When George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney back in 2012 many breathed a sigh of relief. Even though Lucas was the creator of the immensely popular space opera the reaction his prequel trilogy received was mixed to say the least. A majority of criticism stemmed from the over reliance on green screen and digital effects rather focusing on the grand story telling aspect that made the original films a beloved sci-fi series. Plus the wooden acting and clunky dialogue certainly didn’t help either.
George ultimately decided to give Star Wars back to the fans and let the next generation of young film makers reignite that spark of excitement in all of us who enjoy time and time again traveling to that galaxy far, far away. While Episode VII: The Force Awakens went back to many of the techniques the classic trilogy employed I felt like it stepped into the same foot prints of A New Hope without taking the risk of deviating from a set path and didn’t challenge itself to be different. The other reason I didn’t get behind The Force Awakens as others is we’ve had six movies devoted to the Skywalker lineage the time is right to go explore other avenues of the force.
What gets me excited now that Disney owns the property is the decision that in between the main saga films fans are going to get spin offs that will focus on side characters or various other elements in a limitless universe. The first stand alone, Rogue One, is set to be released in theaters in less then a month and will tell the story of how the rebels were able to get their hands on the Death Star plans. My initial thoughts were for the most part skeptical towards the idea until it was announced that Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) had signed on to direct. While a select few were lukewarm to Edwards’ interpretation of the king of the monsters there is no denying that the man has a keen eye for delivering breathtaking visuals as well as a grand sense of scale. You couldn’t ask for a better choice to direct a stand alone film as every trailer for Rogue One captures the style of the original trilogy in stunning perfection. Having that sheer scope mixed with classic Stormtroopers is enough for me to buy a ticket opening night but if there was any other reason to get on board its the big screen return of the iconic Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader.
Nowadays one can’t simply be a Star Wars fan without checking out the official tie-in novel. Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel serves as a prequel to the prequel (if that makes any sense) and from the 14 chapters I’ve made my way through thus far its a fascinating/involving read well worth looking into before heading out to the theater on December 16th. I might delve into the novel a bit more on here once I’ve finished it and we’ve all had time to dissect Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the new year approaches. You can pick up your copy of Catalyst by clicking on the book artwork below.
This evening history will be written as the Chicago Cubs enter their first World Series in 71 years. I like so many others am a devoted fan of those lovable losers and will be away from the computer as I soak in every moment hoping that the Cubs will be one step closer to attaining their first World Series championship in over 100 years.
For those of you who are not baseball fans you’ll most likely remember Breeders 1997 from last year’s Schlocktoberfest. Popcornflix.com has the entire film up for streaming so if you’re willing to risk killing a few brain cells maybe you’ll manage to gain more entertainment value from it than I originally did. I’d highly suggest having some form of alcoholic beverage on hand to immobilize any pain you might suffer. Somehow I managed to get through Breeders ’97 in one viewing without having to enter a drunken stupor so I wish everyone who’s up to the challenge the very best of luck!
Embedding the video directly into this blog post didn’t work as I had hoped. Instead please click on the artwork which will open a new tab where you can sit back and enjoy this headache inducing mess. In the words of former professional wrestler Perry Saturn – You’re welcome!
Synopsis: After a mysterious blackout, a son goes out to investigate and captures footage of actual aliens. When the aliens follow him and his brothers back to their home, all hell breaks loose.
Presented around the same time when the X-Files was the hottest show on television Alien Abduction: Incident In Lake County brought a lot to the table in terms of delivering a creepy little sci-fi feature. It tends to throw every alien/UFO cliche at viewers from cattle mutilations to ray guns to exploring the missing time paradox. Like so many other found footage movies the acting is fairly atrocious but than again when it involves spur of the moment dialogue a majority of actors will just end up using improv as their best friend. The production unfortunately suffers from horrible pacing due to the fact that even though there are a lot of weird things happening the director couldn’t make the film itself more interesting even if he had E.T. stop on by with an entire 30 pack of Coors. At the time it premiered Alien Abduction: Incident In Lake County definitely was a hot topic between people trying to decide whether it was authentic or a complete hoax. I didn’t see it when it initially aired on UPN but if I had I would have known right away that it was a hoax considering a young Emmanuelle Chriqui (who starred in an episode Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? before this and more recently went on be featured in the show Entourage) was one of the family members ‘abducted’. Not to mention when both the aliens are listed in the closing credits you tend to wonder why they have human names. I guess even in Hollywood it’s the best way to get noticed and hopefully find future work.
The build up to the big reveal is downright laughable as the VHS version I’ve seen has family members sitting at the dining room table eating turkey when all of a sudden a couple little green men come in and abduct everyone while the kid who was filming the night’s festivities is literally having a conniption fit. From what I’ve read the original television ending was a lot more satisfying as the teenager gave a sort of last will and testament knowing he probably wouldn’t make it through the night. He then pans around to catch a glimpse of an alien coming right at him and the tape freezes. The family as a whole are rather annoying and once weird occurrences start happening the group of females ask one another what is going on outside while the males decide to pack some heat and go out and check the perimeter while trying to get to their truck so that way they can get everyone to safety. Of course any logical form of thinking doesn’t happen and quite honestly I actually wonder if the MacPhearson family was struck by a stupidity ray the aliens had secretly stashed aboard their ship. If I had the unfortunate opportunity of being a member of this family I’d be making sure all doors and windows were locked, no one would be let in or out, and rest assured I’d be designing a tin foil hat as soon as I caught wind of an alien invasion. If all else failed I’d then try to appeal to our alien friends by inviting them in for a nice turkey dinner (since it is Thanksgiving after all) I’d even offer to fire up the grill and cook some mutilated cow burgers from the remains of the poor bovine they killed earlier in the movie. (I actually have an out of this world BBQ sauce recipe that would knock their little alien socks off).
Final Grade: C-
The original UPN presentation of Alien Abduction finally surfaced on Youtube some five years back. Compared to the full 82 minute VHS release the UPN version runs only 45 minutes and has interviews with various UFO and extraterrestrial experts (something I had no idea was included but definitely adds more dramatic effect to the overall presentation). If you’re interested in giving it a watch you can check it out below:
Synopsis: In London, a military plane crashes leaving its highly classified contents strewn across the city. Completely unaware that the city is in lockdown, a group of people become trapped inside a storage facility with a highly unwelcome guest.
One of the primary reasons that I enjoy exploring the direct to video realm is that feeling of unpredictably. Independent film makers are not afraid to march to the beat of their own drum and will go for a lot of outside the box ideas that usually don’t fly too well in Hollywood. An idea in its simplest form can take audiences into unknown areas yet it usually depends on how well executed said idea can be once it becomes a reality. Today we’re going to be looking at an ambitious horror/sci-fi crossbreed that borrows from a wide assortment of inspirations including the reality television show Storage Wars, movies the likes of Alien, Super 8, Cloverfield, and various slasher elements which were taken from Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Whenever a director can build a tension filled thriller using an unknown evil and having a group of people trapped in an enclosed space its pretty much a given that you’re going to get something that will keep your heart beating a mile a minute. No one ever wants to be put into a situation where they have their back against the wall (both literally and figuratively) especially when intense situations can bring out a wide array of stressful emotions including anger, fear, denial, and paranoia yet its how we’re able to compose ourselves in those instances that will either help us escape harm or will lead to our eventual downfall.
This is undoubtedly a blood soaked gooey slime riddled alien infestation that die hard b-movie fans will have no problems warming up to. The first half hour is definitely the weakest part of the film with the build up to the alien reveal was rather excruciating but once that precise moment comes its wonderfully executed. Granted the scene plays out exactly like the reveal of the Xenomorph and there will be some that say it’s too much of a ripoff nevertheless when you notice the amount of detail that went into the overall design of this creature you’ll appreciate the old school tip of the hat to that genuine style of movie magic from two to three decades ago. If anything the alien in Storage 24 is what makes the movie a must watch. I loved the personality this thing had as it’s definitely not a distant cousin of E.T., he’s not here to make friends or phone home. When he comes into contact with humans he’s curious as to what makes us tick to the point where he ends up pulling the heart out of a victim as well as a couple other parts of the circulatory system. The main look is somewhat reminiscent of the Predator with the alien’s mouth being covered in mandibles and yet unlike the Predator he actually has a use for them by getting up close and very personal with any poor soul who tries to take this menace on in a fight. Overall Storage 24 fits into what I’d call the severely flawed masterpiece category as the negatives tend to focus on trying too hard to make viewers care for the main cast or having the ending itself rely on a Twilight Zone or Men In Black shock/twist that ultimately just felt pretty emotionless like it was tacked on for the sake of being nothing more than Close Encounters of the Cliched Kind.
Synopsis: In 1906 a British anthropologist on a Chinese expedition discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.
Which is the greatest pairing in all of cinematic horror? Is it Abraham Van Helsing vs. Dracula? Perhaps Dr. Frankenstein vs. The Monster he created. In terms of the iconic movie characters this list would go on for all eternity yet if one were look at two men who were given the opportunity to play those four characters mentioned above a lot of film historians will universally proclaim that Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are the greatest match up in the genre. Perhaps no set of actors have worked more with one another starring in well over 20 productions together. You’d almost expect when searching for the definition of typecasting in the dictionary to see portraits of Lee and Cushing next to one another. Than again sometimes you meet a person who is a kindred spirit and an absolute privilege to share quick-witted dialogue with so what’s to stop you from signing on when a movie studio calls and asks ‘Would you consider doing a new picture with your one of your dearest friends once more?’ Horror Express is one of those rare projects where Christopher Lee wasn’t decked out in makeup or acting through prosthetics. Instead he is a rather uptight but highly intellectual scientist who has recently found a scientific discovery that will change the history of mankind forever. Along for the ride is Cushing who plays a doctor and friendly rival who is naturally curious to see what sort of find has been unearthed. On the way from Shanghai to Moscow the discovery suddenly wakes up breaking free of its containment and starts killing a group of hapless victims in a very unique manner – draining all of their intelligence out through the eyes.
The most popular adaptations of John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There? conjure up images of James Arness stumbling around as a weird looking plant alien right as he’s about to be lit up like a Christmas tree or how in 1982 Rob Bottin’s revolutionary special effects made audiences sick to their stomachs. The gentlemanly Lee and Cushing are the last two actors anyone would expect to find offering a much different take on the popular sci-fi/horror novella. Depending on your expectations Horror Express might disappoint as it relies more on being the slow burn murder/mystery rather than a full on gore fest and no I’m not talking Bottin level Thing-outs here since this is 1972 after all. While there is a fair amount of blood and even a graphic little autopsy scene when the otherworldly being reveals itself my immediate reaction wasn’t one of fear or revulsion but rather my mind wondered if several camera angles influenced James Cameron when he shot the original Terminator (the initial being has a bright red eye that in shadow sort of looks reminiscent of everyone’s favorite T-800). With the passing of Christopher Lee earlier this summer I wanted to give him a proper Schlocktoberfest send off. I truly hope wherever he is now both he and Peter Cushing are catching up and putting on some more great performances. With every passing day we get closer and closer to losing other classically trained actors from this golden era so value every piece of artistry they’ve given us, they’ll remain forever timeless. Thanks for the memories Mr. Lee.
Synopsis: A detective and doctor tie a string of rapes to bug-eyed aliens who are posing as humans in order to multiply.
Well now that I’ve sat through the 1986 version of Breeders I’ll bravely admit that it has several advantages over its 1997 counterpart the one most distinctive among them is being a byproduct of the mid-1980s itself. All the call signs are there from the leopard print clothing to the aqua-net infused mounds of permed hair to the tacky synthesizer music. Instead of wasting time trying to establish where an alien race of giant flies that look like the rejected designs from a Roger Corman production come from Breeders instead attempts to go for sheer shock value by having these fly creatures hide in human form attacking young virgin women since they are the most pure out of all the human race to mate with. Yeah I’m going to pull the bullsh*t card here as all of the young women the aliens go after cake on way too much makeup and flaunt themselves for any member of the opposite sex that so happens to walk into camera frame. One girl in particular is an aspiring model decides while on a lunch break from a photo shoot to do a line of cocaine, put on some gag inducing background music, peel off her two piece bikini, and do aerobics in front of a window. Unlike the prototypical slasher flicks that were hitting their stride at this exact point in time there isn’t one innocent final girl to grab an industrial barrel of Raid and do away with these perverted alien parasites once and for all. The director probably didn’t even second guess himself in deciding to walk down a path so trashy that it would make both Glad and Hefty blush.
So out of Breeders ’86 and ’97 which is the better film? Hmm that’s a tough answer they both go below mundane standards. Breeders ’97 wins out as a more tolerable form of entertainment whereas Breeders ’86 spins around dizzily with no other purpose other than having ample amounts of T&A flashed whenever the bad acting starts to come off the rails. It’s really too bad there wasn’t a way to take all the excessive female nudity and combine that with the remarkable practical effect alien from Breeders ’97. There is definitely no reason to even think that a ‘third times a charm’ re-remake rule with this weird barely erotic sci-fi/horror film series would apply here. If you enjoy getting more than the average breast flash with only four more days remaining in October my recommendation is to skip both of these and find something Halloween themed on The Spice Channel instead.
Synopsis: An alien travels to Earth on a meteorite and mates with humans to preserve its species and destroy humanity.
How could anyone muck up a simple concept the likes of an alien crash landing on earth with its sole mission being to propagate with a bevy of college co-eds? Easy just have the person in charge of designing the opening credit sequence use what looks like an early beta version of Microsoft Powerpoint and then forcibly drop them over some atrociously rendered computer animation of a lone meteorite passing through the solar system. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad if said person would have picked out a font color that was a little easier to read than dark purple. If Deadly Instinct’s (or Breeders whichever one wants to refer to it as) sole purpose was to make my eyes bug out of my skull because my retinas were having difficulty adjusting to reading the words as they flashed on and off the screen in a migraine inducing clutter of misery then congratulations this alone almost made me grab the DVD out of my player and spew profanities upon it. We’re not even into the full movie yet and I’d end up also having words with the computer animator who designed the meteorite hurtling towards earth. Any scientist or normal everyday Joe would notice how much the space rock’s proportions are off. When it passes both Jupiter and Mars if it collided with either it would do some damage so why is it when it enters Earth’s atmosphere the only sign of catastrophe is plowing a small crater into a parking lot and not a global wide extinction?
Welcome to greater Boston’s most out of place girl’s only college which so happens is also conveniently located near the ocean as well as a nearby oil refinery. I’m curious to see what exactly the curriculum would be? Sorry ladies the only two fields of work you can enter into is the oil industry or marine biology. Hey why not go a full eight years of college and get a masters degree in both that way if there’s ever an oil spill you’ll have all the bases covered. Perhaps its best to pitch that acceptance letter into the waste paper basket since not much actual learning takes place instead the only thing you’ll take part in is inappropriate student/faculty/janitor extracurricular activities. College life is about gaining independence after 18 years of living under your parent’s roof and more importantly under aged drinking well except on this campus where you’ll get a stern lecture from one of your professors how alcohol is strictly prohibited even though he is seen walking around with a Coors hat on and a little bit later will put the moves on you in front of a neon beer sign. Whenever I’ve had to suffer through something that has no logical form of pacing the best way to numb the pain is to pay attention to the random details and occurrences that take place during filming. The creature effects are rather impressive and deserved to be showcased in a much better production but when observing the alien hobbling around it made me wonder how exactly is it able to catch up to its victims when he had the mobility of a potato with tooth pick legs.
Apparently Deadly Instinct/Breeders is a remake of the 1986 film of the same name (Breeders, that is not Deadly Instinct good luck figuring out why the production company didn’t stick to one title) although I’ve never had the privilege of viewing it (apart from coming across its notably awesome 1980s VHS artwork). Maybe the time has come to suffer through that one as well to see whether or not if its a vast improvement over this humongous pile of alien excrement. After experiencing the absolute worst opening credits sequence in the history of mankind things have to get better… right?
Final Grade: D
Hell is when the VCR starts eating your VHS collection & spitting the remains back out at you…