Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sting of Death, Beer, Broads, and Jellyfish

Q:  What do we get when we combine "The Horror of Party Beach" with "Creature From the Black Lagoon"?  A: Nirvana, aka 1965's "Sting of Death." In addition to a really cheesy monster, we get to hear Neil Sedaka sing "Do The Jellyfish" as 20 coeds in swimsuits wriggle and jiggle to it by the pool.


If you were a fan of "Land of the Giants" you will remember Deanna  Lund.  She plays Jessica in this cinematic achievement and is cast here with about 15 other bathing beauties...who all end up annihilated by the creature...very sad!  The plot:  Karen, and her fellow biology major friends (all babes) visit her dad's island in the Everglades.  Her dad is experimenting with jellyfish, trying to make them bigger (who knows why?).  Just before Karen arrives, her dad's sexy, bikini-clad assistant is dragged to her underwater death by the jellyfish-creature while she attempted to sunbathe (see pictures above).  No one seems to miss her.  Then the obnoxious guys arrive (more jellyfish bait) to party with the babes.
                                           


As the pool party progresses, the drunk college kids humiliate the Igor-like servant, Egon.  Unfortunately for them, Egon can turn himself into a six-foot Jellyfish creature (see picture below).  When Egon returns, he uses his acidic tendrils to scar some beauties and then kill about 15 of them as they try to escape. Egon always had a crush on Karen and plots to kidnap her and....well...do whatever jellyfish creatures do with attractive coeds (ask Roger Corman).  As the scientists venture into the swamp with Deanna Lund, who is also a SCUBA diver, the creature is waiting for them and picks off Lund just after she dives in.  Then back to the house, where he picks off one of Karen's showering friends and abducts the fainted damsel.                                    
Will Egon's biological achievement be recognized by the scientific community? Will Karen learn to love a homely sea-creature?  Will Karen's dad ever realize his sexy assistant is missing?  This movie is a lot of fun, and the creature is so bad...it's great.  After watching the excruciatingly bad Brad Pitt movie, "Killing Them Softly," "Sting of Death" was welcomed medicine!        

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Piranha,Terror...Horror...Death...Film at 11

For B Movie, "Jaws" rip-offs, we can't beat Roger Corman's 1978 "Piranha."  Directed by Joe Dante ("Gremlins" and "The Twilight Zone") and featuring great acting by leads Heather Menzies ("The Sound of Music" and "Logans Run" TV show) and Bradford Dillman ("The Swarm" and "Bug"), this is a can't miss candidate for my B Movie Hall-of-Fame.  Then throw in performances by Barbara Steele ("She Beast") as the evil Dr. Mengers and Paul Bartel as the Vince Lombardi of summer camp directors, and we have a movie that never grows old, despite being almost 40 years of age.
The plot:  Two teen hikers, straight from Camp Crystal Lake, wander upon a secluded Top-Secret U.S. Army lab one night.  Of course, they go skinny dipping in it's pool.  What they didn't know is this lab houses Operation Razor Teeth, which mutates piranha to live in fresh and salt water.  Their swim is eaten short.  An investigator, Maggie (Menzies) happens upon this lab as she is hired to find the teens, with the help of the drunk Paul (Dillman), and they are met by the evil Dr. Hoak, played by Kevin McCarthy ("Invasion of the Body Snatchers"), but not before Maggie drains the pool into underground streams.  Hoak tells them that the Army originally wanted to set these vermin loose in the rivers of North Vietnam, but since that war ended, they would wait for the next one.  Realizing the piranha are now loose, Maggie and Paul race back to town where Paul's daughter is at a summer camp at the end of the river, and a new resort is opening.
If this isn't enough fun for you, the next 75 minutes are a roller-coaster of thrills.  The piranha eat Dr.Hoak, a canoeist, and Keenan Wynn's legs, before reaching the summer camp and resort...then this flick is ramped-up even more.  Barbara Steele arrives with the army and takes over for Hoak.  She is brilliant as the mad Dr. Mengers.  Complete with an English accent, she pronounces these toothy fish, pir-un-yia.  Mengers was Hoak's lover, and refers to this mad-scientist as a "dreamer."  Menzies is terrific as the enthusiastic yet naive investigator.  Dillman, is also good as the drunk, pathetic Paul.  Given the subject matter, and produced by Roger Corman, bikini clad gals, buckets of blood, and an all-out gore fest for an ending are guaranteed.
An interesting note of trivia, this story was written by John Sayles ("The Brother From Another Planet" and "Eight Men Out").  This horror flick masterfully stirs in enough humor to relieve the tension.  You say "Ordinary People," and folks say "Huh? What?"  Now you say "Piranha," and everyone knows what your talking about.      

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Barbarian Queen, Before there was Xena, there was Lana Clarkson

It is hard to believe Phil Spector shot Lana Clarkson ("Scarface" and "Deathstalker") to death over a decade ago.  In today's blog entry we will look at her most famous flick, 1985's "Barbarian Queen."  This film pre-dated the hit TV show, "Xena: Warrior Princess," and obviously had some influence in it's creation.  Casting a nearly six-foot, blonde actress in the title role, arming her with a big sword, and dressing her in revealing barbarian fashion, is enough to compensate for some sub-par acting.
   The plot:  Amethea (Clarkson) is bathing just before her wedding to the handsome and good Prince Argon.  Uh-oh!  The evil Romans led by the even more evil Arrakur invade the barbarian village.  The Romans rape most of the women and kill most of the men.  Amethea quickly dresses and fights them off.  Unfortunately for her wedding plans, her fiance has been captured and her little sister Taramis, played by Dawn Dunlap ("Forbidden World") was brutally raped by Arrakur.  With no village remaining, no groom, and a dead caterer, Amethea grabs her beautiful sisters and sets out on a journey of revenge.
Amethea and her equally scantily clad sisters reach Arrakur's stronghold and sneak in via hidden tunnels.  The plan, a good one, coordinate with the rebels (Uh-Oh!  They are led by a one-eyed, one-armed geeky grouch!), find Prince Argon and his fellow captives (who are scheduled to become fodder for Arrakur's gladiators) and start an uprising against the evil Romans.  Taramis sneaks into Arrakur's harem with the idea of getting close enough to him to deposit a dagger between his shoulder blades.  Unfortunately for Amethea and her sisters they are each captured and sent to the torture chamber where they are interrogated, put on the rack, and raped.   
Will all the sisters survive to escape, overthrow the Romans, and resurrect the wedding plans?  Will Amethea deliver to the Roman plunderers and rapists a fate they deserve?  The Romans are cast as out-of-shape couch potato types, which make it believable when Lana Clarkson decimates them with sword and fists.  The action is aplenty, but viewers should be aware, so are the rape scenes.  In addition to influencing the creators of "Xena," this film is probably the forerunner of all those "bride-zilla" type reality shows on TLC and Lifetime (though you guys will probably enjoy this movie a lot more).  

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Chilling, Cryogenics, Zombies, and Linda Blair

Picture this.  Uncle Zach, who grew smelly and grouchy in his last few years on this mortal coil, dies!  Because of imaginative estate planning, he is deposited in deep freeze at the local cryogenics lab.  One month later, Aunt Irma gives his clothes to Goodwill.  Two months later, Aunt Irma passes around his diary and we find out that Zach liked to wear Victoria's Secret intimates.  Three months later, Aunt Irma delivers Zach's mangy, old St. Bernard to the pound and begins to date a golf pro.  Six months later, Zach walks through the front door, reeking of cryogenic fluid and drooling.  While our government tries to alarm us about cholesterol, we forget about the impending horrors which breakthroughs in cryogenics may bring.  Hence, 1989's "The Chilling," starring Linda Blair, presents us a metaphor for the aforementioned horror story.
The Plot:  Universal Cryogenics is run by the evil Dr. Miller (Troy Donahue).  To avoid financial trouble, Miller is selling the organs of his "patients" on the Mexican black market.  Unfortunately, without hearts and kidneys, these patients will never be resurrected.  Mary Hampton (Linda Blair) is his assistant, and is unaware of his nefarious dealings.  She gets romantically involved with a client, a rich guy who just deposited his big-hearted (we actually get to see this heart before it is shipped south of the border) wife and his son (who was killed while trying to rob a bank).  Blair develops suspicions, and leaves her abusive husband one night to snoop around with her new boyfriend.
 The facility is guarded by Grizzly Adams, and during a lightning storm, the power and generators go out.  Another lightning bolt revives the corpses who are green-faced and clad in aluminum foil jumpsuits.  Now Grizzly Adams, Hampton, and her boyfriend, along with the evil doctor are trapped inside the cryogenic facility with the recently departed...who are now recently arrived.  The formerly dead zombie-like beings are not happy and seek to tear apart all the employees.  Will Grizzly Adams be able to tame zombies as he used to tame bears?  Will Linda Blair, no longer possessed, find true love with her partner, as they fight zombies?  Will Universal Cryogenics see their S&P rating plummet as their inventory walks away?  This movie will entertain you and be fodder for you nostalgia freaks (from both the 1970s and 1980s).
  Just in case you think this movie is too far-fetched for your tastes, please Google Alcor International (http://www.alcor.org/BecomeMember/tinternational.html).  Red Sox fans, who believe Ted Williams is dead, may be surprised to know his son had his head preserved at this facility.  Can't make this stuff up, friends!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Name is Modesty, and You Better Take Notice...

I love B Movies which have a comic book feel to them.  "My Name is Modesty" (2004) is just such a film, complete with loud characters and a campy musical score.  Alexandra Staden ("The Task") portrays our heroine, and she is the epitome of glamour, clad in a sexy evening gown throughout the film.  Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays the evil Miklos.  He is a handsome hunk and part of us hopes that he and Modesty find a way to hook-up, even though we know she will chew him up and spit him out by the end of the film.
  The plot: Modesty manages the floor of an exotic casino in Tangiers.  She is an orphan from the war-torn Balkans.  Her mentor, Louche, owns the casino and she is his "right-hand-man."  Miklos and his gang ambush Louche in an alley, killing him, and then invade the casino.  Miklos wants to get in the casino's vault, but Modesty proves a formidable opponent.  Protecting the employees and outsmarting Miklos is her plan.  Miklos then enters a battle of wits with Modesty, promising to spare employees if she will tell him how she got her name.  Seeing this as an opportunity to buy time, Modesty goes into the story, which we see in the form of flashbacks.  As we hear her story, it becomes apparent to us that she is equipped to defeat Miklos and his machine-gun henchmen.  Unfortunately for Miklos, he is so taken with this woman, he never sees any hint of his impending doom.
   Staden is fantastic in the title role and you guys out there will have trouble taking your eyes off of her while she is on the screen.  Coster-Waldau is also terrific, and he has a story too, which enables Modesty to get inside his head with empathy.  As he looks at Modesty with lust and desire, she looks at him as a cat would view a lamb chop.  This movie is on Netflix, and proves a better way to spend your time than paying $12 to see "The Monuments Men" at your local theater.  One final note, do not be fooled by the DVD box, Quentin Tarantino had nothing to do with this movie.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cherry Bomb, Untypical Stripper Revenge Flick

Rarely in film do you see a stripper who is....well...a stripper.  Usually these misunderstood souls are portrayed as loving mothers who need to finance their way through through graduate school so they can give their child the basic necessities.  2011's "Cherry Bomb" is refreshing in this manner.  Julin Jean plays a stripper who likes being a stripper.  She is not a mom and has no plans for an MBA in marketing.  This works well for us, as when she sets off on a voyage of revenge,  our protagonist is a vicious minded tramp, as opposed to a conscious driven grad-student/mom.
 The plot:  Cherry is just about to finish her night at the strip club when her boss asks her to entertain a private party in the back room.  She does.  Five "respectable" businessmen, high on cocaine and alcohol, want more than just a show and violently gang-rape her.  While in the hospital, Cherry realizes that the corrupt cops are not going to help her.  What is a girl to do? Easy answer....find an Uzi, a shotgun, a nail gun, a switchblade, and a vengeful attitude and make ground beef of her attackers.  With the help of her brother and her best friend Sapphire (you guessed it, another "dancer") she does a pretty good job.  Unfortunately for Sapphire, she is painfully gunned down by a monster assassin hot on Cherry's tail.
 In addition to her gratuitous measures of revenge, Cherry cleverly plays the perceived sparkling reputations of her attackers against them.  One of the fiends arrives home expecting to find his loving wife and two small children waiting for him.  Cherry already payed the wife a visit and showed her photos of what her husband did to her.  When the thug is told by his wife that he will never see his children again, Cherry lets him know where in his kitchen he can find a revolver with one bullet in it.  He immediately eats the round.
 The transformation of a perky stripper into a violent monster is a major theme of this film.  When Cherry chases down one poor sap who did not actually participate in the rape, he just failed to aid her, we expect her to cut him a slack, especially as his two small children and doting wife are with him.  Surely she won't shoot him.....right?  Wrong!  This movie is not over-the-top, as the rape scene occurs off screen.  Her battered face is seen next in her hospital room where she is healing all alone...no flowers, balloons or friends  are anywhere to be found.  The ending is exciting as she tries to finish off her rapists and the monster assassin who cut down Sapphire.  The acting is good, keeping in mind Julin Jean is portraying a stripper not a philosopher/mom.  See "Cherry Bomb" and be ready for quite a ride.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bounty Hunters, ...And in This Corner..Trish Stratus..

I wasn't a big wrestling fan before I saw this film...but now, I just may give it a chance.  2011's "Bounty Hunters" (aka "Bail Enforcers") is a terrific straight-to-DVD flick with great characters and good acting.  Trish Stratus (WWE Hall of Fame) is terrific as Jules, but her co-stars are also fabulous (Frank J. Supancic as Ridley, and Boomer Phillips as Chase, play her two partners).  These three play the good guys, but Andrea James Lui, as Ruby the sexy Asian assassin (and assistant Director) almost steals the show.
The plot:  The movie begins with our three bounty hunters doing what they get paid to do.  Trish Stratus showcases her wrestling skills very nicely in these apprehensions, even overpowering a gym rat over twice her size.  She is a loving mom and also a cocktail waitress at a strip-joint, part-time.  Ridley is her boyfriend, and boss of Bail Enforcement Agency, and in his spare time he gives free karate lessons to under privileged kids.  Chase is a good soul from a family of cops, but a hockey injury dashed his hopes of ever joining the force.  While bringing a capture to jail, the criminal turns them onto a million dollar score.  Our trio then captures this guy in an Asian brothel in a very entertaining scene.  Bad news, a mob boss named Hal can't have this guy go to jail because if he does, Hal fears he will tell the feds all about his operation.  Hal then sends his assassins to kill the trio before they deliver their prize to jail.
The first assassin (a suave psycho) fails, but Hal dispatches Ruby (see above picture) and her partner.  Ruby is bad -a**, and impersonates a cop, and then a nurse.  She succeeds in abducting Jules, but not before a  totally epic cat-fight which starts in an ambulance and ends, a long time later, in an abandoned warehouse.  Now holding Jules hostage, Chase and Boomer must go save her.  Unfortunately, Hal is waiting for them...with Ruby.
The ending is action-packed and we are treated to another epic cat-fight between Ruby and Jules.  Stratus' talents in the ring are used brilliantly in her role as a bounty hunter.  The three protagonists play off each other well, and Lui is wonderful as a sensual, but deadly, assassin.  Next time you go to a movie night at a friend's home, bring this DVD with you.  Otherwise, you might get stuck watching "Dances With (gag me with a spoon) Wolves." 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Terror In the Midnight Sun, Nude Swedish Figure Skating

Excuse the gratuitous title of this blog entry.  However, it is only slightly misleading.  This movie is Swedish, there is a nude figure skater, but she is American figure skating champion Barbara Wilson (you might remember her scene in "The Flesh Eaters" where we saw her fill out a bikini, just before we saw her skeleton fill out that same bikini).  As I am cheering for both Norway and Sweden in the Sochi Olympics, 1958's "Terror In the Midnight Sun," a movie set in northern Sweden, with figure skating and a big hairy ape monster, seems so appropriate for this blog.
The plot: A UFO crashes into the Laplands of northern Sweden (this film was shot entirely north of the Arctic Circle).  Two renowned scientists, Erik and Dr. Wilson, fly there.  Coincidentally, Dr. Wilson's niece, Diane, is figure skating in that town.  As the brainiacs land there, Diane is performing in front of scores of drooling Swedes.  She and Erik immediately hit it off inspiring Diane to strip out of her skimpy figure skating outfit and take a shower.  Whether this is integral to the plot is probably best left up to the individual viewer to decide.  Erik and Diane flirt, go skiing, dancing, and make goo-goo eyes at each other.  While dancing, a herd of reindeer is murdered in a town north of them.  
Clad in an elegant evening gown, Diane insists that the military and scientists take her along to investigate.  Once at the scene of the mutilated reindeer, our heroine discovers footprints of a beast that has to be 20 feet tall.  The generals and the scientist then plan a visit to the crater with the UFO.  Diane, clad in evening ware and probably smelling like Chanel #5, forces her way into the planning (see picture below) and onto the plane with them.  At the crater they discover the UFO, occupied by strange ETs.  Erik and Diane try to ski to the nearest town, but an accident ends Diane's skiing days and the two find a rescue cabin.  To the fortune of Erik, Diane takes the opportunity to strip out of her wet clothes and don a blanket.  Whether this is integral to the plot is probably best left up to the viewer to decide.  The ETs then unleash a 20 foot ape to collect Diane, which it does after using an avalanche to knock out Erik. 
What do the ape and ETs want with Diane?  Right...stupid question.  Will Erik and Dr. Wilson catch up to the ape and rescue Diane?  Will a bum knee end Diane's goodwill tour of the Laplands?  Swedish monster/sci-fi movies are rare, but this is a hidden gem.  The spirited Diane is energetic and pleasant to watch.  Barbara Wilson's performance here probably will influence Swedish figure skating for years to come.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Terminal Force, Brigitte Nielsen's Magnum Opus

Overshadowed by "Cobra" and "Red Sonja," 1995's "Terminal Force" (aka "Galaxis") might be Brigitte Nielsen's best movie.  This film mixes the best elements of "Mad Max," "Battlestar Galactica," and "The Terminator," and throws in the darling of Denmark clad in black leather.  Who needs plot and character development?  With modern day critics deceiving all of you to go see "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave," do yourselves a favor and see a really enjoyable flick.
The plot: Kyla, portrayed by Richard Moll ("Night Court" and "Ghost Shark") seeks to rule a far off solar system, so he has his ships decimate the peaceful planet of Sintaria.  During the invasion, he steals a sacred crystal which gives him powers to spread his rule to all the planets in the vicinity.  Ladera (Nielsen) knows another crystal exists, and if Kyla possesses that one, he will be able to rule the universe.  Ladera takes advantage of a time warp and jettisons to Earth where some poor schmuck named Jed (a very poor man's Indiana Jones) has just come back from Peru where he found the Eye of the Incas (the other crystal).  Ladera gets to the bar where Jed is doing shots just a little too late, as she had to break up a gang rape on the way.  Unfortunately for Jed, some two-bit mobsters are seeking to collect a debt from him, and figure they will settle for the crystal.  Even worse, Kyla is not satisfied with a solar system (who would be?) and arrives on Earth searching for the crystal, too. Ladera rescues Jed from the evil ones and together they must protect the crystal, defeat Kyla, and get her back to Sintaria.
  As they all converge on the bar, a huge battle erupts, and the bar is blown up, thus calling the attention of the police.  Cindy Morgan ("Tron" and "Caddyshack") plays Detective Kelly (see picture below), and she is terrific.  Smart, tough, aggressive, and brave, she is never more than a step behind Ladera and Kyla.  The battlefield extends to the apartment of Jed's friend, an alley, a seedy gambling joint, and the police station, as all the aforementioned converge on each one.  Gotta give Kelly credit, she is able to arrest Ladera and Jed.  However, in one of the saddest moments ever put on film, she is vaporized by Kyla when he then invades the police station in search of this crystal.
As Jed and Ladera escape once again, an epic final conflict is set up, tearfully, absent the deceased Kelly.  Will Ladera defeat Kyla, ensuring safety for her home planet?  Will the geeky Jed end up with this beauty from Denmark?  Will the deceased Kelly be resurrected for her own crime drama on network TV?  This movie is action-packed times ten, and Ladera's strength and sympathetic plight keep us involved the whole way.    

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Death Machine, The Beauty vs. The Mechanized Beast

1994's "Death Machine" was made by Stephen Norrington, who did creature f/x for some of the Alien films.  His mechanized beast is reminiscent of the Alien creature, and the protagonist, Hayden Cale, played by Ely Pouget (see picture), is reminiscent of the Ripley character...tough, smart, and unable to look at herself as a victim.  The setting is also very similar to Alien.  Instead of a hulking, Gothic spaceship, "Death Machine" uses a cavernous skyscraper which houses the proverbial evil corporation (Chaank, Inc.).  This movie also gives us guidance in answering that embarrassing question we all face sometimes, "Would you sleep with a total stranger if it was a matter of national security?"
 The plot:  Chaank Inc. is an evil defense contractor who manufactures banned war machines, like psycho-cyborgs...which often malfunction at the expense of innocent townspeople.  Hayden Cale, a new executive at Chaank, is determined to legitimize them. On her first day at work, she goes toe to toe with Chaank's evil executives, and their head scientist Jack Dante (Brad Dourif).  Dante is one third hacker, one third genius inventor, and all pervert.  Dante (see picture below) tries to intimidate Cale by letting her know he can hack into anything of hers, and showing her some magazines she posed in while she was in college. Instead of being ashamed, she is indignant, and attempts to block all of Dante's access.  While this is going on, an anarchist group invades Chaank in order to expose their illegal inventions.
  The anarchist's invasion allows Dante to mobilize his most treasured weapon, which is stored in the mysterious Vault 10.  Now the anarchists must join forces with Cale to defeat the evil genius and his creation.  The creation?  It busts through concrete as if going through paper.  It's fast.  It's moody.  It's got a slew of rapidly rotating blades and guns and is totally loyal to Dante.  Dante's terms of surrender?  He demands Cale hire him back and have sexual relations with him anytime he desires.  She refuses and the war is on.
Brad Dourif's performance as the evil mad-man is classic.  Ely Pouget as the tough corporate executive is the perfect foil for Dante.  Cale and her new anarchist buddies must survive the perfect killing machine and come up with a strategy to destroy the indestructible invention.  This is an exciting and loud movie with very exaggerated characters.  Director Norrington, pays homage to many of the 1980s horror icons, and his creature f/x here are terrific.  This movie will keep you enthralled for its duration, which will feel like a roller-coaster ride.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Nighbeast, The Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa Saves Earth

Maryland filmmaker Don Dohler's films are usually set in and near Baltimore.  My two favorites are "Harvesters" and 1982's "Nightbeast."  Having lived in Maryland from 1990 to 2005, his work has always interested me. In this horror-scifi tale, the gore and kills are maximized and we are introduced to a very visually pleasing heroine, the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa (Karin Kardian, who appears in her one and only film).  For low budget, the creature effects are superb.
The plot: A spaceship crashes into the woods in residential Baltimore.  A beastly ET walks away from the crash and over a seven minute span vaporizes three redneck hunters, disembowels a grouchy Uncle Dave, disintegrates Dave's niece and nephew, and disembowels two young lovers.  The Sheriff mobilizes his men and a posse, and even wakes the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa from her beauty sleep and together they track this fiend.  The hunting party is a dismal failure, as the ticked off alien wastes most of it.  Within 15 minutes into the movie the death count reaches 16.  A subplot concerns the Misogynist Biker Drago.  His antics serve to distract the Sheriff and the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa.  The Misogynist Biker Drago is in four scenes (1. He insults the Sheriff, 2. He brutally attacks his hot girlfriend, 3. He returns and strangles that same girlfriend to death, and 4. He disarms and inflicts an elongated and brutal beat down of the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa- see picture below).  Eventually the Sheriff blows him away.
 The Sheriff and the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa manage to evacuate most of the town and in doing so meet up with the fiend.  The Sheriff is injured in their escape with a wound rather near his groin.  Fortunately for him, the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa is up on first-aid and brings him to her bedroom to dress the wound (see picture below).  The Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa takes this same opportunity to get undressed, take a shower, and participate in a rather long love scene with the Sheriff.  This scene is longer than the scenes in which the first 16 victims were ripped apart in.  With the town residents either evacuated or turned into lasagna, the Sheriff, the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa, a few volunteers, and a husband/wife doctor team plot the destruction of the unfriendly visitor.
    Will the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa save the world...and earn a promotion from her boss?  Will the Sheriff's wound require more care from the Perky and Sensual Deputy Lisa?  The ending of this movie, heavily influenced by 1951's "The Thing From Another World," is loud and exciting.  This movie goes out with bangs, explosions, and fireworks (literal and figurative).

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Count Yorga, Vampire, Culture Shock in L.A.


I first saw 1970's "Count Yorga, Vampire" at a drive-in movie theater in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, along with "She Beast" and "The Abominable Dr. Phibes."  It would be almost a decade before I summoned up enough courage to watch another horror movie.  There were three scenes in this film that had me screaming and hiding on the floor of my parent's car (I was only six).  Directed by the late Bob Kelljan (Charlie's Angels and Starsky and Hutch), and starring Robert Quarry, this movie will give the kids nightmares.
  The plot:  Count Yorga, in his coffin, arrives by ship in Los Angeles, from Bulgaria.  He is first seen conducting a seance with two young couples.  Donna, one of the gals seeks to contact her recently deceased mother.  Little does Donna know, her dead mom is now one of Yorga's undead brides (he has two).  The seance is unsuccessful, but Yorga is able to hypnotize Donna, for later use.  Meanwhile, Erica and Paul get their van stuck driving away from Yorga's place.  During the night, Yorga knocks out Paul and bites Erica. Later that day, Erica displays some mildly anti-social behavior...such as trashing her apartment, displaying a desire to be dead, and eating her pet cat (see picture below).  Worried, Paul calls the promiscuous and boring Dr. Jim Hayes.  A Van Helsing wannabe, the dullard gives the lovely Erica a blood transfusion, and calls the cops (who laugh at him).  Later that night, Yorga pays the seductive Erica another visit and completes his task of changing her into one of his undead brides.
 To be fair, L.A. is not Bulgaria, and Yorga gets a fast lesson on that.  His first two brides are very voluptuous, however, when they wake for the first time in their undead state, they turn out to be lesbians, more interested in each other, than Yorga.  With Erica gone, Donna, the two husbands, and the boring Dr. Jim Hayes head to Yorga's mansion. The plan: bore Count Yorga to death (I'm not kidding).  When this doesn't work, the team returns the next night with wooden stakes, setting up a terrifying conclusion.

Count Yorga comes across as a horrifying and sympathetic figure.  He is polite, classy, elegant, exotic, interesting, and very lonely in L.A.  If he wasn't so evil and ominous, we might have been pulling for him.  Judy Lang portrays Erica, and she is quite captivating on the screen.  If you can, see "Count Yorga, Vampire" on a large screen with a quality sound system...and get ready for some sleepless nights.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cold Prey 2, The Best Sequel Ever!


If Fridtjof Nansen is the father of Arctic exploration, Norwegians can also boast that the Cold Prey franchise is the sire of superior sequels.  2008's "Cold Prey 2" (Fritt Vilt 2) followed a sensational slasher film....and I believe...topped it!  This film had many reasons to fail;  A different director (Mats Stenberg) , set indoors instead of utilizing the beautiful and haunting Norwegian landscape, and...it's a sequel.  When John Carpenter made "Halloween 2", he utilized Jamie Lee Curtis as a frightened, sedated teenager who was constantly running away in fear.  In "Cold Prey 2" Ingrid Bolso Berdal, recreating her portrayal of Jannicke, refuses to be a victim and is bent on annihilating the maniac.  
  The plot:  This sequel begins, as H2 did, immediately where the first one ended.  Jannicke is found on the road by Ole (Kim Wifladt) covered in blood, dazed, and almost frozen.  She has a look on her face as if she has emerged from battle and is ticked off that all her friends are dead.  Ole brings her to the hospital where his girlfriend, Camilla (Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik), is on staff.  The cops arrive and Jannicke tells them her story.  When the cops go to the crack in the glacier (see above picture), they find the bodies of her friends and the maniac.  One cop then researches old cases and new clippings and realizes exactly what has happened.  When her friends are brought to the hospital's morgue, Jannicke identifies them, but when she sees the supposed corpse of her nemesis, she attacks it.

Johanna Morck (Trollhunter, not to be confused with the very lovely and talented Jon Mack-actress and lead singer of my favorite band, Auradrone) plays a very sweet and clean-cut nurse.  She develops a relationship with a really clean-cut blonde policeman.  The two are so sweet together, we all just sigh and say "Awwwwww."  This is a slasher movie, and each one of them then dies a gruesome death....oh well!  When the maniac shows signs of life, the hospital staff resuscitates him.  When Jannicke tries to stop them, she is sedated by Nurse Audhild (Morck).  Now resuscitated, the maniac makes ground beef of the hospital staff, and the responding cops.  Jannicke then mobilizes with makeshift hospital weapons and sets out, joined by Camilla, to save the helpless patients and kill the Jason-like figure.  Unlike the frail Laurie Strode in H2, Jannicke is peeved off about being sedated and takes measures to un-sedate herself....what a gal!

The ending is horrific and extremely suspenseful.  Where John Carpenter failed to make the hospital corridors menacing in H2, Mats Stenberg is able to make his corridors ominous and ooze horror.  With the extinction of strong male heroes in film over the past 20 years, Jannicke delivers inspiration for today's women to refuse to be victimized.  Strength and smarts will defeat evil...male or female...a terrific message.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Magic Sword, Dungeons and Dragons is Born...

As geeky as they are, "Dungeons & Dragons" players grow up to rule the world.  Compare them to "Fantasy Football" participants, whose employers encourage them to opt for early retirement plans.  In 1962, Bert I. Gordon (B Movie Hall of Fame inductee and creator of "Empire of the Ants" and "Food of the Gods") produced, directed, wrote, and created the special f/x for "The Magic Sword."  Set in medieval times, and sure to be loved by the D&D crowd, this film boasts of an all-star cast including Basil Rathbone (pictured below) as the evil Lodac, and Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey) as our hero, Sir George.
The plot: Sir George, a 20 year old medieval-geek, is accessing the HAL 9000...er..actually his magic pond.  In the pond he can watch an image of the fair-Princess Helene (Anne Helm) skinny-dip (Helene's privacy concerns are not relevant to the drooling George).  He falls in love with her and then sees her kidnapped by the evil sorcerer, Lodac.  The King promises Helene's hand in marriage to any knight who rescues her.  Sir Brandon (who is secretly in cahoots with Lodac) takes up the challenge.  George, whose mother is a good sorceress (Estelle Winwood), arms himself with magic armor, a magic sword, and seven brave knights in order to rescue the first woman he ever saw naked.  This bunch must battle Lodac's seven curses and a plotting Sir Brandon.  Meanwhile, the fair-Princess is locked in Lodac's dungeon with two other beautiful blondes (daughters of other kings) who, unfortunately, are then fed to the pet dragon.  Battling witches, giant ogres, acidic swamps, and Sir Brandon, George makes it to the castle.  Inexperienced George must now battle Lodac, Brandon, more curses, and a very menacing dragon in order to save the woman he obsesses over (restraining orders were non-existent in medieval times).
This film succeeds on so many levels.  The stunning Anne Helm is perfect as the proverbial damsel-in-distress, always clad in white (except when swimming).  The dragon is very scary.  Lodac, the villain, will have you hissing.  Finally, the ending is epic, and you will not feel cheated.  While you watch the Super Bowl tomorrow, some geek will be watching "The Magic Sword."  Like a medieval sorcerer...this geek will someday have total power over you.  Unless you want to be a dragon's entree, be nice to the geeks.