The Barbarians
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Starring The Barbarian Brothers (Peter & David Paul), Michael Berryman, Eva La Rue
Available on VHS

I’ve gotten into a bit of a barbarian movie kick lately, so I thought I would revisit this movie from my youth. If you’ve never heard of the Barbarians, then consider yourself lucky. The Barbarians was a vehicle for the “Barbarian Brothers”, released in 1987 by Cannon films. Peter and David Paul, a couple of bodybuilders, were dubbed by someone as the “Barbarian Brothers” and somebody, somewhere thought they were going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger multiplied by two. One would imagine that this was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Conan films, but barbarians in general were popular during the 1980’s, so it’s hard to say for sure.

If you grew up in the 80’s-90’s you probably remember seeing the Barbarian brothers show up in a variety of low budget movies. Although they were officially billed as the Barbarian brothers, this is to my knowledge, the only movie they ever did that was about Barbarians. The rest of their films were basically the type of stuff that even Hulk Hogan’s agents would turn down. I have no idea why these guys were famous, aside from the fact that they were muscular twins. I guess that’s a thing. Stick around until the end of the review and I’ll tell you what the Barbarian Brothers are up to now. Also, this contains spoilers to a 26 year old movie… So you know, be warned!

The movie starts off with some narration setting the scene that this is in fact, a time before time. It was a dangerous era, but one tribe of people were protected. They were known as the Ragnicks and they are for all intents and purposes a traveling circus. Why is a traveling circus protected? Best we not worry about that. Just know that they have an ancient ruby that only their queen can possess, which protects them.

This magic ruby sure sounds neat, so naturally the evil warlord Kadar wants it. He ambushes the circus (so much for that whole “protected” thing) and kills a bunch of them. This sequence is actually REALLY long and not needed for the movie. The entire thing could have been accomplished in half the time, but I digress. This whole movie is basically a lot of time wasting. Somewhere in here is a story and I’ll explain it in my review, but please realize that the actual movie does a poor job of explaining anyone’s motivations or the basic plot.

Kagar wants the ruby, but the circus queen, Canary refuses to give it to him. In fact, during the battle she sent one of her men off with the ruby to hide it. Unbeknownst to Kagar, of course. He insists that she give him the ruby, but you know how carnies are. It’s like when you win at the bottle toss and they try to claim you stepped over the line. As my Momma always said, “don’t trust people from the circus or the carnival”. Continue reading

Iron Man 3 Movie Review
It may not officially be summer yet, but it sure feels that way as the blockbuster season kicks off with the release of Iron Man 3. After the overwhelming success of The Avengers last year, Iron Man 3 has some big shoes to fill. If you are looking for a continuation of the team-up fun, be prepared to keep looking. Iron Man 3 is a much more personal tale about Tony Stark and the people he cares about facing their most personal threat yet. So to recap, this time… it’s personal.

It is not as though the movie ignores or downplays the events of The Avengers, it just does not use the success of that last film as a crutch. Instead, the amazing experiences that Tony was a part of have left him damaged and unsure of his place in the larger universe. He compensates by throwing himself into his suit building, which culminates in his most impressive technology yet. You get the feeling that he has withdrawn from world events for a time, with the US government relying more on War Machine (now rebranded as the red, white, and blue Iron Patriot) as their armored deterrent. It will take something drastic to get him back into the action, and it isn’t long before that threat arrives.

The plot is largely inspired by the “Extremis” story arc that helped redefine Iron Man for the 2000s, but it expands the story to amalgamate several other elements of comic history. Longtime Marvel readers will recognize a variety of character and organization names. The movie cleverly begins with a flashback that serves to remind us of of the irresponsible party boy persona that Tony has gradually outgrown, while also establishing the demons that will come back to haunt him throughout the film. By now the man Tony was before his kidnapping in the original Iron Man has begun to fade, and this glimpse into the past allows us to appreciate his journey. In the present, Tony struggles with the revelations of The Avengers, while the shadowy Mandarin has begun a global campaign of terror. Events conspire to return Iron Man to his origins, isolated from his vast resources and forced to rely on wits and improvisation as he tries to unravel the mystery of the Mandarin.

Iron Man Exclusive
The new and returning cast are all in top form, although they certainly benefit from a sharp script. If there were any thoughts that Robert Downey Jr. might be in danger of wearing out his welcome after four movies, Iron Man 3 should put them to rest. The usual supporting cast of Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, and James Rhodes are all present and fairly well utilized, but I was surprised that the War Machine AKA Iron Patriot character did not see more action after all the marketing material. Rhodes does get some great interaction with Tony though, with what is almost a buddy cop movie dynamic. Continue reading

GI_Joe _Retaliation

Several years ago, I reviewed GI Joe: Rise of Cobra on this site and was one of the few people who actually said I enjoyed the movie. I went in with a willingness to let a lot of things slide and as such, I was able to enjoy it. Now, finally, the sequel is out and after watching it this past weekend I can officially say it’s a worse movie than the first one.

Rise of Cobra wasn’t going to win any Oscars, but it had some fun mindless action and a hi-tech, fast paced storyline that was focused but flawed. Retaliation is a movie that spent an extra 6 months getting retooled after executives saw the first cut and freaked out. Unfortunately despite their attempt to make something decent out of this, it still feels like a bunch of segments that were randomly shot with very little plot to string them all together. Director Jon Chu is most famous for making a Justin Bieber movie, so perhaps GI Joe: Retaliation would be better if it was a music video.

The first movie very much felt like a cartoon or comic book world and intentionally set that pace early on so you could believe some of the more fantastical elements. This movie tries to be gritty and “real” by having the characters all dress very boring and say stuff like “hoo-rah” so we think they’re real soldiers. Unfortunately, none of this works. You certainly COULD do a realistic GI Joe movie, but this isn’t it. The implausible elements in this film aren’t science fiction, they’re just mind numbingly stupid.

While the first movie had it’s own style, that wasn’t necessarily true to iconic GI Joe, it at least had a voice. Here we get a film that seems like director Jon Chu just flipped through a bunch of classic GI Joe comics and said “put this scene in, this one too, oh yeah and this one” without any real rhyme or reason. Cobra Commander wears a costume that’s “sort of” like his classic costume, yet the rest of Cobra all wear basic military fatigues. It’s very confusing to even know who’s a Cobra or a Joe in some of the large scale fight scenes because they’re all just regular guys in army outfits.

As stiff as Channing Tatum was in the first GI Joe movie, he’s fantastic in this film, showing more character and personality than any of the other Joes in this film or the entire first film. So naturally he dies 5 minutes in. Yeah, spoiler I guess, but let’s be honest, you all already knew that anyway. You’d think that scene would be sort of a big deal, but it’s not. The Joe team is reduced to 3 people in the first few minutes and aside from a passing line here or there, it’s no biggie dawg.

Everyone is dead, except for Snake Eyes, oh and Jinx, who just joined the team but isn’t on the team but everybody knows, oh and Joe Colton, who nobody knows except for everybody, plus a whole cavalry of other people who don’t get much screen time or names. If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is. People show up in one scene and then everyone acts like they know them the next. The movie also makes mention that this is only like 6 months since the last movie, which makes all of the plot holes even worse. If you accept that as fact, it turns everything on it’s ear even further. This movie should have been set several years later, not months.

The movie constantly rewrites the rules as if the previous segment didn’t connect to the one before it. Yet the whole film is spent trying to tie up loose ends from the first movie. I’ve heard a lot of people dump on Retaliation by saying the weak parts are the portions of the movie that deal with Rise of Cobra, but I completely disagree. The only parts of Retaliation that make ANY sense are the spots where they try finish the Rise of Cobra story.

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Killjoy goes to Hell review
Killjoy Goes To Hell
Directed by John Lechago
Starring Trent Haaga, Jessica Whitaker, Victoria De Mare
Available on DVD and RedBox

More 31 Days of Halloween horror movie reviews! Killjoy has been around since 2000, when Full Moon started to roll out some new franchises. It was a strange time for Full Moon, as the video market was slowly dying, they had lost their deal with Paramount and they had oddly decided to double down on making even lower budget films. They opened up several new labels so as to not ruin the Full Moon brand and one of those included an urban label where Killjoy was produced.

Killjoy Goes To Hell

The first two Killjoy movies didn’t do very well and I avoided them because they looked like crappy urban horror movies. Full Moon seemed to realize this as well, as Killjoy sat on hiatus for 8 years before returning in Killjoy 3 back in 2010. Now a new Killjoy movie is out just in time for Halloween. I never saw Killjoy 3, as I assumed it would be more of the same. However, while waiting for the new Puppet Master movie to come out (review coming later this week) I decided to look up some info on Killjoy 3 & 4. Ultimately I decided to give Killjoy 4 (AKA: Killjoy Goes To Hell) a spin.

Killjoy movie review

I rather incorrectly assumed that like most slasher flicks, I could pick this one up without having seen the other movies. While that is partially true here, the fact is that Killjoy Goes To Hell is a direct sequel to Killjoy 3. Full Moon recently re-released Killjoy 3 under the banner Killjoy’s Revenge, lest you get confused when trying to track down part 3 before watching part 4. Now yes, you can watch this movie without watching part 3 and understand it, but it’s definitely better if you watch part 3 first.

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house of the devil review
The House of the Devil
Directed by Ti West
Starring Jocelin Donahue
Available on DVD and Netflix Streaming

The House of the Devil

The 31 Days of Halloween rolls on with a horror movie review. This is likely one you haven’t heard of, as it pretty much went under the radar in it’s 2009 release and subsequent 2010 DVD release. It’s now available on Netflix instant streaming and more people are beginning to take notice. The film is a modern one, but if nobody told you that, you’d think it was straight out the early 1980’s.

The House of the Devil movie review

That’s the intent of course, as Ti West has set out to make an homage to the suspenseful horror films of days gone by. Suspense in the true sense of the word too, not the shaky cameras or spooky ghosts that pass for suspense in garbage like Paranormal Activity. The slow, brooding quality of this film makes it stand out from other modern efforts. Everything from the sets and the tone, harken back to the classic horror films of a few decades ago. They even shot the movie in 16mm film to give it that texture.

house of the devil review

What’s great about this film is not that it’s a throwback, but that it’s done right. There have been plenty of movies doing “vintage” style but they usually aren’t done effectively or it’s painfully obvious that they’re trying to seem like an old movie, while using modern digital process. Of course sometimes the acting is terrible too, as in the case of the similarly named House of the Wolfman. Thankfully The House of the Devil doesn’t have any of those glaring flaws.

Tom Noonan House of the Devil

Aside from the setting, tone and production, this movie manages to strike the right chords with just about everything else as well. It’s a rather simple story of a girl named Samantha who is desperate to get out of her college dorm which she shares with a roommate from hell. She finds the perfect apartment, but she’s short on cash. Luckily she stumbles across an ad for a babysitter and soon finds herself in a house out in the middle of nowhere about to make some serious money for one night’s job. It sounds almost too good to be true… Because it is.

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