58 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
19 June 2002
This was yet another movie that played endlessly in local syndication during my mis-spent youth, and I loved it. For a nine-year-old viewer, this is some pretty damned bleak stuff. Near-total worldwide blindness, dangerous gangs of looters (or worse), poisonous man-eating plants that pull themselves out of the ground to chase you...I mean, we're basically talking about the end of the world here!

Knowing that this was based on a British science fiction novel that was by all accounts a classic, I had been curious for years as to what the source material was like. Well, just five days ago I finally found John Wyndham's original, and BOY is it a different animal altogether! I would love to see a straight adaptation rather than the adventure/monster movie take that was employed for the 1963 movie. The original story focuses more on modern (1950's) society coming to a dead halt, and the survivors' attempts to start over rather than the threat of the triffids (which are a lot scarier in the book). Anyway, the novel is severely dumbed-down for the screen, and it kind of made me sad to think what the author must have thought of the movie. So, while I still like the movie for what it is, I recommend the novel for a story that will really make you think.
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Saiyûki (1960)
5 June 2002
Over the years, I have seen many reviews that have mercilessly slagged ALAKAZAM THE GREAT as a bad movie, and it even made it into the highly questionable book THE 50 WORST FILMS OF ALL TIME. The question I have is: did all of you who hate this movie see the same film that I did when I was a youngster? I have shown many children this film over the years and not one of them failed to enjoy it.

ALAKAZAM THE GREAT is loosely based on the Wu Cheng-En classic JOURNEY TO THE WEST, a landmark of Chinese epic literature, and tells the story of an arrogant monkey king who learns the secrets of magic and becomes a cosmic pain in the ass. After a brief rampage through the heavens, he is imprisoned by the gods and eventually sent on a pilgrimage to atone for his sins and learn humility. The monkey must escort a young prince (who is the son of the gods) through a series of insanely lethal adventures in a land teeming with demons and monsters of every description, picking up a couple of unusual traveling companions along the way (an anthropomorphic pig-man and a burrowing cannibal). Much magic and cartoon ass-whuppin' ensues, and despite the (mercifully brief) musical numbers, this film has raw imagination to spare. Fast-paced and fun, this is not the dud that some would lead you to believe. Give it a chance!
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4 June 2002
Warning: Spoilers
If any of you out there know me at all, you know that I simply love Godzilla and all of his rubber-suited brethren. That said, I am fully capable of giving a fair and impartial review of Big G's films; let's face it, the big guy's had his share of stinkers (GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND anyone? Peeee-yew!!!). Some of the Godzilla oeuvre (fancy film-snob word!) have been attempts at social commentary, with varying degrees of effectiveness, yet most are simply good, old-fashioned city-stompin' fun. I am pleased to inform you that the latest installment in the series is a fine return to the old-school fun monsterfests of yore, in fact GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS gets the El Buncho seal of approval as the best Godzilla flick in a decade!!!

SPOILER WARNING!!! As of now, since I basically just gave you all the "yea or nay" of all of this, you can skip this review if you don't care about Big G. All others, stick around! Also, since this film has yet to see US release, and most of you may not have my video resources, where else are you going to hear about this one?

In this installment, despite what Toho has set up in the previous entries of the current series, it is revealed that Godzilla (there is no longer a distinction between old and new) has shown up a couple of times since 1954 (when he was decisively killed by an "oxygen destroyer", but I won't go there…) in search of nuclear energy to feed off of. To curb the big critter's appetite (to say nothing of his periodic rampages all over the country), the Japanese government bans nuclear power and develops a plasma-based clean fuel system. For whatever reason, this does absolutely nothing to thwart Godzilla.

The government then implements a paramilitary group called the G-Graspers (Yes, I'm serious) who intend to put an end to the big guy once and for all using a focusable black hole generator called the Dimension Tide. The leader of the G-Graspers is a young woman named Tsujimori, a former ranger whose commanding officer was killed in an encounter with Godzilla five years previous, and she is obsessed with avenging her commander's death. She recruits a humble nano-technology (itty-bitty robots) genius named Kudo to help on the Dimension Tide project by using his skills to create the ultimate computer system to guide it. Why he creates a super-guidance system that can only be operated from his personal laptop computer is beyond me, but I'll let that one go…

The test of the Dimension Tide gun is a success, sucking an abandoned test building into oblivion, but there is evidence of residual dimensional distortion. Of course, no one thinks anything of it, and a little boy who accidentally witnesses the test finds a mysterious egg, which he promptly takes home. His family is then transferred to Tokyo, where he abandons the growing, oozing egg in the city sewer system. At the same time, a solar powered satellite is launched into orbit which houses the Dimension Tide gun and can be focused anywhere in the world. However, it has been untested from such a great distance… Meanwhile, the egg has begun to replicate in the stagnant sewer water, and soon there are thousands of the damned things…

In the meantime, Tsujimori and the G-Graspers find Godzilla on his way to the mainland, and Tsujimori plants a tracer on Godzilla (while hitching a ride on him, no less!!!), making it easier for the G-Graspers to track him with the orbiting black hole gun.

A young couple walk into a back alley and are devoured (very graphically for one of these movies!) by what appears to be a giant dragonfly larva. Then, for absolutely no reason, Tokyo is flooded (???), creating a perfect environment for these giant dragonflies to mature in. Presently, there is a swarm of them flying about in search of radioactive sustenance (I know they ate people, but what the hey?), and by swarm I mean thousands. And what better radioactive snack than a 400-foot tall guy in a rubber suit?

Megaguirus proceeds to hand Godzilla the granddaddy of all ass-kickings in a scene which is truly painful to watch. This is without question the fight of Godzilla's career, with a climax that made me feel like I haven't felt since that day back in 1977 when I first saw Luke Skywalker blow the Death Star out of the sky. For once Godzilla really earns his victory. Trust me, Godzilla fans, this is the stuff.

Once Megaguirus is dry-roasted, Godzilla falls victim to the Dimension Tide's black hole. Or does he? (Watch all the way through the credits for the answer to that question.)

As is apparent from my synopsis, this movie doesn't make a whole lot of sense, even by the somewhat dubious standards of the Godzilla series. To that I say, "who cares?" This is one of the few times where I'm utterly willing to overlook such things, because this is the rare Godzilla flick where the story with the humans is actually interesting and lively. If you like this kind of stuff, definitely check it out! FINAL EL BUNCHO GRADE: A SOLID 9 OUT OF A POSSIBLE 10.
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Tunnel Vision (1976)
23 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER WARNING (but you'll thank me for it)

I first saw TUNNELVISION at a party back in 1983, and the effects of the intoxicants that were rampant in my 18-year-old brain led me to belive that it was a comedic masterpiece. NOT SO, I say! Bear in mind that this was made at a point in the seventies when it seemed like everyone (including the president) was stoned out of their minds, and most of these gags are geared to a seriously baked audience. Sadly, that type of humor doesn't necessarily work if you aren't stoned, and out of the seventy-five minute running time, I'd estimate that there are maybe 20 minutes of solid laughs. Take my advice and don't miss:

REMEMBER WHEN- a gameshow where the contestants are chosen by how foolish and embarrassing their outfits are (Betty Thomas in pasties and a g-string and Joe Flaherty in a ludicrous red dress), with questions asking them to remember the various crimes and degradations that they have committed.

RAMON & SONYA- an "All In The Family"-style sitcom about a bunch of foul-mouthed, incestuous gypsies living in New York city.

THE BIG BEAT- a wish fulfillment segment reminiscent of Don Kirschener's Rock Concert, only here the audience gets to beat the living hell out of the various performers.

HOW TO BE BUTCH- perhaps the ultimate PSA, and hilariously self-explanatory.
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Drum (1976)
17 April 2002
For those who don't know: MANDINGO and DRUM are both adaptations of books from the Falconhurst plantation series of novels by Kyle Onstott and, later, Lance Horner. There were several books in the series; thus far I've run across about five or six of them!

DISCLAIMER: let me state right now that I am black and can totally understand how people are easily offended by these films. The thing is these films feature such sheer, unadulterated exploitation and overripe acting/dialogue that hardcore bad movie addicts will have a hard time NOT finding these films majorly entertaining! I flat-out admit that both MANDINGO and DRUM are among my favorite guilty pleasures, and I view them both as what would happen if John Waters could have gotten away with making a really sleazy soap opera set on a plantation. Some of the dialogue is so ridiculous that it's nearly impossible for me to take these films seriously at all, although the rape and torture does bring one back to the wretchedness of the situation.

Anyway, I don't know where those of you who claim that DRUM is not a sequel to MANDINGO got that idea. Warren Oates is playing the same character that Perry King did in the first film, only this story takes place about fifteen years later. He even makes veilled references to what happened at the end of MANDINGO, specifically the fates of Ken Norton and Susan George. In other words, PAY ATTENTION! And if you think this is exploitativve, go back and watch the uncut version of ROOTS again. Sure it's more "legit" than MANDINGO and DRUM, but it is every bit the exploitative soap opera that they are. For the real flavor and excellence of ROOTS, read the book.
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17 April 2002
Remember the days when there used to be matinees on the weekends with double and triple features that parents could drop their kids off at and have a day of peace? Well, I saw this one when I was ten years old and I went with great anticipation, since one of the early matinees that I went to was a fun double feature of THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and KING KONG ESCAPES.

Now here's the problem: when the matinee was advertised on TV, the ads were for a film called JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME; something about a bunch of kids in a raft who somehow end up in the prehistoric era battling dinosaurs. All of the kids I knew went to see it, and we were alive with excitement. The lights dimmed...and we got JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME, a boring highbrow flick for a much older age group. That's right, the distributor sent the theater the wrong movie!!! I can only imagine the plight of the poor theater manager who had to face all of the irate parents after the show....Anyway, I was one of about twenty kids who actually sat through the movie, and I really wish I hadn't. That so-called "twist" ending...Oh, brother!!!
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The Fly (1958)
17 April 2002
Seeing this on the late, lamented 4:30 Movie on New York City's WABC TV back in the mid-'70's was a real eye-opener. Here was a movie that pretty much has no action whatsoever and my ten-year-old self sat riveted to it. I went into it knowing that it had something to do with a guy who turns into fly or something, but in no way did I expect such a tragic, intelligent and downright disturbing movie! And I defy you to be able to say that the ending didn't scar you for life!
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Kuai can che (1984)
A good 3 Brothers action-comedy, but wait until you get a load of Jackie's fight with Benny Urquidez!
16 April 2002
This is a pretty good film of its type, but let's cut right to the chase: skip ahead to roughly the last 20 minutes since the rest of the movie isn't anything you haven't seen before (not that that's meant to be an insult). What you'll find is a series of kung fu battles (Yuen Biao vs Keith Vitali, Sammo Hung vs Richard Norton) that are okay, but the highlight is the four-star fight between Jackie Chan and Benny "the Jet" Urquidez. That fight is a real bone-rattler and is probably the best one-on-one fight put on film in the last twenty years.
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16 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
There are those who prefer Jackie Chan's later work (the POLICE STORY series, WHO AM I?, RUMBLE IN THE BRONX), but give me the early stuff! DRUNKEN MASTER is the perfect balance between action and humor, and the story is pure fun from start to finish.


Sort of a remake of the previous year's SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW (which was again sort-of-remade right after this one as THE FEARLESS HYENA), DRUNKEN MASTER tells the story of Freddy Wong (Wong Fei Hung in the original Chinese), the troublemaking son of a martial arts teacher, who is simply incapable of not getting into fights. At his wits' end, his father calls in his Freddy's uncle, the infamous Sam Tse, to discipline the boy. Sam Tse also happens to be a master of the "eight drunk gods" technique, which is fueled by Herculean ingestion of wine. When a drunken master gets loose, God help anyone foolish enough to fight him!!!

Freddy's training is so harsh that it could be seen as torture, so Freddy runs away because he is too lazy to learn it. Besides, he already knows his dad's style of kung fu, right? He promptly runs into a killer-for-hire who teaches the kid a humiliating lesson in the art of ass-whuppin'. He also engages Freddy in one of the all-time classic exchanges in a genre that is replete with classic exchanges:

BAD GUY- Hmmph! Who teaches you that kung fu? FREDDY (proudly)- My dad does! BAD GUY- Hmmph! Judging by your kung fu, he's useless! I wouldn't hire him to wipe my ass!!! (He then seriously kicks Freddy's sorry butt)

After that, Freddy trains hard in the eight drunk gods, and his transformation is a joy to behold. The sequence in which Jackie demonstrates seven of the eight forms is a jaw-dropping display of what a highly-trained martial artist/acrobat can do. YOU WILL BE AMAZED. Highly recommended, and whatever you do, don't miss Jackie's fight with an old lady in the middle of the street (old school kung fu fans, you know the rule: if the person is really old, DO NOT FIGHT THEM!!!), and his drunken-style fight with "the king of sticks." It's not as slick as Jackie's later films, but this one has fun and energy to burn!
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Okay zombie stuff, but what's up with that ending?
15 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
At the height of the unlamented slasher film boom of the early '80's, it was refreshing to see the occasional Italian zombie film. Let's face it: if you were a gorehound you knew that American gore movies were getting tamer and tamer by the day thanks to wimpy censors/distributors cutting the only thing that people go to see these movies for in the first place-the friggin' gore! If you wanted the hardcore stuff, the Italians frequently came to the rescue ( although that's not to say that the films themselves were any good, they were just gory as all get out). That said, THE GATES OF HELL certainly delivers the goods, but the story is utterly pointless and nonsensical.

SPOILER WARNING!!! At the end of the film, when all evil is vanquished, the heroes emerge from the underworld and run to embrace a kid who was left orphaned by all of the preceding mayhem and he runs to eagerly greet them. As they all run toward each other, suddenly the action goes slo-mo and the adults start waving frantically at the boy while screaming "No! No! Nooooooooo!!!!!" We then see a freeze frame of the kid's smiling face, the image shatters like a pane of glass and the credits roll. HUNH??? I stood up in the theater, turned to the equally bewildered audience and screamed "Does anyone here understand what the *@#$% that was supposed to mean???" The blank looks on their faces spoke volumes. To this day I don't understand that ending and will give my first-born child to the person who can explain it!
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