12.16.2017

80's Thriller Throwback: Heat (1986)

"A tirelessly flawed mediocre thriller that signals the start of Burt Reynolds decline"

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

This mid 80's Burt Reynolds classic has been on my radar for a very long time. I tend to go through Reynolds phases where I'm just enamored with the guy. I know he's a bit of an asshole in real life, but onscreen there's just something I find so fascinating about him. He's like the quintessential tough older guy to me. Sure he had a nice long run in comedies, but it's his action/thriller's that I always tend to connect more with, with my 3 personal favorites being Stick, Sharky's Machine and Malone (in that order). While neither of them are perfect, they're awesome enough that I can overlook their issues. Let's dig in.

To put it quite frankly, Heat is a mess. I honestly struggled to find any enjoyment out of it because for the most part, I was bored out of my mind. For a film with such an awesome cover like this, there's very little thrills involved. The cool name, misleading cover and stark potential differs greatly from the film we ultimately get, which is more of a drama than anything.

The film starts off promising enough as we see a beautiful woman being dumped from a car, severely bruised, bloody and beaten. We soon learn she is the ex-wife of a local private detective named Mex, a racial nickname since his real last name is Escalante. So everyone in the film just naturally calls him Mex, because he's supposed to be Mexican? I can only guess. She begs Escalante to go and deal with this for her, which he tries to do by pretending to be her pimp in the hopes to finagle her free from whatever grip this slime-ball thinks he has on her. Escalante ultimately makes the situation worse by fighting with this rich Italian kid with ties to the mafia and his 2 muscle-bound bodyguards in the films most hilariously awful fight sequence. Trust me, you'll know what I mean when you see it. This rich kid soon makes life hell for Escalante and it's only a matter of time before they meet again to settle their score.

Sounds interesting, right? But wait. Instead, we're treated to a movie about Escalante's constant headaches (a plot point that goes nowhere), his gambling addictions and the little jobs he takes to make a few extra bucks on the side. So much of the film meanders through pointless and boring storylines that have nothing to do with the original story about the Mafia Rich Kid that you forget that that was the focus of the film in the first place. In fact, it's nearly completely glossed over with other mundane plot points that it doesn't come back into play until the very end of the film, at which point you remembered what the film was originally about. I will admit though, the last 15 minutes of the film kick ass. I'm not gonna lie. I enjoyed this last bit a lot, but then was frustrated when I realized how dull the entire film was until the last 15 minutes. Escalante literally goes to war against the Rich Mafia Kid and his goons and it's awesome. It's just frustrating that you have to wait a full hour and 20 minutes for it to happen.

A few other issues I had were with it's blatant racism. I honestly don't notice it a lot of the time or put much thought into it, but it was so in-your-face here with the constant Hispanic jokes, the frequent racial slurs and just the fact that every single person calls him Mex. It's all very un-PC. Also, the lead actress who plays his ex-wife, Karen Young, was just absolutely dreadful. I couldn't tell what type of accent she was attempting (Southern?), or if she was even trying to. I cringed every second she opened her mouth and of all the frequent changes made during production, I'm shocked that she wasn't one of them.



Ultimately, the mixed bag of different storylines, the painfully dull running time, and the surprising bait-and-switch approach just leaves you frustrated and makes Heat a very weak film overall. While the ending is pretty cool (with a rad stunt involving Burt kicking an overhead lamp engulfing a bad guy in flames), it doesn't save the film. To put it simply, it's too boring for it's own good.

Learning of the films troubled production doesn't surprise me one bit. It's a mess of a film and literally looks like a handful of different directors worked on it, which is actually the case here. Though the legendary Robert Altman was originally slated to direct (I can only imagine how much better it might have turned out had Altman done it), the film changed hands frequently. So who knows how much of each shows up in the actual film. Reynolds actually got into a physical fight with one of the directors, Dick Richards, who successfully sued Reynolds for his broken jaw.

This was the start of the decline for Burt Reynolds in both films and his personal life. Where he was once considered a box office champ, and all of his films hit theaters, this would be the moment where he would alternate frequently between low-budget films to theatrical releases, and a few shows on the side. He would work relentlessly, never taking a year off, often doing many projects in a single year. He would find his biggest success with his TV show Evening Shade between 1990-1994, but continue to star, guest star and cameo in countless projects, both big and small. He would never regain the popularity he once had years earlier, but he would ultimately deliver an Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning performance in Boogie Nights for Best Supporting Actor in 1997, sort of reminding the world that he was still around and still quite good given the right material. Burt Reynolds continues to work tirelessly today. If this experience did anything for me, it's in reminding me that I really need to revisit Stick and Malone, and maybe finally check out Rent-A-Cop for the first time.


12.15.2017

Vintage Toy News; 'The Toys That Made Us' Set to Premiere on Netflix Dec. 22



"The minds behind history's most iconic toy franchise's discuss the rise - and sometimes fall - of their billion-dollar creations"

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

I've been following this page for a short while now and as a vintage toy collector myself, I can say that I'm really, really excited about this new show. From what I gather, the first 4 episodes are set to air on Netflix on December 22, with the remaining 4 airing sometime in 2018 in the hopes that Netflix will order another season. I'm not really sure if each episode will focus on a single toy line or if they will dig into a variety of them, but I do know that they have interviewed not only collectors, but a lot of the people behind the making of them such as toy designers and former employees of some of the biggest companies in the business.

I have to be honest, as much as I couldn't stand the host of Toy Hunter (The Travel Channel), Jordan Hembrough, I do miss it. While he came across as more of a low-balling snake, I loved seeing him find these hidden treasures, some of which I had completely forgotten about for decades, and discovering a few I never knew even existed. It also got me back into the collecting game again, when I had taken a break from it for a very, very long time.

The Toys That Made Us premieres on Netflix on December 22 with 4 episodes, with 4 more soon to follow in 2018. Do your part in supporting this project by watching it, so Netflix knows there are those of us out there that need shows like this. Here's to hoping they'll get renewed for another season.

Unfortunately I couldn't get a trailer as it's only viewable directly from Netflix, which you can watch HERE.

UPDATE
I just spoke to the director and he has confirmed that each episode will focus entirely on a single toy line. 

12.14.2017

Jaws 3-D Review; Relentlessly Mocked, Surprisingly Fun

"Where once again evil giant sharks haunt the Brody family, this time chasing the now adult sons to Sea World!! In eye-popping 3-D!!"

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

When I recently saw the 70's folk horror classic Let's Scare Jessica To Death, it got me to look up the director (John D. Hancock) to see what else he had done. When I learned he was originally hired to direct Jaws 2, and then promptly fired after just a short while, it was all I needed to finally dig into this series of films that before now, I really had no interest in. Jeannot Szwarc (Supergirl) would ultimately replace Hancock on Jaws 2, and it would become another monster hit, and not surprisingly, the first of a string of sequels, and a decrease in quality with each new entry.

I kind of left Jaws 2 feeling it was just the same story all over again. What's more, I was frustrated at the storytelling in general. I won't get into it here, but there were a lot of things I didn't really like about it. But I figured since I made the effort, I might as well keep up the momentum, especially since they're all on Netflix at the moment. I better use the opportunity before they disappeared.

Knowing that Jaws 3D has been pretty much been mocked and derided relentlessly, I was actually looking forward to it. I knew it would be cheesy, I mean, that one clip of the shark smashing through the window is legendary, and if that was any indication, Jaws 3D could potentially be some good 80's cheesy fun. What also sold me was that Jaws 1 and 2 production designer Joe Alves (Escape From New York. Close Encounters of the Third Kind) was making his directorial debut here. I think having someone who had worked on the production of the first 2 films come into this one as a director was a bold, yet smart move. Having worked alongside Spielberg and Szwarc, he brings with him an insiders knowledge which would really be beneficial. I for one was excited to see what he could bring to the table. Plus, I was curious just how "3D" this was going to go. So let's dig in.

I couldn't believe it, but I actually legitimately enjoyed this one. In fact, I enjoyed it far more than the second one. And there are a lot of reasons for that, namely being that I felt Joe Alves did a far better job behind the camera than Jeannot Szwarc did with the sequel. Sure neither of them reach Spielberg level of visuals, but Jaws 3D certainly delivered some solid eye candy in a way that the second one couldn't, which is hard to believe since Szwarc was a far more experienced director and this was Alves one and only stint as a director. It also helps that it's changed locations, which helps a lot here. Changing the location and scenery from Amity to a high-tech Sea World Theme Park via 1983 was an awesome idea. This new theme park, owned and run by a New Orleans investor (who clearly doesn't know the first thing about safety or proper protocol), contains large sections under water where the park visitors can walk through glass tunnels with the aquatic wildlife literally floating all around them. It's a cool concept for an underwater theme park that's made a reality through hilariously awful green-screen effects. But I have to give them props for the idea and execution. A lot of model work was implored for these scenes (especially from the outside looking in) and you have to wonder how great all that would have looked had this film been made just 5 or 10 years later. I'll bet it would have looked badass. But that's just me.

But it's these terrible effects that make this one so enjoyable for me, in a cheesy 80's sort of way, which is usually the best kind of cheese. I mean, you just can't take it seriously to begin with, right? Just the idea alone (a different monster shark murdering people in each film) is silly, but throwing in the 3D angle (which, when you actually watch the film, is totally unnecessary), and the change of location to Sea World really steps it up several notches to cheesy awesome.



They ultimately tie this entry with the previous films by making the Brody kids from the first two entries the main adult characters here. Yes, that's right. Mike and Sean Brody are all grown up and working at Sea World in some other part of the U.S., to escape the memories of what happened to them many years earlier. Only, there's another giant shark, and she's snuck into the Sea World facility with her babies, and she's angry. I'm telling you, this just keeps getting better and better. Seriously, complain all you want about the quality of this film, but you can't say that it's not fun. Because it is. If nothing else, it's fun and for me, the most entertaining of the bunch. I haven't checked out Jaws 4: The Revenge yet though, so you never know.

Aahh, the year of 3D. What a year 1983 was. Do you remember? I sure do. Sure we've had 3D pop in and out of pop culture for many, many decades, but 1983 was really the defining year for that little niche market. That year saw a flurry of 3D marketed films, some successful, most not, so naturally the producers, or the studio (not sure which) wanted to ride that wave of success and popularity following the footsteps of films like Amityville 3-D, Metalstorm 3-D, Spacehunter 3-D, Treasure of the Four Crowns 3-D, and not to mention Friday the 13th Part 3: 3-D just the year before. Only, director Joe Alves did not want to go that route. His protests fell on deaf ears and the powers that be demanded it, and so Alves was forced to include 3D shots into the film, and it's painfully obvious that this film was not meant to be in 3D. For starters, they are very few and far between (I can only imagine the annoyance of having to wear those glasses for large chunks of the film that feature zero 3-Dimensional effects), and with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 shots, you just don't get the sense that the whole 3D angle was on the forefront of this film's production. With that being said, the big money-shots (albeit less than a handful) are pretty laughable with the main image (pictured above) of the shark crashing through the window of an underwater structure being the defining moment of bad effects and bad 3D of this era. And just wait till the last 3D moment. It's........awfully good. Despite this popular cash-in, the film still manages to be loads of fun from start to finish, and that's a major feat all in itself.



Now, I wanted to quickly point out a few things I loved about this, even if it only furthers my case that it's cheese. The shark, for whatever reason, growls under water. In the third act, every time it's shown on screen or makes its appearance, it lets out a tiger-like growl and it's so dumb, but also awesome. I loved that stupid decision. There was also a moment about halfway through where the shark surprises someone underwater and eats him. This time though, director Joe Alves shoots most of this sequence from the perspective of inside the sharks mouth and it was freaking killer! I'd never seen that before. The camera is inside the mouth looking out while it's chomping down on a human body with blood flowing everywhere and it kind of blew my mind.

I also really loved the underwater model work. Taken out of the 3D concept, it's pretty impressive. You can't help but wonder how great this could have been had it had some much better composite shots. The cast is also pretty solid. I've always loved Dennis Quaid. The guy can do pretty much anything, and the New Orleans investor played by Louis Gossett Jr. is the antagonist the story needs to drive so many of the dumb decisions along, so that the shark can do what she needs to do, which is eat each and every human she sees. Bess Armstrong (My So-Called Life) probably walks away the most liked here, being strong, confident, brave, smart and cute. 



It's a pitty that Joe Alves never directed again. His work here far surpasses Jeannot Szwarc's ability behind the camera and given the material, he did a better job than you would have expected. It's not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it sure is one helluva fun one. Shut off your brain and enjoy this slice of 80's cheesy goodness. In 3D or not, it doesn't make a bit of difference. It's still fun either way.

12.13.2017

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III Coming to Blu-Ray via Warner Archive

"Warner Archive digs deep into their vaults for this forgotten sequel that is better than people give it credit for, in a much-needed upgrade"

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

Yes, you read that right. Warner Archive just announced that this often dismissed 90's classic will be getting the Blu-Ray treatment next year as part of their ever-growing Warner Archive Collection line. No word yet on whether it will be the Theatrical or Uncut version, but if memory serves me right, there are several alternate, rough cuts and workprint versions out there in various formats in different regions. The U.S. DVD claims to be Uncut, but doesn't really feel like it. If it is, the additions are incredibly minor because most importantly, there's still no gore in it.

Regardless of whether it's the Theatrical or Uncut version, a Blu-Ray upgrade will be a very welcome addition to any Chainsaw Massacre collection. I know this one tends to get more flack than any of the other ones, which really blows my mind since I honestly cannot stand Part 2.....at all. I do know though that I'm in the minority with that sentiment. I know Part 2 has a huge fan base. I just don't get it. I mean, there are things I do like about it, like Savini's effects work, Tobe Hoopers solid camerawork, and the production design. Oh, and the score was killer too. But it just annoys the fuck out of me. I can't get into it. So Leatherface was a nice surprise for me. It's dark, brooding, intense and Jeff Burr shot it really, really well. Probably better than it deserved and may be his most visually and technically best picture to date. More so, it's my personal favorite of the entire series, and the one I pop in more than any of the others. But that usually tends to be how it works with me. I usually end up loving the sequel that nobody likes more than any of the others. Sure there's virtually zero gore (it all happens off camera), but what it lacks in the gore department, it makes up for in style and atmosphere. I know I'll definitely be adding this to my collection. Will you??

No word yet on any supplemental material or release date, other than it's slated for 2018. I'm also assuming that in keeping with their current trend, they'll stick to the original poster art. I'll post any updates as soon as I learn of any. I, for one, am pretty excited to get to see this in an upgraded HD transfer.


12.12.2017

A Second Look: Licence to Kill

"Timothy Dalton's second stab at 007 offers a more brutal, violent and sinister James Bond film than we'd ever seen before"

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK) 

By the time Roger Moore did A View to a Kill in 1985, it was painfully obvious that he was getting too old for the role of James Bond. Moore would take on the role of 007 a total of 7 times, and some feel that it was 7 too many. For me personally, Moore is the James Bond I grew up with. Having been born in the mid 70's, his films were the ones I remember growing up and I guess in a sense, he will always be "my" James Bond. As I get older, I revisit or check some of them out for the very first time, and having lived through 4 different Bond's so far, his take was certainly a more tongue-in-cheek approach compared to the others. I can also admit that some of his films just aren't all that great, or even good. A View to a Kill, his swan song, was undoubtedly a big let down for myself and many fans. It had so much potential, and had so much going for it with it's killer Duran, Duran theme song, Christopher Walken as the villain, Grace Jones as the villainess May Day, the sultry Tanya Roberts as that films Bond Babe, and even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Dolph Lundgren (then an unknown and Grace Jones boyfriend) as a bodyguard. Yet it was saddled by too much talking and not enough action or thrills. In short, it was boring and for a film made in '85, it's a bit of a shock it turned out so badly, especially since it was Roger Moore's final performance in the role.

The producers took some time to re-evaluate and figure out where and how to proceed, and one of the frontrunners was Welsh actor Timothy Dalton, who most would remember as Prince Baron from Flash Gordon. Though Pierce Brosnan was actually hired for the role, his contract with Remmington Steele wasn't quite done (though the series had technically finished) - another studio decided to give it another season at the last possible minute, shattering his ambition to finally take on the role he so desperately craved. Considering how the next 2 Bond films performed, some would argue that it was a blessing in disguise. When Dalton stepped in and took on the role, he wanted to go back to the basics of what made Bond so intriguing in the first place and stray from the humor that Moore had brought to the character. Primarily, Dalton wanted to go back to Ian Flemming's books, and portray him the way Flemming had written him on paper. Dalton's approach would be more subdued, and dead serious. No jokes, and very little of bedding women. He had work to do, and work was what would be the most important to him. This new serious take on the character was a bit jarring for filmgoers who had grown accustomed to Roger Moore's more "wink in the eye" portrayal for 11 years. Still, there were those that felt Dalton was a welcome addition to the franchise and when The Living Daylights hit theaters, it was successful enough (the truth is that it's the best James Bond movie ever made), prompting them to move forward with Licence to Kill. 



When Licence to Kill premiered in the summer of 1989, nobody knew, including the films producers and distributors, that releasing a big film in the summer of 1989 (the first certified summer of the blockbusters) would be a death sentence. 1989 saw the release of massive box office blockbusters such as Ghostbusters II, Lethal Weapon II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and most importantly, Tim Burton's Batman among a large list of hits. And because of this, Licence to Kill got lost in the shuffle and was forgotten as quickly as it had premiered. It was also big departure for the character and franchise. In this one, Bond goes rogue after the attempted assassination of his partner and unfortunate murder of his partner's wife at the hands of Mexican drug kingpin Franz Sanchez (a legendary Robert Davi). When Bond disobey's orders to leave it alone, he's stripped of his status and decides to go after Sanchez personally to kill him. This time out, 007 was out for revenge. And it's with this that Licence to Kill ultimately became the most violent (up to this point) and first PG-13 rated film in the franchise. This may also have been too shocking or surprising for most Bond fans too, which would explain it's lackluster performance. While it didn't bomb, it didn't make hardly anything over it's original budget either, and because of this, the franchise lay dormant for 6 years before the massive hit Goldeneye in 1995, this time with Pierce Brosnon. During the 6 year hiatus, Dalton had already made the decision not to return to the role, opening it up for their original choice of Brosnon.

When I watched Licence to Kill a few months ago when I was hitting the Bond films pretty hard thanks to Hulu Plus, I liked it, but I didn't love it. I'm not really even sure why exactly. It was good, and the cast is phenomenal. John Glen, returning to the directors chair for the 5th and final time in the James Bond franchise, offers tight visuals and some excellent action. Yet, somehow, it just didn't connect with me. When I look back on it, it may be because I was trying to absorb so many of them in such a short amount of time. And I didn't follow any type of pattern either, instead jumping all over the place from actor and decade. But one thing remained clear. The two Timothy Dalton 007 films were the best I had seen out of all the ones I devoured. Since a few months had passed, I decided to give it another shot. Maybe since I hadn't watched a James Bond film in a while, it would feel different?



The answer is a big fat "YES", and I loved every violent, bloody second of this. This time the film struck a chord, and it was so much better than I remember it being just a few months ago. The dead-serious revenge aspect totally kicks your ass and makes for a far more intense Bond flick than you're expecting, and honestly, it's a far better film than it probably deserves. When you think of the best, most violent and intense Bond films, you're mind doesn't automatically come to the Timothy Dalton era, and that's such a travesty really, because the truth is that they actually are. The Living Daylights is surprisingly the most effective, efficient and most entertaining Bond film ever made. It has it all, and is one of those rare examples of all the right talent falling into place at just the right time. When the producers decided to keep this vibe alive, they took it a few steps further with this next installment. The result might have turned off a few people, but at the same time, the mass audience was still trying to adjust to their new James Bond, after having grown fond of Roger Moore for 11 years. And the industry truth is that it usually takes about 3 films for people to get accustomed to a new Bond and for that new Bond to find his groove. So really, Dalton just didn't stand a chance, which is a shame because he's become my favorite Bond and his 2 Bond films are my favorites.

It can be said that nearly every single 007 film has a great cast, and that's actually accurate. They all do, and Licence to Kill is no different. But the one bit of casting that got me really, really excited was Robert Davi playing the lead villain. I just love him to death. I love so many of his movies, most of which are some of my all-time favorites, and love even more that he goes from big budget to low-budget quite frequently. They really couldn't have picked a better actor to play the villain, and here, he's in his prime. The rest of the cast is equally impressive. Everett McGill (Twin Peaks, Under Siege 2), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat, Showdown in Little Tokyo), Carey Lowell (The Guardian) and a very young Benicio Del Toro. In fact, at 21, Del Toro plays the youngest Bond villain in the franchise. The cast is rounded out with a slew of other notable character actors, all bringing their A-Game to the table, giving Licence to Kill one helluva killer ensemble cast.

Most of the criticism stems from the film's final act, where the action is dialed up to 11. Much like any James Bond film, the action gets a bit absurd, yet for some reason people love to give this one more of a hard time than any of the others. Namely for 2 sequences involving a tanker truck; one where it rolls on it's left side narrowly missing a missile coming towards it, and the other where it literally does a wheelie to avoid catching fire. Is it a bit cartoony? Certainly. But is it any less awesome? Not in the least. I've seen far sillier action sequences in other 007 films and it's become something we expect. If you're not rolling your eyes at the absurdity of it, you might find yourself actually enjoying this awesome bit of stunt work found in this one. And the film is full of killer stunts, right from it's opening sequence.



Ultimately I think Licence to Kill, and the casting of Timothy Dalton has been unfairly maligned. It's taken a few decades, but fans are finally beginning to appreciate this bastard child of the James Bond universe. To be quite frank, it's one of the best in the entire series, and my current personal favorite. While I still feel The Living Daylights is technically the best Bond film overall, this one is my favorite and the one that carries the most re-watchability for me. I love it to death and it deserves to get more respect and love than it's received. We're getting there, but it's still not quite as popular as it should be. Give it a watch, or revisit it. I'm willing to bet it's a far better film than you remember it being. And the best part? It's easy to get these days. It's currently streaming on Hulu Plus, but you can pick up any number of it's many releases on DVD and Blu Ray for a really low price, usually around $5.



12.10.2017

Release Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

We all know the story by now. Marty Langford's quite excellent documentary Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four spells it all out in exhaustive detail. If you haven't yet watched this incredible documentary, you really need to get on it fast as it's easily available on DVD and Blu Ray for a great price from a number of online retailers, and last I checked, it was also streaming on Hulu Plus. So really, you have no excuse.

To this day, Roger Corman's infamous Fantastic Four movie from 1994 "still" has never gotten an official release in any form. Legend has it that the one we can easily find online illegally and on a number of bootleg DVD's comes from a VHS tape that was snuck out of the studio and that's the one that has given the world countless bootleg copies, all of deplorable quality. Seriously, each copy I've seen is nearly unwatchable but we watch it anyway because it's the only way we can. Though Avi Arad has repeatedly claimed that he burned the one existing master print of the film, most of us just simply do not believe that. Just in the same way Morgan Creek denied for years that they had no extra footage in their vaults of Nightbreed, only to find out that they really did, which resulted in the blockbuster release of the Nightbreed Directors Cut and the recent Cabal Cut Blu Ray's.

The most fascinating aspect about this whole thing is that despite it's complete lack of budget, surprisingly, Roger Corman's ultra no-budget version is arguably the most faithful, most entertaining and most endearing version of this comic book adaptation ever produced. And this is taking into account the 3 later big budget attempts to bring it to the big screen, all resulting in lackluster performances and worse yet, terrible films in general. Despite it's budget, hilariously awful effects and the weird subplot involving a jewel-stealing leprechaun (??), the film succeeds in spades where the others failed. For starters, it's unintentionally campy, yet highly entertaining. Every actor gives it their all, despite all of the odds stacked against them, with Joseph Culp, here playing Victor Von Doom and then later Dr. Doom, walking away with the most memorable role in his unusually hammy performance, which literally steals the show. It's hilarious and amazing all at the same time, and better yet, this version of Dr. Doom looks like he literally stepped right out of the comic books and is to date, the best representation of that character on film. Yet still, we have never gotten an official release of this film for going on 23 years now.

Doomed director Marty Langford is taking those responsible to task by petitioning Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox and Constantin Films (the 3 entities involved in ownership of the film) to allow this film to finally get a legitimate release for those fans (myself included) who have waited decades for that day to come.

Follow the links below to head on over to the official change.org petition page and please sign it, share it and help do your part to hopefully get this to see the light of day at some point.



Or follow this link:
https://www.change.org/p/marvel-studios-release-roger-corman-s-the-fantastic-four-movie?recruiter=49373280&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

If you don't really know all that much about this film, it's troubled production and why it never got released, then do yourself a favor and check out Marty Langford's excellent Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's Fantastic Four. Here's the trailer for your enjoyment. 

Bad Movie Night Review: Mankillers

"Where 12 hot and hardened criminals train for a few weeks in the wilderness to take down a sex and drug trafficking rogue CIA agent dressed like they're heading to a Playboy photoshoot"

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

1987 was undoubtedly David A. Prior's most successful year in his decades long career. Prior, a low-budget B-Movie king, wrote and directed some of the most legendary Bad Movie Night classics ever made, and though he would continue to make films for a total of 32 years, he actually never got any better at it. But I'm glad he didn't, because that's also one of his films most endearing qualities, and partly why they're so great in the first place. They're bad, but in a very enjoyable way, with a handful being some of the most unintentionally hilarious movies ever made.

Which brings us back to 1987. In this year alone, Prior created 3 of his best cult classics; Deadly Prey, Killer Workout, and Mankillers. While Deadly Prey and Killer Workout have gone on to legendary cult status infamy, Mankillers is less well-known, which is criminal, and just as difficult to get. You see, none of these 3 films ever received a legitimate DVD release in the U.S. As far as I know, VHS was the only format you could find these on. And the VHS collectors market being the way it is, they're not cheap, with Deadly Prey pretty much being the Holy Grail and most sought-after tape for most collectors of these kinds of films. In 2015, Olive Films and Slasher Films teamed up to correct that mistake by releasing all 3 of these films, including the Deadly Prey sequel Deadliest Prey (which is great!!) on DVD "and" Blu-Ray for the very first time, making it a whole lot easier for fans to finally get their hands on these films for their collection, and for some, being introduced to these classics for the very first time. I finally added the Mankillers DVD to the collection, completing my David A. Prior/Olive-Slasher Films classics releases. So let's dig in.

When a rogue CIA agent (a hilarious William Zipp) has turned into a sex and drug trafficker, undercover agent Rachael McKenna (Lynda Aldon) is brought in to infiltrate his camp in the wilderness. To do so, she needs a squad of mercenaries. Her solution? Train a dozen of the hardest female criminals currently incarcerated to do the job, thus guaranteeing their freedom if they complete their mission. 

Mankillers was a blast, plain and simple. Much like his other 1987 efforts, Mankillers is filled with unintentional hilarity, gloriously 80's hot women wearing next to nothing, and a neverending onslaught of action and violence B-Movie-style. In short, Mankillers delivers the Bad Movie Night goods like a true champ. And what is is that makes it such a classic? Where do I start? It's literally a film about a dozen half naked women running around the woods shooting guns, kicking ass, spouting off ridiculous dialogue, chasing a cheesy looking mullet-wearing villain that looks to be in a constant angry roid-rage every second he's on screen and it's hilariously awesome. Every second of this film is oozing with 80's nostalgia and if you just love cheesy movies, then this one will satisfy that craving because it's nearly impossible for David A. Prior to make a film and have it "not" turn out cheesy. That's what makes them so special, and Mankillers isn't any different.

The whole premise of this film is absurd, but it's in it's dead-serious approach that sells it, even though it's funny as hell by accident. Prior has never been one to write believable dialogue, or even characters for that matter, but that's not what you go into these movies for in the first place, because if you are, you're looking in the wrong places. Prior has maintained a sort of cult status credibility for 3 decades writing, directing and producing low-budget trash, usually with his brother Ted Prior starring, that dig into every genre. The quality of these films vary greatly, and to be honest, most of them are terrible, but early in his career he was knocking classics out left and right. Mankillers deserves equal celebration alongside Deadly Prey and Killer Workout, because it's just as good and just as entertaining. Here's to hoping that Mankillers gets the credit it deserves as a Bad Movie Night masterpiece. If you haven't seen it yet, then you need to fix that pronto. Lucky for you, it's a whole lot easier now.

The Olive/Slasher Films DVD and Blu-Ray Release:

The Olive/Slasher films DVD release from 2015 offers a decent presentation. Being that this film was shot on film and ultra-low-budget, the quality is already going to be low. And it's not sourced from an HD master. Using the various materials and film elements available to them, namely the PAL Beta SP, they were able to offer a transfer that is a step above VHS, but still not DVD quality. But that's okay. The film isn't that kind of film that needs that type of transfer. In fact, the occasional scratchiness and scene jumping from the bad source material only adds to it's character. It's also in full frame, just so your aware. I don't think we'll ever see any of Prior's early films in any other format than full frame to be honest, because I don't think they exist.

Sadly, there are no special features included other than the trailer (which is hilarious because they give you virtually the entire film in that trailer, spoiling any of the surprises that are to come if you actually watched the film), and a photo still gallery. Still, the DVD, or Blu-Ray (if you go with that), is cheap and it's a must-have for your Bad Movie Night collection. No question.

Mankillers is available on a number of online retailers, where the DVD and Blu-Ray goes for roughly around $15, which is really a great price. The DVD will usually run a bit cheaper than the Blu, and truthfully, it's not the kind of film that begs to be seen in Blu, given the source material isn't all that great to begin with. So the DVD will suffice if you're looking to save a few bucks. Whichever way you do choose to go, just grab it, invite a few buddy's over and enjoy the absurdity. It's glorious.

12.08.2017

Blu-Ray Review: The Man From Hong Kong (Umbrella Ent.)

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

"An Aussie-style James Bond clone that mixes Kung Fu, car chases, death-defying stunts and an almost absurd plot that balances the fine line between camp and serious hardcore action gracefully for a killer of a good time"

This is a film I only became aware of after seeing the excellent documentary "Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!", which focuses entirely on......you guessed it, Ozploitation (exploitation in Australia), and typically centers on films from the 70's and 80's. When this was featured on that excellent doc, I was immediately intrigued. It looked like loads of fun, and with legendary cult filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith at the helm, I was sold. Unfortunately, this was a hard film to find here in the United States. In fact, I'm not even sure if it was officially released here on any format because I've never seen one. Whats more, it "still" doesn't have a release here in the states to this day. Lucky for us, the excellent team over at Umbrella Entertainment released this as a Region-Free Blu-Ray back in March of 2016 for a killer price. So let's dig in.

SYNOPSIS:
The Far East picks a fight Down Under in The Man From Hong Kong, a cult martial arts action extravaganza from Ozploitation legend Brian Trenchard-Smith (Dead End Drive-InTurkey Shoot and BMX Bandits).
When Hong Kong Inspector Fang Sing Leng (Jimmy Wang Yu,Master of the Flying Guillotine) travels to Sydney to interview drug trafficker Win Chan (martial arts star and director Sammo Hung) he is flung into an international investigation destined to test his mettle and might.
Teaming up with Aussie Detectives Gross (Hugh Keays-ByrneMad Max, Fury Road) and Taylor (Roger WardTurkey Shoot), Fang soon discovers a cunning connection between Win Chan's drug imports and larger-than-life local gangster Jack Wilton (George Lazenby, James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
Determined to get his man, Fang will stop at nothing – bringing all manner of mayhem to the streets in a full-on fist fighting spectacle of explosive proportions.
While I had a feeling just based on the scenes shown in that aforementioned documentary that this was going to be fun, I don't think I was prepared for just how fun and how badass this would ultimately be. The film, a blast from start to finish, was full of surprises, the least not being that legendary Hong Kong god Sammo Hung co-starred in this. He was excellent, and while the film's main star Jimmy Wang Yu, does a decent (if a bit forgettable) job in the lead, it's really the one and only George Lazenby (On Her Majestry's Secret Service, Never Too Young To Die) who steals the show, here playing the villain, local gangster Jack Wilton. Not to say the film is perfect, because it's not. It's chock-full of very un-PC stereotypes, racial slurs and racial jokes (the 70's were certainly a different time). I think one of the most hilarious WTF? elements has to be where Wilton (Lazenby) is actually the kung fu instructor at an Australian martial arts school, where quite shockingly, all of his students are actually Asian. Huh? 

The rest of the cast is filled with Aussie regulars, but it's the lead that not surprisingly stands out. Not because he's great, but because he just doesn't come across as the leading action hero type and largely out of his element. I know that's the storyline, but one can't help but feel that real life mirrors art in this instance. He's small, and though he's clearly speaking English, he's been hilariously dubbed. He's also incredibly smug, uncharismatic and highly arrogant. I'm not sure if that was entirely written down in his description on page, but based on the reports of his behavior on set, I'll go out on a limb and assume that some of that was Jimmy just being himself.

One of the film's finest elements is it's strong use of surprisingly brutal and death-defying stuntwork. Seriously, even in some of the fight sequences I found myself flinching from time to time. Even with the fight scenes, they go on and on for so long you almost forget that there's supposed to be a movie in here somewhere. Hey, I'm not complaining though, because the insanely long and brutal fight sequences are outstanding. But it's in the many chase sequences, some on foot and some with cars, that really blow your mind and make it as memorable as it is. The many uncomfortable racial slurs aside, the plethora of stuntwork, the killer 70's fashions and George Lazenby being so over the top as the main villain makes this one helluva fun ride and well worth seeking out. This is a classic by every definition. 

JUST THE DISC:

Thankfully, this comes in it's original widescreen aspect ratio, and believe me, writer/director Brian Trenchard-Smith makes full use of this extreme widescreen presentation. Trenchard-Smith has always been pretty hit or miss for me, and I don't always like some of his stuff, but I can honestly say this is one of his hands-down one of his best films.

Umbrella did a fantastic job with the new 4K transfer. It's vibrant technicolor pallet will melt your cornea's and if you dig retro visuals, then you'll just love the look of The Man From Hong Kong, and Umbrella's new restoration blows any previous release out of the water. It's literally the best you'll see of this film.

Now, to make this release an even sweeter deal, 5 of Brian Trenchard-Smith's other films are also included in the Special Features section and include Death Cheaters (1974), Stunt Rock (1979), Kung Fu Killers (1974 TV Documentary), Dangerfreaks (1989 Documentary) and The Stuntmen (Documentary). So that's 6 of his films on this one disc!

THE SPECS:
- Newly remastered 1080p HD 4K restoration
- Audio commentary by Brian Trenchard-Smith, Hugh Keay-Byrne and legendary stuntman Grand Page
- The Making of The Man From Hong Kong
- Newsreel Footage
- Uncut Not Quite Hollywood interviews with cast members George Lazenby, Rebecca Gilling and Roger Ward, writer/director Brian Trenchard-Smith, Executive Producer David Hannay and Second Unit Cameraman John Seale. 
-Trailers from Hell: Brian Trenchard-Smith discusses The Man From Hong Kong
- HD Theatrical Trailer
- Alternative Trailer
- Brian Trenchard-Smith's "The Headsman's Daughter" book trailer

PLUS:
- Deathcheaters with audio commentary by Trenchard-Smith, Richard Brennan & Margaret Gerard
- Stunt Rock with audio commentary by Trenchard-Smith, Grant Page & Margaret Gerard, promo reel and theatrical trailer
- Kung Fu Killers
- Dangergreaks with theatrical trailer
- The Stuntmen





The Man From Hong Kong comes packed to the gills with special features and extra content and is available on both Region-FREE DVD and Blu-Ray at a really great price via Umbrella Entertainment. You can order directly from their website HERE or any number of online retailers. 

12.04.2017

Hilariously Honest Trailer For The Room

Before you head into theaters this weekend to check out James Franco's The Disaster Artist, which is based on the book of the same name written by Greg Sestero, who starred as Mark in the legendary Bad Movie Night masterpiece The Room, be sure to revisit that epic film by watching this hilariously honest trailer for Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Even though I've seen The Room, this trailer still made me crack up throughout the entire 5 minute running time. It's hilarious!

The Disaster Artist is a behind the scenes look at the making of The Room, with James Franco both directing and starring as Tommy Wiseau in a truly meta-style reality whereTommy Wiseau both wrote, starred and directed The Room, and James Franco both starring and directing a film about a guy who both starred and directed a previous film.

The Disaster Artist hits theaters on December 8th, 2017



By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)