Vampire Raiders Ninja Queen (1988)

This is the actual sales pitch for this movie: “The fate of the entire hotel industry is at stake. A group of evil black ninjas has threatened to insinuate themselves into the industry, take over, and transform the operation into something unspeakable.”

One part of this movie is 1984’s Mixed Up, which was directed by Chow Chun-Gaai, and is about three hotel switchboard operators saving the life of their rich boss. The rest is purple ninjas, hopping vampires and whatever other footage Godfrey had lying around that day.

I would say that watching this movie is like someone switching channels during a commercial and you end up missing a bunch of the movie you really wanted to watch, but that would make you think that this movie has some semblance of coherent storytelling.

This is the kind of movie where a giant pig is launched off the roof of a hotel and lands on an old man and his wife, killing them both. Then a vampire emerges from the dead hog. If you can get with that, you can get with this movie that never even tries to make sense.

Can virgin piss kill a vampire? Why do the zombies have rubbery arms? Are you ready for music cues from Mad MaxThe Road WarriorThe Addams Family and Phantasm? Do you want to watch a vampire get way too fresh with a lady ninja in a bikini?

The answers are maybe, I don’t know, totally and yes.

You can watch this on YouTube.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: All Jacked Up and Full of Worms (2022)

Roscoe (Phillip Andre Botello) is in a weird place in life. He’s a janitor for a scuzzy love motel ad his girlfriend has brought another man home for strange rituals. But he does have a stash of powerful hallucinogenic worms, visions from a floating worm that is speaking directly to him and perhaps a new friendship with Benny (Trevor Dawkins), a moped enthusiast who is trying to manifest a homunculus baby from a sex doll.

Basically, a Hallmark movie for the kids.

Director and writer Alex Phillips said that this movie is “a meditation on psychosis. The only accurate way to convey insanity is to disregard the literal truth. All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is a dream that is impossible to break from autobiography. It’s about expressionistic maggots born in real wounds – maggots growing into big worms, too fantastical and deranged to be real, despite feeling heavy, wet and alive.”

I found it right up my alley — a gore-filled take on loneliness, connection and love that will make fans of movies like Society stand up and cheer through their tears and normal folk retch in their popcorn. That’s a standing ovation in my world.

“Worms are life, worms are love.” If you’re the kind of person that looks at a worm and wonders not just if you can cut it in half and create two lives but also eat one of them and trip balls, well, this movie was either made for — or by — you.

If you’re attending Fantastic Fest in person, All Jacked Up and Full of Worms will play at the following times:

Tue, Sep 27th, 2:30 PM @ Theater 9

You can also get a virtual badge here.

This film will debut on Screambox on November 8.

Zhui ming qiang (1971)

The Mongols have taken over China but White Dragon (Jimmy Wang Yu) and his huge spear stand in their way. Two rebels die to give a young thief named Kenny a tube with a secret message and White Dragon agrees to protect him as they journey to deliver that information to the Prince, who hates White Dragon as he once defeated his father in a duel and ruined the man’s life.

That tube contains a secret list of rebel leaders that the Prince can use to save China, even if he hates White Dragon, who is selfless and still wants to return it to him, even if the Prince had no honor and stabbed him with a secret dagger hidden inside his Magic Sword.

This all leads up to a twenty-minute long final battle that seems like a contest between White Dragon and the Prince to see how many soldiers they can kill. The final boss, General Tai (Yi Yuan) has one of those amazing martial arts movie weapons, a sword that turns into a whip. I have no idea how a weapon like that would work in real life, but who cares? This is the world of unreal weapons and even more fantastic warriors using them to unleash their fighting skill.

It’s intriguing that this was directed and written by a female filmmaker, Kao Pao Shu, which doesn’t happen too often in martial arts cinema. She would direct herself in The Female Fugitive and also make The Master Strikes.

You can watch this on Tubi.

STAY UP LATE WITH MANOS AND THE DRIVE-IN ASYLUM LATE NIGHT MOVIE!

This Saturday at 11 PM EST, join Bill and me on the Groovy Doom Facebook and YouTube pages for Manos the Hands of Fate which is available on YouTube and Tubi.

We’ll share our thoughts on the movie, show ads for it and even share a mixed drink. Here’s the recipe:

Peppymona

  • 2 oz. pink grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. tequila
  • .5 oz. maple syrup
  • 2 oz. grapefruit soda or club soda
  1. Place juices, tequila and maple in a shaker, then have Torgo shake it for you.
  2. Pour into a glass and top with soda.

We can’t wait to see you Satuday!

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Life On the Farm (2022)

Get ready to watch something strange.

Filmmaker Oscar Harding grew up near farmer Charles Carson. Carson would give the family his homemade video tapes, which seem like he was hosting a TV program but he was all by himself. Or he was surrounded by cows giving birth. Or puppeteering his stuffed cats. Or wheeling his dead mother around so she could see the farm one more time before she went into the ground.

Carson was…well, the jury is out. Was he an outside artist? An early adopter of posting videos online before there was the internet? Or maybe someone with some deep mental issues?

Beyond getting to see the actual videos, the film also speaks to Karen Kilgariff (My Favorite Murder), Derrick Beckles (TV Carnage), Everything Is Terrible and Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher from The Found Footage Festival to learn why the videos are artistically important while also, yes, just odd.

“There we are, that’s life on a farm.” Carson says this several times and it makes me think about how he came from a world that is a constant circle of life and also so removed from the city that he may as well be an alien. He would keep giving these tapes, stories about life on the farm to his friends and neighbors. Were they entertained? Shocked? Upset?

Yet this movie never laughs at the man. It points out that he may have had issues, but he also saw death in a different way than we do. Perhaps by looking at it with a sense of humor, he was ahead of us, people who might look down on him and think him uneducated. I see him as a man with no guile, one with a sense of humor that could be surreal but he may have never encountered that art himself. He was, in a sense, a unique island of a man whose video output lived beyond him, made its way to people who could keep it alive and now, miles and decades away from a man long dead, we can appreciate what he left behind, even if it’s a video of him holding up a huge piece of afterbirth.

If you’re attending Fantastic Fest in person, Life On the Farm will play at the following times:

Thu, Sep 29th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 2
Thu, Sep 29th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 6

You can also get a virtual badge here. You can learn more about this movie on its official Facebook page.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle (2022)

Severin Films, who released the original Birdemic, wants to move past Birdemic 2: The Resurrection and introduce a new and better take on the birds. Or so they said, but after a decade, not much has changed.

Gerontologist Evan (Ryan Lord) and marine biologist Kim (Julia Culbert) have learned from her collecting ocean water samples that the water has become too acidic due to global warming. That means that the birds, always those CGI birds, are mad. But first, there’s romance.

Director and writer James Nguyen did it all himself this time and man, it’s certainly a movie. There’s nearly an hour about climate change where every conversation and even the artwork references it. If you think the media isn’t spending enough time on this issue, this movie is out to make up for it.

It also has a lot to say about how good Vertigo is.

There’s also a lot about how Mr. Green, an Elon Musk-esque billionaire is our only hope.

And then twenty minutes in, this movie remembers that it needs bird attacks and gives you bird attacks.

To get there, there’s a long karaoke slow dance scene, a space elevator and lots of making out.

I think this movie has a brand name now that guarantees that lots of people are going to want to watch it.  I can’t believe that there was one of these movies much less three. There are long stretches without dialogue or even music. There’s no real story until it’s almost over. And by this point, either James Nguyen is in on the joke or so far into himself that he doesn’t realize what he’s making or probably both.

In case you want to know where your money went when you bought all of those Al Adamson and Dennis Steckler box sets, you can see it on the screen here.

If you’re attending Fantastic Fest in person, Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle will play at the following times:

Thu, Sep 29th, 2:45 PM @ Theater 1
Thu, Sep 29th, 2:45 PM @ Theater 2

You can also get a virtual badge here. You can learn more about this movie on its official Facebook page.

Grab The Brain That Wouldn’t Die 60th anniversary novelization!

It Came From Hollywood! is ready to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of one of cult cinema’s greatest pulp science-fiction/horror shockers with their brand-new novelization of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die! It dares to go further than the screen ever allowed!

Robert Freese delivers The Brain That Wouldn’t Die like you have never before experienced it! Includes a brief history of the film’s production by movie marketing archivist Paul Mcvay, along with a reproduction of the original 13-page press book and eight lobby cards.

You can get the book by itself or in a Brain Bundle. Each copy is numbered and signed by the writer, Robert Freese. The Brain Bundle also includes a set of 8 post cards reproducing the original Lobby Card set as well as a full reproduction of the A.I.P. Pressbook for Brain and it’s original co-feature Invasion of the Star Creatures. (The pressbook also includes a reproduction of Star Creature‘s original 8 Lobby Card set!) The standalone Pressbook reproduction is recreated in the original colors it was originally printed in. And of course, a button so you can wear your fandom and show your support for re-animated heads everywhere! The Brain Bundle is limited to 25 copies and is only $30.

 

Konan The Barbarian Swordsman (1985)

Mostly edited from the Korean movie Muin (The Warrior), this movie has no one named Konan. It does have Eagle, the hero of this story, and it is not afraid at all to rip off from Lone Wolf and Cub.

Directed by Ki-pung Choi but also remixed into maniacal unclarity by IFD, this has their white man ninjas who wear headbands that just say ninja in case you wonder, “Are they ninjas?”

Anyways, Eagle — he’s also called You-seong — takes a bloody journey to Mongolia in search of General Yong Tae-san, the man who destroyed his family and kidnapped his fiancee Su-ruin. There’s also a Mexican comedy relief character who is doing a Cheech impersonation which seems to not match the world or the time that this movie takes place in, but neither do screenprinted ninja headbands, so really any complaints that I have are moot.

Actually, I have no complaints. This is like an hour of violence and a dude’s hand gets chopped off. That’s all I need.

You can watch this on YouTube.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Shin Ultraman (2022)

The SSSP kaiju defense taskforce, led by Kimio Tamura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is dealing with tons of monsters that have made their way to Earth. Luckily, they are soon joined by Ultraman, perhaps the greatest enemy of giant monsters ever.

I spent much of my childhood making Ultraman’s beam hand motion and watching and rewatching every single episode of the show. Every time I met a Japanese person as a kid, I wanted to know more about Ultraman and imagine my surprise when I learned how many more shows there were that — in the pre-internet times — we never got here.

I got that same childhood wonder and joy from this movie, which was made by the same team that created Shin Godzilla — there will also be a Shin Evangelion Theatrical Edition and Shin Kamen Rider — director Shinji Higuchi and writer, editor and motion capture performer Hideaki Anno.

Shinji Kaminaga (Takumi Saitoh) is killed in the line of duty as Ultraman battles Neronga. The robot feels badly so he takes the man’s place and soon learns that he feels plenty of love for the human race, despite the fact that some of them don’t trust him. There are a lot of interplanetary political machinations in this story yet it never gets slow or boring. If anything, it feels like an entire season of Ultraman jammed into one movie.

There’s Zarab, the evil Ultraman, as well as Mefilias, the world-destroying Zetton, Gomess (a modified Godzilla from Shin Godzilla, just like how the original was a Godzilla suit when he was on Ultra Q), a Mammoth Flower, Larugeus, the Ultra Q monster Peguila, Kaigel, Pagos and Gabora (who along with Neronga were all made up of the Toho Baragon suit on the original Ultraman and Ultra Q), as well as cameo appearances from vehicles — often in the background or as models on desks — of Gohten from The War In Space, Alpha and Black Shark from Lattitude Zero; the Mole, FAB 1, Fireflash and the five Thunderbirds from Thunderbirds; and the Enterprise from Star Trek.

Info for this article and this image came from the amazing https://wikizilla.org/wiki/Shin_Ultraman

This is also the first Ultraman movie to be made by Toho. Does that mean we’ll ever see Godzilla versus Ultraman for real? One can hope.

The best part of this movie? It’s so episodic that there’s a new monster or crisis nearly every thirty minutes. Man, this is great. If you love kaiju, Ultraman or just want to have some fun at the theater, make sure you see this when it comes out in American theaters this fall.

You can watch Shin Ultraman with a Fantastic Fest virtual badge here.

Inheritor of Kung Fu (1977)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

 Inheritor of Kung Fu has almost as many titles as release dates. Possible alternate titles include: Avenging Dragon, Hero at the Border Region, Two Graves to Kung Fu, and Soul Collector. The film was produced in Taiwan and very little information is available.  It is listed in several sources as having been released in 1977, ’78, 1983 and ’84. It almost certainly was not produced in the 1980s as by then, the Wuxia genre has all but died out replaced by high octane police stories and bullet ballets. 

The version I saw from Martial Arts Theater was of poor quality. Even if it was restored and complete, Inheritor of Kung Fu probably wouldn’t make much sense, anyway. At least not in its present form. Rumors abound that the film was originally set to be two films shot simultaneously to take advantage of Ti Lung’s star power, but I haven’t been able to corroborate this with a primary source in Asia. 

Ti Lung is the handsome hero who befriends a Princess (Chang Ling a.k.a Pearl Cheung) and her servant while on the road. Ti tries to help them battle off some masked bandits but ends up being rescued by the Princess who possesses Kung Fu skills superior to his own. Fans of Kung Fu cinema will easily predict things won’t stay that way for long. 

Ti perfects his fighting skills while somehow getting in the middle of a few clans who are all at odds over a special Kung Fu manuscript. From there the movie takes a somewhat mythical turn. Supporting characters come and go doing strange things that have nothing to do with the plot while the lead villain disappears for 60 minutes of the running time leaving viewers to wonder if a more complete cut exists. The Wu Tang Collection’s YouTube channel is a slightly better print (link below.) 

The fight choreography is good but a lot of the wirework is poorly hidden. The sets are bad and there are some serious continuity and technical issues. I won’t even mention the white guy who comes flying out of the lake during the last act with no prior mention of a reason such a thing should happen. You know it’s springtime when the white guys come shooting up out of the water.

Everyone involved with it should disown Inheritor of Kung Fu except for Ti Lung. What a trooper. Ti saves the film. He kicks serious ass and plays second banana to no one as was common in his Shaw Brothers films with David Chiang. He really has time to showcase his Kung Fu and rises to the occasion as a charming leading man. [Full disclosure: I’d watch Ti read from the 1977 phone book, so I’m biased.]

The Martial Arts Theater DVD release has a running commentary track with HK movie expert and author Rick Meyers and African American HK stuntman Bobby Samuels. The two don’t seem to pick apart the film’s plot either and Meyers failed to identify Pearl Cheung even though there are resources available that showcase her. They also refer to the main bad guy as “The Mad Korean” but upon checking another print of the film, there are no Korean names listed in the credits. Despite these inconsistencies, Meyers and Samuels offer some interesting information on Ti Lung, Hong Kong and Taiwan Kung Fu cinema and are overall very pleasant to listen to. If anyone out there has more info on this title or its production, I’d love to read it!