Scream Queen Hot Tub Party (1991)

Arch Stanton is Jim Wynorski and Bill Carson is Fred Olen Ray and we have entered the place where their at times very similar movies cross into the nexus point between their work. Yes, Scream Queen Hot Tub Party is at once a padded out clip fest — look for Sorority House MassacreSlumber Party MassacreEmanuelle 5Hollywood Chainsaw HookersHard to DieNightmare Sisters and Evil Toons — and an opportunity for Brinke Stevens, Monique Gabrielle, Kelli Maroney, Michelle Bauer and Roxanne Keronhan to play themselves and, well, get naked.

Ray plays a stalker who keeps trying to kill the girls while Wynorski is a monster in the basement. Somehow, Linnea Quigley only shows up in clip form. At least there’s an Ouija board, which is used before the hot tub, which makes sense in the world of 90s VHS movies that didn’t worry about how up front exploitation could be before the internet.

There are a lot of IMDB reviews that state how upset they were with the quality of this film.

I ask what they expected.

Power Pack (1991)

Power Pack — first appeared in 1986 and created by Louise Simonson and June Brigman — is the first team of preteen superheroes in the Marvel Universe that operated without adult supervision. However, unlike many other young heroes, they had supportive parents and weren’t orphans.

The Power kids — Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie — each received their powers from a dying alien, with Alex gaining gravity control, Julie being able to fly, Jack getting mass control and Katie being able to disintegrate objects. The initial run lasted sixty-one issues along with Simonson and Brigman undoing some of the damage other teams did to the book in the Power Pack Holiday Special.

The same year that the comic was canceled, Paragon Entertainment Corporation and New World Television created a Power Pack pilot in the hopes it could be a live-action show for NBC’s Saturday Morning Kids block. They passed but Fox bought the pilot and aired it several times on Fox Kids in 1991.

This short finds the kids getting used to their new home and neighborhood while promising their parents — who unlike the comic know they have powers — that they will be as normal as possible. There’s also a haunted house and the spirit of Dr. Mobius (Greg Swanson, the class president from Terror Train) to deal with.

Alex was played by Nathaniel Moreau from Are You Afraid of the Dark?, while Julie was Margot Finley from Mighty Ducks 3. Jack was Bradley Machry and Katie was Jacelyn Holmes.

Directed by Rick Bennett (who was Juggernaut and Colossus on the animated X-Men series) and written by Jason Brett (who wrote and acted in the movie Checkered Flag, as well as writing episodes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by way of Power Rangers by way of Dragonball Z live-action show Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills), this seems like it would have been a great show for kids if it ever got off the ground.

Power Pack is scheduled to be part of the MCU sometime. It’ll be interesting to see how they fit in.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 27: Darna (1991)

I wrote about Bruka: Queen of Evil, which this movie is related to. For example, one of Darna’s villains is her former friend Valentina, who becomes the snake-haired Serpina. That character inspired Bruka.

But who is Darna?

Darna is a Filipino superheroine created by writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo. It’s tempting, with her costume, to call her a Wonder Woman clone. She’s really a deceased extraterrestrial warrior who uses the body of an Earth woman named Narda to rescue those who can’t fend for themselves.

Fourteen different actresses have played her over 21 movies and TV shows, starting with Rosa del Rosario. The character is so famous that she’s even appeared in several ballet performances.

The 1991 version of the character was directed by Joel Lamangan and written by Frank Rivera. Darna is played by Nanette Medved. The origin is changed here so that Narda is granted a magical stone by an angel that can transform her into Darna. The enemy takes the form of a satanic conspiracy created by philanthropist Domino Lipolico and his henchwomen, the aforementioned snake goddess Valentina and the batwoman Impakta.

Where the world looks at Darna and sees Wonder Woman, you may watch this movie and see a lot of the plot of Superman with Narda leaving her small town to become a big city reporter, glasses as a disguise and all.

Valentina is over the top, which is great, as she’s played by Pilar Pilapil and seems to be a high fashion disco villainess with an anthropomorphic snake named Vibora that must be seen to be believed. As for Impakta (Bing Loyzaga), she uses a teddy bear to lure a child to her doom and kills the kid. Filipino superhero action has no idea how to pull a punch.

In How the World Remade Hollywood, author Ed Glaser suggests something pretty incredible: while in the 70s, 80s and 90s Darna looked to Diana Prince for inspiration, our Wonder Woman started to seemingly look to her Filipino sister for costume advice and finally decided to leave behind the invisible plane and learn how to fly on her own.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Dingo (1991)

John Anderson (Colin Friels) has a passion for jazz, which will find him traveling from the outback Western Australia to the jazz clubs of Paris where he hopes to meet his idol trumpeter Billy Cross (Miles Davis).

Probably the best part of this movie is the opening, as Davis and his band play a set on a remote airstrip in the Australian outback as the locals watch.

This film has some basis in reality, as Australia’s best jazz saxophonist Bernie McGann would often leave his mailman job to practice out in the wild.

Directed by Rolf de Heer (Bad Boy Bubby) and written by Marc Rosenberg, who had worked with de Heer on Encounter at Raven’s Gate, this is one of the last filmed performances of Davis, who also scored the film along with Michel Legrand.

Dingo has been screening at arthouses across America but will be available on digital and DVD as of April 12 from Dark Star Pictures.

KINO LORBER BLU RAY RELEASE: F/X (1986) and F/X 2 (1991)

F/X (1986)

The unsolicited screenplay was written by actor Gregory Fleeman and documentarian Robert T. Megginson and they’d never tried to sell a movie before. When producer Jack Wiener first read it, they told him they saw it as a made-for-TV movie, but he encouraged them to make it into an actual film, which he produced along with Dodi Fayed.

Yes, the same one who died alongside Princess Diana.

Director Robert Mandel (School TiesThe Substitute, the pilot of The X-Files) isn’t an action movie director yet he’s turned the script into a great action film with real heart.

F/X expert Roland “Rollie” Tyler (Bryan Brown) has been hired by the government to fake the murder of mob informant Nicholas DeFranco (Jerry Orbach) so that he isn’t murdered before he testifies against his former crime associates. Edward Mason (Mason Adams), the agent in charge, tasks Tyler with firing the shots at DeFranco, a job for which he’ll be paid $30,000. Yet when he’s picked up after the job, he’s told that they want no loose ends and the agents try to kill him.

He escapes, but everywhere he goes, people close to him die, including his girlfriend Ellen (Diane Venora). Her murder puts Detective Leo McCarthy (Bryan Dennehy) on the case. He’s been after DeFranco for years and wants to put him in jail instead of witness protection.

F/X has the twists and turns that I love in a mystery film. Plus, between Orbach, Dennehy, Brown and Tom Noonan, so many of my favorite actors show up in this movie. The special F/X idea is pretty great, too. You can see posters for Zombi and Fade to Black in Tyler’s studio, plus he mentions working on I Dismember Mama.

F/X 2 (1991)

Richard Franklin came to America to make movies after success in his native Australia with films like FantasmPatrick and Road Games. He made Psycho IICloak and DaggerLink and this movie here before he went back home.

The script was written by Bill Condon, who also wrote Strange Behavior and Strange Invaders before moving on to direct movies like Candyman: Farewell to the FleshChicagoDreamgirls and the final two Twilight films.

Rollie Tyler (Brown) has moved from simply practical effects to building a robot clown named Bluey which is controlled by a telemetry suit. This leads to an amazing fight where both Tyler and his robot are both battling a henchman. But before we get to that, we get to why Tyler is in another adventure.

This time, his girlfriend Kim (Rachel Ticotin, Con Air)’s policeman ex-husband has been assigned to stakeout a killer who has already murdered one model. He asks him to entrap the man so they can get him off the streets, but the cop gets killed and Tyler is the only one with the evidence showing that he was murdered. He calls his old friend Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy) for help.

The real story concerns stolen solid gold medallions that were cast by Michelangelo which show the figures in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Now, Tyler has to use his F/X abiities and Leo his detective skills to get those coins back to the Vatican while avoiding the killers on their trail.

While not as good as the first, the team of Brown and Dennehy is a winning one. Both F/X and F/X 2 aired often on cable when I was young, so they’re comfort food to enjoy whenever I need them thanks to their blu ray release.

The Kino Lorber blu ray release of F/X and F/X 2 has an on-camera interview with F/X director Robert Mandel and making of features and trailers for both movies. You can get it directly from Kino Lorber.

MONDO MACABRO BLU RAY RELEASE: Hiruko the Goblin (1991)

Shinya Tsukamoto made this after Tetsuo and instead of the monochromatic cyrber punk madness of that movie, he’s somehow taken a manga by Daijiro Morohoshi and made a movie that is at once horrifying and charming, as if Spielberg wanted to make a Fulci movie and decided that it should be as cartoony as possible while having nightmare fuel embedded insie every frame.

Archaelogist Reijiro Hieda (Kenji Sawada, the only Japanese person other than Yoko Ono to be on the cover of Rolling Stone) has some out there supernatural ideas that get him almost disbarred. Yet his brother-in-law Takashi Yabe (Naoto Takenaka) has discovered an ancient tomb built to seal in a yokai behind the school that he teaches at, but has disappeared along with a student named Reiko Tsukishima (Megumi Ueno).

Tabe’s son Masao (Masaki Kudou) is searching for his father when he sees Reiko at the school, but several people he knows get murdered and each of their faces appear on his back as smoke rises off it. The culprit? Her singing head, floating around the building.

Yeah, Hiruko the Goblin has just started and it’s already beyond wild.

It turns out the Masao’s grandfather had the same faces on his body sixty years ago and he had promised to keep the school sealed, as it contains a demon named Hiruko, who has turned all of her victims into spiders with human heads that chase our heroes through a system of caves as monstrous mouths come out of the ground and scream for them.

Monster hunting homemade technology, fighting demons with bug spray, demons that crawl on the floor and come shooting at your throat, incantations and rituals, plus slapstick? Man, they don’t make movies like this ever. Get this now — it’s really and truly unique and wonderful.

The Mondo Macabro release of Hiruko the Goblin has a 1080p presentation of a 2K restoration from the original camera negative, plus a new and old interview with Tsukamoto, an intro to the film by the director and videos on the special effects, a trailer and an audio commentary by Tsukamoto expert Tom Mes. You can get it from Mondo Macabro.

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Madame Bovary (1991)

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary has been made numerous times, as early as Albert Ray’s 1932 film Unholy Love to Jean Renoir, Gerhard Lamprecht and Vincente Minnelli making their own versions. There are three BBC series — in 1964, 1975 and 2000, as well as Hans Schott-Schobinger’s 1969 version (starring Edwige Fenech!), Alexandr Sokurov’s Save and Protect, the Hindu film Maya Memsaab, Sophia Barthe’s Madame Bovary and even David Lean’s loose adaption, Ryan’s Daughter.

Emma (Isabelle Huppert) faced a single life on her father’s farm until he sets her up with Dr. Charles Bovary (Jean-François Balmer), yet he bores her. And even moving to the city does nothing for her interest in him and everything for her interest in others, like Léon (Lucas Belvaux), a court reporter who can discuss all of the culture that she adores as well as giving her the physical love that she needs. Yet he’s soon gone and she moves on to other men, like the wealthy Rodolphe Boulanger (Christophe Malavoy), but when he leaves her after four years, she finds her way back into Leon’s arms.

However, to court him again, it takes money. So she secretly uses her husband’s cash — and a secret deal with shop keeper Lheureux (Jean-Louis Maury) — to pay for clothing, a hotel and gifts. Their home is seized and sold and even the lawyer who should be helping her only wants her for sex. So — spoiler warning for a book written in the 1850s — she takes poison and dies a long and agonizing death, followed by her husband dying from grief and their daughter being sold into factory work.

So you know, basically a heartwarming film that’ll brighten any day.

Arrow Video’s Lies And Deceit: Five Films By Claude Chabrol collected five high definitions (1080p) blu ray versions of Cop Au Vin and Inspector Lavardin to Madame Bovary, Betty and Torment. Each movie has an introduction by film scholar Joël Magny and select scene commentaries by Chabrol. Additionally, there’s an 80-page collector’s booklet of new writing by film critics Martyn Conterio, Kat Ellinger, Philip Kemp and Sam Wigley, trailers and image galleries for each movie and limited edition packaging with newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella.

Madame Bovary has new commentary by critic Kat Ellinger and Imagining Emma: Madame Bovary On Screen, a new visual essay by film historian Pamela Hutchinson.

You can order this set from MVD.

Fuck the Devil 2 : Return of the Fucker (1991)

Michael Pollklesener is the man — well, maybe kid — who made all of this and played the Fucker, who didn’t survive his first movie, Fuck the Devil, because a VHS tape of Evil Dead II chopped his head off. But this time, a tape of A Nightmare on Elm Street has brought him back to life, thrown an Evil Dead shirt on his decayed body, a rubber mask on his face and acid washed jeans on his bod and sent him out to become invisible, make people puke and kill, baby, kill.

Just imagine: at some point in Germany, someone got a camcorder and said, “Ich möchte einen Slasher-Film machen” and just did it. There’s no deep meaning, just blood and gristle and vomit and chunky stuff and bathtub murder. It also has it’s own theme song when the Casio on demo mode runs out of bossa nova beats.

Is it any worse than the direct to streaming stuff that litters Amazon Prime? At least someone cared when they made it.

You can watch this on YouTube.

The Guyver (1991)

How weird was it when The Guyver just randomly showed up in my local video store, unannounced, bringing Japan weirdness into my 19-year-old movie rental obsession life?

When Dr. Tetsu Segawa steals the Guyver unit from the villainous company he’s been working for, his daughter’s boyfriend Sean accidentally finds it, puts it in his backpack and has it fuse with his body after he’s attacked by a street gang. That makes him a marked man by Fulton Balcus (David Gale) and his gang of Zoanoid mutants, which includes Lisker (Michael Berryman), M.C. Striker (Jimmie Walker) and Weber (Spice Williams-Crosby).

Directed by Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang, this movie has some of the wildest effects I’ve ever seen, full body suits that still look great thirty years after I first watched this. I’m also still surprised that Mark Hamill is in this, while not as surprised that Jeffrey Combs and Linnea Quigley are in this.

Based loosely on the Yoshiki Takaya manga, this takes a lot of liberties with its inspiration, but for someone in the very landlocked small Western Pennsylvania town that I grew up in, finding this on the shelves of Prime Time Video was like some kind of magic, bringing something I thought I would never see to a place that I thought I would never get out of.

Kekko Kamen (1991)

Mayumi Takahashi attends Sparta Academy, a boarding school run by maniacs led by the masked Toenail of Satan who are looking for ways to torture or humiliate the students. The students’ only protection is from the nude superheroine, Kekko Kamen, who wears no clothes and uses her, well, lady parts to stun men into submission. Well, she does wear some clothes — red boots, gloves, scarf and a mask with long bunny-like ears — and her finishing move that she uses to defeat villains is  Her a flying headscissors takedown which presses her groin into the victim’s face called the Oppiroge Jump.

Look, it was 54 minutes of my time and allows to talk to you about just how strange Shōnen Jump is, a Japanse manga comic that has introduced everything from My Hero AcademiaOne PieceNaruto and Dragon Ball to KinnkumanFist of the North Star and, well, Kekko Kamen, which was introduced in the monthly version of the magazine. It was created by Go Nagai, who created Mazinger ZDevilmanViolence Jack and Cutie Honey. The influence of these comics, created in Japan, made their way all over the world.

So yes, the same man who created a Shogun Warrior also invented a totally nude superheroine who uses her body to stop men from mistreating women by subverting their male gaze while also being part of manga, anime and movies that completely reward the male gaze, yet has a heroine that uses the forbidden in Japan power of the female pubic hair and its mystery to end evil.

Forever stay weird Japan.