Film Review: Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)

Also known as: Phantasm III: The Third Power (Philippines)
Release Date: March, 1994 (Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Films)
Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Written by: Don Coscarelli
Music by: Fred Myrow, Christopher L. Stone
Cast: Reggie Bannister, Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Angus Scrimm, Gloria Lynne Henry, Kevin Connors, Cindy Ambuehl, Brooks Gardner, John Davis Chandler

Universal Studios, Anchor Bay, 91 Minutes

Review:

“It’s been nice knowing you boys, but this kickin’ zombie ass just ain’t my gig.” – Rocky

When Phantasm III came out, I wasn’t really even aware of it. It never hit any theaters near me and even though I read horror magazines and frequented video stores a lot, I must have just glossed over it. It wasn’t until five years later when I saw Phantasm IV on a shelf that I went, “Wait… when did they do a Phantasm III?” Anyway, I rented both of them that night.

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead is the sort of film that is really enjoyable if you love the Phantasm series but it is probably hard to follow and just bizarre if you don’t already have familiarity with the franchise’s unique universe.

A girl I was dating a few years ago saw this chapter first, as she came over as I was just starting it one night. I told her we could start at the beginning with the first one but she didn’t care about that. In the end, she seemed lost and not really sure about what she watched. When I convinced her to watch all of them and she did, she then liked this film better, as she got the overall context of it.

And that’s the thing, I think that Don Coscarelli relied heavily on the audience of this chapter already having the knowledge of the first two. While that’s understandable, you might want to give a more in depth explanation of the backstory when your sequel comes out six years and fifteen years after its two predecessors. His reliance on filmgoers have prior knowledge only gets worse with each subsequent film after this one.

Still, that’s really my only gripe with this picture. Other than that, I think that this movie is a lot of fun and Reggie looked like he was having a damn good time making this one.

I liked that this chapter relied on the Lurkers more than the tiny dwarf minions. Yeah, they still appear too but the Tall Man’s army seemed more formidable in this movie. Plus, he had that reanimated gang that kept being a thorn in Reggie’s side throughout the story. They were a nice touch.

This also brings back Michael Baldwin in the role of Mike. He was replaced in the second film and even if that other actor was a bit more polished, he didn’t feel like Mike.

We also get to see Reggie team up with a badass little kid and a nunchuck wielding punk rock chick that probably has bigger stones than all the men in the film. Rocky was a cool character and I was sad that she didn’t go on to be in the fourth installment but she does resurface in the fifth (over twenty years later).

I like this film a lot and it certainly fleshes out the mysterious mythos even more. It’s only real downside is that it doesn’t stand well on its own, as a self-contained story.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: The other Phantasm films.

Film Review: Wacko (1982)

Also known as: The Last Horror Show (working title), Wacko Weekend (Sweden), Crazy Doctor in Love (Philippines)
Release Date: May 28th, 1982 (Minneapolis premiere)
Directed by: Greydon Clark
Written by: Jim Kouf, Dana Olsen, Michael Spound
Music by: Arthur Kempel
Cast: Joe Don Baker, Stella Stevens, Elizabeth Daily, George Kennedy, Julia Duffy, Scott McGinnis, Andrew Dice Clay, Charles Napier

Jersey Farley Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“Death to all teenagers who fuck.” – Lawnmower Killer

Like other Greydon Clark movies, this is fucking terrible. Well, unless you want to see a young Andrew Dice Clay dressed up as Superman. But even then, that’s over pretty quickly and this film is really hard to sit through.

It also doesn’t help that Julia Duffy has a scream that is like nails on the chalkboard. What makes it even worse is that she has to scream constantly and for long durations. I wanted to throw a fastball through my television set just to shut her up. It was like a banshee fucking a turkey that’s getting fucked by a horse. Sorry, I don’t know how else to describe it.

This film is also supposed to be a comedy but it’s not funny at all. It’s just a 90 minute festival of cringe and baffling bizarreness.

I guess this is supposed to be similar to the Police Academy style of humor but it doesn’t work and the screenwriters don’t have a funny bone in their bodies and none of the actors ever felt like they cared how they delivered their funny bits.

Joe Don Baker has done some terrible shit in his career but he’s still a pretty good actor on his best days. This is the worst thing he’s ever done though, at least out of the dozens of films I’m aware of.

George Kennedy is in this too and he plays a doctor that is always trying to peek at his underage daughters when they’re sleeping in their panties. Was this funny in 1982? Because I’m pretty sure it was just fucking creepy back then too.

I don’t know. There isn’t much to say about this other than it is horrible in every way and no one should ever watch it.

Rating: 1.25/10
Pairs well with: James Gunn tweets from 2008.

Comic Review: Alterna AnniverSERIES Anthology

Published: September 7th, 2016
Written by: various
Art by: various

Alterna Comics, 431 Pages

Review:

This massive collection features several single issues of different Alterna Comics releases. I felt that this was a good way to get my feet wet with Alterna, as I was able to check out a nice variety of their top books.

This collection includes their character guide and then the first issue of the following series: The Last West, Fubar, Adam Wreck, American Terror, The Deadbeat, Novo and The Chair.

I also wanted to give this a shot because the company seems to be very much on the side of Comicsgate and wants to put out quality books that don’t push any sort of deliberate social or political agenda. They just want to entertain. At the same time, the comics are made by their own creators, who have the free reign to control their own content.

This was certainly a good collection to get one into Alterna and the diversity of what they offer. While none of the stories here blew my mind, they were all still pretty engaging and I didn’t find anything to be boring or all that derivative.

The stories that stuck out to me most were The Last West, The Deadbeat and The Chair. I also found Novo interesting and have a few more issues that I plan to delve into.

I also read the first issue of Metaphase, as I have a copy. I wish they would have included that here, as it really peaked my interest and was one of the better finds I’ve come across in Alterna’s library.

I’ll be honest, some of the art isn’t able to compete with the top tier talent at DC and Marvel but there is certainly more diversity in art styles and the visual approach in some of these books is pretty creative and unique. I thought The Last West looked fantastic, for the record.

If you are board with comics from the big two or are sick of being preached to, than this might be something you want to check out.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other Alterna Comics releases.

Film Review: The Thing From Another World (1951)

Release Date: April 6th, 1951 (Cincinnati, Washington D.C. premiere)
Directed by: Christian Nyby
Written by: Charles Lederer, Howard Hawks (uncredited), Ben Hecht (uncredited)
Based on: Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.
Music by: Dimitri Tiomkin
Cast: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Douglas Spencer, Robert O. Cornthwaite, James Arness

Winchester Pictures Corporation, RKO Radio Pictures, 87 Minutes

Review:

“So few people can boast that they’ve lost a flying saucer and a man from Mars – all in the same day! Wonder what they’d have done to Columbus if he’d discovered America, and then mislaid it.” – Ned “Scotty” Scott

This film would eventually be remade in 1982 as one of the greatest horror pictures ever made: John Carpenter’s The Thing. That is a movie that is in my personal Holy Trinity of Horror. This original version isn’t as good as the ’80s one but it is still a better than decent horror picture for its time.

The Thing From Another World was produced by the legendary Howard Hawks and put out by RKO Radio Pictures, who were mostly known for their plethora of film-noir movies. They did dabble in horror too and before this, put out some solid horror films under their in-house horror maestro Val Lewton. I’ve reviewed a lot of the Val Lewton produced horror films at RKO already. This came out after the Lewton era and isn’t as good as those films but it still kept the horror bug alive for RKO.

This version of the story is pretty different than the remake. It takes place in a similar location but it’s near the North Pole as opposed to Antarctica. Also, it isn’t as confined. Plus, there is a woman present, where the remake was a bunch of rugged manly men. The biggest difference however, is that this film just has a humanoid alien where the remake had an alien that was infinitely more terrifying and near impossible to detect until it was too late. Here, we have a hulking brute carrying a big stick: think Frankenstein’s monster cosplaying poorly as Theodore Roosevelt.

Regardless of a pretty straightforward alien killer, this film is still effective. The creature had a brooding presence, was rather large and looked cool for a ’50s film.

Compared to the other similar alien invasion type films of the decade, this one would be almost forgettable if it weren’t for the legendary remake. Yes, this is good. Yes, I like it. But I don’t think it is better than Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), War of the Worlds (1953), Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Documentary Review: This Magic Moment (2016)

Release Date: April 14th, 2016
Directed by: Gentry Kirby, Erin Leyden
Music by: Joel Beckerman, Phil Hernandez, Chris Maxwel

ESPN Films, 101 Minutes

Review:

This Magic Moment was one of my most anticipated installments of ESPN’s 30 For 30 film series. It was a special story for me because I was there, in the Orlando area, when all of this stuff was going on. I was in the thick of it.

In fact, a friend of mine’s father had season tickets and I used to go to a lot of Magic games during the season that saw them go to the NBA Finals. It was certainly a magical time for that team and for Central Florida. Plus I was in the middle of my teenage years and basketball was one of the sports I played with a fury at that age.

Yeah, I have always been a Chicago Bulls fan but it was hard not getting swept up in the magic of the Magic when it was all happening in my neighborhood.

This is one of the best, if not the best, 30 For 30 documentaries focusing on the National Basketball Association. It is a hefty and deserving two hours. It covers everything from the formation of the Orlando Magic franchise, through the drafting of Shaq and Penny, their journey to the NBA Finals, their struggles and personal issues and closes out with Shaq leaving for the Los Angeles Lakers and Penny being traded to the Phoenix Suns – ending the dynasty that could have been.

The film benefits from the fact that everyone involved in this story was interviewed. From Shaq to Penny to their agents, coaches, team owners and other significant Magic players from that team, every interviewee was great and helped paint the picture of what happened and why. Looking back to that time, the media and egos created a lot of the issues that took the team down and it is now clear how it all fell apart. Before this film, it was all just a mystery wrapped in a lot of speculation.

It was also great to see how Shaq and Penny feel now and how they share a sense of regret in that they never toughed it out and made it work. They both admit that they would have won several championships had the team stayed together. In the end, Shaq was a huge success regardless and Penny had a very promising career ruined by injury.

This Magic Moment is a phenomenal sports documentary of a fantastic time in the NBA, historically. The Magic of the mid-’90s were special but that may be hard to understand unless you were there. This documentary does a good job of recreating that magic time, however.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: Other 30 For 30 documentaries on the NBA and ’90s basketball: Winning Time, No CrossoverThe Fab Five, Requiem for the Big East, Bad Boys and I Hate Christian Laettner.

Comic Review: Nightwing: The Bleeding Edge

Published: May 2nd, 2018 – August 1st, 2018
Written by: Benjamin Percy
Art by: Christopher Mooneyham, Nick Filardi, Jordie Bellaire, Declan Shalvey, various

DC Comics, 111 Pages

Review:

I’ve been reading the ongoing Nightwing series for almost a year now but this is the first story arc that I have reviewed. I think I’m going to go back and read the earlier collected editions and work my way forward reviewing those as well.

Anyway, The Bleeding Edge is a four issue arc that just wrapped up. It is covered in Nightwing issues 44 through 47. However, it ends on a bit of a non-ending cliffhanger, which alludes to the story becoming broader but it is unclear if it will continue here, in Nightwing, or if it will go on in one of the many other Batman-related titles, as the threat in this story goes on to target Gotham City.

Overall, this had a decent plot. It had a lot of good twists and turns and it was fun. It also brings Batgirl into the story, which was cool, especially considering the recent developments in her and Dick’s relationship.

The threat here, is a technological one. Dick Grayson is sucked into a virtual reality world but at least this isn’t a pile of shit like those Lawnmower Man movies. The villain here has a grand scheme and even though Nightwing and Batgirl swoop in and save the day while getting the villain to see the error of his ways, the tech threat takes on a larger life of its own and moves on to a bigger target.

I liked the art, the colors were especially good. The final issue in the arc had a cool bit where it flipped back and forth between the virtual reality view of things and actual reality and it was pretty cool.

I also really liked the minions of this tech-based enemy.

All in all, pretty enjoyable but not all that memorable unless this is leading to something actually bigger and greater.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with:  The NightwingBatgirl and Titans series since the start of DC’s Rebirth era.

Film Review: A View to a Kill (1985)

Release Date: May 22nd, 1985 (San Francisco premiere)
Directed by: John Glen
Written by: Michael G. Wilson, Richard Maibaum
Based on: the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming
Music by: John Barry
Cast: Roger Moore, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Christopher Walken, Patrick Macnee, David Yip, Alison Doody, Dolph Lundgren, Maud Adams (cameo), Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Robert Brown

Eon Productions, United Artists, 1.. Minutes

Review:

“You slept well?” – Max Zorin, “A little restless but I got off eventually.” – James Bond

From memory, this is a cheesy, goofy James Bond film. Having now revisited it for the first time in nearly a decade, this may actually be one of my favorites of the Moore era and of all-time. Quite simply, this is really f’n fun!

But then Moore’s films have always been fun and I am being reminded of that, as I have recently rewatched all of his ’80s era stuff. Something about this movie puts it ahead of the other two ’80s Bond pictures he did though.

This is a really good cocktail that also features the always fantastic Christopher Walken, as the villain, as well as Grace Jones, who commands everyone’s attention whenever she appears in anything. I friggin’ love the duo of Walken and Jones in this and they are one of the best villain tandems in Bond history. They have a strange but amusing relationship that is accented by both actors’ unique personalities. I almost wish they would have survived and been around in more than one movie but unless you’re Blofeld or Jaws, that just doesn’t happen in classic Bond-lore.

Tanya Roberts was far from the most memorable Bond Girl ever but she was really good here. She just fit in well with everyone and did her job, quite solidly. She wasn’t a complete damsel in distress but she also wasn’t some KGB badass either, she just felt more like a real, normal woman when compared to most of the other Bond Girls.

It’s also worth mentioning that this has one of my favrotie title sequences in the franchise. I have just always loved Duran Duran though, probably because I was a kid of the ’80s and heavily under the influence of the pop culture of the time.

Additionally, I really like the scheme in this picture. It’s nutty and ambitious but it just works for a Bond film of the classic era and it was probably the perfect plot on paper in the mid-’80s when the tech industry was blossoming and booming.

Another highlight was the San Francisco setting in the latter half of the film. The Golden Gate Bridge finale was top notch and a high point of the Roger Moore era.

The only thing that really bothered me about the film was that incredibly cheesy moment in the opening sequence, when Bond is trying to evade the Soviet enemies on skis and “California Girls” starts blaring. It’s a jarring moment that pulls you out of the movie and the gag wasn’t that funny.

I know that a lot of people look down on this chapter in the Bond franchise and see it as a low point. I don’t. This movie has a special place in my heart but it also might be that it is hard to push down nostalgia and see things more clearly. This was the second Bond film I ever saw in its entirety and I rented it a lot as a kid.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: The other Roger Moore James Bond movies.