Monday, March 30, 2015

The Parasite Doctor Suzune: Genesis, Super Veterinarian Saves Mankind

2011's "The Parasite Doctor Suzune: Genesis" brings this blog back into the realm of fetishes from Japan.  Heavily influenced by David Cronenberg's "Shivers," our film today combines tentacled beasts which violate women, with the very erotic super-heroine.  Rei Yoshii in the title role plays the veterinarian, clad in a revealing leather outfit and a labcoat.  With slithery parasitic monsters galore, and beautiful Asian women as the victims, Suzune has her work cut out.  She will battle these creatures, a tentacled thing that wants to violate her, some mad-scientists, and even a dominatrix armed with a whip before this film ends.  What else do we need for a fine cinematic experience?
As our story begins, Japanese babes are being turned into hyper-nymphomaniacs who rape any man they can find.  Our alluring vet, Suzune, knows why and she seeks to stop this scourge.  The women are infected with a parasite, and Suzune usually arrives and is able to save them by pulling it out of their {CENSORED}.  With the help of Kyoko, a babe Suzune saved, she discovers the main source of the parasites.  An anti-aging supplement is the culprit, and Suzune focuses her investigation to the medical research company that distributes the capsules.  Suzune has two allies: A frog that eats parasites, which she carries on a thigh-holster, and a mysterious hunk who also seems to share her goal.

Through flashbacks we see that Suzune lost her father when she was a young girl.  As Suzune gets closer to the evil supplement company, our sexy vet realizes her father may be making the parasites...but could he still be alive?  As more Japanese women are turned into hyper-vixens, Suzune makes a move for the secret laboratory.  Uh-oh....evil forces are waiting for her.  What do the mad-scientists have planned for Suzune?  What secrets from her childhood will rush back to haunt our dear vet?  If Suzune doesn't succeed, her fate will be one of horrific violation (see picture below).
This story is taken out of a Japanese comic book and is fast paced and appeals to our basest interests.  Suzune is capable and sexy, but also haunted by a mysterious past.  This film has a sequel, and Rei Yoshii plays the beautiful heroine well.  The best sexploitation films of the 21st century are emanating from Japan, and for this we owe much gratitude to our Asian allies.  Both this film and it's sequel are reasonably priced on Amazon.com.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Mystery of the 13th Guest, The Last Supper

As Easter approaches,we should take a look at the Last Supper.  No...not that one.  1943's "The Mystery of the 13th Guest" examines the last supper in which a dysfunctional family had together, and the murderous results.  An old house, adorned with cobwebs, trap-doors, secret passageways, deadly booby-traps, and a murderous fiend grace our blog entry today.  Oh yes, throw in a beautiful damsel in distress, a square -jawed private eye, wise-cracking cops, and a family steeped with motives and we have a fun tale of carnage and suspense.
As our film begins, the patriarch af the Morgan family has gathered his family around a formal dinner table.  They are seated in 12 chairs, with a 13th left unoccupied.  He tells them that his death is imminent, and gives his unloving family some bad news.  The will will not be executed until 13 years after his death, or when his good and pure niece, Marie, turns 21. Morgan is last seen laughing at his greedy kin and extolling, "Hopefully some of you will be dead by then." The young and cute Marie is given a letter, which she is instructed to open on her 21st birthday.  Her grandfather tells her that the letter will give instructions for the reading of the will.  Fast forward, 13 years, the pretty and nubile Marie enters the house, filled with cobwebs and dust and opens the letter.  Surprise, all that is written is "13-13-13."  Then bang!  The unfortunate and pert Marie is murdered, and her corpse is put at the same place at the table in which she sat 13 years previous.  The cops arrive and so does Johnny Smith (Dick Purcell), a private investigator hired by the Morgan family.
The cops are baffled as the cause of death for the glamorous and naive Marie is determined to be electrocution.  As the rest of the family converges, hoping to reap the benefits of Morgan's will, we meet a slew of prime suspects.  Surprise, the lovely and imperiled Marie waltzes in.  Apparently the corpse in the chair is determined to be some poor schmuck who had plastic surgery in order to impersonate Morgan's favorite niece.  As the Morgan heirs bicker, the family attorney is then found dead in the house, in...you guessed it...the exact same chair he was seated in 13 years ago.  As Johnny falls in love with the vulnerable and pristine Marie, the murders continue.  The victimized and good Marie is lured to the house believing Johnny will meet her there.  Unfortunately for her, only a masked man, hiding in a secret basement awaits her.
Who is murdering the greedy Morgan family members?  Is it the nymphomaniac sister (Jacqueline Daly) of the amorous and wide-eyed Marie, who also desires Johnny's affection?  Or perhaps one of her brothers who desires the family fortune is responsible.  Can Johnny arrive at the house in time to save his precious new love interest?  What do the cryptic numbers (13-13-13) mean?  This Easter season, revisit the last supper of the Morgan family and enjoy "The Mystery of the 13th Guest," available on Netflix.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Danger Dolls, Japanese Girl Band Saves Earth

I have been meaning to review a serious movie on this blog.  One which speaks to humanity, and leaves us with inspiration and  goodness.  No frolic and guilty pleasure today....rather, serious reflection and scholarship, instead.  Hence 2014's "Danger Dolls" featuring a really cute Japanese all-girl band saving the world with swords and shapely bodies.  Rumi Hanai, Rina Takeda, Nana Seino, and Kayano are four beautiful actresses that share the title role in the most inspirational film of last year.  Clad in short skirts and thigh high boots, our superheroines are armed with swords and a desire to do what is right.
Earth has been purged of guns and nukes....but danger still lurks.  From a parallel universe, invaders are replacing Japan's political leaders in order to rule the world with nuclear weapons.  Enter a really cute quartet; Arisa, Ray, Mari, and Miki.  This all-girl band is really a group of superheroes.  The girl-band identity allows them cover to move about the country without garnering suspicion.  In reality, these four beauties are also from an alternate universe, and have come to earth to protect us from the invaders.  With their sword skills, they are able to unceremoniously dispatch the evil war-mongering invaders, and please their teen-aged fans as they perform as the "i Dolls."  But wait!  However syruppy sweet the first half of this film is.......we take a turn to the dark side.
Arisa begins to have doubts.  She wants to love someone (...an unknown man) and eschew violence.  Unbeknownst ti Arisa, a mysterious man is falling in love with her.  To make matters worse, one of the other i Dolls has a secret lesbian crush on her.  The Dolls continue to puree the evil invaders.  The forces of evil then send the heavy hitters.  The final battle will have grim consequences as some of the Dolls will be slaughtered.  As the Dolls face this epic battle, their identities from an alternate universe come into play.  The ending of this film has resemblance to the final scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and will leave you wide-eyed and in mild shock.  Our four beauties seem to go down valiantly.....but are they really done?
The big surprise in this film is that it turned dark in the final 40 minutes.  Whatever comic book flare it had, that changed to a graphic novel flare.  As the Dolls eventually question their own actions, and begin to desire love over violence, consequences are exacted.  Whatever their fates, as one of the Dolls concludes, about their efforts, "..somewhere out there, someone fought for what was right."  If this is what we take away from "Danger Dolls," then my first couple of sentences of this blog entry, were not in jest.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Black Sleep, The Softer Side of a Mad Scientist

"I must be allowed to continue my experiments." I've always wanted to say that.  The mad scientist may be the best character created in fiction over the past couple of centuries.  In 1956's "The Black Sleep" we have a great one.  Basil Rathbone portrays a mad doctor obsessed with medical miracles.  and his motto is "In the interest of science, anything is justified."  I love it.  In 2015, this logic gives us "The Human Centipede" films.  However, for 1950s standards, "The Black Sleep" may have been just as stomach turning than the HC franchise.  Old, dark castles, eerie hallways adorned with suits of armor, lunatic mutants, a damsell in much distress (...who screams really well), a body snatcher, and of course the mad scientist are the ingredients in this neat horror flick.  Oh yes, the cast also includes Lon Chaney, Jr., Tor Johnson, John Carradine, and Bela Lugosi...need I say more.
Dr. Cadman (Rathbone) saves Dr. Ramsay (Herbert Rudley) from the gallows.  Cadman has discovered an ancient drug that can make a subject appear dead, but in reality merely slows down physiological functions.  After administering the drug to Ramsay, the prison believes him dead. Cadman brings Ramsay back to his castle where he performs human experimentation on the brain.  At first Ramsay is grateful.  He is alive and given the opportunity to assist a genius.  Uh oh, the beautiful Laurie (Patricia Blair) is attacked by Mungo (Lon Chaney, Jr.).  Mungo is a violent lunatic that is bent on strangling the fair damsel.  Cadman confesses that Mungo used to be a brilliant doctor, and our mad doctor claims to be trying to restore him to his brilliance.  Double uh oh!  Ramsay discovers the cadavers which him and Cadman are experimenting on are in fact...not cadavers...but living schmucks who have been given this ancient drug, aka the black sleep.
We can understand the madness, as old Cadman has a 33 year old wife who is a spitting image of Veronica Lake (Louanna Gardner).  Cadman is obsessed at bringing her out of her coma, which she has been under for almost a year.  As his body snatcher, Odo (Akim Tamiroff) brings him more not so dead bodies, Ramsay realizes he must stop the madness.  As Ramsay and the beautiful Laurie fall in love, both lovebirds come under increasing peril.  As our amorous duo determine to end Cadman's experiments they find the dungeon where unsuccessful experiments are kept.  The unsuccessful experiments are led by a weird old man (John Carradine) who believes he's in the crusades, and feature a brute named Curry (Tor Johnson)..the man Ramsay was said to have murdered.  Cadman must act fast, as Scotland Yard nears the castle.
The ending is wild and will feature many blood curdling death scenes.  What is Mungo's reason for wanting to strangle the fair Laurie?  Does true love sanction the actions of a mad scientist?  Why not get Veronica Lake to play Veronica Lake?  Available on Netflix, "The Black Sleep" was quite cutting edge in the 1950s.  Even today, this film will have the more squeamish among us turning their heads.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Literature Review #8: The Worsening

To be an attractive young lady in a big city.  Kind of exciting!  Cool job....running a trendy coffee shop.  Stressful, income not great.  A bit insecure, perhaps a touch overwhelmed by responsibility.  To make matters a bit more complicated, a really cool stranger is attracted to her.  However exciting, the thoughtful will always be revisited by their vulnerabilities and insecurities.  Carla has a past that haunts her, and now, her past will deliver a most shocking horror.  Olivia Stanton's "The Worsening" is a story that will stick with you, and give you nightmares.  Ms. Stanton introduces us to Carla's unsettling (....horrific?) past, by yanking her out of a promising existence, right back into the personal Hell she believes she escaped from.  Unfortunately, unless we meet our demons head on, as Ms. Stanton reminds us in this novel, they will seek us out.
To avoid spoilers, I am going to be brief on the plot.  The above mentioned Carla is unceremoniously advised of the death of her dad, the only family member she felt close to.  Her malignant mother (Abby) and creepy brother (Matty) pick her up in Philadelphia and take her on a most uncomfortable four hour drive to the mountains.  The car stinks, and during this ride we meet Abby, a purely dysfunctional mom, who used to seduce her daughter's boyfriends.  Also we learn Abby has spells, known to Carla as "the worsening."  What is "the worsening"?  Ms. Stanton defines it for us through her prose throughout the novel.  When the last pages of this work have been read, you'll know what it is.  Surfeit to say, picture it is something not right that dwells in our subconscious, and perhaps lives inside of all of us.  Most of us keep it locked up, but in some people, it escapes and overtakes.  Forgive this cryptic explanation, read the book for the full story on this dysfunction. 
During this week-end, the family will stay at Abby's double-wide in the mountains.  Carla will then revisit some very uncomfortable, perhaps terrifying, episodes of her past.  A pall of dread and doom permeate the mountain residence, and the maliciousness directed at Carla will make your skin crawl.  Though not monsters in the classic sense, Abby and Matty emerge as total creeps, completely unnerving our protagonist.  Any attempt to remember her dad fondly is interrupted by her family's almost demonic demeanor and social skills. Even when her beloved brother, Derek arrives, Ms. Stanton doesn't provide Carla an oasis of sanity and safety...you'll see.  Then, just as you believe you are reading a psychological horror story, which you are, Ms. Stanton masterfully transcends it to a blood-curdling gory horror tale as well.  "The Worsening" works magnificently weaving the psychological and horror together.  As we follow Carla through the plot, we are on edge.  Something dark is heading her way, and we don't know what.  No matter how much we yell, "Run, get away!", she can't.  Eventually she will come face to face with the most unimaginable evils a horror writer can concoct.
Ms. Stanton's "The Worsening" is available on Amazon.com.  We forgive many writers for using familiar plot devices, especially if they tell a good story.  Ms. Stanton tells a great horror story, avoiding cliche plot devices.  What keeps the reader so unsettled is that there is no familiar territory to take comfort in.  As uncomfortable and vulnerable Carla is in these pages, so is the reader,  Perhaps this is how this great horror author built empathy between us and her protagonist.  If you want shocking horror, read "The Worsening," by Olivia Stanton.  
 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Scribbler, Buffy Goes Totally Whacko

Michelle Trachtenberg as a homicidal maniac, and Elisha Dushku as a sultry police psychologist are both alumni of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."  These lovely actresses have supporting roles in 2014's "The Scribbler," which stars Katie Cassidy ("Gossip Girl") in the title role.  In Film Noir fashion, this movie is dark and weird.....just the way I like them.  Ms. Cassidy plays an outcast, tattooed and pierced, suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID (multiple personality disorder), who just might be a brutal murderer.  In a world, set in the near future, being a little bit different can be deadly. As Suki (Cassidy) points out, "...in the war between individuality and conformity, the individual is always outgunned."  Regardless of the possibility that Suki is a killer, her quest for individualism in a world where conformity is forced upon everyone, makes her an anti-hero.
Suki is undergoing treatment for DID.  The Siamese Burn Machine, a more violent form of electro-shock therapy, kills off the extra personalities, one by one.  The end goal of this treatment is to leave Suki with one personality, and make her normal.  As Suki endures these treatments, she is sent to a slum apartment building when only nine personalities remain.  Because of her progress, she is allowed to finish the treatments herself.  As she checks into the Juniper Towers, she meets her neighbors, all of which are psyche cases.  Two of her neighbors are beautiful Bunny (Sasha Gray) and the nude Emily (Ashlynn Yennie, "Human Centipede").  Both of these beauties commit suicide...or were they murdered?...as Suki eliminates a personality.  The cops believe Suki killed these women, and Detective Moss (Michael Imperioli) and Jennifer Silk (Dushku) investigate the deaths (see picture below).
Suki has more to worry about than the investigation. Another neighbor, Alice (Trachtenberg), keeps trying to kill her, pictured below.  Still, Alice is not Suki's biggest fear.  Deep inside Suki lays a horrifying being known as the scribbler.  The scribbler is evil and Suki and her benign personalities believe the scribbler is intent on being the last personality surviving after the burn machine finishes it's work.  When manifested, the scribbler personality writes evil messages all over the walls, and just may be responsible for some murders.  As Alice continues her homicidal ways, Suki realizes that she needs to protect herself.  Are Alice and the other dead residents merely Suki's other personalities? What if the scribbler is the lone surviving personality in Suki's body?  As the burn machine continues to delete personalities, the scribbler seems to get stronger, Alice gets more dangerous, and the police get closer to arresting Suki.      
Regardless of the peril Suki faces from herself, the machine, the police, and Alice, her major quest is to buck conformity and remain an individual. Whether or not the other ladies are Suki's other identities, or their own people, Suki is indeed fighting a war being waged inside her.  As her multiple personalities dwindle, which one will she be left with?  Dark and rebellious, "The Scribbler" says a lot about conformity's war against the individual.  Is Suki the crazy one, or is the society that institutionalizes her the crazy one?  Available on Netflix, enjoy Katie Cassidy and several of her friends, in "The Scribbler,"

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The 2014 Version

Not a remake, but a sequel.  The 1976 drive-in classic begged for a sequel, though the mysterious end to that film contributed to the lore that is "The Town That Dreaded Sundown."  Today we look at the 2014 film which picks up over 60 years after the original ended.  Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon ("American Horror Story"), this new film captures the fear that envelopes small town America during a rash of brutal murders.  In addition to a stellar performance by Addison Timlin, some really big Hollywood names also grace the screen.  Edward Herrmann, Gary Cole, Ed Lauter, and Veronica Cartwright shine, though Ms. Timlin's portrayal as a haunted teen steals the show.  Before reading on, you may want to read my review of the original TTTDS posted on this blog on October 15, 2014.
On Halloween, a drive-in theater in Texarkana shows "The Town That Dreaded Sundown."  Jami (Timlin) and her hunk date, Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) are two high school seniors that leave the show to make-out in a deserted wooded area.  Never a good idea!  The two seem like good kids and before they can get too into each other, the phantom killer appears.  He orders the teens out of the car, butchers Corey, and lets Jami live.  He tells Jami to tell everyone "This is for Mary, make them remember."  Who is Mary?  You'll find out at the end.  Jami is rescued, battered and scared. Texarkana is now in a panic.....the phantom killer has returned.  Can that be?  He'd be over 100 years old now.  A copy cat?  A descendant?  Jami's survival propels her into an eerie existence.  An awkward episode occurs as she attends Corey's funeral.  Her grandmother (Cartwright) explains to her the history of the original killings.
Corey's nightmarish and surreal trek through the remainder of the film is contrasted by Kendra (Morganna May).  The energetic skank picks up her soldier boy at the airport and brings him to a no-tell motel for a night of pre-marital sex.  Also, never a good idea.  In true slasher flick form, the killers tend to be prudes, and Kendra and her soldier are murdered by the phantom in tortuous fashion.  The Texas Rangers, led by the charismatic Lone Wolf Morales (Anthony Anderson) come to Texarkanna again to work with the locals.  Jami, as a coping mechanism, begins her own investigation into the murders.  Her belief is that if she can identify the 1946 killer, she will find out who the modern day psycho is.  Jami is real pretty, and picking up boyfriends comes natural to her...though none of her beaus will fare well.  As she delves deeper into the mystery, the killings continue, and now she herself is a target.  The new killer does seem to try to recreate the murders that occurred in the first film, hence we have another trombone murder.
The ending has disappointed some fellow critics, however, I don't see the ending as merely the revelation of the killer's identity.  This is largely a film about Jami, and the perils and pitfalls of escaping a haunted existence.  Prior to the final credits, Jami's narration is deep and ominous.  Her sentiments hint at renewal and dread.  Perhaps Jami's words to us are more profound than merely an ending to a slasher film.  Available on Netflix, see "The Town That Dreaded Sundown," and never play the trombone again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Escape From Tomorrow, The Horrors of Disney World

Screaming kids....long lines....pedophiles.....ahhhh, the magic of Disney World.  American culture has made a family pilgrimage to Disney a sacrament.  Criticizing Disney goes over as well as announcing you don't recycle.  I hate Disney, and I don't recycle....there...I said it!  I fully expect some government agency to start tapping my phones now, or perhaps social services will pay a visit to my home.  Heaven forbid we don't conform.  Perhaps, Disney is a symbol of the need for civilization to get its people to conform to idiocy so they cease thinking about anything that may produce real change.  Perhaps.  Or perhaps I am just a paranoid kook.  Randy Moore, who wrote and directed our film for today may be equally as cynical of Disney.  So let us now examine 2013's "Escape From Tomorrow," filmed entirely at Disney and EPCOT, without their permission.
As our film begins, Jim (Roy Abramsohn) has found out that he has been fired from his job, while he is at Disney World with his family.  Suddenly the "Magic Kingdom" takes on a different tone for Jim who then begins a psychedelic journey filled with dark images and eroticism.  As he shepherds his family through Disney, his wife constantly criticizes him and repels any affection he attempts with her.  He braves long lines, with his impatient son, only to have the ride cancelled when they get to the front.  Going through a personal Hell, alone, he starts having sexual fantasies.  Jim keys in on two teen-aged French girls (Danielle Safady and Annet Mahendru, pictured below), and drags his kids along while he stalks them through the park.  Emily (Elena Schuber), Jim's wife, catches on to her husband's behavior, and spends the rest of the film hating him.  
Jim's terrifying journey is enhanced by unsettling images from Disney and EPCOT.  This film is constantly turning darker, and while guiding his young daughter through the park, he gives in to temptation, by having wild sex with an ex-Disney princess in her hotel room.  Still fixated on the French girls, our anti-hero is constantly seduced by Disney vixens, including a nurse (Amy Lucas), as she treats his daughter's skinned knee.  As Emily rejects Jim, his mind (..or is it real?) creates fantasies to satisfy his need to be loved.  The plot gets wilder, as we discover a conspiracy by the Siemens Corporation which has a secret lab inside the big ball at EPCOT.  What are they doing to Jim?  As Jim's family life sinks deeper into despair and hopelessness, his fantasy world (...or is it real?) gets more erotic.
Will Jim snap out of his malaise and put his family back together?  Will Disney security arrest him for being a pedophile?  The ending is dark.....or is it?  On face value, or steeped with metaphor and symbolism, "Escape From Tomorrow" will change the way you think about Disney World.  This dark jaunt into man's abyss is available on Netflix. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Iron Girl, Beautiful Superheroine Fetish from Japan

I avoid superhero films at all costs.  I have no patience for Thor, Iron Man, Superman,or Spider-Man.  However patriotic I try to be, I have no interest in Captain America.  However, 2012's "Iron Girl" (aka "Aian Girl" or "Aian Garu")?  Now that is a superhero film I can get behind.  Let's face it, Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man does nothing for any of us.  However.....Kirara Asuka as Iron Girl?  Now we're talking!  The Japanese love for superheroines is deep, and in some circles has developed into a fetish.  Directed by Masatoshi Nogamine, "Iron Girl" is fun, alluring, and pleasing to the eye (...especially the man's eye).
In a fictional era, the landscape is ruled by thugs called Crazy Dogs.  As our story begins, the beautiful and fair Anne is accosted by three Crazy Dogs who have rape in mind.  Clad in a kimono and carrying a teddy bear, Anne is no match for her tormentors.  Fortunately for Anne (Rina Akiyama), Iron Girl happens upon the scene, and she quickly dispatches our thugs.  Iron Girl is fast, has super-human strength, and can avoid bullets.  Iron Girl is an enigma.  She has no memory of her past, and as she states, "..my reason for living is to fight." Anne brings her back to her village where there is immediate suspicion cast upon our superhero.  However, when the guys see her breast size, they decide she can stay.  Uh oh....  Iron Girl's victory over the would-be rapists ensure that Crazy Joe Mitsuki Koga) will try to wipe out the village of peaceful peasants.
 As doom becomes imminent, Iron Girl is convinced to stay and protect the villagers from the evil Crazy Dogs.  The heroine endears herself to the entire community by training them to fight, and allowing them to see her nude.  The initial attacks by the Crazy Dogs are repelled with ease by our lady and the newly trained villagers.  Crazy Joe's girlfriend, Catherine, decides she wants Iron Girl as a play-toy, and devises a plan to capture her.  Clad in black, armed with a whip, Catherine is able to string up Iron Girl and inflict a beating upon her.  Will the villagers come to Iron Girl's aid?  Now stripped of her power, Catherine owns Iron Girl, and Iron Girl is getting mad.  As Crazy Joe plots to annihilate the village, Iron Girl must regain her strength, break free of her bondage, and kick some but.  We are treated to a nice cat-fight between Catherine and Iron Girl (see picture above).
The mysterious stranger rides into town and saves the good people from evil crime lords.  This theme is so successful in westerns, however, is also adopted in this film.  Ms. Asuka is beautiful in portraying the title role, and a fascinating back-story centers on the heroine desperately trying to remember who she is and where she came from.  "Iron Girl" begs for a sequel, and I for one would rather see Kirara Asuka on the silver screen than Robert Downey, Jr.  The DVD is reasonably priced on Amazon.com, so treat yourself to a fetish from Japan.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Black Rock, Don't Mess With These Ladies

One of the most underrated films of the last 10 years is 2012's "Black Rock." Katie Aselton is to be lauded for a magnificent effort, not just as the star, but also as the writer and director of this thriller.  Unlike "50  Shades of Gray," "Black Rock" is a girls' movie that even men will enjoy.  Set and filmed on a remote island off the Maine coast, many will compare this work to "Deliverance" or "Southern Comfort."  Perhaps that is a fair comparison, but the character development is much more tender (...perhaps the feminine influence of Ms. Aselton).  Don't don't be fooled by that tenderness, as "Black Rock" is a brutal, unmerciful film which sheds much blood.
The plot: Sarah (Kate Bosworth) arranges for her and two friends to spend a couple days on a remote island off the Maine coast.  Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (Aselton) haven't spoken in years, as Lou seduced Abby's boyfriend.  As the journey begins, Abby and Lu are bitter enemies, and Sarah desperately tries to work out a reconciliation.  As the trio begins to explore the island, they are startled to discover three hunters have also arrived on this rock.  The three hunters are childhood friends of our protagonists, but as we find out....they each have been dishonorably discharged for murderous war crimes in Afghanistan.  Abby is obviously hiding something, we suspect a failed marriage, and invites the men to drink with them on the beach.  She gets drunk and seduces Henry (Will Bouvier).  As the two start down the path of extra-marital sex, Abby changes her mind.  Henry is a bit compulsive and tries to rape her. In the struggle, Abby delivers a lucky blow, killing Henry.  Uh oh....Henry's pals, Derek (Jay Paulson) and Alex (Anslem Richardson) are even more psycho than the now deceased Henry.
Derek and Alex, unhinged by the death of Henry, beat the snot out of the ladies and tie them up, prepping them for execution.  Using their wits, the women escape, and are now hunted by the two war criminals.  Abby and Lou must put their differences aside as the three must work together to survive the male predators.  Though this movie does have a focus on the relationship of these women, it is a horrific tale of survival.  I won't give any spoilers, but our diminutive heroines must turn into bloodthirsty hunters, themselves.  Now, not only are they hunted, but they are also hunters. Unarmed, suffering from hypothermia, and scared, Abby, Lou, and Sarah must kill or be killed.  The ending is brutal, and extremely violent.  
Abby, Lou, and Sarah are not sitting around scrap-booking or going to book club meetings.  Though they prioritize relationships, killing and mayhem also take priority in their weekend getaway.  Men wouldn't mind chick flicks so much if more mayhem and carnage was mixed in with discussions about feelings and tenderness.  Not the feel good movie of the last 10 years, but a gritty and violent study of three women striving to stay alive.  Great acting by all six stars, and wonderful direction by Ms. Aselton, "Black Rock is available on Netflix.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

3 Dead Girls, and the Psychos Who Loved Them!

"It's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong....why would you ever want to make this film?"  This question was commonly thrown at Christopher Alan Broadstone regarding "Scream for Me," one of the three short films in 2007's "3 Dead Girls."  Pushing the envelope, being provocative, and exploring the controversial seem to be three pillars of this DVD...and if you know me (...and this blog), make Mr. Broadstone my type of guy.  "3 Dead Girls" combines three award winning shorts into an anthology which is available on Amazon.com.  With over a dozen film awards to his credit, the indie filmmaker explores the darkest side of the human psyche in this trio of works.
Dark, low-budget, hard-to-watch, and dimly lit all are ingredients that the hardcore horror fan values.  Perhaps our id is stroked by these attributes.  In any event, we are discouraged to speak of these works (...like "3 Dead Girls") in so-called polite company.  But here...on this blog...let's talk away!  In "Scream for Me," Irene (Lora Martinez-Cunningham) is having a bad day...her last day.  She is being strangled by Garrott (Gabriel Sigal) who is ready to get off on her screams.  Uh oh...she is determined not to scream.  Close to death, but not yet screaming, Irene is revived to endure more of this torture, as Garrott demands a scream.  Mercifully, Irene passes.  In death, perhaps she achieved victory over her tormentor.  Unfortunately for Garrott, he is not the worst madman in this film.  Instantly after Irene's death, an ultimate psycho (Tony Simmons) barges into the room, and Garrott will now assume the role of victim (perhaps a bad descriptor). What happens when you beat a psycho to the punch?  Garrott is about to find out.
In "Human No More" we explore what happens to a human being when all that he loves is destroyed.  Also starring Tony Simmons, this time as a detective set to interrogate the devil who murdered his wife and young child.  Perhaps the most frightening part of "Human No More" is that what he becomes....is human...though a darker version of who he used to be.  In "My Skin," Tony Simmons plays Mr. Death.  Death is a meticulous and anal sort, and when his schedule and books are messed with...well..there'll be Hell to pay.  Cindy (Lisa Montague) lays dead, just murdered by her husband.  Cindy will have the last laugh, though on the other side of eternity, as Death decides to deal with her murderous spouse.  See...it wasn't Cindy's time to go, and Death is a busy sort.  Committing the ultimate crime has consequences far beyond the legal system.
Though we see Tony Simmons in three different roles, we have to look closely to realize it is the same actor.  Mr. Simmons does a fine job portraying some extreme sorts.  Though the women don't fare well in any of these tales, we also need to tip our hats to Lora Martinez-Cunningham.  In my skin, she endures a beating in which no actress has had to endure even in a full length feature.  I also want to point out the music...it is spot on, energetic, and first-rate (Mr. Broadstone is also a musician).  This work is dark, frightening, stomach turning, and not for everyone.  If you are up to the challenge, see "3 Dead Girls."  Check out Mr. Broadstone and his production company at www.blackcabproductions.com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Blood Gnome, Love, Monsters and BDSM

Other than HBO specials, the world of BDSM is hidden from mainstream western culture.  However, the peeps who brought you "Bio Slime" (see my review from February 12th), which chronicled the fall of the adult film industry, comes 2004's "Blood Gnome."  However hidden the BDSM culture is in America and Europe, it isn't hidden deep. Teachers, lawyers, politicians, cops, etc. all partake in this so-called sexual deviant culture, which is charging toward more appreciation in a world ever more ruled by social media.  Written and directed by John Lechago, and starring Vinnie Bilancio ("Bio Slime"), "Blood Gnome" introduces horrific monsters into a community forced into the shadows by self imposed norms.
The plot:  Gory murders are occurring in the BDSM community.  While in the throes of bondage and whipping, little monsters are chopping up and eating dominatrix' and their male subjects.  Daniel (Bilancio) is a CSI photographer for the LAPD.  He is back at work after a stint in the psyche-ward (the back story on this is as brutal as the crimes he is now responding to).  The cops are mystified as they respond to numerous scenes of carnage involving BDSM.  Walking away from one murder scene, Daniel befriends Divinity (Melissa Pursley), who is ensconced in the BDSM culture.  To understand these murders, Daniel starts a relationship with Divinity, who will act as his teacher of BDSM.  Uh oh!  Daniel's super sensitive video camera starts picking up images of monsters at the crime scenes, invisible to the naked eye.

Oh yes!  Elandra (Ri Walton) is big in the BDSM world.  She has a monster from Hell in a box which births these gnome creatures.  The creatures prey on BDSMers, and bring the body parts to the creature in the box.  Also, Elandra, the enterprising sort that she is, extracts the birthing fluids from the monster, and produces drugs which she has her dealers sell on the L.A. streets.  As Daniel gets pulled further into the BDSM world, the monster and her gnomes realize he is getting closer to discovering their secret.  Since only Daniel can see the images of the gnomes, no one believes him.  As the creature begins communicating to Daniel through a BDSM chat-room, he realizes that he and Divinity are now being targeted as menu items by it.  As the monster sends her gnomes to abduct Divinity, she lures Daniel to a deadly BDSM party in which the guests will be served up as smorgasbord (see picture above).
A battle of wits will ensue in the bloodbath that will conclude this film.  Will Daniel be able to defeat the monsters and save his new girlfriend?  Is this film making a statement about the plight of certain communities in western civilization that are forced to live in the shadows, and the dangers they face because of nonacceptance?  Though Divinity and Daniel come from rough communities, their emerging relationship is sweet.  The acting is good, the gore is piled pretty high, and the creature effects (mostly puppets) is fantastic.  See "Blood Gnome," which is available on Netflix. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Survivor, Space Babe Saves Humanity

Kate Mitra (Danielle Chuchran) is the heroine of 2014's "Survivor."  Perhaps this character is a hybrid of portrayals by Kate Beckinsale and Rhona Mitra.  The Kate in "Survivor" manifests many of the qualities of Ms. Beckinsale's Selena, and Ms. Mitra's Eden Sinclair.  A younger version of these actresses, Ms. Chuchran, in "Survivor,' sets a record for working off the most calories of any action character.  Disposing of enemy mutants, rock climbing, sprinting through the wilderness, or falling from space, Kate Mitra is an action hero who never rests.  Though only in her early 20s, Ms. Chuchran is not a newcomer to acting.  If "Xena: Warrior Princess" ever gets a redo, this young actress would be perfect for the title role.  Now, let's look at "Survivor."
Many years into the future, Earth becomes uninhabitable.  Space ships carrying humans jettison to the far reaches of the universe.  Aboard the Columbus 7 are some really nice looking young warriors to be, captained by Kevin Sorbo.  Kate has just turned 21, and trains nonstop with her friends, which include the pretty Haley (Melanie Stone), Weston (Blake Webb), and Anne (Abigail Mason).  One day, they find what might be a habitable planet, and these peeps take a shuttle down to it to explore.  Uh oh!  They crash land and are separated.  Kate lands in a lake and swims to shore.  She finds her friends, and fellow space babe, Anne, dies in her arms. Then violent natives attack and abduct the peeps, except Kate escapes.  Now Kate attempts to find Kevin Sorbo, and eventually rescue her friends.

As she gets closer to Kevin Sorbo, she is constantly warding off attacks from xenophobic natives, monstrous mutants, and an occasional monster.  Her prowess with blades, rocks, and bows and arrows is too much for her tormentors, and our pretty protagonist gets nearer to the completion of her quest.  Finding some unexpected allies, Kate realizes that she will have to enter the lair of the mutants in order to save her friends from being part of a buffet.  If successful, she will enable the human race to survive on this new planet.
Ms. Chuchran is captivating as the unlikely savior of mankind.  Kevin Sorbo and the other young actors are also terrific.  Will Kate Mitra live up to her hybrid name?  Will the xenophobic natives of this mysterious planet adopt a more diverse outlook to the earthlings?  As energetic as her performance is, Ms. Chuchran must also play the dramatic, as two of her BFFs die in her arms.  If you miss "Xena" and "Hercules," the DVD to "Survivor" is reasonably priced on Amazon.com.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Invisible Invaders, The Dead Rise and Cause Much Mayhem

In the 1950s, mass hysteria centered around the threat of nuclear holocaust.  This fear persisted through the 1980s, but when the Soviet Union evaporated, people forgot about nuclear annihilation.  Instead, here in 2015, we teach our kids that a failure to recycle could destroy our planet.  We've come a long way.  1959's "Invisible Invaders" uses the fear of nuclear annihilation as it's backdrop, as an alien race invades Earth fearing human technology with the atom could peril the entire universe.  This film is often lumped with "Plan 9 From Outer Space" in their campiness.  However silly this movie might appear, at least the protagonists were not afraid of plastic bags.
As our film begins, world reknown atom scientist, Dr. Noymann (John Carradine) pulls a Fawn Lebowitz and blows himself up in his lab leaving his entire city radioactive.  Simultaneously, invisible alien invaders land on Earth and occupy the bodies of the recently deceased.  When Dr. Noymann visits his friend, Dr. Penner (Philip Tonge), it is as an invader.  The invader tells Dr. Penner to convey to all the world governments that they must lay down all their weapons and surrender.  Dr. Penner summons his beautiful daughter, Phyllis (Jean Byron) and his assistant, Dr. Lamont (Robert Hutton) to fly to D.C. and plead to the world to dis-arm.  The world laughs at this request.  No matter, the invaders send a warning, causing plane crashes, dams to burst, factories to explode, etc.  Still skeptical, Earthlings go about their merry existences.
Then, during a Canadians-Red Wings game, a corpse, with an invader inside, commandeers the PA system at the Olympia and commands the people of the Earth to surrender.  Mass panic erupts worldwide.  'Tis interesting that no one believes the scientists and world leaders, but from the booth of hockey telecasters....well...that must be legit.  As corpses rise, Major Jay (John Agar) takes Lamont, Penner, and the beautiful Phyllis to a secret bunker to find a weapon that can kill the invisible tormentors.  The Major and Phyllis fall in love while Dr. Penner works around the clock.  Finally, Penner might be on to something.  The plan will require them to leave the bunker and face their nemesis.  The quartet, now man's only hope, set forth on an impractical mission.
Will Jay and the beautiful Phyllis be able to start a family in a world where the dead stay dead?  Will Penner be able to invent a weapon that repels the invisible?  Will the inconsistent Red Wings defense of the late 1950s be exploited by the opportune Canadians high-scoring forwards?  This flick is a lot of fun, and should not be missed.  Thankfully, sci-fi films of  the Eisenhower era played on a hysteria that was truly frightening.  So...if you can summon up enough bravado, and peel yourself away from your fear of Styrofoam cups, "Invisible Invaders" is now available on Netflix.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mulberry Street, Rats Take Manhattan

The only problem with 2006's "Mulberry Street" is the title.  A more apt moniker for this horror flick is "Mutant Rat People Eat New York."  Rodents are not a new antagonist for this blog, see my review of "Rodentz" posted on July 21st of 2014.  If you can picture the films "Rec" and "Quarantine," only a more extreme and grim version of those two franchises, you have "Mulberry Street." Directed and co-written by Jim Mickle, this film is filled with great actors portraying tragic characters in an apocalyptic predicament.  Kim Blair (pictured below) is phenomenal as Casey, a disfigured veteran just released from a veterans hospital.  Nick Damici (who also co-wrote this film) portrays her father awaiting the return of his daughter.  Swedish actress Bo Corre is brilliant as a single mom, facing the mutant invasion while tending bar.
An emotional Casey begins her journey home with a scarred face to see her dad for the first time since returning from Iraq.  Residents of the tenement building where she is headed are having trouble with rats.  Apparently all of Manhattan is being feasted on by these vermin.  As Casey gets closer to home, the subways are closed because of rat attacks and she must finish her journey on foot.  Unknown to her, residents who have been bitten are turning into rat-people (please...no New York jokes here) and feasting on  other tenants.  Clutch, Casey's dad, emerges as a hero, saving a number of people in the building and going after Kay (Corre), to save her from the same fate at her bar.  His trek down the street is a horrific one as Manhattan has been overrun, and martial law has proven ineffective.  Clutch does reach Kay, which is great, since the viewer instantly embraces the fate of these two losers in life's lottery.
Clutch and Kay escape the bar just in time, as the creatures have turned the patrons into a buffet (see above picture).  However horrible the circumstances, when Clutch finally is able to set his eyes on his now disfigured daughter (pictured below), the scene is emotional and may illicit a tear from the viewer.  Now, holed up in a rickety slum, Clutch and a small band of survivors fight to ward off the monsters, and wait for the army to enter the city.  Not all of our the characters we bond with will survive, and Manhattan will be totally wiped out.  Will our protagonists survive the rat-people, and then the ensuing government response?
"Mulberry Street" is a grim tale which may be a metaphor for all the forgotten people left behind by the wealth in our major cities.  Comparable to the "Rec" films, the bitten here don't just manifest rabies, but actually turn into human-sized rats.  Available on Netflix, this is not a feel-good film, but a horror tale with real people as the rat fodder.


Monday, March 2, 2015

The Dark Valley, The American Cowboy saves Europe

"Freedom is a gift that not everyone likes to receive."  The American cowboy!  Individual!  Rugged!  Independent!  America has turned its back on this noble figure.  America used to be a country of fierce independence and the world's hope for freedom against the tyrannical.  Not anymore.  As America has become a socialist nation that eschews independence and freedom, the rest of the world suffers.  Murderous tyrants, at one time, were cut down by America-now they are funded and armed by our government.  Alas, a western that correctly praises the historic cowboy as a savior.  Our modern culture looks upon the words "cowboy" and "gunfighter" as dirty words.  Modern westerns water down classic oater themes in favor of politically correct ones.  Not 2014's "The Dark Valley."  Oddly, this tip of the hat to the American gunfighter (...from Texas) is a collaboration from Germany, Italy, and Austria.  Directed by Andreas Prochaska, the most pro-American film and best western of the past 50 years, was created without the help of any American.
A lone gunfighter, Greider (Sam Riley, pictured above) rides into a town tucked deep into the Alpes.  The mysterious stranger has happened upon a town ruled by the evil Brenner family.  As the winter snows come, this village is cut off from the rest of civilization. Greider finds lodging with Luzi (Paula Beer) and her mom.  Luzi will wed Lukas (Thomas Schubertz) soon, but oddly enough, there is no joy in her home.  The Brenners rule this hamlet, and when a wedding occurs, the Brenner boys are giving sexual liberties from every bride on their wedding nights.  As Greider makes his way into town with Luzi, it is apparent that the Brenners are keeping watch on him. Alas, Greider is not a total stranger.  His mother was raped by the Brenners on her wedding night, and his dad was crucified on a cross when he tried to protect her virtue.  Unfortunately for the Brenners, Greider is back for vengeance.  Lukas and Luzi are pictured below.
Greider goes to work.  In ways that would make Jason Voorhees proud, he goes through the Brenners like crap through a goose.  As Luzi gets closer to her wedding day, she knows that she will be soiled by the Brenners before she is able to be Lukas's wife.  The Brenners aren't dumb; they figure out Greider is their nemesis and set out to track him down.  Greider realizes that his success may also enable Luzi and Lukas to embark on a lifetime of marital bliss, which his own parents were denied. Will Greider finish his wrath before Luzi and Lukas's wedding night?  Will the Brenners' counter-assault eventually stop Greider dead in his snowy tracks?     
This film is beautifully shot in the snowy Alpes and contains a hauntingly seductive musical score.  Mr. Prochaska masterfully combines elements of a Sergio Leone western, "Braveheart," and "Friday the 13th" to make one of the best cowboy films ever in history. The acting is superb, and the gunfights are gritty and violent. The bleak snowy weather perfectly enhances the brutal themes of this film and the dichotomy between good and evil is not blurred.  Available on Netflix, dubbed into English, do not miss "The Dark Valley" ("Das finstere Tal").  How sad, that a film about the most noble of American characters has to be crafted in Europe.