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Archive for the ‘Monster’ Category

Kung Fu Rascals

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Hello, friends. This week I’m focusing on a pretty obscure topic: the films of Steve Wang. He’s a Taiwanese-American FX artist who worked on movies like PREDATOR, MONSTER SQUAD and GREMLINS 2, and in the ’90s he directed a few martial arts related b-movies. That makes him relevant to my interests. I remember Film Threat Magazine making a big deal about him back in the day, and writing about ’90s comic book movies inspired me to revisit his work. Yesterday we looked at GUYVER (1991), the manga-based monsterfest he co-directed with fellow makeup genius Screaming Mad George.

IMDb lists KUNG FU RASCALS as Wang’s second directorial work. According to this old interview, it was filmed right before GUYVER, mostly on weekends, over a period of about ten months, from fall of ’89 to the next summer. But post-production took place after GUYVER, thus the later video release as THE ADVENTURES OF THE KUNG FU RASCALS. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

Monday, April 8th, 2019

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is not the wacky SHARKNADO type bullshit that the title may bring to mind, but instead an odd, humble little character piece about aging, regret, loneliness and sacrifice. Its greatest strength is that it stars Sam Elliott (or as I call him, The Man Who Mentored Dalton and then Fought The Hulk). He plays Calvin Barr, who many decades ago gave up the love of his life (Caitlin FitzGerald, Rectify) for an important WWII tracking, infiltration and assassination mission that he could never tell anyone about, and in his old age has failed to either feel good about what he did or find another purpose for his life. Its second greatest strength is that it attempts the daredevil feat of telling us that outlandish alternate history tale, following it with his being recruited to save the world by finding and killing a sasquatch, and not treating any of it as something to laugh at.

Who does that? And who pulls it off? In this case it’s a first time feature writer/director named Robert D. Krzykowski.  (read the rest of this shit…)

The Brain

Monday, December 24th, 2018

A Very Tape Raider Christmas

THE BRAIN is a 1988 sci-fi horror movie that takes place around Christmas time. That’s not an important part of the plot, but there are Christmas decorations at the beginning, “Jingle Bells” plays (and then ominously slows down) on a car radio, a pot of poinsettias gets shot by police during a chase scene, I noticed a sign in the school for a dance or something with the theme “Cosmic Christmas,” and there’s some snow on the ground. Also the movie itself is kind of a Christmas gift to me because it’s pretty good and its weird vibe and gooey special effects warmed my heart like I imagine a yule log would if I had ever experienced a yule log in person.

First and most important order of business is to assure you that the title and cover art are not misleading. Though it was made during the height of slasher sequels and shows a strong A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET influence, it is indeed a movie about, as the hero calls it, “that brain monster thing that’s killing everyone.” And they show it right at the beginning – a big slimy pulsating brain with a tentacle/spine hanging out like a tail, hooked up to some machines in a lab at the Psychological Research Institute (PRI). I think it was wise to establish that we’re dealing with arguably a goofy ’50s drive-in movie throwback before the first big scare sequence and not after. Pull that Band-Aid right off. (read the rest of this shit…)

Monsters: “Glim-Glim” and “A New Woman”

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Do you remember the syndicated TV show Monsters that ran in the late ’80s? I don’t really either, but I do remember seeing commercials for it. It was a horror anthology series produced by Richard P. Rubinstein, the guy who co-founded Laurel Entertainment with George Romero and produced MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS, CREEPSHOW and DAY OF THE DEAD. They also produced Tales From the Darkside together, and this was Rubinstein’s followup series minus Romero. As you can probly guess, the episodes center around different monsters. The credits boast having the legendary Dick Smith as a makeup consultant.

The show didn’t have any kind of host or wraparound at all, but the introduction shows a family of monsters watching TV together.

“Oh great, it’s Monsters! Our favorite show!” one of them says.

By human standards it would be pretty weird to have not seen a show you liked better than Monsters, but I can appreciate that there are many cultural differences and things that the monster community might pick up on in these stories that go right over my head.

Anyway, there were two Christmas-themed episodes. Glim-Glim, the 13th episode of the first season, was directed by Peter Stein (director of photography for FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, C.H.U.D., PET SEMATARY and BRENDA STARR) and written by F. Paul Wilson (author of the novel that THE KEEP is based on). (read the rest of this shit…)

The Monster’s Christmas

Monday, December 17th, 2018

THE MONSTER’S CHRISTMAS is a holiday special that aired on New Zealand television in 1981. I’m going to be up front and admit that I don’t have a whole lot of insightful things to say about this one, but it’s so charmingly weird that I felt like I owed it to the world to write it up and share some screengrabs so more people can know it exists.

It opens with a slasher-style P.O.V. into a window, but otherwise it’s only scary in an accidental sort of way. An unnamed little girl (Lucy McGrath, whose only other credit is NEARLY NO CHRISTMAS, a 1983 special from the same director) reads a picture book to her teddy bear. It’s “The Monster’s Christmas by Burton Silver,” which is not a real book, but that is the name of the screenwriter.

Then she hears a clatter so she goes to the living room where the Christmas tree is and spots a big rubber blob monster guy. Smoke billows from a hole in his head. He has one wiggling antenna and one eye. Rings of weird Koosh-ball-like tendrils pulsate around the eye as tears or something drip out.

“Hey, you’re not Father Christmas!” the girl says.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Twilight (special bonus Patreon shit)

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

This is the first in a Patreon-only review series of THE TWILIGHT SAGA. For as little as $1 a month you can support an ol’ so-called outlaw in his writing endeavors, and as a thank you I got these exclusive reviews for you.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW!

This one was originally housed here on outlawvern.com but I had to move it to Patreon due to technical difficulties, and I didn’t want to delete all your comments so I left the post here. So what the hell, this time I’m gonna include an excerpt so you non-Patreons can get an idea of the approach I’m going for. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Meg

Monday, August 27th, 2018

When elite underwater rescue guy Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham, GHOSTS OF MARS) tries to save his friends from a damaged nuclear submarine, he makes a controversial decision to shut a door and leave behind some of the crew, saving eleven others from an explosion. His career and life are ruined by that hard choice. And also because he believes the sub was attacked by a monster and everybody thinks he’s nuts.

Years later he lives in Disgraced Hero Exile in Thailand, drinking all day in his Thai farmer hat, running a small fishing boat. It’s clear that he’s a sweetheart when some little kids wave at him on his motorcycle and he makes a funny face for them. I liked this little touch, though it kind of undercuts the later badass juxtaposition of his friendship with a little girl named Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai).

Of course he’s resistant at first when his old buddy Mac (Cliff Curtis, DEEP RISING, WHALE RIDER, THE POOL, RIVER QUEEN, THE FOUNTAIN… he does alot of water related movies, is my point) shows up to recruit him for another rescue. This time it’s people working for a high tech underwater lab who lost radio contact. And one of them is his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee, THE LOVED ONES). In a refreshing swerve from standard action movie protocol, he just likes and respects her, and is not trying to win her back. He does get to tell her “I told you so,” of course, when they all see that giant monster that they spent years telling him he didn’t really see. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Monday, August 6th, 2018

This is weird, there’s a JURASSIC PARK sequel that came out 2 1/2 months ago and I didn’t get around to seeing it until this weekend, when it’s down to two showings a day. I think I saw all the other ones opening day or weekend. But maybe it was a smart move on this one because it benefits from the lowered expectations of everyone telling me it was trash.

In JURASSIC WORLD, you remember, they reopened the dinosaur park and the dinosaurs reattacked the new park and there was a new guy named Owen Grady (Chris Pratt, WEINERS) who was real macho and always trying to show off the size of his forearms. And he trains raptors and has a contentious bickery love with an uptight lady who works at the park named Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard, TERMINATOR SALVATION).

In FALLEN KINGDOM, the dinos are still loose on abandoned Isla Nubar, where a volcano is about to erupt. Claire is now a dinosaur rights activist trying to convince the government to act to save these endangered dinosaurs. She’s contacted by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall, GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS), who runs the estate of John Hammond’s dying partner Lockwood (James Cromwell, SPECIES II; also played Howard’s father in SPIDER-MAN 3) and wants to fund the rescue mission. But he especially wants to find Blue, the most intelligent raptor, and knows that Owen is the only person who could track her. (read the rest of this shit…)

Godzilla (1998)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

“We got approached with GODZILLA, and Dean was really in favor. I said, ‘Are you crazy? Have you seen a Godzilla film? How does the monster look? They put a guy in there.'” –Roland Emmerich

May 20, 1998

Man, LOST IN SPACE was a terrible summer blockbuster, but I was kind of excited to take a look at it because I had skipped it at the time and there was 20 years of curiosity build-up. And there’s another one coming later in the summer that I despised at the time, but it ended up being influential and kickstarting an in-my-opinion-bad-but-oddly-fascinating filmography, so I’m looking forward to finding out how I’ll feel about it now.

GODZILLA has neither of those factors going for it. I thought it sucked then and it has not grown better or more interesting. Director Roland Emmerich (WHITE HOUSE DOWN) has gone on to make fairly successful (but widely mocked) FX movies, often in the disaster genre. The only significance to this one is that it deflated his premature ascension to blockbuster-A-list after the still-befuddling-to-me smash success of INDEPENDENCE DAY in 1996. TriStar Pictures managed to build up fevered anticipation with a series of teasers that kept the design of the monster a secret. I remember one used the scene where the fisherman runs down the dock as Godzilla’s spikes tear through it. The tagline “SIZE DOES MATTER” simultaneously promised thrilling spectacle and giggled “ha ha, you get it, because of penises.”

I was skeptical on account of my belief in the auteur theory. I was one of the rare wet blankets who hated ID4 (which stands for “Independence Day takes place partly on July 4th”) and as much as I wanted to see a cool modern Godzilla movie I didn’t think this guy had the skills to do it. On May 20th most of the world ended up agreeing with me. (read the rest of this shit…)

A Quiet Place

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

A QUIET PLACE is a really effective monster movie that goes a long way just on the strong execution of a simple, cool premise. 89 days ago as of the opening scene, civilization as we know it ended under the sharp teeth of some GREAT WALL-esque man-eating monsters. They’re blind, but they have great hearing and they run fast, so they’ll zip in and munch on anybody who makes any kind of noise. That could be some librarian’s bedtime story to keep the kids in line, but it feels a little more like THE ROAD or something.

We follow a family who have already developed methods to survive in this dangerous new reality. They live on an isolated farm, they speak in sign language. Their daughter (Millicent Simmonds, WONDERSTRUCK) is deaf, so she’s good at being silent, but of course she doesn’t necessarily hear if there’s a monster behind her or someone else is making a sound that’s gonna attract one. They’ve developed warning systems involving lights, torches that seem to communicate with other survivors (though we never see them) and various emergency backup plans. When they need to go into town to scavenge they walk barefoot on trails of sand (I wonder where they got all that from?) It shows just how serious this is, and how much work they have to put into it, and also it’s a cool visual. (read the rest of this shit…)