Thursday, June 9, 2022

Junesploitation 2022 Day 9: Monsters!


  1. It (2017 – Andy Muschietti)
    I don’t have something original to say about IT, the newer adaption of Stephen King’s classic novel. The child actors do a great job and are well cast. Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise is actually scary, and he really managed to fill out the footsteps that Tim Curry set with his first interpretation – and it just works on its own. You don’t need Part II for IT to work just fine as a story for itself. Of course, the story as intended by King is only completed if you add the 2nd part, but at the same time, that’s the one that isn’t received that well and as it turned out, the 2nd movie didn’t fully work as well as the 1st. So I guess they did the right thing, splitting the story into two movies.

  2. Howl (2015, dir. Paul Hyett)

    British monster movie in which a passenger train mysteriously stops in the middle of a forest on a dark and foggy night. Is there a full moon out? Of course! I love this kind of survival horror. This movie has great atmosphere, cool monsters, and it's lean and mean, credits roll before 90 mins. Highly Recommended.

    1. I'm a big fan of Payl Hyett's rape revenge movie The Seasoning House (I know, it's ick to be a 'huge fan' of anything in that genre, but it really is one of the best out there - astounding cinematography, great performances, very bloody and very satisfying revenge) so I'm super intrigued by Howl... But I had always heard bad things, which kept me away. Definitely going to check it out now.

    2. Just watched this to wash the sex comedy I watched out of my eyes. Really cool werewolf movie. Gets almost everything right. Almost, but not quite, up there with Dog Soldiers as far as I'm concerned. Also, Shaun of the Dead was in my head the whole time to the point where I was quoting that movie the whole way through - *axe to the werewolf's head* "how's that for a slice of fried gold".

  3. Matango aka Attack of the Mushroom People (1963 Dir. Ishiro Honda)

    7 people on a yacht wind up shipwrecked on an island. There they find a worn out abandoned research vessel covered in mold and fungus with the diary entries warning of the poisonous mushrooms and the mysterious systematic disappearance of the crew members. Nowhere near as campy as the name or premise would suggest - it's actually a pretty somber and creepy movie. The special effects, sets, lighting and cinematography are all excellent. The sets at times feel like a horrible reimagining of Wonka's Factory if he had grown shrooms instead of making chocolate. The mushroom people themselves are weird as fuck and kinda terrifying. Their assault on our protagonists strongly reminds me of the attack of the ghost sailors in The Fog. This is a real gem and a nice alternative to Honda's usual Kaiju movies.

    Where it goes wrong is that the themes are a bit hamfisted and incomplete. It's mentioned that the research vessel might have something to do with nuclear testing (a theme of deep importance to Honda) but this is never really explored beyond mentioning it twice in passing. We never find out what the research vessel was doing there at all. Inexplicably, it ends with a different theme entirely - suggesting that maybe it's better to be a mushroom person than a citizen of Tokyo in the swinging 60s, and I can't make heads or tails of what Honda was going for here.

    But this is a damn good monster movie nonetheless with some imagery I'll never forget.

  4. Shark Bait (2022) aka Jetski

    Pretty run of the mill shark movie that hits all the tropes. Some annoying young adults get stranded way out on the ocean. Sharks attack. The least annoying one survives in the end. The characters are are pretty shallow. We realize one of the guys has been cheating on his girlfriend, but that’s the extent of any character development. Until that moment, I didn’t even realize she was his girlfriend.

    Meh. It was a more expensive than usual rental. Wish I used my time/money for something else.

  5. Fungicide (2002)
    David Wascavage is probably best known for Suburban Sasquatch, but before that movie, he made this berserk film that is all about a scientist named Silas Purcell (David Weldon) whose parents (played by Loretta and Edward Wascavage, the director’s mom and dad) send him to a bed and breakfast to try and calm down. He brings his work — trust me, I get it — and ends up transforming the woods around the home of Jade Moon (Mary Wascavage, who also wrote the movie with David) into a killing field populated by mushrooms who live on human meat.

    Also staying at the B&B are overly stressed and roided out pro wrestler Tony Ignitus (the much beloved Dave Bonavita) and a smarmy real estate agent named Jackson P. Jackson (Dave Wascavage, getting into his own movie), as well as a survivalist named Major Wang (Wes Miller).

    By the end of the movie, hundreds of mushrooms of all shapes and sizes have taken over and the only weapon that destroys them is balsamic vinegar, a fact that made me laugh so loudly and for so long that I lost consciousness.

    There’s also a moment where a humanoid mushroom vomits a human skeleton, which is everything that I want movies to be. I also absolutely love that every time someone encounters one of these mushrooms for the first time, they think they’re cute and try to pet them, which always goes bad.

    More movies should be less concerned about video fidelity and having fun. This film proves it.

    1. Eyyyy... we both watched human-mushroom hybrid movies!

  6. perhaps the PERFECT title for this category?

    The Monster Club (1981 Shudder Last Drive In)

    Any situation where i can tie my love of Junesploitation AND my love of Joe Bob Briggs Last Drive In together..i will. This morning was the perfect example as Joe Bob and Darcy just did this movie last week. This is a late career cameo laden anthology flick which features Vincent Price as a super sweet vampire who invites a horror author played by John Carradine to a monster rock club with the promise of story ideas after drinking some of johns blood. That sets up the framework for 3 anthology stories. Its all very "cute" and very 80s (very 80s alt rock tunes fill the interstitials) and tongue in cheek. The stories are all "twilight zone light" as they have a fun turn in them but not much more. Bonus cameo by Donald Pleasence as a van-helsing type vampire hunter. And, as always, its AMAZING to hear Joe Bob deep dive into a movie with so much passion, knowledge, and appreciation. He's the best.

  7. Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters (Yōkai Hyaku Monogatari) (1968, dir. Kimiyoshi Yasuda)
    Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare aka The Great Yokai War (Yōkai Daisensō) (1968, dir. Yoshiyuki Kuroda)
    Yokai Monsters: Along with Ghosts (Tōkaidō Obake Dōchū) (1969, dir. Kimiyoshi Yasuda & Yoshiyuki Kuroda)

    A trilogy of Japanese films featuring spirits and supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore called yōkai.

    The first movie shows the yōkai attacking corrupt and greedy lords for their plans to destroy a village shrine. In the sequel, an ancient Babylonian monster infiltrates a Japanese lord's house and some yōkai team up to defeat it. It's slightly more playful in tone and shows the yōkai as individual characters with personalities rather than just monsters. And in the third one, a gang of criminals kill a lawman and unwittingly desecrate sacred land, so the yōkai take revenge on them. The yōkai are on screen way less than in the first two, but when they are, the movie goes for much more of a horror tone.

    But the plots are pretty much irrelevant, it's the creature designs that are the main attraction here, and there are some fun ones. The long-necked woman looks appropriately creepy, the dancing umbrella creature is silly and fun, the creature from the Black Lagoon has a turtle shell, and one creature has a tv screen in his belly like a Teletubby™. Most of the yōkai are actors in prosthetics or kaiju-style suits, but there are also puppets and some animation thrown in.

    While the effects (obviously) show their age, they're mostly quality work and stand up pretty well. And at under 80 minutes each, the movies don't outlast their welcome. I had fun with these, and I'll definitely have to complete the boxset and watch the Takashi Miike remake on Free Space day.

  8. BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE (1959, dir. Monte Hellman)

    At a ski resort in the western United States, a gang of robbers hit a bank and escape into the wilderness. What they do not realize is that a spider monster is on their trail. As is common with era’s monster films, the creature itself is not impressive and largely hinted at until the ending, but the film built around it is better than most of this kind. A recommendation for those who enjoy 1950’s creature features.

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  10. Terror Vision (1986) dir. Ted Nicolaou

    More 1980’s than a dayglo Swatch with an acid wash denim band, I was a little worried Terror Vision was gonna go just a little too broad with the intentional new-wave wackiness for my tastes. Thankfully that ended up being mostly unfounded. It is plenty broad, but the strangeness runs deeper than a bunch of exaggerated pop culture tropes, offering a whole bunch of gloopy body horror, some amazing porno-chic decor, and some delightful narrative left turns. A great reminder that before they became micro focused on churning out sequels featuring micro sized monsters, Full Moon had carved out a pretty visually ambitious lane within the lower end of the horror budget.

    A side note: the all-too frequent real-life confluence of conspiracy theory spouting nut-bars and hateful rhetoric and ideology has really soured my enjoyment of the “wacky survivalist” trope, even when it hails from so-called simpler times. Hardly the pressing problem with the rise of extremism, but hey, still a bummer!

  11. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

    I took the opportunity to check out another of the classic Universal Monsters (it's taking me forever, but I'm slowly making my way through them).

    This one was a ton of fun. The creature's design is really neat, the female lead is very pretty, and there's a lot of cool underwater action which must have looked rad in the 1950s. It's wild how nonchalant these MARINE BIOLOGISTS are about dumping a literal bag of poison into the lagoon waters, killing all those fish and possibly wrecking the whole ecosystem. I was squarely on the creature's side from that point on.

  12. The Rats are Coming! The Werewolfs are Here! (1979) dir. Andy Milligan

    Oh man, even by Andy Milligan standards this is a real mess– suppose that happens when you tack thirty minutes of extra material onto an already shambling story– I’m not sure then what it says about me that I still really had a good time with it (minus the rat abuse- bleh). It’s especially surreal to watch Milligan himself on camera as an Igoresque rat salesman, and even more surreal that it actually seems like he’s enjoying himself. I finally tracked down an affordable copy of Jimmy McDonough’s the Ghastly One and am hoping to pick up the Milligan box set during the Severin sale this weekend, so looking forward to a true summer of scuzz!

  13. Just got back from vacation and will commence my Junesploitation watching starting John Frankenheimer's PROPHECY.

    An astronaut returns from space with a somewhat melty skin condition. He wanders around Small Town USA, killing folks while staying one step ahead of the authorities. This is a real oddity. Big chunks of the running time are made of vignettes about people living in town, before they're interrupted by the Melting Man. This features early work by Rick Baker, doing some great goopy gore effects. It's ruefully slow-paced which will be a deal-killer for some folks. But I'm glad I saw it.

    Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 9: CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986)
    A nuclear waste spill leads to craziness at a nearby high school. After The Toxic Avenger became a midnight-movie hit, clearly the mandate was for more sex n' violence. The movie is a lot more ambitious with the makeup and effects, but also in story with a lot more characters running around. There's a young couple in love at the center of it all, so we get a bit of a sweet romance along the way. That's when these Troma movies work best, when Kaufman shows some empathy for his characters, no matter how outrageous the movie.

  15. Halloween 2 (2009 zombie edition bluray)

    #1: yes yes this flick could be under slasher day or so many others BUT if you dont consider Michael Meyers a MONSTER, then we agree to disagree.

    #2: ive never connected with Zombie as a filmmaker. love his music and videos but his filmography has left me flat. Im not a huge hicksploitation guy but did start to at least appreciate the Firefly family films in 3 From Hell. I didnt like his take on Halloween so i never tried this one. Decided it was worth a try for monster night.

    In the end my feelings are unchanged. I think zombie does GREAT heavy duty real feeling violence and it works for this movie. I think casting Malcom McDowell as Loomis is brilliant. But overall i think the movie is just meh. I think zombie does setpieces fine but lacks a cohesive vision. In this case i do cut some slack as Michael Meyers is so much better as a one off or maybe two off character and the endless sequels and reboots are realllllllly unnecessary.

  16. SECTOR 7 (2011, dir. Kim Ji-Hoon) – A giant creature wreaks havoc and death on an oil rig in this South Korean production. Being a film from the twenty-first century, almost everything is a CGI rendering, including the monster. I confess to not being a big CGI fan, but there was enough good about Sector 7 in other ways to overcome my discomfort with the visual effects. The action scenes are staged well, and the fast pacing kept the story fresh. Overall, this a derivative film, particularly bringing in mind the Alien franchise with the look and staging. It does entertain, yet the effort required to kill the creature does get a little ridiculous at times.

    I went to a festival screening of this one without any info but a friend's urging. We left the theater happy! I watched it again maybe ten years ago. Same feeling. For some reason, I got it my mind since then that Ron Jeremy was in it. Weird. No explanation for that notion. This time around I was still pleased, but especially satisfied to watch so much handmade monster & goop fun onscreen.

  18. Shin Godzilla (2016, dir. Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi)

    First-time watch. Still thinking about it. I dug it.


    The Shape of Water (2017, dir. Guillermo del Toro)

    Maybe my favorite del Toro?

  19. The Ghost in the Darkness (1996)

    This movie legit scared me as a kid. I was CONVINCED lions were going to pull me out of my bed by my feet and eat me. While I didnt find it terrifying today, I still dig this movie.

  20. Quatermass and the Pit 1967
    Roy Ward Baker

    Just enough monster to qualify...

    First time watch for me and it was a fine little film. All the shocks to the senses I think it would've been best experienced in a theater but this movie really went for it. The actors were game and the effects were pretty seamless. Total fun watch with a great pace, especially in the 2nd and 3rd act! This is what Junesploitation is all about.

  21. The Gorilla (1939) dir. Allan Dwan

    I was looking for a short runtime to get a movie in today and ended up really liking this horror comedy. They pull the bait and switch with the monster element (or do they?!?!) but oh well. First time seeing a movie starring The Ritz Brothers. They're thought of as low-rent version of The Marx Brothers (fair) and even compared negatively to The Three Stooges (not fair). I laughed A LOT more than I expected to. Harry Ritz and Patsy Kelly in particular are very funny. Bela Lugosi plays the butler in one of his best roles. He seems to be having so much fun that it's actually kinda cute.

  22. Prophecy (1979)
    John Frankenheimer is wild for this one. Kinda like Just Before Dawn but with a certain type of monster that's ... interesting. I dug it.

  23. Saw the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World Dominion double that so many saw.

    Jurassic Park (1993) - A perfect movie
    Jurassic World Dominion (2022) - A terrible movie

  24. Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)

    There is literally one good Jurassic Park movie, though 3 is decent and I've warmed up to Jurassic World.