Sunday, August 21, 2016

Plan 9 (2015)

Nope, not Plan 9 From Outer Space. This 2015 film is a re-imagining of that one. Not a remake, really. More of an attempt to start from scratch with the ideas of the original and make a decent film while still paying homage to the affection that many viewers (and clearly the filmmakers) feel towards one of the Worst Films Ever Made.



The premise of Plan 9 is very similar to the film it's based on. A meteor lands in the small town of Nilbog (if you get that reference, this movie is probably for you) and brings the recently dead back to life. The townsfolk have to figure out what's happening and come up with a plan to survive as the dead (and worse) attack the town.

The film is a low-budget affair, but in this case it actually serves as a selling point rather than a red flag. The actors and script give the characters a lot more magnetism and energy than your normal low-budget movie. Of peculiar note are the moments of levity and wit that are mostly provided by Mr. Lobo.

If you're not familiar with Mr. Lobo, he's a Horror Movie Host (among his many other talents/occupations). I first became aware of him as the host of a great documentary, Virginia Creepers. It's a fantastic doc about Virginia's Horror Movie Hosts throughout the years and is highly recommended for anyone interested in that tradition.

And while it's not splattered all over the film willy-nilly, there are some great moments of budget-conscious gore tossed in for decent effect.

Basically, if you like B-Movies and/or have enjoyed Plan 9 From Outer Space, this movie has some great directing, appropriate (but not cringe-worthy) performances that have fantastic timing and comedic delivery, and a bit of gore to scratch that itch as well.

You can find Plan 9 on Amazon, like I did.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Neon Maniacs (1986)

"When the world is ruled by violence,
And the soul of mankind fades,
the children's path shall be darkened
by the shadows of the Neon Maniacs."

Does that intro voice-over make any sense to you? Good, then it sets up this movie perfectly.

The first few moments establish that there are killers living under the San Francisco Bridge that murder. Oh, they also have trading cards for some reason...

Don't worry, these are never explained nor seen again after this point in the movie.

Each member of this group of murdering killers has his own theme/preferred murdering method. It's kind of like someone said, "That Village People thing was pretty cool. Let's mix that with a bunch of deadly killing murderers who all dress in costume. But they're not 'People' so we'll call them 'Maniacs.' And everyone is going wild about neon because it's 1986, so we'll toss that word in too."

Neon blood, because...well, the word is in the title so...

So, after their random killing of the fisherman (to establish that they are, in fact, murdering killers) the Neon Maniacs venture out to do some good old-fashioned murdering of teenagers. Unfortunately, one of their would-be victims doesn't get murder-killed. She gives a statement to the police and then goes back to high school, where no one believes her story.

EXCEPT...for one plucky, young pseudo-Punky Brewster type who is really into horror films.

So plucky, her hat couldn't possibly stay on straight.

Plucky Brewster decides to investigate on her own and (accidentally) discovers that the monsters have a weakness. As she's doing some digging, one of them trips into a water puddle right in front of her. That's right, these creatures have their own garlic/silver bullet. And it is...WATER!

Yes. These scary slashing-hackers disintegrate when they come into contact with the most common substance on earth. You could literally defeat them with a spray bottle.

Or a water gun...

...water bucket...

...shower combo.

It's clear that this movie doesn't care about logic. It's got a central conceit that no one thought through (i.e. Does the fog they're walking through also harm these monsters?). The film pours everything into the idea of 12 themed killers, but dries up otherwise. There's no gory deaths to wash over the viewer, and barely more than a spritzing of story. Recommended only for 80s horror buffs.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ninja III: The Domination (1984)

Ninja III: The Domination is a movie with an identity crisis. This crisis plays out in front of you like a friend making a drunken scene in a public place. You're powerless to stop it, and everything you try to do that might mitigate its severity only escalates the intensity. So, you end up just sitting back and letting it play out, nodding solemnly as an hour-and-a-half passes.

I've already mentioned that I'm a fan of the 80's "ninja craze" so this film seemed like a natural fit. Even more so after I saw the craziness that was Golan-Globus in Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. But I was not prepared for the insanity of a Ninja/Exorcist film, and I think that shows in my attempt to outline the setup.

The movie begins with all-out ninja action...on a golf course. All of the traditional ninjitsu arts are on display in this first 10 minute sequence, including:

"Golf-cart lifting"

"Gun blow-darting"

"Car roof-punching"

"Kicking a dude off his motorcycle, then putting him back on so that he can fall off again as it crashes" - Note: This gif was not edited.

After bombarding the audience with the kind of ninja craziness that could only come out of an 80's ninja flick, suddenly, things shift. We get a Flashdance-esque sequence of a beautiful Tele-Company Worker suiting up to climb a telephone pole and then spotting our ninja just before he dies. They struggle, she gets away, but then he yells, and inexplicably, she's like, "Sure, I'll hear you out (even though you're talking in Japanese) and absorb your memories from the sword you want to give to me."

"I've always wanted a bloody sword."

One of the weirdest aspects of this film (and that's saying something) is that the writer, the actors, or both seem to have never actually interacted with other human beings before.

For example, the main cop calls to ask the Tele-Company Worker out but she says she has an aerobics class; he shows up at her aerobics class (to unabashedly stalk her), yet she's not creeped out by this creeper. That's just the start, though.

A group of gym guys try to assault her outside of the gym, yet the cop does nothing to help.

After the fight, he "arrests" her (for fighting back, I guess?).Once they're in his car together, we get this exchange:

"You could get tried for assault for what you did to those guys."
"I don't need any help. Especially from you!"
"I am sick and tired of hearing about how you don't like cops. 'Cuz I'm going to tell you something "Miss Independence." I like being a cop. And if you don't wanna go out with me just because I'm a cop, then the hell with you, lady!"

"I don't have any coffee in my apartment, but I do have some V8 juice. Would you like to take me home?"
Cut to:

There is LITERALLY no scene between the car argument and this.
And that would be weird enough. But then this happens:

V8 product placement at its finest, I guess?

Immediately after their V8 sex-party, she gets possessed by the ninja sword.

Her possession sets up the latter half of the film where our Tele-Company Worker suits-up in ninja clothes and weapons to carry out some Death Wish-style vengeance against the cops who killed the previous ninja incarnation on the golf course.

This movie is one of the rare examples of the patchwork that bad movies can sometimes be made from. Bad acting, a plot derived from parts that don't work together, and a heavy reliance/confidence on action and the lead actress's sex-appeal all come together to create a very strange tapestry. Some bad movies have one or two of these, but seeing all in the same film is truly something else.

If you're looking to watch a movie that makes you question your own sanity and tests your ability to follow along, Ninja III: The Domination is probably just about right. You'll probably get some laughs out of it with the right audience, and you might feel closer to one another after. Kind of like war buddies.