Kevin Strange’s Bad Movie Recommendation: Demon Wind (1990)


Some movie covers just stick with you your whole life. For me, Demon Wind is one of the most memorable VHS covers from my childhood.

It was a big-box cover that had a hologram on the front–one of the only VHS covers from the 80s/early 90s video store era to have that gimmick. If you looked at the cover from one angle, it was just an ominous closed window, from the opposite angle, a hideous demon with sharp-clawed fingers pointed straight out at you exploded through the window. YES! Motherfucking Demon Wind!

Yet for some reason, I never rented it. As a kid, I was confused about the difference between little box and big box VHS movies when, after I tried to rent a copy of a big box version of Neon Maniacs in the late 80s, the video store clerk told me (probably in error) that the big boxes were Betamax tapes and the little boxes were VHS tapes. My house only had a VCR, so from that moment on, the big box tapes were off limits to me even though by the early 90s there were rarely Betamax tapes still stocked in mom and pop video shops.

As a consequence, I only watched this truly awful piece of crap this week, in 2018, as a 37 year old man. And maybe I’m better for it.

As any reader of this movie blog knows, I myself am not only a connoisseur of very bad movies, but made a fair amount of them myself. I say maybe I’m better off having not seen Demon Wind until now because as a seasoned veteran of schlock filmmaking and having seen hundreds if not thousands of shitty movies at this point, I can really appreciate the quirkiness of Demon Wind far more than I would have as a child of 9 or 10 (a child who already liked shitty movies, but still quite in the larval stages of shit-film fandom.)

The absolute ridiculous opening stinger featuring main character Cory’s grandparents besieged by demonic voices, the demonic possession of his grandfather complete with puss spewed from mouth that would make any fan of the Troma meltdown proud, and the utter randomness of Cory’s grandmother blowing the whole fucking house up by dropping a snow-globe being the type of scene that could never be fully appreciated by a monster-loving sprout of a child, no matter how enthusiastic.

As a seasons screenwriter and novelist, I can much more fully appreciate the jaw-dropping lunacy of not just gathering Corey’s group of friends together to visit his grandparents’s cabin so he could “work some things out” after having horrific dreams about his dead father, not just the batshit decision to then have Corey’s friend’s girlfriend’s (keep up) ex-boyfriend show up THROWING MAGIC TRICKS OUT OF A CAR but then, roughly an hour into the film, bring in ANOTHER couple only to kill them less than 5 minutes later.

A little Kevin Strange just would not have produced the same belly laughs over the first actual kill in the film coming in at the forty minute mark and said death being a little demon girl turning one of Corey’s OTHER friend’s girlfriends into a doll with bleeding eyes that then catches on fire and NO ONE CARES!

Throw in a random pair of tits on a demon just to have random tits on a demon and what you’ve got is a 1990 cash in on the Evil Dead franchise demonic-cabin-in-the-woods trope that fails in every possible aspect of delivery from characterization, plot, acting, gore, monster FX and any other storytelling device of filmmaking you can think of.

My favorite part of this movie that would have been better off never made is the climax that would make any Kevin Strange fan proud. Ya’ll know I love to get nuts in my third acts. Well Demon Wind does not disappoint, as the random generic gas station “don’t go out there or you’ll be sorry!” character actually turns out to be the big bad demon dude who sucks all the souls of the other demons inside his body to become some kind of super-shredder-esque uberdemon who then decides that his single big-body should devour Cory and his girlfriend instead of just letting the lesser demons who WERE ABOUT TO EAT THEM ANYWAY do the job.

As if super-demon wasn’t enough, Corey taps into the family tradition of spellcasting by… giving himself a giant penis head? I don’t know what the fuck he looks like. A conehead, an extra from Alien Nation? How does morphing himself into a dickhead help him defeat the bad guy? Well, naturally, it fucking doesn’t! It’s Corey’s girlfriend Elaine who suddenly levels up in her random witchdom and chants the words of the final spell that banishes gas-station-warning-dude-cum-demon-bad-ass back to hell or wherever the fuck demons are from in this terrible fucking movie!

How to rate something so awful, gang? My criteria for bad movies is always that I’ll give them a chance as long as they’re not boring and Demon Wind is far from fucking boring. I can’t give it one Strangehead because there’s seriously some new weird fucking random nonsensical thing happening in every single scene. I can’t give it five Strangeheads because it’s just so fucking stupid. So I’m going to split the difference and give this whopper a solid 3 out of 5 Strangeheads for being too stupid to like but too entertaining to hate. Watch at your own risk!

 

Weird Movie Recommendation: Residue (2017)


Welcome back, gang, to my weird movie recommendation series! I love doing these and they tend to be among my most viewed articles on the entire site. I’m stoked to share my weird finds with you guys because I know you love screwed up obscure flicks as much as I do.

So Residue. I saw this weird ass flick floating around on Netflix and it caught my eye because the description tells of a cursed book which damns all who read it. Also the thumbnail pic had a bitchin’ looking monster. A prosthetic monster, mind you. Not CGI.

My love of demonic occult books and practical monster effects had me clicking play faster than Charles Band can make a Puppet Master sequel! I planned to give it the ole 10 minute try before sending it off into bullshit boring waste of time obscurity when the thing just blasted right off with the kind of old-school Stewart Gordon Lovecraftian flavor that I thought had been forgotten in the early 1990s.

Right away we meet a crazy scientist dissecting some little practical effect monster thingy when some weirdo busts through the door demanding answers and then gets eaten by a tentacle monster! Holy shit! I’m hooked! Tell me more! Go on!

What follows is a blustering hour and a half of creepy, paranoid delusional whackiness that is equal parts crime noir, Lovecraftian nightmare and time travel paradox all rolled into a compact, low budget flick with more heart and gore-boners than it has any right to possess.

Throw in cameos by cult character actors Matt Frewer AKA Trashcan man AKA Max Fucking Headroom and William B. Davis, he of the Cigarette Smoking Man X-files fame and the breathtakingly beautiful young actress Taylor Hickson to anchor leading man James Claton’s hard boiled P.I. character Luke Harding and you’ve actually got yourself a helluva cast for an obscure little horror flick.

In all honesty it’s hard to follow what the hell is going on with this flick for about the first 30 minutes. It takes a while to fall into its delusional groove. But if you give it time, the movie pays off every one of its seemingly nonsensical story-lines, all replete with horrific violence, monsters and plenty of gooey, drippy gore!

Did I mention the practical effects? Yeah, well, I can’t stress enough how important practical gore and monsters are in modern horror. Prosthetic appliances have weight, substance and can be lit properly, allowing a flick to not only stand the test of time, but often times to live in ambiguity as to its release date. RESIDUE could have been shot in 1994 as easily as 2017 because of the filmmakers’ decision to shoot practical.

In the end, RESIDUE is not only a great love-letter to monster movies of a bygone era, it also stands firmly on its own two gore-soaked feet as a Lovecraftian monster movie with great writing, great acting, and great effects. All parts of modern horror film making that are often forgotten in the era of micro-budget, straight-to-streaming video dreck that often clogs up our “recommended” lists on our favorite streaming services.

I give RESIDUE a solid 5 out of 5 occult text Strangeheads for scoring every point that matters on the low budget horror movie scale. I cannot recommend this movie enough to fans of the Gordon/Yuzna Lovecraftain film era. You can do much much worse than adding this little weirdo gem to your to-watch list on Netflix. Tell em Strange sent ya!

Kevin Strange’s Bright Movie Review


I decided to give Bright  a watch. Not because I give a fuck about a Will Smith Netflix Shadowrun ripoff, but because I love David Ayer movies.

This is the dude who Wrote Training Day but became most famous for directing Suicide Squad. I don’t love his movies because he makes great movies, I love his movies because he makes a lot of bad ones.

My favorites are Keanu Reeves in Street Kings, Christian Bale in Harsh Times and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sabotage. These are all gritty cop movies with entirely too much macho bro talk, extreme violence and corny plot lines. So all of the bad reviews going around about Bright only make me more likely to enjoy it. All of the complaining seemed to be exactly what I like about his flicks.

To be honest, the trailer didn’t do much for me. The Will Smith action/joke routine has gotten old several decades after he endeared us as the wise cracking fighter pilot and alien puncher in Independence Day and solidified his place as an action hero with the Bad Boys movies.

The aesthetic of the trailer reminded me far more of Underworld than Alien Nation which it’s endlessly been compared to. There’s something about original properties in the age of social media. Audiences just can’t handle the idea of a stand-alone film which does not reference their nostalgia either by being a direct sequel to an 80s movie/show/comic or by setting its narrative in that era.

The same thing happened to Chappie a few years ago. The movie was senselessly attacked by boobs on social media as a “robocop/short circuit” ripoff. My take on this phenomenon is that the people accusing these movies of being too much like some random thing from the 80s/early 90s haven’t actually watched those movies from the 80s/90s or if they have, it’s been decades since they viewed the material and are just desperate to anchor this new property onto something they remember.

So now that I’ve done my own anchoring by comparing the look of the film to Underworld and the plot to Shadowrun, let’s just throw that right out. The movie is nothing like Underworld or Shadowrun. In fact, it is an unabashed David Ayer movie. The batshit crazy high-concept script by Max Landis only enhances Ayer’s film making style and I suspect that Ayer re-wrote the dialogue as he’s done many times in the past to fit his own preferences for how city cops talk to one another.

I was happy to see beats so similar to the Ayer films I mentioned up above. For being such a high-concept film about fantasy monsters who have evolved side-by-side with humans for two thousand years, Bright ends up being a gritty inner city cop flick about reluctant partners just trying to survive the night after they stumble upon a magic wand, making them target number 1 for everyone from the corrupt cops to gang-banger humans, an Ork clan and of course those crazy ninja-like Elves.

For fans of Ayer, watching him work in this huge world of racial tension between fantasy creatures as well as a whole magic mythology while sacrificing none of his street-talk dialogue and frenetic action violence is just a delight. This kind of movie is so unique not in its high-concept attempt to blend fantasy with reality, but by giving it an R rating and allowing such amazing lines as “We gonna get killed, let’s get titty-bar-shoot-out killed!”

This type of R rated banter allows the world to seem fully lived in even if it is never fully realized. We hear talk of epic Ork battles, dark lords and magic wands that grant its users limitless power. But what we get is one night with a pair of cops who don’t like each other but have no one else to rely on but each other.

By the end of the film, these two characters are riffing off one another in hilarious fashion that just begs to be sequelized so we can see more adventures between Jacoby and Ward.

I give Bright 5 Strangeheads out of 5 not because it’s a perfect movie but because it’s a bold, uncompromising movie with an original premise not connected to nostalgia, totally willing to forge its own path ahead in these dark cinematic times.