Empire and Charles Band always had a knack for creating Westerns, but the type of Westerns that just were not as traditional as you might think. They had every opportunity to deliver us a normal western, and yet they went the odd route delivering creative amalgams like 1994’s “Oblivion,” and mediocre fare like “Ghost Town.” Richard Governor’s “Ghost Town” watches more like an extended episode of a mediocre anthology horror show, and when you get right past the whole supernatural tropes, it’s another ordinary western that we’ve seen a thousand times over. It’s not a gem of the Empire/Band library, but it’s a unique diversion.
As we saw from the chronological mythology that unfolded in the first half of the “Puppet Master” series, the puppets owned by Toulon were once kind and heroic. The puppets were the products of a man kind at heart, whose own lust for vengeance and hatred for the Nazis turned him evil. And in effect, he transformed his puppets in to evil beings that did his bidding. Toulon was once a nice man, and evil transformed him in to the villain we eventually met in “Puppet Master 2.” The third film, which is my favorite by far, features the origin of the puppets and how they were just beings living and doing their own thing until they found an inherent purpose in snuffing out the ugliness in humanity.
I’m very lucky that I don’t have any nostalgic connection to “Robot Jox.” I merely know it that that giant robot movie from Full Moon/Empire, and nothing more. Watching it without the rose colored glasses allowed me to appreciate it for what it really is. It’s silly, it’s unusual, but damn it it’s a lot of fun. I can see watching this as a double bill with “Arena.” We just don’t have nearly enough giant robot movies in America, and “Robot Jox” is that one movie that has its heart in the right place. It’s too big for its britches, but it utilizes old fashioned technology to depict a future where robots decide the fate of countries.
Don’t you hate it when you hit your head in a fit of rage and end up in Sherwood forest with a bunch of hot buxom women? In all honesty, I’d love that, but surely enough in Surrender Cinema’s “Virgins of Sherwood Forest” you can expect it to happen. One of my favorite erotic stars of all time, Gabriella Hall, plays Roberta, a female director for a music video has to tolerate a bunch of obnoxious sex starved actors.
Director Michael Davis’ “Beanstalk” has a lot of balls in the air. It wants to squeeze in so many ideas and sub-plots and can never find a proper way to bring them all in to one coherent kids film. There’s a boy named Jack who lives with his mother and discovers large beans that form a humongous beanstalk. Meanwhile, Jack’s mom is going to lose her house, prompting Jack and his mom to go homeless. Meanwhile, there’s a nutty doctor (Margot Kidder is barely recognizable) who believes the mother goose tales to be real, and is preparing to climb the beanstalk, while an evil land developer is planning to knock down the beanstalk, steal Jack’s house, and develop land over the his neighborhood. That’s a lot story, for a movie barely eighty minutes in length!
1995’s “Magic Island” from Moonbeam Entertainment is one of the few Charles Band backed kids films I’ve never actually seen. Which is odd, considering I loved Full Moon as a kid, and Zachary Ty Bryan was on one of my favorite TV show of the nineties “Home Improvement.” Like many of the Moonbeam films, “Magic Island” is not a perfect film by any stretch, but you have to appreciate its ambition, flaws and all. A good mixture of “The Neverending Story” and “The Princess Bride,” Sam Irvin’s adventure film is a goofy kids film with enough innocence to warrant good B grade family fare.
It’s Skinemax time and “Virtual Encounters” is the movie for anyone interested in delightful mediocre mid-nineties porn. As a movie it’s a pretty crummy and boring attempt to add fantasy elements to a genre already built around fantasies. Part of the Surrender Cinema division from Full Moon, “Virtual Encounters” is pseudo-science fiction that basically just features a slew of mildly erotic sex scenes that have no real context to them. They’re just there to get about as much mileage out of the movie before it ends.
Once again David DeCouteau and Charles Band re-invent “Laserblast” for a new audience. The wretched original is once again re-conditioned in to a teen friendly adventure in the vein of “Power Rangers,” and it’s an apparent attempt to market on the audience. The movie is silly and often makes no sense, but I do tend to miss the old days when Full Moon and Charles Band attempted to appeal to children and teenagers. Ralph and cute Tomboy Baxter are nerds in their school, both of whom spend their time riffing on science fiction and being picked on for reasons I have tough time fathoming. Truth be told, they don’t stand out really.