Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Random Pick: Hunters of the Golden Cobra

Hey gang. Sorry about the week. Been caught up in writing that short story and well I really didn't want to stop. So I was looking up cheeseball action movie titles and well this seemed like complete dog flop. With the capable hands of one Antonio Margheriti (Horror Castle, Flesh for Frankenstein, Cannibal Apocalypse, Yor, Hunter from the Future, The Last Blood, The Ark of the Sun God, Jungle Raiders, Kommando Leopard and Alien from the Deep) this could go either way. This is The Hunters of the Golden Cobra a.k.a. Golden Cobra, Hunters of the Golden Cobra, Jungle Hunt.

I say old sport, this is a spot of bother, ah wot?

For more than 40 years, many a household plans a bad movie night for riffing, mockery or just flat out having plenty of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moments. Today's film is no exception. Fimed in Italy, the taglines alone are worth the viewing.  The Mission: Recover the World's Most Priceless Treasure. The Odds: Impossible! No we are not chasing after the Ark of the Covenant nor the Holy Grail. Instead the Golden Cobra is besought and coveted for its supernatural powers. Not sure if it has anything to do with a ruthless terrorist organization bent on ruling the world.

New Wave Sheena of the Jungle.

Towards the end of WWII, American Green Beret Bob Jackson (David Warbeck of Duck, You Sucker, The Beyond, The Last Hunter, The Black Cat, Karate Warrior 4, Karate Warrior 5 and Mean Tricks) and British Intelligence Officer (MI-6 I guess and possibly SAS trained) Captain David Franks (John Steiner of Beyond the Door II, A Man Called Blade, Question of Love, Caligula, The Last Hunter, Tenebre, Yor, the Hunter from the Future, The Ark of the Sun God and Cut and Run) get separated from each other during their mission to eliminate a lunatic Japanese general. With bit of assistance of stock footage, pyrotechnics at work for flame pots, the fortified region is no more and our boys slip in. The action feels a bit Guns of the Navarone meets Raiders of the Lost Ark. Franks gives of the stereotypical appearance of an Englishman unflappable in the path of danger while Jackson is mildly whimsical.

Several small scale model explosions but well matched to the existing footage so planes, fuel trucks and junglescape getting blown up left and right. Jackson witnesses the fleeing major taken down by poisonous blow darts propelled by the cannibal cast of Zombie Holocaust. One year later, Franks and Jackson catch up as both men beat the crap out of each other morphing a wonderful day for cockfighting into a full donnybrook. Franks offers a fair degree of cash not mention both their governments want to know the location of the Golden Cobra. Believed to have belonged to ancient Asian people the Amox, this relic could insight holy wars, mystical powers and possibly leave the governments of Asia toppled due superstitious fear.

Pantless cocktail hour? Count me in.

And once again a familiar character actor playing Greenwater looking far more reputable than ever , an American archeologist searching for his lost niece (Luciano Pigozzi of General Della Rovere, Two Women, Blood and Black Lace, Werewolf in a Girl's Domitory, Castle of the Living Dead and Yor, Hunter of the Future) once again voiced in dub by the one and only Edward Mannix.

Most of our jungle war scenes, yup you guessed it we are back in the Philippines because Vietnam just doesn't care for film crews at all. Something about a police action in the 60s and 70s. I dunno. Wasn't paying attention. A lot of the soundtrack sounds lifted from Man From U.N.C.L.E. All the incidental music screams, "I belong on the set of Gunsmoke," but I could be wrong. Coming at you with an hour and 35 minutes, this is well paced, tries to be original in spite of the source materials it is clearly lifting and is actually engaging. 

Hmm Roger Moore or Jonny Lee Miller?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chapter 1 of The Case of Financial Woe

Okay folks I am completely out of ideas for the day, thanks to two mile up and back with groceries on my back.   Instead of a film, TV or video game review, would you all be kind enough to tell me what you think of my chapter for my new short story involving a detective series I have been working on for some time now.    Give me some love, people.

Chapter 1

Getting things done is hard in this town. You'd be amazed how many less than trusting spouses I get. I hate married couple cases but they foot the bills. My last client was concerned about his trophy wife Christie. Blonde, 5'10" and legs that JLO would die for. A former second run Chargers cheerleader and exotic dancer. With this in mind, my client thinks the new wife might be moving around on him. She and his son seem to be at odds with each other and it was creating turbulence in the household. He worries his son Billy isn't applying himself, almost time for college and he won't stick with something. He prattled on for another twenty minutes but I was already getting a clear picture. Whether Mr. Brooks CPA wants to admit it or not, something is definitely screwy. On the third day on the job I got my answer.

Tailing Billy so easily, I should give Brooks a discount. The Comfort Inn on Hotel Circle Space is convenient for those family outings to Sea World but it doesn't look like Billy was looking to visit Shamu but an afternoon delight seems to be the order of the day. From the balcony, to the bartop and finally across the couch, I thought Billy was applying himself with vim and vigor. I guess I just haven't been as close to family as Billy and Christie but from the lens full I got, they seem to be hitting it off rather nicely.

With a hop, skip and a jump back to the office I printed out all the sins of the son for the father. I really hate this part. You always warn the client of the wrongdoings and how they really don't want to see the results of their suspicions and they always tell you they will get what they paid for and so on. It always takes the wind out of their sails, causes wrinkles and raises blood pressure. This is his third shuffle through the pictures as he is mildly cursing under his breath. By this point, I am envisioning a quickie divorce, a child out of the house and possibly the will. The dying silence is finally gotten to me. I lean back in my chair, pour us each a glass of rye and slide his glass to him. In one swift belt he downs the whole glass, shivers slightly and slid the glass for another. Topping him off another glass I finally broke the dead air.

"Well Mr. Brooks, where you go from here is of course your choice. I will have my final report and charges finished by tomorrow. Again, I am sorry for this...turn of events" I never really know what to say in these circumstances. I guess, "Maybe if you bought the kid that Transformer when he wanted it, this would happen." wasn't going to cover it, so I remained quiet. The balding man of 52 and 5'8" with the less than stellar physique looked tired, pissed and far too quiet. He finished the last of the whiskey in his glass, slid a check on my desk and stomped out of my office without so much as a chance to give him a receipt.

Well I can always mail it to his address assuming it doesn't became a murder scene in the next 24 hours. This is why I hate divorce cases. The husband takes late nights, the wife is out for extensive spa treatments. Hell the only one not getting the evil eye dropped on them is the family dog because he is either widdling on the rug or licking himself into a pretzel. I look at the check and he apparently felt the need for the bonus expense since it took me less time than a full week. A phone app snap later, I flush my account with a much needed transfusion and settle back with a paperback.

Half way into Chapter 5 of Nero Wolfe I cursed myself for not having my own Archie Goodwin to boss about and make do legwork. Of course I operate out of a rented office, not 300 lbs nor would I say I have a distinguished pallet for consumption. May have to work on the latter. Rolling in at 7 I was looking forward to a dinner with my brother in the hopes he was broken up with that cute redhead and his life was looking as dull and grim as my own when I heard a knock to the outer door and someone slid into the office waiting room. Now if I was a hard boiled detective from the dime novels I would have a fetching secretary prep a cup of coffee and take down all the person's woes and problems. I don't. So I slid my suit jacket on and straightened my tie and with a sigh I headed to the door. On my shabby green Ika three seater couch was a young woman dressed like she should be in La Jolla attending a galleria exhibition. With long legs modestly surrounded by whisps of silk, a dress of coutre and a matching handbag I blinked and wonder if she got the right office.

Occasionally I get my neighbor's clients by accident or they got turned around in spite of my name and job description itched in gold. Really hate that dentist, the smug bastard. "Can I help you?" Apparently I startled her from whatever was roaming in her head because she spun around like a deer caught in the headlights. The deep brown eyes gazed up at me with no so much fright but woe. "Are you Mr. Malone?" "Yes I am, Ms.?" "Dietrich. Cathy Dietrich. Can we talk in your office? This is extremely delicate."

I opened the door and ushered her to one of the two wing-back leather chairs. They cost me a pretty penny but worth it. Plus those wooden chairs were pretty battered even before they were destroyed. "I'm in a serious bind, Mr. Malone. I was in investments with a firm called Money Manages with Chet Baker and well.. I was seeing decent profits from it and... I held up a hand and stopped her. "So you dug deep and invested big. Next thing you know, the firm crashes and you are out of funds, a letter or email apologizing and now a disconnected number. Close?"
Ms. Dietrich looked stunned "Well yes. Just like that. Can we do anything? My lawyer says they cannot bring up any lawsuits because they don't have a physical address anymore and maybe a detective will cost more to find them than the money I lost. I don't agree."

I leaned back in my desk chair mulling it over. "I'll need more information than that. Maybe a picture on your investor, his previous address would be a good start." Dietrich fishes in her expensive purse drawing her Iphone out. "Can you print this?" Sitting next to Cathy for a selfie I see a smug brunette with a bright toothed grin, scheming eyes and a flashy suit material that looked like something you would wear in the the early nineties. "Okay now the hard questions." "Excuse me?" " You see Ms. Dietrich, my clients come in, drop the proverbial bombshell in my lap and I listen until it is time to act. However I can sense you are not quite done unburdening your soul. SOoo were you and Chet close at all or purely professional?" Cathy slumped into the chair and let out a long built-up sigh. Her features went ten years older and I was hard pressed to guess her exact age. "No Mr. Malone I wasn't very professional at all. I was lonely, Chet was young, fresh and said all the right words. I promised myself I wouldn't fall for him but he was very charming and so confident and now I just feel like a complete and utter fool. Please just find him, get my money back and see to it the police have his little carcass for the inmates to play with."

Hell hath no fury. I keep seeing it time and time again. Well I have enough to work with and she has been pretty upfront with me. "Alright Ms. Dietrich, my services are $350 a day, plus expenses and a two day minimum. I will text, email or phone you with updates and I will remain on the case so long as we stay within the confines of the law. Understand I am not a mercenary, hitman nor a informant for a hit to happen so.."
Cathy look shocked. "Mr. Malone..I...I," "Don't worry Ms. Dietrich. I am not suggesting you were planning that. I am just covering my tail with a business contract." Her worry lines started to decrease and I really didn't think I would be combing through VICAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) to find this clown. "Alright Ms. Dietrich I have enough to work with. I will get started immediately and give you an update as soon as I have it." She smiled with a warmth of satisfaction of purchasing a new car. "Thank you again Mr. Malone. I'll talk to you soon I hope." With that, she stood up with a renewed vigor and I saw her through the doors. With the picture, Google and a bit of police contacts I am looking at most maybe 3, possibly 5 hours of computer crunch time.

AFIS (Automatic Fingerprint Identification System) would be handy if I got a few fingerprints from this prick so looks like a quick stroll over to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center), list potential priors, his M.O. And let my fingers do the walking. What? You thought I was going to bust down doors with bravado and a sullen stare down? Crack the heads of the informants in shady bars until they gave me a name? Yeah last I checked I am not Spidey or Daredevil so we'll go this route. Kicking back in my office chair with a glass of rye, I start peeling away at this schmuck's records and it is reads like a need for an exorcism. Frankly if I'm not sure if I should just knee cap him or send the IRS after him. Chet or Raymond Mezrich, age 36 has some different holdings around town but when you start breaking down from lack of water and electrical, these are either open lots or warehouses. Well you can always set up shop at a warehouse. Dietrich described the place he was at Oceanside sounds like a rented furnished house with all the trimmings.

So predator takes prospective clients in the dragon's den if you will, shows off all the props include a high end high performance sports car (rented), fake Rolex or Omega and glam suits he got overseas from some poor kids working themselves to death in a sweatshop. That's good for the marks digging into their piggy banks but what about the high maintenance divorcees and widows accustomed to the finer things in life? He has to have an amount of petty cash or business credit cards so...he will still need at least a billing address. Okay there's were we'll get answers.

Going over the notes that Ms. Deitrich left, I notice how thorough and detailed they are. Makes it all the more impressive this viper got his hooks in her. The calfskin notebook she left me filled with particulars, highlighted fine points and a few overemphasized exclamation points of what she should do to his genitals. The calthader lined with cayenne pepper was quite disturbing. After 20 minutes of perusing these meticulous hand written notes, she goes on to say what a time she had with "Chet" at Eddie V's. Ugh La Jolla again. I swear there must be a breeding ground for these opportunistic jagoffs with great credit ratings. I could get arrested in La Jolla. Afford a dinner, a show and maybe hit a club and I am out a grand easily. Okay it is not the mecca of greed and misfortune but getting close. I decide to close up the office, leave Chula Vista and go snag my parabolic microphone from my place.

Even since that "incident" I had to relocate from Chulie to University Heights. It gets crowded on the weekends with all the young partiers, antique nuts and street performers but my rent is reasonable, my neighbors are decent hard working folks and it's kind of nice living up on a hill. Fresh ocean air every morning buuuut...the crows and morning doves rousing me from sleep is still something to get used to. My neighbor is out with her service dogs for a walk. Sweet woman who enjoying retirement but like every retiree they just find something else to do.

After I check the hall closet's false wall I snag the microphone and place in it a gym bag. I strip down to grab some more chic look of chinos, deep gray dress shirt, gel my hair and grab my Wayfinders to complete what I affectionately call...the douche disguise. Thankfully with the classic Charger I can now blend in.

Gone o gone is the way of my LTD but that is the inevitable change. With the mic aimed low I can just look as though I am an idiot trying to get my smartphone to work. The modern day quest for fire expression.

20 minutes later and a 10 dollar valet to park the Charger, I head into Eddie V's and make a beeline to the extravagant bar. Cosmos,single malt scotches and martinis ranging from 15 to 20 bucks a pop signifies to me, I am so not in this income bracket and probably never will be. My bartender Dave roughly about 6'3" sandy blond hair in a man bun and at least 250 sculpted muscle. Seriously does everyone in this town hit the gym more than me? I run every day and do some light conditioning but this guy looks like a forgotten Greek god. This is so depressing. Dave chats up some well-dressed divorcee cougars that look like they will either take turns ravaging his chiseled bod or jump him simultaneously when I flag him down for a drink. Dave smiles a bright white yet fair grin at the ladies as he comes over to help me out.

"What can get for you, my man?" "Um an ounce of charisma you got going there. I think they want you across the bartop." "Yeah that is a bit too common here. Thanks for saving me." I snickered slightly and got some Chivas Regal on the rocks. Dave returned and it's go-time. "Hey man, you seen this guy around? We got talking about investments and then dummy me forgot to get his number. He seemed to treat this like it was his haunt. Can you help me out?" Dave glances down at the screen and goes all rigid. "If I were you, I'd steer clear of that jagoff." "Really? So I shouldn't be dealing with this guy?" "Nah bro. Word is he's like a massive dick that swipes money of rich men and plenty of chicks left and right. No real proof or anything but I think its like pyramid schemes and crap like that." I decide I have beaten around the bush long enough. "Okay Dave you seem to know this jerk and I really need to zero in on him." Flashed my credentials and told him how he screwed over my widow client and Dave's eyes narrowed. "Okay bro, yeah he shows up here for lunch so you just missed him but he always makes his way back around 9 to check to the top shelf hunnies roaming about. He's such a sleaze but he doesn't cause any scenes or acts up here so we can't ban his ass."

"Dave, if I leave you my card can you buzz me the minute he is in?" I slip him a fifty with the card. "I'd really appreciate it. With any luck you won't have to see this prick ever again," Dave snags the card and slides the fifty back. "Bro, I am so totally doing this for free." Dave navigates back to the cougars topping them off and offering a bit more conversation, I finish my drink, leave a twenty for his time and set back to the Charger.

Okay a date with a douche. Well I better look the part of a patsy then. Time for that horrific suit Tom gave me, some loafers and a goofy expression.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Forgotten Fantasy: Throne of Fire

Day 4 of Forgotten Fantasy is upon us and brilliantly I found a film that would look very much like an Italian Sci-Fi Fantasy. NooOOOOOOOOO!!!! Well who knows. Maybe this time around I will be blessed with a forgotten gem of cinema rather than a wretched turd. This is The Throne of Fire.

Stagehand poked me in the butt with a stick.

Helming this magnificent piece of moving pictures is writer/director Franco Prosperi (The Evil Eye, Slave of Rome, Hercules in the Haunted World, Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia, Ripped-Off, The Funny Face of the Godfather and Meet Him and Die). The film opens with Belial snatching up a widow for his demon offspring. No we don't see any forceful rape scene so thank God for that. And then fade to opening credits. Seems a bit rushed but hey if it makes the movie quicker, you can hit the fast forward button for me too, Film. I promise I can make up a more entertaining feature. While the demon's bride is forced to give birth in the woods in a spooky cave probably containing Cave Dwellers and Trumpy from Pod People, Seigfried (Yeah I didn't just make that up) got a castle but worry not, next to no draft thanks to glass windows of plenty...well minus the stonework and all the fireplaces. It is Morak's destiny to sit of the coveted Throne of Fire. Crafted by Odin himself for a succession of kings. At least that is what they are telling us.

Cut some warriors fresh from the Renn Faire as no one has a uniform or armor matching one another. They are a motley crew with no Tommy Lee in sight they slaughter a nearby village and burn it to the ground. Some of the farmers sought to attack these bandits by gathering in the woods for a surprise attack. Yeah you can guess how well that went. They had plenty of time to defend themselves with the bandits coming in with a slo mo dramatic fashion. Maybe 8 archers and the whole lot would have been dropped. So intense is this pillaging they use archers with flaming arrows stock footage twice.

The taking of Clarinda Iowa!

A little over fourteen minutes in to the flick and not so much as a title card announcing 18 or 20 years later as Morak (Harrison Muller of 2020 Texas Gladiators, She, The Violent Breed, The Final Executioner, Miami Cops and Getting Even) is a grown man. Looking exactly like his father...played by the same actor only with a beard this time! The village next to be razzed was concealing the lovely and deadly Warrior Princess Valkari (Sabrina Siani of White Cannibal Queen, Cannibal Terror, College Girl on Vacation, 2020 Texas Gladiators, Ator, the Fighting Eagle, Conquest and Cobra nero) whom Morak vows to marry and make his dark bride. FYI, Morak's captain of the guards is voiced by Edward Mannix. IMDB missed it as he was uncredited.

Um it is a bit breezy in my loincloth.

Our protagonist Siegfried (Pietro Torrisi of Gunan, King of the Barbarians, Popeye, The Sword of the Barbarians,S.P.Q.R.: 2,000 and a Half Years Ago and Gemanikus) knows nothing of tigers or a fellow named Roy but in fact seems to be a hairy chested oiled up warrior invulnerable to harm, has a steadfast sword arm and proclaims that he and he alone will challenge the son of Satan's messenger, Belial to combat. Did I mention he is vulnerable to fire?

Can Siegfried manage Morak? Will Valkari be forced to marry the half demon??

Okay well slow motion dramatic entrances aside, this camera work was painful. Blocking your actor into frame is tough if you don't know how, transition shots of the fade and return and more jump cuts for bounding around or being turned invisible was a literal headache for yours truly. 35 mm Techniscope isn't a bad system but for God's sake put a damn stabilizer on that if you can't a tripod. The pans and zooms were worse as they would not stay in focus. Creature and ghost effects were solar mirror or projection which have a decent enough look to them.  So no oodles of nudity, forced bisexuality but a lot of greased up men in loin cloths.

 Cranked out to 89 minutes you have a pretty standard plot of good vs evil, the practical wound effects are fair, the story idea itself was clever and overall not a bad film. Yes I was very surprised I would enjoy this. It's the Seven Magnificent Warriors all over again. Still confused to why the heroes all wear animal skins and not armor but whatever. 

So shaven or beard?  What do you think?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Forgotten Fantasy: Iron Warrior

Day 3 of Forgotten Fantasy is upon us. It's time for an Ator flick! Who's Ator? Miles O' Keeffe as an American action hero/Sci-Fi Fantasy competition to Schwarzenegger's Conan films. Ator the Fighting Eagle and The Blade Master. The Blade Master is known by another title that stands out. Cave Dwellers. This time however it is not directed by exploitation of Sci-Fi, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, soft core porn and creature features Joe D' Amato (The Erotic Adventures of Aladdin X, Creepers, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals and Beyond the Darkness) but instead Sci-fi/Giallo/exploitation and mockbuster director Alfonso Brescia (Cry of Death, The Labyrinth of Sex, Nights and Loves of Don Juan, Battle of the Amazons, Super Stooges vs the Wonder Women, Blood and Bullets, War of the Planets, Battle of the Stars, War of the Robots, Big Mamma and Star Odyssey) continuing the saga of Ator. This is Iron Warrior a.k.a. Ator the Iron Warrior.

I miss my katanas...and Thong.

Ator (Miles O’Keefe of Tarzan the Ape Man, Ator the Fighting Eagle, Sword of the Valiant and The Lone Runner) once again back in the world, this time lacking his his mute Asian sidekick Thong (Kiro Wehara of The Blade Master and Interzone). Presumbably he moved on/died/faded into obscurity. Ator also didn't have anything to do with Mila of Cave Dwellers and this time is not filmed in Italy but in this time on the island of Malta, Gozo Island. Well for those that appreciated the camp that was the previous two films, this takes on a more serious tone. Gone are the days of giant spider puppets, evil John Saxon lookalikes and invisible warriors. Our opening title sequence sounds like a retooled version of composer Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture theme or the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme if you will. For shame composer Charles Scott a.k.a. Carlo Maria Cordio (Aenigma, The Pool Hustlers, Pieces, Troll 2, Midnight Ride, Beyond Darkness, Quest for the Mighty Sword and Deep Blood)

You will bow down before me, Jor-El. And one day, your heirs!!!

We have Ator and his brother...wait what? What brother? Damn you retcon! So Ator and Trogar are playing in what looks like one of John Milus Conan the Barbarian sets when Trogar gets kidnapped by an evil witch Phoedra (Elisabeth Kaza of The Beast, Mr. Klein, And the Ship Sails On and Castle Freak) as they were playing catch with I am guessing is a dead tribble or a very furry ball. Maybe someone casturated a Yeti. Who knows. Off to the evil witch's trial apparently on Krypton as she is surrounded by the same spiral rings that General Zod, Ursa and Non were trapped in as the Council past sentence over them..except this council looks to be made up of Robert Palmer's backup musicians and vocalists. Lead witch/sorceress in charge, Deeva (Iris Peynado of Nothing Left to Do but Cry, Warriors of the Wasteland, Devil Fish, Baciami strega, Ancient Warriors and Elisa di Rivombrosa) claims to have created both Ator and his twin brother Trogar as her tools of justice.

Deeva will create a princess for the kingdom of Dragor and claims that Trogar would have been one of her champions but not before she banishes Phoedra to the Underland for 18 years, a Ghost Region if you will. Naturally we need some exposition so some narration to establish Phoedra has not given up her evil ways, raised Trogar into her Iron Warrior (Franco Daddi of Hercules vs the Giant Warriors, La bambola di Satana, The Barbarians, Iron Warrior and Il commissario), leader of her armies of Hell. He does this wearing dark robes a kicky red sash, dance belt and a helm worthy of Chromeskull.

Yes, that material is thinner than Kate Moss' waistline.

Love the christening of Janna's 18th birthday. Phoedra just appears with a large fan blowing her hair back, she looks nuttier than a fruitcake, floats up the dais and the royal dogs are losing their minds.

Doesn't help the camera angles feel so confined in this small chamber. Phoedra tells Janna she will marry the man that played with the dead I mean Yeti testicle.

Ator is off to the land of Dragor to offer protection and aid to Princess Janna (Savina Gersak of Cudo nevidjeno, Iron Warrior, Midnight Ride, Curse II: The Bite, Beyond the Door III and Soldier of Fortune) and why wouldn't she want this well-built, long maned, oiled up specimen of warrior? Gone are his highlights and free flowing locks as he has braided it into a tail and is now brunette. SALONS OF THE DARK AGES!!!   Can't help but notice his broadsword now replacing his two katanas looks an awful lot like Conan's.

The Iron Warrior seems almost a match for Ator leading him to wonder if he can truly defeat him, his armies of Hell and end Phoedra's evil once and for all.

Okay visually this looks amazing from a fisheye lens, to zooms, extended handheld, some tripod and even a few decent crane shots. With slow motion, far too many jump cuts for teleportation or materialization of weapons and items, it almost feels like a rock video rather than a film.

The region looks amazing and idle for a fantasy based film and while Ator has had a complete makeover, O' Keeffe still looks like a bad ass. This is the last of the Ator films starring Miles O' Keeffe. Joe D' Amato returns to tack on a fourth installment of Ator as it is the Quest of the Mighty Sword or Troll 3 or Ator: Quest for the Mighty Sword or possibly Highlander III: The Sorcerer's Dark Apprentice. The problem is the story is not very gripping, detracts from anything previously written and seems to contradict Ator's whole beginnings. Also I miss mute Thong. Dude rolled with a Falchion and those are difficult blades to master in my opinion. 

He's deadly and FABULOUUUUSSSS!!!!

Forgotten Fantasy: The Seven Magnificent Gladiators

And we are back with another helping of Forgotten Fantasy, the Sci-Fi Fantasy that has probably fallen into the five dollar bin in Best Buy or Wal-Mart. Course if you are shopping at Wal-Mart for entertainment, you may have serious issues already. Moving along we have a heaping dish based on the brilliant work of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. That was made into the 1960 John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven spawning two sequels, The Return of the Magnificent Seven in 1966 and The Magnificent Seven Ride!in 1972. Alas we are not going to being viewing and reviewing some bloodier Westerns but instead we will be taking yet another peak into the warped mind of writer/director Claudio Fargassio (Women's Prison Massacre, Rats: Night of Terror, Cop Game, Zombi 3, Strike Commando 2 and Shocking Dark) and director Bruno Mattei (Hell of the Living Dead, Rats: Night of Terror, Strike Commando, The Tomb and The Jail: The Women's Hell ).  Yeah you know how much I love these two asshats. This is The Seven Magnificent Gladiators.


So we open with symphony orchestral and clashing cymbals for tales of high adventure!! Also some weird title sequence with overexposure and stop motion with the stills and then a gal dressed in black with an elaborate head dress walking about the Parthenon, sorceress Anakora (Barbara Pesante of The Seven Magnificent Gladiators) and mother to the brute of the land, her son the Demigod Nicerote (Dan Vadis of Colossus of the Arena, Hercules the Invincible, Hercules vs the Giant Warriors, For a Few Extra Dollars, The Stranger Returns, The Scalphunters, High Plain Drifter and Bronco Billy) razzes the villagers after destroying their homes, slaughtering their men and taking of their women. He's a people person.

Now that is a brass band! 

With the village losing the lives of their teen boys was the las straw and Anakora reviews the mystical MaGuffin, a blade forged by the god Vulcan himself and once wielded by Achilles himself that may very well be the only weapon the defeat the mad half-god but first they must find a warrior worthy to carry it, dispatch their tyrant and give them their FreeEEEEDOOOOOoMMM!!! The maidens four must journey into Rome to find the worthy man by allowing them to grip the handle. Ole' Vulcan put in the safety feature of the unworthy get their hands scalded like they dropped their mitts directly into a boiling pot. I sense quite a few pissed off guys not going to be able to wank for a while.


Enter the games under the cover of night by torchlight! The reigning champion Han (Lou Ferrigno of The Incredible Hulk, Pumping Iron, Hercules, The Adventures of Hercules II, The Incredible Hulk Returns, Desert Warrior, Cage, Cage II, The Incredible Hulk 1996 Fox cartoon, The King of Queens and Soupernatural) charioteer, swordsmaster and all around grappler and defeater of men could be a good start in the maidens' quest but he is being eye banged by the Emperor's consort Lucilla (Mandy Rice-Davies of Iris, Bird of Prey, Black Venus, Nana, the True Key of Pleasure and Absolute Beginners) so he may already have his enormous hands full. The racing scene was no stabilizers so yeah that hurt my eyes. Han spares the life of Scipio (Brad Harris of Samson, The Fury of Hercules, King of Kong Island, Hercules and Falcon Crest) the other gladiator defying the Emperor as they ride away.

Yes they're real, you ass!

 The maidens encounter enough cripples, the deformed that they resemble leftovers from Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks threatening to take their valuables among other things when Han and Festo manage to show up in the nick of time and slap these poor damned souls from the pretty girls. Yes Lou just slapped about the hungry, crippled and the lame. Smooth Fargasso,smooth.

Julia (Sybil Danning of The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge, Cat in the Cage, Battle Beyond the Stars, Hercules, Howling II: Striba Bitch, Reform School Girls and Warrior Queen) warrior maiden enters a drinking contest after losing a buttload of coin on the Han and Scipio charioteer fights,hears that the fellas have been captured but enough of that!   Oiled skimpy animal hide catfighting is the name of the game! I think a horny 12 year old Claudio wrote this film. Yes with camera angles so tight we can tell if the oils have seeped in anywhere.

I am the comic relief!

After seeing Han able to wield the Sword of Achilles, Scipio and Julia take him out to meet up with a few more friends of Scipio to round out our seven, Festo (Giovanni Cianfriglia of Banana Joe, Gunan, King of the Barbarians, Ironmaster, Escape from the Bronx, 2019: After the Fall of New York, Ladyhawke and The Barbarians) and Goliath (Emilo Messina of Triumph of the Ten Gladiators, Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon, Badmen of the West, Web of Violence and Superargo contro Diaolikus), a strongman that Han harangued down the road and convinces him to join their quest to save this villagers from Nicerote.

With our seven warriors on the scene, one can only hope they can defeat the mad Demigod. One slight issue with Nicerote, is his outfit. While Connery wore his Zardoz outfit with more style and dignity, Nicerote is one hot mess. Black thigh high boots, a black leather pair of briefs, a bandoleer He-Man style and a flowing black cloak looking like Skeletor's gay cousin cruising and putting it out there a bit too much. Even Caligula would have told him to tone it down.

Maybe the subtitled version is superior but the dubbed version was quite painful. Dialogue had next to no inflection, emotion or even tone. With the exception of Goliath as he was voiced by the truly awesome baritone of Edward Mannix. Several of the extras fight sequences couldn't have done Dolemite prouder. A slight detour from the usual take on Kurosawa but over all with a few minor editing errors it wasn't bad and amazingly enough all the attractive women weren't strip bare for all to see. Even Sybil which is also shocking. 

I'm not nude. How strange.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Forgotten Fantasy: Amazons

How do my readers! A fine greetings for the week as we pull up some obscure Sci-Fi Fantasy titles. Yeah I know in my heart there is a better than 60% chance of topless and full frontal nudity but I wanted to see if any of these B movie sword and sorcery flicks would be entertaining. Remember Beastmaster was dubbed a B movie and most folks enjoyed spite of the accidental poisoning of the tiger.  Moving on, we speak of tales and saga of a tribe of vicious warrior women as they are froth with danger, sorcery, rival tribes and unknown consequences. This is Amazons a.k.a. Amazon and the Tribe of Amazons.

Strut girl, strut.

Guided by producer/director Alejandro Sessa (Amazons, Stormquest, Deathstalker, The Warrior and the Sorceress, Barbarian Queen, Cocaine Wars and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom) our title card sequence opens with some synthesizer scoring worthy of Goblin brought to us by composer Oscar Cardozo Ocampo (I Did Kill Facundo, El gordo catastrofe, Cerro Cora, From the Abyss, Deathstalker, Funny Dirty Little War, Amazons, Stormquest, Babilonia and Two to Tango) and produced by none other than Roger Corman, I know I am in for a whirlwind. We open to a woodland/desert area and it looks like they took over a national park but in fact is Bueno Aires in Argentina. We have soldiers in dubious leather/chain-mail with spears and shields roaming about this kingdom and evening katas with deer skinned draped females making me think this lost tribe is easier to find than the synopsis on the DVD suggested. Also my print is clearly a badly translated VHS copy to DVD so not feeling good about this already.

I have a rock in my bikini and your knees are on fire.

The ladies work out with pole arms and staves when then it becomes a shaolin monk style training as they smash hanging clay pots that clearly have not been fired and allowed to harden. Love the stock sound of thunderclouds in a clear night sky. We have a dark robed sorcerer king attempting to be all empowering but lacking the Sir Christopher Lee height, basso voice and creeper Dracula stare, King Kalungo (Joseph Whipp of Escape from Alcatraz, General Hospital, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream) threatens the harmony of the land, the elder warns the young warriors without the Sword of Azundati (Magical MacGuffin or plot device) all is lost to combat against Kalungo's magics and his vile army. Just then cheesy post-production lighting strikes happen in random intervals allowing the pyrotechnics to blow up their mild squibs...uh I mean evil sorcery is clearly at work here!

Aren't you glad you used Dial? Don't you wish all the Dark Ages did?

With the main village under attack it is the king's command that the Spirit Stone (yet another MacGuffin of magical content) be removed from the city for safe keeping by Tashinge (Danitza Kingsley of Amazons, No Man's Land, South of Reno, Jack's Back and Where Sleeping Dogs Lie), warrior woman general of the Amazons and spokes model of leather brassier. With the Spirit Stone in tow, Tashinge leads her warriors out of the city. Kalungo appeases his demon master Baliguri (Francisco Cocuzza of Night of the Pencils, Amazons, Two to Tango, Play Murder for Me, The Plague and Ever Changing Waters) who appears in the form of a balding man of 5'8". Residing hairline! The work of the dark master!!! Thank the gods for no wavering bikini lines. Well aside from this being a female protagonist tale there is plenty of male sexist pigdom in it. Convenient bathing times, a shape-shifting lioness and so on. Warriors Dyala (Mindi Miller of Hell Up in Harlem, Body Double, Deadly Embrace, Return Fire, Caged Fury and Batman Returns)and Tashi (Penelope Reed of Amazons, The New Mike Hammer, Gung Ho, Far Out Man and Hollywood Boulevard II) must journey to the high mountains through the were lands (land of creatures and demons) to gain the Sword of Azundati to defeat Kalungo.

Okay the fight/sword choreography was clear that they did not hire the late Bob Anderson(most sought-out swordsmaster/fight choreographer and stunt coordinator from The Master Ballantre, Crossed Swords, Casino Royale, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Superman II, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Highlander, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Revenant) but Arturo Neal (Barbarian Queen, The Warrior and the Sorceress, Stormquest, Highlander II: The Quickening, Two to Tango and Corrupt Police) understood enough from the equivalency of the SCA's quarterstaff, broadsword and pole arm combat. The cinematography on the other hand was lacking a stabilizer for more than 40 percent of the film, I got the feeling some of these cameramen were hanging off cliff edges getting aerial shots, some cherry picker shots vs using a crane angle, loads of mount the tripod in the grass and hope the trained horses don't bump into it. That is if the cameras could ever stay in focus.

Robert Duvall??!!  No wait. Nah it isn't.

The stop motion transformation of the lioness to human was a bit hokey with stock footage as well, the lightning strikes were...a bit painful and the grappling,fist fights looked too staged so no real aid on set but standard first aid my guess. Most of the sets looked like cardboard, Styrofoam and less than believable and despite all of this, you have a tale of two women putting aside their family squabbles in order to save their kingdom, matriarch and the people they have sworn to protect. The nudity isn't overwhelming and surprisingly tastefully shot. Funny that is were I expected the shaking of cameras. Yeah I was kidding. Implied rape scenes seem to be a Post Apocalpyse and Sci-Fi Fantasy need. Ugh. Half of the time these fur clad bikinis are actually less tasteful then 1,000,000 Years B.C.

Oh look boys, a nude scene...kinda.

Friday, May 19, 2017

TV Titanics: Z Nation Season 1

TV Titanics returns! So decided to tap into a zombie fueled bit of goofy because...well I really cannot sit through The Walking Dead. So damn chatty and not enough zombie skull cracking. Stop reminiscing of things and places gone by,Grimes!!! Okay moving on or this will be a Walking Dead rant. Instead let's talk about 3 years after the zompocalypse tearing the US a new one and the survivors are picking up the pieces. Charged with a mission to journey through zombie infested towns to get a cure to California, our reluctant heroes trudge on. This is Z Nation Season 1.

Knew we shouldn't have eaten at Red Robin.

Produced by The Asylum (Almighty Thor, 2012: Ice Age, Battle of Los Angeles, Nazis at the Center of the Earth, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Rise of the Zombies, Social Nightmare and Alone for Christmas) home of the modern day mockbuster with sneaky titles similar to the features they are attempting to cash in on got in bed with Sy-Fy to create a series to either rival or simply competition in the zompocalypse stories, films and TV already out there. 3 years have occurred since the outbreak, The US is a wasteland of consumer products, bands of vehicles, good decent folk, raiders and even the odd gathering of cannibals.


For a small group of survivors, a Special Forces Lt. Hammond (Harold Perrineau of Romeo + Juilet, Lost, Blade the Series, Transit, Sons of Anarchy, Zero Dark Thirty, Constantine, Goliath and Criminal Minds) and his prisoner Murphy (Keith Allan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Enterprise, Air Collision, Social Nightmare, Zombie Night and Rise of the Zombies) have fled from one of the major infestation sites at the lost of Hammond's men covering their escape. Arriving in Upstate New York, Hammond meets a group of survivors made up of civilians and some National Guard, he tells these people he needs help to bring Murphy to California.

Captain Garrett (Tom Everett Scott of That Thing You Do, An American Werewolf in Paris, Dead Man on Campus Bloodline, Enemies Closer and The Last Word) and Lt. Warren (Kellita Smith of The Bernie Mac Show, King's Ransom, Feel the Noise, Conspiracy X, The First Family and Z Nation) are iffy about this as they gather up stragglers from their crew when the entire encampment is attacked by water logged zombies popping out of the lake. Knowing their settlement has been completely overrun, our small group decides to hoof it with Hammond and Murphy.

You goin' down, cameraman!!!


Joining on this zany quest is drug chemist Doc (Russell Hodgkinson of Big Fish, We Go Way Back, ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction, Mystery Case Files: The 13th Skull, Grimm, 21 & Over, A Bit of Bad Luck and 7 Minutes) Ballbat wielding melee momma Addy (Anatasia Baranova of 7th Heaven, Veronica Mars, Rise: Blood Hunter, The Darkness II, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Z Nation) her crackshot boyfriend Mack (Michael Welch of Star Trek: Insurrection, Hey Arnold!, Joan of Arcadia, Stargate SG-1, Day of the Dead, The Riches, Twillight, Unrequited and Criminal Minds).

Meanwhile in the Antartic, NSA Communications Specialist Simon or Citizen Z (DJ Qualls of Road Trip, Cherry Falls, The New Guy, Comic Book Villains, Last Day of Summer, Supernatural, Perception and Z Nation) has complete access to every existing satellite, relay station, cameras and social media and no authority to tell him he can't do that, he leads the team to locations that last he checked have anything from supplies to less stinky fleshbags roaming about. His task is to not go mad from loneliness and keep the survivors up to date on weather changes, zombie uprise and any human elements that may be completely bat shit crazy.

Along through Philly our crew encounters a young woman name of Cassandra (Pisay Pao of Simply Fobulous, Your Lucky Day, Door to Door, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Z Nation) left in a cage surrounded by the deaders and she joins up with them on their moderately insane quest. With limited resources, raiders, zombies and freak weather our people have their work cut out for them.

Will the team get Murphy to California?? What awaits them at the next town or even next state?

With shows like The Walking Dead, The Strain, iZombie and Fear the Walking Dead, it is nice to see a show not taking itself serious all the time but creating new strains of zombie like these speed freak zombies that were taking massive doses of pills, rad zombies thanks to a power plant unattended. The characters are diverse, the story lines can have some funny episodes but they also include some of the more darker aspects of the human psyche. Any Zombie Post Apocalypse fans should enjoy this. I hesitate to shoot this through a time hole so the Incognito Cinema Warriors XP crowd can enjoy this but in the year 20XX, zombies so y'know too much art imitating life. I'll just send them Zone of the Dead instead.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

TV Titanics: Luke Cage

Back to TV Titanics. Hope you all have been enjoying the week. If you have any TV suggestions I wouldn't be amiss to hear it. Today I am writing about the phenomenon of Netflix causing their servers to crash after no less than 6 million viewers enjoying their binge watching of this show. From its stellar cast, music and Black History. An unlikely hero emerges in Harlem due to circumstances unforeseen by the man himself. This is Cage.

Hey, that's not Shaft.

A quiet, gentle man Luke Cage (Mike Colter of Million Dollar Baby, Zero Dark Thirty, Salt, Men in Black 3, Agent X, The Good Wife, Jessica Jones, Cage and The Defenders) a barber shop street sweep, glass cleaner and bartender working for Pop (Frankie Faison of A Man Called Hawk, Betsy's Wedding, Silence of the Lambs, True Colors, Roommates, The Langoliers, Prey, Hannibal, The Wire, The Good Wife and The Sounding) the barber being an institute in the neighborhood even deemed a neutral meeting ground even among the gangs,syndicate and thugs.

You floatin' air biscuits there, white boy?

With the renewal of Harlem, the councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard of Miss Firecracker, Passion Fish, Blue Chips, Primal Fear, Star Trek: First Contact, Mumford, Desperate Housewives, Memphis Beat, 12 Years a Slave and Copper) takes her neighborhood improvement project to bed with her cousin, club owner and gangster Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes (Mahershala Ali of Threat Matrix, The 4400, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Crossing Over, Treme, Alphas, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1, The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay-Part 2 and Moonlight) a second generation muscle and thug feeling he can carve up and control New York were Fisk had failed.

The original Cottonmouth King.

With a failed arms deal bringing the cops around, Stokes keeps his hands clean of most of it and keeps the cops at bay. Except Detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick of K-Town, A Taste of Romance, Douglass U, Everything I Did Wrong in My 20s, Scandal, Wayward Pines, Luke Cage and The Defenders), a girl of the neighborhood, a woman of the streets and above average intelligent investigator, who has the mindset maintaining the belief that Stokes is dirty and she will drag his ass to jail.

With the aftermath of the Hand, the murders in the hospital, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson of Josie and the Pussycats, Men in Black II, Sin City, This Girl's Life, Clerks II, Death Proof, Wonder Woman, Unstoppable and 10 Years) moves out of the kitchen and back to Harlem with her mom trying to figure out where to go next and bumps into Cage after tending to his wounds via shotgun blast to the face. An imposing height, strength lies also a keen intelligence, street smarts and attitude only when needed, Cage wears no mask to conceal his identity as almost a symbol of hope and a natural connection vs most of the men and women in tights. Would Harlem give this much love to an ex-con if they knew? Where did he get these powers?

The greatest threat is still an unknown quantity manifests under the name, Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey of Twister, Law & Order, K-PAX, Proud, Crazy for Love, Boardwalk Empire, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Luke Cage) who has such seething hatred for Cage that he refuses to let anyone destroy Cage but him.

What is captivating about this series, is the collection of flashbacks of more or less each character, the love of the land and its history and the music of Faith Evans, the widow of Biggie Smalls, Gang Starr, D'Angelo and Mobb Deep envelopes you and is timed so well.

I have read other reviews claiming that this show lacks the intensity of Daredevil and Jessica Jones and to be honest the second half of the season goes a bit slow but I think it was simply to ratchet up the tension of the story and the secondary characters are fleshed out so well that it feels like a coherent saga. Give it a view. It is completely worth your time and viewing. So much talent in one series.

I remember when Tarantino made the statement of wanting to create a Luke Cage/Power Man film back in the early 90s and I thank God I didn't have to hear that many "N" bombs with a guy that just doesn't fit as Cage.

Gonna put you in one of these pine boxes.