Ravenwolf Towers (2016)

Starring Shiloh Creveling, Evan Henderson, Maria Olsen, Michael Citriniti, George Appleby, Sonny King, Jesse Egan, Rosemary Brownlow, Arthur Roberts, Robert Cooper, Nihilist Gelo, William Paul Burns, Tarashai Lee

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Not much. Perhaps a variation on the Evil Bong store format.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Usually I try to keep up with the latest offerings from Full Moon, but Ravenwolf Towers slipped through the cracks. It originally debuted as an episodic series in December 2016, with new episodes to be released every subsequent full moon. My intentions were to review the complete series, like I did with Trophy Heads, their previous episodic release, but Full Moon stopped releasing new episodes after the third came out in February 2017. For a while I assumed they were just behind schedule — it happens to the best of us — so I continued to wait, and in November 2017 they released a feature-length version combining the three released episodes. My intentions were to review it ASAP, but then I got behind schedule myself and now here we are in the latter half of June 2018 and I’m finally reviewing Ravenwolf Towers. Why do I relate this long-winded history of putting off Ravenwolf Towers? Well… because Ravenwolf Towers is fantastic, a real achievement for Full Moon, and I’m sorry I ever waited to watch it. I imagine there are others who were similarly waiting to watch it, and I hope by relating my story I might get people off the fence and onto their favorite Full Moon streaming platform to watch it!

Ravenwolf Towers takes place in the titular building, a rundown hotel in Hollywood that’s been around since at least the 1920s. Jake (Evan Henderson) is hired on as an assistant manager, and things get weird before he even has a chance to settle in. The entire top floor is leased by a single family, access to this floor is only available via a special key to the elevator, and the family is not to be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. Ivan Ivanoff (George Appleby) — a character from the Decadent Evil movies and, most recently, Puppet Master: Axis Termination — rents a room and pays cash to avoid the standard forms and questions. His presence suggests a supernatural evil is afoot, but perhaps a better clue is the deformed monstrosity of a man who hides in a wardrobe and rips off a man’s arm during the film’s intro! 🙂

Continue reading Ravenwolf Towers (2016) →

Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017)

Starring George Appleby, Tonya Kay, Paul Logan, Kevin Scott Allen, Tania Fox, Alynxia America, Lilou Vos, Daniele Romer, Kyle Devero, Allen Perada, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Kip Canyon, Rob Vardaro

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Women, Six Shooter, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremacht

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If I remember right, sometime around the release of the last Puppet Master movie, 2012’s Axis Rising, Charles Band announced that Full Moon would give the people what they want and deliver a new Puppet Master film every year. They do it with the Evil Bong films, but with Puppet Master I thought it was an especially ambitious claim. It is one they did not make good on, but given the attention paid to the production of Puppet Master: Axis Termination it definitely ended up better for everyone. Five years is a long time, but a good movie is worth more than five half-ass ones with a meager handful of tepid thrills. So yeah, the new Puppet Master is a fantastic addition to the series.

The story is not the film’s strong point, but I doubt anyone would’ve expected it to be. It’s basically just Toulon’s puppets vs. the Nazi puppets like the previous Axis films, but now with better characters! Not in terms of their depth or anything high-brow like that, more like the vanilla-white couple of Danny (Kip Canyon) and Beth (Jean Louise O’Sullivan) are immediately killed off and replaced with a musclebound soldier (Paul Logan), the dwarf magician Dr. Ivan Ivanov from Decadent Evil (now played by George Appleby) and a voodoo priestess (Alynxia America). The Nazis boast a powerful magician of their own in Sturmbahnfurher Steiner Krabke (Kevin Scott Allen), as well as his boss, the strong-willed puppet master Doktor Gerde Ernst (Tonya Kay). Maybe I’m just rusty with my Puppet Master knowledge, but I don’t ever remember this kind of purely magical stuff in the series, but regardless I loved the flavor it added to the film.

Continue reading Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017) →

Evil Bong 666 (2017)

Starring Mindy Robinson, Sonny Carl Davis, Michelle Mais, Robin Sydney, Jessica Morris, The Don, Bobby Ramos, Caleb Hurst, Orson Chaplin, Tonya Kay, Megan Sage, Samantha McGee, Brooks Davis

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Despite the numbering, Evil Bong 666 is technically the series’ 7th entry, and for my money it’s one of the best Full Moon films in years. I know that isn’t saying a lot because Full Moon’s output has been pretty lackluster for a while, but just in terms of simple entertainment it’s probably the best Bong since Evil Bong 2: King Bong. Of course, your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for the usual stoner logic and antics that fills these films, but I imagine anyone interested enough to read a review of a movie like Evil Bong 666 is on-board, strapped-in and ready to roll.

Evil Bong 666 follows the basic storefront formula of the last few Evil Bong films, but it changes up the energy by replacing the series’ star character, Larnell (John Patrick Jordan), with a new store owner, Lucy Furr (Mindy Robinson). This might seem like a small detail, but it changes the film’s course considerably. Instead of seeing Larnell and/or Rabbit (Sonny Carl Davis) handling a steady stream of customers — something we’ve seen way more than anyone ever needs to — now we have the devious, Satan-loving Lucy Furr taking care of business. It’s a whole new ballgame. It not only breathes life into the store scenes, it packs the bowl for another round. And thankfully, there’s actually not that many store scenes! I’d have preferred another David DeCoteau cameo instead of one of the lamer scenes, but you can’t win them all.

Continue reading Evil Bong 666 (2017) →

Evil Bong: High-5! (2016)

evilbong5Starring John Patrick Jordan, Sonny Carl Davis, Robin Sydney, Amy Paffrath, Mindy Robinson, Jacob Witkin, Chance A. Rearden, Rorie Moon, Circus-Szalewski, K. Harrison Sweeney, Noelle Ann Mabry, David DeCoteau, David Del Valle, Luke Hutchie, Skin Diamond, Adriana Sephora

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Zero. I hope to enjoy myself, though.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


Reviewing the Evil Bong films seems kind of pointless; if you don’t know on your own whether you want to watch the sixth movie in this franchise, you’re probably too high to operate any kind of machinery, heavy or otherwise. Yes, this latest Charles Band joint is another one that will only appeal to their most ardent fans, although I’m sure more than a few bros and doods will stumble upon it on Hulu (where it is available for free!), while looking for a movie to go with their 420 festivities.

Starting my review with, “Hey, this review is pointless!” probably isn’t one of my better decisions, but in the case of Evil Bong: High 5, it’s kind of representative of the experience. I’ll assume you’ve seen all the previous incarnations of this franchise, and therefore will be aware that multiple films in the series have used the “We’re selling stuff in a shop” script formula. Even if you haven’t seen the films, you’ve been to a store and you know the drill. Customer comes in, converses with the clerk and leaves. Repeat. I didn’t like it in Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong, I put up with it in Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong, I grinned and bore it in Evil Bong 420, but with Evil Bong: High 5 I’m drawing the line. What’s even more annoying is that many of the same customers from the other movies come in and have slight variations on their previous encounters. Sigh. I just hope Band doesn’t make the “Evil Bong Retail Quartet” into a quintet, but honestly, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Evil Bong: 666 is going to be. I gotta be honest, these movies are so similar to one another that they all kinda run together for me. If not for my reviews to refer back to, this review would seem a lot less informed! Thanks, former self!

Continue reading Evil Bong: High-5! (2016) →

Hey Look at This! – Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland

Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland is a documentary about Empire International, one of my favorite ’80s B-Movie studios, and it’s currently looking for some funding on Kickstarter. In general I’m not one to write posts about Kickstarters (I’d have A LOT to write about if I was!), but in this case I felt like it was my duty. As you may be aware, I’m years deep into a review series of the entire Empire International/Full Moon/Charles Band catalog. So naturally when a documentary is proposed, focused specifically on the most cinematically interesting period of Band’s career, I’m interested. Oh, and it has “never-before-seen footage, production stills, and rare glimpses at the motion pictures that were in development when the studio was dramatically seized by the bank”? Sounds fantastic!

The Empire years were home to some of the best films that Charles Band had a hand in making, including classics like Re-Animator, Troll and Trancers, as well as lesser-known Silver Emulsion favorites like Ghoulies 1 & 2, Ghost Warrior and Robot Jox. Producing a plethora of varied, imaginative films in just a few years, Empire ended up going bankrupt while still in production on many films. This led directly into the creation of Full Moon at the dawn of the direct-to-video market, as a last chance effort by Band to save his company. These years are ripe with great films, and I imagine the stories about making them are just as great. I mean, as a fan of FX work how can you not get excited by this rare shot from behind-the-scenes of Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond!

9d5f0229d04b4c6edba11599afc232e6_original

I’m specifically interested in the company’s implosion, and I have high hopes that Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland can shed some light on exactly what happened and why. I’ve heard it was due to the ever-growing budget for the amazing stop-motion and FX work on Robot Jox, but I have my doubts that this was the only factor. There were also many films announced, or cancelled somewhere along the line in production that I hope to hear more about, too.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland Kickstarter!

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!

Continue reading Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain (2004) →

Evil Bong 420 (2015)

evilbong420_1Starring Sonny Carl Davis, John Patrick Jordan, Robin Sydney, Amy Paffrath, Mindy Robinson, Sam Aotaki, Rorie Moon, Chance A. Rearden, Michelle Mais, Bobby Ramos, John Karyus

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Evil Bong 420 is the latest entry in the stoner comedy series from Full Moon, and despite the title’s suggestion it’s actually the 5th film in the series. If that angers you or in any way matters to you, I’d say you’re not the right kind of person to check this one out. But if you like your films trashy and stupid, you’ll find a lot to laugh at and enjoy here. In fact, Full Moon has done us all a favor and distilled this one down to a potent 53 minutes of trash (including the credits). Without any of the bullshit that usually clutters up and slows down B-Movies, Evil Bong 420 is nothing but the sweet sticky bud you’ve been jonesin’ for.

Evil Bong 420 focuses on Rabbit (Sonny Carl Davis) and the grand opening of his new bowling alley. It’s not just any bowling alley either, it’s a topless bowling alley! What that translates to in Full Moon speak is “lots of titties,” which usually also means a strip club movie (like Evil Bong) so the bowling alley was a welcome break. It also allowed for a hilarious David DeCoteau cameo, something I’m always happy to see. But don’t get too excited bowling fans, as the bowling alley doesn’t specifically matter to anything in the “plot.” Nope, Evil Bong 420 is yet another in the “some guy runs a shop and people come in” style of plot pioneered and honed over the course of the last couple of Evil Bong sequels. I gotta say, they did it pretty well this time. It feels more natural than it did in the last two films, and I think the shift to Rabbit as the main character helps a lot. The addition of a few beautiful topless women helps, too. This has long been a B-Movie tradition, and it continues to work its magic even in this technological madhouse we call 2015.

Continue reading Evil Bong 420 (2015) →

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