Film Review: Ghoulies (1984)

Also known as: Beasties (working title)
Release Date: November 8th, 1984 (UK)
Directed by: Luca Bercovici
Written by: Luca Bercovici, Jefery Levy
Music by: Richard Band, Shirley Walker
Cast: Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Scott Thomson, Mariska Hargitay, Jack Nance

Ghoulies Productions, Empire Pictures, 81 Minutes

Review:

“They call me Dick, but you can call me… Dick.” – Dick

The Ghoulies films were never something that I was all that into. I watched them a few times in the ’80s and ’90s but there were so many better horror films from those decades, that Ghoulies really got lost in the shuffle and only ever seemed to resurface in my mind whenever someone else brought it up in conversation.

That being said, this is a better movie than I remembered. I can’t say the same about the sequels, as I haven’t revisited them in years but I plan to do so in the near future.

First off, I didn’t even remember that Michael Des Barres was in this. As a kid, I always loved him as Murdoc, the total bastard that loved to fuck with MacGuyver on MacGuyver. He is great at being insanely dramatic and he really ups the ante in this film, as the evil Malcolm Graves. The opening scene with him presiding over a demonic ritual was absolutely fantastic and so full of insane ’80s cheese that nearly everything after that scene is a disappointment.

Not to worry though, Des Barres comes back into the film in the third act and the big finale is friggin’ bananas.

The film deals more with witchcraft than just being about little carnivorous killer creatures, though. It’s that witchcraft that brings the creatures to life but this film has a lot of other layers to it. There is a terrifying clown doll for one thing, then there is a pair of weird midget minions and some undead shenanigans.

The highlight of the film is the finale, which sees the monsters tearing shit up while the evil wizard battles the main character and then Jack Nance, who you will probably recognize from Eraserhead or Twin Peaks.

The film has some serious flaws and a lot of mistakes in it but that stuff just adds to the charm.

One mistake that is hard to miss is in the confrontation between Malcolm Graves and his son. Malcolm’s eyes glow green and then they don’t from shot to shot. I don’t know how they fucked this up. Maybe there were some re-shoots done and they didn’t have anymore money for effects, I’m not sure. Point is, this mistake sticks out like a sore thumb.

This is a silly, stupid movie but the formula works. You can’t watch this and take it seriously and it is self-aware enough to know that it just needed to be ludicrous and fun.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: The other three Ghoulies films, the Munchies films, Hobgoblins and Sorority Babes In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama.

Comic Review: Mr. Crypt

Published: August 24th, 2016 – February 2nd, 2017
Written by: Troy Vevasis
Art by: Aleksandar Jovic

Alterna Comics, 75 Pages

Review:

Sometimes you just want some lighthearted, childish fun. Well, I do at least. You may feel different but if that’s the case, you need to look into your soul and say, “Hey, ass hat! Stop being so damn serious and miserable!”

Anyway, Mr. Crypt came to me when I ordered a couple random bundles of stuff from Alterna Comics. I read through the first issue, it made me smile, I felt good and then I sadly realized that I didn’t have issues two or three. I then quickly ordered them because I wanted to have the entire run of this series.

Now you don’t need to read each issue to get the effect of what Mr. Crypt is, as each book is its own self-contained story. However, some gags and in-jokes happen throughout and it’s better to have the entire context then just a single issue. Plus, it’s enjoyable and amusing and you should want to buy them anyway. Plus, these are Alterna comics and only cost $1.50.

The main character here is a re-animated skeleton. The townsfolk freak out whenever they see him, so he wears a disguise. There’s a running joke across all the issues about Mr. Crypt’s mustache, which often times blows off in the worst moments, giving him away. Mr. Crypt also has a friend, a rat named Baron Rat.

The first issue of three is used to setup the story and establish the character, as well as the tone of the series. The second issue sees Mr. Crypt get pulled into some vampire hunting shenanigans. The third sends him off on a vacation but there is a twist and he ends up dealing with some angry island natives.

There is also a one-shot Baron Rat spinoff but I really hope that there is more of Mr. Crypt in the future. While this isn’t the type of comic book that I typically read, it’s refreshing and silly enough to make me a fan of it. It’s also something that works for kids and adult audiences.

Ultimately, it reminds me of the comic strips from the paper that I read as a kid before I got into actual comic books. Except, this is cooler than a lot of the comic strips of yesteryear.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Other Alterna Comics releases.

Film Review: Piranha 3D (2010)

Release Date: August 20th, 2010
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Written by: Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Based on: Piranha by John Sayles
Music by: Michael Wandmacher
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele, Dina Meyer, Paul Scheer, Eli Roth, Ashlynn Brooke, Bonnie Morgan, Genevieve Alexandra, Gianna Michaels

The Weinstein Company, Atmosphere Entertainment, Chako Film Company, Intellectual Properties Worldwide, Dimension Films, 88 Minutes

Review:

“Kelly, trust us. It’s never cheating if it’s with another chick.” – Andrew

Well, this was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be: nothing more, nothing less.

There are killer fish, boobies (but not enough), gore (but it’s mostly CGI bullshit), bad science and insane characters. There’s also Elisabeth Shue and she’s a sheriff and well, I love a woman in uniform.

For the most part, this was just a hair above being boring and mundane. The story is weak and it completely misses the social commentary that was worked into the script of the original Joe Dante Piranha movie from 1978.

Okay, I guess there is some commentary here but it is mostly just about how party people are dopey meat heads, figuratively and literally, as they become fish food.

The overabundance of CGI in this film is disappointing. The original worked so well in its use of practical effects. All you need in these sort of films is some bubbly water, a person screaming and fake blood being released all around them. It’s pretty easy to create. But Alexandre Aja, a director I’ve never been a fan of anyway, would rather have people flail around and scream in the water and then just plug in some computerized fish in post-production with effects that reveal how limited the film’s budget really is.

The highlight for me was that the film had cameos by Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss but both of their contributions were minimal and didn’t enhance the movie very much.

This just had a terrible script and frankly, a film like this isn’t hard to write. You don’t have to come up with Oscar caliber dialogue or write in a bunch of character development for people that will just get eaten but you should come up with a solid string of action sequences or chaos that keep this film afloat.

Honestly, after about 30 minutes for setup, the remaining two-thirds of the film should have been insanity mixed with gore and boobs. And good gore, not just CGI fish burping up a CGI penis for cheap laughs that didn’t even get laughs. All we got with this film was ten minutes of Spring Break chaos and then a lame sequence of the teen hero trying to save his annoying girlfriend from a sinking yacht.

Making a Piranha movie shouldn’t be rocket science, especially in the 2010s. And the problem is, this wasn’t a bad movie but it also wasn’t a good one. It’s in that sort of limbo that I hate where I can’t praise the film and I can’t enjoy trashing it.

I’ll probably check out the sequel though because I heard its worse and in the case of this emotionless and creative dud, worse would be better.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: Any of the Piranha movies: original series, remakes, sequels, etc. However, nothing tops the greatness of the original Joe Dante film.

Comic Review: Secret Agent Deadpool

Published: September 5th, 2018
Written by: Christopher Hastings
Art by: Salvador Espin, David Nakayama

Marvel Comics, 24 Pages

Review:

People love Deadpool. People love James Bond. But people did not love If Looks Could Kill, the 1991 Richard Grieco movie where he was mistaken for a famous spy while on a high school trip to Europe. Okay, I kind of liked that movie when I was in middle school but I was still able to realize that it was terrible and that it bombed critically and commercially. It was just one of those dumb motion pictures that was my cup of tea when I was twelve.

The reason I even bring up that long forgotten action teen comedy is because the plot was basically the same thing as this comic. Okay, Deadpool wasn’t an American high school student scoping out the ladies over exotic crepes but he was mistaken as a spy by that spy’s own agency. Because apparently DNA tests and shit don’t exist within the walls of a high tech agency in 2018.

Anyway, this comic is a good example of why I don’t really like Deadpool or at least why I haven’t liked him since like 1994 or so. He’s just straight comedy, all the time and he’s a one note character that isn’t really that interesting when you get past the jokes. And when the jokes aren’t funny and the shtick has run stale, which it did for me a long time ago, you’re left with a boring comic that doesn’t serve much purpose. Well, I guess this serves the purpose of being a cash grab for the publisher, thanks to the hardcore ‘Pool fans out there, most of whom didn’t exist until Ryan Reynolds came along.

I just don’t find Deadpool stories to be all that interesting. Sometimes you have a good story but it’s when the plot is a bit more grounded and it has other well-known characters that can add another layer of depth to the proceedings. Deadpool just running rampant on his own doesn’t work for me.

This tried to be funny but nothing really hit the mark. The art wasn’t very good either and this doesn’t feel like what a Marvel book should feel like. But this is also not a printed comic, it is a Comixology exclusive and made for the digital market.

I guess I can’t complain because it was free with my subscription but this was a bore to get through and I won’t download the second issue.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: Other modern Deadpool comics. But really, just man the fuck up and read Deathstroke.

Comic Review: Preacher: Crusaders

Published: October 31st, 1996 – March 31st, 1997
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 156 Pages

Review:

Since I just finished Preacher‘s third season, I am really happy because the show is in a spot that I remember really fondly from the comics: the six-part Crusaders story arc.

No longer owning the Preacher comics I had in the ’90s, as they were lost somewhere along the years and after several moves, I had to round up these issues again. Luckily, my local comic shop had all six issues and in pristine condition, I might add.

It was great revisiting this series and if you haven’t read the comics but are a fan of the show, you can jump right into this story and know where you are. It has some of the stuff from the back end of season three in it and it also goes into what I assume will be the early parts of season four. Ultimately, this is just a badass chapter in the long epic that is this superb series.

Cassidy, the vampire, is captured by Herr Starr and his minions. Jesse has to leave Tulip behind as he goes on an insane mission to rescue Cassidy from The Grail’s fortress. We meet the Allfather, get to learn about the angel that is imprisoned with Cassidy (seen in the season three finale of the show), get some awesome action when the Saint of Killers takes on The Grail in their stronghold and get to see Starr in all his evil greatness.

As much as I like the show, I still love the comic and this just made me realize that I need to give the entire series a revisit.

Garth Ennis was on his A-game here but any fan of comics from the ’90s knows about how great this series was. Steve Dillon’s art still looks incredible and frankly, I wish more comic books had even half of the style that Dillon did here. I also love the Glenn Fabry covers and some of them have become so iconic over time that I may frame a few of these issues.

Preacher is an exceptionally great comic book. Even with a television show, there are just too many people that haven’t delved into the source material. It’s fucked up, twisted and delightful.

For fans of the series, this arc is a high point and ’90s comic book perfection.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: The other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Comic Review: It Came Out On A Wednesday – Issue #1

Published: August 9th, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

Alterna Comics, 51 Pages

Review:

This is an ongoing (and I believe monthly) comic anthology series put out by Alterna Comics. At the time of writing this review there has only been one issue published. I wanted to get this review out though, based off of just the first issue, because it was really unique and entertaining. Plus, it is a current comic that could use the support, assuming this is your bag of donuts.

Now I am not typically an anthology fan. Short stories can be really good but the best short stories are tales I always want more of and usually everything else, at least to me, is just sort of filler to pad out an anthology. Mostly, they are a collection of ideas and this is the best way to test market them, which can lead to a regular series or a miniseries for something that really resonates with people.

This was such a cool release though and one of my favorite single issue comics to come out in 2018. I’m really excited for the future releases.

Each story comes with its own creative team and therefore there is a large variance in art styles, writing styles and genres.

I was glad to see that Mr. Crypt got a little one page comic wedged into this, as I recently came to discover that series and found it really good.

The highlight for me though was the opening story, which was a lead-in to a larger Alterna Comics series that’s coming out called Exilium. It’s pretty cool and I’m planning to read that series, based off of the sample of it I got in this anthology.

I also really enjoyed the short story Bloodfist, which is pretty much about this brutish bald dude with bloody fists that jumps into a well to beat the everliving crap out of a giant beast. Bloodfist is the hero we all need in 2018.

This also has a peek into the series The Wicked Righteous, which is a comic that I have a few issues of but haven’t read because I need to complete the story arc. I liked what I saw here in this book though, even if it was just a taste.

It Came Out On A Wednesday is what many Alterna Comics are: refreshing and unique. I hope future issues are this enjoyable.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Other releases by Alterna Comics.

Film Review: Final Exam (1981)

Also known as: Examen Final (Spain, France), Examen (Germany)
Release Date: June 5th, 1981
Directed by: Jimmy Huston
Written by: Jimmy Huston
Music by: Gary S. Scott
Cast: Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, DeAnna Robbins, Sherry Willis-Burch, Ralph Brown, John Fallon, Timothy Raynor

Avco Embassy Pictures, Motion Picture Marketing, 89 Minutes

Review:

“People are killed every day for no reason at all.” – Radish

This film has characters named Radish and Wildman in it. What’s not to love, right?

Final Exam is one of the seventy dozen slasher films to come out in the early ’80s. It is also one of the most forgettable. It tries to be several things at once but fails at all of those things.

This is a film with multiple personality disorder. It wants to be a teen sex comedy and also wants to be a clone of everything better than it in the slasher genre. It doesn’t meld the two things together very well and it doesn’t do either of the two things very well either. It’s not funny, not scary and the biggest crime against it is that there is barely any blood in it.

Another problem with the film and I’m not sure if it’s an attempt to be artistic or just pure laziness but the slasher has no backstory, no name, no real motivation that you’re ever made aware of and looks generic as hell. He’s just some dude that looks like Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men but severely deficient in coolness.

The dumbest thing in this entire film is the sequence where some frat bros stage a fake terrorist attack on the school in an effort to create a distraction so their other frat bros can cheat on their exams. Seriously, these doofusauruses roll up onto the university lawn in a van and start machine gunning people and then steal the corpses of their victims. Of course, none of this is real, as the corpses come to life, laughing their asses off in the van. It’s a bizarre scene that just comes off as random nonsense that contributes to the overall nonsense that is this stupid movie.

Final Exam sucks. I love slasher films, even really bad ones, but this is such an awful pile of shit that the flies would rather commit suicide than hang around this massive mound of crude excrement.

Rating: 3.25/10
Pairs well with: Other college/school themed slasher pictures of the era: The ProwlerGraduation DayNight SchoolThe Dorm That Dripped BloodBlack ChristmasThe House On Sorority Row and The Initiation.