Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Burning, The Perfect Slasher Film

1981's "The Burning" seems to show up on everyone's top five list for slasher films. No flaws in this work, and a look at our feature 35 years after it's debut, may explain why this film is considered a horror classic.  Tom Savini did the make-up f/x for "The Burning" shortly after he did them for "Dawn of the Dead."  Harvey Weinstein (of Miramax fame) co-wrote the story.  Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame) stars as one of the nymphomaniac campers.  Oh yes, the very perky Leah Ayres, a 1980s heart-throb, plays the hero counselor. Look close for Holly Hunter. Oh yes...Cropsy! Shot near Buffalo, NY, and directed by Tony Maylam, let us delve into "The Burning."
Campers at Camp Blackfoot pull a prank on the camp's sadistic caretaker, Cropsy. Uh-oh....the prank gets out of hand leaving Cropsy (Lou David) totally engulfed in fire.  Five years later, Cropsy, horribly disfigured, is discharged from the burn hospital and immediately slices up a prostitute.  Cropsy returns to the lake to find new teen campers whooping it up.  Michelle (Ayres) is the very pretty female counselor, and Todd (Brian Matthews) is the hunk male counselor. Meanwhile, Cropsy arms himself with some hedge-clippers and begins his wrath.  As Todd and Michelle lead the campers on a three day canoe trip, Cropsy begins, first by disposing of the skinny-dipping Karen (Carolyn Houlihan).  After "The Burning," every skinny-dipper in all future slasher films would meet a most bloody demise.
Then, in a classic scene, only Tom Savini could concoct, Cropsy dices up five nubile teens on a raft with his gardening implement.  He's not done yet, as there are still some teens engaging in pre-marital sex that are still breathing.  Skinny-dipping, pre-marital sex, and gratuitous shower scenes are staples of this film, and unfortunately for some great looking campers, so are Cropsy's hedge-clippers.  Will pretty Michelle be able to save any of her campers, or does her pre-marital sex with Todd doom her as well? Is Cropsy merely an avenging angel crusading for teen morality?
The acting is terrific, and scares are sharp.  Thanks to Tom Savini, the gore his cutting edge.  This film would springboard many of it's actors and crew into some successful careers. Ms. Ayres would soon leave acting and devote her talents to working with children in Maryland.  Enjoy "The Burning," as uncut and fine quality versions of this film exist on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Evilspeak, Steve Jobs and Satan

From the Golden Age of slasher films, the early 80s, comes 1981's "Evilspeak."  Kind of a technological version of "Carrie," this film taps into the passing fad of home computers.  What did Apple technology look like in 1981? Watch "Evilspeak," as the Apple computer featured here is a conduit to the Prince of Darkness.  An audience in 2015 might find the first half of this film dull, but a 1981 audience was intrigued by what these new computers would screen and green letters and all. Fear not, I will not mention the scene when the sultry Ms. Friedemeyer (Lynn Hancock) is ripped apart and disemboweled during a gratuitous shower scene by pigs (see below picture).
Outcast, Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard), an orphan, does not fit in at the military prep school he attends.  Bullied by the cool kids, Coopersmith is at his wits end to gain some sort of acceptance. Always being disciplined, the insecure teen is given the job of cleaning the chapel's basement. Coopersmith's fortunes change when he finds a secret room containing a satanic chapel. He sets up shop in this unholy place and hauls his Apple computer down there to help him translate a satanic black mass guide.  The computer becomes interactive and a defrocked 16th Century priest, Esteban (Richard Moll) begins feeding him instructions.
Coopersmith obeys the guidance and his enemies begin meeting tortuous and gory demises.  The final instruction will be to provide a human sacrifice.  As the bullies, led by Bubba (Don Stark) increase their attacks on Coopersmith, the spirit of Esteban begins to gain control of our put upon protagonist.  When the blood sacrifice is provided by way of some chandelier carnage, Esteban/Coopersmith sets off to mete out a bloody and satanic justice.
The last few minutes of this film will have lots of decapitations, nail to the head carnage, more disembowelment by pig scenes (apart from the lovely Ms. Friedemeyer), and fire carnage.  Will Coopersmith be able to free himself of Esteban's possession?  Does he want to? For fans of 1980s horror, a fine quality of "Evilspeak" can be found on YouTube.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Beast, Bestiality in France

"Beauty and the Beast" has enjoyed a myriad of interpretations over the years.  Most of us are keenly familiar with Disney's animated version.  Children of the 70s may remember the made for TV version featuring George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere.  However, in 1975, Walerian Borowczyk made "The Beast."  This Rated X version is extremely difficult to watch, and beyond bestiality, touches on some taboo subjects, even in modern day cinema.  This French film was banned in England for it's depictions of the sex organs and elongated sex scenes featuring animals.  The depiction of the parish priest as a child molester may also have contributed to that ban.
The opening of this film is horse porn.  A prized stallion, in all his glory, is being mated.  Mathurin (Pierre Benedetti) takes great pleasure in watching animals mate, and his family has a huge estate in rural France.  The dynasty is dying, and in need of new blood (...and money).  That is where Lucy Broadhurst (Lisbeth Hummel) comes in.  Her wealthy family in England arrange a marriage between her and Mathurin.  The two have never met.  Lucy is beautiful and vivacious. Mathurin is brutish and crass.  Lucy is well aware of the legend of the estate she arrives at.  A beast comes out once a year to stalk the grounds.  Our damsel has no idea.
Enough of the plot.  One might say it is the "Beauty and the Beast" story.  We see a lot of copulating, naughty servants, too many penis shots, and some gratuitous bedpost and rose self gratification.  We also see the backstory of the original beauty, when she met the beast....and it is quite pornographic. The twist here is that our beautiful Lucy desires the beast, and is aroused at the thought of it's organ inside of her.  I warn you, when the original beauty (Sirpa Lane) is raped by the thing, she ends up lusting for the thing.  All the sex depicted in this film is taboo....priest lusts after boys..inter-racial intercourse...animal and lady....flower and lady...bedpost and lady. There is even a hint of an inappropriate sexual relationship between Lucy and her Aunt (Elisabeth Kaza). Some may be offended as all of it seems to be desired.
A woman who begins to explore her sexuality, in this film, desires intercourse with an goes this film.  Is this film a fantasy/fable/horror story or is Mr. Borowczyk seeking a deeper meaning.  Is there an element of what is being put forth here in existence....even in a fetish kind of way?  Available on Netflix (probably not in Canada and Europe), if you are curious, see "The Beast."  

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Slime People, Icky Creatures from the Sewers

Director and star of 1963's "The Slime People," Robert Hutton, made this film in Hollywood, but because of his fear of cats, left the country.  Don't ask. Most scifi fans who have seen this film, watched it on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Before "Fear the Walking Dead" chronicled the apocalypse in Los Angeles, this film did the same over 50 years earlier.  The culprit? Not zombies, but slimy creatures with deadly spears. So let us have some fun today and dive into a classic B movie with monsters, damsels in distress, square-jawed hunks, and a scientist.
Tom (Hutton), a sportscaster in L.A. is trying to land his single-engine aircraft.  He is caught in a mysterious fog, and can't pick up anyone on his radio.  When he finally lands, his plane is covered in slime and the whole city is deserted.  Of course, in these films, no one is ever truly alone, and on cue a station-wagon pulls up with Professor Galbraith (Robert Burton) and his two comely daughters, Lisa (Susan Hart) and Bonnie (Judee Morton).  Both gals are ecstatic to see their new hunk friend and immediately give him the goo goo eyes.  The Galbraiths bring Tom up to speed on what he missed.  Creatures came out of the sewers, killed people...the army came, and lost...and the creatures built an impenetrable dome around the city. As they drive away from the airport, Tom views first hand the ruins which used to be L.A.  Now chased by the creatures, the quintet head to Tom's TV studio where they met a marine, and Elvis wannabe, Cal (William Boyce).  This is called balance, as now Bonnie has a guy to fall in love with.
The survivors have a small window during the day in which they can go outside, as the creatures don't like sunlight.  In that time, our crew must deal with looters and some creatures who are outside anyway, and figure out a way to destroy the dome that has been erected around their once fine city. In this time, Cal and Bonnie fall in very cute, and so do Tom and Lisa.  As the two new items coo to each other, the professor figures out the Achilles heal of the fiends.  Not a moment too soon, as a slime person abducts Bonnie and brings her to their lair.  Fortunately for Bonnie, this is not a Roger Corman film or she might....well...never mind.  Now our team must act fast and travel into the monstrous den of the slime people, rescue the perky Bonnie, and execute the professor's very unlikely plan.
The creatures are terrific, and the campy acting and stunts really make this film enjoyable.  Even before "The Walking Dead," horror writers recognized the real dangers during the apocalypse, were not so much monsters, but fellow survivors, and that is true in this film.  For tons of fun, this film, in a MST3K episode, is available on YouTube. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tales of Poe, Horror from the Master in a Contemporary Setting

As an English major at Boston College, my favorite writer was Edgar Allan Poe. I was alone, as most of my classmates claimed to be Shakespeare or Shelley or Keats enthusiasts.  I liked horror, and Poe was it!  When my newest social media pal, Alan Rowe Kelly, contacted me and asked me to review an anthology, 2014's "Tales of Poe," I jumped on the opportunity. Kelly and Bart Mastronardi have made a superb Poe anthology for us horror lovers. Though some might claim this film is a contemporary look at three Poe tales, I would maintain that these three segments represent Poe and his themes well, without distorting his intentions. Oh yes, you horror film fans, especially slasher fans, enjoy the performances of Debbie Rochon (narrator), Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Lesleh Donaldson (Curtains), Caroline Williams .....and many more.
Segment 1: "The Tell Tale Heart," may seem like an updated version of the classic tale, and I guess it is. The symbolism, and metaphor are the same, and the fact that a female is the fiend may be an added twist.  This story also reminded me a bit of the more sadistic and nefarious elements of "Sunset Boulevard." Gory, as this tale should be, we witness the nurse who saw conviction in an evil eye as she is wheeled into an insane asylum.  There she conveys the tale, and for good measure, continues the horror after the original Poe story concludes.

Segment 2: "The Cask." ....of Amontillado, of course. Fortunato (Randy Jones) is enjoy his wedding day. At his vineyard, several guests are helping him celebrate the day as he has wed Gogo (Kelly). Some are suspicious that Gogo may be an opportunistic gold-digger, (they have no idea), but Fortunato is head over heels in love. Unfortunately for our groom, Gogo has a devious and fool proof plan ( if those ever play out well in Poe stories). After a beautiful psychic (Zoe Daelman Chlanda) finds a hidden cask in the wine cellar, in a very spooky scene, and an unexpected parry guest arrives (Brewster McCall), Gogo begins a series of events designed to take over Fortunato's fortune.  Screaming, torture, blood, betrayal, and more horror follows.
Segment 3: "Dreams." This Poe poem is beautifully acted out in a most emotional fashion (...for the viewer, too). Bette Cassatt (V/H/S/ 2) is dying. She is teetering on a fulcrum separating life and death. In life, she enjoyed great happiness, and ultimately extreme sorrow. As the monitors in her room weakly beep with the final signs of her life, she meets the angels of life and death.  Comforting on occasion, the horror many of us attach with death also torments her during her final moments on this mortal coil.  I must warn you, if you have endured sitting by the bedside of a loved one as he or she has passed, this dramatic poem will draw tears from your ducts.
Though those Vincent Price movies of the early 1960s were terrific and fun, "Tales of Poe" presents a more literary treatment of of these three works.  Kudos to Alan Rowe Kelly for producing and starring in this film.  Fans of Edgar Allan Poe will not feel betrayed by this work, and will see the respect and love this crew had for Poe in making this movie.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pod, Even Lunatics are Right Sometimes

A criminally insane, paranoid schizophrenic lunatic living in the Maine woods is our protagonist in today's film, 2015's "Pod." Never mind that he endlessly rants of government experiments, tracking devices implanted in his tooth, human experimentation, and creatures....after all...we all go a little mad sometimes.  Of course our governments never experiment on us, and there are no monsters...right?  Written and directed by Mickey Keating, let us delve into "Pod."
As our story begins, Ed (Dean Cates), a psychologist, and his coke-head, skank sister, Lyla (Lauren Ashley Carter), drive up to Maine to check the welfare of their lunatic brother, Martin (Brian Morvant).  Martin was in the army, and discharged after he stole a tank and ripped the face of a nurse in a military hospital.....war is Hell.  Now living deep in the woods, Martin is convinced a secret military experiment is pursuing him for the purpose of keeping him from talking.  This is, of course, ridiculous.  When the siblings arrive, they find the lakeside cabin locked up, and all the windows covered.  When they get in, they are greeted by a paranoid, unstable, shotgun wielding maniac of a brother.
Martin is totally gone, but Layla actually believes his story.  Ed does not (...I guess he doesn't watch the same films we do), and desires to tranquilize his brother and return him to an institution.  Uh oh....there are indications that something is very wrong in the house.  What are those noises emanating from the basement?  Ed is sure it is the mailman, but might it be a creature?  Martin vehemently insists the creature is confined in the cellar, and Ed should not unlock the door.  Can you guess if Ed ends up unlocking the door?  Yep, that's an easy one.
This is a fast moving horror story with some predictable, but neat twists.  Mr. Morvant as an insaniac is terrific.  Ms. Carter and Mr. Cates also shine as the flawed but caring siblings. This film will serve as a great reminder to us all; if everyone says we're crazy....we still may be the smartest guy (...or gal) in the room.  Enjoy "The Pod," available on Netflix.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Queen Crab, Stop Motion Creatures make Comeback

2015's low-budget, "Queen Crab," may be a brand new film, but it is a terrific throwback to a purer era.  No CGI here, but some neat stop motion f/x gets our monstrous crustacean on the warpath. Finally a companion piece to Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters can now grace our DVD collections.  Written and directed by Brett Piper, this menacing crab creature is combined with beautiful damsels, good ole boy hunting posses, a scientist, and a few surprises in a monster movie that would have appeared on Creature Feature back in the 1970s.
Just before her parents are killed in a laboratory explosion, little Melissa allows her pet crab to eat berries from her dad's lab.  These berries were an experiment, and cause PeeWee to grow to the size of a house.  Melissa (Michelle Simone Miller) has foregone any social life and 20 years later is devoted to the care of her named Goliath. No one knows of Goliath's existence, but this won't last.  After destroying a barn and eating some cattle, Sheriff Ray begins to investigate.  Also, the sultry actress Jennifer (Kathryn Metz) arrives in town for a surprise visit to her old pal, Melissa.  Also, Stewart (A.J. DeLucia), a state wildlife investigator, and crab expert is called in. Now under much scrutiny, Goliath has babies who are very hungry.  As the little crabs feast on poor schmucks, and Goliath feels threatened by invading humans, major league carnage begins.
As the stunning Jennifer attempts to rekindle her friendship with Melissa, Melissa lets her in on some bizarre secrets.  Sheriff Ray and Stewart inch closer to those secrets and to the lair of the monster crab.  Melissa believes the crab is merely misunderstood, and only attacked when it felt threatened. Cattle carcasses, dead bartenders, and some now clawed to death townspeople force the hand of the authorities and now even the U.S. Air Force gets involved.  The ending will be explosive and contain a few twists.
In over a century of fine horror films, only a few have delved into the angst of the crustacean community.  "Queen Crab" does that, exploring the hopes and ambitions of our shelled, clawed partners in this tragic comedy we call life on Earth.  Is Goliath destined for a peaceful existence with Melissa, and perhaps the stunning Jennifer?  Or, is Goliath destined to be an entree at Red Lobster? Find out by purchasing the DVD at a very reasonable price on Amazon.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hush, Pretty Babysitter in much Peril

One of the finest plot lines of early 1980s slasher films, a beautiful babysitter in great danger.  Michael G. Kehoe has made a short film utilizing this plot device, and does it packing a big scare. No stranger to movie-making, Mr. Kehoe has been an actor, writer, director, and you-name-it.  One of his latest projects, 2015's "Hush" has won dozens of awards, including the Wes Craven Award.  In fact, just before his death, Mr. Craven selected this short as a finalist for his award.  No big names, or gargantuan budgets, but the acting, direction, and lighting are flawless. About five minutes in length, you are all given the assignment of clicking on the link below, and viewing this short masterpiece.
Alexandra Grace plays Regan, our cute babysitter.  She is competent, and is braving a terrible thunder storm when Irene wakes up and calls to her.  No spoilers here, but what follows is pretty neat, in a horror kind of way. Because of it's length, any more plot description would serve as a spoiler.  For a quick scare before you go to bed tonight, click on this link to view a short masterpiece. View Hush
The short shocker we have discussed today will be part of a full length feature film coming late in 2016.  The production will start shortly after the new year, and Mr. Kehoe and I will maintain contact.  I expect to provide updates regarding this upcoming horror flick on this blog, so do stay tuned.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jennifer Help Us, Fat Chance!

Pretty Jennifer (Rachel Brennan Leyh), humiliated, beaten and held captive by three lovely high school girls.  Help them? I don't think so. Written and directed by Juan Ortiz, 2014's "Jennifer Help Us," is a horror story reminiscent of either an early 80s slasher film, or a late 70s drive-in offering.  Shot in Carrollton, Missouri, this film utilizes some great location sets and enjoys terrific acting, especially the four actresses who portray the high school girls. In fact, the local premier was held on a local farm.
Okay...Jennifer dated the BF of Tara (Alaina Dawn Sharp, kinda like Taylor Swift with an edge to her).  Bad move, as Tara proves to be quite vindictive.  Along with her two BFFs, Mindy (Courtney Bandeko) and Pegs (Kelsi Simpson), they abduct Jennifer and tie her up in the attic of an abandoned farmhouse. Girls will be girls. To this trio's credit, they do intend to set her free, after the week-end.  Unbeknownst to Tara and her gang, a lot is going to occur in the farmhouse over the week-end.  Oh yes, the farmhouse is rumored to be haunted. Enter the ghost (Jenny Gorsett).  We are given glimpses of the ghost's backstory and see that this specter is far from a Casper the Friendly Ghost type.
On Monday, our lovelies return to the house....big mistake.  Apparently, Jennifer and the ghost have developed an alliance, and now Tara, Mindy, and Pegs will be fighting for their lives.  We see that Jennifer has some influence over this evil being, and may have the power to call off the ghost's wrath. After being tied up by the girls, will Jennifer be able to show mercy upon her tormentors?  This ghost, clad in an old fashioned dress and a creepy mask, also arms herself with bladed farm equipment and a chainsaw.  A very bloody battle will follow. No spoilers here, but not all the girls will remain in one piece.

Who wins?  Watch the film to find out. Will Jennifer's alliance with the malevolent spirit have consequences which she did not bargain for? Usually that is the case.  This is a terrific film and you must see it.  To see this film, click on this link JenniferHelpUs . The entire film was shot with an iPhone 4S....absolutely amazing. Special kudos to Brian Burger, the producer, as it appears from viewing the credits, much of his family seems to have assisted in this low-budget nugget.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tiger House, Don't Mix Crossbows with Pre-Marital Sex

Pre-marital sex, in just about every film on this blog, leads to great carnage.  In 2015's "Tiger House," directed by Thomas Daley, the added element of horseplay with a crossbow is added to the mix. A double ouch, one might say.  We've all done it....added a dangerous medieval weapon to our naughty play, but usually have escaped un-impaled. Unfortunately for Kelly (Kaya Scoldelario), this mix will result in blood, explosions, homicide, betrayals, and more blood.  Made in South Africa, let us take a peek at "Tiger House."
Recovering from a crossbow accident (don't ask...we've all done it), pretty gymnast, Kelly, sneaks into her boyfriend's (Daniel Boyd) room for some pre-marital sex.  Uh-oh!  Coinciding with this amorous whim, a team of home invaders also enter the house.  Clad in SWAT gear and gas masks, they tie up the family, as Kelly eludes them.  Unfortunately for Shane (Dougray Scott), the leader of the gang, he suffers an injury during the operation, and is quickly losing blood.  He's the brains behind the operation, and his wound enables his pal, Callum (Ed Skrein) to take some control.  This will not bode well for our victims, as Callum is a homicidal psycho.
As the plan unfolds, the dad (Andrew Brent) is brought to his bank so he can get our thugs in the vault.  If he doesn't cooperate, his family will be killed.  Now Kelly must act and try to save her BF and his family.  With her gymnastic prowess, and brains, she eludes the fiends and plots.  When she sees Callum bludgeon a poor sap to death, she begins fighting back.  Callum's evil mind has homicide as a default, and now Kelly must kill or be killed.  Yep...a crossbow will figure in all this mess. Twists and betrayals, for both sides, will complicate matters, and lead to more blood. Will our pretty little damsel prevail? Is her BF, the idiot who accidentally shot her with aforementioned weapon, worthy of being saved?
This film is a lot of fun, and very quick moving.  Without revealing spoilers, know that Kelly has a lot going on as she engages in a war.  Also vital to the plot is the deterioration of Shane, which enables Callum to fly off the handle, in what was supposed to be a neat, quick, and clean hit and run home invasion ( if that ever happens).  Available on Netflix, enjoy "Tiger House."    

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Die Die Delta Pi, Sorority Sisters in much Peril

Over the summer I reviewed "Sorority Row" (see my review ). Lots of very attractive big name actresses met gory deaths in that one.  2013's "Die Die Delta Pi" might be termed a very low budget "Sorority Row," but just as fun.  With the feel and f/x of an 80s slasher film, our feature today will surely please us low-budget fans and also provide lots of gory deaths to attractive B-list actresses. Of course, gratuitous nudity, decapitations, disembowelment, and burnings will rule the day in this one.
In 1986, at the initiation for Delta Pi, Marissa (Olivia Blake) is burned horribly when a silly string prank goes very wrong.  While she is charring, Katherine (Shade Burnett), the sorority house mother, is slicing a dozen sorority sisters and their dates.  Are these two incidents connected?  Katey (Tanya Christianson) survives the carnage but will spend the rest of her days in an insane asylum ranting that the burned one is coming to get her.  Fast forward to present day as the Delta Pi Sorority is re-opening after the 1986 carnage.....this won't go smoothly.
Wouldn't you know it, the present day initiation takes place at the same place Marissa was fried.  Diana (Kristin Avery), Kelly (Amethist Young) and Marie (Keisha Burchard) are three beauties who are pledging.  Of course the initiation has them all strip to their undies for a spanking, after all...this is college.  As this occurs, Katey is strangled with barbed wire at the mental hospital and a killer embarks on a killing spree which will disembowel almost an entire police department, three collegiate athletes, and anyone who gets in the way.  Unfortunately for our girls, the killer makes it to the sorority house where Cindy (Lexi Balestieri), the president of Delta Pi, will be the first casualty as her face is cooked on a gas grill.  Now in a panic, the remaining beauties  seem almost helpless to the arrows, and knives of the mysterious fiend.  Could our killer be Marissa, back after almost 30 years? Will any of the babes survive?
Fans of 1980s slasher flick will love this film.  Modern day f/x are eschewed in favor of 1980s creativity to produce the gore effects. Perhaps this film will serve as a metaphor for the danger modern day coeds are in while they attend universities fraught with date-rape drugs and horny college football players.  Or perhaps "Die Die Delta Pi" is just a gratuitous and exploitative slasher film. Either way, enjoy this throwback to the 1980s and be prepared for a myriad of great kills. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Don't Torture a Duckling, Into the Taboo with Lucio Fulci

Barbara Bouchet is a beautiful Czech who made it big in Italian films.  In 1972, she starred in Lucio Fulci's "Don't Torture a Duckling." Though her scenes in this horror film are sultry, her role is one that would have been eschewed by most actresses.  This film is one that will cause you great discomfort, and it goes places that even modern day cinema avoids.  As this blog delves back into Italian horror, let us look at a horrific tale of murder and superstition.
Three little boys have been strangled to death in a small, superstitious town in rural Italy.  Suspects? Oh yes.  Maciara (Florinda Bolkan), a witch, made wax dolls of the boys before their deaths and stuck them with pins.  Francesco (Georges Wilson), the magician, dabbles in the occult, and is hardly cooperative with the cops.  Then there is Patrizia (Bouchet).  A stunning model who fled Milan after she was implicated in a drug operation.  This beauty lounges around naked for the purpose of seducing little boys...the same ones that ended up dead.  Her drug history, and lack of alibis for the times of the murders, make her a prime suspect.
As the cops focus on Maciara and Patrizia, a reporter, Martelli (Tomas Milian) befriends Patrizia. Unfortunately for Martelli, Patrizia only lusts after little boys.  These two join forces with the town priest, Don Alberto (Marc Porel), the only normal guy in town who knew all the boys, in order to find the killer. This unholy alliance may be the only hope this village has at stopping the murderer.  As the cops dig up some disturbing clues, including skeletons of dead babies, the townspeople demand blood.  More boys are murdered, and each time, all indications are that the glamorous Patrizia is the fiend. If the cops don't arrest our beautiful subjects, vigilantes might dispose a harsher justice. As uncomfortable as the film is, so far, you can bet Lucio Fulci will deliver an ending that will have you squirming.    
This is a difficult one to watch. Fulci shows us the tattered corpses of the boys and then their grieving parents.  We want to like Patrizia, she is a knock-out...but also a child pervert.  For a Fulci film, one may think the gore is pretty tamed....but wait until the end before you determine that.  Oh yes, Maciara's death scene is one of the most eerie, and beautiful cinematic moments you will ever endure.  Not for everyone, but a creepy and unsettling horror experience is in store for all who dare to watch "Don't Torture a Duckling."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Chosen, Get Rid of Dead Weight in the Family

We've all endured Thanksgiving with family and relatives.  Coming soon, the same ordeal at Christmas.  We love these times of year.  Family is so special...and so are the relatives.  Now be honest....if you had to make a choice to kill one of'd have at least one in mind.  Hypothetically....what if you had to kill one of them to prevent nuclear annihilation...would you do it?  You could even pick the poor soul to sacrifice.  Well...would you?  This question, minus the nuclear war, is posed in 2015's "The Chosen," written and directed by Ben Jehoshua  Let's face it...though we say we love our kinfolk....there are one or two (....or six) that we really do not.
Through a weird chain of events, little Angie (Mykala Sohn) has a demon attached to her. The demon, Lilith (Adam's first wife in Eden...don't ask) will kill the cute child and drag her to hell unless her 18 year old Uncle Cameron (Kian Lawley) can find a way to save her.  We'll skip a lot to avoid spoilers, but Cameron's task, to free Angie from Lilith's wrath, is to pick six family members to sacrifice instead.  Difficult choice? Well....let's just say Cameron has a colorful family.  Angie's mom, Eliza (Elizabeth Keener) is a recovering addict and lives elsewhere.  She man's up when Cameron asks her to assist him in his task. The two keep their eyes on the prize...cute Angie.  
Possessed and evil looking, Angie is hardly cute anymore.  Who to kill? The choices made by our duo actually come quite easy.  An annoying, coughing grandmother, a vegetable grandfather, a MILF aunt (Dayna Devon), a spoiled cousin, and, oh yes.....perhaps Cameron's unborn baby inside the womb of his GF, Megan (Emily Killian).  The list wasn't hard to put together, but now Eliza and Cameron must act. Can they actually kill? Yes. Uh oh....twists abound.  With only six days to complete the evil task, Cameron hardly has time for sentimentality.  A caring uncle to precious Angie in one scene, and a psycho-maniac ready to murder the fetus of his unborn baby in another.  Even if he can save Angie, how will Cameron emerge?
Is Angie really worth the lives of six of her blood relatives? At any point, will Eliza and Cameron realize what they have started, and allow civility to end their quest?  This movie is a lot of fun, especially around the holidays. Watch "The Chosen" on Netflix and when your relatives start annoying you at the Christmas dinner table, start putting your list together.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Crawling Hand, Miss Iceland vs. The Evil Hand

When "The Crawling Hand" was made in 1963 it sparked worldwide outrage in the international film community.  A decade long feud between Sweden and Iceland erupted when Miss Iceland, Sirry Steffen, was cast to play the voluptuous Swedish beauty Marta Farnstrom. Sweden was furious, as once again Hollywood would cast a less expensive Icelandic actress in the role of a Swede.  None of this is true, of course, but what better way to stick in a picture of some eye candy than an embellished set-up.  So let us take a look at a great B scifi film from the 1960s.
Miss Iceland
A second failed mission to the moon results in an American space craft crashing into California.  The astronaut is thought to have perished, but in actuality, an alien life form overtook him before the craft exploded.  After the crash, only the hand of the astronaut has survived, and it is homicidal.  As Paul (Rod Lauren) and Marta (Steffan) frolic on the beach, in a scene which includes a gratuitous bikini moment, they stumble upon the hand.  Miss Iceland is horrified, but Paul figures out what it is and brings it to his boarding house so he can study it later. Kids! Before Paul can examine his find, the hand strangles Miss Hotchkiss, the landlady, to death, and almost does the same to Paul.  The Sheriff (Alan Hale, the skipper from "Gilligan's Island") responds and opens up a murder investigation.
When the fingerprints of Hotchkiss' throat match that of the deceased astronaut, Steve (Peter Brock) and Dr. Weitzberg (Kent Taylor) respond from NASA in DC.  The skipper isn't happy that the big boys in Washington are taking over the case, and refuses to cooperate.  On their own, Steve and the doctor go see Paul, but now Paul has been taken over by the alien life form and is now running through the streets with homicide in mind. Now an alien fiend, Paul stalks the beautiful Swede, Miss Iceland.  With a hand and Paul loose, will the Earth survive? 
Campy effects and good acting enhance "The Crawling Hand."  It is always great to see Alan Hale, even when he isn't playing the skipper.  Miss Iceland. when on the screen, with a phony Swedish accent, is always a good thing.  I'm told that if you mention Sirry Steffen (Miss Iceland) in Sweden, you will have a snowball thrown at you.  Enjoy "The Crawling Hand."  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Preservation, Do it if you can

Can we preserve ourselves?  We grow into impressive adults.  For the most part, we are nice and loving.  We get married and have kids, and become non-threatening participants in our society.  All very nice.  However, there is always the Deliverance factor.  You go into the woods, get preyed upon, and do anything you need to to survive. emerge from the woods.....different. Wrenn Schmidt is a terrific young actress.  Pretty, pale, and diminutive!  There is no way she can play the monster...right?  Today we look at 2014's "Preservation," written and directed by Christopher Denham (you may remember him from "Shutter Island").
Wit (Schmidt), her husband Mike (Aaron Staton) and her brother-in-law Sean (Pablo Schreiber) all go on a hunting/camping trip.  Wit is a fair damsel....a doctor and vegan.  Her husband is married to his job and she might be manifesting an attraction to her brother-in-law...a war vet.  Uh-oh!  Sean begins to show signs he might be a psycho-to-be.  We know things are gonna go south real fast and are anticipating the PTSD ridden and dishonorably discharged Sean may be a ticking time bomb.  Too easy.  There is another presence in these deserted woods.  An evil that is so familiar.  No spoilers here, but once the you know what hits the fan, we are in for a gut wrenching final 32 minutes.  To survive, our fair damsel must become something else.  
To carry on with the plot will entail too many spoilers.  Suffice it to say, Wit becomes something else. Of course, she must survive, but her transformation will prove nightmarish for her tormentors. Escape and preservation aren't part of her strategy.  Kill and hunt become her guiding lights.  No big deal?  Perhaps....but when you see her won't be what you imagined.  Pay very close attention to the final three minutes....and then ponder the title "Preservation."
Wrenn Schmidt is terrific in this one.  This film is largely about her transition, which is an extreme one.  She needed to play a few different roles and make us believe they were the same person...and she does this.  Like so many films on this blog, not the feel good movie of the millennium, but one that will stick with you as your kids make you watch Rudolph this Christmas season.  See "Preservation" on Netflix.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mongolian Death Worm, Add them to the Barbeque

Back in 2013, just before the birth of this blog, I was sitting in the airport in Jakarta waiting for my Korean Air flight to Seoul.  The flight would take-off at midnight, and I had many connections and 30 hours before I would touchdown at Washington Dulles Airport.  I wasn't waiting to board all by myself, with me was Miss Mongolia, still wearing her sash from the Miss World Pageant.  A very nice young lady, she consented to pose for a picture.  As I waited with this pageant beauty I couldn't help think, "I should start a blog where I could review films like 'Mongolian Death Worm'." Without any more self serving stories, 2010's "Mongolian Death Worm," directed by Steven R. Monroe.
Daniel (Sean Patrick Flanery), a treasure hunting ex-pat, is diverted from searching for Genghis Khan's tomb by Alicia (Victoria Pratt) and Phillip (Nate Rubin). These two are doctors desperately trying to reach a remote village with drugs to fight a deadly fever.  Hesitatingly, Daniel becomes their driver.  At the village, Steffi (Jon Mack, lead singer for Auradrone) is the attending physician.  The locals tell her the sickness is brought on by the awakening of the Mongolian Death Worm.  At a nearby experimental drilling facility, the worms have already begun eating oil rig workers.  These giant fiends are ugly and have long menacing tongues. Is the drilling awakening these monsters? Or are these the guardians of Genghis Khan's treasure?  Or both?
Meanwhile, some Mongolian crime-lords are thrown into the mix, as they seek the same treasure Daniel is after.  These thugs abduct Daniel, Alicia and Phillip. As Steffi gets more and more desperate as her patients succumb to illness, Alicia must appeal to Daniel's altruistic side (which may not exist), in order to give him the heroics to escape from the villains and drive to Steffi's village.  Lots of drama, no doubt, but the worms are getting frisky.  They begin feasting and make a move on Steffi's hospital.  The things also burrow into the drilling plant....but why?  Will our reluctant hero, and tough doctor Alicia be able to save Steffi and the innocents at her field hospital? 
Most who have seen this film viewed it on the Syfy channel.  Shot in Texas (kind of like Mongolia, but without the glitter), this film uses the gritty landscape well  A big tip of the hat to the actors.  Both Ms. Mack and Ms. Pratt show a passion which indicates they have true admiration for the noble characters (charity doctors) they portray.  Fans of Auradrone and Ms. Mack may desire to learn about their devotion to saving endangered species at their Facebook page, at this link AURADRONE . For lots of creepy creature fun, a handsome hunk-hero, and some beautiful but tough damsels....see "Mongolian Death Worm."

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Satan's Cheerleaders, Bimbos vs. The Prince of Darkness

Let us dive back into 1970s drive-in, sexploitation. Here we will see four cheerleaders engage in cat-fights, water-balloon wars with rival cheerleading squads, pre-marital sex, shower scenes, locker room scenes, and combat with satanists.  We will also have the privilege of watching world-renown actress Yvonne DeCarlo chant the inspiring "Kill...Kill...Mutilate...Kill" mantra.  Lots of jiggling, beauties in peril, and gratuitous sexual scenes, as only 1970s drive-in films can deliver, will be the order of today's blog entry. From 1977, let us take a peek at "Satan's Cheerleaders."
Ah!  The cheerleaders from Benedict High School in Arnold, California!  Debbie (Alisa Powell), Chris (Hillary Horan), Sharon (Sherry Marks), and Patty (Kerry Sherman) are a flirtatious quartet. Quite promiscuous, they are, and full of tease and spirit.  Their coach, Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole) is pure and naive, quite a contrast to her girls. Even after being groped by a pervert janitor and raped by a satanist, Ms. Johnson maintains her attitude of finding the best in people.  Anyway....after the squad humiliates the school janitor (Jack Kruschen), he kidnaps all of them and delivers them to a satanic cult.  The sheriff (John Irleand) and his wife (Yvonne DeCarlo) lead the cult and plan on sacrificing one of them.  The Prince of Darkness requires a virgin sacrifice and the cult believes these girls will provide one.  Now these satanists are pretty thick, even we know there is no chance any of these girls being a virgin.
But wait!  Patty seems to be in some trance.  When she first sees a satanic altar, she strips, lays on the altar, and is raped by some demon. Yvonne DCarlo fears Patty and implores the sheriff to kill her. The sheriff imprisons the girls and rapes Ms. Johnson.  The girls keep escaping, but the whole town is in the cult, and the girls are always captured.  Alas, the night of the great sacrifice has come, and the girls better think of something fast lest they have their innards carved out.
In addition to gratuitous nude scenes, these cheerleaders have some very promiscuous one-liners that show us exactly where their minds are. For example, to a hunk football player, "I'm wild about your backfield in motion." One of the vixens to Yvonne DeCarlo, "We live out west where the men are men and the women are glad of it."  If "Bridge of Spies" is too heavy and melodramatic for you, convince your buddies to save some hard earned dough, and head to YouTube to view "Satan's Cheerleaders."