Die Hard Dracula (1998)

Die Hard DraculaDie Hard Dracula. How can it go wrong with a title like this?

 

The film opens with quick a prologue we’ve heard thousand times about Vlad The Impaler and his battle against the Turks, as we see images of people literally sitting on poles in their underwear with no blood, no gore, nothing. Not a single attempt to make us believe that we’re looking at tortured and impaled people in a dark middle ages scenario. You’re just a few seconds in, and you already ask why the hell this movie was made and why it even exists. The visuals are just flat out dreadful, and calling it amateurish doesn’t do it justice, it’s even far beyond that.  It’s almost a cliché thing to say, but it’s really hard to put words on how ridiculously bad this is. And this is just the first ten seconds or so.

 

And after 300 years, Dracula has finally had it with Romania and its God-fearing whining people. As he lies in his coffin, we hear his first lines in the distinct Romanian accent: “No more pray! Three hundred years I listened to this awful praying and boOolshit. I can’t stand it no more.” We then get a scene where his casket flies over the European landscape (yes, with Dracula in it) with the tune of Ride Of The Valkyries playing. What really is there to say … It’s pure movie magic. He lands in his new castle in Moravia, Czech Republic.

 

After the opening we jump over to sunny California, where we meet the young couple Julia and Steven, who have fun with water skiing. But tragedy suddenly strikes when Julia loses the grip and disappears into the sea and assumingly drowns. One night Steven and his father see a shooting star, and Steven says “I wish Julia was alive“. His dad then follows up with this line: “You know the old saying … see a falling star, a wish may come true“. Steven responds with a blank stare like if he was a lobotomized mental patient : “Yeah … I wish … I really wish ….” No tears, no emotions. He’s probably the worst actor in this film. Anyway, the shooting star hits a random coffin some place in Moravia that resurrects a young, recently deceased woman back to life, who Steven ends up imagining is Julia. Yes, seriously. After the shooting star incident, he then jumps on a plane to Prague and goes from pub to pub, only to get more and more drunk and disappointed. A lot of nonsensical bullshits happens, but he eventually ends up in a tavern where he meets this girl, who then gets kidnapped by Dracula. Van Helsing finally pops up from nowhere, just in time, who teams up with Steven to kill Dracula and save the girl.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

Van Helsing is played by Bruce Glover (father of Crispin Glover), and he acts more like a confused half-drunk uncle you just want to put to bed with wishes of a better tomorrow. Most of the actors seem to be either drunk, or just on something. I would be too, if I was acting in a film like this. We see Dracula in several shapes, played by several actors, one worse that the other.  We see him as a big, fat slob that looks  like Jabba The Hut and a rotten potato with a wig, and his regular shape where he looks more like Meat Loaf in a porn spoof (just without the porn), to mention some examples.

 

Dracula also shows off some display of magic powers by throwing fireballs, and shooting lightning from his fingers as he acts like a mental lunatic who tries his best not to impersonate Emperor Palpatine. Several of Dracula’s dialogues were dubbed with the most stiff and lifeless voiceacting that you could’ve heard from a discarded PS1 game. Dracula is the funniest part in this demented madhouse of a movie, for sure, and has a lot of laughable dialogues. And we get the most retarded sex scene with the tune of the the Nutcracker playing. Merry Christmas.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

The effects and set-design is a whole another level of absurdness, if not lazyness. While a castle somewhere in Czech Republic was used as the exterior for Dracula’s Castle, the interior set-design is just a room, covered with white cow wallpaper, or whatever it is. It’s something straight out of an elementary school play. The Dracula costume was probably bought at Walmart. The ending puts the level of stupidity all up to eleven which gives a clear indication that we would never see the sequel Die Hard Dracula With a Vengeance, directed by Tommy Wiseau, as much I would have loved to see that one.

 

And that was Die Hard Dracula. Pure mentally retarded trash from start to finish where someone just picked up a camcorder, a mic and goofed around with friends during a long weekend. And God knows what went through their heads. They probably had the time of their lives making this, like they where some teens making their first movie in someone’s backyard, but the result is something even their mothers would struggle to give legit compliments to. Especially considering that the writer, producer and director Peter Horak was at whopping 55 years old when he made this, after working as a stuntman in Hollywood for two decades. At least he got to see his masterpiece become full circle when it finally got released on DVD from Alpha Home Entertainment before he died in 2017.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

Director: Peter Horak
Country & year: USA, Czech Republic, 1998
Actors: Bruce Glover, Denny Sachen, Kerry Dustin, Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko, Thomas McGowan, Talia Botone, Nathalie Huot, Peter Horak, John Slavik, Robert Coppola, Eddie Eisele, Paul Lackey, Joseph Miksovsky, Margie Windish
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0162930/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robot Monster (1953)

Robot MonsterWe are in a distant future where the world’s population has been completely annihilated by Ro-man’s Death-Ray. Ro-man who? He’s an evil alien in a gorilla suit, face covered with a diving helmet with to antennas attached to it. But there are eight survivors left, a family which Ro-man is able to communicate with through a … bubble machine. And he wants their location so Ro-man can finish his mission. Or else …

 

And no, this is not an Ed Wood movie, by the way, which it easily could have been. Phil Tucker was a young, fresh independent film-maker in his mid-twenties who was about to make his second film, with a script from Wyott Ordung and distributed by Astor Pictures. Robot Monster was shot in only four (yes, 4), quick days outside of Hollywood, with the entrance of the famous Bronson Canyon as the main location and a shameless use of stock footage from several other sci-fi movies as effects. Tucker hired a friend to play Ro-Man who also made his own gorilla suit, while he was dubbed with a deep, baritone voice (not by James Earl Jones). And The result , of its short runtime of 62 minutes, is an ultra-cheap, lazy and utterly ridiculous turkey of a campy schlock-fest, in which none other than Phil Tucker took seriously.

 

Despite the film getting panned and mocked, just as it deserved, it actually managed to make money and gross a million at the box-office, more than 62 times its original budget of $16,000. I bet Ed Wood must have been jealous. But this wasn’t any win for Phil Tucker, however, as Astor Pictures refused to pay him. The combination of being totally fucked over by the distributor and Tucker being mocked by critics due to Robot Monster, and not being able to make his breakthrough into Hollywood, he tried to end his life by blowing his brains out. But in pure Phil Tucker fashion, he missed, and continued to work in the movie industry with low-budget films until his death in 1985.

 

The star of this film is Ro-Man himself with his cheesy gorilla-suit, diving-helmet and his absurd bubble-machine. He also has some really great quote-worthy lines such as: “What are you doing alone, girl-child?”, “You sound like a hu-man, not a Ro-Man“, “The hu-man-woman is the bringer of hu-man life, there must be an end to your race“, “Now I will kill you“… And that deep and serious, misplaced tone of Ro-Man just amplifies the goofyness up to eleven. It’s something straight out from Spaceballs, really. And you’re able to see the actor’s face behind that helmet. The only redeeming quality here, is the pompous soundtrack by Elmer Bernestein, who later scored films such as The Ten Commandments, Airplane!, Ghostbusters, Heavy Metal and numerous others. Robot Monster was originally planned to be filmed in 3-D, which is pretty hard to believe. But now you can at least enjoy it in its full glory and intriguing 2-D.

 

Robot Monster

 

Director: Phil Tucker
Country & year: USA, 1953
Actors: George Nader, Claudia Barrett, Selena Royle, John Mylong, Gregory Moffett, Pamela Paulson, George Barrows
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0046248/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

Manos: The Hands of FateIn the summer of 1966 in El Paso, Texas, something really magical happened: Manos: The Hands of Fate was made. A movie so hilariously, mind-boggling bad that hardly any words from this universe would make it justice. But I’ll try. Harold P. Warren was a middle-aged man who worked as a fertilizer salesman for a living, but had a certain passion for film and was also a member of the local theatre. But while the passion was there, the talent was not. Yeah, we’re talking about an Ed Wood here. Anyway, one day he had a coffee with a screenwriter where he claimed that it wasn’t so hard to make a horror film, and made a bet with the screenwriter that he could make en entire film on his own. After the bet was official, Mr. Warren had no time to waste and scribbled the outline for his horror film on a napkin, a film in which he would write, direct, produce and be the star in. He then gathered some amateur actors, a budget of $19,000 and a 16 millimeter camera from the stone-age that could take only 32 seconds of footage at a time. And forget about any sound, all dialogues were horribly dubbed, assumingly in his henhouse or something, by three persons in post-production.

 

A family of three, the husband Mike, wife Margaret, their daughter Debbie her little dog (which of course is soon to be killed) is on a road-trip on a desert place where they seem to be lost. As they continue to drive through the deserted countryside, in a driving-segment that seems to last forever while the soundtrack is consisting of elevator music, they arrives to a place which is guarded by Torgo. He’s half-human and half-satyr, with big knees and dressed as a homeless man from a western movie. And one can see right away that this man has some serious issues as he’s twitching, barely able to walk, completely zoned-out and disorientated with a hopeless expression on his face that screams: Kill me now, please! Well, he wasn’t acting, more on that sad story later.

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate

 

While they have some kind of a staring contest, Torgo finally delivers one of the greatest lines in the history of cinema: “I am TORGO! I take CARE of the place, while the MASTER is away! And he then says “But the CHILD, I’m not sure the MASTER would approve, or the dog. The master doesn’t like children. He also has his own theme. Anyway, they ask him for some directions, but Torgo says that there isn’t any way out of here, and it will be dark soon. Torgo lets them stay for the night, even though he gives a warning with “The MASTER would be very DISTURBED! As they settles in they see a painting of the master, who looks more like a Mexican drug lord. The wife finds the painting very unsettling and says with the most monotone-dubbed voice: “He looks so sinister… oh, Mike, I’m scared…he has the meanest look…” And most of all, as Torgo said, he doesn’t like children. But we soon learn that he loves beautiful women and The Master wants her. But since The Master already has a dozen of wives in his harem, Torgo wants her for himself. Alright, time to get the fuck away. Too late.

 

Here’s a drinking game: take a shot for every technical flaw and fuck-up that pops on screen, and you’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning just after the ten first minutes or less. Where to even begin… the fact that the film was shot with a rotten potato of a camera that was able to just film 32 seconds at a time, is just the top of it. There’s so much eye-rolling and what-the-fuck-moments here that it is hard to keep track. The editing and pacing is completely off the rails, the acting is completely absurd with lines that hardly could be written by a sober person. It’s so incompetent in every single aspect, from the first frame to the last, in such a unique way you’ve probably never seen before. Actors look awkwardly right into the camera with obviously zero instructions from the director as the camera just rolls. There’s a cat-fight scene between the Master’s frustrated wives which is so bad that words are just too hard to find, as pretty much the rest of Manos: The Hands of Fate – or “Hands: The Hands of Fate” which is the accurate translation since Manos is the Spanish word for hands.

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate became a big deal in El Paso when the film had its premiere at the local theatre, where even the city major was among the audience. The actors came with limousine and all dressed up as it was a big Hollywood-film event, but little did they know as the cast and crew hadn’t seen a single clip from the film, and didn’t know what a disastrous, humiliating shitshow that awaited them. The only one who saw some of the raw footage, was Jackie Neyman Jones, who plays the family’s daughter, who could tell that this didn’t look like real filmmaking after seeing some Hollywood movies. Harold then said “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it in the lab“. And she then thought to herself: wow, movies really ARE magic. The premiere can maybe be described as a “The Room scenario” where the audience begun to laugh and scream at the movie in such way that the cast and crew snuck shamefully out of the theatre and was never seen again. John Reyonolds, who played Torgo, blew his brains out after struggling with drug problems, which is on full display in the film. Nothing would stop Hal Warren, however, and shortly afterwards he wrote a script for his second film, with the title Wild Desert Bikers, but no producer would touch it. So, Manos became his first and final film.

 

After some screenings at some drive-ins, the film quickly disappeared into obscurity, and it wasn’t until the film was picked up by the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 some years later, that it was brought back to life. It has since gathered a solid fanbase and cult-following, and has grown into one of the greatest so bad, it’s good movies. An obscure prequel titled Manos: The Rise of Torgo was made in 2018 and the sequel Manos Returns where Tom Neyuman, The Master himself, would reprise his role. Unfortunately he died during the filming at the age of 80. And as a goldmine of trivia Manos: The Hands of Fate is, also check out the short documentary Hotel Torgo.

 

Director: Harold P. Warren
Country & year: USA, 1966
Actors: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Adelson, Harold P. Warren, Stephanie Nielson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, Jackey Neyman Jones, Bernie Rosenblum, Joyce Molleur, William Bryan Jennings
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0060666/

 

Tom Ghoul