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Mar 152017
 

Next to Anime, Sentai shows are often interesting. One title that always seems to pop up is Ultraman: The Complete Series (1966-1967). Until fairly recently, I had no idea what it was about since the commercials and merchandise don’t tell much.

The series takes place in the future and various aliens from outer space, mainly giant monsters, come to Earth and try to threaten civilization. It’s always up to an organization called the Science Patrol to protect the planet from these monstrous threats.

The Science Patrol consists of Captain Mura (Akiji Kobayashi), tough guy Daisuke Arashi (Sandayu Dokumamushi), the funny inventor Mitsuhiro Ide (Masanari Nihei), the pretty radio/communications operator Akiko Fuji (Horoko Sakurai), and her younger brother Hoshin Fuji (Akihide Tsuzawa).

Also helping out is Deputy Captain Shin Hayata (Susumu Korobe), who unknown to everyone is Ultraman, a giant intergalactic hero.

Unlike other superheroes, Shin never transforms right away when faced with the monstrous danger. He always waits to do so as a last resort because Ultraman has a color timer, limiting his powers. In a way, it’s a total rip off.

I know that it’s a 60s series and I don’t expect much action, but the Ultraman battles are only featured in the climax of each episode. That’s best part of the show, seeing Ultraman kick monster butt.

Overall, this was a good show for its time. Though not as exciting as the Super Sentai franchise, it certainly is interesting like in the way of the classic Godzilla movies.

Feb 152017
 

If you thought you’ve seen every version of The Wizard of Oz, think again. The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz takes a sci-fi turn on the old classic.

Due to a natural occurrence that happens once every 1000 years, noble Dorothy and her dog Toto get swept into a black hole, which takes them to Oz in another galaxy. It’s also neat that Dorothy’s home planet is called New Kansas.

Instead of ruby slippers, Dorothy wears a balloon suit, which is a special kind of safety suit. Secondly, her Aunt Em gave it to her, not the Good Witch of the North. Come to think of it, the Good Witch of the North doesn’t even appear in this version.

Image result for the wonderful galaxy of oz Gloomhilda

Apparently, representing the Tin Man is a robot named Chopper, who works for Dorothy’s family. He goes along to Oz as well. I can’t help but think that his mannerisms remind me of C-3PO from Star Wars.

Upon arrival, Dorothy and Chopper meet their other allies. First is Plantman, who represents the Scarecrow. He has a laid back persona, but can sometimes come off insensitive. Of course that’s all thanks to him not having a brain, so he doesn’t really know any better.

Next is the Cowardly Lion. It turns out that there’s a whole tribe of lions, who are all equally cowardly. The only one who sticks around is their leader Lionman. It’s funny how all of the lions run off all at once. Some of them even shouted, “Run away!”

They all soon make it to the Wizard of Oz, who is actually a scientist named Dr. Oz. (No, not the Dr. Oz with the medical talk show.) Before meeting him, it’s revealed that he has a son, Mosey. You might assume that the story ends here but it doesn’t. The real adventure is only beginning.

As for villains, the main enemy is the evil witch Gloomhilda. At first I thought she represented the Wicked Witch of the West. It turns out that Gloomhilda is her daughter that’s just taking orders.

The actual Wicked Witch of the West is a very creepy entity with a sinister persona. She wears a red cloak to hide her face, which certainly makes her the creepiest version of the witch I have ever seen.

This was an interesting movie version of The Wizard of Oz. It was real adventurous as well as humorous. What stands out most with the humor is Gloomhilda’s General Sludge. He’s not only goofy. Sludge sounds real similar to Pee-Wee Herman. You got to love it.

Feb 082017
 

I’ve seen some movies about giant monstrous spiders and the most memorable one to me was Eight Legged Freaks, but that soon changed when I saw Big Ass Spider!. This is about a giant spider, which was an experiment gone wrong, that’s on the loose. It starts small, but only gets bigger, not to mention stronger and faster.

The movie starts with exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Gunberg) waking up on the ground in the middle of an intense battle against the giant spider. Then suddenly, it cuts to an earlier time. It’s so hard to follow a movie when it does that, especially when I see it for the first time.

As the story goes, Alex gets bitten by a spider and treated at the hospital. Suddenly, a mysterious spider comes out of a dead body and starts attacking people. Now this spider is bigger than any other and is smart enough to unzip zippers, open sewer grates, and snatch rolling quarters with ease. That’s definitely out of the ordinary.

Alex offers his services as an exterminator with the help of security guard Jose Ramos (Lombordo Boyar). He is such a comedic character and is very helpful in his own way.

Then suddenly the military is involved. Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) intends to hunt down this spider before anyone, Major Tanner doesn’t take him seriously.

Of course that doesn’t stop Alex and Jose. They track the spider themselves as the army does the same. As the spider continues to grow while loose in the city, it catches and eats people really fast. It was creepy enough when the spider attacked in its small size.

Also assisting Major Tanner is Lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer). Alex likes her, even though she can come off cold. Eventually Karly does warm up to him, but she’s a soldier first.

I met Clare Kramer at Mini MegaCon 2009 and still remember how sweet she was.

It’s interesting that Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo. I thought he looked familiar.

This was a good movie with plenty of Sci-fi action and humor. As creepy as this spider was, I have to say that the scariest movie spider would be the one on Arachnophobia. It may be a lot smaller, but still very deadly.

Jan 252017
 

It’s been a while since the Fatal Fury franchise had a movie. Years after the Anime feature was the live action movie The King of Fighters, which is about top martial artists competing in a tournament that takes place in another dimension.

One of these fighters is CIA operate Mai Shiranui (Maggie Q). She has some of the most amazing moves. In addition to that, when a fighter enters the other dimension, his/her clothes change like how they’re dressed in the video games. Though I must point out that Mai’s outfit is not as skimpy as it usually is.

They can also use projectiles like in the video games. Unlike other live action video game based movies, this one uses them pretty regularly.

It turns out that the King of Fighters tournament is made possible with three relics: The Kagura Mirror, the Yagami Necklace, and the Kusanagi Sword. And the tournament is hosted by Chizuru Kagura (Francoise Yip, who I remember best as Nancy the gorgeous biker girl from Rumble in the Bronx).

 

The mysterious and power hungry Rugal Bernstein (Ray Park) steals the relics and uses them to enter the other dimension in order to awaken a creepy entity called Orochi and gain unlimited power. Rugal is a tough villain, but what is the deal with his eye? It’s very distracting with no explanation behind it.

Chizuru is intent on stopping Rugal, so she tasks Mai. Helping Mai is fellow participant Iori Yagami (Will Yun Lee). It’s not mentioned, but he appears to be Mai’s boyfriend.

Mai also seeks help from Kyo Kusanagi (Sean Faris), who is the son of former participant Saisyu Kusanagi (Hiro Kanagawa). Kyo is against it at first because he doesn’t believe that the other dimension even exists. Kyo does join once he finds out that Rugal is involved, since he has a personal vendetta with him.

Another big skeptic helping out is CIA agent Terry Bogard (David Leitch). I didn’t recognize Terry at first because he wore a suit and tie most the time. Then I remembered who Terry was once he entered the dimension wearing that sleeveless red jacket. Terry even finds a red hat that says “Fatal Fury” on it. Isn’t that interesting.

It turns out that Rugal is summoning every fighter in the tournament to the other dimension and killing them. There were exceptions, though. Attractive participants Mature (Monique Ganderton) and Vice (Bernice Lu) end up as Rugal’s servants. All he had to do was kiss them on the lips. This guy sure is persuasive.

This was certainly a great movie with cool martial arts action and awesome music to go with it. Since the Fatal Fury franchise is making quite a comeback, I should start catching up on those video games.

Nov 092016
 

When it comes to aliens and the horror genre, it’s not often that I would visualize them together but it does happen. One such example is the independent film Extraterrestrial.

This is about college teen April (Brittany Allen) spending a romantic weekend at her mother’s cabin with her boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma). However, April is dismayed when Kyle brings his friends along. They include goofball Seth (Jesse Moss), his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic), and stoner Melanie (Melanie Papalia).

That’s right. It’s a movie about teens in the woods being terrorized by something frightening. This time, an alien spacecraft comes in search of victims to capture and experiment on. The way it was done is much more intense than the common cliché.

At first I thought the aliens were blowing up people after what became of their first victim Nancy McPherson (Emily Perkins) at the beginning of the movie.

Luckily the teens have an ally, Travis (Michael Ironside), who was friends with April’s father. He’s a weed farmer with a military background. It’s amazing what he knows about the aliens.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Murphy (Gil Bellows) investigates the disappearances. Of course he’s skeptical but all the clues he finds always lead to alien attacks.

The aliens only appear in short glimpses throughout the movie, but I can tell that they have a generic look with green skin and bald heads, wearing no clothes. The aliens never talk, so their reasons of invading remain a mystery.
This was a good movie. Sure it contained quite a few clichés of sci-fi horror films but that’s what made it easy to follow, just the way I like it.