20 Years of TarsTarkas.NET

20th anniversary cake

Twenty years and still the #1 enemy of Bratz everywhere

Twenty freaking years? Has it been so long? (Yes, a Willow quote, enjoy) When I first started TarsTarkas.NET back in the days of yore, little did I think that it would still be up 20 years on. I definitely don’t remember agreeing that I should get older as time passes, what a load of bunk! Someone really needs to arrest this Father Time character. It’s almost impossible for something to last 20 years on the internet, but here we are. Standing atop a mountain of website corpses. Beating the odds with weird stuff for cool people. And if you are reading this, you are one of those cool people.

Since its inception, TarsTarkas.NET has delivered reviews of global cult and pop cinema, as well as a host of additional reviews, articles, news, podcasts, and plenty of abortive attempts at new projects and features. As much as I could, I tried to get as much and as accurate information as possible in the reviews, turning many of them into long essays with historical information and context. I also strived to be fair to the films, judging them in context with what they are supposed to be and what they represent. As much fun as ripping into awful trash is, it gets repetitive after a while. I mostly just want to talk about the films I love. If I didn’t love these films, I wouldn’t have spent twenty years talking about them. I hope I introduced many people to a whole host of cinematic delights they had never heard of and will spend years chasing down. Heck, I haven’t written a review in far too long, but I’m still hunting down rare and ridiculous movies. If anything, the queue to be written about has just grown exponentially, along with my to-be-watched list.

We’ve evolved from hand-coded html to Mambo/Joomla to WordPress, including a variety of themes and looks. We’ve switched hosting providers as the site grew and shrank. There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff I was doing off and on the past two years. Getting the website updated after too long of neglect. That included all sorts or troubleshooting, plug-in swapping, server program installing, manual reading, furious googling, swearing, theme switching (I’ll probably get a new premium theme eventually), wigit error checking, new graphics, solving why some tables look strange on mobile (only 300-ish articles I’ll have to fix that on lol), and more minutia that I continue to swat aside like the flies they are. I’ve become an expert in hosting and web management, hacking together custom plugins, dealing with several lawsuit threats (all garbage but entertaining garbage), updating web services, and getting things mostly fixed.

The world of cinema has changed as well we’ve gone through multiple cycles of video store/direct to dvd booms, busts, Netflix, RedBox, the entire MCU, mergers, IP buy-ups, the rise of streaming services, and now those streaming services collapsing under their own costs and mismanagement. Through it all, there has been a lot of cinema gems, a lot of cinema sludge, and a heaping host of boring gray in between.

We’ve made lots of friends along the way, and lost a few close ones. RIP Todd Stadtman, you will never be forgotten. A dream is to one day do more things with collaborators, but first I need to find time to do anything at all first!

The biggest thing is always time. I had hoped I would have gotten more free time to keep writing, but life just doesn’t want things to be that way at the moment. There are brief periods here and there, but it’s not like before when I could just hang out at a bookstore for a few hours and have two or three reviews written. There’s a toddler running around now that gets the attention first. But he does have school and he does go to sleep.

The old old reviews are a little…rough. My writing has improved over the decades and hopefully hasn’t degraded too much during my hiatus. I have done some writing, mostly fiction. Some may be available someday, and if I get free time, you can occasionally find me in the SomethingAwful forums’s Thunderdome writing contests (usually getting near last place, but not always!) I’m also prepping some new reviews, which I think I have promised before, but I really am. There’s been multiple Godzilla films that came out since we hit the pause button! Heck, 2024 had TWO Godzilla films!! There are multiple streaming and web shows! It’s a new golden age. Plenty of weird new films have come out that deserve bigger audiences. Not only that, several films that were basically lost films have shown up in the past few years. All sorts of cool and weird stuff. As we head into the unknown future, might as well learn about some cool films!

Sure, the web dying and a grass-roots effort to try to bring back interesting sites helps motivate me to keep going. But I’d be doing it even if that groundswell wasn’t happening. I just like doing it. And I want to keep doing it. Twenty years is just the beginning!

Beautiful Thrilling Bloody Sword print on Blu-Ray complete with Tars Tarkas commentary!

Do you like swords? Do you like thrills? Do you like boutique Blu-Ray companies and freshly scanned 2K prints of obscure Taiwanese fantasy Snow White films filled with monsters and mayhem? Sure, we all do, but now you can get all those great flavors in one simple package with the Thrilling Bloody Sword Blu-Ray from Gold Ninja Video! I’ve seen the print, and it is freaking beautiful! Much much better than the blurry and washed out VHS and tv rips that are circulating around the web, ones that we ourselves used in our review of Thrilling Sword way back in the long long time ago. And how have I seen the print before the official release? Because I’m in the official release! Yes, Thrilling Sword has a commentary track with yours truly, Tars Tarkas, giving color commentary and interesting factoids along with Gold Ninja Video founder Justin Decloux! Somehow, I found time to get this done despite having a toddler running around demanding all my time, because this release is just awesome and Thrilling Sword/Thrilling Bloody Sword/神劍動山河 deserves a much wider audience! You got seven generals shrunk down to small size (sometimes they even have all seven actors in the scene, but usually not), a queen giving birth to a ball of flesh, a guy turned into a bear, Satan, giant monsters, frog men, definitely not Rodan, totally not King Ghidorah, unsafe flames, trippy visuals, a guy with a butt on his head, phantom limbs, and much much more! This is a movie that when you describe it to people, they don’t believe you! Now they can not believe you but in 2K! It’s a steal at only $20! Plus, you can always rag on me forever for whatever minor error I made in the commentary track! But I guarantee it is 99% correct.

Just look at the beauty of it!

ORDER IT TODAY! Limited to 800 copies!


Watch a Teaser Here


DOUBLE NOTE: If you selected the Subscription Perk from the Gold Ninja Video Indiegogo campaign this will be included, so you don’t need to order it, and it will ship when it becomes available.

There’s nothing like THRILLING BLOODY SWORD, a head-spinning slice of Taiwanese psychotronic cinema that builds a fantasy action movie out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, impossible fight scenes, and a cavalcade of monsters that include a cyclops, a pterodactyl and Satan himself!

A comet impregnates a queen. She gives birth to a fleshy egg. In disgust, the king tosses the egg in the river. Seven little people stumble onto the egg. They stab it with a knife and find a cute baby inside – who grows up to be a beautiful princess. One day, she runs into a prince fighting a multi-headed dragon, and of course, the two royals fall in love. Unfortunately, a group of dastardly wizards want to keep them apart, and they’ll use every creature at their disposal to do it!

Previously available in only a washed-out video transfer, Gold Ninja Video is proud to present this super colourful film in a new 2K Scan taken from the only-surviving 35mm print commissioned exclusively for this release.

In Mandarin with burnt-in English subtitles.


*Commentary Track by World Pop Cinema Scholar Tars Tarkas and Justin Decloux

*He Wrote Every Punch: The Career of Writer/Director Chang Hsin-Yi

*A Beginner’s Guide to Psychotronic Taiwanese Cinema

*Bonus Feature Film: Incredible Kung Fu Mission (1979)

I said to ORDER IT TODAY! Why are you still here? Get to buying, bub!

Remembering Todd Stadtman

Todd Stadtman passed away on January 9th, 2021 Todd was a musician, writer, movie lover, and cofounder with me of the Infernal Brains Podcast. Most importantly, he is my friend and I’m going to miss him dearly. Many people knew Todd from his long career as a musician, but I really am not someone who listens to a lot of music, so I knew Todd mostly from the cinema aspect. That’s what I’ll be focusing on here.

I first met Todd back around 2007-8 when I was still in graduate school, I had stumbled across an old program for a Jane Bond film festival and googled some of the titles of this fascinating genre I had never heard of, and one of the top hits was this website from Todd Stadtman called The Lucha Diaries. He was attempting to watch every Santo movie (which he managed), and then after that expanded to more Mexican cinema, and then funky films from across the globe. The writing was great, and he lived close by (I was in Santa Cruz at the time while he lived in San Francisco) so I shot him an email. I don’t do that often, and it’s even rarer when the person writes back, but Todd did, and soon we were trading emails and eventually met up in person at a bar in the Mission called Docs Clock. I’m normally very shy and reserved so I brought along my wife and we ended up chatting for hours. I’m not 100% certain but I think this is when we also then went to a burrito place and Todd’s amazing wife Liza dropped by, but that may have been a later time at the same burrito place. For once, meeting someone you met on the internet didn’t mean that you were meeting up with crazed killers and we hit it off well enough to start making plans to go see movies together. Todd and I became semi-regular movie buddies, whenever a festival had something weird or a revival theater had something cool we’d see if we could meet up. We also had just some days to hang out or go out on double dates with our wives. We don’t make a lot of friends easily so it was nice to have another set of cool people to spend time with. Todd was personable and easy to get along with, his boundless enthusiasm for cinema winning him many fans. Todd was an active participant in the Drive-In Mob on Twitter, a movie watch-along that I was rarely home in time to join in, but I enjoyed seeing the commentary run by on my feed as most of the films were familiar favs.

Todd and I created and cohosted a podcast called the Infernal Brains. At this point it was both of our first forays into podcasting, so we had to learn everything as we went. The first few episodes have some questionable quality audio, but we were both working our best to make it sound as good as we could. Beyond skype calls, some episodes were recorded in Todd’s kitchen as we searched for the best audio quality we could muster (We tried both a shared microphone and literally sitting across from the table from each other recording on our own laptops!) We went from having a few notes about the films to literal stacks and stacks of papers, it was like we were preparing for finals before every podcast. We took the “brains” part seriously, and there is no way I would have sounded anywhere near as clear and prepared as I was without his help. You might also notice most episodes are 80% Todd talking, which was by design as Todd had the gift of gab and could just go on endlessly about what he loved, with me occasionally steering him back on topic. The Infernal Brains podcast is one of the best things on TarsTarkas.NET, and I’m eternally sad I just got too busy with night school classes to keep up with it. Todd kept up the enthusiasm with his other podcasts he cohosted, including the Taiwan Noir podcast, which is another must-listen.

Whenever I’d find a new weird movie or stumble across a formerly lost film suddenly appeared on the internet, I’d think how Todd would like it. We traded movies a lot. I mean a lot. I literally have a stack of vcds/dvds on my table that I was slowly transferring to external drives (very slowly), and Todd’s handwriting is on some of them. A good chunk of the movies on this site and FourDK are films we traded with each other. This is where Shaitani Dracula went from just a weird disk I owned to a cult movie phenomenon. Through Todd I met DurianDave, who was another cool movie guy who knew a lot about older Cantonese and Taiwanese cinema, especially the Jane Bond films and stars Connie Chan and Josephine Siao. Todd and I was also part of a loose alliance of cool movie bloggers called the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit, which might have been the last of the old style movie blogger leagues. The internet has seemingly become just a few major websites and blogging is on the outs, which makes Todd’s loss even bigger, as he was still active on his site.

Todd and I shared movie tastes but we each had our particular favorite genres. There was still enough overlap that we’d both like the same films. Todd announced he was starting Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! shortly after I met him, and it was great to see (and read) him at full writing blast. That was around the time we were both at our most prolific of site updates, which means that we were in danger of picking the same obscure film to review. Once, I had just gotten done watching a movie only to hop on and see Todd had just published a review of it. When I brought this up with Todd, he admitted he had a similar experience. When searching for a lot of topics related to the genres we love, the top two results are almost always from Todd and my sites. This became a running joke between us about how little coverage the films we watched got in English language publications, but has also become a thing that other people have told me, that they were interested in the same types of films or actors/directors, but kept only finding articles from Todd or I. We had some fun with being similar on occasions, as my tastes cast a wider net even into mainstream stuff, a response from Todd resulted in us going back and forth reviewing different versions of Puss in Boots movies. Todd and I shared the philosophy that these weren’t terrible movies to mock and feel better than, but they were great fun on their own. That movies were good when masked wrestlers fight Dracula or Taiwanese kaiju rampage or funky space ladies invade Earth. Todd translated his love of genre cinema into a book, and Funky Bollywood is essential reading for any gonzo cinema fan.

I lost touch with Todd in the past few years which is something I’ll always regret. As I got too busy for some projects, we still regularly went to go see the various RiffTrax Live events together at the downtown SF theaters. Eventually, the theaters stopped carrying the events, and by then Todd had moved to Oakland. It was just too hard to coordinate me getting off work in the South Bay, driving up to SF, and then finding a theater and then getting Todd back on BART and to Oakland before BART closed. I always assumed we’d just figure something out later. We even emailed a bit back in early 2020 to try to meet up, but by then it was March, my mom was coming into town, and my wife was pregnant with our first child, so I thought I’d just push it until April. Then COVID happened with the lockdowns, and going in public while you have a pregnant wife was a thing I wasn’t going to do. Todd moved to Brooklyn later that year when his wife got a good job offer, and even after I found out, I didn’t think it was the end of the world, he had family around and I’d still be able to hit him up online. I wish I had ended things with one last meet up before he left. I found out he died due to a memorial post by Miguel Rodriguez, as I hadn’t logged into Facebook for years and that was were the updates on his health were.

Todd made me a better writer because he pushed me to do better just through sheer enthusiasm and his own good writing. He made me a better person just due to being such a good person. No one ever had a bad word to say about Todd, he was friendly to everyone. Todd had lots of different circles of friends, I was just a small part of one, but he made a big impression on me, and Todd Stadtman will always live on in me. I cried when I heard the news. I’ve been crying off and on all week. I cried when I wrote this. I’ll still be sad for a good while afterwards. I’ll probably be misty eyed every time I see War of the Gargantuas. But I’m determined to make him proud. It was hard to write this, it made it more a finality that Todd won’t be there to answer my message. Even while I was finishing writing this, someone dropped me a message about a certain Indian film director showing up with more work that Todd would have jumped on immediately. Todd led a full life, and I’m going to be as much like Todd as I can and accomplish as many goals as I can. He was very prolific with his writing, not only are there a ton of sites with articles to read, he has novels and some finished stories that have yet to be published according to a post of his. Hopefully I’ll get to read them too someday. I love you Todd, you were the cool big brother I never had. I’m sorry we didn’t get one last meetup, I’m sorry my son will never get to meet one of the men who influenced him on his dad’s weirdo hobbies. You better have access to all the cool lost films wherever you are, or I’m going to have to kick some afterlife butt one day.

Things you can do –
Todd’s wife Liza posted that you can express your condolences by donating in his name to one of the following charities:
Planned Parenthood
Southern Poverty Law Center

And don’t settle for whatever is on Netflix, go seek out cool movies that are hard to find but looks cool, subtitles be damned. There is a whole world of cinema out there just waiting for an audience!

Cool Todd Stadtman links –

Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!
The Lucha Diaries

Teleport City
Movie-fan Princess

Funky Bollywood
SF Punk Trilogy –
Please Don’t Be Waiting For Me
So Good It’s Bad
Never Divided

Movie podcasts:
Infernal Brains
Taiwan Noir
Monster Island Resort guest episodes (embedded in post)
Fighting Femmes, Fiends, and Fanatics (video)

Music podcasts:
Friday’s Best Pop Song Ever

Radio shows:
Pop Offensive

Out of the Past: The Best and the Rest of Todd Stadtman 1999 – 2007
Only I Can Save You
TheLuchadiaries youtube channel (with live show recordings)
B TEAM – “I Fall”
B TEAM – “Eyes Bleeding”

If you know of more please let me know and I’ll add them!

Image via Todd’s Facebook

Son of Tars and the obvious site slowdown

Godzilla Minya teach
You’ve probably noticed things have been pretty quiet here lately at TarsTarkas.NET. There’s a good reason, which is there is now a baby Tars Tarkas running around! Of course that means I don’t got a bunch of free time to watch ridiculous and cool movies from around the globe and offer exciting write-ups about them. But TarsTarkas.NET is not going anywhere, it’s just in slowmo mode for a while. There are a bunch of almost finished reviews sitting around, and eventually some will get pushed out and new ones written. Do I have a time schedule for this? Nope! But it’s going to happen…someday! Until then, we got a big archive of reviews and I still have time to yell at idiots on Twitter. Until things get back to a bit of normal, have fun!

Snow Monster (Review)

Snow Monster

aka 大雪怪 aka Da Xue Guai
Snow Monster 大雪怪
Written by Sheng Fan Zhang and Pian Jia Leng
Directed by Huang He

Snow Monster 大雪怪
NetFlix isn’t the only streaming platform pumping out a ton of their original movies to drive up views, China has several big streaming companies and they are all creating their own content in a bet to win sole control of views. Streaming platform Youku has greenlit a ton of original content, but the films of interest to us are several that are basically SyFy Channel original movies! They got giant snakes, giant alligators, sea monsters, the list goes on and on. But most importantly, they have Snow Monster, which is pretty much King Kong in snow demon form. Also there are ice sharks! Yes, Snow Monster fights the ice sharks! This is some of what we call pretty amazing stuff.

The Snow Monster himself is not a gorilla or even an ape. It appears to be a huge furry satyr, complete with a long tail. The fur is snow white, the hands only have three fingers and a thumb, the legs are bent like goat legs, and the head is adorned with two large goat horns, one of which is partially snapped off. The monster himself is a mix of guy in suit and CGI depending on the scene needs, but more often than not he is just a guy standing there reacting to what is going on. This makes it sort of charming in a low budget cinema sort of way.
Snow Monster 大雪怪
Of course there are no English subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles! The plot is pretty easy to follow, the monsters don’t need to talk, and while we have all seen this before, and it’s fun to see it again done different with the shadow of the original sprawling over it. Part of the film has the same trouble the Peter Jackson King Kong did, in that we spend a bunch of time running around with monsters that aren’t the giant monster of the title. I don’t know how much planning you need for a Snow Monster movie but there are like 25 people credited. If this keeps up with the other Youku films I got on the docket than I will keep you posted, otherwise I would advise getting a job as a film planner as they seem to be giving them away! I identified who I could in the cast, but as I don’t know what the names of the characters they are playing are, I’m just going to refer to them by their real names. Since this is a harder to find movie (unless you are specifically looking for it), this will be more of a recap review.
Snow Monster 大雪怪
Snow Monster does keep the monster in the winter wonderland where it exists instead of having a sequence where it is brought back to the city to cause trouble. That’s obviously a cost consideration, but it also points to the reality of transporting a gigantic monster out of a hostile environment and then into an urban environment without their being any sort of issues, something most of the Kong films just handwave away.

Snow monster, snow sharks, monster birds, a random dinosaur skeleton that seems put there because there were big skeletons in Kong: Skull Island except those were Kong’s family and here it makes no sense unless Snow Monster’s dad was a tyrannosaur. It’s Snow Monster, baby!
Snow Monster 大雪怪
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In the Shadow of the Moon (Review)

In the Shadow of the Moon

In The Shadow Of The Moon
Written by Gregory Weidman and Geoffrey Tock
Directed by Jim Mickle

In The Shadow Of The Moon
In the Shadow of the Moon is a fun little time travel murder mystery that gets too convoluted for its own good. In 1988, three seemingly random people drop dead, blood and their brains leaking out of their face. Officer Locke (Boyd Holbrook) manages to insert himself into the case as part of his bid to make detective. His partner Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine) is less enthused about the extra work, and brother-in-law and current detective Holt (Michael C. Hall) doesn’t want his sister’s husband messing up his first big case. Soon it is evident the dead have all been attacked, and a mysterious woman (Cleopatra Coleman) is responsible. After a chase she winds up dead, but who she is or how she ended up with a police service revolver bullet in her hand despite no officer shooting that night remains a mystery.

The only problem is she shows up again 9 years later alive and killing again, and will keep reappearing as an increasingly obsessed and isolated Locke attempts to solve the mystery of who she’s killing and how she’s doing it. Things are best when we don’t know anything and are caught up in what is going on. There is a clue in the very beginning, but it becomes obvious really fast what is going on and why, and once you figure that out all the rest of the twists unravel in your mind and it just becomes a waiting game for them to happen on screen.

Speaking of mysterious deaths, the writers just go and fridge Locke’s wife by having her die in childbirth, which he misses part of due to the time traveling killer. Locke’s estrangement from his family as the years go on mean we drop most of the supporting cast that hasn’t died by other means, forcing Boyd Holbrook to largely carry things on his own. While he isn’t bad, sometimes it good to have more people to interact with for a film instead of it just being a succession of things that happen to Locke.
In The Shadow Of The Moon
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