ALABAMA'S GHOST (1972) - When Alabama (Christopher Brooks) accidentally drives a forklift through a wall in the basement of San Francisco's famed Earthquake McGoon's nightclub, he finds a hidden passageway that leads to a room that contains all the possessions of "World's Greatest Magician" Carter The Great (E. Kerrigan Prescott), who mysteriously died years before. Alabama finds a box that contains the address of Granny (Ken Granthan), Carter's "sister". The box also contains some magical herb (called "raw zeta"), which he and Granny smoke in a pot pipe. Alabama is forced to team up with Zoerae (Peggy Browne), Granny's assistant, as he wants to become a master magician using Carter's found possessions. This leads Alabama on a weird journey that includes vampires, robots, voodoo ceremonies, ghosts, rock music, go-go dancers, a disappearing elephant, a biker gang, a disembodied heart and the occasional drooling fanatic. Alabama puts on magic shows at Earthquake McGoon's, billing himself as "Alabama, King Of The Cosmos", to packed houses. He is picked-up by promoter Otto Max (Steven Kent Browne), who tells Alabama, "Surrealism is in. Surrealism is where it's at!" Otto books him on a tour across the United States, where he achieves much acclaim. Things start going wrong for Alabama when one of his female assistants is severely injured while he performs a sword trick (she also has two puncture wounds on her neck). More accidents happen which leads up to the grand finale: A world-wide televised showing of Alabama doing Carter's "disappearing elephant act", which will have dire consequences on anyone who watches it. How it ends: I'll never tell. I've barely scratched the surface on this off-the-wall, rarely-seen supernatural thriller. Director/producer/writer Fredric Hobbs (ROSELAND - 1970; GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS - 1973) has crafted an intricate, multi-layered film which can only be described as one-of-a-kind. Hobbs was way ahead of his time, kind of a David Lynch of the 70's. ALABAMA'S GHOST veers off into many different directions, but never disappoints the viewer. Watch it straight or stoned; it doesn't matter. It's a facinating experience no matter what state you're in.  E. Kerrigan Prescott, Christopher Brooks and Steven Kent Brown have appeared in all three of Hobb's above mentioned films. Also starring Karen Ingentron as Dr. Caligula, Ann Weldon as Mama-bama, Ann Wagner Ward as Marilyn Midnight and Neena the elephant. With special appearances by musical groups The Turk Murphy Jazz Band and The Landing Zone and improvational group The Cockettes.  I've unofficially heard that Hobbs gave up film to become a sculptor after making GODMONSTER. That's filmmaking's loss. This film screams out for a re-release as it is now only available on VHS on the OOP ThrillerVideo label hosted by Elvira, who interrupts the film midway to do some of her shtick. Anchor Bay should do a restoration and release it on DVD so it can get the cult following it deserves. Believe it or not, this film was Rated PG when originally released. This is the strangest PG film you will ever view!

ALIEN BEACH PARTY MASSACRE (1995) - When you see a film with a title like this, your expectations automatically become lower than if you were to, say, watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster or even one of The Asylum's latest "mockbusters". But, when you insert this tape into your VCR and the first thing you see onscreen is "A Gizz Film", you just know that the last remaining brain cells will jump out of your ears, making your cranium ready for the onslaught of awfulness that is ALIEN BEACH PARTY MASSACRE. And what beautiful awfulness it is. After an opening credits sequence with a slammin' 60's style surfing instrumental (by The Insect Surfers, and you might as well get familiar to the tune, because it's apparently the only song they know how to play!), we are introduced to a race of friendly aliens as they head through space in their ship (which looks like a chopped-down model of the USS Enterprise from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION [1987 - 1994]), who are on their way to Mirus 3 to deliver a prototype weapon called the Deathsphere. Bumbling alien janitor Nagillig (George Willis; and, yes, his name is "Gilligan" spelled backwards, so you know how bumbling he really is. Somewhere, Bob Denver is spinning in his grave.) and the rest of the crew watch a promotional video made by a nasty pig-nosed alien race on the planet Ghastor that shows how to use the Deathsphere (every time the gadget's name is shown onscreen, it is followed by the "Trademark"™ symbol!), which turns out to be a weapon that kills all people but leaves the planets intact. The friendly alien race (who speak in high-pitched reverse English and chicken noises, which are subtitled into English) are bringing the Deathsphere™ (which looks like a common beach volleyball) to Mirus 3 to dismantle it, but idiot Nagillig breaks the glass case it's stored in and the Deathsphere™ falls to the floor, just as head Ghastorian bad guy, Lord Odem (who is played by three different people, including the director), catches up to them in his spaceship and fires torpedos, damaging their ship and forcing them to crash on Earth, but not before Nagillig puts the Deathsphere™ into a torpedo chamber and ejects it, where it lands on the beach in a town full of jocks, cheerleaders, drunks and potheads. Nagillig is the only one to survive the crash, so he has to grab a tracking device (out of the pants of a not-quite-yet-dead comrade, who has been cut in half by the crash!) and find the Deathsphere™ before Lord Odem does. Only Dr. Bateman (John Eineigl) knows that aliens have come to Earth, so he jumps in his van to find proof, while dim-as-a-broken-lightbulb Nagillig wanders around town, stealing a blind man's pencil cup and being outfitted in awful beach gear by a huckster clothing store owner. Hilarity ensues when Nagillig is mistaken for someone's cousin from New Jersey (it must be his green skin!) and he joins hairy pothead Glue (co-screenwriter Eric Zumbrunnen), jock Bud (Perry Martin), cheerleader Babs (Stacey Havener), brainiac Robin (Kourtney Kaye) and others for some fun on the beach, while Lord Odem and his spiked leather-masked minion Number Two (who is played by two different actors) mistaken a common beach volleyball for the Deathsphere™ (Glue has the real one) and Dr. Bateman tries to prove the existence of aliens.  This is surprisingly funnier than it has any right to be, if you watch it in the right frame of mind, preferably buzzed on a case of beer or a few joints. Director Andy Gizzarelli (the "Gizz" mentioned in the beginning of the film and his only directorial effort), who wrote the joke-filled script with co-star Eric Zumbrunnen and producer Mike Parente, keeps the film moving at a brisk pace and even throws-in a few scenes of bloody gore, mostly used for comical effect. While the cast is strictly amateur hour (especially John Eineigl as Dr. Bateman), in this film it actually works in its' favor. Zumbrunnen's character, Glue (real name: Elmer, and, yes, I laughed when that tidbit was revealed) has his long hair covering his face for 99% of his screen time (even when he is toking on a bong or a joint) and he, along with his two stoner friends, Jeff (Mark Fite) and Alan (Max Fisk), have some of the best lines in the film. They're mostly all pot-related (or influenced), but they're still funny nonetheless. I also like the way the film switched gears from a beach party flick to a haunted house thriller, as the entire cast go to the "old Willoughby place" to smoke pot and have sex, only to be stalked by Lord Odem and Number Two. There's a beheading (while Bud is getting head); Bud is shot in the crotch with an alien crossbow device (Babs is shot in the stomach with the same device); another girl has her arm cut off (Jeff says to her, "Linda, like don't worry, we know where your arm is!"); Dr. Bateman has his hand cut off (Glue says, "I hope that wasn't your stroking hand!") and then loses other appendages in true Monty Python fashion; Jeff is impaled on the fin of a surfboard; and other crazy nonsense (the bad aliens are allergic to suntan lotion!), all done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. While I know this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea (some people are going to hate this from the first frame) and the CGI and green screen effects are crappy, this does have a crazy charm that I found infectious. So sue me. Also starring Lisa Frankiel, Eric Jacobson, Judi Alley and Tom Terri. A McCarter Multimedia Marketing VHS Release (Yeah, I never heard of them either until I picked up this tape!). Not available on DVD. Not Rated.

ANGUISH (1986) - Warning: If you have yet to view this strange and manipulative horror movie (possibly the weirdest horror film made in the 80's to get a wide theatrical release), please do not read this review. This is a film that should be experienced for the first time with no previous knowledge of what you are about to be put through, because the narrative structure is quite unlike any film you've seen before. The film opens with severely troubled John (Michael Lerner; STRANGE INVADERS [1983] and nominated for an Academy Award for his role in BARTON FINK [1991]), a hospital orderly who is slowly going blind due to diabetes. He is having trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy thanks to his domineering mother (Zelda Rubinstein; best known for her role in POLTERGEIST [1982], but she is absolutely unforgettable here), who hypnotizes him on a daily basis. After his hypnosis sessions, John travels around in a trance and removes people's eyes with a scalpel, bringing the orbs to his mother as gifts. It's during one of these eye removal scenes (about 22 minutes into the film) that we discover that what we are actually viewing is nothing but a film (titled THE MOMMY) being watched by an audience in a movie theater, but it seems like some audience members are also being affected by Mommy's on-screen hypnosis methods (It's a sequence you won't soon forget once you've viewed it). It seems to particularly affect one male audience member (Angel Jove), who seems to take Mommy's on-screen suggestions a little too seriously (subtle hints are dropped that he has seen this film many time before in this same theater) and begins murdering members of the audience, while John is on-screen killing members of an audience in a theater showing the 1925 dinosaur film, THE LOST WORLD. As John begins decimating everyone in the theater on-screen, the crazy male member in the real (?) theater begins shooting people with a silencer-equipped pistol. One girl witnesses him killing the ticket-taker and the candy counter girl and escapes the theater (leaving her nervous female friend inside), but the killer then locks the theater doors so no one can leave or get in. It's not long before the fictional film on-screen and the actual killer's actions are being played-out in-synch in a finale that is must be seen to be fully appreciated. Just when you think it's over, it's not.  The best way to describe this film is that it fucks with your mind to the point that you're not sure what is real and what is fiction, much like what John is going through in the film-within-a-film. If I weren't a rational human being, I'd swear that I was actually being hypnotized while watching this. Director/screenwriter Bigas Luna (REBORN - 1981) masterfully makes us wonder if we are witnessing life imitating art or art imitating life, purposely keeping the viewer off-balance in a cacophony of sights and sounds that defy description (once you see the sight of a snail riding on the back of a pigeon, you'll swear that someone slipped you some hallucinogenics in your soda!). ANGUISH is probably one of the most original and overlooked horror films of the 80's; a total masterwork of the macabre (A lot of reviewers compare this to HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE [1980] because of the film-within-a-film opening, but the comparisons end there). The only way to fully appreciate this unheralded classic of modern horror is in a packed theater (man, that must have been cool, not to mention goosebump-inducing!), but Anchor Bay Entertainment offers a nice widescreen DVD that tries to duplicate the experience. I can't recommend this film enough to fans of obscure horror. It plays with your head in so many ways, you won't know whether you're coming or going. Why isn't this film more popular? This is a one-of-a-kind trip into the bizarre mind of a mad genius (Bigas Luna is like a demented Spanish David Lynch, except his narrative structure is much easier to follow), who would gain international arthouse fame with 1992's JAMON JAMON (hey, even I like that one!). After viewing REBORN and ANGUISH, I really wish that Mr. Luna strayed to the dark side just one more time. Stay through the end credits because it adds further depth to the experience. My highest recommendation. Also starring Talia Paul and Clara Pastor. Originally released on VHS by Key Video in a fullscreen version (not the best way to watch it). Buy or rent the widescreen DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment instead. Rated R.

APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR (1985) - OK, let's get this out of the way before I begin the review: Any film that lists "Alan Smithee" as a director usually means the film you are about to watch is going to be a total mess. I just wasn't prepared for what was a weird mess this film was going to be. We first spy chain-smoking Detective Kowalski (Douglas Rowe, who looks like he stepped out of a 40's detective movie) staking out the house of an unknown woman with a baby. When she leaves the house with the baby, he follows her, but she is also being followed by an unknown man (Garrick Dowhen) in a white van. Kowalski's car hits a lady vagrant's shopping cart and he loses track of the woman, but the man in the van is still following her. We then cut to Carol (Michele Little), whose favorite pasttime seems to be spying on people's conversations and taping them on audio cassette with a sound recorder shaped like a small satellite dish (you know the kind; cop movies use them all the time). She watches as the unknown woman stops at a house nearby and turns her listening device towards her, when the unknown man (who never utters a single word though the entire film) sits by her side and she says, "You can't kill the baby. It's your baby. You can't kill him!", and then he plunges a knife in the woman's side and leaves. Neighbor Heather (Kerry Remsen, who for some unknown reason wears bright blue makeup covering her eyes, upper nose and lower forehead, like a neon mask, throughout most of the film) goes to the dying lady, who gives her the baby (Heather lost her four year-old brother a couple of years ago in a bathtub drowning when she didn't keep an eye on him and was talking on the phone) and tells her to not let the man get him. The man, we soon find out, is known as Attis, King Of The Woods (!), who Detective Kowalski put in a coma years before  and believes he can leave his body to kill babies. You see, Attis needs to kill one baby a year to remain King Of The Forest (Don't try questioning it, just go along with it. Believe me, your brain will thank me later.) Kowalski visits Attis in the hospital on a regular basis (the room is nothing but a bed and a few electronic doo-dads) and tries to convince Detective Connors (the late James Avery in a needless role) that Attis is able to leave his body and appear at will anywhere, but Connors looks at Kowalski like he is crazy. Meanwhile, Heather (and the baby), Carol and a couple of her female friends spend a weekend at the house of Carol's's mother's newest boyfriend (the house looks like it was designed by someone high on LSD!) and, yes, you guessed it, Attis shows up and begins dispatching some of the girls to get to the baby. It turns out that Carol is a crack shot with automatic weapons (which her mother's boyfriend keeps out in the open!) and she pumps bullet after bullet into Attis' body, with no effect. It takes Heather to stab him with the silver tip of a flag pole (!) to finally kill Attis, as we see his body explode in his hospital room. Now, if any of this sounds interesting, I apologize, because it has to be the weirdest scripted film in recent memory. The screenplay, by Gideon Davis and Bruce Meade, is full of head-scratching dialogue and everyone speaks like they just stepped out of an issue of Psychology Today. Everyone talks like they just took a class on existentialism and there are other head-scratching elements in the film, too, like why would Carol let bum Norman (Danny Dayton) live in the back of her pickup truck? None of it makes much sense, such as when Detective Kowalski describes to Attis a dream he had involving a red pigeon by a clock, who gets eaten by a bat who gets impaled by the hands of the clock! I mean, what the fuck?!? Director "Alan Smithee" is actually Ramsey (Ramzi) Thomas, who never went on to direct another film again (surprise!), but he has worked in various capacities on other films, such as Producer on HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1989), that was Executive Produced by Moustapha Akkad, who also produced this film. I haven't even scratched the absurdities in this film, like why does Bobby (Michael Wyle) ride a motorcycle with a female dummy in his sidecar or how does a group of dancers (direct from Denny Terrio's studio) suddenly appear in the driveway of the house and why does boyfriend Cowboy (Vincent Barbour) join-in on the dance? While there is some fleeting nudity on view, those looking for a gore-drenched slasher film are going to be very disappointed because the camera cuts away just as the killings get good (like Norman's decapitation) and there is much too little blood on screen to make it worth a slasher film fanatics list of must-see films. I will give it this: It is weird beyond belief and feels like it was filmed is some sort of alternate universe. If that turns you on, you may dig this film. All others beware. It was edited by Herbert L. Strock (who must have had a hard time making sense of the mess that was put in front of him), who earlier directed such classic badfilms like HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER (1958) and THE CRAWLING HAND (1963). They look like CITIZEN KANE when compared to this film. APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR (also known as DEADLY PRESENCE, but I can find no advertising materials to verify it) was made in 1985, carries a 1986 production date at the end credits, but not released to home video until 1987. Also starring Pamela Bach-Hasselhoff, Deborah Sue Voorhees (who takes a topless swim at the house and is the first to die there), Mike Gomez, Nick Conti and Sergia Simone. An IVE VHS Release. Rated R.

ASSIGNMENT TERROR (1969) - Ridiculous Spain/West Germany/Italy co-production with an equally ridiculous story line. An alien race from a dying planet, led by Dr. Odo Varnoff (a terribly dubbed Michael Rennie; NAKED YOU DIE - 1968), invade Earth, kill some of the planet's most intelligent people (both men and women), take over their bodies and plan on cloning the Earth's most deadly monsters in hopes of scaring the human population to death!
     The monsters they choose to revive should be like an old Universal Studios monster mash, but since the budget is so low, they couldn't use their names in the film (even if some ingenious European distributor renamed the film to a more desirable title, but more on that later on) and they would hardly scare a baby. Those monsters are Tao-Tet, the Mummy (Gene Reyes; THE FEAST OF SATAN - 1971), Count Janos de Mialhoff, a "Nosferatu" (Manuel de Blas; THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY - 1972),the "Farancksalan" Monster (Ferdinando Murolo; WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS? - 1974) and our old friend Waldemar Daninsky, the Werewolf (Paul Naschy; HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB - 1972). What Dr. Varnoff doesn't count on are his female aliens, who have taken over human female bodies, will begin to feel real human female emotions, such as love, and they will ruin his plans of taking over Earth (Well, they are the weaker sex. Just kidding!). It's who they fall in love with that's ridiculous.
     Dr. Varnoff and his crack team of alien scientists (all originally human and killed by Dr. Varnoff in various ways), including Dr. Kerian (Angel del Pozo; DEMON WITCH CHILD - 1974), Maleva Kerstein (Karin Dor; THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM - 1967) and Ilona (Ella Gessler), revive all the monsters from their long slumbers or deaths (real life open heart surgery footage is shown when they open up Waldemar's chest and remove a silver bullet from his heart, put there by a woman who once loved him. Legend states that a werewolf can only be permanently killed if a woman who loves him shoots him in the heart with a silver bullet. This bit of knowledge will come in handy later in the film). Waldemar, who is given an injection to stop him from turning into a werewolf, turns into a werewolf anyway at the next full moon (one of several sloppy scenes in this film) and escapes from the abandoned monestery where the aliens are hiding out, nearly killing young woman Ilsa (Patty Shepard; REST IN PIECES - 1987). When Ilsa reports the incident, Inspector Henry Tobermann (Craig Hill; THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW - 1978) is assigned to the case by the Chief of Police (Peter Damon; CRACK IN THE WORLD - 1965) and he slowly falls in love with her. In a coincidence that is beyond believable (approaching ridiculousness), Ilsa tells Henry that her father, Judge Sternberg (Luciano Tacconi) once crossed paths with werewolf Waldemar, and he tells Henry about the incident, believing every word that comes out of his mouth (any normal police detective would have looked at the judge as if he were crazy). Dr. Varnoff manages to recapture Waldemar without further incident (except we hear he killed a hooker named "Tootie"! I guess a dead hooker is not that important.).
     Now here's where the unbelievable part of the film starts. Maleva falls in love with Waldemar and Ilona falls in love with the Count, their strong female feeling for them making it next to impossible for Dr. Varnoff to control the monsters. The one monster he is able to control is the Farancksalan Monster (say the name slowly), who walks around slowly with his eyes closed, yet he is able to unlock doors, flip switches and nearly kills Waldemar and the Count, but fails. This all leads to the eventual monster bash, where Waldemar battles the Farancksalan Monster and the Mummy, defeating them and eventually battling the Count. Dr. Varnoff, meanwhile, torture Ilona for her treachery by shocking her with electricity, telling Maleva, "This is not punishment" (Then what in the hell is it?!?). Waldemar is then killed by Maleva, for reasons mentioned earlier in this review. The monsters never do get the chance to scare humanity to death because of stupid human female emotions. Take that you scumbag aliens!
     This cheap film, directed by Tulio Demicheli (RICCO THE MEAN MACHINE - 1973), is a bottom of the barrel horror show for so many reasons, I fail to understand why it has fans. The reasons why we never hear the names Dracula or Frankenstein is because the production was too cheap to pay the licensing fees, even though the film was retitled DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN in Europe (I guess licensing fees don't apply to titles), over a full year before Al Adamson's DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971) appeared in theaters. Just as in Adamson's film, the monsters here are pathetic, eliciting laughs instead of screams. The Count wears the worst pair of fangs I have ever seen on a vampire (even those store-bought plastic fangs look more believable) and the Faracksalan Monster's makeup is so bad (you can see where they glued on the headpiece, disguising the seam as stitches) you'll be shaking your head in disbelief. The Mummy is so thin (and he looks Asian!), he would probably fall through a crack in the floor. Even the werewolf makeup Paul Naschy (who also wrote this film, using his full given name Jacinto Molina Alvarez) wears is subpar, looking dimestore in appearance when compared to the rest of his werewolf films. Add all that to absolutely no nudity or graphic violence and what you end up with is a horror film lacking horror. Purists consider this the second Daninsky werewolf film (following FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR a.k.a MARK OF THE WOLFMAN [1968], with WEREWOLF SHADOW [1970] coming after it), but this is the only Daninsky film that has Naschy as a secondary character, spending more time on the other monsters and Dr. Varnoff's activities. Director Dimicheli tries to get our minds off the fact that this film is so cheap by throwing in some comedy, but it falls flat and makes no sense, such as the scene where the Inspector gets drunk and then sees himself turning into the Count in a mirror. A mirror? C'mon on now! At least know your vampire lore before trying something cheap like this. Unfortunately, also adding to the film's badness is the print itself. I tried to find an uncut widescreen print, but they are harder to find than a leprechaun's gold. I searched high and low for the German DVD which is in widescreen and uncut (and English subtitled), but I could not find it for a decent price (some stores want $50.00 just for the postage alone!). I got stuck with the abysmal 77-minute TV print (distributed by American International Television), which is missing more than a few frames, cutting out some important dialogue where Dr. Varnoff describes to his race why it is so important to revive these monsters (He even mentions a Golem, but the film was too cheap to show us one). This print was used for nearly all the VHS (from labels such as United American Video and Sinister Cinema) and DVD releases of the film since it is in the Public Domain (PD), just like many of Naschy's other Waldamar Daninsky films. My review might have been a little more positive if I had a good print to watch, but seeing these monster makeups more clearly wouldn't help my opinion. The English dubbing is also horrendous. It is obvious many of the actors here are speaking English, yet the dubbers offer no emotional range in the characters, making their line readings one-note and monotonous. This is also the final film of Michael Rennie's storied career, making his mark in 1951's THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL as the alien Klaatu. I'd like to think that Rennie didn't dub his own voice here because the budget couldn't afford it, but it was probaly because he knew what a stinker this film was. Code Red announced an uncut Blu-Ray back in 2017, but it hasn't yet been released (at the time of this review). Also known as REINCARNATOR. Also starring Diana Sorel and Paul Cross. Not Rated, but nothing to get upset about, unless you want to see some actors at the lowest point of their careers.

AT THE MEETING WITH JOYOUS DEATH (1973) - "I love the sound of breaking glass" - Nick Lowe. This very unusual film opens with a father named Marc (Jean-Marc Bory), an architectural graphic artist and his daughter, fourteen-year-old Sophie (Yasmine Dahm), having a conversation offscreen while the camera shows a long shot of their new home, a small, but sprawling, castle-like structure in the country. We then see Sophie drawing a picture of their new home with ivy growing on the outside walls, even though there is none on it that we can see. As they walk outside, Sophie asks her father if they should plant ivy at the front of the house and he says no, at least not at the moment, because her mother, Françoise (Françoise Fabian; HOW TO KILL A JUDGE - 1974), is deathly afraid of spiders and to give her some time to get use to the large house. Sophie, who talked Mom and Dad into buying this home, wonders why they are the first people to live in this house for a very long time. She mentions that every window in the house is different from one another and wonders if the house is more than a hundred-years-old. Marc says not necessarily, houses of this type (sort of an Art Deco style) were also built in the 1930s, telling Sophie, "At that time, people were dancing the Fox Trot in houses like this one." Sophie has a very close relationship with her father and gets visibly jealous when he pays attention to her much younger brother Dominique (Sébastien Stark), giving him a piggyback ride and walking towards their new home, asking Sophie if she is coming inside.
     Once inside, we see Françoise is about to paint the kitchen, but Marc wonders if they should hire someone to do it. Françoise says no, they can't afford it on Marc's salary and maybe she should go back to writing, her former profession (Françoise taunts Marc about his job and seems to enjoy it a little too much). Suddenly a paint can tips over on its own and spills all over the floor. Françoise thinks Marc was being clumsy, but he says he had nothing to do with it and walks out of the kitchen, leaving Françoise to clean up the paint-covered floor. Sophie, who was laughing after seeing the paint can tip over, asks her mother if she needs any help, but she tells Sophie to keep an eye on her brother, who is outside playing war with his vast collection of miniature leads soldiers. Sophie, who is holding a rotting piece of rope and tying knots in it, passes by Dominique and doesn't pay any attention to him, rather picking up two snails and trying to make them mate by attaching them to each other, placing them on a rock, surrounding them with the rotting rope (looking the the Ouroboros, the ancient sign of Infinity) and covering them with green leaves. Suddenly, Dominique screams out and everyone comes running, the little boy pointing to his lead soldiers, which lie on the ground, all of them broken, like they have been stepped on. Dominique says, "They did it!", meaning the soldiers did this on their own. This is just the beginning of the weird happenings in and around the mysterious house, as this family of four will soon discover.
     That night, Dominique screams from his bed after having a nightmare, begging his parents to sleep with them tonight. They decide to put him in Sophie's room instead, Sophie objecting loudly, saying it's an invasion of her privacy and telling her parents, "I don't like to hear him breathe!" Sophie waits a little while, walks outside and spots her father opening his bedroom window. She then decides to teach her parents a lesson about privacy (or she is possessed by the house) by flinging open their bedroom door, just as Dad was about to get it on with Mom. A silent Sophie then walks out of the room, with Marc following and yelling at Sophie about his and her mother's privacy, but before he can make his point, rocks come flying through nearly every upstairs window in the house and it becomes a slow-motion scene of shattering glass flying through the air with rocks hitting the walls with a loud "thump" (it's a great atmospheric sequence). The next morning, thinking it was a gang of punks welcoming them to their new home, Marc and Françoise have all the broken windows replaced and are having drinks on the outside pation, when, suddenly, the round patio table flies through the air, crashes through the glass front door and destroys the living room before stopping (the effects are low-rent, but effective).
     Soon after, their friend Henri (Renato Salvatori; ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES - 1976) comes for a visit and the kitchen goes wonky when all the appliances, including the dishwasher and refrigerator, begin attacking Henri, trying to crush him. Marc and Françoise, who are outside with their children, beg Henri to come outside, forcing Henri to jump out of one of the kitchen windows to escape the approaching appliances. Henri ends up in the hospital with lacerations all over his body, two broken ribs and a possible fractured skull. At the hospital, Marc tells his friend Perou (Jean-Pierre Darras), a TV producer of a news show, what is happening at his house, so Perou asks Marc if he can send a small crew to his house to document the strange happenings there, saying it would be perfect for his show. Marc agrees, because he, Françoise, Sophie and Dominique don't plan on going back to the house any time soon, as they will be staying at Sophie's grandmother's house until they can find out what is going on in that house (Finally, a family with common sense! How many times have we seen the opposite happen?). We are then introduced to Perou's three-man crew: cameraman Leroy (Michel Creton), lighting technician  Kleber (André Weber) and sound man Beretti (a rail-thin Gérard Depardieu in one of his early roles). They fit the house with lights, microphones and cameras to catch the strange happenings supposedly taking place there, but are disappointed when nothing weird happens. That is until Sophie makes a surprise appearance, telling Perou that she hitch-hiked from her grandmother's house because she missed "her" house. While Perou phones Marc, telling him not to worry, Sophie is at the house, Beretti, who is cooking dinner, sticks his hand in a boiling pot of water and screams in pain. Sophie bandages his hand, but Beretti has no recollection of putting his hand in the boiling water. An ear-piercing noise then emits from inside the house, causing everyone, except for Sophie, to cover their ears with their hands, as it is causing severe pain. As Perou opens the front door for him and his crew to run outside, the noise suddenly stops, as they are greeted by a man of the cloth and a group of young girls.
     The priests turns out to be Father D'Aval (Claude Dauphin; BARBARELLA - 1968) and the young girls are his charges, all of them orphans. Father D'Aval runs the local female orphanage and apologizes for the intrusion, saying he has been bringing his girls to this house for the past eight years and this is the first time the house has been occupied. He brings his female orphans here every year to break up the monotony of living in the orphanage, saying the girls consider it a vacation. Father D'Aval offers to leave, saying he can put his girls back in the minibus they came in and drive back to the orphanage, but Perou lets them stay, at least for the night. Marc then arrives and tells Sophie that they will drive back to grandmother's house in the morning, because he's too tired to drive back there now. How much do you wanna bet that will never happen?

     Rather than describe the rest of the plot of the film, let me just mention some  of the weirdest parts:

     This is a slow-moving, but never boring, foray into the supernatural. I must say that I wasn't expecting such a linear film, since director/co-writer (with Pierre-Jean Maintigneux, who wrote the novel this film is based on) Juan Bunuel was the son of Luis Bunuel, who is considered the father of Surrealism Cinema (his short film, UN CHIEN ANDALOU ["An Andalusian Dog" - 1929), still sends shocks to audiences today, as he collaborated with surreaslism painter Salvador Dali to create a 17-minute short film that makes very little sense, but packs some powerful images, including a woman having her eye slit open with a straight razor). Luis made many surreal feature films in his lifetime  (he passed away in 1983 at the age of 83), many of them considered classics in their genre. Juan Bunuel, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 83 (a surreal coincidence?), took up his father's mantle, but while his films can be considered weird  and somewhat leisurely, they are much more story-driven and linear in their story-telling. Juan worked just as much in television as he did in feature films but there is no denying that this film, as well as his semi-horror film LEONOR (1975), have a visual and emotional impact that would make his father proud. When this film ended, I smiled just as much as Sophie, because it just clicked with me and left me emotionally satisfied, even though we never know just what is haunting this house. We don't really need to, because this film is different from most haunted house horror films, as we are involved with the characters, not just what is happening in and around the house. I can't say this will have the same emotional impact for you, but patient viewers will recognize a classic when they see one. It is obvious that films such as POLTERGEIST (1972) and the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise (2007 - 2015) found some inspiration here, as have countless haunted house and supernatural films that came after it. This is one done to perfection and should be more widely known and appreciated.
     This France/Italy co-production, shot as AU RENDEZ-VOUS DE LA MORT JOYEUSE (a literal translation of the review title) and also known under the misleading title EXPULSION OF THE DEVIL (His Satanic Majesty is not mentioned once here), received no theatrical or legitimate home video release in any format in the United States. It is available on DVD-R  from such gray market companies as Rogue Video and Desert Island Films and is available streaming on YouTube from channels "Movies For Nothing" and "Lightactivity" (The Movies For Nothing print is much better looking, even though it goes silent in the beginning for supposed music rights violation purposes [Don't get me started on YouTube's recently shitty new rules!]). This film did air once on cable channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM), but they lost licensing rights shortly thereafter and never aired it again. All prints are in French with English subtitles, as it was never dubbed in English. Not Rated.

ATTACK OF THE BEAST CREATURES (1983/1985) - The best "no-budget,-filmed-in-Fairfield,-Connecticut,-trapped-on-an-island-full-of-Zuni-fetish-like dolls-gore-film" ever made. It's May 1920, somewhere in the North Atlantic and a cruise ship sinks, forcing a handful of passengers on a lifeboat called the Obelisk to drift aimlessly on a strange current for days until they come to some weird uncharted island. John Trieste (Robert Nolfi) and Case Quinn (Robert Lengyel) take over leadership duties and decide to look for fresh water and shelter, especially since one member of their party, Mr. Bruin (Robert Firgelewski, the film's not-so-special effects coordinator), is seriously injured. They put Mr. Bruin in the shade and search for water, with the one dissenter in the group (there's always at least one), Mr. Morgan (John Vichiola), complaining that Mr. Bruin is as good as dead and they should all be worried about their (by "their", he means "his") well-being. Leaving Mr. Bruin in the shade at the shore, the rest of the group, which includes Cathy (Julia Rust), Diane (Lisa Pak), Philip (Frank Murgalo), Mrs. Gordon (Kay Bailey) and a couple of disposable characters (in the STAR TREK universe, they would be known as "redshirts"), head inland to look for water, food and shelter. What they find instead is an island of horrors. While everyone id picking berries and commiserating about their bad luck and personal problems, one of the unnamed passengers comes upon a stream and takes a drink, only to discover too late that the water is actually acid and he lets out a blood-curdling scream as the flesh peels away from his body (it's probably the film's best makeup effect). The rest of the survivors decide to be more careful (no shit), but they will soon discover that the island is crawling with a tribe of miniature doll-like creatures with razor-sharp teeth (their resemblance to the Zuni fetish doll in TRILOGY OF TERROR [1974] is uncanny) and they like the taste of human flesh. The toothsome little buggers make their presence known when John and Quinn go to retrieve Mr. Bruin down at the shore and discover that he has been picked clean (all that is left is his skeleton). John and Quinn keep their discovery a secret from the rest of the survivors (Mr. Bruin simply died from his wounds), but it's a secret that doesn't last for long. Their first night on the island, everyone is attacked by the creatures while they are sleeping around a campfire, as the little demons run on the ground or swing on vines and begin biting everyone. Luckily, no one is killed, but everyone is badly cut-up from the tiny terrors' teeth. Since the little demons have set their lifeboat adrift, the survivors are continuously attacked and killed one-by-one (Mr. Morgan seems to have caught rabies from a bite, as he foams from the mouth and decides to take an acid bath!). Will anyone survive this onslaught?  Long a favorite of bad movie aficionados since its release on VHS in the mid-80's, ATTACK OF THE BEAST CREATURES (made in 1983, but not released until 1985 and also known as HELL ISLAND) contains all the trademarks of a truly awful film: Terrible acting by a cast on non-pros (some of the emoting here is wince-inducing); special effects that are anything but special; a droning synthesizer score (by John P. Mozzi); and technical issues (include poorly recorded sound) that are inherent in films with budgets less than your cousin Schlomo's bar-mitzvah. Yet with all these faults, director/co-producer Michael Stanley (a still-active theater director in Connecticut whose only other film credit is directing DOING AGATHA in 2008) and screenwriter Robert A. Hutton manage to turn in a film that is utterly infectious in its badness. The attacks by the tiny tribe of whatever-they-are (they have painted-on bright white eyes that glow in the dark and little black mullets) are priceless, as it is plain to see that they are as animated as a block of wood (the only parts that seem to move are their mouths and their arms at their shoulders), yet they run as fast as lightning (with their little arms swinging back and forth), swing from vines and fly through the air. The attack scenes are simply incredible, as it is obvious that crew members just out of camera range are throwing the dolls at the actors, but the film is so damn bloody (including a nasty tree branch impalement and plenty of flesh eating), you can't help but be impressed. Even more mind-blowing is the scene where all the dolls gather at a giant wooden totem of themselves and pray (Cathy says, "There must be hundreds of them!", but we see no more than twenty!). For those who have never witnessed this film, it's about time that you did. For those who have seen it, it's time for a revisit. A totally weird viewing experience all the way. Also starring Frans Kal, Ronald A. Haupler Jr. and Joanne Stanley. Originally released on VHS by World Video Inc. and not available on DVD. Not Rated.

BABA YAGA (1973) - If any film belongs in this category, it is this one. It's basically unclassifiable because it is based on artist Guido Crepax's equally unclassifiable comic strip "Valentina". Now, I've never read that comic strip, but if it deals with sadomasochistic relationships, tossing everything but the kitchen sink into the mix, including Nazis, witchcraft, fashion models and plenty of nudity which this film does, point me to the comic book store!
     While the opening credits roll, we are privy to a conversation at a mod party, where several people are having a conversation on how comic strips can be "revolutionary", a man answering, "Of course. Even Snoopy in his own way is anti-establishment." Valentina (Isabelle De Funes) then arrives at the party on a motorcycle driven by Sandro (Sergio Masieri), saying what a wild ride she just had. Valentina is a world famous photographer/fashion model, who goes by the name "Cartier-Bresson", her specialty photographing images that deal with publicity, fashion, art, politics and news (in other words, everything). Also at the party is filmmaker Arno Treves (George Eastman; ANTHROPOPHAGUS - 1980), who tries to explain to Valentina and Guido (Giorgio Pellizone) how hard it is to make a movie with no money. Guido gives Valentina a ride home in his sports car, as long as if she doesn't mind sitting on Arno's lap. Halfway to home, Valentina tells Guido to stop the car, she'll walk the rest of the way. Arno tags along, trying to get her back into the car because it is 3:00 in the morning. "That's the nicest time of the day" is Valentina's reply, as she continues walking, Arno following her. "I don't feel like making love to you...tonight." Valentina says to Arno, so he gets back in the car, Guido driving off. Valentina saves a dog from being run over in a car driven by a mysterious woman (Carroll Baker; PARANOIA - 1969; KNIFE OF ICE - 1972) and she barely escapes with her own life. The woman stops the car and apologizes to Valentina, insisting she drive her home and "I won't take no for an answer." Valentina gets in her car, where the woman tells her that their meeting was preordained, because she knew something was about to happen. She drives Valentina to her door and Valentina wants to know how she knew where she lived, the woman answering, "There are many things that you'll want to know, my dear, but not now." The woman continues to say that maybe later she will explain, but first she needs a personal item from her, reaching under Valentina's miniskirt and taking a clasp from her garter belt that held up her stockings, saying, "Be assured that I will return it to you tomorrow." Valentina gets out of the car totally confused. Who is this woman and why does she speak in riddles? As Valentina gets to her door, the woman says to her, "Don't forget my name. My name is Baba Yaga!"
     That night, Valentina has a strange nightmare where men in Nazi uniforms escort Valentina outside wearing nothing but her bra and panties. A Nazi holding a cat makes her remove what little clothes she has on and has her jump into a bottomless hole in the ground (it looks like a grave). Valentina wakes up when she jumps, breathing deeply (this won't be the only time she has to deal with a bottomless pit). Her doorbell rings and it is her friend, model Toni (Angela Covella). Toni tells her it's not morning, it is actually the afternoon, so Valentina does a fashion photo shoot of Toni (dressed and undressed in a wide variety of costumes) with her favorite camera. In the middle of the shoot Valentina hears her doorbell ring and it's Baba Yaga. Valentina invites her in as Toni leaves. Baba Yaga returns the clasp that she took from Valentina and tries to put it back on Valentina's body. Valentina tells her that she is not wearing a garter belt and Baba says that's a pity. Valentina wants to know who arranged their "preordained" meeting, Baba saying, "There are forces which control our actions and our feelings."  Valentina asks "What forces?", Baba answering, "It's too soon Valentina. It is too soon." Baba admires Valentina's favorite camera, rubbing her fingers over the camera and saying, "That is the eye. The eye that freezes reality." (I've never looked at a camera that way, but she makes a good point if you think about it.). Valentina is confused by all the riddles and Baba says she must leave, but Valentina must come to her house (It is said more like an order than an invitation), telling her it is an old house, leaving her address before she leaves. Valentina tells Baba that she will definitely come to visit her, but Baba Yaga may have put a curse on Valentina's favorite camera.
     Valentina is mystified by Baba Yaga and she can't get Baba out of her mind. Arno phones her, inviting Valentina to come to the location he is shooting footage for his latest film. When she gets there, she sees Arno catching a rat in a butterfly net, using the rat for some footage, but his movie camera jams and the rat gets away (When Valentina asks Arno what he would do with the close-up footage of the rat, he replies that maybe he will show it next to a photo of some big industrialist! They then get into a discussion about censorship and how Arno is selling out.). They go back to her apartment, not noticing that Baba is watching them from across the street. Arno looks at Valentina's portfolio, gets turned-on and they make love. The next morning, Toni enters Valentina's apartment and scares the crap out of Arno, yet he stays to watch the photo shoot. When Valentina snaps away with her favorite camera, Toni collapses, falling to the floor, telling Valentina that she suddenly feels sick. Arno calls a taxi for Toni and goes with her to make sure she is safe. This is when the film really goes off the rails. Whenever Valentina points her favorite camera at a subject and clicks away, something bad happens to the subject.
     Valentina visits Baba in her old home, asking her if she would mind if she did a jewelry photo shoot there. Baba doesn't mind and encourages Valentina to go upstairs, telling her that there are many things there for her to photograph. Valentina goes upstairs and finds many antiques to photograph, but one object really gets her attention. It is a child's doll, naked except for some S&M gear it is wearing. Valentina is fascinated with it, taking photos of it until her camera runs out of film. She then finds a black glove and puts it on, something stirring inside her. She begins masturbating until Baba wakes her from her trance. She gives Valentina the doll, telling her the doll's name is "Annette" and "You must always have her with you. She will protect you from any harm." Valentina tells her she needs no protection, as no one has threatened her, Baba replying, "You never know. You never know."
     Valentina goes home and begins developing the photos she just took, discovering Annette is not in S&M gear, but a dress. Is her mind influencing her sight? When Valentina takes a photo of a hippie named Carlo (Mario M. Giorgetti; THE TEENAGE PROSTITUTION RACKET - 1975), he drops dead, Valentina knowing that the camera is to blame. In case you haven't guessed by now, Baba Yaga is a witch and Carlo's death is one of camera's many victims. Even Annette comes to life (portrayed by Ely Galleani; FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON - 1970) and we have to ask ourselves if this is really happening or is it all in Valentina's S&M-fueled mind?
     Like I said before, this film is unclassifiable. It is like some Pop Art dream coming to life, as it throws so many bizarre sights and sounds into the mix, your head will be swimming, but in a good way. I know what you are thinking: Why doesn't Valentina use a different camera? She does, but the photos from that camera don't have her patented "feel" to them, so she goes to her favorite camera that does. Director/screenwriter Corrado Farina, who has a cameo as the Nazi with the cat (as well as two other quick cameos!), was usually a director of documentaries, his only other fictional film of note being the political allegory disguised as a horror film, THEY HAVE CHANGED THEIR FACE (1970). Even if he never made another film, this one would be considered a Pop Art masterpiece of the macabre, as even the simplest of things turn out not in the way they should, such as Arno's detergent commercial, shot in the vein of an Eurospy film, which you have to see to appreciate, as mere words don't do it justice. That basically covers the whole film (this review was very hard to write), as simply stating what is happening in no way does the visuals justice. The Italian censors thought so, too, as they butchered the film before they would allow it to be shown theatrically. It would take over 30 years before Farina's complete vision was shown to audiences, Farina re-inserting the cut scenes back into the film in his new "director's cut". I guess back in 1973, the Italian censors condemned what they could not understand (there are many veiled swipes at Italy's corrupt government) and gave audiences a bastardized look at a film they could not comprehend (or maybe they did understand, but I doubt it). It's no surprise that the film was a flop, because nearly all the nudity and sequences of S&M violence were edited out of the film, leaving audiences confused and flabbergasted at what they were viewing.
     Also known as THE DEVIL WITCH, this film gained a U.S. theatrical release under the title KISS ME, KILL ME. It, too, was the truncated Italian theatrical cut and it didn't get very much traction in the States. This version was also released on VHS (by Paragon Video Productions) and on budget DVD (by Diamond Entertainment Group), in badly cropped fullscreen versions. It wasn't until Blue Underground released it uncut and in its OAR that an appreciative audience realized what a special film this actually is. I guarantee that you will never see anything quite like it. You may not understand it, but you won't be able to take your eyes off it. Carroll Baker was no stranger to Italian genre films, appearing in many, especially giallo flicks, during the late-'60s to the mid-'70s (such as THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH - 1968; THE FOURTH VICTIM - 1971; THE FLOWER WITH THE DEADLY STING - 1973; and many others). She's quite good here, imbuing her role as Baba Yaga with just the right amount of mystery and sexuality. I cannot recommend this film enough to all the daring viewers out there who are interested in something unusual, the closest I can come to explaining this film is it is like a fever dream come to life. This film is very visual and trippy (even the opening credits are unusual). Also starring Daniela Balzaretti, Mario Paolo Giordani, Lorenzo Piani (RIOT IN A WOMEN'S PRISON - 1974) and the prolific Carla Mancini (DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973). Look for artist Guido Crepax in a cameo as the driver of a white stretch limousine. A Blue Underground DVD & Blu-Ray release. Also available streaming on Amazon Prime (free for Prime members). Not Rated.

BABYSITTER WANTED (2008) - Ultra-religious Angie (Sarah Thompson; BRUTAL - 2007) leaves the safety of her mother's home and heads off for college in rural California, where she shares an apartment with slovenly, drug-taking Erica (Jillian Schmitz). Low on money and needing a bed (Erica's last roommate took the bed with her when she left), Angie goes to the college's bulletin board searching for a cheap bed, only to discover that there are many missing female student bulletins posted on the board (We know something is not kosher here because the film's first scene is of some poor gagged girl tied to a table, her half-naked body marked in black magic marker like a side of beef, as someone bashes her head in with a ball peen hammer). Unable to find a bed, Angie does find a "Babysitter Wanted" ad on the bulletin board and takes it, but Erica warns her that the location is out in the boonies, in "farm country". Angie calls the number and drives out to meet the couple, Jim & Violet Stanton (Bruce Thomas; TV's KYLE XY [2006-2009]; Kristen Dalton; CREEPY CRAWLERS [2000]) and their young son Sam (Kai Caster), who wears a cowboy outfit and refuses to take off his cowboy hat, even while he sleeps (this will make sense later in the film). The Stanton's hire Angie immediately to take care of Sam on the upcoming weekend. Leading up to the weekend, Angie meets student Rick (Matt Dallas; Kyle of KYLE XY) and a romance is born, though it is rather chaste due to Angie's religious beliefs. She is also being stalked by some mysterious guy in a pickup truck, who keeps coughing-up blood into a handkerchief. When Angie finds a poster of a missing girl taped to her apartment door, she brings it to Sheriff Dinelli (Bill Moseley; HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES - 2002) and he tells he that a lot of that has been going on lately. When Friday night rolls around and her car won't start, Rick gives her a ride to the Stanton's, which seems to annoy Jim somewhat (he offers to drive Angie back when he and the missus return, rather than have Rick come back). This is going to be a night Angie will not soon forget, as the stalker keeps ringing the Stanton's phone, tries to get into the house and Angie discovers that Sam is a creepy little kid. Not only does his diet consist solely of little chunks of rare red meat, he likes to play hide-and-seek, forcing Angie to search the entire house looking for him and making some horrifying discoveries of her own. When the stalker (who is horribly scarred from head to toe) breaks into the house brandishing a weird, symbol-filled blade, Angie tries to grab Sam and flee, but she will soon discover that she is running from the wrong people, as the stalker turns out to be a priest, the Stanton's are actually satanic cannibals (!) and Sam may actually be the son of Satan (he has two little horns on the top of his head to prove it!). Can Angie escape from this infernal trio or will she become steak tartar for Sam's consumption? Let's just say God can be proud of Angie, as she begins to get all biblical on the Stanton's asses, but there's enough bad flesh left over for the inevitable sequel.  This paean to the horror films of the 70's (it's equal parts WHEN A STRANGER CALLS [1979], THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [1974] and THE OMEN [1976]) basically defies normal description. It starts out as a tale about a fish out of water (Where Angie has her first experiences with the drug culture, romance, etc.), then turns into a "babysitter in peril" tale, then turns into some weird supernatural mumbo-jumbo involving priests trying to track down Sam the Devil Child to kill him and finally turns into a HOSTEL-like piece of torture porn (for lack of a better term), where Angie is forced to watch Jim butcher some poor girl into little pieces and placing the pieces in plastic bags for Sam's consumption later on, while Jim prattles-on to Angie about what he and his wife have to do to keep Sam from going hungry (This also helps some of the denser viewers better understand what they are watching). The film doesn't make a heckuva lotta sense, but first-time directors Jonas Barnes (who also scripted) and Michael Manasseri (also one of the Producers) inject a lot of excitement into the proceedings, as well as some hard-to-watch gore (the butchering scenes are brutal, as are the scenes of Sam brandishing a butcher knife while muttering "Hungry!" over and over), making BABYSITTER WANTED a good bet for fans of weird horror. I especially find it amusing that a naïve religious virgin would be the only one with the intestinal fortitude to go the ultra-violent route to get vengeance (not to mention dropping the f-bomb and other verbal obscenities while doing so). Put a gun in Angie's hand and she'll empty a clip in the bad guys' bodies without blinking once and she's also not above punching a small child in the face. Ah, religion. What would we do without it? Also starring Monty Bane, Nana Visitor, Jeff Markey and Scott Spiegel. A Lionsgate Home Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.

BAD BIOLOGY (2008) - CAUTION: Read this review only after you have watched the film! Frank Henenlotter returns to the director's chair after a sixteen-year hiatus (most of those years spent working with Mike Vraney at Something Weird Video) and delivers a film that defies genre conventions. Jennifer (Charlee Danielson) is a freak of nature: She was born with seven clitorises (she may have more and everyone that knows her calls her "Crazy Pussy") and when we first meet her, she is cruising a bar looking for a perfect male subject to satisfy her unquenchable sexual desires. The only problem is, she gets so carried away during the lovemaking act, she sometimes ends up killing her male partner. Another annoying caveat is that she always gets pregnant, but it's quite unlike any normal human pregnancy. Two hours after her sex act is over with, she delivers an "unfinished baby", which she always abandons, be it in a hotel bathtub, an abandoned car in a junkyard or a garbage can. Yes, Jennifer has a severe problem (she may be the world's only true nymphomaniac) and when she can't find a man, she uses a homemade vibrator to do the job (it's unlike any vibrator you have ever seen!). Jennifer is also a professional photographer, whose oeuvre is grotesque death portraits of her male victims and she also takes equally disturbing shots during paid model shoots (such as women with brightly colored wigs wearing vagina masks!). What Jennifer needs is a man that can satisfy her every desire and that man just may be Batz (Anthony Sneed), whose penis is so hyperactive, it has a mind of its own (he has to tape it to his leg to keep it from tapping the underside of tables and desks!). Batz feeds his cock a wide variety of drug cocktails by hypodermic needle, including growth hormones, to keep it under control (he even has a Rube Goldberg-esque jerk-off contraption of his own design), but the fact is, his penis is getting way too big for his body. During a photo shoot at an apartment next to Batz's, Jennifer notices Batz's condition and becomes very intrigued. Later that day, she breaks into Batz's apartment with video camera in hand and ends up recording Batz making love to a prostitute. The prostitute continues to have orgasms long after Batz has finished (hours after he is done!), so he gags her and drops her off in an alley. Jennifer is so impressed, she plans on confronting Batz the next day with an offer he can't possibly refuse, but she is too late. Batz's mutant penis detaches itself from his body and leaves, going on a rape spree (but always leaving the women in orgiastic pleasure). When the mutant penis returns, Jennifer wants to nurture it, so she starts shooting drugs into it over Batz's objections. The detached penis then fucks Jennifer and for the first time in her life, she is sexually satisfied (She says, "It's like God is fucking me!"). Unfortunately, Jennifer, Batz and the mutant penis die, but not before Jennifer gives birth to a mutant penis/baby hybrid, who walks away into an uncertain future. I love happy endings!  All I can say is: Welcome back Frank Henenlotter! BAD BIOLOGY may not be the best acted film (far from it, as some of the talent here is truly atrocious), but the ideas are truly original. The screenplay, by Henenlotter (BASKET CASE [1982] and its two sequels; BRAIN DAMAGE - 1988; FRANKENHOOKER - 1990) and producer/rapper R.A. "The Rugged Man" Thorburn (a lot of rappers put in cameos and offer songs to the soundtrack here, including Reef The Lost Cause, Vinnie Paz, Prince Paul, Big Earth, Jzone and Remedy), is a wild black comedy about sexual morals taken to a degree never seen on film before (this would make a perfect double feature with Jonathan Yudis' PERVERT! - 2005). The sight of the mutant penis (a mixture of stop-motion animation and practical makeup effects by Gabe Bartalos) breaking through walls and floors to rape a bunch of nubile (and totally naked) women is a vision that is not soon forgotten, as are the weird camera set-ups; one being a POV shot from inside of Jennifer's vagina (showing all seven of her clits) looking out on the horrified face of one of her male victims (which is similar to the poster above, but the U.S. DVD will not use this artwork because, let's face it, we're a bunch of easily shocked puritanical prudes). This film may be low in budget, but it registers high on the originality scale (Henenlotter shot the entire film in 35mm and it looks gorgeous). Tina Krause appears as herself in a funny scene and director/producer James Glickenhaus (THE EXTERMINATOR - 1980) has a cameo as Jennifer's boss. Also starring Eleanore Hendricks ("Where's my Jimmy J?!?"), "Rude" Jude Angelini, Krista Ayne, Bjorn Milz, Vicky Wiese, Jelena Jensen, Rachael Robbins, Mark Wilson and Staff Sgt. John A. Thorburn. A Shriek Show DVD Release. Unrated.

BELIEVERS (2007) - Paramedics David (Johnny Messner; ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID - 2004) and Victor (Jon Huertas; THE INSATIABLE - 2006) answer a call of a woman passed out on Lake Road and when they get there, they find the woman, Rebecca (Deanna Russo), unresponsive, as her young daughter, Libby (Saige Ryan Campbell), screams at them to wake her up before "they" arrive. As David and Victor work to revive Rebecca (she has strange mathematical equations tattooed on her body), four men in white coats carrying guns pull up in a pickup truck, grab Rebecca and Libby and kidnap David and Victor, putting a bullet in Victor's shoulder to show they mean business. They are taken to a heavily guarded compound (actually a deserted missile base) of a cult of wackos called the Quanta Group, where David and Victor are "decontaminated" and questioned by a dweeb called IO (Erik Passoja), who informs them that in thirteen hours everyone in the cult will leave Earth to "perpetuate the species". David and Victor are then locked in bathroom stalls, as we watch the Quanta Group's leader, Dr. Talbot (Daniel Benzali; MESSENGER OF DEATH - 1988), also known as "The Teacher", using some psychic force on Rebecca's body in an attempt to revive her, but Libby tries to intervene ("You don't touch the Teacher!") and is locked in the same bathroom as David and Victor. Libby tells them that the Teacher is taking them to the other side of the universe, but they all have to go to sleep first. Thinking that everything is going to turn out like the Heaven's Gate mass suicide, David and Victor try to find a way to escape, especially when a seemingly-cured Rebecca shows up in the bathroom and offers to take them on their trip. Meanwhile, David and Victor's boss, Capt. Newsome (Dig Wayne), and David's pregnant wife Deborah (Elizabeth Bogush), try to locate them, but the Quanta Group have people on the outside covering up the evidence. The Teacher informs our captive pair that the Earth will cease to exist in a matter of weeks and offers to "save" them. The Teacher has a "formula" ("Numbers don't lie. People do.") that proves "a rain of fire will decend from above, incinerating all life on Earth" and explains to David and Victor that the Quanta Group, made up of scientists, researchers and philosophers, are the only people that will escape the Armageddon. The Teacher has knowledge of both David and Victor's lives that he can't possibly know about and it affects both David and Victor in very different ways (Victor is a devout Catholic and David is an Athiest). Is it possible that the Quanta Group is not a cult at all, but actually humanity's last chance for survival? I'm afraid you'll have to discover that for yourself. Let's just say that the ending is a killer.  Slow-moving, yet never uninvolving, BELIEVERS is a taut tale of people who either believe or refuse to, not just about the end of the world, but also in God itself. Director Daniel Myrick (co-director of the cult smash THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT [1999] and director of the horror films SOLSTICE [2007] and THE OBJECTIVE [2007]), working with a screenplay written by himself, Daniel Noah and Julia Fair (ALIEN RAIDERS - 2008), has fashioned a religious allegory disguised as a sci-fi thriller, a modern-day take on the Rapture. Myrick keeps us guessing whether the Quanta Group and the Teacher himself are real or just another brainwashing, mind-control cult with false doomsday prophecies. The scene where Rebecca seduces and the makes love to Victor while she repeats verbatim every word the Teacher (who has a Control Room full of TV's, where he can monitor every room in the compound) whispers in her ear (thanks to a small microphone implanted in her skull) is an example of how this film plays with audiences' expectations. The Believers think that the Teacher has real powers, while the non-believers will think it is nothing but a susceptible woman hypnotizing (by proxy) a man whose will has been weakened. In the end, it all boils down to the differences in David and Victor's backgrounds and those differences play a major role in how they react to the situation. While the film is not that bloody, there are extremely uncomfortable scenes, such as when David is "purged" with a car battery. The ambient soundtrack, full of low-range rumbles, electronic blips and whispering voices, adds to the creepy atmosphere. Though not for everyone's tastes, BELIEVERS is a seriously deranged take on how religion can be used for evil as well as good and how the best of intentions can come back and bite you in the ass. Also starring June Angela, John Farley, Carolyn Hennesy and Ray Papazian. A Warner Home Video DVD Release. Unrated.

BEWITCHED (1981) - For those expecting a review about the 60's TV comedy series starring Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch who makes things happen by twitching her nose or the abortive 2005 movie remake starring Nicole Kidman: Boy have you come to the wrong place! This film is actually a nifty Shaw Brothers production directed by the always-interesting Kuei Chih-Hung, who also gave us such Hong Kong masterpieces as BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS (1973), THE KILLER SNAKES (1974), HEX (1980), CORPSE MANIA (1981) and THE BOXER'S OMEN (1983). This film opens with an on-screen scrawl (in Chinese; the film is subtitled in English) that explains that witchcraft has been practiced for centuries in the Far East; its main use being to get even with cheating husbands and boyfriends. We then switch to a family having a picnic in the woods and their food is being overrun with a larger-than-normal amount of ants. When the father pulls the blanket off the ground to find the source of the ants, he discovers the corpse of a seven year-old girl who has a huge spike driven through the top of her skull (shades of BLACK MAGIC 2 - 1976). The coroner removes the spike from the corpse girl's head and police inspector Bobby Wong (Huang Chin Shen; a.k.a. "Melvin Wong") is assigned to find her killer. A witness comes forward to say he saw a strange man in the area where the girl's body was found. So strange, in fact, that the witness jotted down the license plate number of the taxi he left in. The taxi driver informs Inspector Wong that he dropped the strange man at a temple, where the Inspector's men discover a photo of the dead girl on a spiritual tablet and that the strange man left enough money for ten years of incense burning in her honor. The Inspector notices a school badge in the girl's photograph, which leads him to the Mu Kuang School. After interviewing people at the school, the Inspector goes to the home of Lam Wai (Ai Fei), the father of the dead girl, and he is arrested and put on trial for her murder. Lam Wai explains in court that he killed his daughter because someone cast a spell on him, so the judge orders that he be examined by a psychiatrist before sentence is imposed (Lam Wai could be looking at a death sentence for his crime). The psychiatrist's report doesn't help him and Lam Wai is sentenced to hang. He asks to talk with Inspector Wong and tells him the whole sordid story, which began three months ago (flashback alert!) when he and some male friends went on an "anything goes" vacation to Nanyang, Thailand (30 years before THE HANGOVER PART II) . The married Lam Wai leaves the hotel to get a "body massage" (yeah, right!) and meets a gorgeous girl named Bon Brown (Chen Li Li; a.k.a. "Lily Chan"), who feigns an ankle injury to get Lam Wai to carry her to her apartment. Lam Wai thinks that she is a high-class prostitute (he buys her a fake diamond-encrusted "Love" necklace) and makes love to her on the beach (where she frolics topless), but he must end his vacation and return back to his life in Hong Kong. Bon Brown gives him a strange necklace to wear as a parting gift. The problem is, Bon Brown has fallen in love with him, but Lam Wai only thinks of her as a sexual conquest and brags about her to all his male co-workers (but not his wife). When he fails to return to Bon Brown on the promised date of June 30, 1981 (she writes "30-6-81" on a rock on the beach and takes a photo of Lam Wai posing next to it), Lam Wai begins suffering the supernatural consequences. At first he fails to achieve an erection when making love to his wife, but things are about to get much, much worse for him. It will all lead up to the murder of his daughter. Lam Wai begs Inspector Wong to find the spellcaster and bring the real killer to justice. Inspector Wong is about to run head-first into the Far East witchcraft culture, as he travels to Nanyang to uncover the truth. Can he save Lam Wai from the hangman's noose or will he fall victim to the deadly "Lemon Spell" (it's actually a lime, but believe me, you're going to want to see this), the "Split Head Spell", the "Raising Demon Child Spell", the "Strangling Spell" and the "Death Spell"? The moral to this story is that evil can never win over good, but you still shouldn't have casual sex. It always has consequences.  Though slow to get started, BEWITCHED steadily builds to delirious heights, such as when the necklace Bon Brown gave Lam Wai  starts leaking brown liquid on his chest, which refuses to wash off and then spreads all over his body in puss-filled boils and unwanted body hair. Add to that a young daughter who suddenly likes to eat raw meat and tries to kill Daddy on several occasions and you would think that's enough story for one film, right? Well, that's only the first half of the film, folks. The second half details disbeliever Inspector Wong's investigation, as he dovetails deeper and deeper into the supernatural subculture in Thailand; at first learning (at a lengthy spirit ceremony) that Lam Wai was put under the "Oil Of Carcass Spell". We watch (in another flashback) as this spell is performed, where a sorcerer collects the oil from a rotting pregnant woman's corpse (he sticks a needle in her foot, she sits up and the oil comes pouring out of her nose!), mixes it with live maggots and sticks the necklace the Bon Brown gave him in the liquid for three days. Inspector Wong then travels 100 kilometers up river to ask a monk and exorcist priest (Hussin Bin Abu Hassan; billed in the opening credits as "Renowned [sic] Malay Sorcerer") to remove the "Oil" and "Coffin Spell" from Lam Wai before it is too late. What we witness is an over-the-top (and downright informational) battle of the sorcerers. To say any more would spoil the surprises in store for the viewer, but director Kuei Chih-Hung and screenwriter Shih Tu An (CORPSE MANIA - 1981) pile-on weird visuals (the on-location photography is breathtaking as well as colorful), puss and maggot-spewing, some damn good wire work and even some strange creatures (including a bat statue that comes to life) to keep us wildly entertained. Highly recommended. Also starring Fanny, Liang Chen Ni and Lin Wei Tu. A Celestial Pictures VCD & DVD Release. Not Rated.

BEYOND REASON (1977) - Weird psychological thriller, directed and written by star Telly Savalas, his only stint as a director, except for a few episodes of his TV series KOJAK (1973 - 1978). Savalas is Dr. Nicholas Mati, chief psychiatrist at the criminal unit of a mental hospital, who has unorthodox methods of dealing with his patients (When the film opens, Dr. Mati is seen shooting craps in the men's room [the most logical place to play craps, if you ask me] with a group of male patients). His methods aren't popular with the higher-ups (When the Head of Psychiatry tells Dr. Mati to stop gambling with his patients, he replies, "I can't. I'm down thirty bucks!"), but he seems to get results with his patients, who have all been committed for various violent and heinous crimes. Dr. Mati has an unusually bright outlook on life, but it becomes obvious to the viewer early on that he is either losing his grip on reality or suffering from a serious medical illness. Dr. Mati begins to lose his grip on reality when the beautiful portrait of a young woman that his wife Elaine (Diana Muldaur; MANEATERS ARE LOOSE - 1978) just painted turns into a grim, colorless portrait of a hideous-looking old hag. He begins butting heads with student doctor Leslie Valentine (Laura Johnson; Wes Craven's CHILLER - 1985), who doesn't agree with his "pop psychology" approach and takes an interest in an unnamed patient of his. The questions soon become: Is Leslie real or a figment of Dr. Mati's imagination? Is the unnamed patient actually Dr. Mati? Things get downright bizarre when a man Dr. Mati has never seen before threatens to jump off the hospital's roof and someone phones Dr. Mati to talk him down. When he gets to the roof, the strange man whispers something into Dr. Mati's ear and then jumps off the roof, killing himself. When one of his prize patients dies suddenly, even Dr. Mati begins to doubt his sanity (When he tells his wife about her painting changing from beautiful to ugly, she jokingly says, "It's simple, you're crazy!", not realizing that she may not be too far off the mark), but he also thinks that someone may be trying to drive him over the edge. The rest of the film details Dr. Mati's search for the truth, but he might not like what he discovers. The audience may not either, depending on their tolerance for existential and oblique endings.  Not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, BEYOND REASON (originally titled MATI) is still an interesting, if flawed, foray into one man's descent into madness. The movie plays like one long picture puzzle, where the viewer is given small visual pieces of the puzzle to put together as the film progresses, but unfortunately, some of the pieces we are given seem to belong to some puzzle never revealed. While Telly Savalas (HORROR EXPRESS - 1973; LISA AND THE DEVIL - 1973) is good as Dr. Mati, one wonders how this film would have turned out in the hands of a more capable director. While Savalas' script isn't too bad, the look of the film is much too flat and TV-ish, like some Movie of the Week (even though it was photographed by master cinematographer John A. Alonzo). There are some weird touches, though, such as the blind begging vagrant that gives Dr. Mati change for a ten-dollar bill and some of the hallucinations in Dr. Mati's mind. Since the whole story is basically told through Dr. Mati's eyes and mind, it's hard at first for the viewer to get a grasp on what is fact or fiction, but it becomes quite clear at the film's halfway mark that the reason why Dr. Mati is such an effective (or rather, affective) psychiatrist is because he, too, is harboring some deep, dark recessive memory that is slowly coming to the forefront. The film does drag in spots, but it manages to hold interest and the final shot may or may not imply that Dr. Mati is just a figment of a criminally insane patient's imagination, which gives everything that happened before it a whole new meaning. What's more puzzling to me is why Savalas picked this story as his only theatrical directing and writing credit. He seems to be exorcising some personal demons here, although the end result will leave the viewer unclear if he is pro or con on the subject of psychiatry. Also starring Marvin Laird, Bob Basso, Douglas Dirkson, Walter Brooke, Barney Phillips, Tony Burton, Lilyan Chauvin, Toni Lawrence, Larry Golden and John Lisbon Wood. Originally released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment and not available on DVD. Rated PG.

BEYOND THE DARKNESS (1979) - This is one of five films that Elvira refused to host on the ThrillerVideo label because she was afraid it would hurt her credibility. This is the one film that Terry Levine released through his Aquarius Films distribution arm that he found "disgusting" and "beyond redemption". This is the film that many critics found "revolting", "stomach-churning" and "shower-prompting". Alfred Hitchcock supposedly said that this film gave him the "chills" just thinking about it (I don't know if that last piece is true since Hitchcock kicked the bucket in 1980). As you can surmise, this film brings out the worst in some people and it is easy to see why. It mixes perverted sex with bloody gore, incestual relationships with necrophilia and taxidermy with living forever. This horror film, by director Joe D'Amato (ANTHROPOPHAGUS - 1980), has very little gray area, so you will either love it or hate it. There is no middle ground.
     The film opens with Frank (Kieran Canter) picking up the dead body of a baboon. Frank is a professional taxidermist, as we see him carry the dead body into his workshop, which is littered with all kinds of stuffed animals. We then witness an old woman sticking needles into a voodoo doll. Frank's housekeeper Iris (Franca Stoppi; THE OTHER HELL - 1980) hopes to hasten the death of Frank's wife Anna (Cinzia Monreale; THE BEYOND - 1981) so she can have him all to herself. Anna is dying a slow death in a hospital bed (it looks like the voodoo doll is working!) and when Iris tells Frank almost too late that the hospital called (she waited to tell him when he gets out of the shower totally naked so she could see his body!), Frank rushes to the hospital, where Anna gives him a final kiss goodbye before she dies. Frank is now a shattered man and when Iris sees his face, she whips out one of her breasts for Frank to suck on! Frank doesn't believe death is final, as we watch him prepare his wife for her "new" life (he gives Anna's body a hypodermic shot to stop her body from getting stiff and rigored). The night after Anna's burial, Frank digs up her body and brings it to his workshop. He almost gets caught with her body by the police when his van gets a flat tire. After changing the tire, Frank is surprised to find female hitch-hiker Jan (Lucia D'Elia) sitting in the passenger seat. She rolls a joint while Frank reluctantly drives and Anna's hand nearly hits Jan's head when it juts out of the window of the van's partition. With Jan passed out on the front seat (that must have been some good shit!), we watch Frank carry the body of his dead wife to his workshop, where he cuts out all of her internal organs (nothing is left to the imagination), getting her prepared for the taxidermy process. We watch him take a bite out of Anna's removed heart (blood comes squirting out of one of the arteries!) and replace his wife eyes with glass ones. Unfortunately, Jan wakes up, sees what Frank is doing and screams. Frank smothers Jan, but not before removing her fingernails with pliers! He then puts Jan's body in his van (which is, appropriately, red in color). Iris also sees what Frank is doing, but instead of being repulsed, she helps Frank dress Anna's nude body (she even puts nail polish on Anna's fingernails). A friend of Frank's stops by the house to pick up the stuffed baboon, but Frank was too busy with Anna to take the time to stuff the monkey. It seems Frank's friend has another reason for being there: He was paid by Mr. Kale (Sam Modesto) to keep Frank busy while he searched the van. He picks up a cameo necklace in the van and pockets it. But what is his real reason for being there?
     Iris had already moved Jan's body from the van and we watch Frank drag her body into the bathroom, where Iris chops off Jan's head, arms and legs with a meat cleaver and put the pieces in the bathtub, which is full of acid. We see that Frank is sickened by the sight of this especially when Jan's skull pops up out of the acid with one eyeball still attached! We then watch Frank watching Iris eat. She digs into her food like a pig in slop, causing Frank to puke ("What's the matter Frankie baby, heat getting to you?"). Frank then looks at Anna's corpse and it is not looking too good, but Iris tries to get his mind off it by loosening his belt and putting her hand down his pants ("Don't worry, Frank. Iris is here.").
     Mr. Kale has hired a private investigator to get all the background information on Frank and his family (where we learn that Frank lost his parents in a car accident when he was a teen). But why does he want to know? We then see Frank jogging, following a pretty young jogger (Anna Cardini; SWINDLE - 1977) around. When he sees that she has sprained her ankle, he takes her to his house for proper medical attention. He tapes up her ankle and then they retire to the bedroom, where Frank has Anna's body on another bed. he begins to make love to the young woman, but he is not able to perform without looking at Anna, so he pulls off the blanket covering her. The young woman sees Anna's ashen corpse and screams. Frank takes a huge bite out of her neck and disposes of the corpse in his personal incinerator (Which brings up the big question: Why didn't they dispose of Jan's body the same way? It's a lot less messy!).
     A few days later, the police show up at Frank's door wondering if he has seen the jogger. Iris invites them to come inside to search the house (she even gives one of the cops a stuffed squirrel!). Iris throws a dinner party for her family and she announces that enough time has passed, as she and Frank are getting married on May 1st. This takes Frank by surprise and he goes running out of the house. We then see that Mr. Kale has broken into Frank's house and is searching his workshop. He finds nothing and then searches Frank's bedroom, but Anna's corpse is not on the bed. He hides in the attic when he hears Iris approaching and finds Anna's taxidermied body in a cabinet. He pulls a camera from his jacket pocket and takes a photo of the body. But why?
     Frank then goes to a disco and spots a lovely young woman who catches his eye. The woman notices Frank looking at her and before you know it, they end up at Frank's house, where we see the woman totally nude and taking a bath (in the same tub where Jan's body was dissolved). At the same time, Anna's twin sister, Eleanor (also played by Cinzia Monreale), pays Frank a visit and when he sees her talking to Iris, he believes his wife has returned from the dead, He quickly shows the disco woman to the door and plans on reuniting with his wife. But Iris, who will do anything to make Frank her one and only, turns out the lights and calls out to Eleanor using Anna's voice. Eleanor passes out after seeing Anna's dead body sitting on a chair, but before Iris can stab Eleanor with a butcher knife, Frank intervenes (and get stabbed in the crotch!). A seriously-injured Frank is able to overpower Iris, first taking a healthy bite out of her cheek and then stabbing her to death in the heart. He then carries Eleanor's body upstairs.  Mr. Kale arrives at the house and when no one answers the doorbell or his constant knocks, he picks the lock and lets himself in. He discovers Iris' dead body and a mortally wounded Frank standing next to the incinerator. Mr. Kale, who we learn was hired by Anna's father to find out what happened to her body when he discovered that her grave has been robbed, scoops up Anna's body and brings it to a church. A priest puts her body in a coffin and closes the lid. The film ends with the lid of the coffin flying open as it is Eleanor, not Anna, and she is very much alive!
     Many people believe that this is Joe D'Amato's (Real name: Aristide Massaccesi) best horror film and I would have to agree. It is better known in the U.S. under the title BURIED ALIVE, where it was released theatrically and on VHS under that title. Viewers were either repulsed or fascinated by this film. I have yet to meet anyone who has a middle-of-the-road opinion about it. Its themes of necrophilia and incest may have seemed taboo at the time of its release, but we have become somewhat numb to those themes, especially if we watch LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT on TV, which has used themes of necrophilia and incest in many of their story lines. But there is no doubt in my mind that this film caused a few upset stomachs when originally viewed. I saw this at the Fabian Theatre in Paterson, N.J. in 1980 and many people walked out of the theater. This was a theater in a really bad part of town, so the audience were used to violence and blood on the screen (and the Fabian was the premiere grindhouse in Northern New Jersey), but it was still surprising to me that so many people walked out. This was strong stuff, no doubt.
     As I mentioned earlier in this review, BEYOND THE DARKNESS was released on VHS by ThrillerVideo with a uncut widescreen DVD from Shriek show early in the New Millennium following. But it is the Blu-Ray & DVD from Severin Films that is the true standout here. It contains a subtitled one hour interview with D'Amato (who passed away in 1999) that is funny, eye-opening and, above all, informative. He talks about his entire career and the interview is sprinkled with some of the most notorious scenes of D'Amato's films. Also rounding out the interview are comments by Luigi Montefiori (a.k.a "George Eastman"; MONSTER HUNTER - 1981), a frequent collaborator with D'Amato, and actors "Al Cliver" (Real name: Pierluigi Conti; MAN HUNTER - 1980) & Donald O'Brien (DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. - 1980), who offer anecdotes about D'Amato that are downright gut-busting funny. I was particularly glad to hear that D'Amato thinks that his ENDGAME (1983) is his favorite film because I love that film, too. Some people may remember BEYOND THE DARKNESS for its infectious music score by Goblin (SUSPIRIA - 1977), a mix of synthesizers, guitars and drums. Another extra on Severin's disc is a 2016 live performance by Goblin of this film's theme song. Many Italian horror films "borrowed" Goblin's music from this film (The main offender being Bruno Mattei's THE OTHER HELL - 1980). Other extras on the disc include an interview with Cinzia Monreale, an interview with Franca Stoppi, a short documentary on the locations the film was shot at and the theatrical trailer. All in all, a nice package. This film deserves it notoriety, even though it may seem somewhat tame today. The screenplay, by Ottavio Fabbri, goes for the jugular and succeeds. Also starring Mario Pezzin, Walter Tribus, Klaus Rainer, Edmondo Vallini, and Simonetta Allodi as the girl in the disco. Not Rated. Re-released in 1986 under the title BUIO OMEGA ("BLUE HOLOCAUST"). According to D'Amato, this version was butchered by censors. Other films that deal with the subject of necrophilia include Alfred Sole's porno comedy DEEP SLEEP (1972; which is considered a lost film in its complete version), Jacques LaCerte's LOVE ME DEADLY (1972), Straw Weisman's DEADMATE (1988) and Jörg Buttgereit's NEKROMANTIK (1987). UPDATE: Imagine my surprise when I learned that this film is a remake of a black & white Italian film titled THE THIRD EYE (1966)! Look for a review soon.

BEYOND THE SEVENTH DOOR (1987) - Some films are so bad that they are good. It is rare to find a film that is so terrible that you can't take your eyes off the screen. This is such a film. It contains a Serbian actor who can barely speak English; he looks like the love child of Mick Jagger and Skeletor (his face looks like a skull with skin glued to it) and an amateur actress that looks absolutely professional when compared to her co-star, but would be mocked if she appeared in a professional production. Oh, and this "film" is Shot On Video (SOV)! This is basically a two character movie but, like I said, you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen. It opens with petty thief Boris (Serbian Actor Lazar Rockwood in his debut film. More on him later.) getting out of prison and chainsmoking like an industrial smokestack. He hooks up with ex-girlfriend Wendy (Bonnie Beck. More on her later also.) and comes up with a plan to rob her very wealthy wheelchair-bound employer Lord Breston. That night, Wendy lets Boris into Lord Weston's Castle, where she says she drugged her boss with sleeping pills (she even shows him the prescription bottle). Legend has it that Lord Breston keeps a fortune of money in his basement, so Boris finally picks the lock to the basement Door (Door #1) after trying several times with no success  (Bonnie says to Boris: "You're not a good thief!" to which Boris replies, "I'm getting better!"). The basement door closes and locks behind them and there is no lock to pick this time. A pre-recorded voice on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, saying over a loud speaker that Lord Breston knows they are there to rob from him ("Welcome to my chambers of terror!"). He says that they will be tested on their ingenuity and whatever they find they can keep. He gives them 20 seconds to get through the next door, as a metal door begins descending from the ceiling, which they barely make it through (Consider this Door #1.5) It leads them to a door which looks like a large combination safe (Door #2) and the voice says, "Count on your wisdom." Boris is prepared and puts some digital timer on the safe, which is supposed to give him the combination of the safe door, but it doesn't work. Wendy says, "Wait a minute, the voice said 'Count on your wisdom'" and counts the amount of letters in each word of the sentence and comes up with the combination 5-2-4-6, which opens up the door. They enter a room with large tiles, some with letters and some with skulls and crossbones on them and the recorded voice comes back on and says that the solution to this puzzle has something to do with astronomy linked to Lord Breston. Stepping on the wrong tile means death. Boris says, "Astronomy is not my strong suit. I dropped out in the tenth grade!" They first try the word JANUS and when Boris steps on the "J" tile, the wall begins to move closer to them. They then try the word "RHEA", but it also is wrong and the wall moves even closer. Wendy figures out the right word is "JUNO" and both Boris and Wendy step on the letter "O" (Door #3) which slowly descends into another chamber. (It still doesn't explain why when Boris originally stepped on the "J" tile, the wall moved in!). The recorded voice tells them that they have five minutes to solve the next puzzle, but there is no puzzle to be found and after the five minutes are up, metal spikes slowly begin decending from the ceiling which will impale the duo unless Boris figures it out (Boris yells out, "Screw you! Screw you!" to the recorded voice, like it will answer him!). Boris finally figures out that there must be a fake opening in one of the walls and begins kicking the concrete walls until he finds the fake door (Door #4) which they both get through just in time before they both become shish-kebab. It leads to another chamber and Wendy falls through a trap door in the floor (Door #5) and ends up in another chamber where there is a male corpse (Played by Canadian street performer Ben Kerr) holding a screwdriver and many pipes sticking out of the wall. Wendy grabs the screwdriver from the corpse's rigored hand and begins unscrewing a metal plate off the wall, only to find one of the screws is longer than the others. It triggers the next deadly trap, as cold water begins pouring out of the pipes, filling the chamber up with water (Wendy rips off her sexy dress and tries to plug the pipes, but, surprise!, it doesn't work.). Boris is trying to fish out an extension cord from the spiked room with a retractable metal tape meaure which he plans on throwing down to Wendy to pull her up out of the water. He finally gets the extension cord, only to discover that it is too short, so he takes off his belt and attaches it to the cord, throwing it down to Wendy. She is able to grab it as the water fills the chamber, but she weighs too much for Boris to pull her up without breaking the cord. Boris tells Wendy to hang on and wait for the water to recede (How does he know it will?) and Wendy complains that she is suffering and losing feeling in her legs. Sure enough, the water begins draining out of the chamber and Boris jumps down to join Wendy. In one of the film's most twisted scenes, Boris begins to kiss Wendy's legs and they make love (thankfully, off-screen!). We next see a shirtless Boris asking Wendy why she has to wear such a sexy outfit and Wendy replies that Lord Breston orders her to. Boris says ,"You look like a hooker. He's paralyzed from the waist-down!" Wendy snaps back, "His hands aren't!". Boris unscrews the metal plate (Door #6), which takes them to a room where a million dollars in cash is in a metal breifcase sitting on a table. The recorded voice comes back on and tells them that they can leave honest people through the unlocked 7th Door if they don't take the money. If they take the money, they will die. Wendy tries to talk Boris into not taking the briefcase, but Boris inspects the table and finds the briefcase is connected to a trip wire that leads to a bomb, so he takes a couple of bundles of cash out of the briefcase and he and Wendy walk through the Seventh Door, which takes them to an elevator to the first floor of the castle. Greed takes hold of Boris, so he gives a bundle of cash to Wendy and tells her he will be right back. He takes the elevator down to the room with the briefcase, takes off his jacket and carefully begins to fill the jacket with more bundles of cash, not realizing that the trip wire is based on the weight in the briefcase. As he takes the final bundle out of the briefcase, we hear the sound of an explosion and Boris is killed (off-screen). In a surprise turn that no one saw coming (including me), it turns out that she and Lord Breston (Gary Freedman, whom we only see from behind in his wheelchair) play this same scenario out on a regular basis. Yes, Wendy is a serial killer and she and her boss get their jollies on killing people with their ingenious traps (The corpse in the water chamber was one of Wendy's victims.). The only thing that bothers Lord Breston is when he says to Wendy, "You don't have to make love to all of them, do you?" The film ends with Wendy dialing the phone and setting up her next victim for tomorrow night (It does explain how she knew the answers to some of the difficult puzzles, though). I cant begin to to explain how awful this film is. But therein lies it's charms. Lazar Rockwood (who makes Tommy Wiseau look like Laurence Olivier) doesn't really act. He barely has a grasp on the English language, so he acts by screaming out his dialogue, chainsmoking, waving his hands around and jerking his head back-and-forth. There are no second takes in this film as we listen to Boris butcher the King's English by blowing some of his lines. You can barely understand what he is saying and it is very hard to understand why he has had a fairly healthy acting career, appearing in such Canadian tax shelter films as EXPECT NO MERCY (1995) and TIGER CLAWS II (1996), even having a semi-regular role as "Lazar" on the TNT series WITCHBLADE (2001-2002)). He is still acting today (this review was written at the end of 2017), appearing in several DTV movies and starring in the Serbian film POVRATAK (a.k.a. THE RETURN - 2017). Co-star Bonnie Beck quit acting in 1996, but not before appearing in such movies as the John Sayles-scripted WILD THING (1987), MERCHANTS OF WAR (1988) and TV series such as FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES (1989-1990). But the true mindbender here is Yugoslavian director/screenwriter Bozidar D. Benedikt, who went on to direct three more features, the obscure BROOKLYN NIGHTS (1988, starring a young Heather Graham and Rockwood), the supernatural mystery GRAVEYARD STORY (1990, starring John Ireland [his last film] and Adrian Paul) and the drama VANESSA (2007, starring Nick Mancuso) and was a religious novelist, writing such books as "Virgin World " , "Seven Days To Apocalypse " and his autobiography "They Called me Disney ". It helps explain why he hired Lazar Rockwood for his freshman English language film (Benedikt directed and wrote several Yugoslavian animated shorts in the 60's) and filling it with some laugh-out-loud moments, such as: Wendy: "You smoke like a chimney!" Boris: "I'll quit!", and other choice pieces of dialogue mentioned in this review. This is a Canadian production, filmed in Toronto, Ontario in what looks like the boiler room of some abandoned industrial building (It was actually filmed on location at the famous Casa Loma castle and in special studio-designed "chambers of terror" according to Benedikt's biography.). There is absolutely no nudity (even though Wendy takes a shower at the end of the film) or bloody violence in this film, just the corpse in the water chamber, yet this film seems so perverse, you'll have a hard time getting up to go to the bathroom because this film is so deliriously hypnotic to watch. Finally released on DVD by InterVision Pictures Corp. (A sub-division of Severin Films) in a fairly clean fullscreen print (this is video, so a widescreen print would cut out a lot of visual information). The only problem with this film (besides the film itself) is that the sound is sometimes out of synch with the actors' lip movements. It's not a deal-breaker, but you think they could have fixed it (Even the streaming version on Amazon Prime has the same problem). Just when I thought I have seen it all, this film ends up in my mailbox. Highly recommended for all lovers of bad films. Must be watched with a group of people to be fully appreciated. Not Rated.

BIG MEAT EATER (1982) - Here's something you don't see very often: A horror musical with original songs, in the same vein as THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975). Unfortunately, this micro-budgeted Canadian production is weak in every department, from the acting and mediocre original songs to all the technical aspects. The quiet town of Burquitlam may seem normal on the surface, but behind it's façade, it's a real horror show. Unbeknownst to town butcher Rob Sanderson (George Dawson), huge, hulking black stranger Abdullah (Clarence "Big" Miller) has just killed the town's mayor (by shoving his hand into the spinning radiator fan of a car) and his gangster henchman (he stuffs the body into a blazing furnace) and walks into Rob's butcher shop (Whose store's motto is "Pleased to meet you, meat to please you!") when some meat deliverymen accidentally carry the mayor's dead body into the store. Thinking that Abdullah was sent over by an employment agency, Rob slaps a butcher's smock on him and hires him as an apprentice butcher. At the same time, a UFO (a bad model on a string) lands in town and the aliens (two wind-up toy robots) revive the mayor's dead body and possess the body of young, budding scientist Jan Wczinski (Andrew Gillies). The aliens' goal: Construct a landing pad for an alien invasion and steal the contents in the pit of spoiled meat that Rob keeps beneath a trap door his butcher shop. It seems the contents are fermenting into a substance known as "Bolonium" (Really?), which is the fuel the aliens need to power their spaceships. The resurrected mayor tries to close down Rob's butcher shop to gain access to the Bolonium, only he doesn't count on the murderous Abdullah being there to stop him. Meanwhile, Jan (who, for some unknown reason, doesn't seem to be possessed anymore) has created a jet engine that runs on Bolonium, so he attaches it to the Mayor's vintage Cadillac and flies it on a collision course with the alien spaceship. The film ends on a happy note, but not once does it address the questions on every viewer's mind: Where did Abdullah come from and why does he want to kill everyone?  This pretty bad horror musical tries way too hard to make itself into a cult film and it just doesn't work. Director Chris Windsor (his only directorial credit) places the film in some alternate 1950's universe, where people wear fedoras, drive Cadillacs (the kind with the big fins) and break into song and dance to advance the plot. Bluntly put, the songs (a strange mixture of ballads, doo-wop and new wave tunes) are terrible and the lipsynching by the cast of amateur actors rarely match the lyrics on the soundtrack. Windsor (who co-wrote this mess with Producer Laurence Keane) tries to make a musical version of PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE (1959), complete with dimestore special effects and deliberate bad line readings, but you can't purposely set out to make a bad cult film. It's the audience that decides whether a film becomes a cult phenomena and BIG MEAT EATER is just too low-rent and uninvolving to register with audiences the way PLAN NINE or ROCKY HORROR did. It tries too hard to be different, as Abdullah walks around wearing a fez, a sub-plot concerning a family of Gypsies (who either warn everyone in town about the alien evil or contribute to it) goes nowhere and Rob is one of the most clueless people in film history. There are a few shots of bloody gore, but it is so cheaply done and out-of-place here, I can hardly see anyone being impressed by it. I can see what Windsor was trying to achieve here, but his results fail to hit their intended mark. On a whole, BIG MEAT EATER can't even be considered an interesting failure. It's just a failure. Also starring Howard Taylor, Stephen Dimopoulos, Georgina Hegedos, Ida Carnevali, Sharon Wahl and Heather Smith-Harper. Originally released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment and available on DVD from Koch Vision in a fairly sharp fullscreen print with a reworked Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Not Rated.

BLACK DEVIL DOLL (2007) - Director Chester Turner's BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL (1984) is one of those 80's SOV wonders which inexplicably has a huge following, not because it is a good film, but because it is the exact opposite. It is a turd of the highest order; a film that was shot (and edited) on a store-bought VHS camcorder; contains non-existant acting by a small cast of rank amateurs; has grade school special effects; has sound recording so bad that two tin cans and a piece of string would be considered a premium upgrade; and a droning, repetitive music score that was composed on a cheap Casio keyboard. Yet, it just has something that makes you sit there the entire running time slack-jawed. My opinion on why this film has achieved cult status is because jack-of-all-trades Chester Turner has turned out to be an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in total speculation. After making one more SOV film, the slightly better TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE (1987), Turner seemed to drop off the face of the Earth, which turned his life into a fanboy mystery. Those that knew him refused to talk about him (unsubstantiated rumors say that he died in a car crash or turned serial killer in Chicago, where BDDFH was supposedly filmed), making both of his films highly sought-after collector's items, even if they are really no better than spending the night on the couch at your Aunt Betty's house watching her vacation slideshow of her trip to Cancun. (UPDATE: A much-alive Chester N. Turner has been found , along with his star Shirley L. Jones, as can be seen by this photo taken in 2013 HERE.) Which brings us to this question: Why would anyone in their right mind remake this film? Well, the good news is that first-time director Jonathan Lewis and screenwriters Shawn Lewis & Mitchell Mayes have taken the original film's concept to a whole new raunchy level full of sex, body fluids, drug use and jokes so off-color, if Redd Foxx were still alive, he would have had that fatal heart attack and his last words would be, "Elizabeth, I'm coming to join you honey!" That's not to say BLACK DEVIL DOLL is a good film (it's not), but it is just different enough to merit at least one viewing. The film opens with an amusing piece of animation where BDD grabs a female member of the MPAA and fucks her doggie-style just after he butchers all the male members with a knife. The film proper then begins, as we watch a black militant prisoner fry in the electric chair and then the opening credits roll like some faux-70's blaxploitation film, with a funky, brassy music score playing on the soundtrack (by the excellent Giallos Flame; search out their soundtrack CD of the film and you won't be disappointed). High school girl Heather (the slightly plump and big-breasted Heather Murphy, who looks at least ten years too old to be in high school) gets bored and decides to mess with an Ouija Board (Will they never learn?) the same time the black militant (who raped and killed 15 white women) is being killed in the electric chair. His spirit enters Heather's white ventriloquist doll and transforms it into a black big-afroed, jive-talking, sex and drug-crazed puppet from Hell. The BDD professes his innocence to Heather (the "Man" set him up) and she instantly falls in love with him (performing oral and straight sex on him; he then goes down on her and they even take walks together at sunset!), while Heather's ex-boyfriend, White-T (Martin Boone) keeps close tabs on them. BDD soon grows tired of having one white "bitch", so he talks the infatuated Heather into getting all her other white girlfriends, Natasha (Natasha Talonz), Candi (Christine Svendsen), Buffy (Erika Branish) and Bambi (Precious Cox), to come over (We first see them all together washing a car in the driveway dressed in skimpy clothes, while BDD jerks-off and ejaculates an amazing amount of semen against a window!). After a not-so-sly endorsement for Rotten Cotton (Producer/co-scripter Shawn Lewis' tee shirt company, which also sells the DVD and posters of this film), the girls compare their boobs (lots of silicone on view) and play Twister in front of an increasingly horny BDD. Heather leaves the house and BDD proceeds to drug and rape the four girls (lots of jiggling silicone) and savagely kills them, but not necessarily in that order (instead of Nam flashbacks, he gets Black Panther flashbacks!), by knife, bathtub electrocution, baseball bat to the head and a slit throat, while Heather enjoys a burger and fries at a fast food joint. He even finds time to strangle and butt-fuck White-T ("Damn, that shit is tight!") when he comes to the house to win back Heather! When Heather returns home and sees the dead bodies of her friends ("I thought you were going to fuck them, not kill them!"), she blows several dozen holes into BDD (next to a poster of Patrick Dempsey from GREY'S ANATOMY) with a gun that seems to never run out of bullets (a really funny scene), but the she immediately gives birth to BDD Jr.!  Like I said before, this is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets positive points for at least trying to be outrageous and paying homage to several genres (blaxploitation and spaghetti westerns immediately spring to mind). Unfortunately, the terrible, amateurish acting by everyone involved (Heather's four female friends look like they were grabbed from a strip club and told they were going to be in a film), except for the puppet, and the over-reliance on flashy editing (split, triple and quadruple screens are wildly overused) drag the film down a few notches. Still, where else are you going to see a puppet eat-out a girl's ass, jizz all over another dead girl's face and then have explosive (and acidic) diarrhea? The effects are low-rent (but effective) and there is plenty of near-X nudity and sex (although I'm not a big fan of women who are more plastic than natural), so if you are in the mood for something cheap, lewd and unusual, BLACK DEVIL DOLL might be right up your back alley. All others are forewarned. A Lowest Common Denominator Entertainment DVD Release (their logo is a shit-stained toilet!). Not Rated and for many good reasons.

BLACK MAGIC RITES (1973) - Director Renato Polselli (THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA - 1960; one of the screenwriters of PSYCHOUT FOR MURDER - 1969; who is listed as "Ralph Brown" here) is either a demented genius or crazy as a loon. I still haven't made up my mind after watching this film but, either way, this isn't a film you'll easily forget.
     Four male cultists, dressed in red tights, black capes and headbands (looking more like cheap superheroes than cultists), are in the midst of sacrificing a young woman to their goddess Isabella, whose naked body is crucified before them, her body rotting with a huge hole in her chest (smack dab in the middle of her cleavage!). This is one of the strangest human sacrifices that I have ever seen in a film, as it contains jackhammer editing (by Polselli), lots of gel lighting and hardly any dialogue, just a dog howling and plenty of bongos playing on the soundtrack. The cultists carve out the young woman's heart (she is topless, with a red satin sheet covering her most private of parts) and give it to Isabella, who is without a heart (hence the huge hole in her chest). The young woman's name is Raquel and somehow her sacrifice affects Laureen (Rita Calderoni; A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY - 1968; who also portrays Isabella). When Raquel is being sacrificed, Laureen has a vivid nightmare where she is being tortured and attacked by bats. I really don't know what it has to do with the rest of the film, but maybe describing what happens  will trigger an "aha!" moment and I can make sense of it all. If not, at least you'll be just as confused as I am!
     Laureen is the stepdaughter of Jack Nelson (Mickey Hargitay; THE BLOODY PIT OF HORROR - 1965), a rich industrialist who bought Laureen an expensive piano, but the village priest (Gabriele Bentivoglio; THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK - 1974) doesn't like the sound it makes when Laureen plays it. Why? Damned if I know. Laureen is about to get married to local man Richard Brenton (William Darni). At the wedding, Jack has a flashback that takes place 500 years earlier, where his ancestor watches the superstitious locals tie Isabella to a cross and drive a wooden stake through her heart (which would explain the huge hole in her cleavage), then burning her alive, while his ancestor (also portrayed by Hargitay) screams that she will live again. Not only did the villagers accuse Isabella of being a witch, they also believed she was a vampire! Everytime Jack glances at his stepdaughter, he has the look of longing on his face, meaning he looks forward to the day that Isabella returns to life and can be in his arms once again. Laureen keeps having visions (?) of someone sneaking up behind her and rubbing their hands over her breasts and the rest of her body, Laureen reaching a climax. Is it possible she is seeing this though Isabella's eyes? Is she the "Reincarnation Of Isabel"? (An alternate title to this film, even though her name is Isabella).
     We then discover that Raquel was one of seven female friends, all of them virgins (hard to believe considering the way they look!), who have come to participate in friend Laureen's wedding. The four cultists need seven virgin sacrifices to bring back Isabella to life (or at least I think they do!). The next virgin to be sacrificed is Christa (Krista Barrymore), Laureen finding her dead naked body on the castle's stairs. At Christa's funeral, the priest tells Jack that Satan is near and he smiles, as Gerg (Bonini Marcello; SO SWEET...SO PERVERSE - 1969) shovels dirt on Christa's coffin. We then see that Christa is very much alive (or undead?), screaming and banging on the inside of her casket for someone to let her out. Gerg hears her screams and laughs (there's a lot of that in this film!), knowing that she is better off dead (or at least that's the way I think he feels). Christa's friend Mabel (Carmen Young) hears Christa's screams and tells the priest, who says she's imagining it due to her grief (she then forgets about the whole matter!).
     Laureen is kidnapped and put in a booby-trapped cage in the castle dungeon, where one of its walls has knives protruding from it and it moves closer and closer towards her. Her screams are heard by Richard, who comes to her rescue before she is turned into human shish-kebab (Jack tells Richard that she must have gone exploring in his castle's basement and did this to herself!). That night, another one of the virgins, Steffy (Stefania Fassio), tells fellow virgin Viveca (Marisa Indice) that she just saw Christa at their bedroom window and stutterer Rocha (Raul Lovecchio, listed in the credits as "Raoul"; KIDNAP SYNDICATE - 1975) enters their bedroom and seduces the both of them (but, apparently, didn't take their virginity!). A strong wind then blows open all the windows in the castle and the story really goes off the rails. Jack enters virgin Elizabeth's (Anna Ardizzone) bedroom, bites her on her neck and she enjoys it, moaning in pleasure. The cultists enter the castle (it is at this time that we discover Jack is one of the cultists) and begin sexually assaulting all the remaining virgins, but they love it. Elizabeth runs away from a laughing Jack and he chases her outside, where she meets a naked Mabel. We then see a huge wooden cross on fire, as an old woman from the village accuses Elizabeth and Mabel of setting the village's religious symbol on fire. The whole village shows up, poking sticks at Elizabeth and Mabel's naked bodies as they lie on the ground, accusing the pair of being possessed (WTF?!?). The priest says that if they are really possessed, they will not survive the "altar of fire" (Hey, have any non-possessed people survived it?). We then see both Elizabeth and Mabel burn to death in the altar of fire.
     I really can't go on.  Watching this film is akin to having a bad fever dream. All this film amounts to is scene-after-scene of grotesque or sexual imagery, none of it having anything to do with what comes before or after it. The non-linear way the story is told is very confusing, but never boring. Nearly every young women in this film spends more time out of their clothes than in them. Renato Polselli, who also wrote the screenplay, has the young actresses act aroused all the time, making it hard for us to believe they are virgins (not every virgin is sexually repressed, but you will find none of that in this film!). But he films all the lovemaking between men and women in a comical way, using fast, circus-like music during the sex scenes (making it look and sound like a Benny Hill sketch), even going as far as to show Rocha spitting out pubic hair from his mouth the entire time he is getting laid! But Poselli is a fascinating filmmaker nonetheless, using unusual camera angles to film some scenes and bathing shots in bright primary colors (which will remind you of Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA - 1977). This film may make absolutely no sense, but it is sure pretty to look at. Filmed back-to-back with Poselli's DELIRIUM (1972; look for a review soon), featuring 90% of the actors and technicians in this film. Mickey Hargitay has little to do here besides looking forlorn and laughing like an insane person.  I wonder if he ever showed daughter Mariska this film?
     Filmed as RITA, MAGIE NERE E SEGRETE ORGE NEL TRECENTO ("Rites, Black Magic And Secret Orgies Of the 14th Century") and also known under the nonsensical title THE GHASTLY (HORRIBLE) ORGIES OF COUNT DRACULA, this film never received a U.S. theatrical or legitimate VHS release, making its first appearance on these shores as an uncut widescreen DVD from Redemption Films/Image Entertainment early in the New Millennium. It was recently upgraded to Blu-Ray courtesy of Redemption and Kino Lorber. This review is based on the print I saw for free on Retromedia Entertainment's streaming site. The print, which bears the original Italian title and is in 4x3 letterbox and in it's original Italian with English subtitles. It is also uncut, but the film is interrupted every 15 minutes with a short 30-second commercial break (just like most free streaming sites). It is not a deal-breaker, though, because some of the commercials shown are interesting and surreal, like this film itself (One commercial shows two gay men, dressed as masked wrestlers, jumping on each other in bed, while the narrator tells them to get checked for AIDS!). Also starring Vittorio Fanfoni (BEYOND THE DOOR - 1974), Max Dorian, Consolata Moschera, Dunca Balsor and Cristina Perrier as "Glenda", the last of the seven virgins. Not Rated.

BLOOD DELIRIUM (1988) - This film is going to be hard to explain. Music composer Sybille (Brigitte Christensen, who spends the first few minutes topless) comes home and listens to the phone messages on her answering machine. To her surprise, one of the messages is from herself......from the future! On the message, she tells herself that they are like two flames that burn as one. While the message is playing, Sybille's piano starts playing by itself and objects start flying around the room. When her fiance, Gerard (Marco Di Stefano), comes over and she tells him what she heard and witnessed, he tells her that she's simply been working to hard and her mind is playing tricks on her. At the same time, famous painter Charles Saint Simone (John Phillip Law), known simply as "Maestro", is at his dying wife Christine's (also portrayed by Christensen) bedside. Before she dies, she tells her husband about "two flames that burn as one" and how she will come back from the dead to be with him again. After his wife's death, the Maestro goes quite mad and, for a year, he is unable to paint anything to his satisfaction. He gets the bright idea to dig up Christine's corpse for inspiration, so he and his servant, Hermann (Gordon Mitchell), who secretly pined for Christine (we see him kiss her all over her dead body during her wake a year earlier!), dig up her body and place her maggot-ridden corpse by her piano. Yes, Christine was also a composer and her last composition, titled "Delirium", echoes in the Maestro's head. The Maestro paints a mask of Christine's face, puts it over the skull of his dead wife's corpse and starts painting again, but when the mask falls off, he loses his mind even more, as he imagines that his wife is laughing at him. He ends up burning over one hundred of his valuable paintings along with his wife's corpse. Now here's when it really begins to get strange. When Sybille is playing piano at her home, a window blows open and an invitation to one of the Maestro's gallery showings blows in. Sybille goes to the gallery and as soon as the Maestro sets sight of her, he thinks his wife has come back to him. To make a crazy long story short, Sybille ends up at the Maestro's castle and is soon wearing Christine's clothes and playing Christine's music, while the Maestro (who thinks he is the reincarnation of Van Gogh) begins painting in earnest again. He still can't seem to paint what he feels (He says to Sybille, "Can you give me the color of suffering?"), but when the even loonier Hermann rapes and kills a local girl, the Maestro finds that missing element in his paintings: Blood! He hangs the murdered girl upside down and drains the body of all it's blood and uses the red stuff liberally in his paintings. When Sybille accidentally discovers Hermann cutting up the body and disposing of the parts in an acid bath, the Maestro drugs  and locks her in her bedroom. Things get weirder from here, as the Maestro runs out of blood ("I need more color!"), so he has Hermann kill one of Sybille's nosy friends. As Gerard rushes to help Sybille (he owns a two seater helicopter!), the finale finds "future Sybille" (thought the filmmakers forgot about her, didn't you?) saving both Gerard and Sybille (who are slowly being bled to death) and dropping pieces of the castle down on the Maestro (who, in keeping with the Van Gogh tradition, has cut off his own ear) and Hermann, killing them.  Of course, none of this film makes an ounce of sense, but it is so out-there and unusual, it will hold you in it's loony, hypnotic spell.  It should come as no surprise that this tale of obsession and possession was directed and co-scripted by Sergio Bergonzelli (identifed on some prints as "Peter Hudson"), who gave us the equally demented IN THE FOLDS OF THE FLESH (1970). Just like that film, BLOOD DELIRIUM is all over the map, throwing one twisted visual after another at us, whether it be Hermann's insatiable urge to fondle and kiss dead naked female bodies, the Maestro's obsession with Van Gogh or Sybille being kept drugged in a glass coffin (not to mention acid baths, which appear in both films). Also, just like in FOLDS, there's a twisted family dynamic going on, especially the relationship between master Maestro and servant Hermann. The Maestro professes his hatred of Hermann to Sybille, but the truth of the matter is one couldn't survive without the other. Both John Phillip Law (AMERICAN COMMANDOS - 1985) and Gordon Mitchell (ENDGAME - 1983) overact shamelessly (Truth be told, I've never seen either of them more animated than they are here, as they both are usually very stiff), but it suits this film like a comfortable pair of shoes on an aching pair of feet. Watching this film is like taking a short hallucinogenic acid trip, where time travel, body parts, copious amounts of nudity, necrophelia, paintings that bleed, spontaneously combust or explode, electrified doorknobs, vengeful spirits that manifest themselves as orbs of light and enough blood to satisfy the Red Cross for a month fleet across the screen and embed themselves in your brain. What more could you want? An undiscovered classic of weird cinema. Also starring Olinka Hardiman and Lucia Prato. Never released legitimately on home video in the U.S., the print I viewed was taken from a Greek-subtitled VHS tape. Not Rated.

BLOOD DEMON RISING (2012 - 2016) - Here's a pure horror film from the makers of the gore/slasher/sci-fi hybrid film SPACESHIP TERROR (2011 -2014) and just like that film, this one took four years to make, is chock-full of terrible CGI and contains some of the worst acting on this planet, yet it is fascinating to watch just for the sheer weirdness of it all. This Tacoma, Washington-lensed flick opens with the camera panning down on an obvious CGI castle, where a group of cultists gather to witness a ritual offering to the Grimises Demon (Stephen Lestat), a creature with horns protruding out of his head. The offering is a topless woman on an altar and when Grimises bites her breast and drinks her blood, he yells out, "You poisoned me!" (My guess is that the woman wasn't a virgin). The leader of the cult, James (Norman Newkirk), orders his guards to kill all of the cult members and they do so (lots of stabbings and slit throats). James decides to open the castle as a Haunted House Amusement Park for Halloween, where he plans on kidnapping female guests to satisfy the demon's thirst for female blood (Grimises demands that the women be pure and follow the Christian way!). We then switch over to the Catholic Church at the Vatican, where Father Paul (Bruce Weech) sends Father Samuel (Simone Leorin) to destroy Grimises, using the "Judas Knife". Legend has it that the traitor Judas took his thirty pieces of silver (for betraying Jesus) and melted his payment to make the knife, which was meant to be used to kill demons. It has been sitting in the Vatican for hundreds of years and now is the time to use it. At the opening of the Haunted House (where James uses mutilated bodies of his tortured victims to scare the ticket-buyers), Joanna (Ronee Collins) and Vicky (Chelsey Tillich), along with boyfriends Shawn (Logan Littlefield) and Dave (Jareth Hixon, who is simply a horrible actor), pay forty dollars for their tickets , where the female ticket-taker has her lips sewn shut and only talks with the aid of holding up signs (this part is funny as hell!). Only two people are allowed to enter the amusement park at a time, so instead of them going as a couple, Joanna and Vicky decide to enter by themselves. Big Mistake. Grimices thinks that they will be good vessels for his seed, so James goes about of leading them to a jail cell, where James has his guards strip them naked and put white robes on (White for "purity", but, shit, they have boyfriends. Does Grimices really think they are virgins?). Grimices looks at them in the cell and says, "Im the cat and you're my bird!" (Previously, Joanna is frightened out of her mind when she is almost on the losing end of the blade of a knife when it comes thrusting out of a wall. It seems that James has stabbed his wife in the mouth for talking too much and pinned her to the wall!). Grimises takes some of their blood and mixes it in with his, which creates a worm-like creature, which James puts on the women's stomachs and it enters their body through their navel. Grimices says now they are pregnant and will deliver babies within two days (!), and he will inhabit the soul of one of the infants. Meanwhile, Shawn and Dave (who, in a bid for cross-promotion, are wearing red sweat shirts with "Spaceship Terror Film Crew 2010" silk-screened on them)  go in search of their girlfriends (They see a gagged woman in a strait-jacket wiggling on a table and Shawn says, "What do you call an epileptic in a lettuce patch? Seizure Salad!" Really?). Dave and Shawn exit the amusement park without finding their girlfriends, so they try sneaking back into the castle and Father Samuel catches them and says that their girlfriends are probably home laughing at them. (Shawn unbelievably says to the priest, "You know us guys. Young, dumb and full of cum!") and wait for Father Samuel to leave. They sneak into the castle through a window and search a closet, where they see a man with a bloodied face and his eyeball hanging out of the socket, who says to the pair, "My girlfriend was kidnapped. Get the hell out of here before it is too late!" and then dies. More determined to find their girlfriends than ever, they go off and search the rest of the castle. In the film's most effective scene, the two guys run into an evil little girl holding a knife (Gabrielle Urban, the best thing about this film. She out-acts everyone else in the cast). She asks the guys "Do you like my dress? I'm going to get one that was stolen from me which I like better!" (every once in a while a CGI spider comes out of her hair and crawls on her face). When Dave asks her to give him the knife, that is just what she does, right in his leg! She runs away, killing the woman who stole her polka dot dress. Then two female vampire servants of Grimices (they are listed in the closing credits as " Female Vimpire Servents") attack and bite Shawn and Dave and Grimices is furious when he catches them doing it.  He makes them disappear in a puff of CGI smoke. We next see Dave and Shawn in the jail cell, where they see some masked cult guards walking past them. Shawn throws his Zippo at them and hits one of them on the head, but he doesn't turn around. Dave says that they are zombies and continues with "What's next, Werewolves?" The film instantly goes to James standing next to a sign on the wall that reads, "Werewolves do it doggy style"! Father Samuel meets local priest Father John (Tom Ricciardelli) at Marcia's Diner (where SPACESHIP TERROR's Yulia Hancheroff is their waitress) and Father John tells him that several prominent people in the community have disappeared. They were known to be in a cult that believed in eternal life through vampirism (earlier in the film, Grimices offered James eternal life if he did his bidding). Vicky isn't responding to the two-day pregnancy as well as Joanna is (I guess Vicky is not a virgin, but she is now a vampire!) and dies in front of Dave (his response to seeing her die should be in the Worst Acting Hall Of Fame!). Father Samuel enters the Haunted House Amusement park with his Judas Knife and new friend Mindy (Samantha Ram), because neither of them came with a friend and the amusement park only allows two people at a time to enter. Mindy is whisked away for Grimices food and Father Samuel hides out in the castle when the amusement park closes. (James gives everyone five minutes to vacate the castle and when he runs into a couple that are late to leave, he strips the woman topless and chops her up into pieces with a hand axe [Shown as shadows against the wall]. The man has a hot poker shoved in his eye and then has his tongue cut out [not shown as shadows against the wall]). We then see Joanne deliver her baby (which actually looks like a six-month old baby boy!), as Father Samuel, dressed as a cult member, pulls out his Judas Knife and stabs the Grimices Demon, killing him (it is done so matter-of-factly, with absolutely no fight whatsoever). To make sure the Grimices Demon's soul doesn't enter the baby's body, Joanna kills the baby with a sword (!) and all of Grimices' followers die, except for James. The film ends with James meeting the evil little girl (who is now wearing a bloodied polka dot dress) and she wants to know if she can join James on his trip to the Netherworld. James says, "Yes, I love little girls!" and we see the little girl's actual face (another bad bit of CGI) THE END. Director/co-producer/screenwriter/editor Harry Tchinski has once again made a film that should have failed miserably, but it is so "out there", you can't help but watch and enjoy it. Everything that I hate, including bad CGI (done by Tchinski), horrible acting and bare-bones sets, should make this a loser for me, but Tchinski somehow manages to make this film an enjoyable ride. Just like in his previous film, wife Wendy Tchinski and Doug Hudson supply better-than-average physical effects and the music score, by Eric Bridenbaker, is better than it has any right to be. Fans of weird cinema will want to search this one out. I saw BLOOD DEMON RISING for free on Amazon Prime. If you are a Prime member, look for it. Also starring Ronda Olshefski and Tiffany Black as the topless "Female Vimpire Servents", John Bunn as the eyball hanging man in the closet and Angela Garner as Shawn's ex-girlfriend Becky, who Shawn sees all bloody and begging him to let her out of a cage, but he thinks she is part of the Haunted House exhibit, so he just waves his hands and says, "Bye, Bye. Remember that I wasn't good enough for you."! Self distributed on Blu-Ray and DVD by Harwen Entertainment (a combination of Harry and Wendy's first three letters of their names) and Indie Rights Movies at the end of January 2017. Self-Imposed R Rating, but this was never submitted to the MPAA.

BLOOD JUNKIE (2010) - After watching director/jack-of-all-trades Drew Rosas' second feature-length film, the baseball-themed horror flick BILLY CLUB (2014), which I liked immensely, I just had to see his first film, which is this one, and I'm glad to say that it's a great little horror movie that just reeks of 80's horror film nostalgia. It's ultra low-budget, but the film is a grand watch.  First the bad news: It's a Troma DVD release which means we have to put up with one of Lloyd Kaufman's unskippable insipid openings, this time with a laughing Debbie Rochon and it offers nothing about this film because it isn't about the film. Every time the film's title is mentioned, there's always something covering Kaufman's and Rochon's mouths, so the opening could be about any film. Just add another voice to dub a different title. It's the nadir of openings and Rochon looks stoned to the gills. Now the good news: For once, Troma decided to show the film in widescreen (although not anamorphic, so you'll have to fiddle with your HD TV's settings) and it looks great. How many times have you heard that about a Troma DVD (especially one before 2013)? This film was shot under the title ROCKY TRAILS, but when Troma acquired it, they changed the name to a more exploitative title and for once it actually fits the film. America's Dairyland, 1989 (actually filmed in Wisconsin, so the opening crawl is true): A father and his son Andy (Brady Cohen) are driving down the road when they pass a long-haired, bandana-wearing hitch-hiker carrying a backpack and a plastic jug of water. The camera switches to the hitch-hiker, as he walks down the road and then into the forest, where he spots an abandoned chemical factory and decides to spend the night there (It is in real-life a no-longer-on-use glue factory that was cleaned out and Rosas had to get the owner's permission to film there when cops caught him scouting-out the place. Luckily he got permission, because the building is a character unto itself.). The hitch-hiker scopes out the place, which is large and empty, so he decides to stay there for the night, breaks a wooden chair and builds a small fire inside to keep him warm when he sleeps. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Just as he is eating a can of beans he cooked over the fire, a creature (Andrew Swant) wearing a gas mask (the kind with a long tube that juts-out the mouth area) suddenly attacks him and drags him away screaming. We then see Andy watching TV , as he switches channels and we can spot scenes from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and NOSFERATU (1922; pay close attention to what Andy is watching before he starts switching channels). We then see Rachel (Emily Treolo) getting dressed in 80's workout gear (It must be mentioned that the stunt boobs were supplied by Kelly Cunningham), which includes a leotard and head and wristbands and watches and exercises to a workout VHS tape hosted by Billy The Butt (Bobby Ciraldo). Andy is all alone in the house, when his sister Laura (Sarah Luther) comes in and reads a note from her parents, saying they are going away for the weekend and want Laura to take care of Andy for the weekend. They also leave $35.00 on the counter, so Laura calls up best friend Rachel and wants to know how much booze $35.00 will buy. Rachel stops her workout routine and says she'll be right over. We then see Craig (Nick Sommer) waking up his best friend Teddy (Mike Johnson) and try to think of something to do for the weekend, but first Craig hits on Teddy's mom (Carrie Hitchcock), who warns Craig that one day she may take him up on his offer (and she probably would!). Craig is a wise-ass, but he is harmless; just your typical 80's teenage best friend. Laura and Rachel go to the local liquor store and Rachel uses her sexy charms on nerdy clerk Wade (Ryan Plato) to buy some alcohol, even though they are both underage. It works and as they are walking out the liquor store carrying bottles of booze, Craig approaches them after seeing Rachel at work with Wade. Craig and Teddy invite them to a camping party, but Laura has to watch Andy for the weekend. Rachel convinces Laura to bring her little brother with them because she thinks the guys are cute. Laura agrees and she and Rachel head for Laura's house. (Craig makes fun of Wade, saying he will never get laid and makes him smell his finger!). When Laura gets home, Andy is outside burning ants with a magnifying glass and she bribes him $5.00 to come with them to the camping party and makes sure Andy has his lies down straight should their parents ask him what they did for the weekend. Craig and Teddy pull up to Laura's house in a paneled station wagon. Craig makes a wise-ass remark and Laura shoots back, "Hey, my Grandmother has a car just like that!" They all drive to the abandoned Rocky Trails Campgrounds, where there are still buildings standing, but the quartet decide to set up tents and camp outside instead (Going to a campground is never a good idea in the 80's. Especially if it is deserted.). Just like every 80's horror flick that takes place in the woods, they all sit around a campfire at night and Craig tell a story about a local horror legend (We all know that legends are usually based on facts blown out of proportion). Craig tells everyone about a "man-beast" who would suck the blood out of the local livestock. He would just take enough blood to leave the livestock alive so it could return later and repeat the procedure. This man-beast is supposed to be the missing night guard at the nearby the chemical plant (the one we saw the hitch-hiker in), where there was a horrible chemical accident decades earlier and the night guard's body was never found. Could that be the gas mask creature we saw attacking the hitch-hiker? Teddy and Rachel take a hike to the Rocky Trails Headquarters, which is still standing. Rachel discovers a newspaper dated "Nov. 1956" (funny how no day is mentioned) which tells the complete story about the deadly chemical plant accident where a body was never found (terrific editing by Rosas here). They leave the building because Rachel becomes freaked out. Craig passes out drunk on Laura, while Teddy and Rachel make love (Teddy tells Craig the next day that he got to "third base") in the back of the station wagon (Kelly Cunningham's stunt boobs again). Morning comes and Andy goes on a short hike of his own, fashioning a spear with a stick and a pen knife and impaling a frog on it (how it was done without actually hurting the frog can be read on IMDb). He hears Laura call for him, so he throws the bloody spear away and goes back to camp (Andy has a unique obsession with death.). Craig is still passed-out drunk and Teddy is still worn-out, so Rachel, Laura & Andy go on a hike on their own and find the abandoned chemical plant. They all go inside and see how immense it is, but Laura is "creeped-out" and leaves to go back to the campsite with Andy, while Rachel stays behind to take photos inside with her Instamatic camera. Well, I guess we know who the next victim is. Rachel walks through the darkness and is attacked by the gas mask-wearing creature. We hear her screams, as Laura and Andy make it back to the camp and Craig and Teddy decide to go looking for Rachel (Laura wants them to leave the car keys with her, so Craig hands them over, making another wise-ass remark about Laura stealing the car). Laura wants to go for a swim, so before the guys leave the camp, Craig climbs a tree to watch Laura strip to put her bathing suit on (My God, she has the hairiest bush I have ever seen in a movie! I wonder if Kelly Cunningham was the "stunt bush" in this film, too?). The guys then leave and make it to the abandoned chemical factory, go inside and yell for Rachel ("This place is dead!"), but the gas mask creature is actually at the campsite attacking Laura. Andy buries a machete into the creature's back and Laura and Andy get into the car, but the creature pulls Laura out of the driver side window and injects the back of her neck with something in a hypodermic needle. While the gas mask creature has Laura tied up and is taking her by wheelbarrow back to the chemical plant, Laura's eyeglasses slip off and fall to the ground. Andy follows the creature, while Teddy finds an empty hypodermic needle on the floor of the factory and Craig says, "Junkies, man...junkies!". They leave the abandoned factory and, while walking back, Teddy finds Laura's eyeglasses and Craig says she can't see a thing without them, so they head back to the chemical plant after discovering that the station wagon is damaged. I'll leave the final 15 minutes for you to discover because it is too good and unexpected to give away. I had to watch the film twice to get all the subtle clues, because never in a million years will you guess the ending.  Both of director/producer/screenwriter/editor (and about a half dozen other duties behind the camera) Drew Rosas' films have terrific surprise endings, which makes me want to call him the "Low-budget M. Night Shyamalan", but only in Shyamalan's early career. Rosas does a great job giving the film that 80's vibe (especially the music, which Rosas also contributed to), as the guys wear acid-washed jeans or those short-shorts that show your balls, play games on an Atari 2600 gaming system, both Craig and Teddy sport those half-full mustaches that were so popular back then (unlike those thick 70's porn mustaches), have Winger and a "Rock Or Die" posters on Teddy's bedroom wall and one of them dons a Ronald Reagan mask during an 80's montage sequence (one of the most over-used techniques in 80's films of all kinds and Rosas edits it perfectly). Not to mention the awful hairstyles from both sexes of the period. If you are old enough, you will be impressed how well Rosas nails the period (especially how important VHS and music cassettes were in our daily lives). It's one of the best 80's films made in the New Millennium. The blood and gore doesn't kick-in until the final 15 minutes and some of the stuff goes way beyond R-Rated material (and it's all physical), but I'm not going to give anything away (Except to say that the hose on the gas mask is used for more than just breathing). The gas mask killer actually does have a valid reason for being in this film, but like I said before, I'll leave it for you to discover. And once you do discover it, you will be asking yourself all sorts of questions. Very valid questions. A great way to spend 72 minutes of your life, once you get past the idiotic Lloyd Kaufman opening. Many of the actors in this film (including a fully-clothed Kelly Cunningham) would later appear in Drew Rosas' BILLY CLUB (2014; co-directed by this film's star Nick Sommer), another film that has that 80's atmosphere. I hope he doesn't wait four years between films. This guy has more than enough talent to spare and all of the actors are fantastic. You'll actually think you're back in the 80's if you lived through it. And man, that ending! Also featuring Anne Killelea, Chris Chuzles as the hitch-hiker and TJ Richter as the face of the creature without the gas mask. A Troma Entertainment DVD Release (It contains Rosas' first short film, PLASTIC FANGS [2005], deleted scenes and his running commentary during the film). I managed to pick up the DVD for a measly $5.98 from Not Rated.

BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR (1964 - 1967) - Technically, this was director/producer Al Adamson's first film, originally made as a criminal heist film with actor Roy Morton (his only other acting credit is as a rapist in the 1972 film FUZZ) as the star, but he and friend Samuel M. Sherman (who were yet to form Independent International Pictures) were unable to sell it to any distributor. The next year, Adamson added scenes (with John Carradine), changing the film into a science fiction flick and called in PSYCHO A GO-GO (1965), but he and Sherman were still unable to get any distributor interested in it. A couple of years later, Allied Artists approached Adamson and Sherman to see if they had any color horror films to purchase for a package being sold to TV, so Adamsom shot still more footage to the film (adding Tommy Kirk, Regina Carrol and Kent Taylor to the cast), making it a zombie/mad scientist film and sold it to Allied Artists under the title THE MAN WITH THE SYNTHETIC BRAIN (1967), with some violent scenes edited out. Adamson and Sherman had formed Independent International Pictures by then and decided to add some more violent scenes to the film to the version they sold to TV and called it BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR (1967), where it had a very limited theatrical release in 1967 and then a much wider theatrical release in 1971 (Actually early January of 1972, but the copyright on the film under the title was listed as 1971. Sherman was anal about making sure none of his films fell into Public Domain and always re-registered their copyrights. He still owns most of the films today and makes money off them. More small budget label owners during this time period should have followed Sherman's lead. They would have a lot more money in their pockets today!). It was usually paired with Adamson's piecemeal film HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS (1965/1970) and was a financial success for both Adamson and Sherman. I went into this film with more than a little trepidation, but it is is rather interesting and entertaining considering its history.  Since this is a Troma DVD, I expected the usual lousy unfunny videotaped cold opening by Lloyd Kaufman (who always looked like he is reading the information off cue cards for the first time), but this one actually opens with Sam Sherman dragging two plastic bags, which he says are the body parts of critics who hated the film. He then goes into a short, funny history (He tells us not to fall asleep for five minutes, because when we wake up, we will think another film is playing!) of the making of the film (he says the first incarnation was a hit in Pakistan!) and the movie begins (Sherman also does a feature-length commentary track, so you can learn all you need to know about this film and Sherman's life as a film distributor). Since this is a Troma DVD, the print is in fullscreen (but it looks excellent, especially coming from Troma) and we see a facially-deformed zombie named Akro (Richard Smedley; Adamson's BRAIN OF BLOOD - 1971), killing a prostitute, her john and two police detectives by crushing their necks with his strong hands and arms (Akro does something to the last detective's body offscreen and we will soon learn what it is). The Police Commissioner calls Sgt. Cross (Tommy Kirk; STREETS OF DEATH - 1987) and wants these murders (there were more before the film began) solved immediately. Sgt. Cross then gets a package addressed to him at police headquarters and when he opens it up, there is the decapitated head of the last murdered detective inside (he was Sgt. Cross' friend) and also a note (each letter pasted from a headline in a newspaper), which says "All Will Die For Corey". Sgt. Cross remembers the Corey case, where Joe Corey (Roy Morton) returned from Vietnam almost brain dead with a shell fragment lodged in his cranium. Dr. Howard Vernard (John Carradine) operated on Corey, but he said he could not save him, declaring him dead and signing his death certificate (Don't you believe it!). We then go to the 1964 footage, where Joe Corey and two associates rob a half million dollars in a jewel heist (They are dressed in medical garb with surgical masks hiding their faces). After changing into civilian clothes in a closet, they take the elevator down to the first floor, but before they are able to make it, one of the tied-up female workers hits the alarm button and one of the gang members panics, goes to a roof and throws the case carrying the jewels into the back of a white pickup truck owned by construction worker David Clarke (Kirk Duncan; SECONDS - 1966), before a cop shoots him. Corey comes through the door, knocks out the cop and shoots his partner dead, laughing maniacally. David gets in his truck and unknowingly drives away with the loot; a woman in another car following him home (she's not the getaway driver because we see Corey and the other member get picked up in a van). Lt. Frank Ward (Joey Benson; GALLERY OF HORROR - 1967) pays Dr. Vanard a visit, because he signed Corey's death certificate, but his prints are all over the crime scene. For reasons only known to Adamson and Sherman, Corey kills a secretary working at David's construction company with a letter opener so he can get David's address. Corey and his gang drive to David's home (Including the woman we saw following David home. Couldn't she have simply given Corey the address rather than him kill an innocent person? The mind boggles.), where Corey beats the crap out of David asking him where the half-million in jewels are. David has no idea what they are talking about, so Corey discovers that David has a divorced wife named Linda (Tracy Robbins) and a young daughter named Nancy (K.K. Riddle) and go looking for them (Nancy saw the bag of jewels when her father drove home). Lt. Ward return to Dr. Vanard's office when Vanard calls him and says he needs to see him. He tells Ward that he built an artificial component to replace the part that was damaged in Joe Corey's brain, but it turned him into a psychopathic killer with no sense of right or wrong. Lt. Ward calls Dr. Vanard the killer and tells him that he will be returning to arrest him after he gets charges from the District Attorney. Joe Corey goes to the lounge where Linda works as a singer, but the bar floozy says Linda and her daughter took the bus to Lake Tahoe for a short vacation. Corey strangles the bar floozy in her apartment just for shits and giggles ("So long, honey!"). Corey then visits Dr. Vanard, straps him vertically to a table, puts a metal cap on his head and electrocutes him until his whole lab explodes (this is the last of the 1965 footage). We are now back to the 1967 footage, where Sgt. Cross says there is only one person still left alive in the Joe Corey case: him. He is paid a visit by Dr. Vanard's daughter, Susan (Regina Carrol; Adamson's THE FEMALE BUNCH - 1971; she was Adamson's wife from 1972 until she died of cancer in 1992 at 49 years-old; Barney Gelfan, who appears as a detective in this, and appears in many other Adamson films, was her father), who says she flew in from France because she is a psychic and some kind of telepathic force has sent her here. It seems Joe Corey has a father, Dr. Elton Corey (Kent Taylor; Adamson's GIRLS FOR RENT - 1974; his last film), who is a master of voodoo and created Akro to get rid of all those responsible for his son's death. Susan is his next intended "victim" and she gets a message to meet Dr. Corey, so she phones the police department and tells Sgt. Pete Grimaldi (Arne Warde; Adamson's ANGELS' WILD WOMEN - 1972) where she is going to be. Dr. Corey kidnaps Susan and when Pete gets there, Akro kills him, even after Pete empties his gun into him. Before he dies, Pete is able to write a license plate number on the pavement using his own blood and Sgt. Cross follows up on it. Dr. Corey plans on turning Susan into his newest zombie ("Joe's last days were spent as a hunted mad animal!") because he says that Akro is deteriorating and will not last much longer. Dr. Corey has a serum to turn people into zombies and an antidote to change them back to normal. We then go back to the 1964 footage, where Joe Corey is in Lake Tahoe, but he doesn't know "the entire police force from California to Nevada" are looking for him (Well, that is true, if Lt. Ward and Linda's ex-husband David can be considered the "entire police force"). Linda and Nancy are taken hostage by Corey and his partner, but Linda swears she knows nothing about stolen jewels. That just leaves one other person: Nancy, who has stuffed all the jewels in her doll (which, in a very unusual twist for 1964, is black). When Corey tries to rape Linda, his partner intervenes, but Corey shoots him in the heart. Linda and Nancy (with her doll) steal Corey's car and drive away, so Corey carjacks a vehicle on the highway and begins to follow them. Linda and Nancy are forced to hoof in in the snow when the road is blocked, with Corey not far behind. Lt. Ward and David show up where the cars are parked and try to catch up with Corey and the couple. Just as Corey is about to kill Linda and Nancy and steal the doll, Lt. Ward and David show up. Corey is about to crush David's head with a rock when Lt. Ward shoots Corey in the face and he falls down a ravine. Back in 1967, a detective breaks into Dr. Corey's lab, but Akro kills him. Dr. Corey injects Susan with the zombie serum and she turns into a horribly disfigured hag zombie with a fright wig. Akro, who knows he is dying, crushes Dr. Corey to death, but while doing so, breaks the vial containing to only available antidote (Akro is seen on the ground licking the spilled liquid). When Sgt. Cross finally arrives, everyone but Susan is dead, but now she looks normal (Huh?). The incomprehensible finale shows blood dripping on Dr. Corey's photo, while Sgt. Cross calls for backup. THE END.   It's obvious that Al Adamson used different film stock for every scene he added over the years, but for a piecemeal film, it makes more sense than others (The head-scratching finale excluded). You will also notice the changes in clothing and hair styles from year-to-year (Roy Morton sports a flattop haircut, which was popular among men in the early 60's and other women sport beehive hairdos). While there are plot holes aplenty (name me an Adamson film that doesn't; the screenplay for this stitched-togethered film was written by Dick Poston [THE JESUS TRIP - 1971] and Chris Martino [the film's uncredited Second Unit Director] from a story by Adamson and Sherman), there's an air of sleaziness that permeates the film, something unusual for a film of this vintage(s). Besides the head in the box. the secretary's stabbing and Joe Corey getting shot in the face (all shot for the theatrical version), the film is practically bloodless, but you'll have fun spotting which footage was shot in each year (Cinematography by Louis Horvath [STRANGE BEHAVIOR - 1981; STRANGE INVADERS - 1984] and late Academy Award® winner Vilmos Zsigmond [CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND - 1977]). I'm not saying that this is a good film because it isn't, but its production history should make it must-viewing for people to learn on how to never give up. Sooner or later your work will be shown. Every version of this film, except for the complete 1964 version, has been released on home video, each one of them with a different plot. Stick with the final version. It offers more blood than the other versions. I consider Al Adamson to be a trash filmmaker, but he owned it and was proud to keep churning them out until there was no longer a demand for them. He made films in nearly every genre (biker, horror, science fiction, Westerns, comedy, action, etc) and, while they are nothing extraordinary, Al Adamson was. His career and murder would make a great film in the vein of ED WOOD (1994) and you really have to watch his CARNIVAL MAGIC (1982), which is basically nothing but an E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) rip-off, replacing an alien with a talking chimp! Originally released on VHS by Super Video, who specialized in releasing Sam Sherman's Independent International's films and then on DVD by Troma Team Video in 2001 (the disc also contains the film's original theatrical and TV trailers, along with more trailers of Adamson's films). There still hasn't been a widescreen version released yet (the print on the Troma disc seems to be shot dead center and not pan-and-scanned, as faces are cut in half in many frames and it looks like they are talking to no one), so never say never. Also starring Tanya Maree; John Armond, Lyle Felice, John Talbert, Bob Dietz and J.P. Spohn (also an Associate Producer) as the head in the box. The Troma DVD is long OOP, but I managed to buy one at for less than $5.00. Originally Rated GP and then PG.

THE BLOODSTAINED LAWN (1973) - Here's a weird one, an Italian genre film that contains science fiction, mystery and detective elements in one totally strange stew, full of nudity, voyeurism, surprises and...robots! Yes, this film is off the wall, verging on insanity, yet you'll find yourself not wanting to take your eyes off the screen, hoping to find out what all this craziness is all about. I am happy to report that attentive viewers will be richly rewarded, as the finale will answer any questions you may have.
     The film opens with a nameless UNESCO Agent (Nino Castelnuovo; PSYCHOUT FOR MURDER - 1969) stealing a box of wine from a truck delivering liquor to a local wine distillery, finding a blood-like substance in one of the bottles. We don't know what he is hoping to find, but he tells his boss that thousands of people disappear in Italy every year without any of them leaving a trace. We then see Alfiero (Claudio Biava; KILLERS ARE CHALLENGED - 1966) picking up an assortment of people in his car, including a drunk (popular Italian singer/musician Lucio Dalla), a prostitute (Dominique Boschero; LIBIDO - 1965), a Gypsy (Barbara Marzano; THE BLOODSUCKER LEADS THE DANCE - 1975) and a couple of drifters, Max (Georg Willing; WHO SAW HER DIE? - 1972) and his nameless lover (Daniela Caroli) and driving then to the palatial home of his sister Nina (Marina Malfatti; ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK - 1972), who walks with a limp, and her eccentric inventor husband, Dr. Antonio Genovese (Enzo Tarascio; THE DEAD ARE ALIVE - 1972). We can see from the very beginning that all these people are at this house for reasons that are deadly, especially when Nina (whose mantra seems to be "Only money brings happiness") starts questioning them, asking if they have any family that will miss them and if anyone knows they are here. There is also a weird robot-like structure in the middle of the living room, which Nina wants them to ignore, but Antonio seems very proud of. Antonio, who wears outrageously large bowties (a good gust of wind could send him airborne!), is an inventor, hoping to create the "perfect man" and his laboratory is full of strange inventions, which seem to meld human body parts with mechanical devices, forming one unit. It is clear that Antonio is off his rocker, but is there more to him than meets the eye?
     That night, all of them retire to their bedrooms, where Max and his girlfriend smoke some hashish and get frisky with each other, when the drunk enters their bedroom unannounced and says that everyone in this house is strange (he isn't kidding!). Max goes to the hallway to investigate and spots the Gypsy tied up in her bed, Alfiero telling him it is for her own benefit, as she is an epileptic and doesn't want her to harm herself (really?). The next morning, Nina and Alfiero tell the guests (except for the Gypsy, who isn't there, Nina telling them she left the night before) to go through a strange door, shaped like a large vagina (!) and they go through it (I almost busted a gut laughing!) and end up in a room full of distorted mirrors. Music begins to play and everyone begins dancing. Max, his girlfriend and the prostitute open a bottle of champagne and then begin to strip naked, while Nina Alfiero watch and Antonio fondles the prostitute's naked body. It's obvious that the champagne was drugged, because Max, his girlfriend and the prostitute pass out. Max and his lover wake up to a scream and discover that the Drunk is now missing. Max's squeeze notices that the robot-like structure was missing from the living room the night before, but now it is back, blood on one of its metal claw-like arms.  Max and his girlfriend want to leave the house, but all the doors and windows are locked, so they go down the spiral metal staircase to the basement to look for another way out. Max discovers plenty of empty wine bottles and discovers one of the bottles has the red blood-like substance, sniffing it and telling his girlfriend it is an "organic substance". They search the basement and find a closet full of canned tomatoes and discover Alfiero closing boxes of wine rather than opening them. Thinking something sinister is going on, they try to escape and find a walk-in freezer full of dead naked bodies, including that of the Gypsy and the Drunk. Alfiero enters the freezer carrying an assault rifle and escorts the couple out of the basement. Meanwhile, the UNESCO Agent gets closer to discovering the truth, questioning a wine truck driver who gives him an important clue about Dr. Antonio Genovese.
     While Max and his girlfriend watch, we then see the prostitute tied naked to a table, while Antonio examines her, saying to Nina and Alfiero, "Group 'A' is the most common, but the girl is a 'B'. Very rare!" The prostitute thinks it's going to be a gangbang, but she has a surprise coming. A deadly surprise. The giant robot-like structure enters the room under Antonio's control, its tentacle-like arm impaling the prostitute's neck and begins draining her of all her blood, which is collected in a glass jar, killing her slowly. The prostitute looks to Max and his girlfriend for help, but they can do nothing, as they watch her skin turn to ashen gray and the table then opens up and lowers her body into the basement freezer, another victim of the trio's deadly business. But what is it?
     Max, who for some unknown reason begins talking in English (!), screams out to Nina, Alfiero and Antonio, "You're crazy! Crazy!" Nina then says that the "wine" will leave on their yacht as planned, the destinations being the Orient, Vietnam, Bolivia and "Wherever there are wars and injured people. Blood is worth a lot. More than oil or gold. And it's needed to save the lives of those who can afford it." That's right, Nina collects "worthless people"; prostitutes, drunks, gypsies and drifters and has Antonio drain them of their blood using his unique invention, selling their blood to the highest bidders (I think this is the first time I ever heard of this. Human organs, yes, but blood???). Max then screams out, "Fuckin' Fascists!" and is knocked out.
     Max's girlfriend is the next to be drained of blood, but the UNESCO Agent rings the doorbell and shoots and kills Alfiero. Nina tells Antonio that she should have killed him, when the robot kills her seemingly on its own, without Antonio's help. Maybe he actually did merge man and machine after all, but he'll never be able to enjoy it in prison, as he tells the Agent, "Mortality is a myth of the past!" The film ends with Max and his girlfriend hitchhiking down a highway. Have they learned nothing?
     They don't get much stranger than this folks (the Drunk tries to drink his booze through his eye!). If you are wondering the meaning of the film's title, it comes early in the film when Max and his squeeze are hitchhiking. His girlfriend notices a field of beautiful red flowers and Max turns to her and says, "It looks like a bloodstained lawn." This film is full of symbolism, especially Antonio's laboratory, where we see all his strange inventions, most of them dealing with the merging of human appendages with mechanical devices. I really don't know what was on director/screenwriter Riccardo Ghione's mind, but I'm sure it's a political statement about how those with money feel they are superior to those without it or how the aristocracy is more important than the common people, using them to feed their own corrupt souls. It should come as no surprise that none of the captives, besides Max, are given proper names, as they represent the "common people' (although we do learn later in the film that the Gypsy's name was "Venamina"). Ghione (who passed away in 2003) only directed four features, the others being sex comedies or romantic dramas, none of them even coming close to this film's weirdness. And, boy, is this film weird! From the vagina door to the bedrooms with windows in the doors, you will not see a stranger house in film history. Every room tells a story, some overt and some deeply hidden. Couple that with the weird robot on view and you have a film that is recommended to those with an open mind. Chock full of full frontal male and female nudity, with a smattering of bloody violence, this film is bound to please those who want something strange and perverse to watch for a night. The only other film of note Ghione was involved with is the obscure BELLE DA MORIRE ("Too Beautiful To Live" - 1992), a softcore sex/giallo flick, in which he was one of the screenwriters.
     Shot as IL PRATO MACCHIATO DI ROSSO ("The Lawn Is Stained With Red"), this film never received a theatrical release or home video release in any format in the United States. It also has never been dubbed into English. I saw a nice widescreen print in its original Italian with English subtitles on YouTube (I'm still trying to figure out why Max switches from talking Italian to English!), the only place I could find to view it. I seriously doubt this will ever get a legitimate release in the U.S., mainly because it is so obscure and outright weird for weirdness sake. While I enjoyed it immensely, some others may think it to be a tough slog to get through. If your mind is in the right place, you may enjoy it, too. The Italian ad mats that were use to advertise this film "borrowed" the artwork from Ted V. Mikel's THE ASTRO ZOMBIES (1968)! Not Rated.

BLOODSTREAM (1985) - This shot-on-super 8mm horror flick comes courtesy of director Michael J. Murphy, Britain's answer to Ted V. Mikels. Murphy has directed dozens of films, including the 47 minute infamous video nasty INVITATION TO HELL (1982) and it's 50 minute VHS partner THE LAST NIGHT (1983), followed by such titles as THE HEREAFTER (1983), DEATH RUN (1987), MOONCHILD (1989); SKARE (2009) and others so obscure, they don't even have an IMDB listing. There's a good reason for that. Many people find Murphy's films so sloppy and slow-moving (not to mention cheap) that they could tax the patience of a dead man. While I somewhat tend to agree with that assessment, Murphy does show a spot of intelligence and downright meanness every now and then. BLOODSTREAM opens interestingly enough, with a screaming man jumping out of his car and running through the woods while the flesh peels away from his body, eventually turning him into a bloody skeleton. It is then revealed that it's a VHS tape being watched at the office of B-movie czar William King (Mark Wells) and he's not happy with the results. He rips up the tape and fires the film's director, Alistair (Patrick Olliver), telling him he will never work in the film business again, before having him thrown out of the office by King's yes-man (and brother-in-law) Simon (Steven Longhurst). In reality, King (whose office walls are plastered with posters of his reel-life films, with titles such as SUCKED TO DEATH and AWAKEN ZOMBIE) really likes Alistair's film, but he is such a greedy bastard that he wants to keep the film's eventual profits all to himself. A dejected Alistair goes home and watches a series of horror films (possibly his own?) on TV where people are torn apart by zombies, axed in the head by a masked serial killer or have their head crushed by a mummy. While King is making a fortune selling rights to Alistair's film BLOODSTREAM around the world, Alistair snaps when he is informed by King's guilt-ridden secretary Nikki (Jacqueline Logan) as to what King is up to. With Nikki's help on the inside, Alistair begins his revenge spree, using the killings in the horror films he watches as a blueprint for his real-life murders. Dressed as the Grim Reaper, Alistair films his murders, beginning with actor Greg (David Slater), who has a barbell dropped on his neck (after dropping a 20 pound weight on his balls!). King's daughter Lisa (Samantha Page) is next, electrocuted in her bathtub and then stabbed with a sword. Simon is next in line, shot with a pistol and getting his hand and head cut off with an electric chainsaw (In a tasteless sequence, Simon's dog is tied to a tree, doused with gasoline and set on fire.). King's wife, Sally (Wendy Young), then has her throat cut with an electric knife. King's mistress, Judy (Catherine Rowlands), is tied to a chair and stabbed in the mouth with a butcher knife. King is then forced to watch Alistair's newest film, containing all the bloody deaths of his friends and family, before having his brains blown out with a pistol and making it look like a suicide. When Alistair finds out Nikki was only in it for the money, he kills her, too (by strangling her with a reel of film) and ends up in the insane asylum. Hooray for the British justice system!  Since this is a super 8mm production, expect all the usual problems, including garbled sound recording (all the dialogue is recorded live with no post-production looping), chainsaw editing (sequences jump from one scene to the next, with visible splice marks and jumps in sound) and plenty of bad acting. Director Murphy and screenwriter Carl Humphries (who also wrote Murphy's INVITATION TO HELL) spend way too much time on the buildup (Alistair spends 75% of his screen time watching horrible horror films on his TV; films so cheap-looking, Andy Milligan would have probably turned them off) and not enough time on the payoff. While there is plenty of bloody violence, both within the film clips Alistair watches and the murders he performs, none of it is very well done or believable. There's not much to recommend here (although Murphy has a way displaying the nastier edges of people) unless you are a fan of ultra-cheap horror flicks where nearly every aspect of the production is lower-rung, both financially and professionally. Also starring Nanda Adkin, Lindsey Allen, Marina Bolton, Michael Clay and Dennis Daniels. Never legitimately available on home video in the United States (or, apparently, anywhere else); the print I viewed was sourced from an obscure bootleg British VHS tape. Sarcophilous Films, who have a distribution deal with Michael J. Murphy, say they are going to release a 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD of this film sometime in mid-2010. They also have (available now) a double feature DVD of INVITATION TO HELL/THE LAST NIGHT, as well as a DVD of SKARE, which has quite a history of problems (The negative was lost by a package delivery service, forcing Murphy to reshoot the entire film from scratch!).  Not Rated. Update: Sarcophilous Films ceased operations and is out of business. The DVDs they released are considered rare and, therefore, command big bucks in collectors circles.

BLOODY PARROT (1981) - Another weird Hong Kong film from executive producer Run Run Shaw and his infamous Shaw Brothers production company that mixes martial arts, supernatural possession, spell casting, vampires and, of course, the Bloody Parrot of the title. Fans of the cult action/fantasy INFRA-MAN (1975) will be doubly delighted here, as director Hua Shan returns with another film that moves as quickly as a tornado being pushed by a hurricane and assaults the viewers' eyes with his hyper-kinetic, trance-inducing visual style. The film opens with this on-screen scrawl: "Of the world of spirits, in order to celebrate the birthday of the Demon King, they use their blood and change it to a Bloody Parrot. If you have the luck to meet it, it'll offer you three wishes to fulfill whatever you want." (It sounds like the old "rubbing the lamp and magic genie" story, only with blood mixed into the equation.). When thirteen caskets of treasures to the King of Dian, used to pay tribute to the Imperial Court, are stolen, the Prince sends Chief Guo Fan (Kuan Feng) to investigate. The Chief and his men are attacked by an invisible enemy and the Chief sets his eyes upon the Bloody Parrot (the sky turns blood red), who tells him he now has three wishes and as long as he lives, the wishes will come true. As we have learned from other wishing stories and films, you better be careful what you wish for. Being the good policeman that he is, the Chief's first wish is to find the thirteen caskets of treasure and, poof!, the treasures are returned to the Prince, but Chief Guo Fan, also the Prince's son, dies after falling off his horse when returning to the Dian home. The distraught Prince begs the Bloody Parrot to bring his son back to life and almost gets his wish, except his sister, the Princess, goes bonkers, stabs the Prince in the back with a sword and the commits suicide with the same sword. Their father, the King, dies of a heart attack a few seconds later. (Remember this scene. It is an important clue.). The thirteen caskets of treasure once again disappears, which causes a bloody upheaval in the Dian Dynasty, as all the martial artists across the land fight each other to the death looking to meet the Bloody Parrot and get their hands on the treasure. Enter Constable Yeh Ting Feng (Jason Pai Piao; BLOODY SORCERY - 1986), who is searching for Chief Guo Fan's brother, Guo Kan, the only surviving member of the Dian family who may know where the lost treasure is located. He meets Guo Kan for a few moments when he pops-up out of a casket at the now-deserted Dian house and tells Yeh Ting that the red streak he just saw dart across the sky means that the Bloody Parrot will soon visit. Guo Kan then suddenly drops dead and Yeh Ting has an autopsy performed on him (it's disgusting as hell and leaves very little to the imagination), only to find he was killed by a poison needle and that he has a huge pearl, part of the lost treasure, embedded in one of his legs. Yeh Ting joins forces with friend (and local lawman) Tieh Han (Tony Liu Yung; HUMAN LANTERNS - 1982) to find Guo Kan's killer, but the Bloody Parrot kills Tieh Han before they even begin to investigate. While at a bar mourning the death of his friend (he's brought Tieh's coffin with him!), Yeh Ting is attacked by three troublemakers, but the Bloody Parrot makes another quick appearance, killing the three goons (and a real parrot perched at the bar!) with it's supposed supernatural powers and leaving a few more pieces of the lost treasure, including a Bloody Rock, for Yeh Ting to find. The bartender gives Yeh Ting a clue, which leads him to the aptly titled Parrot Brothel, with Tieh's coffin in tow. Everyone at the brothel thinks Yeh Ting is a nutcase (Who travels with a coffin?), but prostitute Xue Nu (Jenny Liang Chen-Ni; LOST SOULS - 1980) welcomes him and the coffin into her strangely decorated bedroom (someone is watching them through the cut-out eyes of a Demon King mural painted on one of her walls). Yeh Ting learns from Xue Nu  (who hands him a whip and practically begs him to use it on her!) that there is more to the Bloody Parrot legend than meets the eye. Xue Nu then grabs the Bloody Rock and swallows it! She becomes possessed by the Demon King (she begins licking her own naked breasts like they were made of candy!), shoves a huge pearl up her vagina and begins attacking Yeh Ting, until he hits her so hard that the pearl falls out of her twat! Folks, I've barely touched upon the insanity on view here (everything I have described happens within the first thirty minutes!), as Yeh Ting will encounter a hunchback servant, a vengeful witch named Madame Li (Mei-Mei Wong), a fighter with an extremely long sword and Constable Chang Xiao, The Deadly Sword, who may be a better martial artist than Yeh Ting. He will also have to deal with his friend Tieh rising from his coffin and turning into a vampire (he bites a priest on the hand, forcing the priest to cut off his own arm with a sword!). This all leads to a finale that proves that the Bloody Parrot was nothing but a royal scam, a way for the Prince and Princess (who faked their deaths with a trick sword) to keep the treasure all to themselves. But Yeh Ting still has one or two tricks up his sleeve to defeat this nasty duo.  I've barely scratched the surface of this amazing film, which is parts martial arts actioner, supernatural horror and murder mystery (with a definite giallo vibe). Director Hua Shan (INFRA-MAN - 1975; KUNG-FU ZOMBIE - 1981) and screenwriter I Kuang, who has written the scripts to some of the most enjoyably over-the-top Hong Kong horror, fantasy and action films (BLACK MAGIC - 1975; THE SEXY KILLER - 1976; BLACK MAGIC II - 1976; MIGHTY PEKING MAN - 1977), throw everything imaginable at the screen, including bloody deaths (lots of flying body parts, spurting blood and gory impalements), magic spells (one spell forces Chang Xiao's men to turn on each other, which leads to one nasty "sword implanted in a face" scene), dead animals (including a strangled cat and a hanging monkey missing it's brains), cannibalism and maggot eating, zombie attacks, snake attacks, an underground lair full of mirrors (a homage to ENTER THE DRAGON [1973]), plenty of well-staged (and gory) martial arts fights, some welcomed full-frontal female nudity and even a mask made out of the skin of a human face (which is tossed around like a Frisbee!). Hua Shan's direction is frenetic, but never distracting and the set designs, photography (lots of red and green gel lighting) and art direction are all top notch. If you are a fan of Hong Kong weirdness, BLOODY PARROT will make you about as happy as a drug addict getting his next fix, but without the withdrawal symptoms a few hours later. Also starring Yeung Ching-Ching, Chan Shen, Chow Kin Ping and Meng Chun Hsia. A Celestial Pictures DVD Release. Not Rated.

BLOODY SORCERY (1986) - I don't pretend to be an expert on Hong Kong horror films, but when films throw demonic possession, worm-puking and battling wizards in your direction, you tend to take notice and enjoy these films for what they are: A ninety minute acid trip to another culture, where half-naked native tribes, erectile disfunction and magic spells are as common as a cheeseburger on a diner menu. BLOODY SORCERY (original title: XIONG ZHOU) is that kind of film. It opens with two explorers, Sau Au Yeung (Alan Chan Kwok-Gwong) and Li Ping (Han Ying-Chieh), being chased through the jungles of Burma by an angry tribe of natives because they have stolen a magic jade statue. As the tribe gets closer, Li Ping loses his life to a deadly booby trap (involving a cobra and a rope snare) and Sau Au Yeung (who was shot in the leg with an arrow earlier in the chase) begs the statue for protection. The jade statue begins glowing and suddenly makes Sau Au Yeung invisible to the tribe. Sau Au Yeung makes it back to Hong Kong safely, but must spend the rest of his years in a wheelchair. Back in Hong Kong, Mak Long (Jason Pai Piao; BLOODY PARROT - 1981) begins to experience a string of very bad luck and it looks as if black magic is the cause of it. First, his horny wife leaves him when he fails to get an erection while they are making love (They make pills for that now, honey!). Then, his leg starts bleeding for seemingly no reason while he is doing research in a library, drawing the attention of Dr. Au Yeung (Kwan Hoi-San), the son of Sau Au Yeung, who offers to help, but Mak Long runs away (leaving a rather large puddle of blood in his wake). Next, while having dinner in a restaurant, his plate of noodles turns into a pile of worms, which he unknowingly ingests in front of shocked customers while his leg still hemorrhages blood (One customer yells at him, "You bleed too much!"). While Dr. Au Yeung is driving home, he spots Mak Long passed-out on the side of the road, so he brings him to the hospital, where he patches up his leg wound, but thinks the injury is something he has seen before. Nurse Suk Fan (Jo Jo Ngan Lai-Yue) believes Mak Long was shot and wants to report him to the police, but when his x-rays come back and show no signs of a leg wound at all, Dr. Au Yeung decides that the police aren't the answer and launches his own investigation. When Mak Long wakes up in the hospital (just after his room fills up with blood, worms fall out of his leg wound and then everything disappears in a flash of white light), he tells Dr. Au Yeung and Suk Fan the whole sordid story. Flashbacks reveal that Mak Long was a reporter in Vietnam during the war, where he photographed and documented all types of atrocities with his camera. While on leave in Thailand, he meets a Burmese bar girl named Lina (Fung Git-Ling) and they fall in love, unaware that Lina's father is a powerful wizard. When Mak Long promises to come back from Vietnam to marry Lina and then breaks that promise (Turns out that Mak Long is a womanizer and already has a wife in Hong Kong), Lina's father puts a magic curse on him, which turns his life to shit.  I know what you're thinking: "Wait a minute!  What does this have to do with the jade statue and Dr. Au Yeung's father?" Well, it turns out that the wheelchair-bound Sau Au Yeung and Mak Long have one important thing in common: The leader of the angry native tribe and Lina's father are one and the same! Can Dr. Au Yeung save his father and Mak Long from the vengeful wizard's wrath, which includes vampire demons, even more disgusting worms and lots of supernatural mumbo jumbo (not to mention matching gaping leg wounds)? I'm afraid you'll have to watch the film to find out. This lunatic horror flick, directed and written by Do Gong-Yue (DEVIL SORCERY - 1988; LADIES KILLER - 1992), is full of the type of bloody nonsense we've come to expect from Hong Kong horror films. There's plenty of shots of bloody leg wounds oozing worms; showers of blood (including a bathtub, sink and toilet that magically flow with the red stuff), lots of magic rituals that include human sacrifices, battling magicians and burning incense; and tons of cheap optical effects and in-camera tricks. Other craziness also on view includes badly translated (and hilarious) hard-coded English subtitles ("Brother, why do you say that, we're friend?"); some graphic Vietnam War stock footage; and lots of  "What the fuck?!?" moments, such as when Sau Au Yeung takes a supernaturally-assisted wheelchair ride down a road and passes his son (who is driving the opposite way), who, rather that trying to catch-up with his father, stops the car, picks-up his father's hat off the side of the road and tosses it into the car! Say what you want about these Hong Kong horror films; they may make very little sense (especially to our Western sensibilities), but they are entertaining as hell. BLOODY SORCERY (also known as BLOOD SORCERY and THE CURSE) is no exception. Also starring Ku Feng as the pissed-off wizard. As far as I can tell, this was only released on VHS and VCD by Ocean Shores Video and is not available on DVD. Not Rated.

BLOODY WEDNESDAY (1985) - Harry (Raymond Elmendorf) is having a nervous breakdown. He loses his job as a mechanic when he forgets how to put a car engine back together. He shows up at a church service in the nude. He is put into a mental institution but is soon released because he is not considered a threat to society. Harry's brother, Ben (Navarre Perry), sets him up with a new apartment in a deserted hotel and soon strange things, both real and imagined, begin to happen. Harry spots three thugs destroying an adjacent apartment and has them arrested, the thugs vowing revenge. Harry has a teddy bear that he imagines can talk. Before long, Harry's mind is playing so many tricks on him (his bedsheet turns into a snake; the deserted hotel suddenly has a bellhop and suicidal occupants) that no one believes him when the three thugs come back to get even. He manages to get away but is blamed for the damages. The FBI shows up at his door and accuse him of firing a rifle out his window at a passing plane. They find no rifle, only a broomstick. When the three thugs return again, Harry pulls a revolver from inside his teddy and plays an impromtu game of Russian roulette, scaring the shit (literally!) out of the hoodlums and then lets them go free. Harry has just made three new friends who are later instrumental in helping him obtain a machine gun. Harry falls in love with his psychiatrist (Pamela Baker), but she just wants to help him, trying to convince Harry to voluntarily commit himself. He refuses. Harry's wife (Teresa Mae Allen), whom he has seperated from, stops by to make his life hell. Many more things happen (some so surreal you'll have to watch it twice) to Harry until his mind completely snaps, causing him to grab the machine gun and slaughter dozens of patrons at a nearby diner. This is Bloody Wednesday. This is pretty strong material as an indictment against the mental health industry and outdated laws. Harry is an outcast in the outside world and since he hadn't committed any serious crimes until the finale, he couldn't be committed without his consent. Raymond Elmendorf is spellbinding as Harry, as we view his slow mental deteriorization resulting in the bloody and shocking final act of a confused man. This is not kid's stuff. Writer and producer Philip Yordan also scripted the strange horror film CATACLYSM (1980 - a.k.a. SATAN'S SUPPER and THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS), DEATH WISH CLUB (1983) and many others dating as far back as the early 50's. This was director/producer Mark G. Gilhuis' only film credit, which is a shame, as he does a very good job here. BLOODY WEDNESDAY should be on your must-see list. A Prism Entertainment Release. Also available in a horrendous EP-mode transfer from Simitar Entertainment. Unrated. NOTE: I actually had some guy berate me by email for reviewing this film because he seems to think it sullies the memory of the people who died in the infamous slaughter at a McDonalds in California in the early 80's by a mentally disturbed man. Yordan may have based his screenplay on this incident but, seriously, lighten up! It's just a movie.

BRUKA, QUEEN OF EVIL (1974) - Yes, this is the seldom-seen and long-rumored not to exist sequel to the Philippines/Hong Kong co-production DEVIL WOMAN (1973). This film picks up directly where the first one ended: after showing a quick succession of re-edited scenes from the first film, Manda (Rosemarie Gil), the snake-haired woman, falls off a cliff after torch-carrying villagers burn down her home (actually, she fell off the cliff while doing battle with the film's hero, but let's not split hairs). Manda wakes up in a cave occupied by her grandmother, Bruka (Played by Etang Ditched, who, in the English subtitles, is referred to as "Carol Pak". The name "Bruka" is not mentioned once.), who has the head (and big fright hair) of an old woman and the body of a giant snake (a real sight to behold as she slithers around the cave with her dwarf assistants in tow!). Grandma gives Manda a black stone and tells her that when she puts it in her mouth, her snake hair will disappear and she will look normal and when she takes it out of her mouth the snakes will once again appear (Why would anyone create such a stone? The mind boggles!). Manda puts the stone in her mouth and, sure enough, her serpent-filled head turns into a beautiful black mane of hair. She is so grateful that she hugs her grandmother's huge snake body. Manda looks upon this new development as a way to get revenge on those who killed her parents (you really should watch DEVIL WOMAN, or at least read my review, before viewing this film to truly understand Manda's motivations) and Grandma gives her an army of dwarves, snakes, rock creatures, walking trees (!) and other strange monsters to protect her as she goes on her killing spree. At first Manda is just happy to appear in public without a scarf on her head (she prances around the forest is slow-motion, twirling around while her hair dances in the wind), but soon she starts getting even with the villagers. One unlucky gent (Filipino regular Charlie Davao) is bitten in the face and constricted to death by a horde of snakes. A horny young man with a guitar puts the moves on Manda, but she removes the black stone from her mouth and the young man is bitten to death by her head-full of snakes. Meanwhile, a gang of ruffians charge into a restaurant and beat-up the waiters ("Bring us wine!") and put their hands all over the female staff (at one point, the bald-headed leader of the gang makes the obviously gay manager kiss one of the girls, but gets a surprise when the manager plants a wet one on the top of his bald head!), which visibly upsets bouncer Hon Ping (Alex Lung), who ends up taking-on the gang single-handedly and beating them all to a pulp with his kung-fu expertise (and he gets fired from his job by the restaurant's owner because his fighting has chased away all the customers!). Upset that he has lost his job, because he has a young sister and sickly mother depending on him (When he gives his sister two dollars, she looks at her ill mother and says, "I'll cook for you tomorrow!" Why not cook for her today?), Hon Ping accepts a job from sleazy, cigar-chomping rich man Mr. Tong (after beating all of Mr. Tong's thugs in a long martial arts fight), who offers him fifty thousand dollars to rescue is daughter Louisa (Sandra de Veyra), who has disappeared in the forest on her way to her aunt's house (all the other men who were sent to find her were killed by a "ghost" in the forest). Manda continues her killing spree, picking up a guy at a disco (when she leaves the disco, one guy's plate of noodles turns into snakes and everyone leaves the place screaming, "Snakes...let's run away!") and killing him with the old black stone trick. When it is revealed that Manda kidnapped Louisa so she could be sacrificed in a full moon ceremony by Bruka (turns out Louisa is a virgin), it is up to Hon Ping to use his kung-fu skills (and a newly acquired weapon that must be seen to be believed) to battle Manda and Bruka's seemingly never-ending supernatural assault. Like the later Bruce Lee film GAME OF DEATH (1979), Hon Ping must fight a succession of more deadly opponents (including a boar-man who can punch so hard, he can leave holes in trees!) until he finally faces-off with Manda and Bruka and rescues Louisa and a group of female virgins.  This crazy mix of martial arts (with plenty of wire work) and horror genres, directed by Albert Yu (who co-directed the first film) and produced by Jimmy L. Pascual (director of the martial arts flick FISTS OF THE DOUBLE K - 1973; although no screenwriter is listed, there is a "Dialogue By" credit attributed to Yuen Shiao Po), is full of "What The Fuck?!?" moments, including Hon Ping helping a monk (played by Filipino staple Ramon D'Salva) and his hunchbacked apprentice (this guy's hunch is huge!) bury the population of an entire village killed by snake bites (the monk and the hunchback are soon murdered by Manda and three dwarves); Hon Ping fighting an army of little people, tossing them into the air like rag dolls; Hon Ping's battle with the rock creatures (Hon Ping winces every time he hits or kicks them until he gets the smart idea of hitting them with boulders!); the sacrifice of a topless female virgin during a full moon ceremony, where the poor girl is crushed to death by the rock creatures' repeated blows and is then devoured by Bruka's minions until only her bloody breasts are left (!); and so much more (including a mysterious hermit in the forest who gives Hon Ping the tools to defeat the evil, but not before making Hon Ping suffer a couple of days before doing so). If you are lucky enough to score a copy (a special "Thank You" to Andrew Leavold for supplying my copy), you are gonna be in for one helluva good, weird time (I didn't even mention the bat-man, who wears one of the cheesiest bat suits that I ever recall seeing. It makes the one in TWILIGHT PEOPLE [1972] look like a Rick Baker creation!). I don't believe BRUKA, QUEEN OF EVIL has ever had a legitimate home video release in any country (Andrew believes the copy he sent me was telecined from a rare English-subtitled Hong Kong 35mm film master and it looks damned good, except for some damage at reel changes), but it did play in U.S. theaters during the mid-70's to the early-80's (Those prints were English dubbed, not English subtitled. It would be interesting to find an English dubbed print of the film, just to spot the changes in names.). I consider it a miracle just to see this film at all. It was everything I hoped it would be and therefore gets my highest recommendation. Also starring Yukio Someno, Anthony Lee, Michael Kwan, Connie Angeles, Darius Razon, Tintoy, Roldan Rodrigo, Alfonso Carvajal and Eddie Nicart (the director of the perversely entertaining Weng-Weng actioner FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY - 1981). Rated R.

BUBBA HO-TEP (2002) - God bless Don Coscarelli's heart. He has made one of the most heartfelt homage/horror movies to come down the pike in quite a while. While you do have to wipe your mind blank and accept what follows in this film, you will be glad you did. An aging Elvis Presley (the always terrific Bruce Campbell), who has a cancerous growth on his penis, and a black man who claims to be President John F. Kennedy (the tremendous Ossie Davis), who claims that the C.I.A is keeping his brain alive by batteries in Washington D.C.,  must fight an ancient mummy who sucks the souls out of the assholes of the elderly people they live with at a home for the aged. This may sound ridiculous, but Campbell and Davis pull it off with such aplomb, that I almost forgot that we were dealing with a horror film here. Campbell's Elvis is a creature of regret, who misses his Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie (neither who gave their blessing to this film, but if they actually watched it, might have changed their minds) who comes alive when he and Davis must come up with a way to stop the killings in their home. The nurses and doctors (one played by Coscarelli regular Reggie Bannister) believe the deaths to be natural, but Elvis (who has some sort of psychic connection to the mummy) and Kennedy (who Elvis saves before his soul could be sucked out of his ass) know different. Filled with good humor and actual pathos, BUBBA HO-TEP should be congratulated on making a horror film with actual soul (no pun intended) and not the usual stalk-and-slash kill-a-thon that young people seem to love. The Elvis back-story is a hoot (I'm not giving it away here) and could have actually happened. The only drawback to this film is that there is no actual Elvis songs on the soundtrack as either it was too expensive or his estate refused to license them to the production. But just sit back and enjoy Campbell and Davis' performances. I doubt you see anything like this again and it wouldn't be a Coscarelli film without some flying lethal object: Here it is a giant scarab beetle which precedes every mummy attack. This is Coscarelli's first film since 1998's PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION. Let's hope he doesn't wait another 5 years until his next film (It would actually be ten years, with JOHN DIES AT THE END - 2012). Will someone please give him a big budget and creative control and see what he can make? I know it will be a winner. Also starring Ella Joyce, Harrison Young and Bob Ivy as the Cowboy boot and hat-wearing mummy (yeah, you read it right!). TCB baby! An MGM DVD Release. Rated R.

BURIAL GROUND (1980) - Here's an Italian zombie/gore film I love for all the wrong reasons. The film begins with Professor Ayres (Renato Barbieri) discovering an ancient Etruscan burial ground amongst the ruins of a dilapidated country estate. Somehow he reanimates the decaying corpses of the Etruscans (it is never explained how he does it), who chow down on him ("No! Don't! I am your friend!"). We are then introduced to the sex-starved people who are spending the weekend at the country estate: Professional photographer Mark (Gian Luigi Chirizzi; TERROR EXPRESS - 1979) and model/lover Janet (Karin Well; SKIN'EM ALIVE - 1978), who has bad feelings about spending time at the estate (Mark should have listened to her rather than telling her that it is all in her head). Also at the estate are George (Roberto Caporali), his new wife Evelyn (Mariangela Giordano; PATRICK STILL LIVES - 1980) and her creepy-looking, bugeyed son Michael (Peter Bark), who has the hots for Mom. He will do whatever it takes to stop George from making love to her and is the sole reason why this film is special to me.
     It doesn't take long for the zombies to attack. As the zombies chase Janet and Mark through the estate's grounds (Janet: "What is it?" Mark: "Whatever it is, it's not human. It's a walking corpse!" How could it be not human and be a corpse? Don't think too hard because this film is full of absurd dialogue.), Janet steps on a bear trap (!), while necking couple James (Simone Mattioli; THE OTHER HELL - 1980) and Leslie (Antonella Antinori) come running to her and Mark's rescue, caving-in the skulls of two zombies by bashing their heads with rocks. George is the first to die, as zombies tear him apart and eat his innards, while Evelyn and Michael escape. Pretty soon, all the survivors are trapped in the house, while dozens of zombies chop away at the front door with axes (these are not your normal, mindless zombies).
     "They can only be killed if we blow their heads off!" says James, as he uses the zombies for target practice, blowing their heads off with a shotgun while standing on a second floor terrace. A short time later he runs out of shotgun shells, so everyone will have to find another way to kill them (Earlier in the film, Evelyn and Michael set two zombies on fire, but it would be stupid to do the same thing inside the house). Leslie is the next to die when a zombie pulls her through a broken window, the broken glass cutting her face into bloody pieces (The zombie that kills her suddenly drops dead! But why? Like I said earlier, don't ask too many questions!). Leslie becomes a zombie and puts the bite on Michael (who just put the sexual moves on Mom, in the film's most hilarious/unsettling moment). Evelyn discovers Leslie chewing on Michael's torn-off arm and she bashes Leslie's head in on the side of a bath tub. This won't be the last time that Evelyn has to deal with Michael, though. The zombies break through the front door and invade the house, so Mark and James pick up two swords and make mincemeat out of several zombie heads with well-placed blows. Professor Ayres (Remember him?) is now a zombie and kills butler Nicholas (Claudio Zucchet; YETI: GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY - 1977), chewing on his flesh like it is some fancy filet mignon dinner.
     Mark, Janet, James and a near comatose Evelyn (she is grieving for Michael) escape to an abandoned monastery, but it is not as abandoned as they thought. James sees a group of robed monks in the monastery's chapel, only these monks are now zombies who make James their latest meal. The trio escape from the monastery and end up in some model builder's workshop. They are greeted by a zombie on the second floor, while the rest of the zombies try to get in through the front door.  Mark hits the zombie with a hefty piece of wood (but keeps missing its head!) and eventually throws it over the stone railing. Michael shows up as a zombie missing an arm and exposes Evelyn's right breast (A delirious Evelyn says, "Yes, just like when you were a baby!") and, in a scene that will not likely be forgotten, Michael bites off her nipple! The film concludes with all the zombies invading the workshop, as a zombified James grabs Mark's arm and puts it in the path of a spinning blade of a table saw and the zombies surround Janet. The film ends on this note, as an end scrawl proclaims: "The Earth shall tremble....graves shall open....they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the night of terror...." - Profecy of the Black Spider (Their spelling, not mine)
     Like I said in the beginning of this review, this film is entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The person who dubbed Michael's voice is hilarious to the extreme and the dialogue that comes out of his and everyone else's mouths are risible, such as when Michael says, "Mother, this cloth smells of death!" (How in the hell would a child know what death smells like?). Speaking of Michael, actor Peter Bark (real name; Pietro Barzocchini) became a minor celebrity thanks to this film, appearing at horror conventions worldwide (an extra on this Blu-Ray is of an interview with Bark at such a convention in 2013). The fact is that Bark is more frightening-looking than any zombie in this film (he looks like a miniature Dario Argento!) and his incestuous relationship with his mother brings on more horror than director Andrea Bianchi (the amazingly entertaining crime thriller CRY OF A PROSTITUTE - 1974; the giallo STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER - 1975) wanted to convey, but since most of it is due to the atrocious dubbing, we can't blame him. The zombies are appropriately creepy (lots of maggots and worms), but static (very seldom do we see their mouths move). This film, also known as BURIAL GROUND: THE NIGHTS OF TERROR, was lensed at an historic Italian landmark known as Villa Parisi (another extra on the Blu-Ray is a tour through the location as it stands today). The location shoot is very atmospheric, making it a character unto itself. The script, by Piero Regnoli (CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD - 1980), is full of zombie cliches (no matter how fast our survivors are, the slow, shuffling zombies always manage to catch up with them) and, if you think too hard about this film, you will realize that it is a rather boring affair. Just keep your brain in check and you will probably have a good time with it.
     Originally released Unrated on VHS from Vestron Video, with an Uncut widescreen version on DVD by Shriek show to follow. Now available in a beautiful anamorphic widescreen print on Blu-Ray from Severin Films, who seem to be the go-to guys for gore-filled Italian Horror flicks (see my reviews of DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. and EATEN ALIVE!), filled with great extras (one of the extras on the disc is deleted scenes, which add much more to the sudden appearance of James and Leslie). This is the preferred method of watching this film (I once saw it at a midnight showing in the mid-'80s, hosted by Gore Gazette's Rick Sullivan). Unrated.

THE BUTCHERS (2014) - This unusually-plotted film begins with the opening credits playing over a series of photos of notorious U.S. serial killers. We are then flashed-back to the past, where we see a wife hiding from her abusive husband Luther (Brian Oerly), who has just snapped the neck of a neighbor who tried to intervene. She has an Order of Protection against him (like a piece of paper ever stopped a violent person) and Luther is drunk, to boot. Their young son Simon (Pappy Faulkner) is watching it all unfold, when Luther finds his wife, punches her in the face and keeps wailing on her. She starts laughing when she sees her neighbor lying dead in the back yard ("Something funny, cunt?") and Luther's bloodied wife tells him he will never see Simon again because "They're coming for you!" Luther says, "These pigs. They ain't ever going to get me! You ain't ever going to see him again either!" He lifts his wife by her hair, throws her on a chair and slits her throat woth a strait-razor, all in front of Simon. Young Simon beats his father to death with a golf club (I believe it's a nine iron). Twenty years pass and we see returning war veteran Simon (Damien Puckler) riding a bus with his best friend Brian (Cameron Bowen) and a whole bunch of different people, along with a creepy bus driver (Dave Beacham) who adjusts his mirror so he can get a good look at the two ditzy females sitting in the front row, Nicole (Ire Wardlaw) and Candi (Charito Mertz). The two girls give the bus driver their first names ("Mmmmm. I like candy!"), but he refuses to tell him his real name, saying that it is "Elmer J. Fudd". A religious couple, Bill (Braxton Davis) and Daisy (Millie Sanders) ask punker Ren (Jeremy Thorsen) to put out his cigarette, but it takes Simon getting out of his seat and a stern warning from the bus driver to get him to put it out. Ren's punker girlfriend, Star (Tonya Kay), is passed out on the back seat of the bus.  We then move away from the bus as we see a black man (with a foreign accent) named JB (Semi Anthony) pull into what looks like a ghost town, when "The Collector" says "You are late!" The Collector has created a town attraction called "DEATH FACTORY: SERIAL KILLER MUSEUM" where every building in the ghost town is full of actual memorabilia of the U.S.'s six worst serial killers (The film is known as DEATH FACTORY in other countries). The Collector has also created a brochure on Photoshop (!) where there is an empty space that says "Unknown Killer". JB tells The Collector that he wants to buy the entire town (he gives JB a tour and he seems especially interested in the Ed Gein house), since everything in the town is original and took The Collector years to collect. The Collector is only looking for investors and turns JD's offer down. JB counter-offers by plunging a knife into The Collector's heart, killing him. JB begins drawing pentagrams on every house's floor and in the middle he puts a vial of the actual serial killers' blood. JB then performs a ritual using The Book Of The Dead to raise Albert Fish (Rick Williams), John Wayne Gacy (Hawks Walk), Jeffrey Dahmer (Marion Kopf), The black-hooded Zodiac Killer (John C. Epperson), Ed Gein (Gary Kasper; also the Stunt Coordinator) and Jack The Ripper (Mary LeGault; yes it will be explained) all back to life in this special little town. Of course, the bus overheats, and all of the passengers walk to the ghost town while the bus driver waits for help, unaware that JB has some very bloody surprises waiting for them. This is the way it works: If you kill a serial killer, you absorb their power, so JB hopes to become that "Unknown Killer" in the brochure and become the greatest serial killer in U.S. history. Unfortunately, he has some unexpected competition in Simon, who learned how to kill efficiently in the military. But Simon doesn't want to become a serial killer, so which ever killer's powers he absorbs, he will use them for good. The bus' other passengers, which include Jen (Christy Keller; who Brian is crushing on) and her jock boyfriend Kip (Jacob Hobbs), who ignores Jen and is more interesting in working out, and old black lady Auntie May (Mara Hall), get creeped out by the town and decide to walk back to the bus, only to discover it is gone (Can you say "set-up"?).They have no choice but to stay at the ghost town for the night and wait until morning before they set out on foot. Ren and Star break up from the group for a little hanky-panky, where Ren finds The Book Of The Dead and reads a passage and suddenly the whole town shakes. Looks like Ren has started things off a little too early for JB's liking, as the entire town shakes like there is an earthquake. All of the serial killers appear in their pentagrams, but according to JB, they have come back as different people; meaner and more murderous. JB beats the hell out of Albert Fish, Ed Gein kills Star and the Zodiac Killer starts to drag Ren away carrying a sickle, but Gein doesn't care about anyone "crashing my party" and pulls out a chainsaw, but it is just a tease to the audience, as The Zodiac just walks away dragging Ren. Fish gets into a fight with Simon, who easily kills Fish and we see him "absorb" his power". Bill walks into John Wayne Gacy's house, where he is stabbed over and over. Kip, Candi and Nicole have a three-way in one of the houses, which just happens to be the abode of Jeffrey Dahmer. He takes a bite out of Kips arm, but Kip knocks him out, only to be chased by Jack The Ripper and finally into The Zodiac, who is holding Ren's decapitated head (Can't Kip catch a break?). Suddenly, there's a bolt of lightning (huh?) and Jack the Ripper chases the twi sexpots and they decide to hide until morning. The Zodiac tries to kill Daisy (who doesn't know her husband is dead), but the fiesty Aunty May punches him in his face (That's what he gets for wearing a hood in front of a black woman!). As they say, never trust your best friends, as Nicole pushes Candi out into the open in Jack the Ripper's direction and he carries her away. Simon and Daisy find the dead body of The Collector (along with his Photoshopped brochure in his shirt pocket), but Daisy refuses to leave until she finds her husband. Daisy also happens to be an expert on Satanic cults, thanks to her years spent at seminary school, so what she knows is important to whomever is still alive. They go looking for Bill and find a pentagram with a broken vial of Jeffrey Dahmer's blood. JB has Nicole tied-up in a barn and stabs her in the stomach, twisting the blade until all her innards fall on the floor. Jack the Ripper actually turns out to be a woman (she wore a rubber mask to disguise herself as a man, even though rubber wasn't used in the 1880's to make masks) dressed in S&M clothing, who has a totally naked Candi tied to a barber chair (pretty ingenius if you ask me). She kisses Candi all over her naked body and then graphically cuts off one of Candi's nipples with a strait-razor. Simon & Daisy go to Gacy's house, where they see Bill's dead body. Auntie May, Brian and Jen are being attacked by The Zodiac, but Brian ends up being caught by Dahmer. The dead Bill (who is now dressed like a clown) is being eulogised by Daisy, but  Gacy attacks Simon ands knocks him out with an axe handle. Auntie May and Jen go looking for Brian, who is being nibbled on by Gacy while tied to a table. Gein appears and the two serial killers get into a fight and Dahmer ends up dead (We see Gein absorb Dahmer's powers). Gacy has Daisy and Simon tied to chairs and Gacy  plants a knife into Simon's shoulder for calling him a "Freak".  Simon has had enough, head-butts Gacy, breaks the chair he is tied to into a million pieces, pulls the knife out of his shoulder and stabs Gacy in the eye (Simon absorbs Gacy's powers). Simon then kills Jill The Ripper (a knife up her chin). JB kidnaps Auntie May, so he and Simon get into a fight (it is very well choreographed) and JB runs away. JB then kills Gein, with a cinderblock, so he inherits both Gein and Dahmer's powers. The score is now 3 serial killers dead at Simon's hands and two serial killers dead at JB hands. The Zodiac is the last serial killer left alive, so who will win the fight to kill him? It's one hell of a fight, I'll give them that, even if there was an unnecessary death just before the fight. The Zodiac Killer is set on fire and Auntie May runs him over with a car (Wait a minute. A car? Where the hell did that come from? Wouldn't the group have discovered it, especially since it is at the town's garage?). Looks like JB will be sitting beside the Devil, just not in the way he imagined, since Simon has killed him. But wait a minute: The bus driver just happens to be Satan himself and revives JB back to life, saying they still have work to do, as the rest of the group leave town in the car. The film ends on an omonous note, just like most DTV films, setting the film up for a possible sequel. There are a lot more serial killers out there to exploit.  This is a great idea for a film, but most of the characters are cliched and there could have been many more fights between the serial killers than just the all-to-short one between Gein and Dahmer. The fights that there are are very well done and director Steven Paul Judd (HEADGAME - 2015) should be proud of them and co-screenwriters Stephen Durham (the director and screenwriter of BLOODLINES - 2007) and David McClellan (a jack-of-all-trades on this film) thankfully fill the film with plenty of nudity, good fights and and lots of bloody gore to keep your mind off the film's gaping plot holes. Still, it's unusual enough to watch and if a sequel were to be made, I would definitely view it. Nothing groundbreaking, but worth a look. An Uncork'd Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

BYLETH: THE DEMON OF INCEST (1972) - One thing I love about Italian genre films is that no subject, no matter how taboo it is believed to be, is off limits. You would think with the Pope living in the Vatican and (according to the CIA Worldbook) 80% of Italy is Christian (Roman Catholic), some topics would be considered untouchable but, no, there is not one topic that is out of bounds. Italy churned out scores of Nunsploitation and Naziploitation flicks (I'm not a fan of either) and their giallo and horror films usually had someone of the cloth as an evil person or even the killer, so nothing is forbidden. Which brings me to this film, a seldom seen supernatural movie about incest.
     The film opens with a naked man and woman in bed, discussing how the man's wife will never know the pleasure of adultery ("She has no opinion. She just knows abstinence." says the man in horribly translated English subtitles). The woman says this about his wife: "Didn't she never experience the amusement of immortality?" (Now the subtitler is using a double negative in a sentence. For shame!), as she reaches for the man's penis. "Damn. We are so pitiful." he replies, as they get down and dirty (Not only is their conversation nonsensical, I doubt even Sigmund Freud could decipher it!). The woman stops before the man is finished, telling him his time is up and he must leave, where we discover she is a prostitute named Dolores (Karin Lorson) and the man is her john. When he leaves, someone wearing black boots, a cape and black gloves enters her room and kills her with a strange three-bladed weapon. We then cut to the following morning, where Duke Lionello Shandwell (Mark Damon; NAKED YOU DIE - 1968) enters the village on horseback and watches as the police take the dead prostitute's body away. The village Judge (Franco Jamonte; SWORD OF THE CONQUEROR - 1961) tells one of his men to get a list of all the prostitute's clients. The Judge gives the Duke a nod and Lionello goes home, where maid Gisella (Marzia Damon, as "Caterina Chiani"; THE HAND THAT FEEDS THE DEAD - 1974) tells him that "she" has arrived. The Duke is happy beyond words, as we discover "she" is the Duke's sister, Barbara (Claudia Gravy; KILMA, QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS - 1975). Right from the start, we can see that this is more than a brother/sister relationship, as they call each other "sweetheart" and "darling". Barbara has been away in Rome for over a year, telling her brother that they will never be separated again (Which brings up the questions: Why was she away for over a year? Did Lionello screw his sister?).
     They dote on each other like lovers, that is until Barbara tells her brother that she has gotten married. Lionello yells at her, saying that they made a promise to each other to be together forever, but Barbara says, "We are not children anymore. Brothers and sisters can't get married!" (I guess they have never been in the Deep South!). Barbara introduces her brother to her new husband, Giordano (Aldo Bufi Landi; FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET - 1971), an older gentleman who shakes Lionello's hand, saying, "You don't look like brother and sister" and invites him to come and visit them at their house in Rome. Lionello is civil to Giordano, but you can see in his eyes that he wants to strangle him for putting his hands on his sister. Giordano notices it, too, telling Barbara that he didn't make a good first impression with her brother and that Lionello is not happy that he is going to be separated from her again. That is putting it mildly.
     Lionello spies on his sister kissing Giordano and has memories of him and Barbara having hot, passionate naked sex, but is it all in his mind? Giordano tries to make friends with Lionello, but he turns down Giordano's offers to go horseback riding and hunting with him. He does, however, agree to be taught the art of fencing, Giordano not knowing that Lionello is an expert at fencing. He finds out rather quickly how good Lionello really is, but Giordano is better and it soon becomes a life and death fight. Barbara sees what is going on and tries to break it up, but Lionello accidentally cuts her arm with his rapier and runs to the barn, embarrassed and emotionally hurt. In the barn, Lionello spies on Gisella having sex with one of the grooms and she notices him looking at her and smiles, only in his eyes Gisella is actually Barbara. As a matter of fact, every woman he sees from this moment on has the face of his sister, so much so, that he can no longer separate fantasy from reality. Lionello is so obsessed with his sister that he pulls out an ancient book of magic out of a locked case he keeps in his attic, recites a passage and is possessed by Byleth, the demon of incest (or is he?). Someone then kills Gisella with the three-bladed weapon, the same weapon used on the dead prostitute days before. The Judge is stumped, as he has never seen anything like this before. He asks the village Doctor (Fernando Cerulli; DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973) how Lionello is doing and he tells the Judge he is doing better, but he is "very sensitive" because "we can't control his nerves all the time." Apparently, this is not the first time the Doctor has treated Lionello for his sensitivity. Is Byleth possessing Lionello or is it merely an excuse to absolve him of murder in his twisted mind?
     The Judge asks Barbara if her brother had fits like this before and she says yes, when he was 10 years old. "One day we played in the garden and he suddenly ran away. Our father had died a short time before. I found Lionello foaming at the mouth, lying on the ground under some brush. He talked...I don't really remember...a strange word." Giordano asks Barbara if she remembers the word, but she says she doesn't, telling him "Like a...Like a name of a stranger." (I think what she really said was "A strange name", as the subtitlers don't quite have a grasp of the English language). Barbara tells the Judge to be careful, because her brother had many fits in his life and he seems to be getting worse. The Doctor then interjects, telling Barbara that Lionello is getting better, but is he?
     The Judge has received the list of names of the dead prostitute's clients and Lionello's name is on that list. When the Judge questions Lionello, asking him where he was when the prostitute was killed, he tells him he was sleeping in the park, but it is obvious to the Judge that he is lying, but since he is a Duke, he has to have more than suspicions. He needs proof. Lionello tells the Judge that he knew Gisella was stumping the groom, Dario (Tony Denton), to throw suspicion off himself, but the Judge can see through his deception. The police search Dario's home and find a bloody shirt that Lionello planted there. Since this was over a hundred years before there was such a thing as a CSI, the police arrest Dario. Lionello, thinking the heat is off of him, has a playful roll on the ground with his sister, when it suddenly turns serious, Lionello telling her he has a secret. Barbara asks what it is and he says his lips are sealed. She asks how she can open his lips (She's just asking for it, don't you think?) and he replies, "With our magic ritual. Eye on eye. Nose on nose. Lips on lips." which Barbara does, but the lips part is just a peck, which disappoints Lionello. "Tell me your secret" says Barbara and Lionello replies, "Sometimes strange things happen to me. In these moments I am no longer in control of my mind. You must help me." Barbara agrees, but before she can do anything, Giordano calls out her name and she goes running to him, further messing with Lionello's fragile psyche.
     There will be a few more deaths before anything is resolved, as Lionello sees his sister making hot, passionate, naked love to Giordano, sending him on a spiral of violence. We must figure out if Lionello is actually possessed or if he's just mentally unstable. Things come to a boil when Giordano sets Lionello up with his beautiful cousin Floriana (Silvana Pompili). The local priest (Antonio Anelli; WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? - 1972) tells the Judge, doctor and Giordano that the murders are being committed by Byleth, a demon with the face of an angel. This demon kills his victims with a weapon with three blades, the three blades being "a bloody symbol of the Holy Trinity." When Barbara hears the name, she becomes a different person, making us believe that Lionello is not possessed at all. According to the priest's description, Byleth could actually be...Barbara!
     This atmospheric Gothic chiller, directed by Leopoldo Savona (APOCALYPSE JOE - 1970; DEATH DROPS LIGHTLY - 1972) and written by Norbert Blake (his only film credit; which makes me believe it is a pseudonym for Savona), is a seldom-seen film that deals with a very touchy subject, but like I said in the beginning of this review, no subject is taboo to Italian filmmakers. Good thing, too, because this flick is must viewing for genre film lovers. There is plenty of full-frontal nudity, bloody violence and a decent mystery to go along with the subject matter. The normally stiff Mark Damon (who put acting on the back burner to become a producer of some A-and-B-List films, including THE ARENA - 1973; THE LOST BOYS - 1987; and my favorite, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING - 2012, something he is still doing right up to this day) really shines here as a man with no moral compass, his actions are based on what he is feeling at the moment. If he were alive now, he would probably be diagnosed as suffering from epilepsy, but back in the mid-1800s, it takes on a more supernatural sheen. That is to say it wouldn't be considered a medical problem but, rather, an emotional problem (On more than one occasion, people say that Lionello is suffering from "delirium"). This film is not as exploitative as it could have been and that's a good thing, because the subject matter is dealt with seriously, like an episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU and less like some cheap exploitation flick. That's not to say that there aren't some cheap thrills to be had here, because there are, but the story always comes back to earth, rather than becoming a standard gore-a-thon. Director Savona has a nice feel for the period and most of the actors imbue their characters with a sense of normalcy, the way people would act in that time frame. If you are looking for something rare and different, look no further than this film.
     Shot as BYLETH IL DEMONE DELL'INCESTO (a literal translation of the review title), this film never had a theatrical, VHS or disc release in the United States. Hell, it was never even dubbed in English! My review is based on a DVD-R I purchased from Sinister Cinema (through Amazon). The print is German-dubbed, with less than satisfactory English subtitles. Luckily, I can spreken ze Deutsch, so I could understand what they were actually saying and ignore the horrendously translated subtitles. Those who don't understand German need not worry, because the film is very easy to follow, so pony up $8.99 (or find it streaming for free on YouTube) and watch this sucker! Also featuring Franco Marletta (THE COLD EYES OF FEAR - 1971), Alessandro Perrella (SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT'S EYE - 1973), Bruna Beani (THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW - 1974), Florian Endlicher (Man, I would hate to have that last name!) and the prolific Carla Mancini (FLAVIA THE HERETIC - 1974). Not Rated. UPDATE: Now available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Severin Films.

CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (1968) - Extremely weird and memorable Germany/France/Italy co-production. I say memorable, but not in any positive way, but rather for some very unintentional humor and the mugging done by gonzo actor/director Michel Lemoine (CEMETERY WITHOUT CROSSES  - 1969), who contorts his face every time he looks at a woman he wants to bed, looking like he is tripping on LSD or suffering from an epileptic seizure.
     The film opens with a very mod party thrown by Baron Brack (Lemoine), who hits on Elena Lagrange (Elvira Berndorff, in her only film role), even though her sister and the Baron's fiancée, Vera (the late Janine Reynaud; THE CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL), is in the very same room. While the party is still in full swing (we see people dancing in a train to the Bunny Hop!), he brings Elena back to his place with the promise to take her for some twilight horseback riding, but he rapes her instead (even though she doesn't give him much of a fight). A short time later, George Kassell (Jan Hendriks; THE COLLEGE GIRL MURDERS - 1967), Elena's fiancé, and his sister Marion (Claudia Butenuth; WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? - 1972), along with Vera and Roger de la Valiere (Pier A. Caminnicci; producer/writer/star of SUCCUBUS - 1968; also starring Lemoine and Reynaud), Marion's fiancé, arrive at the Baron's home, just as he is finishing with Elena, and start a small party of their own (Confused? So was I, trying to figure out who was related and engaged to whom!!!).
     At this small party, the forest outside the Baron's home is mentioned, where we learn that Katharina, the daughter of the Earl of Saxon (Howard Vernon; THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS - 1972), was found raped and murdered just that morning. We know that the Baron was the guilty party, simply by the way he contorts his face and eyes when Katharina's name is mentioned. The Baron explains that the woods aren't safe, because the Earl has released a bear (!) in the forest in hopes it will maul the rapist/murderer to death. The Earl, along with his late daughter, never leave the castle and don't take kindly to visitors, so none of them should ever go to his castle. The party notices that Elena has disappeared and learn that she has taken one of the Baron's horses into the forest. The Baron, along with George and Vera, tell Roger to stay behind with his fiancée, as they hop on horses and go looking for Elena and find out that the Baron's horse is in the Earl's stables, where the Earl's servant, Alecos (Vladimir Medar; THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM - 1967) tells them that he found Elena passed-out and brought her into the castle, where the Earl, who is a physician, is taking care of her. Alecos has no other choice but to invite them in the castle (begrudgingly saying that the horses need a warm stable to sleep in, but, even though he doesn't want to, he is left with no other choice but to invite the trio inside). Inside the castle, we see the Earl and another doctor (actor unknown, but extremely familiar), performing an operation on Katharina's heart (real-life open heart surgery footage), in hopes of bringing her back to life, but it fails. The Earl tells the doctor that they will need a living donor. Once the trio are inside the castle, they must abide by the "Rules of the House", where they are forced to wear ancient costumes. Roger must wear the costume of a King, while Vera wears one of a Queen. The Baron, on the other hand, must wear the costume of Death, because, as Alecos tells him, "You have Death looking down on you!" They then meet the Earl and are soon joined by Roger and Marion, who is unconscious because she fell off her horse. The Earl is shocked, because Marion looks exactly like his late daughter, so he tells Alecos to put her in his daughter's bedroom to recuperate, which he does. At dinner, the Baron and Vera make google-eyes at each other, while the Earl regales them with a true tale of his ancestors, none of them noticing the extra place setting that Alecos has set on the table for the Earl's dead daughter. The Earl tells them that during the 30 Year War, his ancestor's daughter was raped and killed by a trio of Cossacks, saying "Life and death are alike, but there's also love. Love has a right to kill, but he who kills for revenge will be cursed!" After dinner is over, Alecos shows them to their bedrooms, where they will retire for the night. They all hear some type of commotion going on and Alecos shows them a "special" room, where wax figures are posed in a scene showing the rape of the Earl's ancestor's daughter! (Jesus, it is creepy, especially with the added addition of sound effects!). The Baron tells Alecos he is not staying, he's going to go back to his place, where he will get his car and come back in the morning to pick everyone up (Alecos says to him, "I knew you would say that!" and then laughs.). After everyone is tucked in their bedrooms, the Earl orders Alecos to retrieve Marion and bring her to the laboratory. Vera then hits on Roger, telling him that she wants to make love to him, but Roger refuses.
     Vera then has a dream about the ancestor's daughter's rape, where the Baron, George and Roger portray the trio of Cossacks and rape the daughter (portrayed by Marion), while Vera watches and masturbates! The Earl's ancestor (portrayed by the Earl), then stabs Vera in the heart, blaming her for his daughter's death. The ancestor's servant (portrayed by Alecos) then beheads Vera with an axe. Vera wakes up and screams (That was a very vivid nightmare!) and Roger comes running into her bedroom. They then make love (Hey, what's good for the Baron is good for Roger, too!). We then see the Earl and the unnamed doctor performing surgery on Marion and Katharina as they lay side-by-side (more real-life open heart surgery).
     We then see the Baron being attacked by a man in a fake-ass looking bear suit (Try not to laugh, I dare you! It is the film's unintentional [?] humorous highlight). George goes looking for Marion when he discovers her bed empty and gets lost in the castle's catacombs, a labyrinth of tunnels that lead nowhere, where Alecos taunts him verbally. The Baron then stumbles into the castle, bloody and bruised, telling everyone that this entire night is nothing but a "bad dream" (He may be right, as this film is nothing but a series of weird set-pieces, none of them connected to each other, just like a dream). Marion then shows up, spouting nonsense about death and handing everyone a flower. The Baron says, "You're not Marion!" and he's right, as we see George arrive in the Earl's laboratory, where he finds Marion dead on the operating table, her heart missing. The Earl removes "Marion's" wig and the Baron yells out, Katharina! Katharina!" Now the Earl (and everyone else) knows that the Baron raped and killed the Earl's daughter. The Earl tries to stab the Baron with a dagger, but Katharina steps in front of him and the blade enters her heart, killing her. Katharina's final words are "God be with you", so the Earl stabs the Baron, killing him. The Earl carries his daughter's body to the castle roof, where he walks off, still holding Katharina's dead body, plunging to his death. We then see the Grim Reaper riding a horse off the castle's grounds, the castle's heavy iron gate closing behind him and the film ends. If you are wondering what happens to George, Vera, Roger and Elena, all I can tell you is this: They are inconsequential to the plot, or at least to what plot there is!
     Woah! This film, like I said earlier, has a dream-like quality to it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is a good film. It is entertaining, but good? Not by a long shot. The film's short running time (82 minutes) doesn't give you enough time to be bored, but it does give you plenty of time to laugh, which I am sure was not director/co-producer/co-screenwriter "Percy G. Parker's" (Actually Adrian Hoven, director of THE LONG SWIFT SWORD OF SIEGFRIED [1971] and MARK OF THE DEVIL PART II [1973]; he also acted in and produced MARK OF THE DEVIL - 1970, as well as many other films) goal. The bear attack scene got the biggest laugh from me because it comes out of nowhere and once you see the bear suit, I guarantee you will be laughing, too! It should also be noted that Michel Lemoine was married for about a decade to Janine Reynaud after they appeared in this film and may be the reason why she quit acting in the late-'70s. Lemoine directed her last few films and they are hard to come by. Read my review for SEVEN WOMEN FOR SATAN to see what he churned out. Needless to say, he mugs wildly here for the camera, lusting after every woman with his face and eyes, so much so he looks like a pervert. I kept asking myself why he has so many friends. Can't they see what type of person he is? Janine Reynaud's favorite expression in this film is to put her hand to her cheek as if to say "Oh, my!" A good drinking game would be to take a shot every time she does it. You'll be plastered in no time. As I said earlier, the screenplay (by Hoven and one-timer Eric Martin Schnitzer, from a story by an uncredited Jess Franco [ugh!], based on William Shakespeare's "King Lear") is nothing but a series of unrelated vignettes, but there is plenty of female nudity (unusual for a film made in 1968) by the cast, but only topless nudity. The only blood and violence we really see (besides the awful bear attack) are the bloodless decapitation of Vera and the real surgery footage. Go in knowing that and you should have a good time with this film.
     Shot as IM SCHLOSS DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE ("In The Castle Of Bloody Desire") and known under a myriad of titles, including APPOINTMENT WITH LUST, CASTLE OF LUST, CASTLE OF BLOODY LUST and CASTLE OF UNHOLY DESIRES, this film did not get a theatrical release in the United States, but it did get a few VHS releases, the most notable one by Magnum Entertainment.  No legitimate DVD or Blu-Ray (at the time of this review), but plenty of gray market DVD-R releases, including Rogue Video and Sinister Cinema. Amazon Prime (where else?) offers a nice widescreen print streaming for free if you are a Prime member. This review is based on that print. Also featuring Ernst Steinlechner as the horseback-riding Grim Reaper. Not Rated. UPDATE: Now available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Severin Films, the purveyors of everything Eurohorror.

CENTIPEDE HORROR (1987) - No one ever accused Hong Kong horror films of showing restraint and here's a good example of restraint being thrown out the window, along with the bathwater and the baby. After showing us extreme close-ups of centipedes with accompanying voiceover narration giving us a short history of the many-legged buggers (apparently, they have 22 sections with two legs per section, which equals 44 legs; far short of "centipede" status, but still one of the creepiest bugs on the planet), we move on to the film proper, where young woman Kay is begging her brother Pak (Kiu Wai Miu) to let her go on a seven day vacation to Southeast Asia. He agrees to let Kay go (and not tell their "Mummy"), but only if she'll wear this big-assed medallion around her neck to ward-off evil spirits (People living in Hong Kong must believe that S.E. Asia is full of dangerous supernatural predators that feed on tourists). Kay reluctantly agrees, puts the unwieldy medallion around her neck and the next time we see her, she is jogging in S.E. Asia with a female friend. They stop at a pushcart selling "grass jelly" and enjoy eating a couple of bowls, but the guy running the pushcart notices Kay's medallion and gives it an ominous look. When Kay leaves her headband behind on the pushcart, the guy gives it another ominous look and you just know it's going to be used in some kind of crazy Asian spell (Or maybe I have watched too many Hong Kong horror flicks? Nah, it's gonna be used in a spell!). Kay's girlfriend talks her into taking off the medallion ("It's ugly!") and she throws it into her suitcase. Big stupid rookie mistake. Kay and her tour group go to a coconut farm, where Kay drinks too much coconut milk (Is that even possible?) and has to go wee-wee. She never makes it to the bathroom, as she and her girlfriend are attacked by an army of centipedes and they both pass out. Kay's girlfriend dies of a heart attack and Pak flies to the S.E. Asia hospital where his sister is being treated, only to find that Kay's entire body is covered with mysterious gaping wounds (the doctor first thought it was "Hiroshima radiation poisoning", but quickly discards it because, hey, they're not in Japan!) and she has been struck speechless. The doctor vows to find a cure to this "mystery disease", so Pak hooks-up with old schoolmate Yeuk Chee (Margaret A. Li) and they take a night stroll down the busy streets of S.E. Asia, where they meet Mr. Chan Hie, the "King Of The Centipedes", a man selling centipede ointment to cure poisonous centipede bites. Mr. Chan visits Kay in the hospital and tells Pak and Yeuk Chee that there is nothing he can do for her, but they should visit his teacher, who lives very far away. Before they can do that, Kay dies (with centipedes squirming out of her wounds) and Pak is given her suitcase, which contains the medallion. Pak is told by a fortuneteller that his generation is suffering from a curse put on his grandfather and there is no way to avoid his fate (The fortuneteller's advice: "Do more charity!"). Pak keeps catching glimpses of a red figure walking away from him and then flies back to Hong Kong, where Mummy (Chien Szu-Ying) tells Pak that when his grandfather was young, he did a "shameful thing" while in S.E. Asia. She is not sure exactly what that shameful act was, but she knows Pak's father found out just before he died. Pak, who is beginning to get bad headaches and is not feeling too well, vows to discover his Grandpa's sins and reverse them before it is too late. All of this happens within the film's first thirty minutes and what happens during the next 63 minutes will have Pak questioning his sanity. It seems that fifty years earlier, Pak's grandfather was responsible for burning down an entire village (on the same spot where Kay was attacked by the centipedes), killing everyone in the village and a vengeful wizard has made it his life's work to make Pak's family suffer. How is Pak going to fight this? Why, by hiring his own wizard to do battle!  Although it takes a while for this film to get cookin', once it does, it's a non-stop sleazefest. Director Keith Li (a.k.a. "Lee Pak Ling"; VAMPIRE KIDS - 1991) and screenwriters Anna Chan & Suet Ming have fashioned a gory supernatural horror film that actually has a coherent plot for a change, but that's not to say that there aren't plenty of "What The Fuck?!?" moments, including Pak and Yeuk Chee spying on a wizard performing a ritual on a totally naked woman with a gangrenous stomach (it involves distilling the oil taken from the corpses of children, cutting off a chicken's head, using the chicken's blood to mark the woman's body with Chinese symbols and ends with her puking-up a bunch of bloody scorpions!); Yeuk Chee having a spell cast on her by the evil wizard, which leads to a battle between good and bad wizards (the good wizard loses after putting up a valiant fight); and plenty of centipede attacks (and even some centipede puking). The truly demented conclusion must be seen to be believed and includes reanimated chicken corpses, stealth fireballs, a cobra head impalement (!) and more centipedes than you will ever care to see for the rest of your life. Special props to actress Margaret A. Li for throwing-up what are obviously live centipedes! Only in Hong Kong, folks, only in Hong Kong, This may not be in the same league as the Shaw Brothers horror flicks THE KILLER SNAKES (1974) or BLACK MAGIC (1975), but CENTIPEDE HORROR still manages to entertain while grossing you out. Also starring Wang Lai, Stephen T.F. Lau, F.C. Chan, Yip Tin Hang and Yau Pui Ling. Bootleg company Apprehensive Films offers a reasonably sharp widescreen English hardcoded subtitled print on DVD. Not Rated.

THE COLOR OF LOVE (1974) - Unusual all-black cast religious supernatural film that can't be considered blaxploitation because of its earnestness. During a mass baptism at a lake, Femi (Bill Overton) stops the baptism of girlfriend Billie (Avis McCarthur) because it goes against their voodoo beliefs. Some of the male parishioners of the church take offense to Femi's actions and hold him underwater, drowning him. That night, the voodoo community performs a ritual over Femi's body (a live chicken has it's throat cut), where the voodoo priest promises that his death will not go unanswered and Lord Shango, the groups highest deity, will seek retribution. Billie's mother, Jenny (Marlene Clark; GANJA & HESS - 1973; BLACK MAMBA - 1974), is also pissed about Femi's death because of the emotional damage it has inflicted on her daughter, but Jenny's fiancé Memphis (Wally Taylor), a voodoo non-believer and a member of the local church, promises to get Jenny pregnant and give her a baby if it's the "Lord's will", something Jenny has wanted for a long time. While waitressing at the local bar, Jenny talks to Jabo (Lawrence Cook), an ex-jazz drummer and voodoo practitioner, who tells her that Femi's death was murder and then goes on to make ominous statements that "it's not over", especially where Billie is concerned. He's right, of course, because Billie becomes downright delirious from her grief and believes every man she meets is Femi, beginning with Memphis, whom she fucks. When Jenny finds out, she runs to the local church, where Memphis is repenting his sins. Jenny is not so forgiving, as she slaps Memphis silly and breaks off their engagement. Billie runs away from home and months pass with no word from her. Then bad things begin to happen. Memphis nearly cuts his arm off with a circular saw at his construction job. With Jabo's encouragement, Jenny goes to the local voodoo cult looking for retribution for her daughter's disappearance and Femi's death and, pretty soon, members of the local church, especially those involved in Femi's drowning, begin to die mysteriously. Billie returns home, too, and that bump in her stomach is not from overeating. Billie is pregnant with Memphis' baby, so Jenny demands that Memphis marries Billie. It's also apparent that Jenny will be paying a steep price for getting involved with the voodoo cult. When Jenny and Jabo become lovers (he delivers a devastating soliloquy about his life that will break your heart), all the pieces seem to fall into place, but a final twist will test everyone's faith, both voodoo practitioners and the church-going.  Not quite a horror film and not quite exploitation, THE COLOR OF LOVE (originally released as LORD SHANGO) is more of an indictment against organized religion (of all types) and blindly following the rules without questioning them first. Director Ray Marsh (who also gave us the PG-rated comedy THE LAST PORNO FLICK - 1974) and screenwriter Paul Carter Harrison (YOUNGBLOOD - 1978) make this more of a slice-of-life drama about black life in a small southern town, with supernatural overtones added for some mystery. The theme to this film, "The price of life is sacrifice", is shown in many guises here, from Femi's drowning, the mysterious deaths of the church parishioners and even Billie's pregnancy, with Jabo appearing at all of them like some avenging angel as the connective tissue. Not much is known about Jabo, except he's an ex-musician and he drinks too much, but it's apparent that he's the catalyst to everything that happens here. The question soon becomes if he sits on the wings of angels or the horns of the Devil? While the violence here is rather tame and very little blood is spilled on screen, the story manages to hold your attention because the characters are tightly drawn (Marlene Clark and Lawrence Cook are excellent). These people aren't written in black and white, so it is up to us to form our own opinions about them. Those going into this film expecting a horror flick are going to be in for a major disappointment, so keep an open mind when watching it. I'm not a religious person, so let me say this: THE COLOR OF LOVE is a film about religion that everyone can understand, from the devoutly religious to the non-believer. Also known as SOULMATES OF SHANGO. Also starring John Russell, B.A. Ward, Stanley Greene and Maurice Woods. Originally released on VHS by Aries Home Entertainment and not available on DVD, but soon to be available on Blu-Ray from Code Red. Rated R.

THE COTTAGE (2008) - This British production is an offbeat mixture of crime and horror genres, with a healthy dose of dark humor. Two bumbling crooks, brothers David (Andy Serkis; INKHEART - 2008) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith, who looks like a battered Kevin Spacey), kidnap the buxom and foul-mouthed Tracey (Jennifer Ellison) and bring her to the title abode in the middle of nowhere. It's quite obvious from the start that Tracey isn't your average kidnap victim, as she managed to break Peter's nose with a few well-placed head-butts, even though her hands are tied behind her back and her legs bound together. It turns out that Tracey is the stepdaughter of crime boss Arnie and David and Peter are holding her for a 100,000-pound ransom. Arnie (whose office is in the basement of a strip club) sends his son Andrew (Steven O'Donnell) to deliver the ransom (not knowing that Andrew is a part of the kidnapping), but Andrew is unaware that dear old Dad has also sent two Asian hitmen, Muk Li San (Logan Wong) and Chun Yo Fu (Jonathan Chan-Pensley), to follow him and kill those responsible for Tracey's kidnapping and then return with Tracey. Andrew (who is just as bumbling as David and Peter) shows up at the cottage with the satchel of ransom money, but when they open it, all that is inside is wads of tissue paper (Andrew incredulously says, "I probably should have checked it."). Things rapidly go from bad to worse when David is forced to go to Plan B, but Peter blows it and manages to let Tracey get a good look at all their faces. David is forced to leave the cottage and look for a working phone after Peter drops their cell phone in a pond, while Arnie makes his way to the cottage to join the waiting Asian hitmen. David finds a phone booth and makes a new ransom demand and, after being warned by the town's off-kilter elderly citizens that it is not safe to be outside at night in these parts, David returns to the cottage to find Peter and Tracey missing and Andrew unconscious on the floor. It turns out that Tracey has now taken Peter hostage and escaped into the woods, where they find a creepy farmhouse that would give goose bumps to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE's Sawyer clan. David and Andrew go looking for them and discover Muk Li San's body tied between two trees with his throat cut. It's now obvious that there is another killer on the loose, as Peter and Tracey check out the farmhouse and make some frightening discoveries, including a freezer full of disembodied human hands and a hideous mutated monster, who stabs Tracey in the stomach with a machete and chases Peter throughout the house. In the finale, brothers David and Peter, both seriously wounded, must defend themselves from the mutant farmer, but when Peter becomes trapped in the farmhouse's basement, he will make a discovery that he will not soon forget. And neither will you. Be sure to stick through the end credits for a final stinger, as the until-now unseen Arnie arrives on the scene, only to meet the sharp end of a pickaxe.  THE COTTAGE is a funny genre-bending film that has some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, including Andrew's unfortunate choice of ski mask and Peter's phobia of moths (one moth turns him to jelly, but when he makes the unfortunate choice to enter a room in the farmhouse that is full of the winged insects, hilarity ensues). Director/screenwriter Paul Andrew Williams (the brilliant LONDON TO BRIGHTON - 2006) wisely chooses to wait until the film is almost two-thirds over to reveal the horror elements, as we are given ample time to get to know these fucked-up characters and actually care about some of them, especially Peter, who takes more damage to his entire body throughout the film (including getting his right foot cut in half) then what is shown in a dozen Three Stooges shorts. The violence in this film is brutal (including one major character getting their head cleaved in two at the jaw line with a shovel), but a lot of it is played with a wicked sense of humor (poor accident-prone Andrew suffers the worst of it, stepping not once, but twice, on bear traps and later stepping on a rake and getting clobbered on the head [like in the old cartoons of yore], only to have the mutated farmer use the same rake to put a few holes in his noggin before stabbing him in the balls and cutting his head off, with the spinal column still attached!). I enjoyed this film immensely and so should you. It's a near perfect mixture of comedy, crime and atmospheric horror that's sure to please fans of black comedy and, believe me, it doesn't get much blacker than this. Bloody good show. Doug Bradley (HELLRAISER - 1987) puts in a cameo as a doomsayer local. Also starring Simon Schatzberger and David Legeno as the mutated monster farmer. A Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD Release. Unrated.

CRASH! (1976) - It's interesting to compare director/producer Charles Band's earlier films (this is his second effort; his first being LAST FOXTROT IN BURBANK [1973]) with his later ones (like THE GINGERDEAD MAN - 2005) to see how much he has progressed. The funny thing is that Band has done just the opposite, he has regressed, as his earlier films, such as this one, are much more entertaining and fun to watch. CRASH! is actually two films in one. It's partly about a possessed car that runs other cars off the road (causing fiery crashes) and partly a supernatural murder drama about a husband trying to knock-off his wife. The wife in question is Kim Denne (Sue Lyon; END OF THE WORLD - 1977), who we see walking around a flea market (in the parking area of a drive-in theater). She spots a weird one-eyed stone idol and buys it from a strange man (played by Reggie Nalder; MARK OF THE DEVIL - 1970), after talking him down in price. Kim's husband, Marc (Jose Ferrer; DRACULA'S DOG - 1978; BLOOD TIDE - 1982), is a bitter, jealous old man that keeps tabs on Kim's every move. He's never forgiven Kim for confining him to a wheelchair, the result of a car accident where Kim was behind the wheel. After their latest fight, Kim storms out of the house, attaches her newly-bought idol to her keychain and takes off in her car (a Hemi Cuda convertible), only to be attacked by Marc's vicious dog (who he trained just for this purpose) and getting into a terrible car accident. Confined to a hospital bed and in a coma (and still grasping the idol keychain in her hand), Marc must figure out a way to kill Kim before she wakes up and spills the beans. He sneaks into her hospital room undetected (!) and pulls out all her tubes and wires, which lets a stream of her blood trickle down on the idol in her hand. The idol, we will later find out, is the image of Akaza, the God of Vengeance. Oh, no. Luckily, Kim's life is saved by nurse Kathy (Leslie Parrish; THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION - 1975) and Dr. Greg Martin (John Ericson; FINAL MISSION - 1984). Kim (whose entire face is bandaged) makes a full recovery, but suffers from a bad case of amnesia. While all this drama is taking place, Kim's driverless car goes on a murder spree, killing innocent (?) motorists and destroying dozens of police cars, the possessed car always coming away without a scratch. Dr. Martin borrows Kim's idol and brings it to an expert on the subject, which just happens to be Marc Denne. This is not going to turn out well at all, is it? Marc finally gets his hands on Kim, locks her in the sauna and works out a foolproof alibi. Too bad that alibi left no room for a possessed car, as it chases the wheelchair-bound Marc outside and pushes him off a cliff, the car exploding on top of him.  This is a weird mixture of car chase/crash exploitation (which was very popular during the 70's) and supernatural possession genres (Director Elliott Silverstein would mine the same premise the following year with THE CAR). There's something spooky about a driverless car speeding down the highway, causing death and destruction, and director Charles Band spends much of the film showing the possessed car causing accident after accident, usually culminating in a car flying in slow-motion through the air, crashing through objects (like signs, buildings or other cars) and then exploding in a fireball. When the final edit was turned in, the running time must have come up a little short, because Band repeats every car crash a second time when Marc locks a possessed Kim in the sauna during the film's closing minutes. The film is a stunt-filled extravaganza, but there are a few creepy moments, too, such as when a possessed Kim (her eyes get all big and red) forces her husband's wheelchair to run over his attack dog over-and-over until it is dead. Though very little blood is spilled, CRASH! (also known as DEATH RIDE and AKAZA, THE GOD OF VENGEANCE) is an entertaining quickie that should please both action and horror fans. If Band spent more time making films like this and less time on killer dolls and puppets, his resume wouldn't be half as bad as it actually is. Also starring John Carradine (in his usual five minute cameo), Jerome Guardino, Paul Dubby and cult director John Hayes (MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS - 1974). I don't think that this ever received a U.S. home video release, although it was released on British VHS label VCL (the print I viewed) and on German DVD under the title DRACULAS TODESRENNEN ("Dracula's Deathrace"). Now available on widescreen DVD from Full Moon Direct. Rated PG.

CREATURES FROM THE ABYSS (1994) - As soon as I put this DVD into the player, I felt that I had stepped into some sort of alternative universe. I can't quite come up with the words of how I felt when watching this really, really bad creatures-on-the-loose film, except to say that I could not take my eyes off the screen. It's like viewing the aftermath of an awful train wreck: you try to turn your head away from the carnage but your brain tells you otherwise. Five really, really annoying teenagers stupidly take their rubber raft out to the middle of the ocean and run out of gas. They stumble upon a deserted yacht that was actually an oceanographic biology laboratory and turn the ship into their own private party boat. Some deep ocean fish, previously unknown, have eaten radioactive-poisoned plankton and have killed the yacht's previous inhabitants. Now it's the kids' turn. After finding one mentally-challenged professor hiding in the engine room, Mike (Clay Rogers) decides to investigate what has happened and does not like what he finds. The professor has turned the poisoned plankton into a powder, which Bobby (Michael Bon) snorted up his nose, thinking it was cocaine. Hey, you're going to have to watch the rest of this brain-damaged flick to find out how it ends. I can't begin to detail everything that is wrong with this film. It could be the incredibly bad dubbing and voice acting. It could be the jackhammer editing that doesn't make sense half the time. It could be the extremely poor special effects and stop-motion animation.  It could be the insane dialogue. Here's a sample:  MIKE: "Professor? Have you been fucking fish?!"  PROFESSOR: "They were old enough!!!"  Or it could be that this is most probably the best badfilm that I have personally witnessed in quite some time. Directed without a shred of talent by one Al Passeri (real name: Alvaro Passeri; THE MUMMY THEME PARK - 2000. I have also read that "Al Passeri" is a pseudonym for Italian director Massimilano Cerchi, but I can neither confirm or deny this, other than to say that their films are similarly awful. UPDATE: I can now confirm Al Passeri is not Massimilano Cerchi.), this Italian-made, Miami, Florida-lensed disaster (originally titled PLANKTON and also known as PIRANHA 4) contains nothing of value yet entertains with it's cheesy charms. A train wreck has nothing on this. A Shriek Show DVD Release. Not Rated, but CREATURES FROM THE ABYSS contains several sex scenes along with the ritual slaughter. Also starring Sharon Twomey, Loren DePalma and Ann Wolf. While all three are great to look at, they have brains the size of guppies.

THE CROSS OF SEVEN JEWELS (1987) - Try to keep up with me if you can. This film opens up with a robed Gordon Mitchell presiding over a sacrificial orgy where women are naked and getting whipped while other couples are just getting it on (including a guy with a hairy back and a huge potbetty, bleech!). Mitchell keeps asking for "Aborin" to appear and when it does, it looks like something that would have resulted if Chewbacca and a gorilla mated. The film then cuts to Marco (director Marco Antonio Andolfi using the name "Eddy Endolf") meeting his long-lost cousin Carmela in Naples for the first time in 20 years. While they are walking down the street, a man on a motor scooter steals Marco's necklace, which happens to be the title creation. He acts like someone just stole his testicles and flags down two police officers and they chase the man down, but he unfortunately has passed the cross on to someone else. So leads us on a long journey for Marco's search for his necklace as we learn bits and pieces why it is so important to him. Marco soon finds out that the person he thought was his cousin actually wasn't, which soon leads him down a road which includes thugs, drugs, crime, the Mob and other very, very bad things, all which are tied to the possession of the cross. And what is Gordon Mitchell's role in all this? It's soon apparent that the cross holds some mystical powers as Marco begins having flashbacks, a naked wolf-man with hairy hands and an even hairier face (but, strangely, hair no place else) begins killing people (they melt when he touches them), and a Mafia boss snatches Marco and holds him prisoner. Somehow, this all ties in to the sacrificial orgy that was taking place in the beginning of the film. Good luck in piecing it together. This obscure Italian hybrid, directed by one-time wonder Marco Antonio Andolfi (who also supplies the cheapjack time-lapse transformation effects), is one big jumbled mess but is all the more watchable because of it. Mixing horror, crime, action, thriller and supernatural genres, CROSS is a hard film to understand, even if you pay 100% attention to it. The further you get into the film, the weirder it gets, as you never know what direction it's heading. One minute you're witnessing a man melting before your eyes, then you see an acid trip-like flashback, then you are watching a Mafia drama and then......Aargh! My head's spinning! There's a truth serum interrogation, a stuttering mob informant, a truly hilarious werewolf transformation (try not to laugh at the absurdity of it all), a visit to a whorehouse, a love story, exploding bodies and too many other things (including beastiality) to mention. I'm still trying to figure out how the werewolf mysteriously loses all his clothes when he transforms (just a tiny piece of cloth hides his package) and then they magically re-appear when he changes back. If you are going to watch this film, please proceed carefully as a large number of you will not come out unscathed. I believe that's my highest recommendation. This film would leave David Lynch scratching his head. Also starring Annie Belle (HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK - 1979), Paolo Fiorino, Giorgio Ardisson and Zaira Zoccheddu. I managed to snag a German subtitled English-language copy of this film on DVD-R from a private collector as it never had a legitimate release in the States.  Not Rated, as it is chock-full of sex, nudity and bloody violence, including the death of a prostitute that contains all three elements. NOTE: This film is titled THE CROSS OF SEVEN JEWELS (it's the title on-screen) not CROSS OF THE SEVEN JEWELS as what seems to be printed on all the foreign VHS packaging I have seen.

DAMNED IN VENICE (1978) - "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth." - Apocalypse, Book Of Revelations 20:7
     Blind teenager Mark (Renato Cestie; one of the shotgun children at the end of Mario Bava's A BAY OF BLOOD - 1971) has a problem. Well, to be honest, more than one. He keeps telling sister Christine (Rena Niehaus; BLACK ANGEL - 1989) that he hears someone with a cane following them, but Christine hears nothing, steadfastly saying, "First it was visions, now you're hearing non-existent noises. It sounds like a guilty conscience. Why don't you get a guide dog, then you could go with him instead of me having to drag you around all the time!" (Yes, she's a real class act). They are on their way to a funeral, as we see during the opening credits (music by Pino Donnaggio; DON'T LOOK NOW - 1973; another film set in Venice), Mark and Christine walking down the narrow cobblestone streets of Venice and then taking a motor boat down one of the city's many canals. They then meet their friend George (Fabio Gamma) and Christine wants to know why he's going to the funeral, as she didn't know he knew the late Mr. Garrett. "Funerals always bring out the Anglo-Saxon wretches that are rotting here in Venice" is George's mysterious reply and he tells Mark that he's not going to the funeral, he is here to show a bunch of tourists around. Let's talk about Mark's "visions". Once at the funeral, Mark is blinded (so to speak) by a flash of bright light, where he "sees" (after hearing a human heart beating) a nattily dressed man with a mustache and holding a cane kissing a pretty woman dressed in a white gown, while a Doberman stands guard near them and then starts eating what looks like a human appendage lying on the ground. The couple looks directly at Mark and then disappear in another flash of light. Mark tells Christine that he saw the man with the cane in another vision, only this time he wasn't alone, he was with a woman and they were kissing. Christine is obviously pissed that she has to take care of her brother and constantly is putting him down, this time asking him, "You were frightened by two people kissing?" Mark tells her no, this vision was different. The dog was eating a human hand and the man looked at him and raised his cane, as if he were going to hit him with it. Mark points in the direction he saw the vision and Christine takes him there. It turns out to be the Winters family crypt, relatives of Mark and Christine. Once again, Christine puts down Mark, saying, "Ghosts kissing, dogs eating human hands, you're crazy!" On the boat ride back home, Christine sees a man with a cane standing on a bridge with a Doberman sitting at his feet. She then turns and looks at Mark, not telling him what she just saw.
     We then find out that Christine and George are engaged, but her grandmother (Bettine Milne; HOUSE OF CLOCKS - 1989), who accompanied them to the funeral, does not approve. Christine asks George how he is going to support her when they are married, as selling trinkets to tourists is not enough money to make her happy (It seems Christine has a low opinion of all men, not just her brother). Mark then tells them that he "felt" the woman from his vision has just passed them in a gondola and he begs George to go look (While Christine threatens to send Mark to a school for the blind!). George looks out the window and, sure enough, there is a mysterious cloaked woman in a gondola who looks directly at George and smiles. George tells Mark he is right and Christine says, "Marvelous, now you're seeing things as well. It was bad enough when only Mark was having hallucinations!" Why is this happening and why is Christine being such a cunt?
     We then see their grandmother talking to priest Father Christopher (Jose Quaglio; THE EYE BEHIND THE WALL - 1977), telling him that it will be over her dead body if Mark and Christine (who we discover are American) will go live with their Aunt Madeline and Uncle Martin, as their vacation time is spent with her (Saying this about their Aunt and Uncle: "My hearth is their home in Venice. As long as I am living, I will not allow the children anywhere near that house!"). When Mark and Christine arrive at the church, Granny chides them for being late, Christine shooting back with, "Granny, I'd like to see you if you had to play guide dog every time he wants to go out for a walk!" (This bitch needs a good slap in the face!). Granny tells them that their Aunt and Uncle want them to live in their house when they are in Venice and Christine sarcastically says, "Oh, how nice. The Winters have suddenly remembered we are still alive. What an honor!" (Maybe a punch in the face would be better!). We then discover that Mark and Christine's parents died in a "tragic accident". We also discover that they will inherit a butt load of money from their parent's trust, but only when Granny dies and she tells Father Christopher that will be a long time away, if she has any say in the matter. I think we all know what that means, since this is partially a giallo film, Granny doesn't have much time left, so let the killings begin!
     Father Christopher reminds them to be at the Easter Midnight Mass he is performing tonight for the Anglo-Saxon community. Once they are there, Mark has another vision where the man points his cane directly at him. When Mark gets up to take Communion, he accidentally knocks over a candle, which sets fire to Granny, killing her almost immediately (As she lies burning in the aisle, no one tries to put out the flames!). At Granny's funeral, no one bothers to attend, not even Aunt Madeline or Uncle Martin, but Father Christopher informs Mark and Christine that they must now live with them and since they are under the age of consent, there is nothing they can do about it. Mark goes to visit Father Christopher, telling him that his Aunt and Uncle are horrible people, but the good Father tells him a secret. "In a storeroom in the Winters house, there's a well with magic water. There was a time when people from all over the world would come to the well. Cripples would just touch the water and they could walk. The deaf would hear and the blind would see. The well is still there, full of miracle water." Is this story a bunch of bullshit to make Mark want to live at his Aunt and Uncle's house or is it true?
     Mark and Christine make the trip to move into their Aunt and Uncle's creepy boardinghouse. They knock on the front door and Uncle Martin (Tom Felleghy; EYEBALL - 1975) answers, but he doesn't know who they are or that they are supposed to live there, but Martin lets them in when Christine mentions Father Christopher's name. They then meet their Aunt Madeline (Olga Karlatos; ZOMBIE - 1979) and even she doesn't know who they are and what they are doing there, but she shows them to their rooms, an evil look on her face. As the kids walk through the boardinghouse, Christine notices (as do we) that all the furniture are covered in sheets and the building in a bad state of disrepair, with cracked walls, peeling paint and a general feeling that Martin and Madeline are purposely letting it get that way. What could this possibly mean?
     Madeline shows Mark and Christine to their rooms and when she opens a window, she says she always gets the feeling that someone is watching. She then asks them if they would like to see the rest of the house. Christine flatly says no, she has seen enough, but Mark asks Madeline if she could take him to the storeroom and show him the well. In the storeroom, Madeline shows Mark and Christine (who has to go with Mark everywhere, whether she complains or not) a stain on the floor, saying legend has it that the stain will get darker when something terrible is about to happen (Madeline is a very dour woman, much more than Granny ever was). She shows Mark the well, telling him it has only been opened twice in her lifetime and she knows there is no water in it. "They say so many things about it that just aren't true." says Madeline, as she leads them out of the storeroom without removing the cover to the well. Is Madeline telling the truth?
     Over lunch, Madeline makes a remark about how fruit rots so quickly in this house and Christine shoots back, "Well, it would help if you bought a fridge, but you'll need to do more than that to make this place a success." (Permission to slap the shit out of her, sir?). Martin tells Madeline if Christine wants to make changes, she can go right ahead and do it, but why does Madeline mention a cholera outbreak when she last tried to make changes? Martin serves wine to the kids during lunch (only in Italy, folks) and when Mark tapes a sip, he almost spits it out, saying it tastes like blood. Martin and Madeline, along with Christine, leave the table, leaving Mark on his own. He hears a woman moaning, gets up and then a chandelier falls on the table, right where Mark was sitting. Is this a warning or is someone (or something) trying to kill him?
     Mark is not familiar with the house and the bitchy Christine won't even show him where the bathroom is, telling Mark to find it on his own. Mark feels his way to the bathroom and when he turns on the sink to wash his hands, worms come out of the faucet (which he can't see). He then has another vision, where the man stabs Madeline to death with his cane. He rushes to tell Christine (Why???) and, once again, she belittles him with a snotty remark. He tells Martin he saw Madeline killed in Room 12, but Martin tells him that they are the only ones in the house, there is no one in Room 12. Christine grabs Mark and shakes him, but Martin stops her and leads Mark to Room 12 to prove to him no one is there. Where is Madeline when all this is happening? Martin says she is in her room, as she always takes a nap after lunch, but Mark wants to touch her to make sure she is OK. When they get to her room, Madeline looks sick, Martin telling them she has a weak heart and she gets like this from time to time. Madeline grabs Mark, telling him to beware of "Whitsunday" (the seventh Sunday after Easter, celebrated as a festival in commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost) and not to allow anyone in the house until it is over. Are those the ramblings of a delirious woman or is there truth in what she is saying? All of this happens in the first 30 minutes of the film, but what comes next blows everything that came before it out of the water.
     Madeline dies and Mark then meets neighbor Vicky (Gloria Bozzola), a pretty young girl who works in a gallery next door (Vicky and a nun are sitting over the body of Madeline on her deathbed, which I guess is an Italian tradition). They become friends and we learn that Mark lost his sight when he was six years old. Vicky takes him to the well and they take the cover off it, discovering that there is water in it. Before Mark can touch the water, he hears Martin talking to a man, who says that the children must be left alone until the baby is born. As Mark and Vicky are walking upstairs, Martin's body drops before them, an apparent suicide from hanging. Mark doesn't believe it, telling Father Christopher that the man Martin was talking to made him hang himself. Mark then has another vision, where a deformed hand reaches out to grab him from under the stairs and then the man with the cane slashes him on the face. When the vision is over, Mark's face is bleeding, but once again, Christine doesn't believe him. George then comes to the house to help Christine clean it up, hoping to pull in some boarders and make some money in the process. Then really strange shit happens to Mark. A ferry he is on catches fire and a stranger named Dan (Yorga Yoyagis; VAMPIRE IN VENICE - 1988), who looks just like the man with the cane, saves him. Since the boardinghouse is all cleaned up and ready for residents, Christine offers Dan the room of his choice. What room does he pick? That's right, he picks Room 12. Mark gets very nervous, because Whitsunday is coming up and he remembers Madeline warning him about not letting anybody in the house, but Christine doesn't care (no surprise there), she now runs the boardinghouse. Dan tells Christine that the bulb in his room is too bright and comes on to Christine, borrowing her scarf to put over the lampshade (Christine mentions to Dan that she saw him on a bridge with a dog and he doesn't seem too happy about that). Christine tells Mark that it's Whitsunday and his beliefs are "bullshit" when Mark mentions to her about Madeline's warning. While Mark is searching Dan's room, looking for something to convince Christine that Madeline's warning is true, Dan walks in and a widow opens and shatters on Mark's face, but he is unhurt. Mark begs Father Christopher to take him away, but it is becoming obvious that the good Father knows all about the evil plans for Mark and Christine. To make matters even worse, Christine breaks up with George and becomes Dan's lover.
     It also soon becomes rather obvious that it is Dan's job to get Christine pregnant so she can have Satan's baby, but can Mark stop it, as his visions become more frequent and he can finally see the truth? Mark "sees" Dan kill Vicky, but she turns up alive, making Christine more of a bitch than she usually is, if that is even humanly possible. Dan then leaves the boardinghouse, telling Christine he is leaving Venice because of Mark's constant accusations against him, but Christine is already pregnant (Father Christopher knows about the pregnancy before Christine does. Now she can blame her cuntly outbursts on the pregnancy!), but she denies Dan is the father (She tells Father Christopher, "He can't be. I never went to bed with him, if you know what I mean."). Christine marries George and tells him that the baby is his (Even though she won't have sex with him on their wedding night, telling him to wait until after the baby is born!). Since we don't care what happens to Christine (I haven't seen a more despicable person in a film in a long, long time), the question becomes: Will Mark convince George of the truth and will he get his sight back after drinking from the well? As the stain on the floor gets darker, Mark tries to stay alive, even though nearly everyone else is against him.
     There is no doubt that this is a very weird film (a twisted and thoroughly Italian take of ROSEMARY'S BABY - 1968), but is it any good? It all depends on your tolerance for broadly written characters and outrageous plot devices, put there just to make the film weird, as hardly any of them advance the plot. Even Christine's delivery of the baby, which we think will be dangerous and deadly, happens matter-of-factly, as she is on a ferry, has a stomach cramp and drops the baby on the spot (and since it is the Anti-Christ, it's a boy they name Alex). Director Ugo Liberatore, who is best known as a screenwriter (MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN - 1960; JOURNEY BENEATH THE DESERT - 1961; THE TROJAN HORSE - 1961; THE WITCH - 1966), working with a screenplay written by himself and Roberto Gandus (NO WAY OUT - 1973; MACABRE - 1980; MADHOUSE - 1981), seems more interested in making the film as outrageous as he can, rather than it making any sense and in that respect, it succeeds. But even if I were blind, I wouldn't take the crap that Christine dishes out (Hey, I had an older sister and I fully understand how bitchy they can be, but, c'mon, Christine is a bitch with a capital "C"!). She refuses to change one iota or believe a word Mark says, even though she can see it is all coming true. And Mark? He sees things clearer than anyone with 20/20 vision could ever perceive! In those aspects, this film fails wildly, because even an imbecile could understand what is going on here, but most of the people in this film are worse than imbeciles, it's like they weren't born with brains at all. So if you want to see weird for weird's sake, by all means, you'll probably love this film, but if you want coherence and a plot that's easy to follow, look somewhere else. Any film by David Lynch will do because any one of them makes more sense than this. About the only thing about this film I find memorable is Pino Donaggio's haunting music score, a mixture of choral chants and screaming violins.

SOME OF THE OTHER STRANGE SIGHTS ON VIEW (During the latter half of the film):

*A church full of human heads in glass jars.
*Christine turns the boardinghouse into a hooker hotel, using her female friends as whores, telling them she doesn't care what they do, as long as she gets her percentage.
*Drinking worms and passing out.
*George, who is a sculpts as a hobby, displaying his many spiked metal sculptures
*Father Christopher falls off a ferry and is beheaded by its propeller after performing an emergency baptism on Alex
*Christine and George making love in front of Mark as he holds baby Alex.
*Vicky's rotting corpse covered in worms and maggots.
*Alex pushing a baby carriage containing Alex into a canal.
*A naked Christine and her female friends killing George by pounding nails into his face and using his sculpture tools to carve up his naked body.
*A Last Supper-like scene where Christine and her whore girlfriends dance with a woman wearing an ape and skull mask.
*Mark throwing Alex into one of George's spiked sculptures (The film's standout scene that must be seen to be believed!).
*No matter what Mark does to Alex, he always bounces back, no worse for wear.
*George coming back as a ghost to warn Mark that "The son of evil has made his kingdom on Earth."
There's not one scene in the film where something weird doesn't happen. It's a cornucopia of strangeness, something you don't see very often.
     Shot as NERO VENEZIANO ("Venetian Black"), this film never received a theatrical or home video release in any format in the United States, although various gray market sellers offer it on DVD-R. I saw a nice anamorphic widescreen print (dubbed in English) on YouTube. Just type the Italian title in YouTube's search bar. Also starring Ely Galleani (LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN - 1971), Angela Covello (THE SLASHER...IS THE SEX MANIAC! - 1972), Lorraine DeSelle (THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK - 1979) and Florence Barnes. Not Rated. I'm not certain if this would ever get a rating here in the States due to its overall tone of hopelessness.

DANGEROUS SEDUCTRESS (1992) - If you liked MYSTICS IN BALI (1981) and LADY TERMINATOR (1988), then this film should be right up your alley. All three share the same director (H. Tjut Djalil, using the pseudonym "John Miller" here and using "Jalil Jackson" on others), the same Indonesian locales and the same twisted logic that could only exist in some alternate universe. This film opens up in Jakarta with a car chase between three diamond robbers and a cop with a chip on his shoulders. When the robbers' car crashes, dismembering one's arm and another's finger and spilling buckets of blood on the local flora, a model called Linda (Kristin Ann) witnesses the whole thing and is questioned by police. In a scene that can only be described a surreal, the dismembered finger walks to a hidden amulet (with a mirror in it) which swallows it up, the blood dripping from the plants is ingested by the amulet and the bones of a long-dead witch (Amy Weber) begin to re-attach themselves. Not quite fully developed (she only has one good arm and leg, the other two just skeletal), the witch beheads a nosy dog and sucks out all it's blood. She is then grabbed by the hands of Hell and pulled underground! Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Linda's sister Suzy (Tonya Offer) is being raped and brutalized by her boyfriend. She phones her sister who tells her to come to Jakarta to stay with her. Suzy goes to Jakarta just as Linda is sent to Bali on a modeling assignment.  Suzy finds a book of Indonesian spells given to Linda by an expert on local legends. Suzy recites one of the spells and brings the witch to her full-length mirror. The witch possesses Suzy and soon she is dressing in sexy clothing, picking up men and draining them of all their blood. She goes back to the mirror, slits her throat and feeds the blood (it comes out in a tidal wave) to the witch on the other side of the mirror. The cop becomes suspicious and meets his death when Suzy levitates his car in mid-air and blows it up. The man who gave Linda the spell book shows up in the nick of time to save Linda and Suzy, only to be sucked in the mirror. When Suzy opens the amulet, she sees the demonic face of the man. THE END. That's the best I can describe this delirious exercise which is part horror, part travelogue, part dance film and part model posing. There's plenty of blood, as one man is speargunned through the leg and pinned to a wall while Suzy slices him with a fish hook, three other horny men are slaughtered by meat hook and cleaver in meat locker and Suzy's abusive boyfriend (who tracks her down) is hung by his ankles and sliced and decapitated by flying shards of glass. It's all rather disjointed (just like LADY TERMINATOR) and the English spoken could only come from the pages of Indonesian writers who think this is the way Americans actually talk. That's part of it's charm. Another is the little bits of lunacy that occur throughout the film: The American diamond robber continuously slugging his driver while being chased in the beginning of the film is knee-slapping funny; the way the decapitated finger walks is also hilarious; the jazz score during the robbery chase is definitely out of place; the sex scenes have all the men still wearing their underwear, and some of the effects are truly priceless, especially the witch's reincarnation. This all adds up to a really weird experience which all of us need every once in a while. One caveat: The version on DVD released by Mondo Macabro optically censors the female nudity by placing white dots on nipples and ass-cracks. The version released on DVD-R by Midnight Video does not optically censor the nudity. It really doesn't hurt the film as nudity is at a minimum, but one wonders why Mondo Macabro released this version. American special effects artist Steve Prouty (TRUTH OR DARE?: A CRITICAL MADNESS - 1986) was imported to do the effects for the picture. They are memorable. Director Djalil has many more Indonesian films that are ripe to be discovered. Someone should release them. Any takers out there? Unrated for all the really good reasons.

DEAD INN (1997) - Existential horror comedy about a funeral supply salesman named Bob Marley (Mark Miller, and, no, he doesn't have dreadlocks) who makes his first delivery to the creepy Hillcrest Inn, which doubles as both an Inn and a mortuary (who the hell would stay there?), both run by the equally creepy Doc (Edgar Allan Poe IV, and, yes, he is related) and his beautiful granddaughter Billie Jo (Kerstin Steinback). Romantic sparks fly between the nerdy Bob and cute Billie Jo (they both share an interest in big hairy spiders) and Billie Jo talks him into taking a room at the inn for the night. Trouble ensues when a quartet of escaped cons, led by the dastardly Johnny Burns (Todd Kimsey) and his girlfriend Kelly (Jessica Russo), pick the Hillcrest Inn to hide-out in for a couple of days. It's apparent that Doc, who is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, welcomes the company of the criminals, as he begins playing mind games with them using his black magic powers. One of the cons, Jackson (Joey Covington), looks out a window and watches as two zombies rise from their graves and sing "The worms go in, the worms go out..." to him while they sway to the music. Johnny rapes and kills Billie Jo (offscreen), beats the crap out of Bob and then slashes Kelly to death with a strait razor when she disobeys him. Doc and his wheelchair disappear, so Johnny sends his goons to find him, while Bob brings Billie Jo's dead body down to the mortuary and revives her with a magical white powder created by Doc. Bob is the next to die when he challenges Johnny to a fight and loses (badly). When Johnny discovers that Doc was just in the bathroom taking a crap (!), Doc convinces Johnny and his gang to stay for a séance that he holds for a bunch of old broads every week. Meanwhile, Billie Jo has reanimated Bob with the white powder and they join the séance, much to the surprise of a shocked Johnny. At the séance, a possessed Billie Jo rips a Devil tattoo off of Johnny's forearm and throws it on the middle of the table, where it transforms into a lifesize skeletal Devil (complete with wings), forcing Johnny and his gang to split up and flee into different parts of the inn/mortuary. The first one to die is Pyles (Julian Chachula Jr.), whose hands become possessed and he blows his brains out. After chopping-up Pyles' possessed body with a machete, Hernando (Stuart Barron) is killed by the skeletal Devil. Jackson tries to escape through the graveyard, but is captured by some zombies and hanged by his neck. Only Johnny seemingly escapes, but three months later, he is gunned down and his car blown up by a gang that are the spitting image of his dead comrades. A twist ending reveals that Johnny may have gotten his hands on Doc's magic white powder. Doc has got some 'splaining to do!  This half-baked horror comedy, directed by Jim Goodman (his only feature directorial credit) and written by Henry Lindley, has some effective scenes but is for the most part a hit-or-miss affair, with more misses than hits. The standout performer here is Edgar Allan Poe IV as Doc, who is creepy as hell whether he is spitting out metaphysical dialogue or returning from a particularly odorous bathroom break. The inn/mortuary is another creepy plus, with its organic, vine-filled hallways and dusty air. You can almost feel the chilly draft and choke on the musty air as the characters navigate the building. The minuses, on the other hand, are many, as most of the other performers couldn't act their way out of a traffic ticket, there are too many comic sound effects (when someone gets hit on the head, we hear birds tweeting, just like in cartoons), and most of the dialogue goes way beyond metaphysical and borders on pretentiousness (At one point in the film, Billie Jo and Bob quote verbatim the lyrics of Meat Loaf's song "Paradise By The Dashboard Lights" as they confess their love for each other. I half-expected the Loaf to make a cameo appearance to wipe both their brows with his sweaty doo-rag, but no such luck). There are a few creative makeup effects on view, but most of the bloodshed is purposely left out of camera range (Johnny's bloody demise is an exception). There is also female nudity on view, but none of it is very titillating (ahem) unless the sight of naked corpses turn you on (You sick fucking bastard!). There is a nice topless scene towards the end when a (very beautiful) girl rises from a lake and kisses Johnny, but it, too, turns perverse very quickly. When all is said and done, DEAD INN (also known as ANOTHER EVIL DEAD II: DEAD INN) can be best described as an interesting failure. Filmed in North Carolina. Also starring Frankie Rich, Rick Marshall and Chris Marshall. A Spectrum Films/Dead Alive VHS Release. Not available on U.S. DVD, but a Spanish DVD is available with English audio. Not Rated.

DEATH LAID AN EGG (1968) - We watch as people at an ultra-mod hotel go through their morning routine (including a man putting a plastic bag over his head for reasons unknown. Perhaps suicide?), where a man listens to a prostitute talking "dirty" to her client in the room next door. The peeping tom wants to see what is going on (he is listening to the action through a vent in the bathroom), so he climbs off his terrace and steps over to the next, staring through the blinds to see the man (who is wearing black leather gloves) cut the prostitute's throat with a sharp knife. That man is Marco (Jean-Louis Trintignant; THE GREAT SILENCE - 1968), who is an executive at his wife Anna's (Gina Lollobrigida; THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME - 1956) poultry business, which has just gone through a major automation rennovation, where automatic feeding station and chicken-plucking machines have been installed in a rather large chicken farm (it looks like a large greenhouse, except with thousands of clucking chickens, all neatly arranged in cages like some hallucinogenic slaughterhouse of a zoo), resulting in a major lay-off of all the workers at the farm, who stand in mass outside the farm, throwing insults (and sometimes objects) at Anna, Marco and Anna's younger (and pretty) cousin/secretary Gabrielle (Ewa Aulin; DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973). A large and heavy pipe wrench falls from one of the silos, nearly beaning Anna on the head and she blames the workers, but Marco tells her it was simply an accident. Was it?
     Marco is a very unhappy man; not only is he broke, living off Anna's vast fortune, but he has been saddled with a new employee, Mondaini (Jean Sobieski; PERVERSION STORY - 1969), by the company's President (Conrad Anderson), who thinks the business needs a marketing facelift to go along with the new automation, telling Marco that Mondaini is a "marketing genius." Mondaini is also the peeping tom at the hotel, who saw Marco kill the prostitute. Marco is also madly in love with Gabrielle, but she's the type of woman who judges a man by how much money he has and since Marco has none, she sees no future with him, saying to Marco, "Love is a luxury" (She's the typical late-'60s golddigger, who lives in a pop culture world). One night, Marco sneaks out of the bedroom (past a sleeping Anna) to have a planned rendezvous with Gabrielle (whom he calls "Gabi", so I will, too), but she is not in her bedroom. He hears noises coming from the chicken farm, so he goes to investigate, seeing nothing but the headlights of a car driving away. He accidentally knocks over some glass tubing in the laboratory located in the chicken farm, puts it back where he thinks it belongs and goes back to bed. This one act will change Marco forever and how it does is quite ingenious.
     The next morning, Marco asks Gabi where she was last night, as they had agreed to be together. She tells him she had a splitting headache, so she went looking for her pills, forgetting where she put them (an obvious lie). Marco goes back to the laboratory and finds a scarf (that wasn't in the lab last night when he was there) that contains strange symbols printed on it that Marco can't decipher, but he becomes obsessed with it and stuffs it in his jacket pocket. A scientist (Biagio Pelligra; ROME: ARMED TO THE TEETH - 1976) enters the lab and tells Marco that someone broke into the lab last night, saying that if anyone messed with the top secret experiment he is working on, it could mean the extinction of the next generation of chickens and the end of Anna's poultry empire. Marco tells him he will look into the matter and leaves the laboratory, meeting Gabi at an open-air cafe. He notices she is wearing a scarf with the same strange symbols on it and shows her the one he took from the lab, asking her if she knows who it belongs to. Gabi says she got hers from Anna's wardrobe closet, she always borrows her clothes, but she has no idea where the scarf in the lab came from, telling Marco he should talk to his wife.
     We can see that Marco's mind is unravelling, as we see his thoughts as rapid-fire images (a remarkable editing job by this film's co-writer, Franco Arcalli [BLACK JESUS - 1968]). We see a burning overturned car with a dead body lying next to it, as a woman with a bloody face walks towards the camera; numerous close-ups of chickens (Man they are ugly birds, especially when you see them this close!); numerous shots of traffic on the highway and numerous other images, all showing us how badly Marco's mind is deteriorating and how he is about to snap. The turning point comes when Marco discovers Gabi is having a love affair with Mondaini, Gabi telling Marco that Mondaini is young, handsome and successful (i.e. he has money), all the things Marco isn't. When Mondaini shows Marco his ideas for the new marketing campaign, where cartoon chickens are dressed like humans and doing human things (like going to cocktail parties), we can see that Mondaini is pushing Marco past the breaking point, but is he doing it on purpose? Damn right he is! (The marketing campaign is hilariously bad, but very humorous in its execution!). Rather than killing Mondaini right there and then, Marco makes a trip to the ultra-mod hotel, pays the hotel manager (Giulio Donnini; DANGER: DIABOLIK - 1968) to pick out a prostitute from the hotel bar that meets Marco's criteria and give her a key to his room, where Marco murders her with his knife while wearing black leather gloves, all of which he keeps in his business briefcase.
     Anna throws a party at her mansion, where Mondaini comes up with the idea to clear out a room of all its furnishings and belongings so that it is just a room with four white walls and nothing else; he then has two people, a man and a woman, go inside the room and close the door; not to come out until they discover the true meaning of "love" (It's a strange game but it makes sense in a very perverse way!). For some people. it's a rather quick experience, as they come out either smiling or crying, but when Gabi and Mondaini spent too much time in the room for Marco's liking, he throws a fit and the party ends. After everyone leaves, Anna finds an envelope with her name on it and when she reads the note inside, it's her turn to have a fit. The note tells her that Marco is a serial killer of prostitutes and details his exploits at the hotel. Anna asks Gabi who would write such lies about her husband, but Anna is asking the wrong person. That's right, Gabi and Mondaini are not only lovers, they plan on murdering Anna and Marco so Gabi can inherit Anna's fortune and the "world will belong" to them. The note was just the first step to turn Anna against Marco to make their deaths look like a murder/suicide by cop, but will they be successful?
     In what has to be the films best WTF?!? moment, we see the new generation of chickens hatch and Marco is disgusted to see to see that they are living headless and wingless chickens (!!!) with very little bone structure that grow quickly without being fed (!!!!!!). Both Anna and the scientist who created them are quite pleased, saying this will revolutionize the way chickens are raised and marketed and it means a fortune will be made for Anna's business since she owns the patent. Marco is outraged, saying these abominations go against God, so he destroys the headless/wingless wonders (that look like pulsating brains with chicken legs!). Marco gets chewed-out by the company President, so he quits, thinking this is his chance to start a new life, but first he makes one last trip to his favorite hotel. He doesn't know that Gabi has talked Anna into dressing like a prostitute and confronting Marco in his regular hotel room, Room 724, which he rents out on a monthly basis. Anna pays the hotel manager to phone her with the next day and time her husband will be using Room 724. When that day comes, Marco finds Anna dead in Room 724, her throat cut by Mondaini, who goes to work with two huge scratch marks on his face, put there by Anna, who was fighting for her life, but lost the battle. Gabi phones the police and tells them to go to Room 724 immediately; they will find a murdered woman and her killer there. What Gabi and Mondaini (as well as us) don't realize is things were never what they seemed to be. When the police arrive at the hotel and tell the manager that someone reported a murder in Room 724, all of Marco's previous "victims" appear and laugh, telling the Police Inspector (Aldo Bonamano; DEEP RED - 1975) that it's all a weird "game" played by "a nice man who wouldn't hurt a fly" (One prostitute says, "I was murdered in that room at least four times this month!"). That's right, Marco never murdered anyone, it was all a sex game between him and the prostitutes; he paid each of them a large amount of money to play along with him (Which is why, if you think about it, there were no stories or reports of a serial killer being on the loose). When the police enter Room 724, it is empty; Marco has put Anna's body in his car and is driving to the chicken farm, looking to dump her body in the new industrial chicken food grinder and getting rid of her body without a trace of it being left for the police to discover. I'm not going to tell you how the film ends. Let's just say that nearly everyone gets their just desserts and the ending will make you think long and hard about what the next generation of chickens may look like. The final image will not only make you laugh, it will also make you think. This late-'60s semi-giallo is a groovy happening that will blow your mind!
     Directed and co-written by Giulio Questi, who the year before gave us the surreal Gothic Spaghetti Western  DJANGO KILL! (IF YOU LIVE SHOOT!) and whose only other feature film was the little-seen supernatural horror tale ARCANA (1972; look for a review soon), this film belongs in a genre I like to call "Pop Culture Horror"; films released in the late-'60s that were full of colorful set designs, fashions and ideas that could have only come from that time period (see my review for A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY - 1968). You may not understand a lot of it, especially if you never survived the late-'60s as I did, but you will never be bored, as Questi and co-writer Franco Arcalli (who co-wrote and edited all three of Questi's feature films) fills this film with images delivered in jackhammer style, making things quite ordinary (such as highway traffic, billboards and the outside of the ultra-mod hotel) seem dangerous and extraordinary. Questi's pop art sensibility really shines here, as does Bruno Maderna's music score, which is not music in the general sense, but rather a cacaphony of sounds, such as cymbal crashes, breakage and other noises signifying Marco losing his grip on reality. It's a shame that Questi didn't make more films, but I can guess that as the 1960's ended and everything started to change (for the worse), including the way we look at sex, drugs, love and war, Questi lost interest in making films, turning his attention towards television until his death in 2014 at the age of 90. And we are all the worse off for it. Believe me, I have only mentioned about ten percent of what actually happens in this film, but I will say this: After watching this film, you may never eat chicken again. This is a classic of its short-live genre; a film, that once seen, is never forgotten.
     Shot as LA MORTE HA FATTO L'UOVO ( a literal translation of the review title) and also known as PLUCKED and A CURIOUS WAY TO LOVE, this film obtained a U.S. theatrical release (albeit edited of some 16 minutes, which has become known as the "Giallo Edit") by U.M (Universal-Marion) Film Distributors, Inc and was given a self-applied X-Rating (even though there is very little nudity or violence in this film). Shortly thereafter, U.M. edited out even more footage and released it under the PLUCKED title, where it garnered an R-Rating from the MPAA. Surprisingly, there were no legitimate VHS or DVD releases in the United States, but many gray market companies, such as Desert Island Classics and Rogue Video, released it on DVD-R, using the 88-minute Giallo Edit as their master. In 2017, Cult Epics released a beautiful Blu-Ray, but it was still the 88-minute version. If you have an All Region Blu-Ray player, British outfit Nucleus Films offers the full 104-minute version on Blu-Ray for the first time anywhere in the world. This 2018 release also contains the Giallo Edit and a load of other extras (including Giulio Questi's final interview). The Giallo Edit is also available streaming on Amazon Prime in a beautiful anamorphic widescreen print in Italian with English subtitles. Prime also offers the English-dubbed version, but since I love to watch films in their original language, I skipped looking at it (a cursory glance revealed that it was in widescreen). A widescreen English-dubbed print is also available streaming on YouTube from user "Edgar Ville". Also featuring Renato Romano (SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS - 1972), Vittorio André (CALTIKI, THE IMMORTAL MONSTER - 1959), Margherita Horowitz (SUSPIRIA - 1977) and Ugo Adinolfi (KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE - 1968). The chemistry between Jean-Louis Trintignant and Ewa Aulin is palpable since they both starred in director Tinto Brass' DEADLY SWEET the previous year. Not Rated, but even though there is very little female nudity (Still, Questi has a predeliction for displaying naked female and male flesh, just not in the places you want to see, including extreme close-ups of Marco's acne-ridden, sweaty back!), the overall tone of the film would probably earn it an R-Rating, even today.

DELIRIUM (1972) - I am constantly fascinated and surprised with the films of director/screenwriter Renato Polselli (THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA - 1960; THE MONSTER OF THE OPERA - 1961/1964; THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO SATAN - 1972; MANIA - 1974), who, once again, uses the Anglicized name "Ralph Brown" here. I also have to reassess my opinion of actor/bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay (BLOODY PIT OF HORROR - 1965), as I usually found him very vanilla, but in Polselli's films he turns in psychotic, eye-bulging performances that are quite surprising and extremely enjoyable to watch. Some would say his performances border on delirium and I would not disagree with them, because in this film and Polselli's BLACK MAGIC RITES (1973), made back-to-back with many of the same actors and behind-the-scenes personnel, Hargitay is a joy to behold; his face so expressive and violent it will bring a sly smile to your face. So let's get to the psycho-sexual giallo film at hand, which is available in two versions: The original Italian cut and a shorter edit for American audiences (because, you know, we need protecting!), shorn of nearly 20 minutes of footage with outtakes not used in the Italian version to pad it out. I will be reviewing the longer Italian cut, but at the end of this review I will tell you how it differs from the American edit.
     We see criminal psychologist/police consultant Dr. Herbert Lyutak (Mickey Hargitay; LADY FRANKENSTEIN - 1971) eyeing a pretty young girl in the Red Garter Bar, as she is dancing in a short miniskirt to some funky music playing on the jukebox (this film's unusual music score is supplied by Gianfranco Reverberi; DJANGO, PREPARE A COFFIN - 1968). He hears her tell her boyfriend over the phone that she doesn't know where the nightclub he is performing at is located, so Herbert tells her he knows where it is, it is near where he lives and offers her a ride, which she gladly accepts. Big mistake. As he is driving, the girl begins to get nervous at the way he is staring at her thighs, so she tries to lower her skirt (good luck trying that with a miniskirt!). She also notices that they are on a deserted back road and begs Herbert not to hurt her, but he grabs her crotch and refuses to let go. Herbert then stops the car and tells the girl to get out and run away as fast as she can because he doesn't want to hurt her. She takes his advice, jumps out of the car and begins to run away, but Herbert's lust gets the best of him and he runs after her, catching her in a shallow river, where he tears off her clothes, puts his hands around her neck and then beats her to death with a tree branch.
     A short time later, Police Inspector Edwards (Raul Lovecchio; BLOOD AND DIAMONDS - 1977), his assistant Willy (William Darni) and police officer Richard (Max Dorian; KIDNAP SYNDICATE - 1975) are at the crime scene with Herbert, who is helping the police with a series of vicious murders of pretty young women, whom are found dead and naked, but not sexually assaulted. The police are completely unaware that the killer is actually Herbert, but is he the only serial killer at large? Apparently not, for as Herbert is helping the Inspector with his investigation, another young woman is viciously assaulted and killed in a phone booth at a park, the exact same method used by Herbert! The police pull in four men from the area who have no reason for being in the park at night and one man, John Lacey (Tano Cimarosa; director of the giallo film REFLECTIONS IN BLACK - 1975), looks guilty as hell, but he tells the Inspector that he used the park grounds to take a shit (!) and he can collect the "evidence" on the ground where he dropped it (He also has blood on his shirt, which he tells the Inspector is from a nose bleed. That must have been one violent shit!). Lacey is arrested, but is soon let go for lack of evidence (we never find out if he actually pinched a loaf!), the Inspector assigning Richard to follow and keep a close eye on him.
     We then discover that Herbert is impotent and his loving wife, Marcia (Rita Calderoni; A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY - 1968), is still a virgin! She has an inkling that her husband is the serial killer, but she loves him so much, she is willing to overlook it! Marcia also has violent nightmares, where she and housekeeper Laurel (Cristina Perrier), along with Herbert's niece, Joaquine (Christa Barrymore), have lesbian sex in a dungeon, while Herbert is chained up and forced to watch them, having some type of conniption fit as he watches his wife go at it with two other women (We know that Laurel is also a little unhinged, as she graphically masturbates while she secretly listens to Herbert and Marcia proclaim their love for each other!). The past two days have been so busy, Herbert forgot to give his wife a card he wrote for her for their anniversary, so he hands it to her. The card says that he thinks they should separate because he is impotent and it is not fair for her since she is a wife and still a virgin! Marcia tells Herbert no, she still loves him and he can do anything he wants to her, fully aware of his violent sexual tendencies. He begins kissing her and her moans of pleasure make him put his hands around her throat and begin choking her. He then turns her over on her stomach, pulls a circular metal object out of a lockbox (I tried several times to find out what the object was, with no success. It looks like a sharp metal dildo!), slices her back with it and then sodomizes her with it! When he realizes what he is doing, he stops himself, looks in the mirror and says, "Enough, Herbert! You are a hyena! Hyena!" Marcia keeps telling Herbert, "I love you! You can do anything you want to me! I love you Herbert!" Herbert can't face himself another day, so he comes up with a way to get caught in the act of killing a young woman. He phones the Inspector and tells him he has created an extensive "metereopsychic" profile of the killer (What??? Does this actually exist???) and that he knows where the serial killer will strike next (at the park), so all he has to do is put a female cop as a decoy and wait for the killer to strike. The Inspector agrees and puts the plan into action. What Herbert doesn't know is that Marcia heard the phone call. Needless to say, none of this is going to go down that way it was planned.
     The female cop used as a decoy is Miss Heindrich (Katia Cardinali; Polselli's HOUSE OF LOVE...THE POLICE INTERVENE - 1978), who was once a patient of Herbert's. While the Inspector, Willy and Richard keep a close eye on Miss Heindrich, they don't notice that John Lacey is also in the park. As Herbert approaches Miss Heindrich, fully intent on killing her, another prostitute in the park is murdered by someone wearing a gorilla mask (!), spoiling Herbert's plans. They all rush to the crime scene after hearing the woman's screams and see the prostitute's naked dead body, but Miss Heindrich sees the murder weapon on the ground and takes it before the Inspector can see it (or so she thought). Later that night, Miss Heindrich phones Herbert's house and talks to Marcia, telling her to have Herbert call her as soon as possible, she found something on the ground that she recognized and she wants Herbert to see it before she turns it over to the Inspector. Later on, someone wearing black gloves and wielding a whip, enters Miss Heindrich's apartment and begins whipping her and ends up drowning Miss Heindrich in her own bathtub (It has the bluest water I have ever seen!), using the whip's handle to masturbate Miss Heindrich as she dies! When the Inspector and Willy get to Miss Heindrich's apartment, they find her naked and dead on the bathroom windowsill and when Willy goes to collect her body, it falls a couple of floors to the pavement below (if she wasn't dead, she is now!) and the Inspector chews-out Willy for not being careful.
     John Lacey followed the killer from the park back to a secret entrance to Herbert's house in the basement. He watches the killer try to murder Laurel (with a hotshot of morphine and then being gassed with propane! There is also a quite graphic masturbation sequence that will make many people uncomfortable). Joaquine locks Lacey in the basement, but he gets free, turns off the gas and calls the Inspector from Herbert's office. The Inspector puts a trace on the phone call when Lacey refuses to tell him where he is, only saying that he has proof that will free him. Herbert comes home and sees a note on the door written by Joaquine saying that she trapped someone in the basement. A fight breaks out between Lacey and Herbert and Lacey is knocked out and arrested by the Inspector. Laurel is still alive (thanks to Lacey) and may be able to finger the serial killer, so the Inspector lets Laurel stay at Herbert's house under his care until she wakes up. A short time later, Laurel disappears, making Marcia and Joaquine very nervous. Is it possible one of these women is also the copycat serial killer, murdering young women to get the heat off Herbert? Count on it! The final denouement is a cacophony of hysterics, something that is better seen than explained. It involves someone swinging a mace and someone getting impaled in the chest by a metal rake, as the Inspector and Willy try to find a way into Herbert's house.

     That basically explains the Italian cut, but let's get to the differences between the Italian and American edits, which are quite substantial.

*The Italian cut runs 102 minutes. The American version runs 85 minutes, shortening some scenes and replacing others completely with scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor.

*In the American version, it opens with footage of the war in Vietnam, as we watch Herbert smash a Cong soldier in the face over-and-over with the butt of his rifle. Herbert is then shot in the groin, put on a helicopter and is put under the care of nurse Marcia. They then fall in love with each other. It helps explain his impotency and why they love each other, something that is missing in the Italian cut. The film then continues with the opening of the Italian edit in the Red Garter Bar, only the whole sequence is much shorter and the dialogue is different. The young girl's murder is also shortened of some graphic nudity.

*The phone booth murder is much shorter.

*The line-up sequence is shorter, cutting out two British bobbies (The Italian version takes place in London, but the American cut wants us to believe it is some small town in the U.S., but the presence of the red wooden phone booth tells you differently!). It also eliminates Lacey's "taking a shit" remark.

*Marcia's nightmares are longer and her back slicing and sodomy by metal dildo are missing. Also missing is Herbert's "Hyena" dialogue. It is replaced by, "That's enough! That's enough! Do you hear?!?" and when he looks in the mirror, he has 'Nam flashbacks.

*Miss Heindrich's decoy sequence is cut differently and is much shorter; many scenes are missing and we get a clearer look at the gorilla mask the killer is wearing.

*Miss Heindrich's death is also cut differently, but her bathtub water is still amazingly blue! No masturbation with the whip's handle, either.

*In the Italian version, Herbert picks up a schoolgirl named Florence (actress unknown) whom he lets escape. In the American version, he murders her.

*A new character is introduced in the American version: Joaquine's sister and Herbert's niece, Bonita (Carmen Young). Herbert tells Bonita that he wants her to play a phone prank on Marcia and when she calls her on the phone, Marcia listens in horror as Herbert kills Bonita by suffocation, putting a plastic bag over her head!

*The finale is completely different (I like it better than the Italian version). One character dies differently at the barrel of the Inspector's gun. The ending is one for the books: We see Herbert dying on the helicopter in Vietnam and everything we have just witnessed was all in Herbert's mind, proving you could live a full life in a blink of an eye! (A very interesting take on Ambrose Bierce's AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE - 1962).

*There are many more differences, but the above were the most noticeable. Mickey Hargitay supplied his own voice in the American edit and his thick Hungarian accent will make you yearn for Schwarzenegger's clarity!
     To hell with linear storytelling, if you like films that are as far off the wall as they can get, there is no one better at it than Renato Polselli. He seemingly lived on another planet completely different than ours, which are why his movies are as far removed from reality as they can possibly get. But this is his strength, not a weakness, which is why his films are such a trip to watch. Don't come looking for common sense, because you will be disappointed. Be prepared for the strange, so just sit back, relax and take it all in. No need for a controlled substance here. This is the filmic equivalent of THC and you'll be laughing in no time, whether you want to or not. You won't be able to control yourself. And that's the genius of Renato Polselli.
     Shot as DELIRIO CALDO ("Hot Delirium"), this film got a U.S. theatrical release from a small outfit called Romatt Releasing (I never heard of them, as this was their only U.S. theatrical release). This never had a VHS release in the States, so ignore IMDb when they say it had one from Academy Entertainment. As usual for IMDb, it is a mistake. Academy released a 1979 film called DELIRIUM (a.k.a. PSYCHO PUPPET), an action/thriller directed by Peter Maris. A DVD followed from Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2002 and then a DVD from Blue Underground in 2008, both who offered the two edits on one DVD. There have been no upgrades since then, but if you cannot find the DVD, be aware that YouTube has both versions from a user named "Giallo Realm". I suggest you watch them as soon as possible because that user often finds himself in "YouTube Jail" (I think you know why). Also featuring Marcello Bonini Olas (PSYCHOUT FOR MURDER - 1969), Stefano Oppedisano (NIGHT OF THE DEVILS - 1972) and Stefania Fassio as the unfortunate first victim. Raul Lovecchio, who portrays Inspector Edwards, was also a minor pop star in Italy who went by the singular name "Raoul". He sings the manic song "How Many People", which closes out this movie over a series of photographs of the film's sex scenes (It is the same on both edits)! Not Rated.

THE DEMON LOVER (1976) - This film gained notoriety over the decades, thanks to the excellent documentary, THE DEMON LOVER DIARY (1980), which showed the behind-the-scenes bickering and back-stabbing that went into making this independent no-budget film, but the sad fact is the actual film is a chore to sit through, as it is badly acted and the technical credits (photography, lighting, sound, editing and music) are all sub-par. This was the first directorial credit for the late Donald G. Jackson (ROLLER BLADE - 1986 [and its many increasingly-inferior sequels]; HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN - 1987 [and its many increasingly-inferior sequels]; ARMAGEDDON BOULEVARD - 1998), who shares directing/producing/screenwriting chores with Jerry Younkins, who never made another film thanks to the experience of making this one. The film opens with black magic practitioner Laval Blessing (Christmas Robbins, who lost a finger prior to making this movie, which is why he wears a strange leather glove-like object on his left hand) calling forth a demon, which slaughters Pamela (who wakes up from a nightmare, grabs the keys to her AMC Gremlin and drives it to the middle of the woods while still wearing her nightie!) and drags her bloody body through the forest. The film switches to earlier that night (it doesn't state so, but after watching the film a few times, it's the only thing that makes sense) to a party at Laval's castle, where a guy who looks just like Frank Zappa lets the sarcastic Damian (Val Mayerik) into the house. Damian complains about everything he sees (except the two overweight and ugly people doing the Bump in the living room while generic rock music plays), while Laval tries to talk Damian's girlfriend, Pamela, into joining him in a sexual magic ritual (both Laval and Pamela are sitting in a pyramid-like tent set-up in one of the upstairs bedrooms!). Pamela freaks-out in front of everyone and we learn that this is not only a party, it is also one of Laval's regularly scheduled coven meetings, where he imparts nuggets of wisdom (and a little black magic knowledge) to his followers while he has sex with the female members. Only this time Damian and the rest of the coven (who all have last names of well-known comics artists, horror directors and cult personalities, like Gould, Corben, Ormsby, Romero and Ackerman) are having none of Laval's nonsense and want to stop the orgies and pseudo-supernatural shenanigans. Damian doesn't believe Laval is the real thing, so he leads Pamela and the rest of the coven out the front door in a mass exodus (but not before Laval slaps Damian across the face with his gloved hand and ominously says, "You mess with the bull, you get the horns!"). Laval decides to get even with his followers, so he performs a ritual in his black magic room (complete with a pentagram on the floor, a huge crucifix with a human head attached to it on the wall and a totally nude woman sprawled and writhing on the floor!) and calls forth a horned demon (David J. Howard, in a ridiculous get-up) to kill all those who mocked him at the party. The demon has no choice but to follow Laval's orders, but it warns Laval, "I will kill you! I will kill you!" after all the partygoers and coven members are dead. When Pamela's body is found torn apart in the woods, Detective Frazetta (Tom Hutton, who is simply a horrible actor) begins interviewing Pamela's friends, beginning with Elaine Ormsby (Linda Conrad), who refuses to cooperate and is shortly killed by her friend Janis Romero (Kathy Stewart), who becomes possessed after Elaine kills her with her own possessed car (This is getting confusing!) and she bloodily tears Elaine apart when Elaine tries to drive her to the hospital. Damian has a "gut feeling" that Laval is involved (No shit, Sherlock!), while Detective Frazetta and his wife seek advice from Professor Peckinpah (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE's Gunnar Hansen in a useless cameo), an expert on the occult. Damian phones-in an anonymous tip to Detective Frazetta that he must talk to Laval, so Frazetta drives to Laval's castle and interviews him (Laval [when he realizes Frazetta is a cop]: "I quit using that stuff two years ago!" Frazetta: "Hey, I don't care if you drop Bufferin in your tea!"). When the rest of the girls are slaughtered by the demon at a pot party, the guys and Detective Frazetta head to Laval's castle, where everyone dies except Frazetta (he goes mad) and the demon keeps his promise and kills Laval before disappearing in a puff of smoke.  I won't prattle on-and-on about how bad this film really is. That's already a given. There are sequences here which serve no other purpose than filler, such as the sequence where Laval goes to karate class and then immediately thereafter gets into a (very badly choreographed) bar fight with a bunch of patrons (the whole sequence seems to be inserted to stroke Christmas Robbins' ego), the scene where Garrett Adams (Michael McGivern) and his male friends stiff a gas station attendant out of $5.00 or the scene where Susan Ackerman (Susan Bullen) and her female friends get stoned and have a whipped cream fight with cans of Readi Whip. There are scenes of bloody gore (pitchfork through the neck, throat rippings, axe to the back, Alex Redondo [Phil Foreman] stabbing himself in the chest over-and-over with a dagger, and the film's highlight, where Paul [the guy who looks like Frank Zappa] is shot in the groin with a crossbow bolt and he writhes and screams in pain on the floor while his friends just stare at him!), but they are so badly filmed, they lack any impact. Co-director Donald G. Jackson made a career out of churning-out junky, cheap, fractured films like this right up to his death in 2003, so THE DEMON LOVER is a fitting debut. Also starring Sonny Bell, Carol Lasowski and Jan Porter. It should be noted that no one in this film (besides Gunnar Hansen) ever appeared in another movie. That statement should speak volumes. Originally available on VHS from Unicorn Video, Regal Video, Inc. and Premiere Entertainment Group, all using the title THE DEVIL MASTER. Also known as COVEN and MASTER OF EVIL. An unauthorized DVD was issued by pirate outfit Televista, so the less said about it, the better. Rated R.

THE DEMON'S ROOK (2013) - Say what you want about this film: The plot is incoherent. The acting is worse than bad. It has the look and feel of a cheap 80's film (but, to me, that's not a problem). The sound recording is all post-synch. But I'll be damned if I wasn't entertained for the film's entire 103 minutes and was never bored. And it can all be chalked-up mostly to one-man wunderkind James Sizemore (in his feature film debut), who stars, directed, co-produced (with Tim Weis, who also worked in many capacities here), co-wrote (with Akom Tidwell, who, like Weis, also worked in many capacities), did the extremely gory make-up effects, was sound designer, composed some of the music, and even designed the film's poster art! Not bad for a first-timer. The plot is convoluted, but I'll try to explain the film's main points: A young boy named Roscoe (Emmett Eckert) is visited nightly by a demon named Dimwos (John Chatham), a creature from another dimension with big horns sticking out of his head who speaks to Roscoe in a language we can't understand. Roscoe's only friend, Eva (Grace Kilgore), is the only one who believes him about being visited by Dimwos and his art teacher Barbara (Melanie Richardson) has some psychic connection to Dimwos and the only way she can get him out of her head is to draw pictures of him and other demons (I know, I don't understand it, either!). One night Roscoe's parents are killed in their beds (all we see is their burned indentations in the mattress) and Dimwos tells Roscoe to go down a red hole in the ground, where something happens to Roscoe (but more about that later). Years pass and an adult Roscoe (Sizemore, who looks like Jesus Christ) emerges out of the hole barefoot and shirtless, with only tatters left as pants. He steals a camper's backpack and finds a pair of jeans and a shirt that fit him perfectly (what are the chances?) and heads to his parent's home, which is now abandoned and empty of most furniture (except a lamp!). It's apparent that Roscoe has gained some supernatural powers with the time he spent in the hole, because all he has to do is raise his hand and the light goes on. He then starts to remember what happened with all the years he spent in that hole. Dimwos teaches him the dark ways and says such mindbending things to him like, "Each of us were raised in dark wombs." and "You will become Master of the Three Vessels". They speak to each other in that strange language (which is now English subtitled) and as Roscoe grows older, he asks for more power, which Dimwos gives to him by breathing something into his mouth. Big mistake. Roscoe ends up shattering the three vessels, which each held a demon with extraordinary evil powers and one of the demons rips off Dimwos' head. And they followed Roscoe out of the hole and are now walking the Earth. It first starts to go wrong when one of the demons, Ogrom (Josh Adam Gould), turns Barbara's soon-to-be fiancé (also played by Gould) into a mutant creature called Owrefewl, who chows down on his three friends (this is where the film becomes extremely gory) and then goes after Barbara, who manages to keep him away for a while by drawing more pictures, but he eventually gets to her and bites a healthy chunk out of her neck, killing her. Another demon, Rolmortus (Dustin Dorough), possesses the campers (the ones who Roscoe stole the backpack from) and they start killing each other in gory ways (the hardest part to watch was the guitar player strumming the strings so hard that his fingernails tear off!), including neck-snapping, rock bashing, slit throats and one girl cutting open her stomach until all her innards fall to the ground. The third demon, Valurga (Sade Smith), the only female demon and the most powerful, raises a bunch of zombies from a graveyard and the first thing they do is attack a grown Eva's (Ashleigh Jo Sizemore, real-life wife of James Sizemore) father, tearing him apart and eating his intestines, while Eva pulls out a rifle and shoots one of them in the head (a POV shot of Eva through the giant hole in the zombie's head), but these are not ordinary zombies because head shots don't kill them and they chase Eva, who manages to jump in her pickup and escape. She nearly runs over Roscoe and, at first, can't believe it is him until he mentions something from their childhood that only the two of them would know (It has to do with a clear marble that Eva gave Roscoe as a child, which he then hid behind a brick in his attic. Don't try and make sense of it, just go along!). Roscoe takes Eva back to his parents' house and psychically explains what happens to him during his missing years simply by touching hands (which also includes Roscoe being forced to drink a gross bubbling pea soup-green liquid out of the ground to give him powers and make him more passive in this other dimension, while Dimwos teaches him the ways of being the Master of the Three Vessels and obeying the "Dark Mother", which we never see). Eva is now on board to try and destroy the three demons. Meanwhile, Valurga finds two bow hunters walking in the forest  and possesses one of them, who then shoots four arrows into his friend's chest and then stops two girls in an SUV (One of them is his girlfriend. What are the chances?), shoots an arrow in one girl's chest, killing her, and then shooting an arrow into the other girls foot, pinning her to the ground while the zombies tear her apart (one bites her in the neck and stretches her skin like it was a piece of cheese before it snaps off!). Roscoe defeats Ogrom after the demon enters a house party (where everyone is yelling "Cake! Cake! Cake!") and makes three party girls strip naked and kneel before him. Roscoe uses his supernatural powers to make Ogrom's head explode. There is much more gory fun on view (including Valurga possessing everyone at a barn band party where a band called "Bovine Fantasy Invasion" [actually a real band called "El Fossil"] is playing and is probably the film's non-stop gory highlight as dozens of people kill each other in various graphic ways) as Roscoe shares his powers with Eva (the same way Dimwos shared his with Roscoe) to battle the final two demons, but unfortunately it is not a happy ending for our couple (although it does end up being rather romantic). I won't say any more because you should experience this film for yourself.  It is clear James Sizemore and his small crew (nearly everyone, including the actors and technicians, do double, triple and more duty both in front and behind the camera) were working with a small budget (it was filmed on weekends over a two year period in Moreland, Georgia), but the unrated gore for the most part is extremely well done (although some of the blood spurting does not match up with the wounds) and the makeup effects for the demons and the zombies are terrific (Sizemore was self-taught and learned effects from watching tutorial videos). The whole film plays like some fever dream and makes very little sense, but once you get past the prologue with the young Roscoe, you won't care, as it is a non-stop barrage of blood, gore and body parts. Faces are ripped-off, innards are lovingly displayed and eaten, heads explode and appendages yanked-off. The story is so convoluted that you'll be scratching your head if you think about it too much, especially the part where Owrefewl finds Roscoe's clear marble behind the brick and drops it to the floor. The final shot has the camera panning on that marble, so it must represent something, but damned if I could figure it out. The only problem I really had with this film is the sound (Due to noisy generators and the lack of proper sound equipment, the film's sound work had to be done entirely in post and within Sizemore's basement). Some of the dialogue is recorded so low that you have to turn up the volume and then it suddenly gets so loud, you have to turn it down again. You'll find yourself doing this several times during the film, but, for the most part, the dialogue is minimal and the majority of the film is just non-stop killing. There are some funny inserts during the film's final credits showing various animals eating the flesh of the victims, zombies and dead demons and a final shot of a cat licking the bloody fingers of the film's only surviving member (but I'm not going to tell who it is) after the credits end. For a first feature film, James Sizemore does a bloody good job, but he really has to write a coherent screenplay the next time, not that I'm complaining about this one. It is about as strange as a film can be and still be enjoyed for all its old-school special effects (no CGI here). Highly recommended for lovers of bizarre and extremely gory films. Also starring Chris Crofts, Zoe DuChamps, Marla Haras, Megan Joyce, Brian Morton, Elizabeth Murphy and Fritz J. Noble as Eva's father. A Tribeca Film/Cinedigm DVD Release. Not Rated and proud of it.

DEMON WITCH CHILD (1974) - Proving that the Italians didn't corner the market on churning out EXORCIST-"inspired" rip-offs during the 70's, here's a wonderfully out-there Spanish clone that has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. That it comes from the director of the four BLIND DEAD films (1972 - 1975) just makes it all the more insane. The film opens with ugly old hag Mother Gautère (Tota Alba; INQUISITION - 1976) walking down the aisle of a church (the filmmakers like this scene so much, they play it twice in a row!) and destroying the area in front of the pews by overturning the candle holders and destroying the furniture. She then steals a holy chalice out of a cabinet and leaves a lit candle at the feet of an odd-looking statue, which looks to be a cat-like creature with horns sticking out of its head (Hey, what kind of church is this?). We then see Father Juan (Julián Mateos; THE COLD EYES OF FEAR - 1971) discussing the theft of the chalice with Police Commissioner Barnes (Ángel del Pozo; HORROR EXPRESS - 1972), where Father Juan mentions that the lit candle left at the base of the statue could be taken as a sign of black magic. Mr. Barnes replies that the only deviltry going on is of the human kind and asks the good Father if he believes in such mumbo-jumbo. Father Juan believes this theft is related to a male baby who was kidnapped recently, but Mr. Barnes scoffs at such a connection, stating the baby was probably stolen by a mad, childless woman. Mother Gautère also left a piece of root behind when she was in the church, which Father Juan calls the "Root of Magic" and tells Mr. Barnes that he believes something Satanic is going on. Mr. Barnes assures the Father that the baby will be found and that the chalice is probably in the hands of some unscrupulous antiques dealer. Mr. Barnes asks Father Juan not to make his views public, because the citizens are already on edge with the kidnapping. Mr. Barnes says that he will pick up old hag Mother Gautère, who is supposed to be a witch, to see if she has any information to offer ("I'll wring it out of her!"), not knowing that Mother Gautère is actually the culprit in both stealing the chalice and kidnapping the baby. We are then briefly introduced to Mr. Barnes' young, barely teenage daughter Susan (Marián Salgado; NIGHT OF THE WALKING DEAD - 1975; who supplied Linda Blair's voice in the Spanish-dubbed version of THE EXORCIST!), who will become an integral part of the film. The Police Chief (Fernando Sancho; SWAMP OF THE RAVENS - 1974) arrests Mother Gautère (who is doing a Tarot Card reading), but she says her "Master" will protect her. As they are driving away, a nameless young gypsy witch (Kali Hansa; THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF - 1973) curses the Police Commissioner, the Police Chief and the entire police force. The Chief sweats Mother Gautère, even bringing in the missing baby boy's mother to beg, "For the love of God, my lady, return my son to me!" Mother Gautère callously replies. "Shut up, bitch! Don't you call me your lady and don't invoke your God. You'll never see him again. He'll be sacrificed to the Great Master!" (Well, so much for being innocent!). As the missing boy's mother is dragged away still pleading for her baby's life, the Police Chief threatens to use truth serum on Mother Gautère to get her to tell him the location of the baby, but she tries to commit suicide by jumping out the window and landing on the pavement below. Even though she is bleeding profusely from her head, she is still alive and taken to the hospital. The young gypsy witch gives Susan an evil-looking idol, which she hides in her teddy bear. She also gives Susan a cursed necklace and as soon as she puts it around Susan's neck, her happy-go-lucky attitude suddenly changes, and when her nanny, Anne Crawford (Lone Fleming; IT HAPPENED AT NIGHTMARE INN, a.k.a. A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL - 1973), who is in a park with her fiancé, newspaper reporter William Grant (Daniel Martin; DEVIL'S KISS - 1976), asks Susan where she got such an ugly necklace, Susan blurts out, "You're horrible! You're pigs! You let him do dirty things to you! You're both filthy dogs!" (That may be the truth, but did she have to be so blunt?). Later that night, Mother Gautère dies in the hospital and we see her ghost rise from her hospital bed and travel to Susan's bedroom, where she enters Susan's body while she sleeps (This is all done using double exposure photography, but this simple technique works well here and it is very creepy). An invisible force pulls the bed covers off of Susan (who is still asleep) and she levitates in the air (If you look closely at the wall behind Susan, you'll be able to figure out how this effect was achieved). Mr. Barnes is surprised that Susan didn't say goodnight to him before she went to bed, so he goes to her bedroom and gives a sleeping Susan a kiss on the cheek, but when he leaves, we discover that Susan was only pretending she was asleep, as she wipes off his kiss with her hand in disgust, while the eyes of the idol in her teddy bear glow red. We then watch as the young gypsy witch performs a satanic ritual with her faithful flock of Devil worshippers. She orders Susan to "Come, come, come, imeeeeediately!" and Susan rises rises from her bed in a trance-like state, where she walks to the ritual, kneels before the gypsy witch, renounces God and all he stands for and puts her faith in Lucifer (The gypsy witch pronounces her the "Princess of the Old One"). When members of the flock demand proof that Susan is telling the truth, Susan transforms into a miniature version of Mother Gautère (complete with thinning, white stringy hair and rotten teeth), pulls out the kidnapped baby, plunges a dagger into the child and fills the stolen chalice with the baby's blood, which members of the flock take turns drinking. Suddenly, lighting strikes and it starts to rain, so the flock scatters, as we watch the possessed Susan chowing-down on the baby's dismembered arm! The next morning, the Barnes family maid, Helen (billed here as "La Pocha", but is actually actress Julia Saly; NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF - 1980), delivers a tray of breakfast to Susan in her bedroom and when Susan knocks the tray from Helen's hands and yells "Bullshit!", she is admonished by Anne, so Susan says to her, "Why don't you suck your boyfriend and leave me alone!" (Kids say the darndest things, don't they?). Anne reports Susan's behavior to her father and at the same time, a bunch of schoolchildren discover the mutilated corpse of the missing baby. When Susan sees Father Juan in the park, she bluntly asks him if he has a girlfriend and does he have sex with her. When Father Juan (who looks puzzled that a girl so young would ask him such a question) replies that men of the cloth have to resist such urges, Susan says, "Either you're a goddamn queer or impotent!" and runs away (Kids, you gotta love 'em!). Father Juan has a flashback when he was younger and was in love with a beautiful girl named Esther (Maria Kosty; EXORCISM - 1975; another Spanish demonic possession film). He tells her that he can no longer see her romantically because he has decided to become a priest and walks away, leaving her crying, something he still regrets to this day. He decides to search for Esther to see how she is doing. Meanwhile, the entire town is in turmoil, because it is obvious that the mutilated baby was killed after Mother Gautère died, but they decide to dig up her body, douse it with gasoline and set it on fire. What they didn't expect was that the dead body of Mother Gautère would scream as it burns into ashes. Even more surprised is the Barnes household, as they watch Susan slithering on the floor like a snake and moving objects (like closing a door) with just a wave of her hand. Mr. Barnes calls in a doctor (Fernando Hilbeck; LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE - 1974), who tells Mr. Barnes that Susan spoke to him in several languages, a few of them he never heard before (Mr. Barnes is shocked, as he tells the doctor, "Susan couldn't even memorize a few French words when we brought in a tutor!"). The doctor ends up strapping Susan to a table and sedating her, as he calls in Father Juan for some possible help. Even though the doctor doesn't believe in the rites of exorcism, he wants to keep the good Father handy in case his scientific methods don't work. Helen finds the evil idol in the teddy bear (all the furniture in the room moves when she picks it up) and she gives it to Anne, who in turn gives it to William to do some research on since he is a reporter. Father Juan finally locates Esther, only to discover that she has turned into an alcoholic whore. Esther blames Juan for what she has become (Jesus, can it get any worse? Why yes, it can!). William tells Mr. Barnes to have his police force keep watch on the house because he feels that someone may be out to kidnap Susan (Boy, has he got it wrong!), while Susan, who now speaks in Mother Gautère's voice, nearly breaks Anne's wrist when she tries to remove the necklace from her neck. Susan then calls William on the phone using Anne's voice and asks him to meet her in the park, while the real Anne goes to the church to ask Father Juan to perform an exorcism, which he will only agree to do when all scientific methods fail and he gets permission from his superiors. Susan, who has once again transformed into a miniature Mother Gautère, spider-walks upside down the outside wall of the Barnes' household and strangles a policeman who is keeping watch on the house. In the film's most WTF?!? scene, Susan kills William in the park and then cuts off his balls (!), taking them with her and putting them in a small giftwrapped box with a nice bow on top. Once William's mutilated body is found, Father Juan believes an exorcism is in order, but the Police Chief has a recording of Anne calling William (not knowing it was actually Susan) and brings Anne into the police station, accusing her of murdering her fiancé. Susan shows up at the police station and gives Anne the giftwrapped box and when Anne opens it and discovers William's testicles and screams, everyone now believes an exorcism is in order. Father Juan learns that Esther committed suicide, leaving a note addressed to him blaming him for her taking her own life (which is a cardinal sin). Will Father Juan be able to perform an exorcism since he may have lost his faith? Susan steals a baby for sacrifice, so Mr. Barnes, Father Juan, Anne and the entire police force try to stop Susan, the gypsy witch and her flock from sacrificing the baby for their Dark Lord. The Police Chief shoots and kills the gypsy witch as her flock scatters, but Susan escapes with the baby into a graveyard. Father Juan is knocked off his feet by Susan's powers, but when she comes in close for the kill, Father Juan presses his crucifix on her forehead, which burns the sign of the cross into her skin. Father Juan performs an impromptu exorcism, where Susan tries every trick in the book to defeat him (even speaking in Esther's voice), but the exorcism works and Susan is finally free. Unfortunately, one of the sharp stones in her necklace has impaled her heart and she dies in her father's arms. Oh, well. Win some, lose some.  Believe me when I say there is never a dull moment in this film. Director/writer Amando De Ossorio, who also made FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1969); NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS (1973); THE LORELEY'S GRASP (a.k.a. WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS - 1973), as well as the aformentioned four BLIND DEAD films, fills this flick with unbelievable dialogue (the things that come out of Susan's mouth are priceless) and some bad-taste violence. While there isn't much gore and most of the violence is off-screen, De Ossorio films it in such a way that still makes you wince. One you see Susan eating a baby's arm, you will never forget it (it is filmed in a long shot, so you will have to freeze-frame the scene and really take a look) and, while we don't see Susan cut off William's testicles, it is filmed in such a way that still makes us feel uncomfortable. We watch Susan bent over William, who is lying on the ground, and see her slice "something" over and over between his legs and then wrap it in a hankerchief, so just watching a child castrate a man is creepy all on its own. De Ossorio (who passed away in 2001), went on record to say that he hired Marián Salgado to portray Susan just because she supplied Linda Blair's voice in the Spanish-dubbed version of the film which was the inspiration for this movie, which is also known as THE POSSESSED, and she does a good job here portraying a possessed young teen who says some things that really make you laugh and cringe at the same time. It is apparent that the people responsible for the English dubbing were having a good time recording the dialogue for this film, as many of the lines are read in such an overwrought manner (especially the woman who dubbed the young gypsy witch), that you will have fun with the entire film (One totally hilarious scene has Father Juan conducting a children's choir, where all they do is sing, "Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na" over and over!). This is one of the better demonic possession films of the 70's (sometimes for all the wrong reasons) and is a good addition to your library. Originally released on fullscreen VHS (as THE POSSESSED, which Anglicizes all the Spanish actors' names) from All Seasons Entertainment and then on fullscreen VHS (as DEMON WITCH CHILD) from Simitar Entertainment. Code Red offers this film on a double feature DVD (ingeniously paired with director Charles Nizet's sublimely weird THE POSSESSED! - 1974) in a beat-up 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen print, with plenty of emulsion scratches and missing frames which cuts off some of the dialogue, but the print is still highly watchable and reminded me of viewing these types of films in grindhouses during the 70's. If you look close enough, you will see a full-length poster of David Cassidy hanging in Susan's bedroom. Even though most reference sources list this film as being made in 1975 or 1976, the closing credits list it as a 1974 production.  Also starring Roberto Camardiel, Maria Vidal, Ernesto Vanez, Lucy Tiller, Paquita Trench, Monty Prous and Beatriz Villasante. A Code Red DVD Release. Rated R.

DEVIL FETUS (1983) - In this wild and crazy Hong Kong horror film, a woman named Shu Ching buys a strange jade vase at an auction (it looks like a small demon straddling a giant penis), brings it home, places it next to her bed and, that night, she begins fondling it like a sex toy and starts getting horny. Before she knows it, the vase has turned into a slimy, worm-infested demon, who fucks her brains out. When her husband comes home from a six-month business trip and finds Shu Ching using the vase as a dildo, he smashes it into tiny pieces, only to have his face become a maggot-infested decaying piece of flesh. When he looks in the mirror and sees what he has become, he kills himself by jumping through the bedroom window. It's not long before Shu Ching discovers she is pregnant ("I feel disgusting!"), which is not good considering her husband's time away from home. Her husband comes back from the dead to haunt her and, after turning into a black cat (!), he kills Shu Ching by knocking her off a staircase. End of story, right? Not by a long shot. A priest has a vision of a monster baby bursting out of Shu Ching's corpse during her funeral, so he tells her family (including her mother, a sister and her husband and two bratty nephews) that Shu Ching and her husband are wandering spirits, but he is able to stop their wandering by placing magical protective parchments in their bedroom and tells them that if the parchments aren't disturbed for twelve years, they will rest in peace for eternity. Fat chance that is going to happen. Nearly twelve years pass and one of the nephews, Kent Chong (Eddie Chan), has returned home after after winning one of his many sword-fighting competitions (he's very handy with a rapier). Kent falls in love with a young woman named Juju (Shirley Lui), who is staying with the Chong family. Juju accidentally touches the protective parchments in the bedroom, the parchments burst into flames and the Chong's guard dog, Boby, ingests the ashes of one of the parchments. Boby attacks Kent and Juju, forcing Kent to kill Boby with a sword (Kent's mom blames the attack on her husband, saying that he always fed the dog chili!). Now things really get strange. Kent's brother, Wei, is possessed when he buries Boby in the back yard, later digging up the dog and eating its corpse! While driving home one night, Ma and Pa Chong think they have hit a woman who looks exactly like Shu Ching, but when they get out of the car, no one is there. When they get home and park the car, it suddenly has a mind of it's own and runs over the Chong's butler. A possessed Wei tries to drown Juju in the family pool and then rapes and strangles the family maid. Only Granny Chong (Ouyang Sha-Fei) seems to understand the gravity of the situation and hires an elderly white-haired priest to fight the evil. What happens next is better left for the viewer to discover, as describing it in a review would simply not do it justice. Needless to say, there's plenty of mind-warping sights on view and a few "What The Fuck?!?" moments that will leave your head spinning (if not detaching from your body and flying through the air).  Like most Hong Kong supernatural and horror-themed films of the 70's & 80's, DEVIL FETUS doesn't make much sense, but, by god, it is never boring. I'm sure a lot of the plot is lost to cultural differences and bad translation (the English subtitles are hilarious), but the film is a delirious mix of horror and martial arts genres. There's cannibalism (and dog-eating); a gooey death by crushing when the walls of a sauna close-in on Pa Chong (Ho Pak-Kwong); an arm reaching out of the grave and stretching like rubber to grab a frightened old priest; plenty of wire work; cheap opticals where Wei shoots laser beams out of his eyes; lots of reverse and stop-motion photography; worm-puking (a Hong Kong staple); and even a few scenes of nudity. Director Lau Hung Chuen (A CHINESE LEGEND - 1991) keeps everything moving at a brisk pace, even when you're not sure what the hell is going on. My only complaint is that the version I saw, which was sourced from the fullscreen Ocean Shores VHS tape, cuts off the subtitles on both the left and right sides of the screen and seems to edit out much of the dog-eating scene and nudity, especially Wei's rape of the maid. Those are small complaints considering what is still left on view (You want flying heads? The finale has more than it's fair share.). Also starring Gam Wing Cheung, Lau Dan and Leung Saan. Fortune Star has released an uncut widescreen print on DVD and there is also a widescreen VCD available from both Media Asia and Delta Mac. Not Rated.

DEVIL'S EXPRESS (1975) - For years I have been searching for a good-looking copy of this film, after watching EP-Mode VHS abortions under its alternate title GANG WARS, but I was never able to find one. All those tapes were so dark and dingy, it was impossible to make out what was going on in the underground scenes. But now, finally, specialty genre label Code Red has come up with a print on DVD that is so crisp and clear, you get to see the entire weird film without squinting, warts and all (and there are plenty of warts). The film opens in China 200 B.C., where a bunch of monks lower a wooden crate into a large hole after attaching a large gem amulet on the top of the crate. It is obvious that the amulet was put there to keep whatever is in the crate from escaping. The leader of the monks then kills all the monks and slits his own throat so no one can ever tell where the crate was hidden. Cut to the present in New York City, where martial arts teacher Luke (Warhawk Tanzania, here billed as "War Hawk Tanzania"; FORCE FOUR - 1974, his only other film) is teaching police detective Cris (Larry Fleishman) the finer points of kung-fu while beating the snot out of him (Luke, who doesn't care for the police, was once saved by Cris from certain death, so he feels he owes him), when they are interrupted by Luke's student/best friend Rodan (Wilfredo Roldan, in a performance that has to be seen to be believed). Rodan tells Luke that there will soon be a war between the black gangs and the Chinese gangs because of what he did to one Chinese guy at a card game earlier that day. Luke is happy that he and Rodan are taking a trip to China (by way of Hong Kong) that night to brush-up on their kung-fu skills with a Chinese grandmaster. When they get to China (actually the Brooklyn Botanical Garden!), Luke is being taught the finer arts of martial arts by the Master, while Rodan finds the giant hole and removes the gem amulet (which he nows wears as a necklace!) and they both head home to New York City. Meanwhile, a demon breaks out of the crate and takes over a Chinese businessman (played by Aki Aleong, a popular Asian actor who has appeared in hundreds of films and is still going strong today) and the possessed businessman takes a slow boat from China to New York City (How do we know the businessman is possessed? Why he has his eyelids painted like ping pong balls! The clearness of the DVD affords us to see it.) When the demon businessman makes it to New York City, he finds that he/it cannot stand the light (never mind that everyone on the street doesn't give a damn that he looks like a monster!), so he heads for the nearest subway and hides out in the tunnels. He sheds his businessman skin (the film's most effective scene) and is now a full-fledged demon.  Rodan and a friend make a deal with a cocaine dealer for a brick of cocaine, but they are then ripped off by members of a Chinese gang in retaliation for what Rodan did at the card game. The demon then kills his first victim (a businessman who misses his subway train, portrayed by late I DRINK YOUR BLOOD [1971] director David E. Durston, who hears a young girl cry "Help me!" in the tunnel and goes to investigate) and Cris and his new partner Sam (Stephen "Sam" DeFazio), who is really wet behind the ears, look at the mangled body, while a cop pukes and a priest (portrayed by Brother Theodore, but more on him later) gives the body the Last Rites. Sam offers a theory so out there that no one could take it seriously: When the subway tunnels were first created, it released a bunch of mutated dogs and cats, who probably still roam the tunnels today. Unfortunately for Cris, a newspaper reporter is at the scene and hears Sam's theory and it makes front page news the next day (which pisses off Cris and Sam's boss). As more and more people are being slaughtered in the tunnels (including a rapist who is about to sexually assault a woman) and Rodan continues his war against the Chinese gangs (he steps on one gang member's neck until he spits out that bright red blood that was so popular in 70's films), Cris and Sam are flummoxed as to what can be causing these deaths (Cris actually begins to believe Sam's idiotic theory!). When Rodan is killed by the demon, Luke blames the Chinese gang, so he goes on a one-man war against the Chinese (in a gold lamé jumpsuit!), until the leader of the gang convinces Luke that their gang was not responsible for Rodan's death. He takes Luke to an old Chinese wise man (in makeup so bad, you can actually see the crease marks, something you could never see in the VHS versions), who tells Luke that the demon is after the gem amulet (Luke now has it in his possession). If the demon gets its hands on the amulet and destroys it, he/it will become immortal and nothing will ever be able to stop it. Luke does the only natural thing that a sane person would do: He goes down into the subway tunnels and challenges the demon to a fight, but the demon does not fight fair, first appearing as Luke's girlfriend (Elsie Roman), then splitting into two separate twin fighters and then turning invisible, hitting Luke with invisible punches and kicks. Luke finally gets the upper hand and destroys the demon (thanks to the amulet) and then gives it to the old Chinese wise man, who takes a slow boat to China to return it to its natural place. At the hospital, Cris, Luke's girlfriend and Sam congratulate Luke on a job well done and Sam makes an old reference to a 40's song and the film ends!  While this has some of the worse martial arts fights ever committed to film (you can clearly see about 75% of the punches and kicks thrown miss their targets by a country mile), this is just such a weird film, you cannot help but like it. Director Barry Rosen only directed one other film, YUM YUM GIRLS in 1976, but he has been working in other capacities on films and television, including Line Producer on the cult item HIGHWAY TO HELL (1991) and Producer of the 1992 - 1993 season of the TV series HIGHLANDER. Personal fave Brother Theodore (GUMS - 1976; NOCTURNA - 1978) is basically wasted here in what amounts to a three minute cameo (he improvised all his lines) as a priest who hangs out at subway entrances, but he still manages to give one of my favorite quotes of his when he warns people not to go into the subway: All the great spiritual leaders are dead ... Moses is dead ... Muhammed is dead ... Buddha is dead ... and I’m not feeling so hot myself!” Brother Theodore (rest his soul) was such an expert at absurdist intellectual humor that he was a favorite guest on the late, lamented David Letterman Show for years (look for his appearances on YouTube) and always had me howling with laughter in my seat while his type of humor went over most of the audiences' heads (but not Letterman's). Theodore had a one-man show on Off-Broadway for years and I went to see him a couple of times. He never disappointed and I would always leave the show with a splitting headache from laughing so hard. The rest of the actors in the film are what we call "semi-professionals" although the bag lady (Sylvia Mann) who roams the subway cars yelling out antedotes about the passengers is a hoot (she was also the mother of this film's cinematographer, Paul Glickman; GOD TOLD ME TO - 1976). The standout is Wilfredo Roldan (VELVET SMOOTH - 1975, which also co-stars this film's Moses Illiya and Elsie Roman) as Rodan, who shouts out every line he is given and becomes unintentionally comical in a good way. When he is killed, the film loses some of its charm (luckily it is late in the film). The demon makeup (by Lowell Patton and David Wood) is pretty good for such a low-budget affair (it was filmed in two and a half weeks) and you can see it much more clearly in this DVD presentation than in any version of the VHS you may have (and it's 1.78:1 Widescreen Anamorphic, to boot). It took five people (including Rosen) to write the screenplay to this mess of a film, but as a cult item, you could do a lot, lot worse (Besides, it gives you a nolstalgic feeling on how the streets and subways [which was 50¢ at the time!] of NYC looked back in the 70's). The blood and gore may be sparse, but when it does show up, it is effective. The Code Red DVD offers both trailers for the film. The trailer for DEVIL'S EXPRESS plays up the supernatural angle, while the one for GANG WARS totally omits any mention of a demon in the subway and was definitely made to appeal to martial arts fans (a lot of people seem to think these are two different cuts of the film, but they are wrong). This is one film where I can honestly say to throw away all those crappy VHS tapes and try to find the Code Red DVD version (like all things Code Red, it may be hard to find). This is an entertaining throwback to the 70's where anything could be mixed together and form a nice tasty stew. Also known as DEATH EXPRESS. Also starring Moses Illiya (as Rodan's partner in crime, who gets killed when he and Rodan are ambushed by members of the Chinese gang), Tsikagi Tanzania (as the Chinese grandmaster), Tom Chapogas (as the rapist), Matt Forbes (as the reporter) and Jack Yates as the Demon. A Code Red DVD Release. Rated R.

DIGGIN' UP BUSINESS (1990) - This is the type of film no actor in their right mind would put on their credit sheet. Not that it would matter as it is populated by a bunch of has-been or washed-out thespians using their paychecks to supply themselves with enough booze or cocaine until their next job offer comes along. Get a load of this cast: Ruth (LAUGH-IN [1968 - 1972]) Buzzi, Murray ("The Unknown Comic") Langston, Billy ("Don't call me midget!") Barty, Gary ("I can't get my hand off my ear!") Owens, Yvonne (Batgirl) Craig and Linnea ("Just Linnea") Quigley. You would think that with a cast like this the film would hold some camp value, but the sad fact is that this is such a lame, juvenile comedy that all you feel is sadness and pity for all those involved. The pathetic plot involves a funeral parlor employee (Lynn Holly Johnson, a long way from ICE CASTLES [1978]. Hell, it's a long way from ALIEN PREDATOR(S) [1985].) who needs immediate capital to fix discrepancies in the parlor's books. She comes up with a plan of performing "specialty" funerals which will bring the funeral home out of debt. A corpse is shot out of a cannon to fulfill his last wishes. Another cadaver dances one last soft shoe with his old vaudeville buddies. A dead stripper pops out of a cake for her final exit. It sounds funnier than it is. Lame jokes include a heart attack victim literally kicking a bucket, the burning of a sled called "Rosebud" and many more well-worn dead jokes. It must of had a rocky production history as two directors are listed. Mark Byers (TUNNELS - 1989) is credited for the original version and Tom Pardew (who also stars) is credited for the final version. Mr. Pardew is a better director than actor and that's not a compliment. Watch Tony Richardson's excellent 1965 funeral black comedy THE LOVED ONE to see how it should be done. You'll have more fun going to an actual funeral than watching DIGGIN' UP BUSINESS. A Monarch Home Video Release. Rated PG so don't expect to see anything disgusting.

DINNER WITH A VAMPIRE (1989) - This is another TV movie directed and co-written by Lamberto Bava as part of the 1989 Italian TV mini-series BRIVIDO GIALLO ("Thrilling Giallo"), which also included GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE (1988), UNTIL DEATH (1988) and DEMONS III: THE OGRE (a.k.a. THE OGRE - 1989). This may be the best film of the bunch, but that's not saying much, especially if you survived watching all four films in one sitting as I did. Picking my favorite among the four films is akin to picking out your favorite spicy pepper. They all burn your mouth (and stomach), but you have to pick the one that did the least damage (especially when it exits your body!). I only picked this film as my favorite because I wasn't throwing my hands in the air in exasperation over people doing idiotic things every five minutes. This film made me do it every ten minutes.
     In the 1920's, a movie crew is filming in a castle when they discover a sealed-up crypt of a vampire. The director tells his cameraman not to stop shooting (on an old hand-cranked movie camera), as he and two crewmembers enter the crypt and break the seal on the vampire's tomb, who is nothing but a skeleton. Of course, one of the crewmembers cuts his hand when opening the tomb and drips blood on the skeleton, causing it to quickly take human form (stop-motion animation supplied by effects pro Sergio Stivaletti; WAX MASK - 1997). The vampire rises from his tomb (the director says, "Keep shooting! Keep on shooting! We don't want to miss a thing!") and kills all of the movie crew, beginning with the cameraman. Fast-forward to the present, where the vampire, Jurek (George Hilton; ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK - 1972), is a famous director of horror films, getting the blood he needs to survive by holding auditions for his films and inviting the winning actors back to his castle for dinner and rehearsal, where he puts the bite on them. We are then at the most recent audition, where a group of aspiring actors (Jurek only uses novice actors for his films so they won't be missed) wait in the rain for their turn to audition. When to door finally opens, everyone comes in and does their best auditions. It should be noted that Jurek is not at the auditions. He depends on the advice of his right hand man Matteo (Stefano Sabelli; MEAN TRICKS - 1992; Umberto Lenzi's final film as director), who sends his boss the tapes of the best auditions. The winners of this audition are singer Rita (Patrizia Pellegrino; FINAL JUSTICE - 1984), dancer Monica (Yvonne Scio; REDLINE - 1997), actress Sasha (Valeria Milillo; SCHOOL OF FEAR - 1989) and wiseass actor Gianni (Riccardo Rossi), all of them getting a phone call to join Jurek at his castle. They all get picked up in a Bentley limo and have no idea where they are going, as the unseen driver refuses to answer any of their questions. When they arrive at the castle and knock on the door, they are greeted by hunchbacked servant Gilles (Daniele Aldrovandi; doing his best Marty Feldman impersonation; Gianni even calls him Feldman in the film), as they watch two men exiting the castle carrying something (or someone) wrapped in a rug. A strange woman in a black veil and carrying a hairless cat drops a single rose from the balcony that lands at Rita's feet. What does that mean? Hell if I know!
Matteo then greets them and says that Jurek will be unable to meet them until dinner at midnight, telling them to make themselves comfortable. The castle is a marvel of ancient architecture, with huge white rooms with cathedral ceiling and hidden passageways in nearly every room. Those passageways will be used a lot in this film. Gianni asks everyone who exactly is Jurek and what is his claim to fame, as he has never heard of him before (Then what the fuck was he doing at the audition?!?). Monica says that Jurek is a great director of horror films and she can't wait to meet him at dinner at midnight. Wiseass Gianni (who can't complete a sentence without making a joke) asks, "Why midnight? Is he a vampire?" Gianni doesn't know how right he is or the strange reason why Jurek invited them to his castle. This won't be the same old, same old for Jurek, as he has a different outcome in mind and he hopes these four aspiring actors are up to the task.
     The strange woman suddenly appears, clothed in an 18th Century dress and tells Gianni that this is a castle of horrors, but she disappears as fast as she appeared, not elaborating on her statement. Sasha looks for the bathroom and when she finds it, she sees the face of a female monster in a mirror and runs away, ending up in a room full of antique clothing and a table full of human body parts. She screams and Matteo appears, telling her not to be afraid, this room is full of props for Jurek's next movie. Before dinner, everyone is made to watch one of Jurek's favorite films he directed, a creepy black & white flick about a young woman named Nadia (Letizia Ziaco) playing a game of Hide & Seek with her lover in a castle, when a vampire strikes. It is obvious the vampire is actually Jurek in his monstrous vampire form and this film was shot in the 1920's when his tomb was opened, but why does Jurek insist everyone watch this film? The group watches as Jurek rips out the lover's heart with his bare hands. While they watch as Jurek puts the bite on Nadia, the strange woman appears and makes a pass at Gianni. It is at this time we realize that the strange woman and Nadia are the same person, but why does Rita pass out while watching the film? Matteo carries Rita up to her room, where Nadia pays a visit and tries to bite Rita on the neck, but she wakes up and goes downstairs to join her new friends who are watching the rest of the movie, but the film gets stuck in the projector and cannot proceed (Nadia tells Matteo that Jurek will be mad that they didn't watch the entire film, but Matteo says not to tell Jurek what has happened). Rita can't find them and gets locked in the castle's cellar, ending up in the crypt the 1920's film crew found. Just when it looks like curtains for Rita, Gilles appears and takes her back to her friends.
     When midnight arrives, Matteo introduces the guests to Jurek. At the late dinner, Jurek makes a toast to "the night that lies ahead." Gianni notices that Jurek doesn't cast a reflection in the mirror and Jurek says that's because he is a vampire (yet, later in the film, we can see clearly Jurek's reflection in a mirror as he opens a door, one of the film's very lazy mistakes, but more on that later). Jurek tells the scared foursome that he has been a vampire for four thousand years, but he is becoming bored living the life of a vampire. Jurek wants the four of them to put an end to this "non-life" of his, giving them until dawn to kill him, otherwise he will drink their blood and turn them into horrible undead monsters. Jurek is incapable of taking his own live because vampires are unable to kill themselves. He also tells them that the castle is inescapable until dawn; so don't try leaving because it is hopeless. After Jurek turns into a bat (offscreen) and flies away, Matteo takes them to a cell containing Jurek's other victims; hideous monsters who survive on scraps of red meat that Matteo and Gilles feed them. He tells the foursome if they don't want to end up in this cell, they better kill Jurek (Matteo hopes they succeed because he is becoming tired of doing all of Jurek's bidding). Matteo tells them that the film they just watched holds the key to Jurek's death, but they didn't see the entire film because it became stuck in the projector. The group tries everything to kill Jurek, such as threatening him with a homemade crucifix (made out of chair legs), garlic and even a wooden stake to his heart, but Jurek says don't believe everything you see in vampire movies because it is untrue (He pulls the large stake out of his body and is no worse for wear. He even shows the group that he wears a gold crucifix around his neck!). When Jurek senses Matteo's treachery, with a wave of his hand Matteo's heart comes bursting out of his chest and flying into Jurek's hand! Will anyone survive the night or is it hopeless? Will watching the rest of the film give them a way to kill Jurek or is the actual film akin to the portrait of Dorian Gray? Will destroying the film negative put an end to Jurek? Watch the film yourself to find out. No? Okay, here's what happens: Jurek accidentally sets himself on fire and his body burns and melts away (more stop-motion animation). Everyone runs outside at dawn and the Bentley limo shows up, driven by...Jurek! The foursome refuse a ride back to civilization and run away, followed by Gilles, who tells them to slow down, he can't run that fast. THE END. Satisfied? I didn't think so.
     This is better acted than most of Lamberto Bava's other TV movies, as George Hilton (THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH - 1971) looks like he is having a ball. I could have done without a lot of Gianni's wisecracks and it could have used some bloody violence (although Sergio Stivaletti does supply three stop-motion moments in the film, including the two I already mentioned and Jurek's hand turning into a long-nailed monstrosity, all done with old school charm) and some female nudity, but this film manages to hold up for 91 minutes. That's not to say there aren't some major problems with the film, because the screenplay, written by Bava and Dardano Sacchetti (Bava's A BLADE IN THE DARK - 1983), based on a story by Luciano Martino (Bava's DELIRIUM: PHOTO OF GIOIA - 1987), is full of plot holes and mistakes, including Jurek casting a reflection in a mirror only a few scant minutes after saying he doesn't. I know this is a TV movie and they are usually shot very fast, unlike theatrical features, but a major mistake like this, with the camera focused on a mirror and showing Jurek opening a door, is just sloppy filmmaking. Still, it's a fun little film if you leave your brain at the door. It is full of little comic moments, such as when Gianni shoves a VHS tape in Jurek's mouth and his fangs get caught in the plastic case. The title of the movie on the VHS?: "Per Favore Non Mordermi Sul Collo", which translates to "Please Don't Bite Me On The Neck"! Most of these TV movies are insufferable, but I found myself enjoying this film somewhat if only for Hilton's performance. I'm happy to say Hilton and nearly everyone else in this film are still around and acting in Italian TV and cinema, so if you have nothing better to do, this film should make you a little happy. A little happiness is better than no happiness at all, right? This is not a recommendation, just an observance.
     Filmed as A CENA CON IL VAMPIRO (a literal translation of the review title) and also known as DINNER WITH THE VAMPIRE and VAMPIRE, this film failed to obtain a theatrical or VHS release in the United States, making its first appearance on these shores as a DVD from Mya Communications in 2009. There have been no updated discs since then, but a nice anamorphic widescreen print, dubbed in English, can be found streaming on YouTube from user "Horror Realm". I can't stress enough the importance of watching these films sooner rather than later because a lot of YouTube users are getting their accounts terminated permanently just because of complaints by whiney little cunts passing themselves off as licensed film company employees. Also featuring Igor Zalewsky (THE MAN WHO DIDN'T WANT TO DIE - 2007), Isabel Russinova (TEX AND THE LORD OF THE DEEP - 1985), and Roberto Pedicini (he dubbed Rupert Everett's voice in the Italian version of CEMETERY MAN - 1994). Not Rated. UPDATE: George Hilton passed away on July 28, 2019 at the age of 85. R.I.P.

DISCO GODFATHER (1979) - Rudy Ray Moore (who is enjoying a semi-comeback as of late, even though he could never act a lick) portrays Tucker Williams, an ex-cop and proprietor of the Blueberry Hill Disco. He goes on the warpath when his nephew Bucky (Julius J. Carry III of BRISCO COUNTY JR.) trips out on Angel Dust. In between scenes of disco dancing, Tucker uses his feet and hands to fight his way to Stinger (James H. Hawthorne), the biggest supplier of Angel Dust in America. Even though I think Rudy’s acting abilities leave a lot to be desired, I have found his films to be highly entertaining in a goofball kind of way. This one is no exception. First of all, Rudy makes an unlikely action hero. With his spandex jumpsuits and paunched-out stomach, he reminds me of that strange Uncle that everyone in your family talks about over Thanksgiving dinner. Definitely not action hero material. The scenes of people tripping out on Angel Dust must be seen to be believed. Bucky hallucinates that his hand is chopped off by a witch with a sword. Cartoon blood pours out of his wounds when he also imagines that he is being shot by three Brothers with big guns. This is really wild stuff. The action scenes are also unbelievable. Rudy has to be the stiffest martial artist in the world. He looks like he is in deep intensive pain every time he lifts a leg to plant a kick. The final 20 minutes are the most brain-numbing minutes I have sat through in quite a while. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Rent it to see what I mean. Directed by J. Robert Wagoner. Also starring Carol Speed (ABBY - 1974), Jimmy Lynch (who also did the makeup effects), Jerry Jones and Lady Reed. You could find a worse way to spend 90 minutes. A Xenon Home Video Release. Also known as AVENGING DISCO GODFATHERRated R. For more Rudy Ray Moore madness, check out DOLEMITE (1975), THE HUMAN TORNADO (1976) and PETEY WHEATSTRAW (1977). (NOTE: MAD TV did a hilarious send-up of Rudy's films. They managed to do a spot-on parody full of bad acting and awful kung-fu. Catch it in repeats if you get the chance.) UPDATE: Rudy Ray Moore passed away on October 19, 2008 at the age of 81.

THE DRACULA SAGA (1973) - Spanish horror film by the director of THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY (1972) and THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1975) that plays fast and loose with the Dracula legend. It is also one of the funniest unintentional comedies that I have seen in quite a while. If you go into this film expecting horror, you will be bitterly disappointed, but if you go in expecting to be entertained for all the wrong reasons, you will be greatly rewarded. People who like to play drinking games with films will be blind stinking drunk after the first 20 minutes here if they take a shot for every weird thing they hear or see.
     Count Dracula's grandaughter Berta (Tina Sainz) comes to Castle Dracula bearing a surprise: she's pregnant. I know what you're thinking, "How can a vampire get pregnant?", but she's not a vampire, as her family kept her out of that culture her whole life (it still doesn't explain how she was born!). Berta is married to Hans (Tony Isbert; RINGS OF FEAR - 1978), a handsome young man who doesn't suffer fools gladly. Berta has been having nightmares where she is being chased by a wolfman and the closer she gets to the castle, the more vivid her nightmares are. The coach driver refuses to take the couple to the castle at night, so they are forced to go forward on foot ("It feels like someone is dragging me down." says Berta. Hans then finds that her dress is caught on a tree branch!), where they find a nude young woman, with two puncture wounds on her neck, lying in the woods. They take her to the village inn, where Mother Petrescu (Mimi Muñoz) takes care of the unconscious woman (who has a huge shit-eating grin on her face) and tells one of the villages to go fetch Dr. Karl (Henry Gregor; DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN - 1971), the village physician. The doctor arrives and treats the woman, telling the guests she is just simply anemic and needs a good night's sleep, but Hans notices every young woman in the village has the same two puncture wounds on their necks, yet it doesn't worry him. Hans and Berta spend the night at the inn, where Berta has a dream where she shakes hands with an old woman and her head falls off! During the night, the unconscious woman disappears and Mother Petrescu tells Hans not to tell Berta because it will upset her (I'll bet it's not as upsetting as an old woman's head falling off!), Stilla (Betsabe Ruiz; HOUSE OF INSANE WOMEN - 1971), a young woman in the next room to the couple, is paid a visit by a cloaked figure, so she rips open her nightgown, exposing her breasts, and smiles, while the figure comes closer. The next morning, Gabor (J.J. Paladino), a servant from Castle Dracula, arrives at the inn to accompany the couple to the castle, being their new coach driver. Berta asks him how her grandfather is doing and Gabor replies that he is "dying" to see her (This is not a comedy. I repeat, this is not a comedy!).
     As soon as they get to the castle, Berta wants to visit the grave of her grandmother, so Gabor takes her there. She is shocked to discover a gravemarker for her grandfather next to her grandmother's grave, but Gabor tells her not to worry (Don't worry? Really?). Both Berta and Hans find it strange that none of her family have come to greet them (it is still daylight) and Gabor tells them that her family will greet them later on at dinner. As they unpack, Berta hears a woman crying, but Hans hears nothing (He must be deaf!). They then have lunch alone, where Hans makes a remark about how the wine tastes "peculiar" (Hey Hans, no "wine" is that red!!!). All the doors in the castle are locked, so they can't even explore the castle. Berta feels something is terribly wrong (No shit!) and starts crying, telling Hans she wants to leave, but he tells her to come to the dining hall, where they meet Count Dracula (Narciso Ibañez Menta; I HATE MY BODY - 1974), his new wife Munia (Helga Liné; THE LORELEY'S GRASP - 1973) and all her cousins (all female), as well as the old woman from Berta's dream, Mrs. Gastrop (Elsa Zabala; CURSE OF THE DEVIL - 1973). Another servant, Gert (Javier de Rivera; FURY OF THE WOLFMAN - 1970), serves all of them a glass of the peculiar-tasting wine at dinner and they toast to Berta's pregnancy. They all watch as Berta lifts the glass to her lips to take a drink, but they are bitterly disappointed when she doesn't like how it tastes (she also complains that the food is undercooked!). Berta runs out of the room and the Count tells Hans that the new life in Berta's belly is the heir to the Dracula bloodline. Her "son" will inherit all of the lands Dracula.
     One of Berta's cousins, Xenia (María Kosty; A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE - 1973), seduces Hans, stripping him naked and screwing him while the rest of the family watches...smiling! Hans then disappears for most of the remainder of the film. When Berta's clothing trunk finally arrives at Castle Dracula, two of her cousins, Irina (Cristina Suriani; HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB - 1972) and Gitana (Ingrid Rabel; HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE - 1973), rifle through it, steal some of the clothes and try them on, attacking a fire-and-brimstone-talking religious fanatic (Luis Ciges; HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN - 1973) in the woods (They both strip naked, so they don't get their new clothes dirty, and jump on him!). Berta begins to have trouble with her pregnancy (she is not due to drop the kid for five months) and, once again, hears the woman crying, only this time Berta asks the crying woman if she has seen her husband! (I think a crying woman would have more important things on her mind!) Berta escapes from the castle, finding some of her clothes in the woods and walking to the inn (!). She tells Mother Petrescu and Dr. Karl that she just saw some gypsies in the woods and the villagers take up arms because, you know, gypsies mean that werewolves and ritualistic killings are not far behind. The religious fanatic then enters the inn, his body bloody and broken, only giving the villagers more of an impetus to kill the gypsies!
     For some unknown reason, Dr. Karl brings Berta back to the castle, where she sees that Hans is white as a sheet, yet he bears a shit-eating grin on his face (We later see the cousins using him as a sex toy!). Berta sits at the dinner table, where all her cousins show her their fangs, so she runs upstairs and tells Hans that they are leaving.  Instead of leaving, Hans tries to bite her, but fails. We then see the Count whipping one of the cousins, telling Hans that his bloodline has become impure by all the sexual funny business and only Berta's newborn son will be able to make the family pure again. That night, Hans tries to bite Berta again, but she is ready this time, stabbing him to death with a butcher knife she has placed on the bed (In a scene that makes absolutely no sense, we see Hans turn old when he dies!). Will the Count's wishes come true or will Berta perform the world's first coat hanger abortion?
     The first thing you'll notice about this film is how horrendously dubbed it is. The dubbing artists put zero emotion in their line readings, making their conversations sounding like they are reading newspapers to each other. The second thing you'll notice is that this film makes no sense at all, as all it seems to be is a series of unrelated events strung together, with no connective tissue between the scenes. I expected more from director León Klimovsky, since I like most of his other horror films. Besides the two I mentioned in the beginning of this review, he was also responsible for WEREWOLF SHADOW  (1971), VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES  (1973), DEVIL'S POSSESSED (1974), NIGHT OF THE WALKING DEAD  (1975) and many others, before he retired from directing in 1979 (and dying in 1996). The only thing I can surmise about why this film turned out the way it did was because something was lost in the translation from Spanish to English (it wouldn't be the first time this has happened with a foreign horror film), as the screenplay, by "Lazarus Kaplan" (actually Emilio Martínez Lázaro; DIARY OF AN EROTIC MURDERESS - 1975), makes no sense in this version, but it is absolutely hysterical for its unintentional humor. There is plenty of female (and male) nudity, as well as some WTF?!? scenes of unbelievability (Wait until you get a gander of Mrs. Gastrop's head towards the end of the film. It's the best moment of the film, in my opinion.). It also contains some extremely graphic scenes of violence (the Count's demise, as well as the deaths of Berta's cousins, are memorable), but none of it could make up for the film's total lack of coherence. What about Berta's baby? I'm afraid that doesn't make a lick of sense either. A pregnant Berta dies in the finale, yet the final shot is of a baby who has blood dripping in his mouth (a scene which wouldn't be allowed in films today unless the blood was CGI), as we hear the Count say, "I live again! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!..." That makes about as much sense as tits on a rock.
     Filmed as La Saga de los Drácula and also known as SAGA OF THE DRACULAS, DRACULA: THE BLOODLINE CONTINUES and DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, this actually got a U.S. theatrical release (by International Cine Film Corporation and later by International Amusements Corp.) and was released on VHS, by outfits like All Seasons Entertainment and Something Weird Video. Deimos Entertainment issued a widescreen DVD of this film, but it is long OOP and hard to find at a decent price. My review comes from the DVD-R I purchased from Sinister Cinema (through Amazon). It is in fullscreen, yet crisp an colorful, but like I always say, you can polish a turd, but it will still smell like shit. Serious horror fans are warned to stay away. Also starring Fernando Villena (PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES - 1965), Ramón Centenero (RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD - 1973), Manuel Barrera and José Riesgo. Rated R.

EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS (1977) - When I heard that Severin Films was releasing this film on Blu-Ray, I immediately retired my Twilight Video VHS of TRAP THEM AND KILL THEM (one of this film's alternate titles), went on Amazon and purchased this sucker. Severin almost always gives me my money's worth and I'm glad to say that this one didn't disappoint. It's sleazy as hell and chock-full of nudity and gore, something you can always count on from late director Joe D'Amato (real name: Aristide Massaccesi; EMANUELLE AND THE DEADLY BLACK COBRA - 1976; ANTHROPOPHAGUS - 1980; 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS - 1982).
     The film opens with a sky view of New York City (the first image is of the World Trade center) and then an on-screen scrawl announces, "This film is based on a true story as reported by journalist Jennifer O'Sullivan" (yeah, right!). We are then at a mental institution, where a nurse comes staggering out of a room, her right breast bitten off by a female patient (Cindy Leadbetter; RATS: THE NIGHT OF TERROR - 1983), who is a cannibal. Another nurse tells the orderlies that this woman was found near the Amazon rainforest and they slap a strait-jacket on the woman. Journalist/nymphomaniac Emanuelle (Laura Gemser; EMANUELLE IN PRISON - 1983), who is undercover at this institution to do a report on inmate abuse (the doctor who knows who she really is is portrayed by director D'Amato, in a quick cameo), witnesses the whole thing and takes photos of the cannibalism with a camera in a doll's eyes (She carries the doll everywhere she goes. I guess dolls are a sign of mental instability!). That night, Emanuelle sneaks into the cannibal woman's room and rubs her hand over her vagina (!), while she asks for her name. The woman doesn't answer, but Emanuelle notices a strange tattoo over the woman's "pubic region" (Emanuelle's words, not mine). Emanuelle shows her photos to her editor and he believes the tattoo is an ancient Aztec symbol. From the newspaper's archive records, Emanuelle discovers that the tattoo is the symbol of the Topinambat, a tribe of ancient cannibals who are thought to be extinct. If we know one thing about Italian cannibal films, we know that the tribe is far from extinct. Before you can say, "Are you up for a trip?", Emanuelle is making plans of traveling to the Amazon to find out exactly where the cannibal woman was found. But first, she talks to world-famous anthropologist Professor Mark Lester (frequent Gemser co-star Gabriele Tinti; VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON - 1982), who takes her back to his apartment to show her some footage from his past expeditions, where we see a cannibal tribe in Tanzania beheading a man and slicing off the penis of another. They then eat the penis and also eat the eyes from the decapitated head. (Before they get to his apartment, they walk the streets of '70s New York City, which brought a nostalgic rush over me, especially when I saw the Ed Sullivan Theater and the American Museum of Natural History). They then make love in a graphic display of softcore sex, before Mark agrees to go on the expedition with her. Before she goes on her trip, Emanuelle makes love to boyfriend Peter on the shore of the East River, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. (Did I mention that Emanuelle is a nymphomaniac?)
     Once in the Amazon, they meet Mark's friend Wilkes (Geoffrey Copleston; THE BLACK CAT - 1981), who tells Emanuelle where they found the cannibal woman in the nuthouse. They also meet Wilkes' daughter Isabelle (Monika Zanchi; THE EYE BEHIND THE WALL - 1977) and Sister Angela (Annamaria Clementi; PORNO SHOP ON 7TH AVENUE - 1979), both who will be going on the expedition. Once again, Mark and Emanuelle make love, this time under mosquito netting, as a jealous Isabelle secretly watches them and masturbates (Again, quite graphic). Their first stop on the expedition is a mission and their guides are Felipe and Manolo (Hal Yamanouchi; ENDGAME - 1983). They take a boat, travel up river and stop at a waterfall, where Emanuelle and Isabelle (along with a smoking champanzee!) make naked lesbian love in a shallow lake (That Joe D'Amato, you gotta love him!). After they are done, they travel further up river and stop to set up camp. Emanuelle is attacked by a boa constrictor, when stranger Donald McKenzie (Donald O'Brien; DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. - 1980)  appears and shoots the snake. Donald tells them that the mission is no longer there and everyone is dead, their bodies horribly mutilated. Donald is a big game hunter and he has brought his wife Maggie (Susan Scott; THE SLASHER...IS THE SEX MANIAC! - 1972) and guide Salvadore (Percy Hogan; WAR OF THE PLANETS - 1977) along for the hunt. But is it big game they are after? They all join in on Emanuelle's expedition, but it is obvious that their camp is being watched. Time for some more sex: Maggie masturbates while looking at Salvadore and then orders him to follow her into the jungle, where they have hot, steamy sex. Donald watches them doing it, but is he impotent (his wife thinks so)? It turns out that Donald is a letch, as after watching his wife making love to a black man, he then peeps on the naked Isabelle and Sister Angela as they sleep (Does every female in this film sleep bare-assed?). The next morning they find Manolo's dead body, his torso slit open from stem to stern and their boat is missing. Everyone travels on foot through the jungle, where Sister Angela finds a Bible on the ground. Isabelle finds a blanket and when she lifts it up, she discovers the decapitated head of Father Morales, the head (so to speak) of the mission. Donald and Maggie are searching for something, but what could it be?
     Isabelle falls into some quicksand and all the men save her just in time. Donald feels-up Isabelle while she is sleeping (At least she is wearing panties this time!) and when she wakes up and screams, Mark comes to her rescue, but Donald beats him up (Maggie steps in and stops him). Sister Angela disappears and everyone searches for her. Felipe is killed by a spiked jungle booby trap and we then see that Sister Angela has been captured by a tribe of cannibals. She is tied to a tree, stripped naked and then has her right nipple cut off, which one of the cannibals eats. She then has her chest graphically ripped open and the tribe makes a meal out of her innards. Who will be next and will anyone survive the slaughter? What are Donald and Maggie looking for (Hint: It crashed in the jungle and contains something sparkly)? Who will Emanuelle fuck next? Will it be a member of the cannibal tribe? (Did I mention she is a nymphomaniac?). Will decapitated heads on a stick ever be accepted in modern society? That, and so much more, is waiting for you, so buy the damned Blu-Ray!
     When it comes to sleazy entertainment, very few directors could deliver it like Joe D'Amato. Packed with near-porn sex and nudity, as well as graphic bloodletting, this film will have you watching in amazement, as D'Amato fills the screen with a non-stop barrage of sex, violence and some bat-shit crazy set pieces. The smoking chimpanzee, which can not be found in South America, is one such set piece. Where did he get a cigarette? And how did he light it?!? The diamond sub-plot also comes out of left field and dig those cannibals dancing around a captive Maggie!. Very few films make so little sense, yet it is 100% enjoyable, making it a sleazehound's dream come true (you haven't lived until you see a woman's "pubic region" cut open and eaten by cannibals!). The screenplay, by D'Amato and Romano Scandariato (DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973; D'Amato's first film as a director), tosses in as many human deaths as possible and the highlight is the way Donald O'Brien is killed (I'll leave that for you to discover). This is grindhouse at its best and, for once, there are no real-life animal deaths on view. What more could you ask for? Me? I'm more than satisfied.
     Released theatrically in the United States under the review title and as TRAP THEM AND KILL THEM, with a fullscreen VHS under the latter title by Twilight Video. Released on DVD early in the New Millennium by Media Blasters/Shriek Show uncut and in widescreen. The Severin Films Blu-Ray is pleasing to the eye and has plenty of grain, just the way I like my films (Not every film needs to have grain digitally removed, making human skin look like it is made out of wax. Grain is an important, natural part of filmmaking). D'Amato, who was also the film's cinematographer, gives the film a healthy sheen, making it hard to believe that the jungle scenes were actually filmed just outside Rome (even though the film mistakenly [or on purpose] lists it as being shot in and around "Tapurucuara, Amazonas, Brazil"). There's no denying that Laura Gemser is a beautiful woman and she has no inhibitions here, which is why she appeared as Emanuelle in 13 films, many of them directed by D'Amato. Be aware that the English subtitles rarely match what is being said on screen (It is available in Italian with English subtitles or English dubbed. I watched the dubbed version with the subtitles turned on.), but that is in no way a detriment, as it shows that the dubbers were having a lot of fun with the dialogue. As always, the extras on the disc are second-to-none, my favorite being the lengthy new interview with Donald O'Brien, who talks (in Italian) about his career and the people he worked with. He loved Burt Lancaster but didn't care too much for Franco Nero, who he said always showed up drunk. His stories are informative and funny. There are also interviews with actresses Annamaria Clementi & Monica Zanchi, as well as one with Nico Fidenco, who supplied the catchy music to this film, as well as most of the other Emanuelle films. There is also an audio interview with Laura Gemser and a theatrical trailer. A nice package for a sleaze classic. Shot under the title EMANUELLE E GLI ULTIMI CANNIBALI (a literal translation of the review title) and also known as BLOODY TRACK. Also starring Pierluigi Cervetti, Massimo Ciprari (MEET HIM AND DIE - 1976), Dirce Funari (ESCAPE FROM WOMEN'S PRISON - 1978), Maria Gabriella Mezzett, Bona Bono and Giuseppe Auci. Not Rated and proud of it.

EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977) - The is the last of the giant creature films from director/producer/special effects technician Bert I. Gordon (he also gets "Screen Story" credit here, but Jack Turley wrote the screenplay [his only theatrical screenplay; he was a well-respected writer of TV series and TV movies {PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS and TERROR ON THE 40TH FLOOR - both 1974} from the 60's through the 80's], loosely based on the H.G. Wells story) and it also is one of his most preposterous ones (and that's saying a lot). Therefore, it is required viewing for fans who like to watch ridiculous things (Count me in as one of them). Besides some swearing, blood (some of which goes past its PG Rating, but this is the 70's we are talking about and things were much looser then) and the fact that it was made in color, this could easily pass as one of Gordon's 50's giant insect/spider/person films, but make no mistake, this is no THEM! (1954), so just enjoy it for the retarded entertainment that it is. Consider it cotton candy for your brain. Everyone needs to watch a film like this every once in a while, if only to remind us what kind of films actually got theatrical releases in the 70's. Like Gordon's previous year FOOD OF THE GODS (1976), this was also released on a double feature Blu-Ray, with the rote JAWS OF SATAN (1981) as the co-feature. I'm still flabbergasted how Mr. Gordon sets people like Joan Collins to appear in his films. I would have loved to be in one of Bert I. Gordon's pitch meetings listening to him talking Collins' agent into getting her to star in a cheezy film about giant ants that want to take over mankind. It's not like Joan Collins hasn't appeared in thrillers and horror films before (TERROR FROM UNDER THE HOUSE [1971], TALES FROM THE CRYPT [1972] and TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS [1973] comes to mind), but they are all higher-end productions when compared to this cheesefest. It only makes me appreciate Joan Collins all the more as an actress who will take any role that she pleases and she throws herself into this one. After a brief history about ants (narrated by late voice master supreme Marvin Miller, who was the voice of Robby The Robot in FORBIDDEN PLANET [1956]), such as there are 15,000 different species and the queen of the colony emits pheromones as a way to communicate to her colony, giving each of them specific jobs to perform, we then watch a ship dump barrels of radioactive waste into the ocean off the coast of Florida. One of those drums washes ashore and starts leaking (it looks like liquid mercury) on the beach of the proposed site of Dreamland Shores, a pump and dump scheme run by crooked real estate agent Marilyn Fryser (Collins) and her assistant/lover Charlie (Edward Power). Marilyn hires boat captain Dan Stokely (Robert Lansing; SCALPEL - 1976) to take a bunch of suck..., err prospective buyers, to Dreamland Shores to buy parcels of land, all of which are no better than swampland (they are very close to the Everglades). We then see a colony of ants feeding on the radioactive waste from the leaking barrel, which can only mean one thing: Big trouble. We then get to know a little bit about each of the prospective buyers, such as Charlie telling customer Joe (John David Carson; CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE - 1976) that one in three people go on these excursions just for the free booze and food and he believes Joe is one of those people (Charlie is right) or that the married Larry (Robert Pine; NO MAN'S LAND: THE RISE OF REEKER - 2008) ditches his wife Christine (Brooke Palance; daughter of Jack Palance who had a very short acting career) when they dock to try and get some action from Coreen (Pamela Shoop; HALLOWEEN II - 1981), only to get a knee planted in his balls. For the first time we and everyone else hears a creepy screeching sound and we the POV of the giant ants (reminicent of THE FLY - 1958). Dan (Robert Lansing seems very disinterested in appearing in this film) and fired long-time worker Margaret (Jacqueline Scott; CHARLEY VARRICK - 1973) have a heart-to-heart talk about whether she should invest her life savings into a parcel of this land and Dan tells her she should only buy here if they strike oil on it. Everyone but Dan take a trolley car ride through the area, where Marilyn starts her hard sell, where we see signs like "Future Golf Course", "Future Marina", "Future Tennis Court" and so on, but nothing has been built. All the prospective buyers can see are pipes sticking out of the ground, the signs and a picnic table under a tent midway through the tour, where the customers can fill up on cheap booze and even cheaper sandwiches. Thomas (Jack Kosslyn) and his wife Mary (Ilse Earl) sneak off and Thomas discovers that the pipes (and a fire hydrant) are just buried in the ground and not connected to anything. Before they can tell anyone else of the deception, they are both attacked and killed by giant ants (a mixture of Bert I. Gordon's plate photography and giant ant puppets). Marilyn continues with the rest of the group one the trolley ride and when she is told that Tom and Mary were left back at the picnic area, Marilyn says they decided to stay back there. It's only when everyone discovers the mangled corpse of one of Marilyn's workers (all we see is his foot), do they realize that they stepped into a big pile of shit. Coreen and Joe leave by foot to go find Tom and Mary, while everyone else takes the trolley back to the dock. When they get there, they see the dock is crawling with giant ants and Dan is swimming to his boat to try and get it away from there. When Dan gets to his boat, it is too late, as the ants are already aboard and have killed his only crewman (if you look closely, you will see more blood than what is allowed in films rated PG today). Dan swings an axe at the ants and hits a gas can and decides to set the boat on fire, making the discovery that the giants ants are afraid of fire. Joe and Coreen have a couple of close calls with giant ants after discovering Tom's body, but they make it back to the dock, where Dan has built a giant campfire to keep the ants away. Of course a torrential rainstorm hits the following morning, putting out the fire, so Dan (minus Marilyn and Charlie, who decide to hide-out in one of the only hastily-built sheds at the shore) leads the rest of them through the swamp to a river, where there is a small boat waiting that can take them to civilization. The ants begin to pick-off the people one-by-one. Coward Larry lets wife Christine become ant food when she trips and hurts her ankle (The ant puppets are low-rent, but effective). Charlie dies next when he and Marilyn open the shed to discover a giant ant in it. Marilyn runs to join Dan and his group. Old couple Harry & Velma Thompson (Harry Holcombe & Irene Tedrow) break from the group and hide in an old shed in the swamp, while the rest of the group find the boat and head down river to the nearest town. Harry and Velma open the shed believing they are now safe, only to discover that they are surrounded by giant ants. The boat comes to a fork in the river and a guilt-ridden Larry screams that they should go left, which Dan does, but like every decision that Larry has made, it is the wrong one, as the river is blocked by some downed trees and they are forced to fight some ants before turning the boat around and taking the right at the fork in the river. A short distance down the river, the group is attacked by an ant, which kills Larry (Yea, ant!) and dumps everyone overboard, where they all swim to shore. It then becomes apparent to Dan that the ants are herding them in a particular direction like cattle and we soon find out why when the group makes it to civilization and meet a creepy old couple (the old woman whispers something into Coreen's ear) who call Sheriff Kincade (Albert Salmi; SUPERSTITION - 1982) to come and pick up the new visitors. They should have realized something was wrong when the much-too-accomodating Sheriff Kincade mentions the local sugar refinery (The old woman whispered to Coreen, "Whatever you do, don't let them take you to the sugar refinery.") and Joe can't get an outside line to call a government friend, even though they see the Mayor talking long distance to a raw sugar company about an important delivery. Dan and Joe go to rent a car, when they hear the screech, but it only turns out to be a kid on a Big Wheel (it's also the only time Robert Lansing smiles in the whole film). They are unable to rent a car when the girl behind the counter won't give them one because they both lost their wallets and have no identification or driver licenses. Dan is highly suspicious of the whole town, so Joe hotwires a car and they all take off to leave town, only to discover the road is blocked by police cars. They are run off the road and crash into a small pond, where they are captured and taken to the sugar refinery. We see the Queen ant in a chamber spraying her pheromones on the townspeople one-by-one (they have to be sprayed once a week because it wears off), so they will do her bidding: Make more refined sugar for her and her colony. Sheriff Kincade moves the group to the top of the line, where Marilyn is the first victim. After she is sprayed with the pheromones, she exits the chamber a changed woman and tells the rest of the group in a monotone voice that they will understand once they get sprayed. Dan is next, but he is hiding a road flare in his pants (I thought he was just happy to see me) and uses it to set the Queen ant on fire. As the Queen burns, the people snap out of her spell and the confused giant ants begin killing the sugar refinery workers. They all run out of the refinery (except for Marilyn, who is killed by the Queen while a revived Sheriff Kincade pumps some bullets into the Queen's head) and Joe finds a gas tanker truck. He opens the valve and drives the truck around the refinery while Dan and the rest of the group find a motorboat on a dock. Joe jumps out of the truck after he aims it at the opening of the refinery and the whole complex catches on fire, burning all the ants to death. Joe joins Dan and the group as they take off in the boat, navigating the Everglades' twisty waterways, but is this the end to the menace? I hope so because I am running low on Raid.  While not as bloody as Gordon's previously-mentioned PG-Rated FOOD OF THE GODS, this film does have its fair share (you just have to look more closely and sometimes freeze the Blu-Ray to see it) and has some pretty funny dialogue, such as when Coreen apologizes to Joe by saying, "Well, I don't know, I guess I just thought you were one of those macho phony types, you know? The kind whose brains fall out every time he unzips his fly." Gordon continued to use the 50's way of showing giant ants walking on objects by having normal-sized ants walking on glass with photos on small-sized objects behind the glass to give the ants a giant look. The ant puppets are thankfully used a lot because the plate photography sometimes bears out mistakes, as the ants travel too far off the glass plates and look like they are walking on air. The film takes a giant 180° turn during the final third of the film, which increases the enjoyment much more than it should. I must have seen this film more than 20 times, either on TV (Remember those days when films like this were shown on the 4:30 Movie?), the Embassy Home Entertainment VHS or the widescreen MGM Midnite Movies DVD (the Blu-Ray ports over Bert I. Gordon's running commentary from this DVD but, at the time this review was written, Mr. B.I.G. was still alive and in his mid-90's). The Blu-Ray, by Shout! Factory tentpole Scream Factory is in great shape, but the aspect ratio seems off a bit. Words I remember seeing on the rental car building's window are cut off (I'll have to check my DVD to see if it is there) and some of the framing of certain scenes seem extremely tight, but that should in no way deter you from buying this double-feature Blu-Ray, especially if you are a Gordon fan (which I am). Also featuring Tom Fadden, Janie Gavin, Norman Franklin, Florence McGee, Mike Armstrong, Tom Ford and Jim Wheelus as Dan's unfortunate Crewman. A Scream Factory Blu-Ray Release. Rated PG.

EMPIRE OF THE DARK (1991) - For those who have been reading the many reviews I have written in the past 33 years (as of the time of this review), you know the last thing I care about are the technical aspects. I'm all about the movie, not the presentation. Maybe I'll give one or two lines about how good or bad the film prints or VHS looks, but I mostly care about the film itself. I have been searching for a copy of this film for years, ever since I saw director/screenwriter Steve Barkett's crazy post-apocalypse film THE AFTERMATH (1978) years and years ago on VHS, but finding a VHS copy of EMPIRE (which, at the time of this writing, was Barkett's only second time directing) was about as hard as finding a VHS of BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL (1984), so I struck out for over twenty-five years. That is, until I received an email from VCI Entertainment's website saying that they were offering both of Barkett's films on DVD. I immediately jumped on the offers and purchased both of them, only to discover that they were actually fullscreen DVD-Rs. Now, being on DVD-R makes no difference to me (digital is digital as long as there is no compression), but in this day and age, not to offer the film in widescreen was quite a letdown (VCI has since changed the description of the films' formats on their website). Don't get me wrong; nearly 75% of the films I review on here are from fullscreen VHS tapes or DVD-R copies of VHS tapes, so fullscreen never bothered me, but I heard that even Steve Barkett was less than pleased (to put it politely) at the way VCI treated both of his films. I'm a realist. If I can get a film in widescreen over fullscreen, I will go for the widescreen version every time. But since it looks like VCI Entertainment is not going to offer a widescreen version of this film anytime in the near future, I'll have to review the fullscreen DVD-R, which looks great, by the way (For those of you against DVD-R, there's not much I can do to convince you that the quality is the same as a pressed DVD and DVD-Rs have failure rates a lot less than pressed DVDs, but I got into a long discussion on Facebook about it and learned one thing: People against DVD-R are never going to change their mind, no matter how many facts you throw at them and to not purchase this film based on this fact alone makes you look foolish in my eyes). Now let's get into the film, because like Steve Barrett's previous directorial film, he wrote the screenplay to this one, too, and it is quite complex. In the early 1970's, beneath Stonehenge during a full moon, there is a chamber where evil sorcerer Arkham (Richard Harrison; SCORPION THUNDERBOLT - 1985) stabs a pregnant woman in the stomach with a sacrificial dagger and he licks the blood off the blade. It revives a long-dormant large horned demon that was waiting to be revived in a hole in the chamber. Arkham tells the demon to be patient, some day he will be free for good. We then switch to police officer Richard Flynn (Steve Barkett), also in the early 1970's, who gets a frantic call from Angela (Tera Hendrickson) for him to come over to the Maple Street Warehouse, a building that husband-to-be Brian (Dan Speaker) owns. Richard is quite perplexed, because a few hours ago, Angela told Richard that she never wanted to see him again (I smell infidelity!) since she had Brian's baby and thinks it would be best if she marries him. But now Angela is acting like it is a life or death situation (it is) and needs Richard to come to the warehouse as soon as possible. Richard tells her he will be there in thirty minutes (when he is off his shift!) and when he gets there, he hears Angela scream out, "Richard, help me!". He blows the lock off the door with his handgun (a six-shooter, which will come into play many times in this film) and sees a huge hole in the wall of the basement of the warehouse, that leads into some sort of alternate dimension. Richard must shoot and kill a bunch of hooded demons (one who bites him; at one time I counted 12 shots coming from his gun without reloading!) in order to get close to Angela and her baby, who are both on an altar; Brian holding a knife over the baby and Arkham holding his dagger over Angela. Angela begs Richard to save her baby, and with only one bullet left in his gun, he shoots and kills Brian, saving the baby. Arkhan ends up stabbing Angela and killing her, but Richard gets his revenge by beating Arkham to death with the butt of his gun. He grabs the baby and runs towards to hole in the wall when he sees it getting smaller and smaller, almost falling off a rickety old wooden bridge into the lava below, but he manages to jump through the hole just as it disappears. Twenty years pass (Richard gives the baby to an orphanage because he want nothing that is Brian's) and Richard has left the police force to become a bounty hunter. A couple of years ago, Richard suddenly decided that he had to learn how to swordfight, so he hires a sexy broad (besides a few character names, no other actor is given a character name in the beginning or closing credits, so I can't tell you her name) to teach him a few times a week. He becomes quite good at it, even though he keeps hitting on her. He already has a girlfriend named Stacey Brent (Patricia Schiotis), who is also a bounty hunter. Police Detective Eddie Green (Jay Richardson; THE UNLIVING - 2003) is talking on the phone when Terry Nash (Christopher Barkett, the real-life son of Steve), the son of Angela, asks Eddie for his help because Richard refuses to take his phone calls or answer his letters. He tells Eddie an "incredible story" (one we are not privy to) and then shows Eddie a photograph of Brian and Arkham standing next to a modern car, which proves that they are still alive because the photo was taken just two weeks ago. Eddie agrees to help Terry and drives him to see Richard. Richard, on the other hand, is following a bounty into a grocery store when Eddie spots his car in the grocery store parking lot. Thinking that Richard is there getting groceries, he yells out Richard's name, just as Richard was about to bum-rush his bounty. The perp has a shotgun and there is a free-for-all gunfight, as patrons run out the door and the bounty kills two women shoppers in cold blood. He then takes a young girl hostage, which gives Richard flashbacks from twenty years ago when he saved the baby. Terry throws a loaf of bread, which distracts the perp just long enough for Richard to shoot his bounty a few times, killing him. Richard once again blows off Terry after looking at the photo, saying that it is easy to alter photos (but not as easy as it is now!). He then walks out of the grocery store, leaving Eddie and Terry holding their dicks in their hands (and he's one of Eddie's best friends!). Meanwhile, Stacey has a meeting with psychic investigator Guy Zupan ("Josef Pilato", a.k.a. Joe Pilato, Rhodes in DAY OF THE DEAD - 1985) to talk about the "Demon Stalker" case, one of the worst cases of serial killing in years. Zupan tells Stacey that the Demon Slasher has killed ten girls and ten more girls will die before the next full moon (We see one such girl, when the giant demon tears the doors off a parked car of two teens making out and kills the guy and kidnaps the girl). Zupan knows all this because 20 years ago, his daughter was killed by Arkham in the same ceremony (she was the girl we saw killed in the beginning of the film), so he has become an expert on Arkham and Brian's cult. Zupan warns Stacey that both Arkham and Brian are within the boundaries of town, so she should be very careful (advice she does not take). I'm not going to tell you any more about the plot, because if I do, it will deprive you on one of the batshit craziest films of the 90's. The film is so twisted and weird, that the final thirty minutes will have your complete attention because it is apparent that Steve Barkett blew most of his budget on the ultra-bloody final half hour, which includes stop-motion animation, automatic gunfire, headless corpses, dismemberment, seductresses in lingerie (who show their true faces when rebuffed), plenty of bloody bullet squibs, interdimensional travel, sacrifices, tons of gore, bodies pulled apart, some pretty impressive miniature model work, a nun saying, "Bullshit!" and nearly anything else you can think of. Say what you want about Steve Barkett, but when he commits to a film, he literally throws himself into it (he even edited this film and worked on some of the special effects). While he just makes it as a competant actor (he does get in some funny lines) and has appeared in such films as BEVERLY HILLS VAMP (1989); DARK UNIVERSE (1993); DINOSAUR ISLAND (1994); CYBERZONE (1995); STAR HUNTER (1996) and others (mostly in small roles), it is his directorial and screenwriting talents that shine. This is unlike any film you are about to see any time soon and it makes me seriously wonder why Barkett hasn't directed more films. We all need to watch something different every now and then and judging by Barkett's only two directorial films, that is exactly what you get. This film was co-produced by Fred Olen Ray (with Barkett's wife Patricia), which would explain the appearances of Dawn Wildsmith as medium Madame Oleska and Jay Richardson, who has a much bigger role than normal (always a good thing). Do yourself a favor and invest in this film, fullscreen or not. You will be completely entertained for 96 minutes. Also starring Jan Bryant, Jason Martin; Liat Mathias, Fred Jorgensen, Gina Martin, Rachael Schiotis and Dave Speaker. Jim Danforth was a swordfight stunt double and plays one of the hooded demons, but there is nowhere in the film where it states he did the stop-motion animation (which he is known for). A VCI Entertainment DVD-R Release. Rated R.

ESCAPE FROM THE INSANE ASYLUM (1986) - This is the notoriously hard-to-find badfilm, better known as NIGHT OF TERROR and the final film to star Renee Harmon (she also scripted and produced this), who starred in such clunkers as LADY STREET FIGHTER (1978), FROZEN SCREAM (1981), THE EXECUTIONER PART II (1983) and HELL RIDERS (1984), before leaving the acting business to become an author of filmmaking books and then dying of a heart attack in 2006. Ms. Harmon (and her thick German accent) stars here as Chris, a woman unjustly committed to an insane asylum where her husband, Alex (Henry Lewis), is a doctor. Alex is cheating on Chris with hospital nurse Inez (Susette Andres), but when Inez threatens to tell Chris of the affair, Alex injects her with an overdose of an opiate, killing her. Alex, along with asylum head Dr. Harper (Frank Neuhaus), are using Chris' family fortune to fund illicit experiments on the "retards" in the asylum. When one of the braindead retards, Paul (Steven Neuhardt), suddenly awakens, slits an orderly's throat and escapes, he follows a recently released Chris (Alex and Dr. Harper have hatched a plan to drive her permanently insane) and stepdaughter Becky (Lauren Brent) to a "haunted" house in the mountains (as luck would have it, it is the recently murdered Inez's house!), where Chris plans to convalesce. She begins to have horrible visions and nightmares (footage lifted from FROZEN SCREAM) and is chased around the house by someone wearing a black hood, while creepy stuff (such as a hamburger patty turning into a dead rat!) begins happening to her that no one else can see, including Becky and nosy neighbor Ellen (Lynn Whitmire), who just happens to be Dr Harper's wife (Oooh, I smell a conspiracy!). Chris and Ellen become fast friends and go to a fancy pool party thrown by Dr. Harper (where an awful New Wave band called "Inz 'N' Outz" are playing), where Paul's psychic mother, Celeste (Arline Specht), warns Chris to leave Inez's house and go back to the safety of civilization. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that most of this is a ploy by Alex and Dr. Harper to drive Chris insane so Alex can become executor of her vast fortune, but when the house turns out to really be haunted and the ghost of Inez leads Chris to the truth, she may get the upper hand on her husband. When Chris overhears Alex talking on the phone about having Paul (who is recaptured) murder her when she is recommitted, Chris escapes in her car, with Alex following her. Chris is captured, brought to the asylum and nearly killed, but the ghost of Inez appears (her face melts like wax in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK - 1981) and scares Alex and Dr. Harper to death. Chris, Becky and Paul live happily ever after.  As directed by one-time wonder Felix Gerard, ESCAPE FROM THE INSANE ASYLUM is a complete mess. Not only does it have the cheap look of a mid-80's porno film, with barebones sets (check out Dr. Harper's bar at the pool party or the insane asylum sets for lessons in minimalism), muffled sound recording (where the music and foley effects drown out the dialogue), hamfisted editing (really, it looks like someone was holding an entire ham while editing this, as scenes jump from one sequence to the next with jarring jumps in sound to match) and flat photography (it looks like it was shot on video, but it's actually 16mm film); it's also shot so dark (many of the night scenes look to have been shot without the aide of external lighting), a clear 50% of the film is nearly unwatchable. Despite all these faults and Ms. Harmon's questionable acting ability (although, to be fair, the rest of the cast isn't that hot, either), this film works on a psychedelic level, like you are watching someone's fragmented fever dream. While the plot may be a jumbled mess (thanks to Ms. Harmon and her skewed understanding of the English language), with a subplot about Becky and a bunch of teens, who decide to check out "the haunted McFarland place", that leads nowhere, the film as a whole works for some strange reason. I just can't put my finger on it. It has minimal blood and gore (most of the gore is from the FROZEN SCREAM inserts), no nudity (although there are many shots of young women in bikinis and Ms. Harmon dons some spandex for a gym workout) and hardly any foul language, but it does have a funny Ouija board scene, a sequence where a hooker is picked from the streets and killed (I'm still trying to figure out what it has to do with the rest of the film), gratuitous New Wave music inserts and lots of dialogue scenes where Ms. Harmon talks to herself while mangling the English language. I don't know why, but this is my favorite Renee Harmon film. Maybe it's because it is her last or maybe because I'm just a masochist at heart. You decide. Also starring James Lewis, Marian Wayne, Jan Vandenberg, Ivan Corda, Joni Barns and Graham Galloway. Image Entertainment supposedly released this on laserdisc in the late 80's, but I have yet to see a copy of it anywhere, though. The U.S. VHS release (as NIGHT OF TERROR), from Video Pictures Corp., is about as rare as they come and commands big bucks in collectors circles. The print I viewed was sourced from the Australian VHS tape on the Palace Explosive Video label. Not Rated. UPDATE: It turns out this isn't Renee Harmon's last film! In 1990, she and notorious badfilm director James Bryan (LADY STREET FIGHTER - 1978) teamed up to make the SOV flick JUNGLE TRAP, about ghosts decapitating people in a jungle hotel, which went unfinished for almost 30 years. My friends at Bleeding Skull made a deal with Bryan, edited and painstakingly scored the film with new music (but they made sure it had the right '80s SOV feel) and released it on DVD and VHS. Look for a review shortly. Bleeding Skull has been doing a lot of good in discovering films that are basically unknown and giving them new life, creating the non-profit American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) and giving these films a proper release on Home Video, many for the first time in the U.S. (like SOULTANGLER - 1987). Support Joseph A. Ziemba, Tim League, Zack Carlson & Dan Budnick (who got his start here as a writer for my long-forgotten zine) and purchase one of their films. Go to their web site at the link I supplied and keep the nostalgia alive!

EVIL EYE (1975) - Here's a film (an Italian/Spanish co-production) that's quite schizophrenic; it can't make up its mind what kind of film it wants to be and it suffers because it. But it contains enough weirdness to hold your attention throughout in spite of itself. So let's get to the film.
     The film opens with some sort of satanic ritual being performed, as a coven of black-robed cultist place candles around a large white triangle on the ground. At the sharpest point of the triangle lays a photo of Peter Crane (Jorge Rivero; KILLING MACHINE - 1984), as the red-robed leader of the cult enters the triangle and makes the sign of the triangle with both his hands, framing the image of Peter in the center of his makeshift hand triangle while muttering something evil. We then see Peter having a nightmare (?) where naked people are staring and pointing at him while a naked man gets in his face. The phone then rings, waking Peter up. It's his girlfriend, model Tanya (Pia Giancaro; THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES - 1972), and she reminds him that they have a fashion show to go to that day. Peter realizes that his house is full of guests from a party he threw the night before, so he goes to his butler Walter (Eduardo Fajardo; KNIFE OF ICE - 1972) and tells him to get rid of them. Peter finds friend Robby Gifford (Luis La Torre) in his shower and tells him about his nightmare, which he can't get out of his head. Robby makes a joke about how it was probably the alcohol he consumed last night that led to the nightmare, but Peter is not amused, telling him it all seemed so real.
     Peter goes to the fashion show with Tanya and meets mysterious French woman Yvonne Chevrel (Lone Fleming; THE FOURTH VICTIM - 1971). When he tells Yvonne his full name, she tells him she had a nightmare last night that was strangely similar to Peter's, only in her nightmare someone told her that "Peter Crane" would murder her. Peter is not amused and thinks Robby is playing a practical joke on him, so he calls Robby and interrupts his poker game. Robby, who isn't happy about the interruption (he is a degenerate gambler and he is losing money), tells Peter he has no idea what he is talking about, he never heard of Yvonne Chevrel and he told no one about his nightmare. Peter thinks someone is playing a "dirty trick" on him, but we know this is the work of a cult of Satanists. But why are they targeting Peter?
     A short time later, Yvonne meets Peter by his car and tells him that she is scared, the nightmare isn't going away and she is having it even in her waking moments (Peter has the same thing happening to him). Peter assures her that he has no plans of doing her any harm, especially murder, and invites her to his house for a drink, which she accepts. At his house, Yvonne tells Peter that her husband is recently deceased, so they, of course, kiss and then make love. While they are going at it hot and heavy, Peter has a waking nightmare (?) and is compelled to kill Yvonne, so he strangles her with his bare hands, finishing her off by ripping out her throat. Peter wakes up the following morning in his bed, but Yvonne is nowhere to be found. He looks for Walter and finds him washing Peter's car. He asks Walter if he cleaned the living room and he tells Peter no, he hasn't had the time, his car was extremely dirty, so he decided to wash it first. Not understanding what is going on and thinking it may be a medical problem, Peter calls his deceased father's closest friend, Dr, Stone (Richard Conte; THE POSSESSOR - 1975), and makes an appointment to see him. In his office, Peter tells Dr. Stone and his pretty colleague, Dr. Sarah Turner (Pilar Velasquez; THE FLOWER WITH THE DEADLY STING - 1973), about the nightmare he has been having and they both assure him that there is nothing wrong with him, all he has to do to clear everything up is to talk to Yvonne.
     That is going to be extremely difficult, because we then see Police Inspector Ranieri (Anthony Steffen; THE STRANGER'S GUNDOWN - 1969) and his unnamed partner (Alvaro de Luna; COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE - 1972) in the morgue looking at Yvonne's dead body (with her throat ripped open), saying it will be difficult to find who killed her since she was found floating in the river, the evidence of the killer's identity being washed away. We then see Peter and Tanya brushing their teeth while taking a shower together (!), when Peter gets a phone call from a mysterious man, who tells him that he saw Peter kill Yvonne and to get a lot of money together, then hangs up. Peter tells Tanya that he needs to be alone for a while and drives off in his car. His car breaks down (?) next to a mysterious house and Peter asks an old woman if he can use her phone to call a tow truck. The house belongs to Derek Stevens (Luciano Pigozzi, a.k.a. "Alan Collins"; THE DEVIL WITH SEVEN FACES - 1971) and his wife Elizabeth (Daniela Giordano; GIRL IN ROOM 2A - 1973), who tell Peter that they met a long time ago, but Peter doesn't remember them. When Peter goes to use the phone, he finds the phone is dead, so Derek goes outside to look at his car, leaving Peter alone with Elizabeth. She tries to hit on Peter, but he tells her he has no memory of her. He notices a photo of the old women and Elizabeth tells him it is her aunt...who died two years ago! Something compels Peter to kill Elizabeth, so he strangles her with his bare hands, ripping out her throat. When Derek hears his wife's screams, he enters the house and Peter kills him in the same way. It is obvious that Peter is being possessed by someone or something, but why?
     Peter locks himself in his bedroom and tells Walter he doesn't want to see anyone. Dr. Stone pays him a visit (brushing off Walter's warnings) and wants to know the truth about what is happening to him, but Peter says he doesn't know. Dr. Stone tells Peter that he needs to run tests on him, so Peter goes to Dr. Stone's clinic for head x-rays and other tests. Dr. Stone can find nothing medically wrong with Peter, but he tells him and Tanya that Peter must stay in his clinic for at least a week for observation. The Inspector and his partner arrive at Derek's house, where they find the bodies of Derek and Elizabeth inside the house and the body of the old woman on the property. The Inspector is stumped as to who the murderer may be, but his wife, Sonja (Eva Vanicek), who is painting his portrait, tells him that it is obvious that "evil spirits" are to blame for the murders, but the Inspector tells her to stop being ridiculous, there are no such things as evil spirits and even there were, he can't arrest evil spirits. The Inspector may not believe in the supernatural, but the supernatural believes in him and will play an important part in what he does next.
     While staying in the clinic, Peter hits on Sarah and she is receptive, agreeing to go out to dinner with him, even though he is still her patient (as they leave the clinic, all the smoked cigarettes in Peter's ashtray begin to twirl and ignite on their own). Sarah, of course, falls for Peter's charms and they make love that night. He even manages not to kill her. When Peter gets back to the clinic, there's a letter waiting for him that reads, "You're just wasting your time. No doctor on earth can cure you of being a killer." Of course, the letter is unsigned. That night, Peter has the nightmare again while sleeping in his clinic room and when he wakes up, it feels like his head is exploding. Peter tells Dr. Stone to lock him up somewhere where he can't escape because he believes he is being possessed by evil spirits and if he is locked up, the evil spirits will realize that they can no longer make him kill and will leave him alone. Dr. Stone plays along, locking Peter up in a padded cell reserved for violent mental patients. A couple of days later, Dr. Stone discovers that Peter has escaped his padded cell by hitting on a pretty young nurse (!), so he calls the police because he believes Peter is dangerous. We then see a possessed Peter going to his house, where he discovers Robby is throwing one of his decadent parties (we discover Robby is actually Peter's uncle and his past is not so squeaky clean, as he may be responsible for the death of Peter's father). Peter then strangles Robby, ripping his throat out. The Inspector and his partner arrive at the clinic and Dr. Stone tells them everything, but it is obvious that there is something very wrong with the Inspector, as he begins to act exactly like Peter. He walks down a road in the middle of the night in a trance, as a bus pulls beside him, slowing down to pick him up. When he refuses to acknowledge the bus, it pulls away, kicking up a rock that nearly beans him on the head, snapping him out of the trance. Are the evil spirits trying to kill him?
     The next morning, Peter goes back to his house, where he discovers Walter and his wife (Terele Pavez, simply listed in the credits as "Terele") sleeping in his bed. When Peter confronts them, Walter tells him it was he who made the phone call and sent him the letter, saying he saw him kill Yvonne and next time he kills someone, make sure the blinds on his windows are drawn. Walter then blackmails him for a large sum of money, laughing in Peter's face like some bourgeois swine. Peter runs out of his house and goes to Sarah's apartment, where she tells him to stay put until she talks to Dr. Stone. Sarah talks to Dr. Stone, who agrees to cancel his report to the police against Peter (Can he do that?). While Sarah drives Peter to her place in the country, believing all he needs is plenty of rest and relaxation, we see the evil spirits are not too pleased with Walter and his wife. The spirits possess Walter and he kills his wife, bashing her on the head until it is a bloody pulp. When the Inspector arrives at Peter's house, he sees Walter puking-up a frog (!) and we watch as a rifle falls off a shelf and fires, hitting Walter in the neck, killing him. The Inspector then goes to Dr. Stone's office and demands to know the truth. Dr. Stone just sits in his chair and stares at him not saying a word. The Inspector's partner informs him that Sarah has a house in the country, so they hop in a car and drive off. On their way to the country house, their car mysteriously breaks down and the Inspector makes a veiled remark that the breakdown is not accidental, Does he now believe in the supernatural? We may never know, as the film ends on a WTF?!? note.
     This ridiculous piece of fluff can't make up its mind what kind of film it wants to be, a horror flick or a crime thriller and it suffers because of it. Director Mario Siciliano (TASTE OF VENGEANCE - 1969; SKIN 'EM ALIVE - 1978; ROLF - 1983) has no idea how to end this film, as we see Peter and Sarah perish when the car they are in goes over a cliff and we then hear Peter say, "Let's go back to the beginning" and the film ends as it began, with Peter picking up the phone after having the nightmare! WTF?!? It makes absolutely no sense, trying to feed us a line of bullshit that Peter is cursed to repeat this nightmare again and again for all eternity, offering us no reason why Peter is cursed to do so. All it really shows us is that screenwriters Siciliano, Federico De Urrutia (THE RELENTLESS FOUR - 1965) and Julio Buchs (director of MURDER BY MUSIC - 1969; director/co-writer [with Urrutia] of A BULLET FOR SANDOVAL - 1969) has no idea how to end the film properly, as they painted themselves into a corner with the "anything goes" story. That's not to say that there's nothing to enjoy here, as there are plenty of weird visuals to keep our eyes, if not our brains, occupied, such as plenty of female nudity, a couple of very gory kills, frog puking, decapitation by train (well, not exactly a decapitation, but the top of a head being sliced off by the train's wheels), the strange way Walter is shot in the neck and other weirdness. It's not the worst film I have seen by a long shot, but it certainly could have been much better, especially when it comes to Inspector Ranieri. His part in the film just ends abruptly, leaving us to wonder if he is possessed or if he is only just pissed-off. We also have no idea why the satanic cult targeted Peter. Was it because he was a womanizer or because he was rich? And what about Dr. Stone's final scene? He just stares at the Inspector intently, looking like the Devil himself. Is he supposed to be Satan? That's the problem with the entire film. Major plot points are just dropped with no explanation and many of the scenes just happen with no connective tissue to the previous scene, leaving the viewer confused and puzzled. If that was what they were going for, they succeeded, but I seriously doubt that was their intention. I cannot recommend this film, even though it does contain some good scary scenes. But scares without story amounts to nothing, so proceed at your own risk. I will say this: Composer Stelvio Cipriani's (A BAY OF BLOOD - 1971; and countless others) music score is memorable; you'll be humming the main theme for weeks to come.
     Shot as MALOCCHIO (a literal translation of the review title) and then retitled EROTICOFOLLIA ("Erotic Madness"), this film received neither a theatrical or legitimate VHS release in the United States, first appearing on these shores as part of a double feature DVD, with the film BLACK CANDLES (1982), from Deimos Entertainment (long OOP). You can pick up a DVD-R of it on Amazon from "Mr. FAT-W" (Films Around The World) for about $10.00, but I saw a fairly nice anamorphic widescreen print for free on streaming channel FREE HORROR CHANNEL (under the category "Assorted Screams"), but you can only receive the channel on a Roku player, no other streaming device. No Blu-Ray at the time of this review. Also featuring Floria Marrone. Not Rated, but full of nudity and bits of gore.

EVILSPEAK (1981) - "And Satan said to the Man of God...'What would you do tomorrow if you allowed me to die today? What vocation would you pursue if my name disappeared?' Kahlil Gibran." So begins this early-80's minor masterpiece of revenge and retribution that is only hampered from becoming more popular today by the ancient computer technology on view (Me? I have no problem with it because I lived and used every generation of home computer technology, but kids, teens and even people in their 20's wouldn't understand that home computers had to start somewhere. I remember when having an IBM computer with 528 KB of memory was a big deal, DOS was THE operating system and 5.25" floppy disks were the only way of saving information!). After the obscure quotation, the film starts in the Middle Ages, where a defrocked priest named Father Lorenzo Esteban (Richard Moll; SATAN'S SUPPER - 1980) is banished from Spain, along with his followers, by a Bishop for practicing Satanism and desecrating the Holy Church. Father Esteban holds a Satanic Bible (with a jewel-encrusted pentagram on the cover) and a demonic sword in his hands, as he and his followers walk down the beach and Father Esteban stops and draws a pentagram in the sand with the sword. At a makeshift altar (along with a large upside-down wooden crucifix planted in the sand), he performs a Satanic ritual, where he strips a young woman topless, beheads her with his sword and then (with a nice editing trick) her flying head turns into a soccer ball, as we are transported to 1981, where we watch the West Andover Military Academy lose a soccer game to another military school, thanks to the non-athletic abilities of nerdy West Andover Military cadet Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard; ICE CREAM MAN - 1994; who I always thought was the most talented member of the Howard clan, which includes brother Ron and father Rance, but they all have their own special talents). Stanley is always being picked on because of his appearance, especially by fellow cadet Bubba (THAT 70'S SHOW's Don Stark) and his clique, who are tired of losing soccer games and nickname Stanley "Cooperdick". The Coach of the soccer team (Claude Earl Jones; DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW - 1981) yells out in the locker room that Academy rules state that every cadet gets equal tyime to play, but he pulls Bubba aside and infers that if Stanley were to get injured or banned somehow, he wouldn't have to play him. For some reason, Stanley is on "punishment duty" (probably because he was set-up by Bubba and his gang) and is tasked to clean out the basement of the Academy's chapel, where a huge portrait of Father Esteban hangs at the entrance to the chapel. The always-drunk and over-the-hill Sarge (the late, great R.G. Armstrong; THE BEAST WITHIN - 1982), who works as the Academy's handyman. lives in the chapel's basement and dislikes Stanley, too. While Stanley is cleaning out the basement, Reverend Jameson (Joseph Cortese; the mini-series and short-lived TV series SOMETHING IS OUT THERE [1988 - 1989]) is gladhanding the Academy's major financial contributor Mrs. Cauldwell (Sue Casey), the wife of a Senator and Bubba's mother, telling her the history of Father Esteban (I'm still flummoxed as to why his portrait hangs in the chapel when the Reverend knows about his evil past). Stanley discovers some loose bricks in one of the walls of the chapel's basement and when he pulls all the bricks away, he finds a secret chamber full of old Satanic books and Father Esteban's Satanic Bible (along with a baby fetus in a glass jar!). He takes the Bible with him and then, that night, has a nightmare of the baby in the jar coming to life. Bubba and his gang keep harrassing Stanley, even making fun of his parents' deaths in a car crash, telling him that maybe the "Welfare lady" will come to see him on visiting day, making Stanley's life a living hell. The only friends Stanley has at the Academy are fellow black cadet Kowalski (Heywood Nelson; the TV series WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW!! [1985 - 1988]) and head cook Jake (Lenny Montana; BLOOD SONG - 1982), who think that Stanley deserves better treatment than he is getting and protect him the best they can. The one real positive thing Stanley has going for him is that he is a computer wiz and begins to translate Father Esteban's Spanish Satanic Bible into a computer. One morning, Stanley wakes up only to find his alarm clock has been unplugged and his clothes have been tied together in tight knots, making him late for a class being taught by Mr. Hauptman (Hamilton Camp, who acts like he is playing a German officer on an episode of HOGAN'S HEROES [1965 - 1971]). Hauptman sends Stanley to cruel Academy head Colonel Kincaid (Charles Tyner; THE LONGEST YARD - 1974), who whips Stanley on his ass and then sends him on more "punishment duty" to feed the Academy's boars their slop and to clean out their pens (I guess they use them to make bacon and pork chops, but these are nothing like regular pink pigs by any stretch of the imagination). Stanley accidentally leaves the Satanic Bible behind and Colonel Kincaid's secretary, Miss Friedemeyer (Lynn Hancock), tries to pry the jewel-encrusted pentagran off the cover (unsuccessfully) and suddenly the boars go crazy and try to kill Stanley. When Stanley returns to Kincaid's office, he asks Miss Friedemeyer if she has seen his book and she lies and says no. Jake takes pity on Stanley when he shows up late for dinner and cooks him a nice steak meal. Jake shows him a litter of puppies he is hiding and one is sickly and Jake says he probably isn't going to make it. Stanley begs him to let him have the sickly puppy (which he names "Freddie"), keeps him in the secret room in the chapel basement and nurses him back to health (along with Jake, who gives Stanley scraps left over from dinner to feed to Freddie). Stanley begins to perform Satanic rituals in the secret room with his computer as his altar, but nothing happens because it says on the computer screen that it needs a blood sacrifice (and, no, Stanley never considers using Freddie for such things since he really loves the puppy). Stanley mistakenly thinks it works because when he leaves the secret room, he is attacked by a group wearing pig masks and robes and Stanley accidentally knocks himself out by banging his head against a wall, not seeing that it was actually Bubba and his clique playing another practical joke on him. When the drunk Sarge discovers that Stanley borrowed his crowbar without his permission and that he is keeping a puppy in the basement, he threatens to kill Freddie and rape Stanley, but a big red pentagram appears on the computer screen emblazened with the name "ESTEBAN" across it and Sarge's head suddenly makes a 180° turn (it's quite the sight) and he dies. Next up is Miss Friedemeyer, who is taking a shower (unenhanced boob alert!) when she hears a noise at her bathroom door. She opens the door, only to discover a pack of hungry boars waiting for her. They push her into the bathtub and chow down, pulling her intestines out like sausage (it's quick, but you can see it). Hey kids, see what happens when you lie? The Satanic Bible, which is in her bedroom, then vanishes and reappears in the secret room next to Stanley's computer. Stanley hides Sarge's body, just in time to join Kowalski at the "Miss Heavy Artillary" beauty pagent, where young women in skimpy bathing suits parade around the cadets with the lecherous Coach as the Master of Ceremonies. Remember when Coach told Bubba to put Stanley out of commission so he doesn't play in the next soccer game? Well, now is the time, as Bubba and his followers depants Stanley (in front of all the girls) and then threaten Stanley to turn Freddie into sausage if he plays in the next game. It all really doesn't matter much when a pantless Stanley is discovered by Colonel Kincaid and permanently kicks him off the soccer team for unbecoming behavior of a cadet. A drunk Bubba and his gang bring the girls down to the chapel's basement, where they discover the secret room along with the words "blood sacrifice" on the computer screen. The callous Bubba kills and slices up Freddie with a knife, but nothing happens because the computer screen now says it needs to be human blood. When Stanley discovers that Bubba and his sadistic gang have killed his furry friend, Stanley goes into full Satanic mode to exact revenge. Everyone at the Academy go to the chapel to pray for a win at tomorrow's soccer game, while Hauptman looks for Stanley and Sarge in the basement (Stanley is typing more verses from the Satanic Bible into his computer). When Hauptman sees Stanley and says, "What in the Devil do you think you are doing?" (talk about irony!), Stanley gets superhuman powers and throws Hauptman up in the air, impaling him on a large round wooden object with spikes hanging from the ceiling and collects his blood in a chalice. He now has his blood sacrifice and all Hell then literally begins to break loose as he invokes Satan's name and, for a few moments, Stanley's face turns into Father Esteban's. While Reverend Jameson blesses the soccer team and gives his usual long-winded sermon (this one filled with many groan-inducing references to soccer), one of the spikes from the statue of Christ Crucified on the Cross comes loose, flies through the air and impales the Reverend squarely in the forehead. Everyone runs for the exit to no avail (the doors won't open), as the church catches on fire, a hole opens in the chapel's floor, Stanley comes through it floating in the air carrying Father Esteban's sword and the pack of hungry boars follow him. Stanley cleaves Colonel Kincaid's head in two. The boars start chewing on the cadets (the lucky ones catch on fire and burn to death). Stanley decapitates one of Bubba's cadet colleagues, as well as Coach, while the boars take care of everyone else (In one scene, a cadet crawls into a ventiation shaft followed by a boar. We then see a dismembered human arm fly out of the shaft.). Bubba locks himself in the rectory, but a boar breaks a hole in the door and takes a bite out of his shoulder. Bubba makes it down to the basement, but a reanimated Sarge grabs him by the neck, lifts him off the floor and rips out his heart with his bare hands. The film ends with the following coda: "Suffering from shock and catatonic withdrawal, attributed to having witnessed the fiery death of his dear friends and teachers, Stanley Coopersmith, sole survivor of the tragic accident at West Andover Academy Chapel, was admitted to Sunnyside Asylum. He remains there still." Stanley's computer reads, "I, Stanley Coopersmith, will return. I WILL RETURN!" Too bad that there never was a sequel.  This is a great little slice of early-80's horror and gore, thanks to director/co-writer/co-producer Eric Weston, who also directed such films as THE IRON TRIANGLE (1989), the above-average police actioner TO PROTECT AND SERVE (1992) and the so-so horror film HYENAS (2010), among others. He also produced TREASURE OF THE MOON GODDESS (1987), wrote the screenplay to MERCHANTS OF WAR (1988) and acted in the still unreleased-to-video THE FARMER (1977; C'mon Walter Olsen, release it already!). He still remains active in the business today (or at least when this review was written in September 2015). This is the Unrated version of the film, as the MPAA originally slapped it with an X-Rating until many edits were made. Once you watch this version, you will know why. Weston and Executive Producer Silvio Tabet have gone on record to state that there is even more gore missing from the Unrated version, but the footage seems to be lost, as they cut it out before it was even submitted to the MPAA (The same thing was said about MY BLOODY VALENTINE [1981], but the missing footage was eventually discovered and released on DVD.). Clint Howard shows the right amount of frustration as the much put-upon Stanley, putting on a brave happy face for all his trials and trevails yet, for all the bad things that are done to him, it is the death of his puppy Freddie that really sets him off (I would feel the same way, too). The music score, by Roger Kellaway, adds the right amount of creepiness, as it is full of chanting and choir music which enhances many of the scenes. Besides some hoary optical and then state-of-the-art computer effects, the practical make-up effects (by Alan A. Apone, who later did the effects for NEON MANIACS - 1985) are bloody and well done (Charles Tyner's death is a stand-out). Originally released on VHS by CBS/Fox Video in the theatrical R-Rated cut. Anchor Bay released the Unrated version on DVD, with  a DVD & Blu-Ray of the Unrated version (the Blu-Ray was released jointly between Shout! Factory and Code Red) a few years later. This review is based on the Blu-Ray, which looks gorgeous (it was taken from a new high-def master supervised by Eric Weston) and is so sharp, you can actually make out that the beheading of the girl in the beginning and Claude Earl Jones' decapitation are obvious dummies. All-on-all, a nice little time capsule of early-80's horror full of great character actors. Also starring Louie Gravance, Jim Greenleaf, Loren Lester, Leonard D'John (all as Bubba's clique), Kathy McCullen, Bennett Liss, Katherine Kelly Lang and Robert Tafur. A Shout! Factory/Code Red Blu-Ray Release. Unrated.

THE EXECUTIONER PART II (1983) & FROZEN SCREAM (1981) - Who is Renee Harmon and why is she doing this to me? Out of all the films reviewed in this web site, these two are the absolute worst. The only constant between the two films is producer, screenwriter (story credit on FROZEN) and star Renee Harmon. Even though the storylines (if you could call them that) are completely different, both films are strikingly similar in so many aspects that Ms. Harmon has to take the majority of the blame. Both films contain bad post-synch sound (as if they were filmed silent), chainsaw editing that leaves the viewer both confused and disoriented, plenty of voiceover narration (spoken by the same person in both films) and the ever-present Ms. Harmon, who with her thick German accent, sounds like Dr. Ruth if she were to go to Nazi training school. Harmon speaks every line as if she were saying, "Ve have vays of making you talk!"  THE EXECUTIONER PART II is definitely the worst action flick your eyes will ever catch sight of with its poorly staged action scenes and disbelief-inducing plot. It's all about a Vietnam vet who kills criminals vigilante style and a cop (Chris Mitchum) and TV reporter (Harmon) who try to stop him. Try to make sense of the story if you can. I sure as hell couldn't. Many of the scenes are unconnected which leads to mucho confusion. To add insult to injury, there never was an EXECUTIONER PART 1 (thank God!) and was probably given that title to dupe an uneducated audience into believing it was a sequel to the then popular film THE EXTERMINATOR (1980) starring Robert Ginty. This proves how important it is to stay in school. This is unfortunately not director James Bryan's only film. He also directed the bloody but bad DON'T GO IN THE WOODS (1981; which LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT actor Vincent D'Onofrio turned into a musical horror film in 2009!!!) and the just plain bad HELL RIDERS (1984), which also starred Harmon. FROZEN SCREAM is an excreable horror flick (co-written by Michael Sonye, who also wrote the script to BLOOD DINER - 1987) about a doctor and his assistant (Harmon) who create a small army of zombies by attaching a device to victims' necks and freezing them. The zombies are then sent out to collect more bodies and to capture a girl (Lynne Kocol) who is getting close to discovering the truth. In comparison, FROZEN SCREAM makes Ted V. Mikel's ASTRO ZOMBIES (1968) look absolutely professional. Director Frank Roach also made the bad biker flick NOMAD RIDERS (1981). Renee Harmon can also be seen (and heard, dammit!) in LADY STREET FIGHTER (1978 - also directed by Bryan) and one of the worst films of all time, NIGHT OF TERROR (a.k.a. ESCAPE FROM THE INSANE ASYLUM - 1986, which "borrows" footage from FROZEN SCREAM). The now-defunct Continental Video label issued THE EXECUTIONER PART II and FROZEN SCREAM as a double feature on one cassette, both features edited to 75 minutes so they could fit on a T-150 tape (which only makes both films seem even more fragmented then they originally were!). You may find it for rent in some of the older video stores or for sale on eBay or other on-line auction sites.. I dare you to watch them both in one sitting. Both films are Rated R. Also available as a double feature DVD (both in their full versions; 11 minutes longer on the first film, 5 minutes longer on the second film) by Vinegar Syndrome.

EXTRA TERRESTRIAL VISITORS (1983) - Most people know this film under the title POD PEOPLE, thanks to the comic drubbing it took on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 (in one of their funniest episodes). While that edition is a comic delight, it doesn't hold a candle to the experience you'll have watching this, the theatrical release version. The film opens with three poachers driving to the forest to pilfer nightingale eggs (!) out of a tree (One poacher says to another, "Go get that ladder!" and he replies, "OK, OK! Heil Hitler!"). As they are stealing the eggs, one of the poachers spots a bright light in the sky and watches it crash into the forest. Also witnessing the crash is pre-teen Tommy (Oscar Martin), who watches the bright light decend to Earth through his telescope. The poacher leaves his two friends to fend for themselves, steals their truck and drives to the crash site, where he enters a cave and finds hundreds of alien eggs lying on the cave floor. Then something attacks and kills him. Rock star Rick (Ian Serra, who we see performing a terrible pop song in a recording studio, where an obviously gay engineer is wearing an "I'm A Virgin" t-shirt) and his entourage (including a quartet of horny women) hop into an RV and head to this forest for a weekend of rest and relaxation, while Tommy goes to the cave and steals one of the eggs. While Ricky and his friends are sitting around a campfife, Laura (Connie Cheston) goes for a walk in the woods and runs into the two poachers, who chase her (One of the poachers says, "Jesus, that little bitch can run a lot faster than I thought!", to which the other one replies, "Well, you're a jerk!" What?). While Laura is running away, she almost runs into a strange furry beast (we only see it's legs) and she ends up falling down a ravine, seriously injuring herself. Rick and Brian (Emil Linder) rescue the unconscious Laura and bring her back to the RV. Tommy, meanwhile, has hidden the egg from his mother Molly (Susan Blake) and crusty Uncle Bill (Frank Brana) by keeping it under his bed. Just as the egg hatches, Rick and his gang pull up to Molly's house and ask to use the telephone to call for help. The phone is dead (big surprise), so Molly tells them to stay the night because a rock slide has blocked off the only road to civilization. The two poachers (who don't seem too concerned about their missing friend) get paid a visit by an alien while they are sitting next to a campfire (One of them says non-chalantly, "What on Earth is that? Looks like a cross between a pig and a bear." Actually, it looks more like a cross between an elephant and a bear!). After saying, "Be careful, it could be dangerous!" (duh!) and then talking to the alien as if it were just another human being, the two poachers try to capture it ("You think it may be worth something?"), but fail terribly. After they try to subdue the alien (including sneaking up behind it and then shooting it with a crossbow bolt), it slaughters the two poachers. Tommy's pet alien, whom he dubs "Trumpy", grows to adult size in less than four hours, thanks to Tommy feeding it saucers of milk and a jar of Planter's peanuts (I guess Reese's Pieces weren't available). What Tommy doesn't know is that Trumpy is able to shoot death rays out of it's eyes! Bill and Brian hop in Bill's car to try and find a way out of the forest (after one of the girls says, "What a fuck-up this back-to-nature crap is!"), while Trumpy amazes Tommy with feats of magic and levitation, moving objects around his bedroom (done using stop-motion animation) and making a CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977)-like song play on Tommy's Simon toy (Remember that fun plaything? After ten minutes playing with it, it went on my pile of "Toys To Never Be Played With Again"). Apparently, Laura has died (Bill alludes to it while speaking to Brian in the car) and Tracy (Maria Albert) wants to watch DALLAS (1978 - 1991) on TV because, "Seeing other people's problems makes me forget mine." Bill and Brian drive to a Forest Rangers cabin, where Brian is attacked and killed by the rogue alien. Trumpy escapes from Tommy's bedroom, while Rick and girlfriend Sharon (Nina Ferrer) worry why Brian and Bill haven't returned (Rick says, "Bill's as thick as two planks!"). Tommy spies Trumpy killing Tracy in the RV through his telescope, as an injured Bill returns and gets off a shot at Trumpy with his shotgun, but misses. Rick is getting antsy and wants to leave (He says, "I ain't hanging about to find out who's next for the chop!"), but Bill and Molly talk him out of it (by simply stating, "It's getting dark outside!"). Trumpy returns and tells Tommy that he didn't kill Tracy, his brother did (!), so Tommy disguises Trumpy (by putting a monk's robe on him!) and Trumpy spies on Kathy (Sarah Palmer) while she takes a shower, scaring the shit out of her. Tommy finally tells everyone about Trumpy and the other alien's existence ("They just want to be your friend, but nobody will let them!"), so they try to kill Trumpy! Tommy and Trumpy escape into the forest, with everyone close behind, guns in hand. Bill gets killed by the other alien and Rick then kills it witha couple of rifle shots (the ground opens up and swallows the dead alien!). Tommy, in a bit of false anger, shoos away Trumpy ("Go away, I hate you!") and rejoins his mother and Rick. The last we see Trumpy, he's walking off into the fog-filled forest, all alone. The End. Wow!  This Spanish/French co-production is an obvious rip-off of E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982), but since it was directed by Juan Piquer Simon (PIECES - 1982; SLUGS - 1987; CTHULHU MANSION - 1990), you know you're in for something special and this film delivers it in spades. It's apparent that Simon originally lensed this as a gore film, but post-production editing (against Simon's wishes) cut out all the gore (every time someone is about to get killed, there's an obvious jump-cut) to make it more "family friendly", but they forgot to edit out all the foul language (it's plentiful) and brief nudity (Do the gore inserts exist anymore?). The script, by Simon and Joaquin Grau (who has his name Anglicized to "Jack Gray") is just one non-stop piece of unbelievable dialogue after another and I was laughing until I had tears in my eyes (I had to rewind a few times, just to make sure I heard correctly!), due to the absurdity of it all. This film didn't need the MST3000 treatment, because the acting, dialogue and strange situations (there's so many scenes where day and night are in the same scene, due to frequent editing errors, the timeline in this film is like some surreal fairytale) all lend itself to self-parody. Trumpy and his ilk are a marvel of bad make-up effects. They look like someone took a dwarf, slapped a miniature bear costume on him and then put a modified elephant mask on his head. I haven't seen a costume this bad since ROBOT MONSTER (1953). The scene where Trumpy magically moves everything around in Tommy's bedroom is a marvel of low-tech special effects and I nearly coughed-up a lung when Trumpy transformed Tommy's telescope so that, when he looked through it, he saw stock footage of elephants in Africa (maybe a distant relative?). This is now one of my favorite badfilms of all time and it should be one of your's, too. To sum it up: Try to find the non-MST3000 version and enjoy it on it's own twisted merits. You won't be sorry. Executive Producer Dick Randall added some scenes from Don Dohler's GALAXY INVADER (1985) to the beginning of this film for THE POD PEOPLE version of this film. Don't ask me why. EXTRA TERRESTRIAL VISITORS is also known as THE RETURN OF E.T. (paging Mr. Spielberg!), THE UNEARTHLING and TALES OF TRUMPY. Also starring William Anton, Frank Suzman, Gary Richardson, Hugo Astral and Mark Treving. The print I viewed was sourced from a Spanish-subtitled VHS tape that was dupey, but watchable. Available on Mill Creek Entertainment's SCI-FI INVASION 50 MOVIE DVD Compilation. Not Rated.

FATAL FRAMES (1996) - I wanted to watch this film, if only to see if it was as bad as other reviewers made it out to be. It's bad, alright, but it is so bad that it has a goofy charm to it, like director Al Festa had a bad case of explosive diarrhea, shat it out and filmed it. While basically an overlong (125 minutes) music video vanity production for Festa's wife, singer Stefania Stella (who plays herself, badly, I might add), this film does contain some very graphic violence, nudity and other horror elements, but Festa, who was a film composer by trade (supplying the scores to ROBOWAR [1988], COP GAME [1988] and ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH [1988; apparently 1988 was a good year for him!], just to mention a few), is a better composer than he is a director, as he picks the worst angles to film a scene and makes many other mistakes even a novice director wouldn't commit (this was his second film). But as a love letter to his wife, this film works, not for the viewer, but for Stefania. It should also be noted that this was the last or near-to-last film for some of the best Italian and English genre actors, including Donald Pleasence (THE DEVIL'S MEN - 1976), Rossano Brazzi (FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS - 1973), Geoffrey Copleston (EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS - 1977), Ciccio Ingrassia (HOW WE ROBBED THE BANK OF ITALY - 1966) and David Warbeck (THE BEYOND - 1981). Some would say this film was cursed, but I would rather think that it was cursed for a different reason; not cursed to kill, but cursed to appear in crap like this, wishing that you were dead instead and that wish being granted!
     The film opens with some black and white footage showing a grandfather making his grandson watch an 8mm reel of film showing a tied-up, naked black woman being sliced open and then the footage turns to color, showing a faceless killer in a big floppy black hat slicing up a woman in a neon-lit alley with a machete, finishing her off by chopping off her head and then videotaping the bloody carnage he inflicted (Festa's way of contrasting the past [black & white; movie projector] with the present [vivid color; video camera]). We are then shown one of Stefania's music videos, where she walks around in thong panties and a bra singing "Hey, hey, ah ah" (dig those lyrics!). Music video director Alex Ritt (Rick Gianasi; THE OCCULTIST - 1988) is talking to Stefania's agent and fiancé Daniel Antonucci (Leo Daniel), who offers Alex $100,000 for ten days work to direct a music video to Stefania's newest hit "Eternal City" (hopefully, the lyrics are more involving!). Alex accepts the offer and flies to Italy for the shoot. It couldn't have come soon enough, because a short time earlier, Alex tells Daniel he witnessed his girlfriend's brutal murder in his apartment, showing Daniel that the rug he is standing on contains the blood of his girlfriend's murder, telling Daniel that is all he has left of her! Once in Italy, the strange stuff happens immediately, but is it any stranger than keeping a rug containing your girlfriend's blood?!? As Alex and Daniel are leaving the airport, a beggar (Omero Capanna; HEARTS AND ARMOUR - 1983) asks Alex for some money, but when he touches Alex's hand, he gives him back the money, telling Alex (in Italian) that he is cursed and now he is, too. Alex meets Stefania at her limo, telling her that he enjoyed her last video because she has a "European look" (she is Italian, after all!) and Stefania rambles on (in stilted English; she's a terrible actress), spouting some New Age mumbo jumbo.
     Alex then meets ballet dancer Rebecca (Veronica Logan), a background dancer in the upcoming music video, and when Alex discovers that she is from Virginia, a romance blooms. When Alex goes to meet Rebecca for dinner, he spots her on a fog-shrouded street (fog machines around every corner) and she tells him to run away, so he runs toward her instead, watching as the faceless killer in the floppy black hat slices her with his machete, finishing her off by planting the machete in her face. The killer then videotapes the aftermath of his kill, as Alex flags down the police. Instead of listening to Alex, they handcuff him and when he takes them to the location where Rebecca was killed, nothing is there, not even a single drop of blood. Police Commissioner Bonelli (David Warbeck; FORMULA FOR A MURDER - 1985) tells Alex it was probably a practical joke, even when Daniel tells him he can't find Rebecca. The police find a videotape at a phone booth after getting an anonymous phone call and it shows Rebecca's sliced-up corpse, so Alex becomes the prime suspect and the police watch him closely. Alex is visited at the music video shoot (yes, he is still the director!) by Bonelli, who wants to know why he didn't tell him that Rebecca's death was videotaped and he tells the Commissioner that he didn't see anyone videotaping her murder. This just makes Alex look guiltier in Bonelli's eyes, since he is well versed in using a camera (Hell, anyone can use a video camera, as all those dreary found-footage films taught us!).
     Parts of the music video are being filmed at a creepy mansion owned and occupied by the even creepier Countess Alessandra Mirafiori (Alida Valli; KILLER NUN - 1978), who insists that if they want to use her mansion, her friend, Tamara (Nina Soldano; NIGHT OF THE SHARKS - 1988), a medium, perform a séance. Over Alex's objections, a séance is performed and Tamara is possessed by the spirit of Rebecca, who accuses Alex of killing her. Alex then accuses the Countess and Tamara of framing him and storms out of the mansion. That night, Tamara phones Alex and tells him to meet her and when he does, you guessed it, he watches as the faceless killer in the floppy black hat (dubbed the "Video Killer" by the press) slices up Tamara with a machete (they must be cheap in Italy!) and watches helplessly as the killer videotapes his latest conquest.
     Meanwhile, Commissioner Bonelli does a deep background search on Alex and discovers his girlfriend back in Virginia was murdered in the same way as the victims in Italy, making Alex even look more guiltier in his eyes. Bonelli hires video forensics expert Dr. Lucidi (Rossano Brazzi; PSYCHOUT FOR MURDER - 1969) to look at the footage of Alex's girlfriend's death (yes, it was videotaped) to see if there are any similarities in that video as there are in the ones in Italy. Dr Lucidi finds remarkable similarities in that death and the ones here. If Alex isn't the killer, is it possible that the killer traveled to Italy to frame Alex? Enquiring minds want to know, but not Alex, who believes someone wants him dead. Dr. Lucidi believes there is a copycat killer on the loose, who kills to get Alex's approval. Alex is contacted by parapsychologist Wendy Williams (Linnea Quigley; NIGHTMARE SISTERS - 1987), who offers to prove to Alex that the séance was a phony, a trick perpetrated by conmen (or, rather, conwomen) to make him look guilty in everyone's eyes, but Alex is not interested (does he want to look guilty to everyone???). Commissioner Bonelli gets a phone call from Mr. Fairbrain (Geoffrey Copleston; THE BLACK CAT - 1981), who says that he is the father of Alex's dead girlfriend, whom we discover wasn't his girlfriend at all, but rather his wife! Mr. Fairbrain tells Bonelli that he is flying to Italy, because he has something important to tell him (How come people in films like this can't tell anyone secrets over the phone? It would sure save them a lot of money for a plane ticket and a hotel!), When Alex starts seeing his dead wife and Rebecca in his nightmares (they both accuse him of killing them), he finally calls Wendy Williams for some help. Things turn from bad to worse for Alex when Bonelli hires FBI profiler Professor Robinson (a badly dubbed Donald Pleasence; VAMPIRE IN VENICE - 1988; in what amounts to an extended cameo), who has hounded Alex for the past two years, believing he killed his wife (Alex says to him in front of Bonelli, "I'll rip off your head and shove it up your ass! Then he (Bonelli) will have something to arrest me for!"). So how does this all turn out? Is Alex the killer (he sure acts like he is)? Since I had to suffer through 125 minutes of drivel, do you think it would be fair for me to tell you? Shouldn't you suffer too?
     Besides being atrociously acted by Stefania Stella (SICK-O-PATHICS - 1996) and Rick Gianasi (To be fair, Gianasi tries, but he is put in situations so impossible, even the greatest actor in the world would look bad), there are too many damn characters to keep track of. It's like director Al Festa painted himself into a corner, as for every character he adds to the plot adds ten minutes to its running time, trying to explain why they are there. Donald Pleasence leaves the film quite unexpectedly (he died during production), phoning Bonelli and telling him that he has to go back to America, because an old Halloween case has been reopened! We then see an obvious stand-in walking away at the airport, as the theme from HALLOWEEN (1978) plays on the soundtrack! (Edited out of most prints for legal reasons, but not the one I viewed.) The late Angus Scrimm (PHANTASM - 1979) makes an appearance as a crazy person, who grabs Alex, says something incomprehensible and then disappears for the rest of the film. It is rather obvious that Festa was trying to cram the film with as many horror film stars as he could find, thinking quantity would overcome quality, but he was sadly mistaken. Even the music performed by Stefania Stella is second rate, making you wonder why she is so popular in Italy (was she really?). Like I said earlier, this is nothing but a vanity production used to boost the ego of Festa's wife, but you will soon wonder what happened to her, since she hasn't been in any entertainment news...ever. While the violence is graphic and bloody (lots of sliced skin and flying body parts), they are few and far between. All we really have is a plot that goes off the rails rather quickly and never recovers. I am sure a controlled substance or plenty of booze (or both) will make this film seem better than it actually is, but I gave up both a long time ago, so I had to suffer through all 125 minutes of it, Unless you want to see Linnea Quigley running with a machete planted in her neck, I would advise you to avoid this film at all costs, even if it is offered to you for free. The things I do for my readers.
     Shot as FATAL FRAMES - FOTOGRAMMI MORTALI ("Fatal Frames - Deadly Frames") and also known as SUSPIRIA 2000 in Japan, this film made it's debut in the United States on DVD from Image Entertainment and then on DVD by Synapse Films early in the New Millennium (both are long OOP). I saw a pretty good uncut, widescreen print on YouTube, which has since been pulled for licensing violations. If you must see this, the only way to go is to pay big bucks for the DVD on eBay or you could use the money for psychiatric treatments, because if you really wanna see this, you should have your head examined. Also starring Ugo Pagliani (THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES - 1972) Giorgio Albertazzi (FIVE WOMEN FOR THE KILLER - 1974), Massimo Pittarello (FRANKENSTEIN 2000 - 1992) and Omero Capanna (KILL THE POKER PLAYER - 1972) as the Video Killer. Not Rated. PITY FOR MY READERS DEPT: OK, now I will take pity on you and tell you how this film ends. After all evidence points to Alex being the killer, we discover that Mr. Fairbrain was behind the whole thing, masterminding Stefania into helping him to expose Alex's guilt, because he believes Alex killed his daughter and he wanted to frame him for the murders in Italy (It makes no sense at all!). In the unbelievable finale, all the dead women come back to life, point their fingers at Alex and call him a murderer. Alex finally confesses to killing his wife, saying she was going to leave him and "She didn't have the right to leave me!" He then confesses to killing the other women, calling them "sluts" and "whores" and we then discover that Alex's wife was Stefania's sister! (Turns out that little boy in the black and white opening is Alex, getting the idea for killing women from watching the S&M film with his sadistic grandfather!) Commissioner Bonelli overhears everything and takes a laughing, then crying, Alex away. Yes, it is finally over! Thank me when you leave and please put your beer on the coasters I provided!

THE FORGOTTEN WELLS (1989) - If you thought Sweden was just a country full of beautiful blonde women and really cold winters, here's a film that may change your mind. Then again, maybe it won't. At least it is co-directed by the genius behind THE NINJA MISSION (1984), Sweden's best and bloodiest martial arts film. After we watch a crew of people filming Peter Savage (A.R. Hellquist; one of the Executive Producers) water skiing and parasailing on a lake, we then switch to the Speedo-wearing Mr. Savage and his bikini-clad squeeze Suzy (Eva-Karin Bengtson) enjoying a soak in a hot tub. Savage's boss, Bellamy (Frederick Offrein), enters to tell Savage he has an interesting job for him (we still don't know Savage's profession since the opening of the film is rather vague), but he will wait until tomorrow to tell him (Why not just tell him now? Why, because it will spoil what happens next!). When Bellamy and Suzy leave the room, two guys enter and tell the short, but muscular, Savage not to take the job. When Savage tells them he has no idea what they are talking about (he really doesn't), one of the guys pulls a gun and Savage gets a chance to show off his martial arts skills, throwing both guys into the hot tub. We then switch to "Dr. Forham's Mental Institute", where someone in a black leather overcoat and blue jeans (a wearing a white stocking over their head) frees a patient whose face is bandaged and they both escape. We then find out that Savage is a news reporter (!), as Bradley assigns him and his crew to cover a story about the legend of Shequa Fall, an area that has an old irrigation system containing several deep wells where, twenty years earlier, the government forced the Tanner family to move out after their ten year-old son got lost in the underground tunnel system and was never found. Rumors abound that he is still alive and an "ape creature" has been spotted in the area over the years. In two days, the missing son will be legally declared dead (there's a fortune to be inherited by the surviving family members), so Bellamy wants Savage and his news crew to check out the place and "do what you do best" (Huh?). Savage then gets a call from police Lt. Craig Lammar (Gareth Hunt), who warns Savage not to go to the old Tanner place until he talks to him in person first (He says, "Don't go in there like General Custer. You remember what happened to him?"), a request that Savage immediately ignores. Meanwhile, the bandaged escaped mental patient (who the film is extremely careful not to give a name) goes on a murder spree and heads toward the Tanner place, where Savage and his crew have already arrived. What happens next is a mixture of FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) and Scooby-Doo, as Savage and his crew creep into the tunnels under the Tanner place, while the bandaged psycho knocks them off one-by-one during a torrential thunderstorm and Lt. Lammar, working on orders given by old man Tanner (Taggen Axelson), sends some gun-toting hitmen to the Tanner place to make sure no one makes it out alive. Will Savage survive or will he become the lead story in the headline news?  This mind-boggling combination of horror and mystery, co-directed by Anders Nilsson (FATAL SECRET - 1988; and editor of the ultra-violent WARDOGS - 1986; here using the pseudonym "Andrew Nelson") and Mats Helge (THE NINJA MISSION - 1984; BLOOD TRACKS - 1985; EAGLE ISLAND - 1986), is so brain-fryingly awful that it transcends its cranium-pulverizing putridness and becomes an exercise in unintentional humor that should be seen by all. First off, almost everyone in the cast (except for English actor Gareth Hunt) speaks Swenglish, a combination of English with a Swedish accent that manages to murder the English language (to add insult to injury, Gareth Hunt tries his hand at a southern U.S. accent and fails miserably). Secondly, anyone who actually believes this takes place in the U.S. and that Pete Savage is a respected news reporter should have their heads examined. The mulleted Savage is so short in stature and butchers the English language so badly, I can't imagine any U.S. TV news organization (with the exception of Fox News) who would want him as a reporter, never mind an anchor. Thirdly, Helge's story (he co-wrote the screenplay with Nilsson, Tina Ljung, Tim Earle, Gunnar Trusso, Madeleine Bruze and star Hellquist) is way too complicated for its own good and none of the many aspects of the script, whether it be horror, mystery or revenge actioner, is properly fleshed-out for anyone to give a damn what happens to anyone. Still, you have to love the way the script has Savage lose his shirt numerous times so the audience can watch him beat the snot out of the bad guys with his diminutive muscular naked torso. The violence is rather tame (mainly gun violence, as the bandaged psycho chooses to strangle his victims) and there are only a couple of fleeting shots of topless female nudity, so don't expect the usual Helge bloodbath. You can't beat THE FORGOTTEN WELLS for pure brain damaged entertainment, especially when the bandaged psycho fights the now-grown mutated missing Tanner son in the tunnels. Also starring Adent Cederblad, Camilla Lunden, Eva Anderson and Helen Anderson. Available on Swedish-subtitled DVD on the House Of Horror label under the title JAGAD I UNDERJORDEN. Not Rated.

FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY (2013) - As readers of this site are well aware, I am not a big fan of "found footage" films. I usually find them headache-inducing, cheap and downright lousy, but I'm glad to report that this film defies all those categories and turns this unwelcomed genre on its head, producing a weird, wild and downright entertaining movie that should satisfy all fans of horror films. The first thing that separates it from most films of the found footage genre is that it takes place during World War II, where a platoon of Russian soldiers, led by Novikov (Robert Gwilyn), are deep within Nazi territory, answering a distress call from another platoon of Russian soldiers in a remote village. Following them around is cameraman Dimitri (Alexander Mercury), who is filming their every move with a handheld 16mm camera (way before videotape, so this film looks great). On their way to the village, they begin to view some strange things, like a human skeleton that doesn't look 100% human and a dead German soldier's body in the woods, who's not quite dead yet and looks to have some metal modification done to one of his arms. When they get to the village, the first thing they notice is that it is strangely empty and seems deserted until, that is, they find a pile of human bodies stacked upon each other, smoldering like they were part of a human bonfire (Vassili [played by Andrei Zayats], the violent one in the platoon, spots a still-living female on top of the burning pile and stabs her in the neck, killing her). They also notice that every body in the village's graveyard has been dug up, only empty coffins left in the graves. They decide to use the local church as their headquarters, but once they are inside it, it looks like no church they have ever been in (One of the platoon members says, "Looks like a factory."). When Sacha (Luke Newberry) goes downstairs to turn on the generator and restores the electricity, the first thing they encounter is a not-quite-human body, with an electrical wire attached to its head, that becomes reanimated and attacks Novikov. He lays there with his intestines spilled all over the floor and Sergei (Joshua Sasse) mercifully kills the not-quite-dead Novikov with his knife to stop his suffering. This leaves Sergei in charge, which doesn't sit too well with sadistic Vassili. For some reason, their radio is being jammed and they can't call-out for help, so they begin searching the church and find a bunch of animals in cages (Vassili grabs a rabbit and slams its body against a table). As this is happening, Viktor (Karel Roden; HELLBOY - 2004; THE ABANDONED - 2006), enters the room, is shot in the leg and is taken prisoner. When he won't talk, Vassili cuts off one of his fingers. Viktor then offers to take them to what they seek and leads them through a series of labyrinth-like passageways until he disappears. Then all hell breaks loose. The platoon is beseiged by a bunch of human-like creatures with metal parts fused to their bodies (called "zombots"), many of the parts taken from military weapons, vehicles and aircraft (They should have known something was up when they first entered the village. Just before they entered, there was a strange vehicle that looked like a tank, but wasn't quite a tank. You have to see it to understand it.). When Ivan (Hon Ping Tang), the brute muscle of the platoon, has his head and helmet crushed together by a zombot with a snapping bear trap-like device attached to its head, the rest of the platoon rescue him and hold-out in another building, where they run into Eva (Cristina Catalina), Nazi soldier Fritz (Jan de Lukowicz) and a couple of other people also running away from the zombots (None of them last long enough for us to feel any empathy for them). Eva offers to remove the helmet from the still-living Ivan's head, but when she does so, his brain is still in the helmet! As the numbers begin to dwindle due to the attacks by a variety of zombots, including one with an airplane propeller for a head (Sergei cuts off its power, causing the propeller to break into pieces, with one of the blades impaling Fritz in the head.), we discover that it was cameraman Dimitri jamming their radio signals. It turns out that the Russian government knows about Viktor's experiments (he's a descendent of the Frankenstein family, as we find out when Dimitri films Viktor's living quarters, where we see a painting of the original Dr. Frankenstein and a living female head attached to the body of a stuffed teddy bear encased in a glass cage!) and they want Dimitri to try and convince Viktor to join their side. The rest of the platoon is disposable. When Dimitri ventures off by himself, he discovers a huge refrigerated warehouse covered with human bodies hanging on chains and follows one zombot as it carries the still-living body of Hans (Zdenek Barinka), minus an arm, on a car attached to railroad tracks. It leads him to Viktor and Dimitri makes his offer. Before Viktor gives him an answer, Dimitri watches as Victor and a strange female zombot remove half the brain of Fritz and put it in the head of Sergei, who has had half of his brain removed. Viktor hopes to achieve the best of both sides, creating a Nazi/Russian hybrid with a portable handheld "generator" of his own creation (the brain removal scenes are all shown in loving close-up, including Viktor removing a piece of Fritz's brain from Sergei's head because there is "too much"!). Viktor then refuses Dimitri's offer and ties him to a table, putting Dimitri's camera at his feet to record Dimitri's transformation into a zombot. Before Viktor can operate, the allies begin bombing the village and Viktor is shot dead by Sacha, who cuts-off Viktor's head and takes it and Viktor's journals to safety, leaving Dimitri strapped to the table to meet his doom.  This is by far one of the best (and funniest, but not in a "ha-ha" kind of way) horror films to come down the pike in quite a while. Dutch Director Richard Raaphorst, who also created the designs of the zombots, hits a home run on his first feature film (He directed a handfull of shorts before this.). The screenplay, by Chris W. Mitchell and Miguel Tejada-Flores (FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 - 1988; SCREAMERS - 1995; BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR - 2003), based on a story by Raaphorst (with a nod to Mary Shelley), never takes itself too seriously, but be prepared for some extreme gore and some of the strangest human/machine creations ever to grace the screen. What I especially liked about this film is that most of the effects and strange metal/flesh hybrids were done practically (by Rogier Samuels and his crew), with a minimum of CGI employed. Believe me when I say that you have not seen creatures like this before on film. Some of these creations are downright surreal (I won't spoil what some of the stranger ones look like, but think of Steampunk on crack and you'll get an idea). For those of you worried that this is a "found footage" type of film, let me relieve your fears by saying that the camerawork is pretty smooth, with very little of that "shakey-cam" technique applied that usually wrecks most films in this genre for me. The film does stop a few times while Dimitri changes to a new cartridge, but it doesn't hurt the movie at all. I recommend this film to all readers of this site. FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY has everything you need to satisfy your hunger for a horror film (even brief female nudity, but it's not titilating at all). See it! Filmed in English in the Czech Republic. Also starring Mark Stevenson as platoon member Alexei (who suffers a memorable death by the lead zombot, a terrific creation with a huge spinning drillbit for a nose), Klaus Lucas and Linda Balabanova. This first played simultaneously as a limited theatrical release and as a Video On Demand title (something which is becoming very commonplace for independent films). A Dark Sky Films Blu-Ray/DVD Release. Rated R.

FUNNY MAN (1994) - When Callum Chance (Christopher Lee) loses his ancestral home in a game of high stakes poker to record producer Max Taylor (Benny Young), after Max makes a straight flush using the Joker as a wild card (Callum only had a pair of deuces, so it's apparent he wanted to lose), Callum makes the following statement to Max: "You're a funny man, Mr. Taylor, but I've met funnier. And so will you." Truer words were never spoken. Max moves his family, including wife Tina (Ingrid Lacey), teenage daughter Jamie (Jamie Heard) and young son Harry (Harry Heard), into the Chance ancestral home and it's not long before the Chance family curse, in the shape of a grotesque hunchbacked court jester known as the Funny Man (Tim James, who is marvelous in the role), begins terrorizing and killing the Taylor family, beginning with young Harry. Meanwhile, Max's ex-rocker brother Johnny (Matthew Devitt) is driving a van full of Max's personal belongings to the Chance home, when he stops to pick up four hitch-hikers: Frumpy bird watcher Thelma Fudd (Rhona Cameron), a "Crap Puppeteer" (George Morton), a "Hard Man" (Chris Walker), and a "Psychic Commando" (Paulene Black), a black woman who reads tarot cards and knows that they are all heading into serious and deadly trouble. By the time Johnny and the four hitch-hikers make it to the Chance ancestral home, the Funny Man has already killed Harry (off-screen), Tina (bloodily bludgeoned to death) and Jamie (electrocuted and burned to death when jumper cables are attached to her ears) and Max has disappeared. The Psychic Commando warns everyone about a bad presence in the house (after she injects some unknown drug between her fingers), but Johnny disregards the warning and has everyone split up to look for his brother and his family. This gives the Funny Man ample opportunities to dispatch them in various bloody, yet comical, ways. Max is going on a nightmare tour of the house, riding through the hallways and rooms while trapped in a shopping cart like it's some cheap carnival horror house ride. Johnny makes some discoveries about Max's treachery towards him (like Mick Jagger wanting Johnny to become a member of the Rolling Stones, but Max kept the letter and never told him), so it's up to the Psychic Commando (who can now shoot rockets from her fingertips!) to do battle with the Funny Man, but is she strong enough to defeat him? Sadly, no, but Johnny gets his wish to be a rock star before being sent to Rock 'N' Roll Heaven and Max gets to suffer an eternal fate that's far worse than death.  This British horror comedy, directed and written by Simon Sprackling (his only feature-length directorial effort), is, for the most part, a funny, scary thrill ride, but there are a few times when the low budget shows its edges and some of the accents could have benefited by the use of subtitles. Some of the deaths on view are downright ingenious, such as when the bespectacled Thelma (who is a dead-ringer for Velma on SCOOBY-DOO) has her brains and eyeballs blown out of her head (with her eyeglasses still attached!) and they go flying through the air, landing in a cooking vat; or when the Crap Puppeteer has the top of his head and hands blown off when they are used in the Funny Man's twisted Punch & Judy puppet show. The overall effectiveness of the Funny Man character is cheapened somewhat by having him speak directly to the camera, like we are in on the joke. I could have done without those bits because it reminds the viewer that we are watching a movie, but as the film progresses, it gets a little darker in tone and much bloodier (the Hard Man has a woman's high heel shoe jammed in his eye; the Funny Man gorily bursting through the Psychic Commando's body; Max's final fate is a sight that won't easily be forgotten [and it looks painful as hell]). Some of the set designs are also very good (the titty bar scene had me in stitches), as are the various disguises that the Funny Man wears throughout the film. As far as horror comedies go, FUNNY MAN is one of the best the 90's had to offer. Although Christopher Lee's screen time is minimal here (and it's implied that this whole film may be nothing other than a fantasy played-out in the obviously insane Callum's mind), he does sing the title tune (with a children's choir!) during the closing credits: "Funny Man, Funny Man. He's cheeky and he's cruel. Funny Man, the naughty Funny Man. He'll play you for a fool. The joke's on you!" Priceless. Also featuring Bob Sessions, Ed Bishop and John Chancer as the poker players in the film's opening scene. Originally available on VHS from Arrow Video. A Subversive Cinema DVD Release. Rated R.

GET MEAN (1975) - This should be titled "Stranger In A Strange Land"! This is certainly the strangest Western that I have ever seen and that is a good thing. As a matter of fact, this doesn't play like a western at all. It plays more like some twisted fantasy where our hero is put in so many unusual situations, it seems like some fever dream come alive.
     The film opens with The Stranger (Tony Anthony; BLINDMAN - 1971) being dragged by a horse through the Wisconsin countryside and across an old rickety wooden bridge into a ghost town. As soon as the horse enters the ghost town, it dies and the Stranger frees himself from his binds (there are multiple shots with metal reflective spheres that I guess symbolize something, but damn if I know what is is!). He walks into a tavern, where an old woman gypsy says to him, "We were expecting you!" Another gypsy pours $10,000 in coins on a table and tells him that the money is his if he will escort Princess Elizabeth Maria de Burgos (Diana Lorys; HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN - 1973) to Spain. The Stranger asks for $50,000 (he has no idea where Spain is!), telling the Princess for that amount of money, "Lady, I'll take you any goddamned place you want to go!" Suddenly, a group of Barbarians enter the tavern (one of them is wearing a horned helmet, like a Viking!) and begin to throw the Stranger and the gypsies across the room (Look for this film's director in a cameo as one of the gypsies). The Stranger gets the upper hand (branding a couple of them with a hot poker) and realizes that this trip to Spain is not going to be an easy one.
     They make it to Spain (thanks to footage borrowed from MY NAME IS NOBODY - 1973), where the Princess shows the Stranger her castle, telling him it was built by the Moors years ago to protect her people from the Barbarians. She then tells him about the "Treasure of Rodrigo", which gets the Stranger's undivided attention. The treasure is hidden somewhere and only their General, Emir (George Rigaud; EYEBALL - 1975), knows where it is. Suddenly, they are stuck in the middle of a large-scale battle between the Moors and the Barbarians. A huge battle ensues, the Barbarians using a unique cannon setup (multiple cannons mounted on a revolving lazy susan!) and the Moors using guns and swords (lots of impalements and cut faces). The Barbarians win, the Moors retreating, their General seriously injured. The head of the Barbarians, Shakespeare-quoting hunchback Sombra (co-screenwriter Lloyd Battista; THE SILENT STRANGER - 1968; also with Anthony) has to rein-in the brutish Diego (Raf Baldassarre; ZAMBO, KING OF THE JUNGLE - 1972) from killing the Stranger. Instead of killing him, they string him up by his feet and leave him there, the gay member (!) of the Barbarians, Alfonso (David Dreyer; FUZZ - 1972), laughing as they take the Princess prisoner and head back to the castle (Alfonso says of the Princess: "She's not a Princess, she's an ill-bred bitch!"). The Stranger hangs there for hours in the blazing sun, until beautiful gypsy woman Morelia (Mirta Miller; COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE - 1972) frees him and takes him to her village. He meets a dying General Emir and asks for his $50,000, only to be told that when they find Rodrigo's Treasure he'll be paid. The General dies, but before he does, he mentions "a temple in the mountains" to Morelia. Is this where the treasure is hidden?
     The Barbarians then attack the village and, once again, the Stranger gets the upper hand, making one Barbarian hold up two other Barbarians by their feet over a steep wall, as payback for him being hung up by his feet. The Barbarian's arms get tired and he drops his comrades on their heads on the rocks below, killing them. The Stranger then rides to the castle, asking Alfonso to take him to their leader (Alfonso says, "Move that animal and I'll take you there!" in his effeminate voice). The Stranger says to the crowd gathered, "Nobody get nervous, because I come in peace!" and then proceeds to talk to the Barbarians as if they were cavemen, offering them beads and other trinkets as a sign of friendship. This only makes Diego mad and, once again, Sombra has to calm him down. Sombra, who quotes Shakespeare's Richard III (He thinks he is the reincarnation of Richard III!), tries to talk to the Stranger, but he has no idea what he is saying, pissing off the hunchback (They really should have used hunchback actor Luciano Rossi [DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973] for this role, as there would be no need for extra padding on his back!). The Stranger offers a trade, Rodrigo's Treasure for the Princess, and Sombra agrees, but the Stranger still has no idea where the treasure is. He finds the Princess tied to a rack and Sombra agrees to free her if he takes him to the treasure. The Stranger then sees a very surreal Barbarian party, where a bunch of lesbians are making out, while a group of blind men watch them! (The Stranger says, "Oh, dear God, they got some ugly women in this country!") The Princess is then told that in order for her to get her hands on the treasure, she will first have to go through the "Trials of Death", an ancient ritual where danger and death lurk around every corner. The Stranger takes her place and what he goes through next is a real piece of surreal cinema. The Stranger enters a cave filled with coffins and begins to howl like a wolf, as invisible fists punch him in the face (He says, "All you people in those coffins, I don't believe in such stuff, so don't you try turning me into a wolf!"). In the cave, he is almost blown-up and when he exits it, he discovers his whole body has turned black (when he looks down his pants and sees his penis is black, he screams!). He is then chased around by a bull and falls down a crevasse into another cave, where he steals a small gold horse statue. The Stranger then enters an old temple, where Diego is waiting for him, wanting to know where the treasure is. He hands the horse statue to him and says, "But, mister, now you got to get me a doctor, because I turned black all over and I think I'm gonna die!" Diego is not happy and searches Diego and a piece of jewelry called the "Scorpion's Sting" falls from his body. Alfonso, who is visibly frightened, says that the Scorpion's Sting brings death to whomever claims it and hands it to the Stranger. He is then tied-up and placed on a platter of what looks like the world's biggest salad, looking like a pig about to be roasted, a potato in his mouth! Sombra then gets into a fencing match with Morelia and kills her when she tries to run away, stabbing her in the back with his rapier. The Stranger is then roasted over a spit, Sombra saying to Diego, "The flames are very low, so it's up to you whether he be rare, medium or well done!"
     Alfonso, who is disguised as one of the red-hooded members of the Barbarian cult, frees the Stranger, as long as he agrees to take him to the treasure. Once free, the Stranger turns the tables on Alfonso, making him swallow a large ball of wax (!), and telling him to deliver that message to Sombra. Sombra and Diego force-feed Alfonso like a "stuffed turkey" until his "message" is delivered (WTF?!?). Alfonso eventually passes the ball of wax and Sombra and Diego discover that the wax concealed the Scorpion's Sting inside it (a portend of things to come).
     The Stranger is tired of all the abuse, now is the time for him to "Get Mean". But first he is captured by the lesbians, who use him for their pleasure! Alfonso appears and challenges the Stranger to a duel, slapping him across the face and saying that the weapons are of the Stranger's choosing. The Stranger then gives Alfonso a series of slaps and the lesbians pile-on the gay Barbarian. The Stranger says, "What a country. Women are men and men are women!" The Stranger shoots dynamite-laced arrows over the castle walls, causing mass confusion for the Barbarians. When they put the revolving cannons in place, the scared Barbarians retreat, leaving Sombra by himself. The Stranger kills Diego's men with his four-barrelled shotgun (!), leaving Diego and the Stranger to battle it out, mano-a-mano. He pours gunpowder down Diego's throat and, as he convulses, the Stranger finishing him off with his pistol. "You're worse than trash. You're garbage!" says the Stranger, shoving a potato in Diego's mouth. The disembodied voice of the Stranger taunts Sombra, who accidentally discovers Rodrigo's Treasure when an errant cannonball exposes it. Sombra kills Alfonso by burning him alive, as the Stranger approaches him (multiple dynamite explosions behind him, in a very effective scene). Sombra pleads for his life, saying, "I am Richard III, King of all of England!" as the Stranger challenges him to a duel, his cannons against his six-shooter. As Sombra's cannons miss him, the Stranger kills him with his pistol. "The King is dead. Long live the King or whatever they say." are the Stranger's final words, as he exits this strange country called Spain and returns to America (cue the shiny metal sphere. WTF?!?).
     Wow. Just wow. While watching this film (recommended to me by my friend Steven. Thanks Steven!), all I could think of was how it resembled Sam Raimi's ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992; thanks once again Steven!), making me wonder if Raimi saw this film before he made his. Besides horses and six-shooters, this really is not a Spaghetti Western in the traditional sense (or even in the non-traditional sense!), but a fantasy adventure film with Vikings (although we never hear that word), Moors, supernatural elements and above all, a strong gay subtext that is tossed in the viewer's face, something you never see in a Spaghetti Western (or any Western). Director Fernando Baldi, who made many Spaghetti Westerns, as well as the brutal thriller TERROR EXPRESS (1979) and the actioners WAR BUS (1985) and JUST A DAMNED SOLDIER (1988; his final film), was also responsible for the film that kicked-off the early-'80s 3-D craze, COMIN' AT YA! (1981) and its companion piece, TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS (1983), both starring Tony Anthony. Speaking of Tony Anthony, he made a series of "STRANGER" Spaghetti Western films in the late-'60s and basically carried-over that character to this film, although with more dialogue. When it comes to really "out there" films, this one is hard to beat. The battle scenes are large in scope (and it needs to be seen in widescreen to appreciate the large quantity of background actors who were hired to participate in the battles) and there is a sense of brutality herein, even though it is basically played for broad comedy. It's also hard to believe that this gained a PG Rating when released to U.S. theaters (distributed by Cee Note Inc., a company I never heard of before), but it doesn't surprise me because many adult themed films in the '70s achieved that rating, deservedly or not. Recommended for both Western and weird film lovers (you know who you are!). As far as I can discern, this never obtained a legitimate VHS release in the United States, making its first appearance on these shores as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Blue Underground in 2015 (It was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in Germany under the name TIME BREAKER). I saw it in widescreen on YouTube (Thanks again for the link, Steven!), which seems to be the go-to site for undiscovered gems like this one. I will be purchasing the Blue Underground disc set because I always want to do the right thing (and BU always delivers the goods in primo fashion). Also starring Sherman 'Big Train' Bergman (RUNNING SCARED - 1980), Raul Castro and Remo De Angelis (MY DEAR KILLER - 1972) as the horn-helmeted Viking that attacks the Stranger in the tavern. Rated PG.

GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS (1973) - While most reviewers have given this obscure film bad press as a hokey monster flick, I believe that they’ve missed the whole point of this film. Sure, it contains a badly-assembled mutant 8 foot sheep (yeah, you heard me right), but I doubt that is all director/producer/writer Fredric Hobbs (who was also responsible for the title creation) was aiming for in this film. It is also a finely-crafted piece of political Americana. There are actually two monsters here: One is the mutant sheep. The other is more dangerous. He is the mayor and patriarch of Comstock, Nevada, a historical wild west tourist trap. He controls the town with an iron fist, keeping tabs on the local citizens by means of electronic surveilance and is not above committing murder to keep his town under control. The subplot deals with a mutant sheep being born due to escaping yellow phosphorous gas from a nearby mine. A scientist takes the fetus to his lab in Indian Flats (located next to Comstock) and nurses it to adulthood. Meanwhile, a representative from a huge corporation comes to Comstock in hopes of buying the town’s mining rights. The mayor has eyes on the mining rights for himself and sets-up the representative on a trumped-up attempted murder charge. The mayor gathers up an old-fashioned vigilante group and tries to hang the rep, but he escapes and ends up at the laboratory at Indian Flats. Events that follow lead to the mutant sheep escaping and causing havoc in Comstock. The mayor orders "the damaged mongoloid beast" to be captured alive so he can display it to paying customers ("Feast your eyes on the 8th Wonder of the World!"). The finale is a surreal experience as the townspeople turn on the monster and the mayor. You have to see it to believe it.  Director Fredric Hobbs (ROSELAND - 1970; ALABAMA’S GHOST - 1972) is a true film fanatic’s dream. Daring to take chances that sometimes fail, you still get the feeling that at least he is trying something different and sticking to his vision. This film contains a dog funeral, assorted bad guys (one is a disgraced Wall Street broker!), a tear gas shooting party and the aforementioned mutant sheep. The most unusual aspect of this film is that the corporate representative is the only black man in this film and not once is race ever brought up as an issue. It is truly refreshing to watch a film where a black person is treated just like everyone else, a real rarity for a 70’s exploitation film. Watch GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS with an open mind and you may find yourself having a good time. Starring Russ Meyer regular Stuart Lancaster (FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! - 1965) as the mayor, E. Kerrigan Prescott (ALABAMA’S GHOST - 1972) as the scientist, HILL STREET BLUES (1981 - 1987) actor Robert Hirschfeld as the sheriff, Christopher Brooks (THE MACK - 1973), Peggy Browne, Erica Gavin (CAGED HEAT - 1974) and Richard Marion (CHILD‘S PLAY 3 - 1991; who later directed episodes of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND [1996 - 2005] on TV!). A Something Weird Video Release. Not Rated, but would probably get a PG-13 in today’s climate. UPDATE: Now available on Blu-Ray from AGFA/Something Weird Video and streaming on Amazon Prime.

GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE (1988) - I must first make a confession before I begin this review: I'm a night owl who watches films at ungodly hours of the night; actually the very early morning, between 2:00 and 6:00 AM. I attempted to watch this Lamberto Bava-directed film twice during the early morning and both times I fell asleep, so I decided that the next time I would make it the first film I watch for the night. All I can say, after watching it straight through for the very first time, is that I kept wishing I was sleepy, because this was the longest 91 minutes of my life. While this film may be considered a master course of style over substance, as it is very atmospheric, but nonsensical, the fact is you'll be wanting to kill the five young people who make up the cast, because they do and say things no human being from this planet ever would. These three dicks and two cunts (That may sound harsh, but I'm actually being polite!) are perfect examples of people who don't deserve to live, because they do the most hurtful and asinine things to each other, as well as talk as no person I ever heard and say idiotic things to people they don't know, that you'll be wondering if they are human or some kind of alien that has watched too much of Earth's TV and believe this is the way all humans act. Either way, you'll be wishing them all a painful death, but you'll be severely disappointed in the way this film concludes. Frankly, it makes absolutely no sense at all, as it is merely a way for the filmmakers to write themselves out of a corner they painted themselves in. As I am writing this, I suddenly feel very sleepy...
     (...8 hours later) The film opens with four overage teenagers, Robin (Gregory Lech Thaddeus; his only film), Tina (Lea Martino; Bava's YOU'LL DIE AT MIDNIGHT - 1986), Micky (Beatrice Ring; ZOMBI 3 - 1987) and her brother David (Karl Zinny; Bava's DELIRIUM: PHOTO OF GIOIA - 1987), shoplifting in a convenience store, while their friend Johnny (Gianmarco Toganazzi; PETOMANIAC - 1983, the Italian fart movie!) waits outside in his van, like some ad hoc getaway driver. After stealing two chocolate bars (Really?) and getting caught by the shopkeeper (portrayed by director/co-screenwriter Lamberto Bava), the four punks quickly pile into the van and Johnny takes off, worried that they will get caught by the police (over two chocolate bars, really?). Sure enough, the shopkeeper tells the cops that he wants them arrested and they nearly get caught at a police roadblock (over two chocolate bars, really?), but Johnny guns it and blows past the roadblock, nearly killing two cops in the process (over two chocolate bars, really?). Johnny and the gang get lost in a heavy fog and end up in a cut-rate version of the TWILIGHT ZONE. After hearing wolves howling and seeing a driverless horse-drawn funeral carriage, Johnny crosses a shallow river with his van trying to find the nearest town, but the second river he tries to cross proves to be far deeper than it seemed to be, causing the van to stall out and get stuck in the middle of the river, forcing the quintet to hoof it on foot. After seeing a weird local with a light blinking out of his left eye, who refuses to acknowledge they even exist, darkness approaches and they must find some place to sleep. They discover giant unknown animal footprints in the dirt (which is dropped from the plot as soon as they are shown) and find the ruins of an old, ancient church and decide to sleep there, ignoring a stone grave marker containing the warning of a curse to those who enter here, written in Latin (What's surprising is that David knows Latin and translates it!). While they are sleeping, a stranger with a glowing red eye watches them, waking up Robin, who then wakes up his friends. After failing to locate the stranger (he totally disappears from the rest of the film), the group of high school dropouts discover that they were sleeping on the roof of a tavern (complete with a "Miller High Life" neon sign!) and decide to enter it. This is when the film goes completely off the rails and I don't mean in a good way!
     In the tavern, they order some sausages and beer from the one-eyed tavern keeper (Lino Salemme; Bava's DEMONS - 1985), oblivious to the fact that his empty eye socket is emitting a blinking red light! David makes a joke about werewolves and all the patrons in the tavern turn and look at them, all of their eyes glowing in the dark (David asks the tavern keeper if he ever saw AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON [1981] and he tells David that no one here goes to the movies). A one-armed man (Gianpaolo Saccarola; THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY - 1981) approaches the group, telling them that a werewolf tore off his arm and then says something else is growing on his body and do they want to see it. Before they can answer, he thrusts his "missing" arm out of the fly of his trousers (!) and everyone in the tavern laughs, except for the overage teens, thinking that the joke was funny (It actually is, because we didn't expect such somber people to have a sense of humor).
     Micky has to use the "ladies" and the tavern keeper tells her it is upstairs, where she finds a large glass goblet full of valuable jewelry and cash (as well as an American Express card!). She yells to her friends to come take a look at it and the tavern keeper tells them that the goblet contains the valuables left there by people who failed to win a contest. When David asks what the contest is, he is told that if you put money in the goblet, you must spend the entire night in a crypt located in the catacombs beneath the tavern (The tavern keeper tells the kids that the crypt is considered "Hell's waiting room", failing to elaborate on the remark). If you spend the entire night in the crypt and come out at dawn, you can collect everything in the goblet as a reward. David gets the bright idea to be the next person to participate in the contest (he throws his entire wallet into the goblet!), telling his friends to come to the crypt when the tavern closes, because as long as they are all together nothing bad can happen to them. Wanna bet?
     The tavern keeper leads David to the locked iron gate that leads to the basement of the tavern, accompanying him a short way to a ladder that will lead him below to the catacombs and then the crypt, laughing the entire time. He hands David a lantern and then leaves David alone to find his way. David's friends leave the tavern and patiently wait for it to close, not realizing that the tavern keeper is fully aware that they are coming back to join David, even unlocking the iron gate so they can do so. When the tavern keeper closes up shop (where it is revealed he has a working TV!), the four clueless teens enter the tavern to join their friend, but they cannot find David in the creepy, cobweb-filled catacombs, which are full of decaying corpses and skeletons (we see the jaw of one skeleton chattering, which is a physical impossibility). It turns out David is playing a practical joke on them, jumping out of the darkness and scaring the shit out of his friends (If I had a gun, I would have shot him in the head, but the other four laugh it off like it is no biggie). When Micky pushes her brother into a rotting coffin, it breaks open and a corpse of a zombie comes out of it, but instead of attacking the kids, he opens up another coffin of a female zombie and puts his hand on one of her breasts! She slaps him and slams the coffin lid shut. It's obvious that Bava is trying to insert some humor into the film, but the sad fact is it fails miserably and seems like a sorry attempt to excuse bad filmmaking.
     As expected in films like this, the group gets separated and Robin falls into a pit filled with water containing body parts and skeletons of corpses, as well as a giant eyeball creature that swims in the water and tries to attack Robin, but he escapes the pit (after seeing a vision of all his friends dead, calling for him to climb up and join them). Unfortunately, his friends aren't dead and he soon joins Tina, who also got separated from her friends. We then see a zombie woman with eight eyeballs (two regular ones and six scattered about her rather large forehead in no particular order) as she serves a formal dinner to her zombie family (one zombie has two large buck teeth and another has one large sharp tooth sticking out the middle of his mouth), which consists of apples infested with worms, centipedes in worm sauce and some mystery meat, all of it disgusting. When Robin and Tina enter the room, all the zombies scream and jump in their coffins, closing the lids (another bad, but weird, attempt at humor).
     As dawn approaches (David can't wait to get his hands on the loot), we see the police finding Johnny's van overturned in a ravine, making audiences believe that the five teens are dead and in Hell. When the police look in the van, they find it empty and we see the tavern keeper telling David and his group that they have won the contest, so they greedily take everything out of the glass goblet, stuffing the money into their pockets and wearing the expensive jewelry, while the tavern keeper laughs wildly and then transforms into a rotting zombie version of the Grim Reaper, complete with scythe! The teens think they are dead, too, and run out of the tavern, only to get arrested by the police for petty larceny (over two chocolate bars, really?). The film ends there, as the teens are handcuffed and put into the back of police cars. WTF?!?
     To say nothing happens here, as no one gets killed, there's no gory violence and absolutely no nudity, is an understatement. That is because this is the first of four TV movies Lamberto Bava (MACABRE - 1980; BLASTFIGHTER - 1984; BODY PUZZLE - 1992) directed and co-wrote (with Dardano Sacchetti; Bava's A BLADE IN THE DARK - 1983; DEVIL FISH - 1984; and DEMONS 2 - 1986) for his 1989 TV mini-series BRIVIDO GIALLO ("Thrilling Giallo"), which also included UNTIL DEATH (1988), DEMONS III: THE OGRE (1989; a.k.a. THE OGRE) and DINNER WITH A VAMPIRE (1989), none of them giallo flicks. These are horror films sprinkled with grotesque scenes of humor, none of them funny at all, but some people find them memorable just for their weirdness and WTF?!? strangeness (but not me), such as this film's 8-eyed zombie lady presiding over a formal dinner, played for humor rather broadly. If I were forced to mention one good thing about this film, it would be that the zombie makeups are very well done, as is the catacombs set. The crew involved in covering the catacombs with cobwebs went a little overboard, as everything seems to have a thick layer of the stuff covering it. I am also surprised that some reviewers actually like this film, stating it is like watching a movie shot in some alternate dimension, but I don't see it. To me, it is nothing but a badly written film where the "actors" spout their lines like they think every normal person does. Here's what Tina says during one point in the film: "Let's get one thing straight. I like silly, fun things, like candy, Christmas carols, Woody Allen, things like that. I made a decision never to die because it gives me the creeps!" Does any teenager actually talk like that? In the finale, the group decides that the ditzy Micky is the best person to find a way out of the catacombs. Let's just say that this is an alternate dimension I never wish to visit. Couple that with the truly mind-boggling denouement, which reeks of pure desperation, and this is a film I wish never to revisit again. It's not the worst of the four films (that would be DEMONS III: THE OGRE, which truly is a torture to watch), but it is a surefire way to cure you of insomnia. Consider it celluloid Ambien.
     Shot as UNA NOTTE AL CIMITERO ("A Night At The Cemetery"), this TV movie had neither a theatrical or VHS release in the United States, making its first appearance here as a DVD in 2009 from Mya Communications, which is long OOP. No updates to the DVD since then, but it can easily be found streaming on YouTube (which is how I suffered through it) for people who like to burn off their nose hairs with butane lighters (I have to watch shit like this, but you don't!). Also featuring Lamberto Bava's son, Fabrizio Bava (first assistant director on Dario Argento's THE CARD PLAYER - 2004) and Mirella Pedetti (a seamstress on Michele Soavi's THE SECT - 1991). Not Rated.

THE GREASY STRANGLER (2016) - "My son is a crapper. He craps in the bed, he crapped on his mother's leg and he crapped on top of the TV!" Every once in a while I find a strange film in my mailbox. I get sent many films, usually the ones that aren't worth the plastic they are recorded on, but every so often something comes along that is so unusual, so twisted, that you can't help but sit up and take notice. This is one of those films. Not only did it make me think long after I watched it, but I actually had a nightmare about it the night that I did view it. I can't say that about many films. You don't usually see me mention the words "cult" and "films" in the same sentence (I think that the audience makes it a cult film, not the filmmakers) but this is guaranteed to be a cult film in the years to come. You'll think the same thing once you see it too. It hits all the right notes, will make you want to retch at some of the visuals and doesn't shy away from anything, This is  early John Waters territory, if he were on LSD (that is a good thing). The acting comes from another planet. but it works beautifully within the confines of this film, there are lines of dialogue that will make you laugh out loud (it is all in the delivery) and there is graphic full frontal male and female nudity (the filmmakers said that all of the penises in this film were prosthetic, but they are still disgusting!). Rather than giving my regular spoiler-filled review (I would rather let you discover it), I'll just touch the surface of this instantly memorable film (which was produced by of all people, actor Elijah Wood! [MANIAC - 2012]). A brief description: Beer-bellied and man-boobed Big Brayden (Sky Elobar; who delivers his lines like he comes from an alternate Earth) and his cranky, big man-boobed, balding white-haired father, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michael; whom you may remember was the star of THE VIDEO DEAD - 1987), run a tour of closed discos in the Los Angeles area, where daddy makes up stories about the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and John Travolta (He tells his son that back in the 70's , he was a disco king that hobnobbed with all the big disco stars!). They have four paying tourists on this walking tour and when an Indian tourist (Sam Dissanayake; who does an extremely funny bit a little later in the film when he mispronounces the word "potato") asks for verification of his story, Big Ronnie says, "What are you a bullshit artist?!?" (you'll be hearing that word a lot in this film, but it never grows old) and pulls down his pink disco shorts and farts in their direction (The pink outfits that both father and son wear shows their nipples protruding from their man-boobs! They almost look like transsexuals!). The tourist also mentions that free drinks were mentioned in the brochure and Big Ronnie yells out "No Free drinks!" Another tourist, Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo; she was "Maria" on the funny HBO Comedy series EASTBOUND & DOWN [2010 - 2013]) catches Big Brayden's eye and they start a romantic relationship, much to Big Ronnie's displeasure. He tries to ruin the relationship by any means, even parading around naked in the house (Big Ronnie has a huge dick, while Big Brayden has a tiny one!). There is also a serial killer on the loose known as The Greasy Strangler who chokes people to death and eats their eyes. We know almost immediately That Big Ronnie is the serial killer, as we watch him kill the three tourists that gave him the most trouble on that morning's tour. He throws the Scandinavian tourist (Holland MacFallister) through the glass of a vending machine, rips the face off the Senegalese tourist (Abdoulaye NGom) until all that is left is the back of his head (!), and chokes out the Indian tourist (who says, "Am I dying?"). Big Ronnie is slathered in cooking grease and he gets it off of him by walking through a car wash totally naked, where the blind proprietor, Big Paul (Gil Gex), thinks that Big Ronnie is getting his car washed. He tells Big Brayden that he is the Greasy Strangler, but he doesn't believe him, saying "I call bullshit! You're a bullshit artist!", but it is rather obvious that he is because he likes cooking grease in his coffee, on hotdogs and even on his morning grapefruit! He is a grease junkie. While there is plenty of violence, it is all done for comedy effect, such as when he chokes out a hotdog vendor (Mel Kohl) for not putting grease on his hot dog ("I could lose my job!") until his eyes pop out! He grabs the eyes, fries them up and eats them. While this film contains some scenes that will likely make you wanna puke (Check out Big Ronnie disco dancing with his huge penis shaking in the wind while a spotlight follows him around), it is basically a love story at heart. Even though Big Ronnie always tells people Big Brayden is a "crapper" (there is nothing he hasn't taken a crap on, even though none of it is true), he loves his son and you will be thinking about that long after the film ends. How they deal with the romantic triangle proves that love. There is no bond as strong as that of a father and son. British director/co-screenwriter (with Toby Harvard) Jim Hosking also directed the "G Is For Grandad" segment of THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 (2014), but God only knows where he got the inspiration to make this weird and wonderful film (Maybe in a fever dream?). The dialogue will make you laugh out loud (really!) because he found the perfect two people to portray the father and son. They deliver their lines like you have never heard before and they do it with such pinaché, you'll be laughing at their delivery as soon as they open their mouths. You will hear such precious dialogue as: "You claim her pussy, but you'll never claim her heart!", the violence and gore looks like it came out of a child's cartoon (including the sound effects) and the music soundtrack, by Andrew Hung, sounds like early-80's video game music, but everything that should fail hits on all cylinders here. I haven't laughed this hard in a long, long time; my mouth was hurting when the film ended. Highly recommended for people who like something totally different than anything they have ever seen before. A strong stomach is also recommended. Also starring Joe David Walters as "Oinker", a man who walks around with a pig nose; Dana Hass as "Big Heinie", a movie concession worker; Carl Solomon as "Danny The Crooner" (must be seen to be believed!); and Sal Koussa as "Ricky Pickles", the man who stole Big Brayden's mother away because he had six-pack abs. He has his ears ripped-off and his eyes are roasted over a campfire like marshmallows! Still no official U.S. disc release yet (it is available on DVD and Blu-Ray in England and Germany and Austrailia sells a double disc Blu-Ray set that is Region 0, but some of the extras may not play on U.S. Blu-Ray Players unless you have an all-region player. It is available from Diabolik.), but Amazon offers it on DVD-R or BD-R for a fairly cheap price. (the BD-R is a "Special Director's Edition". It is encoded in surround sound, has audio commentary by the director and the two main stars, a red band trailer, and interviews with the cast and crew. This is the one I received and I'm glad I did!)  You can also watch it streaming for free if you are an Amazon Prime member. This is one movie you will want to own, if only to show it to people to see their reactions. The original cut of the film was 135 minutes, but it was shed of 42 minutes for the final version. When it does find a legitimate distributor, maybe we will get both versions. Not Rated and for good reason! "Rootie Tootie Disco Cutie!"

GRIZZLY 2: THE PREDATOR (1983) - Here it is folks. The holy grail of unfinished and unreleased 80's horror. The cast contains such well-known names as George Clooney, Charlie Sheen (who passed on starring in THE KARATE KID to appear in this!), Louise Fletcher, Laura Dern, Deborah Raffin, John Rhys-Davies, Dick Anthony Williams, Charles Cyphers, Marc Alaimo and Jack Starrett. The story is simple: The crooked superintendant of Summit National Park (Fletcher) agrees to have a huge rock concert in the park, much to the displeasure of the park rangers, who feel they are spread too thin as it is. As luck would have it, a 20 foot tall grizzly bear is wrecking vengeange in the park, thanks to a poacher killing it's offspring for it's gall bladder. When the grizzly kills the poacher, the other poachers (led by Starrett) go hunting for it. The grizzly then kills three campers (which includes a horny Clooney and Dern and a very young Sheen) and makes it's way towards the concert. When the rangers start finding the bodies of the grizzly's victims, they enlist the help of French bear hunter Bouchard (Rhys-Davies) to track it down. This doesn't sit too well with local grizzly bear conservationist Sam (Raffin), who would rather capture it alive. Bouchard, Sam and head ranger Hollister (Steve Inwood) go searching for the grizzly while the poachers shoot and injure another ranger (he eventually ends up as a grizzly meal). The poachers dig a huge pit with wooden stakes to kill the bear, but greed and the grizzly get to them first. The grizzly makes it to the crowded concert (it arrives backstage, so it must have had a pass) where it sets off the pyrotechnics, impales Bouchard on a metal spike and flips the Jeep Hollister and Sam are in. Hollister electrocutes the grizzly on stage where the audience thinks it's part of the show (you gotta see that shot to believe it) and applaud wildly. The End.  Since this is just a workprint, the film is in very rough shape. The temp music soundtrack contains unauthorized tracks by Michael Jackson ("Beat It" and "Wanna Be Starting Something") and the bear is never seen until the finale. The attack scenes consist of reaction shots of the  actors waving their hands around their body and screaming and when the bear is to be shown, all you see is a blank screen. Since there is only the shots of the mechanical bear at the end, it stands to reason that the other bear attack footage was to be shot later on. All the sound on this workprint is live and no post-production looping is present. This is especially noticable when the actors talk on police radios or telephones and the reply voices are coming just off-camera. The question remains this: Would this have made a good film if it were finished and released? It's hard to say. From the footage I have seen, the film is not that bloody (the effects shots were probably also to be added later) and the story is pretty weak. The music acts in the concert, which consists of a bad early 80's New Wave all-girl singing group and an effiminate male headliner who dresses in a silver metallic jump suit, dates the film severely. The finale is unfinished and is represented as a series of outtakes, but you can get the gist of how it's supposed to end by watching the outtakes. It's the ecclectic cast that's the biggest draw. Seeing George Clooney, Charlie Sheen and Laura Dern at such early stages in their careers is a hoot, but their screen time amounts to less than five minutes. There's a subplot about Hollister's daughter Christy (Deborah Foreman) working as a gofer for the concert manager (Dick Anthony Williams) and falling in love with the girly-man headliner (before the concert, he prances around in a tight pair of short shorts!), but it eventually leads nowhere. Cannon Films was supposed to distribute this film, but went into bankruptcy, dooming this film before it was finished (There were other factors involved, too, such as the producer, Joseph Proctor, taking a lot of the production money for his own use. He is still serving time in a federal prison for tax evasion.) . Filmed partly in Budapest, the Hungarian government seized most of the production's equipment for non-payment of bills. This film was directed/executive produced/co-scripted by David Sheldon (The unauthorized Hungarian [at least to director Sheldon and his co-writing partner, wife Joan McCall] concert scenes were directed by unknown André Szöts at a real Russian Army base [and it was advertised as a real concert attended by over 10,000 rabid Hungarian teens!], his only try at directing and failing miserably. He had a nervous breakdown while filming, the concert was called off and Szöts passed away in 2006), who co-wrote and produced the original GRIZZLY (1976). There are claims that this film ended up on TV in the late 80's. Don't you believe it. It is just one of those urban legends that refuses to die. Another film, CLAWS (1977), which also deals with a rogue grizzly, was retitled GRIZZLY 2 for overseas distribution and TV showings when the original film turned out to be an unexpected financial success. This workprint is about as complete as you are ever going to see it and is in no way in any condition to be shown on TV or in theaters. This is about as rare a find that I have ever received. I would like to thank the person that sent it to me, but I'll leave his name anonymous so he doesn't get clobbered with requests for copies (Thanks William Wilson!). I know of no artwork for this film. If anyone has any preproduction ads for this or any promotion material (the artwork for this review is a fake poster created by a fan), please contact me at my email link and we can work work something out. NOTE: The workprint finally escaped into the torrent community (and it wasn't me, no matter what that turdburglar William Wilson claims; I have never uploaded a film to a torrent site in my life and I would love to see asswipe's Wilson's proof to the contrary) and some people have made their own fan edits, inserting scenes from the first film to replicate the missing bear attacks and reworking the music soundtrack. Some of the fan edits are pretty good, while others are god-awful. According to sources, the footage sits in a lab in Paris, while the soundtrack sits in a New York vault. NOTE 2: For more information on the making of this film, check out the Email Section HERE. UPDATE: Believe it or not, the film's original producer, Suzanne Csikos Nagy, finished the film! It's now called GRIZZLY II: REVENGE and had it's world premiere theatrical showing in Los Angeles on February 17, 2020! From what I have read, only fifteen people showed up for the screening and half of them were crewmembers who worked on the film, but that can be blamed on poor marketing and the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you want to read more about the filming of the missing scenes and a re-worked screenplay, you can go to the official website here: When it is officially released on Blu-ray and DVD, look for a revised review. Until that happens, just remember this: Sooner or later, everything gets completed, even if it takes nearly 40 years! (Thanks to Michael Prymula for passing this news to me.). UPDATE #2: I ordered the Gravitas Ventures Blu-Ray of the film on Amazon, only to discover that it is not a pressed Blu-Ray at all, but a BD-R! And it's recorded in the lowest-quality bitrate! And there are no extras! You would think that the history of this film would come with a variety of extras explaining why this film was finished 37 years after it began filming, but we get nothing, not even a trailer! The sleeve looks way too amateurish (The synopsis on the back of the sleeve looks to be written by someone with no understanding of the English language) and the film looks to be only a step above the the workprint in picture quality. I have no problem with DVD-Rs and BD-Rs, as long as they are made with the highest quality bitrate, but not to advertise them as such and charge a premium price for them is not good business. Expect a lot of returns, Gravitas Ventures & Amazon! Shame on the both of you.

HEAD OF THE FAMILY (1996) - Outrageous horror-comedy that blends the right amount of grossness and black humor. In the sleepy little town of Nob Hollow, the shopkeeper, Lance (Blake Bailey), is having a torrid sexual affair with Loretta (Jaqueline Lovell), the wife of the town’s only drug dealer. They conspire to get rid of her husband, but cannot come up with a foolproof plan until Lance spots the town’s weirdest (and richest) residents, the Stackpools, kidnap an unsuspecting motorist for use in some strange genetic experiments in their mansion’s basement. Lance blackmails the head of the family, Myron Stackpool  (J.W. Perra), into kidnapping Loretta’s husband to use in the experiments. Myron agrees and the plan goes off without a hitch. Then, Lance gets greedy and demands money from the Stackpools in exchange for keeping his mouth shut about the experiments. Lance and Loretta will soon come to regret messing around with the Stackpools. If this plot sounds generic, consider this: Myron has a giant head and a super-small body. He is the brains of the family and controls his two brothers (one has huge eyes and acute hearing while the other is just huge and dumb with the strength of ten men) and sister (a looker with a great body) using telepathy. Myron sees through their eyes and feels what they feel. Mix that with good acting and a crackling, sarcastic screenplay (by Benjamin Carr) and what you have is a film that’s hard to resist. The standout is Jacqueline Lovell (HIDEOUS - 1997; KILLER EYE - 1998), who can really act in and out of her clothes (full-frontal nudity and what a body!). She has quite a future in the business. Director Robert Talbot (MYSTERY MONSTERS - 1997) is actually a pseudonym for Charles Band, who this time actually keeps you entertained, tossing in frequent nudity, comedy and grotesque situations (including a Joan of Arc play performed by Myron’s failed experiments!). Hard to believe that this came from Charles Band’s production company or even from Band himself!. Also starring James Jones, Bob Schott, Diane Colazzo and Gordon Jennison. A Pulp Fantasy Home Video Release. Rated R.

HEX (1980) - More Hong Kong craziness from the Shaw Brothers and director Kuei Chih-Hung, who also gave us such memorable films as BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS (1973), THE KILLER SNAKES (1974), BEWITCHED (1981), CORPSE MANIA (1981) and THE BOXER'S OMEN (1983). The Chan's were once a powerful family for several generations. That is, until recently. Their only surviving daughter, Sau Ying (Tanny), was forced into an arranged marriage with abusive Yeung (Wang Jung), in hopes of continuing the Chan family line with some new blood (babies). Sau Ying has failed to get pregnant and caught a bad lung ailment instead, forcing her to be bedridden. Sau Ying's parents died of consumption and since her family name no longer carries the clout it use to and divorce is not an option in this society, the self-absorbed Yeung has turned to a life of gambling, drinking, visiting prostitutes and abuses the only female servant, Ah Sim, left on staff (Sau Ying and Yeung are dead flat broke and all they have left to their name is the crumbling Chan family mansion). When Ah Sim leaves the Chan's employ (She tells Sau Ying, "I will not be his punch-bag!"), the cruel Yeung refuses to take care of Sau Ying as she grows sicker. Enter Leung Yi Wah (Chen Szu-Chia), the daughter of a servant who once worked for Sau Ying's mother. She shows up at the Chan's front door and offers to attend to Sau Ying's needs, even though they can't afford to pay her (When Sau Ying warns Leung of Yeung's bad temper, she responds, "Don't worry, I'll take good care of him."). When Leung discovers the depths of depravity of Yeung's cruelty (She watches as he slaps around a sickly Sau Ying for not lighting his cigarette!) and he rapes her after she tells him "You are not a man!", Leung has had enough when he punches and kicks her and then steals Sau Ying's jade bracelet (it was her mother's and the only thing Sau Ying had left that had any monetary value) and uses it for gambling and whores. She and Sau Ying drown him in a vat of water when he returns home drunk and then throw his body into a nearby pond to make it look like an accidental drowning (it's not the first time he has fallen into the pond while walking home blind stinking drunk, so this seems like an excellent plan). But, like all perfect murders, something goes wrong and Yeung's body disappears from the pond and Sau Ying begins having nightmares about being chased around the mansion by Yeung's water-bloated corpse. She begins regretting killing him and grows sicker and more delusional, while Leung tries to hold it together as the village drains the pond due to an odorous stench emanating from it. When nothing is found in the drained pond except the rotting corpse of a pig, Sau Ying and Leung are both surprised. Or are they? When Sau Ying dies of her illness (helped, in part, by being scared to death by an oozing corpse hovering over her bed), it is revealed that Yeung is very much alive and was working in concert with Leung to hasten Sau Ying's death (it turns out that Sau Ying was hording a treasure trove of jade and priceless jewelry). As we have learned in many Hong Kong horror films, being dead is not an excuse not to return from the grave to get even with those who have wronged you and Sau Ying is no exception. Her retribution against illicit lovers Leung and Yeung will be deadly as well as hugely entertaining.  This twisted variation of the classic French mystery LES DIABOLIQUES (1955) proved to be so popular with Hong Kong audiences that two official sequels were made, HEX VS. WITCHCRAFT (1980) and HEX AFTER HEX (1982), both also directed by Kuei Chih-Hung, as well as many unofficial ones. While the first 35 minutes are rather tame, taking time to set up the phony murder and deception, the remainder of the film is a goofy delight (screenplay by the director and Tan Chin-Hua), as the tone suddenly shifts from dead serious to outright lunacy. Workers at the mansion piss their pants (one guy dispenses so much pee, it's insane!); Sau Ying appears as a vampire (one worker notices she doesn't cast a reflection in a mirror and is then chased around the mansion by someone wearing a white horror mask that spews large amounts of blood from its mouth!); skinned frogs and snakes appear out of nowhere; Sau Ying chases her husband around the house with a meat cleaver; Yeung beats a nosy local traveling merchant to death with his cane, only to discover that he is still alive when he tries to bury him (which leads to a funny and suspenseful chase with a bloody denouement); Sau Ying's disembodied head scares the shit out of a monk, who is nearly strangled by Sau Ying's severed arm; some surprising full-frontal nudity when Leung hires a female wizard to rid her of Sau Ying's ghost (which involves nude body painting and ear-rippings); and lots of other gory goodness. The finale is as ridiculous as they come (think twins), but it just adds to the film's over-the-top charms. If you are a fan of Hong Kong weirdness (and if you're not, you should be!), add this film to your must-see list. Also starring Han Kuo-Tsai and Yu Tsui-Ling. A Celestial Pictures DVD Release. Not Rated.

HITZ (1988) - "What time is it? It's time for the hitz!" Weird story about child gangs in L.A. that tries to be a biting social commentary while mixing in some over-the-top humor. It doesn't quite gel as the comedy elements seem out of place next to (and within) scenes of extreme violence. A beautiful, yet ulcer-ridden, Juvenile Court Judge Chelsea Walker (Emilia Crow) tries to cope with her job and her relationship with wheelchair-bound social worker boyfriend Jimmy Sollera (Francesco Quinn). She catches presiding Judge Callow (Elliott Gould) hypnotizing and feeling-up his court stenographer Tiffany Powers (Karen Black). When he is unable to snap Tiffany out of her hypnotic state he is arrested and forced to leave the bench. His replacement, Judge Jackson (the late Thalmus Rasulala), is a child-hating judge who thinks all kids who commit crimes should be tried as adults. This leads to a head to head confrontation between him and Judge Walker, who thinks kids are a product of their environment and can be changed if taken away from that environment and placed in a loving home. Chelsea is also under Dr. Henry Silver's (Sydney Lassick from THE UNSEEN [1980] and SONNY BOY [1989]) orders not to get too excited as her ulcer could kill her. This is not easy, as people are shot in her courtroom, people she cares about are viciously murdered and people she trusts (including Gould) continually let her down. Things come to a boil when a child witness she is protecting is hunted down by a street gang for giving evidence in a trial. Many people die before the story reaches its finale and there is a semi-happy ending. Strange humor abounds in director William Sach's (THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN [1977]; GALAXINA [1981]) screenplay. Judge Jackson, complaining of a bad Mexican meal the night before, asks the courtroom if anyone has any Pepto Bismol. He is offered Tums, Rolaids and Alka Seltzer but refuses them all saying, "What kind of courtroom is this?" This happens right after he sentences a child (who kills Gould with a stun gun after he observes him raping an underage girl in his charge) to stand trial as an adult. Black (in what amounts to a cameo role) returns to the courtroom after her hypnotic trauma dancing to "Mary Had A Little Lamb", slits her wrists and starts shooting up Judge Walker's courtroom with an Uzi. Gun violence is very prominent in this film. A girl, who douses herself and her newborn baby with gasoline, is shot in the head. A child is shotgunned. People are blown away for no reason. This is an uneasy film that would have worked better if the comedy elements were eliminated. Unlike most badfilms, the humor here is intentional making it a tough film to judge. Also starring Ed Lauter as a trigger-happy cop who gets what he deserves in the film's violent conclusion and a cameo by a very young Cuba Gooding Jr. as a cop testifying in Judge Walker's courtroom. New rap music was added to this 1988 film for its 1992 home video release. A Vidmark Entertainment Release. Rated R.

HOMEBODIES (1973) - Here's a very interesting and unique premise: When their apartment building is condemned, a group of elderly tenants band together and begin killing all those they deem responsible for their situation (The poster art tagline reads: "A murder a day keeps the landlord away!"). At first, the silver-haired old fogies sabotage a highrise construction site down the street, messing with a cable that hauls steel girders, which snaps, killing a construction worker who was riding a girder to the top (One worker says, "Call an ambulance!" to which another replies after seeing the body, "Why bother?"). The octogenarians hope that accident will delay their eviction, but when it doesn't, they get more creative. When the callous Miss Pollack (Linda Marsh) shows up with eviction notices for everyone and expects then to vacate the premises immediately, the tenants, led by blind Mr. Blakely (Peter Brocco; TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE - 1983) and feisty, prune-eating Mattie (Paula Trueman, who is probably best known as the no-nonsense Grandma Smith in Clint Eastwood's THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES - 1976), make sure she knows in no uncertain terms that they are never leaving. Miss Pollack retaliates by turning off everyone's electric, gas and water, so the tenants fight back, first sabotaging the construction site's elevator, which kills three more construction workers. It forces the site to close down, which pisses-off the site's owner, Mr. Crawford (Douglas Fowley; BLACK OAK CONSPIRACY - 1977), who is also the new owner of the tenement building. When Mr. Crawford spots the elderly Mr. Loomis (Ian Wolfe; THX 1138 - 1971) giving the tenement building a new coat of paint, he sends Miss Pollack with the police to forcibly remove the old farts to their new digs: a colorless, lifeless retirement home. Miss Pollack notices that not all the tenants made the move, so she returns to the tenement building later that day and gets a butcher knife rammed into her stomach by Miss Emily (Frances Fuller), a slightly senile old woman whose father originally owned the building (Miss Emily repeatedly talks to an urn containing her father's ashes as if he were still alive). After getting rid of Miss Pollack's body (they push her down the street in a wheelchair and dump her body over a bridge into the coal car of a passing train), the geriatric set concentrate their attention towards Mr. Crawford, whom they capture and encase in a block of wet cement that is used as one of the foundation pilings of his highrise building. Alas, all this hard and dirty work does nothing to solve their problems, as another bigwig takes Mr. Crawford's place and pretty soon Mattie begins killing her elderly friends to keep them from talking to the police. It seems that even at a ripe old age, people can lose their moral compass and begin killing for self-serving reasons.  This biting black comedy, directed/co-written by Larry Yust (TRICK BABY - 1973), has much to recommend. First and foremost, the cast of veteran old timers (which also includes Ruth McDevitt and William Hansen), pull off the seemingly impossible task of making their characters sympathetic and downright deadly at the same time. Particularly effective is Paula Trueman as Mattie. The sequence where she has to get rid of Miss Pollack's car is a thing of beauty. She hasn't been behind the wheel of a car in over forty years and as she haphazardly drives the car, nearly hitting a young boy (who sticks his tongue out at her) and getting into several accidents, you can see the wonder in her eyes as she views sections of Cincinnati, Ohio (where this was filmed) that she hasn't seen in nearly half a century. The emotions she conveys with just her eyes says more than ten pages of dialogue ever could. Since this film was made in the 70's, don't let it's PG rating deter you. There are several grisly scenes, including Miss Pollack's stabbing (not only do you see the knife entering her stomach and the blade exiting out her back, you also see a close-up of Mattie pulling the knife out) and Mr. Loomis chopping off the toes of Mr. Crawford's foot when he finds his shoe sticking out of the concrete foundation (That is the scene I best remember when watching this on TV in the mid-70's). While there are a few funny deaths (the wrecking ball crushing a man taking a shit in a Porta-Potty being one of them), HOMEBODIES takes a deadly serious tone in the finale when Mattie begins killing her oldest and dearest friends, which forces Mr. Blakely, Mr. Loomis and Miss Emily to deal with her on her own terms. The sight of three elderly people chasing Mattie in paddleboats in a park lake sounds comical, but I assure you it's anything but. The film concludes on a totally satisfying note that's surprising as well as goosebump-inducing. I won't spoil it for you here. This is an unsung classic from the 70's that is must viewing for fans of macabre cinema. Director Yust only directed one other feature after this, the screwball comedy SAY YES (1986). Also featuring Kenneth Tobey, Wesley Lau, Norman Gottschalk and Joe De Meo. Released on VHS in the mid-80's by Embassy Home Entertainment and still awaiting a legitimate DVD release. Rated PG.

THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS (1976) - Director Pupi Avati (BALSAMUS, MAN OF SATAN - 1970; HOUSE OF PLEASURE FOR WOMEN - 1976; ZEDER - 1983; ARCANE SORCERER - 1996) always took unusual subject matter and put them in even more unusual films, many of them unclassifiable. This is one of those films. Even though it is weird beyond belief, it is also a highly enjoyable film, full of mystery, suspense and humor, with a dollop of bloody gore that should satisfy horror fans and those addicted to unusual films. But this is not a horror film, in fact, I'm not sure what genre this film belongs in, but I know what I like and this film hits my sweet spot. I'm not really sure how it did that, but if a film makes me think long after it is over, it must be special.
     The film opens with a tied-up naked man being stabbed over and over with a knife while we hear a man whispering, "My colors...They run hot in my veins...So soft, my colors...My colors are soft, like Autumn. They are like fresh blood...They are smooth, like syphilis. And they...they get into people's eyes, contaminating everyone. My colors. They flow through my veins. My Lord and they get far...far away. Yes they go far. One must die for them. Oh my Lord. I must purge myself, get them out. Out...Purity. These are my colors. All my colors. Son of a bitch. Here we come my Lord. I feel death coming. He's dying. I need purity. I need to be pure. Keep him still." Then the tied-up man dies. You may think these are the words of a madman and you would be correct, but by the time this film is over, those words will make perfect sense.
     We then see Stefano (Lino Capolicchio; THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW - 1978) taking a ferry to a very small village on a very small island. He is met at the drop-off point (the island is so small, it doesn't have a dock) by the diminutive Mayor Solmi (Bob Tonelli; ZEDER - 1983) and his driver, Coppola (co-writer Gianni Cavina; CREAM HORN - 1981), who is the village drunk. Stefano is on the island to restore a church fresco of the martyr Saint Sebastian, painted by an artist named Buono Legnani. Mayor Solmi tells Stefano that Legnani died twenty years ago and he never finished the fresco. The Mayor hopes the restored fresco will attract tourists, the lifeblood of this small island during tourist season. It seems Legnani had a reputation of being a madman, something Stefano will become all too aware of as he works restoring the fresco. Also new to the island is the pretty Francesca (Francesca Marciano; a co-writer of the excellent Italian thriller I'M NOT SCARED - 2003), who was on the same ferry as Stefano. They shared some knowing glances at each, even though they are complete strangers. Their lives will become inextricably entwined in the days to come.
     Stefano discovers from the church's only priest, Don Orsi (Eugene Walter; THE PYJAMA GIRL CASE - 1977) that the church was once an SS hideout during World War II. He shows Stefano the fresco, calling it "rubbish", but Stefano thinks that a great artist painted it because, "Only a great artist could portray death so accurately." The fresco shows Saint Sebastian with his hands tied behind his back, several daggers impaling his body, blood dripping from the wounds, as two woman stand next to him, laughing.  Don Orsi tells Stefano not to be overly enthusiastic about restoring the fresco and not to expect gratitude from anyone on the island, because he could wait forever for that to happen and it still won't. He also calls Legnani "mad", not elaborating why as he walks out of the church, telling Stefano that he hasn't had breakfast yet.
     Stefano gets a room at the island's only hotel and the first day he is there, he gets a phone call. The person on the other end says, "You must go away. He doesn't love you...Don't touch that painting!" and then hangs up. This won't be the last time Stefano hears that warning. Or is it a threat? One of Stefano's neighbors at the hotel is a female teacher (Vanna Busoni; THE SPIDER LABYRINTH - 1978) who sits down next to him at the island's only restaurant. Stefano's professor and friend, Antonio Mazza (Giulio Pizzirani; BALSAMUS, MAN OF SATAN - 1970), pushes the teacher away from the table and tells Stefano that she's a whore and the school she is teaching at is about to fire her. We also learn that Stefano recently suffered a nervous breakdown, so Antonio got him the job of restoring the fresco, thinking it was good for his mental health. Antonio asks Stefano if he saw the fresco yet and he answers yes. Antonio says it would have been better if he saw it for the first time with him, saying not to discuss it with anyone else because he's discovered the most incredible story about the fresco, which is why he made sure Stefano did the restoration. Antonio doesn't elaborate, because when an elderly restaurant patron shoots Antonio a dirty look, he gets nervous, telling Stefano he has to leave (The teacher yells to Stefano, "Don't worry, he'll take a couple of pills and feel better!"). What is this "incredible story" and why does Antonio think this restoration job was perfect for Stefano?
     Stefano and the teacher become fast friends and soon become lovers. She tells Stefano that if he ever gets lonely, he knows where she lives, but not in the morning, that's when she is teaching the kids (What she is teaching them she doesn't say). Antonio then tells Stefano that if he wants to understand why he thought this job was perfect for him, he needs to take him somewhere, saying it is a house with "laughing" windows and he'll take him there tomorrow (The moment someone says "tomorrow" in a conversation in a film like this, I begin to worry because tomorrow never comes!). Antonio asks Stefano if he knows what "they" use to call Legnani and Stefano says no. "The Painter of the Agonies", replies Antonio. "Imagine when they started to run out of dead people..." explains Antonio, but before he can explain any further, a man on a boat hands Antonio a bottle of murky green water. Then Mayor Solmi appears and Antonio tells him that if he is hoping to catch eels in this river, he's out of luck because there is more war surplus materials polluting the river than there is in CRU storage (Apparently, Antonio is on the island as an ecologist, testing the waters for pollutants). Stefano cuts their conversation short, telling Antonio that he has to get back to work and that he will see him later ("Later" is also a word that sets off a red flag in my mind). Solmi walks back to the church with Stefano, telling him that Antonio would be a nice man if he didn't have such strange ideas in his head.
     While Stefano is restoring the fresco, church employee Lidio (Pietro Brambilla), who acts slightly retarded (laughing all the time), tells him about an "idiot" who liked to play phone pranks. His name was Zanotti and he would phone young women at night and tell them that he had made them pregnant. He was arrested and tried for his crimes. He then warns Stefano to stop making prank phone calls, telling him he better give up because he will never manage it. Stefano has no idea what he is talking about (either do we) and asks Lidio who keeps leaving fresh flowers under the fresco, but he doesn't answer. At the restaurant, Stefano sees the Police Marshal (Fernando Orlandi; MACABRE - 1980) manhandling Coppola, who is drunk. Coppola yells out, "Don't break my balls! You know if I talk...You know if I wanted to...Do you know it or what?" An older gentleman walks up to Coppola and says, "Stop it now, do you understand? Once and for all, you're going to stop it. You know what I mean. Go home now!" and Coppola exits the restaurant (after asking him for a cigarette!). The older gentleman introduces himself to Stefano as Mr. Poppi (Andrea Matteuzzi), the restaurant owner, and apologizes for the ruckus, telling Stefano everyone in the village knows he is restoring the fresco. Small villages like this know everyone's business. He tells Stefano that ever since Solmi came to the village and declared himself the mayor, the village began to change for the better. He hopes that brings good fortune to the village, especially after what that "bad" painter Legnani did to the village. Stefano begins to notice all the grotesque painting that deal with death that adorn the walls of the restaurant, which is not such a good subject to go along with good food. He also notices that they are strikingly similar to the fresco. Could Legnani have also painted them? If they were, why are they hanging on the walls of the village's only restaurant when no one in the village has a nice word to say about him?  Normally I would let you discover the reason why, but I couldn't finish this review unless I tell you. Legnani was a "snuff" painter, that is he would only paint people as they were dying. When he couldn't find any people who were dying, he had another method for painting dead people, something I will let you discover for yourself. What I also won't tell you is why the villagers hate Legnani, but his paintings adorn nearly every business and home in the village. Sharp readers may read between the lines of this review to come up with the answer, but Avati is a savvy filmmaker, dropping subtle clues as the film progresses and I haven't even gotten to the house of the title yet, so here are more clues to make you understand what is going on:

1.Mr. Poppi tells Stefano that the paintings hanging in the restaurant are by Legnani, but they belong to his wife (Flavia Giorgi) and she would rather die than give them up. Stefano has seen Mrs. Poppi several times and she may be the one leaving fresh flowers under the fresco every day. Stefano notices one painting hanging on the restaurant wall that doesn't depict death, it depicts a nude female lying on a couch. Mr. Poppi tells Stefano that it is a self-portrait of Legnani (who couldn't get any women to pose for him, so he turned himself into one butt-ugly woman!), the last painting he did before he switched over to his "Agonies" period. It was the first painting Legnani gave to Mrs. Poppi, but he was already quite mad when he painted it because his body was infected with syphilis! Antonio then phones Stefano at the restaurant, telling him to come over immediately, he's discovered something quite "horrible."

2.Just as I thought, when Stefano walks up to Antonio's apartment building, he sees Antonio fall to his death from his third floor terrace. The Mayor and Police Marshal classify Antonio's death as a suicide, even though Stefano tells them he saw a shadow figure behind Antonio's curtains as he fell to his death. The Police Marshal tells Stefano that Antonio only had one enemy...himself, not bothering to explain what he meant by that.

3.Stefano still gets phone calls telling him to leave the fresco alone, because, "He loves me", only this time we see the caller is Mrs. Poppi.

4.Stefano is kicked out of his hotel room to accommodate a busload of tourist coming over the weekend. Lidio sets him up with a place to stay, a creepy old house hidden in a field. Stefano discovers that a sickly, elderly paraplegic woman (Pina Barione) lives upstairs and that Lidio is supposed to be taking care of her, but what Stefano doesn't know is that someone else is also living there, someone Lidio tries to keep secret from him.

5.The old lady acts glad that Stefano is living there and when he checks up on her the following morning, he discovers freshly-picked flowers in her room, which is strange since Lidio hasn't been there for a couple of days. He also discovers a huge fresco on the ceiling of his room, looking strikingly similar to the fresco he is restoring. (He also discovers that the hotel owner lied to him. There is no busload of tourists coming for the weekend, at least according to the hotel's chambermaid).

6.While he is restoring the fresco, Stefano gets the feeling someone is watching him. He also discovers that when Legnani could get no living models to pose for him, he used his arm as a palette in order to get the right "colors" for flesh tone.

7.One night, Stefano checks up on the old lady and finds that she is not in her room, so he searches the house looking for her. He discovers an ancient recording device and plays it. A man voice whispers, "Colors. My colors...", just like what we heard in the beginning of the film, only now it has much more meaning. Stefano seems to understand what the voice is saying, putting him on edge. Could this be Legnani's voice?

8.Stefano goes to the teacher for some female companionship, only to discover she doesn't live there any more, Francesca does. She is replacing the fired teacher and becomes Stefano's new "friend" (if you know what I mean). He discovers that inside Francesca's refrigerator, it is crawling with live snails (!) and he tells her not to eat them because they are probably contaminated with pollutants. Francesca eventually lives with Stefano at the creepy house.

9.Don Orsi, Lidio and Mrs. Poppi hold a makeshift funeral for Antonio in the church, surprising Stefano as he is restoring the fresco. Lidio tells Stefano that he put a live mouse in Antonio's coffin to "keep him company"! (Earlier, Lidio tells Stefano that he eats mice and that they are tasty if they are cooked correctly!).

10.Don Orsi and Stefano go fishing and he tells Stefano that the village was never the same after WWII ended. Ever since then, the village tried to forget about its past (as collaborators with the Nazis), but it has been a long hard road. When Stefano asks him about the old paraplegic woman, he tells Stefano he doesn't know too much about her since he doesn't like going to that house (not bothering to explain why, which is like some disease in this village!), but he heard the woman was a paraplegic due to a venereal disease! (Don Orsi refuses to talk about Legnani, but when Stefano mentions his name, the priest hooks an eel!).

11.When Stefano returns to the house, he finds Francesca listening to the voice recording. He also notices she carries a cigarette lighter with Legnani's initials engraved an it and she tells him it was a gift to her a long time ago. They then have dinner and sex (in that order).

12.Stefano gets Coppola drunk, so he spills the beans on Legnani, telling Stefano than Legnani once left the village to go live in Brazil, but when he didn't find fame and fortune, he came back to the village with his two sisters. Coppola tells Stefano a story when he was eight years old (told in flashback) and Legnani came to visit his dying mother, painting her portrait as she lays dying. It was the first of Legnani's "Agonies" paintings. Stefano hopes that Coppola would be able to identify Legnani's voice on the recording, but when he goes to play it, he discovers that Francesca "accidentally" erased it.
     Think you have all the pieces put together? There's one cracker jack of a denouement I can't tell you, for if I did, it would ruin one helluva surprise you never saw coming (Hint: Legnani's sisters are alive and well. You may think you know who they are. You would be right about one of them, but the other was a complete surprise, even to me!). You will also discover what the house of the title has to do with all of this. I was shocked at the revelations and you should be also.
     This is simply a haunting movie about a village holding deadly secrets. Director Pupi Avati, working with a screenplay co-written by himself, his brother Antonio Avati (who produced many of Avati's films), Gianni Cavina (who co-stars as Coppola) and Maurizio Costanza (ZEDER - 1983), fills the film with stunning visuals, every scene looks like one of Legnani's paintings. The journey of discovery as to why Legnani's paintings are displayed throughout the village even though no one has a single nice word to say about him, is a journey well worth the trip. It is something you won't forget for a long, long time. It's like a vivid fever dream and that's a recommendation, nothing negative implied. Even though people in town refuse to elaborate on their feelings, this film doesn't. It a trip well worth your time. If you like your films weird, yet understandable, this is the one you should locate. It's quite unlike anything you have ever seen before, but you won't regret watching it. Yes, it is that good.
     Shot as LA CASA DALLE FINESTRE CHE RIDONO ("The House With The Windows That Laugh"), this film never received a U.S. theatrical or VHS release, making its first appearance on these shores as an uncut, widescreen DVD in Italian with English subtitles from Image Entertainment in 2003. This DVD is long OOP and hasn't been updated in the U.S. since then, which is a shame. I had to order a DVD-R from Rogue Video and this is the first DVD-R from them I was disappointed with. It is a fullscreen print with tiny white, hard-to-read English subtitles. The fullscreen print compromises Avati's sumptuous visual compositions, but beggars can't be choosers, so until some enterprising company releases an updated DVD or Blu-Ray (are you listening Arrow Video?), this DVD-R will have to do for now. Also featuring Ines Ciaschetti, Paolo Gramignano (CALIGULA - 1979) Carla Astolfi and a blink-and-miss-it cameo by Zora Kerova (ANTHROPOPHAGUS - 1980) as a restaurant waitress. UPDATE: There is a nice widescreen version of this film on YouTube, but the English subtitles provided leave a lot to be desired. They change some scenes completely with their wording and it just doesn't seem as mysterious (or good) as the fullscreen version on DVD-R. Still, it is wonderful to look at, as the camera setups are beautiful. Not Rated for so many reasons you should see for yourself.

HYSTERIA (1997) - In 1997, surrealist Dutch director Rene Daalder shot two films back-to-back. The first one was the widely distributed and wonderfully unique sci-fi/horror comedy HABITAT, which was released on both VHS & DVD, as well as having many TV showings. The second film was this one, which sat on the shelf since 1997 and had no distribution of any kind either theatrically or on home video until boutique label Cult Epics picked it up for distribution on DVD & Blu-Ray in 2014. This was one of my most anticipated releases for nearly 20 years and I'm glad to report it was worth the wait. I don't know the real story of why this film was held off for so long (from rumors that it was unfinished to rumors that the processing lab was holding the film until their bill was paid), but Daalder is best known for directing the cult film MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH (1976) and the indescribable POPULATION: 1 (1986) and is also known for making one film every ten years (his next film was the bizarre documentary HERE IS ALWAYS SOMEWHERE ELSE in 2007), so to direct and write two films in one year is quite the feat for Daalder. I remember reading about it in FANGORIA back in the day and couldn't wait to see it, but I waited and waited with no news; nothing but rumors. It is also the final live action feature for actor Patrick McGoohan; (SCANNERS - 1981), who retired from acting in 1998 after doing a couple of TV appearances (including COLUMBO [1971 - 2003]; one of a few actors to put in four appearances as a villain and even directing four episodes of the series) and being called out of retirement in 2002 to voice an animated film before passing away early in 2009. This film contains some of Rene Daalder's best dialogue and the plot is about as "out there" as a film can get. Daalder has a really unique world-view and this film showcases it to great effect. The film opens in typical delirious Daalder fashion, where Dr. Dan Wyatt (Mark Bromilow) comes bursting through a door in an insane asylum, holding his neck, while Dr. Harvey Langston (McGoohan, with unkempt white hair) and his wheelchair-bound assistant Myrna Malloy (Amanda Plummer; SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER - 2004) yell at the retreating doctor "Run, little rabbit, run!" and "Everyone is with him and all eyes are upon him!" as if there is no escape. We watch the manic Dr. Wyatt run outside (while he imagines a crowd of mental patients chasing him) and takes off in his car, but a short way down the road his left arm and right arm act like they belong to different people. He hears, "You are not alone!" while his right hand tries to drive the car off the road. like it is possessed by someone else. While his left hand tries to take control of the car, he also hears, "All for one and one for all" (it will make sense shortly) and the right hand wins, almost causing a head-on collision and making the car to flip over. While hanging upside down, Dr. Wyatt's hands battle over a Zippo lighter while gasoline flows into the car. Again, the right hand wins, as the lighter is flicked and the car explodes. What caused a well-respected psychiatrist to go so insane? The police determine that is was due to Dr. Wyatt being drunk, but fellow colleague and friend Dr. Samuel Fry (Michael Maloney; LUNA - 2014) doesn't buy it, telling his soon-to-be ex-boss Dr Andrew Miller (David Francis) that his dead friend despised Dr. Langston and once called him a "mad scientist" for the methods he uses on his patients (Dr. Miller says this about Dr. Langston: "A renegade psychiatrist forming a mysterious cult, sequestered away in a hidden mountain retreat. How romantic!"). The clinic that Dr. Fry is now working at is closing and Dr. Miller wants him to become a colleague at "The Brain Spa", a new psychiatric treatment center financed by Bob Biccardo (Louis De Bianco; the end credits lists his last name as "Corrado", but everyone is clearly saying "Biccardo"), but Dr. Fry believes the new techniques that are going to be used at The Brain Spa are just a fad and may be dangerous for the patients (Dr. Miller replies, "It's big in Japan!"). Mr. Biccardo asks the Oxford-trained Dr. Fry why he left England (Biccardo tells Fry that he attended Oxford for one semester and calls himself a "summa cum fuck-up") for the States and Dr. Fry says, "The truth is, Mr. Biccardo, there are a lot more mental patients in America", which infuriates Dr. Miller since Mr. Biccardo is his cash cow. Dr. Fry has scruples and believes that every patient deserves the same level of care no matter what is in their bank account and tells Dr. Miller that he is going to work at a free clinic, but Dr. Miller and Mr. Biccardo have more nefarious plans for him. Dr. Miller tells Fry that his patient, Veronica Bloom (Emmanuelle Vaugier; SAW II - 2005), is being freed (Dr. Miller sarcastically says, "And free yourself in the process!"), but Dr. Fry doesn't believe she is ready. The clinic has already been emptied of most patients, who are sent to live with their families and when Veronica asks Dr. Fry why no one has come for her, he reminds her of the "incident" which sent her here. Veronica pitches a fit and says that she will let the voices in her head destroy her unless she can go with Dr. Fry. Dr. Fry decides to take her to Dr. Langston's clinic, but first he takes her to a picnic at the beach to see how she reacts to being out on her own. It ends badly when Veronica has some ants crawl on her and she strips topless and jumps in the water. Dr. Fry jumps in after her, but she tries to stab Dr. Fry with a corkscrew, forcing him to sedate her with a drug in a hypodermic needle. They drive to Dr. Langston's clinic and are greeted by wheelchair-bound Myrna, as an orderly takes a still-unconscious Veronica to her room. This is exactly what Dr. Miller and Mr. Biccardo wanted to happen, since Biccardo's son Bobby (Joseph Wynne), a bad stutterer, is a patient at the clinic and Dr. Langston refuses to release him to his family. Veronica was the perfect pawn (Chess does play an important part in this film) to set their plan in motion on getting him released. After noticing that the clinic is badly underlit (Myrna says that Dr. Langston purposely keeps the clinic dark because he believes "Sickness is like a mushroom. Shine too much light on it and it retreats into the woodwork."), Dr. Fry meets the obviously demented Dr. Langston, who shows him a collection of his patients. It seems that he has surgically inserted electronic transmitters behind their left ears in hope of creating one universal consciousness, or as Langston calls it, a "group mind", since he believes religion, normal therapy and drugs are useless. That night, Dr. Fry decides to investigate the asylum on his own (there are no bars on the windows and the front door has no locks), where someone behind one of the doors says, "I know you are out there. I can smell you!", a nymphomaniac bares her breasts to him, Myrna is forcing butch patient Blair (Joanne Vannicola) to dance around in a tutu and he sees Veronica being wheeled into an operating room, where Dr. Langston inserts an electronic transmitter behind her ear. Dr. Fry cannot stop him because a patient speaking gibberish is performing martial arts moves in front of the operating room door. When Blair (who speaks in rhyme or swears like a truck driver) tries to rape Dr. Fry in his room, he is saved by Dr. Langston, who recommends that he locks his door every night. Dr. Fry meets Veronica the next day and she seems like a changed woman. He also meets Bobby for the first time at Langston's insistence, since he believes Fry was sent here to take Bobby away. Fry assures Langston that he has no idea what he is talking about. Dr. Fry then watches one of the strangest group therapy sessions ever committed to film, as Langston plays the bongos and all the patients (including Veronica) dance around the room. When Dr. Fry tries to stop the session and is forced to punch one of the male patients in the face, he discovers that all the other patients feel the same pain, as if he punched them all in the face, too. Langston sedates Dr. Fry and implants a transmitter behind his left ear. He wants Dr. Fry to experience what all his other patients do and if he still wants to leave in 24 hours, Langston will remove the transmitter and gladly let him leave. Myrna holds her nightly "dance therapy" session, where Dr Fry, for the first time, discovers that he can dance fantastically with Veronica as his dance partner. That night, Dr. Fry and Veronica make love and we see all the patients feel the same erotic desires (Myrna talks throughout the whole act) and they all climax at the same time (The whole scene is as surreal as a film can get). It seems that Dr. Langston has truly created a "group mind", where everyone feels the same desires and emotions in equal measure. Langston's hope is to make the entire world a better place to live using his technique. Things go horribly wrong when Mr. & Mrs. Biccardo and Dr. Miller show up at the asylum and Mr. Biccardo demands that his son be returned to him since his stuttering hasn't gotten any better (Biccardo has also been financing this asylum!). Dr. Langston refuses and all the patients begin to stutter, while Dr. Fry strangles Dr. Miller and the rest of the inmates surround Mr. & Mrs. Biccardo. Dr. Fry discovers that it is Myrna, not Dr. Langston, who is the driving force behind this asylum (We watch as Myrna gets up out of her wheelchair dressed in a gold leotard and does the strangest interpretive dance your eyes can bear!), so Dr. Fry grabs Veronica and tries to escape the asylum (There's a funny scene where Fry kicks one of the inmates in his balls and all the other inmates, including the female ones, grab their crotches in pain). After some kung fu fighting between Dr. Fry and Blair (the martial artist who speak gibberish shares his knowledge with Myrna), the couple escape in his car and drive to the nearest police station. While Veronica sits in the car unresponsive (Myrna tries to take over her body, but she is too far away), Dr. Fry discovers that Sheriff Grierson (Lorne Brass) is working in cahoots with Dr. Langston when he sees a chessboard with the pieces in the same position as the one in Dr. Langston's office (they are playing the game by phone). When Dr. Fry is unable to wake up Veronica, he has no choice but to return to the asylum, where he makes a horrible discovery: When he originally brought Veronica to the asylum, she was brain dead and in a coma thanks to an allergic reaction to the sedative he injected into her when she tried to kill him with the corkscrew. The only way she is able to survive is to stay at the asylum and use the "group mind" technique. It is also made clear that when he was making love to Veronica, he was actually making love to Myrna, who used Veronica as her puppet. Dr. Langston ends up dead when Dr. Fry pushes Myrna and her wheelchair down the stairs and the wheelchair strikes him in the head. A series of events happen when the Sheriff discovers Dr. Miller's dead body in the trunk of Dr. Fry's car, but when he enters the asylum all the patients explain to him what happened in verse, even Mr. & Mrs. Biccardo, who were not killed but had the transmitters implanted in their heads (therefore letting them spend all the time they want with their son). They blame both the deaths of Dr. Miller and Dr. Langston as the result of an argument they had with each other. The next thing we see is that Dr. Fry has taken over the asylum (this way he can be with Veronica forever, even though he knows that Myrna will be pulling her strings) as a line of taxis are at the asylum taking some of the patients away to the free world in hopes that "group mind" will infect the rest of the world. We then see a martial arts school, where every student has an incision behind their left ears. Maybe Dr. Langston wasn't so mad after all?  This is a weird and wonderful film that contains some excellent performances, especially by Patrick McGoohan and Amanda Plummer, who deliver some of Rene Daalder's dialogue with aplomb. (Example: "You can't run. It's like trying to hide from your shadow."). There's also plenty of nudity and foul language, but no blood or gore, because the terror here is of the psychological kind and you won't miss the red stuff one bit. The whole film looks like it was photographed a little off-kilter, as if to make us feel the same way the patients do in the asylum. Daalder proves he is great at dialogue and fills the film with black humor, such as when Myrna tells Dr. Fry, "I won't stand for this!" and Dr. Fry replies, "Oh, you won't stand for anything!". The only negative about the film is that the print Cult Epics uses for the DVD & Blu-Ray is sometimes scratchy (especially the sequence where Dr. Fry enters the police station), but my guess it was the best they could find since this is listed on the cover as the "Director's Cut". Still, this film is an amazing find and worth your time and effort to make part of your film library. Rene Daalder is one of the most unsung filmmakers of the past 40 years and this film is now one of my favorites. My highest recommendation. Also starring Gregory Hlady, Ralph Allison, Sam Stone, Lynn Snelling, Susan Glover, Rodrigue Proteau, René-Madeleine Le Guerrier, Gaétan Gingras, Robert Higden and Jocelyne Zucco as Mrs. Biccardo (who flashes her breasts at the Sheriff when he visits the asylum). A Cult Epics Release. Not Rated.

THE IGUANA WITH THE TONGUE OF FIRE (1971) - This is one of those "What Went Wrong Here?" films. It has a cast of seasoned pros familiar with the giallo genre, a director known for making quality films spanning many genres and a screenplay that touches on many of the ingredients that make giallo flicks so appealing. So why did this film turn out so badly? What went wrong here? Read on for my explanation. But first, a brief rundown of the plot:
     After a street tour of the city of Dublin, Ireland (shown during the opening credits), we are in the country home of some unknown woman, who is home alone as night approaches. Only, what she doesn't know, she is not alone, as we see someone in dark glasses and wearing black gloves (what else?) is secretly watching her. When she tries to use the phone, the woman discovers that the line has been cut and the black-gloved stranger pulls one of the fuses out of the house's fusebox, causing all the lights to go out. The woman tries to run outside, only to be met at the front door by the stranger, who throws acid in her face and then cuts her throat with a straight razor (yes, it is overkill, but it is really graphic!). The next morning, a chauffeur pulls up to the house, where the snooty Mrs. Sobiesky (Valentina Cortese; THE EVIL EYE - 1963) hands him some packages and tells him to put them into the boot (trunk) of the car. Her young son Bernard opens the trunk, discovering the the body of the dead woman, wrapped in plastic. We then discover that the house belongs to a Mr. Sobiesky (Anton Diffring; SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT'S EYE - 1973), who is the Swedish Ambassador to Ireland. Mrs. Sobiesky goes to call the police to report the murder, but she is surprised to see her husband in the house, as she thought he was away in Switzerland. The Ambassador pulls the phone out of her hand and calls his embassy, telling them to send someone over (telling his wife that this is "consulate business"). When his wife asks what he is doing home, he tells that he decided to come home early, but the look on his wife's face tells us a different story. A doctor  shows up to look at the dead body, the Ambassador asking him if he is able to identify the woman. The doctor tells him no, whomever killed her knew exactly what they were doing ("A specialist, I would say. Like me.", says the doctor with a smirk on his face). Is it possible that the Ambassador knew the dead woman?
     Someone then mails police Inspector Lawrence (Arthur O'Sullivan) the dead woman's passport, where he discovers she was from Holland. The Inspector mentions to his assistant that before the Ambassador came to Ireland, he was Ambassador to the Hague (a place in the Netherlands that is the seat of the International Court of Justice). His assistant wants to question the Ambassador, but the Inspector says no, it will take a lot more evidence to question a man of his stature and they will be lucky if he will let them question his staff. His assistant wants to know how they should proceed with the case, the Inspector saying, "You'll find out." They drive to the Ambassador's house and they watch as the Ambassador abuses his butler, Mandel (Renato Romano; THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS - 1972), over a simple thing as lighting his cigar! The Inspector asks the Ambassador if he knew the woman and he callously says, "Which woman?" The Inspector reminds him about the dead woman found in the trunk of his car and asks again if he knew her. Once again his answer is callous: "After one glance and, quite frankly, I didn't feel like taking a second one, the lady seemed to me...utterly unrecognizable." He then mentions to the Inspector that the murderer may be a woman and when the Inspector asks him why he would think that, he says, "Well, why not? It's just a thought." The Ambassador even goes as far as to suggest someone put her body in the trunk of his car to create a scandal, as a person in his important position is ripe to be subjected to false allegations, his not-so-subtle warning to the Inspector to back off, but the Inspector is not falling for it. (Yes, the Ambassador is a piece of work. He thinks that his position puts him above the law.). The Inspector asks if he can question some of his staff and the Ambassador says yes, but not at his house, take them to the police station for questioning. The Inspector does just that, bringing the staff to the station for some intense questioning. The chauffeur, who wears dark glasses because he has conjunctivitis and his eyes are sensitive to light, couldn't act more guilty if he tried, the Inspector catching him in some lies and calling him on them. He mentions to the Inspector that the Ambassador has just left the country, but that, too, is a lie. Did the Ambassador tell the chauffeur to lie to make him look guilty?
   We then discover that the Ambassador has a mistress (Dominique Boschero; WHO SAW HER DIE? - 1972), a singer in a nightclub who is blackmailing him. He shows up in her dressing room, wearing a trenchcoat and dark glasses, telling her that he is not going to pay her any more money. A short time later, she is found dead in her dressing room. Also at the nightclub are the Ambassador's daughter, Helen (Dagmar Lassander; THE FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION - 1970) and ex-police detective John Norton (Luigi Pistilli; YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM... - 1972), a brutal cop with a mysterious past. John offers Helen a ride home on his motorcycle and she accepts, inviting him into her home (the Ambassador's house) and they then make passionate love. It doesn't take a genius to realize that the Inspector hired John to keep an eye on the Ambassador, his family and staff, but the film tries (rather unconvincingly) to make us believe he is there for another reason.
     That is the problem with this whole film. It treats the audience like mindless idiots and tries to force-feed us false evidence to make us believe that every male and female character in this film is the killer. The way it does it to the audience is what is so insulting to our intelligence. Every time we see dark glasses or a straight razor, even under the most innocent of circumstances, the film stops in its tracks and the same sound effect is used as the camera zooms onto the sunglasses or razor, much in the same way the sound effects were used when Steve Austin used his bionic powers on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN! If this were a drinking game, you would be sloshed after 15 minutes (J&B Scotch would be preferable, as it is displayed here many, many, times!). The way director/co-screenwriter Riccardo Freda (THE GHOST - 1963; DOUBLE FACE - 1969; TRAGIC CEREMONY - 1972; MURDER OBSESSION - 1981), here rightfully using the alias "Willy Pareto", films the male actors in this film, zooming in on their faces and playing the same ominous music every time to show us their guilt, panders to the audience's lowest common denominator, which is insulting to those of us who would rather figure out who is guilty and who is innocent based on the way the story progresses. That is this film's biggest sin, but the backstory on some of the male characters is also risible, especially John Norton's.  The reason why he is an ex-cop is that he murdered his wife's killer. A flashback shows us how he did it, torturing the handcuffed killer in a hotel room and then shooting him in the head, his brains splattering against a wall. But it is not just the men who are problematic, it's the women, too. Helen doffs her clothes after knowing John for about an hour and Mrs. Sobiesky is also a detriment to all females, as the Ambassador yells at her, "Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!" when she threatens to spill the beans of his affairs to the Inspector if he doesn't treat her son Bernard with the respect he deserves (Truth is, Bernard is not his son!). The biggest groan came from me during the finale, when John has the killer cornered and is about to shoot, but he has his flashback again, showing us that he didn't shoot his wife's murderer, the killer shot himself in the head! I mean, how can you excuse that? This whole film plays like some unintentional comedy, with really graphic violence (the blood flows rather freely, especially on the close-ups of slit throats) and bouts of explicit nudity (both male and female). The red herrings are so obvious, it's comical and the reveal of the real killer is a kick in the nuts to all real fans of giallo films, as the person who did it was never integral to the plot (and his image is all over the ads for the film!) Freda tries to get our minds off the absurdities of the story (supposedly based on author Richard Mann's novel "A Room Without Door", but no one has ever heard of the author or the novel!) by tossing in such unusual sights  as a bloody decapitated cat's head in John's refrigerator (John still lives with his mother!), a bobsled accident (!), a woman who tries to commit suicide by slicing her throat while taking a bubble bath and a bunch of other things unrelated to the convoluted plot (screenplay by Freda and Alessandro Continenza [LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE - 1974]). For a real laugh, you have to listen to the Inspector's story about stepping on an iguana, which is related to the film's title. It makes me want to re-evaluate Freda's career, as I always though he was a director of good-to-great films. I guess every director is entitled to one bad film, but nothing as bad as this one is!
     Filmed as L'IGUANA DALLA LINGUA DI FUOCO (A literal translation of the review title), this film never had a U.S. theatrical, legitimate VHS or disc release and, according to the IMDb: "When the German Co-Producer Artur Brauner saw the finished film, he decided to skip a theatrical release in Germany, just due to the quality of the film, which he wasn't satisfied with." It's very easy to see why he came to that conclusion. As a matter of fact, Germany didn't see this film for nearly 40 years, until it was officially released there on DVD. Since this film never saw an official VHS or disc release in the United States, the only way to see it is via the DVD-R offered by Sinister Cinema. The widescreen print is slightly washed-out (it is too yellow in some scenes, but that has nothing to do with it being a giallo film!), but it improves as the film progresses. It seems to be uncut, but it is hard to tell considering that the film has basically been unseen in the U.S. for years. It's bloody as hell, though. I guess that is the best thing I can say about the film, but that is in no way an endorsement. Also starring Sergio Doria (DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973), Ruth Durley, Niall Toibin and Werner Pochath (THE CAT O' NINE TAILS - 1971) as Marc Sobiesky, the Ambassador's brother, who is the killer (I know that I never give away the identity of the killer in my giallo reviews, but this film doesn't deserve my respect!). Not Rated.

IN THE FOLDS OF THE FLESH (1970) - As escaped convict Pascal Gorriot (Fernando Sancho) is evading the police, he spots Lucille (Eleonora Rossi Drago) disposing of her dead, headless husband's body on the grounds of the castle she lives in with her son Colin and step-daughter Falesse (We don't know how the husband was killed, but we do see Mom and the kids standing over the dead body, the head lying a few feet away from the torso). The police surround the castle and capture Pascal (they almost catch Lucille in the act of buring the body), yet he keeps his mouth shut on what he just saw (including watching Lucille sending her husband's motorboat driverless into the ocean, making it look like he disappeared in a boating accident). Thirteen years pass and it's plain to see that Lucille and her now-grown kids are one fucked-up family. Besides Falesse (Pier Angeli, here billed as "Anna Maria Pierangeli") and Colin (Alfredo Majo) having a none-too-subtle incestuous relationship, it's even obvious to the casual observer that the entire family is psycho crazy. A family friend named Michele visits the castle with his dog and they both lose their lives rather quickly. The dog finds the grave of Daddy and begins digging it up, so Colin strangles the dog with his bare hands. Michele tries to rob Falesse of some jewelry, so she stabs him in the back with a dagger. Lucille and Colin dispose of Michele's body with a nice acid bath. A friend of Michele's named Alex comes to the castle the next day and ends up decapitated with a sword after he removes Falesse's blonde wig while they are making love (A flashback reveals that her father molested her often when she was a child). We also learn that Falesse has a twin sister named Ester (also played by Angeli), who is in an insane asylum in Zurich, Switzerland. Pascal, who has just been released from prison, shows up at the castle and blackmails the entire family. After making them dig up the grave of their murdered husband/father and only finding the corpse of Michele's dog, an angry Pascal holds the family at gunpoint, rapes both Lucille and Falesse and makes Colin shine his shoes. Pascal doesn't realize who he is dealing with, though, and he's eventually murdered in a unique way while taking a bath. Things take a really strange turn when someone claiming to be Lucille's late husband shows up at the castle and we finally learn the truth of what really happened on that day thirteen years earlier. There are quite a few more twists and turns ahead, but you really have to pay close attention if you want to keep up. As you'll soon find out, no one is who they pretend to be, so you may want to keep a scorecard handy to sort it out. Seriously, I'm not kidding!  From the opening minutes, where the first image we see is a decapitated corpse, a spoken word (as well as on-screen) quote from Freud and a disjointed timeframe that seems to have been done on purpose, you know that you're in for something special. The film just gets weirder as it progresses, as it tosses in incest, rape, a pair of vultures kept in cages as pets, a truly distasteful Nazi flashback that results into an even more amazing deadly bubblebath and trippy visuals and editing techniques that come straight out of a 60's LSD film. Toss in numerous decapitations, acid baths and a general sleazy tone and what you get is a surreal familial dynamic that would make the Addams Family quake in their boots. Director/co-scripter Sergio Bergonzelli (PIG'S WORLD - 1978; MERCENARY SQUAD - 1987; BLOOD DELIRIUM - 1988) constantly keeps the viewer off-balance, introducing new characters up to the very end, only to dispose of them just as quickly in gruesome ways and zig-zagging left when you think he's going right. The finale is a bit too much, as it piles on revelation-upon-revelation (This family has more secrets than Heinz has varieties) until your head spins, but it's never boring and contains some truly demented sequences as well as a surprising bit of full-frontal female nudity, unusual for a film made in 1970. IN THE FOLDS OF THE FLESH, an Italian/Spanish co-production, is a one-of-a-kind experience that should be a top priority for fans of weird cinema. Co-star Pier Angeli, who was once the lover of James Dean and was married at one time to singer Vic Damone, committed suicide the following year after starring in the awful horror film OCTAMAN (1970). She left a note saying that Dean was the only man she ever really loved (Ouch, Vic Damone!). Also starring Emilio Guiterrez Caba, Maria Rosa Sclauzero, Victor Alcazar, Giancarlo Sisti, Gaetano Imbro, Luciano Lorcas and Bruno Ciangola. Available in a watchable, but far from perfect, widescreen print on DVD-R from Luminous Film And Video Wurks and on VHS from British label Redemption Films. Not Rated.

THE INTRUDER (1975) - This is a long-thought lost horror film whose only print was found in a storage facility on the outskirts of the Mohave Desert. Just that fact alone, makes this a wonderful discovery and the print on this Blu-Ray looks sharp and superb. (Just a word of warning; Since actors in this film have character names, I use their real names unless their character names are constantly repeated.) A group of sleazy-looking people (Including Chris Robinson; STANLEY [1972], Robert Leslie, Phyllis Robinson [Chris' real-life wife], George De Vries, Buddy De Sarro, Patricia Hornung, Warren Siciliano and Yvonne De Carlo; AMERICAN GOTHIC [1987]) take a boat skippered by Captain Jenkins (Mickey Rooney; THE MANIPULATOR - 1971) to an island mansion where they were invited by the mysterious Mr. Peterson, who told them he found a crashed plane on the island containing a fortune in gold that he wishes to share with everyone. Don't you believe it. Captain Jenkins gives an evil smile when he sees the group walk into the mansion and radios-in that he will be back at home base in 14 hours. The group find a note from Mr. Peterson saying he was delayed and he will see them soon. The group bicker among themselves, arguing whether Peterson actually has the gold and decide to search the mansion for it. Since these people don't trust each other, do you think if they found the gold that they would announce it? Don't count on it. A little bit later in the film, Captain Jenkins makes it back to civilization, hops in his car and drives to a lighthouse. He goes inside and walks up the spiral staircase to the top, where someone with big hands and a very muscular arm chokes Captain Jenkins and smashes his head through a window. Later on the police find him floating in a fish storage tank. At the same time Captain Jenkins is killed, De Carlo is found dead in her bed with her throat punctured with two holes.. Mr. Alexander, the mansion's butler is found in the same condition in the mansion's elevator. We then see that the entire mansion is bugged and someone is listening to everything that is being said. Another male member of the group is found hanging upside down with his throat punctured. Still another sweaty male member is approached by the killer (He dangles his crucifix in front of him like the killer is a vampire!)  and he is choked and thrown out his bedroom window (all we see are the killer's eyes and sharp people will know who it is immediately). The sweaty dead man's body disappears from the mansion's grounds so no one can see his body. Mr. Peterson (Ted Cassidy; POOR PRETTY EDDIE - 1973) finally shows up, his face all bloody and he doesn't say a word. One of the last two women in the group is attacked in her bedroom when a huge arm smashes through her locked bedroom door (The film's most effective scene) but he runs away when the male members hear her screams and run to protect her (Robinson wildly fires a pistol and then tells everyone he was never a good shot!). All the group knows is that the killer has big feet! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out, but one of the male members accuses the obese Mr. Marsatti (De Sarro) of wearing oversized shoes to throw everyone off! Mr. Peterson disappears again , so the remaining male members of the group search the woods for him, where Marsatti watches a member of the group drown in a lake and he smiles (Why?) The woman who was attacked in her bedroom is drowned in the bathtub while taking a bubble bath and the remaining two men accuse Marsatti for her death. Marsatti proves quite proficient in the martial arts and he and another male member get into a fight that leads from the mansion to a shed full of bags of fertilizer. They both die when they fall on the same pitchfork. Mr. Peterson and the last remaining woman (Phyllis Robinson) turn out to be lovers and he confesses that he killed no one. Meanwhile Robinson finds the sweaty man's body lying on top of drums of gasoline and finds a fuse, if lit, would burn the entire mansion down (This scene make no sense , except to show someone discovers the sweaty man's body). Robinson discovers Peterson kissing the woman and the chase is on. Peterson traps Robinson in the kitchen, but he electrocutes Peterson with a trap he rigged and finds that Peterson was carrying the lost gold in a vest he wore under his shirt (No wonder he walked so slowly!). Robinson finds a boat and takes the woman and the gold back to civilization. The woman finds a knife and goes to stab Robinson in the back, but the boat hits a wave and she falls out of the boat and drowns. The police inform Robinson that Peterson had a twin brother (which is how Captain Jenkins and De Carlo could be killed at the same time) and then we see Peterson's twin brother with a high-powered rifle pointed at Robinson and the boat. He fires and the film ends with a shot of Robinson's blood (it looks like maple syrup! All the other blood in the film is bright red.) splashing on the baat's steering dash. This proto-slasher film never got theatrical distribution (Those expecting lots of blood will be disappointed), but there is an excellent and funny 2008 interview with Chris Robinson (who is still alive, but gray-haired and very handsome; He also directed, wrote and produced [with Joe Chilbana] this film; Cinematography is by Jack McGowan; CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS - 1972; DEATHDREAM - 1972), where we learn that Gene Corman gave Robinson $29.00 to create the beast in the film BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE (1959) and that he has a terrific memory of his career (except for this film, which he barely remembers, but said it led to him directing episodes of Quinn Martin TV series in the 70's, such as CANNON [1971-1976]). Robinson remembers nearly all his TV acting gigs and also tells us how nighttime TV has changed over the years (In one funny moment, his cat can be heard meowing at his feet, so he picks him up, introduces him to everyone and tells us that his cat considers himself a dog.) Robinson also tells us that his best acting teacher was Tom Laughlin (BILLY JACK -1971)! New kids on the block Garagehouse Pictures should be proud of the work they are doing releasing "lost" films that most people have never heard of, including Zoltan G. Spencer's THE SATANIST (1968); The new-to-me THE DISMEMBERED (1962); the recent, but never released NINJA BUSTERS (1984) and three volumes of rare exploitation trailers called TRAILER TRAUMA (one of them runs almost 7.5 hours!). People need to support their efforts, so we can see some more films we never heard of before. I wish all Blu-Rays were this entertaining. A Garagehouse Pictures Blu-Ray release. Not Rated, but there is nothing really objectionable here. Just 70's filmmaking at its weirdest. More than a few people will notice an ADDAMS FAMILY (Ted Cassidy as Lurch) /THE MUNSTERS (Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster) connection here, one of the few films to have that.

KAMILLIONS (1989) - If you are a fan of truly weird cinema, this is the film for you. It's colorful, outlandish, funny, sexy, scary and, above all, entertaining as hell. Overweight scientist Nathan Wingate (co-scripter Harry S. Robbins) creates a machine in his laboratory that allows him to view a parallel universe "occupying the same sub-atomic space as our universe". Nathan is constantly interrupted in his lab by his nagging wife Nancy (Laura O'Malley), who reminds him that guests are arriving for their son Sam's (Dan Evans) birthday party. Teenager Sam spends most of his time fawning over the image of Jasmine (Dru-Anne Cakmis) on his computer and on a poster he keeps hidden in his closet, but he realizes that she is just an image of a woman he will never meet (much like the teens and their posters of Farrah Fawcett in the 70's). Sam helps his father finish-up in the lab before the party starts and Nathan sends him to Miskatonic University (!) to pick up a waveform amplifier because he needs more power for his machine. As guests begin arriving for the party, including Nathan's bitch-of-a-sister Angelica (Kate Alexander) and rich cousin Count Desmon (Christopher Gasti), Nathan looks through the portal to the parallel universe and spots several small creatures scurrying about the landscape. After making a comment that looking through the portal is like looking through "a window to Heaven", Nathan is painfully sucked through the portal ass-first (like being sucked through a hole in a spaceship in outer space) and the small, tentacled slug-like creatures, called Kamillions (a take-off on the word "chameleons"), escape into our universe and infest the Wingate mansion. One of the creatures attaches itself to Desmon and duplicates him, while another creature becomes trapped in Sam's bedroom and transforms itself into the image of Jasmine. When Sam finds the naked Jasmine in his bedroom, he thinks best friend Alex (Andrew Ross Litzky) hired a look-alike stripper as a birthday present, yet Sam treats her with respect. The alien Jasmine tells Sam to trust her and that she is looking for someone, while the alien doppelganger Desmon entertains the party guests with gravity-defying tricks, eventually making Angelica believe her teacup is full of cockroaches and making the mouth of ex-male escort-turned-reverend Larry Newman (David Allan Shaw) fill with blue goo. The alien Jasmine confesses to Sam and Alex that she came through the portal with another, more-dangerous alien and she must capture him and both return to their world before the portal is closed. Sam works with Jasmine to try and bring alien Desmon back to the lab, but there are obstacles in their way (the main one being that the alien Desmon is really nothing but a bratty ten year-old alien child and the alien Jasmine is his babysitter!) before the two aliens can return home and everything can return back to normal. Well, as normal as the Wingate family can ever hope to be.  This low-budget unclassifiable film, sort of a cross between David Cronenberg's THE FLY (1986) and Stuart Gordon's FROM BEYOND (1986), with a healthy dose of intentional humor, is the kind of flick that you will either love or hate, leaving very little middle ground. Director/co-scripter Mike B. Anderson (listed here as "Mikel B. Anderson"), who also gave us the bizarre comedy ALONE IN THE T-SHIRT ZONE (1986) and directed many episodes of TV's THE SIMPSONS, offers many off-beat set pieces, including Reverend Larry's penis turning into a snake-like alien (the film's alien effects are decidedly low-rent, but somehow work within the film's confines), which he chokes with both hands (I laughed hard) before it bites him on the face. There are many more comical/horrific scenes, such as when Angelica's fox stole comes to life; Desmon shoving a phone receiver down the throat of Sam's abusive sister Linda (Allison Rachel Golde); Desmon turning Angelica into a spider (it's a hoot, as well as being creepy as hell); Desmon shoving Alex's entire body into a tiny fishbowl (drowning him!); Desmon's attempted rape of maid Emma (Lynn Applebaum); and many others. If you like your films as far south of weird as humanly possible, then KAMILLIONS should be right up your alley. All others are forewarned. Originally two hours long, the film was edited-down to 91 minutes by the Asian investors. Supposedly, the original edit will be released on DVD sometime in the future. Also starring Chuck Bartelle, Jeff Robins and Marc Hayden Bryman. Also known as THE WINGATES. Originally available on VHS from SBM Video (never heard of them before). Not Rated.

KILL BY INCHES (1999) - Here's something you don't see very often: An art house horror film. Thomas Klamm (Emmanuel Salinger) works at his father's tailor shop, where his father (Marcus Powell) is a cruel, domineering man, but a master tailor. Unfortunately, Thomas is not such a great tailor because he has a severe problem correctly taking down his customers' measurements, an inadequacy that his father belittles every chance he gets. It's as if the measuring tape is Thomas' worst enemy. The sudden appearance of his sister Vera (Myriam Cyr), who is definitely Dad's favorite sibling, throws Thomas' life into a spiral of madness. Like her father, Vera is also a master tailor and can tell a person's measurements by just looking at them. Also, like her father, Vera has a cruel streak and when she learns of her brother's deficiency with a tape measure (She says to him, "A real tailor can take measurements by eye!"), she belittles him endlessly in front of customers. It doesn't help that most of Thomas' customers have the oddest shapes and deformities this side of a Charles Addams drawing (extremely obese; exceedingly long arms, etc), but Thomas still soldiers on in hopes of perfecting his craft. It gets to the point that when he looks at anyone, all he sees are numbers, but those numbers are usually always wrong. When customers begin complaining about Thomas' work and Vera has to fix them, Thomas slowly goes mad. The questions to the viewer are these: Is everything Thomas sees real or is it all in his mind? Is the annoying sewing machine repairman, Hector (Christopher Zach), having an affair with his sister? Does he even exist at all? When Thomas starts noticing that his customers are now going to rival tailors, he begins killing them, starting with young boy Albert (Nicholas Tafaro), who complained that the pirate costume Thomas made for him was cutting off circulation to his hand. Thomas then turns his deadly intentions towards his sister. He disposes of all her asthma medication (At least I think it's asthma medication. It's a thick, black viscous liquid that Vera secretly inhales in the bathroom when she doesn't think Thomas is looking.) and when she passes out, he wraps her in measuring tape and safety pins, making her look like some weird mummy. He then goes to the annual Tailor's Ball, where he wins the competition, yet all his father has to say to him is that maybe next year his sister will show up, win the competition and make him proud. What does a son have to do to win his father's approval, get a sex change?  Before anyone starts jumping down my throat, let me begin by saying that this film is not for everyone. Hell, I'll even go as far as to state that this film is not for 95% of the movie-going audience. This is an extremely slow, deliberately paced psychological chiller that takes it's own sweet time to get to the payoff. This is also a well-made independent film (partially financed by the Independent Film Channel), directed/produced/scripted by Arthur Flam and Diane Doniol-Valcroze, who would later write the screenplay for the horror film PENNY DREADFUL (2006). The film is relatively (though not completely) dialogue-free until the Tailor's Ball finale, where Thomas must face-off with other tailors by guessing the measurements of various models that they have never seen before. It's a surreal experience that can't be properly explained with mere words. I guess "surreal" is the best way to describe the whole film, as the people appearing in it don't look or act quite like any human beings you're ever liable to meet and the entire film has an otherworldly, yet familiar, look to it, like David Lynch shot a film set in the 1950's but left some modern-day items on view in the background just to throw us off. It's very disarming and creepy, especially with the ambient music soundtrack that drones in the background of nearly every scene and Thomas constantly eyeing that sharp spike that protrudes from the tailor shop's wall. Though not for everyone's tastes, KILL BY INCHES is a relatively oddball and effective little psycho flick for those who care more about mood than blood and guts. According to the IMDB, the only previous credits Mr. Flam and Ms. Doniol-Valcroze have before this are a series of short films they directed in the 90's. I, for one, will definitely check out anything they make in the future because they have a signature that's hard to duplicate. Available on VHS & DVD from Fox Lorber Films. Not Rated.

KING OF THE ANTS (2004) - This strange film by Stuart Gordon, rewards the patient viewer. This is not a horror film, so those looking to rent it for the horror aspects (including the nifty, if deceiving box art) are bound to be disappointed, even though there are horrific images on view. This begins like a standard thriller where down-on-his-luck housepainter Sean Crawley (Chris McKenna) is propositioned by electrician "Duke" Wayne (a terrific George Wendt) to come and work for his boss Ray Mathews (Daniel Baldwin). Ray asks Sean to follow Eric Gatley (Ron Livingston) around town and report Gatley's movements back to him. Sean follows Gatley around on his bike (!), taking pictures and notes. He spies on Gatley's wife, Susan (Kari Wuhrer) and begins to fantasize about her. While sitting drunk in his car, Ray asks Sean to kill Gatley for $13,000. Sean agrees and kills Gatley in his home (a real disturbing scene that ends with Sean dropping a refrigerator on the refusing-to-die Gatley, who keeps repeating, "There's someone at the door."). As a precaution, Sean takes some incriminating papers from Gatley's briefcase, which point to Ray's involvement in Gatley's death. When Ray refuses to pay Sean for the hit, Sean tells Duke that he has a folder that will fall into the right hands if he is not paid. This is where things get weird. Sean goes through long, goosebump-inducing torture scenes at the hands of Ray, Duke, Carl (Lionel Mark Smith) and Beckett (Vernon Wells) which involves golf clubs, foam rubber and a locked shed in the desert. Sean never gives up the folder and it begins to seem like he looks forward to the next torture session. He has hallucinations of Susan, at first sporting a penis and then as some deformed monster that eats her own shit. Sean escapes with the help of his friend George (Timm Sharp) after killing Duke by taking a giant bite out of his neck. Sean goes to the homeless shelter where Susan works, where she nurses him back to health and eventually takes him home, the same home where he killed her husband weeks before. Then things get even weirder....... To give away the rest of the film would be doing a total disservice to the viewer. This remarkable film is a disturbing look of how a seemingly normal person can shift gears and become something that we would rather not dwell on. Everyone involved in front of the camera does a terrific job (even the usually routine Wuhrer excels here), but George Wendt (who is also a co-producer) steals the show, shedding his Norm image from the CHEERS (1983 - 1993) TV series, portraying a mean-as-dirt goon (with what looks like a bad case of facial sunburn), who has no patience for disobedience.  Director Stuart Gordon (DAGON - 2001) takes an obscure novel (screenplay and novel by Charles Higson) and turns it into a film devoid of morals and it works thanks to his always-peculiar spin on the human condition. KING OF THE ANTS may not be for all tastes, but I found it an exhilarating ride on the wild side, a side that too few films are willing to take. Filled with grotesque images and brutal violence, I was surprised to find out that it was passed with an R-rating without any cuts. Go out and rent or buy this film! Viewers who liked this film are encouraged to seek out Gordon's EDMOND (2005; with a screenplay by David Mamet) and STUCK (2007), two non-horror films with the Gordon brutality gene fully intact. A DEJ Productions Release. DEJ was a defunct label once owned by now-defunct Blockbuster Video, but don't hold that against this film. Rated R.

LADY STREET FIGHTER (1978) - Renee Harmon and director James Bryan strike again. Harmon, who starred in and produced Bryan's THE EXECUTIONER PART 2 (1983) and HELL RIDERS (1984) and starred in other films such as FROZEN SCREAM (1981) and NIGHT OF TERROR (1986), tops all these films in sheer badness and total unbelievability. This is one brutal 73 minutes to sit through. When Linda Allen (Harmon) hears that her sister is killed (we see the sister tortured in the beginning by being tied to a table topless and having her hands whacked with a pool cue) by a league of hitmen called Assassins, Inc. (No, really!) looking for a master file containing all the hitmen's names, she flies to L.A. to seek revenge. Realizing that they have killed the wrong sister, they try to kill Linda at the airport but she gets away after shooting a driver/assassin and stealing his car. Corrupt FBI Agent Rick Pollard (Joel D. McCrea Jr.), who has ties to Assassins, Inc., is sent out to stop her, but finds himself falling in love with her. The rest of the film contains copious nudity, very badly staged car chases, gun fights and kung-fu fights, an orgy where a murder mystery party takes place (and a murder actually happens), bad post-sync dubbing (why, oh why, didn't they dub Harmon's thick German accent?) and an ending which is so lame that you shake your head in disbelief (check out that toy burning house!). It even promises a sequel at the end credits, which thankfully never happened. While most reference materials list this film as being made in 1985 and there is no production date in the credits, I seriously doubt it as the fashions and cars on display clearly put it in the mid-to-late 70's era. Liz Renay shows up in a cameo doing a strip routine and the music soundtrack is a direct rip-off of Ennio Morricone's score of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966). Also starring some unknown named Trace Carradine (an obvious pseudonym), who gets a sword rammed through him by Harmon after he tries to make her give him a blowjob ("Take off my pants bitch!"). Director James Bryan is best known for directing the bloody, goofy film DON'T GO IN THE WOODS (1981; which LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT actor Vincent D'Onofrio turned into a musical horror film in 2009!!!)), which stands head-and-shoulders above anything else he has made and that's not saying much. Renee Harmon left acting and took up writing books on auditioning for movies, surviving as an actor and film producing and directing before passing away in 2006. I've been dying to see LADY STREET FIGHTER for years. Now I wish I just died. In 1985, director Bryan re-edited this film and added new footage (both film and SOV) over the course of seven years and released it as RUN COYOTE RUN, which is a sort-of sequel to LADY (Harmon portrays Anne, the sister of Linda Allen, who is also a psychic police officer!), but it is very hard to find and is surreal as hell. It makes the pastiche films of Godfrey Ho look downright professional in comparison. A Unicorn Video VHS Release. Also available on widescreen DVD as part of Rare Flix Triple Feature Vol. 3. Not Rated.

LION MAN (1975) - Turkish genre films have become quite popular lately. Not because they're good, mind you, but because they are crazy, off-kilter and defy description. For a long time, grey market boots of Turkish versions of STAR TREK ("Turist Omer Uzay Yolunda"), THE EXORCIST ("Seytan"), SUPERMAN ("Superadam"), STAR WARS ("Dunyayi Kuraran Adam") and even THE WIZARD OF OZ ("Aysecik Ve Sihirli Cuceler Ruyalar Ulkesinde") have been floating around in fuzzy third generation dupes. LION MAN was one of the first Turkish films to get a legitimate VHS release in the States and it's a hoot. King Solomon and his pregnant queen have their kingdom overthrown by his scheming second-in-command. Solomon manages to block the door so the Queen can escape (He refuses to move from the door, even after being run-through several times with swords. He eventually relents when they cut both his hands off!). The Queen dies giving birth in the middle of the forest and the child is raised by lions! Lion Man (Major Turkish star Cuneyt Arkin, billed here as "Steve Arkin"), now all grown-up, looks to win back his kingdom by killing all the enemies of his father. This entails swinging from vines, uprooting trees with his bare hands and beating people to death with them and roaring like a lion (he can't speak) while using his hands like lion paws to rip the faces off his enemies. Along the way, he falls in love with a patriotic farm girl, even though she stabs him a couple of times. Eventually, he will get into a final showdown with his father's killer. Expect lots of blood and flying body parts. LION MAN is enjoyable trash, even if it's for all the wrong reasons. First off, the dubbing is atrocious, as all the voice talent speak in a monotonous drone and it's never more noticable as when the Queen goes into labor or when Lion Man's girl tries to teach him English (he picks it up quickly). You'll be in stitches. Secondly, the music score is wildly inappropriate. Most of the music cues seem to be lifted from romance movies as the orchestras hit those crescendos usually reserved for when people kiss. The only problem is that they play it during the battle scenes. The film is also full of hilarious dialogue. You'll hear lines like: "That's King Solomon's bitch!" or ""Lock her up until she dies!" and "What do you want you lousy bitch?" Let's not forget the outrageous action scenes where Lion Man and his new fighting force (one guy looks loke Robert Tessier) maim, mangle and generally decimate anyone who stands in their way. You'll marvel at people who are mortally wounded that still fight as if it were only a scratch, well-placed trampolines and poles that Lion Man (who's now a gymnast!) uses to jump, spin and flip over his enemies. The "choreography" used in the fight between Lion Man and his half brother is better viewed than described. Let's just say that if you don't laugh, it's quite possible that you were born without a sense of humor. Director Natuch Baitan tosses in enough graphic bloodshed, including gut-spilling, stabbings, appendage removal, face-rippings and acid burnings (Lion Man loses the use of his hands to acid, so he simply has the blacksmith fashion him a pair of steel claws "bigger and sharper than a lion's"!) to make this a must-see for fans of gory shenanigans. The sight of Lion Man scaling a castle wall with his new hands is a sight to behold. Recommended viewing for those who like it weird. Followed by an inferior sequel titled LIONMAN II: THE WITCHQUEEN (1979). Also starring (all names Anglicized) Barbara Lake, Charles Garret, Alison Soames, Tim Jackson and Natasha Moritz. A Best Film and Video Corp. VHS Release. Not Rated. For more info on the zany Turkish film scene, read Pete Tomb's excellent tome Mondo Macabro.

MANIA (1974) - "When the dark shadows of the night obscure our vision of the world, only then will the mysterious abyss of the unconscious unleash the uncontrollable forces and no one will know where reality ends anymore." Extremely strange Italian genre film that's part psychological thriller, part horror (mixed with a little science fiction) and 100% weird, directed by Italy's master of the perverse, Renato Polselli. This film is so rare that Italy declared it a lost film in 1978, a mere four years after it was given a limited theatrical release in Italy. It wasn't until after Polselli passed away in 2006 that a print was found in his personal collection, the only known existing print in the world and it was transferred to DVD, which then was copied to torrents sites and YouTube (which is how I saw it). This film deserved more exposure, as it is horrific, delirious and, yes, manic and it is bound to please anyone looking for something unusual and "out there".
     The film begins with Lisa (Eva Spadaro) and her fiancé Lailo (Isarco Ravaioli; Polselli's THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO SATAN - 1972) having an argument in a car while Lisa is driving way too fast down a twisty mountain road. Lailo thinks that Lisa is driving herself crazy over the death of her husband, Professor Brecht (Brad Euston; Polselli's QUANDO L'AMORE E OSCENITA ["When Love Is Obscenity" - 1973], another lost film, only this time it was banned outright by Italy. All that exists of the film is a 1980 re-edit done by Polselli.). Lisa loved her dead husband very much, as flashbacks show us how the Professor was more interested in his experiments than his marriage, showing Lisa how he was able the freeze a bee in mid-flight, telling her that in the not too far-off future, he will be able to cure any disease, even cancer, when he perfects his experiments. Lisa doesn't care about that, she just wants her husband to spend more time with her and love her. To make herself feel better (or how she puts it "to curse love"), she starts having an affair with the Professor's twin brother Germano (also portrayed by Euston). The Professor's pretty young assistant, Erina (Mirella Rossi; Polselli's HOUSE OF LOVE...THE POLICE INTERVENE - 1978), secretly loves the Professor and knows about Lisa's betrayal, but doesn't tell him because she doesn't want to hurt his feelings. One day, when the Professor comes up the stairs to give Lisa a bouquet of flowers (he may have perfected his experiments), Erina tries to stop him because Lisa is outside making whoopee with his brother and she doesn't want him to see it. The Professor becomes enraged with Erina, taking the plastic bag containing the flowers and putting it over Erina's head, forcing her to pass out, blood from her mouth filling up the bag. He then goes up the stairs and sees his wife with his brother, but he's surprisingly calm. It turns out that when he put the plastic bag over Erina's head, it caused her to go deaf and dumb (!), so he spends all his free time with Erina, feeling guilty on what he did to her and ignoring Lisa completely. Of course, this pisses off Lisa even more and shortly thereafter, the Professor's laboratory catches fire and the Professor is trapped in the lab, Lisa refusing to open the metal gate to the laboratory for Germano (she has the only key) so he can save his brother. Germano finds an alternate way to get into the lab and drags his brother out of the lab, but it is too late, he's dead and his body is still burning. To make matters worse, Germano is seriously injured, his hands and face hideously burned and he will eventually have his legs amputated.
     Back in the present, Lisa notices a white car following them, the same car she nearly crashed in to when it was sitting in the middle of the road. Lailo tells her to let the car pass, which she does, only when she looks in the car, no one is driving it! The driverless car then stops in the middle of the road around a hairpin turn and Lisa nearly crashes into it again, but Lailo grabs the wheel and steers them to safety. The car begins following them again and Lailo once again tells Lisa to let it pass, which it does, only this time the car stops at the side of the road and Lisa and Lailo stop their car, get out and take a look inside the driverless car. The driverless car tries to run them over, but fails and then takes off. Lailo says that only one man could make a car do that, but he's dead (Lailo was the Professor's assistant at the university). When Lisa and Lailo get home, friend Katia (Ivana Giordan) says a strange man came to the door to deliver a package for Lisa. Lisa opens the package and inside it is a miniature coffin, an exact replica of the coffin the Professor was put in, which now rests in the basement of his villa. Lisa then goes totally mental and has to be hospitalized. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Lous (Max Dorian; KIDNAP SYNDICATE - 1975), tells Lisa that if she wants to live a normal life she will have to confront her demons (Lisa may have killed her husband), saying that she has to spend time in her dead husband's villa to fight those demons. And fight she will.
     To make matters worse, Germano also lives in the villa, now legless and in a wheelchair, his face and hands scarred by fire, yet he still pines for Lisa. Also still living there is Erina, still deaf and mute (She spends the rest of the film dressed only in a man's red shirt, no panties or bra!), her only pleasure is going down the basement to fondle the Professor's coffin!. Germano's only pleasure in life is torturing the poor Erina, whipping her with a cat o' nine tails and running her over in his wheelchair! What Lisa goes through is better seen than described, but I'll try to make it quick and concise.
     As soon as Lisa sets foot in the villa, the shit starts hitting the fan and the film begins to go off the rails. In her bedroom, she sees the visage of her dead burned husband walking towards her outside on the patio, telling Lailo what she saw. He goes to look, finding black shoeprints on the patio leading to Lisa's bedroom window, but he tells Lisa they look old, as if they were there for a while. Lisa then tells Lailo that she doesn't want him staying at the villa. If she is going to get better, she has to do it alone, so Lailo leaves (but we will see him again). Lisa begins to see her dead husband everywhere, sometimes burned beyond recognition and sometimes normal, but he always cries out, "Lisa! Lisa! LISA!" (It becomes comical after a while, as we will hear him say that more than a few times in this film). The question soon becomes: Is Lisa going crazy or is there another explanation? Luckily (?) for Lisa, Katia has come to the villa to take care of her on Dr. Lous' orders. But is Katia actually trying to help Lisa or does she have more nefarious plans? You'll be asking yourself that very question, as Katia seems to take pleasure in seeing Lisa go mad. Poor Erina is being treated worse than a dog by Germano, but why does Katia moan in pleasure when Germano runs his burned hands over her breasts? And why is Lailo creeping about the villa grounds at night? Don't worry, all your questions will eventually be answered, but first you are going to experience some very strange goings-on in and around the villa, such as Erina and Katia having a naked catfight on Lisa's bed (that eventually turns into a lesbian encounter!) and Lisa getting covered in netting and then being attacked by eels (you have to see it to believe it!).
     Warning: SPOILERS!!! Do not read the following paragraph if you do not want to know how the film ends! It seems that Germano isn't Germano at all, but Professor Brecht! Yes, he perfected his experiments and was able to reverse the damage that happened to him in the fire and heal himself (I know it makes no sense, as we saw him nothing but a dead crispy critter, but just go along with it). The Professor tricked out the house with all manner of 3-D projectors and holograms, which he controlled with a remote control he hid in the wheelchair, all for the sake of driving Lisa mad (He blames Lisa for trying to kill him). When Lailo comes to the villa the following morning, he finds Katia dead, her bloody body outside Lisa's bedroom (Lisa sliced Katia to pieces with a broken wine bottle) and watches helplessly as Lisa commits suicide by jumping off the roof of the villa (after Lisa bashes him bloody in the back of the head over and over with a candlestick!), her dead body landing in a fork in a tree. When Erina sees Lisa's dead body, she can immediately speak and hear again (her first word is "love"). What happens to the Professor, you may ask? When he sees his plan come to fruition, he pulls out a derringer and shoots himself in the head, his last words being, "Lisa! Lisa! LISA!" He will now spend all eternity with Lisa (probably in Hell, not Heaven), which is all that Lisa wanted. Oh, and Lailo and Erina become lovers! END OF SPOILERS!!!
     This frenetic piece of pop art cinema could have only have come from director Renato Polselli (credited here as "Ralph Brown"), who gave us the equally frenetic and schizoid DELIRIUM (1972) and BLACK MAGIC RITES (1973) and even his much earlier THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA (1960). Polselli's '70s films were always getting in trouble with Italy's censors, most of them getting the most strict rating (18 or over) and some of them being banned outright. Trying to describe this film was a real chore because it is more visual than anything else. I got a definite Carroll Baker (THE FOURTH VICTIM - 1971; THE FLOWER WITH THE DEADLY STING - 1973) vibe from actress Eva Spadaro as Lisa, this being her only film (which is too bad because she is good here). She not only looks like Baker from certain angles, she also acts like her, too. I can picture Ms. Baker in this film as Lisa and nothing would have to be altered to fit her talents. There is also plenty of eye candy on view, as Mirella Rossi runs around most of the time in that red shirt and we patiently wait for that shirt to rise (it does) or come off (that, too). When she and Ivana Giordan get into the catfight on Lisa's bed, it answers any nagging questions you will have as to how far Polselli will go when it comes to showing nudity (The answer being all the way!). There are also plenty of weird visuals on view, including the eel attack (where in the hell did they come from???) and some of the Professor's weird inventions, including Erina being chained up to a piece of corrugated sheet metal and when Lisa tries to free her, the Professor flicks a switch and a piece of glass comes down, pressing against Lisa and Erina's faces, while the sheet metal curls up, acting like a cocoon, engulfing Erina (it's better seen than described). There's also "Germano" trying to run over Lailo with his wheelchair for daring to step on his property. It raised more than a few chuckles from me as Lailo tries to avoid the wheels on the chair from running over his toes (it looks like some twisted dance between Germano and Lailo). The sound of barking and howling dogs fills the soundtrack, but not once do we ever see a dog! And wait until you see the maggot-ridden body in the Professor's coffin! I could go on and on about this little-seen film, but it's better if you search it out and experience it for yourself. Polselli rarely disappoints, as this film will show you.
     The only place I was able to find this film and view it was on YouTube (Thanks for the link, Steve!) and if you want to see it (in Italian with English subtitles), click here: WATCH FILM. Believe me when I say this, this film is a real headtrip. Also featuring Giorgio Dolfin (DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973). The opening credits and all the advertising materials say that the prolific Carla Mancini (FLAVIA THE HERETIC - 1974) appears in this film, but damned if I could spot her. Not Rated. NOTE: What is it with fansubs today? In the past, people offered subtitles to films that never had them before out of pure love, but today, the fansubbers put advertisements in their subtitles, like in this film, where they insert "Drink Coke" during the end credits and then go on to say if you don't want to see ads in the subtitles, to donate to their cause at a special website (and they then go on to say that they are a "not for profit" enterprise!). Has greed taken over the love of films? Nothing is sacred anymore.

THE MANIPULATOR (1971) - Sure, you could dismiss this film as a piece of arty claptrap with an incoherent plot and an over the top performance by Mickey Rooney, but you would be missing the point. It's worse than that.  It is an assault to the senses to any sane person who watches it. I was a babbling idiot for at least four hours after viewing this rare piece of pseudointellectual trash. Here's the story in a nutshell: Demented person B.J. Lang (Rooney), who believes he is the best film director in the world, kidnaps Carlotta (Luana Anders) to star in his latest film. The only problem is that Lang is making this movie in his mind and torments Carlotta every chance he gets. Rooney dresses as Cyrano De Bergerac, puts on red lipstick and blue eyeshadow, sings "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" over and over, and gives orders to imaginary people as he holes up in a cobweb-filled abandoned theater (or meat storage facility, it's that confusing). He makes Carlotta recite lines and sees old naked people prancing around in his mind. Director Yabo Yablonsky (his only directorial effort, thank God, although he had written screenplays for REVENGE FOR A RAPE [1976], JAGUAR LIVES! [1979] and others before passing away in 2005), films the sets with weird camera angles, freeze frames, sped-up and slo-mo photography, non-stop talk and imaginary scenes taken from the mind of Lang (including an orgy). All of this is done to cover the fact that there is just not enough movie here to fill a thirty minute time slot, even though the film runs over 90 minutes. I never thought I would say this in my life: I actually felt sorry for Mickey Rooney and he has made some bad choices in his career (SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER [1991] anyone?). This one (also known as B.J. LANG PRESENTS) is probably the lowest point of his career. It also contains a cameo by Keenan Wynn as a wino, who gets run through with a sword by Rooney. Lucky Keenan. Stay away from this and keep your sanity. I'm sure Yablonsky was shooting for something here, but it either went way above my head or just sucks shit. I choose the latter. Stay tuned for a "What the FUCK???" moment after the credits. This once played as a theatrical double feature with THE CULT (1971), which would later be renamed THE MANSON MASSACRE. A Vestron Home Video Release. Rated R.

MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (1966) - I've been sitting on this DVD of this notoriously bad regional El Paso, Texas-lensed horror oddity for several years (I have never seen it!), because I heard that it should only be watched in a certain "state of mind", but since I've given up most recreational activities (In other words, I'm old and boring), I have decided to watch this film with a clear mind. If I were a religious man, I would ask you all to pray for me, but since I'm not, a pained expression will do. The film opens with a vacationing family; husband Michael (director/producer/screenwriter Harold P. Warren), wife Margaret (Diane Mahree), small pain-in-the-ass daughter Debbie (Jackey Neyman) and pet poodle Pepe, getting hopelessly lost in their car. A couple of cops pull them over for a missing taillight (Michael: "Can't you give us a break, Officer? We are running kind of late." Officer: "If you're running late, you should have started earlier!"), but instead of asking the cops for directions, Michael lets the cops get back in their car and drive away. After a few minutes of badly-shot travelogue footage photographed from the passenger side of Michael's car, Michael makes a wrong turn and ends up on a dirt road he can't seem to find a way to get off of. They finally find a house in the middle of nowhere and stop to ask for directions. They should have kept driving instead. They meet Torgo (John Reynolds, who committed suicide shortly after this film was completed), a twitchy, bearded hippie-like character who dresses like a hobo and walks around carrying a strange staff topped-off with a sculpture of a hand. He introduces himself by saying, "I am Torgo. I take care of the place while The Master is away." (Succinct and to the point. I think I'm gonna like this guy!). When Michael ask Torgo for directions out of this hellhole, Torgo replies, "There is no way out of here!" (He also makes a comment that The Master doesn't like children or small dogs). Rather than questioning Torgo's response, Michael asks Torgo if they can spend the night at the house (Torgo: "The Master wouldn't approve...[awkward long pause]...Very well. The Master will be very disturbed!") and then carries their luggage into the house (John Reynolds is wearing prosthetics that are supposed to be goat's legs and hooves, but he mistakenly wore the prosthetics backwards, giving him one of the funniest fake walks since Monty Python's "Silly Walks" sketch. It's a shame that director Warren never pans the camera down to his feet so we can see the prosthetics, because the pain it caused Reynolds led to his addiction to pain killers, which led to his suicide!). Once inside the house, Michael and Margaret are spooked by a painting of The Master posing with a Doberman pincher with glowing eyes. Margaret is under the impression that The Master is dead, but Torgo quickly interjects, "Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always." (Torgo repeats it several times, just so Margaret understands, but she just blankly stares at him). When Margaret hears howling outside, she begs Michael to "make it stop", so Michael goes outside and grabs a flashlight and pistol out of the car's glovebox (this is Texas after all!), but Pepe gets loose and is torn apart by whatever is making the howling noise (Michael picks up Pepe's lifeless body like it is radioactive and buries it in the desert). Debbie is heartbroken over the loss of Pepe (she shows her volatile emotions by rubbing her eyes a couple of times!), so Michael and Margaret decide to leave, but (surprise!) the car won't start. Torgo tells Margaret when they have some alone time together that The Master wants her as his wife ("He has many wives."), but Torgo puts the moves on her (She begs Torgo to stop in one of the worst acting performances of the 60's and then suddenly agrees not to tell Michael about it!). Things come to a boil when Michael and his family discover The Master (Tom Neyman) laying on an altar with all of his wives (dressed in white flowing gowns) standing around him in a hypnotic trance. Torgo knocks-out Michael and ties him to a post while The Master wakes up from his deep sleep and performs a ritual in front of a statue of Manos. The Master's wives awaken and argue over the fate of Debbie (some want to kill her and others don't), so they all get into a giant catfight! The Master punishes Torgo for his infidelities by burning off his hand (and holding the hand in front of the camera while it burns down to the bone!), while his first wife (Stephanie Nielson) has had enough of his chicanery and pays for it with her life (after The Master slaps her silly!). Michael and his family escape into the desert and then suddenly decide that the best place to hide is back at the house (after Michael shoots at a stock shot of a rattlesnake!). The finale reveals that Michael is now the new Torgo and Margaret and Debbie are The Master's new wives! I almost had a tear in my eye (from laughter, that is!). The film ends with a "THE END?" title card, but I think it's safe to say this is the last time we'll see the exploits of The Master and his gang.  Awful doesn't adequately describe how truly horrible MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (which literally translates to "Hands: The Hands Of Fate"!) really is and if it wasn't for all the hysterical acting, bad post-synch dubbing and simply unbelievable dialogue, this film would be a chore to sit through. Director/producer/screenwriter/star Harold P. Warren was a fertilizer salesman by trade and it's obvious he had no idea how to make a film, as scenes look incomplete, most of the time the camera never moves (except for some zooming-in on objects that have nothing to do with the scene, such as the camera closing-in on Michael and Margaret holding hands when they realize Debbie has disappeared) or is out of focus and the piano and saxophone music score (a faux kind of jazz) is totally inappropriate. Thankfully, the film is only 69 minutes in length (although it seems at least twice as long), so it didn't take up too much of my time. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 devoted one of it's best episodes to this film (which I watched immediately after viewing the film "dry") and can be found on VHS and DVD from Rhino Home Video. It's really the only way to watch this film. Also starring Bernie Rosenblum and Joyce Molleur as two boozing teens in a roadster who keep getting busted by the same two cops that stopped Michael. It seems you can't get all liquored-up and make-out in a car without the cops hassling you! Available on DVD from Alpha Video or from Mill Creek as part of their TALES OF TERROR 50 MOVIE PACK compilation. Not Rated.

THE MANSON FAMILY (1997-2003) - Let me set the record straight: I am a horror enthusiast and have seen some of the most brutal and unflinching films that have ever been released. I usually walk away after they are finished and begin writing a review. I couldn't with this film because I couldn't finish a thought in my head. After this film's 93 minutes were up things kept getting scrambled in my noggin and I walked around in a daze for several minutes before I could compose myself and head off to bed. There, I laid awake all night in fear of closing my eyes. This hasn't happened to me since I was a kid. I was never a big fan of director Jim Vanbebber. I found his DEADBEAT AT DAWN (1988) to be a pretentious, amateurish, rather boring, if extremely bloody, exercise in revenge. Now, after watching his latest film, I'm under one of two opinions: 1) He's one of the best independent directors around and deserves all the accolades he is receiving for this film, or; 2) He's one of the most dangerous and insane men on the planet and should be put away for the rest of his natural born life. Everyone born before 1969 knows the story of Charles Manson. If not, I'm not going to explain it here as you can go out and rent or buy both versions of HELTER SKELTER (1976 & 2004) or THE HELTER SKELTER MURDERS (1970) or countless other films that dwell on Manson (including the seldom-seen THE MANSON MASSACRE - 1976). This film is not his story, but the story of his followers, a bunch of drug and sexed-out outcasts just looking for someone to lead them on a path to glory. And what glory they achieve. When not dropping acid, smoking pot or having group sex, they really have nothing else to do except listen to the crazed ramblings of Manson (played here with extreme minimalism by Marcelo Games). Told as a series of interviews using both film (with fake emulsion scratches) and video, flashbacks and intercut with scenes of four kids in 1996 about to attack a TV studio that is going to run a Manson documentary the next day, THE MANSON FAMILY is a hard film to take your eyes off of. It is also an assault on the senses, both aural (especially if you watch it in 5.1 Dolby Surround) and visual. Filled with shock cuts, bloody violence (especially the final 15 minutes), full frontal nudity and sex (but not pornographic), this is a tragic story about how the end of the 60's came to be known. Before the killings (Sharon Tate is never mentioned here, but you know it's her when she is killed), the 60's were known as the free-love, pot-smoking, anti-war generation, where everything was permissible as long as it felt good. The Manson family changed all that. The story Vanbebber tells is a vivid and mostly true one (the 1996 sections nonwithstanding), told in such an in-your-face way, that you can't help but get involved. All the actors (including Vanbebber as Bobby) are non-pros, whichs adds to the realism and, when the violence does erupt, it is unrelenting. I would give this film a big thumbs-up if I weren't afraid of pissing off the victims' families of Manson's followers (whose names are never mentioned thoughout the entire film, probably due to legal reasons). It's still a powerful document of how people with nothing to look forward to are easily manipulated and how it can still happen today. Jim Vanbebber started this film in 1997 and did not have the funds to complete it. Blue Underground stepped up to the plate and gave him the capital to finish the film. I endorse this film only for people that can handle violence in a realistic way and realize that something like this can (and does) happen all the time. This is a film about the alienation of youth and unless we, society in general, do something about it, history will keep repeating itself over and over. Also starring Marc Pitman, Leslie Orr, Maureen Alisse, Amy Yates, Tom Burns and Michelle Briggs. The soundtrack also contains actual songs sung by Manson. A film hasn't affected me like this in a long, long time. A Dark Sky Films DVD Release. THE MANSON FAMILY is available in R Rated and Not Rated cuts, with the R rated cut missing 9 minutes of footage. Also available in a 1 disc or 2 disc set. If all you want is the film, get the 1 disc set. The 2 disc set contains over 160 minutes of extra material, including interviews with cast and crew and a demented actual interview with Charles Manson. Also known as CHARLIE'S FAMILY. If you think that over 35 years of prison has changed this maniac, think again. He's still a complete sociopath and will never, ever get parole. And remember: "Charlie Can't Surf!" It's Creepy-Crawl time! NOTE: Charles Manson died in prison on November 19, 2017 at the age of 83.

MARILYN ALIVE AND BEHIND BARS (1982/1993) - First a little back-story about this film: In 1982, director John Carr (FUGITIVE LOVERS - 1975; DEATH WISH CLUB - 1983; DEAD GIRLS DON'T TANGO - 1992) started this film but never finished it. Then, in 1985, thirty minutes of this footage (along with condensed versions of DEATH WISH CLUB and the horror film CATACLYSM - 1980) were used in the loony anthology film NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (all three segments were juiced with newly-added stop-motion special effects). Then, in 1993, Carr decided to finish the film, rehiring star John Phillip Law (who looks appreciably older in the new scenes, not to mention that Carr shot the new footage on video rather than film!) and adding a subplot involving a captive Marilyn Monroe (played by Francine York; WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER BOYS - 1972). That film became MARILYN ALIVE AND BEHIND BARS. Then, in 1997, screenwriter Philip Yordan (who wrote MARILYN) ditched the Marilyn footage and compiled his own unauthorized (and unfinished) version, titled it SCREAM YOUR HEAD OFF and sold the VHS rights to Simitar Entertainment, who released it on crappy, unwatchable EP-mode tapes only as part of their "From Academy Award Winner Philip Yordan" series (Yordan died in 2003). The question remains: Is MARILYN worth all the trouble? I guess the answer depends on how you feel about stitched-together films. The film opens with newly-shot footage of halfwit Sidney (Mark Petrich) putting a rose on Marilyn Monroe's crypt and then biking over to Pinewood Sanitarium (where Richard Moll, in 1982 footage, greets him but they are never in the same shot), where he serves a still-alive Marilyn Monroe breakfast in her opulent apartment/prison cell (the walls are decorated with photos and memorabilia of her career, including a candid shot with Robert Mitchum). We then switch to Harry Billings (John Phillip Law; BLOOD DELIRIUM - 1988), as his car containing his wife of one-day flies off a bridge in a terrible accident, killing her. Harry tries to commit suicide and ends up a patient of Pinewood Sanitarium, where the evil Dr. Brewer (Arthur Braham), love-lorn Dr. Fargo (Sharon Ratcliff) and brutish orderly Otto (Moll) give Harry electroshock treatments to keep him in line. They brainwash Harry into becoming their new minion, but when he finds Marilyn's locked door, he steals the keys and meets the real Marilyn Monroe (Or is she?). She tells him a story about a lookalike Marilyn being killed years earlier and she's been locked in this room ever since (probably with the help of the Kennedy family), but Harry is so brainwashed, he refuses to believe Dr. Brewer or Dr. Fargo are bad people. They hypnotize Harry into kidnapping girls just off the bus and bringing them back to the sanitarium, where Dr. Brewer and Fargo "condition" them and sell them to white slavers on the black market. Harry pays more midnight visits to Marilyn and discovers that the doctors are giving her shots to "forget" who she is (on one visit, she tells Harry she is twelve years old!). Things start to fall apart when Harry kidnaps barmaid Verna (Lisa Watkins) and is followed by a mysterious white-haired man. Harry begins questioning his role at the sanitarium (he begins to have terrible nightmares of his crimes), so Dr. Brewer increases his hypnotic injections, but Harry starts to get a conscience and refuses to bring any more girls back to the sanitarium. Can Harry find happiness with Marilyn and escape the sanitarium? Or will the horny Dr. Fargo get Harry all to herself?  The main difference between this version and the versions on NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR and SCREAM YOUR HEAD OFF (besides the obvious Marilyn footage) is that MARILYN ALIVE AND BEHIND BARS deletes the gory black market human organs subplot that is so prominently displayed in the other two versions. Gone is the sequence where Otto is in a big meat freezer chopping up a body as the camera lingers on decapitated human heads and other body parts. As a matter of fact, MARILYN is a rather chaste and bloodless film (we do get to see Otto with the meat cleaver, but the scene is re-edited in a way to convey he's killing an escaped female captive rather than chopping-up an already-dead body), with no nudity, very little violence (we get a quick shot of two severed heads stored in jars, but most of the other violence, including Otto's beheading and a lobotomized Dr. Brewer performing an "operation" on Dr. Fargo, has all been edited out) and no foul language. Considering the subject matter, that's quite a feat. If you can forgive the obvious change in film stock and Law's change in age and hair style from scene-to-scene, you may find some enjoyment here, especially if you have seen the other two versions first. An interesting piecemeal film. Also starring Rick Barnes, Jini Flynn, Charles Parker, Micki Corbin, Peter Creadick and Carla Marlenee. A Trinity Home Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

MICROWAVE MASSACRE (1978) - This bad taste horror comedy has only one redeeming feature: The dry delivery of late comedian Jackie Vernon (he was the voice of the animated Christmas perennial FROSTY THE SNOWMAN [1969], for chrissakes!). Construction worker Donald (Vernon) has a very serious problem: His forever-nagging wife May (Claire Ginsberg) hasn't made him an edible meal in months (his latest box lunch was a whole crab slapped on a roll) and he's getting tired of eating all her mis-prepared meals. He even begins to eat dog food because he thinks it tastes better than May's slop. Things only get worse when May purchases a big-assed Major Electric microwave oven (Model #X1-74A) and cooks Donald faster and even more inedible cuisine (which she pronounces "coo-zine"). Donald fantasizes about killing May until one day he goes too far and actually kills her (he gets drunk at a bar, comes home, spits water on dinner, pisses in the fireplace and caves May's head in with a pepper grinder). He wakes up the next morning and finds May in the microwave and, as a final tribute, microwaves her body on high. He saws up her body into pieces, wraps them in aluminum foil and puts them in the refrigerator next to the other leftovers. One night, he accidentally grabs one of her body parts (thinking it's a leftover) and eats it. He likes the taste and soon he is bringing box lunches of May meat to his construction site. His friends, Rosie (Loren Schein) and Philip (Al Toupe), take bites and Donald's lunches become the hit of the construction site. Soon, he is creating different dishes from May's body parts and serving them to his friends. When Philip mentions that the meat is beginning to taste old and tough, Donald gets the idea that maybe younger women would taste better. He begins bringing prostitutes home and giving them the old X1-74A treatment ("I'm so hungry, I could eat a whore!"). The microwave proves to be Donald's achille's heel, however, as the pacemaker in his chest malfunctions every time he uses the microwave. He can't help his addiction, though, as Rosie and Philip find him lying next to the oven, dead of a heart attack, a full plate of arms and hands sitting in the microwave.  This really is a pretty piss-poor film only made bearable by Jackie Vernon (who actually died of a heart attack in 1987), in a rare filmic outing. Director Wayne Berwick (whose father, Irv Berwick, directed MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS - 1959, HITCH-HIKE TO HELL - 1977, MALIBU HIGH - 1978, amongst others) throws in every cheap sex joke imaginable and only about 10% of it is funny. Thankfully, Berwick also throws in plenty of female nudity to keep your eyes occupied through the slow parts. The acting is uniformly awful from the mostly non-professional cast and even Vernon looks like he's reading off cue cards on several occasions. The gore, such as it is, consists of severed body parts lying on the counter, in the microwave, in the refrigerator or being eaten by the cast, all of it used for comical (?) effect. Things reach the nadir when "dark meat" jokes are made about eating the flesh of a dead black hooker and when Donald's sexy next door neighbor uses a cordless vibrator to dig holes in her garden. Another tasteless bit is when Donald is shown cutting up a Chinese woman (for his "Peking Chick" dish), all you see on the counter is a kabuki wig and a big pair of round eyeglasses. How you feel about this film totally depends on your tolerance for cheap jokes, bad acting and severed body parts. I must admit, I did laugh out loud a couple of times even though I knew I shouldn't. The late Robert A. Burns was art director on this. Also starring Lou Ann Webber, Cindy Gant, Sarah Alt, Phil De Carlo and John Harmon. A Midnight Video Release. Not Rated. "Hello, Coast Guard? Is the coast clear?"

MR. NO LEGS (1979) - This head-scratcher of a film will have you doing double takes (and maybe even spit takes!). This is mainly an action film concerning drug dealing, double crosses and car chases but the title character is so mean and unrelenting that it deserves to be in the total weirdness category. A legless, wheelchair-riding mob enforcer (Ron Slinker) works for his drug-running boss (Lloyd Bochner), killing rivals with shotguns hidden in the armrests of his wheelchair or jumping out of his chair (using his arms!) and karate-chopping or knifing snitches and goons who get in his way. When the daughter of a cop (Ted Vollrath) turns up dead, he and partner Richard Jaeckel (GRIZZLY - 1976) begin to track down those responsible. When they begin to get too close, Mr. No Legs tries several times (quite unsuccessfully) to kill the cops. This worries his boss, who begins to see him as more of a liability than an asset, and orders him snuffed out along with the cops. This does not sit well with Mr. No Legs......  While basically a cops and robbers film, the unusual Ron Slinker, who can't act a lick (this was his only film role), makes you take notice. When he leaps out of his chair (in slow motion), beating people up with his stumps and even jumping into a swimming pool to take on two hitmen, you begin to realize that this is strange stuff. Director Ricou Browning (who played the Gillman in all three CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON films) falters toward the end, when Slinker is killed two-thirds of the way through the film and it turns into a 25 minute car chase (provided by Joie Chitwood and the Danger Angels), where crooked cop John Agar (NIGHT FRIGHT - 1967) races around the Florida panhandle trying to avoid capture. Still, it's not a bad little film. It manages to keep your attention due to the strange subject matter and the frequent bloody fights, stabbings, legless kung-fu and shotgun blasts. Also starring Rance Howard as a sidekick of Mr. No Legs. I picked this one up on DVD-R from 5 Minutes To Live. It's kind of dupey, but watchable. Not Rated.

MOONCHILD (1972) - I really have nothing against arty horror films, but it seems to me that some actual horror should be thrown-in with all the pretentious philosophical dialogue and fancy camerawork, no? After an on-screen quote by Edgar Cayce ("You may not even have to come back at all if you become perfectly developed in this life."), we witness our young protagonist, known throughout most of the film as the "Student" (Mark Travis), running through some dark catacombs, trying to escape some unseen force chasing him. Our narrator, an old man called Mr. Walker (John Carradine; FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND - 1981), takes us back in time to show us how the Student ended up in this predicament. It's 1920, and the Student, who is a pastel painter and sketch artist, is hitchhiking through the California desert, when he ends up at an old mission that's been converted to a hotel. Mr. Walker happens by while the Student is painting a picture of the hotel and tells him that he should pay close attention to "the bells", especially the one with a "No.7" stamped on it. The seemingly-mad Mr. Walker takes him to the hotel, where the Student becomes fascinated with the building's architecture and meets an odd assortment of characters, including the hotel's manager (Pat Renella), who makes the Student register by signing the guestbook with his name and birthdate (the manager may be the Devil himself); a mysterious gentleman called the Maitre D' (Victor Buono; THE EVIL - 1977), who tells the Student that everything he sees is an illusion (he may actually be God or one of his angels); the hunchbacked, one-eyed servant called Homonculus (Frank Corsentino); the creepy maid (Marie Drew); and a beautiful girl (Janet Landgard), who haunts the Student's dreams. When the manager finds out that the Student's zodiac sign is Cancer, he dubs him "Moonchild No. 7" and from that moment on, he begins having flashbacks to a previous life, when the hotel was just a mission a couple of centuries earlier. It doesn't take a genius to deduct that Moonchild No. 7's life is pre-destined to end up here and play out the same pre-determined outcome as he did in six previous lives, with the same set of characters that now occupy the hotel. The rest of the film is a series of flashbacks-within-flashbacks, told in an artsy-fartsy style (weird camera angles; close-ups of red meat being sliced and consumed; quick, jackhammer-style editing) and containing many obtuse conversations about life and death. This continues for 78 agonizing minutes, as Moonchild No. 7 tries to alter his fate from repeating itself. He fails miserably.  MOONCHILD amounts to be nothing more than a USC film student's master thesis on the cyclicity of life and reincarnation (this would make a great companion piece with director Christopher Speeth's equally long-winded MALATESTA'S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD [1973]). Director/writer Alan Gadney (Not surprisingly, his only film credit. He's now a successful book marketer.) and Director of Photography Emmett Alston (who went on to direct such genre fare as NEW YEAR'S EVIL [1980], TIGERSHARK [1986] and DEMONWARP [1988]) have fashioned a philosophical horror film where Renella's Devil and Buono's God characters relentlessly battle for the soul of the Student, while Carradine (who sometimes speaks directly to the camera) tries to keep us up to speed in his dulcet, Shakespearean voice. This is really nothing but a cheap reincarnation horror tale dressed-up in convoluted dime-store Psych 101 dialogue ("Seek the life to perfection." "God preserve us. The Devil rides in women's loins!") and the occasional quick glimpse of early-70's gore (blood gushing out of a sword wound; a throat slashing). The flashback sequences (conceived by editor Jack Conrad, director/writer of the obscure actioner COUNTRY BLUE [1973]), which take place in a Spanish Inquisition-like atmosphere (where we find out that the Student actually has a proper name, "Gavilan"), contains the film's only horror sequences, but it comes so late in the film and you'll have to put up with dialogue that's so heavy-handed and forced, it's hard to imagine for anyone but those with the patience of a saint would give a damn. Both Victor Buono and John Carradine (who has more spoken lines here than ten of his latter-day horror films combined) are consummate professionals (and, apparently, willing to help out a film student for little or no money), but it's hard to give a rat's ass when the film around them is such a pretentious bore. When MOONCHILD was released to U.S. theaters in 1974, it was advertised as an EXORCIST (1973)-type film (The tag line reads: "Racing Towards His Final Exorcism!). Man, audiences must have been pissed when they realized they were conned. Filmed at the still-standing (and operating) Mission Inn in Riverside California. Also starring William Challee and Robert Randles. I don't believe that this ever got a legitimate home video release in the U.S., but it can be purchased on VHS and DVD-R from Sinister Cinema. The version I viewed was sourced from a Dutch-subtitled VHS tape. Rated R.

A NAME FOR EVIL (1973) - John Blake (Robert Culp) is feeling the pressures of big city living. He has a combination deadbolt on his apartment door to keep out burglars. He is so fed up with what he sees on TV that he throws the set off the apartment balcony. He also has a hard time separating fantasy from reality. Every time he sees his shrewish, unloving wife (Samantha Eggar), he has visions of naked dancing girls and people dressed in skeleton costumes. Blake leaves his family-owned architectual business and moves himself and his wife to his late great grandfather's country estate, called The Grove. There is a problem with this estate: Blake's great grandfather, known as The Major, built The Grove and swore that after his death, no one would ever inhabit it. Blake and his wife are the first people to live in The Grove in over 50 years and almost immediately Blake begins to experience strange phenomenon. A white horse mysteriously appears and disappears. A voice continuously warns him to get out of the house. He sees strange shadows cast on the walls. He is attacked by a stream of fire. He also believes that The Major has his sights set on Mrs. Blake. Oh, did I mention that he takes part in a nude dancing orgy led by the town's preacher? It is up to us, the viewer, to decide if all the stuff that is happening is in Blake's mind or if it is real. If it is real, is The Major the cause or is someone else trying to drive him mad? You try and figure it out. I sure as hell couldn't. This Bernard Girard (THE MAD ROOM - 1969; THE MIND SNATCHERS - 1972) directed psychodrama has a surprising amount of full frontal male and female nudity (in Culp's  case, one could say, "I Spy with my eye an average-size penis!"), but very little else. Girard's idea of telling a story involves layering multi-colored lighting with arty camera angles. His screenplay is confusing and moves at a snail's pace. Samantha Eggar (THE BROOD - 1979; CURTAINS - 1982; RAGIN' CAJUN - 1991) has a hilarious scene describing Culp's masturbatory habits and tries to castrate Culp with a straight razor. Culp, who starred in his share of stinkers, including BIG BAD MAMA 2  (1987), SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT 3: BETTER WATCH OUT (1989) and XTRO 3: WATCH THE SKIES (1995), wanders around looking confused and seems embarassed during his nude scenes. The sad fact is, if it weren't for the nude scenes, I would have fallen asleep long before A NAME FOR EVIL reached its' mind-numbing conclusion. Also starring Sheila Sullivan, Mike Lane, Clarence Miller and Sue Hathaway. A Paragon Video Release. Rated R. NOTE: Beware of the version of this film shown on American Movie Classics (AMC). It is shorn of all the nudity, contains alternate scenes and actually makes less sense than the version on tape. Avoid both at all costs!

NIGHT KILLER (1989) - This late-in-the-cycle Italian horror film is one part A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)/one part giallo flick with one of the most maddening, unbelievable finales that I can remember. The fact that this was directed by Claudio Fragasso (as "Clyde Anderson"), the auteur behind such films as MONSTER DOG (1984), ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH (1988), BEYOND DARKNESS (1990) and, especially, TROLL 2 (1990), should tell you what to expect here. The fact that Bruno Mattei (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1980; ROBOWAR - 1988), who worked closely with Fragasso during the entire '80s, was called-in by the Producers to spice up this film with more gore behind Fragasso's back, should also tell you what to expect. The film is a fractured mess, jumping around from scene-to-scene with no connective tissue, like some bonkers fever dream, but that could be the reason why I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Is the film any good?  Oh, my God, not by a long shot, as it is full of overblown, unbelievable (a word you will read quite often in this review) acting by the cast, but it does have a certain "something" I just cannot put my finger on. I will say this: After the film's frustrating, unbelievable and maddening conclusion, I wanted to take a flame-thrower to my TV and Blu-Ray player, even though I have previously seen the film before. I'm seriously beginning to believe that there is something psychologically wrong with me. Why would I purchase a Blu-Ray of a film that is as bad as they come? Why would I want it to be part of my film library of over 10,000 films? I'm afraid I'll never know the answer because, frankly, I'm too fucking scared to find out why, so let's get to the film at hand.
     The film opens with a theater full of awful dancers (really, they are terrible) being berated by their overbearing choreographer (Gaby Ford), when a female dancer arrives late for practice and apologizes, the choreographer telling her to get changed quickly or she's fired. The dancer goes to the dressing room to change, not knowing that there's a killer in a rubber horror mask, who is also wearing horror gloves with huge nails on them, making the killer look like a cheapjack version of Freddy Krueger, is waiting for her. The killer slices the dancer's throat with the sharp fingernails (even though we can plainly see that the fingernails are made of soft rubber!), killing her. When she is late joining the other dancers, the furious choreographer goes looking for her and gets the same treatment from the killer, only she tries to escape from the killer and is pushed off the balcony, her dead body landing in front of the dancers (And not one of them screams! Was she that much of a bitch?).
     We are then at the Virginia home of of Melanie Beck (Tara Buckman; XTRO 2: THE SECOND ENCOUNTER - 1991), who is letting her young daughter, Clarissa (Tova Sardot), spend a weekend with her best friend Sherman Floyd (Richard Foster) and his fiancee while she works on her troubled marriage with her separated husband Axel (Peter Hooten; BROTHERS IN BLOOD - 1987) as Christmas approaches. When Melanie is home alone, the masked, clawed killer appears and tries to kill Melanie; then the screen goes black. We then see Melanie in the hospital, but she has a severe case of amnesia and can't remember what happened with the killer; all she does remember is that Sherman saved her and received a huge wound on the left side of his face by the killer's sharp claws. Police Detective Clark (Mel Davis) wants to question Melanie, but her physician, Dr. Willow (Lee Lively), tells him no, it may make her lose her memory completely, saying to give her some time and her memory may come back. After being hospitalized and feeling somewhat suicidal from her ordeal, Dr. Willow allows Melanie to go home to recuperate, thinking it will be good for her memory (Really? In the same house where she was nearly killed? Somebody take a look at Dr. Willow's medical license to make sure it hasn't lapsed!).
     Melanie repeatedly gets visits from Axel (she has no memory of Axel being her husband), who treats her brutally, sticking a gun in her mouth, slapping her in the face and telling her to get over herself, causing Melanie to sink further into depression, even trying to kill herself on several occasions, but failing. On one such occasion, Melanie takes a handful of sleeping pills, takes off most of her clothes and tries to walk into the ocean, but Axel intervenes, slapping her some more and screaming, "You really trying to kill yourself?" He grabs her, walks into the water and holds Melanie's head under the water as if to drown her (he's actually making her drink the salty sea water to make her throw up the pills she took!), but Melanie escapes and runs away. Yes, Axel couldn't look more like the killer, but we know in films like this it couldn't be that easy...or could it? Melanie tells Detective Clark about Axel's murderous behavior and he becomes the number one suspect, especially when the masked killer shows up in Melanie's house and fails to kill her again. Sherman, meanwhile, argues with his fiancee, telling her everyone looks at him differently with the huge scar on his face, even her. Sherman tells her he is going after the killer on his own; he's going to kill Axel.
     To make a long story short, Axel continues to avoid the police while Sherman tries to hunt him down, but he's no bounty hunter. In a surprise everyone saw coming, the killer pays Melanie another visit at her home and her memory suddenly comes back. She rips off the mask, revealing the killer to be Sherman. A flashback shows us what happened on that fateful night when Melanie lost her memory. Sherman has her tied to the bed, saying he was in love with her and if he can't have her, nobody will, threatening to kill her with a switchblade. He then comes up with a "brilliant" idea: He will untie Melanie, hand her the knife and watch as she kills herself ("What a great idea!!", no one with half a brain would say.). Of course things don't go as planned, for as soon as he hands Melanie the switchblade, she slashes him in the face with it and runs away, losing her memory in the process. Back in the present, Sherman once again professes his love for Melanie, but since he can't convince her to love him, she has to die. Melanie comes on to Sherman, kissing him passionately and slowly pulling the switchblade out of his pants pocket as she fondles him. She then stabs him in the groin! Not dead (but in extreme penis pain), Sherman tries to kill Melanie after pulling the knife out of his crotch, when Axel comes crashing through a window and shoots Sherman several times with a pistol, killing him. We then learn that Axel was acting like an abusive asshole on Dr. Willow's orders, believing his violent behavior would snap Melanie out of her amnesia! Even Detective Clark was in on it! We then see Axel and Melanie happy in bed on Christmas Eve, teaching Clarissa the old "This is the church, this is the steeple..." hand gesture and laughing. Clarissa gets out of bed and walks downstairs to bring one present under the Christmas tree to her bedroom. While Mom & Dad make lovey-dovey in their bed, Clarissa takes the present into her room and begins to unwrap it. In a sequence that can best be described as an editor on Adderal, the scene is intercut with Clarissa opening the present with Axel and Melanie making love. It is then revealed that Clarissa is wearing the killer's mask, talking in the same disguised voice Sherman used, then the film ends! WTF?!?
     The reveal that Axel was working in tandem with Dr. Willow and Detective Clark  is just too unbelievable for words. What doctor in their right mind would allow a husband to be verbally and physically abusive to their wife? It's like director Claudio Fragasso, who co-wrote the screnplay with Rosella Drudi (EMANUELLE IN PRISON - 1983, SHOCKING DARK - 1989, THE CRAWLERS - 1990), ran out of ideas on how to properly conclude the film, so they threw ideas against the wall to see which ones stick and this was the best they could come up with. But it's the daughter wearing the killer's mask in the closing shot that is even more unbelievable. Who would give this young girl such a present is just one small question you will have when the end credits begin to roll. Your head will spin at all the unanswered questions this film offers. Quite frankly, it's these unanswered questions that made me watch this film not once, but twice (!) to make sure I didn't miss anything and, sure enough, I didn't (In all fairness, I should state that it was Sherman who gave Clarissa the present in the beginning of the film, something I missed the first two times I watched it!). Fragasso has gone on record saying that he wanted to make a purely psychological thriller with no blood or gore, but without the gory inserts shot by Bruno Mattei, this would be a chore to sit through. It's still quite a chore due to the over-emoting by Peter Hooten (2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS - 1982) and, especially, by Richard Foster (who hasn't appeared in anything else of note) when it is revealed he is the killer. His eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets and he never loses his stupid smile, even when he is stabbed in the dick! Couple that with the film's two denouements and you have a film that people with small IQs are bound to love, which is why I am worried about my psychological health! One scene that did make me laugh is when Melanie first meets Axel in the ladies room, after losing her memory. She pulls a pistol out of her pocketbook and makes Axel strip down to his bikini underwear and flush his clothes down the toilet (this building must have high pressure toilets!). Axel then comes running out of the building, when a guard stops him and asks him why he is wearing no clothes. Axel replies, "I was just molested in the little boys room!" It should also be noted that Werner Pochath, one of my favorite genre actors, was this film's Casting Director. Pochath can be seen in such films as THE CAT O' NINE TAILS (1971), MAGNUM COP (1978), THE WILD TEAM (1985) and LASER MISSION (1989), among many others. This film could have used some of Pochath's patented quirkiness, but, alas, he stays behind the scenes here.
     Filmed as NON APRITE QUELLA PORTA 3 ("Do Not Open That Door 3") which loosely translates in Italy as THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3 (the same year LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3 was released!), this film had no kind of legitimate release in the United States until Severin Films released it on DVD & Blu-Ray in 2019, and, of course, I just had to buy it, but I don't know why since I first saw it on Roku-only streaming channel B-Movie TV and hated it. Is it any wonder why I am worried about my mental health? Fragasso also makes a cameo appearance in this film as a reporter wearing a baseball cap. Not Rated.

NIGHT OF THE DRIBBLER (1990/1995) - With so many good genre films screaming-out to get their DVD debut, I have to question why Code Red DVD would spend time, money and energy to release this abomination (filmed in 1990, but not given a copyright until 1995) on a shiny silver disc; a film so devoid of any entertainment value, it was deemed unreleasable when screened (to show you just how bad this film really is, it was made around the same time by the same producer [Roger Racine] of VOODOO DOLLS and MADONNA: A CASE OF BLOOD AMBITION [both 1990], yet it was the only one in the trio not to obtain a distributor). Maybe Code Red obtained the distribution rights for little or no money, but in this tough economy, I fail to see Code Red's thought process, never mind their business acumen, in hoisting such an unknown and terrible film on an audience starving for quality product (or at least something with entertainment value). To me, it's business suicide, but what do I know, I bought the DVD so I could review it! I certainly doubt that this will be a best seller, but I'm sure some genre fans will pick this up just for the novelty value, but it's a novelty that wears off after watching the first five minutes of this filmic turd. Actor/impressionist Fred Travalena (who passed away in late June of 2009, a little more than two months before this was finally released on DVD) plays three roles in this kitchen sink comedy, which aims for AIRPLANE (1980)-like laughs, but has to settle for sub-PANDEMONIUM (1982) and HYSTERICAL (1983) guffaws instead. It's about a killer in a tracksuit and a basketball mask who goes around murdering members of the world's worst college basketball team, the Watergate Plumbers (my head hurts already). After a teammate is found beheaded (the head being led away on a stretcher while the team takes a group photo), Coach Cherry (Travalena) wonders out loud if this is going to affect the attendance of tonight's game (this is when I popped my first Tylenol). At that game, play-by-play announcer Dick Airhead (Travalena again; and I swallowed my second Tylenol) does several impressions (including Clint Eastwood and Sammy Davis Jr.) while introducing the members of the Plumbers to a very sparse crowd (not because of the beheading, but because of the film's miniscule budget). Equipment manager Stan Bates (Gregory Calpakis) complains to the coach that he is never put in the game as a player (Hint! Clue!), while Dick Airhead does more impressions (including Bela Lugosi and Herve Villechaize) as the game progresses (at this time, I switched from Tylenol to Advil). Stan's girlfriend Becky (Flavia Carrozzi) makes a remark that Stan's a better player than anyone on the team, but Stan replies that it will probably take more teammates being killed before he gets any play time (at this point, I switched to smoking a joint, not only to forget about my headache, but because everything seems better with a little pot). After the Plumbers lose once again to their rivals, the Greenfield Gators (the Plumbers haven't won a game in six years), Dean Cook (Michael Sullivan), the head of Greenfield, makes a bet with Watergate head Dean Marks (Cynthia Mantel) that the loser of their next basketball game will have to get a tattoo on a body part of the winner's choice and will also have to ride naked on the rival's parade float. When the Plumbers' star player, High Top (George Thomas, who plays his role like a young Elvis Presley and provides behind-the-scenes info on the DVD's commentary track, along with Travalena), loses both of his hands while performing a slam-dunk during practice (thanks to a ring of razor wire put around the hoop by the cackling, basketball-masked psycho), Coach Cherry still doesn't put Stan in the game, much to the disappointment of Stan, Becky and Stan's J.R. "Bob" Dobbs-like father (Bill Saddler), but the coach comes up with a new play for his players called the "King Lear" (Player: "Coach, why is it called the King Lear?" Coach: "Because it's a great play!"). Dean Marks pressures Coach Cherry not to lose the game or else he will lose his job, but when player Joseph Krunch (Michael Burns) is blown-up with a basketball bomb (complete with lit fuse!), wisecracking cop Danny Gibson (Travalena yet again) and black partner Mel Glover (Sherwood Kendall) are put on the case (at this time, I switched from smoking pot to popping amyl nitrate, if only for the inane Gibson/Glover LETHAL WEAPON [1987] reference). To make an extremely long and unfunny story short, more players end up dead, Stan becomes the main suspect and then become a player (winning the game), the killer is unmasked and I became a hopeless heroin junkie. Thanks, Code Red!  This embarrassingly cheap film, directed by Jack Bravman (JANIE - 1970; ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE - 1986) and written by Maurice Thevenet (not surprisingly, his only film credit), is so unfunny, it may be one of the worst comedies ever made (consider it the anti-comedy comedy). About 80% of the film is a showcase for Fred Travalena's impressions (he even does Rod Steiger and Michael Jackson!), but nearly everything he does here falls flatter than a ten year-old girl's chest. This film's idea of funny is having everyone ask Coach Cherry, "Can I have a word with you?" and him replying with single word answers like "Poodle", "Capitalism" and "Aphrodisiac". There are also cheap "Master Bates" jokes, idiotic lines like "His loss may be your game!" and grade-school gore, complete with superimposed words on-screen like "P-O-WWW!!" (ala the old BATMAN 60's TV series) whenever the masked killer murders someone (it's done to cover-up the transition of the gore effects, since the film's paltry budget can't afford to show someone getting their hands cut off, being blown-up or, in one case, getting shot!). NIGHT OF THE DRIBBLER is about as entertaining as sliding down a razor blade while being covered in lemon juice. Also starring Glenn Scott, Brigitte-Anne Pelletier, Alex Thoby and Ikkee Battle. A Code Red DVD Release. Not Rated.

NIGHTWISH (1988) - Confusing horror nonsense with a few atmospheric and extremely gory sequences. The film opens with Donna (Elizabeth Kaitan; SILENT MADNESS - 1984) leaving a prom at a mansion, following a trail of bloody clothing and dismembered body parts (including a still-twitching hand) and then spotting Jack (Clayton Rohner; DESTROYER - 1988) gnawing on a human body. He chases Donna down an alley that never seems to end and strangles her while a group of people watch from a window. It is then revealed that Donna is merely dreaming all this from an isolation tank; she is part of a dream interpretation experiment run by Doc (Jack Starrett, the director of such films as THE LOSERS [1970] and RACE WITH THE DEVIL [1975]), who is trying to record his subjects worst fears and eventual deaths in their dreams, but is falling short because all his subjects, which includes Donna, Jack, Kim (Alisha Das) and Bill (Arthur Cybulski), keep waking up before they actually die in their dreams (Why Doc wants to do this is the film's biggest mystery). To "toughen them up" and get them to "accept" death, Doc sends his subjects to a house in the middle of the "Valley Of Fear", a section of the desert that contains a long-closed mine where UFOs and other strange phenomena have been reported for centuries. Doc sends along the musclebound Dean (Brian Thompson; COBRA - 1986) to act as their driver and bodyguard (Dean purposely runs over a rabbit while driving the van to their destination, explaining to the others, who are sickened by his callous and cruel act, that "the highway's mine!"). After changing a flat tire and buying peaches from a facially deformed female fruit peddler, our group finally makes it to their destination: A strange house that has partially collapsed into the mine (Kim calls it "The world's biggest basement."). After dropping everyone off at the house, Dean leaves to do some business and meets the retarded gatekeeper, Wendall (Tom Dugan; PERFECT VICTIMS - 1988), who tells Dean in no uncertain terms, "Wendall guards the property. Wendall locks the gates. Wendall feeds the animals and Wendall phones the house. I do!" Dean sarcastically replies, "You don't drink the water, do you?" (The water is reportedly contaminated by some unknown and unclassified substance). Now the film gets really strange. Doc and his subjects set up some electronic equipment in the house (which is riddled with secret passages) and hold a séance, where doors slam repeatedly, the temperature falls to freezing and a worm-like creature comes out of the chimney.  It turns out that everything but the ectoplasmic worm was rigged by Doc to elicit fear responses from the group, but they have also seem to have awakened what Doc calls "a demonic entity with the power to project hallucinations." Is this also part of Doc's mysterious plan for getting his subjects to accept death or is something really paranormal going on here? No, really, I wish someone would tell me, because what happens next is some of the most confusing (albeit gory, gooey and bug-ridden) sequences in 80's horror film history, as the subjects begin to die horrible, strange deaths and the film's closing shot seems to suggest that this whole film was someone's bad dream and ends on that old chestnut that goes: "If a man dreams he's a butterfly and wakes up, how does he know if he's a man who dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he's a man?" Save that crap for your Philosophy 101 class, Doc! I would rather have watched a film that didn't make my head spin trying to figure out what the hell was going on.  NIGHTWISH is high in atmosphere and strangeness, but director Bruce R. Cook's (HUSBANDS, WIVES, MONEY & MURDER - 1984) screenplay make absolutely no sense at all except to showcase some excellent gore and makeup effects (by KNB Effects Group) in the film's second half (the optical effects, on the other hand, are pretty poor). Robert Tessier (STARCRASH - 1978) also puts in an appearance rather late in the film as Doc's loyal assistant, Stanley, who likes to collect "souvenirs" from Doc's subjects, such as cutting one of Jack's fingers off with a pair of tin snips. Jack Starrett was beginning to show the ravages of the cancer that took his life the following year (his face is very gaunt here and he is much skinnier than normal) and the late Robert A. Burns once again contributes some excellent Art Direction (just like he did in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [1974] and TOURIST TRAP [1978]). All-in-all, NIGHTWISH is nothing more than a mishmash of ideas, mixing paranormal activity, haunted house themes, alien invasion paranoia and dream interpretations into a confusing amalgam of visuals that leads nowhere. Originally available on VHS from Vidmark Entertainment in R-Rated and Unrated Editions. I shouldn't have to tell you to search for the Unrated edition since it lingers longer on the gory deaths (especially Brian Thompson's, which is a doozy) and welcome female nudity. Not available on U.S. DVD. Rated R or Unrated.

NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984) - After the unexpected success of ENTER THE NINJA (1981), Cannon Films founders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus produced two official sequels (both starring Sho Kosugi), REVENGE OF THE NINJA (1983) and this one, a strange and entertaining mixture of martial arts and horror genres. The film opens with a seemingly indestructible ninja killing a millionaire industrialist, his girlfriend and several bodyguards on a golf course before leading the police on a chase, where he kills numerous cops (as well as destroying a police helicopter) before being gunned-down by several officers (we see all the officers' faces in close-up, as well as one cop whose face is obscured by the sun, so we know that their lives will be in danger later on), The mortally wounded ninja (he has been riddled with over 50 bullets and shotgun blasts) manages to escape in a puff of smoke and stumbles into the desert, where telephone line repairwoman Christie (Lucinda Dickey; CHEERLEADER CAMP - 1988) offers him help, but instead is attacked by the ninja and then possessed by his spirit after accepting his samurai sword. The pretty Christie then begins having visions of all those officers' faces and begins killing them one-by-one while possessed by the ninja and then has no memory of committing the murders when she wakes up (The first clue Christie should have known something was wrong was when she suddenly has knowledge of martial arts and beats the snot out of a street gang when they threaten to rape her). Christie begins dating persistent street cop Billy Secord (Jordan Bennett) when he refuses to take no for an answer (He follows her to her aerobics class and shortly afterwards he's licking V8 juice off her bare breasts!) and, wouldn't you know it, Billy's partner is one of the cops involved in gunning-down the ninja. As Christie's behavior becomes more bizarre (the possession scenes are simply priceless, as the samurai sword floats in mid-air [on a visible wire] and Christie travels to the dead ninja's secret cave to grab some weapons and don his ninja outfit) and more cops end up dead, including Billy's partner, the sudden appearance of eye patch-wearing Master Ninja Yamada (Sho Kosugi) arriving in town from Japan can only mean one thing: An eventual showdown between him and the possessed Christie. Billy grows more concerned with Christie's demeanor, such as her sudden interest in Japanese culture and her "black-outs", so he takes Christie to Miyashima (James Hong; THE JITTERS - 1988), a phony expert on Japanese possession, who chains Christie up at the waist and performs a ritual over her body. A totally surprised Miyashima is not prepared for the result (think THE EXORCIST [1973] on steroids) and warns Billy that Christie is possessed by a "Black Ninja" and "only a ninja can destroy a ninja." I think we can all see where this is headed, but the question still remains: Who is the officer whose face was obscured by the sun? Could it possibly be Billy and will the possessed Christie kill him?  This totally absurd martial arts/horror film, directed by Sam Firstenberg (AVENGING FORCE - 1986; SPIDERS 2 - 2001) and written by James R. Silke, who both handled the same chores on REVENGE OF THE NINJA, as well as AMERICAN NINJA (1985), is so outlandish and full of "What The Fuck?!?" moments, you can't help but enjoy yourself. There are plenty of moments to relish here, especially Christie's EXORCIST-like transformation in Miyashima's shop, where she spins around like a wound-up propellor on a toy airplane, while her face and hair get all spooky and she starts speaking in tongues. Another outrageous scene is the possessed Christie's slaughter of several police officers at a cop's funeral. Watching cops being killed at an officer's funeral is one of the strangest sights I have ever seen in a film. But my favorite scene, bar none, is when Christie tries to fight off one instance of possession by (get this) aerobic dancing at a furious pace! If you aren't laughing hysterically at this sequence, I can guarantee that you don't have a humorous bone in your entire body. Think FLASHDANCE (1983) by way of a Solid Gold Dancer high on PCP. This film has it all: Bloody deaths (most by sword impalement of some kind), martial arts fights (choreographed by Sho Kosugi), gravity-defying stunts, car crashes, Lucinda Dickey in the nude and plenty of optical and laser effects (including Christie being scanned by an arcade console game called Bouncer, a real prototype game system that was never mass produced). This is one of those films that restores your faith in American action films. Unfortunately, this was the last in the series, as Yoram/Globus and Cannon Films went in a different direction (but not any less enjoyable), making action films starring Michael Dudikoff, starting with the aforementioned AMERICAN NINJA. Sho Koshugi left Cannon Films and went on to appear in a string of martial arts actioners, including NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA (1985), PRAY FOR DEATH (1985), RAGE OF HONOR (1987) and hosting a VHS series of martial arts flicks for Trans World Entertainment. Also starring David Chung, Dale Ishimoto, Bob Craig, Pamela Ness and Roy Padilla. Originally released on VHS by MGM/UA Home Video and available on many gray market DVDs floating around with custom DVD covers. UPDATE: Available on Blu-Ray/DVD from Shout! Factory sub-label Scream Factory. This is the one to get if you want to watch the film in all its original aspect, unedited glory. Rated R.

NO SUCH THING (2001) - Billed as a modern day fairy tale, I believe it is more about the miracles of life and death. In what can only be described as an alternate universe, the film first takes take place in New York (Manhattan has been bought by an entertainment company) where Beatrice (Sarah Polley of DAWN OF THE DEAD - 2004) works as a gofer for TV news bigwig and unfeeling The Boss (the always entertaining Helen Mirren). When Beatrice finds out that her fiance is missing in Iceland covering a story, she asks The Boss to let her go find out what really happened. The plane that Beatrice is on crashes into the ocean and she is the only survivor. With nearly every bone in her body broken and nearly no chance of walking again, Beatrice undergoes an experimental procedure with the help of kindly Dr. Anna (Julia Christie) which lets her walk again. Beatrice then goes to Iceland where she finds a monster (Robert John Burke of DUST DEVIL - 1992; THINNER - 1996 and HIDE AND SEEK - 2005) who speaks perfect English, breathes fire and wants her to destroy him. Even after discovering that he has killed her fiance, Beatrice cannot find herself to kill the beast. (She does pump a slug into his stomach but it has no effect. The monster then points the gun at his head and pulls the trigger and it also has no effect!) The monster confesses to Beatrice that he is immortal (he has seen mountains decay), is an alcoholic, insomniac and the only one of his kind in the world. The only person able to destroy him is Dr. Artaud (Baltasar Kormakur), who the monster wants Beatrice to find to end his misery. The only way Beatrice will do this is if the monster accompanies her in the search, which leads back to New York. To give away any more of the plot would be to destroy the film as it is one of the most humanistic portrayals of good and evil (and what defines them) to be portrayed in films. Who would have thought that this fertile gem would come from Long Island director Hal Hartley, who mainly does romantic dramas (He also did the haunting music score here). The use of authentic locations and actors in Iceland greatly enhances the drama and Burke is a hoot as the monster (makeup courtesy of Mark Rappaport), spewing diatribes and downing massive amounts of alcohol. Though short on blood and gore, that's not the point of this film. The real point is how the public views you and how long the entertainment industry (including the news division) can keep you in the spotlight before they chew you up and spit you out. I guess it's not an alternate universe after all. This did get a theatrical release and many good reviews but bombed at the box office. I believe the normal viewing audience will let most of the parables drift right over their heads. Don't let this happen to you. This is a masterpiece of weird (but true) cinema. As Dr. Artaud says: "What would the world be without monsters?" An MGM/UA Release. Rated R.

OGROFF (1983) - The French, they are a funny race. This ultra-low-budget French horror cheapie opens with a family pulling their car over to the side of the road so Dad can take a pee. While Dad is draining the lizard, Mom gets out to stretch her legs and small daughter Letricia and the family dog go to play in the woods for a few moments. Poor little Leticia is immediately axed in the chest by a limbering leather mask and wool cap-wearing backwoods creep known as Ogroff (director Norbert Georges Moutier) and he drags her body away by her feet. When Dad goes to look for her, Ogroff chops off his head with the axe as Dad's headless body is able to walk to the side of the road before collapsing. Mom runs away from Ogroff and is able to flag down a car, but a circus clown gets out, yells at her ("Walking does you good...What a stupid bitch!"), gets back in his car and speeds away without her (I told you the French were a funny race. Not "ha! ha!" funny, just funny in the head). Mom continues to run away from Ogroff until she comes to a fork in the road (hey, what about the dog?). Should she go left, right or straight ahead? She decides to follow a man who is walking a bike with a cart attached to it and when she catches up to him, she discovers that the man is Ogroff (What The Fuck?!?) and the cart contains the corpse of her daughter. Ogroff ties Mom's hands behind her back, but he apparently failed knot-tying in the Boy Scouts (He was probably more into drinking wine and smoking cigarettes during his childhood!), because Mom escapes and runs further into the woods, right into, you guessed it, Ogroff's shack. Mom goes inside and finds that the place is decorated in early TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) fashion, with bones hanging from the ceiling, nude centerfolds plastered on the walls and bloody human remains everywhere. Ogroff recaptures Mom as she comes outside, chains her to a wooden post and cuts out her tongue to stop her from screaming and feeds it to the family dog (Wait a second. How did he have time to bring the dog to his shack before Mom arrived there? Mon dieu, my head is spinning!). Ogroff then saws and chops little Leticia's body into pieces on a tree stump in full view of Mom and feeds some of the flesh to something he keeps behind a trap door in his basement. Mom's sister sets out to find her when the police won't help (Too late, though, as Ogroff has already chopped Mom into little pieces) and the rest of the film is a series of bloody set pieces, as Ogroff and Sis chop and stab their way through a bunch of forest dwellers before meeting each other. Sis accidentally releases a bunch of zombies (some dressed in World War II military uniforms) that Ogroff has kept in his basement (so that's what they were!). For some unknown reason, the dead begin rising from their graves and Sis must flee from them as well as Ogroff, who has now jumped on a motorcycle and is giving chase, axe in hand. What's the French word for "overkill"? Like the French during wartime, I surrendered myself to the fact that there's no point in putting up a fight, as I let the film run its course until it finally ended.  There is not much to recommend about this very cheap French horror film besides some early gore effects from Benoit Lestang, who committed suicide shortly after finishing the tough-to-handle make-up effects to the French/Canadian horror film MARTYRS (2008). Director/producer/screenwriter/actor Norbert Georges Moutier (usually credited as "N.G. Mount"), a French fanzine publisher, decided he wanted to make a horror film and this was his first effort. Unfortunately, it is amateur hour in nearly every department, from acting (people don't act here; they mug for the camera); editing (there are so many unneeded jump cuts here that I would say the editor was either blindfolded or drunk); sound (this was shot without sound and was badly looped later); photography (lots of medium and long shots with static camera placement that go on for far too long); music (a droning synthesizer score); and screenplay (there's really no story here, but if you want to see a masked killer masturbating with his axe while lying in bed, then this is the film for you!). The only real reason for watching this film is for Lestang's plentiful gore effects, which includes beheadings, dismemberments, face slashings, stabbings, impalements and cannibalism. Otherwise, there's not much of a point in watching OGROFF (also known as MAD MUTILATOR), as it reminds me of someone's amateur backyard film they made over a weekend with some friends. The late Howard Vernon (who must have owed someone a mighty big favor) appears in a cameo as a vampire in the film's "surprise" finale (and he gets top billing!). Director Moutier would go one to make some even more obscure films, including OPERATION LAS VEGAS (1988; with Richard Harrison!); ALIEN PLATOON (1991); TREPANATOR (1991); DINOSAUR FROM THE DEEP (1993) and BROOKLYN COP (1998). Also starring Philippe Kaufman, Sonia Kannouche, Robert Alaux, Francois Deniel, Pierre Pattin, Alain Petit, Jean-Pierre Putters, Christophe Lemaire and Michel Prati. The print I viewed was a DVD-R sourced from a French VHS that was English fansubbed (There's only about five lines of spoken dialogue in the entire film!). I don't believe this film ever got a legitimate home video release outside of France. Not Rated.

PANDEMONIUM (1982) - Director Alfred Sole is somewhat of an enigma in the filmmaking business. Although he still very active in the business today (mainly as a Production Designer on TV shows), during the 70's & early 80's he made four films of such diversity, it's hard to believe they were made by the same man. His first film, DEEP SLEEP (1972), was an X-rated porn comedy about necrophilia (edited prints still exist, but it looks like the unedited version is lost forever, not unusual for a porn film from this time period). His second film, the masterful ALICE, SWEET ALICE (a.k.a. COMMUNION and HOLY TERROR - 1976), was as close as one could get to making a perfect American giallo film and it's combination of murder mystery, gory deaths and religious allegory still holds up today. His third film, TANYA'S ISLAND (1980), was a twisted erotic tale (starring Prince protégé Vanity using the name "D.D. Winters") about an ape's love for a beautiful woman and vice-versa; a strange mixture of erotica, a terrific ape suit (designed by Rick Baker), jealousy and beautiful tropic island scenery. After watching those three films, nothing will prepare your for his fourth (and last), PANDEMONIUM, his first "studio" film (for United Artists), a mostly unfunny kitchen sink horror comedy (and, yes, a kitchen sink is used as a prop!) that was definitely inspired by the successes of AIRPLANE! and FRIDAY THE 13TH (both 1980). Originally filmed under the title THURSDAY THE 12TH, this film opens in 1963, in the town of It Had To Be, Indiana, where a maniac has just killed and entire cheerleading squad with a single javelin throw (One spinning newspaper headline reads: CHEERLEADERS SLAIN IN SHISH-KE-BOB MURDER! - HUNGARIANS QUESTIONED). As more and more cheerleaders are killed (all off-screen) throughout the 60's, the cheerleading camp is finally closed down. Cut to 1982 and the cheerleader camp reopens, with Bambi (Candy Azzara), a cheerleader-wannabe from 1963 who never made the squad and was teased by the other cheerleaders, taking over the reigns of the camp. Potential new cheerleader victims include Candy (Carol Kane, looking way too old for the role), a CARRIE (1976)-like teen with telekinetic powers; Mandy (Teri Landrum), a beauty queen and an airhead; Sandy (Debralee Scott), a no-nonsense girl who needs references from the drivers who pick her up hitchhiking (she eventually chooses to take a ride with then-President Reagan, but refuses his offer of jellybeans); Randy (Marc McClure) and Andy (Miles Chapin), two horndogs who are in it only for the sex; and Glenn Dandy (Judge Reinhold, in a ridiculous blonde wig), a naïve teen virgin who masturbates so much, he has to shave his palms (you would, too, if your parents are Kaye Ballard and blind pencil salesman Donald O'Connor!). At the same time, mass murderer Jarrett (Richard Romanus) escapes from Warden June's (Eve Arden) prison, so transplanted Canadian Mountie Sgt. Cooper (Tom Smothers), his trusty horse Bob (who goes everywhere with Cooper...everywhere!) and the much put-upon Officer Johnson (Paul Reubens, basically doing Pee Wee Herman with a harder edge) are assigned to recapture Jarrett, who has now joined forces with escaped asylum maniac Fletcher (Jim Boeke). It's not long before cheerleaders and camp personnel begin getting murdered (explosive trampoline; drowning in a milk bath; industrial strength toothbrush; pom-poms shoved down throats) and Cooper, who has been searching for the cheerleader maniac for the last twenty years (because a Canadian Mountie "always gets his man"), begins to fall in love with Candy. Will love win out over all and the killer(s) be caught?  Though not as bad as the Hudson Brothers abysmal HYSTERICAL (1983), Sole's PANDEMONIUM, written by Richard Whitley and Jaime Klein, relies too much on jokey names (Salt & Pepe, played by Izabella Telezynska and David L. Lander; Crystal & China, played by twins Candi & Randi Brough; the cheerleaders rhyming names), lame sex jokes; lots of toilet humor (with fart noises, of course) and bloodless killings. Since the film is rated PG, there is also a complete lack of nudity (even during a strip poker game!), which is a crying shame considering the cheerleader premise. There are a few original laughs to be had here, such as Jarrett turning his victims into opulent pieces of furniture (His psychiatrist says, "Why, yes, I have one of his victims in my bedroom!") or Bob (who is mostly shown as an animatronic horse head) showing up in unusual places, like the back seat of a car or standing behind his own police desk, but most of the humor falls flatter than a ten year-old girl's chest, even though a cast of seasoned pros give it their all (including cameos by Sydney Lassick, Gary Allen, Lenny Montana, Tab Hunter, Edie McClurg, Eileen Brennan [who decided to take the pseudonym "A Friend"], Phil Hartman and Pat Ast). I have no doubt in my mind that studio interference hampered Alfred Sole from making the type of movie he wanted, which is probably why he gave up on directing after making this. That's too bad, because the man obviously has talent if you let him rip. Here's to hoping that he tries his hand at directing again...soon! Originally available on VHS from MGM/UA Home Video and not available on DVD. Rated PG.

PATRICK STILL LIVES (1980) - I watched this film about thirty years ago and, according to my journal, I was not impressed with it (Full Disclosure: Back in the mid-'80s, this film wasn't available on U.S. home video, so I had to rent an Italian language VHS tape from a local video store that only rented tapes from Italy, no English dubbing or subtitles). A friend (Thanks, Steven!) convinced me to view it again and I'm glad he did. This unofficial sequel to Australia's PATRICK (1978) is a sleazy treat, full of full-frontal female nudity and graphic violence. This film may also be a misogynist's dream come true, as the women here are treated like sexual playthings and act like no other women I have ever met! I can only guess that the Italian VHS tape I originally viewed was heavily edited, because a gonzo film such as this would not have escaped my pen, especially in my 30's. It should come as no surprise that this film was directed by Mario Landi, who was also responsible for the extremely violent and misogynistic GIALLO IN VENICE (1979).
     The film opens with Dr. Herschel (Sacha Pitoeff; INFERNO - 1980) and his adult son Patrick (Gianni Dei; SEX OF THE WITCH - 1973) on the side of the road, their car has broken down and will not start. Patrick tries to flag down an oncoming bus, but instead of stopping, someone throws a heavy bottle out the window and it hits Patrick hard in his face, putting him into an irreversible coma. The bus keeps going down the road, seemingly oblivious as to what has just happened.
     We then watch as several people arrive at Dr. Herschel's clinic/resort, all of them personally invited there by Dr. Herschel and all of them harboring a deep dark secret all their own (I know what you are thinking and you are right). The guests include Stella Randolph (Maria Angela Giordan; BURIAL GROUND - 1980), the mysterious Peter Suniak (John Benedy; KILL DJANGO, KILL FIRST - 1971), politician Lyndon Cough (Franco Silva; SPASMO - 1974) and his oversexed wife Cheryl (Carmen Russo; RING OF DARKNESS - 1977/1979) and, finally, David Davis (Paolo Giusti; DIRTY HANDS - 1975), who arrives late and stumbles upon two vicious German Shepards, wondering why Dr. Herschel would keep such deadly dogs (a question that is never answered). Dr. Herschel's new assistant, Lydia Grant (Andrea Belfiore; THE ADVENTURES OF HERCULES - 1985), shows the guests to their rooms and apologizes for the lack of help, as this is the resort's off-season, but she assures them that all of their needs will be taken care of.
     As all the guests are sunning themselves by the pool (Stella has no problem parading around topless), Cheryl asks her husband why Stella and Peter are staring at them so intently and wonders if they don't like them. Lyndon tells her just to ignore them. Back in their room, Lyndon wonders why Dr. Herschel invited them to this resort and why Peter hides a gun on his body. He knows Dr. Herschel is aware of his crooked political past, where an "incident" nearly put him in prison for life (He is also an alcoholic, keeping a pint bottle of J&B Scotch, Italy's favorite beverage, on his person, which he drinks in wild abandon when no one is looking). We then discover that Lyndon hasn't been intimate with his wife for years, even at the resort they have separate bedrooms, which is why Cheryl acts like a tramp, hitting on every man she sees and embarrassing Lyndon every chance she gets (We see her walking around in a bra that shows off her nipples!).
     At dinner, Dr. Herschel welcomes his guests to the resort, telling them that while they are staying here, he will give them all a free medical check-up if they so desire, but they all turn him down. He then tells them that the only area off-limits to them is his clinic, where we previously saw a trio of his patients with scarred physiques, tubes coming out of their bodies, as they lay on hospital beds next to each other. Patrick, on the other hand, has a room of his own, where his father dotes on him. It is obvious that Patrick has the power of telekinesis and also has the power to control people. He knows about Lydia and is taken by her, so he makes her walk to his room in a trance-like state one night, but Dr. Herschel catches and scolds her, saying he told her this place was off-limits, even for her, and it better not happen again.
     The next morning, Lyndon gets up early to take a swim in the pool, but Patrick makes the water boil, cooking Lyndon's body. When Cheryl discovers her husband's boiled body, she screams and everyone comes running to her. Dr. Herschel sedates Cheryl and puts her in her room. He then tells David and Peter that the condition of Lyndon's body was caused by his alcoholism (!) and there have been cases, although rare, where the same thing has happened to other alcoholics. The question soon becomes: Does Dr. Herschel know about Patrick's powers and is he using his son to kill these people? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you would be correct. A short time later, David tells Stella that he once left a crime scene a few years ago where three people died, but he doesn't elaborate. Is it possible that the other guests are also guilty of crimes they don't want to talk about? Count on it. But why do Patrick and Dr. Herschel want them dead for those crimes? (It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out).
     While Cheryl is sedated and unconscious in her room, Peter sneaks in and begins rifling through her belongings, pocketing a letter he found in an envelope in her purse. It seems like he found what he was looking for, but, at this time, the viewer has no idea what's in that letter. We will find out a short time later in the film. During dinner, a drunk Stella (carrying a bottle of J&B) comes to the table with her robe wide open, naked to the world for everyone to see and says to Cheryl that everyone got the same letter to this "phony vacation", the only difference in the letters being the crimes they committed, saying Peter was a drug dealer and she was a street-walking prostitute (it does explain her exhibitionist behavior). She asks Cheryl what crime she is guilty of and she says she has no idea what she is talking about. Stella calls her a "lying bitch", which leads to a catfight (While they are rolling on the floor, Cheryl says to Stella, "Get away from me, get away before I catch syphilis from you!"). David and Peter break it up, David telling Peter to handle the situation further because "screaming women make me nervous", so Peter drags Stella back to her room, kicking and screaming (Lydia then enters the dining room and acts like everything is normal. It could be because Patrick just tried to telepathically rape her!). Dr. Herschel, who just witnessed everything that just happened, sits quietly at the head of the dinner table, a sly smirk on his face. At Stella's room, Peter pours Stella's hidden bottle of J&B down the bathroom sink and gets a bath ready for her. Stella comes on to Peter, inviting him to stay the night, but he says to her, "I usually bang women, not whiskey bottles", so she calls him an asshole and says he wants to sleep with Cheryl, which he denies. Stella then gets into he bubble bath and says, "Don't you like me any more?" When Peter answers "Maybe", Stella shoots back, "The drugs turned you into a faggot!", so Peter says, "Then die alone, bitch!" and leaves the room. These two people are perfect for each other (Hey, assholes need lovin', too!).
     Stella then goes to David's room and hits on him. David is not interested, because we previously saw him playing with a deck of tarot cards trying to tell his fortune and the final card he drew was the Death card (A portend of things to come?). Stella lies on David's bed and invites him to join her, David asking her why she spared him at the dinner table. She says, "It's simple. Because in the end, you will have to defend me." She then puts the moves on David, but he pushes her away, saying, "No, Stella. I don't like garbage, especially a gorilla's garbage" (referring to Peter). Stella calls him a coward and they get into a slap fight (!). When David leaves the room, he tells Stella, "If you're still here in ten minutes, I'll kill you!" Something tells me that David is not into women, both figuratively and literally.
     Slightly retarded clinic worker Meg (Anna Veneziano) tells David that he's in a restricted area, so he asks her if she knows anything about Lyndon's death. She says no, but strange things have been going on here lately. She then kisses David on the lips and he doesn't pull away, but he gives her a strange look as he walks away. Meg then looks down and picks up a Death tarot card. Did David drop it or is it a hint from Patrick that David is next on his list? We don't have to wait long for the answer, because as David is walking on the grounds at night, we hear theremin music on the soundtrack (a sonic hint that Patrick is using his powers). David senses that something is wrong (the wind is blowing, but only in certain areas, ignoring the laws of physics), so he runs and hides, finding himself in the courtyard where the dogs are chained-up, only they are not barking, they are whimpering. In the middle of the courtyard is a well, but an iron gate blocks the well's hole. David then sees Patrick's eyes coming towards him (a cheap optical effect, but still effective) and the iron gate opens by itself, a hook on a chain rising to the top of the well. The hook then pierces David's neck and he is suspended over the well, dead, blood gushing from his neck. A drunk Stella stumbles outside, hearing the dogs howling, and discovers David's bloody, hanging body (I just gotta hear Dr. Herschel's explanation for this death!). Stella runs away screaming, stopping by the resort's giant fountain to splash water on her face. She should have kept running, because she sees Patrick's eyes coming towards her (uh, oh!) and we cut to Peter sleeping, awoken by the howling dogs. Stella runs for her life, hiding out in an unused kitchen at the resort. She opens up a refrigerator and finds a splayed monkey (!) inside it. The lights go out and what happens next is the film's highlight. It is also very hard to watch. A large metal spike floats in the air and enters Stella's vagina (nothing is left to the imagination) and exits out her mouth! (I know she wanted to get laid, but this is ridiculous!). Peter, Cheryl and Lydia hear her screams and find Stella's dead body, looking like a human shish-kabob. Dr. Herschel says Lyndon's death is explainable, but David and Stella's deaths are beyond human logic. Peter, on the other hand, calls all three deaths murders, but Dr. Herschel says who could have done such a thing? Either he's lying or he doesn't know about Patrick's powers (I'm betting on the former). Dr. Herschel tells Peter that he has already called the police and a detective will be here tomorrow morning.
     Patrick then once again calls for Lydia, who shows up in his room and strips naked, gyrating sexually around his comatose body, using one of his bedposts like a sex toy. She then lies down on the couch in his room and Patrick telepathically makes love to her (it looks like a porn film, but without the "money shot"). Peter tells Cheryl that he is leaving the resort and she begs him to take her with him. He gives her five minutes to get her stuff and meet him at his car. We then see Cheryl putting her stuff in the backseat of Peter's car and the automatic window starts to go up on its own, decapitating her! Peter then gets into his car, but when he sees Cheryl's decapitated head in the backseat, all the doors lock and the car fills up with smoke, killing him.
     We then finally discover that Dr. Herschel knows about his son's powers (Patrick feeds off the energy of Dr. Herschel's three other patients, slowly draining them of life and scarring their bodies). He tells Patrick not to stop, there's one more person to kill, but who can it be? All the guests are dead. We then discover that the person in the bus that threw the bottle that put Patrick in a permanent coma could only have been one of six people on the bus. It took Dr. Herschel years to find out their identities and to put his plan of action in the works. Five of the people were the guests he invited to the resort and the sixth person is a new hire. That's right, it is Lydia.  But the question soon becomes: Will Patrick listen to his father and kill the woman he loves or will he do something else? If you want to know the answer, you will have to watch the film. I have to leave something for you to discover, don't I? (Hint: Love is everything, except for fatherly love).
     This is a really perverse film, chock-full of full-frontal nudity and not just the women. But the one thing that couldn't escape my mind is how much Gianni Dei as Patrick looks strikingly like a young Steve Railsback (THE SURVIVALIST - 1987; ED GEIN - 2000), so much so that I found myself believing it was actually him! I know that J&B Scotch is an Italian film favorite when product placement comes into play, but this film swims in it, as five minutes don't go by without seeing the distinctive label on its green bottle or even on ashtrays and pitchers! I half-expected that the resort's swimming pool would be full of the stuff! But the real reason you should watch this film is to see how director Mario Landi uses Piero Regnoli's (director of THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE - 1960; and screenwriter of the excellent CRY OF A PROSTITUTE - 1974; CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD - 1980; and SATAN'S BABY DOLL - 1982) screenplay to insert as much nudity in the film as he possibly can (even the dogs rip off Meg's clothes before mauling her to death!). If you are expecting to discover who actually threw the bottle at Patrick, you will be bitterly disappointed, but does it really even matter? Apparently not, but this film is a sleazy treat, full of near-pornographic nudity and sex, as well as some very graphic violence. They don't make 'em like this any more, folks, and we are all poorer for it.
     Shot as PATRICK VIVE ANCORA (a literal translation of the review title), this film had neither a theatrical or VHS release in the United States, making its first appearance on these shores as a widescreen, uncut DVD from Media Blasters/Shriek Show, which is long OOP. Unfortunately, it has never been upgraded, but I saw a beautiful uncut anamorphic widescreen print on YouTube, in Italian with English subtitles. I wish some enterprising company would get on the ball and give us fans what we want, a nice print on Blu-Ray with all the bells and whistles. Are you listening Severin or Synapse? Not Rated, but if it were, it would need substantial cuts just to get an R-Rating. UPDATE: Now available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Severin Films, the purveyors of everything Italian and bless 'em for it! Thanks for listening, Severin!

PREMONITION (1972) - This is the first directorial effort from Alan Rudolph, a trippy counterculture horror film that displays touches of Rudolph's quirkiness that would blossom much later in his arthouse films, including CHOOSE ME (1984), TROUBLE IN MIND (1985) and MADE IN HEAVEN (1987). The film opens with hippie guitar-playing troubadour Neil (Carl Crow) singing a ballad while walking through a deserted, windswept town and then sitting down and talking directly into the camera. He begins narrating a story that begins three years earlier, when he took a job as a driver/assistant to Professor Kilrenny (Victor Izay; BILLY JACK - 1971), who is looking for an ancient Indian village somewhere in the Mexican desert. As the Professor sets out on his own, Neil builds base camp and smokes some weed. The Professor finds a skeleton lying amongst a field of some strange red plants and runs back to Neil to help him retrieve it. When Neil gets close to the skeleton, he has visions of a horribly-scarred head and when he helps the Professor load the skeleton on the back of the pickup truck and they drive away, Neil has another vision which causes him to crash the truck and destroy the skeleton. The experience forces Neil to give up drugs for three years (although he's smoking a joint while narrating this tale). The story then skips ahead two years, where Neil and his best friend Baker (Winfrey Hester Hill) join a rock band and get a gig at a bar, but Neil's strange behavior gets him and Baker kicked out of the band. Neil and Baker join fellow musician Andy (Tim Ray), who also suffers from some serious nightmares, and form a musical trio. They head for San Francisco on their motorcycles (leading the way for several EASY RIDER [1969]-like vignettes) in hopes of hitting the big time, taking up residence in an old abandoned farmhouse. Andy immediately has a bad case of déjà vu and tells Neil and Baker that something bad happened here (He says, "I saw the Devil here. She was here!" to which Baker jokingly replies, "She couldn't have been here. I left her at home!"). Pretty soon, both Neil and Andy begin sharing the same nightmares, which involves a smoke-shrouded demon, three hippie chicks in a field and Andy getting decapitated. The question soon becomes: Are these nightmares or prophetic visions? When Andy begins smoking the leaves of the red plant (the same red plants that were growing around the skeleton in the Mexico desert), he begins to unravel the mystery, much to Neil's dismay. A chance encounter with Professor Kilrenny and a rock concert at the farmhouse results in Neil and Adam discovering the truth about their nightmares and possibly unleashing a force that will continue to kill for years to come.  PREMONITION is a confusing and dated, yet, somehow, very involving horror film. Sure, it's full of drug references, dated hippy dialogue and trippy visuals (including freak-outs and weird camera angles), but director/producer/writer Alan Rudolph (whose next film would be the god-awful BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD [1974] and would later make the interesting cattle mutilation/conspiracy thriller ENDANGERED SPECIES [1982]) spins a highly involving yarn that rewards the patient viewer. Rudolph tosses-in every visual trick in the book, including flashbacks-within-flashbacks, subliminal editing, solarized shots of hippie chicks dancing, psychedelic trip sequences with lots of colorful gel lighting and a very early example of Steadicam work. While the film is not very bloody (just a quick shot of a decapitation, a burned corpse and bloody head wounds), it is absolutely creepy in spots (especially the shared nightmare) and the droning electronic score that accompanies those sequences are sure to raise some goosebumps. This is an interesting and rarely-seen first feature from a director whose acclaim has come due to his odd choices in subject matter. To the untrained eye, this film may seem to be nothing more than a minor hippie drug horror flick, but auteur Rudolph is actually revealing much more to the viewer. Like most of his films, PREMONITION (also known as HEAD and THE IMPURE) has layers to it that can be peeled away if you know what to look for. This would make a great double feature with Fredric Hobb's ALABAMA'S GHOST (1972). Not to be confused with director Robert Allen Schnitzer's THE PREMONITION (1975), an equally weird and worthwhile foray into minds damaged and destroyed. Also starring Judith Patterson, Durt C. Lodd, Michelle Fitzsimmons, Barry Brown and Shelley Snell. Originally released on VHS by Active Home Video and not available on U.S. DVD. Rated PG.

PSYCHO KICKBOXER: THE DARK ANGEL (1992/1997) - Kickboxer Alex Hunter (Curtis Bush) seemingly has it all: His kickboxing career is taking off, his girlfriend Julia (Stephanie Godfrey) has just accepted his marriage proposal and his father, Chief of Detectives Alan Hunter (George James), is about to put away crime lord Hawthorne (Tom Story) for a long time. Hawthorne's not having any of that (He's so mean, instead of cutting off an underling's pinky finger as a sign of loyalty, he cuts-off the poor schmuck's entire hand!), so he has his thugs kidnap Alex, Alan and Julia as they walk out of a restaurant and brings them to a warehouse, where a tied-up Alex is forced to witness his father getting his head blown-off with a shotgun (a very gory effect) and then watch Julia being gang-raped, followed by having her throat cut. Alex is shot, beaten and left for dead, but he is saved by black wheelchair-bound Vietnam veteran Joshua (Rod Suiter), who nurses Alex back to health and turns him into the "Dark Angel", the psycho kickboxer of the title (We soon find out it was Hawthorne who put Joshua in the wheelchair, not the Vietnam War). Alex, who is wanted by the police in connection with his father and Julia's deaths, thanks to evidence planted at the scene by Alan's crooked cop partner Harry O'Reilly (Ray Brown), dons a black ninja outfit and begins cleaning-up the streets of rapists and drug pushers, which begins to interfere with Hawthorne's criminal enterprises. The cops put a bounty on the Dark Angel's head and Alex gets more attention than he needs when he saves tabloid reporter Cassie Wells (Kim Reynolds) from three rapists. Cassie joins forces with private investigator Jack Cook (Rick Clark) to discover the true identity of the Dark Angel so Cassie can get a front page story and they both can split the reward. As Alex goes on a bloody revenge spree, Hawthorne kidnaps Cassie, Jack and Joshua and forces Alex to fight a series of increasingly more difficult opponents in Hawthorne's nightclub. When Alex runs out of opponents, he turns his attention towards Hawthorne's right-hand man, Hawk (Del Potter), who slit Julia's throat in the beginning of the film, and then Harry, while Joshua, (sans wheelchair), makes sure that Hawthorne doesn't live to see tomorrow.  This ultra-low-budget actioner, directed/produced by Mardy South (his only directorial credit) and written by Kathy Varner, took 14 months to film and nearly five years to find a distributor, yet it is not nearly as awful as it should be. Sure, some of the acting is sub-par, the sound effects over-amped and the photography grainy, but the film has a visceral energy that can't be denied and there is some extreme gore on display here that is surprisingly well-done (and unusual in a flick like this). The visceral energy comes courtesy of star Curtis "The Explosive Thin Man" Bush, who was 5-time World Kickboxing Champion and a professional middleweight boxer at the time of this film's release. While he's not much of an actor (he's usually plays a background extra on TV shows like LOST [2004 - 2010]), his martial arts sequences are usually very well done and violent as hell. This is the type of film where every rapist, drug dealer and street scum has extensive martial arts experience, which makes for highly improbable, yet entertaining, street fights. My favorite scene comes when Alex saves a woman from a carjacking by beating her attacker to a bloody pulp. The woman then becomes so enraged, she starts her car and runs over her attacker's head, squashing it like some ripe watermelon. It's scenes like this which keeps the viewer totally off-balance and while I would never call PSYCHO KICKBOXER a good film by any stretch of the imagination (it's anemic budget shines through in nearly every scene), I must say that it was much better than I expected it to be. It's got paraplegic-fu, a knife in the forehead, full-frontal female nudity and bursts of graphic gore (although the DVD artwork, depicting Alex kicking some guy's head completely off his shoulders in a geyser of blood, appears nowhere in the film). You could do a lot worse and probably have. Filmed entirely in Hampton Roads, Virginia using local talent exclusively in front and behind the camera. Also starring Frank Gagnano, George James and Andrew Peele. Originally released on VHS by E.I. Independent Cinema and now available on DVD from Shock-O-Rama Cinema as part of a double feature, with the equally weird, but less than stellar CANVAS OF BLOOD (1997). Not Rated.

A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY (1968) - Leonardo Ferri (Franco Nero; THE THIRD EYE - 1966) is a popular abstract artist, but he has not created anything new in the past three months, so he tells his married sales agent/part-time lover Flavia (Vanessa Redgrave; THE DEVILS - 1971) that he needs to get out of Milan to recharge his creative batteries. He is drawn to an abandoned mansion in a tiny village in Venice and tells Flavia, against her wishes, that he wants to live there because it is the perfect place for him to create. Flavia rents the mansion for Leonardo and he and some workers, including his new housekeeper Egle (Rita Calderoni; BLACK MAGIC RITES - 1973), make the place livable again. Leonardo discovers that the large holes in one of the outside walls of the mansion were caused by bullets shot from an American warplane during World War II, but why is someone leaving a bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers at the wall several times a week? Leonardo is determined (some would say obsessed) to find out who and why they are doing this and it will lead him to a supernatural mystery that will haunt him for the rest of his life. How long that is depends on his actions.
     Leonardo soon discovers that it wasn't just the wall that was shot on that day in the early-1940's. Also shot and killed was 17-year-old Wanda (Gabriella Grimaldi; JOHNNY HAMLET - 1968), known to people in the village as the "Little Contessa." Leonardo believes the spirit of Wanda haunts the mansion, as whenever Flavia pays him a visit, bad things happen to her, like a ceiling collapsing on her, invisible hands trying to pull her through a hole in the floor, a heavy bookcase nearly falling on her and a hot water heater exploding why she is taking a shower, all incidents which could have been fatal for her, but she manages to escape harm. But she is so freaked out, she refuses to spend a night in the mansion. One night, Leonardo has a nightmare where he sees his new studio destroyed, but when he wakes up, he discovers that it wasn't a nightmare at all. When Leonardo goes to Egle's bedroom to see if she knows anything about the mess, he discovers that she has a lover in there (Renato Menegotto), who is hiding under the bed and Egle tells him it is her "little brother"! (Leonardo, of course, doesn't believe her. We see him staring at Egle's breasts several times in the film and one time he grabs her breast and she doesn't put up much of a fight!).
     Leonardo discovers some facts about Wanda when he questions some villagers at the local pub. All the men describe her as amazingly beautiful, but all the women call her a "whore" and a "slut", saying Wanda would drop her clothes at the sight of any man, handsome or ugly; further saying that she was a nymphomaniac who had many male lovers at the same time. Leonardo also discovers that Wanda's favorite color was red, so he has some workers (including Egle and her "little brother") paint the outside columns of the mansion bright red, in hopes that Wanda would reveal herself to him (I often wonder if this film is where Clint Eastwood got the idea to "paint the town red" in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER - 1973). Leonard believes that Wanda wants him to live in this mansion permanently and rationalizes that she is jealous of Flavia, which is why bad things happen to her every time she is in the mansion. He may be right, but is it wise to tempt a ghost? He will soon find out. Leonardo also discovers that Wanda's mother (Madeleine Damien; THE DAY OF THE JACKAL - 1973) is still alive, so he goes to visit her in hopes of finding out more about her daughter. The mother is old, frail and penniless (pay close attention to how Leonardo sees her in his twisted mind) and in one room she has a virtual monument to her daughter, the walls and tables full of photos and memorabilia of Wanda. She tells Leonardo to look in a box containing more photos of Wanda, so he takes all of them, after dropping some money in the box, and leaves, ignoring the mother's pleas for him to spend some time with her because she never gets visitors.
     Leonardo finds out that the man leaving flowers at the wall is married butcher Attilio (Georges Geret; A REASON TO LIVE, A REASON TO DIE - 1972), who tells Leonardo about his affair with Wanda before she was killed (He tells Leonardo he witnessed Wanda being shot by the warplane). He first met Wanda when he was a teenager walking down a dirt road and she was driving her car. She pulled up beside him and revealed that she was completely naked (!) and from that moment on, they became lovers, even though he knew that she had many other lovers, some of them his friends, but she was so damn beautiful he couldn't help himself. He shows Leonardo a secret small room in the mansion where they would make love and tells him to pay close attention to the mirror in the room. It's actually a two-way mirror and Attilio tells Leonardo he can't prove it, but he believes that Wanda's mother watched them having sex and Wanda was fully aware of it!
     Wanda's spirit begins to haunt and tease Leonardo, wearing a red dress and riding her bike inside the mansion. Leonardo's mind is so fertile (He has Walter Mitty-like visions throughout the film, but unlike Mitty, some of his visions are downright strange and bizarre), we must figure out if Wanda is actually haunting him or if it's all just in his mind. Leonardo invites the villagers to the mansion for a party, only to reveal to Flavia that they are holding a séance to contact Wanda. The male medium (an uncredited David Maunsell; APOCALYPSE MERCENARIES - 1987) contacts Wanda and an old pair of scissors (which Leonardo keeps finding around the mansion) appears on the table, pointing at Attilio. The table begins to move and bang, telling the medium that Wanda does not want Attilio in the mansion. Attilio accuses everyone of arranging this, calling them "clowns", saying that it happened many years ago and it is not something to laugh about, as he storms out of the mansion.  What does Attilio mean by that? The spirit of Wanda then apparently tries to strangle Flavia, so she orders everyone to get out of the mansion immediately. But was it Wanda who tried to strangle her? If you answered no, you would be correct. Has Leonardo finally lost his mind?
     This nearly indescribable film (I did my best to summarize the plot, but this is a film better viewed than explained), directed/co-written by Elio Petri  (director/screenwriter of THE 10TH VICTIM (1965); the Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning [for Best Foreign Language Film] INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION - 1970; and PROPERTY IS NO LONGER A THEFT - 1973), with a writing assist by Luciano Vincenzoni (DUCK, YOU SUCKER - 1971; MEAN FRANK AND CRAZY TONY - 1973), is part fantasy, part supernatural horror, part mystery, part love story and 100% unique. There's nothing quite like it, at least as far as I'm concerned. Filmed with a late-'60s pop art sensibility (check out Leonardo's apartment in the beginning of the film, where phrases like "We have a happening to go to at 6:00 pm" are heard), this movie manages to hold your complete attention, even though you are not sure what direction it is heading. It's all thanks to Petri's keen sense on where to place the camera and his off-kilter narrative, Ruggero Mastroianni's (FLAVIA THE HERETIC - 1974; HEARTS AND ARMOUR - 1983) rapid-fire editing (over a decade before the "MTV Generation") and Franco Nero's affecting performance as a man dancing on the edge of madness. It just proves why Franco was (and still is) an actor who was much in demand, not only in Italian films, but in international productions as well. His performance here is enthralling without a single false note, in a role that would make many other actors fail miserably. Vanessa Redgrave is also excellent as a woman who accepts Leonardo as a man with many eccentricities, including reading porno magazines in front of her and bouts of rough sex, but she literally rolls with the punches until she discovers Leonardo's true self and comes up with a plan of revenge that is not only satisfying, it also ends the film. She and Leonardo are contrasting personalities; Flavia loves electronic devices, but Leonardo abhors them. When Flavia buys Leonardo a bunch of electronic appliances for the mansion's ancient kitchen, Leonardo shows his displeasure by using the dishwasher to clean his paintbrushes. When Leonardo is accused of killing Flavia after the police find her bloody clothes in an overturned refrigerator (one of Flavia's gifts to him), we discover that a crazy artist is more profitable then a sane one, as an asylum attendant (Leonardo has to spend the rest of his life in an insane asylum) bribes Leonardo to create more new art by giving him porno magazines and he collects the art and hands them over to a very much alive Flavia, who has been making a mint with Leonardo's new stuff (which looks like an abstract vagina!), while Leonardo watches out of his asylum room's window. Flavia makes a remark that she is almost jealous of Leonardo, living in such a lovely place and then the film ends. The crazy opening and closing credits will make you wonder if David Fincher's SE7EN (1995) opening and closing credits weren't influenced by this film. The editing and Ennio Morricone's (NIGHTMARE CASTLE - 1965) music score keeps the viewer off-balance, as we are not sure if what we are seeing and hearing are real or part of Leonardo's fractured mind. Some of the more outrageous visions Leonardo has are his image of Wanda's mother, who he imagines as a series of coffins, one of them sitting up (it must be seen to be appreciated) and him not casting a reflection in the small room's mirror, both of them surprising and twistedly humorous. I cannot recommend this film enough. If you are in the mood for something different, this is the film for you!
     Shot as UN TRANQUILLO POSTO DI CAMPAGNA ("A Quiet Country Place"), this Italian/French co-production had a U.S. theatrical release by United Artists, and even though it was R-Rated by the MPAA, it was still edited for scenes of full frontal female nudity, which was still a no-no in R-Rated films back in the day. This edited print made its way to VHS by MGM/UA Home Video and then on DVD-R as part of MGM Home Entertainment's MOD line. The Blu-Ray released by Shout! Factory is the fully unedited version, packed with extras, including a new interview with Franco Nero. If you don't want to purchase the disc, you can find the unedited version streaming on YouTube from user "Der Joker", but this is a film that you will want to make a permanent addition to your film library. Also featuring Arnaldo Momo (WATCH ME WHEN I KILL - 1977), Renato Lupi (NAKED VIOLENCE - 1969), Umberto Di Grazia (THE RED HEADED CORPSE - 1972) and John Francis Lane (THE WITCH'S CURSE - 1962) as the asylum attendant. Not Rated.

THE RAPE AFTER (1985) - Holy Christ! What a demented film. I mean that in the best possible way and, because it was made by the director of BLACK MAGIC (1975), it may just be one of the best Hong Kong horror films I have ever seen. Believe me, that's saying a lot. Model Shu Ya (Chun Wai Man) has one of the most depressing lives I have ever witnessed. When she is not posing for photographs, she is either visiting her severely deformed brother Doggie (Who names their kid "Doggie"?!?) at a special facility run by nuns (Shu Ya tries to teach Doggie proper table etiquette, like serving tea, but she ends up puking her guts out when Doggie stirs the tea with his deformed hand!) or visiting her ultra-religious mother, who hates her husband (Shu Ya and Doggie's father) so much, she has Shu Ya bring her special tea to mask the "stink" of her husband's clothes (Mom is also a terrible housekeeper since Dad disappeared two months ago, as her apartment is full of cobwebs and rats, but we will find out more about that as the film progresses). One night, Shu Ya goes to the apartment of photographer Mo Hsein-Sheng (Melvin Wong), who has just finished snapping photos of her at a temple for an advertising job. His apartment is full of grotesque artifacts and statues, including a nasty-looking demon statue that he has just stolen from the temple, and they both get drunk on champagne, throw-up and pass out. The demon statue comes to life and rapes Shu Ya on the bed (the demon is covered with pulsating pustules and is quite the disgusting sight) while Mo is unconscious, passed-out on the coffee table. The following morning, they both wake up as if nothing has happened, but it is quite obvious by the worried looks on the monks at the temple when they discover that the statue was stolen, that Shu Ya and Mo are never going to be the same again and we, the viewers, are going to be in for one wild ride. First, Shu Ya discovers that Mo is a womanizing bastard (she should have realized it when she discovered a pair of panties on his bed and he tells her that they are his mother's!) and he blows her off by giving her some photos of them together. Next, she discovers her father's rotting corpse (a rat crawls out of his mouth!) in her mother's closet and Mom tells Shu Ya that she murdered him two months ago when he came home drunk and tried to rape her. She also tells Shu Ya that dear old Dad was full of syphilis, which would explain why Doggie is severely deformed and retarded. Mom ends the conversation by telling Shu Ya that she should get a medical check-up (Mom is one piece of work, isn't she?). Meanwhile, Mo puts the moves on Li Ting Ting (Tsang Hing Yu), the pretty daughter of the Master of the temple where he stole the statue. When Shu Ya discovers that she is pregnant, Mo takes her to an illegal abortion clinic (that he has used before), where Shu Ya discovers a refrigerator full of aborted fetuses. When the doctor tries to perform an abortion on Shu Ya, the demon suddenly appears, strangling the nurse and shoving a hypodermic needle in the doctor's eye. A few months later, Shu Ya forces Mo to drive her to the hospital when the baby is due, but when Mo refuses to accept that he is the father (he's right, of course, but he's still a cad) and tells her he is in love with Li Ting Ting, they get into a car accident and Shu Ya is burned alive, her last words cursing Mo's life. The events that happen next are some of the most gruesome and amazing set pieces in Hong Kong horror film history, as a grotesque monster baby is born during Shu Ya's autopsy (it rips-off the medical examiner's head!) and escapes into the night seeking revenge on Mo and those close to him. To say any more would be a great disservice to the viewer (everything I have described happens in the first 40 minutes!), so be ready for a wild ride, because revenge is a dish best served dead.  Even the most jaded Hong Kong horror film fanatic will be surprised by this dark, brooding piece of depravity. For once, there is not one iota of humor in this film, as director Ho Meng-Hua (BLACK MAGIC - 1975; THE OILY MANIAC - 1975; BLACK MAGIC 2 - 1976; THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN - 1977) piles-on scene after scene of atmospheric and unbelievable sights, such as frog-puking (a priest performs some unsanitary brain surgery on some poor possessed man and pulls out a live frog!); grave robbing and desecration; a scene where Li Ting Ting's housekeeper dices the fingers of her hands with a cleaver before burying it in her skull; a giant zombie with a taste for human ears; a horde of zombies rising out of their coffins and making a meal out of some unfortunate monks trying to help Mo; and some disturbing sequences where possessed children plead with Li Ting Ting's father to "Pass me the embryo!" This movie has the distinction of having the most scenes of people puking than any other horror movie in history (discounting the "vomit gore" films Lucifer Valentine, but they hardly register as films, never mind horror films). This is unforgettable stuff, folks, so be prepared for what you are about to witness. Strong stomachs required. Some review and reference sites list cinematographer Tom Lau Moon Tong as the director of this film, but the on-screen credits plainly state that Ho Meng-Hua is the director. Also starring Ha Ping, Chan Yau Hau, Chang Cheng-Yu and Sul Tsui. THE RAPE AFTER was never legitimately available on home video in the U.S.; lucky viewers may find the VHS tape or VCD, both released by Ocean Shores Video (In Mandarin, with hardcoded Chinese and English subtitles) on eBay or other auction sites. Not Rated.

THE RAPTURE (1991) - Should be subtitled THE DAY ALL HEAVEN BROKE LOOSE. Attempting a description of this film is like trying to explain the color orange to a blind man. Mimi Rodgers (great performance) is Sharon, who by day has a boring job as a telephone operator and by night cruises airport bars and motels with her sexual partner, Vic (Patrick Bauchau), looking for couples to swing with. At her job she overhears a trio of her co-workers talking about "The Dream" and "The Boy". No one will tell her what it means explaining that she will understand it all if she puts her trust and love in God. "The Dream" is actually a vision of The Rapture, when God comes down to Earth to pass judgment. All those who do not believe in Him will perish, and will not be able to enter Heaven. "The Boy" is a black child prophet who knows the year when the Rapture will happen. Sharon becomes born again and leaves behind her life of sexual debauchery. She marries and has a baby girl. Six years pass and she and her family are still living the life of God. Tragedy strikes when Sharon's husband (David Duchovny) is gunned down, along with a half dozen other people, by an alcoholic ex-employee he recently fired. Sharon has a vision which she interprets as meaning God wants her and her daughter to go to the desert and wait for Him to take them to Heaven. After many weeks and some false alarms, Sharon becomes disillusioned. Partly due to malnutrition and exposure and partly due to her religious fervor, she decides that God wants her to kill her daughter so she can be in Heaven with her daddy. Sharon cannot kill herself because that would be a sin. She is arrested and loses her faith. The remainder of the film is genuinely eerie and goosebump-inducing, so I will not spoil it for you. This sleeper of 1991 is sure to become a classic in the years to come. Sprinkled throughout with weird visuals (i.e. religious symbolism tatooed on a naked lady), nudity and shocking bits of violence. It's like tripping on acid without the after effects. Everyone is to be congratulated in front and behind the camera. Highly recommended! Director Michael Tolkin (THE NEW AGE - 1994) could never top this one in a million years. A New Line Home Video Release. Rated R.

REBORN (1984) - This would make a great double feature with THE RAPTURE (1991). This one is an ultra-weird indictment against televised evangalism. Dennis Hopper is Reverend Tom Harley, who performs bogus faith healings coast-to-coast via satellite. The Reverend's associates catch wind of a true faith healer in Italy and send Michael Moriarty to bring her back to the States so she can tour with the Reverend's group. Mary (Antonella Murgia), the faith healer, is a virgin and falls in love with Moriarty. In one of the strangest scenes in film history, Moriarty's dick gets stuck inside Mary's vagina when she passes out while making love for the first time (every man's nightmare!). Mary is soon separated from Moriarty by the Reverend, as she is taught English, shaved under the armpits and generally Americanized. The Reverend has made her a viable commercial property. Mary slips deeper and deeper into depression and Moriarty begins to hear voices emanating from his boom box and television. Moriarty finds out Mary is pregnant and steals her away from the Reverend. Mary delivers her baby (a boy) at a gas station with the help of three old attendants. (Get it?) After seeing one of Mary's true healings, the Reverend becomes a true believer and is born again. And did I mention that God pilots a helicopter? This little-seen film is a must for fans of the bizarre. It boasts a fairly restrained performance by Hopper, Moriarty's usual quirky acting (an asset for most films he appears in), along with nudity and some strange religious imagery. No blood is on hand because the story line is devoid of violence. Director Bigas (I bet he was teased a lot in school) Luna also made the equally weird and enjoyable ANGUISH (1986). Co-star Francisco Rabal can also be seen in CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (1980), William Friedkin's SORCERER (1977) and his final film, Stuart Gordon's DAGON (2001). REBORN is immensely entertaining. An Ace Video Release. Rated R.

THE RED HEADED CORPSE (1972) - Seldom seen Italian/Turkey hybrid that is 50% giallo, 50% psychological thriller and 100% weird. A cast of seasoned pros helps this film achieve its goals and a little-known director (working from his own script) lifts this a step above most Italian films in this genre, even though you can probably guess the ending. It's the trip to that ending which makes this film enjoyable.
     John Ward (Farley Granger; AMUCK - 1971) is a starving artist in Turkey who barely makes a living with his paintings, selling them to an art gallery owner for outrageously low sums (Once you see his paintings, you'll know why. I'm surprised he is not out on the streets selling pencils!). Once inside his studio, John notices a man on a motorcycle staring at him intently through his window. When John goes to confront the man, he takes off. That night, someone wearing black gloves and carrying a flashlight sneaks into John's studio while he is sleeping on a chair. It is obvious this person is looking for something, finding a black and white photo of John with a woman. The person is almost discovered by a waking John, but the person escapes with the photo, John none the wiser. A short time later, a man with a Turkish accent walks into a bar and asks a hooker (Aydin Terzel) if she knows this woman, showing her the photo of John with the woman. The hooker says, "Oh, sure, the redhead! She's the boss' girlfriend!" The hooker then looks worried, as if she has said too much, and she excuses herself to go to the bathroom.
     The next morning, John runs outside when he hears the mototcycle, discovering a group of hippies having a love-in on the property next to his studio. One hippie approaches him and offers to turn him on. John says no and the hippie says to him, "Why? Do you like the world as it is?" John just replies, "I don't give a damn!" and the hippie says, "Yeah, your right, it's shit" and then leaves to join his group. John notices one hippie with a chick who listens to his every word and they leave, their love-in over. The hippy walks up to John once again, this time with a female mannequin (it's a strange-looking mannequin, with loose limbs, almost like a huge doll), giving it to John after noticing him looking at the hippie chick, saying, "You want a girl like that, too, huh? Well, here's one to make your very own. She's better than the real thing. She'll never talk back and she'll always be waiting. Just take care of her and you can have her...with my blessings." From that moment on, John's life will never be the same. John takes the mannequin to his studio and tells her that he doesn't like the look of her face (it is blank), so he "fixes her up" with his paints, making her look like his ideal woman and tells her his innermost feelings. It's obvious John is a sandwich short of a picnic, but he seems really happy now.
     John goes to a bar and turns down hooker Mala's (Ivana Novak; SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS - 1972) offer of sex. He leaves the bar and Mala follows him (with his blessing), telling John she has no place to stay. Mala finds a room in a seedy hotel and invites John to come inside, which he does. She wants to make love to John (But first she says, "Don't look at me. I'm ashamed of myself!") and discovers he is an artist, offering to be the model for one of his paintings, but John has someone better in mind: his mannequin. He goes to his studio and says to the mannequin, "I'll make you lovely, a dream. You'll be lovely, pure and...faithful. Everything a woman should be!" John begins to treat the mannequin like a real woman and when he scrapes a piece of debri off her back with a knife, the mannequin bleeds, revealing herself to John as a real woman (Krista Nell; THE SLASHER...IS THE SEX MANIAC! - 1972 [also with Granger]; listed here in the credits as "The Subservient Doll"). He covers her naked body with his red sweater and begins painting again, only this time his paintings fetch much more money than they did before. His new muse is unable to speak, but she does everything John wants in a woman, making him very happy. That happiness won't last very long, however, as John gives her some womens clothing he has in his studio and when she puts them on, John has some very bad memories, ordering his muse to take the clothes off, making us wonder about the clothes' original owner.
     John gets drunk and passes out, waking up with a different, red-headed woman beneath him (Erika Blanc; THE DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE - 1971; listed in the credits here as "The Sensuous Doll" [an alternate title to this film]). Then his paintings again don't sell too well, the art gallery owner telling John that the gallery needs something more "commercial", such as beautiful women in pornographic poses. John doesn't want to paint pornography, but when he goes back to his studio, the Sensuous Doll eggs-on John to paint a pornographic picture of herself, which sells very well (maybe too well) and John becomes a best-selling painter of porn. John is not a happy man because the Sensuous Doll verbally abuses him every chance she gets and is having an affair with his neighbor, Omar Bay (Venantino Venantini; CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1980). A wealthy Turkish buyer of John's porno paintings (Erol Keskin) offers him an outrageous amount of money for another nude painting, which John needs because the Sensuous Doll spends his money as fast as he can make it, on expensive clothing, jewelry and other high-priced trinkets, something John hates in a woman.  At this point in the film, we have to ask ourselves if the Sensuous Doll is real or just something in John's twisted mind? Is she having an affair with his neighbor (and later, his wealthy buyer) or is all this happening for another reason?
     The Sensuous Doll is the complete opposite of what John expects from a woman, but why did she pick this time to come into John's life? Maybe if we find out who originally wore those womens clothing in his studio, we could get a better clue on why John is so suspicious of this new red-headed woman in his life. The Sensuous Doll hardly ever leaves her studio (when she does, she tempts a teenage boy by asking him to put sunscreen lotion on her back, describing to him in detail how he should do it, which would turn-on a deaf man!) and every time John comes home, she asks him what he bought her. If he comes home empty-handed, she throws a hissy fit and won't talk to him, which even makes him more suspicious, especially when he finds Omar's cigar butts in his ashtray.  She knows how to push John's buttons, which makes us wonder if the Sensuous Doll is nothing but a a strange amalgam of memories in John's mind of the mystery woman he never talks about. But what happened to her? Is it possible that the Sensuous Doll is possessed by the spirit of that woman or is there a more down-to-earth explanation? Either way, John will soon pay for his past.
     This is the last film of director/screenwriter Renzo Russo's career. Very little is known about Russo (including when he died), but he made a few "mondo" films in the early-'60s, including VENEZUELA BY NIGHT (1961) and HOT WORLD AT NIGHT (1962), unknown on these shores because the most successful mondo film of all time, MONDO CANE (1962; directed by Paolo Cavara [PLOT OF FEAR - 1976], Franco Prosperi [WILD BEASTS - 1984] & Gualtiero Jacopetti [FAREWELL UNCLE TOM - 1971]), wasn't released in the United States until 1963. While this film is nothing spectacular, it does have some positive points, including Farley Granger's laid-back performance as a psycho about to lose control and discovering the clues that tell us who the red-headed woman in the photo actually is. Erika Blanc is also good as a woman without a moral bone in her body. Her debasement of John is this film's glue, as we can't wait for the time John loses control, showing us exactly what he did to the red-haired woman in the photo. We see John hugging the Sensuous Doll while stabbing her over-and-over, killing her and then burying her in his backyard. Is it possible that the red-haired woman is buried there, too, or is what we are watching nothing more than an "instant replay" in John's mind? Bet on the latter, as everything John did is explained in detail in the film's finale (much in the same way as the finale of Hitchcock's PSYCHO - 1960), where even the men in this film are actually other people (the neighbor is the red-headed woman's fiance, the wealthy Turkish buyer is a police detective investigating her disappearance and the art gallery owner is the detective's assistant). Everything is resolved in a nice and tidy manner. This film also has some nice Turkish scenery, showing us a location vastly underused in filmmaking history (in the final credits, there is a "Special Thanks" to Ministry of Tourism and Information of Turkey).
     Filmed as LA ROSSA DALLA PELLE CHE SCOTTA ("The Redhead With Hot Skin"), this film gained a U.S. theatrical release under the previously mentioned title THE SENSUOUS DOLL (from Beacon Releasing) and the only legal VHS release it had was from label Private Screenings (A Media Home Entertainment sublabel), in a slightly cut version under the title SWEET SPIRITS. All other VHS releases were by gray market sellers, such as Trash Palace, European Trash Cinema Video and the likes. This received an uncut widescreen DVD from Retromedia Entertainment (under the review title), using a beat-up English-dubbed French Canadian print, with plenty of emulsion scratches (especially in the opening minutes), but it is serviceable. What isn't serviceable are the loud bird chirps Retromedia inserted into the first ten minutes of the film, so they could claim exclusive rights to their "version" of this film. This way, no other company could legally copy it (Fred Olen Ray, the founder of Retromedia, was, and still is, a litigious person. I was once a victim of his litigiousness due to a bad review I gave of one of his releases! He lost.). Retromedia did this on many of their DVD releases, especially their Public Domain (PD) titles, of which this film seems to be one. My review is based on the print used on Retromedia's free streaming site, which is the same print they used for their DVD. At least I didn't have to pay for it, but I had to suffer through commercials inserted every ten minutes or so, a common practice on free streaming sites (proving nothing is really free, including your time). Also starring Umberto Di Grazia (A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY - 1968), Giorgio Dolfin (DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - 1973),Filippo Perrone (STAR ODYSSEY - 1978) and Fatma Karanfil. Rated R.

REDNECK (1973) - What a ridiculously entertaining film. Two thieves, Mosquito (Franco Nero) and Memphis (Telly Savalas, sporting the phoniest Southern drawl I've heard in quite a while), rob a jewelry store in Rome and kill the owner. In their haste to escape, their getaway driver, Maria (Ely Galleani), wrecks the car (she drives straight into a funeral procession, dislodging the coffin from the back of a hearse and dragging it across the pavement!), forcing them to steal another car. They don't realize that thirteen year-old Lennox Duncan (Mark Lester) is in the back seat until they stop for gas. Lennox tries to escape by running through a field of sheep, but the trio recapture him and Memphis murders a little boy shephard just so there will be no witnesses (a truly shocking scene). When Mosquito's connection doesn't show up at the prearranged location (an auto junkyard) to fence the stolen jewels for cash, the trio (plus boy) must find a way to get safely to France, using little Lennox as a "passport". When they are forced to stop at a roadblock and the dope-smoking Memphis notices how the police are helpless as long as they have Lennox captive, Memphis sees this as his ticket to easy street. They steal a Rolls Royce from two old ladies on the side of the road and Memphis picks up two street hookers for some personal enjoyment. When he goes to pay them with some of the stolen jewels, Memphis discovers that all he and Mosquito stole from the jewelry store was nothing but worthless cutlery. Everything changes after that. The trio turns on each other and Lennox uses that knowledge to his advantage. Maria wants to leave on her own, but Memphis rapes, then kills her. He then puts her body in the Rolls and pushes it over a cliff. Lennox, meanwhile, has aligned himself with Mosquito, as they search for a now-missing Memphis and the now-dead Maria (Mosquito lets Lennox take sips from his J&B Scotch bottle to keep warm and he gets drunk!). They come upon a mansion of an aging Princess (Maria Michi), who feeds and gives them shelter. Mosquito and Lennox slowly become friends (Mosquito  even shaves in the nude in front of him!), but one gets the feeling that Lennox is wise beyond his years. A psychotic Memphis shows up at the mansion and soon it's a battle of wills. Lennox begins playing Memphis and Mosquito against each other as they try to stay one step ahead of the police while trying to make it across the border. Of course, things turn out badly for everyone involved, but only one will make it out alive as a totally changed individual.  This British/Italian co-production is a real hard film to categorize. One moment it's a heist thriller, then it's a chase drama and then it's a slapstick comedy, but all the while it has a real nasty edge to it, thanks to the over-the-top performance by Telly Savalas as Memphis. Maybe "over-the-top" is being too mild, as Savalas plays his character as a no-remorse, soulless psychopath, who sings "Jesus Loves The Little Children" while blowing away kids, women and even a dog (!) and then screaming incoherently, "I didn't want to do it! They made me do it!" While Savalas' laughable Southern accent comes and goes, his savagery never wavers, especially the scene where he locks a family in a mobile home and dumps them in a lake, blaming his act on Lennox for trying to tell them who he is (Memphis' balls get caught on the trailer hitch when he pushes the trailer and he spends the rest of the film with a huge blood stain on the crotch of his pants!). Surprisingly, the only nudity on display here is from Franco Nero (THE FIFTH CORD - 1971; DAY OF THE COBRA - 1980) and Mark Lester (SUDDEN TERROR - 1970; WHO SLEW AUNTIE ROO? - 1971), as director Silvio Narizzano (THE CLASS OF MISS MACMICHAEL - 1978; BLOODBATH - 1979) uses Win Wells' script as a showcase for a battle of personalities. While no one trusts anyone else, they stick together because they have no one else in their lives to care about them. Even Lennox's wealthy mother (Beatrice Clary) doesn't know her own son's age when she reports him missing to the police, so it's no wonder why Lennox is such a fucked-up, conniving kid. I especially liked the nihilistic ending that shows people like Memphis aren't born that way, they're created as a by-product of their environment. Memphis is really the only person in this film who truly understands Lennox and his motivations (and, therefore, doesn't trust him), so it comes as no surprise who Lennox morphs into in the final shot. REDNECK is a strange hybrid of a film that works, thanks to (and, sometimes, in spite of) Telly Savalas' grandstanding performance. Strictly 70's in terms of actions and consequences, morality and greed. Catch it if you can. Also starring Duilio Del Prete, Aldo De Carellis and Tom Duggan. This use to play on TV (in edited form, naturally) during the 70's and early 80's and I don't believe this ever got a legitimate U.S. home video release. Available on British DVD from WHE Europe Limited. Not Rated.

RED VELVET (2009) - Even though this film was made in 2009 (under the shooting title "The Birthday Party"), it got very spotty distribution besides a few film festivals, even though those who have seen it have given it great reviews. Hell, you still can only buy it on a Made-on-Demand DVD-R (No big deal for me, but I know it's a turn-off by "purists", even though the anamorphic widescreen print looks amazing. Try Amazon to get a MOD copy. They are the exclusive distributors.). I think it's a wonderful film to add to your library, no matter which format it is released on. The film begins with Aaron (Henry Thomas; E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - 1982; DEAD BIRDS - 2004) trying to do some work in his apartment, but every night he has to put up with the screaming arguments and throwing objects tantrums of his next-door neighbors, Linda (Kelli Garner; HORNS - 2013) and Kyle (Jordan Hagan). The walls are thin, so Aaron can hear everything and it's impossible for him to get things done. Aaron meets Linda at the local laundromat, where their conversation about what he hears through his walls gets contentious at times (Aaron tells her, "PlayStations don't cry, Linda!"). They both seem to get a thrill putting each other down (Aaron is sporting a black eye, but he refuses to tell Linda how he got it.). They decide to have lunch together at the local Thai restaurant, where they continue their adversarial conversation, until Aaron tells her that he is a storyteller. As we watch the Thai cook squish a cockroach on the cooking grill as she flicks it away with her cooking utensils (which is why I don't eat Thai food!), Aaron tells Linda a story. It is about a family of four, the father (S.A. Griffin; NEAR DARK - 1987), daughter (Carli Westerman; KING OF THE ANTS - 2003) and son (Austin Whitlock) sitting around a dinner table, while they hear their crazy wife/mother (Carol Ann Susi; best known for her portrayal of the voice of recurring unseen character Mrs. Wolowitz on the television series THE BIG BANG THEORY; she passed away on November 11, 2014), who Dad says is off her meds, complaining about how her family doesn't appreciate her. She comes out of the kitchen with a spaghetti dinner and serves it to them with her hands, still complaining that her family takes advantage of her (she's quite scary, actually). She threatens her son with bodily harm, but Dad warns her not to touch him. She stares at her son and says, "They won't be around forever. Just you wait. Just you wait!" That night, Dad, aided by his son and daughter, suffocate her with a pillow while she is sleeping in bed and then just stand there, looking at the twisted face on her corpse. Linda is not impressed with Aaron's story because it is not "horrific" enough, so he tells her another story about a ninja that cuts off the female Thai's cook's head and cooks it, the severed head saying while it is cooking in the wok, "It needs a little more fish salt!" (There's an ingenious little moment where, when the cook's head is cut off, the blood splatters on a photo of a Thai pop star. We see the photo come to life as he looks at all the blood on his clothes! This film is full of those little moments.). When the ninja takes off the face covering, it turns out to be Linda, but even that story doesn't cheer her up because she wants to go to a party in a secluded cabin in the woods with her friends to celebrate a birthday, but Kyle won't let her borrow the car to drive there. Aaron says he will make a "custom" story for Linda about the party she is going to miss, but he needs some background information first, including where the secluded cabin is located, the names of her friends who will be there (including birthday boy Frank [Bret Roberts; THE VIOLENT KIND - 2010] and Linda's sister Pat [Cristen Coppen; STAUNTON HILL - 2009]). With that information, Aaron begins to tell her his story, but the story keeps on changing due to Linda's constant interruptions of descriptions of her friends' looks and what type of cars they drive. Aaron continues telling his story, where Frank enters the cabin with Pat and everyone begins to party, but he is interrupted again, this time by the female Thai waitress, who says that she has seen Linda before. Aaron gets back to his story, but now Frank and the gang are heading to the local lake to do some swimming and rafting. Frank stops the story and says a story like this needs a maniac to crash the party, so he asks Linda to help him create the perfect maniac for the story. They come up with some weird ideas, like a maniac totally in blackface and another maniac with a toaster on his head (we see these maniacs on-screen and they are quite funny). They almost come up with a perfect maniac with a guy with a stocking over his head wrapped with barb wire, but they finally settle on a maniac wearing a black a ski mask with bunny ears, a Polaroid camera attached to the top of his head (so he can take photos of his dead victims), dressed in a one-piece white uniform (the kind that has a long zipper in the front) with a pink tool belt (that last one was Linda's idea). While Frank and his friends are having fun at the lake, Jon (Kevin Wheatley; RISE: BLOOD HUNTER - 2006) returns to the cabin to pick up a CD player so they can listen to some tunes. The maniac wraps a thick wire around Jon's neck and strangles him until the CD player is pressed up against his ear. Linda is not too pleased that her friends are getting killed in the story, but Aaron convinces her that it will improve his story and Linda says, "Death is too good for them!", so Aaron continues his story. But before he can tell any more, the waitress brings the check and Linda heads back to the laundromat to fold her laundry (Aaron yells out, "Kyle's a hobby. I'm for real!"). Aaron meets Linda back at the laundromat (where she teaches him how to properly fold clothes) and he tells Linda that if she really wants to be at the party, she would find a way to get there. Aaron tells Linda that he has a vision of Kyle, where he almost chokes to death on popcorn while watching sports on TV, almost gets stabbed by a butcher knife when he falls to the floor and the knife drops off the counter and then electrocutes himself by sticking a fork in a toaster. Linda laughs at Kyle's death in the story, but says he hasn't suffered enough, so Aaron embellishes on the story where Kyle falls down and a 5 gallon water bottle full of loose change gets lodged in his mouth, him swallowing all the coins (Believe me when I say that everything I have so far described will make sense. Just be patient.). Linda makes Aaron finish the story about the maniac loose at the party, where we see nerd Roy (Eric Jungmann; Director Robert Englund's KILLER PAD - 2008) spying on a totally nude Frank and equally nude Jenny (Michele Nordin; ANCIENT EVIL: SCREAM OF THE MUMMY - 1999) having sex in the woods. The maniac stabs Roy over and over on his back, while Frank heads back to the lake. Jenny, who knew Roy was watching them, stays behind to give Roy a treat, but when she discovers his bloody body wedged between a fork in a tree, the maniac beheads her with an axe and her head goes flying through the air. Linda thinks it's a cliché that people in horror films and stories always get killed for having sex (it is) and she tells Aaron that Frank is actually gay, so he has to make a change to his story. This time, Roy and Jenny are stuck in a hole in the ground when someone throws them a rope. The only problem is that the other end the rope is tied around the neck of an alligator and, as they try to climb the rope, the alligator inches closer and closer to the hole, finally falling in and killing Roy and Jenny. The rest of the friends are back at the cabin when Franks decides to go looking for Jon (not knowing that he is already dead) and runs into Ken (Ryan Doom; CIRCLE - 2010), who is also gay. Frank ties himself up to a hook in the shed so he and Ken can participate in some S&M action. They engage in some kissing and foreplay (i.e. oral sex) when the maniac shows up and plays "Happy Birthday" on a huge tree saw (the kind it takes two people to use). The maniac then plants the saw in the top of Ken's head and cuts him vertically in half (the film's most graphic death). The blood sprays all over a tied-up Frank's body, but the maniac just takes a Polaroid of Ken's cleaved-in-two corpse and leaves Frank hanging. The last two people in the cabin, Pat and Amy (Natalia Baron) are dancing when Linda cuts off the story, carrying her folded laundry to to her apartment building, where she and Aaron share an elevator to their apartments. Kyle has left their apartment a mess and is not there, so Linda goes to Aaron's apartment to complain that even though Kyle won't let her go to the party, he has bailed on her for the night. Aaron says the best revenge is that he drives her to the party to piss-off Kyle. Linda races back to her apartment to get all dolled-up (something tells me it's more for Aaron than for her friends) and Aaron then begins to drive to the cabin, where the two discuss the real meaning of "rub it in" and that when a vegetarian takes a shit, it's smellier than one who eats meat (that, too, is true). On the drive, Aaron finishes the party story, where Amy is freaking out about their missing friends (she says that maybe they all fell down a well and alligators ate them!). Pat and Amy leave the cabin to go look for their friends and end up on a fog-filled dock, where they hear someone whistling a catcall. Thinking it is their friends playing a prank on them, they soon realize their mistake, as they run into the maniac and their friends' dead bodies. They try to escape in a tinkered-with car, while the maniac takes a Polaroid of them (every time the maniac takes a photo, the background twirls around like a panel in a comic book). They leave the car, but the maniac bashes in Amy's head to a bloody pulp with two hammers, one in each hand (it's another really gory scene). Linda once again interrupts and warns Aaron that he better not kill off his sister in the story, so we see Pat slug the maniac and tackle him into the lake and pulls off his ski mask. The maniac is Aaron and he drowns because of the weight of the pink toolbelt. When Aaron and Linda actually make it to the cabin, they notice that it is very quiet and then hear a woman scream in the cabin. Aaron goes to investigate, but when he doesn't come back, Linda goes into the cabin and discovers that the maniac holding a knife to Aaron's throat, so she kills the maniac with a claw hammer, only to find out it is her sister Pat. It seems Aaron was already at the cabin (remember, the walls that separates his and Linda's apartment are thin) and killed everyone there except Pat, who he left tied-up as a patsy (Remember Aaron's black eye? Pat gave it to him when she punched him into the lake.), but Kyle is now there as a surprise for Linda and beats up Aaron to a bloody pulp. But when Kyle and Linda go to leave the cabin, they open the door to find the ground covered in loose change and coins come pouring out of Kyle's mouth (think back), killing him. The film ends with Aaron burying all the bodies (including Linda alive) and returning to his apartment, where he thinks he will finally have peace and quiet at last. But one final surprise is in store as we discover that Aaron was the son that helped his family suffocate his mother and her ghost appears in his apartment to torment him forever.  This filmed-in-Los Angeles horror film has the same kind of structure as the cult hit TRICK 'R TREAT (2007), where we think every story is not related, but, in the end, we discover that they are all interconnected. This is the first fictional feature film by director Bruce Dickson, who also photographed and co-produced the horror film STITCH in 2014 and, for a first feature, it is damn good. The idea of making up stories on the fly is as old as storytelling itself, but this film infuses new blood into the concept, as they are not made-up stories at all, but actually the truth and Dickson fills the story with great dialogue between Aaron and Linda (supplied by screenwriters Anthony Burns and Joe Moe [who is also a producer]), some very graphic bloodshed and copious nudity. Henry Thomas is superb here, as we get the feeling that there is something seriously wrong with him, but we just can't put our finger on it. I generally don't like anthologies, but this really isn't one, as the stories change on a whim and end with quite a surprise (the only thing I'm not sure of is how the beheading of the Thai cook connects with anything, but I'm going to watch it again because there is a lot going on in this film that I may have missed). This is also final cameo appearance of Forrest J. Ackerman, but you'll have to be quick in spotting him early in the film (He gets a "Thanks" in the final credits, too). Recommended to people who like their films on the weird and slightly perverted side. Also starring Dina Lynne Morishita as the Thai waitress/cook and Steven Skyler as the Thai Pop Idol who gets blood spilled on his photograph. Also featuring Earl Roesel, Lateef Crowder and Lewis Tan as the various incarnations of the maniacs we are shown on screen. The DVD-R also contains a lot of extras and is well worth owning for $14.99. Most people think this is a 2008 production, but it has a 2009 copyright date at the end credits. A 3 Mac Studios DVD-R Release. Not Rated and for good reason.

RETRIBUTION (1987) - This was one of the most unfairly overlooked supernatural possession films of the 1980's. It could be because it has an unusual protagonist (Dennis Lipscomb; EYES OF FIRE - 1983; THE FIRST POWER - 1990; he passed away in 2014), who may have seemed an odd choice, but was anything but. He, along with director/co-screenwriter Guy Magar (STEPFATHER III - 1992; CHILDREN OF THE CORN: REVELATION - 2001 and plenty of TV, including episodes of THE A-TEAM; WEREWOLF; NOWHERE MAN and way too many others to mention) turned-in one of the best possession films of the 80's. This had to be edited to receive an R-Rating, but the edits (which amount to less than 10 seconds of footage and are found on Code Red's DVD & Blu-Ray as an extra) could have easily been re-inserted because they are quite graphic and increase the 'ewww!' factor. This is a great possession film with an unusual premise. Failed artist and nebbish-looking George Miller (Dennis Lipscomb) decides to end his life by jumping off the roof of his apartment building (on Halloween, no less), while all the people in the apartment complex (who really seem to care about him. even if they are dressed in groteaque costumes) look on at the street below. At the exact same time George jumps, small-time mobster Vito Minelli Sr. (Mike Muscat) is shot and set on fire, saying "Santa Maria, Mother of God, help me!" (We do not see who his murderers are). Miraculously, George survives the fall with nothing but a leg injury but, somehow, his soul intertwines with Vito's and George becomes possessed at various times in the film by Vito to get even with those who killed him. George's psychiatrist, Jennifer  Curtis (Leslie Wing), is pleased with his progress and lets him leave the psychiatric institute after giving him a special gift of a cane she spent her own money on. The occupants of George's apartment complex are happy to see George return and throw him a welcome home party (they are the nicest neighbors anyone could hope to have). One of George's best friends is hooker Angel (Suzanne Snyder; RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD II - 1988). At the party, George ends up having sex with Angel, where she says that she wishes she could be his girlfriend, but her profession makes that impossible (George has never judged her by her occupation, proving what a nice guy he really is.). George's first encounter with Vito's soul is when he paints with a brush dipped in yellow paint and it comes out blood red on the canvas (He also begins having nightmares showing the faces of all of Vito's murderers). He finds himself at a bar having a mixed drink he has never tried before, and the bar's owner, Sally Benson (Pamela Dunlop), Vito's mistress and also one of his killers, notices George drinking Vito's mixed drink, she invites him to come upstairs for a little something more than a drink. Suddenly, Sally's kitchen, turns into a supernatural nightmare, with windows exploding, cabinets opening and everything comes flying out and smashing  against walls. George comes walking into the kitchen with green glowing eyes and says "Santa Maria, Mother of God, help me!" and Sally knows instantly who he is. He makes Sally take a butcher knife and stab herself in the stomach, running it across her stomach in a horizontal position (one of the scenes that was partially cut to achieve an R-Rating). George tries to explain his nightmares to Jennifer, but when he reads in the papers about Sally's death, he knows that it was no nightmare. Jennifer tries to calm George down by telling him it was nothing but a bad nightmare, but suddenly she gets a bad nose bleed and has to excuse herself. He hops on a bus (something he has never done in his life) and notices a building that seems familiar to him. When the bus driver refuses to stop. George causes the bus to crash and meets Vito's son, Vito, Jr. (Matthew Newmark) and his widow, Carla (Clare Peck), but Carla becomes freaked-out and chases George away (Vito, Jr., on the other hand, seems to like him). While George is sleepimg with Angel, he finds himself in a slaughterhouse. where he stuffs Johnny's (Mario Roccuzzi) body (he was also one of Vito's killers) inside the carcass of a cow and then has him cut in half with a meat saw (But first saying to him 'Santa Maria, Mother of God, help me!" to let him know who he is dealing with; this was another scene trimmed briefly to get an R-Rating). George goes to Jennifer and confesses to the murders, where nosy Dr. Alan Falconer (Jeff Pomerantz) hears the whole confession. Jennifer wants to re-commit him to the institution on a voluntary basis, but George says that the murders will continue to happen no matter where he sleeps (Vito's soul leaves George's body while he is sleeping and can walk through any substance. His soul also looks like George.). George takes a cab (Guy Magar plays the cab driver) which takes him to Vito's resting place in a graveyard. Carla and Vito, Jr. are also there and George tries to explain what is happening to him and would like to know any reason why Vito was drawn to him. George discovers that they were born on the same day and year and he was killed the exact time George tried to commit suicide. Jennifer begins to believe George's story and brings her findings to a doctors meeting, where Dr. John Talbot (George Murdock; THE MACK - 1973) is the head doctor. Dr. Falconer brings in Police Lt. Ashley (Hoyt Axton; GREMLINS - 1984) to investigate based on what he overheard George tell Jennifer, but Jennifer refuses to give Lt. Ashley George's name since Dr. Falconer didn't know it (Jennifer does dump a drink over Falconer's head, though). Angel and George smoke a joint and have a great time together, especially at a neon light art gallery, where George shows her his favorite piece: a giant stone head he calls "The Eternal Head". George starts seeing gallons of blood pouring out of the large statue and he ends up at a church, which seems to calm him down. Angel sets up George to see Doctor Rasta (Danny D. Daniels), a Rastafarian doctor that has helped Angel with her problems, and she brings along George's friend Dylan (Executive Producer Chris Caputo) with them. George and Doctor Rasta hold hands and Doctor Rasta begins to bleed through his nose. Doctor Rasta pleads, "Let go of me, motherfucker!", but George is unable to and Doctor Rasta dies. George is having himself committed in the morning and begs Angel and Dylan to tie him up that night (not knowing that it will do no good). George then finds himself at a mechanics garage and kills Joe Martinez (Jeffrey Josephson) in the film's bloody highlight (also one of the most cut sequences to receive an R-rating). He makes Joe cut off his left hand with and acetylene torch (really hard to watch, even in the R-Rated cut) and then George squishes his face into a bloody pulp by using a portable lift machine with a grate. When Joe's face meets the grate, you will notice a definite cut, but you can see the whole disgusting scene in the cut violent scenes. It only lasts a few seconds, but leaves an impression (Makeup guru Kevin Yagher did most of the excellent effects). George wakes up and still finds himself tied-up at Angel's apartment, so he frees himself and goes to his own apartment, which is being staked out by Lt. Ashley and Lt. Lupo (David Dunard). George stabs a painting, which begins bleeding profusely and Jennifer sees the murder at the garage on the TV news and calls George, who now sounds like Vito. George wants to end his life, but his typewrites self-types, "Not yet you fucking asshole. One more!", as all Hell breaks loose in the room (the same as Sally's kitchen). George's body travels to Vito's murder site and we see all the people take one shot at Vito, using the same gun, not killing him, but leaving him in a lot of pain. His body is then soaked in gasoline and set on fire, which actually killed him. There is only one person still alive from the murder scene: Amos (Ralph Manza). The spirit of Vito leaves George's body and begins killing Jennifer by lifting her off the ground and psychically choking her. George yells out "No more!", grabs Vito's spirit and jumps out the window, finally committing the suicide he started weeks before. All the occupants come out of the building to pay their final respects, but Angel has a surprise in store for all of them. In the immortal words of Vito: "Santa Maria, Mother of God, help me! One more!"  This is basically a remake of the 1976 blaxploitation film J.D.'S REVENGE starring Glynn Thurman, but it veers off into a different path after a few minutes, retaining the same theme, but having a totally different backstory and ending. Besides, RETRIBUTION is much bloodier, but it is not a gorefest. True, there are some extremely gory scenes here and there, but  this is Dennis Lipscomb's show from beginning to end and he is truly amazing here. You'll laugh your ass off when he's high on pot and he'll scare the shit out of you when he is possessed.  His range in this film is expansive and proves that he was a terrific underrated actor who was just coming into his own before he got very ill in 2002 and never recovered, passing away in 2014. I still fondly remember him as the dog psychiatrist in the Begging Strip TV Commercials. This was co-screenwriter Lee Wasserman's only theatrical screenplay and he was also an Associate Producer here. The DVD & Blu-Ray put out by Code Red are nearly flawless and the fanciful sophisticated color scheme of the film is represented beautifully on your TV screen. I just wonder why the Blu-Ray doesn't contain the theatrical trailer and the DVD does. Still, both versions do let you view the cut scenes but, really now, how much trouble would they have been to reinsert them into the film? As far as I could tell, the cut scenes were already musically scored, so it couldn't have been that much trouble except that the cut scenes are in fullscreen and the film is in anamorphic widescreen. I would have accepted the cut scenes being in fullscreen. But, that's just a small complaint in an otherwise superb film. If you don't have this film in your library, you should. Also starring Susan Peretz (a superb character actress who is the apartment complex's owner), Brian Christian (also an Executive Producer; he plays the bus driver), the diminutive Tony Cox as an apartment resident, Muriel Minot, Harry Caesar, Pearl Adell, and Ed Berke. A Code Red DVD & Blu-Ray Release. Rated R.

RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE (1982) - I doubt that you'll find a stranger film like this one in a long while. Two worm and snail farmers (Director Michael Cartel and Al Valletta) witness a live burial in the Death Valley, California desert.  They dig up the body and find a breathing nude girl in the coffin. They take her back to their farm and they themselves are kidnapped by a group of all-female cult members. After numerous lame jokes and a gunfight gone terribly wrong, the two men are voted into the group, entitling them to share in all their communal property. It seems the girls were dealing with the Mafia and were cheated out of a load of platinum (!?). The girls make the men do menial chores like chopping wood into splinters and moving boxes from one place to the next for no apparent reason. You'll be shaking your head in disbelief as you witness one inane scene after another, strung together for no other purpose than to make the film a decent running time. One of the guys gets a hot foot (!) while another scene shows a girl destroying a TV with an axe after being rebuffed for sex by one of the guys. The men have sex with the girls except for one who is a lesbian ("I hate MEN!"). The men help the girls get back their platinum from the Mafia.  I haven't even scratched the surface of this weird film. There are bar fights, gun fights, girl fights, a warehouse explosion, strip chess, pinball playing and vampirism! Absolutely no one in this film can act a lick. One wonders where director Michael Cartel's (who also acted in the 1974 sexploitationer PETS) head was at when he made this atrocity (Thank God, his only one). Was it up his ass or was he just high on peyote? In either case, you will be glued to the screen just to view and believe the awfulness of it. You won't be able to take your eyes off of it because of the sheer badness in every aspect of filmmaking it shows. It's the REEFER MADNESS of the 80's. Also starring Cindy Dolan, Jody Lee Olhava, Cheryl Gamson, Georgia Durante and Sijtske Vandenberg. An All Seasons Entertainment Home Video Release. Not Rated because it contains a lot of nudity (which seems inserted after the movie was finished because it looks like it was shot on videotape) but, oddly, contains very little blood or gore. This is one weird film that will have your head shaking in disbelief so much, that you're likely to get whiplash! Now available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome with the nude video inserts removed and included as extras (seems like the All Seasons Entertainment VHS was unauthorized).

THE SEVENTH CURSE (1986) - This Raymond Chow Production for his Golden Harvest Films is a great mixture of action, adventure and horror elements, all done in the usual wild Hong Kong style, thanks to director Nam Nai Choi (a.k.a. "Simon Nam"; HER VENGEANCE - 1988; RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY - 1991), producer Wong Jing (HARD BOILED 2: THE LAST BLOOD - 1991; who plays a girl-happy wannabe playboy at a poolside party) and screenwriter I Kuang (HUMAN LANTERNS - 1982). The film opens at a cocktail party, where Mr. Yi (screenwriter I Kuang, also the film's narrator) tells a group of people about the latest adventure of Dr. Yuan Cheng-ha (Chin Siu-Hou; FIST OF LEGEND - 1994), a famous explorer and archaeologist (Dr. Yuan Cheng-ha is actually at the cocktail party, but he is too modest to tell the story. Or maybe he might like the way Mr. Yi embellishes it.). The story opens with a group of terrorists taking over a hospital and asking for a doctor to attend to one of their hostages, who has had a heart attack. Enter Dr. Yuan, who agrees to help the hostage with female police Inspector Chiang (Kara Hui), who is pretending to be his nurse (They plan on planting a flash grenade in the hospital to confuse the terrorists long enough for the police to rush in and save the hostages). Idiotic news reporter Tsai Hung (Maggie Cheung; THE HEROIC TRIO - 1993) knocks-out Inspector Chiang (with a brick to the back of her head!) and takes her place, following Dr. Yuan into the hospital to get the story of a lifetime (other reporters on the scene mockingly call her "Wonder Woman"). Once in the hospital, Dr. Yuan begins administering to the heart attack victim, but Tsai Hung draws unwanted attention to herself when she shows she doesn't even know the basics of first aid. Dr. Yuan bravely saves the day by setting off the flash grenade (just after one SWAT team member is graphically shot in the head) and kicking the shit out of the head terrorist, while the cops kill all the other terrorists. Amazingly, Dr. Yuan lets Tsai Hung off the hook and congratulates the now-conscious Inspector Chiang on a job well done in front of her boss, Captain Ho (all Inspector Chiang can do is scratch her head in befuddlement). Dr, Yuan is constantly hounded by Tsai Hung, who wants to do a story on his life, but Dr. Yuan doesn't care for her (besides, he has a beautiful white girlfriend, played by Joyce Godenzi, who is now Samo Hung's wife). At his palatial home, Dr. Yuan is attacked by Heh Lung (Dick Wei; WITCH FROM NEPAL - 1985) and a glass-shattering fight ensues. When the fight is over, Heh Lung informs Dr. Yuan that a blood spell was performed on him nearly a year ago and he needs to travel to Thailand to have it removed before he dies. Dr. Yuan doesn't believe it, but he changes his tune rather quickly when all the