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The Alchemist (1983)
Entertaining horror film from the early 80's
The Alchemist is a nice gem from back in the day. Directed by Charles Band in 1981 under the pseudonym "James Amante" This was just before he founded the company Empire Pictures. If memory serves me right, Empire was established then he was planning to make the movie Trancers, which he also directed and meant to be the self video distribution company for Charlie's direct to video movies. Sort of, Let's cut out the middleman. Due to the huge success of Trancers, the Empire name became the main label for future releases. The Alchemist was not released until 1986 in USA, under the Lightning Video label, this was two years after its European release. There might have been an earlier release under the Empire banner, but I have never come a cross one. Richard Band did the score to the movie and this was made back to back with the score to The House on sorority row. A CD is available with the music for both movies.
Ghost Town (1988)
One of the better 80's horror films.
Ghost Town is a great movie that I fell fortune to have seen, because as I've heard, it was very close not to see the light of day. Ghost Town was made close to the collapse of Empire Pictures in 1988/89. At this time, Empire "an Italian/American based company" was in production with "Robot Jox" there must ambitious production jet. During the late 1980's, a sudden drop in economy forced the company into bankruptcy, leaving productions like Ghost town, Robot Jox, Catacombs and the infamous Puls Pounders stranded. The project must have been blessed with good fortune, because Ghost Town finished post-production, though no original movie score was made. Instead music from other Empire movies like, Crawlspace, Ghoulies II and From Beyond was used and the finished film was picked up by New World Pictures and released on VHS and Laserdisc. Rumour also has it, that Richard Governor walked of the set in anger toward the end of the shoot, due to difference of opinion, leaving DP Mac Ahlberg and the assistant director to finish the picture. I assume it must have been a terrible experience for him, because as far as I know, Mr. Governor never worked in the movie business again. I would like to point out, that I think he did good job and in my opinion there is no other movie quit like it.
Dead Man's Hand (2007)
Aces and Eights.
In my opinion Dead Man's Hand is mostly made for the younger audience that are just getting started in the Horror genre. I have been following Director Charles Band since his Empire and ealier Full Moon days and growing up watching movies like Trancers and Dolls which are filled with charm in my opinion, then you know of the quality he can produce. But like I started out, this movie and the once he have directed and produced since 2000 are more or less made for a younger and newer audience. I'm sure I can follow his trail of thoughts, because as a director and producer, I could imagine you really needs to keep up with what is hot and what people what to see. It is a business after all. These Movies really need to be seen in the light that Full Moon is not as big as they were back in the day due to the 2nd collapse of he's company in the late 90's these productions are made for under half of what the budget where on the pictures he made doing he's collaboration with Paramount Pictures. After reading a couple of reviews on Dead Man's Hand and a few of the movies Charlie has done lately. I think it is a shame that people keep comparing Full Moon today to what Full Moon use to be, Instead of looking at Charlies company in the light of today. A consistent felling all over is, that the films he makes today are to short. Dead Man's Hand has a 75 min running time. If you take a look, at his most loved films, like Dolls and Trancers, they not much longer than this. Dolls is a 77 min feature. Though I do agree that they are short, I still think that they work marvoulsly. I do think the idea of a haunted Casino is a really good idea and Dead Man's Hand does have some of the better special efx. compared to the movies, Full Moon has done lately. The story line is a little thin, but hey this is a horror movie right? Still it is an interesting little movie and I think Charlie managed to make it look well. About the DVD, it is nice to see that Charlie is back shooting on 35mm and the transfer is done nice and clean. The stereo sound is done well and set a good mood for jet another late night of horror. The DVD also includes a nice behind the scenes program and a trailer for the upcoming Decadent Evil II.
Grusom little slasher flick.
Well I bought the Image laserdisc edition of this movie recently. To start with disc: the video transfer is fairly good with a little noise here and there, but the colors a good and the picture quality is very nice. The Sounds is in glorious mono, very clear. Over all very nice pressing. This movie had me fooled a little, I bought assuming it was a haunted house movie. This is not the case, it is about a traveling salesman who one night on the road witness a young girl getting attacked by some madmen and he decides to stop and help her out. In the process he get beaten up and as a resolute he starts to hallucinate, thinking he sees a beautiful mansion, here the residents are two beautiful girls and a strange man. To begin with they are more than friendly to him, but the movie soon it takes on a very nasty murdering plot switch. The story is a little thin, but the cinemaphotography is interesting, so it is worth a watch. This is not my kind of movie, but if you like slasher films and you might what to have a look at Constagion.
A little inside on Dungeonmaster.
Well this movie has been a favorites of mine for years. It was one of the first Empire films to make it to my collection. I think this is one of the better movies Charlie did in the 80 era. The original title was Ragewar The challenges of Excalibrate. This film had a few problems in post production, due to what I think was lack of funds. The editing shows that it was rushed a bit, the seven challenges that Excalibrate, played by Jeffery Byron has to face in order to save his girlfriend is out of sequence a cording to the start and End credits. In results of this post production mess up some of the transitions to the different challenges seems rushed and the part "Cave Beast" directed by Peter Manoogian give me the felling that something is missing and got left on the cutting room floor. Then I got my Lightning video Laserdisc edition of Dungeonmaster, I was surprised to see that the opening dream sequence was cut from it. I own a UK. Entertainment in Video. VHS tape, I purchased about 8 years ago. Here is the relative long Dream sequence included. "As shown in the end credits." I remember thinking back then, that it was odd for Charlie to include an opening sequence in Cinema Scope. Fans would know this is unusual for him in the old Empire days. However, I must say that this opening in Cinema Scope do the film credit and give it a sort of prospective look. Everybody has a favorites part of a movie. Mine in this one is the "Heavy Metal" sequence. Directed by Mr. Band him self. Here is just such a cool performance by W.A.S.P (1980 Rock Group). All in all This is a highly entertaining film and should be viewed frequently by anybody who has a love for those old sci-fi / horror films.
A follow up on Catacombs.
I have a correction to what was written in an earlier comment. Well this Movie WAS shot under the Catacombs title, not Curse 4. Due to the fall of Empire Pictures around 1989, this film was "lost" for a few years. Charlie Band sold the rights to Tristar/Epic along with the Rights for Robot Jox to Transworld, an earlier film from veteran director Stuart Gordon. Tristar released Catacombs under the Curse 4 title.( Video Box Office) Also The Film score was done by Italian Composer Pino Donaggio. It is a fantastic score, truly haunting. The Stereo sound from Tristar's full screen Laserdisc edition is done nicely. Though there is a little video grain in the picture. The Entertainment in video UK VHS edition is in 1:85:1 and the picture and sound quality is fairly good. This is one of my favorite Empire movies and it is a well put together film from Director David Schmoeller.
A little inside on Ragdoll
This project was in development years back. I remember reading about the storyline and it was much different then the movie you see today. I know that Full Moon had some problems with Paramount Pictures about it, so the idea has been in Charlie's desk for a long time. I'm happy to see that it turned out well. I think Ted Nicolaou did a Marcellus job on it, mind you - he is an absolute directing genius. This Movie became Alchemy Entertainment's first film. later on Producer Mel Johnson Jr. changed the company name to Big City Pictures, because they had an idea about making a record company with a similar name. The soundtrack to Ragdoll is out there on CD. This is the only Movie Alchemy made under that label and by far the best one Mr. Mel Johnson Jr. Produced. also look for him in Full Moon's Hideous, he is very entertaining in that one. So grab those Popcorn's and Injoy!
One of the better Charles Band movies.
oh yes! This great piece of cinema history was original shot in 3D. Cinema photographer Mac Ahlberg did a absolutely wonderful job on it. This was the first picture he and Charles Band worked on together. The hole mood and felling of the film is very dark and sinister. Then I watched this movie for the first time about 10 years ago, It really gave me goosebumps. I own the Laserdisc edition of the film and as the viewer you get the sort of fell that you are watching it in 3D. you don't need the glasses to see it, so I would say that it is properly not in true 3D. I know it is out on two DVD editions, one In true glorious 3D, if you like these 1980 Horror films? you would what to get a bag of popcorn and check this great film out. Injoy.
A little something about Crash! 1977. from a fan.
I got this movie from a good friend of mine. I have been on the look out for it for years, this is a pretty rare title, so I was very fortune that he fund it for me in Germany, on a Frensh Secam VHS tape. This French Languages version is unfortunately edit down. The entire dream sequence in the beginning of the movie is cut, but one cool thing is, this version is in widescreen. A few years later on I got the English UK VHS version, as far as I know, this this version is uncut. With both editions the picture is a little dusty, but the sound is OK. I have been a big fan of Charlie Band for more than 10 years now and Crash! was one of the very last of he's films to make my collection complete. I have been reading reviews about this movie before I finally got my hands on it and I must say, I was not disappointed. I think this is a great film, I just love the music in it, absolutely wonderful, mind you, this is a really strange film, even for Charlie. If you are a fan of Empire/Full Moon or just like 1970's horror, this is worth a look. I remember Crash! was on the release list some years ago, but never got out on DVD or laser disc. I emailed Charlie about this two years ago and he told me that he would love to re-release it to DVD, but unfortunately he did not own the rights anymore. This film is hard to come by, but as another IMDb user wrote, you can order it from Germany. This version should be in widescreen too, with German Languages. I have not jet seen this DVD, so I can not comment on the quality. Anyway hope you find this little gem, and enjoy it as much as I.