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Dec 102013

Star Fairies is yet another straight-to-video feature that’s based on a toy line. Up in the clouds in the land of Wish-Come-True is Castle Wish Star, where star fairy Princess Sparkle grants wishes to children all over the world when they say, “Star Light, Star Bright…” You know the rhyme. One thing I don’t understand. If Sparkle is a princess living in a castle, where are all the servants and staff? It appears that she lives alone.

Lately, Sparkle has been overwhelmed with so many wishes and there are more of them every day. She goes to the magic wishing well (voice of Jonathon Winters) for advice and it tells her how to get the help she needs. Sparkle expected one helper, but ended up with five, which worked out even better.

These helpers are all star fairies and their names are Spice, Whisper, Night Song, True Love, and Jazz. Sparkle named them after their personalities. Why does that sound familiar?

With the assistance of Sparkle’s flying unicorn, Lavender, the star fairies go on their assignments. Soon they meet Hillary (voice of Drew Barrymore) who is unhappy with her boring life. The star fairies have no luck helping Hillary, so they take her to Sparkle.

The villains in this story are a group of greedy elves, led by Bungle Boss. With the help of his lackeys Frump and Snickerby, they steal Sparkle’s wand and cause chaos everywhere they go. It’s bad enough that the three of them keep fighting over the wand because they don’t know how to share.

Now it’s become a quest to recover the wand. The wishing well has the answer, but the elves took it also and sent it elsewhere. There are many dangers along the way, like a troll, a giant, a two-headed dragon, and a bunch of ghosts that live in the trees of a creepy forest. What an exciting fantasy quest this is.

Star Fairies is definitely a memorable feature. I could see a cartoon series coming from this with the star fairies having other adventures granting wishes and dealing with Bungle Boss and his elves. Unfortunately, that never happened. What a shame.

Nov 082013

If you like the old Conan films, then you’ll enjoy this similar title called Iron Warrior. It’s about a warrior, Ator (Miles O’Keeffe), who tries to save a kingdom from the wicked sorceress Phoedra (Elisabeth Kaza).

Luckily, Ator is not alone. He has the guidance of Deeva (Iris Peynado), a good sorceress who only communicates to him by telepathy. During Ator’s quest he finds Princess Janna (Savina Gersak) the rightful ruler of the kingdom. For some reason the name of the kingdom was never mentioned.

After rescuing Janna from being sacrificed, she becomes Ator’s ally. I admit, she has an interesting sense of style, especially with that short and revealing red dress.

During their quest, Ator and Janna go up against many enemy soldiers who work for Phoedra. The battle scenes are real exciting. However, the story line is very difficult to follow. I couldn’t make any sense out of it. Yet I still found it entertaining throughout.

The main foe Ator faces is Phoedra’s iron warrior. He is actually Ator’s brother Trogar (Frank Doddi), who Phoedra kidnapped 18 years ago. Even though Ator wins the fight, Trogar reappears at least several times throughout the quest. It’s about as annoying as a mini boss in a video game you would have to fight over and over again at different levels.

This movie was pretty good. It doesn’t really have much of a plot, but makes up for it with exciting action and adventure.

Nov 052013

Hugga Bunch

One of the most popular franchises of the 80s that are based on a series of dolls is the Cabbage Patch Kids. As we all know, with popularity comes similar titles. In this case, the most common similarity was the Garbage Pail Kids, but there was also one other that is considered to be a rare gem. It’s called the Hugga Bunch.

I haven’t thought of the Hugga Bunch for years. Remember when the grocery stores used to have video rentals and the children’s section always had quite a few obscure straight-to-VHS features among other kids movies? Well, this is one of those obscure features, but one that always stuck in my mind.

As the story goes, 7-year-old Bridget Severson (Gennie James) is a sweet child, who loves to hug. However, her family isn’t as loving. Bridget’s parents Parker (Mark Withers) and Janet (Susan Mullen) are always busy and her brother Andrew (Carl Steven) only cares about baseball and his computer. I noticed that the computer is the kind that uses the large floppy disks. You don’t see them like that anymore. It really shows how old this feature is.

The only person who really knows how to hug is Bridget’s Grandmother (Natalie Masters). Unfortunately, her Grams is about to move to a nursing home and Bridget seems to be the only one that’s highly concerned.

If that wasn’t difficult enough, Bridget finds a gateway to another world in her mirror. She tells her family, but no one believes her. Isn’t that typical? However, Bridget’s Grandmother does believe Bridget, but no one else believes her either. That’s odd because Bridget’s Grams doesn’t appear to be senile.

Soon Bridget finds out that the alternate world is called Hugga Land, where the Hugga Bunch lives. They’re like soft living dolls that love to hug and believe it’s the solution to all problems. It’s sweet. Weird, but sweet.

From what Bridget understands, the reason her Grams is moving to a nursing home is because she’s old, so Bridget and the Hugga Bunch visit the Book Worm for a solution to make her young again. There is a fruit that grows on a young berry tree, but there a catch. Not only does the fruit taste horrible, it actually disappears when it touches the ground. I guess the five-second rule doesn’t apply here.

Here’s where the adventure begins. The only young berry tree in existence is in the land of Shrugs, which is a scary and gruesome place. It has a sea of broken glass and a fire-breathing elephant to get past before getting to the young berry tree located inside a castle made of quartz.

Once inside, Bridget and the Hugga Bunch find the wicked and vain Queen Admira (Aarika Wells). She keeps the young berry tree for herself to stay young and beautiful. Surprisingly, Admira dresses a lot like the Wicked Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I wonder if that was where the inspiration of this character came from.

This sure was a memorable feature from when I was a kid. Looking back now, the style of puppetry reminds me of H.R. Pufnstuf, especially with Hodge Podge the talking elephant. Isn’t that interesting?

Oct 152013

Stephen King is best known as a top horror novelist and quite a few of these novels have become feature films. Stephen King’s first screenplay was for the 80s horror movie Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye. It’s a trilogy of terror with only one common denominator, a wandering adventurous cat.

While running from a muddy wet dog, the cat hitches a ride on a truck over to New York City. There begins the first tale, which is about a clinic called Quitters Inc. that uses unorthodox methods to help people quit smoking by scaring them straight. Dr. Donatti’s (Alan King) latest patient is Dick Morrison (James Woods).

The unorthodox methods feature a cell with an electric shock floor that’s used like a hotfoot. Dr. Donatti demonstrates it on the cat. As funny as the jumping around was, that’s no way to treat a kitty.

What’s worse is that for the first month, Morrison will be under constant surveillance. (I would guess paparazzi ninja style.) If he screws up, his wife Cindy (Mary D’Arcy) gets put in the cat room. If he does it again, his young daughter gets put in the cat room. After that, it gets much worse. All I can say is that it goes beyond the cat room.

After many temptations, including a hallucination, Morrison soon breaks down and secretly has a smoke. Unfortunately, he was caught immediately and has to helplessly watch Cindy in the cat room getting a major hotfoot. It’s a good thing Morrison didn’t smoke again after that.

During the ruckus, the cat escapes and gets on a boat, which takes him to Atlantic City, New Jersey. In the second tale, the cat goes to the casino. I guess he wants to play there, but has trouble getting through the traffic. However, this story is more about luckless gambler Mr. Norris (Robert Hays) being forced to stroll around the outside ledge of the building on the 30th floor. Casino Owner Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) makes it more challenging by testing Norris with bike horns and stuff, “Just to keep him on his toes”. Cressner sure likes to say that a lot.

That’s not the only obstacle Norris has to face. There’s a pigeon that likes to peck ankles and refuses to let up, as well as the giant sign which blocks the ledge. All the cat does is watch, which is a bit disappointing if you were expecting him to do anything.

After that the cat escapes and hops a train to Wilmington, North Carolina. The third story is where the cat serves his true purpose and that is to protect schoolgirl Amanda (Drew Barrymore) from a tiny troll. Amanda’s parents are against having the cat stay, but that won’t stop him from guarding her.

The troll is one creepy customer. He tries to steal Amanda’s breath and only the cat can stop him. The cat is no Puss and Boots, but he is a clever fighter.

This was a good movie. That cat sure gets around as an escape artist and a traveler. It’s as amazing as it is cute.

Aug 162013

Welcome back. Daffy Duck is back in the spotlight with his second Looney Tunes movie, Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters. This time he’s up against the supernatural in another get rich quick scheme.

It starts with a regular Looney Tunes cartoon short about Daffy reading horror comics, then falling asleep and dreaming about singing to an audience of monsters, but these aren’t just any old monsters. These are all spoofs of iconic monsters. The song Daffy performs is a good one; Monsters Lead Such Interesting Lives.

Now the movie starts. Daffy is down on his luck until he hears about a millionaire named J.P. Cubish, who is in poor health. In order to get into his will, Daffy has to make him laugh. He succeeds with pies to the face, lots of them. However, there is a catch. Daffy must use the inheritance to do good for the community, if not Cubish takes it away. It’s strange that he can do that after he passes on, even as a way to threaten Daffy.

This inspires Daffy to run a paranormalist business, which is a lot like ghostbusting. With Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig on his team, what could go wrong?

Like Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island, archive footage from old Looney Tunes cartoons are intermixed with the “newer” scenes. Some of which are clever scene cuts, like when Sylvester is sleeping on the window ledge. His dream is from the old cartoon short about Tweety drinking the Mr. Hyde formula and becoming the giant bird monster, which scares Sylvester out of his wits. Remember that classic?

The paranormalist group doesn’t face the evil spirits together like the Ghostbusters. They go to separate locations. Daffy attempts to rescue a young female duck that’s been possessed by several ghosts. Porky goes to investigate in the wilderness with Sylvester, but ends up lost. And Bugs goes to Transylvania, need I say more.

Daffy advertises with TV commercials that are on so frequently it’s annoying. “A masterpiece. Even better the 47th time you see it,” he says. No wonder he’s getting good business, but if only Cubish would stop taking away Daffy’s money.

This movie was good with its creativity with monsters. Daffy has always tried to one-up Bugs Bunny as the star of the Looney Tunes and never succeeds, but he’ll always continue to be a big favorite of mine just the same.