Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)



Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (Hong Kong/Japan, 1991) - Color, Director(s): Lam Nai-Choi
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
[HK: Cat III]
Approx. 91 min.

Z-rating: 5 out of 5 stars for a entertainingly violent movie

Cheese Factor: 5 out of 5 stars

This extremely campy cult favorite is one of the most wildly entertaining movies I've ever seen. Known for it's excessive and over-the-top violence, a couple scenes have been circulating on the internet for many years now. While many people seem unable to recognize the movie by its title, almost everyone I've shown this movie to can recognize at least one or two scenes from it. For such a popular viral video, the movie that it's from is virtually unknown to the public. I find this unacceptable!!! That's like everyone quoting from the same book except no one knows the author or title of the book.... which I'm sure happens way too often as well. Anyway, I hope you brought a poncho!


In the future, all prison systems have been privatized. In the distant year of 2001, a man is sent to prison. Not just any man, Ricky is apparently the baddest motherfucker that ever lived... but we'll get back to him in a moment. We see a prison transport unload a group of new inmates to what has to be the roughest prison in the world, ruled over by the Gang of Four. A prison where captains pick on old men and if you question them about a towel, you get your face cut open with a razor!


Ricky's troubles begin when he trips the captain that falls face first into a board with nails that happened to be laying on the ground.... for absolutely no apparent reason.


 In retaliation for blinding him in one eye, the captain hires an overweight assassin that is known for being extremely dangerous and violent. This drooling lard ass comes looking for Ricky after he's released from solitary confinement and finds him in the showers. He attempts to start a fight but Ricky punches him SO hard that he puts an arm through his gut, causing all of his intestines to come spilling out. When the captain tries to rush Ricky with a stabbing object, Ricky just catches it with his bare hand and crushes the captain's fingers. He punches a hole through the captain.


Ricky is pulled away by the guards and thrown into his cell where he begins meditating. We see a flashback sequence that explains why he's so powerful. Ricky already possessed superhuman strength since he was young, for no reason that's ever explained. (Although his name in Chinese means that he is #1 in terms of strength) In addition to this, his uncle taught him Qigong which turned him into an invincible superhuman warrior. Able to withstand any attack along with the ability to easily destroy solid objects.


The next day, he's taken to see the Assistant Warden who turns out to be a corrupt one-eyed bastard with a hook hand (who also seems to have an extensive porno collection). The Asst. Warden can't seem to figure Ricky out. Was he a trained killer? Or secret agent? While questioning Ricky and pushing his buttons, he makes a comment about his girlfriend that sends Ricky over the edge. In dramatic fashion, Ricky breaks the Asst. Warden's desk and throws a shadow punch at his face. The Asst. Warden's nose start bleeding though as he realizes that Ricky's attacks can hurt you without touching you.


Ricky continues to be a thorn in the side of the Asst. Warden and begins meddling in the Gang of Four's business. Things get out of hand when Ricky finds out that the Gang of Four has been growing opium. Ricky burns it all down and draws the wrath of the Gang of Four. Now with the Asst. Warden and the Gang of Four after Ricky, it seems as though his problems can't get any worse. That is, until the Warden himself returns...

Nudity: None. Unless you count male asses for all the ladies out there.


Gore: TONS! The violence and gore in this movie is so over-the-top that you can't help but laugh at how absurd it is. During the fight between Ricky and the North Cell's leader, the North Cell leader tries to commit suicide seppuku-style but tries to strangle Ricky with his intestines when Ricky tries to stop him. I'm sure everyone's seen at least one or two gory clips from this movie, floating around on the internet somewhere. 


Awesome: to the MAX!!! Sure the special effects are totally cheesy and, if you're watching the English dubbed version, the dubs are terrible. That's what makes this movie so much fun! Everything is so ridiculous and over-the-top, you just can't help but laugh. This campy blood-drenched gorefest was brought to us by none other than Golden Harvest Productions. These guys are known for bringing us the best of Hong Kong action movies and this one was no exception. They really don't make movies like this anymore. This one was just pure entertainment from beginning to end. I cannot recommend this one enough! Buy a case of beer, order a pizza, and invite your friends over for movie night. This will be fun.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Top 5 Stoner Films for 420!!!



Stoners rejoice!!! Tis 4/20 again and we would like to pay tribute to all our fellow potheads here at the Z-portal. As much as we enjoy mindless entertainment, we enjoy process of becoming mindless just the same!! All lovers of Mary Jane should already be familiar with names like Cheech and Chong, the comedy duo that pioneered the stoner comedy subgenre and have since become practically synonymous with pot smoking itself. I could make a list that consisted of just their films and could even dedicate an entire post to Cheech & Chong themselves. The same goes for another comedy duo by the names of Jay and Silent Bob, two characters penned by Kevin Smith. They appear in enough movies to be in a list of their own as well, so I'm leaving all of them off, along with most pot documentaries. For the sake of some fresh picks this year, we're going for the most entertaining films that haven't been brought up in every pot conversation since the 70's. So grab a bottle Visine, roll up a fattie, and enjoy this mind-numbing Top 5 list of Z-portal's favorite Stoner films:


5. Ted (2012) - A total stoner bromance, this movie is about a guy who likes to skip work and stay home to get baked with his teddy bear. At face value, this might come off as just a silly comedy about a talking teddy bear but the plot is more about two childhood friends that grew up together. Now their friendship is being tested as they make room for new responsibilities in life. Sure, it's not a straight up stoner movie but there's plenty of gags to keep you laughing if you're stoned. Not to mention it's written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, which means there's no shortage of 80's pop culture references. Definitely recommended for fans of Flash Gordon. After smoking a heavy indica, this is a good movie to sit back and enjoy a bit of couch lock with. Bong or a pipe would be good with this one.


4. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) - Yes, I'm sure this movie turns up on many lists of best stoner films but there's a reason for that. This perfectly follows the formula for a stoner film in my opinion. Two guys get baked and get the munchies. They have a craving for White Castle, so they set out on a mission to find some White Castle. Along the way is where they run into the adventure. Isn't that how EVERY pot story goes? You get stoned, get the munchies, and you make the mistake of leaving the house when something crazy happens to you. We've all been there. So hopefully you were smart and pre-purchased your grub this year. Go ahead and tear into your bag of Cheetos or Doritos because the munchies definitely should've set in by now. If you were really prepared, you would've picked up some burgers.


3. Your Highness (2011) - Alright, this one is a personal favorite of mine. I am a HUGE fan of the sword and sorcery genre, which could explain why I'm partial to this one. While not a full-on Scary Movie-style parody, this movie satirizes elements from sword and sorcery films while blending in stoner humor. An example is the old English that they speak in to sound more refined but every other word will be "fuck" or some variation of it. Even though it got buried by critics while it was playing in theaters, this rates very high on my list. One of my absolute favorites, I would say this is a good one to chuckle over with a group of friends after you're all high. After all the munchies, it might be time for a little recharge on that buzz you had goin'. For this movie though, you gotta smoke up with a bit of class. Break out the Hookah if ya got one! If not, your best pipe will do.


2. Half Baked (1998) - Dave Chappelle's tribute to the stoner culture, Half Baked is a classic for potheads. I hear this movie quoted and referenced more often than I care to remember. This movie also happens to be about a stoner who goes out for munchies and get caught up in a bunch of trouble. Only this guy lands himself in jail. Now his other 3 buddies must start selling pot to bail him out. There was no lack of star power behind this movie with cameos from Snoop Dogg, Bob Saget, and a ton of other famous faces. Also, who can forget the smoking session they have with "Billy Bong Thornton". Grab your favorite bong, fill it with ice, and gather your friends around... it's time to get BAKED!!!


1.
Grandma's Boy (2006) - Finally, my pick for personal favorite stoner film goes to Grandma's Boy!!! This is easily one of the most quotable movies and it combines two of the best hobbies in the world: Getting high and playing Video Games!!! This video game tester gets kicked out of his apartment and has to move in with his grandmother and her roommates. Between helping around the house with chores and testing video games at work, he smokes a little pot to unwind. Since getting stoned and playing video games are a couple of my favorite hobbies, I can definitely relate to this movie on that level. With some seriously laugh out loud hilarious scenes and infinitely quotable dialogue, this is a stoner movie that ALL stoners should see. Load up the last of your herb into the bong and get ready to switch the Xbox or PS3 after this movie. You're going to want to play some fighting games with your buddies.


And that, was Z-portal's Top 5 picks for favorite stoner films. Like I said, I left off a lot of movies from this list and the top 3 movies honestly probably could've been in any order. I know a lot of stoners will be bummed for not seeing Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back or Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke. Those are milestoner movies, they'll always get the love they deserve. So will Dazed and Confused, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Reefer Madness. The only movie that I do feel bad leaving off was Pineapple Express but I figured that would definitely come up in a search for stoner comedies. Perhaps one year, Z-portal can do a Top 420 list and include ALL these movies.


Marijuana use in Movies

Pot smoking is becoming more accepted in movies, from Craig T. Nelson rolling a joint in Poltergeist to Marlon Wayans being rolled INTO a joint in Scary Movie 2. As the public becomes more accepting of the medicinal uses of marijuana, we'll see it in more and more casual appearances. Sure, you'll have a movie like Evil Bong every once in awhile, where the entire movie revolves around pot and getting stoned. However, we're seeing more instances where weed isn't central to the story and it's just being casually smoked.


Idle Hands (1999) - Stoner/Horror/Comedy is I would best classify this movie. The central plot is about a kid whose hand becomes possessed and starts killing people. The kid is completely oblivious to all this and goes to get high with his buddies. I will admit that he has an awesome inhaler/pipe hanging from his neck that he smokes weed out of. I thought of converting my old inhalers into pipes but I wouldn't imagine the burning plastic tasting too good.


Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) - The fifth installment to the Leprechaun franchise sees our favorite homicidal Irish folklore go to the hood!!! There, he runs into Ice-T and smokes a joint with him. That's when our buddy Lep drops this little jingle on Ice-T:

"A friend with weed is a friend indeed, but a friend with gold is the best I'm told."

A friend indeed. What other shenanigans can you expect when there's a leprechaun in DA HOOD!!!


Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003) - Not only does he go TO the hood, this leprechaun actually goes BACK as well. So this time, he's in a different hood with a different group of people. This group is just trying to hustle for money when they happen upon the leprechaun's gold. One of them is trying to sell drugs (marijuana) to get out of the hood. Another one of them is just a total stoner who trades in his share of the gold for a potato sack full of grass. The biggest twist comes when they need clovers to defeat the leprechaun and the pothead says he's been finding clovers in his weed.


Freddy vs. Jason (2003) - One of the first and one of the best crossover movies, this throwdown was EPIC for horror movie fans. Two slasher icons going head-to-head against each other. Everyone had their bets down for their favorite to win. Aside from a couple of stoners at the party they were having at the field, the scene that stands out most to me is when Freddy Krueger turns into that weird worm thing and blows smoke into the face of that Jay-wannabe pothead character. What happened to Silent Bob? Maybe he got killed back in the field by Jason.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) - On their way to Lynard Skynard concert, five youths pick up a mysterious hitchhiker that proceeds to blow her brains out inside of their van. Gravy! And so, begins the nightmare they are about to endure. So where were these kids coming from? Apparently, they just got back from Mexico with pinata full of marijuana. As if smoking pot wasn't a good enough reason to get you killed in a horror movie, this kids were trying to smuggle it!!! Guess who's not going to make it home at the end of this movie?


Friday the 13th (2009) - In the recent Friday the 13th reboot, a group of kids actually go LOOKING for Camp Crystal Lake. Are they the Scooby Doo gang trying to unravel the mystery of murders here? No, they're actually just a group of kids looking for the marijuana that supposed grows wild here. One of them actually stumbles onto the area where it's growing, only to get picked off by Jason himself. Ah, kids. What won't they do to get high?


Zombieland (2009) - Even after the zombie apocalypse, the stoners will roam the Earth. When our heroes make it to Bill Murray's house and are asked what he can get for them, we see that they want a big bowl of that sticky green bud. Of all the Earthly pleasures they could've asked for. This was just a quick scene but at least they do it big... out of a hookah! Ready the munchies cause after you watch this movie, you'll have a craving for Twinkies.


The Cabin in the Woods (2011) - Then more recently, we had a fantastic horror geek's wet dream in The Cabin in the Woods. A group of kids are headed up to an old cabin in the woods for vacation meanwhile, it seems as if their doom is being engineered. Sort of like a twisted version of the Truman Show, a group of scientists are trying to ensure that an ancient sacrificial ritual is carried out properly. The biggest wrench in their plans? A totally baked yet paranoid stoner that seems to think he's being watched. Problem is, he's absolutely right. This is one of those rare occasions where the pothead becomes the hero despite this not being a stoner film. Yeah!!! Maybe us potheads are finally getting a little respect around here. Not to mention he has that totally bad ass collapsible bong that turns into a coffee mug. This guy was totally awesome.


I hope everyone had a fun time reading this. I would like to wish everyone a Happy 420!!! Stay high, stay safe, and enjoy yourselves. I know there were tons of movies that didn't make the list, so go ahead and list your own personal Top 5 Stoner flicks in comments section. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to smoke a bowl myself. Cheers!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Evil Dead (2013)



Evil Dead (USA, 2013) - Color, Director(s): Fede Alvarez
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 91 min.

Z-rating: 4 out of 5 stars for a genuinely entertaining remake

Cheese Factor: 1 out of 5 stars because the film was serious in tone

The most anticipated remake in the horror community opened to the delight of its blood-thirsty fans. The original is one of the most famous cult films of all time and fans of the original will no doubt be tempted to pick this movie apart. This is supposed to be a re-imagining of the story rather than a shot-for-shot remake.


We follow a group of five friends who have gathered to help their friend Mia kick her drug habit. There's Olivia, who's a registered nurse, and Eric, who teaches high school. Mia's estranged brother, David, is also here to support her and he brought along a girl named Natalie. The nurse is running the show because of her medical knowledge but when they find the book, it's the high school teacher who's curious enough to decipher and read the text out loud. That unleashes the Evil but when Mia starts seeing things, everyone assumes it's just crazy withdrawal talk. They don't realize until it's too late that there's something very real stalking them in the woods and it's going to kill them one by one.

Yes, this is the D-bag that reads the book

This movie is great for a newcomer who is looking for a brutally violent scary movie or for long time Evil Dead fans. I think many will agree that this is a worthy update to a classic while still adding enough to the story to progress the franchise. Let's talk about a couple things that people are going to complain about right off the bat:

The Book - Goes by the name Naturon Demonto just like it did in the original movie but they didn't get the rights for the image so there's no face on this book. Still bound in flesh and looks pretty bad ass, just no face. Might be a big deal to some people but just looked like Leatherface's diary to me.

No Ash - Sorry, he's just not in this movie.

That's really all there is to complain about this movie. Also, if you stay until after the credits, some of that is satisfied for you anyway! I liked how good a lot of the practical effects looked but you could tell there was still some computer effects used to "touch up" certain scenes. Overall, if you're going to nitpick, I'm sure you could find things to complain about. The movie was definitely fun in its own way and I hope to see more like it. Disgusting practical effects, creepy atmosphere, dark tone with a sense of humor. What's not to like?


Nudity: Not much in the T&A department.


Gore: TONS! They don't get too creative with the kills but they definitely went for quantity in bloodshed. With a few gruesome close ups thrown in to make you cringe in your seats.

Awesome: Very. Always nice to see a remake handled well. Despite the amount of blood that was splashed around towards the end, this movie never lost its serious tone. I really enjoyed it and I hope there are many more like it. After hearing about how the entire movie will be done with practical effects and zero CGI hype, I was mildly disappointed to see some on screen but I'm not going to complain. All of it looked fantastic, so that's just a minor complaint from me. I also won't build this movie up too much or it might not live up to the hype. I don't think it was THE best horror movie I've ever seen but I definitely think this was worth my ticket price. For the die hard fans, don't forget to stay until after the credits!!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bizarre Animation



Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a fan of bizarre animation. I even wrote a post titled Twisted Toons and Awesome Animation back when I first started this blog. I grew up adoring the strange and unusual animation of shows like Beavis and Butthead and MTV's Liquid Television. They seemed like the next logical step after watching Nickelodeon's Ren and Stimpy. Unfortunately, I don't get to enjoy sick and twisted animation as much because I hang around my little niece and nephew a lot more nowadays.

First off, I have a short here by a Canadian independent animator by the name of Nick Cross. This guy worked on the "adult" revival of Ren and Stimpy as well as other projects for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, etc.


He also has a blog on here at http://www.nickcrossanimation.com/ - Check him out!

Next up, we've got Felix Colgrave from the Newgrounds community. He won an award about a year ago for Movie of the Year from Newgrounds.


He's got a personal site http://aardvarkbutter.com/

But as I mentioned before, you can also find him on Newgrounds: http://masteraardvark.newgrounds.com/

Monday, April 1, 2013

Grave Encounters 2 (2012)



Grave Encounters 2 (Canada/USA, 2012) - Color, Director(s): John Poliquin
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Approx. 95 min.

Z-rating: 2 out of 5 stars for only being mildly entertaining

Cheese Factor: 4 out of 5 stars for trying to pass the first movie off as "real"

I reviewed the first film as part of "Found Footage Week" that I dedicated the first week of Halloween to last year. I was really surprised by the film because I hadn't heard much about it before I found it during my research and was about ready to write it off as rubbish. As it turns out, aside from a few CGI effects that were thrown in and really sticks out like a sore thumb, the movie was actually decent. They built up just enough back story to give them a good reason to be there. They had a fantastic cast that played their parts really well. Even though I didn't believe that everything I was seeing was really happening, it served as a great haunted house type of movie. So of course, I was ecstatic to hear that they were coming out with a sequel. I never got around to watching it until recently....


This movie fails where the first one succeeded. Instead of a charismatic character in front of the camera, this time we've got an emo Edward Cullen-lookin' motherfucker that spends most of his time sulking in front of it. He starts off as a vlogger who just finishes rating the first Grave Encounters but is also trying to film a movie with his friends. Someone contacts him on Youtube and gives him a mysterious hint that the movie might've been real. From there, Edward starts obsessing over the movie, trying to prove to everyone that it's real. (I know his name is Alex but I'm going to call him Edward)


So Edward convinces the rest of his friends to go on a crazy trip with him to the location where the first movie was filmed. After watching the movie multiple times at home and in the hotel room, they all set off to go prove the place is really haunted. Guess what happens? They get trapped in the house just like the first crew and they're killed off one by one. What gets me is where everyone starts flippin' out and asking "What's happening?? What's going on?!" when everything starts going ape shit on them. Like they didn't just finish watching the movie about a dozen times and was expecting something like this to happen.

"In the jungle, you must wait 'til the dice read five or eight."

In an attempt to tie-in to the first movie, they bring back the original main character, who apparently isn't dead and has just been living on a steady diet of sewer rats for about 9 years. The guy acts kinda like Robin William's character in Jumanji, when he comes back to the real world after living in the game for a few years and now has the knowledge needed to explain how everything works. This guy even made a map tracking the patterns of how the rooms change!

Okay. Looks like it's safe to go inside...

I think what breaks it for me is Richard Harmon (Edward). He just looks like some MTV reality star and I don't find him particularly believable in his role. Now, in all fairness, I don't know if it was his acting or the writing but I didn't care for him before they got into the house. I understand that he was supposed to be obsessing over this movie so much that it was tearing his personal life apart, but as we saw from the beginning, Edward was more into masturbating in his room than he was hooking up with this girl at a party. He stumbles onto a couple facts randomly and suddenly he's ready to throw everything he's got into figuring out what happened to the first Grave Encounters crew. They tried to throw a "twist" ending in but I saw it coming a mile away. This sequel was uninspired and did little to further the first film. This one had a lot of momentum going for it from the first film but falls totally flat.

Funny that they reference [REC] earlier, this scene looks really familiar.

Nudity: One thing that might've scored a few extra points for the film but nope. This movie fails in the T&A department as well.

Gore: Not much gore here. A lot of the bloody scenes are actually flashbacks to the first film. I can't remember anything particular bloody or gory about this one.

"Ghost Hunting" gear, guess they should've brought a Proton Pack!

Awesome: Not. At all. This movie had the stage perfectly set up for it. I liked that they tried to make the beginning more interesting as that's usually the most boring part of any "found footage" film but that wasn't enough to save it. I also liked that they tried to do whatever they could to make the first one seem real. I just feel like you either buy into it or you don't. Those of us that don't buy into it, are immediately drawn out of the movie and end up laughing at it more than screaming. This actually had me laughing more times than it had me saying "Oh shit!" when anything happened. The scene where the weird creature thing grabs the guy through the window made me laugh out loud when he screamed like a bitch. Any mood that the original set was completely destroyed with this movie. I was actually MORE interested in seeing the movie the characters were filming than this pseudo-documentary. This one fails to create any atmosphere of its own and ends up making a laughing stock out of the movie and this "franchise". I doubt there will be a Grave Encounters 3, but if it comes out, you know I'll be watching it!