Posts Tagged ‘Charles Band’

If you know the name of Charles Band, you know what to expect when you see his name in the credits as the executive producer.  His studio, known as Empire Pictures ( which would later change to Full Moon Entertainment) made quite a few low budget schlock horror films in the 1980s, including such notable ones as Troll and Dungeonmaster.  The stories were anemic, but the special effects were good for such cheap productions, making them adequate fodder for video rentals and late night cable staples for the horror-loving junkies (such as we). This time we are taking a stab into his, several years too late, a “New Wave” horror film.

The premise of the film revolves around a contest put on by music station R-TV (Rock Television), whereby seven lucky winners are taken up to an old Italian castle in order to compete for a chance to win a million dollars, while also rubbing shoulders with stuck-up, alcoholic rock superstar, Cassandra Castle (played by Bunty Bailey). The only rules are that they can’t leave the castle for any reason or they will be disqualified, and they are discouraged from damaging anything on the property. For this momentous undertaking, R-TV sends their most popular VJ Rex (played by Richard Blade), but only one camera. At this point the movie seems to be nothing more than one long 80s music video. To add to this claim, contestants are consisted of 5 blonde girls, one ugly guy and one gay looking Italian. And they are all too anxious to start their search for the hidden check.

You rang?

The owner of this castle is certain person with appropriate name of Senor Diablo. Obviously evil servant welcomes contestants to the castle and takes them to a tour in which they can see a statue that will clearly come alive. Also someone is watching them through crystal ball. Anyway, they are accommodated each in their own room. Italian guy Tony (played by Marcello Modungo) starts hitting on everything that has two legs and tits. The ugly fat guy Harlan (played by Michael Zorek) started eating the moment after he unpacked his stuff. Myrna (played by Martha Demson) has brought rifle with herself (she is safari lunatic). Tom (played by Harold P Pruett) and Jackie (played by Gail O’Graidy) are making plans to search together for the check (naturally, they are brother and sister), while Teri (played by KIm Ulrich) just dances in front of sinister looking painting.

Now this is the art

Although the contest officially starts tomorrow all of the contestants decided to bend the rules and start their search for the check the very same night. All but Harlan who came down just because he got night munchies. Boy, he likes food. Yvette (played by Traci Linn), on the other hand, is much more hungry for a money. She seduces Rex into giving her a clue of where the check should be (she doesn’t know it is hidden between Cassandra’s tits). Slutty approach always gives some results. Hey, everything is allowed while cameras are off. And they will stay off since camera crew never got to castle. I don’t want to spoil your fun so check below for what happened to them.

 

Following the clue she got from Rex (the check is hidden somewhere on the first floor), Yvette started her search. But she has no clue about what is actually going on. She takes a break and sits on some antique chair. Which devours her! Meanwhile, always drunk Cassandra stumbles into basement where she finds a big pile of skeletons. Which also came alive. Everything in this castle is something. But, unlike Yvette, she lived to talk about that. Of course that no one would believe her. She is such an alcoholic that when Rex angrily spilled her liquor she started licking the floor.

 

The game has officially started. Everybody is looking everywhere. That’s good excuse for Tony to enter the rooms where girls are. He found the check but got distracted by Cassandra’s nudity. She took that opportunity to hide it once again while evil servant was kicking Tony’s ass out of the room. But the check has it’s own ways. It is controlled by Senor Diablo through a crystal ball. And Tony must pay for his rude behavior. The check flies out onto the top of the castle while Tony is pursuing it without paying much attention where he steps. How this scene ended I think all of you can presume.

 

While everybody is running around like insane Harlan takes this opportunity to do what he likes the most – to eat. He orders and gets entire pig for himself. Soon after he is convinced into validity of old saying “You are what you eat”. That’s right, my friends. With just one swift move of the hand above crystal ball Harlan was turned into a pig! I would say that he doesn’t look much different now in his new form. Teri sees him and runs away into her room where she gets devoured by creature from the picture. I believe it was Satyr. Anyway, she wasn’t the only one who ended her search in her own room. Camera girl Jamie (played by always charming Dale Wyatt) was strangled by electric snake her camera produced! She ain’t so pretty no more. Nor is Myrna, who became prey instead of hunter. At least she killed that fat guy who had turned into a pig.

 

The only remaining girl Jackie stumbles upon a secret Senor Diablo’s (played by Adam Ant) hideout. There he explains to her that he is a demon and that all those who had fallen to his vicious spell casting are down in hell. Meanwhile, Tom had finally managed to score something. And that person is Cassandra. Let’s see…drunk, scared, washed-up rock star, with low self-esteem. Easy target. She decides to burn the check in a fireplace but instead the check scorched her (?). So she appears at Senor Diablo. It turns out that Cassandra had traded her soul in exchange for becoming rock star. Also, she was bound to bring to Senor Diablo more fresh souls. Wanting to save her brother Tom, Jackie offers her souls in exchange for Tom’s safety and million dollars. A lot of dumb, unconvincing dialogs occur followed by awful acting. Eventually, Cassandra takes the gun and shoots crystal ball, thus forcing Diablo to reveal his true form. Every contestant is alive again and walks into the room. It seems that Cassandra has made a new contract, and Senor Diablo is now new VJ, Cyril St. Michael. What a stupid ending.

 

Conclusion: Spellcaster’s attractive cast, impressive effects and make-up, and relatively light delivery are about the only aspects of the film that make it watchable schlock for those who enjoy cheesy, b-movie horror. The plot of the film isn’t very well thought out at all.  It’s not quite clear how people could win the contest, but even if it were explained, the chance that a brother and sister could both win out of (presumably) millions of entries is ridiculous to believe. It’s amazing how many ideas were squandered in the making of this film.  For a movie centering around an MTV-like international music channel, it boasts almost no music whatsoever. I stayed through the closing credits and counted two generic-sounding songs used in the film, both sung by artists I’ve never heard of. They say you can’t have too much of a good thing, but apparently, Charles Band can’t get too much of a bad thing.  He would repeat the movie’s basic premise again in 1990 in Meridian (two American students go to Italy when one inherits a castle, and strange things occur), and in 1995 with Castle Freak (an American couple and their daughter inherit a castle in Italy, where strange things occur).  There may be others, but with hundreds of movies to his name, I don’t have the diligence to do the research.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Band owns the castle in question.  A man’s home is his castle and his castle, his movie set.

After the hit documentary  Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films , we  present you another promising B-movie documentary– produced and directed by Daniel Griffith covering a very interesting company- Charles Band’s  Empire Production! Now, even if you don’t remember the name I’m sure you’ll remember some of their hits.

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Empire Pictures started with limited released such as Swordkill and Dungeonmaster, followed by a string of actual theatrical hits like Reanimator and Ghoulies and also Trancers.

EmpirePictures“2,000 movies by the year 2000!” Well, not really…

Unfortunately it all came crushing down just 5 years later after a scandal with their main financier Credit Lyonnais (a French bank  that was outed for it’s predatory lending practices and actively trying to conceal Empire’s pile of debts from other creditors). It all ended in a mess of lawsuits, and the company was bought out by newly founded Epic Pictures Entertainment with Band leaving to found Full Moon Entertainment which is despite a break of some years still active!

You can enjoy the trailer right here.

 

You can check out the successful Kickstarter campaign here kickstarter.com/projects/ballyhoomotionpics/celluloid-wizards-in-the-video-wasteland  and also follow them along  on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/empirepicturesdocumentary

Ah one of the movies dedicated to the techboom era (apart of Weird Science) who glamour computers as a almighty machines capable of changing even a space-time continuum. Also, this one is from back in days when Charles Band still made great *cough* movies. Ok to be honest, Charles Band here had a help of pretty much everybody he is worked with that has some directing skills. But more about that later.

And many more to comeAnd many more to come

On the very start we see nerdy Paul Bradford (played by bulky Jeffrey Byron), a self-proclaimed Xerox machine A-class troubleshooter who is able to diagnose a malfunction with just plain looking at machine through his futuristic glasses (which looks the same as just any other nerdy thick glasses). Paul, like any other nerd, watches over his physique so he starts jogging after his work hours. Somewhere along the way he meets a flower girl and decides to buy a bouquet. The fact that his wallet is completely empty (not even a personal documents in it) doesn’t concern him because he has glasses! A couple of seconds looking into ATM machine is enough for hacking it and taking amount of money enough to buy a flowers. And for whom is that flowers? For his girlfriend Gwen (played by Leslie Wing) of course, because every nerd has a girlfriend fitness instructor. When Gwen comes home he asks her to marry him. Normally, that is not a reason for a girl to go mad like Gwen did but these are not an ordinary circumstances. The reason why she got pissed off is that that marriage proposal suggestion came from Paul’s experimental computer named Cal. Paul listens to and talks to his computer much more often than he should have. Anyway, Gwen and
Paul go to bed earlier that night and that’s mistake they shouldn’t have made. Because while they were asleep they got teleported to another dimension through Paul’s glasses! Just like that! A moments later Gwen gets captured and Paul finds himself running through the wilderness wearing a medieval clothes, Then a mysterious wizard appears in front of him and reveals that he is responsible for teleportation. Why? Because he believes that Paul is worthy opponent for him. Wizard introduces himself as Prince of Darkness Mestema (played by Richard Moll), who is impressed by “magic” of machines and holds Paul as a master of technology. He also places 7 challenges which Paul must pass in order to release Gwen from captivity. For that Mestema had granted Paul all time access to his computer, by placing chips onto Paul’s arm. So basically, it is a never-ending fight between magic and technology.

MagicMagic

Before he could get what’s going on Paul got teleported (see the picture above) to his first task. He wakes up in wilderness and finds that funny looking dwarves have stolen his strap-on arm computer. He follows them to some cave entrance when he finds his machine left by dwarves. Suspecting nothing he takes and turns his back to go away. But it was a trap! A huge stone giant who was sitting above cave entrance come to life by ridiculous, cheesy stop motion. Giant starts chasing Paul through the jungle. After couple of minutes Paul got bored of playing hide and seek with giant so he destroys him by plain shooting
laser beam to red crystal located above giant’s eyes. First challenge completed.

Much worse stop-motion than Harry Hausen was doing in 1950s

Paul is back to original another dimension. There he engaged into verbal fight with Mestema eventually accepting his game (though it is not he has any other choice). Puff (by which I am referring to more of poor animation and effects) and he is teleported to his second task. Now he is in cave where he meets the caretaker of the dead. Dead people here look more like retarded horned orcs (a reason more why you should try to stay alive as long as possible). Anyway, Paul easily finishes with this challenge with a help of more cheesy stop motion, animation and laser beams. Ok back to Mestema.

This is who awaits you when you dieThis is who awaits you when you die

Time for intermission after second round, Location: Mestema’s dimension. Also it is first time where we have displayed powers of both technology and magic in one scene. To cut the story short below you can enjoy this masterpiece of animation:

After a short discussion with Mestema about musical tastes Paul gets puffed to his third challenge. Now he finds himself at performance of death metal band named Wasp. They also got Gwen tied up on a stage and, like any other metal band, they want to sacrifice her during their performance. Ha what a showmen they are! Cannibal Corpse eat yourself! Of course, Paul doesn’t like the idea of his girlfriend being butchered in public so he disintegrates them using a high frequency sound (!?).

This is how  you  can fight vs death metal musicThis is how you can fight vs death metal music

The 4th challenge takes place in some sort of vex museum. Every criminal in the world is there. Genghis Khan, Jack the Ripper, werewolf, Einstein… It starts snowing in that room and, like you could guess, every figure comes to life. Logically, Gwen has been taken by Jack the Ripper (no surprise there – she is dressed like a slut). Paul had some problems fighting with Genghis Khan but he slipped away and destroyed entire gang by throwing a crystal Albert Einstein held in hand. Makes sense, since old Albert is clearly a criminal mastermind.

Not fair! They didn't have electro shocks back in Genghis Khan daysNot fair! They didn’t have electro shocks back in Genghis Khan days

After this Mestema’s belief in victory got shaken a bit. So he offers Paul a freedom and piles of gold in exchange for letting Gwen to stay in his dimension. Paul was dumb enough to reject this offer without thinking about it (I would take the gold and walk away). With such self-confidence boost (which came from his own stupidity) Paul had managed to beat the rest of the challenges consisted of escaping the police after being accused of series of murders of women, wrestling a demon and fighting with nomads tribes in Mad Max vehicles on a post apocalyptic warfare. He even managed to beat Mestema in 1vs1 fight by throwing him to volcano despite the fact that the Prince of Darkness is much larger than him and possesses dark powers. Paul and Gwen get teleported back to their own dimension just in time for their wedding so we get a happy end worth every judging.

And for all you nerds out there  these are a kind a chicks you are entitled onAnd for all you nerds out there  these are a kind of chicks you are entitled on

Conclusion: Yup, nothing can stand in a way of technological progress. Not even a demonic wizard with strange and mysterious powers. That would be a message this movie sends to it’s viewers. Plot is so imaginative that it took 7 directors and even more writers to build it. That’s probably the reason why it gets incoherent from time to time. On account of acting I can’t be too harsh since we were actually able to see occasional decent acting. Unlike the costumes though. Those probably were stolen from some kid’s Halloween house party and from other movie sets. If you love excessive doses of 1980s cheese then this is the movie for you because that’s what will you get while watching this. 70 minutes of cheap, cheesy fun, bad special effects and poor attempts of stop-motion. Just don’t expect any Dungeons & Dragons involving here.

Being a huge Jeffrey Combs fans as we are we couldn’t possibly miss the opportunity to watch this “masterpiece” which was previously believed to be a lost adaptation of H.P.Lovecraft’s short story. Of course, this is  nonsense, just like everything else related to movie adaptations of Lovecraft’s stories. The truth is, synopsis on this short movie is based on Lovecraft’s letter to his friend Bernard Austin Dwyer in which author describes the strange dream he had had. The letter was published in the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales as a short story (yup, false advertising at it’s best) after Lovecraft’s death.

evilclergymanartUnleashed! Unleashed!

In 1987 director Charles Band decides to sex-up this “story” and make a short movie out of it. Of course, Jeffrey Combs is the obvious choice for a leading role. The plot is very simple:  a woman visits the home of her deceased lover, a clergyman Jonathan (played by Jeffrey Combs) who, as you may have guessed from the title, has many sins on his soul, including but not limited to- a murder.

Over the next 20- something minutes said  Brady (played by Barbara Crampton) is  tormented, both physically and mentally, seduced and molested by Combs’s spirit (while his malevolent intent is obvious just beneath the surface). The Archbishop of Canterbury (played by David Warner) shows up and tries to warn Brady but to no avail. Combs can’t be stopped. Catastrophically designed human-faced rat (David Gale, also know as the beheaded Dr. from Reanimator) shows up, mostly just to taste a bit of Brady’s ass but eventually he shares a passionate kiss with the Clergyman. After the kiss- the rat dies.

VTS_03_1[22-33-36]Her ass before the meeting with the Rat-Man

Eventually, she gives in, and gives him a blowjob to dead Jonathan while he was hanging from the ceiling (hey, while in Rome…). She paid with her life for it but got resurrected and she actually manages to escape the haunted attic, just without a small thing such as her soul. At least in the end she really insulted the Biblically old landlady who remarked that she was much more beautiful than her when she was young.

vlcsnap-2015-02-06-00h14m15s52True Love

Conclusion: This movie is unique with the fact that this is Lovecroft adaptation not related to Brian Yuzna or Stuart Gordon. Imagined as Dreams of the Witchhouse- part II it invites an open comparison to “Re-Animator,” featuring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, and David Gale. In both films, Gale menaces Crampton while naked, her nude backside getting kissed by the man-faced rat.

VTS_03_1[22-21-25]That Ass

The only that separates this from Yuzna’s efforts is surprisingly eery score composed by Richard Band (?). He menages to convey more horror then all the other members of the cast combined!