Ninja Busters~ 1984, Paul Kyriazi, USA


Upon first glance, Ninja Busters pretty much just looks like hollow attempt to cash in on the Miami Connection craze, by offering a similar lost film from the same era to the irony-crazed, Alamo Drafthouse flunkies of 2015, but the shocking truth is that Ninja Busters doesn’t actually have a whole hell of a lot in common with the synth-metal tinged, tai kwon do brawl fest that was Miami Connection. Ninja Busters is, in fact, a comedy! And it’s a good one, too!

And don’t get me wrong, I thought Miami Connection was hilarious, but that comedy was entirely accidental. The humor in Ninja Busters is intentional, and its off-putting just how successful this movie is at doing what it actually wants to do. We don’t see that a lot in the deep recesses of Psychotronic film! This is a highly entertaining, surprisingly charming little movie that kept catching me off guard by how hard it DIDN’T suck ass. Ninja Busters actually goes the distance.

THE PLOT~ Chic and Bernie are two bumbling, loveable con men who profess to be masters of the martial arts, but who actually get their ass kicked on the regular, and mostly just want to chase girls. Through happenstance, they enroll in some weird, California dojo (because they want to meet girls), and are slowly accepted by their peers over the course of three years. For a while, it’s all good for our boys, until they manage to piss off a local gangster, who sends his army of deadly ninja to take Chic and Bernie out. This movie is absolutely, 100%, a goofball comedy, but you might be surprised how fast things get fucking awesome in the third act.


So, what’s the deal here?

If we’re being fair, despite the fact that Ninja Busters has thus far failed to make waves quite the way that Miami Connection did when it was rediscovered, this is, in nearly every way possible, a much, much better film. I think it’s natural to compare the two, given the circumstances, but the superiority of Ninja Busters is pretty clear if you make an objective comparison. As fun as it is now, it makes sense that Miami Connection was panned upon its release, that’s a film which draws its considerable power from irony and irony alone, precisely because its actually just a shitty ninja film from the 1980’s. Ninja Busters, however, had even less of an opportunity to shine back in it’s day, and in truth, is was so much more deserving; if this flick had been available on VHS at my corner shop growing up, I would have happily watched it until the cassette fell apart. There’s something special about this movie, deep in its bones it’s just so wholesome and good natured, and I’d say the experience feels more akin to a wacky, upbeat comedy of the 1960’s than the glossy ass pop cinema that had become so much more common in 1984.

Our two leads, Bernie and Chic, have pretty strong chemistry together, as well, though they aren’t the best actors. Actually, much of the acting in Ninja Busters is predictably subpar, but it’s never enough to damage the film’s likability, which is considerable. Sid Campbell (who plays Chic, and who also co-wrote the picture along with William C. Martell) really carries the film, and its too bad we don’t see more of him in other movies. He’s kinda like what you’d have if Ernest P. Worrell had possessed at least a passable knowledge of the martial arts… And yes, that’s exactly as incredible as it sounds. Clearly, this is what my life has been missing all these years.

In a lot of ways, Ninja Busters feels less ambitious than Miami Connection, but that’s okay. The production is adequate, and it’s nice that the movie doesn’t overextend its reach and fall flat on its face like so many other movies from that decade did. Many of the sequences are legitimately funny, the dialogue is actually pretty good, and its remarkably easy to invest in the outcome of the story based on how likable our characters are. Really, likability is this film’s most precious resource, it really comes across that this movie was made with the best intentions; here is a movie that just wants you to laugh and have a good time, and unless you’re Oscar the damn Grouch, that’s probably exactly what you’ll do if you give Ninja Busters an hour and a half of your day.

It’s a shame that Campbell didn’t live to see this film finally be embraced by an audience the way it has since it’s recent rediscovery. Ninja Busters is a remarkable effort that deserved a lot better than it got, and in a world full of 80’s cinema that is celebrated ironically, it’s wonderful to find a film that can be enjoyed because of how good it is. It would be overkill to call Ninja Busters a masterpiece, but I can rest easily saying that I love this film, and I give it a strong recommendation.



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Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 – 1987, Lee Harry, USA


In 1984, director Charles E. Sellier Jr. brought us the hilariously controversial Christmas slasher film Silent Night, Deadly Night, a widely loved holiday horror jem remembered today as one of the best Yuletide bloodbaths known to mankind. This film was sleazy, and somewhat disturbing, but also inarguably entertaining, and it delivered what fans of the genre were looking for in spades. So, what are we to expect from Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, the direct sequel, released a mere three years later? How about a total piece of bullshit? Here we go, kids!

garb33Eric Freeman, you son of a bitch…

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is awful. I mean it, it’s JUST AWFUL. Truthfully, it’s a shame we even know about this movie. Silent Night Deadly Night 2 should have been forgotten instantly, thrown in the garbage, and never spoken of again. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened, and the movie was instead made relevant due to its now Youtube infamous “Garbage Day” sequence, known the world over as one of the 20th Century’s lowest points. Honestly, boys and girls, this fucking movie is disappointment incarnate.

THE PLOT~ Ricky, the little brother of the killer from the first film, is back, and big surprise! He’s criminally insane. As the movie starts, Ricky is confined to a mental institution, and almost the entire film is his therapy session, as he recounts the events of the first movie. Literally, the first 40 minutes of this film is almost nothing but rehased footage from the first movie, narrated by Ricky, which is absolutely unforgivable. After all that, Ricky tells us a little bit about what happened to him after the end of the first movie, which means that we finally get some new freaking footage. Thank goodness. It’s mostly just Ricky killing people while NOT dressed as Santa, which is exactly what you want out of a Christmas horror film, right? Finally, we’re brought back to present day, just in time to see Ricky escape from the mental institution and embark on his own Christmas killing spree, with a whopping ten minutes of movie left. It sucks, and then the movie is over, and you feel so, so very empty inside.

This one is shit. Complete shit, there’s no two ways about it. Firstly, 100% of what happens on screen in Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 can be sorted into one of two categories; first, there’s Category A: Horrible bullshit, and second, there’s Category B: Footage from the first film. There is no Category C. Literally, if what you’re watching doesn’t suck ass, that means it’s already been in a movie before this one. The recycling of footage is so over-the-top here that there’s even a scene in which Ricky and his girlfriend go to the movies… to see the original Silent Night Deadly Night!!! Aye Caramba. And no, it’s not post-modern, it’s fucking lazy. Secondly, what precious little original footage we get is crap anyway. The actor who plays Ricky (Eric Freeman) is just terrible, he delivers his lines with the naturalistic poise of “Macho Man” Randy Savage doing a Jack Nicholson impression. The only times that Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 doesn’t suck out loud are when it’s funny on accident, but that can all be viewed on Youtube in time saving condensed format. Ordinarily, I’m against piracy in all its forms, but the people behind Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 can go straight to hell.

Plus, WHY, in the sequel to the best Killer Santa movie ever made, do we get a meager ten minutes of Killer Santa footage? Unless we count the footage rehashed from part one, which we don’t, nothing anyone gives a shit about happens in this movie until the very end, and 99% of Ricky’s rampage, meager as it is, is spent with him sauntering around in freaking street clothes. How could this mistake have been made?! That’s like if they made a sequel to E.T., and all it was was footage from the first movie, intercut with information about how helicopters are built. How could you not know what your audience wanted to see?!?!

Garbage day indeed, Eric Freeman.

rick 1







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Furious~ 1984, Tim Everitt, Tom Sartori, USA


DAMN. Furious has got to be one the most extreme WTF films I’ve ever seen. I have no idea what sort of trama the human brain would need to have endured in order for it to properly process this film’s plot, if it even has one. This this is madly, wildly incoherent.

THE PLOT~ Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. The caption on the DVD case reads: “KARATE HEROES FIGHT ALIENS FOR CONTROL OF THE ASTRAL PLANE.”  Really? Alright. I really didn’t get that out of this, but okay. That’s what it’s about, I guess. Not sure when that happens, but there ya have it.

It’s horribly made, of course, but we have bigger fish to fry. The real story here is that Furious presents you with the most abstract form of narrative ever, and it’s not deliberate. Don’t confuse whatever the fuck is going on here with the intentional surrealism seen in films like El Topo or Eraserhead, Furious is just straight nonsense, and it happened because some people just aren’t cut out for film making. The truth hurts.

Furious_PosterNo one really acts in this movie. They’re just on camera sometimes. There’s a lot of karate, but the story operates on its own internal system of logic, which no living human can decode. There’s almost no dialogue at all, and when there is, it’s often a short phrases, which are then repeated over and over, about a thousand times. For instance, at one point, Master Chan whispers the words “Simon…. Go home.”…  For like, an hour. Once would have been enough, but no… In a movie where almost nothing is said, we get “Simon… Go home.” about one hundred and fifty times. And what is happening while Master Chan repeats the shit out of his line, you ask? Well, Simon stands silent on a beach, looking out to sea, while Master Chan slowly gets further and further away from him, even though he doesn’t actually move. Yeah! Furious is FULL of stuff just like that. This film had to have been directed by people uniquely incapable of understanding just when exactly they had effectively communicated an idea to their audience. The result is that 97% of the movie is so under-explained that there’s literally no logic holding the plot together at all, and the remaining 3% is just relentlessly hammered into your head without mercy. It’s like absolutely nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Want another example? Happy to oblige! Later on in the film, Simon decides to scope out the bad guy’s base of operations, which appears to be an office building located in the middle of nowhere. Upon arrival, he finds a hiding spot near the main entrance, and proceeds to case the joint (some of this is speculation). As he watches the front door, which is flanked by two completely motionless guards, Simon witnesses a man slowly sneak out, walk in a straight line away from the building, and disappear off screen, all the while holding a, white, clucking chicken underneath his right arm…


Then, this exact thing happens again, less than a minute later. Exactly the same thing. And then again. It happens AGAIN, SEVERAL TIMES. Why!?!? What the fuck is going on!?!? Are we supposed to understand this?!?! Is this a glitch in the Matrix?!? Is it a glitch in my own brain!?! Is Furious even a real movie!??!

Untitled-3Fuzzy, because the entire movie is.

So, having just Deja Vu’ed his ass off with the broad-daylight chicken bandit for a solid five minutes, Simon then proceeds to grappling hook his way into the building, where he witnesses even more chicken-related madness. Apparently, the bad guys in Furious are turning people into chickens. Why, I don’t know, but that’s what they’re doing, and in order to accomplish this, they have a wizard with a rad mustache blast their prisoners with fireballs, which, seemingly, transform his victims into chickens. I guess we’re supposed to see this and somehow connect it with the chicken related insanity we saw moments earlier, but please excuse me if I feel like this whole thing could warrant further explanation.


A few scenes later, Simon ends up locked in a mystical Kung Fu battle with this mustachioed wizard man, and we learn that actually, he can just shoot chickens out of his fingertips, too. That’s just part of his fighting style, blasting chickens at people. So, then we’re forced to rethink the earlier scene; was he really turning people into chickens, or was he just shooting them with chickens, and when the chickens hit you, you disappear? Or maybe can he turn you into a chicken AND shoot chickens out of his fingers? Could be both? It’s unclear! Everything is unclear! What the hell is happening?!?! Seconds later, the wizard has one of this fireballs ricocheted at him, and he’s transformed into… a pig! Why a pig? Why not a chicken? Why anything?!  And these are the types of questions that Furious forces to you ask yourself, and if you want any kind of explanation, well… You can just fucking forget about it.

This is the experience that Furious provides, and these are but a few examples. The whole damn movie offers a most bountiful supply of nonsense, and how that makes you feel is really sort of up to you. I found myself more frustrated than anything else, but if you’re looking for a unique experience, then I submit Furious for your consideration. I hope it’s understood that this is in no way meant as an endorsement. Furious49


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Krampus~ 2015, Michael Dougherty, USA



Oh boy. Everybody is just SO excited for Krampus. Krampus this, Krampus that, for years, this has been going on. I had my reservations with this one, but  Krampus actually starts off on the right track, and that temporarily eased my concerns, and had me thinking, “hey, maybe this is going to be a good movie after all.” What I found, however, was that while all of my initial gripes with the film quietly began to fade into the background, a new list of unexpected, yet equally fatal flaws began to form, and these left Krampus dead on arrival anyway. I swear I have never seen a movie that so expertly lined up the nail, raised the hammer, took aim, and then just all-out refused to drive it home in all my days. Krampus has absolutely no guts, it’s all set up and no execution. This movie is a spineless insult to its Alpine Bogeyman source material, and to movie-goers alike.


Krampus is the newest Holiday themed horror jam from director Michael Dougherty, the same dude who brought us Trick R Treat back in 2007. This time around Doughtery, goes after Christmas, and gives us a film based on America’s new-found love affair with a Centuries old folk custom from Bavaria and Austria, which the Internet culture of 2015 has mangled and debased, so that it could better fit the role that America requires of it, not unlike an impatient child, forcing a puzzle piece into a spot where it doesn’t belong. It completely sucks as hard as anything possibly could, which is neither here for there. At this point, Krampus isn’t even the first of these movies to have been made,  and it won’t be the last. This trend will continue for years. This is my private Hell.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 22.58.31This kid knows what I’m talkin’ about.

THE PLOT~ As said above, Krampus starts strong, real strong. The first act of the film is centered around exploring just what a despicable, irredeemable race of shit heads human beings really are. Doughtery wisely makes use of the now all too infamous annual Black Friday shopping Massacres, which showcases many of humanity’s worst qualities, and which, ironically, also heralds the start of a Holiday season which is meant to stand forever as a testament to the inherent goodness inside all of us. Let’s give Dougherty credit; this is a fantastic place to open on for a film about a an ancient, Yuletide Demon who punishes the wicked for their crimes. He’s made his point loud and clear, we all deserve a Krampus. So far so good.

From there, though, we lose quite a bit of traction, and the film quickly devolves into a more cookie cutter horror scenario. We’ve got a family full of selfish, hideous troglodytes, who find themselves barricaded inside their home, fighting to survive as a fierce and unexpected blizzard turns their once peaceful neighborhood into an innavigable hell-scape of darkness and frost. Of course, we all know that this blizzard is actually Krampus’ doing, he’s here with his army of Christmas helpers (the hell?) to slowly murder each member of this family, one by one, just like the real Krampus does (no he doesn’t.). From there, it’s all formula. They get picked off one by one, all the while learning to appreciate one another more, which is a major theme of the film: when time gets tough, you understand how important family really is. Which is fine.

The acting is actually really great across the board, and the movie is well made, the practical effects especially. This isn’t a movie that didn’t do anything right, and that’s actually what’s so frustrating about the whole ordeal, It was well within Krampus’ power to be really, really good. There are a lot of Christmas themed horror movies out there, but not all of them are all that great. Krampus could have done it, this could have been one of the best of the batch, even taking into account how foolishly mishandled the source material was, but they just won’t cross the threshold. Krampus makes it all the way to the finish line, stops dead in its tracks, and just stares blankly into space. “This is as far as I go, audience,” the movie says. And it’s not far enough!

MV5BOTY1OTE5NTAxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjY3Njc3NjE@._V1_SX640_SY720_See how cool that looks? How did this manage to suck!?

The biggest drawback, as I mentioned above, is just how spineless this movie really is. There are moments throughout the picture when Krampus is briefly very awesome, the introduction of The Krampster himself, for instance, stands out as being pretty excellent, but these moments come and go, and they’re never as potent as they ought to be. Krampus displays an offputtingly blatant hesitancy to go “full-horror,” and there are added measures taken throughout to soften the blow each and every time the film get’s a little bit too scary. A great example of that would be the introduction of the Jack In The Box monster, which is actually terrifying as all fuck, except that when they hit us with the big reveal; the movie plays it for laughs, which totally ruins the moment. That’s one example, but the entire movie works that way, each and every time things get awesome, Krampus defeats itself with a flimsy joke, and that might have been just fine, except that this movie isn’t at all funny. So, what we have is a film that is neither fish nor fowl, Krampus is forever caught between two polar opposites and unable to satisfy the requirements of either. It totally sucks!

Here’s maybe the best way to say it: In this movie, Krampus has been made more similar to Santa Claus than he actually is in Germanic lore, and this is because these added similarities draw attention to the startling ways in which these two characters differ, and it’s that off-kilter familiarity which makes him scary. This is a fitting metaphor for the film as a whole. Krampus stings extra hard, because as much as it sucks, it frequently reminds us of the awesome film it could and should be, but isn’t.

Bear-1That thing looks like it was purchased at a damn Hot Topic… And by now, it probably can be.

And the ending is easily the most maddening part. As strong as the first act is, things fall apart super fast as we reach act three, and Doughtery concludes the film by Freddy Krugering us as hard as we’ve ever been Freddy Krugered before. It’s a cop-out, plain and simple, and it’s profoundly, appallingly lame. Really and truly, you guys, this is the weakest shit I’ve seen in a VERY long time. I walked out of Krampus bitter and dissatisfied… Although, to be fair, that’s also how I walked in.

All things considered, the real tragedy of Krampus is that this film absolutely reeks of “cash grab.” I know we all want to have fun, but let’s face the facts, this movie is a clear and transparent attempt by a director who saw an opportunity to advance his career, and took it. By any and all logic, this should have been a wildly different product; but instead of the horror movie we wanted, what we got a studio friendly attempt at crafting a commercial product, which would capitalize on America’s love affair with Big Papa Kramp, and elevate Dougherty’s career out off the slums he’s been stuck in ever since Superman Returns valiantly shit the bed. And it worked, lo and behold, as I did my rounds on the internet this morning, I see that Krampus is, in fact, the number one movie in America as of today. Certainly, the reptilian brain of the Producers to whom Dougherty is indebted must be pleased; and now he won’t have nearly such hard a time financing Trick R Treat 2. Can we blame him? Hell no, but we also don’t have to like the neutered, humiliated mess of a movie he crammed down our throats.

As it stands, I’d recommend that you avoid this one, for it is ever so ho-hum. Instead, check out Rare Exports; a movie which is thematically similar enough, but which is also indescribably superior to this mess in every conceivable way.



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Rambo ~ 2008, Sylvester Stallone, USA


Never before in all my days have I been as excited for a movie as I was after seeing the red-band trailer for Rambo. If a trailer is meant to generate interest and excitement, then this was, for me, probably the most effective any trailer has ever been. If I had to pick the second most effective, it’d probably be Massacre Mafia Style, but that’s a distant second place.  Honest to goodness, folks, the low rez, red-band trailer for Rambo that I downloaded from whatever news site I found it on had me hyped up and chomping at the bit to see a roid-ravaged, 61 year old Sylvester Stallone mutilate wave after wave of hopeless Burmese militia men in a way that I had never before experienced. I was super into it.

So, what was it that got me so pumped? Well, the trailer was incredibly violent. Off to a good start. Secondly, it looked like a damn horror movie, only John Rambo was the monster. When it finally came out, I made it out to the theater on opening day, and lo and behold, this film 100% delivered. Rambo is a war movie that has more in common with Friday the 13th Part 2 than it does The Deer Hunter. I’m a big fan.

THE PLOT~ Having killed more humans than you’ve probably ever even met in his long, battle-hardened lifespan, John Rambo, one man army, has now retired, and has taken up residence to the balmy jungles of Asia, where he lives a life of seclusion working as a ferry boat operator. Having left the both the battlefield and the big city far behind him, Rambo now lives a peaceful life, with nothing but the roar of the surging river, the slither of poisonous snakes, and the endless screams of his countless victims ringing through his ears eternity, to keep him company.

ramboRambo attempts to murder water.

Until, that is, some naïve, do-gooder, Christian missionaries turn up and twist his arm for a boat ride up river. These bozos want to go into Burma, currently “a warzone”, to provide aid to the horribly oppressed natives in the region. Psh! What a bunch of dummies! Who are they to suggest to Rambo that compassion has any place in this world? For him, compassion is leaving your body intact enough that it can be identified as human! But, just as we knew he would, Rambo soon agrees to take them, and that’s the end of that chapter… At least, for a few weeks. Turns out that Rambo’s missionary friends wound up in some hot water, and now our man finds his doorway darkened by a band of mercenaries who have been hired to retrieve the would-be Christian soldiers from the jungles of Burma. Rambo figures “what the hell?”, and decides to tag along as well. What follows is a blood spattered jungle rampage that leaves 99% of slasher films looking like something Kindergarten classrooms would play during nap time.

hqdefaultThis is how Rambo shows affection.

Firstly, damn, Stallone is freaking enormous. Go rewatch First Blood, he’s super ripped in that one, but compared to 2008 Stallone, the John Rambo of 1982 is straight up scrawny. Seriously, when did Stallone’s iconic dead eyes and big, rubbery trout lips become afxied to this lumbering juggernaut!? And he’s freaking 61 years old! He looks like a monster that ate the real Stallone and absorbed his powers. His voice is even scarier than it used to be, also,  Sly’s always rested deep down in the nearly incomprehensible baritone burble we all remember from such classics as Rocky, Tango and Cash, or Cliffhanger, but in Rambo his voice is an even bassier, garbled croak than it has ever been before. Now it sounds like a bass guitar made out of rubber took the P90X challenge and decided it wants to kill you. Toss a hockey mask on this hombre and people would say “geez, Jason Voorhees needs a haircut.”

2008_john_rambo_008Just another day at the office.

Something about Rambo that is interesting, the film manages to both glorify, and demonize violence simultaneously, by presenting a clear “line in the sand” between the justified, and unjustifiable. When the baddies massacre our poor vilagers, Stallone pulls no punches. We see the gruesome, brutal wages of war with stark, shocking clarity. Children are stabbed to death, people are dismembered and burned alive, and none of this meant to feel “cool,” or “fun.” These portions of the film hope to make you feel angry, or even sick to your stomach, but it’s also setting you up to both appreciate, and condone Rambo turning the tables on the bad guys later. It is at that point that the violence is meant to feel satisfying and awesome, which, it really, really is. This attitude is likely an extension of Stallone’s Conservative mindset, and it’s not something that you get a lot of in major studio motion pictures in this day and age. It also explains why the film feels so much like a late 80’s teen pop slasher film; Rambo basically frames Stallone’s character in the same light that the later Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street films did with their respective monsters, these are the guys we go to when we want to root for the person committing violent atrocities. As crazy as it sounds, with very minimal rewrites, this movie could have been made into a Friday the 13th film where the government captures Jason and drops him into Burma. And actually, let’s find a way to get THAT movie made.

From a technical perspective, Rambo is both impressive, and embarrassing. Stallone has managed to step into the sleek, digital aesthetic of today’s genre film with surprising ease, and for the most part, the movie is very well done. We only run into trouble when the film tries to use digital effects, which it does in great abundance, and at that point Rambo suffers from the all too common “excellent practical effects in tandem with utterly unforgivable digital fumbles” pitfall. Probably the worst example of the digital dogshit heaped into the picture comes from the film’s single most crucial kill, when our hero slices open the belly of the film’s main bad guy at the end of the movie. We get a shot of his intestines spilling out as Rambo kicks his corpse down a hill, but the all gore is added in digitally in post, and it looks awful. It’s on par with the friggin’ Playstation, and when I say that, I mean the original Playstation, from 1994. This is supposed to be the film’s ultimate pay off, and honestly, it’s so bad it shouldn’t even have made it into the final cut.

600px-Rambo08MiniMachete-3Get it?! Final CUT?!! Harharhar (many, many people die in this movie.)

But really, who cares? Rambo is damn near perfect. If they had stuck to all practical effects and cut out the shameful digital clownsmanship that bogs the picture down, then what we’d have here would be the best possible Rambo movie 2008 could produce. As it is, it’s the second greatest Rambo movie ever, leaving Parts 2 and 3 in the dust. It’s also a must for fans of action cinema, and for gore aficionados as well. I own this shit on DVD and Blu-Ray, and when they come out with the next stupid home video format (assuming we don’t all just jump to streaming, knock on wood), I’ll be rebuying it immediately. I feel a lot better knowing I have immediate access to the picture at literally anytime.



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