A direct sequel to Ultraman Tiga, the 13th entry in the Ultraman series finds a new team known as Super GUTS terraforming Mars in the far-future of 2017. Wait a minute…
As the Neo Frontier moves forward and Earth begins colonizing new planets, the Spheres begin to attack and as they land on those planets, they combine with rocks to form new monsters. Luckily, Shin Asuka survives his ship being destroyed by this enemy and joins with a beam of light to form Ultraman Dyna.
This set includes all 51 episodes of the show — including the very dark close — as well as two movies, Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna: Warriors of the Star of Light and Ultraman Dyna: Return of Henejiro.
Dyna also appears in Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna & Ultraman Gaia: Battle in Hyperspace, Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy (which resolves the end of this series and shows that Dyna survived) and he’s also the man Ultra in Ultraman Saga. He also makes appearances in Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers, Ultraman Ginga S: Showdown! Ultra 10 Warriors!! and Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga.
This series looks gorgeous, as you can tell there was a pretty decent budget behind it. The move to Mars is interesting and while Dyna is mistaken for Tiga several times, that gets resolved before its all over. And the monsters are awesome!
Patricia (Carla Solaro, Snuff Killer) is a small town girl who makes the big time, getting to be the newest star on a prime time show called The Voice of the Heart and moving to Los Angeles, falling for the man who makes her famous, the callous Mike (Robert Madison, the son of cowboy star Guy Madison).
This is totally a soap opera but a Joe D’Amato one (he directed, wrote and shot this as Fred Slonisko) and what’s off is that somehow Carla Solaro had a body double which seems ridiculous for someone starring in one of Joe’s movies but life is full of magic isn’t it?
I’m looking through other reviews of this movie and people are tearing it apart and I’m thinking, hey, this is a 1997 Joe D’Amato softcore movie and there’s a scene where the evil old guy gets to sleep with the heroine and I’m thinking the old dude is way too buff for his age and good for him. That should tell you the level of storytelling here in that I’m thinking about that.
Also, Mike is a mass media expert and I’ve been in marketing for too long and I’ve never met one of those. I think I’ve been living my life wrong. I mean, I know I am, I just watched sixty Joe D’Amato movies in one week.
But hey, Top Girl is no Top Model. I think we can all admit that.
When an ex-model named Emy (Cinzia Roccaforte) is left alone by her husband (Jason Saucier, who ends up in a lot of late D’Amato movies like Top Model and The Crawlers, as well as Lenzi’s Hitcher in the Dark), she decides to make a cocktail and watch Antropophagus because, look, this movie is based in the reality of a Joe D’Amato movie where gorgeous women wear incredibly expensive lingeries while watching George Eastman eat people.
That’s when Roy (David D’Ingeo, who is also in the scummiest giallo there may be, Angel: Black Angel, and Argento’s Phantom of the Opera) comes in and kidnaps her at gunpoint.
Of course, beyond also kidnapping her sister Francesca, he also decides to take advantage of our heroine, but this is an Italian movie and she’s going to end up falling for the guy because, look, you don’t watch D’Amato movies and think, “How progressive.*”
So anyways — Roy needs fifty thousand for Emy and her sister, but the banks are closed for the weekend, and a housekeeper just got shot in the head, and then they decide to throw a party for reasons that I can’t figure out other than it allows Roy to sleep with Emy’s friend Dana, as all adult films demand multiple couplings even if they are softcore. And oh yes, Roy has the same lover as Emy’s husband, the mysterious Angela (Lisa Comshaw, who was in two hundred plus movies, most of them in the BDSM space) and also her sister has been stalking everyone and taking photos.
This movie is absolutely crazy because yeah, it’s shot incredibly cheaply and came about in the midst of the 1994 to death period where D’Amato made hundreds of adult films, yet it has so many strange moments that you can’t help but shake your head and admire it. I mean, at one point Roy climbs a ladder and starts making out with a statue. And things just happen at the most laconic pace when things aren’t getting progressively more nihilistic, because as always, D’Amato equally serves out lovemaking with loss of life.
Five people wrote this movie.
Five of them.
Remo Angioli: Using the name Harry J. Ball, which at least made me laugh. He also produced Nude for Satan and wrote and directed Fatal Temptation and Intimacy.
Andrea Angioli: Using the name Dennis J. Ball and also the Italian distributor for Can I Do It ‘Till I Need Glasses?
David D’Ingeo: The actor mentioned above, so perhaps that scene with the statue was all his writing.
Rosanna Coggiola: I guess it helps to have a woman’s point of view. She also wrote Pazzo d’amore and Vacanze Sulla Neve with Daniele Stroppa, another writer often inthe orbit of D’Amato.
Mark Thompson-Ashworth: The dialogue coach, film subtitler, dubber and screenplay translator/adapter who presented a 2002 D’Amato film festival.
It doesn’t look all that great, but for some reason, D’Amato’s soft core films put me in the same druggy haze that I get from murderdrone movies. It’s like when scientists stimulated the pineal gland with the Resonator in From Beyond. Here’s hoping that a snake doesn’t push its way out of my skull.
*That’s not entirely true. There are moments in his films where women show true agency and destroy the men who are hurting them. But generally, these movies live up to the Sam Spade quote, “When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. A member of the Society of Authors, she currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure is a magnificent film. A film so layered with meaning I wrote my MA dissertation in part on its elemental symbolism. Ordinary upstanding Tokyo citizens are committing random acts of murder. The only connection between each case is that all the victims have an “X” carved into them. Each killer admits to their crime but remembers nothing with regard to motive.
Detective Takabe (played by Koji Yakusho), who spends most of his time caring for his mentally ill wife (Anna Nakagawa) becomes obsessed with solving a recent outbreak of murders committed by seemingly upstanding citizens who have each carved an “X” into the necks of their victims. Bizarrely, none of the perpetrators have denied responsibility and were all very calm during the act, although they cannot recall what triggered them to kill.
It turns out that a trigger is exactly what caused them to kill. A young man named Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara) is arrested near the scene of the latest murder and the police soon discover he is employing hypnotic suggestion to manipulate people to kill.
Takabe’s friend, the Psychiatrist, Dr. Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki) tells Takabe that it is only possible for such a thing to transpire if the person already possesses the capacity deep within themselves. This appears to be the dominant theme that Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa wanted to explore.
Mamiya is a student of Psychology and, in particular, the works of 19th Century hypnotist cum occultist “Mesmer.” After years of sequestered study and animal experimentation, Mamiya has finally unraveled the secret of Mesmer. Every time Mamiya hypnotizes someone using either earth, air, fire or water, he asks them, “Who are you?” He’s like the ultimate therapist forcing people to touch the suppressed part of their psyche in order to “cure” them. The result is the breakdown of society as apparently there are many people who possess the natural predilection to kill. Is Kurosawa saying that repression is a good thing? Perhaps. That’s what makes Cure a modern masterpiece. It forces the viewer to think on a level much deeper than the run-of-the-mill thriller. That most of the hypnotic triggers involve the natural elements of fire or water is another rich detail designed to illustrate the true nature of humankind.
When Takabe is finally allowed to be alone with Mamiya the two bond in a strange sort of way. It’s clear that Mamiya has used his hypnotic abilities on Takabe, but instead of making him kill, Mamiya chooses for him a purpose to be revealed only in the final scene of the film. Why does he choose Takabe? Is it because Mrs. Takabe suffers from an ailment similar to Mamiya’s? Maybe. It’s more likely because Takabe reacts to him differently. When Mamiya first asks “Who are you?” Takabe doesn’t shut down in a veil of denial like all the others before him. Instead, he opens up to the psychopath and admits that his wife is a burden and his life full of frustration and the paths of the two men become parallel.
In the meantime, Dr. Sakuma has discovered a videotape which contains very old footage of a woman being hypnotized by an unknown (seeing a pattern here?) man who makes the sign of the “X” to her. Is it Mesmer or one of his disciples? Yet another question to ponder long after the credits are over. There are a lot of those in Cure.
The fates of Dr. Sakuma, Detective Takabe and the mysterious Mr. Mamiya are all best left revealed by the film, suffice it to say, they all discover their true selves and are “cured.”
Aside from all the wonderful elements touched on here, there’s also a lot of good acting, great visuals, and an incredibly creepy soundtrack. It’s a good entry for newbies into Kyoshi Kurasawa’s oeuvre, which goes off into even weirder and wonderful territory with films like Bright Future and the award-winning Tokyo Sonata, which also both feature the wonderful Koji Yakusho.
And yeah, I know, I’m a beyond confirmed hater of Scream, but for some reason, I tend to like the movies that come after it, like the Urban Legend series. And this fits right in, even if it was made concurrently with Wes Craven’s execrable film.
It starts with the story of the Hook, which has been used in a multitude of movies (it shows up in everything from Meatballsand He Knows You’re Alone to Lovers Lane and Final Exam, but its message of teenage sex equals death is pretty much the engine that powers every slasher ever made). James Marsden and Amy Smart are in this opening, which is something that you’ll notice about Campfire Tales: it’s packed with talent that would have great careers after it was made.
This leads us to the connective story which is — did you guess? — a campfire tale, as Cliff (Jay R. Ferguson, who is now on The Conners) wrecks a van on the way home from a concert, leading his friends Lauren (Christine Taylor, who is probably best known from the Brady Bunch movies), Eric (Christopher Masterson, Malcolm in the Middle) and Alex (Kim Murphy, Houseguest) to light a fire until help passes by. They start telling the stories that form the rest of the movie.
“The Honeymoon” has Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Jennifer Macdonald as a married couple being stalked on their RV wedding vacation. “People Can Lick Too,” which is one of my favorite urban legends, updating it (well, in 1997) to have internet chat rooms. The final story, “The Locket,” is less friend of a friend story and more time travel slasher, with another Roseanne-related actor (the late Glenn Quinn, who was Mark) romancing a mute woman (The Real World star Jacinda Barrett, who is also in Urban Legends: Final Cut) and being chased by her ax-carrying monster of a father.
The film ends dark Wizard of Oz style, as everyone except for Cliff disappears as paramedics attempt to save him. As the camera pulls away from the accident, everyone from the stories plays the roles of the emergency crews and, you guessed it, a hook is on the door of the car, the real cause of the crash.
Campfire Tales was the passion project of writer and co-director Martin Kunert (who would make the MTV horror anthology series Fear) and producer Eric Manes (who wrote and produced 3000 Miles to Graceland; he also produced Phat Beach in case you cared). In fact, this was originally called either Fear or All American Campfire Horror Stories.
The other directors of segments include Matt Cooper and David Semel, whose career has mainly been in TV (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Watchmen, Heroes).
Released by New Line Cinema in 1997, this movie inspired the Bollywood film Darna Mana Hai and while it’s been released on DVD, it’s never made the leap to blu ray.
In her article ‘Excuse Me, Who Are You?’: Performance, the Gaze, and the Female in the Works of Kon Satoshi,” Professor Susan Napier says that Perfect Blue “…announces its preoccupation with perception, identity, voyeurism, and performance – especially in relation to the female – right from its opening sequence. The perception of reality cannot be trusted, with the visual set up only to not be reality, especially as the psychodrama heights towards the climax.”
In effect, this Japanese animated film is a giallo, despite coming twenty years after that genre had its best efforts and being made 6,000 miles away.
Mima Kirigoe has left the J-pop group CHAM! to become an actress on a detective show called Double Bind. Many of her fans are upset that she’s left behind the innocent character that she had portrayed for a more adult role and some of her fanbase are not the young girls who traditionally love this style of music; Mima’s fans are dangerous stalkers that send mail bombs and create websites that don’t just describe her daily life but somehow her thoughts in way too knowing detail.
As Mima’s part in the show grows — including a graphic scene of assault that will destroy her clean image forever — she becomes increasingly disconnected from reality, obsessed with the website of her life and even seeing her past self.
And then everyone close to her starts dying and the evidence points to Mima.
Through it all, our heroine finishes the show and learns that her character has killed and assumed the identity of her beloved sister because of dissociative identity disorder. As the crew leaves, one of her stalks attempts to make the assault scene real under orders from the real Mima.
So who is the real Mima? Does innocence have to be lost for us to move beyond our past? And how many times did Darren Aronofsky watch this? Not only did he take a scene directly out of it for Requiem for a Dream, he had to admit that there are similarities in his movie Black Swan.
The later DVD reissues of this love letter to the college rock era proclaim the film as “This Is Spinal Tap meets The Commitments” on the box copy. However, I feel a more accurate pitch to inspire your viewing is “Kevin Smith’s Clerks meets Singles.”
I’d pair this delightful (and accurate) indie comedy about the trials and tribulations of musicians alongside its college radio chronicle counterpart, A Matter of Degrees (1990), long before double-featuring it with the faux-band tomfoolery of This is Spinal Tap. In fact, Bandwagon plays better as a two-fer with Steve Buscemi’s feature film writing/directing debut Trees Lounge, as both films carry that same looser-with-hopes vibe — only Buscemi’s flick didn’t have a rock band in it (but did give us a great, college-rock title cut theme song by Hayden).
When it come to films encapsulating the Athens, Georgia, to Chapel Hill (and Raleigh-Durham), North Carolina ’80s college rock scene — spreadheaded by that scenes “Nirvana” in R.E.M — no film does it better than this debut feature film writing and directing debut by John Schultz, the original drummer for Raleigh, North Carolina’s the Connells (he left the band prior to their debut recording to pursue film).
If you had a college rock or community/non-commercial radio station (that supported indies and local music) in your area, or if you stayed up late on Sunday nights to watch MTV’s alt-rock programming block 120 Minutes, or perhaps you picked up copies of Alternative Press, Option, or B-Side magazines instead of the faux, non-commercial ramblings of Spin, you come to know the Connells melodic Elvis Costello-cum-the Smiths sounds with their underground hits “Hats Off” and “Seven” from their well-received debut album Darker Days (1985), and “Scotty’s Lament” from their sophomore effort Boyland Heights (1987). Both albums should have taken the Connells to the commercial heights of their contemporaries, R.E.M — but did not.
Instead, the Connells settled into a comfortable, college-rock star status with their albums Fun & Games (1989), which produced the modern rock hit “Something to Say,” and One Simple Word (1990), which produced the Billboard hits “Stone Cold Yesterday” and “Get A Gun.” Their fifth album, Ring (1993), while still not finding any headway on commercial U.S. radio stations (even in the “Rock Alternative” craze flipping hair-metal oriented AOR stations at a dizzying rate), none the less expanded the Connells audience to Europe, where the album and its related singles, “74-75,” and the should-have-been-the-hit-that-broke-them-in-America (on the level of Cracker with “Low”), “Slackjawed,” charted in several Euro-counties. Not even a national television appearance with “Slackjawed” on NBC-TV’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien (it didn’t work for John Doe* on David Letterman’s show, either) could breach the commercial inroads afforded to the drek spewed by the likes of the Crash Test Dummies and the Spin Doctors.
The film’s connection to the Connells, by way of the band’s ex-drummer John Schultz, continues with the band’s lead singer Doug MacMillan starring as the legendary band manager Linus Tate, who takes the film’s scruffier, ersatz-Connells of the film, Circus Monkey, under his wings to college rock stardom.
Courtesy of John Schultz writing what he knows (a lesson that many first time screenwriter-directors fail to realize; keep it intimate) for his first feature film, Bandwagon displays a well-honed grace against its low budget, a skill that Schultz developed while creating feature documentaries for Steven Spielberg’s Hook and Jurassic Park. If you enjoyed Kevin Smith’s grungy, Gen-X debut, Clerks (released two years earlier in 1994; both the film and its soundtrack), then there’s something here in this North Carolina-shot musical chronicle for you to enjoy.
Courtesy of his connections working on those documents, and Bandwagon being well-received at Sundance, Schultz came to direct two major studio projects that you may have come across on cable or plucked off your local video store shelves: the Melissa Joan Hart-starring Drive Me Crazy (1999) and the basketball comedy Like Mike (2002) starring Lil Bow Wow. His most recent features (his 9th and 10th) were the Netflix-backed A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding and The Royal Baby (2018/2019). His sophomore screenwriting credit to Bandwagon was the comedy When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (2003) (from the days when the kid from Jerry Maguire was a “thing” set to be the next Macaulay Culkin).
In an interview with The Boston Globe (the city was a major college radio hub/market at the time), John Schultz said, “On the shoot, we (as with most of the crew, as himself, it was their first-ever film) didn’t really realize what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong [during their six-weeks shoot in 1993 in Raleigh, North Carolina] and a lot of the problems we found in the editing room.”
Musician Greg Kendall, hired to write the songs for the faux Circus Monkey, met Schultz through their mutual friend, Doug MacMillan. “They were to have good songs,” Kendall told The Boston Globe‘s Jim Sullivan, “but they had to be believable. They couldn’t be too stupid and they couldn’t be too ornate.” Schultz, Kendall explained, supplied the titles to the songs and Kendall wrote and sang them. The songs were recorded at the world famous (well, at least in college rock circles) Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts (know you Dinosaur, Jr. history). In addition to the film’s eight songs, Kendall also scored the film. “There’s nothing ‘MTV’ about it [the film]. It’s naive, some would say to a fault. I would say it’s a strength,” explained Kendall.
You just gotta love humble musicians and filmmakers who know their strengths and weaknesses, and are truthful in their quest do their best to create their art.
As far as the original tunes go: If you enjoy the Connells, or the lighter, less fuzzy-distorted side of Dinosaur, Jr., and the poppier-sloppy sounds of the Replacements, with a dash of Uncle Tupelo/Wilco, you’ll enjoy the tunes crafted by Kendall. For me, “It Couldn’t Be Ann” is a real stunner (the link takes you to the video single of the tune that features scenes from the film). Sadly, the official soundtrack was an elusive one to track down . . . so, yeah, this was one of those patch the VCR into the cassette deck movies to get the songs for your car, type of films.
The band Circus Monkey comes together as three slacking Raleigh musicians — Eric (Steve Parlavecchio), a jock bassist; Wynn, a drug-addicted guitarist (the always great Kevin Corrigan; Ray Liotta’s brother in Goodfellas); and the always-babbling drummer, Charlie (Matthew Hennessey) — deal with their own issues of friendship and relationships and career frustrations on the local indie scene. The label signing of the rival “frat-band” Spittle (think Pearl Jam’s “fake grunge” vs. Nirvana’s righteousness) instills a resolve for our ne’er-do-well six-string slingers to get their you-know-whats together and net a record deal . . . if only they could win Rival Records’ upcoming Battle of the Bands talent showcase . . . and not become a Faustian record company victim . . . and end up like the bane of their existence, that is their rivals, Spittle.
The only problem: none of them can write a decent song. So they recruit Tony (a really fine Lee Holmes), a shy, neurotic garage mechanic whose songs — perpetually about a girl named “Ann” — never leave his makeshift studio in the back of said garage. And when Tony is finally coaxed out of the garage and onto the stage — he stands in the corner with his back to the audience . . . if only the elusive Ann (who no one believes is real) would turned up at a show and notice him. . . .
Is the script a bit uneven, punctuated with some directorial missteps and a wee-bit of thespian weakness? Sure. But, again, John Schultz lived the life and he expertly encapsulates the romanticism for his college-home town roots.
As we discussed in our “Drive-In Friday: First Time Directors & Actors Night” featurette**, not every celluloid neophyte is hitting a Quentino Tarantino over the 410 at PNC Park, or infield-homering a Boondock Saints. But make no mistake: John Schultz is no Tommy Wiseau and Bandwagon is no The Room. Unlike Matty Rich, who wowed us with his heartfelt simplicity in his debut Straight Out of Brooklyn, only to scuttle his career Troy Duffy-style, Schultz, gave us an admitted strained, but technically adept film that, like Alex Kendrick before him with his first film, Flywheel, came not from a quest for fame, but to express his soul though a lens instead of behind a drum kit.
And I am glad John Schultz came out from behind that drum kit to create one of my favorite — and not just rock films — but films, period. It was a blast watching this again (how many times does that make, now).
You can enjoy the full film as a free-stream on You Tube.
* We blew out a week’s worth of films starring John Doe of X, so do check out our “John Doe Week” of reviews.
Zachary is something like a hooker with a heart of gold. He’s a vampire with a conscience, hunting down the bloodline of vampires that made him like a gaijin Alucard from the Castlevania games. So yeah, the vampires have even turned the love of his life into one of them, so he must destroy her and her master Serena — last seen in Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm which comes out a year after this so, you know, it’s alright if you’re confused — with the enchanted sword of Laertes.
The rest of the film is all about Ash trying to take out our hero, using a pianist named Sofia to draw him out by drinking her blood and making her one of his followers. And then there’s another vampiric consort named Iris who decides to throw a wrench in destiny.
Consider this one a side mission in the world of Subspecies, as all of these characters will get involved in the next one. Full Moon would later remake this as Decadent Evil.
If you’d like to see a cutdown version of this movie, it is the “Undead Evil” chapter of their anthology film I, Vampire.
A Full Moon shot in Romania movie directed by Charles Band himself, this one is all about a fleshy speciman that washes up in a water treatment plant that everyone wants for themselves. There’s a scene with a woman in a bikini and an ape mask stealings aid specimen by gunpoint, so there’s definitely a few memorable moments, right?
There ends up being four different specimens. One has a little body and an enlarged deformed head with two pairs of eyes and two mouths, plus tentacles. There’s also a blob with a face, a hairless ape that likes breastfeeding — another memorable moment — and a skeleton with porcupine-like spines.
That said, this is the kind of Full Moon movie that really leaves me cold. It makes time stand still and you keep looking at how much time is left, the only joy being the moments when the little guys are on the screen. More goopy fetus babies! Less human beings talking in rooms!
It was a smart idea to take a story by Stephen King — “Chattery Teeth” — and Clive Barker — “The Body Politic” — and turn it into a portanteau. Oddly, the whole idea came about because of agents.
Creative Artists Agency met with Garris about writing the pilot script for a John McTiernan-directed horror series that would have the same actors every week and a storyteller named Aaron Quicksilver — played here by Christopher Lloyd — introduce each story.
After writing a pilot script based on “Chattery Teeth,” Garris pitched the series to Fox, who wanted a two-hour movie, which brought in the Barker story. McTiernan then left the project, with Garris taking over.
In the film King-penned tale — the home video flips the order — Quicksilver meets a hitchhiking couple who are newly married and tells them the story of a man who grabbed some poorly made novelty teeth at a gas station, teeth that somehow become alive and devoted to protecting his life. Then, a pickpocket learns the Barker story, all about a world in which our hands become their own people and rebel against the people they are attached to.
Matt Frewer being in both stories really helps. He’s the kind of actor who improves every role he touches. And Garris is able to turn this material into a gripping film; it helps that he was friends with both authors, as they had cameos in his film Sleepwalkers and Garris also directed the original The Stand, The Shining TV movie, Riding the Bullet Desparation and Bag of Bones.