Category Archives: Cult Film Club

The Repo Man has entered The Grid!

Lots of little personal projects going on this month behind the scenes at Branded, but of all the stuff I’m working on the thing I’m probably the most excited for is the launch of Season Two of the Cult Film Club!  It’s been just over a year since I helped launch the CFC Podcast with my bitchin’ co-hosts Paxton Holly (of the aptly named Cavalcade of Awesome & the Nerd Lunch Podcast) and Jaime Hood (who runs my favorite blog on the interwebs Shezcrafti.com.)

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We do our best to get together about once a month to talk about all the cult movies that we love to death.  Outside of 80s era kids junk (and the branding that goes with it) my other main passion/hobby is watching movies and deconstructing them with friends.  So the Cult Film Club has been a great outlet for me to help start the conversation on some of my favorite flicks.  Now we’re not limiting ourselves to just the 80s, but readers of this site will surely be interested in a good chunk of the movies we’ve tackled so far as a lot of them have fallen square in the domain of what I’d normally cover here at Branded like Miami Connection, Better Off Dead, Karate Kid III, Zapped, Beastmaster, Troll 2 and The Wraith.  We just kicked off our new season with an episode dedicated to the late Mr. Harold Ramis (where we cover a trio of his films, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day.)  So for anyone who might enjoy hearing me blather on about 80s stuff in a podcasting format and who hasn’t checked out the show, you might enjoy it.

In honor of the CFC gearing back up, I wanted to take a moment and talk about a segment of an film I just caught last night that is the sort of stuff the Cult Film Club was built to discuss, which also just happens to fall directly into the middle section of the CFC/Branded Venn diagram.  There’s a horror flick from the early 80s that I’ve been meaning to watch forever called Nightmares (released in 1983.)  I first stumbled upon this flick years ago when I was hunting for some of those elusive foil prism horror vending stickers that I had when I was a kid.  I ended up winning a lot on eBay and included in with the Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th Part 6, and Vamp stickers was one with a couple of hands, a pair of eyes and the text Nightmares.  I thought it was just some sort of generic horror sticker the seller threw in, but it turns out that it was for this obscure anthology movie starring Richard Mauser (the dad from License to Drive), Lance Henriksen (Aliens and Near Dark), Billy Jacoby (Just One of the Guys), and an early performance by Emilio Estevez.

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It’s been on my radar to watch for years as I love horror anthology flicks (all those wonderful Amicus films from the 70s and stuff like Creepshow, Tales From the Darkside or The Monster Club.)  Well I saw that the full film was on youtube last night so I threw some pizza rolls in the oven, popped the top of a Red Rock grape soda, and finally caught up with this movie.

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For the most part the flick is a snooze fest, but the second chapter titled The Bishop of Battle was amazing!  Where do I begin?  First off, this segment stars Jacoby and Estevez as a couple of arcade junkies.  Estevez plays J.J. Cooney, a cross between Newman’s The Hustler and Doug Masters from Iron Eagle.  The segment opens with Jacoby and Estevez hopping a bus from their suburban neighborhood in the Valley to Venice Beach so that they can hustle the local gangs that hang out in the arcades.  Estevez’s Cooney is an game wiz, the best in California, and he needs some quick cash that he owes to the mysterious Bishop.

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Cooney finds his mark playing a Pleiades machine and he goes in for the kill setting him up with a spiel from Jacoby’s character about how Cooney is always blowing his money on arcade challenges.  Before you know it Conney is down $6 and decides to go for broke and up the ante with one final game for a whopping $25.  The gang member has to go check with his boss, but gets cleared for the dough and the two battle it out in one final game which of course Cooney wins.

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So aside from the fact that it’s kind of ridiculous how “serious” it becomes when $25 is at stake, I love this sequence because Estevez’s Cooney gets into “game mode” by slipping on his Walkman headphones and blasts some rad early 80s punk.  This is way before similar sequences in Iron Eagle that I also love, and a full year before Estevez would play punk Otto in Repo Man.  In fact this whole segment is set to the music of Black Flag, X, and Fear which is amazing.

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The gang is onto Cooney unfortunately and they end up chasing the two out of the arcade into the streets where Estevez and Jacoby narrowly jump another bus to the safety of the Valley.  The two make their way to the local mall and after an argument about going to see the Bishop, Cooney leaves Jacoby behind and continues on into the local arcade.  Can I just say how sad it is that there aren’t arcades in malls anymore?  You’d think with the amount of teens that still hang out in local malls these wonderlands of video games would still manage to be profitable.  I mean I know that gaming has evolved past what a lot of these machines were capable of and most kids get their fix with apps on their phones, but still there’s something magical about the noise and lights and standing at a cabinet that I miss so much.

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Anyway, we quickly learn that the “Bishop” isn’t a person, but rather a game called The Bishop of Battle, a game that Cooney has yet to beat and is his sole focus.  In fact at one point he tells his parents that after he beats the Bishop he’s going to retire from gaming and concentrate on school again.  No more late nights and missed classes.  No more stealing quarters and hustling Latino street gangs for bread to feed the Bishop.  Cooney decides that today is the day he will finally get to the 13th level and take down his rival.

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The game is very much like Beserk or Nightstalker with a maze-like grid and wandering aliens you have to blast with a laser gun.  As the game opens you hear: “Greetings Earthling.  I am the Bishop of Battle, master of all I survey.  I have 13 progressively harder levels. Try me… if you dare!”  Cooney pumps up the volume on some punk and then proceeds to the 12th level where he’s promptly taken down by the Bishop.  The crowd that gathered dissipates as the arcade closes and the owner literally has to pry Cooney off the machine.

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This is where the film takes a turn for the speculative and horrific.  Later that night after having a huge blowout with his parents, Cooney sneaks back to the mall and breaks into the arcade so that he can have his final showdown with the Bishop.  He’s hot and ends up finally beating the 12th level at which point the arcade cabinet freaks out, overloads, and literally crumbles to pieces…

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Cooney thinks he’s finally beaten the Bishop, but it turns out that the 13th level was way more than he bargained for as he has inadvertently freed the Bishop who sends his pixelated minions to do battle with Cooney in the real world.

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Looking down, Cooney sees he still has the laser gun from the cabinet in his fist so he instinctively starts zapping the flying enemies in the middle of the arcade, destroying arcade games left and right.  It’s sort of like the opposite of Tron and is kind of freaking awesome!

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I can’t believe I went 36 years without catching up with this 25 minutes of pure awesome cinema.  Estevez is at his best, cockily grinning up a storm and is really into the role no matter how cheesy some of the dialogue is.  The effects in the live action arcade sequences are pretty top notch as well and totally hold up 31 years later.  Between the Tron homages, Estevez and the rad punk soundtrack, Nightmares: The Bishop of Battle is well worth seeking out.  Just be careful you don’t buy it on the 13th level because the consequences are much worse than the game being over!

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Shaking the Pillars of Heaven…

So, the start of a new week, and it’s already been a rather crazy roller coaster of ups and downs here at Branded HQ.  Live in or around Jacksonville, FL area?  Did you feel the ground quake around noon on Saturday?  Did it rain frogs for a bit and mess up your outdoor lunch festivities?  Did your rose bushes suddenly burst into very fragrant flames?  Well that was probably partly my fault as I made a day trip down to the area to meet some folks in person that I’ve been talking with online for years.  That’s right, I finally got a chance to meet Paxton Holley of the amazing Cavalcade of Awesome, and in the process uniting 2/3rds of the Cult Film Club in person for the first time (no worries, I brought Jaime along in spirit, or rather with a bit of her soul that was captured on film and then printed out at Kinko’s.)  I’m pretty sure there’s some old testament prophecy about some pretty crazy stuff happening if all three of us were to gather in person in the same location at the same time…

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So what was I doing in that neck of the woods?  Well, when not talking about rad cult films, Pax’s main podcasting gig is as a co-host of the Nerd Lunch show (which I’ve been on a time or two, or ten actually), and they’ve been planning an IRL meet-up for awhile.  Carlin, Paxton, Robert (from the cool To the Escape Hatch site) and myself all converged on Jacksonville for some great food (at 4 Rivers Smokehouse), some great conversation (there should be a podcast released soon), and just some good times in general.

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In addition to the above conversation and merriment I was also introduced to the concept of a Doritos encrusted Mountain Dew flavored cupcake.  Yeah, read that last bit slowly and mull on that idea as you take a look at this monstrosity…

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It was pretty insane.  Not as Dew-y as I’d hoped, but still pretty darn tasty and crazy.

In other news, my beloved DVD player of the last 10 years has passed on to that electronic junk pile in the sky (which I imagine is actually the planet Junkion from Transformers the Movie.)  I’ve watched a metric ton of films and TV on that player and was pretty sad to see it go.  I mean, I wore thumb and finger grooves in the remote.  Sigh.  Well, the last movie to play on it was an 80s flick I’d neglected to watch until last night, the John Hughes written/produced romantic comedy Some Kind of Wonderful.  So if it was going to die, at least it, A, let me watch this flick, and B, picked a pretty rad movie to spin as it’s last screening. I’m glad it didn’t sputter out any sooner as I was able to see a very young and super precocious Candace Cameron playing with her collection of Garbage Pail Kids!  Harkening back to The Monster Squad post, it looks like Eugene wasn’t the only collector on the silver screen…

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In a move that was almost too cute to bear, Hughes, director Howard Deutch, or maybe even Cameron herself decided to have the GPKs fighting against each other.  My head almost exploded by the sheer amount of adorable nostalgia on the screen.

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I also love that she had both a collection on the backing in a cigar box as well as a bunch of stickers that were applied in a photo album.  Too cool.  I don’t remember ever seeing sticker collection in a flick like this before (though I’m sure I’m forgetting a movie or two…)

So, now I have to decide.  Do I finally get a Blu-Ray player and an HD TV?

 

No Seriously, I Guess I like Talking… ;)

All of a sudden one stops and takes stock of the past few weeks and it’s impossible to ignore the fact that you’ve been hosting or guest hosting on a ton of podcasts.  This happens to everyone right?  Seriously, I think I’ve been making up for my recent internet sabbatical in the form of podcasting.  It’s immediate, the editing is minimal (as if I edit my writing, pshaw), and the conversations tend to be a lot more fun than just banging away at my keyboard.  I’m not really comparing the two for any other reason than trying to rationalize how in the past two week’s I’ve had six podcast announcements!  Seriously, I guess I like talking…

Cult Film Club

So, what are the other three shows I’ve been involved with recently you might be asking yourself?  Well, first off, there’s a brand new episode of the Cult Film Club, the show I do with some criminally awesome co-hosts, Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  This should be of interest to folks who enjoy this site as the movie we chose for discussion is none other than the batshit insane Karate Kid III!

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For real, this flick is crazy, and as my co-hosts point out, Karate Kid III is basically a parody of the first KK film.  John Kreese, down on his luck after all of the Cobra Kai students have abandoned him in the wake of some crazy car-window punching and nose honking, seeks revenge against Daniel and Miyagi by hooking up with his secret CK grand master and old war buddy Terry Silver.  They lure Daniel to the dark side of the, um, karate, and well, you have to watch this film to believe that it was actually made.  We chat about the film, the actors, some dream re-writes, and how we all secretly wish we were Terry Silver.  You can listen to the episode and join the Cult Film Club here!

Next up is the long awaited release of the new episode of the Saturday Supercast!

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This time I check back in with hosts Jerzy Drozd and Dave Roman to discuss one of my all-time favorite flicks, 1986′s Transformers the Movie.  We’re joined by the super cool Matt Hawkins to discuss the film, the soundtrack, the casting, and we all provide some interesting arguments for how the Decepticons managed to hand the Autobots their buts so easily at the start of the flick!  We all had way too much for with the conversation and it ended up a long show.  So Jerzy and Dave broke it in half.  Check out Part 1 over at Sugary Serials!

Last but not least, I was kindly asked to be a guest on the latest Retro Retro Retro Podcast by the really awesome and swell guy Raven J!

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The discussion is all about magazine memories, NES and Gensis video game reviews, as well as some movie reviews.  I sat in on the discussion of magazines with Raven and his crew and had a blast.  Check out their site, and you can find the episode here!

Talking about some stuff I LOVE TO DEATH!

Holy crap!  It’s freaking Podcast-a-polooza here at Branded today.  I have not one, but two new shows that went live this morning.  First up is episode 4 of the Cult Film Club, the show I co-host with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  This is our Valentine’s Day episode, and for us that meant sitting down to watch the mostly naked Marc Singer, the topless Tanya Roberts, and John Amos’ butt cheeks in the amazing 1982 flick The Beastmaster!

For those uninitiated with the flick, it follows Dar, a warrior with the power to communicate with the animal kingdom, on his quest to avenge the destruction and mass murder of his village by the tyrannical wizard Maax.  Along the way there are plenty of painted tigers, hot-bodied Stygian witches, and freaky bird people that make this film a true fantasy cult classic!  In the episode we discuss the fantasy/barbarian genre, the violence and adult content in the film, cinematographer John Alcott and his amazing use of lighting, the special effects, and the wonderful score by Lee Holdridge.  We take a closer look at some of the actors in our regular segment, Hey Do I Know That Guy, as well as playing Hollywood moguls in a segment we like to call It’s Time For a Recast!

You can head on over to the Cult Film Club, or you can download it directed by right-clicking and saving here!

On the other end of the Valentine’s day spectrum I joined back up with the Saturday Supercast, this time talking with Jerzy Drozd and Dave Roman all about what it was like being a boy growing up in the 80s who watched girl’s cartoons…

We kick off with talk about the surprisingly intense My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle, then move on to The World of Strawberry Shortcake, and close with a chat about outrageous rocker gals on guitar-shaped motorcycles, Jem!  You can find the episode at Sugary Serials.com, or you can right click and download it here!

If these shows don’t say “I love you”, then I don’t know what does…

Cult Film Club Episode 3 and Chasing Marin Kanter…

Hey folks, just wanted to take a second an point to the release of the 3rd episode of the Cult Film Club podcast, my new project with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  We’re having a ton of fun producing this show and if you’re a movie buff like me there’s sure to be something fun in the episodes for you.  This time we chose to discuss the 1966 Sergio Corbucci spaghetti western Django starring Franco Nero as the mysterious coffin-dragging gunfighter out for bloody revenge!

To listen to the show you can either visit the Cult Film Club, find and subscribe to the show in iTunes, or download it directly here (right click and save!)

I’ve also been writing some articles for the club including my recent experience watching the 1978 Walter Hill flick The Driver and the 1982 punk rock classic Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.  I totally have a crush on Marin Kanter from that flick by the by…

Also, if you want to know what films we’ll be covering next, you can join our totally rad club and get the inside scoop on our plans and access to contests and stuff (like this one where you can win a free shirt from Ript courtesy of the Cult Film Club!)

See how they GLOW!

Even though I usually take a winter hiatus from Branded, I’m far from inactive this season.  This year I’m using the time to focus on the newly launched Cult Film Club podcast (as you can see below), and I’ve also been posting some stuff that’ll be exclusive to the CFC site.  It won’t all be of interest to readers of Branded I’m sure, but we will be hitting on a decent amount of 80s stuff.  Last night I posted a list of my personal top five favorite 80s flicks featuring glowing characters.  Yup, you read that right, characters that GLOW!

If you want to see what made my list, head on over to the Cult Film Club and check it out.  Also, what would make your list of flicks featuring glowing characters?

Hear me talking about cult films over at the Cult Film Club…

Paxton, Jaime and I are back with the second meet-up of the Cult Film Club.  For this episode we decided to side-step a discussion of a particular film in lieu of talking about cult movies as a genre.  We attempt to break down what makes a film “cult” (is it the content, the audience, or other criteria), while also tackling some questions about what it takes for a film to maintain that elusive status.  Can a movie lose its cult?  Can a box office blockbuster be forgotten and become cult over time?  We also spend some time looking back at (ranting about) our shared experiences with Kevin Smith’s Viewaskewiverse, and we try to figure out what went wrong.  We ended up recording a much longer conversation than anticipated, so we broke this one down into two parts.  You can expect part 2 in the coming weeks.

Head on over to the Cult Film Club and give the episode a listen, or you can right-click and save this file to download -> Cult Film Club, Episode #2: General Cult Talk, Part 1.

If you like what you hear you can subscribe to the Cult Film Club on iTunes.

You can also join our not-so-exclusive but totally rad club so you can know which movie(s) we’ll be discussing next and watch along with us!

We do our best to scratch the surface of the general discussion of cult, but it’s impossible to cover it from every angle so we welcome your thoughts, comments and questions on the topic.

Cult Film Club: Episode 1, The Wraith

For the inaugural meeting of the Cult Film Club, Paxton, Jaime, and myself convene to watch and discuss the 1986 sci-fi, western, carsploitation flick, The Wraith.

Directed by Mike Marvin, The Wraith stars Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid, Clint Howard, Sherilyn Fenn, Nick Cassevetes, Matthew Barry, and more importantly, the $1.5m Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor.

Plot in 60 Seconds: A young gang of road pirates are on a rampage terrorizing a desolate south western town until a lone hero mystically emerges from the netherworld.  Equipped with a sleek futuristic car, this techno-wraith begins stalking the gang, seeking vengeance with automotive carnage at every precarious turn.

In this episode, we discuss all aspects of the film including our favorite scenes, the Hollywood legacies associated with the actors, the various film influences and homages, the pitch-perfect hair metal soundtrack, as well as the director’s outline for the sequel that never materialized.  Listen to find out how Johnny Depp is tied to the film, how we almost got a scene with a desert witch, and whether or not Charlie Sheen had a terrible case of turtledick during filming!

(Or right-click and save this file to download -> Cult Film Club, Episode #1: The Wraith)

If you like what you hear you can subscribe to the Cult Film Club on iTunes.

You can also join our not-so-exclusive but totally rad club so you can know which movie(s) we’ll be discussing next and watch along with us.

Films aside from the Wraith mentioned in this episode include: High Plains Drifter, Pale Rider, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Exorcist, American Graffiti, Tron, Tron: Legacy, and The Crow.

Introducing the Cult Film Club!

So I know it’s been pretty quiet around here, but that’s not all that strange as longtime readers will know that this is sort of my unofficial yearly hiatus time.  But, this year there’s a better reason for the sparse posting as I’ve been working on a super secret project that I can now start talking about!

Announcing the Cult Film Club, a monthly podcast and blog about MOVIES WE LOVE TO DEATH (despite how bad, weird or obscure they are.)  In fact, we love them because they’re bad, weird or obscure!  Collectively our hosts Paxton Holley (Cavalcade of Awesome.net & the Nerd Lunch Podcast), Jaime Hood (Shezcrafti.com), and well, me, will be discussing and analyzing cult films from the 60s and beyond.  We possess an impressive amount of useless pop culture knowledge, but we’re no cinema snobs–just a couple of guys (and a girl) who really like movies.  Jaime did an outstanding job on the website, too by the by.

So grab a Big Kahuna burger and a tasty beverage–our Feature Presentation is about to begin!

The inaugural episode of the Cult Film Club Podcast is scheduled to debut on December 5th, but in the interim we invite you to check out our new website where you can listen to a show promo and consider joining the club.

You can also find the promo and subscribe to the show on iTunes.

To go along with everything else we have a brand new Facebook page, and we’re on the Twitters too.

You can also sign up for the Official Cult Film Club Bulletin to get access to these cool benefits:

-Our Official Member Bulletin email
-An early heads-up about which movie(s) we’ll be covering next so you can watch along with us and be ready to hear the discussion
-A social media shout-out and a link back to your site or blog on our Members page*
-A stylish badge for your site
-Chances to participate in our contests and giveaways
-Securing +100 to your cult film cred and our humble gratitude!

*Cult Film Club reserves the right to deny membership and/or linking privileges to any person or website we deem unworthy due to suspicions of spamming, inappropriate content, or for any other reason based solely on our discretion.  We may love terrible movies but we do have some standards…