Friday, August 18, 2017

Dogged, You Can't Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe penned "You can't go home again." This brings us to Rule #11 on the top ten list of things we learn not to do after watching horror films. IF YOU GET OUT OF A CREEPY TOWN...DON'T GO BACK! Nostalgia, homesickness, and perhaps an old love do draw us back home years after we have left.  The years that go by help us forget the reasons we left. Hence the fate of a likable bloke in Richard Rowntree's "Dogged."
He's ambitious and his own man. Young Sam (Sam Saunders) left the island he grew up in to go to university, eschewing unspoken tradition. No one is supposed to leave. Time honored traditions protect and nurture the good people of Farthing Island. Uh oh, Sam is drawn back because of the mysterious death of a young pretty teen...and his crush on the Reverend Jones' (Toby Wynn Davies) daughter, Rachel (Aiysha Jebali). Reverend Jones seems to be the unofficial mayor of the island.  He looks as if he could take a confession from you in the morning and perform a ritualistic sacrificial rite on your kids in the evening.  Sam's return is unsettling for the residents, especially for his parents who he shamed by leaving.
Sam begins to ask questions about the death of the young teen. Bad move! An obvious cover-up is occurring. Meanwhile, as a secret to no one, he engages in pre-marital sex with Rachel.  Sam draws lots of scrutiny from mysterious figures wearing animal masks...never a good sign. Sam meets some horrified hippies and an apparently insane woodsman who try to warn him, but they are too ambiguous for Sam to understand. As Reverend Jones, a man with bloody secrets, finds out his dear daughter has been defiled by a university boy, he decides on a course of action which will have Sam in his cross hairs. The animal masked cultists get bolder, and Sam develops an ally, a weird hippie woman (Nadia Lamin). He better act fast as the cultists are now tasked and Rachel has been "chosen" for something.
I know what you're thinking..."The Wicker Man." The similarities are indeed there but be warned the ending is more involved and ominous.  One may argue that the social commentary in this Richard Rowntree folk-horror flick is even more biting than "The Wicker Man." Will Reverend Jones be as successful as Christopher Lee was in the aforementioned film? Is young Sam majoring in anything that could be remotely useful to him in evading a malignant cult?  "Dogged" will leave you stunned and rethinking your desire to visit the islands of the United Kingdom.  For a horrific journey in which modern progress is tormented by ancient tradition...see "Dogged."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Creature Below, The Tentacled Menace in the Basement

 A beautiful marine biologist! A tentacled sea-monster! Oh yes, guess where this marine biologist went to college? Come on...you can guess.  That's right...Miskatonic University!  In a wonderful homage to H.P. Lovecraft, we take a look at 2016's "The Creature Below." Directed by Stewart Sparke, this film is dark, wet, and very creepy.
Olive meets the creature
Our aforementioned marine biologist, Olive (Anna Dawson) dons her specially made diving suit and is lowered into a deep water trench in the Atlantic. Dr. Fletcher (Zach Lee) believes the secret to how life began dwells in that trench. Actually Fletcher knows more than he lets on, otherwise no one would go into the trench. 1500 feet down, Olive is attacked by a huge tentacled sea monster and blacks out. When she awakes, her memory of her ordeal is gone.  Uh oh...she didn't come up alone. Nestled in the remnants of her diving suit is a weird slimy egg. After being chewed out by Fletcher, she absconds with the egg and brings it to her basement for research.
Olive losing humanity
Yep, you guessed it...the thing hatches and Olive realizes she has made quite a discovery. The thing begins to starve and Olive must figure out what it likes to eat. Of course the only thing it likes to eat is human blood. The tentacled thing begins to grow rapidly and develops a psychic bond with Olive. Olive becomes obsessed with her monster and when Fletcher pays her a visit to demand the species be returned...well...he becomes lunch. Olive comes up with a great idea. See, there are lots of inconvenient people in her life, or in anyone's life really, and her monster needs blood...so...yep, no need to say more. This weird relationship between Olive and the tentacled menace won't bode well for Olive's main squeeze, Matt (Daniel Thrace)...or her beautiful but flirtatious sister Ellie (Michaela Longden). As Olive's humanity slowly slips away, her choices for creature-food become more heartbreaking.
Ellie meets the creature
What happens when Olive runs out of inconvenient people? Will the tentacled thing ever escape from the basement? Is this the kind of scholarly pursuit which is taught at Miskotonic University? H.P. Lovecraft enthusiasts will love "The Creature Below." We see lots of the monster, and the kills can get quite graphic.  The ending will be epic and exciting. This film gets a little cerebral but for the most part serves as a nice monster-horror story.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Horrible High Heels, Shoe Making with a Human Touch

Accessorizing just right is a necessity for the modern woman. Men don't know how fortunate they are not to have to worry about belts, shoes, jewelry, etc...and their relationship, and how others see us. The right shoes with the wrong belt? That could spell doom for a female job seeker or beauty pageant contestant. Throw in cannibalistic, psycho insaniacs into this social norm and we have a gem from Hong Kong, 1996's "Horrible High Heels."
Lee being skinned

The women's shoe industry in Hong Kong is very competitive. To gain an advantage, one company figures out a way to make their shoes softer and and more chic...use human skin. This company is run by Lee and his family.  Uh oh, one night Lee is looking for funds to gamble with. The beautiful Sherry (Hsiao-Lao Lin) tries to stop him and the two struggle. Sherry is then knocked unconscious (actually, she will be beaten, stripped, humiliated, and raped repeatedly through this film) and Lee is carried off, chopped up, and skinned...his skin will then be used for shoes. Lee's disappearance is a mystery and the police get involved. Dick Wei plays the police captain...I love saying Dick Wei...DICK WEI...DICK WEI...DICK WEI!!!
Sherry after a rape
Whoever supplies this company its leather keeps doing so with human skin. Does anyone within the company know human skin is being supplied?  At first, it appears no. Tien (Lam Chak-Ming) is the hunk son of Lee. Sherry lusts for him, but Tien starts banging an exotic dancer named Wendy (Suen Tong). This is humiliating for Sherry as she really is in love with this hunk. To make matters more humiliating, Sherry will be beaten mercilessly and stripped by Wendy in a nice cat-fight.  Another uh-oh...Wendy is then grabbed, beaten, stripped, raped, humiliated, chopped up and skinned. Her skin is now used for shoes.  Sherry then makes a bargain indicating she is aware that human skin is being supplied to them. I know might plot description is a bit choppy, but I imagine that is quite appropriate.
Tien and the soon to be skinned Wendy
The plot continues as some poor schmuck tries to blackmail Sherry...guess how that goes. There is lots of skinning and dissection in this film, but also lots of misogyny, humiliation, and rape. DICK WEI as the captain has two babe policewomen who are quite proficient with Kung Fu and they go toe to toe with a small army equipped with machine guns and grenades...yes! Will Sherry's rape, humiliation and beatings spell doom and skinning for more Asian men and women? Will Dick Wei and his cop-babes get in a war with the unstable Sherry? For gratuitous Asian grind-house, "Horrible High Heels," directed by Wai On Chan and Cheng Chow, beckons you.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Axe Murders of Villisca, Carnage in Iowa

Axe murders! Ghosts! Possessions! Welcome to the Moore residence in Villisca, Iowa. In 1912 lots of nice people were chopped up there.  Today the chopped up refuse to remain silent, much to the horror and peril of some great looking teens. By the way, if you want to go see the Moore residence, tours are still given...really.  Before you take the tour, however, be warned, the dead may have plans for you once you step through the door...hence 2016's "The Axe Murders of Villisca" directed by Tony E. Valenzuela.
Denny, Caleb, and Jess take the tour
In 1912, Reverend Kelly (Sean Whalen) took an axe and butchered the occupants of the Moore residence in Iowa. Why? Three teens aim to find out.  Caleb (Robert Adamson), Denny (Jarrett Sleeper), and Jess (Alex Frnka) are three very likable youths who have been delegated to outcast/freaks by their high school mates.  Each has made wrong decisions or endured great tragedy, but Caleb and Denny run a paranormal investigation show on YouTube. When the beautiful and daring Jess joins them the trio heads to the Moore residence in Villisca, Iowa. They take the tour, but the teens want more information. Jess has a weird otherworldly contact while in the structure, inspiring the trio to sneak back into the home at nightfall and conduct a seance with their cameras rolling...always a great idea...after all, what could go wrong?
Reverend Kelly
Possession and ghosts...malignant ghosts, I might add...rule the second half of the film. Remember Reverend Kelly? He appears to be back. The sultry Jess appears to have a connection to Lena (Madison Lawlor). Oh Lena? She was Kelly's underage object of forbidden desire...before he axed her.  As Kelly and other ghosts possess and try to kill off our trio, another ill-equipped force enters the haunted house. As our three protagonists look to be no match for the paranormal menace, Jess just may have an unexpected ally.
Caleb, Jess, and their new friend
Will our outcasts overcome  this challenge from the other side?  Is Reverend Kelly's desire for teenage girls the end for Jess?  Will the Moore residence in Villisca, Iowa pass Disney for America's number one tourist destination because of this film?  Mr. Adamson, Ms. Frnka, and Mr. Sleeper are fantastic and portray the three teens masterfully. We like this trio from the outset and plead with the screen that they survive the ghosts and axes.  Available on Netflix, enjoy three dynamic young actors in "The Axe Murders of Villisca."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Endless Way, Path to Horrific Torment

Sure, "Godzilla" had a big monster destroying Tokyo. The makers of that monster film saw the real horror as, not a big dinosaur, but the emerging nuclear age. Great horror films are scary, not because of the monsters, or the vampires, or the demons, but because they have a connection to real aspects of our existences. So many of our friends are living through real horror stories that would dwarf the scariest films we watch on the silver screen. Jake Ryan's "Endless Way" is a horror short with an ominous feel that so many of you will recognize before the final reveal.
An average Joe (Tyler Aucoin) starts off on a routine journey...or so it seems. Our stroller isn't at all average (who among us is?), and like anyone else, his demons are only masked temporarily.  However confident and sure he is, Tyler Aucoin's character shuts off all voices of wisdom and sensibility (played by Norman Aucoin...you'll see) and presses on, deeper into the woods. What happens next happens so many times in the circles we kick around in. Those hidden demons don't stay hidden, and as our walker will find out, come charging with a vengeance and deadly spirit.
This short horror film by Mr. Ryan and starring Mr. Aucoin lasts five minutes but is a hard-hitting metaphor for the plight of someone battling addiction.  Our film makers are quite right to create a metaphor for the victims of addiction in the form of a horror movie. An addict is battling demons and monsters, usually more scary and deadly than any antagonist in the slasher films we watch. To view "Endless Way" just click on this link Endless Way on YouTube
If you or someone you know battles addiction, get help. For help, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Seventh Curse, How to Defeat the Evil Worm Tribe

I always told my children, "...in order to defeat the evil blood curses you could sprinkle Buddha dust and bathe in lizard's blood...or you could just shoot a rocket launcher...if one's available." From Hong Kong we examine 1986's "The Seventh Curse." If you liked Robo Vampire as much as I did, and I know you did, treat yourself to an epic ripped right out of today's headlines with our film today.
Huh Lung, Dr. Yuan Chen, and Tsai-Hung
As our story begins we are at a dinner party with the Miss Asia contestants. This scene has nothing to do with our story so we will not mention it again. From there we see a daring raid on a criminal organization complete with lots of machine-gun fights and explosions.  Alas, this scene has little to do with our story, so we will move on. Dr. Yuan Chen (Siu-Ho Chin) traveled to Thailand last year and happened upon the Worm Tribe. Unfortunately for him he befriended the beautiful and naked Betsy (Sau-Lai Tsui). Lesson to all you explorers out there...do not fall in love with a babe slated to be a tribe's next virginal sacrifice to their evil god. He rescues Betsy as Old Ancestor, a skeleton fiend, is awakened and must battle this thing and his little worm ghost (don't ask) in order to free Betsy. He does free the babe, but an evil sorcerer (Elvis Tsui) places a curse upon him before he flees back to Hong Kong.
Old Ancestor
A year has passed and not all is well. Betsy is horribly disfigured and due to be fed to Old Ancestor once again and the blood curse has begun in Yuan's body. Yuan must travel back to Thailand before all his blood vessels burst, figure out how to end the curse, and save Betsy.  Uh oh...Betsy has a beau...the Thai hunk Huh Lung (Dick Wei). Not to fear, a pesky but sultry reporterette, Tsai-Hung (Maggie Cheung) joins Yuan. This trio will wage war against the worm tribe, battle Old Ancestor and little ghost, and eventually the slimy Alien-look-a-like god. Lots will die, and romance will be stirred. Ancient Buddhist elixirs and rocket launchers will be called upon to battle the slithery opposition.
Little Ghost
Are naked virginal sacrifices worth any of this trouble?  Were rocket launchers the primary factor in the bankruptcy of the Buddhist Herb and Elixir industry? Will Betsy get her looks back and will our beautiful reporterette find enough charm to land Dr. Yuan Chen? "The Seventh Curse" was directed by Ngai Choi Lam and throws lots of gore and worm effects at you. This is a perfect film to set up "Robo Vampire," which hit the screens two years later.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

She Freak, Grotesque Carnival Tale

From our friends at Something Weird Video comes a re-imagining of Tod Browning's "Freaks." Actually, not much is re-imagined here, but this one is in color and a bit more gratuitous. 1967's "She Freak" will not surprise anyone who saw the 1932 horror classic, but if you haven't, the concept put forth is horrific and a bit taboo, even today. We're so brilliant and sensitive today that we no longer have to worry about the carnage put forth in this film...or do we?
Jade
She's beautiful and has an attitude...and not a good one. Jade (Claire Brennan) is too good for any redneck in her town and feels entitled to a better life. The sultry waitress believes she catches a break when the carnival comes to town. Ah the carnival life...travel and lots of sweaty hunks around...what woman could want anymore?  Okay, as far as ambition goes, hers is...well...limited. She gets a job waiting tables at the carnival and because she is so pretty and shapely, she is dangerous.  Her only friend is stripper, Moon (Lynn Courtney) and Moon tells her about all the eligible guys.  Jade sets her sight on Steve (Bill McKinney), who runs the freak show, but has his own car and vacations in the off-season.
Jade and Moon
While repeatedly visiting Blackie (Lee Raymond), the Ferris-wheel operator for pre-marital sex, she seduces Steve to marry her. Now Jade has cash, but is disgusted by the noble sorts who make up the freak show.  The ugly and deformed repulse her, and she waits for an opportunity to get rid of them. Moon reminds her God made them that way for a reason, but to Jade...well...ugly just isn't anything she will tolerate.  Jade continues to plot and she does it well.. Murder and intrigue follow, but when she incurs the wrath of the freaks...you'll see.
She Freak
Freaks are God's creatures. Some of them are made by God and some are made by man.  What horrific fate awaits the arrogant and cruel beauty?  Just how does man make a freak? Has the disappearance of carnival freak shows really signaled a maturing of our civilization?  This is classic Something Weird Video fare, and a very uncomfortable viewing experience.  For some neat scares, and gratuitous behavior, see "She Freak."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Die! Sitter! Die!, Another Pretty Babysitter Tormented

We all remember the plight of the perky Laurie Strode in John Carpenter's "Halloween." The prudent babysitter was put upon (...understatement, indeed!) by psycho monster-man, Michael Myers. The next decade would feature scores of slasher films in which pretty teenage sitters were tormented by insaniacs with large edged-weapons.  "Halloween" however did not have an exclamation point in the title.  Today's feature, the 26 minute short, "Die! Sitter! Die!" has three exclamation points! Laurie Strode was fortunate, she only had to fend off a standard slasher. When the title has three exclamation points...well you'll see the horror, torture, and humiliation that follows.
We instantly like Alison (Caitlyn Reilly). She's pretty, and going through a rough time. Debt is beating her. Student loans and her mom's chemotherapy treatments have her in a financial hole and very vulnerable. Seconds into the film, we the viewer realize that an ominous horror has engulfed her community. Oh no! Alison is too occupied with her seemingly helpless plight to realize that she needs to be careful.  The vulnerable beauty, needing money, too easily accepts an offer to babysit an infant.
In too much financial trouble to care, Alison accepts the gig for that same night. The horror starts immediately. As she arrives at a cavernous mansion, only seconds pass before the torture and humiliation are dished out on her.  The evil responsible is a grotesque bundle of insanity and sadism.
Alison will be bloodied, bruised, and manipulated by this ominous thing. Her chance of survival is nil. But wait! Remember Alison is desperate.  As more torture, mental anguish, and humiliation are heaped on her, Alison reaches for something deep in her soul...the will to fight back.
I'm not gonna reveal what waited for Alison in this mansion, but when you see this menace, you will be shocked.  Lee Boxleitner, who also directed this film with his brother Sam, also stars...and he is ten times more repulsive than Michael Myers.  The gore is intense, and scenes of disgusting humiliation are hard to look at, but fans of shocking horror will love "Die! Sitter! Die!" Kudos to Ms. Reilly, as her portrayal of a desperate Alison have us really praying that she will somehow prevail over the torment heaped on her. To see this shocker, click on the link below.
Die! Sitter! Die! on YouTube

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Samurai Princess, When Beauty Dissects Her Enemies

What can be more peaceful to a soul than being ushered into Heaven with all your sins erased to sit with Buddha? How about turning into a devil and tracking down those responsible for your torture and humiliation and then tearing out their internal organs? Now that would give a meeting with Buddha a run for its money! Thus is the plight of a beautiful Japanese lady in 2009's "Samurai Princess."
Aino Kishi plays the title role. Before she is the Samurai Princess, she and ten of her beautiful friends are attacked, tortured, humiliated, raped, and cut into little pieces by a murderous gang of Mechas. What is a Mecha? Half human, half machine. Mechas grow appendages that tend to have lots of blades and rotors and rip through human flesh.  A mad scientist finds the pile of body parts that used to be 11 stunning damsels. Surprise! One is still alive...though in several pieces. The survivor is asked if she wants her soul cleansed so she can be with Buddha. No way! Why sit in Heaven when you can become a Mecha and track down those responsible for your dissection?
Hence, the Samurai Princess is created,,,infused with the body parts and souls of the 11 murdered ladies. The princess begins her hunt and absolutely annihilates those responsible for the aforementioned travesty. The violators are easy to find, they have really large...how shall I say it...let's just say they have large Sonny Chibas protruding from their groins. Our Princess has a more ambitious goal than just the Mechas with big Sonny Chibas...her ultimate goal is to puree the mad scientist who creates Mechas. Getting to him will not be easy, as he has crafted a monster Mecha ten times deadlier than any he has created before to guard him.

Does a being infused with the souls of 11 women need blades and rotors to be a nightmare for any man? Is "Samurai Princess" a metaphor for Japan's patriarchal mistreatment of the feminine spirit? Is Samurai Princess' ability to shred the Sonny Chibas of male Mechas a symbol for a simmering rage hidden inside Japanese women? Gory and blood splattered, "Samurai Princess" is unrelenting in the carnage it throws at you. Whether an important piece of social commentary for Japan, or a good old fashioned gore-fest, enjoy "Samurai Princess" however you wish.

Friday, August 4, 2017

House on Willow Street, When Home Invasions Go Bad

We've seen it. Schmucks with grand ideas. Oh sure!  Fool proof, nothing can go wrong...the mantra of fools. Determination and six months of careful planning will lead to skillful execution and success. In your dreams, that is!  Mr. Chaos always has to add in his two cents, and if he's busy...well, in 2016's "House on Willow Street," Satan himself will rear his ugly head.
Hazel (Sharni Vinson) leads a pathetic quartet of grown up foster kids. Leads them in what? Horrible injustices have left them scarred physically and mentally and now our team will execute a home invasion of the man responsible. After six months of careful planning, the team is set to act. In their minds no one will stop them from kidnapping the fiend's daughter, Kathryn (Carlyn Burchell) and hold her for a ransom of diamonds. Heavily armed they burst into the house.  Okay, here's a lesson for you future home invaders: If you get in too easily and your target's bedroom is adorned with satanic etchings...go rob a liquor store instead.  This is personal though, and Hazel, Ade (Steven John Ward), James (Gustev Gerdener) and Mark (Zino Ventura) have too much at stake.
Easy in...easy out.  Uh oh. Hazel attempts to phone and email Kathryn's dad. No answer. When Ade and James return to the house to figure out where the parents are, they find them. Yep, the family, and an ill-equipped Catholic priest have all been impaled with garden implements and drill bits. Very messy. Bigger problem: what tore apart the household is now chained in the quartet's hideaway. They kidnapped Kathryn all right, but it ain't really Kathryn anymore. The team now begins to understand the thing chained in their hideaway is a formidable demon looking to possess all four of them and conquer the world.  What follows will continue to be bloody and possession filled.
Gore and gratuitous possession scenes dominate "House on Willow Street." Sharni Vinson as an embittered sort bent on vengeance is fantastic, as are her co-stars. Will any of our quartet survive the wrath of the Prince of Darkness? Do failed exorcisms have a side benefit of deterring home invasions? Is this film a metaphor for the hopelessness of the common man's plight against the one-percenters?  Directed by Alastair Orr, "House on Willow Street" is an action packed horror film made in South Africa.  This film currently appears on Netflix.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Blood Song, Beach Blanket Slasher

Kane Hodder? Wimp! Robert Englund? Yawn! How about Gunnar Hansen?  Oh please!  Those guys just don't do it. For a real slasher, someone who's very name invokes fear into the minds of beautiful and nubile damsels, who better than...Frankie Avalon? Yes, that's right...Frankie Avalon!  We all remember when he chopped up Annette Funicello into five bloody pieces.  Now, the nubile damsel, you ask? Donna Wilkes!  You remember the lovely Donna Wilkes from "Jaws 2." She was the very cute teen with the quivering lip, the only one we didn't want the shark to eat.
Frankie Avalon
The criminally insane Foley (Avalon) murders an orderly and escapes from the nut house.  The perky Marion (Wilkes), a high school student, is recovering from a bad leg injury which has her saddled with a large leg brace. Foley is drawn to seek out Marion, who has nightmares in which she psychically witnesses all of Foley's kills. Because of her dreams, Marion knows Foley is heading her way, but no one believes her.  On his way to Marion's town, Foley meets a a nice young man and a very beautiful hitchhiker...he slaughters them both.
Donna Wilkes
As Foley reaches town, Marion pleads with her boyfriend, to believe her. He doesn't, but she likes to make out with him so he tolerates her rantings. Our insaniac will use an ax, his hands, and a hatchet to murder his way to the perky Marion who is in no condition to run away.  With her lower lip quivering, just like in "Jaws 2," Donna Wilkes will be pursued an cornered by Frankie Avalon. Steadying her lower lip, Donna Wilkes will find fight deep inside her belly that she never knew she had and for the first time, Frankie Avalon will have to work for this kill.
An unfortunate hitchhiker
What is the link between Marion and Foley which draws him to her? Will our damsel and insaniac breakout in song and swimsuits? Did all the time Frankie Avalon spent with Annette Funicello drive him to murderous rage?  The kills are quite gory and when the end credits roll you will have seen a very dark slasher film.  Directed by Alan J. Levi, "Blood Song" is a surprisingly horrific thriller given the cast.