Walking the Edge (1983)

Walking the Edge (1983)
AKA The Hard Way

Starring Robert Forster, Nancy Kwan, Joe Spinell, A Martinez, James McIntire, Wayne Woodson, Luis Contreras, Russ Courtney

Directed by Norbert Meisel

Expectations: Moderate. It could have gone both ways, but I love a good revenge film.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


I watched this movie for a couple of reasons. First, when I pulled the filmography of Empire International this was at the top of the list. From what I understand they distributed the film at some level, but seem to have played no part in the actual production. Charles Band is listed as an uncredited executive producer on IMDB as well. I’m not posting this in my Tuesday series, though, as it’s not a true Charles Band picture and it will appeal to a completely different set of viewers. The other reason I watched it was Robert Forster. I must admit that I didn’t know who he was until Tarantino’s Jackie Brown came out, but I was immediately a fan. His subtle nature in that film was so charming and real that I’ve wanted to check out some of his older films ever since. Well, it took 13 years but I’ve finally come around and done just that. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Walking the Edge is the type of movie that you’d see in the video store and would always walk past. It might catch your eye for a moment, but you never took it home despite thinking about it several times. There’s nothing terribly special about it upon first glance, but it reveals itself to be a very competent and enjoyable revenge film. The setup is incredibly simple. The film opens in a house where a group of thugs, led by the great Joe Spinell, hold a woman (Nancy Kwan) and her son hostage. The thugs tell her that her husband is actually a drug dealer and that they’re gonna kill him. When he arrives home, they do just that, but they also end up killing the son. Kwan runs out an open door in the confusion and escapes to take revenge on these insidious motherfuckers later on in the film.

Continue reading Walking the Edge (1983) →

Ghoulies II (1988)

Starring Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro, J. Downing, Kerry Remsen, Dale Wyatt

Directed by Albert Band

Expectations: Low. There’s no way this can live up to the first one.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Ghoulies II is a film working against the odds. The first Ghoulies is a cult horror/comedy masterpiece (if you go for those sorts of things) and generally sequels to such fare are always inferior. I am happy to report that Ghoulies II is an exception to the rule. When four minutes in there’s a man with a groaning, wriggling sack over his shoulder being chased by three guys in blood-red satanist robes, you know you’re in for something…might be special, might be shit, but it’s definitely not gonna be middle of the road.

Apparently these satanists summoned the Ghoulies and the guy with the sack is making off with them to kill them. He runs into a gas station garage and throws the whole bag into a steaming toxic waste barrel. I’ve never seen a toxic waste barrel spewing fog at my local garage, but this is Ghoulies II so we’re just gonna go with it. Needless to say, the toxic waste has zero effect on the Ghoulies. They jump out and stop-motion their way over to a parked diesel rig. Soon, we’re all on our way to the carnival via the truck carrying the Satan’s Den attraction and our lovable Ghoulies.

Continue reading Ghoulies II (1988) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Madman (1982)

Starring Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Jan Claire, Jimmy Steele, Carl Fredericks, Paul Ehlers

Directed By Joe Giannone


Forced to live in the shadow of Friday the 13th since its original release in 1982, it only takes one viewing to realize that Madman is hands-down the superior film. Not to brazenly shit on the legendary long-running horror franchise, but there is a reason this obscure slasher film was gobbled up on DVD and went quickly out of print when Anchor Bay took a chance on its re-release a few years back. The same can’t be said for Friday the 13th which still waddles away, buried deep in the $5 DVD bin at your local Wal-Mart™.

Popping this disc in instantly takes me back in time to the horror aisles of old mom and pop run video rental shops of the 1980s. Gone were the wall-to-wall piles of new releases that are found in most present day franchises. Hidden behind the sun-faded Freddy Krueger cutouts and below the thumb-tacked Toxic Avenger poster with its curling edges and scotch-tape repaired tears would lay rows upon rows of obscure, low-budget horror films. They were propped up meticulously in their shiny cellophane wrappers with that block of foam jammed inside the box to keep it from flattening. Every Friday visit to the rental store was like a treasure hunt. My dad would carefully float down the aisles grabbing pretty much anything that looked at least somewhat interesting. We would take home stacks of long forgotten classics like Chopping Mall, C.H.U.D., Night of the Demons, and Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2. Some of these films would be deemed worthy of second or third rentals. But I don’t think my dad rented any film as much as Madman, which probably saw more time playing inside our top-loading VCR than it did sitting on that shelf in the video store.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Madman (1982) →

Dolls (1987)

Starring Stephen Lee, Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason, Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy Gordon, Cassie Stuart, Bunty Bailey, Carrie Lorraine

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Expectations: Low. I didn’t know this was Empire International before I started watching it, otherwise I would have expected more initially.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


With Dolls, I’m continuing my trek through the Empire International/Full Moon catalog. My girlfriend, after watching Ghoulies with me, felt a strong urge to re-watch this film which she had seen as a kid. As the credits began to roll and I saw Empire and Charles Band’s name, I immediately knew why she was compelled to re-watch Dolls. The power of the Full Moon had struck once again and she was powerless to do anything but watch this again. On the strength of Ghoulies I knew that I wanted to watch more of these films, but I had not expected Dolls to be one of them. I love it when a plan comes together. I happened to post my review of Ghoulies last Tuesday and now with this on Tuesday, I’m thinking of making every Tuesday for a while dedicated to Empire International or Full Moon films. I was trying to think of a snappy name for the day, but all I could come up with was Terror Tuesdays or Tuesday Trash. If anyone can think of something cool, let me know. Anyway, look forward to more of Charles Band’s brand of horror.

Dolls does not live up to the bar that Ghoulies set in my head. I still enjoyed this a great deal, it’s just not nearly as well made or fun as Ghoulies was. With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Dolls opens with a girl named Judy riding in a car with her dad and stepmother. The parents here are downright evil and verbally abusive to little Judy. While a normal, well-adjusted person might be offended by their insults, I simply thought to myself, “Hmm, I hope they’re doing what I think they’re doing… setting these bastards up for some seriously gratifying death scenes!” The car breaks down and they all start hoofing it down the road in the pouring rain.

Continue reading Dolls (1987) →

Mini-Review: Sid and Nancy (1986)

Starring Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman, Debby Bishop, Andrew Schofield

Directed by Alex Cox

Expectations: Low.


I wasn’t expecting much going into this. I liked the film, but I found it a bit on the boring side. Gary Oldman is fantastic as Sid Vicious, the definite star of the show. That’s also part of the problem I had with the film though, as he outshines nearly every other actor in it. He seems to embody not just Vicious but the punk ethos itself, while the majority of the rest of the cast looks like they’re playing dress-up at punk rock school. I’m probably being a bit biased here, but I couldn’t get past it while watching the film. Chloe Webb is pretty good as Nancy but she does get pretty annoying. I suppose that was part of the point though, so I can’t complain too much.

The film showcases the relationship of Sid and Nancy and seeks to give Sex Pistol fans an insight into their world. I’m just okay with the Pistols (personally I’m much more into The Clash), and I was okay never knowing anything about them. Obviously that doesn’t make me the target audience here, but I still liked it well enough thanks to the wonderful Oldman performance. Many people involved with the Pistols, including Johnny Rotten, have spoken at length about how inaccurate the film is, that no one should watch it, etc. I don’t have a clue what is true or not, but regardless, it tells a believable version of the tale. For me the film was on the borderline of okay and good, I kept jumping back and forth between 2 and 2 1/2 stars, but ultimately I decided that as the days moved on after watching this, the images in my head did not. Watch it if you enjoy Gary Oldman and want to see his breakout performance. It was shot by Roger Deakins too, so it looks pretty nice.

As a side note to all the Oldman fans: I’d also recommend Stephen Frear’s Prick Up Your Ears. It’s a very good film from the same time frame featuring a great Oldman performance and also starring Alfred Molina.

Coincidentally, my colleague Dan the Man has also recently watched this one and has got some thoughts up. Go check out his take on it!

Ghoulies (1985)

Starring Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Jack Nance, Peter Risch, Tamara de Treaux, Scott Thomson

Directed by Luca Bercovici

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Ghoulies… where do I begin? Uncle Jasper suggested that I continue in the 1980s “Little Monster” horror genre with this and I willingly agreed. I thought I was doomed. How can a movie with a poster of a Ghoulie (would that be Ghouly?) popping up out of a toilet with the tagline of “They’ll get you in the end!” possibly be any good? I am happy to report that the film is as awful as I suspected, but it is equally hilarious. This is by far one of my favorite B-horror comedies. Ghoulies is pure delinquent fun of the highest order.

This is an ’80s movie through and through, and lest you forget, it contains many things only present in films of this decade. Things such as a house party where someone starts breakdancing, dudes wearing sweater vests, and a guy looking over his sunglasses at stuff. It brings me back to my youth when the Big League Chew was plentiful and absolutely no one was cooler or more badass than Mr. T. Anyway, Ghoulies! The title is a bit of a misdirection as the Ghoulies are present, but not the main focus of the film. They aren’t even the main villain, but they are definitely the main source of enjoyment. This works to the film’s advantage because it takes on a different formula than the tired, typical horror movie structure where the Ghoulies might chase people around and kill them one-by-one. Instead, we are treated to a warlock summoning Ghoulies to hang out with him and laugh at the camera. I’m getting ahead of myself again though.

Continue reading Ghoulies (1985) →

Mini-Review: Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon (1982)

Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon [Musique au poing] (1982)

Starring Fela Kuti

Directed by Jean-Jacques Flori & Stéphane Tchalgadjieff

Expectations: Very High. I love Fela Kuti.


Fela Kuti is one of my favorite musical artists. He created the Afrobeat genre and sound together with his band the Africa ’70 (and later the Egypt ’80). He seems to have entered more of the mainstream consciousness with the recent success of the Broadway musical Fela!, but the real heart of his music lies in Nigeria and the political struggles he faced there.

This film features a couple of live performances from Fela and the band, none of them full songs, but enough to allow you to get a sense of his personal style on-stage. The film also covers a history of Fela and his music, covering his trip to America where he met Black Panthers who inspired him to become more political in his own country. The problem is, if you know much of anything about Fela and his music, this documentary doesn’t offer much that you haven’t already heard. It’s not that big of a problem though, as any Fela fan will enjoy the live performances and the extensive interviews with Fela himself.

Continue reading Mini-Review: Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon (1982) →

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