All Superheroes Must Die 2: The Last Superhero (2016)

In the sequel to All Superheroes Must Die, journalist Vicky O’Neil (Tallay Wickham, who co-wrote this with director Jason Trost) wants to find out who killed Ally Andrews, who takes her into the dark world of superheroes and an interview with the last surviving hero, Charge (Jason Trost). As he explains his life and all the loss within it, she explores what it takes to become — and keep on being — a hero.

Since the first movie, The Four has broken up after the deaths of Cutthroat and The Wall. Later, Shadow also died and Charge was the prime suspect. It turns out that his real name is John Ford and before he became a superhero, he dated Ally. There’s also a masked man who is killing heroes one at a time, absorbing their powers and who may be working for the world’s governments, who want control over the heroes.

A lot of people seemed to dislike that this film was a fake documentary, but I felt like it was a really brave choice for Trost and Wickham to make. The budget doesn’t really allow for much in the way of powers to be shown but I found the story so enthralling that at no time was I wondering how the actual powers looked. There are big budget superhero stories and down and dirty ones, like this. Trost’s superhero films have felt more like Bratpack than Titans and that’s the way that I like them.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Despiser (2003)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on January 30, 2023. As I’ll be exploring the films of director and writer Philip Cook this week, this movie has been reposted with lots of added new material.

Gordon Hauge (Mark Redfield) gets fired, kicked out of his apartment and dumped by his wife Maggie (Gage Sheridan) all in one day, then wrecks his car and wakes up under attack by the Ragmen and Shadowmen of purgatory, the world between heaven and hell. He soon meets others who are trapped here because they ended their lives in a moment of noble sacrifice, all united in combat against the dreaded Despiser, a horrific blast of 2003 CGI that crashed into our planet when his spaceship slammed into Russia in 1908 and caused the Tunguska event.

Despiser feels like a Canadian movie but it’s made in Virginia.

It has the tones of a faith film but is packed with tons of violence.

And it feels like parts of The Wizard of OzThe Stand and Lord of the Rings yet has so many strange ideas inside it that it feels like nothing else. Or, as the official site says, director and writer Philip Cook “was intrigued by the idea of an alternative world like ours, recognizable but skewed, dark and ominous—a blend of our culture mixed with macabre fantasy. This concept became the purgatory, a place where, after death, one’s soul is purified of sin—by suffering. But in this story, something has gone terribly wrong with it. It’s no longer a clearinghouse for confused souls; it’s become bottlenecked, out of balance and fraught with conflict.”

Keep in mind that this isn’t a movie with a multimillion-dollar budget but instead is a combination of green screen shot on video footage and all the CGI money could buy in 2003. If you liked the strange worlds that show up in Fungicide, good news. This goes even harder, if that’s possible. It feels like if you stare at it long enough, you’ll be able to see a sailboat in its pixels.

Cook was a vet by the time that he made this, as he had already written, directed, edited and/or photographed hundreds of commercials for clients ranging from The Washington Opera to MTV. Before that, he worked on Nightbeast for Don Dohler, Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor and was the director of photography for Godfrey Ho on the Cynthia Rothrock movie Undefeatable

When he made this movie in 1998, no one was making movies with a stylized look like this. It’s accepted now — just look at how The Mandalorian has been filmed — but in the five years it took to make, Cook said that “the audience was jaded because 3D was everywhere. Special effects aren’t special anymore.”

I disagree. No movie anywhere looks like Despiser.

It even has some intriguing heroes beyond Gordon, like Nimbus (Doug Brown), a soldier who has been in purgatory since World War One, kamikaze pilot Tomasawa (Frank Smith), Jake (Michael Weitz) and Charlie Roadtrap (Tara Bilkins).

Joe Bob gave this three and a half stars and had these totals: “Forty-nine dead bodies. Five gun battles. Three crash-and-burns. Four motor vehicle chases. One sucker punch. Two body-transformation scenes. One hydrogen explosion. One Viking funeral. One peasant riot. Flaming church. Flaming car. Upside-down crucifixion. Grotesque insect destruction. Doll-stomping. Gratuitous shipwrecks. Kung Fu. Grenade Fu. Bazooka Fu.”

For those that look at the cover image for this and instantly think, “I need to know more,” or loved staring at blacklight posters at Spencer’s or played enough Gamma World, this is for you. It’s definitely for me.

I really can’t recommend this movie enough.

You can watch this on Tubi.

ETs Among Us 7: UFOs, JFK & the Assassination of JFK (2023)

In the seventh installment of Cybela Clare’s explosive series of alien exposes, Peabody Award-winning journalist Linda Moulton Howe, JFK experts Robert Morningstar and Jim Marrs, and psychic CEO Sebastien Martin have come together to explain why President John F Kennedy was killed.

One reason may be that he wanted to share the government’s most highly classified secret with the American people. That’s right. Kennedy wanted to tell everyone about aliens.

Ten days later after he made this decision, he was assassinated. Partially burnt documents, rescued from the fireplace of deceased counter-intelligence chief James Jesus Angleton are the proof.

Or so this movie says.

I’ve watched so many documentaries about Kennedy and this reminds me of when I read William Cooper’s Behold a Pale Horse, the book from which it seems so many conspiracy theories have come. Cooper wrote that Kennedy was assassinated because he was about to reveal that extraterrestrials were in the process of taking over the Earth, so he was killed by William Greer, the driver of the presidential limousine using a gas-powered device. He even said that the Zapruder film shows Greer turning to look into the back seat of the vehicle before firing the fatal shot.

As for Cooper himself, he went on to claim that the U.S. government had carried out the Oklahoma City bombing and was using remote mind-control devices to establish the New World Order. He also felt that he was being personally targeted by President Bill Clinton and the Internal Revenue Service. In 1998, federal authorities charged Cooper with tax evasion and bank fraud. They waited three years to serve him, as they were worried about what would happen.

In November of 2001, a 17-officer operation started with two sheriff’s deputies trying to lure Cooper away from his home and stockpile of weapons. When they identified themselves, he opened fire and almost made in back inside his house before he was shot and killed.

Cooper’s theory of JFK was even used in an episode of The X-Files, “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man,” which used his phrase silent weapons for quiet wars. Depending on how deep you go, that could be disinfo. This documentary could be too.

I refuse to tell you how deep I go.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Animal Magnetism (2016)

Maya (director, writer and star Cybela Clare) isn’t understood by her parents, who wonder why she sleeps with her parrot Romeo (Clare’s real-life parrot Baby Rainbow) and also why she cares so much for animals and their place on our planet. They send her to a psychiatrist, Dr. Zerkov (Yanni Posnakoff), who understand her and gives her hope.

Then she heads off to Thailand, a place where she learns how elephants are being endangered and also meets a seductive man who has a secret agenda. Monks sleep with tigers, elephants can paint and we all learn something.

Clare makes documentaries about similar subjects as well as narrative movies. This one tells a story that seems autobiographical about how she came to love and take care of animals despite the way her family treated her. As always with her films, I’d love to learn more. Her bio says, “Fluent in six languages, Cybela Clare is an Ivy League graduate and former Drama Tutor at Harvard University. A proud member of the Explorers Club, Cybela has traveled the world documenting international wildlife rescues, as incorporated in several of her films.”

But how did we get here? How much of this movie is true? And what motivated her to make it?

It’s my goal to get those answers.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Junesploitation: Kickboxer the Champion (1991)

June 5: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is 90s Action! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

IFD has a website and yes, it’s near comical in how much they reveal and how they have never edited their many typos. I mean, this site is full of typos too — people email me about them all the time — but I am actively trying to clean them up.

Here’s what they had to say about Kickboxer the Champion: “A killer and a Trader must battle the odds in the name of honor and justice.

In Shanghai between the wars, one man, Kingsley, is determined to corner the opium trade for all of China by controlling the shipping routes. Boxer is an honest trader who stands in his way, Knowing that Boxer and his friend Richard are amateur kickboxers, Kingsley unleashes his champion, Bulldog on him.

Once Boxer has been eliminated all chaos breaks out in gangland, with crime bosses at each others throats and killers-for-hire assassinating all who oppose Kingsley. It is up to Boxer’s friend Richard to challenge Bulldog to a battle-to-the-death to ensure that justice is served.”

One person has reviewed this — to date — on Letterboxd and only 2 have seen it on IMDB. That’s incredible, because the ninja Godfrey Ho movies are packed with viewers. I guess he was right: you really should just make hundreds of ninja movies.

What is even more amazing is that this movie was edited together with new footage and also scenes from a movie made 17 years earlier — a record, defeating the previous champion, the 16 years different Terror, Sexo Y Brujeria — called Chu zu zuo shou di ren. It also has some recognizable people in it like Sing Chen and Carter Wong, who most American audiences recognize as Thunder from Big Trouble In Little China. Wayne Archer, who plays Kingsley, was also in Operation Condor and several other Godfrey Ho films.

At this point, Godfrey realized that every movie on the shelf in most video stores was saying kickboxer, so he probably made the right movie. It looks like an actual movie, but that’s not what I expect or demand from IFD movies. I want utter inanity and this doesn’t really give me that movie drug rush that I need. It does, however, have white dudes continually proving themselves to be the best fighters in the world, so if you do run a video store, file this under science fiction.

It does, however, make liberal and non-copyright-respecting use of the Psycho theme.

You can watch this on Tubi.

All Superheroes Must Die (2011)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on . As I’ll be exploring the films of Jason Trost this week, this movie has been reposted with lots of added new material.

What if you combined a superhero movie with Saw? Well, this would be it.

Directed, written and produced by Jason Trost, who made The FP and also stars in this movie as Charge, this movie finds him, Cutthroat (Lucas Till, who was Havok in X-Men: First Class and MacGyver in the reboot of the series), The Wall (Lee Valmassy) and Shadow (Sophie Merkley) waking up in an abandoned town, their powers gone and facing their arch foe Rickshaw (James Remar, always amazing) in the kind of death trap Arcade used to put the X-Men through.

This is probably as close as we’ll get to a Brat Pack movie. I kind of liked it way more than most reviews I’ve seen, as I liked the end of the superteam dynamics of the film, the way we learn about the heroes’ lives and origins through their actions. Plus, Charge must continually make tough choices that end up making their lives worse at every turn.

Did you read stuff like Grips and Aircel comics in the 90s? Or the post-Image grim and gritty comics made by comics fans that did one comic and never another one again? Do you like Stephen Platt? Then you’re going to like this way more than the average filmgoer.

There’s also a sequel, All Superheroes Must Die 2: The Last Superhero, that I need to find. There was also a comic book from the same universe and Jason Trost posted the first issue here.

If you’d like to know more about the filmmaker and how he approaches movies, check out the interview I did with him here.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Invader (1992)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I watched this originally during Cannon Month, but took another look after reviewing all of Phillip Cook’s movies. 

Directed and written by Phillip J. Cook, Invader was produced independently by Cook and John Ellis. Cook shot all the inexpensive dialogue sequences and what he did impressed Menahem Golan so much that he financed the rest of the movie through his 21st Century Film Corporation.

After watching four soldiers fail to escape from Clark Air Base, we meet Frank McCall (Hans Bachmann), a reporter for the National Scandal. When one of the soldier’s burned bodies is found, he starts to look into the story and comes up against government agents who want it silenced. McCall sneaks into the base on the night that a plane with an experimental software system called A.S.M.O.D.S. is being tested and ends up being held by Captain Anders (A. Thomas Smith) and Colonel Faraday (Rick Foucheux).

Before they can even interrogate him, men in black and a UFO attack the base. It turns out that the A.S.M.O.D.S. system uses alien technology recovered from the Roswell crash. As the alien soldiers finally catch up to McCall, he’s saved by Anders and the two take off in a stealth fighter. They’re attacked by several F-16s and only survive due to help from the Pentagon. They’re able to convince General Anheiser (John Cook) that aliens are brainwashing soldiers — including Faraday — and that they have to do something about it.

Now, the aliens have unleashed their HARV robot, which has become a totally American monster, preparing to nuke China and Russia off the globe and then destroying everything else. But the general has a gleam in his eyes and two rockets left to save the world.

Invader is a blast, a movie that may be limited in its budget but totally filled with big ideas, like the HARV robot that is filled with rhetoric and madness. The heroes — outside of reporter McCall — are all uniformly capable and devoted to the job even when they face impossible odds and deadly situations. And the effects are really intriguing, especially when you realize that there are no actual planes or helicopters here. These are all miniatures and sure, sometimes you can tell, but I love the look of stop motion over CGI.

Cook would go on to do lots more, especially another low budget, high-concept film Despiser.

You can watch this on Tubi.

ETs Among Us 6: My Cosmic Journey – Revelations of a Psychic CEO (2020)

Canadian CEO/entrepreneur Sebastien Martin is the subject of this 30-minute video in which he explains how he’s had prophetic visions since he was young, even if he tried to ignore it for most of his young adult  years. Then he had a rememberance of his alien past after meeting an Annunaki who told him that he was his brother. So began his self-discovery and in this video, he has an urgent message to give to humanity.

I never heard of the phrase starseed before and this movie opened my mind up to what it means. A starseed is someone like Sebastien, aliens who have been reawakened from another planet to be born here, an idea that some think originated in the 1976 book  Gods of Aquarius. In that book, Brad Steiger somehow went outside of our time to meet with Egyptian goddess Sekmet and learn about the real power in this world.

Starseeds believe that they have special powers, like being able to see ahead in time or heal people, and often travel to other realities and galaxies.

I’ve worked for CEOs that only worked in the middle of the night and who would call you to make you change ads and CEOs that attacked women in elevators when they thought no one was watching, but I have yet to work for a CEO that is a grey, a Nord or a skyfish.

I will not give up hope, however.

This was directed by Cybela Clare, who has made some of the most interesting films that you’re likely to find.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Junesploitation: Ferat Vampire (1982)

June 4: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is Cars! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

The Ferat rally car used in the film wasa prototype for the Škoda 110 Super Sport, which is now known as the Škoda Super Sport Ferat Vampir RSR because of this movie. The car is so famous in Czechoslovakia that Škoda remade it as part of their Icons Get a Makeover series.

This was directed by Juraj Herz, who also made the must-see films Morgiana and The Ninth Heart. He also wrote this with Jan Fleischer. It was based on “Upír Ltd.” by Josef Nesvadba. Another movie based on that writer’s work, Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea, also has the Škoda Super Sport Ferat Vampir RSR in it. That movie is a science fiction film about the Third Reich trying to go back in time to give Hitler a nuke and the twin of the pilot of the time machine — who choked to death on a croissant — trying to stop them.

Dr Marek (Jirí Menzel) loses his driver Mima (Dagmar Havlová) — who he obviously has feelings for — to the Ferat team, which has developed a car that just may be fueled by human plasma through the lead foot of the driver.

The real vampire is the Ferat company, which sucks the blood of all who work for it. Or, well, uses them and throws them away, like any big corporation. The car is also a vampire in a way that may not be about blood. Once driven, it obsesses everyone that has felt its power.

I love that Juraj Herz is the vampire in the silent movie within this film, just as much as how Ferat is taken from Nosferantu and Mimi is very close to Mina Harker.

New York Ninja (2021)

New York Ninja was filmed in New York City in 1984. Don’t worry if you didn’t see it at your mom and pop video store, because its original distribution company 21st Century Distribution Corporation — before Menahem Golan was given the name — went bankrupt. Years later, the footage was acquired by Vinegar Syndrome, except they had no final script, audio or idea of what the movie was about. Thanks to new director — “re-director” — Kurtis M. Spieler, the movie came together, including new dialogue from an amazing cast.

Each film reel — six to eight hours in length — was put together to match what Spieler thought the film was meant to convey at the time. All he had was a shooting script that even mentioned a character named Detective Dolemite, who may have been planned to be played by Rudy Ray Moore. We may never know.

The cast is a literal who’s who of genre cinema:

Don “The Dragon” Wilson is the voice of John Liu, who is also the New York Ninja, and who is also the original director, writer and star of this film. He made three other vanity kung fu movies — Dragon BloodNinja In the Claws of the CIA and Zen Kwan Strikes Paris — that are all worth tracking down and watching.

Michael Berryman is the Plutonium Killer, which is where the majority of this movie’s effects budget went.

Linnea Quigley is Randi Rydell, John’s co-worker and love interest.

The cops on the case, Detective Jimmy Williams and Detective Janet Flores, are voiced by Body and Soul star Leon Isaac Kennedy and martial arts legend Cynthia Rothrock. And yes, that is Ginger Lynn’s voice as John’s wife!

The film starts with John finding out that his wife is pregnant. As he runs to work as part of a news crew, she sees another woman getting abducted. In moments, she’s dead and he’s decided to become a white ninja on rollerskates, keeping New York City safe.

If you thought the gangs in Italian post-apocalyptic movies were wild, well, the ones in New York Ninja challenge even Mexican cinema like La Venganza de Los Punks for how colorful the gang members can get. The Plutonium Killer also likes to expose himself to radiation before assaulting women, which is something I’ve never seen as a plot element before.

There are also people cashing in — kind of like the merchandise sales out of nowhere in Yeti Giant of the 20th Century — with people selling I Love The New York Ninja shirts. And there’s also a gang of precocious ninja kids who show up and save our hero every now and then.

I always wondered if another movie could make me feel as much joy as Miami Connection. This is it.

You can get the 35mm trailer from Vinegar Syndrome, as well as the movie itself on VHS and a comic book.