Thursday, April 30, 2015

Literature Review #9: Suicide the Hard Way, and Other Tales From the Inner Zone

Back on March 12th, 2015 Christopher Alan Broadstone's anthology film "3 Dead Girls" was reviewed on this blog.  Brutal and horrific, "3 Dead Girls" demonstrated an intensity missing from most modern horror films.  Fans of that DVD need also read "Suicide the Hard Way, and Other Tales From the Inner Zone."  This work by Mr. Broadstone is just as intense as his stories in the aforementioned DVD.  In addition to several terrifying and provoking tales, this book also enhances the three short films contained in "3 Dead Girls."
No glowing vampires, or cute critters here...."Suicide the hard Way" is raw and brutal.  Many of the characters we meet in these works have already been swallowed by evil to the point of malicious insanity or becoming monsters in human skin.  Cannibalism, ritualistic human sacrifice, self-mutilation, monster mosquitoes, and delusional self-proclaimed servants of God greet the reader in this collection of horror.  Be careful, the extreme carnage may just overshadow some lighter satirical and poetic entries by Mr. Broadstone.  Some evil can be disguised as elegance, as we see in a very poetic tale of a macabre lunar seductress.  It's as if Mr. Broadstone realizes our nerves have to settle after the intensity of some of his stories, hence two of the tales are toned down (a really bad term).  The other respite we are granted is a satire starring God himself, with enough theological satire to keep your spiritual mind exercised.
The final short story in this work, "Roseblood," is one I found creepy and unnerving.  The monster in this story is one that we have no defenses against.  However sane and nonthreatening people may seem, the potential of murder and torture may be lingering just below their skin.  "Hellbound Hillary" is another stomach turning tale that will change the way you view M&Ms. Witnessing the destruction of a very likable young lady because of a seemingly benign addiction is not easy for us.  I read most of this work on an airplane, and I squirmed in my seat all the way from DC to Chicago.  Fans of  "3 Dead Girls" will also be pleased, not only to read the back-stories of those short films, but also to peek at the short story "Scream for Me."  The intensity of the film may have caused us to miss some subtle points, which we see more clearly in the written work.  In the story "Suicide the Hard Way" we are introduced to a noble schmuck who delves into evil and black rites.  This is an incredibly busy story which uses death and suicide completely differently than our understanding has defined them.
For those of you who demand an edge, or an intensity to your horror, "Suicide the Hard Way..." is a collection for you.  Mr. Broadstone is also a fine musician, which I believe instills in him a gift to tell a story.  The musical mind is more adept to creating characters that are real, and plights that test the imagination. This book can be purchased on Amazon.com, or visit www.blackcabproductions.com.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Taeter City, From Italy...Lucio Fulci Lives!

The great Italian horror director/writer Lucio Fulci died in 1996.  Whatever gore was put forth in American cinema in either the slasher genre or the outset of the zombie genre....Mr. Fulci always topped it.  American audiences, thirsting for blood, even enjoyed the dubbed dialog of films like "Zombie" or "The Beyond."  Whatever Romero did.....Fulci would up the ante.  2012's "Taeter City" is a Fulci-esque effort from writer and director Giulio De Santi (also from Italy).  I have seen many films, usually from Japan, that have gut-wrenching gore every one to two minutes.  "Taeter City" has extreme (...even by 2015 standards) scenes of gore approximately every 15 seconds.  Even the most solid horror aficionado will turn his head while watching this futuristic gore-fest.
The Authority maintains order....in a big way.  No riots.  No crime.  Cannibalism has been introduced into civilization, and this serves to control the crime rate.  Criminals are sent to slaughterhouses and are chopped apart to feed the living.  Blood is an energy drink. Non-human food is illegal.  Society has progressed as The Authority emits radio waves that supposedly curb criminal desires.  When a criminal is caught, radio waves cause them to chop themselves up.  We see a lot of this self-mutilation in this movie.  The law is enforced by the Bikers.  They have bikes that can go 260 mph, and the latest weapons. They are good at catching criminals.  Razor (Monica Munoz) is a buxom, leather clad Biker who can shoot razor-like lasers that slice up the criminal.  Her and her two cohorts, Wank (Wilmar Zimosa) and Shock (Santiago Ortaez) have an easy time of it.....until....
Unlike most criminals, Trevor (De Santi) has reacted strangely to the radio waves.  They have caused him to mutate.  His scream can cause people's inside to explode out of their bodies.  We see this a lot. Now The Authority sends Razor and her two cohorts to find Trevor, and eliminate him.  This won't be easy as Trevor turns everyone near him into mutant killers, and sets them on to the Bikers. The results will be gory.  These mutants, created by Trevor, also spew acid from their mouths and can takeover someone's mind.  Will the Bikers be strong enough to cut through the mutants and then cut up Trevor?  Is Trevor a criminal or a freedom fighter?  There will be an ultimate and decisive battle at the end of this film....or perhaps not entirely decisive, I should say.
Wherever the gore meter is in American cinema, "Taeter City" has upped it by five levels.  Even with the attention to hundreds of scenes of maximum gore, Mr. De Santi still manages to tell a horror/sci-fi story.  Elements of  "1984" are added to this plot, along with severed fingers, sliced eyeballs, exploding innards, crushed heads, etc.  You have been warned.  If this sounds like something that won't send your stomach in circles, see "Taeter City."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Muck, Naked and Wet Scream Queens in Peril

There is horror in Cape Cod, even if you are not dating a member of the Kennedy family.  A better title for 2015's "Muck" would be "Mutant Albino Cultic Rapists Terrorize Naked Sweaty Babes."  Perhaps that would be a touch too contrived.  Ignore the horrible reviews this film has received on IMDB and rest assured, "Muck" delivers in a big way.  Written and directed by Steve Wolsh, slasher film fans should appreciate his effort.  No other film has assembled the cast of scream queens that Mr. Wolsh has put together.  These actresses include Playboy Playmate of 2012 Jaclyn Swedberg.  Also delivering a tour-de-force performance is Lauren Francesca, who almost dies a dozen times and has an alluring and gratuitous lawn sprinkler scene.  In mixed company, you may not feel comfortable about praising this film, though, this is the film you really want to see.
Five really hot peeps emerge from a Cape Cod swamp.  Two of their friends are already dead.  Horrified, a wounded Billy (Grant Alan Ouzts), hunk Noah (Bryce Draper), his GF Kylie (Stephanie Danielson), the mostly naked and very sweaty Mia (Francesca), and ditzy Desiree (Laura Jacobs) hobble to an isolated house.  With an ominous force in pursuit, this quintet is terrified.  Desiree decides to take a shower, and she does it well....just before she is axed to death by an albino lunatic.  The very beautiful Kylie decides to explore the basement.....enough said.  Her BF, Noah, has started to sprint for help. You get the picture.  Though Kylie is initially fully clothed, Mr. Wolsh crafts a death scene for her which has several exclamation points attached, in which her clothes are ripped off.  Meanwhile, at a bar in town, 'Troit (Lachlan Buchanan) is trying to get into the pants of Chandi (Puja Mohindra) and Terra (Swedberg).  You have got to like this guy, and by the time the film is over, he emerges as one of the best horror movie heroes of all time. 
With his GF in much peril, Noah reaches a bar where he calls 'Troit to come help.  At this point, Noah meets some very buxom distractions, and takes a break from the horror with a few shots of Tequila.  Now with 'Troit and his dates coming to the rescue, Noah starts back.  In a classic scene, Noah is distracted again by a babe, stripping to her underwear in a window he passes.  No matter, eventually they all make it back to the house, but will anyone still be alive?  'Troit and his two babes come under immediate attack by the aforementioned cultic rapists.  We'll have a gratuitous implant jiggling scene to endure, here.  Now the fiends are engaged in an all out war against our antagonists, and the victims start fighting back with mixed results.  The last third of the film will be an outright war, with lots of scream-queen action....mostly gratuitous...Yes!

One only has to view "Muck" to know that Mr. Wolsh is a movie-maker who loves horror films.  He has made a film for B horror film fans, not for the Siskels and Eberts of the world.  Also, near the beginning of the film, Billy (Ouzts) has an oration regarding the prospects of survival that you will not want to miss!  Oh yes....I didn't even mention Kane Hodder as an ax killer.  Reasonably priced on Amazon, get yourself a copy of "Muck."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Severed Arm, Where is the Rest of Me?

We've all done it.  Sat around with a few friends....downed a few beers...and our conversation turns to experimentation in our youth.  Everyone has similar stories of the first time they dabbled in cannibalism.  Perhaps it was an act of youthful experimentation.  Or, maybe it was an act of survival after a plane crash in the mountains.  Maybe some of us got stuck in an elevator with help over an hour away.  These stories bring us together and allow us to reveal so much of ourselves through metaphor.  As we realize that our once hidden stories, are ones that are shared by the masses, we gain a sense of acceptance.  Today we examine 1973's "The Severed Arm," an uplifting tale that will inspire.  Most of us will empathize with the plight of the group of friends in this tale.
Six buddies hit the wilderness to explore an abandoned mine...never a good idea.  Of course, once hundreds of feet underground, a cave-in traps them.  After a few days, Jeff (David G. Cannon), a TV writer and survivalist wannabe, comes up with a plan of pure genius.  Instead of resorting to cannibalism "Dawn of the Dead" style, merely randomly choose one of the group members, and eat him piece by piece.  Thus if a rescue occurs, the selected member would survive, depending on how much of himself he has left.  Ted (Ray Dannis) draws the short straw, and instantly changes his mind.  His hungry friends are keen on honoring agreements.  As they restrain Ted, Jeff and his buddies cut his arm off.  Seconds after the makeshift surgery, rescuers arrive.  Ted, sans arm, is now a total lunatic, and Jeff implores his friends to claim that Ted's arm was crushed during the cave-in, and they had to amputate it.  With Ted on his way to an insane asylum....what could co wrong?
Five years later, Jeff receives an amputated arm in the mail.  Most likely an omen of ominous times ahead.  Investigation reveals that Ted has recently been released from the asylum.  The group reconvenes for the first time in five years and theorize an irate Ted will track them all down for revenge.  They're right.  After the meeting, an ax-man sneaks into Ray's (John Crawford) house, the doctor who did the cutting five years ago, and hacks him up.  Now Ray is a drooling schmuck sans one arm.  Knowing they cannot go to the cops and confess their actions of five years ago, the group strategizes on their next step.  Unfortunately for them, a psycho, ax-man already has a plan.  As Jeff gets a cryptic message from the killer that he is next, him and Mark (Paul Carr), a police detective who is a member of the cursed group, intensify their search for Ted.  Jeff and Mark enlist the assistance of Ted's daughter (Deborah Walley), but can she be trusted?  This search will reveal surprising and horrific facts about what exactly is going on.  They better hurry, as other group members are meeting bloody fates.
This hard to find film, which hit the theaters the same time "The Exorcist" debuted, will leave you a bit queasy.  Though the group members do not represent a clan that we are likely to sympathize with, their bloody fates are not ones we would wish on anyone.  Plot twists contribute to a very clever ending. If you can find "The Severed Arm," you are in for a horror story which is just a bit different. 

 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Scream Queen Annihilation

So many of the slasher genre's finest scream queens grace the screen in 1988's "Sorority Babes In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama." However beautiful and buxom they are, most of these fine ladies will be ripped to shreds or pummeled unmercifully during this 90 minute film.  Before these lovelies are torn up, this film will feature many gratuitous scenes we expect from a movie with the word "Sorority" in the title.  Light on gore, big on nudity, let us delve into today's B movie.
Every co-ed in the Tri-Delta Sorority is a total babe.  Taffy (Brinke Stevens) and Lisa (Michelle Bauer) are two of them, who are being initiated this night.  Babs (Robin Stille) and her two cohorts, Rhonda (Kathi O'Brecht) and Frankie (Carla Baron) are administering the initiation {GRATUITOUS SPANKING SCENE}.  In the interest of serious literary effort, I will {GRATUITOUS WHIPPED CREAM SCENE} refrain from describing the initiation.  Three nerds sneak into the sorority house to spy {GRATUITOUS SHOWER SCENE} on the rite.  Calvin (Andras Jones) is a nerd who is dragged along by his two perverted buddies, Jimmy (Hal Havins) and Keith (John Stuart Wildman). As Taffy and Lisa pass the first stages of the initiation, Babs has something more risque planned. When the three peeping toms are caught spying, an authoritative Babs sends her two pledges, and the three perverts, to a mall after hours.  The final stage of the initiation will require Lisa and Taffy to steal a bowling trophy from the mall's bowling alley.
Then the plot gets complicated.  Stealing the trophy was easy but our quintet runs into Spider (Linnea Quigley), who just happens to be robbing the joint.  Shocked, the trophy is dropped, releasing a demonic imp who grants each one a wish.  Only Spider and Calvin are smart enough to refrain.  In a security booth, Babs and her two cohorts watch everything on surveillance cameras.  The imp changes Rhonda and Frankie into demons, who end up chasing the periled Babs.  Meanwhile, the college kids who made wishes are sent to unimaginable {GRATUITOUS LOVE SCENE} deaths when the results of their wishes turn nefarious.  Keith wishes for love from Lisa (pictured below), and the imp delivers in a very intense manner.  As Babs flees the demons, formerly her sorority sisters, Spider and Calvin figure out that they will have to turn the tables on the imp to survive the evening. As they flee the imp, the sorority sister-demons {GRATUITOUS CAT-FIGHT SCENE} are also on their tail.   
Will anyone survive this night of terror?  Is this film a metaphoric statement of the unequally yoked sorority system in a male dominated higher-education culture?  This is the most self-reflective film since "La Dolce Vita."  However, unlike the Fellini masterpiece, "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama" refrains from any gratuitous fountain scenes.  See this magnum opus of so many a scream queen, and instantly improve your I.Q. the intellectual plot line this film provides.  One tragic note, Robin Stille, who plays Babs, would commit suicide after battling alcohol, a few years after this film was released.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bad Karma, A Sultry Slasher

Her watery death in the second "Lethal Weapon" film was a sad moment for us all.  The beautiful Patsy Kensit captivated us in that movie, as she did Mel Gibson's character.  Today, Ms. Kensit's beauty still seduces.  In 2002's "Bad Karma" (aka "Hell's Gate"), this blonde Londoner portrays a slasher in the style of Jack the Ripper.  Shot in Ireland, set in Rhode Island (don't know why), we have a gory tale of a psycho who believes her treating psychiatrist is the aforementioned serial killer. Though the acting in this thriller is weak, Ms. Kensit's performance is haunting and alluring. Beautifully filmed in Galway, with tons of gore, "Bad Karma" is a film worthwhile purely because of Patsy Kensit.
Maureen (Kensit) believes she is the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper's accomplice.  Together, in 1888, the two of them lured young women to their doom.  Even more, Maureen also believes her doctor, Trey (Patrick Muldoon), is Jack reincarnated.  Her goal is to rekindle their 19th century demented love affair, in the 21st century.  As Trey goes off on a vacation to a scenic island with his gorgeous wife, Carly (Amy Locane) and daughter, Teresa (Aimee O'Sullivan), Maureen uses her demented wits to pull off a blood curdling escape.  In her escape, she will bite the tongue off of a doctor, cut the throat of a beautiful security guard, and rip the heart out of a nurse. She keeps the organs, for some unthinkable purpose.  Maureen is pure evil, and will seduce a skank, kill her, and attempt to switch identities with the poor lass.  Then Maureen heads to the island to reunite with her centuries old lover.
Now on the island, Maureen makes a move for Trey's family....as she sees them as speed bumps on the way to joining with Jack. After Trey is lured off the island, Maureen pays his family a visit, which will have bloody results, as Teresa's hot babysitter will find out.  As Trey rushes back to the island to protect his family, Maureen is already making mincemeat out of the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police, and whoever else gets in her way.  Now focused on dissecting Carly and Teresa, Maureen uses them as bait to lure her old love.  Uh oh!  Is Maureen really a psycho?  Is there any truth to her belief that she is the reincarnation of Jack's accomplice?  Has anyone ever been reincarnated who was a worthless schmuck in a previous life?
Whether it be in an orange prison uniform, a policewoman uniform, as a security guard, a bar skank, or a well meaning neighbor, whichever identity Ms. Kensit takes on has alluring results for the viewer. Perhaps because of this, and the annoying other characters, we the viewer almost side with this supposed psycho   Don't be fooled, "Bad Karma" is made by Ms. Kensit's performance and tons of gore.  Available on Netflix, treat yourself to a film featuring a truly beautiful actress.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Konga, Sir King Kong

As Tokyo began to flourish after being annihilated during World War 2, post war Europe began an economic malaise as The Marshall Plan seemed to sputter.  In desperate need of a jolt to their economy, Britain decided to emulate Tokyo's strategy.  Create a big monster to wipe out the city! Tokyo had Godzilla, and now...with 1961's "Konga," Britain too had a monster.  More ferocious than King Kong, Konga would ultimately squash Londoners as he headed for Big Ben (...instead of The Empire State Building).  Michael Gough, who we first met on this blog with my review of "Black Zoo" last June 23rd, is our mad scientist today, who will stop at nothing for the interest of science.
After being missing in Uganda for a year, mad scientist, Charles Decker (Gough), is rescued.  He returns to London with carnivorous plant samples and a cute chimpanzee.  His fawning assistant, Margaret (Margo Johns) is delighted to see him...but let's face it, she is 40.  After spending a year with a witch doctor, Decker believes that he has discovered the evolutionary link between plant and animal (which, of course, qualifies him for a trophy wife).  By injecting the fluids of these plants into his chimp, Konga, the animal grows.  Margaret is impressed, but she is 40, and the most brilliant scientist in the world needs a female specimen who who is nubile and explodes out of her blouses.  Decker begins to talk about his breakthroughs, but has instant critics, like the Dean of Essex College (Austin Trevor), where he lectures and drools over the buxom coed, Sandra (Claire Gordon).  No matter, Konga is now seven feet tall and obedient.  In a test of that obedience, Decker orders Konga to kill the dean, which he does. (See below picture)  
As Decker perfects his experiments, he develops more critics, and even a competitor.  No problem, Konga is dispatched to take care of these inconveniences.  When Margaret (who is past her prime) suggests that Decker refrain from homicide, Decker ups his fantasies about the youthful Sandra.  Now "Konga" devolves into a tale of inappropriate love, and a woman scorned.  As the cantankerous and middle-aged Decker lures the busty Sandra to his laboratory, the soon to be frumpy Margaret witnesses something unimaginable. Decker tells the precocious Sandra that she will be his love toy....I mean administrative assistant, and witness his greatness, as he puts the aging Margaret out to pasture. When the naive and perky Sandra balks at this offer, Decker does the only thing a brilliant scientist knows how to do,.....he tries to rape her.  Horrified, the almost decrepit Margaret injects Konga with more serum, instantly sending him to over 100 feet tall.  As the periled, blonde Sandra tries to stave off the now nymphomaniac scientist, and some hungry carnivorous fauna, the now colossal Konga bursts out of the laboratory to take a stroll through London.
Will London survive?  Will the pure and pert Sandra emerge with her virtue intact?  How about the ever-aging Margaret and her brilliant beau, the mad-scientist Decker?  Will counseling or therapy be able to save their relationship?  The special effects are cheesy (..in a fun sort of way), but Gough's portrayal of a mad-scientist is classic.  Available on Netflix, for some laughs and good creature scenes, see "Konga." 

 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Taking of Deborah Logan, The Horrors of Alzheimer's

The diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease is the start of a long, tortuous journey.  This journey is a curse for not only the one suffering from the disease, but for those family members and caregivers who must summon a mercy they never dreamed themselves capable.  As the adult sons and daughters care for their elderly parent, they must witness the slow disintegration of someone they loved dearly. In addition to grief, the caregiver must then battle extreme guilt, which they don't dare reveal to anyone.  Perhaps the caregiver begins to pray their parent die speedily.  Or perhaps, they wrestle with a guilt because they see themselves as the real victim, not the parent who is afflicted.  In 2014's "The Taking of Deborah Logan," Adam Robitel (Director and co-writer) gives us a horror tale of such horror and creepiness; it serves as a fitting metaphor for the above mentioned journey.
Mia (Michelle Ang) is creating a documentary about Alzheimer's.  She and her crew, Gavin (Brett Gentile) and Luis (Jeremy DeCarlos), have arranged to spend some time with Deborah Logan (Jill Larson) and her care-giving daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay).  Deborah is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and is a very attractive and proud senior.  She is doing her best to stave off the affliction, knowing it will never be cured.  Sarah has given up her career (....and life) to care for her mom, and one can easily see she is beginning to break.  Unfortunately, as the filming starts, Deborah goes downhill and advances to the middle stages of this disease.  With the middle stages comes some unexplained behavior.  Sarah is caught on tape doing things that are physically impossible, and turning violent, even to the extreme of self-mutilation.  Deborah's painting and ramblings suggest she believes a dark force is headed her way.....and she is right.
As Deborah gets more violent, the consequences get more gory.  We are let in on a most eerie and horrific back-story, which will come to the forefront soon.  As Deborah drifts farther away, her neighbor Harris (Ryan Cutrona) takes more of an interest.  Harris is vehement about sending Mia and her crew away, but Sarah needs the cash. Uh oh, even worse than her identity slipping away, Deborah seems to be taking on the persona of a ritualistic murderer of children.  Her doctors are baffled and priests and anthropology professors are consulted.  The story gets so horrific, I will stop my plot description here and let you know the last 30 minutes will be incredibly hard to watch (...especially if you have a fear of snakes).  People will be killed, and the very end is, shall we say...unsettling.
Some have called this the best possession film since "The Exorcist."  Perhaps.  We really pull for the characters, especially Sarah.  Many times we, the viewer, hope Deborah would just die.  This sentiment is never expressed by Sarah, who comes across as a saint.  Even Michelle Ang's portrayal of Mia has us caring for her plight as well.  At first, she is an opportunistic film-maker.  She transcends into a caring human being, genuinely caring for the Logans.  Perhaps the real-life horror of Alzheimer's is nowhere as scary as possession, snakes, demons, or murder....but those metaphors may be appropriate for the horror and suffering many battling the disease will endure.  Available on Netflix, this is a horror story, real and imagined.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jade, Hysterical Blindness to Sex and Murder

William Friedkin has appeared on this blog with my review of the vastly underrated "Sorcerer" last November 24. No one has examined the grittiness (..or evil) that lurks within us better than Mr. Friedkin.  Today, we examine his 1995 film "Jade."  What lurks deep in the psyche of a sultry socialite, caught in an unloving marriage?  Even better, the very alluring Linda Fiorentino plays that role, and it is a steamy performance.  Whether it be in a formal gown, business suit, lingerie, or nothing at all, Ms. Fiorentino plays very nicely to the camera.  Though this is a brutal murder mystery, we the viewer must solve another mystery.  Is our beautiful protagonist a socialite who has made one unfortunate mistake?  ....or is she a blackmailed babe manipulated into prostitution?  ...or, my favorite, is she a manipulative, homicidal nymphomaniac?
A murder!  A very rich guy is killed in his mansion with a ceremonial hatchet.  David (David Caruso) responds as the deceased is a powerbroker with ties to presidents. David is an assistant DA with aspirations of running for California's Attorney General.  Our deceased also has a collection of pubic hairs from his favorite hookers (though, high class ones).  Uh oh, David's former lover emerges as a suspect, as she may have been the last one to see the victim alone...and has no alibi.  Also in the schmuck's safe were photographs of the governor screwing a young prostitute, Angie Everhart.  David and his investigative team find Everhart and she fills them in on a high priced sex ring catering to the most powerful politicians in the state.  Unfortunately for Ms. Everhart, her cooperation with the DA's office submits her to a gory death, as she is turned into a hairy ball of strawberry ice cream.  When the cops raid the high class brothel, they find evidence that Trina (Fiorentino) is also employed there.
As David confronts the governor (Richard Crenna), he receives some not too veiled threats.  David realizes that the most powerful and ruthless peeps in Callie do not want this case solved.  Witnesses start meeting grisly fates, and David himself almost drowns, and now he must delve into Trina's life and past.  All the evidence is pointing toward Trina, as she practically admits her hysterical blindness to her violent side.  I won't ruin the end, but it is a complicated one.  Also,  there is a car chase in this film rivaling Steve McQueen's in "Bullitt."  As powerful forces close in on David, can he trust Trina, his old lover?  Yeah, right!  Is Trina a femme fatale, or a sultry victim of circumstances?  Is Mr. Friedkin's depiction of California elected officials as sex-maniacs, thugs, and bullying blackmailers representative of all our cynicism toward our politicians?
Loreena McKennitt's "The Mystic's Dream" serves as the musical score for this film, and I downloaded it on my MP3 just after the closing credits. The acting is terrific by all involved, Mr. Caruso, Ms. Fiorentino, Ms. Everhart, and also Michael Biehn and Chazz Palminteri.  After watching "Jade," and especially Linda Fiorentino, you may need to hit the showers.  Available on Netflix, and for those of you who miss the 1990s, see "Jade" tonight. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

House of the Witchdoctor, The Bizarre Desires of Sex-Craved Women

"Charged up sex-crazed women driven by bizarre desires...."  I just can't get those lyrics out of my head.  Hopefully on Sunday, when we're exhorted to sing Hymn 461, I won't spurt out this hypnotizing ballad.  In any event, when the end credits roll to this tune in 2013's " House of the Witchdoctor," in which the sex-craved do not fare well, you will be wondering who turned the tables on who.  Though, fans of the horror/slasher film will see the plot twist 45 minuted before it occurs, perhaps the very last twist, sneaked in before the aforementioned song, will prove most satisfying.  Heaped with great performances, especially by the villains (...or are they the villains?) Allan Kaysar and David Willis (pictured below), director Devon Mikolas presents to us a fine metaphor for northeastern upper crust society.
Okay, here goes.  Leslie (Callie Stephens) is bringing four friends home from college.  One year ago, her boyfriend was killed (sacrificed) and these four friends believe they are helping Leslie mourn.  These plots are never that simple.  Regina (Emily Bennett) and Tom (Danny Miller) are weed smoking nymphomaniacs (....you think they'll fare well?) and Patty (Summer Bills) and Thad (Jonathan Helvey) are religious prudes, and all are in for a most decisive week-end.  Fate has a twist for all involved.  Converging on this friends week-end are Buzz (Willis) and Cliff (Kayser), two murdering rapists who decide to try their hand at home invasion.  We also meet Leslie's weird folks (Bill Moseley and Leslie Easterbrook).  After murdering his mother and raping, torturing and killing a drug dealer's girl (Steffie Grote), Cliff gets high on ice.  He and Buzz head to an isolated semi-mansion.  As Regina and Tom engage in pre-marital sex and Thad and Patty pray, the invasion begins.
Buzz and Cliff knock out the guys and rape Regina (pictured above) and Patty.  Leslie eludes the thugs.  Her parents have left for the evening, and Leslie tries to call 911 (that never works in these films).  As the four friends are beaten and humiliated, Leslie decides to act.  What results is a mini-war inside this suburban palace.  Uh oh.....something in the basement is gonna come into play.  As with most idyllic estates in upper crust communities, evil forces are dwelling just below the surface, suggesting that Buzz and Cliff chose the wrong home to invade.  Now the seemingly invincible evil duo must battle a seemingly invincible force that is not too tolerant of invaders.  Plenty of gore and carnage will ensue, and most of the cast will be reduced to bloody heaps. 
Will Leslie and her four friends survive the forces at play in the house?  Exactly what dwells in the basement?  Is the supposed paradise of upper-crust suburbia merely Hell with lipstick painted on it?  All these questions deserve answers, which you will find in "House of the Witchdoctor."  Brutal and at times stomach turning, the hardcore horror fan will not be disappointed by this work.
 



Saturday, April 11, 2015

Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity, Bikini Babes With Big Guns

Beautiful babes in bikinis.  Beautiful babes in lingerie.  Beautiful babes in evening gowns. Beautiful babes in chains.  Beautiful babes armed with really big guns and fast spaceships.  From our old friend, Charles Band, today we look at 1987's "Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity."  Born in Hungary, Elizabeth Kaitan started acting in Shakespeare dramas before sliding over to low-budget exploitation (...fate did smile on us B movie fans).  Ms. Kaitan stars in this masterpiece along with Cindy Beal and Brinke Stevens.  Together, these three fight maniacal villains, zombies, mutants, and killer androids.  Always in revealing attire, no frame goes by without at least one of these beauties gracing the screen.
As our tale begins, Daria (Kaitan) and Tisa (Beal) are chained in a dungeon aboard a mother-ship in deep space.  Clad only in bikinis, they escape and commandeer a shuttle and crash land on a seemingly benign planet.  Our two very capable damsels make their way to a jungle compound, occupied by the very handsome Zed (Don Scribner) and his two rude androids.  At first, Zed seems like a savior, even providing some slinky evening ware to our shapely protagonists.  However, Daria and Tisa become alarmed when they meet two other guests, also from a crash landing, the hunk Rik (Carl Horner) and his sister Shala (Stevens).  Shala and Carl advise our buxom heroines that most of the other guests disappeared when Zed took them hunting.  Both Shala and Tisa are on the ball, and realize they must escape.  Uh oh, Zed does indeed have plans for his captive women.  Shala is the first victim, and she is put in chains, stripped, and put to use as Zed's sex toy.
Now Tisa and Daria start plotting, but not before some passionate pre-marital sex with Rik.  One can cut Rik some slack, as he probably needed cheering up after his sister is reduced to a sex tool by Zed.  Zed is two steps ahead of his prisoners and foils their escape attempts.  The fair man that he is, Zed gives all three babes their bikinis back and a 60 minute head start toward escape.  The innovative Tisa has a map to a weapons cache, and if they can make it to the guns before 60 minutes is up, our vixens just might have a chance.  Unbeknownst to them, they will not only have to evade Zed, but also some zombies, mutants, and some armed aliens.  The damsels will endure great peril, clad in the skimpiest of swimwear, and not all of them will make it.
All three scream queens do a magnificent job.  Director Ken Dixon knows what his fans want, and that is to see a lot of the three actresses in the least amount of dress.  Will Tisa and Daria find satisfaction in bigger guns?  Is the plight of our three scream queens in this film a mere metaphor for the increasing divide among the classes during the industrial revolution in western Europe?  Very reasonably priced on Amazon.com, watch "Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity," and give yourself a well deserved reward for putting up with that chick-flick your wife (...or wimpy husband) made you watch.
 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

High Lane, France Invades the Balkans

I spent some time in Serbia last year, and loved it.  I was struck how much Belgrade reminded me of Budapest.  Sipping a Heineken while watching the Danube flow by betrayed memories of more turbulent times in the 1990s.  I was, more than once, reminded by my gracious hosts of the areas which American planes bombed, and embarrassed that I had no idea why we were bombing them (...a common thought, with me).  I was also reminded that the vampire legend was invented in Serbia.  In the horror world, we know the Balkans as a place where western college kids get tortured and killed in hostels.  Today we find out that this beautiful land also houses deranged, Croatian cannibals. So get ready, as we delve into 2009's "High Lane" (aka "Vertige"), from France.
Five friends, all great looking, venture into Croatia for some climbing and hiking.  Chloe (Fanny Valette) is disconcerted when her ex-beau, Guillaume (Raphael Lenglet) shows up. Very awkward, as Chloe's current beau, Luke (Johan Libereau) is present.  Fred (Nicolas Giraud) leads the expedition, and is flanked by his babe, Karine (Maud Wyler).  Despite finding their planned route closed, Fred leads them past the barriers, up some steep rock walls, and onto the sides of some scary mountains.  The views are gorgeous, but the carnage is about to begin.  We soon find out why the route was barricaded, as our quintet finds out the handles driven into the mountain are not secure.  After some very narrow and thrilling brushes with death, our group ends up trapped on the opposite side of a ravine, as the foot bridge they crossed is now no more.
On the other side, our French friends are hunted by an unseen psycho. First Fred has a very gory meeting with a bear trap.  As his babe, Karine, and the others begin to search for him, they too succumb to some bloody traps.  In one extremely blood curdling scene, Karine must rescue Chloe from a most painful impalement.  Now battered and bloodied, our group decides to retreat.  Not so fast, a crazed cannibal smells blood, and stalks the French buffet line he sees hiking by.  What follows is plenty of gore and attitude.  My favorite aspect of the film is watching Chloe (pictured above) turn from haunted (oh yes...there is an ominous back-story) French babe into a fierce killing machine, bent on survival.  As a nurse, Chloe's whole existence was to save lives, now she must kill or be killed.  As the group is lured into the cannibal's lair, the results will be horrific.  Here they meet their nemesis, Anton (Justin Blanckaert)! (see picture below).
Just who is Anton?  Will any of the French hikers survive?  Is the cannibalism portrayed in this film a metaphor for how we conduct intimate relationships here in the west?  This is a bloody film, be warned.  All the performances are first rate, and all the actors and actresses are very appealing.  Like the American bombers attempting to level Serbia, enjoy this French effort to stigmatize the Croatian culture.  Available on Netflix.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Animal, The Chiller Network Shines

Made for The Chiller Network, 2014's "Animal" is a terrific horror film, with a real neat monster. This is also the most shocking horror film shot in Connecticut since "The Horror of Party Beach" (see this reviewed on my blog, from Jan. 30, 2014).  Not a slasher, or a supernatural force, today's antagonist is a good old fashioned long-fanged creature.  In what I saw as a cross between "Night of the Living Dead" and "Prophecy," "Animal" (directed masterfully by Brett Simmons) is one of those films that you can never guess who the next victim will be.  Be careful in attaching yourself to any one character, it just may be their death knoll.  This film is also graced by some fine performances, great writing, and scary creature effects.
Five really good looking young adults (two babes, two hunks, and their "fifth wheel" gay friend) go hiking in the Connecticut woods.  Bad idea!  We initially grab onto Alissa (KeKe Palmer) and her beau, Matt (Jeremy Sumpter) as our most noble protagonists.  Respectful of nature, contemplative, more on their mind than just pre-marital sex, and really good-looking these two protagonists will have their relationship come to a screeching halt when Matt becomes an hors d' oeuvre for an incredibly bad-tempered monster.  Before that, our other couple, Mandy (Elizabeth Gillies) and Jeff (Parker Young) will have their relationship ended when the forest creature eats Jeff.  Now on the run, our quintet, minus one, flee to a remote and rickety old house deep in the woods.  Let us stop here for an aside.  One must give the writers, Thommy Hutson and Catherine Trillo much credit.  At no point in this film does any babe trip on a tree route, spraining her ankle...and at no point does our group lose cell phone reception.  Refreshing!
 At the house, which has been boarded up with broken down furniture, our group meets the remnants of an earlier hiking party.  Carl (Thorsten Kaye) and his wife Vicky (Joey Lauren Adams) and their soon to be psycho friend, Douglas (Amaury Nolasco) let them in.  Instantly, the creature pursues and nearly pulls Mandy's (Elizabeth Gillies) leg off.  Now our really ticked off antagonist has smelled blood, and he is hungrier.  It tries to get into the house, and eventually does, chasing our survivors all around.  Now Douglas comes up with a brilliant idea, use the wounded among them as bait, luring the creature into a human buffet, and then the healthy ones, run!  Now our more reasonable survivors must not only survive the monster, but also Douglas.
Don't get me wrong, in a horror story, we need lots of monster and lots of gore, but back-stories on the characters can be enhancing.  As our survivors attempt to remain survivors, a soap opera develops as Sean (Paul Iacono), Taylor Swift's biggest fan, reveals to one of the babes that her boyfriend is also his boyfriend.  Team unity is then tested.  Daring plans are formulated, and great self-sacrifice is made, but will it be enough to survive the very hungry creature, and the ill-tempered and amateur-survivalist, Douglas?  Available also on Netflix, enjoy a terrific monster story.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Crawlspace, Underground Horror from the Land Down Under

From Australia comes this very gory horror film, 2012's "Crawlspace."  After seeing this film, you'll never look at an electric rotating cranial saw the same way again.  For my female readers, enjoy Ditch Davey as an Aussie commando.  He will remind you of Jason Statham, with a slightly different accent.  We have mad-scientists, top secret government experiments, the Aussie version of Area 51, some mutant monsters, and dangerous women...perfect ingredients for this blog.  However ambitious the story line is, director Justin Dix never moves the plot far from a bloody horror story.
 An Aussie commando team is sent to a remote research facility to rescue scientists and destroy their creations.  Perfect.  They arrive at the subsurface lab to find torn up bodies everywhere.  The team also finds prisoners, which they execute.  Uh oh, Romeo (Davey), the commando chief finds a prisoner named Eve (Amber Clayton).  To Romeo's surprise, Eve is a spitting image of his dead fiance. When Eve begins to recall their trysts in France, Romeo is convinced she is the fiance.  But how?  As the team delves deeper into the facility, they are attacked by mutant monsters which are impervious to bullets.  The two other units, on different levels, are wiped out, and now only Romeo's men are left to complete the mission.
Weirdness is the order of the day as some of the commandos begin hallucinating, in a most fatal manner.  Romeo and the remnants of his team find the scientists, and the scientists implore him to kill Eve.  Romeo refuses, but it is apparent that Eve represents bloody danger to them.  With the mission just about complete, Romeo tries to lead the scientists and Eve to the surface.  Not so fast.  As the carnage continues, Eve seems to have two personalities.  The good Eve, and the alien monster Eve.  I know...don't even go there...what woman doesn't (this joke is not endorsed by Zisi)?.  Romeo forces the head mad-scientist (Nicholas Bell) to fill him in.  Eve is a product of a brain graph between two telepathic beings...a woman and a......well, you'll see.  This lab is experimenting in telepathic warfare, and the experiments got out of hand and rebelled against their creators.  Still, how does this explain Eve?  Now faced with potential destruction from the evil scientists, mutant monsters, and a resurrected split-personality fiance, Romeo has his work cut out for him.
Is Eve really Romeo's dead fiance?  Exactly who, or what, was grafted with Eve's brain?  Do her emerging telepathic powers make her too dangerous to survive?  At times this film seems like a graft between "Scanners" (mind control, and exploding skulls), and "Alien" (monsters pursuing through ominous passageways).  With plenty of gore, explosions, gunfire, and out of control experiments, "Crawlspace" is a perfect film for a Friday night.  Available on Netflix, enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Lonely Place to Die, Climb Into Terror

Melissa George is one of my favorite actresses.  In addition to being incredibly gifted, the Australian born beauty has starred in some of my favorite films over the past ten years.  "Triangle" and "30 Days of Night" are two movies I can watch repeatedly.  2011's "A Lonely Place to Die" is a gritty, brutal, beautiful, and gut-wrenching thriller that will leave you exhausted.  Be warned, this is not the feel good film of the decade, and it's subject matter is contrast to the beautiful camera work.
Five climbers converge on the Scottish highlands for an ambitious hike and climb.  Alison (George), her beau Rob (Alec Newman) and their chum Ed (Ed Speleers) join Alex (Garry Sweeney) and Jenny (Kate Magowan) gather at a cottage the night before their trek. The night before the adventure, some bonding time seems to be met with tenseness.  Perhaps this has to do with a near calamity on their last climb, or a sense of the danger that awaits them.  As the five friends get into their excursion, a haunting voice is heard in the distance.  The quintet find a Serbian girl buried in a crate (equipped with a breathing hole).  The girl, Anna (Holly Boyd) speaks no English and has been buried for several days.  Realizing that kidnappers may be at hand, the climbers decide to make a break for the nearest town.  Unfortunately, the kidnappers are ruthless psychos and holding the girl for a 6 million Euro ransom.  As the psychos discover their prize has been sprung, they begin murdering everyone they come across, and with a long range rifle, pick off the beautiful and alluring, Jenny.
As Jenny swims with the fishes, our gang is scattered as they dodge rifle rounds.  Alison and Rob, meanwhile, were headed toward town, but when repelling down a ravine, Ed's line was cut.  With Ed laying dead on a river bed (see above picture), Alison narrowly escapes and makes it back to the survivors.  Uh oh...heading into the fight are mercenaries, hired by the girl's father.  These heavily equipped guys are out to recover the girl and kill the kidnappers.  Alison and Ed...don't even ask about Alex...become quite the heroes in protecting Anna.  The wilderness provides danger and cover for our protagonists, but more horror will await them as they converge on civilization.
Some very likable characters will die horrible deaths in "A Lonely Place to Die."  Will Melissa George fare better than she did in "Triangle" and "30 Days of Night"?  Will our sharpshooting psychos get what's coming to them, as Alison uses her expertise of climbing and repelling?  There is lots of murder and mayhem, not limited to our five friends, in this film. Our antagonists are brutal and unmerciful.  Available on Netflix, watch Melissa George in this dark nature thriller. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Woman Eater, Hula Dancer in Great Peril

A very buxom, blonde, hula dancer!  A mad scientist inventing a serum to bring the dead back to life.  A monstrous man (...woman, actually) eating plant!  You gotta admit, this sounds a lot better than the newest Liam Neeson film.  1958's "The Woman Eater," from England, is our blog entry today.  Vera Day, as an out of work Hula dancer graces the silver screen in this one.  A mediocre dancer but great screamer and sweater model, Ms. Day plays the not-so-pure, but very vulnerable Sally and steals the show. 
As the film begins, Dr. Moran (George Coulouris) leads a deadly expedition into the Amazon.  He comes upon a native tribe, in the midst of sacrificing an Amazon babe (Marpessa Dawn).  The girl is fed to a "Black JuJu," which is their god, and a carniverous plant.  Dr. Moran brings the plant back to his mansion in the English countryside in order to fine tune a serum.  The natives explained to our mad scientist that a serum can be produced from the plant if it is given a diet of buxom, young women.  Now in England, Moran lures shapely, but naive, beauties to his laboratory and feeds them to the JuJu.  Susan (Sara Leighton) is the first girl he abducts.  Unfortunately, pretty women are missed by the pub crowd, and the police start investigating.  Moran's experiments are falling just short of bringing corpese back to this side of the sod, but luckily for science, an out of work Hula Dancer, Sally, shows up at his estate asking for work.
As the cops get closer to uncovering the disappearances of some English babes, Moran realizes he musrt act fast.  The JuJu has great taste in women, and apparently these vixens taste great.  Like most impressionable young Hula dancers, Sally is impulsive and falls in love with a grease monkey (mechanic).  The two plan to wed.  Tough luck for Sally, Moran cannot let her leave....he needs to feed the JuJu.  As Moran forces Sally into the secret basement lab, the JuJu begins to drool.  You would too if you saw Sally.  Will the cops be able to put enough clues together to figure out Moran is the fiend who abducts shapely English babes?
Would Sally be a bigger asset to mankind if she succumbs to the interest of science, or if she weds the mechanic (...really...how long would that marriage last, anyway)?  Is bringing the dead back to life really something we want to do?  Ca,py and visually pleasing, "The Woman Eater" utilizes the scream queen concept to the max.  Vera Day will make you forget Don Ho (...I guess we already forgot about him)!