Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Playgirls and the Vampire, Raw Naked Terror

"Raw Naked Terror" is the perfect tagline for 1960's "The Playgirls and the Vampire" (especially the Naked part).  From Italy, director Piero Regnoli cast five very shapely actresses to play damsels in uber distress.  Much of the film has these vixens clad in see through negligees, or just plain nude. However much danger our lovelies find themselves in, they always find time to rehearse seductive dance numbers or meticulously put on, or take off 1960s type European undergarments.  In addition to all of the aforementioned frolic, we have a neat Gothic vampire tale set in a cool old castle, with a few well placed twists at the end.
A bus carrying five sexy showgirls, their manager (Alfredo Rizzo), and bus drive (Leonardo Batta) is stranded outside an old castle after a flood.  After hesitating, Count Gabor (Walter Brandi) invites the crew to stay at the castle.  Gabor initially attempts to send them away, but after casting his eyes upon the voluptuous Vera (Lyla Rocco) he changes his mind.  However, a warning ensues..."don't leave your rooms at night."  Before turning in, our girls don some see through attire and rub their legs a lot, and then Katia (Maria Giovannini) decides to explore.  Being beautiful means not having to obey the rules, but it also means drawing the prurient inteersts of centuries old vampires.  Hence the fate of Katia, first killed.  We soon find out that Katia's death, though temporary, was a case of mistaken identity, as Vera was the intended target of the fangs. Later in the plot, Katia will return as an undead, naked, and jealous bloodsucker.
Gabor warns Vera of a centuries old curse on his family and ancestors and implores her to depart. Vera feels a strange sense of belonging to the castle, and a love for Gabor.  Of course Vera just happens to be a spitting image of one of Gabor's ancestors who died centuries ago.  Reincarnated? Now Vera is stalked by the undead bloodsucker.  With Katia now a bride of the vampire, her desire to share her fang-man with Vera is non-existent.  Now Katia is also on the prowl to protect her turf. Clad in a very see through little thing, and a leather coat (which falls off quickly), Vera is running through the castle screaming a lot in much peril.  Will Gabor protect her....or does he seek her jugular vein?
However playful this flick is, it is also stylish and suspenseful.  The eroticism missing from American horror in this era, is piled high in Italian horror.  The hard to find DVD is now available on Amazon. Though some of the vampire effects may be slightly cheesy, the seductiveness of the damsels is first-class.  

Friday, May 29, 2015

Zombeavers, Bikini Babes Versus Nature

When three bikini clad babes meet a hunter, they tell him, "We're looking for beavers." The hunter replies, "Who isn't?"  Today we look at 2014's "Zombeavers." A film that demanded to be made, and now that it has....the universe is right again.  Billed by some as a comedy, in reality this movie is a horror story which has us laughing, at times, because of the wit of the three actresses who star in it, Rachel Melvin, Lexi Atkins, and Cortney Palm.  Clad in revealing bikinis, these actresses portray sorority sisters who meet up with nightmarish forces of nature.  Gore, nudity, creatures, and lots of pre-marital sex await our three damsels.
Mary (Melvin), Jenn (Atkins), and Zoe (Palm) plan an all-girls getaway at a remote cabin by the lake. Unfortunately, a barrel of toxic waste has rolled into the water, contaminating a beaver lair.  The beavers mutate into toothy zombeavers.  As the gals immediately don bikinis, they head to the lake for swimming.  Of course, Zoe sheds her top as they explore a beaver dam.  Oh yes, Jenn is still upset that she caught her BF Sam (Hutch Dano) cheating.  Wouldn't you know it, Sam and his two hunk friends, Tommy (Jake Weary) and Buck (Peter Gilroy) crash the private getaway.  This leads to lots of sexual intercourse and pot smoking.  Then the beavers attack.  They are toothy and hungry.  The vermin will do away with all the neighbors and will first attack our sextet in the lake.  Trapped on a raft, the boys throw the dog overboard to be eaten by the fiends as they make it to apparent safety back at the cabin.
Now trapped in the cabin, the zombeavers surround the place.  The bickering sextet must put their differences aside in order to survive.  With the help of a witty hunter, Smyth (Rex Linn), they engage in an all out war with the toxic-waste infested things. The monsters get in and attack. Once bitten, the attractive young people, one by one, turn into half-beaver/half-human psychos.  In one unfortunate and painful scene, one of the girls bites her BF's tally-whacker off after becoming infected.  The mutated beavers appear unstoppable, as even after being killed, they keep coming.
Skinny-dipping, pot smoking, and pre-marital sex are sure to doom any character in these types of movies, but will any of our lovelies survive?  Are the zombeavers a mere metaphor for middle America's non tolerance for free-love and skinny-dipping?  The acting is superb, and our trio of actresses, not only look good, but engage in some great dialogue (..which may have been ad libbed). The last half of the film is wild, and pushes the envelope with gore and human-beaver imagery.  Available on Netflix, see Zombeavers instead of wasting ten bucks for the disaster that is "Tomorrowland."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Virgin Among the Living Dead, Life, Death, and Gang Rape in Europe

A virgin?  Christina von Blanc in 1973's "A Virgin Among the Living Dead," is the title character.  She doesn't look, or behave like a virgin.  Nude, every chance she gets, Christina (also her character's name) seems very comfortable when her clothes have been shed.  Whether it be skinny dipping, sleeping, or being gang-raped by her relatives, our character today could have only been created by one man....Jesus Franco.  The great Spanish movie-maker, specializing in erotic horror, delivers a weird one, which we will look at today.  Perhaps a virgin during the opening credits, Christina will not be one by the time the closing credits roll. is used figuratively.
Christina heads to her family's castle for the reading of her dad's will (...never a good idea).  The nubile young babe stops off at an inn where she is told by everyone, " one lives there."  This is a clue, ignored by our  When a ghoulish servant (Jesus Franco) comes to collect her, she meets him wearing see through panties.  Once at the castle, she meets her weird relatives, including her evil looking Uncle Howard (Howard Vernon) and nymphomaniac lesbian cousin, Carmence (Britt Nichols).  Her relatives are weird but she is open minded about them, even though each one wants to rape her, especially Clemence.  As she waits for the reading of the will, Christina takes a lot of naps in the nude and has weird visions/dreams.  In one instance, she goes out for a walk, happens upon a pond, and of course takes the opportunity for some skinny-dipping.  Luckily for half the town, they just happen to be hanging out at the pond while this is occurring.  Even the townspeople advise her no one lives at the castle.
Then Christina's visit gets really weird.  She begins hearing voices of her dead mother, warning her to leave.  A mysterious woman in black also beckons her...but to what?  In the 92 minute version (not the 78 minute one) undead ghouls crawl out of the ground and chase her.  Finally, her dead father (Paul Muller) appears to her, sporting a noose (see picture above), also warning her to leave.  Back at the castle, Clemence keeps popping up in Christina's bedroom, nude, admiring Christina's nudity.  One might assume Christina would start putting together some of these clues.  Ignoring all the warnings and clues, what fate is in store for our nude virgin?  Is Christina's sense of reality giving way to a dream like state with a blurred line between the living and the dead?
 However creepy the 78 minute version is, the 92 minute version ramps the creepiness up two levels. SPOLIER ALERT:  The gang rape scene in which all her relatives participate is brutal enough in the shorter version, but in the longer one, it borders on Rated X territory.  The additional 14 minutes is included in the "deleted scenes" section of the DVD. Weird and dreamlike, no doubt, but as with any Jesus Franco film, erotic undertones explode to the surface usually through the stunning, and mostly nude Christina von Blanc.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mankillers, Hot Mercenaries With Big Guns and Little Clothing

Arsonists, bomb makers, murderers, prostitutes, assassins, and a renegade CIA agent are the protagonists in our film today..."Mankillers."  This exploitation film, from 1987, features beautiful babes, with lots of hair spray, firing lots of guns, and displaying attitude.  Over a dozen buxom actresses are cast in this film as a mercenary team sent into a Colombian jungle wearing clothes that are practically falling off of them as they run through jungle.  Written and directed by David A. Prior ("Aerobicide"), "Mankillers" guarantees a buxom babe, jiggling a lot, in every shot.
Mickland (William Zipp) is a CIA agent who has left the flock.  He is a drug runner in Colombia now, stealing stash from the cartels.  He pays for his drugs by kidnapping beautiful young ladies and trading them for cocaine.  He ends up killing most of these ladies, as he displays many misogynist tendencies.  The cad is smart....any CIA attempt to infiltrate his gang is found out, resulting in the death of perfectly good agents.  The CIA gets smart...McKenna (Lynda Aldon, pictured above) is brought back in.  She is given the assignment to find and kill Micklund.  The babe used to be Micklund's partner and lover, and Micklund betrayed her and left her for dead.  Yearning for revenge, McKenna assembles a vicious team of criminals, all taken from a female maximum security prison,  After a short training camp, where our team jumps up and down a lot with no bras, they head to Colombia, where they continue jumping over stuff and jiggling.  Uh oh....Micklund is waiting for them.
At first, the babes seem to have won an initial battle.  However, when Micklund arrives with reinforcements, many of the girls are captured and some are killed.  The demented gang chases one vixen down, then molest her, humiliate her, and make her beg to be "f@#$ed."  She is then shot between the eyes.  As our beauties begin to fall one by one, McKenna is captured and tied up for torture (see photo below).  Rosetti (Christine Lunde), now emerges as the inexperienced leader of the ever shrinking mercenary team.  With no leadership experience, she mounts an offensive with her few remaining cohorts in order to rescue McKenna  and the other girls, now in bondage.  More casualties will occur, but will Rosetti be able to save her leader?  
Scantily clad babes in lots of peril....the ingredients of a classic exploitation film.  This film is 100% gratuitous, as is the demise of several of the aforementioned babes. In the 1970s these films appeared at drive-ins.  In the 1980s, these jewels popped up on late night slots on the cable movie stations.  Now, this medium still exists on the straight-to-DVD circuit.  The sophisticated elites will never be able to push these films into extinction as long as people like us still seek out exploitation instead of romantic comedies.  The full movie of "Mankillers" can be seen on YouTube.  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Bloody Judge, Christopher Lee and Women in Bondage

Ah, the year 1685! William of Orange is on the verge of seizing the throne in England, but not before many of his collaborators and some buxom witches are sentenced to death. Today's movie from 1970, "The Bloody Judge" tells the story of these days in a way only Jesus Franco can.  I originally avoided this film because of it's PG rating.  However, this PG must have applied to the version that was released in America in 1972. This film on Netflix contains much gore and nudity and Maria Rohm.  Fans of this blog who view this film will remember a scene 80 minutes into it in which a nude Maria Rohm licks the entire body, in a most sensual manner, of a nude and bloodied beauty hung in bondage in a torture chamber.  Yep...English history as told by the master of erotic horror, Jesus Franco.
Unfortunately for Alicia (Margaret Lee), she did not get the memo that pre-marital sex is not a good idea in Christopher Lee films.  Thus she is arrested and burned after sentenced by Judge Jeffries (Lee).  Her sister Mary (Rohm) is so distraught she engages in re-marital sex in a haystack with a known fan of William of Orange (..old Bill had quite a following).  Unfortunately for Mary, her BF, Harry, is seen as a threat by Jeffries, and he seeks to execute him and have sex with her.  The bloody judge has a torture chamber filled with naked English babes in bondage and some torturers who get off on inflicting pain.  Of course, Mr. Franco puts many of these scenes in the film.  As William of Orange's armies near, Jeffries gets more evil and sex-craved.  He now orders the death of all traitors and beautiful women.
As Harry and Mary attempt to evade Jeffries men, they consult a real witch (Maria Schell).  I guess her powers were muted by the damp English weather as they are captured, anyway.  Jeffries now is determined to execute all of the prisoners without trials, and to torture all their women to death.  As Mary is stripped of all her clothes in the torture chamber, she engages in the aforementioned licking scene.  She is then bathed in a very gratuitous scene by another English babe and prepared for sex with Jeffries.  Will Mary's virginity...oh yes...that's long gone, anyway...perceived virtue be soiled by the evil judge?  Will William of Orange's troops invade in time to save Harry and his collaborators?
If you claim to be a fan of some great historical dramas like "Cromwell," "Becket," and "A Man for All Seasons," but in reality were hoping for some more violence and eroticism, "The Bloody Judge" is the film for you.  For my fans in Canada and Europe, do not tell Netflix that this Rated PG film actually contains lots of nudity and blood. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Disturbing Behavior, Katie Holmes and Katharine Isabelle in Deep Peril

Mary Jo (Natassia Malthe), a high school skank is murdered by a puritanical jock while servicing him with oral 1998's "Disturbing Behavior" begins.  Today we know Katie Holmes as a courageous actress who is standing up to the Church of Scientology.  Way before she met Tom Cruise, Ms. Holmes played a rebellious teenager in today's film.  A horror story set in a pacific northwest high school, "Disturbing Behavior" sports a very attractive cast, however, most will not fare well.  Mind control, conformity, and a mad-scientist are the culprits that will prey upon unsuspecting students. After all, if one is not a cool kid, high school can be a four year horror story for someone deemed to be an outcast.
After the sultry Natassia Malthe has her neck snapped, Steve (James Mardsen) and Lindsay (Katharine Isabelle) move to town with their parents.  They are fleeing bad memories in Chicago and the parents believe they have moved to a paradise.  The handsome Steve is befriended by a rebellious trio, including Rachel (Holmes) and Strick (Nick Stahl).  He draws immediate attention from the cool click, known as the Blue Ribbons.  These perfect specimens are comprised of honor students, jocks, and cheerleaders.  Steve eschews their advances and stick with his friends.  Strick warns Steve that the Blue Ribbons are under some mind control and have gotten away with murder.  Uh-oh, Dr. Caldicott (Bruce Greenwod), the guidance counselor, takes a special interest in Steve.  Like most guidance counselors, Caldicott is also a mad-scientist at a loony bin which houses his failed experiments.
When Strick is abducted by Caldicott and the Blue Ribbons and turned into a super-cool zombie, Steve realizes that him, Lindsay, and Rachel could be next.  In one horrific scene, high school vixen (and Blue Ribbon) Lorna (Crystal Cass) pays Steve and Lindsay a visit with disturbing results (see picture below).   After this bloody scene, Steve knows he and his pals are in mortal danger. When he and Rachel go on a midnight scouting expedition to Caldicott's lab, they make some gruesome discoveries.  Realizing they must run away or face a fate worse than death, they plot their escape.  Too late...Caldicott and the Blue Ribbons are one step ahead of them.  Steve, however, has a determination and a will that might just even the score.  
 Now Caldicott and his Blue Ribbons will face off against our outgunned protagonists.  But wait!  Surprises lurk in the weirdest places, and perhaps Steve and his friends do stand a chance.  Perhaps "Disturbing Behavior" is only a mere exaggeration of the public school system's war on individuality. The American public school system favors those castes that buy into their ideology.  The outcasts in this film exist in so many schools, and perhaps it is only a matter of time until some behavior modification, in the name of the student's best interest, will await our children in public school houses.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Breeders, Alien Rapist Impregnates Coeds

A toothy, nymphomaniac monster!  A space-babe clad in revealing, shiny, tight garb.  An amorous, blonde coed who doesn't wear underwear.  A hunk art professor, all too eager to please the student body.  Yep....1997's "Breeders" (aka "Deadly Instinct") is our film today.  Instead of waiting for the next "Star Wars" bore, see this film to stroke your prurient interests. In addition to some nice creature effects, we have lots of gratuity which will be noted below.  Made in the Isle of Man (U.K.), set in Boston, this scifi exploitation work will surely titillate.
An apparent meteor crashes into an all women's college in Boston.  Instead of calling NASA...or the NSA...the janitor is charged with cleaning it up.  All the girls...and every single coed in this film is a babe...take pieces of the meteor and make jewelry.  Uh oh....this meteor was actually a ship carrying a monster and his captive space-babe (Kadamba Simmons).  Meanwhile, Ashley (Todd Jensen) begins a torrid affair with one of his students, Louise (Samantha Womack nee Janus).  Conveniently, especially for Ashley, Louise does not wear underwear.  The two will have lots of pre-marital sex.  Meanwhile, Ashley runs across a sultry space babe who runs away from him.  There will be a lot of gratuitous jiggling as she flees.  Ashley doesn't know that the monster is always close to her, and she is trying to protect Ashley by staying away from him.  Meanwhile, we get to see first hand Louise's lack of undergarments.  We also get to see Louise and the other coeds in a gratuitous nude locker room scene..then a gratuitous soapy shower scene.  Okay..let's focus...the monster begins to abduct coeds and place them in cocoons in order to breed with them.
As the fiend abducts all the coeds, who are clad in lingerie and PJs...Ashley and Louise decide to act.  Meanwhile, the space-babe's attempts to save anyone wandering into the creature's lair (the basement of the college) meet wit failure.  A whole Boston Police SWAT team is wiped out.  Louise will be momentarily possessed by the creature giving way to a nice cat-fight between her and the space-babe. The sexy Louise finds some shotguns, and together with her forbidden love, the two take the fight to the alien rapist. If they are successful, the soon to be fired art professor stands to gain the hottest coed in the college and and one beautiful space-babe.  Neither the babe or Louise seem to mind this prospect.  If they fail, the space-babe and Louise will be put in cocoons, like all the coeds, and used to incubate the alien eggs.
Is Ashley's proclivity to engage in pre-marital sex with his students indicative of the treachery women face at institutions of higher learning?  Can a slimy, toothy monster from a far off galaxy find happiness in a college orgy?  I guess that's an easy one.  "Breeders" is a fun film and the ending is wild.  Available on Netflix, enjoy this guilty pleasure. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pharaoh's Curse, Mummy on a Shoestring Budget

Lee Sholem (1913-2000) was a movie studio's dream.  In a 40 year career, he made over 1300 films or shows.  His reputation was that he did them fast and cheap.  Today's movie,  "Pharaoh's Curse" (directed by Sholem) from 1957 was no exception.  All the desert scenes were filmed in one day in Death Valley.  Despite the low budget nature of this film, terrific make-up effects, surprising gore, and some neat scares make "Pharaoh's Curse" a hidden jewel of mummy movies.  Complete with a square-jawed hero and a shapely damsel in distress, this horror tale is full of surprises.
The British are being massacred in 1902 Egypt.  Captain Storm (Mark Dana) is sent into the desert to find an American archaeological expedition before they too are ambushed.  Accompanying him on his mission is Sylvia (Diane Brewster, see photo below), the gorgeous wife of Robert, the lead archaeologist. Storm and Sylvia are instantly attracted to each other, which is convenient because our beautiful damsel is planning to dump her husband upon their reunion.  Uh oh...a mysterious babe, Simira (Ziva Rodann) meets them in the desert,  She implores Storm to change his course and follow her, as she knows the whereabouts of the party.  With Simira's arrival, mysterious hardships hit Storm's expedition, including a scorpion attack on Sylvia. With Sylvia near death, Storm allows Simira to lead them to the dig.  Uh oh....Sylvia's soon to be ex finds a mummy and opens the sarcophagus.  Simira senses this and advises Storm, "It's too late" (...for what?).
As the sarcophagus is opened, Simira's brother (a guide for the expedition) falls ill, and instantly ages 50 years.  As Storm, Sylvia, and Simira join the expedition, evil has been let loose.  Animals and archaeologists turn up drained of all their blood, and Simira's brother seems to be the culprit. Despite looking 100 years old, the fiend is immune to bullets.  Robert, Sylvia's soon to be ex, begs Storm to allow him to stay and find the Pharaoh's tomb, but Storm has his orders.  Robert's attitude and ability to listen to authority tanks when Sylvia tells him "see ya'."  As more expedition members are drained of blood, Sylvia and Storm make goo-goo eyes at one another, infuriating Robert.  As Storm closes in on the fiend, Simira's real intentions become clear, as Sylvia is thrust into deep peril.  
Will the vows made in front of God at a church altar by Sylvia be thrown away because of a really handsome hunk with a British accent?  Will Robert's obsession with finding the pharaoh's tomb spell his demise?  Will the grave-robbing antics of western civilization of a proud Egyptian culture portend perilous times in future middle-eastern relations?  For some neat scares, a couple of shapely babes, and a Cary Grant like leading man, see "Pharaoh's Curse," available on Netflix.   

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Horseman, Revenge in Australia

Be warned, this is not an easy one to endure.  Fishing line, fishing hooks, pliers, acid, a tire iron, blow torch, garden clippers, and tools I don't know the name of are means of torture in 2008's Australian film, "The Horseman." To make matters worse, Peter Marshall plays the protagonist who is so upset at the death of his daughter, he uses these tools on the most painful places of the human body...including the male genitalia.  This is not a feel good revenge film, as it is about so much more than tracking down fiends.  Is our anti-hero angry at the monsters that were responsible for the death of his daughter? Or is he angry at himself for not being the father he should have been?  Or, most frightening to Christian (Marshall) he not accepting of the increasing apparent fact that his daughter may have sealed her fate with her own free will?
Christian is told of the death of his daughter (Hannah Levien).  The details are abhorrent.  Her toxicology reports indicate she was full of heroine, alcohol, and semen.  In a heart breaking scene, Christian combs through her bedroom looking for clues to her death.  He uncovers a video called "Young City Sluts 2" (not yet reviewed on this blog) staring....his daughter.  The shock is too much for him, and he quickly becomes focused on murdering everyone who was involved in the video.  Equipped with his gear (he is an exterminator), he begins a quest to visit (..and dissect) the producer, cameraman, distributor, and co-stars.  Only remembering his daughter in happier times, Christian is in total denial that his princess chose her career.  When the aforementioned members of the film crew remind Christian of his daughter's free will, his means of torture become more nefarious.  As he is in the midst of his gruesome quest, which leaves very bloodied bodies for the police to find, he meets Alice (Caroline Marohasy).  This 18 year old hitchhiker obviously has made some wrong decisions, but Christian sees in her a young lady beginning to turn her life he would have liked to have seen his daughter have done.
In destroying the fiends in the porn industry, Christian also becomes determined to save Alice from future bad decisions.  He may have failed at being a good dad to his deceased daughter, but protecting Alice (...and she will need protection) gives him a chance at redemption.  As Christian goes through the crew of "Young City Sluts 2" like crap through a goose (there's that phrase again), he is about to hit a snag.  The male lead, Derek (Brad McMurray) is waiting for him.  The element of surprise is no longer Christian's ally, and he is about run across a truly evil force.  Uh oh...Derek also has plans for Alice as he realizes that Christian has anointed himself her protector.  What happens in the last 30 minutes will be difficult to view (...and I have to tell you, the first 60 minutes were not easy).
Stomach turning....heartbreaking...gory..and without an ounce of humor, "The Horseman" will give you an emotional work-out.  Some may term this film "torture-porn," however it serves as a terrific character study of a flawed, but good man who must endure his daughter's sordid death.  Christian admits he can no longer feel..which doesn't bode well for his selected prey.  In fact, in a part of the story, not for the queasy, we see Christian has become a cutter.  If this is intriguing to you, "The Horseman" can be found on Netflix.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Note To Self, Globe Trotting Serial Killer

Allow this blog entry to serve as a supplement to my literature review, which I posted last April 30th.  In "Suicide the Hard Way," Christopher Alan Broadstone penned several short works which ran the spectrum in delivering unique ways to scare the pants off of us.  I am looking forward to reviewing Mr. Broadstone's next collection of stories, which I hope "Note To Self" is featured in.  So...let us plow into a heart-warming tale of a brutal serial killer who is always ten steps ahead of the police.
A serial killer, who has perhaps killed hundreds of innocents is our featured character today.  He has medical school training, and uses surgical tools while plying his craft.  His victims are totally unsuspecting, and to the police....100% random.  Oh yes....our genius fiend (...and his IQ is likely off the charts) anything but random.  In his collection of nasty tools is a device (...or...thing) of perhaps supernatural and/or astrological nature which guides him.  Unlike most serial killers we meet in literature, or film, the victims of our fiend aren't isolated to college campuses, or truck stops, or small towns.  This guy will invade the bowels of third-world war-zones or the depths of the oceans in selecting his prey.
Remember, the author is a guy named Broadstone.  This, in short, means that the horror will be thrust upon you from directions we don't suspect.  The subject matter is horrific enough.  Killings, gore, nubile and naive victims, ominous stalkings....all those would have been fine and satisfying.  However cliche, those are cliches that work in horror fiction.  In "Note To Self" however, though all the aforementioned devices are omnipresent, the scares emanate from the journey being undertaken by the "monster."  As our killer embarks on a twisted quest, his journey and mindset are the elements that unnerve us.  Whether in the bosom of a benign tribe of Bedouins, or sojourning through a chaotic Cairo, Mr. Broadstone ensures that we the reader will find no comfort, or reprieve from  horror, in "Note To Self."  Even the beautiful, clear waters of the Mediterranean and angelic setting of Cyprus, as penned by our author, are received in a very unsettling  manner by the reader.
The reader has a choice, and how he/she chooses may also be a source of horror.  Is our killer conveying facts?  Are the monstrous facts and circumstances guiding his plight actually real...and actually happening?  Or are they products of a mind that has lost all attachment to rational thought?  You'll have to catch yourself, as the temptation to view this fiend as a protagonist will be great.  "Note to Self" is currently available at Amazon (including the kindle edition) in "Journals of Horror: Found Fiction" which is edited by Terry M. West.( )

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

L.A. Maniac, A Stern Warning for our Daughters

From our buddies at Troma, comes this ominous horror story, 2011's "L.A. Maniac" (aka "The Los Angeles Ripper").  Unlike many Troma films, this one is without humor.  I have stated many times on this blog that the demented and insane, who used to be confined to lunatic asylums, are now encouraged to mingle in society.  Unfortunately, this "enlightened" approach to mental health paves the way for total insaniacs to stand with you in line at the post office, or Target.  After 25 years in law enforcement, I can tell you that these less than stellar members of our communities look for one thing....opportunity.  A smile from a young an attractive lady which is a mere gesture of politeness is interpreted by these psychos as an invitation to disembowel. 
As our story begins, Grahm (Randy Tobin), the pristine soul that he is, rids the world of an unclean wench (prostitute).  Also, Kristy (Celeste Marie Martinez, who also co-wrote this film) arrives in L.A. from Ohio.  Naive and wide-eyed, Kristy is all about experiencing L.A. for all it has to offer.  She will live with her dysfunctional and paranoid Aunt Peggy (Beverley Bassette) and her loser cousin Angel (Chase Monroe).  As twisted fate would have it, Kristy and Grahm meet at a party.  Grahm is 100% enthralled with our naive protagonist, but Kristy is creeped out by the vulgar and over-eager dolt.  Grahm's interpretation of this first meeting is that Kristy is "all into" him, thus he begins stalking her.  Meanwhile, Grahm continues to pick up loose women and murders them.  As the film progresses, the murders get progressively gorier.  At some point, he will begin scalping his prey and eating their innards.  In one very stylish and disturbing scene, Grahm murders "the orange girl" (Moeko Maeda).  This killing is important to the ethos of this work.  "The orange girl" symbolizes a woman who has set herself apart as an individual, asserting her uniqueness to a society bent on conformity.  This is too much for our misogynist psycho, as a woman who has set herself apart will not be tolerated.
Totally blind to the violence going on around her, Kristy pursues a L.A. lifestyle.  She takes singing classes, though has no talent for it, and considers learning how to surf.  As Kristy delves deeper into a L.A. existence, Grahm plots.  Ultimately, the polite and lady-like qualities of Kristy will ensure that a bloody final confrontation will occur.  As each murder is more stomach turning than the one before, we cannot even imagine what Grahm has in store for our heroine.  When the final scenes do appear, they are hard to watch, brutal, and bloody. 
There is a subplot I must mention.  Kristy's voice teacher, Mrs. Crabtree (Dolores Quintana) provides a great diversion from the violence in this film....or does she?  As she teaches her untalented students to sing, Mrs. Crabtree's scenes conclude with one that ties this supposed diversion into the violence that is "L.A. Maniac."  This, of course, being a metaphor for Kristy chasing dreams, but being plunged into a meat-grinder of evil, instead. Very reasonably priced on Amazon, if your stomach can handle it, get yourself a copy of this horror tale.  Also, if your daughter seeks to run off to L.A. to make it her this film.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Vampire in Iran

The plight of a vampire.  It lives at night, in the shadows.  The undead being must remain hidden from authorities and the prevalent culture.  Destined to be forever lonely, this monster from literature has always drawn our sympathies...and for certain benign outcasts, empathy, as well.  Buried, not too deep, inside Iran, is a culture of youth...hungering for political, economic, social, and religious freedom.  Like the vampire....this growing culture must also remain purloined.  Unlike the vampire, this burgeoning culture will someday break into the light.  Ana Lily Amirpour has crafted "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," which tells the story of a female vampire plying her trade inside Iran. Though shot near Bakersfield, California, Ms. Amirpour introduces us to that Iranian (...Persian?) culture who seeks the same happiness we do in North America.
Don't pay too much attention to the dried up river serving as a mass grave, running through the center of town....a symbol or metaphor, no doubt tangled with this plot.  Arash (Arash Marandi) is a hard working hunk trying to make it in Bad City, Iran.  He cares for his addict dad (Marshall Manesh) while staying under the radar, as best one can in Iran.  Uh oh, Saeed (Dominic Rains), the pimp drug dealer demands Arash pay him for his dad's habit.  For payment, Saeed takes Arash's prized possession, a meticulously preserved 1950's car. Enter the vampire (Sheila Vand).  Living repressed inside Iran, like so many other women, in the shadows she listens to western rock, adorns her apartment with posters of western culture pop-icons, and loves Lionel Ritchie music.  Oh yes, she prowls the streets at night looking for nourishment (blood).  She is evil.  Or is she?  
Her first kill is Saeed, which in some way liberates Arash.  Her victims are hopeless souls, as she is attracted to Arash...perhaps because he stands out as a symbol of a pristine future.  As the two protagonists head toward a forbidden relationship, the viewer is left to contrast that relationship with the repressive society they exist in.  As more and more bodies are added to the aforementioned mass grave, Arash's attraction for the vampire grows.  Oddly enough, the more active our vampire gets, the more Arash is liberated from his careful existence.  Though safe from the vampire's bite, because of her attraction to him, Arash must go through an inner metamorphosis in order to secure the girl (...vampire) of his dreams.  Ms. Amirpour's style blends elements of David Lynch and Coen Brothers' films.  
Perhaps our alluring vampire serves as hope for a culture living inside Iran.  Maybe Ms. Amirpour, in her heroine, has created a character that embodies what it will take to free the hopeful youth of Iran (...Persia?).  Available on Netflix, this stylish horror flick shows a hidden culture of Iran that serves as a great hope for its future.  Let us all hope that in the not-too-distant future, the young people of Iran will serve as an inspiration to the repressed everywhere.  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Smash Cut, Sasha Grey Moves on from Porn

Sasha Grey, who made it as a porn actress (she appeared in 224 adult films), stars in today's film, 2009's "Smash Cut."  Still a very young lady, Ms. Grey now stars in more main stream films, and has also started a band.  aTelecine plays death dub, ambient, and experimental genres (....I guess I have competition).  Not even close to her 30th birthday, she has excelled at everything she has tried her hand at.  Not on drugs, and not a victim of sexual abuse, Ms. Grey shatters the stereotypes of those involved in the porn industry.  In "Smash Cut," her character, April Carson, is of a similar ilk.  The info-babe must take charge, head into danger, to solve the mystery of her sister's death.
As our story begins, Able Whitman's (David Hess) newest horror film, "Terror Toy" is being laughed out of the cinema by infuriated movie-goers.  Even the critics pile on the scorn for Able's latest effort.  Their complaint?  The gore effects are so phony, they are comical.  Distraught, Able goes to see his GF, a stripper known as Gigi Spot (Jennilee Murray).  On their ride home, Able crashes his car, which kills Gigi.  Seeing the bloody corpse of his once main-squeeze, Able sinks into madness with a macabre idea.  He saves Gigi's corpse and uses her blood and body parts as effects in his newest film.  Now inspired, Able needs to continue finding real body parts.  One of his first victims is a buxom critic (Gwen Douglas).  Her harsh review of "Terror Toy," unfortunately, sealed her fate.  Uh oh....Gigi's sister, April, is a TV reporter bent on uncovering the mystery of Gigi's disappearance.  Together with suave and debonair private eye, Isaac Beaumonde (Jesse Buck), she quickly determines Able must have done something to Gigi.
As April gets a job as an actress on Able's set, Able continues his killings and disembowelment for realistic body parts.  Our protagonist excels as a scream queen, and the gore effects do as well.  In one heartwarming scene, April does Hamlet (...alas poor Yorick) with her sister's head, not knowing her connection with the decomposed appendage.  As April and Isaac close in on proving Able's misdeeds, Able plunges further into homicidal madness.  When our two heroes close in on the fiend, Able's madness turns the tables on them, causing April to play a real life damsel in distress.  Heavy on gore, and light-hearted on the humor, "Smash Cut" is well acted, and delivers laughs and scares simultaneously.
Terrific performances by the aforementioned actors, a fantastic slew of supporting talent also enhance this film (...such as Michael Berryman).  Kudos to director Lee Demarbre, who pays certain homage to movie making in the 1940s and 1950s.  Oh yes....Herschell Gordon Lewis has some neat scenes in this film.  Fun, gory, and serving as a satire (..or a lampoon) of the film industry, the DVD of "Smash Cut" is reasonably priced on Amazon.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ebola Zombies, Hong Kong's Zombie Apocalypse

What do we get when SARS combines with Ebola?  Today's movie! 2015 "Ebola Zombies" (aka "SARS Zombies") comes to us from Hong Kong, and may be ripped out of the headlines from last year.  As SARS fizzled 10 years ago, the Ebola outbreak did the same (at least in the U.S.) last year.  The dire predictions of entire U.S. cities being overrun by Ebola never manifested.  In a weird sort of way, I really think this disappointed a lot of people.  Survivalist wannabes who have been hording bottled water and Power Bars are convinced they will outlast their neighbors.  In today's film, the outbreak is sudden, and no amount of preparation will spare anyone from the carnage.  Heavy on the gore, and martial arts, this film paints a picture of what the Ebola outbreak could have been, if the fantasies of the demented played out like news services predicted it would.
Sam (Samuel Leong, also the director) leads his two cohorts into a highrise in order to rob a jewelry store.  Him, Cash (Cash lee), and Jack (Jack Chan) murder five security guards in gory fashion and gain entry to the diamond exchange.  As our thugs round up all the employees, a surviving guard runs out the door.  Cash chases him into a neighboring unit, which is a secret lab run by a mad scientist.  These labs flourish in Hong Kong.  Sam follows cash into the lab and they meet the doctor.  In trying to find a vaccine that kills SARS (which killed his wife ten years ago), he invented one that turns people into zombies.  Zombies don't get SARS or Ebola....thus his experiments were a success.  Uh oh, the mad scientist is accompanied by a little girl, YoYo, who is a carrier, but immune to the effects.  YoYo bites Cash....and you can guess what happens (see picture below).  Upon further inspection, Sam finds a headless corpse, attached to a brain with wires, which reanimates when injected with the vaccine.  Uh oh, he also finds "specimens."  These unfortunate souls are now zombies, after the scientist injected them.
Too late, before Sam and his thugs can get back to their heist, the entire building has turned.  The few remaining survivors are quickly set upon by these Asian ghouls.  In one horrifying clip, the beautiful Lisa (Anna Chan) and her paramour attempt to flee in an elevator.  Lisa is pulled out by a horde of these things and her suddenly chivalrous BF tries to help (pictured below).  You can imagine the ripping that results which will eventually have Lisa eating the schmuck's tongue.  Now the remnants of Sam's gang, a surviving guard, and YoYo must not only survive the undead...but also each other.  Sam is determined to kill YoYo believing she is a carrier, but the guard is determined to get her to government health services believing she holds the cure.
The gore is intense, though the story isn't entirely new.  Perhaps a metaphor of mainland China's increasing authority over Hong Kong, this movie is best when overlooking any metaphor.  This DVD is reasonably priced on Amazon.  So, as the bird flu threatens a comeback....take a look at "Ebola Zombies" for some clarity on what to expect this summer.    

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bound, Charisma Carpenter and BDSM

Since the early 1990s, Charisma Carpenter has been one of the most beautiful actresses in film and TV.  Her real life history is infinitely more dramatic than her portrayals on the screen.  From San Diego Charger cheerleader, to a heroine who pulled off a death defying escape from a maniacal killer after he shot her two friends, and then assisting the police in putting that fiend behind bars, Ms. Carpenter is a true life hero. She has come a long way since "Buffy" and "Angel," and 2015's "Bound" demonstrates that, even in her mid-40s, Charisma Carpenter has more sex-appeal than any actress in their 20s.  Forget about "50 Shades of Grey," for some erotic fulfillment, Ms. Carpenter delivers in an extremely courageous performance.
The film begins with Michelle (Carpenter) in all of her glory in the final stages of sex with her BF, George (Mark McClain Wilson). He is satisfied (...of course), but not her.  She fakes satisfaction and sends the BF on his way.  Even when she tries to finish the feat with a vibrator, no results.  Then, by chance, she meets Ryan (Bryce Draper), a mysterious young man who successfully comes on to her in a bar.  He is exsciting...and perhaps taboo.  His ability to dominate her physically and emotionally gets Michelle's erotic juices flowing.  Her new role as a submissive seems to suit Michelle, and effect her role as a mom and a real estate executive.  As our heroine's real world continues, Ryan forces Michelle to explore the taboo.  Whether it be kinky sex in a restroom at an Alzheimer's Disease fund raiser, or sex in her father's office, Michelle's sex life has been rejuvenated.  As Ryan introduces her to the BDSM culture, Michelle immerses herself into a lifestyle of bondage, whipping, humiliation, and submission.
Uh oh...Michelle is not satisfied to remain a submissive, and when she makes overtures to reverse roles with Ryan, his dangerous side is revealed.  Though addicted to each other, Ryan and Michelle are now on a collision course which will not end least for one of them.  Her desire to whip him, contrasted with his desire to keep her in chains and punished, turns into a sexual game of wits.  Charisma Carpenter plays the role well, whether in a tight business outfit, BDSM gear, or nude, she dominates the camera.  Her character Michelle, even as a submissive, always hints at being in control.  Even on the receiving end of spanking and whipping, Michelle gives indications that she is in more control than Ryan would like.  As the demented love story turns into a sexual-thriller, the new Michelle will have to turn all-aggressive in order to prevail.
Perhaps more similar to "9 and 1/2 Weeks," than "50 Shades..," "Bound" is the story of a strong independent woman trying to remain strong and independent after plunging into a BDSM lifestyle.  Some critics may pan this film believing professional women are portrayed as weak.  However, a closer look at Michelle, I believe, reveals a woman playing submissive, but in actuality she is more in control than her male counterpart.  Whatever Ryan desires, he has not met anyone like Michelle.  If she survives, what will a liberated Michelle look like? Available on Netflix,    

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman, Exploitation from Chile

A sultry Tango dancer turned deadly hit-woman! It's time this blog pay more attention to exploitation films from Chile.  Thus we examine  2012's "Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman."  Clad in hooker boots, fishnet stockings, and little else, Chile's most expensive assassin, played quite capably by Fernanda Urrejola, goes through Chilean mobsters like the proverbial crap through a goose.  Shot like a comic book, director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza gives us a heartwarming story of vengeance and justice.
The machine gun woman (known here as MGW) is a former Tango dancer at a seedy club.  Humiliated and rejected by her BF, Che Longana (Jorge Alis), she becomes the sexiest and most violent assassin in the world.  Che is the biggest crime boss in town, and as our film begins, MGW is mowing down Che's men as they shake down a local market.  The killings are violent, gory, and seductive....  In one instance she straddles her victim, licks his face, then blows his face off.  Che is angered that MGW is putting a strain on his operations and puts out a million dollar offer to bring her to him, dead or alive.
Santiago (Matias Oviedo) is a loser.  He is a DJ at Che's club, and always had an infatuation with that mysterious Tango dancer.  He volunteers for the job.  Che is amused that Santiago believes he can bring in MGW, but gives him 24 hours to complete the task....or else!  Santiago is kinda capable for this job...he is a gamer and once mowed down a dozen bad guys with eight bullets in a pirated video game.  As Santiago gets closer to the MGW, he witnesses her bloody quest for justice first hand.  Now, falling in love with this goddess, Santiago must wrestle with a choice...  Does he complete his task, or does he try to get MGW to kill Che?  Uh oh....Che is not stupid, he has already taken measures to ensure Santiago will stay on task.  Of course, MGW starts on her quest to kill Che, but it won't be without cost.  Our beautiful protagonist will be put in much peril, as Che plans further humiliation for her.  As MGW shows a hint of a human side, Che pounces, determined to make her a love toy again before executing her.
 Will Santiago ultimately assist MGW, or succumb to Che's pressure?  Is MGW a metaphor for Chile's uncertain plight after their history of repressive governments?  Whether on the prowl with firepower, or in bondage, MGW always exudes danger and allure.  Available on Netflix, this is definitely a film you will want to experience.  Perhaps MGW's traits, which she exhibits so well in this film, are ones that we can carry over into new leadership styles. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Babadook, It's Coming....from Australia

The most frightening aspect of 2014's "The Babadook" is the prospect that there might not be a monster.  Usually that is cause for relief, but in this horror film from Australia, what evil man is capable of trumps the horror monsters can inflict.  Jennifer Kent has created a masterpiece in this dark tale of evil that besets a widow and her seven year old son.  Essie Davis plays that widow, and her performance is shocking.  After the final credits are completed, you will not be able to get this film out of your mind.
Seven years ago a horroble car accidents results in the death of Amelia's husband.  The wreck occurred as the two of them were on the way to the hospital for the birth of their son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman).  Now, Samuel's every birthday will fall on the anniversary of his dad's death.  Are we in fact molded by our traumatic childhood experiences?  Uh oh.  Now in first grade, Samuel is convinced monsters are on their way to kill him and his mom.  This anti-social behavior results in his school segregating him from the other students.  More behavioral problems from Samuel result in Amelia having problems at work and being isolated from any kind of support network.  Now all alone, and vulnerable, ominous circumstances begin to rule the day.  After finding what appears to be a children's book called "The Babadook," Amelia begins to read it to Samuel.  Uh oh!  This book is not quite on the level of Dr. Seuss and chronicles a bloody future for Amelia's broken household.
Samuel begins to see the horrific Babadook, though Amelia cannot.  Now Amelia must deal with frequent and uncontrollable fits of horror from Samuel.  Totally at her wits end, Amelia begins to unravel.  A second reading of the demented book reveals some very terrifying prospects for Amelia and Samuel.  But what exactly is going on?  Is an evil force invading this home?  Or...even more frightening, is Amelia succumbing to maniacal insanity?  We watch this film from Amelia's point of view, and every social and societal institution becomes an ominous and horrific threat to Amelia.  Then, the invasion moves into full force, not just of the house, but also of Amelia.  The final 40 minutes of this film are shocking and unsettling, and you won't be able to turn away.
 Ms. Davis' performance is fantastic.  Though this is a monster movie, of sorts, the film centers on Amelia.  Is she a desperate mom, protecting her son?  Is she losing it?  Amelia has to be one of the most difficult roles to have pulled off in any modern horror story...and Ms. Davis did it flawlessly. Available on Netflix, "The Babadook" will absolutely scare you silly.