Monday, December 31, 2012

No Apocalypse in UH-OH LET'S GO RETRO!

Well, December 21st came and went and there were no earthquakes.  No asteroids, meteors or comets colliding with the planet.  The ever elusive Nibiru did not suddenly make itself known to us before smashing us to oblivion.  There were no zombies, no plagues (unless you count this damn flu that is kicking everyone's ass in Central Massachusetts right now).  There was no rapture and there were certainly no signs that this big ol' blue marble we call home was about to explode, implode or any other kind 'plode.  In is going to go on, just as it has for millions of years here on Planet Earth.   Yes.  Millions.  I'm counting the Dinosaurs.

So how am I celebrating the New Year this year?  Well, I've been going pretty solid on a retro kick lately.  For Christmas, I received some fantastic OOP horror movies such as Microwave Massacre, The Willies, Slaughterhouse Rock and Gourmet Zombie Chef From Hell...among others.  Those will be getting reviewed in due time.  Plus I've still got a pretty solid back catalog of films that need reviewing.  Here's hoping 2013 is a little more lenient with time!

Also, I've been rediscovering my love for video games....particularly retro video games.  This kicked into high gear when Nintendo Power published it's final issue this month after almost TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF PUBLICATION!!!!  NP was a huge part of my childhood and it's sent me on a rediscovery of the wonders of retro gaming.  Some of you may know of a short lived blog that I had started up called The Dungeon of Vestron.  It was meant to be the video game sibling to this site's original incarnation, The Wizard of Vestron.  I'm considering melding a bit of Dungeon here onto Midnight Cinephile.  After all, I did spend MANY a late night playing video games while watching horror movies on TV as well.  It was one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday night as a kid.  We'll see what develops there!

I truly hope that you've all had a MONSTROUS holiday season.  This year has been Midnight Cinephile's biggest so far.  Okay, well technically it's MC's first....but I'm counting it's time as WOV as well.  So thank you all for continuing to read my tiny little microcosm of a corner in the deep dark basement of the internet.  I hope you'll continue to drop by for more goodness in 2013!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Santa Claus - Possibly The Creepiest Film Ever.

Santa Claus
Directed by Rene Cardona
Starring Jose Elias Moreno, Cesáreo Quezadas 'Pulgarcito', José Luis Aguirre 'Trotsky'  & Armando Arriola

Tag Lines 
An Enchanting World of Make Believe!

Bursting upon our BIG SCREEN in all the colors of the rainbow... a prize-winning blue ribbon treat for old and young alike! Here's something for the whole family to see together!

See All the Weird and Wonderful Characters of Make-Believe! The Fantastic Crystal Work-Room of the Happy Elves! The Fabulous Realm of the Candy-Stick Palaces!

At Last a Movie That's All About Him!

Better Than a Visit From Saint Nick Himself!

No Alternative Titles

Oh man.  I don't know where to start with this one.  In the grand tradition of extremely messed up Christmas stuff, we get Santa Claus.  A Mexican film from 1959.  This absolutely gets classified under the "must-see" category of bad Christmas movies.  Where else are you going to see Santa Claus fighting a red spandex clad demon?

It's Pitch!!!!!
In this wonky Christmas trashterpiece, Lucifer sends Pitch, a red devil to Earth to cause children to behave badly.... henceforth disrupting Christmas.  Santa, whose palace is basically a giant hovering UFO palace spies on Pitch's activities through some extremely fucked up devices that I am assuming are possibly bio-mechanical.  There is a telescope with an eyeball on the end, there is a radar/parabolic ear - with a friggin EAR on it! - and quite possibly the creepiest device is a God-knows-what with a giant pair of lips on it.  It looks like some kind of fucked up alien blowjob device for giants.  Santa is one sick bastard, I'll tell you what.  I don't even want to get into the
Creepy Merlin helps Creepy Santa.
fact that there are no elves.  Nope....apparently Santa's taken children from Earth to work at his shop/palace.  On them kids on the side of the milk carton?  Santa took them.  Freak.

Before Santa goes to Earth, he needs some help from his assistant, Merlin.  Yep.  You read that right.  Merlin.  Most powerful wizard in all the world (yes even more powerful than Harry Potter!), once most trusted adviser to King Arthur is now Santa's assistant.  Bet ya didn't see that once coming, did ya? Oh it gets even better:  Not only does Santa have Merlin squirreled away in his floating palace of mysterious wonders, but he's also got Vulcan in there!  Not the planet, or the pointy eared species from Star Trek.  I'm of course referring to the Roman God of Beneficial and Hindering Fire.....aka the Greek God Hephaestus.
What the hell is this?  Santa's Gloryhole?

This is one film that simply has to be seen to be believed.  There is just so much whacked out imagery going on that it's impossible to accurately describe how wonky it truly is.  If you are a fan of not only bad cinema, but bad Christmas cinema, then you owe it to yourself to see this one.  Some may find it a bit of a tough watch, but if you're in the right mindset (and have plenty of egg nog) then you'll be all set!

Midnight Tally

Body Count:  Nope.  Though I do wonder what has become of those child slaves that Santa keeps!

Boob Count:  Of course not, you perverts!

Monster Count:  Well, we've got Pitch.  He's a dude wearing a red spandex devil suit with red facepaint.  I think that counts.

Final Thoughts

I'm not going to lie, this one had me wondering more than once what the hell the filmmakers were thinking about.  The whole giant floating palace full of child workers and bio-mechanical devices seemed like some kind of low rent fever dream that I might have had after eating a bad Swiss Colony cheese & meat platter.  Yet, I can't help but find a certain wonky charm about it.  This would make a good double bill with Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.

Final Rating

Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians - Tripods.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians
Directed by Nicholas Webster
Starring John Call, Leonard Hicks, Vincent Beck, Victor Stiles & Pia Zadora

Tag Lines
Blast off for Mars... with Santa and a pair of Earth kids! Science-Fun-Fiction at its height!

Santa Claus saves Christmas for the Children of the World!

Santa Kidnapped by the Martians! Out-of-this-world fun 'n' two Earth Kids are whisked away with him to Mars!

SEE: The Martians Kidnap Santa! Santa's North Pole Workshop! The Fantastic Martian Toy Factory! Earth Kids Meeting with Martian Kids! Space-ship Journey from Earth to Mars! Santa Turn Mars-Robot Into a Mechanical Toy!

Santa Brings Christmas Fun to Mars!

Alternate Titles

Santa Claus Defeats The Aliens - USA
Joulupukki valloittaa Marsin (Santa Claus Conquers Mars) - Finland
Jultomten fixar allt! (Santa Does It All!) - Sweden
Le père Noël contre les martiens (Santa Claus Against The Martians) - France
Ο αρης εναντιον της γης (Mars Against The Earth) - Greece
Santa Claus contra los marcianos (Santa Clause Against The Martians) - Venezuela
Swiety Mikolaj wyrusza na podboj Marsa (Santa Claus Goes On To Conquer Mars) - Poland

Voldar is such a dick!

Theater 3000.  I had seen quite a few episodes of MST3K back in the day, but nothing had prepared me for the brain melting lunacy of Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.  Over the next few years, I waited for a repeat of the episode so I could tape it.  Yes, that's right, I said tape it.  This was in the days of VCR's.  There were no Tivo.  No Netflix and no You Tube, Amazon, iTunes or other streaming media formats.  I had to scour the TV guide looking for the episode and then manually hit the record button when it aired at 3 o'clock early one Sunday morning.  Supposedly my VCR could be programmed to record at a certain time, but it never worked.
Momar, Kimar, Girmar and Bomar!

The plot is the stuff of bad movie legend.  The children of Mars are in trouble because they do not have their own individuality and they're not having enough fun.  So the Martian leader Kimar decides to kidnap Santa Claus to bring joy to the children of Mars.  Unfortunately, Kimar can't tell the difference between the fake Santas and the real Santa, so first they kidnap two Earth children to help them locate the real Kris Kringle.

Santa and the kids set up shop on Mars and make a toy factory, which gets sabotaged by the jack ass martian Voldar, who tries repeatedly to kill Santa.  What a douche bag.  Of course being a children's movie, all ends well, with the help of the goofy Dropo, who is so enamored with Santa when he arrives that he starts to dress like him and act like him.

Of course Mars gets into the Holiday spirit and Christmas is saved once again.

Oh yeah and there's a wicked cheesy robot called Torg!

Midnight Cinephile Totals:

Body Count:  Not here, friends.  This is a kid friendly Christmas flick!

Boob Count:  Once again, nadda.  Zip.  Zilch.

Monster Count:  Well, there are Martians galore!  They're basically green skinned people with silly clothes and stupid headgear, but hey, we take what we can get, right!  There is also Torg, the cardboard robot that makes Robot Monster look imposing!  Seriously!

Final Thoughts:
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians has become a staple in my annual Christmas movie/viewing rotation.  You can't help but love the wonky sets and horrible acting.....oh and of course the horribly catch song "Hurray for Santy Claus!"

Final Score:
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Wraith - Winning with Tiger Blood....and a souped up Dodge!

The Wraith
Director-Mike Marvin
Stars- Charlie Sheen,Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn and Randy Quaid

Tag Lines:

He's not from around here....
An evil force took his an unearthly power has brought him back
He's heaven sent and hell on wheels!
....his spirit returns for revenge
If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear.
He is a phantom - a wraith.

Alternate Titles: 

A Aparição (The Appearance)  - Brazil
A Ira (The Wrath) - Portugal
Száguldó bosszú (Speedy Revenge) - Hungary
A fantom (The Phantom) - Hungary (video title)
A kísértet (The Ghost) - Hungary (alternate title)
El aparecido (The Wraith) - Spain
El ejecutor (The Executor) - Spain (TV title)
Il replicante (The Wraith) - Italy
Interceptor - West Germany
Interceptor - Phantom der Ewigkeit (Interceptor - Phantom of Eternity) - Gemany (DVD title)
Kosto rajan takaa (Revenge of the Border) - Finland
Ο εκδικητης φαντασμα (The Vengeful Ghost) - Greece
Phantom - France
Utvara (Wraith) - Serbia

This review marks the first that I have not written myself.  I have handed the reigns over to the lovely Cynn Delite.  She will give us a more female perspective on some classic films.  Without further adieu:  I give you Sin Delight:

Hello All, 
Cynn Delite here.  As you can see, I've taken my identity from the ghosts of porn stars past.  I'll be popping out....oops, I mean in.....from time to time to blow your minds with reviews of lost gems such as The Wraith and many more.    

On with the review:

Being born in 1979, I was sure my parents would not have allowed me to watch this diamond. I can't tell you when I first watched The Wraith, but I am pretty sure it was on HBO or a paid premium channel some many years later.

You wouldn't think a girl would like this kind of movie, even with a young good looking Charlie Sheen. But there was something about it. I should have been drawn to the night in shinning armor,or at least the bad boy vibe. But it was the cars, specifically the Dodge that Jake Kesey drove, under the guise of "The Visitor" that got me. The movies main theme, fast cars and hot chicks was geared more towards the male population, but it still fascinated me. 

The black dodge was a M4S. It was a collaboration between Dodge and Chrysler and a company called PPG Industries. The M4S had a Chrysler 2.2 liter 4 cylinder one of a kind engine that exceeded 194 mph. The kick ass body design was developed by Chrysler's studio, and PPG made the awesome finish. They called it a bronze pearl paint ,which was one of a kind. Everything about this car, I wanted for my 16th birthday. I don't consider myself a gear head, but I fell in love. And when they popped the hood of this sexy beast, I wanted my own M4S engine to glow, and have electric strikes running across it too. And I tell you what, if a teenage boy I knew had this car, my teenage self would have lost a lot in that back seat. 

So here is the break down. The main bad ass (I use that term loosely) Packard Walsh has a gang. He forces other cars to race him, albeit with a switch blade, to basically nab there pink slips. Along comes innocent and pure love Jamie Hankins and Keri Johnson. Packard wants Keri, Keri no want Packard, Packard stab boyfriend Jamie, now Packard has Keri. But wait...why is Keri and Packard together? He killed her love. Well that comes to light, so I won't spoil it for you. Somehow through all this, parents are not present for these teenage shenanigans, but this is the eighty's people. 

Is The Wraith from heaven, hell, were not sure but he is here to kick some ass. Specifically the Packard gang, and then this man in black with a kick ass car, just happens to show up when Jake Kesey arrives. Coincidence? Could this be a spirit of someone wronged? To lay tire tread all over your body? 

One by one The Wraith races each of Packards gang members, and looses with his life. I have to say, the way each died was not pretty, but the carnage of car metal vs bloody bodies was null. It was very clever how these dead boy's appeared. And just a little creepy. 

In the end good always triumphs over evil. I have to say I did get a little emotional when a special gift is presented to an important character, that doesn't really get a lot of face time. 

If ya like anything 80's, and cool cars for the time period, topped with 80's artists. See it!

Midnight Cinephile Totals:

Body Count:
Five.  Considering who the characters that were killed, was a wide sweep.

Boob Count:
Technically two, but we see the same pair multiple times.

Monster Count:
One.  Not a classical monster, but never the less, a monster to those who were hunted!

Final Thoughts:
I still want that car.

Final Rating:
Four out of Five Pizza Rolls

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Aliens: They Scare The Crap Out of Me

Alien.  That one simple word holds more horror for me than an entire Stephen King novel.  I've always had this love/hate fascination with aliens.  As a child, I would constantly take out books about UFO's from the library.  I would read the cases and study the photographs and I would quietly freak out that I might get abducted and experimented on.  It's silly, but that irrational fear still lingers in the back of my mind.  I hear a strange noise in the house at night and my first thought isn't "GHOST!". first thought is "AW FUCK.....ALIENS!"

I remember when I was about 7 or 8, my Dad bought me a copy of the Alien video game for the Commodore 64.  I had never seen the movie, but I was VERY familiar with the VHS box art that graced the copy that sat on the shelf at Video Paradise as well as my new game.   Oh....that strange awful egg....cracked and leaking green stuff.....that strange alien lattice work beneath it.  That tag line....In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream......I couldn't even begin to imagine what horrors awaited.  We got it at K-Mart.  I don't know why I remember that exactly.....I just have an image in my head of me and my Dad at the game counter.  Thought I would share that with you.

The Alien game had quite an effect of me.  Loading up the game (yes, back in those days, you had to actually load the game yourself!) for the first time, I had no idea what to expect.  When  the title screen appeared, it was incredible.....and frightening.  The music that plays during the title sequence of the game is absolutely evil.  The SID tune used a series of filters to create a sound that was literally out of this world.  It FELT alien.  The music immediately burned itself into my brain.....joining the ranks of the Forbbiden Forest (and Beyond The Forbidden Forest)  as my all time favorite video game music.

The game itself was quite hard and I never completed it, but I still had a lot of fun trying my best to get rid of the alien on my ship.  When a crew member was killed, it switched to an animation of the alien attacking.  The 8-Bit incarnation of the Alien was my first exposure to the titular beast.  I remember asking my Dad if it looked in the movie as it did in the game.  He said "Yeah...sorta."  And that was that.   A few years later, I finally watched the film and decided he was right.

I had a nightmare about that damned egg on the poster.  In my dream, my sister and I were walking home from the bus stop.  When we rounded the corner of our street and our house came into view, that egg was hovering in the air very close to our house.  It was pulsating.  We rushed inside and into the kitchen.  The house was empty.  My sister opened the cabinet where my mother kept all our canned goods.  There was a room back there behind the cans!  We climbed into this secret room and we watched from a tiny window that egg.....pulsating and starting to crack.  We didn't know where our parents were.  We sat and waited....and watched.  It pulsated more.  It cracked more.  Finally my mother's Plymouth Valiant rolled around the corner and she pulled up to the house.  She started to get out of the car and the Egg suddenly dropped and broke open in front of the car.  My mother screamed and I woke up.  I'll never forget that nightmare.  It terrified me beyond reason.  I stopped playing the game for quite a while after that.  It's probably got a lot to do with the fact that it took me a long time for finally watch the movie too!

As scary as Alien I grew older it was still the "real" aliens that I read about in Time Life's Mysteries of the Unknown books that scared me.  Greys.  I started to read about Roswell and the Government's alleged cover-up of the crashed saucer.  I read about the Travis Walton case.  And then I watched the most terrifying film about aliens ever made:  Fire in the Sky.  I still can't watch that movie by myself.  I watched it with my Mom one Saturday night in my room.  I had just gotten a VCR in my room and my Dad had wanted to watch something else on
we took our rented copy of Fire in the Sky....and a bag of microwave popcorn and 90 minutes later, we were both terrified.

Oh yeah....don't get me started on Communion.  Aliens.  Abduction....AND Christopher Walken?!?   Holy crap.  I caught an edited version of it on TV once....I think it might have been on FOX.....back when they showed an 8 o'clock movie.  Remember the good ol' days?

The odd part has always been the fact that despite the fact that aliens scare the crap out of me, I can't seem to get enough.  I can't stop reading about them or watching movies like The Fourth Kind.  That movie wigged me out too.  Since I'm confessing here, I might as well go ahead and tell you that I went to see M. Night Shyamalan's Signs.....and I did not sleep well that night.  Go ahead, call me a pussy.  I won't stop you.  It's not my fault that this shit scares me, I'm just wired that way.

I'm beyond obsessed with Ancient Aliens, UFO Hunters and the slew of bizarre alien and UFO programming that you find on a multitude of channels these days.  I firmly believe that there is life on other planets.  I don't know if they've visited us yet, but I have a feeling they have.  I think that I may just see the day that the world discovers once and for all that we are not alone in the universe in my lifetime.  I will then promptly arm myself to the teeth and get ready to kick E.T's ugly ass.  I've seen enough movies to know how this ends.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nightwish - Invasion of the Ectoplasmic Hallucinatory Aliens from Hell......or something like that.

Written and Directed by:  Bruce R. Cook
Starring:  Jack Starrett, Elizabeth Kaitan, Alisha Das, Clayton Rohner, Artur Cybulski 
and Brian Thompson.

Alternative Titles:

Nightwish, Out of Control - Hungary/West Germany
Monstrous en la noche (Monsters at Night) - Spain
Nocne Życzenie (literally translates as Night Wish) - Poland
Sonhos de Horror (Dreams of Horror) - Brazil

I didn't really know what to expect going into this film.  It had been taunting me on Netflix streaming for some time.   Every time I sat down to watch a flick, I'd scroll by Nightwish and stop for a second or two, contemplating watching it....then I would think of something else that I had been meaning to watch and go on my merry way.  Well, I've been under the weather for the past few days and pretty much laid up in bed.  In between bouts of fever sleep, when I just couldn't force myself to sleep anymore, I'd fire up Netflix and it finally came time to give Nightwish a shot.

I'm not going to lie....this movie is a mess.  It starts out like standard horror fare.  A blonde is out at night alone.  She comes across a man's shoe.....then a bloody shirt (I kinda looked like a torn shirt....but really, who cares), and then his severed hands.  She is then spotted and chased by a cannibal/zombie/lunatic.  She tries to give him the slip, but then runs into another one.  They chase her to a building door and catch her.  She screams as the people inside the building stare out the window at her.  Turns out it was just a dream.  There's a doctor and science students doing dream studies.  Apparently the doctor wants them to "Project their own death" into their dreams.  None of them can do it though because their "dreams get away from them and they lose control".  Then the doctor proceeds to tell them that when he's finished with them, they won't be afraid of anything.  Creepy, Doc.....real creepy.  The students, Kim, Donna, Bill and Jack all seem like they're a bit old for college, but hey, what do I know. this is gonna be like a killer dreams type of flick, eh?  Okay cool!  No they're in a van driven by a dude named Dean (Brian know....Kabal from Dr. Mordrid!) heading to a cabin to meet the doctor and help him with some parapsychological investigations.  Parapsychological.....not sure if that's a word, but I'm gonna run with it.  Makes me sounds smaht.  Yep.....that H was on purpse.....I AM from Massachusetts after all.  Which means I'm wicked pissah.  Now that I've derailed my own review......

So they're at the cabin and weird shit starts to happen almost immediately.  Turns out the good doctor and Bill rigged up the equipment to start going haywire to freak the others out.  Apparently, this is some sort of "training" according to the doctor.  But there was an ectoplasmic snake that wasn't part of the doc's bag of tricks.  From here on out it starts getting really wonky.  The doc sets up a seance in the basement with a pentagram and handcuffs everyone around the symbol.  When things don't go quite like the doc wants, he stabs one of the kids, a weird bald guy comes up out of the sub basement level that works for the doctor.....and shit generally just falls apart.  

Under penalty of death, the mad doc forces the three remaining kids to continue their paranormal investigations of the house.  Donna manages to escape....sort of and discovers that The Doctor and Bill are friggin' aliens!  Or maybe not....there's a lot of talk about the "entity" in the house causing people to hallucinate.  It really starts turning into a "throw the kitchen sink at 'em" scenario.  Aliens, Ghosts, Possessions, Dreams, Mad's all in here.....and it's all weird.

Now having said all of this, I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the film.  This certainly is not for everyone.  Those who really enjoy 80's B horror flicks will get a kick out of the bad acting and the gore effects.  It may interest some as well, that there is a bit of a nifty twist at the end, which predates the likes of films such as Inception.  If you've got 90 minutes to kill then you could do worse than Nightwish.  Even better....invite some friends over to watch it with you.....some drinks and snacks would make this a hell of a Friday Night Flick!

Midnight Cinephile Totals:

Body Count:  8 + - In addition to the eight direct deaths that involve the immediate characters in the film, there are also the bodies of past victims that we see in the alien chamber beneath the house....not sure exactly how many bodies there were there.  Of course then again, did anybody really die?

Skin Count:  We get to see two sets of boobs in this one.  First we get to see Elizabeth Kaitan in a soaking wet see through shirt (which she then takes off).  Later we see her breasts again in a shear purple nighty....thing.  We also see Alisha Das' breasts as she feels herself up during an alien fever dream.  

Monster Count:  There are a few different creatures in this one.  There's the Ectoplasm Snake, There's an Evil Tornado, Aliens and you know what.fuck it...I'm going to count Stanley....The Doctors helper.  He's not really a creature....but he is god damned ugly!

Final Thoughts:

Despite it's flaws, there is much to like about Nightwish.  Even though it never quite gels on a solid concept, it's that very same flaw that gives this flick some of it's strength.  Whether it was intentional or not, Nightwish operates on a certain dream logic that makes little sense in the sunlight.  But when the sun goes down and the moon comes up....I turn into a teenage Goo Goo Muck....and the film totally works.  Plus it's got Elizabeth Kaitan in it....which makes it awesome no matter how wonky the plot is.

Final Score:

Three out of Five Pizza Rolls