Happy Halloween!: Our They Live Cosplay

Sorry for the absence these last few days, but Halloween just so happens to also be our wedding anniversary, so I've been a little busy lately. Mostly with trying to get this They Live cosplay done, photographed, edited and put together kind of in the last minute. Every Halloween and Christmas my wife and partner in crime do a photoshoot centered around a favorite movie or show, but this October has been especially hectic for her, with little time to focus on anything else. But we were able to throw this one together rather quickly and we hope you dig it. I'm the alien and my wife is Nada.

I'm no Photoshop expert, and only possess pretty basic skills, but I really tried to give it an old vintage magazine ad look and feel, and I hope I succeeded. Now time to work on our upcoming Christmas cosplay....


The Barn Limited-Edition Blu Ray On Sale Right Now!

It’s Halloween 1989 and best friends Sam and Josh are just trying to enjoy their last “Devil’s Night” before graduating high school. Trouble soon arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within The Barn... The film stars Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Darling, Nickolaus Joshua with Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons and Return of the Living Dead) and Ari Lehman (the first Jason Voorhees from ‘Friday the 13th’). Featuring an original score by Rocky Gray the former member of Grammy award-winning goth/rock group 'Evanescence'.

New cover art by artist Graham Humphries
The Barn Merch Store now has The Barn Blu-ray IN STOCK for only $20 (It is currently being pre-ordered on Amazon for$34.99).  Purchase directly from their site and they can pass the savings on to you! Get our Limited Blu-ray release that will feature some really great additional goodies and even more bonus content not included on the 2 Disc Trick or Treat Set DVD.


Less than 120 copies out of 1,000 remain available from our first Blu-ray run. Order now so you don't miss out!!!
Via The Barn Merchandise Store:
The #1 question we receive on this site is..."Why no Blu or Digital?" Well, long story short...its been due to distribution talks and the need to have the ability to license rights...oh the joys of the business side of film-making.
Good news for you though, because of our multiple talks with distributors we now have the ability to sell the Blu-ray ourselves.The Barn Merch Store is now accepting Limited Blu-ray Sales for $19.99 (It will be available on Amazon for $34.99 list price).  
Original cover art on reverse sleeve
Purchase directly from our site and we can pass the savings on to YOU! Get our Special Edition Blu-ray release that will feature some really great additional goodies and even more bonus content not included on the 2 Disc Trick or Treat Set DVD. This is will not be the same Blu-ray (if we accept this the distribution deal) that could be released nationwide in 2018. You can also upgrade your copy to an "Autographed Blu-ray*" including signatures from Ari Lehman, Linnea Quigley and available cast and crew!
This Blu-ray will include a reversible sleeve featuring the classic "Sadist Art Designs" artwork on one side and a brand new design by "Graham Humphreys" on the other showcasing iconic scenes from the film.
This will include even more bonus content not included on the 2 Disc Trick or Treat Set DVD. Bonus Content Listed Below.

"THE MAKING OF A NIGHTMARE" is nearly an hour long documentary that tells the story of how the film began as a childhood dream and what it took for a group of dedicated individuals to create the finished project. Interviews from the cast and crew as well as Linnea Quigley, Ari Lehman and Rocky Gray.
Feature Film: (UNRATED)
Bonus Content Info- Over 90 minutes of Extras:
• Audio Commentary by Justin M. Seaman (Writer/Director), Mitchell Musolino (Actor - "Sam") and Zane Hershberger (Director of Photography)
• “The Making of a Nightmare” Documentary - Cast and Crew Interviews (Including Ari Lehman, Linnea Quigley and Rocky Gray)
• Gag Reel
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
   - "Mr. Daniels' Arrival"
   - "The Rock Block"
   - "Wheary Farms"
   - "I Don't Believe"
   - "Trick or Treat Montage"
 - "Razor Blades and Candy Bars" 
   - "The Legend is Real"
   - "Grave Danger"
• Alternate Ending
• “Harvest” Music Video by Rebel Flesh
• “All Hallow’s Eve” short film
• “World Wide Weird” London premiere reactions
• Trailers
• Commercials
• Original storybook
• Reversible cover artwork by Marc Schoenbach and Graham Humphreys
Number of Discs: 1
Single Layer Blu-ray Disc (25GB)
Region Free (Factory Pressed/NOT BD-R)
Unrated/Color/16:9 Widescreen/80 Mins
Subtitles: Spanish 
*Autographed Blu-ray- guaranteed signatures from Ari Lehman (Dr. Rock), Linnea Quigley (Ms. Barnhart), Mitchell Musolino (Sam) and Justin M. Seaman (writer/director and The Boogeyman) and any available cast and crew members. The original artwork by Sadist Art Designs is the side that is signed, not the reverse new art. 
You can now bring home the critically acclaimed and multiple award winning indie hit 'The Barn' on Blu-ray.
Voted “Most Anticipated Horror Film of 2016” on Horror Society, praised as “A Stunning Portal into Campy 80’s Horror” by Bloody-Disgusting and said to be “A film that will bring the Halloween spirit into your heart at any time of the year...” by Tom Holland’s Terror Time.


Retro Roundup: Airwolf Theme and Intro

Even though I never watched this show during it's initial run back in the 80's, somehow I knew this song and I never forgot it. Weird. Since I'm hitting the 80's shows pretty hard right now courtesy of Hulu Plus, I finally decided to dig into this one. I'm only on Part 2 of the 2-Part Season 1 Pilot, but so far it's just okay. That first episode wasn't very strong, but I've also noticed that can be typical for these shows. I felt the same way about The Greatest American Hero, but as the season progressed, it got better and stronger, finally finding it's stride. I'm hoping the same will happen with this one.

One of the shows strongest elements is undoubtedly it's intro theme and score, courtesy of Sylvester Levay. It's pure 80's synth magic and easily one of the best 80's intro themes ever made.

This intro floored me. It's amazing. Considering they only used footage from the very first episode, it's even more impressive because that episode wasn't anything to get excited about. But it's that song, courtesy of Sylvester Levay, who by the way, did the excellent synth score for the Stallone classic Cobra. Sadly, the score has never gotten an official release in the United States on vinyl, cassette or CD. It wasn't until 1994 that a die-hard Airwolf fan, and head of the Airwolf Appreciation Association for 10 years, Mark J. Cairns, decided to make his own CD release, which today is mega-rare and I've never come across one. Though the theme can be found on vinyl from Germany and France as a maxi single, as far as I know, it never got a release officially here. If anyone has this CD, please hit me up!

Here is info on the Limited Edition CD release by Mark J. Cairns via Wikipedia:
Airwolf Themes is a two-CD soundtrack album for the television series released in February, 1999. The 73 minute soundtrack was created over a five-year period by a fan, Northern Ireland-based graphic designer Mark J. Cairns, in collaboration with original composer Levay, with a foreword by the series' creator, Bellisario.
After the original CBS series was cancelled in 1986, Cairns headed the International Airwolf Appreciation Association for nearly 10 years (from 1988–1998). He decided in early 1994 to produce his own high-quality soundtrack for the series using the episodic scores from the three seasons of the series to create the first 22 synthesizer-based tracks on the soundtrack, including various medleys and character themes. Only 1000 copies were made.
The first digital download-only EP release, entitled 'Airwolf Main Themes' was made available in September 2009. It contains four tracks based on variations of the series' Main Theme and was a preview of the future Extended Themes release.
A further 42-track, 146 minute, enhanced two-CD, limited edition soundtrack album release called 'Airwolf Extended Themes' (containing both a CD of the series' main theme variants, and a second CD of the episodic themes) was released on 26 March 2014. Bulgarian-Polish musician, Jan Michal Szulew, was the main arranger and orchestrator on the first CD, and Mark J. Cairns the arranger and overall producer of the second CD on this soundtrack. 2000 copies were made.

source: Wikipedia


A Return To Salem's Lot; Larry Cohen's Incoherent Schlocky Mess

by: Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

Continuing my Larry Cohen kick, and having just finished Deadly Illusion (also from the same year), I decided to tackle another one of his projects; one I'd been itching to check out for a long time. Larry Cohen is such a fascinating filmmaker to me. His quality is all over the place, varying from great to trash, but mostly trailing that fine line between both. When he's on fire, the guy can deliver some solid genre classics. Just look at Best Seller, which he wrote this same year as this, or Maniac Cop, which was released the following year. Or hell, even The Stuff, which he wrote and directed back in '85. But in the same breath he can deliver some truly bizarre films, like this one for example. A film that feels so unnecessary and so trite that I really struggled with trying to finish it. But I did, reluctantly. Let's dig in.

I should start by saying I was genuinely excited going into this one, because despite some of his bad films, I really tend to love a lot of his stuff, like Best Seller for example, and his Maniac Cop films. But Return To Salem's Lot has a bad reputation. Most people don't dig it, especially when you compare it to Tobe Hooper's original. But even had this been bad, I was hopeful that I would still enjoy it as a possible hot mess, the same way I enjoyed Sleepwalkers; an enjoyable campy over-the-top disaster. That was my hope.

Larry Cohen's Return to Salem's Lot, not necessarily a film anyone really wanted, but as an idea has so much potential, is a mess. I'm not even sure what his intent was, but I really struggled to get through this schlocky mess. Hey, I'm all for schlock, which is part of the reason why I love some of Jim Wynorski's earlier films, but then there's boring schlock, which should just be criminal, and that's what this is. Larry Cohen is a decent director, but he doesn't carry a strong enough visual flair to really make this film look good in any context. You can't help but feel that this looks and feels like a Made-for-TV movie (which the first one was). The only problem is that this wasn't a Made-for-TV movie. Sure, Tobe Hooper's original was, but he did such a phenomenal job on it that you'd never know it just by watching it. His visual aesthetic was able to transcend that very specific Made-for-TV tone. The same cannot be said about Larry Cohen and his sequel.

A random cool shot that's surrounded by too many terrible ones.

Cohen's very specific way of directing, oftentimes serviceable but never stylish, really throws a wrench (so to speak) in this one's overall impact. It's a bit polarizing really. So many of his decisions come across as surprisingly amateur, despite the fact that the man has been directing films since 1972, yet you look at this film and wonder how that could possibly be? Devoid of any life, character or even stimulation, the look of Return to Salem's Lot couldn't be anymore dull if it tried. Not that that would be a precursor to the quality of the final product overall, but it's not a good start either. And honestly, seeing as this was a straight-up film and "not" a mini-series like the original one was, it should have been better. Much better. Cohen wasn't restricted by television limitations, but just simply judging by this films production value, you'd think that his hands were somehow tied.

Michael Moriarty was absolutely awful here. He's not the most versatile or talented actor on the planet, but he's always been enjoyable enough in anything I'd see him in, who, by the way, is a frequent Larry Cohen collaborator. Here he has to play an asshole absentee father/documentary filmmaker who recently reconnected with his adolescent son while heading to Salem to claim a house that was left to him in a will. His approach to this material is so head-scratchingly bizarre. Monotone, with zero life or energy, his delivery can only be described as half-assed, or peculiar. He comes across as just not being able to act, which we all know he very well in fact can. Maybe it was in Cohen's instructions, or maybe Moriarty just wasn't feeling the material, but holy hell he couldn't have been worse even if he tried. Even when he's angry, shouting and fighting, you're not going to get any range out of him in these moments, which blows your mind. He can still be lifeless in all these different scenarios.

Yes, they tried to duplicate that famous scene from the first film for good measure on a young Tara Reid.

I think one of this films most prominent issues is it's completely bizarre shifts in tone. You never know what to make of it, and when you throw in the completely random vampire-hunting character of Dr. Van Meer halfway through, played by legendary writer/actor/director Samuel Fuller, who totally seems lost, you just scratch your head, because really, that's all you can do. The terrible editing only makes it worse. A few really good shots and sequences are marred by gawd-awful editing that totally ruin a decent scene. As a side-note, I also take issue with the cover art, which shows the vampire from the first film, yet the vampires in this film look nothing like that.

Early in his career Larry Cohen stuck to television in the 60's, before making his way to Blaxploitation in the 70's, where he wrote Black Caesar and Hell Up In Harlem. It was also in the 70's that he dipped his toes into genre films by writing, directing and starting one his first franchises with It's Alive!. He would continue writing, and sometimes directing, films and tv shows and movies in nearly every genre into the mid-90's, but it's really the 80's where he really found his most success and productivity. That decade is littered with some of his best and worst work. Say what you will about the quality, but you can't say he wasn't prolific and passionate about films. And I think that's one of the things I like about him. I like that he took on nearly every genre, even writing an episode of NYPD Blue as well as low-fare genre classics like Wicked Stepmother and Q: The Winged Serpent. He would even be credited as writer for films that found their way to the big screen with Guilty as Sin with Don Johnson, Phone Booth with Colin Farrell and Cellular with Kim Basinger. The guy wasn't pigeon-holed into any specific area, and nothing was beneath him if wanted to write it. But when he fired on all cylinders, he could deliver one helluva great film. Best Seller and Maniac Cop 2 would be my top picks.

A seemingly out of place Samuel Fuller, who seems to have fallen out of one universe and into Salem.

As far as releases go, this one was a hard one to get for many years. Having gotten a VHS and Laserdisc release in the late 80's, it was a film that never got an official DVD release until 2010 via Warner Archives On-Demand label, finally in proper widescreen and finally in a much better transfer. And I have to admit, the transfer was great, even for a DVD that's 7 years old now. Though the release is devoid of any special features, the low price point makes it easily and readily available to you if you really need to see it badly. But do you? That's purely your call. Don't say I didn't warn you though. It may be worth it for the sheer fact of how bizarre and amateur it all is, which may be reason enough.


80's Thriller Throwback: Deadly Illusion

by: Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

Directed by: Larry Cohen & William Tannen
Category: Thriller

For one reason or another, it seems like I've been chasing after this movie for a long time. Not that it's hard to find or anything, because it's not. It's just that it never goes for a relatively decent price, and I'm not entirely sure why either. I can't recall how I came across it's existence in the first place, but once I discovered it was written and co-directed by the one and only Larry Cohen (Maniac Cop, Best Seller), and starring Billy Dee Williams and Vanity, and that it was a detective thriller from 1987, well shit; I was sold right then and there. I spent a number of months trying to find a copy, only to discover that it was never released on DVD, only VHS and Laserdisc, which is fine since I collect those formats on a regular basis. But they aren't cheap, at least not as cheap as I'd like them to be. Ultimately I was able to find one through a fellow collector online and I finally had my chance to see if this would live up to my expectations. Let's dig in.

Deadly Illusion, for the most part, was a solid good time. It looks and feels like a Made-for-TV movie, but with some unnecessary nudity and a whole lot of cussing thrown in. Intentional or not, it's also highly cheesy, which is part of it's charm. It seems to take the "detective for hire" premise to the fullest extent, even having Billy Dee doing a voice over narration, which is great by the way. Nearly all of the actors are going full-on hammy, and Billy Dee alone makes it worth the watch. But it suffers from a few issues. For instance, it's a tad too slow for it's own good. While it's enjoyable enough watching an over-reaching detective-for-hire following leads and bedding women, it's not nearly as interesting as Cohen wants you to think it is. There was a moment early on in the film, a sequence where Hamburger (Williams), yes that's his name, crashes an upscale party, where he gets into a fight with the guy who hired him for a botched murder-for-hire gig previously. Did I mention that he's not above taking money as a hired killer? But anyway. The way this sequence is shot, choreographed and executed is brilliantly 80's and soooo cheesy and it was great. This sequence was amazing and it showed so much promise for the rest of the film. But sadly, that sequence was the highlight for me, and the rest could never quite match that excellent combination of technical wizardry, cheesiness, violence and Billy Dee Williams.

Another issue I had was that Vanity was severely underused here. Playing the girlfriend to Hamburger, and sometime employee, she kind of just shows up here and there looking hot, sometimes even just as the girl on the other end of the telephone call, and it's such a shame really. She has a magnetism whenever she's on screen. Everyone around her sees and feel's it, and it wouldn't be until the following year in Action Jackson (1988) that she would get one of her biggest roles. But let's not forget she played Laura Charles in The Last Dragon (1985) and was dynamite!

1987 was a really busy year for prolific screenwriter, and sometime director, Larry Cohen. In this year alone, he directed a total of 3 films (It's Alive III: Island of the Alive, A Return to Salem's Lot, and Deadly Illusion), while having also written 4 films, these 3 and Best Seller. And the genre's and tone for each of these are all over the place, as well as the quality. Of all of these films, Best Seller is the best, with Deadly Illusion coming in a close second. Is it great? No, not by a long shot. But it's good enough with a high enough entertainment value to keep you invested. Most notably, Billy Dee Williams playing an ultra cool and smooth ladies man detective-for-hire who goes by the name Hamburger. His girlfriend is also Vanity, only he's so smooth with the ladies that he can't even stay faithful to her......Vanity! Because he's obviously crazy. Here he gets suckered into a deadly scheme involving models, drugs and backstabbing, more often than not putting his own life, as well as his girlfriends, in danger, while still always able to have time to flirt with the ladies. I tell you, this guy is smooth. For someone who's obviously older than most of the actors in here, not to mention Vanity, who's clearly in her 20's, he doesn't get deterred one bit. The film does overtime in constantly trying to remind you that this guy, older and a bit pudgy in the midsection, is one smooth son of a bitch with the younger ladies.

Ultimately, I enjoyed it. But I was really hoping to love it. The positives are that it's at times a bit unintentionally goofy, while still looking like a hard-edged detective thriller. Vanity is an exquisite array of sunshine in a drastically underused role, and Billy Dee is marvelous as the cocky-smooth private eye who never loses that wink in the eye or that devilish smile, and co-directors Larry Cohen and William Tannen (Hero and the Terror) do a fine job giving the film a gritty style, consistently noir-ish. The negatives are that it's never quite as awesome as you hope it will be. It certainly has the potential, and a good chunk of it is solid, but never quite packs the punch it very well could. It always feels like it's missing a beat or two, never quite hitting the mark fully. I think had there been a little bit more action, or violence, or even some of it's unintentionally goofiness, it could have been something special. I will say though, it's definitely one of Cohen's better films. 


Soundtrack Spotlight: Runaway by Jerry Goldsmith

by: Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

Michael Chrichton's Runaway is a film I'm currently head-over-heels in love with right now. I remember it as a kid and teenager, playing randomly on HBO or Cinemax back in the day, and probably watching it on home video as well. I remember it was a slick looking film that was set in the not-too-distant-future with some cool spider robots and Gene Simmons playing the villain. And that's all I really took away from it all those years ago until I revisited it this past April, only to fall punch-drunk in love with it. I was going through a big 80's thriller run and this one ended up being one of the best in the bunch.

One of the things I noticed during this revisit was it's synth score. How could I not? It's fantastic. What surprised me though was that in our current "80's synth resurgence", while everyone is rightfully praising John Carpenter's many brilliant scores, and hell, even Chuck Cirino's fun Chopping Mall score, I'm surprised that this one never gets mentioned. It's just as good as any of those, if not better. And if I'm not mistaken, this may even be Jerry Goldsmith's first synth score, which is surprising because it's so fucking good. Each track is great, which is rare because there's always a good track or two that kind of ruin the whole theme. And there was one here, or so I thought. It started slow, like a love song. But just as I thought "Ok, here's that one slow track that I will probably skip over", it changed midway and turned into another one of Goldsmith's killer electronic tunes. I was wrong. This entire album is awesome. Not a single bad seed in the bunch. It reminded me a lot of the original Tron score in fact, except it's better. I wish this was the score to Tron (my favorite film by the way), because while I like Wendy Carlos' score, I don't love it. I always felt it could have been stronger, and if they were to ever update it, this would be the most perfect score they could replace it with.
You can pick this up on cassette tape, CD and vinyl from a number of online retailers. It's not always cheap though, oftentimes running a bit high, but not insanely high. If you're a soundtrack collector, it's worth the price because it's a great synth score.


Nightmare At Noon Coming To Blu-Ray

Nico Mastorakis' (Hired to KillDeath Street USA aka Nightmare At Noon is heading to Blu Ray in March 2018. Yea, I know that's a long ways away, but it's never too soon to get the scoop on some killer new releases, right? Amazon already has a link up to put your pre-order in HERE, but like I said, you'll be waiting until March of next year until you get your hands on it.

I've never actually gotten to see this one yet, but it's been on my radar for a while now, ever since I saw Hired to Kill (1990) this past year. I'm a huge fan of that film starring Brian Thompson and Oliver Reed, so I'm stoked to check this one out, and hoping it's as good, or at least as entertaining.

Released in 1988, Nightmare At Noon stars Wings Hauser, the late great Brion James, George Kennedy and Bo Hopkins, and centers around mad scientists who poison a small towns water supply, turning the residents into homicidal maniacs. Doesn't that sound amazing?! Having not actually seen it myself, that's really all I can tell you. And the new Blu Ray release is a mystery at this point. I heard it was coming from Shout! Factory, but then the Amazon listing has the studio listed as Cinedigm. And I can't find any other official info at this time, so unless someone points me in the right direction, we'll just have to sit tight and wait for any further updates. If I hear of any, I'll be sure to update you as soon as I know.


Red Christmas Blu Ray Review; Dee Wallace Delivers In New Holiday Slasher

by: Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

I had actually never heard of Red Christmas until just a few weeks ago. And it's a pitty really, because it's actually a pretty good slasher. While I'm not entirely sure if the intent was to be somewhat of a throwback to 80's slasher's, there are certainly elements that lead me to believe that, while also being something very recognizably modern. Let's dig in.

When Diane (Dee Wallace) is having a Christmas get-together for her large family in her remote home in Australia, an unwelcome stranger from her past arrives. Soon this mystery guest is killing them off one by one in bloody fashion and Diane needs to figure out who this person is and how she can protect her family. 

Red Christmas was a very pleasant surprise. Actor/Writer/Producer/Director Craig Anderson, here directing his first horror film, has fashioned an old-school style slasher that delivers the goods on all fronts. It's a blood-soaked punch to the face of bright neon colors and slick camerawork, with a script that sticks to the standard tropes associated with these types of films, while also adding a few new elements to the table to my surprise, and I really ended up enjoying this one quite a bit. I had to simmer on it for a day or two though before I could write anything about it because it packed quite a visceral punch once it was over. The new thread Anderson incorporated into the standard slasher might ultimately hit a nerve with a few of you, but it will certainly get you talking, and might make a few uneasy, but that's always a good thing.

One thing you'll notice right off the bat is that this film looks better than it should. Anderson has acquired such a talented team behind the camera that despite it's limited budget restraints, this could easily pass for a film playing at your local cinema. In fact, I have to admit that it was even better than some of the PG-Rated garbage that big studio's are releasing theatrically these days. While I didn't think that his particular style was in tune with classic 80's slasher films (I'm not even sure he was trying to though), it was slick enough to almost pass for it. As far as his script goes, it's a pretty straight-forward film involving a stranger who shows up unannounced during a family gathering over the holiday's and proceeds to pick them off one by one once the sun goes down. Yet he adds a number of certain ingredients (one of them being the killer himself) that easily makes it stand out among the crowd. I won't mention them here for you, but I found them both brave and intriguing, greatly benefiting the final product overall. Of course, there are all the standard tropes that come along with this type of sub-genre slasher, even the annoying ones, but if you listen to his commentary, you'll understand why he felt it important to include some of them, knowing that they can drive people crazy.

The real standout in the film though will undoubtedly be Dee Wallace' performance. Holy crap. That woman, a legend in her own right, delivers one helluva tour de force performance as the matriarch of this highly dysfunctional family, the glue that holds them together (as she tries), and ultimately their protector. Man, if there was ever an actress worthy of the title Scream Queen, it's Wallace. While I have continued to see her regularly throughout the years in various projects, most notably Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem, I can't remember the last time I saw her in such a physically demanding role and performance other than Cujo back in 1983. And though decades have literally gone by since then, you'd never know it by her physicality. She hasn't lost her step, spunk or vigor and easily carries the film entirely on her own. The rest of the cast is also quite excellent, with not a single dud to be found, but it's really Dee Wallace you'll take away from this experience.

The practical effects work is commendable and more often than not impressive. And that was another area I really enjoyed in keeping with it's throwback vibe. I loved that they stuck to effects work practically rather than with CGI, where it would have been cheaper and easier to do so, and I have to admit, there was a kill or two that really impressed me. Helen Grimley's score is good and does the job well in ramping up the tension when it needed it, but her standout work has to be in the opening title track, which oozes 80's synth cool. In fact, it's this fantastic opening number that kind of gets the ball rolling in making you think that the film is going to be an 80's style slasher, and it is to a degree, and then it isn't. I really wish Grimley had continued that style of score throughout the film though. It really gave the film an extra kick of awesome, only to turn more conventional and serviceable for the remainder of the film. Still good, but not as good as that opening number.

The Specs:
- 1080p HD presentation
- Unrated Cut
- Runtime: 81 minutes
- 5.1 Surround Sound
- 2.25:1 Widescreen
Special Features: 
- Director's Commentary
- "Dee Wallace Speaks!": An interview with Scream Queen Dee Wallace
- Interview with Gerald O'Dwyer
- Blooper Reel
- Deleted Scene
- Craig Anderson Mini-Interview

If you love horror, and more importantly slasher's, this is a Must-Buy. Great care and attention to detail has been to the visual aspect of this, so to be quite frank, Blu Ray is the only way to go. It's candy-colored bright neon drenched 1080p presentation is stunningly clear. I also highly recommend watching "Dee Wallace Speaks!", where Craig Anderson interviews her for 20 minutes and she discusses her long lasting career and lots of insight into some of her more iconic roles in Cujo, Blake Edwards "10", and The Frighteners. She's such an engaging personality and so much fun to listen to when she revisits some of her past films rather matter-of-factly.

Red Christmas doesn't reinvent the genre, but it does add a few new twists to keep it interesting. Strong visuals, character development and effects work make the film better all around and worth checking out. Dee Wallace steals the show, and the masked killer, complete with his motivations, drives the narrative in a surprisingly fresh way. Red Christmas was released by Artsploitation Films on October 17 and is currently available to purchase on DVD and Blu Ray from any number of major online retailers and also available to stream/rent on Amazon.


80's Action Attack!: American Eagle - A Commando Ripoff That Delivers The Goods

by Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

Max Shane (Asher Brauner) is a Vietnam vet who currently works as a soldier of fortune, much to the dismay of his wife Angela. When she decides to go visit her brother, and Max's former Vietnam brother-in-arms, in Cambodia for a break, she is kidnapped by a prostitution ring run by one of their former Vietnam brother-in-arms Johnny Burke (Vernon Wells), who has fallen off the deep end into a kidnapping pimp and psychopath. Max and Angela's brother soon set out on a rescue mission to Cambodia to save Angela.

I have to be honest, I loved this. It was a blast from start to finish and I loved every minute of it. Not because it's a great film, but because it was so damn entertaining for all the wrong reasons; first and foremost because of the fact that this is essentially just a Commando ripoff. It seriously is. Only Max is heading to Cambodia to rescue his wife, not his daughter. Hell, Vernon Wells literally just reprises his role of Bennett from Commando, playing him to a "T". He just looks different, this time sporting a blonde mullet and skeezy beard and going by the name of Burke. But he's literally playing the same exact role. If you closed your eyes, you'd swear you were listening to Commando. Burke (Wells), acting as the main muscle man (again), even works under the big boss, a local kingpin, just as Bennett did in Commando. And the similarities to Commando don't end there either. There's even a knife-fight between Max and Burke similar to the one in the end of Commando between Matrix and Bennett. And there's a moment where Max is running past a row of windows during the end battle as they are being shot at in succession, just the way Matrix did in Commando.

Asher Brauner kicking ass and taking names
Now that we have all the Commando references out of the way, let's talk about the movie. It's one of those perfect examples where it's painfully obvious the main actor also wrote the script, which he did. He tries so hard to make himself seem cool, tough and macho, oftentimes to the point of absurdity. For example, when Max discovers his wife has been kidnapped, you'd never know it. He never shows a thread of emotion at any given moment. You'd think he actually didn't care. No sir, all that falls on her brother Rudy (Robert F. Lyons) who has to provide enough dramatic acting and range for the both of them. It's actually a bit much a lot of the time, but hey, someone has to pick up Max's emotional slack. And honestly, all the macho stuff is really undeserving. Asher Brauner just isn't that cool, or good of an actor. In fact, he just comes across as being terrible, which at the same times makes it highly amusing and even sometimes hilarious. He looks like a cross between Nick Nolte and James Remar, while trying to impersonate Michael Pare, right down to his voice. And with the film's surprisingly obnoxiously loud over-dubbing, it's like constantly getting punched in the face with Brauner's terrible line delivery.

Vernon Wells unintentionally reprising his role of Bennett
I really enjoyed this one quite a bit. I mean, how can you not? This is the kind of shit I live for when it comes to low-budget action movies. Though meant to be a serious rescue mission film, it's so cheesy, corny and insanely cliche that you just kind of watch in bewilderment at it all. But I love that about this. Everyone is taking this seriously, and that's what makes it so special. It's so hard for us (the viewer) to take it seriously though when Asher Brauner is so over-the-top macho/cool that he ends up being more of a caricature than anything else. I mean, who talks like that? Who acts like that? Even worse, who dresses like that? I know it sounds like I'm giving the guy a hard time but trust me, I love him. I love that he is that way in this and it's because of him that American Eagle soars as high as it does. Yes, I just went there.

Say hello to my little friend!
What surprised me the most was how competent this ended up being under the direction of Robert J. Smawley, an assistant director on a few films like The Buddy Holly Story and Lethal Weapon 3. Seriously, for a film this small, he does a great job making it look bigger and better. And most importantly, he handles the action exceedingly well, which is surprising since he's only ever directed 3 films. How he came to get this gig, I'll never know, but it's a far better film because of him.

You really can't go wrong with this one if you're looking for a good time in the Low-Budget 80's Action department. It's cheesy, full of action, nearly plays on the original Commando storyline beat for beat, and it's a blast watching Vernon Wells play a different character, but at the same time also playing the same character of Bennett. It's weird. Oh, and Asher Brauner is a hoot. Honestly, he's a fascinating character. His unusual "acting" style, his line delivery, his machismo script; it's all drenched in over-the-top 80's excess and it's glorious. I will say that the first half is a bit slow and sometimes confusing. He's trying to be clever by only hinting at things for a while before it all comes together in the second half. But it's fine, because we get to see unnecessary steamy showers with his wife and a trip to the zoo with his family, because deep down inside he's really a family man. Only we don't ever see his son again after that, which is bizarre. Though there's little action in the first half, the seriously corny melodrama is entertaining enough and holds you through until the second half kicks in, where all hell breaks loose, and it's a blast.

Matrix and Bennett, eerr, I mean Max and Burke
Brauner was a television actor for 3 decades before trying to make it as an action star. Seeing as it wasn't going to happen any other way, he decided to write them for himself, and he would end up starring in 2 self-written action films in 1989 alone, this one and Merchants of War. Sadly he never broke out as an action star, only appearing in a few more films in supporting roles before calling it quits, but if American Eagle is any indication, he just needed the right material to deliver some solid cheesy goodness. One thing's for certain though, I need to track down Merchants of War immediately.


Cool Shit: Commando 16 Inch Super Action Figure From Diamond Toymakers (1985)

by: Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

Diamond Toymakers was a company founded in 1969 by Sid Diamond, who started the business by selling yo-yo's, then transitioning into stickers in the 80's, securing rights to hot properties such as Pac-Man, E.T. and Donkey Kong among others. They eventually created the famous "scratch and sniff" stickers that are still collectors items today. I don't know a whole lot about them, but at some point in either the early or mid 80's, they dipped into the action figure market, most notably securing rights to the Arnold Schwarzenegger hit Commando.

In 1985 they released a line of Commando toys and action figures which included a line of 6" figures including John Matrix (the rarest figure in the entire toyline), a 7.5" John Matrix figure and 2 different 16" John Matrix Super Action Figures. From what I can gather, both of these Super Action Figures are identical, with only the box being different; one red and yellow (pictured) and the other black and grey. Same company, same line, same figure, just different packaging.

I don't recall ever seeing these big bad boys in the toy store when I was a kid, but the one I do remember wasn't an action figure, but rather their Mega-Ultra-Super-Duper-Rare Commando Combat Vest Set, which included the vest, a grenade, knife and I.D. I remember seeing it at a toy store in my local mall back in '85 or '86 and begging my mom to get it for me. I wanted to be John Matrix for Halloween that year. Alas, my pleas were in vain. She didn't get it for me, but I've been on the hunt for that Combat Vest Set ever since so if anyone out there can help me out, please feel to contact me. It's my Holy Grail of 80's toys and the one thing I will never give up on trying to get. But moving on.
This 16" bad boy is just awesome. I recently acquired one complete in box just this past year. But to be honest, I'd never even knew of it's existence until maybe a few years ago, at which point I began trolling eBay nearly on a daily basis for years. You see, they're not cheap, often going for well over $100 typically, and sometimes for several hundred. As much as I wanted it, that was more than I was comfortable with. So I waited.....patiently. If there's something I've learned in the world of collecting, patience is a virtue. I know if I wait long enough, I will in fact find one at a decent price, and that day finally came. Someone had listed this on eBay for $40 in an auction-style listing. I put in my bid and hoped for the best. I couldn't believe it. I won. I won the fucking thing with my single $40 bid. Not a single person on this planet must have been needing one of these during the 6 days it was listed. Needless to say, I was very happy. Considering it's age, and the fact that the box is already flimsy to begin with and probably has been moved around quite a bit in it's 32 years, it's in remarkably good shape.

This guy currently sits on a display shelf in my bedroom. I would love to find a box protector for him some day though. Maybe not one of the big hard acrylic ones as they tend to take away so much of the visual impact of the toy, but maybe one of the lighter ones, like the ones they sell for vintage NES game systems. I've been looking, but so far can't seem to find one big enough.

My obsessive toy collecting has pretty much stopped recently since I've gotten most of the toys I'd been after. But there are still a handful that I still need to get, most importantly the Commando Combat Vest Set (1985) from Diamond Toymakers. If you know of one, please let me know. I'm more of a casual toy hunter these days, only browsing for long-lost childhood toys from time to time. But I'll always be a kid at heart, and the hunt is always on.

Check out this great article I found about the Diamond Toymakers Commando line of produced and unproduced toys via The Arnold Fans website by clicking HERE.


Never Hike Alone Review; A Friday the 13th Fan's Wet Dream

Written by: Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

We can all agree that most horror franchises lose a fair amount of steam at some point. Michael, Leatherface, Pinhead and Freddy all suffered from too many bad sequels, and Jason is no exception. Honestly, the last great Friday the 13th film was Part 6: Jason Lives.....31 years ago. Sure, people tend to love some of the others that followed for various reasons, but most certainly not because they're great horror films. Enter writer/director/actor Vincente DiSanti, who spearheaded a Kickstarter campaign in 2016 to fund an originally estimated short 22 minute fan-film. With an enticing teaser trailer and kickass incentives, it's no surprise that they surpassed their goals, which might explain why it turned into a 55 minute film rather than the original 22. Anyway, here we are in October of 2017, with the film brilliantly being released for FREE all over the world on.....wait for it......Friday the 13th! Amazing. Let's dig in.

An avid back country hiker and vlogger, Kyle McLeod, is out hiking on a solo trip when he stumbles upon a deserted camp. He soon discovers that this camp has a brutal history and worse yet, he might not be alone.

Never Hike Alone is hands-down one of the best Friday the 13th films ever made. DiSanti and his crew took all of the fundamental elements that made the franchise so great in the first place and puts a fresh spin on it by incorporating the found footage narrative. But wait! Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. I personally can't stand found footage films. I find them lazy. But the way DiSanti incorporates it into Never Hike Alone works brilliantly. It's only a small tool, and thankfully, most of the film is shot traditionally. Even so, the found footage angle is still done surprisingly well, in that it's not shaky-cam nonsense, which was entirely refreshing. And that's another thing I found surprising here. The film itself is visually impressive. In fact, if you were to judge it purely on the camerawork alone, it's a better looking film than any of the last 6 in the franchise, including Freddy VS Jason. But that's just me. On a technical level, it delivers the goods in every single department; from the sound editing, the score, the effects, the stunts and most importantly, the editing. It's a trim 55 minutes that never overstays it's welcome, and utilizes every second to help push the film further along at a brisk pace.

On a narrative front, the film packs a punch. While the first half does a good job of setting things up in a timely manner, it's really the second half that delivers the slasher goods, and boy you're in for a treat. Every creative and technical decision DiSanti and his crew make bring the film to life in such a startlingly frightening way, that it makes you wonder why filmmakers today can't make films like this anymore. He doesn't bring anything new to the table, other than the found footage angle, but uses the typical slasher tropes to full effect, and in some instances, enhancing certain elements for a much more visceral experience. I don't want to give too much away before you've actually seen it, but needless to say, Vincente DiSanti did his homework. For example, every single time Jason (DiSanti) took a step, it sounded like a giant dinosaur was walking the Earth. You felt every single step. And that brings me to DiSanti's portrayal of Jason. He does a phenomenal job. The guy is big, and he takes on the role with gusto. I'd have to say it's probably one of my favorite Jason's after C.J. Graham in Part 6: Jason Lives. Fuck Kane Hodder. The makeup department also needs to be commended. I loved Jason's "look" in this. Traditional, yet cleaner. Again, it's more in tune with his look in Part 6 than say his zombie-look in Part 7 and 8.

If you've been missing a good traditional slasher, then Never Hike Alone will surely fill that sweet spot. The film was filled with nonstop surprises for me. It's so good in fact that you'll want more. You'll wish they were able to stretch it out for an extra half hour, but trust me when I say that it's a strong 55 minutes and just as long as it needs to be. And wait till you see the surprise at the end. I couldn't believe it. Such a.....awe hell. I'll just let you experience it for yourself. Just a great bombshell in an already great experience. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good this little crowd-sourced film is compared to big budget studio films in general. Only, it's not just good.....it's fucking GREAT!!

Check out the full movie below:


80's Attack!: Gleaming The Cube

Written by: 
Jason Elizondo (robotGEEK)

Gleaming the Cube, one of the last skateboard films to come out of the 80's, has retained it's status as one of the best of it's kind for a number of reasons. For starters, it's a standout among the crowd because it's primarily more of an action/thriller rather than a film about skateboarding. There just happens to be some skateboarding in it because the main protagonist, Brian Kelly (Christian Slater), is an avid skater via the late 80's. And while the film in general is a great crime/detective/action/thriller in it's own right, it's really in it's "skater" moments where Gleaming the Cube really shines.

This was a film that was such a huge part of my teenage years, when the skateboard trend really seemed to hit it's peak. I wasn't a skater, but my brother and his friends were. I just loved the film because I thought it was awesome. And I remember watching this often, either as something playing in the background, or with a group of friends fascinated by the fact that a very young Tony Hawk, already a certified legend, had a bit part as one of Brian's crew. It was just one of those films that was always on, or we always found time to watch. Having not seen it all these years though, somewhere close to 30 to be exact, I was somewhat surprised to discover, or rediscover, that unlike Thrashin', this really wasn't necessarily a skater film per say, but rather a crime/thriller about an adopted straight-lace teenager who mistakenly stumbles upon a scheme to sell and smuggle firearms into Vietnam, only to be murdered by his boss's henchmen. When Brian, his troublemaker brother, realizes that his adopted brother may have been murdered and not committed suicide (staged by the henchmen), he sets out to solve the murder himself when he's met with constant frustration and no help from local detective Al Lucero (Steven Bauer), putting his skating talents, and his skating crew, to good use. And it's really this angle that I found so intriguing, when this film could easily have been another run-of-the-mill skateboarding film about a local competition or a turf war against another local skate gang. I loved that it was about something else entirely, only incorporating the skateboarding aspect a good half the time to full effect.

Christian Slater, who had just co-starred in the dark comedy cult hit Heathers the previous year, really does a killer job in the role of a troubled, moody, adolescent teen who despises authority and relishes the role of the black sheep in his well-to-do upper class family. His constant conflict with his father and repeated headbutting with local detective Lucero only feed his growing anger and quest to solve his brothers murder, even if it means putting his own life on the line, which he repeatedly does. Slater is just excellent here. It's strange to think this came out after Heathers, because you'd most certainly assume it was the other way around. He looks a bit younger here, and his Jack Nicholson impression isn't nearly as prominent. He handles the skating sequences like a pro, even when you don't believe for a second that it's really him doing some of the bigger stunts, which he clearly isn't. Mike McGill and Rodney Mullen were Slater's skate doubles. The bad wig is a dead giveaway, but still highly amusing to try and spot the moments when these pro's are actually doing the tricks. There's even a hilarious sequence when Brian is so pissed off at the world and decides to go skate his frustrations out in a parking garage and it's just hilariously cheesy awesome. He's so angry, and this rock song is playing, and even his skating is angry, and the fact that it's very obviously not really Slater skating but someone else with a very bad wig. It's awesome, and I love that about this film. It tries so hard to be serious, but you can't take this shit seriously. Regardless of the amusing stung-double, Slater does a great job in the role and is strong enough to carry the film squarely on his shoulders.

Australian director Graeme Clifford seemed like a most unlikely choice to direct this sort of film, mainly since he had only done television work and dramas prior to this. Yet he handles the material and the job with ease, giving the film a slick detective thriller look, even in the skateboarding sequences, which always seem to find their way into the storyline and action. He also makes the most of the California setting, utilizing a lot of aerial shots showcasing the mountains, hills, swimming pools (big part of the film's narrative), and palm trees. Skateboard legend Stacey Peralta actually worked as the second unit director shooting all of the skateboarding sequences in here (who better?!) and composer Jay Ferguson adds a deft touch to the material with another fantastic score.

All in all I had a blast revisiting this 80's gem. It's fun, engaging and so fucking nostalgic that it's impossible not to have a smile on your face. I was flooded with a barrage of amazing memories and there were things that I had forgotten about, like the fact that Peter Kwong (Never Too Young To Die, Big Trouble in Little China) was in it! It's a far better film and experience than I was expecting, as well as a totally different genre of film altogether, which still surprises me when I think about it. Gleaming the Cube is wholly deserving of it's reputation and cult status. It's a film that plays on it's reputation effortlessly in such a satisfying way, without throwing it in your face in a vulgar way. It's hip, without even trying. It's fun, when it's supposed to be serious. It's nostalgia on crack when it was just a thriller involving skateboarding. All of these unintentional elements make for a fantastic viewing experience.

How to watch it:
Still no Blu Ray as of yet, but even so, the VHS and DVD aren't hard to find on the secondhand market, but can run you anywhere from around $20 on up. If you're diligent, you'll sure to come across one for cheap. It took me a few years of patiently waiting until I snagged a VHS within my comfortable spending range. The mega-rare Laserdisc is even harder to find, and far more expensive should you ever come across one. Unfortunately none of these have ever been released in widescreen officially, at least not here in the U.S., including the 1999 DVD release from Geneon (Pioneer), which is full frame. I'd love to see this on Blu ray though, with a cleaned up image, in widescreen and a healthy dose of extras. I'd love to see all of those skate legends discuss there experience working on this all these years later, and how much this film ultimately influenced a generation of skateboarders. Here's to hoping someone like Shout! Factory will heed the call.