Leapin’ Leprechauns! (1995)

Starring John Bluthal, Grant Cramer, Godfrey James, Tina Martin, James Ellis, Sylvester McCoy, Sharon Lee Jones, Gregory Smith, Erica Hess, Mihai Niculescu, Dorina Lazar, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


The Moonbeam films share so many similarities that I am no longer surprised to see re-used elements; I actually look forward to them now. Leapin’ Leprechauns comes from the mold of Dragonworld, though it uses its building blocks uniquely to make for a much different film experience. Shot on the rolling green hills of Ireland Romania, Leapin’ Leprechauns introduces us to a world of wonder and fantasy, the people who believe in it, and a few who do not.

Michael Dennehy (John Bluthal) has lived peacefully on Fairy Hill his entire life, and now in his elderly years gives brief tours of the grounds to visitors on bus excursions. He lives in harmony with the living world around him, including the wee leprechauns and the fairy folk. One day, Michael comes upon a pair of surveyors examining the land, and much to his surprise they’re working under the orders of his son living in America, John Dennehy (Grant Cramer). John wants to turn the land into an amusement park called Ireland Land, so he invites Michael to see the grandkids in the US (getting him out of the way for the surveyors to survey in peace). It’s kind of an inverse of Dragonworld, where an American boy is orphaned and comes to live in Scotland with his grandfather. In the back story of Leapin’ Leprechauns, John must have moved to the US at a young age with his mother or something, because he has zero trace of an accent or respect for his Scottish heritage. This makes me wonder about the wild, roving days of Michael, but all of this is far outside of the confines of Leapin’ Leprechauns.

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Aliens in the Wild, Wild West (1999)

timeslingers_7Aliens in the Wild, Wild West (1999)
AKA Timeslingers

Starring Taylor Locke, Carly Pope, Barna Moricz, Markus Parilo, Gerry Quigley, Gloria Slade, George Ilie, Ovidiu Bucurenciu, Marcel Cobzariu, Marius Florea Vizante, Marioara Sterian, Mircea Constantinescu, Ion Haiduc

Directed by George Erschbamer

Expectations: Looking forward to it.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


As a kid did you ever wish for a movie that combined your love of westerns with your love of E.T.? If so, Aliens in the Wild, Wild West is the movie you’ve been hunting for! You may have happened upon it 20 years too late, but you’re only as old as you feel! So dust off those childhood fantasies and throw those suicidal thoughts away for the next 90 minutes, cuz we’re going back to the wild west wild, wild west!

Tom Johnson (Taylor Locke) is a kid obsessed with video. He carries a camera everywhere he goes, even strapping one to the front of his moped as he drives home from school. His sister Sara (Carly Pope) is the classic rebellious teenage girl, dating a dangerous rocker dude that her father firmly disapproves of. After a rather heated argument when Sara is brought home by a couple of cops (all videotaped with MTV VJ-style commentary by Tom), the head of the family decides that there’s only one thing to do in a situation like this. Unwavering discipline? Family counseling? A stiff drink on the rocks? Nope! Family vacation! Who wants to bet they’ll have a hair-raising adventure that ultimately brings them all closer together?

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Mandroid (1993)

mandroid-movie-poster-1993-1020548085Starring Brian Cousins, Jane Caldwell, Michael Della Femina, Robert Symonds, Curt Lowens, Patrik Ersgard, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Jack Ersgard

Expectations: High. That poster promises a lot of fun.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


You don’t know how sad it makes me to watch a movie called Mandroid and not be able to tell you how incredible it is. It’s remarkable how much this film squanders its potential to be a great film, and continues to do that over and over and over again throughout. At least it’s consistent. But don’t fret, it’s not all bad. The elements are here, so Mandroid would actually be better if you’re not paying close attention. You’re doing something, you look up and see the Mandroid driving a car into a wall, you go back to what you’re doing with a smile on your face. That would be a far more enjoyable experience than actually trying to follow the “story” of this movie.

But what is that story? Hellifino! No really, it’s about this Mandroid and he’s in love with a Wo-Mandroid from a rival clan. Their fathers creators object to their coupling — OK, OK. The real story is about a pair of elderly scientists who created the Mandroid together. One creator, Karl, wants to use it for science, but the other, Drago, wants to sell it to the military! They do a bit of fighting about it, and Drago decides to take matters into his own hands and just steal the sum’bitch. That plan goes awry and Drago gets hideously disfigured, fueling his rage even more!

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The Shrunken City (1998)

The Shrunken City (1998)
AKA Shandar: The Shrunken City

Starring Michael Malota, Agnes Bruckner, Jules Mandel, Steve Valentine, Ray Laska, Dorina Lazar, Christopher Landry, Lula Malota, Andreea Macelaru, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate, the kids movies are always iffy.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


I’ve put off writing this review for the last hour or so after the movie had ended. Usually I start right away, eager to blast out my thoughts into some form of a rough draft. Whenever I hesitate, it’s usually a bad sign. In this particular case, it’s a sign of a film that has left me rather indifferent, but I’ll try to make the best of it. It’s odd too, because I enjoyed The Shrunken City, or Shandar – The Shrunken City! if you’re going by its most recent title (and what it’s known by at a Redbox near you).

Shandar is about the mystical city of Shandar that was shrunken into a glass bottle as a last-ditch effort to save it from the destructive forces of the evil Ood. As a sidenote, has there ever been a shittier name for a villainous force? The Ood? I suppose I could call them the El Ooderino, but they’re obviously into the whole brevity thing so I won’t. Anyway, the city is shrunken and then 26,000 years and a dimensional journey later, it is unearthed by our 13-year-old heroes, George and Lori. The only problem is that by unearthing it, they have also broken its protective shield and now the Ood are back to finally wipe out that pesky city of Shandar. Boy, these guys really know how to hold a grudge. You’d think after 26,000 years they’d let it go.

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Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm (1998)

Starring Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Jonathon Morris, Ioana Abur, Mihai Dinvale, Floriela Grappini, Dan Astileanu, Ion Haiduc, Eugenia Bosânceanu, Cristi Rasuceanu, Oana Voicu

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Actually, pretty high. I realize this is Subspecies 4, but the ending of part 3 has me thoroughly pumped for this.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


With the ending that Subspecies III had, I fully expected there to be a lengthy explanation of how Radu survived and returned to life. Based on the opening of Subspecies 4 though, I apparently just don’t understand much about vampires in Radu’s world. They appear to be the Energizer bunnies of their universe, taking an incredibly over-the-top lickin’, involving sunlight-induced fire, a three-story fall and a multi-point impalement, but still keep on tickin’! All Radu needs to recover from his charred, broken state is a few drops from the wonderful, life-giving bloodstone. It makes those owies all better like a kiss from Mummy.

After the off-shoot film Vampire Journals, Subspecies 4 returns to the tale of Radu, your favorite insanely over-the-top vampire villain. He’s still after the undying devotion of Michelle, the girl-turned-vampire that’s been hanging around since the first Subspecies film. After Radu fell to his death, Michelle’s sister and her embassy buddy zipped up Michelle in a body bag and drove off to seek help. Shortly after, due to a small budget, there’s a car crash and the only survivor is the undead Michelle. She is quickly taken to a hospital by a passerby, where a mysterious doctor who knows too much offers to cure her vampirism through scientific means.

Continue reading Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm (1998) →

Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)

Starring Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Kevin Spirtas, Melanie Shatner, Pamela Gordon, Ion Haiduc, Michael Dellafemina

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate, the last two were very enjoyable.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


Another week, another Subspecies film, another ridiculous Radu resurrection! Yes, that’s right folks, being stabbed with a dagger in the face repeatedly and finished off with a stake through the mid-section is mere child’s play for vampires like Radu. This time around his Mummy uses Michelle’s sumptuous blood to resurrect Radu, by first slitting Michelle’s wrist, dribbling the blood on Radu’s forehead, licking the blood off the knife and then stabbing Radu in the hole left by the dagger in part two. Wha?!?!? This is a dark ritual for sure, and if it’s powerful enough to raise this bad motherfucker from the grave again, I’m glad I know nothing of it.

Upon resurrection, Radu moves quickly into the role of teacher, doing his best to foster Michelle into the good, lustful life of the vampire. Meanwhile, Michelle’s sister Rebecca refuses to leave her slowly changing sister to her inevitable death, so she once again teams up with the forgettable white dude from the embassy and the funny Romanian cop, Lt. Marin. Over the next hour, the film just retreads these two plot points over and over, without really moving forward. It still features the same beautiful Romanian locales and the same Gothic atmosphere, but this one is seriously lacking in story and thrills.

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Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)

Starring Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Kevin Spirtas, Melanie Shatner, Michael Denish, Pamela Gordon, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate. The first was good.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


Coming off the somewhat slow, but very entertaining Subspecies, Ted Nicolaou and Full Moon pick up right where they left off with the sequel. Literally starting at the same moment Subspecies ends, Bloodstone: Subspecies II finds Radu in a predicament. Due to a disagreement in the first film, his head got separated from his body and a nasty stake was driven through his heart. That’s apparently what the subspecies are for though, as they cleverly remove the stake and push Radu’s head just close enough for the bloody tentacles and his spine to reach out and reattach his head. I’m not making it up, I swear! Like the subspecies in the first film, Radu continues to impress by possessing all kinds of cool vampire traits you won’t hear about in the schoolyard in between turns on the swing set. This is one of my favorite horror movie openings in recent memory, and with that, Bloodstone: Subspecies II starts off with one hell of an over-the-top, gory bang.

Besides Radu’s resurrection, the plot mainly follows the heroine of the first film Michelle (played here by Denise Duff), a recently bitten female who’s slowly adjusting to her newfound lust for human blood. When she awakes in the aftermath of the carnage that ended Subspecies, she quickly yoinks the bloodstone and runs off to Bucharest with it. When Radu returns to claim his prize and he finds it missing, he does the only logical thing given the circumstance; he grabs his recently deceased brother’s skeleton and furiously rips and stomps it to hell. He then runs off in chase, but is only quick enough to see Michelle board the train to Bucharest. Shoulda ate your Wheaties, Radu! I’m sure you can guess what happens from here. This sequel wisely does not seek to retread the ground of the original, instead mostly leaving behind the majestic but creepy ruins of the Eastern European countryside, for the urban environment of Bucharest. This instantly gives the film a distinctly different feel and look to the first film, while still retaining the clever shooting style and the star of the show, Radu.

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