DAGON (2001) - This is a welcome return to H.P. Lovecraft territory by director Stuart Gordon and screenwriter Dennis Paoli, both responsible for the classic RE-ANIMATOR (1985) and the near-classic FROM BEYOND (1986). After their boat crashes on some rocks during a sudden storm, Paul (Ezra Gordon) and girlfriend Barbara (Raquel Merono) manage to make it by raft to the tiny fishing village of Imboca. Paul charters a fishing boat to go back to his boat to rescue his friends while Barbara goes off with the local priest to get the police. When Paul gets to his boat, he finds his friends missing and when he gets back to shore he finds that Barbara has also gone missing. The residents of Imboca start pursuing Paul as he starts to realize that these are not normal people. They are a misshapen, deformed lot, with tentacles for hands, gills on their necks and sunken, bulging eyes. While Paul is hiding from these mutants, he meets the town drunk (Francisco Rabal in his final performance), the last human resident alive in Imboca. He tells Paul the story of how this town became this way: When he was a boy, the town was going through tough times. There were no fish to be caught and the people were getting desperate. The people rejected God and began worshipping Dagon, an undersea creature/deity who promises them gold in return for their obedience and faith. Soon, the fishing nets are bringing up gold artifacts and the people are happy (and rich). But this type of happiness comes with a price. Dagon begins demanding human sacrifices and the people start mutating into what Paul sees today. It seems Barbara has been chosen to be Dagon's bride and bear his children. Paul tries to stop this from happening and also must deal with the strange feeling that he's been here before (he has recurring dreams about swimming underwater into a strange symbol-filled cavern). This film has a dream-like quality which you don't find in most horror films. The constant rain and weird set pieces make this film seem like one long fever dream, but without the lapses in logic. Stuart Gordon is masterful here, slowly pulling you into his world, not giving away too much information until you need to know it. The town of Imboca is the main star here, with its' dark cobblestone streets, dank rain-soaked houses and total lack of humanity. The hotel is not fit for human occupancy as Paul soon finds out when he first steps into town. Things go downhill very quickly for him soon after. I know what you're thinking: "What about the blood?" I'm glad to report that there's plenty on hand here, some pushing the boundries of its' R rating. Francisco Rabal's skinning alive is particularly cringe-inducing as is the shocking death of Barbara (sorry, spoiler!) and other surprise bits, including the unmasking of some of the mutants (including the High Priestess, played by Macarena Gomez, who has a thing for Paul). DAGON is a highly atmospheric tale which should be viewed by anyone with a taste for horror and the perverse. This Spanish-lensed film also stars Brendan Price, Birgit Bofarull, Ferran Lahoz, Alfredo Villa and Uxia Blanco. Producers Brian Yuzna and Julio Fernandez's Fantastic Factory have also released FAUST: LOVE OF THE DAMNED (2000) and ARACHNID (2001) with more to follow in the coming years. A Lions Gate Home Entertainment Release. Rated R. If you're in the mood for an alternate take on the same subject matter, you could try director Peter Svatek's interesting, but highly flawed BLEEDERS (1996 - a.k.a. HEMOGLOBIN).

DARK TOWER (1987) - Failed horror film that is better known for its troubled production history. Producer Sandy Howard replaced Freddie Francis (TALES FROM THE CRYPT - 1972) as director (when he walked off the set), with co-scripter/executive producer Ken Wiederhorn (SHOCK WAVES - 1977). When both Francis and Wiederhorn saw the disaster of the final cut, they both opted to take the shared fictitious name "Ken Barnett" as director credit. Despite a great cast of seasoned pros, this film is just too damned disjointed to make any impact and for those of us unlucky enough to remember POLTERGEIST III (which was made a full year later!), severe deja-vu is about to set in. The construction of a new highrise tower in Barcelona, Spain is plagued with many mysterious accidents; such as when a window washer is supernaturally attacked by some unknown force after watching Unico Ltd. architect Carolyn Page (Jenny Agutter; LOGAN'S RUN - 1976) disrobe in her office and he is thrown 29 stories to his death, landing on a Unico executive and crushing him to death (all off-screen). Unico's head of security, Dennis Randall (Michael Moriarity; BLOOD LINK - 1982), is called in to investigate and finds Carolyn's story hard to swallow (he believes it was simply a strong wind or the window washer committed suicide), yet he begins to have strange psychic visions from the moment he steps into the building (like having sex with Carolyn, a woman he has just met). A security guard is the next to be killed when the elevator he is riding in develops a mind of its own and freefalls 30 stories. Carolyn can feel that something is wrong with the building when the windows start bleeding and her office door handle jiggles by itself. When Dennis' partner, Williams (Robert Sherman), investigates the elevator death, he becomes possessed, pulls out his gun and begins randomly shooting at people exiting the elevator, almost killing Carolyn before an injured guard shoots him in the back. Dennis is rightfully perturbed ("Something screwy is going on here!"), but when he starts seeing ghosts, he begins to look into Carolyn's background and the building's history. It turns out that the ghost he has been seeing is Carolyn's dead husband, who passed away two years earlier. Dennis' visions come much more frequently, including one of Carolyn running through the hallways of the building; her clothes all torn and disheveled. Dennis asks his girlfriend, Elaine (Anne Lockhart; TROLL - 1986, also starring Moriarity), to dig up some dirt on Carolyn's dead husband and she finds Maria (Patch Mackenzie; GRADUATION DAY - 1981), who tells Dennis that Carolyn's husband was a "prick" and he drowned, yet his body was never found. It also seems that Carolyn may be responsible for his death and probably tried to kill him two times previously, but failed. Dennis contacts prominent parapsychologist Dr. Max Gold (Theodore Bikel), where we discover that Dennis has strong psychic powers called "precognition" (well, duh!). The doctor agrees to help Dennis uncover the truth and he begins interviewing Carolyn's executive assistant, Tilly Ambrose (Carol Lynley; BEWARE! THE BLOB - 1972), who doesn't like the questions the doctor is asking. When Carolyn shows up at Dennis' apartment and Max tries to interview her, she hurries out the door mumbling stuff about "witch doctors and gypsies" (a bad looping job obviously done by someone other than Ms. Agutter). Max enters the haunted building on his own, detects a supernatural presence and is nearly killed in an elevator. Max asks a real medium named Sergie (Kevin McCarthy; INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS - 1956) to help him and Dennis unravel the mystery and, in the finale, most of them die as Dennis becomes possessed by Carolyn's dead hubby, turns into a prune-faced demon and makes Carolyn pay for her murderous sins.  There's not much to recommend here since the film moves at a snail's pace (there's an awful lot of extraneous elevator footage here, much of it used to bridge scenes that were apparently not finished) and the actors, especially Michael Moriarity and Jenny Agutter, look bored beyond tears to be starring in what is obviously a troubled set. It's not only obvious very early on what is going on at the building; it's so easy to figure out, a nine year-old could guess it and probably write a better screenplay (which is credited to Ken Blackwell, Robert J. Avrech and Ken Wiederhorn). The final third of the film is severely disjointed and makes very little sense, especially the participation of Kevin McCarthy, who is supposed to be a world-class medium, but all he does is walk around the building in a drunken haze. Add to that a violence level that is very low (most of the killings occur off-screen), absolutely no nudity and a storyline that just meanders along until its uneventful conclusion, and DARK TOWER is nothing more than a failed supernatural thriller whose behind-the-scenes controversy is far more interesting than the film itself. Also starring Rick Azulay, Radmiro Oliveros and Josh Batalla. Originally released on VHS by Forum Home Video with a laserdisc release by Image Entertainment. Not available on DVD. Rated R.

DANCE OF THE DEAD (2008) - Oh dear lord, another zombie comedy? What hath SHAUN OF THE DEAD wrought? Thankfully, this is one of the best (if not the best) in the wake of zombie comedies that came after SHAUN's success. A cemetery near a nuclear power plant spawns an army of the walking dead, just in time for the Hawaiian Hula Prom at Cosa High School. Before that happens, though, we are introduced to the students and faculty of the high school, including: Jimmy (Jared Kusnitz; DOLL GRAVEYARD - 2005), the class joker who never takes anything seriously, which leads to the breakup with his girlfriend Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick) hours before the prom; Steven (Chandler Darby), the leader of the Sci-Fi Club who never goes anywhere without a video camera attached to his face; Gwen (Carissa Capobianco), the head cheerleader that Steven has a crush on; Nash Rambler (Blair Redford), the lead guitarist in a lousy punk band; and Kyle Grubbin (Justin Welborn; THE SIGNAL - 2007), a multi-body pierced hothead with a thing for JACKASS-styled stunts. When the dead begin to rise from their graves (they don't just rise, they leap out of their graves in a well-handled and visually exciting sequence) and eat Gwen's new boyfriend as they are necking in the cemetery and chowing-down on a member of the Sci-Fi Club when they are filming an amateur horror video, Jimmy teams with Kyle and Gwen and make their way to Lindsey and Steven, who escape the graveyard and hole-up with the remainder of the geeky Sci-Fi Club. Along the way, Jimmy discovers that the nuclear power plant has been illegally dumping waste in the sewers, which is causing everything dead to come back to life (including a dissected frog in Biology class, which jumps down the throat of cruel teacher Mr. Hammond [Jonathan Spencer], turning him into a zombie). When Jimmy and the gang get to the house that Lindsey is hiding in, they discover that it is actually a funeral home, which makes everyone's lives a little bit harder, as they not only have to fend-off the zombies outside, they must also contend with the dead customers inside. Kyle becomes the first victim, bitten on the neck and turning into a zombie, forcing Jimmy to kill him with repeated blows to the head with a pipe. The survivors steal a hearse and head to the prom and on their way discover that Nash Rambler and his band have found a way to neutralize the zombies for a short period of time: Playing their music live! With the help of football Coach Keel (Mark Oliver; SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND - 1988) and his arsenal of weapons, they all head to the prom for the ultimate battle.  I must say I was quite impressed with this gory horror comedy. Director Gregg Bishop (THE OTHER SIDE - 2006) and screenwriter Joe Ballarini (also the 2nd Unit Director) have fashioned a very funny flick (with lots of name-dropping, including a couple of funny lines of dialogue involving Craig's List and Red Bull) without skimping on the red stuff. Particularly impressive is Greyson Chadwick as Lindsey, a character who is so religious, she demands that everyone forms a prayer circle before the climatic battle and also refuses to swear, using the term "effin" every time she wants to say "fuck". She's a hoot-and-a-half to watch, especially when she has a weapon in her hand killing zombies left and right (It seems religion doesn't get in the way of killing, as long as those being killed are already dead!). There are a lot of impressive kills on view, all imaginatively done and gory as hell, with plenty of decapitations and other head violence, appendage-yanking, a funny scene of a body being torn in half and a really nasty tongue-biting scene, followed immediately by some hilarious hot zombie sex. There's a fine line that is usually crossed in these horror comedies, where the humor detracts from the horror and vice versa. I'm glad to say that this is not the case with DANCE OF THE DEAD. It finds that rare balance where the laughs and blood actually compliment each other. I know I am probably going to get a lot of angry emails for saying this, but I haven't enjoyed a zombie comedy this much since RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985). It's that good. I'm still laughing thinking about Nash Rambler and his band playing an extremely slowed-down version of Pat Benetar's "Shadows Of The Night" at the prom to stop the zombies dead in their tracks. Favorite line: "But I don't know how to shoot a machete!" (Spoken by Gwen when Coach Keel doles out weapons to everyone in his garage). Filmed in Rome, Georgia. Also starring Randy McDowall, Michael V. Mammoliti, Mark Lynch, Hunter Pierce, Lucas Till and James Jarrett as the mysterious gravedigger. A Lionsgate Entertainment DVD Release through their Ghost House Underground division. Rated R.

DAWN OF THE LIVING DEAD (2004) - One man wrecking crew David Heavener (DEADLY REACTOR - 1988) strikes again, this time directing, producing, writing and starring in a zombie horror film. And wouldn't you know it, besides the clumsy direction, badly-recorded sound and general ultra-low-budget look, this film actually has some effective moments. Engaged couple Jeffrey (Joe Estevez) and Renee (Amanda Bauman) buy a house sight-unseen in the California desert at a place called Heaven Valley, not aware that the previous occupants, a Mexican family, were savagely shotgunned to death by an unknown assailant. Renee instantly falls in love with the place, but she soon begins having visions of the Mexican family being murdered and a dead little girl keeps showing her visions of things past and future. Renee also finds some Mayan artifacts scattered throughout the property and brings them into the house, which is also festooned with Mayan artwork on the walls. In the sky, a rare aligning of the planets is taking place and the dead Mexican family rise from their unmarked graves in the desert as bloodthirsty zombies and begin their path of destruction by eating a couple of "jackals" (Steven Bracy and Carrie Gonzalez, who has a nude scene) and the two wetbacks they have tied-up. Renee finds a book and homemade CD that explains that when all the planets align, the people that died an unjust death will rise from their graves to get their revenge. Renee meets electric windmill operator Michael Richards (Heavener) on one of her daily walks and invites him to dinner. At dinner, Renee reveals that she spent the last two years in a mental institution after her daughter (from a previous marriage) was killed by a drunk driver. Jeffrey was the doctor that helped her regain her sanity and they've been a couple ever since. Michael reveals to Renee and Jeffrey that the house they are living in use to be a safehouse for wetbacks that illegally crossed the border (he also makes his hatred of Mexicans known to the couple). To make a long story short, Jeffrey gets drunk and jealous and then tries to rape Renee, Michael and Renee begin an affair and Jeffrey is graphically devoured by the zombie family. Renee and Michael must defend themselves from the zombie horde, but a twist in the story shows that not everyone is as good as they pretend to be.  This cheapjack production is actually enjoyable if you ignore the gaping plot holes and just go along for the ride. While the acting is nothing to write home about (Can it be possible that Joe Estevez actually has no talent?), I've definitely seen worse and some of the zombie effects are pretty gory, including Estevez's head being torn off and the birth of a zombie baby, who gets revenge on his daddy, in one of the film's unintentionally hilarious highlights. Another funny moment is the appearance of former DIFF'RENT STROKES (1978 - 1986) bad boy Todd Bridges as Heavener's retarded co-worker, Ruben Herardo. He sports a set of ogre teeth and a prosthetic beer gut and is virtually unrecognizable. Even though he is given fourth billing, he's in the film for less than three minutes. I guess he needed some coke or bail money. David Heavener (who also wrote the opening and closing song "Mombie Zombie") is one of the last people in the business who is an industry unto himself. He keeps churning out no-budget flicks up to this day, still choosing to make his movies using actual film rather than videotape or digital video. While DAWN OF THE LIVING DEAD (originally filmed as CURSE OF THE MAYA in 2004, but not given a release until 2007) is nothing more than a seat-of-the-pants production, some fun can be had here if you can get past the cheapness of it all. Also known as EVIL GRAVE: CURSE OF THE MAYA. Also starring Andrew Crandall, Lauren Aguas, Elizabeth Webster, Robert Aceves, Maui Yang and, just so we know nepotism is alive and well, Adena Heavener and Libertie Heavener. A Hannover House DVD Release, who usually released Christian-themed family films. Rated R.

DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1976) - The first thing that came to mind when I inserted this Blu-Ray of the PG-Rated "nature gone amuck" horror film into my player was that how many of the main stars are no longer with us (Only two are still alive!). The director also passed away in a helicopter crash (he was only 30 years-old) after making one more film (THE MANITOU - 1977), which was released theatrically in the U.S. three months after his death in January 1978. This film was very sad for me to watch; not that it is a bad film (far from it), but because I always was an ardent fan of the director and all of the deceased actors (who appeared in many of the director's films). The premise for this film is very 1970s: Because of the abundant use of fluorocarbon gases in aerosol spray cans, the Earth's protective ozone layer is severely damaged, letting dangerous amounts of ultra-violet rays reach the surface of our planet, starting with high-altitude areas. The opening on-screen scrawl says that this motion picture dramatizes what COULD happen in the near future IF we continue to do nothing to stop this (A mere two years later, in October of 1978, the FDA would order the phaseout of "non-essential" uses of fluorocarbons in spray products. Could this film have helped this happen? Who knows?). The film opens with Steve Bruckner (Christopher George; GRIZZLY - 1976; R.I.P.) leading a group of hikers on a two week trip down a 5,000 foot mountain, not heeding the warnings of Ranger Tucker (Walter Barnes; PIGS - 1972; R.I.P.), who tells Steve that there have been many reports of "accidents" at that high altitude. The group of hikers and Steve take two helicopters to the top of the mountain and we are introduced to them and their quirks: Bossy and racist advertising executive Paul (Lesiie Nielsen, who would become a comedy icon in AIRPLANE - 1980; R.I.P.); Native American tracker Santee (Michael Ansara; IT'S ALIVE - 1973; R.I.P.), the brunt of Paul's racist remarks; former football player Roy (Paul Mantee; WOLF LAKE - 1978; R.I.P.), who blew out his knee and was forced to retire; cheating husband Frank (Jon Cedar; LITTLE CIGARS - 1973; R.I.P.) and his unforgiving wife Mandy (Susan Backlinie), who are on this trip to try and save their marriage; Professor MacGregor (Richard Jaeckel; THE DARK - 1979; R.I.P.), who is on this hike to study nature; divorced mother Shirley (Ruth Roman; IMPULSE - 1974; R.I.P.) who has brought her inquisitive young son John (Bobby Porter) for some bonding time; young couple Bob (Andrew Stevens; THE TERROR WITHIN - 1988) and girlfriend Beth (Kathleen Bracken); and TV reporter Terry Marsh (Lynda Day George; PIECES - 1982; who, like Stevens, is still with us at the time this review was written). As soon as our group starts their hike, they see such unusual sights as buzzards and eagles perching together in trees and when they camp out for the first night, Santee says to Steve, "There's something strange in the woods and I don't know what it is." Steve asks Santee to keep it between themselves for now because it won't take much to panic the "city folks". That night, a wolf attacks Mandy, so, the following morning, Frank takes her up the mountain to the nearest Ranger station to get her medical attention, while the rest head down the mountain on their hike. Paul keep making racial epithets of Santee's ancestry (stupidly calling him "kemo sabe" and other Native American insults) and generally making himself a pain-in-the-ass to the rest of the group (even challenging Steve's role as leader). Frank and Mandy continue to fight about his adultery while they head up the mountain, until Mandy is attacked by a flock of buzzards and falls to her death over a cliff to the boulders below (an awful optical effect), even though Frank tries to save her. Frank finds a young, dirty mute female child (Michelle Stacy) and when he gives her a slice of an orange, he is attacked by an eagle, so he grabs the young girl and heads for the nearest town (he just lost his wife, so he has a new purpose in protecting this young girl, since it's apparent that her parents have been killed). When the rest of the group discover that their first food drop has been raided by animals, Paul blows a gasket and wants to be the new boss, but the rest of them vote him down, preferring to stay with Steve. Meanwhile, Ranger Tucker gets a call from the main Ranger station telling him that animals are attacking people at 5,000 feet, so the Army is called in to evacuate the town and then the hikers on the mountain. Tucker is attacked by a pack of rats in his home (a very good and bloody scene that could never be shown in a PG film today), but he escapes after pulling a rat off his face and cutting its head off with a knife. He sends his wife to safety and then heads to town to help with the evacuation, but there a rabid-looking, scroungy dog that seems to follow his every move (more on the dog and Tucker later). Steve and his hikers are attacked by a pack of cougars that night and everyone chips-in to help one another, except Paul, who looks out for himself like the selfish jerk he is. Paul, once again, tries to assert his authority, only this time Shirley (and her unwilling son John), Bob and Beth stupidly aligned themselves with Paul (thinking it will be easier to hike 15 miles uphill to the Ranger station than 30 miles downhill to the town). Steve tries to tell them they are making a big mistake, but Santee tells him, "You can't save fools from themselves.", as the rest head down the mountain with Steve. Paul shows what a bastard he is to his four new recruits by violently abusing everyone (including repeatedly throwing young John to the ground) and trying to rape Beth. When Bob tries to intervene, Paul impales him in the stomach with a homemade spear, killing him. As a raging thunderstorm hits, Steve and his group find and abandoned mine for shelter, while Paul and his remaining three scared-to-shit prisoners are exposed to the elements. The now quite-mad Paul curses God ("You see what you want and you TAKE it!") and tries to rape Beth again, only this time he is interrupted by a grizzly bear and decides that he is strong enough to kill the mighty beast, so he charges the bear (they both put each other in a bear hug, in a winking moment to the audience), only for Paul to be mauled to death (How's that for cursing God?). Frank and the young mute girl make it to town, only to find it abandoned (except for a whole lotta rattlesnakes and that pesky mangy mutt). Frank puts the young girl in an abandoned vehicle for safety while he goes looking for a car that works, only to be bitten by rattlesnakes and attacked by the dog, killing him while the little girl watches horrified. Beth is bitten by a pack of wild dogs when she, Shirley and John discover a destroyed helicopter (the dogs are making a meal out of the helicopter's pilot nearby), so all three lock themselves in the copter and wait for help. Steve and his group find some abandoned, windowless cabins and are immediately chased by another pack of dogs. They try to keep the dogs at bay in one of the cabins, but Roy and the Professor are killed, while Steve, Terry and Santee use a small dock as a raft and head down the rapids with two angry dogs as passengers. The following morning, everyone wakes up to find all the animals dead, thanks to our Government using an experimental virus on them. Some people are immune to the virus, but others, like Ranger Tucker fall victim to it, and the Army wants to know why some people survived it, so I guess it won't be smooth sailing for our survivors! Terry says, "It's finally over!", but we all know that it won't be for them.  Directed by William Girdler (ASYLUM OF SATAN - 1971; THREE ON A MEATHOOK - 1973; ABBY - 1974, GRIZZLY - 1976 and others), who would tragically die in a helicopter crash of his own while scouting locations for a film in the Philippines, doesn't give the large cast much to do (except for Leslie Nielsen, who get a chance to show his acting chops), except act scared while being attacked by various animals. But the attack scenes are well-filmed, using actual animals, building suspense, and Nielsen really does come across as a violent racist bully. The screenplay, by the late William Norton (I DISMEMBER MAMA - 1972; NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER - 1979) and his wife Eleanor Norton, is nothing but scenes of animals attacking people, but it is strangely satisfying all the same, since all of the effects are old-school and it is filled with great genre actors who are no longer with us. That's what surprised me most: for a film made in 1976, very few of the actors in it are alive today. For that fact alone, it is a great time capsule for seeing all of these actors collected together in one film. It also makes me realize how old I am since I originally saw this in a theater. Also starring Michael Andreas, Gil Lamb and an uncredited appearance from FRIDAY THE 13TH's (1980) "Crazy Ralph", Walt Gorney.  Originally released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment (also released theatrically and on VHS [by Applause Productions, Inc.] under the title SOMETHING IS OUT THERE), it then got a budget fullscreen DVD release from the now-defunct DVD, Ltd. before being released in a beautiful anamorphic widescreen print on DVD & Blu-Ray by Scorpion Releasing, the preferred way of watching the film. William Girdler should have become one of the premiere directors of genre films if it wasn't for his tragic death, so to get any of his films on disc looking this good is a blessing. Now if only someone would release ABBY on home video in the U.S. officially for the first time (The injunction by Warner Bros. for copying THE EXORCIST too closely [it doesn't] is no longer active and Warners has gone on record saying so.), I will be a happy man. Rated PG, but it is somewhat bloody in spots.

DEAD & ROTTING (2002) - On a dare, three drunken construction guys go to an old witch's house in the woods in hopes of winning a "12 pack". They are chased away by Pox (Christopher Suciu), the witch's son, who is really a black cat! The guys next meet Pox at a bar and he eggs their pickup truck. They beat up Pox, which doesn't sit well with the witch. She blows poison ivy powder in their faces and it causes them to break out in boils and get extremely ill. When they recover, they hire two stoner boys to go to the witch's house and break some windows. Being stoners, they go one further and kill Pox (who was a cat at the time) and cook him in boiling water. The witch vows revenge, takes a magical bath and turns into a beautiful woman (Debbie Rochon). She seduces all three guys and, after she fucks them all, performs a spell where she takes her afterbirth (!), puts it in a hollowed-out pumpkin and buries it. Before you can say "PUMPKINHEAD", three rotting demons rise from the ground and wait to do the witch's bidding. Can you guess what she wants them to do? After disposing of one of the stoners, the witch and the demons begin her revenge on the construction trio. Will the "whammy" (a spell made up of the cut-off fingers of the surviving males) save those who are left?  Directed without much style by makeup effects wizard David A. Barton (THE DEAD NEXT DOOR - 1989), the film fails on two levels: 1) Most of the acting by the cast is sub-par and 2) it's not very original. The good points are that it is capably acted by Debbie Rochon (who has appeared in over 100 films from 1995 - 2006!) and some of the effects are absolutely surreal (the dead plants growing out of the heads of the undead victims is very well done). Thankfully, the film has a short running time of 72 minutes, so it doesn't overstay it's welcome. It was executive produced by Charles Band and J.R. Bookwalter. This was the type of film Full Moon was making before it went into a self-imposed retirement. That should give you some idea as to the quality of this. Also starring Troma graduate Trent Haaga (who also produced), who was excellent in SUBURBAN NIGHTMARE (2004), Stephen O'Mahoney, Tom Hoover, Jeff Dylan Graham and Barbara Katz Norrod as the witch. The Special Edition DVD includes an early 11 minute super 8 short by Barton, a behind-the-scenes documentary, makeup effects footage, isolated music score (by Midnight Syndicate and others), commentary track by Barton and Hoover, still galleries and trailers. Not bad for the $6.99 I paid for it. A Tempe DVD Release. Rated R.

DEAD BIRDS (2004) - Hey, I'm a fan of horror movies that take place during the Western period of America, but this film would try the patience of even the most open-minded viewer. Besides a few jump scares, this film offers very little in the way of a coherent storyline. A group of criminals pull off a bloody bank robbery (the best part of this film) in Alabama after the end of the Civil War. They then head off to an abandoned plantation (which seems to be surrounded by miles of dead corn stalks) to hide out. Once inside the house, and after a confrontation with a creepy scarecrow and a skinned animal in the field, the criminals begin to act strangely, seeing dead children and slaves. It all has something to do with the house's previous owner (a cameo appearance by Muse Watson), who sacrificed his children and slaves in order to bring his wife back to life. It's all very confusing, slow and boring, with occasional CGI scares and a dabble of gore. The talents of Henry Thomas, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox, Isaiah Washington, Mark Boone Junior and Michael Shannon are completely wasted here as they do nothing more than walk around the house in a trance (and getting killed) as we are given very little information about their characters to really give a shit about their fate. They are cold-blooded killers after all, as the opening bank robbery shows, so why should we care about what happens to them? Director Alex Turner, in his first full-length feature, does imbue the film with loads of eerie atmosphere (a haunted well; a locked door that holds secrets; footprints that turn from human into animal) but atmospherics do not necessarily make a good film. The whole film reminded me of a dumbed-down Western version of director William Wesley's SCARECROWS (1988), without the scares and shudders. Can someone please tell me what the ending was all about? Does it have something to do with the circle of life? I had high hopes for this film after reading a bunch of positive reviews from the festival circuit. Don't believe everything you read. A Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Release. Rated R.

DEADFALL (2000) - Low-budget, shot-on 16mm EVIL DEAD (1983) clone. And, surprise! It's really bad. Environmentalist Stanley (Patrick Lawlor) is taking his girlfriend Dora (Audrey Lowe), her friend Hope (Kirstin Leigh) and Hope's boyfriend Rudy (Brady Fischer, also this film's producer and co-scripter) to a cabin in the middle of the woods to celebrate Dora's birthday and to also collect some water samples (Stanley could have done both things much more easier if he took her to Burger King and tested the water in the bathroom!). Stanley hasn't been to the cabin since he was a child, yet he doesn't seem too concerned with the little stone demon statues that litter the property. While Stanley and Dora are out in the woods collecting water samples and documenting their finds with a video camera, jokester Rudy discovers that the previously-locked door to the cabin's basement has now been mysteriously unlocked, so he heads down there to take a look (yeah, that's what I would do!). While holding his nose from the foul stench and stepping over an axe on the floor that looks to have dry blood on it (yep, that's something I would do!), Rudy discovers a weird box with the word "Gift" emblazoned on it and a strange brass demon head padlock, so he would do what every other conventional horror character would do and brings the box upstairs. He nearly breaks the demon head padlock with a screwdriver, but Hope lures him up to the second floor for some sex (phew, dodged a bullet there!). While Rudy and Hope are doing the nasty upstairs, the box begins to shimmy and shake on the coffee table. We then discover that Stanley's uncle, the owner of the cabin, is an expert on European folklore and has been collecting objects for years, storing them in the basement (we also discover that Dora's biggest fear is porcelain clowns! Well, they are a little creepy.). Later that night, everyone celebrates Dora's birthday (Her "cake" is a single Hostess Cupcake with a candle in it! I guess the Craft Service budget was non-existant on this film!) and then sit down in the living room to watch the video footage Dora shot earlier in the day. Dora is mysteriously drawn to the box on the coffee table and notices that the demon head padlock is unlocked, so she removes it and opens the box (another rookie move). Biggest. Mistake. Ever. An invisible evil force escapes from the box and begins playing games with the foursome. Rudy's reflection in the mirror tells hin, "You are dead!" Stanley's van takes off by itself without any apparent driver. Rudy becomes possessed (in a really crappy makeup job) and begins terrorizing everyone else. Stanley is attacked by a stone demon statue and then chops-up Rudy into little pieces with the basement axe (all of it off-screen). Stanley, Dora and Hope (who should change her name to No Hope) become trapped in the cabin when a mysterious wailing force surrounds the outside of the cabin (and Dora has a nightmare where she is attacked by a porcelain clown). Rudy comes back to play some more deadly games with the living (I guess the dead have a special supernatural glue that works with human body parts), but by the time the film finally ends, you'll be rooting for Rudy to finally finish off these people, who all have the charisma of a rock and the brains to match. NOTE: Apparently "Gift" in German means "Poison". I looked it up and they were right.  Oh, boy. Director/co-scripter Vince Di Meglio (CHRISTMAS NIGHTMARE - 2001) may have been "inspired" by EVIL DEAD, but he's no Sam Raimi. Where much of EVIL DEAD depended on the "anything goes" performance of Bruce Campbell and Raimi's frenetic directorial style and camera placements, DEADFALL has the dull-as-dishwater Patrick Lawlor (and later on, Kirstin Leigh) in the Campbell role and while Di Meglio tries hard with his camera placements and movements, by the year 2000 it had all been done to death in countless other horror films. The total lack of blood and gore throughout most of the film's running time certainly doesn't help its cause and the stabs at comedy (a possessed Rudy getting face-planted with a frying pan; Stanley going after Rudy with electric hedge clippers before running out of electric cord) seem more forced than funny. When the "tree rape" scene in EVIL DEAD is replaced here by Dora getting attacked by leaves (!), you'll say enough is enough. Why parody a film that was a parody to begin with? Don't waste your time with such tripe. There's also no nudity besides a shot of Rudy's ass pressed against the glass shower door. Really, is that what we really want to see when watching a horror film (gay men excluded)? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, DEADFALL can be considered a swift kick to Sam Raimi's ballsack. This is such a blatant rip-off of Raimi's film, but neither Di Meglio or Fischer bother to thank him (or recognize his huge contribution) in the closing credits. Screw them. Available on DVD from Lincoln Media Group. Not Rated, but I've seen more gore and nudity in a PG-13 Rated film. Not to be confused with the 1993 film DEADFALL, starring a manic Nicolas Cage and directed by Christopher Coppola (DRACULA'S WIDOW - 1988).

DEADLY END (2005) - Bob and Wendi Petersen (Jack Huston, Pell James) have just moved cross-country and are the new neighbors in a house on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood that can best be described as rundown (as Bob drives to his first day at his new job at ZeeCorp, he notices that nearly all the houses on his block are boarded-up and deserted). Bob finds out from co-worker Scotty (John Ennis) that the neighborhood was the victim of some chemical spill by the company he now works for (Scotty calls it the "ZeeCorp Love Canal"), but no one is allowed to talk about it in fear of being fired.  Bob and Wendi are about to find out why, as they meet the weirdest assortment of people this side of Twin Peaks. While Bob is at work, Wendi has the gas and electric turned on in their house and the utility man makes sexual advances towards her. When she turns him down, he walks outside and pisses on the house. The two elderly people who live next to them are deaf and strange. The old lady likes to drive her car on Bob and Wendi's lawn while honking the horn and later we see the two old farts taking a shower with bottled water. Someone leaves a bouquet of flowers at the front door for Wendi with a welcome letter (that looks more like a ransom note!), but as Wendi will find out later that night, the flowers are covered in poison oak (she wakes up in bed with her face covered in blisters and has to be rushed to the hospital). Wendy begins acting strange, hiding in moving boxes and not wanting to leave the house. Bob meets another strange neighbor named Adrien (Nick Searcy), who covers  his windows with newspapers and spend his days and nights listening to a religious radio call-in show. Adrien delivers some chocolates to Bob and Wendi's house as a welcoming gift, but as they will find out, the chocolates are filled with a horse laxative (Bob has a particularly bad bathroom accident at work, that's both nasty and hilariously funny). Adrien returns the next day with a gift of grape preserves, but Bob tells him to take his preserves and get lost. Adrien then threatens both Bob and Wendi's lives, calling them "damn sex whores" and returns in the middle of the night to sabotage the food in their refrigerator. Bob catches him in the act and calls the police, but as Bob will soon find out, the police are just as crazy as Adrien and everyone else on the block. When Bob tries to gather all the neighbors together to form a neighborhood watch, he and Wendi find out that no one dares speak badly about Adrien. When Bob and Wendi discover that she is pregnant, the film takes a gross turn that will most certainly make you laugh and wince in pain at the same time.  This sick and twisted film is like a black comedy version of the 1984 thriller IMPULSE, where a chemical spill causes a town to lose all their inhibitions. In this case, whatever was spilled (it's never explained or expanded upon after Scotty's off-hand remark about it to Bob) caused the people to turn totally insane and director/scripter Graeme Whifler (who scripted the equally outrageous SONNY BOY [1989] and the above-average horror comedy DR. GIGGLES [1992]) piles on the depravity, but always with a wicked sense of humor. My favorite scene is when we watch Adrien "masturbate" in his bedroom. He inserts a finger into a stitched-up incision in his stomach and repeatedly jams a hypodermic needle into his crotch while moaning like some schoolboy reaching orgasm. Both Jack Huston and Pell James prove to be good sports, as they spend a good portion of their screen time in the bathroom, either with a bad case of the "Hershey squirts" or puking their guts out, thanks to Adrien fucking around with their food and water. I don't recommend this low-budget film to new home owners, because it will make you very wary of your neighbors. Everyone has a neighbor they don't particularly care for, but this film amps up that fear to a whole new level. While not very gory (Until the outrageous finale, where Adrien performs a homemade C-section on Wendi and sticks his hands into her open stomach and then performs the same operation on himself, fondling his internal organs and removing a large tumor, only to be interrupted by the deaf old man. What happens next is truly mind-boggling!), the film makes you feel uncomfortable, such as the scene where Adrien spits into an unconscious Bill's mouth or when he turns off the electricity to the deaf old lady's ventilator. Nick Searcy (a great character actor probably best known to readers as portraying Deputy Ben Healy on the cult TV series AMERICAN GOTHIC [1995 - 1996]) is outstanding here as an insane individual who performs unnecessary operations on himself, including surgically removing his own penis (he shouts out, "No more dirty sheets! No more stinky juice!"). The ending of the film is somewhat of a letdown, but I guarantee that you will be sitting there with your mouth wide open, wondering if what you just witnessed wasn't just some bad fever dream. This is a darkly comic trip into a perverse sector of Twilight Zone, which should come as no surprise once you discover that Graeme Whifler started his career directing music videos for such eclectic bands as The Residents and Oingo Boingo. Originally filmed under the title NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH which is a much more fitting title if you ask me. Also starring Terry Becker and Anina Lincoln as the deaf old couple, Chris Ufland, Jerry Schumacher, Tim Devitt, Randall Bosely and a cameo by Irwin Keyes (LOVELY BUT DEADLY - 1981) as a garbage man. A Lunatic Entertainment DVD Release. Unrated.

DEADLY STINGERS (2003) - Director J.R. Bookwalter's homage to the giant creature features of the 50's is a double-edged sword: In its favor, it has many creepy moments, thanks to Director of Photography Mac Ahlberg, who has shot everything from Swedish erotic films of the 60's & 70's (and directed some of them, too) to some of the better 80's horror films, including HELL NIGHT (1981) and RE-ANIMATOR (1985). On the opposite end, this is directed by J.R. Bookwalter, who blew his wad with his first film, THE DEAD NEXT DOOR (1989), and then never recovered. This film was also Executive Produced by Charles Band, during one of the low points in Full Moon's history. Band initially agreed to make this film for 20th Century Fox, but Fox shelved it "due to a decline in the industry" (which is film-speak for "We didn't care for the film.") and, as of this writing, has yet to achieve a legitimate U.S. home video release in any form. Let's get all of the bad stuff out of the way first: There's plenty of sub-par acting, enough plot holes to start a swiss cheese factory and some really crappy (although quick) CGI shots of the monsters, in this case giant scorpions. All is not lost here, though, because there are some really good and gory makeup effects and the majority of the giant scorpion effects are practical. The story is simple (screenplay by C. Courtney Joyner [LURKING FEAR - 1994] as "Gene Yarbrough" and Bookwalter as "Lance Randas"): Some unscrupulous land developers allow toxic waste to be dumped on their desert property. Normal-size scorpions frolic in the toxic substance and turn into six foot killing machines (their POV shots make them see like flies), tearing apart the population of a small town, beginning with high school wrestler Eric (Jeff Dylan Graham), who gets his insides ripped-out by one of the sharp-clawed buggers just as he is about to rape Joey (Sarah Megan White), the sister of Alice (Marcella Laasch), a doctor who runs Fairview House, a halfway house full of ex-cons and recovering junkies. Mayor Carl Baxter (Jay Richardson; TOMB OF THE WEREWOLF - 2003), who hates the halfway house, blames the residents of said abode for the disappearance of some of the town's residents and the murder of Eric. Besides Alice and Joey, other members of the halfway house includes Jim Crane (Nicolas Read; SLAUGHTER STUDIOS - 2002), who may or may not be responsible for the murder of his wife, and crankhead Elroy (Trent Haaga; THE GHOULS - 2003), who sees imaginary demons due to his excessive past drug abuse (or is he pulling a fast one on Alice?). Mayor Baxter pressures Sheriff Evans (Stephen O'Mahoney) to arrest Jim for Eric's murder, but when the mayor gets killed by one of the snapping critters and county coroner Collins (Sewell Whitney, who pukes at the sight of dead bodies) narrowly escapes a scorpion attack, Collins and the residents of Fairway House must defend themselves as the scorpions lay siege to the building once the Sheriff is butchered by a scorpion. How do you kill mutant scorpions? Why, you find a way to use their deadly tail venom against them, that's how!  While not a badly-made film, DEADLY STINGERS has so many lapses in common logic that it becomes painful at times to watch. Why in the world would Jim be serving time in a halfway house in the same town where he supposedly killed his wife? If he didn't kill his wife, wouldn't it give the real killer just more opportunities to make Jim look guilty? How in the hell did Elroy get his hands on a gun when he's not allowed to leave the halfway house? How come the rest of the town isn't panicking? If you can get past these huge plot holes, some of the intentionally funny dialogue (much of it not funny at all) and the lousy CGI (which is usually just shots of multiple scorpions in the same frame), you may enjoy some of the bloody gore on view and the practical rubbery giant scorpion mock-ups (Trent Haaga, who is the best actor in the film, has the most memorable death. A scorpion rips-off both his legs and he tells the rest of the cast, "It looks a lot worse than it actually is" before dying). In some ways, this film is a throwback to all those giant creature feature films of the 50's, but then modern technology once again raises its ugly head to remind us otherwise. Look for blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos by Brinke Stevens, Ariauna Albright and Debbie Rochon. Also starring Lilith Stabs (seriously?) Jeffrey Sisson and Sunny Leone. The print I viewed was a DVD-R taken from a British cable telecast. No U.S. label available at the time of this review, although it would make perfect SyFy fodder. Not Rated.

DEAD MAN'S HAND: CASINO OF THE DAMNED (2007) - More Full Moon crap, directed by founder Charles Band. At one time Band showed some talent, directing such varied fare as CRASH! (1976), TRANCERS (1985) and HEAD OF THE FAMILY (1996), but he recently has been scraping the bottom of his career barrel, churning-out such mindless, boring drivel as THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005), EVIL BONG (2006) and this film, a ghost story about the evils of playing games of chance in a haunted casino. Matthew (Scott Whyte; REEKER - 2005) has inherited the abandoned and crumbling Dragna's Casino from his dead Uncle Franco (It looks as if Band blew most of his paltry budget on cobweb machines), where forty years earlier, Roy "The Word" Donahue (Sid Haig; THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - 2005) and many other people were murdered while gambling at the casino. Instead of bulldozing the casino to the ground and selling the property, Matthew wants to restore the casino to its former glory and reopen it for business (Never mind about important stuff like gambling licenses, building permits and such; this film would rather you not dwell on such things). Maintenance man Sam (Bob Rumnock) and a female realtor (Diane Mizota) are sent in advance to check the place out, but they are both killed in the casino's mens room by some unknown force (Sam has his face ripped off and the realtor has her head repeatedly bashed against the bathroom door until her skull bloodily splits open). Instead of wondering what happened to Sam and the realtor, Matthew and his girlfriend JJ (Robin Sydney; WICKED LAKE - 2008), along with friends Jimbo (Wes Armstrong) the pothead, Emily (Lily Rains) the closet lesbian, Skeeter (Kavan Reece; GRIZZLY PARK - 2008) the impotent and Paige (Kristyn Green; CARVER - 2007) the sexpot, head to the decrepit casino to clean it up and open it for business. Things take a bad turn from the start when JJ plays one of the dusty slot machines (that, surprisingly, still works!) and it pays out in human teeth. Skeeter takes a crap in a toilet that overflows with blood. Emily meets a blackjack dealer (Rico Simonini), one of the ghosts of the massacre forty years earlier, who challenges her to a game of blackjack (Emily is not only a lesbo, she's a math genius, to boot!). Skeeter meets another murdered ghost, Melissa (Jessica Morris; BLOODY MURDER - 1999), and suddenly there's some spring to his usually flaccid penis. Matthew and JJ are visited by the ghosts of Roy Donahue and Gil Wachetta (Michael Berryman; THE HILLS HAVE EYES - 1977), who tell them that Matthew's Uncle Franco hid two million dollars in silver in the casino and they want it (What in the hell are ghosts gonna do with a fortune in silver? They're fucking ghosts for Christ's sake!). Everyone becomes trapped in the casino (Suddenly, cellphone service stops, because, as we all know, supernatural forces can block the cellphones' service providers. Give me a fucking break!), as Roy, Gil and the other ghosts begin dispatching Matthew's friends in various, cost-conscious, low-budget ways, all having to do with games of chance. In the finale, Matthew must play Roy one hand of Poker, the winner getting both the silver and a chance to escape with their lives.  This has all the earmarks of a latter-day Charles Band flick: It's filmed on limited sets; has more talk than action; has most of the females in skimpy clothing, but stops short of actual nudity; and has special effects that are a combination of cheap CGI and even cheaper practical effects (The Melissa demon, who has one-armed bandit slots instead of eyes, elicits laughter rather than fear, as does the roulette wheel demon, who looks like a GHOULIES {1985] reject). The screenplay, by August White (Band's SKULL HEADS - 2009), is just a collection of stereotypical characters and clichéd situations, many of which don't make any sense at all. The only line of dialogue that made me laugh was when Skeeter says to Melissa, "Popping a boner over a dead chick? I gotta have my head examined!" Michael Berryman is totally wasted here, relegated to saying "Good one, boss!" whenever Sid Haig makes a quip. DEAD MAN'S HAND should be retitled LIMP MAN'S DICK, because the action is as soft as Skeeter's pecker, the story about as sharp as a wet noodle and the gore about as hard as kindergarten math. Skip it. A Full Moon Entertainment DVD Release. Unrated.

DEADMATE (1988) - Waitress Nora (Elizabeth Mannino) is sick of her job and sick of the people she meets such as the condom salesman who wants to give her a free sample in the back seat of his car. She is also sick of the recurring nightmare she has of having her heart yanked out while she watches, unable to move. So she chucks her job and her boring life when a handsome man in a limousine, John Henry Cox (David Gregory), walks into the diner and asks her to marry him. Nora has no family (she was brought up in an orphanage) so she jumps at the chance figuring the man has money and she will finally have a comfortable life. Things get a little strange for Nora. She finds out that John Henry is an undertaker when he drives her to his hometown of Newbury (the name has a double meaning). They immediately get married right in the Cox Funeral Home (I hope this name doesn't have a double meaning!). The entire town is anxious to meet her. John Henry likes his bed cold and when they make love he instructs her to be very still. Funerals in Newbury are very popular and have huge turnouts. Nora soon finds out why her new husband and the townspeople seem weird when she spies on them having intercourse with a dead girl's body. They are necrophiliacs and when they feel the urge they run some young girl off the road, bring her to the funeral home, drain her blood, give her electric shock and screw her. As one of the townies says, "It's much safer this way. You can't get AIDS from a dead person." When the body begins to decompose they cause another accident to supply themselves with a fresh corpse. Nora realizes she is next when she discovers a tombstone with her name on it in the local cemetery. This exercise in bad taste was written and directed by Straw Weisman, who was a collaborator with the late ultra-low budget auteur Andy Milligan (TORTURE DUNGEON - 1970; CARNAGE - 1982). Mr. Weisman shows much more talent in his directorial debut than Mr. Milligan could ever dreamed of having. A good story with generous amounts of black humor and gore (effects by Arnold Gargiulo,Jr.). Check out the motorcycle chase near the finale when the rider slowly decomposes as he tries to run the heroine off the road. Pretty creepy stuff. The end credits promised a sequel that never materialized. Probably the best film on the subject of necrophilia since Alfred Sole's 1972 X-Rated porn comedy DEEP SLEEP or director Jacques LaCerte's little-seen LOVE ME DEADLY (1972). Producer Lew Mishkin is the son of William Mishkin, who used to produce Andy's bombs. A Prism Entertainment Home Video Release. Available on DVD from Video Kart as GRAVEROBBERS (I don't like that title). Unrated.

THE DEAD NEXT DOOR (1989) - This is probably director J.R. Bookwalter's best film also it being his first film. Mainly financed by Sam Raimi (he executive produced this using the pseudonym "The Master Cylinder") and filmed in Super-8 over a period of four years, the story is generic zombie gut-munching stuff, but has a visceral energy which makes it stand out from the pack. The walking dead have taken over the Earth except for a force of people known as the Zombie Squad, who go around shooting all the zombies that they see. There's also the Reverend Jones (Robert Kokai) who plans on using the zombies for his own nefarious means. The story is inconsequential, as scenes of zombies biting into their victims or Zombie Squad members killing the zombies are shown very frequently (the film only runs about 70 minutes if you don't count the long end credits sequence). Flesh and guts are ripped apart, heads are severed or blown off and other body appendages are chewed or torn off. The effects are quite good (by Dave Barton [DEAD & ROTTING - 2002], Bookwalter and others) for such a super low-budget film and there is plenty of humor and jump-out-of-your-seat scares to go around. The question still remains: What in the hell happened to Bookwalter? Besides the halfway decent OZONE (1993) and POLYMORPH (1996), his output has been mainly sub-par SOV crap that was picked up by Charles Band or David DeCoteau. It seems he shot his wad (don't say that in front of DeCoteau!) on his first film and lost the spark that all good directors seem to keep at least for a few films. Bookwalter is a mainstay in the independent filmmaking world, even today, but I cannot understand why. Most of his stuff, including THE SANDMAN (1996), WITCHOUSE II: BLOOD COVEN (2000) and WITCHOUSE 3: DEMON FIRE (2001) are dreadful pieces of dreck. He has also produced, edited and written countless other films which I will not mention. THE DEAD NEXT DOOR will remain his crowning achievement and that's not a bad thing.  Also starring Peter Ferry, Bogdan Pecic, Jolie Jackunas, Scott Spiegel, Michael Grossi and Bruce Campbell dubbing the voices of several characters. Most of the characters names are famous horror directors, Anchor Bay has released a pretty good looking DVD of this film. There's plenty of grain (it is Super-8 after all), but they've remixed the film into Dolby Digital Surround and filled the DVD with plenty of extras, my favorite being the auditions of the actors/behind the scenes talent. Not Rated.

DEAD OF NIGHT (1999) - Sleeper of a film that never quite got the recognition it deserved, thanks to it's generic title (at least ten films share it) and lack of publicity or distribution.  Serial killer Leo Rook (Christopher Adamson) escapes off a prison ship headed for an isolated prison island and sets foot on a island with a lighthouse (LIGHTHOUSE is the film's original title). After killing most of the lighthouse residents, Rook turns off the light in the lighthouse causing the prison ship to crash on the jagged rocks. The surviving prisoners and guards, including new prison doctor Kirsty McCloud (Rachel Shelley), must learn to trust each other while Rook begins killing them in very gory ways. Dr. McCloud forms an uneasy alliance with prisoner Richard Spader (James Purefoy), who says he is innocent. Is he really? What secret is Dr. McCloud concealing? And what are Rook's motives for causing this shipwreck? While this might seem a generic description for hundreds of slasher films, DEAD OF NIGHT delivers where it counts. It's scary, involving and gory as all hell. I'm quite surprised that this actually received an R-rating in the States as there are many scenes of dismemberment (Rook really likes to decapitate people) and tense scenes of terror (try to watch the scene with the rolling aerosol can in the bathroom and not jump out of your skin). First time director Simon Hunter (THE MUTANT CHRONICLES - 2007) gives the whole film a genuinely creepy atmosphere, filming the kills in unusual ways (one kill can only be seen in a swinging window's reflection) and using fog, light and sound to great effect. The final 15 minutes are a spectacular white knuckle ride, so the less said about it the better. This is one film that should be on every slasher film fanatic's must-see list. What are you waiting for? This film reminded me of 1972's TOWER OF EVIL (a.k.a. HORROR ON SNAPE ISLAND), since they both deal with a killer murdering people on a deserted island with a lighthouse, but this one is much better. Also starring Paul Brooke, Don Warrington, Chris Dunne, Bob Goddy and Pat Kelman. An A-Pix Entertainment Home Video Release. Rated R.

THE DEAD PIT (1989) - I remember back in the early-90's that everyone was clamoring to get their hands on the Imperial Entertainment VHS of this title because of the raised plastic cover (Imperial also released BLACK ROSES [1988] in a raised plastic cover), where you pressed the creature's finger and its eyes would light up with a green color (Imperial also released a flat slipcase version, which was much easier to find). It took me a good couple of years to finally purchase the film in that raised plastic cover (pardon the look of the scan because it is nearly impossible to scan a raised cover clearly) and the eyes still lit up until about 2007 (now that's long battery life!), but I was kind of disappointed in the film, because to my eyes, it looked severely edited to achieve an R-Rating. A few years back, Code Red released a widescreen Unrated Director's Cut double-disc DVD of this film, adding over nine minutes of footage to the 92-minute R-Rated version (much of it the missing blood and gore), and the difference in watching the two versions is like night and day. The film no longer has a disjointed feel to it and the story, while still the same, makes more sense. The film opens at a mental health facility, where Dr. Gerald Swan (the late Jeremy Slate; BORN LOSERS - 1967) disagrees with the ways Dr. Colin Ramzi (Danny Gochnauer) is treating his patients. We then watch Dr. Ramzi giving one of his male patients a lobotomy by sticking a metal probe through the base of his eye and carrying him to an abandoned wing of the facility that is located in the basement under the clock tower. Dr. Swan discovers the still-living body of the patient lying on a table in the basement, his brain exposed with wires pulled tight to keep the skin separated, while formaldehyde is being pumped into his brain and arteries. Dr. Ramzi suddenly appears and tries to give Dr. Swan one of his patented lobotomies, but Dr. Swan pulls out a pistol and shoots Dr. Ramzi right in the middle of his forehead, killing him instantly. Dr. Swan then puts his foe's dead body in a basement room and seals the door with cement so the room cannot be discovered. Twenty years pass and Dr. Swan is still the head of the facility. A new patient, who they dub "Jane Doe" (Cheryl Lawson; THE VINEYARD - 1989) because she can't remember her name or anything about her life, is admitted for her severe amnesia. Jane protests, screaming that she doesn't have amnesia because her "memories were taken from me!" As soon as she speaks those words, an earthquake suddenly happens, and the basement door that had held the dead body of Dr. Ramzi for twenty years bursts open. Jane then says, "The people in the cellar need help!" Dr. Swan immediately knows what she is talking about, but even he will not be prepared for what is to come. Dr. Ramzi returns to life (or a facsimile of it), only now he has red glowing eyes and the bullet hole is still in the middle of his forehead. He begins to systematically kill staff and patients alike, usually by giving them eye lobotomies first (there is a lot of gory eye violence in this film) and then bringing them to the basement under the clock tower (which is now known as the "Dead Pit" because he disposes his victims' bodies in a pit in the floor). Somehow, Jane is involved in this mess (Dr. Swan hypnotizes her and finds out her name is Sara, but I'll keep calling her Jane in this review), as Dr. Ramzi taunts her relentlessly, first by throwing the decapitated head of the Head Orderly (Get it?) at her. Jane also has nightmares about Dr. Ramzi, whom she is sure is the one who stole her memories. Dr. Swan believes her, but Head Nurse Kygar (Joan Bechtel) treats her like a crazy loon. Jane finally realizes that her nightmares about Dr. Ramzi and flashes of her childhood are true, so she asks fellow patient Chris (Stephen Gregory Foster) to help her escape the facility. Chris manages to pry an outside door open and Jane escapes, but Chris is caught and thrown in a rubber room (the guards don't notice Jane running away). Jane hides in the abandoned clock tower until she figures out a way to get through the facility's high fences, but since that area is Dr. Ramzi's base of operations, she has to try to keep one step ahead of him when she discovers the mutilated corpses of his victims in the Dead Pit. Alas, Jane is caught by Dr. Ramzi and is knocked out. When she wakes up, she finds herself strapped to a table with Dr. Ramzi ready to perform his experiments on her. Jane sees all of Dr. Ramzi's victims, both past and present, rise from the Dead Pit as zombies. They begin laying siege to the facility, first making a meal of two security guards outside after ripping them apart (one zombie holds a freshly removed liver of one of the guards in front of the camera). Chris escapes from the rubber room during the mass slaughter (We see a bunch of zombies sitting at a table, eating the brains of some of their victims, like it is some formal dinner party!) and saves Jane, but they can't find a working car because the zombies have removed the distributor cap from all of them (Chris says something funny about the intellect of the zombies during this sequence). Dr. Swan hides and watches horrified as the zombies (all of them are literally drenched in blood) chow-down on his staff and patients and he is soon joined by Jane and Chris, where Dr. Swan tells them what he did to Dr. Ramzi twenty years earlier. Dr. Swan heads out on his own to destroy Dr. Ramzi, but soon finds himself strapped to the evil doctor's table, his brain exposed with Dr. Ramzi picking at it with needles (Picking his brain. Get the joke?). It's not long before Dr. Swan ends up dead. Meanwhile, Jane and Chris watch as crazy mental patient Sister Clair (Geha Getz) dissolves a zombie by throwing holy water on it. Chris get an idea of ending this whole horrible mess: He will have Sister Clair bless the large water tower on the premises and then Chris will collapse the water tower with a homemade bomb, flooding the facility, including Dr. Ramzi's Dead Pit, thereby dissolving Dr. Ramzi and his horde of zombies. But can they pull it off? Jane suddenly remembers her long-suppressed childhood memories, realizing that Dr. Ramzi is actually her father ("Come to Daddy!"). The film ends just the way most 80's horror flicks end: Just when you think the evil is destroyed, it is revealed that the evil actually survived, leaving the film wide-open for a sequel (which never happened with this film).  This is the first film by director Brett Leonard (he co-wrote the film with producer Gimel Everett). Based on the home video success of this film, Brett Leonard was given directorial reigns on several big-budget Hollywood films, including THE LAWNMOWER MAN (1992), starring Pierce Brosnan; HIDEAWAY (1995), starring Jeff Goldblum; and VIRTUOSITY (1995), starring Denzel Washington and one of the first U.S. films for Russell Crowe. Each of those three films dealt with cyber-reality in one form or another, but Leonard's film career stalled for almost ten years (he became a well-respected director of music videos, especially the groundbreaking ones by Peter Gabriel, and the long-running 3-D IMAX Short "T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous" [1998]). Leonard wouldn't return to films until 2004, when he made the low-budget Marvel film MAN-THING (which gets a lot of bad press, but I quite enjoyed it), then the really disgusting cyber-thriller FEED (2005; if you have never seen this one, be prepared and have a barf bag handy), and then the really lousy HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE (2007). While THE DEAD PIT is really nothing special, there is a sense of humor and symbolism everywhere, as Leonard seems to be winking at the audience in several scenes (such as a POV shot where the camera looks like it is being shown through a large keyhole, only to discover that it is the shape of cutouts on the walls in the clock tower). The blood flows rather freely in the Director's Cut, as we see one victim with a hemostat impaled in his eye, various body parts and internal organs ripped off bodies and eaten and Dr. Ramzi suffering a particularly juicy demise in the finale. We also get the old standby of a lighter not working trying to light the fuse to a bomb, while zombies are rapidly approaching. While the film is really nothing but zombie nonsense, it is enjoyable zombie nonsense with great makeup effects and is a good addition to your horror library. The Code Red DVD is long OOP (it was the ninth Code Red DVD, released in 2008), so you may have to shell out a large amount of moola to purchase it, but Jeremy Slate gives a running commentary during the film (along with Leonard and Everett) and he also has an on-screen interview as one of the double-disc's extras, just months before he passed away in 2006 (There's a nice, short tribute to him before the film plays). If you can find it for an affordable price, grab it (Sometimes, Code Red sells excess stock at their STORE, so check there before you buy it elsewhere.). Also starring Mara Everett, Jack Sunseri, Frederick Dodge, Netti Heffner, Luana Speelman, Randall Fontana and Rory Edelman as a young Sara in the flashback sequences. A Code Red DVD Release. Unrated.

DEAD SNOW (2009) - After hearing and reading good things about this Norwegian horror film about Nazi zombies on the loose in the snow covered mountains, I must admit that maybe my expectations were set too high, because after watching it, I found it to be nothing more than an average horror flick with some great location photography and some good gore and makeup effects. Storywise, it's the same old scenario that has been used in hundreds of horror films since FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980; which gets name-checked here, along with EVIL DEAD 1 [1983] & 2 [1987], APRIL FOOLS DAY [1986] and many other horror films since one of the main characters is a horror film nerd). Seven twenty-somethings take a weekend party vacation to a cabin in the mountains that is only accessible by snowmobile or a 45-minute walk. They get drunk, have sex and play Twister (Why? Because they saw it in a horror movie!), until a lone wanderer (Bjorn Sundquist) comes knocking at their door and warns them that the area they are in was once the location of a Nazi atrocity during World War II, where hundreds of people were mysteriously slaughtered. Up to this day, people still go missing, which worries Vegard (Lasse Valdal), since his girlfriend Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) decided to ski to the cabin instead of joining everyone else on the car/snowmobile trip and she hasn't arrived yet (What Vegard and the group doesn't know, but the audience does, is that Sara is already dead, as we watch her being murdered by persons unknown in the film's opening minutes). The wanderer should have listened to his own advice and left the area, because later that night he has his throat cut and is then torn to pieces in his tent by an unseen growling figure. When Sara doesn't show up at the cabin, Vegard takes the only snowmobile to look for her, while the rest of the gang amuse themselves with sled races and heavy drinking. Erlend (Jeppe Beck Laursen), the horror film nerd (he walks around in a BRAINDEAD [1992] tee shirt), discovers a small chest full of old gold jewelry, while Vegard discovers the disemboweled remains of the wanderer and then falls through a hole in the snow. Chris (Jenny Skavlan) becomes the first casualty of the group (second, if you count Sara) when she is attacked and killed in the outhouse and then Erlend becomes the next victim when a zombie rips his face apart at his eye sockets. It then becomes survival of the fittest, as the rest of the group tries to make it to safety or stay put in the cabin, while an army of Nazi zombies descends upon them. Using whatever weapons they can find (including a sledgehammer, a chainsaw, a WWII-era German hand grenade and tree branches), the group tries to fend off the zombies (most are unsuccessful), while Vegard (who was bitten by a zombie) makes an important discovery in a cave and races back to his friends (his snowmobile is now equipped with a mounted machine gun!). The resulting bloodbath is guaranteed to please even the most jaded of gorehounds, but disappoint those who were hoping for a more fleshed-out story.  Besides taking nearly forty minutes to get to the first kill in the group, director Tommy Wirkola (KILL BULJO: THE MOVIE - 2007), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Stig Frode Henriksen (who co-stars as Roy), throws-in every horror film cliché in the book, including false jump scares, jokey film reference dialogue (God, I hate that crap! Curse you, SCREAM! [1997]) and unbelievable situations (The major offender being Chris entering the outhouse while Erlend is taking a shit and then making love to him. Yech!). Thankfully, the nice snowy scenery (which, even on the hottest summer day, will cool you down just by looking at it) and gory makeup effects redeem the film to a certain degree, offering some novel and imaginative sights (My favorite being Vegard hanging off the side of a cliff using a zombie's intestines as a rope, while another zombie tries to bite him. Vegard's death is also memorable.). Watching Nazi zombies rising and running through the snow is also a creepy sight (the finale is particularly effective), but I could have done without all the semi-humorous "ain't it cool" dialogue and some particularly noticeable CGI effects and just stuck with the straight-ahead horror aspects of the film. That's where DEAD SNOW (original title: DOD SNO) shines. As far as Nazi zombie films go, I rate this one a notch below SHOCK WAVES (1976; the granddaddy of Nazi zombie flicks), but it is still worthwhile viewing for fans of the genre. Just don't set your sights as high as I did. Also starring Vegar Hoel, Charlotte Frogner, Orjan Gamst, Evy Kasseth Rosten and director Wirkola as a zombie. Followed by a 2014 sequel, DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD, also directed by Tommy Wirkola. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray from IFC Films/MPI Media Group. Not Rated.

DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1972/1977) - I've had this DVD in my "To Be Watched" pile for over three years because, frankly, this film couldn't possibly live up to it's hype. Lost for over 25 years (Well, not exactly lost. Just mostly unseen except for a small cult following since it was pirated on VHS in 1983), DEATH BED has slowly built word-of-mouth raves that I have read on various websites and publications. That has always bothered me since MALATESTA'S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD (1973) got the same type of press and I hated that film (Hate is a harsh word. Let's just say I disliked it immensely.). Well, I'm glad to report that DEATH BED is a laugh riot and not in some unintentional way. This is a deliberate horror comedy that hits all the right notes. The film is broken into chapters, titled "Breakfast", "Lunch" and "Dinner" and each chapter tells a different story about separate victims of the bed, which our imprisoned narrator (who was a victim of the bed) mocks continually, especially for it's "stupidity" for not being able to move. The bed is located in an abandoned castle, it's always-clean white sheets and purple canopy inviting people to come and try it out. Little do they know that the bed is hungry and will devour their flesh (not to mention their bucket of chicken, apples or whatever else they bring to bed with them) with it's acidic juices, sometimes only leaving bone in it's wake. Our narrator sits helplessly behind a painting facing the bed, witnessing the murdering mattress from Hell doing it's business. The film is just a series of funny (and sometimes frightening) imaginative kills, enhanced by the bed's absurd sound effects, some creative (and downright hilarious) visuals and our narrator's continuous verbal attacks addressed to the bed. Director/producer/writer George Barry, who started this film in 1972 but didn't strike an answer print until 1977, never made another film after this, thanks to it never getting a legal distribution deal in the U.S.. It's a shame, too, because Barry had talent. Though not overly bloody (gorehounds will be disappointed), Barry does splash the red stuff around, though much of it (but not all) is used for comical effect. By the end of the film, you will think the bed is a real character because, between the crazy visuals and the narrator's verbal and visual history of the bed, it seems to take a life and personality all it's own.  That's one of the hardest things to do as a filmmaker and Barry hits it out of the ballpark on his first try. Since he is still alive, maybe someone will give George Barry the funds to make another film. If the actor who loses his hands at the end of the film looks familiar, that because the credited actor "Rusty Russ" is actually the excellent character actor William Russ, who you have seen in films like THE UNHOLY (1988) and AMERICAN HISTORY X (1998) and has appeared on too many TV shows to mention. This was his first acting role in a film. After watching DEATH BED, one has to wonder how many other undiscovered gems are out there sitting in someone's closet, attic or basement, just rotting away, never getting their chance in the spotlight like this film did. The mind boggles. Also starring Demene Hall, Julie Ritter, Linda Bond, Patrick Spence-Thomas and Dave Marsh. A Cult Epics DVD & Blu-Ray Release. Not Rated. Contains female nudity, Russ with skeleton hands and a lengthy scene of a Black girl trying to escape from the bed after it has dissolved her legs. The payoff is suspenseful as well as funny. Grab this while you still have the chance!

DEATH BY INVITATION (1971) - This lightweight, made in Staten Island, NY, horror film is just slightly above the quality of the films of Staten Island's own Andy Milligan, but just slightly. It is a talky flick that opens up in a Dutch Village in the 1700's, where a woman named Lise (Shelby Leverington) is accused of being a Southern Tribes witch by town leader Peter Vroot (Aaron Phillips). We really never see what happens to her, but she puts a curse on the Vroot family, telling Peter that in 300 years, his ancestors will suffer her wrath. We then cut to 1971, where ancestor Peter Vroot (Phillips again) is having dinner with his wife Naomi (Sarnell Ogus), daughters Sarah (Sylvia Pressler), Coral (Rhonda Russell) and young-un Elly (Leslie Knight), sons Roger (Denver John Collins) and Michael (Bruce Brentliner) and Coral's fiance Jake (Norman Paige). Family friend Lise (Leverington again) shows up late for dinner, but seems like a good companion to Naomi and her daughters Sarah and Elly. Little do the Vroot family know that the 300 years are up and Lise is about to exact revenge. Lise first lures the virginal Roger to her home, which is full of black candles and other witchcraft-related items. She takes Roger's shirt off and puts her hands on Roger's shoulders as the camera pans down and we see blood running down Roger's back. When Roger doesn't come home, Peter calls the police and the detective (Tom Mahoney) accuses Roger of selling or using drugs, implying to Peter that his son is probably passed out in a gutter somewhere after getting high. The rich Peter doesn't believe his ears and forces the detective to leave his house. The rich Peter offers Jake a job and wants him to come to his office to talk about it (There's a head-scratching long sequence where Jake arrives Peter's office building, only to discover that you need a map to find his office. Once he is in Peter's office, the music playing on the intercom increases, making the conversation between Jake and Peter hard to make out. This sequence serves no purpose except to pad out the film's paltry 81 minutes). At another dinner at the Vroot house, Lise goes to talk to Sarah in her bedroom, only for Lise to tear Sarah's head off (off-screen). When little Elly goes to check up on them, she opens Sarah's door and sees Lise holding Sarah's decapitated head. Elly screams, falls down the stairs and hits her head on a chair, killing her. The Vroot family is destroyed, but Lise isn't done with them yet. The only problem is, Jake knows something is up with her, so he comes on to Lise and gets himself invited to her house for a makeout session. Jake doesn't know that both young Michael and Peter follow him (Peter is more concerned about Jake cheating on Coral!). Once at the house, Lise tries to seduce Jake, but he is having nothing of it. Michael sneaks into a room covered by a heavy curtain and discovers blood on the floor. When Jake sees Michael's pale face as he exits the room, he goes to investigate and discovers the chopped-up remains of Roger hanging in a plastic bag, his blood dripping on the floor. Peter grabs an axe and tries to kill Lise, only to have the axe slice Peter's throat (at least that's what I think happened, because it is filmed in a way that we never see the action performed clearly). Peter dies and the curse is lifted. Well, I think it is because the film suddenly ends.  Although there are a few sparse scenes of bloody gore (especially the scene of Lise holding Sarah's decapitated head), the film is badly acted (most of the people who starred in this, except for Shelby Leverington, never appeared in another film), they step on each other's lines and it moves at a snail's pace. Director/writer Ken Friedman only directed one other film, the 1987 road drama MADE IN USA, but he did write the screenplays for such films as WHITE LINE FEVER (1975), MR. BILLION (1977), the TV Movie 11TH VICTIM (1979) and JOHNNY HANDSOME (1989), among others. Friedman has no sense of pacing and in one of the film's more unintentional humorous moments, the detective's police sidekick, Sam (Jay Lanno), has no idea where to walk once he delivers his lines. He walks directly into the detective and then looks straight into the camera as if to ask the director where he should go! There's not much to recommend here except some wild 70's-styled flowered and striped shirts (worn by the male cast!), long sideburns and fleeting glimpses of nudity. Executive Producer Leonard Kirtman is best known for directing the amusement park gore film CARNIVAL OF BLOOD (1971), the hippie horror opus CURSE OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN (1972) and then producing/directing countless porno films using the name "Leon Gucci". Vinegar Syndrome offers this film in its original aspect ratio on a double feature DVD with one of my favorite badfilms of all time, DUNGEON OF HARROW (1962). The print is in great condition and blows away the one used by Something Weird Video on VHS & DVD-R. Another great job by Vinegar Syndrome, that is fast becoming a DVD label that should suit everyone's exploitation needs. DEATH BY INVITATION is also available streaming on Amazon Prime. Not Rated.

DEATH CURSE OF TARTU (1966) - As I write this review, I'm happy to report that director William Grefe is still alive and kicking and making the rounds at horror conventions. He may not be well-known to people born in the 80's or later, but to us old fogies, no mention of Florida regional filmmaking can go unchecked without Grefe's name being uttered. Grefe didn't direct many films, but to those of us who went to the movies or watched late-night horror films on TV during the late-60's through the 70's, his name was synonymous with South Florida, with titles like STING OF DEATH (1966), STANLEY (1972), IMPULSE (1974), MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (1976) and this film, a TV staple throughout the 70's about an ancient Seminole Indian witch doctor out to get revenge on those who desecrate his sacred burial ground. The film opens with an explorer (an uncredited Brad F. Grinter; BLOOD FREAK - 1972) discovering a secret cave in the Florida Everglades, which contains the sarcophagus of Tartu (played by makeup effects technician and magician Doug Hobart). The huge stone door (which is obviously made of Styrofoam) closes behind him, trapping the explorer as Tartu rises from his coffin, kills the explorer and opens a manuscript in the explorer's possession, the pages revealed to be the opening credits of the film (which Tartu slowly flips through for the viewers' pleasure)! We then switch to Indian guide Billy (Bill Marcus) and explorer Sam Gunter (Frank Weed) paddling a canoe through the Everglades until they reach a destination on Sam's map. Billy refuses to go any further ("Ever since I was a young boy, I've seen my people bring back the bodies of dead men who have invaded this sacred burial ground."), so Sam heads out on his own ("Any ghost that bothers me will have his hands full!) after handing Billy the map and telling him to give it to Ed Tison (Fred Pinero) and his wife Julie (Babette Sherrill) so they can come here in airboats. Sam continues his trek, ignoring ancient warnings like human skulls hanging on tree branches and then setting up camp. After doing a little exploring, Sam discovers an ancient Seminole artifact buried under an alligator skull, which wakes up Tartu once again. Tartu transforms into a huge boa constrictor and crushes Sam to death while Indian drums and warrior chanting fills the air. Bill gives Ed and Julie the map, but refuses to go with them, so they, along with archaeology students Cindy (Mayra Cristine), Johnny (Sherman Hayes), Tommy (Gary Holtz) and Joann (Maurice Stewart), take the airboats to their destination and look for Sam. When they find the camp, but no Sam, Ed tells the students that he must be out hunting a deer, but he knows something is wrong. Ed begins deciphering the artifact Sam left behind (It tells how witch doctor Tartu can take the shape of any creature to exact revenge and that only nature can destroy him), while the students go to the lake to "roast marshmallows" (a code phrase for making out and doing the Twist in their bathing suits). Apparently, Tartu doesn't appreciate cheap 60's rock-and-roll or woman shaking their asses, as he turns into a shark and devours Tommy and Joann as they take a swim, an occurrence Ed finds impossible ("Sharks don't live in fresh water."). The drums and warrior chants fill the air once again, so Ed, Julie, Cindy and Johnny beat a hasty retreat to the airboats, only to discover that they have been destroyed by alligators. Johnny leaves to find help on his own, but is soon repeatedly bitten in the face by a poisonous snake and dies. Ed decides that the only way to stop this madness is to find Tartu's grave and destroy his body, but Cindy panics and is killed by an alligator. When Tartu transforms into a young version of himself and chases Julie into a pit of quicksand (caves, quicksand, sharks...man, the Everglades have everything!), Ed has to find a way to save her and destroy Tartu at the same time. Hmmmm...maybe if you could find a way to toss him in the quicksand!  Ah, memories. What scared me as a young 'un now seems awfully quaint and cheap, but not without its charms. There's some nice on-location Everglades photography and some surprisingly gory effects on-view (including Ed dragging the lake and latching-on to one of Tommy's dismembered arms and Cindy having her hand bitten off by an alligator) and the acting could be a whole lot worse than it is. Unfortunately, the pacing of the film is deadly slow and director/screenwriter William Grefe does no one any favors by inserting long scenes of people running or walking through the Everglades, a silly "dancing by the lake" sequence or the unbelievable bit where Ed moves the giant stone door by using the powder of a single rifle bullet! Still, the sight of the skeletal Tartu rising from his coffin is very effective (and has been burned in my brain since I was a child) and there's some choice 60's gore on view (man, 60's blood was really bright red!), so DEATH CURSE OF TARTU is not a total loss and manages to be quite atmospheric at times. Originally available on VHS by Active Home Video and available on an extras-packed double feature DVD (with Grefe's STING OF DEATH) from Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment and it's worth every penny, especially the added attraction of the 30-minute 1964 gore sexploitationer LOVE GODDESSES OF BLOOD ISLAND (a.k.a. SIX SHES AND A HE), which is unbelievable. Not Rated.

DEATH ROW (2006) - Average DTV horror flick that made its (edited) premiere on the Sci-Fi Network (now SyFy) under the title HAUNTED PRISON. A trio of young students, Keith (Kyle Schmid; THE COVENANT - 2006), Brian (Scott Whyte; REEKER - 2005) and Missy (Claire Coffee), are making a documentary on the Isla Del Roca Penitentiary in Texas where, years before, a prison riot took place that claimed the lives of many prisoners and guards, which led to the prison being closed down permanently. No one knows why the riot started, so the three documentarians plan on going to the prison to discover the truth, but first they stop at a hospital to interview infirmed former prison guard John Elias (a haggard-looking Stacy Keach; FUTURE FEAR - 1997), who was there in the middle of the riot. After filling-in the kids on some of the aspects of the riot (a flashback reveals that Elias may have been the catalyst, but he talks about himself in the third person and the kids don't make the connection), where he had to cut off both of his legs off at the knees in order to survive (he hid in the prison's gas chamber while everything burned around him), our trio (with two additional friends) head to the abandoned prison to begin filming. Unfortunately, they are not alone in the prison, as six fugitives of a diamond heist, led by Marco (Jake Busey; THE FRIGHTENERS - 1996), use the prison as a hideout (the irony of the situation is not lost on the crooks). One of the fugitives, Vincent (James Leo Ryan), has a serious leg injury and when his blood drips on the prison floor, it wakes up vengeful spirits who died there (they move in herky-jerky motions) and they begin killing the living in various gory ways. Marco has a history with this prison, since his grandfather (a badly made-up Busey; they should have spent a few bucks more and used his crazy father Gary Busey!) was a guard there and then became a prisoner (the grandfather and Elias had a history) before he died in the bloody riot. The rest of the film is nothing but a series of gory set-pieces, as the prison's pissed-off- spirits begin murdering the living while the prison becomes inescapable. Fugitive Ron (Marco Rodriguez) is squeezed through a chain link fence, turning his body into bloody puree. Anibal (Russell Richardson) gets sliced into little pieces when his body is forced through a license plate cutting machine. Hector (Rey Gellegos) is fried on the electric chair (Is it standard for a prison to have both a gas chamber and an electric chair? Oops, I forgot, this is Texas!). Angel (Danny Arroyo) is impaled on a pipe sticking out of a wall. Jasmine (Jamie Mann) is cut in half by a ceiling fan. Marco, who is more interested in his share of the diamonds than the bloody deaths of his comrades, becomes unglued when Jasmine hides the diamonds and takes their location to her grave. Missy finds the diamonds and she, Keith and Brian must avoid a now-psychotic Marco, as well as the vengeful spirits, while trying to find a way to escape the prison. Will their documentary ever see the light of day? Do you even care?  This is typical DTV crapola: Lots of blood and gore (even some of the lousy CGI kind) and a story that makes very little sense, not to metion the outrageous coincidences that dot the screenplay (What are the odds that Marco would pick this abandoned prison to hide in? Why does no one have a cell phone and even if they did, it would probably show "No Service"? Why does an abandoned prison still have electricity?). Director/co-producer/co-writer Kevin VanHook (FROST: PORTRAIT OF A VAMPIRE - 2001; VOODOO MOON - 2005; THE FALLEN ONES - 2005; SLAYER - 2006) tries to keep things moving at a quick pace, but unless you suffer from a severe mental handicap, you'll be questioning too many of the film's plot points. In other words this is typical SyFy material that follows their movie-making "bible": A bloody murder every ten minutes or so (perfect for the station's many commercial breaks) and very little character or plot development. Instantly forgetable unless you like gore. Danny Trejo (MACHETE - 2010) puts in a useless cameo as a priest. Also starring Shanna Collins. A Starz Home Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

DEATH SHIP (1980) - I love movies that take place on haunted ships (GHOST SHIP [2002] notwithstanding). Maybe it's because of the feeling of isolation the viewer gets; being trapped in the middle of the ocean, hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from the nearest dry land and at the mercy of a derelict ghost ship that wants nothing more than to make sure that your soul stays on board for all eternity. I mean, really, what choices do you have when trapped on a death ship? Most of the time in these films, the radio is on the fritz, all the lifeboats are gone and food and drinkable water are at a minimum, so your only real choices are to fight the evil and hope to God that you win (which usually means that you'll be rescued by a passing ship) or just give up and jump overboard, where you will tread water for as long as you can and then eventually drown or get eaten by a shark. Face it, being trapped on a ghost ship sucks and the odds are stacked against you. Which brings us to DEATH SHIP, one of the first modern-day haunted ship films to mix that dreaded feeling of isolation with scenes of bloody gore. George Kennedy (DEMONWARP - 1987) is cruise ship Captain Ashland, who is on his final voyage (he retires in three days) and showing the ropes to the next ship's captain, Trevor Marshall (Richard Crenna; LEVIATHAN - 1989). Captain Ashland is a bitter, bitter man who shows nothing but disdain to both crew and passengers and hates the thought of forced retirement (One of his crew members says, "Bastard! Thank God this will be his last trip."). Trevor's wife, Margaret (Sally Ann Howes) and their two young children, Robin (Jennifer McKinney) and Ben (Danny Higham), are also on-board the cruise ship to celebrate his promotion. He should have left his family at home. A ghost ship appears out of nowhere on radar and rams the cruise ship, sinking it and leaving Trevor and his family, deck hand Nick (Nick Mancuso; RAPID FIRE - 1992), passengers Sylvia (Kate Reid; PLAGUE - 1978) and Lori (Victoria Burgoyne), Master of Ceremonies Jackie (Saul Rubinek; TRUE ROMANCE - 1993) and an injured Captain Ashland as the only survivors. After spending several days floating in the sweltering sun, the ghost ship suddenly appears next to them, anchored and not moving. They all board the floating rust bucket, but the ship tries to kill Trevor, Nick and Captain Ashland before they even set foot on-board (a quick-thinking Trevor saves the day). Jackie is the first casualty when the ship snares his leg on a rope and drops him overboard, where the ship's spinning propellers grind him to pieces. The ship, which is a German WW II frigate that had a Nazi crew, possesses the vulnerable Captain Ashland (Hey, he gets to captain another ship!), while the rest of the survivors search the ship for food dry clothes and other signs of life. German voices in Captain Ashland's head tell him that this is now "his ship", so he begins killing the survivors, beginning with Sylvia (who breaks out in facial pustules after eating a peppermint candy she found in a cupboard), whom he strangles when no one else is around and blames her sudden death on "a seizure". The Captain's obsessive behavior (he now dresses in a German Captain's uniform!) troubles Trevor (When he asks Captain Ashland, "Where do you plan to sail her?", Ashland replies, "Eternity, Marshall. Eternity!" Oh boy, this does not sound good at all.), so he tries to take control of the ship from Ashland, but the ship won't let him. As Ashland bellows "No one leaves my ship!", Trevor and his family, now the only living survivors remaining, try to do just that, but will they be successful?  Although it takes a while to get cooking, the Canadian-financed DEATH SHIP does have its share of creepy moments and atmospheric sequences, but it is nearly ruined by the stupid antics of pint-sized Ben, who always has to pee (He should see a doctor about it!) or runs-off at the worst times possible. I wanted to punch the little snot squarely in the face on more than one occasion. Director Alvin Rakoff (KING SOLOMON'S TREASURE - 1977; CITY ON FIRE - 1979) and screenwriter John Robins (better known as one of the producers of THE BENNY HILL SHOW!) save most of the gruesome stuff for the film's final third, such as the discovery that this was actually a German "interrogation" ship and it is littered with the bodies of Jewish victims (Nick finds out the hard way when Captain Ashland throws him in one of the ship's bilge wells and he lands on a net full of rotting Jewish corpses); Lori takes a blood shower (gratuitous full-frontal nudity alert!) before being tossed overboard by a possessed Ashland; there's a freezer full of frozen corpses of the ship's original crew; Nick claws his way through the walls of the ship's movie viewing cabin while Nazi propaganda films are projected on his body (this is a nicely-filmed sequence and my favorite part of the film); and George Kennedy overacts to the point where he almost becomes a parody of himself (Listen to his line readings of "Blood! This ship needs blood to survive!" for proof of Kennedy taking the film to dizzying new heights). What more could you ask for? Grant Page (STUNT ROCK - 1978) was Stunt Coordinator here and genre director Jack Hill (THE BIG BIRD CAGE - 1972) is credited with co-writing the story. Originally released on VHS by Embassy Home Entertainment and available on a beautiful widescreen DVD from Scorpion Releasing, the only way to watch the film. Rated R.

DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER (1973) - This film has the distinction of being the debut of Aristide Massaccesi as a director, before he took the name "Joe D'Amato" (BLACK COBRA - 1976; EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS - 1977; BEYOND THE DARKNESS - 1979; ANTHROPOPHAGUS - 1980 and many, many others). It's gory, extremely violent and full of female nudity, yet it is missing something that would make it a good film. Still, it's an interesting relic that mixes romance with reanimation, love with violence and death with retribution. In other words, a typical day in Italian horror, where anything can happen and it does.
     Franz (hunchback actor Luciano Rossi; THE SLASHER...IS THE SEX MANIAC! - 1972; D'Amato's HEROES IN HELL - 1974) is grieving over the dead body of his sister, Greta von Holstein (Ewa Aulin; DEATH LAID AN EGG - 1968), vowing to get even with those responsible for her death. The film then flashes back, showing us how Franz and Greta ended up this way. Greta is in love with Dr. von Ravensbrück (Giacomo Rossi Stuart; THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE - 1971) but, right from the start, we know Franz has incestuous feelings towards his sister, as he spies on them from behind a tree, watching the doctor stroking Greta's hair, wishing he were the doctor.
     The film then flashes back further in time. It begins with the crash of a horse-drawn carriage in which Greta is a passenger. The coachman lies dead, impaled by one of the carriage wheel shafts (a really graphic shot) and no one knows who Greta is, as she lies unconscious inside the overturned carriage. She is rescued by Walter (Sergio Doria; THE VIOLENT BREED - 1984), Dr. von Ravensbrück's son, and he brings her back to his mansion, where she is treated by Dr. Sturges (Klaus Kinski; SLAUGHTER HOTEL - 1971). When Greta wakes up, she has no idea who she is or how she got there, but Dr. Sturges finds a heart-shaped locket on her that has "Greta 1906" engraved on one side and a strange chemical formulation engraved on the other side, which immediately gets the interest of the doctor. Gertrude (the prolific Carla Mancini; THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES - 1972), the von Ravensbrück's maid, seems to recognize Greta and is disturbed by her sudden appearance. Franz shows up at the house to haunt Gertrude (is he a spirit?), while Dr. Sturges is up to no good, injecting Greta in the eye with some unknown solution and then fiddles with the coffin of the dead coachman. Walter is happily married to Eva (Angela Bo; SECRET CONFESSIONS IN A CLOISTERED CONVENT - 1972) and is seemingly very faithful to her. He asks his butler, Simeon (Marco Mariani; WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? - 1972), why Gertrude handed in her resignation and Simeon says he doesn't know, but she seemed very troubled when she left. We then see a suitcase-carrying Gertrude outside, running away from someone (Franz?) holding a shotgun. The unknown person corners Gertrude, who says, "No, I won't say anything! I never said anything to anyone!" and then gets both barrels to her face, turning it into raw hamburger (another very graphic scene).
     Greta becomes friends with Walter and Eva and Eva even throws a party in her honor, while Dr. Sturges works feverishly in his laboratory.  Greta still has no idea who she is, telling Walter that she sometimes feels like a prisoner. At her party, Eva introduces Greta to ballet dancer Maier (Giorgio Dolfin; TORSO - 1973), while both Walter and Eva look at her, passion in their eyes. Dr. Sturges finishes his experiments, pouring his green solution into a bottle, while Greta, Eva and Walter go quail hunting, where Walter tells Greta that he "loves her desperately" and they kiss, Eva seemingly aware what her husband is up to. We then discover that Dr. Sturges has a secret room beneath his laboratory where he experiments on human cadavers. He tells a male corpse that he will live again, because "I possess the secret of life!" Is he on the verge of success? Does he have the power over life and death? And what does Greta's locket have to do with it? Yes, it is true, his formula works, maybe too well, because his male cadaver springs to life, choking the life out of Dr. Sturges and then goes on to kill the doctor's assistant.
     Meanwhile, Eva tries to drown Greta in the bathtub, but she stops, telling Greta that she love her, too. Yes, there is a very strange love triangle sandwich in the Ravensbrück home, with Greta as the meat, as Walter and Eva take turns making love to Greta. It turns out Eva is quite jealous. She drags Greta to a basement room, sealing the door with brick and mortar, telling Walter that Greta left without a word. Walter phones Inspector Dannick (Attilio Dottesio; ESCAPE FROM GALAXY 3 - 1981) and he tells Walter he will look for her. Two weeks pass and the Inspector tells Walter and Eva that Greta is nowhere to be found and it would be hopeless to look for her any longer. Eva is so happy, she throws a masquerade ball, where she sees a mask-wearing Greta in the crowd. Eva runs to the basement and starts tearing down the wall she built, where a black cat jumps out and scares her half to death. Before she can check the room, she sees Greta at the top of the stairs and tries to escape, but no matter where she turns, Greta is there (sometimes with the face of a decomposing corpse) and Eva falls out of a window, splattering her brains on the cobblestones below. The Inspector, who discovers the empty bricked-up basement room and interviews guests at the party, believes Greta is alive and out for vengeance. Walter's father shows up for Eva's funeral and sees Greta off in the distance, watching the funeral. Is it possible Dr. von Ravensbrück knew Greta long before she lost her memory in that carriage accident? And what about the reanimated cadaver? What has he been up to all this time? And what is Franz's involvement in all this? If you want to know, I suggest you rent or buy this film.
     This is easily Joe D'Amato's most accessible film, for the simple reason that the story is linear and easy to understand, unlike his later films, where sequences jump from scene to scene without reason.  Yet, this film lacks D'Amato's usual sleaze factor, which makes most of his films memorable. Sure, there is plenty of female nudity (some full-frontal) and lots of graphic violence, but it lacks D'Amato's sleazy touch. Most of the sex and violence is shown matter-of-factly, without any flair at all. The screenplay, by D'Amato, Claudio Bernabei & Romano Scandariato (DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. - 1980), pays homage to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, such as being buried alive behind a brick wall ("The Cask Of Amontillado"), the masquerade party ("The Masque Of The Red Death"), a cat attacking ("The Black Cat") and even Sergio Doria as Walter looks and dresses like Poe, making this a good little film to play "Spot The Reference". Not that this is a good film, it's not, but it is a well-photographed (by D'Amato) little horror film that has some history to it. I remember seeing this on TV in the mid-'70s and being bored to tears. It was one of 13 Spanish and Italian horror films that Avco Embassy released as part of their "Nightmare Theater" package, all of them severely edited for nudity and violence. Without either of those (the TV version was missing the scene of Greta making mincemeat of Walter with a surgical saw and then impaling his naked body to a door, as well as most of the other scenes I mentioned in this review), this film was a complete bore on TV, as well as making no sense at all. It does make sense in its unedited version, though, and is not quite as boring.
     Filmed as La Morte Ha Sorriso All'Assassino (a translation of the review title), this film never received a U.S. theatrical release and was only released on VHS by gray market sellers, like Something Weird Video, Legend House and CineFear (usually in the cut TV print). My review is based on the DVD-R from Sinister Cinema (purchased through Amazon), the print's is title being DEATH SMILES AT MURDER. The print is crisp and clean, but the soundtrack has some hiss during the quieter moments, but it's not a deal breaker. There is also a nice Blu-Ray out there from Arrow Video, but I did not think this film was worthy of my $25.00 (the Sinister Cinema DVD-R was less than $10.00), but others may disagree (and I wouldn't argue with them). Also starring Fernando Cerulli (WATCH ME WHEN I KILL - 1977), Oscar Sciamanna (THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH - 1971), Pietro Torrisi (WEREWOLF WOMAN - 1976) and Tony Askin as the living cadaver. Not Rated.

DEATH SPA (1987) - Just why are people dying graphically at the Starbody Health Spa? Who or what is controlling the computer operated exercise equipment so that a man's ribcage is torn apart while he's using a butterfly machine? Why would anyone want to put chlorine gas in the steam room? And why are the tiles flying off the walls in the women's shower room? Could it be the spa's owner's (William Bumiller, star of Andy Sidaris' GUNS [1990] and DO OR DIE [1991]) or the ex-brother in law (the late Merritt Butrick, who was Kirk's son in STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN [1982] and STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK [1984]), who designed the spa's unique computer system? Could it be the owners of a rival spa looking to put Bumiller out of business? Or could it be Bumiller's dead wife (and Butrick's twin sister, who doused herself with gasoline and set herself aflame when she became a cripple after a miscarriage) come back to life to make things miserable for her hubby and his new girlfriend? If you answered yes to the last three questions, you were correct, as they are all involved somewhat in the dastardly doings. While low on originality, it is pretty high in depicting gory mayhem and beautiful women's naked hardbodies. There are impalements, acid burnings, pool mishaps, a particularly nasty mirror explosion/beheading and a CARRIE (1976) - inspired finale. It was also a pleasure to see nice looking girls in various states of undress since low budget films like this normally showcase the bodies of out-of-shape, cellulite-ridden ugly females who would do anything (and usually do) to get their mugs and jugs on screen. Director Michael Fischa also made the terrible, laugh-an-hour comedy MY MOM'S A WEREWOLF (1988), as well as the urban exploitationer CRACK HOUSE (1989). Co-star Ken Foree can also be seen in George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and Stuart Gordon's FROM BEYOND (1986), two films which are recommended viewing for all horror fans. Rosiland Cash also starred in THE OMEGA MAN (1971) and DR. BLACK MR. HYDE (1976; a.k.a. THE WATTS MONSTER). On the gore and flesh quotient alone, DEATH SPA (also known as WITCH BITCH) is a mildly diverting experience in fleshtones and blood. An MPI Home Video Release. Also available from MPI on DVD & Blu-Ray. Unrated.

DEATH WISH CLUB (1983) - You may have seen this film in a condensed version in the trilogy NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985). Even if you have, I urge you to check out the complete version of this outrageous and unpredictable low-budget gem. Glenn (Rick Barnes), a college student, falls madly in love with a girl (Meredith Haze) he spots in a porno movie. Not knowing her name, he tracks her down with a little investigative work and finds out her name is Greta and she plays piano at a bar run by the mysterious George (J. Martin Sellers). Greta is a strange girl. She likes to walk around half-naked, use profanity and fuck Glenn like a rabbit (much to the pleasure of Glenn's elderly neighbors; a running gag throughout the film). Greta and George indoctrinate Glenn into their club, whose members meet regularly and try to cheat death. Glenn's first meeting with the club involves sitting around a table while a poisonous giant beetle is let loose, flying around the table picking out a victim to sting. (Stop-motion animation was later added to the edited version in NIGHT TRAIN to make the scene more believable.) Glenn is disgusted with the proceedings and wants nothing more to do with Greta or the club. To give away any more of the plot would be cheating you out of a once-in-a-lifetime trip into the bizarre. This film, originally titled CARNIVAL OF FOOLS (in a slightly different edit), could only come from the fertile pen of Philip Yordan, who also wrote BLOODY WEDNESDAY (1985), THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS (1980 - a.k.a. CATACLYSM and SATAN'S SUPPER) and dozens of other pieces of weirdness. Yordan puts in a cameo appearance here as a dirty old man in a porno theater. DEATH WISH CLUB is packed with unusual situations, set pieces and dialogue. During one club meeting where everyone is strapped in an electric chair waiting to see which one of them will receive the lethal jolt, the loser says, "Pardon me while I smoke", just before he expires from the excess voltage. There's also plenty of nudity on view and, surprisingly, very little blood considering the subject matter. DEATH WISH CLUB deals with the perversities of life in such an off-kilter, humorous way that excessive bloodletting is not needed. This is probably the strangest love story ever filmed and thereby is required viewing for anyone looking for something off the beaten path. This is jaw-dropping stuff!  Directed by John Carr (FUGITIVE LOVERS - 1975; MARILYN ALIVE AND BEHIND BARS - 1982/1993). A Regal Video, Inc. VHS Release. Also available on a budget fullscreen DVD from Trinity Home Entertainment. Vinegar Syndrome has a third version of the film, titled GRETA, on their NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack (it is on the DVD only). Not Rated.

DEEP SPACE (1987) - Another one of director Fred Olen Ray's many 80's horror films, mixing a generic plot with a cast of highly capable B-movie stars. When deep space probe Centaur One, which contains a top secret experiment conducted by Dr. Forsythe (James Booth; AVENGING FORCE - 1986), crash-lands in the California forest near L.A., it unleashes creature that, according to Dr. Forsythe, was "trained to kill". The shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later detective team of Ian MacLiamor (Charles Napier; SKEETER - 1993) and Jerry Merris (Ron Glass; TV's FIREFLY - 2002) are assigned by their hotheaded boss, Captain Robertson (Bo Svenson; DEADLY IMPACT - 1984), to investigate the murders of two teenagers in the woods, who just happen to be the creature's first two victims. When they get to the scene of the crime, Ian and Jerry find the victims torn to pieces, parts of their bodies strewn all over the crash site. While the police forensics investigator, Dr. Rogers (Anthony Eisley; THE WITCHMAKER - 1969), brings a huge organic pod back to his lab for further study (a huge toothsome creature, with a vagina-like opening in it's stomach, later escapes from the pod and kills Dr. Rogers), Ian and Jerry find two smaller versions of the pod and bring them home with them (I can't begin to count how many police procedurals they just broke!). After questioning a wino who witnessed the probe's crash landing (the wino's immediately killed by the creature as soon as he stumbles out of the police station), Ian and Jerry head back to the crash site only to be refused entry by government soldiers carrying automatic weapons. Ian smells a rat (or rather, an alien) and his suspicions are confirmed when Captain Robertson informs him that the case is closed (all the deaths are classified as "accidents") and he then suspends Ian and Jerry from the force. Ian gets outside help from psychic Lady Elaine Wentworth (Julie Newmar; EVILS OF THE NIGHT - 1984), who eventually convinces Ian that she has a psychic link with the creature. When Ian's new girlfriend, female cop Carla (Ann Turkel; HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP - 1980), tells him that the pod he has looks like a giant cockroach egg, they bring it to Professor Whately (Fox Harris), who opens the pod and is killed by a miniature version of the creature. After killing the small monster, Ian realizes that Jerry has a pod at his house. Ian and Carla race over there, but they are too late. Jerry is dead and is being eaten from the inside out by the second small creature. Lady Wentworth informs Ian that if he wants to stop the infestation, he is going to have to kill the large creature, which is capable of laying many more eggs. Ian, Carla and Captain Robertson confront the creature in a warehouse in the film's finale, where a chainsaw is used to finally behead the creature. Thank goodness for gas-powered tools!  Better acted than most of Fred Olen Ray's 80's frightfests, DEEP SPACE is an OK time-waster for the less discriminating horror fan. It also contains one of the most unusual seduction scenes in horror film history, where Charles Napier (who is excellent, as usual) plays the bagpipes during his first date with Ann Turkel and she agrees to take off her clothes if he stops playing! The film is full of little comical moments and dialogue and, while some of it is groan-inducing, there are some inspired scenes, like when Ian pulls the small creature off of Professor Whately and accidentally tosses it right into Carla's face. There's also some pretty good gore (the main creature has tentacles that shoot out of it's vagina-like opening that attach themselves to the victims' bodies and tear them apart) and the creature itself is a goofy, but effective, concoction (imagine part-ALIEN and part-John Carpenter's THE THING [1982] rolling on a shopping cart!). Don't fool yourself into believing you're watching anything but a quickly-made B-monster flick and you just may find yourself having a good time with this. It's quite obvious that Ray was influenced by THE BLOB (1958) (the opening crash landing mimics this film rather closely), ALIEN (1979) and 50's monsters-on-the-loose films when he made this. Ray would later recycle footage from this film for his vastly inferior HYBRID (1996). A scene from Ray's THE TOMB (1986) can be seen playing on a TV at the guard station in a warehouse. Gary Graver was Director of Photography, which is why this film looks better than it has any right to. Also starring Norman Burton, Michael Forest, Jesse Dabson, Peter Palmer and Elizabeth Brooks (THE HOWLING - 1981). Originally released on VHS by Trans World Entertainment and not yet available on DVD. Rated R.

DEMON HUNTER (1965) - This poorly-shot obscure oddity has very little to offer in terms of entertainment value. That is, unless your entertainment values run towards the inane and ridiculous. Originally titled THE LEGEND OF BLOOD MOUNTAIN, the story begins with clumsy novice reporter Bestoink Dooley (George Ellis, an Atlanta, Georgia-based TV horror host during the '60's) investigating the legend of a monster residing on Blood Mountain. While on the mountain he meets a doctor, his daughter, his female assistant and a forest ranger. After countless scenes of driving and bad post-synch dubbing, the monster finally appears. You'll wish it didn't. It is a laughably bad creation. Dooley destroys it with a flame thrower after a protracted, presumably comical, chase sequence. Directed by Massey Cramer, whose only other credit is as producer and writer of THE FLORIDA CONNECTION ( a.k.a. WEED - 1974), this film is more interesting for its' history rather than for the actual film itself. Notorious director, producer and all-around roustabout Donn Davison added some scenes featuring a new monster, some gore and himself as a respected professor, cut out all the previous monster footage and released it as THE LEGEND OF MCCULLOUGH'S MOUNTAIN and BLOOD BEAST OF MONSTER MOUNTAIN in 1976. This version is available from Something Weird Video. The original version was released on video in the late '80's by Camp Video missing an entire reel at about the 50 minute mark. The approximately 80 minute film has an actual running time of 65 minutes in this version! To add insult to injury, Camp Video's box trumpets the fact that this film features rare footage of Kenny Roger's ex-wife, Marianne Gordon. It's rare indeed. She is shown drinking Pepsi out of a vintage can for about 30 seconds and she doesn't have a speaking part! Add to that endless scenes which seem to go on forever, such as in the beginning where Dooley is in bed eating cookies and drinking milk for what feels like hours and what you get is a film that can only be viewed if your sense of enjoyment leans towards the masochistic. Also starring Erin Fleming, Sheila Stringer and Bob Corley. A Camp Video Release. Not Rated.

DEMONIA (1990) - This horror film, directed/co-written by Lucio Fulci during his "twilight" period, may not make a lot of sense, but there's no denying that it has an atmosphere of dread that just won't quit. Filled with scenes of nasty gory violence, something we have come to depend on from Fulci, this film may leave you shaking your head in disbelief, but I guarantee you will not be bored. This film can be considered a late addition to the "Nunsploitation" genre, a genre I am not a big fan of, but Fulci puts his own "brand" on it, making it a unique viewing experience, especially for 1990.
     SICILY 1486: A group of angry men drag five nuns into a room of the Santa Rosita Monastery and crucify them on large wooden crosses, hammering metal spikes into the palms of their hands and then killing them by pounding metal spikes into their hearts. The men then leave the room laughing, while the camera shows us a mountain of human bones in the floor below this room. The room is then sealed up and the nuns' deaths will be a village secret for centuries to come.
     TORONTO 1990: Anthropologist Liza Harris (Meg Register; MINISTRY OF VENGEANCE - 1989) is participating in a séance, when she sees the image of one of the crucified nuns and passes out. When she wakes up, her boss, Professor Paul Evans (Brett Halsey; Fulci's THE DEVIL'S HONEY - 1986), is standing beside her and berates her for attending "senseless" séances, reminding her that they are going to Sicily tomorrow to study Greek ruins as part of an expedition to discover how Greek history influenced Sicily. It will be a trip neither of them will forget and only one of them will survive.
     Once in Sicily, Liza becomes obsessed with the ruins of the Santa Rosita Monastery, even though Professor Evans tells her that the monastery has nothing whatsoever to do with the expedition. The mayor of the small village pays the Professor a visit and warns him not to ask the villagers any questions, they are very private people and don't like to talk to strangers and trying to question them could be extremely dangerous, even deadly. The Professor and Liza then go to visiting oceanographic anthropologist Porter (Al Cliver; Fulci's THE BEYOND - 1981) on his boat and he tells Liza to stay away from the monastery, because the locals will kill to keep their secrets. Porter tells them that the locals will refuse to help them at all, because they believe that the "past belongs dead." He is right, of course, as the locals refuse to even acknowledge Liza when she walks into the village and one local, butcher Turi DeSimone (Lino Salemme; GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE - 1988), threatens Liza's life if he sees her at the monastery again. One night, Liza walks to the monastery in a trance-like state and destroys a fresco of a nun with her pickaxe, opening a hole in the wall that leads her to the room where the nuns were crucified over 500 years ago, their skeletons still hanging on the large wooden crosses. The sight of the murdered nuns snaps Liza out of her trance and she screams and runs away. This discovery leads to a series of gory murders perpetrated by the ghosts of the nuns.
     The first to die is Porter, who returns to his boat after going on a booze run. He finds the lights on, which seems strange since he knows he turned them off. He enters the boat's living quarters, only to have a headless ghostly nun (!) kill him with a spear gun bolt to his chest. Expedition crewmembers Kevin (Pascal Druant; BLUE TORNADO - 1990) and Sean (Grady Thomas Clarkson; ARENA - 1989) use the monastery as a place to secretly drink, away from the nasty Professor (who just got done yelling at his crew for singing!), when they hear the sound of women laughing in the distance. They both go to investigate and fall into a pit full of sharp spikes and end up dead with several wooden spikes impaled through their bodies. When their bodies are discovered, Interpol agent Inspector Carter (Lucio Fulci, in an extended uncredited cameo) and his partner Lt. Andi (Michael J. Aronin; THE LONE RUNNER - 1986) question Professor Evans and Inspector Carter tells him he will hold him responsible if there are any more deaths. He tells the Professor that his wife is from this village, so he better not talk to any of the locals if he knows what's good for him. Inspector Carter and Lt. Andi then look for the missing Porter on his boat and find his severed head attached to the boat's anchor. Lt. Andi accuses the Professor of being the murderer of Porter based on a ten-year-old story (and Lt. Andi's love for detective novels!) where the Professor refuted one of Porter's discoveries, which resulted in the Professor losing his profession and his standing among his peers when he was proved wrong. The Professor denies the allegation, telling Lt. Andi that it is all water under the bridge; he and Porter made up and were now friends, but the Professor wonders if he and his crew should pull out of Sicily and head back to Toronto.
     Liza then meets a medium/cat lady named Lilla (Carla Cassola; THE SECT - 1991), who tells Liza that the five crucified nuns were actually beautiful satanic witches who (cue the flashbacks!) invited young men to join them in orgies and would kill them (by stabbing them in the neck) as they reached orgasm, drinking their blood and then going insane with delirium. If any of the nuns became pregnant, they would deliver their babies and then immediately throw them into a fire as a sacrifice to Satan (end of the flashbacks!). Lilla tells Liza not to tell anyone what she has just heard if she wants to stay alive; what she needs to do is ask God for help. When Liza leaves Lilla's home, Lilla's collection of cats go on a flesh frenzy and attack Lilla (after she hears the nuns laughing), graphically tearing out her eyes and eating them.
     A ghostly nun enters Turi's butcher shop and impales Turi in the neck with a meat hook. She's not done with him, though, as she nails his tongue to a butcher's block (!) and finishes him off by locking him in the freezing meat locker (in typical Fulci overkill). Inspector Carter finds a piece of ancient cloth next to Turi's frozen body and now knows that the Professor is not involved.  Robbie (Francesco Cusimano), a young boy who is the son of crewmembers Susie (Christina Englehardt; SKINNER - 1993) and John (Ettore Comi) is kidnapped by a faceless (but not headless) ghostly nun, but he escapes, only to find his father in a booby trap, both his legs tied between two bent trees. His father tells him not to move, but Robbie doesn't listen and steps on the tripwire. He watches his father being torn in half, from nuts to neck (really graphic and gory) as his blood sprays all over a shocked Bobby's body.
     Just as the Professor is ready to call it quits, one of his crewmembers tells him he has made an important discovery and the Professor changes his mind, but makes it clear to Liza that she has to stop obsessing about the monastery, that's not why they are here. Liza doesn't listen and goes back to the monastery, which riles up the locals, who band together and crucify Liza on a wooden cross, just like their ancestors did to the five nuns. But they take an extra step and burn Liza alive, as the Professor enters the room and mourns her death. But Liza then appears dead on the stone floor, her body no longer burned. For the Professor, it's all too little, too late, as the film ends with the image of a dead Liza lying on the floor.
     While this film looks very cheap, especially the low-quality gore effects (by Franco Giannini; THE RAT MAN - 1987), Lucio Fulci does manage to imbue this film with a dream-like quality. One such scene shows the Professor yelling to Liza from a far distance not to enter the monastery, while Liza is standing in the middle of the ruins of an ancient stone amphitheater. You have to admire Fulci's sense of style, even though it is obvious he didn't have a lot of money to work with, yet he instills a sense of extreme mystery and awe with his camera setups, none more imaginative than this sequence, shot from both protagonist's point-of-view. It is a beautiful well-shot scene, worthy of a big-budget epic, not a low-budget horror film, yet here it is. That's not to say this film doesn't have its share of problems. The screenplay, by Fulci and Piero Regnoli (PATRICK STILL LIVES - 1980; and Fulci's VOICES FROM BEYOND - 1991), is pretty weak. It seems to be just a series of shock/gore sequences with very little connective tissue between scenes. The pacing is also languid and Brett Halsey's Professor Paul Evans is off-putting, denigrating Liza when he should be supporting her and putting his expedition before Liza's well-being. He's not a very nice man, to Liza or his crew, who let off a little steam at night by singing songs around a campfire, only to have the Professor yell at them for not allowing him to sleep. Even though some of the cinematography is very lavish, the film still has the look and feel of a TV movie, such as Fulci's SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS (1989), THE HOUSE OF CLOCKS (1989) or TOUCH OF DEATH (1990; also starring Halsey). Still, the film's dream-like quality, mixed with bloody gore (no matter how cheap it looks), manage to propel this film past the ordinary and into a territory I recommend whole-heartedly. It's not prime Fulci, but it still contains more plusses than negatives. A lot of critics give this film bad reviews, but I invite them to view this film again and reassess their opinions. I am willing to bet a lot of them will, for the simple reason that time heals most wounds. It's funny how films we hated when we were younger become classics or semi-classics as we become older. This is one of those films, at least for me. Parts of this film may remind viewers of Fulci's CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980; the opening séance scene) or any of his early-'80s gore flicks and that's never a bad thing, but this film contains enough atmosphere to survive in its own universe, especially the real ruins that are actually in Sicily, Italy, giving this film an authentic look and feel, something which couldn't be done on a stage with sets (even though Fulci was also a master with sets, as he proved with HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY - 1981).
     This film never received a theatrical or VHS release in the United States until 2001, when Shriek Show/Media Blasters released it both on VHS and DVD (which is how I viewed it, even though the DVD is long OOP). There have been no updated discs since then, but it can be found streaming on YouTube from user "Horror Realm" in a pretty good anamorphic widescreen print dubbed in English. Also featuring Paolo Cozzo (DEMONS - 1985), Isabella Corradini, Paola Calati, Bruna Rossi (ARIZONA ROAD - 1991) and Ruth Anderson as the ghostly nuns. Not Rated.

DEMONICUS (2001) - I'm a big fan of director Jay Woelfel. His BEYOND DREAM'S DOOR (1988) and GHOST LAKE (2004) are excellent and unusual horror films that show a personal style. But when you have to work with hack producer Charles Band and his Full Moon Productions, you can basically throw all your personal visions out the window. Even though Jay co-wrote the screenplay (along with Tim Sullivan), this is still standard Full Moon crap about a group of students who are on a hike (and some type of contest) in the Italian Alps (actually filmed at Angeles National Park in L.A.). When James (Gregory Lee Kenyon) finds a cave with a preserved Gladiator, he dons the costume and becomes possessed and begins killing the rest of the group one-by-one, cutting off their arms, legs and heads and bringing back their body parts to the cave where he performs a ritual to try and bring back to life the long-dead Gladiator Demonicus. He nearly succeeds a couple of times but is thwarted by knowledgable female professor Maria (Jennifer Capo) and nerdy Dino (Brannon Gould). Budget restraints notwithstanding, this film is very bloody in spots (courtesy of legendary badfilm director and effects master Joe Castro of JACKHAMMER MASSACRE [2003] fame), as arms are hacked off, a leg is sliced off, Dino is run-through with a sword and there's a pretty convincing beheading. But the plot is so absurd and the situations so unbelievable, that I doubt that even Jay would count this as one of his favorites. The real problem though is that Jay didn't do his own music soundtrack for the film. This one has a droning synthesizer score that's headache-inducing (courtesy of Danny Draven), something that Jay would never do. His scores are haunting and add a great deal to his films atmosphere. At least it's only 72 minutes long, so it doesn't overstay it's welcome. While this is better than most of the latter-day Full Moon films (thanks to Jay's POV blood shots and better-than-average acting), it's still nothing to write home about. Would someone please give Jay Woelfel the money he needs to make a film on his terms? When that happens, he always turns out quality product, not by-the-numbers stuff like this to make a living. Also starring Venesa Talor, Kyle Tracy, Allen Nabors, Candace Kroslak and Todd Rex as Demonicus. Released under Full Moon's Cult Video label on both DVD and VHS in a letterbox transfer. Rated R. For more on Jay Woelfel, go to his website: www.JayWoelfel.com.

DEMON KEEPER (1993) - Conman Remy Grilland (the late Edward Albert; GALAXY OF TERROR - 1981), who makes a living swindling old ladies and alcoholic women of their money by holding phony séances, is about to get a rude awakening. After pouring all his money into an old house and tricking it out with all sorts of gadgetry, Remy will soon begin to believe that the supernatural is not all phony mumbo-jumbo. He invites a group of wealthy believers to spend a weekend at the house, but when one of the rich old broad's nephew (who is in hock with gambling debts to a gangster and hopes to get his Aunt's money instead) insists on bringing noted medium Alexander Harris (Dirk Benedict; RUCKUS - 1980) to try and debunk his powers, Remy decides to perform a Druid ritual (out of an ancient book that was passed down in his family) instead of a simple séance. He accidentally unleashes a demon (Mike Lane) that traps everyone in the house and begins possessing people to do his bidding, which usually ends in murder. Harris tells Remy that the only way to find out what the demon wants is to perform a séance and, after Remy confesses to everyone that he is a fake, Harris takes over and performs the séance. The demon appears and tells the group that since they have awakened him from his peaceful eternal slumber, he has to kill everyone in the house by daybreak in order to return to his afterlife. The demon possesses the women in the house, using their naked bodies to entice the men (and women!) to an early grave. Before the night is out, everyone but Harris will be dead, thanks to an ancient ring Harris finds that he thinks will protect him. But, as we all know, it's very hard to cheat the Devil and Harris ends up being blamed by the police for all the deaths in the house. Yawn. Is it over?  This is a disappointing outing from director Joe Tornatore, who previously gave us the unusual actioner THE ZEBRA FORCE (1976), it's sequel CODE NAME: ZEBRA (1986) and the weird horror flick GROTESQUE (1987). DEMON KEEPER is a bland horror film that only comes to life during the several nude scenes (one guy is crushed between the legs of a possessed woman while they are having sex, in the film's most inspired moment). Both Edward Albert and Dirk Benedict are simply awful here and look like they would rather be drinking in a bar than appearing in this dreary film. The script, by frequent Tornatore collaborator Mikel Angel (THE LOVE BUTCHER - 1975), is a slow-paced and uneventful haunted house thriller where nothing much happens during the film's scant 72 minute running time. The gore is also minimal and pretty badly done. There is a quick shot of a dog tearing-out a woman's throat, a couple of stabbings (one shown in silhouette) and plenty of bad optical effects (by David L. Hewitt). The demon costume is pretty good, but it is never used in a manner to induce fear or shocks, even though he is the most animated person in the whole film. Everyone else in this film acts as if they are in some sort of trance, giving the whole film a lethargic pace. I really can't see any point in spending more time explaining just how boring this film really is. Let's just say it's bad and leave it at that. The film is set in Connecticut, but was actually filmed in Zimbabwe, Africa. Also starring Andre Jacobs, Adrienne Pearce, David Sherwood, Jennifer Steyn, Claire Marshall, Diane Nuttal, Else Martin and Katrina Maltby. Available on VHS & DVD from New Horizons Home Video. Rated R.

DEMON OF PARADISE (1987) - A group of fishermen in Kihono, Hawaii are illegally fishing with dynamite when they unleash a long-dormant creature (in other words, a man in a rubber suit). After causing the fishermen to blow up their own boat, the creature then goes on a killing spree. The local natives believe that a mystical beast called Acua has returned, so they perform an ancient ritual (lots of hula dancing) to keep the creature at bay so they can continue fishing. It doesn't work. Local cop Keefer (William Steis), who use to be a sheriff in Reno, Nevada until a serial killer made him lose his edge, joins forces with visiting herpatologist (it's a reptile expert, stupid!) Dr. Annie Essex (Kathryn Witt) to get to the bottom of the killings. Complicating matters is nosey tabloid reporter Ike (scripter Frederick Bailey), who is working in cahoots with down-on-her-luck resort owner Cahill (Laura Banks) to publicize the creature's sudden appearance, so it makes the resort a popular tourist attraction. Also on the island are two criminals, Langley (Nick Nicholson) and Shelton (Henry Strzalkowski), who are waiting for a huge shipment of TNT to arrive, which they plan on selling to the local fishermen (the ones that aren't superstitious, that is). As the tourists start pouring in, the killings begin to escalate and Keefer wants to close down the resort's lake, but in true JAWS (1975) fashion, Cahill refuses and tells Keefer to do his job ("I'm not going to let anyone railroad me!"). Cahill holds a "Creature Egg Hunt", where the tourists search for eggs hidden around the resort (you've got to be kidding me!), but when Keefer and his men have a shootout with Langley and Shelton and the creature puts in an appearance and kills Shelton, all the tourists leave the resort in a panic. Keefer calls in the National Guard and they drop grenades on the creature from a helicopter. This just pisses-off the creature, as it then walks on land for the first time and traps everyone in the resort's main cabin. The creature begins picking off people one-by-one and then chases the remaining survivors to the ruins of an ancient temple, where the creature faces-off with Keefer, Annie and the National Guard in the film's explosive finale.  This is prolific Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago's second horror film (after VAMPIRE HOOKERS - 1979) and it's easy to see why he didn't make any more. He stinks at it. This is basically a remake of UP FROM THE DEPTHS (1979; which Santiago produced) and it's a boring mess, with long stretches where nothing happens, followed by an explosion every now and then, followed by an appearance of the creature, which is laughable at best. The subplot about Keefer's past is never fleshed out, besides him saying "I came here to get away from this stuff!" when the murders begin to happen and then later mentioning to Annie that he is a widower (we never really know if the serial killer back in Reno murdered his wife). The film is also rather dry and relatively gore-free for a horror film. The creature attack scenes are few and far between (the sparse gore consists of after-effects of the creature attacks, like slash marks on the face and chest of it's victims), as Santiago would rather focus on the action elements of the film, like Langley and Shelton's dynamite exploits and several gunfights and explosions. Santiago could be an efficient director when faced with the right material (see reviews of FINAL MISSION - 1984; NAKED VENGEANCE - 1985; SILK - 1986), but he seems uncomfortable when it comes to directing horror. He plays it way too safe, which is probably why he didn't make more of them after this. Almost all of Santiago's action and post-nuke flicks (STRYKER - 1983; RAIDERS OF THE SUN - 1991) display more blood and gore than this film, so avoid this and watch one of those instead. Also starring Lesley Huntly (who supplies this film's only topless scene), Joe Mari Avellana (also the Second Unit Director and Production Designer), Paul Holme, Liza Baumann, David Light, Ronnie Patterson, Dave Anderson and Joseph Zucchero. Many of them have appeared in numerous Santiago films in the 80's & 90's. Originally released on VHS by Warner Home Video and available on DVD from Shout! Factory as part of a double feature with UP FROM THE DEPTHS. Rated R.

DEMONOID (1981) - Mexican-made horror film with an international cast. The film opens with a woman stealing a severed hand out of a silver case (which is shaped like a hand) in a cave occupied by a religious sect dressed like the Ku Klux Klan (only with yellow hoods and robes). The woman becomes instantly possessed and gains superhuman powers in her left hand, but is overpowered by members of the sect, who chain her now-topless body to a cave wall and chop-off her left hand with an axe (nothing is left to the imagination). The hand tries escape on its own, but a sect member stabs it with a knife and puts it in the silver case, waiting patiently for the next person to open it and become possessed. We then switch to the present day, where Jennifer Barnes (Samantha Eggar; CURTAINS - 1982) arrives in Guanajuato, Mexico to spend some time with her husband Mark (Roy Jensen; NIGHTMARE HONEYMOON - 1973; here billed as "Roy Cameron Jenson"), an investor in a silver mine. Jennifer enters the mine by herself (in high heels and an evening dress, but she still has enough sense to wear a hardhat!) and accidentally disturbs some rocks, exposing a rotting corpse missing its left hand (the woman from the beginning, perhaps?) and a huge chunk of silver (Which begs the question: How did Jennifer discover this so easily in an area the miners walk through on a daily basis?). Pepe (Jose Chavez Trowe), Mark's right-hand man (no pun intended), tells Mark and Jennifer that the mine is cursed with the "Devil's Hand", a centuries-old legend, and now that she has exposed the one-handed corpse, none of the superstitious locals will enter the mine and do their jobs. Jennifer hopes to shame the locals into going back to work by traveling down to the deepest part of the mine with just her husband and they make it there after several close calls (A human skull falls into Jennifer's hands and Mark jokingly says, "What, are you collecting those?"). Mark falls through a sand pit into a lower chamber that contains a sacrificial temple to the demon with only one hand. After Jennifer joins him in the chamber, they find the silver hand case and bring it topside. All hell breaks loose after that. Mark shows the case to the workers and they all run away in fear. That night, a drunk and distraught Mark opens the case and discovers nothing but ash inside. He goes to sleep, but the ash transforms into a crawling hand that tries to attack Jennifer. Mark grabs the Devil's Hand and becomes instantly possessed; his left hand has a mind of its own and it's up to no good. The next morning, Mark forces all the mineworkers back into the mine and blows it up with dynamite, killing everyone. Mark escapes to the Sands Casino in Las Vegas, where his possessed left hand makes him a big winner at the craps table, but he is knocked out in the parking lot by hustlers Frankie (Ted White) and Angela (Russ Meyer regular Haji, billed here as "Haji Catton") and driven to a shack in the desert, where he is tied to a table and questioned about his "system" for winning. Mark breaks free and kills them both and, in a moment of clarity, douses himself in gasoline and sets himself on fire, but the left hand buries itself in the sand to avoid being burned. Mark's body is claimed by Father Cunningham (Stuart Whitman; NIGHT OF THE LEPUS - 1972) and buried in Los Angeles (Why he claims Mark's body is never fully explained, but it does move the action to L.A.). Jennifer is convinced that her husband is still possessed and not technically dead, so she goes to Los Angeles, where the burnt corpse of Mark rises from the grave, severs his left hand in the door of a police car and possesses the body of Sgt. Leo Matson (Lew Saunders), a cop friend of Father Cunningham. Can the good Father and Jennifer get the hand back in the silver case before more people get the nickname "Lefty"?  Silly beyond belief, DEMONOID (subtitled "MESSENGER OF DEATH!" on the advertising materials, but not on the actual prints) is mindless entertainment, which defies all normal logic. Director Alfredo Zacharias (THE BEES - 1978; CRIME OF CRIMES - 1989), who co-wrote the mind-numbing screenplay with David Lee Fein and F. Amos Powell, has made an unintentionally hilarious supernatural chiller, as he tries to show how many different ways people can sever their left hand from their bodies. Besides the axe and car door dismemberments, there's removal by laser at a doctor's office, getting run over by a train, cut off by car windshield during an auto accident and removal by blowtorch. There's not much more to the story than that, as the possessed hand passes from body-to-body. Samantha Eggar knows fully well that she picked a stinker to star in, so she plays her role so earnestly, she becomes a parody of herself (especially during the "What The Fuck?!?" finale). Toss in a loony car chase, subliminal demon imagery (like Pazuzu in THE EXORCIST - 1973), a few scenes of gore, dismembered hand puppetry and a bit of female nudity and what you get is a film best viewed under the influence. What that influence is depends on your preference. The late Robert A. Burns (TOURIST TRAP - 1978) handled the Special Effects Art Direction. Also starring Narciso Busquets, Erika Carlsson, George Soviak and Al Jones. Available on VHS by Media Home Entertainment with a budget VHS release by Video Treasures a few years later. Not available on DVD. Rated R.

DEMON POSSESSED (1989) - A trio of couples run into more trouble than they can handle while vacationing in Minnesota during the Winter. During a snowmobile race on Black Friar Lake, Tom (Aaron Kjenaas) is seriously injured when he flips his snowmobile and smacks his head against a tree. Miles from anywhere, they are forced to hold up in Camp St. Dominic, a deserted religious camp where a series of satanic murders took place years before. After playing around with a Haitian ouija board, called a "Devil’s Eye", Tom becomes possessed by a demon. Before you can say, "The Devil made me do it", he starts killing his friends in various bloody ways. One is beheaded by barb wire. Another is chopped up by a ceiling fan. Still another has an icicle shoved in his eye while yet another is hung by the neck on a volleyball net. The only one left is his fiancee (Dawn Laurrie). She escapes, which leads to a climatic snowmobile chase, where Tom is killed after being run over by a snowmaking machine(!). This low-budget regional film, originally titled THE CHILL FACTOR, was picked up for video release by A.I.P. Studios who re-edited it (adding some voice-over narration) and renamed it DEMON POSSESSED. It is neither good or bad, just an average little horror flick that has nothing new to offer fans of the genre. Director/producer Christopher Webster tries hard to use the snowy locales to good effect, but without a good story (here supplied by Julian Weaver) all that you get is some nice scenery shots. This is the type of film you rent when nothing else can be found at the video store. That’s what happened to me. Also starring David Fields, Eve Montgomery, Connie Snyder and Jim Cagle. An A.I.P. Home Video Release. Not Rated, but the gore and nudity never go beyond R  territory.

DEMONS 6: DE PROFUNDIS [THE BLACK CAT] (1989) - Before I begin this review, I have a brief confession to make. I originally watched this film after picking up a bootleg VHS tape of it in the late-'90s at a Fangoria convention in New York City. It bored me to tears, thanks to the tape not being dubbed or subtitled in English. I have been watching a lot of late-'80s Italian genre films lately, so I decided to give this film another chance since I found an English-dubbed print streaming on YouTube. I wanted to see if my opinion changed about it, since most of the other late-'80s flicks have drastically altered my opinion about them, whether it be because I am older and wiser (?) or that I gleaned more information about the films than I had when I originally viewed them. I am rewatching this film because I learned that director Luigi Cozzi (THE KILLER MUST KILL AGAIN - 1973; CONTAMINATION - 1980; HERCULES - 1983), who once again uses his pseudonym "Lewis Coates", was making an unofficial finale to the then incomplete Dario Argento "Three Mothers" trilogy, which, at that time, consisted of SUSPIRIA (1977) and INFERNO (1980), but no concluding movie. Argento finally finished his trilogy in 2007 with MOTHER OF TEARS, but back in 1989, Argento's ex, Daria Nicolodi (acting in Argento's PHENOMENA - 1984; OPERA - 1987; as well as appearing in all three of the Three Mothers trilogy), gave her friend Cozzi a finished script of her version of the final chapter of the trilogy. Cozzi, who worked with Argento in some capacity on nearly all his films up to then, loved the script, but decided that he didn't want to make a straight concluding chapter to the trilogy, so he rewrote the script and made it a tribute to the first two films, as well as a nod or two to EDGAR ALLAN POE'S THE BLACK CAT (an alternate title to this film) since money man Menahem Golan and his 21st Century Film Corporation put up some money for the film and pre-sold it to countries as a Poe film (one of several Golan was making in the late-'80s, with titles such as THE HOUSE OF USHER [1988], BURIED ALIVE [1989] and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH [1989]), forcing Cozzi to add nonsensical  inserts of black cats into the film. Nicolodi was so upset about the changes in her screenplay that she left the film, in which she had the starring role. Cozzi replaced her with Florence Guerin (TOO BEAUTIFUL TO DIE - 1988) and made "his" film. So did rewatching it change my mind? Does knowing what I know now in my later years make it a good film? Or was I still bored to tears? Read on...
     Two women in a car stop at a building, where one woman gets out and shouts for a man named George, calling him a murderer while a black cat (the first insert) watches in the shadows and the woman in the car has her throat cut. "George" then makes an appearance, wearing black gloves, a black hat and a stocking pulled over his head (looking eerily like the killer in Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE - 1964), as he attacks the second woman with a large knife. It is at this time we discover all this is nothing but a movie being shot by director Carl (a short cameo by Michele Soavi; THE CHURCH - 1989; THE SECT - 1991), who yells "Cut!" The second woman is actress Anne Ravenna (Florence Guerin; FACELESS - 1987), who is married to successful movie director Mark Ravenna (Urbano Barberini; UNTIL DEATH - 1988). Marc has an idea for a new film, but refuses to tell Anne what it is about until he finds a producer to finance it (Marc is very superstitious). Marc is also very worried about making a flop and ending up directing game shows, telling Anne that some producers and critics call him "King Of The Spaghetti Thrillers", which is not a term of endearment (It would be coming from me!). Marc and Anne drive home, where they talk to Sara (Luisa Maneri; BODY COUNT - 1986), the live-in nanny who takes care of Marc and Anna's baby boy, Marc Jr. Sara asks Anne if it is alright if her cousin William comes over tomorrow because he is a big fan of Marc and his films and Anne says yes, Marc would like that.
     Nora (Caroline Munro; Cozzi's STARCRASH - 1978), another actress starring in Carl's film, is married to screenwriter Dan Grudzinski (Maurizio Fardo; RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS - 1983), who is writing the script for Marc's new film. While Dan and Nora are having dinner with Marc and Anne, Marc announces that his new film has found a producer. His name is Leonard Levin (Brett Halsey; DEMONIA - 1990), a producer who was big in the 1960's, but since then has disappeared from the movie scene. Marc and Dan tell the women that the new film is based on Thomas De Quincey's novel "Suspiria de Profundis" (de Profundis meaning "From The Depths"), which deals with Levana, the Third Mother, better known as The Mother Of Tears (Marc even drops Dario Argento's name in the conversation). When Nora and Dan leave, Marc tells Anne he wants her to portray Levana, saying the part was written just for her. I guess he should have told Dan that, because Nora also wants the part badly and she tells Dan she will do anything to get it, even if it means sleeping with Marc! Dan just laughs and doesn't take her seriously, but he should.
     While Anne is rehearsing the role of Levana in front of her living room mirror, the demon Levana (a pustuled creature with glowing eyes) crashes through the mirror and tells Anne that she, nor anyone else, will portray her or tell her story in a film. If they try they are dead. Levana then disappears (after puking a slimy green substance and blood all over Anne's body) and when Anne looks at the mirror, it's no longer broken. So, did this actually happen or is it all in Anne's fertile imagination? What do you think (It is a horror film, after all)? Marc doesn't believe Anne when she tells him what just happened, pointing to the mirror to show her it isn't broken and telling her she is just stressed, so they go to sleep. Levana's voice wakes up a sleeping Anne, telling her she no longer needs the mirror to materialize and threatens her life once again if she continues acting in the film. This is when the strange shit begins to happen.
     Marc and Dan go to visit Leonard Levin at his mansion, where his assistant, Nadine (Alessandra Acciai; SCHOOL OF FEAR - 1999) shows them to her boss, whom they discover is an invalid in a wheelchair. He tells Marc and Dan he is impressed with the short story treatment they have supplied him, complaining that other filmmakers and screenwriters submit screenplays that are hundreds of pages long and don't tell as much as their four page treatment does. He agrees to finance the film, but he insists on taking a hands-on approach to making the film, as he considers it to be his comeback into the world of movies. Marc is taken aback, thinking a director should be the boss of the film, but he needs financing so badly, he agrees to Leonard Levin's terms. When Marc and Dan leave, it is quite apparent that Leonard and Nadine are working with Levana, but why?
     When Anne gets home, she finds a repairman (Antonio Marsina; ROLF - 1983) fixing her refrigerator (it mysteriously broke in an "electrical malfunction" in the house the night before) and he tells her it is all fixed, handing her the bill. She then meets Sara's young cousin William (actor unknown), who is watching Baby Marc in his room. When Anne talks to Sara, telling her that she has just spoken to William, Sara tells her that it couldn't be, William called her and told her that he couldn't make it. Anne runs to Baby Marc's room and nobody is there, just the baby, so she goes downstairs to talk to the repairman, only to discover the refrigerator is still broken and the bill she was given is now missing. Is Anne going mad or is Levana playing mind games with her?
     Marc hires Esther Semerani (Karina Huff; VOICES FROM BEYOND - 1991), a professor of mysticism and the occult, as well as a medium, to act as a consultant on the film, to give it a sense of realism. She makes Marc aware that Levana is real and was the most evil witch that ever lived. She can possess anyone who concentrates on her long enough. She prefers to possess women, but only if they were born under a certain constellation of stars (Can you guess where Anne was born? There's also confusing sequences set in outer space where a "star child' is born, which will remind you of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY - 1968, but what in the world does it mean? Really, I want to know!). If she decides to possess a man, Levana must sacrifice a newborn child to get revenge on those who burned her at the stake (Confused yet? I am, too!). Unfortunately, Esther doesn't get a chance to be a consultant on the film, for as she is walking in the subway, her heart explodes out of her chest!
     To make matters more confusing, Anne meets little girl Sybil (Giada Cozzi, the director's daughter), who she can only talk to on her TV set! Sybil tells Anne she's a fairy and Anne has also been one all her life, she just doesn't know how to use her powers. She also tells Anne that there is very little difference between a fairy and a witch, which is what Levana is. We then watch Anne putting makeup on herself to look like Levana and then she stabs Marc, who then stabs Anne and they both die. It all turns out to be one of Anne's nightmares, but why is "You Are Not Levana" written in blood on one of Baby Marc's bedroom walls and why is Baby Marc missing? Marc believes Anne is responsible for both and storms out of the house in a huff.
     We then discover that Marc has been having an affair with Nora and offered her the role of Levana in his film. Marc tells Nora he believes Anne is responsible for Baby Marc's disappearance, but he is sure she will never harm him. He is worried that her mind won't be able to accept the news that she is no longer the star of his film, but Nora insists he tells her. A badly injured Dan, who was mysteriously attacked in his country home when he was writing the film's actual screenplay, drives his car into Marc's house and implies to Anne that Leonard Levin is responsible for all the deaths and Baby Marc's disappearance, then he dies. Anne drives to Levin's house and finds him dead, but still able to talk! He tries to get Anne to commit suicide by shooting herself in the head, but she uses her powers to turn the gun on Levin and shoot him in the head, which stops him from talking. Anne then shoots and kills Nadine, who comes at her with a knife. Before she dies, Nadine tells Anne that Nora has her baby.
     It turns out that Nora and Marc are working with Levana to stop Anne from using her "special" fairy powers (Huh?). Levana is seriously disappointed with both of them for failing to stop Anne, so she kills Marc by blowing up Nora's car as he is waiting for her to return. Levana hands Nora a straight razor and demands she kills herself, which Nora does by slitting her own throat. Anne has somehow rescued Baby Marc and Levana decides to kill Anne on her own. It won't be easy, especially when Anne discovers how to use her fairy powers, which she seemingly has the ability to shoot lasers from her fingertips and bend time and space. Who will win this battle? Expect lots of cheap optical effects in this battle, where Sara reveals herself to be the reincarnation of Levana. Just when it seems that Anne won and the world is back in order now, baby Marc reveals he has glowing eyes, just like Levana. Jesus Christ, does this mean there's going to be a sequel? Don't worry, it never happened, but Cozzi is still with us, so never say never!
     One thing I always admired about Luigi Cozzi is that no matter how low budget and cheap his films are, he manages to imbue them with a sense of awe, wonder and playfulmess, something this film is definitely missing. It's not like he doesn't try here and there (especially in the film-within-the-film, which is lit with neon colors like Argento's films, but this film's dominate color is a nauseating neon pea soup green), but he fails miserably. Most of the film doesn't make a lick of sense, especially Anne's newfound powers and her spirit guide Sybil, who can only be seen on the TV screen. I can always forgive a film not making much sense, but this film is just too boring and slow for me to do that. It is apparent Cozzi is a big fan of Argento, as he peppers this film with a lot of homages to the first two Three Mothers films (see how many you can spot). Cozzi's next film after this one would be the documentary/love letter to his idol, titled DARIO ARGENTO: MASTER OF HORROR (1991). Even Michele Soavi made his own documentary of the Master (just like Cozzi, he worked on many of Argento's films in some capacity), titled DARIO ARGENTO'S WORLD OF HORROR (1985). Both those documentaries are much better than this film. I really don't have much more to say about this film, other than to ask why Italian horror films of the '80s depend so much on heavy metal songs to transition from scene-to-scene, like this one does? My opinion hasn't changed much about this film when I first saw it in the late-'90s. Cozzi's film just before this, titled PAGANINI HORROR (1988), is just as ridiculous, but much more fun. I wish this film had the verve that one did (look for a review soon).
     Filmed as IL GATTO NERO ("The Black Cat") and also known as DEMONS 6: ARMAGEDON (sp) and DEAD EYES, it is better known under the review title in the United States, even though it never had a theatrical or home video release in any physical format in the States. A nice anamorphic widescreen print, dubbed in English, can be found streaming on YouTube from user "Horror Realm" (under the review title). Also featuring Jasmine Maimone (DEMONS - 1985) and Michele Marsina. Not Rated, due to infrequent bloody gore. There is no nudity to speak of.

DEMON SLAYER (2002) - Standard latter-day New Concorde horror flick about five juvenile delinquents who are sent to rennovate an abandoned mental hospital on a special work release program. If they stay there for three days and do their jobs adequately, they will get probation for their crimes. They are the typical cliche group of horror movie teens: The Goth Chick; The Punk; The Brotha; The Bitch; and The Bitch's Friend. Alicia (Michelle Acuna), the Goth chick, begins having visions of people in robes performing some type of satanic ritual. As the five teens bicker amongst themselves, there seems to be something roaming the vacant halls (displayed as distorted POV shots) and the adult supervisors, including tough cripple Mr. Cobb (Layon Gray) and Father Patricio (Robert Eaton) pay them no mind, although it's clear that two of them, Patricio and the mysterious Father Enrique (Joaquin Garrido), know more than they are saying. Alicia finds a photo book and a diary that both chart the history of the hospital and it's not pleasant because anyone who have lived in this area (including when it was a bordello) have died horribly. It's not long before a supernatural force begins possessing and killing the teens and the supervisors while Alicia tries to find out how she is involved with the history of this place. A standard "surprise" ending follows.  Routine in every aspect, DEMON SLAYER panders to the lowest common denominator when it comes to the exploitation aspects. The frequent nudity is here to get your mind off the fact that nothing happens for the first hour, besides a brief bloody killing in the first five minutes. The dialogue consists of lines such as "Fuck you!", "What the hell is going on here?", "Fuck you, bitch!", "Ain't this some shit!", "Up yours!" and a couple of more variants of the word "fuck". Phillip (Adam Huss), the punk, is fond of spouting lines from other films, including THE EXORCIST (1973) and "The Wolfman's got nards!" line from THE MONSTER SQUAD (1987). Why he does it only writer /director James Cotten (a recent grad of the Los Angeles Film School) can answer. My best guess is that he had watched SCREAM (1997) one too many times. The violence in this film, when it finally does appear, is bloody but unconvincing. Arms and legs are cut off with an axe, someone's spine is ripped out, a giant CGI spider crawls out of another's mouth, various body part munching from some hooker zombies and a screwdriver to the forehead. The film is full of that foggy neon lighting and solarized flashback footage that recent horror films are so fond of using. Although played broadly enough to be considered a comedy, most of the lines fall flat although I did chuckle when asked by Phillip what is rolling down the hall, Father Enrique answers, "It's a baby carriage from Hell!" It's an OK time-waster that pops-up every now and then on the Sci-Fi Network in edited form (without the nudity and extreme violence, it must be a big snooze), so if you must watch this, rent the DVD. SEE NO EVIL (2006), the film starring WWE wrestler Kane, used a similar storyline four years later. Also starring Harold Williams Jr. (the Brotha), Hannah Lee (the Bitch) and Monique DeVille (the Bitch's Friend). A New Concorde Release. Rated R.

DEMONWARP (1988) - Forget trying to make sense of the title and just enjoy this off-the-wall horror outing. One hundred years ago a spaceship crash landed in the woods. A traveling preacher sees the craft and disappears. Cut to the present and proud father George Kennedy (yes, that George Kennedy!) sees his daughter killed and taken away by a bigfoot creature. A bunch of teenagers rent the same cabin where the bigfoot attack took place and soon they are also attacked by the bigfoot, the majority of them being killed and taken away. The rest of them team up with George Kennedy, who has set up camp nearby in hopes of killing the bigfoot in retribution for the death of his daughter. But all is not what it seems. It turns out that the alien whose spacecraft crash landed one hundred years ago is still alive and is turning all the humans into zombie slaves so they can fix his ship. The preacher from the beginning is still alive and has not aged. He performs sacrifices on some humans, cutting out their hearts and feeding them to the alien. The alien also has the power to turn any human into a bigfoot, thereby providing him with a way to kidnap and kill campers (including an almost always nude Michelle Bauer) and keep his supply of zombie workers. Nearly everyone dies and the film ends on is it or is it not a dream finale. There's a lot to like here: Plenty of nudity, a great bigfoot costume (by John Carl Buechler, who also wrote the story the screenplay is based on), lots of gore including heads and various body parts being ripped off and a really one-of-a-kind storyline that makes you want to stayed glued to the tube, so you don't miss anything. I had to watch it twice just to get some of the little nuances in the story, such as why the bigfoot didn't kill the main teenager Jack (David Michael O'Neill) when he had the chance in the cabin. This is by far director Emmett Alston's best film, having made NEW YEAR'S EVIL (1980) and a bunch of forgettable ninja films in the 80's. He also wrote the screenplay for the creepy terror-in-the-woods film HUNTER'S BLOOD (1987). This film is a must for any discriminating horror fan and may be the most unusual film of the late 80's. Also starring Pamela Gilbert (also nude a lot), Billy Jacoby (a killer Jack Nicholson imitation), Colleen McDermott, Hank Stratton and John Durban as the preacher. A Vidmark Entertainment Home Video Release. Not Rated for all the right reasons.

DEMON WARRIOR (1987) - Good, old Texas. Home of George Bush (Sr. & Jr.), a legal system quick to put you to death if you spit on the sidewalk (or if you are retarded), gun racks on prepubescents' tricycles and an oil well in everyone's backyard. Of course, not everything about Texas is a cheap joke. Texas was (and still is) a hotbed of low-budget genre filmmaking. Directors such as Larry Buchanan (ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS - 1966; CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE - 1966; IN THE YEAR 2889 - 1967; IT'S ALIVE! - 1969) and S.F. Brownrigg (DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT - 1973; KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN - 1973; POOR WHITE TRASH PART II - 1974; DON'T OPEN THE DOOR - 1975) are probably the best-known low-budget Texas auteurs. There have also been many Texas-lensed "one-shot wonders", including MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (1966), NIGHT FRIGHT (1967), ENTER THE DEVIL (1974), FUTURE KILL (1984), NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985), R.O.T.O.R. (1987) and FOREVER EVIL (1987), not to mention the most famous Texas feature of them all, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974). Which brings us to this film. From the opening shot, where the camera lovingly pans over a variety of firearms and ammo, to the actors' accents, where everyone calls each other "son" or "mam", you know you are about to witness something strictly Texan. Unfortunately, director/producer/co-scripter Frank Patterson forgot the cardinal rule of horror filmmaking: Cut to the chase and get to the good stuff. Neil Willard (Wiley M. Pickett) and girlfriend Sarah (Leslie Mullin) bring some friends to Neal's family property (who the locals refer to as "The Old Willard Place") for a weekend hunting trip (This is Texas after all. What else would they do on their weekends?). There have been many unexplained deadly "accidents" on the property in the past, but since Neal is not a superstitious man, he decides to ignore all the warnings and put his friends' lives in jeopardy. It seems the Willard propery use to belong to the local Indians and Neal's ancestors forced them off the land, which made an Indian shaman put a curse on the property. A "Demon Warrior" (Lee Barret) inhabits the property, killing anyone who steps foot on it (Don't try to rationalize it or you'll go crazy). It's not long before the Demon starts killing Neal's friends using various Indian methods (death by stone sacrificial knife, arrow and tomahawk). The sudden appearance of a friendly Indian (Jon Langione) proves beneficial to Neal and Sarah, the only two people in the hunting party still left alive. He explains to the duo that the legend of the land is true and only he can lift the curse. As he performs an ancient ritual his grandfather taught him, the Indian is shot in the chest with an arrow by the Demon. Neal grabs the Indian's bow and shoots an arrow at the Demon, who grabs the arrow in mid-air and disappears in a bolt of lightning. The dying Indian informs Neal and Sarah that the curse is now lifted. Umm......what?!?  More silly than scary, DEMON WARRIOR is a lethargically-paced horror film that takes forever to get to the first killing and when it does, the camera pulls away before we see anything. Director Frank Patterson (BLACK SNOW - 1989), who co-wrote the script with Mark Baird and Alan Stewart (who directed the Texas-lensed horror western GHOST RIDERS [1987], on which Frank Patterson was Associate Producer and Music Composer), tries to inject some drama into the tired plot by having Sarah and Neal's best friend Brent (Jerry R. Coiteux) express their love for each other behind Neal's back, but when Brent is killed by the Demon (an arrow in his chest), Neal later tells Sarah while they are sitting around a campfire that he knew about her infidelity, but he wanted to see how it "played out" before he confronted her. I guess the advantage goes to Neal! To further stretch the boundaries of believability, the Indian that arrives to save Neal and Sarah tells them that he is actually a wealthy investment banker! The Demon is basically nothing but bodybuilder Lee Barret dressed in a tiny buckskin loincloth with some horribly lame-assed makeup applied to his face. It is one of the worse monsters that I have ever seen and it sometimes reminded me of the turkey monster in BLOOD FREAK (1972). There's also minimal gore (just a couple of arrow impalements and a tomahawk to the head), one of the limpest finales in horror film history (Really, I can't remember when another film left me saying, "Is that it?") and only one instance of nudity (in the beginning of the film, no less!). The acting is amateurish (try not to laugh when Jerry R. Coiteux is shot with an arrow and says to his friend, "Hassmiler, help me!" in one of the weakest cries for help my ears have ever heard) and the only halfway decent thing about this film is a pretty good car crash/explosion. Faint praise for a totally lackluster regional horror flick. Which just proves that not everything that comes out of Texas is big. Also starring John Garrett, Bruce Carbonara, Vonda Borski, Martin Smith and Robert Lee Seglar. A Monarch Home Video Release that's thankfully not available on DVD. Not Rated.

THE DENTIST (1996) - Funny and gory horror film that has a great over-the-top performance by Corbin Bernsen (TV's PSYCH). He plays a high-price dentist (all his office rooms have themes, such as the jungle, opera house, etc) who goes mad when he catches his wife screwing the pool man. He imagines that all his female patients are his wife and punishes them graphically with his dentistry tools. Bernsen must also deal with a greedy IRS agent (Earl Boen) and a cop (Ken Foree) who is investigating a string of burglaries in his upperclass neighborhood. This film works because it preys on everyone’s fear of going to the dentist. Filled with gory close-ups of oral mutilations (teeth unnecessarily being pulled, overdrilling a tooth down to the gum line) and the sounds that go with it, this film would be very hard to watch if it weren’t for the frequent black humor, the excellent off-kilter cinematography and Bernsen’s performance of a man’s descent into madness. I’ve seen Bernsen turn in some telegraphed performances in some of his B-films (see KOUNTERFEIT [1997] as an example), but here he seems to be enjoying himself and it shows. Director Brian Yuzna (SOCIETY - 1989) does an unusually good job of displaying patients’ anxieties and fears as they sit in the waiting room ignorant of the fact that those anxieties and fears will soon come true. Stuart Gordon receives co-story credit, which explains the frequent touches of black humor. This film makes it very difficult to take your eyes off the screen, even if you find yourself wanting to (and you will). Also starring Linda Hoffman and Michael Stadvec. Yuzna directed a sequel, THE DENTIST 2 in 1998, but it is no where near as good as the original. It plays like a bastardization of THE STEPFATHER (1987). Both DENTIST 1 & 2 made their premiere on HBO and are available on VHS and DVD from Vidmark Entertainment. Rated R.

THE DESCENT (2005) - For those of you that really despised THE CAVE (2005), try this horror film as an alternative, a really jolting sophomore effort by director Neil Marshall, who made the excellent werewolf film DOG SOLDIERS (2002). A group of women get together every year on vacation to do some extreme sport. Last year they went white water rafting and one of the women, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) loses her husband and daughter on the trip home in a truly shocking accident (one of the best "jump-scares" of 2005). The next year, the women get together in the Appalachian Mountains (actually filmed in Scotland and on film stages in Pinewood Studios, England) to explore some newly discovered cave. Sarah is still not over her loss but decides to go on the trip to get her mind off of it. What they discover down there will leave you gasping for breath, as Sarah and her mates must fight off some human-like blind creatures (their origin is never explained, but they may have been the decendants of some lost explorers who were in the cave 100 years earlier, known as "crawlers" in the end credits), a cave-in, as well as some infighting among themselves. Only we, the viewers, know that Sarah is experiencing flashbacks and hallucinations of her daughter's birthday (we see her blowing out the candles on her cake as a symbolic gesture of giving up), but the real menace (beside the creatures taste for human flesh) is expedition leader Juno (Natalie Mendoza), who is harboring some secrets of her own and commits one of the worst bits of violence in this film. It all ends on a final note of desperation, the only logical conclusion for the film. Now the bad news: Lions Gate is releasing the film to theaters in the US devoid of the downbeat ending (they plan on including it as an extra when they release it on DVD). I can think of no better time to buy a multi-region DVD player than now. I'm tired of film companies like Lions Gate and Dimension Films giving us watered-down tripe so American audiences can walk out of the movie happy. I don't know about you, but I don't mind using my brain while watching films. Back to the movie: Marshall directs with a sure hand with an all-female cast and builds atmosphere by using only available light, greatly enhancing the tension and making you jump at certain sections of the film. The creatures are amazing and move quickly, but the women hold their own against them until they are separated. Soon, scenes of gut-munching (gory, but shot in a way not to give away too much), crossing crevasses to escape the terror and unexpected bits of violence by the women soon follow. Marshall is to be congratulated for making a film about women with grit and character, which makes their deaths all the more shocking. Well done and must viewing for any horror fan. Also starring Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone and Molly Kayll. Skip the Lions Gate DVD and get the English DVD from Pathe Distribution, Ltd. (available from amazon.co.uk). Rated R. NOTE: Shauna Macdonald returned in 2009 (I quess the downbeat ending in the original was just a dream) with a DTV sequel called (what else?) THE DESCENT PART 2, which is merely a shadow of the original that takes place right after the ending of the first film. All it is is an unoriginal monster movie with lots of nasty bits of gore thrown in (and the usual shock "surprise" ending that taints most horror films today). You can tell almost immediately that Neil Marshall had nothing to do with it. And neither should you. Watching it ruins the effect you had viewing the first film.

DETOUR (2003) - Not bad little independent horror film which owes a lot to THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) and the then recently-opened theatrical release WRONG TURN (2003). A bunch of teenagers, returning from a rave in the desert, make a detour to try to find a lost stash of peyote (!?). Their RV breaks down (of course) and they are left stranded in the desert. Unfortunately, there's also a bunch of cannibals on the loose and begin to pick-off the teens. An obnoxious, ghetto-talking white boy named Loopz (Aaron Buer), becomes one of the unlikely heroes, helping the two remaining girls kill-off the cannibalistic clan, whose flesh-hunger seems to be caused by some unknown chemicals that are leaking by a nearby mineshaft. Initially slow-going, the film picks up in the second half dramatically as people are run over, dismembered, disemboweled, impaled, shot and generally chopped-up. Buer gives a grating performance in the beginning and you think that he will be one of the early victims. Director/screenwriter S. Lee Taylor (THE SURGE - 2002) surprises us by making him one of the main characters who saves the day, as he transforms from a jive-talking jerk into someone who begins to see that becoming a hero is not a simple job. The other young actors, including Ashley Elizabeth, Brent Taylor (who bears a striking resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio), Danna Brady, Kelsey Wedeen and Jessica Osfar do a good job for such a low budget flick. The girls are especially pretty and look good in the skimpy clothes that they wear. There's also plenty of humor, as when Taylor goes off on his own and spots a sign that reads: "Trespassers Will Be Eaten". Director of Photography Cort Fey (COLD CASE TV Series [2003 - 2010]) does a nice job in establishing tension and mood in the desert settings. Featuring plenty of blood and body parts, DETOUR (originally known as HELL'S HIGHWAY) is a good bet for non-discriminating horror fans. An MTI Video Release. Rated R.

DEVIL FISH (1984) - This unredeemable Italian/French co-production is a laughably bad rip-off of JAWS (1975). Something resembling a squid with a shark's head is biting off the arms and legs of unsuspecting fishermen and pleasure boaters in the waters off a coastal Florida town. An oceanographer (John Garko), dolphin expert (Valentine Monnier) and electronics genius (Michael Sopkiw) try to capture the creature so they can identify it. They are constantly thwarted by employees at a research laboratory who have genetically produced this monster in hopes of controlling the world's oceans. When it is discovered that this tentacled terror is able to reproduce by itself, our heroes must find a way to destroy it before it dominates and destroys the marine population. Who will live and who will die? Who gives a shit? This slow moving catastrophe contains the phoniest looking monster you are ever likely to see. It makes the creatures in THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964) look absolutely polished. It does have some nudity and gore, but not enough to keep your eyes on the screen rather than the clock. Director "John Old Jr." is really Lamberto Bava, who also made the vastly superior FROZEN TERROR (1980: a.k.a. MACABRE) and DEMONS (1985), DEMONS 2 (1986) & DEMONS III: THE OGRE (1988). One gets the feeling that Bava is only slumming here. Top-billed Sopkiw and Monnier can both be seen in Sergio Martino's AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK (1983). DEVIL FISH is also known as MONSTER SHARK, RED OCEAN and DEVOURING WAVES. It stinks under any title. A Vidmark Entertainment Release. Also available on Blu-Ray from Code Red and streaming on Amazon Prime. Not Rated.

THE DEVIL'S CHAIR (2006) - Nick West (Andrew Howard) and his girlfriend Sammy (Polly Brown) drop some acid after breaking into the abandoned Blackwater Asylum and decide to have sex on an old chair made out of wood and metal that was previously used for shock treatments (If this isn't a reason not to do drugs, kids, than nothing is because this chair comes complete with a human skull that someone has jammed between two metal rods on the chair's back. Not the best place to "get it on", if you ask me!). Serious problems happen when Sammy sits on the chair, as the metal restraining devices clamp down on her hands and neck and she begins to bleed profusely out of every orifice in her body. When the chair lets her go, the blood-soaked Sammy runs out of the room and disappears, leaving a tripped-out Nick unsure about what he has just witnessed. When Sammy's body is never found, Nick is declared criminally insane and committed to a psychiatric institution because no one will believe his story. Four years later, Nick is now convinced he killed Sammy (thanks to all the psychotropic drugs pumped into his body), but Dr. Willard (David Gant) wants to discover the truth about what really happened to Sammy, so he has Nick released from the hospital under his care. Dr. Willard plans to write a book about the subject, so he brings Nick back to Blackwater Asylum, along with psychology students Rachel (Elize Du Toit), Brett (Matt Berry) and Dr. Willard's assistant, Melissa (Louise Griffiths). Nick is not too keen on the idea, but since he really has no choice in the matter, he reluctantly agrees and, once they all set foot in Blackwater Asylum, it is plain to see that Nick has a good reason to feel uneasy. Not only is it apparent that some deadly supernatural force possesses the chair, but Nick has to put up with the sarcastic bullying remarks of Brett (who is an asshole of the first degree), the untrusting attitude of Melissa (who believes that Nick is a murderer) and Dr. Willard's ulterior motives (which have to do with the experiments run by the asylum's namesake, Dr. Blackwater, before he went mad and disappeared in 1963). Only Rachel seems sympathetic towards Nick, but he is going to need more than sympathy if he (or anyone else) is going to survive their stay at the asylum. By the time we get to the film's convoluted finale (which makes absolutely no sense if you bother to think about it deeply enough), Nick will face his demons, both imagined and real, while everyone else dies nasty, violent deaths.  This English horror film, directed by Adam Mason (THE 13TH SIGN - 2000) and co-written by Mason and Simon Boyes (who both co-directed the much better BROKEN the same year as this film), suffers greatly because Mason tips the hands of everyone's fates at the beginning of the film. The framing device of Nick narrating the entire film (where he utters the word "cunt" much too often) and showing all the major characters meeting their fates in the opening minutes of the film (even showing the demon, who doesn't come into play until the final third of the film), leaves very little room for surprises, no matter if Nick is insane or not. The decision to give the entire film a bleached-out look (an effect of draining the footage of normal fleshtones and natural colors that is over-used in horror films today and really serves no purpose here) wins no favor with me, either. The only plusses this film has to offer are some gory makeup effects (the mechanics of the chair are very effective, if absurd) and David Gant's over-the-top performance as Dr. Willard, which reminded me of the late Ferdy Mayne (THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS - 1967; THE HORROR STAR - 1981). Nick's narration is much too juvenile for the film's own good and, at one point, his narration reveals an utter contempt for the type of audience who would watch this film in the first place. The reveal of Nick's true mental state is not much of a surprise and Andrew Howard (who looks and acts like Jason Statham's hyperactive third cousin) does nothing to make the character the least bit interesting. It's nothing but a cardboard cut-out of a psychotic living in a world of his own making. Also starring Olivia Hill, Nadja Brand (also one of the Producers) and Gary Mackay. A Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD Release. Unrated.

THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT (1973) - An archaeologist, travels to Castle Dracula in Transylvania in search of the Niebulungen Ring, which gives the wearer untold powers as long as they denounce love. At the castle he meets the Countess and proceeds to make love to her. He discovers the ring on her finger and she turns into a bat. He ends up buried alive in a crypt. His twin brother comes to the castle looking for him. He becomes suspicious when the Countess tells him that his brother has left the castle. He rescues his brother from the crypt not knowing that he is too late. His brother has become a vampire. Meanwhile, the Countess uses the ring to lure all the town's virgins (apparently there were plenty of them in the 19th century) to her castle to prepare for a black mass wedding. She plans to marry the archaeologist, who is possessed by the spirit of Count Dracula.. The twin brothers fight. Who will survive? Mark Damon (BLACK SABBATH - 1963, CRYPT OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1973) essays the roles of the twin brothers and buxom "Sara Bay" (a.k.a. Rosalba Neri; LADY FRANKENSTEIN - 1971) is the Countess in this fairly routine Italian period piece spiced up somewhat by arty camera angles and flashy editing (cinematography by Aristide Massaccesi, better known as "Joe D'Amato"). There is plenty of nudity but it was severely edited for U.S. release. Director Luigi Batzella (listed here under the pseudonym "Paul Solvay") also made BLACKMAIL (1974) NUDE FOR SATAN (1974), ACHTUNG! THE DESERT TIGERS (1977), SS HELL CAMP (1977 - as "Ivan Kathansky") and many others. Screenwriter Ralph Zucker, who produced the excellent TERROR CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE (1965), also executive produced and supervised the English language version of THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT (also known as FULL MOON OF THE VIRGINS). One note of warning: The print quality of the VCI transfer is very scratchy and is distracting to the eyes. A VCI Home Video Release. Available on Blu-Ray from Code Red and the print is spotless.. Rated R.

DEVIL TIMES FIVE (1974) - This often overlooked 70's sickie really deserves a place on every horror fans' mantle. Thanks to Code Red, this film is now available on DVD for everyone to enjoy. The story is rather simple: A group of psychotic kids, who escape after their van slides in the snow and rolls down the side of a mountain, invade the deep-in-the-woods winter home of iron-fisted patriarch Papa Doc (Gene Evans) and proceed to kill the residents. Papa Doc's group are a veritable smorgasborde of stereotypes: Family suck-up Harvey (the DUKES OF HAZZARD's [1979 - 1985] "Boss Hogg", Sorrell Booke) and his alcoholic wife Ruth (Shelley Morrison), nymphomaniac Lovely (Carolyn Steller), good-girl daughter Julie (Joan McCall) and her good-guy boyfriend Rick (Taylor Lachler), and mentally retarded (and abused) servant Ralph (John Durren). When the kids first enter the home, they are treated as poor helpless tots, but it soon becomes clear that they are way more dangerous than meets the eye. David (Leif Garrett, already an established child star [and future rock star and flameout]) likes to play chess and is a closet transvestite. Hannah (Gail Smale) likes to dress as a nun but is not above using a butcher knife. Moe (Dawn Lyn) likes to play with her doll but likes playing with dead bodies more. Susan (Tia Thompson) likes to play with a lighter and Briann (Tierre Turner) likes to carry a toy rifle and thinks he's in the military. When Ralph is found dead (hanged by a boobytrapped generator) as well as the phone disconnected, the family become suspicious of the kids, and rightly so. Papa Doc's collection of rifles end up missing as does all of the sharp-edged silverware (Rick wryly says to Papa Doc: "I hope you can butter your toast with a spoon."). Soon they all end up dead thanks to piranhas in the bathtub (!), an ingenious use of a scythe, being soaked with gasoline and set afire, a child-made spear and bear traps capped-off by a throat slashing. The most unusual death comes in the beginning when one of the surviving doctors in the accident tries to warn the people in the house, only to be attacked by the kids with garden and construction tools. The scene turns to black-and-white and slow-motion as the kids stab and whack the doctor with a pitchfork, a sledgehammer, a claw hammer and other instruments until he slowly dies. I was also taken aback that the kids would first target Ralph, the person who would probably cause the least resistance due to his mental state. These kids mean business! Director Sean MacGregor (NIGHTMARE COUNTY - 1971; GENTLE SAVAGE - 1973) infuses enough perverse situations (Garrett in drag; the intense piranha kill sequence) and, surprisingly, no female nudity (but there is a instance of male nudity) to hold your attention throughout, even if the screenplay (by co-star John Durren and Sandra Lee Blowitz) has enough holes to pass a train through. But, all things considered, this is a great example of 70's sleaze that could never get made today. DEVIL TIMES FIVE is also known as PEOPLETOYS (which makes sense if you've seen it) and THE HORRIBLE HOUSE ON THE HILL. Also available on VHS from Media Home Entertainment in the SP speed and Video Treasures in the EP speed and as part of Mill Creek's 50-movie DVD compilation CHILLING CLASSICS (which looks like a dupe of Media's VHS). Stick with the DVD from Code Red (if you can find it). It's widescreen and looks beautiful. Rated R.

DEVOURED: THE LEGEND OF ALFERD PACKER (2005) - Everyone knows (or should know) the story of Alferd Packer (born Alfred G. "Alferd" Packer in 1842), the first U.S. citizen to be successfully prosecuted for cannibalism when he and a group of frontiersman and women got caught in a heavy snowstorm at Donner's Pass on 1874 and they didn't have enough food to survive, so when members of the party began to die of frostbite and hunger, Packer began to eat them. When he ran out of corpses, he murdered some members of the party and ate them (I hear it tastes like chicken). He did survive, but hid for nine years to avoid the law and was eventually caught, where he was given the death sentence. He eventually won a retrial and was convicted of manslaughter, where he was sentenced to 40 years. he was paroled in 1901 and passed away in 1907, where he stipulated in his will that he be eaten (OK, I made up that last part). What I didn't make up is that many people said he became a vegetarian before he died. No matter what is written about Alferd Packer, only he knew the truth and was a true enigma. Scientists have dug up the bodies of his supposed victims and the results have always been inconclusive, but that didn't stop filmmakers from making historical and horror films about his life, some truer than others (This one being reviewed is one of the most outlandish). There was the 1978 TV Movie DONNER PASS: THE ROAD TO SURVIVAL (where the subject of cannibalism was merely implied), the PG-Rated THE LEGEND OF ALFRED PACKER (1980), where more of the cannibalism was talked about, but not shown, THE DONNER PARTY (2009), which is about as historically correct as records will allow (and cannibalism is shown) and DONNER PASS (2011), which is nothing but a modern bloody slasher film. If you like you cannibalism shown in a bloody comical light, there is always Trey Parker and Matt Stone's not-so-biographical Alferd Packer CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (1993), which I would advise everyone to see at least once. In the film that is being reviewed, it is implied that Packer's cannibalism has made him immortal, as long as he keeps eating human flesh. It is also the worst film on the subject. Hell, it is just a bad film. After an absolutely untrue History class on Packer (where the Professor states that he was never known as "Alferd", making collective historians shake their heads in shame). teaching assistant Aaron (AarinTeich) takes (or rather, makes) a group of college students take a trip to Miller's Pass, California to search for the remains of Packer, who supposedly killed Aaron great-grandfather. Little do they know that Packer is still alive, he has some followers and he swings a pretty mean pickaxe. College student Holly (Hollis Evermon; who bugs her eyes out until they nearly pop out of their sockets) hears a girl (Eileen Papa) screaming in a hole in the ground and she tries to pull her out, but the entire area is full of underground tunnels (this use to be gold mine territory) and Packer (Jeff Muzi) kills the girl while blood squirts all over Holly's face. We then see Packer's mummy-like hand burst out of the ground and Holly scream. Aaron and his group run into a creepy guy (Brian Spellman) with explosives when they are looking for Holly and Mr. Creepy tells the city slickers that they better head for civilization before they become chow. Aaron is a weird man, who makes his students stop and form a circle with their feet touching, because he feels the presence of Packer. We then experience a freak-out scene full of solarized shots, dead rotting miners, and strange double exposures (none of it makes any sense). Tara (Q. Taylor Park) is the first one to wake up, but she can't get anyone else to, so she does the only natural thing that a rational person can do: she heads out into uncharted territory looking for Holly by herself (did she think that none of the other students or Aaron would wake up?). She finds an entrance to a cave and naturally enters it looking for Holly. Meanwhile, the rest of the students and Aaron wake up, so Laura (Mia Lynne) leads the rest on a search party for Tara (who is looking for Holly, who is looking for...). Laura finds the same entrance to the cave that Tara did and they go inside, except for chicken student Curtis (Patrick Todd), who remains outside. We see plenty of P.O.V. shots of an ugly old miner (probably Packer) running through the mine's tunnels and killing Tara with an axe, followed by punching his fist through her chest. Curtis eventually enters the mine and arrives just in time to see Packer chowing-down on Tara's body. Laura locates Packer's living area inside the mine, which contains plenty of strange objects, including hanging bloody burlap bags full of human body parts and a large chest full of chunks of gold. Aaron finally finds the entrance to the mine and goes looking for everyone (I use to find pieces of teacher's assistants in my stool during my college days, because they were usually behind the students when it came to keeping up with the class and Aaron just proves me right). Curtis sees a rat next to a dismembered human finger and he is killed in a giant mouse trap, when he steps on the triggering device and is impaled on the spikes that spring down on him (All of these students seem a little light in the head). Packer has Laura gagged and chained with her arms outstretched, while he stands behind her and looks to be doing something very painful to her. Aaron hears Laura's screams, but Packer knocks him out with an axe handle. He wakes up on a locked room with Tara (but how is that possible?), while we watch Packer boil some flesh off of human bones. Aaron and Tara (Wasn't she just seen killed a few minutes ago?) walk through a gauntlet of human bodies and body parts and then see a young naked couple making love (WTF?!?) in a mine tunnel. Aaron and Tara see it and just walk away without giving the couple a warning. Seems there are a whole pack of dishelveled old followers of Packer and they go after the couple making love. After the girl is killed, the guy is chased through a tunnel and is run over by a huge round boulder (Hmm... I wonder where they got that idea?). We watch Packer pickaxe a young girl to death and then eat her foot. It seems the mine is some type of out-of-the-way tourist attraction that keeps Packer alive by supplying him with human bodies to eat, but some of these "tourists" are cannibals, too! Tara escapes the room that she, Aaron and the cannibal couple are in (no, none of this makes any sense!), while Packer kills a cannibal girl with a pickaxe. Tara is captured once again (After coming back to life. I mean, there's suspension of belief and then there's just plain stupidity.) and is about to be incinerated by being tied to a railway car heading for a tunnel of fire, but Aaron saves her ass (but not before thinking whether he could get away with a few bags of gold instead). Packer does such things as bang a drum and a gong and ring a large bell to alert all the other cannibals that there are intruders. As Aaron and Tara light a fuse to some dynamite, Aaron hears Holly's voice, but she is quite mad and almost kills the couple before they break free and the tunnels explode. Aaron and Tara get a lift on the back of a pickup truck (Why, did Aaron's SUV explode?) back to Los Angeles. The last shot shows Packer and his pickaxe looking at the city from a nearby mountain. It looks like Packer will have more than his share of human food.  This film is maddening to the extreme. Not only does director/co-producer/co-writer Kevin Rapp (REFLEX ACTION - 2002) get every single fact about Packer wrong, the continuity and supposed deaths are a complete mess. As a matter of fact, this film didn't have to be about Packer at all, but any cannibal (films are full of many of them, including Wes Craven's THE HILLS HAVE EYES [1977] and the WRONG TURN franchise [2003 - 2014]), so why make a film about Alferd Packer and fill it with outright lies? 80% of the film is nothing but shots of people running up and down the mine tunnels and, besides a few good makeup and gore effects, the film is boring as hell. The editing is worse than poor and full of inconsistencies (but in the editor's [co-writer/co-producer Mark Workman] defense, Rapp probably didn't give him enough to work with to make a coherent film). Considering that Kevin Rapp hasn't directed a film since this one seems to back up my claims. Do yourself a favor and just say no to this film. Eat your own arm instead. Also starring Evelyn Brewton, Fred Kerpsie, Cynthia Margol, Jeff Salsworth, Rita Branch, Tim Scanlon and Erica Rapp. A Troma Team Video DVD Release (which is fullscreen). Not Rated.

DIARY OF THE DEAD (2007) - This is director/screenwriter George A. Romero's fifth DEAD film (it follows LAND OF THE DEAD - 2005 and precedes SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD - 2009), but it doesn't follow the timeline of the previous four films. Instead, it reboots the story and starts from scratch, telling the tale of the living dead infecting the Earth through the lenses of cameras being used by film school student Jason Creed (Joshua Close) and his crew, who are making a low-budget mummy horror film on digital video when the real zombie outbreak begins. Pretty soon, Jason and his crew, including girlfriend Debra (Michelle Morgan), begin documenting the ensuing madness as they try to escape to safety in their RV. When their friend Mary (Tatiana Maslany) tries to commit suicide by shooting herself in the head, they drive her to the nearest hospital, only to find that it is overrun with zombies. As their numbers begin to dwindle, Jason, Debra and the remaining crew get back in the RV and have several close calls, first with a deaf Amish man (who supplies the only bit of humor in the entire film), then with a group of African American survivalists in the forest (Their leader tells the crew, "For the first time, we've got the power!"), then an unpleasant trip to Debra's family home (where Mom is chowing-down on Pop and her little brother attacks Debra before getting an arrow in the head) and, finally, a run-in with some nasty National Guardsmen. The crew finally settle-in at the isolated mansion of actor Ridley's (Phillip Riccio) rich parents. The mansion has security cameras in every room and Debra notices that Ridley is acting weird (Was the first clue that he's still in his mummy costume?). It turns out he's been bitten and turns into a zombie, shuffling around the mansion in his mummy costume, biting Jason and forcing Debra to finish Jason's film on her own and warn the world that in order for us to defeat the zombies, we first must learn to treat each other as "human" beings and not as disposable "product". Debra concludes the film by asking, "Are we worth saving? You tell me." as we watch footage of two hunters shooting tied-up zombies for kicks.  This is a low-budget, but highly effective horror film that, thankfully, doesn't induce the same "shakey-cam" queasiness or headache-inducing effect as THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) or CLOVERFIELD (2007) did, even if it uses the same "found footage" premise as those films. George Romero is much more crafty here, using a mixture of handheld cameras, including regular retail video cameras, professional digital video cameras and even camera phones, with fixed cameras, such as the mansion's security cameras, and even YouTube, to tell his tale. First and foremost, this is a horror film, but it is also a parable about modern society's need to catch everything on camera, as if to say, "If it's not documented on video, it can't be very important." We are a culture of video on demand (thanks to the internet) and our constant desire to view everything immediately or when it suits us comes with dire consequences. The character of Jason Creed represents that need. As his friends and colleagues fall victim to the zombie horde, not once does he put the camera down and offer help. Instead, he rolls tape, callously catching footage of his friends dying or shooting zombified friends in the head. He becomes an extension of the camera, as he inoculates himself from all human emotions, proving to be just as hungry as the zombies, except his hunger is for the "perfect shot". Only Debra seems to understand the gravity of the situation and DIARY OF THE DEAD is actually her document of the entire affair. She edits all of Jason's footage, along with TV news clips and other people's home video footage (including a child's birthday that turns nasty when the hired clown turns out to be a zombie), to form a cautionary tale warning any potential survivors in the world that the living may be more dangerous than the living dead. If this film has a fault, it's that Romero augments the practical gore effects with way too much CGI enhancement, which is a disappointment since Romero and practical effects use to go hand-in-hand. Too many of the gore effects (and there are many) have noticeable CGI help, including the deaf Amish guy's death by scythe and a lot of CGI blood, which gives the deaths a fake, plastic feel. Still I admire the new direction Romero has taken the series, offering an up-to-date revision of his ground breaking 1968 classic. Low in budget, but not low in imagination. Many genre directors, including Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino, put in voice cameos as TV newsreaders. Also starring Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Scott Wentworth, Chris Violette, Todd William Schroeder and Romero in a cameo as a police chief on a TV screen. A Dimension Extreme Home Entertainment Release. Rated R.

DR. BLACK MR. HYDE (1976) - Dr. Henry Pride (Bernie Casey; HIT MAN - 1972) is a noted researcher who is working on a serum that will regenerate dead liver cells, thereby curing deadly liver diseases (one which killed his mother). While treating prostitute Linda Monte (Marie O'Henry) on one of her weekly hospital visits (she has a minor liver disease), Dr. Pride is chastised by Linda for acting too "white" and she tells him to loosen up a little. Little do they both know that what she said will come all too true. When Dr. Pride injects one of his mice (a white one) with the newest version of his serum, it becomes agressive, bites Dr. Pride and then kills all the other rats (all black) in it's cage. After seeing the results of his latest experiment, Dr. Pride decides he needs a "human factor", so he injects a terminally ill elderly black woman in the hospital with his serum, turning her into a homicidal albino (!), who attacks a nurse and then dies. Dr. Pride's lab assistant/wannabe lover, Dr. Billie Worth (Rosalind Cash), makes a remark that maybe the old woman's heart was too weak, so, like all mad doctors, Dr. Pride injects himself with the serum, transforming him into a superhuman murderous honky (!), Mr. Hyde (his alter ego's name is never mentioned once in the film, though). Mr. Hyde hops into his Rolls Royce and goes looking for Linda, stopping long enough to beat the crap out of three black thugs who try to rob him. Linda has problems of her own, as her ex-pimp Silky (Stu Gilliam) tries to talk her into working for scumbag drug dealer Preston (Marc Alaimo). When Mr. Hyde finds Linda at her nightclub hangout, a huge fight breaks out and Mr. Hyde throws everyone (including Silky) around like ragdolls until Silky cuts him with a switchblade and a few minutes later he turns back into Dr. Pride (and no one recognizes him!). Dr. Pride brings Linda back to his house and tries to inject her with the serum but, when Dr. Pride injects himself with the serum (to prove it's harmless) and turns into Mr. Hyde, Linda runs away. Suddenly, there are a series of prostitute murders in the area and the cops assigned to the case, Lt. Jackson (the late Ji-Tu Cumbuka; MANDINGO - 1975) and Lt. O'Connor (Milt Kogan), try to find out who is behind the killings and put an end to the bloodshed. They get help from Linda, who tells the cops the whole story. At first they don't believe her, but Lt. Jackson decides to check it out. After interviewing Dr. Worth, Lt. Jackson becomes convinced that Linda is telling the truth. Dr. Pride is no longer able to separate himself from his alter ego, so he hunts down Linda and is killed in a hail of police gunfire.  This is one of the last horror blaxploitation flicks to get a theatrical release and, since it was directed by William Crain, who kick-started the genre with BLACULA (1972), this film is not without it's merits. It's not as well-made and acted as BLACULA (Ji-Tu Cumbuka is pretty mediocre here and star Bernie Casey looks to be sleepwalking through his role), but the screenplay (by Larry LeBron) has a lot of comical, as well as serious, touches. My favorite scene is when Mr. Hyde chases Silky down in his Rolls Royce and pins him against the wall. As Mr. Hyde puts his car into reverse for one more hit on the seriously-injured pimp, Silky pulls out his switchblade in defiance, as if a sliver of metal could stop a ton of charging steel. Even though I can sympathize with Dr. Pride's motivation for developing the serum (He delivers an impassioned speech about his mother's sad life to Linda while they are in his car.), I have to say that the way he goes about achieving those goals doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense. I can see his interest in Linda, since she suffers from liver disease, but why the hell would he inject himself when he's healthy as an ox? My favorite bit of dialogue comes when Lt. Jackson tells his partner that they are probably dealing with a "haint". Lt. O'Connor turns to him and says, "What the fuck is a haint?" Jackson replies, "That's a cross between the Abominable Snowman and Willie the Werewolf!" Although the film's not very bloody, it is violent and the scene where Mr. Hyde kills a police dog and tosses it's lifeless body in front of a shocked crowd of cops is very well done. The finale takes place on the world-famous Watts Towers in California and the film was later retitled THE WATTS MONSTER to capitalize on it. Bernie Casey's transformation into Mr. Hyde (makeup by Stan Winston) is quite simple: Just pancake makeup on his face and arms (with an undersized jacket on his torso, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows), a salt-and-pepper afro and white contact lenses. Not very convincing or frightening, but it is unintentionally funny. Rosalind Cash (DEATH SPA - 1988) is wasted in a thankless role. Still, DR. BLACK MR. HYDE is a fun little time capsule of an era in filmmaking where horror films were made for a black audience, but everyone could enjoy them. Not like the "urban action" films made today where you need subtitles to understand what is being said (Curse you, Snoop Dogg!). Also starring Elizabeth Robinson, Della Thomas, Sam Laws and Bob Minor (also the Stunt Coordinator). A VCI Home Video Release. Available on DVD from VCI Entertainment in a "35th Anniversary" edition. Rated R.

DR. HACKENSTEIN (1987) - After the surprise success of RE-ANIMATOR (1985), dozens of films appeared trying to emulate the mixture humor and gore of Stuart Gordon's film (including THE IMMORTALIZER - 1989), with 99.9% of them failing miserably This is one of those films, especially after I saw "Vista Street Presents" in the opening credits; a company not known for turning out quality entertainment. As a matter of fact, this company has failed to release anything remotely watchable. 1909: The Dawn Of Modern Medical Science: Dr. Elliot Hackenstein (David Muir; NEON MANIACS - 1985) is using his new serum and plenty of electricity on a dead baby piglet to try and bring it back to life (One of the few instances that the filmmakers got correct; the pig has the closest blood and respiratory systems to humans. Pig hearts are sometimes used for temporary transplants until a suitable human donor can be found.). He hopes it works because his beloved wife was in an accident and he was only able to save her head, which he keeps alive by having it hooked-up to electronic apparatus in his laboratory. He must find fresh pieces of the female anatomy to stitch his wife back together and use his serum on. Turns out his serum does work, as the bloody baby piglet does come back to life (a very cheap effect). After being shown various Pyrex glassware in different food-colored water and bubbling dry ice during the opening credits (an anachronism, because Pyrex [you can plainly see their logo] wasn't introduced until 1915) to show us how serious a scientist Elliot is, Dean Slesinger (Michael Ensign) is seen having dinner with Elliot and wants to know when he will move his experiments to the college for the students to see. It is a teaching college, after all (But aren't all colleges?). Elliot's mute and deaf servant, Yolanda (Catherine Cahn), holds up a series of cards asking Dean Slesinger if he wants cream or sugar in his coffee (This is as high as the humor goes, so just be prepared). Elliot tells the Dean that he has found a way to bring life back to the lifeless, but the Dean thought Elliot gave up on this three years ago, when his wife was killed in the accident. Elliot takes the Dean to his laboratoty, where he shows him the living dismembered head of his wife (Elliot's wife Sheila [Sylvia Lee Baker] was killed by the spinning blades of the Lusitania during her maiden yoyage in 1906 [which was true; the maiden voyage, not the head]) and how he plans on finding female body parts to reassemble her. The Dean is horrified (he was in the maiden voyage of the Lusitania and doesn't remember Elliot or Sheila being there or there ever being an accident), so he accuses Elliot of murdering his own wife with his new serum, to which Elliot replies, "Ridiculous! Things just got out of hand!" The Dean recommends that Elliot no longer comes to the college because as of now he has lost all teaching privileges. Elliot gives the Dean a fatal heart attack when he shows him some of his revived critters, as the head of Sheila moans, "Elliot, I have such a bad headache. Will you get me an aspirin?" (We're only 10 minutes into the film and already I can't wait for it to end.). Three young women and a  man, snooty rich sisters Leslie (Catherine Davis Cox) and Wendy (Denise DeRosario), brother Alex (John Alexis) and good girl niece Melanie Victor (Stacey Travis) are driving a car (This looks to be a late 1920's model), when they get into an accident near Elliot's home (I mean, what are the chances?) They drag Alex to Elliot's house because he has a broken leg. Elliot fixes up Alex's leg the best he can and invites them to spend the night, even though Leslie and Wendy bust Elliot's balls every chance they get. They are real bitches. Elliot is then paid a visit by the local graverobbers, the Rhodes (The late Logan and Anne Ramsey), who deliver Elliot a man's corpse. He tells them that he needs the fresh corpses of three young women, when it hits him that he has exactly that in his home right now. He pays off the Rhodes and begins to look at the three women in his home as body parts rather than women, while Alex watches his sisters and Melanie undress in their bedroom, but Wendy puts an end to it by jamming a lit cigarette through the door's keyhole and burns Alex in the eye. The threesome's snooty mother, Mrs. Trilling (Phyllis Diller), goes to Detective Olin (William Schreiner) about the disappearances of her three children and her niece, but this is the first the Detective or Officer Robbins (Jeff Rector) have heard about it. Mrs. Trilling wants her children found immediately, but says if they don't find her niece, it's no big deal. Meanwhile, Elliot is grabbing the girls one-by-one, beginning with Wendy, and saws off the parts he needs (He says to Wendy, "Please, I'm not going to kill you!), while Leslie sees her sister's body parts in a freezer. He begins to make his nude female Frankenstein monster (complete with panties!) while Detective Olin interrogates the captured Rhodes. They are quick to give up Elliot, so the Detective heads out to Elliot's house in his very slow car. Elliot invites Melanie Victor into his labotatory and she tells him her life story about being treated like dirt by an uncaring family. Elliot begins to actually fall in love with Melanie, but Alex acts like a third wheel, saying that Melanie loves him instead (Elliot was going to use Melanie's eyes to put in his wife's eye sockets) and Melanie runs out of the lab embarassed. Alex snoops around the house and discovers Elliot's journals on human re-animation. He also finds a pistol. Alex finds the Dean in a bedroom, where it turns out the Dean is not so dead, so Elliot keeps on investigating the mansion, while Elliot treats the Dean. Alex discovers Elliot treating the stitched-together corpse, so Elliot grabs him and gives him a tranquilizer shot. Detective Olin finally makes it to Elliot's house and Elliot asks Melanie to act as nurse to both Alex and the Dean (who was injected with the serum). Melanie eventually finds out the truth about Elliot and it takes forever for the Detective to park the car and walk to the house, but no one answers the door (Yolanda is deaf). Elliot changes his mind and tells Melanie he is going to use her eyes for his wife's corpse. Yolanda sees the stitched-together corpse (she had no idea what Elliot was doing) and finally answers the door, but since she has no cards to express what she has just seen, she has to do it in pantomime. Detective Olin hears Melanie scream, making all of Yolanda's hard pantomime work useless. Detective Olin shoots the locked door of the laboratory, but Elliot knocks him out with a blow to the head with a pipe. Elliot advances towards Melanie with a dagger, but finds himself unable to kill her (He screams out, "I am in Hell!"). Detective Olin gives Elliot a hypodermic shot and he falls on the dagger, but they all see the naked (but still wearing panties), eyeless Sheila rise from the operating table complaining about the body parts Elliot picked out for her. She turns out to be a bitch of the highest order (Is it any wonder that Elliot may have murdered her in the first place?). In the finale, both Leslie and Wendy are found alive, but the body parts he took have been replaced with hairy male body parts (He did say that he wasn't going to kill them.). Elliot (who was given a shot of the serum by Detective Olin) jumps off the house's top floor outside balcony and chases after an escaping Sheila. The film concludes with unfunny future lives of the film's characters, like Yolanda becoming a famous silent film star and Leslie and Wendy becoming circus freaks.  This SOV effort is simply terrible, except for the far too few special makeup effects from the KNB Effects Group and some nudity.The only really funny part of the film is how long it takes the Detective to travel from his station to Elliot's house. It would have taken less time if he walked, but the rest of the film, not surprisingly the only directorial and screenwriting effort by Richard Clark, is about as funny as watching a baby die while it's on fire. The print on the Troma DVD is in fullscreen (just like the Forum Home Video VHS tape that came before it) and, if you thought the film was unfunny, wait until you get a gander at a facially bandaged Lloyd Kaufman's opening (something he does on nearly every Troma DVD, just without the bandages) where he turns out to be a dickhead puppet (talk about truth in advertising!). If you look in the background, you will see a photo of Michael Jackson with the "N.A.M.B.L.A." logo below it, an O.J. Simpson photo with the word "GUILTY" below it or various video inserts of Troma interns, both male and female, full-frontal naked. It makes the film look like a masterpiece in comparison. This film was dedicated to Anne Ramsey, who passed away in 1988. Unfortunately, this was one of her very last films. There are no other actors to list in this film, because, like the budget, the acting staff was threadbare. A Troma Films DVD Release. Rated R.

DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1971) - English newlyweds Imre and Justine decide to spend their honeymoon in Imre's home town of Baliavasta, located in Transylvania. While visiting the gravesite of his parents, Imre is attacked and killed by three brothers robbing his car. Justine is nearly raped by the three when Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy) steps in, kills two of them and saves her. He brings Justine back to his castle and looks after her, along with an old witch who also lives there. The surviving brother vows revenge and brings two friends to the castle looking to rob Waldemar, then kill him. Too bad they decided to do this during a full moon. Waldemar turns into a werewolf and kills the two friends, but the surviving brother escapes again. Waldemar opens up to Justine about his affliction when she sees him turn into a werewolf from her bedroom window. The brother kills the witch woman (he cuts her head off and parades it around on a stick) and gets the townpeople to storm the castle. Justine and Waldemar escape and Justine brings him back to London. Justine goes to her good friend Dr. Henry Jekyll (Jack Taylor) and asks him to try to help Waldemar find a cure for his condition. Skeptical at first, Dr. Jekyll invites Waldemar to come to his office for tests. Waldemar gets accidentally stuck in an elevator on the way to Jekyll's office and turns into a werewolf, slaughters the nurse trapped in there with him and eventually escapes, beginning a reign of terror the newspapers are calling "Worse than Jack The Ripper". Dr. Jekyll uses an altered version of the serum his grandfather invented on Waldemar and turns him into Mr. Hyde who, with the help of Jekyll's jealous female assistant Sandra, escapes and begins his psychopathic urge to kill women, eventually turning his attention toward Justine. Can Waldemar fight off both his Mr. Hyde and werewolf personalities and find true love with Justine? You just know this will all turn out badly.  This is the sixth in the series of the exploits of Waldemar Daninsky and it is probably the tamest, until the final third, that is. Directed by Leon Klimovsky, who directed Naschy in WEREWOLF SHADOW (1970), one of the better Daninsky sagas, he keeps the nudity and most of the gruesomeness to a minimum until the final 30 minutes, when it really kicks into gear. Mr. Hyde's rape and eventual flogging of Justine certainly will wake you up if you were losing interest. Naschy chews up his role of Mr. Hyde, walking the streets of modern London in his overcoat, ascot, hat and cane (with hidden sword), picking up prostitutes and killing them. He even tosses one unlucky lad into the Thames for a final swim. This is probably the most dated of the Daninsky flicks as he invades a mod discoteque (complete with go-go dancers) as Mr. Hyde, changes back to Waldemar Daninsky and then promptly turns into a werewolf in front of all the disco patrons' frightened eyes. If this film has one problem, it's that the Mr. Hyde angle is never satisfactorily concluded. Once he changes from Mr. Hyde back to the werewolf, the Hyde story is dropped as Daninsky bites Justine and, just before she kicks off, she pumps a couple of silver bullets into his chest and they die side-by-side. The bloodletting is sparse, limited to a head being crushed with a rock, a couple of torn throats (with pieces of bloody meat hanging from Naschy's mouth), an off-screen beheading, a couple of stabbings and Justine's topless flogging. This is a minor chapter in the Daninsky saga, but it does have it's good moments, enough to keep you entertained for 90 minutes. As with all the Daninsky films, this was written by Naschy using his real name, Jacinto Molina. Also known as DR. JEKYLL VS. THE WEREWOLF. Also starring Shirley Corrigan, Mirtha Miller, Luis Induni, Barta Barry and Jose Marco. The version I viewed was the unedited international version, still sporting the Spanish title DR. JEKYLL Y EL HOMBRE LOBO. I picked it up on eBay a couple of years ago. Available on a widescreen double feature DVD from Code Red with the film THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY (1972). Not Rated.

DOGS (1976) - The 70's churned out plenty of "animals gone amok" films thanks to the success of JAWS (1975). Some were blatant rip-offs (GRIZZLY - 1976; CLAWS - 1977) and some were quite good (THE PACK - 1977; PIRANHA - 1977), but DOGS falls somewhere in the middle. Thanks to a top-secret government laboratory that's performing "high energy particle experiments", a small college town is experiencing rolling electrical blackouts and a series of unexplained mutilation deaths in both livestock and, eventually, people. Biologist Harlan Thompson (David McCallum; TV's NCIS) and hotshot new college professor Michael Fitzgerald (George Wyner; SPACEBALLS - 1987) try to figure out what is causing all these deaths, but it is obvious to the viewer early on that normally harmless domesticated dogs are responsible, as they seem to pack together at night with the singular purpose of ripping apart anything that crosses their path. What Harlan and Michael find so strange is that while the attacks are savage, none of the corpses seem to have been eaten, like the animals are killing not from hunger, but for the sake of killing. It's not long before our two heroes trace the cause of the attacks to the government facility and their extremely huge particle accelerator experiments, but they have a hard time convincing the powers-that-be of their concerns. That all changes when the canines at a local dog show break their leashes and attack their masters, but instead of listening to Harlan's advice of going home and locking their doors, some of the macho men form a hunting party, which leads to a mass dog attack where all those involved are savagely mauled to death. The dogs take over the town, attacking and slaughtering everyone they come in contact with. The dogs then turn their attention to the college campus, trapping all the students and faculty at the campus library, which leads to the deaths of nearly every person trapped there. Harlan and his girlfriend, Caroline (Sandra McCabe), flee the town and see nothing but death in their wake (including Michael's chewed-up body). The closing shot shows that's it's not just Fido that is now infected (Meow!).  DOGS (also known as SLAUGHTER) plays like a TV movie with lots of blood and foul language. Director Burt Brinckerhoff is better known for directing numerous TV movies (BRAVE NEW WORLD - 1980) and episodes of TV series throughout the 70's, 80's & 90's, so it should come as no surprise that this has the look and feel of a 70's Movie of the Week (As far as I can discern, Brinckerhoff has only one other non-TV credit in his extensive career, 1978's ACAPULCO GOLD). Like the similarly themed THE PACK, domesticated dogs turn nasty, and in order to pull it off on-screen, you have to make normally harmless-looking dogs seem deadly. While it may be easy to make Dobermans, German Shepherds and other larger canines look threatening, the trick is to make poodles, Jack terriers and other smaller dogs look the same way. That's where DOGS falls short. It's hard to take some of the attack scenes here seriously, especially when the little nippers are wagging their tails and look as happy as when they lick peanut butter off their trainer's private parts. Brinckerhoff doesn't hold back on the blood and shows the effects of the dog attacks in great detail (the attack on the campus library is very bloody), not to mention the scene of Michael accidentally shooting and killing a man when he is trying to shoot a dog, but most of the film is flat and bland. David McCallum sleepwalks through his role and Sandra McCabe is extremely bad in her debut film performance (She is one of the worst screamers in film history and had a very short acting career). I did like how excellent, unsung character actor George Wyner, who usually has small roles on TV and in films, is given the chance to shine here in one of his biggest film roles. He's the best thing about this film. Future DALLAS [1978 - 1991] star Linda Gray has a small role as cocktease Miss Engle, who is attacked by dogs while taking a shower. She also supplies the film's only brief shot of nudity. Other 70's animals attack films include DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1976), THE BEASTS ARE ON THE STREETS (1978), MANEATERS ARE LOOSE (1978) and NIGHTWING (1979). Also starring Eric Server, Sterling Swanson, Holly Harris, Lance Hool, Barry Greenberg, Dean Santoro, Cathy Austin and Jim Stathis. The version on VHS from Genesis Home Video (under the title SLAUGHTER) is to be avoided at all costs. It's muddy and unwatchable. The budget fullscreen DVD release from Trinity Home Entertainment is a much better, if not perfect, choice. Even better is the DVD offered by Scorpion Entertainment in it original aspect ratio. It's really the only way to watch this film now and contains extras like interviews with the cast and crew and extensive liner notes by author Lee Gambin. Rated R.

DOGS OF HELL (1982) - This is regional producer/star Earl Owensby's stab at the 3-D revival craze of the early 80's and, since it's his most violent and bloody film, it's also one of his best (in the realm of low-budget moviemaking, that's still not saying much). The government uses a commercial big rig to transport a pack of genetically altered rottweilers (bred to be the military's newest weapon) to a military laboratory in Fort Bragg. The truck crashes not too far from the summer resort town of Lake Lure in North Carolina, spilling it's cargo, setting the killer canines free to roam the countryside. The dogs attack and kill a group of models and a photographer camped out on a photo shoot. Lake Lure's sheriff, Hank Willis (Owensby), biggest problems used to be breaking up fights at the local bar's female mud wrestling contests or fining people for fishing without a license, but when local residents start turning up savagely torn to pieces, Sheriff Willis at first thinks he's dealing with a rogue cougar or a "knife-weilding psycho with sharp teeth" (um, what?). Compounding his problems are the government, who are being led on a wild goose chase by the head scientist in charge of the project, Dr. Fletcher (Bill Gribble), who wants to save his dogs and Sheriff Willis' rebellous son Ben (Mike Craig), who has been ignoring his father's commands as of late. Dr. Fletcher comes to town and offers his assistance to the sheriff, saying he never intended the dogs to be used as weapons. He has a device that makes the dogs docile and wants to capture the dogs alive, even if it means a few innocent people die in the process. Sheriff Willis forms a hunting party and head to a religious retreat that the local reverend is holding in the woods. They are able to kill one of the dogs, but not before they sink their teeth into a few people. When the dogs finally reach town and kill one of Sheriff Willis' closest friends (he responds by shooting the jaw off of one dog with a revolver that would make Dirty Harry proud), he gathers all the locals and tourists in the hunting lodge for a last stand against the dogs. He must also contend with the dastardly Dr. Fletcher, a raging fire in the lodge and his son, who is trapped in the attic with other people and the dogs close behind.  Owensby proves once again that he's a better producer than an actor. When he opens his mouth, the words don't matter, because his delivery is always the same: A monotone reading so wooden, you'll swear cedar chips fall out of his mouth every time he opens it. Owensby, who prided himself in making wholesome family films, definitely didn't follow that rule here, as the blood flows rather freely and the gore is graphic (but quick). People are torn apart, there's gaping wounds that spurt blood and when the dogs are shot, they don't just bleed, they explode. Many of the 3-D effects are incidental rather than integral to the plot (except in the finale) and consist of a pointer and darts thrust or thrown directly at the camera, some forced perspective shots and people and dogs crashing through windows. The dog attacks are handled pretty well, as the rottweilers actually look threatening and the aftermath is pretty gruesome. Owensby, who got his start with CHALLENGE (1973) and appeared in nearly all his productions, fancies himself a low-budget John Wayne and even quotes one of the Duke's most famous lines when he decks a drunk at the mud wrestling match. Director Worth Keeter worked steadily on many of Owensby's films, including directing him in the only other Owensby horror film, WOLFMAN (1979).  Even though very few of Owensby's films ever played theatrically above the Bible Belt, they were popular enough to make Owensby millions (estimates say he made about $70 million!) and home video opened up a whole new fan base for him. DOGS OF HELL (a.k.a. ROTTWEILER) is one of his best, although I'm still stymied why one of the characters says, "Whitefish and golf don't mix." Also starring Robert Bloodworth, Kathy Hasty, Ed Lilliard, Donna O'Neal, Ashley Blythe and Brownlee Davis. A Media Home Entertainment Release. Also available on budget VHS from Video Treasures. Rated R.

DOLLY DEAREST (1991) - Eliot Read (Sam Bottoms) moves his family from Los Angeles to Mexico to start production on a line of dolls he hopes will make him rich (NAFTA raises its ugly head again). His assembly plant is located next to a Mayan escavation site where a week before a man was killed opening a tomb, unleashing an evil spirit. That spirit occupies the body of Dolly, a life-like doll that Eliot gives to his daughter Jessica (Candy Hutson) when they tour the plant. Soon Jessica begin to act strange. She has an aversion to crucifixes and religious people, talks back to her mother Marilyn (Denise Crosby) and spends a lot of time conversing with Dolly in the backyard dollhouse. Jessica's suspicious brother Jimmy (Chris Demetral) teams up with an archaeologist (Rip Torn) to explore the opened tomb. They discover that it is the tomb of the Devil Child, leader of a group of ancient Satan worshippers known as the Sanzia. Marilyn also joins forces with the archaeologist when she realizes that her daughter is becoming possessed by the Sanzia (Jessica threatens to kill her mother if she takes Dolly away from her). Satan plans on making Jessica the new Devil Child. It's a race against time as Marilyn and Jimmy try to separate Jessica from Dolly, while Eliot has to contend with a factory full of Dollys come to life. The comparisons between this film and CHILD'S PLAY (1988) are so obvious that nothing else needs to be said on the matter. The flick's main distinction is that it has a woman director (Maria Lease), a rare commodity in the horror film business (Mary Lambert's PET SEMATARY [1989; also starring Denise Crosby], Marina Sargento's MIRROR, MIRROR [1990] and Hope Perello's HOWLING VI: THE FREAKS [1991] are other examples). DOLLY DEAREST was produced by Daniel Cady, who also produced 1972's GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE and GARDEN OF THE DEAD. Lee Frost (PRIVATE OBSESSION - 1995) was the production supervisor. While too derivitive to be original, DOLLY DEAREST is nonetheless worth a look if nothing better can be found of the shelves. Rip Torn is one of the few actors that can appear in video fodder like this and still remain respectable enough to appear in A-list films. A Vidmark Entertainment Release. Rated R.

DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE (1979) - Donny Kohler (Dan Grimaldi) is fascinated by fire. So much so that he watches as co-worker Ben (Charles Bonet; DEATH PROMISE - 1977) is set aflame when an aerosol can explodes in an incinerator he is stoking. Donny just watches, spellbound, as Ben burns from head to toe until their boss, Vito (Bill Ricci), throws a blanket on Ben to put out the flames. Vito has a few choice words for Donny ("Crazy" is one of those words and it's apt), but Donny is able to keep his job. Donny drives home to take care of his sick mother (Ruth Dardick), only to find her dead in the living room of a heart attack. We then learn why Donny has a compulsion for fire. When he was a child and did anything wrong, his mother would put his arms over the lit stove and burn the "evil" out of him (Mom considers him evil because she got pregnant from a man who did not bother to stick around). Mother may be dead, but she isn't in Donny's mind. In true PSYCHO (1960) fashion, she haunts him, both in body and in words. Still, Donny prefers to celebrate, first by playing his record albums loud (mother would never allow this) and then by covering a room in the house from floor to ceiling in sheet metal. But Why? Since everyone who loves horror films already knows the answer, let me just say that Donny has a fiery personality that will eventually be the death of him.
     Donny drives to a flower shop at closing time under the guise that he is picking up a bouquet for his sick mother . At first the florist, Kathy Jordan (Johanna Brushay), does not want to let him in because it is after closing time, but Donny is persistent, so she relents and lets him in ($4.50 for a bouquet of flowers? Only in the late-'70s folks!). When Kathy misses her bus home, Donny offers her a ride in his beat up pickup truck, but only if he can stop at home first. Kathy agrees and he manages to talk her in to coming inside the house to meet his mother (like I said, he is persistent!). Once inside the house, Kathy gets a bad feeling and Donny knocks her out before she has a chance to leave. She wakes up totally nude (We see everything. I don't remember seeing the full monty when I saw this film in a theater.), hanging by her hands in the middle of the metal-encased room. Enter Donny in an asbestos fireproof suit holding a flame-thrower. He pours gasoline over Kathy's nude body, fires-up the flame-thrower and burns the poor girl to death, her screams bringing a smile to Donny's face. We know that this pleases Donny because he does it two more times (offscreen), first to a woman whose car has broken down and then to a woman he picks up in a supermarket. He burns them beyond recognition, dresses them in his mother's clothes and poses them in another room upstairs, where he begins to talk to them, telling the burned corpses about how he was punished for being evil by his mother and how all women are no good (He imagines one of the women laughing at him, so he slaps the corpse about the face).
     Donny has a bigger problem: He thinks his mother is still alive and taunting him. He is suffering from a guilty conscience (He has a nightmare where all of his victims drag him into a mass grave), so he goes to Church (Catholic guilt at its finest!). Donny asks Father Gerritty (Ralph D. Bowman) if he believes in the Devil and evil and the good Father answers back that he believes that evil walks the Earth, but he doesn't believe in the typical devil, with horns and a trident. Donny doesn't like the answer he gets, so he shows Father Gerrity the burn scars on his arms and explains that his mother did it to him when he was a child (and possibly when he was an adult), saying she was burning the "evil" out of him. Just like most religions, Father Gerritty tells Donny that he must forgive his mother (Could you? I sure as hell couldn't!). Donny goes home, holds his mother's burned hands (Yes, he toasted his mother's dead body, too!) and forgives her. The thing is, Mother doesn't forgive Donny and she taunts him relentlessly.
     Donny calls his only friend, married co-worker Bobby Tuttle (Robert Osth, real name: Robert Carnegie; MOTHER'S DAY - 1980) and asks him if he wants to go to the movies (Donny is trying to bring some normalcy back into his life). Bobby talks Donny into meeting him at a disco that night because he has two hot girls ready to party (Did I mention that Bobby was married with children?). Donny reluctantly agrees and goes to a department store to pick up some new clothes (the obviously gay clerk talks him into buying the most expensive disco suit). Donny arrives at the disco and Bobby sets him up with one of the girls, Karen (Kim Roberts). When Karen pulls at his hands to get Donny on the dance floor, his arms are over a lit candle on the table (Uh-oh!!!). Danny has a flashback of his mother putting his arms over the lit stove, so he picks up the candle and smashes it over Karen's head, setting her hair on fire. Donny makes a hasty retreat out of the disco, only to get beaten up by Karen's brother ("You scarred her for life!"). Donny escapes to his truck and turns a bad situation to his advantage, as he picks up two drunk girls and brings them home (He explains to the girls that his face is bloody because he just got jumped, but since he was a Marine and a Green Beret, he beat them up instead. When one of the girls says "I thought the Green Beret was the Army, not the Marines", Donny replies, "Well, it was a secret division of the Marines!").
     Meanwhile, Bobby goes to Father Gerritty and tells him what Donny just did. They hop into Bobby's station wagon and head for Donny's house. They rescue the two girls just before they become burgers, but Father Gerrity is on the receiving end of the flame-thrower and he runs out of the house on fire, where Bobby puts out the flames with his jacket (He going to have to do a lot of explaining to his wife!). Donny then imagines that all of his victims are walking towards him saying, "We hate you. We always hated you. We won't forgive you!", so he sprays them with some flame-thrower action, setting the room on fire. As Donny tries to escape the room, Mother is at the door and drags him to his death in the flames. The film ends with a young boy named Michael (Christian Isidore) watching television (where a news reporter talks about Donny's death and the house burning down), while his mother screams at him to clean up his room. When Michael doesn't listen to her, she slaps him repeatedly across his face. The look on Michael's face tells us another Donny has been created.
     The OAR Blu-Ray from Scorpion Releasing is nine minutes longer (clocking in at 91 minutes vs. the 82 minute theatrical R-Rated version released by Edward L. Montoro's Film Ventures International) than any other previous version (The title on the print is THE BURNING, but the disc also has an alternate title card available of the title we are all familiar with). While the print is generally crisp (only one instance of emulsion scratches that I saw), it has an annoying clicking sound in the film's quieter scenes, but it is no deal-breaker since there aren't many quiet scenes in the film. One has to wonder if William Lustig saw this film before he made the gory MANIAC (1980), since both films are extremely similar. Both protagonists keep the dead corpses of their victims and they come to life at the end which results in their deaths. Also on the Blu-Ray is a recent interview with Dan Grimaldi (he is best known for playing "Patsy Parisi" on THE SOPRANOS from 2000 to 2007, is a regular guest on many TV series and also appeared in two films by the late H.B. Halicki: THE JUNKMAN [1982] and DEADLINE AUTO THEFT [1983]). This was Grimaldi's feature film debut and he brings up an interesting point about the film: If Donny's mother's movements since she was dead are all in Donny's head, why is it that Donny doesn't see his mother when he walks right past her and the audience does? It's a valid point that should be investigated furthur (but not by me). Director Joseph Ellison, whose only other directorial effort was the musical drama JOEY (1986), imbues this film with a lot of thought-provoking scenes. It has a lot to say about child abuse and what such abuse can create, but the screenplay, by Ellison, Ellen Hammill (who has an uncredited cameo as Bobby's wife) & Joseph R. Masefield (a Sound Editor on THE EVIL DEAD [1981] and ALONE IN THE DARK [1982]), leaves no doubt in the viewer's mind that this is first and foremost a horror film. But whomever said that a horror film could not leave you asking some valid questions long after the film is over? Some of the best horror films are ones with a message and I consider DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE a minor classic of the genre. While there are a couple of stunt fire gags in the film, the metal room burnings are done with overlays, but they are very well done. This is one horror film where you don't have to leave your mind at the door. The house where Donny lived was a real house known as the "Strauss Mansion". There a documentary on the Blu-Ray that shows the house as it stands today, a museum rescued from destruction by the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society in New Jersey. A tour through the house (which was a low-income apartment house when this film was made) shows that much of the house hasn't changed in 37 years. Also starring Darcy Shean, Jim Donnegan (as the gay department store clerk), Commander Johnny G. (as the disco's D.J.), David Brody and  Eileen Dunn as Michael's abusive mother. Simon Nuctern (director of the added ending footage of SNUFF [1976] and of the better-than-average slasher film SILENT MADNESS [1984]) gets a "Special Thanks" in the closing credits. Originally available on VHS by Media Home Entertainment and then on Budget VHS (recorded in the EP Mode) by Video Treasures. This once was available on fullscreen DVD by budget label Digital Versatile Disc, all in the R-Rated cut. The Blu-Ray is now the preferred version, since it is 1080p High-Definition Widescreen and is Unrated.

DON'T GO IN THE WOODS (1981) - Thanks to the success of DELIVERANCE (1972), a new genre of horror film was born: Terror In The Woods. The 70's & 80's were full of them, some excellent (RITUALS - 1977; JUST BEFORE DAWN - 1980; HUNTER'S BLOOD - 1987), some mediocre (GOD'S BLOODY ACRE - 1975; THE FINAL TERROR - 1981) and other downright horrible. This is one of those films. In fact, it may be the stupidest (you'll be reading that word in several forms a lot during this review) horror films ever made. And for that reason alone. everyone must at least see it once. Really, you must. The first two-thirds of this 82-minute film is mostly a showcase for showing how a killer in the woods can murder people in various bloody ways (in this film's defense, the body count is very high for this genre) while intercutting footage of the four stupidest people on Earth: hikers Peter (Jack McClelland), Ingrid (Mary Gail Artz; now a successful Casting Director), Craig (James P. Hayden) and Joanie (Angie Brown; they list her name as "Joanne" in the credits, but call her "Joanie" in the film) as they traverse the woods for God knows what reason. The film opens with a woman running through a stream from some unknown killer, who finally gets her, as we see the water turn blood red.  We then see a bird watcher getting hit in the cheek by a rock thrown with a sling (the rock just doesn't hit his cheek, it goes through it) and then getting his arm cut off, blood spurting everywhere. We then switch to our stupid four hikers, where the bossy Craig tells the other three the do's & don't's of hiking in the woods (even managing to mention the film's title). Cut to a middle-aged couple in the woods, who get split-up from each other. The man is throttled by the unseen killer and thrown off a waterfall, landing on the rocks below (oblivious to two teenagers frolicking in the water). The woman is shown crawling on the ground, bleeding profusely, and then being dragged away by our killer. The Sheriff (Ken Carter) and Deputy Benson (David Barth) get a report of a missing person in the woods (they believe it is a bear attack without even thinking that the person could actually be lost!), so they go to the local store owner (Larry Roupe) to see if they can get a description of the missing person. After the Sheriff gets a description, he has to drag Deputy Benson away from a pinball machine (My God, but it gets much, much stupider!). The Sheriff begins driving the back roads of the woods to see if he can spot the missing person and barely misses hitting a young girl in short shorts who is rollerskating on the rocky road (What the Fuck?!?). We then switch back to our hiking foursome, where Craig tells the worst horror campfire story I have ever heard and the other three groan (and rightfully so). Back to more killing, as we see Dick and Cherry making out in a van (Dick has a poster of Farrah Fawcett on the ceiling), when Cherry stops and says she sees someone outside. Dick grabs his pistol and goes outside to investigate (He yells out, "Show yourself, you pencil-necked geek!") and Dick is murdered. Cherry hears his screams and locks all the doors in the van, only to have the killer bash Dick's bloody face over-and over on one of the van's windows. The killer then overturns the van until it rolls down an embankment and bursts into flames, burning Cherry alive. Back to our foursome, where Peter wakes everyone up after having a bad nightmare and they continue on with their hike (after the three play a stupid practical joke on Joanie that could have killed her). Cut back to the Sheriff, as he takes a plane to fly above the woods to see if he can spot the missing person. He then abruptly tells the pilot to head back to the airport because he thinks he'll give the person one more day to show up. (What the Fuck?!?). The pilot says, "It's your nickel!" We then view a female landscape painter in mirrored aviator sunglasses (the iconic image on most of the film's advertising materials), who has her baby daughter in a bouncy harness a good thirty yards away (Is she stupid or what?). She is stabbed repeatedly by the killer as she faces her painting and we see her entrails hanging through a hole in the back of her canvas. Her young baby daughter's bouncy harness is now empty. We then switch back to our four hikers, where Peter stupidly decides to head out on his own, but becomes scared when he thinks someone is chasing him and heads back to his group. Turns out what was "chasing him" was just another hiker (Who calmly says, "Sorry if I frightened you." after he passes our stupid foursome). Peter cannot take the other three relentlessly making fun of him, so when they make camp, Peter once again stupidly decides to go out by himself and make his own camp (Peter really is a mental midget). Now we go to two campers in sleeping bags, who are our next victims. The female is trapped in her sleeping blanket and hung from a tree and is bashed to death until blood flows out of the bottom of the sleeping bag. The male victim is stabbed in his throat while hiding in his sleeping bag and his blood gushes freely. Back to our hikers. The threesome wonder if something has happened to Peter (who is about a mile away scared shitless, yelling into the darkness that he has a shotgun!) and Craig says that if he isn't back by 10:00 am (Why 10:00 am? Wouldn't as soon as day breaks have been better?), they will go looking for him. Peter spies on three people splashing each other in a pond and then sees a fisherman (played by the film's cameraman, Hank Zinman) take a bear trap to the face and then stabbed by the killer, who we see for the first time. He looks like a tall grizzled Mountain Man (played by Tom Drury) dressed in animal skins (and a weird beaded object criss-crossing his face) who carries a homemade bladed weapon (which is also covered in animal fur). Peter is once again scared shitless (this time for real) and runs for his life, with the Mountain Man not far behind. Joanie plays a painful practical joke on Craig, so Craig reciprocates and traps Joanie in her sleeping bag and hangs her from a tree, saying, "Now I've got you, bitch! Let's hear you say uncle! Say uncle! Say it, bag of bitch! Say it! Say it, bag of bitch! Say it! Say uncle!" (Seriously, are these people stupid or what?). Joanie looks through a hole in the sleeping bag and watches as the Mountain Man stabs Craig several times and then cuts off his arm with his furry weapon. Joanie escapes from the sleeping bag and runs for her life, while Ingrid hears Craig's screams and heads for the campsite. After seeing all the blood, Ingrid runs away and meets Peter (he informs her what is going on). They find a cabin in the woods and (stupidly) go inside, where it reeks of death. Peter sets off a booby trap which reveals Craig's bloody corpse wrapped in plastic (All Ingrid can do is put her hands over her eyes and yell out "No! No! No!" over and over again.). They quickly exit the cabin and run for their lives. A hiker (the one who scared the shit out of Peter earlier in the film) finds the Mountain Man's jingly walking stick and Peter stabs him in the stomach with a sharpened branch (Peter doesn't carry a knife, so how did he sharpen a big branch so quickly?) when he mistakes him for the killer. The Mountain Man finishes him off with a well-placed flying spear and wounds Ingrid in the arm and head with two glancing spears, but Ingrid and Peter manage to escape, while the Mountain Man jumps up and down, cackling like a caveman. Peter patches Ingrid up and assures her that they will make it back to civilization, which they do (The Sheriff stupidly says, "I should have went in there earlier." when Deputy Benson tells him about Peter and Ingrid's ordeal.). Peter still worries about Joanie and stupidly heads back into the woods alone without any weapons (I mean, really, was Peter born without a brain?). Joanie finds the cabin and, yes, you guessed it, she goes inside, where she is sliced to death over and over with a machete, in one of the film's bloodiest highlights. We then switch to a guy in a wheelchair who repeatedly tries to make it up a mountain trail (A guy in a wheelchair? What the Fuck?!?), but gravity always gets the best of him (either rolling downhill or falling out of his chair). He's no quitter, though, and keeps on trying.The Sheriff and Deputy Benson are unable to get a helicopter (probably due to this film's low budget), so they and a search party head out by foot (When Deputy Benson learns that Peter is out there he says, "You mean we have to deal with a mental case, too?"). The Sheriff heads out alone to the cabin and discovers Joanie's sliced-up corpse. He is soon joined by Deputy Benson and they carry Joanie's body to the recovery area, where five other bodies have already been found. Peter watches from the bushes as they carry Joanie's body. Now he's pissed! In the stupidest part of this whole stupid movie, Ingrid's doctor brings her to the recovery area, thinking Ingrid may be able to talk Peter into turning himself in (Jesus Christ, this is getting ridiculous!). In case you were wondering what happened to the wheelchair guy, he finally makes it to the top of the trail, only to be instantly beheaded, his headless corpse and wheelchair tumbling down the mountain. Surprises of all stupidest surprises, Ingrid sneaks out of the recovery area and heads out into the woods armed with a machete. In the finale (Finally!), Peter and Ingrid reunite and kill the Mountain Man with repeated spear and machete impalements (Deputy Benson calmly says, "Cute couple."). But one thing has been left unanswered until now: What happened to the artist's baby girl? When we see her at the end, she is alone in the woods holding an ax (and looks to have aged a couple of years in a couple of days!). Will she be the next killer in the woods?  It comes as no surprise that this film was directed by James Bryan (LADY STREET FIGHTER - 1978; EXECUTIONER PART II - 1982; HELL RIDERS - 1984, who also directed porn films using the name "Morris Deal"), who has never made a good film (although I am a fan of his 1970 sexploitationer THE DIRTIEST GAME IN THE WORLD), but at least the blood and high body count will help you get through this stupidly scripted film, which comes as no surprise (again) was written by one-timer Garth Eliassen (who also cameos as a cop by the lake). The simplistic score was composed by H. Kingsley Thurber (FROZEN SCREAM - 1981), who also composed and sings the stupid song that plays over the end credits (He did it as as joke, but Bryan put it in the film anyway). The entire film was dubbed after being shot and it is very obvious because some of the voices don't match the lip movements. It's hard to believe that actor Vincent D'Onofrio would direct a semi-remake of this film in 2009 as a hipster musical (it is as equally terrible as this film). Like I said in the beginning of this long review, everyone must see this film at least once, if only to see the word "stupid" come to life. Byran has gone on record saying that he purposely made the movie cheesy, but judging from his other films, I find that a highly dubious claim. Also starring Laura Trefts, Gerry Klein, Carolyn Braza as Cherry and Frank Millen as Dick (who was dubbed by Bryan when he wasn't available after the film was shot). Originally released on VHS by Vestron Video with a budget VHS to follow by Video Treasures. Code Red then released it on a director-supervised fullscreen DVD and then in widescreen as part of a double feature DVD, with THE FOREST (1981). Both DVDs are long OOP and demand big bucks. The Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, by Vinegar Syndrome, is long on extras (some of the extras were ported over from the Code Red fullscreen DVD), but the print is simply terrible. It is full of emulsion scratches, dirt specks, jumping frames and shows reddish color around the edges, like it was taken from a print that was actually turning vinegar (and it wasn't done on purpose if that is what you were thinking). The Code Red DVDs are the preferred methods of watching this film, but they don't have the plentiful extras that the Vinegar Syndrome version does, so you can pick your own poison. Rated R.

DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT 2 (2014) - Over 40 years after the original 1973 sleaze classic, director S.F. Brownrigg's son Anthony Brownrigg (director/star of RED VICTORIA - 2008 and an actor in films like THEY FEED - 2005) thought that, after 41 years, it was a time for him to direct and co-write a sequel, so he went on the internet to beg for money on crowd-funding site Indie Go Go to make this movie. This is the result. Let's just say that Anthony didn't inherit his late dad's genes for making sleaze-filled mini-masterpieces, like KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN (1973), POOR WHITE TRASH PART II (1974) and DON'T OPEN THE DOOR! (1975). When the film opens, we are introduced to Dr. William Matthews (Andrew Sensening), a new psychiatrist at Green Park Sanitarium, who is from the "big city". Sanitarium director Emily (Camilla Carr, who played "Harriet" in the original film; she was a stock player in many of S.F. Brownrigg's films) tells Dr. Matthews that he will be in charge of a patient that is arriving tomorrow and to get Room #4 ready for his arrival. She hands Dr. Matthews the new patient's file and later on he reads the file and says, "Great. My first chance to impress the boss and it's a lobotomized patient with no brain!" We also find out that Dr. Matthews left New York due to the mysterious death of his wife (He tells Emily the details, as sad music plays on the soundtrack). The next day, the new patient arrives. It is Sam (Willie Minor Jr., played in the original film by the late William Bill McGhee), who arrives to the sanitarium in a wheelchair, but instinctively gets up and walks to Room #4 (Clue alert!). Dr Matthews greets him in his room and the 74 year-old Sam asks, "Where is Dr. Stephens?" Dr. Matthews informs Sam that Dr. Stephens died a long time ago (he got an axe in the back in the original film) and asks Sam what he likes to do. "I like to draw boats." is Sam's reply. (no lust for popsicles like in the original film, although it is mentioned). We are then intriduced to some of the patients at the sanitorium, straight out of Stereotypes 101. There's the elderly Milly (Lilly Hall), who has twitchy eyes, so Dr. Mark Westmore (Earl Browning III) sticks a hypodermic needle in her right eye (shown lovingly in close-up) and then hallucinates that the room is being riddled with machine gun fire (Dr. Westmore is put in another locked room, Emily saying that he is over-stressed). Another patient is Karl (Gordon K. Smith), who repeats everything that everyone says. Also on-board is Clive (Brady McInnes), who always wants a cigarette, so Dr. Lance White (Frank Mosley) continually shoves cigarettes in his mouth, saying "You want cigarettes? Here are your cigarettes!" and gives him the option of smoking or eating lunch (Clive picks lunch). The Stephens Sanitarium is mentioned a few times, which interests Dr. Matthews, so one night he goes on the internet and searches for it, coming up with no hits. He searches Sam's name and comes up with more than a million hits (too much for him to look for). Then his phone rings and it is a drunk Dr. Lucy Mills (Arianne Margot), who hits on Dr. Matthews and reveals that she is drunk on scotch. Then Dr. Matthews loses internet access (Another clue!). The next morning Dr. Mills has no recollection of calling Dr. Matthews (Dr. White says she called him, too), saying that she hates scotch. It doesn't take a crazy person to realize that the insane are running the asylum and when Dr. Matthews realizes that Green Park is actually a renamed Stephens Sanitarium, he grows suspicious of everyone (Like how Dr. White is visiting Sam behind his back). The inmates start murdering the staff, such as patient Roman (Chester Rushing) pulling hard on Nurse Sophie's (Kim Foster) tongue and stabbing her in the stomach (the last time we see Nurse Sophie is when her corpse is shown with her tongue hanging out of her mouth!). Emily believes that Sam's presence is the cause of the violence. She confesses to Dr. Matthews that she killed Dr. Stephens and that she is actually Miss Charlotte (played by Rosie Holotick in the original film) and then cuts her own throat in front of him!. Nurse Jennifer (co-screenwriter and Associate producer Megan Emerick) comes up with the idea of injecting all the violent patients with Thorazine to sedate them and calm them down, but she only has enough for twelve injections. She hands out two needles full of the sedative to Dr. Matthews, Dr. White and orderlies Bishop (Scott Tepperman) and Billy (Jim O'Rear) and they go about sedating the patients. Bishop and Billy discover a female patient in a closet feasting on Emily's intestines, so they lock the closet door rather than taking the chance of injecting her (Bishop and Billy are not crazy and are in this film for "comedy" relief). In the film's finale, the staff begin murdering the patients, especially Dr. White, who we find out was a good friend of Dr. Stephens (he doesn't even look 41 years old!) and was Sam's doctor when he was committed to a State asylum after the massacre in the original film. Dr. White is now down in the basement with a gagged and tied-up Dr. Lucy Mills and he injects Dr. Matthews with half a dose of the sedative so he can watch him stab Dr. Mills to death (shown off-screen). Sam shows up and stabs Dr. White to death. The film ends with Dr. Matthews and Sam sitting by a lake, while a smiling Sam pilots a remote-control toy boat. We also find out the fates of Bishop, Billy and Nurse Jennifer, none of who were crazy. A happy ending for all the "normal" people. Although professionally made, DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT 2 is rather tame when compared to the original film, Besides the intestine eating, the tongue pulling, throat slashing and the needle in the eye, this film is restrained when showing bloody violence (and when we do see gore, it is just quick glimpses). It is also missing the sleaze factor, which is what made the original film so memorable. The surprises are telegraphed way ahead of the reveals, so if you are looking for a good mystery mixed in with your horror, look somewhere else. There are some blurry black & white flashbacks that contain snippets of the original film (it is in the public domain) and the acting by the cast is pretty good, but, all in all, this film is just a pimple on the original movie's ass. The closing credits end with "for dad". I'm not sure if he would approve. The screenplay is a mess, as people can't determine when the massacre at the Stephens Sanitarium occurred. They mention two dates: 1972 and 1973. You would think Anthony Brownrigg would know the exact date. Also starring Carolyn King, Joseph Spector and Cathrine Hatcher. Competently made, but boring as hell. This didn't get a disc release until 2017, when BrinkVision picked it up for a Blu-Ray release as a double feature film where the original film is shown for the first time in high definition in its original OAR. That alone makes it a must-have!. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can view this streaming for free. Not Rated, but no harder than an R.

DON'T PANIC (1987) - Michael Smith (Jon Michael Bischof, who also wrote and sings the title tune) and his alcoholic mother (Helen Rojo) have moved to Mexico following a divorce. During the conclusion of his 17th birthday party, after some hesitation on Michael's part, he and his friends fool around with an ouija board, but nothing happens. Mom chases the kids out of the house and we then see the ouija board's planchette move by itself, eventually flying through the air. Thanks to something that happened in his past that only he and friend Tony (Juan Ignacio Aranda) know about, Michael believes in the Devil, and has even given him a nickname: "Virgil". It's not long before Michael begins having terrible nightmares of bloody hands bursting through his bedroom ceiling and knives being thrusted into the bodies of his friends and he wakes up with terrible headaches. But are these nightmares or prophecies of things to come? Michael falls in love with beautiful schoolmate Alex (Gabriela Hassel) and pops her cherry in his bedroom. He gives her a single red rose and says to her, "As long as there is love between you and I, this rose will never wither." (Wow. If I were in high school and popped a girl's cherry in my bedroom, that would be the last thing on my mind! Besides, what teenage boy talks like that anyway?). Michael has a vision (whenever he gets a vision, the pupils of his eyes turn blood red) of his friend Debbie (Cecilia Tijerini) being viciously slashed to death in her bedroom (the knife ends up buried in the top of her head). Michael begins popping Tylenol like they were candy and takes to wearing sunglasses all the time, even when he is indoors. A head pokes through his TV set and tells him that his friend Cristy (Melinda McCallum) will die if he doesn't take her out of town by midnight. This puts a strain on his budding relationship with Alex and Mom makes him go to a doctor for a checkup, who then tells Mom that David needs to see a psychiatrist and pronto! When Cristy is killed with the same strange knife as Debbie, Michael tells his Mom that he thinks best friend Tony is possessed by Virgil and is responsible for the killings. Rather than believe him, sauced-up Mom has the doctor sedate him and when his father, Fred (Eduardo Noriega), shows up, things take a turn for the worse. While Mom and Dad are downstairs arguing, Cristy's brother, John (Roberto Palazuelos), kidnaps Michael thinking he is responsible for his sister's death. Michael is able to convince John otherwise and they go off in search of the possessed Tony. The only way to defeat Tony/Virgil is to kill him with the same knife he has been using to kill everyone else. Personally, I wanted to use the knife on all those responsible for making me sit through this 87 minute abortion.  This horror flick, directed by Ruben Galindo Jr. after his CEMETERY OF TERROR (1984; footage of this film appears briefly on a TV screen here) and before his GRAVE ROBBERS (1989), suffers because of the terrible acting of lead Jon Michael Bischof (although he's not the only offender), some rather convenient (and unbelievable) plot contrivances and because it was filmed in English rather than it's native Spanish. It's apparent that co-scripter Galindo Jr. (working with Bruce Glenn) didn't have a handle on the English language as most of the dialogue is stilted and even though it's plain to see that nearly everyone here is speaking English, they are all obviously overdubbed. DON'T PANIC is very bloody in spots, but most of the running time is spent on endless scenes of Michael trying to convince everyone else that he is not crazy. The film plunges into the depths of unbelievability when Michael and John rescue drunk friend Robert (Raul Arauza Jr.) from Virgil's wrath, only to leave him alone in a car while Michael goes back to the apartment to retrieve Robert's pants (!) and a shotgun-toting John goes to the grocery store to pick up a couple of packs of smokes (!!). Robert then gets his throat graphically sliced open by a possessed Tony and all I wanted to do was kick scripters Galindo Jr. and Glenn in their nuts for making it so goddamned obvious. Don't get me started on the scene where Michael bursts into Alex's house and interrupts a dinner party being thrown by Alex's rich father. Rather than tossing him out on his ass, Alex's father offers him a glass of wine (I guess there's no minimum age requirement for drinking alcohol in Mexico). Alex then pulls out a gun and begins shooting-up the place, grabs Alex by the arm and runs out of the house. What the flying fuck?!? This is a dreadful excuse for a horror film with nothing but a few bloody scenes (mostly knife violence), lots of inane dialogue and piss-poor acting. Watching this film is the equivalent of having bamboo chutes shoved under your fingernails. Also starring George Luke, Edna Bolkan, Evangelina Elizondo, Mario Ivan Martinez and Lucho Gatica. Originally released on VHS by Mogul Communications, Inc. in one of their colorful oversized clamshell boxes. Available on DVD by Deimos Entertainment as part of their CRYPT OF TERROR series as a double feature with Galindo Jr.'s DEMON RAT (1992). Not Rated.

DON'T WAKE THE DEAD (2008) - German director Andreas Schnaas has a one-track mind and is quickly becoming a one-trick pony. All he seems to care about is gore, gore, gore, letting the story take a back seat. While I have nothing against gore (believe me, it has its place in horror films and I'll be the first to admit it!), it sure would be nice if Schnaas took some time to wrap all that bloodshed around a decent plot. DON'T WAKE THE DEAD opens with voiceover narration telling us that a long time ago, a group of Knights Templar were killed at a castle and every 66 years, they rise from their graves and go on a bloody murder spree for one night. The only two things that can stop them are the morning sun and the Sword of Mecca, the weapon originally used to kill them all. We then switch to modern day, as a bus load of buxom women are on their way to that very same castle to help their friend Lana (Sonja Kerskes) renovate the place, where a bad German thrash band called Gang Loco (they have their own topless woman dancing on stage while they all play their one annoying chord) is the featured musical guest. Ignoring a warning from a mortorcycle-riding Vincent (Ralph Fellows) to turn the bus around, the girls make it to the castle, where they are greeted by Herr Janowitz (Wolfgang Cloris Wobeto), a gaunt, pasty-faced butler (Flashbacks show that he was involved with the Nazis at this castle during the 1940's and they battled the revived Knights Templar.). The girls ignore Herr Janowitz (one of them calls him "freakshow") and hook-up with Lana, who assigns the girls bedrooms that come complete with peepholes. While Vincent performs some blood ritual on the castle grounds (complete with CGI spirits), the girls decide to explore the castle, not knowing that K.C. (Maren Lisner), one of their own, has slipped in the bathroom and bashed her head against the edge of the bathtub. The girls stupidly split-up to check out the castle  (horror film stereotype 101), with Herr Janowitz showing a couple of the girls the castle's graveyard. As the film progresses, we learn that Vincent's grandfather stopped the last Knights Templar attack (during the castle's Nazi reign) and has passed down the Sword of Mecca to him, for tonight is the night of the Templar's rising and no one is safe. The rest of the film is nothing more than a series of extreme gore set-pieces, as the Knights Templar begin slaughtering everyone in sight, beginning with the members of Gang Loco (I'm an athiest, but this is one time I thanked God) and then moving on to the girls, who manage to do the stupidest things as possible at the most inopportune times (horror film stereotype 102). Can Vincent manage to save any of them before the Templars and some revived Nazi zombies (packing still-working machine guns!) kill them all before calling it a night?  My, oh, my. Where do I begin describing how truly awful this film really is? Let's begin with the dialogue. While everyone speaks English here, it's quite apparent that it is their second (or third) language because their line readings are simply atrocious. Director/producer Andreas Schnaas (VIOLENT SHIT - 1989; GOBLET OF GORE - 1996; ZOMBIE DOOM - 1999; NIKOS THE IMPALER - 2003) and screenwriters Klaus Dzuck & Ted Geoghegan haven't got a clue how to use the English language to their advantage, especially the scene where Beth (Fiana de Guzman) puts the moves on Vincent, just after he tells her that he's a monk who took a vow of chastity. Forget that all this is happening while everyone around them is being sliced to pieces, it's just something that would never happen in the real world. And therein lies this film's major problem: While everyone is being killed in the most gruesome of fashions (sword impalement to the vagina; manual disembowelments; beheadings; head crushed in a van door; body sliced vertically in half; knife in head; etc; all the effects are rather well-done), the girls fight among themselves about who is going to be the first to deflower Vincent. Un-fucking-believable. Since most of the girls are uglier than sin (Hey, I'm German, so I can make that statement, especially the bald-headed Cristiane Malia, who plays Shannon), the plentiful nude scenes aren't even eye candy (they are more like eye poison), and just when you think it couldn't get any worse, the zombified members of Gang Loco take center stage and put on a concert (this is one of the reasons why I am still an athiest)! Oh, my aching eyes and ears! Schnaas plays much of the film as broad comedy (Vincent utilizes a flying guillotine on some of his victims; a tribute to the Hong Kong martial arts flick MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE - 1975), but the film falls flatter than a half-cooked wienerschnitzel. To add insult to injury, Schnaas closes the film with a music video by...Gang Loco, who apparently only have one song on their playlist (at least in this film). For better films about the Knights Templar check out director Amando de Ossorio's TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1972) and its three sequels. Also starring Carolin Schmidt, Sarah Plochl, Amy Lee, Julia Casper and Courtney Peltzer. I don't believe this film ever received a legitimate home video release in the U.S., but it can be easily obtained from German Amazon on the Marketing-Film label. Not Rated.

DOOM ASYLUM (1987) - A palimony lawyer is horribly scarred in a car wreck, killing his beloved Judy (Patty Mullen), who was also his client. He wakes up during his autopsy(!), killing the medical examiner and his assistant after learning of Judy's death. Ten years later, a carload of obnoxious teens decide to spend the night in an abandoned insane asylum that just happens to be the residence of the demented lawyer. To heap on even more coincidence, one of the teens just happens to be the daughter of the lawyer's late, lamented love Judy (played by Mullen again). The lawyer (whose scarred makeup makes him look like Christopher Lee in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN - 1957) then dispatches the teens and a trio of female punk rockers, who are using the asylum as a rehearsal hall, in various bloody ways (bone saw, ice tongs, acid bath), saving Judy's daughter to be his new (old) love. She rebuffs his advances, stabbing him in the face with the handle of her mother's hand mirror. Which proves that old adage: The only good lawyer is a dead lawyer. This horror/comedy is amateurishly acted (which explains why most of the jokes fall flat) and sloppily edited. The effects are bloody but were obviously trimmed to receive an R-rating. The best parts of this film are the frequent film clips of forgotten actor Tod Slaughter, showcasing him in the rarely-seen DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (1936), MURDER IN THE RED BARN (1936), FACE AT THE WINDOW (1937), HORROR MANIACS (1948) and others. This was an unexpected pleasure in an otherwise dismal offering. Former Playboy centerfold Patty Mullen later went on to star as the title creation in the far superior horror/comedy FRANKENHOOKER (1990). Co-star Ruth Collins also appeared in the equally inept films GALACTIC GIGOLO (1987) and CEMETERY HIGH (1989). Director Richard Friedman showed much promise with his first film DEATHMASK (1983), a moody, atmospheric chiller which had medical examiner Farley Granger trying to solve the identity of a murdered four year-old boy. Friedman later went on to direct SCARED STIFF (1987) and PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC'S REVENGE (1988), both mediocre, though not quite as bad as DOOM ASYLUM. Also starring Kristin Davis, William Hay, Kenny L. Price, Harrison White and Michael Rogan. An Academy Entertainment Home Video Release. Available on an uncut fullscreen DVD from Code Red. Rated R.

THE DOORWAY (2000) - This is the last of a series of supernatural haunted house films that Roger Corman made in Irelend from the mid-to-late 90's, which included SPECTRE (1996), KNOCKING ON DEATH'S DOOR (1998) and THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE (1998), all above-average horror B-Films, each with their fair share of goosebump-inducing moments. THE DOORWAY is actually a bastardization of THE EVIL (1977), but for a bastardization, it is a damn fine one (and funny as hell, too). Even though this film was shot in Galway, Ireland (watch the documentary IT CAME FROM CONNEMARA!! [2014] to witness how Corman changed filmmaking in Ireland, as he formed his own production company there from 1996 to 2002 and churned out dozens of films of all genres), it actually takes place somewhere in modern-day New England, where we see a power company employee driving to a notorious haunted house (the same house used in the other three haunted house films mentioned above) to turn on the electricity. When he was a kid, he broke some of the house's windows and when he goes down to the basement to turn on the electricity, a demon comes out of nowhere and pushes him into the fusebox and he is electrocuted. Four college students get free rent for the semester and $10,000 to stay at the house and fix it up. The college kids meet the always-angry Mr. Hoskins (Ricco Se) at the front of the house and he hands would-be actor Rick (Christian Harmony; who idolizes W.C. Fields) an envelope which details all the work they need to do at the house. The other three kids take one good look at the outside of the house (all the windows are boarded-up and half of the porch railing is lying on the ground) and they rip into Rick since he took the job without even coming to see the house first. Rick says, "It's not like the house is haunted or anything." which jokester Owen (Don Maloney, who gets the lion's share of funny lines) replies, "Rick, I doubt any self-respecting ghost would live here!" (Oh, if they only knew!). Owen and Tammy (Lauren Woodland; "Emily Francisco" on the ALIEN NATION TV series [1989 - 1990] and series of TV movies) get pissed and Tammy says she is leaving, but Rick's girlfriend Susan (Suzanne Bridgham) talks her out of it. Tammy says she will stay as long as she gets first pick of the bedrooms. They all enter the house and see what an awful state of disrepair it is in (Owen says, "The dorm's looking pretty good right now!") and are greeted by a mouse scurrying on the floor. Tammy chases it away, saying rodents don't bother her because she was raised on a farm. We are then treated to an 80's-like montage of the four college kids cleaning the inside of the house, while a funky tune titled "Love In The House" (sung by Michele Vice) plays on the soundtrack. After we get to know a little info and quirks about the four kids (Like Tammy has a doll collection and Susan's parents aren't too pleased that she is dating an actor), Owen (who has a secret crush on Tammy) finds a dusty book in the house's library titled "Superstitions Of Early New England", which happens to be the subject of his college thesis "Mystery And Magic In Colonial America". Owen discovers that the house was built on the site where, back in the 1600's, people use to perform sexual Devil worship. The house was built by Walter Van Buren (Robert G. Hall) a couple of centuries ago and we are treated to a flashback (narrated by Owen) of what went on during that time (all using gore and nudity footage from earlier Corman films, like THE HAUNTING OF MORELLA [1990], BURIAL OF THE RATS [1995] and even a scene of Claudia Christian from THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE [1998]), as Van Buren raised demons and ghosts from Hell until the town revolted and killed him. The kids keep hearing strange moaning coming from the house, but fool themselves into believing that old houses like this make those kind of noises all the time (I would have beat a hasty retreat as soon as I heard the first moan!). We then watch as Susan takes a shower (new nudity alert!) when a severed demon hand appears on one of her shoulders. Thinking that Rick as joined her in the shower, she scream out loud when she discovers what it really is, as Rick and Tammy run to the bathroom (Owen is blissfully ignorant, as he has headphones on, listening to music while typing his term paper on his computer). When they get there, the demon hand has disappeared. Tammy goes back to her bedroom, only to find that all her dolls have been moved (two dolls are positioned like they are performing oral sex on each other!). She thinks Owen is responsible, so she goes into his bedroom and yanks the headphones out of his ears, but Owen denies doing it. The next morning, Tammy discovers that all her dolls have been returned to their proper place, but someone altered Owen's term paper on his computer, adding sex-filled passages (Tammy thinks Owen did it himself and is disgusted when she reads the first entry). All four of them gather together in the kitchen to discuss the strange occurrences happening in the house, so Rick and Owen go down to the basement to check if there is anything hinky down there. While Rick is checking the fusebox, Owen has a close encounter with a female demon, who floats in the air, her fingernails grow into claw-like objects in front of our eyes and she has a split tongue like a snake. The female demon almost gets Owen, but she disappears when Rick enters the area. They then hear the two girls screaming upstairs and discover the kitchen sink is overflowing with maggots. That night, Rick is possessed by a demon while making love to Susan (more new nudity alert!). After he is done with Susan, he goes to Tammy bedroom and has sex with her (while her creepy dolls eyes move to watch the action), where he also sports a split tongue and tries to shove it down Tammy's throat. When Tammy wakes up in the morning, she believes it was all a dream, but she is naked and a naked Rick is lying next to her. Susan enters the room and sees both of them in bed and runs out crying. Rick has no memory of even going into Tammy's bedroom, so everyone discusses what happened downstairs, where the female demon shows herself to all of them and floats above the floor while saying, "Come to me!" to Rick. Rick says, "Back off, bitch!" and the female demon grows her fingernails once again and tries to slash Rick, but they all escape the house and get in their cars to drive to the college. They go to talk to paranormal expert Professor Lamont (Top-billed Roy Scheider; JAWS - 1975; who appears 36 minutes into the film and lasts for about thirty minutes, but he doesn't phone his performance in. He throws himself into the role and looks to be having a great time.), who has given up on investigating the occult because he had a prank pulled on him which nearly cost him his job at the college (It has to do with Cotton Mather. Google him.). After listening to their story, the Professor believes he is being pranked again and says to the four of them, "Get the hell out of here before I fuck you right on the spot. Class dismissed!" (Scheider is really funny in his delivery. He also says, "I don't do ghosts anymore...and I never did demons!"). When Owen mentions that the house they are staying in is the Van Buren house, the Professor says that an electrician was found dead there a week earlier, something the four college kids were never told before. When the kids notice that the Professor's assistant Lydia (Teresa DePriest) bears an uncanny resemblance to the female demon in the house (who we find out was named Evelyn), the Professor becomes interested again because Lydia is a direct descendant of the Van Buren family and she is also a clairvoyant. The six of them head back to the Van Buren house (Where the Professor tells the kids that they should read his book on the occult. When Owen mentions that they are penniless college students, the Professor tells them that he has 500 copies sitting in his garage and will gladly give each of them a copy and sign it, too!). Once inside the house, the Professor sets up his electronic equipment, while the clairvoyant Lydia checks out each room for ghosts and demons. Lydia watches her evil doppelganger Evelyn making love to a man in one of the upstairs bedrooms and then she rips off his head. Lydia passes out and when she comes to, she tells everyone that Evelyn isn't the only demon in this house. She says that something important is hidden behind one of the walls in the basement. While Rick is breaking down the wall with a pickaxe, Evelyn tries to attack Tammy, but Owen impales her with a broom handle and they both run outside. Rick breaks through the wall, where they find the chained-up skeleton of Evelyn. The Professor believes the danger is over because of the discovery, but Evelyn appears behind him and rips his face off (A really graphic effect that comes unexpectedly. Effects were done by the Almost Human effects house.). Lydia tells Susan to burn the skeleton, so she throws an oil lantern at it and it bursts into flames. So does Evelyn. All the kids go to the police while Mr. Hoskins returns to the house, only to discover that the inside of the house is destroyed. The college kids are forced to come back to the house by Deputy Abbott (Brendan Murray), who wants them to show him where the Professor's body is. Mr. Hoskins goes down to the basement and finds it full of demons. He is sucked through the fiery hole in the basement wall, which turns out to be a gateway to Hell. Burning the skeleton allowed it to open. Deputy Abbott forces the four kids to enter the house, but he allows them to remain upstairs while he goes down to the basement to look for the Professor's body. Evelyn has returned, as the college kids find all their possessions destroyed (including Tammy's dolls and Owen's computer). Rick is once again possessed by a demon and Lydia gets a psychic image and races to the house in her car. Sadly, Rick has a pickaxe planted in his head and the demon materializes (he looks like a HELLRAISER reject) and Susan is killed. Tammy and Owen discover that a medallion is needed to close the doorway to Hell and Tammy finds a secret passageway in a bookcase as they are being chased by Evelyn. It leads them to the basement, where we see Lydia grab the medallion and jump into the fiery hole. Evelyn tries to stop her, but the wall closes up and Evelyn is decapitated when she is caught between one side of the wall and the other and the house burns to the ground. The film ends with this comic coda: "Although no bodies were ever found, Owen and Tammy were convicted of the murders of Rick Bascomb, Susan Daniels, Professor Robert Lamont, Lydia Weston, Ralph Hoskins and Deputy Henry Abbott. Following a courthouse marriage ceremony, they were sent to separate penitentiaries to serve life terms. Conjugal visits are not permitted, however the couple keeps in contact via e-mail. The Van Buren House was re-built two years later and will soon re-open as an upscale bed-and-breakfast. A free copy of 'Ghostly Phenomena' by Professor Robert Lamont will be presented to the first 500 visitors."  This is a pretty funny haunted house film that surprises you with the gory demise of Roy Scheider, which should seem out-of-place with the rest of the film, but somehow it doesn't. Director/screenwriter Robert B. Druxman (who is credited for the story to DEMON SLAYER [2004] and the screenplay to DILLINGER AND CAPONE [1995]) keeps the pace quick and some of the dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny. That doesn't means that he skimps on the gore and nudity, because there is plenty throughout the film and, besides the short flashback segment, it is all original. Like all the other films Corman made in Ireland (which also includes BLOODFIST 8: NO WAY OUT [1996]; SPACEJACKED [1997]; A VERY UNLUCKY LEPRECHAUN [1998]; MOVING TARGET [2000]; GAME OF DEATH [2000] and many others), they are all available on DVD in fullscreen only. These films really need to be remastered in their original aspect ratio and be released on DVD or Blu-Ray, so we can appreciate them as they were originally filmed. A lot of Corman's films have been released in widescreen (especially by Shout! Factory and Scorpion Releasing), but most of his films after 1990 have yet to be touched. It's about time that changed. Also starring Joe Moylan, Christopher Burdett, Daniel McNamara, Hoda Saoud, Dieter Auner, John Cullen and an uncredited appearance by Druxman as the College Dean. A New Concorde VHS & DVD Release. Rated R.

THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1981) - During Christmas vacation, five college students volunteer to close down the aging Morgan Meadows Hall, a 75 year-old seven story dormitory that is going to be torn down and turned into an apartment complex. The close-knit group have two weeks to clear out the building of all it's furniture and other objects, but what they don't count on is that some unknown psycho is also in the building and he's none too happy that they're there. The psycho first kills Debbie (Daphne Zuniga; THE INITIATION - 1983) and her parents. Dad gets a nail-embedded baseball bat to the skull, Mom gets a wire garrotte necklace and Debbie gets run over by a car. Joanne Murray (Laura Lapinski), who is in charge of the clean-up, must contend with her groups constant pranking on each other, as well as deal with unwelcome illegal resident John Hemmit (Woody Roll), strange horny furniture buyer Bobby Lee Tremble (Dennis Ely) and a handyman (Jake Jones) whose power tools end up missing. Could any of these people be the sneaker-wearing psycho? When the group try to locate John and run him off (he's always scaring the girls by peering into the windows at night), they are unable to find him. The handyman is the next to die, thanks to a power drill to the back to his head. As the days wear on, it becomes apparent that the students have issues of their own. One disappears for hours on end, one has anger problems and Joanne is uncertain of her future with her boyfriend Tim (Robert Frederick). When the phone lines go dead and the electricity is shut off, the killing begins to intensify. Brian (David Snow) is attacked with a machete. Patti (Pamela Holland) is put in a vat of boiling water and cooked alive. John attacks Joanne and Craig (Stephen Sachs), but they both get away and Joanne finds Brian dismembered body. While Joanne thinks John is the killer (she clobbers him over the head with a baseball bat), she soon finds out that the killer is much more familar, too familar for Joanne's good, as he shows her the results of all his murderous handiwork that he has hidden in a tunnel under the dormitory.  This is the first film for directors/screenwriters Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow (THE POWER - 1983; THE KINDRED - 1986) and it's not bad for a first effort, even if it's your standard "killer on the loose in a building full of teens" plot. Some of the kills are pretty inventive (effects courtesy of Matthew Mungle), although some of the gorier deaths look to be trimmed to receive an R rating. There's still plenty of blood to keep gorehounds happy and the acting doesn't suck, which is a big plus for a film like this. Woody Roll resembles a slightly demented Paul Le Mat and he's pretty scary for someone who isn't the killer. The killer's motivation is pretty weak (He's in love with Jennifer, but she's not in love with him, so he murders anyone who even talks to her. That's taking devotion a little too far.), but the standoff between him, Bobby Lee and the police is ingenious and very well executed (literally!). The ending is also very nasty without being graphic. It's not a happy ending, by the way. This is a pretty enjoyable way to spend 85 minutes if you don't set your sights too high. Also known as PRANKS and DEATH DORM. Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow would end their partnership in the early 90's. Carpenter would go on to direct the dreadful SOUL SURVIVORS (2001) and Obrow would make SERVANTS OF TWILIGHT (1991) and THEY ARE AMONG US (2004), George "Buck" Flower's final film. A Media Home Entertainment VHS Release. Also available on uncut DVD & Blu-Ray from Synapse Films, the only way to watch this film. The VHS is Rated R. The DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack is Not Rated.

DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972) - This was one of the Hammer Dracula films that I absolutely hated when I originally saw it in a theater in 1972. I hated it so much, I never watched it again. That is until it made its premiere on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on October 30th, 2015 and I decided to watch it for the first time in 43 years. You know what? I actually liked it this time. I remember when first going to see it that taking the Hammer Dracula saga out of the Gothic era to modern times was a big mistake, but call it nostalgia or call it old age, I now look at it as one of Hammer's fastest-paced Dracula films they made. For the first time since Christopher Lee portrayed Dracula and Peter Cushing portrayed Prefessor Van Velsing, this film doesn't follow the continuing story and rebirth of Dracula from the previous film, since Peter Cushing didn't appear in SCARS OF DRACULA (1970; which some people think is the most violent of Hammer's Dracula films and they may be right). This film starts woth one of the most exciting openings of any Hammer Dracula. It's 1872 and Dracula and Van Helsing are battling on a runaway carriage. The carriage hits a tree and Dracula gets impaled by the spokes of a wooden wheel. Just before he dies of a severe concussion, Van Helsing helps in driving the spokes in deeper Dracula's heart and then Van Helsing collapses on his back, his finale visage looking up into the sky before he passes away. We then see a mysterious stranger collect Dracula's ring and some of Dracula's dust a glass vial. While Van Helsing's funeral is being held, the stranger digs a small hole in unconsecrated ground on the other side of the fence of the cemetery and pours some of Dracula's dust into it. The camera then pans into the sky and we see a jet airplane fly overhead (it's a clever segue). It's now 1972 and we are at a swinging party where a British band called Stoneground is playing (the famous band Faces were originally to play in this scene, but they pulled out at the last moment) and the young people are having a good time and the older people are horrified. A young man called "Johnny Alucard" (an incredibly young Christopher Neame; HELLBOUND - 1993), a descendant of the mysterious stranger 100 years earlier, crashes the party and ingratiates himself with the young people, including Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham; HORROR PLANET - 1980), who lives with her father Professor Van Helsing (Cushing). He gets off on torturing one old woman by making believe that he is going to break one of her valuable porcelain statues, but he puts it back on the table as he walks out the door. Then his arm comes inside the door and knocks the statue down, breaking it. The police dub them a "fringe group", so Johnny says why don't they all go to an unconsecrated church that night and peform a satanic ritual for shits and giggles? Of course we know it is for more nefarious reasons and the only one to have reservations about the whole thing is Jessica, but her boyfriend Bob (Philip Miller; this was his only acting role of note) talks her into going. In order to get to the church, they must first pass through a graveyard, where Jessica discovers that her great-great-grandfather died on that very exact date. This is the 100th anniversary of both his and Dracula's deaths. Bob says it is nothing but a coincidence and they meet everyone at the church. Johnny Alucard performs a ritual for the Demon of Forbidden Knowledge and says "I demand an audience with his Satanic Majesty!" and says that they all have to swear in front of the Devil to keep this Black Mass a secret or a curse will befall them. He needs a female "sacrifice" and asks Jessica to join him, but she refuses, so Laura (Caroline Munro; STARCRASH - 1978) offers her services instead. Laura lies down on an altar while Johnny slices his arm with an ancient dagger, collecting all his blood in a goblet and then pouring it on Laura, who is shocked. All the other members of the group leave in disgust, except for Johnny and Laura, who go to the graveyard and pours the final amount of dust on Dracula's grave (which looks like it is breathing). Dracula (Lee) suddenly appears and Johnny says that it was he who raised him from the dead. Dracula simply says "It was my will!" and sucks Laura dry. Johnny becomes Dracula's vampire servant and he tells the group that Laura was in on the gag from the beginning (and that the blood was nothing but blood capsules) and she is on a train to collect some money from a relative (Jessica is not buying it for a minute). Meanwhile, three young boys kicking a ball around find Laura's dead body in a pile of loose cement rubble. The police think it is the work of a sex maniac and that she was already wearing a shroud (What one has to do with another is still a mystery to me). Luckily, her fingerprints are on file for a drug arrest four months ago and people say she hung out with a "fringe group" (What in the hell does that mean? They are just having fun, smoking hash and partying like everyone young person did in the 70's), including Jessica Van Helsing (Who is the most normal woman I have seen in a horror film). Inspector Murray (Michael Coles; DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS - 1965) talks to Professor Van Helsing and when he mentions that Laura's body was completely drained of blood, it strikes a cord in the Professor. He tells Inspector Murray that they may be dealing with vampires. In a refreshing change of pace, the Inspector actually believes the Professor (after a short time not believing him), but tells them to keep it between themselves, because other people in power won't be so understanding. Jessica walks into the house and the Inspector talks to her, where she learns for the first time that Laura is dead. The Inspector wants to talk to Jessica's friends, but his partner says kids won't talk to him, but Inspector Murray says that when he finds a piece of hash on one of them, they will be more than willing to talk. Meanwhile, Johnny brings Dracula Angel Gaynor (Marsha Hunt; HOWLING II:...YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF - 1985)  and he drains her of all her blood, but he yells to Johnny, "She's not the one!" and will only make Johnny truly immortal if he brings Jessica to him. Dracula hopes to wipe out the Van Helsing bloodline from the Earth, so the Professor dies a lonely man with no one to carry on his work. Johnny starts turning members of the fringe group into vampires or killing them and when Professor Murray mentions that two more girls from the group were murdered last night. He is amazed when Van Helsing describes both murders perfectly (He also explains that Johnny's last name is "Dracula" spelled backwards). Bob (wearing a scarf around his neck, uh, oh!) takes Jessica for a ride, even though she doesn't want to, and they meet Johnny. They both bare their fangs to Jessica and she is knocked out. When Bob goes to put the bite on her, Johnny (who had his hand burned grabbing Jessica's crucifix) tells him not to touch her. She is Dracula's property now. Anna (Janet Kay; AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS - 1973; also with Beacham), a member of Jessica's circle of friends, tells Professor Van Helsing and Inspector Murray where Johnny lives (she spent a short time there once and became so freaked out, she had to leave) and he asks the Inspector to give him an hour before he and his men enter Johnny's house. Johnny tries to put the bite on the Professor as the sun begins to rise, but the Professor throws a Bible with a crucifix around it into Johnny's coffin, making sure Johnny has no place to sleep during the day. In an ingenious move, the Professor uses a round hand mirror to reflect the sun onto Johnny, forcing him to fall into the bathtub and accidentally turning the shower on (vampires can't survive in flowing water, a legend that was created in one of Hammer's previous Dracula films). Johnny dies and his skin begins to peel, just as the Inspector and his men arrive (Johnny managed to stab the Professor in the arm with a switchblade, which a medic patches up). The Professor knows where Jessica is, but he once again makes the Inspector promise to give him an hour before he shows up. The Professor is seen tinkering around in a barn and then goes to save Jessica and stabs Dracula in the heart with a sacrimonial dagger. Janet is still under Dracula's control, so she pulls the dagger out of Dracula and he's good as new. This leads them all to the barn, where the Professor had booby-trapped it. He gives Dracula a face-full of holy water and then pushes him face-first into a grave, which has a sharp stake protruding from it. The Professor pushes Dracula's body down with a shovel until the stake protrudes out his back and Dracula once again turns to dust. Jessica snaps out of her spell and is no worse for wear, but all her friends are dead. It's not easy being a Van Helsing.  This is the penultimate film where Cushing and Lee would face-off as Van Helsing and Dracula. The next film would be THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (a.k.a. COUNT DRACULA AND HIS VAMPIRE BRIDE - 1973), then Lee would hang up his Dracula cape (but still portray vampires in various foriegn comedies like DRACULA AND SON - 1976) and Cushing would play Van Helsing one more time in Hammer Films/Shaw Brothers horror/kung fu mash-up THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (a.k.a. THE 7 BROTHERS MEET DRACULA - 1974). Not only did director Alan Gibson (CRESCENDO - 1969 [a popular co-feature with this film in the U.S. and a popular co-feature with TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA [1969] in England]; GOODBYE GEMINI - 1970) and screenwriter Don Houghton (SHATTER - 1974) also return for the last Lee/Cushing Dracula film, actor Michael Coles also returned as Inspector Murray (Joanna Lumley replaced Stephanie Beacham as Jessica). In August 1981, CBS and their CBS Late Movie changed the title of this film to DRACULA TODAY, where it went over like a lead balloon. Not only were the clothes and hairstyles completely different from 1972 to 1981, the slang used in the film was completely different than what was spoken then. CBS went back to calling it by its proper name after only one showing under that ridiculous title. I actually has a good time watching this film after 43 years and consider it one of the best 70's Hammer Dracula films. Besides, Christopher Lee has more dialogue in this film than in three of his 60's Dracula films combined. Since both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are no longer with us, the world is a sadder place. This film was released theatrically two days before HORROR EXPRESS (1972), which also starred Lee & Cushing. Also starring William Ellis, Michael Kitchen, David Andrews, Lally Bowers, Constance Luttrell and Michael Daly. A Warner Bros. Pictures DVD Release (which is very expensive). Warner Bros. also released a four-film Hammer Dracula DVD, which contains this film and it is under $10.00. Rated PG, but pretty bloody for that rating.

DREAMANIAC (1986) - This is director David DeCoteau's first legitimate film (he directed a bunch of gay porn videos before this using various pseudonyms) and it's one of those "Original Made-For-Video" feature films that Wizard Video ("Too Gory For The Silver Screen" was their motto) was so fond of releasing in the early to mid-80's. A sorority party at a private house turns deadly when a supernatural succubus named Lily (Sylvia Summers) begins slaughtering the guys and gals in bloody ways. This is not very good, but at least it's short and contains plenty of nudity. The blood also flows freely but this is the type of film every director makes to break into the field. Horror movies are cheap to film and every single dollar (at least 10) is up on the screen. The story is pedestrian, the acting ranges from sub-par to average and the gore is basically stab or drill someone and squirt them with buckets of blood. There's also a lame attempt at a "surprise" ending. DeCoteau is still making plenty of films today, most of them bad (he usually uses the pseudonyms "Ellen Cabot", "Victoria Sloane" or "Julian Breen" on those films), but he has turned out his fair share of good films also (SKELETONS - 1996; FINAL STAB - 2001), although openly gay DeCoteau has put a little too much homoeroticism in his newer films for my tastes. DREAMANIAC was just a stepping stone in director David DeCoteau's more than 50 film resume (so far), many for Charles Band's Full Moon Productions. DeCoteau now heads a company called Rapid Heart Pictures, Ltd. I've seen a lot worse first films but I also have seen a lot better. Also starring Thomas Bern, Kim McKamy, Brad Laughlin, Matthew Phelps and Bob Pelham. A Wizard Video VHS Release. Available on DVD as part of Full Moon's "Grindhouse Collection" (which basically means it has not been remastered and was probably taken from 1" tape masters, but their future releases have been very good). Not Rated.

DREAM DEMON (1988) - Future bride Diana (Jemma Redgrave) has a nightmare where she jilts her blueblood fiancé, Oliver (Mark Greenstreet), at the altar. He then slaps her in the face and she retaliates by slapping him back, only she slaps him so hard, she decapitates him and his neck stump splatters blood all over her white wedding dress, while a pleased swarm of paparazzi snap away with their cameras. Diana and Oliver are England's newest celebrity couple, so when she tells Oliver about her nightmare, he tells her it was probably caused by all the pressure she is under. Her dreams get more bizarre (bugs coming out of dolls' eyes; showing up at a high society tea party dressed like a hooker), but they all end the same way: Oliver either slaps her, rapes her, or both. Diana is verbally assaulted by two tabloid reporters, Peck (Timothy Spall; SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET - 2007) and Paul (Jimmy Nail; HOWLING II - 1985), who trap her outside her new home with questions like, "Are you a virgin?" and "How big is Oliver's sausage?"  Diana is saved by American Jenny Hoffman (Kathleen Wilhoite; MURPHY'S LAW - 1986; WITCHBOARD - 1986), who kicks Peck in his sausage and both women escape into Diana's home. Jenny tells Diana that she is searching for her missing parents and her research has led her to Diana's new home. Diana knows nothing about the house, except her rich father just recently bought it for her and Oliver as a wedding present and she has only been living in it for two weeks, which correlates to when her nightmares began. Diana has another awful nightmare where Peck chases her down into the basement and he falls into a bottomless pit of fire. When Diana wakes up and finds her engagement ring missing (she lost it in her nightmare), she and Jenny head to the basement, only to find Paul down there looking for Peck, who has gone missing. Diana begins to believe that her nightmares are real, so Jenny stays with her on a permanent basis (or at least until Oliver comes back from Naval maneuvers), but it doesn't stop her nightmares. When Diana confides to Jenny that she is indeed a virgin, the pieces start to fall in place. What is the secret this house hides and what is Jenny's connection to it? When Jenny is sucked into Diana's nightmares, they must both solve the mystery before they can return to the living world and escape the clutches of Peck and Paul, who have both become demons in dreamland. And is Oliver only marrying Diana because he's flat broke?  This British variant of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984), directed by Harley Cokliss (WARLORDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY - 1982; BLACK MOON RISING - 1986; MALONE - 1987), has a few effective scenes and outbursts of graphic gore (the opening minutes are very atmospheric and ends with a real shocking jolt), but most of the time the film is slow-moving and rather uninvolving. The screenplay, by Cokliss and Christopher Wicking (CRY OF THE BANSHEE - 1970; MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE - 1971; DEMONS OF THE MIND - 1972), is nothing but rehashed ideas already displayed in the ELM STREET franchise, where Diana's dreams cause death and destruction in the real world. Both Diana and Jenny are then chased around by demons Peck and Paul, where wisecracks are made and gross makeup effects are displayed (such as when Diana rips-off Peck's ear and later puts her fist through his head). The whole dream imagery thing grows tiresome after a while, because DREAM DEMON degenerates into dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams until we get to a point where we just feel like screaming "Enough already!" There is also a mystery involving a little blonde-haired girl and her abusive father that happened in the house years earlier, but you would have to be a complete moron not to figure out who the little girl really is (Who dyes her hair black in this film?). This is a minor British horror film that holds little interest unless you're into ELM STREET clones. Also starring Susan Fleetwood, Annabelle Lanyon, Nickolas Grace and Patrick O'Connell. A Warner Home Video VHS Release. Not available on DVD. Rated R.

DREAM NO EVIL (1970) - All little orphan Grace MacDonald wants to do is find her real father. Now an adult, Grace (Brooke Mills) is still looking for her father, traveling from town to town with the sideshow church that adopted her as a child. Grace is a high fall artist who draws people to the church with her 30 foot dives, while her fiance's brother, Jesse (Michael Pataki), preaches the word of God and performs faith healings. Grace is also a virgin, much to the consternation of her fiance, Patrick (Paul Prokop, who says,"I'm not going to walk away, half bent over from that pain, anymore!), who is studying to be a doctor. Soon Grace starts to slip into an "imaginary world" (as the film's narrator tells us). While searching for her father in a seedy hotel she meets a pimp/mortician (Marc Lawrence, who has a stable of the ugliest whores this side of Afghanistan!) who tells her that he knew her father (Edmond O'Brien) and that he died yesterday. He takes Grace to see the body and her mind snaps. She thinks that O'Brien is still alive and she begins murdering people who get in her way (starting with Lawrence, who has his back ripped open with a scapel), acts which she attributes were done by her father. Grace kills Jesse with a metal wedge after "Daddy" catches them making love in a barn. (I guess insanity leads to promiscuity.) After planting a sickle into a nosey sheriff's chest, she goes after Patrick with an axe, because he is leaving her for a female med student who will give him some nookie. Patrick manages to sedate Grace and police psychiatrist Arthur Franz (ATOMIC SUBMARINE - 1959) shows up at the end to explain everything we have just viewed.  While low on gore, nudity and production values, this is a pretty good example of one person's descent into obsession and insanity. Brooke Mills (THE BIG DOLL HOUSE - 1971, THE STUDENT TEACHERS - 1973) gives a good performance as Grace. She is able to rise above some of the dicier material. Edmond O'Brien (D.O.A. - 1949, FANTASTIC VOYAGE - 1966) hammily overacts as Grace's domineering and violent father. More on co-star Michael Pataki (a favorite of mine) in a future issue of CritCon. Producer Daniel Cady also produced DOLLY DEAREST (1991). Director John Hayes (who died in 2000) had been turning out small exploitation films for years. Some are good, such as GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1972) and some are downright bad, such as GARDEN OF THE DEAD (1972) and END OF THE WORLD (1977). DREAM NO EVIL (a.k.a. NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO DIE) falls into the former category. Originally released on VHS by Active Home Video, with a budget VHS release a few years later by Star Classics Home Video. Not Rated.

DRIVE THRU (2006) - Proof positive that Lionsgate Entertainment will release anything on DVD as long as it contains recognizable stars. From the opening moments, where a car-full of trash-talking wiggas and their skank girlfriends stop at the drive thru at Hella Burger (which looks closed, but these idiots don't seem to notice), only to be sliced and diced, deep-fried and trash talked by the burger joint's mascot, Horny The Clown (Van De La Plante), to the stupid open-ended finale that promises a sequel (which thankfully never happened), this film reeks worse than a uncooked burger left in the afternoon sun (And really, what parents would take their kids to a franchise whose mascot's name is Horny The Clown?). I can't think of a recent DTV horror film that I hated more than this; it's the kind of horror flick that gives intelligent horror film fans a swift kick to the groin, as if to say, "Fuck you for being a horror film fan!" Not a single cliche is missed; from the virginal, about-to-turn-18 rock singer named Mackenzie (Leighton Meester; GOSSIP GIRL - 2007-2012); her horny, ready-for-sex boyfriend Fisher (Nicholas D'Agosto); an ouija board session that goes very, very wrong; a killer clown that makes a lame wiseass cracks everytime he kills someone; stupid teens (who all seem to have rich parents) that put at least one "fuck" or "bitch" in every line of dialogue they speak and who do the most asinine things at the most inopportune times so they can be fodder for Horny's specially-made cleaver; two police detectives, Chase (Lola Glaudini; who was on the TV series CRIMINAL MINDS from 2005 - 2006) and Crockers (Larry Joe Campbell; ACCORDING TO JIM - 2001-2009), who couldn't detect a turd in a toilet bowl; a head-banging thrash metal soundtrack that plays every time Horny chases his prey; and pitiful excuses for jokes in a supposedly laugh-filled screenplay (A lot is made about detectives Chase & Crocker's last names; "Cheese & Crackers", get it? Ugh!). The simple story (believe me, they don't come any simpler) details Mackenzie trying to get anyone to believe that she somehow has a psychic link to Horny and his victims. She gets warnings in advance (on the ouija board, her camera and even an Etch-A-Sketch!) on who the next victim will be, but her parents, Marcia (Melora Hardin; who appeared on the TV series THE OFFICE from 2005 - 2011) and Bill (Paul Ganus), and the detectives refuse to believe her. It's obvious that her parents are withholding "The Secret" from her, especially about her rapidly-approaching 18th birthday, but the obvious question remains why Horny is killing the kids of other parents who all graduated tegether years earlier. While Mackenzie tries to avoid Horny's cleaver with Fisher's help, she also tries to figure out who is dressing as Horny and killing her friends. Don't hink too hard Mackenzie, otherwise you'll become retarded. The audience (including those with an IQ that matches their age, have figured out his identity long before the film ended).  It's hard to believe that it took the joint effort of two people to direct and write this abomination (Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. Too many cooks spoil the stew and how many films can you count on one hand that were directed by more than one person that can be considered good? Maybe THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT - 1999, but I'm not even a fan of that film!), but the fact is Shane Kuhn and Brendon Cowles should never be trusted with a computer or a camera ever again. While there are a few bloody practical gore effects (Cleaver in the head [a very easy effect to pull off], decapitation at the jawline), there are also some crappy CGI effects, none so bad as a girl getting her head microwaved until it explodes; a teen getting cleaved in half by Horny's cleaver or Mackenzie spewing CGI flames into Horny's face. While there are a few nice cameo appearances by Sean Whalen (LAID TO REST - 2009) as a dentally-challenged school janitor; documentary director Morgan Spurlock SUPER SIZE ME - 2004) as the much put-upon manager of a Hella Burger joint; and Clyde Kusatsu (THE CHALLENGE - 1982) as a TV reporter, the rest of the cast (consisting mainly of TV actors) have absolutely nothing to work with here (Typical dialogue: "Your balls are showing!"), nor do they deserve it. If the idea of a fast food joint naming their mascot "Horny" bothers you, imagine an entire film full of such idiotic details (Nevermind that the Hella Burger commercials that are shown on TV throughout the film would never get passed by the FCC!). Ground this film up like some bad meat and feed it to the pigs. Also starring Penn Badgley (Meester's GOSSIP GIRL co-star), John Gilbert, Richard Bella, Shedrack Anderson, Maliabeth Johnson, Tyler King, Robert Curtis Brown and Sita Young. Gordon Clapp (N.Y.P.D. BLUE - 1993-2005) supplied the voice of Horny The Clown and director Michael Feifer (THE GRAVEYARD - 2006; B.T.K. - 2007) was the Line Producer here. DRIVE THRU is not a shining moment for either of them. A Lionsgate Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.

DYING BREED (2008) - Four friends, Jack (Nathan Phillips; SNAKES ON A PLANE - 2006), Matt (Leigh Whannell; SAW - 2004), Nina (Mirrah Foulkes; ANIMAL KINGDOM - 2010) and Rebecca (Melanie Vallejo), travel to the island of Tasmania, Australia to search and photograph the thought-to-be-extinct Tasmanian Tiger. Nina has a secondary reason for going: Her sister "fell off the radar" eight years ago while in the same area and Nina would like to discover the truth about her drowning death, as the last thing she sent Nina before she died was a photo showing a paw print of a Tasmanian Tiger. The Tasmanian locals don't take too kindly to the foursome's sudden appearance (and the fact that troublemaker Jack punctures the tire of a local's car for no apparent reason at all), especially when they announce they are looking for a tiger. It could be because most of the locals are descendants of prisoners who were sent to the island when it was a penal colony from 1788 to 1868; it's most famous prisoner being cannibal Alexander "The Pieman" Pierce (Peter Docker), who escaped from the prison into the woods and was never heard from again (A flashback in the beginning of the film shows Pierce taking a bite out of a prison guard's neck and tossing the bit of bloody flesh to a hungry Tasmanian Tiger.). After a memorable night in town, where someone keys Jack's new truck and Jack beats up a local for spying on him and Rebecca making love, the foursome heads to the area in the photo that Nina has, first by boat and then on foot. It's apparent that they are not alone in the woods, but the question soon becomes: Do the foursome have any right to be in these woods, especially the jackass Jack, who brings a crossbow on what is supposed to be a photographic hunt? Jack really is a first-degree prick, as he uses the crossbow to kill a helpless rabbit and then skins it in front of Nina, who is an animal rights activist. Rebecca is the first to die when some grunting feral man bites off her fingers, snaps her neck and then chews off her face. The appearance of a small girl in the woods (who looks at a photo of Nina's sister and says "Mama!"), leads to Nina and Matt joining two local hunters to search for Rebecca and Jack (who disappeared while looking for Rebecca). When Jack is found and they discover the shack owned by twin brothers Harvey and Rowan (both portrayed by Bille Brown), Harvey being the "normal" one and Rowan the deformed one (they are the incestual descendants of Alexander Pierce), our trio finds out what generations of inbreeding hath wrought: Two cannibal brothers that raped Nina's sister eight years earlier, resulting in a baby girl. Is history about to repeat itself, only this time with Nina as the unwilling sperm receptacle?  This Australian production, the feature debut of director Jody Dwyer (who co-wrote the screenplay with producers Michael Boughen and Rod Morris), is nothing more than an updating of Jeff Lieberman's JUST BEFORE DAWN (1980) with an added subplot about the search for a Tasmanian Tiger. Although it take a while for the film to find its pulse (it crams way too many different storylines in the first hour, including the search for the tiger, Nina's nightmares about her sister, the townies' incestuous secrets and Jack's generally assholiness), once the foursome actually get in the woods, the flick starts delivering the gruesome goods, including cannibalism (the sight of Rebecca's body hanging in Harvey/Rowan's backyard is an image you won't soon forget); a crossbow bolt shot through Harvey's cheek and pinning him to a tree; Jack stepping on a bear trap and then falling head-first onto another one; a hunter getting his head cleaved in two by a machete; a pickaxe through Rowan's heart and other gory mayhem. If I have one big problem with DYING BREED, it's that it drops the Tasmanian Tiger hunt to focus on the human hunt and then returns to the tiger in a quick, two second shot that closes the film. I would have liked to have seen more of the tiger and a lot less of Jack's annoying habits. Also starring Ken Radley, Elaine Hudson, Sheridan Harvey and Boris Brkic. Originally part of the After Dark Horrorfest III, which received a limited theatrical release in January 2009. A Lionsgate Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.

EATEN ALIVE! (1980) - Whenever Severin Films releases a new Blu-Ray of an Italian gore film, I tend to sit up and take notice (their release of DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. [1980] is second to none). Be aware that I reviewed this film previously in the 1980s under the title THE EMERALD JUNGLE, which I wasn't too kind to. Unfortunately, my opinion of the film hasn't changed, since it wallows in real-life animal slaughter and the story itself is rather boring. It tries to be different by mixing religion and cannibalism, but it comes off rather hollow. The film begins in Niagra Falls, where a native-looking fellow fires a blowgun dart in to another man's throat and he dies instantly. The film then switches over to New York City (most of the best Italian gore films start out here, including Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE [1979], Ruggero Deodato's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST [1980, which this film tries to copy to some extant], the aforementioned DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. and many others), where the same native-looking fellow kills two more men with his blowgun before he is run over by a truck when trying to escape. The police are able to ascertain that the darts were dipped in cobra venom and the killer had a roll of 8mm film on his person. They show the footage (where a man has his back pierced by two hooks and he is then attached to a swing-like device; a tip of the hat to A MAN CALLED HORSE [1970]) to Sheila Morris (Janet Agren; CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1980). Sheila, who is an heiress to an Alabama cotton mill plantation (!), is able to identify her sister Diana (Paola Senatore; THE KILLER RESERVED NINE SEATS - 1974) in the footage. She disappeared six months earlier when she joined a religious cult run by a Jim Jones-like sect leader named Jonas (Ivan Rassimov; JUNGLE HOLOCAUST - 1977 and THE MAN FROM DEEP RIVER - 1972, considered the granddaddy of the Italian cannibal genre), who now runs his "Purification Village" deep in the New Guinea jungle (One cop says this of Jonas: "A first-class nut. Dope fiend probably."). 
     After Sheila talks to Professor Carter (a glorified cameo by Mel Ferrer; CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD - 1980) to get more information on Jonas and his jungle camp, she hires drunken Vietnam War deserter Mark Butler (Robert Kerman, who also starred in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, as well as starring in hundreds of porno films using the name "Richard Bolla") to guide her through the jungles of New Guinea (for $20,000 cash and another $80,000 when her sister comes home). While in the jungle, the native guides are attacked by a tribe of cannibals, who hack away at their bodies and chow down on their arms and legs (all in loving close-up). Mark and Sheila make it to the camp, where they are introduced to Jonas, who keeps his brethren in line by making them drink a drugged liquid. Sheila finally meets Diana (Sheila: "She looks different. I can hardly recognize her." Mark: "She's stoned out of her mind!") and Sheila talks her into escaping the camp, but it is surrounded by the same tribe of cannibals, making escape nearly impossible. Nearly. Unfortunately, Sheila becomes hooked on Jonas' spiked cocktail and Jonas tests her devotion to him by raping her with a dildo dipped in cobra blood!. He also paints her nude body gold for reasons only known to Jonas. Mark tries to escape on his own, but when he spies the cannibal tribe cutting off the penis of one of their own and eating it (!), he goes back to the camp and begs Jonas to forgive him. Jonas is not buying it (and rightfully so), so he has Mark tied-up in the jungle sun. A member of the flock frees Mark from his binds and begs him to let him go with Mark when they try to escape. Mark tells Sheila not to drink any more of the drugged liquid, but she's hooked. Mark and Diana have to bound and gag Sheila so she doesn't warn Jonas that they are escaping. Sheila's actions cause the death of Diana (the cannibals cut off her left breast and leg and eat them; they then cut her stomach open and feast on her innards!) and when Sheila sees what's left of her sister (her severed head lying on the ground), she snaps out of her drugged stupor. Helicopters sent by Professor Carter pick up Sheila and Mark just before they are about to become cannibal chow, while Jonas makes his flock drink cobra venom (it tastes worst than Kool-Aid judging by the looks on the flock's faces!), causing a mass suicide back at Purification Village. Back in New York City, Sheila listens in her hospital bed as a news crew talk about the mass suicide and how Jonas' body has yet to be discovered. Mark never gets his $80,000 because Diana gave her fortune away to Jonas, meaning Sheila is penniless. The film ends on that note.
     While the film is gory as hell (besides what I have mentioned, you will see the cannibals chewing on human ears and nipples!) and full of full-frontal female nudity, it's the real-life animal violence that is a constant turn-off for me (Much of the footage of animal killings was lifted from Umberto Lenzi's THE MAN FROM DEEP RIVER [a.k.a. SACRIFICE! - 1972]). We watch as the cannibals slice the throat of a baby alligator and then slice open its stomach, while the alligator twitches in pain. I know some people are able to overlook this, but I can't. If you can fake human deaths, you can damn well fake animal deaths. Also on view are a mongoose attacking a cobra (mongeese are immune to cobra venom); a snake swallowing a monkey and a large lizard being skinned alive. The Italian's favorite drink, a bottle of J & B Scotch, also makes an appearance here. Director Umberto Lenzi, who passed away in October of 2017, has made much more entertaining films than this, including the brutal ALMOST HUMAN (1974); the weird and wonderful SPASMO (1974); and the previously mentioned CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (a.k.a. NIGHTMARE CITY - 1980), which I love for all the wrong reasons (it was the first time I actually witnessed fast-moving zombies, which would become commonplace years later). Lenzi was also responsible for what many consider the ultimate Italian cannibal gore film, CANNIBAL FEROX (a.k.a. MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY - 1981), but, it too, wallows in real-life animal killings. So much so, that I refuse to watch it again, even though I own the stunning Grindhouse Releasing Blu-Ray set. EATEN ALIVE! is known under a myriad of titles, including the previously mentioned THE EMERALD JUNGLE, EATEN ALIVE BY THE CANNIBALS and DOOMED TO DIE, which was the title Continental Video was going to release it theatrically, but they went out of business before they could do so. Everyone but Mel Ferrer was dubbed, even though it is plain to see that all were speaking English. The voices for Sheila and Diana are a ridiculous, exaggerated Southern twang, as if all people from Alabama talk like this (they don't). The Blu-Ray from Severin Films is above reproach. The film is crystal clear and the extras, including a feature-length documentary of "Queen Of The Cannibal Films" Me Me Lai (CRUCIBLE OF TERROR - 1971; who appears here as "Mowara" a native girl whose husband committed suicide, so she is fucked by her husband's three brothers, a native ritual as a way of saying goodbye!) and an interview with Lenzi (among others) and a CD of the motion picture soundtrack (music by Carlo Maria Cordio, listed in the credits as "Budy-Magliony") make this a must-own collection, even if the film is not so memorable (If you want to see a real sleazy Jim Jones-like film, I would recommend the Mexican-made GUYANA: CRIME OF THE CENTURY [1979]). The New York City footage shows Times Square as I remembered and loved it. We see billboards for the Frank Zappa concert film BABY SNAKES (1979) and the great 42nd Street Harris Theatre, which is showing a double feature, one of the films being CRY RAPE (1970). While this footage only lasts for less than a minute, it is the nostalgia factor that compelled me to watch this film again after I long decided never to watch it again. Other people may be more forgiving, but not me. Animal killing for entertainment purposes is not my cup of tea. Also starring Fiamma Maglione, Gianfranco Coduti, Franco Fantasia and Alfred Joseph Berry. A Severin Films Blu-Ray & DVD Release. Not Rated.

EATERS (2010) - At this point in my life, I'm sick to death of zombie films. Ever since the gory (but nonsensical) THE WALKING DEAD began to pull in huge numbers on TV, there has been a glut (and that's putting it politely) of low-budget zombie flicks. You can't turn around without some DVD company releasing a new zombie film and this has been going on for years now. I decided to give this one a try since it was made in Italy by Italians and because I'm a fan of most Pastaland genre films, I was hoping that this one would be different. Sadly, it isn't. It is most defininitely a reworking of George Romero's DAY OF THE DEAD (1985), except for a couple of original ideas. The film opens by laying the groundwork for the premise. During the opening credits, we see several TV anchors telling the viewing public (or what is left of them) that a mysterious plague has ravaged our planet causing the dead to come back to life, with over 600 million reported deaths (so far); we have reached the day when not one baby has been born (the plague hits the female population very hard); Neo-Nazi skinheads have taken over several countries (which I find hard to believe, even in this scenario); governments around the world are creating "extermination camps" where they kill the infected and the walking dead by shooting them in the head; and even the Pope has taken his own life by putting a bullet in his brainpan, leaving a note saying that he "doesn't want to come back" (I guess the cardinal sin of suicide no longer applies when the world is in turmoil. You would think it would be the exact opposite.). We then travel a few years ahead, where zombies outnumber the living, as we witness the lives of two mercenary-type survivors, Igor (Alex Lucchesi) and Alen (Guglielmo Favilla), who are working with scientist Gyno (Claudio Marmugi) and other survivors in a compound that is protected by an electrified fence. Gyno is trying to find a cure for the plague (At least that is what he is saying, but he seems to enjoy his job a little too much), while every once in a while Igor and Alen leave the safety of the compound to look for survivors, food and supply Gyno with zombies to experiment on (Sound familiar?). Gyno has a wide area fitted with hidden cameras, so he can secretly watch what is going on, not just in the compound, but also in "Sector B", a town that he seems to hold a lot of interest in. Igor is the more gung-ho of the duo and Alen is the more level-headed one, but they get along like good friends, ribbing each other as often as they can, while killing zombies that try to take bites out of them. Alen also has fiancee Alexis (Roselli Elmi) in an electrified cage, as flashbacks show she volunteered to use an experimental serum to get her pregnant (no human babies have been born for years and finding an uninfected female is nearly impossible), but it seems she became infected with the plague and did not turn into a zombie, something Gyno seems to find very interesting. Alen believes that Alexis may be the answer to ending the plague, but no one else seems to agree with him (Gyno has more nefarious plans for her). We watch as two compound employees seem to enjoy using a female zombie (who is missing her lower half and tied to a wall) as target practice, something both Alen and Igor find disgusting. Humanity is becoming worse than the zombies (Sound familiar?). The remainder of the film is really nothing but a showcase for finding ways to kill zombies in gory ways; such as a zombie stripper still in her dance outfit; a mechanic Alen once knew who is run over by their Jeep and cut in half, a painter that likes to draw the severed heads of zombies in exchange for cans of beer, and so on. We also witness a band of Neo-Nazis (the head of the band is called "Fuhrer" [Fabiano Lioi]) as they turn killing zombies into a deadly game: Participants are given one bullet in their weapons to kill an approaching zombie and if they don't shoot them in the head, they get eaten. We also watch as Gyno lets all his zombies go free in the compound (He kept them docile by letting them watch TV, the only instance in the film that holds any Romero-type social commentary) and concentrates on Alexis. While Igor and Alen are out of the compound, the freed zombies begin chowing-down on the only humans left in the now-unsafe compound (the two assholes who used the female zombie as target practice get nice, juicy deaths). Alen becomes disenchanted with life when he discovers Patient X, the original spreader of the plague (played by Steve Sylvester, who also supplied some songs to the soundtrack), is nothing but a female-hating wannabe-priest who took joy is spreading the disease (Alen puts a bullet in his head), but when Igor discovers an uninfected female by the name of Cristina (Elsa Ferretti), Alan regains his faith in humanity. For some reason the zombies kidnap Cristina but don't eat her, which causes both Alen and Igor (who may have been infected) to go to Sector B, where they discover that some zombies can talk and are becoming organized. It seems that Gyno knew this all the time (thanks to his experiments and watching them on his hidden cameras) and he is using Alexis to give birth of the first zombie baby, in hopes of creating a new living dead society, which he calls "a continuation of our species", that will replace humans on Earth. Will Gyno succeed in his plan? (Nope) Will Alen & Alexis reunite? (Nope) Will I ever watch another zombie film again? (Yeah, probably)  It took two directors, Marco Ristori & Luca Boni, to make this film (Ristori also co-wrote the screenplay with Germano Tarricone), and Uwe Boll (RAMPAGE - 2009) is the Presenter of the film, even though he really had nothing to do with the making of it (He gets a "Very Special Thanks" in the closing credits). I don't know why the directors thought they needed Boll's name above the title since a lot of people consider him a hack (Personally, I don't. I think he has made some very entertaining and socially relevant films in the past few years), but Boll then did take an active producing role in their next three films as directing partners: ZOMBIE MASSACRE (2013); MORNING STAR (2014) and ZOMBIE MASSACRE 2: REICH OF THE DEAD (2015). Although EATERS has it's share of very gory moments, such as watching a zombie eating his own guts, various living dead makeups that are quite effective as they eat humans like they would a pizza, and some bloody head shots, some scenes are enhanced with quite noticable CGI, including blood spurts and a particularly hoary explosion in the finale. The film also dates itself by mentioning that Osama Bin Laden has never been caught. Since this takes place in the future, it's a mistake that should have been fixed in post-production (I know it was made in 2010 before Bin Laden was shot and killed, but the DVD was not released in the U.S. until 2013). The DVD offers you two choices to watch this film: In Italian with English subtitles (the preferred method) or English-dubbed. Be aware that the dubbed version contains some cringe-worthy dialogue, such as when Igor makes a promise to Alen and Alen replies, "Swear on that worm between your legs!" The film does have some funny incidental scenes, such as Igor reading the real magazine "Girls And Corpses" (a zine I never understood the allure for, but to each their own) and some other quick flashes that I'll leave for you to discover if you decide to watch this film. It is by no means the worst zombie film I have seen, but that should not be considered a ringing endorsement. I will say this: It was photographed a lot better (by Paco Ferrari) than most low-budget films and does have a sense of danger at every turn, but in the end, the film doesn't add up to much and leaves it wide-open for a sequel (which hasn't happened yet). Proceed at your own risk. Also starring Paolo Spartaco Palazzi, Roberto Mariotti, Riccardo Floris, Matteo Cantu and Francesco Malcom. An E One Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated. To see a collection of DVD covers of zombie films made post-WALKING DEAD (from 2010 - On, and, believe me, I only scratched the surface), click HERE.

EDGE OF THE AXE (1987) - Someone is swinging a mean axe in Paddock, Texas, dispatching its denizens and spreading fear throughout the town. What's the connection between the butchering of an ambulance driver, a waitress, a prostitute and the wife of a pig farmer? I'll make it real simple for you. All of the above victims used to work at a psychiatric hospital and one of the townspeople used to be a patient there. The list of suspects is large. As a matter of fact, there's enough red herrings on hand to stock a large lake. It's up to you to guess which one it is. (Hint: It's Barton Faulks' girlfriend [Christina Marie Lane].) Besides the fairly graphic axe attacks (the blood flows rather freely as heads and fingers are lopped off and close-ups of the axe entering bodies are shown), this film has very little to offer in way of entertainment. The storyline is lethargic and dopey, the acting sub-par (this is a Spanish production and some of the actors are dubbed) and the direction is static. Director Joseph Braunstein is actually Jose Larraz, who directed the erotic (and far superior) VAMPYRES (1974); as well as  WHIRLPOOL (a.k.a. PERVERSION FLASH - 1970); DEVIATION - 1971; THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED (a.k.a. SCREAM AND DIE -1973); VIOLATION OF THE BITCH (1978), THE GOLDEN LADY (1979); STIGMA (1980); BLACK CANDLES (1982); REST IN PIECES (1987 - filmed back to back with EDGE with many of the same stars); and SAVAGE LUST (1989). Patty Shepard and Jack Taylor, both veterans of Spanish horror cinema, have very little to do here besides being lambs for the slaughter. To sum it up, EDGE OF THE AXE lacks the edge needed to make it a film  of viewable quality. It's like watching grass grow. Also starring Page Moseley, Fred Holliday and Alicia Moro. A Forum Home Video Release. Unrated.

THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (1974) - Here's an Italian EXORCIST (1973) rip-off (the original Italian title is "L'OSSESSA") with a slight twist. It deals with demonic sexual possession rather than straight-up demonic possession. But first a little background: This film was originally released theatrically to English-speaking territories under the title ENTER THE DEVIL, but when it failed to ignite a spark, they renamed it to the above title to try and fool stoners into believing they were going to watch a sequel to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975), even going as far as to use that film's "red lips" motif, which was the #1 midnight movie for years. It didn't work, so later theatrical releases used various titles, such as THE SEXORCIST, THE TORMENTED and a few others to try and fool people that they were going to see different films (not an uncommon practice for genre films of the 70's & 80's). It also fell into the Public Domain, where it was released on many DVD horror compilations and a few stand-alone VHS & DVD releases. This was one film I could swear would never make it onto Blu-Ray, but I'll be damned if Code Red didn't do just that, releasing the film in it's original aspect ratio on U.S. home video for the very first time and I have to say for all the inherent flaws in the print (emulsion scratches, speckling of dirt), it has never looked better. It actually made me appreciate the film a lot more than I did when watching all those muddy PD fullscreen prints that have been floating around for years. After opening with the standard horror scrawl "This Film Is Based On A True Story" (yeah, right), we are introduced to art restorer Danila (Stella Carnacina; NO WAY OUT - 1973) and her boyfriend Carlo (Gianrico Tondinelli) as they head to a closed-down deconsecrated church to meet one of her professors to look for statues to buy (besides being an art restorer, Danila is also an expert on statues). In Carlo words, they look at some "moldy old statues", and one in particular catches Danila's eye immediately: A statue of a strange man crucified on a cross. The seller tells her that last year a female tourist took one look at that statue, screamed out that it was "the work of the Devil" and ran away. Danila asks the seller why this church was deconsecrated and he replies that a century earlier, some of the church's members were caught holding "satanic orgies", so the church was shut down and deconsecrated. The Professor buys the statue based on Danila's expertise and they take it back to the restoration room at the University (Danila rides in the back of the truck to makes sure the statue doesn't slip off and we can see that the statue is affecting her somehow). Back at the University, they remove the life-sized figure from the cross and notice that it was carved out of a single piece of olive wood (Carlo says, "It's almost like he was born inside the tree."). That night, Danila goes to a party thrown by her parents, Mario (Chris Avram; A BAY OF BLOOD - 1971) and Luisa (Lucretia Love; THE KILLER RESERVED NINE SEATS - 1974), where people dance to Hammond organ-heavy instrumental pop music. While Mario is playing cards with some friends, Luisa and her secret nameless lover (Gabriele Tinti; ENDGAME - 1983) sneak into one of the bedrooms for some hanky panky. We then see Luisa totally nude on the bed while her lover throws rose petals on her body and then begins whipping her body with the thorny rose stems, cutting up her breasts and torso. And she likes it! Danila spies on them going at it through the venetian blinds and then leaves the party in disgust, heading back to the University to continue restoring a painting. While she is working on the painting, the wooden figure behind her comes to life (in the visage of genre actor Ivan Rassimov; THE HUMANOID - 1979), whom we soon find out is good old Satan himself!  He strips Danila naked (with one yank of her clothes!) and makes violent love to her on a table, while fire and brimstone twirl around them (including the cross he was crucified on catching on fire). We then see Danila's eyes, as she is continuing to restore the painting. Was what just happened all in her head? Don't bet on it. Danila tells Chris what she just experienced, so they decide to move in together, but first Chris has to go to her parents house to get their blessing, so he doesn't come off as "irresponsible". Danila goes back to her apartment to pick up some things, but as she is walking up the swirling staircase to get to her apartment, she hears footsteps behind her and then a chorus of people chanting some satanic verse. She is overcome with sexual desire and starts moaning loudly while touching herself. When Danila's parents arrive and notice her pocketbook outside her apartment door, they let themselves in, only to discover Danila masturbating wildly in her own bed, scratching her torso with her own fingernails (Luisa immediately thinks back to when her lover whipped her with the rose stems). While Luisa leaves the bedroom to call a doctor, Mario asks his daughter, "Did it hurt?", to which she replies, "I nearly died of pleasure!" and tries to get Daddy into some incest action. Mario slaps her senseless and when the doctor arrives, he sedates Danila, telling her parents that the cause of her bizarre behavior is probably due to the stress of her job and what she really needs is some quiet time in the country (Where can I find a doctor like this?). Danila's parents drive her and Chris to their country estate (While in the car, Danila, Chris and Mario have a mind-boggling discussion about bridges and Mario's profession as an architect, where he says that he designs houses "on a planned economic program and are designed for a very specified socio-economic need." WTF?!?), while Luisa acts disinterested and distant. They get a flat tire and, while Chris and Mario change the tire, Danila goes exploring and discovers an old building. The caretaker explains to her that it was once an Etruscan Temple to the god Ba'al and tells her she is welcome to explore. While she is walking through one of the building's many underground tunnels, she watches as a satanic ritual takes place, where a naked woman is on an altar and Satan himself make an appearance. Satan crucifies Danila by driving spikes through her hands and feet on a wooden cross (the only real gory sequence in the entire film). Danila screams, only to discover that she is in bed in the country estate. Was all that just happened in her head? Don't bet on it. Mario discovers the scratches on Luisa's torso and accuses her of "masochistic tomfoolery". He tells Luisa that he would rather see Danila dead than have her turn into a whore like her mother. When the doctor notices signs of the stigmata on Danila's hands and feet, he calls in a psychiatrist and other professionals. They notice that all signs of the stigmata are suddenly gone, so they recommend that Danila go through an exorcism so it will convince her psychologically that she is cured. What they don't realize is that she is actually possessed. Luisa talks to Reverend Antonio (Piero Gerhini; CONVOY BUSTERS - 1978), who assures her that an exorcism is nothing to be taken lightly and insists on seeing Danila before he agrees that an exorcism is needed. As soon as Reverend Antonio steps into Mario & Luisa's country home, Danila begins screaming and banging her noggin on the headboard of her bed. After just seeing this, the Reverend believes an exorcism is in order (Really? For screaming and repeatedly banging her head? She could at least spider-walked down the stairs or rotated her head 360°.) and has Danila taken to the Convent Of Our Lady Of Sorrow to prepare her for the exorcism. The Reverend pulls Father Xeno (Luigi Pistilli; MILANO CALIBRO 9 - 1972) out of retirement to perform the exorcism, but Father Xeno is well aware before the Reverend and Chris arrive at his doorstep that the Devil is afoot (he is already dressed in his "exorcism" outfit). Before he can perform the exorcism, they must catch Danila, who has torn the metal grate off her window and has escaped into town, banging on all the doors with her blood-soaked hands. They manage to catch her, but Father Xeno's first try at exorcising Danila turns out badly, as the good Father Xeno nearly succumbs to Danila's sexual charms. He goes back to his room for some self-flagellation to cure him of such sexual desires. The next time he tries, it becomes much more physical, but not in a sexual way. Danila rips off several links of a big-ass chain and begins to whip Father Xeno with it while he speaks the words of exorcism. Danila froths at the mouth and then begins to throw-up green chunks of something. We then see Chris touch Danila's face, which now looks possession-free and the film freezes at that frame while the end credits roll. There is a lot to dislike about this film, especially the direction of hack Italian exploitation specialist Mario Gariazzo, best known on U.S. shores as "Roy Garrett", who directed such films as the average "poliziesco" THE BLOODY HANDS OF THE LAW - 1973; the extremely weird EYES BEHIND THE STARS - 1977 (probably his best film); the simply awful sex comedy A COMING OF ALIENS - 1978; the late-in-the-game giallo film PLAY MOTEL - 1979; the bad-beyond-words E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982) clone BROTHER FROM SPACE - 1984; the weak cannibal flick AMAZONIA: THE CATHERINE MILES STORY - 1985; the lame erotic thriller LOVE WEB (1988); and many others too terrible to mention here (he passed away in 2002). Bad direction and makeup effects aside (This film's idea of showing Danila possessed is to blacken her eyes and give her severely chapped lips!), screenwriter Ambrogio Molteni (with additional dialogue supplied by overseas dubbing artist supreme Ted Rusoff) does have a germ of an idea that nearly succeeds, but the lack of support from the director (In his defense, the disjointed feel of the film may have something to do with the way it was edited to achieve an R-Rating in the States, such as Luisa's lover reappearing two-thirds into the film and threatening her life. We then never see him again.) and the almost total lack of any substantial gore nearly does the film in. Nearly. The ample full-frontal nudity and horrendous dubbing, as well as some highly atmospheric sequences (the statue first coming to life; the Etruscan Temple ritual), will keep your mind fully occupied, as you'll be wondering half the time what in the hell these people are talking about. Some of the things that come out of their mouths matter-of-factly will make you rewind the Blu-Ray to make sure you heard it right. And you probably did. While there are far better Italian EXORCIST clones, like BEYOND THE DOOR (1974), THE TEMPTER (1974) and THE NIGHT CHILD (1975), where else are you going to see a woman eat her own pubic hair and take healthy bites out of her bed sheets? I don't think you will ever see that anywhere but here. Also starring Umberto Raho, Giuseppe Addabati, Maria Teresa Piaggio, Edoardo Toniolo, Gianni Benedetto, Elisa Mantellini, and Ignazio Bevilacqua. Originally released on fullscreen VHS from Continental Video, with a terrible fullscreen DVD from Alpha Video years later (not counting all the budget releases in between). The widescreen Blu-Ray, from Code Red, does have scenes containing emulsion scratches, yet the picture is sharp and colorful. It is obvious to the human eye that it will never look any better unless some other company decides to do a major restoration on it, which I find highly doubtful. It was nice watching the film as it was originally composed and does add a lot of information to the screen that was missing from all the other presentations. If you are in the mood for good-old 70's Italian goofiness, you could do a lot worse than this. Believe me, I have. Rated R.

ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN (1973) - Submitted for your approval...oops! Wrong anthology. While Rod Serling is the (offscreen) narrator of this low-budget supernatural anthology film, he had nothing to do with the script of any of these three tales and we are all worse off for it. The film opens with an on-screen crawl (narrated by someone other than Serling) that states that between the years of 1949 to 1970, a certain Dr. Jonathan Rankin (who never existed) documented 453 cases of the paranormal and discovered that the 453 people involved in those cases are buried in only 23 cemeteries. These cases have been dubbed the "Rankin Cluster Phenomena" and the stories that follow are taken from those case files (Yeah, right!). The first story is about a trio of friends playing pool who send a horny geek to the house of a girl of ill repute. Problem is, they send him to the wrong address and he ends up getting accidentally shot dead by the old woman who lives there. At the cemetery, the dead geek's mother puts a curse on the three friends and tells them every seven days one of them will die a horrible death. After one friend is killed when he is hit with a car, the second friend hops on a plane on the 14th day after the funeral and ends up sitting next to a priest. He tells the whole story to the priest, but the priest tells him it was just a coincidence and God will protect him. When the priest disembarks the plane at his stop, the plane crashes on takeoff, killing the second friend. When the priest (who now believes the story) tries to warn the third and final friend on the 21st day, he's too late. He went skydiving. The second story is about a young boy who loses his dog and discovers a mysterious hole in the middle of a field. Spooky sounds eminate from the hole, so some townspeople go to investigate and disagree with each other about what could be in the hole. The people lower the boy's father down the hole, he screams (and a photo of him falls off the wall at home, breaking in front of his wife) and when they pull him up, he's nothing but but a babbling insane idiot who is eventually committed to an asylum for the rest of his life. That's the (w)hole story. The third tale is about a Senator and his wife who stop at a bridge to give a girl a lift (All she says is, "Take me home!"), only to later discover that she is a ghost who died when her car went over the bridge many years earlier. It's an old urban legend told many times before (and much better than this). The finale recaps all three stories (again!) in painstaking detail, as the offscreen narrator (again, not Serling) tries to find a rational supernatural explanation for each story. He fails miserably and the viewer suffers in ways that would make a hooker blush.  The best way to simply describe this film is awful. Amateurish in nearly aspect, from the acting, the photography, the library music score and, especially, the direction by Harry Thomason, who also gave us SO SAD ABOUT GLORIA (1973 - a.k.a. VISIONS OF EVIL) and THE DAY IT CAME TO EARTH (1977), among others. While the second tale (about the hole in the ground) does have some creepy moments (it reminded me a little bit of THE PIT - 1981), the rest of the film is pretty rough going for the viewer. It's endlessly talky and padded out with scenes of people walking or running through fields, cars driving down roads and nature scenes. The third tale is especially superfluous, as it insists on giving us the complete backstory of the ghostly girl on the bridge. All that information (including an achingly-long love ballad that plays while scenes of the girl and her boyfriend frolic in a field) kills any supernatural interest the story holds. We all know how that story ends anyway. This segment never seems to end. The most painful part, though, is the finale, which condenses the previous 75 minutes and explains to us what we just saw for another 15 minutes (!), while the narrator prattles on-and-on, spouting supernatural mumbo-jumbo. It's rather obvious that this was tacked-on to further pad-out the film's running time to feature length. For Rod Serling completists only, although I believe that Harry Thomason must have had something to hold over Serling's head (Maybe some incriminating photos?) to get him to narrate a turd like this. Speaking of Thomason, he later became a successful TV producer with his wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (DESIGNING WOMEN [1986 - 1993] and EVENING SHADE [1990 - 1994]) and gained some notoriety with his involvement in the Whitewater Scandal with good friends Bill and Hillary Clinton. ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN was filmed in Arkansas and stars many of the same people that would appear in the films of director S.F. Brownrigg (DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT - 1973; KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN - 1973; POOR WHITE TRASH PART II - 1974), including Gene Ross, Bill Thurman, Rosie Holotik and Michael Harvey. Also starring Bob Ginnaven (a regular Thomason player), Gary Brockette, Robert Holton and John Leslie. A United Home Video VHS Release. Also available on a double feature DVD (in widescreen) from Code Red, with Juan Piquer Simon's WHERE TIME BEGAN (1978). Rated PG.

ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND (1980) - Amiable Hong Kong horror comedy that's full of great martial arts fights as well as some gory supernatural shenanigans. Director Samo Hung (WHEELS ON MEALS - 1984; HEART OF DRAGON - 1985) stars as Bold Cheung, a poor fat slob who prides himself on his bravery, when in fact he's scared all the time (even when he sleeps, he dreams about two angry ghosts who chase him and take bites out of his flesh). One day, a friend of Cheung's (who has a nasty mole on the side of his nose that sprouts a huge hair!) challenges him to a game of "Peel Apple", where Cheung must peel an apple in front of a mirror without breaking the skin. If the skin isn't in one piece when he is done peeling, bad supernatural things will happen to him (Those crazy Chinese and their even crazier superstitions!). Cheung reluctantly agrees to the challenge and that night begins peeling an apple alone in front of a mirror at his friend's house, unaware that his friends have tricked-out the house in an elaborate practical joke in an attempt to get Cheung to break the skin. Cheung does just that; he breaks the skin and actually unleashes a female ghost with a horribly burned face and extremely long arms, who pulls Cheung's mole-faced friend into the mirror and tries to do the same to Cheung, but he cuts-off one of her hands and pins it to the floor with a knife. Cheung returns home and nearly catches his wife cheating on him with his boss, Master Tam (Wong Ha). Master Tam wants Cheung dead, so he has his underling, Lau (Cheung Ti-Hong), hire an expert in witchcraft, Chin Hoi (Chan Lung), to kill Cheung using his supernatural powers. Using Cheung's claim to being the bravest man in town, a deadly trap is set when Cheung is challenged to spend the night in a haunted temple. Cheung gets some unexpected help from Tsui (Fat Chung), an associate of Chin Hoi who doesn't believe in using witchcraft to do harm, especially death. Cheung is locked in the temple and must follow Tsui's instructions to the letter if he is to survive the night. The night includes reanimated corpses, hopping vampires and several close calls, but Cheung escapes with his life, only to let his damned pride make him accept another bet to spend another night in the temple for 50 pieces of silver. Cheung once again gets some help from Tsui to combat Chin Hoi's magic spells, but when one of the counterspells fails to work, Cheung will have to use his martial arts skills to battle a hopping vampire, defeating it and putting Chin Hoi in traction. Cheung returns home to find a pool of blood on the floor and his wife missing. He is arrested and imprisoned for his wife's murder (even though her body is not found), where he learns that he's to be beheaded the following morning! Cheung breaks out of prison and joins forces with Tsui, where they fight Chin Hoi in the finale to a battle of witchcraft, which includes zombies, tiger fighters and Cheung transforming into a fighting Monkey God (complete with monkey sound effects!).  Full of Samo Hung's patented broad humor and kung fu skills (the man may be fat, but he can move as quickly and agilely as a man half his size), as well as some gruesome makeup effects and gravity-defying wire work, ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND (which spawned several sequels and countless copycats) is engrossing and sometimes hilarious hybrid of martial arts and horror genres. Samo Hung's much put-upon Cheung is a comical everyman whose only sin is his vanity. He's says he's afraid of nothing (the opposite is true) and he suffers greatly for that sin. Not only does he have to fight reanimated corpses, ghosts and hopping vampires sent upon him by Chin Hoi, he must also suffer the indignities of a cheating wife and a boss who would rather have him dead than find out. This leads to a series of comical martial arts fights, including one where Cheung fights everyone in a restaurant with a possessed left arm. Some of the art direction is truly inspired, especially in the haunted temple, and the weird visuals on view, including the sight of a naked Cheung painted head-to-toe with protective spells, makes this film a sure bet for fans of Hong Kong weirdness. The closing shot, between Cheung and his unfaithful wife, is one of the most audacious conclusions of any film I have seen in recent memory. You'll either be cheering Cheung on or making a call to a battered wife helpline reporting a serious crime. Also starring Dick Wei, Lam Ching-Ying and To Siu-Ming. Also known as SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS. A Media Asia Group DVD Release in Cantonese with removable English subtitles. Not Rated.

END OF THE LINE (2006) - Something strange is happening in the Montreal subway system and only nurse Karen (Ilona Elkin) seems to be picking up on it. The hospital she works at has seen an upswing in crazy people screaming about "demons" (one intern comments that there's a full moon tonight and an eclipse is about to happen in a couple of hours as well), but when one of Karen's patients, Viviane (Christine Lan), commits suicide by jumping in front of a subway train after seeing one of the demons (A man whose mouth has been fused shut with maggots and worms) and leaves Karen an envelope containing drawings depicting demons at the hospital and subway, Karen heads down to the subway to investigate. After nearly getting robbed and raped by scumbag Patrick (Robin Wilcock) on the platform, Karen is saved by good guy Mike (Nicolas Wright) and they board the train. This is when things get extremely weird. The train grounds to a complete stop and Mike is stabbed in the back by seemingly normal middle-aged Betty (Joan McBride), who is suddenly brandishing a knife in the shape of a crucifix after she receives a message on her pager. As a matter of fact, many people on the train receive the exact same message on their pagers and they all begin pulling the same type crucifix knife out of their matching satchels and start stabbing and slicing the rest of the passengers while muttering "God is love!" or "God loves you!" over and over. It seems all these psychos are under the control of some cult-like figurehead called the "Reverend" (David L. McCallum; who, up to this point, we only see on poster and pamphlet covers strewn throughout the hospital and subway system), who leads a doomsday group called "Voice Of Eternal" and tonight's the night that the Reverend's prophecy is fulfilled. A bunch of survivors, including Karen, Mike, Neil (Neil Napier), John (Tim Rozon), Sarah (Nina M. Fillis), Julie (Emily Shelton), Davis (Danny Blanco Hall) and Frankie (John Vamvas), escape into the subway tunnels and temporarily hide in a workers break room, where they discover all TV and radio signals are blocked (every channel on TV has a blood-red liquid flowing on-screen). Everyone except Davis and Frankie (who are subway workers) leave the break room and head through the tunnels in hopes of reaching the freedom of outside, but the will have to run a gauntlet, which includes a gang of possessed young children (one of whom gets a crowbar planted in his head); that scumbag Patrick, who nearly rapes both Karen and Julie; and a horde of the Reverend's unholy rollers. When the Reverend makes an appearance on TV and pleads to all his followers to continue the killings to "save all their souls", things get even weirder. By the end of the film, all of the non-believers have split-up and gone their separate ways looking for ways out of the subway while being chased by different factions of the Reverend's followers. Just as it all seems hopeless, all the pagers go off again with another message and all of the Reverend's followers, with the exception of Patrick, stop their killing and swallow cyanide capsules. Is the Apocalypse truly upon us? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.  This is a tight, suspenseful thriller that greatly benefits from not playing its entire hand too soon. Director/producer/screenwriter Maurice Devereaux, who previously gave us the awful BLOOD SYMBOL (1984/1991) and the decent SLASHERS (2001), brings his "A" Game here, as there are scenes on view that will send chills down your spine. One such scene is when the religious fanatics, led by Betty, tells Frankie to kill his pregnant wife Brenda (Lori Graham), but when he refuses, Brenda stabs him instead and then the fanatics take turns stabbing Brenda, removing her unborn baby from the womb and placing it between Frankie and Brenda's bodies. Once you witness this atrocity, you will not soon forget it. Devereaux keeps the viewer on their toes throughout, as we are never really certain of the extent of this apocalypse (Is it confined to the subway or is it global, as the Reverend would have us believe?) and who among the cast is part of the conspiracy. I won't reveal the ending here, because it will ruin your enjoyment of what precedes it. The film is bloody as hell, with multiple stabbings, slit throats, a nasty axe to the head, near-decapitation by sword, a lower lip bitten off and other gory mayhem, yet there is no gunplay at all, which is totally refreshing. The standout here is Robin Wilcock as the rape-happy Patrick, who is willing to go against the Reverend's puritanical wishes just to get some pussy and when he reveals later in the film that he's still a virgin, it brings new layers to the evil he causes. END OF THE LINE is an exciting, cerebral thriller that never loses focus, even when it is shifting gears. Good show! Also starring Kent McQuaid, Robert Vezina and David Schaap. Available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment/Critical Mass, but be aware that the boneheads that designed the DVD cover gives the ending away! Unrated.

ENTER THE DEVIL (1972) - Surprisingly well-made regional horror film (shot in Terlingua, Texas) that I never heard of before. When a vacationing rock collector turns up missing, the county sheriff sends out his deputy, Jase (David Cass, who also co-wrote the screenplay), to look for him. Little does he realize that he is about to become involved in a series of murders committed by "The Disciples Of Death", a satanic cult whose members include people in high places. Jase’s investigation leads him to a hunting lodge run by Glen Phelps (Josh Bryant) where some of the hunters disappear. Together, with the help of an anthropologist (Irene Kelly) whose specialty is "weird cults", Jase and Glen try to unravel the series of mysterious deaths only to find out that your friends are not what they seem. For a low-budget horror film, it delves into some unusual subject matter including illegal aliens, political intrigue and race relations. Although low in the blood department (most of the carnage takes place off-screen), this obsure little thriller (ENTER THE DEVIL is also known as DISCIPLES OF DEATH) is well-acted, tightly paced and contains good location photography. Director Frank Q. Dobbs later went on to make the asinine western comedy UPHILL ALL THE WAY (1985) and then disappeared into obscurity. Also starring John Martin, Carle Bensen and Norris Domingue. See if you can find this film listed in any of the reference books. A Something Weird Video Release struck from an extremely scratchy source print. Rated PG.

ESCAPE FROM CORAL COVE (1986) - This is a Hong Kong rip-off of FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) and not a very good one. A group of spoiled rich kids spend their vacation at the exclusive Coral Cove resort and are stalked and killed by a dead green CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON-like sex maniac (with bugged-out eyes) who was buried at sea. The remaining survivors hire a ghostbuster (!) to rid them of their problem, but are left to their own devices when the ghostbuster is staked through the heart. An amateur scientist injects the sex killer with a formula invented by his bratty kid brother, causing the demon from the deep to inflate and explode. The version I viewed was heavily edited, deleting most of the gore and leaving some major holes in the plot. While it does have some beautiful underwater photography and a spattering of nudity, this film is basically boring stuff, thanks mainly to the severe editing (there is one scene that will take you by surprise, though). Directed and co-written by Terence Chang. Starring Elsie Chan, Yin Cheung Joh, Louis Fong, Fu Lik, Yuen-Ching Leung and Roy Cheung as the creature-like sex killer. Available on VHS & VCD from Ocean Shores Home Video in the edited form. There is an official DVD of ESCAPE FROM CORAL COVE floating around on some unknown label, but stories abound that only the 81 minute edited version exists and that it was trimmed before it was shown theatrically. We may never see the uncut version. Not Rated, but no harder than a soft R in this version. Subtitled in Chinese and English.

THE ETERNAL EVIL OF ASIA (1995) - Crazy Hong Kong horror film about hexes and enchantments. We are first informed about how the bodies of recently deceased children are used to carry out hexes (apparently, dead children like to go to the movies, so if one asks you to take him/her to the bathroom in the middle of watching a film, you will more than likely not come back alive!). The film then switches to a father who is yelling at his son for eating too much Cup O' Noodles ("Don't you know they kill you!"). We then see a mysterious man walking down an alley (stray cats explode as he walks by!) carrying a voodoo doll with the father's photo on it. The father, who has just buried his elderly parents, gets a phone call from his mother and father telling him that it's cold where they are. As the mysterious man throws dirt on and then pierces the voodoo doll's head with a needle, the father sees his dead parents in the apartment and hacks away at them with a meat cleaver, not knowing he is actually killing his wife and son (and two neighbors who show up at his door to complain about the noise). When the doll is set on fire, the father falls off his terrace and is impaled on some flourescent light tubes below. We then view a bunch of chatty women at a hair salon talking about marriage, sex and enchantments. The mysterious man has put a hex (using another voodoo doll) on May's (Ellen Chan) boyfriend, Bon (Chan Kwok-Bong), and when they have sex later that night, Bon is unable to perform (He hits himself in the crotch and screams, "My little dick!"). After some supernatural, ghostly stuff happens at the salon, May goes to a good witch, who believes all this bad luck is related to a trip her boyfriend took to Thailand a few weeks earlier with three of his friends (the father who took a header off the terrace was a member of that party). The good witch puts an enchanted worm into May's body for protection (don't ask) and tells her to find out exactly what happened on that Thailand trip.  May confronts Bon (who is visited by the ghost of the dead father, who has flashing flourescent tubes protruding out of his body) and he reluctantly tells her the truth. It seems that when they were in Thailand, Bon and his three friends visited a whorehouse, got into trouble (a hooker in the whorehouse screams out, "I've got AIDS!"), ended up lost in the woods and happened upon the mysterious man's house, who turns out to be a wizard. Things rapidly go downhill from there. It involves sex slaves, competing wizards, lots of ooze, some wirework stunts and a love potion that ends up it the wrong hands.  Things pick up considerably in this Cat III film once Bon relates his Thailand flashback. Some of the surreal scenes include: The wizard turning the head of Kong (Elvis Tsui) into a giant penis, complete with piss squirting out of the top when he gets nervous (One of his friends says, "You are an ugly dickhead!"); Two competing male/female wizards who fly through the air while fucking doggie-style; A cursed friend turns into a cannibal in a busy restaurant (he bites off the hand of a female patron), which results in him eating his own left arm before he dies; and many more outrageous scenes. As with many of the Cat III titles of the time (the equivalent of an NC-17 rating in our country), there is plenty of nudity and sex to go along with the violence, but some of the sex scenes seem edited, especially the scene of Bon's three friends raping the wizard's sister (it's really not their fault, since the sister meant the love potion to be delivered to Bon, but his three friends receive it instead), which is the reason why the wizard (who looks like Jet Li's twin brother) is killing the four friends. Director Chin Man Kei (SEX & ZEN 2 - 1996; THE HAUNTED SCHOOL - 2006) fills the screen with flashy camerawork, bloody violence (including a tribute to Pinhead in HELLRAISER - 1987), off-the-wall humor (some of it way beyond the boundaries of good taste) and the prerequisite fights between good and bad wizards. Since most Asian horror films nowadays are more concerned with ghosts of the wet stringy-haired variety who hide in the shadows, it's nice to watch one that's a throwback to 70's & 80's Hong Kong horror cinema, with a modern sexual twist (wait until you witness the invisible fellatio scene!). Worth your time. Also starring Lily Chung, Ben Ng, Julie Lee, Bobby Au Yeung, Ng Shui Ting, Yuen King Tan and Baat Leung Gam. Available on DVD by Tai Seng Video Marketing with burned-in Mandarin and English subtitles, some of the translations being extremely funny. I especially liked when the Thai wizard called Bon and his three friends "Hongkies"! Not Rated.

THE EVIL (1977) - The haunted house has been a major subject in horror films since the days of the silents, but the 70's turned out some very good (if not great) ones, including THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973; one of my all-time favs); BURNT OFFERINGS (1976); THE SENTINEL (1977; actually a haunted apartment building, but let's not be picky); THE LEGACY - 1979;  THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979); and many more. More than most of them have been a doorway to Hell which is blocked by a religious object or person, who sometimes win and sometimes fail spectacularly. Well, I'm glad to report that this Roger Corman-financed film (he's an uncredited Executive Producer) manages to work all of those ideas into a scant 89 minutes and it is gory (but, sadly, no nudity) as the 70's would allow an R-Rated film. The film opens as caretaker Sam (Ed Bakey) enters the cursed "Vargas House" and mumbles to himself how rumors of death to those who broke in have occurred there. He is preparing the house for a new couple (more on them later) and goes down to the basement to clean the boiler which, by the looks of it, hasn't been used in 100 years. Suddenly, the boiler shoots out a large plume of fire and Sam is engulfed in flames, running aimlessly for his life. Cut to Professor C. J. Arnold (Richard Crenna (DEATH SHIP - 1980), a college professor who has no room for God in his life because he only believes in the tangibles, and his wife Dr. Caroline Arnold (Joanna Pettet; DOUBLE EXPOSURE - 1982), who will soon prove has powers that her husband will put his life on the line for. They are being shown the "Vargas House" by a Realtor (the late Milton Selzer), who explains the whole sordid history of the house (it hasn't been occupied for the last hundred years since Dr. Vargas died and no one wants to live in it; one time the city council voted to tear it down but changed their minds) and since C.J. doesn't believe in curses or such things, he immediately accepts the offer to buy the house. As soon as Caroline enters the door, she sees a specter (turns out it is the spirit of Dr. Vargas), who points her to a plaque outside which says: "Disturb not he who is held in here with chains." Since Caroline knows her husband won't believe her, she keeps what she has seen and read to herself. The Professor and his wife are soon joined by a few of their friends: Professor Raymond Guy (Andrew Prine; BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD - 1974), who is much more down to Earth and is willing to believe anything (within reason); his not-so-secret squeeze Laurie Belman (Mary Louise Weller); Pete Brooks (George O'Hanlon Jr.); Felicia Allen (Lynne Moody); Mary Harper (Cassie Yates) and her dog Kaiser; and handyman Dwight (Robert Viharo; BARE KNUCKLES - 1977; here billed as "George Viharo"). It's not soon after everyone is in the house that the supernatural fun begins. When one of the girls finds herself trapped in the air, hanging by a cable, Dwight offers to help, only to have an electric cable fall from the ceiling, wrap around his neck and electrocute him. Kaiser starts acting strange and runs to hide in the house; when he is found by Mary, he attacks her and seriously punctures her neck. Two of the girls find the toasted body of Sam when they check the box of a dumbwaiter and he comes rolling out. But the real fun starts when C.J. goes down to the basement and finds a hidden door in the floor with an iron cross across the handles protecting whatever is inside from coming out. C.J. pulls out the cross and is then called by his wife to come upstairs to see something. It is then, as soon as C.J. leaves the basement, that the door bursts open and the house starts to shake like it was hit by an earthquake. All the window shutters and doors close (most of the windows have bars on them, so there is no escape from them) and no matter how hard they try, there is no way out of the house. Felicia is attacked by an invisible force, who tosses her around like a ragdoll and tears off all her clothes except for her bra and panties, all while an unseen voice cackles with delight. When C.J. and Pete find a way to escape from an upper floor, they use some cable to try and lower Pete down, but the cable becomes too hot and Pete catches on fire and falls to his death (Fire plays an important part in the plot, which everyone will soon find out). Raymond nearly cuts off his hand with a portable circular saw when he is possessed and Mary is pushed off a stairway balcony by Kaiser, where she and the dog die on the hard floor below. Pretty soon no one but C.J. and Caroline are left (You didn't think I was going to tell you how everyone died did you? OK, just one more: Raymond dives through an unshuttered, unbarred window and screams "I'm free!", but he ends up sinking to his death in a pit of quicksand where the plaque stands. The window then becomes whole again [thanks to reverse photography] like nothing happened.) and they have to go into the open door in the floor in the basement to face whatever is down there. Turns out it is The Devil himself (played very creepily by the late Victor Buono; MOONCHILD - 1972), who is trapped in an all-white room, and he decides to have some fun with C.J. because of his disbelief in Heaven and Hell. He encourages C.J. to yell out God's name to see if he will give him any help, but before C.J. gets the chance to, Caroline plants the iron cross into The Devil's chest, just long enough for them to get away (The Devil pulls out the cross and throws it in their direction. Stupid move, Satan!). Caroline and C.J. manage to make it to the basement and close the door, sealing it with the iron cross. The world is safe once again from the Devil's Doorway to Earth. All the doors and windows open, allowing C.J. and Caroline to leave the house, and C.J. finally sees the specter of Dr. Vargas, who was a good spirit all along. Maybe C.J.'s views of Heaven and Hell will change in the next semester he teaches. Director Gus Trikonis (THE SWINGING BARMAIDS - 1975; THE STUDENT BODY - 1976; MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS - 1977; THE DARKER SIDE OF TERROR - 1979; and plenty more theatrical films, TV movies and TV series episodes until he suddenly stopped in 2001), who was married to actress Goldie Hawn from 1969 to 1974, delivers an pretty good horror film from what is obviously a low budget (I'm sure the lion's share went to Richard Crenna's paycheck). There are plenty of scares and inventive deaths (late actor Galen Thompson [who appears here as the specter of Dr. Vargas] co-wrote the screenplay [with Trikonis] using the pseudonym "Donald G. Thompson", the same name he used to write the screenplay to the eerily similar SUPERSTITION in 1982, even using a circular saw blade gag). It's hard to believe that some TV showings of this film completely edited out Victor Buono's appearance. He is very effective here and downright believable as The Devil (His delivery of some of his dialogue will send chills down your spine). Maybe network execs were afraid that the film would make children afraid of the Devil (well, duh!). Cutting out Buono's performance is like cutting Marlon's Brando's in APOCALYPSE NOW (1979). It is just absurd. All-in-all, THE EVIL is a great addition to your library of horror films. Originally released on fullscreen VHS by Embassy Home Entertainment. Shout! Factory offers a nice anamorphic widescreen print on a double feature DVD with the underrated 1988 horror film TWICE DEAD as part of their now-defunct "Roger Corman Cult Classics" line. I remember that HBO use to play this film constantly during the late-70's & early-80's, but seeing it in widescreen for the first time really adds an extra dimension to the film. Rated R.

EVIL ALTAR (1987) - Thirty years ago, warlock Reed Weller (William Smith) annoints a new "Collector" and tells him to procure "103 healthy children and the last one must be a virgin". Cut to the present and the Collector (Pepper Martin) brings Weller child #99, a kid he cracked over the head with a baseball bat at a local baseball game. Weller gets pissed off because he specifically said "no local children" because he wanted no unneeded attention brought to the town. The Collector then kidnaps visiting Black child Troy Long (Marcus Wyatt) from a gas station and his worried father Daley (Tal Armstrong), a powerful California lawyer, calls Sheriff O'Connell (Robert Z'Dar) to start searching for his son. When local hunter Stu Connors (David Campbell) and his daughter Teri (Theresa Cooney) mistakenly shoot and kill the Collector when hunting for deer, it becomes apparent that the sheriff and nearly everyone else in town is under control of Weller, who has used his sorcery to grant "favors" to the townspeople in return for their undying loyalty. The sheriff delivers Troy and the Collector's body to Weller, who performs a ritual and brings the Collector back to life. Daley begins asking questions in town and the only person who will talk to him is Josh (Jack Vogel), Teri's brother. It seems Teri is a virgin and will be Weller's 103rd sacrifice when the time is right. The Collector appears to Teri one night (he pulls the bullet she shot out of his heart in front of her) and tells her that she'll be next. She then begins to see him everywhere; on the street, in her bedroom and even on the TV. No one will believe her except Josh, who knows something has been very wrong in this town since his and Teri's mother was killed and their father's bimbo mistress moved in the very next day (all thanks to Weller's satanic powers). When a magical floating baseball (!) crashes through Teri's bedroom window one night, destroys her room and nearly kills her, Teri, Josh and girlfriend Lisa (Connie Lolan) douse the Collector with gasoline and set him on fire. The sheriff shows up and Josh realizes that they are on their own. When Teri is kidnapped by Weller, Josh, Lisa and Daley team up to rescue Teri and Troy. They are too late to save Troy (which only makes Daley more pissed), so they raid Weller's house and must fight Weller's supernatural powers as well as the sheriff and his itchy trigger finger. Can the forces of good defeat the powers of evil? Prepare yourself for one head-scratcher of an ending.  I really don't know what to make of this weird little horror film. Stuntman-turned-director Jim Winburn (THE DEATH MERCHANT - 1991) has crafted a tale of small town horror, but there is precious little back story to go along with the horror. My biggest question is this: Since it's quite apparent that Reed Weller has the power to perform many supernatural acts (like raise the dead and grant the townspeople's wishes), why does he need to kill 103 kids? How much power does one person need? The film's heart is in the right place, though (screenplay by Brent Friedman, Scott Rose and John Geilfuss), as big Bill Smith (with satanic symbols tattoed on his bald head) is effective as Weller, Pepper Martin (SCREAM - 1981) is creepy as the Collector and some scenes are inventive (Stu's death after disobeying Weller is one such scene, as well as when Daley realizes that he has to kill his son to find peace). There's a lot to like here (it's not very gory, but it is very violent), but I wish there were more motivations behind the killings. It would have added a little meat to go along with the potatoes. This film is usually rated as a bomb (or lower) by nearly every reviewer I have read. Either I watched this while I was having a very good night or I managed to look past some of the mistakes (the boom mike in the frame, flubbed lines, etc.) and chose to enjoy it as an atmospheric little chiller. Nothing special, mind you, just enjoyable. Also starring John Powers, Lee Night, Patrick Fahey and Norman Shore. A Southgate Entertainment Home Video Release. Rated R.

EVIL CAT (1986) - Another strange film from director Dennis Yu (THE BEASTS - 1980; THE IMP - 1981), this one dealing with supernatural possession. A bulldozer in a quarry unearths a huge stone tablet with ancient writing on it that is covering a deep shaft. When the tablet is lifted by the quarry crew, revealing the shaft, a surge of electrical energy shoots out of it, which seems to affect Master Cheung (Lar Kar Leung) clear across town. He walks home and pulls a bow and three magical arrows from under his bed and then mutters, "It has been 50 years that you finally appear!" He treks over to the quarry and a flashback reveals how fifty years earlier, he and his father trapped a demon known as Evil Cat down the shaft, but Cheung had to kill his father in the process. With his dying breath, his father warns him that "this possessed cat has nine lives" and it has already been defeated eight times by members of his family every fifty years for the past four hundred years. It is now Master Cheung's turn to fight the Evil Cat, but he better do it quick because, according to his medical records, he is dying from cancer and only has a short time to live. We then switch over to the highrise building which houses the Fan Holding Company. It seems Evil Cat has taken up residence in the building, killing multiple security guards and personnel before possessing the body of the business's millionaire owner, Mr. Fan (Stuart Ong). Master Cheung, with the help of Mr. Fan's limo driver, Long (Mark Cheng), prepare to do battle with Evil Cat (Cheung gives Long a magical necklace, but tells him to throw it away if he's still alive in seven days). Inspector Wu (Wong Ching, who also wrote the screenplay), is assigned to investigate the slaughter at the highrise and is happy to find female TV reporter Siu Chen (Tang Lai Ying) is already on the scene, since he has a huge crush on her. As luck would have it, Siu Chen is the daughter of Master Cheung, but when she sees her father at the crime scene, she doesn't believe his story and threatens to send him to a sanitarium for his final days (What a bitch!). She doesn't believe in spirits or evil and thinks her father is an old, superstitious fool. Mr. Fan begins acting strange, ordering his staff at home (including Long) to go to bed early and not to disturb him after midnight. Long gets hungry late that night and goes to the kitchen, only to spot Mr. Fan outside with his face immersed in the coy pond. When Mr. Fan comes up for air and has a live fish in his mouth (!), he spots Long and attacks him, which leads to a wild car ride to Long's mother's house. His Mom fights off Evil Cat/Mr. Fan by throwing a statue of Buddha at him (!) and Long goes to Master Cheung, who is now staying at Siu Chen's home, for help. Siu Chen thinks Long is as crazy as her father, but even she will soon come to believe as more murders take place. Cheung kills Mr. Fan with one of the magical arrows but is stopped from finishing off Evil Cat when Inspector Wu intervenes. Evil Cat has now jumped into the body of Mr. Fan's sexy mistress, Tina (Tsiu Suk Woon), and it's very, very, pissed.  This wild horror film contains many action-packed and gory set-pieces but, thankfully, doesn't take itself too seriously. Where director Dennis Yu's THE BEASTS was a relentlessly grim rape/revenge exploitationer (with hardcore sex inserts), he gives EVIL CAT a much lighter tone, but doesn't sacrifice shocks or gore in the process. The relationship between Master Cheung and Long is a delight, especially the sequence where Cheung tries to teach an impatient Long how to gain magical powers and Long tries to cheat at every opportunity, usually with disasterous results. There are many "out-there" scenes, including the car ride, a sequence where Mr. Fan traps Long in his office and the rape/possession of Tina, but they all take a backseat to the amazing final twenty minutes, when Tina/Evil Cat lays waste to an entire police station, where she/it decapitates cops by swatting at their heads, thrusts her hands through bodies, tosses people around like they are ragdolls, detaches her own arms to strangle Master Cheung (who is at least 50 feet away from her!), all while taking multiple bullet hits to her head and body. It's guaranteed to get your heart racing. But, until then, there's plenty of carnage to keep you happy, including impalements, limb removal, a tongue biting and a comical case of mass vomiting. If there are any complaints about this film, it's that Wong Ching's portrayal of Inspector Wu is a little too broad for my tastes (How did a buffoon like this become an Inspector?), the English subtitles leave a lot to be desired and the final shot defies the legend of Evil Cat that was explained in the beginning (Cats don't have ten lives). Don't let these minor quibbles stop you from seeing this, though. It's a wonderful piece of Hong Kong horror/action cinema. A Fortune Star/Deltamac DVD Release. Not Rated.

EVIL CLUTCH (1988) - This late-'80s Italian horror film is short on logic and the story is all over the place, but if you want scene-after-scene of unrated gore, you've come to the right place (that's not an endorsement).
     In the Swiss Alps, a young man in overalls (Stefano Molinari; DEMONS 2 - 1986) takes a long walk in the woods and enters a dilapidated shack, where female witch Arva (Elena Cantarone) says, "I knew you would come back. Now you will be under my power forever!" Forever isn't nearly long enough for, as he kisses her body, a claw comes out of her vagina (!) and rips his frank and beans off. He then stumbles out of the shack holding his bloody crotch, dying as he opens the door. Arva turns into a fanged creature (a vampire?) and laughs as she fondles the young man's severed penis and testicles. What does this have to do with the rest of the film? Damned if I know!
     "Not long after..." A young couple on vacation, Cindy (Coralina C. Tassoni; MOTHER OF TEARS - 2007) and Tony (Diego Ribon), are driving through the Alps when Arva runs out in front of their Jeep Laredo, almost hitting her. Arva tells them that a man tried to attack her in the cemetery, so Tony checks out the cemetery (lots of Stedicam photography), but he finds nothing, telling Arva and Cindy no one was there, but he got the strange feeling that someone or something was watching him. Arva asks for a ride to the village and they oblige, not knowing strange the powers she has. When they get to the village, Arva is scared away by a man on a motorcycle, Algernoon (Luciano Crovato). He asks the young couple if they knew Arva and they tell him what happened at the cemetery. Algernoon says Arva lives in the village and he has something to show them. Tony and Cindy follow him and he apologizes for talking like a robot (his voice box has been replaced by a mechanical voice box), telling them it was the result after a third tumor was removed from his neck. Algernoon is a writer of supernatural stories, saying he moved to this village for the solitude and to be "away from pity." He tells the couple that these mountains are cursed and continues, "Many hundreds of years ago, the Simbers, a mysterious people, lived here, isolated from the rest of the world. They practiced strange, evil rites, conjuring up demonic forms, which danced with the priestesses. Unluckily, everybody thinks it was only a legend, so nobody hunts them anymore. But now they are back. They force their victims to participate in repugnant rites after luring them to abandoned old holes (!), where they finally sacrifice them." Why does he tell them this story? Damned if I know!
     After leading the couple through the woods, Algernoon stops at a waterfall and tells them another story (nooooo!), in which Tony becomes possessed by something "disgusting", pulls out a switchblade and chases Cindy on a beach. He breaks Cindy's neck and buries her in the sand, but she rises from the dead, looking for revenge. We then see the decomposing Cindy attacking Tony and crushing his head with her bare hands. What does this story have to do with anything? Damned if I know!
     Tony and Cindy become disgusted with Algernoon's stories, so they leave him in the woods, get into their Jeep and drive off. Cindy wants to go back to Vienna, but Tony says no, it will be fun to hike in the Alps (Is he mad?). They pull over to the side of the road, collect their camping equipment and discover that Algernoon has followed them. He tells the couple that the Alps are evil and things are more dangerous than they seem. Cindy and Tony tell him to get lost, so he wishes them nothing but fun and leaves. Tony and Cindy go hiking in the woods, whistling a Snow White tune (!), when Cindy is nearly crushed by a falling tree. They stop at a stream to get some water (Camping without water?) and they see Arva is there. She invites them to stay at her house and they stupidly agree. We then see something is following them (more Stedicam work) and when Cindy feels it, Arva says don't worry, it's nothing. We also see that Algernoon is following them. After a long trek, they arrive at Arva's house (the shack we saw at the beginning of the film). The shack is surrounded by ruins and Arva tells them that there's a secret tunnel in the ruins that leads to a fresh water spring. Is this important? Damned if I know!
     While Cindy is outside admiring the sunset, Arva pulls out some cocaine (!) and both she and Tony partake, when an oily-like substance splashes in Tony's face. It is now dark out and Tony and Arva join Cindy outside. Tony discovers some ancient writing on one of the ruins and a mysterious flammable liquid (Tony: "What's this stuff?" Arva: "It's great!"). Tony begins to feel sick and blames it on the oily substance that splashed his face. Cindy gets angry and tells Arva to leave, which she does (Hey, this is her property!). Tony begins talking in a strange language and then the really strange shit begins to happen (Tony: "I'm a-scared!"). Does any of this make any sense? Damned if I know!
     I could go on detailing what happens next, but it is obvious director/screenwriter Andreas Marfori (SOVIET ZOMBIE INVASION - 2016) has seen both THE EVIL DEAD - 1981 and DEMONS (1985) one too many times. Like the former, it shows the evil in the woods as a fast-moving POV, as the camera moves quickly through the forest (While Sam Raimi and friends achieved this look using a makeshift Stedicam by attaching their camera to a 2X4, this film looks like it is using the real thing). Like the latter, the makeup of the demon Fango (a transformed young man in overalls from the beginning of the film) is strikingly similar to Lamberto Bava's film. Sadly, nothing here makes a lick of sense. It's like suffering through a fever dream, as the film is nothing but a collection of gore scenes, none of them connected to each other. We see Fango use Cindy for fishing practice, as he grabs a fishing pole and hooks her on her face, but the next scene shows her face untouched. Cindy even uses a chainsaw on Fango, but the next scene shows Fango whole again. It's sloppiness like this that makes the film a tough slog (at least for me) to finish. People get decapitated, lose their limbs (and manhood), Tony has his hands crushed by Fango and other bloody hijinks, all of it extremely gory and well done, but good gore without a coherent story does not make a good film. When Cindy yells, "Is there an end to all of this?", you'll be wondering the same thing, as it runs an extremely long 86 minutes, proving that gore without story is boring (at least to me, but gorehounds will probably disagree). Shot as IL BOSCO 1 ("The Woods 1"), it should come as no surprise that Troma picked this up for a (limited) theatrical release, a few VHS releases (one by Rhino Video) and eventually releasing it on (fullscreen) DVD, but no Blu-Ray at the time of this review. If you want to see how not to make a horror film, by all means, search this out. It's not that hard to find. This review comes from the uncut, fullscreen streaming version I saw free on Amazon Prime. It can also be picked up fairly cheaply on DVD (about $10.00) if you wish to add this film to your library. But why would you want to do that? Damned if I know! Not Rated.

EVIL ED (1995) - This lamebrained Swedish-made gore comedy tells the story of Ed (Johan Rudebeck), a film editor hired to cut out all the more violent parts of the fictitious "Loose Limb" series of horror films for distribution in European countries that have stringent censorship laws. The previous editor found the task so daunting that he blew his head off by sticking a hand grenade in his mouth! Our new editor doesn’t particularly enjoy the job but, because he needs the money, agrees to edit the 8-part series. After viewing scene upon scene of hacked-off limbs and bloody murders, Ed begins to hallucinate various graphic acts, such as cutting into an arm when he is actually slicing a loaf of bread and viewing a grotesque vulgarity-spewing monster in his refrigerator. Ed starts killing for real and likes it, so he starts murdering anyone he can get his hands on. Neck snappings, beheadings, electrocutions and a skull split down the middle follow. One wonders what director/screenwriter/photographer/editor Anders Jacobsson was trying to say here. Does he believe that watching violence causes violent behavior or is it his way of making fun of this controversial issue? I tend to lean towards the latter but I’ll bet that some anti-violence media whores will view this as a documentary of our society today. Available in Unrated and R-rated versions, you should probably avoid the R-rated cut as it excises all the bloody deaths that Ed is supposed to be editing out of the films. Maybe Ed edited the R-rated version as it destroys any impact that the film has in the first place. Ironic isn’t it? Even though all the actors speak English, they are overdubbed by others with a special voice appearance by Bill Moseley (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 - 1986). Also starring Olaf Rhodin, Per Lofberg and Camela Leierth. An A-PIX H.V. Release. Unrated.

EVIL LAUGH (1986) - Another annoying teen horror film that has nothing to offer the viewer except bad acting, lame effects and illogical situations. To give you an idea what to expect: In the beginning of the film, a guy complains that he doesn't have any liver to serve for dinner. The cackling unseen killer stabs the guy with a butcher knife and cuts out his liver, placing the still-steaming organ on a dinner plate. Get it? Ha! A group of kids converge on a long-abandoned building to help a friend (the guy who had his liver removed) clean it up so he can turn it into a pediatric clinic. What most of them don't know is that years ago the building was an orphanage where a series of brutal murders took place. Someone doesn't want the kids messing with the building, as an unseen maniacally-laughing psycho begins dispatching them in various unimaginative ways. Between scenes of bad dancing (and terrible original rock songs), horny sex and in-fighting between the young cast, the chuckling weirdo begins the killing spree. A delivery boy is offed with a power drill (off-screen), a couple having sex are butchered with a knife, another guy is stabbed in the crotch and so on. The cast learns about Martin, the murderer who committed the murders in this building years before and we are left to wonder if it is indeed Martin who is killing the kids (or is it someone closer?). Barney (Jerold Pearson), a horror movie fan, is the only voice of reason, wanting everyone to leave the house before they all get killed (He even warns his friends not to have sex because, in horror films, anyone who has sex dies, predating a similar scene in SCREAM by over ten years). No one believes him and most of them are killed before the remaining members finally believe. Barney discovers an audio cassette containing the killer's voice saying no one in the house deserves to live. When the killer is finally unmasked, you'll be punching your TV in retaliation for having been cheated out of 85 minutes of your life. You may just kick your dog after having to view the preposterous "surprise" ending.  Guaranteed to bore you after ten minutes, EVIL LAUGH seems to pull away when it should be charging ahead. Director Dominick Brascia (HARD ROCK NIGHTMARE - 1988; who also co-wrote and co-produced this with star Steven Baio, who looks like [and is] Scott Baio's emaciated brother) doesn't let us see most of the killings and tosses in numerous references to FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) and HALLOWEEN (1978), cheap sex jokes and shows issues of Fangoria every now and then to give the film some street cred. The acting is pretty erratic, ranging from OK (Baio) to unbelievably bad (the guy who played the cop). That's a shame, because most of the film is filled with endless dialogue scenes with people spouting inane lines like, "10:30? By God, it's the middle of the night!" By the time the killing spree kicks in, you'll either be sound asleep or scratching your balls in anticipation. One way, you'll be rested and relaxed. The other way will only get you looks of disgust by those around you and you'll be bitterly disappointed to boot (as well as having sore balls). What you will see is a lame axe to the head, a knife to the groin (the tip protrudes out of the guy's ass) and Steven Baio having his head shoved in a microwave oven. None of the effects are well done or filmed in any way to give them impact. EVIL LAUGH is a minor slasher film that doesn't have one original idea in it's tiny little head. It was supposedly shot in one week and it shows. Also starring Kim McKamy, Tony Griffin, Jody Gibson, Johnny Venocur, Myles O'Brien, Howard Weiss and Susan Grant. Krishna Shah, the director of HARD ROCK ZOMBIES (1985), was one of the Executive Producers. A Celebrity Home Entertainment VHS Release. Also released on fullscreen DVD by the now-defunct Lucky 13 label. Rated R.

EVIL REMAINS (2003) - Uninvolving and boring Louisiana-lensed horror flick originally released as TRESSPASSING (the version I watched on Amazon Prime through my Roku streaming player [an excellent device, especially the Roku 3] had this title). College student Mark (Daniel Gillies) is doing his thesis on myths and legends, trying to prove that they were once based on truth before being blown out of proportion over time. He interviews Dr. Theodore Rosen (Kurtwood Smith in what amounts to an extended cameo in the beginning and end of the film. He is also the best thing about this film.) about the legend of Carl Bryce, who, ten years earlier, first killed his dog, made a mask out of the skull and then killed his father (Will Rokos) with a pair of garden shears and burned his mother (Maryam d'Abo) alive by pouring gasoline over her body and then setting her on fire (this sequence opens the film). Legend has it that anyone who sets foot on the Bryce property will become insane, not trust anyone and may be murdered by Carl, who was never found. After a stern warning by Dr. Rosen not to set foot on the property, Mark decides not to take his suggestion and brings his brothers Eric (Jeff Davis) and Tyler (Clayne Crawford), as well as lesbian lover friends Kristy (Estella Warren) and Sharon (Ashley Scott), along with him to the Bryce property to help him document his thesis with video and sound. As soon as they set foot on the property, the three brothers investigate the inside of the house, while Kristy and Sharon walk through the woods surrounding the house. From the moment they step into the house, the brothers begin to hear voices and creaking floorboards and Tyler photographs a figure in a dog skull mask on his Polaroid camera in the basement. Eric ends up missing, so Mark and Tyler head to the attic after witnessing one of the bedroom walls seeping blood. They find Eric hanging upside down, his throat slashed and tied to boards like an upside down Jesus on the cross. Paranoia quickly begins setting in both Mark and Tyler, who blame each other for Eric's death and there's talk about Tyler murdering their abusive father when they were kids. Meanwhile, Kristy and Sharon find a whole bunch of animal traps littering the woods (Kristy frees a rabbit caught in one) and Sharon accidentally steps on one, injuring her foot.  Kristy uses a tree branch to set off every trap she finds and, as she disables the final one while heading back to the house with a limping Sharon, Tyler is killed in the attic when he walks directly into a giant bear trap that impales his body from head to toe. Mark is then chased throughout the house by Carl and as Mark makes it out the front door, Kristy and Sharon see him pulled inside by the dog skull masked killer. Kristy and Sharon then fall into a trap next to the house and are locked inside it by Carl. Kristy is able to loosen some bars that lead to a tunnel to the house's basement, as they both become more and more paranoid (especially Sharon, who I wanted to kick in the face). Sharon is killed by Carl and Kristy is chased through the woods, finally making it to freedom when a tractor trailer hits Carl and splatters him into a million pieces. Four years later, a girl interviews Dr. Rosen about Kristy, who now permanently resides in a mental institution, convicted of killing all her friends when no trace of Karl can be found on the truck that hit him. Dr. Rosen tells the girl that he believes that Kristy is innocent and warns the girl not to go on the Bryce property because it brings out the worse in people. THE END. Director/writer James Merendino (WITCHCRAFT IV: VIRGIN HEART - 1992; SLC PUNK! - 1998) offers nothing new to the horror genre besides some lush Louisiana scenery and a cheap jump scare here and there. All the characters are terribly underwritten, so we really feel nothing for them when they die. The only interesting thing about this film (besides Kurtwood Smith, who is listed in the opening credits, but not the closing ones) is the insane music that plays over the closing credits. It's genuinely creepy, something which the rest of the film tried to achieve, but failed miserably. Although the film is not terribly acted, there is almost a total lack of blood (except for the bedroom wall, the sight of a murdered Eric and the stabbing death of a welder who calls the police for Kristy). Why bother making a stalk 'n' slash flick and be stingy on the slash? I can't in good conscience recommend this film. It's not terrible, just boringly ordinary. Also starring Brandon Martin, Rusty Tennant and Jeff Galpin as Carl Bryce. A Screen Media Films DVD Release. Rated R.

EVIL TOWN (1974/1985) - Mardi "Anything For A Buck" Rustam strikes again. He has taken a little-seen horror film from 1974 called GOD BLESS DAMN DR. SHAGETZ, edited it down and filmed new inserts featuring two murdering, raping grease monkeys called Harry and Wally (Keith Hefner & Greg Finley), added some nudity from actresses Jillian Kesner and Lynda Wiesmeier and mixed it all together. It's all rather obvious and extremely boring. The majority of the film concerns the creepy isolated burg of Smalltown (the sign on the way into town reads "Population: 666 Elevation: 13", just so we know it's creepy), which seems to be populated only by senior citizens. We soon find out that when any young people (including kids) stray into town, they are knocked-out and sent to a clinic run by Dr. Schaeffer (Dean Jagger, who was called "Dr. Shagetz" in the original edit), who uses their youth to keep the elderly population immortal. Trouble arises when a camper containing Christopher (James Keach), wife Linda (Doria Cook), friend Mike (Robert Walker Jr.) and girlfriend Julie (Michele Marsh) breaks down as they enter Smalltown. Instead of spending the night in the house of "kindly" old Lyle (Dabbs Greer) and his wife (Lurene Tuttle), the quartet decide to camp out in the woods, making it more difficult for the old geezers to kidnap them. Every few minutes, the newly-shot (and badly-matched) footage intrudes on the proceedings, showing Harry and Wally kidnapping some necking couples (including a lesbian couple), bringing the men to Dr. Schaeffer's clinic and saving the women for themselves, restraining and raping them in their garage (Harry says to Wally, after they have raped one girl, "Don't say a word about her!" Wally replies, "I won't. Cross my legs!"). When the old cronies discover that the camping foursome are moving to L.A. (for some reason that's a bad thing in their eyes), they make sure that the camper is permanently disabled. Christopher, who is moving to L.A. to start his medical residency, becomes mighty suspicious of the town's old farts, especially when he sees the white-haired population carrying Mike and Julie's drugged bodies to Dr. Schaeffer's clinic. Christopher and Linda are eventually captured and brought to Dr. Schaeffer, who shows Christopher his operation and asks him to carry-on with his experiments in perfecting the immortality serum. After seeing a cage full of Dr. Schaeffer's failed experiments (a gaggle of young people in straitjackets and acting crazy), Christopher gives his answer by strangling Dr. Schaeffer with his bare hands, grabbing Linda (Mike and Julie are dead) and setting the clinic on fire.  This patchwork film fails to register, thanks to the obvious inserts (the film stock, fashions and dialogue just don't gel with the old footage) and boring nature of the reworked screenplay (the story credit goes to late character actor Royce Applegate). Mardi Rustam (the director of EVILS OF THE NIGHT [1984) and producer of such films as PSYCHIC KILLER [1974], THE BAD BUNCH [1976], Tobe Hooper's EATEN ALIVE [1976] and DEATH FEUD [1987]) seems only interested in putting as much nudity, sex and foul language as he can in the new footage which, quite frankly, sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the original film, which was directed by Edward Collins (actually a pseudonym of Academy Award® winning screenwriter and director Curtis Hanson, of THE AROUSERS [1972] and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL [1997] fame), Larry Spiegel (SURVIVAL RUN - 1978) and Peter S. Traynor (DEATH GAME - 1977). Rustam, who used the same killer grease monkey idea previously in EVILS OF THE NIGHT, was trying to pull a fast one on VHS renters during the release-anything 80's but, unfortunately, he forgot the golden rule. If you want to pull a fast one on us (especially with the misleading VHS cover art), at least have the courtesy to throw a little bloody violence into the new footage (the nearest he comes to it is when a clinic escapee gets into a martial arts fight with an orderly!). The closest this film come to violence is when James Keach punches-out a couple of octagenarians and hits Dabbs Greer with a chair. Dean Jagger (VISIONS OF EVIL - 1973) is absent for most of the film until the finale and it's easy to see why. He overacts terribly and it looks like he's having a hard time remembering his lines and I believe at one point he forgets them all together and improvises (badly). Robert Walker Jr., who appeared in several low-budget 70's horror flicks (BEWARE! THE BLOB - 1972; THE SPECTRE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE - 1972; THE SHRIEKING - 1973), is wasted here (at least in this edit). He's given very little to do except slap his knees in time while James Keach (SLASHED DREAMS - 1975) plays his guitar around a campfire and deliver the film's only intentionally funny bit of dialogue when Keach and Doria Cook talk about making love in the woods. The Post Production Supervisor (the person in charge of putting this whole mess together into a cohesive whole) was Henri Charr, who also directed another lousy 80's piecemeal film, ISLAND FURY (1983/1989). I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that you can skip EVIL TOWN and not worry about it at all, unless you must see a bunch of wrinkled old toadies trying to act murderous. What is wrong with you people? Also starring Christie Hauser, Regis Toomey, Paul McCauley, E.J. Andre and Hope Summer. A Trans World Entertainment VHS Release. Also released on VHS by budget label Star Classics in a crappy EP-mode transfer. Not yet available on DVD (count your blessings). Not Rated.

THE FANGLYS (2003) - Ultra-low-budget regional horror film (filmed in and around Justin, Texas), reportedly made for less than $2,500 and it shows. As with a lot of these no-budgeters, it takes place during Halloween and concerns itself about a local legend; a family of cannibals called the Fanglys, who haunt the woods around Storm Creek during the candy-giving holiday, slaughtering those who dare enter their territory. The young adults in the area don't take the legend too seriously and use it as a rite of passage to haze the non-believers, but Sheriff Pete (Burton Gilliam; THE TERROR WITHIN II - 1990) knows that the legend is real and has been covering-up the Fanglys murderous doings for many years, especially the killings performed by witch matriarch Fanglady (played by Justin Hamilton in drag) and her retarded son Chubb (director/scripter Christopher Abram, acting under the name "J. Christopher"). A group of obnoxious twenty-somethings, including Mark (Robert Harvey), his wife Kelly (Laurie Reaves), perpetual coward Jerry (Tim Boswell), prankster Steven (Josh Gobin) and new girlfriend Camille (Natalie Woods), think it would be a good idea to party in the cemetery of Storm Creek on Halloween Night (yeah, none of them are the sharpest tools in the shed). They build a campfire in the middle of the cemetery using wooden grave markers as firewood (again, these are studid people) and Kelly tells ghost stories about Fanglady stealing the lifeforce of her victims and Chubb taking the lifeless corpses and skinning them (which we are barely shown in flashbacks), which scares the crap out of Jerry and new-to-town Camille (hint, hint). I guess we all know what happens next. After Steven steals more wooden grave markers to add to the campfire (he deserves to die just for doing that), they are discovered by Chubb, who disables their car (and steals a porno DVD from the back seat!) when he notices the grave markers missing in the cemetery (he uses the graveyard to bury the bones of Mommy's victims). Camille ends up missing, Chubb knocks-out Steven and then terrorizes the rest, eventually kidnapping Kelly. Mark comes to the rescue, only to discover that Camille is actually a Fangly's family member, but he manages to kill Chubb (after the retarded Chubb accidentally kills Camille with a pitchfork) and Fanglady before he, Kelly and Steve escape. They then learn from Sheriff Pete that the Fanglys can never truly be killed and they will surely rise from the dead next Halloween.  This is a terribly slow moving horror flick that has very little (if anything) going in its favor. It's poorly acted (the only professional here is Burton Gilliam, who looks embarrassed), talky as hell and contains nearly no gore, which, considering the subject matter, was a very poor decision. It's hard to determine if director/writer/actor/editor/dishwasher Christopher Abram (AFTER SUNDOWN - 2005; BY THE DEVIL'S HANDS - 2008) purposely set out to make a campy film, but it's difficult to take this as a serious horror film. The character of Chubb elicits laughs rather than gasps with his oversized crooked (and obviously fake) upper teeth and he acts more like a brainless moron than someone who is supposed to scare us. Director Abram manages to break every cardinal rule of horror filmmaking: He pulls back on every gore shot when he should be moving in for the close-up (There's one maddening scene where Chubb threatens a necking couple with a machete, but then tosses it to the ground and snaps the man's neck with his bare hands instead! I swear, I nearly stopped watching the film there and then, but I soldiered-on in hopes that it would get better. It didn't.); he has the women keep their bras and panties on during their sex scenes (Even when Chubb rapes one of them in his bedroom!); and there's even a thing in a cage that Chubb keeps as a pet, but we never see it! We are even led to believe that Chubb kills Jerry (and, believe me, you'll want this whiny shit dead as soon as you meet him), but if you survive through the end credits, you'll learn that even he survives. What's the point? No, really, will someone tell me why anyone would make a horror film but leave out the horror? I've taken dumps that scared me worse. Also starring John William Galt, Natali Jones, Jason Skeen and Malissa Dusza. Available on VHS & DVD from Asylum Home Entertainment. Rated R, but there's nothing here that goes beyond a PG-13.

FATAL GAMES (1983) - Someone is killing the Olympic hopefuls at the prestigious Falcon Academy Of Athletics. Can it have something to do with the steroids, hormone injections and "vitamins" that the doctors at the academy make all the athletes take every day? The first one to die is gymnast Nancy (Melissa Prophet), who gets impaled by a javelin while working out alone in the gym. Team doctor (and possibly lesbian) Diane Paine (Sally Kirkland) worries about the kids sudden behavioral changes and voices her concerns to Dr. Jordine (director Michael Elliot), the team's head doctor ("They are kids, not guinea pigs!"), but is told to mind her own business. Gymnast Sue Ellen (Angela Bennett) is the next in line to get a javelin piercing, as she is chased naked through the academy by the black tracksuit-wearing killer. Javelin thrower Joe (Nicholas Love) is next to die, as the killer returns one of Joe's throws and nails him through the torso (There goes our best suspect!). The coaches and doctors are worried that three of their best athletes are missing and again Diane wonders if the medications are involved ("Maybe they had adverse reactions."). Diane finds Annie (Lynn Banashek) lying down in the middle of the hallway, screaming in pain (from the medication) and Diane takes her home where we learn that Diane's mother was an Olympic gold medal winner. Frank (Michael O'Leary) breaks his leg dismounting off the parallel bars and, that night, his girlfriend Lynn (Teal Roberts) is speared by the javelin while doing laps in the pool. Dr. Jordine finds a team photo with all the dead athletes x'ed out and suspects the other doctors and coaches, since they are the only ones with keys to the office. Frank begins snooping around and finds some incriminating evidence and discovers all the dead bodies stuffed in lockers, but is "javelinized" by the killer before he can tell anyone. Annie is wounded by the killer, but boyfriend Phil (Sean Masterson) saves her and brings her to Diane. Bad move. Turns out that Diane was born a man and had a sex change operation, but lost her Olympic gold medal (in the javelin throw) when drug tests proved she had too many male hormones in her system. Now she's making all athletes pay.  Pretty blah as a mystery and a slasher film (a blind man could spot the killer and there are only so many ways you can kill with a javelin), the only redeeming quality this film has to is the constant full frontal female nudity from nearly every female cast member except, surprisingly, Sally Kirkland (who had many naked moments in the vastly superior IN THE HEAT OF PASSION - 1991). Kirkland is truly awful here. She has the emotional range of a piece of fruit and looks like she would rather have a really painful bikini wax than be here. The gore is practically non-existant, too. Just a few javelin impalements and Kirkland's final fall onto a first place trophy (oh, the irony). First (and only) time director Michael Elliot sure has a lot of pretty girls in the cast (including blink-and-you'll-miss cameos from Linnea Quigley as an athlete and Brinke Stevens as a naked shower girl), but it's hard to believe that it took three people (Elliot, Raphael Bunuel and producer Christopher Mankiewicz) to write such a trite, generic screenplay. Only for those interested in viewing plenty of naked unaugmented female flesh. FATAL GAMES is also known as THE KILLING TOUCH. Also starring Marcelyn Ann Wilson (later changing her name to Spice Williams) and Lauretta Murphy. A Media Home Entertainment Release. Not Rated.

FATAL IMAGES (1988) - God, I hate SOV (Shot On Video) flicks. Most of them are so cheap and boring, they make Sunday School look appealing. This is one of the worst examples of what was foisted onto unsuspecting renters looking for something new during the video boon of the late 80's. The film opens with a serial killer murdering an undercover female officer while taking her picture in his photo studio. As the police close in, the serial killer sits down in a director's chair, takes a self-portrait of himself with a rare VDeluxe camera and then simply passes away, pissing off the dead undercover cop's detective boyfriend. Ten years later, a photographer named Amy (Lane Coyle) goes to a pawn shop looking for some props for a photo shoot (the pawn shop looks like someone's garage). The slimy pawn shop owner sells Amy the serial killer's VDeluxe camera for fifty bucks and tells her that the camera already "has film in it. It always has film in it!" Rather than questioning him about that statement, Amy stupidly buys the camera and takes a picture of a drunken bum as she is walking out of the pawn shop. A short time later, the bum is slashed to death by the seemingly-revived serial killer. It seems that whomever Amy shoots with the VDeluxe camera ends up dead by the serial killer's hands and when Amy develops the photos, they show the people in their murdered states. It takes Amy a few more murders to catch on as to what is happening (she's not the sharpest tool in the shed) and the police detective (the same one who's girlfriend was killed ten years earlier) begins to notice striking similarities between the new wave of murders and the killings ten years earlier. He's also got a new cop girlfriend and, yep, you guessed it, Amy takes her picture with the damned camera. Can Amy and the secretive Chan (don't ask) stop the serial killer before he kills everyone who stopped for a photo op? Why does the camera never run out of film? Do we really care? Did anyone see my pants?  As with most SOV features, the sound is bad, the acting atrocious and the camerawork static. Director Dennis Devine, who has unleashed other shitty SOV horror flicks to a rightfully agitated audience, including HELL SPA (1992), THINGS (1993) and CURSE OF PIRATE DEATH (2006), pads out this feature (I don't want to call this a film because, let's face it, it's not) with long static shots of people talking (the funniest being the two cops in a car in the beginning of the film who, upon hearing that an undercover cop is in trouble, take the time to buckle their seatbelts before starting the car!) and POV shots of the serial killer stalking his victims. The sets are cheap (the police detective has a poster of LETHAL WEAPON (1987) hanging in his sparsely-decorated office) and the violence is nothing more than splashing blood on victims, one fake-looking arm being yanked-out of it's socket and the after-effects of an offscreen decapitation (believe it or not, the effects were supplied by Gabe Bartalos, who must have owed someone a big favor). There's also a long-haired priest, who's living room is wallpapered with movie posters of JAWS (1975), PINOCCHIO (1940), AMAZING GRACE AND CHUCK (1987), and a Confederate flag (he even makes an off-hand remark about 20TH CENTURY OZ [1976]); an Asian guy named Chan (Brian Burr Chin), who skulks around in the shadows, jumps out in front of Amy and offers to buy the camera from her ("I'll give you twice what you paid for it!"); and a big-haired metal band named Teaser, who play a song in a bar where about six people are seen dancing. Not a glaring endorsement, either for the band or the bar. The most unbelievable moment comes when the police detective decides to eat a bullet and blows his brains out, rather than to relive the horror from ten years earlier. Is that any way to protect and serve? As far as FATAL IMAGES goes, let's just say I've seen better production values and acting in my Aunt Millie's vacation videos. This film is only for the retarded. The severely retarded. 95 minutes of pure hell. I curse the day when BLOOD CULT (1985) was released on VHS and proved that there was a market for SOV flicks, flooding the market with "masterpieces" from every amateur with a store-bought video camera. That's why I usually leave those reviews to my friend Mario in the "Films On The Fringe" section of this site. He manages to find artistic merit where all I see is shit. Also starring Alison Brown, Angela Eads, Jeff Herbick, Michael Robbin, Frank Scala and David Williams as one of the least-scariest serial killers in recent memory. An Active Home Video Release. Later released on VHS by Cinematrix Releasing. Not Rated.

FATHER'S DAY (2011) - Holy shit! This film contains bad acting, cheap extreme gore effects, groan-inducing comedy and dime store stop-motion animation (which makes Brett Piper's work look like the late Ray Harryhausen), but I'll be damned if it all doesn't work as a whole to make a highly entertaining film, as long as you are not one to get easily queasy. Ten years ago, the eyepatch-wearing Ahab (Adam Brooks) was convicted of murdering an innocent man he thought was Chris Fuchman (pronounced "Fuckman"), a rapist and serial killer of fathers. Fuchman (Mackenzie Murdock) raped and murdered Ahab's father when he was just a kid and then sliced Ahab's right eye with a box cutter (all shown lovingly in close-up) and since then Ahab was on the search for the deadly serial killer. After being set-up for murder and sent to jail, Ahab does his time and is released from prison, where he goes into hiding at a cabin in the woods, collecting toxic berries (don't ask) and making maple syrup from trees that aren't maples (really, don't ask). Priest Father John Sullivan (Matthew Kennedy) finds Ahab and talks him into coming back to civilization. The raping and killing of fathers starts again as soon as he is released from prison, so Detective Stegel (Brent Neale, who talks and bears a resemblance to James Woods) thinks Ahab is responsible. The latest victim is the father of male prostitute/thief Twink (Conor Sweeney), who is fucked in the ass and then set on fire. Twink joins Ahab and Father Sullivan to try and bring Fuchman down, but first Ahab tries to talk his sister Chelsea (Amy Groening) into leaving the strip club she works at and live a normal life. Chelsea wants to join the trio in their pursuit of Fuchman (she has been tracking his progress over the years in a journal she keeps), but Ahab refuses. Fuchman tries to kidnap Chelsea after raping and killing Twink's best friend Walnut (Garrett Hnatiuk) by biting his dick off (it seems Walnut got several girls pregnant, which technically makes him a father), but Ahab and his new-found friends foil it. Fuchman finally kidnaps Chelsea at the strip club, killing all the strippers (one has her head sliced in half with a chainsaw) and the patrons. Ahab nearly dies after giving chase in a car to save Chelsea (he is impaled on the tire iron he is carrying after falling off Fuchman's truck) and Twink and Father Sullivan crash their car. This leads to a night in the woods, where Twink and Father Sullivan eats some of Ahab's toxic berries and trip out (it's one of the film's funny highlights) and force feed Ahab some of the berries. The berries heal Ahab and they end up at Fuchman's hideout (after the film stops for a short fake commercial for a film to be shown later that day, which ends with a hilarious stinger), where they find Chelsea chained up and Fuchman on the run. Ahab kills Fuchman by shotgunning him in the groin, stomping on his head and throwing him off a dam wall, thereby ending the menace (there's a funny shot at the end of this scene that involves a train coming out of a tunnel). Do you really think it would be that easy? Father Sullivan finds a book under the murdered Father O'Flynn's (Kevin Anderson) bed, which details that the Fuchmanus is actually a demon reincarnated in Hell after incest between a brother and sister that produces an offspring. When Chelsea shows up at Ahab's motel room dressed scantily and coming on to him, Ahab gives in and has sex with his sister (cringeworthy to say the least). Chelsea is now in Hell (see if you can spot the STAR WARS [1977] homage) and the trio decide to kill themselves so they can go to Hell and save her. Ahab and Twink end up in Hell, but Father Sullivan ends up in Heaven, where he puts a gun to his angel guide's (Falcon Van Der Baek) head and forces him to take him to God (played by Troma head Lloyd Kaufman, who released this film on home video). Father O'Flynn appears in God's office and forces him at gunpoint to send Father Sullivan to Hell (since Father O'Flynn is blind, he really doesn't know where to aim the gun, which leads to a bit of funny dialogue by Kaufman). What happens next is best for the viewers to discover, but I will say that the final stinger is funny as hell (look for THE DEER HUNTER [1978] reference).  Directed and written (among many other duties behind the camera) by a Canadian group that call themselves "Astron-6", which includes stars Brooks, Sweeney and Kennedy, as well as Jeremy Gillespie (who has a bit part here and co-wrote most of the film's original music) and Steven Kostanski (who directed Astron-6's equally funny and low rent MANBORG - 2011), FATHER'S DAY was a surprise to me from the start. It contains everything I usually hate, including giving it that fake "grindhouse" look by inserting emulsion scratches, some out of fucus photography and hairs on the projector bulb, but this is a great way to spend 99 minutes if you just want a good, old-fashioned 70's or 80's-like gore film with a plot that is sometimes inventive and sometimes offensive. Nothing is left to the imagination, including the aforementioned dick-biting, gunshots to the head, bodies torn in half and many other bloody bits. The comedy and acting are definitely hit-or miss, but that just adds to its charm. Troma founders Kaufman and Michael Herz produced the film and released it in a four disc limited edition Blu-Ray, 2 DVDs & a CD music soundtrack box set, with many extras (a Troma trademark), including a couple of Astron-6 short films and liner notes by acclaimed Canadian independent director Guy Maddin (THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD - 2003), who gets a "Thanks" during the end credits. This is way better than most of the crap that Troma releases and it gets my highest recommendation. Also starring Meredith Sweeney, Kyle Young, Zsuzsi, Billy Sadoo and Murray Davidson. A Troma Entertainment Blu-Ray/DVD Release. Unrated for all the right reasons, including copious nudity and an extremely uncomfortable scene where Fuchman injects his penis with some unknown substance and then cuts it with a knife, rubbing the blood on Chelsea's face.

FEAR NO EVIL (1980) - This minor cult classic has gained quite a reputation through the years, not for it's storyline (which is a mixture of THE OMEN [1976] meets NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD [1968]), but for it's trippy visual flair and punk rock soundtrack. Everyone knows Andrew Williams (Stefan Arngrim) is the Antichrist, especially when, as a baby in 1963, the water used to baptise him turns to blood. Eighteen years have passed since then (expertly shown as time-lapse photography of Andrew's parents' house, which goes from brand new to decrepit in less than 30 seconds) and Andrew witnesses his father severely cripple his mother on his birthday. At school, Andrew is a straight-A student but is treated like an outcast by nearly every student (it doesn't help that he's extremely introverted and always dresses in black). Andrew does have a crush on one female student, Julie (Kathleen Rowe McAllen), who has strange visions every time she is near Andrew. Could she be the reincarnation of the angel Gabriel, sent to Earth to join forces with two other angels to stop the Second Coming of Satan, a key part which lies in the evil powers of Andrew? Be prepared to witness the resurrection of the dead as the angels must battle Andrew and his horde of the living dead for the souls of every human being on Earth.  The first film by a then 26 year-old Frank LaLoggia (LADY IN WHITE - 1988), FEAR NO EVIL is probably the most definitive case of style over substance. The atmosphere is laid on thick and consists of wonderfully-used camera tricks (the feeling of hopelessness between Andrew's mother and father for Andrew's first 18 years of life could not have been done better than the time-lapse photography mentioned earlier) and the use of the entire widescreen image to convey alienation (used expertly in a funeral scene) is fantastic. If I have a complaint, it's that the screenplay (also by LaLoggia) is too derivative of other films, like 1976's CARRIE (there's a shower scene where the jocks pick on Andrew, only to have it bite the main bully in the ass) and THE OMEN (the whole Anti-Christ angle), which I am sure were on LaLoggia's mind when he was writing this as they were both fairly fresh films at the time. The fantastic finale (at the town's annual re-enactment of Christ's birth and death), which is full of scenes of the dead rising from their graves mixed with foggy neon lighting and laser effects (also fairly new at the time) are what previous viewers remember most about this film as it is fast-paced, bloody and comes out of nowhere. Mix in a soundtrack with songs by The Ramones, Boomtown Rats, Sex Pistols, Patti Smith and other punk bands and this was quite a treat for teens both in sight and sound when it originally played in theaters in 1980, especially after a joint or two (that's how I saw it). This low-budget gem may seem a little creaky today, but it still holds up as an atmospheric foray into the supernatural. I dare you not to smile when Andrew's drunken father (Barry Cooper) yells in a bar, "My son's the Devil!" over and over. It's also the only horror film where you'll witness a death by dodgeball and see a man grow breasts (and then kill himself!). There's also a surprising amount of full frontal male nudity but very little female nudity as the film has an underlying theme of homosexuality or, I should say, a fear of homosexuality as the shower and breast-growing scenes so beautifully display. Good stuff. FEAR NO EVIL is also known as LUCIFER. Also starring Elizabeth Hoffman, Frank Birney, Daniel Eden, Jack Holland and Alice Sachs. Originally released on VHS by Embassy Home Entertainment and released on widescreen DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Rated R.

FEAST (2006) - This is the film that was made during Season 3 of PROJECT GREENLIGHT and, after watching all the hoops first-time director John Gulager had to jump through to get this made, I'm glad to report that it's probably the best horror film released in 2006. After a humorous opening, which gives a brief bio and life expectancy of each character, the film immediately kicks into gear. A barfull of lowlifes and losers must band together and fight four creatures which are trying to get inside. The creatures, which have huge teeth and razor sharp claws, are hungry for flesh and looking to get even with the woman (Navi Rawat) who hit and killed one of them (possibly the grandfather of the pack) when driving with her husband (who is the first to get killed after bursting into the bar and announcing, "I'm the one who's gonna save your asses!" and then promptly gets decapitated). As the occupants bitch and moan and then finally band together, the creatures pick them off one-by-one in various gory ways (dismemberments, eye gougings, head squishings, dissolving bodies by spitting a slimey green goo on them). That's basically all there is to the plot and I know it sounds generic, but Gulager's execution is anything but generic. The whole film has a manic comic tone to it, like a Three Stooges short taken to the next level. Clothes are ripped off, body appendages are accidentally blown off and, just when you thought you've seen it all, the film reminds you that you haven't. I loved the part where they introduce Kevin Smith regular Jason Mewes (playing himself) only to immediately have his face ripped-off by a baby creature and then get shotgunned in the chest by the bartender (a welcome return to films by genre vet Clu Gulager [RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1985], the director's father). The whole film is full of little surprises like that and the script (by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan) is full of choice one-liners sure to bring a smile to your face. My favorite line comes when one of the men (who was drenched in the creature's goo) asks one of the women how he looks (he lost an eye and his face is dissolving). She takes one look at him and throws up. He just looks at her and says, "You shoulda been a nurse". If there's one complaint I could lodge against this film, it would be that some of the editing is way too quick, making some of the action hard to distinguish. It was probably done to cover-up some of the more low-budget aspects of the film. But, that's just a minor quibble as FEAST is a bloody good show for fans of horror. I can't wait to see what John Gulager does next without all the cameras and interference that dogged him during the shooting of this one. It should be a doozy (It turns his next assignments would be to direct two sequels to this film: FEAST II: SLOPPY SECONDS [2008] and FEAST III: THE HAPPY FINISH [2009], both highly watchable, but not what I expected; Gulager would then go on to direct PIRANHA 3DD [2012], which was supposed to go for a theatrical release, but went the DTV route instead). Dimension Films gave this a cursory one week theatrical release (using the R-rated cut) before dumping it to DVD. With the right marketing campaign, Dimension could have had a winner on their hands, but we know how fickle executive producers Bob & Harvey Weinstein are. Just be happy this film was released and didn't end up sitting on a shelf for a couple of years like other Weinstein productions. Also starring Balthazar Getty, Henry Rollins, Duane Whitaker, Judah Friedlander, Josh Zuckerman, Jenny Wade and Krista Allen. A Dimension Home Entertainment Release. Not Rated.

THE FEAST OF SATAN (1971) - When nurse Maria (Veronica Lujan) takes a mysterious 30 day vacation and is later found on the side of the road, in total mental breakdown and her hair turned completely white, the doctors at the hospital tell her sister, Hilda (Krista Nell; THE SLASHER - 1972), that Maria suffers from "Hammer Syndrome" and has been mentally deranged by fear (Maria hysterically screams out "Sheba!" and sees a mysterious man in a black cape wearing a ruby-encrusted medallion whenever she closes her eyes). When Maria is kidnapped from the loony bin by the man in the black cape, Hilda tries to uncover what happened to her sister while she was on "vacation" in hopes it will lead to her sister's present location. Hilda's investigation leads her to the cryptic (and filthy rich) Dr. Tills Nescu (Esperacto Santoni; THE FEMALE BUTCHER - 1973) and his beautiful lesbian assistant Andrea (Teresa Gimpera; CRYPT OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1973). Dr. Nescu invites Hilda, Dr. Carlos Ferrer (Thomas Moore; LIGHT BLAST - 1985) and police Inspector Gonzales (Julio Pena; CROSS CURRENT - 1971) to a cocktail party at his remote mountain castle where, earlier, we see Dr. Nescu and Andrea murder his new girlfriend, Paula (Carla Conti), in some sort of sacrificial ritual. Dr. Nescu puts the moves on Hilda and she plays along so she can find clues about her sister. What Hilda doesn't know about Dr. Nescu is that he is a powerful mentalist (He proves is powers to a doubting visiting Prince by making a male lounge singer lose his voice while singing a song in a cocktail bar) and Hilda falls under his black powers, falling madly in love with him and revealing who she really is. Hilda is warned several times by complete strangers to stay away from Dr. Nescu (one crazy lady even mentions Sheba), but she doesn't listen. Instead, she ends up alone in the castle with Dr. Nescu , Andrea and their oriental servant, and is drugged, held prisoner and hallucinates (?) about a black magic ritual where Dr. Nescu and a bunch of his satanist followers sacrifice a live goat and invoke Satan and Sheba's names. The confusing finale finds Dr. Nescu trying to make Hilda his new Sheba, but a jilted Andrea (don't ask, I know she's supposed to be a lesbian) stabs Dr. Nescu in the back before he can finish the ceremony. Or does he?  This Spanish/Italian co-production, also known as FEAST FOR THE DEVIL, is a dreary, slow-moving horror thriller that contains horrible pacing, god-awful dubbing (try watching the scene where Dr. Nescu uses his mentalist powers on the male lounge singer and try not to laugh) and a plot that makes very little sense, as well as stretching credibility a little too far. Why on earth would Hilda fall in love with the man who is quite possibly responsible for her sister's disappearance and why the hell would her good friend Carlos (who also harbors secret feelings for her) or Inspector Gonzales let her? This film relies on too many convenient coincidences to advance the plot (Dr. Nescu is a playboy, yet he has a severe hatred for his mother, whom he use to watch whipping his father with a belt as a child. Shouldn't he be a homosexual instead?). Director Jose Maria Elorrieta (THE CURSE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972), using the pseudonym "Joe Lacy", offers very little for the viewer to enjoy, as there is minimal blood, only a touch of nudity (both Nell and Gimpera do strut around in bikinis on several occasions, though) and the script (by Jose Luis Navarro, Marino Girolami and Miguel Madrid [as "Micael Skife"]) that will have you scratching your head in complete confusion and desperation, as you try to make sense of all the characters' actions (Especially the ludicrous finale, where two people commit suicide and Hilda suffers the same white-haired fate as her sister, even though Dr. Nescu is dead. What the fuck?). File this under "What The Hell Were They Smoking When They Made This?" This is nothing but plenty of camera zooms on Dr. Nescu's eyeballs and garish early-70's fashions. I was hoping "Tills Nescu" was an anagram, but it turns out it's just a funny name. Also starring Luis Villa and Francesco Acciaccarelli. Released on VHS by Mogul Video (under FEAST FOR THE DEVIL) and not available on U.S. DVD, although German company Marketing Films offers it on DVD under the title TANZ DES SATANS. The print I viewed was taken from a Greek-subtitled VHS tape. Rated R.

FERTILIZE THE BLASPHEMING BOMBSHELL (1989) - Another strange retitling job from Troma Films, available on Rhino Video as MARK OF THE BEAST and also known as TRIANGLE OF DEATH. Sheila Caan portrays Sandy, who, with her husband-to-be, are on their way to Las Vegas for a quickie wedding and to meet her identical twin sister Susan (Caan again), an anthropology professor who shares the same feelings (i.e. pain) as her sister. While driving through the desert, Sandy and her fiance take a shortcut off the highway and get lost. They end up in the town of Ellivnatas (Population: 13. Get it?) where they are greeted with staring eyes from the few residents. The people are devil worshippers and soon Sandy and her fiance are lured out to a canyon where her fiance is set on fire and tossed off a cliff and Sandy is stabbed in the chest as a sacrifice by the cult leader (the late Robert Tessier of HARD TIMES [1976], in one of his last roles). Susan feels Sandy's pain and begins searching for her. She meets a mechanic (Rick Hill) who joins her in the search. She ends up in that quaint little town and is threatened, physically abused and nearly run off the road. Susan tries to get the county sheriff (Bo Hopkins, who could phone in his performance) to help, but he is either unable or unwilling to give it. The remainder of the film consists of Susan running around in her underwear trying to avoid Tessier and his baddies from impregnating her with the Devil's child. Better acted and filmed than most Troma product (probably because they purchased it after production ended), this is still third-rate stuff even when compared with any one of Concorde's worst productions. One gets the notion that Bo Hopkins takes these roles to supply his dwindling liquor cabinet. John Saxon and Bo Svenson were probably at an AA meeting when this role was offered. One can only feel pity for  Robert Tessier. This is not a fitting way to end an illustrious career of playing bad guys. For Hopkins and Tessier completists only. Directed and written by Jeff Hathcock (VICTIMS - 1985; NIGHT RIPPER - 1986; STREETS OF DEATH - 1987) who's no Hitchcock.  A Troma Films Release. Rated R.

FINAL EXAM (1981) - A college quarterback and his new girlfriend are savagely stabbed by a hulking psycho while they are necking in the parking lot of March College. At nearby Lanier College the next morning, the students, on hearing the news, can only talk about how it increases their odds of their football team winning the championship this year (Kids, you gotta love 'em!). During finals, one of the fraternaties, headed by football star Wildman (Ralph Brown), stages a prank where masked terrorists come out of a van and start shooting up the campus with machine guns (if they did that today, they would be looking a serious jail time) as a diversion so Mark (John Fallon), another football jock, can cheat on one of his tests. The psycho is now also at Lanier College following Courtney (Cecile Bagdadi) around in a van. Courtney's best friend is Radish (Joel S. Rice), a nerdy genius (who has a TOOLBOX MURDERS [1978] poster on his wall), who helps her when she comes to him with personal problems. A pledge named Gary (Terry W. Farren), who just stole the answers to another test so Mark can cheat again, is tied to a tree (after being stripped to his underwear) and covered in shaving cream and left there overnight, as punishment for giving his pledge pin to his girlfriend Janet (Sherry Willis-Burch). Gary doesn't make it through the night. Neither does Janet. The killer viciously stabs both of them. The killer targets Wildman next, hanging him on some gym equipment after Wildman steals some uppers from the coach's desk. Mark is next to go, stabbed in the chest when he goes to check up on Wildman. When Radish finds Mark's body, he calls the Sheriff (Sam Kilman), but he doesn't believe him because Radish called him earlier in the day to report the fake terrorist attack. Radish also loses his life to the killer's knife. Courtney finds Radish's body and runs to warn everybody, only to find out they are all dead. Now it's just Courtney against the killer and they both have knives. Why is he killing everyone? We will never know. Does a psycho killer with a big butcher knife really need a reason?  Director/screenwriter Jimmy Huston (DARK SUNDAY - 1976; SEABO - BUCKSTONE COUNTY PRISON - 1978; MY BEST FRIEND IS A VAMPIRE - 1988) seems to have forgotten what makes a slasher film work: Lots of inventive bloody deaths. After the initial car stabbing, it takes nearly 55 minutes for the next murder to take place. The murders are always clouded in darkness, so you never see the payoffs. I will give one concession to the killer: When he stabs someone, it's usually multiple times, not "one stab and you're dead". For a slasher flick, FINAL EXAM is way too tame. The acting, by a cast of unknowns, isn't too bad, but the story just meanders along at a much too leisurely pace, playing like a low-rent version of ANIMAL HOUSE (1978) until the final 30 minutes, when all the campus fun stops and the killer dispatches everyone except Courtney who, in the finale, stabs him about a dozen times (all of it placed conveniently just off-screen). The killer's (played by Timothy L. Raynor) motivation is never explained, so the killings really have no meaning. While many real-life serial killers may kill for no reason, it helps in low-budget horror films like this if we understand why the killer is killing. There's also no nudity (although there's plenty of sex talk amongst the cast) and very little foul language. The reason for this is probably because director Jimmy Huston got his start working for producer/star Earl Owensby (this movie was filmed at his E.O. Motion Picture Studio in Shelby, North Carolina, but otherwise Owensby had nothing to do with it), whose early films were advertised as "family friendly", a mindset that Huston probably found hard to shake when he was writing the script for this. Although the film is rated R, a couple of small edits amounting to less than 5 seconds would put it in PG (not even PG-13) territory. Why bother? You shouldn't. Also starring DeAnna Robbins, Don Hepner and Mary Ellen Withers. An Embassy Home Entertainment VHS Release. Also available on anamorphic widescreen DVD from Scorpion Releasing and on Blu-Ray from Scream Factory/Code Red. Rated R.

THE FINAL TERROR (1981) - I've already reviewed the good DELIVERANCE (1972) clones, like RITUALS (1977) and JUST BEFORE DAWN (1980), so now it is time for the fair-to-middling ones. This is one of those films. It had a troubled production history (and it shows), but more on that later. The film opens with a couple riding on a motorcycle in the woods (filmed in Crescent City, California) when their cycle hits something and it ditches, falling on Jimmy's (Jim Youngs) leg (notice during the crash how the length and hair color change on the woman during and after the crash; it is an obvious stuntwoman). Lori (Lori Lee Butler) drags Jimmy to safety and then goes looking for help, but the Ranger Station is empty and locked. Lori returns, only to find Jimmy hanging upside down with his throat cut and when she runs away she triggers a booby trap made out of tin can lids and it slices her to pieces (we do not see it, only the blood on the tin can lids, but it does seem to be a very painful death). We then cut to a group of young male Forest Rangers, as they are making plans to have a camping and rafting trip with four buxom females as company. They plan on hiking 15 miles to Mill Creek and then making a 30 mile rafting trip down river, where bus driver and fellow Forest Ranger Eggar (Joe "Joey Pants" Pantoliano; THE SOPRANOS) will be waiting to drive them home. When Eggar hears they are going to Mill Creek, he becomes agitated and tells them the place is not safe and he should drive them to another location. Eggar is treated like an outcast by the rest of the crew because he acts strange (to put it politely), so when Eggar starts driving them to their destination and they pass a mental institution, Cerone (Adrian Zmed - TV's T.J. HOOKER [1982 - 1986]) says, "Hey Eggar, there's your former home!", to which Eggar shoots him a dirty look. Once at their first destination, Boone (Lewis Smith in his film debut; He would next make SOUTHERN COMFORT - 1981, which is similar in plot to this film) tells a horror story around a campfire about a murderous lumberjack who gets a woman pregnant. She has the baby boy and then goes crazy, being committed to the very same mental institution that they passed. Years later, the crazy woman's son comes for her and they escape from the mental institution and she is hiding somewhere in the same part of the forest they are in now (it ends with the typical second person jumping out of the darkness to finish the practical joke and scaring the crap out of everyone else). Eggar does not find the story funny and leaves to drive the bus to the final destination. Speaking of practical jokes, the gung-ho Zorich (John Friedrich, who gets top billing) and Nathaniel (Ernest Harden Jr.) play a practical joke on Cerone, where they agree to cut him in for one-third of a non-existent marijuana crop, as long as he stays behind and howls like a wolf (to keep away unwanted visitors) until they come back with some weed . Cerone continues to howl like a wolf through the night, while Zorich and Nathaniel return to the camp to get some sleep. When Mike (Mark Metcalf; ANIMAL HOUSE - 1978), the leader of the group, discovers the practical joke and Cerone is missing from his sleeping bag, he, Zorich and Nathaniel go looking for him, only to discover Cerone's bandanna wrapped around a bloody animal skin. Mike sends Zorich and Nathaniel back to get Mike's girlfriend, Melanie (Cindy Harrell), who also knows these woods well, to search for Cerone. Mike and Melanie decide to stop their search long enough for a little lovemaking in a stream, but Mike is brutally murdered by someone wearing animal skins and a homemade blade that is attached to the wrist (Melanie's fate is at-yet unknown). Zorich and Nathaniel find a dilapidated shack in the middle of nowhere, that is full of dead animal parts and evidence that the shack belongs to Eggar. The rest of the group, which consists of the whiny Margaret (Rachel Ward; NIGHT SCHOOL - 1981), Windy (Daryl Hannah; HIDE AND SEEK - 2000) and Vanessa (Akosua Busia; LOW BLOW - 1986), are worried when Mike and Melanie don't return (Cerone is fine and was playing a practical joke of his own on Zorich and Nathaniel, but the killer makes a visit to their camp to run it's dirt-encrusted hands through Margaret's hair and then disappear) and, that night, Vanessa discovers Mike's severed head in the outhouse and they all believe that Eggar is to blame. All of them head to the shack, where they discover Mike's severed hand in a jar (the killer is still holding a still-alive Melanie in a hidden room beneath the floor), so they decide to hop in the raft and head down river and pray the bus is there waiting for them. After Margaret warns everyone that she cannot swim (Why the hell is she even doing on this outing?), they jump in the raft and head down river, where at one point where the river is small, the killer dumps Melanie's now-dead body into their raft (her throat has been cut from ear-to-ear). Still thinking that Eggar is the killer, they are happy to find the bus is at the final destination, but the engine has been destroyed and it is going nowhere. The group (after burying Melanie's body) decide to spend the night in the bus and hike to civilization the next morning, but the killer attacks the bus at night with an ax, a spear and the wrist blade, but everyone escapes through the emergency exit window in the back of the bus. Windy manages to get separated from the rest of the group and the killer slices her neck, but the group manage to make it to her before she can be murdered. Cerone and Zorich go back to the bus to get the first aid kit to patch her up and after she is treated, the group devises a plan to trap and capture Eggar. They find the perfect place for an ambush, but Zorich begins to act strange because he has eaten some "magic mushrooms" he found in the shack (this actually turns out to be in the group's favor, as Zorich sets up the best booby trap because he is so high, the danger of setting it up doesn't affect him). Once they are ready, Cerone starts yelling out, "We're going to get you Eggar!", and Eggar takes the bait, wrapping a piece of rope around Cerone's neck, but everyone else except for Zorich is camouflaged and attack and beat Eggar to within an inch of his life. It is now discovered that the killer is actually Eggar's mother (played by male Tony Maccario, who was also in charge of Props), who kills Zorich and then sets off the booby trap: a log with sharpened wooden spikes sticking out of it that swings on a rope and impales Eggar's mother, killing her.  Although the film carries a 1983 copyright date, it was actually made in 1981 and took two years to find a distributor (Samuel Z. Arkoff was Executive Producer), thanks to the-then popularity of Zmed on T.J. HOOKER, Hannah on BLADE RUNNER (1982) and Ward on the TV mini-series THE THORN BIRDS (1983). Director Andrew Davis (CODE OF SILENCE - 1985; ABOVE THE LAW - 1988; UNDER SIEGE - 1992; THE FUGITIVE - 1993), who also photographed the film using the alias "Andreas Davidescu" (so not to piss off the Unions) does what he can with the material (Ronald Shusett of ALIEN [1979] fame was one of the screenwriters], but because the body count was so low, the opening scene with the biker couple was shot after principal photography was completed to increase the amount of deaths (it is still a small body count considering the size of the group) and the short running time. Rachel Ward is extremely bad in this because she screams out every one of her lines and generally acts like a bitch. It would have been great if she were the first victim because the film would have been so much better for it. As it stands, the film is at least bearable and not a total loss (some of the effects are rather bloody), but there are much better "terror in the woods" films than this. Originally released on VHS by Vestron Video, the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack offered from Shout! Factory sub-label Scream Factory states in the beginning that no original elements of the film could be found, so they had to use 6 different 35 mm prints to make the best version possible. After a wobbly start (the opening sequence with the bikers has a flickering effect) the Blu-Ray then looks next to pristine for the rest of the duration. This was once shown on TV under the title CARNIVORE and is also known as CAMPSITE MASSACRE, BUMP IN THE NIGHT, THE FOREST PRIMEVAL and several others (while the film was being made, there was no title, and at one time the Producers considered calling it THREE BLIND MICE because that is the song the group sings while on the bus trip). At 82 minutes, the film doesn't overstay its welcome and it is a nice time capsule to see how some of the actors got their start. A Scream Factory DVD/Blu-Ray Release. Rated R.

FLESH EATING MOTHERS (1988) - It's always a good idea when you're making a horror film to have at least one character you can sympathize with or at least root for. This ultra low-budget 16mm epic has none. After a lengthy set-up establishing the characters in a town full of adulterers, abusive husbands, bullies, angry divorced parents, crooked cops, slimey doctors and high school hooligans, the film kicks in gear when an unknown virus (passed by a cheating husband to a bunch of his married conquests) infects the women, causing them to become hungry for the taste of human flesh. When divorced cop Clyde McCormick (Mickey Ross) goes to his ex-wife's home and finds her chowing-down on their son, he shoots her in the head, since that seems to be the only place on her body that a bullet works (fuckin' George Romero and his mythology!). He's arrested for her murder when no one believes his story, although the one-armed Police Commissioner (Ken Eaton) should since he lost his arm years earlier due to a similar incident. Clyde escapes custody determined to find out what the hell is going on and why the commissioner is covering it up. It's not long before every mother and wife begins eating members of their families in very graphic ways. Clyde works with the vertically-challenged medical examiner, Dr. Grouly (Michael Feuer, one of the worst actors I have ever seen), while the surviving kids band together trying to find a way to stop their flesh eating mothers. Armed with a new vaccine (which turns out to be penicillin!) which will reverse the virus, the kids try to "stick it to" their mothers before the police kill them all.  I guess the best word to describe this film is amateurish. It's apparent when watching the film that no one in it has any acting experience as there's not a decent performance in the bunch. Director James Aviles Martin (who has since gone on to make documentaries) tries to make this a gore comedy, but fails miserably on both counts, as the gore, while extremely bloody, is not very convincing and the comedy consists of people saying lines like, "What's eating you?" and "Fuck you, you fucking cannibal!" The Elite Entertainment DVD offers the full unrated cut (Academy Entertainment offered both an R-rated edit as well as the Unrated cut on VHS), but the widescreen transfer is very grainy at times, thanks to it's 16mm origin. Like I said in the beginning, the total lack of sympathetic (nevermind believable) characters sink this film and the bad acting and chintzy make-up effects don't help either. My advice is to avoid this one unless you like sitting through 89 minutes of tedium. Also starring Robert Lee Oliver, Valorie Hubbard, Neal Rosen, Donatella Hecht, Katherine Mayfield and Grace Pettijohn. An Elite Entertainment Release. Not Rated.

FLESH FEAST (1969) - Deadly slow mixture of espionage and horror genres that's more important for its pedigree than for the actual film itself. First off, it stars 40's blonde bombshell Veronica Lake (who is also a producer) who, unfortunately looks like a bombed blonde shell of her former self. It was directed, co-produced and co-written by Brad F. Grinter, who made the classic badfilm BLOOD FREAK three years later. It was co-written by Thomas B. Casey, who would direct SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES STRANGE THINGS in 1971. Harry Kerwin, who directed GOD'S BLOODY ACRE (1975), has a small part and is production manager here. Chris Martell, who starred in SCREAM BABY, SCREAM (1969), also stars and is assistant director on this. As you can see, it's a veritable who's-who of early 70's Florida regional filmmaking. It's just too bad that FLESH FEAST is such a total bore. Lake stars as Dr. Elaine Frederick, who has perfected a rejuvenation procedure that involves specially-bred maggots that eat the flesh of dead people and, when applied to live people, give that person new youth and vigor. When some shady South American dudes in dark suits and black sunglasses hire Dr. Frederick to rejuvenate their boss, "The Commander", she prepares her lab for his arrival (her female assistant steals a female corpse from the hospital so the maggots can feed, as we see another assistant cut off the corpse's leg with a bone saw). A subplot involves a female student falling in love with Jose (Bill Rogers), one of the South Americans who have taken over Frederick's house. When Dr. Frederick performs a practice experiment on Max Bauer (Martell), an old man with a scarred face (to satisfy the S.A. dudes that her experiment is on the up-and-up), he becomes a young, spry man who proceeds to rape Jose's new girlfriend and then kills her. Jose kills him and puts his dead girlfriend in Dr. Frederick's lab. Satisfied with the outcome, the South Americans bring The Commander to Frederick's house. The Commander turns out to be Adolph Hitler (!) and Dr. Frederick has revenge on her mind, since her mother died in one of Hitler's concentration camps. The film ends abruptly with Dr. Frederick using her maggots on Hitler in a whole new way, while she cackles "Heil Hitler!" in front of a portrait of her dead mother.  Even at 72 minutes, the film seems hopelessly padded as the Jose subplot and another involving a newspaper reporter/C.I.A. agent Dan Carter (Kerwin) go nowhere and neither one is resolved. The entire film looks to have been shot silent and the post-synch dubbing, though done by the actors, barely match the lip movements. The film is also hopelessly dated, as every male character wears a dark suit with a skinny tie and most of the women sport beehive hairdos, except for Lake, who still wears her hair as she did when she was a femme fatale in films such as THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942). This was also Lake's last film, but try not to remember her this way. Doug Hobart (DEATH CURSE OF TARTU - 1966) provided the not-so-special effects, which include the aforementioned leg amputation, some old age makeup (which looks like oatmeal paste) and various body parts hanging in Dr. Frederick's lab. FLESH FEAST is worth a viewing if you are interested in Florida regional exploitation films (I think the only regional talent not involved in this were William Grefe and Wayne Crawford!), but have a stimulant handy because you'll need it. The Beverly Wilkshire DVD (which is OOP but still available on some online outlets) is pretty poor and looks like a second or third generation VHS dupe. It also has a glitch around the 11 minute mark that brings you back to the main menu. Just go to the second chapter and rewind to just after the glitch and the rest of the film plays fine. Also starring Phil Philbin, Martha Mischon, Doug Foster, Brad Townes and Otto Schlesinger. A Beverly Wilkshire DVD Release. Also available on VHS from World Video. Rated R.

FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: OUTBREAK ON A PLANE (2006) - Here's a question I have for all the big movie production companies: How is it a fun, gory horror film like this bypasses a theatrical release and goes straight to DVD and yet lousy horror films like THE RETURN (2006) and THE MESSENGERS (2007) get wide theatrical play? While nothing more than a zombie version of SNAKES ON A PLANE (2006), this film is a hoot and a half to watch. After being introduced to all the major characters on Flight 239 heading to Paris, including a cop named Truman (David Chisum); his prisoner Frank (the wonderful Kevin J. O'Connor), who profoundly professes his innocence; pro golfer Long Shot (Derek Webster); his alcoholic wife and several dozen other passengers, we learn that the evil Dr. Leo Bennett (Erick Avari), who is also on the plane, has brought a new virus on-board that can bring the dead back to life. When bad turbulence causes the cargo to shift, the virus is set loose when the cryogenically frozen body of Dr. Kelly (Laura Cayouette) is released and she begins biting and infecting passengers. As more people begin getting exposed (and turning into decaying zombies), the unafflicted passengers band together and try to figure out how to stop the infection from spreading. Dr. Bennett tries to cover-up the truth (even resorting to murder), so Truman, Long Shot, flight attendant Megan (Kristen Kerr), TSA agent Paul Rudd (Richard Tyson) and even Frank (who has escaped Truman's custody during the turbulence) pitch in and fight the zombie onslaught. With the plane's radio out of order and the government now well-aware what is loose on-board, the motley group must find a way to defeat the virus and stop the government from vaporizing the plane before it flies over a populated area. Things take a turn for the worse when both the pilot and co-pilot are infected and the plane goes on auto pilot. It will take some quick thinking and self-sacrifice to rid the plane of the zombies, stop the fighter jet from firing it's rockets and, finally, crash-landing the plane so the four survivors can walk away.  While this film is nothing more than your basic "zombies-on-the-loose where no one can escape" scenario that we have seen dozens of times before, this film has plenty of attitude (and altitude) to spare and generates a good share of scares and tension. It's also got a wicked sense of black humor. Also unusual for a film of this  type are the calibre of actors involved, some in nothing but bit parts. Besides the ones already mentioned, there's Brian Thompson (as the soldier who guards the virus on the plane and becomes it's first victim), Raymond Barry (as the pilot), Dale Midkiff (as Dr. Lucas, one of the early victims), Tucker Smallwood (as Colonel Wolff) and David Spielberg (as Dr. Conroy). The film also has some very well-done action and horror set-pieces, such as when Paul accidentally fires his weapon in the cargo hold and the bullet ends up killing a flight attendant above or the scene in the plane's bathroom, where we are led to believe a zombie is going to pop out of the toilet, only to have it suddenly appear somewhere else. There's even a scene of zombies rising up out of the ground, only in this case they are tearing their way from the plane's floors rather than from graves. The film is very bloody and goes way past an R-rating, as people are graphically eaten, shot (Paul says, "Two in the chest, one in the balls!" as he and Truman use the zombies for target practice) and dismembered. One scene shows a nun (There's one on every plane, isn't there?) having her legs chewed off as she crawls away, minus any lower limbs. So much for divine intervention! The visual humor is in some of the zombie attacks and aftermath and most of the verbal humor is supplied by Kevin J. O'Connor (DEEP RISING - 1998; THE MUMMY - 1999), but director/co-producer/co-scripter Scott Thomas (LATIN DRAGON - 2004) never allows the film to drift into satire. He prefers to play it straight and let the outlandish sights and situations (including an Asian zombie that can't figure out how to undo his seatbelt, zombies scurrying away with arms and legs in their mouths and Long Shot using his golf clubs to decapitate a zombie) speak for themselves. The zombie makeups and effects are very well done (although some of the CGI effects are obvious) and the acting is uniformly excellent, so grab this one and enjoy the ride. It's left open for a sequel and, for once, I hope it happens. This is one of my Top Ten independent horror films to be released in 2007. Also starring Todd Babcock, Siena Goines, Mieko Hillman, Sarah Laine and Brian Kolodzeij. A New Line Home Entertainment Release. Unrated.

THE FOREST (1981) - This disappointing "terror in the woods" horror film is from a director I respect (but more on him later), so I guess I was expecting more than I got. It begins with a married couple hiking in the woods, the wife fearing that someone is following them. She takes the lead and then the husband starts to feel the very same way. They forge ahead, but the husband loses sight of his wife  and someone stabs him in the stomach (one of the film's few examples of quick gore) with a shiny hunting knife (When the wife hears her husband's death throes, she says, "Huh? Did you say something" [Yeah, I'm dying, bitch!]). The woman is now scared shitless, as she backtracks and sees her husband's bloody corpse, but she then becomes the prey and eventually ends up with her throat cut with the very same knife. We are then transported to Los Angeles, where we see various shots of the usual traffic jams that clog that city's highway system. Caught in one of those traffic jams are Steve (Dean Russell) and Charlie (John Natis), where Charlie complains about the constant fog, sweltering heat and traffic jams ("It took us two hours to go four miles!"). Steve tries to calm him down, telling Charlie that he needs a vacation and he knows the exact place: a secret camping site that no one knows about (Charlie: "Why?"  Steve: "Because they don't know about it!") and talks Charlie into joining him there. It doesn't take the sharpest tool in the shed to realize where they are heading, which only means more trouble and death. Steve says he and his "jailer" (i.e. wife) are not getting along and are thinking about divorce. The two couples have dinner that night, where Charlie mentions to his wife Teddi (Ann Wilkinson) that he and Steve are going camping next weekend, so Teddi and Steve's wife Sharon (actress Tomi Barrett, who uses the name "Elaine Warner" here) tell their husbands they are going camping...tomorrow...alone. Charlie and Steve come up with the idea to follow them there (Sharon knows the secret camping place because she and Steve have been there before) but, as they begin to the next day, the radiator on Charlie's Mazda truck springs a leak and they are delayed by four hours while a garage mechanic fixes it. The wives know that their husbands are following them and Sharon becomes concerned when Steve doesn't show up, but the women start hiking by themselves and eventually make it to the secret camping spot. They notice that a thunderstorm will hit in a few hours and try to pitch a tent, but neither one of them knows how to do it. By the time Charlie and Steve make it to Steve's wife's parked car, it is rapidly approaching sundown and a Forest Ranger (played by the director) shows up and warns the two that it is dangerous to travel in this part of the forest at night because people have entered and never been seen again. Charlie and Steve ignore his advice and begin their hike and, as night falls, Charlie depends on Steve to find his way to the secret camping site. Teddi and Sharon are sitting around a campfire wondering where their husbands are and getting scared by the sounds of the forest (we hear a panther roar, but there are no panthers in the forest!), not knowing that two ghost children, John Jr. (Corky Pigeon) and Jennifer (Becki Burke) are talking nearby (we know they are ghosts because, when they talk, their words echo and reverb). Suddenly, the ghostly apparition of the children's mother (Jeanette Kelly) appears before the two frightened women and she asks, "Have you seen my children? If you do, send them home. They must be punished!" (The mother has blood dripping down her forehead). The two women are now scared witless and Sharon starts brandishing a knife, while Steve and Charlie get lost. The two ghost children go to their house in a cave, where their father, John (Genre vet Gary Kent, here using the name "Michael Brody". You really need to read his autobiography, "Shadows & Light: Journeys With Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood" from Dalton Publishing. It one of the best books about doing nearly everything in low-budget filmmaking, laced with personal stories that will make you laugh and surprise you.), tells his kids that their mother was looking for them. John is an odd duck to say the least, sitting in a wicker chair wearing ripped jeans and a t-shirt and sporting a trucker's cap. When his children tell him that two women are camped out by the river, he jumps up and goes to get them, but the two ghost children show up first, John Jr. holding a bloody knife in his hand, the blood dripping on Teddi's forehead, as the children say, "You must run. Daddy's coming." Turns out Daddy is a cannibal and hasn't eaten for days, so he gets his hands on Teddi, stabs her repeatedly with his knife as she tries to crawl away and finishes her off by slitting her throat. Sharon runs away and jumps off a cliff into the river below to escape John, as John returns to collect Teddi's body and carries her corpse back to his cave as it begins to rain. The pouring rain just delays Steve and Charlie more, as they are forced to go into a cave to stay dry, but of all the caves to pick, they pick the one John resides in. Charlie sees a huge chunk of meat cooking over a fire pit, not knowing that it is actually a chunk of flesh taken from his wife's dead body. The two ghost children tell them that their father will not be too pleased that they are there, but John suddenly appears and offers to share his meal with them. Steve says he is not hungry, but Charlie says he will try a piece and ends up eating a piece of Teddi. Charlie tells John that it is tasty, but then he gets a sudden chill and doesn't want to eat any more. When Charlie asks John why he lives in a cave, John actually is relieved to tell his story to someone for the very first time (cue the flashback!). John tells a long story about how his wife was always calling repairmen to fix some piece of kitchen appliance that has broken down. He really thinks nothing about it until one day when he comes home early from the butcher shop he works at, sick as a dog. He catches his wife in bed with the refrigerator repairman and she flaunts it in John's face, laughing at him. When John asks where their two children are, he finds his wife has locked them in the bedroom closet, so he frees them and tells them to go play outside. The repairman leaves the bedroom to repair the refrigerator, as John's wife calls him "impotent" and tells him she regularly breaks appliances so she can sleep with the repairmen that arrive. John begins to strangle her and then bashes her head against the edge of the night table, killing her (hence the blood in her forehead when she is a ghost). John then grabs a butcher knife and goes outside, tries to kill the repairman and, after a short scuffle, finally kills him on the large round blade of a huge circular saw (we really don't see any blood). He brings his children to the forest to hide, but when the children kill themselves because they are not "happy" (He doesn't tell Charlie or Steve that part of the story), John is regularly paid visits by their ghosts as well as his wife's, who still wants to hurt the children (Can one ghost actually hurt another? I guess that's a discussion for another time.) The children don't like their Daddy's killing habits, so they always give his victims a warning before he attacks, but they still love him nonetheless. Charlie and Steve leave the camp the following morning and discover that their wives' campsite is empty. They split up to go look for them, but have no luck, so they meet back at the campsite, where Steve finds a trail of blood. Meanwhile, Sharon runs into the children, who warn her to hide because "Daddy is hunting." (She finds a great hiding place in a crevass in a boulder). Steve knows something is wrong and wants to make the six hour hike back to alert the authorities. After one more quick search, Steve heads back to civilization, while Charlie remains behind at the campsite in case the women return. Steve takes a tumble down the rocks and breaks his leg (there's a quick shot of a leg bone sticking out of his skin), while the children tell Sharon that one of the men is hurt and the other one is back at the campsite. Charlie has a scary encounter with the ghost mother just before being attacked by John (Charlie: "What are you, crazy?"  John: "Crazy? We all are! I need some food because Winter's coming!"). Charlie beats up John and runs away, with John close behind. They get into a fight in a river, where John drowns Charlie, strings him upside-down from a tree and starts skinning him for meat (like a hunter does with a deer, but we really don't see anything). Sharon sees it all and when John is about to kill her, the children threaten to disappear and never see him again (which will leave him alone with his bitch wife's ghost), so he lets Sharon go. John goes and finds Steve and just as he is about to kill him, Sharon appears and stabs John to death with his own knife. I guess Steve and Sharon have reconciled and divorce is off the table, but John's wife watches as John and the children disappear forever, leaving her to roam the forest alone for all eternity. The only one that will be "punished" is her.  Since this film was directed and written by Don Jones, who was responsible for some good horror films and thrillers (WHO DID COCK ROBIN? - 1970; SCHOOLGIRLS IN CHAINS - 1973 [also starring Gary Kent]; THE LOVE BUTCHER - 1975 [which he co-directed with Mikel Angel]; LETHAL PURSUIT - 1988; and MOLLY AND THE GHOST - 1991), I was expecting a little more than I got in this film. The bloodletting is kept to a minimum, which is weird because of the cannibalism angle. I guess Jones was just doing this film for the hell of it, as he offers none of his usual tension or black humor like in most if his other films and is very light on the gore that people would expect in horror films from the early-80's. Besides being a director and screenwriter, Jones was a cinematographer and director of photography (he shot this film using the name "Nod Senoj", which will have cryptographers working overtime...not!), shooting such films as HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES (1973); SWINGER'S MASSACRE (1975); MY BOYS ARE GOOD BOYS (1977) and others, so he was a talented guy. None of that talent appears in this film, which is probably why Gary Kent, who worked on a lot more worse films with Al Adamson (DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN [1971] being one of them) using his real name, uses a pseudonym here. This is a pretty tame terror-in-the-woods film, whose subject matter should have made it much, much gorier, which makes it my least favorite of Don Jones' films. Originally released on VHS by Prism Entertainment, with a budget VHS from Starmaker Entertainment a few years later. This on one of the first DVDs released by Code Red (the spine number is 003) and then it was released by Code Red on a double feature DVD with the film DON'T GO IN THE WOODS (1981) as part of their "Exploitation Cinema Double Feature" line (now discontinued). Both DVDs command big bucks on the collectors market. This review is based on the stand-alone DVD anamorphic widescreen print, which isn't perfect (there are instances of vertical emulsion scratches and dirt sprinkled throughout the print), but it is perfectly acceptable to watch if you are a fan of this genre. Also starring Tony Gee, Stafford Morgan, Marilyn Anderson and J.L. Clark. A Code Red DVD Release. Rated R.

FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY (2015) - Although this film runs a tad too long at 115 minutes, at least the title delivers on its promise. This is not your 30's & 40's version of Frankenstein's Monster and the Mummy, because this is a rather gory flick, but when was the last time you saw a pair of legendary monsters square off (and I do not consider Al Adamson's DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN [1971] a legitimate battle because, let's face it, the film is barely watchable)? I can't think of any other film besides FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943) as the last legitimate serious horror film where we saw two monster icons fight to the death. That's a long, long time. Even though you will have to wait until this film's final 15 minutes to see the monster bashing, there is thankfully a lot of gore in the rest of the film to keep you happy. After the film offers this quote from Mary Shelley: "Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight ligaments are we bound to prosperity or ruin.", we are in the modern-day, where Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Max Rhyser; who acted in the film RAZORTOOTH [2007] under the name "Max Rishoj") is handing a pile of cash to university janitor Carter (John Pickett), so Carter can supply him with fresh corpses for his experiments. Victor is a teacher at the same university and this week's subject is "The Philosophy of Medicine", where he asks his students what it means to "exist". One student replies so we try to be immortal like God and Victor agrees, telling all of them that they have a piece of God in them; they just have to find it and use it to their full potential (Victor is most probably an Atheist and the word "God" basically means to him the "creation" of life.). Another teacher at the university, Naihla Khalil (Ashton Leigh; AMERICAN HORROR HOUSE - 2012), who is Victor's girlfriend, has just returned from an expedition to Egypt to study pyramids and has come back with a 6th Dynasty, 3,000 year-old mummy named Userkara and has brought him to a lab in the university ("Artistic License #1": No country, especially Egypt, would let an artifact like that ever leave their country). This is one of the oldest mummies ever found in the world and Victor notices that his ears are missing, where research scientist Isaac (Robert MacNaughton; the oldest brother of Henry Thomas in E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL [1982], in one of his very few films as an adult) tells Victor that his ears were cut off while he was still alive (Victor says, "He must have really pissed someone off!", to which Naihla replies, "You don't know the half of it." I wonder what she meant by that?). Isaac also says that an ancient scroll was found next to the mummy, written in a language not seen before (apparently, he was an evil pharaoh not written about in any texts or ancient books) and when Naihla translated the scroll, it says in effect that Userkara's soul is trapped within his mummified body for eternity and anyone who dares to desecrate the body are doomed to an agonizing death ("Artistic License #2": If the scroll was written in an ancient language no one has ever seen before, how did Naihla translate it?). The piece of scroll describing how to release Userkara's soul is missing, but "greater-than-thou" scientist Professor Walton (T. Boomer Tibbs; PARANORMAL ASYLUM - 2013) thinks the scroll is nothing but a scare tactic put next to the body to deter tomb raiders from stealing artifacts from Userkara's crypt. He couldn't be more wrong. It seems Carter doesn't acquire corpses for Victor, he creates them, as we seem him viciously stab a homeless man (Martin Pfeffercom) in the stomach with a long knife and then cut the top of the bum's head off with a hacksaw, removing his brain. Cut to Victor and Naihla having a romantic dinner, where she jokingly accuses Victor of being an Atheist (which I believe he is) or a Satanist (which I firmly believe he isn't), for having different views than her on life and the afterlife (She says that old standby: "There are powers on Earth greater than anyone can imagine."). Professor Walton, not heeding the scroll's warning, cuts open the mummy's chest when no one is around and a gas is released from the incision, knocking the Professor out. When he comes to, he now has some type of psychic connection to Userkara and Isaac returns from his dinner break to discover that the Professor has removed the oldest known stone carving of the Eye Of Horus (an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection) from the mummy's chest. The Professor then proceeds to slit Isaac's throat with a scalpel, making sure that the blood flowing out of the gaping wound covers Userkara's face. The mummy absorbs all the blood like it was never there and then we hear the sound of a beating heart. Victor tells Naihla that he got into medicine for a reason: His mother committed suicide (she slit her wrists in a bathtub) when he was a very young boy and, since then, he wants to know if death is permanent or if it can be reversed, something he has never told anyone before (then we have the prerequisite nude lovemaking scene). The next morning, Naihla goes down to her lab (Victor has left earlier without saying goodbye, which pisses her off) and discovers that something was removed from Userkara's chest. She also notices that Professor Walton is acting very strangely (he tells her he has been suffering from headaches) and he also acts very strange when he is teaching his students about Horus (the ancient Egyptians' national patron god who was usually depicted as a falcon-headed man wearing the pschent, or a red and white crown) and cuts the class short. Female student Lenora (Stefanie Merola) agrees to meet the Professor later that night at the lab to talk about an internship. We finally see Victor working in his laboratory, when Carter enters and demands $30,000 for the bum's brain. If Victor doesn't pay him the money, he will implicate him in the murder of a homeless man. When Carter notices a dismembered human hand moving by itself, Victor has no choice but to throw acid into Carter's face and then stab him to death (In Victor's defense, he was lying down on his back holding the knife when Carter tripped and fell on it so, technically, Victor is not a murderer). With the bum's brain in pieces on the floor, Victor has no option but to use Carter's brain (that would not be my first choice), so he grabs a hacksaw, cuts off the top of Carter's head and removes his brain, then stitching his piecemeal body together and shooting it full of so much electricity, the body begins to smoke. He is heartbroken because he thinks his experiment was a failure and he totally misses a date he set up with Naihla that night, which even pisses her off more. But was Victor's experiment actually a failure? Lenora shows up at the lab to talk to the Professor about the internship, but Userkara (Brandon deSpain; who also played the mummy in the Danny Glover DTV disaster DAY OF THE MUMMY [2014]) rises from his table for the first time, rips out her heart with his bare hands and eats it (he even makes the Professor eat a piece!). Userkara orders the Professor to bring Naihla to him, while Victor chops-up Carter's body, stuffs the pieces in plastic bags and hides them under a grate in his floor. He also notices that his naked creature is missing from the gurney and, when he turns around, the creature (Constantin Tripes) bites Victor's hand, but Victor is able to knock out the creature with some chloroform and chain him to a wall (in a tribute to the original Boris Karloff FRANKENSTEIN [1932], Victor yells out, "It's alive!"). The creature, who has the ability to speak and read, is still as ugly as my Aunt Martha without her makeup. Detective Brynner (Rahul Rai) is brought in to investigate the disappearances of Lenora and Isaac and Naihla thinks that the Professor is responsible, but she has no proof. The Professor tries to get Naihla to get close to the mummy, but she doesn't trust him and leaves the lab. Victor tries to apologize to Naihla for the missed date and leaving her bedroom early without saying goodbye, but she sees the bite on Victor's hand and follows him back to the lab. She watches Victor talking to the creature, when Victor notices her spying on him and catches her as she tries to run away. He tries to explain to her what he is doing. but all she can say to him is, "You're insane!". The creatures breaks free of his shackles on the wall and plots revenge against Victor (remember, this is Carter's brain in the creature). A nosy security guard enters Victor's lab and the creature rips his innards out, followed by removing his lower jaw with his bare hands. When Victor returns alone to his lab, he discovers the creature is now dressed in Carter's clothes and knocks Victor out. When he wakes up, Victor is chained to a pipe and the creature tells him that if he doesn't transplant his brain into a better-looking body, he will kill Naihla (a few moments before, he sees his monster face in a mirror and breaks it, not worrying about a seven year curse). Userkara then kills student William (Daniel Rodas) next, pulling out a piece of his brain through his nose using a thin metal instrument with a hook on the end (the way Egyptians prepared their mummies in ancient times). Both Frankenstein's Monster and Userkara are interested in Naihla, so I think we can all see what is coming: a monster brawl. Poor Naihla can't catch a break no matter where she runs, so she grabs a gun on the lab's floor, pumps a few shots into Userkara's body (with no effect) and then heads to Victor's lab, where she frees him with a well-placed shot to the chain. Naihla is one smart cookie, though, as she convinces Userkara that she is his superior by talking in his ancient language ("Artistic License #3": How did Naihla learn to speak a heretofore unknown language in such a short time?) and tells him to kill the Professor. Userkara stabs Professor Walton and then cuts off his tongue, nose, ears and eyes (he squishes the eyes in his hands) then kills Victor and impales Naihla on the leg with an ancient spear, but the final 15 minutes are pure monster destruction. Frankenstein's Monster and Userkara get into a royal rumble, where they fly through walls and use anything they can find as weapons. Frankenstein's Monster finally wins, cutting off one of Userkara arms, ripping out his heart and pulverizes his head by using his fists like a vise. Seeing that Victor is dead, the Monster tries to kill Naihla, but Victor isn't quite dead yet, as he plant's a cleaver into his creation's cranium, killing him. Victor then actually dies, but not before telling Naihla that he loves her and telling her to burn his journal so no one can replicate his experiment. She takes a can full of gas, douses everything with it and sets it on fire, watching her love, what remains of the two creatures and Victor's journal burn to a crisp. Now taped off as a crime scene, one of Victor's students, Trevor (Sean Rogers), tears down the tape and finds Victor's microcassette recorder beneath the burned journal ("Artistic License #4": Wouldn't the Crime Scene Unit have found that recorder as evidence?). The recorder still works, as Trevor listens to Victor describe his experiment from beginning to end. A new Victor Frankenstein is born.  Like I said earlier, the film is overlong, has some major plot holes and could use some judicious trimming, but director/screenwriter/editor/special effects makeup artist Damien Leone (ALL HALLOWS' EVE - 2013; which was also released on a double feature Blu-Ray with the film MISCHIEF NIGHT - 2013) makes a pretty good monster film, complete with some excellent makeup and gore effects (both Frankenstein's Monster and Userkara look terrific and the gore scenes go far enough for this film to be released without a rating and they are expertly done). My only real problem with this film is that Max Rhyser as Dr. Victor Frankenstein is a little too genteel to be taken seriously as a person who would defy the law to get what he needs. He comes off like some stable person who wouldn't hurt a soul (and would attend peace rallies), even though his experiments scream otherwise (Let's not get into a discussion on whether desecrating a corpse is nothing but a misdemeanor. It does affect the victims' family, whether they know about it or not.). He just isn't menacing enough. He's like the TWILIGHT (2008) version of Dr. Frankenstein. It seems like his experiments are merely a sideline, as it takes more that half the film to actually see him in his lab. The scene where Carter is talking to the homeless guy before he kills him is one of the film's most effective scenes. Carter asks the guy all types of questions, like why he doesn't stay at a shelter ("I'd rather be in prison instead!"), if he has any friends, his daughter (the bum has a blanket his daughter made him and he tells Carter as long as he has this blanket, it doesn't matter where he sleeps) and other personal questions, leading up to the homeless guy getting stabbed in the gut, with Carter's other hand over the bum's mouth telling him, "Your daughter will never have to worry about you again." It's a telling scene about how Carter picks out his victims because, even though he's a psychopath at heart, he still wants to make sure that his victims' deaths affect as few people as possible. Even though the film sports a 2015 copyright, I had the feeling that this film was made earlier, because the last description of Victor's experiments that he left on his microcassette recorder was dated 2013. Besides the film's length and some very apparent plot holes, this is a pretty decent monster film that delivers on its promise and tosses in plenty of bloody gore. Also featuring Malika Franklin, Nicholas Deluca, Alexis Lear, Nick Siano, Bryan Payor, Tien Law and Christine Simon. An RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

FREAK (1997) - Nine years ago, in Vahalla Mills, Ohio, a fat, disgusting (and pregnant) abusive mother keeps her facially deformed son locked in the attic, slapping him around and chaining him up like a dog. Mom unlocks the chains so he can eat and then goes into labor, running downstairs to deliver her baby girl, which she then throws into a burning barrel outside. The son sees her throw the baby into the fire and rescues it, then going to his mother (who is recuperating in bed) and caving her head in with a rock. A few days later, the police arrive and, since they can't find the mother, the baby girl is sent to Child Services and the deformed boy is sent to an institution. In the present day, Stacy (Amy Paliginoff) and her nine year-old adoptive sister Jodi (Andrea Johnson) are moving from Indianapolis to Virginia Beach after the sudden death of Stacy's parents. At the same time, the malformed boy, now an adult called Keller, is being moved to a different institution, when he escapes. As Stacy and Jodi enter Ohio on their way to Virginia Beach, they will cross paths with Keller and neither Stacy or Jodi will come out unaffected. I submit that you should look at Jodi's age and the fact that she's adopted to connect the dots. Keller kidnaps Jodi and heads to his mother's house. Stacy joins forces with Jason (Travis Patton), the security guard that let Keller escape, to find Jodi and stop Keller's killing spree.  This ultra-low-budget film by first time director/producer/writer Tyler Tharpe takes a while to get moving, but once it does it's pretty entertaining. It's not hard to spot the telegraphed connection between Keller and Jodi and Tharpe reveals it at the halfway mark. Although the premise for Keller's escape is kind of weak (Jason is on probation, so he doesn't report the escape because he doesn't want to lose his job!), the film does build a fair amount of suspense without being overly bloody. There's a surprising reveal about Keller's condition near the end of the film (he lost one of his senses, which explains his behavior all his life). The showdown between Stacy and Keller is much too quick and is somewhat disappointing. The film suffers from a grainy transfer and the non-acting talents of little Andrea Johnson, who looks and acts like she would rather be any place but here. The ending is also a letdown as it seems Keller is way too easy to kill. Still, for a debut film, it's none too bad and is worth at least one look. Also on the DVD is a short black & white film called HEADCHEESE (2001), a pretentious TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1975)-inspired story co-produced by Kim Henkel (co-writer of the original TCM) that was filmed on several locations used in TCM. Using sound effects, quick-cutting and weird visuals, this insipid film induced headaches rather than terror. I've crapped more interesting things. A Shock-O-Rama DVD Release. Rated R.

THE FREAKMAKER (1973) - Step right up ladies and gentlemen. Come and see the mistakes of nature. The only problem is, some of the mistakes had human hands involved. The film opens with some striking time-lapse photography of plants coming to life as Professor Nolter (Donald Pleasence) lectures his university students about certain species of plants that act like animals. He tells his students that one day we will be able to take a single cell from a fossil and grow a dinosaur by cloning it (pre-dating JURASSIC PARK by 20 years!). But what the Professor is really trying to do is fuse humans with the mutant carnivorous plants he has created, the result being a human/plant hybrid that will survive our uncertain future. The Professor has the horribly ugly Mr. Lynch (Tom Baker) snatch students from the university for use in his illicit experiments in exchange for the Professor reversing the effects of Mr. Lynch's deformed face (a task you know immediately that Nolter will never honor). The mistakes of Nolter's experiments are sent to Mr. Lynch's freak show, where paying customers scream and faint at the sight of them after paying an extra charge for the privilege. During the middle part of the film we are shown an actual freak show, where the diminutive co-owner and ringmaster Burns (Michael Dunn, who died shortly after making this film) introduces us to the Monkey Woman (Madge Garnett), the Human Pincushion (O.T.), the Frog Boy (Felix Duarte), the Alligator Girl (Ester Blackmon) and the infamous Popeye (Willie Ingram), a tall black man who can pop his eyes out of their sockets (I swear I threw up in my mouth a little!). Some university students (Julie Ege and Jill Haworth) and a visiting professor (Brad Harris) become suspicious when their friend Tony (Scott Anthony) turns up missing after visiting the freak show. After operating on Tony and transforming him into a walking Venus Flytrap mutation (who escapes), Nolter shows his true colors: a meglomaniac who cares only about his results and nothing about human life. After he has Lynch kidnap Ege for another experiment, his escaped mutation comes back for some payback. Not to be outdone, when Lynch shows his contempt for the freaks, it ends up biting him in the ass. Originally released as THE MUTATIONS and later changed to THE FREAKMAKER, this only horror effort by award winning cinematographer and director Jack Cardiff (THE LONG SHIPS - 1963; GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE - 1968) is a darn good horror flick that contains good scares, weird plant mutation creations, great colorful set direction and a music score that can best be described as eclectic. I liked that the script, by Robert D. Weinbach (also the producer) and Edward Mann, showcases the real-life freaks as human beings who look after each other as if they were one big family. You really feel for them when outsiders look at them with disgust. The DVD contains a wonderful featurette about making the film (which cost $400,000 to make), with interviews of Cardiff, Brad Harris and Weinbach (who supplies some hilarious anecdotes about Harris and Popeye). There's also a hidden Easter Egg that gives you the opening with THE MUTATIONS title. The DVD box says: "It's the 70's version of the cult classic FREAKS!" It's that and a whole lot more. Recommended. A Subversive Cinema DVD Release. Rated R.

THE FREEWAY MANIAC (1987) - Here's the film in a nutshell: An escaped mental patient terrorizes and kills the cast and crew who are filming a low-budget sci-fi flick in the middle of the desert. Yeah, I know. Big deal. The psychopath, Arthur (James Courtney), who has severe mother issues (We watch him, as a child, kill his slutty mother and her one night stand white trash boyfriend with a butcher knife), escapes from the loony bin rather easily (this mental hospital has the worst security ever!) and begins his path of death and destruction. He kills a guy walking his dog, steals his car and drives towards the desert. At the same time, a young model/actress named Linda (Loren Winters) comes home early to find her boyfriend screwing another woman. Hurt deeply, she hops in her car and drives blindly into the desert, where her car breaks down and she is forced to walk to the nearest gas station, a ramshackle dive run by the lecherous Ray (Jeff Morris). When Ray puts the moves on her, Linda runs away, right into the arms of Arthur, who decided to stop for gas. Arthur murders Ray and tries to do the same to Linda, but she fights him off (by hitting him with a car) and escapes to safety. Linda becomes a local celebrity when Arthur is recaptured; he grows more and more obsessed with Linda the more she is profiled for her bravery on the TV news. Linda uses her new-found fame to secure a starring role in a cheap sci-fi film and when Arthur catches wind of her new fame, thanks to newspapers and daily news reports, he goes full-tilt bozo and escapes the asylum again (Everyone that works there should be fired for incompetence, not only for letting him escape again, but also for supplying him with newspapers and TV that feeds his obsession!). The Linda-obsessed Arthur steals a big rig (after killing the driver), kills a bunch of wise-ass teens in a pickup truck (by running them over) and then heads towards the film shoot by foot once the truck breaks down, stopping long enough to kill a couple necking in yet another pickup truck and a couple of hikers. When the producer of the film, Bert (Sheperd Sanders), and Linda's agent, Steven (Donald Hotton; ONE DARK NIGHT - 1982), are notified that Arthur has escaped, they decide not to tell Linda for strictly personal financial reasons. As more cast and crew of the film shoot end up missing, Linda's cheating boyfriend arrives on the set and saves Linda from the clutches of Arthur. Or does he? Thankfully, the threat of a sequel never materialized.  The best way to describe this low-budget horror film with one simple word?: Lacking. The only thing this film has going in it's favor is some female nudity, as the rest of the film is dreary, from it's one-note villain, the terrible acting, the static camera work and the dearth of any notable gore. Director/co-producer Paul Winters (RED BLOOD - 2001), who also co-wrote the screenplay with master of the macabre illustrator Gahan Wilson, misses every opportunity possible to offer the audience something to like or at least find interesting. The killings are mostly bloodless, with the camera pulling away rather than focusing-in on the blood and gore. The sad fact is that the little snippets we see of the film-within-the-film seem infinitely more enjoyable than the actual film itself. At no time does Arthur seem like someone who could scare a ten year-old, never mind an adult. He looks and talks like some regular Joe, yet he survives getting shot, being thrown off the hood of a speeding car and other situations that would kill, or at least maim, a normal person. I love where films like this try to get away with making their villains superhuman or supernatural for the mere fact that they've spent most of their lives in a mental institution. It seems to me they would be the exact opposite, weak and slow. Basically, THE FREEWAY MANIAC is a complete bore, offering nothing new or remotely interesting to it's intended audience. This is an anti-horror horror film that's a slap in the face to anyone who watches it. Gahan Wilson (who designed the film's only funny prop, the "Sand Clam" used in the film-within-the-film) would rather we all forget this film was made (he refuses to talk about it). Follow his advice. Robert Bloch and Stan Lee are thanked in the closing credits. Also starring Robert Bruce, Dale Howard, Ronny Kenney, Trisha Hutton, Thad Greer, Jason Christmas, James Maniaci, Bob Harvey and Joe Perry. This Cannon Films Production was released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment and is not available on DVD. Rated R.

FROGS (1972) - Thanks in part to the success of WILLARD (1971), American International Picture wanted their own "nature gone amuck" film and fast-tracked this film, which I consider the first real true 70's "nature gone amuck" film because it actually dealt with man's inhumanity to "lower" species, polluting their grounds until they just had nothing else to do but retaliate. This was a huge success for A.I.P. (who kind of misled audiences believing that the frogs were huge because one of them holds a human hand in its mouth) and I have to say that for a PG-Rated film, this one really pushes the boundaries (a few death scenes had to be trimmed in order to get a PG Rating, but those cuts were restored beginning with Warner Home Video's VHS release of the film and it was still Rated PG). The film opens with ecologist Pickett Smith (and impossibly young and pre-moustache and beard Sam Elliott; ROAD HOUSE - 1989), who is taking photos of garbage and other things (such as dead animals) littering a lake in Florida. He is on assignment to write about how human pollution affects the ecology, especially animals, reptiles and even insects. His canoe is tipped over by a drunk Clint Crockett (Adam Roarke; DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY - 1974) as he is piloting a speedboat with his sister Karen (Joan Van Ark; THE LAST DINOSAUR - 1977) on board. Pickett loses all his equipment when his canoe overturns, so, after he pulls Clint in the water (Clint knows he deserves it), he and Karen take Pickett to the island owned by Clint & Karen's perpetually drunk wheelchair-bound father Jason Crockett (Ray Milland; an Academy Award™-winning actor who, at this stage in his career, was starring in B-Films like THE THING WITH TWO HEADS [1972] and TERROR IN THE WAX MUSEUM [1973] ), who bosses everyone around like any patriarch would. It is July and three of the Crocketts are having birthdays (Including Jason, who was born of the Fourth of July), so the whole Crockett clan are at the secluded island mansion, including Clint's also hard-drinking wife Jenny (Lynn Borden; BLACK MAMA WHITE MAMA - 1973), grandkids Jay (Hal Hodges) and Tina (Dale Willingham), cousins Michael (David Gillam; THE FIFTH MISSILE - 1986), Iris (Holly Irving; TWO-MINUTE WARNING - 1976), Stuart (George Skaff; THE MANHANDLERS - 1973), and Kenneth Martindale (Nicolas Cortland; BONNIE'S KIDS - 1972), who brings along black girlfriend Bella (Judy Pace; THE SLAMS - 1973) with him (something Jason is not too pleased with, to put it politely), as well as black maid Maybelle (Mae Mercer; THE BEGUILED - 1971) and butler Charles (Lance Taylor, Sr.; BLACULA - 1972) who have served Jason for years. When the perpetually drunk Jason finds out that Pickett is an ecologist, he hires him to find out why so many frogs (of every type) are swarming on his island (some of the bullfrogs are as large as a cat) and also to see if he can find one of his employees who was searching for the downed wire of the telephone service, since the phones aren't working in the mansion right now. It's not very long before Pickett discovers that there is more than a frog problem on this island. as he finds the dead body of Jason's employee, with swarms of snakes of every type crawling all over his body (which is unheard of in nature). Pickett flips the body of the employee, where we get a good look at his snake-bitten swollen face, one of the first instances of where this would never pass for a PG Rating today. Pickett decides to keep the man's death a secret between just him and Jason, because he does not want to panic anyone, but it is apparent that the reptiles and insects want to take over the island. Pickett believes Mother Nature is in a state of revolt because of the way we are abusing her, as the big-assed frogs jump at the windows and deadly snakes hang from a chandelier (Jason just pulls out his pistol and nonchalantly shoots it!). Even tough most of the family wants to leave to island, Jason demands that they stay, because tomorrow is his birthday and "We are the ugly rich!". A romance begins brewing between Karen and Pickett as they celebrate Jason's birthday, but Jay and Tina think it will be funny to scare some frogs by throwing firecrackers at them (They will soon learn that it is not funny at all). Since the phone still isn't working, Stuart takes the Jeep and follows the phone line down the road until he can find the break in the line. while Pickett does some exploring of the island of his own (where he discovers many instances of nature out of balance). Stuart steps out of the Jeep to shoot a pheasant he sees in the air and when he goes to recover the body, he trips and shoots himself in his knee with the shotgun. While he is on the ground writhing in pain, hundreds of spiders spin a web around him like a cocoon until he is unable to move. He is then bitten to death by the spiders (good macro-photography of a real spider's mouth as it is about to bite) and is then covered completely by webs so no one can find him (I'm sure he'll make a good meal for all these spiders). Kenneth is the next to die when he is in the greenhouse and lizards of every kind (including Gila monsters) knock some poison off a shelf and Kenneth dies of asphyxiation due to the poisonous gas that quickly fills up the greenhouse. As Bella and Pickett discover his body, the frog population starts to grow enormously, so it is apparent that the deaths will be coming a lot quicker. Iris is killed while butterfly hunting while she is soused. She is nearly attacked by snakes, but she manages to get away, only to land in a bog and be covered with leeches (as she is pulling the bloody buggers off her face, we are again reminded how this would never pass with a PG Rating today). She is then bitten by a rattlesnake and dies, while the frogs watch. (It was originally filmed that she dies in a pool of quicksand while chasing butterflies, but it was deemed too ridiculous for the movie, but you can still see that death in the film's theatrical trailer, which is included on the Blu-Ray). Michael searches for Iris, only to be killed and eaten by a bunch of alligators, as the frogs gleefully watch and croak away (The stunt man substituting for Michael wrestles a real alligator). We then see his bloody body being dragged away by an alligator, another scene you would never see in a PG film today. Karen, once again, wants to leave the island, but Jason will not let anything or anybody ruin his special day. Pickett wants everyone off the island, but Jason once asserts his authority again, only allowing Bella, Maybelle and Charles to leave (he fires both Maybelle and Charles, even though they have given the better portions their lives serving him), instructing Clint to return the speedboat once he drops them off at the dock on the other end of the lake. When they arrive at the dock, they find it strangely empty and full of frogs, as Bella, Maybelle and Charles are attacked by birds, their fates still unknown. Clint is at the dock when he notices the speedboat's mooring rope has been chewed through and the boat is several hundred yards out in the lake. He jumps in the lake to swim to the boat, but he doesn't make it, as first something bites him under the water and then a deadly cottonmouth snake bites him just as he is about to get into the boat, killing him. Jenny sees all this happen while she is watching through binoculars at the lake's edge, but her feet get stuck in the mud and she is killed by a large snapping turtle. Pickett, Karen and the kids escape by using the canoe, but it becomes snagged on something, forcing Pickett to get out of the canoe and free whatever it is stuck on. Several cottonmouths try to bite him, but he fights them off and frees the canoe and they make it to the other dock (he fires a shotgun and kills an alligator following them). They notice how extremely quiet it is (Pickett discovers Bella's suitcase destroyed and knows that she, Maybelle and Charles are dead). A stubborn Jason stays alone in his mansion, as the frogs break the windows and invade the mansion (He even thinks the phone is ringing, but there is nothing but croaking on the other end of the line. Man, these are smart frogs!). He falls out of his wheelchair, as the frogs cover his body and finally kill someone: the person whose company is one of the worst polluters in Florida, namely Jason. Pickett, Karen and the kids get picked up by a mother and her young son in a station wagon. The woman makes a comment that they are the first people they have seen for over three hours, as her son shows Jay and Tina what he has caught while at camp: a giant bullfrog. Yes, Mother Nature has attacked the entire planet and now humans are the disposable species, which just proves one thing: Don't fuck with Mother Nature, because she will always win. At the end of the final credits, we are shown a cartoon frog swallowing a human hand in one of the first post-credit sequences that I can recall in films. Like I said in the beginning of this review, I consider this the first "nature gone amuck" films of the 70's and after this became a hit for American International (thanks to a great advertising campaign, with the tag line "Today -  the pond! Tomorrow - the world!"), there were a bunch of other films in the same genre released, such as STANLEY (1972); FANGS (1974); RATTLERS (1975; DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1976),  SQUIRM (1976), THE PACK (1977), NIGHTWING (1979) and even TV Movies, including TARANTULAS: THE DEADLY CARGO (1976); THE BEASTS ARE ON THE STREETS (1978) and MANEATERS ARE LOOSE (1978; I'm purposely keeping giant animal/insect and killer bee films out of this because I consider them completely different genres). There were literally dozens of these films made in the 70's (I've barely scratched the surface in my choice of titles) and in nearly all the cases, it was man who turned these species against us. The 70's was an ecology-minded decade (where the 80's was all about "Me! Me! Me!") and then we became more concerned with terrorists with politicians turning their backs on the ecology (and global warming) and instilling a different fear into the population: The fear that your next door neighbor could be a terrorist. This is why the films made in the 70's had much more meat to them and were meaningful, if a little myopic (They were very serious issues back then, but playing armchair quarterback today, nothing much became of them). Director George McCowan (who passed away in 1995) was mainly known as a TV director, directing episodes of plenty of TV series while occasionally turning out a TV Movie (the under-appreciated THE LOVE WAR - 1970; and THE RETURN OF THE MOD SQUAD - 1989) and stepping out theatrically to make films like SHADOW OF THE HAWK (1976) and THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979; The less said about this film, the better). The screenplay, by Robert Hutchinson and Robert Blees (WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO? - 1971; SAVAGE HARVEST - 1981; another "nature run amuck" film, this time about lions) is really nothing but a string of animal and insect attacks connected together by the thinnest of plots (Mainly, Ray Milland acting like a bully), but it is a well-made film that doesn't overstay its welcome. Originally released on VHS by Warner Home Video  and then on DVD by MGM's "Midnite Movies" line. It is now available on a gorgeous double-feature Blu-Ray (with Bert I. Gordon's FOOD OF THE GODS - 1976) from Scream Factory. The anamorphic widescreen print is flawless and you can see that actual live reptiles and insects were used in the making of this. No cheap CGI or anamatronic puppets. If you like horror films from the 70's (don't worry about the PG Rating because, back in the 70's, the rating was more adult in nature and they got away with a lot more than PG films today, especially in the violence department), by all means buy this wonderful record of the 70's. A Scream Factory Blu-Ray Release. Rated PG.

FROM BENEATH (2011) - Simply horrid Canadian horror film with enough plot inconsistencies to fill a book. After a rather atmospheric opening where we watch Dan Kentley (Blake Retter), who looks like he is turning into something inhuman (one of his eyes is yellow and his body is full of black sores and veins), throwing a young girl into a lake and something grabs her, we then switch to the film proper, which goes downhill so fast, you'll feel as if you're watching a soapbox derby. Unmarried couple Sam (Lauren Watson) and Jason (Jamie Temple) drive to the desolated farmhouse (you can tell this movie is Canadian because they use the word "kilometers" instead of "miles") of her sister Elizabeth, husband (who is Dan Kentley) and two young daughters, who have started an internet business and want solitude. They get to the house and find it empty, so they follow a path outside in which they find a creepy barn and then go further, where the path ends at the lake we saw at the beginning of the film. They decide to take a swim in the lake (even though when they were in the barn we could see their breath, telling us it was freezing outside), strip down to their underwear (don't expect any nudity because there isn't any) and jump in. When they get out, Jason spots a leech-like creature crawling on Sam's back, so he knocks it off and steps on it. That's when he notices that he has one of those creatures crawling inside his leg. They go back to the house and Sam dresses the wound on Jason's leg, they make love (Really?) and she tells him that she loves him, but he can't say it back (he has committment issues due to something that happened in his childhood). The wound becomes more and more infected, causing the same types of black veins on his leg as we saw on Dan's body. Sam tries to call for an ambulance on a land line in one of the many phones in the house (her cell phone doesn't work because they are in a dead zone, one of the oldest excuses in a horror film since cell phones became commonplace), but the lines are dead, so they decide to drive back to civilization. Of course, the car doesn't work (another horror film stereotype), so they go back to the house, where Jason begins hallucinating and tries to strangle Sam a couple of times. Rather than running away, Sam stays with Jason because he finally says "I love you" (C'mon now!), as his leg becomes more and more infected. They notice a locked door and find the key under a waterproof flashlight. They open the door and find Elizabeth's decomposing body. Jason talks Sam into moving the body out of the house and leave it by the lake (He doesn't want it to be put where Sam can see it out the window!). Jason finally becomes a monster while Sam goes back to the lake, where she finds a sign hidden under the grass that says the lake is off limits for swimming due to biological contamination (The closest you'll ever find out exactly what these creatures are). When she goes back to the house, Jason knocks her out and carries her back to the lake, where tentacles grab Sam on her leg and begin dragging her underwater. Noticing that bright light seems to be the creatures (and Jason's) kryptonite, she uses the flashlight on the tentacles and on Jason, getting out of the water in the nick of time. For just a moment, Jason become human again, grabs the flashlight and jumps into the lake, where we see a blast of bright light and nothing else. At the finale, Sam discovers she is pregnant, lifts up her shirt and has black veins on her stomach. She screams. THE END. I can't begin to tell you how bad this film is, but I can tell you who to blame. His name is David Doucette and he directed, wrote, co-produced, did the cinematography and edited this hellish effort, every one for the first time on a feature-length film (it clocks in at a scant 82 minutes and the end credits only last for about 30 seconds because the majority of names are Doucette's. It doesn't even have a copyright date.). His screenplay for this ultra-low-budget effort is the biggest problem of the film and contains so many holes, it would make a swarm of moths in a sweater factory jealous. The biggest hole is why there are no computers in Sam's sister's house when they are running an internet business? Not one single computer is seen (not to mention not a single TV), probably because the budget wouldn't allow it, so why doesn't the screenplay give the family another reason for living there? There is a small digital camcorder that Sam finds in one of her neice's bedroom that details what happened to her sister and family, but it doesn't add anything to further the plot. And since bright light seems to kill these creatures, wouldn't the sun hitting the lake qualify as a bright light? While basically a two character film, these are two people that deserve their fates because they do things that just defy reason (especially moving the corpse of the sister and not noticing her car is covered by brush). There's very little blood or gore; just close-ups of Jason's leg wound as it gets worse, dripping green puss and Jason hallucinating a couple of times where blood flows out of Sam's mouth. The acting is also a step below amateurish (Lauren Watson has had uncredited bit parts in films like RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES [2011], but everyone else here is an acting virgin) and the sound recording is technically sub-par. Do yourself a favor and spend the 82 minutes doing something else, like trying to clip the nails of a rabid raccoon while blindfolded. Anything you do would be better than watching this boring mess. Also starring Bella Hawkesboyd as the corpse of Elizabeth. A Midnight Releasing DVD Release. Not Rated.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY (1998) - I've read many bad reviews for this belated sequel to the Robert Rodriquez/Quentin Tarantino 1995 hit (they both executive-produced this one), but I enjoyed it immensely. This is a highly entertaining vampire flick. Buck (Robert Patrick, who replaced David Duchovny on THE X-FILES [1993 - 2002]) joins escaped bank robber Luther (Duane Whitaker, who also co-wrote the screenplay) and his gang to rob a bank in Mexico. Along the way, Luther is bitten by two vampires (Danny Trejo, the only returning actor from the first film [and the only actor to appear in all three films] and this film's editor, Bob Murawski) after stopping at the infamous Titty Twister bar. Needless to say, he infects everyone in his gang except Buck, who must convince sheriff Otis Lawson (Bo Hopkins, who looks like he is having fun) that he is not dealing with normal bank robbers. The final showdown at the bank is a bloody mixture of bullet hits, neck bitings, Hong Kong-style stunts, impalements and disintegrations. Director/Co-screenwriter Scott Spiegel (INTRUDER, a.k.a. BLOODNIGHT - 1989) lays on the gore (supplied by the KNB effects house) thick and heavy and supplies enough inventive POV shots (courtesy of DOP Philip Lee) to keep your eyes occupied long enough to let you ignore some major gaping plot holes (that must be the longest total eclipse in history!). This is clearly a case of style over substance and, in this film, it works. This is strictly played for laughs, with lines such as, "I'd kill your ass if you weren't already dead!" and is probably the first time you will see a vampire killed with a pair of mirrored sunglasses! You could do a whole lot worse than rent this low-budget gem. I guarantee that you will not be bored. Also starring Muse Watson, Brett Harrelson and Raymond Cruz with cameos by Bruce Campbell and Tiffany Amber Thiessen. Filmed in South Africa, but unlike most films lensed there that try to pass themselves off as the United States, Mexico or someplace else, you wouldn't know it unless you read the end credits. Followed by FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3: THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER (2000). A Dimension Home Video & DVD Release, with a re-release on DVD from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment in 2011. Rated R.

FROM WITHIN (2007) - Talk about lost potential. Here's a film that begins with an interesting idea, but stumbles soon after and never regains its footing. Natalie (Rumer Willis; SORORITY ROW - 2009) watches helplessly as her boyfriend pulls out a gun and kills himself by swallowing a bullet. She runs to her father Bernard's (Jared Harris) clothing store, where Lindsay (Elizabeth Rice) and stepmom Trish (Laura Allen; THE 4400 [2004 - 2007]) are buying a dress for church. The blood-covered Natalie tells Lindsay that a strange woman has been following her since her boyfriend offed himself and to tell Bernard to check outside. A few seconds later, Natalie is found dead with a pair of scissors sticking out of her neck, another apparent suicide. Since Natalie and her boyfriend were the goth couple in town, no one (besides her father) makes too much of the suicides, but it is apparent to the viewer that something much more sinister is going on. Later that night, Bernard is visited by some unseen form and is killed, which will also be deemed a suicide since he is found hanging in the rafters by his niece. A pattern starts to emerge where whoever finds the last "suicide" is doomed to be the next victim of the suicide sickness. This splits the town into two factions: One faction, led by Pastor Joe (Steven Culp; HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER - 2001) and his son Dylan (Kelly Blatz), blame the family of Aidan (Thomas Dekker; LAID TO REST - 2009), whose mother, Molly (Amanda Babin), was believed to be a witch and may have been killed by Pastor Joe and his followers in a fire years earlier that was declared to be an accident by the authorities. Lindsay gets caught in the middle when her boyfriend Dylan beats-up Aidan and she drives Aidan home. This doesn't sit too well with drunken stepmom Trish, who warns Lindsay to stay away from Aidan and stick to her current boyfriend Dylan, who also warns that "this town takes care of its own." Lindsay goes to Aidan's house to warn him about upcoming reprisals and she meets Aidan's cousin, Sadie (Margo Harshman), who warns Aidan to keep "outsiders" out of their business (there's a lot of "warning" in this movie). Things get downright creepy when Bernard's niece is visited by a spooky woman who slits her wrists on some broken glass. The next day, Lindsay's best friend Claire (Brittany Robertson) passes by the spooky woman's dead body and is infected. A short while later, Claire gets into a car accident and is burned alive.  Trish witnesses the accident  and becomes infected. She is tricked into drinking a bottle of drain cleaner by her image in the bathroom mirror (her image makes the drain cleaner look like a bottle of bourbon!). Lindsay, who has just been abducted by Dylan, Pastor Joe, Sadie and her white trash father Roy (Adam Goldberg; STAY ALIVE - 2006), has an exorcism performed on her, discovers Trish's body in the bathroom and becomes next in line to be infected with the sickness. Lindsay races to Aidan's house in hopes of finding a cure, but what she learns instead is that her fate lies in a cursed book and only a real, true suicide can stop the sickness from spreading. But just who has to willingly give up their life? And will uber-religious dickhead Dylan ruin the whole thing? Make sure to stay through the end credits to find out.  This so-so horror film, part of AFTER DARK HORRORFEST III (a series of eight films given a limited theatrical release in January 2009), has some really creepy scenes, but it isn't wholly successful. Director Phedon Papamichael (SKETCH ARTIST - 1992; DARK SIDE OF GENIUS - 1994) has an eye for framing shots for maximum effectiveness (he should, as he's an excellent cinematographer by trade), but the screenplay, by Brad Keene (THE GRAVEDANCERS - 2006), begins falling apart at the halfway mark, when it becomes clear that Keene is merely copying plot points from successful J-Horror flicks, where stringy-haired ghosts and evil doppelgangers begin killing townspeople, all over a cursed book (substitute a VHS tape or a cell phone and you'll quickly get the connection). The acting is uniformly good and there are some good gore and scares, but FROM WITHIN just gets downright silly and unbelievable as it progresses to its ridiculous conclusion. Hey, I'm not a religious man, but even I found the use of religion here as a representation of evil more than a little heavy-handed. This is one of those films that begins like gangbusters and then peters-out like a silent-but-deadly fart. Also starring Michelle Babin as Evil Molly. A Lionsgate Home Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.

FRONTIER(S) (2007) - What is it with the French lately? The new millennium seems to have brought out the bloodlust in them, with films like THE NEST (2002; really worthwhile viewing), HAUTE TENSION (2003), CALVAIRE (2004), SHEITAN (2006), MARTYRS (2008) and this film (Not surprisingly, Los Angeles movie "suits" have pulled most of these films' directors from France to make "Hollywoodized" genre films). FRONTIER(S) opens with a real-life violent time in French history. In 2005, a major race riot broke out on the streets of Paris due to the police chasing two teens on a minor charge, which resulted in the teens accidentally electrocuting themselves while trying to hide in a power plant. Thousands of teens and other sympathizers protested in the streets and eventually it turned into a violent riot, thanks once again to the police mishandling the situation by using brutal violence on the crowds (This film does play loose with the actual facts, changing the riots to coincide with a volitile political election). Within this background of violence in the streets, we meet Yasmine (Karina Testa), who is three months pregnant and looking for a safe way to get out of Paris. With her brother Sami (Adel Bencherif) shot and bleeding during the riots, Yasmine calls ex-boyfriend Alex (Aurelien Wiik), the unborn baby's father, for some help, not realizing that Alex, along with friends Tom (David Saracino) and Farid (Chems Dahmani), using the riots as a cover, have just pulled a bank heist and killed a couple of cops. Alex agrees to take Sami and Yasmine to the hospital, while Tom and Farid take their stolen loot and hide out in the "frontier" (their term for the countryside). Alex waits outside the hospital while Yasmine and a mortally wounded Sami go inside. Just before he dies, Sami begs Yasmine to keep the baby (she is seriously thinking about getting an illegal late-term abortion) and she must leave the hospital quickly because the police are approaching. Tom and Farid end up at their destination, a quaint little inn in the middle of nowhere, only this little inn may be the most terrifying place on Earth. The innkeeper, Goetz (Samuel Le Bihan), is a tall, bald-headed brute who tells his two sisters, Gilberte (Estelle Lefebure) and Klaudia (Amelie Daure), to make sure that Tom and Farid are made to feel at home (This also involves sex, but the girls have very violent sex with the guys and both girls seem to love it). At the dinner table, Goetz feeds the guys some mystery meat (thinking it is pork, Farid declines because of his Muslim upbringing) and they then watch Goetz and his sisters force-feed their comatose mother at the dinner table. Later that night, Goetz's equally brawny and bald cop brother, Karl (Patrick Legardes), tries to steal Tom and Farid's money bag, which results in Tom being beaten with a pipe before getting a couple of fingers blown-off with Karl's gun. Tom and Farid manage to escape in their car, but Goetz runs them off the road and they crash down a mine shaft. Goetz thinks they are dead, but Tom and Farid manage to get out of the car and crawl through the mine shaft, only to have Tom's head caved-in withy a sledgehammer by another one of Goetz's bald-headed brothers, Hans (Joel Lefrancois). With Farid and his trusty night-vision video camera trapped in the mine with crawling cannibalistic dwellers chasing him, Yasmine and Alex arrive at the inn and, you guessed it, are about to have a night they will never forget, but only if they make it out alive. It seems that Goetz and his rather large family are not only cannibals, they are also white supremacists ruled over by their elderly father Von Geisler (Jean-Pierre Jorris), an escaped Nazi from World War II, who wants to make Yasmine "pure" so she can marry Karl and keep the family bloodline flowing. Let the torture begin.  Director/screenwriter Xavier Gens (HITMAN - 2007; THE DIVIDE - 2011) may have thrown a little historical accuracy into the horror mix, but when all is said and done (and yes, I do get the irony that the "frontier" is more dangerous than the riot-torn streets of Paris), it's easy to see that Gens fashioned his film on the unexpected success of HOSTEL (2005). It's obvious that the second half of the film exists solely to show human beings being mistreated and tortured in the worst ways possible, whether it is Tom hanging upside down, suspended by his ankles that are impaled on curved blades (he eventually has his throat cut and bleeds out); Farid being caught in a huge pressure cooker and slowly roasted to death (Yum!); Alex having his achilles' tendons sliced with a huge set of tongs; or a pregnant Yasmine having to swin through pig shit to escape, but she is eventually recaptured, has all her hair cut off (it is too dark for dear old Nazi dad) and is forced to eat the cooked flesh of Alex. What about Yasmine's unborn baby? Well, the film implies that she wants to keep it (she did make a promise to a dying Sami) after she is brutally punched, kicked and gun-butted, yet ends up killing most of the Nazi family single-handedly (including a nasty buzzsaw death and biting a meaty chunk out of Gilberte's neck). Whatever political statement Gens was trying to make with this film gets lost in a flood of unflinching bloodshed (nothing is left to the imagination), lots of "shakey-cam" photography (especially in the first half) and trying to humanize (not to mention feeling sorry for) some members of the Nazi clan. It just doesn't wash. I don't like using the term "torture porn", but that is exactly what the second half of FRONTIER(S) is. Why the "S" is in parenthesis is a head-scratcher and open to many interpretations. Mine would be that there are many such places in the world (The actual name of the sign is "Frontiere", which is French for "border") that deal with this type of degradation and our group of unlucky victims just happened upon one of them. Others believe the "S" stands for the Nazi "SS", but I find that explanation a little hard to swallow. Or maybe it's just a French cultural thing and has no purposeful meaning. Also starring Maud Forget and Rosine Favey. This was supposed to be one of the films in the second annual AFTER DARK FILM FEST 2007, but when the MPAA slapped an NC-17 rating on the film because the subject matter was deemed too controversial and violent, it was dropped from the theatrical roster (it did manage to get a small regional theatrical release a few months later, but not many theaters, even today, will show films with NC-17 ratings), but was released on DVD by Lionsgate Entertainment as part of the series. Unrated.

FUNERAL HOME (1980) - When Heather (Lesleh Donaldson) goes to help her Grandmother (Kay Hawtrey) turn her old funeral home into a tourist hotel, strange things begin to happen. Tourists begin to disappear, a land developer's car is found buried in a haystack and something strange is going on down in the cellar. Could it have something to do with the disappearance of Heather's Grandfather (Jack Van Evera), who one day just up and vanished? Does retarded Billy Hibbs (Stephen E. Miller) know more than Grandma will let him tell? What about the strange male voice that comes out of the basement? And just what is buried in gthe lake at the nearby quarry? Heather begins a relationship with Rick Yates (Dean Garbett) which Grandma doesn't take a liking to since his brother Joe (Alf Humphreys) is a local police officer. Joe is able to tie the land developer's disappearance to a plan involving buying up all the land in the county, except Grandma refused to sell because they wanted to move the graveyard. The Sheriff (Bob Warner) tells Joe to drop the case. A cheating husband (Harvey Atkin) and his mistress (Peggy Mahon), who are staying at the converted hotel much to Grandma's prudish consternation, are pushed off a cliff in their car at the quarry by someone driving a beat-up pickup truck. It seems the locked basement holds the key and anyone who enters there is sure to be slaughtered. If this all sound a little too much like PSYCHO you would be right but it does have a charm all its' own. The acting is generally good, and while not extremely bloody or gory, it does shock on occasion. Director William Fruet (DEATH WEEKEND - 1976, SPASMS - 1982; THE KILLER INSTINCT - 1982; KILLER PARTY - 1986 and many other films and TV shows) is an old master at these Canadian horror thrillers and shows a sure hand at handling the suspense. While by no means a classic, FUNERAL HOME (a.k.a. CRIES IN THE NIGHT) is a lot of fun to watch, especially for fans of this type of film (myself included). When I first saw this film in a theatre in the early 80's, I hated it. Maturity has gotten the better of me, since I no longer judge a film by it's gore quotient. This is actually a pretty good story that also stars Barry Morse as a border who is not quite what he seems. A Paragon Home Video Release. Paragon, based in Las Vegas, released a slew of strange horror/action/gore films in the early to mid-80's, such as ONE-ARMED EXECUTIONER (1980), THE WITCHING (1972), MONGREL (1982) and many others, most of them not available on DVD. Try eBay to pick these little gems. They're worth it just for the 15 minutes of obscure trailers that precede each film. Rated R.

THE FUN PARK (2007) - Regional Oklahoma-lensed horror flick. When Wilson Creek police find a bloody and bruised Megan Davis (Jillian Murray) on the side of the road, she relates to them a story about five of her friends being murdered at an abandoned amusement park; a story so brutal, the police have problems believing her. And rightly so, since there is no evidence of foul play at the Fun Park to back up her story and a background check of Megan's past reveals that she hasn't had the best childhood and may be suffering psychological problems because of it. That is not to say that the Fun Park hasn't had its share of controversy in the past. The story begins years earlier, when crazy mother Waureen Renquist (Verna Vaughn) would physically and mentally abuse her son, Kestor (Mike Leipart), forcing him to wear clown makeup and making him perform private shows for her. When the police found out about the abuse, they institutionalize Waureen (until she died) and Kestor bounced from foster home to foster home until he was murdered twenty years ago. So why does Megan insist that Kestor is responsible for the deaths of her five friends? That question falls into the lap of Megan's court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Marissa Jade (Jennifer Ferguson), who must separate the fact from fiction. She investigates Kestor's past and discovers that when he became an adult, he still wore the clown makeup and called himself Bobo, working at the Fun Park as a water-dunking clown for several years, where he was quite popular (even with the ladies). Then, for some unknown reason, Kestor snapped and murdered the judge that committed his mother to the insane asylum (Kestor was found wearing the judge's face!). He was then committed to the same asylum as his dead mother, but he soon escaped and DNA blood evidence found at the Fun Park revealed that Kestor was dead, even though his body was never found (that's never a good sign). The Fun Park was closed down for good and it remained shut down until Megan told her horrible story (and if it is true, Kestor is now 55 to 60 years old). Dr. Jade has a session with Megan and the film switches to a series of flashbacks mixed with the current session. We learn that Megan's mother was a whore and she never knew her father. We also learn that Dr. Jade has recently suffered a miscarriage and this is her first case since losing her baby. As more flashbacks reveal what actually happened to Megan and her five friends at the abandoned Fun Park, including her boyfriend Justin (Randy Wayne), who is moving far away to attend college, it becomes clear to the viewers that what we see through Megan's eyes and mind may not be as cut and dried as it seems. Will Dr. Jade be able to separate fact from fantasy or is Megan doomed to spend the rest of her life in a rubber room? Perhaps a video camera found at the scene of the crimes will clear things up?  This is by no means a normal modern day horror film. It is more like a picture puzzle that the viewer must piece together as the film progresses; the only problem being is that two or more pieces of the puzzle may fit into the same empty slot, so we must decide which piece actually belongs there. Director/screenwriter/co-producer Rick Walker (an Oklahoma radio DJ whose only other film is the 2002 love story SAM & JANET) does a good job keeping the audience guessing, but there are many long stretches where nothing really happens, especially when the flashbacks take us to Megan and her five friends at the Fun Park during that fateful night. We are treated to so many false "jump" scares during this sequence that when we actually get to the violence, it loses its effectiveness. There are also a few huge leaps in logic (The biggest one being: Why would an abandoned amusement park closed for the last twenty years still have electricity and working video games?), the gore quotient is pretty low (those expecting a non-stop bloodbath will be bitterly disappointed) and the flashback scenes are lensed using a sickly green filter (making it look like it was shot through a bottle of Mountain Dew), but for the most part THE FUN PARK is just different enough to merit a rental even if the final denouement is a cop-out. As far as psychological horror films go, this was gets a few extra points for its somewhat unique story structure (the ambient noise soundtrack and the dialogue-less killings during the flashbacks are sure to raise a few goosebumps). Also starring Sara Rae Foster, Trevor David, Randy Colton, Todd Lisenbee, Jesse Albright, Clint Caswell, Vanessa Altshuler, Rod Meyer and Warren Hoover. An Empire Home Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

THE FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (1970) - This is the third, and weakest, of Waldemar Daninsky's (Paul Naschy) werewolf sagas thanks to the lazy direction of Jose Maria Zabalza (who, according to Naschy, was drunk through most of the filming) and the soap opera-like plot (by screenwriter Naschy, using his real name Jacinto Molina). Professor Waldemar Daninsky (here renamed "Walter" for it's American release) returns from his trip to Tibet afflicted with lycanthropy, a pentagram burned into his chest. He finds out from fellow teacher Dr. Ilona Elmann (Perla Cristal) that his wife Erika (Pilar Zorrilla) has been having an affair. At first, Waldemar doesn't believe Ilona (who secretly is in love with him), but when his car's brakes are tampered with and he gets into a serious accident, he comes around. He goes home, turns into a werewolf, bites Erika and kills her lover. He then runs amok and is electrocuted by a power line. Everyone but Ilona thinks Waldemar is dead, so they bury him. Ilona has him dug up and brings him back to her laboratory, where she straps him to a table and begins experimenting on him, hoping to cure him of his werewolfism and turn him into one of her loyal zombies. Meanwhile, the police and a nosy reporter are investigating Daninsky's death and the subsequent grave robbery. While Ilona performs her experiments, Waldemar  turns into a werewolf. She chains him to a wall and tries to whip the werewolf out of him but he escapes and kills a university student and nearly kills a young woman going to bed, but stops himself. He does manage to kill a husband and his wife in their kitchen, though. The police use dogs to track Daninsky, but lose his scent when he turns back into a human. Waldemar and new friend Karen (Veronica Lujan) try to escape Ilona's lab and find her hidden basement of failed experiments. They set them free and then find Ilona's diary, where Waldemar learns that Ilona has set him up from the start. His wife Erika is now a werewolf and is under Ilona's control. As with all of the Daninsky films, it ends rather badly for nearly everyone.  This film makes absolutely no sense (How does Waldemar break his chains? Why does he go back to Ilona's lab after he has just escaped from it?) and, therefore is enjoyable for all the wrong reasons. It jumps all over the place and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the orgy scenes, Waldemar's fight with a man in shiny armor (what the fuck?) and the purpose of Ilona's experiments. Characters pop in and then disappear, never to be seen again. Ilona's basement of freaks and failed experiments is another head-scratcher. Why would Karen and Waldemar set them free only to fight and kill most of them a few minutes later? If you're looking for answers, don't bother, as there aren't any. There's an unbelievable trite scene near the end of the film where the reporter gets all the answers he needs by asking some previously unseen girl questions in a bar. It's just lazy writing as it tries to tie up all the loose ends with a 30 second scene. The fight between Waldemar and Erika in the finale elicits grins rather than fright. Storywise, this is the worst film in the series and director Zabalza adds nothing of worth visually to the film, probably because he was hammered for the entire shoot. It's also very light in the blood and nudity department, but this could be because the print I viewed came from Avco Embassy (the version titled WEREWOLF NEVER SLEEPS purportedly has more blood and nudity). It's not a TV print, though, because it does contain too much blood for 70's television (Embassy did release this as part of a mid-70's Spanish horror TV package, along with A BELL FROM HELL (1971), NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS (1973), THE WITCHES MOUNTAIN (1971) and others). The next chapter in the Daninsky saga, the excellent WEREWOLF SHADOW (1970), picks up immediately after FURY ends. Also starring Mark Stevens, Michel Rivers and Francisco Amoros. Originally released in a cut print on Unicorn Video and an uncut print on Charter Entertainment. It is now in the public domain and can be purchased on DVD from various budget companies (but in the edited print). Not Rated.

THE GAME (1982) - Three millionaires, tired of playing tennis and attending socialite events, devise an unusual annual event to keep themselves amused. It's called "The Game Of Fear" and it goes like this: Gather an assorted group of people with no family or dependents at a secluded northwestern resort and try to scare the hell out of them. The last person to remain at the resort will receive a prize of one million dollars. Events soon turn deadly as members of the group begin to disappear, meeting grizzly fates. One man is hanged. Another is eaten alive by rats. A girl is shot in the head. After a while it becomes apparent that the three millionaires have nothing to do with the deaths. Then who could it be? Could it be the scarfaced hunchback we briefly glimpse throughout the film? Could it be one of the remaining survivors of the game? Or could it be some as yet unseen killer?  If you guessed the last one, you would be right. As the remaining three survivors of the game leave the resort convinced that it was all a joke and the victims are safe at a motel down the road, the three millionaires are killed by an unexplained ghostly spectre. But even that isn't what it seems. Filmed around the same time as his DEMONS OF LUDLOW and RANA: THE LEGEND OF SHADOW LAKE (a.k.a. CROAKED: FROG MONSTER FROM HELL), it looks like director Bill Rebane (INVASION FROM INNER EARTH - 1974) was making this up as he went along. It doesn't make much sense and contains very little nudity (one scene) and very sparse gore, which pretty much knocks off any reason for viewing this Wisconson-lensed whodunit. Rebane does show he has a sense of humor by having his earlier film, THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (1975), showing on TV while a girl is attacked by a rubbery monster that bursts from her bed. The ghostly spectre at the finale is a frightening creation, but all in all, you'll not be missing much if you let this one pass you by. Now if I could only get my hands on Rebane's BLOOD HARVEST (1985 - purportedly his best film). It's the only film of his I haven't seen. It stars Tiny Tim (!) as a clown who goes on a murderous rampage (or does he?). If it stars Tiny Tim, it must be a horror! (NOTE: I've seen it. See review.) THE GAME (also known as THE COLD) stars Tom Blair, Carol Perry, Stuart Osborne and Don Arthur.  A Trans World Entertainment Release. Rated R.

GARDEN OF THE DEAD (1972) - Out of all the zombie films I have viewed over the years, this one holds the title in the following three categories: 1 - It's the shortest (59 minutes); 2 - It's the cheapest (it looks like it was filmed for around $59.00; and, 3 - it's mind-numbingly dumb (written by someone with an IQ of 59). The threadbare plot concerns a bunch of prison camp inmates who manufacture formaldahyde (huh?) for the camp's sadistic warden. The inmates also endlessly sniff the formaldahyde to get high and plan to escape the prison camp. They steal a truck with barrels of formaldahyde and speed off to freedom. Unfortunately, the warden is wise to their plan and ambushes them, causing the inmates to crash the truck, not only killing them but also drenching them in spilled formaldahyde. The warden orders the other inmates to bury them (in what has to be the shallowest graves ever committed to film) and to keep their mouths shut. Wouldn't you know it? The dead inmates rise from their dirt blankets to exact revenge for their deaths. Their only weakness: Light. Any kind of light. Flashlights, headlights, lightbulbs, etc. While the living population of the prison camp try to keep the generator going, the formaldahyde zombies pick them off one-by-one. Where do I start to describe what's wrong with this dizzying exercize in ineptitude? For starters, there's no blood! I've often heard rumors that there's a longer version available, but so far that's all it is: a rumor. The version I viewed is rated PG and it does show some jump cuts which does make me believe that it's edited. Garden tools are shown thrusting down on the victims but never hitting them. If you look closely, you can see blood on the garden tools. That's all the blood on view here. The zombies are another cheap creation. This was an early job for Joe Blasco (who created and played the creature in TRACK OF THE MOONBEAST - 1972) and it looks like he slapped some green-gray makeup on their faces and blackened out their eyes. Their hands look completely normal. The disintegration scenes consist of the zombies letting an Alka-Seltzer dissolve in their mouths. Add to that: a prison a blind man could escape from; total lapses of logic, reason or continuity and absolutely no foul language or sex and you come up with a film that should be viewed only while under the influence of a controlled substance (formaldahyde will do). Directed rather shabbily by the late John Hayes, who has done much better. See DREAM NO EVIL (1970) and GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1972) for Hayes' career highlights. GARDEN OF THE DEAD (a.k.a. TOMB OF THE UNDEAD and GRAVE OF THE UNDEAD) stars John Dennis (THE SLAMS - 1973), Eric Stern (THE LOVE BUTCHER - 1975), Duncan McCloud (BLACK GODFATHER - 1974), Carmen Filpi (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK - 1981) and a cameo appearance by Lee Frost. A Retromedia Entertainment DVD Release.  Rated PG.

THE GATES OF HELL PART II: DEAD AWAKENING (1988) - You know a film is in trouble when it opens with a dedication to the memory of Lucio Fulci. The problem is, Lucio Fulci was still alive in 1988! The Texas-lensed film then proceeds with a voiceover by lead actress Tamara Hext, who plays Sandra Curtis, where she says such mind-numbing things as, "In the morning, my sister will still be dead." I certainly hope so! As this regional no-budgeter moves ahead, it's easy to see that the filmmakers try to emulate Fulci's style (it even has two guys on phones speaking English-subtitled Italian), but only Fulci could do Fulci and even then, he had a hard time doing it. I will give this film some proper respect for being confusing as an 80's Fulci film, as this whole production has a disjointed feel to it; like it is nothing but a series of unrelated scenes edited together. Supposedly, this is a film about "separate realities", as one minute we see Sandra's sister, Marilyn (Tracy Baldwin), waiting by her car on some dark, deserted road, when someone in a car pulls next to her and then we switch to two guys  (one of them wearing a "Dallas Naval Air Station" trucker cap) who are rock climbing and discover a corpse before both of them are chased and killed by a grunting demon. We then switch to three people in a bar discussing something bad (One guy says, "I don't like it. I think we should call this off." While another guy says, "It's too late.") and suddenly it is five weeks later and Sandra is in a bar getting sloshed and has the cops called on her for throwing a drink on the bartender. The cop, Nick Berkley (Tom Campitelli), takes pity on her drunk ass and drives her passed-out body home after rifling through her purse for her address (and ogling her legs). Being a woman, Sandra takes advantage of the situation and invites Nick to a bar the next night, where she offers to pay him to work on his off-duty hours to find Marilyn, who has been missing for (you guessed it) five weeks. Sandra tells Nick about the nightmares she's been having since Marilyn went missing, where she and Marilyn are standing on the top of a cliff and Marilyn falls down it. Nick agrees to help her and immediately takes a week's vacation (I guess that's how long it takes to find a missing person in Texas).  We then cut to an ominous group of men (all shown in extreme close-up, probably because the budget couldn't afford a set) discussing a bad situation and saying stuff like, "We called it to serve us!" We then switch to a security guard in a warehouse calling his wife and then listening to her being murdered over the phone. What The Fuck?!? When Sandra and Nick check out Marilyn's office (she was a travel agent), they find a mysterious medallion and get paid a visit by the even more mysterious Randy Sternman (Randy Strickland), who is looking for Marilyn. Meanwhile, the group of ominous men continue to make arcane statements about "conjuring demons" and then one of them is hit over the head by a flying Bible. More confusing shit happens, like a mother being killed in her garage by the demon while her two young boys watch. Sandra and Nick begin questioning the relatives of the other missing people in the area, including those of the two missing rock climbers, and come up with an important clue on the rock climbers' map. How will all of this tie together? Will it all tie together? Why are things always bigger in Texas? And why doesn't a Hebrew demon know better than to go on a killing spree in Texas, especially since every citizen owns a gun, an automatic rifle and a couple of grenades?  There's not so much an air of a Fulci influence here that I could detect, except for an air of mass confusion. The film (also known as THROUGH THE FIRE), directed by G.D. Marcum (his only film as director), bears very little resemblance to Fulci's original GATES OF HELL (a.k.a. CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1980), as that film was full of blood and gore, something this film severely lacks (Not to mention that the camera turns away just as things are about to get bloody). The screenplay, by Marcum and Brad Potter, bites off way more than its paltry budget could ever hope to chew and the only Fulci-inspired moment, where Nick and Sandra are attacked by evil forces at a séance held by P.J. (Billie Carroll) is ruined by cheap optical effects. Everything about this film screams out poverty, from the muffled sound recording, bare-bone sets, stupid stabs at comedy (there's a dead cat in P.J.'s freezer and Nick ignores it and reaches for an ice cream bar instead; Nick tries to commandeer a citizen's car, only for the citizen to pull a gun on him) and poorly-blocked action scenes. Christ, even when Sandra takes a shower, we see no nudity! Fulci would have been spinning in his grave if he were actually dead at the time. If you decide to dedicate a film to his memory, you better deliver, but it takes more than some fog and a couple of fake-ass zombies to achieve that goal. Also starring Dan Shackleford, John Davies, Wendy Wade, Terry Wegner, Martin Smith, Lourdes Regala and Dan Robbins. A Creatures Features VHS Release and available on DVD from Cydonia Pictures. Not Rated.

GHOST GAME (2005) - Let me know if you heard this one before: A group of idiotic college students (with the combined IQ of a small rock) rent a remote cabin on the middle of an island only accessible by canoe, where, thirty years earlier, a trio of teenage witches were murdered after performing some magical ceremony. The remainder of the film intercuts past and present, as we slowly learn what the three witches were actually doing at the cabin and how it affects the college students now staying there. Dara (Alexandra Barreto; TOOTH AND NAIL - 2007) finds a diary at the cabin, but the last few pages are torn out. That's too bad, because if those pages were still in there, these stupid college kids (did I mention they had the combined IQ of a toenail?), which also includes Nate (Peter Cilella), his girlfriend Abbey (Shelby Fenner), wise-ass Randy (Curt Cornelius), Cousin Ted (Robert Berson, who became a millionaire by copyrighting the word "extreme" (and every alternate spelling of the word!), Sebastian (Aaron Freeman) and his obnoxious girlfriend Talia (Danielle Hartnett), would never do what they are about to do (again: combined IQ < -1). They find a metal box in a closet and open it, only to find an Ouija board-like device, a map and one missing page of the diary with "Don't Play This Game!" written on it. Instead of heeding this dire warning, Cousin Ted starts palying the game, which releases the spirits of the three witches, who begin killing the college students. Nate is the first to be killed (choked to death) and Randy is drowned after finding that the canoes are missing and trying to swim for help. Dara, Abbey and Cousin Ted figure out the only way to survive is to finish the game, which isn't a game at all, but a Wiccan ceremony, the same ceremony performed by the three witches thirty years earlier. Sebastian is stabbed to death while having sex with Talia, which leaves only four lives left. The quartet must find a number of objects that are drawn on the map found in the metal box and place those objects around a metal pole that acts like a moondial (it lets our students know how much time they have left). Skanky Talia dies next (she's impaled through the neck and stomach by tree branches), so Dara stays by the moondial while Abbey and Cousin Ted look for the remaining objects. Abbey is the next to die (she has her neck broken with a piece of rope) and before the film is over, both Cousin Ted (the only non-teen in the group, yet he's the only virgin!) and Dana will also be dead. Groundskeeper Simon Brady (Eric Scott Woods) buries all the bodies and waits for the next group to rent the cabin. It seems Mr. Brady has been doing this for many years and even makes some money on the side by selling the cars of those unlucky enough not to return from their canoe trips (try not to think too hard or you'll realize the absurdity of it all). I hope this doesn't mean there's gonna be a sequel? Father, Son, Holy Ghost, make it stop!  Competently made, but boring to the extreme and illogical as hell, GHOST GAME suffers the same fate most of these modern DTV "teens in peril" flicks are stricken with: Too much unfunny hipster dialogue, an over-abundance of jackhammer-style editing (not to mention that the flashback footage looks to have been filmed using nightvision goggles) and not enough common sense. Director/co-producer Joe Knee (CULT - 2007) seems to think that a little blood and nudity goes a long way, but the fact is we watch these films to see lots of blood and nudity, not the anemic amounts on view here. While the storyline had possibilities (screenplay by Ben Oren, a staff writer for MTV's now-defunct THE ANDY MILONAKIS SHOW [2005 - 2007], which would explain the juvenile humor spoken by the cast here), such as the mixing of past and present in the narrative, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Not only are most of the deaths bloodless (two strangulations, a drowning and a bloodless head-bashing), but the comical dialogue spoken by the cast totally belies the situation they are in. The most groan-inducing line is spoken by Talia when she says, "I thought he (Sebastian) was taking me to a spa!" as she lies dying with two tree branches impaled in her body (the film's bloodiest effect). This film also suffers from a case of fatalism that seems to be infecting many of the newer horror films. Just because everyone dies by the film's conclusion, don't think that a statement is being made. It's a cop-out that is used much too often when a screenwriter can't come up with a proper ending and it just comes off as a lazy way to end a film. Pretend you're a ghost and let this one slip through your hands. Also starring Caroline D'Amore, Sarah Shoup and Sahra Silanee as the three witches. An Image Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated, but there's nothing here that goes beyond an R-Rating.

GHOSTHOUSE (1987) - This is a late entry in the Italian pantheon of haunted house thrillers that flooded the VHS shelves in the 80's. This one is directed by Umberto Lenzi using his Americanized "Humphrey Humbert" pseudonym. The film opens up with a father punishing his little girl Henriette (who killed a cat with a pair of scissors) by locking her and her oversized clown doll in the dark basement. Soon after, the father is killed by an axe to his head and the mother has a butcher knife thrust in her throat by what looks like the clown's hand while all the lightbulbs and mirrors in the house shatter. Twenty years later, Paul (Greg Scott) and Martha (Lara Wendel) investigate a series of ominous radio messages that Paul is picking up on his ham radio. They trace the signal to the site of the murder house, which is now abandoned. They find a ham radio setup in the attic which is owned by a family camping out in a trailer in the back yard. It's not long before the house starts playing with the unwelcome occupants as glass objects begin shattering, clocks shoot fire and Martha sees a decapitated head in the washing machine. As they investigate further, people begin to die, as Henriette (Kristen Fougerousse) and her clown doll appear just before someone meets a gruesome death. One has is throat slit by a flying fan blade. Another is cut in half by a guillotine blade. Another nearly dissolves in a pool of lye and is stabbed in the back with a pair of hedge clippers by his own girlfriend who mistakens him for a supernatural demon. Meanwhile, Paul and Martha dig into the history of the house and discover that the only way to end this madness is to burn Henriette's body, which is entombed in a local graveyard. A final stinger at the end proves that it's not that simple.  This Massachusetts-lensed Italian production has a few good kills but nothing much else going for it. The acting is poor and the pacing slow, which is the norm for most Italian haunted house films (WITCHERY - 1988, immediately comes to mind). The scene where Martha is trapped in Henriette's bedroom and is attacked by a flying Mickey Mouse is the film's high point and should have raised Disney's ire. DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. (1980) himself, Donald O'Brien (here spelled "O'Brian") makes an appearance as the house's murderous caretaker. It's also awkward that the film's only Black character is portrayed as a hitch-hiking pompous asshole who annoys everyone he meets with a mechanical corpse hand he keeps in his backpack. His death is the only one not shown in detail. There's also plenty of chuckle-inducing dialogue (courtesy of screenwriter Cinthia McGavin) that in no way sounds like any person I know. Umberto Lenzi has certainly done much better than this, as he has directed the first Italian cannibal film, MAN FROM DEEP RIVER (1972), the excellent crime thriller ALMOST HUMAN (1974) and the gaillo thriller EYEBALL (1975). During the 80's, Lenzi directed the crazy zombie film CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (1980) and the cannibal classic CANNIBAL FEROX (a.k.a. MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY - 1981) and the truly wretched WELCOME TO SPRING BREAK (1988). GHOSTHOUSE (originally titled LA CASA 3) is just typical Italian horror nonsense that's good for a look if you've got nothing better to do. Also starring Mary Sellers, Ron Houck, Kate Silver, Martin Jay and Willy H. Moon. An Imperial Entertainment Home Video Release. Also available on a double feature Blu-Ray (with the aforementioned WITCHERY) from Scream Factory. Not Rated.

GHOSTKEEPER (1980) - While exploring the woods on their snowmobiles on a wintery New Year's Eve, Marty (Murray Ord), Jenny (Riva Spier) and Chrissie (Sheri McFadden) become stranded at a deserted old hotel deep in the forest when Chrissie's ride becomes disabled during a heavy blizzard. The hotel is empty, so why is the heat on and the shelves stocked with food? Forced to spend the night, the trio make themselves comfortable while Chrissie tries to come on to Marty, much to girlfriend Jenny's disgust. Jenny also has the feeling that they are not alone in this hotel. She is right. It is also occupied by an old woman (Georgie Collins) and her weirdo son Danny (Billy Grove). She is known as the Ghostkeeper and, unknown to our trapped trio, she keeps a furry human-like creature locked-up in the ice cellar which she must feed human flesh. The old woman also shows and unusual interest in Jenny and Jenny in turn feels like she has been brought to this hotel for some unknown purpose. Chrissie is abducted by Danny while taking a bath. He drags her down to the ice cellar, slits her throat and gives her to the creature. The next morning Marty goes outside to find his snowmobile has been intentionally disabled and Chrissie's snowmobile missing. While Marty tries to fix the snowmobile, Jenny is drugged and brought to the cellar. She awakens to find books on ancient Indian legends and old newspaper articles on people found slaughtered at the hotel. She finds the locked ice cellar, opens it and sees the creature. Before she can do anything she is attacked by Danny with a chainsaw. A chase to the attic ensues which results in Danny falling off the roof, impaling himself on the wrought-iron fence below. Seeing this, Marty freaks out, paints his face with grease and runs off into the woods! Jenny finds a shotgun, confronts the old woman (who tells Jenny that she's her mother!) and blows a hole in her belly. She then goes downstairs to the ice cellar and tells the creature not to worry; she will take care of him now. Jenny then finds Marty frozen to death in the woods. She is now the Ghostkeeper and must now keep the creature fed.  Based in part on the Wendigo legend (here spelled "Windigo), this little-seen Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada-lensed horror film also shows that it owes some of its' storyline to the then recently released THE SHINING. The authentic lush snow-filled landscapes and hotel in the middle of nowhere reminds one of that film even if the storyline veers off into another direction. The Windigo creature (played by John MacMillan) is only viewed in the shadows to maintain its effectiveness. The film does show some tampering in the editing as nearly all scenes that show bloodshed are excised or trimmed. This is odd since the tape's packaging carries no rating. Still, it's an interesting little shocker which shouldn't disappoint fans of things that go bump in the night. GHOSTKEEPER was directed and written by James Makichuk (writer of DREAM HOUSE [1998] and ROSWELL: THE ALIENS ATTACK [1999]). A New World Video VHS Release. Also available on widescreen DVD from Code Red. Not Rated. For more films based on the Wendigo legend see the awful FROSTBITER (1996) and director Larry Fessenden's scary WENDIGO (2001).

GHOST LAKE (2004) - Director Jay Woelfel directed one of my favorite low budget films of the 80's, BEYOND DREAM'S DOOR (1988). For most of the 90's he has toiled for producer Charles Band and others making quick, mostly forgettable horror and exploitation films (see review for DEMONICUS). The good news is that this, his newest film to date, harkens back to his early days as this is a multilayered horror film that will please both gore fans and people who like to use their brains. Rebecca (the beautiful Tatum Adair) has been taking care of her family ever since her father was confined to a wheelchair. One night she decides she needs a break and goes to a nightclub, where she meets a stranger and screws his brains out in the back of his car. While this is happening her parents are succumbing to a gas leak in the home and they both die. Filled with guilt (and maybe seeing things that are not there), Rebecca goes to her parents' cabin in Rushford Lake, NY (a real town) to rest and recuperate. The only problem is, Rebecca is seeing murders occur at the lake and talks to a little girl that no one else sees. She slowly learns that the lake has a history that involves people disappearing every 13 years. It seems that this is a man-made lake and a whole town was submerged to make it. Some of the residents did not make it out alive. So every 13 years the dead rise from the lake and take 13 lives. Rebecca has picked the wrong year to convalesce here. At first the local police think that she is just plain crazy, but soon come around when they begin finding bodies in the lake. Can Rebecca and the police stop more murders from happening? You'll have to watch the film to find out for I do not want to spoil the surprise. Filled with goosebump-inducing scenes of the denizens of the lake decaying before your eyes, GHOST LAKE is the kind of film that stays with you long after it is over. The scene where Rebecca is confronted by a dead fisherman at her door who has come to redeem himself only to be touched by the hand of death is a classic of fright and effects.  Director Woelfel (who also wrote, composed the eerie, effective score and plays the "Shadowy Figure") has a winner here and should be congratulated for making a horror film that does not compromise the story for shocks (although there are plenty). Well done, Jay! Also starring Timothy Prindle (who also handled the stunts), Gregory Lee Kenyon, Azure Sky Decker (as the ghostly little girl), Chuck Franklin, Damian Maffei, Dan Metcalf and Rick Kesler. A Velocity Home Entertainment Release. Rated R. For more on this film being shown at the Microcinema Fest in August 2005, click HERE. For more on Jay Woelfel, go to his website: www.JayWoelfel.com.

GHOST TOWN (1988) - This supernatural horror western was one of the best films to come out of Executive Producer Charles Band's Empire Pictures during the late 80's, but, just like everything Band touches, it had a troubled production history. Director Richard Governor (his only film) walked off the set two weeks before the film finished principal photography (apparently due to an ever-changing unfinished script by Duke Sandefur [THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - 1989] and continuing interference from Band), which forced Director of Photography Mac Ahlberg to take over and finish it. It's surprising the film turned out so well, even if some of the scenes look frazzled and others look unfinished. The film opens with runaway bride Kate (Catherine Hickland; WITCHERY - 1988) driving through the Arizona desert when she comes up against a downed telephone pole blocking the road. She exits onto a dirt road to get around the blockage, but as she is driving, she can hear the sounds of a horse's hoofs following close behind her, but she sees no horse. Her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and she is suddenly abducted by someone on horseback, who appears in a strange cloud of dust. Crack shot lawman Langley (Franc Luz; THE NEST - 1987) is assigned to find Kate when her car is discovered abandoned on the side of the dirt road and it's so rusted, crumbling and full of sand, it looks like it has been sitting there for a hundred years. Langley is about to go on a long, strange trip, where past and present collide. While looking for Kate in the desert, Langley is attacked by the mysterious man on horseback and his police vehicle (a Ford Bronco, which is used as a sly joke later in the film) spontaneously combusts, forcing Langley to travel by foot. He comes upon a headstone for a sheriff who was killed in 1870 and when he lifts the headstone off the ground, the sheriff's rotting corpse suddenly springs-up from underground, grabs Langley by his arms and says, "You're the one! You'll rid my town of evil. Don't fail or risk a fate worse than death!" The corpse then crumbles to dust (Langley steals his badge) and Langley takes refuge in a nearby ghost town when a torrential thunderstorm hits. He falls asleep and when he wakes up the next morning, he begins searching the ghost town for Kate (the audience is aware that she is there) and spots many things that shouldn't be there, like rotting corpses littering the entire town and meeting "The Dealer" (Bruce Glover; NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW - 1994), a blind man who speaks in riddles and percentages before suddenly disappearing. To make a long story short, Langley becomes the new sheriff in town (he should have never pinned the dead sheriff's badge to his chest) and must face-off against ghost gunslinger Devlin (Jimmie F. Skaggs; OBLIVION - 1994) and his gang. Devlin is holding (and raping) Kate and the ghost town suddenly springs to undead life with the ghosts of the residents who died there by Devlin's hands. Can Langley defeat Devlin and his gang, put the residents of the ghost town at eternal peace and return Kate to the present?  While the plot hardly makes a lick of sense, what this film does have in spades is a creepy atmosphere that will chill you to the bone. A lot of it can be attributed to Mac Ahlberg's excellent cinematography, but there are scenes here that transcend the photography (such as prostitute Etta [Laura Schaefer] suddenly being surrounded by Devlin's ghost gang on a flight of stairs) and sets a mood that goes beyond creepy and enters a new plateau. There are a few gory scenes on view, such as Devlin getting shot in the cheek that leaves a gaping exit wound (as well as Etta getting pitchforked to death, various slashed throats and gun violence), but this is more a psychological horror film about accepting the cards that are dealt to you and finishing the game on terms that are not always in your favor. GHOST TOWN falters somewhat in the final third (you can almost spot the point where Governor walked off the set and Ahlberg took over, not to mention suddenly completely dropping the secondary story of Langley's boss trying to locate him and an ending that seems rushed and incomplete), but don't let that discourage you from searching-out this unusual film. It's worth the effort. Also starring Penelope Windust, Zitto Kazann, Blake Conway and Michael Alldredge. Originally released on VHS by New World Video with a budget VHS release (recorded in the inferior EP mode) from Starmaker Entertainment a few years later. Image Entertainment also released a widescreen laserdisc in 1989. Try to find a bootleg DVD-R of the laserdisc (the widescreen photography is gorgeous), because you'll probably not see this film released on legitimate DVD for quite some time due to rights issues, like most of Charles Band's Empire Pictures library. Rated R.

THE GHOULS (2003) - You have to give director Chad Ferrin (UNSPEAKABLE - 2000) a lot of credit here. He has created a horror film of unrelenting tension on such a small budget that it probably wouldn't pay for the craft service of one day of a major motion picture. You also have to give Ferrin props for making the hero of the film such a despicable human being. Eric Hayes (Timothy Muskatell, also co-producer) is a stringer, a videographer of human atrocities. He follows leads that he gets on the police scanner in his car and films such things as a husband repeatedly stabbing his wife and a car chase that ends badly. He then sells his tapes to a news director (an unrecognizable Joe Pilato from DAY OF THE DEAD - 1985) for airing on the local news. Eric is also a drunk, chain-smoking, crank-sniffing piece of scum who will stoop as low as possible to get the money shot. One night he spots three men dragging a woman into an alley. He picks up his camera thinking that he is about to film a rape in progress. He's in for a big surprise. What he finds instead is the three men are actually ghouls and they are tearing the woman apart, eating her guts and appendages. The ghouls spot him, but Eric gets away and brings his camera to the news director. There's only one problem: Eric, in his crank-induced, booze-fueled stupor, forgot to put a cassette in the camera. The director calls him a loser and throws him out. Eric enlists Clift (Trent Haaga, also an associate producer), another crime videographer (and probably the closest thing he has as a friend in this world because Eric's girlfriend has just left him), to help him find these ghouls and get them on tape. Clift gets captured by the ghouls and Eric has his camera stolen (after getting shots of the ghouls) by a retarded boy at a bus stop. Eric is then knocked-out and brought to the sewers where the ghouls live. He spots Clift hanging by a hook, the skin stripped from his body, but still alive. Eric uses the hook to escape from the locked sewer room and, with a gun he had hidden on his body, kills all the ghouls (including a mother ghoul and her baby!). Back on the surface, Eric spots the retarded boy with his video camera and beats him up and takes the camera back. He goes back to the news director with footage of what he thinks is of the ghouls eating people. What he finds on the tape instead is the retarded boy reciting the famous "You talkin' to me?" scene from TAXI DRIVER (1976) and then knocking on a door and killing a woman for no reason! The director, realizing that he has footage that is headline material, says to Eric: "It looks like our boat has come in." Eric, chainsmoking a cigarette, just replies: "You're in the boat. I'm in the water." THE END. This is a powerful little horror film (about 75 minutes long) which tries to point out who is more evil: the people who live above ground and murder, rape and deceive to get what they want (Eric leaves one of the people, a corrupt cop he owes money to, unconscious on the ground as bait for the ghouls, who end up ripping him in half) or the "monsters" who live below the surface, who usually eat the homeless or people who will go unnoticed to stay alive. Ferrin leaves it up to you to decide who is worse. Most of the movie is filmed with a hand-held camera to give it a realistic look and the lighting is all natural. I watched this film with the lights out and I must say that it really affected me. It probably will do the same for you. Since it is such a low-budget flick, it does have some problems with sound and graininess, but, man, it just adds to the atmosphere. Also starring Tina Birchfield, Casey Powell, Stephen Blackehart, James Gunn, Joseph Rhodes and Tiffany Shepis as the mother ghoul. A Silver Nitrate Entertainment Release. Rated R.

THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005) - I firmly believe that Charles Band (who directed and produced this turd) has finally lost whatever shred of respect and sanity he had left in his overly self-promoted, self-indulgent body. Not only does he have an obsession with all things small (GHOULIES, TROLL, the PUPPETMASTER series, DEMONIC TOYS, DOLLMAN, BLOOD DOLLS and many others), he has also single-handidly destroyed what little self-respect Gary Busey had left. When this film opens, serial killer Millard Findlemeyer (Busey) is robbing a diner and kills everyone inside, except for Sarah Leigh (Robin Sydney). Two years pass and Findlemeyer has been caught and executed, thanks to Sarah's testimony, who now runs her alcoholic mother's bakery. One night, Sarah gets a surprise package at the door marked "Grandma's Gingerbread Seasoning" and, without batting an eyelash or questioning why she's getting a package in the middle of the night, adds the seasoning to her latest batch of gingerbread dough. As we all could have guessed, she shouldn't have done that. The seasoning contained the cremated ashes of Findlemeyer, put there by his vengeance-seeking mother (E. Dee Biddlecome). A series of highly-doubtful "coincidences", including a baker bleeding into the dough and an electrical surge into the oven, create the title character, a killer gingerbread man (voiced by Busey and created by John Carl Buechler) that begins killing bakery customers and employees, cracking wise at every opportunity. The killer cookie's real target is Sarah, who he wants to kill in retribution for his execution. The rest of the film is nothing but a series of badly-staged death scenes, as the Gingerdead Man cuts off fingers (insert lame "ladyfingers" joke here), hits people over the head with a frying pan (that's one strong cookie!) and even drives a car (using a rolling pin to step on the gas pedal!) to achieve his goal of killing Sarah. When all seems lost, baker Brick Fields (Jonathan Chase) returns to the bakery and bites the head off the cookie. He then becomes possessed by Findlemeyer's spirit, turns into a monster (with black makeup around his eyes) and is finally thrown into the oven and burned to a crisp. Thank God!  I actually had a friend tell me that I should watch this, as it was one of the campiest films he can recall viewing. After watching ten minutes of this, I came to this conclusion: I need to get myself some new friends. This is one of the poorest, most poverty-ridden and boring horror films that I have seen in quite a while. It's as if Charles Band (who, nowadays, seems more interested in merchandising than actual filmmaking) forgot everything he learned in over thirty years in the filmmaking business and started from scratch, only this time he's using the brain of a retard with an IQ of 60. Or maybe he just doesn't give a crap anymore. The film plods along at such a lethargic pace, that the scant 71 minute running time (ten minutes of it being slow-running closing credits!) seems three times as long and the script (by Silvia St. Croix and August White, who both should be shot) is nothing but tired old cliches and bad puns (including some of the characters' names, take-offs of food company's names). When Amos Cadbury (Ryan Locke) first catches sight of the Gingerdead Man and says, "How much dough can you make from a talking cookie?", that's about as cerebral as it gets, folks. Gary Busey probably needed some quick coke money, because his face is on-screen for less than three minutes and his looping of his cookie character could have been done in less than an hour. Appearing in shit like this is committing career suicide and if he still has the same agent, he has no one but himself to blame. This is nothing but another one of Band's ultra-low-budget latter-day disasters that, believe it or not, spawned three sequels, GINGERDEAD MAN 2: THE PASSION OF THE CRUST (2008), GINGERDEAD MAN 3: SATURDAY NIGHT CLEAVER (2011) and, in even a new low for Full Moon, GINGERDEAD MAN VS. EVIL BONG (2013), none of them featuring Busey (except in flashback footage cribbed from this film). I really don't know why anyone would want to torture themselves by watching this, unless they want to view Busey fall off the bottom rung of the career ladder. There's no nudity, very little blood and talentless people in front and behind the camera. I've farted things more interesting than this. Also starring Larry Cedar (who should know better), Daniela Melgoza, Margaret Blye, Alexia Aleman and James Snyder. A Wizard Entertainment DVD Release. Unrated, but there's nothing here approaching blood-drenched gore, just a face slashing, a finger getting cut off and a lame knife-in-the-forehead gag.

GIRLS NITE OUT (1983) - What does the suicide of a certain Dickie Cavanaugh at the Weston Hill Sanitarium have to do with someone in a bear costume killing the students at nearby Dewitt University? It seems Dickie Cavanaugh killed the daughter of college security guard Mac (Hal Holbrook) years earlier and was committed to the sanitarium after being found insane. While Cavanaugh is getting a pauper's midnight burial, someone dressed in black attacks and kills the two gravediggers with a shovel and buries them in the grave instead, then taking off with Cavanaugh's corpse. After a lengthy series of exposition scenes where we are introduced to the college's many students and personnel (there are almost 20 separate characters with their own story arcs!), the killings begin. At a huge sorority party, where students drink heavily, play strip poker, have sex and cheat on each other, someone viciously stabs the student who plays the basketball team's mascot and steals his bear costume. The killer accessorises the costume with a nasty sharp homemade claw, which will be used to rip apart the female cast. The killer also steals the details of the big sorority scavenger hunt, which becomes useful as the killer waits at various sites to target victims. The list of potential suspects (and red herrings) is large. Besides Mac, who seems to harbor resentment against the student body, there's Mike Pryor (David Holbrook, Hal's son), who just caught his girlfriend cheating on him at the party and calls everyone "whores" before storming out (the killer calls the female victims "whores", "bitches" or "sluts" while killing them); Pete 'Maniac' Krizaniac (Mart McChesney), the school's star basketball player who seems to be repressing a secret; and Ralph (John Didricksen), the school nerd who can't score with women, even when he gets them drunk. The killer calls the college radio station after each kill to announce the name of the victim and to proclaim, "Dickie Cavanaugh is back!" So who is the killer and why all the killings? Is it possible that Dickie has a relative on campus?  This early 80's slasher flick is pretty good for what it is, even if it does take nearly 45 minutes for the first college murder to occur. What's unusual is the film's approach of the women as the aggressors and the men as the followers. The girls are shown smoking pot, talking graphically about sex and actually being the ones talking the guys into having sex, rather than vice-versa as in most other horror films. It comes as no surprise then to find out that it is a female doing all the killing, too. While it does take a while for the killings to start, director Robert Duebel (usually a short film and documentary filmmaker) keeps the film moving at a brisk pace, mixing comedy (including fart jokes), personal drama and college hijinks in a pleasing stew and plays plenty of 60's & 70's pop hits (from such artists like The Lovin' Spoonful, Ohio Express and Tommy James) on the soundtrack. The murders, committed with a bear paw with serrated knives as claws, are fairly bloody and the red stuff flows freely. Since the killer primarily targets female victims, the first thing that popped into my mind was that the killer must be male, so I was surprised when the killer was unmasked. Also unusual for a slasher film is that it shows two cops (one of them is the late Richard Bright) interviewing all the male characters and each interview ends with the suspect saying, "You don't think I had anything to do with this, do you?" Mac ends up solving the case thanks to tapes the radio station made of the calls and the film ends on a really strong image that will stay in you mind for a few days. This is a damned good mystery as well as a horror film and should please fans. Also known as THE SCAREMAKER. Filmed in Ohio. Also starring Julia Montgomery, James Carroll, Suzanne Barnes, Rutanya Alda, Al McGuire, Matthew Dunn, Gregory Salata, Lauren-Marir Taylor, Lois Robbins, Susan Pitts, Paul Christie and Carrick Glenn. A Thorn EMI Video Release. Also available on DVD from Media Blasters (long OOP). Rated R.

GNAW (2008) - This British horror variant in the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)/HOSTEL (2005) mode opens with an on-screen scrawl stating that over 210,000 people go reported missing in the U.K. every year and, while most of them are found, some are never heard from again. This film is purportedly about what happens to some of those who were never found. After watching an unfortunate girl named Amy (Jennifer Wren) being chased down by some hulking figure in a grotesque mask somewhere in the Suffolk countryside and then being sliced-up into filets in his killing cabin (where he also stirs a big pot of stew containing a human hand), the film switches over to a group of annoying twenty-somethings as they drive to a house in the same area for a weekend of partying. These are stock characters straight out of Stereotypes 101 and includes vegetarian goth chick Lorrie (Sara Dylan); tough chick Hannah (Julia Vandoorne, who picks up a bloody dead cat that she just ran over like she was picking up a piece of paper); her henpecked boyfriend, Ed (Hiram Bleetman); virginal Jill (Rachel Mitchem) and her horny, practical joke-playing boyfriend Jack (Nigel Croft-Adams); and best friend Matt (Oliver Lee Squires), who has a thing for Lorrie. When they walk into the house and discover that a veritable feast of food of every type is laid-out on the dining room table, rather than question its presence, they chow down and eat it, starting with the steak and kidney pie, but when a human hair is found in it, they decide to stick with the desserts instead (good thing, too, because I'm willing to bet both the steak and kidney are of the human variety). It's quite obvious that the masked killer also occupies the house and has a crush on Lorrie (who is harboring her own secrets, as she is prone to sleepwalking and puking her guts out). Could he be related to the house's creepy owner, Mrs. Obadiah (Carrie Cohen), who suddenly appears and begins cooking for the group in an effort to fatten them up? I guess we can all see where this is heading. The killer begins slaughtering the group one-by-one, beginning with Hannah and Ed (both are stabbed with a pitchfork; Hannah in the stomach and Ed in the back [after he steps on a bear trap!] and then both are fed through a meat grinder after being cut into pieces with a chainsaw). He then turns his attention towards Jack, who is tied to a table and has his tongue ripped-out with a pair of pliers. Jill is next on the list, leaving Matt and Lorrie to fend for themselves. When it is revealed that the killer (Gary Faulkner, who is listed in the credits as "The Slaughterman") is actually Mrs. Obadiah's son and Matt is killed (in a scene where I wanted to throw my remote at the screen), Lorrie must defend herself from the killer's totally insane mother. The finale, which takes place one year later, made me actually throw my remote at the TV. Luckily I missed the TV and hit my wife instead, so there was no damage done (Just kidding. I broke my remote.).  This highly derivative horror flick, directed by freshman Gregory Mandry and written by Michael Bell and Max Waller, contains all the usual horror clichés, including being in a location where there is no cellphone service; discovering a room that contains all the previous victims' personal effects; finding rings and other belongings in food and not questioning it; a heroine that doesn't eat meat; and the worst cliché of all: Trying to hide from the killer in the dark while holding a lit flashlight (Why don't you just shoot-up a flare?). The killer, when unmasked, looks no more scary than a soccer hooligan with a shaved head and things go from bad to worse for the viewer when the asthmatic Matt, who has the killer on the ground and is just about to impale him with a pitchfork, decides to drop it and pick up his inhaler instead. It's moments like this that makes GNAW the type of experience that shakes your faith in the horror genre. I almost didn't want to watch another modern horror film ever again. Add to that one of the most stupefying finales in recent memory (yes, it's really that bad) and what you are left with is a film so devoid of characterization or plot (it is very bloody, but blood without story is just blood) that I doubt anyone but diehard gorehounds (and Fangoria) would have anything good to say about it. A Dark Sky Films DVD Release. Not Rated.

GORE MET ZOMBIE CHEF FROM HELL (1986) - After watching the first few minutes of this unfunny horror comedy, I was instantly reminded of how anything, no matter how threadbare and poverty-stricken, could obtain a VHS release in the 80's. All you needed was some attention-grabbing cover art and you were guaranteed a healthy shelf life. This is exactly one of those films and, Christ, it's an endurance test to sit through. In 1386, the Holy Order of the Righteous Brotherhood (which seems to only have three members) convicts fellow member Goza (Theo Depuay, who also handled the lousy makeup effects) of high treason and make him drink a potion that gives him immortality, but forces him to eat human flesh daily or else his body will begin to decompose (Is it just me, or does anyone else fail to see the logic behind the Brotherhood's punishment? Aren't they putting countless human lives at stake for the sake of one man's punishment?). Six hundred years pass and Goza is now the owner of "Goza's Deli and Beach Club", where he kills customers (and a nosy health inspector) and, what he doesn't eat himself, uses the uneaten body parts in the stew he serves his clientele. The bulk of the film is Goza choosing victims and cutting them up with a portable band saw (unconvincingly, mind you), while the Brotherhood tries to find a way to stop him (Which, again, brings up the question: Isn't this the Brotherhood's fault in the first place?). The appearance of a woman named Missy (Kelley Kunicki), the reincarnation of someone Goza knew six hundred years earlier, holds the key to Goza's destruction. She superglues (!) Goza's mouth shut, nails his feet to the floor (with a strangely convenient nailgun) and watches as he decomposes. Now why didn't anyone think of that before?  Atrociuosly acted, edited, photographed and scored (Porn films have better production values), this shot-on 8mm horror flick, directed/produced/co-written/edited/photographed by Don Swan (who, rightfully, never directed anything else), is the filmic equivalent of watching paint dry. The jokes fall flat and lifeless (To give you an example, when Goza kills a girl named Stella and serves a burger made from her flesh to her boyfriend and he finds her engagement ring in the meat, he screams out, "Stella! Stella!" like he's in a high school version of A Streetcar Named Desire. It doesn't get any better than that, folks, especially when Goza advertises for a short order cook and a midget shows up to apply for the job.) and the gore is nothing but dimestore props covered in fake blood. I can't properly describe how mind-numbingly illogical this film really is, from the robed guy carrying a staff who stands outside of Goza's deli (Which isn't a deli at all. It's a bar/restaurant.) and warns everyone not to go inside (Wouldn't Goza just simply make him stew meat and be done with it?), to the state of Goza's kitchen, which is always strewn with human body parts, Don't get me started on the scene where a cop discovers the body parts, sits down in a chair (with his back facing the camera) and is then decapitated with one punch to the head by Goza's assistant cook! At certain points in the film, Goza breaks the fourth wall and talks directly into the camera, chiding the audience for judging him, saying he's no worse than Joe Sixpack ordering food from McDonalds or Burger King! Watching this film is akin to smelling a piece of liver sitting in the blazing sun for three days. If the film itself doesn't question your film-watching habits, the droning electronic music score (coupled with a bad 50's-styled ditty, sung by a local black guy accompanied by a saxophone player) which drowns out much of the dialogue, will surely make you believe that you have a brain tumor. Really, what other explanation could it be? Also starring C.W. Casey, Alan Marx, Michael O'Neill, Joy Merchant, Jeff Pillars and Jeff Baughn, who co-wrote this mess with Swan and William Highsmith. A Camp Video Release. Not available on DVD. Not Rated. (NOTE: If this film looks familiar to readers of this site, it's because I originally gave it the one sentence treatment in the "Short Reviews For Sucky Films" section. That review can still be accessed by clicking HERE.)

GRADUATION DAY (1981) - Minor league slasher film helped by a veteran cast of genre actors. Tragedy strikes at a high school track meet when sprinter Laura Ramstead (Ruth Ann Llorens) drops dead after winning the hundred-yard dash (turns out she had a bad ticker). It's not long before both male and female members of the track team are dispatched in various gory manners. Laura's sister, Anne (Patch Mackenzie; THE DARK TOWER - 1987), takes a leave of absence from the Navy and arrives in town just as a female student is killed while jogging in the woods by someone with a stopwatch and a very sharp knife. Graduation Day is rapidly approaching and some of the athletes blame Coach George Michaels (Christopher George; GRIZZLY - 1976) for Laura's death because he's a no-nonsense kind of guy who pushes his athletes hard. Some say way too hard. Anne returns home to find her mother, Elaine (Beverly Dixon), has become an alcoholic and her stepfather, Ronald (Hal Bokar; REVENGE OF THE BUSHIDO BLADE - 1978), is as verbally and physically abusive since the day she left to join the Navy (He may very well be the reason why she joined). Anne sleeps in Laura's room (Ronald has turned Anne's bedroom into a darkroom) and tells her mother that she only plans to stay until graduation is over (a special trophy in Laura's honor is to be given to Anne) and she has no desire to keeps Laura's life insurance payout, which pleases a drunken Ronald. The black-gloved killer begins crossing out the faces of his victims on a team photo in red lipstick, while Anne tries to figure out why Laura really died; beginning with Laura's boyfriend, Kevin Badger (E. Danny Murphy; FINAL MISSION - 1984), who keeps a shrine of Laura in his home (as well as a crazy grandmother who yells at the TV). Anne likes Kevin and gives him a necklace she was going to give her sister at graduation. Coach Michaels forces gymnast Sally (Denise Cheshire) to do her entire uneven bar routine just for a newspaper photo op and the killer (again with stopwatch in hand) murders her by thrusting a sword through her neck while she is shaving her legs in the shower. Music teacher Mr. Roberts (Richard Balin) is seduced by topless student Dolores (a baby-faced Linnea Quigley) and Principal Guglione (Michael Pataki; GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972), who carries a switcblade (red herring alert!), is having an affair with his secretary Blondie (E.J. Peaker), so it's no wonder that no one notices that students are going missing. Mr. Roberts hears a tapping on the pipes and checks out the boiler room (Hasn't he ever watched a horror film?), where someone is playing a cassette tape of his makeout session with Dolores (It's a practical joke by Dolores and Tony [Billy Hufsy] and the entire sequence leads nowhere). Dolores and Tony get caught smoking pot by Officer MacGregor (Virgil Frye; UP FROM THE DEPTHS - 1979), but he lets them off with a warning and tokes-up on the joint he confiscated from them. Anne accuses Coach Michaels of killing her sister, but he tells Anne he "loved" Laura, just like all his students (He also lost his coaching job after graduation is over). The stopwatch killer then dispatches football player Pete (Tom Hintnaus) with a spike-tipped football to his midsection. Think you know who the killer is? I've laid out all the potential suspects, but you'll have to wait until just before the graduation ceremony for the killer to be revealed.  GRADUATION DAY is a painfully slow-moving slasher flick that throws every early-80's trick in the book to liven-up the proceedings, including an opening disco tune, plenty of topless female nudity and even a roller skating scene (where a band called Felony performs their 'hit' song, "Gangster Rock"), but director/co-producer/co-screenwriter Herb Freed (HAUNTS - 1975; BEYOND EVIL - 1980; SURVIVAL GAME - 1987) forgot the most important ingredients: blood and gore. Sure, there are plenty of deaths and some practical makeup effects, but they lack the "oomph" needed to make them memorable. Tony suffers from one of the driest decapitations this side of an Andy Milligan film and Herb Freed hopes the editing, which is full of shock cuts and pre-MTV flash editing (some of it almost subliminal), will keep our minds occupied. It doesn't. The closest thing this film comes to actual gore is when a pole vaulter lands on a bunch of spikes and Anne discovering the dead bodies (and body parts) under the bleachers while being chased by the killer. This is the type of horror film where every major character acts like they could be the killer by doing or saying ominous things (Such as Anne saying to Coach Michaels, "We'll meet again!" Of course they'll meet again. They'll both be at the graduation ceremony!). It's no wonder that Herb Freed gave up filmmaking to become a rabbi! Also starring Carmen Argenziano (FIGHTING MAD - 1978) as Police Inspector Halliday, who appears during the third act to wrap everything up (by shooting the wrong man!). Letter-turner Vanna White also turns up as an overage high school student. Originally released on VHS by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, with a budget VHS by Goodtimes Home Video (recorded in LP mode). Also available on budget DVD from Hollywood DVD Ltd, and a simply horrible DVD from Troma that is the director's cut, with nine extra minutes of footage, none of it gore. Also available on a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. Rated R.

THE GRANNY (1994)  -  Semi-funny horror comedy with some witty one-liners and gross effects. Stella Stevens stars as Granny Gargoli, an ill matriarch who is hated by her entire family with the exception of granddaughter Kelly (Shannon Whirry). The rest of the family would like to see Granny dead so they can inherit her multi-million dollar fortune. Granny has her family over for Thanksgiving dinner and they try to kill her by poisoning her soup. They fail. Granny has a visitor in the form of the mysterious Namon Ami (portrayed by director Luca Bercovici), who gives her an elixir  that will give her immortal life provided it is not exposed to the sun. Guess what happens? Granny drinks the tainted elixir and becomes a demon bent on destroying her family. The family (who think Granny is dead) alter her will and throw a party at her house to celebrate her death. Granny slaughters her family in various ways (death by scapel; death by fur stole[!]; death by castration; death by wrestling), saving Kelly for last. Kelly joins forces with Namon Ami to try to defeat Granny. A battle royale breaks out where it seems good wins over evil. In a typical modern-day horror film coda, evil has the final word. Filled with plentiful nudity, bloodletting and funny dialogue (Granny laments on the birth of her son by saying, “I should have swallowed that load!”), this film is not a bad bet if you down a six-pack or smoke some wacky weed beforehand. Stella Stevens is hilarious spouting vulgarisms and acting like a lunatic. She looks like she is having a helluva good time. She has held up pretty well for her age. Stella is no stranger to exploitation films as she has appeared in ARNOLD (1973), THE MANITOU (1978), MOM (1989) and many others. Her biggest claim to fame may be for producing her son, B-movie star and film producer Andrew Stevens. Co-starring Pat Sturges, Ryan Bollman, Sandy Helberg and Heather Elizabeth Parker (nice tits). Director Luca Bercovici also made the awful GHOULIES (1985, which spawned many unwanted sequels), the even worse ROCKULA (1990, which thankfully has no sequels) and then graduated to action films such as THE CHAIN (1996), CONVICT 762 (1997) and LUCK OF THE DRAW (2000). THE GRANNY is a step in the right direction for him. A Warner Vision Films Home Video release. Rated R.

GRAVE ROBBERS (1989) - Gory and fun Mexican horror film. During the Dark Ages, the Noble Executioner of a Catholic church is caught trying to rape a young woman and impregnate her with Satan's seed. He is caught before he is able to finish the deed and is tortured on the rack. When he refuses to repent his sins, a church elder plants an axe in his chest. With his dying breath, he puts a curse on the church and the surrounding town, saying, "Someday someone will come and wrench the axe out. Then I'll return with more power...to father Satan's son in one of your descendants!" In the present day, four young graverobbers enter the town's cemetery looking to loot some graves for gold. After digging up a grave and finding no gold (they first light a match to get rid of the methane gas that has built up from the decaying body), female member Rebecca (Erika Buenfil) jumps down into the grave and falls down a shaft when the coffin collapses. Manolo (Ernesto Laguardia) goes in after her and discovers the old torture chamber and a bunch bodies covered in gold and jewels. Armando (German Bernal) and Diana (Maria Rebeca) join their other two grave robbing friends down the shaft and begin looting the bodies. Manolo and Armando find a crypt and open it, even after Rebecca (who is psychic) begs them not to (She says, "Let's go before we're jailed for tomb profanation!"). They find the body of the Noble Executioner and remove the jewel-encrusted axe from his chest. As soon as the axe is removed, a storm brews outside and the bloodshed begins. The four graverobbers hop in their truck to leave, but it's hopelessly stuck in the mud (not much of a surprise there). The revived Executioner grabs his axe out of the back of the truck and goes on a killing spree, first killing two peasants on horseback who try to help the foursome free the truck from the mud. Police Captain Lopez (Fernando Almada) happens to be driving by and sees a riderless horse dart by him. Once he sees the two slaughtered bodies of the peasants, he arrests the four graverobbers for murder. At first he doesn't believe the story they have to tell, but when more bodies turn up brutally murdered, he has no choice. Captain Lopez has another reason to worry: His virginal daughter Olivia (Edna Bolkan) is camping out in the woods with three other female friends and she is the perfect candidate to bear Satan's son. Captain Lopez finds a book bearing the coat of arms of the Holy Inquisition that will put an end to this menace, but it is written in Latin. He goes to his local church to enlist the help of the Padre (Roberto Canedo) in hopes of unlocking the books secrets. As two of the graverobbers meet a bloody end, Captain Lopez must find a way to stop his daughter from becoming Satan's whore. Could the axe be the answer?  This obviously low-budget Mexican horror flick takes a while to get cooking, but once it does, it's pretty gory. Director/scripter Ruben Galindo Jr. (CEMETERY OF TERROR - 1984; DON'T PANIC - 1987) offers us a throat slashing, an axe to the forehead, a hand being chopped off (and the poor girl's stump just won't stop spurting blood!), a decapitation, a nasty chest-bursting scene, an axe to the face, a head squeezed through the grate of a fence, a knife in the hand and other gory mayhem. The effects may not be state-of-the-art, but it's apparent that they're a labor of love and a breath of fresh air when compared to the sterile CGI effects of today. The film has a low-budget atmosphere that's infectious, so it's various shortcomings (including some camera shadows) can be ignored. As with a lot of Spanish and Mexican horror productions, religion plays an important role in the redemption of some of the characters, but GRAVE ROBBERS (on-screen title: LADRONES DE TOMBAS) doesn't hit you over the head with it. This is a good, old-fashioned 80's gore film. Nothing more, nothing less. Also starring Tono Infante, Tony Bravo, Augustin Bernal, Andres Bonfiglio and Andrea Legarreta. Available on a double-sided DVD (with Galindo's CEMETERY OF TERROR) from Deimos Entertainment, an off-shoot of BCI Eclipse. Both films are fullscreen transfers in their original Spanish language with optional English subtitles. The subtitles are serviceable, although my Spanish skills did spot a couple of occasions where some liberties were taken (not to mention some noticable spelling errors). It's still great to see these titles get a legitimate DVD release, though, and I tip my hat to BCI for doing so. Not Rated.

THE GRAVEYARD (2006) - This second sequel to the awful BLOODY MURDER (1999) bears no resemblance to the first two films (which includes 2002's BLOODY MURDER 2, the best in the series) and if it didn't take place in Camp Placid Pines (and Placid Pines Cemetery), it would have nothing in common with them. Which brings up the question: Would you send your kids to a summer camp if you knew it came with it's own namesake cemetery right next door? The film opens with six friends going to the cemetery one night and playing a practical joke on Eric (Mark Salling), where Bobby (Patrick Scott Lewis) dons a rubber fright mask and track suit and chases Eric around the graveyard with a butcher knife. Unfortunately, Eric takes it a little too seriously and impales himself on a wrought iron fence while running away and dies. Bobby is sent away to prison on a manslaughter charge and, when he is paroled five years later, he and the four remaining friends (along with some guests) return to the graveyard for a weekend (they stay in Camp Placid Pines' cabins) to work out their issues. While Bobby acts all mysterious and morose, someone wearing the same costume Bobby wore that fateful night five years earlier begins killing the members one-by-one. Bobby's ex-girlfriend Michelle (Lindsay Ballen) tries to get everyone to share in Bobby's guilt, but some members, including skirt-chasing Jack (Leif Lillehaugen), look on this excursion as a vacation. When Michelle and Sarah (Erin Michelle Lokitz) go to pay their respects at Eric grave (Lucky for them he was buried in the same cemetery where he died!), they find the grave has been recently dug up and Eric's body is missing. Jack's new girlfriend Veronica (Eva Derrek) is strangled by the killer when she's taking a shower and while cook/caretaker Peter Bishop (Markus Potter) leads a search for her through the woods, Sarah's lesbian ex-girlfriend Zoe (Natalie Denise Sperl) shows up and threatens everyone's lives (Never mess with an angry lesbian!), but she dies shortly after when the killer slits her throat (thereby eliminating her as a suspect). After Bobby and Jack play the worst (not to mention unbelievable) practical joke possible, the group finds all their cars disabled, the tires slashed and wires cut. Bobby leaves by himself to make the ten mile trek to the next town, while the masked killer begins slaughtering everyone else in earnest. As bodies begin to pile up, Bobby is arrested by the sheriif he flags down, while the remainder of the group try to figure out who the killer is. You'll have to be stupider than a tree stump not to figure it out yourself.  The best way to describe this film is "yawn". It's not badly made or amateurishly acted (except for a couple of people), but the film offers nothing remotely interesting to horror fans. Like most DTV flicks, the script (by Michael Hurst, who directed the much better than expected HOUSE OF THE DEAD II [2005], as well as PUMPKINHEAD 4: BLOOD FEUD [2007]) is generic and doesn't make a lick of sense. When Bobby and Jack pull their practical joke in the latter half of the film, that's the straw that breaks the camel's back, because it's so unrealistic, it's laughable. Director Michael Feifer (ED GEIN: THE BUTCHER OF PLAINFIELD - 2007) is downright sloppy in a lot of scenes (Eric impalement is pathetic) and has the habit of pulling back when he should be pushing forward. There's an offscreen decapitation, a really bad throat slashing (you can see the blood coming from the blade of the knife), a bloodless strangulation, an electrocution (in the film's second unrealistic plot twist), a hatchet to the chest and other killings, none of them remotely interesting. There's also some nice female nudity (all courtesy of Eva Derrek), but it's not nearly enough to get your mind off on how ordinary the whole film is. The reveal of the killer's identity is telegraphed from the time of the reunion and the actor who plays the sheriff (Sam Bologna) is horrendous and keeps saying, "I haven't fired my gun since 1974!". If you're expecting something special to happen when he finally does fire his gun, forget it. This film's not that inventive. The "surprise" stinger ending leaves it wide-open for another sequel. After enjoying BLOODY MURDER 2 so much, I was expecting something much more entertaining than this. I should have known better. Also starring Chris Stewart and Trish Coren. A Lionsgate Entertainment Release. Rated R.

THE GREAT ALLIGATOR (1979) - Land developer Joshua (Mel Ferrer) has created a tourist trap called Paradise House in some tropical jungle and has invited photographer Daniel Nessel (Claudio Cassinelli) and model Sheena (Geneve Hutton) to come and view the new attraction a few days before it officially opens (When Joshua mentions to Sheena that Eve may have been a black woman, the black Sheena replies, "All I know is that Adam was a stupid shit!"). Joshua assigns his personal assistant, Alice (Barbara Bach), to show Daniel around, but when Daniel views members of the local Kuma tribe being used as menial and dangerous labor for Joshua's new resort, he becomes concerned that Joshua is taking advantage of them. Daniel also becomes worried when he spots Joshua's right-hand man, Peter (Romano Puppo), feeding live pigs to the crocodile population, in order to keep them close to Paradise House as a tourist attraction. Sheena is eaten by a giant alligator while making love to a Kuma tribesman on the eve before the resort's grand opening and, as a busload of tourists arrive to stay at the resort, Daniel finds Sheena's canoe with huge bite marks in it and fears she is dead. When Daniel relays his fears to Joshua about a man-eating alligator on the loose, Joshua prefers that Daniel keeps quiet as not to disturb the resort's full house. Daniel and Alice travel down river to the Kuma tribal village, where they review a ritual being performed by the tribe and they're getting pissed off. They are told by a tribe member that the "Great God" (the giant alligator) has been disturbed by the deforestation and blasting done to create Paradise House and are led to the secret hiding place (in a cave behind a waterfall) of crazy Father Jonathan (Richard Johnson), a missionary who fought the giant alligator years earlier and was the only member from his mission who survived. What a giant alligator is doing living with the crocodile population is never explained, but when Daniel and Alice barely make it back to the resort after being attacked by the alligator and report it to Joshua, he has Peter beat Daniel up when he tries to call for help on the radio. That night, the resort's helicopter is mysteriously dragged into the lagoon and someone destroys the radio's antennae just as the alligator begins to chow-down on the tourists and resort staff. When Joshua refuses to cancel the tourist boat ride down the river (called "Tarzan's Raft"!) and the Kuma tribe kidnaps Alice and plan to use her as their next sacrifice to appease the Great God, Daniel has to spring into action to try to save Alice and the boatload of tourists. He manages to save Alice, but when it comes to the tourists, let's just say the natives are as restless as the alligator.  This Italian JAWS (1975) clone (which was made under the title GREAT ALLIGATOR RIVER), directed by Sergio Martino (TORSO - 1973; MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD - 1978; SCREAMERS - 1980; AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK - 1983; HANDS OF STEEL - 1986) and co-scripted by Luigi Montefiore (a.k.a. "George Eastman"), holds most of the gore to a minimum until the finale, which shows the tourists fighting for their lives from two sources: The deadly alligator in the water and the Kuma tribe, who have had enough debasement and begin killing the tourists with flaming spears and arrows as soon as they make it to shore. It's the film's best sequence, as the tourists must decide which is the worst death; in the jaws of an alligator or a flaming sharp stick in the gut. Some of the tourists, in their panic, end up impaling themselves on the crocodile fence that surrounds the lagoon. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is fairly routine and bloodless. There's also an annoying subplot where a little girl tourist named Minou (Silvia Collatina) wanders around the resort saying "adorable" things, while her mother and new boyfriend avoid her. Two minutes after listening to her drivel, I was wishing the alligator would make her a snack. Speaking of the alligator, it's kept mainly off-screen or at least clouded by the water, which is a good thing considering what is viewable is not very believable. The scene where the van that Daniel and Alice are in plunges into the lagoon is obviously (bad) model work. The Sri Lanka locations are pretty to look at, though. Also starring Fabrizia Castagnoli, Enzo Fisichella, Bobby Rhodes, Lory Del Santo and Anny Papa. A Gorgon Video Release. Also available on DVD under the title THE BIG ALLIGATOR RIVER from Noshame Entertainment. Now available on Blu-Ray from Code Red and also available streaming on Amazon Prime. Not Rated.

GROTESQUE (1987) - This horror film's major distinction is that all of its' sympathetic characters are killed off before it is half over! Linda Blair (enough said) brings along her best friend (Donna Wilkes of ANGEL [1983] and BLOOD SONG [1982]) to visit her movie makeup effects expert father (Guy Stockwell of SANTA SANGRE [1989]) and mother at their house deep in the woods. Along the way they have a chance encounter with a gang of murderous punkers. Blair and Wilkes escape but their problems are far from over. The leader of the gang (Brad Wilson) catches wind that Blair's father keeps a secret stash in his house. Thinking it to be money or drugs (?)  they break into the house and slaughter Wilkes, Blair and her family. While searching for the stash, the punks stumble onto a hidden room containing a deformed man called Patrick. Realizing that Patrick is the hidden stash, the punks flee. Patrick, seeing what was done to Stockwell and Blair, gives chase and kills the punks (including Nells Van Patten and Robert "MANIAC COP" [1988] Z'dar) one by one until only Wilson and his girlfriend are left. Blair's uncle (former teen idol Tab Hunter), a plastic surgeon, joins a police posse to find the killers of his family. The posse finds Patrick struggling with Wilson and his girlfriend and kill Patrick (a shotgun blast to the face), thinking that he is the killer. The two remaining punks say that Patrick was the killer and the police release them for lack of evidence. This pisses off Hunter quite a bit since he knows that Patrick couldn't be the killer. He kidnaps the two punks and exacts equal justice while revealing the truth about Patrick and himself. This is not an easy film to criticize. It's hard to tell if the humor is intentional or not. Van Patten's role as a laughing psychopath is one such case. Is it a parody or is he really trying to act? (I often think the same thing whenever I see his dad, Dick, perform.) There is no nudity (although Blair does threaten to take a shower) but there is enough blood and perversity to keep you occupied in its' short 80 minute running time. Director Joe Tornatore (ZEBRA FORCE [1976]) and scriptwriter Mikel Angel (who co-directed THE LOVE BUTCHER [1975]) also appear in minor roles. George "Buck" Flower was Pre-Production Coordinator. There are reviews out there that state that there's an alternate ending where the whole movie is nothing but a film-within-a-film where the Wolfman and Frankenstein watch the proceedings in a theatre projection booth complaining about how no good horror movies are being made today. They jump out of the booth and scare the hell out of the audience (Blair included). I tend to believe it for two reasons: 1.) The version I viewed ends rather abruptly with happy music playing in the background and, 2.) there are listings for actors playing the Wolfman and Frank N. Stein in the final credits even though they are nowhere to be found here. GROTESQUE is either a good bad film or a bad good film. That decision is up to you. A Media Home Entertainment VHS Release. Also available on DVD (with the missing footage intact) from Shout! Factory as part of their Roger Corman's Cult Classics "Vampires, Mummies & Monsters" 2-Disc collection (which also includes LADY FRANKENSTEIN [1971], THE VELVET VAMPIRE [1971] and TIME WALKER [1982]). Rated R.

GUTTERBALLS (2008) - Nasty, unpleasant gore film with hardcore porn scenes (the version that will be released to retail will be missing the hardcore scenes). Two rival bowling teams get into a fight after hours at the Xcaliber Bowling Center, which results in Lisa (Candice Lewald) getting gang-raped and violated with a bowling pin (in a needlessly graphic and overlong scene) by four miscreants, one of them being her ex-boyfriend Steve (Alastair Gamble). The next night, the two opposing teams, one led by Steve and the other led by Jamie (Nathan Witte), Lisa's new boyfriend, meet after hours at the Xcaliber lanes for a bowling competition, but the alleys are being stalked by an unseen killer, who wears a modified bowling bag over his head and uses various bowling-related items to dispatch the cast. Steve and his team are surprised to see Lisa at the tournament, especially since it looks as if she has told no one about the gang-rape the night before. Lisa corners the weakest member of Steve's team, Patrick (Trevor Gemma), and tells him that this will be a night he and everyone else in the bowling alley will never forget. The killer, who keeps tally of his victims on the alley's electronic scoreboard using the initials BBK, strikes first when he suffocates opposing team member Dave (Scott Alonzo) and bimbo Julia (Danielle Munro) as they are performing oral sex on each other (Julia chokes to death on Dave's cock and Dave is asphyxiated on Julia's pussy in graphic close-up). BBK then kills transvestite AJ (Nathan Dashwood) by shoving a bowling pin down his throat and then slicing his penis in half (again in graphic close-up) like a piece of sausage. As BBK continues his killing spree, stabbing one guy repeatedly in the head with a sharpened bowling pin, crushing a girl's head between two bowling balls, strangling another girl with the laces of a pair of bowling shoes, grinding a guy's face to a pulp in a ball polishing machine and anally raping Steve with a sharpened bowling pin and sending his dismembered head up the ball return, the final two bowlers, Jamie and Sarah (Mihola Terzic), try to escape the bowling alley, only to find every exit blocked. The final reveal of the killer(s) is one of the most incoherent and unbelievable endings in modern slasher film history. This X-rated gore flick, directed/written by Ryan Nicholson (TORCHED - 2004; LIVE FEED - 2006), is a foul-mouthed, sex-filled horror film that tries to be a throwback to the gore-drenched slasher flicks of the 80's (including a lot of songs from the 70's & 80's on the soundtrack), but the amateur acting and general cheapness of the production proves to be it's undoing. While the gore effects are very well done (some are absolutely hard to watch, especially the penis slicing) and the inclusion of hardcore sex scenes an added bonus (although it's unlikely most viewers will ever see these scenes when this film gets a distribution deal), the absence of any likable characters (they are either sex-crazed perverts [including the women] or curse word-filled cretins) makes it hard for the audience to give a damn about anyone's fate. If it's gore you want, this film delivers. If it's a coherent plot and interesting characters you crave, you're better off sticking with the actual slasher films of the 80's, where a semblance of plot and character development were more paramount. BBK is a ridiculous looking serial killer, wearing a bowling bag over his head and donning two bowling pins in holsters like they were six-shooters. The unmasking (or rather, unbagging) of BBK and the explanation of what the initials stand for is laughable to the point of being insanely stupid. Let's just say that GUTTERBALLS is bloody as hell but it doesn't have a brain cell in its tiny little head. I also have the feeling that the music soundtrack, which contains songs by Loverboy, Bachman Turner Overdrive, April Wine and Trooper, will probably be altered before it is legally distributed. I seriously doubt an ultra-low-budget film like this could afford the licensing fees for these songs. BBK would return in the equally pornographic GUTTERBALLS 2: BALLS DEEP (2015; which I am sure will be released in a non-porn version) but by this time Ryan Nicholson had become a much, much better filmmaker and a really great special effects makeup person with his equally-talented wife Megan. The sequel was funded by a Kickstarter campaign and they reached their goal in less than a day, which says a lot about the popularity of the first film. I don't hate this film, but I have seen much better, just without the hardcore sex. I have enjoyed a lot of Nicholson's later films, though (HANGER [2009]; BLEADING LADY (a.k.a. STAR VEHICLE - 2010); FAMINE - 2011; DEAD NUDE GIRLS - 2013; and especially COLLAR [2014]). He takes chances most filmmakers don't and is not afraid to "go there". What he needs more than anything is more complex screenplays, If he had that capability, he would become the new king of horror films. Also starring Wade Gibb, Jeremy Beland, Jimmy Blais, Stephanie Schacter and Dan Ellis as the mysterious bowling alley manager. A TLA Releasing DVD Release (the Unrated Version without the graphic hardcore sex). The version I viewed was the complete, unedited version supplied by Plotdigger Films. Not Rated, for obvious reasons.

HACK-O-LANTERN (1987) - Grandpa (Hy Pyke of SPAWN OF THE SLITHIS - 1977) has taken an unusual interest in his grandson Tommy (Gregory Scott Cummins of BLOOD GAMES - 1989). Unusual in many ways. It is made clear early on that Grandpa is also Tommy's biological father, the result of Grandpa raping his daughter (Katina Garner) on her wedding day. Grandpa is also the leader of a cult of Satan worshippers and wants Tommy to join the cult on HALLOWEEN NIGHT (one of the film's alternate titles). Grandpa's influence has left its mark on Tommy. He likes the taste of blood, dresses in black clothing, likes his room stuffy and keeps a satanic altar in his bedroom closet. This worries Mom quite a bit as well as Tommy's sister (Carla Baron) and policeman brother (Jeff Brown). To make matters worse, someone wearing a Devil costume is slaughtering the town's population in various ways. When his sister's boyfriend turns up dead (a shovel buried in his head), she blames Tommy and crashes his inauguration with the Devil to exact revenge. She is captured and Grandpa orders Tommy to kill her. He frees her instead which greatly disappoints Grandpa. The climatic showdown at the town's annual Halloween party pits Grandpa against the masked killer. Grandpa dies (but not before passing his powers on to one of his grandkids) and the killer is unmasked (no real surprise). This is an OK horror item which, though short on logic, has enough blood and female frontal nudity to hold your interest. A beheading, a hoe to the side of the head, a branding and a knifing are some of the effects on view. The acting is generally good although Pyke over emotes shamelessly (and he looks like an older version of Mike Myers in WAYNE'S WORLD - 1992).  Director Jag Mundhra also made OPEN HOUSE (1987 - with Adrienne Barbeau), THE JIGSAW MURDERS (1988), the Tanya Roberts starrer, NIGHT EYES (1990) and countless erotic thrillers in the 90's. HACK-O-LANTERN is nothing extraordinary, but not bad and is also available on video under the titles THE DAMNING and DEATH MASK. A Legacy Entertainment VHS Release. Rated R. Released on Blu-Ray from Massacre Video.

HALLETTSVILLE (2007) - This regional horror film, lensed in Austin, Texas, opens with someone murdering all the school children (by hanging, stabbing, bashing in the head with a rock) in a one-room schoolhouse in 1901 Texas and then burying the young bodies somewhere in the forest. Cut to the present, as we watch Tyler Jensen (Derek Lee Nixon) attending the funeral of his grandmother Hanna Myers. He has a flashback to when he was a child and Grandma Hanna grabbed his hand and cryptically said, "It stops with you!". Tyler has been away at college and when he returns back to the town of Hallettsville, it opens a floodgate of memories and bad emotions, the toughest being the breakup with his girlfriend April (Katie Fountain). She is till trying to get back together with Tyler (even offering to move so she can go to college with him), but she hurt him so bad, he wants nothing to do with her. When Tyler finds out that his parents are about to sell Grandma Hanna's ranch house, he gathers his friends, Luke (producer Logan Patrick Brown), Mark (Jordan Brower), Jonathan (Jesse Janzen), Candice (Brooke Baker) and Kristin (Karoly Giardello), to come with him to spend one more weekend at the house. Even April is able to talk her way into coming with them. On their way to the ranch house, they are stopped by Sheriff Dave Ketchum (a slurred-speech Gary Busey), who warns them not to cause any trouble while they are here. Tyler's mother (GiGi Erneta) is not very keen on Tyler and his friends going to Grandma Hanna's house because, when she was a little girl, she found the dead, mutilated body of her brother and later saw a horned demon in her bedroom, but she closed her eyes real tight and it went away. That night, around a campfire on the ranch house property (Where Jonathan tells this joke: Q: "What's funnier than a dead baby?" A. "A dead baby in a clown suit!"), Tyler tells everyone that on this property in 1901, a black-clad, mustached stranger visited school teacher Adam Lemmerich (Aidan Marus) in the middle of the night and possessed him. The next morning he killed all the school children in his charge, buried them and then disappeared, never to be seen again. Before you can say, "Hey, is this ranch house haunted?", the house begins fucking with everyones' heads, so much so that Jonathan wants to go home. Tyler agrees to drive him home, but when April tells Tyler that she's pregnant, Jonathan's problem suddenly takes a back seat. Too bad, because Jonathan is being haunted by the ghosts of all the dead school children. He steals Tyler's truck, flips it over trying to avoid a coyote in the middle of the road and is killed by one of the ghosts, leaving everyone else trapped at the haunted ranch house with no way out (Hey, don't they have feet? And conveniently, cell phones don't work there.). Mark is the next to die (drowned in a pond), followed by Kristin (tied to a tree and butchered), leaving the remaining foursome to grab some weapons to fight the ghost children (What do you use to kill ghosts? They're already dead!). But is it only the children they should worry about?  This totally ordinary low-budget horror flick, directed and co-written (with star Derek Lee Nixon and Tim Massey) by freshman Andrew Pozza, offers no real surprises to the viewers. The story has enough holes to drive a train through (The convenient discovery of Adam's journal, which explains everything. Where has it been for over a hundred years?) and the gore is very restrained, consisting of quick, almost subliminal, edits or showing the after-effects of the kills. Gary Busey (who looks very gaunt here, but no less crazy than usual) seems to be embarrassed to be involved in this film (which may be why they gave him a Producer credit) and is given the lion's share of awful dialogue (Tyler: "Can we have a minute here?" Sheriff: "You have 59 seconds." What is this, LET'S MAKE A DEAL?). The majority of the film finds the cast walking or running through the woods, while ghost children and grunting demons pick them off one-by-one. HALLETTSVILLE has as much meat on its bones as a starving Somalian child. The downbeat finale, which we have seen a thousand times in modern DTV horror flicks (Busey quits the police force and gets drunk [there's a stretch!] and April has her baby, who has pitch-black eyes), only add to its ordinariness. It's not a badly-made film, just a forgettable one. Also starring Dorian Ingram, Andrew Rice and Zach Freeman. A Westlake Entertainment Group DVD Release. Not Rated.

HALLOWEEN NIGHT (2006) - Another one of The Asylum's quickly-made horror flicks, this one released early to cash-in on Rob Zombie's upcoming HALLOWEEN (2007) remake and the whole HALLOWEEN franchise in general. A young boy named Chris Vale witnesses his mother being raped and shot in the head by two masked home invaders. A stray bullet hits a steam pipe (in a house?), spraying hot steam all over Chris and burning him over 90% of his body. Ten years later, on Halloween Day, Chris (Scot Nery) escapes from a mental hospital when an orderly makes fun of him by wearing the same kind of mask as the home invaders who killed his mom (the orderly has his throat graphically ripped-out for his stupid and insensitive joke). We then switch to college student David Baxter (Derek Osedach; SNAKES ON A TRAIN - 2006), as he is outfitting his home to be the ultimate haunted house and all his friends start showing up in costume, including his fiancée Shannon (Rebekah Kochan; PIRATES OF TREASURE ISLAND - 2006), who is expecting a marriage proposal. The trouble is, Chris has just killed party guest Todd (Nicholas Daly Clark) when he stops at a gas station bathroom to change into his costume (a masked medieval knight complete with an armory of real edged weapons, in one of the film's most offensive coincidences). Chris dons Todd's costume and, after killing Todd (a sword through the mouth) and his girlfriend (repeated blows to the stomach with a miniature battleaxe until her guts spill out), he heads to David's party. David punks all his friends with an ultimately tasteless practical joke that involves friend Daryll (Jared Michaels; PLAGUERS - 2008), a fake cop and Todd as a hostage, but since Todd isn't actually Todd, the joke does not play out as planned and real cops show up and shut the party down. "Hostage" Chris (still dressed as Todd) impales Daryll with a sword and kills the fake cop (away from everyone else) and heads back to the house, where a pissed-off Shannon (who wasn't in on the prank), David and a few friends (including a couple of horny lesbians) still remain. Chris begins dispatching the few remaining guests with his arsenal of sharp weapons (he favors the battleaxe), but he doesn't harm Shannon because she reminds him of his mother, including the necklace she wears around her neck that David just gave her. The questions soon become: Is it the same exact necklace and where did David get it from? While Chris keeps Shannon tied-up in one of the bedrooms, the killings continue and secrets are revealed (Such as: This is the same house where Chris was disfigured and his mother was raped and killed ten years earlier.). I think we can all see where this is heading; right up to the ready-made finale that leaves this film wide-open for a sequel.  Purportedly based on a true story (yeah, right), HALLOWEEN NIGHT is nothing but a series of gory stalk 'n' slash scenes with a minimum of plot. Director Mark Atkins (EVIL EYES - 2004; HAUNTING OF WINCHESTER HOUSE - 2009; and cinematographer for the majority of The Asylum's productions) and screenwriter Michael Gingold (LEECHES! - 2003) have fashioned a horror film that exists solely on clichés, coincidences and stereotypes (The only person who puts up much of a fight with Chris is one of the lesbians and she gets a wooden clothes hanger shoved through her eye at the end of the fight). The major problem with this film, though, is the performance by Derek Osedach as David. He delivers all his lines (even the most serious ones) in such a glib, almost unrehearsed, manner that he comes across as a younger, less funny, version of Adam Carolla (if you can imagine that). While there is plenty of blood and gore on view, none of it is particularly well done or memorable. It's usually quickly-edited shots of someone being impaled or sliced, followed by shots of the victims spitting-up blood. In other words, another typical flick from the The Asylum, who have never been accused of trying too hard. Also starring Sean Durrie, Alicia Klein, Erica Roby, Amanda Ward, Jay Costelo, Amelia Jackson-Gray and a cameo by Eric Spudic, writer of AQUANOIDS (2003) and director of KILLERS BY NATURE (2005). An Asylum Home Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

THE HANGING WOMAN (1973) - This Spanish/Italian co-production contains some very gory violence and a good dose of atmosphere, but it is missing something that I can't put my finger on. Maybe I'll realize what it is as I write this review.
     19th Century Scotland: We watch a funeral procession for a Count, which concludes at his creepy tomb. The priest performing the service gets so creeped out, he rushes through the service and runs out of the tomb. Then we see the daughter of the Count, Mary (Aurora de Alba; VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES - 1972), sneaking into the empty tomb and searching her father's corpse. She finds a document, but before she is able to read it, someone or something grabs her (whatever it is, it is impervious to her derringer). Mary is found hanging by her neck in the cemetery by Serge Chekov ("Stan Cooper"; real name: Stelvio Rosi; SOMETHING CREEPING IN THE DARK - 1971), the Count's nephew, who traveled a long distance to be at his funeral (and the reading of his will). He starts banging on doors, but no one will answer, until he gets to the castle of Countess Nadia Mihaly (Maria Pia Conte; SPASMO - 1974). He notices a painting hanging on the wall that looks exactly like Mary and when he tells the Countess that he found her hanging in the cemetery, she yells out , "She is my step-daughter!" and then faints. The police are called in (but not before we witness Mary's gory autopsy, as we see her chest cut open and her internal organs are removed), where the Inspector (Pasquale Basile) announces to everyone in the castle that Mary was murdered and it was made to look like a suicide. Since Mary was to inherit her father's fortune, the next in the family line to reap the dead Count's fortunes will be... Serge Chekov.
     This news doesn't sit too well with the Countess, so she comes up with a plan to get rid of Serge with the help of her sometimes lover, cemetery caretaker Igor (Paul Naschy; THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK - 1975). The major problem with this plan is that the Inspector believes Igor killed Mary, so he will have to stay hidden until the heat blows over. The Countess offers Serge a room in the castle, but the butler (Charles Quiney) has objections (he may also be the Countess' lover!) and they get into a fight, Serge winning and chasing the butler out of the house by shooting his pistol at his feet. Igor tries to kill Serge that night, but fails, so the Countess plays stupid and invites Serge into her bedroom. She asks Serge if he believes in the occult and then they both strip and make love (this is intercut with Igor opening Mary's casket and fondling her autopsied body. Necrophelia is implied!). Serge then meets his Uncle's partner, Professor Leon Droila (Gérard Tichy; PIECES - 1982), a scientist who has a laboratory in the castle. The Professor is nervous that Serge will sell the castle, thereby discontinuing his experiments on reanimating dead tissue. Serge tells him that he can continue his experiments because he has no plans on selling the castle. This being a castle, there are all sorts of secret passageways and peep holes that the Countess and Igor can use to spy on Serge.
     The Professor's daughter, Doris (Dianick Zorakowska; THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY - 1972) and Serge begin a tentative love affair because she does not want Serge to sell the castle, so her father can continue his experiments (The first time they meet, Serge makes her strip in front of him. If she doesn't her father is out of a job. When Doris does strip, Serge calls her "the most stupid girl I have ever known" because he already agreed to let her father continue his experiments. Yet she still falls in love with him!). By a fluke of luck, Serge finds the Count's secret hidden diary, but it is written in Russian. He has Doris translate the last entry in the diary. It says, "I will take my secret to the tomb". Serge believes that the Count has a document on his dead body that could explain his death and who killed him, so he plans, with Doris' help, to break into the tomb and retrieve the document. With Doris playing decoy for the Inspector, he breaks into the tomb, but the Count's body is not there. The Countess proposes that they perform a seance to contact Mary, so she can tell them what was in the document (Why not contact the Count? He would know better than Mary!). Alas, the seance comes off better than expected, as a zombified Count appears in the room and strangles the life out of the Countess. For some unknown reason, Serge believes Igor is to blame and runs to the tomb. Serge is knocked out and the zombie Count kills Igor, sealing his body in an empty chamber in the tomb. When Serge comes to, the Inspector is expecting answers. The Count's body is now in the tomb and the Inspector discovers Igor's dead body in the tomb chamber, where he has written "No37" in his own blood on the chamber wall. What could it possibly mean?
     The Inspector puts Serge under house arrest, mistakenly thinking he killed Igor, but he and Doris are determined to discover the truth. Are the dead coming back to life? Are the Professor's reanimation experiments successful? Who is the woman Serge sees wearing Doris' cape? Has the Countess come back to life? (To make sure Igor is really dead, Serge stabs his corpse in the heart with a knife!). It is at this point that the film switches from a mystery to a straight-up horror film, as Serge and Doris are attacked by the reanimated corpses of the Countess and the butler. The Inspector captures Serge, but Doris is trapped in the castle's catacombs, a series of tunnels that run beneath the castle into the cemetery. Serge is able to figure out that when "No37" is read upside-down, it reads "LEoN" or "Leon", the Professor's first name. The Professor reanimates Igor (He still has the knife sticking out of his chest!) and explains his dastardly plans to Serge. It seems that the Count went mad and wanted the Professor to supply him with an army of zombies (WTF?!?), and he wanted nothing to do with it, but he didn't want to lose his laboratory, so he killed the Count (and had one of his zombies kill Mary). He used the castle's underground tunnels to steal bodies from the cemetery for his experiments. The Professor doesn't know that his daughter is trapped in the catacombs and when he realizes he has no control over Igor (Serge has to cut Igor's head off with a sword!), he and Serge try to rescue Doris from his other zombies. How do you kill a zombie in 19th Century Scotland (Serge tries by pumping nine bullets into the butler's body with his six-shooter, without reloading!)? Fire is a good idea, but expect a surprise ending.
     I think I know know what that "missing something" thing is that I mentioned at the top of this review. This film is far too schizophrenic for its own good. It doesn't know whether it wants to be a mystery or a horror film and it fails at both. Too bad, because the horror in this film is palpable, but it is under-utilized. The zombies are frightening in their appearance, but we see too little of them. Director/co-screenwriter (with Enrico Colombo; NIGHT OF THE BLOOD MONSTER - 1970) José Luis Merino, who also gave us SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER (1970), as well as ZORRO THE INVINCIBLE and  ZORRO, RIDER OF VENGEANCE (both 1971 and starring this film's Charles Quiney as the title character), supplies plenty of atmosphere, but the story is lacking in urgency, as we really don't care what happens to Serge or Doris since they are so broadly written (Serge especially, since he treats Doris like a two dollar whore and she gladly accepts it). Paul Naschy took a secondary role in this film because he was filming THE CRIMES OF PETIOT (directed by José Luis Madrid) back-to-back with this and couldn't spare the time for a starring role. This film does have plenty of female nudity (some of it full frontal) and blood, so it it not a total loss. I have seen much worse Spanish horror, so you may think more of it than I do.
     Also known under a littany of titles. It was released to theaters in the U.S. under the review title and as BEYOND THE LIVING DEAD. It was also released on VHS under those two titles as well as RETURN OF THE ZOMBIES (the print title is "Return Of The Zombis". My review is based on this tape) by Wizard Video. Full Moon released a fullscreen DVD of this film using the Wizard print as part of their "Full Moon's Grindhouse Collection". Unfortunately, that is all that is legally available in the States, as we have yet to get a widescreen DVD or Blu-Ray (at the time of this review). Hey Code Red, what do you say? Also starring Giuliana Garavaglia, Carla Mancini, José Cárdenas and Isarco Ravaioli. Rated R.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1980) - When Columbia Pictures saw what a monster hit Paramount Pictures had with FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), they quickly commissioned their own slasher film and this was the result. I must say that their choice of director, J. Lee Thompson, was a bit peculiar, since the closest he came to directing a horror film was the original CAPE FEAR (1962) or the Charles Bronson fantasy Western THE WHITE BUFFALO (1977; Thompson would also direct the majority of Bronson's 80's output, including THE EVIL THAT MEN DO - 1984; MESSENGER OF DEATH - 1988; and KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS - 1989). The choice of casting Western film and TV star Glenn Ford to offset the young cast was also an odd choice, in what amounts to an extended cameo (although he does have more screen time here than he did in the strange Italian/German horror film THE VISITOR - 1978), but this whole film has this same odd feel, like its whole purpose was to rush it out to theaters before the slasher craze ran its course. The story is fairly simple: Troubled teen Virginia "Ginny" Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson; MIDNIGHT OFFERINGS - 1981) re-enrolls as a student at Crawford Academy and soon members of her new clique of friends begin dying bloody deaths. Previously, Ginny was involved in a car accident where her mother died and Ginny laid in a coma for several months, but an experimental procedure to regrow brain tissue was performed on her, which made Ginny wake up. Her memory is a bit foggy, but as every day passes, she gets bits and pieces of it back with the help of her psychiatrist, Dr. David Faraday (Ford). Harold (Lawrence Dane; RITUALS - 1977), Ginny's very rich father, seems to be holding something back from his daughter, but when more and more of Ginny's friends end up missing (they are actually killed, but only the audience is let in on that), even his money may not buy his way out of this situation. We watch as Ginny's friends meet various bloody demises by a killer dressed in black leather (including the prerequisite gloves): Bernadette (Lesleh Donaldson; FUNERAL HOME - 1981) has her throat slit with a strait razor; Etienne (Michel Rene Labelle) has his face turned into a bloody pulp when his scarf is tossed into the spinning wheels of his motorcycle; Greg (Richard Rebiere) has his trachea crushed when the killer drops a 20 lb. weight on his balls while he is bench-pressing way too much weight; Alfred (Jack Blum) is stabbed in the stomach with garden shears; Steve (Matt Craven; THE INTRUDER WITHIN - 1981) is skewered through the mouth with a shish-kebab tong; Ann (Tracy Bregman; THE CONCRETE JUNGLE - 1982) has her throat cut and is placed in a bathtub; and Dr. Faraday has his skull split open with a fireplace poker. All evidence points to Ginny being the killer and as her eighteenth birthday rapidly approaches, it sets the all-too-familiar scene of all the dead students sitting around Ginny's birthday table, complete with birthday hats and party favors, but an unbelievable final coda reveals if Ginny is really the killer or not (bet on not).  Way too overlong at 111 minutes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME suffers from that old corporate curse: Yeah, we want to make a teen slasher flick, but let's fill it with characters that were born to be red herrings (not to mention that they don't act like teens I ever knew), adults that act like they were never kids (they either yell at, ignore or patronize the teens) and edit the killings so that they show a hint of red, but never goes "all the way" (You have to hit the freeze frame button on your remote to get the full effect). Another important aspect this film lacks is nudity, something teen slashers must have. The closest it gets is showing Ms. Anderson in her bra. She even takes a shower and we see nothing! So basically what we have here is what a big studio thinks a slasher film should be and, of course, they miss the whole point by a mile. The late Glenn Ford looks and acts bored beyond tears and the screenplay, by John Saxton, Peter Jobin and Timothy Bond, is full of those handy coincidences and surprise reveals that makes audiences groan loudly in disbelief (especially that perfect Melissa Sue Anderson mask that the killer wears in the finale that would make MISSION IMPOSSIBLE envious!). Worth viewing if only to see how big corporations fuck-up the slasher genre. Also starring Lisa Langlois (THE NEST - 1987), Sharon Acker, Frances Hyland, David Eisner and Lenore Zann (VISITING HOURS - 1982). Originally released on VHS by Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment and available on widescreen DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Rated R.

HAPPY HELL NIGHT (1991) - What starts out as a strange and eerie experience quickly turns into standard slasher material in this Canadian/Yugoslavian co-production. A college fraternity sends out its pledges on Hell Night to take a photo of a lunatic named Malius (Charles Cragin) at the local insane asylum. Twenty-five years earlier, Malius killed and dismembered five pledges of the same fraternity and has spent the past quarter century sitting motionless in his cell, the outside world protected by a crucifix attached to his cell door. As you can guess, the pledges fuck-up and release Malius (whose pale, skeletal features make him a sight to behold) and he goes on a killing spree at the college. There's a sub-plot involving a pledge and his brother (the fraternity president) who are both in love with the same girl, but it's not very interesting. Darren McGavin portrays the two brothers' father, a survivor of the original massacre who harbors some secrets of his own. The rest of the film is merely a series of brutal (and unrated) killings, as Malius slashes throats, removes limbs and thrusts an ice hammer through the bodies of unsuspecting college kids having sex, including the welcome death of a video peeping tom (Ted Clark, who looks like comedian Richard Belzer on a herion binge). McGavin arrives to save his kids and confesses that it was he who performed a satanic ritual twenty-five years earlier, raising Malius from the dead (he thought it was a harmless fraternity prank until it was too late). McGavin is then stabbed in the back with his own ice hammer by Malius and as he lays mortally wounded he tells the kids that only the reading of a magical passage, performed at the original massacre site, will return Malius to the grave. They do. He does. The end. Or is it? While this film does have a few atmospheric touches (including a statue of Jesus on the cross coming to life) and plenty of extreme gore, it is basic "Teens have sex, teens get killed" formula filmmaking made popular back in 1980 by FRIDAY THE 13TH. This type of film went out of style years ago. Charles Cragin is terrifying as Malius and one wishes that there were a better storyline to showcase his talents (the ending of this film points the way for a Part 2, but I doubt that will ever happen). Darren McGavin's role in this film is no more than a extended cameo and he looks embarassed to be here. He probably took the role to get a free trip to Yugoslavia (where some exteriors were filmed) and to get some extra booze money. It's a long way from his KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER (1974 - 1975) days. Everyone else in the cast are unknowns and will probably stay that way. If you are interested, there is some full frontal female nudity on view as well as some good photography, but not enough to get your mind off the fact this is something you have seen a hundred times before. To sum it up, HAPPY HELL NIGHT is neither good or bad. It's just deja vu. Directed by Brian Owens who also got story credit on the 1994 horror opus BRAINSCAN. Released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment to cash-in on co-stars Jorja Fox (TV's CSI) and Sam Rockwell's (MATCHSTICK MEN - 2003) recent fame (they have basically nothing more than cameo roles here, especially Fox, who goes uncredited in her role as a sorority girl). Available on a beautiful OAR Blu-Ray from Code Red with a reversible cover.  Not Rated.

HATCHET (2007) - When one of the blurbs on the DVD package states "Amongst the greatest slasher flicks of all time", your expectations are automatically set to "high". Sadly, it fails to meet those expectations, but I will give it points for being extremely bloody and downright funny in spots. This Louisiana-set (but filmed on sets in Los Angeles) horror comedy opens with a father/son gator hunting team (played by Robert Englund and Joshua Leonard) being savagely disemboweled and dismembered by some unknown killer with superhuman powers. We then cut to Mardi Gras, where downbeat Ben (Joel David Moore; the paranoid computer game genius "J.R." in GRANDMA'S BOY [2006]), who is trying to get over a recent breakup with his girlfriend, talks his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond; SCREAM 3 - 2000) into taking a haunted midnight swamp tour, run by huckster Shawn (Parry Shen), who knows less about the swamp than his paying customers, which includes know-it-all Mr. Parmetteo (Richard Riehle) and his wife (Patriko Darbo); a Girls Gone Wild-type producer named Doug Shapiro (Joel Murray) and two bimbos, Misty (Mercedes McNab) and Jenna (Joleigh Fioreavianti), who doff their tops at the drop of a hat; and morose local girl Marybeth (Tamara Feldman), who is the daughter and sister of the two missing gator hunters. When the inexperienced Shawn accidentally sinks the tour boat and Mr. Parmetteo is bitten on the leg by a gator, the tour group must traverse the swamp at night. Marybeth tells everyone that the swamp is haunted by the ghost of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder; also the film's Stunt Coordinator), a horribly disfigured man who was accidentally axed in the head by his father (also played by Hodder in flashbacks) when trying to save him from a house fire (a prank gone wrong perpetrated by local kids with fireworks). Victor makes his presence immediately known and begins killing members of the tour group in extremely graphic ways, while everyone bickers amongst themselves and reveal secrets about each other (Some are damn funny, such as when Jenna reveals that she was not accepted at New York University, so she had to attend Hoffstra instead!). Only Ben and Marybeth are able to keep their wits about them (not to mention their heads) as Victor dispatches the rest of the group. The quick finale (a direct steal from the first FRIDAY THE 13TH [1980]) will have you cursing at the screen in utter disappointment.  The only way to watch this film is by way of the unrated DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. It did have a limited theatrical run, but it was a heavily-cut R-rated edit, that trimmed most of the bloody deaths. Director/scripter Adam Green (SPIRAL - 2007; co-directed by star Joel David Moore) spends too much time on character development and jokey dialogue throughout the first half of the film, but once Victor Crowley starts his killing spree, it's pretty much a non-stop gorefest. Special effects master John Carl Buechler (who has a cameo here as a swamp hick named Jack Cracker) and his MMI effects house supply some truly eye-opening and, refreshingly, non-CGI gore set-pieces, including bloody dismemberment by hatchet, a head getting manually ripped apart at the jawline, a head being twisted-off at the neck like a bottlecap, dismemberment and decapitation by shovel, a face being ground to chuck by a gas-powered belt sander (!), arms being ripped out of their sockets and other bloody mayhem. Believe me when I say that nothing is left to the imagination. Green's joke-filled script contains more groaners than hits, but I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. It's also apparent that Green is a huge fan of slasher films, as he slips in various homages to slasher flicks of the past, especially the FRIDAY THE 13TH series (Parts 1 & 2 are predominantly featured). My biggest complaint, though, is the sudden, senseless ending, which either shows that Green could never figure out a proper finale or he wanted to set it up for the inevitable sequel. Either way, it's nearly an unforgivable cop-out. Die-hard gorehounds should really enjoy this, though. It's well-made, decently acted by a cast of familiar faces and bloody as hell. Tony Todd (who is becoming the Cameron Mitchell of the new millennium) puts in a cameo as the litigious-wary Reverend Zombie, a swamp tour guide who refuses to take Ben and Marcus on a tour because his last customer sued him. An Anchor Bay Entertainment Release. The DVD contains a wealth of extras, including a "making of" documentary, plenty of behind-the-scenes docs on the gore effects and other background info, full-length commentaries by the cast and crew and a funny gag reel. Followed by an ultra-gory sequel in 2010, with Adam Green directing, Tony Todd in a much bigger role as Reverend Zombie and Danielle Harris (HALLOWEEN - 2007) giving the worst performance of her career. As with the original, stay away from the R-Rated edit, otherwise you will miss some of the best, bloodiest kills. Unrated.

HATCHET III (2013) - NOTE: To see my thoughts on HATCHET II (2010), click HERE. While slightly better than its predecessor, this second sequel still leaves a lot to be desired storywise, unless you watch these films only for the gore. If that's all you want, this film delivers the grue in bucket loads. It begins where the first sequel left off, where Marybeth (Danielle Harris, who is still as bad as she was in the first sequel, replacing Tamara Feldman in the original film) shoots Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) in the face with a shotgun (although it looks like much more damage was done to his face in the first sequel) and walks away, only to have Crowley get up and chase her. During their struggle, Crowley falls on an operating chainsaw and is cut in half from stem to stern (Outrageously graphic, but don't chainsaws have safety switches so this type of thing doesn't happen?). Marybeth, who is soaked in blood, takes a piece of Crowley's face and walks into the local police station, still carrying the shotgun. She is immediately arrested, washed down by a power hose (What about preserving the evidence?) and put in a cell under suspicion of multiple murders, where Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan, a long career slide since his starring role in GREMLINS - 1984) interrogates Marybeth and she tells him that Victor Crowley was responsible, not her. Not believing her, he sends out a search team into the area she was in the swamps, only for the team to discover multiple body parts and bodies missing most of their skin. As the Sheriff heads to the area, with a boat crew of paramedics (including Andrew [Parry Shen, who returns from the first two films, but in a totally different role] and Randy [Sean Whalen; LAID TO REST - 2009]) and a S.W.A.T. team (headed by Hawes [Derek Mears, who played Jason Vorhees in the 2009 FRIDAY THE 13TH reboot]), the Sheriffs ex-wife, Amanda (Caroline Williams; THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 - 1986, who overacts here to the point of parody), a disgraced reporter who hopes to prove her theory that Victor Crowley is real, talks Deputy Winslow (Robert Diago DoQui) into releasing Marybeth from her cell to defeat Victor Crowley once and for all. Amanda believes that only the people related to the persons responsible for Victor Crowley's father's death can kill him (Marybeth is the daughter of one of the deceased men, played by Robert Englund in the first film), so she, Marybeth and Deputy Winslow drive to the house of Abbott McMullen (Sid Haig, in a funny cameo performance as a hard-of-hearing racist), who has the cremated remains of Crowley's father in an urn. Amanda thinks that if Marybeth gives the urn to Victor Crowley, he will disappear for good and not be able to repeat the same day over-and-over. After nearly everyone is killed in the swamp by Crowley (gore-soaked deaths, including the decapitation of Sheriff Fowler using the gas-powered belt sander, which was also used in the first two films but doesn't exist in real life), the trio turn up in the swamp, where Amanda and Deputy Winslow are butchered by Crowley. Marybeth manages to throw the ashes of his father on Crowley's face after she is impaled on a tree branch. Crowley begins to disintegrate, but Marybeth makes sure that he is dead by blowing his body to bits with a shotgun blast. As Marybeth begins to takes her final breaths (?), the film cuts to black and the movie is over (a trademark of this franchise).  None of the film makes any sense at all and there are plot holes galore, but there are a few redeeming bits and pieces (pardon the pun), including a uncredited cameo from the first film's star, Joel David Moore, where we finally learn his fate. The gore is laid on hot and heavy and is very well done (by "Aunt Dolly's Garage"), but the film has a overall cheapness to it. Adam Green doesn't direct this time (he just wrote the screenplay and executive produced it, along with six other people), handing over the reins to freshman director BJ McDonnell, who usually is an expert Steadicam operator on such films as THE COLLECTOR (2009) and its sequel THE COLLECTION (2012) and worked on the first two HATCHET films as well. McDonnell does all he can with a weak script (there's a funny scene concerning a man's testicles hanging from a tree branch), but it's apparent most of the film's meager budget was spent flying everyone to Louisiana (the film's locale and the first time the series has filmed there, lensed during the Spring and Summer of 2012, where many of the crew were hospitalized with numerous bug bites and heat exhaustion), the massive gore effects (all physical and no CGI enhancement, which is always a plus), weapons fire and explosions. But if you're just in the mood for a blood-spattered gorefest, you may overlook the film's many shortcomings and just go along for the ride. I'm sure there will be a Part 4 sometime in the future, but as of this review, none has been announced. I just hope they replace Danielle Harris this time. She's great on the eyes (she has a nude scene in this, revealing that she has a giant tattoo on her back), but her acting in the two sequels borderlines on amateurish. Also starring Cody Blue Snider, Rileah Vanderbilt, Jason Trost, John Michael Sudol and Diane Ayala Goldner. Adam Green appears as a drunk in a cell next to Marybeth. A Dark Sky Films DVD & Blu-Ray Release. As with the first two films, expect an R-Rated cut (avoid) and an Unrated one. NOTE: A surprise third sequel, VICTOR CROWLEY, was announced to be released in 2017 (released on Blu-Ray & DVD in February 2018), directed by Adam Green.

HATCHETMAN (2003) - Here's an original idea: Someone sporting a latex horror mask and a black hooded sweatshirt is killing the strippers who work at a titty bar run by DiAngelo (Gino Maurizio). The unknown killer is particularly interested in the strippers' hands, as he has the tendency to cut them off with his trusty sharp steel hatchet and take them with him. Claudia (Cheryl Burns), a college girl by day/stripper by night (are there any other kind?), is dating cop Sonny (Jon Briddell), who supports Claudia's night job (stripping is helping her pay her way through law school), but really wants to marry her and get her out of the stripping lifestyle. Every time he goes to pop the question, another stripper ends up dead and he has to leave to investigate. The list of suspects (i.e. red herrings) is rather small, but obvious: There's Daniel Strong (Daniel Brown), a ex-boyfriend of one of the dead strippers who was just released from jail; Marty (Matt McDonald), a perverted auto mechanic who lives in the same apartment complex as all the strippers (a plot device that is too coincidental to believe) and likes to sneak into their apartments and try on their underwear; apartment manager Rob (Chris Moir), who has a crush on snooty stripper Star (Mia Zottoli) and has installed a spycam in her apartment so he can watch her; and Rob's friend Curtis (Darren Keefe Reiher), a surveillance specialist and apartment maintenance man who has a thing for novice stripper Molly (Nina Tapanin). When stripper Chloe (Racquel Richard) is found dead in her apartment with her hands missing (her nose-picking days are over), Claudia decides this is the perfect time to re-evaluate her life. Does she give up stripping and marry Sonny? Hell, no, she does the exact opposite! She breaks up with Sonny, the only person who can protect her, and continues stripping, while trying to solve the murders on her own (she is such a fucking idiot!). When Rob spots someone in a black hooded sweatshirt in Star's apartment on his spycam, he alerts a cop, who enters Star's apartment and shoots Marty (who was only there to ransack Star's panty drawer), killing him. Star is then killed in her car, Daniel is arrested and a cop is killed in the apartment after Daniel is captured, which proves that Daniel is innocent and the killer can be only one of two people. The idiotic Claudia and the rest of the strippers celebrate Daniel's arrest by partying with Rob at Curtis' home deep in the woods (c'mon now, I may be gullible but I'm not fuckin' gullible!). I think everyone with half a brain can guess what happens next.  Well, if it's tits and ass you are looking for, HATCHETMAN certainly delivers, much more so than any horror film in recent memory. Hardly five minutes go by without some good-looking gal exposing her breasts (some natural, but most silicon-enhanced) or giving us some gratuitous crotch shots, but the horror elements usually amount to nothing more than showing us the killer swinging his hatchet, followed by shots of blood splashing against walls, windows and other objects. Director Robert Tiffi (a.k.a. Robert Tiffe; SWORD OF HONOR - 1994) does let us see some of the handless corpses after the fact (as well as a pretty lame CGI-enhanced throat slitting), but the screenplay, co-written by Tiffe and Steven Jones, just piles-on one plot convenience and contrivance after another until all the viewer can do is roll their eyes in disbelief. Not only are we expected to believe that all the strippers live in the same apartment complex and that Claudia couldn't have picked the worse time to break-up with Sonny, we are also supposed to believe that Claudia is better at police work than her ex-boyfriend, based solely on the fact that she will soon be entering law school! Once you hear the killer's motivation for the hand removals ("Mommy did bad things with her hands!"), I doubt you'll stay until the film's sorry non-ending. The whole film plays like some third-rate Americanized giallo film, so why don't you watch one of those instead? The acting runs from decent to truly awful (Chris Moir as Rob is simply terrible) and the cinematography is sometimes very atmospheric, but HATCHETMAN fails as a horror film thanks to it's absurd screenplay full of coincidences and mind-numbing motivations. As a T&A flick, on the other hand, it succeeds completely. Also starring Elizabeth Ryan, Fonta Sawyer, Leila Renae and Christina Lepanto. A Showtime Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.

THE HAUNTED (1976) - During the Civil War an Indian woman (Ann Michelle) is accused of witchcraft by a priest and an Army sergeant (Aldo Ray) to cover up the fact that she caught them stealing Indian gold. Her punishment is to be stripped naked, tied to a horse and sent out to the Arizona desert to die. She curses Ray and his family line, saying the curse will be lifted when the gold is returned to its' rightful owners. Over 100 years later, the sergeant's descendent (Ray again) lives in a virtual ghost-town called Apacheland (an old movie location site) with his two nephews (Jim Negele & Brad Rearden) and his dead brother's blind wife (Virginia Mayo). Mayo has gone a little looney thanks to an auto accident which killed her husband and left her sightless. Ray is in love with her (he blames his brother for stealing her away from him) and takes advantage of her now broken mind, making love to her while pretending to be her late husband. Strange things begin to happen in Apacheland. The telephone company installs a phone booth in the middle of the town's cemetery. One night the phone rings, and when Ray picks up the receiver, he hears the voice of the Indian woman telling him that his days are numbered. A young woman pulls into town with car trouble. She bears a striking resemblance to the Indian woman of yore (in fact it is Michelle again). She and Negele build a relationship much to Ray's displeasure. Negele sends his mother off to a sanitarium, feeling that she will get better there. That also pisses Ray off. Ray goes off the deep end (he knows where the gold is buried) and figures that if he kills Michelle the curse will be lifted. In the end, the telephone booth exacts the Indian woman's revenge thanks to Ray's carelessness with gasoline.This is a literate, bloodless exercise in the supernatural hampered by some amateurish acting (especially by Rearden). Director Michael de Gaetano (UFO: TARGET EARTH [1974]; VIDEO DEMONS DO PSYCHOTOWN [1989 - a.k.a. BLOODBATH IN PSYCHO TOWN]) gives us lush scenery, fleeting shots of breasts and some metaphysical dialogue. Worth a look if you like your horror more emotional than ensanguined. Originally released on VHS by VCII, followed by a budget VHS release from Gemstone Entertainment. Also available on DVD from Code Red. Rated R.

THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE (1998) - During the mid-to-late-90's, producer Roger Corman shot several haunted house horror films in Ireland (He set up a studio in Galway, Ireland and shot several dozen films of all genres from 1996 to 2002, which can be seen in the Irish documentary IT CAME FROM CONNEMARA!! [2014], something I advise you should search for), including SPECTRE (1996), THE DOORWAY (2000), and KNOCKING ON DEATH'S DOOR (1998), which director/co-writer Mitch Marcus (A BOY CALLED HATE - 1995; BOLTNECK - 2000) shot back-to-back with this film, a short, but not-so-sweet, supernatural tale based on the Henry James short story "The Ghostly Rental" (the film's shooting title). The film opens up in 1800's Boston, where James Farrow (Andrew Bowen; BIG BAD WOLF - 2006) and his secret girlfriend Sarah (Aideen O'Donnell) find what they think is an abandoned mansion and make love. A couple of months later, Sarah discovers she is pregnant, so artist college student James convinces her to get an illegal abortion, otherwise he will have to drop out of school. He takes her to a sleazy back alley abortionist/doctor, where something goes wrong and James is forced to take Sarah to a motel room above a bar, while she slowly bleeds to death. He leaves the room, telling her he will be right back and will get her help, but the callous James leaves her there while he goes back to his normal business. He catches a case of the guilts and goes back to the motel, only to discover the police carrying her bloody corpse away and put it on a cart. For some reason, James decides to go back to the mansion where he got Sarah pregnant, only to see a ghostly Sarah staring back at him through a window. He is also nearly trampled to death by a horse ridden by the sickly Professor Ambrose (Michael York, with huge muttonchops), who is racing away from the mansion at a high rate of speed. Professor Ambrose teaches at the same low-class college that James goes to and has an obsession with death (it all has to do with something that happened in his past). James is somehow drawn to that mansion, where he passes out on the porch and has a strange dream of a naked, bleeding Sarah lying on the floor while the room fills up with a geyser of blood (most of the bloody visions are taken from the cost-cutting Corman's THE HAUNTING OF MORELLA [1990], which wouldn't be a problem if there wasn't a trailer for that film on this DVD and it shows some of the same images we see in this film!), only to be chased away by a cane-swinging Professor Ambrose, who says that this is his house. The police are investigating the death of Sarah and the lead Inspector on the case, Lt. Ryan (Mike Finn), checks out the room Sarah died in and comments, "We are looking for a man with dirty fingernails." Meanwhile, James' bloody nightmares are now manifesting themselves in the real world, as he wakes up from a nightmare with bloody scratches on his stomach. James watches Sarah's funeral from afar (where he has another strange waking nightmare), where he notices a sickly-looking Professor Ambrose sitting in the graveyard. James tells Professor Ambrose that he is being haunted by the spirit of a dead woman and he believes the Professor is experiencing something similar, too. Professor Ambrose tells James to meet him at his study tomorrow night and not to breathe a word about it to anyone (rumors from some of James' college friends believe Professor Ambrose left teaching at the exclusive Harvard University and took a low-paying job at their meager college because he murdered someone in his past). At the study, Professor Ambrose tells James at one time he was married and he and his wife had a happy life in the mansion that James is drawn to. His wife got pregnant and died at childbirth, leaving the Professor to take care of his daughter on his own. He and his daughter made a pact with each other to look out for one another for all time. Years pass and Professor Ambrose comes home early after giving a lecture at Harvard, finding his daughter Lucy (Claudia Christian; THE HIDDEN - 1987) kissing and getting ready to make love to a man the Professor never met before. When Lucy tells her father that they are going to get married, Professor Ambrose reminds Lucy of the pact they made and tells her intended husband that if he ever sees him again, he will destroy the man's reputation (and, back then, he had the power to do so). He also tells Lucy that she is dead to him now and storms out of the mansion. A few weeks later, Professor Ambrose comes to his senses and returns to the mansion, only to find a note written by the intended husband saying that Lucy slipped into a coma and died. From that day on, Professor Ambrose became a broken man. He also became a haunted one, too. Lt. Ryan is getting closer to the truth in Sarah's death and James increasingly sees the ghostly Sarah as she creepily asks him to join her in the Netherworld. Professor Ambrose tells James in the cemetery that one night while he was sleeping at the mansion, he was awoken by something or someone scratching at his bedroom door. Just as he puts the chain on the door, a female hand comes thrusting through the opening. The apparition of Lucy appears that same night and tries to strangle Professor Ambrose while he sleeps, so he decides to sell the mansion. Every time a potential buyer comes to look at the mansion, the spirit of Lucy scares them away. One night, Lucy's ghost appears to her father and tells him to leave the house to her. She will be the tenant and gives him a bag of coins. There was one condition attached: Professor Ambrose must return to the mansion every week to pick up the rent and drink a glass of wine (something he refused to do when Lucy announced she was getting married). Professor Ambrose tells James that none of the coins are dated later than his daughter's death. He survives on this ghostly rental (the job at the college pays but a mere pittance), but the line between dream and reality have eroded for him (he also seems to get sicker by the day and coughs a lot). James wants to go with Professor Ambrose on his next rent pickup, but the Professor refuses and tells him to go out and live his life (James has never told Ambrose that he was responsible for Sarah's death). Professor Ambrose leaves the cemetery, telling James not to follow him, but James sees Sarah's ghost (there is blood coming out of her eyes and mouth) and decides that he must break his promise to the Professor, if not only for him to keep his sanity. Lt. Ryan finds the back alley abortionist and arrests him, but he is able to point out James walking down the street as the person who brought Sarah to him and a footchase commences. James and an officer tussle, but James gets away, losing his sketchpad in the process. James hides-out at friend Fletcher's (Jason Cottle) house, but the nightmares won't stop, as Sarah keeps haunting him (this time he sees her stab him in the back and we get a fleeting glimpse of James' innards spilling out his stomach). Lt. Ryan is able to locate Professor Ambrose (who is now at the point of death) through the drawings in James' sketchpad, which leads Lt. Ryan to Fletcher's house. James is able to escape through a window and a severely ill Ambrose picks up James off the streets and brings him to his home. A dying Ambrose tells James that finally telling his story to someone has released him of his otherworldly torments and he will now die in peace. James believes the only way to redeem himself is to go to the mansion and give himself to Sarah, but once he gets to the mansion, what he discovers is nothing he expected. It seems that Lucy was never dead. She was tormenting her father for breaking up her wedding and was slowly poisoning him with small doses of arsenic in the glasses of wine he was drinking every week when he picked up the rent. James drinks the glass of wine (Lucy tells him that this was to be the final glass of wine for her father, as she added a lethal dose of arsenic in it) and is the captured by the police and thrown in prison. It what turns out to be the film's most ironic scene, the back alley abortionist is his next cellmate and volunteers to look at a very ill James. The abortionist tells Lt. Ryan that James will have to wait for the poison to leave his system because to induce vomiting will kill him (he then has a hearty laugh at James' expense). Lucy goes to visit her father at his home, only to discover he has died. As Lucy is sitting on the stairs of the mansion (the very same place James and Sarah made love in the beginning of the film), she hears her father's ghostly voice and the mansion explodes (Talk about retribution!). James (who has black gunk dribbling out of his mouth) dies in his straw-strewn prison cell, his last words being "Forgive me.", as the abortionist wails away in the next cell. It seems that sometimes being alive is much worse than death itself (but don't tell Catholics that!).  This is a tidy little supernatural tale that does manage to send some shivers up and down your spine. Michael York (THE OMEGA CODE - 1999) is fantastic as the tortured soul who believes that he is being haunted from beyond the grave when, in fact, it is simply an act of living revenge. I believe it is some of the best acting he has done in any film he has appeared in. I can honestly say I wasn't surprised by the ending because the death of Lucy is tossed off as an aside and we never see her body or funeral, just the letter Professor Ambrose finds on the fireplace mantle. This is one of two of Roger Corman's Ireland-filmed movies to take place in the United States because Mitch Marcus finished the last film early, so Marcus and co-screenwriter Lev L. Spiro (using the pseudonym "L.L. Shapira", who wrote the screenplay to Corman's non-supernatural Ireland-lensed THE GAME OF DEATH [2000], an adaptation of Robert Lewis Stevenson's "The Suicide Club", who also directed the rather gory sci-fi comedy WELCOME TO PLANET EARTH [1997] and plenty of A-List TV series) whipped up a quick script and filmed this one in less than two weeks (using much of the gore and nudity shots from previous Corman films, like the one I mentioned above). Like the other three previously-mentioned made-in-Ireland haunted house films, these are rather good Corman productions and better than most of Corman's output during that time (All four films use the same mansion in County Galway, Ireland). It could be because of the beautiful Irish scenery (this is the only one of the four that is a period film), but it is Michael York that makes this film worth watching. THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE is only available on DVD in fullscreen, so some company like Code Red should pick-up all of Corman's Ireland films and release them in widescreen. They are all well-made films that would benefit even more if they were shown in their original aspect ratio. They may be B-Films, but they are highly enjoyable and good for a few scares. Also starring Brian Glanney, Ciaran Davies, Colm Lydon, Daniel Rosen, Fred McCluskey, Maeve O'Regan and director Marcus as a Professor towards the end of the film. A New Concorde VHS & DVD Release. Rated R.

HAUNTS (1975) - Ingrid (May Britt, who used to be married to Sammy Davis Jr.) is being stalked by a mysterious maniac wearing a black ski mask and gloves. The killer has already struck once, raping and killing a local girl by cutting her up with a pair of scissors. Her Uncle Carl (Cameron Mitchell) has a hard time believing Ingrid since she has a history of accusing men of rape since she was sexually abused as a little girl. Even the alcoholic Sheriff (Aldo Ray) has his doubts about her claims. More women end up getting murdered by the scissor-weilding psycho, with one of the bodies being dumped at Ingrid's farm, left as chicken food for the chickens. The list of suspects is large: Frankie (William Gray Espy), the local delivery boy who's a real horndog; Uncle Carl, whose appearance in town coincides with the murders; Bill Spry (Robert Hippard), the new guy in town who happens to be in Ingrid's church choir; the Sheriff, who takes his time in coming to Ingrid's rescue; and Ingrid herself, who cannot stand the touch of a man and who's religious convictions are on the obsessive side. Are Ingrid's attacks real or in her imagination? Was she raped by Frankie while she was taking a shower or was that a fantasy? When Bill Spry is shot dead after trying to rape a girl, everyone in the town, except Ingrid, thinks the killer has been silenced. She kills Frankie after he tries to rape her again and Uncle Carl buries him in the back yard. Or did she and does he? It turns out Ingrid is a total loon as Frankie is alive, the police find her favorite goat buried in the back yard and her Uncle Carl has never lived with her. She commits suicide by slitting her wrists in the bathtub, the same thing her mother did years before. An autopsy reveals that Ingrid died a virgin and all of the memories that she had of being sexually abused as a child were all in her head. When Uncle Carl comes to town to claim the body, he tells the Sheriff Ingrid's sad history. Flashbacks at the end reveal that Uncle Carl is not an innocent party in Ingrid's life. Director Herb Freed, who also made the horror films BEYOND EVIL - 1980, GRADUATION DAY - 1981 and SURVIVAL GAME - 1987 (who quit filmmaking in the early-2000's to return to his first profession as a rabbi!), moves this film at a leisurely pace and most fans of horror will find that it moves far too slow. As a study of an unstable mind and the things it takes to trigger the insanity, it hit its' mark. As a horror film, it doesn't get too bloody and, as I have mentioned before, it crawls at a snail's pace. You make up your mind if you want to see it. A Media Home Entertainment VHS Release, with a budget VHS release by Video Treasures a few years later. Rated R.

HAYRIDE (2013) - In Mobile, Alabama (filmed on location), the police surround an abandoned building. When the S.W.A.T. team enters, they find the rotting remains of six young girls, their bodies so badly decomposed, it will take a coroner to identify them. A serial killer named Guffin (Shannon Box) is chasing girl #7 in the adjoining woods and he kills her before the police arrest him. He's a brooding, overweight man whose stare could melt ice. The last time we see him (for the moment), he is in the back of a police car being transported to a penitentiary. We then see a young couple, Steven (Jeremy D. Ivy) and Amanda (Sherri Eakin; EARTHRISE - 2014) at a barbecue joint talking about making the long ride to participate in Steven's Uncle Morgan's (Richard Tyson; FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: OUTBREAK ON A PLANE - 2006; a character actor I have admired since the 1980's) annual Halloween Hayride, where characters such as "Pitchfork" and "Rawhead Bloodybones" run out of the darkness and scare the crap out of the people on the hayride. There is also a stop in the middle of the ride, where all the paying customers take a scary tour through a terror-filled barn. We are then at a crime scene on the side of the road, where there is a dead police officer in his car, an unknown male dead in the bushes nearby and Guffin, the serial killer, has escaped. Detective Loomis (Corlandos Scott; his screen name is probably a tribute to Donald Pleasence in HALLOWEEN - 1978), the lead detective on the case, says no one really knows Guffin, except he is "bat-shit crazy" and his next move would be to find clothes so he can discard his bright orange jumpsuit. Since neither of the two dead men are Guffin's large size, chances are he will be traveling to the nearest farm to try and find clothing. It looks like if they don't catch this murderous bastard, there just may be a new Pitchfork for the Hayride this year (You may think you know what is going to happen, but most of you would be wrong). Steven takes Amanda to meet Uncle Morgan, but first Steven runs into cousin Corey (Jeremy Sande; UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING - 2012), who is glad to see Steven back in town, but they always make fun of each other (Corey gets the last licks in by calling Steven a "dick" and then driving off in his truck). Uncle Morgan is a womanizing letch (he has two women with him; one called "Beautiful" [Kara Riann Brown] and one called "Dumb" [Kelly Houk]), but he is also a very good guy who cares about the quality of the Halloween Hayride to make sure that people get their money's worth (He jokingly hits on Amanda, but pulls Steven aside and tells him not to let this one go. She seems like a keeper. Steven agrees.). A short distance away, Guffin steals some rope from the back of a truck and kills the driver (off-screen) with a sledgehammer. Around a campfire that night, Steven asks Uncle Morgan who is playing Pitchfork this year (Morgan retired "Rawhead Bloodybones" from the hayride when his grandfather passed away, since he was the one who created and played him), but since Steven is just a paying customer this year (but he is still family and helps all he can before the hayride commences), Morgan won't tell him. Morgan relays a story to everyone (in a really bad flashback technique) that Pitchfork was once an actual person. He was a farmer named R.W. Rayborn (Wayne Dean), who always carried a pitchfork with him whenever his beautiful daughter was with him to keep all the young men away from her. Morgan believes Pitchfork murdered his wife (with a meat cleaver) for letting his daughter run away with a young man. Since Pitchfork doesn't know who the young man is, he goes from farm to farm killing everyone in his path, both man and woman, leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake. Morgan believes that Pitchfork never found his daughter or the young man and then Corey comes jumping out of the darkness carrying a pitchfork, scaring the shit out of everyone around the campfire. Morgan says that the story of Pitchfork is still true. The night before the Halloween Hayride, it rains like hell, destroying a lot of the props outside, but Morgan is an optimist and his unending drive to rebuild everything is infectious, so everyone (including Amanda) chips in to restore the hayride's attractions to their former state. Two police officers are doing a house-to-house search for Guffin and they check out an abandoned house, only to be run through and chopped-up with a machete by someone dressed like Pitchfork. The Halloween Hayride begins and Morgan only has one rule: Make the first couple of rides children-friendly so they don't go home scared shitless (this man really cares about his customers), but go balls-to-the-wall on all the rides after that. But I highly doubt that Morgan meant that in the literal sense. Pretty soon, Pitchfork is using his favorite weapon to start dispatching some of the hayride riders. Detective Loomis and Deputy Wincer (Randy Hicks) show up at the hayride and Wincer tells Loomis that the legend of Pitchfork is real (most legends are based on true events that are over-amplified, except this one). By the time they get to the hayride, half of the workers left or are dead and a S.W.A.T. team finds the remains of the two police officers in the abandoned house, so Loomis and Wincer go there. As more and more people end up dead (and hidden), Morgan wants to put on the last hayride for the night, but he is short-handed, so Amanda volunteers to portray the victim that gets pulled off the cart by the resident psycho. By now, Pitchfork is killing people out in the open, because the audience (many of them drunk) think that it is part of the show. When Steven accidentally knocks himself out in the woods and comes to, he discovers a dead body and races to save Amanda on the hayride. Pitchfork plants an axe in the skull of a Jason Voorhees-wannabe and then attacks everyone on the hayride with a chainsaw (and killing a few), Morgan intervenes and tries to keep Pitchfork busy with a machete. It doesn't last long, as Pitchfork thrusts the chainsaw into Morgan's body and kidnaps Amanda (it will make sense in a little while). A couple of days earlier, Morgan complained that someone stole all his bear traps and we now see them in use, as the survivors of the hayride run into the woods and have their legs caught in bear traps or killed with other booby-traps. Steven makes it to the hayride a little too late, where he finds his Uncle Morgan dead and severed body parts littering the hayride carts, so he grabs a machete and goes out to save Amanda and get a little payback, to boot. He finds Amanda tied-up in the Terror Barn, the hayride's midway-through walk-through horror maze, and gets into a fight with Pitchfork. Both an untied Amanda and Steven are still trapped in the barn's maze (Pitchfork sees a fake arm come out of a wall to scare customers, pulls it out and throws it to the floor). Pitchfork runs his favorite weapon through one of Steven's hands, but Steven manages to get away and runs outside. Amanda is now being chased by Pitchfork, but he is impaled in the stomach by a broken handle of a pitchfork sticking out of the ground. He pulls himself off the handle and moves closer and closer to Steven and Amanda, but he falls to the ground just before he gets to them. Amanda then tells Steven she is pregnant (Really? This is the right time to make such an announcement?) and Corey comes jumping out of the darkness telling the couple that everyone is dead (a little late bonehead!). Detective Loomis, Deputy Wincer and the police force finally show up, where at least a dozen people are dead and dozens injured (Thankfully, bear traps don't kill unless you fall face-first into one of them). When Loomis and Wincer pull the burlap bag off of Pitchfork's face, it turns out to be R.W. Rayborn (Who we see in flashback kill serial killer Guffin for being in his barn. Imagine that; a serial killer being killed by another serial killer.). Wincer asks Loomis, "Is he dead?"  to which Loomis replies, "No!" (Amanda reminded Rayborn of his daughter). Start the end credits, but stick through to the end for two small stingers which sets up the basis for the 2015 sequel HAYRIDE 2, which contains some of the same characters in this film (Steven, Amanda, Corey, Detective Loomis, Pitchfork, all played by the same actors here and made by the same director/screenwriter) and borrows a lot of footage from this film (which is why Richard Tyson is listed as being in the cast). Only this time Pitchfork is a bigot, too (look for clues in this film when the two police officers check out the abandoned house) This is enjoyable for what it is, but totally predictable, especially to fans of slasher films. I guessed that Guffin wasn't Pitchfork halfway through the film and most slasher fanatics probably did, too. The always dependable Richard Tyson (THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO'S POND - 2009) throws himself into the role even though it is obvious this was a low-budget film that was going directly to DVD and streaming. He's a dog in this film when it comes to women, but family is his top priority, proving so by paying tribute to his grandfather by taking "Rawhead Bloodybones" out of the hayride because his grandfather portrayed him. This is director/producer/screenwriter Terron R. Parsons' first full-length film and the sequel is his second. While this film gets generally favorable reviews (Hint: Never read the reviews on IMDb because you will probably not watch any film, ever), the sequel doesn't fare too well because too much footage from this film is cribbed. You can tell most of the actors are local, because they have that Alabama twang which just sounds like poetry to people like myself and makes the film more realistic. Besides the awful flashback technique used to tell Pitchfork's origin, the technical aspects are good. So just put your brain in neutral and go along for the bloody hayride. Oh yes, there will be blood! Also starring Josh Nelson, Jessica Blevins, Mitch Bryars Jr., Dustin Hicks, Brandon Wright, Tiffany Parsons Rezner, Pam Kelly, Christopher Howell and Armand J. Cambell Jr. & Mark Tunstell as the two unfortunate machete cops. A Midnight Releasing DVD Release. Not Rated.

HAZARD JACK (2013) - In slasher films, there is usually no boundary that you can't cross, but I take exception to this one because the villain is a returning soldier from Afghanistan suffering from PTSD. I know our government and the Veterans Administration treat many of our returning soldiers with emotional problems or war-caused brain damage as disposable goods (which is why we have private charities like the Wounded Warrior Project, of which I am a proud member), but to make one a ruthless killer for the sake of showing some "social relevance" is a slap in the face to every soldier that returned home after putting their lives on the line for our safety. It's just irresponsible. I consider HAZARD JACK the filmic equivalent of the Veterans Administration. In other words, it pretends to care about soldiers coming home emotionally scarred, but all it really does is exploit them. The film begins with our faceless killer (he wears a hard hat with a tinted plastic visor over his face or the camera makes sure that his face is not shown (probably because he was played by two muscular stuntmen, Quincy Taylor and Will Harris) torturing a girl at the decade-abandoned Railroad Hospital, her screams heard by a neighbor who calls the security dispatcher to report it. He sends a guard to go check out the hospital, but Jack ends up running a drill bit through his head with a portable drill (at least I think it was his head since he dies so quickly). After the opening credits (which are full of Jack's nightmarish visions of being in Afghanistan and losing his girlfriend back home), Jack is called into the office of his boss (Joe Orrach), who runs a construction company, and he chastizes Jack for his violent outbursts while paying him lip service about appreciating him serving our country (The boss says, "My son has done two tours himself!", but he has no idea what psychological damage that war has done to many soldiers). While the boss is talking, all we see is Jack's hand clenching tighter and tighter, because he knows what is about to come. He fires Jack (he calls him "James") on the spot and denotes that old standby since 9-11: Zero Tolerance. The idiotic boss tells Jack that he needs to get some help (without a job or health insurance?) and stupidly extends his hand like Jack would shake it (Would you?). Jack leaves the office before he does something stupid. We are then introduced to a group of obnoxious college students (Wait until you get a gander of the oversized eyeglasses dyke Stella [Alison Lani] wears. She couldn't be more of a charicature if she tried!), as they plan on using the abandoned Railroad Hospital as the site of their annual paintball "Capture The Flag" wargame. Randall (Josh Jacques) says, "We don't go looking for trouble!", while his best friend Kyle (Zachary Meyer) finishes, "But it always seems to find us!" I don't think they will be equipped to handle the trouble they will soon walk into. Of course, the good girl, Bridget (Amanda Maddox), has a secret she is harboring from boyfriend Dillon (Macauley Gray) and she is the spitting image of the girl who dumped Jack (How's that for the king of coincidences?). When Jack sees Bridget entering the hospital, he loses it and drags another unknown girl by her leg while she screams bloody murder. He takes her into a basement room and impales her stomach with a jackhammer (as blood and gore splatters against the wall and the camera lens). Our partying group doesn't hear a thing (I mean a loud jackhammer? C'mon now!). Before these stupid college kids start their wargame, they get drunk, high, have sex and Randall & Kyle play a game of strip paintball with bimbos Muffy (Ashley Walsh) and Barbie (Deanna Meske), where the girls show off their silicon boob jobs and the guys show their naked asses (something for everyone). As Jack has some more Afghanistan flashbacks, he chops his latest female victim into pieces with a meat cleaver (off-screen). To add cliché after cliché, cell phones don't work in the abandoned hospital, so some of the students go exploring the dark hallways with flashlights, where nerd Earl (Kevin Sporman) and Dillon are nearly killed by Jack, but don't even know it. All the college kids gather together and pick sides for the two teams and plan on starting their wargame at Midnight (They don't even wear protective gear like a vest or goggles. Anyone who has played paintball knows that if you get hit in an unprotected area, it stings like a motherfucker and leaves a nasty welt.). Bridget, who has been moody since she arrived at the hospital, finally tells Dillon that she is pregnant, but instead of breaking up with her (like she thought he would), he is overjoyed and tells her that they will make great parents. Before you can say "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.", our killer decapitates both Randall and Muffy with a meat cleaver while they are having sex (This is the first sight of actual physical gore, as the headless bodies still thrust away at each other!) and Jack walks away with their heads in his hands. Jack then uses a nailgun to pin Kyle's hands to a wall before he delivers a nail right between his eyes and he drags a screaming Barbie away. The rest of the college kids hear her screams and, instead of staying together while they investigate, they break off into groups of two (just like every other stupid slasher film). It turns out that Stella is not a dyke at all, as she makes love to nerd Earl. Amateur filmmaker LaDanian (Jason O'Neil Hudson) is the next victim, as Jack runs a drillbit through a door and it impales LaDanian's back and comes out his stomach. The pregnant Bridget leaves a sleeping Dillon and does some investigating herself, where she sees a pack of rats feeding on what looks like the remains of a cat and then a dismembered human hand lying on the floor. She screams and tries to go running back to Dillon. Gay couple Ricky (David Rivera) and Mendel (Jeremy Ebenstein) run into Jack, who throws Barbie's decapitated head at them and then throws an axe, which lands in the middle of Mendel's face (a really nasty scene). Briget can't find Dillon, but Jack finds her, knocking her out. In a WTF?!? moment, we then see Bridget running away from Jack (I got the feeling that the filmmakers forget to film a scene explaining how she was knocked out and then is shown running away). She hides in a hole in a wall, but Jack finds her and ties her to a boiler pipe in the basement. She calls Jack a "coward" and dares him to take off his helmet, but all he does is lift his visor a little to show us his chin and mouth, and he walks away without touching her (I was hoping that Bridget was actually the girl that dumped Jack when he returned from Afghanistan, but this film doesn't have those lofty ambitions). Ricky makes it to the hospital's chapel and starts to pray, only for Jack to appear and burn him to a crisp with a flame-thrower (In the immortal words of the despicable late Fred Phelps and his Westboro Church: "God hates fags."). Dillon, Earl and Stella finally wake up from their naps (the fact that they were sleeping at all is beyond belief) and go searching for the missing Bridget, paintguns in hand as if those weapons will stop the menace. Earl and Stella make it outside, only to discover all the cars had the wires pulled from under the hood and the main gate is padlocked. They are trapped in the hospital or, as Earl says, "It's too late. We are trapped in our own game!" (or, they could have acted like normal human beings by climbing the fence and alerting the proper authorities). Dillon goes out looking on his own (not one slasher film cliché is overlooked) and finds a room full of his friends' decapitated heads (It's obvious that holes were cut in cardboard boxes for the actors to stick their heads through. Hell, if you look close enough, you will see some of the heads move!). Dillon finds Bridget tied to a table (after we are earlier led to believe that she was escaping her bonds in the boiler room), but Jack comes after him with a portable circular saw after his drill's battery runs out of juice. After cutting Dillon a couple of times with the saw, Earl and Stella enter the room and push Jack into some acetylene cylinders with a metal cart. His saw causes a spark which sets off the tanks and an explosion occurs (cue the CGI explosion!). They all save Bridget and Dillon fixes one of the cars. They crash through the gate, but like all lousy slasher flicks, we see Jack crawl out of the smoke-filled room to walk the streets once again, hoping this film will be successful enough for a sequel (God, I hope not!). The closing credits try to keeps this awful film socially relevant by showing the homeless living on the streets (while some sappy ballad plays on the soundtrack) and then give us an on-screen definition of PTSD, which insults soldiers who suffer from it like no other film I have ever seen. Have they no shame?  It should come as no surprise that this film was directed and co-written by David Worth, who was cinematographer on the classic sleaze film POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1973) and then in 1978 re-edited the film, taking out all the sex and violence, replacing it with outtakes, giving Eddie a happy ending and calling it HEARTBREAK MOTEL (The VHS cover art even had the audacity to show Shelly Winters holding Eddie's shotgunned body, even though that scene is nowhere to be found in this version!). Worth also directed the post-nuke film WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD (1983; best known for the talking motorcycle that says such things as "Bad mothers!", "Whoopie!" and "Dickheads! Dickheads!"), the Jean-Claude Van Damme-starrer KICKBOXER (1989), the Cynthia Rothrock action films LADY DRAGON (1992) and LADY DRAGON 2 (1993), THE PROPHET'S GAME (2000), SHARK ATTACK 2 (2000), SHARK ATTACK 3: MEGALODON (2002; with one of the funniest improvised lines of dialogue in a horror film) and many many more. While there is plenty of nudity, simulated sex (lots of oral sex for some reason) and bloody gore, this is the type of slasher film that no matter how fast a victim runs away, the lumbering killer always catches up and dispatches them. This is like hundreds of DTV slasher films, except for making the main protagonist a soldier who returned home after serving his country a broken man. That premise just left a bad taste in my mouth and if you know someone that served in the military, it's bound to leave a bad taste in your mouth, too. Besides the usual cast of clichéd characters (the nerd, the lesbian, the gay couple, the bimbo airheads, the muscleheads, the amateur filmmaker who name-drops other horror films and his horny girlfriend, and the good girl and guy), there are some interesting kills in the film (especially the two headless corpses still having sex), most of them using practical effects, and the cast, for the most part, does the best they can with their underwritten characters. There are plenty of plot holes in the film (especially Bridget being knocked out and then being seen running away), which would account for the film's short 81 minute running time. David Worth was also cinematographer here (although in the end credits, it lists "Mark Lester" [not that Mark Lester] as Director of Photography), which accounts for the film looking so good (he shot the Clint Eastwood film ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN - 1980) and he also directed and photographed porn films under the pseudonym "Sven Conrad". Producer Sheldon Silverstein also produced and co-wrote the Halloween-themed slasher film THE PUMPKIN KARVER (2006). This is the usual bloody slasher film with an undesirable premise. Also starring Aimee Bello as LaDanian's girlfriend Lana (who shows her breasts as much as possible; she is killed off-screen, just like Barbie), Coco Walker, Shaun Hart, Matthew Plueger and Eden James. A Horizons Movies DVD Release (which is a sublabel distributed by Kino Lorber). Not Rated.

HAZMAT (2013) - When I discovered that director/producer/screenwriter Lou Simon (THE AWAKENED - 2012; AGORAPHOBIA - 2015) was actually a woman, truth be told, I was taken aback a little bit. Not because this is a bad film, but because there is not one bit of feminism in this slasher film. As a matter of fact, two of the main actresses' characters are real pain in the asses. The film opens with two young women trapped in a hotel with a psycho chasing them. One of the girls stabs the psycho and he shoots her dead. The psycho points the gun at the other woman and says, "Are you scared?". It all turns out to be a prank played by the dead girl on the living one on a TV show called "Scary Antics" hosted by David (Todd Bruno), also known as "Scary Dave" and their regular psycho player is Tim (Mario Nalini). The show is in trouble of getting cancelled if the ratings don't improve, so David makes the pranks being pulled meaner and meaner, which upsets makeup person/special effects artist Brenda (Aneila McGuinness), who also happens to be in love with David. Their next episode is set up by Adam (Reggie Peters). His friend Jacob (Norbert Velez) is getting weirder and weirder, so much so, that his nickname is now "Creepy Jacob", so David wants to shock him back into reality. Also in on the joke are Carla (Daniela Larez) and Melanie (Gema Galero), who are really doing this for the TV exposure, hoping to turn their appearances into show business jobs (How many real-life reality stars have done the same thing and failed miserably? Some even committing suicide because their dreams didn't come true?). Adam picks an old warehouse, where there was a deadly fire years ago that killed many people and now it is said to be haunted, but it seems Jacob knows everything about it because his father worked there (More on that later.). Something tells me that this practical joke is going to go very, very wrong, especially since most psychiatrists would diagnose Jacob as being emotionally unhinged. The foursome enter the warehouse after David and his crew have set up the internet and hidden cameras (their budget is so low, they are only able to rig the front half of the warehouse, so everything in the back of the warehouse is not covered) and Jacob heads directly for the office, which is the Control Room for David and his team. The walls are thick and a big metal bar slides across the metal door, so it is impossible to get in unless you are let in. If Jacob were strong enough to break down that door, the joke would be blown and the episode scrapped, which would mean certain cancellation, so Adam talks him out of it and they all go exploring. Jacob use to spend a lot of time at the warehouse when he was a kid, so he and Adam go off together, while the two girls are left on their own. Jacob tells Adam that his late father once worked here and he believed the place was haunted. Jacob says his father once saw a man's skin dissolve off his body, but when the police arrived, the man was dead, but he had all his skin (Is it possible that Jacob's father was a murderer?). Adam is disgusted by the story and tells Jacob that he is losing touch with reality before he walks away. Jacob finds a white hazmat suit in a locker and puts it on, which scares the hell out of Adam. You see, Tim is supposed to appear in the very same type of hazmat suit and "kill" Adam. Tim puts on the suit and Adam screams (part of the joke). When Jacob and the two girls find Adam, he is bloody and "dead" (also part of the joke). Jacob and the two girls run in different directions and, so far, the practical joke is going perfectly. Both girls scream in different directions, leaving Jacob to decide which way to go (again, still part of the joke). Tim comes behind Jacob in his white hazmat suit and gets a fire axe planted in his stomach (definitely not part of the joke). David and his crew witness the whole thing from the Control Room and Jacob disappears from the hidden cameras by going to the back of the warehouse. Adam and the two girls have no idea what is going on, so David leaves the Control Room to warn them and to also tell Jacob that this was all a practical joke. It seems Jacob has picked up some of his dead father's bad habits, though, as he kills Adam with the axe to his stomach when he sees he's really alive. Everyone in the Control Room know that everything that happens is now their fault. Jacob, dressed in a bloody white hazmat suit and gasmask, begins destroying all the cameras he can see, which limits what the Control Room can see (Steven [Tom Stedman] says, "I think he knows he's on the show!"). David finds Adam's dead body and is nearly killed by Jacob, but he ducks Jacob's axe swing and barely makes it back to the safety of the Control Room. One of their technicians, Gary (Geordan Deaz), is still outside the Control Room, so David tries to radio him to call the police, but the thick walls and metal door garbles the transmission and Gary makes it to the Control Room (Of course, David made everyone leave their cell phones in the van so there would not be any interruptions). Carla and Melanie discover Tim's dead body and realize the joke is over (but only after kicking his dead body a few times!). Jacob appears behind them and plants the axe in Carla's back, as Melanie runs towards the Control Room. David doesn't want to let her in, but level-headed Brenda opens the door and lets her in just in time. Ed (Dennis Spain), one of the show's techs, returns to the warehouse to pick up the equipment (the show should have been long over), but Jacob pulls him into the building and chops off one of his arms. Ed and Jacob appear at the Control Room door and Ed says Jacob will kill him in 30 seconds if they don't let him in. Needless to say, Ed ends up with an axe blade implanted in his stomach. David and Steven sneak out of the Control Room to find the back door (the map is on Tim's dead body), but Jacob finds them and Steven ends up with the axe planted in his skull. David tells Brenda (via helmet camera) that he loves her and he makes it to the back door, only to be pulled back in by Jacob and we see David's decapitated head fall to the ground. Jacob kicks David's head back into the warehouse and closes the back door. The last three left, Brenda, Gary and Melinda, leave the safety of the Control Room to get out the front door, but Jacob has made it impossible to open. They head back to the Control Room and find another exit on the map. Brenda leaves to see if it is open. Alas, it isn't, so Jacob chases her back to the Control Room, only they aren't able to close the door in time and Jacob gets in. He impales one of Gary's eyes with the pointy end of the fire axe, while Brenda and Melanie run for their lives. Melanie is killed when she has one of her arms cut off while holding hands with Brenda as they are running away and Brenda is choked and lifted off the ground by her neck while Jacob reaches for the axe, which is propped against a wall. The axe falls to the ground and Brenda is able to break free. She is able to make it to the door and outside, but then she is pulled back in and the film ends with the screen turning red.  I could have thought of a better ending with my eyes closed (How about the whole thing was a huge practical joke on Brenda for wanting to leave the network?), but director Lou Simon apparently ran out of ideas with her screenplay (my suggestion would have worked perfectly) and gave us the cop-out ending, leaving it wide open for a sequel, but for a slasher film (also known as HAZARD), it's not that bad. It's a mixture of "found footage" and normal filmmaking, but since all the cameras are basically stationary, it didn't hurt the story (it still had that sickly green night-vision that I hate with a passion). This is slightly above-average for a slasher film, but would have been so much better if Jacob used various weapons, not just an axe. While there is extreme gore on view, some of it goes by so fast that you have to pause the disc (or your streaming service) to see it better. I get the feeling that Ms. Simon was trying to create a new horror icon here and it would have worked if we didn't see his normal human face and if he had above-average powers (although he did a good job lifting Brenda in the air by her throat). It's apparent that Jacob has a few screws loose, but there's nothing here that puts him in the same class as Michael, Jason or Freddy. It works perfectly as a slasher film (using a reality show as a backdrop is old hat by now, though) and it would be interesting to see what direction it would take in a sequel, but give him more than an axe to work with the next time. All technical levels of the film are above-average and so is the acting by a cast of relative unknowns, but it could have been much, much better if Jacob was given more to work with besides an axe. Everyone is talking about the Soska Sisters, but this film is better than most of their films. People should start talking about Lou Simon. Made in Miami, Florida. Also featuring Brandi Rudicil and Massiel Checo as the two women in the beginning of the film. An Uncork'd Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

HEARTSTOPPER (2006) - More Canadian Tax Credit DTV horror crap. Satanic serial killer Jonathan Chambers (James Binkley) is executed in the electric chair and his death is witnessed by Sheriff Berger (Robert Englund, the crowned king of DTV crud), who captured him, and Dr. Hitchens (Michael Cram), whose interest in serial killers goes way beyond what we would consider professional. It's apparent that Chambers' execution is also anything but professional, as the electric chair is struck by lightning (!) and Chambers' face is horribly burned. While Sheriff Berger and Dr. Hitchens are transporting Chambers' body to the local hospital for an autopsy, they hit suicidal teen Sara Wexler (Meredith Henderson), who is sitting in the middle of the road with her back turned to traffic (she's despondent over her fellow students calling her "Slut"!). They put the injured Sara into the same ambulance as Chambers' corpse (really?) and she witnesses his hands move, but she can't get anyone to believe her, including her insensitive mother (Lori Hallier), who seems more disturbed about driving to the hospital during a raging thunderstorm than her daughter's condition (She's a bitch with a capital "C"). While Dr. Hitchens is performing an autopsy on Chambers, he notices a cyst over Chambers' eye that is oozing yellow puss, so he takes a sample for analysis. Unfortunately, Dr. Hitchens will never get the chance, because Chambers comes to life and rips-out the good doctor's heart with his bare hands (his signature move when he was alive). Chambers then stalks the hospital looking for Sara (they have some as-yet unknown bond), killing everyone else who he comes in contact with, including Sara's mother (he sets her face on fire with a cigarette lighter in a laughable CGI effect), Sheriff Berger (who is shocked with a defibrillator, followed by a manual heart removal) and an entire E.R. room full of staff, patients and visitors. Sara, along with fellow student Walter (Nathan Stephenson) and Nurse Grafton (Laura De Carteret), spend the rest of the film trying to avoid Chambers, as the hospital is running on emergency power, the phone lines are down and all the roads are flooded due to the storm. Need I say more?  This ridiculously cheap horror film, directed by Bob Keen (TO CATCH A YETI - 1994; PROTEUS - 1995), who is better known for his effects work than his directorial skills, is a stereotypical stalk 'n' slash horror flick that delivers some decent unrated gore effects (various heart-rippings; a patient having his chest ripped open until his ribs and internal organs are exposed; a scalpel in the eye; a face slashing), but the storyline (screenplay by Vlady Pildysh and Warren P. Sonoda) is generic to the point of being tiresome. The majority of the film is Sara running through the hospital corridors, while Chambers, who may be possessed by the Devil himself (or "Dark Lord" as Chambers calls him), tries to capture her and take over her body (who better than a suicidal teen, right?). This is the type of film where the villain spouts sarcastic remarks while dispatching his victims and everyone else does the most illogical things possible at the most inopportune times just to advance the plot. Most annoying is Nurse Grafton, who at first is understanding and kind to Sara when she is first admitted, but once the shit starts to hit the fan, she turns into a quivering jackass who tells Walter that Sara has "abandoned them" when she is actually risking her life to find blood so she can give Walter a much-needed transfusion. Nothing here makes very much sense and the film just plods along to its inevitable crappy conclusion (ready-made for a sequel). HEARTSTOPPER is the kind of DTV horror dreck that offers nothing new to the genre. No surprises, no suspense and no imagination. Aviod it unless you are just interested in gore. Also starring Scott Gibson, Ted Ludzik, John Bayliss and Wayne Flemming. An Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD Release. Available in R-Rated and Not Rated versions. If you must watch this, need I tell you which version you should pick?

HEEBIE JEEBIES (2012) - Ridiculously horrible creature feature which made its premiere on the SyFy Network (but is not one of their Original Films, even though the streaming print that I viewed on my Roku 3 streaming player has fade-outs to show where commercial breaks should be inserted) that asks more questions than it answers and has the most horrendously-rendered CGI monster I can ever recall seeing. The story is simple: Gold-loving Billy Butler (an over-acting Michael Badalucco; SUMMER OF SAM - 1999) re-opens his ancestor William Butler's gold mine, where in 1840, five Chinese slave labor workers died in a cave-in. A Chinese witch created a "Five Heads Beast" (one head for each of the dead cave-in victims) that haunts the mines, killing anyone who dares look for gold. Back in the modern day, two men sneak into the mine looking for gold, only to set free the lumbering beast, which has fives heads, eats gold, has a stomach full of sharp teeth, emits a paralyzing gas so it can kill its victims easier (usually by turning their heads 360 degrees and ripping the flesh from their faces) and bleeds gold when it is injured! When the creature begins killing the town's citizens, police officer Todd Crane (Robert Belushi, the son of James Belushi and nephew of the late Jim Belushi), who suffers severe headaches and panic attacks whenever he is put in a stressful situation (Which brings up the film's biggest unanswered question: Why would he become a police officer when it is one of the world's most stressful jobs?), Sheriff Tatum (Carl Savering) and town coroner Teresa Lim (Cathy Shim), who is helping Todd cope with his condition using ancient Chinese methods, try to find out just who or what is committing these brutal killings. The first to be killed (after the two illegal miners) is Federal Mine Inspector Eve Moore (Jennifer Rubin; BAD DREAMS - 1988, who is given second billing, but is in the film for less than five minutes), who takes a bribe in gold from Billy Butler to look the other way because he is illegally using explosives, crashes her SUV when she spots the creature and is then killed by the creature, who eats all her ill-gotten gold just before her car blows up (more bad CGI). Todd's sister Veronica (Evie Thompson), her boyfriend (and Sheriff Tatum's son) Mace (Dave Davis), best friend (and Teresa's sister; this is a small town) Tracey (Olivia Ku) and her boyfriend Rick (Tyler Forrest) decide to sneak out to the mine to spend a night drinking beer and having sex, even though Todd tells Veronica to stay inside (He looks after her since the death of their parents) and Tracey's Chinese-speaking mother Zu Mu (Lucille Soong) forbids her to leave the house. The second to die is crotchety old Agnes Whitehead (Marion Ross of HAPPY DAYS [1974 - 1984], who is the best thing about this film), who lets her dog outside to take a shit (She says to her dog, "Pinch it off and come inside!", the comedy highlight of the film) and is attacked by the creature, who kills her and then steals the newly-installed gold fillings in her teeth! While Billy Butler is making one of his many TV commercials (He's one of those "Send me your gold for money" kind of guys), he witnesses the entire commercial crew getting slaughtered by the creature, but he is impervious to the creature's paralyzing gas. When he sees that the creature bleeds gold, Billy comes up with a plan to capture, not kill, it, because (as he explains to the Sheriff, who he has handcuffed to the back seat of his own patrol car) "You don't kill the goose who lays the golden eggs." Todd and Theresa try to save Veronica, Tracey and their boyfriends when Zu Mu (who could speak English all along) tells Todd the history of the mine, but the Sheriff has already sent a party of hunters to track down the creature and kill it. After the creature makes a hasty meal of the hunters, Billy Butler kidnaps Theresa and brings her inside the mine as bait for the creature. Will Todd get over his panic attacks in time to save his love Theresa and the others? What the hell do you think?  This is just plain bad from the first minute. Screenwriter Trent Haaga, who has acted in such films as TERROR FIRMER (1999), DEADLY STINGERS (2003), THE GHOULS (2003) and SUTURES (2009), as well as writing the screenplay to the far-superior DEADGIRL (2008), probably wrote the entire plot of this film on the back of a cocktail napkin, as it is full of stock characters and situations we have seen in hundreds of horror films before it. Director Thomas L. Callaway, a cinematographer by trade (his first film as photographer was the ultra cheap slasher flick BITS AND PIECES [1985] and then went on to film CREEPOZOIDS [1987], DEMON WARRIOR [1987], ACTION U.S.A. [1988], NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW [1995] and many others), doesn't help matters any by making the film move slower than a snail walking across molasses and the carnage, what there is of it, is mainly CGI blood spewing across the screen while the camera shakes wildly (every once in a while we do see practical effects like a human eyeball being squeezed through a chain link fence), only showing us the results of the creature's attacks after the fact (which is mainly bloody faces). The creature itself is the main distraction, though. It's an incredibly phoney-looking combination of mutated heads attached to a body that couldn't possibly move as fast as it does on-screen. When you watch it eating bars of gold, I dare you not to laugh. Do yourself a favor and just take my word for it. There is no reason for you to even bother watching this film unless you are a bad film fanatic. Also starring Kim Collins, Ray Gaspard, H. Daniel Gross and Jimmy Lee Jr. Not to be confused with the 2005 slasher film of the same name. A Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

HELLMASTER (1990) - In 1969, a secret government project called the Nietzche Experiment is being run at a private college by Dr. Jones (John Saxon), where he has invented a superman drug that is supposed to increase psychic abilities of anyone who is injected with it. Unfortunately, it also caused many people to mutate and the many college students injected with it died and Dr. Jones mysteriously disappeared and the whole thing was covered up by the government. Twenty years later, Professor Damon (Robert Dole) restarts the experiments on a new batch of college students. One student, Shelly O'Deane (Amy Raasch), begins to have visions of a mysterious man in the campus chapel. That man is Robert (DAWN OF THE DEAD's [1978] David Emge), a former TV reporter who was covering a story about a mysterious man who was injecting vagrants and street people with a drug called "The Reward", causing them to become deformed and psychotic and all but four of them died. That man turns out to be Dr. Jones (he's been perfecting his serum in secret for the past 20 years) and ever since he injected Robert's wife with the serum to stop Robert from investigating further, he has devoted his life to tracking down Dr. Jones and putting a stop to his experiment once and for all. Robert has tracked him back to the college where it all began. There's also another problem that has come to the college: The four vagrants (which Dr. Jones has adopted as his "family") that survived "The Reward" have arrived at the college in a strange religious-themed school bus and begin killing the students, teachers and workers, including Shelly's brother Adam (Todd Tesen), a campus security guard. Pretty soon, the entire Jones clan, all hideously deformed, begin stalking the campus, killing some people and injecting others with the serum. Kelly and her best friend Jesse (Jeff Rector), a disabled student, try to stay one step ahead of Dr. Jones and his clan. Shelly's psychic abilities come in handy, but they will need Robert's help, too. Armed with a crossbow that shoots undiluted serum (which causes those already infected to dissolve into a pile of goo), Robert works his way through the Jones family tree, while Shelly and her friends try to beat a hasty retreat. It all ends in the campus chapel, the same location where it ended in 1969, as Shelly finds the secret underground tunnels beneath the chapel and faces off with Dr. Jones, who wants Shelly to join his family because of her strong psychic abilities.  I'm still trying to make sense of this totally confusing horror flick. This was supposedly taken out of director/producer/scripter Douglas Schulze's (DARK HEAVEN - 2002) control and re-edited into this version (a "Director's Cut" was eventually released on DVD, which is almost 15 minutes shorter than this version). It's obvious that scenes have been re-shuffled and shown out of order (probably to alleviate the lagging pace), but all it does is increase the "Huh?" factor, as you'll be scratching your head wondering what the hell is going on. There are plenty of decent makeup effects, including face meltings, impalements and the horrendous faces of the entire Jones clan (Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton plays the nun, "Mama Jones"), but the storyline makes very little sense and John Saxon (in what amounts to an extended cameo) overacts terribly while spouting some of the gamiest dialogue your ears will ever hear ("If I can make them, I can make God!"). My favorite line comes from Jesse, when he is chastising a girl who has just seen her boyfriend melt after having a drum of medical waste dumped on him. When she refuses Jesse's advances, he says to her, "My handicap was born. Yours was chosen!" Unbelievable! HELLMASTER is 80% atmosphere (Schulze must be a big Dario Argento fan, as he lights many scenes with bright neon color backgrounds), 20% horror and 100% nonsensical. It's not a complete failure, though, but it could have been so much better if some attention was paid to the screenplay. Nathan J. White (THE CARRIER - 1988) was Executive Producer of this Michigan-lensed film. Also starring Lisa Sheldon Miller, Edward Stevens, Sean Sweeney, Neil Savedes and Suzanne Lablatt. An Action International Pictures Home Video Release. Not Rated.

HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980) - "Why the long face? Is something eating you?" When director Bruno Mattei (here using his frequent "Vincent Dawn" pseudonym) makes a horror film, it either goes one of two ways: 1) It is a balls-to-the-wall gory flick filled with scenes of extreme bloodletting (i.e. RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR - 1983; THE JAIL: THE WOMENS HELL - 2006) or 2) It is a complete borefest that borrows footage and/or ideas from other films (i.e. THE OTHER HELL - 1980; THE TOMB - 2004). Unfortunately, this film falls into the second category, but that doesn't mean you won't find an unintentional laugh here or there or scenes of bloody gore.
     A leak in a facility called "The Hope Center" (an organization whose mission is to feed people in Third World nations) in Papua, New Guinea causes a virus, where anyone or any other living thing turns into a flesh-hungry zombie (I guess eating people would solve the hunger problem!). We see a rat exposed to the virus  tear into the protective gear of a Hope Center employee and eat him from the inside out as the critter crawls out of his stomach. It's not long before everyone at the Hope Center are turned into zombies, as we see the police surround the facility.
     The film then switches to a hostage situation at an American embassy in some unnamed country, where terrorists are holding members of the embassy, asking for money and political prisoners to be freed in exchange for their lives. Enter Lt. Mike London (Robert O'Neil; real name: José Gras; MAD FOXES - 1981) and his SWAT team members, as they try to rescue and free eight American hostages. After slicing a terrorist's throat and gunning down the rest, the mortally wounded head terrorist (Tito Lucchetti) warns Lt. London and his men that they will have to deal with a far deadlier opponent: The living dead, who will kill and eat you (How does he know this? It is just one of many unanswered questions in this film; the timeline is all screwed-up).
     We are then transported to jungles of New Guinea, where anthropoligist and reporter Lia Rousseau (Margit Evelyn Newton; THE FINAL EXECUTIONER - 1983) is fretting over a young boy, who was bitten by one of the infected. They stop at a jungle village to get some fresh water, when they are attacked by zombies. Lia and her documentary cameraman, Mack Osborne (Luis Fonoll), run into Mike and his men (no explanation on why they are there) and rush back to father Pierre (Gaby Renom), whom Lia discovers is being eaten in their Land Rover by his son (!) Mike has one of his men kill the young zombie by shooting him in the head ("These mothers have more lives than a cat!"). Lia hitches a ride with Mike and when he doesn't like the sound of native drums coming from jungle, Lia strips naked, paints her nipples white (!) and goes it alone in the jungle to see what the natives are up to (She lived with the natives for over a year and, like most Italian jungle films from this period, we see the natives butchering a live animal). Lia is able to find out that many of the natives have become infected and there have been many grisly deaths. In footage lifted from THE VALLEY (OBSCURED BY CLOUDS) (1972), we watch a native burial ritual intercut with new footage of Mike and his men being attacked by zombies.
     Mike, Lia and everyone else escape through the jungle, but when Mike's Jeep breaks down, they are forced to take Lia's Land Rover, throwing a year's worth of documentary footage away so  his men can fit in, which leads to an indescribable scene of pure stupidity (you have to see it!). In another scene that screams WTF?!?, SWAT member Zantoro (Frank Garfield; real name: Franco Garofalo; THE EYES BEHIND THE STARS - 1977) non-chalantly walks into the middle of a group of zombies and blows their heads off.
     We are then at the U.N. building, where one representative of New Guinea puts down the United States for allowing this virus to be released in his country (intercut with stock footage that has nothing to do with New Guinea). Lia, Mike and the ragtag group of SWAT members come upon the dilapidated ruins of a jungle mansion, where Mike finds the dead body of an elderly white woman. When he touches her body, a zombie cat bursts out of her stomach and it is not long before the mansion is crawling with zombies. The living dead kill one member of the SWAT team (Zantoro says, "They're eating him like pigs!") and they escape in the Land Rover, but not before Zantoro (who seems to be infected with a form of the virus, which makes him cackle like some idiot) once again walks into the middle of a group of zombies and sets them on fire with a torch (He says to the zombies, "Sorry, guys, it looks like I'm not on the menu!"). Mike makes it to the ocean shore, where he and his SWAT team take a rubber raft to The Hope Center and we learn what his mission is: To kill anyone still left alive so none of this will be made public (it doesn't make any sense, especially if you take the U.N. scene into consideration). Who will be left and what will be left of them? HINT: No one lives, as Lia has her tongue ripped-out by a zombified Zantoro, who then shoves his arm so far up her mouth that her eyes pop out of their sockets! The film ends with the rest of the world hearing the story on an emergency broadcast, but none of them believe it. They soon will, as we witness one unbelieving couple taking a walk in a park, where they are attacked by a horde of zombies. Yes, the virus has escaped from the Third World  and has infected ther rest of the world (at least we don't have to worry about people being starved to death!).
     This boring, yet gory, Italy/Spain co-production can only be enjoyed for its unbelievable dialogue and sound effects. The stock footage shows animals which couldn't possibly live in New Guinea and I dare you not to laugh when they show a flock of flamingos who cackle like turkeys! While most of the actors are dubbed (and it sounds like the dubbing artists, including Ted Rusoff, were having a good time improvising their dialogue, including the line of dialogue that opens this review) it is plain to see that they were speaking English (most of these Italian genre films were shot MOS [without sound]). Made in 1980, but not released until 1983, when it made its Unrated U.S. theatrical debut from Motion Picture marketing (MPM) under the title NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES (which was also the title of the fullscreen, uncut  VHS release from Vestron Video in 1984, released just a few short months after the theatrical showing). This may not be a good film (it is also known under the titles VIRUS and ZOMBIE CREEPING FLESH), but I remember watching this for the first time with my good friend Mike Decker (who now runs Just For The Hell Of It Video) and both of us laughing hysterically at the scenes that were supposed to make us scared. It hasn't changed in 35 years. If you don't have a sense of humor, this will be an insufferable 99 minutes.
     Besides the VHS release, This received an uncut widescreen DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2002, with another DVD release from Blue Underground in 2007. If you want more bang for your buck, Blue Underground also released this on a double feature Blu-Ray in 2014, with Mattei's RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (1983), which, if you have never seen it, is recommended viewing. The disc is full of extras, including an old interview with Mattei, new interviews with stars Newton and Garfield, a poster and stills gallery and the theatrical trailer. Also starring Selan Karay as Swat team member Vincent, Pietro Fumelli, Bruno Boni, Patrizia Costa and Joaquín Blanco as Professor Barrett, the scientist who created this virus as a way to feed the hungry. He succeeded, but not in the way he hoped! Look for cameos from Mattei and producer Claudio Fragasso as SWAT team members at the Embassy siege. Fragasso, who was also a director (MONSTER DOG - 1985; TROLL 2 - 1990), also co-wrote this film's screenplay with J.M. Cunilles (a co-producer of EYEBALL - 1975). Not Rated.

HELLRAISER: DEADER (2003) - This is the 7th installment in the HELLRAISER franchise, filmed back-to-back with HELLRAISER: HELLWORLD (2003) by director Rick Bota, who also directed HELLRAISER: HELLSEEKER (2001). I'm happy to report that this film brings Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his fellow Cenobites back to the forefront (even though their screen time is limited). London Underground magazine reporter Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer; KING OF THE ANTS - 2004) has just completed her multi-part article "How To Be A Crack Whore" for the zine (When we first see her, she is pretending to be a crack addict at a seedy crack house, taking photos on the sly), when her boss Charles Richmond (the unfortunately named Simon Kunz) pulls her in his office and has her watch a videotape he has just received. It shows a secret group called the "Deaders", led by the charismatic Winter (Paul Rhys), bringing a woman name Marla (Georgina Rylance) back to life after she commits suicide by shooting herself in the head. Charles wants Amy to run with the story, but all he has is Marla's address in Bucharest, Romania (where this movie was filmed). Amy heads for Bucharest and goes to Marla's apartment (she slips the superintendent a couple of twenties to let her in), only to find Marla dead in the bathroon, her eyes whiter than snow, insects crawling out of her mouth and a cord tied around her neck. There is an envelope with the words "Help Us" written on it and Marla is holding the dreaded Lament Configuration box in one of her rigored hands. Amy grabs the envelope and the box, only for Marla to seemingly come back to life for a few seconds and scare the shit out of Amy. Back at the hotel, Amy opens the envelope to find a VHS tape and a key. She plays the tape, where Marla tells whomever is watching it to please help her and other members of the Deaders cult and to talk to Joey (Marc Warren), who has commandeered the last subway car on one of the subway lines, because he knows where the Deaders compound is located. Amy also plays with the Lament Configuration box and accidentally opens it. Suddenly, large chains come flying out of the box and wrap themselves around her head and Pinhead appears, telling Amy her soul is now his, but she still has work to do. From that point on, Amy's life becomes a living nightmare, where she is unable to distinguish what is real and what is fantasy (Amy is already a troubled girl, as she frequently has flashbacks to her childhood, where her father constantly beat her with his belt, locked her in a closet and may have even sexually abused her.). She hops on the subway car to meet Joey (the car is quite the sight, as the windows are covered with newspapers and naked women and men gyrate in various sexual positions, some even being tortured). Joey tells her the location of the Deaders compound, but also tells her if she knows what is good for her, she should head back to London immediately (He says to her, "We're all just pieces in Winter's puzzle."). Amy doesn't take his advice and goes to the Deaders compound, only to find the gate chained with a padlock. Remembering the key in the envelope, she uses it to open the padlock to enter the compound. She begins to explore the labyrinth of hallways in the compound, which seem to get tighter and tighter as she progresses (a really atmospheric sequence, with a jump-scare that deals with a lighter and a wall full of bugs), getting so tight, in fact, that she is unable to progress any further. Suddenly an arm with a knife appears behind her and she suddenly wakes up in the same room she saw on the first videotape, with Winter and his followers looking down at her while she lies on a bed. Winters wants her to stab herself so he can bring her back to life, but she refuses, so Winters goes to stab her. She then suddenly wakes up in a mental institution, restrained to a bed with Charles beside her saying that he is working on getting her released. The doctor removes her restraints and she walks around the institution, where a little girl offers to draw her picture. When Amy sees the finished product, half her face is normal and half is monstrously decayed. She then wakes up in her hotel room, where she discovers that she has been stabbed in the back with a butcher knife, the blade protruding from her stomach, but she feels no pain even though she is bleeding profusely (She can't reach the knife to pull it out, so she uses a cabinet door in the bathroon to hold the knife's handle while she pulls away. This sequence is almost too hard to watch.). She then heads back to the subway car to talk to Joey, only to find him and the rest of the crew dead, looking the same way Marla did in her bathroom (If you look closely, you can spot a couple of Cenobites playing with the corpses). In the finale, Amy ends up back in the Deaders' suicide room, with Winter wanting Amy to open the Lament Configuration box. She refuses and throws the box to the floor, where it opens by itself. Pinhead and a couple of Cenobites appear and Pinhead is pissed because Winter is messing around in his territory, taking human souls for himself. Like any good Cenobite, Pinhead has chains with hooks shoot out of the walls  and pierce Winter's body, graphically tearing him apart limb-from-limb. Pinhead has two other huge chains shoot out of the walls to run through the midsections of Winter's followers, leaving large gaping holes in their stomachs before they die. Pinhead then switches his attention to Amy, saying it is now time for her to give him her soul. We then flashback to Amy's childhood and find out that when she was a little girl, she stabbed her father to death for all his abuse. Amy then looks at Pinhead, tells him he will never get her soul and then commits suicide by stabbing herself in the stomach. Pinhead screams, as he and the other Cenobites disappear in a flash of bright light. The film closes with Charles bringing a new wet-behind-the-ears female reporter into his office, telling her he has a tape he wants her to watch. And so, the cycle continues. While not a barn-burner, this film is better than most sequels (most of the HELLRAISER sequels have been better than average, except for maybe HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE [1996], the fourth installment and last film in the series to receive a theatrical release), thanks to plentiful gore supplied by Gary Tunnicliffe (who was also Second Unit Director) and his crew and lots of nudity (Yes, you do get to see Kari Wuhrer topless and she's not that bad!). Director Rick Bota (TV's HARPER'S ISLAND - 2009), a quality cinematographer by trade, does a nice job keeping the atmosphere thick and manages to keep the script, by Neil Marshall Stevens (actually a pseudonym for Benjamin Carr, director/writer of STITCHES - 2001, whose original screenplay had nothing to do with the Hellraiser mythos) and Tim Day (who co-wrote the screenplay to HELLRAISER: HELLSEEKER and was brought in to rewrite the third act of Carr's screenplay, making Winter a descendent of the Lament Configuration box's creator, Lemarchand), moving at a quick pace. As you can probably guess, I'm a fan of this series of films, but that doesn't mean that I'm being too kind when I say that this installment is worth your time. This was the final appearance of Doug Bradley as Pinhead; he was replaced by Stephan Smith Collins in the god-awful HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS (2010), which I will review sometime in the future (hopefully after a lobotomy). The late Stan Winston (PUMPKINHEAD - 1988) was one of the producers of this film, which was made in 2003, but not released on home video until 2005, thanks to financial trouble at Miramax. It is now available as a stand-alone DVD (with no extras, unlike the original DVD release from the now-defunct Dimension Home Video) or part of a multi-pack HELLRAISER sequels Blu-Ray/DVD, both from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, who purchased the entire Miramax horror catalogue. Rated R.

HELLRAISER: HELLSEEKER (2001) - This is the sixth film in the HELLRAISER series and one of the best since the first two. It would even hold it's own if it had nothing to do with the franchise. Trevor (Dean Winters of OZ [1997 - 2003]) and his wife Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) have an accident in their car and it goes off a bridge into the water. Trevor survives and tries to save Kristy as she is trapped in the car but is unsuccessful. Trevor wakes up in a hospital where he has severe headaches and has hallucinations (?) of grotesque images (including graphic surgery on his own brain) and making love to various women who are not his wife. The police are not sure that Trevor is telling the truth since Kirsty's body was never found. Trevor seems to be living a double life as we learn in bits and pieces that all is not quite what it seems. Trevor may have been having trouble with his marriage and may have planned on having her murdered by having her use the puzzle box displayed so prominently in the previous films. Just like a puzzle, Trevor begins to put the pieces together and may not like it when the final piece is put into place. Pinhead (Doug Bradley) make his first appearance to Trevor while he visits an acupuncturist (how appropriate) to help him relieve his head pain. He asks Trevor what he likes more: "The pleasure or the pain?" while shoving a big needle through Trevor's neck. At his apartment, Trevor spots some faceless hulk following him and finds a video camera on a tripod that makes him see Cenobites torturing him live on a monitor. The police are nearly ready to arrest him for the murder of his wife when they find out that he stands to inherit a vast amount of money from her estate (a reference to the first film is made here, since Laurence is playing the same role she did in that film). Trevor keeps alternating between two worlds, both which make no sense to him. When the final coda is revealed it is a doozy, so I will not spoil it for you here. Suffice to say, all the piece of the puzzle fit together quite nicely. Directed with flair by cinematographer Rick Bota, who must have impressed the bigshots at Dimension Films as they hired him to direct two more films for the series: HELLRAISER: DEADER and HELLRAISER: HELLWORLD (both filmed back-to-back in Romania in 2003, to be released in 2005). Pinhead and the Cenobites are used sparingly here, mainly to good effect. There are a few gory scenes, including an icepick to the head, the aforementioned needle through the neck, a suicide by gunshot from the chin through the brain and various Cenobite violence, including the prerequisite chains and hooks. Not bad for a HELLRAISER film and very good as a stand-alone murder/mystery/horror film. Also starring Rachel Hayward, Sarah Jane Redmond, William S. Taylor, Trevor White and Jody Thompson, who all play a vital part in this literate screenplay by Carl Dupre and Tim Day. A Dimension Home Video Release. Rated R. NOTE: Released on DVD & Blu-Ray in HELLRAISER multi-packs by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment when Dimension no longer distributed DVDs (but still using the Dimension name to sell them!). Please stay away from HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS (2010), the newest installment in the franchise, as it is an abomination and they used someone other than Doug Bradley to play Pinhead. Blasphemous!

HELLRAISER: HELLWORLD (2003) - I really wanted to hate this film. I really did, but when all the pieces fell together in the end, I knew that this was more than your typical HELLRAISER sequel (technically, it's the 8th in the franchise). Some thought actually went into the screenplay. A bunch of computer players of the game Hellworld (which uses the Hellraiser mythos as the main story) are invited to a rave at a deserted house by "The Host" (Lance Henriksen) and promises them a night they will not forget. Boy, is he right! People are decapitated, hung on hooks, have their throat sliced and seem to be in another dimension because when the police are called by Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick) and told to look at a certain window of the house to see her, all the cops can see is an empty window. Every once in a while Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Cenobites show up to kill a main character and I'm glad to report that the blood and gore flows rather freely. When the only game players that are left are Chelsea and her semi-boyfriend Jake (Christopher Jacot), The Host plays his hand and tells them that they have been drugged from the beginning and buried alive (with plastic tubing as breathing airholes) with only their cellphones as companions, letting their imaginations, some deft instructions from The Host through the cellphones and Hellworld to destroy themselves. It seems that everyone else that was buried alive are now dead at their own hands (scared to death, asthma, tearing one's throat apart) and only Chelsea and Jake are still buried alive, but alive. Why has The Host done all this? Well, it seems that his son, Adam (Stelian Urian), who invented Hellworld, committed suicide after opening the Lament Configuration box and he blames all the other players, who were his friends, for his son's death (Seems like The Host never even went to his son's funeral.). The police arrive just in time to save Chelsea and Jake, but The Host gets away, hiding out in a roach-infested motel. Inside his briefcase is the Lament Configuration box and he fools around with it. Big mistake. The box opens and Pinhead and his Cenobites appear. One of the Cenobites cuts The Host into three pieces with what looks like a giant axehead attached to a metal chain (one of the film's gory highlights) and The Host appears one more time in the car of Chelsea and Jake to remind them that he will always be with them. I'm not saying that this is a great film, but it is an enjoyable extension of the HELLRAISER franchise, as the two films that came before it, HELLRAISER: INFERNO (2000) and HELLRAISER: HELLSEEKER (2001) could have worked as well without Pinhead and his gang. In this film, the characters are needed to make the film work.  Director Rick Bota, who also made HELLSEEKER, two episodes of HARPER'S ISLAND (2009) and filmed this one back-to-back with HELLRAISER: DEADER (2003, the 7th in the franchise), and screenwriter Carl Dupre (who also wrote HELLSEEKER), offer the usual blood and gore we depend on from the franchise, but also offer plenty of female nudity (something missing from most DTV films) and a literate way to keep the franchise alive by keeping the story modern (cellphones actually work in this film and play an important part in the story) and the denouement quite believable (for a horror film anyway). There are a lot worse ways to spend your nights than giving this film a chance. Filmed in Romania and made in 2003, but not released until 2005 because of financial problems at Miramax. Gary J. Tunnicliffe (the director of the awful WITHIN THE ROCK [1996] did the makeup effects and was also Second Unit Director (as well as playing one of the uncredited Cenobites). Also starring Henry Cavill (BLOOD CREEK - 2008), Khary Payton, Anna Tolputt, Victor McGuire, Magdalena Tun and Snowy Highfield. A Dimension Home Video DVD Release. Also released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment on DVD & Blu-Ray in various compilations. Rated R. NOTE: Please stay away from HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS (2010) and HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT (2016; directed by Tunnicliffe), the newest installment in the franchise, as it is an abomination and they used someone other than Doug Bradley to play Pinhead. Blasphemous!

THE HEREAFTER (1983) - A little-seen horror film from Britain's answer to Ted V. Mikels, the mysterious Michael J. Murphy (INVITATION TO HELL - 1982; BLOODSTREAM - 1985; DEATH RUN - 1987; SKARE - 2009). The film opens with Neville Harmer (Steven Longhurst) trying to make love to his girlfriend Vicky (Catherine Rowlands) by a roaring fireplace, only to be interrupted by the incessant banging of a cane on the wall by Neville's sickly, abusive and wheelchair-bound father, Alfred (Al Greer), who wants to be put to bed. Vicky wonders out loud how much longer Neville will have to endure his father's constant maltreatments (When Neville carries his father to bed, the old man quips, "Ooh, you smell nice!") and Neville replies, "He'll be dead soon and we can leave this place for good", to which Vicky replies, "Will we?". Neville's father is filthy rich and lords his fortune over Neville's head, also calling Vicky a "slut" who only stays with him because one day he will be rich. The next day, Neville has had enough of his father's verbal and mental abuse, leaving him in his wheelchair on a rocky road. The brakes give out on the wheelchair and good old Dad rolls off a cliff, lands in a lake and dies. Neville is finally free and believes he can now sell his father's mansion and sawmill business for a million pounds, but at the reading of the will, Daddy gets his revenge by stating that Neville must live in the mansion for at least eleven months of the year or else the mansion and the sawmill will be given to charity. Neville and Vicky get married and move into the mansion and Vicky discovers that the house holds some deadly secrets of its own. There's a room in the mansion that Neville keeps locked and he explains to Vicky that his great-great uncle committed suicide in that room (by flinging himself through the window) after watching his commoner girlfriend being gang-raped and drowned by men hired by his uncle's disapproving father. Neville was accidentally locked in that room as a small child and swears he saw the ghosts of his great-great uncle and his girlfriend, which is why he keeps the room locked. Vicky thinks this is all a steaming pile of bunk, so she orders housekeeper Dorothy (Wendy Young) to open the room. Vicky also throws a costume party and has her friend Sylvia (Yvette Gunter) hold a séance. At the séance, Sylvia becomes possessed by Neville's father and soon Neville begins seeing the rotting corpse of his father at the most inopportune times. The question soon becomes: Is Neville actually seeing ghosts or is someone trying to kill him? If it is the latter, who can it be? Karate-loving groundskeeper Patrick (David Slater)? Housekeeper Dorothy? Devoted wife Sally? Or could it be a combination of any two? When Neville takes a header out the window of the once-locked room and nearly dies and the guilty parties exposed to the audience, a now-paraplegic and wheelchair-bound Neville (Oh, do you see the irony?) plays a cat-and-mouse game with the guilty parties after discovering the treachery, setting a plan into motion that proves deadly for everyone involved.  If you ever had the (dis)pleasure of watching a Michael J. Murphy film (he directed and wrote this one using the pseudonym "Michael Melsack"), you know what to expect here: Static camerawork (with plenty of Dutch angles); extremely cheesy makeup effects (a pickaxe to the eye; the rotting corpse of Neville's father; an arm caught in a bear trap; a bloody stabbing); amateurish acting (Murphy has a stock company of actors, many who appear in most of his films [both Steven Longhurst and Catherine Rowlands also appear in Murphy's BLOODSTREAM]); bad post-synch dubbing; and a droning synthesizer score. That doesn't mean THE HEREAFTER (originally known as QUALEN, since this film was expressly made for export to Spain!) is unwatchable, though. For some reason, Murphy's films have a nasty edge to them and, in this film, that nastiness comes in Neville's revenge once he figures out he is being played for a fool (and eventual murder victim). Watching Neville dragging his lifeless lower half up a flight of stairs and discovering all the evidence he needs to put the guilty parties in prison is about as creepy as it comes, yet instead of turning them into the authorities, he devises a devious plan of retribution that will have your attention to the bitter end, bad acting aside. This is by no means a good film, but it is an interesting no-budget horror flick for non-discriminating genre fans. Besides that, it's as rare as fuck. The only legitimate English language home video release in the entire world was the U.S. VHS tape on the Mogul Communications, Inc. label. Also starring Lindsey Allan, Harry Willowski, Michael Lynch, Marina Lee, Neil Wilkinson and Peter Neal. Not Rated.

HILLSIDE CANNIBALS (2005) - Yes, this is another cheap and boring rip-off from those fine folks at The Asylum, who haven't met a blockbuster film they haven't made a crappy copy of (They prefer you call them "mockbusters", but I prefer the term "barely legal cheap knock-offs"), with titles like H.G. WELLS WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), SNAKES ON A TRAIN (2006), 666: THE CHILD (2006), HALLOWEEN NIGHT (2006), THE DA VINCI TREASURE (2006), PIRATES OF TREASURE ISLAND (2006), AVH: ALIEN VS. HUNTER (2007), INVASION OF THE POD PEOPLE (2007), TRANSMORPHERS (2007), I AM OMEGA (2007), DEATH RACERS (2008), ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE TEMPLE OF SKULLS (2008) and THE DAY THE EARTH STOPPED (2008), usually released to home video mere days ahead of the theatrical release of their big-budget counterparts (with almost the exact same print campaign), in hopes of duping unwary renters and buyers into believing they are getting the real deal. In the case of STOPPED, The Asylum had legal action brought against them from 20th Century Fox (it being released so close to their mega-budget remake of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL [2008]), but once Fox took a look at Asylum's no-budget rip-off, all they could do was laugh and drop the suit. Which brings us back to HILLSIDE CANNIBALS: It is nothing but an insufferably slow knock-off of Alexandre Aja's 2006 remake of Wes Craven's THE HILLS HAVE EYES with the legend of Sawney Bean tossed in for good measure (which was covered much gorier in EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN [2003]). A group of teenage spelunkers go cave exploring in the middle of the California desert, armed only with a bag of marijuana, some bottles of Jagermeister and their raging hormones. It's not long before they are attacked and graphically killed (one of the girls is cut in half and gets to see the lower half of her body dragged away before she dies) by a tribe of mutant cannibals who speak in a thick Irish brogue. It turns out the leader of the cannibals is good old Sawney Bean himself (how he got to California is never explained) and he's been able to keep his clan going by eating wayward people who stray into their territory and occasionally accepting a new member into the fold, like they do with Ben (Tom Nagle), one of the spelunkers. Only Linda (Heather Conforto), Bill's girlfriend, escapes the clutches of the cannibal clan (thanks to an understanding cannibal member), but when she is picked-up by the Sheriff (Louis Graham), he doesn't believe her story and thinks she's high on drugs (not to mention that she's a teenage runaway reported missing by her parents). Linda escapes from the Sheriff (turns out he works in cahoots with the cannibals) and decides to deal with the situation on her own, so she heads back to the caves, rescues Bill and then are both pursued through the desert by the cannibals. Bill is quickly recaptured and tortured (some of his fingers are cut off with a pair of scissors and eaten in front of him), leaving Linda to join forces with Ted (Chriss Anglin), another survivor who witnessed his family being killed by the cannibals and vowed to get revenge. They both go the the caves and...hell, I can't go on with this charade. This film blows so hard, it would make a professional hooker give up her profession. This film doesn't conclude, it just ends, like the filmmakers ran out of film and hoped you didn't notice.  It's films like this that gives tripe a bad name. It's horrendously photographed (some shots are blocked so poorly, heads are cut off at nose level, which leads me to believe that this film was filmed open matte and cropped to look widescreen), badly acted and full of dime store gore effects. This is just a lazy film filled with too many questions and no answers. Even if we take for granted that Sawney Bean somehow made the trip to California unnoticed, when it's revealed that the Sheriff is actually working in conjunction with the cannibal clan (even going as far as to set up road blocks so the cannibals can attack unwary motorists), it just shows how lazy director Leigh Scott (THE BEAST OF BRAY ROAD - 2005; THE HITCHHIKER - 2007) and Steven Bevilacqua (WHEN A KILLER CALLS - 2006; just try to guess what film he's ripping-off here) really are. There's not much to recommend here besides some cheap gore (a face being removed and then worn by one of the cannibals; some throat slittings; flesh eating; various dismemberments), but, again, the laziness factor comes into play by giving the cannibals horribly mutated faces, but leaving the rest of their extremities (like their arms and hands) totally untouched. There's no other excuse for doing something like that except for sheer laziness and shooting with a budget that wouldn't pay for the craft service on the film that "inspired" it. The Asylum has nothing but contempt for their audience, so why bother supporting them by watching these abominations? Do yourself a favor and spend your time more productively, like trimming your nails or cleaning out your ears. All HILLSIDE CANNIBALS will do is bore you to tears. Also starring Frank Pacheco, Erica Roby, Marie Westbrook, Tom Downey, Crystal Napoles, Ella Holden, Katayoun Dara and director Scott as Sawney Bean. An Asylum Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

THE HILLS RUN RED (2009) - Low-budget horror films of the new Millennium are a mixed bag. Most of them rely too much on CGI effects, even on practical makeup effects. They may be saving themselves a few dollars, but CGI still hasn't progressed to the point (at least in my eyes) of replacing good, old-fashioned prosthetics blood and gore and those films that try to do it stick out like a sore thumb. Which is why THE HILLS RUN RED is such a mixed bag. After offering us a truly disgusting sequence over the opening titles, where a young boy mutilates his face with a pair of scissors while an old lady sings "Hush Little Baby" on the soundtrack and the kid then hides his horrendously bloody face behind a Babyface mask, the film then quickly degenerates into a bunch of cheap scares and obvious CGI-enhanced blood and gore. The film informs us that, in 1982, controversial film director Wilson Wyler Concannon (William Sadler; DISTURBING BEHAVIOR - 1998) released his only film, aptly titled THE HILLS RUN RED, and it was quickly pulled from theaters because of its graphic depictions of sadism and murder. All known prints of the film vanished and no cast members were ever located. Over the years, it has become the Holy Grail of film historians, as all that remains of the film is a crudely made trailer and director Concannon was never heard from again. Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrinck; AMUSEMENT - 2007) is obsessed with the film, including the trailer (which we see), so he decides to track down director Concannon. Tyler has found out where Concannon's daughter, Alexa (Sophie Monk), lives, so he, reluctant girlfriend Serina (Janet Montgomery; WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD - 2009) and best friend Lalo (Alex Wyndham), along with Alexa (who is a coke-sniffing, heroin-addicted stripper at a titty bar who tries to give Tyler a lapdance on their first meeting), head-out to the locations where the film was shot in hope of locating Concannon and a copy of the film (But not before Tyler cures Alexa of her heroin addiction and Serina cheats on Tyler by sleeping with Lalo! Yeah, this is a screwed-up bunch.). While Tyler films a documentary of their exploits, Alexa (whose memory is fuzzy, but she believes her father died ten years ago) leads the group to the film's locations and they eventually end up at the film's main location: a house deep in the woods, where Tyler hopes to discover a copy of the film in its attic (Talk about wishful thinking!). What they don't count on is that the film's villain, Babyface, may actually be real (Alexa tells everyone that Babyface was portrayed by a local non-actor who was "slow in the head"). It's not long before the documentary shoot turns into a quest for survival, as Babyface begins his killing spree, infidelities (of all kinds) are exposed and it looks as if someone else is filming the new action and horror for a movie of their own. Care to guess who that can be?  While the film has an interesting premise (I'm a sucker for "lost movie" plots, since I've been on some Holy Grail hunts myself, especially a multi-country hunt for a surviving print of Charles Nizet's VOODOO HEARTBEAT [1972] that would make an interesting novel, encompassing rigged bidding, political intrigue and death threats!), all hope is lost for THE HILLS RUN RED when snippets of the lost film's gory killings (especially one poor girl getting torn in half with the help of barb wire and a tree booby trap) reveals that most of them were achieved with the help of CGI (In 1982? C'mon!). Things go from bad to worse when a bunch of local yokels, led by Sonny (Ewan Bailey), take the foursome captive in the middle of the woods and begin to film their own porno film, with Alexa as the star (we learn later that this was all a ruse), only to be saved by Babyface, who then begins to kill the foursome, beginning with Lalo. Director Dave Parker (his first feature film since 2000's THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING) and screenwriter David J. Schow (LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3 - 1990) make sure they don't miss any horror film clichés here, from a barn full of hanging body parts, Babyface being nearly indestructible and superhuman in strength and a not-very-surprising late reveal that one of the foursome has set-up this whole scenario from the start and has been doing it for years, helping Daddy remake the film over-and-over since 1982. While there is plenty of blood, gore and nudity (Sophie Monk has the finest tits money can buy), THE HILLS RUN RED rings hollow for most of its running time, especially the ridiculous torture porn finale, William Sadler's shameless over-acting and the "surprise" ending (which made me want to kick-in my TV screen). Filmed in Bulgaria, where law states that every citizen must have at least one "v" in his or her name (try reading the closing credits!). Also starring Mike Straub, Joy McBrinn, Hristo Mitzkov and Raicho Vasilev as Babyface. A Warner Premiere DVD Release. Rated R.

HOLLYWOOD MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE (1976) - Christopher Lee appears on screen to give us a brief history of the human soul and how, throughout history, it is able to leave the body and then return. Mr. Lee then goes on to describe evil spirits throughout history. What does this have to do with the rest of the film? Not very much, but it does lend a touch of class to a rather classless film. The film proper opens with occult history teacher Professor Cantrell (James Habif) giving a class to his college students on an evil spirit called Morak, which legend says will do your bidding if you chant his name. When the professor makes student Mason (Larry Justin) look like a fool in front of his classmates, he and three of his buddies decide to teach the professor a lesson (after getting drunk and stoned). Wearing stockings on their heads, they break into the professor's house, where they knock out the professor, savagely stab and kill his daughter, strangle her boyfriend, murder the maid and even kill the dog. The professor sustains a serious head injury and he is paralyzed from the neck down, unable to speak but able to hear everything around him, including a police detective saying to a doctor that they have no idea who murdered his daughter. The professor summons the spirit of Morak from his hospital bed and it's not long before this vengeful spirit dishes out justice to the four punks who broke into the professor's house. At first the spirit infects their dreams, showing them they are about to die horrible deaths. The first one, Sean (Robert Clark), takes a hike in the desert and is savagely slashed to death by a cactus plant, his guts spilled all over his white tee shirt. The second one, Dirk (Doug Senior), is repeatedly impaled in the head by the latch of a car hood, which mysteriously slams itself down over and over on his cranium. The third one, Phil (Bob Mead), has his face burnt off by an exploding fuse box at the movie theater he works at. Mason is saved for last and, as he searches the professor's house for a way to fight the spirit, has his eye ripped out by Morak, who takes physical form (he looks like a bigfoot drop-out). Mason survives, but he lives the rest of his life as a babbling idiot in a padded cell at the local looney bin.  The only way to properly describe this film is CHEAP. It looks like a student film with all it's shakey hand held camerawork (which is surprising because the director of photography was Guerdon Trueblood, who directed the excellent thriller THE CANDY SNATCHERS in 1973), trippy visuals and so-so acting by a cast of unknowns. I'm willing to bet that one-time director Evan Lee had nothing to do with the Christopher Lee wraparound segments. They were probably added by the distribution company to pad out the running time and possibly to increase it's boxoffice potential (believe it or not, this did get a theatrical release). There are some bloody moments and effective visuals on view but, overall, it's just a minor horror film whose history is much more interesting than the actual film itself. Notorious badfilm director Edward D. Wood Jr. makes one of his final on-screen appearances as a photographer and producer/co-writer Ray Atherton went on to produce a string of documentaries, including executive producing the DEATH SCENES series of shockumentaries on VHS and DVD. This film, also known simply as MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE, as well as EVIL FORCE and MORAK, had a brief release in the U.S. on VHS from Catalina Home Video in the mid-80's and then disappeared. You should be able to find a copy on DVD-R from some grey market sellers on the internet if you really must have a copy. Also starring J. Arthur Craig, Alisa Beaton, Pat Nagel and Paul Kelleher and, no, there's not a meatcleaver in sight. Rated R.

HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD (1989) - Hoo, boy. I should have known better seeing that this film was released on VHS by RaeDon Home Entertainment, the short-lived video company that would release anything resembling a film (Even a video of your Aunt Fanny's funeral would qualify) during the late 80's & early 90's, but the masochist in me just had to see (and hear) for myself if this film is as bad as everyone says it is. I'm happy to report it is (Why am I happy? Because I'm out of my fucking mind!). A bunch of would-be actors gather at a house in the middle of the California woods to rehearse various exercises for an acting class. Unfortunately, sixteen years earlier in the same location, a special effects film crew blew up the wrong house for the movie they were working on, killing all eight members of the innocent Glouster family. Yeah, you guessed it. The Glouster clan (who dress like bums and hillbillies) rise from their unmarked graves and begin killing the young actors, as acting coach Vinnie (Al Valletta; RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE - 1982) puts his young thespians through their paces, using the woods for various "acting exercises" with deadly results. On one of those exercises, Vinnie sends all his students out into the woods to find objects that they can interact with in class. While most of the students come back with sticks, pine cones or rocks, Mitch (Joe Balogh: HITCHER IN THE DARK - 1989; MOON STALKER - 1989) comes back with a human skull and some bones, which belong to the deceased Mother Glouster. This even pisses-off the three undead Glouster boys more than usual and they step-up their killing spree, gut-stabbing one guy with a knife and slicing the throat of a girl (both off-screen) as they are making out in the woods. Only Bret (Bobby Johnston; DEMON WIND - 1990) takes any of this seriously and seems to know more than he is letting on. When Vinnie is stabbed to death in his bed (again off-screen) and Mitch is tied to a tree and skinned alive (Mother of god, again off-screen!), Bret and Liz (Francine Lapensee; BORN KILLER - 1989) must find a way to escape the woods while battling the Glouster boys.  Not much happens in this lethargic slasher film, directed and written by James Shyman, who also gave us the equally awful SLASHDANCE the same year and then disappeared into obscurity. HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD is nothing but endless scenes of people talking to each other (or themselves) and countless sequences of the same people (and camera POV shots) walking or running through the woods, infrequently interrupted by some of the lamest murder scenes ever committed to celluloid. Apparently, the special effects budget was non-existent, so we never see any of the actual killings, only the after-effects, which consists of nothing but throwing stage blood on the dead bodies. No gaping, blood-spurting wounds here, folks. The undead Glouster clan is no better; just three guys in flannel shirts, stupid-looking hats or wool caps and plenty of burnt cork and oatmeal rubbed on their faces and hands. They are about as frightening as the hobos and vagabonds you see begging for spare change on street corners. This film is like injecting a syringe containing 20 mg. of valium into your veins: Your eyes will lose focus, your brain will feel like mush and your body will go limp, yet with this film you'll still have to endure 77 minutes of sheer inanity (The film proper is only 66 minutes long, but it is padded with over 11 minutes of silent previously-viewed footage in the finale, while the crappy ear-bleeding title tune endlessly drones on until the final credits roll and the film mercifully ends). Skip the movie and just pop a real Valium instead. You'll thank me later. Someone farting directly in your face after eating ten bean burritos is less torture (and smells better) than watching this turd. Also starring Martie Allyne, Lynn Dee, Ken Denny, Lynne Pirtle, Kent Abrams, Allen Francis, Donna Lynn and George Spellman. A RaeDon Home Video VHS Release. Not available on DVD. Not Rated. Did I forget to mention that this film is also devoid of any nudity? Sacrilegious!

HOME SICK (2007) - When a film opens with a guy asking a multi-pierced dreadlocked white chick, "Can I pee in your mouth?", I think we can all come to the conclusion that we are not about to watch anything Shakespearian. That guy is Ben (Jeff Dylan Graham; DEADLY STINGERS - 2003) and when he leaves the dreadlocked girl in a hotel room to go get a pack of cigarettes (where a Santa hat-wearing cashier tells him, "This is going to be the worst Christmas ever.") and returns a few minutes later, he finds the girl is missing, the bathtub is full of blood and grue and someone wearing black rubber gloves stabs him in the back of the head with a knife (the blade protrudes out of his mouth), causing Ben to suffer a long, agonizing death which ends with him falling into the bathtub. Welcome to HOME SICK, a run-of-the-mill gore flick executive produced by the owners of Synapse Films, a DVD company better known for releasing older (and much better) horror and exploitation fare. The film then switches to earlier in the evening, with Claire (Lindley Evans), Mark (Forrest Pitts) and Robert (Will Akers) visiting the home of Candice (Tiffany Shepis; DETOUR - 2003) and Tim (Matt Lero). Claire has just returned from California and doesn't seem too happy to be back (she's a real downer), as the attempted suicide scars on her wrists bear out. The makeshift party is unexpectedly crashed by Mr. Suitcase (Bill Moseley; BABYSITTER WANTED - 2008), a smiling, bowtie-wearing stranger that no one knows who is carrying a suitcase. He parks himself on the couch and announces, "I am here to give and not receive." He puts on a pair of yellow latex gloves, opens his briefcase and reveals that it is full of loose razorblades. He says that this is a "healing exercise" and asks everyone to give him the name of one person they really hate. Everyone is understandably freaked out, but he forces them to answer. Robert hates his boss. Candice hates her ex-boyfriend (who happens to be Ben, from earlier in the film). Mark hates Matthew (Patrick Engel), a drug dealer. Claire hates Anthony (L.C. Holt). Tim hates "everyone in this fucking room." With each announcement, Mr. Suitcase reaches into his case, picks out a razor and slashes his own arm (the same arm that is holding Candice in a headlock) and we are shown brief flash-forwards of the hated people dying. Just as quick as he enters, Mr. Suitcase then leaves, but not before singing a hobo song and wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas". Since we already saw Ben die a nasty death in the beginning of the film, I guess we can all see where this film is heading. Everyone who the group said they hated begins dying gory deaths at the hands of a black-hooded demon, until we come to Tim's pick: The entire group themselves. Can they find a way to reverse this curse before they all end up dead? After getting to know these people for just five minutes, I hope they all suffer painful deaths. Seems I get my wish, but with one exception.  HOME SICK is merely an excuse to showcase extreme gore in between bouts of bad acting (even the usually reliable Bill Moseley is poor here, sporting a short haircut, over-bleached white teeth and a disinterested manner, like his heart really isn't in it). Director Adam Wingard (POP SKULL - 2007) and co-producer/screenwriter E.L. Katz seem more than happy to copy their killings from other films, including Matthew's death, which is a direct steal from the head stomping/curb killing from AMERICAN HISTORY X (1998). Add to that the fact that the characters are the most unlikable or morose bunch of people you'll ever meet (Candice and Tim are cokeheads; Mark and Robert work in a funeral home; Claire is just a sad excuse for a human being), that when they do die, there's no emotional involvement on the viewer's part (and why do most of them wear dark makeup under their eyes?). As a matter of fact, the group that told Mr. Suitcase who they hate are much worse than those who are hated. I'm a big fan of Tiffany Shepis (who gets her foot sliced in half between her toes with a knife before having her skull caved-in with a ballpeen hammer), but even I was embarrassed for her here (even though she does go topless and pukes on a corpse!), so I was glad when she was killed early on. HOME SICK has plenty of unrated gore for fans of that stuff (including fingernail removal; a body cut in half at the shoulder with an axe; a disembowelment; a gunshot to the head; a chest ripping; a manual beheading; a fist through a skull; a shotgun blast to the head), but it wraps itself around the worst acting (Matt Lero takes top honors for stiffness) and an idiotic storyline where people do and say the most asinine things at the worst possible moments imaginable. Synapse should stick to releasing DVDs, not actually producing films, especially if this is going to be the result. Tom Towles (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES - 2002; also starring Moseley) puts in an extended cameo as Tim's Uncle Johnny (who is actually Tim's father), a gun and chili nut. Also starring Brandon Carroll and Shaina Fewell. A Synapse Films DVD Release. Unrated.

HOME SWEET HOME (1980) - Jay Jones (Jake Steinfeld) has just escaped from a mental institution. He kills a drunk, steals his car, shoots up PCP under his tongue and runs over an old lady carrying groceries (all while the credits roll). He then stalks the home of failed record executive Bradley (producer Don Edmonds), who has an odd assortment of friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. The strangest of all is Bradley's son, Mistake (Peter De Paula), who walks around with white makeup on his face and carries and electric guitar with a portable amp strapped to his back. Mistake is also somewhat a pain in the ass with the guests but is also a loving brother to his little sister Angel (Vinessa Shaw). When Jones cuts off the electricity and phone lines to the house, Bradley leaves to get gas for the generator. Being the cheap bastard that he is, Bradley see Jones' car on the side of the road and siphons gas from the tank. He then tries to steal the battery (!), but Jones jumps on the hood, crushing him dead. After a couple of hours pass and Bradley doesn't return, Wayne (Charles Hoyes) goes looking for him, but Jones is waiting in the back seat of the car and slits Wayne's throat. Jones then kills two female guests, Linda (Sallee Young) and Gail (Leia Naron), by slamming Linda's head against a rock and stabbing Gail repeatedly with a broken bottle. Mistake watches as Jones stabs Maria (Lisa Rodriguez) and then gets electrocuted when Jones attaches two power lines to his head (his guitar lights up like a light sabre!). The only people left alive are Scott (David Mielke), Jennifer (Colette Trygg) and Angel.  They start finding the bodies and think Mistake is responsible. Big mistake. They'll wish it was him when they have to face-off with the hulking Jones. Even with a knife in his back, Jones still stalks his prey. It takes two shotgun blasts from a passing cop to bring him down. Or does it?  This is a typical early 80's slasher flick that is marred by the extremely dark nighttime scenes (which amounts to about 70% of the film), where it is impossible to make out what is going on (the same problem that plagued HUMONGOUS - 1981). Jake ("Body By Jake") Steinfeld hams it up so badly, you half expect bacon to fly off the screen. All he does is laugh hysterically and scream about how "All women are no good. My mother was no good!" I'm sure if more people saw this film, he would have sold a lot less of his exercise gadgets on all those infomercials he hosted on late night TV. Producer/co-star Don Edmonds directed TERROR ON TOUR the same year, but this film was directed by Nettie Pena, whose only other credit was as editor of DRACULA SUCKS (1978). The way this film is structured, it looks as if Mistake will save the day but, the script, by Thomas Bush (who died during production), is just one cop-out after another. Nearly every character is killed without any buildup and the non-ending, where the seemingly dead Jones opens his eyes as the film fades to black, is textbook cop-out 101. Don Edmonds is best remembered for directing the first two ILSA films, as well as TENDER LOVING CARE (1973) and BARE KNUCKLES (1977), all featuring the late George "Buck" Flower. Alex Rebar, the star of THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN (1977), was one of the executive producers. Worth a look only if you need to see every slasher film made in the 80's. Also known as SLASHER IN THE HOUSE and BLOODPARTY. A Media Home Entertainment Release. Not Rated.

HOOD RAT (2001) - Atlanta, Georgia-based urban horror film about a pack of murderous rats terrorizing the city. After watching rat catcher J.D. Mogo (an uncredited Miguel A. Nunez Jr.) being devoured by a pack of hungry rats and then watching Judge Bankhead (Tami Anderson) sentence slumlord Mr. Souilliez (Taurean Blacque; HILL STREET BLUES - 1981-1987) to spend thirty days in one of his worse tenement buildings, we switch to Mr. Souilliez's rent collector, Grady (Ice-T; who got his LAW & ORDER: SVU [1999 - Today] gig shortly after appearing in this film), as he pounds on the doors of tenants and demands the rent money (One of Mr. Souilliez's tricks is to collect the rent money a day before the tenants' welfare checks arrive in the mail. This way he can charge them a late penalty). Some of the tenants include: pretty Nina (A.J. Nelson), whose boyfriend has just left her and taken off with the rent money; burly Satam (Chuck Wiley), who thrusts a huge hunting knife through the door when Grady comes a-knocking; an old couple who can barely afford to survive; a couple of young crackheads; a twenty-something white man who is way out of his element; and the nearly homeless Max (Isaiah Washington; DEAD BIRDS - 2004) and his disabled, wheelchair-bound brother Courtney (Guy Torry), who live in the tenement building's squalid basement for fifty dollars a month. Max, who is a little slow in the head and has a thing for Nina, finds the leader of the rats (a female white rat) caught in a trap and frees it, naming it "Tara" ("a rat" spelled backwards), after jokingly saying he's going to name her Ben (this is basically an urban version of WILLARD - 1971, its sequel BEN - 1972 and was filmed under the title TARA) and they become fast friends. Before you know it, Tara is stealing food out of Mr. Souilliez's apartment and bringing it to a hungry Max and introducing Max to all her rat friends. While Mr. Souilliez learns the hard way about life in the tenements (the screams and gunfire at night; getting cold because the boiler doesn't work; the electricity going on and off), Tara and her rat pack begi