Director and writer Peter Horak may have shot this in Prague and California, but it looks like the kind of movies that Cabellero and VCA put out in 1998 without you know, all the ejaculate. It also has a lead who loses his girl in a rowboat accident, which sends him to Europe, and into the orbit of — you knew it — Dracula (played by three actors, Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko and Tom McGowan).
Who can battle Dracula? How about Bruce Glover? Yes, Crispin’s dad.
Horak did stunts on Viva Knievel!, Throw Mama from the Train and more than twenty other films. I have no idea what made him write, produce and direct a comedy Dracula movie that is beyond brutally unfunny. I mean, I have no limit when it comes to evil — I mean bad movies — and this one really pushed me even worse than any other film has.
Which means I loved the experience and I’d totally force you to watch it while screaming about why they made the choices they did.
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!
The fourteenth Ultra series, Ultraman Gaia ran from September 5, 1998 until August 28, 1999, with a total of 51 episodes. It doesn’t take place in the same continuity* as the Showa era Ultramen (Ultraman to Ultraman 80), the animated world of The Ultraman or Ultraman Tiga and Ultraman Dyna. There are also two Ultraman characters and neither can agree how exactly to defend the Earth.
Ultraman Gaia and Ultraman Agul have so many issues that by the middle point of the series they end up battling one another, eventually reconciling so that they can do what they’re here to do: save the Earth. Those same issues extend to the humans that control these Ultras, as Gamu Takayama (Ultraman Gaia) believes that he is here to save Earth and humanity. Fujimiya Hiroya (Ultraman Agul) thinks that he is Earth’s natural defence mechanism and protects the planet itself, even at the expense of humanity.
They’re brought together by Chrisis, a supercomputer developed by a group of science student geniuses named the Alchemy Stars, which has predicted that by 1997 Earth will be destroyed by the Radical Destruction Bringer. To stop this, the Stars have created a secret defense known as GUARD (Geocentric Universal Alliance against the Radical Destruction) that stands ready to save the world.
I really liked how Gama found his Ultra while doing a virtual reality experiment to discover the will of the Earth, which showed him a vision of Ultraman Gaia battling monsters non-stop. This series looks like it has some level of budget behind it — it looks like a higher end sentai show — and it’s interesting that it puts science at odds with the magic of the Earth. I’m kind of wondering if Agul is right and that our planet is better off without humans sometimes.
You can find out for yourself by grabbing the Ultraman Gaia box set from Mill Creek, which has all 51 episodes, plus Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna & Ultraman Gaia: Battle in Hyperspaceand Ultraman Gaia: Gaia Once Again. There’s also a colorful guide that shows the different Ultra forms in this series and the team logos and vehicles of GUARD and the eXpanded Interceptive Guardians, their top elite defense squad.
*Gaia does appear in Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna & Ultraman Gaia: Battle in Hyperspace, alongside Tiga, Dyna, Mebius and the Showa-era Ultras in Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers, teams up with the Heisei-era Ultras in Ultraman Ginga S: Showdown! Ultra 10 Warriors!! and brings along Agul to save an Earth that is not their own in Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga.
So what if the ozone layer really went away and we were forced to go to a parallel earth and take it over? Well, then we’d be the bad guys in this movie and we’d be up against the formidable Yasmine Bleeth, who has come home to realize that everyone in her old town is a totally different person.
David Jackson, who directed this, made one of the worst TV movies I’ve ever seen, The Jesse Ventura Story, as well as a movie I never knew existed, From the Files of Unsolved Mysteries: Voice from the Grave, which takes the dramatizations of Unsolved Mysteries all the way to a full movie in which Megan Ward is possessed by a dead woman. He also made Return to Halloweentown, which just shows that I have watched way too many movies.
Look — TV movies are a mixed bag. Sometimes you get Carl Kolchak. And other times you get people with their organs on the wrong side of their bodies. I mean, I liked it, but if this site proves anything, it’s that my taste is questionable.
Nothing succeeds like success. So when The Prophecydid well, that meant that not just one but four more movies would follow. And sure, the cast isn’t as good, but Jennifer Beals plays a nurse who gets instantly pregnant with a nephilim baby thanks to a rebel angel moonlighting as a rock star, as well as a young Brittany Murphy, Eric Roberts (again, we are fated to watch every one of his movies) and Glenn Danzig as the angel Samayel, which was something that made me rent this more than once to see a short and gruff cherubim for a few seconds.
Thomas Daggett is now Bruce Abbott from Re-Animator and is also a monk given to — cue the title — prophecy. That child of angel and human will stop the war in Heaven, so Gabriel is back to stop that child from being born. And man, Roberts plays St. Michael the Archangel, so you have no idea how happy that makes me, as the prayer of St. Michael the Archangel is filled with promises of stopping the devil in his battles against humanity.
Walken does get off a few great lines, like this one: “I sang the first hymn when the stars were born. Not that long ago, I announced to a young woman, Mary, who it was she was expecting. On the other hand, I’ve turned rivers into blood, kings into cripples, cities to salt, so I don’t think that I have to explain myself to you.”
This one ends with Gabriel as a homeless human, cast out of heaven, but when there’s lightning in the sky, you know that his story is far from over.
Dean Koontz — whose own website proclaims him as the “International Bestselling Master of Suspense” — has sold over 450 million copies of his books, but it always seems like he’s a little behind Stephen King. I mean, that’s not a bad thing, as King was just a monolith when it came to selling books. But Koontz was successful as well. as in the VHS rental wild late 80s and 90s, so many of his books became movies. Watchers, which is very, very loosely based on one of his books, has three sequels alone.
Other Koontz film adaptions include Demon Seed, The Passengers (based on his noel Shattered), Whispers, Servants of Twilight, Hideaway, Intensity, Mr. Murder, Phantoms, Sole Survivor, Frankenstein, Odd Thomas and Black River.
Koontz’s golden retriever Trixie was often on his book jackets and even wrote two books, Life Is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living and Christmas Is Good. She was a service dog that had been trained by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a charitable organization that provides service dogs for people with disabilities, an organization that Koontz discovered while writing his book Midnight. Over the years, he helped the group raise $2.5 million in funds, so Trixie was their gift to him. So you can see why having a supercanine golden retriever in a story made sense to him — which is what Watchers is all about.
Watchers (1988): It’s a rivalry as old as time: a golden retriever with special abilities battling the mutated monster known as the OXCOM (Outside Experimental Combat Mammal).
The dog soon makes friends with Travis Cornell (Corey Haim) and his girlfriend Tracey (Lala Sloatman, who was dating Haim; she’s also the niece of Frank Zappa and is in Amityville: A New Generation). Of course, the government wants the dog back, so they send NSO agent Johnson (Michael Ironside).
This movie kills everyone it comes across, with either OXCOM or Johnson basically wiping out a small town, whether to kill or to keep the murders secret.
Amazingly, this was originally written by Paul Haggis, who would go on to write Million Dollar Baby, Crash and yes, create Walker Texas Ranger.
Watchers II (1990): Hey, I think that Marc Singer — he’s the Beastmaster — and Tracy Scoggins — from Dynasty and The Colbys — are fine replacements in this film that finds OXCOM and a golden retriever still battling one another.
Singer is a Marine gone AWOL. Scoggins is an animal psychologist from the top secret laboratory and the OXCOM still is a goofy rubber suit. And sure, this may be the same movie we just watched, but when has a sequel being the same as the first movie ever stopped us?
Screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris used the name Henry Dominic — the same alter ego they’d use for Bloodfist II, Flight of the Black Angel, The Unborn, Severed Tiesand Mindwarp — as neither were members of the Writer’s Guild of America. Brancato and Ferris would go on to write The Game, as well as The Net.
Thierry Notz also directed The Terror Within which makes a lot of sense once you see this movie.
Watchers 3 (1994): Oh yes, this third one was shot in Peru, executive produced by Roger Corman and has one of my favorites, Wings Hauser, in the middle of the never-ending war between mutant and mongrel. Yes, this time it’s the deformed Outsider, which lives only to kill, battling Einstein, a golden retriever with an IQ of 175.
To stop the monster, Hauser is put in charge of a squad of military men and criminals. Now if you’re thinking, “Would Roger Corman rip off Predator?” let me just say that yes, he would. He did. And he would do it again.
Written by the same man who penned Carnosaur 2, let me tell you, I will regret nothing on my deathbed except probably the time I spent watching this movie. Eh, who am I kidding? I’d watch it again if you asked with any nicety in your tone.
Watcher Reborn (1998): You know what you never realize as a kid? As bad of a director as George Lucas can be, he’s one of the few people able to reign in the hammy tendencies of Mark Hamill, who plays a detective in this one who has just lost his wife and son to a fire that was probably caused by a mutant because that’s how it goes.
Lisa Wilcox, Alice from A Nightmare On Elm Street 4and 5, plays the scientist who introduces him to a golden retriever, this time named Alex and being not as smart as he was the last time, only having an IQ of 140. This one also has a pit bull and the man who ruined Night Gallery in syndication, Gary Collins, so you know that my heart is on the side of the animals and not the humans. I’m also on the side of all murderous mutants, because as Emily Dickinson wrote, “The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care,” and we’ve gone about proving this inscrutable wisdom true ever since.”
Low Rawls — yes, the man who sang “You’ll Never Find Another Love like Mine” — has a cameo as a coroner, so if you ever get asked, “What do Lucio Fulci and Lou Rawls have in common?” and a gun is at your temple, I have provided you with the knowledge that will save your life.
Should you watch the Watchers movies? Look, I don’t want to tell you what to do with your life. I mean, you could also ask, “Should you watch a hundred Jess Franco movies in one month?” The answer is always going to be yes for me as I try and get the highest of movie highs, no matter how bad the strain seems to be.
We don’t usually cover adult movies all that often here, but this is Joe D’Amato’s last movie, so that seems like more than a good enough reason to watch this film.
I’d like to tell you that Joe went and made a remake of Showgirls, but really the only thing this movie has in common with that piece of exploitation by way of Hollywood lunacy is that it takes place mostly in an adult club. Hungarian-born actress Eva Henger (Miss Teen Hungary 1989) plays Eva, who is our Nomi Malone, even if we don’t even get a single recreation of any scene from that film.
There’s also an 82-minute softcore version of this movie which has to be really rough to get through. Helping matters is an appearance by Jazmine Rose, who showed up pretty frequently in mid 90s adult films with her then paramour Nacho Vidal (who is in this, but their scene together cuts before anything happens). She did 29 movies between 1998 and 2001 before becoming a chef, appearing on Chopped and having quite a culinary career.
If D’Amato had made this a decade earlier, he’d have gone to New Orleans and shot an entire pastiche of the movie he was ripping off, had Laura Gemser as Cristal Connors and really tried a bit more. That said, you can still see some of his eye for camera composition in this, even if it’s in the service of making a better looking shot in a day or two sex movie.
We’ve mentioned this influential film series in the context of a few of our other reviews this week. And it is “influencial,” as it certainly had an effect on David. A.R. White and his Christian Apoc-science fiction adventures through his PureFlix shingle: his first was Six: The Mark Unleashed (2004), followed with The Moment After and Revelation Road franchises, In the Blink of an Eye, and Jerusalem Countdown. And the producers behind his debut film, TBN, Paul and Jan Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting Network (through their son Matthew), jumped into the apoc frays with their own, The Omega Code (1999).
The Apocalypse franchise’s roots date to 1994, when the brothers LaLonde, Peter and Paul — inspired by Hollywood’s A-List glut of films concerned with the world’s post-apocalypse survival*, such as Waterworld (1995), Independence Day (1996), Escape from L.A. (1996), and The Postman (1997), along with the “Lucifer’s Hammer” one-two punch of Armageddon and Deep Impact (1998), and Peter Hyams’s End of Days (1999) — formed Cloud Ten Pictures in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, to self-fiance their own, wholesome, family-oriented “end times” Christian films.
As they should: God invented the apocalypse, after all, in The Book of Revelation in The Holy Bible. It’s just not fair that the Somdomites and Gomorrahites of Tinseltown have the secular market cornered on what rightful belongs to Christians in the first place. Estus Pirkle has whole films (If Footmen Tire You, The Burning Hell, and The Believer’s Heaven) based on the Christian belief that God-hating Communists will jam sharpened bamboo shoots through our ear canals, cut people down from trees onto buried pitch forks, and dump the bodies of those who will not deny the Christ, into freshly bulldozed mass graves. Oh, and the child stealing and indoctrination centers where children will praise Fidel Castro.
Hey, don’t be scared, ye philistine. For the LaLonde’s are not as bibically crazed as Pastor Pirkle and a bit more subtle in frightening you into believing. Sure, with the same, faithful vigor as Christian apoc-progenitor Donald W. Thompson with his A Thief in the Night tetralogy franchise, but only with A-List (well, let’s just say, better) production values backed, not by church volunteers and “saved” community theater actors: but by real, actual actors.
Oh, what a cast these movies have!
The LaLonde brothers’ films have nothing on the early Revelation-based apoc’ers Six-Hundred Sixty Six (1972), and the Gospel Films (studios) 1981 double-whammy of the non-sequels Early Warning and Years of the Beast. Oh, yes, ye B&S About Movies Sadducees: If the subject matter’s rhythm doesn’t get you, the off-the-A-to-B List thespians surely will.
Prior to delving into the feature films business, the LaLonde brothers produced their own television series: a syndicated series that dealt with the very subject matter of their films: This Week in Bible Prophecy. That lead to their creating a series of hour-long documentaries between 1994 and 1997: The Gospel of the Antichrist: Exposed, Final Warning: Economic Collapseand the Coming World Government, Startling Proofs: Does God Really Exist, Last Days: Hype or Hope?, and Racing to the End of Time. Courtesy of the ratings and retail response to those early products, it was time for a (low-budget) sci-fi thriller based on upon their TV/video teachings. That first film became Apocalypse (1998), which spawned the tetralogy franchise: Revelation, Tribulation, and Judgement.
So successful the franchise that, by the time of the release of third film and before the fourth film, Cloud Ten Pictures was able to option the very book that inspired their film series: the 1995 worldwide best-seller Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Their 2000 – 2005 film trilogy based on that book series, which starred Kirk Cameron (Saving Christmas), culminated with a bigger-budgeted, crtically derided theatrical reboot, Left Behind (2014) with Nicolas Cage.
Okay, enough with the back stories. . . . Lets throw away the melon rind on the way to Eden and unpack the prophe-verse of Franco Macalousso and his deadly O.N.E. (One Earth Nation) squads. (In Donald W. Thompson’s franchise, it was known as U.N.I.T.E. – United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency, if you’re keeping an apoc track of the proceedings.)
Apocalypse I: Caught In The Eye Of The Storm (1998)
Unlike the rest of the films in the series, we’re dealing with a list of no-name (Canadian) actors fronted by the “leads” of Leigh Lewis and Richard Nestor (that’s them, disembodied floating-headin’ the cover, by the way) and Sam Bornstein, each with limited-and-fades-away resumes; Leigh Lewis’s Helen Hannah character is the lone throughline of the series.
As with Kurt Cameron’s Cameron “Buck” Williams in the Left Behind trilogy, Helen Hannah and Bronson Pearl (Richard Nestor) are award-winning journalists who stumble into the deadly plans of Franco Macalousso (Sam Bornstein), the President of the European Union. When the prophesied Rapture occurs and throws the world into chaos, Macalousso proclaims himself the true Messiah and enforces his will upon the world.
You can watch this one Tubi. And we have to note that the video suggestions link to all three of Kirk Cameron’s Left Behind films and Casper Van Dien’s The Omega Code duet, if you’re up to the challenge.
Apocalypse II: Revelation (1999)
What a difference “three months” after the last film, makes: Satan has transformed Franco Macalousso into (wait, he is Satan) . . . Nick Mancuso, of Nightwing and Death Ship?
This time, the tale centers on the exploits of Thorold Stone, a counter-terrorism expert . . . played by Jeff Fahey of The Lawnmower Man? A non-believer hellbent to prove The Rapture is a conspiracy, he stumbles into an underground, Christian resistance movement led by Helen Hannah, from the first film. But since actress Leigh Lewis is way out of her thespin’ element, here: bring in (not much better) supermodel Carol Alt as part of the resistance.
Oh, and Alt’s character is blind. And the European Union, now ruling the world as One Nation Earth, watched John Carpenter secular They Live one too many times, since O.N.E distributes virtual reality headsets to everyone on Earth to celebrate the “Messiah’s Day of Wonders.”
So, to make sure you’re following along: Satan, and not aliens, are doing the VR brainwashing of the puny humans. You got that?
Well, okay . . . so we lost Jeff Fahey and Carol Alt. But we still get a little bit of Nick Mancuso . . . and gain a Gary Busey, a Margot Kidder, and a Howie Mandel. We also get just what we do not need: a non-linear timeline that splits in half across the events that happened before ApocalypseI . . . then we flash-foward — two years — after the events in Revelation, aka Apocalypse II, you got that?
Hey, we feel you, because the plot is bat-crap crazy and all over the place. Gary Busey’s Tom Canbono — from what seems like another movie spliced in — stars as a bitter police detective battling a mysterious group of cloaked psychic warrior-assassins (no, we are not kiddding) after his wife, his sister and brother-in-law (Margot Kidder and a pre-bald/Van Dyked Howie Mandel). However, before Canbono can save them, the psychics take control of his car and cause him to crash. . . .
Then begins the “other” movie: Busey wakes up from a two-years coma to discover The Rapture has occurred, 95% of the world follows Nick Mancusco’s lead, and those who don’t allow themselves to be branded with a “666” on their head or right hand, in the grand tradition of all things Christian, are beheaded. (Yeah, Christians love their broadswords and guillotines in these movies.) As for the “third” movie cut into this mess: Leigh Lewis is pushed even further down the callsheets with her Christian resistance annoyances to expose Nick Mancusco as the Antichrist.
See? Told you it was bat-crap crazy — joke inferring Nick’s Nightwing — which I should be rewatching — instead of this, intended. Yeah, it sure is a long, hard fall from starring with Steven Seagal in 1992’s Under Seige, hey, Nick and Gary? Too bad Steven didn’t star in Jeff Fahey’s role for part deux to really give us something to QWERTY about.
You can watch this on Tubi. You just gotta: Busey battles psychic warriors!
Apocalypse IV: Judgement (2001)
First, we get a gaggle nobody-heard-of-them-or-seen-since Canucks making a Christian apocalypse film. Then we get an Antichrist ruling via virtual reality headsets forced onto Carol Alt by Nick Mancusco. Then we get psychic warrior-assassins after Gary Busey.
What could possibly be left, you ask?
How’s about Corbin Bernsen (The Dentist) and Jessica Steen (the aforementioned Armageddon) starring as a Christian-centric Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Adam’s Rib (1949) — itself remade as the romantic rom-com box office bomb Laws of Attraction (2004) starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore. Only they were battling divorce attorneys. And Tracy and Hepburn argued a case of women’s rights.
So, what are Bernsen and Steen arguing: a copyright infringement case on the VR headsets? Gary Busey’s malpractice suit? Perhaps a copyright infringement over stealing the plot from the Stephen King’s The Dead Zone in the last movie? (No, not 28 Days Later, that’s not until next year.)
Nope to all.
Nick Mancusco — yes, he actually stuck around for three installment of this utter non-sense — is now, officially, the Antichrist and he’s “suing” Helen Hannah — yes, the out-of-her-thespian element Canadian actress Leigh Lewis is still hanging around, making us wish Carol Alt’s hot blind chick signed for the sequel — for her crimes against humanity. Corbin Bernsen is the troped, milquetoast attorney assigned to kangaroo-court our fair jounalist-turned-Christian revolutionist. Jessica Steen is his bitchy, natch, ex-wife prosecutor assigned by Nick Mancusco to railroad the leftover 5% from the last film that haven’t accepted the Mark.
Hey, wait. Mr. T is on the box! What’s he doing, here? We’ll, he’s spliced in from another movie: he’s heading up The D-Team to break Hannah from prison. Does he use one of those nifty VR headsets to pull it off?
Ugh, I just don’t care, anymore. And how come all of these Christian apoc flicks never end with Brother J showing up, in this case, to beat down Nick Mancusco? At least Estus Pirkle — his sharpened bamboo and mass graves, be damned — wrapped it up and took us upstairs to The Believer’s Heaven, while Tim Ormond has Christ arriving on white horseback with a band of angels in The Second Coming.
“The Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Being. Let the Trial Begin,” so says the box copy.
No. Just let this all end. Please. I believe! I believe! I won’t accept the Mark. Anything to makes these movies, stop.
* Hey, we known what we are talking about: we’re self-proclaimed apocalypse experts! So check out these featurettes rounding up all of our reviews of apoc’ers from the ’50s through the ’80s:
Somewhere out there in the recesses of the infinite, James Best — the man who at once was Roscoe P. Coltrane and also Quentin Tarantino’s acting coach — had the dream of writing a movie about a carnival worker who is so tired of his life in the sideshow that all he wants to do is make one beautiful piece of artwork. He wants it so much that he’ll give his life and soul to make it happen.
And then he makes the worst looking mask you’ve ever seen and it’s as if everyone in the movie fawns over it Emperor’s New Clothes-style as the most astounding thing they’ve ever seen and it really looks like something you’d make with Karens at one of those strip mall wine and paint places.
Wilbur has a burned up face, a horrible job as a carnival geek and is in love with Angel (Linnea Quigley, proving that she really can make anything better) who is really in love with the cheating owner of this horrible sideshow carnival.
All it takes to get this power to carve something so beautiful that people get the same feeling that you get when you sneeze, fart and burp at the same time is to have a voodoo woman give you a piece of the wood from the tree where her grandmother was burned at. In a bit of movie deus ex machina, Wilbur just so happens to have that head floating in a pickled punk jar.
Directed by Steve Latshaw, who made Dark Universe, Jack-O and Bikini Drive-In, amongst many other movies, this film exists in a strange dimension where Best is acting his heart out, Quigley is gamely trying to make everyone happy and the rest of the cast is having a blast just screaming stupid things at the camera. I imagine Best broke down in his trailer at least once.