Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Galaxy of TerrorAfter making fifty-plus films since 1955, Roger Corman was tired of directing and stepped down as a producer. The guy is now 97 years old and is still working in the business. Salute! With his company, New World Pictures, he hired young talents who would later work in big Hollywood films. And Galaxy of Terror is more or less his trademark film with the ingredients Corman got notoriously known for: schlock and awe with tons of entertainment value. Galaxy of Terror had a budget of 1.8 million dollars and was filmed in Roger Corman’s backyard in Venice, California.

 

The film starts with a space guy who runs from someone, or something, in a spaceship which has crashlanded on the mysterious planet Morganthus. He gets brutally killed by an unseen force which we soon learn comes from a huge, futuristic-looking pyramid not so far from the crashing site.

 

We’re not on Earth, however, but on planet Xerxes where an obscure ruler called Planet Master whose face is covered with a red, gloving dot is ordering the crew of the spaceship Quest to go on a mission on the same planet we saw in the beginning. Why? That’s a good question. We meet our crew of ten: Cabren, Alluma, Kore, Baelon, Ranger, Dameia, Quuhold, Cos, Captain Trantor and Commander Ilvar. The two most familiar faces we see here are Sid Haig, 22 years before he became a more household name as the killer clown Spalding. The other one is Robert Englund, three years before he wrote film history with his killer glove.

 

As the crew lands on the planet, they are quick to discover the pyramid, which they decide to investigate. And what they encounter as soon as they even touch the pyramid are not scary aliens, but a manifestation of their own deepest fears which are ready to kill them in the most brutal ways.

 

Visually, the film takes a lot of inspiration from Alien and copies the style of H.R. Giger with some mixture of 1950s sci-fi. So it’s no wonder it’s been called a rip-off of that film. But that’s only on the surface. Plot-wise, Galaxy of Terror goes in its own unique direction whereas Event Horizon took the concept to the more extreme.

 

The most remarkable thing here is the set-design and overall look of the planet, which was constructed by a young workaholic by the name James Cameron. He worked day and night on the set, also as a second-unit director, to prove himself, and so he did. Much of the visual style was also used some years later in Aliens which explains some of the similarities. The spaceship hallways were set up in Roger Corman’s own house.

 

And with that being said, the film has enough of schlock and fun B-movie moments to get entertained by. There’s some very wonky and eye-rolling dialogue here and no one can blame Sid Haig for demanding to play his character as a mute. That was only until he had to say his one line I live and I die by the crystals.” And sure he did. RIP. The acting is overall decent and they do the very best of what they had to work with. We have some great and fun death scenes that include a victim getting sucked by some tentacles with the most cartoonish slurping sound effect. Robert Englund fights an apparition of his dark self (an early glimpse of Freddy, perhaps?) while the others among the crew get burned alive and blown to pieces.

 

And, of course, what is Galaxy of Terror without its classic rape scene? And not just any rape scene, but with a huge, slimy maggot! Director Bruce Clark refused to film it, so Roger Corman had to step in and do it instead. He’d already gotten some flak for filming a rape scene in Humanoids From the Deep the year before where a fish monster fucks one of the victims. So this was clearly right up his alley. The blonde actress Taaffe O’Connell got the pleasure of almost getting killed when the thing almost squeezed her to death, completely naked and covered in slime, during filming. Luckily, she survived and looks back at the incident with a great sense of humor. This scene had to go through the editing process three times before it got an R rating instead of an X. This was originally meant to be a morbid love scene where Taaffe moans like a porn star and literally dies of an orgasm overdose. Anyway, it became the film’s big money shot, which Robert Englund can tell when a film critic in a suit and tie once came to him shortly after the release and said: You were MARVELOUS in that film where the giant maggot FUCKED THE GIRL!”

 

Galaxy of Terror Galaxy of Terror Galaxy of Terror

 

 

Director: Bruce D. Clark
Writers: Marc Siegler, Bruce D. Clark
Country & year: US, 1981
Actors: Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston, Bernard Behrens, Zalman King, Robert Englund, Taaffe O’Connell, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie, Jack Blessing, Mary Ellen O’Neill
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082431/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body SnatchersA parasitic alien race is abandoning their dying planet, in search of a new place. They travel to Earth, and take form as small pink flowers which look innocent enough and won’t cause any suspicion. The laboratory scientist Elizabeth Driscoll brings one of these flowers home, unaware of their origins, and the next day she wakes up finding her boyfriend Geoffrey behaving like a totally different person. He is cold and distant towards her, and she gets the paranoid feeling that her own boyfriend might actually be an impostor. She confides in her colleague and friend, Matthew Bennell, who advises her to talk to a psychiatrist. Soon, they start encountering other people who believes their loved ones have been replaced by impostors, and everything escalates from there as the alien duplicates seem to be taking over the entire world.

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1978 science fiction horror film, directed by Philip Kaufman. It is based in the 1955 novel The Body Snatchers which was written by Jack Finney, and which was previously adapted into a 1956 film by the same name as this film. Upon its release it received varied reviews from the critics, which has gotten more favorable over the tears. It grossed nearly $25 million. The director had been a fan of the 1956 film, and had the cinematographer Michael Chapman try and capture the film noir feel of the original, just in color. The sound editor, Ben Burtt, who had earlier worked on some of the sound effects on Star Wars the year before, added to the film’s ambience where natural sounds mixes with the city’s industrial noises. And of course the famous “shriek” the aliens give off then spotting a real human, which was composed of many elements, including a pig squeal. The film also has a number of cameo appearances, including Kevin McCarthy who played Dr. Bennell in the 1956 movie, and that film’s director, Don Siegel, who appears as a taxi driver.

 

The film holds nothing back when it comes to any mystery, as we know already from the first scene that there are aliens coming to Earth to take over the place. Exactly how this is done is probably the only kind of mystery, and we do indeed get some gorgeously nasty scenes involving this process. It’s a bit of a slow burner at times, focusing on setting an atmosphere of paranoia and underlying terror, but overall it’s a fun popcorn-flick. The horror and science fiction elements work in a perfect combination, and while there never is any mystery as to what is happening, we still feel a certain tension when wondering how the characters will fare when meeting a world soon to be completely overruled by something that isn’t human. Everyone is going through feelings of distrust, panic and anxiety as they no longer know who to trust, and the duplicates are turning into beings devoid of any feelings and completely emotionally blunted, like a bunch of Zoloft-zombies. The cast is also pretty decent, with Donald Sutherland playing the role as Dr. Benell being the most recognizable here, as many of you have probably already seen a certain iconic scene or image from the movie starring him…

 

Overall, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a good sci-fi horror movie, telling the story of an unlikely yet still chilling alien invasion which goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Like in many other alien invasion movies where they come in giant motherships causing total mayhem, this one on the other hand is using a subtle kind of attack. It’s an invasion that could happen right under our noses, without any sign of what is going on until the damage is done and there’s no way back. I honestly find that concept more disturbing than a bunch of greys coming to wreak havoc…

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invasion of the Body Snatchers

 

Director: Philip Kaufman
Writer: W.D. Richter
Country & year: US, 1974
Actors: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy, Art Hindle, Lelia Goldoni, Kevin McCarthy, Don Siegel, Tom Luddy, Stan Ritchie, David Fisher, Tom Dahlgren
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0077745/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Event Horizon (1997)

Event HorizonThe year is 2047, and the rescue vessel Lewis and Clark is dispatched to investigate the distress signal from a starship called Event Horizon. This starship disappeared seven years ago, during its maiden voyage to Proxima Centauri, and now it has mysteriously appeared in a decaying orbit around Neptune. The eerie distress signal consists of a series of screams and howls, in which the Event Horizon’s designer Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) believes is the Latin phrase “Liberate me” (“save me”). When the crew of the rescue vessel, joined by Dr. Weir, enters the ship they find evidence of a massacre. They search for survivors, but then the ship’s gravity drive activates and causes a shock wave which damages the rescue vessel. They are all then forced to stay on the Event Horizon, and soon begin having hallucinations which corresponds to their fears and trauma…

 

Event Horizon is a science fiction horror film from 1997, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and written by Philip Eisner. The filming took place in Pinewood Studios, and Anderson modeled the starship after Notre Dame Cathedral using an architectural cam program. And oh boy, did this film have a troubled production, where the filming and editing was rushed by Paramount when it was revealed that Titanic would not meet its projected release. Not only did the movie suffer from being rushed, but to top it all people complained about the “extreme gore” during the test screenings, and it’s claimed that some of the audience actually fainted. Even the Paramount executives were shocked by how “gruesome” it was, and demanded a shorter runtime with less gore, so apparently some of the best bits were cut away from the movie. The original 130-minute film was savagely edited on the studio’s demand, much to Anderson’s dismay.

 

It was both a commercial and critical flop, grossing only $42 million on its $60 million budget. In some way, the movie entered into its redeeming phase when it sold pretty well on home video, where the DVD release sold so well that Paramount actually contacted Anderson with wishes of beginning the restoration of the deleted footage. But, too late, because at this point it had been either lost or destroyed. So thanks a lot for that, you squeamish arseholes who demanded the movie to be cut during the test screenings. Had it not been for you, we’d have a much more disturbing and gory movie.

 

The movie can be best summed up as a haunted house-story set on a spaceship, which has quite literally been to Hell and back. Thus I guess some people were quick to label it as some kind of Alien meets Hellraiser, which isn’t really the case. Just like the typical haunted house setting, the fears play mostly on the psychological at first, and we already know from the eerie and sinister surroundings that things are not as they should be, with strange things happening that spooks the crew. And let’s face it: supernatural happenings in space is a lot more claustrophobic and threatening compared to happening in some old house. In a house, you can at least run outside…

 

The dark, empty hallways in the spaceship appear just as menacing and threatening as the hallways in an old mansion, and the visions the characters are seeing are suspenseful and effective. The performances are good, but best is Sam Neill’s performance as Dr. Weir who slowly starts falling into madness and becoming absorbed by the gruesomeness the starship brought back with it. There are no aliens running amok here, just anxiety, paranoia, violence and gore. It’s like the place it came from had been the very depths of Hell itself, which makes it very interesting when you keep in mind that the design of the ship was modelled after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

 

Over the years Event Horizon has developed a cult following as well, sometimes referenced in other works of popular culture. It is an effective horror film albeit not a masterpiece, and it sucks that some of its most disturbing content is lost. Overall, it’s a decent 90s sci-fi horror which will probably forever hold the mystery of what those extra minutes of playtime could have been.

 

Event Horizon Event Horizon

 

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Philip Eisner
Country & year: UK, US, 1997
Actors: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee, Peter Marinker, Holley Chant, Barclay Wright, Noah Huntley
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0119081/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Hobgoblins (1988)

HobgoblinsWriter, producer, editor and director Rick Sloane is a true independent auteur, no one can at least take that away from him. He’s made 16 movies over the course of the decades since the early 80’s, and we all should know about his Vice Academy films, a spoof of Police Academy which spawned five whole sequels. Yet he’s known for one movie and one movie only: Hobgoblins – one of the most, if not the most, sour fart-smelling and cringe-inducing cheese fests from the 1980s that got its place on the Worst Films Ever Made list and became a cult-classic of so-bad-it’s-good-movies.

 

The film starts in some old movie studio where the young nightguard, Dennis, have been strictly told by his older co-worker McCreedy to stay far away from the vault. Of course he won’t. And when he enters it, he’s suddenly on a stage in his own fantasy land where he’s a rock star. Shortly after he grabs the mike and does some silly movements, and ends up getting killed, off screen. A new young guy gets hired with the same warnings to stay away from the vault. Pffft, yeah right. One night when he opens it, a group of fluffy Mogwai/Critter hybrid creatures escape from the vault and drive away in a golf cart.

 

To quote the back of the Blu-ray; as bodycounts starts to rise, Kevin, with help of his friends, decide to track down the deadly creatures before they wreak havok on the city.

 

There’s only one (yes 1) bodycount in the entire film though, and that’s the guy we saw in the beginning, and the film is as tame as a newborn kitten. We learn that the creatures came from space in the 1950s in a small shuttle that crashlanded near the movie studio where McCreedy was a nightguard. He has since then kept them trapped in the vault, since anyone who encounters them will have their fantasy wishes come true, only until they get killed by the creatures. And guess what: they also get attracted to very bright lights. Rick Sloane claims that he wrote the script for Hobgoblins several years before Gremlins, by the way, so don’t you even dare to think otherwise.

 

There’s no more plot to break down from here ’cause there isn’t any. We have a string of nonsensical scenes where our group of protagonists keeps bullshitting around Kevin’s house. We have some rivalry between Mike and some Rambo wannabe who fights with rakes, because…just because. Later that night, they have a party where the creatures finally stop by to get the plot going forward. We eventually end up in some sleazy nightclub where it just gets more crazy and weird.

 

Hobgoblins

 

Hobgoblins is a real stink bomb in every aspect with the production value of an episode of ALF. The direction, the acting, the story (if there is any), the characters, the pacing, the effects, everything falls completely on its face. The attempt to be a comedy is like … I can’t even put a word on it. It’s something else. Holy moly macaroni. Even though the actors are a group of young and fresh graduates from the prestigious Troll 2 School of Acting, Troll 2 is Citizen Kane compared to this one, and you have to lower your bar to the lowest to sit through Hobgoblins.

 

There are no effects here. No blood, nothing. The only kill we get happens offscreen because its budget of $15,000 obviously couldn’t afford a single effect artist. What we have left is actors who do an impossible job to make us believe they are in danger while they wiggle around with lifeless puppets in the purest Ed Wood style. Picture Bela Lugosi with the octopus and there you have it. When we see the puppets moving around, they’re being operated by a woman who has just been released from a mental hospital. No shame in that. Sometimes crazy people need a job too.

 

The film is also sprinkled with goofs, but the one who caught my eye was the sequence with the car during where a hand visibly rocks the stationary car, and you can see it as clear as day. Then we have the grenades of the Rambo-wannabe-dude which he throws around the nightclub that does zero damage. A grenade gets thrown in one direction but explodes in a completely different direction. Like Ed Wood famously said: Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It’s about the big picture.

 

Some trivia: The film was shot without permits and in a single week. The film studio was in a parking lot that was deserted at night, next to a crackhouse. McCreedy’s gun was actually a cap pistol, purchased from a toy store for five dollars. Only the eyes for the hobgoblins were going to be seen in an earlier draft of the script. A pit bull’s growl was used for the voice of the hobgoblins. Rick Sloane initially planned on making a sequel in 1990 and had even written a screenplay for it, but it wasn’t made until 2009 as Hobgoblins 2.

 

Hobgoblins was also mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000, an episode which Rick Sloane got shocked by when he himself was mercilessly mocked over the film’s end credits. In an interview with Dead Central in 2009, he was asked about the movie’s position on the IMDb Bottom 100. He said he was “surprised it slipped down to #25 as it at sometime was the 2nd spot, right behind Gigli. As for now, it’s on #35. It’s also on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack from Vinegar Syndrome.

 

Hobgoblins Hobgoblins Hobgoblins

 

Writer and director: Rick Sloane
Country & year: US, 1988
Actors: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs, Kelley Palmer, Billy Frank, Tamara Clatterbuck, Duane Whitaker, James R. Sweeney, Kevin Kildow, Daran Norris, James Mayberry
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0089280/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

Lifeforce (1985)

Lifeforce A space crew is on a mission to explore the coma of Haley’s Comet, a comet that’s visible from Earth and to the naked eye every 75 years. Something else that’s naked are three humanoid creatures in suspended animation within coffin-shaped glass containers, which the captain Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback) and his crew find as soon as they float onto the comet. Two of them being young males and a young brunette (credited as Space Girl in the 18 year old flesh of Mathilda May). They bring the containers back to the spaceship and head back to Earth. But something goes wrong as they enter the atmosphere. The crew gets burned alive and the only sign of life when the ship lands on Earth are the three humanoids, still sleeping in their coffins. An inventive little nod to the sailing ship Demeter, if you will.

 

We’re now in London where the containers with the space humanoids are transported to the European Space Research Centre, and the fun is about to begin. The naked Space Girl suddenly opens her eyes as she lies ready for her autopsy, stands up buck naked and sucks the life out of him (yes, from the mouth, sorry to say). She escapes as she just wanders out of the facility like a catwalk model while she flashes her tits and buttcheeks. We then learn from one of the doctors who also had an episode with the Space Girl that she’s able to seduce her victims with intense supernatural powers and french-kisses them completely empty of lifeforce, and … how can anyone say this with a straight and dry face: they then infect the victims with a virus that transforms them to rabid zombie vampires. It’s time to call Dr. Peter Cushing Van Helsing. Ha-ha, had it only been that easy…

 

A traumatized Dr. Carlsen, the only survivor of the space crew we saw earlier, heads over to London from Texas to join forces with the agent SAS agent Colin Caine (Peter Firth) to track down the space creature.

 

Lifeforce was supposed to be Tobe Hooper’s next big step after the mega success of the Steven Spielberg production Poltergeist (1982), which still asks the question who really directed that film. What the hell really happened to Tobe Hooper is also a good question. But what we know is that his destructive and downward spiral of drug use didn’t do any favors to the continuous fall of his career. He was fired from several film projects during the 1980s until he was picked up by Cannon Films which he signed a three-movie deal with: Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

 

Even though Lifeforce was doomed from the beginning by starting the shooting with an unfinished script, the film has its many moments. The set-design of the comet is pretty inventive with an entrance that looks like a giant butthole. The effects are as 80’s as they can get which goes from being pretty spectacular to crispy cheese dinner. Then we have eye-rolling dialogues mixed with a hysteric over-the top performance by Steve Railsback. When he’s not overacting to the Razzie Award, he sits with a blank stare and just says his lines, while the rest tries to take this as seriously as they can. An enthusiastic Patrick Stewart has a short screentime where he got the great honor to mouth kiss Railsback in one of the more absurd scenes.

 

The rubber animatronics are comical, cartoonish and just delightfully cheesy that would fit far more in a film like The Return of the Living Dead. Dan O’Bannon co-wrote the script so that maybe explains a thing or two. There was no complete script of Lifeforce, as mentioned, and it shows, especially after the second half which slides further into a weird unfocused epic mess. Miniature buildings of London burn up in flames, there’s big explosions in the street and full pandemonium of rabid zombie vampires running around. Only thing missing is cats and dogs living together and we’d had double mass hysteria!

 

The studio also cut out 20 minutes for its theatrical release and the film was set up to be a blockbuster in the summer of 1985, but instead became the biggest flop of the year, barely earning half of its budget back. It was mocked and panned by most of the critics and Colin Wilson, the author of the novel The Space Vampires, which the film is based on, wasn’t much impressed either. Gene Siskel, on the other hand, gave it 3 out of 4 stars and called the film a guilty pleasure. And it’s not hard to agree on that. Lifeforce is available on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack from Scream Factory.

 

Lifeforce Lifeforce Lifeforce

 

 

Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Dan O’Bannon, Don Jakoby
Also known as: Space Vampires
Country & year: UK, 1985
Actors: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard, Nicholas Ball, Aubrey Morris, Nancy Paul, John Hallam, John Keegan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0089489/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

The Green Slime (1968)

The Green SlimeThe human race is in danger when a 6.000.000 ton asteroid is on its way to Earth to wipe us all out. But don’t worry, a group of astronauts is sent to blow it to pieces before it reaches the atmosphere. They land on the asteroid with a small shuttle sent from the space station Gamma 3, and the set design looks as convincing as a high school play. At first glance, you may assume this was a cheap space opera from the 1950s, but The Green Slime is from the same year as 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968. Both also distributed by MGM, just so you know. While they implant the explosives, they come across some – yeah, you guessed it – green, glowing slime. Nothing much to worry about since it will go down with the explosion. Ha, so you thought. A sample of the green liquid manages to attach itself to one of the astronaut’s space suits and becomes a blind passenger to the space station.

 

After they are back safe and sound to the space station and mission completed, they celebrate with champagne and funk music with a group of young nurses. To have some shallow character development thrown in we have some boring and stiff melodrama, strained friendships and such bullshit we couldn’t care much less about. The real fun begins when the green slime(r) starts to transform itself into cute rubber monster creatures with a big eye and electric tentacles to fry their victims. They also scream constantly like a bunch of horny witches on helium while having a non-stop orgasm.

 

The Green Slime is an odd hybrid of a production and a campy, goofy, lighthearted schlockfest like you’d expect from such a title, and if not by the surf rock theme song that belongs more in a Saturday Morning Cartoon intro. An ambitious project on paper with a script from Batman creator Bill Finger that was supposed to be a fifth film in a film series from the big Hollywood company/distributor MGM and directed by an Italian guy. Although the film is an Italian project financed by American dollars, it somehow managed to end up at Toei Studios in Japan with Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale) in the directing chair. The cultural crashes could be heard all over the Pacific Ocean.

 

The Green Slime leaves more of the impression of being directed by some naive film student on his first acid trip based on a comic book from the mind of a seven-year-old. The effects and production design are straight from the the stone age and made from kids toys that gave me Dinosaur War Izenborg flashbacks, a dear childhood favorite of mine. So I can’t really complain, can I…

 

Although there’s little to zero tension to be felt here, the actors (most of them) tries their very best to keep a straight face and convince us that they’re in serious danger with the silly rubber monsters wobbling confused and disorientated around. They seem as threatening and sinister as something you’d see in a Halloween special of Barney & Friends. While the whole cast consists of western Caucasians, a group of Japanese children got the daunting task to wear the rubber – and assumingly heavy costumes which they clearly struggle to wear without almost falling over like a piss-drunk hobo every three seconds. I could easily imagine a string of J-cussing to be heard behind the costumes beetween the takes. Kuso!

 

So overall, The Green Slime is a fun, silly Sci-Fi, B-movie schlock that is suitable for the whole family, and was also the very first film to be mocked on the pilot episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s available on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.

 

The Green Slime The Green Slime The Green Slime

 

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writers: Charles Sinclair, Bill Finger, Tom Rowe
Also known as: Trusselen fra det ytre rom (Norway)
Country & year: Italy, Japan, USA, 1988
Actors: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel, Bud Widom, Ted Gunther, David Yorston, Robert Dunham and a lot of nurses
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0064393/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

BABY BOOM – Sci-Fi Horror Short

The middle-aged alcoholic Runar believe he has scored the perfect date. Things take a strange turn when he realizes he’s impregnated with her alien eggs.

 

Baby Boom is a fun and silly sci-fi horror short! He should definitely have worn some protection..

BABY BOOM - Sci-Fi Horror Short

 

Director: Thomas Lunde
Writer: Espen Aukan, Thomas Lunde, Martin Ødegaarden
Country & year: Norway, 2022
Actors: Oddrun Valestrand, Egil Birkeland, Jesper Malm, Espen Petrus Andersen Lervaag, Tina Schei, Anja Maria Svenkerud, Henrik Horge, Anne Cecilie Ukkelberg
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt12451802/

 

 

 

 

Virus (1999)

VirusA Russian research vessel, Volkov, is out in the South Pacific and communicates with the orbiting space station Mir. Suddenly, some kind of energy source from space hits the space station, kills the cosmonauts and sends beams down to Volkov, causing an electrical surge that invades the ship’s computer and causes chaos and destruction. A week later, the alcoholic captain Robert Everton (Donald Sutherland) is out with his crew on the tugboat Sea Star in terrible weather, and ends up losing the cargo. Which is uninsured, of course. Matters go from bad to worse when they discover that the engine room is taking in water, and they try to take refuge in the eye of the storm to make repairs. Then, Volkov appears on their radar, like an ominous ghost ship out of nowhere. Of course, the captain knows the ship and its possible worth, and he orders the crew aboard as the tempting thought of millions in salvage could turn this horrible day into a splendid one.

 

When they get on board they notice that most of the electronics have been destroyed, and the crew appears to be missing. There’s something else lurking onboard, however…a robotic, spider-like creature appear and kills one of them, and they meet a terrified woman who later proves to be Nadia Vinogravoda, the Chief Science Officer on the ship, and she desperately tries to prevent them from turning on the ship’s power. At first they refuse to listen to any of the gibberish nonsense she is telling them, but when a gun-wielding cyborg appears that is supposedly one of the missing crew members on Volkov, they realize that what Nadia tells them is true, and something out of this world has taken over the ship with the intention of killing what it thinks is a “virus” in this world. In other words: kill mankind.

 

Virus is a science fiction horror movie from 1999, directed by John Bruno and starring a fair share of well-known faces. Despite high competence in visual effects and some famous actors, the movie turned out to be a flop and failed to appease both critics and moviegoers, and with a budget of 75 million dollars the box office ended up with a measly 30.7 million dollars. Ouch. A bunch of merchandise was also created, including action figures, comics, and a survival horror video game called Virus: It is Aware by Cryo Interactive made for the Sony Playstation. Just like the movie, however, the reception was rather poor and caused the game to fall into obscurity. Flop after flop, in other words. Over time, however, the movie has gained a bit of a cult following. Despite the rough reception, it is in hindsight a decent enough sci-fi horror. Not a masterpiece by any means, and yeah, somewhat derivative and unoriginal, but there is a fair amount of action and old-school gore effects. Sometimes that’s all you need for a fun time.

 

The movie was mostly filmed in Newport News, Virginia, on a ship anchored in the James River. The ship used as the Volkov was actually a retired Missile Range Instrumentation Ship (USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, T-AGM-10), and one of the satellite dish antennas was intentionally damaged for the film’s final scene. John Bruno, the director, is a visual effects artist and has worked on numerous animated movies and TV series, including Heavy Metal (1981), The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (1974) and the rather obscure Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977). He’s also done visual effects for movies like Poltergeist (1982), Ghostbusters (1984), and the NOS4A2 TV series, just to mention some. So yeah, the old school effects in Virus are solid as hell and even gorier than I remembered. Also, Donald Sutherland works well as a greedy, sadistic and slightly cheesy villain.

 

There’s been a fair amount of older horror movies that were downright crapped on back when they were released, and are later getting a cult following and some delayed praise for being what they are (Deep Rising, for example, one of my favorite sea-monster movies, fits well into this category). As a techno-bodyhorror B-movie, despite not being great by any means, Virus still holds up well as a gory B-grade popcorn-flick.

 

Virus Virus Virus

 

Director: John Bruno
Writers:
Chuck Pfarrer, Dennis Feldman
Country & year: USA, 1999
Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, Joanna Pacula, Marshall Bell, Sherman Augustus, Cliff Curtis, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Yuri Chervotkin, Keith Flippen, Olga Rzhepetskaya-Retchin
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0120458/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)

In known Trimark fashion, they had no clue what to do with Lep or which setting to put him next in the fourth installment of the franchise. And after the success Leprechaun 3 did on the home video market, there was no time to waste. It wasn’t until an executive at Trimark saw the promo art for Apollo 13 (1995) and replaced Tom Hank’s face with Lep’s when the genius idea came to fruition. That pitch-meeting must’ve been amusing to witness, to say the least.

 

The year is 2096 and a group of space marines are on their way to Planet Leprechaun where their mission is to search for Lep (Warwick Davis) after he, during the past six months, has disrupted the galactic mining operations. And the order is clear as a gamma-ray: Kill The Bastard! The timing couldn’t be worse as Lep is about to propose to the alien princess Zarina (Rebecca Carlton) so he can become king for some planet that never gets mentioned. The marines storm his low-budget-looking cave where Lep gets blown to pieces by a grenade after a quick gun-fight. The princess survives and gets taken back to the shuttle before they take Lep’s precious gold. Movie over, then? Ha-ha.

 

The marine who threw the grenade takes a piss one Lep’s remains just to boast his victory like a high school bully. The plot seems pretty normal so far, but just hear this: As he urinates on him, Lep’s spirit travels through his stream of piss and into his dick like a bolt of lightning. We later get the most unmemorable and lazy kill count where Lep gets resurrected by jumping out of his dick and pants, implied more than shown, since there was no one in the effect-department who had a clue how to pull it off. No gore – nothing. Boooo!

 

We also get introduced to film’s second villain, Dr. Mittenhand (Guy Siner). He’s the commander of the marines and is a bald-headed cyborg with only his upper torso remaining after a failed experiment. He’s a bizarroman version of Dr. Evil the James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who tries to look evil with the effect of a mouse trying to be as big as an elephant, and speaks like a deranged Hanna-Barbera cartoon character on amphetamine. His plan is to use Zarina’s regenerative DNA to recreate his own body and … good luck with that.

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space

 

The effects are worse and more primitive than ever, and I think that director Brian Trenchard-Smith sums it up best by saying that he was disappointed by the final quality of the special effects, calling them “below Playstation”. Lep in Space falls off the tracks really fast where the plot, script, talent and all braincells just seemed to get sucked away in a black hole. And what we have left is a demented, bizarre, ultracheap-looking, completely out of control schlockfest with zero direction, and one-note cartoon characters only trying to over-act each other. It’s basically Looney Tunes in a mental asylum in space with a riot. And Lep? Don’t worry, he’s here, still portrayed by Warwick Davis who seems to have fun as usual and goes with the flow the best as he can. But the award for best-worst actress of the decade goes to Rebecca Carlton as princess Zarina who has acting abilities like a broken Hello Kitty toaster. 

 

The one and only legitimate positive thing to mention, is a certain spider-monster creature which (dare I even say it) gave me some Dead Space vibes. And talking about video games, here’s a fun, little trivia: The sound of the doors opening and closing are taken from the original Doom, where it was the sound of the elevators.

 

And I can’t allow myself to not mention a trailer that popped up on my YouTube recommendations recently for an obscure family film, called A Very Unlucky Leprechaun, which came two years after Lep in Space. And guess who plays the unlucky one. There’s little to no info to find, but the only post on its trivia section on IMDb can at least inform us that “Warwick Davis also plays another Leprechaun which is a serial killer.” Huh…

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space Leprechaun 4: In Space Leprechaun 4: In Space

 

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: Dennis Pratt
Country & year: USA, 1996
Actors: Warwick Davis, Brent Jasmer, Jessica Collins, Guy Siner, Gary Grossman, Rebecca Carlton, Tim Colceri, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Debbe Dunning, Mike Cannizzo, Rick Peters, Geoff Meed
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0116861/

 

Related posts: Leprechaun (1993) | Leprechaun 2 (1994) | Leprechaun 3 (1995) | Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) | Leprechaun returns (2018)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightbeast (1982)

Welcome to Z movie hour. Today we take a look at a micro-budget and campy sci-fi schlockfest with an evil alien and his lazer gun, made by amateur filmmaker Don Dohler, starring his neighbours, brother-in-laws, himself, and his two sons.

 

Nightbeast opens with a small spaceship that gets hit my a meteor and crashlands spectacularly in the woodsland of Maryland. And there went the whole budget, I would guess. Out of the burning spaceship comes a hideous-looking alien (Nightbeast). He looks like a skinned gorilla and always has a sadistic, evil grin on his face, which clearly tells us that he’s not here in peace.

 

Some of the locals get sheriff Cinder to show the crashlanding area, and he then says with a deadpanned face:j e s u s ! Must have been lightning.”  Nightbeast has no time to waste, and starts killing off some local hunters with his tiny lazergun that makes them disappear into thin air. He then kills uncle Dave and chases his two nephews (played by the two sons of director Dohler) through the woods where they hide in a car. Hah, as if that helped! Nightbeast zaps the car and it vanishes with the kids inside. There’s no mercy with this alien. And besides of his beloved gun, he uses his hands to rip out the entrails of his victims, which gives us some decent gory moments.

 

After thirty minutes of almost non-stop cheesy guns-and-lazer-action scenes with some really hilariously bad effects, the movie gets to a halt with a pointless sideplot with some biker called Drago. He’s just a scumbag who likes to hit women, and you can’t wait for him to be killed off.

 

And we have a pool party, shot in the back of Don Dohler’s house with his friends, family and a bunch of extras, neighbours I guess, who’s probably not aware they’re a part of a film. All seems to be invited, except for Nightbeast. What happened to him, you ask? He’s still around and lurking, even in the daylight. And just before you know it, he pops up and encounters his next victim with a jump scare and… how can I describe this…well, he taps on the victim’s arm which then falls off. I believe we’re supposed to believe that he rips his arm off, but no, he just taps on it and Don Dohler tries his best to hide the poorly made effect in some quick, inept editing. It’s Z movie schlock at its finest!

 

The two sheriffs Cinder and Lisa is determined to chase the alien, and the film of course shoe-horns a love interest between these two. And then we eventually get to the love scene in some motel room, and God almighty, this is the most cringey and awkward thing ever. As if they weren’t amateur actors already who have zero ability to convey any emotions in front of camera, it starts the scene with Lisa half-naked after having taken a shower and says to Cinder: “I better get dressed now, huh?” Cinder then says with his deadpanned face: No ….. You are a very attractive girl, Lisa …….. I guess I never really noticed it before.”  Some romantic piano music plays and … next! The film at least ends with a fun and action-packed bang with some more spectacular cheesyness. And yes, don’t you worry about our woman-hitting biker Drago, which you probably have forgotten about already, he will get his karma.

 

And of course, I have to mention that the synth soundtrack is composed by a 16 year old kid, named Jeffrey Abrams, later known as JJ Abrams. And this is his first screen credit. Nightbeast was originally released by Troma in 2004, which seems to be out of print. It’s now available on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

 

Nightbeast Nightbeast Nightbeast

 

Director: Don Dohler
Country & year: USA, 1982
Actors: Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karin Kardian, George Stover, Don Leifert, Anne Frith, Eleanor Herman, Richard Dyszel, Greg Dohler, Kim Pfeiffer
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0086013/

 

 

Tom Ghoul