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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Raiders of the Lost Shark

Just look at that title!
You have to watch it.  You're not sure you want to, but the title compels you.  Or, at least, it compelled me to watch it.

I probably could have found a better use for my time, but really, this movie wasn't all bad.  It's aware of its budget limitations and carries a good amount of humor to keep the audience aware of it too.

This is another "Free" movie that is available to Amazon Prime members.  It definitely falls under independent though.

Let's take a look at the poster art.
Pretty cool, huh?   The movie does have a shark and some bikini clad women.  The helicopters no so much and a plane makes the briefest of appearances.  If you're watching for the jet ski, don't.

The shark is mostly represented by very low budget CGI.  It roars like the MGM lion (which I kind of loved) and it has some unique abilities. A few scenes use a puppet that is just rubbery awesomeness.

 I admit, I wasn't paying attention the entire time, but is the plot in a movie like this really the most important thing?  There is a killer shark and our main characters are the ones who have to stop it.  A mad scientist with a gun makes an appearance and there is some "intrigue", but for the most part, it's pretty straight forward killer shark fare.  The acting is obviously unrehearsed, but the core group of characters are watchable enough.  As for the others, how much character depth do you need from fish food?
If you've already seen Sharknadoes 1-3 multiple times, give this one a chance.  Fans of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", keep your ears open.  I'm honestly not sure if there was an homage in there or just a couple of coincidences.  They made me chuckle though.

Have you seen this one?  Leave a comment on your thoughts below.

Still not sure if this one is for you?  Check out the trailer.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Black Knight Returns - a very Indie "mockbuster"

Okay, this movie is "Free" only if you have Amazon Prime, but it's a very independent effort (a budget of $20,000 according to IMDB), so I thought it deserved a review since not many outlets are likely to give it a look, no less press.

From the cover art and title you get the idea that the movie wants to invoke a "Dark Knight" vibe.  That may have been more the distributor's intentions than those of director, .  One can never tell, but what it does is set up audience expectations and, unfortunately, this movie just doesn't meet those expectations.

I feel it is a better film than the 1.6 rating on IMDB makes it seem.  Our hero has a long, storied legacy to live  up and the villains are as cartoonish as one can ask for in a low budget movie.  I think if you placed your expectations somewhere between the camp of the 60s Batman TV series and the more serious incarnations since you'd have an idea of what you're in for with "The Black Knight Returns".

There are some strong performances and some very weak ones.  A few plot points need more explaining.  (There was a weapon used against the Knights that I didn't understand how it was supposed to be working at all.) Some of these may have actually been explained very well through dialogue, but unfortunately, like movies under the $100K mark, the audio leaves something to be desired.  The music track is constant and it interferes with the dialogue about 30-40% of the time.

For those looking for violence, there is some shooting and a bit of super her martial arts, but not as much as you'd expect from an action movie made in 2009.  Most of the blood is digital, which is okay, but at times it doesn't fit the scene.

The lighting seems like maybe three different people were involved.  In some shots it was brilliant and in others just awful.  A few times it was obviously just whatever ambient lighting they had available.  Again, this sort of thing is common on low budget features.  You don't always have control over the lights and sometimes find your ability to change it later digitally wasn't what you expected.

It sounds like I didn't like this movie, but really, it's an ambitious little super hero movie and you like super hero movies chances are you've seen all of the big budgeted ones a dozen times.  Give this one a chance instead of re-watching something else while it's still part of your Amazon Prime plan.  You can always switch over to something more familiar 10 minutes in if it wasn't to your liking.
MeTV has got some great old Super Hero shows on Saturday evenings.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Ape - Old School Gorilla run amok movie with Boris Karloff !

Full disclosure, I love these old movies with a gorilla played by a guy in a suit and the suit used in this movie is among my favorite "monster ape" designs.  Add to that Boris Karloff and I was bound to enjoy this flick.  At just under an hour it's a perfect pace, although it may still a bit slow for today's viewers.

Karloff plays Dr. Adrian, one of those conflicted characters that he plays so well.  The Doctor is determined to help a young woman, Frances, walk again.  The only trouble, his experimental cure requires the spinal fluid of other human beings.  Fortunately for the Doctor an Ape has escaped from the circus and is attacking people, sending mortally wounded patients to Doctor Adrian's office.  They don't leave alive, but do suddenly develop a puncture on their spinal column. 

This is one of those movies where the "mad" scientist has good intentions and is presented with the ethical dilemma of sacrificing one life to improve or save another.  When serendipity provides the perfect guinea pig, what is a crazy doctor to do?

Sheriff Halliday is the law in the small town and it doesn't take him long to notice that the ape is spending a lot of time at the Doc's place.  It doesn't make him any less suspicious that the entire town thinks the Doctor is a butcher who "experiments too much".  Just what the Doctor's hold on the ape is remains a mystery to the Sheriff, but he means to figure it out.

There's the usual cute small town moments in this movie and a few annoying side stories and characters that are mainly there to set up victims who won't be missed much when the ape gets his furry hands on them, but overall it's a fun old time foray into suspense and horror.   Not so scary that you can't watch it with younger family members and get them started on the path to enjoy a rainy evening of being a little frightened.

See it for free at: HFP's Free Cinema presented by BCinemaTV!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

MUTANT aka Night Shadows

A great thing about "B" sci-fi horror in the 1980s?  Wings Hauser. Two other great things are the presence of 60s muscle cars and low budget monsters.  MUTANT has all three.  Some appear more briefly than others.

After a run in with some good ole boys in a pick up truck, Josh (Hauser) and Mike (Lee Montgomery ) find themselves stranded.  That is, until they get picked up by the talkative Mel, who tells them how dangerous it is to be out on the roads after dark because of the perverts and Martians.  Then he drops them off to make the walk into town.  The whole thing feels a little "American Werewolf in London" at this point, except it's the city boys in the backwoods.  Of course the small town they find is full of unfriendly locals, a washed up, hard drinking sheriff (Bo Hopkins) and some kind of creatures on a rampage.

One great thing about this movie is that the bodies start piling up right away.  Twelve minutes or so in and you've already got your second "zombie" attack. They slow down for awhile after that , but like all of these movies, during the last third things pick up again.

Because Mike is hurt during a bar brawl, he and Josh are forced to spend the night in town, even though the Sheriff wants them gone.  He doesn't trust them after they report a dead body they can no longer seem to find.  So, there's your set up: Two city boys in a small town, with a drunk Sheriff who doesn't like them and monsters running around, become caught up in a mystery.

The movie has some good atmosphere.  Night scenes full of shadows and fog, old buildings, cramped basements and eccentric, if not original, characters help set the mood.  One particular scene uses a labyrinth like school to good effect.

  The cinematography uses some very wide shots of empty streets and open spaces to help portray a feeling of isolation.  The mystery and isolation grow when Mike goes missing and Josh is left alone to look for him.  He is further trapped because everyone in town seems to be coming down with something, including the local mechanic.

Most of the major players give solid performances and the rest of the cast play their cookie cutter small town characters just fine. The story unfolds at a good pace with the "mystery" slowly building and people disappearing for apparently no reason.  Short action sequences are dispersed throughout.  (Some very short, like running to investigate a noise.)

Some attempts at character development are made, but most of them come across as familiar archetypes.  Still, there is just enough depth given to our main heroes and leading ladies that we care what happens to them when the blood drinking hordes descend upon the town.

The make-up effects are passable, but by today's standards, very basic.  At it's heart this is a toxic zombie movie, so don't expect a gigantic rubber monster type of Mutant rampaging around.  Instead, expect corpse like groups cornering characters with poor decision making skills.
Don't expect a really strong scientific explanation for the creatures either.  Toxic waste in the 1980s was to movie mutants what radioactivity was to giant insects and animals in the 1950s.

This is a good one for a snowed in afternoon (that's how I'm watching it now) or a rainy Saturday night.  Watch it in the dark with some popcorn and pizza and you're sure to have a good time.

Watch it at the HFP Free Cinema, courtesy of BcinemaTV.


Monday, February 16, 2015

First Spaceship on Venus

Forget the review, take me to the free movies! http://hocfocprod.com/free_cinema/public_domain_movies/

Before Star Wars there was the FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS!

Full disclosure, it took me three viewings to get through this movie because I kept falling asleep.  I'm sure my oddball schedule was partly to blame, but the rough audio of my DVD copy and the pace of the movie surely contributed as well.

I do like movies like this, however, even if I find them a bit bland at times.  It was made in 1960 and takes place in a "futuristic" 1985.  So, thirty years in the past for us as viewers was 25 years in the future for them.  It's always interesting to see how far ahead or behind mankind was compared to what sci-fi writers thought we would accomplish. 

In this 1985 we have at least three lunar bases and space travel, while still primitive compared to Star Trek and the like, is fairly commonplace.  Artificial gravity exists and rockets can be flown by super smart computers.  Chess playing robots with caterpillar treads for getting around are part of the space program and spacesuits come in spiffy colors.

The adventure begins about 100 years earlier, when a meteor crashes to earth.  During a 1985 dig parts of it are found and it is determined that the meteor was actually a spaceship from another planet.  A sort of "recording" is found and partially translated.  This is referred to throughout the movie as the "Cosmic Document". 

Being human beings, once our characters know there is life out there they want to talk to it.  Through the process of elimination it is determined the Cosmic Document must have come from Venus, because in this version of the "future" we know Venus is pretty much like Earth.  There is no response when we send signals to Venus and so an expedition to the planet is begun.

This is when other movies, would get exciting, but no here.  Not yet.  We're treated to all of the old fashioned "wonder" of space travel.  Some of it they got right.  Like liquefied food for eating on zero gravity (even though artificial gravity is on nearly all of the time).  We get told how the computer can fly the ship better than any human just before it proves that it isn't much at flying at all and we watch a tiny robot consistently embarrass a scientist at chess.

The excitement starts in about the last third of the movie and builds from there as the rest of the Cosmic Document is translated, we find out more about the Venusians and see the planet itself.

All in all, if you're a fan of old sci-fi and miniatures as special F/X, you'll have something to watch here.  If you're a science and history buff of sorts, you may enjoy comparing our old ideas of space travel to what we found out the realities were just nine years later. 

The acting is uneven, partially because of the dubbing.  Since the movie has fallen into the public domain most of the copies I have seen suffer from poor audio and image quality, but are watchable. 

If it's raining out and you've seen everything in  your DVR or are just in the mood for something unusual, give this space adventure a whirl.  If you're pressed for time, watch the opening 15 minutes and then skip to the last 30 or so.

You can see the movie over at HFP's Free Public Domain Cinema.
Meanwhile, enjoy this trailer:


Friday, February 13, 2015

Add your movies to the roster

Have an ad supported movie on YouTube, Vimeo or DailyMotion?

Want to embed it on a website for fans of independent  sci-fi, horror and comedy?

Send me a link to the movie and the trailer.  Both must be publicly shareable.  I'll watch the movie, post a quick review, the trailer and a link to it over at the free cinema all here in this blog.

Be seen!

Shorts, features and web series accepted.

No pornography.  In fact, we may turn down any movie for any reason.  Submission is not a guarantee for placement, but if it's legally yours and safe for one of the carriers listed above, I wouldn't worry too much.

See the free cinema at: http://www.hocfocprod.com/free_cinema

We look forward to adding your title.


Jason L. Liquori

Friday, November 11, 2011