Monday, October 31, 2011

Horror movie month #21 - Dawn of the Dead (1978)

I'm wrapping up the nearly month long horror movie feature with my top horror flick of all time, George A. Romero's 1978 masterpiece Dawn of the Dead.  I can't say enough great things about this movie.  From the characters to the special effects to the movie's setting.  Everything about this movie is just freakin' awesome.

As the zombie epidemic continues to spread across the country and television executive and her boyfriend take a news copter and try to flee Pittsburgh.  Around the same time they meet up with 2 SWAT team members (one of which is actor Ken Foree!) and the 4 set off to find somewhere safe.  During their escape they start to run low on fuel and need to land.  They notice a large mall just outside the city limits and decide to land on the roof as there should be plenty of needed supplies inside.  What they find is the mall has been overrun by zombies  As the movie unfolds we get to see this newly formed team try to survive not only the zombies, but living together as well.  They eventually make a makeshift shelter in the mall while trying to figure out their next move.

Dawn of the Dead is actually the 2nd movie in Romero's zombie trilogy and easily the best in my opinion.  Some may argue that the pace of the movie is too slow or that the characters are stupid.  I tend to disagree.  One of the things that makes this movie unique if you will is the setting.  Taking place inside the Monroeville Mall located just outside of Pittsburg, PA offers up a different vibe when compared to other horror movies.  One of the things I found charming about the mall is that it's a real mall - not just a cobbled movie set.  Check out this site for an interesting "now and then" look at the mall.

I will give the 2004 remake honorable mention as director Zack Synder did a great job with the re-envisioning of this classic tale.  I still prefer the original, but you can't go wrong with the modern film.

If I had started this horror movie feature at the beginning of the month I would've showcased a few more films.  I guess I'll have to save them for next year.  Of those movies honorable mention goes to:

Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Devil's Rejects, Diary of the Dead, Feast, Grindhouse, Jeeper's Creepers, Pulse, REC, The Ring, Rubber, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Vacancy

Horror movie month #20 - Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

Are you surprised that a Friday the 13th movie didn't make an appearance before now?  While I love the first film it's been showcased all over the place so I wanted to pick another movie in the series.  While I'm partial to part 3 (long before 3D special effects were used in just about every new movie), but for some reason I chose part 7 instead (Kane Hodder?).  As a whole most of the Friday movies are pretty good, heck even Jason X has it's moments.  The tag line for part VII: The New Blood is "Jason is back, but this time someone is waiting for him!"

Tommy Jarvis chained Jason Voorhees to the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake where he has laid dormant for many years.  That is until a young telekinetic girl, Tina Sheperd inadvertently awakes him from his long slumber.

I guess what I remember most about this movie was how Jason himself had a nemesis of sorts.  In the previous movies there really is no adversary for Jason as he just hacks away at his helpless victims.  Not so much in this movie.  I love the scene towards the end of the movie when Jason and Tina go head to toe.  Tina throws (literally) a lot at Jason and he takes the abuse and keeps getting up for more.  Kudos to Kane Hodder here as his acting is great.  In my opinion Kane was the best actor ever to wear the iconic hockey mask.  During the fight scene Jason truly looks puzzled over what is happening to him.  There is this sense of disbelieve that he is having someone stand up against him.  Take a look if you don't remember the scene:

I don't know about you, but this was an entertaining film thanks to the big fight scene.  All of the Friday the 13th movies have their moments.  Some are better than others, but part VII will always stand out in my memory.  As a bonus treat here is another video I found compiling Jason's kills.  Stayed tuned as my favorite horror flick is up next!

Horror movie month #19 - Halloween (2007)

I never was a big fan of John Carpenter's Halloween franchise.  I've seen most of the movies, but the Michael Myers character just never appealed to me in the way other horror villains have.  When I heard Rob Zombie was releasing his own version of Halloween I didn't know what to expect, but I eventually saw it anyway.  Wow.  What an intense ride. 

So there was this big debate over John Carpenter versus Rob Zombie and which version of the movie and or Michael Myers is more terrifying.  Who cares.  I read that John told Rob to make the movie "his own" and that's what Rob did.  Both are great movies and you can't go wrong with either.  I just found Rob's version of the movie a little more, well, violent.

In the original you don't get to see Michael's family much so you really don't know why he turns out as he does.  In Rob's version you get a more in depth look at Michael in his early years and his dysfunctional family.  For me this helped set up the movie a little bit more.  I get the whole argument of we the movie viewer isn't supposed to feel compassion for the killer (who felt sorry for Freddy Kruger?) and not knowing what sets off someone and turns them into a killer is far more scary.  I get all that.  Valid points.  Remakes aren't for everyone, but if you can be subjective enough and separate the two movies and take them for what they are I think you'll see that both movies stand on their own as fantastic additions to the slasher genre.

It's Halloween and I've got two more movies coming up.  Stay tuned for my favorite horror movie of all time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Horror movie month #18 - Frozen

I've never actually been skiing or snow boarding before and I can tell you after watching this movie I never will!  More of a survival horror this moving is probably more terrifying than all of the other slasher and zombie flicks combined.

Three friends bride the ski lift operator for a lift ticket on a Sunday afternoon.  Wanting to get in one last run for the night the three friends hop in the ski lift and make their way to the mountain's peak.  All the while back at the ski resort there is some miscommunication and the worker stops the lift...stranding the three.  What happens next is the survival of the three and their attempts to get off the lift and back down the mountain.  One of the quotes on the poster is "Terrifying.  Will do for skiing what Jaws did for swimming.".  I couldn't agree more.

My wife has often said she won't watch horror movies with me that could really happen.  I blame it on taking her to see the uncut version of the original Exorcist when it was re-released to theaters.  She will not watch this movie.  Period.  I guess the most frightening part of the movie is it's realism.  The film is directed by Adam Green (Hatchet) and the stunts are coordinated by Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th).  It's a very intense and fun ride once the terror sets in.  Highly recommended.

Halloween is almost here and I just couldn't stop at just sharing one movie on the 31st.  So make sure to stop back by here tomorrow for three more movies!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

G.I. Joe subscription Preview - Jinx!

The G.I. Joe Club has done it again!  Jinx is the figure that a lot of fans have been asking for.  I'm getting more and more impressed with every teaser image the club releases.  I wonder if the bandana around her eyes is removable or not.

Horror movie month #17 - The Descent

I hate this movie poster, but I love the film.  This is a keep you on your edge of the seat and bite your nails until your fingers hurt kind of movie.  If you are claustrophobic then I highly suggest you don't watch this movie!

The movie takes place one year after a woman vacationing with her family suffers a horrible traffic accident.  Her friends encourage her to go on a caving expedition in the mountains of North Carolina.  During their adventure they suffer one horrible thing after another.  Trapped inside a dark cave with no real sense of direction and running low on supplies should be enough to scare you.  Throw in some sort of cave dwelling underground predators and you've got the perfect mix of fear to make an excellent movie.

From the opening traffic accident scene I knew I was in for a good ride (no pun intended).  Most of this movie takes place in a dark cave and the lack of lighting really helps the overall creepy atmosphere of this movie.  I've never been much of an outdoors adventurous type of person and after seeing this movie I don't ever intend to be.  I found this movie a refreshing change of pace from the typical horror movie.  You may classify this as more of a thriller, but either way its a great movie.  I believe a sequel came out a few years later, but at this time I've yet to check it out.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Horror movie month #16 - The Strangers

Dating couple (Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman) stop off at the family's remote summer home after attending a wedding only to be terrorized by 3 individuals.

This movie I had heard about some time before it was finally released in 2008.  Some people classify this sub-genre of horror movie as "home invasion".  I believe that tag couldn't be more accurate.  There really is no plot to this movie.  If you watched the trailer you heard Liv's character asking the masked assailants "Why are you doing this to us?"  and the response is simply "Because you were home."

I don't say that to take anything away from the movie.  There are a lot of really intense moments during the movie, but most of the scares are all loud noises and things that jump out at you.  This isn't horror in the sense of Friday the 13th.  I found the movie decent.  Liv does a pretty good job as a "scream queen" which was a little surprising.  Movies like this don't appeal to everyone, but if you are a fan of this type then at least give it a shot.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Horror movie month #15 - Zombieland

Zombieland...the last movie I saw in the theaters before I became a dad!  For several reasons I'll always love this movie.  Finding the perfect match of humor and gore can be hard to find, but every once in awhile that perfect marriage comes along in the form of a great movie such as Zombieland.

The premise of the movie is simple.  Colombus (Eisenberg) is trying to reach his family in Ohio when he crosses paths with a tough guy (Harrelson) who's looking for the last Twinkee.  On their journey they meet up w/ a pair of sisters on their way to an amusement park.  See.  I told you the plot was simple.  Oh yeah.  Forgot to mention their journey takes place during the zombie apocalypse!

If you haven't seen this movie then please do yourself a favor and get up and go rent or buy this movie.  If you like comedy or zombies or both then you'll be happy.  The casting of the characters is excellent and I
don't really care for Jesse Eisenberg (with the exception of his role in Arrested Development) or Woody Harrelson.  Throw in the two sisters (Emma Stone & Abigail Breslin) and you've got a fun bunch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Horror movie month #14 - Poltergeist

"They're here!"

Need I say more?  This is the movie that I'm sure scared the crap out of a lot of people in 1982...especially if you had children.

There aren't many movies that disturb me, but this is one of them.  Just re-watching the trailer brought back all sorts of memories.  I was only 5 years old when this came out, but I remember sitting in the living room watching it on BETA from the local rental store.  What was my dad thinking?!

I don't remember what really happens in parts 2 or 3, but this movie is a blast to watch.  The action by Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams and Heather O'Rourke (Carol Anne) is fantastic.  While the special effects are a little dated now in the 80's they were really good.  I prefer my horror films to be of the zombie or slasher sub genre, but Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper hit a home run with this spooky ghost flick.  Easily one of the best horror films of the 80's if not of all time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

G.I. Joe Subscription Preview - Iron Klaw

The G.I. Joe club has released yet another photo of a figure to be included in their upcoming subscription service.  I don't know a whole lot about the "Extreme" series of G.I. Joe, but this is one cool looking figure.  I had my doubts initially about the subscription program, but the club has really picked it up with the last few previews.

Horror movie month #13 - Day of the Dead (1985)

Yes, another movie I had to put the year in parenthesis after the name.  This was George A. Romero's last movie in his original trilogy following Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.  This is probably my least favorite of the 3, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a good movie.

Just about the entire movie takes place in an old underground military bunker somewhere in Florida.  A small group of scientists and military are the country's last hope at finding a cure.  One of the scientist makes a break through discovery with a captured zombie he affectionately calls "Bub".

Being "trapped" in one place for the entire movie really slows down the movie a lot as there isn't a lot of variety in the scenery.  Again, the movie isn't bad - it just wasn't as entertaining for me as the 2 movies that proceeded it.  The special effects are quite good as you can see below...

fast forward to about the 2:20 mark for the gore!

...but the dialog is atrocious.  I can't remember a movie where I've heard the "f-bomb" dropped so many times!  If you've already seen Night and Dawn then you at least have to finish off the trilogy and watch Day of the Dead.  I'll let you form your own opinion. 

I wonder what ever happened to Bud?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Horror movie month #12 - My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Long before I heard of the awful 3D remake I discovered this 80's slasher gem online.  I originally had a hard time tracking down the DVD.  Apparently this movie originally was given an X rating by the MPAA.  That didn't sit too well so the movie had to be heavily edited for it to get an R rating.  I've seen still images of the cut scenes and they aren't any more graphic than other movies released around the same time.

You probably wouldn't recognize any of the names attached to this film...I know I didn't, but it doesn't matter.  The film takes place in the fictional town of Valentines Bluff in Novia Scotia about a killer that took the lives off several miners and couples on Valentine's Day several years ago.  You see there was an accident at the local mine 20 years ago and a miner by the name of Harry Warden was the only survivor.  The man in charge of the mine that fateful night was off at a Valentine's Day party.

Fast forward to the "current" time and the killer is now more of a urban legend.  That is until a box of chocolates containing a bloody heart shows up in town.  It's been 20 years since Valentine's Day was celebrated and the young people are eager to throw a big party.  Much to the chagrin of the sheriff the party goes on as planned.  That is when the bodies start to hit the floor.

This is one of those movies that deserves being watched.  Most people probably didn't know when the 3D remake was released a few years ago that it was a remake.  Sometimes well known actors and slick special effects just can't top an original classic.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Horror movie month #11 - Toolbox Murders (2004)

Continuing my ignorance of movies I didn't know were remakes is the 2004 version of Toolbox Murders.  Directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) I had to give it a try.

From what I can tell this version stands heads and shoulders above the 1978 film of the same name.  The movie stars Angela Bettis (May) who moves into this old building (the Lusman building to be exact) currently under major renovations.  At this time we are also introduced to the other residents.  These include Juliet Landau (Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to even a small role by Sherri Moon Zombie.  It doesn't take Angela long to realize this house is full of evil as the residents are slowly knocked off - usually killed by power tools.  The very creepy and odd maintenance man is the obvious choice, but that idea is quickly discarded as the movie carries on.  For the most part the movie is really good.  There is a lot of mystery about the house and the strange markings that are found all over the property.  The killer isn't revealed until later in the movie so until then there is a lot of guessing.  Some of the kills are very clever and the special effects pretty good.  I was entertained from the very beginning to the end.  Recommended if you are a fan of slashers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Horror movie month #10 - Cold Creek Manor

OK, technically this is a thriller or suspense and not a horror flick...but it gets you to the edge of your seat. 

As the trailer says, have you ever wondered what went on in your house before you lived there?  I saw this movie in the theater in 2003 and I loved it.  The premise of the movie is simple.  After a couple's son has a close call while living in the big city the family moves out to a rural part of town and falls in love with this old estate house.  As they move in and start to renovate the old house the father (Dennis Quaid) discovers pictures and information about the former family living in the house.  As they try to research the history of the family and the house they start to get weird vibes from the locals.  The more he discovers the more things start to get intense.  This was a well written and well acted movie in my opinion.  Worth a rental.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Horror movie month #9 - The Burning

I can't exactly remember how I found out about this little known 80's slasher flick.  It may have been when I was looking up something on Tom Savini as he helped with the special effects.  The movie was partially written by Harvey Weinstein in 1981.

I had my doubts going in, but I gotta say this one surprised me at how good it was.  The movie centers around an alcoholic summer camp caretaker by the name of  Cropsy that is seriously burned and disfigured by a group of teenage boys.  5 years later he returns to the same camp to exact his revenge.  Tom Savini's special effects are top notch in this movie.  The killer's weapon is a pair of ordinary garden sheers.  Let me tell you though Tom found some excellent and realistic ways to impale and kill the kids and counselors.  While the movie has a pretty good story and the acting isn't half bad (you get to see a young Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame) the movie does fall prey at times to the 80's slasher cliche - pretty girl + boy + woods = hanky panky which = victims for the killer.  That aside this was a fun ride and worth a watch if you've never seen it before.  I believe you can currently find it on Netflix.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Horror movie month #8 - Chopping Mall

Does anyone else remember the old show on the USA Network called "Up All Night" hosted by Gilbert Godfrey?  Well I originally caught this  super cheesy B flick back then.  Filmed in 1986 a bunch of teens hide inside a furniture store inside a local mall to throw a big party after hours.  What they don't know is the mall is guarded by 3 robots and that the mall is sealed off from the outside world come 12 midnight.  A bolt of lightning proceeds to strike the mall which in turns short circuits the robots and turns them into killer robots!  Told you it was cheesy.  By the way, this movie is sometime referred to simply as Killbots.

I'm only including this movie to the feature because of how terrible it is - not because it's a good movie.  It's watchable, but I can't really recommend it.  You can probably find most of the good scenes on YouTube (like the one below) if you search for them.  It'll save you a lot of time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

G.I. Joe subscription teaser image - Dice!

The G.I. Joe Collector's Club has released another image of a subscription figure.  While Dice wouldn't have been in my top 20 picks, I gotta say he looks really nifty!  Do people still say nifty?

Horror movie month #7 - Walled In

I discovered this movie earlier this year while I was laying on the couch sick.  Thank goodness for Netflix!  I was a little skeptical about the movie after reading the description, but I wasn't going anywhere so I fired it up.

The movie centers around the family demolitions business' daughter that sets out to supervise her first job after acquiring her degree.  What she doesn't know about the mysterious Malestrazza building that she'll be overseeing is the history and mystery surrounding her.  It turns out that several of the building's former tenants have been buried alive inside the very walls that will be torn down!  The main character is played my Mischa Barton who I've seen on TV, but not really aware of what she has acted in.  The movie was a lot better than I expected.  There was this certain creepiness surrounding the tenants left in the building.  She actually spent several nights in the building before it's scheduled demolition and this is when the truth starts to unfold.  

I'd say this is more of a thriller than your typical horror movie, but it's still entertaining none the less.  I'm not sure if it was a direct to video movie or not, but it is one worth checking out in my opinion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Horror movie month #6 - Dead Alive

Most people know director Peter Jackson from the epic Lords of the Ring movies, but back in 1992 he directed an awesome horror comedy flick originally entitled Brain Dead.

As I said earlier with Shaun of the Dead - I don't always like when humor and horror are mixed together.  This movie however is another exception to the rule.  When I refer to humor one word usually pops into the minds of people who have seen this movie - the Priest.  

Let me also go on to say this is one of the goriest movies ever made.  No seriously.  Don't believe me?  Watch this clip!  

I'm told that over 300 gallons of fake blood were used in the making!  I can't say enough good things about this movie.  What?  You're still sitting here reading this?  Why?  Do find a copy of this movie pronto!  You'll be glad you did.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Horror movie month #5 - The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Are all the modern day horror movies remakes?! First off let me say that I've never seen Wes Craven's original The Hills Have Eyes so I won't be comparing these two. In fact I'm not even sure when I originally saw the trailer for the 2006 remake that I knew it was a remake.

This was another film that I caught in the theatre while in college. I didn't know anything about the movie going in other than what I had seen in the trailer. Wow. What an intense movie. I genuinely felt for the family being terrorized throughout the film. While it has become one of my favorite horror movies I find it hard to re-watch it. It's not that it's a bad movie or even the gore. It just seems so authentically real that it creeps me out a little.

Now being the father of 2 young girls there is one scene in the movie that is really disturbing. It's not that it's graphic - it (mostly) happens off camera. If you've seen this movie then you probably know what scene I'm eluding to. All in all this is a fantastic movie. The character development is great. The "hero" of the movie is probably the last person you would expect. That may be a little cliche now, but it worked then. I was totally joyous in rooting for the family to survive.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Horror movie month #4 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

OK. You may have not agreed with me about the 1990 version of The Night of the Living Dead being better than the original, but what about this remake?

I saw the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the theatres before I ever had watched the original. I walked away from the movie a little shaken, but highly entertained! I knew my review would be biased and incomplete years ago so I searched out the best version of the original on DVD. While I can appreciate the original Michael Bay's 2003 version simply blows the original out of the offense Tobe Hooper.

I could say that Jessica Biel in this movie is worth the price of admission alone (can I get an amen?), but seriously this movie is excellent - from the opening credits to the closing credits. I was on the edge of my seat for practically the entire movie. R. Lee Ermey's language did get on my nerves as it's very vulger and laced with profanity, but it just shows you how messed up of a character Sheriff Hoyt really is. Just re-watching the trailer again made me tense up. I have pretty thick skin and a strong stomach when it comes to horror movies, but this one got to me. In a good way though. I highly suggest this version of TTCM if you haven't already seen it. The modern day prequel is pretty darn nifty too!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Horror movie month #3 - Night of the Living Dead

Come on!  You know this movie had to make the cut!  When it comes to zombie movies no one makes a better flick than George A. Romero.  While there have been some other good zombie movies to come along the way Romero is the grand daddy of the genre.

When it comes to the movie that put Romero on the map I'm divided between the black and white 1968 original and Tom Savini's 1990 remake.  Most people would agree remakes of movies aren't as good as the originals.  I can think of a few that buck the trend and the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead is one of those for me.  Having seen both versions multiple times I just seem to gravitate to the 90's version for several reasons.

1) Color.  It makes a difference.  Alfred Hitchcock may have made some great black & white movies in his time, but seeing everything happen in vivid colors makes a lot of difference in my book.

2) The actors and actresses.  I love Tony Todd and his character of Ben in the 90's version is better.  Same goes for Patricia Tallman as Barbara.  The original actress that portrayed Barbara was so freakin' annoying in the 1968 movie.  At least we see this new version of Barbara get over her fear and fight back.

3) Tom Savini!  I love gore in my horror movies and Tom did a great job with the updated special effects in the 1990 version.

4) The ending.  If you haven't seen either version (what have you been doing?  Seriously!) then I don't want to spoil it for you.  I just find the end of the 1990 remake that much better and satisfying.

While I love all of (Romero's) sequels that spawned from this movie there is just something so special about the original - whether you prefer 1968 or 1990 - both are classic movies that deserved to be watched each October.



Friday, October 14, 2011

G.I. Joe subscription teaser image - Topside!

Fun Publications has done it again.  They've digitally waved another picture of a figure to be included in the subscription program in our virtual faces...and still not divulged any cost information!!  I gotta hand it to them though - what a fantastic looking figure and a great idea to throw in a character such as Topside.  If I'm not mistaken aren't those Cobra Commander's legs?

Horror movie month #2 - Shaun of the Dead

I don't always care for the mix of horror and humor.  I tried watching the Return of the Living Dead movies and they just didn't appeal to me.  However one one movie combining these two elements that is so much fun to watch is Shaun of the Dead.

I'm not sure if it's the English wit that makes this so great, but Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are absolutely hilarious in this movie.  Great story and special effects to top things off.  I'm looking forward to dusting off my HD DVD version and plopping down on the couch for this one!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Horror movie month #1 - City of the Living Dead

I like horror movies.  I always have.  Not sure why, but I love 'em.  I especially love a good zombie or slasher flick.  Ever since I started this blog I've always wanted to spot light a few movies come October.  I guess I've just been too busy to do so.  This month however I plan to change that.  The movies I'll share over the coming weeks aren't in any sort of order.  Trying to rank them would be too hard anyhow.

We'll kick things off with a Lucio Fulci movie originally titled "The Gates of Hell" or better known to some as "The City of the Living Dead".  I'll start off by saying this isn't the greatest movie I've ever seen, but there are some redeeming qualities...namely the gore.  The story goes something like this.  The suicide of a priest has opened the gates of hell and a reporter and a psychic try to close the gates all the while the dead have risen from their graves.  Yes - it's a hokey story.  It doesn't help that the acting and script aren't that strong either.  The movie was released in Italy in 1983.  The DVD I own is in English, but I can't help think it was dubbed as the words and the mouths of the characters don't always seem to be in synch. 

I never did understand everything that was going on in the movie - like how did the hanging death of a priest cause the gates of Hell to open?  How does one close said gate?  All I know is that I heard that the gore scenes were some of the best and that Lucio Fulci was a "legend" in the horror genre.  I happened across the DVD years ago while at Best Buy so I thought I'd give it a try.  Watch the trailer and if you have the stomach watch the other two clips.  I warn you however that they aren't for the faint at heart!

Death by drill!

CAUTION!  Click at your own risk!

This is an odd movie.  It's not quite your standard zombie flick.  I'm not sure how to classify it.  It is worth the watch if this type of movie is up your alley.

Transformers KO Korner: Headmasters gift set

Transformer fans have had to accept a lot of things in the last few years.  1) Michael Bay has to be credited for "re-energizing" the franchise (as much as I had to admit it).  2) Third party companies and accessories are here to stay.  3) Knock-off toys have flooded the market making the value of the authentic vintage toys take a nose dive.

That said sometimes knock-offs can be a good a way.  There are several vintage G1 Transformers I own that I hope are never KO'd due to the amount of $ I have invested.  There are some toys that I've only had dreams of owning due to their secondary market prices and scarcity.  Some of those Transformers include the Japanese exclusive G1 Headmaster heads.  I've seen these small figures sell for insane amounts of money online in the past so I was excited to hear that some unknown person or company was unofficially reproducing these.  What I didn't know was how well would they be made.  Would the plastic be soft and cheap like on most knock-off toys?  Would the colors be spot on to the originals?  What type of packaging would they come in?  Sold separately?  

A year or so ago I finally found a board member from selling these Headmaster gift sets for around $75.00.  Thankfully another trusted board member had already purchased a few of these individually and posted some great photographs comparing them to the originals.  I decided to take a chance as I knew this would be my only way of ever owning these so I sold off some random toys to come up with the necessary funds.  I had to wait for the set to arrive all the way from China, but let me tell you it was worth the wait.

I love toy packaging.  Yes, I'm a geek.  Whoever is responsible for this set has done a fantastic job not only with the toys but the packaging as well.  As you can see all the figures are packaged in a very nice retro G1 style box featuring some great CGI art.  I don't believe the original toys had any artwork at all so this is a super nice touch.

The front of the box is actually a flap that when lifted reveals the Headmaster toys!  You also get some really cool black and white artwork on the back side of the flap.

If you look in the upper right corner of the flap you can see the other Autobot Headmasters' names and Headmaster companions.  Notice the C114 designation in the left corner?  That was Fortress Maximus' number in the original Takara toy line.

All 10 Headmaster robots just waiting to be opened and plugged into your headless Headmaster!

Before we delve inside the box let's take a look at back and sides.  If you remember the back of most Transformer packaging then you'll recall the epic battle scenes and this box is no different.  Just like there was new CGI art on the front the back also features new art depicting Black Zarak versus Grand Maximus.  The pink and purple Headmaster in the foreground appears to be Krunk (Snapdragon's Headmaster).  Not sure why he is depicted, but it's still cool none the less.

The top of the box features all 10 Headmasters in their alt / robot modes.  Notice not all of them are humanoid robots.  Japan got 3 exclusive beast Headmasters!

The bottom of the box features the same robots now in their head forms.  Notice how the exclusive heads feature a much different look than the standard "cube" heads that were released outside of Japan?

The robots are housed in a plastic inner tray as opposed to styrofoam as used in the 80's.  Each slot is just large enough to hold each figure. Now let's take a closer look at each individual Headmaster.

We'll start with one of my favorites, Lione.  I love the look of Lione in both modes.  The two shades of orange mesh well and the bulk around the face of the lion gives a great impression of a mane.  I also like how the lion's head is integrated into the Headmaster head.  The blue eyes on the face really pop and helps break up the orange.  Hands down this is one of the best figures in the set.

The other feline in the group is Trizer.  A navy blue and purple panther - this is another great looking animal Headmaster.  Maroon is used on Trizer's tail as well as for the eyes of the panther while the face's eyes are painted silver.  I believe Trizer has a very classic Headmaster look - from the sloped brow to the visor like eyes.  I'm beginning to see why these Headmaster animals have always been in such high demand!

Shuffler is the last of animal Headmasters.  I've previously reviewed him so I won't say much other than this is a great, bulky headmaster.

Kirk is one of the 3 traditional Headmasters that never saw release outside of Japan.  Until you transform them into their head forms they aren't as exciting as stand alone figures.  They do have some great designs however and I can't wait to try them on various Headmaster toys.

Loafer is probably my least favorite.  I'm not sure why other than I just don't care for the robot's face.  This looks like a samurai head to me.  Just not feeling this one.

Lodoni has one of the best looking robot modes in my opinion.  I like the the legs are space apart.  It gives the robot a unique look.  The blue and yellow are also a nice match.  I wonder how he'd look on Nightbeat?

The last 4 Headmasters in the set are from two of the largest Transformers toys ever made - Fortress Maximus / Grand Maximus and Scorponok / Black Zarak.

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the collectors that bought this set bought it for these next 4 figures.  Spike from Grand Maximus is your standard "cube" Headmaster.  I can only imagine how much the vintage version of this figure would bring in on the secondary market.

This is the version of Spike that most Transformer fans know.  I've seen the real version of Spike go for $150+ in the past on eBay.  As far as I can tell there are no noticeable differences when I compared this one to my vintage Spike.

I realized when I was snapping the pictures that Car Robots' Brave Maximus' Headmaster Plasma features a very similar color scheme when compared to Grand Maximus' Spike.  Coincidence?

Thanks to the infamous GPS issue (Gold Plastic Syndrome) I'm sure people bought this set for Black Zarak alone.  I know I was one of those people as my vintage Headmaster is basically just the face portion since GPS claimed both arms and legs!

Apparently Scorponok's Headmaster Lord Zarak is equally hard to find on the secondary market.  I have always been puzzled by this figure as to why a creamy off white plastic was used in stead of the classic Scorponok green.

This is a great set - even if it is a knock-off.  The quality is very nice.  From the awesome box to the figures themselves this is a KO worthy of purchase.  I have no idea if Takara Tomy will ever officially re-release these figures and unless you have some luck and deep pockets good luck tracking down and affording the originals.