October Horrorshow: Virus (1999)

Once upon a time, the moviegoing public wasn’t assaulted by an endless stream of comic book movies from Marvel and DC. Back in the dark days of 1999, the Batman cinematic franchise was on life support after Joel Schumacher finished with it, and Marvel’s properties had been farmed out to Sony. The only two movies of any significance based on comics that year was Mystery Men, which was a big budget flop, and Virus, which was an even bigger big budget flop. Both of these titles came from Dark Horse Entertainment, and may have a lot to do with the slow pace of further adaptations from the Dark Horse stable, when compared with what Marvel and DC are doing. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Virus (1999)”

October Horrorshow: Color Out of Space

Filmmaker Richard Stanley has had something of a checkered career. His first feature, Hardware, which he wrote and directed, was a success, but he was successfully sued for plagiarism, the story having too many similarities to a strip published in a Judge Dredd annual. Then, a few years later, Stanley was fired as the director of the doomed Island of Dr. Moreau adaptation less than a week into filming (firing him was never going to save that mess of a film, honestly). That was in 1995. It would be more than two decades before Stanley sat in the director’s chair for a feature film again, and it was for 2019’s Color Out of Space, an adaptation of the short story by H.P. Lovecraft. But, the trials and tribulations don’t end there. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Color Out of Space”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 4

Critters might be the first horror franchise to take its action off planet. Hellraiser took to space in 1996, Leprechaun followed a year later, and Friday the 13th sent Jason Vorhees into the black in 2001. Incredible as it seems, Critters 4 might be a groundbreaking film.

From 1992, Critters 4 was shot at the same time as Critters 3, but this isn’t a case of breaking a single film into two parts when things began to sprawl. Critters 4 was always a separate film from the third, with a different director in Rupert Harvey. Much of the production crew, including the Chiodo Brothers, remained the same. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 4″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 3

I’m willing to believe claims that screenwriter Dominic Muir wrote Critters before Gremlins was released in 1984, but as the franchise reached this third installment, all pretense is washed away. Critters 3 is a Gremlins ripoff — and also the launching point for one of Hollywood’s most successful actors.

No more theatrical releases for this franchise. By 1991, it was direct-to-video only. Written by David J. Schow and directed by Kristine Peterson, Critters 3 leaves the cozy confines of Grover’s Bend, Kansas, for the big city of Topeka. A family returning from a vacation — father Clifford (John Calvin), daughter Annie (Aimee Brooks), and young son Johnny (played by twins Christian and Joseph Cousins) — unknowingly pick up a critter infestation when they have to stop to change a tire. A couple of eggs are left in a wheel well, and they hatch just as the family returns to their rundown apartment building. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 3″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 2

What month of horror franchise reviews would be complete without visiting the redheaded stepchild of 1980s horror franchises? The first Critters film was released to widespread yawns and accusations of thievery from Gremlins, but I maintain that this series of films is an indelible part of the experience of 1980s horror. All of these films are cheap, bloody, nicely tongue-in-cheek, shitty, and more entertaining than they should be.

Coming to audiences in 1988, Critters 2 picks up two years after the events of Critters, and assumes, quite fancifully, that one has seen the first film. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 2″

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Blackout, aka The Blackout: Invasion Earth

Just to prove that the United States and China aren’t the only nations that can produce a jingoistic alien invasion flick, Russia has given us The Blackout, wherein an alien invasion blacks out power over the entire planet, except for a circle centered around Moscow.

From screenwriter Ilya Kulikov and director Egor Baranov, The Blackout follows a small group of Russian soldiers as they try to stave off the invasion and keep Moscow safe. This flick didn’t have much of a budget, but Baranov and company still managed to put together a film with an expansive plot and some decent explosions here and there. Look closely, and one will notice how few real locations there really are, but that’s not worth bothering about, especially with all the other shit thrown a viewer’s way. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Blackout, aka The Blackout: Invasion Earth”

October Horrorshow: Nightbeast

Blood, gore, low production values, a little gratuitous nudity, and charm out the wazoo. That’s Nightbeast, the 1982 sci-fi/horror flick from b-movie filmmaker Don Dohler. It’s a simple film with a simple idea: an alien passing by Earth runs into a stray asteroid and crashes in rural Maryland. It’s an angry beast, and it wastes no time slaughtering the locals with its laser gun.

Trying to stop the massacre are the cops and the good citizens of Perry Hall, led by Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith). That’s all the plot one really needs to know. There’s very little setup to this flick, and very little character development. That’s a good thing, as Dohler didn’t round up the best talent for his opus. Besides Griffith, there’s Karin Kardian as Deputy Lisa Kent, Jamie Zemarel as local Jamie Lambert, and Don Leifert as local tough guy and murderer Drago (it’s a subplot). None of these performers, or the others listed in the credits, had much work outside of Don Dohler films, and none of them seemed like professionals. But, their lack of acting chops only adds to the appeal. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Nightbeast”

October Horrorshow: Invasion from Inner Earth, aka Hell Fire, aka They

Invasion from Inner Earth movie posterOnce upon a time, in the far distant past, AD 1974, filmmaker Bill Rebane asked a simple question. “What if I made an alien invasion movie without the aliens?” I’m joking, but at some point during production, Rebane (who has graced the Horrorshow in the past) had to have noticed that all the action in his film was taking place hundreds of miles away from the plot. What we’re left with are five 20-somethings in an isolated cabin in northern Manitoba, whiling away the time by playing with a ham radio and eating beans. It turns out that it’s important for a filmmaker to place their characters near the action in a film, so that something, anything, happens to ease the pain of the audience. Who knew?

Working from a screenplay by Barbara J. Rebane, Invasion from Inner Earth (also released as Hell Fire and They — titles that make as little sense as Invasion from Inner Earth) starts off slowly, and that’s how the whole thing goes. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Invasion from Inner Earth, aka Hell Fire, aka They”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Alien Rising, aka Gemini Rising

What a bottom-feeding pile of garbage. This reviewer has seen many bad movies — enough bad movies that I’ve ruined any arthouse bona fides I may have had — yet, sometimes, I’m still surprised that something so amateurish manages to get made. This is one of those shitty movies where no one involved, even the professionals, seemed able to capitalize on their work.

Alien Rising, from 2013, is a direct-to-video shitfest brought to viewers by screenwriters Michael Todd and Kenny Yakkel, and director Dana Schroeder. This was Schroeder’s second directing effort, and, if his IMDb page is any indication, it will be his last. Thank goodness. We shitty movie fans may be into flagellation, but everyone has limits. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Alien Rising, aka Gemini Rising”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Shanghai Fortress

How do I know China is a superpower? Besides the massive economy, the massive military, the massive population, and China’s massive effect on world politics? It’s because the Chinese are now making alien invasion movies where they save the day. That is when a nation truly arrives at the forefront — when they can make jingoistic popcorn cinema of the world-saving variety. And, like most American forays into such material, it stinks.

Shanghai Fortress is an adaptation of the sci-fi novel by Jiang Nan, wherein, in the near future, a new energy source called Xianteng has been brought back to Earth by astronauts. It’s a self-replicating energy source, and clean. A new day has dawned for humanity. Except, some aliens get wind of us having Xianteng, and a gigantic spaceship arrives, Independence Day-style, to rain hell on the earth. After five years of conflict, only one major city remains: Shanghai. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Shanghai Fortress”