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Fright Night

Cosmic Fred

Fright Night is the 1985 answer to what I would do if I found out if my neighbor were a vampire. That answer of course is to contact your favorite Horror Host and have him lend you a helping hand in the destruction of this evil fiend. Problem being, of course, that most Horror Hosts are of a more non-violent demeanor, and want nothing to do with murdering Fright Night Movie posteryour neighbor, who is also the bad guy from The Princess Bride, and so is easy to hate. Now, maybe I’m speaking out of turn here, but, if you’re watching this film as part of the 4-movie Horror Unleashed collection, you should know, that it’s as cheap as it sounds, and in fact, does not feature the subtitles it declares so proudly that it does. Man, I really hope someone got fired for that one.

So they couldn’t get Vincent Price in the role of… Vincent Price basically, so instead they go with everybody’s favorite monkey-masked “thinks he’s so great from his first awesome film (How Green Was My Valley) when he was a kid that he can appear on Batman as a supervillain of his own creation” man, Roddy McDowall. Now, Roddy does a halfway decent job portraying the amalgamation of Vincent Price and Peter Cushing and Zacherle and whatever else someone told him to look at, but obviously, if this film starred myself, and I needed aid in a time a vampiric trouble, I would call on none other than the pragmatic and ingenious Mr. Lobo.

None of these beating-around-the-bush kinda explanations in order to maintain a facade of sanity, I would probably be bashing my fists into the Lobo household door, covered in blood and having just barely escaped the blood-thirsty fiend’s fangs. I wouldn’t be able to turn the knob because my bloody hands would be too slippery, but he would hear me and open the door. As I crawled inside, stammering at a psychotic pace, I know that instead of MrLobo010picking up a phone to call 911, Mr. Lobo would surely sit down and write out the little bits of words he is able to decipher from my ramblings and then formulate a plan and we would spring into action together, but after I took a shower and probably ate some pizza, for energy. Then it’s off to my house in the city, where my vampire neighbor is right on the other side of my walls. We would crawl through the small hole I dug into his house, and with wooden stakes and tons of crosses ready, we would find my neighbor, on the phone with the police, calling them about the psycho next door who had broken into his house through a hole in the wall, and while screaming about vampires, then proceeded to squirt ketchup all over the place and himself, then, jumped out the window, stole a car, and, well I think you’re catching on now. At this point, whatever I smoked would probably be wearing off and I’d offer an apology to Mr. Lobo and my apparently un-vampiric neighbor. Now, seeing as I live in Philly, I don’t think my neighbor would accept my apology, and I’d probably have to kill him anyway, but I’d at least allow Mr. Lobo to get in his car and drive away beforehand, thus sparing him the accomplice charge.

But thankfully, that is not the case in this film. Instead we get someone who is properly fed up with the masked killers chopping up virgins in modern cinema, a boy who doesn’t have any other choice and proclaims his belief in vampires with the cuteness of a 10 year old boy, and a girl who’s gonna start off with one husband, but then have him replaced with a much more handsome actor who actually gets along with Al Bundy rather than being the butt of his jokes. It’s all perfect 80’s horror fun, the likes of which we know from The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad, but with a tiny bit of class. The premise is so rich that you really do write the movie in your head and get surprised by the parts that weren’t in your own mental script. There aren’t any “OH, COME ON!!!” moments like in every other vampire movie that’s aware of the existence of vampires but somehow dismisses undeniable vampiric (I really like that word) activity, but there is a weird sex scene between a middle-aged vampire and a high school student that I can’t imagine anyone watching comfortably. Maybe that was their goal, but I’d rather just close my eyes and listen to the awesome soundtrack that sounds like it was done by the same guy who did the Law & Order theme.

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This film got a sequel in 1988 that contains one feature that this film does not that puts it streets ahead of it’s predecessor, and that’s a 1984 Space Shuttle pinball machine that’s missing the name on the side but is surely that game, one of the greatest in pinball history. Really, if you can transport yourself into the sequel, I suggest you make sure to get some play on that game, you shan’t be disappointed!

Friday the 13th Part 2

Cosmic FredAfter fully recuperating from my full-on Bruce Campbell fest of movie reviews, I thought it time to review a movie that unfortunately does NOT star Bruce Campbell. I know, there aren’t many, or at least not that I’d like to watch, but there are a few out there. Let’s see, my last review was The Evil Dead, so what would be the next step in review evolution? Well, obviously, it’s Friday The 13th Part 2!

FridayThat’s right folks, Friday The 13th Part 2, the greatest sequel to a movie where Kevin Bacon dies (as if Hollow Man 2 was even an option). Now, without getting into any spoilers, there are some things that you should know about by now even if you haven’t seen any Friday The 13th movies, and one of those things is that in the first movie, the famous Jason Vorhees we all know and love is NOT the killer, and I didn’t even need a paternity test to figure that out. That said, in this movie, Jason IS the killer, but not the as the hockey-masked and machete-wielding (he does use one twice though) psycho we all know and love, but as the killer from The Town That Dreaded Sundown, the ‘76 version, not that it matters, but it does. You may remember Jason from the first movie as the little boy in the water in that girl’s nightmare at the end (it’s pretty telegraphed, you’ll see it coming) and now the same girl is at the beginning of this movie. Now, maybe you enjoy the events of the previous film being completely ruined in the first five minutes of this movie, or maybe you expected this film to not be a practice in torturing and disrespecting it’s own audience. Oh, silly you.

friday-the-13th-part-2-03Now the part of this movie that is interesting is the fact that this film isn’t the corny stereotype characters who do incredibly stupid things that lead to their celebrated demise, but is actually a relatively decent portrayal of real people in what could be a real situation, and not some zombie killer who can teleport. Sure, it has it’s moments that no self-respecting film would portray, but on the whole, it follows the same tone as the first, and gives us a female protagonist to follow around who is relatable and not just some lucky virgin (more like a lucky un-virgin, bow chicka bow wow). She even runs at a decent pace, so none of that Texas Chainsaw Massacre fake tripping crap like we saw from Leather Face, and none of that fake Barbara tripping when they are coming to get her stuff (I’m pretty sure this actress actress just actually trips when she gets out of the car, so yeah, none of that fake stuff), just honest pursuit and attack-foiling methods that don’t feel pathetic or forced. Or, ok, maybe they do, but they’re still relatively, ok maybe, ummmm, it’s better than horrible?

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Look, it’s the slasher genre. If you wanna watch a film about teenagers getting chased by a guy with a pillow cover on his head, you certainly can’t do better than this film. Where else can you see a girl hide under a bed and almost escape from the killer but then pees herself because she sees a rat and the killer sees her pee so he knows she’s there and somehow, he still manages to fuck up stabbing her with a pitchfork. Oh right, no spoilers, whatever. Here’s a spoiler, the ending is a stretch. You’re either gonna laugh or be the guy arguing with your laughing friends that “Jason is like a retarded child, of course he could confuse a teenage girl with his decapitated mother for a few seconds!”. Oh hey, look, it’s that guy who we thought was dead who just appeared out of nowhere, literally nowhere. Now, another thing of note is that Jason’s method of murdering is always inventive and resourceful, but we all know and love him for his machete work. But the cover art to Part 1 (which isn’t Jason) and Part 3 show the silhouette of someone with just a big knife, as was his more common modus operandi anyways, HOWEVER, the silhouette for Part 2, while looking very similar to the first film’s poster, actually has an AXE in his hand! Yeah, an axe.

Does he use an axe? Even once?

NO. NO AXE IN THE ENTIRE FILM.

But guess what this film does have? Pinball. If your movie has pinball or cats in it, you earn a special star in my book. It also has two shuffle alleys, which, while not giving them the extra star, does put a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart, though the one had me thinking it was a pinball machine, next to the KISS pinball, and I’ve read that there is also a Pokerino pinball somewhere in the film, but have not seen it for myself. That said, go grab this film and give it a watch and tell me where it is, and I will love your forever. Peace out dawgs.
Note the KISS pinball machine

 

The Evil Dead

Cosmic Fred

poster evil deadIn my climactic installment of a weeklong litanious set of reviews of movies starring the colossus of clout (the colossus of clout!) Bruce Campbell, I have chosen to take it back to where it all began: The Evil Dead, the ultimate experience in grueling terror. Possibly the greatest depiction of some of the greatest clichès in horror and done with a budget that challenges Clerks for the greatest cheapest film ever made (naw, Little Shop Of Horrors still reigns supreme, god bless you, Roger Corman). It made Bruce Campbell a star (not really) gave Sam Raimi a career (sort of) and still stands among the most eccentric horror B-movies, having an almost Plan 9 From Outer Space vibe that leaves the average viewer feeling left out of the joke that they aren’t getting. Well fear not, huddled masses, I have come to safely explain the nuances of a film that I would gladly take a bullet for. Please make me take a bullet for it. Please?

I don’t want to insult anybody here, but if there’s someone out there who took The Evil Dead at face value and actually considers it “the ultimate experience in grueling terror” should get their head checked. Right from the get go, this film has all the markings of a bunch of nerds got together and made a horror movie they’ve wanted to make since theybrucie were fifteen. The acting is atrocious right off the bat, and is practically at the edge of being self-aware. I mean, really, the Brad in this movie is more pathetically played than Brad from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Barry Bostwick was doing that shit on purpose. Maybe it’s out of place for me to voice a personal opinion here (everything I write is scientifically derived from a movie review formula given to me by Chinese magicians who stole it from the ancient temple of Cinema Obscura) but I’m very disappointed that this film didn’t get a midnight movie party madness with yelling at the screen and throwing toast when Bruce makes his horrible toast. It fit so perfectly. I really wish that had happened, but then again there’s no musical numbers, so no dancing in the aisles.

Does the film have any faults? Well how do you judge faults in a film full of fractures of a funny fancy? I mean, the piece of the bridge falling off that was obviously not part of the bridge, the moon with it’s square outline, the “an animal? hahaha…” line, it’s all ungodly bad, but in just the right way. There are some bad BAD films out there folks, that do not entertain in any way and leave you feeling like you just watched nothing happen, which is kinda scary in itself, but still not enjoyable to watch. I think most films are afraid of seeming silly, so instead they pack in boring dialogue and try for realism by having nothing interesting happen.

biteEvil Dead’s success is spawned from the inches it stands away from being a cartoon. The idea of being just under over-the-top is nowhere to be found, as Deadites screech and scream and makes noises that would make Marilyn Manson blush. The makeup is amazing, and is one of the few elements in the film that isn’t cheap and humorous, but actually kinda terrifying and very uncomfortable looking. The film actually does turn into a cartoon at the end with some Dynamation the likes of which no Ray Harryhausen film has ever seen. In fact, the end of this film really does turn into something that I’m pretty sure had never really been seen before. It’s like they took the director from an Adam West Batman episode and then had an actor who had actually been tortured and abused, with burns and blood from Ted Raimi’s hand coming out of the floorboards and gashing Bruce’s face (look ma, real blood!). The looks on Bruce’s face and the noises and shadows that surround him virtually immerse you in the surreal realm of a demon’s dollhouse. That’s really the best way to describe the kind of shenanigans that occur throughout the film, imagine you’re a demonic otherworldly creature whose presence is yanked into our dimension but is stuck in the vicinity of this terrible cabin in the middle of the woods, and now, here come some stupid teenagers to stay in the cabin for a weekend of sex, alcohol, and ignoring one’s sister, what would you do?

It’s not the relentless insanity of the second film, or the action-adventure nature of Army of Darkness. The Evil Dead is a pure horror movie whose reputation is only surpassed by the glory of it’s viewing. Really, I don’t think you can over-hype this movie as the ultimate B-horror film. It’s so much more entertaining than Plan 9, and plus, it’s in color!

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My Name is Bruce

Cosmic Fred

It only makes sense for an actor who has namebrucemade a living playing practically himself in every movie to make a film that plays with the fourth wall. My Name Is Bruce is less like Being John Malkovich and more like Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. It’s the goofy answer to all the goofy characters Bruce has played with such unabashed hamminess and a Han-Solo-like charm. Maybe you’re not a fan and you find this kind of Peter Venkman attitude off-putting. Well, too bad for you, Mr. “I’m so fancy you already know I’m in the fast lane from L.A. to Tokyo”.

It all starts with some kids in a car talking about the one’s love for Bruce Campbell movies, because one out of every two kids are Bruce fans, and that’s a statistic I didn’t just make up or base solely off of the opening scene in this movie. It’s a great opening scene and allows you to feel like Captain America in The Avengers where you can actually understand the things they’re referencing! Some cheap laughs abound as Bruce acts as a brutish version of himself in an over-the-top, self-deprecating smorgasbord of Three Stooges inspired comedy that’s a little too much to bear, but entertains sufficiently. Maybe it’s all a little too Last Action Hero in it’s delivery, but maybe that won’t bother you. I mean, I hope that won’t bother you. Like, c’mon, lighten up man, what the hell?

Ijt all starts off great, like a new version of Fright Night taken right to the edge of good taste and then shoved off with a bulldozer. No vampires in this deal, just a Chinese angel of death that chops people’s heads off before the main character (the one who isn’t Bruce) can get a little action. Obviously the next step you take when your town is being haunted by a demonic Chinese angel of decapitations is to call Bruce Campbell, what with Vincent Price not being alive anymore. Bruce doesn’t get that they’re serious, and they don’t get that Bruce is joking, and traditional movie misunderstandings abound until the goings ons are made obviously out of Bruce’s comfort zone. Then it turns from schmalzing to yelling as our hero’s demeanor turns sour as he comes face to face with the evil he’s only ever really faced when it was Ted Raimi dressed up in drag.

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The film falters around the latter part where it goes from being a send up of trashy bad movies and instead just starts being a trashy bad movie itself, focusing on bogus love chemistry and bogus rises to nobility that no one asked for and no one cares about and were just forced into a script that spent 60 pages not giving a crap. Nobody came to this movie to see an exaggerated Bruce Campbell character find meaning and reason in the world that has exaggerated and meaningless characters fighting a bizarre, mystical creature from a cave (mineshaft, cave, it’s all holes in rock). I dunno why they didn’t stick it out to the end with some crazy and cooky ending that would make everyone laugh and cheer and not take itself seriously at all, but whatever, what’s done is done and it’s still a great movie despite it’s lackluster climax.

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Just like Man With A Screaming Brain, this is another Bruce-helmed venture, because of course, who else could direct Bruce starring as himself? In fact, the small town in the film was a set that was built on Mr. Campbell’s actual home, on a large empty part of his ranch property. If it had been me, I’d have made the film about a haunted water park and build one of those on my property instead, but then again, I’m smarter than everyone else in the world, so, it’s cruel of me to expect others to match my level of wisdom. They do their best though, god bless ‘em.

Holy Cow, ONE MORE REVIEW TO GO!!! Which Bruce Campbell starring film will be our grand finale? Mercy me, I do declare, the suspense is enough to send one into a fainting spell.

Bubba Ho-Tep

Cosmic FredIt’s Friday night, and the mood is right, to get freaky with some Bubba Ho-Tep, possibly the high water point of Bruce Campbell’s acting abilities on film. Bubba-poster yeahTo compact this film into a general description is to sound like an insane person and probably keep people from hanging out with you. In summary, it’s the time honored classic tale of a man who might be Elvis is rotting away in a retirement home with his friend who is JFK but in a black man’s body and they’re being attacked by a mummy who has a taste for old people’s souls. Ya know, that, thing.

From the mind that brought you four Phantasm movies and three BeastMaster things (he wasn’t actually involved in II and III, but I’ll blame him anyway) comes a heartfelt tale about what happens before you die. Not in the stabby stab “but I had my whole life ahead of me! NOOOO!!!” way, but rather in the “you know, Donald Trump offered my grandson a job yesterday in my front yard last night,” kinda slowly losing your mind because you’re not Tony Bennett, NONE OF US ARE TONY BENNETT!!! Seriously though, that guy can sing, and is still doing so at 86!!!! So yeah, that’s amazing, but I got news for you folks, that aint gonna be most of us. For what you are going to look and feel like in those golden years (whop whop whop) look no further than today’s hero Sebastian Haff (or Elvis, depending on how you look at it).  He’ll let you hear him say life’s taking him nowhere (Ang-gel!).

In a genre filled with over the top theatrics and cheap thrills, Don Coscarelli has kept it real by making it fresh with his genius ingenuity stuffed into tales of imagination roasted over flames of fascination. But hey, don’t take my word for it… or wait, do, since that’s why you’re here. There’s some fun in having a different director for each film in a series, but Don is the George Romero variety of filmmaker who gets to write and direct all the films in his series of weird horror that started with his 1979 film Phantasm. Other than The Beastmaster, which he only made the first one of, Don hasn’t done much of note outside his Phantasms other than the not-so-long-ago movie John Dies At The End (which i still haven’t seen, shame shame I know) and of course, the ever-loved Bubba Ho-Tep.

bubba_hotep_Ok, chances are you’ve already heard about this movie from a friend who may have also tried to show some of it to you and you thought A. What the hell is this? and/or B. Why am I watching this? Well, for starters, this is a movie starring Bruce “Elvis” Campbell and the legendary Ossie “I’m famous for actual good acting” Davis as two old men in an old man buddy comedy that puts I’m Not Rappaport to shame. As for why, I’m glad you asked. This film has all the tones of an old man coughing a joke to you while starting to laugh and cough harder to the point where you’re more concerned about the old man coughing than the stupid joke you had already heard before. This is also assuming that you’re a decent human being and aren’t standing there screaming “DIE OLD MAN, DIE!!!” and you actually did care about this old timer’s health. If not, you probably aren’t going to get into this movie. This film is for that crazy part in all our brains that reminds us that we will always be the heroes in our heads and hearts, no matter how crazy or hate filled we may be. It’s a heartstrings tugging tale of redemption and humanity told through the eyes of those forgotten but not yet gone. It’s also about a mummy.bubba_hotep_monster

Bubba Ho-Tep is the name of a Texas mummy who comes to life at night and lives off of the souls it sucks from unsuspecting senior citizens and it’s up to a man who is either Elvis gone into hiding as an Elvis impersonator to escape the perils of success, or he’s an Elvis impersonator who’s kinda wedged his brain, with some help from a little dementia, into believing he’s the real Elvis. Either way, his career ended after he broke his hip falling off a stage during a show, and now he’s hanging out with an elderly black gentleman who is either actually John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of these United States of ‘Merica who was secretly turned into a black man by the government to get rid of him instead of just making him dead, or he’s a crazy old man and, well I think you get it. Maybe that helps you understand the kind of movie this is, or maybe you’re more confused now than before. Either way, I’ve done my job, because we both know you either already love this movie, or are looking forward to loving it thanks to this review and are already putting your boots on and grabbing your coat and hat while still somehow reading this in order to go buy the film. Either way, I’m a happy man, relatively at least.

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Maniac Cop

Cosmic Fred

It’s day 4 of my Bruce Campbell movie review week, and already, the effects are starting to show. I’ve been having shortness of breath, an uncontrollable urge to say “Groovy!” every time I’m getting dressed, and I’ve changed my cat’s name from Bruce to Ash to Brisco to Lord Bowler and finally to That Character From Congo Who Dies In The First Five Minutes. It’s like a special part of Hell that Pinhead has saved just for me, and it’s full of Bruce…

…and I love it.

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I’m a Bruce maniac, which is a better type of maniac to be than the titular subject of today’s movie of the day (remember kids, whenever somebody puts this movie on, scream real loud!!!! AAHHHHHHHH!!!! (for the entirety of the film!)), Maniac Cop, the 1988 horror movie that delivers with all cylinders firing. No, it isn’t a topical documentary about what happens when police accountability is non-existent, leaving police to kill without consequences, but rather, a fictional story about a cop who believed in shooting first and asking questions later. Yes, fictional, because all the people he kills are white, and therein lies the fantastical part of this story. The story of a cop who lost his mind and started killing innocent people… who were WHITE!!!

The film really does have two shining stars, both in the fact that they’re two amazing men, and the fact that they have practically identical screen time. Tom Atkins, who is probably the best hard-edged cop with a heart of gold actor of all time, and of course BRUCE. Young looking Bruce. Bruce plays an asshole cop who’s cheating on his wife which makes her think that he’s the killer cop and, well, things don’t go too well. Throughout the film you TomAtkinsget dialogue cheesy enough to make Quentin Tarantino blush, but it nicely enforces the kind of super cop paradigm we’re supposed to already know and love, and accept. I dunno, maybe the actors just didn’t rehearse their lines enough, but some of the deliveries are a little bit like a plow going through a Kirstie Alley look-a-like convention, enjoyable as it may be to our carnal senses, you can’t help but grimace a little. Speaking of grimacing, Robert Z’Dar plays the titular role and has the kind of chin that probably make Bruce’s chin run an hide in its dressing room for two hours (yes, Bruce’s chin has it’s own dressing room). Rob would go on to have a great role in Tango & Cash, the Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell masterpiece that is partially responsible for giving Jack Palance a great year.

 

I also need to mention Richard Roundtree, otherwise known as Shaft, now as the police commissioner, William Smith, whose voice could crush a rock and who has appeared in several awesome crazy cheesy movies that puts him near to my heart, and finally, Ken Lerner, who I only know and love as the sleazy lawyer in The Running Man and the sleazy lawyer in Robocop 2, in this movie he plays a sleazy mayor and is good at it.

Bruce Again
A point of grimace to be pointed out, the violence. Sure, maybe it’s a little tame by your horror-crazed-killer standards, but they really go at it with the knives in this movie. Lots of cutting. Maybe that’s a spoiler, but screw it, I’m letting you know up front here folks; throats, faces, wrists, lots of blood and cuts and stabs and dead bodies hanging from conveniently placed load bearing fixtures. Obviously that’s a part of what we’re all here for, but I still prefer an arrow through Kevin Bacon’s throatish region to all this realistic slicing hooplah. IT’S HOOPLAH I TELLS YAH! HOOPLAH!

All around a great B-movie cop-drama meets horror slasher mash up dealie. Think Friday the 13th combined with some cop movie from the seventies where a rookie cop is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and has to prove his innocence while being chased down by the very law men he swore his oath with that I should know the name of but do not know due to lack of knowledge and interest in said subject. There’s not much to be said really, its a cop who is a maniac and it develops from there. Maniac-Cop oooooh scarySimple but effective and and very much demonstrating the traits of the genres it’s representing. It’s fun when directors aren’t afraid to let their inspirations bleed through the canvas so to speak, or when they aren’t good enough in their skills to hide it more than they let get by. B-movies are notorious for being ripoffs of whatever was a hit at the time anyway, and it’s this kind of market that has sustained horror franchises well beyond the silver screen and into the home video department, leading to whole companies of home video only horror films. Maniac Cop is a perfect clichè popcorn at home good/bad movie to put on with friends and laugh, love, learn, scream, run, watch, and yes even maybe cry a little togethter before heading off to your local police protest rally demanding police accountability. Hell, you might as well glue the movie to your protest sign in order to draw attention to the similarities of these victims of the modern age to the other victims of the modern age. Or maybe write a letter to Obama asking him to make all cops watch this movie but to make sure to have someone explain what they are supposed to be learning from the viewing, and to not cheer in the wrong places. Then we’ll have our Utopian paradise. Maybe. Or not. Ugh, even in the future nothing works.

Bruce is shirtless in this movie by they way. Sorry, I should have just opened with that but it kinda makes anything else to be said about the movie seem kinda irrelevant. Again, sorry for the delay. SHIRTLESS!!!

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Screams In The Night by NIGHT DEMON

The Official Video for Screams In The Night by NIGHT DEMON was released today and it’s rad! It features comic book art by the very talented James Dufresne and colored by our very own Dixie Dellamorto!

il_570xN.656197132_o03tKeep an eye out for James Dufresne’s upcoming comic book called Blood Sacrifice.

Until then, you can check out more killer art in his Zine called Dream Evil Vol.1; Movie Monsters, Maniacs and Madmen available HERE!

The Man With The Screaming Brain

Cosmic FredThe Man With The Screaming Brain!!! Part 3 in my week-long gush over the only man in the world I would die for who isn’t associated with a Pinball Machine in any way (no Army of Darkness pinball!??! what the hell, world?) Mr. Bruce “My Name Is Bruce” 51SRj3mJUOLCampbell. The film that features our man in his feature-film directorial debut. He also stars, produces, and co-writes this gem of a Sci-Fi feature made possible by cheap Bulgarian crews and the fall of Communism. It went into production immediately following Alien Apocalypse wrapped up, and if you keep your eyes open, you can spot some similar cast members in various roles, now getting to use their actual voices instead of being dubbed over. Boy, can you imagine that? Having a complete stranger stuffing themselves inside your mouth? Really makes ya think.

Joining Bruce in this adventure are Stacey Keach, because they couldn’t get Cheech Marin or Joaquin Phoenix I assume, wearing a mustache so that I can actually pay attention to his character instead of starring at his… you know. We also have Ted Raimi, younger bro of Sam Raimi, you know, the guy who played the news reporter in Maniac Cop. It said on his IMDB page that he was involved with something called Spader-Man I think? Was that some sort of vehicle for James Spader that I never heard about? You’ll know Ted…those Spader-Man movies along with the guy in the costumes of the hideous things at the end of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. He’s a comic genius from the same background as Bruce with the Stooges physical comedy influence that equates pain to laughter. There’s some other actors in the film, but they don’t really matter, aside from the cab driver guy who really does a good job and deserves credit but not enough for me to go look up his weirdly spelled name. Sorry dude.

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The film follows a template created by crushing the scripts to Frankenstein and The Man With Two Brains together and welding them in place with a flame thrower. As much as I wish the film wasn’t so obviously derivative of those movies, it really doesn’t matter when it’s a B-movie, and moreso just adds to the fun of cheap TV sci-fi horror, which exists sometimes for the sole purpose of someone saying “what if it was a combination of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Texas Chain Saw Massacre?” (that was a great film by the way). The problem with this movie though really lies in it’s production, and a little bit in the fact that they had been trying to make this film for 20 years. It just feels like a movie out of time with a budget that forces it to look like a joke too often for you to ever get engrossed enough to enjoy the fun even with a suspension of disbelief that has been honed and stretched well beyond the normal person’s limits. I just wish I could see the movie they had intended it to be, with a proper budget, real credits, taking place in East L.A., featuring a Bruce with a slightly thinner jaw, and a slightly brighter future. Oh Bruce, if only you had followed you heart and run away with me to our imaginary island and drank daiquiris with me on the beach.

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Its enjoyable for the craziness and to remember that this is how some people make a living, but I can’t hail it as a B-movie masterpiece as I wish I could if it had been the film it had planned on being. Instead, I watch it whenever I haven’t seen a gypsy kill anyone in a while, which, though I might try to act cool and pretend I see gypsy murders all the time, it’s just not true, and in fact, the number of gypsy murders being witnessed in person by myself is terribly lower than you could ever get me to admit to unless you use torturous methods for my confession (I wonder what music I could play for kids in 1985 that would make them think that Lord Voldemort is melting their brains?). But where was I? A film that’s a little roughly assembled that probably could have used another coat of paint, but if you’re into outsider art in celluloid form then you can appreciate the hilarious craziness that’s packed into this excuse for people to get paid to act crazy. Oh, and Ted Raimi. Ted Raimi makes this movie good, and is probably the best part of this movie outside of the awesomeness that emanates from Bruce’s body in a constant stream, and flows stronger as he mugs for the camera. If you can believe Bruce and Ted’s acting, you can enjoy this film, just don’t expect any of the sets to look better than an elementary school production of a very tame version of Frankenstein.

So there’s another notch on the ol’ Bruce Campbell movie review belt, which is actually just an extension cord, so I just draw notches with a green sharpie so that the cord doesn’t get ruined. What’s next in the bottom barrel scrapings of an actor whose even most buoyant work barely reaches the bottom of the top? What’s next INDEED!

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Alien Apocalypse

Cosmic FredWhat’s this? Another review!? But why? A rip in the fabric of time? Well, since I accidentally absorbed too much nuclear energy from that downed submarine and then quantum leapt about a month into the future, thus missing a month of posts, I’ve decided to dedicate time to a week long of catch-up movie reviews that all center around one of my favorite stars of the smaller cinema, Mr. Bruce Campbell. So hop on board my invisible spaceship and we’ll blast off on another adventure in the world of Sci-Fi made-for-TV Movies!

Brucie

A long time ago, in a galaxy that was the one we we’re in….

Come with me to a place where aliens from other planets are taking over our planet (that’s Earth) and enslaving humanity – a concept so rich in imagination and irony that you’ve not only seen probably at least two movies with that as the plot, but you’ve maybe thought of your own theories about what could lay, or lie, out there beyond the stars, be it weird looking kids in a disco ball space ship playing synths like late seventies era Tangerine Dream, or hideous killing machines without mercy that physically resemble insects but emotionally resemble cats.

Alien ApocalypseNow you might think you’ve seen it all when it comes to evil aliens from outer space, or maybe you think you know more than you do, or perhaps vice versa. Either way, you’ve never seen the gem that is Alien Apocalypse. You haven’t seen giant termite aliens harvesting our planet for its delicious wood (huh huh, delicious wood, huh huh) and you’ve never seen the Bulgarian countryside looking so nice. Made with actors that had heavy accents, the film therefore had to be completely dubbed by English voiceover actors – except of course for our man Friday, Bruce “The-Star-Of-This-Film” Campbell, and his co-star Renee “Hey-it’s-Gabrielle-from-Xena!” O’Connor. They, being Americans, get to keep their voices, and star as two NASA people from a ship that came back to the wrong ant farm. Ok, Ants aren’t Termites, but are Termites Ants? And why am I capitalizing Ants and Termites? Do I for one welcome our insect overlords? That is yet to be seen!

So it all goes down in the woods of Oregon, exactly where one would expect the battle for the liberation of Earth to be fought. Bruce and Renee are captured and used as slaves to move wood from over here to over there, and you get to watch two actors try to make arbitrary wood-moving look interesting and like something that would break a man’s spirits. Yet again, we have a film that knows its limits, and like Iggy Pop’s singing, deals within them rather than fighting them (until that early nineties stuff where he was trying to sing like Perry Farrell or something). The jokes are abundant and uncompromisingly cruel (who thought decapitation could be so hilarious?) but don’t compare to the simple humor of bad wigs, bad acting, dubbed dialogue, and actors who very obviously look at their marks on the ground before stepping up to them. Is that bad? Of course not. If you can’t follow the simple joys of a zero-budget medical practice (the only ailment anyone has is a bad back, which is easy to fix without even much acting) then what are you doing watching this movie in the first place? It’s all about getting these simple joys out of what movies should be about; action, drama, aliens, laser cannons, green blood, and of course, a love story so forced between actors with so little chemistry, you’ll want to pop in Twilight. HAHAHA. That’s just a joke. Though I have heard that Twilight DVDs, when broken, make excellent cutting tools. That’s just a hint for any potential Twilight fans who are reading this, which I’m trying to actively keep at zero.
Cool alienbros

So this is yet another movie where Bruce “The Chin” Campbell is the whole reason a movie is watchable for me. Where terrible special effects, corny dialogue, and sets that were made with the budget of an inner city high school are all simply aids in the Stooge-esque vaudevillian ‘back-of-the-crowd’ antics that everyone’s favorite man with a chainsaw hand performs with the seemingly slightest of ease to the joy and glee of all us Bruce worshipers, who all think about what about could have been if only we’d been a little older, a little taller, had bigger tits, and maybe had been a woman in the first place. I tell ya folks, and if I haven’t made this clear enough yet, then you’re not really reading these, I don’t care how bad the TV movie may be, if it stars Bruce Campbell, I will watch it repeatedly. Which reminds me……..

Bruce and some chick

Terminal Invasion

Cosmic Fred

On my death bed, there are a few things I will refuse to repent for. My love of eating Barbeque while on roller skates. The years of my time spent learning everything in the universe about Pinball, including a portal to the disco pinball dimension. And most importantly, my undying allegiance to the greatest B-Movie actor to ever walk the face of the earth, Bruce Campbell.

Bruce Campbell

I will watch any movie that Bruce is in, and that includes supporting roles like in Crimewave or Maniac Cop, as well as cameos like Escape From L.A., The Majestic, Sky High, or Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. The guy made playing Spider-Man games on PS2 a joy while he talked you through the controls. He feels like the coolest person you’ve ever met, while at the same time identifying as a complete loser. He’s a Jack of all Trades, A writer/producer/director/actor who did backflips in order to land a role in Brisco County Jr, and made big chins cool despite Jay Leno’s influence. He is hailed as the king of the horror-comedy genre’s greatest trilogy ever to grace color film, The Evil Dead trilogy, and yet he wears another crown, as the king of Sci-Fi channel’s (now SyFy channel) TV Movies – which is why we are all gathered here today.

Let’s go back a ways in time now, to see a channel known as Sci-Fi, who had been filling their airtime by showing cheap horror/sci-fi films, but were having trouble with exorbitant licensing fees for these movies and so had decided to spend their money instead on making their own cheap horror/sci-fi films themselves for almost the same amount of cash. And so the film Terminal Invasion was birthed into existence, with commercial breaks, to an audience that greatly appreciated it. It’s success helped mark the way for sci-fi’s original programing onslaught that followed near after. But why should that matter to you? You just want to watch a movie. Who cares about how well it did. Who really cares?! WHY DOES ANYTHING MATTER!!?!?!??!!

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Terminal Invasion was directed by Sean S Cunningham, of Last House On The Left and Friday The 13th fame. The story is derivative of a Twilight Zone episode, but what the hell isn’t? Using Bruce Campbell starring as the criminal hunk, and Rom’s wife and Bajoran hottie as the leading lady who can act better than anyone else in the film, they set out on a combination of Night of the Living Dead, The Thing, that Twilight Zone episode, and some M. Night Shyamalan movie. It’s obviously cheap, but don’t let that dampen the mood. Cheap aliens and shitty fake blood are classics of the B-Movie horror genre. Plus you get to see Jason Jones of The Daily Show give a pretty darn good shot at a military guy and really hit you in the feels.

It’s not great cinema, but it knows what it’s going for and nails it all. Not that there aren’t a few missteps, like where you feel as if you’re looking at a scene made with the specific intent to spend no money. But if every B-Movie could spend more money on themselves, I’m guessing they’d be a lot less fun and full of less laughs and hilariousness.

Terminal Invasion 2002

I mean, you can have a movie that’s trying to be funny and isn’t (i.e. Jerry Lewis movies) and you can have horror films that are trying not to be funny, but are (i.e. Plan 9 From Outer Space) and then there’s the ones who know it’s hilarious and go for it, with no care for how ridiculous they look and are actually probably a little proud of it.Bruce Campbell is the king of this third type of film. He is a muppet of an actor, practically mugging the entire time.His acting coaches were the Three Stooges, and he wears his handsome face like a nerd in drag.In this film he proves that he’s the perfect man to helm the ‘just under over the top’ mentality.

So don’t walk, RUN! to your couch, to sit and watch Terminal Invasion – a film you could probably have made on a weekend with your friends at a warehouse in the winter.