ARROW VIDEO SHAW SCOPE VOLUME 2 BOX SET: Disciples of the 36th Chamber (1985)

Also known as Disciples of the Master Killer or Master Killer III, this is the third film in a loose trilogy of movies that began with The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Like those movies, this was written, directed and choreographed Lau Kar-leung.

Hsiao Ho (Mad Monkey Kung FuLegendary Weapons of China) takes on the role of another legendary hero of the martial arts, Fong Sai-Yuk. He’s a troublemaker and keeps running into trouble with the Manchu warlords. To save his family’s honor, his mother asks San Te (Gordon Liu) to allow her son to study in the 36th chamber, the place where non-monks may train. However, Sai-Yuk’s pride and lack of respect make quite a headache for the monks.

Sai-Yuk keeps going into town at night, which is forbidden and becomes friends with the Manchu. They are using him to get the secrets of the Shaolin, so that they may destroy the temple. The film closes with Sai-Yuk poisoned and all of the monks trapped inside the Manchu fortress for what they believed was a wedding. The battle that closes the film is absolutely astounding, with every art show in the film paying off in a final battle that is as much about the Shaolin’s refusal to hurt anyone and help one another as it is combat. Nearly every cast member is involved in a gigantic battle that simply must be experienced.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Eternal Evil (1985)

Hungarian-born Canadian director George Mihalka is probably better known for My Bloody Valentine than this movie, which also has the title The Blue Man.

Paul Sharpe (Winston Rekert) is a TV producer who meets the mysterious Amelia Lambro (Karen Black and wow, what a mysterious woman to meet) who teaches him how to astral project. The only problem is that when he does that, horrible things happen to other people, like his therapist, whose bones and organs are crushed by psychic power.

Meanwhile, Helen (Joanne Cole) is somehow able to convert Paul’s business partner from homosexuality to heterosexuality because she too is an eternal blue-formed ghost being and her centuries-long partner is Amelia, also known as Janus, and they exist beyond simple things like gender identity and sexual preference. The entire goal has been to destroy Paul’s life by having him kill his therapist, his father-in-law and wife through the powers shown to him so that Janus can take over his body.

Writer Robert Geoffrion also was the man who wrote the equally strange The Surrogate. This one is just as daffy and I say that in the nicest way possible.

Tales from the Darkside episode 22: The False Prophet

We’ve come to the end of season one of Tales from the Dark Side but before we close out, we have The False Prophet, a really odd episode all about Cassie Pines (Ronee Blakley, Barbara Jean in Nashville and Nancy’s mom from A Nightmare on Elm Street). Cassie has followed the advice of Madame X, a fortune telling machine, all the way from Iowa to Texas looking for her true love.

What she finds is not just a man named Heat (Justin Deas), but Horace X, another automatic fortune teller that just might be her quarter-operated lover.

Directed by Gerald Cotts (who did four episodes of this show and three episodes of Monsters) and written by Julie Selbo with the story credit to Larry Fulton, this is just a weird one, stuck inside one closed down bus station in the middle of nowhere yet packed with some off-putting menace. It doesn’t get silly or preachy, unlike so many episodes, and is content with just being odd. Well done.

What’s next after season one of Tales from the Dark Side? You’re going to have to come back next week and find out.

Tales from the Darkside episode 22: Grandma’s Last Wish

When she’s given one last wish before moving into the Tranquil Gardens retirement home, Grandma (Jane Connell, Hepzibah from Bewitched) makes sure that her son Frank (Paul Avery), daughter-in-law May (Kate McGregor-Stewart) and granddaughter Greta (Kelly Wolf) all discover just what a drag it is to get old.

Directed by Warren Shook (who acted in Dawn of the DeadCreepshow and Knightriders and directed three episodes of this series and two of Monsters) and written by Jule Selbo, who went on to work on Young Indiana Jones and several Disney direct to video sequels, this is yet another message and comedy episode of the series. It’s not bad but not the greatest either, as it’s packed with unfunny humor, a message that gets hammered home and so much overacting.

Tales from the Darkside episode 21: Bigalow’s Last Smoke

Frank Bigalow (Richard Romanus) is trapped inside an apartment where he’s tortured every time he tries to smoke with only a hole in the wall where he can talk to a fellow smoker. If it makes you remember Cat’s Eye and James Woods trying to quit, well, everyone was trying to stop smoking in 1985.

Director Timna Ramon made two other episodes of this show, “Mookie and Pookie” and “Dream Girl.” The story for this comes from Kenneth Wayne Hanis, who was the construction supervisor for the show, and Craig Mitchell, with the script being written by Michael McDowell, who went on to write Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The house in this is crazy as lights and sirens go off with each puff. I don’t know how this makes you quit. It seems like it makes you lose your mind.

Tales from the Darkside episode 20: It All Comes Out in the Wash

Carl Gropper (Vince Edwards) wants to pay Chinese laundry man Chow Ting (James Hong) to wash away all his sins. It’s funny, because one of the commercials that George Romero and his crew worked on was the “ancient Chinese secret” ad for Calgon.

It’s a pretty simple concept: you really can’t wash away your guilt. It’s another morality episode instead of a horror one, which is better than the comedy episodes.

Frank De Palma directed eight episodes of this show and edited six, while writer Harvey Jacobs would write five scripts for this and two for Monsters, which is pretty much the same show with a less frightening open and close.

Tales from the Darkside episode 19: Levitation

Frank (Brad Cowgill) and Arnie (Anthony Tomkins) have traveled for hours to see Kharma (Joe Turkel, Lloyd from The Shining) perform. Frank had heard that Kharma could do the kind of magic that only Houdini was able to conjure, yet he learns that the magician just does the simplest of magic. His assistant Flora (Cynthia Frost) explains that he’s exhausted but Frank gets past her and asks why Kharma no longer does his levitation trick. He tries to explain how dangerous it is, but Frank isn’t satisfied. He starts to heckle every time Kharma tries to perform until he’s called on stage to be part of it. He should have perhaps not pushed an occultist so far.

Directed by John Harrison, who directed eight episodes of this series and the movie, as well as music for EffectsCreepshow and Day of the Dead, this was written by David Gerrold (who also wrote the “If the Shoes Fit…” episode) from a story by Jospeh Payne Brennan.

It’s one of the best episodes of the show, setting up the idea, creating a great story out of it and even better, having a dark payoff. If someone asked me for an episode of the show they should watch, this would be it.

Jiang tou (1985)

In 1974, Shaw Brothers worked with Hammer to make The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. That ignited a desire to not only make martial arts films, but supernatural ones. And man, as the studio goes on, these movies grow more deranged in the very best of ways.

Ho Meng-Hua (The Mighty Peking ManOily Maniac) directed this and it only hints at how far Hong Kong horror would go. Lang Chia Chieh (Lo Lieh) wants to be with Mrs. Zhou (Tanny Tien Ni), but she’s in love with Xu Nuo (Ti Lung) who only wants to be with the love of his life, Wang Chu Ying (Lili Li Li-li). In order to win her, Lang Chia Chieh goes to magician Shan Chen Mi (Ku Feng) and has him cast a spell on Mrs. Zhou. It works, if just for a night, and she soon learns that she too can turn to the spirit world to win over the lover that she wants.

These magic spells are incredibly organic and gross. Like, you need to cut off someone’s finger and leave it under your intended person’s bed until it turns into a pile of maggots. Or to kill someone, you put worms directly under their skin.

There’s a lot of soap opera in this but every time you think it’s getting slow, someone gets half naked or makes a possessed rice ball with blood and breast milk, so you can never say it’s bad. It’s just the first course for how completely out there these movies will get.

Tales from the Darkside episode 17: Madness Room

Directed by John Hayes (the director of Dream No EvilGrave of the Vampire and Jailbait Babysitter!) and written by Thomas Epperson, this episode of Tales from the Darkside has Edward Osborne (Stuart Whitman!) and his much younger wife Cathy (Therese Pare, who was the lead in Hayes’ previously mentioned Jailbait Babysitter) — along with employee and his wife’s secret lover Michael Fox (Nick Benedict) — discovering that there is a secret room within home thanks to the use of a spirit board.

They begin speaking to Ben, the last owner of the house and now a ghost, who relates that the Madness Room hidden inside the house, but with a name like that and also the fact that it’s a room filled with hanging dolls that looks straight out of a giallo, nothing good can come of this. Sure, it’s a scheme by the two secret adulterers to give the weak-hearted Edward a cardiac overload, but when this has one more than one twist in its short running time.

After a few weeks of unfunny and not frightening episodes, the simple Ouija and haunted house elements in this, handled by a more than competent director, show just how good this show can be.

Want more Ouija info? Here’s an entire article on spirit boards in movies.

Si Buta dari Gua Hantu (1985)

I watched Blind Warrior because the poster art is ripped off from The House by the Cemetery and that act of theft is perfect, because this is an Indonesian martial arts movie and that’s an Italian gore epic and that seems like worlds apart yet united.

Based on the comic book by Ganes TH, this same story has been filmed several times. There’s the 1970 movie The Blind from the Cave of Ghosts, 1972’s Mystery at Borobudur, 1977’s Lost Heaven, 1988’s Rise of the Angel Eyes, 1990’s Valley of Death, TV series that were made in 1993, 2003, 2012 and 2020.

Raden Parna, a rich and ruthless man, has forced Sarimbi by force to be his wife. Barda Mandrawata, The Blind Man from the Ghost Cave, passes through Raden’s village and gets involved, but Raden places him into Earth Underbelly Hell, a place from which no one can escape. Yet as Darimbi’s sister gathers other warriors and gods to help her, he walks out of hell and wipes out Raden and all of his followers.

Only through cutting people’s heads off can we find peace seems to be the moral of this story, but I also took a whole bunch of edibles and watched this at 4 AM on a Saturday night. I don’t want to advocate drug use to impressionable readers, but I have to tell you, feeling extreme euphoric bliss and the physical elation of floating while watching blind warriors straight up decimate people is something kind of like a religious mania. Now I know why that warning label was on the package: Clear your schedule because ingesting edible cannabis has long-lasting effects.

I might still be watching this movie.

You can watch this on YouTube.