Artsploitation Films have billed themselves as a company that releases films from new voices from around the world that play with genre conventions in unique ways. To me, they are a company worth watching because they dig deep to find unique genre films from places we might not expect. In this case, the film is The Devil Live Here and the country of origin is Brazil. Brazil isn’t well known globally as a producer of genre film. The country does have some genre cult classics to their name (the Coffin Joe films come to mind), but by and large they are more known for their Jiu Jitsu than for their cult flicks. The Devil Lives Here gives us a reason to pay closer attention.
The Devil Lives Here is about a group of young people on their way to visit a childhood friend. The arrive at the house and begin to re-connect and have a great time. The friend however has an ulterior motive for inviting his hold friends. His child hood home is haunted. Caretakers on the house have told him his whole life that the house has a wicked past and that once every 9 months he has to clear out for a night. The house was once run by a savage slave owner who was into black magic. The story goes that the spirit of a child remains in the home and that every 9 months the spirit roams free. The caretakers know what to do and in order to practice their ancient rite the house must be empty. This time however the house will be occupied by the owner and his friends in order to set the spirit free. What he doesn’t know is that truly dark forces are at work and his sympathy is misplaced. The group is in grave danger of the creepy evil kind.
Filmed well using a high quality video camera, The Devil Lives Here is visually satisfying. The whole back end of the film is darkly lit and the scenes play out in evocative sepia tones giving the film a unique visual flair. The run time is short, only 80 minutes long, so the film doesn’t over stay it’s welcome either. The characters are your typical horror movie archetypes for the most part but I’m okay with that. Thankfully the characters do seem to like each other and their friendships seem realistic. Nothing kills a horror movie faster for me then “friends” who spend the entire run time bickering and belittling each other. Thankfully that common problem is avoided by having charismatic characters that seem to enjoy each others company. The back of the box suggests that the film is “Brazil’s answer to Candyman.” I can see that comparison as the slave holder was a bee keeper and we are talking about vengeful spirits but I would liken the film more to Fulci’s films like The Beyond and House by the Cemetery. There’s a strange vibe in the film and the goings on are not fully explained. The main characters don’t fully realize what’s going on and so neither do we. That confused vibe along with the shadowy cinematography seems to be heavily influenced by Fulci. For my money, Fulci is a great film maker to riff off of so for me, it really worked. In fact the more strange the film got, the more engaged I became so that by the end of the film, I was 100% on board. The film is viceral without being overly graphic which I can appreciate. We didn’t need to “see” everything that happens to the characters to “feel” it.
Sure, The Devil Lives Here isn’t 100% original but it has it’s own vibe and visual language and I can see some hints at real talent behind the camera. I’d love to see what directors Rodrigo Gasparini and , do next with more confidence, money, and experimentation. Hopefully Artsploitation will pick up their next film so I can review it here!
Intervision Picture Corp. is an interesting company. Somehow tagentially related to the well regarded Severin Films, Intervision picks up all the obscure detritus hiding under rocks. They’ve released such films as the low-fi Canadian head scratcher Things, the equally lo-fi Canadian gem Phobe, the early German gorefest Burning Moon, final film from Bruno Mattel Zombies: The Beginning, as well as a handful of sexploitation flicks. They tend to pick up strange and low budget flicks that no one else is going to release and I applaud them for that. Murderlust is one such flick that I highly doubt anyone else would want to release (except maybe Vinegar Syndrome).
Shot on 16mm and released in 1986 originally, Murderlust is about a middle aged guy with a crappy job, a small apartment, and a desire to kill women. We don’t know how he got started, why he’s compelled to kill, or if the first woman slain in the movie was his first. All we know is that he has a dad mustache, a sweet van, and a lust to kill. He’s portrayed as an arrogant, self-centered jerk who pisses everyone he knows off. Somehow despite this, he’s in charge of teenagers at a local church and has ambitions to gain a paid position at the church as a counselor. Obviously his desires have little to do with helping anyone but himself but his transformation in church is startling. While at work he does as little as possible and fights with his co-workers. At home, his neighbor his also his cousin whom he constantly bickers with. But at church he’s the model of piety and respectability. This shows that although he has the capacity to be responsible, he chooses to be a lazy slob elsewhere. We follow him throughout the whole film as he continually abuses those that know him and kill women who dare to share a ride with him. There are no police looking for him, he is free to do as he wants to.
In short, Murderlust is a nasty flick about a creep who enjoys strangling women. Obviously a riff on Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer but without the depth, and thankfully without the graphic content, Murderlust is a surprisingly well written (if simply written) film, that has higher production values than I suspected. It’s certainly a very small independent film but it was shot on film and even features some aerial shots, likely filmed from a small helicopter. It’s a simple story that is unsettling and grim. For those that like their slasher flicks realistic and morbid, this one is for you. If the idea of spending 90 minutes with an unrepentant serial killer doesn’t float your boat (like me), then this one probably isn’t your thing. I can appreciate the film for being a solid independently produced horror flick but beyond that I doubt i’ll watch it again. It’s just not my bag. I did, however, really like the second feature film included on the dvd.
Added on as a bonus feature, Project Nightmare (1979), is the director’s first feature and of the two is far more interesting. Two guys out on a camping trip start to experience strange vibes and odd occurrences. They decide to seek refuge at a nearby home where the weirdness doesn’t stop. Bizarre lights and fantasies become reality and the three (including the woman who lived in the house) decide to get out of dodge. On their way more strange things happen that prohibit them from leaving the immediate area. They begin to suspect they are stuck in some sort of nightmare as their efforts to escape are thwarted by some unknown source. Things get more interesting from there and i’d rather not spoil it but I will tell you that the film has a unique third act involving strange technology, an animated face, and more dream logic sequences.
For my money, I think Intervision should have marketed Project Nightmare as the main release and Murderlust as the bonus. It’s a far more compelling story and much more unique then the ugly Murderlust. I understand that Murderlust will likely sell because of the sensationalist title and subject matter but Project Nightmare is a much more interesting film. It feels like a blend of Equinox (sans monsters) and Italian cinema like Suspiria (because of the strange logic of the film). It’s a great hybrid of science fiction and horror and despite it’s small budget, stays interesting with a sprinkling of interesting effects, lighting, and makeup work. It also sports a short run time at about 75 minutes so it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome either. The dvd is worth picking up for this film alone and shouldn’t be disregarded by anyone that buys the set. It’s worth more than a tack on bonus feature.
Both movies were shot on film and were transferred from the prints, not vhs rips, so the quality of the image on both films is great. The prints used were in good condition and it’s likely that these films have never looked so good. I would have loved an interview with the director about both films but we do get commentary which is a nice bonus. Otherwise the disc is bare bones. Given the obscurity of each film, I’m fine with that. Intervision saved both of these films from absolute obscurity and can be proud of preserving them.
Artsploitation is a unique label. They deal exclusively with unknown or little known directors. They scour the globe looking for unique cinema that is equal parts art house and exploitation (hence the title). Their most recent release, Counter Clockwise fits the bill nicely and works with their previous releases.
Counter Clockwise is about a man with a ferocious red beard and a passion for biological transportation. We’re talking of the Fly variety or Star Trek if that’s your thang. He’s a super smart scientist who has left the megacorporation he worked for to pursue his experiments on his own. He tries the device and it works! He decides to transport himself and accidentally time travels into the future. Something went wrong with his machine and something terrible happened to his life. His equipment is now the property of the mega evil corporation he worked for, his house is no longer his, and he’s wanted by the police for murder. Bummer. Now he’s got to put together the pieces and find a way to change his future.
Counter Clockwise is a good addition to the low budget time travel genre, one filled with classics like Time Crimes and Primer. The audience is left in the dark as is the main character so while he’s trying to figure out what the hell is going on, so are we. The movie is rough around the edges but it has a vitality to it that i really appreciated. It’s the rough homegrown quality that i liked. It has the true spirit of independent cinema rather than the overly slick vibe I get from so many “independent” flicks nowadays. I like slick too, but it’s nice to see something obviously made by folks with a passion, little budget, but a whole lot of guts. It’s very hard to make a film, especially a high concept flick on a budget. My hat is off to them. But is it any good? Well the acting is pretty solid from everyone and the plot moves briskly. Thankfully there is no fat to trim on this one, it’s lean and it works. There are some issues in the film for nit pickers but for my money they were minor (and spoilery so i can’t go into it here).
While not a perfect film, Counter Clockwise is an enjoyable indie effort from some new voices in film. Nothing here feels fake or contrived. It’s an honest film with the singular goal of playing around with time travel logic. It’s a debut film from director George Moise. I’d be interested to see what he does with a bit more money and bit more experience, especially if he stays with genre film making.
The world of exploitation cinema is a wild and weird on as we all know. The history of the strange side of cinema from the around the world is filled with unique individuals but one of the most unique is Weng Weng. Star of several films made in the Philippines in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Weng Weng is just 2’9″ tall, the shortest lead actor ever according to the Guinness Book of World Records. I would believe it. Not only is he the lead actor in the films he starred in, but they were all action films with outrageous (read: dangerous) stunts, all of which he did himself.As the documentary points out, where could the possibly find a double for him anyway?
Not much was known about the actor despite his cult appeal and broad fanbase around the globe. Enter Andrew Leavold, an Australian bloke obsessed with Weng Weng. The diminutive star stole his heart and over many years of extolling Weng Weng’s films to the masses of Australia, he wanted to know more. He set out on his quest to find out everything he could about the curious star.
The Search for Weng Weng is a documentary of that quest for knowledge. It’s a quest that takes him to many different parts of the Philippines and one that puts him into contact with a wide range of Philippine film stars, stunt men, directors, financiers, history buffs, and even a few surprises that i won’t spoil here. It’s a quest that went in ways i’m sure Andrew Leavold never would have guessed, i sure didn’t. His interview subjects were all very open about the industry and about Weng Weng himself and we get a rare look into a world that no longer exists. Some of these folks are getting up there in age so this may have been the last time for them to tell their tale of Weng Weng. This documentary is truly a preservation of unique information that could have only been unearthed by going to the source. It’s a bold move for director Andrew Leavold and we’re all the better for it.
The documentary if fascinating and chock full of unique knowledge and candid interviews. We go along on the journey with him and it was an exciting one. The film isn’t without faults however but thankfully they are all technical (interviews filmed far too close the subject, mixed aspect ratios) but the storytelling is strong and the content is there. It’s a very well done documentary once I got past some of the minor technical issues. And they are minor. Every interview is subtitled and the audio is good throughout which for me can be a real killer if the audio stinks. Thankfully here, it’s crystal clear.
Andrew Leavold obviously truly knows his stuff as well. He’s got Tarantino levels of film knowledge and i would love to see him make another film, perhaps specifically about the Filipino film industry. Yes, i know there is already a doc about the subject, but there’s more than enough film history there for multiple docs on the subject. I truly hope that this is a debut film and not the end of his documentary legacy. He knows his stuff and gained some really great interviews for this doc. He’s got the knack for sure and the guts to go out there and knock on every door until all answers are found. I highly recommend this doc, its a great love letter to Weng Weng and to funky exploitation cinema. Go out and get it.
I’ve known about the Female Prisoner #701 for many years. Despite this knowledge I’ve never been able to get my hands on any of the films. More often than not the series would go out of print on DVD causing their prices to skyrocket and frankly I had given up. Thanks to the new set by Arrow on Blu however, I’ve finally gotten a chance to dip my toe into this well regarded series.
Matsu is the titular prisoner #701. She’s stuck in a brutal women’s prison where the inmates are subjected to humiliating searches, beaten, starved and in general abused by the all male prison guards. Her fellow inmates aren’t much better, it’s a snakes den of cheaters, abusers, and just good old fashioned no goodniks. Matsu’s crime? Trying to murder the man that set her up to be raped by a gang of yakuza. This man also happens to be a police detective who also deflowered her. He set her up so he could make a conviction of the men. What a sleaze. Now her only goal in life is to get her sweet revenge but she’ll have to defeat the guards, the inmates, and bust out of the klink before she’ll ever get a chance.
I loved this flick. Let me just get that out of the way. Personally, women in prison movies don’t interest me much. There usually just isn’t much to mine there as far as original content goes. They tend to follow a pattern and it’s a pattern that usually leaves me cold. I was concerned that would be the case here but Female Prisoner manages to bring out lots of style and creativity within a subgenre not known for it. There are several uniquely filmed scenes, like of her assault which is filmed with the camera looking straight up through a clear plastic floor. In fact the entire flashback sequence detailing how she came to be in prison is presented in a very theatrical fashion that I’ve never seen before. The violence in the movie is also very stylized and satisfyingly so. The plot moves quickly and never drags. It’s a lean 86 minutes and does what it sets out to do with economy which I can certainly appreciate. This is a film that knows what it is but decides to play with the visuals rather than trying to convince us that it isn’t an exploitation film. There is little attempt at elevating the material beyond it’s exploitative roots but the execution of the material is very unique and artful.
The blu comes with a great interview with Gareth Evans (The Raid, Raid 2) where he talks alot about this film and Japanese exploitation in general. The guy certainly knows his stuff and it’s a pleasure to listen to him. The picture and sound is great, despite initial hand wringing about the visual presentation of the film. I think it looks fantastic and likely won’t look better.
Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion is a great Japanese exploitation flick tailor made for fans of Lone Wolf & Cub and Lady Snowblood. Arrow did a great job restoring it and as always it has worthy special features. I’m looking forward to digging into the rest of the series for sure!
As I have noted here on Toxic Graveyard in the past, I’m fascinated by wrestlers. Growing up I didn’t watch much wrestling. At one point in junior high I used to watch some WWE with a friend of mine but otherwise it was something i was aware of but not something I knew a whole lot about. The same is true today. I don’t watch wrestling but I do love wrestling documentaries. I find the profession of wrestling to be a very strange one and I find the people who do it captivating. More often than not, the men and women who wrestle do not make much money. They put their bodies in great peril to entertain fans but to no great monetary reward. These are truly unique folks. Lucha Mexico is a documentary about the phenomenon of Lucha Libre which is Mexican wrestling.
Lucha Mexico follows several wrestlers in the Mexican leagues as they go from match to match, get injured in some cases, and find other means to support themselves. The goal of the documentary is to provide a window into the wild world of Lucha Libre, a cultural phenomenon in Mexico that has lasted since the 50’s with no sign of slowing down. We get to meet old legends and current heroes as well as some up and comers. The wrestlers come from different walks of life. Some are following a family tradition, others are the first in their families to put on the spandex. We get exposed to Technico wrestlers, who typically play the “good guys” and are very technical in their wrestling. We also meet Rudo wrestlers, who typically play the “bad guys” and are very savage. These are the guys that hit hard and want to be hit hard. We meet a little person who wears a costume who gets beaten just as badly, if not worse, than other wrestlers. We learn about masked wrestlers and how important their secret identities are.
Lucha Mexico gives a flurry of information on the culture and specifics of Lucha Libre but at times it feels like a rapid fire immersion into the culture without much context. This leaves details murky at best. It feels like a documentary made by people who know much about the subject and expect their audience to have some rudimentary grasp of Lucha Libre which frankly I do not. The film feels very cinema verite instead of a carefully structured documentary. We’re exposed to much but there is no “story” to the doc. The film feels more like little slices of the wrestler’s lives. It’s much more of a window into the world instead of a guided tour. That being said the doc is well filmed and great watch. It made me want to learn more about Lucha Libre and maybe even visit Mexico and watch one of the matches.
Lucha Mexico left me wanting to learn more about the wild world of Lucha Libre and while I wish it was more structured, it’s still a solid watch on the subject.
Back when I was a kid I distinctly remember watching The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. I loved A Nightmare on Elm Street and for some reason my folks were ok with me renting Wes Craven movies. I remember being grossed out by The Last House on the Left and frankly bored by The Hills Have Eyes. Neither film looked very good on VHS and it was then that I figured I just didn’t like movies from the 70’s. Since then of course my opinion of 70’s cinema has changed dramatically but my opinion of Craven’s early work remained the same. I hadn’t revisited The Hills Have Eyes since my initial viewing back in the VHS era until now.
The Hills Have Eyes is about a vacationing family on their way out west. They stumble across an old highway out in the middle of the desert, totally isolated from civilization. Their car breaks down and now they’re stuck. What they don’t know is that there is a tribe of savage humans, the patriarch being the deformed and discarded spawn of a loving family, who have no food and will do anything to get it. Now the family has to find a way to defeat the band of killers before they become dinner.
This movie is grim. Shot on what looks like 16mm under the blazing desert son, The Hills Have Eyes is a rough film. It has much more in common with The Last House on the Left then it does A Nightmare on Elm Street. It isn’t nearly as disgusting as Last House but it also isn’t as much fun as Nightmare. The family is terrorized by the group of killers, this i knew was the basic plot, but i was expecting more cat and mouse and less overt nastiness. The film set out to be frightening and cruel and achieves it’s goal. It isn’t a movie i’d throw on for fun or for a group of friends. I’d throw it on when i wanted to watch something abrasive and mean.
Visually, the film is very workmanlike. There isn’t a whole heap of style on display. It feels rough and ragged like the subject matter. The image is very grainy on the blu but that’s the way it was supposed to look. For those that care, it’s obvious there has been no digital noise reduction. The image looks blasted by the sun without a lot of contrast. Nearly ever seen looks weather beaten, the color sapped by the sun. I have to commend Arrow though, despite what they were working with the colors are vibrant and rich, especially one character’s red shirt. It sounds strange but i remember watching this on VHS and the whole movie looking like all the colors had been eaten by a color vampire. The trouble with the Blu though is that it shows off the film’s shortcomings. For instance one character is clearly wearing a cheap wig throughout the entire movie. For me it was a bit of a distraction.
As always the Blu is stacked with special features like an alternate ending, audio commentary by Wes Craven, a making of documentary, an interview with the film’s composer and more.
If you like The Hills Have Eyes, this is a great release to pick up. The image will likely never look better, the special features are plentiful and everything as been lovingly produced by the fine folks at Arrow. For me though, my opinion on the film remains similar to when i was a kid.
My appreciation for Richard Glenn Schmidt’s work has been clear on this site. I have reviewed his zine, Fang of Joy (and have appeared within it’s pages most recently), and his first book Giallo Meltdown. Cinema Somnambulist (a title I struggle to say) is his latest cinema related published work and of course I have to review it.
Cinema Somnambulist is a collection of works written over the span of several years on Richard’s blog. He painstakingly went through each post and culled what he felt was the best. He updated each post if his opinion changed between writing it on his blog and publishing the book. So what is covered in the book? A little bit of everything. The book stands as a testament to his personal development as a cinephile. Each chapter or film covered is steeped in personal reflections of where he was at the time when he watched the film and how he felt. We learn personal details of his life and his development as a film lover. So of course this book is very personal in a way that is rarely seen today in film critisism. That used to be the way zines were written in their heyday, with lots of personality. This book feels like sitting with Richard as he recalls the first time he saw monumental films that helped to shape his cinematic world. Unlike Giallo Meltdown, which was much more a stream of consciousness, this book is more detailed and cohesive. The book features many genres of film that makeup the patchwork that is Richard Glenn Schmidt. He already laboriously wrote about Gialli in his previous book so this one covers other genres that interest him including more traditional Horror, Anime, Sci-Fi, Kung Fu, and more. We do get some Giallo Meltdown-esque entries when he discusses his “Franco” Fridays which were marathons dedicated to Jess Franco. The back half also features more traditional reviews but they’re written by Richard so don’t expect them to be too traditional.
Cinema Somnambulist is a fun read. If you are a fan of Richard’s show, Hello This is the Doomed Show, or his previous writings, you’ll enjoy this book. True, the content originally lived on his blog so you could have read it for free but it’s nice to have what he feels are the best of his writings collected in one place with handy updates. It’s at times very intimate, funny, and of course silly. It would be written by Richard if it wasn’t silly. But that’s what I love about it: his personality shines through bright and clear. If you like what he does, pick this up.
I love film. I love books. So I love film related books. Whether they are biographies, histories, or reference guides, I’ve got a stack of them and love learning about the broad and strange world of film from across the globe and across time. Rare is the book that crosses my path that doesn’t easily fit into one of aforementioned categories. Death By Umbrella – The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons by Christopher Lombardo and Jeff Kirschner is one of those anomalies.
Authors Christopher Lombardo and Jeff Kirschner are podcasters that run Really Awful Movies and run a blog of the same name. They are also unabashed horror lovers who have dug deep for this book. In a nutshell the book graphically details the bizarre weapons used in (mostly) horror movies. The more strange, the better. Films covered include big name genre titans like The Toxic Avenger, Friday the 13th, Leprechaun, Final Destination, Halloween, and others. They have also dug very deep to bring us crazy kills from movies like Homicycle, The Lift, and Dead Meat among other lesser known gems. Each passage is succinct and written to be funny which of course makes it very enjoyable to thumb through.
We all love lists when it comes to movies. The “Best” horror movies, the “goriest” horror movies, “best horror films you haven’t seen” that sort of thing and that’s what this book is. It’s a list of the most ludicrous ways characters in films have been dispatched. If you enjoy checking out those kinds of lists then this book is for you. If you want a deeper knowledge of horror including some very deep cuts, this book is for you. If you like to thumb through books, looking for the next cinematic treat to watch, this book is for you. If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of each film, this book is not for you. We do get a succinct synopsis of each film and the scene in question. The authors layout the film and get straight into the meat of the matter making each weapon review fun, short, and clear. The book is organized by types of weapons like, around the house, kitchen nightmares, sports and recreation, tight squeezes etc. Each chapter begins with original hand drawn art followed by poster art and images from the films themselves. The book also has an introduction by the captain of weird kills, Lloyd Kaufman.
In short, Death By Umbrella – The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons, published by Bear Manor Media, delivers exactly what you want it to. It features fun writing, well researched picks, and well organized chapters featuring original art as well as images from the films. It’s a love letter to the genre we love the most, obsessively compiled into one place. It’s a fun book and one worth checking out.
Thank goodness for Intervision. Specializing in off the wall and low budget films from around the globe they have unleashed not one but two fantastically terrible movies. Their first home run bad movie hit was Things. Phobe is their second. I hadn’t even heard of this slice of home grown Canadian Sci-fi silliness until they announced it’s release. It was a regional favorite in the 90’s and now finally it can reach a broader audience of bad movie loving fanatics.
Phobe, filmed in Niagra Ontario, is about a man, named Dapp, with a sweet flat top/mullet combo who knows how to rock a denim jacket/bazooka holder. He’s from a planet far far away. He’s a special forces type guy with the mission to hunt down Phobes. A Phobe is short for Xenophobe, as in the fear of anything alien. See these creatures were created in order to fight a war his people were having. The hope was that they Phobes, designed to fear and hate anything other than their own kind, would destroy the enemy. They did. But they also feared and hated the beings that created them. Oops. Now they go around laying Phobe eggs and spreading their spawn to other planets. One has escaped and gone to earth to kill everything and so Dapp is sent to catch the Phobe and bring it on home. Once on Earth he gets on the trail of the Phobe and meets high school cheerleader Jennifer who has stumbled across the Phobe. She has a hairdo that can only be described as a bird’s nest on her forehead. It’s pretty great. I remember the hairstyle well from my youth and it hasn’t improved with age. Together they spend much of the movie running from the Phobe who has a hard on for the pair. Why he doesn’t just kill everyone he sees, I don’t know. The Phobe is determined to destroy Dapp and his possibly under aged companion the pair must hatch a plan to stop the Phobe before he stops them. Permanently.
Phobe was made at a small cable T.V. station with a budget of $250. Director Erica Benedikty gathered her friends and co-workers and filmed the movie over the course of a year. The movie was aired on the cable station and used for filler and over the years became a local favorite. It was never released on video or dvd for that matter so this Intervision release marks the first time it’s been widely available. I’m glad for that because this movie is a blast to watch. It has a sweet metal/hard rock sound track, horrible fashion, mullets, mustaches, Canadianisms, locations clearly unchanged for the sake of the film, needless backstory, bad acting, bad sunglasses, lots of dangerous looking explosions, and light sabers. Oh and Dapp has glowing yellow eyes for no reason at all. The movie has one thing in particular though: heart. It’s easy to see that this was a passion project created by a group of individuals with little means but an audacious spirit. The heart of this film cannot be denied. It is because of this obvious passion that the movie and it’s characters are endearing and cheer worthy. This was not the product of a greedy producer hoping to cash in on ignorant video buyers. This film was made with no hope of ever turning a buck, the director gave it to the station to use at their discretion for free. She just wanted to make a movie and have people see it. I find that awesome and although this movie is bad movie heaven, it’s also earnest which just makes it all the more lovable.
One note about this particular presentation of the film, there has been some George Lucasing I’m afraid. I don’t know when, but at some point the movie was “updated” with better special effects. They look incongruous with the rest of the film and that knocks it down a few pegs for me. Thankfully the original effects shots are included as a bonus feature on the dvd and I really prefer those. Sure the new ones look more clean I suppose but the old ones show just how incredibly hard it would have been to create the effects in 1994 at a small cable station. I can’t even imagine the difficulty involved at that time. I think the old effects are a testament to the level of perseverance and ingenuity the filmmakers had. The new effects still look cheap but they also would be simple to do today. Back then it would have been a major task to create laser blasts and spaceships flying. That being said it’s still a fun ride that I suggest you take with your awful awesome buddies