Quick Takes: The Stand, The Wind Rises, Gold Told Me To

the-stand-movie-poster-1994-1020189668The Stand (1994)
twohalfstar

Starring Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Laura San Giacomo, Ruby Dee, Ray Walston, Rob Lowe, Bill Fagerbakke, Peter Van Norden, Ossie Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, Bridgit Ryan, Kellie Overbey
Directed by Mick Garris

Having recently re-read the book, I had to also revisit this. It’s a fair adaptation, about as good as you could hope for from a network TV mini-series of the ’90s. Of course, everything is truncated quite a bit (even at 6 hours long), but its the characters that suffer the most. So much depth is lost in this version, especially with Fran, but it’s still worthwhile for fans of the book looking for a “quick” refresher. I was also disappointed that they ended without including the final scene of the book. Yes, it probably would’ve been more comical than anything else in this version, but that basic idea that “Ka is a wheel,” that this is a struggle that has been and will always continue to go on for all time, is one that feels so integral to King’s work. Oh well… I can hope for this ending in the new version. The CG is also quite dated, but the makeup FX work by Steve Johnson still shines brightly.

TheWindRisesPosterThe Wind Rises [風立ちぬ] (2013)
fourstar

Starring Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto, Masahiko Nishimura, Mansai Nomura, Jun Kunimura, Mirai Shida, Shinobu Otake, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

The Wind Rises is beautiful in every way. It sits apart from the rest of Miyazaki’s work as his most grounded film, which is funny as it’s entirely about flight. What really impressed me was how Miyazaki weaves together the professional and personal lives of real-life aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi. I later found out the personal part of the story was pure fiction, adapted in part from Tatsuo Hori’s 1937 short story The Wind Has Risen, but knowing this doesn’t diminish the film’s power in any way. I was moved to tears by the relationship between Jiro and Nahoko, as I found it oddly similar to my situation as I care for my spouse as she is debilitated further and further by multiple sclerosis. It may not hit you the same way, but The Wind Rises made me appreciate each day just a little more. An absolutely wonderful film for Miyazaki to go out on.

god-told-me-to-movie-1088207586Gold Told Me To (1976)
AKA Demon

threehalfstar

Starring Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Sidney, Sam Levene, Robert Drivas, Mike Kellin, Richard Lynch, Sammy Williams
Directed by Larry Cohen

With a title like God Told Me To, I expected the film to be about a religious nutcase going crazy in some kind of slasher-esque film. God Told Me To is vaguely like that in the first few minutes, but very quickly you realize that there’s a lot more going on here than some simple slasher horror film. In hopes that someone reading this will watch the film, I’m going to remain vague, but know that God Told Me To is a highly ambitious B-Movie that tackles huge issues and largely succeeds. It’s the kind of movie that will require some suspension of disbelief, due to the subject matter and the limited FX work, but those willing to appreciate its power will find much to like. Personally, I think the FX work is perfect and everything the film needed, but I can easily see people nowadays laughing at it “because it’s old.” Their loss. The cinematography is also excellent and vibrant throughout, thanks in part to the brand new Blu-ray from Blue Underground. In any case, if you dig B-Movies, Larry Cohen is one to explore, and God Told Me To is one of the best films I’ve seen from him.

Scanner Cop (1994)

Starring Daniel Quinn, Darlanne Fluegel, Richard Grove, Mark Rolston, Richard Lynch, Hilary Shepard, James Horan, Gary Hudson, Cyndi Pass, Luca Bercovici, Christopher Kriesa, Savannah Smith Boucher, Ben Reed, Brion James, Elan Rothschild

Directed by Pierre David

Expectations: Moderate, but hopeful. Anything with a “______ Cop” title is usually worth a watch.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


I didn’t expect much going into Scanner Cop. As the fourth entry in the Scanners series of unrelated films, I figured they were probably fairly close to the bottom of the barrel. There are lots of cop movies from around this time, so I figured Scanner Cop was just another in a long line of clichéd cop movies (even if the naming convention of “______ Cop” always gets me excited for a movie). It is clichéd, without a doubt, but you can’t discredit the fact that Scanner Cop is actually a pretty damn good movie. It gets two key things right: amazing FX work by none other than unsung genre hero (and one of my favorite FX artists) John Carl Buechler, and a killer story. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t always up to par with the premise, featuring inventive lines such as “My men are dying! It’s a war out there!” populating a lot of the film’s cop dialogue exchanges. All of that is a moot point as the wild inventiveness of the situations take hold of your soul and never let go.

Consider the opening scene. A man, obviously a scanner, crashes through his dingy apartment looking for his medication. His young son looks on in fear as his father gets more and more outraged at his inability to find his pills. The father locks himself in the bathroom and while looking at his haggard face in the mirror, small human faces start pushing themselves out from his forehead. If that doesn’t sell you on Scanner Cop, then you’re beyond hope. I was howling with laughter, I was cringing in horror, I was abso-fucking-lutely riveted.

Continue reading Scanner Cop (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.

Continue reading Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Starring  Mil Máscaras, Jeffrey Uhlmann, Willard E. Pugh, Richard Lynch, Gary Ambrosia, Kurt Rennin Mirtsching, Melissa Osborn, Marco Lanzagorta, El Hijo del Santo, Blue Demon Jr.

Directed By Jeff Burr, Chip Gubera


 

Wait… what?!?!

That was my initial reaction after hearing that Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy was a film that even existed. This is the 21st century. What crazy-ass, pagan-tinged astronomical event caused a Lucha Libre film to sneak out of the collective cinematic well in the year 2007? That alone would have been enough to set my head spinning, but Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy is an English language film!… made not in the crowded alleys of Mexico City, but by a bunch of stuffy engineering students from Columbia University… in Missouri! That sounds about as Mexican as a stiff Earl Grey with a stack of crumpets.

With that much working against it, I had virtually no hope for this film. None whatsoever. But preconceived notions are a bitch, and can really rob you of some of life’s best moments if you let them get in the way. Not only is Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy one of the best lucha films I have ever seen, but it is one of the greatest examples of cinematic homage ever produced. Directors Jeff Burr and Chip Gubera have forged one of the most passionate love letters to a cinematic sub genre I have ever seen. Their knowledge and familiarity with the genre shines through in virtually every frame. These guys are true fans who have picked up on every subtle nuance and convention in lucha cinema and simply ran with them… often times to insanely amusing extremes.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007) →

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,593 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages

Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films
The Drug Addict (1974)
7-Man Army (1976)
Superman (1987)
Bewitched (1981)
The Spiritual Boxer (1975)
Top 10 1976--1977 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films
The Enchanted Chamber (1968)