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.

Kevin Strange’s Top 7 Full Moon Movies


To say that life could be boring in the 80s and early 90s is an understatement. Kids today have all of the movies, music, video games and comic books at their fingertips, effortlessly. Their problem is actually finding the time to pay attention to any of it in any meaningful way.

For us 80s kids, though? Without the choicest new video tapes, comics or Nintendo games, life could easily be reduced to walking around in your back yard throwing sticks around for sport. No joke.

So when Friday night hit and mom handed you a 5er and told you to go ride your bike down to the video store to rent some movies for you and your kid brother? Man, that meant something!

For me, that was oftentimes the highlight of my week. School sucked. Bullies were crawling through the halls and on the walk to and from the schoolyard. Girls paid 0 attention to me. I barely had any friends. I didn’t have cable TV at home. My nights could be dreadfully tedious without a new game or movie or comic.

So when I’d ditch my bike in the parking lot of the video store, I was usually jazzed up and ready to rent some crazy monster movies. Monsters were my life. I drew pictures of monsters in my notebooks, obsessed over all the different kinds of monsters in movies and books. Hell, I wished I WAS a monster.

Nobody and I mean NOBODY put out monster movies as cool or as frequently as Full Moon Pictures. In the late 80s/early 90s it seemed like there were multiple brand new Full Moon movies every single week!

And there were series. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of all kinds of crazy movie series. I didn’t even bother to read the backs of the VHS boxes most of the time when a new Full Moon movie hit. I’d just snatch em up and rent the shit out of them no questions asked.

My favorite part about Full Moon flicks though, was the creator/writer/director of these schlocky creature features. He was a young looking, vaguely hip sounding dude named Charles Band and he would do these after-the-movie featurettes called Video Zone after the credits of the tapes.

In these, he would show how the gore was done, how the puppets moved and show special sneak peaks at the next few Full Moon movies YEARS before DVD special features became a thing. I credit these behind the scenes videos as one of the driving forces behind my eventual entry into the B-Movie world as a writer/director. If there was never a Full Moon, there never would have been a Hack Movies. Believe that!

Full Moon was the greatest B-movie company for 80s monster-heads and these are my favorite Full Moon flicks.

7. Demonic Toys

Demonic Toys is probably little more than a Child’s Play ripoff banking on the popularity of the first Full Moon puppet movie franchise, Puppet Master. But with inspired creature designs like Jack Attack and Baby Oopsie Daisy along with some pretty graphic kills, Demonic Toys more than makes up for its seeming lack of originality.

I particularly enjoyed the otherworldly demonic angle in this little flick and was happy to see that Full Moon went on to explore these characters further in the Dollman Vs Demonic Toys crossover flick a few years later. Tim Thomerson vs Baby Oopsie? Fuck yeah!

6. Meridian: Kiss of the Beast

Meridian is a flick I first caught on late night Skinemax TV at my dad’s house. My dad had cable so when I’d stay over there some weekends as a young teenager in the early 90s, I’d turn the sound down real low and watch all of the hard R rated soft-core fuck flicks.

Usually these flicks were just excuses to get bleach-blonde, fake tittie bitches naked for as long as legally possible and still get the flick picked up by cable. Imagine my excitement and surprise as a wee monster kid when I stumbled across a titty movie with midgets and werewolves! Score!

This is just the first of many flicks on this list filmed in gorgeous eastern European castles. Charles Band was obsessed with them in the 80s and 90s and filmed a ton of movies there. So the plot of this one is pretty similar to most. American tourists visit spooky castle then insert the rest. In this case the rest is getting fucked by a werewolf. Nuf said.

5. Subspecies

Man I love this series. Subspecies and its lead baddie Radu absolutely set the bar for gothic, baroque vampire flicks that Bram Stoker’s Dracula would later go on to perfect.

Radu is just so fucking cool looking. He takes the old school Nosferatu long, pointy fingers and corpse-colored skin and combines it with the ugliness of a vampire bat, then stuffs it all into a goth/industrial outfit complete with long black hair and leather jacket.

He talks like an 87 year old cancer patient and constantly leaks blood from his mouth while he slinks around and touches shit with his crazy pointed fingers. That is, when he’s not chopping them off and turning them into little demons.

The Subspecies flicks are atmospheric, sexy and just plain awesome and the first one is, of course, the best.

4. Ginger Dead Man 2

The Gingerdead Man series is primarily remembered as cringe-inducing low budget nonsense utilizing Charles Band’s pet monster type, the puppet, as its villain. The first film is pretty much utter dreck save for the fact that batshit crazy Gary Busey plays the voice of the titular character.

What I didn’t expect was that the sequel to this altogether forgettable tax-write-off of a film would end up having the heart of indie filmmaking at its core. It’s no secret if you’ve hung out on this website for any amount of time that I myself am an indie filmmaker specializing in low-to-no budget horror/comedy fare. So when Gingerdead Man 2 turned out to be a meta-movie about a prolific low budget filmmaker who obsesses over making shitty puppet movie after shitty puppet movie, I was hooked.

There are some speeches in this film about movie making that rival Lloyd Kaufman’s speeches in his meta-movie about a meta-movie Terror Firmer. There are also some bizarre looking puppets in this flick and some pretty decent gore. The Gingerdead Man actually kind of takes a back seat to the whacked out plot about the wheelchair kid who gets flown in to watch the puppet movie be made only to turn out to be some kind of deranged terrorist.

If you make movies yourself or love movies about making low budget movies, you’ll be surprised just how cool Gingerdead Man 2 turns out to be.

3. Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys

It took until 2004 for Charles Band’s two most famous puppet franchises to cross over. And while this ain’t no Godfather Part 2, I found Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys to be one of the most endearing flicks in the entire Full Moon catalog thanks in part to an inspired performance by the one and only Feldmeister himself, Corey Feldman.

The plot is ridiculous and over-complicated for a movie that just needs to get evil toys to fight evil puppets as quickly as possible, but once the shit actually goes down, and Feldman’s acting along the way makes this epic crossover extremely satisfying.

Bonus point for blowing up the puppets early on and then tricking them out with cyborg body parts with which to fight the evil toy monsters. That was a nice touch. While Puppet Master VS Demonic Toys isn’t the best entry in either franchise, it’s a great send-up for life-long fans who have followed these characters since we were kids. You can definitely do worse.

2. Trancers

When you think of Full Moon Pictures, well, you think of killer puppets. But the SECOND thing you think of when you think of Full Moon Pictures is Jack Deth himself, Tim Thomerson. Tim Thomerson was the square jawed, swaggering, scene-chewing, cartoonish leading man long before Bruce Campbell strapped on the chainsaw and boom stick.

Now, Spergs will point out that the first Trancers isn’t TECHNICALLY a Full Moon movie since Charles Band was still producing movies under his dad’s banner Empire Pictures back in 1984 when the first Trancers flick was produced. But Thomerson went on to star as Jack Deth in 4 Trancers sequels (and one long unreleased Trancers short film) as well as making appearances as the titular character in the Dollman movies as well as other Full Moon movies.

Trancers is definitely a Full Moon flick, even if the logo isn’t technically on the box. Just listen to the synopsis from Wikipedia:

“Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is a police trooper in the year 2247 who has been hunting down Martin Whistler, a criminal mastermind who uses psychic powers to turn people into mindless “trancers” and carry out his orders. Deth can identify a tranced individual by scanning them with a special bracelet. All trancers appear as normal humans at first, but once triggered, they become savage killers with twisted features.”

If that ain’t Full Moon, I don’t know what is.

1.Puppet Master 3

Puppet Master 3 isn’t just awesome because it was the introduction of, Six Shooter the six armed puppet, one of the coolest of all of Andre Toulon’s puppets, it’s awesome because it’s genuinely a great movie.

Richard Lynch plays evil Nazi Major Kraus and is joined by a rock solid cast in what is unanimously regarded as the best movie in the puppet master series and arguably the best movie in the entire Full Moon Pictures catalog.

Puppet Master 3 is actually a prequel to parts 1 and 2 and not only introduces Six Shooter but also tells the origin story of Blade, revealing that the puppet was modeled after and contains the soul of Lynch’s Major Kraus.

If you’re in the mood for a Nazi flick with great acting and killer puppet madness, look no further than Puppet Master 3, the crème de la crème of Charles Band’s enormous B-Movie universe.

Kevin Strange’s Top 8 Obscure Monster Movies


I don’t know about you dudes, but when I was a kid, there was nothing cooler than finding a brand new monster flick at the video store. There was Godzilla and King Kong, horror monsters like zombies, demons, giant insects, werewolves, vampires, mummies, you name it. I loved them all. Sit me in front of the TV and all my worries went away as soon as those monsters hit the screen!

I was a fucking monster kid and still am. I used to wish I WAS a monster. To this day I still make movies full of monsters and write novels about monsters. And still to this day I LOVE to find new and cool monster movies that I never saw when I was a kid.

This list is my attempt to introduce you lot to some monsters you may not necessarily be familiar with. Of course since I’m an 80s kid, my list is going to be biased toward rad 80s flicks. Here are my top 8 obscure monster movies. Hope you like em!

8. Dead Heat

This whopper of a flick stars Joe Piscopo and Treat Williams and is so weird and wacky it flies right under most people’s radars. I can’t in good faith call it a good movie, but it IS an obscure movie so I can include it on my list and still sleep well tonight.

In essence, this is a zombie cop buddy movie but it takes such bizarre twists and turns and basically turns all of the main characters into monsters that I just HAD to include it on my list. Furthermore, I like this movie so much I dedicated a whole podcast to it.

Melty love interests, killer cold-cuts, violently murdered partners. This flick brings the monster gore!

7. Brain Damage

So if you’re worth your salt as a monster kid, you’ve probably seen the BASKET CASE series of films. They were displayed prominently at video stores in the 80s. Each subsequent sequel got weirder and weirder until there were musical numbers and shit. Totally wacky stuff.

But the BASKET CASE dude also made this weird little gem (and FRANKENHOOKER which will inevitably end up on another of my movie lists in the future) that most people haven’t seen. It’s called BRAIN DAMAGE which often gets confused with BRAINDEAD, the original title of the Peter Jackson zombie flick DEAD ALIVE.

This low budget nonsense is about a parasitic alien thing named Aylmer who lives inside a dude’s body and gets the dude hooked on his blue brain-piss or something.

It’s very reminiscent of the BASKET CASE storyline but with an even weirder monster and even more violent kills. Definitely a must watch if you’re into the body horror sub genre and love getting grossed out by bodily fluids.

6. Rawhead Rex

Just look at that goofy muppet face! How could yo not love RAWHEAD REX? Written by Clive Barker himself, this is probably his most obscure writing credit based on one of his most popular books.

RAWHEAD REX appeared in Barker’s Books of Blood short story collection series. The movie basically ends up being nothing like the story and has some of the worst practical effects for a monster shown so prominently and made to be taken so seriously.

Add in some great gore, some awkward monster-stalking and some bizarre priest-pissing scenes and you’ve got yourself one helluva monster flick most people have never even heard of!

5. Killer Tongue

This is another of my personal favorite flicks. KILLER TONGUE takes the hot chick zombie from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 and pits her against Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund as a sadistic prison warden bent on hunting down said hot chick’s boyfriend at all costs.

KILLER TONGUE features insane cannibalism, sexy leather body suits, a talking tongue monster, a gaggle of poodle-turned-transvestite sidekicks and you have one of the weirdest most batshit crazy monster movies you’re ever likely to come across.  I dedicated a podcast to this one, too.

4. Society

SOCIETY is a flick that I’ve already included in another one of my movie lists but we’re gonna go ahead and cover it again here because it’s both one of the coolest melt movies ever AND one of the most obscure monster movies you’ve probably never heard of.

The flick features literal “butt heads” a chick who turns her entire body around to soap up her own ass in the shower and a ton of other absolutely bonkers monsters and ends in a gigantic orgy where all of the monsters melt into a gigantic orgy of connected flesh.

It’s so odd that most people have never even bothered to watch it. But if you like the off-the-wall shit, you should totally check it out!

3. Hardware

Alright so this flick only has one monster in it and that monster is actually a killer robot but let’s take a damn second, settle down and talk about just how cool HARDWARE is.

Richard Stanley is an auteur renegade filmmaker who shamefully never got a real shot at making a gigantic visionary film. Well, he actually did. He was set to make that awful 90s ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU disaster but got fired part of the way through.

He’s never worked on another significant film which is a crying shame. BUT he did make HARDWARE and it is an absolute visual treat. It is the film equivalent of the 90s industrial metal music genre. In fact, it uses music from MINISTRY as part of its soundtrack.

The gore is brief but brutal and the killer robot’s design is magnificent. You’ve probably never seen HARDWARE but you owe it to yourself as a monster movie fan to rectify that immediately!

2. The Keep

THE KEEP for sure has one of the coolest soundtracks of any monster flick and also one of the coolest monsters that you’ve probably never even heard of. THE KEEP is Michael Mann’s red-headed step child. It’s never been released on Blu Ray or even DVD because he’s embarrassed that he made a low budget horror flick early in his career.

Well fuck him, buddy. This movie is fucking badass! It features Nazis getting the fuck killed out of them and one of the absolute coolest monsters you will ever see on film, guaranteed.

Nazis try to loot a citadel only to unleash a demonic force that proceeds to wipe them out to one of the best Tangerine Dream synth soundtracks ever! This demon spends the first half of the movie as some sort of anthropomorphic smoke with glowing red eyes. Seriously you have to see it to understand just how fucking cool it looks.

Find THE KEEP if you can. It’s worth every penny.

 

1. Return of the Living Dead 3

Known for its super sexy zombie girl Julie, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 has been surprisingly hard to find for years. It was recently released as a limited edition blu ray, like a lot of the movies on this list, but also like a lot of those blu rays is extremely over priced and will probably be out of print soon.

What’s often overlooked about this flick, though, is just how amazing the zombie monsters are. From the gang leader having his spine stretched up into some kind of horrific snake-like creature, to the homeless guy who gets screwed into a metal exoskeleton and the Trioxin barrel zombie who rips half its own face off crawling out of the barrel, this flick is LOADED with great gore and even cooler zombie monsters.

If you think zombies ended with Romero or the first ROTLD, you’re playing yourself. I put ROTLD 3 above almost any other zombie flick in terms of monster factor. This one is the business!