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Attack Of The Evil Hidden Gems From The Moon!
By: Mickael
Trying to find that next hidden gem of a film for your collection is kind of like trying to get a popcorn hull unstuck from between your teeth. You know there's something concealed, invisible, buried deep within the used DVD section of your local shopping mall's entertainment store. You frantically search bargain movie bins, just as your tongue futilely hunts around your mouth, searching for the solution to your discomfort. Seen it, have it, hate it; nothing, not there, no not it. Obsessively touching every film case, inspecting behind each facing to ensure that some lazy employee didn't obscure your treasure; your pursuit of celluloid bliss assuredly just moments away... finally, you've identified a target! Your tongue feels a foreign object and proceeds to poke at it repeatedly. Testing it for pliability. Ensuring that this adventitious article is indeed the element of your exasperation.
The cover promises excitement and stimulation, but you've been fooled before. You turn it over for closer examination and you read the synopsis, which relays an intriguing plot concept that immediately ignites your flame of fancy. Reading further, in print so small as to etch a grain of rice, you recognize the director's name. All requirements satisfied, you purchase the picture and proceed to play it as promptly as possible when you pop back to your place. Upon removing the offending hull from its hiding spot deep within, you feel at ease. This breakthrough has afforded you some comfort, a reward for your obsession, a peace of mind for your pioneering spirit. In this moment of mollified composure, you grab another handful of popcorn and toss it into your gluttonous snout. As I do every month, I'm here to bring you another handful of my (and soon to be your) favorite hidden gems:
For even more “Hidden Gems”, check out the rest of the series: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6 are awaiting you!
#7: Cry Of The Banshee (1970)
Vincent Price plays the wicked and tyrannical Lord Whitman, who will stop at nothing to hunt down a witch queen named Oona. Her growing power threatens his authority over the land, leading to a long and bloody feud that tears apart the town. Fraught with sex, violence, and depravity; this Gordon Hessler horror fantasy has more villains than heroes. It is the desperate, stubborn behavior of the two warring factions that makes this film all the more intriguing... this is the unholiest of holy wars, where the end is not dictated by who wins, but rather who loses least. The townspeople, uncomfortably caught between these duelling psychopaths, make for extremely sympathetic victims. The production values are top notch, with the costuming and set decorations lending credibility where the acting may lack. Highly recommended for fans of witchcraft, witch hunters, and Vincent Price at his melodramatic best.

I’ll try to sum this up in one breath: Fist Of The North Star is a live action adaptation of a popular manga series about a legendary warrior who brutally punches his way through opponents as he tries to fix his fractured apocalyptic world. Also, it is fucking awesome. Beyond the amazing sets and fantastic (albeit somewhat cheesy) action, there’s an incredible assembly of B-movie regulars including Gary Daniels, Malcolm McDowell, Downtown Julie Brown, Clint Howard, Melvin Van Peebles, Chris Penn, and Dante Basco (Rufio!), who all help make this an enjoyable hidden gem of a flick. The rogue's gallery of villains, including Costas Mandylor and pro wrestler Big Van Vader keep the action intense and appropriately over-the-top. If you want a kung fu flick with fantasy/Sci Fi sensibilities, this will appeal to you.

#5: Invaders From Mars (1986)
Tobe Hooper, the famed director of horror classics The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, had a brief love affair with Sci Fi in the mid-80’s which resulted in this gem. Told almost entirely from the perspective of a young boy who finds himself at ground zero for an alien invasion after a space craft crash lands near his home, he begins to notice the adults in his life acting differently, as though they’re mind-controlled by the aliens. Typically, remakes and adaptations are seen as lesser than their source material, but this remake of a 1953 classic is an improvement over the original in almost every way. The script, written by Alien and Return Of The Living Dead scribe Dan O’Bannon, perfectly translates the original’s paranoia into a very 1980’s fear of conformity and unchecked authority. The special effects from Stan Winston’s crew are another obvious upgrade, alongside Hooper’s superior direction. With a cast including Karen Black, Timothy Bottoms, Laraine Newman, and Bud Cort; this purposely campy homage to invasion pictures never ceases to entertain.

#4: Bloody Birthday (1981)
Three kids, each born during a solar eclipse, embark on a killing spree as their tenth birthdays approach. The children are devious and lack consciences, disguising several of their murders as accidents and exterminating any witnesses. Bloody Birthday is among the most amusing of the “killer kid” films from the 80’s, thanks to its inventive set-ups and clever kills. If you’re a fan of 80’s cheese, you’ll enjoy this oft-overlooked slayground of juvenile genocide, of adolescent assassins, of whippersnapper warfare? Wait, I’ve got it! Baby butchers! No, wait, preteen perpetrators! Fuck, I suck at this. In any case, this merger of Friday the 13th and Children of the Corn is not entirely unlike a convention of vampiric sausages: a bunch of bloodthirsty brats.

Hammer Films produced 7 Frankenstein films from 1958 - 1974, but it’s this, their final film in the series, that is my personal favorite. Notable for also being horror legend Terence Fisher’s final feature film, this story finds Baron Frankenstein living under a pseudonym in an insane asylum, where his illicit experiments can continue. The Baron’s newest creation is a hulking brute of a homicidal convict whom he saved after a suicide attempt. With the assistance of his gorgeous, mute assistant, he endeavors to combine the finest appendages onto this creature by harvesting the most talented body parts of his inmates: the hands from a sculptor, the brain from a mathematician, and others. Peter Cushing reprises his role as the obsessed Baron Frankenstein, alongside Madeline Smith as his beautiful assistant, and David Prowse as the monster.

#2: Curtains (1983)
Curtains is a derivative, formulaic slasher flick about 6 actresses auditioning for the starring role in a film at a director’s remote estate, where they’re systematically murdered. What helps this film rise above similar horror flicks are the inherent quirks in a movie that was shot over three years: 45 minutes of the film were shot by director Richard Ciupka, but the rest of it was completed by the producer, Peter Simpson. Ciupka wanted an arthouse thriller, but Simpson wanted a commercially viable adult-oriented horror film. When their relationship became so strained that Ciupka abandoned the project, Simpson collected a new crew and shot the rest of the film without him. Sex, violence, plot twists, and loose ends galore result; along with some exuberant performances from the stressed-out cast. A truly memorable, if uneven, film experience.

In this flamboyant feature film spinoff of the Ultraman Dyna TV series from the late 90’s, our tokusatsu heroes fight giant monsters and devious schemes. Vibrant imagery and dynamic action highlight this sprightly and delightfully unsophisticated romp in the kaiju genre. If you respect the modern, gritty giant monster films like Pacific Rim and Godzilla, but you wish their silly bones remained intact: this is the lighthearted flick you’ve been looking for. At barely over an hour long, it moves with celerity and acts as a great palate cleanser while you await the upcoming Kong: Skull Island. Recommended for fans of films like The Super Infra-Man, and Karate-Robo Zaborgar; or TV series like Power Rangers and Kamen Rider.

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