Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage (2014)

Actor/director Shahin (Sean) Solimon is the first Persian-American actor to play Sinbad The Sailor in an American made film, which would be this movie, which now has director’s cut and expanded stop-motion VFX and new scenes.

This looks like old claymation mixed with modern desktop special effects, as well as narration by Patrick Stewart, which had to have cost something, you’d think.

How did they get to the fifth voyage of Sinbad? They’re counting The 7th Voyage of Sinbad as step one (which would make this the eleventh voyage, right?) and The Golden Voyage of SinbadSinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and even Enzo G. Castellari and Luigi Cozzi’s Lou Ferrigno-starring Sinbad of the Seven Seas as previous chapters.

Becca didn’t grow up watching these movies, so she’s not going to like a Sinbad movie as much as me, even if it features the hero battling monsters, vampires and Satan himself.

Do you know how many streaming movies I’ve watched lately? Becca asked me to shut it off and I told her it only had two minutes left. She angrily grabbed the remote and said, “It says it has more than ten minutes left!” I replied, “Watch. The credits are going to be about ten minutes long or more to pad this all out.”

So yeah. This is obviously Solimon’s pet project, so who am I to deny him the opportunity to learn how to use After Effects and try to make something that shoots for Harryhausen and ends up somewhere around the clay creatures in Night Train to Terror?

You can learn more on this movie’s official Facebook page and official website. You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 30: Dark Dungeons (2014)

DAY 30. BRING IT ON HOME: Something filmed in Seattle.

I love Jack Chick.

Completely and utterly love everything he ever put out.

Dark Dungeons is one of his best tracts.

I went to a high school that had decided that Dungeons & Dragons was a gateway to Satan and banned it from being played. Imagine my surprise when I learned that RPGs were mostly arguing about rules, not getting laid and doing way too much math.

Did Jack Chick lie to me? I was hoping for an awesome underworld of murder and Satan and suicide and heavy metal and hot raven tressed Dungeon Mistresses ordering me around and I got a bunch of dudes drinking Mountain Dew and talking about Gelatinous Cubes.

Writer J. R. Ralls came up with the idea of filming an adaptation of this influential comic but didn’t follow through until he won $1,000 in a lottery. He asked Chick for permission and surprisingly got it and made the movie after a successful Kickstarter.

Made in Seattle, this is an incredibly faithful adaption of the comic that plays it completely straight, which is perfect. Trust me, I have read this so many times that I know it by heart. They even got the font right on Marcie’s suicide note!

Marilyn Manson, who knows quite a bit about the lure of Satan for 80’s teens, once stated, “If every cigarette you smoke takes seven minutes off of your life, every game of Dungeons & Dragons you play delays the loss of your virginity by seven hours.” Seeing as how I didn’t get laid until I was 24, you can only guess how many times I made Charisma rolls and battled Kobolds.

You can watch this on The Fantasy Network and learn more on the official site.

SLASHER MONTH: Watch Me Die (2014)

Spoiler warning: I hate found footage movies. I see them as flimsy excuses to either put handcuffs on a production or a cheap way to cut costs. It rarely, if ever, works for me and I’m often bored within minutes. Why shoehorn yourself into one way to tell the story when cinema offers so many other ways? Ah well, I realize I’m writing a losing battle.

Watch Me Die was once called Murder Death Kill. It’s been released by our friends at Wild Eye as part of their Wild Eye Extreme line (and they were kind enough to send it to us).

A killer named The Surveyor spends most of the movie taping the murders of gorgeous young women he’s hired to make adult movies. However, he just might be the main character in someone else’s film.

Thomas Banuelos wrote, directed and stars in this. If you’re into a movie where a dude makes women drink wine glasses full of drain cleaner, I can’t stop you. I might not invite you over for dinner, but I can’t stop you.

I mean, long scenes of murder and torture with no story to really tie them together is less my jam than even found footage. But hey, different strokes, I guess. Probably literally.

2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 16: Frank (2014)

DAY 16. MASKS ARE REQUIRED: You guessed it, at least one character has to wear a mask for the entire movie.

Chris Sievey was a comedian and musician who started his music career by hitchhiking with his brother and heading to the headquarters of Apple Records, where they did a sit-in and demanded to meet one of The Beatles. Instead, they got to play a song for the head of A&R Tony King.

His band The Freshies had their biggest hit with “I’m in Love with the Girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk,” but were mostly known only in Manchester. Then, a character that Sievey created, Frank Sidebottom, took over.

Frank was originally a superfan of The Freshies but the popularity of the character led Sievey to focus his output on strictly making records as Frank. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Frank appeared on the British version of Remote Control, as well as live performances and even a comic strip. He disappeared until 2005, when his Frank Sidebottom’s Proper Telly Show in B/W appeared on television and then he never went away again until Sievey’s death. His song “Christmas is Really Fantastic” was a big hit and there was even a social media campaign to get his song “Guess Who’s Been on Match of the Day” on the charts.

Jon Ronson was the keyboard player for Frank several times, touring with him while beginning his writing career, which has brought him into the orbit of David Icke and Alex Jones before anyone in this country really knew who they were, unlike now when conspiracy theories are everywhere. His book The Men Who Stare at Goats became a movie, then he mined his past to create the script — based on his newspaper article and co-written with Peter Straughan — for the mask-filled movie we’re about to discuss.

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) dreams of being a rock star, but has no idea how to get there. One day, by whim or fate or accident, he watches a man try to drown himself. That man was the keyboardist for the Soronprfbs, an experimental group that he is invited to play with that very night. Walking in off the street, he sees the lead singer, Frank (Michael Fassbender), a man with a very large masked head that he plugs a microphone into. Before he can get his bearings, the band begins to play and the performance just starts to come together when Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) flips out and destroys her KORG keyboard.

The band moves on. Jon cannot.

Soon, Frank calls him and invites him to join the band. Unknowingly, that means going to Ireland for an extended period to record an album. Jon struggles to be accepted by the rest of the band, which includes Baraque and Nana (Carla Azar, from Autolux, which is fantastic). As he secretly records the band, they begin to get noticed, which is the very thing that Frank both wants and fears most.

Stephen Rennicks from The Prunes wrote much of the music in this and it feels so real. The scenes where the songs come together are magical. And the scene in the diner, where fans are asking Jon about the band and wondering how crazy everyone is and not understanding that they are real people, underscores the issues of mental illness versus art that Roky Erickson, Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston all really lived.

I’ve only seen one other Larry Abrahamson film before, 2015’s Room, but I really need to take the time and track down everything else he’s made. This movie really took me on a journey and I found myself filled with emotion at the end, as Frank is revealed.

You can learn more at the official site and Facebook page. This has my highest recommendation.

Remake Remix Rip-Off (2014)

As you may have learned from this week of films, Turkey is one of the biggest producers of pop culture in the world, despite a film industry that still has no budget, huge demand and little to no training. To keep up, often screenwriters and directors began creating cover versions of movies and characters from all over the world.

Creator Cem Kaya grew up with Yeşilçam movies from Turkish video stores in Germany. Over seven years of making this movie, he would meet with the directors, producers and actors who created these astounding films.

 

There’s a great moment here when one of the most successful Turkish TV producers looks back fondly at the past, sharing how much content they must crank out and how burned out the people making it are. The Yeşilçam movies of the past seem more filled with joy than the constant need to deliver more and more fuel for the furnace of a fickle public.

As you can tell from this week of films, we have a special feeling for the cinema of Turkey. This movie is a perfect introduction to what makes these movies just so strange and special. The personal touches that Cem adds to the film make it that much better. This is a perfect primer or refresher or reminder, no matter where your knowledge of these films lies.

You can learn more at the movie’s official site.

Late Phases (2014)

I loved Adrián García Bogliano’s Here Comes the Devil, so I was excited for this werewolf film. It’s not as amazing as that film, but there are some interesting parts to this story.

Will McKinley (Ethan Embry, Empire Records) has moved his blind vet dad Ambrose (StakelandWe Are What We Are) into a retirement home. Ambrose is angry, as he feels that he can live on his own. Despite the attentions of the ladies of this community — Tina Louise (Gilligan’s Island, Evils of the Night) Rutanya Alta (Mommie Dearest, Amityville II: The Possession) and Caitlin O’Heaney (Savage WeekendHe Knows You’re Alone) in great casting — but he only really cares about Shadow, his German Shepherd service dog. Then, one night, a werewolf breaks into his duplex and kills his neighbor (Karen Lynn Gorney, Saturday Night Fever) and his beloved canine companion.

Ambrose uses all his military skills to track down the wolf, as well as his enhanced hearing, as he recognizes a rasp in the breathing of the killer. Could it be the priest (Tom Noonan!)? The man in the iron lung? Or the strange James Griffin (Lance Guest)?

The film kind of plods along until the very intense close and emotional letter that Ambrose sends his son. I just wish that the film had more werewolves and less narrative leaps to make, like a blind man being placed in an unfamiliar home and not knowing where the furniture is.

There are parts of this movie that I realy liked, but I expected so much more. You may enjoy it more than me, so check it out on Amazon Prime.

Diamonds to Dust (2014)

Jayne Mansfield possessed an IQ of 163, played violin and piano at a concert level, had a degree in science, spoke 5 languages fluently and yet was known as a dumb blond. Her career was as short as her life was turbulent, with three ex-husbands, five children, addictions to booze and pills, and a car crash in 1967 that ended her life. This film looks at the final years of her career.

Hailey Heisick, who was in Don’t Look, plays Jayne. That’s a tall order, to be perfectly frank. But this is pretty much the Lifetime version of Jayne’s life, minus the Lifetime budget, so it’s going to be all sleaze and drama. Which, come to think of it, that’s what so much of her life was.

It’s sensationalized. It’s exploitation. And then again, that’s also the type of press that Jayne played with to keep her name in the headlines, even after the roles got smaller.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Pennsylvania Hardcore (2014)

Despite this being a movie about Pennsylvania, my hometown of Pittsburgh got lumped in with Erie, a city 127.8 miles away. They showed Club Laga. Roboto and Graffiti, but that was about it, to be honest, outside of some still photography. Yes, despite two hundred interviews made for this film, the Steel City got the shaft. That’s alright. We’re kind of used to it.

This was made by Loren W. Lepre, who I am sure I was in the same ECW shows at Viking Hall as him, judging from his biography on IMDB. It’s great that someone made a movie about this, but basically, if you sat at Gooski’s and someone screamed at you about bands that they liked and no one else knows, this would be the same thing, minus the attitude, overwhelming cigarette smoke and oh yeah, we can’t go to bars any longer because we live in a nightmare hellscape.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

REPOST: Dragons of Camelot (2014)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally ran this review on May 12, 2020. It’s a great reminder that Mark Lester is still making movies. This was written by Paul Andolina. You can see more of his writing on Wrestling with Film and Is the Dad Alive?

Dragons of Camelot is not the type of movie I’d normally seek out. I have no interest in Arthurian Legends but the moment you put in a wrestler in a movie about King Arthur I am obligated to see it. In this case, that wrestler is NWA Power’s Thom Latimer.

Dragons of Camelot is a 2014 film directed by Mark Lester, the same guy that directed Class of 1984 and Class of 1999. It is about King Arthur’s evil sister, the sorceress Morgana, who seeks to control Camelot after Arthur’s death by the way of Dragons. Galahad is sent by King Arthur on his death bed to find Lancelot who is the only one worthy of wielding the legendary sword Excalibur.

Galahad comes across a band of thieves on his way to find Lancelot but they turn out to be Knights of the Round Table, one of them, Sir Bors, is played by Thom Latimer. They join up on their quest to find Lancelot and to reforge Excalibur which was destroyed by Morgana. Along the way they fight Morgana’s evil knights and not one but three dragons.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this movie a bit, mainly because it’s subject matter didn’t interest me. However, apart from some iffy acting from some of the characters, it was a decent sword and sorcery outing. I was really impressed by the dragons, they did a good job with their inclusion and even though they were digital creations they looked pretty cool. My favorite part of the entire movie is when they blow off a dragon’s head by shooting a flame arrow into its open mouth while it is inhaling to create its fire breath.

Thom Latimer looks like he could take any number of knights on in this film. He did a good job at being Sir Bors and I think he’s one of the few stand out parts of the film. I found it sort of odd that he threw his axe at the dragon like a goofball. The only other gripe I have with Sir Bors is that he is only in about half of the film. He gets taken out like a chump which was disappointing.

If you like sword and sorcery, you may find some enjoyment in this film but I think for most people it may be a skippable title. You can watch this on Amazon Prime if you subscribe to that service.

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014)

Once upon a time, the creative force known as Richard Stanley (HardwareColor Out of Space) got the opportunity to make his dream project: a big budget adaption of H.G. Wells’ The Island Of Doctor Moreau.

How would a somewhat quiet and totally creative man work within the studio system? Not well, it turns out.

Between witchcraft, natural disasters, changing actors and the sheer gall of stars like Brando and Val Kilmer, Stanley would be replaced within days of shooting his first few cans of film. And yet he’d never go away, somehow hiding amongst the many animals within the film, living within the heart of darkness itself.

Packed with interviews with stars Fairuza Balk, Marco Hofschneider and Rob Morrow, studio executives, crew members and even Stanley himself, the movie that emerges here — directed by David Gregory (Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al AdamsonMaster of Dark Shadows) — is so much better than the actual film that it discusses.

For what it’s worth, Stanley claims that this film is only sixty percent accurate, with some of the darker events simply glossed over. He also said that he never had four lumps of sugar in his tea, which will make much more sense once you watch this.

I’m biased, as I find Stanley to be a true genius. For more on his life, I recommend the documentary The Otherworld, which is beyond belief.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime or order it from Severin.