Wednesday, September 30

Can't bring myself... watch the new A Nightmare on Elm Street trailer...just can't...

Just in: The Art of the Nasty, 2nd Edition

UPS just dropped Salvation/FAB Press's just released revised edition of Nigel Wingrove and Marc Morris' The Art of the Nasty at my door. I had never heard of the first edition from Redemption Books back in 1999. This hardcover 160-page book (1st edition was a paperback @ 140 pages) is billed as the most comprehensive collection of British video nastie and pre-cert video sleeves ever assembled. There's 450 front covers separated into the still banned nasties, "ban lifted" nasties, sleazy pre-certs, and "best of the rest" pre-certs categories. Each title is given a paragraph detailing various details like plot points, video/DVD re-issues, potential cuts, odd quirks, and best/worst picture. There's also an appendix featuring every release from the studios featured in the book in list form before the incredible piece of extreme state censorship known as the 1984 Video Recordings Act was passed. A revised and the original 1999 introductions from Wingrove start the book.

The glossy cover and page layout is extremely streamlined and attractive. Though all the "whiteness" might require kid gloves for heavy reference if one cares about the book's condition. There is overlap with FAB's Shock! Horror!: Astounding Artwork From The Video Nasty Era, but I'm noticing unique covers in both. Awesome artwork and you can see why they (negatively) caught the public's eye. If only there was an American VHS sleeve tome!

Tuesday, September 29

Evilution (2008)

Lock your door.

Directed by Chris Conlee
92 minutes / Black Gate Entertainment / Official Website

A scientist, Darren Hall (Eric Peter-Kaiser), somehow escapes an emergency eradication of a U.S. military base in Iraq (blamed on a suicide bomber in the newspapers) after a sudden outbreak of undead ravenous soldiers from a weaponized "intelligent" contagion he helped create. Darren still has a vial of what he deems as a "potentially" dangerous chemical and knows the military will try to track him down. He takes refuge in the basement of a decrepit apartment complex dubbed The Necropolitan which seems to have its own eerie history. A mixing pot of clientele inhabits the building and Darren soon falls into a budding relationship with a beautiful girl by the name of Mandy (Sandra Ramírez) and strikes up an uneasy acquaintance with a trio of Latino gangbangers.

Darren resumes his studies with the deadly neon orange solution on lab mice, despite the military sending a tough-as-nails sergeant (Gabriel, Tim Colceri) to recover him and the contagion, but finds a human test subject to re-animate when the head of the thugs is shot to death right outside the building. The injection takes, somewhat, with the shooting victim popping back to the land of the living...just a bit twitchy and glassy-eyed lethargic. Unfortunately for mankind, a local junkie (a very Sex Pistols-channeled Billy Morrison) walks right into Darren's unlocked pad as he's away "busy" with Mandy and takes the vial looking for a fix. Soon enough, both the infected junkhead and gangbanger are roaming the halls out for the blood of fresh victims, Gabriel corners Darren at gunpoint, The Necropolitan's odd manager couldn't care less, and worse-of-all Mandy is defenseless upstairs. Can Darren and company halt the lunatic dead before the human race falls to the hatred of Evilution?

Chris Conlee's Evilution snaps well into the often ballyhooed "sub-of-a-subgenre" of the speedy undead in predominantly slow zombiedom. So those with this strange aversion to running rot might want to step in with caution. Also those expecting a military-themed horror flick based on the poster art above and trailer (seen here) might find themselves solely disappointed. Though saying that, this slice of brain-free splattery fun has some very positive qualities apart from some rough patches.

Taking on the rocky issues first; the film is hobbled initially by several pressing questions surrounding our protagonist right from the get-go. How did Darren survive what looked like all-encompassing destruction of the base bombing? How did he end up at the apartment complex all the way from Iraq? What's up with the overtly creepy nature of The Necropolitan and its forcefully facetious caretaker (a wonderfully deadpan Nathan Bexton)? I probably just have OCD, but these questions bugged the hell out of me throughout. At times, I even thought pre-explosion Darren and post-explosion Darren were two different people, as he uses an alias in with the apartment occupants. Lastly, the film isn't exactly original being a hodgepodge of ideas and situations we've seen before (touches of Demons, Re-Animator, 28 Days Later, Resident Evil)--usually done better--but isn't that usually the case?

The good attributes are what pulls Evilution ahead of a good portion of other indie zombo endeavors. Eric Peter-Kaiser's Darren is likable in that bushy five 'o clock shadow John Krasinski-way with a touch of Jeffrey Combs as a man frustrated by the misunderstanding of his creation. Sandra Ramírez turns in an excellent performance as Mandy, perhaps the best of everyone, projecting an approachable infatuation for Darren with ease. This is especially impressive considering the scenes concerning their relationship are few and all her character is really based on is TIVO (you'll see). It's always nice to see a older tough guy come in and kick a ton of zombie ass and Tony Colceri's Gabriel looks like a case-hardened bulldog and even delivers a neck-breaking Stone Cold Stunner while using his body as a melee weapon during a quick hallway fist-to-decay battle. Also getting most of the funniest wisecracks (how do you know what ass popcorn tastes like?) are Noel Gugliemi and his on-screen gang cohorts Guillermo Díaz and James Duval. Also Jonathan Breck, or the man behind the mask in the Jeepers Creepers films, has a small role as Gabriel's commanding officer.

Aside from the performances, first time feature length director but long time editor Conlee and cinematographer Mathew Rudenberg do a great job of appropriately individualizing each sequence so as not to make the entire film feel blandly uniform. The best example is a warmly sensual yet tasteful lovemaking scene between Darren and Mandy being intercut with the Junkie in some dank and stark recess of the complex shooting up his final fix amongst the mouth-breathers. Brian J. Cavanaugh's editing is also snappy never seeming to drag and the action sequences are cut frantic but not to a degree you have no idea which direction is up. Alan Howarth's score even vaguely quotes John Harrison's hollow drum beats in Romero's Day of the Dead. I could have used more infected bloodlust (never enough), but what's present is thankfully devoid of shoddy CG. Big raspberry jam jars of practical splat explode and gush with glee; so there's no need to worry.

Despite the flaws, this is one hell of an entertaining ride and even with my initial reservations of seeing yet another undead indie; I'm glad I gave it a whirl. Great gore anchored by spirited performances and it's always nice to see no campy laughs shoehorned in merely to cover up or make up for any deficiencies. Just a straight up effort that aims to keep your ass planted in your seat.

Evilution will be available from BrinkDVD on DVD featuring a commentary by director Conlee with stars Kaiser and Ramírez and making-of featurette this coming November 17th, 2009.

Monday, September 28

I Come in Peace on DVD and is Fantastic!

While poking around for info while forming my thoughts on this fun sci-fi/hard action combination; I ran across this British DVD at Now, I've ordered from Amazon's Union Jack division quite a few times without a single hitch. This time was no different, as easy as the domestic and always surprisingly speedy despite traveling across the Atlantic (shipped last Tuesday). American accounts on work exactly the same way and there's even an instant currency conversion at checkout.

Just wanted to point this out for those with all-region DVD players since the e-tailer often has solid sales on horror, action, and cult discs. It just takes checking every so often and some digging through their listings. I Come in Peace (Dark Angel) is only $10.18 shipped and there's a whole slew of good stuff new and old for under $20USD shipped. Not to bust on stateside import e-tailers, but ordering direct from is almost always at least a few bucks cheaper than say Diabolik or Xploited. I've even seen certain discs for over half off what you'd pay a DVD importer. An example of the savings is Dead Snow, $26.99 shipped at Diabolik DVD, only $16.45 shipped from

As for MGM's Dark Angel DVD; it's bareboned but sports an anamorphic widescreen transfer. The picture quality is okay, looking as if created in 1997 as opposed to 2004. Watching it this way makes you realize how cramped the full screen VHS is. Here's a few screenshots for your Dolph enjoyment.

Sunday, September 27

A Few Sunday Entrails

Unsure why I'm even mentioning this since I intensely disliked the film, but Midnight Movie will be arriving to Blu-ray on October 13th. Though check your Wal Mart(s) if really interested; I found my location had a stack of copies in their New Blu-ray Releases section this morning for $10 a pop sitting with a few of Anchor Bay's horror BDs for the same price.

In other BD news, Blue Underground has announced Cameron Mitchell's 1978 formal headshot to his acting career, The Toolbox Murders, will be coming on January 10th, 2010.

Here's two awesome Mexican tapes I was outbid for on eBay last week, Cemetery of Terror and Satanico Pandemonium. Aren't they just dreamy?

This weekend's swap meet was a bust for movies, but I did manage to find a couple metal cassettes. Disregard the green demon. He tries to get into all my shots.

Some quick thoughts on Demon Wind (1990)

96 Minutes / Pegasus Entertainment U.K. DVD / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

Been very early '90s around here lately. A guy with friends in toe travels to his grandfather's home in the countryside to figure out why he hasn't heard from him. Upon arriving, they discover the cottage obliterated with bones scattered about. The odd thing is when crossing the front door's threshold that's only a barely standing facade; they enter the abandoned home as it once was. The group find their cars dead and a strange roaming fog transports them back to the ruins if they try to stray too far on foot. As night approaches they're attacked and possessed by demons one-by-one with only an incantation able to save those remaining.

Demon Wind is best described as sharing general plot similarity with The Evil Dead smashed into the shitty nature of Evil Clutch set against lush Welsh green hills with the protagonist morphing into George Francisco without the spots from Alien Nation during the climax. There's a real lack of zest to the cavorting demonic shenanigans in this flick, so it's nowhere near as fun as either of the two Evils mentioned above, despite a few really ripe lines. The wet 'n gooey demon make-up isn't bad, but don't expect too much arterial spray. Bonus three-quarters of a point for the lingering shot of a topless seductress MILF.

There's also an odd sense of the threadbare European artsy vibe experienced in films like Jack Be Nimble and Paperhouse. Though existential smatterings are not in this demon's wind, so we're left with a middle-of-the-road outing never terribly amusing and not concerned with atmospheric mindgames. Shame really, a little more push either way could have made Demon Wind a minor chestnut gem instead of a crap timewaster.

Saturday, September 26

Your Favorite On-Screen Undead Sequence?

Softly stealing content from BoGD's next of kin, HorrorTalk, I pondered this no-frills question recently brought up on their forum. It's a tough call. So many grand scenes of carnage run throughout our beloved albeit rotting subgenre. I'd have to say I especially admire the conclusion of Fulci's classic Zombie (1979). Which is strange to say since I literally fucking hated il maestro's answer to Romero's Dawn upon my first experience. I saw it only as a quickie cash-in and an unauthorized sequel to George's second shambler coming. Though my appreciation has grown immensely over the years with many repeat visits. Zombie undeniably has its own identity and fantastic attributes that makes it just as much of a classic as Dawn but on different grounds.

Its ending is simply awesome. After the bang of the fiery zombie hunt rumble, we find our three survivors making the trek across the seas back to civilization. Poor Al Cliver is fading fast after a bite and is locked in the cabin below upon his death. As West and Anne make the decision to head back to New York, a radio newsflash tells of a widespread invasion. The two look each other in disbelief as the "reawakened" Cliver is heard groaning and banging on the door with the handle jiggling. Fulci's camera slowly pulling back. Then we see close-ups of zombies stumbling down the Brooklyn Bridge's center walkway in a bit of completely unapproved by the city shooting. The newscaster screams as the zombies invade the station and the credits begin to roll over a long shot of the undead-riddled walkway to Frizzi's thumping theme.

Like I said, its simplicity is awesome. I'd say it trumps Dawn's conclusion in respect it doesn't present any "forced" drama like having one of the character's strangely ponder suicide only to abruptly kick a tight roomful of zombie ass (to goofy hero tuneage) to make an escape. Yea, never cared for that awkward bit. Certainly one of Fulci's most chilling wrap-ups and a great example of giving the audience's brains something to chew on as the lights fade up in the theater.

Pledge Night (1990)

Directed by Paul Ziller
90 Minutes / Imperial Entertainment / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

Shit, man. Continuing from yesterday with the raunchy fraternity prank/hazing week where the killer emerges from a toilet-motif, Pledge Night typifies "throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks."

Here's the story in brief. It's "hell week" for a fresh batch of pledges at a fraternity with a dark past of a pledge decades prior mistakenly melted and made dead from a bathtub of acid. The hazing gets so zany that when the drippy mutant returns from said latrine to kill again (through possession of the pledges) everyone believes it's all another joke.

Yeah, this is a pile of wishy-washy supernatural slasher backwash, seemingly cobbled together as the filmmakers went along. The first hour plays out like a piss poor riff of Animal House. Drunk groping of chicks, fugly stripper boobs, ass paddlings, ass cheek cherry races, and all that done-to-death crap. When the killing starts; it's not frightening in the least with the first possessed laughing like a hyena as he kills. The mutant then rips forth from the guy's chest and carries out a few kills before doing the Alien chestburster gag again to another poor soul. He's not scary either looking like a metal punk with pizza smeared on his face birthed from an '80s Mexican horror cheapie. The kills aren't even that bloody (looks oddly "painted on dry") or exciting, but the film is rated R after all. Don't even get me started on the headshaking last twist between the final guy/killer pizza dude. Oh yea, music by Anthrax and cameo by lead Joey Belladonna as the young pledge before his date with the mighty caustic loofah. Skip completely or FF to the 1:08:34 mark.

the best 56 seconds, video from upallnightvideos

VHS Picture: 6/10
VHS Sound: 7/10

Blind Faith (1989)

Directed by Dean Wilson
86 Minutes / AEC Video (American Entertainment Co.) / 1.33:1 Full Frame

IMDB synopsis, presumably by the writer/director himself: Based upon the true story of Philadelphia sex killer Gary Heidnik, BLIND FAITH follows the investigation of his grisly crimes through the eyes of Detective Will Lindsay (Erik Gunn) and criminal psychologist Richard Stroud (Kevin Yon). The movie focuses upon police interviews with escaped victim Sandy (Lynne Browne), the killer's mentally handicapped accomplice Cole (Kirk Swenk) and ultimately, the killer himself, Ted Partridge (David Winick).

Gary Heidnik / David Winick as Ted Partridge

That is essentially this shot-on-video feature in a tidy nutshell. I assume due to budgetary reasons, the majority of the runtime is spent with these three interviews, but "devil is in the details." Both the detective and psychologist have problems at home. Lindsay (whose name is one of Heidnik's victims) has a nymphomaniac for a wife who he can't control and the alcoholic Stroud has an unruly daughter. As the feature unfolds, especially in the interview with Partridge, this eats at detective Lindsay as details of the killer's hatred towards women comes to light. He begins to identify with Partridge and this sickly feeling ultimately leads him to where the bodies are hidden.

interrogating Cole

Sandy, the only victim Partridge might have let go instead of escaping, may not be wholly innocent. She gives hints of being forced or even willingly killing with her captor. Both Sandy and partner Cole state Partridge had a certain power over them (partly influenced by his wealth) as with the others under a "church" he constructed with him as their deity.

Reading over the abhorrent true story of Gary Heidnik, Wilson's film seems to stick close to the case with certain changes (like having an accomplice) probably made so as not to be sued by the families involved. Interestingly, the film was produced the same year the murderer was convicted and sentenced to death. Partridge isn't either of these things yet with the cops still trying to piece the entire picture together.

The acting across the board is to an unusually high standard for an '80s SOV horror effort (no idea why the IMDB lists this as "Action"). Literally everyone sells their role with conviction and nary even say a single line that sounds "off" or delves into soap histrionics. Gunn and Winick are especially impressive as they butt heads at the end of Partridge's questioning. There are convincing flashes of the graphic violence wrought upon the kidnapped women including stabbings, shootings, and slashings. Wilson's direction isn't flashy and likes framing faces so they fill the screen during dialogue deliveries. It looks like after this film Wilson become a property master for a slew of films and television productions. Sad, actually.

I don't want to sound like I'm purposely propping up this very obscure flick just to "rub it in", but Blind Faith is surprisingly great and far more deserving than a mere 3.6 over at the IMDB. If you ever find a copy, snag it without hesitation. The combination of the quality acting, direction, and true life ties for being a late '80s SOV feature is pretty incredible.

VHS Picture: 6/10
VHS Sound: 6/10

Friday, September 25

Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991)


Directed by John Carl Buechler
94 Minutes / Vestron Video / Unmatted Full Frame

During college prank week, a professor interested in the occult (Ragnar, Kevin McCarthy) confiscates a comic book, entitled Ghoulish Tales, from a student which has the power to summon the ghoulies once again. After a few false starts, Ragnar finally makes the pint-sized hellions flesh from the bowels of a custom ghoulie-etched toilet. Once learning of the pranks, the ghoulies begin dispensing their own brand of destructive hijinks (along with drinking 2,001 beers and Drain-O) which only escalates the war between the fraternities. Meanwhile, the leader of the frathouse, Skip (Evan MacKenzie), is having girl trouble with his former squeeze dating the leader of the preps. Ragnar just gets crazier-and-crazier as he discovers the power he wields being the ghoulies master. Soon Skip and girlfriend fall under the beady eyes of the slimy demons.

Certainly one for the inebriated. The ghoulies talk in this one, which was surprising with the growling and meowing of the two prior flicks. Their personalities mimic The Three Stooges with the green buff one being Moe, the hairy cat-like one Curly, and the hairy snoutted-one gets stuck with all the work like Larry. They also constantly spew a stream of mildly amusing quips and whack each other about their heads (complete with bonehead sound effects), but sometimes can be hard to understand as they talk over each other.

If that sounds overly comical--it is. Buechler thoroughly steeps his sequel in a more comic than horror tone. The few deaths are bloodless by goofball means such as plunger, stretched tongue, and toilet flush. One aspect noticeably pumped up, not that I mind, are the boobs and butts, even staging a panty raid night with plenty of topless babes bouncing around...or showering. It's always fun seeing Kevin McCarthy play the sweaty nutter and the cartoonish score eerily echoes Peter Dasent's work from Peter Jackson's Braindead (Dead Alive). Not that funny, but it's all innocuous enough to warrant at least one watch.

VHS Picture: 6/10
VHS Sound: 6/10

Geez...Kelly Nichols is Saleen Hot in '78's Toolbox Murders

That is all, and yes, I'm branding "saleen" as next step beyond "ultra".

Thursday, September 24

Field Cassette Spot Checking

Real or fake? ...fake.

You're out and about trolling ze old boxes once again and you discover a potentially great find, but the seller wants a fairly larger sum than what most "regular" people want for tapes. Say you happen upon a good condition big box of Lunch Meat (or any older VHS release) for $30 at a swap meet. Still a decent price considering its rarity, but you understandably want to be as sure as possible. What signs could you use to identify whether the actual cassette is legit and not a duplicate merely by looking at it? Here's some tips from BoGD to help you not get ripped off.

First off, here's a common example of "prime era" T-120 cassette from 1985. The film is Vestron's release of Sudden Death from the same year with the face label gone due to age. Notice the tape flap at the top is a tan color instead of the usual black. This variation seems to have been popular exclusively in the '80s (to my knowledge), but black was used as well.

Notice the key-shaped hole in the upper center on the back panel. early cassette types, like late '70s through 1984ish, utilized the smaller hole as a plastic mold "break-off" point. Instead of a tiny screw, you'd see what looks like an soft serve ice cream "tit" from the mold injection machine. Sometimes this mold point will appear "burnt" from a VCR capstan pin crushing it. So naturally if you're scoping out a title from those years and see this "tit", chances are the tape is the genuine article.

Also on the back center right is a little oval indent stating "Made in Japan." This is another good indicator as most tapes after about the late '80s stopped filling his indent with a country of origin leaving it simply blank. You'll also see "Made in U.S.A."

That cassette doesn't feature any, but old types like those with a break-off point usually also have maker marks on the back. Examples are rubber stamping with numbers or words/numbers literally burned into the plastic. The tape flap above states "FUJI", this is another maker mark you only tend to see on old tapes. As VHS become mainstream and ho-hum, it no longer mattered to the consumer who manufactured the cassette.

The spine might yield another sign. The above pic is the left end of a cassette spine with another mark and denotation of the tape's length right above the copy tab. Again, older tapes tend to have this, sometimes "etched" into the plastic, while newer ones don't.

Remember as well, the labeling schemes video companies employed seemed to have "switched" over time. Early tapes sometimes didn't originally have a label on the front face of the tape, but had a label on the spine. "Middle-aged" tapes featured both face and spine labels. Later tapes dropped the spine label completely.

Finally, old tapes just seem to feel heavier and more solid in your hand. Modern blanks feel flimsy, lighter, and often carry a "glossier" appearance than older, duller cassettes. Also, it's good to familiarize yourself with the differences between SP and EP speed tapes. VHS releases from nearly all studios in the '80s/early '90s were predominantly recorded at SP speed and thus have more tape on their reels and feel heavier. All of these signs aren't hard set rules, more a generalization of trends, and there are always exceptions. Though I hope these will assist you in your hunting and perhaps save you from an expensive mistake.

Wednesday, September 23

BoGA Update!

Ride that Boga, you poor excuse for a prequerilogy!

My "little review dump", Basement of Ghoulish Archive, has finally been updated. All the flick reviews, quick flick thoughts, and meatier articles have gotten refreshed up to today's date. I've also sectioned off all the prior (and future) tape-centric articles into a new link list dubbed Half Inch Pablum. So enjoy looking through all my old crap!

To celebrate, awesome video.

Tuesday, September 22

Some quick thoughts on The Russian Specialist (2005)

A.K.A. The Mechanik / 94 Minutes / Sony Home Entertainment

"Lundgren plays Nick Cherenko, a former Special Forces soldier forced to leave his home in Russia and escape to Los Angeles when ruthless gangsters kill his wife and son. Living a simple life as an auto mechanic, Nick is offered a hefty reward to go back to Russia to retrieve a wealthy woman's kidnapped daughter. Nick is not interested, until he finds out that the kidnapper is the same mob boss who killed his family. "

Another day, 'nother excursion into Dolphdom (well, the last day for a while). Only this time fifteen years removed from yesterday with both the story and direction handled by the man himself. This is Lundgren's second directorial attempt (first was 04's The Defender) and while there are slivers of positive, boy, this DTV generic available-at-Wal Mart actioner really flirts with viewer torture for around 70 minutes of its duration.

"Dolph, just shut up and look badass, I'll carry the remaining 86 minutes..."

I included the synopsis from the back of the DVD above to illustrate the film's chief issue. That little write-up covers literally about the first ten minutes, after that Cherenko meets up with a British-accented gun-for-hire/informant and a team of ever-so-Eastern European strikeforce/guys wearing thick leather jackets. Then prepare to witness the British informant (Ben Cross) come dangerously close to stealing the lead marquee from Lundgren. It's not that Cross "steals the show"; the screenplay elevates a character that would barely say a single word in better action films. There's nothing special about the character and Cross does little to change that. Just the same grizzled, twitchy, alcoholic, and Earth-tone wearing "guy on the inside" we've seen before in the background of films like Ronin.

Lundgren has maybe half
the lines as Cross and just barely need be in the film at all. Cross's character knows where the crime boss is, sets up the strike team, provides the resources (guns), and knows what to do once they recapture the kidnapped woman. When I see a Lundgren action vehicle, especially one that exists solely on his name, I want to see Lundgren and Lundgren alone breaking deluxe with fist and gun--not some Brit piss ant whose only reason to tag along is because the crime boss entrapped a whore he's smitten with. At a certain point, Dolph hops on a dirt bike and Cross says "I'm not getting on that!", but does anyway. Dammit.

Super blown out picture in slo-mo = Good direction.

Here's what really makes the initial 70 minutes so laborious. Lundgren ripped out a good many pages from Modern Gimmicky Filmmaking, Revised Edition and employs what he's learned with glee. We're subject to slow motion, sped-up frames, wonky color, fade outs, flashbacks, and frantic Bourne-like action editing. These tactics are used to such a degree everything becomes a wash of stagnant headache assistance. I've heard this film likened to hard boiled 70's action, but I fail to see how in the haze of all this useless flash.

Play it again, Sam

Finally, on a good note, the above makes the final twenty minutes an anomalous breath of fresh air. Cherenko and mates face off against the boss and henchmen in a Peckinpah-eqse stand off followed by a cat-and-mouse hunt in an isolated farming village. Things get real quiet with all the overactive camera glitter deadening (like flipping a switch), but its slow simplicity should act as a lesson to director Lundgren. You watch every second as everyone stalks about without checking your watch or uncomfortably squirming. If the rest of the film wasn't such a pain; this conclusion with a satisfying sense of vengeance would be even greater. As it stands, Lundgren ends The Mechanik with a quick patch to a save a little face, but one's tolerance for these DTV gunplay copy-and-pastes must be far greater than mine to enjoy the whole runtime.

Monday, September 21

Some quick thoughts on I Come in Peace (1990)

A.K.A. Dark Angel / 92 Minutes / Media Entertainment

If I wanted to be mean, this straight forward sci-fi action blend between a little of The Hidden, a little of the intergalactic guns/wardrobe of Critters, exploding cars every six minutes, a blind seven foot Tom Everett/Christopher Lambert look-alike alien with brain sucking gadgetry, and Dolph still a bit loopy from The Punisher would be easy prey. I Come in Peace is a ramshackle assemblage of half baked ideas that gets by on the last three things noted in the last sentence. Just brimming with cliché and featherweight characters/aspects employed solely for its meager plot advancement. Not to mention potentially juicy ideas wrapped around a sorely underused good alien cop also on the trail casted to the wayside.

But then again, if I really meant such things, I'd be asking for a Lundgren roundhouse and while my body is twitching on the floor, he'd be lecturing me on the simple genius of Pythagoras' theorem in relation to the understanding of advanced engineering. So my mouth is shut. Even if the above paragraph is true, I Come in Peace is still enormously entertaining at being a brisk little slice of late term 80's goofy action and explosion overkill with a cinema fantastique lime twist.

Powered by a lethargically one-dimensional Dolph (just how we like him), fresh off Action Jackson director Baxley accomplishes the basic premise of cop Drago versus the big bad alien drug dealer, but little else. That's fine since the film is only aiming to work under the promise to deliver it's key art. Don't expect any expounding upon the story's few threads pertaining to the implications of the feds trying to contact the alien or the devastation wrought by an invasion. Just grab some Heinekens and enjoy Lundgren throwing out one-liners ("fuck you, spaceman!"), a host of "that guys" including Sherman "Bub" Howard, Michael Pollard, and Al Leong, and a whole junkyard's worth of vehicular destruction by a hulking man-alien who simply utters "I come in peace."

Sunday, September 20

My biggest gripe with Venom (2005)

I consider this number a fairly underrated if familiar backwoods (well, bayou) slasher. It initially took a long time to see it myself and upon watching it again last night I still find its central issue being the character of Ray Sawyer. The film's tagline is "He never hurt a soul until the day he died." and there's a certain power in that notion, but the story squanders most hope by making the pre-monstrous Sawyer a pretty frightening dude complete with facial scar, tats, a tow/monster truck, and a grimy pissed off disposition. He's quietly ridiculed by the film's protagonist teens, and even though courageous in his saving of the old voodoo woman, also given to nefarious greed that ultimately seals his fate with the curse.

Taking the tagline back into consideration, it would have been potentially much more powerful if the curse infected a more kindly character. Drop the "town scary guy" crap (which probably sounded great on paper) and cast the tow truck driver as a genuinely nice older man. Maybe have the character have a long history with one of the lead teens. Then once cursed, have the affliction bring locked away memories of violence brought upon him or others (perhaps in 'Nam?) back to the surface. Have that be the fuel for his "venomous" revenge. It's a small change but if done correctly could have pushed the film a little above par than its current "average at best" standing.

Otherwise, it's not bad; it's not great. Credit has to go to the filmmakers for trying to introduce a new slasher icon of sorts (but then again Craven tried to have us do the Shockdance), even if he's still not fleshed out well after the transformation into Mr. Zombo Snake Man. It's also nice to see the most annoying character gorily impaled on a tree and director Gillespie use the 2.35 :1 widescreen framing quite well. This flick seems perfect for a still non-realized DTV sequel series. Check it out if you have nothing better to see, but don't pay nutty prices I'm seeing online for the DVD.
. you dare tread upon the staircase?

Basement of Ghoulish Decadence, Basement of Ghoulish Archive, and all original material Copyright © 2009-present by Jayson Kennedy. All rights reserved.