Mini-Review: The Werewolf Reborn! (1998)

Starring Robin Atkin Downes, Ashley Tesoro, Len Lesser, Bogdan Cambera, Lucia Maier

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


The Werewolf Reborn! is the second of two Moonbeam films under the Filmonsters! banner, and while Frankenstein Reborn! was bad but kinda fun, this one is just atrocious. Very little of note happens in the movie, but at least it has the decency to be quick about it. The Werewolf Reborn! runs 43 1/2 minutes without credits and my sanity is eternally grateful. To imagine this movie twice as long, at “normal” movie length, is to imagine a horrific cinematic nightmare. Not exactly the usual way to strike fear in the hearts of the audience! 😛 There are definitely worse movies out there, although at the moment The Werewolf Reborn is the torchbearer in my brain, and it’ll probably remain the benchmark for some months to come.

As with Frankenstein Reborn, this film attempts to re-invent a horror classic for a younger audience. I don’t know what was wrong with kids just watching the original Universal films, but I guess some kids (and parents) might not want watch stuff in black and white. So enter Full Moon to create low-budget ’90s versions! In 2017, I’d be curious to see which one kids would rather watch; my money’s on the Universal versions, but it’s probably a toss-up depending on the person. Anyway… what this translates to is the coupling of the basic Wolf Man story with the well-used Moonbeam story of a kid sent off to live with a relative in another country. Frankenstein Reborn got a little more than this — it also had 60 whole minutes to work with! — but in The Werewolf Reborn that’s about it. The way the film handles the gypsies is a little different than the 1940s Wolf Man, but it’s nothing significant enough to set it apart. If the rest of the proposed Filmonster films were just going to be these relatively lazy productions of classic stories with teens shoehorned in, I guess I’m glad they stopped when they did.

I don’t really have anything else to say about The Werewolf Reborn. It’s one of the worst Moonbeam films I’ve seen, about as interesting as a bucket full of dust thrown in your face. It has a few moments of fun with the werewolf, but literally everything else had me clamoring for the film to end… and when it’s only 43 1/2 minutes long that really isn’t a good sign! Full Moon also combined the films in 2005 into Frankenstein & the Werewolf Reborn!, and I can only imagine the amount of fortitude and caffeine it would take to make it through both of them back to back.

Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be watching The Vault! I hope whatever is locked up in that vault is better than the Werewolf’s rebirth! 😛 See ya then!

The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes (1999)

boywiththexrayeyes_1The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes (1999)
AKA X-treme Teens

Starring Bryan Neal, Dara Hollingsworth, Timothy Bottoms, Dennis Haskins, Eric Jungmann, Dan Zukovic, Andrew Prine

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


You can’t argue that The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes isn’t a promising title for a B-movie. There’s something about it that screams B-movie fun in the classic ’50/’60s science fiction vein. X-ray vision is one of the staples of conversation on the schoolyard playground (or at least it was in the ’80s), so the subject will always make me fondly remember those days gone by. But when I look back, I don’t remember thinking too far beyond how “cool” x-ray vision would be, or the first couple of things I’d use it for. So to build a whole movie around it is to force me to think in this manner, and it’s not the kind of subject that holds up to scrutiny. And when the film in question is played fairly straight, without a wild sense of fun, x-ray vision becomes more of a hindrance than a benefit.

Yes, The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes is less fun that I hoped it would be, but it’s also a more competent movie than I expected. Jeff Burr has proved himself to be a talented director of some fantastic B-movies (Puppet Master 4, Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy, and one of the best Moonbeam films: Phantom Town), so it’s not that I didn’t expect something worthwhile from him, it’s more that Moonbeam films are usually treading the fine B-movie line between fun and boring. The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes has parts that are fun, and parts that are boring, but it never commits to either so it doesn’t leave much of an impression.

Continue reading The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes (1999) →

Johnny Mysto: Boy Wizard (1997)

johnnymysto_1Starring Lane Toran, Russ Tamblyn, Michael Ansara, Amber Tamblyn, Ian Abercrombie, Patrick Renna, Pat Crawford Brown, Jack Donner, Magda Catone

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Magic!

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


Like many of the Moonbeam films, Johnny Mysto: Boy Wizard features a teen that time travels back to medieval times and saves the day. At this point, I guess I should assume that’s going to be the plot until I see otherwise. Anyway, Johnny Mysto: Boy Wizard differentiates itself by its main character’s magical aspirations and its complete lack of logical sense. It’s a good thing I don’t necessarily care about logic in B-Movies, otherwise this review would be a lot of complaining about how the villain’s motivations were unclear and nonsensical. So let me get this straight — they’re stealing peasants from the countryside to make doll-faced automatons out of them? Huh? Clearly, the important point here is “doll-faced automatons,” and that the henchmen soldiers ride around on horses wearing skeleton suits (and yes, that’s the horses wearing the skeleton suits).

The film begins in medieval times, as a girl is chased through the woods by the aforementioned soldiers. She manages to escape for long enough to slip into a hidden hole in the ground. Turns out that inside this seemingly nondescript hole in the ground is the one and only wizard Merlin! The girl has brought Merlin a mirror and through the magic of flexible movie logic, Merlin is able to transfer power through the mirror to an unborn child a thousand years in the future. And wouldn’t ya know, that kid turns out to be Johnny Mysto (Lane Toran)!

Continue reading Johnny Mysto: Boy Wizard (1997) →

Phantom Town (1999)

phantom-townPhantom Town (1999)
AKA Spooky Town

Starring John Patrick White, Taylor Locke, Lauren Summers, Jim Metzler, Belinda Montgomery, Gabriel Spahiu, Jimmy Herman, Jeff Burr, Iuliana Ciugulea, Dan Badarau

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
threestar

On the B-movie scale:
fourstar


Phantom Town may be a simple retelling of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers story, but it’s overwhelmingly well-made, and will please all the B-Movie fans in your household. One night, a bunch of home alone kids throw a massive party for their friends. When their mother calls to check on them, they freak out! Hey guys, scram! Mom’s coming home! But this freak-out is nothing compared to the fear that sets in when Mom and Dad’s phone call cuts short as they drive into the mysterious town of Long Hand. They never make it home, so the kids go out the next night to look for signs of what might have happened. Instead, they find the Last Chance Trading Post, where an old Native American man tells them that Long Hand has been gone for a hundred years, and the only way there is to dream your way in. Whoa, man, that’s so heavy!

As is tradition in the Moonbeam films, young children who watch the film will get what is perhaps their first tastes of many things. Things like: the dread of waking up and realizing that your parents are probably dead, the concept of taking matters into your own hands by jumping in a car and sneaking out on your current guardians, the idea that you have a soul and that it can be taken, the thin line that defines one’s mortality, the existential question of meaning… y’know, all the common playground topics. I don’t object to any of these as I’m not a parent, but I can imagine parents these days getting twisted about this stuff being in a supposed family film. If anything, I think it would help kids deal with their fears of soul-stealing alien cowboys, but what do I know?

Continue reading Phantom Town (1999) →

Puppet Master 5 (1994)

Starring Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ian Ogilvy, Teresa Hill, Guy Rolfe, Nicholas Guest, Willard E. Pugh, Diane McBain, Duane Whitaker

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Six Shooter, Torch, Decapitron, Totem Demons

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Fairly high, because I enjoyed the last one so much.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-Movie scale:
onehalfstar


Oh Full Moon, why do you forsake me? Puppet Master 4 satisfied me from end-to-end and I was sure that the concurrently shot sequel would be another equally satisfying series entry. Hey, it worked for Trancers 4 & 5, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work here as Puppet Master 5 is two steps down in every way. They really had nothing to go on in this one, seemingly packing all the good stuff into Part 4 and dredging up whatever bullshit was stuck to the bottom of their shoes for this one. Puppet Master 5 is not without its fun moments, but like a thumbnail umbrella in a rain storm of shit, they are almost unnoticeable.

Puppet Master 5 picks up with our new puppet master, Rick (Gordon Currie), in police custody for the murders that the demon totems performed in the previous film. He gets out on bail and goes back to the hotel to retrieve the rest of the puppets and then… I don’t know what. The end goal is never really spelled out. Meanwhile, the new leader of the A.I. project takes three goons (including Christopher Guest’s brother Nicholas Guest) to the hotel to retrieve the puppets for himself. Alongside all that, Sutekh the Egyptian demon transfers his life essence into a final totem demon and sends it through the pyramid portal to the hotel. Shockingly, all of these masterful elements combine to form a tour de force train wreck of a movie. Who would have guessed?

Continue reading Puppet Master 5 (1994) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Starring  Mil Máscaras, Jeffrey Uhlmann, Willard E. Pugh, Richard Lynch, Gary Ambrosia, Kurt Rennin Mirtsching, Melissa Osborn, Marco Lanzagorta, El Hijo del Santo, Blue Demon Jr.

Directed By Jeff Burr, Chip Gubera


 

Wait… what?!?!

That was my initial reaction after hearing that Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy was a film that even existed. This is the 21st century. What crazy-ass, pagan-tinged astronomical event caused a Lucha Libre film to sneak out of the collective cinematic well in the year 2007? That alone would have been enough to set my head spinning, but Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy is an English language film!… made not in the crowded alleys of Mexico City, but by a bunch of stuffy engineering students from Columbia University… in Missouri! That sounds about as Mexican as a stiff Earl Grey with a stack of crumpets.

With that much working against it, I had virtually no hope for this film. None whatsoever. But preconceived notions are a bitch, and can really rob you of some of life’s best moments if you let them get in the way. Not only is Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy one of the best lucha films I have ever seen, but it is one of the greatest examples of cinematic homage ever produced. Directors Jeff Burr and Chip Gubera have forged one of the most passionate love letters to a cinematic sub genre I have ever seen. Their knowledge and familiarity with the genre shines through in virtually every frame. These guys are true fans who have picked up on every subtle nuance and convention in lucha cinema and simply ran with them… often times to insanely amusing extremes.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007) →




Subscribe via Email!

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

Join 71 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages