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Me likee: horror/cult films, beer, vodka, Ramones and other old punk music, old David Bowie/Rolling Stones, and the Simpsons.
Me no likee: George Bush, Wal-Mart, Bob Saget, and work.
I haven't purchased this item yet, although I intend to. Seems like a great value for the number of films included in the set. However, the Amazon product description that calls this a "complete" collection is misleading.
A quick IMDB search on Andy Sedaris reveals that, if you exclude a racing documentary and several made-for-TV movies, he actually directed two feature films before the ones included in this set.
His first was "Stacey," an early 70's movie about a female private detective. The one I had the pleasure of seeing was "Seven," made in 1979, with no connection whatsoever to the Brad Pitt thriller.
It's about seven mercenaries who are hired to take out a group of gangsters on an island. From what I remember, it was campy, sexy, mindless fun just like the movies included here. As far as I know, it's never been released on DVD in the U.S. I had the pleasure to see it on the now-defunct "Cheap Thrills Theatre" show, here in Reno on cable-access TV.
Don't get me wrong, this collection looks promising. I just wish Amazon would do a little more research before calling this a complete retrospective of Sedaris' films. I'm pretty sure they either copied the information from the DVD box or maybe used press material that was sent their way from Mill Creek.
I'm not sure where the other reviewer got the idea that either movie has good picture quality. Both movies were obviously transferred from VHS prints, which is apparent from the video tracking lines and inferior image definition. I'm no stickler for perfect picture quality, heck, I even own a lot of the Brentwood DVD's that are also taken from VHS, but this is the worst DVD transfer I've seen since the unwatchable Flesh Feast with Veronica Lake.
As for the movies themselves, they're amusing and feature a lot of unintentional laughs. Ghost Ninja (aka "Diamond Ninja Force") is a blend of martial arts and the supernatural, as you would imagine. The fighting scenes are brief and not all that impressive, so this would probably appeal more to fans of Asian ghost stories and bad films.
The plot concerns a blond guy with a moustache that embodies the power of the "golden ninja warrior." When human bones are unearthed at a construction site, it reignites the ages-old feud between the "black ninja empire" and the golden ninja. The developer in charge of the construction is mysteriously killed, courtesy of the evil ninjas, and his daughter and son-in-law (and their young son Bobo) that live in the newly built house become the targets of the dark forces.
There's two plot lines here (I use the term "plot" generously). The blond good ninja guy dresses in a red ninja outfit and goes after the bad guys, killing them off one by one. And what to better camouflage your appearance, especially in broad daylight, than a red ninja outfit? The battles are over extremely quickly, in fact it's doubtful if most of these guys were ever really trained in martial arts. Another thing that I think is funny about lots of these ninja movies is how people are instantly killed by a small throwing star or dagger. Maybe we're supposed to assume the weapons were coated with poison, I'm not sure.
The other plot line in Ghost Ninja concerns the haunting of the house. We see the evil ninja drawing his sword, then something spooky happens like maggots gushing out of a faucet or cracking eggs gushing blood. Ghostly figures with white faces also appear, one of whom likes to watch the couple having sex (which they do quite often). Cheesy green lights add to the atmosphere.
As you've probably guessed, Ghost Ninja is full of bad-movie laughs. Adding to the fun is the unauthorized use of a Kraftwerk song on the soundtrack. The best part of the film is that when the blond ninja makes a phone call, he does it from a Garfield phone!! Yes, Garfield the cat. In fact, the first time he does this the camera zooms meaningfully in on Garfield at the end of the shot. Unfortunately, what would have been a fun movie experience is lessened by the distraction of the bad picture quality. Best line in the movie: "Listen...there are no ghosts. Only ghost ninjas!"
The transfer of the movie Primitives is so bad that it makes Ghost Ninja look good. Tons of tracking lines, in fact on two occasions the entire screen breaks up into a huge mass of moving lines. The overall picture is so blurry that you can't even make out faces half of the time. Adding to the annoyance is the presence of unremovable Indonesian subtitles that take up half the screen.
This Indonesian production is basically a ripoff of the Italian cannibal film genre. I noticed certain scenes were directly copied from Jungle Holocaust, Cannibal Holocaust, and Mountain of the Cannibal God. The story is the usual: a group of ethnologists goes deep into the jungle in search of a tribe of true "primitives." The natives all have those bad wigs on that they have in this type of movie, as well as the stock footage of animals (and animal deaths) that viewers have come to expect.
For the gorehounds reading this review, don't expect anything too extreme. The bloodiest scene is when the natives slaughter and eat a real crocodile. As a fan of the Italian films, I was amused to see so many of them ripped off shamelessly. Also, at the beginning of the movie, a version of the Kraftwerk song "The Robots" is used...was this some kind of a trend? Best line in Primitives comes from a character named Tom, commenting on the native women: "A good body's one thing...but when it comes to jumping into bed, I like to be the savage!"
The situation with Primitives is like that of Ghost Ninja, but worse. What would have otherwise been an enjoyable bad movie is ruined by the absolute garbage transfer to DVD. There's definitely a market for movies like this to be released to DVD, but why bother unless you're going to transfer from the original film print? Heck, just find somebody who has original VHS tape of the movie and go from there--these seriously look like copies off a fifth-generation VHS that was left too close to the heater.
First of all, if you've bought any of these Brentwood/BCI Eclipse box sets before you know what to expect. If not, be forewarned that many of these movies are pretty poor quality prints, probably acquired in most cases from VHS versions of the films. On the plus side, you're paying a low price for 10, count 'em, 10 movies. If you're addicted to low budget horror movies like myself, you might just find a few hidden gems here. I will now strain my warped lil' brain and attempt to rank these suckers from worst to best.
(10) Moon of the Wolf. TV movie, pretty dull involving a werewolf. Starring David Janssen, better known for the TV series The Fugitive.
(9) Scream of the Wolf. See above. Starring Peter Graves, better known for TV's Mission Impossible.
(8) The Wolfman. Star Earl Owensby produced several of these cheapies for the Southern drive-in movie market in the 70's. His character turns into a werewolf, as you might have guessed. Hit and miss but picks up in the last 30 minutes when the monster finally goes on a bloody rampage.
(7) Snowbeast. Another TV-movie, but succeeds where our wolven friends failed because it's utterly entertaining crap. It's about an abominable snowman terrorizing a ski resort. Bad dialogue and lots of ugly colorful 70's snow gear add up to the cinematic equivalent of a big-ass handful of Pop Rocks, i.e. a fun junk food movie.
(6) Silent Night, Bloody Night. Weird, kind of artsy 70's flick , for me the highlight was seeing Mary Woronov star as the heroine in what was a pretty straightforward role. Woronov played the evil principal in Rock N' Roll High School and was one of the killers in Eating Raoul, so usually she camps it up quite a bit onscreen. Dull at times, but some effective moments including a strange, Manson family-inspired "flashback" scene at the end.
(5) Jack the Ripper. OK, Eurotrash movie fans, it's the legendary director Jess Franco taking some extreme liberties with the Jack the Ripper legend. Klaus Kinski plays the title role, and there were a couple gore/nudity scenes to please all the pervs (ahem). The only drawback here was a lame ending and the dubbing, but that's to be expected with a lot of these Euro-quickies. Good stuff.
(4) Satanic Rites of Dracula. Many Hammer fans were understandably disappointed in this last installment starring Christopher Lee as the infamous Count. But B-movie fans may take lots of satisfaction in such things as the basement full o' sexy female vamps, and the motorcycle-riding thugs wearing fur coats. I like Chris Lee in almost everything he's done, and this one is no exception except that he's kind of underused.
(3) House on Haunted Hill. This is the original black and white version starring Vincent Price. Normally that would be enough to shoot this one up to the #1 or 2 spot, but the low quality of the print is pretty distracting and makes it look like you're watching the movie through a TV screen that hasn't been dusted or cleaned in awhile. Still, a classic if you've never seen it.
(2) Don't Look in the Basement. Simply put, a 70's trash classic. Extreme, ridiculous, disturbing, funny, I could go on with lots of adjectives to describe this bizarre, no-budget story about a loony bin full of weirdos. Take my word for it and watch it. You may even be surprised how convincing and good some of the acting is here and there.
(1) Night of the Living Dead. If you've never seen it (the original black & white version) dig yourself out from under that slimy rock with Internet access and watch it!!! Watch it!!! Many (including myself) believe this to be the best horror movie of all time. My only disclaimer here would be the fairly poor quality of the print. However, the first couple times in my life I watched this film, I watched a crappy, beat up VHS with even worse picture and it still kicked butt. This film is so good I'd watch it through a swarm of killer bees or a blizzard of flying broken glass if I had to. But if you're already familiar with the film, pick up the Milennium edition, an amazingly clear, crisp remaster that is so good it's like watching a whole different movie.
The moral of this horror story is: a cheap 10-movie set in the hand is, uh, better than paying $20 for a boring, lame movie like Demons III: The Ogre, or Black Demons, or Bloodlust-The Black Forest Vampire. But such is the life of a horror addict.
After seeing this one on the shelf in the video store's horror section in the late 80's, I was at first impressed that this one got released on DVD and decided to give it a try. But this exercise in boredom deserved to stay buried in video obscurity; I would think even the most diehard horror fan alive would have a hard time staying awake during this one.
For what it's worth, the story: a girl goes driving in the Australian countryside and her car breaks down. Inexplicably, time starts moving backwards and she ends up in the 1940's, where she witnesses a goreless decapitation. She gets chased by the murderer, manages to start her car again, and zaps back to the present. Of course, no one will believe her story, so she begins a long, drawn-out process of investigating to prove it.
This is more of a lame mystery than a horror movie. There's no gore and no real scares. The killer (the Frenchman) is pretty sinister-looking when he does appear, but he has limited minutes here. Many scenes are too dark to make out details, which seems to be a combination of poor lighting when shooting, and the fact that no real remastering of the movie seems to have been done. I would think owning this on video (if you had to) would result in the same picture quality. The extras on the DVD's are weak as well.
So save your money. If you want cheesy 80's horror that's at least entertaining, try Pieces, Humanoids from the Deep, Mother's Day, My Bloody Valentine...jeez, pick a movie at random and it's bound to be better than Frenchman's Farm.
First of all, what slays me is when people buy these multi-pack horror sets and go into it expecting them to all be B-movie classics. Of course most of them are gonna suck! Why do you think they're cheap? And why would Rhino actually NAME THE COLLECTION Horrible Horrors??? Quoting from the box: "Eight of the weirdest, most horrible horror films from the 1970's and 1980's!"
As for the quality of the transfers here, I'm no expert when it comes to bit technology, and I don't have a 1000" plasma screen with Lucasfilm surround sound to where I notice every flaw. Considering the relative cheapness of all the films featured here, and the fact that Rhino probably didn't invest in a full digital clean-up of the prints (something reserved for the more "quality" B-pictures perhaps?), I thought every movie was pretty clear and sharp. Compare this to the Brentwood/BCI Eclipse multi-movie sets, where occasional tracking lines make it obvious that you're watching a DVD transfer from video, and I give Horrible Horrors a thumbs up.
This review is for those who enjoy gutter Z-films, anyone who would gladly watch Mystery Science Theatre movies without the added commentary. In other words, fans of cinematic cheese, like meself.
Horror High, AKA Twisted Brain: One of the weaker movies on the set in my opinion. Victimized high school kid drinks his special formula to turn himself into a monster, attacks tormentors, etc. Basically some cheap high school laughs (jocks vs. nerd) but the last half is pretty darned slow going. The highlight for me was Austin Stoker, the black hero from the original Assault on Precinct 13, showing up to save the day as a cop to the accompaniment of 70's "Shaft" wah-wah music.
Point of Terror: Not a horror movie by any means, but a hilarious, exaggeratedly acted "thriller" with some of the most unintentionally funny dialogue of all time. You know you're in for a "royale with cheese" when the opening credits roll, and the lead actor is doing a terrible musical number dressed in a fringe pantsuit with flares. Co-starring the incredible Dyanne Thorne, who played the lead in the Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS movies.
Satan's Slave: Probably my favorite movie of the bunch. It's one of two in the set directed by the British Norman J. Warren, who started out doing softcore sex films. After her parents are killed in a car accident, she is taken under her uncle's wing who turns out to worship, um...well..not God to give you a hint. It's bloody, and has nudity. Thumbs up.
Terror: The other film in the set directed by Warren. After a film crew makes a movie in a haunted house, bad things start to happen. It was pretty slow. Warren gets self-referential when he shows the director in the movie filming a softcore sex scene in a bathtub, a funny yet tame moment. Star Wars buffs will appreciate Peter "Chewbacca" Mayhew in a brief yet memorable part.
Prime Evil: One of two in the set directed by Roberta Findlay, who started out with her husband in the 60's making "roughie" sexploitation flicks. FX by Ed French, but either it was a cut version or there wasn't much in the way of blood and gore. Again, pretty slow but some funny bad acting and 80's madness: the girl working out on the treadmill while eating Cheetos was pretty classic stuff.
Fleshburn: Again, not a horror movie, but a good thriller. As far as acting and overall quality, I'd say this was the best of all the movies here. A Native American who killed some guys in the desert is found to be insane by a team of psychiatrists. Years later, he escapes, rounds up the psychiatrists, and dumps them in the middle of the desert where he plays a game of cat-and-mouse with them. If you like survival movies, for example, Alive or Open Water, check this low-budget sleeper out.
Lurkers: The second Roberta Findlay movie in the set. It was better and weirder than Prime Evil. A girl sees apparitions as a child prior to a brutal murder/suicide; years later weird things are still happening. Little did she know, her fiance is involved. It's bad (of course) but has some good twists and has a weird party scene near the end. Other than the fact that a few scenes were way too dark to make out much, Findlay made good use of the real NYC locations in this one.
The Hearse. Since this is the only PG-rated movie on here, you can't expect much blood and sleaze. What you can expect is a pretty decent ghost story, starring Trish Van Devere who was also in 1981's classic ghost story The Changeling. The ending was a real letdown, unfortunately.
So if you're a fan of low-budget filmmaking, I'd say to give Horrible Horrors, Vol. 1 a shot. I thought picture quality on all these releases was crisp enough to please all but the digitally anal-retentive.
Originally known as Heartstopper (a title meant to capitalize on the success of Hellraiser), Dark Craving was directed and written by John A. Russo, who also is (not so well) known for directing low-budget horrors like The Majorettes, Scream Queen Swimsuit Sensations, and Midnight 2: Sex, Death and Videotape. You'll probably be more impressed with Russo's screenwriting credits, which include the original Night of the Living Dead and Return of the Living Dead. As expected of a former George A. Romero cohort, Mr. Russo filmed this movie entirely in the city of Pittsburgh.
Apparently, Russo pitched an idea to Romero for a followup to Night of the Living Dead, about a group of Revolutionary War-era survivors who inbreed and produce a colony of demented killers. He was later talked out of the idea, and ended up writing a book called "The Awakening" about a 1770's physician executed for vampirism, which is the basis for Dark Craving.
Kevin Kindlin turns in a good performance as the main character, who is suspected of being a vampire due to his unorthodox experiments with phlebotomy, i.e. drinking the bottled blood (and pus!) of his patients. He is hanged, after which the townspeople pound a stake through his heart (nice bloody scene) and bury him under the sign of the cross. Hundreds of years later (1988), his burial ground is being uprooted by a bulldozer. Since the stake and coffin have rotted away, the manacles have rusted, and his garlic necklace is decomposed, the good doctor is now free to roam Pittsburgh as a vampire.
His first encounter with modern-day humans involves a girl playing in a sandbox (who looks way too old to be doing this, by the way). She cuts herself on a shard of glass, and the vampire follows suit by drinking her blood. His saliva shows up in her autopsy tests as being poisonous, which causes the police (led by Tom Savini!) to search for a vampire killer. Later, he wanders a university campus and watches a military group performing in Revolutionary War-era uniform. Our vampiric friend (who at first has a pony-tailed mullet) then saves a girl from a scuffle with a multi-racial gang, chases one gang member and throws him through a car windshield. Since he still has his leatherbound doctor's kit, he slashes the tough's wrist with a scalpel-like tool and drinks hungrily from the wound.
Besides being the co-star, Tom Savini is also credited with the FX for the film. Gorehounds need to realize, though, that with the exception of a couple exceptionally gruesome moments near the beginning involving autopsies, and the stake through the heart scene, we're not talking buckets of gore here. It's basically restricted to a few good wrist-slashings until the final scene, which delivers well and even throws in a little stop-motion animation. The DVD cover features some of the goriest scenes, however, so overall it's a little misleading. Diehards will be pleased, though, especially getting to see Savini have such a prominent role in the film.
One of the things that sets Dark Craving apart from many other vampire movies is the humanistic approach, rather than portraying the doctor as a monster. He falls in love with a girl played by Moon Zappa, Frank's daughter who was best known for her mallspeak on his song "Valley Girl." He confesses to a priest who is sympathetic to his plight, and refuses to drink the blood of the innocent, restricting his thirsty desires to the criminal world. Other interesting twists on the vampire legend explored here include the concept of the salivary "poison," and the way that vampires are created. It seems that the doctor was human before he started his blood experiments, but the fact that he was buried as a vampire combined with the superstitions of those who executed him seemed to help cause the change. Also there's a historical/political element to the movie: since the doctor was a British-sympathizing Tory, he blames the ills of the 20th century on the results of the Revolutionary War, and maintains that the States should never have evolved past the original 13 colonies.
The only real drawback to horror fans here, besides the fact that it's perhaps not quite as gory as expected, would be the pace of the film. Russo is a better writer than he is a director, and it shows with scenes that feature two characters talking, many filmed with one static shot. In other words, if you're not really into the story at that given moment, it can be a little dull and leave you waiting for a scene with more action. Don't expect the camerawork and editing to blow you away, either, but if you're used to watching low-budget horror it's not bad. Dark Craving/Heartstopper was made for about $800,000, so given these limitations Russo did a good job. I guess if you're really annoyed by 80's music, especially a particularly sappy love theme, you might want to stay away too. I happened to like the screaming 80's metal performed during a couple of the action scenes, especially the girl being chased in the park while the singer shrieks "The killer is in the park!, etc." This part reminded me of other 80's horror movies such as Demons that also used heavy metal. I'd say if you're a big horror/gore fan like me you'll probably be happy with this movie. But if you're just a casual viewer or someone who prefers big-budget, computer special effects-driven horror like Underworld or Van Helsing, definitely rent before purchasing.
You'll either love or hate these no-budget movies, in fact you should already know if it's something you like or not. The "If you're an Andy Milligan fan" review is really good, except for the fact that there are other Milligan movies available on DVD besides the three mentioned.
They come in 2-DVD sets on the Video Kart label. Bloodthirsty Butchers comes with the dreadfully painful The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here! Graverobbers, a funny and twisted movie, is actually directed by Milligan collaborator Straw Weisman, who also wrote the exploitation classic Fight For Your Life. Graverobbers is packaged together with Monstrosity, for those who've never seen Andy's work from the 1980's. Apparently there's some tampering with the movie on Bloodthirsty Butchers, as far as inserting some unnecessary slow-motion footage. Also there's some debate on whether these movies are completely uncut. Just wanted to let all the weirdos out there know that these films have also made the jump to DVD. Stay sick.
The box says "2 classic slasher flicks." If by "classic" they mean "made in the 1980's" then this would be a true statement. By my estimation, the two movies featured here are two of the worst slasher movies ever made, and that's saying a lot about a genre that seemed to produce as many crappy films as it did good ones. Even at the low price, even the most dedicated horror fan will find these two difficult to sit through.
First up, we've got Terror at Tenkiller, released in 1986. A slasher movie that takes place in a lake/camping location.....hmmm how very original. It's shot on video, produced/directed/cowritten by Ken Meyer. The credits are filled with people with the last name Meyer, so this looks like a family affair. The two main characters are Leslie and her friend Jana: Leslie has a borderline-abusive boyfriend Josh who likes to push her around. At one point, Jana asks, "Do your parents know about the caveman stuff?" It's possible the film makers were trying to insert some kind of girl-power statements about leaving an abusive boyfriend, possibly because of the feminist backlash against slasher movies...it's pretty lamely done in any case. To unwind, the two girls take a vacation to an idyllic resort called Lake Tenkiller. "What a strange name for a lake!" remarks Leslie. Turns out the lake was named after an Indian princess who killed 10 members of a rival tribe, but of course it's also a sign of things to come.
This movie has the terrible acting that you'd expect from any of these ultra low-budget slashers, but what isn't expected is how boring the whole thing is. Once they get up to the lake, the story really drags, and it seems like half the time is spent with the girls on phone calls. It's revealed early on who the killer is, so that robs the story of any kind of suspense or surprises. There's two so-so gore scenes, a smattering of nudity, and at one point we see Leslie reading the Stephen King book "The Stand."
Next up, we have The Last Slumber Party, from 1988. This one is so unbelievably bad that it actually makes Terror at Tenkiller look decent; the picture quality alone gives it a shot-on-a-home video camera look. Obviously this was an attempt to cash in on the success of Slumber Party Massacre and its sequels. The story concerns a group of high school girls who decide to have a slumber party with all the expected ingredients: cheesy music, underage drinking, and sneaking in the boys who play practical jokes on them. Trouble is, there's an escaped mental patient on the loose with a scalpel, dressed in scrubs and a surgeon's mask. Linda, whose house is the location for the slumber party, just happens to be the daughter of the doctor who ordered the maniac's lobotomy, and he's a little ticked off about that.
There's some real hilarious moments here. The bad music, first of all, which ranges from shrieking cheese-metal (performed by Firstryke) to corny synth-funk, to exaggeratedly "scary" electronic themes. The acting is extremely deadpan, nearly porno-quality: a nurse character stutters one of her lines and it's left in the movie. There's cornball stereotypes like the jocks and a nerd character nicknamed "Science." There's moronic girl characters who say things like "munch out" when they want to eat snacks. All the ingredients for a 1980's funfest are here, but when you put them all together they add up to a boring film. There's no nudity, and no gore: just some fake blood that you can see squirting out of the scalpel when the maniac slashes throats. Considering the whole thing's only about 72 minutes long, it seems like a lot longer. People who like films that are painfully bad, below Mystery Science Theatre quality, may like it. I found it entertaining for a while but then it just became mind-numbing. Stephen Tyler is the writer and director, and also plays the maniac.
I would only recommend this DVD to diehard completists who want to own every slasher film ever made. With no special features, at least you can say you got two movies for a cheap price. Everyone else steer clear. If it's cheesy 80's slasher fun that you're craving, I'd say go with the far superior Slumber Party Massacre or Pieces. Other fun 80's horror films I would recommend would include Chopping Mall, Troll, The Gate, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and the so-bad-it's good Night Train to Terror.
If you can find it at a reasonable price, this is a high-quality recording of the Melvins in Germany, 1/23/91: just months before their album Bullhead was released. You get one song from Bullhead ("Anaconda"), four from Ozma ("At a Crawl," "Kool Legged," "Let God Be Your Gardener," "Revulsion"), two from Gluey Porch Treatments ("Heater Moves and Eyes," "Eye Flys"), and a 44-second noodling from Buzzo and pals ("Tanked"). The LP/CD was part of the Your Choice Live series which donated part of the proceeds of each release to an organization fighting the fur trade.
The line-up here was King Buzzo, Dale and Lori (Lorax) on bass. All the heavy rumbling power you would expect from early Melvins. Please expose people new to the Melvins to the sluggish, slow-as-molasses, is-it-ever-going-to-start intro to "Eye Flys" and watch them flee the room in abject terror. Meanwhile, those of us who enjoy the Melvins will sit blissfully with evil grins on our faces.
The bad news: like all of these Brentwood cheap DVD releases, the movies here are transfers from videotape so they're not the cleanest prints you could hope for.
The good news: you're getting 10 Sonny Chiba movies for a dirt-cheap price, all the Street Fighter movies are letterboxed, and the most important movie on here (Street Fighter) looks pretty darn good. Anyone familiar with Tarantino films will get a kick out of recognizing some pretty obvious influences, too.
Street Fighter: Definitely one of the best martial arts movies ever. A level of brutality never before seen in action movies rated this one an "X" when it first hit the theatres. Chiba is cold, heartless, and just plain baaaaaad. He's out for the money, so stay out of his way. Moves along at a breakneck pace, if you've never seen it, prepare to be blown away.
Legend of the Eight Samurai: Come on, people! Not even close to the worst movie ever; in fact I rather enjoyed it. The only drawback was Chiba didn't play the main character, but he did have a good supporting part. Basically a Japanese fantasy/adventure/ghost story, lots of fun and it even has a little gore. Lighten up!!
Return of the Street Fighter: Chiba returns as Terry Tsuguri. As you would expect, the sequel can't hold a candle to the original. It takes much longer to get going, and has too many flashback sequences from the first film. Thankfully, there are a couple memorably sick scenes of violence near the end to make it well worth your while.
The Bodyguard: You can tell this was made to cash in on the success of the Street Fighter films and Chiba's short-lived U.S. popularity. His character, actually named "Sonny Chiba," serves as a bodyguard to protect a woman from Mafia vengeance. Chiba is his usual badass, charismatic self. Also, the opening titles use the same quote from Ezekiel 25:17 that Samuel L. Jackson said repeatedly in Pulp Fiction.
Street Fighter's Last Revenge: By this time, the ruthlessness and brutality of the series was taken over by 70's flashiness and comic relief. At one point Chiba poses as a vampire, and one of the main villains dresses like a Mexican mariachi! The plot concerns a formula to manufacture cheap synthetic heroin, and there's enough comic-book action to keep things moving along.
Shogun's Ninja: Kill Bill fans will note the presence of a character named "Hattori Hanzo." Again, a supporting role for Chiba, but there's lots of samurai and ninja-style action, much of it being acrobatics up in the trees. You could do much worse.
Sister Street Fighter: Unfortunately, Chiba only appears in a handful of scenes. Sue Shiomi, who is featured in several of the movies in this set, fights quite well as his female counterpart. His character goes by Sonny Chiba in this film also, rather than Terry Tsuguri, which takes away from the continuity of the series. Some jittery parts also, due to the weak video transfer.
Dragon Princess: The weakest movie in the set, but still worth watching. Chiba has a beautifully bloody scene in the very beginning, but again it's Sue Shiomi, playing his daughter, who's the star of this film. Above average martial arts, but if you read the plot description on the DVD case it's obvious whoever wrote the packaging didn't ever watch the film.
Samurai Reincarnation: More supernatural happenings, you can classify this one under "samurai ghost fantasy/drama." It ended somewhat abruptly, which led me to believe this was part of a larger series maybe?? Kill Bill fans note: after an elderly swordsmaker finishes crafting Chiba's new weapon, he says "if you encounter God, God will be cut."
Karate Warriors: Really bad sound on this one, I had to turn the TV up almost all the way. Chiba gets the lead role here, playing a money-hungry mercenary reminiscent of his Street Fighter character. He plays two rival crime rings against one another, and, unexpectedly, shows his soft side at the end in what was probably the most sentimental moment in his acting career.
To sum it all up, if you're a fan of Sonny Chiba this is a must purchase. If you're not familiar with Chiba but like martial arts movies, do yourself a favor and expose yourself to some top-of-the-line action. Sure the picture could be better, but let's face it, it's cheap and it gets the job done.