Zarkorr! the Invader (1996)

zarkorr_6Starring Rhys Pugh, De’Prise Grossman, Mark Hamilton, Charles Schneider, Ron Barnes, Dileen Nesson, Torie Lynch, John Paul Fedele, Mike Terner, Robert J. Ferrelli

Directed by Aaron Osborne (with kaiju SFX scenes directed by Michael Deak)

Expectations: I have a bad feeling, but I want it to be good.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


What happens when noted low-budget studio Full Moon puts together a kaiju film? Pure Grade A Grade B entertainment! Don’t believe me? Take the film’s first two scenes as an example. The film opens with a mountain exploding and a giant dinosaur kaiju bursting out from it. As if that’s not enough to launch the film, the monster then stands in front of the gaping hole he made, emitting his Godzilla-like scream while giant balls of fire erupt around him. It reminded me of the ridiculous intros that wrestlers have, and I wished — even before seeing more than two minutes of the movie — that there was a Zarkorr! sequel so this horned behemoth could go claw-to-claw with another fearsome giant (who could have a similar ridiculous intro).

But many B-Movies kick off with a bang, and then leave viewers in the lurch. Not Zarkorr! the Invader! The next scene is a complete change of pace, as we meet our hero: a lowly postal worker. He’s just minding his own business in his apartment when a teenage girl about three inches high materializes onto his kitchen table out of a ball of light. She informs him that he’s been chosen to defeat the beast, the invader from another realm… Zarkorr! the Invader! She leaves him with a few truths about the monster — such as he cannot be harmed by any weapon known to man — and then disappears just as quickly as she appeared. You’re probably wondering why this meek postal worker was chosen and not someone brawny like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here’s where the logic gets a little fuzzy. This guy was picked specifically because he’s the median human; 50% of the world is better suited to the job, and 50% of the world is less well-equipped for the job. So if you were wondering: yes, mediocrity does have its benefits.

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Cellar Dweller (1988)

Starring Debrah Farentino, Yvonne De Carlo, Brian Robbins, Pamela Bellwood, Miranda Wilson, Vince Edwards, Jeffrey Combs, Floyd Levine, Michael Deak

Directed by John Carl Buechler

Expectations: I’m optimistic, but cautious.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


Cellar Dweller tells the story of an ancient demon summoned into a cabin basement by the satanic dabblings of comic book creator Jeffrey Combs. He’s using a Necronomicon-style tome to help him with book ideas and evidently that ain’t a good idea. He draws the monster killing a young female, and before he knows it, an eight-foot-tall monster is behind him murdering a scantily clad screaming girl. This short opening sequence not only sets up the remaining film, but foreshadows most of the rest of the movie.

This film uses the traditional “people stuck in a location” horror motif, but turns it on its head as the people aren’t actually stuck. There’s no bridge/road washed out, no thunderous storm of the century, no evil horde of assaulting monsters on the other side of every door. The people can leave at any time, but inexplicably they never do. This cabin in the woods where they all find themselves (and where Jeffrey Combs had his intro run-in with the monster) is now doing business as “Throckmorton, Institute for the Arts” run by the lone staff member, Mrs. Briggs (The Munster’s Yvonne De Carlo).

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Spellcaster (1992)

Starring Adam Ant, Richard Blade, Gail O’Grady, Harold Pruett, Bunty Bailey, Kim Johnston Ulrich, Michael Zorek, Martha Demson, Traci Lind, William Butler, Michael Deak, Donald Hodson, Marcello Modugno, Dale Wyatt

Directed by Rafal Zielinski

Expectations: Moderate. I’m excited for this, but I don’t think it’ll be good.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


Spellcaster is yet another casualty of the fall of Empire Pictures. Like Robot Jox before it, Spellcaster‘s fate hung in limbo for many years before it finally saw release. The film was originally produced in 1988 and it shows, with the cheesy 80s music video opening the film being the first clue. So don’t be surprised when queuing this up, it never once feels like a horror film from 1992. Four years may not seem like a lot, but in the world of horror films, the differences are night and day.

Spellcaster follows the traditional horror film “people stuck in a location” formula, with these people being brought together by a TV station’s prize giveaway of a trip to an Italian castle and a chance to win a million dollars! The characters here are fun for the most part which counts for a lot, but there’s not enough development of any of them to make you care about the proceedings.

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Arena (1989)

Starring Paul Satterfield, Hamilton Camp, Claudia Christian, Marc Alaimo, Shari Shattuck, Armin Shimerman, Brett Porter, Charles Tabansi, Michael Deak, Jack Carter, William Butler, Grady Clarkson, Dave Thompson, Ken Clark, Diana Rose

Directed by Peter Manoogian

Expectations: Pretty high. Look at that poster!

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


Like a sci-fi fan’s teenage wet dream, Arena successfully combines two of the universe’s most satisfying things, boxing and aliens. Add in a healthy dose of said aliens getting repeatedly punched and kicked in their foam latex faces and we’ve got ourselves a ridiculously fun slice of 1980s high-brow cinema. I can’t ask for much more than that!

Steve Armstrong just isn’t cut out to be a short order cook, but when an alien causes some trouble in the restaurant where he works, Armstrong gives him the old one-two and then throws him out through the front window. In the grand tradition of tough guy movies, he loses his job and proves just how badass he is in one fell swoop. His co-worker, a four-armed dude named Shorty, takes Armstrong in till he can get back on his feet but others have had their interest piqued by Armstrong’s supreme fighting skill.

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