Robot Ninja (1989)

Continuing our journey through the life and times of J.R Bookwalter, we’re following up 1989’s “The Dead Next Door” with “Robot Ninja”, quite possibly my all time favourite Bookwalter film. I just, REALLY enjoyed this one. it feels big, daft and aggressive and it just gives off this tone that I find quite honestly wonderful to sit through.

And, as I mention in the below review, I am just…Captivated by the restoration work done on this thing. having jumped from a VHS transfer to the new widescreen fully remastered version, it’s crazy to me at just HOW much attention to detail and love has gone into bringing this “Direct to video” campy action horror film into the realm of full HD. Theres an extra feature on the Bluray release of this that goes into detail around the work involved in restoring this and Its astounding honestly. J.R often says this is a film he wishes he never made (I mean…he says that about almost all of his films…) but honestly? I think the world is a better place WITH Robot Ninja in it

You can find copies of Robot Ninja here, but hurry! supplies are limited and I guarentee you wont want to miss this!

This poster/bluray artwork is newly commissioned and I love it so very much!

Partially Reformed Content #4 – (Over) one year on.

Its been a while. Just over a year or so in fact since my last blog (whats a couple of months between friends eh?) The honest answer is I promised I was going to try and do at least quarterly blogs after publishing the last one. I wrote at least a couple around the renovation project I had on at the time involving my work room. But despite writing at least 3 different versions of the same blog none of them really felt suitable for the blog or interesting “Man decorates room” could be fun. but it just didn’t really sit right with me. Then life gets in the way (as it often does) and because I spent so long writing those blogs that never got published I was left with the feeling that I’d only recently updated the blog (even though I hadn’t) so I decided to focus on Channel stuff over updating the website. 

Then I forgot the blog existed entirely at some point around November as home life, work life and personal life took over and it was only really around June this year that I remembered “Oh Shit! I have a blog on my site that I haven’t updated since I did my Room renovation blog!” then I actually checked the blog section of my site and went “OH SHIT!  I NEVER ACTUALLY PUBLISHED MY ROOM RENOVATION BLOG!” and; since June every few days or so I’ll be hit with a mini pang of guilt that I haven’t given you guys that sweet sweet 1-2-1 time that I really should. 

So to newcomers who’re maybe reading these for the first time. the “Partially reformed content” blogs are basically personal blogs, just mainly focussed around stuff that’s going on in my life, or been going on in my life. thoughts. Feelings. Its kind of the “Spam” of blog types. It’s everything from tail to snout with Now’t taken out. 

So; whats happened over the last 15 months or so? well; If we’re filling in gaps I finished the renovations on my property around September time last year, had a catastrophic hard drive failure that almost wiped Season 8 of my reviews clean off the face of the earth. My partner got quite unwell again and ended up in hospital a couple of times. I ended up more or less looking after her property for a good portion of time while she was in the hospital, which led to a massive backlog on the review front. Which all culminated in a mad Christmas dash in which I simultaneously lost my voice JUST before a big recording session where I had to nail 12-15 scripts in 5 days. which was fun…Basically I sounded like Tom Carvel for most of Christmas as a result.

The Family had its first Covid Christmas. Which; surprisingly, was much MUCH more enjoyable than the usual Christmas routine. Both me and my partner have VERY large families and I always try to book 2 weeks off at Christmas. which generally means week 1 is spent visiting all her relatives, half of week 2 is spent visiting all of mine, 2-3 days are spent cleaning and if i’m lucky I get a day to actually relax before im due back at work. It’s pretty intense and honestly, for quite a while it was basically kind of an enforced thing rather than an enjoyable thing. Don’t get me wrong. I like my family and I like my partner’s family. But there’s something about “Annual Get togethers” that just kind of irks me. it feels enforced, with the expectation being that you MUST go and you MUST have a good time and if you don’t pretend that your having the best time of your life you’ve ruined Christmas, and if you say your not going half the family won’t turn up and you’ll be responsible for ruining Christmas. basically; the option is go and fein interest or I’ve ruined Christmas. The only reassuring level of comradeship being that my partner feels exactly the same. Only she has anxiety so the feelings I’ve listed above are 10 times worse for her than me. 

But last Christmas? that all changed; instead of mass cleaning operations in expectation of “The family”, Instead of travelling up and down the country ticking people off our list and trying to be civil when uncivil opinions presented themselves, instead of spending hours adrift in other people’s houses not really having much to say, getting overheated and watching that precious leave time slowly ebb away. Instead. There was nothing. Silence. peace. Oh don’t get me wrong some members of both of our families kicked up in a “Covid or no Covid! It’s Christmas!!!” Kind of way. But I’m not even going out now. I’m double vaccinated. I certainly wasn’t about to go and sit in other people’s houses unvaccinated with 16-20 people who all have varying morals on what is and isn’t okay to do during a pandemic. 

Instead; last Christmas we had a bit of a general clear out which lasted about a day. My partner and I went to my parents house on Christmas Eve and stayed there till the new year. just us, them and my sister for a week of pigging out in front of Christmas films, drinking various flavours of booze and the occasional party game. On Christmas Eve me and my partner agreed to visit her grandparents for a “Garden Visit” (Basically we stood in the garden and they talked to us through the conservatory while my partner collected some home bakes and presents that all her family had dropped off at the house) we stayed for about an hour and caught up before letting them crack on. and on our side we had a rather successful Christmas zoom call with all of our households online for about 2 hours, where we did a secret santa, some party games and just chilled. In total what was previously a two week endurance marathon of cleaning and catching up became collectively about 3 days of light housework and distanced meetings with a handful of relatives with the rest of the time being an absolute breeze. I think it’s probably the best Christmas I’ve had in at least the last decade, and equally one that’s given me some of my most fondest memories. 

At the start of the year we launched season 9  of our reviews! Which was really good fun and around the same time as the launch my workplace got in touch to tell me that I would be working from home now on a full time basis. Essentially; working from home had proven so effective to work/life balance and morale that they decided that about 2/3rds of the workforce could do it permanently. Now I work from home full time and Im required to go into the office twice a year to both make sure my work equipment is as up to date as possible and to speak to my team manager face to face (basically to double check I haven’t outsourced my job) this was probably the best outcome I could have asked for.

 I’m generally quite an introvert around people i’m not too familiar with (im happy to be a weird and crazy dickhead with people I care about and people who’re in my “Scene” but strangers? Normal people? they give me the fear) I was in the rather unfortunate position when I used to work in an office where my entire team barring me got made redundant which meant, in an open plan office space where people hot desked. I’d quite frequently be with people who I didn’t know, who didn’t really care to know me either. I don’t miss the hustle and bustle of office culture, I don’t miss the morning or evening commute where I would spend 50 minutes travelling 2 miles. I certainly don’t miss having to defrost my car all through the winter at 7:30am every day from November through to February. In fact. the only thing I really miss is there was a goats cheese and Beet sandwich they’d sometimes sell in the office canteen that was just…*mwa* perfection. And…being honest. While the office itself was actually a really nice place to be. I’d take working from home and having the freedom and flexibility to work how I want hands down every single time.

And that really was the last big change in my life, and that happened way back in February. Being absolutely honest, during the pandemic has kind of fundamentally changed my relationship with time. This year has frankly evaporated. And I know before the pandemic I was prone to saying that. no. this shits not normal. I literally can’t believe we’re only roughly 3 months away from it being the end of the year. Summer was non-existent (collectively 5 weeks or so of blisteringly unbearable heat in high humidity. 4 of which happened between May and June and 1 of which happened in September) and a spring I literally can’t remember it was that uninteresting. I just…this years vanished. But it kind of goes a bit deeper than that. 

I have no evidence to back this up other than anecdotal ones but it feels like everyone’s aged about 10 years as a result of the lockdowns, the being stuck indoors, the uncertainty. My grandparents were thriving outdoorsy types who used to go on long walks semi regularly and there was barely a weekend that went by where they weren’t in some part of the UK exploring the towns and cities. In 18 months they’ve gone from up and attem sluggers to needing canes to walk any further than the bottom of the garden, unable to hold long conversations and irritable. My own parents have softened a bit themselves. from the “Can do” any job any time type to being trapped at home for the most part with weak joints, and just simply, a lot less able to do stuff. this isn’t just old age. And if it is then it’s positively collapsed on most of my family in the space of 12-18 months. these were fully functioning, sharp members of society and now; well…they look weathered. They look tired. And it’s quite upsetting to see honestly. 

I thought lockdown was going to be harder on me than it has been. I mean; I was an introvert shut in before the lockdowns happened. So when they came into effect I wasn’t exactly affected all the much. Basically the only thing that changed in terms of my lifestyle was that I ended up wearing a mask outside, I already washed my hands TONS before the pandemic (because people are dirty) but now I just wash them a little bit longer and a little bit more, and pre-pandemic I’d rarely (probably every other month) treat myself to either a trip to the cinema, a trip to the theatre, a meal out with the missus or in the summer a weekend getaway. And that’s really the only thing I miss genuinely is that freedom to just go “Right; Im taking my partner out for a nice dinner” or “Ooh! That films playing! I can’t wait to go watch it!” even now im fully vaccinated I STILL don’t feel comfortable going to these places. Because; if it isn’t the risk of catching covid from wherever i’m going that bothers me, it’s the idiots who won’t get vaccinated who continue to put everyone else at risk who do. 

Evil comes in all shapes and beardy sizes…

For me? Being vaccinated means I can go to the supermarket and not feel the need to bring a cattle prod to zap people getting too close away, it means I actually feel comfortable attending doctors, dentists and hairdressers appointments. It means I don’t feel *Quite* as fearful of killing my elderly relatives who’re also fully vaccinated. That doesn’t mean i’m hugging and kissing them you understand, it just means that I feel comfortable enough to be inside their house without it being a massive risk. 

But restaurants? Gigs? The cinema? Actual holidays? As long as the cases and deaths continue to climb steadily and idiots continue to protest their right to not mask up, to not get vaccinated and to not bother being responsible for their kids safety, I can’t engage in that part of society anymore…and that does upset me somewhat. So…for the most part I remain indoors, hoping that either cases start coming down or we finally hit a level of vaccine coverage that makes it less risky to do more public driven events. 

I mean; I say that like I hate being indoors. I do need to clarify. I am VERY happy to be a shut in! All this extra free time has saved me a nice amount of money, introduced me to some wonderful people online and it has allowed me to really focus on the channel and this website in a much more meaningful way than I did before. I now actually have a production schedule. a roadmap and projected plans. None of this would have happened pre-pandemic…hell this new blog wouldn’t exist if the pandemic hadn’t happened. So in that regard I’ve flourished.

And on that front, if we’re looking for positives with my co-host, partner in crime and best buddy  Ben being vaccinated not too long after I was, it meant that in August we were able to meet up and record commentaries for the first time since November 2020. And that was a quite wonderful moment. We’d dabbled with remote recording as early as May 2020 but it was a difficult job due to ropey internet connections and lack of kit. In November, Lockdown lifted briefly so we were able to get together for a one off  session to record 3 commentaries back to back. And in January 2021 we finally sorted out a way for us to remote record in decent quality with *minimal* interruption. We recorded regularly from Jan to Jul and in August we met up to record 2 new commentaries, have a catch up, play some Mario kart and drink a few beers. It really was quite lovely! I don’t know how often we’ll be doing face to face meet ups but I’d like to think irregularly regular would work for me! 

Over the summer I worked hard on our newest season of the show, I set myself a summer checklist and I achieved all but 1 of them which was put on hold. Basically with this being our 5th anniversary year (This is the 5th year of us uploading content and the 6th year of the channel’s existence) I wanted to try and do something a bit commemorative. So I decided I wanted to publish a book in an INCREDIBLY limited number compiling some of my favourite reviews from the last 5 years, with updated thoughts, extra behind the scene info, a few new exclusive reviews and all that good stuff. and that book is pretty much all but finished. Like; literally barring proofreading I reckon there’s probably about another 3-4 weeks work there just in putting the last few touches to it and adding in a new review or two more than the ones that are already there and it’d be good to go. I scoped out the cost of publishing and found a decent enough looking publisher within my price range, but then, just before reaching out to them to inquire about getting a short run on these books, they hiked their prices. And my “Expensive but understandable” initial quote suddenly became JUST out of my price range. So…the projects on hold. I have a few other things on the boil at the minute anyway so I’m not exactly desperate to get this done. it may come out soon, it may be another couple of years. But for now at least. It’s paused while I rethink my options. 

And that pretty much takes you to the present day. the new seasons been running for about 2 weeks at this point and has had quite positive feedback (thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to subscribe to the channel, comment and like my videos. It genuinely is very much appreciated and helps me keep the lights on and the fire burning) and hopefully you’ll enjoy the rest of the run as we go on! Im hoping this half of the year will be relatively quiet, Halloweens just around the corner and I genuinely can’t wait to do what we do every year there (Drink, get diabetes, watch horror films till the sun comes up) and i’m equally hoping for a quite quiet and chilled out Christmas! there’s a few irons in the fire that’ll be announced in good time around other projects I worked on over the summer, but for now lifes pretty reasonable. 

In terms of this site? It’s almost always a source of “Oh God I should update this” type facepalming. So, while I do try my best to keep things up to date. Don’t be surprised if the next blog isn’t a million years from now! I really hope to get the time to pick up my alternate history of cinema articles again at some point and of course I do enjoy a good politics grumble. But for now at least; all I can say is. I hope you all have a very safe rest of the year. I hope you’re all keeping well and I wish you all the very best. 

See you in time x 

The Dead Next Door (1989)

Well! We’re back and what a summer it was! filled with highs, lows and sipping lemonade by the calms of a gentle stream!…Okay not a lot of that happened, But it’s nice to dream! Basically; even though I said I was going to use the time to have a bit of a vacation the majority of the summer was spent prepping this new season. Writing for our first script “The Dead next door” began on the 20th of March 2021, with the earliest draft completed late night on the 21st of March. and; since then, this seasons pretty much been my life. over the summer I pretty much ironed out our October and November schedules with a 2 week vacation from work in August acting as a way for me to catch up on all the household odd jobs i’d been putting off for months while also giving me a ton of time to write my December episodes.

At the time of writing I have 20 scripts of a proposed 22 episode run for this series complete with 19 of 22 reviews fully edited and ready to go. Im not gonna lie. im in a pretty decent place right now! and the comedy dining experience continues to grow from strength to strength as we’ve just capped off our November and early december episodes (which still need editing!…I must remember to get around to that!)

Anyway! the dead next door! the opening review of an 8 part series looking into the career of producer, director, editor and seemingly all round swell guy J.R Bookwalter. I’ve been planning to do this series since at LEAST November last year. ever since I Invested in Makeflix’s quite brilliant “SOV Six Pack” boxset. and, to act as a kind of pallet cleanser before we dive in to 6 reviews of SOV madness It made sense to me to have a brief stop off to look at Bookwalters first two feature length productions.

While “The Dead Next Door” isnt going to fundamentally rock anyones world. what I’ve found here is that we have a good, solid zombie movie that, to me at least. sets the minimum standard i’d expect for a good zombie movie. this was a laugh, a real good time and I highly recommend picking it up if you can.

I personally prefer the original poster for this one. But I Cant deny that this poster looks epic!

Finishing the Complete Ninth Season (2021)

Season 9 was one of those seasons that feels “Right” to me. I mean that very much in a spiritual sense. theres no real metric that can be used to measure whether something is objectively “good” or “bad” but what I mean is that to me, it feels like all the pieces fit together perfectly, it feels like each review contrasts or compliments the other. with every season I do I often feel like there’ll be at least 1 or 2 episodes out of the two(ish) dozen I make where I either dont feel I got a grip on exactly HOW I wanted to present the review, or I’ll feel like technically I was a bit off the mark.

But this season, every review I feel like I got exactly what I wanted out of it, we had some stinkers, we had some hidden gems. but, to me, it feels like the work I’ve put in to slowly reshaping the series somewhat (Work that first began waaaaay back in Season six) has finally matured into a format that, for now at least, im pretty happy with. I feel a lot more confident about this run of reviews than I have with any other previous run, and I feel a lot happier with my work load management and attitude towards how I run the process. genuinely, the last 12 months worth of writing and releases have been some of the most enjoyable I’ve done in the 4 and a bit years of working on the channel.

Personal highlights of this season for me were “Nutbag” a film that genuinely caught me off guard for just how amazingly bad it was. this is one of the few times where BBFC suggested edits have actually massively enhanced what would otherwise be a fairly drab affair, Deathrow Gameshow a film that totally surpassed my expectations, and I feel utter remorse that I didnt crack this one open much MUCH sooner as it’d been sat on my “To Watch” pile for WAY too long. My special video essay on a recent Bootleg Video Nasty haul was a definite highlight for the year and got quite a few people talking about their own experiences with Nasty’s which was nice. and the opportunity to collaborate with old friends like Raymond and new faces like G.G Graham were frankly an absolute delight.

This season for me will probably be fondly remembered as a time capsule of a 6-8 month period where things, while still rather grim beyond the walls of my house, were alright. and I hope that comes across in these reviews.

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

Well! a little bit later than i’d have liked, but! i’m finally getting round to updating the site in line for the launch of the new series in a little over a weeks time! to say things have been a little bit chaotic over here while tried to get everything prepped ready for a reasonable launch date would be a bit of an understatement. honestly, its amazing i’ve managed to do it. BUT! we’re here!

Over the last couple of weeks i’ve been vine swinging from writing, to recording, to editing to uploading and all the other fun stuff that goes into making the channel fly as it does! AND! as is customary (Well…I mean, this is the 2nd one we’ve ever done. but hey! traditions have gotta start somewhere!) we’re back with another summer special to help quench your thirst during the drought that is my summer break! and this time joining me to talk through the frankly astounding exploitation grindhouse classic “I Drink Your Blood” is Miss G.G Graham!

I had an absolute blast working with G.G and when it comes to exploitation cinema she really knows her onions! seriously, she totally blew my mind with just how much she knew about David Durston and the context with which this film was formed. a true professional in ever sense of the word. I really hope I get to work with her again in future as working on this was a blast!

So! grab yourself a tall beverage of your choice and enjoy this bumper edition of “The Red Triangle” we tried to be as thorough as possible and at the time of writing this is the longest single film review i’ve done to date!

If you enjoyed listening to G.G here you can find more of her work (and I highly encourage you to go check her out as she’s simply fab!) at the below links here:

https://midnightmoviemonster.com/
https://twitter.com/msmidnightmovie
http://driveinasylum.com/
https://cultsploitation.com/all-reviews/

And we’ll see you guys VERY shortly for the launch of the new season on August 31st at 4pm BST (11am EST)

The poster may not be all that relevent to the film. but MY GOD it sells it!