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TarsTarkas.NET turns 15!!!

Happy Bert Day
We all must have fallen into a wormhole because somehow TarsTarkas.NET is 15 years old! Somehow, time has continued to march on despite our insistence that we’d rather just watch weird and wonderful movies from around the globe. What a jerk! Over that 15 years TarsTarkas.NET has seen a lot of action, caused drama, received drama, become the sworn enemy of Bratz, messed with congressional elections, got stacks of legal notices, got threatened by angry actors, got hacked, and introduced rare cinema to thousands.

Let’s also give another shoutout to all the former TarsTarkas.NET contributors over the years! Starting with Iain Norman from the now sadly defunct FantasyFilmscapes.com, our co-reviews are under the Slaying the Dragon tag. And let’s not forget our mad science corespondent, good ol’ Dr. Mobusu, who is totally, totally not me writing under a different name. Once the articles making fun of racist rightwing morons proved popular, skiplogic soon joined in on the fun, becoming our most prolific writer, even joining us at the now on forever hiatus Politisink. skiplogic‘s abilities to drive rightwingers crazy surpassed even my own! dm was another contributor who joined up from the same forums (that would be the SomethingAwful forums), and also joined in at Politisink. dm is very informed on military privatization, private contractors who abuse their power, and all those suspicious links in between the military and government figures. I even managed to get POTUShead to write one article, amazing considering how little free time she had. POTUShead also helped break open the whole congressional election fiasco mentioned above.

Back to the movie world, some CineD goons headed the call to write as well! Sheldrake has contributed the most posts, he writes the amazingly awesome Pre-Code.com site that you need to check out immediately! Donald Hallene is a Disney expert who knows more about theme park rides than any human I know. And let’s not forget Ian Maddison‘s awesome essays as well, which put my writing to shame both in quality and with the amount of traffic they still generate.

Our biggest collaborations was with Todd Stadtman from Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!, whose own site hit 10 years online recently. We cohosted the Infernal Brains Podcast for 19 amazing episodes before I got to busy with real life to do anything on a regular schedule.

Over the past 15 years things have changed a lot, the entire nature of the internet shifted multiple times (for the worse), the political landscape has gone bonkers, movie distribution changed more times than I can count, sites I love disappeared into the ether, sites that hated us disappeared into the ether, but TarsTarkas.NET remains and will continue to remain to bring you the weird and wonderful.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 29, 2019 at 1:45 pm

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Babysplitters (Review)

Babysplitters

Babysplitters
2019
Written and directed by Sam Friedlander
Babysplitters
The final flick of the 2019 CAAMFest evening was Babysplitters, complete with actors Danny Pudi, Emily C. Chang, and writer/director Sam Friedlander in attendance. It was also the best film of the night! Babysplitters is about a modern American couple trying to weigh their aging biological clocks, desires to have children, yet apprehension of giving up their free time and lack of savings. It’s like a laundry list of all the reasons why people claim Millennials aren’t having kids.

Jeff and Sarah Penaras (Danny Pudi and Emily C. Chang) are getting older and making excuses for why they aren’t with kids yet. Jeff is stuck at a great paying job he hates, while meter-maid Sarah spends her time getting into arguments with angry parkers. Their social circle has dwindled as their friends all have kids and disappear, to the point where their only regular hangout partners are fellow childless couple Don and Taylor Small (Eddie Alfano and Maiara Walsh). Jeff comes up with an idea about a startup that lets people split babies. We’re not going King Solomon on this baby, it’s more like a time share. This idea starts to grow on him, and mix one part a couple with reservations and one part a couple with a medical impossibility to have a baby, and you got yourself a baby sharing arrangement!
Babysplitters
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 15, 2019 at 9:03 am

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Go Back To China (Review)

Go Back To China

Go Back To China movie
2019
Written and directed by Emily Ting
Go Back To China movie
Next up on the 2019 CAAMFest slamfest of movies is Go Back To China, a movie about someone who goes back to China. Hold on, because we also have unexpected Richard Ng! Go Back To China has homespun indie cred and delivers a well-trod story (spoiled girl learns responsibility) with new and exciting settings and characters. The film is at its best when Sasha Li (Anna Akana) is still in fish out of water mode, but it unfortunately fails to stick the landing and just sort of ends, which is a darn shame considering the potential it had.

Spoiled trust fund kid Sasha Li can’t get a job and is blowing through her money on parties and shopping, until she is blackmailed by her father Teddy (Richard Ng Yiu-Hon) to return to China to help out at his toy factory, or she’ll be cut off from the rest of the money. Once there, Sasha has to adjust to both a new culture (she was raised in California) and dealing with her cranky father and her many half-siblings. She has an older half-sister, Carol (Lynn Chen – Saving Face), who already had to go back to China and work with dad, as well as two younger siblings from her dad’s next upgrade wife (since divorced, and dad now has a live-in girlfriend with whom he has an “arrangement” with that is the same age as Sasha)

The different aged family members even becomes a plot point, as they both have their own layers of resentment for the families that they were replaced by but also see the same new families get replaced in turn and the kids get filled with the same resentment. Sasha and Carol spar due to both seeing the other as the favored daughter, Carol longing for Sasha’s freedoms while Sasha seeing Carol as just a goody-goody who does whatever dad wants. Teddy shows he still hasn’t learned to be a real father yet when he upsets the next generation of his kids, leading his daughters to have to lead in picking up the mess. As someone with disappointing family members, this is sadly truer than it ever has to be.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 13, 2019 at 11:56 am

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The Dragon Painter (Review)

The Dragon Painter

The Dragon Painter
1919
Written by Richard Schayer (as E. Richard Schayer)
Based on the Novel by Mary McNeil Fenollosa
Directed by William Worthington

The Dragon Painter
It’s CAAMFest time again, so Tars must chart out a bunch of film he wants to see vs. the actual amount of real world time that he has to go to see the films. This year there was a few Sophie’s Choices among films playing at similar times where I was unable to go to the other shows, so in the end I ended up with three screenings, all in one day! So I’ll make sure all three reviews get put up in one week! First up is 1919’s The Dragon Painter, a silent film presented with a live score!

The Dragon Painter was a production of Haworth Pictures Corporation, which box office star Sessue Hayakawa formed with actor/director William Worthington (hence the name of the company!) This is an important piece of film history, as the big deal is we have Japanese characters being played by Japanese actors, and they aren’t playing stereotypical villain characters, which was the style of the time (and partily how Sessue Hayakawa gained fame!) Hayakawa’s life was amazing, and deserves more focus than just the intro paragraphs of a review of one of his film.

It is easy to see in The Dragon Painter why Hayakawa was so popular, he’s a fountain of pure talent. He begins as a manic madman named Tatsu, obsessed with painting the landscapes, which he claims are paintings of his lady love, a princess who was turned into a dragon by the gods 1000 years earlier. He sleeps in the wilderness and the local villagers largely avoid him (the few who try to cause trouble are easily shook when he threatens them) This is all presented straight, and Hayakawa both sells that a man would live in the wilderness and be obsessed with a dragon princess with a compulsion to paint, but that this is an actual person with the emotional turmoil that the scenario in his mind is causing him painted all over his face.
The Dragon Painter
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 11, 2019 at 6:55 pm

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Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine – RiffTrax Live Trip Report!

Star Raiders Saber Raine
RiffTrax is still traxxing the riffs and the world is still better for it. This time we caught another of their live shows, featuring 2017’s Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine! Not only is this the newest film they’ve ever done, it was also one of the rare live shows where I haven’t seen the film beforehand. And boy I didn’t know what I was missing! Star Raiders is amazing genre pulp made on a shoestring budget and just does a bunch of crazy things that made me love the flick. That also makes it perfect RiffTrax fodder, as a movie with rubber aliens, CGI spaceships, lots of walking through a forest, and a villain who is missing a large portion of his skull means we got ourselves a target rich environment!

Before we got to the feature, we had us a short, this one that taught us an important lesson about telling the truth. At least that’s what the feature claimed, any actual lessons are accidental and you should consult your morality code. A teacher tells a group of students about three boys (why there was this weird framing device I am not certain, unless the movie company just repackaged another story) who wander around and eventually get a bunch of smooth stones from a crazed cement enthusiast and begin chucking them at random things. It’s all fun and games until one of the stones smashes a window and ends up in an old lady’s soup. One of the kids is too scared to run away and she grabs him, then the film ends and the teacher asks the audience of students to discuss telling the truth. Makes perfect sense, right? Crazy moral stories are almost as fun as when there is a creepy animated object teaching children valuable lessons, so this one was a hoot!

Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine begins in space with a confusing battle between forces we have no idea who are who, which is interrupted by Saber Raine in his custom CGI ship. He decides to defend one of his friends, who is from the species that the humans are fighting, so the humans aren’t too happy with their fellow human Saber and try to kill him, except they forgot the part where their ships were inferior and Raine Star Raiders the hell out of them. We cut to years later with the actual plot, which involves Raine being recruited by the bodyguards of the royal family to help rescue the missing children of the Emperor. This involves a lot of walking in the forest as a convenient energy net disrupts technology so they can’t fly around in their ships. The villains are lead by the guy we mentioned who was missing most of his skull, and most of his goons are dead bodies controlled by crystals and robots. What we get are a bunch of actors hamming it up, crazy costumes and makeup, and green screens up the wazoo! This leads to lots of fighting and visual insanity as the plot chugs along in brief bursts in between the wandering around scenes.

As you can imagine, the film presents a riffer’s paradise, and there were tons of jokes about Van Dien, the cgi ships, the makeup effects, the confusion on who the heroes an villains are, and the general plot. Special shout out to Gary, the name they gave one of the bug alien villains, who sadly died (multiple times thanks to the film reusing the mask as different members of the species! Poor Gary….) Some of the heroes came equipped with eyeware that was obviously sunglasses that had one of the eyecovers removed. Overall the riffing was pretty strong, the film has enough entertaining portions that fans will be pleased, and weird people like me would even enjoy the film without Mike, Kevin, and Bill cracking wise. The credits showed that writer/director Mark Steven Grove as well as actress Sara N. Salazar were in attendance. Mark Steven Grove has been making a series of genre films to showcase a lot of his talent pool at the choreography studio he runs, and he just made a fan that will be tracking down more of his filmography. Star Raiders has a big Galaxy Lords vibe, and everyone knows how much we love that one! Hopefully the rest of the batch live up to Star Raiders, and hopefully when RiffTrax Live does The Giant Spider Invasion, we will have another great show! Until then, keep raiding those stars!
RiffTrax Star Raiders Saber Raine
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 9, 2019 at 3:57 pm

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Review)

March of Godzilla 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla King of the Monsters
2019
Story by Max Borenstein, Michael Dougherty, & Zach Shields
Screenplay by Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Directed by Michael Dougherty

Godzilla King of the Monsters
Roaring into theaters is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the follow up to 2014’s American Godzilla that stays in the same universe but ditches most of the cast. It’s now a few years later, the world knows about monsters, and the Monarch group is besieged by people who want to kill the monsters and people who want to set them all free.

This film is in theaters as I publish this, but it’s the kind of movie that is easy to classify. If you loved the first one, you will love this. If you love giant monsters fighting each other but were disappointed by the lack of monsters in the first one, you’ll probably love this one, as there is lots of monster action. If you want a movie with a good story and don’t care about giant monsters, go see Booksmart or something. Godzilla and other monsters smash stuff up! The humans do questionable things in between being boring! It’s a couple of allegories, some more intentional than others. No reason to get all worked up at the RottenTomatoes score like some people were, this isn’t a movie for everyone, it’s a movie for people who like giant monsters smashing things!

And everything after this paragraph is…..

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!!!
Godzilla King of the Monsters
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 2, 2019 at 8:44 pm

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