Friday, May 6, 2016

What I Watched - April 24-30 2016


The Forest (2016) AVI
- While not a bad film, I was ultimately disappointed by this American horror flick set in Japan. It has a great premise - an American girl travels to Japan to search for her missing twin sister, who has disappeared in the "Suicide Forest" on the slopes of Mount Fuji. I've watched a few documentaries about this very-real place and find the concept of a forest full of dead bodies to be as creepy as hell, so had fairly high hopes for this one. It does start promisingly, building up some nice suspense and using the setting to its advantage, but in the third act it devolves into jump scares and then ends with a ridiculous climax, complete with one of those awful last-second jump scare moments. Given the setting and premise, this should have been better.
Krampus (2015) AVI
- I had mixed expectations going into this one. On the one hand I was excited to see a movie made by the director of the awesome Trick R Treat, but on the other I was worried about the subject matter. I guess I'm a bit burned out on evil Santa movies after A Christmas Horror Story and Rare Exports. It turns out I did enjoy this one to a certain degree, but I ended up wishing it was more horror and less comedy.
The premise of a dysfunctional family at Christmas being forced to fight off an evil version of ol' Saint Nick and his minions is a good one, but so much time was spent setting up the family that the early parts felt a lot like a remake of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I love that movie, but that's not what I was hoping for here. Minus some goofy gingerbread men, the creature effects are excellent - the Krampus itself is extremely creepy. 
Overall, Krampus is a decent horror comedy that is elevated by its effects, just don't expect it to be as good as Trick R Treat.
Diamond Ninja Force (1988) Stream
- See full review here.

Invasion of the Girl Snatchers (1973) Stream
- Originally going by the tongue-twister name of The Hidan of Maukbeiangjow, this is a no-budget 70s exploitation flick about a private eye hunting down a pair of criminals and getting tied up with a strange UFO cult. It never takes itself too seriously (the main private investigator is named Sam Trowel, get it?) and throws in some nudity to try to keep things interesting, but the acting is awful across the board and it looks like it was shot at the director's house. Quite boring for the most part, there's just not enough cheese factor to make this one recommendation-worthy.
White Ghost (1988) Stream
- See full review here.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) AVI
- The latest Stars Wars blockbuster has been reviewed to death so I'm not going to say much other than I loved this movie. After the extremely-disappointing prequels, this was a fantastic return to form for the franchise and what a Star Wars movie should be.

Robot Ninja (1989) AVI
- How could you not love a movie with that name? This low-budget actioner is about a comic book artist who adopts the identity of his superhero character (Robot Ninja) to fight crime. Kind of a Z-grade Kickass or, if you're my age, Condorman. Full of all of the traits you'd expect - bad acting, dumb humour, non-existent special effects (gotta love the fact that the main guy puts on a metallic mask to appear like a robot, but has his curly mullet showing out the back). Besides the cheese factor, what makes this watchable is the gore. Director JR Bookwalter (THE DEAD NEXT DOOR) doesn't spare the blood and guts, which are spilled in a lovingly low-budget manner. This is a good time for fans of bad cinema.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

White Ghost (1988)

White Ghost (1988)
Director: BJ Davis
Starring: William Katt, Martin Hewitt, Reb Brown
Format: Stream

Plot: An M.I.A. US soldier nicknamed White Ghost (Katt) lives in hiding in the jungles of communist Vietnam. The US army finds out about him and sends a black ops team to rescue him. However, the team is lead by a man who wants White Ghost dead.

The Greatest American Hero was one of my favourite shows when I was a kid. The show aired from 1981 to 1983, when I was aged 6 through to 9, the perfect age to appreciate the show's wacky appeal. Hell, I just loved getting to see a live action caped superhero in action, even if he couldn't fly properly or use his superheroes to save himself. And that theme song... awesome.

Lead star William Katt unfortunately faded into obscurity after the show's run, apart from showing up in a couple of the House horror/comedies I honestly couldn't tell you what he's been doing since. A look at his IMDB page shows that after Greatest American Hero he acted in a bunch of Perry Mason TV movies. Who knew? Well, luckily for us after that he chose White Ghost, a low-budget action flick that I happened to find in full on Youtube. The listing caught my eye because of one name - Reb Brown - an actor who I've raved about before on this blog for his bad, bad acting which is a sight to behold. Sadly Brown has only a small role in this, but despite that it's a good ol' time anyway.

Besides Brown and Katt, White Ghost also features Martin Hewitt (THE PARATROOPER), making for something of a bad-acting trinity. And it's directed by the guy who made the Brandon Lee vehicle Lazer Mission!

The storyline is part Missing in Action, part Predator (the team aspect, not the alien) and part Rambo. There are plenty of great cheesy moments, from Katt's frizzy mullet (which he unfortunately gets cut early in the piece) to the facepaint he dons that makes him look like the bassist from a Norwegian black metal band. After growing up on Katt as a comedic actor it's hard to take him seriously in a straight-forward action movie like this, and his facial expressions don't help. Let's just say his stoic face is more Alzheimer's patient than ass-kicking soldier.

The climax of White Ghost is typical of these movies, with all the explosions and gunfighting an action fan can wish for. My only complaint is the misuse of Reb Brown - he spends most of the movie in an office and only enters the jungle in the third act. He does get to brandish two machine guns and use his trademark yell, which I appreciate, but it's too little too late. I really wish they had cast Brown in the lead role (ala STRIKE COMMANDO) or at least in the main baddie role which instead went to Wayne Crawford (BARRACUDDA). But that complaint aside, White Ghost is a fun actioner - not quite as cheesy as classics like Strike Commando or Deadly Prey but worthwhile for fans of cheesy shoot-em-ups.