Archive for the 'Feature' Category


Comments Off on Poltergeist (2015)

I’ve been doing a lot of reviews of recent films, but there’s a reason, and I promise to return to the vintage side of things soon. But, for now, let’s talk about a remake. A tried and true tale of time: The haunted house. Now, I see many reviewers that have panned this movie, but the way I see it is this: A remake is only as good as the way it’s received. You gotta take off the nostalgia goggles, forget the original movie, and enjoy the ride. So let’s ride, folks!

This movie begins like all haunted house stories does: Family moves into a new place, explores it, bad stuff happens. I’m going to try and not make a lot of comparisons to the original, folks, but some must be made. This time around the family is consisted of a middle class family down on their luck. The father is unemployed, the mother is a stay at home mom with hopes of becoming a writer, a bratty teenager, a young son, and an even younger daughter. Now, usually the first mistake that most remakes make is failing to update the material, and I’m happy to say that this movie does that very well. They have modern technology and modern day problems.

The house of haunt that they move in to is wired to the core for high speed internet and security systems galore. The only reason I mention this is because a good writer just gave us a whole lot of background with a quick and simple fact. But, for the family it just means one less expense, and for the viewer it means less montages of unpacking. Shortly after arriving and getting somewhat settled in the new couple is invited to a dinner party with some local folks that spend their time laughing at the poor, it seems. I’m not one to throw stones, but c’mon, the last time I saw this many wasps I was being chased by them because of a water-hose incident. Don’t ask. But, they do reveal that the land is built upon an old graveyard, but the graveyard was moved. Plus we get one of the best lines in the movie regarding an ancient burial ground.

While the parents are away the ghosts will play. Back at casa de haunt bad stuff starts to happen. We got a tree that is very grabby, clawing at the young boys window, wifi that goes haywire and leads the teenage daughter into a garage, and the youngest little girl gets visits from her “imaginary” friends. Unlike other movies, that spend a whole lot of time getting built up, creepy stuff starts happening from the get-go. This first night is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Then it hits the fan. The boy is assaulted by a creepy clown doll, the teenager is grabbed by muddy zombie ghost fingers, and the little girl stares into a vortex that would make Doctor Who jealous. Usually these types of scenes are ones that employ jump scares, but this movie does it with atmosphere, music, and a good buildup.

Another thing I like about this remake is the relate-ability of the characters. The father begins to drink, the wife begs him not to, and FOR ONCE IN HORROR MOVIES he listens, dumping the devil juice down the sink. The teenager is just as bratty as any real one is, and the two younger children are actually tolerable! Why do I mention this? Because they make you want to care about them. So, after a night of debauchery and hauntings, the worst happens: The little girl get sucked into the world of the dead. Or as some people call it: Florida. Just like the original the family decides that going head to head with the specters is a bad idea, so they call in help. First up on the list of characters whose names we aren’t going to remember: Paranormal Investigation Team College Edition.

Short chick, tall guy, and their leader The Librarian go to the house and start to probe, poke, and doubt. There’s even an exchange between tall guy and the young boy where the accusation of the search of fame is the motivation behind the entire thing, inferring it’s a hoax. I know my own choice of words would’ve been much more colorful, but the young man still shuts him down. What’s that, on the horizon? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it five time WCW World Champion Booker T? No! It’s….It’s….KARMA! Oh, sweet, sweet, and cruel karma! Following his callous accusation tall guy is tasked with mounting some piece of tech, whose relevance is inconsequential, in the nightmare closet with a drill. It’s at this point the spooks decide to let him know that they are, indeed, real. He gets up close and personal with a drill bit, inching towards his skull.

Needless to say, the small college team is not enough to deal with our haunters, so they call in the big guns. No, not some “medium” whose voice is so high pitched only certain breeds of dogs and four rodents can hear it, but a sturdy, Irish gentleman with his own ghost show. The kicker, of course, is his catch phrase: “This house is clean!” With no shame, whatsoever, I can admit that I chuckled. With no cameras in tow we find out that he is, as a matter of fact, a real medium. What I love about this character is the way he’s written, not like a superhero, or some paranormal badass, but a man with a gift, and very human. In fact, he and The Librarian are ex husband and wife, leading to some very well written dialogue between the two.

An earlier, irresponsible, purchase has left the young man with a drone camera. So they decide to send that in, after some setup, to try and find the young girl in the world of the dead. This is where the movie takes a cool turn, showing us what’s on the other side of the veil, and let me tell you: It ain’t pretty. Lightning! Chanting! Tables! Ectoplasm! And the final show down between the alive and the dead commences! But. No spoilers, folks.

With all seriousness I can say that this movie is actually really good. Putting aside all forms of nostalgia and preformed criticism, this is a hell of a ride, even giving me the willies once or twice. The material has been successfully updated, the characters and their interactions with the ghosts are much more believable this time around. Though CGI was heavily used, I still wholly approve of this movie. There are still some horror tropes woven in, but it adds to the fact that the filmmakers have not forgotten where they came from. Give this movie a watch, ASAP. And if you end up at the gates of the ooey-gooey, just tell them Deadman sent you. Stay tuned, folks!

roadside attractions

  • Finances are tight but they bought a house.
  • Never trust the realtor.
  • Teenagers.
  • Count the clowns.
  • Doll eyes. Stuffed animal doll eyes.
  • Stop counting clowns!
  • Don’t do that.
  • That’s a dirty drink.




There’s no gore, but plenty of gooeyness.




None to be shown, but there’s that one shot.




Trees, clowns, dolls, deadfolk. We got a smorgasbord, here!


Watch the trailer for Poltergeist


Comments Off on MegaForce

What more is there to say about MegaForce when I can show you a picture of Barry Bostwick in costume? Move over GI Joe, the solid gold dancers are Earth’s greatest fighting force.

This gem from 1982 reeks of the modern day Hollywood formula, ACTION > PLOT. “Here’s a list of scenes that will send audiences into orgasmic bliss, write a story around them. You know what? Don’t waste your time. We’ll figure it out in editing.” Director Hal Needham, was a well known stuntman, need I say more? The MegaForce team is a group of the world’s best soldiers and a guy from the Southern US. See, like NASA they all have flag patches to display their origins. Dallas, Bostwick’s number 2, has the recently maligned confederate flag on his arm. These spandex clad motorcycle jockeys are like every other superior fighting force that’s off the books, they get called in for the tough jobs. Save the country, save the world? Um, no. Thwart tyranny or remove a corrupt dictator? Not really. There current assignment is to bait a warlord into crossing the border of the current country he is terrorizing into one where the proper military can take him down and arrest him legally. I’m not sure why you’d use the precision and expertise of the solid gold dancers as bait. I guess they don’t want MegaForce to take this guy out because that would look like the military crossed the border and their authority?
The wrong stuff
If you’re going to wear golden spandex, your vehicles have to be tricked out as well. Instead of some drab military colors, they’ve got custom paint jobs on each piece of transport featuring a very 80’s lightning bolt pattern. MEGAFORCE! “But wait! That doesn’t sound very stealthy.” No worries, there’s some techno babble to explain that the “photo sensitive” paint reacts to the light. When it’s night time, the vehicles are completely black. In the day time, more obnoxious than college kids at a big ten football game. The motorcycles are Battlestar Galactica vipers minus the space travel, wings and Starbuck. These bikes are low budget 80’s futuristic, complete with machine guns and missiles. You’ll notice them during the completely still closeups that they cut to every 3.87 seconds during a moving battle scene. The bikes are introduced to us through the eyes of a general seeing the team for the first time. The general is Devin Miles from Knight Rider, and he plays Devin Miles the general in this movie which is why I didn’t bother looking up his name. Anyway, he gets a demonstration of these supercyles in which they demolish some multicolored balloons randomly thrown above them as they drive down a road. To do that, you need to do a lot of wheelies on your motorcycle. Eat it, Mission Impossible Tom Cruise. Frickin’ wheelies, man.
silhouette love
I love finding a film that is so bad it is good, and I started the Film Frown podcast to document my journey. Is MegaForce in that category? The bad part is there, one hundred percent. Every chance they get, Bostwick the emaciated unfed Barry Gibb impersonator poses like he’s just defeated world hunger.flying motorcycle His headband is neither holding his hair, nor big enough to stop sweat. He looks like the little boy from The Ewok Adventure all grown up. His sidekick is the spitting image of Andy Gibb, so I think they must be a Bee Gees tribute group. While the vehicles are well done, you’ll be surprised when they give you a brief look inside and there’s no shag carpet. Finally, near the end Bostwick’s motorcycle sprouts wings and he flies. It’s some of the worst green screen you’ve ever seen. Greatest American Hero is like the Mona Lisa of flying heroes when compared to this scene. In case you don’t believe me, some kind person on imdb does note in the goofs section that “he’s clearly not actually flying a motorcycle.” Some movies throw stills in the credits or bloopers. Needam puts the same action scenes we saw during the film in the credits? I guess they were proud of the battle that ended with zero casualties and a rainbow.
rainbow warriors
This movie left me in awe. There was so much bad in every scene that I couldn’t take my eyes from it or disengage my brain to form an opinion. After writing that sentence, I think that I have to call MegaForce so bad it is good. I mean, it has to be seen to be believed. How did this film get released?

roadside attractions

  • Barry Bostwick’s winning smile
  • vyger with hair
  • military holograms used for porn
  • wheelies
  • two motorcycle jumps, yes TWO!
  • Barry Bostwick’s shit eating grin
  • green screen skydiving
  • thumbs up for spandex
  • Barry Bostwick’s leering smirk
  • proto-Team America: World Police




The director wanted to make an action film that was good, clean fun where no one died, with tanks and machine guns.



+1 because we’re lucky to have a single woman in this film. Who needs nudity when everyone is in spandex?




To be fair there’s no beast, but the young Henry Silva is a monster at being the most likable bad guy ever.


Watch the trailer for Witching & Bitching



posted by admin | June 7, 2015 | Feature

Comments Off on Guide to Writing a Cult Science Fiction Film

So you fancy yourself as a great science fiction scriptwriter? Maybe the next Ursula K. LeGuin or Dan O’bannon? You’re not the only one. And that’s the problem – how do you make your screenplay stand out when there’s so much competition? Here’s a few tips on how to turn your average sci-fi manuscript into something special.
First of all, when you approach your writing it’s important to ask yourself why you’ve decided to write science fiction. For many of the greats, it’s because they started out with a “What if…?” And went from there, playing around with possible different realities in the fantastical worlds they’ve created. Through doing this, they can create analogies for concerns which are currently right at the heart of human concerns – whether it be globalisation, authoritarian governments or nuclear war. In this way, science fiction taps into our fears and makes them into something tangible, concrete and most of all – relatable. It can also shift light onto concerns which are out of our control. Look at how Orwell’s 1984 has affected discourse on Governmental regimes, and particularly surveillance? Works like this serve to add to a discourse and to a conversation. So – what is the concern which you want to bring to light? What is your “What if…?”

Another aspect to consider is, does your script fall into any genres outside of science fiction? For example, it may be a science fiction horror, a science fiction comedy or maybe even a science fiction romance. Knowing this will help you work out the tone and structure of your story, and it will also help with the dialogue. Most genres have a style and a specific kind of structure – also known as a story “beat”. It’s usually best, when you plan, to write out whatever genre you’re combining with sci-fi and then at the sci-fi on top, rather than the other way round.
If you’re going to write science fiction, then make sure you include plenty of surprising plot points and exciting, wacky scenes in order to throw in some fun and silliness. You can find ideas for these from other science fiction books, novels, or even from online bingo sites where many slots games have a science fiction theme. To find out more, check out other reviews like best bingo sites.
Create some rules for your science fiction world and make sure that you stick to them. Think about the time and the space, which doesn’t necessarily mean what year it is so much as what social and cultural stage in its development the world is at. In the sci-fi genre, the setting can often be divided into stages, which often take the form of the following:

First Stage – usually a very primitive world, no major building structures, hunter/gatherer society.
Second Stage – still quite primitive, but there are small communities with villages, farms and some technologies.
Third stage – you can find cities with their own entrepreneurial enterprises and trade links set up, as well as Governmental services. There is stability, but it is not over authoritarian.
Fourth stage – high poverty and crime, there is advanced technology readily available. Government is corrupt.
Fifth stage – post apocalyptic, full of pollution. Here the world is dying.
It is possible, and even preferable to have a world which sits between two of these stages.

As well as knowing the world that you’re writing, it’s also important to make sure that you’re aware of the rules which govern that world. Make sure that you know the actual science of the world that you’re describing – for example, if you’re on a spaceship, then what is standard procedure for leaving the ship and why? What’s more, if your character is justifying something with a scientific theory or principal, then make sure that you describe it correctly. This is the kind of thing which your target audience will pick up on immediately. But the most important thing of all is that you must be consistent. Audiences can accept an unrealistic world. It doesn’t matter if your science isn’t actually real, unless you break one of your own rules and create a hole in the story. If this happens, the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief will fall apart.
An important trap to avoid falling into is filling up your script with alienating jargon and over the top, nonsensical dialogue. Use dialogue and language which your audience can understand, and the plot will be much more memorable and easy to follow. Similarly, it’s usually best to avoid complicated and nonsensical sounding names for your characters, as these are unlikely to be taken seriously by audiences.
Finally, be realistic with what you can manage within the resources that you have. Most films struggle for budget, and with Science Fiction being one of the most expensive of all genres, you want to make sure that what you’re proposing is possible without having to resort to big CGI special effects and the suchlike. Apart from anything else, if your effects budget isn’t very high then this will just end up looking cheesy, tacky and embarrassing – better just to leave it out! Keep the content simple and instead use the action and the dialogue to tell your story and drive the main plot. This way, it will be much easier to get affordable funding for your film, meaning that it will therefore be much easier to get it off the page and on to the screen.
These are just a few tips to help you get your science fiction script off the ground. The only thing left to remember is to make sure that you do actually write it! There’s no point in having an idea if you never put it to page. Good luck!


posted by admin | May 29, 2014 | B-movies, Feature

Comments Off on “THX 1138” was Ahead of its Time

THX 1138When most of us think George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Duvall, we think Hollywood stardom, not B-movie anonymity. But most of us probably aren’t familiar with the film “THX 1138” either.

Released in 1971, “THX 1138” is a futuristic, ahead-of-its-time low-budget flick directed by Lucas, produced by Coppola of “The Godfather” fame, and starring Duvall. It could be argued that “THX-1138” served as the pioneer for the turn-of-the-millennium boom of futuristic sci-fi films such as “The Matrix”, “Blade Runner” and “I, Robot.”

Produced on a budget of $777,777.77 (Coppola’s lucky number was 7), “THX 1138” tells the story of a future where the population of an underground city is controlled by android police officers; mandatory drugs are used to maintain compliance and productivity; and sex is outlawed. Minus the android cops, it’s basically a pre-cursor to the 21st-century American public school system.

The townspeople all wear plain white clothes and have identification codes in place of names (which, as DeadSpin hilariously points out, was an idea that was way ahead of its time). Duvall stars as THX 1138, a factory worker with a female roommate, LUH 3417. LUH works as a surveillance monitor in a control center, keeping a watchful eye on the community (like Big Brother, but in this case, Big Sister).

The mandatory drug use suppresses any form of emotion and LUH decides to alter her medication while secretly altering that of THX’s as well. As a result, they experience emotions for the first time, fall in love, engage in sexual intercourse and conceive a child, all of which are illegal. Their forbidden love leads to imprisonment, which then leads to a daring escape of the city complete with attacking android robots and high-speed car chases.

The movie does a fine job of exploiting government oppression while at the same time providing a satirical glimpse into today’s society. In place of sex, people of the underground city are shown government-issued erotic images while using a machine to artificially masturbate. While sex is forbidden, the residents are encouraged to still have orgasms as a means of limiting distractions and increasing concentration and productivity while at work. Pretty pioneering stuff when you consider that modern research, like that noted by Adam and Eve, has found that “regular orgasms are good for you… orgasms reduce stress… they also boost the body’s immune system.”

Confessional booths in chapels show images of Jesus on a screen with generic, computer-controlled answers and advice for visitors. (Fast forward 40 years and we have a confessional app for smartphones. Can you say “visionary?”)

At home, each person’s medicine cabinet is monitored by cameras and a digitalized voice instructs people which pills to take and how many, a practice that is loosely—and not always accurately—performed today.

Unlike the majority of B-movies, “THX 1138” delves deeper below the surface into metaphorical social themes. It is a story of government oppression, of breaking free from your fears and anxiety, and about humans being trapped in a society even though the escape hatch is left wide open. When filming began, Lucas was just 24 years old living in southern California in the late 1960s. Given the circumstances of society in that time and place in the world, it’s easy to see how he arrived at such themes for his directorial debut.

The movie is actually an adaptation of a project Lucas worked on while in film school at USC. Like many low-budget projects, the film was not initially well-received and failed to generate revenue only to develop a cult following over time. The film was re-released in 1977 featuring previously edited scenes and a director’s cut was released in 2004. “THX 1138” is the only one of Lucas’ works to receive an “R” rating.

THX 1138 is a unique B-movie in that it supports a deep plot, explores social issues, and was the launching pad not only for Lucas but for the futuristic sci-fi flicks that dominate theaters today.


posted by Barry Goodall | April 8, 2014 | Feature

Comments Off on Poker scenes in movies

Poker scenes in movies

The movies love poker – but poker fans don’t always love the way it is portrayed on the silver screen. Writers and directors have often taken what can generously be described as ‘artistic license’ in order to rack the tension up. These scenes all work brilliantly on cinema terms, even if they sometimes have poker fans wanting to attack the filmmakers with a red-hot one.

Casino Royale

This is a prime example of that, as Bond and Le Chiffre trade a serious of absurd poker hands while facing off at Texas Hold’em at a swanky casino. It is the sort of scene that will have any dedicated poker player shaking his or head, while the rest of use are too glued to the OTT drama of it all to notice.


To be fair, a lot of people don’t remember the poker scene from this 1990 Martin Scorsese epic, which is not because it is not memorable – it’s just that it’s hard to get the scenes of bodies being hacked up and stuffed in car trunks out of your mind. If you can see past such lovely mental images, the poker scene is not notable so much for the actual gaming, as the stream of foulmouthed comments from Joe Pesci during the course of the game. Of course, for Spider (played by Michael Imperioli) the game ends up being memorable in very bad ways – no spoilers here.


One of many fine western movie poker scenes, again the sequence featuring Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) in a 36-hour marathon game, is remembered as much for his behaviour as the game itself. Doc knows he is dying, gets progressively drunker throughout the game (thanks to his scheming lady friend), but still comes out on top in game and wit. It proves to be something of a last hurrah, but it’s surely the way this particular character would have wanted to go out.

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