Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Now?

Hello Constant Reader,

As you are more than well aware, Midnight Cinephile has lost quite a bit of steam this year.  It's a bit complicated, but I've found myself drifting away from constantly droning on about movies that only (and precious few others) seem to care about.

I've tried various methods to make Midnight Cinephile a more interactive place and I can't seem to inspire much conversation among the few readers that I have.  It's become clear that I'm going about this whole thing wrong and it's taken the wind out of my sails.

I am not shutting Midnight Cinephile down, but I don't think I will be generating any new content for a little while.  I hope that those of you who do come here on a regular basis will continue to check in every now and then....maybe read some old articles until I figure out what to do with everything.

I would like to thank all of you who come here and read my bizarre little love letters to bizarre cinema.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and I will see you all soon.

Much love,

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Metroid: The Sky Calls - Samus Aran Gets Gritty

If, like me, you grew up in the golden age of video games, playing 8-Bit classics such as Metroid, then undoubtedly you thought more than once "Man, this would me such an awesome movie!"  Then the Super Mario Bros movie happened and pretty much but the kibosh on future Nintendo films.  Fans have been clamoring for feature film versions of classic video games since and the attempts that Hollywood has made at creating good video game themed movies has been quite dismal.

Enter Rainfall films, the three man operation who was behind the epic Legend of Zelda trailer that IGN used as a prank for April Fools Day several years ago.  Metroid: The Sky Calls is an eleven minute short that is based on the classic Nintendo franchise.  Though it is based on the games series, the short itself does not take any story cues from the games.  Instead it uses the established universe created by the franchise and tells a new story.

Nerd extraordinaire Jessica Chobot plays Samus as she investigates a strange signal that may lead her to discover what happened to the race of beings that raised her as a child.  She does an outstanding job, I thought.  A good portion of the film is CGI, with her role relegated mostly to head shots inside her helmet (think Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man) but I think she's got the stuff to carry the character for a feature film.

The film perfectly emulates the dark sci-fi of the 70's - especially films like Alien and 2001, while still perfectly encapsulating the look and feel of the Metroid universe.  This was actually not a stretch because Metroid was in fact designed to emulate those films to begin with.  There is a palpable sense of desolation and isolation.

Back in August, Nintendo expressed interest in expanding their brand beyond video games and possibly allowing their IP's to be used in official movies again (The Sky Calls is an unofficial fan film).  If they are serious, then they should sit up and take notice.  There is so much love and care that was put into this short.  My only complaint is that it was not longer.  I really got sucked into the micro-story and wanted to know more about what happened at the end.

Check out the film below and let me hear your thoughts on it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Embryo - They Grow Up So Fast, Don't They?

D: Ralph Nelson
W: Anita Doohan & Jack W. Thomas 

S: Rock Hudson, Barbara Carrera, Diane Ladd
Rated PG - Approx 104 Minutes
Plura Service Company/Sandy Howard Productions

 - From Embryo to woman in 4 and a half weeks.

Alternate Titles:
Embryo Lethal - Spain
The Devil's Workshop - Greece
The Brood of Evil - West Germany
Fetus - Turkey
Created To Kill - USA Alternative Title

"You let me win!  Nobody lets me win!!!"
                                                                -Frank Riley

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at a certain point in the late 60's/early 70's filmmakers seemed to feel a need to legitimize their science fiction and horror films.  More and more often you would find a preamble to the film, talking about the very real nature of the film's subject matter.  Take for example today's film:  Embryo.  Before we even get started we're met with some preambled text that reads:



                                                                                              CHARLES R. BRINKMAN III  M.D.

That's a bit on the heavy handed side, which makes the film that follows all the more difficult to watch.  The film takes itself WAY to seriously and tries to pass itself off as serious hard Sci-Fi.  Had director Ralph Nelson shot this as the B-Movie that it is, I think the results would have been much more enjoyable.  That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the film...or at least parts of it.

Rock Hudson (McMillan & Wife, Dynasty, The Martian Chronicles) plays scientist Paul Holliston. One rainy night he hits a pregnant dog with his car.  He scoops her up and brings her back to his basement lab (He's sorta a mad scientist, I guess) to try and save her life.  When he realizes that the poor pooch can't be saved he does his best to save her pups by extracting them from her womb and putting them in vats of.....erm.....stuff...to let them continue to grow.  Of the four pups, only one survives.  The dog grows from pup to adulthood in a matter of weeks and Holliston then decides that he needs to try again, this time with a human fetus.  What a great idea!  Not.

And so, procuring a viable fetus through legal, yet morally ambiguous means, he begins the experiment anew and....um...grows a baby girl who grows into the lusciously beautiful Victoria Spencer (played by Bond Girl, Barbara Carrera).  Not only is does Victoria grow rapidly into a full grown woman, but she is also incredibly intelligent.....and homicidal as it turns out.  Hey, two out of three ain't bad.

Embryo is a very talky movie and as such it makes for some tedious viewing.  HOWEVER, if you're committed enough to plug your way through the film then you will be rewarded with some fun little tidbits such as the scene where the now fully grown Doberman pup (who also possesses highly evolved intelligence) is waiting in the car for her master.  She spies a small little dog (I dunno what it was a Yorkshire, maybe?), opens the car door and proceeds to grab the dog in her mouth and shake the life out of it.  She then hides the tiny dog's body in some shrubs, jumps back in the car and closes the door!  Aside from the homicidal tendencies, that's a pretty neat pooch!

Also be on the lookout for Roddy McDowall as chess expert Frank Riley.  He takes on Victoria in a chess game and when she (quite obviously) lets him win, he completely loses his shit and storms out screaming "YOU LET ME WIN!  NOBODY LET'S ME WIN!"  It was a pretty amusing moment!

There are some other fun moments, but I'm not going to spoil them all.  If ya wanna find them, ya gotta put in the time and watch the flick!  I'm such a bastard, aren't I?

Need further incentive?  Oh fine.  Barbara Carrera also has a nude scene.  If that isn't incentive enough to watch, then I dunno what to tell ya!

There's a little bit 'o blood....but not much.

Barbara Carrera.  Naked.  You're welcome.

Well, if homicidal, genetically modified and grown dogs and people count as monsters........

Like I said before, this one can be a bit rough to get through.  I don't recommend watching it alone unless your a hardcore b movie junkie like myself.  There's a lot of talk and a lot of filler, but there are the aforementioned bits that I think make the film worth seeing.  Also, you would never guess it by the rest of the film, but the ending is pretty nuts and totally took me by surprise!  I would go so far as to say that the end actually made up for the boring parts of the rest.
If you've got some like minded friends and wanna have a MST3K-Fest....this would be a perfect film to use.  If you're a b movie junkie......have at it!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Midnight Cinephile Podcast Episode VIII - Tribute to Wes Craven

Episode VIII is here and this time the boys and I pay tribute to the late maestro, Wes Craven.

So grab a cocktail and make yourself comfortable!

Midnight Cinephile is a proud member of the throwback network....you're home for great retro themed podcasts.

You can also find us on iTunes and Stitcher!

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Chill Factor - Demonic Slasher on Ice

The Chill Factor
D: Christopher Webster
W: Julian Weaver

S: Dawn Laurrie, Aaron Kjenaas, Connie Snyder
Rated R - Approx 93 Minutes

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the slopes.....

Alternate Titles:
Demon Possessed

"Stop whining you stupid girl, we have to get Tom to a hospital!"

It's late on a Thursday night.  The Mrs is in bed and I'm already in a few cocktails on my way to feeling pretty nice.  Sure, I could pop in a Night Flight disc and lose myself in a sea of ancient and obscure music videos but instead I'm feeling the urge to watch some ancient and obscure horror flicks.  And so, I delve down the Amazon Instant Video rabbit hole.....down past the usual suspects (World War Z, Leprechaun, etc) and down to the bottom of the digital barrel.  The place you can only reach by clicking the "Customers Also Watched" section.   Seriously.  How did they also watch these flicks?  They pop up NOWHERE else!  It's quite amazing, really.

That;s where this film lives.  This time up we're taking a look at a little supernatural slasher gem called The Chill Factor.  Apparently it's also known as the more blasé title Demon Possessed, which I think is an absolute crap title.  I mean, The Chill Factor is such a flavorful yet ambiguous title.  Is it referring to actual temperature or frightful chills?  An intriguing question!  If you were watching under the Demon Possessed moniker, you would pretty much know what you were getting (though not really, but kinda sorta in this case...we'll talk about that in a bit.).

See, there's a group of friends who go on a snowmobile trip up north.  While they are enjoying a meal and some brewskies, two of the fellas get into an argument about who's snowmobile is faster.  You know, real meaningful stuff.  They ask the waitress, who gets shit done (according to her hat), where they would be able to find some wide open land to race their machines and definitively determine who's the king of superfluous seasonal vehicles.  They're told about Black Friar Lake (which apparently the locals have shortened to just Black Lake) which sounds like a perfect place to race crotch rockets attached to skis!

I know that this is going to come as a shock to you, but one of the lads is injured during their race.  He hits a rather nasty snow mound and catapults himself into a tree, sustaining some considerable injury.   Being that the group is something like 30 miles from town, the seek shelter at an old summer camp.  After assessing their friend, one of them decides to go back to town to get help.  The others stay behind to watch over their wounded friend.  This is where they find the dumbest looking Ouija Board I've ever seen.  They decide to use it to "kill time" and end up summoning up a demon that possesses their unconscious friend. 

So now this guys laying on a bench in front of a fire and he miraculously wakes up.  Everyone's all super excited.  Of course they don't pick up on the fact that he's acting strange.  This is where the film becomes a slasher as the possessed guy kills off his friends.  Well, sort of.  He actually just lays there all bandaged up on the bench while stuff happens to his friends, but it's insinuated that he's the cause when the camera pans to a close-up of him with a goofy evil smirk on his face.  Though we do see the shadow of a robed figure with long, bony fingers with sharp fingernails stalking the victims.  I'll go more into the various killings when I run the tally at the end of the review.

I was rather surprised by this film.  I went into this expecting bottom of the barrel production values, bad acting and laughable effects.  I pretty much got what I was expecting, but I wasn't counting of the fact that it was all going to coalesce into a charming, quirky trashterpiece that will definitely become a staple in my winter horror flick rotation.  The music is a cross between an After School TV Special and someone rocking out on their Casio keyboard in the basement.  The wonky dialog is accentuated by the hilariously terrible acting (see the quote that begins this review).  The cinematography is pretty straightforward but there are a few nice shots once the gang is in the camp.

There's a decent amount of blood in this one, yet it still manages to be tame.  For your money you get a snowmobile accident resulting in a bloody face and severely lacerated hand.  A guy on a snowmobile catching a face full of barbed wire, a strangulation, an icicle through the eye and  a few more kills to boot.

There's a little skin on display here too!  Not a ton, but we do get to see two different girls in their bra & panties, some side boob and a brief flash of nipple.  Hey, it's better than nothing, right?


Well, there's the shadowy figure that I'm guessing is the demon that is doing the possessing.  There's also the guy who gets possessed. 

Final Thoughts
This would make a great winter afternoon flick.  Especially if you ran it as a double feature with They (aka. Invasion From Inner Earth).  Picture it:  The afternoon sun is hanging lazily in the sky casting it's golden light on the white snow while prisms of light dance on the wall courtesy of the icicles hanging outside your window.  There's some chili that's been simmering on the stove all afternoon and a nice warm fire in the fireplace.  You are snuggled up next to your significant other (or favorite pet....I don't judge) on the couch....all while a chilly doubly shot of questionable horror plays across your television screen.  If that isn't a slice on Heaven on Earth, I don't know what is!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Midnight Cinephile Episode VII

It's time again, kiddies to sit down by the campfire and listen to The Midnight Cinephile Podcast Episode VII!

Please join me in welcoming my good friends Tony Skowronski (aka Captain Cinema) and Chas Klimczak (from Watch And Be Amazed Productions) as they have accepted co-hosting duties on the show!  It's another epic conversation, though there were gremlins in the phone lines.

Tune in and Chill Out!

Midnight Cinephile is a proud member of the Throwback Network!  You're source for Retro Themed Podcasts!

Midnight Cinephile is also available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

Find Captain Cinema on Facebook

Find Chas Klimzcak on Facebook and check out Watch and Be Amazed Productions on YouTube!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Loony In The Woods - A Modern Video Nasty

Loony in the Woods
D: Leo Leigh
W: Leo Leigh

S: Leo Leigh, Oliver Maltman, Dean Puckett 
Unrated - Approx 70 Min

 - If You Go Down To The Woods Today.....

Alternate Titles:

  "Can I have the lamb stew?"

Nice gloves!
You know, there is an amazing phenomenon that occurs when you are going down the rabbit hole that is Amazon Instant Video.  For instance....when you are searching for films, say by genre, you are given the option to check out a list of films that are similar to the one you are currently looking at.  If you start doing this long enough, you will end up in a place that contains films like Loony in the Woods.

Loony in the Woods was originally filmed in 2007, where it then sat on the shelf for 6 for six years until it was discovered by Troma and picked up for distribution.  Troma decided to make Loony in the Woods a VHS only release and it went on sale in 2013.  Somewhere between then and now, it became digitally available on Amazon Instant Video.  

Working out with Bouffe!
Meet Buttons!
The film follows a rather misogynistic  fitness instructor named Bouffe and his pals as they take a camping trip to - where else?- the woods!  Bouffe's brother wears a strange contraption on his neck that allows him to communicate.  It's a like a jacked up, homemade voice box......though it seems to speak for him....his mouth never moves...which is fine because you can't understand a damn thing the machine says anyway.  His name is Buttons.

As for the rest of the cast, there's a big breasted chick who likes to manhandle dudes (and she may or may not have some sort of psychic powers, there's a meek blonde and her shy redheaded friend.  Some dude with brown hair that seems to do the majority of grilling.......and that's about it.  The characters are there simply to serve as fodder.  

This is weird.  Really weird.  I mean like way beyond Devo and Yes mixed together weird.
It's the Loony!
The film is only just over an hour, so we don't have to wait long for the carnage to begin.  As a matter of fact we're treated to two murders before the opening credits!  A girl is choked to death and a guy takes a hatchet to the back of the head. The first night goes fine for the group, except for a very strange guitar/electronic beatbox tune played by Bouffe and Buttons.  It's totally off the wall and totally goofy and I think that I very well may make it my ring tone.  I may use it to make those record-your-own-message-greeting-cards and send them to friends and family.  I think they'll like that.  

Who am I kidding?

Eye see you!
That is going to cause a massive headache.....
Anyway, when the gore hits, it's balls out ridiculous ultra low budget gore, and I'll go more into detail in the designated GORE section at the end when I run the film's totals.  For now, I'll suffice to say it's extremely cheap and hilarious and it goes a long way to lending the film a certain charm.  Strangely after each murder, as the shot lingers on the corpse, the screen itself turns red.  Kinda weird.  Kinda pointless, but hey...whatever.  

LitW does a great job of emulating the type of films that would have been labeled Video Nasties back in the 80's.  The whole package has a great retro feel to it....as a matter of fact when I first started watching, I thought I might have actually stumbled across some lost British SOV slasher flick!  I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this flick doesn't get seen to often.  I've yet to find an actual review online (YAY ME!  FIRSTIES!) and the IMDb page doesn't even have complete information on it.  

He looks like he could use a hand.                Too soon?
What the fuck happened to her???!??
No Buttons, No!!!!!!  This scene was shocking. 

It's like I'm now part of some ultra elite and secretive club that's seen this movie.  If there's not a club then there should be and I'm just the guy to start it.  We're gonna have a secret clubhouse, with a secret password to get in.....secret handshakes, decoder rings, t-shirts....the whole nine yards!  You are SO going to want in on this one!

Oh yes, there is gore!  A man gets his arms chopped off after having his face slammed down on a blazing hot grill.  A girl has fireworks strapped to her head and ignited.  There's a head impalement complete with eye poking out of the head, a nasty electrocution and another victim (shown on the box art) has their face completely removed, leaving a nasty, bloody mess.


Nothing!  We get to see some women exercising in Bouffe's class, but that's about as racy as it gets.....oh except for a brief make-out scene between the big breasted manhandling possibly psychic chic and the brown haired grill guy....but still....no skin.


There's a Loony in the Woods!  Said Loony wears a too-large for his head ski mask, a plaid shirt, and pants with rope used for a belt.  We DO get to see his face at the end.......and he's just some redneck dude.  Huh.  Go figure.  

Like I said before, the film does an excellent job of emulating the SOV slasher flicks of the 80's that would have filled up video shops of the time.  I could absolutely see this being added to the list of Video Nasties.  It's not a good film by any means.  The plot is threadbare.  The actors are about on par with local access TV and the sounds is absolutely atrocious.  You can barely make out what people are saying most of the time.  HOWEVER!  If you're in the mood for that sort of thing, then you're probably going to get a kick out of Loony in the Woods.  Definitely a flick to watch with friends over beer and pizza.  Add a little MST3K style commentary and a good time should be had by all!
Shadow of the Loony.