Goobers! (1997)

Goobers! (1997)
AKA Mystery Monsters

Starring Ashley Tesoro, Tim Redwine, Caroline Ambrose, Sam Zeller, Daniel Hartley, Michael Dennis, Michael Citriniti, Tom Thomson

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: None.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

When I picked up Goobers! from the Redbox kiosk, I did so with a resigned attitude. As I venture through all of these Full Moon features, so many of them are less than awesome and so far their films for kids (under the Moonbeam label) have been some of the more trying entries in the series. Before I watched Goobers!, I tried looking it up on IMDB and quickly found out that the film had been released before under the title Mystery Monsters. It had apparently been a Blockbuster exclusive release and was edited down to a paltry fifty-three minutes. So at long last in 2012, Full Moon has unleashed these mystery monsters onto the unknowing public in their uncut, eighty-one minute glory. While you might expect this to lead to a film filled with fat that needs to be trimmed, Goobers! is anything but. It remained funny and entertaining throughout for this B-Movie fan, and if you’re similarly minded I think you’ll enjoy it as well.

The film opens with the taping of the hit kid’s program, Cap’n Mike’s Goobers Show! Tommy is the new kid on the set, and his curiosity about special FX and puppets leads him to question how the goobers are manipulated and created. He is told in no uncertain terms to mind his own business, but ever the intrepid sleuth, Tommy bores a hole in his dressing room wall with a pocket knife (don’t try this at home, kiddos!) and observes Mike and the goobers playing poker and smoking together. Mike is anything but kind to the goobers and keeps them locked in the magical trunk he stole from the evil Queen Mara.

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Deadly Stingers (2003)

Starring Nicolas Read, Marcella Laasch, Sewell Whitney, Sarah Megan White, Jay Richardson, Stephen O’Mahoney, Trent Haaga, Lilith Stabs, Brinke Stevens

Directed by J.R. Bookwalter

Expectations: None. Films that don’t get released usually don’t get released for a reason.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

I don’t have the full story, but from what I gather Deadly Stingers is an unreleased Syfy Channel production with some involvement from what then constituted the Full Moon company. For some reason, it was never shown or released in the US, but it did find a home on television in the UK. While I’d love to say that you’ve been done wrong once again by the man, and Deadly Stingers is a holy grail for killer scorpion aficionados, I’m unable– ah who am I kidding? If you’re a killer scorpion fiend (and you don’t mind that these killer scorpions are mutants grown to human size), then you need to watch Deadly Stingers. I’m not an expert, but I’m sure it’s pretty safe to say that this is a fairly untapped sub-genre.

Deadly Stingers is exactly the sparsely scripted, low-budget horror schlock you’d expect it to be, but it is made with enough style and fun that it overcomes all the odds stacked against it. This is a traditional small town horror film, where a group of people are separated and have to do their best to fend off the fearsome creatures assaulting the town. But when I say small town horror, don’t expect anything nearly as funny and entertaining as James Gunn’s Slither. This is on a completely different scale.

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Mother’s Day (2012)

Editor’s Note: The film was completed in 2010 and shown at various events, but was never able to secure distribution. It received a theatrical release in the UK in 2011, before finally being released in the states on May 4, 2o12 (in limited theatrical markets) and May 8, 2012 (on DVD/Blu-Ray). IMDB lists it as a 2010 film, but I went with the official US release date of 2012.

Starring Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Patrick John Flueger, Warren Kole, Deborah Ann Woll, Briana Evigan, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo, Lisa Marcos, Matt O’Leary, Lyriq Bent, Tony Nappo, Kandyse McClure, Jessie Rusu, Jason Wishnowski

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Expectations: None. I hate remakes, but this one might be interesting.

I never expected this Mother’s Day to be as good as the original. I also never expected this Mother’s Day to completely dispose of the original’s plot. This film is the definition of a loose remake, using only a few characters and situations from the original and then going hog-wild with home invasion tension and torture from there. Really wasn’t expecting that. It actually works out for me, because watching two versions of the same movie back-to-back could get a bit draining. But expectations and comparisons to the original aside, I can’t say that this film is anything I’d classify as quality entertainment, or quality horror, in that it follows the modern path of the Saw films by making the horror come from what you might be forced to do to survive. It should then come as no surprise to find out that the director of this remake is Darren Lynn Bousman, previously responsible for directing Saw IIIV.

As I hinted at, the story here is a very simple, home invasion hostage situational with dashes of Saw sprinkled in here and there. Two girls interrupt the villains at the ATM? They’re given a knife and thirty seconds to decide who will kill the other to survive. Similar situations happen several times throughout the movie, and while they are never as premeditated and wild as the ones in Saw, they are awfully contrived, especially if you’re aware of the director’s earlier work going into the film (like I was). Apparently this is what passes for horror nowadays, although I refuse to accept it. These types of films and situations come directly out of the reality show obsessed culture, where each week millions watch as friend becomes enemy. In the 80s we were scared of the dark. Now we’re scared of what my friend will do to me if given the chance. Is it just me, or is American culture getting too goddamned paranoid?

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The St. Francisville Experiment (2000)

Starring Madison Charap, Troy Taylor, Ryan Larson, P.J. Palmer, Tim Baldini

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: I hate Blair Witch, so a rip-off probably isn’t much better.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

“I love all the ghosts.”

That is one character’s protective mantra throughout the film and it became mine as I tried valiantly to remain conscious through the film’s running time. The funny thing though is that I actually enjoyed watching The St. Francisville Experiment for the most part, it’s just that so little happens and the characters are far too uninteresting to make for an overall pleasing film. So why would I enjoy watching something like this? Well, because I’m a cinematic masochist of course, but besides that if you buy into it just enough it’s pretty easy to have fun with it. I can imagine a group of thirteen-year-old girls renting this for a slumber party and having an absolute ball.

The premise here is simple: there’s a haunted mansion and a film producer has rounded up four college students to go in with cameras and try to document some ghost activity. Everything is presented as if it were a real documentary; there are no opening credits and the film is all shot on handheld video cameras. Anyone that actually watches the movie shouldn’t be fooled past ten or fifteen minutes in, but at least initially it does a good job of selling the documentary “found footage” idea of the picture. Not that that’s original or anything. This film exists purely to shamelessly rip off the success of The Blair Witch Project. That film dropped the year before and Full Moon and company were quick to spring on its success. From my limited research into the found footage genre, this seems to be the first rip-off released after Blair Witch too, so if that truly is the case, you have to give Full Moon credit for moving faster than anyone else.

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Netherworld (1992)

Starring Michael Bendetti, Denise Gentile, Anjanette Comer, Holly Floria, Robert Sampson, Holly Butler, Alex Datcher, Robert Burr, George Kelly, Mark Kemble

Directed by David Schmoeller

Expectations: Fairly high. Schmoeller has a good enough track record with Tourist Trap and Puppet Master.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Sometimes when a film is able to capture the vibe of a place it creates a film worth talking about. Other times this backfires and we’re left with a film like Netherworld. Shot on location in New Orleans, Louisiana, the film definitely takes on the slow-paced New Orleans vibe, but in a film about a cult turning people into manbirds, a degree of urgency should inform the film. OK, OK, it’s not exactly about manbirds, but Full Moon and director David Schmoeller do try to make you think it is within the first few minutes, when a stone hand adorned with Egyptian runes flies out of a crypt and onto the face of a violent rapist of a man and quickly transforms him into a crude man-sized bird (Think dude with giant cardinal head).

Now, I’d love to tell you that the rest of the film is about the stone hand rampaging around, turning men into hybrid manbirds; the flock eventually rising up against their evil creators. Or maybe an elder manbird taking a newly hatched manbird under his wing and showing him the ropes, training him for his ultimate finale against the evil creator. Nope, sorry. Instead, right after the massive manbird bomb (or egg, if you prefer) is dropped, the film completely, and I mean completely, drops that line of the plot and starts up a brand new one involving a son inheriting his father’s incredible New Orleans mansion.

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Black Eagle (1988)

Starring Sho Kosugi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Doran Clark, Bruce French, Vladimir Skomarovsky, William Bassett, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi, Dorota Puzio, Jan Tríska, Gene Davis, Alfred Mallia

Directed by Eric Karson

Expectations: Sho Kosugi. JCVD. I heard it’s bad, but I gotta see it!

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Hot off the heels of the amazing Bloodsport, Jean-Claude Van Damme landed the main villain role in this Sho Kosugi vehicle, and regardless of whatever flaws the film has, it definitely delivers on the schoolyard playground promise of “Sho vs. JCVD!” They face off a few times throughout the film, with two major battles occurring during the closing half hour. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but Black Eagle is the type of movie that doesn’t lend itself much to beating around the bush.

Basically a low-budget version of the James Bond film Thunderball (but with better underwater sequences… fuck Thunderball‘s torturous underwater filmmaking), Black Eagle sees Sho Kosugi as the title character: a covert CIA operative capable of fucking up any evildoers holiday plans. An experimental plane went down off the coast of Malta and even though it’s Sho’s scheduled family vacation time, they force him to do the job. How does the U.S. government do that exactly? By picking up his kids and flying them directly into harm’s way in Malta, and then using their presence there to force him into a position where he has no choice but to agree, that’s how! Stand up guys those CIA suits. Of course, he’s not the only one looking for the plane, and this is where JCVD and all the requisite Russian baddies come from. It’s the Cold War as told through a mediocre James Bond rip-off starring two of the screen’s favorite Western martial arts stars.

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Josh Kirby… Time Warrior: Chapter 5, Journey to the Magic Cavern (1996)

Starring Corbin Allred, Jennifer Burns, Derek Webster, Barrie Ingham, Matt Winston, Nick De Gruccio, Cindy Sorenson, Michael Hagiwara, Lomax Study, Mihai Niculescu

Directed by Ernest D. Farino

Expectations: Low. I kinda just want to be done with these, so anything more than absolute shit will be a win in my book.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Once again I find myself before my computer wondering just what I can write about a Josh Kirby film. I can say that at least this film is a definite improvement from the poor results of Part 3 and Part 4, but it’s still incredibly slow-paced and boring. That’s pretty much the Full Moon modus operandi though, stretching out every dialogue sequence and adding in about twice as many expository exchanges than there needs to be. Whatever, by this point in my trek through every one of the Empire International/Full Moon films I’m no longer surprised by this, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to sit through.

So at the end of Part 4 (and replayed here for our “enjoyment”), Josh Kirby and his buddies mysteriously transport to an unknown location because one of them puts the Nullifier back together in the wrong order. This leads them to another piece of the Nullifier, but soon after they fall through a crevice in the Earth. Once they get up and dust themselves off, they see a bunch of human size mushrooms all around them and Asabeth, claiming these are delicacies on in her homeland, quickly bites off a piece of one and enjoys. These aren’t your average six-foot mushrooms though, they’re alive! And poisonous! So Asabeth is pretty much out of commission for the movie and our heroes must venture to into the lair of The Muncher with the help of the mushroom people in order to rescue Puffball, the mushroom with the spores which act as antidote for the poison. Get all that?

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