Monday, February 29, 2016

SS Hellcamp, Nazis meet Italian Exploitation

Think of this Euro-Trash as "The Guns of Navarone" meet the gods of Italian sexploitation. Today we examine 1977's "SS Hellcamp" (aka "La Bestia in Calore"). Offensive, in bad taste, exploitative, almost porn, and badly dubbed, our feature today is heavy on gore, torture, and nudity. To spare the weak stomachs who might read this blog, we will refrain from mentioning the exact means of torture, and only do so....[RATS] a subliminal manner.
Dr. Ellen Kratsch (Macha Magall) is a sultry devil of the SS.  Clad in an SS uniform and black boots, Kratsch has created a beast with super-virility.  To satisfy ...[FEMALE CASTRATION]... her monster, she has her soldiers bring virgins from the town her troops occupy to her. The evil scientist gets off on watching her well-hung monster rape the young women to death. As local partisans attempt to sabotage the German war effort in their conquered ...[BEAST RAPE]... town, Kratsch is asked to assist the German army in torturing the locals in order to identify the saboteurs. By the way, our evil doctor is always accompanied by two beautiful German ...[MALE CASTRATION]... army guards which she enjoys kissing.
As the men in the town are killed off, Kratsch orders the young women ...[BEAST EATING #@&&$]... brought to her. She certainly has ways of making her subjects talk, and in one scene we see her torturing a half dozen (mostly women) unfortunates at once.  The partisans are persistent and seem to be closing ...[FINGERNAILS]... in on Kratsch's lab/torture house. Now the allies have asserted air superiority, and the German occupation appears to be ...[EATEN BY BEAST]... on their last legs.  Will the partisans capture Kratsch and subject her to her own creation?  Will she escape? Or....will either the Soviets or Americans make her a citizen in exchange for her scientific knowledge and/or talents?
This film is designed to speak to our more prurient nature, no doubt. I also warn you that when you go to ...[WHIPPING]... your next book club gathering to discuss an Alice Walker work, this is a film you'll want to refrain from discussing.  Available almost nowhere, the DVD is reasonably priced on Amazon.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Trauma, Schoolgirl Murder Italian Style

Shot in Italy and Spain, in a style reminiscent of Argento, today we look at 1978's "Trauma" (aka "Rings of Fear"). This frightening murder mystery almost crosses into the realm of Euro-trash or exploitation, but comes up...probably one gratuitous shower scene short of those genres.  Nevertheless, we are treated to gratuitous shower scenes, a sultry shoplifter in a bathtub, lingerie gratuity, sex in a library gratuity, nude French teacher gratuity, and bordello gratuity. These scenes are strewn throughout this film, but we'll concentrate today on a gory tale of homicide.
Beautiful 16 year old Angela is killed. Her nude body is found, wrapped in plastic, in a lake. Enter handsome Detective DiSalvo (Fabio Testi).  A good investigator, DiSalvo is able to piece together some cryptic clues.  Angela was a student at an exclusive all-girls boarding school, in a clique with some beautiful classmates, and apparently a well-behaved lass. Uh oh...someone is trying to kill off the other girls in the clique.  DiSalvo interviews/interrogates the other girls and teachers at the school. His interrogation methods entail him barging in on everyone when they are in states of undress in their bedroom and screaming at them.  Surprisingly, this method yields few positive leads. He also uses strangulation as an interviewing technique....with fewer results.
French Teacher
Despite his combative communication strategies, DiSalvo develops some firm suspects. When each good suspect is also murdered, the mystery gets weirder. The clues lead DiSalvo to a bordello which our schoolgirls may have ties to.  Also, the girls and the murdered suspects have received lurid notes from someone who goes by the moniker NEMESYS.  As the pretty friends of Angela are put in extreme peril, DiSalvo pulls together clues from old cases in order to identify NEMESYS. Are the hormonal friends of Angela involved in her murder? What are the girls' relationship to the bordello?
Angela's friends Interviewed
The conclusion to "Trauma" is multi-faceted. Perhaps a minor murder mystery, but fans of Italian horror and exploitation will enjoy this work. In typical Italian fashion, we have a dangerous pair of scissors and nymphomaniacal characters. The DVD is reasonably priced on Amazon.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Fury, ESP, Telekinesis, and the Paranoid 1970s

How many of you remember the 1970s? The Nixon Administration soured us all on politicians. President Carter was seeing UFOs. The CIA, in order to keep up with the KGB, was experimenting with schmucks who they perceived had ESP (...this last one is merely a theory).  On the horror film side, Brian DePalma made Stephen King's best-seller "Carrie" into a box office smash. In 1978, Gerald Ford was contemplating another run for the White House and Brian DePalma put out another horror film, "The Fury."
A super secret government agency is creating a new weapon. The Soviets and the Chinese don't have one, but Ben Childress (John Cassavetes) heads the program to create a weapon out of highly telekinetic Americans. Uh oh, Robyn (Andrew Stevens) is one such schmuck. Robyn is the son of Peter (Kirk Douglas), a secret squirrel for this agency.  Ben wants to turn Robyn into a killing machine, but first must kill his dad. Killing Kirk Douglas fails, but he abducts Robyn and indeed turns him into a demented killing to kill using psychic abilities.  Peter now spends every waking moment trying to recover his son, not realizing his son is something different now.
Enter Gillian (Amy Irving).  She has come to the attention of Ben and his demented agency. She can make people bleed (bleed a lot, actually)  by touching them. She also has visions and ESP moments during these episodes. To protect national security, Ben seeks to abduct Gillian before the Communists do, and match her with Robyn, thereby creating a telekinetic death weapon.  This won't be easy, as Robyn and Gillian become linked, and together...well....beware.  As Peter gets closer to finding his son, Robyn and Gillian become increasingly unstable.  In one very gory scene, Fiona Lewis gets on their bad side and is made to demonstrates how many orifices the human being can bleed from.
Will Peter and his son be reunited, or is Robyn too far gone?  Will the weapon Ben has in mind do more damage to the U.S. intelligence community than it will to the Soviets? Will congress cut funding to this super-secret agency, or increase it after Cuba steps up their involvement in Angola (ah yes...the 1970s).  Look closely for Daryl Hannah and James Belushi, and enjoy "The Fury," now on Netflix.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dead Sexy, Are the Dead Sexy?

Are the dead sexy?  Is death sexy? What would Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) of "Excision" have looked like as a medical student? Gory, uncomfortable, and taboo, 2014's "Dead Sexy" is a perfect film for this blog. Writer and Director Daisy Turvey takes us through a surreal horror story which will have us all screaming, "No! I'm not aroused!" That plea might be true...or maybe not. This short runs 19 minutes, so I will be brief on the plot to avoid spoilers.
Elaina (Izzy Cosgrove) is an alluring med student obsessed with pathology. The dead turn her on. "I'm not exactly usual" is her quote that serves as a gross understatement.  We get a glimpse at her fantasy world which includes the mounting of corpses and bloody murder. Because she is so sexy, the two men in her life, Damien (Ben Pierson) and Ross (Lawrence Bowland) will be seduced into.....well you'll see. Damien promises to fix her....make her normal. Unfortunately for this ill-equipped BF, we sense that Elaina will do the fixing.  Ms. Turvey has us on the edge of our seats as Elaina's demeanor and psyche demonstrate that she is eager to take her attraction for the dead up a level or two. This one will have you squirming and fans of "Excision" will see "Dead Sexy" as a perfect companion piece to that film.
Ms.Turvey is a brilliant film maker who will someday grace us with full length features.  Ms. Cosgrove is sexy and scary as the young med student.  If you like horror that seeks to make us uneasy and squirm....see "Dead Sexy." To view this film on YouTube click on this link Dead Sexy Link

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Battle Royale II, The Rise of the Children.

After "Battle Royale," is anyone really up for another 40 or so children being murdered in bloody spectacle? too. Hence, 2003's "Batle Royale II," complete with spurting blood from jugular veins, dozens of great looking middle-school adolescents meeting their demise in bloody fashion, and....dozens of Japanese special forces troops also being pureed.  The game must go on....and this Battle Royale is just a bit different, though no less violent.
Okay, instead of the Battle Royale emanating from education reform (who isn't for education reform?), this one, known as BR2, emanates from Japan's Millennium Anti-Terrorism Act (who isn't against terrorism?). Surviving from the last Battle Royale is Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara). Not a happy soul after being forced to murder his classmates, he becomes a terrorist who has waged war on adults. He, and his group, Wild 7, have blown up lots of buildings murdering lots of adults...and children. Japan wants this worthy foe exterminated.  Enter a middle-school class of 40, filled with delinquent children.
The new game has this reluctant class armed with automatic weapons, and fitted with explosive necklaces, set loose on the island Shuya is hiding.  The class must kill Shuya, or else they will all be killed.  The children land on the island and are beset by machine-gun fire and bombs. This scene is cut right out of "Saving Private Ryan." Shuya and his minions have no idea they are mowing down children, believing it is the Japanese army. With only a few survivors, Shuya implores them to join his cause in the war against grown-ups (sort of a demented Peter Pan). They do, and Japan sends in the marines.  All out war ensues, and the blood flies, spurts, and gushes. Can there be a truce? Nope. What is the end game for Wild 7, if they survive?
This sequel brings up new questions. Have our sweet children become the monsters that they are indeed fighting?  Has our failure as a civilized society to protect our children from violence begat a fate too evil to turn back from? Or is this just a really violent exploitation film? You decide, and enjoy.  "Battle Royale II" is available on Netflix. Yeah...I heroic middle school teachers out there are saying, "I know those kids."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Phantom Ship, Come Aboard and Die!

Not quite the Love Boat, but 1935's "Phantom Ship" proves to be a ton more interesting. Lots of homicide awaits the doomed voyage of the Mary Celeste, which is no surprise as Bela Lugosi is on board.  Movie goers, who in recent years saw both "King Kong" and "Dracula" at the theaters, had no idea that this film, though a minor B-movie, would hold bigger shocks.  So let us look at a grim, and surprising film which might have turned off audiences in an era gone by.
In 1872, the Mary Celeste is found derelict, floating in the Atlantic.  The fate of it's 11 man crew and the beautiful wife of the captain is a mystery.  No one knows what evil befell the last voyage, except those of us who saw this film.  Captain Briggs (Arthur Margetson) is sailing a cargo of whiskey to Genoa and brings sultry blonde wife along. Sarah (Shirley Grey) has just dumped another sea captain in order to marry Briggs.  Not a planner, Briggs goes to a seedy maritime bar to find a crew for the voyage, which is the next day.  His volunteers are all drunk (...which is actually how the U.S. Marine Corps began), and cut throats.  Oh yes....Anton (Lugosi), is a last minute addition and he just so happens to have a score to settle with the Bilson (Edmund Willard), the First Mate.
The all too trusting Briggs also allows Sarah's jilted fiance to supply a crew member....never a smart idea.  Everyone on board has a motive for homicide, and one by one the bodies start amassing.  Poor Sarah!  She is going to have a tough voyage and when a salty dog tries to rape her, Anton saves her by killing the fiend, and earning the praise of the husband Captain. As the 11 man crew dwindles, someone attempts to murder Sarah and the Captain.  Now the stakes are too high and Briggs desperately tries to identify the killer.  I know what you're thinking....this is a 1935 movie and the ending will be neat sending audiences home happy.  Wanna bet? What takes place in the final third of "Phantom Ship" is hardly neat and  uplifting...that's all I'll say.
Will Sarah's flirtatious past doom her to become shark bait? Are Anton's heroics just an act to gain the trust of the Captain and Sarah before he reveals a more evil side? Though most of our characters are repulsive, we really cheer for Sarah's, our glamorous damsel, survival. She is just too pretty to die. Available on YouTube, "Phantom Ship" is a film that did not win the award for Feel Good Film of 1935.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Night Watch, Good vs. Evil in Moscow

Last October I reviewed Day Watch which is the sequel to 2004's "Night Watch." Both films were directed by Timur Berkmambetov and filmed in Russia. Ambitious, action packed, gory, and playful, these films are fascinating.  Sadly, the sultry Russian rock star, Zhanna Friske died recently (immediately after giving birth to her son).  So again, let us look at an apocalyptic tale featuring vampires, shape-shifters, ancient prophecies, witches, and magic.
Anton (Konstantin Khabenskiy) is key in the battle between the light ones and the dark ones. Most are born into one of these camps, but Anton is special.  He is an "Other," and chose his side.  Uh oh, his son is also an "Other," and will be soon asked to choose.  Evil forces have a head start and beckon Anton's the form of a beautiful vampire (pictured below).  To make matters more complicated, Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) finds herself in the middle of Anton's pursuit of his wayward son.  Svetlana has been cursed, and all who enter her life meet their demise.  Svetlana's curse will eventually cause a decisive battle between light and dark which could destroy the world...unless Anton can find the source of the spell.
Anton must battle vampires and magic in order to save the world, and his efforts appear to be falling short.  Help is on the way, the forces of light match him up with Olga (Galina Tyunina). Because of crimes long ago, Olga was turned into an owl.  She is restored to human form perhaps with a chance at redemption.  Anton would remark to her that he has never heard of that punishment....for which Olga informs him, "You have never heard of the crimes I committed."  Quarterbacking the dark forces pursuit of Anton's son is the supreme dark one, Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitskiy), who proves to be a formidable foe.  His minions include a beautiful rock star, Alisa (Friske), who will duck out of a sold-out concert at his asking.
Like "Day Watch," this sounds so complicated.  The key to understanding both these films is not to try to figure them out.  By the final credits, you'll get it.  The ending provides a smooth segue to the equally energetic sequel.  Discussion of a third movie in this obvious trilogy may have been derailed by the all too premature death of Ms. Friske.  Available on Netflix....enjoy the ultimate battle of good and evil.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, Here...Hold My Beer...

Yep, "Here, hold my beer," is a quote always followed by carnage.  A trip to the ER perhaps. Stitches are a likely possibility. In rare cases a tourniquet should be applied.  In 1979, Alfred Heineken was kidnapped for a gargantuan ransom in Amsterdam.  This is the story.  In 1979, the usual suspects included the Red Brigade and the IRA.  In reality, five schmucks pulled this off....actually "pulled this off" is not the applicable term here.  What most schmucks, seeking to get rich fast, soon find out is some wisdom shared by Alfred Heineken...."You can either have a lot of friends or have a lot of money...not both." Today we examine 2015's "Kidnapping Mr. Heineken."
Our schmucks are likable sorts.  Their business went bankrupt and the banks won't give them loans. Squatters have infested the building they own. Cor (Jim Sturgess), the leader has a pregnant wife, Sonja (Jemima West). Cor thinks big and with his chums, concoct a plan to kidnap the richest man in Holland...Alfred Heineken (Anthony Hopkins).  To pull it off, they need money for guns, supplies, and equipment, so they rob a bank....successfully! Then they grab Heineken, and believe it or not, they do a good job. We watch this movie from the point of view of the villains, and do not see all the police work being done, but are privy to stupid mistakes our gang makes along the way.
Uh oh....there doesn't seem to be any rush for anyone to pay the ransom, and the deadline comes and goes.  Heineken begins to work on his captives and he is clever. Also abducted is Heineken's driver, and the beer magnate fears that our gang will kill him first now that the ransom has not been paid.  As days turn into weeks, our kidnappers begin doubting themselves and bickering sets in, testing their allegiance to the original plan. Not killers at heart, killing their hostages is now an option they consider. Confidence and patience have gone out the window and paranoia has entered all their minds.  From history, we know Mr. Heineken will be recovered, but what of our in-over-their-heads-gang?
The epilogue is fascinating, and part of one of the greatest crime stories in European history. Anthony Hopkins is fantastic and so are our villains.  Next time you throw back a few cold ones, remember that the suds in that green bottle have quite a dramatic history to them.  Shot largely in Amsterdam, the scenery is beautiful. Available on Netflix, don't miss "Kidnapping Mr. Heineken."

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Faculty, Grease with Monsters

High School! The best times of our lives? I think not. At Herrington High in Ohio, one can safely assume an all-star cast were subject to the most terrifying years of their lives. Salma Hayek! Elijah Wood! Famke Janssen! Jason Patrick! Clea DuVall! Jordana Brewster! Piper Laurie! Josh Hartnett! And more! So picture "Grease," take out the sappy music and sickeningly sweet smiles, add in tentacled parasite creatures and illegal drugs and we are left with 1998's "The Faculty." Oh! One more thing! This movie was directed by Robert Rodriguez!
Stokes (DuVall) emerges as our favorite character. An outcast high school student, pseudo-Goth, and big science fiction fan. Her biting theory, a correct one, is Herrington High is going through an 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' type transition. With no friends, she forms an alliance with Casey (Wood), the picked on nerd. The teachers have all been infected with an alien parasite which causes them to seek water all the time and to crank up the AC. World domination is their quest.  We see the gory take-over of their human hosts, including the pretty school nurse (Hayek). Now six students come together to fight the menace and save the world.  This motley crew includes the cheerleader captain (Brewster), the class drug dealer (Hartnett), the star quarterback (Shawn Hatosy), the sultry new kid, Marybeth (Laura Harris) and of course Stokes and Casey.
Uh oh! They may be the last humans at Herrington.  Double uh oh...Zeke, the dealer, may have the only solution.  Zeke, a big cocaine dealer, accidentally finds out that Cocaine will kill the parasites. He finds this out when he stabs his science teacher (Jon Stewart) in the eye with a pen filled with coke. As our group conspires and plots, the infected faculty and students plot to branch out. Thanks to Stokes, the group figures out that the parasitic fiends must have a queen who controls them, and they must kill it.  Is the queen a teacher. another student, or one of them?  Time is running out and the aliens are closing in.  The final half hour will be gory, horrific, and action packed. Oh yes, we are treated to a classic scene when a beautiful teacher, Famke Janssen loses her head, revealing a tentacled menace.
Perhaps "The Faculty" is a metaphor of how lonesome and alone outcasts are in our high school culture. Or, perhaps this is just a gory horror film with some great looking actors and actresses. "The Faculty" works on both levels.  So you kids out time you feel compelled to tease the Goth or the nerd who hangs out in the AV room...remember, that poor soul just may be the sap who ends up saving the world.  "The Faculty" is available on Netflix.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Maze, The Monstrosity in the Castle

What lurks in the bowels of an old Scottish castle? Ghosts? Too easy! Today we look at a very atmospheric film, complete with fog, cobwebs, long dark hallways, and something mysterious slithering just beyond the candle light....1953's "The Maze," in 3D! This film includes a sensational performance by Veronica Hurst. Ms. Hurst portrays our pretty and dainty heroine who never shows fear, even though everyone else in this film does. Locked doors and cryptic warnings just won't stop this lady.
.On vacation just before their wedding, Kitty (Hurst) and Gerald (Richard Carlson) are so happy...even though Kitty's Aunt Edith (Katherine Emery) is along as a chaperon. Uh oh....a mysterious letter calls Richard back to his family's castle in Scotland.  When Richard doesn't contact Kitty for weeks, her and Edith head to the Scottish moors to find Gerald.  When they arrive at the castle, they find it has no modern amenities and Richard has aged 20 years.  Unfortunately for Kitty, her fiance has broken off the engagement and wants Edith and her to leave.  Kitty refuses, but is subject to the odd castle rules, such as being locked in her room at night and forbidden to go into the maze adjacent the castle.
Kitty tries her best to get to the bottom of the mystery which has taken Gerald away from her. Strange noises emanate from the rooms upstairs and at night, Kitty spies someone..or something in the maze. Gerald is bent on getting Kitty and Edith to depart, but Kitty comes up with a plan. She lures some friends over to observe Gerald and help her solve the mystery. Meanwhile, something upstairs is slithering and leaving trails of weird footprints.  Double uh oh, Gerald is engrossed in a textbook about monstrosities of organisms.  Not to be defeated, Kitty dons an elegant, and shapely white party dress and makes her way to the maze after if we didn't see this coming.
Will our lovely protagonist meet up with a monstrous horror in the forbidden maze? Is Gerald insane, or is he attempting to protect Kitty and Edith? What is this macabre family secret that necessitates Gerald reading a tome on monstrosities?  Ms. Hurst is beautiful and courageous. Richard Carlson (Creature from the Black Lagoon) is menacing and mysterious. Available on YouTube, this is a gem from before our time but well worth a look.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Battle Royale, Child Carnage from Japan

Spurting blood from jugular veins! Arrows through necks! Axes in heads! Cute adolescent girls mowed down by machine-gun fire! Decapitations! Grenade in a mouth! Shocking when all this carnage is inflicted on a middle-school classmates.  2000's "Battle Royale" may be an over-the-top exploitation film (...the Japanese are great at these).  Or....perhaps this grouchy uncle to "The Hunger Games" is biting social commentary regarding how society is devolving in it's treatment of children.  You decide...but for lots of gore, killing, and exploitation...."Battle Royale."
In one shocking scene in a lighthouse, several cute young girls, seemingly friends, suddenly turn on one another with weapons, thereby turning each other into bloody corpses. See, "The Millennium Education Reform Act" mandates a school class be randomly picked to participate in the Battle Royale. Crime is out of control in Japan and so is unemployment. Youth crime is skyrocketing, and desperate problems give way to desperate government solutions. Our middle-school class is filled with great looking kids, and only one survivor will emerge.  The kids are brought to an isolated island, given weapons and explosive necklaces and ordered to kill.  If the kids do not kill, the necklaces will blow their heads off.
Oh yes...some ringers have been transferred into this class. A psycho-killer kid and a survivor of a previous Battle Royale.  With a bloody backdrop, Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and Noriko (Aki Maeda) form a cute bond (puppy love?). Other groups form, but can anyone trust the others in his or her groups? Probably not, after all, only one will be allowed to survive.  The more gentle of the children are murdered almost immediately.  The truly evil among them seem to have an advantage. Can our two lovebirds plot a strategy to avoid their murderous friends and also survive?  The odds are not in their favor, and the blood baths taking place around them suggest this task will be impossible.
Ahhh, but wait! Some of these adolescents are really smart.  Their island tormentors, the keepers of the Battle Royale, may have some vulnerabilities themselves.  The class of 43 is soon whittled down to single digits, as we see all the gory killings.  Take this film as you like, but it is bloody and violent and very uncomfortable.  Available on Netflix, I maintain this is an important film from Japan.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Diabolical, Ali Larter vs. The Poltergeist

...or so it may appear.  Ali Larter is one of this blog's favorite actresses. From "Final Destination" to her role as Claire Redfield in the "Resident Evil" films, she is impressive.  The pretty blonde can easily take on the role of the kick-but heroine and still keep her femininity.  So today we examine 2015's "The Diabolical." In this film she plays a struggling single parent desperately trying to keep her home and children.  She's tender, tired, and vulnerable.  Sound dull?  Don't worry, by the time the end credits'll see that Claire Redfield side of Ms. Larter again.
As our film begins, Madison (Larter) is under attack from a poltergeist (....or is it?). She repels it, and the next day a team of paranormal investigators flee her home in utter terror. Madison has just gotten rid of an abusive husband and is about to lose her home in bankruptcy.  Her son Jacob (Max Rose) is manifesting violent behavior at school and has drawn the attention of a social worker from the state. Oh yes, her little daughter, Haley (Chloe Perrin), actually converses with the entity.  So what is the big deal? Each visit by the entity results in more horror. Sometimes it looks like a bald fiend in a jump-suit, other times it looks like some humanoid that has just been microwaved. As the thing starts injuring her children, Madison gets more desperate.
Oh yes...a slimy mortgage guy offers Madison way more for her house than it is worth. Why? Is this too good to be true? Yep.  Double uh-oh...she falls in love with Nikolai (Arjun Gupta), a compassionate teacher.  Triple uh oh...they engage in pre-marital sex. Is Nikolai too good to be true?You'll see.  Nikolai discovers Madison's problem (...or does he know more than he is letting on?). He's thrilled because apparently he is an amateur paranormal investigator. Together with Madison they go to work and the discoveries they make are surprising. An all right, but underwhelming ghost story? That's what "The Diabolical" looks like. But wait! The last twenty minutes is a game changer. Gore, blades, circular saws, impalement, gun shots, ice picks, saws, and slashings abound!
The ending is weird...and then it gets weirder. No spoilers here, but you'll be thinking about this ending for quite awhile. Just who is that slimy mortgage guy? Is Nikolai a friend or foe? Exactly what is that entity that keeps terrorizing Ali Larter and her family? Will Madison's pre-marital sex lead to carnage for her and her children?  Available on Netflix, do not turn "The Diabolical" off after the first hour or you will miss a terrific tale. So as we eagerly await the next "Resident Evil" film, enjoy this one.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Attack From Beneath, Get Her Darn Bot Back Up

Okay, so this film only received a 1.7/10 rating on IMDB. So maybe it is a cheap rip-off of "Pacific Rim." Made by our friends at Asylum, probably for the Syfy Channel, we look at 2013's "Attack From Beneath," which had an original title of "Atlantic Rim." If you despise made for Syfy Channel films, you are not going to like this one. However, if you are like me, and enjoy those straight-to-DVD quality masterpieces, this work will outshine any of the over-rated bore-athons nominated for Best Picture at next month's Academy Awards.
After two babes in a sub (Jinhi Evans and Sara Bond) are annihilated by a sea monster, Admiral Hadley (Graham Greene) calls in the secret weapon. Huge robots! Yep...think "Pacific Rim." Manned by three cocky, and great looking, operators, these robots will fight the sea creature. Red (David Chokachi), Tracey (Jackie Moore), and Jim (Anthony "Treach" Criss) go looking for this Godzilla wannabe.  When Red chases the thing onto a heavily populated beach, and eventually kills it, there appears to be cause for celebration. Of course, it is never that easy in these types of movies. Another egg hatches, this time a bigger creature is set loose on the Atlantic coast.
NASA and the U.S. Navy run the bot program, and the rivalry is intense. No time for bickering as the new monster attacks the naval base and quickly swims up to New York City. After a renegade commander sends a nuclear force to New York, the Admiral sends his bot teams up there. Jim, Tracey, and Red must do battle with the fiend on the streets of the Big Apple, kill it, all before the USS Virginia nukes Yankee Stadium. So there is the plot in a nutshell. If "Pacific Rim" left you with glaring questions about the other ocean...then this is the film for you.  Our three bot operators are perfect for this film and the interplay between them (in and out of their machines) is terrific. the scenes from New York look oddly like the streets of what! So the bots look like Transformer what! So whole plot devices are stolen from "Pacific Rim," so what!  Big sea monsters...beautiful babes in peril...and lots of huge navy ships...what more do you need?  Where else will you see a submarine thrown at an aircraft carrier? Be overly critical if you must, but for a good time, take in "Attack From Beneath" aka "Atlantic Rim."      

Friday, February 5, 2016

Altered, What's That on your Intestine?

We all know them.  Perhaps none of us take them seriously. They have short attention spans. Holding a job is almost impossible to these guys. They don't get our humor.  Occasionally they have emotional outbursts.  ADD...ADHD...PTSD....Lactose intolerant...yep. These chosen few...were indeed aliens.  The abducted community.  They were beamed up into UFOs and experimented on.  Upon their return to Earth, they tried telling the truth...which only got them medicated or institutionalized.  But someday...all of us will know we should have listened to their warnings.  From the director of "The Blair Witch Project," Eduardo Sanchez, today's feature from 2006, "Altered."
15 years ago a bunch of good ole boys from rural Florida were abducted by aliens and experimented on.  Most of the schmucks were cut loose on the first day, but not Wyatt (Adam Kaufman). Wyatt was special, he merited extra attention. Our aliens even implanted a tracking device in his intestine before setting him loose. Upon being set free,our fiercely independent yokel operated on himself with a hunting knife and removed the device from his innards. Here is where our film begins, our good ole boys want to exact vengeance on the aliens who abducted them....bad idea. By pure luck they capture one, but have no plan what to do with it.  Otis (Michael C. Williams), Duke (Brad William Henke) and Cody (Paul McCarthy) bring it to Wyatt.
Wyatt ain't thrilled to see this thing as he is doing his best to forget what happened to him 15 years ago.  Uh oh....the wounded creature knows Wyatt and reacts violently.  See, whatever the aliens did to Wyatt, they altered him, made him most dangerous to their survival.  Wyatt goes right to work knowing the monster has a tracking device. Wyatt cuts it out of him letting us see alien intestines. This just ticks off our antagonist and it soon escapes and attempts to heap it's own vengeance on it's human tormentors.  The thing is mean and after Cody is infected by an alien scratch, we witness a most gruesome deterioration. Wyatt knows a painful truth.  If they kill the ugly thing, the aliens will wipe out Florida and maybe parts of Georgia.
As war escalates in this rural garage of Wyatt's, is there victory? Kill it and live....for a few minutes. Or be killed.  Wyatt must come up with a plan while his friends are having their organs ripped out. This is a moody, grim, and action packed horror/scifi film.  The acting is great and the gore is at a maximum level. So for Heaven's sake, if you know someone like Wyatt, take their advice and WATCH THE SKIES and "Altered."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Alien Raiders, Homicidal Alien Aisle 4

What if "The Thing" had taken place in a supermarket instead of a remote Antarctic outpost? What if the hero of that classic horror tale was a stockboy instead of MacReady the helicopter pilot? Before you answer those questions, consider 2008's "Alien Raiders." "The Mist" and "Intruder" may have to give way to "Alien Raiders," which may be the best horror film ever shot in a supermarket. Heavily influenced by "The Thing," let us look at "Alien Raiders."
A highly trained, and armed tactical team converges on Hastings Market in Buck Lake, Arizona for an apparent robbery. This team appears psycho as they seemingly gun down innocent, defenseless customers in the aisles.  Uh oh...this ain't a robbery, and those innocents were anything but. Ritter (Carlos Bernard) heads the team, and just happens to be a cast-off from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This team? Alien hunters. Ritter and his band find aliens, who are hiding in human bodies, and kill them.  The team has a spotter, who has the ability to sense the fiends inside their human hosts.  Uh oh...a cop in the market kills the spotter during the take-over.
Now Ritter's team is barricaded inside the market with some horrified employees, perhaps some bloodthirsty aliens, and the Buck Lake Police waiting outside...also heavily armed.  Detective Seth (Mathew St. Patrick) plays the hostage negotiator, and he soon finds out that Ritter and his peeps may not be robbers.  The team knows the alien king is hidden in someone's body...but who's? Without the spotter, Sterling (Courtney Ford) must perform a very painful and bloody test, manually, on all the market's occupants.  As our alien king goes on the offensive, picking off real humans, and the SWAT team gets ready to make an entry, Ritter must act fast and come up with a better plan to identify and kill our creature from outer space.
Jeffrey Licon and Samantha Streets are super as scared teen-aged market employees trying to survive the invaders and the monster,  Whatever plans our tormentors from deep space have, Ritter is determined to end them at Hastings Market. Are the aliens that explode out of people in this film a mere metaphor for hormone injected cattle which permeate our meat departments in today's supermarkets?  Yeah...probably not. You would have to ask director Ben Rock that question, as he is the brilliant director of this fast-paced scifi/horror gem.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Absurd, Italy's answer to Halloween

Last month we looked at Joe D'Amato's "Anthropophagus." Today we examine this Italian horror director's follow up to that film. Though the gore is as intense as his earlier film, D'Amato has created a blood curdling rip-off to the American horror classic "Halloween." Complete with a 'boogey man' who doesn't seem to die, a mysterious stranger in pursuit, and synthesizer musical score, 1981's "Absurd" is a jewel for slasher film fans. Oh "Halloween," the last 30 seconds is classic!
Nurse Thelma
As our film begins, Mikos (George Eastman), a monstrous slasher, splits his intestines open as he is being pursued by a weird priest (Edmund Purdom). Expected to die, the operating surgeon notices that Mikos' blood coagulates at superhuman speed, and he heals.  While recuperating, Mikos drills through the head of his pretty nurse and flees the hospital. Sgt. Engleman (Charles Borromel) joins forces with the priest pursuing our maniac.  The priest is also a chemist and lets the cop know that Mikos escaped from the church's lab (who knew they had those?), and is invincible except for the brain.  For some unknown reason, Mikos makes his way to the Bennett house, where young Katia (Katya Berger) is confined to her bed recovering from spinal surgery.
Nurse Emily
On the way to the home, Mikos knocks off some poor schmucks in most gory fashion. One unfortunate is done in by a table saw in an elongated and bloody scene. Our priest/cop duo are in pursuit but have no idea where he is.  With the Bennett parents at a Super Bowl party (Rams-Steelers), pretty Peggy (Cindy Leadbetter) is watching over Katia and her little brother. Like the nurses in this film, she will not fare well. As the Rams intercept Bradshaw, Mikos arrives at the Bennett home and cooks Katia's nurse, Emily (Annie Belle). Uh oh...paralyzed Katia will have to think fast and man up to survive this fiend and also save her brother.
Why is Mikos so bent on destroying the Bennett family? Does a bed-ridden Katia have any tricks up her sleeve...or sharp objects that can pierce a cranium? Will Bradshaw stop making mistakes and engineer a fourth quarter comeback?  With apologies to my nurse friends out there, "Absurd" is a terrific horror film...even though much of the plot is a carbon copy of "Halloween." Available on YouTube, enjoy this Italian classic.