The Wizard of Oz is one of the best and all-time classic movies. It had great visuals, memorable characters, decent special effects for the time period and a timeless story that transcends time and will still be told generations from now. It also gave us, in a way, the first memorable twist ending that has been parodied and quoted. In some eyes, it’s one of the best films of all time.
Why mention Wizard of Oz? Well, I thought I would mention a good movie before I delve into the unpleasant and difficult movie to view without any kind of riffing of Robot Monster. This movie was a cheesy B-movie drive in film made in the fifties that tried making a monster sci-fi movie that talked about alien invasion and the possibility of human extinction. With so much going against this movie, is this film enjoyable at all? Well, that’s tough to tell. When MST3K uses the movie in their show, that usually says that your movie is so bad that you have to riff it just to get through it all. However, I viewed it without the riffing and just sat through the entire movie on one sitting. So, we’ll review this film and discuss the story, the characters and the special effects. Let’s sit back and make sure we are immunized as we review Robot Monster.
The main story of this movie is a little convoluted. We meet Johnny, an adventurous young boy, who is playing in the field acting like an alien or astronaut walking the planes of an unknown planet. He comes across some archaeologists and Johnny loves science. His mother comes by and collects him to continue their picnic. Johnny falls asleep and now our “wizard of oz” story begins. SPOILERS: The whole movie is basically a dream and it doesn’t even have to be. So, during this dream sequence, Johnny made the archaeologists part of his family with his oldest sister being married to the younger one and the older one being the father. They seem to be the last of the human species because alien invaders called Ro-Man have wiped everyone out. The last humans aren’t wiped out because the father developed a serum that makes them immune to the Ro-Man’s death beams. That’s basically the plot of the movie. It’s Ro-Man trying to find the last of the humans and the humans and the humans trying to either reason with the Ro-Man or trying to find a way to destroy him. It’s a simple story that really doesn’t have much going on. It’s like watching some people play chess and there hasn’t even been a check once throughout the match. It is a tough watch because the dialogue is silly and they throw in random scenes with a marriage scene, off-screen love making, and a lot of walking scenes through a quarry.
The characters are so stock and uninteresting that it was really hard to be invested in anything they say or do to move the story forward. The Ro-Man, has a bad ADR voice and looks ridiculous. I know this is a B-movie drive in film but, come on. You have a guy in a gorilla suit and a space helmet covering their face on their head and that’s your master alien race. What kind of lazy design were they thinking? I know some designs from the 50s were cheesy and silly but this one makes no sense and it’s just laughable the whole time. But, the rest of the characters are just boring and plain. Johnny is annoying and brings only brings horrible Opie level annoyances. The Father figure talks science babel that doesn’t really explain how he developed his serum and whatnot. The sister and her husband are the pretty people that have the chemistry and the naivety of youth and love, which ultimately gets them killed by the Ro-Man. The mother is background fodder and I forget she’s even there half the time. If the characters were maybe more interesting, the movie could maybe have some kind of charm and even maybe have some kind of cult reaction to it.
The special effects are minimum. They use a bubble machine when we are in the lair of the Ro-Man I guess showing science stuff. There’s a video mirror that is used for communication, which is probably something out of a Buck Rodgers comic. The rest of the effects involve alternating color changes when it comes with the death rays. For a movie that is supposed to have robots and monsters, its a very dialogue heavy movie with very little action.
Overall, this movie is tough to watch. You need people or some MST3K riffing in order to make this movie watchable. I had to pause a couple of times just because it was boring. I was hoping there might be some hidden gem or cult status to this. There was none. At the end of the movie, Johnny wakes up and is reunited with his family as the archaeologists make sure he goes home safely. I don’t understand why they needed to do a Wizard of Oz premise but it just doesn’t work. You could have just opened with the movie with just the Ro-Man having conquering the Earth and have some survivors trying to continue to live and maybe figure out how to escape the clutches of the Ro-Man. Either or, the movie lacks so much of everything needed to make the movie enjoyable and watchable. I would not recommend this movie to anyone unless you want to do a good riffing (if you do, be prepared to do it constantly).
This movie is available on Amazon Prime.
Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!