I seem to have watched an amazing amount of movies this month (47), but managed to only get one up on the blog. This Listo is me trying to make up for all that. This month's obsession went from being blown away by how awesome Shusuke Kaneko's GAMERA trilogy still is to my rediscovery of ULTRAMAN and KAMEN RIDER.
RONAL THE BARBARIAN (2010): He rules!! Thanks to Dr. AC's BIFFFtastic Adventure, I've rustled up some movies that I would have otherwise over looked, and this is one of my favorites. This Dutch-produced computer animated send-up of decades of Dungeons & Dragons inspired media is pretty damn silly, but it sure is a lot of fun. An ancient barbarian legend tells of the mighty warrior Crane (pronounced "Khran") who took down a mighty demon who had enslaved the world. In the aftermath of the fray, he realized he was mortally wounded and bled for seven days before dying. Those who were in the area drank his blood and became mighty warriors with massive bulges in all the right places. These people became the mighty barbarian tribe, commited to questing, drinking, more questing, fighting, questing again and lavishing their muscles with oil. After the village is razed to the ground by an army of dark forces, the last remaining barbarian, the weak and spindly Ronal, must go on a quest ("rule number one: It's not a quest!") to find a sword to save his clan. To do this he forms a party with a Shield Maiden, who has kicked every guys ass she has ever met, an Elf, who is relentlessly pretentious and of unknown "orientation" and a stoner Bard dude.
While the atmosphere is thick with gritty old-school noir, TV director Chris Thomson gives it a thin verneer of mild '80s trappings, such as neon titles, retro autos and a moody synth-sax score. While it may seem that these two styles might clash, they somehow mesh into something more than the sum of their parts. Plus the writers manage to emulate the dry sense of humor found in Hammet and Chandler's works; when Hardy meets up with his high-brow client he asks "who recommended me?" to which he gets the reply, "the phone book," to which he replies "oh". As if that weren't enough, the cast is a virtual directory of Aussie film and TV veterans including the ubiquitous Ray Barrett as a sleazy crime boss whose mistress is an illiterate teenage junkie. Still unreleased in the US and never released on DVD, even in Australia, this is something of an overlooked gem that really should be getting a nice widescreen treatment.
Ninja Dixon. The Nord's have never been much for horror films, but this little gem is quite the exception. Stop me if you've heard this one... A group of friends heads up to a remote cabin in the woods to look for a friend of theirs who hasn't been heard of in several days. Once there, they realize that it is a cabin with a gruesome legend about a one-legged ghost who possesses those who enter his home and then sends them down to the water where they drown themselves. This is in 1958! Could this be the original "cabin in the woods" film? I'm not sure about that, but it's the earliest one I am aware of. Filmed in stark black and white, with wide, scope lenses, director Kåre Bergstrøm makes the most of his meager budget (there are literally only four shooting locations) deviling some genuinely creepy atmosphere in spite of the almost stage-play approach. In addition to the plot elements of supernatural possession in a cabin in the woods, we also get some POV camera work travelling through the foliage. It's all awfully reminiscent of... well, you know. The interesting thing about it is that since the Scandinavians love their detective mysteries, the script tries to satisfy that quotient too by one of the characters being a police detective and another a wannabe "Sherlock Holmes". A fine entry in a tiny genre. Well worth tracking down.
|Sub-Zero Wins... Fatality!|
The main monster is Baltan, my favorite monster from my childhood, that’s a plus, but he doesn’t do half of his cool powers and after browsing the internet I find out he’s everybody's childhood favorite. Ok, I can live with that but in the end after a mostly cheap CGI fight with Ultraman…. Ready for this? This is where I run naked into the street screaming obscenities and brandishing a firearm. Well, in my case, a squirtgun, which is probably even more frightening. Ok, ready? He starts crying and kills himself. No, really – all he wanted was to live in peace with the children of Earth. I am totally fucking serious. Thank you to whoever decided to hire Toshihiro Iijima, who hadn't directed a film since the infantile, poop-obsessed DAIGARO VS. GOLIATH (1971), for killing my Ultrabuzz.