The Dark One’s EVIL Sucks the Air Out of You! “Robot Holocaust” reviewed! (Ronin Flix / Blu-ray)

“Robot Holocaust” enslaves Humanity on Blu-ray!

Year 2033 – a robot rebellion turned the once convenient machines into man’s most deadly adversary.  The aftershock of war has left mankind almost extinct and most of the atmosphere uninhabitable with radiation.  The last standing metropolis on what is now known as New Terra has the only breathable environment monopolized by the tyrannical Dark One, a disembodied machine that uses human slave labor to fuel the air producing contraption for the entire city.  A motley band of heroes, led by an outsider from a wasteland tribe who can breathe the toxic air, embark on a perilous journey to the Dark One’s factory lair, evading deadly flesh-eating worms, wasteland mutants, and a ruthless robot subordinates under the command of the Dark One.   Their mission is to rescue a purloined scientist after developing a device that lets people breathe outside the Dark One’s grip of a controlled environment.

The 1980s is a goldmine for post-apocalyptic cinema that has virtually no ambit.  Whether a big Hollywood studio or a rinky-dink production, inhospitable badlands filled with cutthroat survivors and malformed beings unfortunate enough to be left alive to battle it out to the death over the Earth’s last remaining precious resources was (and to an extent, still is) a salivating story prospect with vast barren landscapes, dangers around every corner, an untamed primal violence, and a BDSM-like wardrobe that hits the suppressed kink nerve in all of us.  Tim Kincaid’s “Robot Holocaust” is right smack dab in the middle of the subgenre and plays tune to every crowd-pleasing characteristic.  The 1987 post-apocalypse actioner is written-and-directed by Kincaid who cut his teeth on gay adult films in the late 1970’s and has maintained a healthy dose of homosexual erotic and adult films throughout his career until 2017 under his pseudonym of Joe Gaga.  After complete stag only cheapies “Cellblock #9” and “…in the Name of Leather,” Kincaid received a hankering to dip his directorial toes into sci-fi and horror, beginning with the sexual assaulting alien flick “Breeders” in 1986.  “Robot Holocaust” became the filmmaker’s subsequent feature one year later, shot mostly in the abandoned Brooklyn Navy Yard buildings as well as the undeveloped then Roosevelt Island in New York City.  Presented by Wizard Video (“I Spit on Your Grave”), Tycan Entertaiment and Taryn Productions are the companies behind the film. Taryn Productions is a subsidiary created by Charles Band (“Puppet Master’) and named after his daughter Taryn. Cynthia De Paula produces the film, who she almost exclusively produces every Kincaid sci-fi horror fixation, and the film likely supported by Charles Band in an executive producer role.

“Robot Holocaust” follows the narrative of a ragtag bunch of good-guy survivors journeying to rescue a friend and take down a tyrannical overlord.  While not one role stands as a principal lead, the band of heroes is led by Neo, played by Norris Culf.  Starring in his first lead role following a couple of smalltime gigs in supporting roles in another Taryn Production, “Necropolis,” and in Tim Kincaid’s “Breeders,” Culf receives his big break as a wasteland conqueror able to breathe outside in the radioactive atmosphere.   As a leader, Culf isn’t as charismatic as Keanu Reeves’ Neo nor is he fierce enough to be intimidating; instead, Culf is quite reserved, unpowerful, and lacks coordination to pull off choreographed fight sequences with a believable plausibility.  Nyla, on the hand, is played Jennifer Delora of “Frankenhooker” and “Fright House.”  Delora, an martial arts blackbelt, brought the proper attitude to her fiercely feministic leader of the She Zone women tribe by adding the mean to Nyla’s demeanor.  The other woman of the group is Deeja, Jorn the Scientist’s daughter who terribly reliant on her father, sparking major contrast between her delicacy in daddy issues and Nyla’s hardnosed, man-hating feminism.  Nadine Hartstein and Michael Downend reconnect from their minor roles in “Necropolis” to be the daughter and father team at the core of suicide mission. More ceremonious than being an emotional wreck of being separated during the middle of a robot run world, Harstein and Downend bring little flair as they themselves often are more automaton than the automatons. Joel Von Ornsteiner (“Zombie Death House,” “Slash Dance”) had the most flair as Klyton, a pickpocketing free-thinking droid that looks like a cross between Star Wars’ C3PO and MAC from “Mac and Me.” Ornsteiner never let up or broke the eccentric droid’s light-hearted Robin to Neo’s Batman antics complete with rigid, robotic movements and a ray gun that never seems to work. One of the more painfully pressed roles is Valaria, the Dark One’s flamboyantly dressed second in command. Think “Forbidden Zone”-esque. Angelika Jager performance in cahoots with the Dark One is about as dry as toast and at odds with her own vestigial accent. Jager’s the congenial visual to her counterpart Torque’s effectual exoskeletal mechanical cover who could pass for a T-800 with the teeth replaced by dangling like Lobster antennae. Rick Gianasi, who went on to be Troma’s Sgt. Kabukiman, plays the underestimated and underrated villain, leading the way for other sidelines roles with a cast that rounds out with George Grey, Michael Azzolina, John Blaylock, and Nicholas Reiner.

As mentioned earlier, “Robot Holocaust’s” acting isn’t good.  It borders old-timey melodramatic in a proclamation sense.  There are no in-depth discussions, debates, conversing naturally, or any aspect of the dialogue having a normalcy about it as everything is vigorously proclaimed or is awkward narrated for exposition.  The other half of the problems is in direct result of Kincaid’s poorly written script that can’t capture ordinary conversation, much like those of his pornographic films, I would think. Nor could Kincaid write himself out of the erratic flippancy of some principal characters who woujld go from bad to good then from good to bad in a blink of an eye.  While the communication is about a dull as a butter knife, the costuming is where “Robot Holocaust” balances the scales with 80’s ridiculously appropriate garb of what the ruined future would sport.  A metrosexual mixture of v-neck pelt shirts of mystery animal origin and early WWF professional wrestler spandex turn the men into “Conan the Barbarian” types, to which a few other influencing aspects are pulled from the Schwarzenegger epic fantasy.  The women are equally suited but with more finesse in the way of warrior princess as well as a goddess. With a title like “Robot Holocaust,” the android designs better be spectacular and in all for its time period, Ed Fench’s designs and Valarie McNeill’s fabrications are a mixed bag of good and bad. Klyton derives too heavily from “Star Wars'” inspiration without wowing into something of the tiny production’s own while Torque radiates power and fear with a complete head-to-toe body suit of an acolyte with attitude. Both designs don’t compartmentalize by operating individual body parts, such as moving mouths or even hands for that matter, which would have nailed the robots down for a film called “Robot Holocaust.”

Ronin Flix, under the re-distribution of Scorpion Releasing and MGM, release “Robot Holocaust” on a 1080p high-definition AVC encoded Blu-ray. The hard coded region A North American release is presented in an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio from the original 35mm negative. Natural grain, a palatable and diverse color palette, and swelling textures, such as fine details in the skin, scuffed up droids, and a grimy industrial complex provides a zestier interest that parallels the languishing storyline. The English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is remarkably clean, much like the transfer, with a coextending presence of robust range, depth, and quality. The proclaiming dialogue is crystal clear, hanging on every syllable and syntax, with no issues with hissing, popping, or other flaws. Jager’s accented monologues and conversations are kitsch guilty pleasures to hear her laissez faire style and delivery. Special features include a new interview with Nyla actress Jennifer Delora touching upon little-by-little her experience with cast, crew, and overall project. There’s also the official trailer included. The physical release comes in a regular blue snapper case with one-sided grindhouse artwork of a looming Torque, an explicitly worn skull, and Angelika Jager’s Valaria with her eyes closed and slight smirk. The unrated film runs a brisk 79 minutes. The “Robot Holocaust” is only 11 years away according to the film’s timeline, but director Tim Kincaid’s future can’t help but feel like a vintage hunk of junk by the stale performances and skimpy Tarzan-like duds and getting through the brief runtime proved unfortunately challenging.

“Robot Holocaust” enslaves Humanity on Blu-ray!

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!