1.19.2021

The Best Movie I Never Saw: Light Years AKA Gandahar (1987/1988)

VHS cover scan courtesy of Animation Cult on Tumblr


Light Years Is The BEST Animated Film That Still Hasn't Made It's Way To The Mainstream

by robotGEEK

Recently I decided to revisit Heavy Metal (post coming soon), and while I was never all that much into it growing up, except for the constant barrage of animated nudity , I really only ever cared for 2 of the stories; the one about the cabbie in the futuristic New York, and the one with the B-52 Bomber. But as with a lot of my film experiences, my tastes change as I get older and ultimately I enjoyed Heavy Metal much more this time around. But that experience led me to another one. This past year I've been experimenting with mushrooms for the first time and it was during my last trip that out of nowhere, the VHS cover for this movie popped in my head. I guess you can say I've been on a bit of an animation kick lately, having revisited Heavy Metal and diving deep into some animated shows like Batman: The Animated Series (thanks to HBO) and M.A.S.K. for instance. So somewhere in my subconscious, this cover had always been there because I've never actually seen the movie, but I do recall seeing this cover at my local video store's back in the 80's and 90's. And boom! Just like that. During a very pleasant psychedelic trip, Light Years pops in my head and thus began my quest to track it down in some way. 

Released in 1987 under it's original title Gandahar, Light Years is a French production courtesy of Fantastic Planet (1973) writer/director Rene Laloux and it is honestly one of the best damn animated films I've ever seen in my life. In fact, it may very well be my new all-time favorite animated film ever. And there's just so much to love here. But I should mention, I have only seen the Americanized version. The Weinsteins released this in the U.S. under their Miramax label back in 1988, and recut, re-edited and rescored the film to appeal to American audiences. This U.S. version is a few minutes shorter, and now contains more of a progressive rock/synth score, which honestly works for me because it blends with the vibe of the film so splendidly. They also dubbed the film with American actors such as Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing), Bridget Fonda, Glenn Close, Christopher Plummer, Penn Jillette and most impressively John Shea (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), who does an outstanding job as the lead Sylvain. 

I kind of half-expected this to have some rotoscoping animation (because that technique seemed to be prevalent during this time), which would have been fucking sweet, but to my surprise it didn't. But that doesn't matter because the animation in here is stunning as it is. But I think what really just floored me was how much science fiction was involved when I was mostly expecting a fantasy. I guess you could say that it's an equal blend of both, but for me personally, I was pleasantly surprised at how far into sci-fi it went. For so much of the film you see this awe-inspiring army of black robots causing destruction and catastrophe at the behest of their leader Metamorphis (Christopher Plummer), and it's just so insanely badass every time they're on screen, played with great effect to some synth rock. 

Going in, I knew literally nothing about it. So the voice cast was a nice surprise, and reading up on it a  bit, I'm kinda shocked to learn that it's not universally loved. My guess is that because it's a bit "trippy" (because it totally is), and it's more talky than you'd expect from an animated film, it comes across as more of an adult film, with a story and not just a lot of violence, nudity and action. It has all of those things, but at it's heart, there's an actual story about a perfect utopian society who's world is driven to chaos when an army of robots invades their genetically modified race to destruction. And while I do enjoy the story, it's all about the visual eye candy for me, and Light Years is oozing with gorgeous visuals from start to finish. Combined with an excellent score, an outstanding voice cast, and such a unique tone all around, Light Years will surely be a film you'll not soon forget. 

How to see it:

Now to the bad news. To my shock, it's never gotten an official release here in the states other than VHS, Laserdisc and it's limited theatrical run all the way back in 1988. Sadly there has never even been a DVD release here, much less a Blu Ray, and I was really stoked to snag a copy of this immediately after watching it. This needs to be in my collection! I have seen a Region 2 DVD floating around the secondhand market, which goes for astronomical prices. There's a bootleg from S. Korea you can get pretty cheap, but I can't vouch for it's quality. But there's "some" good news. A very kind and generous soul has uploaded it to YouTube in HD under it's original title "Gandahar". So having a physical copy may not be in the cards for us anytime soon, but at least there's a way for us to watch it, even if it is in full frame. I do hope someone snags the rights to this and releases it officially, in HD and in widescreen some day. It deserves to be discovered, at this rate, by several generations now. 



1.12.2021

The Running Man 2-LP Vinyl Re-Issue


by robotGEEK

How the news of this release passed me by is beyond me, but thankfully a fellow cinephile and LP junkie on Instagram turned me onto this sweet bit of news today and in less than 2 minutes, my order was already placed. 

Apparently this re-release was first issued back in June via Varese Sarabande of last year and I'm only now hearing about it. But hey, better late than never! You can currently order it from a variety of online outlets, but I snagged mine from Amazon, where it's currently ON SALE for just $21 with FREE SHIPPING. 

Here are the details via Amazon:

"A tour de force of synthesizer based score from the composter of Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun . The original (1987) 17 track album has been expanded to 35 tracks, which includes additional music and unreleased/alternate cues all taken from the original Paramount Pictures sources. This 2LP set comes in gatefold jacket with printed inner sleeves. The entire package features original art specially created for this release along with extensive linter notes and original film stills"

What's funny is that I was actually looking for this on vinyl a few months ago after I watched it for the 100th time, and when I saw what the original pressing was going for online, I quickly gave up. But the good news here is not only is it remastered for optimum sound quality, but they've even expanded the number of tracks from17 to 35! Damn! 


Truly an iconic score from the great Harold Faltermeyer, who also gave us equally memorable synth scores with Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop and Tango & Cash, The Running Man is a surprisingly unique synth score that manages to somehow be inventive within the synth genre, while also being moody, catchy and impressive. 

You can order your brand new 2-LP Remastered Running Man Vinyl HERE via Amazon.

12.08.2020

The Best Movie I Never Saw: The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)


 by robotGEEK

Now that might not be entirely accurate because I do recall this playing often on HBO waaaaaay back in the early 80's when I was about 6 or so. I have distinct memories of certain images and scenes, but I doubt I actually watched the entire film being that young. So technically, I haven't seen it fully until now. 

 The Incredible Shrinking Woman is a totally bizarre mix of comedy, drama, thriller, existentialism and consumerism via 1981. It was nothing like what I was expecting, and I loved every minute of it. A sort of dark, bleak and oddly charming look at early 80's consumerism who's outstanding production design reminds me a whole lot of Edward Scissorhands (I wouldn't be surprised if that films aesthetic was inspired by this gem). I'm serious, there is so much glorious eye candy here that even if you weren't a fan of the films unusual tone the art direction, production and costume design alone are worth the trip. Think an overly-exaggerated late 70's-early 80's aesthetic entirely done in bright pastels, like you're watching something while on some sort of candy-colored acid trip. 


This was Joel Schumacher's (The Lost Boys, Falling Down, Flatliners) theatrical debut as a director and every single frame of film is a gorgeous work of art. The effects work is so impressive, even by today's standards, that I can honestly say I've never seen better and more realistic-looking effects work in regards to having a person the size of a finger interact with normal size humans and gorillas. I haven't looked it up, but I sure hope it was at least nominated for it's outstanding effects work, because I was simply blown away. A truly wonderful little oddity that was so much fun, charming, and a biting commentary on 80's consumerism (although done in a completely different way than Romero's Dawn of the Dead), all tied together by Lily Tomlin's adorable performance. Speaking of which, she actually plays 3 characters in the final cut of the film, though she had played a 4th that was ultimately cut and can be found on Shout! Factory's Blu Ray as a Deleted Scene. 

On a side note, that's makeup effects master Rick Baker in the gorilla costume, the same year he won an Oscar for his effects work in An American Werewolf in London. Today, December 8th, also happens to be his birthday. He also played King Kong in the 1976 live action version. Also interesting to note that American Werewolf in London director John Landis was also attached to direct this early on, and honestly, it would have been a great fit for him, especially after seeing his amazing and odd little-seen gem Into the Night.




 How to see it: 

The Incredible Shrinking Woman is currently streaming for FREE on NBC's Peacock App. Shout! Factory also released it on Blu Ray back in 2017 loaded with brand new interviews, that infamous deleted scene of Tomlin's 4th character, and more. 

EDITORS NOTE:
Please consider a donation so that I may continue doing this for you. In these tough times, every little bit helps, and further allows me to continue to spend the time needed to write these articles for you. I know it's a bit unorthodox, but we are in strange times and I have not been resistant to the turmoil that COVID has caused financially. Even if it's just $1, $5 or whatever. It would be greatly appreciated and I thank you. You can make a donation to my Venmo: @robotgeek

11.17.2020

Revisiting 1997's Spawn: The Movie

 



Seriously? What The Fuck Happened???

by robotGEEK

When I saw this pop up on TubiTV recently, it occurred to me that it had been well over a decade since I last saw this. And like most of you, I just did not like this when it first hit theaters. I should mention that when this was released, I was thick in the middle of my Spawn obsession. Oh yea, I was a die-hard Spawn geek when he first hit comic book stands in 1992. I was about 16, and when the toyline hit 2 years later in 1994, I was full blown obsessed with this character, hitting every Walmart, K-Mart, Toys R Us and Target store located within 50 miles of our little town trying to snag every single figure from this line. I was so obsessed that when I turned 18, I got a Spawn tattoo. 

Yes, you read that right. I got a fucking Spawn tattoo when I was 18 years old. So you can imagine my excitement when learning that a live-action film was in the works via none other than New Line Cinema, the same company responsible for the insanely awesome live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) film (which I was equally obsessed with) and the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I felt the film was in the right hands because the comic, storyline and even the toys were quite dark, and if anyone could handle the material, I felt that New Line could, especially given how amazing the first two TMNT films turned out. 

Then I saw the film. I remember opening night vividly, sitting there with my buddy excitedly as a guy went up front to present and discuss the film before it started playing. Well, it sucked. I walked away shockingly disappointed and confused as to how they could take so many liberties with the source material and completely ruin the basic principles that McFarlane had laid out for the character. 

Not the actual cape in the film
First and foremost, let's talk about the cape, or better yet, the lack thereof. What the fuck? How can you take one of the most important and iconic aspects of his "look" away almost completely, and then when you DO allow it to be present, it's a CGI cape? And a bad one at that. The cape CGI is fucking terrible. I get the concept about it being an extension of his will, using it as a weapon or as a shield. But I think that could have been an aspect of the mythology they could easily have done away with so it didn't look so goddamn awful on film. I guess it's good that cape rarely ever makes an appearance anyway. 

Then there's the fact that they pull a Judge Dredd (1995) on us and have Spawn without his iconic mask for the majority of the film. So first you take away his cape, and now he doesn't even wear his mask most of the time, instead leaving his burnt head exposed. Whhhyyyyy????

Michael Jai White is actually pretty good and effective as Al Simmons/Spawn, but the casting of Martin Sheen as the villain is really odd. Not only does he look strange with his badly dyed jet black beard and hair, but he just doesn't come across as villain material, especially since he's so small. But I'm sure they were needing a big name to help sell the film to a broader audience. 

And lastly, the climax of the film takes place in a living room. That's right. After all that buildup leading to Spawn exacting his revenge on Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen), the finale of the film, or it's third act, takes place in a.....wait for it.....living room. I mean, what a real letdown to have so much of the film building up to this point, only to have it fall apart in the end. Sure they jump in the fireplace and take a quick detour to hell for a few minutes, but if you think the CGI cape was bad, holy shit. Hell looks 100 times worse. I really wish they hadn't even bothered trying to depict Hell or even Malebolgia, because they're both just so laughably bad. For a film that began with $20 million, and was kicked up another 20 to a total of $40 million, the effects work still looks terrible. 


Now on to the good. You know, as a film, Spawn doesn't actually look bad. There are times when it has a nice professional quality to it that reminds you that you're watching a big budget adaptation of a dark and violent comic book film. I'm talking strictly cinematography and visual aesthetic here. And then there are moments when it looks like a Made-for-TV movie. It's such an uneven mess all around, including it's visual aesthetic, that it makes it really hard to find some bright spots in this. But there are a few.

The makeup by KNB is pretty fantastic. Clown is spot-on and really both frightening and utterly annoying (be sure to watch it with subtitles to understand what the hell he's even saying), while Spawn's suit and burnt makeup effects are pretty gnarly....sans the missing cape and mask. 

The effects work isn't all bad though. Violator looks fucking cool and much like Clown, is spot-on and taken right out of the comics. I know ultimately they had to delegate different effects companies to handle all of the CGI effects in this, so I'm not sure which one was responsible for the Violator effects, but they're arguably the best CGI effects in the entire film. 

And finally, all of the little nods to a few other characters from the comics were impressive and a much needed highlight overall. Angela, Sam & Twitch, the news reporter and a few others all make nice little subtle cameos. 

All of these surprisingly good aspects still don't do enough to save this mess. I can see it being a guilty pleasure for some, but for me, someone who actually really enjoys unintentionally bad films, even this one is a huge misfire for me. It was a very stupid decision to remove his cape from his look, and while the practical action sequences were entertaining enough, it's when the film dives into it's core mythology that this live action adaptation falls apart. It's no surprise that former visual effects supervisor and first-time director Mark A.Z. Dippe never directed another theatrical feature after this. 

Needless to say, as soon as my initial film experience was over, I was already making plans to get my Spawn tattoo covered up. It was something that was already in the works as I had grown tired of the Spawn comics in general. They definitely became too weird and complicated for my taste when it started branching out into different alternate realities and alternate universes, thus ending my love for all things Spawn; the character, comics, toys and various other merchandise associated with him. 

EDITORS NOTE:
Please consider a donation so that I may continue doing this for you. In these tough times, every little bit helps, and further allows me to continue to spend the time needed to write these articles for you. I know it's a bit unorthodox, but we are in strange times and I have not been resistant to the turmoil that COVID has caused financially. Even if it's just $1, $5 or whatever. It would be greatly appreciated and I thank you. You can make a donation to my Venmo: @robotgeek

11.10.2020

The Best Movie I Never Saw: Sidekicks (1992)


The Karate Kid Meets Last Action Hero In Glorious 90's Fashion

by robotGEEK

Somehow I never got around to this film before. Surely I remember it, but I also remember not being all that interested in it at the time. And I'm sure had I seen it, I might have still felt the same way. But then again, maybe I would have loved it? I don't know. But watching it now for the first time, nearly 30 years after it's original release, I am just floored by how good this was and how much I enjoyed it. Let's dig in. 

Released in 1992, Sidekicks tells the story of Barry (Jonathan Brandis), a weak and mild-mannered teenager who fantasizes about being Chuck Norris' sidekick, often daydreaming about being in the very films that we all love from Norris, such as Missing in Action, Delta Force 2 and The Hitman to name a few. When a kind teacher takes a liking to him, she sets him up with her uncle (Mako), a martial artist who decides to take Barry under his wing to train for an upcoming karate championship. 


The film carries such a pleasant charm that it's really hard not to love it. Completely engaging right from the very beginning, and full of heart in a way I was not expecting, Sidekicks also benefits from some seriously hilarious moments courtesy of the legendary Joe Piscopo, who plays an over the top sensai of a local karate dojo, and a sworn enemy of Chuck Norris. As great as Sidekicks is all around, I doubt it would be half as good if not for Piscopo's casting here. Literally every single scene he's in is pure gold, and I laughed so fucking hard. Not only is he the villain in the overall story arc, but he's also the villain in all of the movie sequences Barry transports himself into and it's pure genius. I mean, what other universe could Piscopo play the villain in a Chuck Norris film?? Mr. Piscopo, I salute you. 

In the directors chair is Norris' brother and long time collaborator Aaron Norris, and he does an outstanding job here. While I was never much of a fan of his style of directing growing up, I've certainly grown to love and appreciate it in my older age. Where I originally saw his style as plain and boring, I now see as slick and refined in a way that a lot of directors were never able to capture consistently. If anything, Norris was a consistent director in the best possible way. His films might not have always been great, but most of them were, and they all looked good. This was wedged between The Hitman and Hellbound, both also directed by Norris, and while I thoroughly enjoy The Hitman (even though I feel it should be better), I really could not get into Hellbound. But I should revisit it soon. I might feel differently next time around. In fact, I think I'll revisit both of them. 


Another one of this films many pluses is it's surprisingly stellar cast. Of course there's good ol' Chuck, and the late-great Jonathan Brandis (It, Seaquest 2032) turns in a really great performance as Barry, but there's also Mako (Conan The Destroyer), Beau Bridges (The Wizard) as Barry's dad, Julia Nickson (Rambo: First Blood Part II), Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years), Richard Moll (Night Court) and of course the one and only Joe Piscopo (Dead Heat). 

In the grande scheme of things, it is ideal that you have seen the films they keep referencing in Barry's daydreams, because it's what makes these sequences work so well. Sidekicks is a film full of heart, laughs and just good vibes all around. Aaron Norris' direction is slick and solid, the score is inspirational, and it all comes together seemingly effortlessly in the best, most cheesy 90's way possible. In short, Sidekicks rules and rules hard. 

How to see it: 

Unfortunately, this has never made the leap to DVD or Blu Ray here in the states yet. And like many Chuck Norris/Aaron Norris collaborations, this one has never gotten the widescreen treatment either. At least here in the U.S., it's only been released on VHS and Laserdisc, and it's not streaming anywhere on any platform that I could find. I had purchases a DVD from Australia claiming to be an official remastered DVD, only to discover it's a bootleg from a Laserdisc source. So whichever way you go, just be aware that you're not going to find it on DVD or Blu Ray officially. At least not yet. 

Talking to people about my experience watching this film for the first time, I was delighted to discover that it's a cult classic in the truest sense. People REALLY love this movie and it's one of those that they grew up on and have loved ever since. I feel if any of Chuck's older films could benefit from a new updated release, it's this one. 

EDITORS NOTE:
Please consider a donation so that I may continue doing this for you. In these tough times, every little bit helps, and further allows me to continue to spend the time needed to write these articles for you. I know it's a bit unorthodox, but we are in strange times and I have not been resistant to the turmoil that COVID has caused financially. Even if it's just $1, $5 or whatever. It would be greatly appreciated and I thank you. You can make a donation to my Venmo: @robotgeek

11.09.2020

Chuck Norris' Karate Kommados & Mr. T's Saturday Morning Cartoon Now Streaming For FREE on TubiTV

 That's right! For all you retro fiends and classic cartoon lovers, these two 80's gems have now been added to TubiTV's FREE streaming site. 

by robotGEEK

Karate Kommandos was a short 5-episode Mini-Series released in 1986, and it's honestly a damn shame it didn't get picked up for a full series because it's great as a gloriously cheesy ultra-violent cartoon. I mean, they just don't make them like this anymore. 

Since there were only 5 episodes produced, it was released as a full-length movie on VHS instead of by episodes as was the norm. One of the most surprising aspects of this particular cartoon was that Chuck actually provided the voice work himself. 


Mr. T ran longer for a total of 3 seasons and 30 episodes, beginning in 1983. This is great news for me personally because I actually never got around to this one and it's been a cartoon I've been wanting to see for some time now. I just never got around to pulling the trigger on the Hanna Barbera DVD collection. 

Both of these shows were produced by the legendary Ruby-Spears Enterprises (Rambo: The Force of Freedom 1986) and released onto DVD via Hanna-Barbera at a really great price. 

EDITORS NOTE:
Please consider a donation so that I may continue doing this for you. In these tough times, every little bit helps, and further allows me to continue to spend the time needed to write these articles for you. I know it's a bit unorthodox, but we are in strange times and I have not been resistant to the turmoil that COVID has caused financially. Even if it's just $1, $5 or whatever. It would be greatly appreciated and I thank you. You can make a donation to my Venmo: @robotgeek

11.05.2020

The Cult Corner: Arena (1989)


by robotGEEK

If you're like me, or if you're relatively close to my age (mid 40's), then you remember this film playing on either HBO or Cinemax way back in the early to mid 90's. And during the subsequent years, it would be a film that was relatively hard to get your hands on, as it never got an official DVD release here in the states, and to be honest, I think most people just either forgot about it or forgot what it was called. I know I surely did. It's one of those low-budget sci-fi classics that would play religiously on those channels, like Space Raiders (1983) and Android (1982), but would ultimately be forgotten. 

Released in 1989, this Empire Studios release has so much to offer that it's still hard to grasp that it has yet to be given a proper release. Let's begin with it's impressive production. For starters, it's written by the creative duo of Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo (The 1990 Flash TV series, The Rocketeer, Trancers), and produced by none other than Full Moon's Charles Band. Former production manager and first assistant director Peter Manoogian (Eliminators) directs with gusto, giving the film a lot of the same energy and aesthetic that made his previous sci-fi film Eliminators (1986) such a cult classic. You remember that one right? That was another staple on cable television, with the main guy being half man, half robot, with his lower half being a mini tank. Yea that movie was awesome. 

Newcomer Paul Satterfield plays Steve Armstrong, a cook at a local greasy dive who's dreams of becoming an Arena Fighter come to fruition when he's seen impressively pummeling an aggressive customer to the ground. The Arena is the biggest fighting competition in the galaxy, and the winner immediately becomes both rich and famous. But each bout, filled with aliens of varying species across the galaxy, comes with it's own challenges as Armstrong is merely a human in a world filled with aliens. As corruption within the tournaments rears its ugly head, Armstrong and his team, led by the beautiful Claudia Christian (The Hidden, Maniac Cop 2) fight to win the tournament fairly. 

Arena is so much fun. Not only is it a great looking film, full of impressive production design, makeup effects (even for it's budget) and a solid cast of notable character actors who you're sure to recognize (even under a lot of prosthetics and makeup), but it's tone (in all it's PG-13 rated glory) reel you in from the beginning and it's a helluva fun ride. In a lot of ways, it has a lot of the same charm that made Stuart Gordon's Robot Jox (1989) from the same year so damn good. 

One thing I want to mention is that the lead here, Paul Satterfield, who would go onto appear in several soap operas, reminds me so much of Christopher Reeve. Tall, athletic and handsome, I'm shocked his career didn't take off as a lead. 

Now I mentioned earlier that it has never gotten an official DVD release here in the states, and that's not entirely true. It was released as part of a 4-Pk from Shout! Factory back in 2003 on DVD, along with Eliminators, America 3000 and The Time Guardian. Sadly, they're all in full frame, except for The Time Guardian, which is the only one in widescreen. This set is super cheap, but then again all you get are 4 films with no extras and not even in their proper aspect ratio. So technically it has been released on DVD, but never as a standalone film. I feel it could surely be due for a spiffy Blu Ray upgrade by now. 

Last I checked, Arena was currently streaming for FREE on The Roku Channel, but I'm not sure for how long

EDITORS NOTE:
Please consider a donation so that I may continue doing this for you. In these tough times, every little bit helps, and further allows me to continue to spend the time needed to write these articles for you. I know it's a bit unorthodox, but we are in strange times and I have not been resistant to the turmoil that COVID has caused financially. Even if it's just $1, $5 or whatever. It would be greatly appreciated and I thank you. You can make a donation to my Venmo: @robotgeek

11.02.2020

Revisiting Wes Craven's New Nightmare

 


Wes Craven's Meta Masterpiece Is Waiting To Be Rediscovered

by robotGEEK

It's such a shame this movie doesn't get more respect. Or that it's considered a classic. Having not seen it in quite some time, I was both pleasantly surprised and honestly floored by how brooding, intense and all around engrossing this was, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that not a lot of people talk about it. And I'm not really sure why, because this was pretty fucking great. 

It's safe to say that the series had taken a hard detour into the absurd. There are moments in Part 3: The Dream Warriors (undoubtedly the most popular in the franchise) where Freddy is beginning to turn into the wise-cracking trickster we would eventually be accustomed to, but it's also easy to forget that in the first 2 films he was serious, scary and mean. Part 4: The Dream Master (my personal favorite, even though it's basically just a long slick looking music video of random sequences that don't make any sense) is where he fully embraces the silly side of his character, before everything goes overboard and into shit with Part 5: The Dream Child, a film I have never been able to finish. 


So with this film, Wes Craven wanted to re-establish the franchise and the character of Freddy by taking him back to his horror roots and away from the silliness and campiness that had run rampant in the series for years. And honestly, he fucking nailed it here. Everything about this film works, even in it's surreal meta film within a film world dichotomy.  It's dark, bleak, mean-spirited and so immersive that you barely even realize that Freddy Kreuger doesn't even make his first appearance until a full hour and 20 minutes in! Because you're fully invested, and you're submerged into this story. 

Craven is a very skilled filmmaker. And that's something that took me years to fully appreciate. When I was younger, of course I loved films like Shocker, Swamp Thing and A Nightmare on Elm Street like everyone else, but as I got older, and really looked at the specific way he shoots his films, I was wickedly impressed more and more. I mean, look at what he was able to do with his followup to this, Eddie Murphy's Vampire in Brooklyn. Marketed as a comedy (and I will agree it is actually funny in some parts), I was shocked to discover upon watching it for the first time that it's actually more of a gothic romance horror film than anything else, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. I never would have thought based on the trailers trying to sell it as an Eddie Murphy comedy. I guess the same thing can be said about Murphy's Metro (1997), a film marketed as a comedy but in reality is a pretty badass cop/action/thriller. But with Vampire in Brooklyn, Craven was able to really make something special out of something that could have turned into a dud. And I know it wasn't necessarily a hit, but I do know that it's gained a nice cult status since it's initial release. My point is that it's far better than it should have been, and that's all due to Wes Craven, not Eddie Murphy. 


It's a shame that New Nightmare didn't spawn more films and re-ignite the franchise. He tried his best to steer it in the right direction, and honestly, he nailed it here. Everything works so effectively. The constant sense of dread is palpable, and with the exception of a few dodgy CGI effects, the design of everything that happens in the final act is just incredible. In regards to Freddy's new look, I love it. While a bit different than the makeup that defined his look from Parts 1 through 4, it's leaps and bounds better than his new makeup look from Part 5. 

While this last film (not counting Freddy vs Jason that came almost 10 years later) didn't kickstart a new era of Freddy films, it is a glorious sendoff to one of the most popular horror icons, and horror franchises in film history, delivered by the man who created it exactly 10 years earlier. 


EDITORS NOTE:
Please consider a donation so that I may continue doing this for you. In these tough times, every little bit helps, and further allows me to continue to spend the time needed to write these articles for you. I know it's a bit unorthodox, but we are in strange times and I have not been resistant to the turmoil that COVID has caused financially. Even if it's just $1, $5 or whatever. It would be greatly appreciated and I thank you. You can make a donation to my Venmo: @robotgeek

10.28.2020

90's Action Attack!: Project: Shadowchaser (1992)

 


Die Hard Meets Demolition Man With Martin Kove Saving The Day!

by robotGEEK 


Here's a series of films I never got around to. Mainly because I just never came across them. While fairly cheap on VHS, DVD's (in full frame) are shockingly pricey. Luckily Amazon Prime has this first one streaming, so let's dig in. 

I have to admit that this one surprised me at nearly every turn. A very fun and surprisingly well-made film that is basically Die Hard meets Demolition Man, but mostly Die Hard, and a full year before Demolition Man even came out. Without reading anything about it going in, the killer cast is what immediately impressed me the most. While I knew Frank Zagarino (Armstrong) is the main guy, I was not expecting Martin Kove (Steele Justice), Paul Koslo (Robot Jox) and Meg Foster (They Live) to tag along for the ride. Even more so to discover that Kove is actually the good guy here, something we just didn't see enough of. 

An android (Zagarino) and his group of mercenaries hijack a building and take a bunch of people hostage, including the presidents daughter (Meg Ryan). Desilva (Kove) is a prisoner who is released from his frozen cryogenic state to help them rescue the presidents daughter and bring down the android, only they mistakenly thought he was someone else. Forced into a situation of life and death, Desilva rises to the occasion as the reluctant hero intent on getting out alive. 

The action is pretty slick, Zagarino is a great imposing figure as the killer robot, and the cast is really impressive. I mean, they're always great, but seeing Martin Kove play the reluctant hero every once in a blue moon is such a welcome change. Meg Ryan is great as always, actually turning into a badass here, but I think the real standout for me was Paul Koslo, whom I am always used to seeing playing a foreign villain. Here he plays the straight-edged FBI agent under pressure to do whatever is necessary to save the presidents daughter. 

It really is a blast from start to finish. It pulls no punches in trying to be original, instead having fun by borrowing elements from other films and throwing them into a blender. It hits the ground running right from the very beginning and never lets up. The action sequences, even including the model work, is impressively done. While I had issues with the gunfire (yea I know, a weird complaint), the rest of the action, aside from some bad editing here and there, is plentiful. I also found the theme song to be eerily similar to Danny Elfman's Batman theme, but that could just be me. Here's to hoping the next 2 installments are as entertaining. 

Project: Shadowchaser is currently streaming on Amazon Prime