I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
Summer is a great season for blockbusters and indie dramas, but it’s also a great time for horror movie collectors to stock up on their Halloween-friendly titles before the holiday rolls around.
This week has two restored genre films ready to scare and entertain.
NINJA III: THE DOMINATION [Collector’s Edition]
Full disclosure: I have never seen this 1984 sequel, nor have I seen the previous two entries (1981’s ENTER THE NINJA and 1983’s REVENGE OF THE NINJA). However, you don’t need to see the first two films, because they barely have anything to do with each other other than having star Shô Kosugi in it (but he plays a different character in each film). So really, you could pop this in and enjoy all its action and horror glory like a crime-of-the-week show.
NINJA III: THE DOMINATION is a goofy flick that’s easy to love. If you invite some friends over and pour yourselves some drinks, you’re bound to be cracking up and finding yourself thrilled by the silly plot.
In the film, an aerobics instructor (and telephone linewoman, too?) named Christie Ryder (a terrific and fully committed Lucinda Dickey) becomes possessed by an evil ninja spirit when she comes to his aid. The ninja went on a killing rampage and wound up eating a lead salad. After that deadly encounter, it’s safe to say the ninja’s spirit needs to find a new meat capsule (like CHILD’S PLAY, but 86 the doll) to carry out his sinister mission. This is where Christie comes in.
The combination of evil mixed with a person with feathered hair (like Sarah Connor in the original TERMINATOR) who likes to dance to over-the-top ‘80s pop and soak herself in V8 juice when making love to a man, well, it’s something. On top of all the insanity that happens, there are some really great action sequences and horror moments (one exorcism scene is actually quite well done).
Extras: The Scream Factory Collector’s Edition comes with reversible cover art and a slipcover; new interviews with Dickey, actor Jordan Bennett (the lover in the V8 juice scene), producer and stuntman Alan Amiel, and production designer Ellentuck and co-composer Misha Segal (audio only) featuring isolated tracks from the original score; an audio commentary with director Sam Firstenberg and stunt coordinator Steve Lambert; a theatrical trailer (with optional commentary) and a still gallery.
Rated R, 94 minutes.
Director: Ryan Schifrin
Starring: Matt McCoy, Haley Joel, Christien Tinsley, Karin Anna Cheung, Ashley Hartman, Natalie Compagno, Jeffrey Combs, Rex Linn, Lance Henriksen, Dee Wallace and Paul Gleason
Available today through mvdshop.com.
One of my favorite home distribution companies, the MVD Rewind Collection, released their seventh title on Tuesday. Like NINJA III, 2006’s ABOMINABLE knows it’s not CITIZEN KANE and simply wants you to have a bloody good time.
Abominable is about a bigfoot creature. The monster is hiding out in the woods and chowing down on whatever meat he can find, including those who live nearby.
The cast is like a greatest hits ensemble. It features Jeffrey Combs (RE-ANIMATOR trilogy), Lance Henriksen (ALIENS) and Dee Wallace (CUJO). At the center, however, is Matt McCoy (THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE), whose character pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW. He’s a physically handicapped man who is suspicious of some unusual activity going on around his cabin. The cabin next door to him, occupied by a group of city girls (Haley Joel, Karin Anna Cheung, Ashley Hartman and Natalie Compagno) celebrating an upcoming marriage, seems like a promising target for the deranged Sasquatch.
Although ABOMINABLE has a somewhat made-for-TV aesthetic and acting style that would have Tommy Wiseau jumping for joy, the silly situations and practical effects leave a footprint. There is one scene that will amp you up; it involves somebody being snatched pulled through the window and breaking in half. It’s gruesome but in a fun kind of way.
I think the tone, music, and inclusion of the late Paul Gleason (whose sheriff character even has a coffee mug that pays tribute to his character from THE BREAKFAST CLUB) all contribute to movie’s satisfying zest.
Extras: The MVD Rewind Collection release includes a reversible retro-esque cover art and a slipcover, a lengthy director’s introduction, an audio commentary with the filmmakers and stars, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, the director’s student films, a theatrical trailer, a photo gallery and a collectible poster.