Sunday, August 30, 2015

GHWP Live Tweet September 1, 2015 - 10 O'Clock Movie - The Lady in Black


     Get out your popcorn and settle in for another installment of the Gaping Head Wound Playhouse 10 O'Clock Tuesday Movie. And would you believe we finally have something with an actual gaping head wound in it? I never thought it would happen.

     Sometimes, you just run across a movie and take a chance with it without knowing anything about its plot, history or stars. That's just what I did with Lady in Black (Duo ming jia ren 1987). I can't even recall what movie on YouTube to which this movie was cross-linked, but I do remember it being a horror movie. I don't have a lot of experience with Hong Kong movies in general but have seen a few, and I thought I was getting into a fun little 80s Hong Kong horror story. Lady in Black boasted the great Brigitte Lin, star of Bride with White Hair, so I was expecting a potential ghost revenge story. I was completely off the mark, and it took me about twenty minutes to figure out just what was happening. What I got instead was an engaging thriller with twists in all the right places.

     The film opens with May (Lin) in a very tense Psycho-esque scene in which she forges a check, embezzling a large sum of money from her own company and cashing the check at the bank.

I figure that's a lot of money no matter what the exchange rate is.

     She succeeds with the plot, handing off the money to her own husband Kin to cover a gambling debt.
 
I hid all the money in my turtleneck. Plenty of room.
      This yahoo is terrible with money, but somehow he has a job with a big time land development company. I got the sense from the very beginning that Kin was supposed to be the sympathetic character of the story. He had fallen on some hard times, and nothing was letting up. His father-in-law mocks him endlessly, his marriage is strained, and things only get worse when the money his wife embezzled is gone in an instant. Now, Kin had drawn his own wife into his mess, and it seemed impossible to find a way out. With no other options and an urgency to get the money back into May's company before anyone knows it is gone, Kin and May travel by boat to Thailand to visit Kin's uncle, a supposedly rich cattle farmer. Unfortunately, the visit does not go as planned. Kin's uncle has all of his money tied up in the business, and Kin doesn't even get a chance to ask for a loan.

He just seems like a hard-luck guy going through a rough spot... at first.


     On the way back home on the boat, Kin disappears. May finds him on the stern of the ship, drunk and planning to commit suicide. May rushes to save him as he is about to jump, but she instead falls overboard, holding him by the hand. She pleads for him to pull her out, but this is his chance. May is the one that embezzled the money, and there is no way to connect it to him. He lets go, and May falls into the wake of the boat as a rope slashes her face and throat. Kin acts concerned, screaming for help after she disappears beneath the waves, and a search is made for May's body with no results. Her disappearance is written off as an accident, and her reputation is destroyed when the embezzlement evidence comes to light. Kin thinks he has a new life ahead of him, and he plans to lead it with a lot more ambition than he had in the past. He puts his father-in-law in a home, spends almost no time with his own son, and begins making moves on his boss' daughter, all the while pushing himself out there to get involved with two-faced land development deals that promise to advance his position and make him very wealthy. But this is the cinema world. Crime doesn't pay, and men like Kin can't get away with murder... or was it murder? While Kin puts the finishing touches on destroying his old life, he may soon come to find that he was just as irresponsible and inept at the perfect crime as he is with finances.

     I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I expected, and it helped going in without knowing just what was in store for me. I didn't even like writing up the synopsis of the first twenty minutes of the movie, but I have to plug my events with something. Nevertheless, this is one of those movies that I think simply needs to be seen, so I'm adding it to my little movie live tweet show in hopes that it gets a little more exposure that it deserves. It's a nice little thriller with some good payoffs, some heart-wrenching cruelty, and a few well-played nods to Hitchcock style.

     I've had this movie on my mind for a few months and felt like doing this write-up to give me a little extra incentive to get it on my schedule. I was afraid I might not be prepared so soon and planned to feature it in a couple of weeks after a few more Best of Spectreman rerun blocks, but as soon as I finished my synopsis, I looked over at Trash Tuesday's blog entry and saw their plans for a Hong Kong action double feature. It was a sign. Now, I feel like I have to do it right away, so tune in after #TrashTue to the #GHWP hashtag on Twitter this Tuesday night to find out just where Kin and May's difficult marriage is headed. The movie starts after a short break following #TrashTue's final film, so keep an eye out for a start time of about 10-10:15EST.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

GHWP Live Tweet August 28, 2015 - Midnight Spectreman


Selections:
Episode 44 - Alen Kyudora - Cosmic Plunderer
Episode 45 - Alien Pal Forever

     Under a blood moon, twenty women have been killed and their bodies drained of blood (reminder: still a show for children). Scars on the neck of every victim point to a vampire plaguing the city, but the extraterrestrial always stands as suspect number one even above the supernatural in the world of Spectreman. To make matters more in tune with the theme, all of the victims live in polluted areas. George has his suspicions, but the work day is over and he heads home for a good night's sleep (note that this also is the first time we actually get to see where he lives in the series). In the middle of the night, George is visited by a dark stranger that somehow knows that George is Spectreman. Could the theme song have been a lie all this time?! The dark stranger bests George in a scuffle... and then hits George in the face with a pie.

Is a pie to the face funny when the guy also threatens to kill you? Yes. Yes, it is.
      George finally gets the upper hand on his captor, discovering him to be a Space Patrol officer from the closest neighboring galaxy to Spectreman's home world of Nebula Star, and the narrator rushes in for the shortest and most hilarious exposition you've ever seen.

Not a member of the Fish Police, but a reasonable facsimile.
     The alien ranger has been on the trail of the space vampire Kyudora, a vicious serial killer that has drained the blood from countless worlds, and now Kyudora has made his way to Earth.

Even alien vampires from the depths of space have to rock the red cape. It's a rule.
     The ranger begs for Spectreman's help. Not only is the ranger unable to disguise himself among the humans to hunt his target, but he also grows ever weaker from a terminal illness. George agrees to help, but they are too late to save victim twenty-one when the full moon appears.

Supernatural alien monsters can only strike during a full moon. Also a rule.

     What follows is perhaps the darkest and most unusual Spectreman story of the entire series. It separates itself almost completely from the rest of the series, giving Dr. Gori and Karas a week off and focusing on some of the other horrors that exist in the universe. It almost feels more like an episode of Kolchak The Night Stalker than an episode of Spectreman. You won't want to miss this one, folks, and the fun starts Friday night after #Bmoviemaniacs. Stay tuned to the #GHWP hashtag for start time and other details.

Friday, August 21, 2015

GHWP Live Tweet August 21, 2015 - Midnight Spectreman




Selections:
Episode 42 - Solar Mask Arrives from Space
Episode 43 - Appearance of the Monster Kabagon 

     Rebellious brat children of Earth finally have someone they can count on when a mysterious alien called Sun Mask appears. Sun Mask lures some angry boys to his secret headquarters, telling them of his plan to punish all grown ups and purify the world so that the "innocent" children may rule.

Who could he be? My money is on either Elton John or Fritz the Nite Owl.
     Sun Mask hooks the children's brains up to a machine, using their hate to spawn a monster, but Spectreman is quick on the scene. The children's admiration for Spectreman, however, weakens their mental monster's power, and he is defeated quickly. Sun Mask sets his Plan B in motion right away. He gives the three boys a new machine that can transform any living human into a remote-controlled monster, and they pick their teacher as their first target, turning him into the monster Kabagon.

I'll win the science fair this year for sure!
    Also armed with a paralyzing gaze, the boys seem unstoppable, and even the Pollution G-Men are brought to their knees.

The eyes of a child.
     When even George is weakened by the children's gaze, there seems to be little hope of stopping Sun Mask's evil plans. But just who is Sun Mask? Are the boys going to go along with his schemes all the way, or are they going to start questioning whether or not he is just another bossy adult? If so, then how will he react to their betrayal? Find out tonight when things get really weird on #GHWP's Midnight Spectreman, following #Bmoviemaniacs.

Friday, August 14, 2015

GHWP Live Tweet Aug. 14, 2015 - Midnight Spectreman


     It's another night of giants with both #Bmoviemaniacs and #GHWP tonight, so join us first at 11PM EST when #Bmoviemaniacs presents Peter Graves in the giant grasshopper opus The Beginning of the End, followed by the final subtitled episode of Ultra Q available on YouTube. If you can't get enough of this classic tokusatsu series, then it is available in a complete DVD set from Shout! Factory. Once we bid farewell to Ultra Q, it's time for more Spectreman with #GHWP
 
Spectreman Episode Selections:
40 - The Grass-Whistling Monster
41 - Vapor Monster Dies at Dawn 

     Tonight, we move into the final leg of Spectreman. With episode 41 in Japan, the series makes its final title change from Space Apeman Gori vs. Spectreman to simply Spectreman, and it would hold on to some level of consistency until the final episode, even doing away with the revolving door of female leads and keeping just one until the end of the series.

      In this story, the kaiju action starts off hot and heavy when the gas-emitting Metanodon appears, controlled by Dr. Gori. The Pollution G-Men are on the move immediately to face the threat, but they don't have the full story. A little village boy named Kenny (you know how monster love kids named Kenny), armed only with a blade of grass, discovers that the monster is not only friendly but can speak. Metanodon manages to shake off Gori's control temporarily, and Kenny and Metanodon quickly become friends when the monster saves him from drowning after an encounter with local bullies.

Another monster with a frill. Those monster makers are real frill-seekers.
     While the G-Men scramble to find the monster's hiding place, George soon finds out that Kenny has been helping Metanodon evade detection. Unfortunately, the local bully children find Metanodon and rat him out, and Spectreman shows up to beat Metanodon within an inch of his life, all the while ignoring Kenny's desperate plea. Meanwhile, Dr. Gori, frustrated that Metanodon has given up his rampage of destruction, orders Karas to send another monster to finish the job: Magmasaurus.


You'd think there would be armed observation posts around every single volcano by now.

     A volcanic eruption gives Metanodon a stay of execution, and his gas breath turns out to be a pretty handy fire extinguisher. In the midst of the dust and smoke, Magmasaurus emerges from the volcano, and Spectreman quickly turns his attention to the new monster, allowing Metanodon to escape. The boy hopes that Metanodon will stay hidden at the bottom of the lake forever, but Dr. Gori's plans aren't finished yet. With Magmasaurus, he plans to blow up another large volcano to flood the land with molten lava, and Karas has an idea of his own to deal with Spectreman once and for all: to turn Metanodon into a mind-controlled time bomb.

Join #BMoviemaniacs at 11EST tonight, and then stick around for Spectreman action with #GHWP at 1:15EST.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thunder of Gigantic Serpent - GHWP Takes On Trash Tuesday (August 18, 2015)


     I was surprised, flattered, and honored to be approached with the offer for this unholy alliance. In the short time I have shoehorned myself into the live tweet movie community, I wasted no time revealing my major leanings toward the tokusatsu genre, so #TrashTue came to me when they decided to do a kaiju night that will live in infamy as "Trash Tuesday vs. Gaping Head Wound Playhouse." Bad and obscure kaiju movies are slim pickings on YouTube, but one and ONLY one movie came to my mind when I tried to think of kaiju synonymous with Trash Tuesday: Daai Se Wong AKA Godfrey Ho's Kong Kong giant monster spectacle Thunder of Gigantic Serpent. Lo and behold, it has been on YouTube for a little while now.

     


     I know there is no account for taste, but I'm the sort of person not willing to call a "bad movie" a bad movie no matter how much I may ridicule or riff it. Forgive me for lifting the veil, but typically any expression of pain is part of the act. I am a complete cinemasochist (insert shameless plug for Cinemasochism.com here). When it comes to kaiju movies, I won't hesitate to say that Gojira 1954 was the big daddy best of them all, but I'm also one of those people that often has occasion to drop everything and watch Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds for the umpteenth time for no particular reason at all, and I don't mean the hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. We're talking uncut Japanese with subtitles. There is just something about it that resonates with me. A lot of it is sentimental, but the movie itself had some sort of something that keeps bringing me back to it. I've even watched it in German, and I don't speak German. It had a handful of plot holes, a unique soundtrack, and a cat-playing-with-a-wounded-mouse style for a horror movie. It was weird, and I just love it. I also think Manos: The Hands of Fate gets a bad rap, so you know what sort of cinematic roads you may travel with me if you dare to take the journey.

     With bad giant monster movies, I have a sort of unholy trinity of favorites. Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds tops the list since the first time I saw it at age nine, but I ran across a couple of others in more recent years that I am willing to put very close to it in terms of being something that I could drop everything to watch again no matter how low the budget or how much Swiss cheese made up the script. One of those movies is Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century. I only just found out as of this writing that Yeti is on YouTube as well, and my choice for Trash Tuesday would have been a difficult toss-up if I had known. The third film is the horror to which you are going to be subjected for this GHWP/TrashTue team-up: Thunder of Gigantic Serpent. A complete plot description doesn't do this film justice because it is scattered all over the place like so much litter on a windy highway. I also don't want to turn this into a full spoiler-filled review because this is one of those movies you just have to see. What I will tell you is that it manages to succeed at what it strives to be: a matinee movie with something for everyone. This is more than just a giant monster movie. This is an experience for the whole family.

     Our story opens with a terrorist gangster named Solomon. Like all terrorist gangsters, Solomon wants to rule the world, and he has his sights set on a secret formula. Instead of delivering on what seems to be the promise of a big action movie, the story jumps immediately to a Disney-esque kiddy fantasy in a little girl's bedroom when we are introduced to Ting Ting, a little girl whose dub voice is perhaps the most annoying in giant monster movie history. Ting Ting loves reptiles as much as most any other normal kid loves puppies and kittens, but giant monster movies teach us there is no such thing as a normal kid. She brings home a pet snake and affectionately names him Mosler. Hiding Mosler in her room, Ting Ting gives the snake a pretty little bow to wear on his head, and the string operating him from the ceiling leads us to believe that he is more intelligent than most snakes. But what about that secret formula? It turns out that the military is working on The Thunder Project, a formula that can make any animal grow to massive sizes, and Solomon wastes no time getting his hands on it. This formula, however, isn't in a test tube or stored on some encrypted floppy disk: it's a glass box that just happens to look like an average, everyday aquarium. One plot convenience later, the glass box is in Ting Ting's bedroom as a new home for Mosler, but Solomon is still looking for it. Oh, and I mentioned the possible promise of action, didn't I? Well, look no further than American military agent Ted Fast, a violent loose cannon investigating the deaths of the Thunder Project scientists and hot on the trail of Solomon and his men. Meanwhile, the residual energy from the glass box has triggered a growth spurt in Mosler...

      As much as I love this movie, you're probably going to think that even Gamera vs. Guiron would be an appropriate palate cleanser after enduring it... and what luck for you because that is just what #TrashTue picked for their second feature. Join me Tuesday, August 18, 2015, at 7PM EST when it's Mosler vs. Gamera and #GHWP vs. #TrashTue in a kaiju smackdown double feature.

Friday, August 7, 2015

GHWP Live Tweet August 7, 2015 - Midnight Spectreman





Tweet Selections:
Go! Greenman Episode 52
Spectreman Episode 38 - Advance Toward the Sphinx
Spectreman Episode 39 - Operation: Break Into the Monster Zone

     Prior to Greenman, #Bmoviemaniacs will be running an episode of The Outer Limits, so GHWP may start a little later than usual. The last available subtitled episode of Ultra Q on YouTube likely will be featured next Friday. It is a true classic of the kaiju/tokusatsu genre, and, if you can't wait, the entire series can be purchased from Shout! Factory in a collected edition.

    This live tweet also marks the last available subtitled episode of Go! Greenman! This was a fun little series, but unfortunately only five episodes have been fansubbed. It seems appropriate that the final episode would be among them, so we'll kick off the night as Greenman must stop Lord Satan once and for all. There are a few episodes of Go! Godman available, but the series was, in my opinion, nowhere near as fun as its sequel. Godman had virtually no story or dialogue and was little more than just a long and sloppy giant monster battle. I may consider adding some to the rotation in the near future, but for now, we are bidding farewell to Greenman.

     Last time, Spectrefans, Spectreman was dead... at least as far as the world knew. This pushed the Pollution Research Bureau into a more proactive stance against giant monsters, but even their new equipment was no match for Gori's machinations. Spectreman returned, repaired and rejuvenated, but he sacrificed his ability to leave Earth ever again in favor of protecting the planet and his friends.

     This week, Spectreman faces an unusual foe when Dr. Gori changes tactics. The well of prehistoric creatures in the bowels of the Earth and beasts floating around in space must be dry because Gori sets his sights on one of the wonders of the world instead: the Egyptian Sphinx.

I warned you things were going to get weird.
      Gori brings the Sphinx to life, setting it on a rampage that draws the attention of the military, but the Sphinx is only a distraction so that Gori can steal a new form of fuel called Planium (likely an oversimplified translation of Puranium) from an atomic laboratory. The Pollution G-Men do their best to stop the Sphinx, but it always comes down to Spectreman to save the day.

Hey, no tail-pulling!
     Dr. Gori also starts unveiling some new equipment as well as some new henchmen that surprisingly do not resemble apes for a change.


     After two annoying kids get caught in the midst of the battle, Spectreman sacrifices himself to bring the Sphinx to a halt, but something is different this time. Spectreman's circuitry is damaged, and he does not revert back into George. This is both good news and bad news for George. The good news is that the theme song still holds true, but the bad news is that his tiny friends are going to have to perform surgery on the cyborg giant to repair him. Overlord must be on a coffee break. How will the Pollution G-Men handle their first verbal contact with Spectreman? Can they repair him in time to stop the Sphinx? Find out Friday night after #Bmoviemaniacs.

     This past Tuesday's 10 O'Clock Tuesday Movie only had a few people show up, and it was a shame that even a large chunk of the usual Tuesday night Spectreman crowd was not around for Immortal Combat. Regardless of the turnout, I still want to devote Tuesday nights to non-Spectreman material, and I have a few other movies that I still want to host sometime. I am not sure what this Tuesday will bring yet, but we'll see.

     And a week from Tuesday, on August 18, I will be involved in something else very special, but I'm not going to be the one to spill the beans on that. I will post my write-up for it as soon as the news is announced officially, but here is the only hint I have offered on Twitter:

 

Monday, August 3, 2015

GHWP Live Tweet Aug 4, 2015 - "10 Tue" Movie - Immortal Combat

     We lost a great man this past week. As a childhood wrestling fan of the 80s, I held Roddy Piper high among my favorite professional wrestling performers, and I loved him as an actor, too. I think Piper was the first villain (or heel, as the wrestling business calls them) I ever wanted to see more than a hero on the screen or stage, but he could play a hell of a hero as well when he retired the kilt and went into feature film acting. The man was a first class performer, and he is missed.

     I intended to take this Tuesday off and just show some Spectreman reruns, but the passing of the Hot Rod is weighing upon me too heavily. With that in mind, I am implementing something new a little early with the first GHWP 10 O'Clock Tuesday Movie.

I'm not an artist, and I barely stumble my way through Microsoft Paint. Don't ask for a lot in graphics.
      Granted, the first few GHWP live tweets were for movies before Spectreman took over, but I want to get back into the additional material I saved up from previous tweets and conversations. As a result, as stated in the last blog post, new Spectreman live tweets will be happening exclusively on Friday nights now after #Bmoviemaniacs. If Spectreman shows up on the Tuesday night schedule after #TrashTue, then expect it to be a repeat performance of earlier episodes on a night I am unavailable. I don't expect to be unavailable on any late Friday nights, but Tuesday evenings could be changing in the very near future.

     Surely no one in the #mondayactionmovie crowd is saying, "Hey, we already did a Piper tribute," so Tuesday night, Gaping Head Wound Playhouse spreads some Piper love with Immortal Combat. Piper stars with Meg Foster, Sonny Chiba, and "Tiny" Lister in this action spectacle that dares to tell you straight to your face, "Why, no, we're not cashing on on the success of Mortal Kombat. What could have given you that idea?"


     I saw this the first and only time paired with They Live as part of a Roddy Piper double feature and physical education night on TNT MonsterVision with Joe Bob Briggs on August 8, 1998. Although Joe Bob's Summer School should have catapulted MonsterVision into a long contract with its amazing guest stars such as Piper, Ice T, Clint Howard, Nancy Friday and even Stanton Friedman, MonsterVision was going the way of most horror host shows and would stay on the air only another two years before fading away.


     The televised broadcast version of this is available to watch on YouTube and highly recommended for the Piper host segments, but I will be presenting the unedited version. I would be watching this movie myself sometime anyway, so I figured why not invite anyone else to join in instead of taking a Tuesday night off from hosting?

     Filmed in Mexico, Immortal Combat is the story of a pair of hot-headed cops (Piper and Chiba) that are on the trail of a drug ring, but the murder of a fellow undercover officer pulls them into a plot of mad science and the supernatural. The investigation falls way outside police jurisdiction, so the badges come off as they travel to a Caribbean island to find the answers for themselves, uncovering Meg's growing army of unkillable soldiers.

Also featured: immortal Chippendale dancers.

     So join me Tuesday night for a healthy B-12 shot of Piper attitude, Chiba martial arts, and hypnotic Meg Foster eyes with Immortal Combat. The fun starts after #TrashTue's classic sci-fi night. Start time is scheduled for 10PM EST, but keep an eye on the #GHWP hashtag for a possible start at 10:15 depending on ample break time following #TrashTue.