BARE BONES: DRAGON WARS: D-WAR (2007)

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DRAGON WARS: D-WAR (2007)

Korean monster movie finds a young woman named Sara (Amanda Brooks) being the reincarnation of the Yuh Yi Joo, a being able to give great power to a chosen one amongst dragons, here called imoogis. An evil imoogi named Buraki comes to Los Angeles to track her down and steal that power, and brings a formidable army of monsters with him. With the city under siege, chosen protector Ethan (Jason Behr) must also find Sara to keep the Yuh Yi Joo from falling into Buraki’s hands.

Dragon Wars: D-War is a lot of fun as long as you’re willing to put up with a lot of nonsense to have that fun. Flick is directed by Shim Hyung-rae from his own silly script. The plot is goofy, as is the dialog, and the acting is fairly wooden. This Korean fantasy makes up for all the campiness, though, with some top notch SPFX and spectacular battle sequences, including a climactic battle to the death between good and evil imoogis. The siege on L.A. by an army of monsters is alone worth the price of a rental on Amazon Prime, at least for kaiju fans. If you like monster movies and don’t mind the campy silliness that can come with some of them, then this should be an entertaining evening on the couch. Some of your favorite brews might help. Also stars familiar faces Chris Mulkey, Elizabeth Peña, Craig Robinson, former Jason Voorhees Derek Mears as a bounty hunter and the legendary Robert Forster as Ethan’s mentor. Supposedly there is a prequel from Shim Hyung-rae in the planning all these years later.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW (2020)

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THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW (2020)

Offbeat horror finds Officer John Marshall (Jim Cummings) already dangerously close to going over the edge, when a series of brutal murders lays siege to the sleepy mountain town of Snow Hollow. His sheriff father (Robert Forster) is too old and frail to handle the case and so it all falls in his lap. He feels it is a serial killer, while his barely competent staff thinks it’s a wolf…or a werewolf. As the killings continue and Marshall gets closer and closer to finding the culprit, the more it starts to appear like there is a werewolf responsible. 

Film is written and directed by star Jim Cummings with a very offbeat and quirky sense of humor. This underlying humor takes a while to get used to and the film is just as much about John’s life falling apart, as it is about the quite gruesome murders occurring in this usually dull town. The flick can be quite bloody at times and does have a surprise or two up it’s sleeve regarding it’s killer. The gore is well rendered and the werewolf in question is effective and well designed. The snowy Kamas, Utah locations work very well and are a refreshing change of pace from the usual locals used for this kind of flick. The mix of humor and the more serious elements doesn’t always gel, and sometimes the film does seem more concerned with Officer Marshall’s emotional state than the pursuit of it’s lycanthropic killer. At least it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at a brisk 83 minutes. Overall, it’s something a little different, if you are in the mood for a movie more off the beaten path horror-wise. Also stars Riki Lindhome as Officer Julia Robson and Chloe East as Marshall’s daughter Jenna, with whom he has a troubled relationship. The film is legendary actor Robert Forster’s final role.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS! and KNOCK KNOCK

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ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS! (2015)

Great documentary about schlockmeister Cannon Films that churned out so many delightfully bad…and very entertaining B-movies during the 80s. Mark Hartley’s documentary is told through the eyes of a number of talents who worked for Cannon during their existence from both behind and in front of the camera. We get a real good look at the inside of the studio founded by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and how they dreamed of taking America by storm. We hear from actors like Bo Derek, Molly Ringwald, Robert Forster and Cannon regulars Lucinda Dickey and Michael Dudikoff, who all have entertaining stories to tell about starring in some of the studios most infamous productions. We also hear what it was like to make films for them by the likes of Tobe Hooper, Sam Firstenberg and Franco Zeffirelli. We get a story of two men whose dream to be a major studio was derailed by churning out some of the shlocky-est productions during a decade renown for it’s excesses. They made a major action star out of Chuck Norris and reignited Charles Bronson’s career…although not completely in a good way. Documentary is almost as fun as some of the ‘so bad it’s good’ movies they produced under Golan and Globus between 1979 and 1985.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

 

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KNOCK KNOCK (2015)

Eli Roth’s flick is a reworking of a 1977 film called Death Game where two women (Sandra Locke and Collen Camp who are given producers credits here) terrorize a man (Seymour Cassel) over a two day period. In this update, we have architect and family man Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) who is left home alone on Father’s Day weekend to finish some work while his wife and kids hit the beach. During a rainstorm, two beautiful young women (Ana de Armas and Lorenza Izzo) show up soaking wet at his door, claiming to be lost and wind up seducing Evan into a threesome. The following morning Evan finds his guests still there and acting quite out of control. He manages to evict them, but they return that night to take Evan hostage and begin to torment him as punishment for what he did to them, claiming they are only fifteen years-old. Viewing him as a pedophile, the psychotic women claim he must die at dawn unless he plays their twisted games.

Despite a familiar premise that could have been fun, this flick is just dull and silly as these two loonies torment Reeves’ unfaithful family man for over forty minutes. It’s not only never gripping, but really just amounts to a fairly bloodless and uninventive torture show as the two women claim that Webber needs to pay for taking advantage of underage girls like themselves. While the two actresses do have a good time going all over-the-top, neither is remotely believable for a minute at being that young, or is given any real meaty material to work with. As for Reeves, he seems very miscast here and does not seem comfortable at all with the material…and it goes beyond the character’s discomfort with being a married man in the company of two horny vixens turned psychopaths. Even had Reeves been less wooden, the film offers nothing new and doesn’t even make inventive use of the familiar tropes of this type of Fatal Attraction flick. Roth does clarify his ladies intentions in the DVD extras, but one shouldn’t need supplemental material to make things clearer. Dull and only worth watching for the generous nudity from Armas and Izzo (Mrs. Eli Roth) who are clearly having a fun time with their parts. Wish Reeves would have had more fun with his part and Roth stopped recycling his influences and gave us something more original.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: ROBIN RIKER as Dr. MARISA KENDALL in ALLIGATOR!

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Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention but, sadly, never returned to these type of flicks or whose sexy stars shined only briefly, not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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ROBIN RIKER as Dr. MARISA KENDALL in ALLIGATOR (1980)!

In the early 80s, nature-run-amok flicks inspired by the success of Jaws were still popular and Alligator was one of the more fun entries in this sub-genre. It featured a 36 foot carnivorous reptile stalking the sewers of Chicago while being hunted by a street smart cop (Robert Forster) and sexy and feisty Herpetologist Dr. Marisa Kendall, played by crush-worthy Robin Riker. She was everything a film nerd could want in a heroine, she was hot, sweet, looked as good in tomboy garb as dolled-up and liked to play with lizards and snakes all day! No wonder hard nosed cop David Madison fell for this sweetie of a scientist!…we sure did!
Sexy New York City native Robin Riker has had a very prolific career on television from 1984 till today, but also did a few movies in between projects. Alligator was the actress’ only foray into straightforward horror flicks, unless you count her appearances in the “Witch” episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in 1997 and the Disney Halloween themed TV movie Don’t Look Under The Bed in 1999. She certainly made an impression in her one big screen horror role and definitely captured our hearts as she tried to capture the monster gator.

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(click on the poster for a full review)

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While Robin Riker may have left the horror genre behind, for the most part, after Alligator , she certainly left an impression. The actress continues to work, even today and it is her role in this big screen cult classic flick and the captivating cutie she plays in it, that earns her the title of Cult Classic Cutie!

Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ALLIGATOR (1980)

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ALLIGATOR (1980)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

What happens when you combine a baby alligator flushed down the toilet and the corpses of dogs who have been experimented on with growth hormones and dumped into the sewers?…a 1980 horror flick/Jaws rip-off called Alligator. This fun monster on the loose flick takes place in Chicago with exactly that premise as Detective David Madison (the underrated Robert Forster) is trying to solve the mystery of body parts showing up at the sewer treatment plant and soon comes to discover…through the gruesome loss of a rookie partner…that there is a massive reptilian predator stalking the sewers of the windy city. Now with pretty herpetologist Marisa Kendall (a smoking hot Robin Riker) in tow, Madison must hunt the massive beast and expose the Slade Corporation whose illegal experiments have inadvertently created a monster…with an accelerated metabolism and appetite!

Directed by Lewis Teague (Cujo) and written with loads of wit by John Sayles (Piranha, The Howling) and Frank Ray Perilli, Alligator has just the right mix of seriousness and sly humor to tell it’s tale of a 36 foot predator in the sewers of one of America’s most famous cities. On the outset, the film is all business, but there are a lot of unobtrusive playful moments to let us know it’s all in fun…like the local merchants taking full advantage of the news frenzy of a gator on the loose in their city, or, Great White Hunter Col. Brock’s (a perfectly cast Henry Silva) choice of ‘guides’ to accompany him on his hunt through the city back streets. Very politically incorrect, but very funny. The film is unapologetically R-rated and we get some nice gore and carnage as our reptilian eating machine eludes capture, but not his dinner, and the creature itself is portrayed by a real gator on miniature sets or a fairly convincing mechanical mock-up. Teague creates some fun sequences, some solid and bloody action and some genuine suspense despite the goofy premise. He mixes the subtle humor and drama perfectly, while never overdosing on either. He also gets good work from his cast whose serious approach to the material helps us go along with the preposterousness of it all.

And while on the subject of that cast…the always strong Robert Forester gives us an every-man hero to identify with. He’s very likable and believable as a street-smart cop with some inner turmoil of his own, that adds depth to the character. And Forester gives it his all despite being basically in a giant alligator movie. Pretty Robin Riker is also solid as the pretty reptile geek Dr. Kendall and she is sexy and smart without ever becoming a helpless damsel. She and Forester have good on-screen chemistry and I loved the added irony that it is her alligator ‘Ramon’ flushed down the toilet 12 years earlier that she and Madison are now hunting. She’s never aware of this fact, but we are and it adds something to her character and the film overall. Henry Silva is hilarious as the arrogant big game hunter called in to track down and destroy the big guy and his eccentric Col. Brock is a hoot. Rounding out is Michael V. Gazzo, who is slightly over-the-top as Madison’s commanding officer and Dean Jagger who is perfectly arrogant and slimy as Slade, whose company has inadvertently created a monster. A solid cast that helps make this flick work.

I like this film. It’s another of the flicks scene at my beloved Oritani Theater and it is a fun monster movie made at a time where monsters where portrayed with charming in-camera prosthetics. John Sayles gives us another witty script that perfectly balances the fun with the more serious nature of this horror tale. The film never makes a joke out of it’s story, as guided by Teague, but never takes itself too seriously either, so we don’t forget to have a good time. It’s got a good cast and a reptilian predator who we almost root for. A really fun flick that has far more charm than the CGI overloaded SYFY beast run amok movies today’s audiences seem to think are so clever.

3 alligators.

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