Evils of the Night (1985)

One from the to watch pile…
Evils of the Night (1985)


Film: Don’t you just love it when a friend suggests a movie you’ve never heard of to you? Then when you get your hands on it you see the awesome cover shown above, replete with amazing Tales of the Crypt styled artwork featuring a subtle rip-off of Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon (by subtle I mean ‘glaring’) and find on the back it’s directed by Mardi Rustam, the producer of Eaten Alive, AND it stars Batman’s Julie Newmar, Gillian’s Island’s Tina Louise, Eaten Alive’s Neville Brand and b-movie legends Aldo Ray and Jon Carradine. (I have to also point out that that awesome cover was done by Tom Tierney who was America’s foremost Paper Doll artist!)


This sounds like it’s going to be a treat! That is, a terrible, awful tainted treat, like a rotted finger found by a cannibal behind the lounge.

Our story in this film is of a bunch of aliens (played by Carradine, Louise and Newmar) who have travelled to earth and quickly… very quickly… established a process where a couple of local crooks (Neville Brand and Aldo Ray) kidnap nubile young women and beefcake-ish young men and deliver them for processing as the aliens require human blood to survive!

Amazing! How did their species survive before they discovered interplanetary travel… maybe some concepts don’t open themselves up to critical scientific evaluation.

Of course, amongst their latest group of victims there are a few tenacious teens who may actually be able to survive the slaughter! 

Now as you may be able to tell from the synopsis, it’s a pretty daft story that has its roots in, well, every 50s American scifi film. In this film they have at least used the plot device of an older alien showing new ones how to perform their roles as leaders of expeditions as a way to convey the story to we, the viewer.

Mostly, the acting is deplorable, but thankfully the cast are good looking enough to keep your interest for a bit longer than a film this bad would probably deserve. The film is edited such that there are several nude/ sex scenes where the main cast aren’t involved so their demises don’t effect the outcome of the plot, but dropped 80s porn legend Amber Lynn in their is a bonus. The acting highlights would have to be Aldo Ray and Neville Brand as quite possibly the best hillbilly killers this side of the hills from The Hills Have Eyes.


This film has one real problem though above how bad the acting is and how generic the storyline is: the pacing. There are some scenes that just go on for far too long. The key to a movie that has tension is knowing when to tighten and release it, and this film doesn’t, so for the most part is becomes an unsatisfactory freakshow of hasbeens and neverwases.

It’s a strange film that’s as dumb as a box of hammers with a bizarre identity crisis: 80s soft core comedy porn a la Porky’s but with 50s or 60s scifi plot and ‘spaceman’ outfits. It’s ‘Plan 10 from Outer Space’ made real! I’m sure Ed Wood would have loved it!

Oh, by the way, the Milennium Falcon DOESN’T make an appearance in this film, even though the cover may suggest it! 

Score: **1/2

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Format: This movie was reviewed in the Gorgon Video DVD which runs for approximately 85 minutes, and is presented in a clear but unspectacular 1.78:1 image with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio which is fine, but nothing special. There is an occasional artefact on the screen but it’s not detrimental to the viewing.

Score: ***

Extras: There are three extras on this disc: 

The first one is the ‘television’ cut of the film which lasts a whole 8 minutes longer than the regular version, but unfortunately isn’t very clear as it was taken from a video tape master. This version removes all the sex scenes and Amber Lynn isn’t even here at all! Criminal!

There are a bunch of outtakes here but unfortunately there is no audio. The look of embarrassment on the old greats is clear and present though.

We also have a trailer for the film.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I probably won’t watch this again, but I am glad to have seen it and loved the surprise appearance of Amber Lynn!

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Murder By Decree (1979)

One from the to watch pile…
Murder By Decree (1979)

The cover to the Australian Umbrella release of Murder by Decree


Film: This is one of those strange films that I am SURE I must have seen. Surely during the 80s or 90s whilst in a channel hopping mood I must have stopped on this film. I imagine I wouldn’t have just paused but instead stopped once I realised that what I was watching was not just a Sherlock Holmes film, but a Holmes vs Jack the Ripper film!!

Now that I am a more refined and educated film fan, I now would stop for SO many other reasons. First, this film has a screen play by John Hopkins, who also did the Bond film Thunderball. 

Next, directed by Bob Clark! Film fans should know this name as the director of Porkys!, but more importantly to horror fans, Deathdream, Black Christmas and Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things!

Then the cast; oh, the cast! the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Christopher Plummer, North By Northwest’s James Mason, Deep Red’s David Hemmings, Lifeforce’s Frank Finlay, Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s Donald Sutherland, Dead Ringers’ Genevieve Bujold and let’s not forget Sir John Gielgud!!! I imagine any director of the 70s would have been swooning over such an amazing cast!!

James Mason and Christopher Plummer


The film tells of 1800’s London, during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, when a group of concerned storekeepers approach Sherlock Holmes (Plummer) and his faithful, long-suffering cohort Dr. Watson (Mason) to assist in the hunt for the Ripper even though the police, including Inspector Foxborough (Hemmings) would wish him to have nothing to do with it.

Holmes continues the investigation regardless of the constabulary’s objections, and in doing so comes across all sorts of odd-bodkins, such as a psychic (Sutherland) and a conspiracy that leads all the way to the prime minister of England, and even royalty itself!!

There’s been many translations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character on TV, in comics and on the big screen but in my opinion this is one of the better ones. Christopher Plummer plays Holmes with an amazing sense of subtlety, not like more modern translations where he’s more a combination of of an idiot savant and a member of a boy band, and it’s a mature portrayal. His relationship with the far more sensible Dr Watson is understated and whilst frustrating for Watson, there is and underlying sense of friendship between the two that is played skilfully by our veteran actors.

The leads skill has a trickle down effect as the ensemble cast all play their parts with an equal amount of gusto, and it makes the story convincing and thoroughly engaging.

The Amazing Follicles of Donald Sutherland


Essentially, this film, even though not Sherlock Holmes cannon, it still really feels like a proper Holmes story, and the combination of Clark’s direction and the aforementioned cast’s convincing portrayals of the characters make this happen. If I am to criticise this film for anything it is a trifle overlong, and sags here and there.
Score: ****

Sir John Gielgud


Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Umbrella Entertainment region 4 DVD release of the film, which runs for approximately 124 minutes is presented in a clean, but average 1.77:1 image with a matching 2.0 audio track.

Score: **1/2

Extras: Absolutely none! Not even a menu screen!!

Score: 0

WISIA: The quality of the actors involved make this definitely a rewatcher.

Necessary Evil: Super-villains of DC Comics (2013)

One from the re watch pile…
Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013)

The cover of the US DVD


Film: I’ve been collecting comics for well over 40 years, and I still love them to death. I do admit that I did have a period in the 90s where I did not buy any, but that was due to Image comics; not the comics or artists themselves as what they did for artists and writers in the industry was long overdue, but the style of their art.

I’m an old school, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Bernie Wrightson, Richard Corbin, Robert Crumb guy, so these new flashy artists had no interest to me, and when Marvel and DC started emulating their style, I was out!

Thankfully this didn’t last too long and soon I was back in the fold, enjoying the adventures of masked heroes fighting the good fight against evil, and being a bi-fan: that is, I buy both Marvel and DC comics… but why both? Why in a world where most people buy one or the other, would I get comics from both universes?

The answer is this: I love the realism of most of Marvel’s heroes having a basis in science rather than magic, and without a doubt, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four is still the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine, even though as of the date of this review it hasn’t been published for several years. 

On the flip side of that, I think that DC’s bad guys are greater than Marvel’s. Lex Luther is a great example: in Marvel comics, his equivalent is a good guy, Tony Stark, a weapons manufacturer who became Iron Man. In reality, those sorts of people are seen by the general public as villains, like Luthor. Luther doesn’t hate mankind or want world destruction, he’s xenophobic against Superman.

The man responsible for some of the greatest Batman comics ever written, Scott Snyder


In reality, what would mankind do if an alien came to earth? Luthor’s actions are probably more accurate. Acceptable? No, but when are mankind’s actions acceptable?

Another DC villain that I think is possibly the greatest villain of all time is Jack Kirby’s Darkseid. Darkseid is the dictator of a world called Apokalips, and is at odds with the ENTIRE DC universe. You Marvel fans think Thanos is something to be concerned about? Darkseid would eat Thanos for breakfast!

Anyway, this documentary, Necessary Evil, sits as a great companion piece to the previous documentary Secret Origins: The History of DC Comics, which was released three years earlier. Necessary Evil is hosted by Christopher Lee (the ultimate super villain?) and has interviews with creative types from all walks of life. From psychologists to actors, including but not limited to director Zach Snyder, screenplay writer Geoff Boucher, co-creator of Harley Quinn Paul Dini, DC editor Bobbie Chase, DC editor in chief Bob Harras and many many more.

Producer and author of The Boy Who Loved Batman, Michael Uslan


The film features clips from comics, cartoons, video games, animated films and major motion pictures, and displays many incarnations of the various villains, and is not just a great history of the villains of the DC universe, but is also an interesting psychological look at why we love heroes, but love villains even more.

Recommended, but it’s really only for the most devout of DC comics fans.

Score: *****

The US DVD menu screen


Format: Necessary Evil was reviewed on a region 1 DVD which runs for 99 minutes. The image is presented in a 1.78:1 image and a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, both of which are pretty good.

Score: ****

Extras: The disc starts with a trailer for DC’s We Can Be Heroes incentive (which is a pretty cool cause http://www.wecambeheroes.org), Man of Steel, the video game Batman: Arkham Origins, the DC animated feature Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and the DC animated TV series, Green Lantern, Young Justice and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and that’s the entirety of the extras.

Score: **

WISIA: Being a comic nut, I have to admit to watching this many many times.

An animated Green Lantern villain: Star Sapphire

Arcade (1993) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Arcade (1993)

The cover of 88 Films Arcade


Film: The 90s were a pretty dire time for this horror fan, and as an 80s horror fan, that may have been partially my fault. It the 80s we had become accustomed to every film becoming a franchise: Freddy, Jason, Michael…. even Full Moon Pictures, who produced this film Arcade, had their franchises with the Puppet Master and Subspecies films. By the time the 90s hit, horror was just potential series starting and failing; I’m looking at you, Brainscan and Doctor Giggles.

Those few early years of the 90s just were terrible, and even Fangoria knew that there was something gumming up horror’s plumbing as some of the articles, and covers of this period included mainstream films like Jurassic Park and Batman Returns!

Thankfully due to fresh blood like The Blair Witch Project (not a film I like but I appreciate what it did for the genre) and revamped old blood like Wes Craven’s with his successfully, cynical and self-aware Scream films, horror survived and didn’t go the way of the western or the musical, a topic discussed occasionally at the time.

Arcade is one of the not so successful attempts at franchise creation, but it does stand out as having, for its day, some pretty incredible computer effects not done by a big Hollywood company like ILM.

Arcade: Megan Ward and Peter Billingsley


Onto the story: Alex (Megan Ward) has had a rough year. First her mother committed suicide, and then her Dad, well, he should be committed. To make matters worse, her friends are a bunch of 90210-styled buttholes (amongst them, Seth Green, who still looks exactly the same as he does now). 

Dante’s Inferno is a club/ video game arcade that they hang out in, and some of them are quite excited to try a brand new virtual reality game called ‘Arcade’ which is introduced to them by a video game executive from Vertigo Tronics called Difford (John De Lancie), but there is something not quite right about the game.

The games antagonist, Arcade, can bring people into the game peemanentky, and manipulate reality to his own ends…

So I’ll get a few of the bad points out of the way first. The characters are the most facile, awful bunch of turds I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing. Seriously, they are like the worst of each of the jerk characters from the Nightmare On Elm Street series all put together in one film, and they grate on every single nerve you have. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if any of them could act, but there were less wooden performances in 18th century puppet shows.

Next is the character of ‘Arcade’ itself. Remember how the killer from Bad Dreams was like a poor man’s Freddy, and then the bad guy from Brainscan was like an even cheaper version of him? Well Arcade is an even cheaper version of him, but they spent a fortune on now-archaic special effects to realise him. He’s (it’s?) a taunting smartarse just like the rest of the group, so I am surprised he wants to kill them, and not just join their gang of butt-plugs.

Next, it’s Albert Pyun’s direction. Normally I like his direction, and count The Sword and the Sorcerer as one of my favourite fantasy films, but here it meanders along with the adore mentioned sub-par acting and clunky dialogue.

Arcade: Megan Ward and Peter Billingsley


Which brings us to the final issue. The packaging for this disc from 88 Films proudly announces ‘from the writer of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel’. The person they refer to is David S. Goyer, who didn’t just write THOSE two films, but also two of the best Call of Dutys (in Black Ops 1 and 2), and the Blade films, and the weird scifi film Dark City. This is not a careers highlight, and it’s not necessarily that the idea is bad, because it was great when it was a film called ‘Tron’, it’s just poorly executed, which possible circles back to the acting and direction.

It’s a circle of suck.

On the plus side, the computer effects, considering their time, are a fun look at where we were in computer graphics was at this time.

I must say though that my favourite bit is when the surviving kids meet the game programmer, who doesn’t look like a cool, hippy-nerd in a superhero shirt, but instead is a 40-something, porno-moustached nerd in a labcoat and spectacles.

As a weird aside, one thing I did find interesting was I kept getting reminded of the film Pulse that starred Kristin Bell and Ian Somerhalder, which in itself was a remake of the Japanese film of the same name from 2001. It was probably just me, but I just felt a few suggestions made by the film made me think of that one.
Unfortunately those couple of musing things didn’t make up for the rest of the film, and I kid you not, every 20 minutes feels like an hour. Don’t bother.

Score: *

88 Films Arcade title screen


Format: The reviewed copy of the film was the UK’s 88 Films region free DVD release. This film ran for approximately 85 minutes, and was presented in an average 1.33:1 video with a decent digital 2.0 audio

Score: **1/2

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this disc, but not a great deal. First we have a ‘making of’ in the form of ‘Videozone’ which Full Moon Pictures used to put on VHS tapes at the end of the feature. This one’s pretty good as it has an early look at how what we now call CGI is created for the film.

There is also a trailer for Arcade, and an 88 Films Trailer Park featuring trailers for The Corpse Grinders, Two Moon Junction, Blood Orgy of the She Devils, Hideous, Girl in Gold Boots, Robot Wars, Dollman, The Doll Squad, Castle Freak and Slice N Dice.

Score: **1/2

WISIA: I am never, ever, ever, ever, ever going to watch this ever again.

They Wait (2007) Review

One from the re-watch pile…
They Wait (2007)


Film: Even though for a period everything horror felt like it was a remake of something from Japan, some pretty good films came out, and bare in mind I am not typically a ‘ghost’ horror movie fan, as I like my horror more real… Or inbred… Or angry. It would appear that the so-called j-horror stuff hasn’t completely faded away and occasionally a western film (that’s one not from Asia, rather than one with Cowboys in it) will take some of the elements of those Asian ghost stories and make them its own.

They Wait is such a film.

They Wait tells of married couple Jason (Terry Chen), his wife Sarah (Jamie King) and their son, Sam (Regan Oey) who have to return to America from their home in Shanghai to attend the funeral of Jason’s Uncle Raymond (Colin Foo). They stay in Raymond’s house, which also contained their fabric business, with Jason’s Aunt Mei (Cheng Pei Pei) but after seeing visions of a young Chinese girl with black arms, Sam falls sick and is admitted to hospital in a coma.


Sarah begins investigating the situation and finds that Jason’s Aunt and Uncle’s business may have had a much darker past, and that her and Sam have a gift which allows them to see into the spirit world, but will she be able to find a way to save her son?

There is a lot to like about this film. The three main cast are likeable and feel like they could be a real family unit with some of the issues that a family of mixed origins can face (in this case, the disapproval of older relatives in the lack of Chinese language skills being instilled in Sam). The story is solid, and a few dodgy effects aside, has some great moments.

There’s a few editing faux pas, particularly in a shower scene where a showering King is clearly supposed to be naked and vulnerable, but booby bindings can clearly be seen several times. More bizarrely, the name of a hospital on an ambulance is blurred like a criminal’s face on the news in a rush-to-hospital scene.


There is a few moments of preposterous-ness too. Picture yourself in a forest hunting with a few mates when suddenly you get left behind. You hear a noise and turn to look at a tree that has mysterious scratches appear on it before your eyes, and from those very scratches a red liquid starts to seep from it… Do you freak out and run away? Does your mind snap, Lovecraft style, and cause you to crumble in a whimpering heap?

No, in this film the person in question STICKS HIS FINGER IN THE LIQUID AND TASTES IT. 

Yeah, because that’s what you’d do.

One real disappointing aspect is Michael Biehn is given second billing, but seriously, and with little exaggeration, is in the film for no longer than 4 minutes providing little more than a backstory for King’s character (she used to work in newspapers) and doing some research (which if King used to work in newspapers, she is probably more than capable of using Google).

Anyway, I quite liked the film. It feels like you are watching a j-horror remake due to its trappings be comparable, but with an original tale. When it premiered it was lauded as some kind of amazing horror saviour; it’s not but it’s pretty good.

Score: ***1/2


Format: This film was reviewed on an Australian release DVD, and runs for 85 minutes. The film is presented in a satisfactory 1.76:1 image with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: ****

Extras: Only a trailer.

Score: **

WISIA: It’s a pretty good western impersonation of a Japanese ghost story, and one that I have already enjoyed several times.