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The MFF Podcast #169: Club Dread, Hell Fest, The Lone Ranger and 30 Days of Night

January 18, 2019

Coconut Pete is out hero. Club Dread is a fun little movie.

You can download or stream the pod on Spotify, Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about movies that aren’t as bad as you’d think. We went through Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and Metacritic and picked our favorite movies that have subpar scores. In this podcast you will hear about 30 Days of Night, Hell Fest, Club Dread, The Lone Ranger, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. It was a lot of fun talking about these films because we genuinely like them and don’t think they’re that bad (you will hear that a lot in this podcast). If you are a fan of jungle skiing, jerky aliens and Bill Paxton using lots of profanity you will love this podcast.

The bird’s eye view shot in 30 Days of Night is epic.

If you are a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download or stream the pod on Spotify, Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

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John’s Horror Corner: Critters 4 (1992), finally bringing the alien man-eating Crites and a stellar cast into outer space.

January 17, 2019

MY CALL: The best violence, gore, effects and humor will always be found in parts 1 and 2. But, however inferior to them, this remains an entertaining, campy and somewhat worthy sequel to the franchise. MORE MOVIES LIKE Critters 3Critters (1986), Critters 2 (1988), maybe skip Critters 3 (1991), Gremlins (1984), Ghoulies 2 (1988), Tremors (1990), Grabbers (2012)… maybe even Munchies (1987) and Hobgoblins (1988). Leprechaun (1993) is also a decent R-rated horror comedy follow-up for fans of Critters.

Of course, the Critters started out in space and came to Earth. But Critters (1986) was not a horror-in-space movie. Despite that, the Critters franchise took a turn and boldly had a movie setting “in space” well before Jason Voorhees, space Satan, the Leprechaun or Pinhead ever did—Jason X (2001), Event Horizon (1997), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996), Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996). This is an interesting step considering that right before these movies, Poltergeist III (1988), Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Critters 3 (1991), Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) and Leprechaun 2 (1994) took their small scale domestic settings to the big city.

FRANCHISE SIDEBAR: In part 1, a batch of critters escaped a maximum security “prison asteroid” and were followed to Earth by shape-shifting intergalactic bounty hunters. With the help of a teenager and the town drunk, they thought the threat was eradicated and Charlie (Don Keith Opper; Critters 1-4) joined the ranks of the bounty hunters. But remember how part 1 ended with a clutch of eggs? Well, after yet another deliciously cheesy Sci-Fi spaceship opening, the alien bounty hunters received orders to return to Earth and eliminate the remaining monsters. So in part 2, Charlie and bounty hunter Ug saved the town yet again. However, they clearly didn’t complete the mission successfully because in part 3 we actually begin again near Grover’s Bend, Kansas where this all started and end up in Los Angeles.

The last five minutes of Critters 3 (1991) are also the replayed first five minutes of Critters 4. Charlie (Don Keith Opper; Critters 1-4) finds critter eggs in the basement of the Los Angeles apartment building and gets an interstellar call from his old bounty hunter buddy Ug (Terrence Mann; Critters 1-4) informing him that they are the very last two of eggs of the species and they are to be preserved in a space pod that crashes into the building. Charlie haphazardly is trapped inside with the eggs.

A space salvage crew recover the space pod in the year 2045 with the critter eggs and Charlie inside—not unlike finding Ripley in Aliens. You’ll recognize a lot of familiar faces in this movie playing crewmen Al (Brad Dourif; Cult of Chucky, Curse of Chucky, Halloween I-II), Captain Rick (Anders Hove; Subspecies 1-4), Bernie (Eric DaRe; Twin Peaks, Starship Troopers) and pilot Fran (Angela Bassett; Vampire in Brooklyn, Contact, Innocent Blood). They get just enough personality for me to care (a little); Bassett gets an equally empowering and mildly exploitative shower scene, Dourif has some cheeky lines, and Hove is just despicable (and predictably gets what he deserves).

Director Rupert Harvey—producer (The Blob, Critters) of several films but director of only this one film—delivers the sequel we deserve after suffering through Critters 3 (1991). The baby critters are still campy and cute and menacing, there’s a great critter-in-the-mouth special effects scene that reminds me of the black cat from Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), and the space setting works to our fun advantage. The on-ship computer (named Angela) is reminiscent of Alien’s Mother or 2001’s HAL, and TerraCor (those who want the critter eggs preserved) smack of Aliens’ Weyland Yutani. In fact, numerous scenes are modeled directly after Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986).

The best violence, gore, effects and humor will always be found in parts 1 and 2. But, however inferior to them, this remains an entertaining, campy and somewhat worthy sequel to the franchise.

John’s Horror Corner: The Changeling (1980), a slow burn murder mystery and classic haunted house movie

January 15, 2019

 

MY CALL: This haunted classic better serves audiences seeking an engaging historic murder mystery over horror, as horror serves more as a setting. It’s truly more of an intriguing slow burn, with not a gory or terrifying moment to boast.

The film opens with a horrible accident and loss—the kind that likely inspired Pet Sematary (1989). After witnessing the death of his wife and daughter, music composer John (George C. Scott; The Exorcist III, Firestarter) is a husk of his former self looking to relocate, start a new job as a university professor, and rebuild himself. So he moves into a secluded historic mansion which quickly starts hinting us of its haunted nature.

After a few minor strange occurrences, someone warns John that “the house doesn’t want” residents and that it isn’t fit for occupation. But when he finds a secretly concealed door to the dustiest attic ever containing a cobwebbed child’s wheelchair and a hundred-year-old music box, you know things are due to escalate. Perhaps the most iconic scene is more telling than terrifying (but also a bit harrowing)—the scene involving his deceased daughter’s ball coming down the staircase.


With the aid of Claire (Trish Van Devere; The Hearse) from the historic society, John investigates the history of the mansion. He covers all the bases—newspapers and legal documents—until turning to a medium to conduct a séance. The ghost, it seems, seeks help.

Typically, only the most significant classics impress me in terms of cinematography (e.g., The Shining) and scoring (e.g., any Italian horror featuring Goblin). This film seems to capture both, along with excellent acting performances (also rare in the genre, generally speaking). George C. Scott works wonders on the screen, lending a sincere credibility to his character’s desire to move on after his loss and focus on his work.

This is not a fast-paced film—at least, not in terms of action or horror. However, in terms of timely revelations and intrigue, the pace is good for a slower-burn film. In fact, this film feels much more like a murder mystery in a soft horror setting than horror enshrouded in mystery. Director Peter Medak (Species II, The Babysitter) brings zero gore and little actual “horror” to the table. To those of you looking for a good scare, this may disappoint. But for those of you simply seeking a good intriguing mystery film for a rainy Sunday afternoon, this may be right up your alley.

John’s Horror Corner: The Manitou (1978), when The Exorcist (1973) devolves into topless laser fights against a 400-year old reincarnated evil dwarf shaman!

January 14, 2019

 

This is actually my second review of the film. My first review was a little more silly in tone. CLICK HERE to read it.

MY CALL: This was utterly preposterously bad… and full of B-movie awesomeness! A woman births an evil 400-year old Native American dwarf medicine man from a giant tumor and this movie is taken (somewhat) 100% seriously while following The Exorcist (1973) playbook. MOVIES LIKE Manitou: Some would say The Exorcist (1973). But in terms of pure 70s horror madness, I’d sooner suggest such zany oddities of the late 70s as The Visitor (1979), Phantasm (1979), The Brood (1979), Tourist Trap (1979) and The Sentinel (1977).

The opening credits cultivate a false sense that your in for a serious film to be delivered with a straight face. But this ludicrous movie isn’t puling any punches in its fight against good taste. In the very first scene doctors are discussing a patient’s tumor, which is growing at the impossible rate of 7.3mm per hour—at which it would reach the size of a basketball in 34 hours. When one doctor refers to checking “all the books on tumors” the other doctor says: “I wrote them.”

Seeking comfort our patient Karen (Susan Strasberg; Mazes and Monsters) calls her ex-boyfriend Harry (Tony Curtis), a psychic hack who dresses like a Harry Potter villain and dances like a fiend. When Karen goes under the knife to have the tumor removed, things start to get weird. The “tumor” possesses Karen who utters incomprehensible sorcerous hisses, the surgeon tries to cut off his own hand, a possessed old lady across town does a rain dance and levitates, and a séance reveals that our tumor represents a Manitou, the immortal spirit of a 400-year old Native American medicine man.

So, after consulting a charlatan psychic, an actual spiritual medium, and the doctor who “wrote the books on tumors” but now says the tumor is a fetus, they turn to the man “who wrote the book” on Manitous, anthropologist Dr. Snow (Burgess Meredith; Rocky I-III, Twilight Zone: The Movie). Apparently, in this movie, the two men who “wrote the books on tumors” and “wrote the book on Manitous” are within reasonable driving distance. Convenient. But alas, this only brings more trivial exposition. So, when all else fails, they turn to a Native American medicine man.

This is one hell of a story arc. Normally you just briefly go from some initially doubtful source (e.g., the police, an expert in the field, a kid who witnessed something, or video surveillance equipment a la Paranormal Activity) to some sort of paranormal/supernatural expert (e.g., Poltergeist, Insidious, The Conjuring) who carries the remainder of the story. Here, the movie is as much about finding someone to help and identify the problem than it is about the problem itself—perhaps this is the reason this has been compared to The Exorcist (1973). I just hope that whatever Native American they find “wrote the book” on all things medicine man!

We learn that the Manitou becomes more powerful with each incarnation until reaching Gitche Manitou (nearly Godhood). But before he reaches such power, he gestates into Karen’s giant writhing hunchback until birthing itself like a slimy newborn foal. Between the aid of the medicine man, the birth scene and some other events, I can see the strong influence on Poltergeist II (1986).

The Manitou has a diversity of magical powers. He animates a dead guy into a zombie, he summons a lizard demon, he quakes the entire building, and he summons the Devil! The special effects are of variously bad quality, including a terrible rotoscoped lizard demon, a laughable indoor blizzard and a stupidly basic outer space set. Don’t get me started on the blob of light representing this “devil.” This stuff is bad. Really bad. But it’s really fun to watch. Oh, and the lasers…

Regarding this finale, let me just say that you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a needlessly topless Susan Strassberg on a floating bed shooting colorful cartoon laser beams from her Jazz Hands at a demonic afterbirth-entrenched midget in an extradimensional outer space setting while the “light Devil” hurls meteors at her. It’s as if the filmmakers wanted to combine the space sequences from Flash Gordon (1980) with the demonic possession scenes from The Exorcist (1973) and then add a dash of Saturday Night Fever (1977).

So if you want to get a little weird with your next movie night, go with The Manitou!

The MFF Podcast #168: Icebreaker and Snowmobile Action Scenes

January 13, 2019

You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The MFF podcast is back and we’re talking about snowmobile action scenes and the 2000 B-movie classic Icebreaker. If you are into movies featuring legendary mountain burgers, angry bosses and a bald Bruce Campbell chewing scenery you will love every second of this podcast. What we love most about Icebreaker is how director David Giancola gathered seemingly everyone in Vermont to cameo in this movie while actors Sean Astin, Stacy Keach and Bruce Campbell channeled every ounce of their professionalism to endure the experience of being in a true B-movie. In this podcast, you will hear us talk about snowmobiles, frightening fight scenes and Alexander Payne directing movies based on Avril Lavigne songs.

Bruce Campbell has a lot of whiskey in this movie.

If you are a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

John’s Horror Corner: Satan’s Slaves (2017; aka Pengabdi Setan), the Shudder Original remake about an Indonesian haunting and a Satanic cult.

January 12, 2019

MY CALL: There’s nothing particularly original to be found here (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but it’s entertaining. This film is well-paced, rich with jumpscares, and good phases from scary to intriguing to more action in the end. MOVIES LIKE Satan’s Slaves: Not to be confused with Satan’s Slave (1980; the Indonesian take on Phantasm (1979) and for which this 2017 release is something of a remake) or the British film Satan’s Slave (1976). For more Indonesian horror, consider May the Devil Take You (2018; aka Sebelum Iblis Menjemput) or Kuntilanak (2017; aka, Ghost in the Mirror) for something more serious or Lady Terminator (1989) for a preposterously fun B-movie experience.

Writer (in part) and director Joko Anwar (Halfworlds, Ritual) approaches this Indonesian remake of the Satanic panic era classic Satan’s Slave (1980) in the same 1981 setting as the original. With her father struggling with the family finances, Rini (Tara Basro; Halfworlds) must be strong for her younger siblings and her terminally ill mother who is bedbound, practically mute and weakly chiming her bell for aid.

When the audience is in the horrorverse, there’s something particularly unnerving about bedbound terminally ill characters. Do they see evil spirits we cannot perceive? Are they the evil or possessed by an evil we should fear? I’m reminded of Annabelle: Creation (2017) and Pet Sematary (1989) in concept. Whatever the case, it lays a foundation of dread.

At first the horror imagery is typical to Asian haunting horror: horrified expressions on the face of the dead, creepy smiling ghostly figures, a well echoing dripping water and, of course, the continued ringing of the bell… after the mother’s death. For convenient flavor, Rini’s family lives next to a cemetery and the family’s poverty results in their loss of phone service as the father must travel for work—in combination, these factors credibly cultivate a sort of “cabin in the woods” isolation even though Rini seeks advice from other locals. In their father’s absence, they begin to suffer additional loss and trauma at the hands of an evil presence.

There’s nothing particularly original—in fact, one particular scene will remind you way too much of The Ring (2002) and the “living dead-ish” entities behave as we’ve seen them a dozen times before devoid of nuance. We enjoy standard jumpscare fare and, more often than not, we see it coming—but with good execution it feels far more fun than formulaic. In fact, the scares become quite frequent providing a jumpy-fun pacing to the film (it reminded me of Dead Silence (2007), but more eventful and considerably less terrifying).

The first act is heavily jumpscare-biased, then we shift into a more plotty portion of the film to pave the way for the quite eventful third act. We go over an hour with essentially no blood or gore, but there is one rather outstanding and gruesome death scene involving a truck which totally took me off guard (I was impressed). The effects focus more on the ghostly/undead appearance of these Asian deadite entities in the beginning—and they look good. Again, nothing particularly original and of highly familiar gestalt, but well-executed.

This was a fun watch and, for all the action and jumpiness, I’d recommend it for a low stakes Saturday night.

The MFF Podcast #167: Quantum of Solace and More Henchmen Advice

January 8, 2019

Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

The MFF podcast is back, and we’re talking about the Bond film Quantum of Solace. If you’ve listened to the podcast before, you will know that we love the Bond franchise and will take any opportunity to talk it because the Bond movies have so much personality. In this podcast, you will hear us talk about its rushed production, unfinished script and Jason Bourne mimicry that just doesn’t feel right. We also go in-depth into its positives (there are many) and wish Olga Kurylenko had a bigger role because her character is the most interesting part of this movie. If you are a fan of James Bond movies you need to listen to this podcast.

We love the hotel bit.

If you are a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

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