Archive for the ‘Cheesy Fantasy Realms’ Category

Frontier

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

FrontierI can’t resist the $1.99 DVD bin as hard as I try. I especially can’t resist a movie that is filmed entirely in a made-up language (“Bulbovian”) and *SUBTITLED IN ESPERANTO* (yes, you heard that correctly). This movie seemed like a dream come true!

This is the tale of two soldiers from Bulbovia, an imaginary Eastern Euopean country that has sent men out to civilize uncharted territory. At least I think that’s what’s going on; the font on the subtitles was really hard to read. Anyway, the soldiers tramp around through the handicapped-inaccessible forest (one dude is in a wheelchair) collecting bug samples and arguing about which species will get named after whom. After hearing the “forest speak” to him, the wheelchair-bound soldier can suddenly walk, and that’s when this film moves from “some guys with a video camera having fun in the woods” to “experimental.” (note: “Experimental” means: no-budget, but occasionally trying to be meaningful and/or artsy)

This movie doesn’t really have a plot to speak of, but it is supposedly based on a surrealist novel called Froktog by Mulnar Typsthat; at least every review of this film mentions that. However, the only thing I can find on this book are references to it through this movie. So… I did some anagrams of “Mulnar Typsthat” thinking that it sounded totally like an anagram of something and came up with “Nasal spurt myth” and “Strut Thy Napalm.” If you re-arrange “Froktog Mulnar Typsthat” altogether, you get “Prank Tart Lofty Mugshot” and “Mostly to prank truth, fag” and “try to fathom slut prank, G” Ah-HAH!

Like any good surrealist movie, things just kind of happen. I’ll just mention some of them: there’s a duel with plucked, uncooked chickens, Sasquatch and what looks like Jesus wearing a Greek theater mask frolic about in meadows, the formerly-handicapped guy (played by Wiley Wiggins, who has an awesome name) starts licking the leaves on the trees and eating the twigs, there’s a guy who wakes up with bugs crawling out of his mouth and finds an abandoned machine shop, Sasquatch and Jesus throw eggs at everyone…

In the end, I actually enjoyed this bizarre piece of filmmaking– it at least had a sense of humor about itself, and I’m totally a sucker for made-up languages.

Yor, Hunter From the Future

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

yor.jpgOK OK, I realize that it’s cheating to watch this sort of movie and review it on a cheesy movie website. I mean, finding the cheesiness in Yor, Hunter From the Future is kind of like shooting sleeping elephants at the zoo–you don’t need very good aim. We here at Cinebad strive to find the corny and cheesy in every movie, not just those low-budget fantasy flicks whose dialog could have been penned by the old Chinese guy who works at the liquor store down the street from me who is partially deaf and speaks no English.

Anyway, this movie touches upon “deep” topics, such as nuclear annihilation. You don’t realize this until the very end, but the message is there. Nuclear holocasuts are bad. Don’t let yourselves blow each other up, kids! Otherwise, you’ll be forced to live in stone-age level nomadic bands, wearing nothing but butt-reavealing animal skins, bad wigs, and battling dinosaurs all day.

Yor (played by Reb Brown) is our protagonist. He looks like a really built Dana Carvey, complete with his blond, unkempt wig from Wayne’s World. He is the mighty hunter (though he’s not technically from the future, but whatever. Details!) who goes around accidentally getting each tribe of people annihilated by accident. He’s actually trying to help them, but in the battle, he ends up running away with his chick and her father, leaving the rest of the tribe to be swept away by rivers, eaten by dinosaurs, killed by laser blasts or whatever. Sometimes he just kicks their asses.

You see, Yor is on a quest for self-discovery. For as long as he can remember, he’s been wearing this medallion made of who-knows-what. In fact, people he meets are always asking him what it’s made of, and his answer is always a wistful “I wish I knew.” It looks a lot like a jumbo piece of gelt that one would win in a particularly high-stakes game of dreydel, but I don’t think society has evolved so far as to have invented dreydels quite yet on this planet.

Along the way, Yor and his posse keep getting attacked by these guys from the bad tribe. They dress in black furs and paint their faces purple. They also grunt a lot. However, Yor still manages to elude them (plus a couple of dinosaurs) and find the secret island that was once ruled by his people…

I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say it ‘s an epic battle of Good vs. an Evil guy who constantly spouts lengthy soliloquies to his robot army (he’s trying to breed the “Master Race” which is part genetically modified human and part robot). Note to guy: robots don’t have feelings, and probably don’t care about your trials and tribulations, and how hard it is being Overlord (that’s really his name).

Even though this movie has absolutely no cinematically redeeming qualities (although one of the guys from the Island of the Aryans is kinda cute), it is definitely fun to watch. if you’re looking for things to round out your “worst movie ever made, yet in a fun way” collection– this one is a must.

Masters of the Universe

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Dolph Lundgren has always been one of the world’s greatest and most underrated actors. Here he gets to show his tender side as He-Man, battling Skeletor, and saving the kingdom of Eternia.

Along the way, he brings a scantilly-clad Teela, her dad, Gwildor the dwarf (they didn’t have the budget for that flying ghost thing in the cartoons, just Billy Barty–RIP). Their quest is to find the Cosmic Key, a glowing contraption that harmonizes the universe with its dulcet casio-tones.
The band of Eternians tracks the Cosmic Key to earth, where they meet Julie (Courtenay Cox, in between her acting debut in a Bruce Springsteen video and “Friends”) and Kevin (the future Tom Paris of Star Trek: Voyager). Hilarity and adventure ensue as Skeletor and his band of scary action-figures badly translated into real-live characters pursue them. There is even a poignant moment or two when Skeletor uses Julie’s weakness–her love of her parents who died in a plane crash– to get to her to betray her new oddly-clothed extra terrestrial friends.

The best moment is near the end, when Skeletor, clad in his Spencer-Gifts quality skeleton mask eloquently and dramatically delivers his Shakesperean last soliloquy:

People of Eternia! I stand before the Great Eye of the galaxy. Chosen by destiny by the powers of Greyskull! This inevitable moment will transpire before your eyes, even as He-Man himself bears witness to it. Now. I, Skeletor, am Master of the Universe! YES! Yes… I feel it, the power… fills me. Yes, I feel the universe within me! I am… I am a part of the cosmos! The power flows… Flows through me! Of what consequence are you now? This planet, these people. They are NOTHING to me! The universe is power! Real, unstoppable POWER! and I am that force! I am that power! KNEEL BEFORE YOUR MASTER! Fool! you are no longer my EQUAL! I am more than man! MORE THAN LIFE! I… am… a… GOD! Now. You… will… KNEEEEEL! KNEEEEL!

It brought tears to my eyes. Actually, this whole movie did.

Beastmaster

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

A boy is branded with a mysterious mark at birth, and a toothless evil guy with skulls as hair ornaments spend a lot of time trying to kill him. He grows up and talks to animals, and befriends Kiri, an escaped slave girl (Tanya Roberts). Kris’ claim to fame is that she wears skimpy leather things and kills bad guys with her lethal hair combs. Together they battle fleshy monsters whose hugs turn people into green-slime oozing piles of bones. This film also features a great feline of undetermined species (I think it’s a tiger painted black to look like a panther) and a pair of ferrets who provide comic relief as well as a convenient plot device.

Clash of the Titans

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Sir Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom

Sir Laurence Olivier is in his most powerful role to date: as the Mighty Zeus himself! Watch as he and the rest of the gods of Olympus smite people and entire cities! Meanwhile Perseus, our hero, goes around killing and dismembering all sorts of mythological beasts, rescuing the princess, and making the world safe for Athenian democracy.

Featuring Bubo, the Olympian made robot owl and innovative, yet outdated special effects by stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen. With a pantheon of famous actors as well, such as Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Burgess Meredith as the Old Guy, Claire Bloom as Hera, and Harry Hamlin as Perseus.

The Wiz

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Funky Fresh, Munchkin Style
Starring: Diana Ross, Nipsy Russell, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor

This is such an awesome movie; I can’t believe that more people don’t remember it. I have vivid recollections of watching this on Showtime when I was a kid (back then there was a box that sat on the TV, and you had to press a button to get Showtime…) The songs are disturbingly catchy and I can still hum them today. It’s also a blast seeing Michael Jackson with a real nose and everything!

This is a retelling of The Wizard of Oz with an All-Afro-American cast. There’s a buttload of 70’s stars like Diana Ross, Lena Horne, Richard Pryor, and Mabel King. And the greatest surprise of all… this movie was co-written by Cheesemaster Joel Schumacher, responsible for bringing such corny classics as Flatliners, The Lost Boys, Batman Forever, St Elmo’s Fire, and (brace yourself) THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN into the world!!! Unbelievable!

I actually thought this movie was a very clever adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. The action takes place in a psychedelic, decaying New York– one that’s full of corruption, drugs, and violence. There are some priceless moments of cheese in this masterpiece, such as:

  • When Dorothy gets spit into Oz by the cyclone, she crashes through a huge “OZ” neon sign.
  • The munchkins are actually taggers who get turned into graffiti by the Wicked Witch of the East (Dorothy kills her when the neon sign lands on her.) They do an Alvin Aileyesque street dance number.
  • When Dorothy & Co. encounter the Cowardly Lion outside the Public Library (he’s one of the two stone lions) the signs in the crosswalk say “DON’T EASE.”
  • Our heroes go down into the subway, where they’re attacked by man-eating trashcans and a psychotic panhandler.
  • Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, sits atop a giant toilet.
  • The Wicked Witch of the West’s evil Flying Monkeys are really a tough biker gang.
  • (I want a giant camera costume like the guy in the Emerald City!)

Our heroes have to “Ease on Down the Road” to the Emerald city, along the way encountering urban perils like drug use, muggers, slavery, and expressionist dance. They also have to endure the Tin Man’s (Nipsy Russell) occasional hysterical outbursts of “Teeny, Teeny!” while projectile tears squirt out of his face. When they eventually make it to the Emerald City, it’s a huge Studio 54-esque discotheque where the partygoers all dress in the same color, changing outfits every time the Great and Powerful Oz decides to change the lights. Every time the lights change, they have to sing a song about how great that color is. Uhm, right! It’s like the band Chic got together with Martha Stewart or something.

Filled with music co-written by Ashford and Simpson, Luther Vandross, and Quincy Jones, this movie is sure to make any self-respecting gen-X-er yearn for his or her childhood. And Diana Ross plays the part of Dorothy to spectacular dramatic effect, have periodic outbursts of face-twisting agony. In the words of my roommate Jed, “That’s why they call her a Diva, darling.” But what’s with that dress? Violet is definitely not her color.

What are you waiting for, a house to fall on you? Ease on down to the video store and rent The Wiz. Do it now! You’ve got to be seen, in Green! You’ve got to be dead, in Red! You’ve got the be rad, in Plaid…

Dragonslayer

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Peter McNichol

This is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time. It’s a bit gory for a Disney flick (watch baby dragons chew on the dead princess’s corpse), but it’s still rated PG, so you can rent this one while babysitting! Peter McNichol stars as a wizard’s apprentice who sets out to save a town from a mean dragon. He finds a nice medieval transvestite girl and falls in love. There is a bad guy; we’re not quite sure what his point in trying to stop our hero is, other than the fact that he’s bad, but he provides the role of the antagonist, since this film doesn’t have the budget to show the dragon very often. Dragonslayer is chock-full-of cheesy special effects, heroic deeds, and chanting in Latin. This is one not to be missed.

Excalibur

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart

It may be well worth it just to see “Excalibur” written in the shiny Excalibur font in the beginning of the movie! This is actually one of my favorite films, even though it looks like a big-budget 2+ hour Fleetwood Mac video. We see the birth of King Arthur, his early reigning years, and his death, all bathed in an odd greenish light, like he’s perpetually standing under a neon 24-hour dry- cleaning sign.

There are lots of drawn-out battle scenes involving guys in heavymetalesque suits of armor, and even a dismemberment or two. Lots of naked boobs, as well, if you’re into that sort of thing. With dialogue out of a D & D manual, this movie is sure to please! trivia: this was Liam Neeson’s first film. We also see that Captain Picard didn’t have any hair in 1981, either!

First Knight

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Sean Connery, Richard Gere

History nerds will love this one. There are at least 15 historical anachronisms in every scene, impress (or annoy) your friends by pointing them out! Sean Connery plays an aging King Arthur, who rules wisely and fairly etc. etc. And Richard Gere is that rogueish troublesome love-smitten knight, Sir Lancelot. He pouts and struts and lusts and has sporadic bouts of an English accent all for his married true love, Guenevere. If you love King Arthur tales, then rent Excalibur. Then rent Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And then Merlin. Then if you have time, maybe First Knight.

Gor

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

What happens when a mild-mannered college professor wearing an ugly ring his dad gave him crashes his Morris Mini into a tree? He gets transported into an alternate universe, of course! A universe where he’s forced to wear skimpy leather outfits and do battle with big hunky dudes in bejewelled battle armor.

Tarl our hero gets to help a ragged group of rebels recover an ugly glowing rock that houses the “spirit of their village” from an ugly hairy dude named Starm. There’s also a warrior babe love interest and all that usual fantasy movie stuff. She gets to defy the oppressive nature of her society by wearing a leather bikini and randomly shooting an arrow every now and then.

This is definitely the movie for you if you enjoy watching badly orchestrated fight scenes. Also, if you enjoy movies with stupid-sounding made-up fantasy novel names, you’ll be pleased. All in all, not bad!

The Magic Flute

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Pa pa pa papapapap papapa Papageno!
Starring: Josef Köstlinger, Håkon Hagegård, Ulrik Cold, Irma Urrila

What kind of monsters could sit there and make fun of Mozart’s magnum opus, The Magic Flute? What kind of monsters could rank on the masterpieces of Ingmar Bergman? Scooter and Krustee can! I love Bergman films, and I like a good Mozart opera as much as anyone, but really, operas are about the cheesiest form of entertainment around! Take corny improbable plots and repetitive music, and there you have it!

I went into this movie thinking, what can I say about it? It’s the filming of a staged production of the Magic Flute. But it also has that special Bergman touch. For example, during the overture, the camera focuses on a little red haired girl in the audience. She’s staring at some point ahead; we think it’s the stage. She doesn’t fidget or squirm. She sits perfectly still. We see a lot of this little audience member throughout the film. We get to memorize every hair on her head, every pore on her angelic little face and every innocent minute facial gesture on her face as she absorbs this opera. She doesn’t want to be at home playing with Barbies, torturing her little sister or watching TV. She likes opera! Maybe it’s Swedish thing.

Just as we think the overture is coming to a close, surprise, there’s more! There’s that darn little red haired girl again! But then we get to see more people in the audience. The audience is actually a gathering of the United Nations– it’s full men in afros, and women with bindis. There are people from every corner of the globe there! Mozart can unite these diverse people as they sit and stare at this cheese fest …in Swedish no less! (it was translated from its original Italian or German or whatever into Swedish.)

Our opera opens with Tamino, our hero, trying to slay a dragon Unfortunately, he’s very un-heroically getting his butt whooped. He sings a song asking God to save him from this dragon. Three young maidens come along and flog the dragon to death with a stick, while Tamino lies there unconscious. It turns out that the maidens were working for the Queen of the Night, who wants to enlist brave Tamino’s help in rescuing her daughter who was abducted by the powerful Sarastro.

Tamino runs into Papageno, whose main occupation is to be jolly, chase women, play the pan pipes and catch birds. They team up and set off to rescue the princess. The three maidens give them a magic flute and a set of magic bells to help them conquer whatever hardships they encounter. Tamino and Papageno split up to look for the princess.

Papageno finds Pamina, the princess, and rescues her from the evil clutches of The Moor. I didn’t recognize him as being such, seeing as he was played by a regular white guy, but whatever. Pamina rejoices at being freed from the Moor, and falls in love with Tamino, even though he didn’t really do anything. Three little blonde haired boys that look like Hanson keep appearing in a hot air balloon and sing pep talks at them but also don’t divulge any useful information that would help them achieve their goals.

Eventually we realize that Sarastro is actually a nice benevolent guy who’s in charge of a cult of super holy people who revere him as a god. It’s actually the Queen of Night who’s bad. And Sarastro is Pamina’s father! The Queen is annoyed at him, and commands Pamina to kill her father. Torn between loyalty to each parent, Pamina sings about the woes of being in the center of a messy custody battle. Sarastro invites Tamino to become the next cult leader after he retires. Tamino first must endure walking through a cave filled with fire and weird naked demons doing interpretive dances inside. He triumphs over this task by playing the magic flute, and thus the fire doesn’t touch him. Sounds like cheating to me! I mean, all of the other cult members survived this ordeal without the use of magic or woodwind instruments! Bur anyway, the Hanson boys in the balloon appear again and everyone lives happily ever after. And then we see that little red haired girl again…

Krull

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Liam Neeson

This sci-fi/fantasy film almost has it all. It has a friendly cyclops, a beautiful princess in peril, a little boy, a wise old wizard, a spider lady who lives in a giant web, and an army of spikily armored monsters. However, it lacks a plot. This doesn’t make much difference, however, because the dialogue and sets are so wonderfully cheesy it’ll leave you feeling satisfied enough.

I think the point of the movie is to rescue the princess and conquer evil, but there’s probably a universal hidden message that Joseph Campbell would pick up on. People are dressed in a D&D aficionado’s medieval fantasy wardrobe, yet the evil beings have laser guns and space ship technology. The Glaive, the ancient weapon of Good (a ninja-star type of thing) saves the day, but I won’t spoil the rest of the movie for you!

X-Men

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Form of a Plot Device! Shape of a Fight Scene!
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Bruce Davison

In the not-so-distant future, pollution caused by the Atomic Age has triggered the so-called “X-Factor” in humans, a genetic sequence that triggers useful and glamorous mutations. People with this X-Factor develop Super Powers when they hit adolescence (a fact that has caused much trauma with our friends over at CAP Alert.) These Mutants are regarded as dangerous threats to Family Values, and a Conservative Senator (Davison) plans to wipe them from the face of the earth. However, a kindly scientist, Professor Xavier (Stewart) loves the mutants and has set up a special school for the development of their gifts. These “X-Men” are his special elite task force, charged with defending the safety of all Mankind. (You can tell by their Spandex uniforms.)

Unfortunately, Prof. X’s evil rival, Magneto (McKellen), has other things in mind. He creates a machine that triggers mutations in all humans, and he hopes to level the field by making everyone a mutatant. But what he doesn’t know is that these “unnatural mutations” are deadly– his unsuspecting victims will eventually croak due to their own freakishness. The X-Men must stop him!

With the help of Wolverine (Jackman,) the mysterious victim of a government experiment, and Rogue (Paquin,) a hapless runaway with the power to suck the lifeforce out of everyone she touches, the X-Men must put an end to Magneto’s plans. But will they be able to defeat The Toad (Ray Park,) Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and Sabretooth (the ironically named Tyler Mane) –fearsome bad guys with amazing make-up and about three lines of actual dialogue each?

Unlike Scooter, I have a Y-chromosome, and therefore I got a big kick out of this movie’s many fight scenes. However, when you take those away, there isn’t much left to this movie. The relationship between Rogue and Wolverine is kind of touching, but aside from that, the other characters are just, well, superheroes. They don’t really do much except wander around and kick ass. Plus, I really like Halle Berry. I’ve seen her in other movies where she says stuff, and acts and… stuff. I think maybe she greeted somebody once in this film.

The evil Magneto was another thing that bugged me about this movie. Magneto is a mutant with the ability to generate and manipulate magnetic fields, thereby controlling anything made out of metal. The big showdown in this movie takes place within the Statue of Liberty, where Magneto gets to rip strips of metal off the walls of the statue and wrap them around the necks of our heroes. But… the Statue of Liberty is made out of copper, and copper isn’t magnetic. Iron’s magnetic, and so is steel, but only because it’s mostly iron. Wolverine has gigantic claws made of “Adamantium” (was it named after Adam Ant?) grafted onto his skeleton, and Magneto gets to control him, too. But unless Adamantium is really just iron, this wouldn’t work. So… whatever. I’m sure there are a billion discussion threads devoted to exactly this topic. In fact, I’m sure that Bryan Singer, the movie’s director, has received at least a million death threats from X-Men comic book fans because of this.

Anyway, if you’re a nitpickitty male nerd like me who enjoys fight scenes and bad scientific plot devices, you’ll love X-Men.

Ator, the Fighting Eagle

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Miles O’ Keefe, Sabrina Siani, Dakkar

I watched this film expecting to see a fighting eagle! I thought this might have been a precursor to “When Animals Attack” or other nature vs. humans themed films. Unfortunately, the eagle does not fight. In fact, the only eagle in this movie happens to be a stone statue that the bad guy occasionally talks to. Likewise, the main character’s name is not Ator. Neither is the eagle’s name Ator. But once you get through this, Ator, the Fighting eagle is a delightful romp through fantasy land.

Our story takes place on a bad studio set someplace in the universe. Is it prehistoric Earth? Is it on another planet? Who knows? All we know is that they have domesticated horses, but the wheel hasn’t been invented yet. We see a boy born who bears the mysterious mark of Ator. We don’t ever get to see the mark up close, just that he has one. According to the prophesy, the boy will grow up to defeat the bad guys who have taken over the land. Rumbling Mountains have something to do with it as well (see also Sheena). The bad guys are instantly alerted to the birth of the boy, because as he’s being born, “the earth trembles like a virgin being drawn to the nuptial bed–” how could you help but like a movie with a line like that? Anyway, a mysterious guy takes the baby away and gives him to strangers to raise.

In time, our hero grows up and falls in love with his sister. As he asks his father for his sister Sunya’s hand in marriage, he discovers that he’s adopted! How convenient! He’s confused, but happy. Unfortunately, for some unexplained reason, the head bad guy (Dakkar, played by himself,) crashes their wedding and kidnaps Sunya. Now our hero is on a mission to save her. But first he meets up with Griba, the guy who dropped him off to be raised by strangers, who teaches him how to fight. Griba gives him a shield that “belonged to Chung the Terrible. [He had] defeated him in combat during the assault on the City of the Winds that was governed by the notorious Seven Siamese Sisters.” But wait! There’s a plot twist. I’ll spoil it for you, because it’s pretty obvious. Griba is a bad guy too! He planned this whole overthrowing of the bad guys thing just so he can get promoted!

Get the picture? A totally cheesy movie, complete with bad dialogue! I can’t even go into all of the cheese involving bad special effects, a tribe of Amazon women and giant spiders.