Cyber Monday: Project Shadowchaser Trilogy

Frank Zagarino dies hard!

Cinemasochism: Black Mangue (2008)

Braindead zombies from Brazil!

The Gweilo Dojo: Furious (1984)

Simon Rhee's bizarre kung fu epic!

Adrenaline Shot: Fire, Ice and Dynamite (1990)

Willy Bogner and Roger Moore stuntfest!

Sci-Fried Theater: Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (1979)

Surreal Russian neo-noir detective epic!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The "Never Got Made" File #9 - #13: Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper burst onto the filmmaking scene with some film called THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Never seen it, but I hear the remake is awesome. If you agree with that statement, kindly place your left hand behind your head and smash your face into the computer screen.

For a period of time, Tobe was THE man. He had a good ten year or so run from 1974-1986. But what is interesting about Hooper are the behind-the-scenes stories and cases of what could have been. I'm sure you've heard the POLTERGEIST stories and probably know Hooper was replaced on both THE DARK (1979) and VENOM (1981; Tobe, Kinski and Oliver Reed, ah, what coulda been!). Here we highlight some other projects that were announced with Hooper's involvement that never saw fruition.

Did you know RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD was original announced in the early 1980s to be directed by Hooper and was to be shot in 3-D? In a way, I'm glad this film fell apart. I'm sure it would have been good, but we would never have been given the gift of Dan O'Bannon's directorial debut.

Post-POLTERGEIST, Hooper hooked up with Cannon for a several picture deal. Titles that came out of this include LIFEFORCE (1985), the remake of INVADERS FROM MARS (1986) and the underrated sequel THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986). Hooper was apparently going to direct a third sci-fi script by O'Bannon and Don Jakoby titled PINOCCHIO: THE ROBOT. While one would assume it would be geared towards children, it would have been interesting to see (and probably ended up a lot like A.I.).

Also, Hooper was associated with Cannon's never-realized SPIDER-MAN movie for a hot minute. Honestly, I think it was company policy for every director under their banner to be attached to this cinematic hot potato. Other guys attached to the project during the Cannon/21st Century years include Albert Pyun (THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER) and Joseph Zito (INVASION U.S.A.; THE PROWLER).

Hooper almost hooked up with Charles Band's Empire Pictures in the late 80s. Two projects were announced but never made - the adaptation of Gary (THE HOWLING) Brandner's ghost novel FLOATER and something called INTRUDER (not to be confused with Scott Spiegel's slasher). The artwork for INTRUDER offers little in the way of info, but one would think Hooper backed with Band's (soon to be non-existent) funding would have created something interesting. Instead Hooper went on to make SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION...yeesh!

Finally, feast your eyes on another late 80s project called DOUBLE VISION. It was based on a script by Mick Garris but never got made. Judging from the short taglines, this script is what Garris eventually turned into his short story "Chocolate," which appeared in the Hot Blood book series in 1989 and was eventually made into an episode of MASTERS OF HORROR.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Acceptable Clichés & Moronic Deal Breakers

If you have been around the cinematic, or videotronic, block enough times, you will find that movies time and time again utilize certain clichés that stick out like a turd in a punchbowl. Some of them I’m fine with. These are what I call “Acceptable Cliches”; plot devices or situations that provide a launching pad for something cool that while utilized extensively in movies both good and bad, are not terribly offensive in and of themselves.

Others are “Moronic Deal-Breakers”; plot devices or situations that are so freakin’ lame that the rest of the movie has to work extra hard at being bad ass to bring you back from the brink of movie suckdom. These clichés are typically used and abused through sheer cynical, lazy filmmaking, though like every cliché there are noteworthy exceptions.

Acceptable Cliché: This kind of overlaps with action films, but regardless, I can totally live with a martial arts movie that uses the old-saw “you killed my brother/sister/family/second step cousin twice removed” or “humiliated my school of kung fu” excuse to launch a action-packed, bloody tale of one man’s revenge. Or woman, I’m not biased. Angela Mao can avenge my death any day. As long as someone’s been horribly wronged and is dishing out the vengeance, I’m cool. See THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1967) and ONG-BAK (2003) for perfect examples of this wisp of a plot device acting as a catalyst for amazing action.

Moronic Deal Breaker: There are a couple, but this is my main throw-my-remote-across-the-room deal-breaker: The insipid “small, agile hero fights the big, fat, stupid guy” routine. Stars who are really capable of very impressive martial arts scenes like Jackie Chan and Jet Li have all fallen into this trap at one point or another. “Oh no! A huge fat guy is attacking like a brontosaurus in a tar pit!” Our hero scampers around, lays out a flurry of attacks while the hulking mass of blubber stumbles around, throwing wild haymakers in slow motion, bellowing with rage and confusion as our nimble hero ducks, doges and leaps to safety. This scene, at least in most films, invariably features some sort of humorous tomfoolery where our hero ends the fight with a groin shot, kick in the ass or bucket over the head. A perfect example of this can be found in THE BIG BRAWL (aka BATTLE CREEK BRAWL, 1980). An example of a movie getting a pass on this is THE STORY OF RICKY (1991), if only because our hero punches the lumbering oaf in the stomach and pulls out a bloody handful of intestines, unintentionally turning the cliché on its ear.

Acceptable Cliché: The loner, loose-cannon cop is going to take down the mob/dealers/dirty cops/serial killer/whatever. This is an acceptable launching point for a masterpiece of the genre such as MAGNUM FORCE (1973) or just an action-packed, stunt-filled corker such as SHAKEDOWN (1988). As long as the filmmakers don’t get carried away thinking that cliché is going to keep the entire movie afloat, it is totally acceptable. One too many trips to the chief’s office, too much time spent brooding over the partner’s demise or god forbid an animal is somehow factored into the plot and that movie is headed to the dog-house. At no point should this cliché overshadow the hard action and gritty dialogue.

Moronic Deal Breaker: I was tempted to go with “The Hitman with a Heart of Gold”, but I think I’m going to have to go with “The Abandoned Refinery”. It was a tough decision, but if you’ve seen enough low-budget action films from the ‘80s and ‘90s, you know it’s the right one.
Aside from the prologue, the entire film takes place in an abandoned refinery. I really I hate this cliché. Your movie better kick some serious friggin’ ass if I’m going to sit through more than 10 minutes of guys running up and down ladders and cat-walks taking random pot-shots at each other. I don’t give a flying crap how many times someone falls over a railing in slow-motion, I better see some goddamn exploding heads and ninjas and shit. A wise fillmmaker will use this money-saving cliché sparingly and creatively, only as a small portion of the action locales or it factors directly into the plot. Films like NEMESIS (1992) and THE NINJA MISSION (1984) pull this off with aplomb.

Acceptable Cliché: The unseen/unstoppable stalker/killer. I’m pretty sure I can’t even count as high as the number of films that use this cliché. There's like some factor of Pi in there somewhere, I'm willing to bet. I'd need people who would never read this blog to figure out what that is.
From the Old Dark House movies that have been around since the silent era to the Italian Giallos to the American Slasher movies of the ‘80s (though the killer was frequently seen in those films), this is the Pam Anderson of horror plot devices. Easy, well used and rough around the edges. Films like SUSPIRIA (1977) use it in conjunction with the occult and a barrage of bizarre visuals and music to deliver a film that completely transcends its humble “a killer is stalking a dance studio” premise. Also you can have the theme amplified and streamlined such as in RITUALS (1977) which sets precedent by having intelligent, educated adults being stalked through the woods and gruesomely picked off one by one. Because of the way the film builds tension to the breaking point and delivers disturbing shocks, it never seems to be a simple stalk n’ slash. On the other hand you have William Castle’s OLD DARK HOUSE (1963) which not only fails to deliver any of the campy fun punctuated by the occasional bit of truly twisted shocks ala HOMICIDAL (1961) but leaves the viewer waiting for that unseen killer to strike again just to alleviate the tedium.

Moronic Deal Breaker: This was another tough choice: “Ethnically Diverse, Horny Teens” vs. “Half-Assed Undead”. I think I can deal with the teens as long as something really bad happens to them (man, it’s a short ride from here to “get off my lawn, you damn kids!” isn’t it?).
If there is one true way to ruin a zombie movie, it’s zombies that look like normal people with nifty contact lenses acting like they are wild animals. No seriously. Look at them! They are making “roawr” sounds, hunching over and making claws with their hands. That’s fucking lame! All manner of low-rent, post-28 DAYS LATER (2002), zombie fare has this half-assed, cynical approach to the subject matter. I’m not even going to get into the whole “fast-moving” vs. “shuffling” thing, that’s not the point. The point is that if your zombies do not look like they were dead at some point, you suck. Not only did DEAD AIR (2008) give us the cheapest looking zombies ever (don't even start with that "technically they were 'infected'" crap) and threw in a tedious, cheap and not remotely believable plot, so-bad-it's-just-bad dialog, simplistic uber-patriot soapboxing and annoying, badly acted characters to get my vote as one of the worst zombie films ever. Contrast that with Bill Hinzman's FLESHEATER (1988). It is super-low budget but even so makes a decent effort in the make-up department and scores as a minor classic of sorts. Why? Because it's unintentionally hilarious, gory and trashy, plus it's pretty damn amusing that this is how Hinzman decided to capitalize on his minor fame as the zombie who was coming to get Barbara in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). Not to mention the fact that he's got a bucknekkid zombie chick and writes a scene for himself to grope some topless talent. Can't beat that.
ZOMBIELAND (2009) had the big bucks to do some crazy cool zombies, but couldn’t really bother to take its zombies seriously. “But it’s a comedy,” I hear you say. Ah yes, but so was RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) and there were so many diverse types of zombies that it takes multiple viewings to catch them all. Even the generally disliked Bryan Yuzna sequel RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 (1993), whatever it’s faults, provided a variety of gristly zombies that looked nothing like some over-acting extra with torn-clothes and a little blood splatter. 

Acceptable Cliché: “Aliens are trying to kill us!” Of course we know this to be true, but that still doesn’t make it any less of a cliché. The thing of it is, more often than not, the well-trodden path of xenophobia makes for entertaining cinema. Films like ALIEN (1979) are slick exercises in xenophobic terror. It’s an old horror film in a futuristic environment, nothing more than a bottle of Everclear; throat-searing moonshine with a purdy label. Films like X-TRO (1983) took the concept and wrapped it in a surreal, drug-induced haze of strangeness and Baltimore filmmaker Don Dohler arguably popularized the modern post-STAR WARS (1978) alien invasion motif with an entire penal colony of aliens terrorizing the local yokels in THE ALIEN FACTOR (1978). Whether the aliens are attacking us because they need our women, want to have Christmas or simply because they are just bloodthirsty, conscienceless killers, there is absolutely nothing wrong with well-placed fear of furiners.

Moronic Deal Breaker: Since I can’t use the same answer as Action Movies (“it’s the future! Abandoned refineries are the future!”), it’s got to be the “we’re too broke and lazy to come up with a cool futuristic environment, so we’ll have our hero go back in time to present day”.
What? You gotta be kidding me! Weak! Ok, fine. So how do we know our hero is from the future? He wears wrap-around shades and has a lot of product in his hair! A movie saddled with this cop-out has to work balls-out double time to recover from that weak crap. The best example of a movie getting away with that scot-free is TRANCERS (1985). Only a trench-coat clad, laser-gun armed, soft-focus shot Tim Thomerson could pull of what is admittedly the lamest of cheap plots about a cop from the future chasing down a criminal from the future who is controlling the minds of present-day suburbanites. Not only does Thomerson and Charles Band (of all people) make it happen, but does it so well, he was able to cash-in with five wretched sequels that deliver every drop of mono-dimensional tedium missing from the original. Very few others manage to even come close. Yes, yes, I know, I know there’s that one movie directed by that one guy who is currently very proud of his puerile blue aliens… We don’t talk about him.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Gweilo Dojo: STREET SOLDIERS (1991)

As quickly as my love affair with Jun Chong films began, so it ends with his third production...

STREET SOLDIERS (1991) - The Tigers and JPs are two of the whitest gangs you've ever seen and they rumble hard because JP leader Priest (Jeff Rector) and Tiger associate Troy (David Homb) both have the hots for Julie (Katherine Armstrong). Priest, fresh off a five year prison stint, dated her as a teen and thinks they are soulmates because they got tattooed together. Seriously. And this guy is the gang leader of the bad guys! Troy's buddy Chuck (Joon B. Kim) gets his uncle Master Han (Jun Chong) to teach the gang some martial arts in a one minute montage. When Julie is kidnapped and Chuck killed, it is time for one more montage (mountain climbing included!) before the final siege of the JP's headquarters.

You know you are trouble when the first scene in your inner city gang flick has two white boys discussing whether or not they are going to go to the high school dance. This is rough, rough stuff. I'm kicking myself now after I looked up the filmmakers because director Lee Harry's only other credit is SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT part 2. Yes, the film reviled as one of the worst sequels of all-time. Harry, who also co-wrote, seems to think he is making a martial arts WEST SIDE STORY. But he adds all the stuff that classic was missing like weak drive-bys, stick ball and a disturbing gang rape scene. Of course, this is a film so wrong headed that it has one teen going on and on about how cool the flea market is. "I thought it was just a place for old folks and kids trading baseball cards," he excitedly exclaims after a montage showing the amazing wares on display.

STREET SOLDIERS also totally lacks in the acting department. I'm not saying TURF or ASSASSINS had Oscar caliber performances, but those folks at least looked liked they were having fun. Lead stud Homb looks like Tim Robbins short brother and is the most decent of the folks. He was previously in the horror flicks WITCHCRAFT II and THE CHANNELER (alongside Dan Haggerty and my main man Richard Harrison). And if you think the "Garbage Day" acting in SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT pt. 2 is bad, wait until you see the stunningly awful performance of one Jeff Rector. Take a gander (he's the one with the cross earring and raspy voice):

Rector actually still works to this day in B-movies and has even produced and directed a few cheap-o flicks. He has a twin brother, Jerry, who is also an actor. I'm sure Jerry is really freakin' pissed.

Chong produces once again but doesn't have student Phillip Rhee around this time to help do the action so the film suffers greatly. Director Harry has no idea how to shoot a fight scene so even if Chong can still deliver the kicks, chances are you won't see them properly displayed on screen. Excellent Korean martial artist Hwang Jang Lee (from DRUNKEN MASTER; billed as Jason Hwang) is completely wasted as his final showdown against Chong is horribly edited and Harry keeps cutting back between it and a brawl between Priest and Troy. Did I forget to mention that Lee is also forced to walk around with a rubber snake around his neck and pretend that it is real.

So while I give both NINJA TURF and SILENT ASSASSINS enthusiastic thumbs up, I can only shake my head at STREET SOLDIERS. It says something when the biggest laugh I get comes from the opening credit "And Jay Richardson as Wheelchair Willie." Maybe it was the dried up direct-to-video action market or Chong's embarrassment, but he stayed out of movie producing for the next 15 years. More on that in part 4...

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Could it be possible that in 1972, after a mere seven installments, the world could have been getting a little weary of James Bond?

The previous year Sean Connery made his first of two returns to the character in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971), after the otherwise capable George Lazenby botched the job ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969). Even before that, the same year that the fourth Bond film, THUNDERBALL (1965), saw the light of day, Sidney J. Furie released his single masterpiece THE IPCRESS FILE (1965) which made a major effort to turn against the glib, glitzy adaptations of Ian Flemming and instead go for a gritty and realistic secret agent film with oblique camera angles and paranoid atmosphere. Again, that very same year, Lindsay Shonteff started his series of low-budget secret agent outings with LICENSED TO KILL (1965), which walked the line between aping Bond and satirizing him. Only a few scant years later the careening train-wreck CASINO ROYALE (1967) spoofed the then seemingly long-in-the-tooth series with over-the-top star-studded slapstick and way too many directors. This was the same year that Alberto de Martino came up with the brilliant plan to not only send up the James Bond films, but to do it with the help of Sean Connery's real life brother Neil Connery in OPERATION KID BROTHER (1967)! Does the genius of Italian exploitation filmmakers know any bounds? I think not.

So after all that here we are in '72. Where do you go from here? For Director Peter Collinson, coming fresh off of Hammer's PSYCHO (1960)-inspired STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING (1971), it's all about busting those 007 cliches while keeping a hard stare and a, for the most part, straight face. Based on James Mitchell's 1969 novel Collinson makes it his mission to go for a gut-punch espionage thriller with some weird touches of humor that are drier than 007's martini (provided mainly by the always fascinating Donald Pleasance).

Stanley Baker stars as John Craig, an aging, washed-up British Department K secret agent who was brutally tortured by the KGB in his last assignment. Unfortunately for him, he knows far too much to be allowed to retire into civilian life, and there are too many pencil-pushers working in the offices already. Because of this his department head, Donald Pleasance in one of his superbly eccentric turns, decides to give him one last shot at glory. The CIA wants to get their hands on a Jewish scientist named Kaplan who has recently escaped from a Russian gulag. Department K wants to get their hands on a particular document that the CIA has, and have decided that the best way to get it is to grab the scientist and make a trade. That is where Craig comes in. He is to find Kaplan and hand him over to Department K in exchange for a peaceful retirement while the two young hotshot agents (Sue Lloyd and Darren Nesbitt) act as decoys for the KGB, who looking to reclaim their prisoner. Of course this is nothing but a screw-job designed to leave Craig riddled with bullets and Kaplan safely in Department  K's hands.

Collinson seems to take great delight in portraying members of the intelligence world as either severely broken or outright twisted people. Nobody in the film is smooth or remotely well adjusted. Pleasance's turn as Loomis is stiff, arrogant and pompous to the point of caricature; Baker is quite convincing as a man who has been damaged beyond repair, but still has the wits and experience to allow him to barely squeeze through the tightest of spots and Nesbitt turns in a wonderfully slimy performance as a nasty, petty sociopath in a three-piece suit. Even the side characters are damaged goods; the contact that Craig uses to get to Kaplan is a frail, seemingly insecure young woman (Geraldine Chaplin) who has deep issues that are only alluded to, particularly when she puts the moves on Craig. Warren Mitchell, a veteran British actor with decades of British film and TV work under his belt, shows up as a Turk who spent most of his life in Australia and in spite of being a somewhat tongue in cheek role is no less a mentally scarred killer. The only character who appears to be somewhat intact is the CIA head, Blake (Dana Andrews), who strangely comes off looking far more professional and in-control than his British counterparts. That said, even he reveals a nasty side where he appears very eager to get into some serious torture when a more psychological approach is available.

Collinson keeps this collection of misfits on a short leash and drives the plot along at a brisk pace, throwing in nice little twists, great character bits and enough action to keep it from slipping into a political drama. This was Mitchell's final book in the four volume series starting with "The Man Who Sold Death" in 1964. It's a shame that this never became the launching pad for a series or at least inspired the adaptation of more books in the series, it would have been great to see Baker reprise this role at least once before his untimely death in 1976.

Collinson's career is one of those roller-coasters that may occasionally hit bottom with insufferable misfires like YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL (1970) and PORTRAIT OF AN ASSASSIN (1976) but easily wins us back with outstanding films such as THE ITALIAN JOB (1969) and this one, INNOCENT BYSTANDERS.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Gweilo Dojo: SILENT ASSASSINS (1988)

Well, it looks like the NINJA TURF principals finally graduated high school as Jun Chong and Phillip Rhee re-teamed in...

SILENT ASSASSINS (1988) - Cop Sam Kettle (Sam Jones) was this close to leaving L.A. with his girlfriend Sara (Linda Blair) before his chief tells him, "We need you." I'm not kidding, they were literally packing the U-Haul when the chief showed up. Seems bio-chemist Dr. London (perennial old man Bill Erwin) was kidnapped by Kettle's nemesis Kendrick (Gustav Vintas). Tagging along with Sam on his investigation is Jun Kim (Jun Chong), whose niece was kidnapped along with the doctor during the chaos. The duo learn from Oyama (Mako) that Kendrick has hired an elite Japanese killing squad and, with help from Oyama's son Bernard (Phillip Rhee), our heroes attack the secret hideout before Kendrick can secure a chemical weapons formula.

This is a step up from NINJA TURF as it has better production values, a name cast and explosions. Yeah, I'm easy. The cast actually seems to be giving it their all. Chong appears to have aged 15 years in the period between this and TURF, so he finally looks his age. But his fighting skills are still in top shape. As with the earlier TURF, all of the fights are very well done. Chong and Rhee handled the choreography and this is probably the best aspect of their low budget action flicks. Is it on the level of 80s Jackie Chan? No. But they do show some skill, especially during the final siege, where we also get an impressive exploding body. Rhee split from Chong's movies after this flick to go star in the highly successful BEST OF THE BEST series.

Jones, Flash Gordon himself, seems to be having fun in the role, not taking anything too seriously. The same can be said for Rhee, who is a dojo playboy this time around. Blair is featured on the cover brandishing a gun but her role is as the helpless girlfriend. She disappears completely from the picture around the 50 minute mark. Even worse, she doesn't show off her biggest assets despite an odd lovemaking scene halfway in. Karate legend Bill "Superfoot" Wallace also returns from TURF and gets a cameo as a deceitful Colonel but they never show his face! Given the cliff hanger ending, I suspect they were hoping for a part 2 with him as the lead villain.

Also, like TURF, there is some really odd/funny stuff going on in SILENT ASSASSINS. For example, Vintas - a dead ringer for Tom Noonan - always carries a red rose for some reason. His assistant Miss Amy (Playboy Playmate Rebecca Ferratti) is a hoot too, stating "Don't forget, I'm a bio-chemist too" while clad in the 80s worst leather dresses. There is also a hysterical bit where Dr. London displays the fragility of 80s computers as he shows a glitch of one model (if you flip over the keyboard, it will explode!). And then there is Dr. London's strange habit of always holding the kidnapped child in every shot. Creepy!

By far the most amusing thing about the movie is that these silent assassins are the loudest mofos around. Silencers on their guns? Hell nah! Any time they sneak up to kill someone, they let out a huge scream before attacking. So, like NINJA TURF with its lack of ninjas, producer/star Chong again fails to deliver on the title's promise. Clip of some not-so-silent assassins going to town on Mako; was the bookcase bit really necessary?

Stay tuned for part 3 to see how Jun Chong fared in his Rhee-less years!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gotterdammerung Epics: PATHFINDER (2007)

I know, I know, the rest of the planet thought this movie sucked, but then again, the rest of the planet loved NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 6, DIE ANOTHER DAY, TERMINATOR III and tons of other insufferable Hollywood crap, so what the hell do they know? I guess it got kinda cool for a brief moment to make sword n’ sorcery movies again. No complaints out of me, I’m perfectly happy to watch steroid-addled, long-haired manifestations of a testosterone-engorged id, separate motherless curs from their component parts with a mighty sword of legend. Seriously. What’s not to like?

A Native American woman stumbles across a half-destroyed Viking long-ship and a slew of dead bodies within. Among the dead a young boy, the son, as we soon learn, of a great Viking warrior who was part of a larger raiding party that was travelling from village to village doing what the Vikings of lore did: Pillaging, looting and enslaving. You’ll notice I didn’t say “raping”, as this film decides to eschew that reality in favor of more bloodthirsty antics. Some might decry this as being “PC” or playing it safe, but it really is unnecessary in what is basically a fantasy action movie. Fifteen years after being taken in by the Native American tribe, Ghost (as he is called, presumably because of his skin color and not because of what he does to his enemies) finds his tribe slaughtered, their carcasses left to be torn apart by the dogs in a scene that strongly echoes a similar scene in CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982), but actually ups the gore quotient. This sets him on a path of revenge.

Thick with gothic Mario Bava-esque visuals and somewhat reminiscent of the sword movies of the ‘80s, the film plays like an Italian rip-off of APOCALYPTO and 300. The Italians never liked to be constrained by the limitations of the films they were exploiting, neither does this. Like the aforementioned studio films, PATHFINDER is based on a legend that is based in reality. Archeological and anthropological evidence shows that around 1000 BC Viking ships landed on North American shores some 500 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. There are two Icelandic sagas, The Saga of Eric the Red and The Saga of the Greenlanders, that refer to the discovery of this “Vineland” and a 1960 archeological dig backs up the Nordic scribblers. Now, knowing that, what sort of movie would you make? A highly stylized, ultra-gory fantasy flick? Hell yeah, you would! The visuals, while inspired by APOCALYPTO, are incredibly atmospheric with layers of detail, gnarled black trees, mountains of skulls, mist, fog, snow and smoke providing atmosphere so thick you could cut it with an antler. In spite of the fact it is a gory fantasy yarn, a lot of attention was paid to the accuracy of the Indian villages and the deliberate, over-the-top inaccuracy of the Viking warriors who are portrayed as cruel, sadistic, hulking brutes who’s black eyes and ornate armor make them more like monsters than men. Again, this is fine with me as they make a great group of villains. Their voices are deep and guttural and they speak only in Icelandic (with subtitles) which is a really cool touch. Veteran badass Clancy Brown totally steals the film as the grizzled leader of the Viking hoards, without careening into campiness as he is want to do. Admittedly our beefcake lead, Karl Urban is pretty bland, but after the first half an hour, it's all non-stop action and extremely violent action at that. Did I mention it was gory? Some of the blood spray is done CGI, however it’s done much better than most and even so most of the graphic gore is the real prosthetic stuff. I don’t cotton to them “fantasy lite” outings like the sanitized, sissified 1997 adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s brutal and dark Kull series, so this is a welcome antidote.

Director Marcus Nispel, best known for the tepid and pointless remakes THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003) and FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009), has been chosen, no doubt on the merits of this film, to helm the forthcoming CONAN THE BARBARIAN remake. It’s really a shame because like TEXAS CHAINSAW, there is no way to remake a classic genre film of this caliber and have it do anything but pale in comparison. Particularly dismal is the casting of Baywatch pretty-boy Jason Momoa as Conan; this fodder could be cranked out by anyone. I’d much rather see Nispel make another original film so at least I can know whether PATHFINDER was a fluke or the glimmer of untapped talent.

Being a sucker for violent sword n' sorcery flicks and films that make an effort to create a detailed fictional world that drips with atmosphere in general, I really enjoyed it. The film operates on it's own logic and there's no comic relief, no hipster-friendly anachronisms, no glib one-liners. Definitely the thing to turn off a modern audience. As far as I can tell, judging from the reactions of others, audiences expected something dramatic and somewhat pretentious like  APOCALYPTO (which is unfortunately exactly what the trailers imply) and were turned off by the uber-stylized violent exploitation film approach. Then there is the "serious" film scholar who cannot tolerate anything that is not a mega-budgeted Hollywood "thinking man's film" (except of course for the dubious claims of enjoying French New Wave films) shrieking their bandwagon-jumping disapproval in much the same way BLADE RUNNER (1982) was railroaded by the "serious" crowd for being "noisy" and "muddled" (who have all done a complete 180 now that it is fashionable). Not that this is anywhere near as misunderstood or as brilliant as BLADE RUNNER was, but the sime thrill that some people get from jumping on the hate wagon is easy to see here. I’m sure the rather forgettable title didn't help either. Your mileage may vary, but for my money this is easily the best sword-wielding flick of the decade.

This is the Promotional Trailer that was used to gain backing for the film. In spite of the fact that it's not cleaned up with professional titles and voice work, it actually does a better job of setting up the film than the studio cut trailer.

The "Never Got Made" File #6, #7 and #8: Sho Kosugi

With all this talk of ninjas, it wouldn't be right to leave out Master Ninja himself, Sho Kosugi. You couldn't throw a ninja star in the 1980s without hitting some kind of Kosugi related ninja movie in the theaters or in the works. Here are three announced but never made Sho Kosugi features.

DEVIL'S ODDS: AMERICAN TRINITY - Man, talk about a case of "What coulda been" cinema! Sho Kosugi teaming up with legendary Paul Smith (POPEYE; MIDNIGHT EXPRESS). If the flick had delivered on only half of what the preliminary art from the mid-80s promised, it would have been a classic. And for you Sept. 11th conspiracy fans, note the image in the background.
WAY OF THE NINJA - If you were salivating at the thought of Kosugi teaming up with Paul Smith, your head might explode to think he almost made a film with KOJAK himself, Telly Savalas. Listed Executive Producer Moshe Diamant had previously worked with Kosugi on PRAY FOR DEATH (1985).

HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER - Finally, if you wonder who put the "sho" in showmanship, it was Mr. Kosugi. Here is an unrealized starring vehicle for his two sons, Kane and Shane, previously seen kicking butt alongside dad in NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA (1985) and PRAY FOR DEATH (1985). This looks like a tough war drama and what better place to get a title than a late 60s pop ballad? Reasons for it not being made could include child labor laws, sensible parenting or lack of interest in the children's war epic subgenre.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Gweilo Dojo: NINJA TURF (1985)

Chances are you've never heard of Jun Chong. After all, how could one even notice this pint sized ass-kicker in the era of guys like Schwarzenegger and Stallone? Born in 1944, Chong began training in the martial arts at an early age and was well versed in Tae Kwon Do by the time his family emigrated to the US. He opened his first Tae Kwon Do school in the late 1960s. With the onslaught of 1970s kung fu chic (thanks mostly to Bruce Lee), Chong's business thrived throughout the decade with the instructor gracing the cover of martial arts magazines left and right. Chong even gave cinema a try as the lead in the Bruceploitation flick BRUCE LEE FIGHTS BACK FROM THE GRAVE (1976). By the time the 1980s rolled around, Chong had been studying martial arts for nearly 30 years. And with flicks being offered to every other guy who could throw a kick, it seemed only natural that Chong would get back on screens. But this time Chong did it on his own terms as he took to producing his own action flicks.

NINJA TURF (1985) - Young (Chong), Tony (Chong student Phillip Rhee) and three friends start up a security business and this results in them getting in fights a lot. The main plot doesn't kick in until an hour has passed when Young steals a ton of drug money from a client who hired them ("It was bad money and I would put it to a good cause"). Naturally, the dealer wants it back so he hires two assassins - Japan's Yoshida (Ken Nagayama) and New York's Kruger (Bill "Superfoot" Wallace) - to retrieve it and teach the boys a lesson.

Chong's first foray into producing is an odd, yet enjoyable 80s action flick. Odd in the sense that it has no plot for the first hour and that lead tough guy Chong spends a lot of time crying about his drunk mom not loving him. Oh, and like the previously reviewed RUSSIAN TERMINATOR, there is some wonky retitling going on here as there isn't a single ninja in NINJA TURF (its original title was LOS ANGELES STREETFIGHTER). And, oddest still, in that Chong, who was in his 40s when this was shot, is supposed to be playing a high school student!?! Initially I thought there is no way he could be in high school. Maybe it was community college. But sharp-eyed junkie head Tom spotted this:

The supporting cast is sprinkled with familiar faces. Brinke Stevens shows up as a drug dealer's girlfriend and supplies the film's only nudity. In addition, future stars Thomas Wilson (Biff from BACK TO THE FUTURE) and Loren Avedon (KING OF THE KICKBOXERS) have small roles as gang members. Perhaps the most famous co-star in this day and age of the internet(s) is Mark Hicks. Hicks is a member of Young's crew (aptly named Mark) and he achieved internet superstar notoriety as the famous Afro Ninja, the guy who attempts to do a flip with some nunchaku and falls on his head. I'm sure you've seen it. Here he is crying about his birthday:

And while NINJA TURF is filled with plenty of unintentionally hilarious bits like this one above, the film has a certain appeal. Director Woo-sang Park (under the name Richard Park) directs the action scenes well with a focus on the marital arts talents of the leads. In fact, this might be some of the best U.S. action choreography from that time period because they shot it in the style of Hong Kong martial arts flicks with an emphasis on long takes and complex routines. Chong and Rhee would re-team a few years later on SILENT ASSASSINS (1988), to be featured in part 2 of this retrospective.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The "Never Got Made" File #4 and #5: Dueling Siegfrieds

Both ads here are circa 1982. I wonder what could have possibly spawned such an interest in sword and sorcery films with musclebound protagonists? ;-) Yes, the effects of CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) were felt worldwide and, naturally, the Italians jumped on the genre quickly. Of course, leave it to the Italians to go wayyy out there and adapt an act from Richard Wagner's opera DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN (THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG) in order to cash in on the CONAN craze.

SIEGFRIED THE NIBELUNG lists one Peter Newton as the director. That is, of course, the pseudonym for Joe D'Amato and chances are this project morphed into ATOR THE INVINCIBLE of the same year.

THE SWORD OF SIEGFRIED had the irascible Lucio Fulci listed as the prospective director. Again, this specific project did not materialize, but Fulci did get his fantasy freak on with CONQUEST as short time later.

One has wonder if legal technicalities played into the changing of both from SIEGFRIED projects to regular sword and sorcery projects. Ha, like that would ever stop the Italians!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mats Helge: THE RUSSIAN NINJA (1989)

That crazy Swede, Mats Helge, takes a second swipe at the ninja genre, but on a much smaller scale this time out.

THE RUSSIAN NINJA (aka THE RUSSIAN TERMINATOR) begins with an immaculately coifed fashion photographer, Mike (Frederick Offrein), having a photo shoot interrupted by a wealthy man in a white limo (Timothy Earle desperately trying to hide behind a fake mustache and glasses) requesting, bribing and ultimately blackmailing Mike into returning to his old mercenary ways and helping his daughter, Eve (Playboy Playmate Helle Michaelsen), who’s boyfriend has been kidnapped by individuals unknown. So sets the gears in motion to provide Mike with an excuse to kick ass, take names and generally look like George Lucas and Gunnar Hansen’s long lost lovechild. We discover that the kidnappers are after a certain politically valuable document in Dad’s office that Eve and childhood friend/bodyguard (Ramon Sylvan of ANIMAL PROTECTOR, 1988) are to steal in exchange for the dude-sel in distress. Meanwhile Mike is hot on their tail and the mysterious Russian Ninja follows them all, presumably to protect the document. This is actually one of the films big weak points (I mean aside from the acting, fight choreography, dialogue and production values), the ninja is not only a background figure, but is one of those “good” ninjas. Mats, what the hell were you thinking? There are NO good ninjas, unless they are the ones fighting the evil ninjas. Anyway, our ninja skulks in the shadows until ultimately uttering lines in an almost Schwarzenegger like mumble such as “You got a problem… You’re gonna die.”

Hey, what's Ozzy doing in this flick!?
Interestingly the US release of THE RUSSIAN NINJA underwent a title change courtesy of Arena Home Video. During the mid to late ‘80s everything coming into the country or even domestic stuff hitting video received a title change to include the word “ninja”. Low-budget films such as Richard Park’s LOS ANGELES STREETFIGHTERS (1985) got a nifty retitling to NINJA TURF in spite of the fact that there isn’t even anything remotely resembling a ninja in the entire film. So you’d think Helge’s RUSSIAN NINJA would be wholeheartedly embraced by video distributors. And you’d be wrong. In 1990 Arena Video decided that ninja’s were passé and they wanted to sell it as a TERMINATOR film, predating the massive direct-to-video cash-ins on the success of TERMINATOR II (1991). Only the brilliant Godfrey Ho saw the opportunity of capitalizing on both, releasing NINJA TERMINATOR in 1985.

RUSSIAN NINJA has it’s good points to be sure, but suffers from a general lack of exploitation value after the opening scene up until the last 10 minutes. Sure there is some badly (and amusingly) staged hand-to-hand combat, but it really needed some bloody squibs, a better car chase and something exploding. Anything exploding. Cardboard boxes catching fire. Anything! The other big cardinal sin Helge commits is casting a Playboy Playmate for his female lead and not having any nudity. Seriously, you paid her to be in the movie, people are paying to see her in the movie… that’s just bad consumership. If people wanted to see her acting acumen, she would have had a career as an actress, not as a nude model. Does that sound shallow and chauvinistic? Come on now, you know it’s true.

Kenny Rogers knows when to hold 'em.
That said there is some unintentional fun to be had. The helicopter stunt that consists of the Russian climbing on to a helicopter in flight, getting in a fight and throwing the guy out only to have the camera cut to a wide shot revealing that the copter is only a mere six feet off the ground is freakin’ priceless. Offrein manages to go the entire movie without changing his flat expression once. Whether he’s telling his wife (who looks like a pajama-clad Ozzy Osbourne from his No Rest for the Wicked days) that he must be going on a dangerous mission or strangling a badguy with his own automatic weapon, his deadpan never falters. Step through it in slow motion if you don’t believe me. It’s pretty impressive. Also, it must have been a long time ago that Mike was a serious badass because through most of the movie damn near everyone kicks his ass and he couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with that fancy gold-plated .45 of his. Then again, Eve’s bodyguard isn’t much use either as he gets his butt whupped by Mike half-way through the film and when he stands at the bottom of a flight of stairs shooting up at the stationary female kidnapper he empties his gun and she turns around and walks off without so much as a scratch. There are some great bits of dialogue as well, one of my favorites is between the kidnappers and Eve.
Male Kidnapper: “Eve, have you got the papers?”
Eve: “Yes, I've got the papers… Got my boyfriend?”
Female Kidnapper: “Of course we've got him. I've got him. Who do you think we are? A bunch of assholes?!”

Widely credited as a sequel to Mats Helge’s NINJA MISSION (1984) due to some promotional art, this is merely Helge’s next film after making NINJA MISSION that has the word “NINJA” in the title and at least one character in ninja garb. Other than that, no relation. I suspect this was Helge's way of drumming up some meager financial backing. I don’t want to get to technical here, but to broaden the gap, NINJA MISSION had a gazillion times more action, effects, and locations. You know, what they call a “budget”. While I have been unable to track down all of Helge’s films, from what I’ve been able to see, his films tend to arc downward in budget and production values from NINJA MISSION and BLOOD TRACKS (1985) to his second to last film THE FORGOTTEN WELLS (1990), which is so budget starved that it makes similarly themed under-ground spelunkers like Albert Pyun’s ADRENALINE (1996) seem like mega-budgeted thrill-rides. Fortunately most of Helge’s efforts are vastly entertaining inspite of, sometimes because of, their attempts to compete with Hollywood action films. Also, the stories about the man himself which include tales of him being deaf because of all of the explosions in his films and doing prison time due to bookkeeping issues, really only add to the appeal.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The "Never Got Made" Files #2 and #3: HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP 2 and PIRANHA 3

Both of these projects are circa 1991 and neither film got made. HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP 2 carried the subtitle THE NEXT GENERATION. Note producer Ovidio Assonitis' pseudonym Oliver Hellman (clever) slated to direct PIRANHA 3. Interestingly, Roger Corman did produce remakes of both films in 1995-6 for Showtime. A second remake of PIRANHA is forthcoming. Ugh.


#3 - PIRANHA 3

Friday, April 9, 2010

On the Celluloid Chopping Block: Mats Helge's BLOOD TRACKS (1985)

For those who need an introduction, Sweden has a couple of internationally famous (or infamous) exploitation directors, none more prevalent in America than Mats Helge. If you’ve spent any time scouring video stores for cool low-budget movies in the ‘80s you will no doubt have stumbled across a film from New Line Cinema’s Smart Egg production company titled BLOOD TRACKS. Released in the US in 1985 it was marketed so as to make audiences think that it had something in common with Wes Craven’s 1984 hit A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Of course the only thing they had in common was a genre and a distributor, but they wouldn't have had to worry about that lame tie in if they had used the full poster art which featured a hair band and a lesbian make-out session. Oh wait, that's a dude on the bottom. Ah, the 80's when tough guys on a Monday morning spent more time in the bathroom than their girlfriends on a Friday night.

BLOOD TRACKS is easily Helge’s most ambitious and big budgeted work, a fact that will sadly be lost on first time viewers. The plot is classic fromage: A metal band named Solid Gold has come to an unidentified, presumably American mountain town in the middle of winter searching for the best spot to shoot a scene for the video to their new single “Blood Tracks”. Unbeknownst to them, the abandoned factory where they plan to shoot is home to a group of brothers and sisters who have been living there for over 40 years. Of course the band and their crew trespassing on their land doesn’t go unpunished and the body-count is pretty impressive. Clearly influenced by Wes Craven’s 1977 hit THE HILLS HAVE EYES, I actually enjoy this one more. While Craven was happy to hit one note and stick with it, Helge takes the idea and runs with it. Why have a family encounter this regressed family of savages, when you could have a rock group? Not only is a rock group more entertaining but they have hot chicks! Why have them be simply a group of savages when they could have a back-story about spousal abuse and be obsessed with Christianity? Granted, Craven’s film is more serious and disturbing, but Helge’s riff is infinitely more entertaining and rewatchable. Yeah, I said it. I'll take Helge over Craven any day of the week.

The once popular Swedish band Easy Action is credited with being the first Swedish glam metal band and after being formed in 1982 cut two albums, appeared in BLOOD TRACKS and broke up in 1986 when founding member Kee Marcello signed on with Europe. Seemingly modeled in sight and sound on Philadelphia glam rockers Cinderella, they actually preceded them. In '82 the band allegedly stole their name from another established Swedish band at the time and were sued in ‘83 by Poison, who claimed they plagiarized the chorus of their song “I Want Action” for their establishing hit single titled “We Go Rockin’.”

Unlike many films that try to use a band as a central focus for the plot, Easy Action is actually really entertaining in their cheesiness. The title song, which ranks right up there with the title song from Robert Ginty’s WHITE FIRE, is actually seriously catchy and will get stuck in your head every time you see the words "blood tracks".

The biggest problem with BLOOD TRACKS is that it appears to be one of those movies that got brutally censored every time it passed into someone’s hands. At present there is no known completely uncut print that I am aware of. If you know differently don’t hesitate to contact me. Until recently I thought it was hopeless to find even so much as a scrap of extra footage for this film.

The American release which was rated “R” is cut to ribbons. What is really surprising is that it’s not gore that our censors decided had to go! Mainly because most of the gore was already cut.
All I had ever heard and read was that there was no “uncut” version of BLOOD TRACKS on video and technically that still may be true. I had also read that the Japanese VHS was not “uncut”, this is technically true, but the interesting thing is that it is quite literally 3 minutes longer and contains three minutes of extra footage (I’ll save my diatribe on the illusion of video running times for another day). Looking at the video box covers is a clear metaphor for what is actually in the film versions.

Be it the '80s or modern day US censors prefer to delete violence. Now since the legendary American Morality Czar, the vile Jack Valenti has stepped down, we have had much less censorship in cinema, but it's still there. In the ‘80s above the waist nudity was acceptable and even copious in horror movies. Interestingly the US version deletes almost all of the nudity in the film and even goes to the extreme of having the two scenes of nudity that are left in panned and scanned to crop nudity out of the frame!

In the scene with the couple who are trapped in a car after the car is buried by an avalanche the girl is naked when they pull her out. Why is that? That’s because in the full scene the girl takes off her clothes while making out with the band member that includes a brief dialogue exchange. This is actually intercut with some dialogue that takes place between the sound guy and the cameraman in the house. That is deleted also. And amazingly when the girl is being pulled out the car, the US release pan and scans most of her bare ass out of the frame! During a scene where two topless girls are being groped and attacked with a squirt-bottle, the US version pan and scans so that the door takes up most of the frame and most of the nudity is cropped off screen.

There are actually several other scenes at various points in the film where the band members are making out and getting naked that are completely cut out along with any scenes that are intercut with the extended nude scene (if that makes sense).

The only bit of violence that is extended in the Japanese version is where the director “Bob” shoots the dwarf "Sonny" who is wielding nothing but a squeak toy. In the US version he shoots him once off-camera, cutting to a shot of the dwarf already slumped over dead, then another off-camera shot. In the Japanese version Bob shoots him on-camera, chambers another round and shoots him a total of five times while asking why they killed his friends, showing the bullet hits for each shot. The dwarf slumps over and the same off-camera shot is heard as in the US version. Clearly New Line felt the killing of a defenseless, mentally-retarded dwarf was considered to be too brutal for an R-rated American crowd!

Unfortunately no matter which version you watch there’s still a bunch of gore missing. Linda’s death (the girl tied to the wall with the counter-weights) is still a complete mystery. I’m guessing she was torn in half (the two counter-weights appeared to be attached by cables to her wrists, and there is a quick close-up of blood pouring down the middle of her face), but sadly it’s the same in both prints. The bit where the Police Chief (Mats Helge regular Frederick Offrein) shoots the one of the last brothers at the end still looks like it’s missing the coupe de grace. Plus there’s a moment where it looks like something happens to John right after one of the girls gets impaled with a pick-axe. He looks like he’s stunned by something painful and then limps through what’s left of his screen time. Whether that is censored or just an editing kerfuffle, I can’t say.

Interestingly the US version contains an extra shot of the girl who gets impaled on a section of rebar. Even though the initial shot of her impaling is shorter by a few frames, after cutting to a reaction shot of her attacker, the camera cuts back to a wide overhead shot of her bloody body, a shot that is missing from the Japanese. Also the severed arm gag in the US version is panned and scanned so you can see the bloody stump and the hand opening up, where as the Japanese version stays almost dead center cropping off the bloody stump, ruining the effect entirely.

The really bad news is that the Japanese tape looks like crap. Even after I adjusted the colors and contrast with my video processor it’s still just a muddy as hell transfer and the tape is old so it’s really grainy and has lots of drop-outs at the end, resulting in a lot of scenes where it’s difficult to see what’s going on.

The man, the myth, the legend,
back when making a cheap movie still took a helluva lot of effort.

If anyone has any other info on this or any of Mats Helge films, or hell, if you have his e-mail address, drop me a line and let me know.

Easy Action reformed last year and their website has a funny as hell band's-eye-view of making BLOOD TRACKS as written by one of the band memebers.

Thanks to the super-Swede, NinjaDixon, for uploading a super-rare clip of the uncut girl-split-in-two scene!

The "Never Got Made" File #1: THE BOARDING HOUSE (1982)

Robert Quarry, Reggie Nalder and Angus Scrimm? Filmdom...what a cruel mistress you are!

20 things to learn from ANTHROPOPHAGUS 2

It seems only appropriate for my first post here to reach wayyy back into the Video Junkie archives. Joe D'Amato's ANTHROPOPHAGUS 2 (a/k/a HORRIBLE; ROSSO SANGUE) is one of the first flicks I snagged back in the early 90s when I started diving into the bootleg market. How could I not? It was the "sequel" to the mighty ANTHROPOPHAGUS - a film whose posters haunted me as a child in Germany - and saw director D'Amato re-team with gut-munching lead monster George Eastman (a/k/a Luigi Montefiori).

While the end result, sadly, didn't reach the levels of first film, it is still a nice slice of Euro-horror sleaze. It is not truly a sequel, yet retains connections to the first film (the Greek origin; Nikos now being named Mikos). Riffing more off John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN & HALLOWEEN II, the follow-up has the titular beast popping up in a seemingly football-obsessed America and - in a plot twist that pre-dates [REC]2 by about, oh, 28 years - is being pursued by a Vatican-authorized priest (Edmund Purdom, surprisingly giving his all). Oh, did I mention the monster now has flesh regenerating powers now? That is about all the plot you get before hulking Eastman escapes a hospital and shows up at a house to harass a babysitter and her charges.

ANTHROPOPHAGUS 2 got a new lease on life last year as shady Mya Communication released the flick on DVD under its HORRIBLE moniker. Revisiting it brings back many memories and the DVD (a very nice transfer with some so-so inserts) is worth a look. So, without further ado, here are twenty things you can learn from ANTHROPOPHAGUS 2:

  1. Most Americans occasionally slip into an Irish accent for no apparent reason.
  2. In America, people dress up in suits and cocktail dresses for a Superbowl party.
  3. If you’ve just escaped from a Vatican-run laboratory in Greece, the best place to flee to would be America since you don’t need any ID to get into the country.
  4. When in danger from a psychotic killer, it’s best to send small children out alone into the night to get help.
  5. Even if you are a flesh-regenerating, cannibalistic, homicidal maniac, priests will totally freak you out!
  6. No medical condition is too severe to keep you down when you are being attacked by a psychotic killer.
  7. Apparently the Anthropophagus Beast needed bus fare while in Greece.
  8. Americans are never far away from multiple bottles of liquor, which they always drink neat.
  9. In America, you need to leave the real police work to the white cops.
  10. Not even a serial killer running around town is a good enough reason to drag the police higher-ups away from the big game!
  11. If you are in traction, you must lay there and do nothing except play with your compass. No music for you, even if there is a player in the room.
  12. Apparently Eastman holds a grudge against getting hit randomly by a car; wonder what the butcher and Michele Soavi did to piss him off?
  13. Italian, er, everyday USA butchers pack meat AND heat!
  14. Only George Eastman could make big white sneakers scarier than they already are.
  15. Parents will give up calling to see if their kids are okay if they see the lights go off at their house in the distance.
  16. Doctors feel guilty when they hit someone with their car but don't stop to help them.
  17. If big guys with gaping stomach wounds aren’t her type, what exactly does the nurse go for? Little guys who’ve never been scratched?
  18. Greek priests dress like Catholic priests
  19. If said priest is convincing enough in his story, you give him a car and gun and say, "Good luck!"
  20. That bum was totally not drunk. He was not drunk!


Welcome to the semi-resurrection of the old VidJunkie.Com in blog form. I've been hesitant to do this as, hell, who doesn't ramble idiotically about movies on a blog these days? Hipsters spreading misinformation and alleged "journalists" who have never seen the movies their talking about make me even more of a cranky old man. Damn hipster kids! Get the hell off my virtual bloodstained lawn!
Erm... what was I saying? Oh yeah, welcome. Welcome to those who remember the old stand-alone site that is now gone and those that don't.