Film Review: The Fury (1978)

Release Date: March 10th, 1978
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Written by: John Farris
Based on: The Fury by John Farris
Music by: John Williams
Cast: Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, Amy Irving, Andrew Stevens, Fiona Lewis, William Finley, Dennis Franz, Gordon Jump, Daryl Hannah

Frank Yablans Presentations, Twentieth Century Fox, 118 Minutes

Review:

“…and what a culture can’t assimilate, it destroys.” – Dr. Jim McKeever

The Fury is a movie that I haven’t seen in a really, really long time. I’m talking, late night on cable when cable was still cool… that’s how long.

Also, I never saw it in its entirety from start-to-finish. I always kind of caught it in the middle and it’d be at times where I had to fight to stay awake in hopes of finishing it.

Having now watched it in its entirety for the first time without fighting sleep, I’ve got to say that it’s damn good and it just solidifies the greatness of Brian De Palma, especially in his early days.

This feels like a natural extension of some of the concepts De Palma worked with in Carrie but it isn’t bogged down by Stephen King-isms and it’s a hell of a lot cooler and expands on those concepts in a bigger way, as we now see psychic powered youngsters being abducted and turned into psychic super weapons.

The film stars two actors that are absolute fucking legends: Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes.

Douglas plays the hero character, trying to save his son, who has been abducted and turned into an evil psychic killing machine. All the while, Douglas is trying to save a young girl from the same fate.

Cassavetes, who just does sinister so well, plays the main antagonist who betrays Douglas and tries to have him murdered so that he can abduct his psychic son and brainwash him while honing his skills. Cassavetes mostly succeeds in the opening of the film but doesn’t realize that Douglas survived the orchestrated assassination attempt.

The real highlight of the film for me was the big finale and the moments that led up to it, which saw the psychic son unleash his powers in twisted and fucked up ways. The special effects used here were simple, practical and incredibly effective.

There were a lot of psychic power horror flicks in the ’70s and ’80s but The Fury is certainly one of the best of the lot. If this type of stuff is your bag, you definitely should give it a watch.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’70s and ’80s psychic horror movies, as well as Brian De Palma’s other horror and thriller films.

TV Review: Jupiter’s Legacy (2021)

Original Run: May 7th, 2021
Created by: Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Jupiter’s Legacy by Mark Millar, Frank Quitely
Music by: Stephanie Economou
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Leslie Bibb, Andrew Horton, Elena Kampouris, Mike Wade, Matt Lanter, Tyler Mane, Kurtwood Smith

Di Bonaventura Productions, DeKnight Productions, Millarworld Productions, Netflix, 8 Episodes, 35-56 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Jupiter’s Legacy was made like it was expected to be a massive hit, right out of the gate. I also think that Netflix, who had acquired a lot of comic book legend Mark Millar’s properties, thought that they could capitalize off of Amazon’s The Boys and make something that could either exist on its level of commercial and critical success or possibly even surpass it.

Sadly, this show was cancelled almost immediately after it debuted due to a lukewarm response, its astronomical production cost and what one would have to assume was complications due to COVID, which has been the death knell of a lot of promising Hollywood productions.

All that being said, it’s kind of sad seeing this television show not having the time to evolve into something. It’s only eight episodes and the first season serves as more of a prologue to a larger, more epic story.

Initially, I wasn’t into the show and I had to push through the first few episodes. But as I progressed through them, things started to click and the show found its footing. By the end, I wanted to see more and to see how this was going to play out. However, I guess none of us will ever know. Well, I could pick up the comics and give them a shot and I might.

At first, I wasn’t too keen on the costumes and the general look of the show but as it rolls on, it starts to work and this does take on its own identity, even if it may appear to be derivative and just another superhero show in a sea of superhero shows and movies.

For the most part, I liked the cast. I especially thought that Josh Duhamel was damn good as the patriarch of his superhero family. I also liked Leslie Bibb and it was cool seeing her get to shine and ply her trade as one of the top characters in a serious drama, even if it is about pulp heroes and concepts.

I wish there would have been a bigger sample size of episodes to critique and analyze but I guess we’ve got what we’ve got.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other recent comic book television adaptations.

Comic Review: The Amazing Spider-Man – Epic Collection: Cosmic Adventures

Published: July 31st, 2014
Written by: Gerry Conway, Stan Lee, David Michelinie
Art by: Sal Buscema, Steve Ditko, Colleen Doran, Gil Kane, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Alex Saviuk

Marvel Comics, 501 Pages

Review:

When I was a kid and probably because I was a kid, nothing seemed cooler than Spider-Man getting cosmic powers. Basically, seeing him become a hero more akin to Superman was a neat idea and it felt like it upped the ante, as it also brought with it, bigger and badder villains than his typical foes.

However, this also happened during the Acts of Vengeance crossover event, which saw Marvel villains switch which heroes they would fight, thinking that taking on different heroes would give them a tactical advantage and catch the good guys off guard.

So with that, Spider-Man got to tie up with tougher foes anyway. However, these foes were the ones caught off guard by Spidey’s new cosmic abilities, which evolved from issue-to-issue and also surprised Spidey.

One thing that this short era of Spider-Man did was it shook up the series and made it kind of fresh. But sometimes, that isn’t the best thing to do. Especially, if something isn’t broken and Spider-Man comics in the late ’80s weren’t broken.

Reading this now, this saga is really a mixed bag. Some single issues collected within are entertaining while others just seem like they’re just not hitting the typical Spider-Man beats.

Still, this was cool to experience a second time, over three decades later. It’s not my favorite era of Spider-Man comics but it’s strange and different enough that long-standing Spidey fans who haven’t read it, might want to check it out.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Spider-Man stories of the ’80s and early ’90s.

Film Review: Evilspeak (1981)

Also known as: Evilspeaks (alternative title)
Release Date: August 22nd, 1981 (Japan)
Directed by: Eric Weston
Written by: Eric Weston, Joseph Garofalo
Music by: Roger Kellaway
Cast: Clint Howard, R. G. Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Haywood Nelson, Don Stark, Charles Tyner, Richard Moll

Leisure Investment Company, Coronet Films, Moreno Films, Warner Bros., 97 Minutes, 92 Minutes (R-rated cut)

Review:

“I command you, Prince of Evil, heed my call. Give life to the instruments of my retribution.” – Stanley Coopersmith

Evilspeak is a cool movie that capitalized on two things that had people worried in the early ’80s: the “Satanic panic” the media and parents groups were raging about, as well as the emergence of personal computers and what such a jump in technology could mean for the common folk.

This also stars a very young Clint Howard, playing a teen in a military school that decides to use his computer to summon the devil in an effort to conquer his bullies.

It’s also neat seeing the bully being played by a young Don Stark, who is probably most famous for being the doofus neighbor to Red Foreman on That ’70s Show.

The movie also features legendary, badass character actor R.G. Armstrong, as well as Richard Moll, before he’d go on to greater heights as Bull on the ’80s sitcom Night Court. There’s also Lenny Montana, a former professional wrestler that was most known for playing Luca Brasi in The Godfather and another sitcom star, Haywood Nelson, who was already known for his role as Dwayne on What’s Happening!! and later, What’s Happening Now!!

Man, I dig the hell out of this movie. It’s not just because I love the cast, it’s because this is just a time capsule into a really cool era for horror cinema. Also, it’s not a slasher flick or haunted house movie. Frankly, it’s pretty unique, at least for its time.

Granted, it’s concept would be ripped off and reimagined in several other films but this is the first film I know of where a personal computer was used to create a black mass and call forth the Devil.

Clint Howard really shines here because even if he succumbs to evil and a fucked up revenge plot, you still sympathize with him, as he just has this sort of soft, sad, endearing quality as this character, Stanley. His life sucks, it’s tough as hell and his bully is a real piece of shit. That being said, what the bully does to Stanley’s puppy is unforgivable and as a viewer, you want Stanley to literally raise hell.

I thought that the special effects in this were also pretty great. The big finale was well shot and employed some cool techniques, as a levitating, demonically possessed Stanley unleashes his newfound power on the assholes who tormented him.

Beyond that, I also thought the locations, sets and general visual tone were perfect. The film’s score wasn’t too bad either.

Evilspeak is one of those early ’80s horror movies that seems like it’s mostly forgotten today. However, it’s concept has lived on in countless other things throughout pop culture.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other “Satanic panic” movies of the ’80s, as well as Brainscan, The Gate II: Trespassers, Lawnmower Man and 976-EVIL.

Film Review: Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)

Also known as: Nick Fury (Argentina, France, Italy, Poland)
Release Date: May 26th, 1998 (TV)
Directed by: Rod Hardy
Written by: David Goyer
Based on: Nick Fury by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Music by: Kevin Kiner
Cast: David Hasselhoff, Lisa Rinna, Sandra Hess, Neil Roberts, Garry Chalk, Tracy Waterhouse, Tom McBeath, Ron Canada

Fury Productions Limited Partnership, National Studios Inc., 20th Century Fox Television, 90 Minutes

Review:

“Contessa Valentina de Allegro Fontaine. Quite a mouthful when you try and wrap your tongue around it. Don’t let the blue blood fool ya, Pierce. Val’s an old hand at the sexpionage game, aren’t ya?” – Nick Fury

I remember seeing the ads for this on television back in 1998 and thinking, “Yeeeeeeeesh…” Because of that, I never watched this but I have seen some scenes and clips over the years.

If I’m being completely honest, though, there probably wasn’t better casting at the time than David Hasselhoff to play the classic Nick Fury in a low budget, TV movie that was, more or less, a failed pilot for a series.

Watching this now, I really like Hasselhoff and I think that he nails the look and chutzpah of the comic book Nick Fury pretty well. It just sucks that the rest of the production around him is really terrible and it actually brings down his performance.

If someone came up to six year-old me in 1985, handed me a Jim Steranko Nick Fury comic and said that the dude from Knight Rider would play him one day, I probably would’ve been beyond ecstatic. But alas, we got a picture that failed from top-to-bottom.

The plot is fucking terrible and makes little to no sense. For most of the movie, Fury has been exposed to a deadly toxin but it doesn’t even start to effect him till like the end of the movie, when he’s hunting down the chick that poisoned him but can also cure him. I guess the toxin isn’t all that bad if this dude can fight like nothing is wrong with him for half the movie. And if anyone knows the character Viper, once she poisons you, you’re pretty much immediately fucked.

Whatever.

This could’ve been pretty damn great and led to a decent Marvel Comics television show in an era where people would’ve really ate it up. Instead, we got a poorly written, awfully directed piece of crap, starring a guy that could’ve brought great things to the table if someone behind the scenes gave half a shit.

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: other Marvel films before the 2000s changed everything.

Film Review: Return of the Fly (1959)

Release Date: July, 1959
Directed by: Edward Bernds
Written by: Edward Bernds
Based on: The Fly by George Langelaan
Music by: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter
Cast: Vincent Price, Brett Halsey, David Frankham, Danielle De Metz, John Sutton

Associated Producers Inc., 20th Century Fox, 80 Minutes

Review:

“[voice over] Here passes from this earth Helene Delambre, widow of my brother, Andre, whom I loved deeply, hopelessly. She was destroyed in the end by dreadful memories, a recollection of horrors that did not dim as the years went on, but instead grew monstrously, and left her mind shocked and unsteady, so that death, when it came, was a blessed release.” – Francois Delambre

Return of the Fly was rushed into production pretty quickly after the immense success of its predecessor.

That being said, it’s not as good as the first film and it also lacks color but I thought that the story justified its existence and it added something fresh to what would become a franchise starting with this movie.

The story follows the young son of the Fly from the first movie. Except now, he’s a full grown adult that has studied science and wants to follow in his father’s footsteps in an effort to honor him and prove that he was a genius that just took one terrible misstep.

It’s kind of odd that the kid is now a grown man and Vincent Price looks like he hasn’t aged a day but this is a 1950s atomic age horror flick, so suspending disbelief isn’t too difficult.

The son gets into bed with a business partner that has criminal aspirations and with that, comes a grave double cross that sees the son become a human fly like his father.

The finale of this picture isn’t as tragic, however.

While this does follow some of the same beats of the first movie, once the man becomes a fly, the people working to solve the problem have more success, here.

All in all, I enjoy this chapter in the series. It found a decent way to milk the original film and to keep this concept going. Still, it’s not as good of a movie and the scientist’s fate as a fly never feels as permanent in this one.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as its sequel Curse of the Fly and the ’80s remakes.

Film Review: Things (1989)

Release Date: September, 1989
Directed by: Andrew Jordan
Written by: Andrew Jordan, Barry J. Gillis
Music by: Jack Procher
Cast: Barry J. Gillis, Amber Lynn, Bruce Roach, Doug Bunston, Jan W. Pachul, Patricia Sadler

Exosphere Motion Pictures, Left Field Productions, 83 Minutes

Review:

“Next time I bring you with me I’m leaving you at home.” – Don Drake

Every time that I think I may have discovered the worst film ever made, something else falls out of the sewer pipes and right into my lap. This time, it came courtesy of Joe Bob Briggs on his show The Last Drive-In.

Those of you who have been around Talking Pulp for awhile, probably know about my lifelong respect and admiration for Joe Bob Briggs. Hell, years back, I wrote a piece called Joe Bob Briggs – A Texan of Exquisite Taste and a Man Who Influenced a Generation.

So this epic betrayal really hit me like a kangaroo punch to the gonads. Sure, my good friend Joe Bob has shown me some really shitty movies over the decades I’ve been watching his various shows on various networks but nothing was even close to being quite this bad.

This was shown on what Joe Bob was calling “VHS Night” and it was paired with Sledgehammer, another VHS horror relic that was filmed on video, as opposed to traditional film. As rough as that film was to get through, this one really elevated Sledgehammer and by comparison, made it look like the Citizen Kane of primitive video horror.

Nothing in this film makes sense, the characters aren’t likable or relatable and everything that could go wrong from a production standpoint… did!

Well, at least the movie featured porn star Amber Lynn. However, even that was handled abysmally bad, as she stays fully clothed in all her scenes and just reads fake news reports off of a cue card that makes her look away from the camera and off to the side.

Normally, I’d be happy to see these guys use practical effects but even the creatures in this movie were terrible. They were basically large plastic ants with sharp teeth glued to their poorly crafted mouths.

Even with the added commentary of Joe Bob, Darcy and special guest Chris Jericho, this movie was incredibly hard to get through.

In the end, I’ve now seen it and I never have to watch it again.

As for Joe Bob, this whole ordeal reminds me of the time my Uncle Denny told me he had WrestleMania tickets but instead, took me to some outlaw wrestling mud show in what I can only assume was the same violent, fantastical, redneck Florida town where Two Thousand Maniacs! took place.

Rating: 0/10
Pairs well with: other horror films shot on video. Also, dental surgery without painkillers.

Comic Review: Star Wars: Legacy – Book II

Published: January 8th, 2015 (Marvel reprint)
Written by: Jan Duursema, John Ostrander
Art by: Jan Duursema, Kajo Baldisimo, Omar Francia, Alan Robinson, Adam Hughes (cover)
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 417 Pages

Review:

After being pretty drawn into the first large collection in the Star Wars: Legacy comic book series, I didn’t want to waste too much time before getting to the second of the three volumes.

This one is nearly as good. However, it jumps around a lot to tell different stories with some characters we haven’t met yet. Most of these side stories were there to lay the groundwork for the overall, bigger arc.

For the most part, I enjoyed these side plots even though I wanted to get back to Cade Skywalker and his friends, as well as seeing where Darth Krayt was after his first big encounter with Cade.

The biggest things that happen in this volume is that there is a legit power struggle on the Sith side of the coin, while on the Jedi side, Cade has to evolve and conquer his personal demons in an effort to allow the light to wash away the dark. He’s not quite there yet but things in his life continue to push him towards the destiny he keeps trying to deny.

This volume also develops all of the main and secondary characters much more, as by this point, the series had gotten through what I would call its first act with this being the second.

This sets up everything for the final third of the larger story and it really keeps the momentum going, as we know shit will most assuredly hit the fan in the final volume.

Overall, this was solid and kept me invested in the series. Now there’s only one more book to go.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other Star Wars comics of the Legacy era, as well as the stuff originally published by Dark Horse.

Video Game Review: Contra (Arcade)

As much as I have played Contra on the original Nintendo, I hadn’t played the arcade version in decades. I always remembered it looking better and having better sound but I wanted to replay it just to see the differences between this original version and its more widely known NES port.

So this obviously does have better graphics and sound but it also has smoother gameplay.

Beyond that, the levels feel more condensed and the bosses take less hits to defeat.

However, even though you have the ability to continue after death, those continues are limited, so it’s extremely hard to actually play through the game in its entirety. In fact, I kept getting put down on the snow level, about midway through the game.

Still, this was a hell of a lot of fun and it should be considered an arcade classic in the same vein the NES version is considered an original Nintendo classic.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling action games for the arcade and classic Nintendo, which narrows it down to about 8 dozen games.