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)!

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Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice (1988)

curse4_2Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice (1988/1993)
AKA Catacombs

Starring Timothy Van Patten, Ian Abercrombie, Jeremy West, Laura Schaefer, Vernon Dobtcheff, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Brett Porter, Michael Pasby, Mapi Galán, Nicola Morelli

Directed by David Schmoeller

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-movie scale:
onestar


At long last I have arrived at the end of my cursed journey through the unrelated Curse films, and unfortunately for me Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice is the worst of the bunch. The film began life as Catacombs, a 1988 Empire International film that got shelved when the company went under. For reasons I’m not privy to, Catacombs was shelved for five years after it was completed, even though Empire head Charles Band had created Full Moon and become well-established in the meantime. And when it was eventually released it came out as Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice. I suppose that any connection, even one as tenuous as this, to an ’80s horror film that some people like must have made it more “rentable” back in the day.
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Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000 (1994)

8z3GQPbcCZgypBV3PYeVxBOXDmbTest Tube Teens from the Year 2000 (1994)
AKA Virgin Hunters

Starring Morgan Fairchild, Ian Abercrombie, Brian Bremer, Christopher Wolf, Sara Suzanne Brown, Michele Matheson, Don Dowe, Tamara Tohill, Laurel Wiley, Robin Joi Brown

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Pretty low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


From the risque, James Bond-inspired opening titles, to the striptease dream sequence about 30 seconds into the film, you might guess that Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000 is more softcore than sci-fi comedy, and you wouldn’t be totally wrong. Full Moon had an off-shoot company called Surrender Cinema that traded solely in late-night fare for Cinemax and the like (and this film was released by its predecessor company, Torchlight Entertainment), but despite what the jazzy porno music might make you think, this is actually a real movie. Well, one with a few gratuitous, lengthy softcore sex scenes, that is. I had previously removed the softcore films from this series as they don’t offer much traditional movie content, but Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000 is definitely a worthwhile film for review.

The film opens in the year 2019, as a group of teenagers (all born in the year 2000, get it?) do their best to pay attention to their history teacher’s propaganda about how the corporation always knows best and stuff like that. But Vin can’t focus on his studies because the girl in the row in front of him has an ass that just won’t quit. He can’t stop looking at it, and he begins to fantasize about her slowly stripping for him and asking him if he likes what he sees. This leads us into the necessary component to any great sci-fi story: the reveal of what defines the world. In this version of 2019, all sex, as well as lustful thoughts, have been outlawed and all reproduction is performed via test tubes.

Continue reading Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000 (1994) →

Mini-Review: Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003)

Starring (New Footage): Jacob Witkin, Kate Orsini

Starring (Stock Footage): William Hickey, Charlie Spradling, Sage Allen, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie, Aron Eisenberg, Gordon Currie, Chandra West, George Peck, Emily Harrison, Josh Green, Greg Sestero, Brigitta Dau, Stephen Blackehart, Jack Donner

Puppet Cast (New Footage): Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Six Shooter, Tunneler

Puppet Cast (Stock Footage): Egyptian Goblin, Leech Woman, Doctor Death, Drill Sergeant, Cyclops, Retro Blade, Retro Pinhead, Retro Six Shooter, Torch, Decapitron, Tank

Directed by Charles Band (as Robert Talbot)

Expectations: Extremely low, this is Puppet Master 8 and it’s mostly stock footage.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
onehalfstar


Okay, so this film is about 90-95% stock footage from the previous films in the series. This should discredit Puppet Master: The Legacy almost immediately, but wait! Don’t write it off just yet! There are two reasons why you might want to give this one a chance. First, if you’re a big fan you’ll want to see it for Full Moon’s somewhat noble attempt to place all the Puppet Master films in some sort of proper, epic order. Why make the films in your most popular series make sense chronologically the first time around, when you can produce a completely separate compilation film later on to “set things right”? There’s also a small framing storyline that actually ties into the series mythology in a fun, minor way for the hardcore fans, while technically serving this film as a bridge between the sections of stock footage. The other reason to watch this would be if you’ve never seen any of the Puppet Master films, and you have no intention of rooting through seven whole films before getting to this one. The film actually sums up the entirety of the series in a slim runtime just over 70 minutes! That’s either a very impressive editing job or a sad commentary on the amount of interesting story within the Puppet Master series, but I’ll go with the former.

Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s a bunch of stock footage. What else is there to say? The framing story is shaky, but it’s cool to see Evil Bong‘s Jacob Witkin get roped into the Puppet Master franchise in such a fun story twist. Nevermind that they never really explain anything that happens in between the previous films, so even with an entire film devoted to setting things right, there’s still a degree of mystery. I would expect no less from my friends at Full Moon. They also completely avoid any recap or footage from the awful Puppet Master 5, much to my delight.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite moments. During the flashback to Curse of the Puppet Master, they show one of the kills that features some stock footage from Puppet Master II. And then later in this film, they showed the scene from Puppet Master II that contained the shot that was aped for the later sequence in Curse of the Puppet Master. Puppet Master nerd laughs ahoy!

Dumb jokes aside, unless you’re really hardcore for Puppet Master or you want a quick rundown of the series’ greatest hits, watch something other than Puppet Master: The Legacy.

Next week, the Puppet Master-a-thon continues with the made for TV film starring Corey Feldman, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys!

Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991)

Starring Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie, Kristopher Logan, Aron Eisenberg, Walter Gotell, Sarah Douglas, Matthew Faison, Michelle Bauer

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Six Shooter, Egyptian Goblin (cameo)

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: High. Really enjoyed the last two, looking forward to this period entry.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
threestar


Puppet Master III is one of the more ambitious Full Moon pictures, seeking to shed light on puppet master Andre Toulon’s backstory by setting the entire film within 1941’s Nazi-controlled Germany. While it doesn’t always reach the heights it strives for (or even the heights of the previous two films), it still manages to be quite an enjoyable Puppet Master film thanks to a couple of good, inventive death scenes and a fairly interesting story. But know this, not a single puppet gets thrown into a wall during this one, so set your sights accordingly.

The Nazis are attempting to resurrect dead soldiers to use as meat shields, but only achieving very limited results. One of the Nazis attends one of Toulon’s shows, this one depicting a new cowboy puppet with six arms (Six Shooter) taunting and shooting at a puppet of Adolf Hitler. The Nazi confronts Toulon about it and questions him on his methods to make the puppets move without strings. After seeing and photographing some undeniable shit, the Nazi returns to headquarters and the hunt for Toulon and his secrets are on, with the Nazi doctor hoping to adapt the techniques to his work on animating cadavers. He’d probably be more successful hooking up with Dr. Herbert West though.

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