Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ABCs of Death 2

The sequel once again repeats the first "alphabet anthology" film's formula. Also again the sequel will have tales that will either appeal or not appeal to each individual viewer. Each is directed by a different indie director, with ABCs of Death 2 providing them with a short, short film format to show their talents. Some fail miserably (Ti West, who had already made a name for himself, but you wouldn't have known that from his piece of shit in the previous ABCs of Death) while others make the most of the opportunity given to them.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter with the Crites: Critters 2, the Photograph Album

This is a companion piece to my 2012 blog review for Critters 2.

I could think of worst ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than with the fine folks at Grover's Bend. Garris sure gives Critters fans what they want even if the creatures are less menacing and more cartoonish than in the first film when they terrorize Grimes (who returned in a fun lead for this sequel); the money's worth is ample crites of various shapes and sizes. The number of faces like Barry Corbin, Lin Shaye, Eddie Deezen, Terrence Mann, and Don Opper are a treat. Even the bunny rabbit (well, the current sheriff in a bunny outfit) gets eaten! This also features the infamous monster ball of rolling crites combined to work down a country side to eventually run over and devour one unfortunate farmer! The Freddy Krueger pop culture reference was a neat reference. And Playboy gets a nice shout out as well.

Critters 2 (1988; Mick Garris)

Guess what day it is? Easter with the Crites, of course!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Deadly Friend


Kid genius isn't about to let the girl he adores just die, and the obliterated remnants of his cute robot could support him in keeping her alive.

*****/***** (more for my own personal love than content quality)

Voyeur Confessions

Lisa is quite interested in "sexual studies" but what happens when she herself becomes a part of the study?
***/*****

Nightmare in a Damaged Brain

Nightmare in a Damaged Brain (1981) is everything I imagined it would be. It runs that gamut of madness, bloodshed, cliche, and violent indulgence a slasher fan might hopefully anticipate. A deeply troubled trauma sufferer with psycho-sexual hangups and this unyielding repetitious  nightmare seems to be considered "rebuilt" and rehabilitated by his doctors...but we all know he's far from well.

Sex triggers a savage inside him that is encouraged no matter how much he wants the psychotic urges to stay away. Medication and the rehabilitative tricks of the mind can only do so much to halt the noise of the psychopath who wants out to play. And does that bad boy want to play.

The uncut version is the way to go if you want to see a severed head at the end of the bed opening her eyes, surrounded by chopped body parts and blood splatter as the killer is reminded of his responsibility for why her presence torments him. There's the pointy end of a hammer mutilating a babysitter. There's an ax murder that decapitates a woman and spreads blood all over a bedroom while her sex partner (tied up after their plans of kink are interrupted) begs for the gruesome murder to stop, himself receiving the weapon right in the forehead. There's involvement in a child both wielding an ax and shooting a handgun and rifle. So shocking violence rules the day in this blunt force object of a movie that gives Pieces a run for its money.

Don't worry as the killer takes a walk into the XXX district of The Big City, and some "strip room" dancers offer their naked treats for the viewer as he gazes inside from the position of a little window while the gradual psychosis renders its ugly head. And it has that giallo-Fulci "let's go crazy extreme" vibe and total disregard for taste, particularly in its presentation of sanity lost and how sex is a driving force in the violence.



There certainly is those films that bridged the giallo of the 70s and slasher of the 80s. Nightmare in a Damaged Brain is such an example.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

House of the Dead (1978)


A salesman finds himself at the doorstep of a funeral parlor as the rain comes pouring down. The mortician requests kindly for the salesman to stay awhile and listening to some stories regarding his clients, particularly with how they wound up in his establishment.

**½ / *****

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Those Dang Kids


I watched this last night about eleven, and I even jotted half a review down prepared for my woefully neglected IMDb account as of late. Sinister 2 (2015) is another one of those low budgeted Blumhouse joints that more than recouped its cost substantially. This I wrote about on my other laptop taking a nap on the dvd shelf. I have commented on how too much time was spent on the evil dark spirits of those damned kids following their insidious, emerging-from-the-shadows deity. These kids were about on par with the devotees of He Who Walks Behind the Rows in the many, many Children of the Corn films. The series does seem to hinge on the mystique of cult diety Bughuul, and how it works like those Onryu with their sea of black hair waving open to reveal that penetrating eye and pallid skin, using technology, from the past and present, to unveil it's imposing presence. But the kids getting plenty of exposure in their mission to seductively lure a new boy into their fold kind of disintegrate some of that mystique. I think the less is more approach would have worked a lot better. The snuff films introduced by the ghost kids to their potential recruit and the unsettling monogram music which underlies what happens to the families as they are murdered while recorded does work somewhat. They just yap too much and don't quite posit the ominous creeps needed to get under the skin. Bughuul, too, is less a force of nature than a minor supporting player who pops up on occasion to make a guest appearance.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lot 249



An archaeologist major at an unnamed college receives a crate carrying the body of an Egyptian mummy (not sure where he was able to get it from or how) and uses it as a destructive force against a rival for grants that could help him achieve success and make a career and the girlfriend who underhandedly opposes him in favor of her boyfriend who undeservedly is awarded in the process. A fellow tenant in the apartment he lives will not take kindly to a mummy killing his best friend and sister and so a struggle for ultimate revenge results in the unsavory finality through the read words of a powerful scroll.

**/*****

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Embrace of the Vampire 2013


I think vampire films can produce certain results with simple scenes like above. Vulnerable prey, seemingly unaware of a predator in their midst, could be victimized at any moment. As seen above, a sleeping beauty, as was the case with Lucy in Dracula (1931), in her own bed, isn't safe from the potential vampire bite.


Friday, March 4, 2016

The Monster Club




As I mentioned in my previous blog post regarding Price and Carradine’s involvement in The Monster Club (1981), I was rather excited to finally see the film just because they were in it together. And they do share enough time in the film to at least please me. I wish it was more but we get what we get. In regards to horror anthologies, I think fans of Amicus or Corman have certainly seen better. Carradine and Price take the roles they’re given and play them for amusement. Price as a vampire at least fulfilled my horror dream’s bucket list: seeing him bear the fangs for a moment was a cool moment for me personally. Carradine as a victim soon flattered and lauded by admirer Price (Carradine is a horror novelist; Price is a vampire follower who wants him to join him at a club featuring monsters of all kinds) just kind of shrugs off the blood depleted from his throat as if it was no biggie! Price also tries to move away from the bite and blood removal, seemingly rejuvenated by the drawing; previously before taking from Carradine, Price was not in good shape. All of this takes up about ten minutes. Carradine is out at night, crosses a window display of his most recent book, walks near an alley, is surprised by a slurring, sickly Price, and in an offering of help is bitten on the throat. Then we get to the club of the title, with Price telling three tales to Carradine while disruptive, intrusive musical interludes make fucking sure to disturb the flow of the anthology. The music might appeal to you, but I was moving past the onstage performances to get back to the horror.

Macumba sexual: Closing thoughts






I did want to close with some final thoughts before moving on completely from Macumba sexual. The ending is rather fascinating to me. The “it’s all a dream” twist is a standard bearer of such films as this. It is kind of a bummer but I guess it should be expected. However, Lina Romay’s character isn’t the same. This whole surreal fantasy has left her scarred. Obongo is forever etched in her psyche and sexual subconscious. Within all the psycho-sexual madness and rampant nudity, I think Franco gets the point across that deep inside Romay is a desire that wantonly created itself from the ether. Inside her Obongo represents this loud aching yearning to be set free. The foursomes that emerge, how Romay just goes manic on Obongo’s vagina at the end that results in her “demise”, and the unleashing primal scream at the end that frightens her man while in bed (after awakening from her total fantasy once it “dies”) are these provoked urges exploding. I kind of dig the approach and idea. I think many of us perhaps harbor similar urges but are seemingly in control enough to not allow Obongo to overtake us. Others allow Obongo to have her say, allowing the urges to take harvest and unveil themselves in one way or another. Although I can’t say I was enamored with the naked bodies on display in this film, the situation I found quite arousing. There is one scene where Romay gives in and lets Obongo and her minions tongue her naked body…and towards the end once again the phallic artifact in the shape of a figure Obongo might consider important to her is used to pleasure Romay. These instances build up to the climax where a rabid Romay just goes berserk on Obongo while she lays there inert and barely responsive. I wasn’t quite fond of that decision, but I think the point was a reversal of roles…Obongo becomes the “victim” and Romay becomes the “carnivore”. Romay, to her credit, is fearless. She goes with whatever Franco wants and embraces the lusty devotion to what her character “endures”. 
 
With Franco, you get the good and the bad. The divisive nature of his films is quite revealing when he’s mentioned in conversations. The quantity is quite exhaustive. I think Macumba sexual is one of his key films during the latter part of his career. I certainly think his equipment and the location are a step above a lot of the work directed in the 70s (and towards the very end of his career), and Franco just seemed inspired. To reiterate, I think if you are a fan of Romay and her body, this film gives you plenty. That wig, though….yikes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Real Club of Two







When Christopher Lee died, I had this deep gasp, and then I let out a profound sigh as the news sunk in. Losing one of the last remaining "holdouts" to death, as a fan of the horror icons I had to accept that time takes from us and all we have left behind is the work. The great, the good, the bad, and the ugly. There's also the mediocre. But seeing those men emerge on screen--whether or not it was Carradine, Pleasence, or Price--even in the worst brought a special smile to my face and warm feeling that, despite the material, these are actors that had something special about them, a significance.




Why would Fred Olen Ray exploit the faintest of Carradine material whenever he could (or allow it to be used by others) unless he realized that this man he captured on camera meant something to an audience he hoped to draw to his film. We rehash the bad in our minds often. I know that I don't like looking back at Lugosi during the Ed Wood years unlike others who seem to revel in those movies. Like Lugosi's "pet tentacle creature" actors were wretchedly attempting to sell being killed by as his drug-usurped body was noticeable as he played yet another mad scientist in a film with zero budget. I know many just giggle away at that because of its unintended revelry in ineptitude. Ed loved Bela, and as a serious fan of the actor I respect his excited desire to feature the man in his *movies* (used loosely). If I had the good fortune of this, I guess I would, too.




I have an unfinished write-up of The Monster Club (1981) coming up in a few days for the blog. I watched it Sunday, but time has been a bit scant. That, and I wanted to give a little room for a bit of focus on Price and Carradine, two actors who work the wraparound story of the anthology directed by Roy Ward Baker. I mention in that write-up that it appeared Price was at least having fun with the cheeky dialogue and the dancing with a portly member of the titular club. He's a vampire which made me a bit giddy. He didn't portray a vampire much in the past prior to this (no role comes to mind, anyway; he did kill them in the I Am Legend inspired tale, Last Man on Earth (1964)), but I was happy to seem him take a bite out of the role. He's not sinister in the least, and this is played as pure parody. Carradine, for his role, was comfortable and relaxed as the human horror novelist who Price realizes is the right fit for the Monster Club he is a loyal member of. Price was in a weak state, needing blood for strength, and Carradine just happened to be in the right place and right time, servicing his need for nourishment. He doesn't take but what he needs and Carradine is fine (just depleted).

Seeing them together was a treat for me. It wasn't necessarily that the material was worthy of them: perhaps they fared better in Pete Walker's House of the Long Shadows. But in the latter part of their careers, as the horror genre just had little left of real quality to offer them (at least Price was beautifully cast in Edward Scissorhands), Price and Carradine together at least gave us, the viewer, one of the last pairings of legends during the twilight of their careers and lives. Price and Carradine stayed busy until the very end: they are missed.

The wealth of films we can go to and see the likes of Price and Carradine, no matter the variety or quality, means we have the chance to see them in any number of genre films. The Monster Club isn't an example of either actor at their best. Well, the film itself isn't particularly noteworthy although the two elder statesmen of the horror genre just went with it; I think they truly understood that the material wasn't exactly a knock-your-socks-off affair.

But I couldn't tell you, going into the film, how stoked I was to finally have a copy and get a chance to watch a later Price horror film featuring Carradine sharing the screen with him...even if in a limited capacity. The sheer volume of films the two starred in constitutes the chance you might actually have something available (eventually) with them you haven't seen yet. I just jive off the fact that perhaps something remains with these two I haven't seen yet. Sure, Billy the Kid versus Dracula left me feeling for Carradine as I did for Lugosi in Bride of the Monster (Adamson was a kind of Ed Wood during the 70s), but there were times he did somewhat redeem himself. Poor Lugosi, not so much. Price, however, had The Whales of August at least...

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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...