Micro Mini Kids (2001)

Starring Chad Gordon, Kyle Chaos, Jessica Taylor, Debra Mayer, Sam Page, Lauren Petty, Robert Donavan, George Cost, Tyler Anderson, Rhett Fisher, Colin Bain

Directed by Bruce McCarthy

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Micro Mini Kids was one of Full Moon’s final kid-focused productions, and it’s a shame because it’s actually one of the good ones! The performances are fun and the characters are oddly well-defined (relatively speaking in terms of Full Moon). The FX sequences are also imaginative and enchanting (despite the seams being quite apparent at times). And probably most importantly in a film directed at kids, it teaches a nice double lesson of learning to accept yourself as you are, and that you shouldn’t assume you know what other people are thinking. The major stumbling point is that it’s very formulaic so the ending is obvious once the pieces are in place, but this doesn’t matter so much because the journey is fun.

Micro Mini Kids was started under the direction of the prolific David DeCoteau, but according to the IMDB trivia he left after only four days of production. Regardless of this, the film feels more like a DeCoteau film than anything else. The movie is credited to Bruce McCarthy but as soon as I saw the bodyguard duo in shades and black vinyl I knew DeCoteau was lurking around somewhere in the film’s development. No one ends up in their underwear, though; a clear sign that DeCoteau did not complete the film. 😀

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Alien Arsenal (1999)

alienarsenal_6Alien Arsenal (1999)
AKA Alien Weapons

Starring Josh Hammond, Danielle Hoover, Michele Nordin, Krisztián Kovács, Jerrod Cornish, William Vogt, Riley Smith, Dominic Catrambone, Stephanie Mennella, Chris Olivero, Robert Donavan, Brenda Blondell

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Pretty boys in their underwear with varying levels of acting quality? Must be time for another David DeCoteau film! Alien Arsenal is a loose remake of Laserblast, one of my favorite Full Moon films. Generally I’m against remakes, but Laserblast is the kind of movie that could definitely use some improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I love it just how it is, but it’s the ultimate “Let’s roll with this movie’s inherent shittiness and have a good time” movie. Sure, Laserblast has a massive amount of slo-mo explosions LASERBLASTS, blowing up everything from popcorn machines to bullies driving hot rods, but you have to wade through a river of shit to get to them.

For the most part, Alien Arsenal does a good job of taking Laserblast and applying a plot to the general premise. That’s right, Laserblast is largely a plotless film, strung together by nothing more than teenage rage and fiery explosions. Alien Arsenal retains the premise of a bullied teen acquiring an alien weapon, but the whys and the hows are much more than, “He finds it in the desert.”

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Murdercycle (1999)

Murdercycle (1999)
AKA Mörderbike

Starring Charles Wesley, Cassandra Ellis, Robert Donavan, Michael Vachetti, Robert Staccardo, William Vogt, Dane Northcutt, David A.R. White

Directed by Tom Callaway

Expectations: Pretty high, actually. The cover is incredible, and the title… oh yeah!

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Like all B-Movies, Murdercycle isn’t for everyone. Those that value exciting dialogue exchanges between meaningful characters won’t make it past minute five. Those hoping for a story that is unique and original will need to look elsewhere. Murdercycle is like a melting pot of various sci-fi ideas all rolled into… something. I’m not going to tell you that this is some hidden gem that rises above its poor budget to deliver something worthwhile for the average viewer. What I will tell you is that it does deliver some ridiculous, low-budget action, and if that’s all you’re expecting, it will entertain.

Murdercycle takes its inspiration from the Shakespeare classic, King Lear, which, coincidentally, also had the tagline “Alien Death Machine” on its original posters. Little known fact. Anyway, one night at some long-forgotten government installation, a meteor slams into the ground near an unsuspecting dirt biker and before he knows it, the meteor has busted open and a black symbiotic being (much like Venom) latches onto his body and the body of his dirt bike, thus turning them into the Murdercycle! Now that’s what I call entertainment!

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Stitches (2001)

Starring Elizabeth Ince, Robert Donavan, Kaycee Shank, Lindy Bryant, Marc Newburger, Alex Peabody, Debra Mayer, Maggie Rose Fleck

Directed by Benjamin Carr

Expectations: Low, this era of Full Moon is always a sticky proposition.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If you were to chart the course of Full Moon’s history, the early 2000s would be the lowest point on the entire graph. It was when Full Moon was all but dead, going from 19 films released in 1999 to one in 2004. Somehow they managed to rally around The Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong, resurrecting the company into the thriving beast it is today. 2012 marks the first year since 2003 to have more than three releases, and while none of this is specifically related to Stitches, it does play into my expectations going into it. See, because I’m familiar with Full Moon’s history I always start films of this era with trepidation. So imagine my surprise when Stitches stepped up to the plate and delivered one of the best Full Moon films to date.

The rating above might not reflect that, due to some incredible dropping of the ball that happens throughout the film’s second half, but even these mishaps didn’t diminish my feelings about this movie. It’s good, surprisingly so, and while I don’t think mainstream audiences would enjoy it, it’s definitely a diamond in the rough for hardy Full Moon fans looking for something a little different than the average fare from the company. The story is quite simple: a demon wearing the skin of a friendly old lady arrives at a boarding house in the 1920s and systematically tricks the inhabitants into willingly surrendering their souls to her.

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Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

curse-of-the-puppet-master-movie-poster-1020540866Starring George Peck, Emily Harrison, Josh Green, Michael D. Guerin, Michael Sollenberger, Marc Newburger, Scott Boyer, Jason Dean Booher, Robert Donavan, Jason-Shane Scott

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Six Shooter, Matt, Tank

Directed by David DeCoteau (as Victoria Sloan)

Expectations: Pretty low after the last one.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


After the abysmal Puppet Master 5, Charles Band wisely gave the series a few years off before coming out with film number six, Curse of the Puppet Master. It’s a definite improvement in the trajectory of the franchise, returning to the basic suspense / horror framework from the initial three films. Curse of the Puppet Master is not without its share of problems though, but thankfully they don’t detract from the fun too much as long as you’re willing to just roll with them.

It all starts on a dark and stormy night (really, it does) as a shadowy figure that looks like André Toulon shuffles past our puppet friends who are imprisoned in a large cage. He carries a medicine bag into the forest and then sets it on fire. It’s clear that something just isn’t right about all of this, but you’ll just have to stew in it a while longer before all the chips are in hand. If I give away too much of the story, the whole she-bang will unravel because this plot has been around the block more times than a French whore. As I’ve said before though, if they are able to fill in the gaps with good FX and quality filmmaking, I’m game every day of the week. Director David DeCoteau keeps the film fresh with some clever shots and atmospheric lighting, resulting in a film that provides enough fun to satisfy long-time fans, as well as introduce newcomers to the puppets and their unique brand of mayhem.

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Trancers 6: Life After Deth (2002)

Starring Zette Sullivan, Jennifer Capo, Robert Donavan, Timothy Prindle, Jere Jon, Jennifer Cantrell, Ben Bar, James R. Hilton, Kyle O. Ingleman, Gregory Lee Kenyon, Douglas Smith

Directed by Jay Woelfel

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
threestar


Trancers 6 is quite the surprising little movie. Instead of simply being the cash-in I expected it to be, it was pretty damn entertaining and loosely fits into the Trancers time line fairly well. Let’s not mince words here though, Trancers 6 is not for the average viewer. Most people will look at this film with disgust and hurl an endless stream of insults at it. This film is not for them though. It is for the tired, the hungry, the huddled masses of Trancer fans who waited eight long years between installments. By all accounts, the series was over and should have never been resurrected, but thanks to Zette Sullivan’s fun performance, a ridiculous story and some incredibly funny special FX, we’ve got a mostly fun movie on our hands.

In the future, a TCL chamber operator sees into the past and witnesses Jack Deth’s daughter getting murdered. Jack Deth has a daughter? Yes, apparently the kid Helen Hunt has with her in Trancers III was Jack’s. Who knew? Anyway, just like in the first couple of Trancer films, the technician sends Jack Deth down the line to inhabit the body of his ancestor/offspring and save her/his life in the process. Tim Thomerson does not reprise his role, but in one of the most audacious scenes in recent memory, the TCL technician converses with Jack via a television screen playing scenes from the previous Trancers films. What makes this so funny is that Jack’s hair noticeably changed throughout the series, so each response from Jack features a new hairstyle and setting. Boy, that Jack Deth sure gets around. It’s shameless, but I loved it.

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