Highlander II: Quickening  is what happens when you try to think of a (pseudo)scientific explanation for something that’s clearly mythological.

Movie starts with NASA– like launch of a protective Dome over the whole planet that’s supposed to help protect us instead of the failing Ozone layer (early 90’s were big on Climate Alarmism just like the present). For some unknown reason Connor MacLeod is leading he project.

Now the consequence of this is that the world is plunged into eternal darkness and it’s always 37.2 °C so he might have just made things even worse?

Decades later old man Connor watches the opera and he remembers his previously unknown past on I kid you not- planet Zeist! (Yes they wasted no time in trying to burn the franchise to the ground) You see 500 years ago he and Ramirez led a failed rebellion- against their ruthless ruler- General Katatana (and if the name is not over the top enough he is played by Michael Ironside too).

Katana condemns them to be reborn on a another planet where they will stay eternally young and strong and fight for the right to return to war-torn dusty hell that’s Zeist? I’m not really sure Katana grasps the concept of crime and punishment.

“Oh, no it’s the Plantet Zeist flashback!”


So, Connor manages to murder the goons, regain his youth and have a go at it with a sexy scientist Louse right there on the street in what seems to be no more than 2 minutes. I understand he didn’t want to waste any time after being a decrepit old man for so long but still- that does seem a bit excessive!


Then if that wasn’t enough Ramirez resurrects himself for no reason whatsoever (right in the middle of Shakespearean play too), well no reason beyond the fact he was paid incredible 3 million dollars for a cameo appearance (less than a week of work) and producers tried to milk it for all that it’s worth.

Every time you say “Alas, poor Yorick…” Sean Connery magically appears!

Ironicaly one of the producers actually ended up marring actress from the now infamous “face sitting joke” airplane scene she had with Connery. I’m genuinely not sure what to make of that.

You were a part of one of the worst cinematic scenes in movie history, will you marry me?”
                                                

Katana disappointed with the fact that he actually helped Connor by sending those idiots decides to go to planet Earth himself to finish the job. He actually transports himself directly into a moving train and causes a bit of a ruckus. Once on Earth he threatens Connor but then proceeds to team up with the leader of the evil corporation controlling the Shield. I mean- who doesn’t want to go corporate?

Ramirez surprises rejuvenated Connor and they decide to help Luise break into The Shield Corporation to finally prove that the world doesn’t have to live in a eternal darkness and despair. You see Ozone layer actually repaired itself years ago so it seems Connor’s environmental overreaction cost billions of people their life quality and even their freedom.

They infiltrate the compound by being shot by the guards multiple times and then ressurecting when they drag them inside (the only semi- clever thing anyone has done in this movie) but they end up being stuck in the ventilation. Ramirez sacrifises himself AGAIN when giant fan almost rips them to pieces and Connor finally reaches Katana.

After defeating and beheading Katana Connor has a quickening that causes the overload of the shield and finally frees the humanity. We hear the Connery quote from just few minutes ago and all is well the world. Of course it would be even better if none of this has happened in the first place but it is what it is.

Verdict: What’s interesting is that from the plot standpoint Highlander 2 is full of characters who would actually better achieve their goals just by doing nothing at all and waiting things out for a bit.That is pretty much the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve when writing any kind of a story!

So in a way that Highlander 2: Quickening has actually stood a test of time- is as a classic case of what no to do. Like- don’t completely change the genre, don’t ignore the rules you set up in the first one, and for God’s sake- don’t start the movie with the previously unmentioned planet Zeist!

The fact that you actually had a solid cast, beautiful looking sets, great cinematography and lots of neat practical effect didn’t help at all. With so many catastrophic mistakes in the early phases of development things only got worse and worse (and the choice to film in Argentina proved to be  the straw the broke the camel’s back).

Now the director Russell Mulcahy did return to the movie with a Renegade Version where he restored more of his original vision for the movie and completely removed any mention of the planet Zeist which by itself made the movie at least 70% better.

But I do find it unfortunate that most of today’s DVD’s and BluRays actually use the Renegade Cut because this movie is such a perfect case of what not to do and I think some of the modern directors working in Hollywood now should take the time to study it and see if they are making some of the same mistakes.

Trivia: Economic collapse of Argentina right in the middle of filming had almost catastrophic effect on the movie. Movie’s budget ballooned and almost doubled and investors started to  take control of the final product thus making it more nonsensical by the day. If you are interested you can see more information about filming in this mini- documentary:

 

And remember most importantly, beware of the dark haired ladies, they…

 

 

 

Charles Laughton directed once. Shame. So did Brando. Tragedy. Presumably Rospo Pallenberg, director of this tension-free 80s “whodunnit” slasher, realized that he and talent were but distant pen pals and laid down the megaphone. Praise be! As for the movie itself, it is cheesy 80s black comedy which fails at being either of those two things.

The film opens with a paperboy delivering newspapers. A paper is delivered to Paula Carson’s (played by cute girl from Stepfather, Jill Schoelen) house. Paula is approached by her father, Bill (played by Martin Mull), who is the district attorney, on his way to a hunting trip. He warns Paula to do her homework, not to allow boys in the house, and most importantly not to cut class (as it might prove deadly). Paula then puts the newspaper in the bin, showing its headline: “Boy who killed father released from Mental Asylum.” What a time to go hunting ducks! Anyway, Bill Carson drives to the swamps for his hunting trip. As he takes shots into the air, someone is hiding nearby and holding a bow and arrows. The person calls over to Bill  and fires an arrow into him. Bill cries out and then falls down to the ground, presumably dead. But more of that later.

Hunter has  become the hunted

Meanwhile, Dwight Ingalls (played by Brad Pitt) shows his lousy driving skills by almost causing two car accidents on his ride to school where he gets teased by friends for not knowing what is H20. Later, after gym class, Paula  walks past a set of bow and arrows and notices a leaf hanging off one of the arrow.She picks the leaf off. Clue already? Anyway, later she meets with her friend Colleen (played by Brenda James) and her boyfriend Dwight at a hot dog stand. Dwight then goes to buy Paula a hot dog, but he is beaten by Brian (played by Donovan Leich) who hands her one and says, “You had that look.” Dwight and Brian then have man to man talk. It turns out they used to be friends until Brian went to mental institution. Could Brian be that creepy kid from newspapers? My hunch tells me he just might be.

Ars gratia artis

That evening Dwight tried to score at Paula’s place but she wouldn’t give him until he improves his grades. Really odd condition. But he is not the only one who wants to score. The principal Mr. Dante (played by Roddy McDowall) seems to be perv since he invited Paula to his office in order to give her a present, which he deliberately placed on the floor so he could see her underpants from his hiding place after Paula bents over. Really nice view. Oh yes, and meanwhile someone burned art teacher in school’s clay oven, but spooky janitor will clean up that. Never mind that, lets get back to the view:

What a view

Paula starts hanging around with Brian, despite Dwight’s disapproval. Wanting to expose Brian, Dwight sneaks into the school at night together with Paula, Colleen and Gary (played by , where they find school records. It turns out that Brian is cannibal and was treated with electroshocks. But they didn’t notice Brian who is following them and hiding behind a water dispenser. Seems Brian is not the only one who like hide and seek. Tomorrow, at school basketball game Gary was hiding under retractable stands and looking under skirts. Colleen joins him just to find out she and Gary are not alone. Killer is there too and he disposes off them quickly with a knife. More blood for spooky janitor to clean.

Shot of Bill Carson staggering through the swamp takes us to next to school day. Dwight made another incident at class, Brian tried to back him up so they are both sent to vice-principal Mrs. Knocht (played by Nancy Fish) by their math teacher Mr. Glynn (played by Eric Boles). Mrs. Knocht suspends Brian for foul language and ends photocopied to death later that day. Karma, some of us would say. Meanwhile, police sends search team to local woods hoping to find missing teenagers there. One of their dogs finds Bill Carson who starts yelling at dog to get some help. Dog wouldn’t listen to him. Poor Bill can’t catch a break.

Dwight isn’t on easy street either. Coach Harris wouldn’t let him to practice archery without gym gear. They got feud there and Coach tells him to come tomorrow for private class with his gear on. Later that evening Brian sneaks into Paula’s house where he shows copy of the Mrs. Knocht murder. On the pictureyou can see ring on killer’s hand. Paula recognizes Dwight’s ring. She and Brian agree to stop him. Tomorrow, after private class with Dwight, Coach Harris decides to let some steam off on a trampoline. Our killer takes opportunity to sneak up on him and place sharp American flag under trampoline. Poor Coach didn’t suspect anything so flag thrusts him right through his ass. You might say he gave his ass for America. YEEAAAAHH!

Meanwhile, Brian and Paula are back to school to stop Dwight. Spooky janitor Shultz (played by Robert Glaudini) scares them away with his broom, while accusing Brian to be a murderer. They each run in opposite directions. Paula finds missing lovebirds in the locker. Then Dwight comes by and she starts running again. She stumbles upon Mr. Glynn, tells him Dwight is the killer and then they both hide in the science room. Doors behind them lock and the only way to get out is by solving math problem killer has left on blackboard. Mr. Grynn solves the problem and opens door number 1. Then, for no apparent reason, Brian reveals himself as a killer by yelling “Wrong door!” and chopping Mr. Glynn with an axe. Why did he do that when everyone else were suspecting Dwight is beyond me. So, the killer is the one who was the most suspicious from the very start. Seems to me they pulled Gyles here. Anyway, Brian was just about to kill Paula when Dwight shows up. Dumb as he is, Dwight ends up with his head captured between clamps so Paula had to use her girly charms, seduce Brian and finish him off with a claw hammer. On their way back they almost hit Bill Carson with the car who somehow staggered back to civilization. He asks Paula is she is cutting classes and that’s where this nightmare ends. Pretty dumb movie.

Conclusion: The basic ideas were there along with a rudimentary plot twist, they just managed to forget to add anything interesting in-between. So boring in fact, the small instances of things going on in the background became the most interesting factors. All throughout its running time, Cutting Class is careful to give both Brian and Dwight equal cause to hate most of the people who eventually turn up dead, while simultaneously serving up the expected obvious red herrings in the form of Schultz the janitor and Principal Dante. Unfortunately, however, only one member of the cast ever seems actually capable of hating someone enough to kill them, and that’s Brian. Now, when normal people make a “whodunnit” movie, they throw in some clues here and there as well as a couple of red herrings. What they don’t do is have the killer be the one person they’ve been pointing big red arrows at the previous 70 minutes. But Cutting Class does exactly that. To ‘cut’ to the chase, Cutting Class kinda sucks… A lot. It’s boring and slow and there’s very little to keep you interested until the end. The chicks are cute, the boobs are minimal, and the characters are uninteresting. I really can’t find any reason to tell you to give a watch. So give it a pass.

 

 

Movie starts with an illegal Kickboxing Tournament, a classic trope from the 90s. So far- so good. Now, what you would reasonably expect is that the star of this movie is this young, buff Karate student played by Ian Jacklin. Makes sense. Yeah, his acting is maybe not perfect but at least he looks the part of an action hero.

 

But things are never that simple are they? Our young hero gets the living daylight beaten out of him and he ends up freakin’ brain dead and now we’re left following his teacher trying to avenge him. Sensei George (skinny, older man from Macedonia) wakes up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. His nude, blonde (and out of his league) girlfriend Sara tries to comfort him. He relents and has sex with her but still suspects somethings wrong with his missing student.

First thing in the morning he goes to see Tony’s mother who suspects things considering she found an envelope of 10 000 dollars and the mysterious card. Scarily at the same time her boy was harvested for organs (probably to be sold on the black market). Man, these people are even more evil than the usual tournament organizers (like Dana White or Shang Tsung).

George calls his girlfriend who turns out to be a Police detective (didn’t see that one coming). Unfortunately she wasn’t helpful in tracing the mysterious number from the card So, next he tries to find the company with a Spade logo (like the envelope). He ends up in a seedy warehouse and you guessed it- get jumped by some bad guys! They try to “teach him some American maners” but he answers with some well placed kicks. Mustached villain tries to run away but George hunts him down and in the end he talks. Man behind the disappearance is called Verdugo (Jorge Rivera). That name seems to ring a bell with George.

He visits his master- fantastically long- haired George Lynch who explains that Verdugo can’t possibly be alive because he was killed running drugs in the Golden Triangle. Turns out he actually survived and just got a cool- looking eye patch.

An being a true villain that he is he sends some goons to the George’s dojo, he doesn’t want anyone messing with his operation. Now, this is the fun part, his main henchmen is none other than Frank W. Dux (controversial Ninja/ Spy/ Creator of Bloodsport).

His blue belt tries to get involved and kid gets shit kicked out of him! I’m starting to think that George isn’t such a great Sensei after all, I mean his students constantly act like dumb asses- he must be partly responsible.

“Nothing important- just your life”

Unfortunately Dux just threatens him with a gun and we don’t get to see the fight between  the two. Too bad ’cause Dux was usually behind the cameras (Bloodsport, , Lionheart, Only The Strong) as a choreographer– it would have been interesting to finally see him in action for a change.

Police lady gets some info from her fat “hacker” friend and it turns out that George was the one one testified against Verdugo. Lynch spouts some more ancient wisdom to George as he gets prepared to end things between him and Verdugo once and for all.

Turns out his other student Garry also got invited some time ago so he uses that connection to finally track him down. Before the revenge he start training like crazy, full 80s style! His girlfriend doesn’t seem entertained by that but he pays her no mind. She finally confronts him in late hours in his Dojo with words like “…what are you doing here, I never see you anymore” Remember kids Karate will wreck your personal life. Jorge solves things by sleeping with her right there on the dirty floor. I mean this dude’s got only two ways of solving any problem: fighting and fucking and I don’t know which is scarier.

We finally get down to business. Garry let’s himself be captured by Verdugo goons.  George follows them and then makes a sneak attack on Verdugo’s compound with a freaking crossbow! Man’s got style.

After saving his student from what seems like certain death George challenges Verdugo and he gets shamed by his ritch friends to take the fight. Of course it turns out Sara followed George who followed Garry (everyone is tailing everyone here) and she shows up with the police to break things up. She kinda forgives George for going behind her back and they team up to fight Verdugo (and his evil Doctor Kramer).

Verdugo yelling “you ruined my career, you ruined my life” and George’s answering “it was a shitty career” strike with a bit more truth than originally intended. But don’t worry they don’t get to meta- they get into a sword fight. Round 2: Begin!

 

My favorite thing is that no one takes George into custody despite of obviously murdering a man with a sword just minutes ago.

And all that with a journalists showing up before the arrests were even done with a TV Anchor spouting the names of every rich and powerful person watching the tournament. This lady’s got more info than any other character in the whole movie, I’m impressed! She could have solved everything by herself- and without any bloodshed.

Verdict: Now, having an illegal Karate tournament revenge is not a bad plot by itself, we all love a good (and brutal) revenge story but when the said teacher is a skinny man from Macedonia with his English (let’s not talk about his acting) leaving a lot to be desired for.

But if you look closely at the credits Jorgo Ognenovski actually wrote the story so that’s not really shocking. Maybe the safer bet was for him to just write/ produce and maybe play a foreign villain. In that case this movie might have had a bit wider release, something in line with an average 90’s Gary Daniels kickboxing movie.

For me the biggest treat of the movie was the legendary B-movie bad guy Richard Lynch here being all hilarious and awesome as a wise Martial Art Master. Having practically nothing to do with Martial Arts he more than makes up for it with his style (long hair and black kimono) and attitude.

Trivia: Of all things we expect to get in the movie like this, the biggest shock was a cameo from Frank Dux as a main henchmen of Rivero’s character. I’m only disappointed that he didn’t have any fight scenes. I mean you have the inspiration behind Bloodsport and you don’t have him Dim Mak anybody? That’s a shame!

Also, dojo scenes seem to be filmed in Dux’s Dojo, you can clearly see his framed photo. Either that or Jorgo really loves promoting his enemies.

On the side note- in a classic Ninja fashion Dux’s role isn’t advertised and his name does not appear in his official IMDB page.So, it’s like he was never there. Man, he truly is The Secret Man.

Trivia 2:

According to our research Jorgo Ognenoviski is in politics now and is actually an independent political candidate for the mayor of Bitola, Macedonia. Man, maybe he can give Arnold run for his money if he keeps it up!

 

Ring of Fury, Singapore’s answer to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury (and Big Boss) originally filmed in 1973 is finally available and can be viewed in full on Youtube!

Movie had a tumultuous release history. It was supposed to be a first real Singapore Martial Art flick but it wasn’t meant to be. It all started when the first time directors Tony Yeow and James Sebastian hired a local Kyokushin Karate trainer Peter Chung who repeatedly refused their offers citing that he doesn’t know anything about acting.

Still they persevered and in the end Chung relented. Armed with a shoestring budget and cast of unknowns they crafted a story of noodle-seller, Fei Pao, who seeks revenge on a group of thugs who murdered his mother (over unpaid protection money).

“We had a fight at the granite quarry in Bukit Timah and there wasn’t even a mattress on the ground. They said, ‘If you fall, you fall.’ And sometimes you might fall on small stones and it was painful.” said the star of the movie Peter Chung .

Classic training montage!

 

Unfortunately all that effort was seemingly in vain as the movie was swiftly banned.  Singapore’s censorship was particularly harsh in the 70’s and the idea of portraying (at the time unfortunate but very real occurrence)  gangs collecting protection money and even “worse” vigilante justice didn’t sit well with them. I guess Death Wish was never released in Singapour too.

 

After things imploded, the unpaid star of the movie Peter Chong kept the only known copy of the film, 35mm print in his fridge wrapped in newspapers for decades hoping for it to be eventually released into the public! Ban was eventually lifted in 1994 (after losing some scenes of sex and violence) but movie would wait another 20+ years to be restored and released but it was finally screened at the Asian Restored Classics of 2017.

And now, even better- it’s finaly available worldwide in full on the Asian Film Archive official Youtube channel. As a giant fan of the genre and especially the early 70s Martial Arts boom I know I will enjoy it, so let’s all give a watch to the Singapour’s fists Kung Fu movie:

 

We got the news that after decades in limbo never finished sequel of Grizzly(1976)- Grizzly II: Revenge (1983) is finally about to be released! Movie of course follows the  aforementioned 10 foot Grizzly terrorizing young concert goers on a giant Woodstock- style festival. Freshly completed version just had it’s premiere in Los Angeles last week and we can hope to hear more details about the release soon.

With a stellar cast such as everyone’s favorite rascal Charlie Sheen, young George Clooney, Laura Dern and even John Rhys- Davies it’s incredible that the movie was just gathering dust all this time.  The only way to view film was a bootleg that surfaced in ’07 ripped from VHS copy of the workprint copy. This version unfortunately had most of the the animatronic bear scenes left unfinished (due in part to the disappearance of the producer Joe Proctor).

Crewman in charge of the bear scenes had this this say on imdb -I had an agreement with Joe Proctor to direct the half size effects unit and all elements ( other than the man in a suit version which was almost complete) were finished and ready to shoot in coordination with the storyboard that I also supervised with artist Tony Beasley. The money dried up and the crew’s PERSONAL equipment was seized by the Government who told us they were held against non payment of production bills.-

Original movie producer Suzanne Csikos Nagy explains the sudden halt in production on the first day of filming the concert:

The principal photography started on Monday. We had 45 days to finish the film. Everything was mapped out. Sunday was a break. Everybody relaxed when the call came to my home. My partner from Chicago was looking for my husband who was not in the film business and asked him to come to the InterContinental Hotel. When he returned he was pale and devastated.

I asked him, “What is wrong?” And he replied, “Joe, your partner, is leaving Hungary. If you want to save the movie, you do what you need to do. He is leaving in half an hour because there is no money for the production.”  I thought this was a joke, but then I realized, I was left alone with 300 members of the film crew from 4 countries.-

With the footage restored and transferred to digital in summer of ’19 GBGB proceeded to film the missing scenes with assurance of preserving the authentic ’80s spirit of the movies.  We hope to see it soon and confirm that that’s true. In the meantime you can see the new trailer right here.

 

You can also visit the official Grizzly 2 page for more information and updates: https://www.grizzly2revenge.com/

You wonder what this movies is about? Well, in 1980s we were still in the first wave of Jamie Lee Curtis career as a Scream Queen. She followed up the all- time classic John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) with another Carpenter gem- The Fog (1980). The she took a bit of a detour to Great North with Prom Night (1980) and then continued the Canadian tour some months later with a New Year themed Slasher featuring none other then at the world famous illusionist David Copperfield! So, how did it go? We’ll let’s go through it step by step.

Movie predictably starts with a bunch of nerds. Sigma Phi fraternity pulls a prank by promising him young Kenny a hook- up with a hot chick. They just fail to tell him that the chick was dead for a long time! Can you imagine someone going to all the trouble of getting a dead body into a student bed just for a stupid prank. I know they’re medical students but still. Kenny is horribly traumatized by the prank ends up in the mental institution!

When going insane make sure to spin in circles!

Three year later the gang is back to it’s usual hijinks, this time preparing to board a train. They are already drunk and wearing costumes (not a must have for a New Year celebration, but to each their own) but the real party is just about to begin.

Nerdy prankster with a Groucho Marx is looking for his girlfriend. Girlfriend is of course a blow up doll. He keeps spouting his lame comedy routine to everyone’s delight. Now, predictably he is the first to go (seemingly killers hate pranksters even more than their regular victims- slutty blonds). They board the train not noticing that somebody put a (real) sword trough the comedian and then took his place.

                                                                                                                          Being a funny guy always ends in tragedy

The Magician (David Copperfield) is talking with his assistant, tall blond called Charlie, feeling he is not yet prepared for his performance. Who is financing his thing? You’d espect these students to be in debt by now- not living it up.

Black dude in a lizard costume compliments the “new and improved” Groucho and his comedy and offers him some hard liquor. Groucho accepts and then proceeds to murder him in one fall swoop by busting his head on the bathroom mirror. That’s what you get for liking bad comedy.

 

Train conductor finds the murder victim in the bathroom .The only logical thing to do-hide the murder! I’m not sure that’s helping anyone in the long run. They even say “Bathroom is out of order”– man, that’s cold.

At some point the main organizer and OG Prankster Doc (dressed like a monk) comments that he didn’t hire a magician at all? But Alana’s boyfriend Moe just shrugs it off like it’s no big deal. The killer somehow manages to throw the body away and take the lizard costume (this is starting to become a pattern) and conductors decide to just accept that the dude was just drunk (ignoring all the gallons of blood that were there just minutes ago). It seems people will believe anything as long as it’s easier for them.

Bubbly girl Mitchie (also a bit drunk at this point) runs into train conductors carrying the Lizard. She helps Lizard Man walk and starts hitting on him instantly. That will prove to be a fatal mistake.


I guess she likes them coldblooded it seems.

After finding Mitchie dead too conducter finally figure out that there’s something wrong with this whole trip. Alana (Curtis) figures out that she’s gone and they finally admit they found her dead. If that wasn’t enough we are treated to another Copperfield act but thankfully Moe shows up bleeding like a pig in the middle of it. It seems bodies are starting to pile up.

 

They finally stop the train to try to prevent further killings. They trice to organize everybody and make them take of their masks. While freezing outside Alana finally figures out that Kenny is back and Doc then seals himself in the sleeper car where murderer is hiding. Naturally he doesn’t make it. After finding his decapitated body Alana figures out that the Magician must be Kenny in disguise.  Carne looks him up but the Magician manages to disappear?

Now with a new gimmick, a witch killer goes after Alana. She barely escapes with her life and manages to lock her self up in the compartment. He still tries to stab her but she turns the tables on him and stab him in the face. He continues going after her but she pushes him from the train car. Nightmare seems to be finally over.

 

Or is ti? They finally find the Magician but he is in fact murder by his own swords.Alana tells that to Charlie, his assistant but the wig comes off and it turns out that she is in fact Kenny! Kenny was cross- dressing as the assistant this whole time. She tries apologizing for her part in the prank but he doesn’t want to hear it. He insists on a kiss, and she finally obliges him. Unfortunately for Kenny he again looses his mind and starts spinning uncontrollably. Old man conductor shows up and whacks him with a shovel. He drops like a rock (and something rolls out from the ovbious stand in dummy). Water washes the body away with only a single shoe remaining while the train rolls on.

This scene is comedic gold

Verdict: Even thou I must say I sincerely enjoy the early part of Jamie Lee Curtis‘s career I would still say that Terror Train is a bit of a weak link for me. Gimmick of changing the costume after every kill sounds interesting on paper but in reality murderer lacks visual identity (see Jason Voorhees) and that definitely hurts the movie. Also, it takes them way too long to “get the train rolling”, it takes pretty much an hour for tension to really rev up.  And as much as I loved Coperfield‘s stuff as a kid, cutting to his performances every 10 minutes is not helping the pacing of this film.

Trivia: Jamie Lee Curtis would continue with the Horror genre with Australian Roadgames (1981) and go back to playing Laurie Stroude with Halloween II and her Horror streak would finaly be broken in ’82 with a comedy Coming Soon. She wouldn’t return to the genre ’till Halloween H20 (1998) and now mostly forgotten but batshit crazy SF/ Horror Virus (1999).

Trivia #2: Marie was played by none other than D.D. Winters, real name Denise Katrina Matthews– later known as Vanity. You might remember her from another cult classic- The Last Dragon. She was also in a Carl Weathers‘s awesome Action Jackson and had a sucesful musical career with Prince– produced Vanity 6 trio and two solo records. Unfortunately, she died way too soon in 2016.

 

 

After the release of his anthology movie Verotika (inspired by the comics series of the same name), Rock legend Glenn Danzig (Misfits, Samhain, Danzig) is working on his second feature, a vampire-spaghetti western- Death Rider in the House of Vampires! Yes, you heard that right. That sound like something akin to Kevin Eastman/ Simon Bisley excellent Fistful of Blood (2002) published by Heavy Metal magazine.

Here’s what he said at Verotika premiere in Chicago earlier this year: “My next film, which I’m hopefully starting this summer, is a vampire-spaghetti western. The soundtrack has been done for two years and of course it sounds almost exactly like an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. I think I’m actually going to do a small part in it too. Everybody in the movie is a vampire. So, you won’t have to wait around to see the vampire. They’re all fucking vampires!”

And as far as casting goes we know we have the veteran Danny Trejo, Danzig himself in a cameo role and greatest of all-  Warlock himself, Mr. Julian Sands! Can’t wait to hear more ’cause it sound like a bloody good time.

After the premiere as a part of Midnight Madness selection of Toronto International Film Festival Richard Stanley’s comeback feature, Lovecraft’s Color out of Space staring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson and Tommy Chong we finally got a release date and the official trailer.

Stanley haven’t lost his weird, supernatural touch and Cage looks to be in a fine form.  Critics are of course divided with some praising it as one of the best Lovecraft adaptations (OK track record for those isn’t that great) and an awesome comeback for Stanley while others deemed it unwatchable.

RLJ Entertainment will release the film in theaters on  January 24, 2020. Hope to see you in the cinema.

Trivia: Producers of the movie, SpectreVision’s Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings) and Daniel Noah also revealed that they are in the early stages of development of The Dunwich Horror adaptation with Stanley too, saying that they hope there’s enough interest to make at least three HP Lovecraft adaptations. It seems they could give Brian Yuzna run for his money.

 

Most first time directors begin their careers with a zombie film. Why? I don’t know, I guess it’s a cheap way to make a first feature film. Shot on 35mm foralmost no money by first time director Brett Leonard  (also known for Lawnmower Man) The Dead Pit is perfect example of this claim. It features some impressive make up and effects work, especially considering the budget. Michael Hinton created the film’s optical effects, while the prosthetic special effects were created by FX artist Ed Martinez. Other than that it is complete crap with unintentional black humor.

deadpit

 

At an overfilled and under-staffed mental hospital, Dr. Colin Ramzi (played by Danny Gochnauer) decides to use the excess patients for his own personal experiments into death and the unknown. His evil deeds are ended abruptly when his colleague, Dr. Gerald Swan (Jeremy Slate), puts a bullet in his head. Dr. Ramzi and the corpses of his experiments are then sealed up in a mass grave beneath the hospital and forgotten. Well, only for twenty years, until a mysterious Jane Doe (played by Cheryl Lawson) arrives at the hospital with no memory of who she is or where she came from. She complains about not losing her memory but rather someone got it stolen from her. Hm I think I know where this movie leads to. Anyway, apparently Jane Doe got so upset about her memories theft that she causes an earthquake and unrest at the, until then, peaceful underground mass grave. Result of this: we get to see Dr. Ramzi gets free from captivity, leading the army of loyal zombies. And also we get to see Jane’s tits in wet shirt.

Untitled

 

While Jane is wandering around freely wearing only underpants and tight shirt Dr. Ramzi continues his research. So that means he needs more bodies. You can guess what comes next. Meanwhile, Dr. Gerald hypnotizes Jane where he discovers her real name is Sarah and that mother tried to take her away from her father when she was only 3 years old. Hm I wonder why? Of course, all of this is followed by inconvenient flat acting. The following night good Dr. Ramzi is back. He kills one of the lunatics and one of the staff member, whose head he later uses to scare Jane and drive her insane.

 

Dr. Gerald hypnotizes Jane once more. She remembered crazy surgeon experimenting on her. Dr. Ramzi somehow takes control of her body and in his own voice threaten Dr. Gerald. Ok now we got The Exorcist element here. This movie keeps expanding in a way no one could possibly expect. Dr. Gerald gets so upset about this that he throws poor Jane out of office and then helps himself with his secret stash of whisky. On the other side of asylum, Jane and some Irish madman are making a plan for escaping. Of course, that plan is foiled by Dr. Ramzi and Jane ends up captured in the dead pit. Mad surgeon raises his army of the zombies from the pit and they all together start stealing brains from mental patients. Mad Irishman saves Jane from imprisonment and they return to fight Ramzi and his ever-growing army of zombies. Meanwhile, Dr. Gerald got drunk and slept through entire chaos in his office.

They discover that holy water kills zombies (I am no shitting you here) so with help of demented nun who happens to be in asylum as mental patient (how convenient) Jane and Irish dude devise a plan to bless entire nearby water tower and blow it up with handmade bomb. Sounds bulletproof to me enough. Meanwhile, Dr. Ramzi has haptured Dr. Gerald and performs brain extraction operation on him, despite Gerald’s plea “Don’t cut my brain please”. He shows that juicy brain to Jane during their next encounter spiced with silly one-liner “Dr. Swan wants to give you piece of his mind”. Classic! And yeah, we also find out he is Jane’s father. What a twist, would you say? Anyway, mad Irishman (*cough* pleonasm) took the opportunity of this family reunion to sacrifice himself (due to his stupidity of making the fuse too long) and blow up water tower which leads us to scene of mass melting zombies, including Dr. Ramzi, which is second to none even compared to famous scene from The incredible melting man.

Conclusion: Zombies, mad scientist, body possession, holy water, exorcism, tits, wide open heads, this movie has it all, you just name it. I haven’t seen such  concentration of madness since Beyond Re-animator (and believe me, that movie is so fucked up). As for the acting, it isn’t heinously bad, for the most part, but you’ll still wince from time to time. The zombies actually look fairly decent. With Brett Leonard, when you look at his earliest picture, all you can really see are hints of the mediocrity that would spell out his career. The Dead Pit isn’t a bad movie, it’s just very forgettable. At least, it provides some nice gore so it is worth watching.

At least the cover is cool. I like that Mad Max/ Road Warrior pose.

Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research. A prototype robot intended for crime combat escapes from the development lab and goes on a killing rampage.

Brilliant scientist of this movie Barrett Coldyron turns out to be a farmer. He also feeds his horse his morning coffee (not sure that’s good for him) and eats the carrot himself.  This seems to be the theme of this whole movie, by trying to subvert our expectations director Cullen Blaine manages only to spoil everything in this middle-to-low budget production and make it have no sense whatsoever.

Sometimes, it’s much better to just play the cards that you’ve been dealt (instead of trying to change the whole game).

Coldyron lead a fun presentation of Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research aka R.O.T.O.R. including a horrible stop- motion dancing? Or was that Karate?

One thing is for sure, that thing is EVIL.

Now, according to him it will take anything from 4 to 25 years(!!!) for R.O.T.O.R. to be functional but his boss’s career depends on it and he want’s it now! Even worse than those video- game crunch times we have right now. It seems the programmers will never get a break, it will only gets worse in the future. So, Coldyron tells him to show it and goes back to being a private citizen, or a Cop? I’m not really sure- he seems to contain multitudes.

And did we mention the retarded robot side-kick they have in the police station.

 

On the other hand his mustached subordinate doesn’t have the guts to quit and ends up being a project leader. Predictably he manages to fuck things up with the R.O.T.O.R.‘s program. Then a bizarre gay- looking Native American scientist starts boasting like mad and manages to activate the damn robot!

 

Now that the R.O.T.O.R is on, he starts cruising in his police- motorcycle. First car he stops is one with the young couple arguing like idiots. We’ll things escalate with yelling at a (robo)cop and you would think that machine wouldn’t get his feelings hurt/ get too emotional but R.O.T.O.R is activated. And as we all know, it takes time to iron out the kinks in the program. First car he stops is one with the young couple arguing like idiots.

We’ll things escalate with yelling at a (Robo)Cop and you would think that machine wouldn’t get his feelings hurt but R.O.T.O.R. is special. Driver tries to come him down and even pulls out a 20 dollars bill (39 dollars in today’s money). R.O.T.O.R. just shoots him point blank.  Also trajectory of the bullet seems a bit strange, bullet seemingly ricochets of a dollar bill and hits the dude straight in the forehead! His girlfriends goes into a panic- mode and tries to get away.

R.O.T.O.R. keeps pursuing her like she’s freakin’ Sarah Connor and not just a girlfriend of the random lousy driver. He follows her all the way to some Trucker Bar but where R.O.T.O.R. ends up in honest-to-God bar brawl with rednecks who know Martial Arts with one of them seemingly being a Bodybuilder too! You couldn’t make this shit up.

Coldyron then finally catches up to them a saves a girl and it’s all far from over. Coldyron prepares for a final showdown by picking up Dr. Steel, an engeneer who designed  the robot’s chassis and she’s for some reason a super- muscular woman with a skank haircut? Yeah, you heard that right. Hell, she’s the biggest Alpha “Male” of the whole movie! And she does Martial Arts too.

When they lay the trap for R.O.T.O.R. shes the one kickboxing and wrestling with the machine. I guess she made him so she knows all of his weak spots.  And she did have some sucess before being pummeled to the ground. They finally trap him by forcing him to step on lasso (does Cowboy skills of Coldyron finaly came in handy) and then tearing him apart with cars! He then of course explodes, ’cause everything explodes.

Police interogates Coldyron with him being the only survivor and he’s just about to drive into the sunset when his old boss shows up and shoots him in a head with a riffle!!! That’s lesson for you all, don’t disrespect your boss at work or else!

We’re still waiting for this one!

 

Verdict: Combining different franchise elements ala Philip J. Roth ( A.P.E.X, Total Reality (1997)) with R.O.T.O.R.  we end up with a redneck version of RoboCop gone bad crossed with a healthy dose of The Terminator and a dash of Judge Dredd.  That doesn’t automatically make it bad,  but on the other hand- bad voicover, idiotic humor and nonsensical plot really don’t help it’ cause.

Director Cullen Blaine of the movie worked almost exclusively in animation and I can’t help but think that with over the top quality of this movie, it would work much better in the animated form. Even the name reminds me of the Saturday Mourning Cartoons (like the M.A.S.K etc). Maybe if we start a petition it’s still not too late to get that done, why do you think?

Trivia: Richard Gesswein plays Coldyron buth he’s dubbed with the voice of Loren Bivens that makes everything a bit surreal. And super- muscular Dr. Steel is played by Jayne Smith who’s only other credit is sequel of the erotic- parody of Flash Gordon, Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders (1990). How ’bout that?