Monday, August 29, 2016

"Masked Avengers" (1981) d/ Chang Cheh

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Good Chinese gung fu movies are like my favorite pint of genre takeaway with an ample portion of steamed white rice as a complement,when that certain mood strikes me. If you're a fan of director Chang Cheh's earlier work, like 1978's The Five Venoms, for instance (and who isn't), and you're seeking out a similarly righteous masked gung fu mystery vibe, then look no further than tonight's review, his 1981 effort, starring many of the "Venom Mob", a splashy, acrobatic, arterial spurting, guts-hanging-off-a-trident good time that plays as darkly as any of his films of that era, i.e. House of Traps,  Five Element Ninjas, etc...

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Kuo Chui;always excellent drama, acrobatics, and gung fu from the Lizard.
It would seem that a rogue crew of evil bastards has been up to no martial good of late, running poor sons o' bitches through on their trademark long tridents, and overseen by three gang chiefs, all who wield a golden trident, and wear a color-coordinated bearded mask that differs from the standard issue horned demon that the boys sure like to sport, while they're pursuing questionable activities as regular pastimes, such as kidnapping young men and trapping them inside elaborate mechanical Buddha statues before spearing them over and over again with their tridents, and catching the spurting blood inside bowls of water, drinking the mixture triumphantly while  gloating over all the cash they amass by carrying out said splashily graphic, overly dramatic executions. Of course, there's Chi San Yuen (Chiang Sheng), nd various members of the prolific Long Clan, who've taken it upon themselves to investigate these killings and expose the mysterious gang for the unscrupulous criminals that they are...starting with the identity of the crew's leader or leaders, whomever that might turn out to be.

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"You can't have any silver taels until you've finished drinking your blood-water, fellas..."
Heading the list of potential villains is the rich local fellow Lin Yun Chi (Lu Feng), who seems sincere enough in helping out the Longs in realizing their goals, despite various associates suddenly developing a propensity for being sneakily eighty-sixed by the very gang they currently hunt. There's also Fang Zugang (Wong Li), an equally affluent local chap, whose henchman all seem to parade around in red and black outfits, much like the gang in question. A mostly silent cook named Gao(Kuo Chui) also displays the martial prowess necessary to qualify as a potential chief baddie, but Chi's mate Zeng Jun (Chin Siu Ho) seems to have developed a rapport with the mysterious man, and trusts in him despite his excellence with a gold chief-colored trident, and his coincidental possession of a matching bearded chief mask, just like the real ones wear. Hmmm. Expect an acid, knives, and arrows booby trapped lair full of high-flying gung fu and treachery in the final reel, just the way you like it...

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Movement number thirteen, narcolepsy in the red paint.
No Sun Chien or Lo Mang here, but even without those two heavy hitters, Avengers scores high marks all around for fight choreography, which was provided partially by Kuo Chui, Chiang Sheng, and Lu Feng, paint-splattery death en masse, lots of side-flipping martial turncoatery and plot twists, and some of the most exhilarating individual gung fu performances out of it's cast of main characters, all of which had been known for such dizzying skills before the release of Avengers in 1981, having solidified that reputation here a thousand-fold. A perfect score of four Wops is what I'll bestow upon this one, as it stands as a fine example of Asian fantasy and action of the period, and arguably, one of the finest ever. If this sort of thing is your bag, you'll want to hunt down a nice print of this to screen for yourselves, and it just so happens that there's a good one available on Netflix currently available, so what are you waiting for?

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Four out of five martial experts recommend Venom antics for genre cinema fans who dig such antics.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

"12 Days of Terror" (2004) d/ Jack Sholder

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Sorry about the delay between reviews, I'm finally outta the hospital and back at the front lines of fear, once again. As we take the last few drags on a summer cigarette here at the Wop, let's look at a made-for-television movie documenting the historic New Jersey shark attacks of 1916 that would eventually inspire Benchley, Spielberg and company to change the game forever with the horrific (PG-rated, which is still unbelievable to me) Jaws sixty years later. In the directorial chair was Jack Sholder, who you'll remember from genre efforts like 1982's Alone in the Dark, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), and The Hidden (1987), while script duties were shared by none other than Tommy Lee Wallace of Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) and television miniseries It (1990) fame. In front of the camera, you've got soap opera heartthrob Colin Egglesfield and Gimli himself, John Rhys-Davies, who only agreed to appear if Animal Planet (where tonight's review was first broadcast) gave his beard it's own reality series. Just kidding about that last part...

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"You're such a blatherskite. I don't pay any mind to your balderdash or your poppycock."
From July 1st to the 12th of that particular month in the year of nineteen and sixteen, long before it would be overtaken by ab-obsessed guidos and meathead paisan chicks that make the shallows look like the Mariana Trench, the shores off of the state of New Jersey were terrorized by unseen cartilaginous terror from the murky ocean depths. Alex (Colin Egglesfield) is a lifeguard plagued with good looks, a complex love triangle with his best chum (Mark Dexter) and his current bride-to-be, Alice (Jenna Harrison), who he may or may not have shared some fluids of the non-sarsparilla variety with, and the current climate of beach bathers leaving the surf with large tell-tale bites taken out of them he also shares with his fellow Garden Staters. Shark? Who's ever even heard of those in this era of the Black Tom explosion of '16, in Jersey City, no less? Those damned Germans!

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"Since you won't be wearing those swell new calfskin loafers again, you can always hand 'em over to this fellow."
Naturally, the first attack falls upon ignorant ears in town, and even the second one merits only the most minor of precautions in the form of a flimsy off shore fence that wouldn't keep Kevin Smith out of a box of Devil Dogs. Then there's the grizzled Captain (John Rhys-Davies) who's reluctant to sign on and fish the horrible beasty out of the drink so folks can try that new beach bathing lotion on, in their full form bathing suits, usually striped. He later notices it swimming upstream into a Matawan creek towards your obligatory oblivious boys in the water, splashing about in their youthful quest for aquatic horseplay, but no one puts too much faith in the word of a drunk. The lifeguard meets the same resistance, taking it personally when the shark bites off a sizable portion of his best mate, killing the poor chap. Still, the authorities refuse to close the beaches. You can figure out where this one is gonna end up if you've read the book of the same name, or seen Jaws (1975).

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"Northern Fur Seal or human gastrocnemius muscle? I'm terribly confused, indeed..."
The producers of the film would have you believe that a Great White was the culprit in these historic attacks, but the laziest of research will inform the reader that at least one of these must have been perpetrated by it's smaller, more aggressive, more adaptable cousin, the Bull shark. Hell, they even murder in fresh water if the fancy arises. All in all, the effects weren't half bad for a tv movie, especially a made-for-AnimalPlanet movie.There's nothing particularly memorable here, though, for genre fans, and with chicks wearing era accurate bathing suits, there isn't much in the way of cheap thrills to be had, either. It may have taken me two sittings to watch all the way through, but the anesthetic and pain meds I had flooding my system all week have left me slightly cloudy on that detail. Still gotta be better than Sharknado (2013) or Three-Headed Shark Attack (2015), obviously a sequel to Two-headed Shark Attack (2012). What the fuck happened...What in the actual fuck, as today's snot-nosed punks have been heard saying. Two Wops.

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"I fancy sunbathing with knock-kneed women.", says Not-Clint (John Rhys-Davies).
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Monday, August 15, 2016

"The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1994) d/ Kim Henkel

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In 1994, Kim Henkel, who co-wrote the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) with director Tobe Hooper, would write and direct the fourth movie focusing on the cannibalistic family of unemployed cattle slaughterers, and specifically, everyone's favorite hulking, chainsaw-wielding lunatic, Leatherface himself. The sequel in question, basically an imprecise remake, made the festival scene before being shelved for three years, until its two young leads, Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger rose from obscurity with roles in A Time to a Kill (1996) and Jerry Maguire (1996), respectively; after which the film was re-cut, re-titled, and re-released as Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997) to precious little fanfare. I'm not about to sing its praises here tonight, either, but read on, anyway...

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Don't squeeze the trigger, Renee (unless you want to, and really, you'd be doing us all a favor...).
We follow the post-prom exploits of four Texas teens, including the pot smoking wallflower, Jenny (Renee Zellweger) and her faux airhead pal Heather (Lisa Marie Newmyer), who blow the negative vibes of the formal clambake in favor of dark, winding, dirt roads only to be targeted by the latest bellicose brood of  the infamous Slaughter family (weren't they the Sawyers? Mehhh.). There's Leatherface (Terry Jacks), who's taken to wearing full drag, and the wrecker-driving, point and shout-happy Vilmer (Matthew McConaughey), who's got a robotic leg brace that's controlled by television remotes, and Walter (Joe Stevens), who drops an endless array of quotes from famous people (and little else). There's also the execrable insurance agent Darla (Tonie Perensky), who flashes her augmented breasts at passing cars when she isn't contentedly enjoying her mutually abusive relationship with the aforementioned shouting tow truck driver she calls her boyfriend. When the teens' car slams into an oncoming car in the night, leaving its driver unconscious and in need of medical assistance, the couples split up to find help. What they find, instead, anybody can see coming from a mile away...

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Leatherface (Terry Jacks) or Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri, you be the judge.
It isn't long (or perhaps it's entirely too long, who can tell at this point?) before Vilmer is exaggeratedly driving over one prom date in his tow truck and snapping the neck of the unconscious crash victim, while Leatherface is clobbering the stuffing out of the other male prom goer with a familiar mallet, stuffing a screaming Heather in a cooler before ploinking her down on a nearby meat hook. Jenny is taken captive by the family, forced to look with horror upon a taxidermized family at the dinner table, while Darla comically dislocates her beau's bum kneecap with the press of buttons on a tv clicker. Vilmer points and shouts a lot, slashes himself repeatedly with a straight razor, and is dispatched by the propeller of a low flying Illuminati airplane. Did I mention the Illuminati? Yeah, a fellow in a suit named Rothman shows up at the dinner party, disappointed by the family's inability to breed terror in its victims (sort of like this whole movie), and he ultimately drives Jenny to safety in his stretch limo while drag Leatherface does the spinning, whirling "She got away!" chainsaw dance on the highway. Sound familiar?

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"Relax, Miss Jones, we'll locate your diary for you, alright.", exclaims Cop (John Dugan).
On a positive note, the film features three blink-and-you'll-miss-'em cameos from the original cast, John Dugan (Grandpa), Paul Partain (Franklin), and Marilyn Burns (Sally), though she's billed as ANONYMOUS in the credits, and "Queen" Debra Marshall, Stone Cold Steve Austin's ex-wife, also makes an appearance in there. This would be Henkel's only directorial credit, though he's got at least fifteen as a writer, most of which are Chainsaw Massacre-related, apart from The Unseen (1980) and Tobe Hooper's own Eaten Alive (1976). Amazingly, there's very little blood letting in either cut of this effort, sparse deaths, and zero scares. If it classified as your least favorite TCM sequel, or the least fun to watch, nobody could consciously blame you for it. It'd be nine years until they'd reboot the series with a remake of the original, which I also didn't care for, as if you couldn't have guessed. Single Wop city here.

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...and Ann Nonymous as Sally Hardesty.
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

"The Human Centipede 3 (The Final Sequence)" (2015) d/ Tom Six

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Just when you thought it was safe to go ass to mouth again, depraved Dutch director Tom Six returns with the final installment of his twisted trilogy, boasting of a five hundred person long centipede while uniting the two leading men from the prior episodes, Dieter Laser and Laurence Harvey, and enlisting the talents of former butterscotch porn sweetie/Sheen-slave, Bree Olson, and Julia Roberts' bass mouthed brother, Eric, for good/bad measure, depending on your feelings about the first two films. The way I see it, the first effort was clever cult material, with most of the gruesome gore implied. The second offered up overly sloppy splatter at barf bag levels to quell the hunger of the vocal hardcore horror hounds who were unsatisfied by the pioneer film. So what would Six serve up for the most foul finale? I had to see for myself. As I recall, it went like this...

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"Heyyyyy, this ain't 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' like they promised us!!!"
Warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) runs one fucked up state prison, in conjunction with his portly accountant Dwight (Laurence Harvey), who suggests his chief executive screen both Human Centipede movies while his assistant, Daisy (Bree Olsen) rubs his feet. Boss shits on the shitty films as pure shit, while Daisy enjoys them, earning herself a wet finger in the coochie for her opinion, which Boss suggests she keep to herself in future. Meanwhile,  one of the correctional officers has been stabbed by a disgruntled black inmate who, in turn, gets his arm compound fractured and crushed under Boss' foot. At this point, the warden receives a special package in his office, which contains dried African clitorises which Boss eats for strength(!) when he's not disfiguring inmates with boiling water torture. The governor (Eric Roberts) arrives on the scene and immediately demands that Boss and company cease and desist from all the brutal violence, or the pair will be seeking employment elsewhere. Boss then castrates another inmate with a heated knife blade, spreading blood from the open wound all over his own face, and demanding the testicles be prepared for his lunch. You know, as energy food. Right? Meanwhile, Daisy gives an under-the-desk skulljob to her boss, after which, she inadvertently chows down on one of the clitorises, mistaking it for candy to mask the bad taste in her mouth.

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"Some mood music, baby? Perhaps Lady Guh-guh-guh-guh-guh..."
Finally, Dwight pitches his idea to his employer: turning all inmates into a massive human prison centipede, sewing them together, ass to mouth to ass to mouth know the routine by now. Boss balks at the idea until he's haunted by a nightmare where one inmate shanks a large hole in his lower back and death rapes one of his kidneys as the rest of the cell block looks on. Tom Six (himself) shows up and sells the medical accuracy of the process, and agrees to allow the staff to recreate it so long as he can watch. The inmates are shown both previous movies, while those individuals physically or mentally incompatible with becoming a centipede are whacked by the warden, and an unsuccessful prison break leaves Daisy in a brutally beaten comatose state, or in other words, the optimal condition for Boss to rape her in front of his dismayed accountant. As the operations get under way, Tom Six tosses his cookies as he witnesses certain prisoners being dismembered as well as being sewn together. The governor returns just in time to see Boss's five hundred segment prison centipede in person (which Daisy has unwittingly gotten herself sewn into), and also a "human caterpillar", comprised of legless and armless inmates. It gets worse from here, believe me.

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Cheese it, fellas, it's Prosciutto Face. 
If you look carefully (Why would you, though) you'll notice Akihiro Kitamura among the prison centipede segments, interestingly enough, as he was also a segment in the original movie. Bill Hutchens, who provided Dr. Sebring in the original, also shows up as a centipede segment here. Never forget your roots, I guess. Tommy "Tiny" Lister is also on board as the reluctant front piece. Laser's performance might be the most annoying ever witnessed in a film, unenthusiastically shouting every line of ridiculously offensive slur-filled dialog, long before the gross out payoff kicks in, including gems like "I'll stuff your baggy homosexual shithole with Cuban cigars up to your throat!" and countless others throughout. Not nearly as clever as the original, nor as vulgarly bloody as the sequel, 3 falls somewhere between the two, and feels unnecessary in comparison, garnering itself a single Wop on the scale. You've seen one human centipede, you've seen 'em all, really...

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A twine stitch in thine saves hein-ey.
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

"Baskin" (2015) d/ Can Evrenol

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Remember when the Republic of Turkey was renowned for cinematic excellence the world over, and film fans could hardly wait to see what spectacle the Turkish lens fell upon next? Yeah, me neither. I do however recall the nation that brought us such unforgettably rotten gems as Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam aka/ Turkish Star Wars (1982),  Seytan aka/ Turkish Exorcist (1974), and Badi aka/ Turkish E.T. (1983). Naturally when the internet buzzed concerning director Can Evrenol's Baskin I was mildly skeptical, to say the least. Still, I approached tonight's review with open eyes and a similarly receptive mind. Read on, woprophiles, for my synopsis and verdict, if you dare...

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Carnivorous since birth, I confess that I wouldn't mind taking a healthy bite out of this after some extensive flame broiling.
A group of Turkish cops bet on football and discuss the finer points of zoophilia and chick-with-dick-tricks at an out-of-the-way restaurant (translation: plywood Akcaabat meatball shack) where they bully paying customers for laughing at their outrageous stories, ending in one cop left screaming in a reflexive mirror wig out, when they're called to another even more out-of-the-way location as back up to another squad. Who's driving? The officer who's just experienced the breakdown, of course. The fellows belt out a Turkish pop song with the radio before naked men run across the road, and the ride is ultimately cut short when the vehicle barrels into someone standing in the middle of the asphalt in the darkness.There's a lot of frogs, too, for a reason unbeknownst to your humble narrator. On foot, they encounter some creepy gypos in a camp (One particularly acromegalous one is a frog hunting giant) before arriving at the abandoned police station that is the source of their call, another squad vehicle parked outside with the engine running and lights flashing. Not a good sign, as Nancy Loomis used to say...

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Hugh Jackman, eat your heart out, buddy.
Upon entering the building, they find a fellow officer slamming his dome piece repeatedly into a wall, mostly covered in ominous Satanic-looking graffiti and decorated with weird stuff hanging from strings, a la Blair Witch. Naturally, they've stumbled onto a black mass of sorts, with throngs of folks wrapped in clear plastic, cheap animal masks, and whatnot. The cops are overpowered before too long, and end up bound to the ceiling, and awaiting judgment in H-E-double hockey sticks, which is overseen by the Turkish equivalent of a member of Slipknot, and ultimately, a little rubber-faced creep with long nails, known as Baba or "The Father"(Mehmet Cerrahoglu), a cruel and unusual cat who grooves on disemboweling motherfuckers with his fingernails, poking dude's eyes out with a knife to strains of Riz Ortolani's Cannibal Holocaust soundtrack, and simply sawing open fella's throats and rubbing the free-spilling blood all over his chrome dome. One cop is forced to knock at the back door of a chunky woman in an animal mask and plastic sheet ensemble, on all fours. In the end, the easy way out is chosen to wrap up the clumsy, hole-ridden narrative, and you'll see it coming.

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In Hell, there's sex at it's unsexiest.
On a positive note, some of the cinematography is effective, and the torture porn-level gore is passable if slightly pedestrian, but neither aspect really compensates for the lack of story or budgetary confinements that the film is anchored by. Another deficiency I feel I have to mention, is the lack of sympathetic characters here, as all protagonist parties involved in the cinematic Hellride I neither rooted for nor against throughout the running time. The same goes for the Hellions.  In fact, I kind of dozed off halfway through on my first attempt to watch, being forced to cue it up a second time, on Netflix, which I applaud for listing such an unusual title so that I never have to waste money on a hard copy in the future. My shelving space is precious, and there's little chance that tonight's film ever occupies it. One Wop.

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"All of teh preserves is belongs to me, plix!"
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Sunday, August 7, 2016

"Pet Sematary" (1989) d/ Mary Lambert

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Author Stephen King once said that the only novel he wrote that truly scared him, was Pet Sematary, the basis for tonight's review. Is it any wonder that he would tackle the screenplay himself, overseeing much of the production, which was shot just twenty minutes from his Maine home? Ah-yuh, it's anothah horror movie full of bottles of beeyah, Herman Munstah, zombie cats, and reanimated scalpel-wielding toddlah cadavahs that are bound to have you and yours shouting, "Awwwww, isn't he precious?!!?" at your television screen. I grooved on it slightly back in '89 at the theater, at a time when I was more apt to accept a genre film that assumes it has to spell everything out for it's audience the way this one seems to. Forward...

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Formica rufa, baby. Wood ant. Wouldn't. Get it? Ah, forget it.
The Creeds move from Chicago to Ludlow as Louis (Dale Midkiff), family patriarch and professional Tony Romo lookalike, is offered a job as a doctor at the University of Maine. His wife Rachel (Denise Crosby), and their two children, Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) and Gage (Miko Hughes), and their cat, Church, all get acclimated to the rural landscape that's bisected by a stretch of road that's seemingly traveled at breakneck speed by the same tanker truck all day and night long. That's gonna pose a problem, later on, I just know it. Elderly neighbor Jud Crandal (Fred Gwynne) takes a shine to the young family when he isn't chain smoking Marlboro's and drinking Bud bottles. Ah-yuh. It doesn't take long for Jud to show them the local pet cemetery, and even less time for him to reveal the Micmac indian burial ground that supernaturally raises your dead pet from the grave on the chance that you're not quite ready to say goodbye, when Church gets splattered on the side of the aforementioned treacherous stretch of asphalt while Rachel and the kids are back in Chicago for Thanksgiving. The only problem is that no pets ever come back from the other side exactly the way they were pre-mortem, explained away as a side effect of the stony ground of the magical area. Uh huh.

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"My balls are this big." boasts Father Phone-it-in (Stephen King).
Despite getting clawed and ominously hissed at by his undead cat, Louis eventually asks Jud if the site was ever used to bring back something other than a pet, spurring the old man to repeat his trailer tagline no less than four times for dramatic effect ("Louis...sometimes...dead is bettah."). During a picnic in the nearby field, all the adults lose track of little Gage as he stumbles in front of the tanker truck barreling down the road, and Louis automatically has designs on putting Jud's warning to the test, against the constant, annoying warnings of a teenage ghost named Pascow (Brad Greenquist). It should also be noted that Rachel is also haunted by the twisted memory of her wheezy,bone-cracking spinal meningitis-stricken sister that she believes she let die as a fear-gripped child. Naturally, Louis digs up his boy and replants him on the Micmac grounds, leading to some totes adorbs evil toddler action, and a twist ending that nobody in the civilized world didn't see coming...

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Herman, you dead idiot.
Dale Midkiff also appeared in 1986's Nightmare Weekend. I'll refrain from any jokes involving Denise Crosby, seeing as how she was Lt. Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and you sci-fi nerds will likely doxx me for it. Miko Hughes would also show up in New Nightmare (1994). Much like our previous entry, tonight's boasts of a director change, from George A. himself, who was too busy working on Monkey Shines at the time and his pal Tom Savini turned the job down, too, so the chair was given to one Mary Lambert, who provided legendary visuals of a brunette Madonna shaking her ample bobblers in a bustier in front of burning crosses for the "Like a Prayer" video. I'd rather watch that on repeat with the sound off than sit through this mess again right now. The only positive I could pull from it was Fred Gwynne's performance, which was effectively understated for the most part, with one or two Herman Munster-style "DARN! DARN! DARN!"s thrown in for nostalgia's sake. He'd later famously appear as a judge in My Cousin Vinny (1992), before passing away two years later. Overall, this is one Wop stuff, without question.

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10 more cc's of adorable for Zombie Gage (Miko Hughes)? Yes, little man'll take it.
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Saturday, August 6, 2016

"Silver Bullet" (1985) d/ Dan Attias

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What started for author Stephen King as an artistic collaboration on a calendar illustrated by Bernie Wrightson (of Swamp Thing, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Heavy Metal, etc. fame), soon became a novella called Cycle of the Werewolf, and was finally transformed into the film that would be the basis for tonight's review. Though I confess I never got around to buying the illustrated hardcover or the trade paperback back then, surely some sort of transgression against the genre gods, as a lifelong Wrightson fanatic, and a reader of King for nearly as long, in and of itself,  I'll also concede that I skipped the movie the first time around, too. Even then, the idea of a kid in a rocket wheelchair squaring off against a werewolf? Not the greatest idea Stephen King has ever dreamed up, I don't mind telling you.

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Heading out to the highway. Only made it as far as the railroad tracks...
In the Bicentennial year of 1976 (some of you may not know the year, having not lived it), a dysfunctional clan called the Coslaws and their surrounding neighbors in a fictional Maine town called Salem's,uhhh-errr, Tarker's Mills, are plagued by a year's worth of brutal slayings at the paws of a murderous werewolf. We see his bloody handiwork in a decapitated railroad worker and a suicidal teenage pregnancy. Our protagonists are Jane (Megan Follows), a resentful teen who's begrudgingly forced to tend to her younger brother, Marty (Corey Haim), a paralyzed lad who whizzes about in a rocket wheelchair, as designed by his lovably zany drunken uncle, Gary Busey. His character has a name, indeed, but for all intents and purposes, you're getting Gary Busey. When Marty and his buddies aren't tormenting Jane for being a yucky girl who wears dresses, (the way young boys displayed their affections before being socially castrated by the authoritarian left, you remember, don't ya) get waxed by the wolfman while flying kites. Who the hell flies kites, anyway?

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"Forget how to knock? Can't a girl enjoy her pureed tomatoes in peace??"
Sheriff Joe Haller (Terry O'Quinn) 's hands are tied, as he and his punchy deputy are clueless to the mysterious killer's identity, leading the less level-headed and reasonable townsfolk to hunt the beast in the shrouded mist themselves, only to get tooled up in the dark by the mythical monster. Meanwhile, Nancy Drew and the Har-uhh, errrr, Jane and Marty have a helluva time convincing their drunken uncle that a werewolf is responsible for the murders, despite his obvious outer space origin/current mindset. The lycanthrope nearly puts an end to the rocket wheelchair montages, complete with nerve-wracking eighties synth pop, but thanks to the bag of illegal fireworks his uncle bestowed upon him, the search is soon narrowed down to anyone wearing an eye patch. Stay out of Maine, Slick Rick. Then more stuff happens, mostly of the "Who didn't see that coming?" variety. Approach with great caution.

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"This is what I get for lighting fireworks off with Jason Pierre-Paul!"
Corey Haim you'll probably recall from The Lost Boys (1987) or heavily publicized drug problems.You probably won't, but I remember Megan Follows from her role as "Anne of Green Gables" in the 1985 Canadian tv miniseries. The sacrifices one makes for broads. I got a little caught up in it, I confess. In a supporting capacity, you've got the likes of Terry "Stepfather" O'Quinn, Lawrence "Reservoir Dogs" Tierney, James "Dawn of the Dead" Baffico, and of course Everette "Twin Peaks" McGill and Gary motherfucking Busey rounding off the list of notable actors who signed on here. Phantasm director Don Coscarelli began the production in the chair, only to bow out before any werewolf sequences with Carlo Rambaldi's controversially meh suit were even filmed. The team was clearly shooting for a retro-50's E.C. comic feel, but overshot their point of interest for retro-70's Charlton comic feel instead, an after school special with splattery gore effects thrown in for that puzzling R rating. Revisiting it recently left me feeling gypped, with the potential it had, ultimately unrealized, in my estimation. One wop.

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" see Michael Jackson behind ya, just lay on the gas and pop a wheelie the hell outta there...", notes Uncle Red (Gary Busey).
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Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Graveyard Shift" (1990) d/ Ralph S. Singleton

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Props go out to the Doctor, whose timely suggestion of Stephen King fear fare the other day provide us with some reviews of his cinematic creature content that we've yet to examine here at the Wop, starting with this 1990 entry, based off of his short story o' the same name. Lead baddie and Philly native Stephen Macht has also shown up in things like Nightwing (1979), Galaxina (1980), and The Monster Squad (1987). Interesting to note,  Ralph S. Singleton's other directorial credit to date, has been a pair of episodes of Cagney and Lacey, and though I've never seen either one of them (or any other episodes of that specific show, thankyouverymuch), I'd wager that they've got more bone-chilling jump scares than this movie. Onward...

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"I'll be providing extermination services and laughable Vietnam facsimiles of Quint's U.S.S. Indianapolis speech...", notes Tucker (Brad Douriff).
A driftah...errr, drifter named Hall (David Hall) finds himself seeking employment in a skeevy New England textile mill overbrimming with rodents, and overseen by a fascistic, misogynist of a boss named Warwick (Stephen Macht), who pays off inspectors to keep his plant open and bullies his workers into gritty graveyard shifts when he isn't laying the female ones down on the work couch for some horizontal side-boppage, despite secretly being married. While Warwick gloats over and mocks his sweaty, exhausted staff relentlessly at every opportunity, they seem to be meeting gruesome ends, whether by unsafe, antiquated machinery or something else entirely, as witnessed by the thousands of rats that overrun the mill. To alleviate matters, drop one-liners, and keep the health board off of Warwick's back, is a cartoony Vietnam vet-turned-exterminator named Tucker (Brad Douriff) and his trusty rat terrier, who's been prejudiced towards the little furry bastards since he's seen the Vietcong force live ones into the abdominal wounds of captured prisoners during his tour of duty, as he so dramatically relates to fellow characters and audience alike, a single tear streaming down his cheek.

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...and Kelly Wolf as the hard luck, blue collar mogambo.
There's also a lass of earthen, salty beauty named Jane (Kelly Wolf), a former conquest of Warwick's that takes a shine to the new guy in town, much to the dismay of their over-the-top supervisor, who jealously rewards the new couple with a week of overtime graveyard shifts cleaning up the basement of the mill with a skeleton crew of miscreants that include an unhinged fatso named Brogan (Vic Polizos) who screams like Rambo as he blasts scrambling rats with a power hose, Carmichael (Jimmy Woodard), the token black guy and his ghetto blaster, and Danson (Andrew Divoff), a mullet-topped crybaby. But hey, who's turning down double pay in this economically stressful time, I ask you. When Hall discovers a trap door amidst the old waterlogged garbage, he leads the crew into a subterranean Hell, inhabited by a giant bat that hasn't gone hungry in ages, judging by the massive piles of bones in its cavernous home. At least Warwick hasn't gone mental, shaving down the payroll one employee at a time, letting them stumble into the winged freak's clutches, with sewer-caked mud all over his face, though. Might have spoken too soon, there, honestly.

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"Yoah lovebehd is a slampig for shoah, a biddie with an empty pockabook!", exclaims Warwick (Stephen Macht).
Make no mistake. There have been a few decent big screen adaptions (and a made-for-television example, I don't mind adding) of Stephen King's work over the years. Look no further than Carrie (1976), Salem's Lot (1979),  The Shining (1980), or even Creepshow (1982) for quantifiable validation of that statement. Beyond that, his stuff is really hit and miss, and the films born from it are even more so. This one in particular is a silly, sloppy, shambles of sweat and shrill New England accents culminating in a limp yield of latex, stage blood, and improbable motives that insults the intelligence of anyone bearing witness, save for the "horror for horror's sake" set, who'll watch and like anything with a genre stamp. I've never been that guy, and one Wop on the scale ought to reinforce that statement for doubters. Watch at your own risk.

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"Ah-yuh! Wheyah does a fellah go for a decent grindah down heyah?"
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

B.W.'s First 10 VHS Tapes I Ever Bought

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With the arrival of August upon us, and the end of VCR production by Funai Electric, the last company still producing them, announced due to declining sales, I thought it might be a fitting tribute to the format's long run by listing the very first ten movies I bought for my collection, popped eagerly into my Panasonic PV-1270 VHS, which, for the record, ran over seven hundred bucks at the time. As you'll see, it wasn't just the players that were pricey back then.
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1) Halloween (1978) Media Home Video
Fifty bucks later, I had my favorite movie at the time, to watch repeatedly, which I certainly did, over three hundred times over the next decade or so. I still remember the faulty tracking as Michael pulls down his mask and Loomis feeds him a chamber full of late night lead-based Halloween treats. Useless trivia for you, Halloween would be the first movie I bought when I finally switched formats, to dvd, in the late nineties. I'm nothing, if not consistent...

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2)The Fog (1980), Magnetic Home Video
Just under ten sawbucks (ninety-two, if my memory serves me correctly) at an electronics outlet on Wyoming Avenue got me a Carpenter favorite. The apex level Magnetic Video title card with it's TSR-80 graphics and elevatory shmaltz will stay with me always.

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3)Night of the Living Dead (1968), Media Home Video
At one point in the nineties, due to the perceived public domain status this movie had, there were dozens of different cheap VHS releases available for purchase for as low as a dollar. Fifty-two different ones at the time of this writing, to be exact. Media's release, the original, cost me fifty bucks at the time I bought it. Worth it back then to a thirteen year old horror nut, I guess.

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4)Dawn of the Dead (1979), Thorn-EMI Home Video
My first clamshell (not  Enter the Dragon (1973) as some close friends might speculate) was this Romero splatter opus which cost me sixty-five bucks from a source which escapes me at the moment. Wyoming Valley Video, mebbe? We watched this one all the time, and my Ken Foree impersonation remains impeccable, to this very day.

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5)Blood Feast (1963), Cult Video
I snagged this title and the next one from a Violent Videocassettes magazine ad in Fangoria, which was my bible at the time, for sure. The order cost me just under a hundred clams despite the reduced "Merlin Mail Price". Looking back, actually pretty steep for Herschell Gordon Lewis movies, if you think about it, though there are some of you out there that may have just dumped over two bills on a UK blu-ray box set that might disagree with me, unaware of the irony of H.G. and "hi def" being used in the same sentence...

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6)2,000 Maniacs (1964), Force Video
By the way, my name's Haaaarper.

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7)Basket Case (1982), Media Home Video
Snaked this one in the glorious video section of Joe Nardone's Gallery of Sound store at the Wyoming Valley Mall for fifty spondulix, money well spent for the opportunity to see Frank Henenlotter's cult classic midnight movie for the first time, and several more afterwards over the years.

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8)Zombie (1980), Wizard Home Video 
Another mail order score, that I recall being produced in the small box long before ever seeing it in the trademark Wizard Video big box, so savory to the neck-bearded, man-bunned, late-to-the-party dork knobs out there these days. How do I know? I was fucking there, you bell ends. Plus, mine was of the small variety, so...

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9)Gates of Hell (1980), Paragon Video
Another sixty-five clams well spent at the Gallery of Sound. Classic Fulci at his brain-squeezin'est, innard-chuckin'est, head scratchin'est best, with those signature Paragon trailers preceding the feature and accentuating it perfectly. We watched the shit out of this one.

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10)Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wizard Home Video
At this point, I had already taped over the recording tab on my bootlegged copy of the Hooper classic, and put something else on it. Probably some MTV videos, a Saturday night kung fu movie, or Billy Sims running all over the Vikings, knowing me. Either way, I shelled out the obligatory forty-five bucks, and added this to my shelves, meager at the time, but growing steadily as the mid-eighties approached, with the advent of Mom and Pop video rental places and mail order mayhem yet to come.
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