The television adapted bastardization of his beloved illustrated Robot Ninja leaves comic book artist Lenny Miller with a bad taste in his mouth. His disgust with the direction angers him to part ways with the project, leaving the televised rights in the hands of a careless and uninspired studio crews and execs, but that won’t stop Miller’s creative juggernaut of the captivatedly violent, robot vigilante. Inspiration takes heart-rending form when Miller happens upon a roadside abduction and rape of a young couple where his attempt at a rescue ends tragic with the couple being brutally murdered and him severely injured, but with the help of his good inventor friend, Dr. Goodnight, the frustrated comic-book artist becomes the Robot Ninja, just as depicted in his comics, with a vengeful plan to hunt down the assailants and put a bloody end to their wrongdoing reign of terror. A good first night out ends with one thug dead and an ego boost for Miller, but Robot Ninja’s actions don’t deterrent crime and, in fact, crime hits back hard when not only Robot Ninja becomes the target, but also his friend Dr. Goodnight and innocent bystanders.
“Robot Ninja” is part one of an unintentional two part review segment about directors disowning their own cinematic handy work for X, Y, or Z reasons and while “Robot Ninja” was initially discarded by “Dead Next Door” writer-director J.R. Bookwalter due to poor post production that was essentially out of the filmmaker’s hands and a work print negative thought to have been lost for eternity, Tempe Entertainment foresaw the awesome potential for the late 80’s automaton avenger in an dual format ultimate edition after a unearthed work print surfaced and back into the Bookwalter’s hand to mend and correct his sophomore feature film! Forget Iron Man. Ignore Captain America. Incredible Hulk who? “Robot Ninja” is one of the only true comic book heroes from illustrations to to take a stand against crime passionately and not because if you have great power, there’s great responsibility.
Robot Ninja is the epitome of the combo character that could sway into either hero from the 1980’s, like in Paul Verhoeven’s “Robocop” and Amir Shervan’s “Samurai Cop,” or could even swerve straight up into the villain category though I have no examples floating around near the inner layers of my cerebral cortex, but the Robot Ninja bordered the very blurry gray lines of anti-hero status whether intentionally or not from the perspective you examine. The Robot Ninja character potentially could have set fire to the combo character direct-to-video cult underworld, but fell rather hard and flat on its face in the deadfall of the netherworld instead. None of film’s flaws or woes never sat its hampering weight upon the goldilocks graced shoulders of Michael Todd, who portrayed the clawed hand titular character. Todd’s enthusiasm for the role is beyond necessary, a real A for effort, into powering on Lenny Miller’s illustrated crime combatant. Lenny, aka Robot Ninja, vows to destroy, or rather disembowel, the local gang led by the ruthless Gody Sanchez, a she-devil aimed to please only one person – herself. Maria Markovic, another actor that’s in J.R. Bookwalter’s “Dead Next Door” circle, find herself in the antagonistic role in one of her sole two credits. Markovic’s acting chops are about as stiff as a board, but being surrounded by the right kind of thugs in James Edwards (“Bloodletting”), Bill Morrison (“Ozone”), Jon Killough (“Skinned Alive”), Rodney Shields, and Michael ‘D.O.C.’ Porter, Gody Sanchez is able to achieve par-level black heartedness. “Robot Ninja” round-kicks an uppercut class of actors such as Floyd Ewing Jr., Michael Kemper, the original Dick Grayson Burt Ward (“Batman” television series), the one and only Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”), one of Sam Raimi’s entourage buddies Scott Spiegel, and Bogdan Pecic and the good Dr. Goodnight.
Without doubt, “Robot Ninja” was destined for the direct-to-video market and the quality of work obviously shows, but with flaws aside, the obscure 79 minute feature still manages to be a part of Bookwalter’s “Dead Next Door” universe full of gore, violence, and a distain for human nature despite briefly disavowing “Robot Ninja’s” mucked up existence for years. Subtempeco EFX, comprised of David Lange, Bill Morrison, and Joe Contracer, don’t exactly go cheap when Robot Ninja’s dual blades pierce and pop eye balls inside the skull of some punk or when Lenny’s patching up his injuries without as much flinching in pain, the open, surely is infected wound just pulsates with exploded flesh and blood. Bookwalter’s direction is hazy at times around the beginning with the dynamic between Lenny and his publisher that feels stagnant and irrelevant; however, the comic book scenes interwoven into the meatiest part of the story, the Robot Ninja action, is remarkably cool for a late 80’s budget gas.
Tempe Entertainment have outdone themselves with the region free ultimate edition DVD and Blu-ray combos set of “Robot Ninja” with a “painstakingly” restored 2k film scan from the original 16mm A/B roll cut negative and presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio. The picture is night and day compared to previous VHS and DVD releases that underwhelm director J.R. Bookwalter’s vision. The vast color palette of various lighting and color schemes during the dream sequences have been gracefully corrected and the contrast has been restored to lighten up the much of the darker, almost unwatchable scenes. Good looking and unobtrusive natural grain from the 16mm stock and the re-edit makes a difference that finally seems cuts together without causing some confusion. The English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound is entirely new construction from Bookwalter and the lossless tracks have ample range and depth, balanced nicely throughout, and have little-to-no distortion or other imperfections. English and Spanish subtitles are also included. A slew of bonus material on both formats include audio commentaries from J.R. Bookwalter, Matthew Dilts-Williams of Phantom Pain Films, producer David DeCoteau, James L. Edwards, Scott Plummer, David Lange, David Barton, Doug Tilly and Moe Porne of The No-Budget Nightmare. J.R. Bookwalter also has a 21 minute segment about the whole start-to-finish journey with restoring “Robot Ninja,” a Linnea Quigley retrospect on her small role experience in the film, an interview with Scott Spiegel, a location tour with Benjamin Bookwalter, “The Robot Ninja” fan film from 2013 with introduction by director Johnny Dickie, artwork and promotional material, behind the scenes gallery, production stills, “Robot Ninja” unmasked featurette, rough cut outtakes, TV show promo, newscast outtakes, the original VHS release trailer, and Tempe trailers, plus much more. Lets not also forget to mention the stunning cover art by Alex Sarabia, Carol Chable, and David Lange and a new title sequence also by David Lange. Tempe Entertainment’s ultimate edition of “Robot Ninja” is a thing of beauty that should be seen by all who love campy, Sci-Fi horror flicks with grisly skirmishes and intense tragedy in every corner. The restoration work “Robot Ninja” is founded on absolute love, a rare concept seen for direct-to-video features so you know this film must be something special – a true redemption story.
A Missouri city is terrorized by a slippery psychopath who gratifyingly kills women after meeting them on an online dating service and chopping off a lock of their hair for his serial killer souvenir. During this reign of urban terror, Jack and Kristy decide to meet for the first time in the midst of all the chaos of online skepticism. Kristy’s elaborate first date idea involves driving out to an isolated cabin on the outskirts of the big city ran by Momma Myers and her eccentric family. After an eventful day and passionate night of exploring each other inside the dark cabin enclosure, Kristy and Jack find themselves in the malevolent grips of the rural area’s most delinquent and psychopathic residents who know the wooded landscape like the back of their blood soaked hands. Escaping a killer in the city was the easy part, but in the woods, no one can hear you scream, no signal can be transmitted, and there’s nowhere to run, but what comes about of Jack and Kristy takes a twisted turn of events that has transformed this secluded campground into a war zone.
“Slasher.com” assumes to exercise an excessive vat of survival slasher tropes by creating foreboding scenarios that are extremely obvious to keen horror eye. If you know your slashers, you know the drill. Missourian native director Chip Gubera’s has developed a half-serious, half-self-deprecating 2017 thriller co-written by fellow Missourian Chelsea Andes with her first feature script credit. The story starts off hot and steamy enough with the sounds of moan-and-groan lovemaking, but turns sour in a split second with a half naked victim becoming shish kabob. Great start so far. Proceeding goes into a montage about an anonymous online dating service homicidal psychopath who lures women to their ultimate demise and whacking off a piece of their hair for trophy. Here’s where things become little satirical. Main characters Kristy and John, knee deep in online terror dating and who know each other solely from their online conversations, hike up toward a deep-wooded cabin in a small podunk town and with a bit of overzealousness, the ease between them feels whole-heartedly unnatural and very uncomfortable, but makes for superb Cliffnotes version of the whole slasher genre mock up. You got your daft couple, you got your deranged campground establishments, and then you got your gratuitous nudity – what else could you ask for?
And who are these players Chip Gubera was able to sway to be in “Slasher.com?” First up, Ben Kaplan, relatively unknown, steps into the shoes of John, an organized, easy going good looking guy who you wouldn’t expect to be online dating and the same goes for Kristy, portrayed by a very beautiful Morgan Carter, also an unknown in her first and only credit. The two have a weird and robotic dynamic that’s hard to swallow, hard to accept, and hard to comprehend why they’re both seeking what’s behind the other end of the keyboard and computer monitor, but here they are casted into the lead roles. On the opposite end of the spectrum are a duo of veterans in the horror field and, as well, in the erotic genre. “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” and a few other notable horror sequels’ R.A. Milhailoff, a very large and threatening man, does have the killer presence and dwarfs a out of this world demented performance by the one and only Jewel Shepard as Momma Myers. The same Jewel Shepard from “Return of the Living Dead” and from the recently reviewed sex-tastic action film “Christina” and she’s so sleazy and so unbelievable rank that’s it’s truly scary. Rebecca Crowley, Delious Kennedy, and Adam Boster fill out of the support cast.
“Slasher.com,” from what you read earlier in this review, might seem like stiff drink with the same cobalt, down-the-hatch taste, but there’s a flick of the wrist in the finale that’s leaves Gubera’s film standing just slightly above the mediocre, low-budget melee and taser-charges the nuts of what could be a new breed of horror. Just out of reach and falling flat on it’s face is the quick rise and long hard fall for Chip Gubera’s “Slasher.com” who took a quirky, fly-by-the-seams slasher and contributed to it a brief glimpse of ambition that never reach full potential, but there were moments. Good moments that cleared the ugly scrap show up every so often; for example, the dead body pit, or the captivating needs of Momma Myers by the delectable Jewel Shepard, or even the final showdown between the Myers and John and Kristy.
Cinedigm and ITN Distribution release “Slasher.com,” also known as “S/ash.er,” onto DVD home video presented in widescreen with a poor English Stereo 2.0 track. The digital noise waves through nearly all scenes of the image, especially the ariel shots, and doesn’t sharply display the forest, but keeps the vague Myers dungeon in the shadow’s of it’s own shoddiness. Sleazo, that’s the creative moniker of the scorer, provides a synthesized track that’s horribly exploited because it is a fairly good soundtrack even if it’s only a one track, sorry trick, pony. There’s also no bonus features on the DVD, leaving only the feature to fight for itself, and with that omission of extras, with that poor quality, and with steep drop at the end, “Slasher.com” fails to take advantage of the sui generis story that needed to blossom.
From Liongsgate Home Entertainment comes Vestron Video Collection’s Blu-ray releases of two sequels that needed some refreshing! “Return of the Living Dead 3” and “C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud” will see the light of Blu-ray day come November 22nd, instilling a 1080p campy fear into hearts of North American horror fans! Packed with extra content and a fresh coat a cover art paint, Lionsgate has resurrected (and remastered) the Vestron Video label from it’s burial ground in the 1980’s, re-delivering cult classic titles into super Hi-Def and redefining a label that made a name for pioneering B-movies such as the below.
C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud
PRE-ORDER C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud at http://amzn.to/2cpUgyC for only $28!
Kevin, Steve, and Katie are an inseparable trio of friends doing some extracurricular snooping in the school science lab when, among the test tubes and beakers, they discover a corpse! But before they can say “Abra Cadaver,” the body disappears, rolling down Route 51 strapped to a gurney. The kids need a spare stiff, and fast. What they find is “Bud the Chud,” a half-dead decomposing humanoid, the result of a military experiment gone haywire. When Bud sets out on a killing spree, the kids, the Army, the police, and the FBI are hot on his trail, trying to save the entire town from becoming “Chudified!”
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio Commentary with Director David Irving
• Interview with Actor Gerrit Graham
• Interview with Actress Tricia Leigh Fisher
• Interview with Special Effects Artist Allan Apone
• Still Gallery
Return of the Living Dead 3
PRE-ORDER “RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3” at http://amzn.to/2diuIRj for $28!
In Return of the Living Dead: Part II, the chemical Trioxin turned people into flesh-eating zombies. Now, the government is trying to control these unstoppable cannibalistic killers in Return of the Living Dead 3. When a young man uses the chemical to bring his girlfriend back to life after a motorcycle accident, she is driven to eat the only thing that will nourish her…human brains! She tries to stop her own feeding frenzy but a chain reaction has already begun, as hordes of undead are unleashed from their graves!
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna
• Audio Commentary with Actress Melinda Clarke and Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Rainone
• “Ashes to Ashes” – A Conversation with Director Brian Yuzna and Screenwriter John Penney
• “Living Dead Girl” – An Interview with Actress Melinda Clarke
• “Romeo Is Bleeding” – An Interview with Actor J. Trevor Edmond
• “Trimark & Trioxin” – Interviews with Production Excecutive David Tripet and Editor Chris Roth
• “The Resurrected Dead” – Interviews with Special Effects Designers Steve Johnson and Chris Nelson
• Still Gallery
The following review is NSFW…
Christina Von Belle is a youthful playgirl heiress who travels through the exotic locations of Europe modeling and making love to the men of the world. Her jet-setting life screeches to a full and sudden stop when a vicious and merciless faction of lesbian guerillas, led by their determined leader Rosa who seeks to inspire young women to live a life of liberated homosexuality, kidnaps Christina for a high dollar ransom because paying for the liberation cause is quite pricey. Christina will be put through multitudes of depravity seductions to pursue the heiress that woman does not need man. As the ecstasy of her captures becomes more and more difficult to defend against, Christina jumps into action, escaping when the chance presents itself, and finds herself leaping into the arms of smugglers and thieves who seek to also use Christina’s title for a wealthy pay out. Christina’s only weapon, her only means of freedom, is her young, sensual flesh that puts everybody, even lesbian commandoes and high society smugglers, under her sultry spell.
One of Francisco Lara Polop’s (under the moniker credit of Poco Lara) last known feature films and penned by the legendary schlock writer Harry Alan Towers (under the moniker credit of Peter Welbeck), “Christina” expos a mingling cast of B-movie stars and starlets such as “Return of the Living Dead’s” Jewel Shepard. Before Shepard was a blue-haired, punk-rocking goth chick ready to be munched on by brain eating zombies, the native New Yorker stripped bare as a promiscuous woman meandering quickly through hordes of wealth and a legion of similar status men. For much of Poco Lara’s film, Jewel Shepard is damn near naked the entire time, exposing her perky breasts whenever the opportunity presents itself. The same whip-it-out concept can be attributed for nearly the rest of the female cast: Josephine Jacqueline Jones (“Black Venus”), Pepita Full James (“The Story of O 2”), Helen Devon, and Anne-Marie Jensen. The male performer counterpart understandably lacks in comparison, but rounds out nicely with Ian Sera (Pieces), Emilio Linder (Monster Dog), Tony Isbert (Tragic Ceremony), and Emilian Redondo (Black Venus).
Christina’s sexual adventures turned passionate plights purposefully lays the groundwork in attempting to pave a similar path toward the highly popular French series “Emmanuelle,” its sequential films, and it’s cheaply produced spin-offs which simply focused around the erotic escapades of a young woman seeking to enhance her sexual experience. Also akin to the “Emmanuelle” series is the fact that “Christina” is an adaptation from a series of sexually charged books printed by Playboy Press. Yet, “Christina” failed to peak interest in spawning sequel additions, despite the high production value that includes exotically breathtaking locations in France and Spain and also the impressive car, dirt bike, and horse chases. To further be pro-“Christina,” the gratuitous nudity explodes onto nearly every single scene with Jewel Shepard’s tight and slender physique causing most tongues to go limp from gawkers’ mouths, secreting saliva with hound dog anticipation for more.
Though prevalent nudity thrills, the sex scenes lack that certain special something. The longevity of the scenes seem as transient as the Christina character, leaving more of the sexual intercourse to the far reaches of the implied sector than trying to push the envelope. The lesbian moments with Josephine Jacqueline Jones and Helen Devon cut briskly away to a dream sequence where Christina faints from the intensity of her captor’s advances and in these dreams, she’s metaphorically assessing her experience with black glove cladded hands rolling cars and tanks around the curvatures of her breasts and teasing the pubic edges of her nether regions. Another dilution of “Christina” is the stunts. While I mentioned the chase sequences were a refreshing surprise for soft core erotica, the hand-to-hand combat nullifies that pleasantry. The lesbian mercenaries fight each other, literally ripping the clothes from their hard bodies, to award themselves the pleasure of guarding, and seducing, Christina while Christina fights her way to escape from their enlisted clutches; yet, the choreography is horrendously slow and bad, resulting in more of an awkward contest rather than a test of might. I will say that the actresses did, in fact, do their own stunt work.
Intervision Picture Corp. and CAV Distribution release a region free, re-mastered Blu-ray edition of “Christina” in a spellbinding Hi-definition 1080p resolution. The widescreen 16×9 presentation only adds to the HD transfer without forcing to strain the image framing and clarity. Clearly more vivid than any of the film’s at-home distributed predecessors, Intervision Picture Corp.’s improvement bares ample of detail, pops the natural coloring, and balances the blacks amongst the original print damage from minor grain to centering scratches. A few times a grey-to-blue toned sepia interludes during more closeup scenes, but the vast exteriors of locations, and for most of the film as well, share in the wealth of the image upgrade. The Dolby Digital English 2.0 mix has varying levels that, at times, sporadically lower the dialogue which might have stemmed from misplaced mic setups. No hissing or pops detected, resulting in clear and spotless finish on the tracks that smooths out the dialogue and sports a rather snazzy synth Ted Scotto soundtrack, especially during more action packed moments. Finally, no extras are included with this release.
Overall, a solid piece of lost skin-er-iffic treasure dug up for display by Intervision Picture Corp. Never in my lifetime would I have guessed that Casey from the “Return of the Living Dead” would be fully nude, nearly full time, in a unique sexploitation gem entitled simply “Christina.” The Poco Lara directed soft core film might be based off the popular sleaze reads and trashy sex novels of the same name, but ultimately “Christina” just couldn’t gain any steam powered momentum on film as it so rightfully did in bedroom fantasies, leaving the kinky-lust and the misadventures of our heroine permanently in black and white of its literature bound kin.
The homeless twosome Caesar and his half brother Otto haphazardly take down a notorious serial killer and are awarded a fall-to-winter housesitting gig at a powerful California politician’s summer home where multiple families have been brutally murdered. Their good fortune seems ill-fated as the two encounter strange house employees, random levitating objects, and an endless supply of dead bodies. Tagging along with the brothers is their drunk and inattentive father Fred who spearheads his own agenda in a house full of secrets. When Fred ends up trapped on the other side of the spirit world, Caesar and Otto’s antics strive far and wide within their bag of tasteless tricks to not only save their hapless father, but also save their very lives and, perhaps, the entire state of California. In the middle of all the chaos, Otto is informed that his once thought dead mother is truly alive and discovers he was born with a hidden talent that’s soon to be pertinent to his current and dire situation.
My second “Caesar and Otto” experience compares to nearly the same tomfoolery as their “X-Mas” inspired horror spoof, except that “Paranormal Halloween” is vastly more superior when considering the comedy quality. Caesar himself Dave Campfield once again stars and directors the spoof that pays tribute to many classic and modern horror films such as “The Amityville Horror,” “Paranormal Activity,” “Halloween”, and “The Conjuring.” Campfield joins forces once again with his longtime sidekick Paul Chomicki as Otto to produce and star in the Campfield’s and Chomicki’s four feature film of nitwit wonders Caesar and Otto who resemble a one more tool in the toolbox version of Harry and Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber.”
Campfield pens more dialogue for Caesar who hilariously continues to generate a well-defined lisp while spit firing one-liners, comebacks, and insults at Otto and anyone and everyone standing in the vicinity. Chomicki’s Otto is the big lovable oaf whose on-going hunt for love in all the wrong places, but manages to catch a break in nearly biting the bullet by sheer dumb luck and stupidity. Campfield and Chomicki’s whole schtick isn’t groundbreaking as we’ve seen this kind of film before in “Scary Movie” and even outside the realm of horror with “Airplane!” Unlike “Scary Movie,” Campfield and his team dedicated horror icons maintain a sense of dignity and respect that honor horror more than just dumbing it down. My first experience with the “Deadly X-Mas” Caesar and Otto wasn’t a very pleasant one as I couldn’t grasp the scene-by-scene speedy pace, the cut rate budget, and the inexplicable reference, after reference, after reference structure and I was a bit hesitant in enduring another episode of their continuing legacy. Now that I’ve matured as a viewer a little bit more from two years ago, I can honestly state that “Paranormal Halloween” is calculated corniness and precisely patronizes faithfully the horror outlets.
Like the predecessors before, “Paranormal Halloween” contains the usual cast of entourage actors that coincide with Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, and Scott Aguilar as the fatherly Fred. Deron Miller again ends up shaggy and disoriented, Ken MacFarlane once again plays a guy with a J name, Avi K. Garg is calm and cool until he loses an arm, Ray Plumb quickly makes an appearance, Keith Bush sports a rad stash, Samantha Barrios makes another cut, and “Sleepaway Camp” legend Felissa Rose conjures up some on-screen time and this marks the second time I’ve seen her in a film that I’ve reviewed twice in a month. The credits also add other “Felissa Rose” type stardom actors from the similar molds such as “The People Under The Stairs’s” Sean Whalen, “Commando’s” Vernon Wells, b-horror vixens Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon, and Brinke Stevens, and along with “Return of the Living Dead’s” Beverly Randolph. An excellent lineup for a horror spoof of this size. Tack on a few cute faced actresses and a nude scene from Model Mayhem model Jin N Tonic and you have a decent, well-rounded cast to support this Wild Eye Releasing film.
The Wild Eye Releasing backed production “Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween” won’t be the last of it’s kind (a hint from the film suggests that Caesar and Otto’s Spring Break of the Dead will be the next title) from funny guys Dave Campfield and Paul Chomicki. A second chance or a second look never hurt anybody and taking a plunge after a seemingly disastrous first round with “Deadly X-mas” will now be deemed as only a fluke. With giggly-garbage writing, a cast of willing horror legends, and cruise ship filled of homages (or horror ripoffs such as the same John Carpenter “Halloween” font used on “Halloween” in the title), “Paranormal Halloween” smarts oh so good and doesn’t apologize for any or all of it’s budgeted quality.