Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood, A Raiders of the Lost Flicks Review…sort of…

Margot Robbie is the plot of the film. Reject this hypothesis…

by Groovinator, The Cynical Cyborg

Video reviews are more reactionary. Especially something that’s still new in a movie theater. For the old movies on Cynical Cyborg Cinema, there will only be minor alterations between video and written, because I’m usually going for a series of feelings, and jokes, rather than try to convince you to see this movie. This one will be a little more different than my video material.

I tend to avoid reading, or watching other videos when I write a review, because I want that reaction to be as genuinely fresh as possible. I did that, and then I decided to watch some reviews on YouTube after I uploaded my own just to see if I happened to say the same things as other critics. So far the only thing I repeated was that Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood is a Tarentino style love letter to Hollywood, and that Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio had very good on screen chemistry. It’s true about it being a love letter to Hollywood, as a snapshot of a bygone era. Tarantino is coming close to the end of his career (he has committed to doing only 10 films), and that’s damn impressive considering all of his movies have been either critical, and or, commercial successes. 10 seems like a nice round number. Point I’m getting at, is he doesn’t have to take shit from anyone, doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone, and doesn’t have to make any apologies for anything. So when I see clickbait trash journalists poke him with a stick, it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction to snap back at one of them without hesitation.

Splish splash I was drunk off my ass…

One of the complaints I hear about this one is feet, and I am kind sad I didn’t mention it, but as I stated in my video review…the movie left me with an uplifting positive feeling of satisfaction when I left the theater. That’s what stayed with me between yesterday and today. Yes Quentin has a foot fetish. It’s in all of his films. It never really distracts from the movie, but he does have a thing with feet. Dirty feet. In this one he makes those feet as prominent as possible. Nasty dirty feet right in the center of the damn screen as if it’s Tarantino’s way of saying “take THAT audiences! How you like me now?”

So then she asks me if I was circumcised…

The other complaint I hear is some people feel the length. I can understand that criticism. For the past ten years the most popular movies at the box office have been Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe, or MCU. We’ve gone from having one of those a year to 2 or 3 in a given year now. Not saying those movies are bad, but they do have a very similar formula in that every single one of them has a familiar cadence to delivery of dialogue. Every scene has to count. Every single scene in the movie has to check a specific demographic. Most movies have tried to replicate this formula in hope of replicating the amount of revenue that those movies bring. Most average people see about 3 or 4 movies in a theater a year. Chances are, at least two of those are probably Marvel Movies. So what I am saying is that audiences have been trained to except a certain type of delivery. They expect to see revelations after the credits. They expect a certain number of jokes. The Marvel formula you will! A lot of people seeing movies now might not remember Tarantino movies, where you get long discussions about piercings, elaborate descriptions about milk shakes, hamburgers, or Madonna’s Big Dick. Also this movie is a bit of a throwback film as are many of Tarantino’s earlier releases. This one has long establishing shots of people eating, dancing, or driving a car for 10 minutes while listening to the radio. There is one scene where Pitt and DiCaprio are watching a scene on an old TV set. Not sure why, but I enjoyed the Hell out of those scenes, because I am old enough to remember those kind of movies and what they were like. In other words, I remember what movies were like before the MCU cannibalized the cinaplexes around the world.

Dirty feet, in your face. Smell my feet, audiences!!!

This one is admittedly less violent than most Tarantino movies which was a massive surprise, but it was also refreshing to see that he wasn’t putting these scenes in a movie just to tic a checkbox for people with short attention spans.

I am so not falling for this “Black Friday Door Buster” bullshit again. Not even…

I mentioned that I sat through 20 fucking minutes of trailers I’ve either already seen, or movies that I don’t care about. This movie didn’t make me bored or uncomfortable, or impatient. I was falling in love with a good movie. Something I haven’t felt in a long time.

Show don’t tell. Tarantino shows you where STDs come from, he doesn’t have to tell you…

The last complaint I heard was that the “story” isn’t necessarily resolved as far as Brad Pitt’s motives. I think that’s open to your own interpretation. Some people may have forgot a movie called Pulp Fiction that is basically an assemblage of vignettes made to look like footage that was cut from a bigger movie, and deliberately shown out of sequence. I personally have to admit that I like a movie that is shown in order. There is a story here, and everything does happen in order, and things are set up for a reason, and I admit that not ALL plot points are completely spelled put for you with flashy lights and arrows, but I didn’t walk away confused. I was deeply satisfied by the resolution of this Hollywood fairy tale. I still feel after at least 24 hours of reflection, that my perfect score of 5 out of 5 cheese curds is justified and true.

So this asshole who calls himself Chuck, says he pissed into a truck’s gas tank once, and created Optimus Prime?!

In an age where movies are announced with powerpoints that show roadmaps and “phases”, for movies that will be coming out long after I am dust and rust. I am getting instantly bored out of my skull knowing every single movie coming out for the next 25 years or so. Sooo…you will have to forgive me if I might have glossed over dirty nasty feet, long scenes of driving, talking and eating, and plots that aren’t explained with crayons and lights. I went to see the kind of movie that I’d been waiting for, and am left with both a deep satisfaction, and a melancholy feeling, that Hollywood has changed so much that I don’t recognize it anymore.

Groovinator Reviews latest Tarantino Film.
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Megaforce (1982) – Cyncial Cyborg Cinema

A classic tale of stunts and thumb kisses.

by Groovinator, The Cynical Cyborg

Oh Megaforce, I have a love hate relationship with you. An unhealthy one. This movie fails the Turing Test on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin.

Megaforce is the brain child of Hal Needham, the guy responsible for such cigar chompin’ Skoal spitting, ball scratching classics as Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, and The Cannonball Run. So basically movies where rednecks explain the plot in between stunts by yelling exposition at each other through “CB radios”.

Apparently he wanted to make a franchise movie that was epic like Star Wars, with multiple movies, and lots of franchise money could be made with merchandising. Of course it might of worked, since the plot was similar to G.I. Joe, but this pre-dates it by a couple of years. More on that later.

Ponch and John’s little known stint in the “phantom army” known as Megaforce!

So we open up with some loose explanation of the super secret army known as Megaforce is basically fighting the forces of evil from a hidden base. Sound familiar? The opening crawl is actually pretty cool and reminds me of an early 90’s KMFDM video. The first scene establishes our villains, the worst I have ever seen since…nuclear man. Again, this pre-dates that too. Maybe this movie is from the future, I doubt it. More on that later too. Some schmuck is reading some kind of statement, and actually saying “comma, and period” in between, and after sentences. Worst Cobra Commander ever. I hope his ass get’s Serpentored, by season 3. (G.I. Joe fan deep cuts anyone?) Guerera played by Henry Silva is the tank commander that has had quite enough of commander Not Cobra’s shit and decides to fire the tanks at a model of a factory while the worker’s look on. Guess lunch break got extended.

So tell me good sir, does spandex ride up your ass in the dessert while shooting missiles at balloons?

We then quickly meet Zara, (Persis Khambatta), and Byrne-White ( Edward Mulhare), or as I like to call them, “Vger, and Chuckle Fuck P-0”. Who must seek out the help of Megaforce to stop the evil Guerra from blowing shit up. A limo drives them out to the middle of a desert, and a rattlesnake almost bites them during one of Chuckle Fuck P-0’s rants. Introducing Dallas ( Michael Beck We then quickly meet Zara, (Persis Khambatta), and Byrne-White ( Edward Mulhare), or as I like to call them, “Vger, and Chuckle Fuck P-0”. Who must seek out the help of Megaforce to stop the evil Guerra from blowing shit up. A limo drives them out to the middle of a desert, and a rattlesnake almost bites them during one of Chuckle Fuck P-0’s rants. Introducing Dallas (Michael Beck), who informs us that there is no rank in Megaforce, except for one commander. Well that must have a great retention program. No advancement opportunities? No employee of the month parking? Surely there has to be some reason to want to succeed in the Megaforce? Worst military since the Coast Guard!

Anyways Dallas shows Vger, and Fuck P-0 how holograms work, and then take us to meet the infamous leader of the Megaforce. After witnessing a spectacular dirt bike sequence that shoots missiles at balloons, one single dirt bike jumps over a truck, and lands. Once the helmet is removed, the locks flow out that would make Barry Gibb’s heart skip a beat. We meet “Ace Hunter”, (Barry Bostwick), well there goes MY PORNO NAME, thanks…Megaforce!

That’s right ladies. More package than any small country could even handle. MEGAFORCE!

We get the nickel tour, and Dallas introduces us to budget “Q”, and shows us the giant underground facility that has all of the high tech equipment that the world has never seen. Supposedly leaders of the world secretly contribute to this phantom army to solve world problems….wait….nah forget it. That’s all the explanation we get. We see some actually pretty cool matte paintings, and then we go dinner. Megaforce shows up wearing these really hilarious blue bell hop uniforms which really don’t make sense since this is supposed to be a “phantom army” why wear uniforms at all? Of course it is so Barry Gibb, I mean Barry Bostwick can show off his camel toe, or package, depending on which scene we see next.

Guerera stole his lighter. That’s the plot. Still more plot than Suicide Squad.

At dinner, Ace reveals that he knows everything about Guerera, and they used to be buddies, until something bad happened. He stole Ace’s lighter. I can’t make this shit up! The post dinner scene is yet another hologram showing Ace’s retarded plan to basically blow the shit out of all the units in 4 minutes, and then get Guerera to chase them into another territory. The plot is really thin, and doesn’t make a lot of logistical sense. Just know they show us a thing, and they will blow up a thing, to get Guerera away from the thing. Clear as mud? Good. Speaking of logistics…The entire time Dallas has a confederate flag on his uniform. This is probably the part where I am supposed to make some statement about racism or whatever, but fuck that, we got twitter for that shit. I am more concerned with the logistics of the confederate flag. Assuming this takes place in 1982, is it…an alternate reality 1982, where the south won the Civil War? Or is this the future? And if this IS the future…how did THAT recruitment speech go? “Hey guys, sorry about the Civil War, but we totally got this….this time around! My guess is it’s just that Hal Needham made Smokey and the Bandit, and thinks rednecks are funny. But seriously though, if this is a “phantom army” why even represent your country if they don’t know you exist? Oh fuck it..

Uniforms provided by Mattel. No, seriously.

Vger then informs Ace that she is coming along too. After an awkward training montage that ends at Dave N’ Buster’s, it is revealed that Vger has a perfect score. Yet anyway Ace reveals that bringing in an outsider would jeopardize the operation of 60 men who have trained to work together as a unit that understands each other’s every move. Well…then WHY IN THE FUCK, would you waste time and resources on this, if the answer was going to be no to begin with? No wonder gas prices are so high…thanks a lot, MEGAFORCE! That still doesn’t stop the worst love story in cinematic history from trying to happen. Even though Ace basically just man splained Vger from going out with the boys, she still loves him, they kiss and do this stupidly awkward thumb kiss thing…that creeps me out, and happens multiple times in the film. It’s just super weird! Anyways, now that THAT bullshit is out of the way…we can get to the plain, and have us some action. FINALLY!!!

How do I quit you?

This is where the most of the movie’s budget goes. The vehicles and uniforms are stealth black, and Megaforce blows the shit out of everything while a counter at the corner of the movie screen counts down. A nice touch to be honest. After this is all settled….something truly weird happens. Guerera choppers into the make shift camp, and shares a few moments and stories about lighters with Ace as they hug and kiss. What in the legends of FUCK is even going on in this movie anymore? The “evil” in this movie is basically and old flame? Fuck The Turing Test, I don’t even know what planet I am on anymore.

Know where this is going? Right up the doo da!

The next not so chocking reveal is that General Fuck P-0 has played Ace, and made his actions look like an act of war. Not surprised at all. I was just starting to like that general too. The stick up his ass, had a stick up IT’s ass. We share some more awkward thumb kisses, and several close ups of Barry Bostwick’s package, and buttocks. They are practically characters in the movie at this point. And Hal Needham has some massive homoerotic aggression pent up inside of him. Jesus Murphy!

Rednecks. Essential to any Hal Needham movie.

So Commander Ace Freeball’s grand plan is to basically split up the army, and go in separate directions, and then dump the expensive vehicles, self destruct them, and then meet up on a plane? Of course we get this lovely chase sequence of colored smoke, that doesn’t make any combat sense, but paints a lovely rainbow color across the desert floor. Unfortunately, Ace has an accident, then he goes to the tank that Guerera is in, and bangs on the hatch with his toy gun. This allows him to make the most wonderful cinematic quote in history: “The good guys always win, even in the 80’s”

The good guys always win, even in the 80’s! _Commander Ace Hunter

It’s the best part that sends this movie from being full blown trash, to a bad movie masterpiece. The transport plane had to take off, but Ace jumps back on his dirt bike and races towards it. He presses a couple of buttons, and two wings fold out of the back, and he flies up into the air like Buck Rogers. I can’t make this shit up! As he rides the motorcycle into the landing bay, he jumps off the bike and does a little sashay, and throws his hands up in the air as his men cheer him on.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane? It’s flying Bee Gees!!!

Movies like this are one of a kind. Terrible, yet charming! For all of the stupid shit I ripped on from the first sentence, such as lame villains, lack of any kind of tension, or violence, Hell almost no conflict even, it is still entertaining enough to be a cult classic. This movie failed at the box office, and never saw a sequel, but that doesn’t stop people from talking about it, or even ripping off of it. Power Rangers Megaforce, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, AND Team America all ripped off this movie years after it’s release. Mattel made all of the spandex costumes, with grenades, I can’t help but think that given a few years time, and just a different license from Hasbro would have just made this a G.I. Joe franchise. It probably still would have sucked, but it would have been better than the last two G.I. Joe movies. For as much as I fault it, I can still give this 3 out of 5 cheese curds, it has problems, but nothing about seemed to be mean spirited. I recommend watching this one in groups of people with popcorn. And remember, knowning is half the battle, I mean “deeds, not words”. MEGAFORCE!!!

Megaforce (1982) – Cynical Cyborg Cinema

Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance

by Adam M. Wilcox

Some of the best worst movies come from what we like to call “happy accidents”. It usually involves a director who’s ambitions are greater than the some of the budget, or lack of knowledge. In 1991, Amir Shervan made a happy accident called “Samurai Cop“, a direct to video knock off of Lethal Weapon, which has become a cult classic in recent years.

Movies like these are fun to watch for sure, but the “problem” is that these happy accidents are exactly that, happy accidents. You can’t plan a disaster, and have it always work. You can’t always have your cake and eat it too.

Samurai Cop was so bad, that actor Mathew Karedas (billed as Matt Hannon) tried to get fired from the production, especially after extensive re-shoots, however…the director used these scenes anyways. That is a tale for another article. Right now, let’s get back to the movie at hand. The sequel to the happy accident that was funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

I think Ian Malcolm said it best in Jurassic Park; ” Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” While it is a joy that a sequel to Samurai Cop seen the light of day, nobody stopped to think of what a movie like that would look like. All I can say is well…it exists.

Samurai Cop 2 looks like the way an REO Speedwagon tour bus probably smells; Full of stale sex, crotch sweat, spilled bear, and thousand year old cigarette smoke.

Samurai Cop 2 looks like the way an REO Speedwagon tour bus probably smells; Full of stale sex, crotch sweat, spilled bear, and thousand year old cigarette smoke. This is not a jab at Matthew Karedas, Hell, I WISHED I looked that good at his age right now. The problem is the execution of this movie. We all get it is supposed to be bad, but how much can your senses sustain the cinematic equivalent of a stroke happening in real time? I digress.

Amir Shervan met the choir invisible in 2006, so this one is “directed” by Gregory Hatanaka , who funded the release of the now widely popular original. I am using air quotes as I type this, because “directed” is a relatively loose term here. I am by no stretch of the means, a director, but I have been watching movies and videos long enough on this mortal coil, to know what works, and what does not work.

Everyone was in such a hurry to get these people back together, that nobody stopped to wonder if they should.

Samurai Cop 2 is a movie in the sense that….um…there are people on the screen that say words, and do stuff. Eventually it stops, and then there are end credits. The plot? I have no fucking clue what this movie is about. I swear I have top men working on it right now. Who? TOP…MEN… From the best I can make of it, Joe (Matt Karedas) lost his wife shortly after the first movie, when she was gunned down by a child, he then went into obscurity. His partner, “not Danny Glover”, Frank has been working as a detective ever since. Some nonsense about some not so oriental gangs are about to start a gang war, and Joe is called back out of retirement to go on “one last ride” with Frank again, to go take down the bad guys. To be fair, Joe and Frank are the best parts of the show, but we have to make room for the elephant from The Room , I mean the elephant IN The Room…Tommy Wiseau, yes the “your tearing me apart Lisa!!!” guy. He shows up as a guy named Linton, who I guess is a bad guy…. but well…most of his scenes are solo monologues where Tommy is recreating what having a stroke looks like in slow motion. You know, being Tommy! I am guessing that Hatanaka just gives Tommy an outline, turns on the camera and says….”ACTION”, and what you get is the end result. That was funny in The Room, but it’s been almost 10 years since that one came out…this is getting painful to watch, and I am a guy that LOVES Miami Connection, in the way that film snobs gush on about Citizen Kane!

This is Tommy Wiseau, yeah the guy that made “The Room”, having a stroke in slow motion….in every scene…for the entire movie!

Let’s get back to Gregory Hatanaka’s “direction” for a moment. Did you ever blow your nose so hard, that everything starts spinning. Ever get something slipped into your drink at a bar? Ever been drunk, stoned, or all of the above? THAT…is how Hatanaka does action scenes. I kid you not, The action scenes in this movie all look like you just got shitfaced. Which is a bit of a bummer, because it looked like most of the actors were actually trying, at least with the action scenes. It would have been nice to see some of them. Especially now that Matt Keredas actually gets to do more Samurai stuff in the movie this time. Damn.

Nobody bothered to tell Bai Ling that this is not a “real Hollywood picture”, not even Tommy Wiseau.

Speaking of missed opportunities, the most famous jaw in movie history, Robert Z’Dar died before this movie started filming, and technically died in the last movie, if we are even CONSIDERING CANON for Samurai fucking Cop. So the bad henchmen roll this time is played by Bai Ling, who still thinks she is a high profile babe from the 90’s. Nobody bothered to tell Bai Ling, that this was not a real Hollywood, picture, not even Tommy Wiseau. She’s still hot, but she frightens me. Pretty sure she would rip my balls off and dip them in BBQ sauce and eat them off of a party tray, and that’s only because craft services didn’t show up fast enough. She chews through scenery, like the way a Great White shark chews through a chum line in the middle of July. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, still trying to come down from those last few fight scenes…give me a break will ya?

What you don’t see in this scene, is the hand up Gerald Okamura’s ass making him talk. Still a better Mandarin than Iron Man 3.

The most impressive part of Samurai Cop 2 was the fact that they DID manage to get most of the actors and actresses back from the original movie’s line up. There is enough Botox and Bronzer in this movie to make Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee consider reconciling. Some of these people look beat to shit, and no that is not meant in a nice way. Gerald Okamura looks like his lines are operated by having somebody’s hand shoved up his ass like a weird sock puppet. Still, kudos to the Kickstarter who probably raised enough money to drive down to West Hollywood in a pick up truck full of dime bags to honk and get these lovely people to show up again. Of course that is basically the movie too. A virtual who’s who of cast members, and extras. Anyone who wasn’t alive or replaced with Bai Ling was filled with resident has beens such as Ralph Garman, and Joe Estevez, Joe fucking ESTEVEZ?! No offense, but I didn’t know this guy existed before this movie. At first I thought I was having a stroke, because he looks like Martin Sheen, and Danny Divito DeVito had an illegitimate love child raised by Abe Vigoda on a mushroom farm.

Matt Keredas gets to do way more Samurai stuff in the movie this time, but you will never see any of it, because the camera man is drunk, and wants you to be drunk with him.

The version I watched I believe was censored for nudity, but doesn’t really matter, we have online hubs for that sort of thing. I came to see another Samurai Cop, but as I feared, you can’t recreate these moments. Happy accidents are not planned. They just happen, and you get something fun out of it. I can’t be completely cynical, if people paid money to get all of these people together in a movie, then it delivered that, even if…most of it is Tommy Wiseau having a stroke, or various Hollywood nobodies standing in front of a green screen shouting expansionary dialogue. The soundtrack was brought to you by “check my soundcloud bruh”, and “yo buy my mix tape brother” productions. It’s all over the place, punk, dubstep, trap music, pick whatever you like, and dilute it with enough water to where it tastes like La Croix, or whatever kind of piss water the hipsters are snorting now days.

My face every time somebody tells me they’re “favorite unintentionally bad movies” are Sharknado.

Samurai Cop 2 is like staying at the bar way too long, and some schlubby Journey song starts playing, and there is an old drunk lady dancing by herself in the corner saying “this…this is my song….”, then pukes on the bar. Do you keep watching out of some sick morbid curiosity, or does that mean it is time to call an Uber? The director doesn’t know either. It’s just weird, and awkward, but not necessarily in a good way. I am giving this unhappy accident a 2 out of 5 cheese curds, just for being impressed that this one managed to cram as many “has been” entertainers into one movie as much as the next Sharknado. If you watch it, watch only for the morbid curiosity of what it would be like to get the cast of Samurai Cop, a direct to video movie made in 1991, into another movie. Otherwise, show yourself to the door, and try to step on anything sharp on your way out, if you know what I mean, and I think you do!

Spider-Man Far From Home. I hope he doesn’t come back.

by Reality’s Frank

Recently, in spite of my Disney boycott, I went to watch the new Spider-Man. First time I’ve gone to see a movie in the theater since “Logan.” I wasn’t impressed.

I’m not going to bother with spoiler alerts, or even breaking down the story and plot. Instead I’m going to lay out some of the problems I had with this film, and if I overlook something or remember something else wrong, you’ll have to forgive me, I only saw it once.

First of all I find it pathetically convenient that EVERY ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS vanished in the snap, or the “blip” as they’re now calling it. For no reason at all. Aunt May is still young and attractive, all the kids in Peter’s class are the same age and still in the same grade, and there’s been no development at all since the first movie.

Second. Michelle (because I refuse to call her MJ) is acting like a completely different person. I can only assume this was the one change they were willing to make in response to the fan’s displeasure. She acts like an actual human being from Earth, and no longer exists merely to be abrasive and unpleasant. And for some reason, Peter is madly in love with her. It sure would have been nice if we could have seen some of this character arc, but nope.

Third. The CG looks awful. After seeing the Hulk brought to life in the Avengers movies, I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality. All of that is gone. Most, if not all, the CG shots were on par with Harry Potter, and that’s not a compliment. The damn wolves in Twilight looked better than this crap!

Fourth. The “Peter Tingle.” Fuck. You.

Fifth. The humor consistently falls flat. Ned is still annoying, and I nearly rolled my eyes out of my head when out of nowhere he and Betty Brant are suddenly in a relationship throughout the movie which is then abruptly dropped as soon as they get home. Fuck. You.

Sixth. Night Monkey. Ned calls Peter “Night Monkey” so Betty won’t put the pieces together and realize Spider-Man is on their school trip like in the first movie and figure out he’s one of their class. And the best name he could come up with is Night Monkey. This was the point I nearly walked out.

Seventh. Mysterio’s motives. He wants revenge on Tony Stark’s legacy because he named his invention (which Tony bought for a massive and totally reasonable sum) BARF. This was the holographic device Tony demonstrated in the beginning of Civil War. Yup, Mysterio is pissed and wants to create fake disasters and make himself appear to be a hero because Stark named his invention BARF. Fuck. You.

Last. In the first post-credit scene, Peter’s secret identity is blown wide open in front of the whole world. After only two adventures, Spider-Man’s real name is revealed, and the last desperate shreds of everything that defined his character in the comics are swept away for the sake of a cameo. Aunt May, the kids at school, J. Jonah Jameson, everyone knows who he is. Fuck. You.

I hated this movie, I’ll never see it again, and Disney will never see another dime of my money for anything if I can help it. For over 10 years I religiously followed the MCU, and up to a point, they were all great films. They only started to lose me with “Thor Ragnarok” because it was clearly the beginning of the downward spiral. But that’s a rant for another day…

If you want my advice, skip this movie and every other in the MCU going forward. Once again Disney has ruined everything, forever and always. Amen.

Stranger Things: Season 3 Spoiler review

by Adam M. Wilcox

Thar be spoilers ahead, you have been warned!

When it comes to milking 80’s nostalgia for dollars, Stranger Things is one of those few water cooler type conversations that is least likely to end in an argument. The fusion of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and John Carpenter style science fiction, and horror elements are probably some of the most fun most people have had since the original run of The X-Files. Slickly shot, and told from the perspective of a child, not too dissimilar from movies such as IT, Stand By Me, E.T., or even The Goonies, it’s commitment to being a throwback series with painstaking detail has won the hearts of critics an audiences, becoming more or less, a flagship series for Netflix’s streaming service.

It’s been a full year since we seen the kids of Hawkins Indiana. Last time it came out on Halloween. This time, we see the kids on summer break during 4th of July weekend. I have to commend the film makers for releasing these seasons around the time of year in which these episodes take place. However, it’s not all sunshine, Madonna and fireworks this time. Before I become a Buzz Killington, let me get the good stuff out of the way first.

The production budget on this season is phenomenal as it should be. Marketing for this one has been literally all over the place. All summer, every product you buy has been trying to sell Spider-Man or Stranger Things. Even going so far as to resurrect the infamous Coke II, as a product tie in. More on that later.

Special effects in this season are stunning. The bigger budget really shows!

Special affects are incredible. Though used mostly by CG, images of a giant Mindflayer monster trying to cross into our world is a lovely throwback to the 1988 remake of The Blob. Also some of the attack scenes are very reminiscent of Aliens . The music is more of the same, that we have heard from previous seasons, and I don’t want to undercut how brilliant that John Carpenter-like score is, but it IS stuff we have heard before. The rest is, whatever 80’s song hasn’t been licensed for use in the series quite yet. One of the sets in this series is a large shopping complex called The Starcourt Mall. It is the first mall in Hawkins Indiana, and it’s brilliant. I am old enough to remember how much I miss that time in my life where everyone used to go to the mall, because it was just the thing to do. This show nailed that dynamic. Now days, if you even have a mall remotely near you, there might be a few stores still open, most of them are closed, and only open up once a year to sell you Halloween costumes, or wheels of cheese, and you might see a couple of old people walking around. This one is full of people, congregating, and socializing. I miss that period of my life, and even the show also reveals the unfortunate demise of mom and pop stores as a result, it still brought a warm feeling seeing a shopping mall full of people there for reasons other than forced Christmas shopping. Just sayin’…

I want a spin off series with just these two. Nobody else.

The stand out performances in THIS particular season in my opinion are from Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, and Joe Keery as Steve Harrington. Steve was more or less, the token bully, yet in an interesting enough twist, becomes a hero by the second season. In this season, the two are rather good friends who still like to take the occasional jab at each other, and they are absolutely wonderful. However, Dustin takes mostly a back seat, so that we can pair Steve up with a new character “Robin” played by Maya Hawk….and now we get into the rest of the review, which is not all bouquets and rainbows.

Meet the “Poochie” of Stranger Things… Robin (left).

First off, let me be completely honest, Robin’s character sucks. Stop me if you have heard this one. She’s a band nerd, did good in school, and enjoys tormenting her co-worker Steve, while working at an ice creamery in the local mall called Scoops. She may have a crush on Steve. Steve might like her too, but is too cool to admit it to anyone, even Dustin, who keeps pressing the issue. Over 6 episodes of trying to force some kind of a relationship between these two. At a certain point, they are captured by Russians and injected a “truth serum” which makes both of them pretty high. Robin admits to Steve that she was pretty obsessed with him in high school. After several events, Steve admits to maybe having a crush and moving to the next level….it is revealed that Robin never had a crush on Steve, she was in love with a girl that sat behind him, that he paid no attention too. TADA, she’s a lesbian! All of that buildup…for THAT? At that point, any budding chemistry is gone, and she just becomes another boring character. And that brings me to my next point.

Much like the infamous Poochie episode from The Simpsons where a hip new dog is introduced to an aging Itchy and Scratchy show mid season, the character is reviled so much, that they literally remove the character from the film cell in the middle of an episode and tell the audiences that “he went back to his home planet.” Season 3 of Stranger Things suffers from way too many characters with not enough to do with all of them. Part of what made things like Stranger Things Season 1, Stand By Me, and IT all work, is the dynamic between all of the main players. A SMALL group of friends working together to try and solve a mystery, or defeat a mysterious enemy. In this season, couples are paired, groups are separated, the strong dynamic is gone, and the chemistry between these pairings most of the time simply does not work. I would have loved to seen more from Dustin and Steve, but instead they waste this stupid paring of Steve and Robin that goes absolutely no place. I am thinking Robin needs to go back to her home planet.

“Come to the coast, get out of my face, your jokes don’t make me laugh…”

And speaking of annoying. Priah Ferguson returns as Erica Sinclair, a fan favorite from Season 2. In this season she has become a caricature. A meme. Her roll is to simply lip off to everyone who ever communicates with her about anything. To spout out jokes. And let’s talk about the jokes…

Season 1 had some jokes, and mostly they were put in for character development. Or to mildly ease the tension a bit to allow the audience time to breath in between intense scenes. In this season, it’s a regular joke-athon joke o’-rama! There are so many forced and unfunny jokes in this season that any tension that may have been built was virtually non existent as a result of if it. Nobody appreciates good humor more than I do, but in the right place, at the right time. This season borders on The Last Jedi levels of overused bad jokes. Now let’s talk about that plot, or lack thereof.

Pffft…who needs plot when you got jokes….am I right? Corn dog anyone?

Thankfully Will Buyers is not just getting abducted again. This time the mind flayer has crossed into our world, and bad boy bully low rent poor decision making Rob Lowe Billy Hargrove is the first one to get possessed by the mind flayer after a botched attempt at an affair with a local desperate housewife. After Billy, several others in the town begin to get possessed as well, turning them into basically a hive mind version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers . This pseudo zombie possession thing is actually really interesting because at any point, these people are injured or hurt, the entire hive experiences the same wounds. Eventually when the body dies, they kind of turn into a REALLY AMAZING version of the 1988 Blob I mentioned before, bones parts, feet, all floating in the muck, yet not leaving so much as a trace of slime behind them. Not the worst set up for a story, however, we have to hurry up and cut back to the jokes marathon, and we have to show how Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), and Jonathan Byers are working as interns for the local news paper which is run by misogynistic oafs who spend the day making jokes, and berating Nancy while she runs along and fetches them coffee. They even call her Nancy Drew. Nancy and Jonathan have about as much chemistry as a tube of toothpaste and a grapefruit put together. These two are a couple in real life…wow.

These two have about as much chemistry as oily rags in a fire.

And while we are on boring couples, Let’s talk about Jim and Joyce (David Harbor, and Winona Ryder. David Harbor was the cool chief that figures out what’s going on in the first season, and now he has been reduced to a bumbling idiot. These two are just annoying as cat piss. They have no chemistry, unless you consider tossing oily rags into a fire as some sort of chemistry, it might sound hot on paper, but it just stinks. I swear I am getting back to the plot, but I have to tell it this way, because this is how the show makes you feel. So much fat is left on the table, that the story is forgotten…often. Too often to make room for more awkward jokes, and forced relationships. This is Stranger Singles.

The real stars of Stranger Things search desperately for the plot.

Eventually Nancy Drew does figure out the plot that the mind flayer is back, but it’s the kids in the mall that “crack the code” which involves a large Russian military facility built underneath the Starcourt Mall which is there specifically to drill into the gate between Hawkins, and The Upside Down.

We sadly don’t get to see much of the upside down in this episode because we have to keep cutting back to relationships that will never pay off, and more damn jokes. The pacing is awful in this season, however at about episode 5….yes half way through the season, it does pick up, and it’s pretty exciting. Predictable as HELL, but entertaining enough. Our bad guys in this show are not good at all. For one thing, I liked the fact that we as the audience knew very little about the upside down, or the creatures that inhabit it. It adds to the aura of mystery. The term I believe is show don’t tell. This season makes the mistake of doing too much of both. The fact that the mind flayer possesses Billy, means that it can now communicate through Billy. Whenever Eleven does one of her mind tricks, Billy taunts Eleven, and reveals it’s plan is to take over the current world, and eliminate all of her friends by telling her that word for word. Great, now the mind flayer is a Bond villain….but hey…stay tuned for more jokes! Speaking of jokes, we get a new henchman which is a very poor attempt at making a large Russian hit-man look as much like Arnold’s 1984 Terminator as humanly possible right down to the finger less gloves, and the spike haircut. It could have been cool, but it comes off as too cheesy for even this show. Nods to 80’s nostalgia can be good, but effort has to be made.

Even The Breakfast Club didn’t need THIS MANY characters.

Eventually the Scoops kids, Dustin, and Erica do finally break into the Russian base, while copying as many lines and scenes from Die Hard as humanly possible. Without having to type out the entire synopsis of the season, the idea is to shut down the drill that is opening the gate, and the mind flayer will be stopped. Unfortunately the final two who have the two keys to do this wind up being Winona Ryder, and David Arbor. David has a scuffle that winds up with him throwing Dollar General Terminator into the drill, and Ryder has to turn both keys, and somehow Arbor goes missing. The mind flayer is destroyed with fireworks, Eleven brings back Billy from the dead long enough to sacrifice himself to the mind flayer as the kids throw fireworks at it in the food court. Once the gate is closed, the mind flayer finally dies.

We cut to a really sad ending that involves news report showing scandal in Hawkins. Then we see Ryder packing up Will, Jonathan, and Eleven, and selling the house and moving away after the entire cast has long tear filled goodbyes. Then there is a post credits scene that takes us to a base in Moscow. We see some Russians dragging somebody out of a jail cell, but “not the American”, down to a basement where apparently they have a demi-gorgon locked up like an animal, and they feed the prisoner to it! Season 4!!! Is the American David Harbor? Well I would certainly hope so, because Hellboy was a flop that won’t be seeing any sequels any time soon!

Less from THESE TWO in season 4. PLEASE?!

It sounds like a rant, I mean it’s not the worst show I have seen, but it IS a bit of a disappointment. Especially coming off the heals of the two really great seasons! I realize that not all shows can have perfect seasons all of the time, but I feel like this one had too many check boxes to tick. Stretching of story, blatant product placement for Coke II, diversity, inclusion, representation became front and center, while the fun horror, sci-fi story took a back seat. It’s not that anyone has any objection to characters coming out as gay or straight, but for the first time, I feel like this show that has been so committed to being a throw back series, has broken character by forcing agendas that do nothing for the story. Robin wants to come out as a Lesbian, fine, but it really removed the dynamic between her and Steve which they spent almost an entire season building up. It is also implied that Will “doesn’t like girls”. Now this could mean that he just simply has not hit puberty yet, or that he might eventually be coming out of the closet. At either rate, these are NOT topics that would have been explored in any 1980s horror or sci-fi film that this show is trying to emulate. I realize that you are trying to attract a diverse audience, but you are breaking character in the process, and ruining your own show. I feel like this show was originally meant to conclude after 3 or 4 seasons, but since Netflix is having a really bad summer with the stock market, and the streaming war, the push to keep this show running as long as possible is hurting the product overall. If I had to slap a rating on this, I would say 2 out of 5 cheese curds. Not the worst thing I have seen, but season 4 really needs to be better than this one for this show to last. Unfortunately it’s going to take more than ticking check boxes to get me to come back for further seasons.

Spoiler review of Stranger Things Season 3, and the uncertain future of Netflix.

Truck Stop Women

When you see a poster like this, you expect this type of a movie. This ain’t no Foxy Brown…
None of this image is in the movie. Sorry.

by Adam Wilcox

So we open up on a naked guy, and a naked girl in a bathtub, when two wise guys that looked like they walked out of Pulp Fiction walk in and blow them away. Cut away to an empty road, with two good looking ladies stranded by the side of a road wearing as little as legally possible. They are standing next to a car in the middle of the road that looks like it might be broke down, because the hood is up. A truck pulls over to help, and as the driver walks up to help, one of the ladies comes up from behind, and smacks him on the back of the head with a wrench. Two minutes later, the women are in the truck driving, and they see some dude on the side of the road. They pick up this dude, and one of them goes into the back of the truck for a little bit of this, and little bit of that. The truck pulls up to “Anna’s Place”, where we immediately cut to Anna Lieux Dressler talking on the phone like an operator, while she happens to spy on several women doing the hokey pokey with several other patrons. All of this is done while whimsical banjo music is playing, AND THIS IS JUST THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF THE MOVIE!!!

What movie did I stumble into now?

I have to confess, I figured I was in for a treat, I made a run to my home concession stand for popcorn, this aught to be a HOOT! However… The problem with this movie, is that it can neither find a tone, nor decide what it wants to be.

The worst wise guys since Mario and Luigi. Forgeddabouditt…

The plot is basically that Anna runs a brothel/truck chop shop. A bunch of mafia guys from “the east” want to take over the operation. Also, there is a subplot of her daughter Rose (Claudia Jennings), is losing interest in the truck stop, and wants to get away from her controlling mother.

Ask for the special. Also ask for an HIV test.

In any tangible universe, that is actually not the worst plot to a movie. In fact with the right director, it could be pretty bad ass. The problem is that this movie is directed by Mark Lester, the same genius who made Commando, Firestarter, Roller Boogie, and Class of 1999, which is why I wanted to watch it in the first place. Also with a poster and a title like that…how about boobs? If we are following Joe Bob Briggs style drive in totals, give us the boobs. There are plenty of boobs. In fact the plot and story occasionally peeks out around the boobs to remind you that you are watching a movie that is trying to tell a story.

If you were always hitchhiking with your thumb, clearly you have been doing it wrong.

With movies like this, I would be OK with the boobs for chuckles gag while the banjo music constantly reminds us that this movie is about REDNECKS, in case you might be too stupid to remember. But this movie’s worst sin is the inability to pick a tone. If it was supposed to be an action movie, let’s commit to that. If it is supposed to be high drama, let’s do that. If this is supposed to be a slapstick comedy with boobs and banjo music, then commit to that. Trying to blend all of them together makes any of the other genres not work. Like one minute I am supposed to laugh while a sheriff is chasing a half naked woman half his age out into the parking lot wearing nothing but his tighty whiteys and a cowboy hat, and the next minute some lady is getting shot through the chest. It’s too much excess, and not enough glue to make any of it work at all. At this point the film makes you feel guilty for laughing at any of that stuff earlier, and who needs a movie called Truck Stop Women to make you feel bad about yourself?! Fuck you movie!

Is that a drumstick in your hand, or are you just happy to see me?

It’s not to say the movie is complete loss. There are some moments of half way competent acting. Some not so much. The two “wise guys” are about as Italian as Mario and Luigi. The overall story is not the worst thing I have ever heard, but again…pick a tone movie! It’s basically Sons of Anarchy meets Meatballs, meets Smokey and the Bandit. Yes all of those movies are fun, but not meant to be mixed together. Kind of like Spaghetti, Ice Cream, and Tuna salad, might be great, but not mixed together and served to you in a paper bowl at room temperature. Yes this one is a hot mess. I am giving it 2 out of 5 cheese curds. Barely worth your time. Move along cowboys. Ten Four?

The Guilty Pleasure of Godzilla Movies: A Retrospective.

by Reality’s Frank

Recently, as I progressed through the marathon of my entire DVD collection, I’ve come to the “G” section and watched every Godzilla movie in order of production with only three exceptions: “Godzilla King Of The Monsters,” “Godzilla’s Revenge,” and the 1998 American Godzilla. I skipped Godzilla KOTM because it’s just “Gojira” with a few new scenes featuring Raymond Burr added in. “Godzilla’s Revenge” was skipped because frankly it’s embarrassing to watch, being more focused on some stupid kid who fantasizes about being friends with Godzilla’s son, Manilla (pronounced “Meen-ya”). And finally the American Godzilla was skipped because if it were a food, it would be Campbell’s Cream of Asshole Soup.

Now interestingly enough, watching the entire Godzilla franchise reveals no less than four separate continuities or timelines. This is played out with time travel, re-launches, and flat-out mistakes. And so, in the interest of fun and completely wasted time, I thought I’d explore this.

The first movie, “Gojira,” was released in Japan in 1954. It was groundbreaking stuff. Naturally there were many giant monster movies in that time period, such as “King Kong” and “Earth Vs. The Spider,” but “Gojira” revolutionized the genre. Before, the monsters had always been obvious visual effects: Kong was a puppet brought to life with stop-go animation, while The Spider was literally just close-up footage of a normal spider superimposed in the movie alongside the rest of the actors and backgrounds. But “Gojira” was completely different. In “Gojira,” the monster was a guy in a rubber suit tromping around a fully detailed miniature city which ensured two things: the monster would always be in scale to his surroundings, and the monster could really interact with his environment.

Now the most important fact to take away from “Gojira” in regards to this piece is the fact that at the end of the movie, Gojira is clearly killed and completely destroyed. I mean he’s gone, wiped out, finito. Elvis has left the building. One year later, (and Toho was good at turning out a new movie on a yearly basis) Toho released a sequel called “Godzilla Raids Again.” Blah blah details, blah blah plot, and in the end Godzilla is lured into a box canyon on a glacial island and buried under hundreds of tons of ice, end of movie.

After GRA was released, Toho decided to give this particular monster a break to focus on other movies such as Mothra and Rodan. But one noteworthy thing happened during this time: “Godzilla Raids Again” was re-titled “Gigantis the Fire Monster” for the American release, even though this was clearly bullshit. The new dialogue written for the English dubbed version suggests that Gigantis is a different monster than Gojira with a completely different origin, with a bunch of crappy stock footage thrown in to back up the history of the monsters, but fortunately this was overlooked and never mentioned again.

Seven years later, Toho remembered that they really liked making money, so they decided to go back to what they knew worked and produced “King Kong Vs. Godzilla.” This movie was primarily stupid, especially considering the original script was actually supposed to be about a gigantic Frankenstein monster, but was changed at the last minute to Kong. But it did set the tone of the movies from then on. Every Godzilla movie that came out over the next thirteen years, from “King Kong Vs. Godzilla” to “Terror of Mechagodzilla,” was done according to the funky 60’s and 70’s film making style, with ridiculous music and some really idiotic camera work. However, the continuity of the series remained fairly constant, with a few slips here and there but no glaring contradictions.

After “Terror of Mechagodzilla,” Toho once again decided to put Godzilla on hiatus for another ten years until 1985, when they released a movie alternately called “Godzilla,” “Godzilla Returns,” or “Godzilla ’85.” This movie kick-started the second continuity in which every movie since the first “Gojira” was completely forgotten about, much like how “Superman Returns” disregards parts 3 and 4. In “Godzilla ’85” the new monster goes back to his roots, he’s no longer the protector of the Earth who frequently teamed up with other monsters and performed victory dances, instead he’s once again a terror who appears from the sea to destroy Tokyo and to feed on the energy from the nuclear power plants.

So now Toho had finally deleted the lasting embarrassment of the films from the 60’s and 70’s by striking them all from the record, just like pretty much everything in the “Highlander” franchise after the second movie, and yet they STILL never mention where this new Godzilla comes from as the first Gojira was still quite dead.

This new Godzilla lasted until 1991 when Toho released “Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah.” This is the movie that not only kick-starts the third continuity, but also further confuses the series. In this movie, time travelers from the 2200’s come back to present day Japan to warn of an impending attack by Godzilla that will completely destroy the entire country, so they convince the nation’s leaders to let them take a small group of scientists and journalists back in time with them to 1945 near the end of the second world war. It is here for the first time that we see Godzilla’s true origin: he was an actual T-Rex that defended the Japanese soldiers by scaring away the American troops, although he was badly injured in the process.

The Japanese soldiers were then recalled from the island, and the time travelers, now able to work unnoticed, transported the dinosaur to another island, theorizing that if the dinosaur were on a different island further from the testing site of the A-bomb, he wouldn’t be subjected to the radiation that caused him to mutate into Godzilla. The time travelers, in the process, leave behind three little monsters called Doraks that are intended to receive the radiation instead and turn into Ghidorah. Upon returning to the present, Godzilla appears to no longer exist (so how do they even remember him?) but now Japan has been terrorized by Ghidorah all this time.

It turns out the future people can control Ghidorah and intend to use him to destroy Japan because in the future, Japan has become so prosperous that they’ve bought up nearly half the countries in the world. BUT (I told you this would get confusing) the people in the present decide to try to find the dinosaur and subject him to a new dose of radiation to make a NEW Godzilla, only to discover that the dinosaur has already been irradiated by a sunken submarine and become Godzilla anyway. This is where all of the previous continuity goes to shit. According to this new timeline, this third Godzilla is actually the first Godzilla because now even the first Gojira never happened. Also, because he was mutated with modern radiation, Godzilla is even bigger and meaner than ever before.

Oh but we’re not done yet! In 1993 we got “Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2” where now MG is built by humans instead of aliens, and a new Manilla is introduced, although he’s now just referred to as Baby. This movie sets the stage for “Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla” the following year. Baby has gotten a lot bigger and the appearance of Spacegodzilla confuses the timeline even more because he’s supposed to be caused by one of two possible ways in which Godzilla DNA made it into space: either by the destruction of Biollante (a plant monster created by combining a rose with Godzilla DNA), or it was carried into space by Mothra who was on his way to deflect a meteor that would destroy the Earth in 1999, neither or which happened now because that particular Godzilla had been erased from history.

In 1995 “Godzilla Vs. Destroyah” tried to once and for all bring some closure to the whole mess by killing off the new/original Godzilla with a surprisingly brilliant idea: Godzilla’s heart, which is basically a nuclear reactor that powers his atomic breath, is starting to melt down, causing his body to glow red with the nearly 1200 degree (C) heat. The danger involved with this is that if Godzilla’s heart finally does melt down, the heat generated would be sufficient to ignite the Earth’s atmosphere and destroy the planet. Unfortunately there’s one more problem with the timeline that the writers overlooked: Destroyah is supposed to be some microorganism mutated by the oxygen destroyer used in the first Gojira, even though the timeline had been changed in “Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah” so that the oxygen destroyer was never used.

Anyway, in the end Godzilla finally does melt down, but the military manages to cool him down just enough with a new type of “0 degree laser” so he doesn’t destroy the Earth, and Godzilla jr. is now set to take over.

Four years later, “Godzilla 2000” came out with a brand new looking Godzilla which I refer to as “Beefcake Godzilla” because of his thicker, more muscular neck. This begins the fourth timeline. Nothing of any major importance happens in this movie except to establish the new monster design, which carries over to the next movie, “Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus” which again is of no major importance except to sell tickets for another monster fight.

Oddly enough the next year Toho shifted gears and gave us a movie with the long-winded title of “Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Giant Monsters All-out Attack.” It’s hard to understand where this movie fits in with the rest of the series because so many things have been blatantly changed. First off we have a different looking Godzilla from the last two movies, more like the classic Godzilla style except he has completely white eyes. Next they took Baragun and King Ghidorah and arbitrarily changed their origins, so now they’re guardian monsters alongside Mothra, even though in the past, Baragun was an enemy of Mothra; and Ghidorah was, of course, an enemy of the entire planet, first coming from space, and then from the future.

In the end, all three guardian monsters are defeated and Godzilla is destroyed in a very clever way with a drill missile fired from inside his body causing his atomic breath to blast through his own neck and blow up his body. I guess this must be a stand-alone story because none of it is ever mentioned again and the following movie goes back to the Beefcake Godzilla.

This time, in “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla,” Toho puts the final nail in the coffin of the series’ continuity for anyone who was blissfully unaware of the timeline seperation (which confused the hell out of me for quite a while until I started this analysis.) A new Mechagodzilla is built with the bones of the first Godzilla that was killed with the oxygen destroyer in “Gojira.” Unfortunately, during the first confrontation, Godzilla’s roar awakens the original Gojira’s DNA that was used to make the DNA based computers in Mechagodzilla, causing him to go wild and attack the city until his power supply runs out.

This leads directly to the next movie, “Godzilla: Tokyo SOS” in which the two fairies from Infant Island come to tell the humans that Mothra is pissed that Godzilla’s bones were disturbed and that they must be returned to the bottom of the sea or else Mothra will destroy the city himself. Blah blah fighting, blah blah twin Mothra larva, blah blah Mechagodzilla becomes sentient doesn’t want to fight anymore, and Beefcake Godzilla is finally defeated and carried to the bottom of the sea tightly strapped to Mechagodzilla.

Lastly of course, until “Shin Godzilla,” the big 50th anniversary movie, was “Godzilla: Final Wars,” which is FUCKING AWESOME! Aliens from Planet X come to Earth, brainwash all the monsters and set them on a rampage, so the remaining humans have to free Godzilla from his icy prison at the South Pole and lead him around the world to defeat the entire roster of his enemies, including the American Godzilla from ’98, now called Zilla. Zilla dies like a bitch.

Finally, we have a new series of American Godzilla movies, dubbed the “Monsterverse” which in all honesty I don’t care for, and as before Toho responded with something incredible: “Shin Godzilla.”

“Shin Godzilla,” or “Godzilla Resurgence,” has an amazing premise: what if Godzilla appeared for the first time today? The new design is outstanding, Godzilla has some amazing new abilities, and the story is a cutting critique of the Japanese government being hopelessly mired in policy and red tape. SEE THIS MOVIE!

I’ve always enjoyed Godzilla movies, with the goofy monster costumes, the hokey music, the wanton destruction of innocent pagodas in nearly every movie, and the sappy morals; it’s always fun to just let myself get drawn into the story and suspend disbelief. People today are a little too cynical for their own good, myself included. There’s no shame in admitting, even to ourselves, that there’s nothing wrong with putting on a movie or a show with no intellectual value and throwing a bag of popcorn in the microwave. So go watch something stupid, it’s good for you. As I always say, when you can truly appreciate and enjoy bad movies, it allows you to more fully appreciate the good ones.

I love trains, but they always go straight to my thighs!

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (the new one, because names are hard) A Raiders of the Lost Flicks Review

by Adam M. Wilcox

Seeing Godzilla King of the monsters split my personality in two. Not because of the confusing name. (Godzilla originally released as ゴジラ Gojira in Japan, in 1954, and then re-edited with Raymond Burr as master of exposition for America and released as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, even though it has only one monster.) No, because the five year old me, wants to say OMG the monsters are so cool, and then Godzilla was like RAAAARRRRRR, and Monster Zero, was like BLAM!!! and then…omg it was amazing!!! BEST MOVIE EVER! Then the adult in me is like, yeah it was fun…but THINGS!

Godzilla tries Ma po tofu, Sichuan with Sriracha Sauce for the first time. Nailed it!

Those things being the script is running on some serious first draft type fumes. Literally anything to get the monsters together. The impressive cast which boasts personal favorites such as Ken Wantanabe, Sally Hawkins, Bradley Whitford, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Kyle Chandler, despite the scripts best efforts to give them something desperately to do, are there to basically shout exposition to the audience. It might have been better off to just have an announcer with a famous gravelly voice just say: “ROUND 1, LET THEM FIGHT”, but you get the idea. Good actors, bad script. Script is there only because something has to get these monsters fighting.

That moment when you show up for Season 3 of Stranger Things, and realize your on the set of a Godzilla movie. The director goes with it, and the studio just runs with it to save themselves from embarrassment.

In regards to the monsters, I think the movie does a good job respecting these creatures. When they show up, it’s a huge deal, and everyone is excited. It’s basically all star wrestling with kaiju, but this movie refers to them as titans which works, because it ties nicely back to several versions of ancient folklore which the movie goes to great lengths to explain.

Rodan VS The X-Jet. Well at least THIS movie made money. Too Soon?!

The best parts are when these creatures do show up, and the special effects ARE gorgeous, but I do feel like I could have used some more daytime fights, because Kong: Skull Island did those much better. Speaking of Skull Island, did you know we are three films into an expanded universe now? That’s right, there multiple call backs to Monarch which is the bad good guys from Skull Island, depending on how you look at an organization that seems to have deep pockets and does nothing more than build expensive facilities around monsters just waiting for them to wake up and destroy everything. And that brings me to my first minor gripe. All bs aside, where do these funds come from? I realize there is suspension of disbelief around a movie with giant monsters using Washington D.C. as a giant Octagon, but still…this much money could have paid for some artificial titans to be built, oh wait that is the plot for Pacific Rim…my bad. Nevermind.

“Come at me bro!”

The script is basically, Vera Farmiga, and Kyle Chandler lost a kid in 2014, when Godzilla beat up whats his face in the last movie. They split up. Kyle takes pictures of tigers in the wild, and Vera Farmiga works for Monarch. She basically makes fancy duck calls, that wake up ancient sleeping lizards. No way that will ever go wrong! Well, all of them get woke up at one point, and the world is turned into chaos faster than you can say congress!

Meanwhile, Washington D.C., Election Day, 2020…

That is where the fun begins! I would not classify this one as disaster porn, the world mostly becomes a giant backdrop for these monsters to square off. While I would have prefered a little less rain and snow, the monster fights were fun. A true summer popcorn flick. At no point do you ever have to think too much, but I would not classify it as insulting either.

You know it’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye. Keep an eye on your children at Disney theme parks people!!!

One thing that always drives me nuts in most monster movies, and if you have ever seen even one Asylum movie, you will get this reference. It is a trope that I have not yet named, where most of the cast carries the movie by shouting exposition to a computer monitor of some sort, so that the audience knows why the monsters are doing stuff. This movie does SOME of that, but I will give it a partial credit for at least pretending to give the cast something to do from time to time, even if it comes off as a bit weak. Also, if you liked the scale from the Gareth Edwards 2014 film, I think they played off of that nicely with this one as well.

Godzilla: “These June mosquitos are a bitch!”

I did stay for the post credit extras. While there ARE several mentions of Kong in the movie, there was no big teaser for Godzilla VS Kong. I won’t spoil the post credit scene, but I will say that if you are doing the post movie pee pee dance like I was, you can probably skip it, and not have to worry.

SPOILER: Millie Bobby Brown does not beat up Whitney Houston in this movie.

I grade everything on the cheese curd scale, so I have to remove two points, one for a really lame script, and another for having some really lackluster acting. I found it nearly impossible to really care about any of these characters or ever even feel like any of them were in any real kind of danger even when they were maybe less than a foot away from giant titans and what not. I am giving it a 3 out of 5 cheese curds. I think it is worth a look. If you liked Kong: Skull Island or you are sucker for monsters movies like I am, I think you will be entertained. However if that movie annoyed you, this probably won’t win you over either. Minor spoiler, don’t expect the gender of Godzilla to be explained. Also, Millie Bobby Brown does not beat up Whitney Houston, or get her hooked on Crack.

Check out the video review here!

Editorial: Batman Villains I’d Like To See On The Screen

by Arnór Hermannsson Wikström

Hey! We’re all nerds here at Raiders, and nerds have opinions on Batman. Sometimes those opinions differ. That’s okay. But when it comes to the Caped Crusader I’m always right! I have hundreds of Batman figures in a glass cabinet in my living room, I have a rough meter of Batman DVDs in my shelf, I have two Batman tattoos (yeah, one of them is Heath Ledger as the Joker, but I’m still not mainstream, goddamnit!), I’m a big ol’ Batman nerd, is my point! I love Back To The Future, Star Wars and I quite like Hellboy, but Batman is my motherloving jam!

So, now that Robert Pattinson is gonna play Batman (I’m fine with that by the way, all aboard the R-Batz… I’m quite alone here at Raiders), who do I want him to kick in the teeth of?

If you’re anything like me, you love the Joker to bits, but you wouldn’t really miss him if he disappeared for a decade.

Believe me, my feelings on this are strong, and important damnit!

Here we go; the 5 villains I’d most want R-Batz to beat the shit outta:

  1. Mr Freeze
250px-Mr._Freeze_Batman_Annual_Vol_2_1

Yeah, I know. Batman & Robin sucked and Arnold Schwarzenegger was terrible as Mr Freeze. The funny thing about that is that The Arnold would’ve actually been a perfect Freeze if he’d played him as he played one of the two title characters in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Hard, quiet and unfeeling, but with a growing heart on the inside.

Mr Freeze was already an established character by the nineties, but when Bruce Timm produced the Batman; The Animated Series double episode Heart Of Ice, he was re-established as one of the most endearing villains in the entire rouges gallery. Sadly, he was mauled to death in Schumacher’s toy commercial of a movie. But hey! Bane was also in that piece of shit, and he was freaking awesome in The Dark Knight Rises!

4. The Mad Monk

Monk-DC-Comics-Batman

The monk was one of Batman’s earliest enemies, but he hasn’t been a part of the rogues gallery since the forties. Originally he was a kind of cult leader, who pretended he was a vampire. In 2006, Batman comic writing wizard Matt Wagner reinvented the Monk as an actual vampire, but he doesn’t need to be supernatural to work.

He could easily be reinvented as a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who uses the dim-minded hicks who follow hi for his own hidden agendas.

But if they keep him as a vampire, R-Batz and the monk can sparkle each other to death… Damn, Twilight jokes are so old I wish someone would slap me to death for making one.

  1. The Phantasm/The Reaper
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The Phantasm is an amazing villain. Introduced in the animated movie  Batman: The Mask Of The Phantasm, the Phantasm is a mysterious and dark figure. A bringer of melodramatic death.
Yeah, I know! All us fans already know who the Phantasm is, and the secret identity thing was a big thing about the Phantasm. Well, screw you for also being a dumb nerd, you goddamn sunnova…, I’ll kick your… wait— sorry. Where was I?

The Phantasm! Yes! Outdated.

Funny thing! The Phantasm is based on the main villain in the Batman: Year Two comic book story line. In that story Gotham was haunted by a masked vigilante called The Reaper. In Year Two, The Reaper eventually turned out to be Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend’s dad, and in The Mask Of The Phantasm, Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend’s dad was actually a red herring, because it turned out that The Phantasm was actually Batman’s girlfriend and not her dad!!!!! So if you base the movie character on both those villains, you still have a nice little mystery to unfold.

  1. Clayface
Clayface_(Basil_Karlo)_-_True_New_52

Officially, there have been a whole shitload of Clayfaces, but for a movie we could join all the best parts into one, to make an ultimate Clayface.

He could be an actor who wanted to be able to mould his face, but who ultimately made his entire physical being a malleable blob. He can turn into anyone he wants, but only for a limited time, and he can only maintain an erection for a second. But he can temporarily make his outer layer hard as rocks, and therefore make himself into mallets and axes, and he can also slurp through the sewers like a high tide. Batman’s gotta get new boots to step on this piece of trash.

  1. Two-Face
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Wait… what are you saying? Two-Face has already been the villain in two movies?
I know. Both versions were terrible. As much as I love both Batman Forever and The Dark Knight, both those films did Two-Face a great disservice.

In Batman Forever he has the Joker’s personality, and he is shown being able to ignore the outcome of his coin-toss, as he is seen, at one point, flipping the coin over and over until he gets a desired result, making that part of his personality completely unnecessary, so when Batman finally throws a bunch of coins into the air to confuse him, he should just as easily be able to shake that off since he clearly doesn’t need the coin.

In The Dark Knight, the character of Harvey Dent is written and played perfectly, Aaron Eckhardt is amazing in the role. He’s also great when he finally turns to Two-Face, although he looks like his burns should’ve left him at least mute and blind (how does a man lose his entire face on one side of the head without it impairing his eyesight and speech?).
But Two-Face is dead within twenty minutes, when he’s actually a major showrunner in the comics. His similarity to Batman makes him one of the most interesting villains in the entire comic canon. There must be a Two-Face who’s a main villain like Tommy Lee Jones, and as real as Aaron Eckhardt, and who can give Batman a seriously rough time..

Do you disagree with my list?

Write an email to idontcare@whogivesashit.questionmark

The Guilty Pleasure of Bad Movies: The Star Wars Holiday Special.

by Reality’s Frank

(sigh) the things I do for you people…

You know the saying “two in the pink, one in the stink?” Well this is the one in the stink. Premiering once, and only once, in 1978, this made-for-tv special is the only thing in the Star Wars franchise worse than the new Disney sequels. And yes, that does include Rey.

The movie starts out with Han and Chewbacca fleeing from an imperial star destroyer while trying to get Chewy home for “Life Day,” the Wookie Christmas. That’s all there is to their sub-plot, trying to get Chewbacca home. After the credits, we’re treated to the first juicy slice of hell as we’re introduced to Chewy’s family: his wife, Mala; his son Lumpy; and his father Itchy (I swear I’m not making this up).

“Hang on, Chewy! They’re not making us do a variety show without a fight!

The entire scene plays out with wookie grunting serving as the only dialogue. There are no subtitles, no recognizable sign language, no hints at all about what the hell is going on. And it’s like this every time these characters are on screen. The only relief we get from this is when there are human characters interacting with them, but as the human characters are hardly less annoying, it’s small comfort.

Disney+ series pending…

What follows is a series of short skits throughout the feature (because I’m not going to dignify this by calling it a movie,) making this a kind of variety show that was rather popular during the 70’s, but the only guest stars apart from the core cast of Star Wars are Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Harvey Corman. Prepare for horrors…

After a weird, spacey kind of Cirque du Soleil, Mala calls Luke Skywalker and R2-D2, apparently hoping for news about why Chewy is late for Life Day. Mark Hamil, heavily covered with makeup to hide the signs of his recent car accident, bravely tries to carry this conversation alone, and after being worried for a total of 8 seconds, he’ suddenly convinced that everything is fine, although this might have been a ploy to get off the phone so he could finish fixing his X-wing engine. And with that, he’s out until the end.

“Wait! I’m only getting paid HOW much for this?!”

We’re then blitzed straight into the next skit and the first appearance of Art Carney (but sadly not the last). Art plays a trader named Saun Dan, who seems to be an old friend of Chewy’s family, and he bumbles through a scene with a transparently evil imperial officer. And when I say transparently evil, I mean he speaks with a low, sinister voice, and scoffs and scorns everything in sight. The only thing missing from the picture would be if he came into the shop casually eating a baby and singing Celine Dion. It would seem the empire is recruiting former members of Slytherin House. This goes into a very brief cameo by Darth Vader, and then a commercial break.

All citizens are warned to be on the lookout for this man! He will come to your house with presents and never leave! He is considered annoying and extremely dangerous!

The commercials are by far some of the most entertaining parts of the show, because, thankfully, whoever it was that recorded this back in the day neglected to edit them out.

And now, a cooking show. Yes, that’s right, a cooking show. Mala is only NOW starting to prepare the Life Day feast, and so she tunes into a program starring (sigh) Harvey Corman, in drag, and painted silver. This scene sets the tone for all of Harvey’s appearances: long and painful. Just imagine if Rachel Ray was crossed with Julia Child and given two extra arms.

“I took a break from the Carol Burnette show for this?”

Another bit with Han and Chewie, then right back to the crap. An imperial officer sends out a broadcast announcing that the Wookie planet “Kazook,” (not “Kashyyyk” as it’s always been known) is under martial law while they investigate reports of rebel activity in the system. I wasn’t aware the empire had the man-power to police an entire planet, but oh well…

Following this ominous announcement comes an even more ominous development: Art Carney shows up at the wookie’s house bearing “Life Day presents,” the irony of which was not lost on me as Art once played Santa Claus in “The Night They Saved Christmas.” Lumpy is given a wrapped present and he (thankfully) goes to his room. Unfortunately, this leads into the first, and longest, musical interlude. Art gives Itchy a “proton pack” for a machine called the “mind evaporator,” that, despite its name, is NOT a torture device, but some kind of entertainment system that projects images directly into the brain. This would be pretty cool, except the cartridge is basically soft core porn, as the woman it features is based on his ideal sexual desire (why a wookie has a hard-on for humans, we never find out) and we can only assume that Itchy is sporting a boner in the living room.

“Make sure that this time you wipe it down after, ok?”

After this nightmare, we’re treated (or perhaps subjected) to another cameo from the core cast, this time from Princess Leia and C-3PO. This is almost a replay of the Luke Skywalker scene as Mala is looking for info on Chewbacca. The only slight change is that now Art butts into the conversation, and after the same momentary concern, Leia abruptly becomes convinced that everything is probably fine and signs off.

“3PO, call my agent. He is SO fired…”

Suddenly, a ship flies overhead, and the family is sure this is the sound of Chewbacca’s arrival. Lumpy excitedly runs to the door to be met by some storm troopers and another imperial officer, going door-to-door looking for rebels. Once again, the imperials are so transparently evil that it occurred to me that the Nazis in “Schindler’s List” were more subtle.
This goes right into the second musical number featuring the Jefferson Starship (get it? because it’s Star Wars and they ride around in star ships?). It was at this point that I began to wish I was watching “Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer.” Sure it may be goody-goody crap made for little girls in the 80’s, but at least it told a coherent story and maintained a consistent tone.

Art Carney leaves (finally) and we then get what is easily the coolest part of the whole show: the cartoon. I won’t go into it much here, but it’s done as if it’s a common, Saturday morning cartoon in this universe, strangely starring the rebel forces and Chebacca himself. How many kids get to watch cartoons starring their fathers? Then Lumpy is sent upstairs to clean his room, but instead, he starts playing with his present: a mini transmitter that includes an instructional video starring… (sigh) Harvey Corman as a robotic life form that is constantly running down and trying to fix himself. Maybe it looked funnier on paper…

Han’s embarrassing “Wolverine” phase

After this, another imperial broadcast announces that everyone has to watch the following reality program, for…reasons…

It seems that Bea Arthur replaced the guy working the bar in the Mos Eisley cantina, and she has to deal with her new stalker, played once again by Harvey Corman. This whole scene is totally pointless and uncomfortable. Somehow, the producers must have thought it would be cool or perhaps funny for Harvey Corman’s character to ingests everything through a hole in the top of his head. The empire imposes a curfew on the entire planet (again, how?) and Bea Arthur has to sing a song to convince all the violent, drunken space bums to leave. This song is, at least, kind of catchy, as it’s set to a slower, jazzy rendition of the cantina tune from the first Star Wars movie, you know the one. Also, you can play a drinking game with every time she says “friend.”

You ever wonder if he uses his head anus thingy to get freaky?

Yes, this was required viewing by the empire.

When the new guy makes the mistake of playing “Piano Man” on the juke box

Back in the “main plot,” the imperial soldiers are called back to base, but they leave one trooper behind to wait for Chewy. The trooper discovers the return orders were made by Lumpy and his transmitter, so he chases him through the house and outside, where Chewbacca and Han appear to dispatch the trooper with a glorious Wilhelm scream. Hugs and kisses all around, then Han leaves to hide the Millenium Falcon before someone finds he’s double-parked and gives him a ticket.

Art Carney comes back for one last scene, because his agent obviously insisted he get a certain amount of screen time. He bullshits the imperial officer who sent out a general summons for the dead trooper, the FINALLY leaves once and for all.

And with this, everything grinds to a halt as Chewy and Mala gaze into each other’s eyes and begin the incomprehensible rites of celebrating Life Day. This could best be described as that moment on Christmas afternoon where everyone is done thanking each other for the presents, dinner has been served, and now it’s quiet and no one really knows what to do next. You’d think the show was finally over, but no. There’s still more pain to endure.

The wookies dim the lights, hold up their glowing glass balls, put on red snuggies, and all line up to walk into a giant glowing special effect in front of the blue screen (no green screens in the 70’s). Now at last comes the grand finale, and it’s stupid. For some reason, all the wookies are now in some kind of cave and inexplicably, R2 and 3PO are there to greet them. How? Why? Huh? Then Luke, Leia, and Han run in to remind the audience that yes, this is indeed a Star Wars story. And then Leia sings. And it sucks. And it goes on WAY too long. And the tune she’s singing to is set over the Star Wars main theme, and they do not match at all.

The collective “I hope the paycheck clears” look

And that’s it. Except for a montage of random scenes from the REAL movie, there’s a couple more commercials, including one for the first line of Star Wars figures and toys, and then it ends with Chewy and his family sitting around the table. The end.

As you can imagine, this never officially went to video, and the only copies of it you can find are rough, blurry bootlegs made from the original broadcast. You can find it on youtube, or you can maybe download it from a torrent site. I recommend seeing it at least once, especially with the rifftrax, because it IS interesting, it’s certainly unique, and with enough alcohol, it could even be funny. The alternative is “Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer” because it’s…wait a minute…I used that as a positive example earlier…damn…