Happy Free Comic Book Day, true believers! Question: who’s strong and brave, here to save the American Way? That’s right, comic creeps! It’s Captain America, the Star-Spangled Man with a plan! I just love a man in uniform, especially one who knows how to work a (flag)pole! 😉
We all know Cap is a Hitler-punchin’, swear-hatin’ butt-kicker with a heart of gold, but how did he get to be that darn awesome? Captain America: The First Avenger gave us an origin story, but it wasn’t the first. Oh no, sir! That ho-nor belongs to first episode of Captain America from 1966!
Airing as part of The Marvel Super Heroes, the first episode of Captain America was actually three chapters that made up a whole story. These chapters were The Origin of Captain America, Wreckers Among Us, and Enter Red Skull.
What makes this cartoon eXXXtra special for today is that, like all The Marvel Super Hero shorts, this superheroic adventure was taken straight out of the comics in every conceivable way! The animation consisted of photocopied images taken directly from the comic art and manipulated to created “motion.” These Marvel toons certainly didn’t move much, but what they did do is showcase the art of Marvel’s best and brightest. In this Cap Cartoon, you’ll see some art work from the legendary Jack Kirby come to life, and what could be more appropriate for Free Comic Book Day than that? Excelsior!
Ho-wdy, Kinky Ho-mies! I think we can all agree that Atari games are just about the seXXXiest thing in the cosmos, right? No? Well, the folks at Mystique certainly thought they were! You see, Mystique was a company that specialized in, um, “erotic” games. Their games included such classics as Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em, Bachelor Party, and, the subject of today’s article, Custer’s Revenge.
Custer’s Revenge is a game in which General George Armstrong Custer rises from the grave to maneuver through a barrage of arrows in order to hump an Indian girl tied to a cactus. And that’s the entire game! Custer wears nothing but a hat, boots and cavalry scarf, so his enormous 8-bit pecker is on display the entire time! It’s like watching a Lego sexually assaulting another Lego!
As you can imagine, this game didn’t go over well with… anyone. Women’s rights groups, Women Against Pornography (WAP), Native American spokespersons, and critics of the video game industry all (understandably) ripped this game apart for its wildly offensive content. Video game players hated it for being repetitive and often cite it as being one of the worst video games ever made. The game is nothing more than a crude joke, but it’s pretty wild that a game like this ever got made…especially on Atari! Custer’s Revenge is just one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. By far, the most remarkable thing about the game is that it actually exists.
Even though I feel as if the fantasy genre has been more redefined toward films such as Harry Potter-type movies, to me it will always be about sword and sorcery. Movies like Waxwork and yes, even WaxworkII: Lost in Time captured that feeling while mixing and comedy and horror, although not so much with the latter. It must have been around the early 2000s when these kinds of films seemed to have vanished or shifted into something else completely, so what happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. The Wishmaster films happened. Well, I don’t have concrete evidence to back this up and the type of film that I am talking about are still around, but I seem to recall a massive drop off in the genre after the fourth and so far the final Wishmaster movie was in 2002. Sure, it’s purely coincidence, but I feel like the Wishmaster franchise perfectly represents what can go right, but also can go wrong with a franchise. The first film, while overlooked, is great and the second expands upon what the first introduced even if it’s not as good… then you get to the third and fourth films where a different studio is now making the films, totally doesn’t understand the property they have, never takes risks with expanding the lore or characters and just makes pretty, young adult dramas and can’t afford to make the movies. Fortunately, it ends there, unlike the Hellraiser films that just kept going and going.
Before the series quickly dropped in quality (and even some will argue with me on that) the first film was somewhat fanciful, had an interesting story with a very unique character and great special effects, as it should seeing as the film is directed by Special Effects man Robert Kurtzman. You got it, the ‘K’ in KNB. Wishmaster is kinda like Aladdin, a supernatural genie is connected to the person who awoke him and causes all kinds of misinterpreted shenanigans. Only in Wishmaster, the genie’s shenanigans are deadly. Oh, and he’s not called a genie, he’s called Djinn (which to me sounds like a Mortal Kombat character).
Wishmaster opens a couple of hundred of years ago where the Djinn is talking a Prince or King (it’s unclear, but irrelevant) into granting his third wish so that he and his brethren can walk the Earth, basically causing Armageddon. The opening scene boasts some wild and impressive special effects as people are turning into all kinds of reptiles or dying in horrific, body twisting ways. It not only showcases the type of creativity and imagination the film has to offer, but it also displays the overall tone for the movie. Anyway, the Djinn is stopped and encased in a small stone rather than the typical lamp. Cut to present day, or present day 1997 rather, and a rich art collector named Raymond Beaumont (played by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund) is waiting for the latest statue for his collection to be unloaded off a boat. Unfortunately, a drunk dock worker spills his drink all over the controls, squishes Ted Raimi in his quick cameo and the statue smashes all over the ground. A worker cleaning up the mess notices a familiar looking stone and steals it after making sure no one was looking.
Having pawned the stone off, it eventually gets into the hands of an appraiser, Alexandra (Tammy Lauren) and her boss who is played by the rubber faced son of Jack Lemmon, Chris Lemmon and determine that the stone is worth quite a pretty penny. Alex awakens the Djinn by rubbing the stone on her shirt to clean it, which I have to admit is kind of an obvious clever way to do that since you had to have been wondering how they were gonna work the whole rubbing-the-magic-lamp thing into this. Even though the Djinn is awakened, he is not freed, at least not until Alex passes the stone off to her scientist friend who has the hots for her and he accidentally frees the Djinn who then takes the face (literally) of a corpse on the table to assume his human form. Now, this is where the film is its most entertaining, at least when there aren’t cool special effects on screen. The Djinn is played by Andrew Divoff who, when he isn’t buried under makeup and prosthetics, is quite a remarkable character actor. He speaks with a low, gravely, but commanding voice behind a very sinister, Joker-esque grin. Something I didn’t notice til much later in the film is that Andrew Divoff never blinks when he’s in human form and there’s something very unnerving about that. He’s a man who understands his character and really gets into the role. If you watch this movie for anything, it should definitely be for Andrew Divoff’s performance.
The Djinn is connected to the person who awoken them, so he now has to convince Alex to ask for three wishes, but before doing so, he’s gonna need to charge his batteries for the lack of a better pun. The only way to do that is to grant a person’s single wish in exchange for their soul. Seems like a fair trade to me. Souls are pretty much useless these days. Anyway, this is an easy way for the filmmakers to give the movie a body count, not that I am complaining. Since the Djinn twists his victim’s wishes, this is where Wishmaster gets really creative. Whether it’s tricking Tony Todd into making a wish that traps him in a famous Houdini-esque watery grave or Kane Hodder into glass… oh, that’s right. Candyman and Jason Voorhees also make cameos in this film. That’s one thing I love about it being directed by a really talented special effects guy; all the cameos. It’s actually with Kane Hodder’s character that we learn a very important piece of exposition. At this point in the film, you may be wondering that since the Djinn is all powerful, why doesn’t he just kill people or force Alex to make her three wishes? Well, while trying to enter a building where Alex is, he’s stopped by the security guard who won’t allow him to enter and gives him some trouble about it. He states that it’s frustrating to have all that power and only being able to use it when someone makes a wish. That’s a real smart way to give a being that’s all knowing, all powerful and immortal a serious achilles heel.
By now, Alex realizes that the visions she’s been having are a psychic connection with the Djinn who is tormenting her and she scrambles to stop him. Her story is somewhat uninteresting, but not so much so that you would want to shut off the film. She’s just a rather dull character. The climax of the film is nearly mirrors the opening via Beaumont’s wish, but it’s a little more gory. The special effects remain consistently great throughout the entire film and I should point out that they are so good, that if you pay attention, the little horns or tentacles (whatever they are) that are coming out of the Djinn’s head are always wiggling around. I thought that was a really unique touch and something I hadn’t seen before. Wishmaster takes an old fantasy tale that been watered down by children’s movies for far too long and really turns it on its head, making it a really fun movie to watch.
For Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, they really took it by the horns and got nuts with it. Jack Sholder, who directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, directs this picture and I swear he must’ve lost his mind. Everything is dialed up, way up to the point of ridiculousness and some of it is so incomprehensible, you’ll be sitting there bug eyed, jaw dropped at some of the things you will see. I’ll tell you one, because it’s also somewhat sentimental to me. It was shortly after this started playing on HBO or Showtime, whichever, and my step brother and I tuned in right when a prisoner was telling this cartoonishly smirking jerk that he wishes his lawyer would go fuck himself. Sure enough, that man’s lawyer twists and folds over and begins to literally fuck himself. Do you have any idea how many guys out there wish they could do that? Alright, movie, enough with the hard sell. I’m already sold! And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. That may have to go to the film’s finale that takes place at a casino where a woman playing craps actually craps quarters. Yes, that happens in a movie. Complete with fart sounds and all. But hey, let’s talk a little about how we get here.
Once again, the main characters we are supposed to follow are the most uninteresting. A goth chick, Morgana (Holly Fields) and her boyfriend are robbing the Beaumont’s art gallery when things go south, it turns into a shootout, a bullet cracks open the statue, the stone falls out, Morgana finds it and yeah, you see where I’m going. Her boyfriend is fatally wounded by a security who Morgana kills in return, but seems remorseful about it on and off throughout the film. She never turns herself in, but turns to her ex-lover turned beefy hunk priest, Eric, for advice. It’s a priest, what do you think he’s gonna say? God this and god that, blah, blah, blah, I have feelings for you, but I can’t touch your cute little butt, because god, blah, blah.
Taking the blame for Morgana’s crime, the Djinn is now in prison to collect souls. Trying to expand upon what the first film started, the Djinn now needs a thousand souls in order to grant Morgana’s three wishes. This is not only a great way to take the character and story back just a little step and let the climax build, but also allow for more really great random character deaths! Some of these aren’t nearly as outlandish as the first, but as I told you earlier, some of them are pretty damn absurd. A prison has plenty of fresh souls willing to do anything in exchange for a wish, but not nearly enough. Maybe the filmmakers didn’t quite think out this one thousand souls idea, because the final act of the film at the casino feels like a copout. Not only is there far more souls, but the Djinn is now just granting the greedy wishes he overhears rather than having one on one conversations with people like he has previously. It feels like a plot writing device, because the scripts needs it done and quick and it was the only thing they could think of at the moment.
Nevertheless, our really boring duo of the goth chick trying to solve a supernatural crime, which honestly sounds like a failed CW show, learn of a way to defeat the Djinn, one of which is death. Unfortunately for those doomed souls, we find out that Morgana can’t be killed at the moment as she is being magically protected by the Djinn. Seems rather contrived, but I guess how else would you explain something we’ve all been thinking. Regardless, they head of to the casino for the final showdown that’s pretty amusing, mostly due to all the people running around panicking and an increase in the level of gore. That’s something I didn’t notice until the end is that this film is far less gory than the original. They ramp everything else up except for the gore, which is a rather odd thing to do. Sequels are usually bigger and bloodier and while this one is bigger, gotta say, not as bloody.
You can definitely say that like the original, the human characters are the least interesting, but with Wishmaster 2… boy are they REALLY uninteresting. As cute as Holly Fields is in this film, I just didn’t care what was happening to her or her relationship with that human plank of wood priest as her love interest. They were so boring, I didn’t even notice how bad the acting was in the movie until the very end. Not that any of that really matter, because Andrew Divoff as the Djinn appears in this movie more than he did in the first and he steals every scene that he’s in. He’s the reason you watch these movies. Well, him and the good special effects and interesting death scenes and I gotta admit that this one does have some interesting ones. Aside from the two aforementioned ones, my favorite and probably the best looking was when a man tells the Djinn he wants to walk through the bars of his cell. Bad choice of words, bub.
The Djinn is really brought to life, made both frightening and funny kinda like Freddy Krueger by Andrew Divoff. If you take anything away from the first two films, it will be his performance. He’s an actor that can pull his role off whether he is behind all that makeup or not. With some actor’s performances, you can tell whether or not they are enjoying themselves and Andrew Divoff is clearly having the time of his life and it shows. If not for him, this character wouldn’t work and in retrospect, I wondered why more people haven’t heard of this character or why he’s not as remembered as Freddy or Jason… and then I saw Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell.
And now is where the series not just nose dives, but nose dives and hits the side of a mountain. Hard. We’re talking only a few survivors, but they eat each other to try and stay alive, but the last survivor has gone so mad, that he can no longer return to civilization. Wishmaster 3 is… well, it’s… shit. I have no words for it other than “it’s shit.” Rather than expanding on the previous idea or building a new one in what could perhaps be the Djinn’s mythos, the film decides it would rather be a run of the mill, stale, uninspired slasher film that were coming out a dime by the dozen at that time. And if you’re thinking Andrew Divoff is gonna save you, you’re wrong. He’s been replaced by some wormy, lanky British guy who reeks of being a rejected Buffy the Vampire villain. Come to think of it, that’s the best way to describe this movie; like it’s the worst kind of fantasy/drama that not even the WB would show. It’s like an aborted Buffy or Xena episode. Now I know everything thinks a bad movie somehow equates to good because it’s bad, but some movies are just bad and shouldn’t be watched.
Wishmaster 3 revolves around your typical, cliched group of college kids that you instantly don’t care about and they aren’t relatable. Ok, not off to a good start, but unfortunately they are out leads. The center of which is a non-descript student, Diana, whose professor has an unhealthy obsession with her. Come to find out, he’s kind of a sexual deviant, which seems to always be a staple with these college-kids-partying movies. Well wouldn’t you know it, the pair uncover the stone that contains the Djinn and Diana accidentally frees it and almost immediately assumes the identity of Professor Barash. This is a good time to mention that not only has the whole subplot about the Djinn needing a thousand souls to become more powerful been completely forgotten about, but it’s different actors playing the Djinn, one in makeup and one out. Neither manage to capture the character you’ve come to know and neither even come close to living up to Andrew Divoff’s performance. This makes the entire film a chore to sit through, that nothing is worth mentioning.
As I stated earlier, the film is now a early 2000s paint-by-numbers slasher and the most unwatchable variety. Hell, even most of the victims aren’t friends of Diana’s, but more classmates. They weren’t developed, but they dress kinda slutty, so I guess we are supposed to care? In an attempt to try something different, Diana’s boyfriend becomes possessed with the spirit of Michael, an angle that I guess hunts down the Djinn. Sure, that’s fine and all except the previous films had gone out of their way to say that religion has nothing to do with them. Now I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure magical genies aren’t in the bible. Maybe if the film had anything I cared about, I would be more upset about retconning the most obvious thing, but this comes off as so stupid it would be like making fun of the biggest idiot in your class when he does something stupid. It’s kind of redundant.
Wishmaster 3, for whatever reason, is one of those films that was made for the falsely angst, Hot Topic teen that assumes this movie is both horror and fantasy. Nothing about it sticks out, nothing about is fun, nothing about is any good. Everything from the lighting to the cinematography screams TV drama. Angles are stale and the camera rarely moves and I consider this a problem in horror and fantasy, because your shots and lighting and determine whether or not there is any mood. The special effects are pretty bad this time around. The Djinn looks exactly like what it is; a guy in a rubber suit and since we’re cutting costs, the tentacles no longer wiggle. None of the death scenes were memorable or at least worth mentioning. There’s nothing bloody or over the top violent or even creative. It’s so uninspired and lackluster that I actually had to pop the movie back in and watch some of them to be sure I didn’t miss one worth mentioning. I didn’t.
But all the hatred I feel for the third film is nothing like I feel toward Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled. You would think that this movie killed my family and left me for dead with the way I feel toward it. I was seriously dreading watching this one, knowing that there would be nothing of enjoyment to come out of it. For some reason, I want to hate it more than I hated Wishmaster 3, but I just can’t. Seeing as it was shot back to back with the third film, Wishmaster 4 is the same level of quality, if you want to call it that. My complaints are the same only I feel slightly stronger about them, because absolutely nothing was improved. I know, they were shot at right after each other, so there was no time to learn from mistakes. Both are directed by Chris Angel and I know you are all thinking the Mindfreak guy, but no. This is a guy who primarily directs awful video shorts. Clearly, he’s your candidate for a full length feature that relies heavily on special effects and mythology.
Would you believe that this film actually has worse characters than the ones in the previous film? I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Bland college kids looking to party are the worst characters you could ever put into a movie, but Wishmaster 4 is full of sulking, overly brooding, self pitying characters that it’s impossible to even try and like them. The main two are a couple who seem to be so in love, having great sex and and drawing each other naked (you know, like every good relationship). The boyfriend, Sam, gets into an accident and can no longer walk, so he wheels himself around, drinking and feeling sorry for himself while being a total dick to his girlfriend, Lisa. Lisa also mopes around, but to her credit she at least tries to be caring toward Sam, even if most of the time it seems really spiteful. Their lawyer, Steven, is in love with Lisa and even offers her a gift that he accidentally drops and when it breaks open, wouldn’t you know it… the stone that contains the Djinn! How did it get there from the previous film? An explanation is never even attempted and quite frankly, I don’t care. Writing isn’t this film’s strongest feature.
The Djinn soon steals Steven’s face and if you thought the British guy from the previous movie was bad, hoo-boy. Wait’ll you get a load of this guy. He seems like he wants to emulate Andrew Divoff’s performance, but it comes off as a cheap Halloween discount store imitation. Rather than creepy and tongue in cheek, this performance is rather douchey and smarmy. Once again, he’s twisting people’s wishes and just as the previous film, none of them are memorable and not worth talking about. The only thing this film introduces that could have been really interesting was that Lisa actually makes three wishes, but there’s a catch; her third wish cannot be granted by the Djinn as she believes it’s Steven and wants to fall in love with him, so it’s up to her to grant her own wish. Unfortunately, the film fails at doing anything with this and almost seemingly forgets about it often. They also try to throw in another angelic figure that is now sent to kill Lisa so she can’t grant her third wish, although she already made it. Now, the film tries to be like The Terminator for a few moments as he chases Lisa like the T-1000 and trying to terminate her until he’s killed by the Djinn in a Highlander like sword battle. This film just can’t decide what it wants to be.
I would say it’s up to the viewer to decide, but it’s pretty unanimous that this film is total garbage. Like with the third movie in the series, Wishmaster 4 is unlikable and forgettable. Moments after seeing this you will ask yourself, “huh, did I just watch a movie?” Not to repeat myself, but nothing is memorable or worth mentioning. I could go on about the terrible special effects, but once again, I would just be repeating myself. Everything that made Wishmaster 3 a complete waste of time is present here at the same capacity.
All in all you could say that the Wishmaster Collection from Vestron Video is worth owning for the first two films alone and if you are some kind of masochist, then you can watch the last two. Personally, I have no desire to revisit Wishmaster 3 and 4 ever again, but upon watching the first two films, I had an urge to rewatch them. The first disc, which is all about the first film contains a good chunk of the bonus features that are worth checking out. There’s an audio commentary with the director Robert Kurtzman and writer Peter Atkins and another commentary track with Kurtzman and the Djinn himself, Andrew Divoff. There’s a good number of interviews with the cast and crew, including Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Robert Englund, as well as a vintage making of featurette, some behind the scenes footage and the classic TV spots, trailers and so on. There’s enough for the first film to make this set worth it, but having Wishmaster 2 and all its bonus features is a plus, even if the bonuses are limited to an audio commentary with Jack Sholder, a trailer and the still gallery. Not that I’m complaining, because really that’s all you need for the second film. If you care, Wishmaster 3 and 4 also include audio commentaries, which may be worth it to hear if it’s delusional praise or to listen to them try and defend those movies. So the Djinn may not have the staying power or notoriety of Jason of Freddy, but he’s far better than Horace Pinker from Shocker or the Trickster from Brainscan. Whereas the two latter villains were made to be horror movie icons, the Djinn wasn’t. He just turned out to be interesting and played by a talented guy. Wel, the first two movies anyway, which I highly recommend if you are looking for extremely imaginative horror/fantasy flicks and as for the last two films, I’d encase them in a stone and cement them so that they never may be found and curse the poor fool who unearths them, bringing armageddon to the eyes of those who watch it.
(Submitted with all the vintage love by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, freaky fiend! 🙂 xoxo)
Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful record. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places! My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Let us punish the guilty! Let us reward the innocent! My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future?!
I honestly can’t tell you if famed psychic/Plan 9 from Outer Space star The Amazing Criswell was a nutter, a charlatan, or a master showman. Armed with unwavering confidence, a mighty spit-curl, and a sequined suit, Criswell made incredible “predictions” in just about every form of media, but they usually had the same accuracy as a fortune teller machine on a boardwalk. Yes, he did predict that something terrible would stop President Kennedy from running for reelection in 1964… but he also predicted the 1999 “End of the World” by a black rainbow, the 1970 assassination of Castro by “a woman,” mass cannibalism, and the destruction of Denver by an amusement park turned deadly. He was questionable as a psychic, but he sure put on a show. In fact, the only thing I can tell you for certain about Criswell is that he was a highly entertaining personality.
The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future is a fascinating record because it really is just 44 minutes of non-stop predictions. Hearing his booming voice makes it even harder to determine just how sincere Criswell was. Horror fans will likely recognize that his “psychic” delivery is exactly the same as his delivery in the Ed Wood films he appeared in. If he was a carny-like showman, then his tenacity and theatricality should be praised. And If he truly believed he had powers, he should be admired for honesty and boldness. Either way, Criswell was amazing. I predict… you will click on the box below to hear The Amazing Criswell!
When I was going through high school in the ‘90s, I remember the whole surge of gang violence that was taking our country by storm. Kids wearing loosely buttoned, colored flannels, the bandanas, both of which were colored to signify what gang you were representing. Hey, they managed to be color coordinated, so that’s something. I also remember the media taking complete advantage of this and making lots and lots of TV and movies about gangs. There’s a good message to send to the youth: Violence is cool! Well, I’m not here to be the moral police, but I wanted to touch on the gang violence of the ‘90s and rise of the urban movies (I really hate calling them that), like Boyz N the Hood, Juice or Menace II Society. All the ones I mentioned are great films and captured the economical troubles and gang wars that plagued black culture while we ignored it and they deserve their place in the spotlight, but one that is often overlooked is 1995’s Tales From the Hood.
At a glance, Tales From the Hood would appear as a Tales From the Crypt knock off to the casual movie goer, mostly because of the anthology format and, of course, the title. Okay, so the title seems like it may be ripping off the popular TV show, but Tales From the Hood is an homage to the old Amicus films that made all those moody ‘70s horror anthologies, including Tales From the Crypt. So, there. Whereas most anthologies fall apart during one of the segments or a paper thin wrap around, Tales From the Hood is solid from start to finish. I’m going to say that it’s one of the better anthologies out there since Creepshow. It has a very dark moral theme that stays persistent throughout the movie even when the segment changes tone, which it does. While one of the segments may be more sinister or dealing with a domestic issue, the next one might be a comedy, but there’s no denying that the film is trying to say something with the underlying oppressive, racial tone.
Being an anthology, the wrap around segment or the overall main arching story revolves around three gang bangers, Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De’Aundre Bonds) and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe Jr.) looking to buy “the shit” from some old guy who runs a funeral home and claims he found the drugs in an alley. Nope, nothing bad happening here. Immediately, their senses are telling them to flee, but their pride won’t allow them and they are greeted by Mr. Simms, played by The Mod Squad TV show’s Clarence Williams III (who totally steals the show with his performance as the enigmatic and rebarbative funeral home director). He’s quite the character to say the least, with a devilish grin and hair sticking up like he’s some Looney Tunes character that stuck his finger in the light socket. Needless to say, he’s not the kind of guy you’d want to visit at night, much less buy drugs from in the middle of the night. Once inside, he asks the youngsters to help him with the drugs, so now they tour the inside of the place and this gives Mr. Simms the opportunity to talk about some of his “customers,” which act as segways into their stories.
Rogue Cop Revelation is about a rookie cop named Clarence who, on his first day on the job, witnesses a couple of white cops (the most racist of which is played by Wings Hauser) beating a black man who just so happens to be an important public figure, much in the vein of Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Moorehouse. Clarence interjects and the other cops break up the beating and tell him that they will take him to a hospital, but instead murder him. A year passes and Clarence has quit the force and spends his days drinking, haunted by the fact he did nothing to prevent the murder. He begins hearing Martin’s voice commanding Clarence to bring them to him. Martin eventually convinces those cops to visit Martin’s grave where at first you are sure of what’s going to happen, but as they begin pissing on his grave, you aren’t sure. It plays with your expectations a bit until the inevitable happens and then it turns into a supernatural zombie flick. Martin rises from the grave to get his revenge and has super powers that vary depending on what the script calls for in that situation. It’s a bit silly, but it definitely feels like a ‘60s b-movie and has some great gory effects, including one of the cops getting his head ripped off.
The following segment, Boys Do Get Bruised, is probably the most serious and deals with abuse and a monster of sorts as a teacher begins to notice bruises on one of his students, Walter, a quiet and shy kid. He tells his teacher that he’s being attacked by a monster. Oh, and Walter also crumples up a drawing of one of his bullies and the bully immediately succumbs to an accident. (That’s important for later.) His teacher visits Walter’s home to talk to his parents where we meet his stepfather, played by David Alan Grier. You remember him for his comedic roles in movies and TV, right? Well, this is a total departure from that and he really displays what a serious actor he can be, playing both menacing and frightening. This isn’t the David Alan Grier you remember from In Living Color otherwise Walter would probably be in stitches, get it? Anyway, this story has a pretty good effect of a body mangling and contorting in all kinds of directions and Paula Jai Parker (who plays Walter’s mom) is absolutely beautiful.
The third segment, KKK Comeuppance, is probably my favorite segment, because it’s also the most ridiculous, but I think it’s because it sort of rings more true now with what’s going on politically. A racist, ignorant piece of shit politician named Duke Metger, who also happened to be a clansman at one point, decides to set up his office in an old slave plantation. Classy and tasteful. A protester shouts tales of haunted dolls possessed by tortured slaves don’t want him there, and I’m sure you can figure out what happens from here. It’s actually pretty tense and Corbin Bernsen is solo for the last half of the segment, leaving it to just his intensity and rising fear. He does a damn fine job of switching attitudes like a pair of drawers, from cocky to puzzled to angry to frightened. The stop motion with the puppets is pretty damn good as well and the situation escalates as the story nears its end. You really feel like you might be going crazy with Duke, so this particular segment is truly a wild ride.
Finally, Hard-core Convert is more, well, I hesitate to say psychedelic. Maybe psychological. Three gangbangers gun down a rival, Crazy K, who’s saved by the 5-0. How’s that for, um, irony? Is that the word I’m looking for? Crazy K is put into a special government program in an attempt to rehabilitate him. They do this by strapping him to vertical table, shaving his head and forcing him to watch horrible footage like he’s Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, but the intention of this is to show him he’s just as violent towards his own community as white supremacists. There is a heavy underlying message in this story, but it gets bogged down in glorifying gory images and maybe is cut a little too quick for those to understand. I think what could have been a really strong story gets lost in reveling in violence instead of speaking against it, which is was it was originally trying to do. Not saying it’s bad, because it’s actually good… but it could have been really good.
Well, that was the last story in this movie, so the only thing left to do is wrap up the main story. Our three gangbangers have a connection to that Crazy K fellow in the last segment there, and it has to do with why they are the funeral home. Mr. Simms is acting whackier than ever and seems to be going crazy. The boys wanna bail, but they still need the shit! What’re they to do? I have to admit, it’s an ending that I’m not sure is fitting for the moral, but fitting for the theme of the movie. It’s one that I didn’t see coming the first time I saw it, but after another viewing it becomes pretty obvious.
I have a very strong fondness for this movie. I first discovered it at the video store when I was fourteen or fifteen with my stepbrother. We rented it and thoroughly enjoyed it and I still do to this day. I couldn’t be happier that it finally got a Blu-ray release, especially from a company like Scream Factory. The transfer looks pretty crisp and clean, but doesn’t take away from the ‘90s vibe of lower produced films that Tales From the Hood has. There’s also a new “Making of” featurette called Welcome to Hell: The Making of Tales From the Hood, which includes interviews with Director/Writer Rusty Cundieff, Producer/Writer Darin Scott, actors Corbin Bernsen, Wings Hauser, Anthony Griffith, Special Effects Supervisor Kenneth Hall, and Doll Effects Supervisors Charles Chiodo and Edward Chiodo. There’s also audio commentary from the director and a vintage featurette with your usual still gallery, trailer and TV spots to round it out.
Tales From the Hood is a solid anthology, mostly overlooked because of its theme that has been lampooned to death, especially around that era. It does have some comedy, but for the most part, it’s very dark and very serious, and unlike most of those other films, it has something to say. It’s incredibly well made with lighting that would remind you of the old Amicus films. The performances are incredible to say the least. I know I already mentioned David Alan Grier and Corbin Bernsen, but I really have to hand it to everyone else in the cast and Clarence William III makes for the most bizarre and likable host. Hopefully the film will get more recognition now that it will be more widely available.
This new Clue (1985) documentary will unravel the mystery. (PS- #FUCKYEAHCLUEROCKS!!!!!🙂 Bloody Disgusting New plot details emerge for Rampage and it sounds like a monstrously good time! 🙂 MovieWeb The tree-mendous From Hell it Camecreeps onto Blu-ray. 🙂 Dread Central
The unbelievable Night Trapgets an unbelievable re-release on PS4 & Xbox One! 🙂 Polygon
How do you do, my revolting readers? It’s William Castle’s Birthday, so it’s time once again to ho-nor this master of movie mayhem. Mr. Castle has no equal when it comes to ghoulish amusements. He was the man who turned theater seats into joy buzzers, unleashed plastic skeletons upon audiences, and gave us the ability to see ghosts through cardboard. Alfred Hitchcock (Castle’s friendly rival) may have made more “prestigious” pictures, but Castle gave us a circus. Castle was the merriest master of the macabre ever to live and he will forever be my “Hitch-cock.” 😉 Of his many triumphs, I think I am most fond of Mr. Sardonicus. Master Castle’s films usually dealt with contemporary terrors, but Mr. Sardonicus was, in the legend’s own words, “an old-fashioned story.” In its essence, this is a Universal Gothic done in Castle’s inimitable idiom. Mr. Sardonicus is a tale of castles and fog, of masks and madmen, and of graves and… ghouls. “Ghoul” is very popular word, but it’s seldom used in its literal sense. Take, for example, William Castle. He’s a “ghoul” in the sense that he revels in the macabre and gruesome, but he certainly didn’t dig up graves and feast on corpses. (It’s not in his autobiography. ;))
Mr. Sardonicus does play with the idea of a figurative ghoul vs. a true ghoul. The truth falls more towards the former, but the latter is alluded to heavily. The fact that the idea of a real ghoul is hinted at all is unusual for a horror picture, and it is fascinating to deal with even the potential of one. The “ghoul” in the film is the tit-ular Sardonicus, though he is less a “Mr.” and more a “Baron.” While digging up his father’s grave to retrieve a winning lottery ticket (if I had a nickle…;)), Baron Sardonicus is so frightened by the sight of his father’s grinning skull that it actual causes his face to freeze in a permanent grin! Because of the grave-robbing and the unnatural deformation that occurs, he refers to himself as a ghoul.
In truth, he owes a little more to The Man Who Laughs and The Phantom of the Opera than a traditional ghoul. Like the unusual gentlemen in those stories, Sardonicus is a mortal man with ghastly visage and a mask. The audience could feel a certain sympathy for The Baron, although he does test one’s capacity for mercy with his habit of torturing girls with leaches, not to mention his cruelty towards his servant. Really, it’s up to the individual to decide if Sardonicus is worthy of redemption or condemnation. Of this, Castle was painfully aware. Not missing the chance for a bit of fun, Castle came up with another ingenious gimmick: The Punishment Poll. The Punishment Poll was classic Castle. Ostensibly, the audience could decide on whether or not they wanted to show the ghoul mercy by voting on one of two endings. Each theater-goer was given a glow-in-the-dark card featuring a hand with the thumb out. When instructed by Mr. Castle in the film, they voted by holding up the card with either the thumb up or down as to whether Sardonicus would live or die. The gag? There was only one ending filmed! In the film, Castle “tallies” the votes and announces the result immediately, with no break in the continuity of the scene. Like a great magic trick, the act was fake, but the fun was very real. Besides, the ending we got is deliciously nasty! It’s the perfect twisted punchline and I can’t imagine a more fitting way to end the story of Sardonicus. My lips are sealed when it comes to specifics, but it’s a fantastic note to end on.
In ho-nor of Mr. Castle’s birthday, we have provided Mr. Sardonicus in all its ghoulish glory, I cannot recommend this film enough. It represents everything that was fantastic about William Castle and is just about the most fun one could have being repulsed and lied to! 😉 For a bit of Castle’s carny brilliance, check out the film below:
Boils and ghouls, your attention please! Kinky Ho-rror presents an all-old cartoon program, featuring a thrilling adventure of an amazing and incredible personality. Faster than a speeding demon! More powerful than a loco maniac! Able to leap tall tombs at a single bound! Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bat! It’s a witch! No, it’s…
That’s right, boils and ghouls! We’re presenting a classic outing of the Man of Steel in glorious Technicolor! Of course, with our minds in the grave, we picked a short that’s a little on the fright side… The Mummy Strikes (1943) is the fourteenth of seventeen Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Superman shorts, but it almost feels like a condensed Universal horror film. There’s a dead Egyptologist. an assistant accused of murder, a terrible curse, and two very unfriendly mummies. The two mummies are actually rather unnerving for a superhero short. It may be rather silly to admit, but this scene still gives me the willies… I mean, it ain’t Boris Karloff driving a man insane in The Mummy (1932), but that’s still one heck of a resurrection! This short isn’t as heavy on the superheroics as the other 16 shorts, but it’s got ominous atmosphere in spades. It’s creepy, it’s thrilling, and it has the Big Blue Boy Scout roughing up some ancient abominations. I’d say there are worse things to get WRAPPED up in on a Saturday Morning! Hey, if you think that’s a groaner, this short ends on the most wonderfully ho-rrible pun imaginable. It’s a play on a line from Blues in the Night, and I can’t imagine a better way to end a mummy story! For thrills, chills, mummies, heroes, and puns, click on the moving picture box below: