Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bottom feeder: DeepStar Six(1989)

Just last night I managed to watch DeepStar Six(1989) on IFC(Independent Film Channel), nothing admittedly remarkable about this BUT the movie was presented in its original 2:35.1 widescreen aspect ratio.

I like a lot of sci-fi and horror movies which are made on a budget. Even a movie buff like me gets tired of watching the large(er) budget, special effects laden extravaganzas. One way I get my "budget" movie fix is by watching sci-fi movies from the 70's and 80's that were made with smaller budgets but also with directors who clearly put every effort possible into creating an entertaining film. DeepStar Six is one of those films, for me anyway. I can remember first watching this movie when it released to theaters way back in January, 1989. I saw it at the "Midtown 8" theater in midtown Atlanta(just north of the downtown area). The year 1989 saw two other underwater sci-fi movies of note: The Abyss, directed by James Cameron as well as Leviathan, directed by George P. Cosmatos. I like all three.

In DeepStar Six, directed by Sean S. Cunningham(who also directed 1980's Friday The 13th), a team of scientists and other technicians working on a U.S. Navy funded ballistic missile site on the sea floor discover a huge cavern under what is the planned installation site for the nuclear missiles. The lead scientist orders the use of explosives to blow up the sea floor above the large cavern, believing the cave in and resulting debris caused by the controlled blast will sufficiently "fill in" the cavern enough to make the missile sled install site stable. The explosion, however causes a large rupture in the sea floor, releasing a large and hostile arthropod which attacks the "DeepStar" facilities, forcing those working in these underwater structures to fight for their lives a mile below the surface of the ocean.

The "arthropod" is, as best I can describe, a creature that looks to be a mutant crab with large claws and pincers and an enormous jaw that is, I think the most menacing quality of the hostile marine monster. The creature has the ability to roar, obviously meant to add more menace to the monster despite the absurdity of any kind of crustacean or marine arthropod being able to roar like a land animal of some kind.

The score, by Harry Manfredini, is quite good and I like the cast overall which includes Greg Evigan, Taurean Blacque, Thom Bray, Nia Peeples, Elya Baskin, Cindy Pickett, Matt McCoy and Miguel Ferrer. Ferrer's character "Schneider" is the most interesting character in this movie: a nervous, jittery, humorless and generally insecure fellow who manages to get under everyone's elses skin.

The monster isn't revealed until after about an hour into this movie which I like. As to the overall design of the monster I'm not exactly overwhelmed by it but the creature overall serves adequately as an antagonist and main threat in this movie.

Much of DeepStar Six is fairly predictable action and acting but also should keep any sci-fi fan's attention for an hour and a half. Movies like this from the 70's and 80's have an admittedly distinct charm for me and for that reason I enjoy watching them on DVD from time to time.

I own the Artisan Home Video R1 DVD release of DeepStar Six(1989) but it's a disappointing DVD release as the movie is presented in a cropped, "pan 'n scan" 1:33.1 full frame picture. No extras either. There is a German, R2 DVD that features this movie in its original widescreen aspect ratio(w/extras) but it's in German langguage with an English subtitle option. Hopefully this film gets a Blu Ray release or at the very least a better R1 DVD release.

A trailer:

To buy the R1 DVD of DeepStar Six(1989) at Amazon click the link: DEEPSTAR SIX R1 DVD

Friday, January 17, 2014

A star is born: GORATH(1962)

For fans of kaiju(giant monster), Godzilla and other sci-fi movies produced by TOHO, we have been repeatedly rewarded (since 2006) with Region 1 DVD releases of all the GODZILLA films( 1950's/1960's classic era through 2004). Other non Godzilla Toho sci-fi films have been released to Region 1 DVD including Mothra(1961), Matango(1963), Battle In Outer Space(1959), Space Amoeba(1970), The H-Man(1958), Latitude Zero(1969), The Mysterians(1957), Frankenstein Vs Baragon(1965), Atragon(1963), Giant Monster Varan(1958), War Of The Gargantuas(1966), Dogora The Space Monster(1964) & Rodan(1956). 

Still, there are two Toho films I'd love to see get a Region 1 DVD release so I can ditch my Region 0 DVD-Rs(bootleg copies of the Region 2 Toho DVDs). They are THE HUMAN VAPOR(1960) and GORATH(1962).

GORATH(1962) is a Toho science fiction film and probably generally unknown among the majority of American fans who like sci-fi disaster flicks, a shame I think because Gorath is, for its time, a marvelous "space opera" and disaster film by Toho.

In this movie a mysterious, red colored and burning star named "Gorath" is on a collision course with Earth. The star itself isn't large but enormously dense and generating an enormous gravitational pull. Scientists from all the over the world congregate together to formulate a plan to save Earth from collision with the menacing star "Gorath". Once a plan is devised (no spoilers) it's put into effect, a colossal undertaking at the South Pole in the Antarctic. Even if the plan works the menacing star will still pass close to Earth ... causing all kinds of calamities here on our planet.

In the original Toho version of this movie a giant walrus named "Magma" briefly menaces the South Pole base of operations tasked with saving the planet. In the Americanized version of GORATH, originally released to American theaters in 1964(by Brenco Pictures...I think), the scenes with the giant walrus are not in the movie.

I own a VHS copy of GORATH mostly for reasons of nostalgia. I have the "Congress Video Group" 1985 VHS release. I first saw Gorath (the American version) in the late 1980's as a video rental. Here's hoping we see a Region 1 DVD release of this entertaining sci-fi film from Toho in the not too distant future.

An international trailer for this movie, courtesy of Cody Himes:

The Toho Region 2 DVD(Japanese language but NO English subtitles) can be purchased online at CD Japan for about $45. Click the link to see the R2 DVD for sale: GORATH Region 2 DVD-CD JAPAN

To see the Americanized version of Gorath on VHS(Congress Video and Prism Video releases) at Amazon click the link: GORATH on VHS @ Amazon

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Run with the pack: WOLFEN(1981)

One of my fondest memories as a teenager remains my frequent trips to downtown Atlanta(GA) to watch movies at the Omni theater. This theater was part of the Omni, which included a sports arena, restaurants and gift shops. Afternoon movies cost only .99 cents and among the films I watched at the Omni theater were Alien(1979), Scanners(1981), The Thing(1982), Prophecy(1979), Halloween(1978), Jaws 2(1978) and the first three Friday The 13th movies. I also managed to watch another movie for the first time there: Wolfen, a film directed by Michael Wadleigh and based on a 1978 novel penned by Wesley Strieber entitled The Wolfen.

The film's story: veteran New York police detective Captain Dewey Wilson(played by Albert Finney) is tasked with solving the brutal murders of a wealthy business tycoon and his wife in a NYC park, the wounds on the victims consistent with those resulting from an animal attack. Wilson works with a police profiler and medical examiner in trying to identify the killers. Initially suspecting terrorists, Dewey Wilson soon realizes terrorists have nothing to do with the murders, the methodical detective subsequently turning his attention to a group of native American(Indian) laborers. Dewey Wilson's investigation leads him to the doorsteps of an old, abandoned and dilapidated church where the police detective encounters a seemingly invincible, ages old supernatural force of incredible power and ferocity. (no other spoilers)

Observations: Wolfen, because of its title, has often and understandably been labelled as a "werewolf" movie. In fact, the ancient and malevolent force in this movie and the cause of the mayhem and murder is not a werewolf(or werevolves) although it is connected to wolves. The DVD cover for this film, which features a snarling wolf, is certainly evidence of that.

The cast in this movie is quite good. Albert Finney is effective as the world weary, hard boiled, gruff but dedicated police detective "Dewey Wilson". I also liked Gregory Hines as the quirky but equally dedicated medical examiner pal of Dewey Wilson who helps convince the dour police captain that there's something more to the murders than meets the eye.

Director Michael Wadleigh uses very engaging  "POV"(point of view) camera shots to depict what the "wolfen" creatures see as they prowl the streets of New York city's slums while stalking their prey. The POV shots are very similar to the thermography POV effects used later to depict the alien predator's POV in Predator(1987) and Predator 2(1990).

The full reveal of the "wolfen" doesn't take place until near the end of the movie which is also a major plus for me. The score by James Horner is deliberate, melancholy and often majestic, a fitting component to a movie which not only touches on the origins of these mysterious creatures but also goes into great and often gory detail to showcase their savage attacks on their victims.

The gore in Wolfen(1981) is moderate and just enough to remind those watching this movie that the 'wolfen" are much more complex and dangerous than a collection of roving wild dogs.

I haven't seen this movie for sale anywhere on Blu Ray yet. It will in all likelhood get a BD release sooner than later. Wolfen(1981) was first released to R1 DVD back in 2002. I own the 2002 Warner Home Video R1 DVD which features this movie in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio.

I highly recommend this horror movie for fans of this genre!

The film's trailer:

Click the link to see the Wolfen(1981) R1 DVD(Warner Home Video) for sale at Amazon: WOLFEN(1981) R1 DVD

Friday, January 10, 2014

All Smoke and Mirrors: Labor Force Dropouts Solely Responsible for Drop in Official Unemployment Rate

The Obama administration would like Americans to believe that the decreasing unemployment rate in the United States is the result of President Obama's economic policies. In truth it's because millions of Americans are no longer in the work force, most simply giving up looking for any kind of job. Blacks and women, two groups who voted to re-elect the President last year, are both experiencing significant INCREASES in unemployment. To date the unemployment rate for adult blacks in America is around 13.5%!

 All Smoke and Mirrors: Labor Force Dropouts Solely Responsible for Drop in Official Unemployment Rate

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Poll: Americans have little faith in government - CBS Atlanta News

It's no surprise that 70% of Americans recently polled expressed ZERO faith in the U.S. government. Truthfully, I'm amazed that 30% of Americans feel that the federal government is worth ANY positive sentiment. My guess is those 30% represent extreme liberals who would support President Obama and the Democrat political party no matter what.

Until there is full accountability placed on those in Congress and others working in presidential administrations as well as full transparency with and within the process of federal government itself I think most Americans will continue to view their government, and justifiably, as "do nothing".

Poll: Americans have little faith in government - CBS Atlanta News