I wanted to get this one up by Christmas, but alas, the holiday season side swept me right into the Christmas guard rail. Too much rich food and too much booze had my stomach screaming in agony, sluggish and carb sick I didn’t really want to do anything, much less write a blog post but I really wanted to introduce “Fantastic Games” to people who were not in the know, so I bucked up and gonna dive right into this thing.
So “Fantastic Games” was a movie I found on a external hard drive my buddy gave me. I actually watched this three months ago and to my surprise I found out this was a kid’s Christmas film, but not like any I’d ever seen. Watching the credits and doing research I found out this was an Italian made movie directed by Al Passeri who also directed the equally bat shit insane “Creatures from the Abyss” (1994). The whole Christmas motif is pretty much a wreath around the main body of the story which is some weird Never Ending Story/Power Rangers hybrid.
So during Christmas Eve, a family is stranded in a cabin while a snow storm rages outside, Mary the daughter is deathly ill covered in cloths, there is mom, grandpa and her brother Kevin, their awaiting the return of the father who is a doctor but he is stranded in the snow, their dog is also missing. Then there is the family “friend” who looks like a villain from Central Casting circa 1910, he wears a long black trench coat, derby hat and big black mustache. He goes to see if he can find the father out in the snow, but he has ulterior motives. Since its Christmas Eve the family gets to open presents, Kevin opens one for Mary that contains what looks like a cave girl on a surf board and a book. Kevin starts reading from the book and we are off to a rip roarin’ start.
In “Fantastic Games”, a gnome castle floating in space is threatened by a third rate Darth Vader type with a mask made of various mirrors who controls another floating castle called the Planet of the Black Fortress, the Lord of the Black Fortress, Makeb, wants all the wealth in the gnome castle, so the gnomes call on Jade, Queen of Hope who wants to be paid with a grain of golden wheat, they agree and Jade, along with her surf board and midget dog go to take on the Black Fortress full of weird technology that the gnomes seem not to have.
She enters a weird contest that mimics a video game to defeat Makeb and save the gnomes from destruction, and as all this is happening, Mary is ever closer to death and the blizzard outside gets worse and worse. Black hat “friend” keeps showing up saying he is trying to find the father but twitches his evil mustache. Some of the actions in the story correspond with what happens in real life. On the other hand Makeb keeps zapping his assistants from a stone dragon above his bone laden throne when they screw up, one in his death throes puts bugs in the system making Makeb’s job harder. In the game Jade/Mary battles evil eye balls, jazz playing skeletons, giant stop motion sand worms, fire demons and other things to get a higher score then Makeb who will get destroyed if Jade wins.
“Fantastic Games” is a strange movie in the best way, made in 1998 it looks like it could’ve been made in 1988 instead, in fact I wondered if this was made earlier but released later. As in any Italian production the acting is bad, the dubbed voices atrocious and a plot a mix of 1980 Flash Gordon and the Never Ending Story. For a holiday kid’s film this is just nutso all over the place and that is a good thing. The Italians don’t mess around when they make genre films, its everything out the window, including the kitchen sink.
Stan Lee saw “Heavy Metal Magazine” eating into his profits, Stan Lee couldn’t have that, so Stan Lee decided to start his own rip off of “Heavy Metal Magazine” known by “Epic Illustrated” by first having Rick Marschall as editor under the title “Odyssey” in 1979, it was originally gonna appear in “The Marvel Super Special” magazine Marschall found out that there was other magazines with that same names so he changed the name to “Epic Illustrated”, he was soon replaced by Archie Goodwin who took over the editorial reins. “Epic Illustrated” started in 1980 as a quarterly with a “Roman Soldier” style Frank Frazetta cover, in my opinion not the best representation of the stories contained within the magazine.
Stan Lee, in the editorial to the first issue, says “Forgive us if we sound presumptive but ‘Epic Illustrated’ is more, far more than merely another new magazine. ‘Epic’ heralds the dramatic start of a new era in publishing, an era which proudly presents long awaited marriage of superb illustration and the best in imaginative fiction.” Thus Marvel’s competition to “Heavy Metal” begins and since this isn’t a comic book and is a magazine, more taboo territory can be covered without running afoul of the “Comics Code Authority”, in other words tits, peoples eyes and brains can pop out, really if you put an issue of “Epic Illustrated” side by side with an issue of “Heavy Metal” you’ll see very little difference even in the print type used in the editorials, letters and reviews section, Archie will be editor until the last issue. “Epic Illustrated” begins as a quarterly until issue five (April 1981) then it goes bi monthly. “Epic” will also use alot of the same artists “Heavy Metal” does, but whereas “Heavy Metal” is more “Eurocentric” in its artist choices, Marvel goes more for American artists, not that they don’t use European artists, there is a smattering of them but this is more of a stateside thing some of the same artists that appear in the pages of both magazines are Ray Rue, Arthur Suydam, Barry Windsor Smith, Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Terry Lindell, Jeffery Catherine Jones among others. In the last issue Archie writes “This will be our final ‘Epic Illustrated’. We regret that very much, but with the success of other projects here at Marvel such as our ‘Epic Comics’ line and the ‘Marvel Graphic Novels’ with which we’re involved and with wide reader interest in an anthology style magazine (particularly one as expensive to produce as ‘Epic’) increasingly harder to sustain, this seems the best course. The alternatives, decreasing frequency of publication, cutting the page count or paper quality, raising the price etc. would only lessen a product of which we’re quite proud. We prefer to bring ‘Epic’ to a close while its still the same magazine that we know and love.” I don’t know, “Heavy Metal” survived and is still going today though I’d hesitate to say “strong” but even in its weaker periods it kept the quality up and page count the same, we’re talking about “Marvel” here that was a multi million dollar comic book company that had its fingers in various pies, this seems to me a “Stan Lee cutting costs” type thing to focus on cheaper “Epic” related comics and graphic novels, as opposed to a talent laden, slick, and well produced magazine. Not only that, it seems “Epic Illustrated” leaned more heavily on the fantasy side of things and “Heavy Metal” leaned” more on the science fiction/space opera side of things, especially back in those days. And like “Heavy Metal, “Epic Illustrated” had continuing stories, short pieces, and articles on things pertaining to the whole sci fi/fantasy thing, and like “Heavy Metal” with various artists come different art styles that keep the magazine interesting. The continuing pieces in “Epic Illustrated” are Jim Starlin’s sci fi epic “Metamorphosis Odyssey” with his character Dreadstar seeking to destroy a race of aliens that annihilate whole galaxies published from issue one to issue nine (Spring 1980 to December 1981), Arthur Suydam’s ode to 1950’s sci fi and classic slapstick cartoons “Cholly and Flytrap” appearing in issues eight, ten, thirteen, fourteen, and thirty four (October 1981, February 1982, August 1982, October 1982, February 1986),
Roy Thomas adapts a story from Micheal Moorcock and P. Craig Russel illustrates “A Tale of Elric of Melnibone: The Dreaming City” in issues three (fall 1980), four (winter 1980) and fourteen (October 1982), Roy Thomas adapts yet another pulp sword and sorcery hero from Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, in “Almuric” where a lantern jawed, big muscled hero from earth travels to a brutal, barbaric world running away from the cops in issues two to five (summer 1980 to April 1981), Rick Veitch with his “Moby Dick in Space” tale “Abraxas and the Earthman” issues ten to seventeen (February 1982 to April 1983), Chris Claremont and John Bolton with their silver haired, barbarian woman warrior in “Marada” in issues ten to twelve (February to June 1982) and (twenty two to twenty three February to April 1984), Carl Potts with Dennis O’ Neil, Terry Austin and Marie Severin’s Japanese samurai warrior in the Pacific Northwest of the US battling dragons and evil samurai in “Last of the Dragons” in issues fifteen to twenty (December 1982 to October 1983), Pepe Moreno of “Heavy Metal” fame illustrates and editor Archie Goodwin writes a post apocalyptic tale of a world trying to heal in “Generation Zero” issues seventeen to twenty four (April 1983 to June 1984), Dean Motter continues what he started in the black and white sci fi comic “Star Ride” this time colorized with “The Sacred and Profane” where the Papacy sends the church into outer space to convert alien races with disastrous consequences in issues twenty to twenty six (October 1983 to October 1984), Doug Moench and Mike Ploog’s “Elf Quest” rip off (a good rip off by the way) “Weirdworld: Dragonmaster of Klarn” a tale of elves, evil wizards, comedic dwarfs and dragons mixed up in a battle that could destroy the world in issue nine, issues eleven to thirteen (December 1981, February 1982 to August 1982,
Tim Conrad spins a medieval tale of sorcery, and golems in realistic black and white with “Toadswart d’Amplestone” in issues twenty five to twenty eight and thirty to thirty three (August 1984 to October 1985), what is a continuing story and I don’t think belongs in “Epic Illustrated” is the Silver Surfer story in issue one, that needs to be in some other compilation, not a sci fi and fantasy compilation magazine, Silver Surfer, while having sci fi elements is more in the super hero genre and that goes for “The Last Galactus” continuing story in issues twenty six to thirty four (October 1984 to February 1986) by John Byrne, while the art is top notch, “The Last Galactus” is part of the Marvel Super Hero Universe and shouldn’t have been in “Epic Illustrated”. That aside it is a pretty solid series and good competition to “Heavy Metal”, just like with “Heavy Metal” I enjoyed the short pieces more than the longer and continuing stories because I have ADD, HA! HA! The review sections started in issue five (April 1981) Jo Duffy who worked for Marvel and was editor and story writer on the original old school “Star Wars” comics comes aboard as associate editor on “Epic Illustrated” and starts the review section that was prominent in their rival “Heavy Metal” at the time, in the issue she becomes associate editor she starts the “Bookview” column where she reviews fantasy and sci fi books and comics, Dennis O’Neil does “Mediaview” where he does tongue in cheek movie reviews and reminiscences about his childhood movie experiences in Indiana, issue seven (August 1981) will add Steven Grant’s “Gameview” where Steven reviews different role playing game modules and computer games and then husband and wife team John Robert Tebbel and Martha Thomases do “Futureview” a column that talks about technology and future possibilities for tech, this column was “better late than never” since it was introduced near the end run of “Epic Illustrated”, the columns ended in issue thirty one (August 1985) near the end of the magazines run. Also included in later issues were artist interviews, profiles and portfolios. Countless imitators came out of the wood work, some awful and some awesome (I’ll get around to reviewing those some day), however, I kind of wish that Stan Lee and company would’ve bit the bullet and continued this magazine, I don’t think its full potential was reached. In fact, I truly believe that if they would’ve continued the magazine they would’ve bested “Heavy Metal”, out of all the fantasy “underground” compilation magazines, “Heavy Metal” is the major one that rode out all the trends, all the economic downturns and bull shit and survives (some like me would argue it barely survives, its a shell of its former self). “Heavy Metal’s” continuing stories and short pieces still bested “Epic Illustrated” and I am not saying by a long shot that “Epic Illustrated” sucks, I just don’t think it was given enough time to grow but what we have is “Epic”.
The last puppet movie I saw that was made for adults was Peter Jackson’s “Meet the Feebles”, it was before Jackson slathered CGI shit all over the screen with “Bored of the Dings”. “Meet the Feebles” featured puppets fucking, getting AIDs, having eating disorders and being addicted to drugs, you know, kid’s stuff. Now I know in the interim that there was one other adult puppet movie that came out which I never saw called “Happy Time Murders” but Melissa McCarthy’s presence makes me not want to see it. However, while rolling through the web site “366 Weird Movies” I came across a review for a movie called “Frank and Zed” which featured all puppets, and watching the trailer made me cum in my pants. I crossed my fingers hoping there was somewhere I could watch it. No such luck, until I visited the filmmaker’s facebook page and web site which was called “Puppetcore” to see if there was anyway I could see it. “Frank and Zed” was going to be streamed through Halloween and I plopped down my money down and what I got was a puppet movie unlike I’d ever seen, a fantasy, horror and comedy, three of my favorite genres mashed together, visually eye popping, gut busting funny, I had a great time watching “Frank and Zed”, the puppets all had personalities of their own right down to the background puppets, “Frank and Zed” is like a mutant hybrid of “Evil Dead 2”, “Meet the Feebles” and “Young Frankenstein”.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the movie tells the tale of Frank who was made from various body parts and Zed who is a zombie whose soul is trapped in its body by the God of Death, whom Frank and Zed were made to serve. The God of Death seeks to rule over a small village but he is slaughtered by the villagers and he puts a curse on the village saying they will all die in a “Orgy of Blood”. A priest and a lord plot to overthrow the king and make the curse not happen by tricking the villagers into killing Frank and Zed whom they see as maintaining the curse and all hell breaks loose. Bones break, blood splatters, brains get eaten etc. I sure hope sooner or later this gets released in physical format, the only draw back to watching it online streaming was that it had a watermark right in the middle of the screen, which was annoying, but I understand why they put it there, to keep theft from happening. “Frank and Zed” took an impressive seven years to make by Portland, OR based filmmaker Jesse Blanchard and crew, the miniatures were shot on the RED camera which was Stanley Kubrick’s favorite lens. Jesse and his crew made all the sets and puppets in his garage and used mainly practical effects, only using CGI for some thunder and electricity, this movie was strictly old school. He helped fund “Frank and Zed” in part through Kickstarter. This movie is a hoot and I can’t wait to watch it again, another hidden newer movie that is actually good. Here is praying “Frank and Zed” comes out in Blu Ray/DVD sooner rather than later.
The web site “Bleeding Skull” (my web site review here: http://www.noisepuncher.net/2021/05/13/web-site-spotlight-bleeding-skull/) dives deep, deep, deep in the scummy abyss like recesses of the pop culture of yesteryear and the present, bringing up the celluloid filth that most everybody else would like to see gone from the face of the earth. But I am glad I am not everybody else, there is times “Bleeding Skull” actually comes out of the recesses with a fistful of gold and diamonds. “Bleeding Skull” is the only site to have guts enough to try to watch every SOV (shot on video) and mid fi film in existence, I’ve done a review on their web site, now it is time to review the reference books they put out and, boy oh boy, did I find a lot of good movies I otherwise wouldn’t have found without the books and their web site.
The first book, “Bleeding Skull! A 1980’s Trash-Horror Odyssey”, is the first volume, published by the great Headpress Publishing, all films are listed in alphabetical order, with black and white photos and a handy index, this book dares to go into the steaming pile that is SOV and mid fi movies of the 1980’s. In the 1980’s video rental stores (RIP) were popping up all over the country, people forget that movies even back then on VHS weren’t cheap to buy, especially in the early days. So mostly local and regional film makers shot no budget “epics” on their camcorders or Super 8 cameras, using Halloween store make up and cheap prosthetics, primitive computer graphics, using friends, relatives, significant others as actors etc. slapping some interesting cover art on the box and selling them from video store to video store. I actually remember as a kid watching some of these movies when me, my brother and cousin would rent the movie based on the box art, only to take it home and be disappointed. As kids we bought the cover art hook line and sinker, it wasn’t until I was older that I got into SOV, as a kid I was too used to seeing movies with some of a budget, movies like “Dark Crystal”, “Return of the Jedi”, “ET”, “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and the like, not something me and my friends made with my dad’s camcorder. The very first movie that brought back the SOV beast for me was “Black Devil Doll From Hell” directed by Chester Turner, which I stumbled across in “The Psychotronic Video Guide” (you can see my weird book report on aforementioned book right here: http://www.noisepuncher.net/2021/03/25/wtf-is-the-psychotronic-video-guide/) reference book, reading the description made me run out and get it off of ioffer. When I put the movie on my jaw hit the floor, it was like watching some pervert’s home made doll fetish video and then the SOV beast came roaring out from the back of my childhood mind and bit me good. That led me to searching out and finding “Bleeding Skull”. This book “Bleeding Skull! A 1980’s Trash-Horror Odyssey” turned me on to so many other movies from that period of time which I am eternally grateful . In addition to “Black Devil Doll From Hell” you’ll get reviews on movies with titles like “Attack of the Killer Refrigerator”, “Bloody Video Horror That Made Me Puke on My Aunt Gertrude”, “Cannibal Hookers”, “Killer Workout” and the like, you’ll get capsule reviews from Joseph Ziemba who I know personally is a cool dude and has responded to every email and message I have sent him and founder of “Bleeding Skull” and Daniel Budnik whose dry wit and humor had me belly laughing. The two guys don’t take the subject matter too seriously and who would? This book is free wheeling fun like the 1980’s as a decade were, I was literally writing down what movies I had to search out after reading this book, sometimes I couldn’t find the movies they were talking about because they were so rare. Speaking of rare, this book is out of print at Headpress and everywhere else, copies are gonna cost you an arm and leg. Luckily I was a early “Bleeding Skull” fan and bought the book when it was in print. This book covers movies from the 1980’s to the early 1990’s because to be honest the early 1990’s were still the 1980’s style wise.
This is when we dive face first into the 1990’s and face plant…HARD. “Bleeding Skull! A 1990’s Trash-Horror Odyssey” delves deep into the SOV and mid fi cesspit that was the 1990’s. Video rental stores were still around but they were more wise to the “box art masking a home made movie” so different companies sold them direct through catalogs, magazine ads and the newly burgeoning internet. Also, this was when the PC shit beast started to rear its butt ugly head and being “ironic” was the creed of the day. This book was put out this year and I’ve literally been waiting for it for about two years thinking it would never come out. Fantagraphics, whom people who read my site know I love, was taking forever to put it out. Well it finally came out, the dry wit of Daniel Budnik was gone and replaced with Annie Choi, and Zack Carlson with Joe still on board. This time the book has higher production values, it has color photos and art, slick pages, its again in alphabetical order with an index. And again this one put me on to movies I had never heard of movies like “Attack of the Serial Killers from Outer Space”, “Blood Slaves of the Vampire Wolf”, “Frankenstein’s Planet of Monsters!”, “I Was a Teenage Serial Killer” etc. And the problem is Annie, Zack and, to a lesser extent, Joe, took the 1990’s moniker too seriously, don’t get me wrong, the writers replacing Dan are damn funny in their own way, when their not trying to preach or virtue signal. Come on guys, this a fucking book on no budget movies not your college term paper, in fact, when I read some of the reviews peppered with PC millennial/zoomer horse shit, I’d roll my eyes. The prior book had little to no meditating on politics of any kind, in fact in Annie’s review for “I Was a Teenage Serial Killer” she abandons humor altogether and goes on a huge diatribe about how women are still oppressed, no humor at all, all I had to say is “SHUT THE FUCK UP”. I am here to find out about movies I’d never heard, not have some ex college ass hat lecture me on how evil I am, she is not the only one, Joe also does his share of preaching which he didn’t do in the previous book, like under the movie review for “Limbo” you get this “I am a white dude. Because of this, there’s no way for me to understand the challenges women and people of color face on a daily basis (me: semi true). I recognize that my life has been easier (me: bullshit you don’t know that, this isn’t Jim Crow America and not every woman and black person has the same experience, their individuals not a collective faceless mass, like white people, some women and black people have had either easier or tougher experiences depending on their circumstances.) This is why its important for me-and every other white man on the planet-to celebrate the accomplishments of people who are not white whenever possible (me: if their work interests me or their creative that is my criteria not because of skin color or gender, that is what you virtue signals call “Racist”)”. Then he goes on to tell a story of how a woman, Tina Krause, completed and submitted her movie “Limbo” to different film festivals under her own name and got rejection after rejection, then she did it under the name Stephen and was accepted once she was called to address the crowd she went on stage and berated the festival and film goers for “Sexism” and Joe slowly clapped, so Joe did it even enter your mind that maybe since “Limbo” is an SOV movie that most festivals wouldn’t take it? Is it quite possible that they didn’t like the movie and wouldn’t accept it? Too many people are quick to jump on the “victim” band wagon, maybe Tina’s experience was an actual one but this is the kind of crap that hurt the book for me. Annie, Zack and Joe do a good job, but they would’ve done a great job if they hadn’t thrown in the virtue signaling horse shit that is prevalent all over most indie/cult film sites, it isn’t original and its boring. That being said this volume is still good and you can easily ignore the political preaching junk, they don’t do it too much but when they do its annoying and makes them seem like virtue beggars. Guys stick to humor and reviewing movies, save the mealy mouthed bull shit for the talking heads and loser academics in their ivory towers. Mark Polonia who made a shit load of SOV movies and is a SOV legend does the intro for the book. These days digital cameras, cheap computer graphic and editing programs, even phones etc. have made it easier than ever to make movies, the SOV legacy lives on and all one needs to do is go to Amazon Prime Video or Tubi to see the independent spirit to make low to no budget movies is still alive, even though most video stores have gone the way of the dinosaurs. SOV makers now use streaming services, sell DVD and Blu Rays of their own releases through their own web sites and use video hosting sites to show their work, as long as there is a person with a passion and a camera out there of some sort that spirit will never die and “Bleeding Skull” is still the king of digging up these treasures, may they never waver in their pursuit of beautiful trash.
Most horror anthologies have this problem, either most of them suck with a couple of good ones, or if your lucky they’ll be mostly good ones with a smattering of bad ones, “Strange Tales” has total of six and out of those six, three are good and three are boring and/or stupid. The really good ones shine like diamonds in coal. Vidcrest, who put out the infamous “Mondo Cane” movies, a company that is still around and run by Robert Weinbach who is still alive put this thing together, he seemed to specialize in finding weird and unusual shorts and putting them together. At the time, the only way to get a hold of this collection was to get it on VHS, at first when I e mailed him he said he had no copies, then he e mailed me back and said he had found a VHS copy in storage, so I bought it. Watching this, I could tell most, if not all of these shorts were shot on Super 8 and most if not all were probably student films. I searched this one out when a buddy of mine sent me a list of live action/animated shorts, one of the shorts on this VHS, “Twilight Journey” got my attention. The problem is this VHS was recorded to EP mode which makes the picture look kind of shitty, its to jam more stuff on less tape, the picture is soft and fuzzy, sometimes you can’t see what is being filmed. So without further ado, here are the good and the bad of “Strange Tales”.
The first short, “The Visitant” is an OK short, a guy chases the ghost of his dead son through a cemetery which looks like the famous Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burbank, CA, me and my weird family used to have picnics there, many famous people from the Golden Age of Hollywood are buried (and turning over in their graves). As he is chasing his son, a zombie chases him with an axe and various dead people as well as an driver-less van try to run him down, he comes across his daughter who is cursing him for killing himself and his son in a drunk driving accident, the guy finds out he is in purgatory and now destined for hell. This one had some cool make up effects and was at least interesting.
The second short is called “Desire in a Public Dump” and I wasn’t too impressed with this one, though I gotta give it credit for not dragging on too long. When I watched this I figured this one was shot in the 1980’s like the rest of the shorts on the tape, but the whole look of the actors and actress and the whole feel screamed “1950’s” yes I found out that this short was shot in the 1950’s, it is very weird to have all the other shorts be filmed in the 1980’s and one lone one from the 1950’s. In this one a hobo stumbles on a picture of a redhead pin up who comes out of the picture and when he goes to kiss her he gets a pitchfork through his chest, the girl disappears from the picture and is replaced by a gorilla, a kid with a BB gun finds the picture and it ends there.
The third short is “A Day in the Life of Snidley Carmichael” stupid, boring and hated this fucking short. All it is is a guy spazzing out to opera music, running around like a fucking retard pretending to get shot. Not funny and a waste of this tape. Next.
The fourth short is by far the best and most interesting, “Twilight Journey” is a god damn trip and this is the reason why I searched this tape out. I wasn’t disappointed, a hybrid of live action and rotoscoped animation, this one is hard to peg, this is acid for people who never have or will drop acid. From what I can tell the story is about a kid whose mom is prostitute, she wears a pig mask I guess out of kinkiness, now this is where it gets confusing either the boy kills his mom while the John is asleep or the John kills her and sets the house on fire.
As the John runs away in his car he gets in an accident and dies, soon he is tumbling through animated space.
Soon he encounters weird shapes, pyramids and killer orcs, whoever did this put a lot of work into it, looks like the guy was probably inspired by Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings, LSD and a lot of pot.
Looking for keys and a sword battle ensues, its marvelous and fantastic and worth the price of this video, I wasn’t as mad when this short met my expectations, it made it worth the three other boring shorts on this thing. My only gripe is the short ends abruptly, wish this had had a longer running time and Robert would’ve knocked the other boring fucking shorts off this thing.
The fifth short is “Crystal Quest”, I loved this one, this one follows a guy who is being chased by something or somebody on what looks like a different planet, he takes the crystal from the mouth of a stone monster then he is actually chased by a monster who corners him near an elevator.
As he pushes the button and the elevator the monster chasing him runs away and he thinks he scared the monster off until he turns around and sees a behemoth of a monster blocking the elevator.
He dives underneath the monster’s legs shuts the elevator and pushes the lobby button. He gets to the bottom and the door opens and you find out the “Crystal Quest” is a futuristic game show. I loved this one, the make up was good and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the people who worked on this student film went on to do special effects and make up on bigger projects. This one was goofy fun and the other good short in this collection and the last good one.
The sixth and most certainly last one is “Bus Bench” all I can say is “YAWN”, “Strange Tales” goes out on a huge whimper and not a bang. Some old lady sits on a bench while buses and people go by, she seems to be thinking about her past and her own daughter or something. This was boring, so bad I was looking at the clock thinking about other stuff I could be doing. On the back of the VHS box it says “Award winning shorts” yeah, Weinbach I highly doubt this. So all in all there was three good shorts and three boring shorts, so is this worth your clams? I’ll say this much “Twilight Journey” and “Crystal Quest” will make it worth the price, and you’ll want this if your a horror anthology completest.
I remember as a kid loving Chris Elliot’s TV show “Get A Life” about a thirty something year old that still lives with his parents and has a job delivering papers, all his friends were between the ages of nine and thirteen years old (hey that sounds familiar, Chris was a prophet!), it screams “Pedo” and jokes were made in that direction. The humor in the show was absurd, offensive, off the wall, non sequiturs, crazy, stupid, juvenile etc. and it lasted only two seasons. My parents and mom in particular knew him from the David Letterman show, that and his two season show got him a movie that Tim Burton was supposed to direct but ended up producing because Tim wanted to direct “Ed Wood” instead, he was a big fan of Chris’ humor. “Cabin Boy” was all the things I mentioned above, I laughed at the movie and loved it, my dad called it “a crock of shit” and my mom wasn’t impressed with it when we rented it from our local family owned video rental business. Now years later I wanted to see if it still made me laugh or at least gave me chuckles, I’d forgotten almost everything about it except David Letterman as the the sailor/sock monkey salesman that says “I hate dem fancy boys!” Well I watched it and not only did I laugh, my jaw fell to the floor. Elliot and his co writer/director Adam Resnick, who also was a writer for David Letterman were way way WAY ahead of their time, Tim and Eric and Adult Swim owe Chris and Adam.
When Tim left to direct “Ed Wood” they didn’t know who to get to direct. Tim mentioned that Adam should direct it and they were off and running. Well more like jogging, when Buena Vista pictures found out Tim was leaving they cut their budget in half. When Adam and Tim wrote the script they kept in mind Burton’s penchant for weirdness, so they wrote a lot of special effects related things for the script. In fact, if they’d known Tim wasn’t gonna direct they were gonna leave a lot of the weird stuff on the floor which makes no sense at all because Chris’ humor is bizarre and it annoys some people.
The “Cabin Boy” is Nathaniel Mayweather who goes to “Fancy Boys Finishing School” where he wears a wig, is an obnoxious, stuck up, is an ass to his teachers and fellow students and he is also a virgin (a lot like his character in “Get A Life”). When he graduates his dad, played by Chris’ real life comedian dad, Bob Elliot, wants him to take over the hotel chain they own in Hawaii after he graduates, he is given tickets to board a luxury cruiser, the Queen Catherine, after being thrown out by the annoyed limo driver who was supposed to take him to the cruise ship, Nate takes a wrong turn into the wrong shipping village where David Letterman, the sailor/sock monkey salesman sends him to the boat, The Filthy Whore, instead.
Nathaniel thinking the Filthy Whore is one of those “theme boats” encounters Kenny (played by Andy Richter) who is the retarded Cabin Boy, he lets Nate on the boat while the other sailors aren’t on it because Nate says the captain said it was OK, he falls asleep and soon is awakened by the crew all played by curmudgeons who play crusty old men and villains in other movies, these four guys make this movie, Chris is still funny but these guys had me cracking up through the whole thing. Captain Greybar (yeah this movie is immature, played by Ritch Brinkley), Skunk (Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill’s brother and Noah from “Wayne’s World”), Big Teddy (played by Brion James who you’ve seen as a villain in tons of 1980’s-1990’s movies and TV shows) and Paps (played by James Gammon, the coach from “Major League”). Nate tries to convince them to go to Hawaii they laugh in his face. Nate fools Kenny into steering the ship towards Hawaii while the crew is asleep.
They run into a violent storm, evil clouds blow the ship around and Kenny falls into the water and drowns, they make Nate the new Cabin Boy and he has to do degrading things and clean the ship. It turns out that the ship got blown into a type of Bermuda Triangle called “Hell’s Bucket” in this place they encounter a lot of weird stuff, a half man, half shark creature called Chalky (played by Russ Tamblyn who is known as Dr. Jacobi in “Twin Peaks”), a girl who is trying to swim the Pacific Ocean, gets caught in Nate’s net and he falls in love with her and she has no interest in him, a frost giant, a giant cupcake that spits tabacco, the blue skinned, many armed Hindu goddess Kali who “cleans pipes” (I am not giving that one away folks) and her possessive, pissed off giant Housewares Salesman husband named Mulligan (played by Mike Starr).
I am not giving away the whole store, your gonna have to go shopping. It will be a very weird store indeed, the production company for “Cabin Boy” was Skellington Productions, which is Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s (who directed “James and the Giant Peach” and “Nightmare Before Christmas”) studio, so all the weird creatures and sets were made there, all of them practical, no fucking CGI, thank the B movie gods. This whole movie has got a “Tim Burton” vibe to it if he made more light hearted fair, it also reminds me of Terry Gilliam’s absurdist movies.
So this movie came out and…A bombed whole cities, pulverized them to radioactive dust. Critics (most of them I fucking hate, like Siskel and Ebert) shit all over this movie, it was a huge embarrassment at the time for everybody involved. Chris and Adam had stated for the longest time their careers were in shambles. But in 1994 I was a junior high kid loved this movie and didn’t care what some four eyed, pencil neck geek said about it and still feel the same way years later.
Like all things ahead of their time “Cabin Boy” garnered a cult following, people rewatched it and quoted lines from it like “Hate Dem Fancy Boys!” And most famous of all “My pipes…are…CLEAN!!!” Chris and Adam are surprised by the newfound fame of their movie that embarrassed them and now they have a fondness for it and speak at screenings. Watch this movie and tell me that most of the stuff on “Adult Swim” and “The Mighty Boosh” owe a debt of gratitude to “Cabin Boy”.
Its always refreshing for me to see practical effects, I know when it comes to movies I sound like a broken record but I can’t stress enough how much I hate CGI over saturation, unless your doing a straight CGI animated movie, if I see your movie has too much CGI there goes my popcorn at the screen and there I am walking out the door. Now when a movie comes along and uses 50/50 practical/CGI or better yet mostly practical (I know CGI can’t really be avoided, my ideal modern movie would be one that uses practical and optical effects through the whole thing). “Baron Against the Demons” is one of those 50/50 movies that is low budget, uses practical and green screen effects. Its a “Heavy Metal” comic strip brought to life and “Heavy Metal” also had a majority of European artists working for it, “Baron Against the Demons” is from Spain, and its unlike anything I’ve seen. Its jaw dropping: scantily clad women, spurting blood, a maniac sword wielding albino, foam rubber puppets, and Catholic fanatics in space. Uh yes tickle that white noise funny bone.
“Baron Against the Demons” was written by Ricarod Ribelle and is a expansion of a short film he did “Exocorio Deus Machine: La Mision”. When watching the movie its kind of hard to figure out the plot, the thing is a bit of a mess, visually its jaw dropping, for a low budget b movie they do get the best for what little money they had. I guess back in the mid to early 2000’s it was still kind of cheaper to use practical effects. From what I gather this takes place at the end of the 21st when demons either from outer space or hell have taken over the world.
A Catholic religious organization called “Exocorio Deus Machine” fight them to gain back control of the earth. The Baron is an fanatical, albino whirlwind of righteous violence, one of the new Crusade’s best warriors, he gets taken prisoner by a witch queen named “Lady Pervertum” she has sex with the Baron unwillingly and tortures him until he gives up his semen to inseminate the Ragnarok beast to breath into existence the anti Christ. This movie is a Gwar concert and a Heavy Metal comic strip rolled up in one.
The creatures and costumes are really Tokusatsu like, this seems like a “Power Rangers” for adults. The funny thing is, the only real nudity shown in the movie is the sex slaves carrying mutant babies and all those sex slaves are big titted foam rubber chicks in leather S and M get ups. In fact “Baron Against the Demons” plays on the pleasure/pain thing a lot throughout the movie. Also there is clown androids who laugh constantly and work for Lady Pervertum, the androids start to evolve, becoming religious, burying each other and worshiping the Baron as their messiah. Yeah this fucking movie is insane.
The Baron is bad ass, after being shot at, beaten, and tortured he still fights like a banshee not caring if he literally bleeds to death until all evil is exterminated off the face of the earth. He is a fanatical Catholic neo crusader but he finds out that there is much more going on with himself than just serving his Catholic war organization. Maybe its a language barrier but again this movie is all over the place, there is so many different elements, creatures and characters just thrown in a huge blender. Depending on what your tastes are like this movie will be the best thing you ever tasted (me) or you’ll spit it out and rinse your mouth out with salt water.
In “Baron Against the Demons” Satan shows up as a giant, red eyed worm waiting for the anti Christ to be born, it looks like a practical effect creature filmed and put into a computer to make it see through. One thing this movie really excels at is the various costumes and creatures in this movie, really the whole look and aesthetic of the movie overpowers the scattershot story, again this really reminds me of a “Heavy Metal” magazine comic strip. Its European, its erotic, its violent and it makes no sense.
So would I recommend this? Hell yes I will, this is one I wish more people watched and talked about. I’ve looked for more info on this movie and it was very bare bones when it came to finding info. The cast is all Spanish, there is supposedly a region 2 DVD out there with English overdubbed that was released, it isn’t streaming anywhere on any platform. Damn shame, this would be up Prime’s and/or Tubi’s dark, b movie alley.
This movie can’t make up its mind if its a weird S and M movie, a sci fi movie, a post apocalyptic movie, a horror movie etc. Its all those god dammit!!! “Baron Against the Demons” is a experience you won’t yet forget. Guaranteed, even if you hate it. So where do you experience…uh this thing on a physical plane? Well try here: In non existent.
If “Bleeding Skull” was an archeologist, they’d be the type who specialize in digging up something nobody really cares about. They’d be that weird archeologist who doesn’t go looking and digging for rare dinosaur bones, treasure laden tombs and forgotten cities that would wow the world and get them a show on “The History Channel”, instead they go looking for dinosaur dung and broken shards of pottery from a tribe nobody gives a shit about. But you see, they serve a purpose, sometimes that dung is the dung of a dinosaur that hasn’t been discovered yet and that pottery might have veins of gold in it, though thats very rare. “Bleeding Skull” serves that purpose in the world, they dig up these movies that some crazy high school student or dad who wanted to be a film maker made using a cheap camcorder. The “Shot-On-Video” i.e. “SOV” movies, no budget travesties that are white noise to the nth degree, visual white noise that will have your eyes popping out of your head. Some of these movies actually saw distribution and ended up on the racks of video rental stores and some, like “Boarding House”, were actually fucking released to theaters. In other words, movies nobody gives a shit about. They also dig up really low budget movies with has been actors or wannabe actors. I prefer these weird archeologists, God speed their mission!!!
I discovered this web site through their first book “Bleeding Skull: A 1980’s Trash Odyssey”, it was a recommended book on Amazon because of my likes. I was automatically interested, to be honest the first SOV movie I saw was “Black Devil Doll From Hell” because it was in the “Psychotronic Film Guide”. “Black Devil Doll” rended my consciousness, and I couldn’t get it out of my head, it was like a black, carnivorous slug that bored its self into my brain and started to suck. It was a train wreck, it was offensive, dirty, nasty, no budget sleaze I wanted to hate it but couldn’t. I needed to find more like this, and “Bleeding Skull” ran to the rescue.
“Bleeding Skull” was founded by Joseph A Ziemba in 2004, to review these movies barely anybody knew existed. Again the archeologist digging deep in the ground for dinosaur poo hoping to find a new species. Dan Budnik was also involved in the beginning, reading his old reviews and articles in the book and web site always kept me in stitches, hope he is writing jokes for some show now. I love “Bleeding Skull”, however, the site is what I call a “wallet emptier”, they find movies all the time that I have to see. Most of them are impossible to find on youtube or as a torrent. The chase is actually better than the catch most of the time, when I see some of these movies I am kind of like “Ehhhh” but then I will find that new species of dinosaur and gold veins in that broken pottery and I’ll slap myself silly thinking, “why didn’t I find out about this earlier?!” Joe is a pretty cool guy too, when he reviewed “The Book of Bloody Stories Trilogy” I looked all over for it to no avail, in desperation I messaged him not expecting a response but I got one, he directed me to where it could be found all if which I document here: http://www.noisepuncher.net/2020/11/24/das-buch-der-blutigen-geschichten-translated-the-book-of-bloody-stories-aka-bloddy-curse-1987-1991/
“Bleeding Skull” also teamed up with Mondo Video, a branch of the Alamo Drafthouse to release a few of these hard to find movies, I recommend “Blonde Death” and “Night Feeder” all of which I will review at a later date. Now they’ve teamed up with AGFA and re released even more of these impossible to find movies. All of this is on their web site, reviews, features (some of which dig into new loads of visual white noise), where to buy copies of their first book, the second one “Bleeding Skull: A 1990’s Trash Odyssey” is set to come out this summer and I’ve already pre ordered it. So if movies with titles like “Satan’s Blade”, “Black Devil Doll From Hell”, “Alien Predator”, “Cards of Death” etc. than go right fucking now to this web site: http://bleedingskull.com/
There is some things in Japanese culture that have me scratching my head saying “WTF?!” And those things, like “Sanzo Hoshi” and “Jyomon Rashomon” make life worth living. I like weird puppets, and I like creepy things, you put them together and I am one happy, perverted SOB. Granted I am not into the whole “whips and leather” thing myself, but I find the topic interesting from a psychological and artistic stand point. I don’t want to be whipped or tortured while fucking, call me vanilla if you want to, I stand guilty. That being said when I first watched these shorts I was mind boggled.
I got this as an extra DVD when I ordered the Japanese “Guinea Pig” movies, the disc had no label or anything written on it, I figured it was some throwaway. I put it in my player and my eyes fell out of my head, I was confused and disturbed and for the longest time I couldn’t find the titles to the two shorts, it was mainly the language barrier. There isn’t much dialogue in these two shorts and the second short “Jyomon Rashomon” had a title card which I put in google translate. From there I was able to find out the titles.
Hailing from the Japanese “Guro” tradition I wasn’t able to find much info on these two shorts, info was very scanty. They were directed by Kentaro Uchida, the first short is “Sanzo Hoshi” it is about a monk by the same name who descends into hell and has his semen milked by female demons, when they drink his semen they get younger by 1000 years. This short visually is the better of the two and disturbing, its like a Jim Henson puppet show from Hell. Two female demons cane and jerk off the unfortunate monk while other demons watch getting aroused or playing strange music. The attention to detail is pretty cool and when I tried to find a date on when this was made I kept on running into “1967”, problem is the film grain, the hair styles and colors of the various demons scream “1980’s”, maybe these shorts were ahead of their time, I don’t know.
As you can see from the above gif these puppets are life size. At first I had to really look to make sure, and as you can see there is puppeteers dressed in black moving them, that is the only off setting thing. You can see them but it is actually amazing this much detail was put into the puppets and the surrounding scenes. Again beware, these are puppet shows are not meant for kids.
The second short “Jyomon Rashomon” is about a brigand who captures a woman and canes her in front of demons in robes who jerk off. In fact, he canes her until she pees, this one gets kind of monotonous but again the attention to detail is amazing. Again I was amazed and repulsed at the same time, I felt kind of dirty watching this short. Some of you out there will probably pop a tent in your pants, I did at first but the S&M stuff turned me the hell off. It just isn’t my thing, you dig?
Very scanty details and info on this one, the details remain a mystery. I want find out why this was made, who it was made for and more about who made it, the director, Kentaro Uchida, seems to only have directed these two shorts and an 1986 film in the tradition of the “Faces of Death” called “Shocks”, I’ll have to track that one down. I can’t find anything else out about the shorts. Did they play at specialty film festivals? Or maybe at Japanese S&M clubs and gatherings? These are the kinds of things that drive me and people think I am nuts for wanting to decode this type of visual white noise. If my mom or grandma ever saw my blog their eyes would fill with tears and they’d go into guilt trip mode and ask me “Why can’t you do a blog about good things? Positive things like kittens, flowers and Jesus? Why do you have to make a blog about gross and sick things?” I’d just shrug, trying to explain this stuff to people who have no ears, eyes or sensations for white noise of any kind is a waste of time, they won’t get it and I don’t expect them to.
So in closing this of course isn’t gonna be for everybody, some will find this disgusting, sexist, nasty etc. I am not talking to everybody though and it is up to you if you want to watch these two shorts. You’ve been warned, if you want to journey into a strange, beautiful and ugly at the same time, weird world than go here: https://www.bitchute.com/video/99naUcC9rXzk/
Visual white noise this is. Incoherent plot. Ridiculous fight scenes. Killer Chefs. A sorcerer that shoots chickens out of his fingers and turns unruly foot soldiers into chickens and then turns himself into a pig. A rip off Devo band. Exploding skeletons. Foam rubber dragons. WTF is this shit? When I am asking that question that means that I am having a good time.
I seriously have no idea how this thing was breathed into existence but I am glad that it was. Explanations escape me, at first I actually thought this movie was made this way because of a language barrier, kind of like “Miami Connection” or “Samurai Cop” and genius results inadvertently. Nope, two dudes with American names, Tim Everett and Tom Satori, wrote and directed it. Maybe large amounts of coke contributed to the nut house logic of this movie, hey it was 1984.
Simon, played by Simon Rhee a real life martial arts expert, finds out his sister Kim Lee, played by Arlene Montano, former Miss Philippines, was murdered by some thugs when she tries to retrieve some magic box, the thugs take a small tusk from her that gives directions to the magic box. Simon visits his sensei in some huge, glass corporate building, the sensei is floating off the ground in a lotus position and sends Simon out to find the killers of his sister. The sensei, Master Chan, is played by Simon’s real life brother Philip Rhee. From there you get talking Buddhas, Chinese restaurants where shirtless men juggle swords, waiters with weird masks, close ups of old women eating chicken (fucking disgusting by the way) etc.
Another thing, Simon seems to live in a hut where kids outside practice martial arts, the whole time I was watching this I was asking myself, what are those kids doing there? How did they get there? Does he teach martial arts? Were they orphans who had no place to go? Or even worse was Simon some type of creep? The questions don’t get answered, the kids are there and at one point they participate in beating up the Devo band wannabes outside the glass structure, this Simon guy doesn’t care that he is putting youths in danger. Speaking of the glass building, it looks like one of those structures that house lawyers upstairs and realtors downstairs. Maybe one of the film people’s brother’s friend of a friend worked there and they got permission to film there. You’ll be asking a lot of questions and they won’t get answered, failed martial arts students turned into chickens and served at a restaurant (Is it cannibalism if they were once humans?), battles in the astral plane and maniacs in Russian fur hats. Confusing, isn’t it?
“Furious” might make you furious, especially if your fans of movies like “The Avengers” and “The Fast and Furious” (see what I did there?) it might make you mad anyways. Its as if the filmmakers threw a bunch of ideas at the wall and whatever stuck they threw into the movie. “We’ll have a battle on the astral plane! Yeah thats it, that’ll hook em’! That band, those weird guys with the pyramid hats, glasses and jump suits, Devo, we’ll make bad guys that look like them and play in a band in the middle of the movie! We’ll have people turn into chickens! We’ll have karate! We’ll make millions, baby, millions!” (snort, snort, snort) Bet you that is how it went down too.
Apparently the Rhee brothers were stunt coordinators on this film and some of the people fighting in this movie are their students. I am not gonna deceive you, “Furious” is a cluster fuck of visual white noise, it might overwhelm you with its all encompassing power. Your jaw will drop to the fucking floor, lets hear it for “Furious”!