4.27.2018

Action Attack!: Fortress 2: Re-Entry

Christopher Lambert Goes to Prison.....AGAIN!!!

by robotGEEK

I can honestly say that I never gave the idea of watching this sequel a second thought. That is until I discovered that it was directed by Geoff Murphy, a highly underrated director that I admire greatly, who's delivered some excellent classics such as The Quiet Earth, Freejack, Young Guns II and Under Siege 2. While I'd always loved (and still do) the first one directed by Stuart Gordon, nothing really compelled me to actively seek this out until now. So let's dig in.

Released 8 years after the cult classic original, Fortress 2 once again finds our protagonist John Henry Brennick (Christopher Lambert), being incarcerated after many years on the run with his wife and daughter. This time the highly sophisticated and advanced prison is aboard a satellite in space, leaving virtually no chance for escape. But of course, if there's anything Brennick is good at, it's escaping from prison to reunite with his wife and daughter. And once again, the prison is under the control of a seedy prison warden with his own agenda.


I'm not gonna lie. I had high hopes going into this one. Not only is it a sequel to a pretty great low-budget classic, but the fact that Murphy was behind the directors chair had me excited. But this was a  bit after his steady stream of quality output, and while Fortress 2 isn't terrible, it isn't all that great either.

I'm sure shooting inside a prison is hard. You don't have much leeway in terms of where to set up your shots and whatnot, so from a visual standpoint, I can't give him much flack. I'm sure his hands were tied to a degree. Still, Murphy is able to pull off some impressive shots here and there, so it's not a total loss. It just never really gets above average in the entertainment department, and Geoff Murphy, being confined in such a tight small setting, is unable to make the film look interesting, which really goes a long way with films like this, because even if it's not all that entertaining, if it at least packs a visual punch, then that's something. But sadly, not even Murphy's oftentimes impressive camerawork can add much value to this experience.

I'm not saying it's bad, because it's not. In fact, if you can look past my personal issues I've just listed, it's a pretty enjoyable, if albeit standard low-budget sci-fi flick. On the plus side, I was pretty impressed with the effects work, especially in the moments when they're floating in space in space suits. Sure it wasn't believable in the least, forgetting the lack of gravity in several scenes, but it was still awesome.

Not one of Geoff Murphy's best, but it's not a bad film either. In fact, as far as low-budget sequels go, it's pretty damn good. If you enjoy the first one, it's definitely worth your time to dig into this one. Overall it's pretty much the same story, just told in a slightly different environment. It won't win over any new fans, but it's a decent addition to the franchise.



4.25.2018

A Second Look: Wolf (1994)

Mike Nichol's Highly Underrated Monster Classic is Begging to be Rediscovered

by robotGEEK

Back in the early 90's, Hollywood began revamping Universal's classic monster lineup in a series of big budget classy updates that were met with mixed reviews and unfortunately didn't kickstart a whole new franchise the way the studio's hoped they would. Hiring some of the biggest names in films didn't seem to make a difference either. Yet, you look at Francis Ford Coppolla's Dracula (1992), Kenneth Brannah's Frankenstein (1994) and Mike Nichol's Wolf today, and they're damn near masterpieces. Somehow they just didn't connect with audiences and I honestly can't explain why. Every time I revisit Dracula I'm just floored by how incredible it is, and while Frankenstein isn't my favorite in the bunch, it's a very well made film in it's own right.

Which brings me to Wolf, directed by Mike Nichols, a filmmaker who's more known for his drama's and dramadies than anything else. I remember seeing Wolf when it first came out, yet somehow have neglected ever since. I wish I could tell you why, because after having revisited it for the first time in decades and just being completely blown away, I have no answer. But, here we are so let's dig in.



Wolf is a classy adult horror/thriller, a rare genre that never gets the love or recognition it deserves. It's the type of film that doesn't need to rely on gore, nudity or jump scares to get the job done. While I also love those specific things and enjoy movies that cater to them, I can also appreciate something a bit sedated like this, where most of the power comes from the storytelling, excellent direction and knockout performances. Candyman is another excellent example of this type of film, where mood and atmosphere is front and center, laying a strong foundation for a great story and even greater film.

Mike Nichols shoots Wolf in a very subdued way, never going full-on stylish, instead relying on the tight script and strong peformances to move the film along. Yet at the same time, he infuses the film with plenty of visual "references", such as the constant use of cages, bars and fences. You'll see them everywhere, even in the scenes where someone is riding on an elevator. You can tell the production team and set decorator took great pains in finding just the right locations to shoot. Nearly every building, hallway, house and even a lot of the exterior city shots had to have some sort of "cage" feel to them, and it's marvelous. It might not be something so identifiable at first, but if you pay attention, you'll see what I mean.



The casting is nothing short of perfect here. Nicholson, in an understated performance, does a helluva job as the mild-mannered publisher who, upon being bitten by a wolf, starts exhibiting odd behavior, with heightened senses, abilities and strength. These moments are great. You don't see good ol' Jack playing it calm and cool the way he does here. Even in the moments where any rational human being would explode, he's simply passive and it's such a stark contrast to what you'd expect from someone of his caliber. But for me, the real money shots are in the second half, after he's transformed. Seeing a middle-aged Jack Nicholson, complete in werewolf makeup, running around chasing victims, ripping them to shreds and protecting his new love against a menacing villain of equal strength is fan-fucking-tastic.

Speaking of the villain. If you haven't seen it yet, I won't spoil it for you here, but let me just say that what a spirited casting choice that was, and quite brilliant I might add. One of the reasons I loved this bit of casting was because at the time, this actor was sort of going through a dry spell per say. After making a big impact in the 80's, he would work continuously throughout the 90's, but mostly in minor roles. He would find a huge resurgence in the 2000's, thanks to a hit TV show, where he's continued to enjoy his newfound success. But here, he's just incredible and Wolf is a much better and stronger film because of his casting.


It should also be noted that legendary effects master Rick Baker provided the effects for this, and they're fantastic, with the climax being especially impressive. Legendary composer Ennio Morricone provided the eerily effective, yet classy score and adds yet another layer of class to the production. All of these elements make Wolf great, but it in the end it all comes down to Mike Nichol's direction, and though he had never dabbled in the horror genre before, you'd never know it. He handles it like a pro, but with an elegance and sophistication not usually seen in these types of films. And for that, Wolf is a cut above the rest.

While not one that people immediately remember (Dracula seems to be most people's favorite), I urge you to give it another go. It's smart, classy and sophisticated horror/thriller that delivers the goods in a fundamental way. Unlike Dracula and Frankenstein, which are period pieces that rely heavily on effects and strong production design, Wolf sets itself apart by taking place in a modern day city, circa 1994. It's outstanding cast, strong production design courtesy of Bo Welch, Morricone's hypnotic score, Rick Bakers impressive effects and Mike Nichol's sure-handed direction all lend themselves to an excellent film experience. Maybe it's time you revisit this underrated monster classic? I'll bet it's better than you remember.

4.21.2018

80's Action Attack!: The Protector (1985) - One of the Best Movies You Never Saw

This Grossly Overlooked Gem is Easily One of the Best Cop/Action/Thrillers the 80's Ever Produced

by robotGEEK

It's safe to say that writer/director/producer James Glickenhaus hit it big with his Grindhouse classic The Exterminator in 1980, a film who's box office gross far outnumbered it's original budget, resulting in a certified hit. He would follow that up with The Soldier (be sure to check out Cinema Drunkie's excellent review!) two years later, a sort of arthouse action thriller that was way ahead of it's time, but has since gained a huge cult following. After The Soldier he was propositioned by the legendary Hong Kong powerhouse Golden Harvest to do a Jackie Chan film, in the hopes of transitioning his stardom over to Hollywood. Glickenhaus's main objective was to deliver a different Jackie Chan film. He wasn't interested in doing another martial arts film. He wanted to introduce a tougher, more gritty Jackie Chan film, and while Glickenhaus and Chan didn't see eye to eye, resulting in two different cuts of the film (which I'll get into later) there's no denying that their one-time collaboration resulted in one of the best films of both Jackie Chan and Glickenhaus's respective careers.

In Glickenhaus's version, he attempted to deliver a tougher film than any Jackie Chan fan had ever seen before, and the result is The Protector, a kickass gritty cop thriller that once again showcases Chan's incredible physical abilities, while at the same time showing the world, and most importantly, Hollywood, that he could in fact play it serious without the slapstick comedy. Through broken English (it's better to watch it with subtitles), Chan curses for the first time in a film, kicks a whole lot of ass and takes names. In short, The Protector is awesome. Just epicly awesome in a very 80's gritty action thriller sort of way, and it's a damn crying shame it isn't more loved or more highly regarded as a certified action classic.



When the daughter of a rich local businessman is kidnapped by the Hong Kong drug lord Mr. Ko, two New York cops, Billy Wong (Jackie Chan) and Danny Garoli (Danny Aiello), travel to Hong Kong to rescue her. 

I remember when this came out, and how it pretty much bombed at the box office. I even remember watching it myself, because back then in '85 (I was 9), I was a huge martial arts fan, and devoured any Jackie Chan film I could get my hands on at the time. So I was all over this, only to realize that the martial arts fighting had taken a back seat to car chases, foot chases and shootouts. I didn't like it, and had completely dismissed it all of these years. Remember I was only 9! And apparently an idiot.

33 years later while I'm thick in the middle of a serious James Glickenhaus kick, I discovered that he had directed this before he did the insanely badass Shakedown, and immediately set out to revisit, or rediscover I should say, this little misunderstood gem of a movie. I figured if he could deliver something as incredible as Shakedown, and The Protector was his prior film, then maybe there was something to it that I missed all those years ago? And I was right about that. And boy was I wrong about my initial feelings towards it when I was 9. Dead wrong.

The Protector is a very special film. It works in a way I hadn't anticipated, while also giving us the Jackie Chan we always loved, because despite the fact that Glickenhaus did not want to deliver a martial arts film, there is still plenty of that to be had in here, and it's glorious. But I loved the other moments, where Chan is just being a tough badass, sporting those retro cool blue-blocker style shades and taking a beating as much as he gives them. Reportedly, Chan didn't know much English at this time, and it shows. Though to be fair, he does a great job considering he didn't speak the language. And it doesn't really matter, because despite his grasp of the language (use subtitles), Chan delivers the goods in every other conceivable way, and if this film did anything for me, it's that it convinced me that I really need to dig into his older "crime action/thrillers", which I've never done before.



I have to say, as much as I loved Jackie Chan in his first serious American outing, the real standout for me here was Danny Aiello. I know, I know. Hear me out. While we mostly think of Aiello's comedy or dramatic turns in classics like Moonstruck, Do The Right Thing, Hudson Hawk and hell, even his small role in The Professional, most people forget, or just don't know, that he has dipped his toe into action from time to time. While initially caught off guard by his presence here, I have to admit that he immediately won me over within just a few short minutes. It's a bit jarring to see a younger, thinner Aiello playing a tough New York cop, but I'll be damned if he doesn't pull it off flawlessly. Sure he's not in any better shape than he is now, just thinner, but that doesn't stop him from constantly hitting on every female he sees, and he doesn't mind stripping down to his skivvies when duty calls. Danny Aiello's uncanny ability to transition to a skirt-chasing tough guy New York cop who travels to Hong Kong with his partner Wong (Chan) in tow, blasting his way through the city is a sight to behold. Make no mistake. Danny Aiello is a true badass in here and is given several moments to shine.

When I recently watched Shakedown for the first time, I was blown away by not only the action sequences, which were incredible, but by how well James Glickenhaus directed it. Revisiting The Protector has only validated my opinion and impression on the guy, and that is that James Glickenhaus is easily one of the most underrated action directors ever. How he's not more well regarded in the industry as a solid filmmaker, or why his films (of which there are only 8), aren't considered classics just blows my mind. Any of his 80's credits can stand toe-to-toe with any of the best that decade had to offer, yet nobody remembers them or even knows his name. It's a true crime if you ask me.



The Protector, despite it's reputation and weak box office performance, is one helluva solid action thriller. There are plenty of hand-to-hand fights to keep the old school Jackie Chan fans happy, while also giving the film a strong gritty flavor that most just weren't ready for at the time. Still, it has so much going for it that I hope people will see now, like the plethora of old school action, violence, and Glickenhaus shoots it all with a clean style, never swaying too far into gritty or over-stylish. If you ask me, it's a quintessential 80's action/thriller and if you've never seen it, or it's been a very long time since you have, I urge you to give it antoher shot. You just might be surprised at how great it is and what you've been missing.

It would take 10 more years before Jackie Chan found his mainstream success here in the states with Rumble in the Bronx in 1995. He's since enjoyed healthy success both here and back home where he continues to work within both comedy and the straight-up action/thriller genre's, with his recent The Foreigner being a great example.



The U.S. Cut VS. The Jackie Chan Personal Cut

It's no secret James Glickenhaus and Jackie Chan didn't see eye to eye with this project. While Chan was trying desperately to break into Hollywood, especially after the failure of his previous effort The Big Brawl, he still didn't agree with a lot of Glickenhaus's choices. While there surely was tension on set, both men speak politely about their experiences, though to be honest Glickenhaus comes off a bit narcissistic and bitter, but in a passive aggressive sort of way in his new interview located on the Special Features of Shout! Factory's Blu-Ray release from 2013.

Chan was so dissatisfied with how the film turned out that he immediately re-cut it for the Asian market, and even went so far as to film an entire new subplot with actress Sally Yeh (The Killer). Some other major changes include removing all of the random nudity, curse words and toning down some of the violence, while also making the fight scenes longer, including shooting some brand new ones that lean more towards the comedic side. It's literally an entirely different film experience and while I can appreciate Chan's feelings towards this and how it does gel more with the Hong Kong style of martial arts film, I have to say that I much prefer the U.S. cut. It's such a bold new sort of film for both Jackie Chan and the action/thriller genre in general as most of the film takes place in Hong Kong, with our New York cop protagonists essentially being "fish out of water" in a drastically different environment.

Still not satisfied, or maybe it was because he enjoyed working in that new type of genre, or hell, maybe both, Jackie Chan would write, direct and star in his own gritty cop/thriller Police Story that very same year in 1985, which would go on to achieve massive success, resulting in several sequels and newfound fame for Chan in the action/thriller genre.

How to see it:
I have great news for those of you who want to see this in HD. Shout! Factory released this on Blu-Ray as part of a 2-film set along with 1993's Crime Story in 2013. I can tell you that the new transfer is impressive, and the Special Features alone are worth the price. I'm actually shocked they just didn't release The Protector as a standalone film, considering the extras included make it a pretty great release all around. It surely could have benefited from the original poster art, because this cover is just terrible. I might just end up making my own.

The extras included for The Protector are:

- The Protector: Alternate Cut
- From New York to Hong Kong: New interview with writer, producer, director James Glickenhaus
- Locations: Then and Now
- Behind the Scenes Featurette
- Hong Kong Trailer
- U.S. Trailer

That's a lot of fun stuff to dig into, with the new Glickenhaus interview being both informative and fascinating, making it easily the best of the bunch. He speaks candidly about how the project came about, his working relationship with Jackie and what he was trying to accomplish with it. The "Locations: Then and Now" is equally fascinating in how much New York has changed since 1985. The Behind the Scenes is amusing as it shows a lot of outtakes and flubs in a more lighthearted way, keeping in line with Chan's use of outtakes for the credits. The different trailers are equally fascinating in how drastically different the film is portrayed. The HK trailer really makes it look like any typical HK action flick, complete with a totally different score and even going so far as pretty much giving you the entire film in just a few short minutes, not leaving any surprises for the filmgoer, whereas the U.S. trailer gives it a much more gritty and lean representation as a cop/thriller, minimizing the action and fights. Fascinating stuff!

The Shout! Factory Blu can easily be picked up for under $10 anywhere you buy your Blu's online, and trust me, it's one you'll definitely want to add to your collection.

The Protector is a grossly overlooked gem and an excellent entry into the 80's cop/action/thriller genre. It marks another winner for James Glickenhaus's impeccable track record of delivering kickass action/thrillers and introduced the world to a harder, tougher, cursing Jackie Chan. This insanely enjoyable classic is begging to be rediscovered, or discovered for the very first time. Take the chance. I'll bet it's better than you remember, or a damn fine film experience if it's your first time.

4.20.2018

Blu-Ray Review: Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 2 (Arrow Video)

by robotGEEK

New to Blu-Ray this week is the second volume of Arrow Video's Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. This 4-Disc set includes 5 of Suzuki's hard-to-find gritty cult classics between 1957-1961, all sporting impressive new 1080p HD transfers for the first time. For Seijun Suzuki fans, this is huge news as these films have never gotten an official release outside of it's native Japan. Let's dig in:



BOUNDARY-BREAKING EARLY CRIME THRILLERS, MOB DRAMAS AND ACTION MOVIES FROM LEGENDARY CULT DIRECTOR SEIJUN SUZUKI 

Includes:

Eight Hours of Terror (1957)
The Sleeping Beast Within (1960)
Smashing the 0-Line (1960)
Tokyo Knights (1961)
The Man with a Shotgun (1961). 

Available for home-viewing for the very first time ever outside of Japan, this collection of bleak crime thrillers, brash mob dramas and exuberant action movies, made across the first five years of Seijun Suzuki’s career within Nikkatsu’s Borderless Action (mukokuseki akushon) line, presents a heady mix that laid the ground for what was to come. 

The Sleeping Beast Within (1960) is a gripping crime thriller that sees a newspaper reporter’s search for his girlfriend’s missing father lead him into heart of the criminal underworld of Yokohama’s Chinatown. Its companion piece, Smashing the 0-Line (1960), follows two reporters’ descent into a scabrous demimonde of drug and human trafficking. In Eight Hours of Terror (1957), a bus making its precarious way across a winding mountain road picks up some unwelcome passengers. In Tokyo Knights (1961), a college student takes over the family business in the field of organised crime, while The Man with A Shotgun (1961) marks Suzuki’s first entry into the territory of the “borderless” Japanese Western.



LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
  • Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [1500 copies]
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Newly translated optional English Subtitles
  • Audio commentary by critic and author Jasper Sharp on Smashing the 0-Line
  • Tony Rayns on the Crime and Action Movies – the critic and historian discusses the background to the films, their place within Suzuki’s career and the talent involved with them
  • Trailers
  • Stills Gallery
  • Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • 60-page illustrated collector's book featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp

Much like Arrow's release of Volume 1, they've done it again with another knockout release. The stellar packaging is only outdone by their impeccable restoration of each film, brought to exquisite life in 1080p HD. You've never seen Suzuki's film look better......ever. If you loved Volume 1, then you're sure to love Volume 2 just as much, if not more. 

Personally I can't speak highly enough about the new transfers. They're simply stunning. STUNNING!!! The limited amount of extra's, as per usual with such old films, are still highly enjoyable to dig through, with the old trailers being an absolute blast to see, some of which I've seen now for the very first time. 

Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Volume 2 was released via Arrow Video this past week, April 16, 2018. You can purchase it directly from Arrow HERE, or from any of your favorite online retailers. 

4.19.2018

Bad Movie Night: Hercules II (1985)

by robotGEEK

Let me start off by saying that if you've never seen either of these early 80's Hercules films, courtesy of the legendary Cannon Films studio, then you're sorely missing out on some of the cheesiest, most ridiculous, most entertaining Bad Movie Night films ever made. The insane amount of absurd WTF?! moments will just blow your mind at a breakneck pace, and that's what makes these so amazing. They make zero sense, but pack a serious visceral punch of awesome because they're some of the most visually impressive (and bizarre) films you will ever see. Moving on.

I'm not even going to bother with a synopsis because it literally makes zero sense. Rather, it's a random collection of sequences at different locations, with none ever connecting to the other in any way, where writer/director Luigi Cozzi literally rewrites the history of Greek Mythology into something so fantastical that it makes absolutely no sense. But it's so much fun! In a purely absurd way.



Much like the first film, Hercules II aka The Adventures of Hercules, is filled to the brim with fantastical creatures, lazers, outer space, giants, robots, claymation, sword  sorcery, and of course, science! Our hero Hercules wanders Planet Earth in search of Zeus's 7 Thunderbolts mischievously stolen by renegade gods. That's roughly the story, and the only thing that resembles any sort of coherence. But it doesn't matter, because every single totally random sequence, which mostly feel made up on the spot, are so damn entertaining and downright bonkers, that you just can't help but enjoy the absurdity of it all. Plus, it's a helluva great looking film, full of outrageous visuals and old school camera tricks flying at you a mile a minute.

I think what makes it work so well, and what "sells it", is the fact that Lou Ferrigno is just so 1000% serious in this and totally committed, playing it straight. It makes for a much better experience that way, and the fact that he can spout some of the most silly and absurd dialogue ever written, and do it with a straight face, is a testament to his commitment and professionalism. Seriously, just listen to the dialogue and try to imagine saying these lines with a straight face. It's damn near impossible.



In short, it's probably some of the most ridiculous fun you'll ever have with a film like this. The fact that it's a Cannon film only makes it all the more special. These are films that carry so much visual eye candy that you'll be doing them a disservice by watching them on VHS. I strongly recommend picking up the Shout! Factory Blu-Ray's. They're simply stunning to watch in HD. While I prefer the first one to this, it's only by a slight margin, because having both been written and directed by Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash, Contamination), they're near identical in quality, craftsmanship and absurdity. The fact that these were PG just blows my mind! You'll know what I mean when you see them.

Shout! Factory's 2017 Blu Ray releases of both Hercules (1983) and Hercules II: The Adventures of Hercules (1985) are Must-Buy's. They're pure enjoyment from beginning to end, with some of the most bizarre and fantastical images you'll ever see on screen.



4.17.2018

Animation Attack!: American Pop (1981)

Check out the newest font: Ransom
by Gabriel G.


Hello there! Me again. If you are a steady follower of robotGEEK, and even if you aren’t, there’s a fair to good chance you know that not all animations are created equal. By that, I mean it’s not all just 22-minute clips of goofy, colorful anthropomorphic creatures yelling at each other, whose content and aesthetic are geared towards those who probably don’t know what the words ‘content’ or ‘aesthetic’ mean. (closing Google’s “Define:” tab) And while this particular subset of media always has and continues to make great leaps and strides in bringing important current social issues to light, by and large, it is still underestimated, thought of as mindless entertainment for kids. But guess what? I’m here to tell you that that just isn’t true. Some of these works can be surprisingly poignant and moving. American Pop was one of those surprises. So hand over your laser blasters and bastard swords, robotGEEK: ANIMATED Edition is about to begin. I promise to give them back at the end of the article. (Unless I like them, then I’m keeping them.)

"I'm tellin' ya, Country Polka is gonna make us stars!"


First off, if you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed, T&A gore-fest, then I’ve got great news for you. You can read some of my previous articles, where I talk about movies that are just that! But seriously, while it does have its violent, dramatic moments, this isn’t your typical flick in that respect. Rather, it’s about a musically-inclined immigrant family living their lives out in America, growing and changing with the music. Spanning multiple generations and genres, it has of the most eclectic soundtracks I’ve heard yet, ranging from the pre-jazz age and spanning all the way to the 80s with a New Age finish.

If you’re an American history buff, you may be impressed at the amount of historical Easter eggs the film features. Several momentous events that helped shape America are mentioned, including the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, while others are manifested through various still frames and live-action stock footage. The director, Ralph Bakshi, even borrowed scenes from the 1931 film The Public Enemy, rotocscoping them for the final product. What was probably one of the most surprising things about this film is that it is reportedly Kanye West’s favorite musical, and he even paid tribute to it in his music video “Heartless”. (Sadly, I have no punchline for this.)

"That creepy guy in the vest...He's staring at me again, huh?"


With its unique combination of animation, stock footage, and still frames, American Pop has its own rich style. The dynamic mix of music-fueled and moving moments further engage the audience by telling the story on two fronts. Though the music is the real star, it doesn’t diminish from the human struggle the characters are enduring. In the end, I highly recommend this flick, as it is now one of my new favorite musicals. Just don’t tell Kanye I said that.


Gabriel Joseph (contributor)

Gabriel Joseph is a doer of several things, including but not limited to writing sci-fi and developing software. Enjoy his latest work, Althea: An Oneiric’s Tale, available now on Amazon.

4.14.2018

Robot Ninja Coming to Blu-Ray; Support the INDIEGOGO Campaign Now!

by robotGEEK

Those of you who are into low-budget, sleazy Direct-To-Video, VHS era splatter-fest's should need no introduction to this cult classic. For those of you who don't know what Robot Ninja is, or maybe you've heard of it or haven't seen it, here's some info from the man responsible for this film, J.R. Bookwalter. 




My name is J.R. Bookwalter, and in 2015, Indiegogo members like you helped make possible a 2K restoration for my first feature film, THE DEAD NEXT DOOR. Now I’m back doing the same for my follow-up effort, the notorious direct-to-video comic book vigilante epic ROBOT NINJA, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019.




Shot in 1989 on 16mm film, ROBOT NINJA isn't quite what it looks like — in fact, there’s not a single robot or Ninja anywhere in the movie! I chose to adapt this mandated title into the dark, splatter-drenched tale of a comic book artist who dons the persona of his most famous character to battle a gang wreaking havoc upon a small town. This is easily the most gruesome film I ever directed — instead of the late ‘80s martial arts action extravaganza promised by the original cover art, viewers are assaulted by a unique spin on comic books, superheroes, and vigilante justice that goes horribly wrong for the protagonist.

Despite being out of print since the early '90s, this movie has remained a hot item with collectors over the last three decades. That has a lot to do with its absence during the heyday of the DVD format — outside of the original VHS release from Cinema Home Video, ROBOT NINJA has never been reissued in the USA. By comparison, the movie has been released internationally in Italy, Spain, Argentina, and several other countries including Germany, where it's been available in more VHS and DVD editions than I can count! But never on Blu-ray, until now..




About the restoration

The film’s executive producer, David DeCoteau, recently unearthed the original 16mm A/B roll cut negative, which has enabled me to do a proper 2K film scan and begin the restoration process even before launching this campaign. At this point, the film already has an initial color grading pass and work is underway to create new main and end titles to complement a pair of shiny new 1080p HD masters being created — one in 4:3 original aspect ratio, the other cropped to 16:9 widescreen for modern displays.
For side-by-side comparison frame grabs, be sure to visit our Facebook page!
Your Indiegogo preorder will help fund the remaining restoration and cleanup work, producing bonus features, as well as authoring, replication, and shipping costs. We're aiming to have the Ultimate Edition in your hands by the end of this year!

Ultimate Edition breakdown

Like THE DEAD NEXT DOOR campaign three years ago, ROBOT NINJA Ultimate Edition will be a loaded three-disc set with two feature versions and HD extras on Blu-ray, a DVD with the original VHS version of the film, behind-the-scenes footage and additional SD extras, plus the complete original motion picture soundtrack available for the first time on CD.
Here’s a tentative breakdown of what's planned for each disc:
Disc 1 (Blu-ray)
  • 2K Restored Feature Presented in 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio 1080p HD
  • 2K Restored Feature Presented in 16:9 Widescreen 1080p HD (first time ever!)
  • DTS HD-MA All-New 2018 5.1 Surround Remix
  • DTS HD-MA Original 1989 2.0 Stereo Mix
  • 2018 production commentary (participants TBA)
  • Cast & crew interviews
  • Still Galleries (including all original artwork by David Lange)
  • "The Robot Ninja" 2014 fan film by Johnny Dickie
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Tempe Digital Trailers
Disc 2 (DVD-9)
  • 1989 VHS Release Version in 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio (Standard Definition)
  • Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Original Mix
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Remix
  • Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo German Dubbed Mix
  • 2018 Audio Commentary with writer/director J.R. Bookwalter
  • Audio Commentary with Doug Tilley and Moe Porne of No-Budget Nightmares Podcast
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • 1989 Original VHS Release Trailer
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Tempe DVD Trailers
Disc 3 (CD)
  • First time on CD! Original Motion Picture Soundtrack with complete score by J.R. Bookwalter plus songs by J.R. Bookwalter, Foxx, Argus, and Rodney Shields
Packaging
  • Slipcover with vintage artwork by David Lange (first 500 units only)
  • Reversible wrap with newly-commissioned artwork by David Lange and original 1989 Cinema Home Video VHS artwork
  • Eight-page color booklet with liner notes and behind-the-scenes photos (first 1,000 units only)
  • First 1,000 units numbered and autographed by writer/director J.R. Bookwalter
Stay tuned for a few more surprises yet to come!
So there you have it. A brand new 2K Restoration from the writer/director himself, packed full of goodies and perks. This is really only a small bit of info regarding this release. Please visit the official Indiegogo Campaign HERE to get all the details. I encourage you to hurry, because this is a limited release and will surely sell out fast.







4.12.2018

John Carpenter Classics Coming to Blu-Ray: In The Mouth of Madness, Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Someone's Watching Me!

by robotGEEK

This is a few days old by now, but just in case you missed it, Scream Factory (Shout! Factory's horror off-shoot) just announced a few John Carpenter classics getting the Blu-Ray treatment for the very first time in the U.S.

This is incredible news for a lot of people, because these tend to be shockingly overlooked gems from Carpenter's filmography, especially In The Mouth of Madness, which is the one most people are excited about, and they should be. It's just great. A true WTF? bizarre Carpenter masterpiece that holds the distinction of being one of his last "great" films.

I can't say I've ever seen Someone's Watching Me!, but I'm always down for a good thriller and this one looks to fit that bill. Even better that it's a JC film both written and directed by the master. This was his first film after his breakout hit Halloween, and his first TV Movie gig, which he would follow up with another TV Movie, Elvis.

As great as this news is, and as excited as people are for In The Mouth of Madness, I have to say the one I personally am the most excited about is Memoirs of an Invisible Man, a vastly underrated thriller that never quite found it's audience, despite the fact that it's an excellent thriller/drama/love story all around, full of incredible effects and a solid performance from Chevy Chase, here breaking far away from his usual comedy. And I know it was the casting of Chase that was this film's ultimate downfall. I remember. People automatically assumed it was a comedy because of his casting, and it truly is not. Quite the opposite. It's a great thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, full of great visuals, tension, thrills and a better than you'd expect turn from Chase in a serious role. I can't wait to see this on Blu, in HD for the first time. Of all these new releases, this will be the one I'll grab first.

Here's the announcement and spec's via Scream Factory:

A wave of more John Carpenter films comes crashing into Scream Factory on July 24th! Two make their blu-ray debuts and another highly-requested one receives a serious upgrade. Extras will be announced at a later date but here are the details we have at this time...
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1995)

Sutter Cane (J├╝rgen Prochnow, Dune, The Seventh Sign) is the best-selling author whose newest novel is literally driving readers insane. When he inexplicably vanishes, his publisher (Charlton Heston, Soylent Green, Planet Of The Apes) sends special investigator John Trent (Sam Neill, Daybreakers, Dead Calm) to track him down. Drawn to a town that exists only in Cane's books, Trent crosses the barrier between fact and fiction and enters a terrifying world from which there is no escape. Inspired by the tales of H.P. Lovecraft, this shocking story is, in the words of its acclaimed director, "horror beyond description!"
• This will be branded as a “Collector’s Edition” that will come with a slipcover (guaranteed for three months after its original release date). U.S. and Canada territories (Region A).
• The newly-commissioned artwork pictured comes to us from Joel Robinson (Firestarter, Rabid, Species, Drag Me to Hell). This art will be front-facing and the reverse side of the wrap will the original theatrical poster.
• Extras and specs are still in progress and will be announced at a later date. However, we can confirm today that we will be doing a brand-new film transfer!
Pre-order now for early shipping directly from us @ https://www.shoutfactory.com/…/in-the-mouth-of-madness-coll… Plus, you will also receive an 18' x 24" rolled poster of the newly-commissioned art. The posters are made at a limited quantity so act fast.
SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME (1978) 

Los Angeles newcomer Leigh Michaels (Lauren Hutton) moves into a chic high-rise apartment building. She loves the view. So does the Peeping Tom who lives somewhere in the adjacent tower. For Leigh, it's the beginning of terrors that escalate from anonymous calls and gifts to lights that mysteriously flicker to prove that someone watches every moment of her life. Leigh fights back, matching her tormentor's obsession with her own relentless drive to uncover his identity. The prey is now predator – and that escalates the stalker's game to a deadly new level. Someone is watching. Also starring Adrienne Barbeau 
and Charles Cyphers.
Pre-order now for early shipping directly from us @ https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/someone-s-watching-me…


MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN (1992)

The laughs and visual effects are out of sight when Chevy Chase headlines Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Invisibility makes it easier to spy on agents (particularly chief adversary Sam Neill) who've put him in his predicament. And he can romance a lovely documentary producer (Daryl Hannah) in a way she's never "seen" before. John Carpenter directs and Industrial Light and Magic create eye-opening effects as Nick embarks on his manic quest. Seeing is believing!
Pre-order now for early shipping directly from us @https://www.shoutfactory.com/p…/memoirs-of-an-invisible-man…








There you have it. As you can see, no real info "yet" on the extra's, which Shout! and Scream have been really great at making the extra's the best parts of these new releases, so you can bet we'll be getting some good news on that in the coming months. Stay tuned!

4.11.2018

80's Action Attack!: The Soldier - The Greatest Arthouse Action Movie Ever Made

Arthouse Surrealism Combines With Ultimate Action in The Soldier (1982)

by The Cinema Drunkie

September 19th, 1980 saw the release of The Exterminator, a film by an up and coming  filmmaker by the name of James Glickenhaus that did incredible business. Made for only $2 million, it grossed $35 million during its initial release. Adjusted for inflation, that adds up to $105 million in 2018 money. That’s a lot of guap for a low budget grindhouse style vigilante movie. After The Exterminator’s massive success, Glickenhaus got a call from a financier to make an action movie as long as he used international locations in which said financier already had money placed. Glickenhaus immediately went to work, and the culmination of that was… The Soldier.
Released on August 27th 1982, The Soldier was only a minor success, earning nowhere near the grosses that The Exterminator pulled in. But that’s fine, because as much as I love The Exterminator, I think The Soldier surpasses it in every way. But don’t just take my word for it. Somebody else had to have found the footage impressive, because Glickenhaus’ next movie after this was the Jackie Chan vehicle The Protector. So that’s saying a lot right there. I mean, Jackie ended up hating the finished movie (I love it, though. Who cares what Jackie says?), but he obviously liked what he saw in The Soldier enough to pick him as director for his second big attempt at making an international cross over (The Big Brawl being his first).
But there’s something more to The Soldier than just badass stunts and action. So much more. And that something more is… Surrealism. This movie is so surreal it is practically an arthouse action movie. Hold on… Now that I think about it, this is definitely an arthouse action movie. What’s an Arthouse action movie, you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia, “The arthouse action genre is an emerging film genre in contemporary cinema that traces its roots back to Asian and European films.” Some examples listed were HaywireLooperGhost Dog: Way of the Samurai, Sorcerer and Drive. I don’t know about Haywire or Looper, but I can fully attest to the validity of Ghost DogSorcerer and especially Drive being Arthouse action. But what about The Soldier? What makes it so Arthouse? Let’s find out!

“THEIR LEADER. CODENAME: THE SOLDIER.”

The Soldier stars Ken Wahl as a government anti-terrorist agent known only by his code name: The Soldier. He takes on his most dangerous mission yet as he’s tasked with stopping rogue Russian bad guys from blowing up a Saudi Arabian oil field. And that’s pretty much it…

“THEY’RE CHANGING THE GAME IN A MAJOR WAY!”


I’ve seen many action movies in my time, but never one more awesomely badass yet so artistically strange (For this type of movie, I mean) as The Soldier. It’s a film that’s simple yet almost avant garde in its storytelling. It’s like Glickenhaus wants you to figure out what’s going on instead of him having to tell you. Just pure storytelling by images, with minimal dialogue. I love that. I love a filmmaker who rejects the “hand holding” style of filmmaking that has been so prevalent in movies, even to this day.
Take the first scene for example. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers as much as possible because I want you to see this movie immediately (it’s just been released on for the first time on DVD and Blu Ray by Kino Lorber), so I’ll be very vague in my description of the scene: It involves a limousine, 3 bystanders, a woman with a baby carriage, a bucket load of bullets flying, and a helicopter. And I promise you, it is the most WTF opening to an action movie ever. Matter of fact, the first 20 mins of the movie are all so incredibly WTF. Glickenhaus creates a puzzle with his scenes, but gives you just enough to put it all together without having to explain it. But you better think fast, because the pace of this movie is absolutely relentless!

“ONE MAN. ONE UNIT. RENEGADE AGENTS OUT TO SOLVE A CRISIS…”

Oh yes. The Soldier moves at breakneck speed, rarely letting up for a second to let you catch your breath. Glickenhaus improves considerably from the deliberately slower pace of his previous movie by giving the audience so many awesome action moments so fast throughout the movie’s brisk running time that it almost feels like one long action scene. It all just beautifully blends together. Glickenhaus really came into his own with this movie, proving himself to be the most underrated action director of his era, and quite possibly all time.
And the way every shot is set up and executed gives the whole movie a dreamlike, almost haunting quality. Especially with Tangerine Dream composing a pulsating, but almost trance inducing electronic score. The movie feels like you’re sitting inside the mind of a 13 year old David Lynch who’s dreaming he’s a rated R version of James Bond. It’s all so awesomely straightforward, yet beautifully weird. You wanna know how weird? Klaus Kinski shows up in a damn near wordless cameo wearing an all white ski suit that Ned Flanders would love, but would piss Homer Simpson off. That’s right. Klaus Kinski. Werner Herzog’s favorite actor himself. And all he really does is have a tense staring contest with Ken Wahl in a cable car. I. Am not. Kidding.
The acting is serviceable enough. Ken Wahl isn’t going to win any awards, but he’s pretty good in the lead role. Tough and effective. Glickenhaus reportedly wanted Tommy Lee Jones for the part, but the studio wanted Wahl. Although I weep to think what could have been had Jones gotten the part, the movie works just fine with Wahl. I have no complaints. The supporting cast isn’t so bad either, with familiar faces such as Alberta WatsonWilliam PrinceJoaquim de Almeida, the aforementioned Kinski (Who shouldn’t really count, because he’s only in the movie for like 3 mins, and says nothing for 2 and a ½ of them) and the late, great Steve James all making appearances.

“THEy DON’T SOLVE PROBLEMS. THEY TERMINATE THEM!”

But… I know, I know. You come here to read about action. Well, you’ve come to the right place, because The Soldier is full of it! The first hour of the movie is a non-stop rollercoaster ride. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s the truth. The god honest truth. This movie just does not stop! Shootouts, car chases, fights with ninjas, ski chases and more slow motion explosions than the climax of a Michael Bay movie. And the stunt work is simply fantastic. You’ll really be blown away by the stuff they accomplished on the low budget they had. There is an especially spectacular stunt that’s caps off an exciting ski chase in the middle of the movie. You actually get a glimpse of it in Shakedown, also directed by Glickenhaus. It’s the movie Sam Elliott is watching in the theater when we’re introduced to his character. But, even that small clip doesn’t do the stunt justice. It’s a stunt that you can only fully appreciate when you watch it in its entirety.

“THE SOLDIER. YOU DON’T ASSIGN HIM. YOU UNLEASH HIM.”

The whole movie is like that for that matter. The Soldier truly stands out by refusing to be just like every other movie of its kind. It contains everything you recognize and love about those type of movies and does it its own way. No care at all to even try to fit in. And as an action movie junkie, that’s so rewarding. And we all have Glickenhaus to thank for that. Hopefully, my review has piqued your interest enough to seek this out as well as his other films. Because, in my opinion, recognition for the man is long overdue.