IT CAME FROM ASIAN CINEMA: HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD (1983)

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HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD (1983)

Chinese period fantasy has brother Yin Tien Chu (Max Mok Siu-Chung) and sister Tan Fung (Yeung Ching-Ching) separated as babies, when their parents are murdered by a pair of evil wizards (Leanne Lau Suet-Wa and Philip Kwok Chun-Fung). Tan Fung is raised by the two villains, while Yin Tien Chu is rescued and raised by good sorcerer Monster Yu (Jason Piao Pai). Eighteen years later, while initially on opposite sides, both siblings are destined to be reunited for revenge. Mix in some mystically powered swords and you have yourself a Shaw Brothers sword and sorcery epic!

Fun martial arts fantasy is energetically directed by Chun-Ku Lu from his script with Kwok-Yuen Cheung, based on a story by Sang Siu. It heavily evokes Tsui Hark’s Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, which came out the same year. It doesn’t quite seem to have that film’s budget, or level of SPFX, but does make up for it by being delightfully bonkers, fast paced and action packed. The film is also incredibly colorful with enough lavish costumes and sets to satisfy most fans of these movies. The fights are well orchestrated and the fantasy elements can be quite imaginative and creative, especially on what appears to be a modest budget. The visual and make-up FX can be cheesy, but are always charming. The mix of martial arts and sorcery is typical of these Shaw Brothers flicks and all the magic, king fu, treachery and romance, leads up to a climactic stunt and SPFX filled battle between siblings and sorcerers. Fun stuff!

The cast are all good here with Max Mok Siu-Chung and Yeung Ching-Ching doing a solid job as the separated twin siblings. There is also an array of colorful supporting characters, both good and bad, played just over-the-top enough to be entertaining. Leanne Lau Suet-Wa and Philip Kwok Chun-Fung are delightfully villainous as the evil sorcerers Chief Tsing Yin and You-ming Elder, while Jason Piao Pai is bombastic fun as good sorcerer Monster Yu. There is also actress Candy Wen Xue-Er as “Snake Boy” and Yung Jing-Jing as Yin Tien Chu’s beautiful love interest Chuan Erh.

Overall, this is a silly but very fun martial arts fantasy. It’s production is not quite up to the level of the similar Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, but it makes up for it with being delightfully goofy and full of heart. There is almost a constant flow of martial arts and magic, and it moves very quickly as brother and sister fulfill their destiny and avenge their parents, in true Shaw Brothers style. It is currently available to rent on Amazon Prime and the print is in absolutely gorgeous HD!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) martial arts swords.
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BARE BONES: THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1981)

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THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1981)

1981 Indonesian horror is the basis for the recent quasi remake of the same name that has gotten some online attention. It has a very simple plot. The story finds pretty Murni (Suzzanna) betrayed by her lover (Alan Nuary) over another woman and accused of practicing black magic. She is thrown off a cliff by the terrified villagers, but survives. She is rescued by shaman Gendon (W.D. Muchtar) and given the powers of black magic to exact revenge on those who betrayed and tried to murder her.

Original version is directed by Lilik Sudjio from a script by Subagio Samtono, and aside from a revenge seeking woman named Murni and some gory black magic practicing, there is little carried over to the 2019 Joko Anwar written flick. This film is a fun and very gory supernatural revenge flick with plenty of maggots, flying heads and levitations. There is even a dash of martial arts. The FX utilized range from simple but effective to delightfully cheesy. After what Murni was put through, we don’t exactly root against her, when she gruesomely kills those who tossed her off a cliff. Actress Suzzanna is very pretty and charming one minute and fierce the next. Her Murni is reluctant at first, but soon finds the anger to exact her vengeance. There is even an interesting twist during the climactic confrontation that will pit student against teacher. While it lacks the remake’s depth of background story, this version knows to give us a break now and then and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at only 89 minutes in length. Overall, this is an amusing and fun supernatural horror with both versions now available to stream on Shudder. Either version is worth a look.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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IT CAME FROM ASIAN CINEMA: KING KONG vs. GODZILLA (1962)

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KING KONG vs. GODZILLA (1962)

With Legendary’s rematch finally on the horizon for release, maybe it’s time to look back at Godzilla and Kong’s first cinematic slugfest. This review is of the original Japanese language version.

The story finds Godzilla breaking out of his icy prison after seven years and, once more, heading for Japan, after he makes a quick snack of a nuclear submarine. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company CEO Tako (Ichirō Arishima) is looking for something big to boost the ratings of the TV shows his company sponsors. Rumors of a large creature on a Pacific island may be just what he needs. The creature is a massive ape known as Kong and Tako plans to bring the beast to Japan. Obviously, Godzilla and an escaped Kong arrive on Japanese shores at the same time and are destined to cross paths and lock horns.

Flick is directed by Ishirō Honda from a script by Shinichi Sekizawa. The film is a lot lighter than the first two Godzilla films and goes for more comical situations than dramatic intensity…though it has that, too. Godzilla is clearly the bad guy here with Japanese authorities even provoking a second fight between the titans, after Godzilla’s heat ray cause Kong to retreat the first time around. The film is colorful, as were most of the 60s era Godzilla flicks and the FX from the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya range from some really elaborate model work to the sadly inadequate Kong costume, which looks like a Halloween ape suit. The arms laughably and drastically change length from shot to shot. Kong is the underdog here, with Godzilla portrayed as bigger and more powerful. Kong is given an added caveat of being able to absorb power from electricity to even up the odds. The battles are fun, though keeping in consistency with the rest of the flick, carry a lighter, more humorous tone. There is a lot of damage caused by both Kong and Godzilla when they are apart and utter destruction when they are in combat. The human drama is amusing enough to occupy us whenever our colossal critters are not on screen, which isn’t often and Kong gets to show he still has a way with the ladies. Legendary Toho composer Akira Ifukube provides another classic score. It’s a fun movie, though slightly disappointing for those expecting the more serious tone of both Godzilla and Kong’s original movies.

The cast are all good. Ichirō Arishima was known in his native land as the “Japanese Chaplin” and one can see why, as the actor delivers a fun performance of both exaggerated line delivery and physical comedy. Toho veteran Tadao Takashima and Yū Fujiki share hero duties as Osamu Sakurai and Kinsaburo Furueshare, the two PR men sent to retrieve Kong and then get involved with the carnage between the big ape and his opponent. Joining the two is Bond girl Mie Hama as Osamu’s sister Fumiko and Toho veteran Kenji Sahara as Kazuo Fujita, her boyfriend. Haruo Nakajima once again does a great job in the Godzilla suit, as does Shoichi Hirose give Kong a lot of character despite the sub-par gorilla suit. Ironically Nakajima would get to play Kong, too, in Toho’s only other Kong adventure, King Kong Escapes.

Despite being a sillier entry in Godzilla’s early filmography, Kong was said to be popular in Japan, so the film pairing of the two monsters was a big hit and remains one of the top grossing Toho Godzilla flicks. It’s a lot of fun and fast moving at 97 minutes long. The FX are standard for Toho sci-fi flicks of this era, save for the awful Kong costume, and there is a lot of destruction for the buck. For almost 60 years, a rumor has persisted that there are two versions of the film, with Godzilla winning in the Japanese version and Kong winning in the U.S. version. Despite Universal’s U.S. version being heavily edited, with some new footage of Western actors added in, the ending remains the same with both monsters tumbling into the sea. Kong surfaces, swimming off and Godzilla remains underwater, his fate uncertain until the next flick. Godzilla would re-emerge in 1964 for Mothra vs. Godzilla and Kong would fight his mechanical double for Toho in 1967’s King Kong Escapes also starring Mie Hama.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

3 rampaging Godzillas.

godzilla vs biollante rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SILENT SCREAM (1979)

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SILENT SCREAM (1979)

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1979 slasher flick finds pretty college student Scotty (The Boogens’ Rebecca Balding), renting a room in the house of the strange Mrs. Engels (Lily Munster herself, Yvonne DeCarlo) and her equally weird son Mason (Brad Rearden). She is there with three other students, Doris (Juli Andelman), Peter (John Widelock) and Jack (Steve Doubet). Soon her roommates start to be gruesomely murdered, one buy one and Scotty may be next. Is the mysterious person sequestered away in the Engels’ attic responsible…or is it someone else?

Flick is directed by Denny Harris with a script by Wallace E. Bennett, along with Ken and Jim Wheat. The film actually started filming a year before Halloween was released, but production woes and major rewrites and reshoots postponed it’s release until 1979. Coming out a year later, the film may have benefited from the success of Carpenter’s slasher hit and Silent Scream became a hit in it’s own right. The film follows a popular slasher plot-line whereas folks are staying in a spooky old house, with some strange owners and a hidden secret stalking the unsuspecting guests. The body count is rather small, as Friday the 13th was still a few months away and would soon make larger body counts part of the formula. The kills are bloody but simple and the pace is moderate, as with most slasher flicks of the early 80s. As per the traditional format, there are some fun, though not unexpected reveals in the last act and it does have some unsettling moments. It’s not very scary, but can be very atmospheric, especially with the old house setting and some effective villains in the Engels.

The cast range from good to simply adequate. Balding makes a solid heroine as Scotty and Steve Doubet makes for a satisfactory hero/love interest as Jack. Veteran Yvonne DeCarlo is creepy as Mrs. Engels, Brad Rearden is effective as her odd son Mason and the legendary Barbara Steele is also disturbing as Victoria, Engels’ demented daughter. Juli Andelman and John Widelock overact a bit as Doris and Peter, while Cameron Mitchell and Avery Schreiber are doing by-the-numbers work as a pair of cops investigating the deaths. Overall, the cast works well enough.

In conclusion, this is a decent enough slasher and one that benefits a lot now from nostalgia. It’s a fun watch and is a good example of the post Halloween, early 80s slashers in terms of body count, pacing and kills, before Friday the 13th came along and upped the ante. The cast work well enough, with Balding making a solid final girl and DeCarlo, Rearden and Steele making a spooky trio as the off-kilter Engels family. There are some amusing reveals and a couple of spooky and disturbing moments. A cult classic in most horror circles, and deservedly so, as a good example of the low budget slashers of this time period.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) carving knives.

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953)

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WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953)

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Classic 1950s science fiction flick is based on the equally classic novel by H.G. Wells. It has a meteorite crashing into the California mountains near a small rural town. Scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) is nearby and heads there to investigate. When he arrives, he meets pretty Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), who joins him and soon they discover that the meteorite is actually a spacecraft with a trio of hostile Martian war machines inside. With more of these craft landing all over the world, the military surround the Martians in hopes of stopping them. The Martian technology is too advanced and our most modern weapons…most modern for 1953, that is…are no match for the invaders. As the Martians begin a wave of global destruction, Forrester and Sylvia begin a desperate attempt to find some way to stop them, before the planet falls to this seemingly indestructible enemy.

Film is directed by Byron Haskin for legendary producer George Pal. The screenplay is by Barré Lyndon based on H.G.Wells’ 1898 novel. The film takes some liberties with Wells’ book, such as with the design of the Martians and their weaponry, but most by way of simply updating the story to the 1950s and moving it to the United States. The basic tale is still there. It’s the original Independence Day and is a far superior movie, aging much better over a longer period of time. The SPFX may seem antiquated by today’s CGI heavy standards, but the wire-work, models and visual FX were quite impressive for the time and still have impact even today. The sound effects and Leith Stevens’ epic score are also very effective and add atmosphere. The battle sequences are intense and Barry and Robinson make a very good hero and heroine and have nice on-screen chemistry. The film is filled with gung-ho military types and strong religious overtones, as was typical of films of this era. It is very strong dramatically, even a bit scary in some of the earlier sequences, and has some pretty devastating scenes of city destruction and the panic and terror of the citizens within. It is simply a great movie and tells a lot of story and accomplishes a lot in it’s economic 85 minutes without ever feeling overcrowded, or it’s main characters shortchanged.

Overall, this is simply a great flick that still resonates almost 70 years later. The SPFX were impressive at the time and are still powerful today, even if the techniques have become outdated and antiquated. The Martians and their war machines are made scary and the film is populated with some fun characters that are stereotypical of this era of science fiction films. The leads are endearing and well performed and the narration from Sir Cedric Hardwicke adds atmosphere and dramatic intensity. A classic movie that has aged far better than a lot of more contemporary films with similar premises. War of the Worlds is currently available on a wonderfully restored blu-ray special edition from the Criterion Collection.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 4 (out of 4) Martian war machines.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)

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SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)

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Slaughterhouse is a late 80s backwoods horror that has severe Texas Chainsaw Massacre envy. Flick finds the slaughterhouse of one Lester Bacon…that’s is his actual name here…falling on hard times and falling into disrepair. Lester (Don Barrett) blames his attorney (Lee Robinson) and former partner (Tom Sanford) for betraying him to get his land. Along with his dim-witted and deranged, mountain-man of a son, Buddy (Joe B. Barton), Lester plans to kill those seeking to buy him out to save the only way of life he knows. Bonkers Buddy is way ahead of him, as he gleefully murders anyone who trespasses on the property. As Lester and Buddy started carving their way to revenge, a group of teenagers, including the sheriff’s daughter (Sherry Bendorf), decide to pay the spooky old slaughterhouse a visit.

Flick is written and directed by Rick Roessler and is his only movie. He tries to recreate the off kilter tone of Tobe Hooper’s classic and give it that same undercurrent of dark humor, but it just comes off as goofy at times. The acting, from a cast of unknowns, is pretty poor, as is the dialogue and all of the teenagers here look like they are in their 30s. On the plus side, the run-down slaughterhouse location is effective and there is plenty of well executed gore, as Buddy and his Pa rack up quite a body count. There is no suspense or scares and Buddy and Lester are more comical than scary, with Barrett’s overacting as Lester and Barton’s dialogue basically being exaggerated pig noises. There is some entertainment value to all this, though for all the wrong reasons. Despite the film not being well received upon it’s limited release, it has garnered an affectionate cult following, in all the years since and has had a couple of respectable blu-ray releases in recent years.

Overall, this is not an outright classic by any means, but is now considered a cult classic by some. It is not a good movie, per say, but there is entertainment to be had in the gory kills, hilarious overacting, goofy dialogue and unintentionally silly situations. It definitely used Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a template, but Tobe Hooper has nothing to fear…and neither do we…as scares is one thing this silly flick doesn’t evoke. Worth a watch for 80s completists and can be fun with a few brews to accompany it. Currently streaming free on Tubi, if you want to give it a look and available on blu-ray from Arrow Video.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) chainsaws.

 

 

 

 

 

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IT CAME FROM ASIAN CINEMA: HUMAN LANTERNS (1982)

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HUMAN LANTERNS (REN PI DENG LONG) (1982)

While Shaw Brothers Studios was renown for it’s martial arts epics in the 70s and 80s, they made their share of horror flicks, too and here they mixed the two genres for this particular cult classic. Period piece has the arrogant and vain Lung Shu Ai (Tony Liu) in competition with his rival, another entrepreneur, Tan Fu (Kuan Tai Chen) for the upcoming Lantern Festival. He is so intent on winning, he turns to former enemy Chao Chun-Fang (Lieh Lo) to make him a lantern sure to win. Deranged and vengeful for being humiliated by Lung seven years earlier, a masked Chao begins to sadistically murder beautiful women to use their skin to make his ornate lanterns. Soon there is a trail of mutilated bodies that has the local village terrified and is leading, unknowingly, towards Lung’s wife (Ni Tien).

This martial arts horror has developed a cult following and a reputation over the almost forty years since it’s release. It is directed by Chung Sun from his script with Kuang Ni and is a bizarre midnight movie indeed, mixing slasher and swordplay. It has all the elements of a Shaw Brothers martial arts film, such as beautiful costumes, gorgeous settings and sumptuous cinematography, here by An-Sung Tsao. There are plenty of martial arts battles and sword fights, too, but it is also drenched in blood and body parts, as any traditional horror flick might be. Chung Sun has quite an eye for horror visuals, such as fog shrouded forests, a leaping, cackling, skull-masked villain and a fiend’s lair filled with, bones, body parts and bound damsels. There is plenty of blood and gore as the psychotic Chao Chun-Fang kidnaps beautiful ladies and torments and kills them, gruesomely taking their skin to complete his lanterns. The scenes are just long enough to be effective, and the gore effects are well done enough to work, but nothing overly shocking by today’s standards. The cast are all good and it is interesting that, aside from the female victims, there are no sympathetic characters or outright heroes to root for. Tony Liu’s Lung is simply a self-centered jerk, Kuan Tai Chen’s Tan isn’t much better and obviously, Chao Chun-Fang is a complete nut-job. Even the local police are easily fooled and befuddled. Still, there is a well tempered mix of bloody mayhem and martial arts pageantry that works far better than it should, even if, overall, the flick doesn’t quite live up to it’s reputation on a first time viewing. It’s ultimately not as disturbing or gross as expected, considering it’s notoriety for so many years, though it is still quite gruesome at times.

So, if you’re thirty-eight years late to the gory party, you may not quite understand what all the fuss is about. Back in 1982, the mix of gruesome horror and martial arts action may have taken audiences by surprise and well it should have. By today’s standards, it’s not quite as horrifying as it’s longstanding reputation would have one believe. It’s still entertaining and effective, as both gory, 80s horror movie and martial arts adventure, and even if it doesn’t quite have the “wow” factor expected, it is still a bloody fun midnight movie that has earned it’s niche as a cult classic on multiple continents. Flick is now streaming on Amazon Prime for those wanting to check it out.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) lanterns made out of ???

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: RAW DEAL (1986)

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RAW DEAL (1986)

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Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this 1986 crime drama as disgraced FBI agent turned small town sheriff Mark Kaminski. His former boss, FBI chief Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin), offers Kaminski a chance for a reprieve, by helping him get vengeance when his FBI agent son Blair (Steve Holt) is murdered in a mob hit. In an operation conducted outside the agency, Kaminski infiltrates the Chicago crime family of mob boss Luigi Patrovita (Sam Wanamaker) as ambitious hood Joseph P. Brenner. Soon Kaminski/Brenner is chipping away at the organization from the inside, while getting close to beautiful mob moll Monique (Kathryn Harrold). His job won’t be easy, as he needs to convince Patrovita’s enforcer Rocca (Paul Shenar) that he is legit and Rocca’s sadistic henchmen Keller (Robert Davi), is not only highly suspicious of the new family member, but jealous of his budding relationship with Monique.

Raw Deal is one of Schwarzenegger’s lesser films, opening between larger hits like Commando and Predator. The film is directed by John Irvin from a script and story by four different people, despite a very simple ‘undercover in the mob’ plot. Irvin’s style is very workman-like and that suits this less bombastic Schwarzenegger vehicle, which is more crime drama than action flick. Maybe that is why it was a bit of a box office disappointment when first released, as Arnie doesn’t really crank up the body count till the last act. There are some gun fights and fisticuffs along the way, with Arnold delivering his usual one-liners after kicking butt. It is true to the 80s film style, even if toned down a bit, with Arnold effortlessly dodging bullets, yet mowing down his adversaries, until we need a bullet strike or two, so it doesn’t look too easy for the Austrian Oak. The action is well staged and the trio of Davi, Wanamaker and Shenar make suitable enough bad guys to Arnold’s noble hero, with Kathryn Harrold being very sexy and likable as the mob moll caught in the middle. If you think about the proceedings, though, as this isn’t an official FBI undercover assignment, Kaminski is actually being used as a straight-up assassin, by the vengeful Shannon. All the more amusing, that the film ties everything up in a neat bow by it’s conclusion when Kaminiski was basically carrying out vigilante justice and probably should have been arrested along with his former boss. But, hey…this was the 80s, however, and the action films then were far less concerned with reality, Miranda Rights, or legal consequences, when their heroes took out the bad guys. Either way, it is entertaining, but a very routine film for an action star at the top of his game and known for his more over-the-the top action flicks. 

Overall, the film underperformed in 1986, most likely because it was a dialed down flick when people expected more bang for the buck from it’s star. Arnold’s acting wasn’t quite honed enough to go the Goodfella’s route quite yet and it takes to the last act for him to really bring out the big guns…and even that is subdued compared to Commando’s one man army finale. It’s still an entertaining enough movie, just more of a routine action/crime thriller for Schwarzenegger, who rebounded at the box office the following year with the action classic Predator.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) bullets.

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BAD MOON (1996)

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BAD MOON (1996)

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1996 Werewolf flick is a sadly overlooked movie when folks talk about this particular horror sub-genre. It opens effectively in the jungles of Nepal where photo journalist Ted Harrison (Michael Paré) and his lover (Johanna Lebovitz) are attacked by a vicious bipedal wolf creature. Ted is bitten but survives and moves back to Seattle to be close to his single mom sister Janet (Mariel Hemingway) and her son Brett (Mason Gamble). This proves a mistake, as Ted now transforms into a wolf-like creature at night and the only thing standing between the lycanthrope and his sister and nephew is the loyal family german shepherd, Thor (Primo).

Film is written and very well directed by Eric Red (writer of Near Dark) from the book Thor by Wayne Smith. Bad Moon is a very tense and effective thriller that sets up an interesting situation as dog Thor is the only member of the family to first know Ted is a werewolf, but is mistakingly blamed by authorities for his actions. While there are victims of Ted’s wrath/hunger, such as an obnoxious con-man (Hrothgar Mathews) that hassled Janet earlier, the film focuses on the growing tension and suspicions between Ted, Janet, Brett and, of course, Thor. The werewolf attacks are surprisingly vicious and Bad Moon has some very effective and abundant gore. Not only are Ted’s attacks quite gruesome, as is the vicious opening sequence, but his climactic battle with Thor is quite bloody…and that is no spoiler, as the whole film is setting up this fur-flying confrontation. The only drawback with the make-up FX is Ted’s fanged alter ego is shown quite a bit and in full view and the suit is somewhat rubbery. Also, it is obviously a stuffed and fake stand-in for Thor during some of the battle moments. It takes away a bit from the illusion of reality, but not enough to hurt this intense and effective chiller all that much. It’s got a brisk pace, at a trim 80 minutes, and by opening the film with a bloody attack right off the bat, it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. The characters are likable, including Ted at first and this helps the audience to care about them and thus the proceedings. Shame this flick never caught on in it’s initial release.

The small cast are very good and help make this more intimately staged werewolf flick work all the more better. Michael Paré is effective as Ted in that he is both tragic and a bit villainous. He is both aware of his transformation and tries to protect others against it, while not above letting Thor take the blame for his killings. Paré shows he had star potential. Mariel Hemingway is good as Janet. A lawyer by profession, she’s tough and smart and very protective of her son, even if it means seeing their loyal…and wrongfully accused…dog separated from her family. Young Mason Gamble is very effective, with his Brett being a bit of a tough kid and not one to scare easily. He has good chemistry with movie mom Hemingway and an interesting dynamic with his uncle, as he begins to suspect something is up with Paré’s Ted. As for Thor, four legged actor Primo does a wonderful job creating a character with barks instead of dialogue. The animal is very expressive and is a strong hero, playing basically the character no one believes when evil is afoot. Makes this film work and work well.

Overall, this film sadly underperformed in 1996 when released and it is a shame. It’s not perfect, but is a tense and gory little movie with a solid cast, especially it’s canine star. The film adds an interesting dynamic by giving it’s werewolf a four legged thorn in it’s side and adds an interesting element as the family dog takes the fall for werewolf activity. It builds to a violent and effective confrontation and doesn’t spare the the blood spurting and savaged limbs, despite a family element to it’s story. Not a great movie, but one that should be included when talking about the werewolf sub-genre in general. If you haven’t seen it, Bad Moon is streaming free on Tubi and available from the great folks at Scream Factory on blu-ray.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) full moons.

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE PREY (1983)

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THE PREY (1983)

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Routine slasher finds a group of young people camping deep in the Rocky Mountains. Of course there is a deranged maniac roaming the woods, a disfigured survivor from a forest fire three decades earlier. Soon the campers are being picked off one by one, murdered in horrible ways. Will any of them survive?

Film is directed by adult film director Edwin Scott Brown, from a script he wrote along with his wife, Summer Brown. It’s directed fairly by-the-numbers, moderately paced and offers nothing new to the genre. The film follows the slasher formula very closely with a tragic backstory for our killer and plenty of attractive young victims for him to kill. There is some decent gore, the traditional nudity and sexual hi-jinx, and the Colorado locations do look very nice. There is little suspense, but at only 80 minutes long it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The killer is kept mostly off camera, but the burn make-up does it’s job in the few shots we get when finally revealed. It all leads up to a climax that actually is a bit disturbing and an effective end to a fairly forgettable slasher.

The good looking cast are adequate for this kind of slasher. Debbie Thureson makes a sweet heroine and the imposing killer is played by none other than seven foot tall TV and movie veteran Carel Struycken, who is most famous for playing Lurch in the 90s Addams Family movies. Ironically, Jackie Coogan, who played Uncle Fester in the original 60s Addams Family TV series, also stars in this, his final film role, as a forest ranger. The rest all play killer fodder and do so adequately enough.

Overall, this is not an impressive slasher, though isn’t a terrible one either. It’s slow paced, but does deliver the formula, murder, mayhem and ample amounts of nubile skin. The killer is effective enough for this kind of flick and the locations are filmed quite nicely by former porn cinematographer João Fernandes and Gary Gero. Worth a look for 80s completists. Currently streaming free on Tubi!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) axes.

 

 

 

 

 

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