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Sometimes the paranormal is in the mind, sometimes it is real…

A week today… Autumn release for supernatural horror thriller mystery Skeletons in their Closets.

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Three friends find themselves in a life or death situation when they meet two men trying to escape a vicious cannibal tribe in the Amazonian jungle.

Cannibal Ferox opens strongly with a great 70s sounding score by Roberto Donati and Fiamma Maglione (credited under their joint alias Budy Maglione) as a drug addict makes his way to Mike Logan’s apartment to score, sadly the build up is wasted when the character is killed off pretty quickly by a mobster.

Like Lucio Fulci’s efforts this Italian cannibal exploitation horror film written and directed by Umberto Lenzi is bookended with scenes in New York and has a few littered throughout to overtly explain why cocaine dealer Mike has fled to the jungle. It’s also a flimsy excuse for actress Fiamma Maglione to appear as the travel guide apartment owner.

Meanwhile in the jungle, Lorraine De Selle Gloria Davis goes about to disprove cannibals exist for her dissertation. When they come across Mike and his friend, who explain that cannibals do exist what follows is showcase for Gianetto de Rossi’s gory special-effects.

Lucky for me I viewed the edited version with the depictions of animal abuse mostly off screen. Still, it’s a pity they were filmed at all, as while it doesn’t reach the fun of Zombie or Zombie Holocaust, the animal scenes are an unwelcome distraction. The real cruelty taints the film as it would have been strong enough with its on screen violence and cannibal antics.

Expect the nudity, bad lines and sexism short comings synonymous with Italian exploitation films of the day. It’s not all bad acting, both Danilo Mattei (as Bryan Redford) as Rudy and Zora Kerova (as Zora Kerowa) as Pat Johnson are solid enough. The on location Amazon Rainforest and New York scenery is impressive.

Sadly, the aforementioned issue, ruins the experience and prevents it being a guilty pleasure. Watch if only for curiosity.

In 2020, Bill Preston and Ted Logan go through time and space to ensure they deliver their prophesied song to unite humanity or the world will collapse.

Released in the midst of a pandemic, director Dean Parisot’s Bill and Ted outing is coincidentally more sweet, meaningful and ironic than it actually should be. With its short running time Face the Music doesn’t out stay it’s welcome as we follow the two would-be rockers from San Dimas.

To its most excellent credit it remains firmly in it own logic. Those expecting Back to the Future 2 time travelling shenanigans overlapping the previous film will be disappointed. That said, Bill and Ted do get to meet themselves multiple times and it’s worth watching if only to see Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves on screen again. Samara Weaving is memorable and William Sadler who returns as Death the grim-reaper is on his usual fine form. Some, series actors welcoming return in key roles and even the late George Carlin appears in hologram spirit, Kristen Schaal of Bob’s Burger and Gravity Falls does her best to fill the gap. Heck, even Dave Grohl even cameos.

It’s not too much of a Bogus Journey, with a handful of belly laughs, Parisot along with the cast and some great special effects recaptures the goofy and cringe charm of the original. A recommend excellent adventure.

Androids Mother and Father flee Earth to settle on the planet Kepler-22b. However, when their mission doesn’t go as planned, Mother shows that she is not the same as Father when confronted with threats – both human and unhuman.

Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves is pretty mesmerising. Expands on the Artificial Intelligence themes of Blade Runner and Alien. It’s edgy with high production values from the outset. Although the music, topography and holographic technology aesthetics mirror those in Prometheus and Alien Covenant, Raise by Wolves has it own identity. Scott’s touch and DNA is all over the screen elevating it to another level.

Actor Amanda Collin’s Mother is one of the creepiest and most dangerous memorable Art Deco looking AI’s to grace the screen. But Abubakar Salim steals many scenes as likeable Father. Travis Fimmel is a welcomed addition and there is more to his character Marcus as the episodes proceeded.

The visuals are outstanding for a television show, following in the footsteps of the likes of Game of Thrones and Westworld. Yes there’s evolving alien creatures and dangers on Kepler but the triangle of conflicts, namely AI, atheists and faith deliver plenty of drama. There’s story twists within the welcomed metronome pace and there’s plenty of nods to other science fictions littered throughout, even a (possibly unintentional) homage of sorts to Class of 1999 in the 2nd episode with the medic robot and more.

The series is scary, emotional and intriguing, the apocalyptic flashback imagery echo The Terminator. Like many TV shows that have explored AI and religion, Caprica; Westworld, Battlestar Glacticia and Almost Human to name a few Scott’s offering has its own memorable legs. Highly recommended.

Set years after the events of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, a teenage girl unwittingly releases Jason from the bottom of Crystal Lake, allowing him to go on another killing spree.

At first glance it’s feels it borrows from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and The Dream Master is a (1988) but it echoes the likes of Carrie and Firestarter with it’s left of field telekinesis, psychokinesis power’s element.

It works as a direct continuation of part six, if you buy Lar Park Lincoln’s as Tina Shephard mind powers the film works. The acting is not shoddy, the stunts and special effects (although they unmask Jason) hold up well enough by 80s standards. Kane Hodder as Jason steals the show, even if some of the face makeup doesn’t do his performance justice.

There’s zombie psycho gore galore, horrific graphic mutilations and a few obligatory nude-and-sex scenes but if you don’t buy the cash-in brain power shenanigans you’re not going to have a good time.

Overall, if you can accept a mad man coming back from the dead then surely you can swallow Tina’s gifts, if that’s the case it’s not a bad ride.

Johnny Lawrence finds himself adrift with a broken marriage and a teen son who can’t stand him decides to reopen the Cobra Kai studio to turn his life around.

Cobra Kai is a nostalgic success in terms of interestingly intertwining call backs and twisting character beats of the original film series including The Karate Kid, part II and The Karate Kid part III. If anything Cobra Kai surpasses its source material (although an essential platform for the series to work).

The fight scenes are well choreographed but to be frank Cobra Kai works best when it’s dealing with the adult story lines rather than the teenage angst and conflicts.

Non PC Johnny starts out as almost technophobe and this makes for some memorable lines including, Oh, and put one of those hash browns at the end. You know, like, “Hash brown. Team Cobra Kai,” or something. And then send it to the Internet.” His character arc is interesting, as he wakes up to the 21 century while reducing the alcohol, showing the good and bad of then and now. Actor William Zabka is outstanding here (possibly, hopefully, there’s an 80’s Equalizer TV show in the works, where Zabka’s Scott returns as the son of McCall) he gives a solid performance.

It’s also great to see Ralph Macchio back in the role of Daniel LaRusso once again along with surprise original cast appearances. It also has some fantastic callbacks to the late Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi. What is great is that Cobra Kai is refreshing, it doesn’t just rely on nostalgia, the writers don’t just bring characters back in a bland predicable way, clearly some thought has gone in it and the character flaws and twists are what makes this series stand out.

It does cater towards its intended younger audience and to its credit has plenty to say about bullying, morals, loyalty and first love. That said, there’s enough to keep fans who saw the Karate Kid films the first time around hooked with plenty of call backs to the 80s, capturing the feeling of what it means to get old, looking back on life choices when you’re middle aged.

With some impressive production values, solid writing and cast, Cobra Kai, to paraphrase an old theme song, ‘It’s the best! Around! Nothing’s gonna ever keep it down.’ A must see.

A cosmonaut with an alien parasite inside of him (which periodically leaves his body) is contained in a research facility. A young doctor is recruited by the shady military to assess the man but uncovers a sinister truth.

Although writers Oleg Malovichko, Andrei Zolotarev ideas are derivative, borrowing from countless others. The creature is reminiscent of Prometheus’ (2012) Hammerpede design. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop Sputnik being an effective claustrophobic alien horror.

Thanks to director Egor Abramenko’s gripping set pieces, gross-out gore and overall production values Sputnik its own legs. The serious dark and ominous tone elevates Sputnik, delivering a satisfying, gripping experience.

Notable are lead actors Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor Bondarchuk and Pyotr Fyodorov.
Oksana subtle performance is impressive, echoing the leads in The Thing (2011) and Underwater (2020). Bondarchuk commands his scenes with great screen presence.

The Soviet-era setting and character study performances coupled with a closing twist puts Abramenko’s offering up there with some of the best of the genre.

Here’s the trailer to the web series Alien Covenant II: Gods and Monsters. It is the prequel to Alien and continuation of Prometheus and Alien Covenant. Based on my unmade original story and pitch.

With the aid of his companions, a man seeks to defeat his evil brother who murdered their father.

On its release Hawk the Slayer was every kids dream, the VHS complemented your He-Man collection. However, on revisiting it seems to have paved the way for slightly better films in the genre namely Krull.

Hawk features to of my two of my favourite actors, the late legend Jack Palance and Lucio Fulic collaborator Catriona MacColl in a pivotal bit part as Eliane. To Marcel’s credit actors synonymous with British film pop up Bernard Bresslaw, Annette Crosbie, Patrica Quinn Patrick Magee and the great Roy Kinnear to name a few. The casting is impressive even if the actors are somewhat under-utilised. William Morgan Sheppard as Ranulf is notable and upstages much of the acting.

In the vain of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars, the team is made up of magic sword welder Hawk (John Terry), Peter O’Farrell’s tall dwarf, Bresslaw’s short giant and a hyperactive elf. They set off to confront hammy Voltan, Hawks older brother played by Palance, who is awkwardly partially hidden by a helmet.

Debatably the main issue Terry Marcel’s offering is the staging, it’s clunky. That said you could argue it’s more timely than The Sword and the Sourcer and certainly lengthy The Beastmaster. Musican Harry Robertson does an outlandish Jeff Wayne/John Barry. The effects are not too shoddy for the budget, the locations make up for what some of the sets lack.

It bests the endless recent DTV CGI low budget films of it’s genre. It’s sword sorcery fantasy comfort food and just the ingredients to make it a cult favourite, my 8 year old self would still enjoy. In retrospect though the poster art was better than the film. Watch for Palance and MacColl if nothing else.

Two post-collegiate friends in Italy watch a traveling sideshow and get drawn into mystery of cursed supernatural horrors.

The story by Charles Band and screenplay by
Dennis Paoli feature drugging and raping women in the name of a dreamy take on Beauty and the Beast. On revisiting since it’s release it is at times a little uncomfortable viewing unless gratuitous sex scenes are your thing.

It opens up like The Church, with an interesting titbit about crypts and oil paintings all in Italian dialogue, there’s impressive locations, sets, music (by Pino Donaggio) and some special effects etc but it’s not long before it becomes an erotic, Gothic mystery that’s gives off a Meatloaf music video vibe. Thankfully there are a few twists to the tale which gives it some much needed weight.

Actors Sherilyn Fenn and Charlie Spradling are solid enough. Hilary Mason as Martha is her fantastic creepy self. Vernon Dobtcheff is first rate as the priest. Malcolm Jamieson does his best with the duel twin role but looks uncomfortable at times even when emulating the best and worst of Hammer Horrors.

Meridian has a hazy, dream-like quality which offers mood and atmosphere, to its credit it hasn’t a direct to video visual look, Band delivers a filmatic quality of Full Moon’s Paramount days.

Overall, some themes are dated even more so in these conscientious times and rob Meridian of being Bands Howling. Watch for curiosity if nothing else.