Friday, November 24, 2017

Captain America (1990)

Holy shit...  This is the 100th post for B-Movie Enema.  Yowzers.  How am I going to celebrate?

Fuckin' America.

I've already looked at one Captain America movie way back in May 2016.  So why am I double dipping?  Because Cap is my A-1 Super Guy.  He fights for freedom and awesomeness.

And also... America.  Fuckin' pure America.  Pure like Budweiser changing their name to America.

That first go around was the 1979 made-for-tv version of Captain America starring Reb Brown.  Just 11 years later, another attempt was made by 21st Century Film Corporation and producer Menaham Golan who previously was one of the Cannon Films heads.  Originally, the movie was planned to coincide with Cap's 50th anniversary in 1990, but ultimately never found its way to North American theaters, having to instead be released direct to VHS in the summer of 1992.

The movie was directed by schlock-master Albert Pyun who had a pretty good relationship with Golan from the days of Cannon having made Cyborg and Alien from L.A. for Cannon.  Really, for all intents and purposes, the 1990 Captain America movie was a Cannon film.  It even featured skilled character actors like Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, and Ronny Cox.  It even featured famed Italian actress Francesca Neri in an early role.

What's truly interesting, though, is that the film stars Matt Salinger, son of legendary author J.D. Salinger.

That's all I have on Salinger.  Really.  He's the son of J.D. Salinger.  He's done some successful stage productions and is pretty active in the producing game, but I kinda feel like saying you're the son of J.D. Salinger trumps pretty much any other fact you could find about him.

The plot is one we've all heard before: Captain America becomes the USA's greatest hero during World War II as he fights the villainous Red Skull.  He ultimately was lost stopping the Skull from blowing up Washington, D.C. and was found in the ice decades later.  He now has to stop the Red Skull again and save the President.

I have no problem saying that this movie holds a kind of special place in my heart.  I don't hate it like so many do.  It's silly, sure, but it was 1990.  Comic book movies were still very much in their infancy.  I even like the movie enough to own it on blu-ray.  That's not how I'm gonna watch it for this article, though.  Oh no.  I'm gonna watch a shitty VHS transfer by way of YouTube because...

Fuckin' America.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Punisher (1989)

Frank Castle...  It's the A-1 super bad ass of the Marvel Universe.  He is a marksman from the U.S. Marines who also trained with the Navy Seals.  Basically, name some group in the military, and Castle probably had something to do with it.

When he returned from service, he was excited to come home to his wife and children.  However, while picnicking with them, tragedy happened.  A mob deal went sour and the shootout resulted in Castle's family being caught in the middle and killed.  He vowed to destroy every criminal and became known as The Punisher.

Punisher's first appearance came in a 1974 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in which he tries to take down Spidey for the apparent murder of Norman Osborn (not knowing the truth which was Osborn actually was a supervillain and his death was at his own hands).  He became a huge hit with readers, and grew to even greater prominence in the grimy-gritty days of the 1980s.  That's when he got not one, but two series of his own.  With this type of popularity, the 80s mostly being a tough-on-crime era full of action and shoot-em-ups, and hype growing for the upcoming grittier version of Batman coming to screens (as opposed to the campy 1960s version from the TV series), it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came knocking for a Punisher movie.

New World International won the opportunity to put Frank on the big screen.  They intended on putting the film out in theaters in August of 1989.  That would have been great timing to capitalize on Batman's popularity, and still get those lucrative summer bucks.  The film was delayed being released, playing only in a couple places in Europe in late 1989, and at a comic convention in 1990, but New World's financial issues that would eventually lead to their demise caused them to have to sell the film to Live Entertainment.  Live released it direct-to-video in summer of 1991.

I remember seeing advertisements for this around before its release to video, but I never saw the movie.  I was never a huge Punisher fan.  I'm not that big on grimy and gritty anti-heroes.  I prefer the sunshine heroes as opposed to those who utilize darkness and shadows like villains would.  I have seen the later films made in the 2000s (The Punisher in 2004 and Punisher: War Zone in 2008, the latter being far superior to which I know I am in the minority with that opinion).  While it did carry some negativity from fans, but not quite like 1990's Captain America and 1994's Fantastic Four did.  That indicates to me what I always believed - this movie mostly flew under the radar and therefore never that much of a disappointment in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, now that he's made his big bow on Netflix's Daredevil series, he's about to get his own series on the streaming outlet and is likely to get the attention he deserved as one of the best selling comic book characters of the 80s and 90s.

The synopsis from the back of the DVD box reads: "The avenging angel of Marvel Comics fame comes brilliantly to life in this searing action-adventure thriller!  Dolph Lundgren stars as Frank Castle, a veteran cop who loses his entire family to a mafia car bomb.  Only his ex-partner (Louis Gossett, Jr.) believes Castle survived the blast to become THE PUNISHER... a shadowy, invincible fighter against the evil who lives for total revenge on his mob enemies.  Lashing out from a labyrinth of subterranean sewers, THE PUNISHER leads a heavily armed raid into a world of brutal crime and savage retribution.  A world where only one thing is certain... the guilty will be punished."

Not being much of a fan of The Punisher, and by no means an expert, I will primarily be watching this as a casual viewer.  I will likely not be able to point out too much that wasn't well adapted - well aside from Castle not being a cop and it was a shootout that killed his family.  So let's get this thing rolling!

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Fantastic Four (1994)

The Fantastic Four is Marvel Comics' "first family".  Without them, there literally is no Marvel.  They were the brainchild of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and launched in 1961 to capitalize on the re-emergence of superhero popularity in comic books that had waned by the late 1950s.

The Fantastic Four was comprised of leader Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) who could stretch like rubber, Susan Storm (Invisible Girl) who could turn herself invisible, The Thing  (Ben Grimm) who was a hulking rock monster, and Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) who was both Susan's brother and able to light himself on fire.  They treated each other as family and even argued like one too.  It was the first real example of a team of superheroes who didn't always get along.  Despite the overall high sci-fi type of tales they would tell, Lee and Kirby had created something that had a realistic flavor to the characters and their interactions.

Sadly, the attempts to bring the FF to screen has not proven to be very successful.  No matter how important the Fantastic Four are to the Marvel Universe and the great stories of my youth and before, most don't really even care about them.

Today, we're going to look at the very first attempt - 1994's The Fantastic Four.  The rights to the movie was purchased in the mid-80s by a German filmmaker and, before the rights expired at the end of 1992, a low budget version of the film was rushed into production.  The actors were cast, sets were built, and everything started to roll.  The actors and much of the production crew were kept out of the loop about one very key fact...

Producers Bernd Eichinger and Roger Corman never planned on releasing the film despite trailers running before films released in 1993 and promotional materials landing at comic conventions along with the actors actually being sent out to promote the film.

If you want to know more about the behind the scenes details, I definitely recommend the documentary on Hulu called Doomed!  It's a fascinating, and kind of sad, story.  I'm not here to regurgitate what was covered in that documentary.  I want to watch this movie and tell you about it.  This is available on YouTube to watch for free.  As for the plot, I'm also grabbing this from the YouTube listing: "When an experimental space voyage goes awry, four people are forever changed by cosmic rays: Reed Richards, inventor and leader of the group gains the ability to stretch his body and takes the name Mr. Fantastic. His girlfriend, Sue Storm, gains the ability to turn invisible and create force fields becoming The Invisible Girl. Her little brother, Johnny Storm, becomes The Human Torch with the ability to control fire, including covering his own body with flame. The pilot Ben Grimm is turned into the super-strong, super-tough Thing. Together they become a team of super-heroes and use their unique powers to foil the evil plans of villains."

Let's have a look, shall we?

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)

Marvel Comics...  Man, what more can I possibly say about how awesome they are?  Obviously, they know what they are doing with their movies.  Over the past 20 years, Marvel has, for the most part, cranked out great superhero movie after great superhero movie.  Starting with 1998's Blade all the way up to today's Thor: Ragnarok, no other movie studio has come close to recreating their source material into a major motion picture.

However, there was about 20 years before the release of Blade that things were pretty lean for Marvel getting their intellectual properties into movies.  So, I'll be looking at four of these attempts this month.  There's no better place to start than right here with The Incredible Hulk Returns.

There are two very good reasons why I start here.  First, The Incredible Hulk was a pretty successful TV series for Marvel than ran from 1978 to 1982, then returned as a trilogy of made-for-TV movies in the late 1980s.  This was the first of them (the second featured Daredevil and the Kingpin and the third resulted in the death of both the Hulk and David Banner).

The second reason is because, much like today's Thor: Ragnarok, The Incredible Hulk Returns features a team-up of the Hulk and Thor.  This time, Thor was played by Eric Allen Kramer who was fairly new on the scene at the time and ultimately became a fairly popular character actor who still works to this day.

The movie premiered on NBC on May 22, 1988.  I was really, really excited for it.  Back then, I was buying comics whenever I had a spare $1.05 ($1 cover price plus 5% Indiana Sales Tax back then).  My favorite comic series at the time was Thor.  Knowing Thor would be making his live action debut I was losing my mind.  I could not wait to see the mighty Thunder God in his classic dark blue top with the metal circles and that flowing red cape and those yellow boots and light blue tights...  But...

Well, I'll get that in a little bit.  But for now, let me get to what the basic synopsis is for the movie.  David Banner believes he is about to find a cure for his little green problem, but he runs into a former student, Donald Blake, who tells Banner that he found this magical hammer that summons the Norse God Thor who is bound to serve Blake (sigh).  Thor is a dick and ends up pissing Banner off enough to bring out the Hulk.  After the two make nice, they battle a criminal organization.

Let's get this started so I can talk about how frustrating this movie was for me as a kid.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

I have a confession to make, and I don't think when I reveal it, I will be the only one who shares this feeling.

I freaking love Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

For some, that's heresy.  "A Halloween movie without Michael Myers?!?  No, sir!  I will not have it!"  Well, the truth is, the original movie, a masterpiece that excelled beyond most people's expectations, was never meant to have an entire franchise centering around lead antagonist Michael Myers.  Really, John Carpenter only wanted to tell his own version of the boogey man.  He and producer Debra Hill did conceive a sequel that would continue the story of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), but when approached by Universal Studios for a third installment, Carpenter said he'd only agree to it if it was not connected to the first two films at all.

The idea was to start a series of movies centered around the holiday of Halloween and create an anthology series where each year a different story of ghouls and goblins and what have you would be featured.  Think of it like a big screen version of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery.  Universal, hungry to milk that Halloween title for all that they could, agreed.

After this third film in the series failed commercially, Universal made no more Halloween films.

But is it bad?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  It's pretty well mixed.  Some people think this movie is grotesque for its targeting of children.  Most of the people who are targeted, hunted, stalked, and killed are adults (with one major exception I'll talk about when we get to it), but the entire plan was to pretty much wipe out a generation of young children.  Some think the movie is interesting and stylistically engaging.  Some cannot get past this movie possessing the Halloween title and not including Michael Myers as the big bad.

Me?  I grew up with this movie.  When it came out, I was five years old.  It played relentlessly on TV and I watched it often.  I loved the mood and general creepy atmosphere created by several of the shots and sequences.  To me, this is the finest of the Halloween sequels and not simply because I want to applaud the attempt to make sequels in this series without Michael Myers, but because I truly believe it is a movie worth praise.

So what's our plot?  From the back of the Scream Factory Blu-Ray release: "When a terrified toy salesman is mysteriously attacked and brought to the hospital, babbling and clutching the year's most popular Halloween costume, an eerie pumpkin mask, doctor Daniel Challis is thrust into a terrifying Halloween nightmare. Working with the salesman's daughter, Ellie, Daniel traces the mask to the Silver Shamrock Novelties company and its founder, Conal Cochran. Ellie and Daniel uncover Cochran's shocking Halloween plan and must stop him before trick-or-treaters across the country never come home in this terrifying thriller."

Let's crack this thriller open and see what it's all about!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

I've covered Leatheface.  Jason Voorhees popped up a couple weeks ago.  Freddy Krueger even haunted our nightmares last week.  Now it's time to introduce you to Angela.

Who's Angela?  Well, she was the star of a series of slasher flicks derivative of the original Friday the 13th film.  She first appeared in this week's feature, Sleepaway Camp.  And in no way do I expect this movie to end with any kind of twist ending whatsoever.

This is the type of movie I fucking loved when I was a kid.  It's a movie that placed kids in peril.  The majority of the cast are kids of obvious young ages.  I don't believe any of the kids are meant to be older than 16.  While there are plenty of adults around to be victims, the vast majority of kills are young kids.  Like real young.

And while, sure, that would be bothersome to a kid watching a movie like this, the 80s were lousy with movies that featured kids doing things things on their own, dealing with adventures, and problems, and terrors.  It is one of the reasons why Stranger Things is such a big hit for most people who grew up in that decade.  We all had some sense of freedom to explore and get into problems and run away from bad guys, find gold from a pirate ship in some cave, and get killed by a stalking killer at a sleepaway camp.

The 80s were fucking sweet, guys.

I really don't think I need to intro this anymore.  Let me give you the skinny from the back of the beautiful Scream Factory Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack: "After a terrible boating accident killed her family, shy Angela Baker went to live with her eccentric Aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky.  This summer, Martha decides to send them both to Camp Arawak, a place to enjoy the great outdoors.  Shortly after their arrival, a series of bizarre and violent 'accidents' begin to claim the lives of various campers.  Has a dark secret returned from the camp's past... or will an unspeakable horror end the Summer season for all?  From its grisly makeup effects to the truly shocking and unforgettable climax, Sleepaway Camp is no ordinary slasher film... it's a cult classic!"

It doesn't get much better than this everybody.  Let's dive in!

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

This movie sucks.

Let me back up for a moment.  A Nightmare on Elm Street is a bit of a bugaboo for me.  The first three films in the series were pretty great.  You have a legitimate, and terrifying, horror movie that took roots from urban legends about a boogey man who could strike at you in your dreams.  The second, after a critical reevaluation, really turned out to be so much more than just a cheap sequel that New Line Cinema tried to crank out to capitalize on the first.  The third brought back our original survivor Nancy and she sacrificed herself to finally kill our boogey man, Freddy Krueger.

Then everything else sucked.  Hard.  Like a taco salad from McDonald's.  All the ingredients seem perfectly edible because everything else on the menu was fine when you tasted it, but when you put your fork in it, you realize you're just eating Wade the Fry Cook's turds mixed in with tomatoes and lettuce.

Wade isn't even garnishing that turd taco salad with sour cream, you fucking idiots!

Any kid I knew who thought Freddy Krueger was the bee's knees (when compared to the other slasher giants such as Jason, Michael Myers, or Leatherface) was a fucking moron and probably had a shit eating grin courtesy of Wade the McDonald's Fry Cook.  None of those other slashers talked.  Freddy made up for that in spades.  Like he couldn't stop talking.  He called people "Bitch" so fucking often, Rick and Morty made an entire gag out of it with a parody character called Scary Terry.  By the fourth, fifth, and sixth films, Robert Englund was a real sport about playing the character that he made famous and, in turn, made him famous, but the movies were jokes and a pretty big waste of time to watch.

Again, the first few movies were plenty okay, and a couple of them are actually quite fantastic.  However, by the time we got to the fifth movie, they were struggling pretty bad.  This came at the end of the 80s.  The slasher genre was basically dying out.  People wanted something a little different by this time.  Hell, it couldn't even get an October release as a horror movie.

I guess I better crack this fuck dick of a movie open and talk about before I talk myself out of it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Happy Friday the 13th, folks.  Even though this occurs a couple times every year, this one is kinda special.  It isn't just Friday the 13th, but it's a Friday the 13th in October, the undisputed scariest month on the calendar.  It's like a double Friday the 13th!  If only it was also a full moon then everyone everywhere would just get murdered by guys in hockey masks, werewolves, Michael Myers, or Irish toy makers.

This is the perfect chance for me to talk about my favorite Jason Voorhees movie - Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

This is beloved by fans, but also a turning point for the series itself.  For one, this shifted the movies from being a series of movies trying to be serious and either scary or gore-filled to a series of films that started to have fun with itself.  The movie also acted as a final piece of a trilogy of movies that focused on hero Tommy Jarvis.

Back in the fourth film, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Tommy, then played by Corey Feldman, was introduced as a child who ultimately killed our machete-wielding antagonist by impersonating the child version of Jason and hacking his fucking head to shit with his own weapon.  In Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, people were being killed by an impersonator wearing a hockey mask.  People thought it was an older Tommy who seemed to be pretty messed up after killing Jason as a child.  At the end of that movie, it appeared Tommy did break and now going to take up Jason's legacy.

In Part VI, writer and director Tom McLoughlin decided, thankfully, to throw away the ominous ending of Part V, and went in a new direction.  McLoughlin decided to treat Jason like one of the classic Universal monsters, most notably Frankenstein's Monster.  He also made it self-referential and had characters react as the audience would or give us a moment to laugh at the happenings of the movie or at the characters themselves.

I really don't want to wait much longer to jump into the movie.  This is my motherfucking jam.  This is the movie in the series I have seen more than any others.  If I'm hanging out with friends and one of them suggests we all watch a Jason movie and ask which one we should watch, I vote VI every time.  So let's pop this fucker in and enjoy!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most beloved horror movies of the modern era.  It's full of intensity, actual terrifying moments, and visceral violence that stays with you for years after you watch it.  It came out in 1974 during the golden age of exploitation horror before the genre was essentially taken over by the slasher genre that Halloween gave birth to in the late 70s.

The film also boasts that it has connections to real life events.  Well...  Sort of.  Leatherface was inspired by Ed Gein who was a real life serial killer who did indeed take skin from his victims and started making a skin suit.  There are some minor plot details that also came from the Gein case, but that was all in Wisconsin, not Texas.

Tobe Hooper, the director of the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, started making more mainstream movies, most notably, Poltergeist.  By the mid-80s, he was riding pretty high.  He signed a three picture deal with our good friends at Cannon Films.  What he delivered for them was not what they expected.  His first film in the deal, Lifeforce, was a pretty large scale sci-fi monster movie that stretched the usual budget of a Cannon Film.  They also didn't expect Hooper to deliver a remake of a 1950s sci-fi film with Invaders from Mars.  They DEFINITELY did not expect The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to be a dark comedy causing Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus to lose their freaking minds with Hooper.

Frankly, I kinda wonder if Hooper was trolling Cannon a bit so he could make movies he wanted to make and they were there to give him the deal.

So, there you have it.  Hooper wanted this second Chainsaw to be more of a send up of the horror genre of the time he basically helped create.  While it did make almost twice its budget, the film under-performed.  Hardcore fans of slasher films pretty much hated it.  Critics didn't care for it either.  It probably was not helped by being released as "Unrated" when it couldn't get less than an X from the motion picture ratings dudes.  Even though most didn't like it then, it's one of the few 80s horror movies that actually holds up very well in the present.  It even grew on some of its original detractors and became a pretty massive cult classic.

The synopsis from Amazon Prime is: "A radio host (Caroline Williams) is victimized by a cannibal family as a former Texas Marshall (Dennis Hopper) hunts them."  That's all it gives, but don't worry, it's much much more than that.  Let's get this thing started and officially kick off my October theme of modern monsters to celebrate Halloween!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Darktown Strutters (1975)

It's not every day that someone gets to say "Last week I watched My Stepmother Is an Alien and this week, I'm taking a look at Darktown Strutters."  I feel pretty accomplished.

Not only do I feel accomplished by typing a sentence that I'm sure no one has this past decade, but I'm fast approaching the centennial mark for B-Movie Enema!  This marks the 91st entry of this blog.  That means that before the end of November, I'll have hit 100 posts.  How do I plan on celebrating that mark?

By taking a small break to pursue some other projects which could mean some significant overhauls to this blog.

However, that doesn't mean I'm anywhere near done yet.  Oh no!  I have some sweet blaxploitation to get to first.  Blaxploitation, I might add, that is being brought to us by producer Gene Corman, the brother of Roger Corman... a white guy.  Huh, okay.  It was directly by William Witney... a white guy from Oklahoma.  Well.  Okay, I guess you could say some African Americans maybe had a rough road to get their movies made so they had to get help from other established, white dudes.  Who wrote it?  George Armitage.  Now that is surely a brother...  Motherfucker.

He's a white guy from Hartford, Connecticut.

Despite all this, Darktown Strutters does have a pretty solid cult following with Quentin Tarantino giving it praise - because he has a fucking opinion about everything and someone, somewhere, is glad to write about them.  I know my way around these types of movies, but, I admit, I don't know this one.  A friend sent me a bonkers trailer for it and we saw it was on YouTube to watch for free, so I jumped at the opportunity to add it to the list of movies I wanted to cover on the blog.

I apparently am not the only one who doesn't know anything about the movie.  There's no plot or synopsis on YouTube, where I'm watching it, or Wikipedia.  Thanks to IMDb, I do learn that Syreena has to find her mother, Cinderella, then some crazy shenanigans ensue.  So I guess I should dive right in and watch this mutha...