Octopus 2: River of Fear (2001)

This is one of those moments where I think I nailed my exact thoughts on this one perfectly through the video review.

Octopus 2 is not a good film. But just writing that really doesn’t do a service to just how craptacularly awful it is…while we’re not exactly in “Let’s ruin dad’s day” territory. We are worryingly close. Which does concern me…

All I can really tell you about this is that they stopped at Octopus 2 and having suffered through this movie so that you can get an idea of why you should avoid this like a plague rat all I can really say is, just don’t do it.

EDIT: So! todays been eventful! I originally wrote this post quite quickly while on a break at work and very shortly after I wrote it I recieved an email from youtube telling me that this video had been blocked worldwide by “Lasso Entertainment” for a 1 minute section that had been clocked as containing there “Visual content”.

Now; Apart from the fact that “Lasso Entertainment” dont even own the rights to “Octopus 2” this video is covered by fair use as I only use a small portion of the overall movie to help justify my opinions on the film. I use non of the audio (Not that that really matters) so I find it very difficult to see why they think it’s okay to hit me with one of these strikes. I naturally contacted Lasso almost immediately to try and get this resolved but they refused to respond to me and as a result i’ve had to reupload this video with approximately 1 minute and 1 second cut out. I can only apologise and hope that fewer of these kind of incidents happen in future.

(I much prefer the UK DVD cover for “Octopus 2” the US poster makes it look way more interesting than it actually is…)

Balance of Power (Hidden Tiger) (1996)

Balance of power was a bit of an unexpected hit for me in all honesty. I really wasnt expecting much in the way of this being any good (In fact I was quite frankly dragging my heels about reviewing this one because I really wasnt in the mood to review a generic martial arts movie) and yet Billy Blanks surpassed my expectations with this very overly macho but somehow slightly self aware martial arts action movie.

There was a turning point for me with this one. At first I thought my fears were all but confirmed as the film opened with a slouch into a generic “Bad guy” style affair, however by the time of the 2nd act training montage it was like a switch had been hit on this film and it very quickly upped the pace and quality of the production with a sweeping 2nd and 3rd act that were really quite enjoyable to sit through.

I’d struggle to say that this one was an out and out classic. Its still quite a generic affair. But I distinctly remember at the time coming away surprised that it wasnt absolutely awful (Not that thats a glowing endorsement exactly, saying somethings “Not awful” is completely different from saying “Is bloody amazing”

It does what it does rather well. Since this review I’ve managed to get my hands on quite a few of Billy Blanks films (Which will slowly be covered as I *Hopefully* go on) but the immediate thought thats struck me with his works is that it would be really helpful and general beneficial to everyone if they assembled some kind of “Best of Blanks” thin boxset…maybe 2-3 discs with 2 movies per disc on them. nothing fancy just something that collects some of his movies in a thin set so that people dont have to try and find them in dribs and drabs. I think he’d probably build up quite a cult following internationally if they were to do something like that.

In the US Im told both Blanks and his son are quite well known and run a line of fitness programmes. In the UK I dont think they’re quite that well known but im sure if your into your martial arts films that you’ll probably be aware of him…as for me? Well I’ve seen a few of his films but im always open to seeing more…

 

(I should also probably add that this film is off the scale in terms of being ludicrously cheesy)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

And so with this, My first set of Halloween specials came to a close. I really enjoyed making these episodes (So much so that I fully intend to do another season of themed episodes this October!) but I was always a bit concerned about what to do with this 5th slot. I was stuck as to whether I should Review this, “Zombie flesh eaters 2 (Zombi 3)”, “Land of the dead”, “Return of the living dead”, the 2004 remake of “Dawn of the dead” or that weird version of “Night of the living dead” that came out in the early/mid 90’s that was literally just the 60’s version of the film with additional 90’s shot on video scenes added into the mix.

In the end I settled on “Shaun” for a few reasons. I thought that it ended the series on a high note, I thought “Shaun” was a good reflection of the zombie movie genre in the modern day and it feels a bit like a continuation of the natural progression of these kinds of films within this series. We started with 2 different versions of “Night of the Living dead” and ended with a 21st century affectionate tribute to those zombie movies.

I also like to think that this is a good “Bookmark” point to end on. While it may not be for a couple of years I fully intend to revisit The Zombie Genre again at some point. And ending it here gives me a nice place to pick up from whenever I decide to reopen this series.

This period of time would also see me launch the first ever “TYTD Horrorthon” a 6 hour live stream of public domain horror films that amassed a grand total of 3 viewers for a few seconds at one point…and then 1 viewer pretty much for the remaining 4 hours and 55 minutes. Though doing this livestream was one of the first times I ever got positive feedback from someone for what I produced. A mother got in touch with me the day after the stream to thank me for giving her children something to watch before they went out trick or treating. and it really made my week. It only reinforced my personal belief that as long as one person comes away from it happy it makes it all worth it. I’ll be doing the stream again this year (Though as of yet I still havent decided what films will make the cut) and if your around and free at that time I’d love to have you on board! but I digress…

In and of itself “Shaun of the dead” is my favourite of the cornetto trilogy and further still is one of my favourite comedy movies of all time. The balance between the comedy and horror here is really quite fantastic and as I mention in my video its a veritable Who’s who of mid 2000’s UK comedians. If you’ve never seen it, even if you dont like horror movies, I highly recommend checking this one out.

 

(You’ve got red on you…)

Night of the Living Dead (1968/1990)

So begins the first of my video Halloween special series! Where every Halloween (Admittedly theres only been one so far…but hey! you live and learn!) I try to upload a series of videos either based on a monster theme or based on the season of Halloween itself!

Last years theme was “Of the dead” and dealt with 5 films featuring those architypical returners of the dead themselves, Zombies! Zombies as a trend have been dead now for years…quite possibly even a decade at this point. Zombies and Vampires have both pretty much been quite literally done to death since the turn of the century and I cant envision anything bringing them storming back to the mainstream public conciousness any time soon…

However! I’ve really wanted to talk about the initial 3 Romero zombie movies now for years and I thought with it being Halloween and there being so much to discuss about these specific zombie films…Well, the planets kind of aligned for me on this one.

The biggest problem I remember having with this review in particular was deciding which version to actually talk about…I’ve found that the ’68 versions been quite literally done to death and the 90’s versions decent but seems to be relatively underrated…One thing I definatley didnt want to do was 2 seperate videos talking about both films seperately but then; How do I cover them both and make it work?

I decided ultimately to cover both films as there own thing but to contrast them off one another when I felt I had something interesting to say about both or either one in particular…And while I feel I maybe could have gone a bit more in depth on the 60’s version in hindsight…at the time I just felt like it had been given enough of a platform over the 90’s version which just didnt seem all that well known…

(For the record: I still prefer the 90’s version over the 60’s version…I just find it has so much more to offer…)

The Descendents of Wing Chun (Fo Shan Zan xian sheng) (1978)

This was one of the biggest fake out’s I think i’ve had on my channel to date. I picked this movie up expecting basically a very straight laced Kung-fu movie. And in many ways I think in its original dub this film probably was a lot more straight played than the english dubbed version is. Popping the disc in however I felt like the floor had dropped out from under me. It became very clear very quickly that all the mysticism, philosphy and general profoundness found in the original dub had been completely binned in favour of funny voice acting and playing the film down. Im not saying that this film was intended to be completely without humour; there are moments here that defiantely have that vibe both physically and in the dub. But here it makes “On the Busses” look like “The Kings Speech” rediculously over the top but one I can ultimately reccommend in terms of just how weird tonally it is.

(My only regret is that the character “Fatty the Kung-fu Yorkshireman” never made it into another movie #Sadtimes)