Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The House That Vanished, a 1970s Drive-In Gem

With films like "The Last House on the Left" and "The House that Dripped Blood," 1974's "The House that Vanished" hit America's Drive-In theaters in the 1970s.  A bygone era we all miss. Mystery mixing with horror, a beautiful damsel in much distress, and creepy suspects aplenty grace this film.  Andrea Allan stars as a fashion/underwear model who likes to get undressed.  You might remember Ms. Allan as one of the purple-haired control room gals from the show "U.F.O."
Valerie is a first rate, glamorous model with bad taste in men.  Her current boyfriend is a thief who abuses her, and has an ex-wife.  This creep's idea for a date; drive to a secluded, seemingly unoccupied country estate on a foggy night...and burglarize it.  Val tags along (great judgment), and follows her beau into the house.  Uh oh....a man and woman enter and Val and her BF hide.  They then witness the man slice up his naked date.  Val runs out in horror, but never sees her boyfriend again.  Unable to go to the police, as she was part of a burglary, Val realizes the murderer knows exactly who she is and where she lives.  On her end, Val did not get a good look at the fiend, and cannot find the house.
Val suspects the murderer is stalking her, but has no idea who he is or what he looks like....and where is her knucklehead BF? She doesn't grieve too much, as finding men is easy for her.  She then gets involved with a creepy mask collector, Paul (Karl Lanchbury).  Paul has a very weird relationship with his strange aunt (Maggie Walker).  Uh oh....a new tenant moves into Val's building...a very peculiar man named Hornby (Peter Forbes-Robertson).  Knowing weird men when she sees them, Valerie suspects he might be the killer.  Val feels better when her sultry room-mate returns, Lorna (Judy Matheson, one of this blog's favorite actresses).  Now two pretty young women in one apartment is just too much for a psycho-sex fiend to resist.  As our two babes are plunged in further danger, carnage and weirdness increase.
Will this experience (if she survives) help Valerie's discernment of men?  Or will bad judgment spell the end for her and the pretty Lorna?  Made in England, and loved by America's drive-in audiences, "The House that Vanished" is an important film to teach our daughters to choose their men wisely.  Beware, this film has no qualms about making us squirm. Available in VHS quality on YouTube, I highly recommend this atmospheric and moody piece.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Banjo, Homicidal Imaginary Friends

I recently read in The Huffington Post that smart people have fewer friends.  Apparently there are a shortage of smart people in the world, and geniuses do not tolerate the stupid.  One wonders if this means that smart people have more imaginary friends.  Without fiends...wouldn't one's mind compensate?  Imaginary friends would be capable of so much which actual people couldn't achieve. They could keep us entertained...never be annoying...always be available...and murder everyone else in our lives.  Wait!  What was that last one?  Let us look at 2015's "Banjo," from the U.K.
Poor Peltzer (James Hamer-Morton). A milquetoast chap with a b#@%&y, two-timing GF, Deetz (Dani Thompson).  They live together in Peltzer's quasi-mansion and Deetz constantly humiliates him regarding their love-making.  Our weak protagonist and Deetz work together at Reams for Less, where Sawyer (Vito Trigo) is their boss and very much the bully.  Sawyer and Deetz are still banging each other and conniving about stealing Peltzer's inherited fortune.  Sawyer is a veritable monster, and his humiliating bullying targets Peltzer and co-worker Clyde ("Human Centipede 2" star Laurence R. Harvey).  Also at Reams for Less (a paper supply company) is the sweet Melissa (Serene Chloe Gardner) who is still sweet on Peltzer, though the pair broke up three years ago.
As Deetz and Sawyer bully and humiliate Peltzer, he stops his meds and dabbles in some occult activity which reconnects him to Ronnie (Damian Morter), an imaginary friend from 20 years ago. Ronnie is quite evil and we are shown glimpses of a very bloody backstory from two decades ago. Peltzer is hesitant to join forces with Ronnie again, but Ronnie is quite persuasive.  What follows is a gore-fest in which the duo go down a murderous path.  Will any of Peltzer's tormentors be spared?  What of the sultry but evil Deetz?  Will her and the equally deviant Sawyer remain intact after Ronnie is summoned?  A horror comedy which is mostly horror, "Banjo" has much stomach churning gore.  Warning, the kills are not the only blood soaked scenes in this film.
The acting is terrific and Kudos to writer/director Liam Regan who did a fabulous job.  Eight parts scare, two parts laugh, "Banjo" is a delightful voyage into the surreal homicidal voyage of a bullied schmuck.  Fans of "The Office" will love "Banjo." For more on this film visit banjomovie.com

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tag, Japanese Schoolgirls Cut in Half and Machine-Gunned

....have your attention yet? What an opening scene!  Two bus loads of attractive Japanese teens are sliced in half by an evil wind..body parts flying.  Blood spurting everywhere!  The carnage isn't even close to over, and the eventual death count will impress even all of you "Kill Bill" fans. Today we look at a gore-fest from Japan, 2015's "Tag" (aka "Tag Riaru Onigokko").  The death toll will be in the hundreds, and all of them will be blood spurting masterpieces.
Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) is the lone survivor of that opening scene...but her torment is just beginning.  She runs and runs escaping a mysterious homicidal wind.  But wait!  She reaches her all girls high school...and all her classmates are there....alive!  A dream?  Nope.  Safe?  Hardly.  Just when all seems fine, hundreds of the same girls will be mowed down by machine-gun wielding teachers...but Mitsuko again escapes, this time with her friend Aki (Yuki Sakurai). As the two flee, it is apparent that Aki knows something about their predicament. As Aki protects Mitsuko, she sends her onward and Keiko (Mariko Shinoda) mysteriously appears at her own wedding. Wait!  Who is Keiko? That's what Mitsuko wants to know.  Those of us who hate weddings will love what comes next as wedding party, guests, ushers, and all others involves in weddings die quickly and in horrible fashion.
Keiko escapes and runs away.  Izumi (Erina Mano) then finds herself in a track and field event.  Wait! Who is Izumi?  That's what Mitsuko and Keiko want to know.  Don't worry, Izumi will witness similar carnage.  ....and just why aren't there any males in this film?  What is going on here.  A cryptic clue we receive is when Mitsuko is warned that life is surreal....don't let it get to you.  As confusing as this all sounds.....the answers do come.  As shocking as those answers are, a certain segment of you will figure it out as it plays out.
If you endured "Tyler Perry's Passion" on Fox last week, you deserve to watch "Tag." Prurient...gory...fetish filled...but most interesting, to say the least.  What is going on?  How are our three protagonists related?  Is this film merely a misogynistic orgy, or is it a sensitive tale of adolescent women coming to realizations about their sexuality...or nether? Sion Sono does a wonderful job directing this horror tale.  As the film ends, an important message remains. Available on YouTube, enjoy "Tag."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Camel Spiders, An All-Star Cast vs. Icky Creatures

...an all-star cast indeed, as far as this blog is concerned. Teaming up are Jon Mack, lead singer of Auradrone, queen of the icky insect films, and Jessica Cameron, scream queen, Producer and Director. Both these actresses symbolize the great strides women have come in horror films.  No longer frail damsels in need of of a protector, Ms. Mack and Ms. Cameron are alluring and tough. With cowardice and fear enveloping those around them, these two change pace and man-up to fight an evil foe.  From Executive Producer Roger Corman, we will look at 2011's "Camel Spiders."
After a battle in Afghanistan, Cpt. Sturges (Brian Krause) escorts the body of his dead corporal home.  Unbeknownst to anyone, camel spiders have nested inside the corpse, and also arrive in Arizona. Sturges is accompanied by the sultry Sgt. Underwood (Melissa Brasselle), and when a police chase sends a perp into the side of their truck, the corporal's coffin is damaged, sending our spiders into the Arizona landscape.  Immediately, our monsters discombubulate four attractive, but annoying, hikers and then beset the neighboring town.  Diner patrons are now besieged,  to include the Mullins family. Jon Mack plays, Sharon, the mom.  At first she is determined to take her family apart, but we'll see her transition, very nicely into a machine gun toting monster killer...and ultimately a unifying force.
On another front, Ashley (Cameron), after watching the spiders eat her professor, is the only brave soul of her group.  She keeps them focused, stable, and alive as the spiders close in on them. Most of our survivors are holed up in a gypsum plant, as Sturges and Underwood keep them safe...for now...with machine guns.  Uh oh, there are more spiders than bullets and the spiders know it.  As the survivors dwindle in number, the plant is overrun, causing Sturges and Underwood to adopt plan B. The creatures are icky (there's that word again), and we do care about the characters.  Some of the deaths are heartbreaking, others are causes for cheering.
Will our featured scream queens survive and team up in a future film?  Will a very serious Sturges and his beautiful sergeant explore the army's fraternization policy?  Will some wiseguy come out with a camel spider cook-book?  This is an enjoyable flick and fans of the Syfy Channel will love it.  I saw this film just before the government sent me to Amman, Jordan and Petra, a few years ago and my hosts looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears when I kept asking about camel spiders.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Aerobi-Cide, Blood Spattered Satin Aerobic Outfits

Ahhhh, the 1980s.  Aerobics replaced Disco as the trend. Who can forget those tight, shiny, satin aerobic outfits that graced many spas?  Any actress or beauty who looked good in one of these outfits came out with a VHS aerobic-workout tape.  1987's "Aerobi-Cide" (aka "Killer Workout") capitalized on this trend, sending a slasher into one of these spas to inflict gory carnage on very fit damsels.
 Cosmo's newest cover girl is cooked during a tanning bed malfunction I hate when that happens). The tanning salon is then sold and converted to an aerobic/ workout spa, owned by the lovely Rhonda (Marcia Karr).  Rhonda is serious about the spa's bottom line and rides her primary fitness instructor, Jaimy (Teresa Van der Woude), hard.  Everyone in the spa is a perfect 10, hunks and babes.  Every woman is clad in a very form fitting leotard.  Uh oh....girls start dying in horrible ways.  Stabbed in the shower, hung, knifed, etc. Double uh oh....hunks start assuming room temperature as well.  Now Rhonda is faced with cash flow problems.
The suspects are numerous. A new employee, hunk Chuck (Ted Prior) arrived just before most of the carnage and he snoops around a lot.  Diane (Laurel Mack), a member, who just doesn't fit in with the other beauties. Jimmy (Fritz Matthews), the often rejected trainer who drools over every female he sees.  Oh yes, the severely burned supermodel from the opening scene....where is she?  As gratuitous and bouncy workouts continue, director David A. Prior also throws in gratuitous shower and locker room scenes.  As the death toll mounts, a grouchy detective (David James Campbell) must work with an equally grouchy and elusive Rhonda.
Titillating to the max, "AerobiCide" is gory and has a high body count.  The bouncier the aerobic woman, the gorier the death.  Perhaps a social commentary of the deadliness of unrealistic expectations imposed on woman by a male-dominated fashion industry, "Aerobi-Cide" may be a deeper film than a mere slasher film. (I know....I'm trying too hard here).  This film is one of the best slasher movies from the 1980s. These outfits, which could not have been comfortable, did not survive the early 1990s, but did give way to ESPN's morning programming, "Kiana's Flex-Appeal."

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Final Girl, Damsel not in Distress

Blonde, petite, frail, all dolled up. Nope, not a victim.....a lethal assassin!  2015's "Final Girl" takes, what looks like a prom queen, and turns her loose on monstrous killers.  Something about a beautiful young woman, all made-up, wearing an alluring red gown....and killing a bunch of bad guys just does something to make a nothing day suddenly all seem worthwhile.
The backstory is brief but intriguing.  What develops from it is an orphan, Veronica, taken in by William (Wes Bentley).  His wife and child were murdered by four evil fiends.  William spends the next twelve years training Veronica (Abigail Breslin) to be a most deadly assassin.  See, these creeps find young women, seduce them, bring them to the wilderness, and then hunt them down.  To them...it's a demented game.  You probably have guessed William's ultimate plan.
We see the training. It's physical, tactical, and psychological.  Though Veronica grows into a young woman who lusts after her trainer, William remains focused on revenge.  D-Day arrives.....William sets his weapon loose on these four psychopaths.  Appearing to fit the profile of a weak, diminutive high school gal, Veronica instantly captures Jameson's (Alexander Ludwig) eye for what he believes is his next pretty victim.  Having spent the past dozen years training to eliminate Jameson and his three cohorts, Veronica goes to work after allowing her would be tormentors to take her into the British Columbia woods.  What follows is so much fun.
If Veronica succeeds, will William see her as much more than a pupil/weapon?  Are our four psychopaths, with dozens of kills under their belt, too much for Veronica?  Why are guys so turned on by beautiful women with weapons?  New on Netflix, masterfully directed by Tyler Shields, see "Final Girl."

Friday, March 18, 2016

Q, Rodan New York Style

Can a halfwit ex-junkie save New York City.  Unlike Japan, where the army and air force would mobilize when Godzilla or Rodan showed up, major U.S. cities have big budget problems.  Unless we're talking about a 32 ounce soft drink, forget about the military in NYC and make way for a very unlikely hero.  "Q," a Larry Cohen film from 1982 gives us our first big monster movie since the classic Japanese ones from the 50s and 60s.  Lotsa a fun, and a great plot, replete with that biting New York cynicism, let us take a peek.
After some gory sacrificial rites (dudes skinned alive), an ancient Aztec God re-awakens in New York in the form of a monstrous, giant bird.  The thing builds a nest atop the Chrysler Building.  Then the buffet opens, as Q (our monster) soars over NYC occasionally (often, actually) swooping down to munch on rooftop sunbathers or skyscraper window washers.  Eventually, when body parts rain on the city streets, New Yorkers realize there is a problem.  Small time hood, and a very unstable ex-junkie, Jimmy (Michael Moriarty) accidentally stumbles onto the thing's nest.  Two cynical cops (David Carradine and Richard Roundtree) desperately try to find the bird and also solve some murders where the victims were sacrificed.
Jimmy is not eager to assist the police, as he sees everyone as out to get him.  Our two detectives must convince Jimmy to do the right thing and save NYC.  No dice!  Being the only one who knows the bird's secrets makes Jimmy feel powerful for the first time in his putrid life.  Meanwhile, the big creature continues to pick off poor saps.  Not even Jimmy's very abused GF, Jane (Candy Clark) can persuade him to do the right thing. Will Jimmy develop a conscience and tell the cops where they can find the bird?
Moriarty is fantastic as the selfish hood who holds New York's future in his hands.  The monster is fantastic and Larry Cohen was obviously influenced by "King Kong" when he made this film.  Look closely for L.A. Dodger great Ron Cey as one of New York's finest.  As the Son of Sam saga was ending in the Big Apple, "Q" was probably a welcomed respite to the real horror that gripped that city for so long.  Available in great quality on YouTube, see "Q" (also knows as "Q The Winged Serpent").

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Iron Girl: Ultimate Weapon, Japan's Sexiest Superheroine

Exactly one year ago, "Iron Girl" was reviewed on this blog.  The long awaited sequel is here, 2015's "Iron Girl: Ultimate Weapon." The very alluring Kirara Asuka reprises her title role.  Marvel and DC?  Please....BORING!  For some great super hero (...er superheroine, actually) films, let us go to Japan.  Over-the-top, spurting blood from jugular veins, decapitations, gratuitous nudity, sword-play, and martial arts....Iron Girl is where it is at!
How is this for an opening scene:  A gang invades a brothel, decapitates the madam, rapes the employees, and then is sliced to pieces by Iron Girl.  Enough said.  Iron Girl, still has no memories.  She seeks to purchase an expensive memory retrieval device to cure her amnesia.  To pay for this machine, she takes a job as a bounty hunter, retrieving the heads of futuristic Japanese scum.  Uh oh, Sparti, an evil criminal enterprise wants Iron Girl shut down...for good.  She is bad for their business. They set a trap. Iron Girl dons her cleavage friendly costume and sets off to decapitate the sultry femme-fatale, Poison.  Uh oh...Poison, clad in red leather, is waiting for her and some neat cat-fights ensue.
Sparti doesn't solely rely on Poison's hatred for her rival, but also unleash another secret weapon. This thing is more powerful than Iron Girl and may also hold some secrets about her elusive past.  As Iron Girl endures some beat downs, revelations about her past come to the surface.  Will Iron Girl ever find out who she was, and where she came from?  Are these truths better left unsolved? Betrayals and a very sadistic force will all torment our pretty heroine, and the ending will demand another sequel.
Ms. Asuka is stunning as our superheroine.  Her portrayal of a sexy, but tormented savior is compelling.  Her background as an adult film star is easily brought out in several gratuitous scenes. Forget the newest superhero films, and take this Japanese heroine with all the gratuity and allure she has to offer in "Iron Girl: Ultimate Weapon."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lavalantula, Monster Spiders and Police Academy

Giant fire-breathing tarantulas attack L.A. with bad CGI. Enough said.....I'm not going to convince you to love this film...even though I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oh yes, it stars Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy) and yes,,,Michael Winslow (the dude who made all the sound effect noises in those "Police Academy" films)...and yes...he makes sound effects in this one. too.  Plenty of cameos abound, including a tie-in to the "Sharknado" films. For you guys out there, Nia Peeples is sultry as a shotgun wielding, kick-boxing heroine.
Fire breathing behemoth tarantulas emanate from a volcano and attack L.A. So let us eschew any more discussion of the plot and in turn, discuss some interesting aspects of "Lavalantula." Have you been wondering where Nia Peeples has gone? Here she is, and looking really good...especially when armed with shotguns and military gear. We'll see thousands of monster spiders in this film and Ms. Peeples exterminates many of them with attitude and a steady trigger pull. Her kickboxing prowess is also demonstrated on some unfortunate arachnids.
One of this blogs favorite actresses, Jon Mack, plays an entertainment reporter.  Ms. Mack, lead singer of Auradrone, also appeared in "Mongolian Death Worm," "Spiders 3D," and "Camel Spiders."  She is terrific in her role, and we must credit her for bravery. Normal sized insects give me the willies, but Ms. Mack takes on the monster bugs.  As I previously mentioned, fans of the "Police Academy" franchise of the 1980s will delight in seeing Michael Winslow and his remarkable sound effects. Oh yes....I need to mention Steve Guttenberg. Not only was it great seeing him in this, but he did a fabulous job performing in the role of an action-hero, with some comedic and dramatic aspects to his character.
Haters will hate, but let's be honest....we have a giant fire-breathing bug army attacks L.A. story. What more can we ask for?  Fans of Syfy Channel films, like me, will love "Lavalantula." Lots of neat stars performing wonderfully, and one senses they had so much fun making this film. Stay tuned to this blog as soon we will review "Camel Spiders."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Serbian Film, Watch at your own Risk

Absolute trash that should never have been made? Or, an important horror film about the depravity we are destined to achieve?  2010's "A Serbian Film" is one of the basest films ever appearing on this blog.  After the end credits, I asked myself if this work presented the material in a titillating manner, or was it made to disgust us?  Was this film made to advocate a behavior, or to warn us against one? I saw this film as a warning, and the makers of it as artists trying to warn us of where we might be headed.
Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) is a retired porn star...and he was the best.  He now has a beautiful, intelligent wife, Marija (Jelena Gavrilovic), and young son. Money is tight, and the bills need to be paid.  When a former co-star, Lejla (Katarina Zutic), approaches him with an offer, Milos listens. Big mistake!  Lejla introduces him to a suave and wealthy Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic), who is willing to pay Milos enough dough so he will never have to work again, for one last film.  The catch?  The plot is kept secret, and Milos will never be shown a script.  Big mistake #2, Milos signs the contract.
Hence a dark and tortuous journey begins.  Yep....everything you have heard about "A Serbian Film" is true. Milos just got himself involved in a snuff film....only this is the worst kind.  No more plot, suffice it to say that there is a scene where a new born baby is raped at birth.  A word of warning, every scene Milos shoots is more disgusting than the one before....and the baby scene occurs with 45 minutes still left in the film.  What could be worse?  Do not feel compelled to find out....the images that you will view will stick.
Porn is bad.  Kiddie porn is bad.  Newborn Porn is worse.  This movie continues the spiral downward and what follows the baby scene is...well, I don't know any word for it.  Belgrade, Serbia, where this film was made is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  Vukmir believes he is making a movie about the identity of Serbia.  Is he?  Does Vukmir see a Serbia (or fill in your own country, for that matter) that we don't dare recognize.  Are we, indeed, spiraling downward at such a rapid pace that "A Serbian Film" serves as a blunt warning?  You decide.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Agents of P.O.W.E.R., Superheroines Humiliated

Who are the Agents of P.O.W.E.R.?  Very sultry super-heroines that keep the city safe.  Today we will meet four super ladies, clad in tight, shiny and revealing super heroine  costumes.  They’ve been keeping Metro City safe from evil criminals, but that is about to end.  However beautiful they are, what the bad guys have in mind for them will be humiliating and destructive.  So get ready as some very alluring heroines are handed a most punishing beat-down.  Let us look at a soon to be classic C movie, 2015’s “Agents of P.O.W.E.R.”
Starlet Overpowered
Starlet (Cameron Gold), clad in a tight costume, cape, and red leather boots walks into a trap.  Lex Luther has gotten his hands on some kryptonite and his goons capture our pretty super-heroine.  Starlet is then beaten, humiliated, groped, raped with kryptonite, groped some more and murdered by our evil goons.  Sensing they have the upper hand, another gang of criminals trap Eclipse (Rosalee Rae).   Three guys and a woman named Stella gang rape her, humiliate her, pummel her, grope her, and then murder her.  Now under attack, Metro City’s two remaining Super heroines, Lady Victory (Halsey Rae) and Spyder (Krisa Kouture) seek revenge for the murder of their friends, as well as survival.
Starlet Tortured
Uh oh, Lady Victory and Spyder have a past…women!  They don’t trust each other.  Lady Victory’s costume is shinier, and tighter, causing some jealousy to the ever accessory conscious Spyder.   Choosing to work alone, Lady Victory appears to be making headway.  Uh oh, her luck doesn’t last as she is captured and our criminals begin subjecting her to the same fates as Starlet and Eclipse.  Will Spyder put her jealousy aside and help Lady Victory?  Will Lady Victory’s more exaggerated figure cause Spyder to join the evil forces?  Will women ever man-up?
Starlet Dead
Immature and without any redeeming traits, “Agents of P.O.W.E.R.” is a lot of fun…in a most immature way.  Kudos to the four actresses in this film who take a beating, don’t always keep ticking, and look really good through it all.  Not a film to elevate your IQ, but one that will brighten up your day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Beyond the Darkness, Boy Loves Girl...Italian Horror Style

Today we look at another Joe D'Amato (Absurd and Anthropophagus) film. You know what that means! Yep...Intestines. 1970's "Beyond the Darkness" is a weird one.  If necrophilia and cannibalism were taboo in the 1970s, Joe D'Amato didn't care. Disembowelment, gouged out eyes, and acid baths will rule the day. Made in Italy and probably banned all over Europe (prudes!), let us delve into this shocker.
Frank (Kiernan Canter) loves Anna (Cinzia Monreale). True love! Uh oh....housekeeper/voodoo priestess Iris (Franca Stoppi) loves Frank....bad news for Anna. A voodoo ceremony later and Anna assumes room temperature.  But wait! Frank is into taxidermy (who isn't?) and is determined to have Anna around forever.  He robs Anna's grave, takes her home and stuffs her (btw...we see the whole gory operation). Iris loves Frank so much that she tolerates having Anna around....for now.  Oh yes, while Frank was disemboweling Anna, he forgot he had a female hitchhiker in his van. Hence the hitchhiker is a witness and in the world of the deranged, witnesses are inconvenient.
Frank kills the witness and Iris helps chop her up for an acid bath. Frank wants sex but can only have it when next to Anna's corpse. This eventually spells doom for some naive young ladies/witnesses. After a beautiful jogger goes missing, the cops start snooping around Frank's villa. Iris is able to rid the estate of evidence, but demands he throw Anna away.  As Iris realizes that Anna will always be between her and Frank (literally and figuratively), her relationship with Frank deteriorates. When Iris and Frank grow increasingly unstable, hatchets and knives enter the plot.  Can Iris ever replace Anna?  Will Anna's coldness send Frank into Iris' arms?
This is a gory one. The murder scenes are over-the-top and we are treated to gross detail in Anna's taxidermy operation. The ending is shocking and goes beyond Frank and Iris.  Just like "Anthropophagus," whatever you think of this film, the last ten seconds will have you cheering...that is, if you are a horror film fan. "Beyond the Darkness" is available uncut on YouTube.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda, Sorority Babes as Reptile Bait

The merging of the Anaconda and Lake Placid franchises has occurred. Big snakes, large crocs, covert corporate experiments....and lots of bikini babes (sometimes half bikinis) grace 2015's "Lake Placid vs. Anaconda." Corny CGI, horror film cliches, and lots of gore and nudity elevate this film to a must see, at least as far as this blog is concerned. However cliche this film appears, a scene near the end of the movie featuring a croc, an anaconda and a helicopter in flight is classic!
A secret experiment to combine giant crocodile DNA with anaconda DNA doesn't go so well, as the sedated creatures wake up during the experiment and escape.  Tull (Corin Nemec) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Sheriff Reba (Yancy Butler) team up to track the escaped beasts. Uh oh, an evil corporation needs to recover the beasts in order to complete their experiments which will yield a fountain of youth drug.  Fountain of youth serums rarely turn out well in these films (Oil of Olay needn't fret).  Ahhh, guess what! A sorority is having their rush week-end at the lake, and all our coeds are clad in bikinis.  The monsters, gotta give them credit, are headed straight for the hazing. Pretty Bethany (Skye Laurie), who is a pledge....and Tull's daughter,is the least b#@&*y of the pledges, which is good, because the evil ones get eaten.
As the monsters make it to the lake and begin eating the babes, Tull and Reba high tail it over there too.  Now on the run, many of the girls will end up as a buffet for our reptile aggressors. The more spoiled they are, the more gruesome their demise.  Much of this film satisfies a certain Japanese fetish (...enough said about that).  Just as it appears our protagonists are about to rescue the non-eaten pledges, the evil corporation shows up...heavily armed....and determined not to allow harm to come to their test subjects.  Is it likely the reptiles will return this good will? The last 10 or 12 minutes is classic, and everyone...or everything gets what he, she, or it deserves.
Yancy Butler is terrific, as usual and so is Corin Nemec.  Perhaps this film serves as a giant metaphor for the fate college girls suffer in the male dominated social structure of American university life. Or perhaps this is merely a giant monster movie with lots of gore and frivolous thrills. Either way, "Lake Placid vs. Anaconda" is so much fun.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sand Serpents, A Weapon against the Taliban

I've always loved war films. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of good movies about America's war effort in Afghanistan.  2009's "Sand Serpents" might be the best one, and perhaps the metaphors included in this work make it a relevant piece. Warning....this is straight to DVD and Syfy Channel quality, so if you have no patience for those types of film...you will not like this one. If you're like me and giant ugly worms always enhance the viewing experience...well...this one is for you.
An American patrol is captured by the Taliban in rural Afghanistan. Blindfolded and tied up, our GI protagonists don't see their Taliban captors beset and swallowed by giant worms. The worms approach 100 feet. Lt. Stanley (Jason Gedrick), mystified by the disappearance of the Taliban captors, plots a march to a landing zone for rescue.  Holed up at an abandoned mine, the worms come back when a rescue helicopter arrives. The beasts eat the helicopter and send the patrol on the run. The soldiers barely make it to an abandoned NATO fort, where they meet friendly Afghans, who are also beset by the Taliban.  Cpt. Henle (Tamara Hope) believes she can fix the radio back at the mine, and our group heads back there with two new allies.
As Henle fixes the radio, another Taliban unit attacks...and again the Americans and Afghan allies are saved by the hungry behemoth worms. With the worms closing in, and their unit decreasing, the Americans follow the Afghans to tunnels which just might lead to safety (...yeah, right).  As the Taliban continue to get eaten, Stanley and Henle hatch a long-shot plot to outrun the worms and reach the rescue landing zone.  Are our worms a metaphor for the horrors of nature that war brings?
The ending is one of the most heroic ones you will ever see. The direction of Jeff Renfroe and acting of Mr. Gedrick are fantastic.  To critics that say this film is a bad rip-off of "Tremors," I respond that ripping off the ideas in "Tremors" is preferable than ripping off the action and themes of "The English Patient." Available at a reasonable price on DVD from Amazon, enjoy "Sand Serpents."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

House of Wax, The Demise of Paris Hilton

Before there were the Kardashians, Paris Hilton was the identity of America....or perhaps what America had become.  Sadly, a nation that grasped the culture of reality shows and celebrity, in many instances, ignored virtues that make countries great.  There is hope! In 2005, when "House of Wax" played at movie houses, entire audiences cheered when Ms. Hilton met her most gory demise. Perhaps that seemingly inappropriate gesture, signals that our culture has what it takes to regain goodness.  Hence, today we look at "House of Wax."
A bunch of great looking college students from the University of Florida are heading to L.S.U for a big football game.  A shortcut and bad roads force them to camp overnight in the middle of nowhere. Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and her BF Wade (Jared Padalecki) venture to an abandoned town in search of a fan-belt for their car..... and the horror begins.  Trudy's House of Wax is the center of town and all the citizens are wax figures. Their bodies are encased in wax, leaving them corpses with wax shells. Quickly Wade (who soon will endure a tortuous fate) and Carly are on the run from a psycho fiend, Bo (Brian Van Holt). The very pretty Carly is captured by Bo and is subject to torture (superglue and clippers).  Oh yes...Wade is now a permanent citizen of this creepy place.
Now Carly's brother, Nick (Chad Michael Murray) and friends come to the rescue.  Paige (Hilton), unfortunately, is collected with her BF, and skewered.  As Carly escapes Bo's wrath, she teams up with Nick and the two take the fight to Bo.  Uh oh....Bo is not alone. Together Carly and Nick embark on a bloody quest to find their friends (that won't happen), end the evil of the House of Wax, and escape. A crossbow, shotgun, big knives, baseball bat, and fire will contribute to a very explosive, and epic ending.
Taking detours, rides with creepy strangers, separating, and pre-marital sex all contribute to the ominous fate of our University of Florida protagonists. Perhaps if they were film majors, they would be better equipped to survive one of these movies. What is the backstory of Bo? Will Carly and Nick have an opportunity to bond as brother and sister without being melted together? Heavy on gore, and available on Netflix, see "House of Wax."