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Argo City Movie Night

Bunnyman Vengance

franchisebannerindexEven as the film opens, I see a difference in quality. Bunnyman is well lit and the suit seems almost more ragged – something it’s needed this entire time. It’s a familiar opening with the Bunnyman luring prey in, but the setting seems creepier this time around. He’s taken up residence with a group of local haunters at thier attraction. The sight of Bunnyman flanked by his two skull faced companions in the misty night is beautiful.

This film seems more introspective, with repeated flashes to Bunnyman’s childhood – and the things that made him what he is.

I’m confused though. It takes a while to learn why the haunters are letting Bunnyman out to kill, or what their angle is. Best I can tell is they are trying to create vlcsnap-2018-10-10-16h40m57s255a local urban legend – a real one – that they can exploit for their haunt…but they seem a little bloodthirsty too – a far cry from EVERY haunter I’ve ever met (and there have been a LOT). To be fair though, that moment a patron gives Bunnyman attitude in the haunt (“so what? You going to cut my fingers off?” She laughs – and then he does just that) had to be cathartic to every haunt actor out there.

Still the haunted house itself provides the most atmospheric set pieces of all the Bunnyman films. Filled with fog and competently lit for the first time in the series, I actually feel creeped out by the character as he starts to fall into madness.


Some dodgy CGI aside, I feel like this time around, someone has tried to make an honest go of this series. I dig it.  Vengeance is probably the strongest film in this franchise (man, I still can’t believe this is actually a franchise!).



Bunnyman Massacre

franchisebannerimages2100 minuets? Oh man, someone is optimistic. There’s no WAY this shot on video film should be 100 minuets.

We start off with newsreel type imagery flickering under credits and then shift to a schoolbus on a desert road. The bunnyman comes out of nowhere with a chainsaw and shotgun and goes to work on the kids. The blood flying up to hit the camera is obviously ment to be dramatic and styalized, but it just comes off as annoying and sloppy. The title comes up as blood hits a traffic sign (this one is a nice touch).

indexWe immediately shift to a cornfield where the bunny man is stalking campers, Friday the 13th style (Who camps in a cornfield anyhow?). Yet for all the killing (beautifully done for a micro budget production) it’s a while before we get anything resembling a story….good thing it’s 100 minuets huh?

Bunnyman has obviously found a new family, and we get vague references to the previous film as he comes home, then shift to exteriors of the town the film takes place in. Almost a ghost town (Someone had access to an old west set or amusement park or something…) that an unsuspecting family drives through.

Oh look. Beef Jerky.

Almost half an hour in we get a troup of college girls hiking through the woods and imagesthe Bunnyman is sent out. Time for things to really begin. The problem is, it then goes on to focus on the pervy redneck t hat has adopted Bunnyman and we get a very diffrent kind of movie for the next thirty to forty minuets – as if they just kind of grafted two disparate films together.

Much like the first one, this film really wants to be Texas Chainsaw in an Easter Bunny suit. However, where homages like House of a Thousand Corpses really succeeds in paying tribute, this merely imitates in the basest ways, and the schizophrenic nature of the spliced films only works to it’s detriment. Yet they manage to throw a level of blood and gore that keeps me entertained even as I roll my eyes. I’m so conflicted, I just don’t know what to make of this stuff.





Cinema Wasteland Retro Movie Night (Part One)

Movie bannerimg_4272If you’ve been following the blog or Facebook account for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about Cinema Wasteland. It’s my favorite horror convention. I never miss the twice yearly celebration of bad movies. It’s not just that Wasteland is home (though it is), and wastelanders are family (though they are). Back when I was still a stranger there and roamed the halls alone and anonymously, what kept me coming back were the films. Wasteland curates the strangest films known to man. They screen movies I’d never think to seek out on my own. They show the best (actually more often it’s the worst) stuff I never knew I NEEDED.

When word came down that Wasteland was going to host a movie night, it seemed like a perfect fit. Ken Kish (showrunner and founder of Cinema Wasteland)  announced that he basically had so many movies he wanted to screen that even with as many as he shows at img_4270the convention, it’d still take dozens of cons before he’d get through them, so he decided to try this out and see how it went. From what I can see, it went well. I set the DVR to record Svengoolie and drove out to the Elks Lodge in Berea Saturday night. We got our first real bad snow that night and while roads were challenging coming in, they’d be a nightmare going home. Still, it didn’t seem to deter anyone. The hall filled up quickly. As I took my seat on the uncomfortable steel chairs I noticed light glinting off a bald head that struck me as familiar. I popped over to find Mark and Brandi from Michigan who had made the trip over to Cleveland just for the show. Next to them, Mike Watt and Amy Lynn Best from Happy Cloud media in PA. Our buddy Jason joined us right after his work shift down the street, about halfway through the event. (That’s what I mean by Wasteland is family).

img_4279I’ve heard stories about movie nights at Quentin Tarintino’s house. How he would screen double features, but add a short or a cartoon and some trailers into the presentation, and then proceed to screen things no one else had ever seen. This had that kind of vibe to it. Local Horror Hosts the Mummy and the Monkey had teamed up with Wasteland to help Emcee the show (they’re regulars at the con) and run a raffle, then the lights went out. A cartoon and an old “Our Gang” short preceded the film. Ken was playing it safe for the first feature by running a reliable old Vincent Price standard. Nevertheless, “Last Man on Earth” is a solid film and was made more fun watching it with an audience. We got about img_4267ten minuets into it when there was a sprocket malfunction. The print shook and blurred.

“I’m just trying to give you a REAL grindhouse experience!” Ken shouted as he swapped out the faulty projector with a spare.

“There’s not enough hookers or broken needles for it to be a genuine grindhouse experience!” I shouted back, then took the opportunity to nip back to the bathroom. Sure enough, needle and hooker free.

Intemission was marked by a trailer reel of the strange and wonderful, along with another cartoon and a raffle drawing. The seats were getting uncomfortable and the snow continued to fall as we headed into the second feature “The Man Who Turned to Stone”. This was the one I was waiting for since I had never even heard of this. It’s a 1957 classic and I knew I was in for something good when I saw Victor Jory in the credits. Jory Was the Shadow in the only film outing that matters, and that dark tone made him perfect for a sinister old-world type. Jory leads a group of immortals who stay young by draining the life force of others. Young women in particular are the best nourishment and they just happen to be running a women’s prison. Hijinks ensue.

The event went well enough to justify a second film night. This one will fall on Feb 9th, and feature “Voodoo Woman” (1957) and “Motorcycle Gang” (1957). I know I’ll be back. I hope to see all of you there too!




bannerpdindexBunnyman starts with a low res shot on video bit featuring a girl running from the house and getting murdered. It’s very reminiscent of Texas chainsaw massacre actually, fortunately it’s just the appetizer and the rest of the film is done with a higher quality video. It opens with a girl stuck in a refrigerator and once again, running from something – it’s a weird enough opening to grab your attention and steel you for what comes next

We get some kids on a road trip, who managed to anger the large truck behind them. It’s not a promising beginning and I feel like I’ve seen this before too many times already.

The truck driver begins to stalk them, and action made all the more ominous by the brief glimpse we see of the fur covered hand inside the trucks cab. By the way, the girl we saw running earlier? She is in the back of the truck and about to be chained to a tree.

Eventually the images2kids are run off the road and the Bunnyman continues on to his evil deeds. We’re treated to some excellent gore. It’s our first glimpse of the bunny man, and he won’t be back though until the 50 minute mark.

The kids travel on foot, looking for help, and as the night wears on, things get dire and ominous. It’s a slow strech – not a slow burn, just a middle section that drags. However, when the Bunnyman shows back up and the stalking begins things ramp right back up.

I kind of wonder if there just wasn’t enough in this movie for a full feature. Seriously, imagesthis may have been better off as just a short. The suit is too stark, though it provides a surreal image on occasion and that helps. Still, the film feels weak, and I’d kind of like to see it redone with more care and gore.

Wait, what? What do you mean they made two more of theses things?



Roller Blade

Movie banner10367582_872180892826335_755174026719423114_nIt’s that time of year again, when Cleveland Cinemas smacks us about the head with the celluloid equivalent of a brick wrapped around a slice of lemon. I’m a fan of bad movies, a regular attendee at Cinema Wasteland, and a member in good standing of Cinemageddon. Yet somehow, David Huffman still consistently pulls out the most bizarre movie gems that were never on my radar.

imagesThis year, the Cedar Lee theater screened “Roller Blade”… a film that makes “Shredder Orpheus” look like “Gone with the Wind”. Don’t be deceived, there are no actual rollerblades in this film, 1986 was a little early for that. What we do have are roller skates, and butterfly knives tucked in by the heels – thus categorizing them as “roller” blades.

Set in the dystopian post apocalyptic near future that was so popular in the 80s, we’re introduced vlcsnap-2018-12-04-09h59m17s667to our three main factions. For starters, there’s the madman at the acid plant (or is he a puppet? Or is he just wearing a puppet? It took me most of the film to finally come to the conclusion that Santos evil twin was somehow kind of conjoined to an evil mutant. It kind of looks like somebody glued up an old Boglin head onto a baby doll and then spray painted the whole thing brown). On the other side there is a convent full of Nuns in KKK robes – but colored red and blue to make things more confusing. They’re called the Cosmic Order of Roller Blade, and led by Mother Speed. They ally with the local Marshall… Though I can’t tell who was actually in charge. Sometimes he seems to have authority over them, and other times they seem to be vlcsnap-2018-12-04-09h54m46s860calling the shots (After doing some research, it appears he was meant to be there protecting their monastery). There are also homeless people on roller skates pushing shopping carts, and punks who demonstrate how anti-establishment they are by riding skateboards instead of roller skates.

After a lengthy introductions in the first act, the action starts with a blonde in spandex stabbing a dude on the sidewalk because he was foolish enough to go outside without roller skates. She is apparently doing a job for the mutant in the acid plant -work for hire mercenary stuff. When she demands batteries for her walkman he tells her to go vlcsnap-2018-12-04-10h02m52s261infiltrate the convent so that she can steal their crystal McGuffin. It’s not clear what it does other then turning the Nun’s butterfly knives into magic healing wands, but they suggest that humanity will end if it falls into the wrong hands. The blonde lets herself get roughed up by the punks so that she can prey upon the mercy of the nuns and steal their power crystal. In the meantime the acid mutant and Santos evil twin kidnap the marshall’s son because, reasons.

The third act explodes in a climatic battle where Santo’s evil twin uses the crystal to power a sled on wheels across the chasm in an attempt to escape to “Meccho” while the nun and the Marshall look on. They realize the crystal wasn’t that important, and salvation is actually in the human heart.vlcsnap-2018-12-04-10h01m21s801


vlcsnap-2018-12-04-09h59m32s692Don’t let that semi-coherent description fool you. This thing is all over the place. I was encouraged to see the New World logo come up in the beginning. Corman films are usually bad, but fun. Nowhere however, does Corman’s name show up here (Fred Olen Ray’s does though. I assume they abducted his kid to get this thing made). I find myself wondering if they just distributed the movie rather than actually producing it. I suppose it may have been filmed on some of their leftover sets, but it lack the professional panache that you get as a bare minimum from a Corman studio flick. I think that’s a professional grade vlcsnap-2018-12-04-09h56m28s884camera shooting this – the state of consumer electronics in 1986 would have this looking more like Chester Turner’s “Black Devil Doll from Hell” or “Tales frm the Quaddead Zone” filmed around the same time. But they must have spent too much money on the camera because they obviously couldn’t afford sound equipment. This entire thing is sloppily overdubbed – and they knew it when they were filming. Every other shot outside the studio sets involves characters talking into large walkie talkies, strategically placed in front of their mouth so you can’t see their lips move in contrast to the dub. Two exposition scenes have been zoomed into and cropped just above the actors mouths. Entire conversations occur vlcsnap-2018-12-04-10h00m56s931without seeing any lips move. Occasionally grunts are inserted to cover long shots with mouths working. Even the mutant hand puppet can’t synch his mouth with the lines he speaks.

The dialogue that is used doesn’t help any. There was a moment when shopping cart guy dies for the first time (Yes, I said “First”, as in multiple times) and the overdub gets really hollow as he says “Ow! (not the sound, he says the word)What did I do to deserve this?”. In other scenes, the King James English comes off a particularly distracting. “Hold! Skate not from this place! Word has come that little Chris has been taken!” At one point I turned to Johnny Crayfish next to me and asked “I’m really hearing this right? This is the ACTUAL dialogue they chose and not just a parody right?” He shrugged and shook his head.

vlcsnap-2018-12-04-09h58m21s723After 88 minuets, the credits rolled. The final title card reads “Watch for Roller Blade 2 : Holy Thunder”

You’re kidding, right?

I turned to the back of the theater where the film programmer was standing, bewilderment on my face .
“Does that actually exist?”
He nodded. My buddy Mark spun around and shouted “DOUBLE FEATURE!”.
“Not tonight,” Dave wisely declined this demand. “I can’t believe you guys all stayed through the entire credits!”

I discovered that in fact, not only does a sequel exist – there’s actually FIVE movies in this series (Six if you count the remixed and re-released version of The Roller Blade Seven. Seven if you count the documentary on the unmade Roller Blade 3).


I need to know more. Expect a new Franchise Focus coming next year.


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Movie banner46508834_2207358649308546_91824442283393024_nOkay, I’m going to admit something here; I was actually excited for this film. “But Matt dosen’t get excited about ANYTHING,” My wife’s friend Rachel told her in disbelief. However I was a big fan of Wreck It Ralph.

I’m a big fan of video game movies in general. Back in my teen years I was a much heavier gamer, but even then I’d usually only get so far and then give up. Yet the genre and the whole milieu always intrigues and engages me and Wreck It Ralph embodied the best of that.

Today, it’s my daughter Maddie who is the real gamer in our family and if you think I was excited for this movie, just you let me tell you, she was ten times as excited. And because I raised my kids on the old school games, learning on the joystick of a Pac Man machine so they get the jokes and recognize the characters. That makes this a solid must see for us


(Still a better selfie than this)


ralphbreaksinternet_PayoffPoserSo what ABOUT that Princess scene that’s been burning up the internet? Well it turns out we’ve seen about half of it. There’s more to it than just what we’ve gotten in ads, but what’s interesting is that it suggests the movie is going to subvert some of the princess tropes. It does, but not necessarily here. This bit actually plays a lot like Amy Mebberson’s Pocket Princesses and is unmitigatedly hilarious. It’s worth it for the casual princess outfits alone.

That really speaks to a larger trend in this movie. There’s in-jokes and visual gags everywhere. Every inch of the screen is covered in logos and videos and everything you can imagine. It’s a fan service dream and I really feel like I need to see it again, only with a remote control that has a pause button on it. I only got a glimpse of Beaker from the Muppets in the back of one scene. And when Ralph descends to the lower levels searching for a lost item, we see him push aside an old Geocities site while Netscape navigator leans against an old AOL package.

46503404_2207565039287907_3097004039863271424_nIt’s jokes like that which remind us this film isn’t just for kids. It’s packed with gags and elements that you’re really only going to get if you’re over thirty. That’s a tough job to create something like that which also appeals to the grammer school and tween crowds. But appeal it does. My younger daughter tagged along. She wasn’t really excited for the movie, but it was a good excuse to stay up past her bedtime. By the end though, she was all in, laughing uproariously and cheering the heroes.

It’s a surprisingly layered movie, with influences from all over. The initial blast into the internet as well as the way Ralph and Vanellope navigate the web reminds me a great deal of Hackers. There’s Disney influence, and Tron elements, and then there’s the racing. That and Gal Godot.

I actually spent some time last year going through the Fast and the Furious movies (look for a franchise focus next year) and that stuff is all OVER this movie. Seriously. The movie gal-gadot-ralph-featuregives us a new racing game – something that fuses elements of Carmageddon, Twisted Metal and GTA, outwardly another clone in this genre. But you’ve never seen racing like this in a game (and let me tell, you I LOVE racing games – it’s one of the few types I still play regularly). The flips, the backwards driving, the speed and maneuvering is straight out of films like Gone in 60 Seconds or The Fast and The Furious. This makes perfect sense tough, since the lead racer is a gritty woman named shank – played by Gal Godot who was both fast and furious before she was a Wonder Woman.

Honestly, there’s nothing about this film I don’t like. Get out to the theaters and check it out this Wednesday! Stick around for the mid-credits scene too. Besides, that IS a pretty good Imagine Dragons song playing over the end. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some burnt pie and then stare into important water.

Ralph Breaks the Internet opens nationwide on November 21st


King of the Zombies

Movie bannerhqdefault (2)Ever since I first saw clips of it in Zacherly’s Horrible Horror, King of the Zombies has been one of my favorite zombie films. And the heart and soul of this movie is Mantan Moreland.

These days his kind of performance in both this and the follow-up Revenge of the zombies is considered racially charged, politically incorrect. But I never saw a racial stereotype here. I always saw a comedian, a goof whose charm and zany antics rivaled the talents of Lou Costello. His wit, his bulging eyes and frantic energy never failed to make me laugh.

It’s more than that, in a lot of ways, he felt like the everyman to me. As the postman in mantan-morelandSpider Baby, I certainly relate to him, the ordinary guy who’s just doing his job, and in King of the zombies he’s not the statuesque heroic dude like our stars. no indeed, he’s the poor slob who actually does the leg work. He uncovers the plot and his fearful reaction to the
zombies is perhaps the most reasonable of them all!

King of the Zombies is a regular selection here at Argo city, and it’s not unusual to see Spider baby or Revenge on my TV as well. Check these out the next time they come up on something like Svengoolie and let Mantan Moreland make you laugh all over again.


The Predator

Movie bannerThe_Predator_official_posterRight off the bat, let’s get something straight – The Predator is not a remake. It’s not a re-imagining, It’s really only a reboot in that they are hoping to reignite the franchise with this movie. This is a sequel, and a proper one at that… there were references to previous films, and we definitely know where this movie stands in the continuity. We get homages although they’re not beating you over the head with them and yes somebody does utter the words “Get to the choppas!”

But it’s definitely a sequel another remake.They get points for that. Then they lose those points for casting Olivia Munn as a scientist.

They get docked couple more for Jake Busey the same role. Seriously, while Brent Spiner could pull off the slightly cracked scientist in government isolation, Busey just doesn’t have the chops for it. He’s too goofy in a Shaggy and Scooby kind of way. gallery-1536332655-olivia-munn-the-predator-casey-bracketThen there is Olivia Munn. Munn doesn’t smile once in this entire film, and she doesn’t know how to run – heroically or otherwise (don’t they have some sort of superhero school training in the X-Men films?). Seriously, those dainty little steps she’s taking are doing nothing for her performance. She spends the entire film with a shocked and confused look on her face – I can’t blame her for that one though, because I’m pretty confused as to why she was cast here. She lacks their gravitas for this sort of role, I just don’t buy her as an intellectual (was Kate McKinnon not available?) Moreover, she just isn’t an action hero. Yet they’re not exploiting her looks with a clingy T-shirt or something equally crass, so quite frankly I don’t understand what she’s doing here.

new-photos-predator-halloween-lego-spider-manIt’s not a bad film though – Boyd Holbrook does his best as the hero of the piece. Arnold has big shoes to fill, and they’re doing their best. I’m actually quite surprised at how much I enjoy Keegan Michael Key in this as well. His comic relief could very easily tip over into the annoying – and I’m betting a lot of people are still going to call it that- but I actually found him funny and doing some of his better work here. I wasn’t alone either, I could frequently hear laughter in the theater I was at whenever he’d be delivering outrageously offensive humor at the worst possible times.

The Predator wants to be Independence Day without the buildings exploding. It wants that sort of underground government investigation and involvement attempting as it does, a great scope in its storytelling. It’s particularly apparent in the first act. Things narrow down and get personal on the second act as our hero’s autistic son gets involved in the danger, and then we’re back to the big picture by the third act with the government tracking down the monster. I get the impression that there may have been a bigger story originally, and that it was cut down in certain places (more likely for pace rather than cost. This movie looks expensive). Indeed, I’m not sure if that was to the films benefit or detriment.

Gore hounds will be happy, this is easily the most violent predator film I’ve ever seen – and let’s face it, this franchise set the bar pretty high. Still, it’s usually stabbing or  lasers through the chest in these movies. With this installment we get tons of severed bodies, blood and organs flying all over the place – and far more intestines than I’m used to seeing, even with my film watching habits. I’m digging the way they push the mythology as well. We get a little bit more insight as to why the Predators take the sort of trophies they do, and when the Predator brings out his hunting dogs, it’s actually a great moment. The creature designs are beautiful and they’re a perfectly fitting addition to the predator mythos. It’s a shame they have to be completely CGI, gallery-1536145644-the-predatorbecause they do have that FX fake sheen sometimes. Indeed, the ships here have the same problem, though this film probably gives us the best look at the Predator vessels that we’ve ever seen. Someone to put some thought into this, both with the shapes that they have integrated into the hull as well as the brushed metal coloring that shows up all over them.

Overall, it’s a solid film – and if it were the first movie in the franchise, I think would be guaranteed a sequel. Because it’s part of a legacy series, it’s judged a lot more harshly,  but it’s definitely a Predator film rather than a derivative knock off. In fact it’s definitely the sort of film that couldn’t be anything else, and I’m looking forward to any follow-ups Fox has in store for us.

The Predator opens in Theaters September 14.

The Ninth Gate

Movie bannerlarge_uamhDQBebdW3UQqOaVmma3yW8pmThe ninth gate is really everything I love about cult films. We’ve got everything I could ask for, mystery, a Satanic order, adventure, and exotic locales, obsession and character. The film appeals to me in particular because of the bibliophile angle. I love all books, stories and if I’m at your house, you can be assured that at some point I’ve snuck away to look through your collection of books. This film understands that, and it understands exactly the sort of person I would be if I had the means these people do. Films like this, or like High Fidelity, or even the Fast and the Furious – movies that explore collections that have been obsessively accumulated and the people who curate them always fascinate me – it makes me wish I had that kind of passion and singular vision these people do

I love how intelligently written it is, and how it celebrates literacy and research. These characters are smart people, well read, you know what you’re talking about, and many are experts in their field.

fhd999TNG_Emmanuelle_Seigner_036The story of course is about the search for a very rare book, the nine gates – which supposedly holds the secret to immortality. It features Johnny Depp in one of his better roles. Mind you, I enjoy Captain Jack and I am a fan of his work with Tim Burton, but this is something completely different – a character with depth and smarm and purpose. It’s not a quirky character, and that in fact makes it a stretch – I love Depp in this.

It’s a film you may have overlooked because quite frankly, it’s as common as dirt – you’ll see it on every shelf in every video store and frequently on Netflix. Seriously, sit down and give this a watch.


Incredibles 2

Movie bannerimagesPeople have been waiting fourteen years to see a movie with the Incredibles fighting together again. This is not that movie.

Much like the first Incredibles focuses on Mr. incredible for most of the film, with the family only coming together at the end, this does much the same, however the roles have been reversed. this time it’s Elastigirl who’s out fighting crime (in a new suit that I actually kind of like better….) while Mr. Incredible stays home and watches the kids. Despite the role reversal, the movie really follows a lot of the same beats and I feel like I’ve seen this plot before.

Like any good sequel, they’ve ramped up the action and I have to say, the action has never looked better. The renders are beautiful, and feel more detailed than the previous film and the action set pieces are WAY more involved. This is superhero action done right. You’re not going mistake this for a Marvel movie though, with goofier kid-friendly humor liberally applied throughout. It’s the sort of thing that reminds us we’re still in a Disney film.

I’m bewildered by the ad campaign for this though. Judging by the commercials, I expected a “getting the band back together” vibe. We see the red and black suits only at the setpiece that opens the film and not again until the climax two hours later. Insted, what we have here is a very girl-power movie, that focuses heavily on the suerhero exploits of Elastigirl, the protege that idolizes her and on the sever case of adolescence that is hitting Violet.

While they do fall back on the predictable fish out of water tropes with the dad being overwhelmed by the mom’s chores, to their credit they don’t dwell on it. In most cases a film would lean into the dad as a dope routine, and while they spend more time on it than I’d like, they also show Mr. Incredible rising to the challenge – and quite a challenge it is as Baby Jack Jack starts to develop powers.

I found the villian in this piece to be fare more interesting than the bad guy in the original, but I’ll admit – I spotted them early and knew who was “behind the mask” almost immediately. Still, with the increased action and more dynamic antics, it’s cool to see the bad guy has been upgraded as well.

All in all, if your a fan of this series, you’re going to love this (and I say this with confidence, considering I attended this screening with the biggest Mr. Incredible fan I know).

The Incredibles 2 opens in theaters June 13th.