The Oily Maniac (1976)

The Oily Maniac in action!
The Oily Maniac in action!

Directed by Meng-Hua Ho.
Starring Danny Lee, Ping Chen, Lily Li, Lun Hua, Hsieh Wang and Angela Yu Chien.

He's oily and he's a maniac
He’s oily and he’s a maniac
There's no escaping the Oily Maniac...
There’s no escaping the Oily Maniac…

Written by Lam Chua (as Tsai Lan), this Malaysia-set story revolves around disabled seeker of justice Sheng Yung, who works for a law firm and finds himself compelled to use a spell that turns him into a supernatural, oily being, enabling him to protect his childhood sweetheart Little Yue (Chen) from lowlife characters.

Sheng loves Little Yue, though the film reveals that his disability stops her from returning the affection
Sheng (Danny Lee) loves Little Yue, though the film reveals that his disability stops her from returning the affection
Sheng dribbles beneath the door as a viscous puddle...
Sheng dribbles beneath the door as a viscous puddle…
...and then turns into the roaring Oily Maniac to kill Little Yue's would-be rapist attacker!
…and then turns into the roaring Oily Maniac, ready to kill Little Yue’s would-be rapist attacker!

Yung, however, begins to use his sludgy alter ego to inflict muddy vigilante justice on various other deceitful characters, including an unlicensed female surgeon who botches boob jobs and an actress that accuses an innocent neighbour of rape in court. Once Yung discovers that his corrupt, sleazoid boss is in cahoots with Yue’s new boyfriend, in a scheme that will eventually lead to Yue’s rape and suicide, events rapidly spiral out of control, climaxing in confrontations with machete-wielding thugs and the local cops. 

An example of less than perfect breast surgery...
An example of less than perfect breast surgery…
The Oily Maniac runs amok in an operating theatre!
The Oily Maniac runs amok in an operating theatre!
 The female surgeon gets splatted!
The female surgeon gets splatted!

This Shaw Brothers release, sporting pretty decent production values, is a crazy blend of 70s-style exploitation, horror and action, with some courtroom dramatics added to the mix. 

Courtroom shenanigans
Courtroom shenanigans

The movie’s unique selling point, of course, is the Oily Maniac himself, initially brought to life when Sheng kneels at the bottom of a pit he’s dug in the centre of his living room, chanting a special spell as the hole fills with water. Sheng is submerged beneath the muddy waters… then rises back into view, transformed into a yellow-eyed, mud & oil-coated humanoid monster… as the music from JAWS plays on the soundtrack! This bizarre, grungy creature has an exposed, red beating heart and emits an echoey roar similar to the kind of sounds the monsters made in the cartoon series SCOOBY DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! 

Sheng performs the ritual that will turn him into the Oily Maniac
Sheng performs the ritual that will turn him into the Oily Maniac
Look into my glowing, yellow eyes...
Look into my glowing, yellow eyes…

The Oily Maniac can turn into an animated, not particularly realistic mud puddle, which slithers around the place, before forming back into a slime-covered humanoid. We see this cartoony splash of goo zipping about floors and walls quite a few times in the movie, accompanied by the JAWS music! After his various attacks, the Oily Maniac always changes back into Sheng, who wakes up lying on the floor of his home, covered in oil splotches.

Here comes the animated slime puddle!
Here comes the animated slime puddle!

Whenever Sheng wants to become the monstrous maniac, he must coat himself in oily substances to trigger the transformation, so we get to see him do such things as pump diesel over his body at a gas station or submerge himself in a barrel of boiling oil near a road construction site. 

Once he’s the Oily Maniac again, he can either slither about as that squirmy puddle or go on the rampage as the lumbering, blobby beast. Interestingly, when it suits him, the Oily Maniac ceases his slow, cumbersome mode of walking and becomes able to leap around very agilely indeed, dashing across rooftops and running over the top of vehicles.

At one point the Oily Maniac spits out oil...
At one point the Oily Maniac spits out oil…
...which splatters all over his attackers!
…which splatters all over his attackers!

Memorable set pieces include the glistening, oil-coated monster rising from a pink bathtub to attack a victim and a rampage through an operating theatre that specialises in restoring women’s hymens!

A hymen-replacement operation that will soon be interrupted by the Oily Maniac!
A hymen-replacement operation that will soon be interrupted by the Oily Maniac!
It came out of the bathtub!
It came out of the bathtub!
As a scared lover prays for mercy, the muddy monster paces away after killing his latest victim in her pink bathroom
As a scared lover prays for mercy, the muddy monster paces away after killing his latest victim in her pink bathroom

Danny Lee, years before starring in John Woo’s THE KILLER (1989), dabbled in several fantastical Shaw Brothers productions in the 1970s, including THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977) and THE SUPER INFRAMAN (1975). But it’s in THE OILY MANIAC that Lee gets to really immerse himself in an oddball, weirder-than-weird tale. As Sheng, who is disabled (due to contracting polio as a child), he is initially a browbeaten character inspired to become a powerful, avenging pile of slime to protect Little Yue, but his motivations become increasingly muddled, leading to him killing nurses simply because they happen to work for the unlicensed surgeon. 

The Oily Maniac seeks revenge on Sheng's shady boss as he canoodles with his secretary in a car
The Oily Maniac seeks revenge on Sheng’s shady boss as he canoodles with his secretary in a car

Constantly finding excuses to feature bare female breasts and various misogynistic moments, THE OILY MANIAC is certainly sleazy much of the time, intermingling these exploitative sequences with avenging monster action that predates Troma’s THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984).

The gooey glob-thing in action!
The gooey glob-thing in action!

The scenes featuring the vengeful mud-man are actually not particularly gory, but they’re certainly outlandishly enjoyable to watch, culminating in a couple of large-scale showdowns, where we see the Oily Maniac transfixed with blades and shot at by the police. But there’s no stopping this sebaceous mound of muck, who can always turn into a pool of cartoon sludge, so when his slimy arm and his oily head get chopped off at one point… they simply regrow again! Finally, it is a co-worker, who loves Sheng, that ends the Oily Maniac’s reign of vigilante terror by setting him on fire.

Oily Maniac's arm is cut off...
Oily Maniac’s arm is cut off…
...but it grows back!
…but it grows back!
Oily Maniac's head is cut off...
Oily Maniac’s head is cut off…
...but it grows back!
…but it grows back!
Don't ya love the look of this muddy mutha?!
Don’t ya love the look of this muddy mutha?!

A colourful, cruel, crazy Shaw Brothers B-movie gem. 

UK DVD cover
UK DVD cover

Okay then, one more shot of this oily beauty…

Echoey growl!!!
Echoey growl!!!

Attack of the Super Monsters (1982)

This film is odd, okay? You've been warned!
This film is really odd, okay? You’ve been warned!
Off with its head!

Directors: Toru Sotoyama and Tom Wyner. Writers: Masaki Tsuji, Ifumi Uchiyama and Tom Wyner. Voice cast: Tom Wyner, Dan Woren, Robin Levenson, Cam Clarke, Mike Reynolds and Joe Perry.

Zap!
Zap!
This distinctively-posed dinosaur illustration was used for the ATTACK OF THE SUPER MONSTERS VHS cover…
...when Godzilla posed in a similar fashion in GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019)
…and Godzilla posed in a very similar way in GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019) many years later

This film, released on VHS in the USA, is actually an edit of episodes from Japanese TV series DINOSAUR WAR IZENBORG, which was produced by Tsuburaya Productions, airing from 1977 to 1978 on TV Tokyo.

American voice actor Tom Wyner is the unhinged genius who decided to splice four of the 20-minute episodes together and dub them into English. He deserves a medal! 

DVD cover
DVD cover from 2007

This is the story of dinosaurs returning to the Earth’s surface to attack mankind. These monster dinos are super-large, telepathic, can talk and breath fire! They can also turn normal Earth animals, such as dogs and rats, into monsters.

This talking Tyrannosaurus Rex can aim eye-beams at dogs...
This talking Tyrannosaurus Rex can aim eye-beams at dogs…
 ...and turn them into red, slavering killers!
…and turn them into red, slavering killers!

ATTACK OF THE SUPER MONSTERS is a super-weird production: a mix of live action, anime and some stop-motion!

Two harpoons are fired into this dinosaur's mouth... and he just eats them!
Two harpoons are fired into this dinosaur’s mouth… and he just eats them!
The red-eyed brute breaths-out radioactive dust
The red-eyed brute breaths-out radioactive dust

The human characters are portrayed via cartoon animation, whilst the monsters are a mixture of suitmation, some stop-motion (for the underground ‘normal’ dinosaurs) and props. The Earth animals that go mad are either anime (the dogs, rats) or props (rubber bats on wires.)

There’s a lot of scale model work used too, for the buildings, vehicles and landscapes.

Red rats attack a little girl!
Red rats attack a little girl!
A subterranean stop-motion sauropod
A subterranean stop-motion sauropod
These cave-dwelling stop-motion dinosaurs are rather crudely animated
These cave-dwelling stop-motion dinosaurs are rather crudely animated

The world is defended by Gemini Force, which is led by the semi-android brother and sister duo of Jim and Gem Starbuck… who can ‘combine’ in a ‘Gemini transfer’ that joins their ‘life essences’ together so that they can beat the monsters.

"Gem.. Gem... Gemini!"
“Gem.. Gem… Gemini!”

One of the super monsters is a glowing-eyed stegosaurus that can vibrate its back-plates to turn cartoon rats into killers! Gemini Force uses its drill-nosed flying Gemini Ship to slice off some of the dinosaur’s back-plates… and then our heroes bore their vehicle straight through the stegosaurus’ belly! The dino then blows up, of course.

This stegosaurus can talk and control hordes of cartoon rats!
This stegosaurus can talk and control hordes of cartoon rats!
Watch out for the red rodent!
Watch out for the red rodent!
A super-styracosaurus can emit yellow beams from its mouth!
A super-styracosaurus can emit a yellow beam from its mouth…
...and it can also breath fire!
…and it can also breath fire!
The styracosaurus teams-up another super monster, who has had one of its arms sawn off by Gemini Force!
The styracosaurus teams-up another super monster, who has had one of its arms sawn off by Gemini Force!

Another dino-kaiju that attacks the surface world is a huge pteranodon that commands a flock of killer bats! This beaked beast pecks at a skyscraper at one point.

When pterosaurs attack!
When pterosaurs attack!
 Gemini Force injures the pteranodon... and it explodes!
Gemini Force injures the pteranodon… and it explodes!
A dead killer bat
A dead killer bat

The main villain, Lord Tyrannus, is actually portrayed by the reused T-Rex suit from the gloriously cheesy film THE LAST DINOSAUR (1977)!

Man-in-suit Lord Tyrannus rules over his stop-motion dinosaur underlings!
Man-in-suit Lord Tyrannus rules over his stop-motion dinosaur underlings!

Oh, the madness of it all!

Boom!
Boom!

Don’t try to logically make sense of it all, or your brain may well explode just like the dinosaurs do in this film. Just go with the flow and enjoy…

From Hell It Came (1957)

Angry tree stump on the loose!
Angry tree stump on the loose!

This sci-fi-supernatural-horror flick was directed by Dan (THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES) Milner, written by Richard Bernstein, and stars Tod (RETURN OF THE APE MAN) Andrews, Tina (THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE) Carver, Linda Watkins, John (WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST) McNamara, Gregg (ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU) Palmer and Robert Swan.

US one sheet poster
US one sheet poster

An island prince is accused of a murder he didn’t commit, is executed with a dagger hammered into his heart and then buried. Scientists based on the island, dealing with an outbreak of plague, must now deal with an altogether different problem… when the deceased prince returns from the dead… as a vengeful tree monster!

The prince is innocent! This is a travesty of justice! I hope he returns as a killer tree!
The prince is innocent! This is a travesty of justice! I hope he returns as a killer tree!
Stumpy likes the ladies
Stumpy likes the ladies

FROM HELL IT CAME has a talky start, where we must suffer some Dick Van Dyke-level ‘cockney’ chat courtesy of Mrs Kilgore (Watkins). We also get to hear some outdated views on a woman’s role in life, when the female protagonist, Dr Terry Mason (Carver), is told by her boyfriend she should become a wife & mother at home, rather than a doctor.

The wooden monster, known as Tabanga, paces (very slowly) through the trees...
The wooden monster, known as Tabanga, paces (very slowly) through the trees…
As with so many 50s monsters, this bark-covered beast likes to scare the ladies!
As with so many 1950s movie monsters, this bark-covered beast likes to scare the ladies!

But don’t worry, forget about all that chatty stuff, the film livens up once the stump-monster sprouts from the grave. I know this creature is the butt of jokes and is considered to be a very goofy, stupid movie critter… but I actually found it kind of creepy in several scenes! The leering lump of wood is not a very agile monster (it’s a stiff hunk of bark, let’s face it!), so it basically just lurks amongst the foliage sometimes and looms over its victims, and I guess this is what I found slightly eerie and freaky about it!

The sneering wooden lump strikes again!
The sneering wooden avenger strikes again!

The wooden, radioactive, revenge-seeking Tabanga (pronounced Tabonga in the film) was designed by an uncredited Paul Blaisdell and looks charmingly ridiculous as it goes on its (plodding) South Seas island rampage.

Tabanga is, of course, is the only reason to watch this flick!

Please don't laugh! (Okay, you can if you want to)
Please don’t laugh! (Okay, you can if you want to)
The angry stump stomps about!
The angry stump stomps about!
She done him wrong... so he dumps her into a pit of quicksand!
She done him wrong… so he dumps her into a pit of quicksand!

Below are some of Paul Blaisdell’s concept sketches for Tabanga. The monster suit was built by Don Post Studios, but it was clearly based Paul’s designs. Paul, unfortunately, never got paid for his work and didn’t get his sketches back, either. 

Paul Blaisdell concept art showing the front and back of Tobanga
Paul Blaisdell concept art showing designs for the front and back of Tabanga
More concept art, including an exploration of how Tobanga grows up from the ground
More of Paul’s concept art, including an exploration of how Tabanga grows up from the ground

Here are some simply stump-tastic posters…

US three sheet poster
US three sheet poster
US poster
US poster
US half sheet
US half sheet
UK quad poster
UK quad poster
US insert poster
US insert poster

Some lobby cards…

Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card

Newspaper ads…

From Hell It Came was released by Allied Artists on a double bill with The Disembodied
From Hell It Came was released by Allied Artists on a double bill with The Disembodied
'The DOUBLE DEMON show!'
‘The DOUBLE DEMON show!’

Double bill pressbook for FROM HELL IT CAME and THE DISEMBODIED…

Above: various pages from the pressbook...
Above: various pages from the pressbook…

Okay, one more look at Tabanga terrorising a victim…

I'm rooting for Tabanga!
I’m rooting for Tabanga!

Brides of Blood (1968)

The globby monster approaches the sacrificial victim!
The globby monster approaches a sacrificial victim!

Also known as BRIDES OF THE BEAST, ISLAND OF LIVING HORROR and other titles, BRIDES OF BLOOD was directed by Eddie (THE BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT) Romero and Gerardo (BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRES) de Leon, written by Cesar (THE BLOOD DRINKERS) Amigo and stars John (THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE) Ashley, Kent (THE MIGHTY GORGA) Taylor, Beverly (INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS) Hills, Eva Darren, Mario Montenegro and Oscar Keesee.

'Sacrificed to the non-human creature!'
‘Sacrificed to the non-human creature!’

This cult flick tells the lurid tale of a scientist (Taylor), his sexually frustrated wife (Hills) and a member of the Peace Corps (Ashley) visiting Blood Island. Here they discover that nearby atomic bomb tests from the 40s have caused mutations in the local flora and fauna.

Kent Taylor and Beverly Hills (aka Beverly Powers)
Kent Taylor and Beverly Hills (aka Beverly Powers)
John Ashley: a regular in Filipino monster movies
John Ashley: a regular in Filipino monster movies

These mutant oddities include killer plants (many of them banana trees!), a flesh-hungry butterfly and a monstrous being that the locals placate by offering him local sacrificial maidens to be lusted over and ripped to pieces. As the story progresses, the alter ego of this blubbery, woman-hungry humanoid is eventually discovered…


Who is actually turning into this weird-faced fiend?!
Who is actually turning into this weird-faced fiend?!
'Lusting for women it terrified the land!'
‘Lusting for women it terrified the land!’

This Filipino horror movie, one of a series of ‘Blood Island’ films (others including BEAST OF BLOOD and THE MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND), is an entertaining, pulpy yarn, like something you’d imagine reading in an old issue of Weird Tales.

She's tied-up... awaiting the arrival of the blobby, woman-ripping creature!
She’s tied-up… awaiting the arrival of the blobby, woman-ripping creature!
Drums 'n' dancing...
Drums ‘n’ dancing…
Mutant trees!
Mutant trees!
Come on, what's not to like about this film?!
Come on, what’s not to like about this film?!

I actually enjoyed the film a lot, appreciating the sweaty, exploitative nature of the production, with its mix of mild nudity, 60s-style gore and 50s-style atomic monster plotting. The bizarre ecology of the island was fun to see, especially the many killer trees scattered around the place, with their writhing, waving branches waiting to snag an unwary victim.

Severed limbs tangled amongst a killer tree's branches
Severed limbs tangled amongst a killer tree’s branches
Okay, I admit: this isn't the most realistic severed head ever featured in a monster movie...
Okay, I admit: this isn’t the most realistic severed head I’ve ever seen featured in a monster movie…

The central, woman-mangling being is an insane-looking creation: a blobby, red-eyed, hairy-eyebrowed, moaning man-monster. This critter is, of course, pretty silly-looking… and yet… it is very memorable at the same time!

Just look at this rubbery, rudimentary reprobate! Love it!
Just look at this rubbery, rudimentary reprobate! I love it!

Sam Sherman, the colourful independent producer and distributor of drive-in films from the 60s to the 80s, came up with the marketing gimmick of offering female theatre patrons in the USA the opportunity to receive a free engagement ring set and become a Bride of Blood!

Here are some wonderfully sensationalist posters for the film…

US one sheet
US one sheet poster
Italian poster
Italian poster
Spanish poster
Spanish poster
Italian poster
Italian poster
US one sheet (including the engagement rings marketing!)
US one sheet (including the engagement rings marketing!)
Italian poster
Italian poster

Here’s an in-yer-faced DVD sleeve…

'Brutal orgy of ghastly terror!'
‘Brutal orgy of ghastly terror!’

A final look at the rubbery, goofy-as-hell monster…

Eek!
Eek!

Okay, I lied: here’s one more chance to feast your eyes on the ludicrous, libidinous beast…

The licentious monster grabs a victim!
The licentious monster grabs a victim!

Nope (2022)

If you look at it, the thing'll eat you!
If you look at it, the thing’ll eat you!

Jordan Peele’s sci-fi-horror film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott and Brandon Perea.

Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun
Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun

The story centres on the Haywood siblings (Kaluuya & Palmer), who run a ranch that hires out horses for Hollywood productions. They discover that the area around their ranch has become the hunting ground of a UFO-like predatory creature… so they decide to try and capture evidence of this aerial beast…

Poster
Poster

NOPE has received mixed reviews, some very positive and others criticising Peele’s exotic plot, which not only involves this extraterrestrial critter but also includes a grisly backstory that features a chimp actor from a television show going on a bloody rampage!

Killer chimp flashback!
Killer chimp flashback!

I, thus, went into this movie expecting it to be potentially a mess, but I actually REALLY enjoyed it!

Michael Wincott screams!
Michael Wincott screams!
Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea
Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea

Peele uses the film’s locations well, shooting the vast, cloudy sky effectively, providing teasing glimpses of the ‘flying saucer’ whooshing behind the cloud cover. He also creates some tense scenes and a few jump scares, and also makes good use of imagery like lights going off and inflatable tube man figures deflating whenever the creature is near.

The monster itself is a fine creation: a beast that can take the shape of a smooth-skinned, fast-moving ‘UFO’ with a central ‘mouth’ that it uses the vacuum-up victims. This thing can also unravel itself, to become more like a vast mass of unfurled membranes.

A victim is swallowed by the living UFO-creature!
A victim is swallowed by the living UFO-creature!

When the film reaches its climax the score is amped up, imbuing the movie with a neo-Western vibe, as the siblings confront the creature on horseback and on an electric motorbike, trying to stay alive and also still endeavouring to get an elusive shot of the hungry, floating monster.

Well worth a watch.

Here’s a bunch of shots of the lovely critter…

Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope
Nope

Finally, here’s the Dolby Cinema poster for the film…

 This poster uses the design on the jacket worn by Steven Yeun's character for inspiration
This poster uses the design on the jacket worn by Steven Yeun’s character for inspiration

Day Shift (2022)

Check your shoulder, Bud
Check your shoulder, Bud

This action-horror-comedy was directed by J.J. Perry and was written by Tyler Tice & Shay Hatten. It stars Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Meagon Good, Karla Souza, Steve Howey and Scott Adkins.

Poster
Poster

Bud Jablonski (Foxx) pretends to be a San Fernando Valley pool cleaner, but he is actually a vampire hunter. He earns his living by selling the teeth he extracts from the vampires he kills. Bud is currently a freelance hunter of vampires, but he really needs to make more money so that his ex-wife doesn’t move to Florida with his daughter. In order to pay for his daughter’s expensive school bills, Bud must go back to the vampire-hunting union that had kicked him out previously, because of his unorthodox hunting style that broke many of the union’s protocols.

Vampire!
Vampire!

Bud does get another chance to work with the union… but he is forced to work the day shift (which doesn’t pay as much) and he must also team-up with a strait-laced union rep called Seth (Franco).

To make matters worse, Bud has made an enemy of top vampire (and real estate entrepreneur) Audrey San Fernando (Souza), after he kills an aged female vampire that turns out to be Audrey’s daughter. Audrey swears revenge and sets her sights on Bud’s family…

The old vampire lady is actually Audrey's daughter
The old vampire lady is actually Audrey’s daughter

This sun-drenched, big & bright Netflix movie looks good, never drags, and has cool fight choreography. Some of the ways the vampires contort themselves during skirmishes are pretty novel and there are some fairly inventive kills!

A lot of these vampires are contortionists!
A lot of these vampires are contortionists!

I think the vampire-hunting union office in DAY SHIFT is an okay idea too, and I’m sure it was a world-building attempt to create a vampire-killing version of the hitmen organisation seen in the JOHN WICK films.

Snoop Dogg, playing a cool colleague of Bud’s called Big John Elliott, is not the greatest thespian ever, but he’s fun to watch when he’s on-screen. And I did really like Big Bertha: his lethal mini-gun!

Snoop Dogg is pretty tall, especially when he's wearing a stetson
Snoop Dogg is pretty tall, especially when he’s wearing a stetson
Snoop with 'Big Bertha'
Snoop with ‘Big Bertha’

Martial arts star Scott Adkins is good in a one-off action sequence, playing top vampire hunter Diran Nazarian. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I reckon I would rather have seen a movie about him and his brother Mike (Howey): they are great!

Jamie Fox, Scott Adkins, Steve Howey and Dave Franco
Jamie Fox, Scott Adkins, Steve Howey and Dave Franco

Within the mythos of DAY WATCH, there are different types of vampire, which are described and shown in the movie, but I must admit that I couldn’t really see what the differences were between most of them during the various action scenes.

Karla Souza is Audrey San Fernando
Karla Souza is Audrey San Fernando

The idea of ‘good vampires’, who choose to help out humans, is suddenly introduced later on in the story, without the concept being talked about previously, and I think this is an odd plot choice. During most of DAY SHIFT’s running time it seems that victims just become evil bloodsuckers if they are turned… and then, out of nowhere… characters can choose to be helpful to Bud!

The finale, involving main vamp Audrey kidnapping Bud’s family, is really rather weak, unfortunately. It’s the kind of ending we’ve seen in countless action movies before and it just lacks logic: why doesn’t Audrey just vampirize Bud’s daughter straight away, rather than keep her alive so that the hero dad can manage to save her? This finale is set in a large, pretty impressive, hidden Mayan-type temple, but the location isn’t really utilised in the action as much as I think it should have been. Shame.

When Audrey gets angry she gets ugly!
When Audrey gets angry she gets ugly!

Karla Souza, as villainess Audrey San Fernando, is okay, but I actually thought her main henchman Klaus, played by German actor Oliver Masucci, had a better look and old-school vampire vibe.

Oliver Masucci as Klaus
Oliver Masucci as Klaus

DAY SHIFT is colourful, forgettable fun.

Character poster - Jamie Foxx
Character poster – Jamie Foxx
Character poster - Snoop Dogg
Character poster – Snoop Dogg
Character poster - Karla Souza
Character poster – Karla Souza
Character poster - Meagon Good
Character poster – Meagon Good
Audrey sheds a vampire tear
Audrey sheds a vampire tear

Mad God (2021)

Grotesque creatures and imagery abound!
Grotesque monsters and imagery abound!
Pterosaur-like creatures
Pterosaur-like creatures

A helmeted, goggles-wearing humanoid is lowered, in a diving bell-like metal capsule, down into a nightmarish underworld, where he witnesses unexplainable events, sees strange creatures and travels through a series of harsh, terrible landscapes. He becomes the victim of a gory surgical procedure, where countless items and viscera are removed from his body, including a maggot-thing that cries like a baby… but this isn’t the end of the tale and the weird, cruel, grotesque narrative continues…

The capsule is lowered into the depths, passing many striking images, such as this giant skull
The capsule is lowered into the depths, passing many striking images, such as this giant skull
poster
Poster
The goggled dude needs a light to see where he's going
The goggled dude needs a light to see where he’s going
Travelling through a war zone
Travelling through a war zone
Passing by ruined tower blocks
Passing by ruined tower blocks

MAD GOD was written, produced, and directed by Phil Tippett and it is his malformed labour of love, which he began creating over thirty years ago, then shelved for twenty years, then recommenced work on, using Kickstarter donations and volunteers to help him complete this outlandish product of his fecund imagination.

A bipedal, beaked critter
A bipedal, beaked critter
A prolonged, gory operation
A prolonged, gory operation
Evisceration cubicles
Evisceration cubicles

The film relies less on conventional plotting, using instead a kind of dream logic (or, rather, a nightmare logic) to propel the story forward.

A deformed, lumpen stop-motion monster
A deformed, misshapen stop-motion monster
Lots of eyeballs in the movie!
Lots of eyeballs in the movie!

MAD GOD is a mix of stop-motion, miniatures, puppets, pixilation, props and live action, with an abundance of bleak, ruined vistas for the characters to roam through. Tippett doesn’t try to hide the fact that many of the landscapes are tabletop miniatures, he just steams straight ahead with the tale, drawing you into his fantastic, ghastly, intricate world.

landscape
landscape
landscape
Above: various vistas…
Two battling stop-motion monsters!
Two battling stop-motion monsters! I like this scene a lot!
A close-up of one of these creatures, which has metal mesh covering its face
A close-up of one of these creatures, which has metal mesh covering its face
Another close-up
Another close-up
These two monsters are electrocuted
The two monsters are electrocuted

Director Alex (REPO MAN) Cox plays ‘The Last Man’ and several other actors play a surgeon or nurse, etc, but the bulk of the characters are portrayed via stop-motion, puppets and models, and the majority of the locations are, as mentioned, detailed, cluttered miniatures.

Alex Cox is The Last Man
Alex Cox is The Last Man

Strangeness everywhere
Strangeness everywhere

The production is infernally surreal, with the various beings, such as the many fibrous, mummy-like humanoids, regularly killed in a multitude of offhand, cruel ways. Blood and other bodily fluids, plus ground-up flesh, are often extracted from characters and fed into tubes and receptacles. Torture is common here, suggesting this world is some form of layered, torment-filled hell.

Many of the denizens of this hellish place are faceless, fibrous humanoids
Many of the denizens of this hellish place are faceless, fibrous humanoids
One of the humanoids gets scorched to death by a fire pit
One of the humanoids gets scorched to death by a fire pit
Many characters and creatures are victims, such as this stop-motion monkey
Many characters and creatures are victims, such as this stop-motion monkey

For me, it’s as if a violent, twisted, dystopian Métal Hurlant sci-fi-horror comic strip was written by Italian poet-writer Dante and turned into a film, with the influences of Terry Gilliam, Jan Svankmajer, Ray Harryhausen, René Laloux and David Lynch’s ERASERHEAD added to the mix.

A briefly-seen Jan Svankmajer-esque doll
A briefly-seen Jan Svankmajer-esque doll
Death and decay are the order of the day
Death and decay are the order of the day

Though the film’s settings are mainly dark and forbidding, there is a brief sequence set in a brightly-coloured habitat, but even here death is always on hand, as we see a cute mushroom-person, who is happily eating maggots, devoured by an arachnid beast.

A pair of fungus folks enjoy a meal of maggots...
A pair of fungus folks enjoy a meal of maggots…
...but a multi-legged monster is allowed to enter this colourful world...
…but a multi-legged monster is allowed to enter this colourful world…
...and it eats one of the mushroom people!
…and it eats one of the mushroom people!

If there’s an overall point to this tale, then it’s not too clear – and if you require a straightforward narrative, then this film isn’t for you – but if you dive into this viewing experience to enjoy the disturbing cinematic ride, you’ll be rewarded with loads of lovingly-crafted, unsettling, eye-catching sequences that are chock-full of twisted wonder, gore and impressionistic madness, leading up to a cosmic finale, accompanied by an effective soundtrack by Dan Wool.

Look at the gnashers on this dude
Look at the gnashers on this dude
Yikes!
Yikes!
Deformity is common in the world of Mad God
Deformity is common in the world of Mad God
It all gets cosmic, man
It all gets cosmic, man

Some concept art for the movie…

Envisaging the scene where a floating monolith splats into some humanoids
Envisaging the scene where a floating monolith splats into some humanoids
Toothy strangeness
Toothy strangeness
The world of the movie begins with concepts such as this
The world of the movie begins with concepts such as this

Okay, one more look at that skirmish between the two mesh-faced monsters…

Fight!
Fight!

Warlords of Atlantis (1978)

Detail from Turkish poster
Detail from Turkish poster!

British archaeologist Professor Aitken (Donald Bisset) and his son Charles (Peter Gilmore) hire Captain Daniels (Shane Rimmer) to take them to a particular area of the ocean so that they can use a diving bell designed by beefy engineer Greg Collinson (Doug McClure) to search for proof that the fabled city of Atlantis exists.

UK quad poster
UK quad poster. Art by Josh Kirby
US one sheet
US one sheet. This is a pretty dynamic-looking poster!

Greg, Charles and several members of the ship’s mutinous crew end up deep down in a vast undersea cavern system, where they discover the lost civilisation of the Atlanteans, who are actually Martians that arrived on Earth, via a comet, back in prehistoric times.


Beast-battler supreme Doug McClure and Peter Gilmore
Beast-battler pro Doug McClure and Peter Gilmore

Written by Brian Hayles, who worked on numerous episodes of DOCTOR WHO, this period fantasy film has some quite interesting ideas hidden amongst the pulp-adventure action. The aliens, we discover, are influencing mankind, causing them to edge closer to devastating world wars in order to fast-track scientific advancement: one of the main characters (Gilmore) has visions of events that are yet to be, including marching Nazis, mass warfare, atomic bombs, and so on. A pretty cool scene.

The Atlantean elite try to persuade Charles to join them
The Atlantean elite try to persuade Charles to join them

There are some crude-but-nice matte paintings and the Atlantean warrior dudes in shiny helms that completely cover their faces look damn cool, but the main reason anyone tunes in to watch WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS is, let’s face it, to see the mutant monsters featured in the movie.

Shiny-helmeted Atlantean warriors
Shiny-helmeted Atlantean warriors
A trek through the (matte painting) caverns
A trek through the (matte painting) caverns

The swamp-dwelling mogdaan, a kind of huge, finned eel-creature, is my favourite beast, bursting up through the muddy waters to menace the heroes.

The mogdaan lurks on the other side of the standing stones
The mogdaan lurks in the swamp on the other side of the standing stones
The mogdaan seen in close-up
The mogdaan seen in close-up
Doug shoots the mogdaan in the face!
Doug shoots the mogdaan in the face!

The lumpy-skinned, club-tailed, ankylosaur-like zaargs are also fun to watch as they attack one of the Atlantean cities.

A zaarg starts climbing up the city-fortress walls
A zaarg starts to scale the city-fortress walls
Zaargs must be good at climbing because these walls are pretty damn steep!
Zaargs must be good at climbing because these walls are pretty damn steep!
A zaarg gets up close and personal with some of the city's defenders
A zaarg gets up close and personal with some of the city’s defenders

The serpentine plesiosaur-type monster that menaces our heroes in the diving bell earlier in the story works better in close-up, when a full-scale model is used, rather than in long shot, where it looks rather unimposing.

The eel-like plesiosaur creature is far less effective seen in long shot...
The eel-like plesiosaur creature is far less effective seen in long shot…
...but the plesiosaur-beast works better as a full-scale monster when it pokes its head inside the diving bell
…but the plesiosaur-beast works better as a full-scale model monster, when it pokes its head inside the diving bell

There are some snapping fish too, that blast from the water to nibble at the escaping protagonists. These piscine predators are quite rubbery-looking, unfortunately, though there’s a briefly-seen, toothy critter that is also featured during the fish sequence: and that creature, though we only see its head, is rather more effective.

Toothy critter latches onto a character's leg
Toothy critter latches onto a character’s leg

And, of course, there’s the giant octopus that makes several appearances in the film. It has a well-textured skin and ain’t half bad to look at, especially when it attacks the ship at the end of the movie, to retrieve a stolen artefact.

Massive octo-assault!
Massive octo-assault!
The octopus retrieves the gold artefact
The octopus retrieves the gold artefact…
...and trashes the ship
…and trashes the ship

John Richardson supervised the visual effects, which boast some really quite decent miniature work, and Roger Dicken created the movie’s menagerie of monsters. Actually, you can be see Roger in the movie, playing one of the men defending the city’s ramparts during the zaarg assault!

Behind the scenes shot of Roger Dicken with one of the octopus models
Behind the scenes shot of Roger Dicken with one of the octopus models
A zaarg uses its big foot to smash through the wall
A zaarg uses its big foot to smash through the city wall

Directed by Kevin Connor and produced by Connor and John Dark, WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS also stars Michael (LIFEFORCE) Gothard, Lea Brodie, Robert (ONE MILLION YEARS BC) Brown, John (WARLORDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY) Ratzenberger, Daniel (THE VAULT OF HORROR) Massey and Cyd (BRIGADOON) Charisse. This modestly budgeted flick may not be a fantasy-adventure classic, but the film is definitely one of the better examples of the 70’s series of John Dark/Kevin Connor lost world-style productions (all of which featured Doug McClure): the others were THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, AT THE EARTH’S CORE and THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT.

B&W French ad
B&W French ad

Here are some posters…

UK 6 sheet
UK 6 sheet poster
US half sheet
US half sheet poster
Romanian poster
Romanian poster
French poster
French poster. I love how the octopus is portrayed in this composition
B2 Japanese poster
B2 Japanese poster
Turkish poster
Turkish poster
German poster... featuring Harryhausen's Beast from 20,000 fathoms!
German poster… featuring Harryhausen’s Beast from 20,000 Fathoms!
Spanish poster
Spanish poster
A nice lookin' Thai poster
A nice lookin’ Thai poster
US Benton window card-style poster
US Benton window card-style poster
UK quad poster: Arabian Adventure/Warlords of Atlantis double bill
UK quad poster: Arabian Adventure/Warlords of Atlantis double bill
Belgian poster... featuring a giant crab, a spike-backed sauropod, the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms... and an Aztec temple!
Belgian poster… featuring a giant crab, a spike-backed sauropod, the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms… and an Aztec temple!
Australian daybill poster
Australian daybill poster

Some lobby cards…

Impactful Mexican lobby card
Impactful Mexican lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
French lobby card
French lobby card

VHS and DVD covers…

UK VHS cover. Art by Tom Chantrell
UK VHS cover. Art by Tom Chantrell
German VHS cover, partly based on Tom Chantrell's artwork created for the UK VHS cover
German VHS cover, partly based on Tom Chantrell’s artwork created for the UK VHS cover
UK DVD cover
UK DVD cover
Spanish DVD cover
Spanish DVD cover
UK 3 DVD set cover
UK 3 DVD set cover

Some publicity shots featuring Lea Brodie and the octopus…

She's a sucker for octopi
She’s a sucker for octopi
A tentacle-tastic duo
A tentacle-tastic shot of a girl and her octopus
They make a fine couple
They make a fine couple

Finally, here’s some pre-production art created for the film…

Production designer Maurice George Carter produced watercolour concept art for WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (in 1976).

Initially, it seems, a squid was going to attack the ship, rather than an octopus. But even after the squid was replaced with an octopus in the movie, this squid imagery was used in some of the artwork for various posters and VHS covers (including Tom Chantrell’s UK VHS cover painting).

Squid attack!
Squid attack!

This watercolour concept of an Aztec-style pyramid-temple ultimately never found its way into the final film, but it did find its way onto some of the poster artwork, including the Belgian poster…

Maurice George Carter's painting of an Atlantean temple
Maurice George Carter’s painting of an Atlantean temple

Men (2022)

The Green Man personified
The Green Man personified

Harper (Jessie Buckley) rents an isolated country house so that she can spend some time alone to process the sense of guilt she is feeling after the suicide of her husband, who she was in the middle of divorcing when he fell/jumped from a balcony to his death.

Harper goes for a walk
Harper goes for a walk
Jessie Buckley is great in the central role
Jessie Buckley is great in the central role

After meeting the nice-but-dim landlord Geoffrey, Harper finds herself encountering a series of odd males (all played well by the same actor, Rory Kinnear), who range from a menacing, naked man in the local woods, a creepy kid that wants to play hide & seek, and a weird local vicar. Events escalate, with Harper compelled to stab an intruder’s arm that pushes through the mail slot of her door, after which she helplessly watches as the intruder slowly withdraws his arm, causing the transfixed blade to gorily slice his forearm and hand in two. This distinctive wound mirrors an injury suffered by her dead husband (seen in one of many flashbacks), and soon Harper is hassled by the various male characters again, who all now have this same, unpleasant bisected arm injury. From here matters become much, much more strange and grotesque…

A naked stalker lurks at the window
A naked stalker lurks at the window
The CGI used to put Kinnear's face on a boy's body doesn't provide super-realistic results, but the overall effect is quite creepy
The CGI used to put Kinnear’s face on a boy’s body doesn’t provide super-realistic results, but the overall effect is quite creepy

MEN, written and directed by Alex Garland, would seem to be a psychological horror story, detailing the mental breakdown of the guilt-ridden protagonist, yet much of what happens is definitely not in the heroine’s mind, as there really is a naked stalker who is arrested by the local police, and Harper’s friend, at the end of the movie, does see actual blood-smears in the doorway and also walks past the wrecked Ford we saw a character crash the previous night. So, is Garland suggesting these incidents, including an outlandish body-horror tour de force sequence, can be regarded as actually having really happened?

Poster
Poster

The film is peppered with folk horror elements: there’s a Green Man sculpture on the nearby church’s font, the naked stalker starts to cut himself and insert leaves into his face, and he finally appears as a full-on Green Man. When Harper is menaced by the vicar in her home, she asks him ‘what’ he is, and he replies that he’s ‘a swan’, a reference to the Greek myth ‘Leda and the Swan’, where Zeus, in the shape of a swan, seduces/rapes Leda. So could Garland be inferring that some kind of local pagan deity has latched onto Harper and is pursuing her in a series of masculine guises, so all of the batshit-crazy stuff we witness during the finale is ‘real’?

The Green Man sculpture on the church font
The Green Man sculpture on the church font

It’s hard to glean exactly what message Garland is trying to get across, because he wilfully keeps things obscure and unexplained, whilst also showering the film with symbolism (apples = Garden of Eden), musings on different kinds of toxic masculinity (men blaming women for the sexual urges they are feeling, men hitting women, men trying to guilt-trip women, etc), shots of a dead, eyeless deer, and the aforementioned body-horror imagery that sees the Green Man trigger a prolonged, bizarre ‘birthing’ sequence, involving adult males manifesting distended bellies and vaginas, from which other males are born.

The naked dude starts slitting his skin and inserting leaves...
The naked dude starts slitting his skin and inserting leaves…
...and he finally appears as an 'actual' Green Man
…and he finally appears as an ‘actual’ Green Man
The multi-male-birth scene begins...
The bizarro birthing sequence begins…
...and it becomes a full-on body-horror set-piece...
…and it becomes a full-on body-horror set-piece…
...and we get to see some pretty out-there visuals
…and we get to see some pretty out-there visuals

MEN leaves too many questions unanswered: why doesn’t Harper notice that every male in the village has pretty much the same face? If her submerged guilt surrounding her husband’s death is so profound, why isn’t it his face she sees everywhere, rather than Kinnear’s visage?

Kinnear as the creepy, woman-blaming vicar
Kinnear as the creepy, woman-blaming vicar

Criticisms aside, this initially slow-burn film is unique, is well-acted, gorgeous to look at and boasts a wonderful, striking soundtrack that utilises a choir to infuse the proceedings with an unsettling vibe.

The movie’s bucolic English setting, with its shots of country churches and hints of some ancient presence, gives MEN the veneer of a M.R. James story in places, and some of Kinnear’s makeups recall the humorously grotesque visuals of the comedy-horror sitcom THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, though these influences are incidental and take a backseat to Garland’s own style of storytelling.

Harper standing amongst the symbolic apples
Harper standing amongst the symbolic apples

MEN, ultimately, is a muddled-yet-memorable combination of British folk horror and psychological drama, with musings on male toxicity added to the mix.

It does become rather deranged...
It does become rather deranged…

A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora’s Box (1995)

Spider Devil!
Spider Devil!

Directed by Jeffrey Lau, this fantasy-action-comedy stars Stephen Chow, Man-Tat Ng, Yammie Lam, Karen Mok and Kar-Ying Law.

The gang put out the fire by repeatedly stomping on their leader's groin!
The gang put out the fire by repeatedly stomping on their leader’s groin! Ouch!
The soles of Joker's feet are very hairy!
The soles of Joker’s feet are very hairy!
Karen Mok, Stephen Chow and Yammie Lam
Karen Mok, Stephen Chow and Yammie Lam

Joker (Chow), the rather inept leader of a gang of robbers, is oblivious to the fact that he is actually the Monkey King, who was punished for his bad behaviour and turned into a human 500 years earlier.

Chow appears briefly as the Monkey King at the very start of the movie
Chow appears briefly as the Monkey King at the very start of the movie

The movie begins rather abruptly, as if some of the introduction to this sequence got trimmed down too much, showing the Monkey King disobeying his master, Longevity Monk, and being swiftly chastised for his misdeeds by Guanyin, the Goddess of Happiness. The narrative briskly zips forward hundreds of years and focuses on Joker’s comedic, slapstick encounters with a couple of she-demons, who take over his motley crew of incompetent thieves as they await the arrival of Longevity Monk. You see, these monstrous (and attractive) femmes want to eat some of Longevity Monk’s flesh, which will make them eternal.

One of the she-demons can change into a spider-creature!
One of the she-demons can change into a spider-creature!

Even though the characters are taken from the classic novel ‘Journey to the West’ by Wu Cheng’en, A CHINESE ODYSSEY PART 1: PANDORA’S BOX has nothing to do with that story.

The late Yammie Lam plays Spider Devil
The late Yammie Lam plays Spider Devil

The earlier portion of the movie is crammed with Chow’s usual blend of earthy humour, pratfalls and slapstick, and is followed by loads of enjoyable fantasy-action situations. These include the woman-demon known as Spider Devil (Yammie Lam) going on a well-mounted rampage after transforming into a long-legged arachnid-monster, Joker inexplicably zooming around the place using his hands instead of his feet, and encounters with King Bull (Luk Shu-Ming), who is a huge, bull-headed dude who can also shrink down to human-size.

The woman-headed spider-demon...
The woman-headed spider-demon…
...she can spit web from her mouth!
…she can spit web from her mouth!
Joker gets trapped in a big spiderweb...
Joker gets trapped in a big spiderweb…
...and the arachnid-monster closes-in across a roof!
…and the arachnid-monster closes-in!
Joker escapes from the spiderweb, but the multi-legged demon continues to pursue him
Joker escapes from the spiderweb, but the multi-legged demon continues to pursue him
King Bull!
Spider Devil (Yammie Lam) accidentally uses her 'seductive magic' on the buffoonish Assistant Master (Man-Tat Ng)
Spider Devil (Yammie Lam) accidentally uses her ‘seductive magic’ on the buffoonish Assistant Master (Man-Tat Ng)

Once the main characters reach the Spider Web Cave, the filmmakers seem to depend too much on the opening and closing of sliding rock doors as a device to propel the plot forward but, on the plus side, we get some fun, oddball moments, such as a fight inside King Bull’s guts, a time loop sequence and an on-off romance between Joker and the demoness Pak Jing-Jing (also known as Boney M), who can turn from a human-looking female into a robed, strange-faced, white-haired being.

Boney M!
Boney M!
Spider Devil shrinks down and enters King Bull's guts!
Spider Devil shrinks down and enters King Bull’s guts!
A battle amongst the huge intestines!
A battle amongst the huge intestines!
Joker's head becomes trapped under a sliding door
Joker’s head becomes trapped under a sliding door
 Water gushes from King Bull's mouth!
Water gushes from King Bull’s mouth!
Red-eyed Boney M!
Red-eyed Boney M!

The film ends just as abruptly as it starts, finishing with some action-packed footage from the second part, A CHINESE ODYSSEY 2: CINDERELLA.

DVD sleeve
DVD sleeve
When King Bull's minions are struck with a sword they discharge clouds of smoke
When King Bull’s minions are struck with a sword they discharge clouds of smoke
Assistant Master and King Bull
Assistant Master and King Bull
Hair-raising antics!
Hair-raising antics!
Monkey's servants are encountered in a cave
Monkey’s servants are encountered in a cave

Okay, let’s have one more look at the cool spider-critter…

The spider-demon is brought to the screen as a full-scale marionette
The spider-demon is brought to the screen via a full-scale marionette