In feudal Japan the capital is under threat from a mix of bandits and some demons/wizards, who are being led by Shuten-doji – so the warriors of the Genji clan are tasked with getting rid of the threat.
DEMON OF MOUNT OE is a Japanese period horror movie that was directed by Tokuzō (ZATOICHI’S VENGEANCE) Tanaka, produced by Daiei Film and based on a novel by Matsutarō Kawaguchi.
This colourful movie, based on Japanese folklore, features a sympathetic villain and some cool supernatural characters. One demon woman loses her clawed hand and then comes back to reclaim it, another ‘wizard’ can turn into a kind of horned, pantomime demon bull and another transforms into a giant spider.
The spider-monster confrontation is my favourite scene: a bunch of samurai battling a fine-looking, full-scale puppet arachnid. Coooooooool!
The film’s rather batty story involves murderous androids and a stolen piece of Stonehenge being used to create microchips for killer halloween masks! This sequel, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, was not liked by many HALLOWEEN fans because it didn’t feature Michael Myers, but I think the movie is a fun watch (and Myers is actually featured, very briefly, in a few scenes from HALLOWEEN that are shown in a television commercial advertising the airing of the film).
There’s a lot to enjoy with HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. I especially like the Silver Shamrock commercial jingle that counts down the days: it’s a real earworm! Tom Atkins is a likeable lead and Dan O’Herlihy is good as the quite charming villain Conal Cochran, who accepts his defeat at the end with good grace, applauding Atkins before he gets zapped. There are some gore moments too, including a woman getting blasted in the face by a faulty microchip and a tramp being decapitated.
A memorable moment involves Cochran testing his masks on the Kupfer family in a test room at his novelties plant. As the Silver Shamrock commercial plays on a television, a flashing signal triggers the microchip in the mask that the Kupfer son is wearing, causing his mask to writhe & squirm as it absorbs the energy of Stonehenge, then a mass of insects and snakes crawl from the mask to kill the rest of the family!
The original script was written by Nigel (Quatermass) Kneale, but he asked to have his name removed from the credits after his screenplay was altered and extra gore was added.
Don Post designed the skull, witch and jack-o’-lantern latex masks that are the focus of Cochran’s plan. The skull & witch masks were actually adaptations of existing Post Studios masks and the jack-o’-lantern was created specifically for the movie.
After the film’s disappointing reviews and lacklustre box office performance, Michael Myers was brought back in HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS in 1988 but, as I’ve already said, I think this movie is a very entertaining standalone horror/science fiction flick… and I can still hear that Silver Shamrock jingle playing in my head!
The villainous high priest Maax (Rip Torn) attempts to thwart a prophecy by sending one of his witches to kidnap and murder the unborn son of King Zed. The witch uses magic to transfer the baby from the queen’s womb to the belly of a cow! Before the witch can kill the child, however, a villager intervenes, killing the hag-faced woman and raising the boy as his own son.
The boy, named Dar, is taught how to fight and it’s revealed that he has the ability to telepathically communicate with all kinds of animals (presumably because he was born from an animal).
Dar (Marc Singer), now a man, witnesses his village being wiped out by a horde of masked barbarians called Juns, who are allied with Maax. Dar, the only survivor of the massacre, sets out to avenge his people. Along the way Dar is joined by an eagle, a pair of ferrets he calls Kodo and Podo, and a great panther.
As the adventure continues Dar teams up with King Zed’s younger son Tal, bodyguard Seth (John Amos) and slave girl Kiri (Tanya Roberts), who turns out to actually be a warrior woman. After the death of King Zed, there’s a showdown with Maax atop a sacrificial pyramid, and then there’s a final battle with a mass of Jun warriors.
Can Dar and his allies survive all this? Yes they can… with a little help from some weird, winged devourer beings.
Director Don Coscarelli’s sword and sorcery movie is a fun romp, with Marc Singer proving to be a likeable hero and Tanya Roberts sticking in the memory as the attractive, feisty love interest Kiri. Then we have Rip Torn, who does a bit of scenery-chewing as the hawk-nosed bad guy Maax: he’s a high priest who is rather too fond of child sacrifice.
The screenplay, written by Paul Pepperman and Don Coscarelli, was based on a 1959 novel called THE BEAST MASTER, though the book is pretty different to the film: the novel’s hero is a Navajo warrior in a futuristic setting.
THE BEASTMASTER is a colourful adventure yarn that features a fine score by Lee Holdridge, witches with the bodies of young women and the faces of hags, spike-gloved berserker madmen, a ring with an eyeball that can spy on the heroes, and the aforementioned bird-humanoid creatures that wrap their victims in leathery wings to digest them alive!
The fiery, climactic battle with the Jun horde is a well-mounted, exciting finale, where Dar has a one-on-one fight with the Jun leader and, basically, this modestly budgeted fantasy flick is a very, very enjoyable watch.
I love this movie!
Here’s some movie concept art by Nikita Knatz…
And here are some posters…
Okay, a final look at those winged devourers…
And here’s a publicity shot of Singer and Roberts…
In the UK two boys make friends with a stranded alien that resembles a small, metal ball. They try to help the silvery being return home, but have to deal with a crook called George “Filthy” Potter. A mothership eventually arrives and it disgorges a whole swarm of alien metal balls to deal with Potter.
This low budget British kid’s flick, made for the Children’s Film Foundation, features an extraterrestrial that looks just like a metal ball bearing. This silvery alien is hunted by the military and likes to eat a lot! As so often happens in these CFF movies, the main villain is a small-time criminal (played here by Ron Pember), but there’s never any real threat: it’s all very child-friendly.
FX-wise, in many scenes the Glitterball is just a small, metal ball rolled along the floor, but for scenes where, for instance, it gobbles-up some food, stop-motion animation is used.
THE GLITTERBALL was directed by Harley Cokeliss, who’d made the non-science-fiction movie THE BATTLE OF BILLY’S POND the year previously, also for the Children’s Film Foundation. Harley went on to be second unit director on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), then directed flicks like DREAM DEMON (1988), BLACK MOON RISING (1986) and WARLORDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY (1982).
Brian Johnson did a lot of the special effects on THE GLITTERBALL, which was quite a coup for such a cheap production. Brian came on board after Harley, through a mutual friend, met up with Brian, who was supervising the model and effects work on Gerry Anderson’s SPACE: 1999 at the time. Brian was happy to help out, but needed Gerry’s okay to do so. Harley met with Gerry at his Bray Studio offices and Gerry generously gave his blessing to the project. Brian and his crew then created flying scenes of the mothership and made a working model of the Glitterball’s own min-spacecraft, complete with lights and an opening hatch.
Barry Leith, who’d worked on the British children’s TV series THE WOMBLES, did the stop-motion animation.
THE GLITTERBALL was recently released on DVD by the BFI as part of a triple bill of Children’s Film Foundation movies, which also includes SUPERSONIC SAUCER (1956).
Ambrose McKinley, a blind former soldier, moves with his seeing eye dog into a retirement community near a forest. He meets his neighbour Delores, but before they can get to know one another she is brutally assaulted that very same night, killed by something big and nasty. Ambrose is also attacked by the creature, his dog comes to his aid and the beast is eventually driven off, but Ambrose’s dog is fatally wounded. When the police find Ambrose the next day they assume it was an animal attack, but Ambrose knows it must be something else, something far more savage than a forest creature… and eventually he discovers that a werewolf stalks the area.
As the story progresses Ambrose tries to discover who the person is that transforms during nights of the full moon, and eventually he finds himself battling a whole group of newly-created werewolves at his home.
I really enjoyed this movie, which boasts a strong central performance from Nick Damici. Damici starred in and wrote the script for STAKE LAND (2010) and its sequel, and was the screenwriter for the effective, gritty crime flick COLD IN JULY (2014). In LATE PHASES he is brilliant as the stubborn, say it as it is, wilful Vietnam War vet. He really takes this role seriously and it shows on the screen.
The movie, directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano, is well-plotted, with a story that kept me watching, wondering about the identity of the werewolf.
Now, about the werewolves…
Robert Kurtzman’s Creature Corps company designed the lycanthropes with quirky, large-eared, broad-mouthed faces. I think this isn’t a look that werewolf movie purists will necessarily like, with these creatures sporting apish bodies and almost impish, furry faces that lack the long snout of other werewolf designs. They almost resemble wolf-gremlins.
But I like the fact the movie uses practical effects to bring the beasts to life and sometimes it is good to see a different take on the look of iconic creatures like werewolves, though many will argue the big-eyed wolf-beasts here stray a little too far into goofy-looking territory. However, as I liked the movie a lot, I just accepted these weird werewolves as part of the package.
LATE PHASES ends with a full-on transformation and a pretty gory showdown. With its satisfying mix of horror, humour and drama I think it makes a fine companion piece to that other wonderful, quirky horror flick set in an old folks home: BUBBA HO-TEP (2002).
Also known as ZODIAC POWER 3: KICKBOXER FROM HELL, this is a cut-and-paste IFD movie that intercuts new footage featuring western martial arts actor Mark Houghton with a 1976 Hong Kong/Korean supernatural movie called THE OBSESSED, starring Nora (WAY OF THE DRAGON) Miao.
The film begins with a woman called Sophia being chased by sackcloth-wearing bad guys. She stumbles upon a kickboxer called Sean (Houghton), who saves her. Back at Sean’s home there is a funny conversation on the couch as Sophia explains things to Sean: “It’s a long story – I’m a nun, actually – but my partner and I are working undercover against Lucifer.” Excellent stuff! This explanation works as a tenuous link to the existing footage from THE OBSESSED: the newlywed heroine in this 1976 production, played by Nora Miao, is meant to be Sophia’s partner, who has now given up being a nun and has married a stocky guy called Robert.
In this part of the plot we see creepy things start to happen, such as a broken clock starting to work again in the family home and a scene where Robert and his wife are given their wedding photos… and each shot features the ghostly face of his dead first wife Lisa!
Back with the newly-shot footage, we cut to the dark HQ of the Lucifer-worshippers, who like to wear face paint and sackcloth. After some amusing trash-talk bickering (the dialogue in the new scenes is priceless), the two dudes who failed to catch Sophia are forced to fight to the death in a martial arts ring. One of the combatants dies when his groin is punched!
Jumping over to the haunted home yarn, we see a young maid encounter a ‘guest’ who is actually the ghost of Lisa. Lisa is always lit by green or blue lighting. At one point the slightly scabby-faced Lisa cackles as she eats some watermelon.
Back with the Sean plotline, the sackcloth satanists capture Sophia as music stolen from HALLOWEEN plays on the soundtrack. The main satanist henchman, who prefers to wear shades and a red bandana rather than sackcloth, kills Sean’s brother! Before we can see how Sean reacts to this, we cut back to the ghost storyline. We see blue-lit ghostly Lisa brush her hair in a mirror and wonder whether the bent-over old housekeeper character is a nice or bad person.
The new wife is smothered by Lisa’s floating wedding gown… or is the wife imagining things? (Of course she isn’t!) The wife is then attacked in the garden at nighttime by Lisa, but hubby Robert still decides to go on a pre-planned business trip. What a caring guy!
Ah, here’s the midpoint twist: Robert is a bit of a deceitful womaniser and he’s gone to a hotel to meet his lover. Ghostly Lisa shows up and throws Robert into the sea, but Robert just brushes off this supernatural encounter like it was nothing and meets-up with his mistress in his hotel room. What a hound! As Robert’s lover takes a bath… a floating blue-lit hand appears, then Lisa strangles the mistress and throws her from a balcony!
After we see the Lucifer worshippers perform a ceremony, burning a photograph of the wife, we see her become compelled to attack her nephew.
Robert returns home soon after and is shown photos of his house taken by some real estate guys. Each shot shows Lisa’s ghostly image, but Robert just blames the realtors for taking bad photographs!
Later, blue-lit Lisa watches Robert kiss his new wife, then there’s a flashback of Lisa’s funeral from a few years ago. In another scene there is some kind of seance/ceremony that takes place in the cemetery and the bent-over housekeeper starts speaking with Lisa’s voice, claiming that Lisa was murdered. Yikes!
Robert goes fishing and thinks back to when he was married to Lisa, who we see accusing him of marrying her just for her money. The flashback ends with Robert strangling Lisa.
Back with the Sean plot thread, he fights a sackcloth dude (who I’m sure I saw being killed at the start of the film). Wearing a red vest, Sean kicks ass and beats the satanist. He then fights another Lucifer-lover: “I don’t know what pain is, but you do!”
Meanwhile, the ghost story reaches the point where we see Lisa’s grave being dug up and there’s no body! After the old housekeeper is knifed to death by Robert, we see him go to the garden and dig up Lisa’s corpse. But why? Nobody knows it’s buried here, so why dig it back up? Anyway, Robert is soon taunted by Lisa’s ghost, which now has fangs. Robert is attacked by her and he is eventually captured by the authorities.
But what I want to know is this: why did Lisa’s ghost initially taunt and attack the innocent new wife and Robert’s mistress, rather than immediately target the murderous husband? I guess it will remain a mystery.
Now the Sean-vs-satanists section of the film reaches its climax (“You’ll pay for my brother!”) as the hero confronts the Lucifer-worshipping bad guys at their HQ, where Sophia the young undercover nun is being held prisoner.
Sean and the main henchman fight each other with sledgehammers (as the theme from RE-ANIMATOR plays). The fight ends when Sean breaks the guy’s neck. Sean now begins to smash a series of skulls (that each have a candle) because he realises this is the way to remove the satanists’ power.
The cult leader, who sports KIϟϟ-style face paint, brings the broken-necked main henchman back to life, but Sean dodges a swinging sledgehammer blow and the final sacred skull gets smashed, causing the cult leader to die.
And then… we get an abrupt IFD-style finish: the end!
The scenes from THE OBSESSED are well enough done, with the story possessing a little bit of mystery, but not much effort is made by IFD to make this plot line seem at all relevant to the satanists story.
The new footage with Houghton (who appeared in such Hong Kong actioners as TIGER ON THE BEAT 2) is fun to watch, however, and I enjoyed listening to the sackcloth-wearing bad guys pettily swear amongst themselves. Some of the fighting was okay, too.
People are hunted by a tall humanoid extraterrestrial that kills his victims using spinning, living projectiles.
Directed by Greydon (SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS) Clark, this low budget film is structured like a backwoods slasher movie but with an alien instead of a maniac.
WITHOUT WARNING features lots of shots of people falling victim to the flying, fleshy, toothy blobs, showing the red tendrils sinking into human flesh to suck blood and exude yellow gunk.
Though the film’s pace sometimes flags, the attack scenes are messy, gory fun, with loads of close-ups of the tendrils digging under the skin or through clothing!
Predating PREDATOR by seven years, WITHOUT WARNING has a (mainly unseen), silent, blue-skinned alien hunting humans (using those killer pancake organisms) for sport. The extraterrestrial hunter is played by Kevin Peter Hall, who also played the Predator in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.
The colourful cast, which enthusiastically chew the scenery, includes Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Neville Brand, Cameron Mitchell and Ralph Meeker. The movie also features a young David Caruso wearing very small shorts!
The grungy, satisfying practical FX were created by Greg (VAN HELSING) Cannom. Makeup effects legend Rick Baker did uncredited work on the film, too, building the alien’s big-domed head.
A small group of archeologists and filmmakers become trapped in a newly discovered underground three-sided Egyptian pyramid. One of them gets injured by falling debris, then the situation becomes worse when scrawny feline things are encountered and then a larger god-creature joins in on the action…
The found footage format is used well sometimes in the movie (the night vision views), though the director sometimes forgets it’s found footage and we see stuff not from the camera POV.
The story features the usual found footage-style bickering dialogue that always becomes tiresome, though James Buckley from THE INBETWEENERS adds some humour.
There’s rather too much time spent trudging and crawling around tunnels and chambers, and there are no mummies featured in the movie (despite what’s indicated on the poster), but the rat-like cat creatures are interesting critters and the reveal that the one and only, actual jackal-headed god Anubis is imprisoned in the pyramid, eager to rip out hearts to judge souls, is pretty good.
Alexandre (PIRANHA 3D, CRAWL) Aja produced the movie, but it’s a shame he didn’t direct it too, as he knows how to make really satisfying creature features. First-time director Grégory Levasseur, who is usually a producer and screenwriter, helmed this project instead and he doesn’t really manage to imbue THE PYRAMID with a decently creepy atmosphere or provide the kind of tension Aja would’ve easily brought to the film. But the movie does get much better in the latter portion of the movie, the CGI for the most part is just about acceptable, and there are some well-handled scenes, such as when a character gets skewered on floor spikes and is picked at by the rat-cat-things.
Finally, I think Anubis is a pretty good creation: its jackal face looks like it’s been flayed of skin and the god-being’s preoccupation with judging victims by weighing their hearts is an interesting plot angle.
Its face looks good in close-up, and this is probably because a full-size model of Anubis’ head was built (see end of blog for photos), which I assume was used as photogrammetry reference for the computer FX department for details and colour, etc.
The introduction of the monstrous god-creature definitely helped nudge the movie up a few rungs of the enjoyment ladder for me, that’s for sure.
Here’s some of the concept art produced for the film…
Here are a couple of behind the scenes shots of a cool model of Anubis’ head…
A space capsule lands in the New Mexico desert and Dr. Linda Murphy (Arianna Scott) identifies it as a secret US-Soviet deep space probe that was launched years ago: it was a joint mission to try and make alien contact.
Now this capsule has landed back on Earth it is discovered that the chimp inside it is still alive after all these years… and now it is starting to grow in size! Alien green fluid that causes the ape to enlarge is then ingested by a local gila monster and it too begins to grow. Linda, along with her estranged father Noah and Russian astrophysicist Eva Kuleshov (Katie Sereika), find out that a spaceship from the Andromeda Galaxy is controlling the creatures and, presumably, wants to cause a collapse in the US government by sending the monsters to wreck havoc in Washington.
Abraham, the giant-size chimpanzee, becomes free of all alien control and finally fights the lizard monster in Washington and, after it wins the fight, the authorities decide not to kill the ape, allowing it to live in a base outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
APE VS MONSTER is a mockbuster from The Asylum, obviously intended to cash-in on the release of GODZILLA VS KONG.
The special effects are not totally bad for a release from The Asylum, which isn’t saying much, that must be admitted! The lizard monster and the spaceship are acceptably rendered, though Abraham the huge chimp looks, for the most part, rather poor.
For some reason Abraham just grows larger but still looks like a chimp, but the gila monster evolves into a kind of bipedal dino-monster when it enlarges, even though characters continue to refer to it just as a gila monster.
The biggest let-down with the movie is the fact that there’s very little interaction between the monsters, despite the title, with a very brief battle between the creatures occurring at the very end of the movie.
Eric Roberts looks pretty careworn as National Security Advisor Ethan Marcos and he has to deal with some pretty clunky dialogue, much of the movie’s running time is padded out with talky scenes, and disappointment cannot really be avoided, thanks to the fact there are not that many monster scenes interspersed throughout the movie.
So, pretty much what you’d expect from a film made by The Asylum. If you like these cheesy SyFy Channel-type mockbusters, this is definitely the movie for you.
In Lab 707 scientists are working on the Thunder Project, experimenting with a formula that can make plants and animals grow to large proportions. This formula is never really shown, though: it seems to depend more on using a see-through box and electricity, rather than vials and fluids.
Terrorists attack the army-run lab facility to acquire the formula, there’s a bloody shootout, but several scientists run into the countryside with the special case, which gets lost after a car crash, and is discovered by a young girl called Ting Ting. She decides to put her pet snake Mosler in the see-through box, switches on the case’s ‘lights’, and the serpent is electrified… and then it begins to grow!
THUNDER OF GIGANTIC SERPENT is a cut-and-paste IFD Film Arts movie that uses lots of footage from the earlier Taiwanese monster movie KING OF SNAKE (1984) with added film material featuring martial arts actor Pierre Kirby.
We get a cool scene early on where we see the scientists experimenting on a frog, making the amphibian grow much larger. The model used here is pretty decent.
For several scenes we see Ting Ting having fun with the semi-large Mosler: they play hide and seek, play catch with a ball and the snake also helps Ting Ting win a rollerblade race against a couple of other kids. Mosler, it is revealed, can understand what Ting Ting says and reacts to her by nodding or shaking its head. It also makes a sound like a parrot (or maybe it sounds like a screeching chimp?)
Meanwhile, we are introduced to military agent Ted Fast (Pierre Kirby). Ted Fast: now there’s a heroic name! Tough Ted is sent on a mission to hunt down the terrorist group’s leader Solomon (Edowan Bersmea).
Some cops and army dudes in red berets also feature in the story, so we get various cops/Ted Fast/gangsters/army confrontations.
There is a bunch of shootouts, then we get a scene where the terrorists try to capture the snake, but their electrified trap makes Mosler grow much larger. Now the huge serpent makes a deep, roaring sound like a lion!
We get a couple of scenes where the terrorists (who come across more like gangsters) threaten Ting Ting’s family and they eventually kidnap the girl. Then we get some monster action with a plane-vs-snake sequence that ends when Mosler smashes the plane with its tale.
The film does get rather preoccupied with terrorists and cops shooting it out with each other, but then we get some more monster snake action! Yay! First Mosler attacks a road bridge and then destroys a train bridge, including the train crossing it. Yikes! The formerly nice and playful Mosler is now a large-scale killer!
The snake proceeds to break a dam, causing mass flooding and more deaths. Jeez, Mosler is a real psycho-killer now!
After some Ted Fast martial arts action we cut back to Ting Ting, who is being held captive by a bad guy in a tall building, and then Mosler returns once more, to attack the west district of a large city.
Crowds and the Mosler puppet are featured together in some simple but acceptable matte shots. The populace run in panic! Flames and screaming! Mosler wipes out a disco! In an earlier scene with the military we are told that the west district has been evacuated, but there are civilians everywhere in these shots!
Mosler starts wrapping itself around the skyscraper where Ting Ting is being held prisoner and jets finally arrive, shooting at the snake, which glows around the edges of its body each time it is hit (maybe because electricity had been used to enlarge it?)
After one of the jets crashes into Mosler’s face, the huge snake falls to the street below and dies. Ting Ting cries. Oh, that poor, mass-murdering snake!
There’s a final showdown between terrorist leader Solomon and Ted Fast: “Go ahead, shoot, make my day, punk!” And then the movie finishes!
THUNDER OF GIGANTIC SERPENT, as with GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER, features a kid who continually pleads for her ‘pet’ monster to be left alone, even after it causes untold destruction and death! Mosler, it must be said, does start off as a rather nice critter, but after it goes on its binge of dam-busting and train-wrecking it becomes rather difficult to regard the great serpent as anything but a menace.
The effects are not of Toho quality, that’s for sure, but I enjoyed Mosler’s rampage through the city, ending with the model military jets attacking the puppet snake whilst it is coiled around the skyscraper.
Devoted to every kind of movie and TV monster, from King Kong to Godzilla, from the Blob to Alien.