This Bundle of EVIL has a Dirty Diaper! “Baby Oopsie” reviewed! (Full Moon / Blu-ray)

“Baby Oopsie”  The Baddest Baby in Town on Blu-ray!

Who would have thought that playing with dolls could be deadly.  Sybil Pittman certainly didn’t think so as she hosts her internet streaming doll vlog showcasing her collection of pint sizes doll babies most of which Sybil has restored back to life…literally.  When a mysterious package arrives with the battered and stitched together head of Baby Oopsie, a severely bullied and neglected Sybil locks herself in the basement to work tirelessly on repairing Baby Oopsie’s head and mechanical body that includes, unbeknownst to Sybil, one special gear under a satanic spell to for collecting souls.   Baby Oopsie, the once pride and joy of Sybil’s restorations, has been resurrected from the toy junkyard and aims to claim the lives of Sybil’s tormentors to sustain it’s own diabolic animation.  When all of Sybil’s adversaries are eliminated, Baby Oopsie still requires lives to live and turns on Sybil’s friends and Sybil herself that becomes a battle to the death.

Full Moon knows how to run and market a good product that can last a lifetime and they continue to stroll through their finely tuned niche of deranged doll other pint-sized psychos to this very day with brand new produced features hitting the physical and streaming retain shelves in 2022.  Following the success of “Don’t Let Her In,” one of those new features aforementioned, is the return of the evilest rug rat known to infant kind, Baby Oopsie, from the “Demonic Toys” universe.  William Butler, who I fondly remember playing sweet country boy Tom being blown up and having his corpse feasted on in Tom Savini’s “Night of the Living Dead” remake, continues his long-standing tenure with Charles Band and Full Moon that began in 1986, under the Charles Band Empire Pictures company production and Stuart Gordon directed “From Beyond,” with a new written-and-directed feature “Baby Oopsie,” a concentrated, standalone spinoff of “Demonic Toys.”  This isn’t Butler’s first go-around with the go-go-ga-ga-gut your guts dolly as the filmmaker helmed “Demonic Toys 2:  Personal Demons” in 2010.  Charles Band and Butler produce the film with regular Full Moon executive producer Nick Blaskowski under the Full Moon Features in association with Candy Bar Productions.

Viral sensation the McRib Queen versus demonic toy Baby Oopsie. Stand up and character comedienne, Libbie Higgins, debuts in her first feature headlining role as Sybil Pittman, the repressed and intimidated vlogging doll queen living in abusive hell with tyrannical stepmother after the death of her beloved father. Higgins, who has an Onlyfans page for only $8 a month for all you obsessed fans out there, adorns a wig, glasses, and meme cat sweaters to get into the head of Pittman’s secluded world and where outsiders browbeat her into a reserved submission and wishful thinking only provides little comfort returning the hurt played out internal sadistic fantasies. For her breakout role, Higgins transcends her comedienne persona and into an anxiety-riddled outcast wretched by life’s punches and horror-struck by a doll that walks, talks, and kills like a macho-sadist. Before going head-to-head with the berserk Baby Oopsie (voiced by newcomer Jill Barlett), Sybil is caught between the devil and a saint with her brash, overbearing, stepmother played by Lynne Acton McPherson (“Improbus”) and the attentive and caring subletter played by Marilyn Bass, who tries very hard to be Full Moon sexy and skin-revealing without showing the camera too much. Her “best friend” Ray-Ray tips the scales toward believing in Sybil’s beauty and craft, befriending the doll queen despite her large radius of shunning those want to get closer to her, such as the mailman or the gardener, because of the depressive self-pity. Yet, Ray-Ray brings to the light and so does the actor who portrays the upbeat Hey Hunny sassy-mouth in TikTok and Youtuber influencer Justin Armistead. Armistead is magnetically chipper onscreen compared to Higgins story-obliged monotone placidness that balances out quite nicely the duo’s vanilla and peanut-butter-marshmallow swirl relationship. “Baby Oopsie” is full of character and characters, rounding out it’s smorgasbord of victims and supports with Diane Frankenhausen, Shamecka Nelson, Joseph Huebner, Michael O’Grady, Michael Carrino, Christopher J. Meigs, Tim Dorsey, and Josephine Bullock.

Set and filmed in Cleveland, Ohio at the proclaimed Full Moon estate, a 60’s-70’s anachronous house with many rooms becomes the playground setting for “Baby Oopsie,” the cast, and the crew. The location that reflects an era no longer modern, a dated obsoletism, to match Baby Oopsie’s classic and ideal bald-bald in a night gown form. However, normal Baby Oopsie also comes with that grotesque, malformed face that only a doll obsessed mother could love and would cause the toughest of horror fans to fear in their pants in on glance at the augmented representation of a human infant. It’s the creepy old doll look you definitely don’t want to see sitting in a dark corner blankly staring at you.  Of course, the special effects are not the classic Full Moon stop motion you see with the “Puppet Master” flicks as “Baby Oopsie” deals in tangibility with a bait and switch editing between the number of diverse molded Oopsie dolls created by special effects supervisor Greg Lightner (“Corona Zombies,” “Don’t Let Her In”) that include an open mouth and sneering face or a set of glowing eyes to provide a sense of evil.  Oopsie fits right into Sybil’s down on her luck story that is nicely compact and complete for an indie horror quietly but surely touches upon Sybil’s life in various key scenes, such as the gardener who hangs around because her father was much beloved or how much Sybil is despised at work between the dragooning, nitpicking, and strict boss and the snickering colleagues that look down at her.  Butler’s sweet-and-salty route delegates a fine line between her friends and foes that make the stakes clear when Oopsie decides impulsively to go off the bad-guy only rails. “Baby Oopsie” is far from cute and cuddly. “Baby Oopsie” is closer to being ugly and uncouth as the prime and pinnacle sequel of anthropomorphic toy horror in today’s Full Moon toy chest of films.

Spinoffs have become the new favorite amongst audiences, “Baby Oopsie” even pays a sideswiping jab to “Annabelle” of the “Conjuring” universe, and while we see a lot of spinoffs in television, the concepts and ideas are beginning to spill more frequently for filmgoing fans and, as such, “Baby Oopsie” is reborn onto her (or is it him? or it?) own Blu-ray home video from Full Moon Features. The region free, high-definition release, presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, is the epitome of digital recording without much of a single critique or compression issue. Inundated with a more realism than stylism presence in front of the camera with the exception of a few edited in art renditions of satanic imagery, Butler and cinematographer Josh Apple apply a clean, high-resolution coating that undeniably very familiar to Full Moon’s repertoire. What’s also a motif straight out of Full Moon’s bag of goodies in the carnivalesque score. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack raises the volume on the Fred Rapoport and Rick Butler above a superseding level that swallows the English dialogue at times. You really want to absorb Jill Barlett’s vulgarities as Baby Oopsie but need to fight the soundtrack to do so during key moments when Oopsie’s profanity-laden Tourette like behavior kicks in. The release also comes with a second audio option with a Dolby digital 2.0 stereo. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew interviews on their experience making the film and poking fun at each other at times in a well-edited jest, a Videozone featurette that’s essentially a mini panel with producer Charles Band, director William Butler, and stars Libbie Higgins, Marilyn Bass, and Lynne Acton McPherson taking a break in the midst of filming to talk about their characters, to talk about the film itself, and for Band to plug his streaming service and new projects, there’s a mini-featurette All Dolled Up! that has Libbie Higgins in character, Justin Armistead self-recording in his bathroom, like on TikTok, and Baby Oopsie announce the winner and runner-up’s of a contest to win a Full Moon prize package. Bonus content rounds out with Full Moon trailers. The Blu-ray comes unrated, and feature has a runtime of 78 minutes. “Baby Oopsie” is not the addendum to the profane book of “Demonic Toys” but rather an extenuating chapter that opens the door for all the misfit and maniacal toys to one day have their own independent rampaging furtherance that are likely already drafted, budged, and ready to shoot at a moment’s notice.

“Baby Oopsie”  The Baddest Baby in Town on Blu-ray!

Taxi Driver by Day, EVIL Serial Killer by Night! “Dr. Lamb” reviewed! (Unearthed Films / Blu-ray)

“Dr. Lamb” is ready to operate.  See him in action on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films and MVD Visual!

Quiet as a boy verbally and physically abused by his stepmother yet laid to experience the adult perversities at the permission of his unconcerned father, Lam Gor-Yu, now as a man, is still quiet and still has unusual interests as an afterhours taxi driver.  Triggered by rainy nights when a torrent of verbal abuse by his female passengers send the usually reserved taxi driver into a homicidal fury, extending his lonely nights into straggling women, returning their bodies to his family homes, and video tapes his exploits within his fascination for amateur medical procedures.  When the police raid his family home after developed disturbing pictures were discovered at the local print shop, Lam’s entire family is hauled into questioning and it’s to Inspector Lee and his team to unearth exactly what transpired to the lifeless bodies seized by a notoriously sociopathic serial killer.

When you think of serial killers globally, Hong Kong isn’t the first place that comes to mind.  In fact, Hong Kong isn’t even a blip on the radar as the Pearl River Delta residence only has two known serial killers attributed to the city.  One of those killers is Lam Kor-wan – aka The Jars Murderer – aka the Rainy Night Butcher – who terrorized the then British territorialized Hong Kong in the early 80s, killing and post-mortem mutilating four young women.  La Kor-wan became the notorious inspirational material for the Danny Lee and Billy Tang (“Run and Kill”) co-directed Dr. Lamb that was released in 1992 and penned by Kam-Fai Law (“The Close Encounters of Vampire).  “The Killer’s” star Lee, who was more Chinese action star than filmmaker, developed the film, reluctantly at first, during the time when Hong Kong’s Category III classification rating was extending from solely high-end erotica and sleaze into extreme horror and thrillers.  Lee served as executive producer with Parkman Wong, who also worked alongside Danny Lee on “The Killer,” under Grand River Films Ltd.

To be portraying one of two Hong Kong’s serial killers feels like an unsurmountable responsibility burdening the actor’s shoulders in order to parallel the motivational intricacies and the mental mindset as accurate as possible knowing that the character can’t just blend into a vast serial killer fold where you can find multiple variations of John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer being grossly rendered for U.S. pop culture exploitation.  Yet, in steps in front of the camera Simon Yam, one of Hong Kong’s prolific action stars in the late 80s to early 90’s now stepping into the shoes of a real-life maniacal persona and relatively close to where all of Lam Kor-wan’s dirty-little-deeds took place.  Simon Yam could very well be the killer himself, that’s how brilliantly Yam’s performance is in what’s certainly a confident display of range in contrast within his acting opus.  Replacing a gun with a scalpel, Lee and Yam dig deep into the character’s psyche with an interpretation of why Lam Kor-wan did what he did and, frankly, Yam just went stoically wild to reach Lam’s staggering levels of crazy as he descends deeper into the retelling of his encounters with each victim. While “Dr Lamb” is a grim tale, there’s a comical side to it with the police force, supervised by Inspector Lee, played by Danny Lee himself in a duality position of cast and crew. More of the comic relief stems from Inspector Lee’s second-in-command, an experienced, yet overweight, cop who lets others handle his workload. Literally named Fat Bing, comedian and “Human Lanterns” actor Kent Cheng continues his whimsical routine in unvarnished subject matter revolving around separate bits and pieces of people’s tissue and organs for twisted pleasures. Collateral damage of Lam’s horrifying late-night exploratory surgery antics on women involve his family as they also become suspects. Lam’s father (Siu-Ming Lau, “A Chinese Ghost Story”) keeps his blinders on while the evidence piles only to be turned when his son’s transgressions include a minor family member does his own flesh and blood then cross a line of no return.

There are always two sides to every story. No, I’m not saying there are two repelling sides to The Rainy Night Butcher’s homicidal havoc. “Dr. Lamb,” as a film, has a dichotomy about it that’s half biographically true and grim while the other half is crime drama peppered with clownery. The combination is odd and equally as frustrating as the black tone of the historical background and the graphic nature of some authentical depicted acts of inhuman urges find their way weaved into the fabric of cavalier cop buffoonery who, on one hand, seem really good and really intense at their job while, on the other hand, lack the gumption for sobering behavior. Even when investigating Lam’s videotape (to which there is no way in Hell Lam videotaped that himself as the camera moves as he’s engrossed with necrophilia and removing body parts), the cops overact the disgust with what looks like chunky tuna being forced out of their mouth along the lines of appearing like vomit. The underplayed theme is anything but funny in its psychological context of misanthropy and misogyny. All of Lam’s scenes of cruelty are told in flashback through his perspective, molded by his undertone hate for women. “Dr. Lamb” is a misogynistic tale bred out of childhood abuse by a woman close to his family and unabashed and unattended by his lenient father’s lack of concern. Three out of the four women Lam taxis-to-taxidermy often verbally and physically assault him and plague his personal space with their awful behavior, setting a dial backwards in his battered brain that reminds him of the time his stepmother slapped him or forced him into a closet for hours. Is “Dr. Lamb” a Freudian lemma that Lam sees his ruthless stepmother in these women and turns on them to humiliate their corporeal existence? That’s a deep dive, but not as deep as “Dr. Lamb” cuts as a visceral experience based off of one of Hong Kong’s notorious serial killers.

Distributing in at number 8 on the spine of the Unearthed Films’ Unearthed Classics banner is “Dr. Lamb” on a new Blu-ray home video. The region A locked, AVC encoded, BD50 is slicked up with a 1080p high-definition upgrade presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. As one of cinematographer Kin-Fai Mau’s first few pictures, the cool blue and misty has an interesting allure like a hazy bad dream subdued by an infusion of looking through blue glass with a prism of white light filtering through. Perhaps not as detailed as desired, the release does stand above the rest with low-level continuous speck blemishes that are only noticeable if you’re searching for them. Two audio options are available: a Cantonese LPCM 2.0 Mono and a Mandarin LPCM 2.0 Mono. Both tracks do come with well-sync and accurate English subtitles with the only downside is in their quick sojourning. There are a few instances where the subtitles pop up for literally a second as a result of quick nature of the dialect to get to the next set of text. While toggling between the two languages, my audio receptors really took to the Cantonese for a more natural flow and visually for unison between speech and speaking. The Mandarin is certainly more powerful but also too over-the-top as in watching I relate to watching old Japanese with English dub. The special features include an audio commentary by Ultra Violent’s Art Ettinger and Cinema Arcana’s Bruce Holecheck, a background interview about “Dr Lamb’s” genesis with the story producer Gilbert Po Lamb to the Slaughter, an interview with film critic James Mudge on the Golden Era of Cat III Three Times the Fear, a talking point conversation about “Dr Lamb” from film academic Sean Tierney, an Atomic TV interview with star Simon Yam, and trailers. The physical release itself comes with a 6-page, color booklet essay from cinema academic and author Calem Waddell (producer of “The Collingswood Story” and many horror-film related documentaries). A cardboard slipcover with one of the more provocative poster arts. Unearthed Films’ Blu-ray comes unrated with a runtime of 90 minutes. When perusing what to watch one night, be sure to hail down this cab of fact-based macabre driven by “Dr Lamb’s” psychological psychopathy and his pathologic urge for unnecessary medical procedures.

“Dr. Lamb” is ready to operate.  See him in action on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films and MVD Visual!

Fausto and His EVIL Queen Will Enslave You in the “Forbidden Zone” reviewed! (MVD Visual / Blu-ray)

Intestine to the “Forbidden Zone” on Bluray!

The Hercules family recently purchases a house from a drug dealer who warns them to never open the basement door that leads into, what he calls, the Forbidden Zone.  Curious about the secrets the Forbidden Zone holds, the beautiful daughter, Frenchy, accidently finds herself in the Sixth Dimension, a subterranean word ruled by King Fausto and his sadistic Queen Doris who superintends the torturing of half-naked prisoners. Having laid his eyes upon for Frenchy for the first time, Fausto is instantly enamored with her beauty and the Queen, jealous beyond reason, along with her sadistic daughter, Princess, seek to destroy Fausto’s newest concubine. Frenchy’s brother, Flash, and their mentally invalid grandfather dive into the “Forbidden Zone’s” gonzo world to try and save Frenchy only to find themselves in a labyrinth of skimpy-cladded slaves and nonchalant sex. All hope seems lost for the Hercules family until a deal with Satan might become their only way to salvation.

Remember that opening blurb in my recent review of Richard Elfman’s “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” where I state my only regret in watching Elfman’s zany 2019 sci-fi comedy was that I didn’t priorly and properly experience his cult classic, the “Forbidden Zone,” first? Everything makes sense now in regard to Elfman’s fascination with the harlequin, his esoteric humor, and a knack for ridiculously unconventional in a direct pull of inspiration from his and his brother’s, Danny Elfman’s, time performing with the musical stage troupe, the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, which would later evolve, at the behest of Danny Elfman, into a popular 80’s ska-band with a reduced name simply known as Oingo Boingo. Richard Elfman wanted to take that stage presence of the Mystic Knights and transpose it to the silver screen, effectively doing by penning and helming a microbudget musical complete with series of extremely detailed and cockamamie cutout animation blended with morbid sideshow talent and performances tuned to the over-the-top theatrics of a well-oil, low-budget, far-out comedy. “Forbidden Zone” became the stepping-stone for script cowriters Matthew Bright (“Freeway”), Martin Nicholson (“House II: The Second Story”), and Nicholas James and was produced by Elfman and James along with executive product Gene Cunningham under the limited production of Hercules Films.

“Forbidden Zone” isn’t your normal run-of-the-mill musical feature as an assortment of styles coursing through what results as an eye-widening breach of political correctness. A smidgen of arthouse, a true to form vaudeville, and wall-to-wall crude comical carpeting would be a challenge to any actor set to play any role in this farcical natured fantasy, yet with the help of the Mystic Knights and Elfman’s madman charm, “Forbidden Zone” lands just the right cast to pull off a production this barking mad, beginning with the casting of Elfman’s then wife, Marie-Pascale Elfman, as the principal lead and anti-damsel in distress, Frenchy. Dredging for comprehension through Marie-Pascale’s thick French accent proved to frustratingly difficult to a linguistical layman’s ear, but her performance is light, fluffy, and defiant against the stark contrast of a brutish, no-nonsense Susan Tyrrell (“Butcher, Bake, Nightmare Maker”) as Queen Doris. Tyrrell is phenomenally “Rocky Horror” in prosaic seething and in dive-bar dress while having her Sixth Dimension King be played by her real-life lover off screen, “Fantasy Island’s” Hervé Villechaize. The chemistry between Tyrrell and Villechaize is more than natural even in Elfman’s pasquinade light. A few of my personally favorite performances are in the grandfather and grandson dynamic duo of Gramps and Flash. Phil Gordon wears a hilarious propeller hat and boy scout uniform overtop his older older-than-the-rest-of-the-cast body and though Hyman Diamond doesn’t say one single world in the entire film, as the former Jewish wrestler, Gramps, his antics are far funnier. Danny Elfman, undoubtedly, has a role in his brother’s debut feature, reprising himself in essentially a reoccurring role from his stage acts as Satan. His brief time on screen solidifies the presence of the Mystic Knights with the musicians taking bit parts playing instruments as Satan’s hooded minions. “Forbidden Zone” fills out the cast with executive producer Gene Cunningham as Pa Hercules, Jan Stuart Schwartz as the servant frog Bust Rod, writer-producer Matthew Bright playing twins Squeezeit, the chicken boy, and Rene, Squeezeit’s crossdressing brother, Gisele Lindley as the topless Princess, Kedric Wolfe as a crossdressing teacher and a chandelier (Yes, you heard right, he plays a chandelier), Virginia Rose as Ma Hercules, Viva as the former Sixth Dimension queen, Joe Spinell as a drunken sailor, and the performance artists Kipper Kids, who I remember seeing briefly from Weird Al Yankovic’s “UHF.”

Creative control is everything and with total control, total madness (or genius) can takeover to recreate a bastardized version of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” that follows a young girl falling down into a curvy intestine chute and come face-to-face with anthropomorphic creatures, a dice-decorative land (parallel’s “Alice in Wonderland’s” playing card theme), and a Queen with a strict and haughty dominion over her terrified subjects.  I also wonder if the Mickey Mouse hats worn by many of the characters in the Sixth Dimension is also a direct connection or an Elfman homage to the Disney rendition of Carroll’s story.  The “Forbidden Zone” should be explored, should be experienced, and should be enamored as a cult favorite amongst fans of not only Through the Looking Glass but also of Terry Gilliam, “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and Pee-wee’s Playhouse.  With a barebones production value but with immensely vigorous performances that bring to life the extraordinary and flamboyant in all walks of life characters, Richard Elfman materializes a vision, his own vision, of transpiring a feature length film platform for his founded street theatre group, the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo.  At the time, did the film change the troupe’s musical journey for the better or skyrocket Danny Elfman’s evolutionary, new wave band?  That remains ambiguously unclear, but the project certainly places Oingo Boingo, in all its moniker and various bandmember forms, on a pop culture map and on everyone’s weird science fiction radar with an unforgettable, unimaginable chthonic comedy spurring laughs and gasps of content. 

After watching “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks,” we had an inkling that Richard Elfman was an ass man and looking back at “Forbidden Zone” only confirms our theory of a cutout animation poop-chute characters pass through entering the Sixth Dimension and the continuous Kipper Kids’ vocal raspberries and revealing jockstrap ass cheeks.  If you like big butts (and cannot lie), then you’ll like the weirdness of the “Forbidden Zone” on a new Blu-ray director’s cut from MVD Visual, presented in its more recently colorized version of its 35mm stock with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  Retouched with a few Richard Elfman enhancements to the video quality and special effects, the Blu-ray display a remarkable durability of film transfer that show no sign of deterioration or damage.  Natural grain goes unobtrusive and there are any detectable egregious enhancements to circumvent any flaws in the used film stock.  The audio is a slightly different story in the English language LPCM 2.0 stereo that often feels lossy, muted, and hissy at times.  The musical numbers are bore a static underlayer that’s faint but there.  This never inhibits the dialogue or other audio tracks in anyway but can be a nuisance.  English subtitles are an available option.  Special features include a new introduction from director Danny Elfman, a new music video of Richard Elfman beating a bongo drum to a tune to a Danny Elfman score with his wife, Anastasia, thrusting her daisy-duke clothed crotch, and a guised band playing behind them, the original audio commentary by Richard Elfman and writer-actor Matthew Bright, A Look into “Forbidden Zone” featurette from a few years back, prior to Susan Tyrrell’s death, that showcases interviews with the cast and crew looking back at the film, black and white outtakes and deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer.  “Forbidden Zone” is an ostentatious ornament that’s larger than life in many regards and remains a cult classic to this day with a niche fanbase and tribute theatre productions still being done to this day.

Intestine to the “Forbidden Zone” on Bluray!

The Elfmans’ EVIL Doomsday Droll! “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” reviewed! (MVD Visual / Blu-ray)



“Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks”, oh my, now on Bluray home video!

A struggling Los Angeles actor finds himself in an intergalactic dilemma when a interdimensional portal opens from his asshole and spits out the obelisk, a large, pointed top icon that holds the key to ruling the universe.  Evil space clowns and extraterrestrial beings rocket toward Earth to be the first to intercept the obelisk and remotely manipulate people to their way to try and snag the long-ago inseminated artefact.  In order to save the world, maybe even the universe, from the catastrophic misuse of the obelisk, the actor calls up on his transgendered brother – excuse me – his sister, a professor with expertise in interdimensional relics, and a pair of beautiful Swedish scientist assistants all the while avoiding biker space clowns, ditzy blonde sex bots, the Chinese mafia, and a secret U.S. government agency from getting their greedy hands on world-dominating or word-destroying ass statue. 

Having sat through and contemplated Richard Elfman’s bizarrely fascinating “Alien, Clowns, and Geeks,” I found myself washed over with deep regret. Regret is not in the one-sit watching of a 90-minute sci-fi comedy about a monolithic sphincter stone being a weapon for universal domination by space clowns and incorporated green men from outer space or the key for green, sustainable energy worth lucrative wealth for possible one out-of-work C-lister. The regret stems from not having watched beforehand Richard Elfman’s first experience with total creative control in his kaleidoscopic chaos a surreal fantasy “Forbidden Zone” from 1980 that has placed the filmmaker on the map as a cult director and the musical film itself retains breath and life through theatrical stage plays across the nation. Nearly 40 years later, the harebrained and mad genius mind of Richard Elfman churns a return to his unadulterated cinematic artform with no producers or studios to infringe upon his certifiable craft. Elfman writes and directs the Unfound Content (Bernie Stern, “What Josiah Saw”) and UnLtd Productions produced Elfmaniac Media production.

Who better to be your leading man of action versus the opposing forces of interplanetary evil than your own flesh and blood?  Richard Elfman casts his son, Bodhi, to take the lead as struggle actor Eddy Pine, crestfallen by his recent television series cancellation that derailed his promised financial success and famed lifestyle.  Bodhi Elfman plays to the tune of comic-action star fairly well, delivering perfectly timed high-pitched screams when prompted while still conveying a suave persona as a smooth-talking ladies’ man that bags one-half of the Swedish scientist twins, Helga Svenson (Rebecca Forsythe, “Replace”), to be the perfect combination of brains, beauty, and junkyard Kung-Fu.  Helga, and her sister Inga (Angeline-Rose Troy) are assistants to the great and all-power, well…not all power, (German?) Professor von Scheisenberg in a likeable, rememberable performance from “3rd Rock form the Sun” sitcom actor French Stewart.  In this favorable group of eclectics, world-saving heros, my personal favorite is Jumbo, the politically incorrect, yet well-represented, LBGTQ sister of Eddy Pine played the large frame build of Steve Agee (“Suicide Squad”) who, like a good chunk of Eflman’s cast for the film, takes on a dual role as a God-fearing goon dressed in a giant chicken suit for his boss Fritz the two-timing German clown (Nic Novicki, “The Sinners.”) The circus-esque troupe continues to careen toward Earth in a prototypical rocket ship full of clowns, literally, in what can be seen as an offshoot homage to “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”. The rocket is captained by “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise actor Martin Klebba, but the boss in the big shoes, clown shoes that is, is worn by the late Vern Troyer (“Pinocchio’s Revenge”) in his last role, a role royal bestowed upon him as Emperor Beezel-Chugg. Granted, much of the emperor is played through Nick Novicki’s Fritz as Beezel-Chugg sends his conscious down to Earth to beat out the aliens from obtaining the obelisk. “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” has a monster supporting cast for an indie film that rounds out the list with Richard Elfman’s wife Anatasia Elfman in various roles, George Wendt (“King of the Ants”), Malcolm Foster Smith (“Parasomnia”), Marco Antonio Parra, Victor Chi, Andre Ing, Erwin Stone, and Raul Colon.

If “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” sounds to you like an unfurling Warner Bros. ACME production full of dropping anvils and pseudo-tunnels, you’re not alone. Elfman’s romping comedy is chockful of clowns, cigars, and sex tropes, mostly elements pulled from the director’s hyperactive brain and basking recreations that fit his outlandish selfhood. The film very much fits the man behind the camera as an off-color, atypical, crude humored, red-headed fireball zipping-and-zagging in a multitude of directions. Yet, despite the frantic antics and the crazy characters, “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” retains its composure as a three-act tale of redemption where one man can be the hero of his own destiny depending on the path he chooses in his seemingly despondent life where he’s lost his career, his mother’s a slutty crackwhore, and a large stone has expelled itself from his anus, creating a rift between a difficult decisive choice of short term wealth or long term doom. Pulling much of his science fiction inspiration from the 1957 “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” Elfman manages a vast, epic showdown of invading alien threats against an unsuspecting human contingent with very few locations, zipped to to-and-fro with comical orchestration, that usually fashions a feeble story structure of sitcom-syndrome weariness, but not with these colorful characters with their unconventional and unmethodical praxis that defy all logic and sensibility. Off the bat, “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” has menial building blocks but, if you stick with it, the film does grow on you, stimulates the endorphins of your inner child, as a live-action recollection of a Saturday morning cartoon but for adults.

Enter the maniacal mind of Richard Elfman with the MVD Visual Blu-ray release of “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks.”  Presented in a widescreen, 16×9 aspect ratio, the digitally recorded video has no telling compression issues onto the AVC encoded pressing.  Most of the superimposed cartoony special effects are simply just that due to stylistic choices or budgetary constraints and, either way, add they greatly add to Elfman’s carnivalesque approach to clowning around.  The English 5.1 surround sound discerns no apparent issues other than a slight tuning leveling issue when someone screams as pitch level goes muted a bit.  Other than that, dialogue is clean and clear.  The music genius of Danny Elfman (“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Beetlejuice”) and newcomer Ego Plum, who brings with him a melody of cartoonish influences and unconventional inspirations, create a unique sound that attests to “Alien, Clowns, and Geek’s” upbeat and caricature antics.  Optional English subtitles are available.  Special features include behind-the-scenes interviews that give the cast and crew their 5 minutes recollecting works with castmates, Richard and Danny Elfman, and their total overall experience, a quick and fast-paced interview from Richard Elfman who quickly disgorges his ideas and desires, along with his heartful opinion, about the film, the music video for Ego Plum’s “Mambo Diabolico,” which you can see at the end credits, and the original theatrical trailer.  “Mambo Diabolico” is definitely a good description for Richard Elfman’s far side sci-fi comedy that’s too Ed Wood for even Ed Wood himself.

“Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks”, oh my, now on Bluray home video!

Bestest EVIL in the Whole Wide World! “Clifford” reviewed! (Ronin Flix / Blu-ray)



“Clifford” is the Best Comedy of 1994 and Now on Blu-ray!

10-year-old Clifford wants to go to Dinosaur World in Los Angeles.  I mean, really, really, wants to go to Dinosaur World and will stop at nothing to get his heart’s desire, even if that means intentionally grounding his parent’s plane destined for Hawaii.  Clifford’s parents, on the verge of strangling their own relentless mischievous son, concocts a care plan that includes reaching out to Uncle Martin, an out-of-touch, workaholic, kid-adverse L.A. resident looking to impress upon longtime, child-longing girlfriend that he adores children.  It’s a win-win for everyone, even Clifford who’s chances to ride Larry the Scary Rex rollercoaster at Dinosaur World have significantly increased.  The perfect plan is swimmingly going well until Martin’s boss throws him a deadline curveball that sidelines Clifford’s theme park trip, breaking his promise to a more than impish little boy who has declared life-ruining war against the Bestest uncle in the whole wide world.

Yes, finally!  “Clifford” has arrived onto Blu-ray home video and just like that that mischievous little brat comes back into our nostalgic hearts.  The 1991-filmed, 1994-released PG-rated comedy is written by “Back to School” duo Steven Krampmann and William Porter and directed by Peter Flaherty, director of “Who’s Harry Crumb?” and Martin Short’s pseudo-late night talk show series “Primetime Glick.”  If you don’t see Krampmann or Porters’ names in the pre- and post-credits but notice Jay Dee Rock and Bobby van Hayes scrolling by than that’s because the writers used pseudonyms to quietly disown the finish final film that was embroiled in questionable approaches such as hiring Martin Short, a then 40-year-old comedian-actor, to portray a 10-year-old boy.  Yet, the bizarre comedy that has a talented cast as well as a demented and twisted side to it has gained a rather quiet cult following.  Larry Brezner (“The ‘Burbs”) and Pieter Jan Brugge (“My Demon Lover”) produces “Clifford” and is one of the last releases to trickle out from Orion Pictures before their unfortunate bankruptcy. 

Through extremely creative measures to ensure Martin Short can sell the physicality of a prepubescent boy on screen, “Clifford” is one of the former SNL performer’s best and memorable roles amongst his arsenal of personalities.  The naughtily tormenting persona with a Devil’s grin and absent eyes for sympathy brings Clifford to a level that’s analogous to a fixated horror villain setting a target goal of destruction, mayhem, and chaos. No one is safe from Clifford’s duplicitous trajectory, not even Uncle Martin played by the late, great Charles Grodin (“Midnight Run”) who provides his standard uptight and exasperated character at first but slides into a sinister nihilism when push beyond the point of return. Short and Grodin are centric to the story, phenomenal dynamically, and funny at very second despite how antiquated the content and comedy is at 30 years old. Seeing Short play a little boy doesn’t even register he’s a grown man in an adolescent role and that’s how good Martin Short can massage the material in his favor. You see Short, you see he’s a kid amongst the rest of the cast, you see his childish exploits, and, yet, none of that is troublesome, bothersome, or even a tiny bit weird as you’re drawn into an overexaggerating, yet highly relatable, parenting hardships in negotiating with out of control, scheming children and the pure, unabashed wackiness of Martin Short who, in my mind’s eye, is essentially in a step-down version of his iconic Ed Grimley personality. Bringing down Short’s antics and Grodin’s disgruntled demeanor is the measured Mary Steenburger (“Back to the Future III, “Powder”) subduing, in a good way, audiences as Uncle Martin’s lowkey love interest to bring us down from the eccentric shenanigans. The casting is overall tight on those three leads but Dabney Coleman (“Dragnet”) becomes the sleazy bigwig wedging between his employee, Uncle Martin, and Martin’s girlfriend, Richard Kind (“Stargate”) searching for patient with his insufferable Clifford, Jennifer Salvidge (“Evolution”) as Clifford’s yielding, but equally as exhausted, Clifford’s mother, and “Little Monster’s” Ben Savage as a troubled youth set to follow Clifford’s footprints.

How does “Clifford” hold up to today’s comedies? Rated PG, the 1994 film lacks the big hitting criteria that ultimately slaps stricter rating labels right onto the trailer and home video covers, that ultimately bring in audiences with sex, violence, and harsh language, but “Clifford” isn’t a kids’ film per se and subtly lands more adult oriented and sexually suggestive one-liners and scenes that wouldn’t fly by today’s standards. In fact, I personally believe the entire production would have been scrubbed if the first casting choice for a young boy was a 40-year-old man. Movies like “Clifford” are relics that should be treasured because we’ll never see comedy like this again and that’s what makes “Clifford” a part of cult cinema. “Clifford” doesn’t need itemized fixings to be a great story and to possess substance to be a phenomenal film. Instead, the idiosyncrasies of the plot and the singularity of talent glue the first draft of the inane script together in its finished product, rewinding that chunky gray and white brain matter and the bits of skin, tissue, and tufts of hair back into and onto the head after having its top blown thinking, how the hell do we pull off this script? The first two acts are character building and about the dynamics of two conflicting temperaments that ensue a series of tit-for-tat jail landing pranks and a slew of grating and passive insults, suggesting a character-driven, quirky slapstick story of growth and understanding between the two sides. However, the third act shows another, unexpected side of “Clifford” that revels in Uncle Martin’s vindictiveness after having his mind and spirit broken by a child’s chastising for breaking a promise and Flaherty goes big and berserk with the Larry the Scary Rex rollercoaster (which looks amazing to ride to this date) to which the calamity of events culminates an epiphany for one of them, abetted by the fact a run amok mechanical dinosaur nearly chomped down on a human-sized snack.

“Clifford’s” mischief and mayhem in hi-def never before has looked so good on this new U.S. release Blu-ray from Ronin Flix in association with Scorpion Releasing and MGM. The region A, 90-minute release is presented in 1080p and in an anamorphic widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and much like the Blu-ray’s front cover of blown-up headshot closeups of Martin Short and Charles Grodin and a crumbling two-story home that’s not a component in the film, the picture quality also appears to be a bit stretched, leaving details slightly scattered and marginally pixelated. The transfer print is without a doubt clean and discernable but retains the original, untouched up MGM anterior. The English language DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is the only audio option that provides a good mix and balance of dialogue, chaos, and everything else in between to come together for a gratifying dual channel audio alloy. In extreme instances of bickering, high level pranking, and even the clamorous and deep dino-discharging climax, much of the details remain intact and clear without losing distinctiveness. The Ronin Flix Blu-ray is a feature only release with no software or hardware bonus content. With or without bonus features, the film itself is worth the cinematic calories as “Clifford” shines as arresting tale full of laughs, heart, and anarchy and is a hellraising life-amenity that shouldn’t be lived without.

“Clifford” is the Best Comedy of 1994 and Now on Blu-ray!