Joining me for a very bad-ass discussion are three of the greatest henchmen to have ever worked incongruously to exact the scheme of the evil main bad guy: the big Green Beret Cooke (Bill Duke; Predator, Action Jackson), the very mellow Diaz (Gary Carlos Cervantes; Scarface, Wild Wild West), and funny guy Sully (David Patrick Kelly; The Warriors, John Wick). These three men graciously took the time to reflect on their Commando experiences, including their (death) scenes, their memories of the departed Charles Meshack, who played fellow henchman Henriques, and what the film has come to mean to each of them.


Part One of "Franchise Regeneration" explored the entire history of the Universal Soldier franchise, including its wacky, wacky path, but it mostly examined the two newest entries, Regeneration and Day of Reckoning, directed by filmmaker John Hyams. Taking a series of increasingly silly films that had gone way off the rails, Hyams reinvented the characters and concepts established in Roland Emmerich’s 1992 original film, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, and implanted them in a post-Batman Begins world where action films dropped the humor and puns and embraced the darkness.  In this extensive less-of-an-interview-and-more-of-a-conversation, Mr. Hyams talks about his start in documentary film, how he landed the gig of directing Universal Soldier: Regeneration, his love for John Carpenter, his optimism over Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5, the importance of exploring new ideas, and what the future holds for the Universal Soldier franchise.


Writer/director David Schmoeller might not be a household name—maybe not even for your most prolific of horror fans—but he’s given us two undeniable minor horror classics: 1979’s Tourist Trap and 1989’s Puppet Master (which would go on to spawn over a dozen sequels), along with the more obscure horror productions Catacombs, Netherworld, and the Klaus Kinski voyeur-creeper flick Crawlspace. Except for his steady creation of short films, like the fascinating Please Kill Mr. Kinski, he's remained quiet on the director's chair, instead focusing on academia. After thirteen years, Schmoeller returned with a very different kind of horror sadly based on a true story. David was gracious enough to participate in an interview in which he dishes on his newest and controversial independent feature Little Monsters, life imitating art, Fox News, and much more.


Tourist Trap (its Unsung Horrors entry here) is the most insane movie you likely haven't seen. I'd attempt to explain exactly what it's about, but I would become lost in the subplots and sub-sub-plots and I'd question if I were actually remembering everything significant to mention, and then I would likely wander away to satisfy my impulse to watch it again. Simply, it is a 1979 oddity about a group of stranded kids, living mannequins, a man with telekinesis, and a lot of nightmarish imagery. It is terrifying and absurd and hilarious and disturbing somehow all at once. It is a mind-blowing film that offers dozens of questions with little answers. If there's one person who could shed light on this unheralded little beauty, it would be the film's director, David Schmoeller, returning to The End of Summer for a frank discussion on the film's origins, a little about Puppetmaster, working with Charles Band, and the 1970s.


Lonesome Wyatt and The Holy Spooks are no stranger to The End of Summer. Though he made a name for himself with Those Poor Bastards, an act that infuses country and Americana with goth and darkness, it is as Lonesome Wyatt and The Holy Spooks where something clicked with me in a way that it feels legitimately special. Add a scratchy layer of vinyl grain and Wyatt’s music could easily sound as if it were plucked right out of the 1970s, where society seemed suddenly enamored with death, evil, and the very real possibility of the devil walking amongst us. While on a break from touring, Wyatt was kind enough to answer a few questions about his newest release – “Halloween is Here” – his history with/as The Spooks, and his life as a seeker/celebrator of the morbid.


I speak with Dustin McNeill, owner of the Phantasm Archives, moderator of the Phantasm Community, longtime Phantasm phan, and now author, who has penned Phantasm Exhumed: The Unauthorized Companion, The Strange Case of Phantasm Ravager, and Slash of the Titans: The Road to Freddy vs. Jason, all now available from Harker Press. In the author's own words, Phantasm Exhumed is "a meticulously researched look at the chronological day-by-day making of the four Phantasm films from script page to world premiere as told through the stories and anecdotes of cast, crew, producers and effects makers. In addition to the four film sections, Phantasm Exhumed contains a Primordium chapter that covers in less detail the making of Don Coscarelli's first two films, Jim the World's Greatest and Kenny & Company."


Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (review here) is a film released by the infamously prolific Asylum Films. The film, whose release preempted that of the bigger-budgeted Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by almost a month, is a heavily inspired tale of our sixteenth president forced to fight legions of the undead. In this case, the film replaces one mythical creature with another – from vampires to zombies – who Lincoln decapitates with great vengeance and furious anger. It stars fan favorite Bill Oberst, Jr. in the title role, as well as a supporting cast of relative unknowns. Among the cast is Christopher Marrone, who sports a caterpillar mustache and Civil War-era garb to play Pat Garrett, historically famous for the assassination of outlaw William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Chris was nice enough to share his experiences on the film, as well as his career, his views on the current state of horror, and what he has lined up in the future.

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