Friday, May 26, 2017

Night of the Demons (1988)

A handful of teenagers decide to throw a rip-roaring Halloween party at a haunted mansion. But, as it turns out, the stories people tell about the mansion are real. It is haunted, and Halloween is the worst time to hang around that house.

With its straight-forward plot, Night of the Demons is one of those movies that should be an enjoyable horror B-movie. It has all the pieces!

A stalking camera, just like in Evil Dead!

Demon possession!

Even a bit of gore! (though, honestly, it's pretty tame in this department)

But it's all been done before...and way other movies. The film isn't really bad, but it's not good either. And it certainly isn't so bad that it's good. It just kind of flatlines somewhere around the time you realize it's not going to live up to its potential (for me, that was when the first demon possession resulted in some lipstick face-painting).

After that, it just limps across the finish line.

Recommended only for 80s horror completionists. Otherwise, watch Evil Dead 2 and/or Cabin in the Woods for a better combination of campiness and high schoolers battling demons.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Manborg (2011)

With movies like Kung Fury, Turbo Kid, Wolf Cop, video games like Far Cry 3: Dragon Blood, and (most recently, as of writing) the Netflix series Stranger Things, there seems to be a revival of sorts for 80s nostalgia lately. I cannot tell you how much I love it. Especially when it's done right.

While Manborg gets a few things right, by absolutely nailing the tone, it misses the mark a bit with a story that's fueled by cliche and cultural references.

Good stuff!
But it can be overwhelming without the story to compensate.

The movie opens with a scene between two brothers in what is essentially Alternative World War Something (against the Machines). One brother is killed by the big bad guy. The other is saved and turned into Manborg. You might find some similarities between Manborg and the Mandroid (as seen in Eliminators)...that wasn't unintentional.

The references to other 80s source material don't stop there. The film includes a plethora of other wink-wink the martial artist "Number One Man" (a reference to Sonny Chiba's Street Fighter), stealing the basic story-line from Mega Man, and the anime-like knife throw seen above.

And that's the problem.

While it's interesting to toss retro-references at your audience at the approximate rate of six-per-scene, the story still has to be interesting enough to hold their attention. If this movie had, perhaps, avoided going (close to) full feature-length (like Kung Fury did, to great benefit), it might not have collapsed under its own weight.

There's some decent stop-motion, at least. Don't see enough of that these days.

Recommended only if watching with people who fondly remember this stuff and can jump in with commentary when you all get bored.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Mutant Hunt (1987)

The film opens with a mixture of New Wave style and mustache twirling evil. Not a bad start as the villain enacts his plan to give drugs to cyborgs that make them kill for pleasure. One of the scientists who learns about the scheme escapes with evidence. Her first thought is to find someone who can help. Enter: Jock Tightstring! Eeerrr. *reads notes* I mean, Matt Riker!

Tighty-white fighting is a great intro to our hero

Turns out, this movie's cyborgs can do whatever weird thing the script, plot, or imagination demands. So. without any precursor, we get Stretch Armstrong Cyborg.

 Quickly followed by cyborg death by face-electrocution.

After this action scene, there's five straight minutes of some of the most baffling world-building exposition. In it, we get these gems (actual lines from the segment):

And moments later...

And that's just a peek at the movie's first act. Throughout, the acting is wooden, the fight choreography lumbers, the soundtrack repeats hilariously, and the writing is patched together with chewing gum and chicken wire. This is a special kind of B-Movie.

Highly recommended to anyone who loves really good trash cinema.

(Like Eliminators and Badlanders, you can frequently find this film showing on Comet TV)