Sunday, June 29, 2014

100 Feet, The Ghost and Famke Janssen

I first saw 2008's "100 Feet" on the Syfy Channel, and then last week on Netflix.  A violent ghost story in which Famke Janssen ("Deep Rising") plays a woman who killed her abusive husband in self-defense, only to have to defend herself from his ghost.  Born in The Netherlands, the former Chanel model studied literature in college (as did I).  Captivating in all of her screen roles, including this one, even though her character in "100 Feet" is un-glamorous and rough around the edges.  This film serves as a metaphor for unhealed scars of abused women, and Janssen's portrayal is magnificent as a scared and angry victim.
As our story begins, Marnie (Janssen) has just been released from prison. She served two of three years for manslaughter.  Her final year of the sentence will be served in her home under house arrest, wearing an ankle bracelet.  If she steps over 100 feet from the monitoring device, centrally located in her Brooklyn brownstone, the NYPD will be alerted.  Her victim?  Mike (Michael Pare), her husband, a NYPD cop.  Mike beat her several times and in self defense, she killed him.  Mike's partner, Shanks (Bobby Cannavale) is determined to make sure Marnie doesn't leave her house. Shanks and Mike were partners, and he doesn't believe the self-defense story.  Not long after arriving home, Marnie gets to work removing the blood stain from a wall.....but wouldn't you know it?  The stain keeps reappearing.  Strange noises and creaking floorboards also serve to unnerve Marnie.  Then one day, Mike's ghost (see photo below) appears and beats up Marnie.  Seeing Marnie bruised and battered, Shanks starts to believe Marnie may not be the fiend he thought she was.  
Ostracized by her old neighbors (all of them loved Mike), Marnie makes a friend.  The beautiful outcast makes a connection with an 18 year old delivery boy, Joey (Ed Westwick).  He is handsome, sensitive, caring, and about to be turned into a hairy blob of strawberry ice cream by Mike.  As Mike's attacks on Marnie increase in intensity, and the bruises get more severe, Shanks pleads with her to tell him exactly what is going on.  No fool is she, Marnie knows no one would believe her story about the ghost.  Unable to resist each other Joey and Marnie have a night of passion.  Hopefully it was worth it for Joey, as Mike is waiting for him when he awakes.  In front of Marnie, Mike twists Joey in the most unnatural positions, and ensures the death is torturous and bloody...a message for Marnie.  As the exciting, and horrifying conclusion approaches, Marnie tries over and over again to rid her home of Mike....never successfully.
Will Marnie survive her year under house arrest?  With Joey turned into meatloaf, will Shanks take the opportunity to move in on his dead partner's widow?  This is a violent ghost story, and at times the beatings inflicted on Marnie are difficult to watch.  "100 Feet" is a good one with scares, suspense, and the beautiful Famke Janssen.  There is a scene containing Hitchcockian suspense concerning a garbage disposal that will have you turning your head.  Next time you access Netflix, select "100 Feet," and get ready for a really scary ghost story.   

Friday, June 27, 2014

Uninvited, The Loose Coeds vs. the Kitty Cat

Two nymphomaniac coeds on spring break in Fort Lauderdale may not appear to you as ingredients for an effective horror story...but wait.  Throw in a cute kitty cat, a couple of beefy college kids, a perverted rich guy who wants sex, and a grouchy George Kennedy....yep, now we have the stuff nightmares are made of. As much fun as 1988's "Uninvited" is, the blood, guts, severed body parts, and ominous settings are not sacrificed.  Though this movie is heavy on the coeds, Suzanne (Shari Shattuck) and Bobbie (Clare Carey), dancing in bikinis, finding any occasion to shed those bikinis, and acquiring intimacy from anyone available, these are not reasons to categorize this film as mindless trash.
  Deep in the bowels of a top secret genetics laboratory, a test cat  escapes.  This tabby rips through 18 scientists, guys in containment suits, and security guards during it's getaway.  No ordinary house cat, this one has an inner-self...literally.  When it attacks, out of its mouth comes a ferocious mutant cat-thing (see photo below) with a venomous bite and bad attitude.  After the attack, it crawls back into it's "shell" and resumes it's identity has a cute pet.  While this is occurring, Bobbie and Suzanne are being thrown out of hotels as every one is overbooked.  Billionaire Walter Graham (Alex Cord) drools when he sees Bobbie (both pictured above) and invites these babes to spend their break on his luxury yacht.  The girls accept and bring dates with them including Corey (Rob Estes from "Silk Stalkings") and brainiac Martin (Eric Larsen).  The monster cat is also heading in the same direction, attacking car thieves and schmucks along the way.  At the dock, Suzanne takes pity on this stray feline (ignoring it's collar from a genetics lab) and brings the fiend on board.
Also on the ship is Rachel (Toni Hudson).  This cutie used to own the boat until Walter stole it in a financial scheme.  In fact, the SEC is about to close in on Walter for stealing from his corporations and moving the money offshore.  Thus the yacht is headed to the Grand Cayman Islands.  Walter wants sex with Bobbie and the fact that Bobbie sun bathes a lot and does aerobics in a half nude state make Walter very determined.  Mike is Walter's muscle and he yells at the girls a lot and tries to ruin everyone's fun.  While Bobbie does aerobics, Walter tries to rape her.  This sets off a fight which results in Mike (George Kennedy) firing his gun.  Sensing danger, the cat changes into the monster and starts biting people.  First it bites two of Walter's men (including Mike), and they die tortuous deaths as their veins explode.  Now the cat is on the prowl, and it's venom contaminates the food and water on the yacht.  Now the hunted, our not too bright villains and coeds try to kill this thing before it gets them.  As the days at sea without food and water weaken our crew and passengers, will these beauties and hunks fend off an amorous Walter, and kill the cat?  As the cast is killed off one by one, Rachel and Martin emerge as the only level heads aboard.
As the yacht, now contaminated, drifts off course, will our babes live to see another spring break?  Director Greydon Clark ("Satan's Cheerleaders") knows his biggest asset in this film are the female members of the cast, and the viewer never has to look long to get a good view of them.  Shattuck and Carey turn in very enjoyable performances, and are perfect as damsels in much peril.  Yeah...the creature might not be Alien or Predator, but this cat does provide the means for much gore.  Widely available, and in good quality, on YouTube, "Uninvited" is a lot of fun and beats any Harrison Ford film over the past 30 years.   

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beyond the Grave, The Walking Dead of Brazil

In Brazil, they are not "walkers," rather "returners."  The Brazilian term may be a bit too contrived, but they do play better football (soccer) than we do.  2010's "Beyond The Grave" mixes elements of "The Walking Dead," "Mad Max," and Lucio Fulci films to give us a moody zombie film, where as in any good zombie film, the zombies are not the main villains.  The real villain in this film is evil....pure satanic evil.  To make matters a bit more intriguing, our protagonist (Rafael Tombini) is a police officer with a souped up black car, who is almost as evil as  the force he is hunting.  The post-apocalyptic setting will remind you more of "The Road Warrior" than a George Romero film, though zombies are omnipresent.
As our film begins, the officer is travelling through Brazil with files of criminals.  In the post-apocalyptic landscape, not a whole lot of people are around.  Those who have survived are quickly falling prey to a serial killer who kills in really disgusting ways.  The officer finds the hide-out and shoots to death three of the killer's henchmen, and then the fiend (who is armed with a samurai sword).  Uh oh, not the typical mortal, this fiend's evil soul can jump into another body upon death.  Even after killing his arch enemy, the officer knows he must search for it again.  On his travels he "befriends" and picks up a really clean-cut man and woman.  There job is to stay in the car as he examines gory crime scenes.  If "returners" approach...our couple warns him.  With each new crime scene, the officer realizes he is getting closer.  In addition to body parts, he also finds pentagrams and signs of devil worship.  
As the officer and his tow new friends find more crime scenes, they come across three people hiding in a school.  The setting is a safe one, and these three (a wise man, a pregnant woman, and a jerk) are content to wait out the zombie apocalypse (good move).  However, the number of returners is increasing and our trio continue their patrol.  When they meet up with evil next, it is in the form of a beautiful cowgirl (straight out of a spaghetti western) and her two henchmen.  Their weapons are supernatural and made out of bones.  As the good guys then fall in very blood curdling ways, the officer realizes that the real secret in fighting this devil is with more evil.  He then consults the Brazilian version of the Necronomicon, and the fight is on.
Fans of any of the genres mentioned above (including spaghetti westerns) will enjoy this film.  The tone is ominous throughout.  Fans of horror will recognize elements of "The Exorcist," "The Evil Dead," and "Zombie" in this work.  Eschewing any humor, this film will come close to creeping you out.  If you are feeling sophisticated and elitist (...or want people to think you are), or want to impress guests at cocktail parties, see "Beyond the Grave," and drink (sip) an expensive Shiraz.      


Monday, June 23, 2014

Black Zoo, Jungle Carnage comes to L.A.

1963's "Black Zoo" is a little seen jewel, and a demented version of "Dr. Doolittle."  Over-the-top performances by Tony Award winner Michael Gough and Jeanne Cooper as an English couple running a small zoo in the middle of Los Angeles are all too appropriate as they are often acting opposite chimps, lions, and tigers.  With the modern day controversies surrounding the treatment of confined animals in our zoos, perhaps "Black Zoo" serves as a warning, and allows us to rethink our treatment of them.  Or perhaps "Black Zoo" is a man versus nature flick set in a developing urban setting.
As our story begins, the very lovely Mary (Warrene Ott) is mauled by a tiger (see above) in the middle of L.A., while walking home.  Apparently Mary was snooping around too much at her job at Conrad's Animal Kingdom.  Michael Conrad (Gough) runs this zoo and he is very protective of his animals.  As L.A. grows, the city counsel is re-zoning major portions of it so more residential homes can be built.  When Conrad is approached by a seedy developer who tries to blackmail him into selling his zoo to him, Conrad visits him at his home with a lion.  The police are baffled as now they have two wild animal attacks in L.A.  Meanwhile, Edna (Cooper) is Conrad's abused wife.  She has an outstanding chimp show which would horrify the modern viewer.  You see, the act culminates with a chimp lighting and smoking a cigarette.  The zoo features big cats (a lion, tiger, two cheetahs, and a black leopard).  Claiming to love the animals more than humans, Conrad in reality is exploiting them to his evil ends.  When one of his workers abuses the tiger, the tiger claws him.  The unfortunate miscreant then shoots the tiger to death, and is then thrown to the lion by Conrad.  What happens next is most eerie....a night time funeral for the tiger attended by the Conrads', their mute zoo hand, and the other large cats.
Depressed at his loss, Conrad goes to "church."  Not your ordinary church.  Church of "The True Believers" is a bunch of animal worshipers who do a ceremony to put the deceased tiger's soul into a cub (see above).  His so-called love for animals is not matched with love for Edna.  In some hard to watch scenes, Conrad physically abuses Edna.  Edna reaches her tipping point and talks with Jenny Brooks (Virginia Grey) an agent and accepts an offer to bring her chimp act to the country's largest circus.  Unfortunately for Jenny, Conrad is not keen on letting his wife leave, so as Jenny drives into her driveway, she is met by a gorilla (see below).  The LAPD now have three murders, which they know about, and put all their resources on the case.  Kudos to the LAPD who state that the animals are not to blame and are hunting for a deranged animal trainer.  In fact, at no time in "Black Zoo" do we see the animals as monsters, as Conrad emerges as a demented fiend. 
As the LAPD accumulate more clues, Edna realizes what is going on.  Will Edna be able to escape her mad husband and his cats?  What is the secret relationship between Conrad and his mute employee?  Gough is terrific as a mad fiend.  He socializes with his cats in his study while playing his pipe organ.  Realizing that the modernization of L.A. does not have room for a family owned zoo, Conrad starts coming apart.  Unfortunately for some of the citizens, he uses a very unique weapon (his animals) to strike out.  See "Black Zoo."  This is an effective horror film which avoids painting the animals as monsters, instead focuses on an abusive handler.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kiss of the Damned, Sophisticated Vampires

Everything about 2012's "Kiss of the Damned" exudes Euro-horror.  Stylish, elitist, classical music, sipping expensive wine instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon, accents, manners, and tasteful lingerie indicate this movie has an air of sophistication about it.  Filmed in New York, writer and director Xan Cassavetes does a masterful job keeping her film relevant to the widest range of viewers.  In addition to very attractive characters, she even throws in a scene where Elvis Presley's real life granddaughter (Riley Keough) is drained of blood by by the most sophisticated of bloodsuckers.
As our story begins, Djuna (Josephine de la Baume) lives alone in a Long Island mansion.  She translates poetry for a living, and watches VHS tapes of old love stories.  She is a vampire, and for the most part stays away from humans.  Her life gets complicated when she meets Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) while returning tapes to the video store.  They fall in love, and he ends up back at her mansion.  She confesses her vampirism to him and tells him they could never be together.  At first she told him she had a rare skin condition and could not go out in daylight...which guy has not heard that line before?  She proves it to him by having him chain her to the bed while she grows her teeth (see above picture).  This turns him on, and he allows her to change him into a vampire so they can be with each other forever.  The transition is smooth as Djuna creates a home office for Paolo (a semi-successful screenwriter) in the mansion.  The two sip wine or blood together, have a lot of sex, and do all sorts of sophisticated things together.  Uh oh.....a surprise visitor.  Mimi (Roxanne Mesquida) arrives and announces she is staying a week.  Also a vampire, hardly sophisticated, Mimi is on her way to Phoenix to go to a vampire rehab because her thirst for blood has gotten too severe.  After all, the first step to wellness is admitting you have a problem, for this we need to applaud Mimi.
Mimi and Djuna do not get along.  Mimi is a semi-Goth who is into partying and threesomes, and biting any guy who comes onto her.  Her free will alarms Djuna as she believes Mimi's behavior will bring undue attention to the secret vampire community.  As impulsive as Mimi is, she might be the smartest bloodsucker this side of the sod.  She continues partying, and brings some of her victims back to the mansion for orgies before eating them.  She even is able to seduce Paolo in the shower.  The queen of the vampires is even victimized by Mimi.  Xenia (Anna Mouglalis) , an actress, is determined to send Mimi to Phoenix, but Mimi wants the beautiful life in New York City.  Taking advantage of every vampire's hunger, Mimi strategically places Elvis Presley's granddaughter in Xenia's apartment at feeding time, and Xenia can't resist. (see picture below).  To cover up this embarrassing lack of judgment, Xenia enlists Mimi's help.  As Djuna and Paolo go to elite vampire parties and discuss human-vampire relations, Mimi plots.  
For us the viewer, even though Mimi is the villain, we kind of cheer for her.  Djuna, Paolo, and Xenia would have nothing to do with us.....but Mimi?  Mimi seems like the sort who would have a Moosehead or Blue Moon with us...and then drink our blood.  What is Mimi's overall plan?  Will Djuna and Paolo ever loosen up?  As the final 30 minutes hit, subtle twists occur which cast doubt on the sophistication and refinement of Djuna.  Is Mimi really the evil one?  The ending is unusual but satisfying.  The acting is terrific and the musical score is truly outstanding.  Xan Cassavetes writing and directing is magnificent.  See "Kiss of the Damned" and feel free to have Heineken or Hoegaarden with it to enhance the European flavor of this work.    

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Naked Weapon, Maggie Q Sultry Assassin

From Hong Kong, today's movie is 2002's "Naked Weapon."  Filled with beautiful assassins, explosions, martial arts, gun fights, international intrigue, and seductions, this film delivers on so many fronts.  Maggy Q ("Priest" and "Nikita") delivers a terrific performance as a sexy assassin trained to kill using sex appeal.  Fast paced throughout, "Naked Weapon" never goes ten seconds without a fight, a killing, a seduction, or an explosion.  Madam M (Almen Wong) sums up the strategy of her assassins with this, "Your body no longer belongs to is your greatest weapon.  You must be willing to please a man no matter how vile...because a man's happiest moment is also his weakest."
 As our story begins a very sultry Asian assassin (Marit Thoresen) posing as a prostitute gains entry into a penthouse hotel suite (see above photo) in Rome.  After she is searched, and no weapons are found, she takes out a gangster and about a dozen of his security detail.  As she flees the scene, a surviving henchman takes her out with a bazooka.  What a beginning!  With her assassin blown up, Madam M kidnaps 40 teen-aged girls, brings them to her island.  When little girls suggest they want their mommies, they are machine gunned in front of their horrified peers.  Over the next six years, the girls are trained in firearms, martial arts, posture and cat walking, cosmetology, killing with bare hands, and wine tasting (see below photo).  As their six year training ends, Madame X gives these darlings, now young women, their first assignment....kill the girl next to you.  They do, and 40 students instantly become 20.  Then the final assignment, a cage fighting tournament with machetes, where only one will survive.  The humanitarian that Madame M is, she relents and allows three to survive.  The three survivors are Charlene (Maggy Q), Katt (Anya), and Jing (Jewel Lee).  At a celebration dinner, the three women, in evening gowns are drugged by Madame M and then are gang raped by their instructors.  This is where Madame M utters the quote in the above paragraph.
  The three are then sent on jobs, and Charlene finds herself in Spain to eliminate a Russian mobster.  She gains entry impersonating a prostitute and uses a combination of a Flamenco and a pole dance to bring down his guard.  She kills him and several of his guards, but is almost killed in the getaway.  Fortunately, her pal, Katt is nearby, and saves her.  Unbeknownst to her, CIA agent Jack Chen (Daniel Wu) is on her tail.  Chen follows Charlene to Hong Kong and makes contact with her mom, who has not seen her daughter in over six years.  Both Chen and her mom witness Charlene's next hit and begin pursuing her.  As Chen chases her and meets her, the two become sweet on each other.  As Charlene is giving the opportunity to free herself from Madam M's service, she agrees to do one more hit.  Unfortunately for Charlene and Katt (see below photo), they are headed into a deadly trap by someone who wants them to meet torturous deaths.
As Charlene desires to return to her mother and romance Chen, Katt also desires a virtuous future.  Of course, this won't be easy for the two friends as a creepy villain has bloody plans for them.  Will Charlene earn her freedom and marry Chen, a government employee with good health insurance?  Does Madam M really intend to let her and Katt out of their obligations?  Maggy Q and Anya are very attractive and captivate us B Movie fans.  Bred as villains, our two protagonists convert into noble figures eschewing evil.  "Naked Weapon" is exciting, titillating, and violent.  Great martial arts scenes with enough chases and gunfights to keep us drooling, this is a must see!  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Dark, Wonder Woman and Casey Kasem

Before Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman, Cathy Lee Crosby performed as this superhero.  As the TV movie became a TV show, Carter took over, leaving Crosby looking for other work...which she found.  In addition to being with Joe Theismann for seven years, she did a lot of TV shows. Before Theismann (former Redskin quarterback) ruined her financially, she starred in a quirky 1979 horror yarn called "The Dark." This film features William Devane as a sad horror writer, Richard Jaeckel as a LAPD detective, Casey Kasem as a grouchy pathologist, and it was produced by Dick Clark.  Directed by John "Bud" Cardos ("Kingdom of the Spiders") and a non-credited Tobe Hooper ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), "The Dark" is an effective B Movie which conjures up great images of the 1970s.
As our tale begins, a clean-cut, but cute, young lady is torn to shreds by an alien while strolling home from a late night movie.  The girl was the daughter of horror writer Steve Dupree (Devane).  Detective Mooney (Jaeckel) is on the case.  Coincidentally, he put Dupree away for three years after Dupree killed a man he found in bed with his wife.  Dupree wants to track down the killer and has no faith in Mooney's ability. Meanwhile, Zoe Owens (Crosby) is a TV news reporter who is sick of covering swimsuit shoots.  She nags at her producer, Sherm (Keenan Wynn), to allow her to cover this killing.  Sherm reminds Owens (the former Miss Pasadena Rose Garden) that the only reason she has viewers is that men are trying to figure out how to get into her pants.  Alas, the sexual harassment laws were not as strict in the 1970s.  The only lead in the case is a psychic named DeRenzy who claims to know the killer's (now nicknamed The Mangler) next victim.  The Mangler then decapitates a warehouse worker, a pretty stewardess, and a bar-hopping schmuck.  The alien is also equipped with eyes that shoot deadly laser beams, as our unfortunate stewardess discovered the hard way.
   The only leads to the killer's identity came from a grouchy coroner (Kasem).  He informs Mooney that the suspect has gray skin and has no blood (a zombie).  This hits the press and the city panics.  Zoe and Dupree meet and do not hit it off well, as the pretty reporterette blows him off.  No matter, their second meeting results in wine, soft jazz, kissing and intimacy.  Together they find the young actor who DeRenzy claims is the next victim, and follow him believing he will lead them to The Mangler.  Detective Mooney is following Dupree, so there is a venerable caravan heading to an exciting final confrontation at an abandoned L.A. monastery.
Will the very stylish and pretty Zoe Owens win an Emmy for her reporting on The Mangler?  Will she do it alive or posthumously?  Who will now cover swimsuit shoots now that Owens is otherwise assigned?  The movie has some interesting devices.   For example, when The Mangler is near, strange whispering is used as background noise.  This whispering seems to utter a Latin phrase and then the word "Daaaaaaaarkness." Crosby is beautiful, and her stylish wardrobes are very pleasing to the eye. "The Dark" never succeeded at the box office and to this day most horror aficionados have not seen it.  Good acting, menacing kills, a cool alien, and lots of great 1970s memories make "The Dark" a must see to all you B Movie fans.        

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Creatures From the Abyss, Nudity and Terror from Italy

Ever since seeing "Creature From the Black Lagoon," I have been enthralled with movies which have sea creatures.  Italian made "Creatures From the Abyss" from 1994, delivers lots of creepy monsters attacking and raping bikini clad (or nude) young women and their beaus. Though set in Miami (or off the coast of Miami), the acting and ornate sets ooze Italy.  This work also features a luxury state of the art bathroom which includes a video image of a beautiful woman encouraging whoever is showering to play with themselves, and a talking fish clock that insults anyone who passes by.
The plot: Margarith, Dorothy, and Julie (see above picture) and their boyfriends Mike and Bobby take a motorized dinghy straight into the Atlantic and run out of gas.  As a storm hits the girls panic and the guys spot a yacht in the distance.  As they paddle to this ship, they pass a half eaten crew member and realize the ship is named "Oceanographic Research Institute." Our quintet boards this derelict vessel and find it has been abandoned...or so they think.  In addition to discovering labs with experiments featuring toothy fish from the depths of the Atlantic, they find luxurious staterooms, suitable for premarital sex, and psychedelic furnished living areas.  Lots to do:  Julie (Ann Wolf) and Bobby (Michael Bon) want sex, and so does Dorothy (Laurie DiPalma).  Mike (Clay Rogers) and Margarith (Sharon Twomey) are the more clean-cut type.  Fortunately, Mike took a biology class in college, and pieces together the mystery behind the experiments in the labs.  When the girls fix dinner, the carnage begins.  Unfortunately the fish were contaminated with radioactive plankton. When the fish came back to life after being fried, the girls did not see this as a hint to make sandwiches instead.  Oh yes, the photo below, I challenge you to find anything remotely similar to it in cinematic history, and yes...that is a polar bear.
Dorothy gets really sick and vomits beetles an miniature sea creatures.  Bobby finds what he thinks is cocaine (radioactive plankton) and snorts it.  Meanwhile Mike discovers that the radioactive plankton make the toothy fish really horny rapists and the scientists, who are missing, were having sex with the fish.  If you have seen a lot of Roger Corman movies, you can probably guess what happens to the babes in this film.  As Mike figures out the mystery, he knows he must destroy the ship so as not to allow the experiments to reach Miami.  As the combination of their own libidos and deadly creatures doom some of the quintet, we are treated to some really gory and ambitious kills.
This film has some classic lines.  When one of the gals meets a horrible death, her boyfriend attempts to revive her.  He is then told, "Leave her alone, there is more p***y on the planet."  The acting is as you'd expect from a low-budget Italian horror film.  The creatures are imaginative and menacing.  Will Mike save the world?  Are the fates of the women in this film metamorphic of how an Italian masculine society treats it's females?  Did the polar bear, or that elongated statue have a vital role in that scene pictured above?  The answers to those questions will only be answered after you see "Creatures From the Abyss."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Berserker: Hell's Warrior, Viking Love

One of my favorite actresses over the past couple of decades is Kari Wuhrer (pictured below).  I still think she stole the show in "Anaconda" despite her early demise.  She was the only reason I watched Syfy channel's "Sliders." So today, we will look at 2004's "Berserker: Hell's Warrior" where she plays Brunhilda, the love interest of both Viking god Odin, and cursed warrior Barek (Paul Johansson).  Whenever a mortal goes up against a god, especially over a woman, you can imagine the carnage.
As the movie starts two Viking brothers are feuding over who will be the next king to unite all the clans.  Barek detests his prodigal brother Boar (Craig Scheffer) who has gone to the dark side and rebelled against the family.  As they initially make an unholy alliance, their dad (the present king) reneges on their bargain, thus defying Odin.  To make matters worse, the brothers both attempt to free Brunhilda, who has been chained for eternity by Odin.  Boar nearly dies in his efforts, but Barek succeeds, winning her love for eternity...and also Odin's wrath.  All the while there is some nice Viking carnage featuring big swords, decapitations, disembowelments, and lots of grunting.  Odin has also sent his vampire women demons to make life difficult. With Odin peeved, Barek is cursed to go through eternity fending off his brother who has been made into a berserker by Odin.  Over the next several centuries, Odin keeps sending Boar to hunt Barek.
Switch to present day, incarcerated in chains at the Stockholm Neuro Incarceration Unit is Barek.  The staff believes him dangerous because he thinks he is a Viking warrior cursed by Odin and lots of ripped apart bodies are always found in his vicinity.  Sweden can be such a judgmental country.  Fortunately, Barek's new shrink is Dr. Anja Green, clad in a white lab coat, high heels, and a leather mini-skirt....oh yes...she is also a reincarnation of Brunilda.  She orders his chains (see above picture) removed and then the present day carnage begins.  Odin sends Boar and Viking demons to hunt him down.  After making minced meat of the hospital staff, Boar pursues Barek to Anja's loft.  Anja and Barek are making up for lost time and become very intimate in her apartment which features a luxury bathroom with copper fixtures.  As Boar and his minions raid the building, the two flee....Anja's getaway outfit includes another leather mini-skirt and stiletto heels.  Her wardrobe is probably the reason Boar captures her and uses her as bait to lure his brother (see picture below).
As the inevitable final confrontation occurs, some surprise developments reveal themselves to Barek.  Is Anja/Brunhilda really devoted to Barek for eternity?  Exactly what is Odin's curse, and is Boar really Barek's foe?  Will the Vikings overtake the Bears this season in the NFC North?  With lots of action, beautiful vampire demons, sword carnage, and the lovely Kari Wuhrer, this film is sure to please.  Some Sunday during the football season, as the Vikings are battling in a typical commercial and turn-over filled football game, switch to Netflix and enjoy "Berserker: Hell's Warrior."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Abductors, Raunchy Sexploitation from the 1970s

The sub-genre of sexploitation has been in existence since silent movies.  In their era, these films pushed the proverbial envelope and eventually the sensibilities of either government or industry censors.  1972's "The Abductors" did just that, however, even in 2014, some accuse this movie of being pornography.  So-called social activists in the 1970s criticized these films as being demeaning to women and promoting misogyny. Cheri Caffaro, who stars as Ginger our heroine, believed that her portrayal actually empowered women.  Doing her own stunts, Caffaro's portrayal as a "female James Bond" often overpowered men, and used sex to demean the male villains.  Caffaro currently lives in L.A. and raises bees.  Shot in New Jersey, heavy on nudity, rape, torture, and carnal relations, I'll let you make up your own mind on "The Abductors."
The Abductors kidnap beautiful young women (usually beauty pageant winners and cheerleaders), break their will, then sell them as "mistresses in bondage" to very wealthy bald guys.  As the movie opens three cheerleaders (see above photo) are abducted from their car, beaten, forced to strip, and tied up.  They are brought to a house where they are humiliated and brainwashed.  Disobedience, as showed by our pageant winner, results in painful torture.  Ginger (see below photo) is put on the case.  As she starts nosing around the area where the girls were abducted, she befriends Ken, a handsome advertising executive (Richard Smedley).  Ginger realizes that all the girls had newspaper publicity just before their abductions.  A beautiful detective from L.A., Carter Winston (Laurie Rose) is then employed to act as an actress on vacation.  Ginger believes that she will then become a target of the mysterious gang.  
Unfortunately for Carter, Ginger is right.  The abductors grab her from her hotel room and get away before Ginger can help.  As Carter's will is broken, Ginger goes on the offensive and turns the tables on this gang. Ginger grabs one of the abductors and does the same to him.  Now Ginger knows all about her foes, but the abductors then grab Ginger.  Together, Carter and Ginger, are then prepped as the other victims were (see below photo).  Unfortunately for Ginger, she was betrayed by Ken, who is one of the top abductors, in a most embarrassing fashion.  Ginger escapes, but Carter is not so fortunate.  Ginger then plots a final assault on her tormentors, but can she get them before the victims and Carter are sold into humiliating bondage?
"The Abductors," degrading to women, or empowering?  Caffaro, an advocate of martial arts training for women, is adamant that this work portrays women, ultimately, in a powerful light.  Are the critics of this film sage, or prudes?  One may also argue that the treatment of women in this film is metamorphic of how our civilization views women.  The discussion points are endless, but be careful where you bring up this discussion.  The acting is good, the dialog is witty, and our female stars are captivating.  Whether you make an effort to see this work........entirely up to you.      

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Being, Always Check the Back Seat

Cardinal Rule #5 of avoiding a grisly death is "Always check the backseat before getting in the car."  In Idaho's most famous monster movie, a majority of the deaths could have been avoided by obedience to this piece of wisdom of the ages.  1983's "The Being" features a slimy humanoid creature, which used to be a young boy until a nuclear waste plant was put in Pottsville, Idaho.  As our cryptic narrator explains, "Ultimate terror has taken form and Pottsville, Idaho will never be the same."  This movie features Martin Landau, Jose Ferrer, Ruth Buzzi, and Dorothy Malone who have significant roles, not just cameos.
The plot: A young boy playing in a junk yard runs from some creature.  As he attempts to drive away, the Being emerges from the back seat and pulls the boy's head off.  Cut away to a drive-in.  Unbeknownst to an amorous teen-aged couple, the Being has sneaked into their car.  As they start displaying extreme affection toward each other, the Being emerges from the back seat and shreds them.  The Being also goes to a neighboring auto and rips the head off of a pot smoking redneck.  This is when our lazy hero shows up, Sheriff Lutz (Rexx Coltrane) and finds that a sticky green slime has been left at all of the crime scenes. Garson Jones (Landau), a government cover-up specialist arrives and assures everyone that dumping radioactive waste into the drinking water poses no threat to citizens.  He also diverts media attention to the dangers of pornography and urges everyone in town to join Ruth Buzzi's (the mayor's wife) campaign to keep smut out of Pottsville.
Sheriff Lutz, the boring, can't get the mayor (Jose Ferrer) to authorize an investigation into a radioactive-humanoid-slime-creature because the mayor does not want to jeopardize Pottsville's ability to export potatoes. Even after Lutz is almost killed by the Being in his own home, he still can't convince the mayor to buy off on a hunt.  Lutz then warns his main squeeze, a diner waitress named Laurie (Marianne Gordon) not to leave the diner before he gets there to walk her home.  She advises him that she gets off at 7:30 pm.  Unfortunately for Laurie, Lutz needs his beauty sleep and doesn't wake from his nap until midnight.  When he arrives, the two are then attacked by the Being  They both survive, and the Being escapes.  The Being then rips off Ruth Buzzi's head and shreds three anti-pornography protesters.  As Lutz joins forces with Jones, Laurie meets up with Marge (Dorothy Malone).  Marge tells Laurie that her son, who was reported missing after playing near the nuclear waste site, is the creature.
As Marge discovers the green slime in Marge's house, Lutz and Jones confront the Being, twice in the backseat of Lutz's vehicle.  The final confrontation is a bloody one with the big toothed Being always on the offense.  Will the lethargic and boring sheriff be able to generate enough oomph to fight this Being?  Is Garson Jones a metaphor for our government's desire to deceive and poison us?  Can the beautiful Laurie do any better than some bozo who shows up at a date almost five hours late?  "The Being" is fun, well acted, and the creature is cool.  Next time you eat a potato from Idaho, keep this flick in mind.  Remember, the U.S. Government claims the potatoes you eat are not radioactive.   

Saturday, June 7, 2014

BloodRayne: The Third Reich, Natassia Malthe vs. the Nazis

Today's feature is the third, and most erotic, BloodRayne movie.  Check out this blog last December 12th for the first one, and the second one on May 6th.  In 2011's "BloodRayne: The Third Reich," our favorite damphere (half woman, half vampire) takes on Hitler's army at "the eastern front of the apocalypse." Filmed in Croatia, in addition to Natassia Malthe as Rayne, this film is graced with some  fine supporting performances.  Michael Pare is terrific as the evil Commandant Brand, and Clint Howard as Dr. Mangler (a Dr. Mengele figure).  Most notable is Safiya Kaygin as Svetlana, a prostitute that betrays Rayne. Also, stay tuned to the final credits to hear Safiya sing "Never Let You Down," or find her singing this on YouTube.
The plot:  A Nazi train carrying Jews to a death camp is attacked by the resistance and Rayne.  The resistance wants weapons and Rayne wants to kill Nazis.  The attack is a success, apparently.  Rayne chases Commandant Brand into a boxcar and impales him with a metal rod.  As she does this, she then drains him of blood at the same time a Nazi soldier shoots her in the back, thus allowing Brand to ingest some of her blood.  Unbeknownst to Rayne, Brand comes back to life as a Nazi damphere.  Brand earns the attention of Dr. Mangler, who is summoned by Brand to coach him through his transition to the life of a bloodsucker.  Mangler and Brand (see photo below) then realize they need to capture Rayne and bring her to Berlin, feed Hitler her blood, thus making Hitler immortal.  On the way, Brand bites lots of soldiers, creating a vampire army.
At first Rayne is hesitant to to join forces with the resistance, but she gets real sweet on Nathaniel (Brendan Fletcher), their dashing young leader.  The resistance is quite capable with a dedicated core and a genius babe named Magda (Annette Culp) who can crack German codes.....unfortunately Brand captures her and turns her into one of the undead.  Uh oh....Brand is now a damphere and his ability to hunt them down is maximized.  Rayne is hiding out as the manager of a brothel, but when a jealous prostitute, Svetlana, realizes that Rayne's presence will bring heightened awareness from the Nazis, she goes to Brand and rats her out....then Brand turns her into a vampire.  It should be pointed out that the scenes with Rayne in the brothel lead to some very erotic moments in this film.  Brand, and his undead army are able to ambush the resistance and capture Rayne and Nathaniel.  Once captured, Brand hangs Rayne up (see picture below), feasts on her blood, making him really powerful, and allows Mangler to experiment with her.
Rayne and her soon to be lover, Nathaniel, are put on a truck caravan for Berlin.  As Rayne regains consciousness, she and Nathaniel share some passion, but not before Nathaniel takes some cautionary steps. His caution may suggest that he has been intimate with vampire's before.  The erotic scenes in the brothel, and Rayne's steamy love scene with Nathaniel will probably only appear in the unrated director's cut DVD.   With a small group of resistance fighters on the Nazis tail, will Rayne and Nathaniel be able to escape and overpower the evermore powerful Brand?  If you, like me, enjoyed the first two BloodRayne flicks, this one will have you cheering.  Natassia Malthe's performance is perfect, as a beautiful damphere with attitude.  Of course the gore is maximized, especially as Mangler conducts his experiments.  If you feel like viewing an entertaining movie, don't waste your time with "World War Z," see "BloodRayne: The Third Reich."    

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Intruder, Severed Limbs in Aisle Four...

Not the conventional venue for a horror film, but a supermarket is a choice setting for scares.  Sharp devices in the deli or butcher shop, endless aisles to get lost in, psycho moms with toddlers, and ever increasing prices are real concerns that can keep us up at night.  Unlike the freelance writer who lives in a NYC loft, the Tarot card reader, or the paranormal investigator, supermarket employees are real.  They work hard, struggle to make ends meet, often are taking university classes at night, and have to deal with an ungrateful public.  As protagonists, we can identify and sympathize with them. Thus 1989's "Intruder" gives us gory horror in an all too familiar setting.  Also, with product placement, "Intruder" serves as a scary commercial for Meister Brau beer.
Jennifer, played by Elizabeth Cox and pictured above ("Night of the Creeps") is a cashier at the Walnut Lake Market.  She needs her job and has an ex-boyfriend who just got released from prison for a killing.  Craig, the ex-con comes into the market at closing and accosts our fair cashier and slaps her around a bit.  He is thrown out by the staff, but vows to return.  At closing, the store manager and owner advises that they have sold the business and all the employees would need to find another job next month.  Craig meanwhile returns and attempts to break into the market, and eventually does gain access.  Craig is a known commodity as one employee recounts a story of when Craig attempted to kill him using a blender as a weapon.  As the employees shut the market down for the night, the gruesome murders begin.
Linda (Renee Estevez), Jennifer's friend and fellow cashier, is the first to get it.  On her way to her car, a huge knife penetrates her sternum.  The general manager is pushed face first into a spike which penetrates his brain through his eye.  Then Randy the butcher (Sam Raimi) gets a machete in the back of his cranium (see above picture).  If these aren't gory enough, that is not even half of them, and they do get gorier.  The corpses are not found, and Jennifer has no clue that a murderer is stalking her until the final third of the film.  In true 1980s style, our beautiful damsel in peril is then chased through the back corridors of the market, and through huge refrigerators, finding severed body parts along the way (many of them hanging on meat hooks).  Deli saws, trash compactors, hooks, and severed heads are all utilized as weapons by our psycho.
Is Craig the killer (you slasher movie fans know that would be too easy)?  The surprise ending will not disappoint as the dark reason for the carnage is revealed.  Watch closely for a cameo from Bruce Campbell as a cop.  Those of us who have worked in supermarkets will recognize the murder weapons as familiar tools of the grocery industry.  Those of you who have never worked in a supermarket will never view them the same way again after watching "Intruder."  


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Shock Labyrinth, More Creepiness from Japan

Being a huge fan of Japanese horror ensures that I will never get bored on Netflix.  That genre has terrific sub-genres.  This blog has featured exploitation horror from Japan (see this bolg's entry on "Mutant Girls Squad" on May 26) and creepy Japanese horror (see "Infection" on April 6).  Today's feature, in 3D, is of the creepy sort.  2009's "The Shock Labyrinth" features similarities to "Infection" such as dark and scary hospitals, and past sins causing angst and horror later on in life.  The acting and direction is fantastic, and Misako Renbutsu is terrific as the mysterious Yuki (see photo below).
What would a horror movie be without breaking one of my cardinal rules of staying alive: If you saw him/her die earlier...don't let them in when they knock on your door later.  Rin (Ai Maeda) is blind and alone in her apartment waiting for Mikoto (Ryo Katsuji) to bring Ken (Yuya Yagira) home.  When Rin goes to her door to answer a knock, she sees a weird image of someone on the other side....this spells trouble if one is blind.  It's Yuki!  Big problem with that, Yuki died ten years ago.  Mikoto and Ken arrive home to this "surprise" and are discomforted.  Apparently something happened ten years ago while, as children, they all went to an amusement park.  Whatever happened necessitated Yuki's apparent death and caused Ken to move away.  In utter confusion, our trio bring Yuki home to an equally perplexed sister, Miyu (Erina Mizuno), pictured below.  The now quartet then brings Yuki, who is acting strange ( say the least), to a hospital.  The hospital is deserted and strange becomes downright eerie.  Of course, the hospital is deserted and strange sights begin to appear.
 As the quartet begins to wander the deserted and unsettling hospital corridors, the building begins to resemble a "house of horrors" they visited ten years ago when whatever happened..happened. Flashbacks start filling us in on what that event was.  Gradually our protagonists realize that Yuki is a threat, and not someone they want to find.  The occurrence ten years ago begins to merge with the present, and unbeknownst to, the now teens, both segments in history begin to influence the other.
Our quartet comes face to face with a horrific episode which they had been trying to forget.  Is Yuki's return an omen of doom, or a chance for redemption?  This type of movie succeeds because all of us have instances in our childhoods which we try to forget, and are not proud of.  As adults, we don't even tell our friends about them, but they still haunt us.  In "The Shock Labyrinth," these haunts become real, not just subconscious, and pose a very real threat to safety, life and limb.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Bloody Valentine, Scariest Beer Commercial of All-Time

In the early 1980s, slasher films were coming out weekly.  Blogs and the internet were not in existence, so movie reviews were monopolized by the arrogant and so-called intellectual.  Snobs like Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert, and Rex Reed bluffed film goers into believing they actually knew what they were talking about.  Slasher films were always met with hostility by these brainiacs who were trying to get us to fork over our hard-earned income to see dreadful idiocy like "Ordinary People."  1981's "My Bloody Valentine" is a terrific movie.  It has scares, gore, suspense, mystery, surprises and better acting than the critically acclaimed films of that same period.  It also has product placement, lots of it.  Made in Canada (set in Nova Scotia, and filmed in mines) "My Bloody Valentine" is also a terrific commercial for Moosehead Beer.
20 years ago, a mine collapse trapped five miners.  Their supervisors left the mine early that day so the miners could not be rescued immediately.  The supervisors departed so they could attend Valentine Bluffs annual Valentine's Day dance.  When finally rescued, only Harry Warden was alive, as he survived by eating his fellow miners.  Warden was sent to an insane asylum and the town ended their tradition of the dance.  Present day, Valentine Bluffs is going to resume this Valentine's Day tradition.  Uh oh.....murders start occurring.  The corpses have their hearts dug out and a Valentine's Day card inserted warning the town not to go through with the dance.  After Mabel is found in a dryer at a laundromat, heartless, the mayor cancels the dance.  The miners and their really hot girlfriends decide to have a dance anyway in the mine.....this has brilliant idea written all over it.  Two miners, Axel (Neil Affleck) and TJ (Paul Kelman) are vying for the same girl, Sarah (Lori Hallier). For some strange reason, TJ left Valentine Bluffs for a year and never wrote, and Axel moved in.  Now TJ is back, and it is easy to see Sarah still is keen on him.  
As the miners and their babes down a bunch of Moosehead, they start dying.  The carnage is of the pick-ax sort, mostly, but also shower-heads, boiling water, a nail gun, and a large drill are in play.  As the corpses mount, our protagonists realize Harry Warden has returned (...or has he?).  Uh oh...Sarah and her friend Patti played by Cynthia Dale ("Heavenly Bodies") have gone on an informal tour of the mine without Sarah's dueling beaus.  Both Axel and TJ put their differences aside (..or do they?) and rush into the mine to save the damsels from the psycho.  No problem, the party has run out of Moosehead and the revelers are now settling for Schlitz.  As the sheriff gets some shocking news from the looney bin about Harry, he races toward the mines to join Axel and TJ.  The final 25 minutes of this slasher classic, actually shot in a mine, will not disappoint, and delivers some neat surprises and revelations.
Is Harry really the killer?  Will Sarah realize that she is smart and beautiful and leave Valentine Bluffs for the big city, and land an investment banker or lawyer?  The 2009 "My Bloody Valentine" (shot in 3D) is another fine movie which stands on it's own, and will be reviewed on this blog sometime this year.  In 1981 we were suffering through the Major League Baseball strike, and the wedding of Charles and Diana.  Thankfully, "My Bloody Valentine" provided some fun entertainment in what could have been such a sub-par year.