Rock N Roll Frankenstein (1999)

A roadie named Iggy has dug up the bodies of the long-dead rock and roll stars, using the hands of Hendrix, the guts of Buddy Holly, the legs of Keith Moon, the penis of Jim Morrison and the head of Elvis. Where are the Plaster Casters when you need them?

Speaking of Elvis, we covered this back in our list of Elvis Fantasy Flicks.

I wanted to love this movie, but it just feels forced. The fact that Jim Morrison’s penis gets substituted for Liberace’s, which is shortly in conflict with the brain of Elvis, taking over his body and then murdering the men he makes love to sounds like a movie I should love, but this has the stench of a Troma film about it, one that is so proud of being so bad it’s good when it should aim for its cult status on its own strengths.

UK adult actor and director Ben Dover is in this and yes, I’m kind of ashamed — no, I’m not — that I immediately recognized him.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer (1999)

Ira Einhorn (Kevin Anderson) created Earth Day, but yeah, he also killed his girlfriend and kept her in a trunk for a long time. She was found, he never came back home and he was convicted of killing Holly Maddux (played by Naomi Watts) in absentia. Her dad (Tom Skeritt, for the ladies) works hard to bring him to justice in this story of hippie values gone wrong.

Strangely, this is like the fifth William Graham TV movie I’ve watched in the last few days. I’m not complaining. He also made Elvis’ last narrative movie effort, Change of Habit.

This is a typical late 90s ripped from the headlines TV movie about someone who somehow stayed ahead of the law for decades and kept working on being released until he died in jail.

You know, someday I may add up all the hours of TV movies I’ve watched and wonder what I’ve done with my life, but it isn’t going to be today.

 

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Ultraman Gaia (1998-1999)

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 Hyperspace and 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.

You can purchase this set from Amazon and Deep Discount.

*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.

Warlock III: The End of Innocence (1999)

With apologies to Don Henley:

Remember when Julian Sands was Warlock
And made lots of Christians die?
Didn’t have a care in the world
With Satan as his daddy standing by
Cutting out Mary Woronov’s eyes
And making Lori Singer look all old
But this time, there’s one small detail
Since Julian Sands had to fly

Oh, we can all wish that he didn’t go
But we have to get used to Bruce Payne
Yes, Damodar from those movies about D&D
And the Passenger 57 bad guy
You can lay your head back on the couch
And let your taste fall all around you
Offer up your best defense
But this is Warlock 3
This is the end of the innocence

Actually, for a third movie in a series, much less one made in a Roger Corman studio in Ireland, this is way better than it has any right. Director and writer Eric Freiser has some skills, so it’s sad that he didn’t get to make too many movies. He did make another sequel, the TV movie Another Midnight Run.

Although this is a sequel, this Warlock is not related to the Julian Sands one. But hey — you probably already rented this on a big stack of five for $5 for five day movies and you won’t know that until you get home.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Candyman 3: Day of the Dead (1999)

Many years ago, the agency I worked at had the account for the Pittsburgh Public Theater and was doing an ad for August Wilson’s King Hedley II. Tony Todd was in the lead and the team working on it couldn’t figure out who should do the voice-over for the commercial. I pushed really hard for them to consider Tony Todd to be in the commercial and despite being the youngest writer on staff, I pushed myself hard to get to write it.

Somehow, I made it happen.

When it came time to record the commercial, I was told — in no uncertain terms — to not mention any horror films that Tony Todd was in. He was a real actor.

Todd was excited to record the commercial, as he was excited to be in Wilson’s play, so it all worked out. We were to take him to lunch, then the record and somehow, I got to go to that as well.

We were ten feet down Penn Avenue and someone yelled, “Hey Candyman!”

Todd instantly laughed and walked over to greet the fan warmly.

“I was told not to bring that up,” I said.

“Ah, man. It’s cool. Those movies have done a lot for me. The first one is great. And the second one, well, you do the sequel, right? And the third one, well, my daughter has college…” he laughed.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing more amazing than hearing Tony Todd read your words. Seriously, he was a one-take machine, even on a :60 radio commercial.

There’s also nothing more frightening than hearing Tony Todd’s voice order a salad.

The film takes place in 2020, twenty-five years after the events of Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, and artist Miguel Velasco is putting on a Candyman-themed gallery show. If this sounds like the 2021 Candyman, well…

One of the people that comes to the show is Annie Tennant’s daughter Caroline (Playboy Playmate of the Month September 1995 Donna D’Errico), who is a direct descendant of the legendary killer. She says his name five times and soon Miguel and his girlfriend Lena (Rena Riffel, Penny from Showgirls and the director, writer, producer and editor of  Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven) are dead from the hook of the Candyman.

Annie has died, a victim of the Candyman in her old age, but before her death, she told Caroline to destroy the myth. The man blamed for the killings, David, falls for her and takes her to meet his clairvoyant grandmother, who informs our heroine that she must find the good within Candyman to destroy the evil.

But what if Candyman isn’t just a supernatural force? What if he’s someone else?

Candyman 3: Day of the Dead is better than I thought it was when I came back to watch it again. It’s nowhere near as good as the proceeding two films, but it’s still an enjoyable watch.

This movie is finally out on blu ray under the Vestron Video label.

Also — I love Tony Todd because when Lionsgate wanted to make a Candyman and Leprechaun crossover, he shot it down instead of taking the money. Thanks for being the best, Mr. Todd.

JOE D’AMATO WEEK: Predators of the Antilles (1999)

Predators of the Antilles was released in the U.S. as Sexy Pirates and it’s the last non-adult film that D’Amato would direct. So how strange that this film is a throwback to old school swashbuckling with barely dirty nudity and sex scenes for a man who just spent five years filming Rocco Siffredi’s yam bag up close.

You know how excited Joe was to make a mainstream film? He used the name David Hills, the name he used for Caligula… The Untold Story, Ator the Fighting Eagle, Ator 2, Quest for the Mighty Sword and Frankenstein 2000.

Joe also knows that if you want to make a fun adult-oriented pirate movie, you need a gorgeous leading lady. He ably succeeds with the casting of Anita Rinaldi, who was also in Top Model, and whose adult career took her to producing and directing. She’s Lady Elena Hamilton and her goal is to rescue her husband no matter what it takes.

What it takes means hiring her own crew, as the king won’t negotiate with pirates. So she asks Captain Graham to take her to Tortuga to enlist the legendary gentleman pirate Thomas Butler with the promise of offering herself to him biblically if he helps her rescue her husband. Shockingly — and keep in mind Joe D’Amato directed this — this doesn’t happen in the very next scene.

So with her husband being sold to the evil Don Diego de la Vega, a team of pirates is put together to rescue the nobleman, including Butler’s woman Pilar, an explosives expert, a monstrous protector for Elena, a sharpshooter and even a martial arts expert named Kato played by the astoundingly named Whu Tang Tung.

If this was your first D’Amato film, you may wonder why we did an entire week of his films. For those of us along for a much longer voyage, this elicits a smile, as we’re seeing him tone it down one last time. Sadly, D’Amato died of a heart attack on January 23, 1999. According to Luigi Cozzi, his death happened unexpectedly while he was busy preparing a new film. His last film? So on brand it was an X-rated version of Showgirls called Showgirl, starring Eva Henger and Nacho Vidal.

Antropophagus 2000 (1999)

Andreas Schnaas is probably best known for Violent Shit, its many sequels and Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence. As a homage to Italian director Joe D’Amato — who I think would kind of appreciate being ripped off — he also remade Antropophagus with this film.

Three Interpol agents explore a cave filled with bodies and find the journal of Nikos Karamanlis, a man lost at sea who was forced to eat his wife and daughter. Yes, we’re right into the same story D’Amato told, but with somehow even more unrestrained gore.

So yes, we do switch out a boat for an RV — note to Bill Van Ryn, add this to the RV horror film Letterboxd list — and Andreas Schnaas is no George Eastman (or Joe D’Amato, but talk about a tall order) but if you’d like to see someone remake a movie that already ended up on the video nasty list and say, “I don’t think that baby eating scene went far enough” have I got some good news for you. Actually, spoiler warning for anyone brave enough to watch this, but you may get to see more than one baby get eaten, which is really the definition of gratuitous, but what are you watching a low budget German remake of an Italian scumbag slasher for?

 

Apocalypse: The Film Series (1998 – 2001)

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.

The four-film box set that’s easily purchased — as well as the individual films — online at secular and faith-based sites.

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 Collapse and 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?

You can watch this on Tubi.

Apocalypse III: Tribulation (2000)

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 Apocalypse I . . . then we flash-foward — two years — after the events in Revelation, aka Apocalypse II, you got that?

No?

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:

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

SLASHER MONTH: Lover’s Lane (1999)

In the wake of Scream, nearly every meta slasher wanted to have something to do with urban legends. This one is about The Hook and take great pains to show us how the original story happened, how a cop got cucked and how a man was blamed for the crimes.

Years later, when the kids are all grown up, The Hook comes back and starts slashing his way through all of them. They don’t need much help, because one of them, Chloe, gets so upset about getting dumped that she tries to drown her boyfriend in front of the entire school.

Look, when I was a kid I had seen so many of these movies that I pretty much was afraid of ever going to a lover’s lane. I mean, it happened, but nearly every time, the cops were the ones that busted us. By some strange coincidence, the two times that happened I was fully clothed and my date was nude and, well, one of those times was in the parking lot for a school for mentally challenged kids and the cop pulled me out of the back seat and walked me around the side and with a tear in his eye said, “I just feel bad for these kids that they can’t do anything and here you are fornicating.”

I was not killed with a hook.

Anyways, Anna Farris made her debut in this movie, which I figure she leaves off her credits. Richard Sanders, who was Les Nessman, plays a therapist. And this was shot in Seattle, which is not a place that I can think of that has had many slashers. It was supposed to be filmed at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, but because there had already been a triple murder at the high school, they backed out.

Mozart Is a Murderer (1999)

You can say that Argento is all things giallo, but in my mind, there’s just as strong of an argument to include Sergio Martino in his company. Starting with 1971’s The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Martino had a run of several classic films in just a few years, such as Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, All the Colors of the Dark, Torso, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail and The Suspicious Death of a Minor.

And while this is just a TV movie made years after the glorious decade of giallo, Mozart is a Murderer reminds us that Martino is an expert filmmaker.

It all starts years ago when one bad note ruins a concert. This innocuous event will spiral to claim the lives of many. Starting with a girl named Chiara, those connected to the event are found stabbed and have a circle and a cross cut into their bodies.

Commissioner Antonio Maccari has been trying to rebuild his life after his wife’s death at the hands of a serial killer he was hunting for. He’s been dating a therapist, Dr. Marta Melli, who is treating one of the students who was in the recital. It turns out that their teacher, Professor Baraldi, may have a sweet tooth for his male students and that Chiara and her boyfriend had been blackmailing their old music professor. But there are so many red herrings to swim through before we learn who the killer is.

Martino had some success in the 90s with TV movies and miniseries, including Private Crimes, which feature the queen of all things giallo Edwige Fenech and the always doomed Ray Lovelock.

This looks pretty 90s instead of being filled with the visual flourishes that Martino showed in his past work. But hey — even a low budget Martino is another joy to find, right? And it’s filled with little nods to past films, such as a headline that proclaims “The police are fumbling in the dark,” which is a line used in many giallo and also the title of a 1975 film with that very name, The Police Are Blundering In the Dark.