Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kamillions (1990)

... aka: Wingates, The

Directed by:
Mikel (Mike) B. Anderson

Little was known about the making of this very obscure film until the guys at Junk Food Diner hunted down and interviewed the director, so now there's a bit more background information about this one out there... and what fascinating (and amusing) background information it is! According to the director, who'd previously made and sold a low-budget comedy called Alone in the T-Shirt Zone (1986), an acquaintance of his got into contact with him about a directing opportunity. He then flew to San Francisco and met with a group of producers who'd flown in from Hong Kong. The group already had the budget in place (roughly a million dollars), the locations secured, a script and all of the monsters designed for a horror film. After a disagreement over the initial script, the original writers walked. Anderson then wrote a brand new screenplay in less than two weeks. While he was busy doing that, completely unbeknownst to him, the producers changed gears and wanted a monster-comedy film more in the vein of Tim Burton's then-recent hit Beetlejuice (1988). After reading Anderson's straight horror / sci-fi script, the producers attempted to fire him (despite the fact they hadn't yet told him they were wanting something else) and then re-hired him. Anderson and Harry S. Robins (who also plays a major acting role in the movie) then did yet another script rewrite to work in some comedy.

Filming took place at the Dunsmuir House and Gardens in Oakland, California. The familiar-looking home, which was built in 1899 in the Neoclassical style, was the same house previously seen in Burnt Offerings (1976) and Phantasm (1979). Post production didn't go smoothly because all the money ran out, so the score wasn't properly done. The first cut of the film ran over 2 hours, but much to the horror of the director and the co-writer, the Chinese producers (who didn't quite understand the style of humor) had it reduced to about 90 minutes and apparently chopped out whole scenes rather indiscriminately as they went along. Anderson claims that the film was “basically not finished” and that it's “not edited properly.” In fact, he had little to do with the version that eventually found its way onto home video. The 90-minute cut was released on a completely unknown label (SBM) here in the U.S. and it also popped up on video in a few other countries like Australia and the Netherlands. However, the overall distribution was pretty awful.


Loopy scientist Nathaniel Pickman Wingate (Robins), a graduate of Miskatonic University so we already know he has the highest of monster mayhem credentials, has established a contact point with a parallel universe occupying the same subatomic space as our universe. But before he can go down in the record books with some of the greats, first things first. He has a birthday party to attend... His own. Cheerfully aloof wife Nancy (Laura O'Malley) wants him to stop dilly-dallying and get ready and sends their teenage son Sam (Dan Evans) to prod him along, but Nathan just can't pull himself away from his work despite the fact he only has 4 hours of coolant left to safely operate his machinery or else he'll end up blowing up half the planet. While peering into the alternate dimension he's discovered, Nathan spots a bunch of unknown lifeforms. He's then sucked into the portal and two little insect-like monsters are spit out into our world.







Meanwhile, Nancy greets a succession of party guests starting with her snobby, bitchy sister-in-law Angelica (Kate Alexander), who isn't five minutes there before she's criticizing nearly every member of the family. Angelica technically owns half of the huge mansion but she's been unable to get her money out of it due to her brother and his family still living there, so I guess she at least has a reason to be bitter. Long-absent, extremely wealthy cousin Desmon (Christopher Gasti), who's a famous count in Liechtenstein, shows up next all the way from Europe. And then dropping by in is family friend Lawrence Newman (David Allan Shaw), who claims to have given up the bad life (like paying for escorts) to become a conservative (“Obviously the tragic result of a liberal upbringing!”) reverend but is actually just your usual greedy / sex-obsessed hypocrite in clergy's clothing. He also keeps trying to hawk some program called “Dynagetics” in an obvious dig at L. Ron Hubbard's “Dianetics,” which was all over the place at the time.







The two little creatures; one good, one evil, have the amazing power of mimicry and can rearrange their physical structure to become an exact duplicate of any organism or physical object. In other words, they can transform into whomever or whatever they want at will. They also have telekinetic abilities, can animate inanimate objects, read minds and possess many other abilities. The bad creature (which turns out to be a 10-year-old brat in the other dimension) ends up attacking and possessing Desmon, while the good creature (the brat's babysitter) sneaks into son Sam's closet, glances up at pin-up poster and transforms into the image of Sam's dream girl: a model named Jasmine (Dru-Anne Cakmis). Sam, of course, falls hard for Jasmine even though he can't quite explain why she's suddenly materialized in his closet, while Desmon goes on a killing spree; gleefully offing various guests and family members in bizarre ways.







This plot seems to have been inspired not only by H.P. Lovecraft's writings but also Stuart Gordon's hit Lovecraft adaptations Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986). As for the rest, it appears they swiped elements from The Deadly Spawn (1983), Gremlins (1984), Weird Science (1985), Terror Vision (1986), Critters 2 (1988), the Nightmare on Elm Street films, Beetlejuice and numerous other then-popular films, put them in a blender and hit “Mix “ Thankfully, this is still filled with fun sequences that make the film worth a look. During one, a man's penis turns into a giant snake-like monster. During another, a woman's fox stole comes to life and attacks her before she's transformed into a cockroach. One guy gets electrocuted with jumper cables, the obnoxious daughter (Allison Rachel Golde) gets a telephone shoved down her throat and Sam's best friend (Andrew Ross Litzky) is squashed down to where he fits inside of a fish bowl. The bad creature takes on several forms throughout, including that of a chair.







Because this was clearly made in good spirits, isn't all that sleazy (there's no nudity, very little bad language and no real gore) and has a rather upbeat tone, it maintains a sort of innocent, infectious old fashioned charm throughout. The acting's mixed (and downright wooden in a few instances) but decent for the most part and the production values, photography, lighting, sets and all that are adequate. Despite what the director and co-writer have said in regards to the editing and score, I didn't notice any major problems with the continuity or flow of the film. I'm sure it's not the complete vision they had for it and they have every right to be disappointed, but what's here and how it's presented certainly isn't bad either. 







After filming was completed, Anderson returned home feeling bummed about his experiences, not to mention broke. The tide soon turned though when he got a job working on a little animated show that was still in its infancy back in 1990: The Simpsons. He worked his way up on the series, starting as a character layout artist and finally becoming a director, winning several Emmy Awards in the process. Robins would later become well-known in the gamer world for providing the voice Dr. Isaac Kleiner in the Half-Life video game series, while cinematographer Kathleen Beeler went on to a successful career working for Industrial Light & Magic. Assistant director William Rice co-directed his own weird horror flick, The Vineyard (1989), at the Dunsmuir House at around the same time.


Trivia Note: The was supposed to be called (the properly-spelled) Chameleons but one of the Hong Kong investors insisted that be changed to Kamillions because he feared people would mispronounce the title! Incidentally, this name change actually ends up suiting the film perfectly because of its comedic tone, the fact that these chameleons are from another dimension and it's how the dumb sister character spells it on a piece of paper.

★★1/2

The 2015 Orloks - 1973 Results

Started many moons ago by Prof-Hieronymos-Grost, the Orloks were a yearly poll on the IMDb horror boards where users submitted Top 5 lists of their favorite horror movies for each year. All of the results were then tabulated to come up with a definitive list of the year's most-liked genre offerings. Alas, when the good Professor decided to depart the boards years ago, the awards went with him... that is until now. IMDb-er seth_yeah - taking on responsibilities as both host and calculator - has decided to bring back this long-standing tradition in 2015, and now the awards will have a permanent place right here on this blog. Scoring is rather simple and done on a weighted system where first choice receives 5 points, second choice 4 points, etc., with a +1 bonus then awarded to the #1 selection on each list. IMDb release years are being used, but it is left up to voters to determine what they may or may not consider horror (which may be in conflict with IMDb's genre labeling system). If you'd like to participate, head on over to the IMDb HORROR BOARDS to vote! So without any further ado, the results...

_________________________________________________________________________________

1973
Top 5
* * * * * * * * * *
1. The Exorcist
USA / 69 points / William Friedkin
* * * * * * * * * *
2. The Wicker Man
UK / 52 points / Robin Hardy
* * * * * * * * * *
3. Don't Look Now
Italy, UK / 29 points / Nicolas Roeg
* * * * * * * * * *
4. Theatre of Blood
UK26 points / Douglas Hickox
* * * * * * * * * *
5. (tie) Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
USA / 15 points / Bob Clark
* * * * * * * * * *
5. (tie) The Crazies
USA15 points / George A. Romero

_________________________________________________________________________________

Making the Top 10:

6. (tie) I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (Torso) / Italy / 14 points / Sergio Martino
6. (tie) Lisa e il diavolo (Lisa and the Devil) / Italy, Spain, West Germany / 14 points / Mario Bava
6. (tie) Messiah of Evil / USA / 14 points / Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz
7. Legend of Hell House, The / UK / 12 points / John Hough
8. Flesh for Frankenstein / France, Italy, USA / 10 points / Paul Morrissey
9. Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural / USA / 8 points / Richard Blackburn
10. (tie) Candy Snatchers, The / USA / 6 points / Guerdon Trueblood
10. (tie) Die Zärtlichkeit der Wölfe (Tenderness of the Wolves) / West Germany / 6 points / Ulli Lommel
10. (tie) Ganja & Hess / USA / 6 points / Bill Gunn
10. (tie) La semana del asesino (The Cannibal Man) / Spain / 6 points / Eloy de la Iglesia
10. (tie) Night Strangler, The / USA [TV] / 6 points / Dan Curtis
10. (tie) Vault of Horror, The / UK, USA / 6 points / Roy Ward Baker

_________________________________________________________________________________

Others receiving votes:

- Ceremonia sangrienta (The Legend of Blood Castle) / Italy, Spain / Jorge Grau
- Creeping Flesh, The / UK / Freddie Francis
- Devicanska svirka / Yugoslavia / Djordje Kadijevic
- Devil in Miss Jones / USA / Gerard Damiano
- Don't Be Afraid of the Dark / USA [TV] / John Newland
- Don't Look in the Basement (The Forgotten) / USA / S.F. Brownrigg
- Dværgen (The Sinful Dwarf) / Denmark, USA / Vidal Raski
- Frankenstein / USA [TV] / Glenn Jordan
- Frankenstein: The True Story / USA [TV] / Jack Smight
- La campana del infierno (A Bell from Hell) / France, Spain / Claudio Guerín
- La corrupción de Chris Miller (The Corruption of Chris Miller) / Spain / Juan Antonio Bardem
- La morte ha sorriso all'assassino (Death Smiles on a Murderer) / Italy / Joe D'Amato
- La morte negli occhi del gatto (Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye) / France, Italy, West Germany / Antonio Margheriti
- La nuit des étoiles filantes (A Virgin Among the Living Dead) / Belgium, France, Italy, Liechtenstein / Jesus Franco
- La rose de fer (The Iron Rose) / France / Jean Rollin
- La saga de los Drácula (The Dracula Saga) / Spain / León Klimovsky
- Love Me Deadly / USA / Jacques Lacerte
- Malatesta's Carnival of Blood / USA / Christopher Speeth
- Picture of Dorian Gray, The / USA [TV] / Glenn Jordan
- Return, The / UK [short] / Sture Rydman
- Satanic Rites of Dracula, The / UK / Alan Gibson
- Scream Bloody Murder / USA / Marc B. Ray
- Sisters / USA / Brian De Palma
- Sssssss / USA / Bernard L. Kowalski
- Thriller - en grym film (Thriller: A Cruel Picture) / Sweden / Bo Arne Vibenius
- Una vela para el diablo (It Happened at Nightmare Inn) / Spain / Eugenio Martín
- Voices / UK / Kevin Billington
- Westworld / USA / Michael Crichton

_________________________________________________________________________________

Links here will be connected when the time comes.

< Back to 1972                    Continue to 1974 >

The 2015 Orloks - 1955 Results

Started many moons ago by Prof-Hieronymos-Grost, the Orloks were a yearly poll on the IMDb horror boards where users submitted Top 5 lists of their favorite horror movies for each year. All of the results were then tabulated to come up with a definitive list of the year's most-liked genre offerings. Alas, when the good Professor decided to depart the boards years ago, the awards went with him... that is until now. IMDb-er seth_yeah - taking on responsibilities as both host and calculator - has decided to bring back this long-standing tradition in 2015, and now the awards will have a permanent place right here on this blog. Scoring is rather simple and done on a weighted system where first choice receives 5 points, second choice 4 points, etc., with a +1 bonus then awarded to the #1 selection on each list. IMDb release years are being used, but it is left up to voters to determine what they may or may not consider horror (which may be in conflict with IMDb's genre labeling system). If you'd like to participate, head on over to the IMDb HORROR BOARDS to vote! So without any further ado, the results...

_________________________________________________________________________________

1955
Top 5
* * * * * * * * * *
1. Les diaboliques (Diabolique)
France / 47 points / Henri-Georges Clouzot
* * * * * * * * * *
2. The Night of the Hunter
USA / 43 points / Charles Laughton
* * * * * * * * * *
3. Dementia (Daughter of Horror)
USA / 27 points / John Parker
* * * * * * * * * *
4. (tie) The Quatermass Xperiment (The Creeping Unknown)
UK23 points / Val Guest
* * * * * * * * * *
4. (tie) Tarantula
USA / 23 points / Jack Arnold
* * * * * * * * * *
5. Three Cases of Murder
UK15 points / David Eady, George More O'Ferrall, Wendy Toye

_________________________________________________________________________________

Making the Top 10:

6. (tie) Bride of the Monster / USA / 8 points / Edward D. Wood Jr.
6. (tie) This Island Earth / USA / 8 points / Joseph M. Newman
7. It Came from Beneath the Sea / USA / 6 points / Robert Gordon
8. Cult of the Cobra / USA / 4 points / Francis D. Lyon
9. (tie) Day the World Ended / USA / 3 points / Roger Corman
9. (tie) L'affaire des poisons (The Case of Poisons) / France, Italy / 3 points / Henri Decoin
9. (tie) Revenge of the Creature / USA / 3 points / Jack Arnold
10. (tie) Beast with a Million Eyes, The / USA / 1 point / Roger Corman, David Kramarsky
10. (tie) Gojira no gyakushû (Godzilla Raids Again) / Japan / 1 point / Motoyoshi Oda
10. (tie) Kaidan botan-dôrô (The Haunted Lantern) / Japan / 1 point / Akira Nobuchi

_________________________________________________________________________________

Others receiving votes:

--

_________________________________________________________________________________

Links here will be connected when the time comes.

< Back to 1954                    Continue to 1956 >

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