Creature

 

creatureposter

 

 

   Let’s see- it’s got:

 

 

   * A mixed-sex crew of older and young explorers, investigating strange goings-on in a space outpost…

 

   * An almost silent-but-strong Security Officer who seems to have more going on that at first appears, and Corporate-backed expeditions in the hope of finding, uh, SOMETHING…

 

   *Space turf that continually fogs and  thunders and is too dark to see much further than a few yards ahead of you…

 

   * Titillation in the form of hot chicks stripping down for the sole purpose of giving the audience something to ogle at, as everything else to look at is drab and boring industrial pseudo- functional backdrops…

 

   *A thumping bass-heavy score, punctuated by occasional squeaks, heavy-breathing sounds, and pings designed to jar you out of your seat…

 

   * Gloppy space mutants that come in a variety of shapes and leave behind astronauts in bloody heaps……

 

 

 

   So is it Alien? Of course not- it’s the easily-available 1985 B-flick Creature; filmed as Titan Find and made by monster fan, makeup artist and still-working director William Malone, who made another Alien-clone prior to this one called Scared to Death (1981) (aka filmed as Syngenor) and went on to helm most famously the House on Haunted Hill remake and Feardotcom. And if you get a chance, visit his pretty-cool-for-a-Hollywood-Director website (http://www.luminousprocesses.com/ )…

 

 

   The flick itself is very low budget (said to be well under a million dollars), but also somewhat claustrophobic, has some well done SPFX (including the spaceship scenes and the bloody carnage left over in the aliens’ wake, and a pretty good, if kind of by-the-numbers, main monster) and some taunt suspense. Probably its most surprising aspect (well, for me at least) is the above-average acting from some familiar faces (familiar to people that constantly wade through movies like I do, at least); people like Diane Salinger (you may recognize her as Simone- Pee Wee’s dinosaur companion in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure), the cute-as-a-button Wendy Schaal (who’s been in a bunch of stuff but sticks with me most in the Where The Boys Are remake)- who ends up coming up with a way to dispatch the monster by remembering how the crew from the 1950’s The Thing killed the giant carrot monster; Lyman Ward (three words- Ferris Bueller’s Dad- now of COURSE you know who THAT is); and, best of all, that old German nutbag Klaus Kinski, at his greasy-smiling, boob-grabbing best, as a fellow astronaut from a rival conglomerate, thrown into the mix for laughs and all-out creepiness. And, by the way, if you’ve never seen a Kinski performance, then I recommend that you drop what you’re doing (well, I guess I mean AFTER finishing reading this blog), go on IMDB and randomly pick out 2 or 3 flicks of his to see- you will NOT be disappointed!…

 

 

   The print I watched this on (part of the 10 movie “Space Odyssey” set put out by the late-and-lamented BCI-Eclipse, which also includes other recent-vintage somehow-they’ve-become-public-domain-fodder like Slipstream and Abraxas) is a weak video dupe, but the only time I remember seeing looking anything more than average was on a cable broadcast in the late ‘80’s; it seems like every dollar DVD manufacturer uses the same crappy dupe. Of course, it’s worth it for the pittance that you’ll pay (I know that pretty much every Walmart has Digiview’s version of this for a buck), but it would be nice if some enterprising Company would put this out in a pristine clear print complete with extras (I would LOVE to know what the fellow cast thought of working with ol’ Klaus!)- I have to doubt that will happen though as Creature seems to be stuck in some PD loophole Hell. Such a shame…

 

 

   ….anyway, if you see it, pick it up- a fun way to kill 90 minutes of tacky video viewing…

 

 

 

Creature– 31/2 out of 5*

 

 

 

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BCI-Eclipse shuts down (R.I.P)…

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   I was hoping to squeeze in one more (semi-) review before the New Year (oddly-enough for one of their releases) when it was announced that BCI-Eclipse was being shuttered by their holding company Navarre. This is a pretty big announcement to those that collect not just budget titles (I know that Drive-in Cult Classics Volume 4 was due in January), but they also put out some great Saturday Morning TV shows like Isis; Ark II  and Space Academy  (all three are great sets for those who are as nostalgic about 70’s TV as I am) as well as some import product. Navarre says that they will still be operational and will be releasing some of the announced titles, but doesn’t go into specifics, but (as some rumor followers are saying) they’ve already cancelled some Game Show Compilation discs for “What’s My Line?” and “Tattletales”. Bummer- they might not have cleaned up their prints to immaculate shape, but they did have a sense on what some of their more fun titles should be like (like their Exploitation Cinema line- one of their newer releases was the Mausoleum/Blood Song double feature that even had a Commentary)- I hope that sense of goofiness is carried over should Navarre release any similar discs. It seems like the down-turned economy is even hitting the economy-minded vendors (*sigh*). The link to the Official Press Release is below:

 

 

   http://ir.navarre.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=105157&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1237333&highlight=

 

 

Sleepaway Camp

 

 

 

   I haven’t even written it, but this is going to be my favorite review yet. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sleepaway Camp (1983) from its TV showings or various video releases, the story goes like this- in an after-credits sequence, a boating accident kills a father and a little boy, leaving the daughter as the lone survivor. Shipped off to live with her Aunt, the painfully-shy little girl Angela is sent to Camp Arawak with her cousin Ricky. And that’s when the killings start happening- by decapitation, archery impalement, pillow and hair accessories (among others). The kids are scared; the counselors don’t know what to do, and who is that wielding that ax?…

 

 

   This movie was a pretty big deal when it was released and made some nice money through the years as well as gained a cult-y reputation. It spawned two sequels which were made back-to-back by a different cast and crew than the first (Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers & Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland); an aborted third sequel (Sleepaway IV: The Survivor) that only has a 20 minute workprint left after being abandoned; and a long-time-coming completed third sequel (Return to Sleepaway Camp) which will be released straight to DVD in October 2008 (IMDB also has an announced ANOTHER sequel- Sleepaway Camp Reunion for 2010- but there seems to be some disagreement if that is an actual movie being targeted for Production). The Director left the film biz to become a lawyer (only to go back to Directing for the 3rd sequel). The fan base is so big that there is, in my opinion, two of the most impressive web sites ever created for a movie that cost around $300,000 to make (http://www.sleepawaycampmovies.com/ & http://www.sleepawaycampfilms.com/ ). All this based on, let’s be honest here, a pretty weakly-made flick with (mostly) poor acting, a dredge-like pace, and an unoriginal premise even at the time of its release…

 

 

   What DOES it have then? Well, it has a damned-creepy atmosphere- something comes off the screen that is almost palpable. The SFX (by Ed French; who’s done a ton of these kinds of movies) are simple but effective. A few of the actors have a screen presence, if not exactly acting chops- specifically Angela (Felissa Rose– a role that gets, uh, more difficult as it goes along) and Aunt Martha (played by Desiree Gould– who has the most bizarre chirpy cadence to her voice; the actress HAS to be a real-life nut-case). And, most famously, the freak-out ending that comes from left field. I don’t want to throw out any spoilers for those who don’t know (or WANT to know!), so I’ll do something a little cute here right now- just highlight the line right after the asterisks below:

 

 

   **The chick is a DUDE!!

 

 

   This is a budget DVD review blog, and that’s what I have- this time by the folks at Canada’s Legacy Entertainment, Inc. (SURPRISE! Web Site is “Under Construction”). The whole series of movies have been released legitimately a few different times; on VHS from Video Treasures and a great boxed set from Anchor Bay (with the special packaging and “lost” 4th disc only available at Best Buy– OOP and I proudly own) with a bunch on nifty special features. And what does the Legacy release bring to the table? A HORRIBLE full-frame VHS dupe that is so dark that it almost ruins the shock ending (it doesn’t appear to be the Video Treasures’ tape release as that was edited; this seems to appear fairly complete compared to the AB DVD version- it could very well be a copy of a taped-off-of-the-air copy). The most boring menu on a DVD I have yet to review. Box art that is home-made and cheap (and also kinda gives away something that it shouldn’t). They even drop the ball on the TRAILER- instead of a promised movie clip instead you get a scroll of the other titles available from Legacy (*yawn*). There is no way that this is licensed product, though it’s available at places like FYE and (where I picked this up) D.D.’s Fashions- a low-rent version of Ross clothes, but not only that, but Legacy released ALL THREE movies in brazen bootleg form; all with bad art and even worse transfers. If you DO insist on getting this weak version of the movie to save a few bucks, then at least look for Legacy’s “Night of Horrors Volume 1” which includes this and Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery also in badly-duped tape copy on a flipper DVD. It’s rated “R” for killings, nudity, etc…

 

 

   The upshot is- if you don’t already own it and want to fill out your collection (and can find it cheap- I paid $1.99 for this copy) then go ahead and get it. Then watch it and see if you like it- if you do then pick up the REAL release of this; and if you DIDN’T like it…uh, well… there’s always eBay…

 

 

   Sleepaway Camp– 2-1/2* out of 5

 

   Legacy’s quality- 1* out of 5

 

 

Graduation Day

 

 

   Legacy Entertainment (no web page- you’ll see why as you read on) is a budget outfit that popped up years ago as one of the early budget providers. Their specialty, it seems, is out-and-out thievery of other peoples’ titles. Sure, they release some of the same PD flicks everyone else puts out (hyping stars in early works like Robert DeNiro on Swap Meet and Sarah Jessica Parker in My Body, My Child to name two), but they also sell licensed works like the first 3 Sleepaway Camp movies and this one- Graduation Day (1981). The trouble is- they ain’t paying for their use, so this is some ol’ fashion bootleggin’…

 

   So the movie starts off at a High School track meet, where a girl just after winning a race drops dead from a heart attack. I guess this pissed SOMEONE off, because now a killer is on the loose, offing the track team one by one. Who would due such a dastardly deed- the Principal (genre stalwart Michael Pataki)? The Coach (the late Christopher George– who will appear in anything that pays him a check… remember 1980’s Pieces)? Or is it the sister who’s come back from the Navy; weirded out by the creepy step-father and who is constantly snooping around and jumping out of bushes? Maybe it’s someone else? Or maybe you’ll just give up twenty minutes or so into the movie because you don’t give a damn? Well, maybe- but you’ll miss out on routine throat slashings, impalings, beheadings, and death-by-football; Vanna White desperately trying to act; a sprinkle of nudity (including some early chest-baring by Linnea Quigley); and worst of all, gratuitous leg-shaving (well, maybe Pataki’s slacks-bulge is ACTUALLY worst of all). This is an oh-so typical 80’s Friday the 13th rip-off, with the Ten Little Indians-style set-‘em-up-for-the-slaughter pace, but not any worse than the 500 other ones that came out around that time. Not as bloody as Maniac or as funny as Prom Night– very average but competent (oh, and don’t miss the accidental joke when a character opens a door to the class shop labeled “George Michaels- Woodworking”- spooky foreshadowing, huh?). By the way- the director (Herb Freed) is an old pro at this kind of flick; he made others like Haunts and Beyond Evil as well, and helped this one make a TON at the box office …

 

   Legacy has the gall to issue to wholesale thieve this from a Troma VHS copy, complete with TROMA’S OPENING TITLES! The release is full screen and slightly muddy, but watchable. In the vein of Digiview or East West, their so-called ‘Trailer’ is actually just a list of other titles Legacy sells; 97 minutes. The DVD comes with 12 chapter stops; you’ll never know what you’ll miss so I recommend the fast-forward button instead. I got this at FYE for $2.99…

 

 

   Graduation Day– 2* out of 5