(Not So) Random Film(s) of The Week: The Thing (1982)

The Thing JB_RJ

With his trusty bottle of J&B to keep warm, R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan) try quite unsuccessfully to make snow angels.

THE THING sfSo, what did YOU do during last week’s too damn hot weather? Me, I dragged my slightly sickly self out in that nasty, unbearable heat to go sit in a nice, well-chilled home with seven other people with the express purpose of making some of them scream. No, I didn’t do my *legendary* crowd-pleasing Chippendale’s act, people (wait, I have a Chippendale’s act?). I simply put a very old plan into action I’d successfully executed a few times in the distant past in introducing a fine horror film to some friends who had either never seen it previously, have only seen a heavily edited for TV version or yes, just disliked scary movies.

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that I’ve actually previously reviewed an older DVD version of the 1982 John Carpenter film and I’ve also deconstructed the 2011 prequel which I found okay, but lacking in some respects (I think the studio meddled a bit too much with the film, turning it into less than what director Matthijs van Heijningen intended to be a more solid horror experience). Now, I didn’t just show up unannounced, tie seven people to assorted furniture and force them to watch the movie, so there. Nope, as a matter of fact, I was actually asked to host a little screening party by a friend who borrows movies from me on a semi-regular basis.

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Kvetch-22: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Good GOG PlusHere’s some news fresh from the “Wouldn’t You Know It?” desk:

Hooray! I won something awesome recently – a blu-ray copy of the Ivan Tors produced, Herbert L. Strock directed sci-fi film GOG (1954), restored into its 3D state and in HD for the first time on disc. Many thanks go to Kino Lorber, Classic Movie Hub and Aurora’s Gin Joint (all fine places to sit for a spell and learn about plenty of classic films) for picking my hastily scribbled entry. I also got two more Arrow Video blu-rays in the post today to review right after GOG showed up via Fed Ex: Dillinger and The Zero Boys. Excellent!

However (and this is hi-larious)… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: Invisible Invaders

Invisible Invaders MPSometimes revisiting an old film can reveal a load of new surprises, particularly if it ends up being a possible inspiration for later and better works. While not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, 1959’s Invisible Invaders managed to actually be a lot more thrilling than I recall from seeing it as a kid.

For one thing, it’s both an alien invasion and a zombie flick, melding sci-fi and horror pretty well despite some rather incredulous plot shenanigans. It’s also an unintentional response to Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space (also released in 1959) because it features more or less the same story executed far more effectively. Well, for a low budget flick, that is.

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Leonard Nimoy: The Transformed Man Passes

Nimoy as Spock ST_TOS
 

The universe of stars just got a bit dimmer with the loss of Leonard Nimoy earlier today. Known primarily for his work on the Star Trek series, animated series and film series, the man was also a writer, director and producer with a body of work that showed he was more than just Mr. Spock. The character was actually a great deal more nefarious looking and fervent when the show began (as seen here), but mellowed in looks over time. Spock’s demeanor also shifted to a less intense, but still compelling presence that helped carry many an episode and helped keep him a fan favorite. His role as that character was so pivotal to his career that even when he tried to gently distance himself from it, it very likely was his role as Spock that got some Trek fans interested in his other film and TV work. Of course, he never really hated being Spock, but his sense of humor based on fan reaction made for a nice second autobiography.


 

Not a way I wanted to go about having a Friday, but I’m glad to have had the pleasure of enjoying his work on Star Trek and a plenty of other projects he’d worked on during his 83 years on the planet. No matter how you feel about the man and his work, it’s an absolute fact that he lived long and prospered. So long, sir – you’ll be missed by many.

Alien Outpost Final Trailer: That Invasion? It’s Coming Sooner Than You Think!


 

AlienOutpost_posterThanks to a too crazy month of stuff knocking me about, I’d almost forgotten that Alien Outpost was arriving in theaters and on VOD this Friday. IFC Midnight has been putting out a nicely varied mix of genre films for a while now and between this one, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (yes, I’ll have a review up for that awesome indie shortly) plus a few other flicks on the way, it’s clear that massive budgets and major stars aren’t at all required to make compelling entertainment.

The mix of “found footage” documentary and intense sci-fi action should appeal to you weekend warriors looking for a little cinematic diversion to spend a slice of time with. Back with a review and more shortly…

Random Films: Bad Movies: It’s What’s For Dinner!

dinner and too many movies
 

Okay, I couldn’t help myself. After the cheesy charm of Mill Creek Entertainment‘s 50 movie bundle Sci-Fi Invasion sent me to Nostalgialand, I had to have more. Fortunately, I was able to track down five more of these sets for dirt cheap ($35 shipped for everything) and now never need to go outside again. Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement. Sure, there are all so-so transfers and if I had enough bandwidth, a load of time and a bigger hard drive I could look around the internet and get all of these for no money at all. But I’m a perfect example of someone who can’t use any streaming service at home thanks to jumpy internet as well as one of many who just prefer physical media over downloads. I’m not so fond of this digital future everyone is pushing for because it’s too much trouble and expense to keep up with every trend.

That and many of these tech items that are supposed to be changing the world are ending up to be disappointing failures. Segway, 3DTV and Google Glass owners who got sucked into those technological wonders as early adopters shelling out small fortunes are probably feeling a lot less chatty these days. Unless of course they’re those staunch defenders who claim we all didn’t “get” what the “future” those expensive toys were supposed to bring the world. Now, I’m NOT against new inventions and innovations at all. It’s just that people will be people and think that recreating stuff from movies that should stay in movies and/or thinking people will adopt every bizarre idea as the next big thing has led to a LOT of time and money wasted. Work on saving the damn planet, not just trying to sell us stuff and maybe I’ll be impressed…

Anyway, I have some movies to watch (“SOME” he says? HA!). Not now, but soon, as I’ve a ton of work in my inbox. Um, anyone want to come over and watch too many bad movies? Bring food and beverages, because I’ll probably be feeling far too lazy to cook anything.

Okay, back in a bit…

Movies I (Still) Need To See #1: The Power


 

As I watch a wee bit too much of TCM when I’m not doing anything constructive, I’ve ended up with a mighty long list of films I need to see before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Not all of these films are important or even good, mind you. But I feel it’s my civic duty to entertain myself as much as possible. Or, to quote The Police: “When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around”. Anyway, I figure I may as well kick of another series of articles about films I haven’t seen yet in the hope that some of you get the idea and start bucket-listing flicks you’d like to see. Anyway, kicking things off is The Power, the George Pal produced 1968 sci-fi thriller that I’ve only seen in the 1967 MGM Lionpower promo feature that pops up from time to time on TCM.

The Power (1968) MP 

That footage made me laugh because the film predates David Cronenberg’s 1981 classic horror/sci-fi hybrid Scanners by 13 years and almost comes off as an influence in a few ways. Granted, Cronenberg’s films stand up well enough on their own. But this oldie looks like it would make a nice companion piece to the newer film (and should certainly be better than the pair of non-Cronenberg directed Scanners sequels that sunk whatever franchise rights the first film had. Not that it needed a sequel in the first place, mind you. Anyway, that’s the first film I could think of, NOT the first one on my list of films. That’s just how I roll, people… randomly. Which, by the way, is a habit I’m trying to break. Back in a bit…

Random Films: Robo Vampire Makes My Monday More Tolerable…

(thanks, andybluefox!) 

Well, the plasterer is at lunch for an hour (yes, he left before noon!), so there’s a pause in today’s nightmare. In the meantime, after taking some more pinup photos of the wreckage in the kitchen, to keep my sanity level somewhere close to normal I’ve been catching up on some bad movies. Godfrey Ho’s 1988 howler Robo Vampire made my morning thanks to it being even worse (and much funnier) than its title suggests. Swiping badly from Paul Verhoeven’s stellar Robocop is bad enough to dismiss this without even watching it. But toss in hopping ghosts (wait, how does a cyborg fight ghosts outside of some seven-year old kid’s notebook scribbles?), mercenaries, long water torture scenes and slow, dull “chases” and editing that makes the film seem like three or four movies spliced together and you get an instant classic. Well, “classic” in that “How the hell did this ever get made?” manner. Seriously. I’ve seen student films with better quality EVERYTHING than this clunker.

Ah well. Everything exists for a reason, I suppose. This crazy flick just kept me laughing through the continuing (and seemingly never ending) mess that is my apartment. I suppose I should thank Mill Creek Entertainment somewhere in all this because I’m too lazy and busy to seek out and download all those public domain flicks I paid ten bucks for and still consider that a steal because that’s time and bandwidth money I didn’t need to waste. Back in a bit…

The Invasion Has Begun (Finally!)…

Sci-Fi Invasion Box SetYeah, yeah. Some of you have this budget-priced collection of mostly crappy sci-fi/fantasy flicks with a few old TV shows no one over a certain age knows about already. But I’m late to the party and loving it, warts and all. I’ll probably drop in a few Random Film of the Week posts on some of these flicks at some point. I spent too much of last night and early this morning scanning through some of the fifty films spread across a dozen discs mostly laughing my head off or having my eyes pop out of my head at some of the wilder films. I’d actually seen some of them long ago on TV but forgot all about them, so being reminded that they existed was probably the most amusing thing.

That said, it’s too bad the video formatting and picture quality is all over the map in this set. The best-looking films are some of the made for TV stuff or the older black and white films and TV shows that were made to fit screens of a certain size. Some of the theatrical features suffer with the sides if images chopped off and/or too grainy/too dark transfers that make them hard to sit through. Still, a few of the gems I’ve wanted to see again are here, so R.O.T.O.R. is going to crack me up all over again and probably be close to the top of the list as a review. or perhaps I’ll do Slipstream, a really offbeat sci-fi flick with Mark Hamill and Bill Paxton I’d only heard and read about but never saw until last night. We’ll see, however. I only made it through two full movies and seven discs worth of watching assorted clips before I keeled over. The entire set is 70 hours, 34 minutes and I’ll probably watch every second. Even those awful Rocky Jones, Space Ranger shows from the 50’s will get a look-see from me. Hey, I have to know what my folks were watching back in the day, right?

Well, at least I won’t be whining about having nothing to watch for a while, right?

The Phoenix Project: Will it Rise to the Occasion for Sci-Fi Fans?

The Phoenix Project In short, raising the dead means raising hell if you’re careless (go, sci-fi science!), and of course this makes for some interesting films. The Phoenix Project is coming in January from FilmBuff and Ironwood Gang. Based on the IMBD trailer, looks quite interesting. I’ll hold off any further comments until I get my grubby paws on some sort of screener, but it’s pretty cool to get a vibe from a few other films while watching this teaser. A little Re-Animator here, some Frankenstein there, a dash of (and hopefully ONLY a dash of) Flatliners somewhere on the bottom, shake well and BOOM.

We’ll see if the final version is up to snuff soon enough. Hey, you look as if you need to read a bit of a press release. You go do that, I’ll go make some popcorn:

 

THE PHOENIX PROJECT

In Select Theaters & VOD/Digital Download on January 16th, 2015

Four young scientists work to craft a machine to reanimate deceased organisms. As the project develops, the machine exceeds their wildest expectations, creating boundless possibilities that challenge the very nature of human existence. However, success with this experiment comes at a price, as ulterior motives and reckless abandon lead to consequences none of them could predict. As their time and resources fade, this team of visionary scientists must face the realities of the task they have set out for themselves, bringing the dead back to life.

Directed & Written by: Tyler Graham Pavey
Cast: Corey Rieger, Andrew Simpson, David Pesta & Orson Ossman

Distributor: Film Buff

Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama

Runtime: 92 minutes