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Jan 042017

For a long time I have really enjoyed fantasy films from the 80s like Legend and Willow. Another one I can remember is The Last Unicorn, which has the same style of animation used in fantasy classics like The Hobbit and Return of the King.

In this story, a lone unicorn, simply known as the Unicorn, (voice of Mia Farrow) discovers that she is the last of her kind. So she goes on a quest in search of other unicorns that were chased off the edge of the earth by a demonic creature called the red bull.

She learns this from a Butterfly (voice of Robert Klein) that talks in riddle, songs, and poetry. Why couldn’t he just tell her straight? I mean, the way the Butterfly was carrying on was like he wasn’t paying attention when the Unicorn asked him about anything.

Throughout the Unicorn’s search, many of the people she meets mistake her for a white mare because her horn is invisible to them. It appears that only users of magic can see the unicorn for what she truly is and hear her speak, like Mommy Fortuna (voice of Angela Lansbury). She is a witch who runs a traveling Midnight Carnival, showcasing mythical beasts. Of course, the Unicorn is caged among them.

There, the Unicorn also meets the magician Schmendrick (voice of Alan Arkin). I can tell by his presence and persona that he is not an advanced sorcerer but is still learning.

After Schmendrick sets the Unicorn free, he joins her on her quest to search for other unicorns. All they have to go on is that the red bull comes from the seaside castle of King Haggard (voice of Christopher Lee), thought the connection between the king and the bull is unclear.

Along the way, they meet up with Captain Cully (voice of Keenan Wynn) and his band of outlaws. Although they seem to be a good group, the only one who joins Schmendrick and the Unicorn on their journey is the cook Molly Crue (voice of Tammy Grimes). She’s non-magical but does believe that unicorns are real and has for some time.

After getting to the castle, the red bull arrives and goes after the Unicorn. The only way to save her was for Schmendrick to turn her into a human girl, but that only causes complication. On the bright side, the Unicorn finally has a name, Lady Amalthea.

Image result for last unicorn amalthea

To make matters worse, King Haggard’s son Prince Lir (voice of Jeff Bridges) falls in love with Amalthea. If only he knew the truth about her.

I should also point out that there is also a talking cat that has an eye patch, a wooden leg, and an earring. It also talks like a pirate, which makes you wonder, but there’s no mention of where this cat came from or if King Haggard is its owner.

This was an interesting movie with exciting adventure and an excellent soundtrack that makes it a true 80s fantasy film. It was a great decade for that genre. Am I right?

Oct 122016

Unlike many zombie movies, Grindhouse: Zombiethon is mainly about a compilation of clips from several different zombie movies from the 70s and 80s. It starts with a young woman running from a zombie and hiding in a movie theater that’s playing old movies. Apparently, there are a bunch of zombies in the audience as well.

The movies featured include Zombie (1979), Zombie Lake (1981), Oasis of the Zombies (1982), Fear No Evil (1981), and The Invisible Dead (1970). Many of the clips that are shown have very creepy zombies often attacking attractive women who are at least half-naked. It’s like one cliché after another.

I should also point out the level of gore, which is so disgusting I always need to look away. You’re probably thinking, “These old zombie movies can’t be that creepy compared to the zombie movies of today.” Oh, yes they can.

Between each “movie”, there’s a scene featuring a different young woman running from a zombie and hiding in that same movie theater. As tiring as it may appear, I think it’s vital because it’s hard to tell where one set of movie clips end and another set begins. Especially since there is hardly any dialogue in the entire thing.

Later on, the in-between scenes are about the zombies in the movie theater struggling to sit still due to problems with the film projector. With a zombie running it, what would you expect? On the other hand, the way the zombies in the audience react is actually pretty funny. After showing all that gory drama, this movie really needed some comic relief.

Zombiethon wasn’t a bad movie, since I liked the idea of featuring old zombie movies in a series of clips. If it was meant to be a documentary style movie, couldn’t there have been a narrator or something? That way it would’ve been a little easier to follow. However, if you like zombie movies from that era, I think Zombiethon is at least worth checking out.

May 182016

We all enjoy a good audio book once in a while. Back when I was a kid the only kinds I preferred were the ones where you could follow along in a storybook while listening to a cassette tape or sometimes a vinyl record.

The main ones I still have are based on 80s pop culture I grew up on. That’s what made these books on tape so interesting and it’s very helpful that there’s always some sort of chime that lets you know when to turn the page. Usually audio books don’t have a book to follow let alone a signal to turn the page.

Let’s start with the series sets where each book was sold separately. The Smurfs had four different stories based on certain episodes; A Winter Smurf, The Smurf Champion, There’s a Smurf in my Soup, and The Smurf-Eating Bird. What really kept these interesting was the nice tune that played at the beginning and end of each story as well as the three-second tone that signals to turn the page. No other books on tape do that.

Ducktales had several stories as well based on particular episodes with the original voice actors and musical score. My favorite is Scrooge’s Treasure Hunt, which is basically from part 2 of the series pilot Treasure of the Golden Suns.

There was also a set of five stories on The Gremlins. I don’t remember these too well, mainly because I’m not as much into The Gremlins as I used to be. Moving on.

Next is a series of books based on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Unlike any other books on tape based on popular shows that stay loyal to their series, this group is nothing like the actual He-Man animated series. The stories and action are edgier. Some of which are featured in comic book style format. At first I struggled to get into these because they were so different, but now that I’m more into the fantasy genre these storybooks are awesome.

It wasn’t just TV shows that became books on tape. Movies have too, like The Muppets Take Manhattan and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Of course due to time, the story lines were trimmed down quite a bit, but still remain faithful to their source material.

There are other books on tape about 80s classics I’d like to blog about. So check my blog for part 2 for more.

Jul 012015

Many superheroes are usually vigilantes with a cause, or accident victims that acquired superpowers. Very few are chosen based on a legacy like the hero in The Adventures of the American Rabbit.

In a world where everyone is a talking animal, there’s a legacy about a chosen hero of justice. This chosen hero is Rob the rabbit. He’s a smart young man that’s great at sports and plays piano like a pro. Not many rabbits can do that, which shows that Rob has a lot of potential in more ways than one.

As the American Rabbit, Rob can fly, life heavy objects, and run fast with the roller-skate wheels attached to his feet. The transformation is simple. Rob turns into the American Rabbit by sprinting a short distance and turns back by saying his own name. I wonder what Captain America or Wonder Woman would say about this patriotic superhero.

The wise old rabbit that tells Rob about his destiny is only known as Mentor, though it would’ve been nice to know his real name. He pops in and out throughout Rob’s childhood and occasionally provides counsel when necessary while in a different guise.

Rob’s journey begins in San Francisco, where he finds a job as a piano player at a nightclub called the Panda Monium. It’s a catchy name since a panda named Teddy owns it. Rob becomes a fast friend with Teddy and the other employees. I like that they are such a friendly bunch.

The villains in this film are a gang of jackals that run a Mafia-style protection service. When Teddy refuses to pay, the jackals destroy his nightclub. Knowing that the jackals won’t stop there, Teddy and co-owner Bunny O’Hare organize a rally and eventually take their house band the White Brothers on a cross- country tour in order to raise money to rebuild the nightclub.

The jackals’ leader is Vultor. This guy is a man of mystery. His face is completely hidden under his shirt and tie and he walks awkwardly, which leaves the impression that he’s not entirely what he appears to be. Vultor will do anything to keep the people from rebelling against him, even trying to kill Rob and his friends at every city on the tour.

Another one of Rob’s friends who travels with the group is Ping-Pong the gorilla. He’s the hired muscle, but is very friendly and soft-spoken just like Teddy. It’s also interesting to know that Lorenzo Music voices Ping-Pong. Unlike some of his other characters like Garfield and Tummi Gummi from The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Ping-Pong doesn’t crave food so frequently. Somehow it just seems out of character for that distinctive voice.

This was a good animated movie. It had great 80s style superhero action and the potential for a TV series. Unfortunately, that never happened which is a real shame. I could only imagine what other adventures the American Rabbit would’ve had.

Feb 072014

Ghosts have come in many forms on movies and TV shows, but none have been more varied than on Ghost Fever. Police officers Buford (Sherman Hemsley) and Benny (Luis Avalos, who I remember best as a cast member from The Electric Company) are sent to a mansion called Magnolia House to evict the residents so the house can be torn down to make a freeway. The only problem is that the place is haunted.

Buford and Benny arrive at the house, but it appears to be deserted as they investigate the different rooms. The ghosts who try to spook them are Andrew Lee (Myron Healey) and Buford’s great grandfather Jethro (Sherman Hemsley) who is the district supervisor of all the ghosts. Occasionally, Jethro gets called away to take care of problems other ghosts are causing elsewhere. It’s strange that Andrew has been a ghost for 125 years and still hasn’t figured out his powers yet.

What’s neat about these two ghosts is that no one else can see or hear them, leaving Andrew and Jethro to provide their own commentary while observing.

Among the rooms Buford and Benny explore is the basement, which is also a torture chamber. One device that really sticks out is the one used to improve a victim’s rhythm with two sledgehammers and a spike in the rear. I don’t think you’ll find anything like that in any ordinary castle dungeon.

Now the real threat Buford and Benny face is the ghost of Andrew’s father Beauregard Lee (Pepper Martin). He can’t be seen because he’s under a voodoo curse. Serves him right since he used to be a slave master and used his torture devices on them. However, Beauregard can still cause harm to anyone he pleases. Even after all of that exciting proof, Benny still doesn’t believe in ghosts nearly as much as Buford does.

The only way Beauregard’s spirit can materialize is with a medium. At the stroke of midnight, Madame St. Esprit (Jennifer Rhodes, who played Grams on Charmed) will have the power. In the meantime, Buford and Benny cannot leave, so they’ll have to make the most of their situation.

Helping them do so are Andrew’s lovely granddaughters Linda (Deborah Benson) and Lisa (Diana Brookes), who eventually become their love interests. The evening really becomes interesting when the four of them are all dressed up in the ballroom and dance away to the music. Even Beauregard joins in as a mummy man. He certainly has some moves.

Once the séance finally takes place, Beauregard materializes as a vampire intent on creating zombies to haunt graveyards. Now that’s quite a plot twist.

Beauregard now has the weakness of any other vampire. He soon gets defeated, but it’s not over yet. There’s still the issue of the eviction notice. Linda and Lisa are “attached” to Magnolia House, so Buford and Benny try to help them by raising the money they owe.

Benny has a solution. If he can take on boxing champion Terrible Tucker (Joe Frazier) in a boxing match and last three rounds, he’ll win the prize money provided. Benny sure has an unusual fighting style using dance steps and is very clumsy starting with the struggle of taking the robe off while wearing the gloves.

I liked this movie for its humor and excitement. I must admit that the special effects were nostalgic. Some of it looked so animated. You can tell that’s old school compared with today’s standards.