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Nov 202012
 

When I found Sid & Marty Kroffts Saturday Morning Hits DVD awhile back, I discovered that the studio produced more than just Land of the Lost, H.R. Pufnstuf, and The Bugaloos. It also produced quite a few other shows I never knew about before. One such series was Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976-1977).

Like caped crusaders Batman and Robin, Electra Woman (Deidre Hall) and young sidekick Dyna Girl (Judy Strangis) are superheroes who fight crime with technically advanced gadgets and go up against colorful super villains. It’s hard to believe that I never heard about this show before because it sounds too good to pass up.

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl’s identities are Lori and Judy, who are reporters for Newsmakers Magazine. Whenever on the trail of a hot scoop, they always end up finding trouble, which requires the aid of their superhero alter egos. Very little focuses on that part, which is good because it spares us the drama about the difficulties of leading double lives.

The superheroines’ only ally is scientist Frank Heflin (Norman Alden), who stays at the reclusive Electra Base and always keeps in contact to back them up. Since there are no back-stories revealed on any of the characters on this show, it’s hard to say how Frank got involved with the crime-fighting duo. On the other hand, every Batman needs an Alfred.

Since the series is not available on DVD or Netflix, I only managed to see a couple of episodes, each from a separate Best of Sid and Marty Krofft DVD/VHS release.

However, I did discover that Electra Woman and Dyna Girl have six archenemies, which include The Sorcerer (Michael Constantine), Empress of Evil (Claudette Nevins), Glitter Rock (John Mark Robinson), Spider Lady (Tiffany Bolling), The Pharaoh (Peter Mark Richman), and Ali Baba (Malachi Throne).

They each have a partner in crime to match his or her image. Did you know that Sid Haig played the Genie, who works with Ali Baba?

I met Sid Haig at Cult Fiction Drive-In 2011.

One thing that concerns me about this show is that there are no actual fight scenes. The superhero action is completely confined to the heroines shooting laser beams from their ElectroComs, or using their gravity control to either float upward or land smoothly. I realize that stunts for fight scenes were different for women back in the old days, but come on. In the Batman series from the 60s, Batgirl was allowed to kick bad guys in the head. Couldn’t these ladies have at least been given that opportunity?

It’s not a total loss though. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl often end up in creative traps set up by the villain(s), but manage to find a way to escape at the last moment. On top of that, a Narrator (Marvin Miller) provides commentary to make things appear more exciting. However, it’s very brief and has hardly any personality behind it.

This was an interesting series. Despite the lack of actual crime fighting action, who wouldn’t find a couple of hot super heroines in tights interesting?

Sep 122012
 

Night Of The Living Dead 3D is one of the more recent remakes of the zombie horror classic. It starts out the same with Barb (Brianna Brown) and her brother Johnny (Ken Ward) going to the cemetery and end up finding zombies. They both escape, but get separated, no thanks to Johnny driving off without Barb.

Barb runs to the mortuary nearby and finds more zombies. Luckily, the owner Gerald Tovar Jr. (Sid Haig) rescues her. However, Tovar bluntly tells her to leave as if she was trespassing on public property.

Even after telling him about the zombies, Tovar still says, “Employees only.” You’ve got to hand it to Sid Haig. He sure knows how to bring comedy to a horror film.

I met Sid Haig at Cult Fiction Drive-In 2011.

Later that night, Barb finds herself at a country road after running for awhile. A young man named Ben (Joshua Des Roches) picks her up and brings her to the Cooper plant farm, where he and the Cooper family are taking refuge. They include Henry Cooper (Greg Travis), his wife Hellie (Johanna Black), their daughter Karen (Alynia Phillips), and Owen (Adam Chambers) the hired hand.

At first it doesn’t seem like they are taking refuge because no one believes Barb about the zombies. Her suggestion is to call the police, but what good would that do?

Here’s something ironic. While Barb explains the zombie situation, the original Night of the Living Dead movie happens to be on TV. What are the odds, right?

The zombies soon arrive at the house. Meanwhile, Henry’s son Tom (Max Williams) and his girlfriend Judy (Cristin Michelle) are making out in the barn. The zombies decide to go after them first because of all the noise they’re making. Neither Tom nor Judy makes it to the house, let alone back in their clothes.

After seeing that awful display, Henry comes to terms with Barb’s idea. “When the dead walk, you got to call the cops.” Unfortunately, the phone is dead along with the cable TV. There are also no cell phones because Henry doesn’t allow them in his house. It’s his house, his rules. What was Henry thinking?

While the others board up the house, Henry and Ben get some guns. All Henry has is a gun holster belt with two pistols, like in the old westerns, which he keeps in a tiny safe. How lame can he get? At least it’s better than nothing.

Later, Tovar arrives at the house and provides answers about the zombie situation. Now that’s what truly makes this version of Night of the Living Dead different. It actually provides a back story behind the zombies.

Barb, Ben, and Tovar manage to escape the house, but run into more zombies. Coincidentally, they are the zombies of Barb’s brother and mother (Marcia Ann Burrs). The surprises don’t end there. There’s also a plot twist that I never would’ve seen coming.

I enjoyed this movie. It stays true to the familiar story line while including plenty of new material. The 3-D effect makes a nice addition to the DVD, but why couldn’t it include the option to watch the film without the 3-D?

Jul 162012
 

Following the success of Independence Day, there came a sci-fi film about Martians invading Earth with an all-star cast called Mars Attacks!.

It starts with hundreds of spaceships arriving on Earth, covering every square inch of the planet. After careful consideration, the President of the United States James Dale (Jack Nicholson) informs everyone by televising an announcement that these aliens could be peaceful.

Before the aliens actually land though, the movie jumps around in several directions. None of these scenes have very much to do with preparing for the aliens’ arrival. It’s just random people doing random things and played by some big stars. They include Martin Short, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, Annette Bening, Jack Black, and others.

Pam Grier, who I met at Cult Fiction Drive-in 2011, is also in this movie.

That begins to change when TV show hostess Nathalie Lake (Sarah Jessica Parker) interviews Professor Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan) about his thoughts of the aliens as an expert in astronautics. It would go so much smoother if Nathalie would just cut down on the flirting.

It’s soon revealed that the aliens are cheesy-looking Martians that speak a bizarre language. Once they land and the leaders greet the U.S. Army and everyone who arrives on the scene, the Martians say that they come in peace. Then all of a sudden, they attack and kill people with their laser blasters as if they were having fun doing it. Nobody could have seen that coming, as rude as it was of those Martians.

With Professor Kessler’s help, the President tries to make things right with the Martians. The killing spree earlier was believed to be a cultural misunderstanding because there was a dove released to celebrate the peace and the dove was the first to be shot.

The Congress meets up with the Martians again, but this time with no applause and no birds. The Martian Ambassador is apologetic, then suddenly out of the blue, the martians kill everyone as before. Seriously, what is with these aliens? Can’t any Earthlings even talk to them without getting shot and turned into a colorful skeleton?

By this point, everyone is convinced that these Martians have no humility and like to kill for fun. The Martians even tried to infiltrate the White House and shoot up a Tom Jones concert in Vegas while destroying the Earth. How low can these monsters get?

Now the entire human race tries to escape the Martians with their lives, but an unlikely hero finds their weakness, which is a very unusual one, I might add.

I admit that this wasn’t much of a favorite. The story wasn’t too bad, but the way these Martians manipulate people is awful.

May 272011
 

We all remember that classic iconic alien E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Widescreen Edition). I was very young when I first saw this movie and for years I could only describe it in three words, “Two hours long”. That was because the slow pacing made the movie difficult to follow and I expected it to be more like ALF. Now I understand it a little better. E.T. is an alien who was stranded on Earth and was found by three children, Elliot (Henry Thomas), Michael (Robert MacNaughton), and little Gertie (Drew Barrymore). (Wasn’t she adorable?)

E.T. slowly learns to speak, thanks to Gertie’s guidance and a Sesame Street episode on TV. It goes to show that even aliens can learn stuff from that show.

E.T. is smart. He can not only identify his home with a Buck Rogers comic strip, he can move things with his mind and has a healing touch, which he’s always offering to use, even if you have a fake knife in your head as part of a Halloween costume like Michael does.

Then of course there’s the classic flying bicycles. E.T. is the perfect pilot to have, except his landings needed a little work.

This whole time, the children try to keep E.T. a secret from their mother Mary. Dee Wallace, who I met at Cult Fiction Drive-in 2011, plays the role.

As E.T. and the kids use a homemade contraption to “phone home”, government agents spy on them. Eventually they nab E.T. and keep him under quarantine because he has become ill. The doctors do all they can to save E.T. from dying. Although Elliot keeps telling them that they’re killing him, they don’t listen. Then a miracle happens. After some major cooling off, E.T. is all recovered.

Then Michael and Elliot escape with E.T. in hopes of getting him home. However, it’s not so easy with the police and government agents chasing them, but it becomes real exciting when they race off on bikes. That’s right, bikes that fly with E.T.’s help. I can tell that the landings have improved.

This was an interesting movie that’s real heartwarming. It still runs long at points, but was still enjoyable.

One last item: E.T. also has a ride at Universal Studios theme park. Here you get to ride bikes that fly, but the story goes in another direction. Not only are the seats more comfortable than on a real bike, but you also get to fly to E.T.’s home planet. The movie could have used that subplot.

May 252011
 

Ghosts of Mars (Special Edition) is along the same lines of Doom in the horror genre. In the year 2176, a group of police officers lead by Commander Helena Braddock (Pam Grier) head to the colony on Mars to pick up prisoner Desolation Williams (Ice Cube) to stand trial. Unfortunately, the simple prisoner transfer turns out to be something even more dangerous as the squad explores the city on Mars.

Pam Grier is well known for playing tough characters you wouldn’t want to mess with in films like Jackie Brown and Coffy. When I met her at Cult Fiction Drive-in 2011, she was very sweet. I told her that Ghosts of Mars was one of my favorites. She said that it was her favorite also, along with Mars Attacks because she enjoyed working with director Tim Burton.

Since there were no photos of Pam Grier from Ghosts of Mars, I picked out this one because it was the prettiest one of her. How was I to know that this photo was from The L Word?

Other members of the police squad include Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge), Sargent Jericho Butler (Jason Statham), and rookie officers Bashira Kincaid (Clea Duvall) and Michael Descanso (Liam Waite). As they all search for Williams, they find the town mostly deserted, which leaves them suspicious. There are also dead bodies hanging up in certain areas and Williams is blamed for it. When they find Williams, he claims that didn’t kill anybody, but it’s a little hard to believe him when he continues to make threats like a criminal.

As it turns out, deadly ghosts have possessed various people and whenever they get killed, the ghost leaves the body and possesses another. There is no end. The possessions cause the victims to turn into killer savages. They butcher people and even wear some of their body parts. Ugh!

The crew along with Williams now have to work together in order to survive. Slowly, the savages kill the crew starting with Commander Braddock when Jericho finds her head on a pike.

Shortly after that, Jericho finds some of Williams’s friends, Uno (Duane Davis) Dos (Lobo Sebastian) and Tres (Rodney A. Grant). They are as funny as they are tough. It takes a little extra effort, but the three of them agree to help the crew escape.

The battle scenes are both amazing and exciting. Those possessed savages even throw saw blades that can instantly decapitate anyone in its path.

An unlikely situation occurs when one of the ghosts possesses Melanie. She keeps a secret stash of pills in her necklace and that actually caused the ghost to leave her body. That must be a pretty strong drug if even ghosts reject it. It also makes you wonder why Melanie takes them at all. Is it a stress reliever, or what?

This is a great kick butt film. Yet, it’s one of several movies I have seen where people go to Mars and end up infected by something dangerous. I hope it doesn’t turn into a cliché.