Wynorski

Man, Not of This Earth is some high level B-Movie shit. You need nerves of steel, forged through hundreds of horrendous B-movies, to make it through this one. Bad acting, bad writing, bad everything abounds, although Traci Lords — in her first “mainstream” acting role — is actually really good and easily the best actor in the film. There’s also some stock footage from other Roger Corman-produced films, and even though I haven’t seen the movies they came from, the sections stuck out as being completely unrelated to anything else in the movie. The behind-the-scenes story is great, and without a doubt more interesting than the movie itself. Notable low-budget director Jim Wynorski bet that he could remake Corman’s original 1957 film with the same budget (adjusted for inflation) and the same 12-day shooting schedule, and he did it (in 11 days)! As a low-budget experiment, it’s interesting, but as an actual movie it’s kinda boring. It’s not without its delights, though most of them come from Traci Lords and are prurient in nature. I also got a kick out of seeing Roger Lodge, the host of Blind Date, playing Lords’ love interest. Watching this makes me really curious to see the original, as this one is so trashy and ’80s that I have a hard time understanding what the ’50s movie must be like.

Trophy Heads (2014)

trophyheads_1Starring Adam Noble Roberts, Maria Olsen, Linnea Quigley, Jacqueline Lovell, Denice Duff, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Darcy DeMoss, Irena Murphy, Jessica Morris, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Amy Paffrath, Robin Sydney, Carel Struycken, Kristine DeBell, Gregory Niebel, Stuart Gordon, David DeCoteau, J. Scott

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: As long as it’s fun I’ll be satisfied, and with this many classic scream queens I don’t see how it won’t be fun.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


For many years now, Full Moon has made movies that a mainstream viewer, or even an old fan from the glory days who missed Full Moon’s last 15 years of questionable movies, wouldn’t hesitate to call “strange” or “out there” or “shit.” For those that stumble upon the movies unaware of what they’re getting themselves into (like the Redbox patrons), I’m sure the general reaction is something close to, “Who would watch this?” Hardcore Full Moon fans, that’s who! Throughout changing video landscapes and formats, Full Moon continues to pump out films for their fans (and pretty much no one else). So it makes perfect sense that their latest venture, Trophy Heads (which debuted in June as a five-part web series exclusively on Full Moon Streaming), is not just a film for their fans, but a film about those very fans.

Well… perhaps that’s a little too broad, as I doubt most Full Moon aficionados would kidnap our favorite stars, murder them, and mount their heads on the wall, but you get the idea. Anyway, yes, Trophy Heads is about a fan who rounds up six of his favorite ’80s scream queens, keeps them in his home-built basement dungeon, and then murders them while making them recreate situations from one of the Full Moon movies they were in way back when. There’s not really any depth beyond that, but as this is something directly for Full Moon fans, I don’t think anyone really cares. I certainly didn’t.

Continue reading Trophy Heads (2014) →

Stephen reviews: Mikadoroid (1991)

mikadoroid_1Mikadoroid [ミカドロイド] (1991)
AKA Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disco Club LaylaMikadoroido

Starring Hiroshi Atsumi, Sandayū Dokumamushi, Yoriko Dōguchi, Kenji Hayami

Directed by Satoo Haraguchi & Tomo’o Haraguchi


It’s time for some B-movie shlock, my friends. This time it’s coming from me instead of Will, which also means it’s coming from Japan. Actually, I’m still kind of amazed that anyone bothers to make US releases of Japanese B-movies, but here we are, so we might as well make the most of it. And while Mikadoroid is something of a mixed bag, there is definitely enough crazy shit to make a snack out of, if not a full meal, for any B-movie fan.

The film starts off with some cool black and white scenes set in World War II, punctuated by still shots for dramatic effect. This part of the film is actually pretty good as it explains that Japan was working on a cyborg super soldier experiment that might have turned the tide of the war (which I am going to assume is the titular Mikadoroid, not that the film ever says so). But as resources grew scarce, the government decided to cut off funding and shut the project down. But of course, there was one finished prototype that got locked away in the secret lab. Queue the plot of the film, as that prototype wakes up 45 years later to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting underground parking lot. Alright, I’ll admit that with the American title of Robokill Beneath Disco Club Layla I was hoping for more of a rampage inside the disco club, not in its parking garage, but I suppose I have only myself to blame as the title was completely accurate.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Mikadoroid (1991) →

Hex vs. Witchcraft (1980)

HexVersusWitchcraft+1980-3-bHex vs. Witchcraft [邪鬥邪] (1980)
AKA Evil Fighting Evil (Literal Translation)

Starring James Yi Lui, Jenny Leung Jan-Lei, Booi Yue-Fa, Cheung Miu-Lin, Yeung Chi-Hing, Lam Fai-Wong, To Siu-Ming, Shirley Yu Sha-Li, Wang Lai, Chan Shen, Ng Hong-Sang, Yeung Hung, Fong Ping, Chan Lap-Ban, Lau Yat-Fan, Lo Meng

Directed by Kuei Chih-Hung

Expectations: Moderate.

twohalfstar


The Hex series is an interesting one, mostly because it’s not really a series in the traditional sense. The tone in Hex is nothing but serious spooks and specters, so the shift to wacky ghost comedy in Hex vs. Witchcraft is a bit jarring and unexplained. And if my information is correct, the final film, Hex After Hex, is even more wacky (which means, based on Hex vs. Witchcraft, it’s going to be VERY WACKY). If this holds true, it seems the Hex series kinda resembles the Evil Dead series’ approach to tone, with the exception that only the second and third Hex films share actors or relate to one another in any way.

Hex vs. Witchcraft is set in modern Hong Kong and our “hero” is Cai Tou (James Yi Lui), a man as unlucky as they come. He’s a compulsive gambler, but like most movie gamblers that aren’t the God of Gamblers, Cai is in deep debt to the local gangster, Brother Nine (Chan Shen). Without going into detail, eventually Cai finds himself married to Liu Ah Cui, the dead daughter of an old man who came to his door after Cai found a bag of gold jewelry that also contained the woman’s spiritual tablet. If I didn’t cut to the chase a bit I’d have to use two or three paragraphs to have the story progression make sense, and that’s neither necessary or fun.

Continue reading Hex vs. Witchcraft (1980) →

Quick Takes: Sugar Hill, Survival of the Dead, Escape from Tomorrow

sugar_hill_xlgSugar Hill (1974)
threestar

Starring Marki Bey, Robert Quarry, Don Pedro Colley, Betty Anne Rees, Richard Lawson, Zara Cully, Charles Robinson, Larry Don Johnson
Directed by Paul Maslansky

What do you get when you combine a foxy lady, a murdered boyfriend, silver-eyed voodoo zombies, and some racist, honky motherfuckers? Sugar Hill takin’ out the trash… the white trash! Sugar Hill is one hell of a fun blaxploitation horror film, and definitely one to add to your watchlist if you like your anti-racism films without a hint of subtlety. Sugar Hill has the country’s racism right out in the open, and for my money there’s no better villain to see get theirs than ignorant racists (except maybe Nazis). To see them taken out with a group of voodoo-risen zombies who still wear the rusted shackles of their years in slavery is like getting a dose of cathartic justice with your entertainment. I loved it.

SurvivaloftheDeadSurvival of the Dead (2009)
twohalfstar

Starring Alan van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe, Richard Fitzpatrick, Athena Karkanis, Stefano Di Matteo, Devon Bostick, Joris Jarsky, Eric Woolfe
Directed by George A. Romero

Survival of the Dead is a sequel to Romero’s Diary of the Dead, featuring the military characters seen briefly in that film. Here they are trying to survive amidst the zombie apocalypse (who woulda thunk it!?), and eventually they get pulled into an old family feud on an island off the coast of Delaware that they’ve heard is free from zombies. Romero’s sensibilities are still rooted in the ’70s and ’80s, so the characters feel like holdovers from that era of film. This endeared the film to me, but I’m sure others would have the opposite reaction. The film is also something of a comedy (hence the family feud storyline), although Romero oddly keeps the overall tone serious, so a lot of the comedy comes off as bad drama. But little things, like a girl who loved horses so much her zombie just rides a horse around the island all day, still have me chuckling. Overall, I liked it. Had some humor, had some gore, had some dope Irish accents. I was satisfied. Is it good? Eh, not really, but I’ll take an OK new Romero movie over most horror movies made these days.

escapefromtomorrow_1Escape from Tomorrow (2013)
onehalfstar

Starring Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Jack Dalton, Danielle Safady, Annet Mahendru, Lee Armstrong, Kimberly Ables Jindra, Trey Loney, Amy Lucas, Alison Lees-Taylor
Directed by Randy Moore

I greatly admire the ambition of Randy Moore in making Escape from Tomorrow. The film is set in Disney World, and Moore actually shot it there (and Disneyland) without Disney’s consent, during park hours. To shoot a film at Disneyland guerrilla-style is ballsy, but it’s the quality of the camera placements that really amazed me. A lot of it doesn’t look like it was shot on the sly, and certain elements — like characters passing on two trains of the People Mover — must have taken forever to block out amidst the crowds. The fact that the film even exists is impressive enough for me to almost forget that the movie itself isn’t really that good. It’s a shame, but the story of a 40-something father chasing 14-year-old French girls around Disney World because he’s in an unhappy marriage is much more creepy than engaging. And not the good kind of creepy either. There’s also a supernatural bent to the story as it goes on, but none of it makes a single bit of sense. And then the ending comes out of left field, which makes even less sense than what came before it. Perhaps I missed some deep meaning, but I was left to admire the passion that drove the film, instead of the actual film itself.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

invasion-poster1Starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, Virginia Christine, Tom Fadden, Kenneth Patterson

Directed by Don Siegel

Expectations: Very high.

fourstar


I can’t believe it took me this long to finally see Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I think at some point in my youth I did see it, but I was since replaced by a pod-person version of myself, thus erasing the memory of seeing this monumental film. I feel like I’ve actively avoided seeing this film in the years following this proposed switch. Even the other day when I decided to watch it, I only reluctantly picked it because it was expiring from Netflix Instant on October 1st. Well, whatever made me fight the stringent conditioning of the pod-brain I only just realized I have… Thanks! All kidding aside, I guess it wasn’t high on my priority list because I already knew the basic plot from beginning to end. I thought it’d be kinda crusty, too, with slow moments and charming but ugly FX. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a straight-up barn burner, even now almost 60 years on. The pace never once lets up. The film opens with Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) raving and screaming like a lunatic, rocketing us out the barrel and into the frenzy of living in a world inhabited by body snatchers. The cops get him to calm down enough to tell his tale, so the movie does the little underwater shimmering thing that they do in 1950s movies and we’re back at the calm beginning of Bennell’s story.

Continue reading Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) →

Page 1 of 167123...10...Last »

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 40 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages

The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980)
White Men Can't Jump (1992)
The Deadly Knives (1972)
The Flying Dagger (1969)
The Boxer from Shantung (1972)
The Nest (1988)
Mama (2013)
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978)

Large Association of Movie Blogs