The Incredible Genie (1999)

incrediblegenie_2Starring Matt Koruba, Tom Fahn, Stacie Randall, Biff Manard, George Miserlis, Amanda Fuller, Dean Scofield, Justin Brown

Directed by Alexander Cassini

Expectations: Alakazam! I wish for a good movie!

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


I doubt there’s ever been a genie-based film that didn’t cover the “Be careful what you wish for!” adage, so when The Incredible Genie hits those notes it’s expected. What came as a surprise is that I would genuinely enjoy The Incredible Genie for its reckless, independent spirit AND for its message of friendship and putting the best version of yourself forward. They hit the message pretty hard towards the end of the film, but in this movie it’d still be easy to miss amidst all the insanity being thrown at the screen. The Incredible Genie is essentially a family film, so don’t expect anything traditionally associated with B-Movies and “insanity,” although you can totally look forward to a Snake Man being skewered on a collapsing spiked wall in a booby-trapped jail cell. Gather ’round, kids… it’s time for a Moonbeam movie!

The Incredible Genie opens with Peter Dopler (George Miserlis), a researcher, and his Egyptian guide out a-hunting for tombs. Guess what? They found one! And you’ll never guess how they get in — Peter leans up against the stone door and it just collapses! Wow, what luck! This stone has stood tall and strong for thousands of years, warding off tomb raiders and the sands of time, only to fall when one oafish dude takes a breather. This is merely the tip of the B-Movie iceberg, and within a few minutes we’ve been introduced to “Aura-Detecting Goggles” rigged to view mystical power sources, a magic lamp, and a mummy who tries to hug Peter to death but instead has his burial wrappings unfurled and used as a rappelling line so Peter can make a quick exit from the tomb.

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Ghoulies IV (1994)

ghoulies4_3Starring Peter Liapis, Barbara Alyn Woods, Stacie Randall, Raquel Krelle, Bobby Di Cicco, Tony Cox, Arturo Gil

Directed by Jim Wynorski

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Many moons and black magic spells ago, I reviewed the first three films in the Ghoulies franchise. I purposely chose to avoid Part 4, based on my highly negative reaction to the third film and the bothersome idea that the ghoulies of Ghoulies IV were actually dudes in suits and not puppets. Five years of writing for Silver Emulsion has cured my brain towards B-Movies far more than I could have ever imagined, so I felt it was finally time to take on Ghoulies IV. I even re-watched the other Ghoulies films in preparation and didn’t completely hate Ghoulies III! (It’s still shitty, but I was able to have fun with it this time.)

Even with these multiple years of thick B-Movie watching under my belt, I still entered Ghoulies IV with trepidation. The first two films in the franchise hold a special place in my heart as they were somewhat responsible for sending me down this B-Movie path, and I feared that Ghoulies IV would further trash the Ghoulies name as the third film had. But then the film opened with an explosion that ripping a door from its hinges, thru which a leather-clad buxom female emerged, and within a matter of moments she’s thrown a ninja star into the forehead of a well-meaning security guard. I was instantly won over — explosions and ninja stars are a quick way to my heart — and I am pleased to report that the rest of the movie continued this trend of tightly packed B-Movie thrills.

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Transformations (1988)

Transformations-1Transformations (1988)
AKA Alien Transformations

Starring Rex Smith, Lisa Langlois, Patrick Macnee, Christopher Neame, Michael Hennessy, Cec Verrell, Benito Stefanelli, Donald Hodson, Pamela Prati, Ann Margaret Hughes, Loredana Romito

Directed by Jay Kamen

Expectations: Moderate, but it’s ’80s so it’ll have cool FX work, right?

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


I often say, “The future is now,” because I’m so amazed with technology and how different things have become since my youth. But now I feel cheated because in the version of the future shown in Transformations, everyone drinks out of glasses with neato twisty straws built into them. It’s really quite impressive, but like any great advancement for humanity such as this, we must also deal with the ever increasing dangers of the world. And in this version of the future, humanity’s greatest threat is a ferocious alien demon STD that transforms its host into a gooey, hairy monstrosity that conveniently has the power to transform itself into an object of desire to lure its next victim into bed.

This is exactly what happens to our main character, a rollicking space smuggler named Han Solo Wolfgang Shadduck (Rex Smith), but you can call him Wolf. He’s been flying around the galaxy alone for far too long, and it’s his birthday. His friends from Earth have sent a video message and apparently planted a present on-board before he left. They won’t tell him where it is, instead they just scream “TREASURE HUNT!” and laugh. So when a beautiful woman appears at his cabin door, he assumes she’s his StripperGram present, ignoring all logic and assuming she’s been hiding in a cargo locker surviving on nutritional paste all this time. But whatever, this is a horror movie, and what’s a horror movie without a dumb character doing something dumb to allow the audience to have some horrific fun?

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Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain (2004)

drmoreau_1Starring John Patrick Jordan, Jessica Lancaster, Jacob Witkin, Peter Donald Badalamenti II, Lorielle New, Ling Aum, B.J. Smith, Debra Mayer, Laura Petersen

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau is a classic of horror literature. It’s been adapted into many film versions, starting all the way back in 1913 with The Island of Terror. But for fans looking for stories that go beyond the scope of the original novel, your options are far more limited. Enter Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain, a sequel of sorts to the original novel, telling the story of how the good doctor set up shop in a Hollywood mansion in the 1940s after leaving his island behind. Oh, what’s that? Dr. Moreau died in the novel? Oh… well… uh… no he didn’t!

Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain opens with boxer Eric Carson (John Patrick Jordan), journalist Mary Anne (Debra Mayer), and their friend Judith (Jessica Lancaster) in a car talking about how Eric’s brother Roy has gone missing. He frequented the bar they’re parked in front of, so I guess the plan is to go in and gather information. I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention. I know, I know, the movie just started and my attention shouldn’t be wavering, but hear me out. Eric is played by the same guy that plays the lead in the Evil Bong films, so all I could do was theorize about how this 1940s John Patrick Jordan was somehow the grandfather of Evil Bong‘s Larnell. Which then led me down the mental path of trying to connect the creepy kids show host Hambo, who is featured in most of Full Moon’s recent films, and surmising that he could actually be one of Moreau’s creations. Perhaps the next Evil Bong sequel will also be a sequel to this film!

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Alien Arsenal (1999)

alienarsenal_6Alien Arsenal (1999)
AKA Alien Weapons

Starring Josh Hammond, Danielle Hoover, Michele Nordin, Krisztián Kovács, Jerrod Cornish, William Vogt, Riley Smith, Dominic Catrambone, Stephanie Mennella, Chris Olivero, Robert Donavan, Brenda Blondell

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Pretty boys in their underwear with varying levels of acting quality? Must be time for another David DeCoteau film! Alien Arsenal is a loose remake of Laserblast, one of my favorite Full Moon films. Generally I’m against remakes, but Laserblast is the kind of movie that could definitely use some improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I love it just how it is, but it’s the ultimate “Let’s roll with this movie’s inherent shittiness and have a good time” movie. Sure, Laserblast has a massive amount of slo-mo explosions LASERBLASTS, blowing up everything from popcorn machines to bullies driving hot rods, but you have to wade through a river of shit to get to them.

For the most part, Alien Arsenal does a good job of taking Laserblast and applying a plot to the general premise. That’s right, Laserblast is largely a plotless film, strung together by nothing more than teenage rage and fiery explosions. Alien Arsenal retains the premise of a bullied teen acquiring an alien weapon, but the whys and the hows are much more than, “He finds it in the desert.”

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Quick Takes: Nightmare City, Your Highness, The Foot Fist Way

nightmare-city-poster-161Nightmare City [Incubo Sulla Cittá Contaminata] (1980)
AKA City of the Walking Dead

fourstar

Starring Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Francisco Rabal, Sonia Viviani, Eduardo Fajardo, Stefania D’Amario, Ugo Bologna
Directed by Umberto Lenzi

I’ve had Nightmare City on my radar for a while, but the arrival of Tom Savini’s crowdfunded remake-to-be gave me that extra little push in the right direction. Simply put, Nightmare City is a fuckin’ blast. I’ve always been a firm supporter of traditional, walking zombies, with the focus on the incessant nature of the never-tiring horde instead of the more immediate threat that running zombies deliver. But Nightmare City, the first film to use running zombies, proved to me that they can be just as fun, if not more. Director Umberto Lenzi crafts a film with scene after scene of pure balls-out madness, and the way it all bursts forth and inundates the unsuspecting viewer is incredible fun. One moment I was in tense apprehension for what might be behind that aircraft door, and then WHAM! A fucking horde of mud-faced, bloodthirsty fiends runs out, and the rest of the movie never lets up. The running zombies work here because Lenzi still embraces the overwhelming nature of the horde, while also delivering more fun than I think I’ve ever had with a zombie movie. It’s firmly a B-Movie, though, so many will scoff at its low-budget FX, but I say fuck all that and just have a good time with it!

yourhighness_1Your Highness (2011)
threestar

Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Rasmus Hardiker, Natalie Portman, Toby Jones, Justin Theroux, Zooey Deschanel, Charles Dance, Damian Lewis
Directed by David Gordon Green

Not sure how to review this one because it’s the kind of movie you pretty much know how you’ll feel about it before you watch it. If you liked Eastbound & Down and you’ve come on a quest for more Danny McBride to put in your head, Your Highness is a hoot. It helps if you also have an affinity for ’80s movies, specifically ’80s fantasy flicks like Beastmaster or Conan the Barbarian. If you’re not that person, I can’t imagine this being anything close to entertaining. But for me, I’m firmly in the first group, so I really enjoyed seeing Danny McBride in a fantasy setting. The ’80s-style CG lightning was also a quick way to my heart, but I think the perverted, Yoda-like Wise Wizard, brought to life by a puppet, really sealed the deal. Where a lot of ’80s throwbacks just feel like modern movies, Your Highness actually gets the spirit of ’80s sword-and-sorcery movies down pat, and it’s got more than its share of hilarity if you’re in the right frame of mind.

foot_fist_way_xlgThe Foot Fist Way (2006)
threestar

Starring Danny McBride, Mary Jane Bostic, Ben Best, Spencer Moreno, Carlos Lopez, Jody Hill, Ken Aguilar, Collette Wolfe
Directed by Jody Hill

Your Highness got me in the mood for some more Danny McBride, which naturally led me to The Foot Fist Way. McBride plays a Tae Kwon Do instructor that is every bit the foul-mouthed blowhard you’d expect him to be. The character is not as defined as McBride’s Kenny Powers role on Eastbound & Down, but you can clearly see the beginnings of that idea in The Foot Fist Way. Fans will definitely enjoy this one, but as this is the roughest of the McBride films, it’s not one to show everybody. Of course, I love me some martial arts, so the parody of that environment and the characters that inhabit it hit very solidly with me.

Girls in Prison (1994)

girlsinprison_2Starring Missy Crider, Anne Heche, Ione Skye, Bahni Turpin, Miguel Sandoval, Nicolette Scorsese, Jon Polito, Nestor Serrano, Richmond Arquette

Directed by John McNaughton

Expectations: None.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Girls in Prison immediately announces itself as a schlocky, camp-driven film, and on that front it definitely delivers. It is a pastiche of the pantheon of prison films made over the years, perhaps most obviously the popular B-Movie “Women in Prison” films. I honestly haven’t seen any of those, so I can’t say for sure, but it’s pretty obvious, right? It’s gotta be. Anyway, as long as you’re OK with a lighthearted, B-Movie visit to the Big House, Girls in Prison is fine entertainment.

Our story begins like a fairy tale as the words, “Once upon a Time” come on-screen. We are sequentially introduced to three girls who do something to land them in the slammer. The whole tone is satirical, though, so even though people are getting literally stabbed in the back or beaten to death with a hammer, it brings a smile to your face because of the ridiculous nature of the acts. The film heightens reality in such a way that the fairy tale allusion makes total sense, too. This is clearly not meant to be our everyday world; it is a fantasy set in the realm of the B-movie.

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