Review: R.O.T.O.R.

Directed by: Cullen Blaine
Category: Trash Cinema (unintentional comedy?)

Judge, Jury and Executioner

Was this supposed to be a comedy? Intentional or not, this is probably one of the most hilarious films (loose term) I have ever seen. I found myself laughing out loud almost the entire time and that hasn't happened in a really long time. Holy shit people, this is bad!

Now this one was just mind-boggling and completely awful in every single aspect that I could not imagine a more ridiculous film that I've seen recently that can match the incompetence of this piece of crap. Director (using this term very loosely here) Cullen Blaine has only ever done work in children's television mainly as a storyboard artist and story director, yet for some reason felt that he possessed the capability to write/produce/direct a low budget sci-fi tale of a robot cop who goes on the fritz killing anything in it's path.
You know what? I'm frankly shocked that they even had the money to hire whoever painted this poster to come up with something this cool because it's by far the only good thing about this film. Man, and I hate to use that term because I wouldn't even classify this as a film. It's more like a student project because using the term "film" you would assume there was some form of competence in the production whether it be a producer or even an editor.

Now don't get me wrong, I love a bad film from time to time. But usually if it's a bad film, it's bad because of the script and story and not necessarily the talent behind the camera or the production involved. And often times, as is the case with 3 recent films I reviewed Hands of SteelNever Too Young To Die and Raiders of Atlantis, they often fall into the "So bad it's good" category because they are in fact, so bad that they end up being "Awfully Good". Not in this case. This thing is awful and it just stays awful.

After doing some research i'm not at all surprised to find out that almost every single actor in here has only ever been in this one film (ah! it hurts to say that word!). Especially the main guy Richard Gesswein. He's just horrible and altogether weird at the same time. I've never seen anybody deliver lines and speak like this guy does, rarely ever opening his teeth when he speaks. They are always clenched like it's impossible for him to open his mouth, but you know he can because you see him do it once or twice. Which only makes it more baffling as to why he would choose to talk this way. Everyone else in here is just as bad, the main characters especially. You can tell they've "never" been in a film (ah!) before this. The only person that even showed the slightest competence was the chick who played Coldyron's girlfriend, but she's only in it for maybe a total of 3 minutes screen time.

A plethora of WTF? moments:
Let me tell you, you're kind of thrown off guard for the first 30 minutes or so as you think this isn't going to be so bad. But the only reason you would think this is because absolutely nothing happens for this first 30 minutes or so and your bored out of your skull. It looks low budget, but since nothing is happening, you're tricked into thinking that maybe you can just write this off as just boring. Only after this long boring drawn out character setup were put into this really odd situation where this scientist stops a robbery in progress at a local gas station. Totally weird and awful that I actually yelled "WTF?!" and laughed at my television screen. I laughed and this was the first of many. So these robbers are supposed to be latino as this takes place in Houston, Texas. So the people robbing the convenience store would naturally be latino right? Well, I guess they couldn't find actual Latino's so they used white guys and had them do there most horrible Mexican accent and actually "painted" a fake goatee on them, since they obviously couldn't grow there own and all Latino's have goatee's, right? Oh man, and that's not all. When one of the robbers comes out with the cashier as a hostage (who looks to be a 55 year old little lady), she somehow turns around and starts roundhousing this guy over and over again until she knocks him out with her last kick. Fucking weird! And it's so horribly choreographed, edited, acted and executed that again, you literally laugh out loud.
But wait! You gotta hear how this other sequence plays out in the beginning, because i'm still kinda confused by it. It shows our hero waking up in bed as his alarm goes off and it clearly states that it's 5:00am. Cut to him getting up and leaving his room and the clock reads 4:50. WTF?! Then he walks into the kitchen and makes a cup of coffee, pouring an insane amount of sugar in it. Then he goes to the fridge and gets a bundle of carrots. He then proceeds to go outside to his horse with his cup of coffee and carrots and you think he's gonna give the horse the carrots while he drinks his coffee right? Instead he gives the fucking horse the coffee and "he" eats the carrots. WTF?!
There's also another scene where this guy purporting to be an American Indian (though he doesn't look it) starts going on and on about the benefits of being an authentic American Indian and it goes on way too long and serves absolutely no real purpose to the story other than to bore you. I think this guy Cullen Blaine has some thing with stereotypes. I don't know, just a guess.
And if R.O.T.O.R. takes off his sunglasses, he can see into the past. Yes, he can see into the past.

The continuity goofs are amazingly endless in here, like nobody seemed to care that one shot will not match up with the next unless they pay close attention. You don't even need to play close attention because they are so terribly obvious that you notice them right away. Like the alarm clock that can't keep the right consistent time, or Coldyron saying in one scene that R.O.T.O.R. wasn't supposed to be ready for another 25 years. Then says 50 years in another scene, then says 4 years in yet another. It's amazing really, the complete lack of competence on display here.
Special effects? Except for a really bad stop motion effect at the beginning (where most of there budget obviously went) and a couple of negative shots that are supposed to substitute for the robot cop's vision, there are none.
And contrary to what that badass poster shows, he does "NOT" look like that in this. He just looks like a normal dude with a 70's porn star mustache, cheesy 80's sunglasses that cover half his face and never once takes his motorcycle helmet off. Oh, and while were on the subject of his helmet. Do you remember way back in the day they used to sell those stickers in those coin machines that you would find in places like Wal-mart and K-Mart by the front entrance? They were kinda glittery and when you looked at it in different directions it would turn a slightly different color? Well that's what they have on this R.O.T.O.R.'S helmet. I shit you not. That's obviously a part of there "costume" department.It's of an eagle and I know with every fiber of my being that I actually owned one of those when I was a kid.

R.O.T.O.R. stands for Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research. A prototype robot officer malfunctions and escapes from the research building and goes on a killing rampage. That's the story in a nutshell.

Oh my lord. I could go on and on about this tragic piece of celluloid. I remember when this came out in '88 and actually renting it, but I was 12 so I don't remember anything about it. And I had hoped that it would have been a fine example of "Awfully Good" in the low-budget world of cyborg cinema. Not gonna happen with this one folks.
One of the most hilarious aspects of this thing, as pointed out by another reviewer, is that the opening sequence of the film tells you exactly what's going to happen at the end, basically letting you know that you're going to be wasting the next 90 minutes of your life. Who the hell tells you how the film ends, right when it begins?!

I would normally demand those 90 minutes of my life wasted on this Terminator/Robocop ripoff back, but I must admit that I got a really good laugh out of it. So it doesn't feel completely wasted.

Review: The Horde

Directed by:
Yannik Dahan, Benjamin Rocher
Category: Horror

An end of the world battle between 
gangsters, cops and zombies

Wow! Now this is a fuckin' zombie flick. Having read only very little about it, The Horde defied my expectations,exceeded them and continued to kick my ass for the next 90 minutes.

Funny thing is that I've actually had this film in my possession for almost a year, and only now took the time to actually sit down to watch it uninterrupted. I could kick myself for waiting so long because in all honesty, I haven't seen an honest to goodness well made zombie flick in a really long time and The Horde certainly fits the bill. It doesn't waste any time in getting to the point and pulls no punches in it's depiction of gore and violence and just when you think it can't top itself with some crazy, over the top sequence it one-ups itself with something truly memorable. I can't remember the last time I had such a good time watching a "fast" zombies film. I'd have to say Dan O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead (my favorite zombie flick ever) might have been the last time. I thorougly enjoyed 2010's The Crazies quite a bit, but it slowed down a lot from time to time to build up tension and suspence where as Return of the Living Dead and now The Horde are just plain relentless. This film never stops long enough to catch it's breath and the overwhelming sense of dread and survival between cops and gangsters set in a claustrophobic high rise only lend to it's inspired take on the zombie genre.

I had seen the trailer some time back, and read a few reviews and news bits here and there, but nothing really to get me excited about it. Even the trailer, at least at the time, seemed to underwhelm me. In all honesty I thought it looked like a low budget French Direct-to-DVD zombie flick and that's how it stuck in my head all this time. Boy was I wrong. Stylishly directed like only the French can do it, gorier than any horror film I've seen this year and feverishly paced with originality to spare, The Horde delivers the goods with plenty of "Oh Shit!" moments, which is a requirement for any true filmgeek.

This film surprised me in almost every aspect from the effects, to the acting, directing, pace, and structure. The film is awesome from beginning to end, but there are two standout sequences that really make this thing totally badass. One sequence is where one of the main characters Ouessem is cornered on the top of a car completely surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of zombies all wanting to tear this guy apart. Kind of like the cover poster, only he's by himself. This sequence is long, brutal, violent and beautifully constructed.
Another is when three characters are stuck in a long hallway trying to break down a door to escape. A horde of zombies are fast approaching down the long skinny hallway when one of the characters opens fire with a huge mother of a gun blowing these zombies to shreds. Another long and gory sequence that was so damn creative and over the top that I was almost cheering at how badass it was.

A group of cops charge a dilapidated building in a rescue attempt as they try to find one of there own being held hostage by a group of ruthless gangsters in one of the rooms. The rescue goes completely awry and now find themselves being held hostage. Moments later though the cops and the gangsters realize they are not alone and soon find out that the building as well as the entire city is being overrun by zombies. So now they must put aside there differences and work together to try and make it out alive.  

This film is all about crushing your false pretenses, or at least mine anyway. I didn't think it was going to be as good as it was. I didn't think the survivor or survivors (not gonna give away that little bit of info) would be the person or persons to make it to the end. I didn't think this thing was going to be as bloody as it was, which was a nice surprise.
All of these pretenses quickly proven wrong.

I like how it got right to the point and doesn't try to build any backstory on any of the characters or any silly flashbacks and offers no explanation as to why people are turning into zombies in the first place. They just are and you just have to accept it. Besides, you're just trying to survive. Spending any time trying to figure out the "why" is a waste of extremely valuable time.
Definitely a zombie film worth checking out whether your in the mood for one or not. It kicks all kinds of ass. Yea, there are gonna be zombie "purists" out there who can and will rip this film apart with some of the slight inconsistencies. But if you're not trying to nitpick it to pieces then you'll definitely enjoy the hell out of this one.


Review: Blastfighter

Directed by: Lamberto Bava
Category: Exploitation

Hhhhmm, now this one was a little strange. It's a hybrid of both Rambo and Deliverance and directed by Italian horror master Lamberto Bava. For some reason, that combination just does not gel well naturally in my head. So I wasn't sure how this thing was gonna turn out. I was excited though, because the combination of horror director and exploitation "could" work if handled properly.

My verdict is that it was just alright. Not nearly as badass as the picture I had envisioned in my head. Especially since if you look for it in a Region 2 DVD (unavailable in the U.S.), it's sold as a special uncut edition so immediately your thinking that this thing is going to be violent as hell like only a gifted Italian horror director can do it. Not in this case. Honestly, it's pretty standard stuff and with the exception of a few minor changes, it's pretty much First Blood. Throw in the rednecks from Deliverance and you have Blastfighter, just with not as much action and excitement. There are a lot of fist fights and some chases here and there, but most of the action is saved for the finale and while it's cool, it's not as creative or as bloody as you were hoping for. Which still surprises me that a director mainly known for Italian horror like Macabre, Demons 1 & 2 and A Blade in the Dark would try his hand at this kind of genre without going full on exploitation. It's really tame and restrained and I kept waiting and waiting for an "oh shit!" moment but it never came. I don't know, maybe this was his attempt at a stylish back woods adventure picture. The kind of film you would never expect a respected horror director to attempt.

Image courtesy of VHSWasteland.com and Redguts
Blastfighter stars Michael Sopkiw (After the Fall of New York) as an ex-cop named Tiger who's just gotten out of prison after spending 10 year for killing his wife's murderer. Once released he's given this huge and crazy "shotgun" that apparently can shoot pretty much every known bullet known to man, even rockets and gas. He's given this weapon because he wants to seek retaliation on the people who sent him to prison. But in the last second he changes his mind and decides all he wants to do is go back home and live alone in the mountains minding his own business. Only thing is that the local rednecks don't seem to like him and constantly do everything they can to get under his skin. Problem is that the leader of this gang of rednecks is the brother of an old friend of his, which complicates things. In the meantime Tiger's estranged daughter shows up out of nowhere intent on starting a new relationship with her father. He'll have no part of that. But naturally he begins to warm up to her and the idea of being a father again but of course that's when all the real trouble with the rednecks begins and it's through his relationship with his daughter that the gang feels they have his Achilles Heel. The one thing that they can use to get to him. Ultimately Tiger uses his survival skills to hunt them down one by one in a tale of redemption and revenge. 

It's an Italian production, so with the exception of star Michael Sopkiw and a few other barely there extras, the entire cast is Italian which means the movie is heavily dubbed, and not very well unfortunately. The dubbing is so off most of the time that it ends up becoming a distraction as the words clearly don't match the movements of the lips of any of the actors, much less the leads. 
I will say, Sopkiw does play a pretty mean badass in this and it's strange that he only made enough films you can literally count on one hand and then disappeared. He's not big or imposing or anything, but man the dude can stand his own against a group of ruffians and isn't afraid to throw a punch.

If you're looking for a lower budget First Blood, then you'll probably like this. It's made really well and Lamberto Bava certainly knows how to frame a picture in beautiful Anamorphic Widescreen. It has it's moments but you can't help but think that something with a title like Blastfighter directed by a filmmaker in the Italian world of horror that this thing should have been much more spectacular. Even the poster is a little misleading with that badass gun. He's given the gun in the beginning and within 5 minutes of the film he's buried it in his home and doesn't bust it out until the very end when he's hell bent on revenge. So for over an hour it's just him with no weapon running through the woods and evading the local redneck gang using his survival skills. Even then if the hand to hand kills would have been awesome or at least a "little" creative then at least that would have made it stand out a little more, but again we're left disappointed at the missed opportunity. 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

VHS scan courtesy of VHSwasteland.com
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Category: Horror

You know, for all the flack that Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 gets for having barely any blood or gore I'm still kinda shocked that nobody ever gives this entry any shit for a number of reasons because this one has so much more wrong with it than Part 3.

For me, this wasn't the sequel we all waited 12 years for. A satire of the original? I don't think so. Because that's all this is, a satire playing on the horror's of the original for laughs.

I tried really, really hard to enjoy it but I just couldn't get past the silliness of it all. I mean, look at that cover! It's a mock up of The Breakfast Club poster. That should have been our first clue. TCM2 is not scary, even in the slightest and I don't think it ever tries to be. And one of the biggest things that bugged me the entire time is that unless you watch this thing with subtitles, you can't understand a single damn word that comes out of Chop-Top and The Cook's mouths. It's almost like they ad-libbed most of there dialogue with as many four letter words and a slew of ones I'd never even heard of as they could think of in that very moment and a lot of it is completely unintelligible. I honestly couldn't understand most of it, but that's just me.

The film certainly looks nice and director Tobe Hooper's visual talents are on full display here, as is Tom Savini's incredible makeup work. But unfortunately that doesn't save this thing from kinda dull, not scary and just plain weird in some parts. Now, it does have it's moments for sure, like when Stretch has to wear the face of her co-worker when she sneaks into there compound and Leatherface discovers her, forcing her to wear his face mask. Then he wakes up missing his face after we all thought he was dead! That was kinda cool and really awesome makeup work from Savini. Another is when Leatherface and Chop-Top show up at the radio station to kill Stretch and Leatherface has cornered Stretch after crashing through a wall and ends up becoming sexually aroused with his chainsaw between her legs. Kinda weird, but cool.
The first sequence where Leatherface and the gang are in that blue pickup truck and chase the car of yuppies on the bridge while driving backwards was probably the best sequence in the film. Really well staged, shot and executed right down to the yuppies head getting sawed in half. Just awesome work from everyone involved.
As much as I love Bill Moseley, I think he overdid his role here and just came off as a silly characature of the original character (the hitchhiker) from the first film. Dennis Hopper adds a little bit of cred to the film by playing a Lieutenant form another county hot on the trail of the Sawyer gang as he believes they killed his nephew (the guy in the wheelchair from the first film). He's also pretty damn weird in here, but I can't fault him (though he's proven he can play crazy many times) as the script doesn't take any of these characters seriously at all. Like I said, it's a satire that's aimed at trying to make you laugh and for me, I just thought that was the wrong way to go.
I can't remember too much about the time when this first came out as I was only 10, but I remember the trailer really making this thing look crazy scary and exactly what the type of film we had been waiting 12 years for. The trailer seemed to promise on those expectations but totally did a 180 on us. People give TCM3 shit for not being bloody or gory, but with the exception of maybe 3 scenes, neither does this one. At least part 3, which has nothing to do with the storyline of 1 or 2, had an atmosphere of dread and suspense to it.

I hadn't seen this entry in a really long time and was hoping that my memories of it were somehow off with the passing of time and that it was actually much better than what I remember it being. Sad to say that isn't the case. I love me some Tobe Hooper and Tom Savini, but here it just seemed like there talents were wasted in this Chainsaw entry that played more for laughs than scares. It's not gory, scary or even entertaining the way a Chainsaw movie should be. I know I'll probably get flack for this, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the TCM remake from 2003 and even more so, the TCM:The Beginning sequel from 2006 so much more than this one. But hey, at least it's not as bad as Return of the Living Dead II. What an atrocity.


Review: Tango & Cash

Directed by: Andrey Konchalovskiy, Albert Magnoli
Category: Badass Cinema

Immediately after the title comes up, and before a single frame is shown, you hear Stallone utter the words "let's do it" to a blank screen. That pretty much set's up the tone for the film as you know that you're in for a really fun ride.

Tango & Cash is excess of the highest caliber in the world of 80's action cinema. This thing is so over the top and just plain ridiculous, but in such a fun way that you just can't help but love this thing.
You can immediately tell that they were going for a Lethal Weapon vibe here with the mismatched duo continually at odds with each other, but it works remarkably well here with Russell being a natural at this kinda role easily channeling Jack Burton while Stallone, though likable here, tries maybe a little too hard to be funny. But that's not the entire time and the movie does flip flop from funny to serious throughout, and when the action kicks in there's plenty of it and it's so over the top that it's such a blast to watch. There's easily at least a dozen instances where these guys should have died instantly but they keep trudging on with barely a scratch. That's my kinda action flick.

1989 is a very special year for me. I had also done a review about a week ago for another film from 1989, Ridley Scott's Black Rain. You can check out my review here. But 1989, to me, was the first year of the summer blockbusters. As mentioned in my Black Rain review, it was the summer that Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Ghostbusters II. I don't recall ever having a summer with this many films that made so much money. Before Batman, I don't remember any other summer film come out that had so much marketing, toy tie ins and anticipation since Return of the Jedi. But a few other gems were able to sneak out of that crazy year like Black Rain and Tango & Cash.

Tango & Cash kinda has a lot of everything in here. It's got a crazy amount of top notch action sequences, and it's also pretty funny. But right in the middle when they get framed for murder and get sent to prison, it sorta takes a darker more suspenseful tone. The score, especially the theme song, is pretty catchy; if not completely dated. It sounded a little too playful and cheesy for my taste and reminded me a lot of Beverly Hills Cop, but it didn't necessarily hurt the film. That kind of score would not work in an action film today, which certainly gives it that dated 80's feel whether you like it or not.

Tango (Stallone) is an LA cop who dresses like a banker, makes a shitload of money in the stock market and only works as a cop because he loves the job. Cash (Russell)  is a standout cop on the other side of town who's just as famous as Tango is, only he's more of a "get his hands dirty" kinda cop who clearly works because he has to and lives paycheck to paycheck. As they are both working on a drug dealing case, they get framed for a murder they didn't commit and sent to prison where they ultimately must escape and clear there names. 

That's all you really need to know. It's short, sweet and to the point......just like the film. There's no hidden messages or anything here. Just big budget Hollywood action of the highest degree with so many plot holes and inconsistencies that you often scratch your head in amazement.

For example:
- The first sequence when Cash is shown he goes into his apartment only to be shot at by an intruder. Obviously it's a hit and not a robbery but after the bad guy gets one shot in, Cash shoots back with one of his badass gun boots and then the guy takes off running like a Pansy. Weird when you consider that if the bad guy knew Cash was a cop wouldn't he expect him to fire back and retaliate?

- In the beginning of the film, Tango shoots the windshield of the semi and the bad guys slam on the brakes before it comes to a dead halt right in front of him. But how does it not keep rolling after the driver takes his foot off the brakes when they go crashing through the windsheild? Wouldn't it just keep rolling right over them once they take there foot off the pedal?

- Why, if the entire city's police force is after them since they escaped from prison and have had there pictures spread all over every newspaper, are they able to walk around in broad daylight?

- Tango and his sister Katherine are in a heated argument about who actually owns the house when Tango points out it's his house and let's her dwell there. She says she pays rent to which he replies "yea, and your 2 weeks late." Katherine then yells "Well if you would check your mail!" That makes no sense when you consider the fact that they both live in the same house. Why wouldn't she just leave the check on the counter like any other roommate?

- If the entire police force and now the FEDS are after Tango and Cash, why not stake out Tango's house? Wouldn't that be one of the first places he'd go?

- They keep calling one of the bad guys English, but he keeps saying stuff like "mate" and speaks with an Australian accent.

- And one of the biggest ones, when Tango and Cash escape from the prison they are on top of one of the prison buildings where they have to jump from the roof over the edge and grab an electric wire, sling there belt over it and use it to slide down the wire over the prison wall in the pouring rain. First of all, they woulda surely died. It's dark and raining and you can't see, so they would have missed that wire completely. And if they had seen it, they surely wouldn't have been able to actually grab it in the rain. But that's besides the point. During this sequence you see Tango in a wife-beater shirt and Cash in a sleeveless muscle shirt. But when the stunt doubles are doing the dangerous stuff Cash's double clearly has a regular shirt on with sleeves. And it goes back and forth from muscle shirt to t-shirt during this whole sequence and I remember even as a kid watching this in the theater how horribly obvious it was. That always drove me nuts. But anyway, enough of the nitpicking.

I remember reading that during production of this film director Andrey Konchalovskiy was fired and Purple Rain director Albert Magnoli was brought in to finish the film. At the time, remember this was before the internet so all the news I got was from movie magazines, it was said that Konchalovskiy was making the film too dramatic and let him go from the project. So there are two directors credited here, but when you watch it, you can't tell who did what scenes as there's no difference in style to differentiate the two. My guess is that Magnoli was brought in after principal photography was complete because it all looks like Konchalovskiy's work here and it looks great. The film has style written all over it, even when the cheesy music and the comedy bits come into  play, and I wish he had done more action in his career.

One of the standout things from this film is the awesome cast of B-Movie regular baddies that are in here. Brion James, James Hong, Jack Palance and the one and only Robert "Maniac Cop" Z'Dar all give this film that extra bit of badassness that would sorely have been missing. And a young Terri Hatcher, when she was cute, is not half bad as Tango's sister Katherine. Oh! And if you missed it, Ozone (Adolfo Quinones) from Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo shows up here in the scene where Cash goes to meet Tango's sister at the nightclub. He's the dude in the leather getup without any lines. If you don't pay attention, you'll miss it. I had always thought that was him, but it's nice to have IMDB to confirm it.

One thing that always bugged me about this is that in the trailers, there are at least 3 scenes that are not in the film and I always hoped that they would release an uncut version some day, or at least a director's cut.
I should also mention that this has probably the most badass truck I've ever seen on film. I don't know what you call it, but holy shit this thing rules. It's just a complete monster with a Gatling gun mounted on the side and a machine gun spraying bullets from it's hood.

I love this late 80's action treat. Whenever i'm in a rut or have just seen something truly awful it's films like this that always reignites my passion for awesome action cinema. It was just the vehicle Stallone needed at the time after back to back clunkers like Rambo III and Over the Top. Only problem was that he went on to make Oscar and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot after this. So you never know I guess.


Review: Eliminators

Image courtesy of VHSWasteland.com and Vestron Dan

Directed by:
Peter Manoogian
Category: Cult Classics

Wow. It's amazing how your memory as a kid watching a film like this back in 1986 can be so off the mark.
I remember this flick fondly, having had the VHS in my home and watching it often. I don't know, I think  it might have just been that badass cover or the cool concept of the Mandroid. In either case, I was way off the mark and as I watched this tonight all I could think of was when will it be over. I wanted to just stop watching it but then thought, "what if it had something super cool at the end. A saving grace?". Not here folks.

Mandroid. Mercenary. Scientist. Ninja. 
Each one a specialist. 
Together they are ELIMINATORS!

So I feel before I go any further that I should say that the title and the tagline are completely misleading. They are not a group of specialists who come together to form an elite group called the Eliminators. They're not like the A-Team or anything, so you can't give them a name like Eliminators like they're soldiers of fortune or some shit like that. That kinda pisses me off as I was thinking this was going to be a totally different kinda flick and what I got was a lame super low-budget kiddie Saturday afternoon popcorn flick clearly aimed at kids. Oh, and that badass tank looking thing that the Mandroid rides? He only uses it for the first 10 minutes of the movie and that's it. When he "was" using it, that thing was sweet! But then he detaches himself from it and puts his robot legs on and that's how he moves around for the rest of this things. Again, another misleading factor you need to know before going into this. 

So they are "NOT" Eliminators, but rahter a group of people that just so happen to come together by chance and not on any real mission. The mercenary is not a mercenary but a river guide. And he's only in it for the money. The ninja only shows up in the last 15 minutes of the movie and only by chance as he's on his own mission to look for his father who's been missing. The mandroid is a half man half android who was created and designed for space missions. The thing is that the evil scientist Abbott Reeves uses Dr. Nora Hunter's science and technology for evil and when he tries to destroy the mandroid, he escapes and enlists the help of Dr. Hunter. Only then does she learn her inventions are being used for Reeves own personal gain and not for a space program like she had intended. So Hunter and the Mandroid take off to go find this Dr. Reeves and stop him from using this technology for evil. 

I don't want to get into any more of the plot as honestly, it's a waste of time. I was severely disappointed in almost every aspect of this thing. Production, effects, story, direction, editing, structure.....everything. The only decent aspect was maybe the acting, but that's it. It has a pretty decent opening, but drags severely in the entire middle only to be given a big ending that feels half assed and a wasted opportunity due to the extremely limited budget. It's almost like why bother if you know you don't have any money to make it look at least decent? 

So the writing team of Paul De Meo and Danny Bilson have done mostly low grade stuff with the exception of a few television series and The Rocketeer, which was actually really good. They also wrote the original Trancers. After this they wrote another movie called Arena that was also directed by the director of this disaster Peter Manoogian from 1989. That movie, if I remember correctly (and my mind's not playing tricks on me again) was not half bad. It was about gladiators in space who fought for a show or something and the star was a Christopher Reeve lookalike except with blonde curly hair who fought all these different aliens. Low-budget but much better than this stuff. I'm sorry, but this guy just does not have the chops to direct a movie. And certainly not something with this kinda story that "could" have been badass had it had a more competent director and sharper script. I mean, who doesn't want to see a movie about a Mandroid, ninja, mercenary and scientist on a quest to stop evil? The concept is cool, but the execution was to put it simply, bad.

Eliminators.......pssh! They should have saved that name for something way cooler than this.
I do love that VHS cover art though. It at least has that going for it and must be the reason I kept thinking this thing was badass. Funny.

A special thank you to Vestron Dan and VHS Wasteland for the VHS cover scan.

Review: Hellbound-Hellraiser 2

Image courtesy of VHSWasteland.com
Directed by: Tony Randel
Category: Horror

Time to Play

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is one of those rare examples, especially in the field of horror, where the sequel actually improves on the original. Clive Barker was still heavily involved at this point, only this time he handed the directing reigns over to Tony Randel and the writing duties to Peter Atkins, who would go on to write the 2 intallments immediately following this one also.

Hellbound picks up immediately right after the events of the first one, which I think was brilliant. Kirsty is in a mental hospital run by the evil Dr. Channard. Kirsty certainly acts crazy, but for some reason a young doctor named Kyle has taken a liking to her. When Kirsty keeps screaming about destroying the bloody mattress that Julia died on, nobody listens and thinks she's just crazy and paranoid. That is until Kyle overhears a phone conversation in which Dr. Channard requests that the bloody mattress be delivered to his home and not the institute. Kyle decides to do a little investigating and discovers his boss, Dr. Channard, has been involved in this stuff for years having a collection of relics and unknown objects in his office. Most notably a collection of the famous "puzzle boxes". I always thought there was just one, but here they show that there are many and Channard possesses quite a few of them, but has never been able to solve it. One the day that Kyle has gone to snoop around Channard's house Channard has brought one of his mental patients over to his house. This is the guy who keeps screaming "get them off me" as he thinks he's covered in maggots. Channard gives him a razor blade as he sits him on the bloody bed that Julia had died on. The guy starts hacking away at the imaginary maggots on his body with the razor blade in one of the most graphic and bloody sequences I've ever seen in a horror movie. With this guy's copious amount of blood Julia is able to be reborn as they say. Only she's skinless as she needs many more victims to fully regenerate. And this is the beginning of one of the greatest horror sequels in history.

What follows is Kyle busting Kirsty out of the mental hospital, since he now believes her, Julia and Dr. Channard finally getting the puzzle box opened with the help of another one of his patients eventually opening the gates of hell leading to the labyrinth, Kirsty coping a deal with Pinhead and the Cenobites so she can go into the labyrinth to find her father who died in the first one, Julia becoming the queen bitch of evil and Channard ultimately becoming one bad motherfucker as Julia turns him into a Cenobite.

We have eternity to know your flesh

I love that this was made in the late 80's because had it been made today or even in the late 90's the whole labyrinth setting would surely have been done completely CGI. Which woulda killed the film as at least half of it takes place in this hellish setting. Here everything for the most part is practical physical sets. Sets you can actually touch and feel and makes everything look so much more real and organic, even when it's pretty obvious they use the same set over and over again, just in different angles. It doesn't matter because it works. There are a few big wide shots of the labyrinth, but instead of going CGI they went with Matte Paintings, which was another brilliant move. I remember reading a lot of reviews when this first came out and most of them derided this film for so many reasons. Cheap looking sets, incoherent plot and just the fact that it was so bloody. And, mind you, this was the theatrical cut. Technically it was a hit as it made 4 times what it's budget was and I remember the studio's kinda being a little shocked since they didn't think it would even do that much because it's original budget was much bigger but ended up being severely cut by the studio at the last minute. Still, I think it looks great. The sets, the special effects, the outstanding makeup effects, it all works superbly here.

Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell

There are three things that stand out more than anything else in this film. 
First) Tony Randel's direction is perfect and his particular style works so well here. It's not too flashy or stylish, but he picks the angles that work the best and one thing that I love the most is that he's not afraid to use a dolly shot. He uses these kind of shots often, even when you wouldn't expect a director to, and they add so much more substance to the scene. For some reason he never had a film as big as this one. This was his second go at directing after having a co-directors credit on Def-con 4, a film I actually remember seeing back in the day.But every other movie he ever directed after this went straight to video and I'm kinda shocked at that fact. I think Fist of the North Star was his only other well known film and I remember not liking that one at all. It's a shame really. He deserved a better career after giving us the "best" Hellraiser film out of the series. 
Two) Christopher Young's bombastic score is something to behold. It's loud with such an epicness to it. Right from the opening credits it's a score unlike anything you've ever heard in a horror film before and it's a score I love to this very day. I used to own this soundtrack at one time, but I don't know what ever happened to my CD. I remember even using the theme song for a video project I did in English class in high school and the teacher loving it so much that she stole the only copy of this project I had. Thanks teach! 
Third) The makeup effects........truly outstanding. They are just incredible for the entire film, but there are two sequences where they really outdo themselves. The first is when Channard gets the mental patient to sit on the bloody bed and proceeds to cut at his body with the razor blade. Fuck that scene was inense. In the uncut version it just seems to go on forever and ever, not like the theatrical cut where it's a mere 5 seconds maybe. The other scene is when Julia pushes Channard into the elevator thing in the labyrinth where he ultimately is turned into a Cenobite. Gruesome stuff man and really well executed. I could be wrong, but I think the uncut version of Hellbound is probably the bloodiest and goriest of the series. 

Amazingly they were able to get 99% of the original cast to return for this. Andrew Robinson who played Kirsty's dad didn't want to return for some reason, and you can tell the chick playing the female Cenobite is different, but other than that the principal actors Ashley Laurence, Claire Higgins, Doug Bradley and Sean Chapman (Kirsy, Julia, Pinhead and Uncle Frank respectively) returned to play there characters once again. A really cool aspect of this entry is that we get to see who Pinhead was before he became Pinhead. He was actually a man once, a Captain in the British Army to be exact, and it's this bit of information that will come to play later in the film.

One thing to remember if you're going to watch this again is that there are 2 versions of this film out, the theatrical and the uncut version. This film has been released numerous times in both versions so you'll have to be careful which one you get. The uncut version is a must so I suggest finding this cut. The uncut version is 99 minutes long and the theatrical cut about 3 minutes shorter. Believe me, those 3 minutes count! So whatever you do, just be sure that your watching the 99 minute version. As a suggestion, seek out one of Anchor Bay's releases, but since they've released both versions of the film at different times, you'll still have to make sure it's the unrated version. Oddly on VHS there are three versions from many distributors, but surprisingly it "was" released uncut and in letterbox. Starmaker released a 93 minute version some time back on VHS, which would make it the shortest, even shorter than the theatrical cut, and I can't imagine what else they could possibly cut out. You'll remember it as being the stupidest picture of Pinhead ever. It's a photo of him holding the puzzle box standing next to the female Cenobite kind of standing at a tilt with a smirk on his face. That cover was the worst possible picture they could have chosen to use because he looks just plain stupid. Do not watch this version.

One of my biggest gripes would be that in the final battle at the end between the Cenobites and Cenobite Channard, Pinhead and his gang don't put up much of a fight. It's so misleading because Cenobite Channard shows up outta nowhere and there looks to be a showdown between him and the other Cenobites. It looks so cool, like a Mexican standoff, only it just doesn't deliver. I mean, the other Cenobites don't do shit to begin with, but all Pinhead does is shoot a few chains with hooks at Cenobite Channard, who in turn cuts them off immediately. And that's all he does. He just stands there as Cenobite Channard kills the other Cenobites and again just stands there while Cenobite Channard shoots some kind of light rays at him that slowly turns him back to human. He takes one last look at Kirsty, almost like he's saying "thank you", and let's Cenobite Channard cut his throat where he ultimately bleeds to death. It's never really explained why he does this or if he did it on purpose so Kirsty can escape. But in any case, whatta wus. That always pissed me off. Pinhead is supposed to be so evil and threatening, basically being the collector of hell or whatever and when his powers are finally put to the test in a fight, he just stands there. Lame!

The final battle not withstanding, this is a truly great horror sequel, of which there are very few. There are many quotable and memorable lines, all of which I still quote 23 years later. Somehow, all of the right talent came together at just the right time to make a truly remarkable entry in the field of horror.


Giorgio Moroder's Metropolis (1984) finally hitting DVD & Blu-ray!!

Image courtesy of robotGEEKS Cult Cinema.
If you use this image, give credit where credit is due.

Now this is probably the BEST news I've heard all week.
Fisrt I need to thank my good friend and fellow Metropolis fanatic Lisa for turning me onto this bit of exciting news. Thanks Lisa!

Metropolis is my absolute favorite film of all time. Released in 1926 and directed by Fritz Lang, it remains one of the most influential science fiction films of all time and a landmark in production design and special effects. 
Of all the versions that has been released since it's original and drastically cut version in 1926 in Germany, and there have been many, my favorite version is Giorgio Moroder's version from 1984. When originally released in 1926 in Germany, it was deemed too long and epic and too depressing. It was drastically edited against Fritz Lang's protests and all the cut footage thought lost forever is still being found to this day all over the world. 
If you don't know anything about this version, basically Giorgio Moroder is a music composer and producer who did music for a lot of films, most memorably for Scarface, Cat People and Flashdance. In 1984 he took the then most complete elements found up to that date and added rock music from some of the biggest rock acts in that time like Freddy Mercury, Bonny Tyler, Billy Squier and Queen to name a few. In addition he also added newly found footage, images, intertitles and also put different colored tints to certain sections. I love this movie so much! Yea, the music is absolutely dated, but it works for this film and only adds to it's charm. I actually have this poster hanging in my living room wall and still own the vinyl double LP that I frequently jam in my record player. 
Unfortunately, this version of the film has "never" been released on DVD and has only been available on VHS. Depending on when you're looking for it, the VHS alone can get pretty expensive. I'm actually embarrassed to admit what I ultimately paid for mine 10 years ago during a bidding war on eBay with some schmuck. But I won!
So now after 27 years we are finally going to get a proper DVD and Blu-ray release of this landmark film in it's most awesome version. I could't be happier right now.

Here's the article via indieWIRE:
by Nigel M Smith (August 25, 2011)

Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” seems to be the classic that keeps on giving.

With several versions of the film available on DVD, last year saw the “definitive” edition of the film, featuring about 30 minutes of newly reinstated footage, hit screens around the globe.

This year, Kino Lorber will release Academy Award-winning composer Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 remix of the classic that includes a pop/rock soundtrack featuring songs by Pat Benatar, Billy Squier, Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler, Adam Ant, Jon Anderson and others.

On top of the revamped soundtrack, “Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis” features footage not included in the initial version, new sound effects, color tinting and subtitles that replace the film’s original intertitles.

Kino Lorber is presenting a new HD transfer of the 1984 release in a series of exclusive theatrical engagements in over 20 U.S. markets. Go here to see where it’s playing.

It hits Blu-ray and DVD on November 15. The Blu-ray and DVD editions will include “The Fading Image,” a documentary produced by Moroder which chronicles his work on the restoration.


Review: Black Rain

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Category: Badass Cinema

After 3 lackluster films in a row these past few days I felt I needed to reignite my passion for Badass Cinema with something familiar from my personal collection.
Black Rain is a film I deeply love. This film is so badass in so many ways and it all works so perfectly that I find myself busting out my well worn DVD and watching it at least once a year.
Michael Douglas is a total badass in here and at the top of his game. The guy just rules people. When he had that cancer scare recently I immediately started thinking of all the films I could remember that he was in and was kind of amazed at how awesome his career was as both an actor and producer and that I never stopped to think how important this guy was in the world of cinema. I mean, come on people! He's Jack Colton, William "D-Fens" Foster and Gordon Gekko!

Visually, this is one of my favorite Ridley Scott films. This was during a period in his career when Scott was doing stuff like thrillers with Someone To Watch Over Me, this and then Thelma and Louise after having made nothing but huge lavish productions in the sci-fi and fantasy genre for a few years. This is the Ridley Scott I love. Don't get me wrong, Alien and Blade Runner are some of my favorite sci-fi flicks ever as well as some of his big budget period pieces, but I miss the guy who gave us hard edged action gems like this. I wish he had made more of these. I suppose he still could, but it seems highly unlikely with word that he's now following up Prometheus with a Blade Runner sequel. But anyway, we still have Black Rain, right?!

Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) is a New York cop with a bad attitude who works the beat with his partner Charlie (Andy Garcia). These two are the perfect good cop/bad cop combination as Charlie is just so damn likable that you just want to be his best friend, while Nick is just a prick. While they're at a local restaurant one day they witness a Japanese mafia hit by the ruthless Sato (Yusaku Matsuda) and are sucked into the world of the Yakuza. 
After capturing Sato in the U.S. they are ordered to transport him to Japan, but he escapes and they are left trying to recapture him with help from there local liaison Masahiro (Ken Takakura). Immediately Nick doesn't like the stiff Masahiro and Masahiro just cannot understand the barbaric methods that Nick chooses to use while on the case. One night while in Japan Nick and Charlie are sabotaged by a motorcycle gang and Charlie is brutally murdered by Sato himself. This is the final straw that pushes Nick over the edge and it's at this point that the film ultimately becomes a film about revenge. Fuck the job and fuck the case. Sato killed his best friend and partner and now he's gonna pay.

This film has such a sharp script with really well fleshed out characters. Nick is such an ass most of the time, but you feel for the guy because though he may not be Mr. Personality, he's good at his job, takes it very seriously and is loyal to his friends. It just seems that often times he's just got too many cards stacked against him. Andy Garcia is also a real standout here. The guy is so charming and a goody-two-shoes that when he ultimately meets his demise, it hits you hard because you really wanted this guy to make it to the end. That particular sequence is a standout scene in here and really well executed.
Ridley Scott's direction is also what makes this one stand out. It's just beautiful to look at. When the action comes around, he handles it incredibly well. It's not really an all out action flick as it is more of a detective thriller. But there's still plenty of action to wet your appetite and the Japanese cityscape gives Scott plenty to play with in terms of visuals, even though they were heavily restricted because of the filming rules in Japan, which are pretty strict.

Michael Douglas, to my knowledge, hadn't really played a character like this before. And it's strange because he's so good at it. I would've loved to have seen him play more characters like this. Yea he's played a cop before, but he's never played a down and out dirty cop with a bad attitude. With films like Wall Street, The Game and A Perfect Murder he showed us how good he is at playing rich assholes. But with Black Rain he proved he can also do a badass cop like Cobra or Dirty Harry.

Black Rain seemed to have come out of nowhere in a year when big budget summer blockbusters like Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Ghostbusters II were ruling the box office. But it stood out in the crowd because Michael Douglas and Ridley Scott were at the top of there game and an undeniable force to be reckoned with. If you haven't seen this one in a while, do yourself a favor and give it another look and re-immerse yourself in this stylish, hard-edged detective thriller set in the world of the Japanese Yakuza.

Star Wars Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Cube Tray

I'm sorry, but this is just kinda too cool to not mention.

Click on the link below to check out this awesome item over at Thinkgeek.

Star Wars Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Cube Tray


Massacre Video to release the Cult Classic horror film 555!!!

For me, one of the best things about doing this movie blog is the badass people I've met along the way. My man Ingo over at Hellford667, my man Ty over at Comeuppance Reviews and Jayson at Ghoul Basement who just so happened to be the one who pointed me to this awesome bit of news. Thanks Jayson!

For the first time on OFFICIAL DVD is Wally Koz's 1988 shot-on-video splatter masterpiece "555"!
A hippie killer with a sex-fueled, murderous bloodlust is on a rampage and he’s brutally murdering innocent young couples! A nationwide trend of killings with the same m.o. happens to catch the eyes of Detective Haller and Sergeant Connor. Every five years, within five days of each other, the killer strikes! Now it’s up to Haller and Connor to find out who is behind these grisly murders. Who is this crazed, blood thirsty hippie? And more importantly, what is the significance of the third ‘five’? Prepare yourself for this blood-soaked, psycho thriller that will make you watch your back the next time you fool around!

So the folks over at Massacre Video have chosen the legendary cult film 555 as there first official release. What makes the release more badass is the fact that they've chosen to release this film in 3 different formats. VHS, DVD and a Limited Edition DVD set.

The VHS edition was limited to only 50 copies and has unfortunately been sold out. The standard DVD edition is still available at a very reasonable price of only $20 and features a nice selection of special features. The Limited Edition DVD is also still temporarily available and comes with a custom VHS cover box as well as an array of goodies like pins, cloth patch, stickers, replica video poster, art and autographed postcards and extremely limited to only 100 copies at a price of $65. 
Please note: These are pre-orders and these items will not ship until October 4th!
I get pretty excited when little companies like this have chosen to go back to the retro VHS format when releasing little known and seen cult films. The awesome folks over at Mondo recently did it with 2 different VHS releases recently, both of which sold out within a matter of minutes. That just goes to show you that there are a lot of us VHS enthusiasts still out there and there's still a market for them. I kick myself for not jumping on the bandwagon over at Mondo when they were released. I'm all over it for there next release though. But now finding out that another company is doing the same thing is just exciting. I hope Massacre Video has a long and lustrous career in the cult film world. 
I do remember this film coming out back in the day, mainly reading about it in Fangoria Magazine, and remembering that I was not ever able to find it. It had an extremely limited release and has long been out of print. If you ever find it online, it's sure to be ridiculously expensive.  So here's your chance to finally get your hands on a little piece of Cult Cinema history. I've already got my order in, make sure to get yours. 


Massacre Video Store is Currently Down

Bad news horror fans. Seems that as of today 8-26-11, there might be a delay in getting the 555 DVD released. If you've already placed a pre-order, then your payment has probably already been refunded. But Loui is setting up payment through another merchant and once that is set up, everything should get back on track. He will then send out another announcement when he's all set up somewhere else and ready to proceed. 
Check back for further details!
Here's a post from the Massacre Video website via Loui:

If you may notice, the Massacre Video store is temporarily down. Long story short, PayPal feels that I should not be able to spend any of the pre-order money to make the product! They refuse to unlock the money until I ship the product out, which is counterproductive because without the money I can not pay for the product to be created, so how could it be shipped? After speaking to PayPal representatives for hours on end, I realized I hit a brick wall and they do not care about the little company or how they could possibly corrupt it.
Within a day or so I will post again to let everyone know what is currently going on with the pre-orders! TO EVERYONE WHO HAS PRE-ORDERED, YOUR ORDER WILL BE HONORED!
I have put a lot into this project already for it to fail at the last second due to a greedy multi-billionaire company such as PayPal. I will work diligently to make sure that this is solved in the fastest matter possible.
Thank you so much to everyone that has pre-ordered and please bear with me while I try to fix this shit storm!

UPDATE!! UPDATE!! - 8.30.11
I've just been informed by Louie that he's gotten set up with another merchant and that if you had already placed your order and been refunded because of the paypal mess, then he's probably already contacted you via email to let you know how to proceed  with your order. 

Review: Creature

Directed by: William Malone
Category: Sci-fi

I'm really trying to find something nice to say about this flick, but it's really hard. I sat through this thing waiting and waiting for that "oh shit" moment, but it never came. At least an "oh shit" moment woulda been something to remember this thing for. I had recently come across this forgotten piece of 80's sci-fi cinema and I foolishly thought to myself "What if this is one of those forgotten gems? One of those older flicks that I always meant to watch but never got around to. What if it's badass!?". NOPE!!!

Creature is a blatant ripoff of Alien through and through, right down to the creature design. That just needs to be known right from the start before I get into anything else and even if I didn't say anyhing, it's painfully obvious right from the beginning. I mean, it's like they weren't even trying to hide that fact. It's a B-movie creature feature with a decent budget, but because of it's inept writer/director it languishes in mediocrity for the entire duration. Even as a ripoff, had it been creative at least in it's visuals, that would be something. You could easily say "well the story and script were kinda lame, but it looked awesome!". Nope, not here folks. And that's really going to be the biggest complaint here, the many missed opportunities to take full advantage of the sets, atmosphere, effects and even the creature itself.
Writer/Director William Malone proves without a doubt that he's just not capable of handling such a project. The entire film takes place in space either on a space ship or an unknown planet, but the director films almost everything in closeups that you can't see anything and it's so frustrating. And i'm talking "everything". You never get any sense of space or atmosphere, only little hints here and there and it's such a waste. Everything is filmed in tight shots either closeup of the face or from the chest up. I swear it felt like I was watching a soap opera or something. Even with the framing of the shots and where he sets the camera, it's just so incompetent. It felt like I was watching a film by a first time director who overextended himself by believing he could handle a science fiction film. You're frustrated sequence after sequence and when it finally comes down to the big fight with the last of the crew and the alien, again you wanna scream at the television because again it's a closeup that shows nothing.

If this film had any good points it's three things.
First) The gore effects, of which there are very few, are actually pretty decent. You see a head explode and a face get ripped of it's skin. Wow, now that I think about it I think those were the only cool effects shots. Wow.
Second) The model and optical effects work are pretty top notch here. I never once thought it looked cheap or fake and actually outdoes a lot of other science fiction films that had come out around this time.
Third) I don't know how, but somehow they got the legendary Klaus Kinski to appear in a brief but memorable role here. I still struggle as to why he would agree to appear in something like this, but he does and you can tell he's having a blast. He plays strange like nobody else and whenever he's on screen, he completely outshines his costars.

It's more of an ensemble piece, but the other actors in here are OK I guess. Mostly unknown except for two of them. The main female character Beth (Wendy Sschaal) I remember from Innerspace and the totally awesome The Burbs (one of my favorite films). In The Burbs she played the sexy neighbor married to Bruce Dern's character. The other actor I recognized was Lyman Ward who played Ferris Bueller's father. Other than them and Kinski all the other actors are forgettable, as is the film itself.

William Malone I remember for making The House on Haunted Hill. But he mostly does television work, where it looks like he belongs. The guy just doesn't have the chops to do stuff like this. If it had at least had a visually impressive director who made better use of the atmosphere, surroundings and who had some skill with a camera then this could easily have passed for slightly entertaining. But I felt drained and annoyed as hell at all the missed opportunities. I remember this had a small theatrical release and i'm frankly shocked. Don't feel like wasting my energy on this one anymore, it sucked.

Hellraiser: Revelations trailer - truly and utterly horrible

I mean, just.............................wow.
What. A. Piece. Of. Shit.
I can't even begin to say what is wrong with this lame attempt at a Hellraiser film.
The horrible direction?
The bad acting?
The video camera bullshit ? (obviously used as a cop out so that they didn't have to put any effort or skill in actually filming anything)
The absence of Doug Bradley as Pinhead!!??
Who the hell is this guy? He looks ridiculous!

So apparently the legend himself Clive Barker was just as appalled as the rest of us with this poor excuse for a Hellraiser film that he took to twitter to voice his opinion. Here it is:

Hello,my friends. I want to put on record that the flic out there using the word Hellraiser IS NO FUCKIN' CHILD OF MINE!
I have NOTHING to do with the fuckin' thing. If they claim its from the mind of Clive Barker,it's a lie. It's not even from my butt-hole.


Review: Pumpkinhead

Directed by: Stan Winston
Category: Horror

A grim fairytale

In the world of sci-fi and horror, Stan Winston is a name we all know well. He's responsible for the design, creation and effects for some of the most important films in the last 30 years. Aliens, The Terminator, Predator, Edward Scissorhands and Jurassic Park are just some of his most famous creations, to name a few. But the list is vast and let's just say, the guy was a genius. In the middle of all this awesome makeup and effects work he took the time to direct a film here and there. Pumpkinhead being his first, and then 2 years later he made a film which I had never heard of before with Anthony Michael Hall called A Gnome Named Gnorm. But for the artists sake and to preserve the good name of Stan Winston, let's just say this film doesn't exist. It's with Pumpkinhead though that we're shown that the guy has the chops to pull off big budget monster flicks. And that's really all Pumpkinhead is, a monster flick. It's not really scary and though it would most certainly be categorized under horror, it's really just a showcase for the monster itself and all the work that went into creating it with the animatronics and practical effects work by his incredible team.

I hadn't seen this one since it probably first came out and my memories of it were strong with surreal images of the creature roaming the country side looking for it's victims with lightning and strobe light action whenever he showed up. Oh, and that Lance Henriksen was awesome as usual. Funny what time does to your memory. As I watched this again recently I was surprised that while the film is cool to look at and the creature effects are impressive, it's all quite boring. It's most troubling aspect is that the film moves at a snails pace sometimes and you just can't connect with any of the characters other than Henriksen's Ed Harley because of it's lackluster script. It's Henriksen who really raises this thing beyond B level quality with his portrayal of the backwoods convenience store owner who conjures up the revenge demon in a moment of rage, only to be torn morally with the decision he's made. And in all fairness, that's really what this film is, a B-level monster film. But Stan Winston gives us some impressive visuals and makes good use of the backwoods scenery and amazing practical effects.

Ed Harley is a backwoods convenience store owner who lives with his infant son out in the middle of nowhere. One day a group of city kids show up on there way to there rented cabin for a weekend of partying. While they're at the convenience store restocking on essentials one of the city kids decides to start his partying early by riding his dirt bike recklessly in the field near by, accidentally kitting and killing the shop owners son. In a panic the kids flee since the kid responsible has been drinking and already has a rap sheet. In a fit of rage Ed Harley conjurs up the Pumpkinhead, the spirit of vengeance to exact revenge on those responsible for his sons death. Only he gets more than he bargained for when he realizes that every time Pumpkinhead kills, Ed Harley see's and feels every death. Ultimately he's left with the choice of trying to save the kids and stop the creature himself. 

There are a lot of kills, but not a lot of gore. And for a horror movie, that's just not a good thing. And while the creature itself is big and intimidating, you really don't feel any sense of dread whenever it shows up because the thing is so damn big and clumsy, you're almost positive you can outrun it. Logically, it just doesn't scare very well. The reason why it's actually able to ever get any of these guys is because it just seems to miraculously appear outta nowhere at just the right time. Had it had to actually walk or whatever to it's intended destinations, I can assure you it wouldn't be as intimidating. Probably more out of breath and exhausted than anything else. But then again, maybe it's breath can be deadly too?
One of the more interesting aspects of the film is that everybody in this backwoods town knows of the Pumpkinhead legend. So much so that the kids even have a nursery rhyme about it. So when Pumpkinhead is out on the prowl, everyone locks there doors and shuts there windows until the creature has found it's intended victim. So it's more like "Oh shit, Pumpkinheads out again. Lock the doors and wait it out as usual until it's over."
The actors do a decent job here. None of them look familiar or stand out other than Jeff East who plays one of the city kids Chris. He was the young Clark Kent in the original Richard Donner directed Superman from 1978. The main problem with all of the characters from the city kids to the rednecks is that they're all so cliche'd. They're either one or the other in terms of city or backwoods and you don't care about any of them. But again, it's Lance's movie and he does the job better than anyone in here and get's it done right, right down to the fake teeth and dirty clothes.

It was fun to watch in retrospect, but mainly for the long forgotten days of practical creature effects work. It didn't seem to hold up nearly as well as I remember it being, but Lance Henriksen delivers one of his best performances and that along with Stan Winston's creative use of atmosphere and amazing creature effects work make this a tolerable horror experience. Much better than all the direct-to-video sequels anyway.