Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Civilian 2018 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!

Aaaaaaaaand we're back!

Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it’s time to give the Civilian flicks their moment in the sun. As always, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2018 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

As mentioned in the horror wrap-up post, I didn't spend a lot of effort keeping up with the current output - I only indulged in two or three cineplex binge-trip theater-hop voyages, with most of the current crop viewed in the latter half of the year once they’d hit home video. I also will admit to spending a fair amount of time revisiting films that I hadn’t seen in a while to see if my opinions had changed (or hey, just for fun - what a concept!)

I am also happy to report that after two years of less-than-ideal stats, I managed to climb back into the 300+ Club (not really a club) and, as you’ll see below, I devoted a healthy amount of time to several actor/director projects over the course of the year. In addition to another successful Scare-A-Thon/October Challenge, I decided to re-introduce the notion of a November Turkey Hunt, tracking down the best of the worst, tallying 30 Gobblers (plus a few fence-sitters) when all was said and done.

Many thanks to everyone for their support and feedback and conversation over the years. We'll see what 2019, the last year of the “teens,” has in store!

Let the OCD madness begin!!!


Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Eighth Grade
First Reformed
Game Night (*)
Leave No Trace
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (*)
Sorry to Bother You
Thoroughbreds (*)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Dr. AC's 2018 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

Clearly it's been a very productive year....

Howdy, folks!

I’m not even going to waste your time with the usual apology/justification this time around for not having seen all the latest and greatest, brightest and bloodiest objects that 2018 had to offer. That said, I’m pretty happy with the amount of newer flicks that passed my peepers, as well as the revisits I was fortunate enough to engage in either for review or recreational purposes.

To compensate, this year I’ve extended my field of view for recent fright films to include the past two (2) years since I was playing quite a bit of catch-up during the early months of 2018. (Hey, as I’ve said many a time before – we’re all on our own path. What’s important is that we keep walking it.)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Fool's Views (12/16 - 12/31)

"I can't feel my legs, my vision is blurry, and I can't use my words."
"Oh, that's right, it's January..."

And that, my friends, is that.

Ended the year in fine fashion, clocking an additional 25 films during the final two weeks, including bagging my last letter of the alphabet (“Y” for YellowBrickRoad) and the missing pieces in the chronology sweepstakes (1949, 1951, 1952, 1969, 1979), as well as a last-minute Share the Scare with the gang, adding another half-dozen flickers to the grand totals.

I won’t spend a lot of time chatting here – as per usual, it’s time to get to the Year-End Recap Madness – and as you’ll soon discover, you have some reading to do, Faithful AC-olytes! Let’s get to it, shall we?

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

REVENGE (2017) movie review

Revenge (2017) d. Coralie Fargeat (France/Belgium)

Can a rape/revenge film be equal parts brutal, ridiculous, and thought-provoking? The answer appears to be yes, as writer/director Fargeat’s debut feature ably demonstrates. Sassy and sexy Jen (Matilda Lutz) shows up at handsome, rich, and married businessman Richard’s (Kevin Janssens) secluded love hut in the desert (accessible only by helicopter) for a weekend of dancin’ and romancin’, only to be surprised by his two hunting pals (Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchede) who show up early. They take a shine to the nubile one and while their host dashes into town to secure the licenses, Jen is assaulted; when Richard returns, she tells him and he attempts to buy her off. She refuses the hush money and threatens to tell his wife if he doesn’t send her home, whereupon he attacks her and leaves her for dead.

Friday, January 4, 2019

YELLOWBRICKROAD (2010) movie review

YellowBrickRoad (2010) d. Jesse Holland / Andy Mitton (USA)

The writing/directing team of Holland & Mitton conjure an incredibly rich scenario, then people it with an exemplary array of characters such that the first 45 minutes of this well-crafted yarn were literally spent on the edge of my seat. The wonderfully simple premise – a group of researchers seeking to unravel the mystery of a New Hampshire village’s population who, one quiet day in 1940, simply wandered out of town and disappeared forever – is so well cultivated, with creepy, organic atmosphere to spare, one feels like applauding each passing scene for its chutzpah and execution. (The high point is a mid-film gore set-piece aka “the leg scene” that had me squirming and muttering, “Holy crap, ain’t never seen that before... and I’m not sure I needed to.”)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Fool's Views (12/1 – 12/15)

Howdy, folks!

I know, it’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of another year, and even harder to believe that I’m actually only a few days behind schedule. It’s a doggone Christmas miracle, I tell ya.

Speaking of which, I kicked off the month with a solid smattering of holiday-themed horror ('tis the season, after all), as well as catching up on some buzzed-about recent genre efforts both older (Green Inferno) and new (Upgrade), classic (Kwaidan) and clueless (The Laughing Dead). I hope you dig the slay ride…

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

THE LAUGHING DEAD (1989) movie review

The Laughing Dead (1989) d. Somtow Sucharitkul (USA)

A faith-challenged priest (Tim Sullivan) leads a group of vacationers on an archeology tour in Mexico and stumbles into a legion of demons, both personal and literal. It seems our collared cruise director fathered a child out of wedlock a decade ago with a co-worker (a nun no less) and guess who has decided to join the excursion, foul-mouthed 10-year-old in tow? Further compounding the tour’s woes are a trio of Mayan priests who have unsavory designs for the recently reunited family, hoping to fulfill an ancient prophecy that includes, you know, the end of the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (1987) Blu-ray review

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) d. Lee Harry (USA)

Despite sequel fever running rampant throughout the 1980s, the genesis of SNDN2 is surprisingly unconventional. Seems that producer Lawrence Appelbaum approached editor Lee Harry with the assignment of simply re-cutting the footage from the original 1984 flick and attempting to re-issue it under a different title, one without the stigma of the notorious ad campaign that led to protests by concerned parents and scathing reviews from top critics like Siskel and Ebert. Somehow or other, Harry convinced Appelbaum that it might be worthwhile shooting new footage and employ the original footage as flashback material, serving as a kind of “greatest hits” montage, which is exactly what happened. With this knowledge in mind, it’s easier to appreciate the fact that the first 40 minutes (yes, OVER HALF THE ACTUAL RUNNING TIME, not counting the ultra-slow ending credits) are comprised of pre-existing material which you more than likely already watched this holiday season.

Monday, December 17, 2018

THE GREEN INFERNO (2013) movie review

The Green Inferno (2013) d. Eli Roth (USA)

Eager to “do something worthwhile,” college freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo) joins an on-campus activist organization led by the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Despite protestations from her politico dad (Richard Burgi) and apathetic roommate (Sky Ferreria), she travels with the group to the Peruvian Amazon to prevent the decimation of the rainforest and the extermination of the indigenous Yajes tribe by money-grubbing developers. Their efforts are seemingly successful, but on the return home their small aircraft suffers a mechanical failure; the ensuing crash leaves several dead and wounded. Worse yet, they are stranded among a particularly nasty group of natives who are hungry for justice and, well, just hungry….

Friday, December 14, 2018

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984) Blu-ray review

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) d. Charles E. Sellier, Jr. (USA)

After his parents are murdered by crook in a St. Nick outfit, young tormented Billy (Danny Wagner) is sent with his infant brother Ricky to stay at an orphanage where he is mercilessly abused by our resident Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). After growing to adulthood, Billy (now played by Robert Brian Wilson) lands a gig at the local toy store which works out fine until he’s pressed into wearing an all-too-familiar red suit and white beard to entertain the kiddies. Predictably, this pushes him over the edge, leading to a murderous Christmas Eve rampage dressed as Santa, claiming “naughty” victims right and left.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018) d. David Ian McKendry / Rebekah McKendry (USA)

While several horror anthologies have incorporated a single Christmastime story (1945’s Dead of Night, 1972’s Tales from the Crypt, to mention some of the classics) into the mix, there are precious few compendiums whose energies are directed exclusively toward celebrating the Santa season. (In fact, until 2015’s A Christmas Horror Story, there were exactly zero.) But the husband-and-wife team of David Ian and Rebekah McKendry (the latter being a longtime Fangoria alum, horror journalist, and Shock Waves podcaster) have arrived just in time to fill the shocking stockings and change the stats STAT with their quintet of deadly and droll hors d’ouevres, all present-ed within a snappy wrapping, er, wraparound.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

11/19 – 11/30 (Part 2 of 2) (Last of the Turkey!)

Howdy, folks!

Sorry, got a little distracted there in the real world with zero time to scribble or watch anything over the past couple weeks as I was prepping for and completing the final phase of my Suited Instructor certification with IMPACT Chicago, a extraordinary and empowering women’s self-defense program that is definitely worth your time and energy, whether you are male, female, or non-binary-identifying. Check them out at Impact (or wherever your closest IMPACT chapter is located).

With that tidy bit of justifying out of the way, here are the remaining Views for November, which included the glorious gorge-fest that is the Kitley’s Krypt Turkey Day Celebration, now in its 16th year. (I’ve been there since Jon started letting other people join the “fun” in 2005.) We also snuck in a couple more Tom Cruise vehicles along the way, bringing our total for the year to 10 (with more on deck before the clock runs out). And, in keeping with the November Turkey Challenge, we decided to throw a couple Civilians birds on the platter as well. (Hey, when the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars Christmas Special rolls around, you kinda gotta honor that.)

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fool's Views (11/19 – 11/30) (Part 1 of 2)

OMG, so fullllllllll.

Well, that was a month to remember… or maybe one to forget. I completed my November Turkey Challenge right in the nick of time, wrapping up with a grand total of 30 Gobblers, 17 of which were first-time views, and while I can definitely say that “challenge” was the right word for it at times, it was immensely rewarding to explore strange new worlds of awfulness and bold new flavors of cheese. Similarly, it was interesting to settle in, thinking that a Turkey was in order and discovering instead that the film in question really didn’t qualify, being either too competently made (Murderlust), too icky (Entrails of a Virgin), or just not enough fun to recommend to anyone else (Cabin Fever remake). There is foul and there is fowl, and never the twain shall meet.

Due to the sheer volume of views, I’ll be breaking this period into two installments, wrapping things up with the Kitley’s Krypt Turkey Day coverage in the post to follow, so stay tuned!

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

CANDYMAN (1992) Blu-ray review

Candyman (1992) d. Bernard Rose (USA)

Chicago grad student Helen (Virginia Madsen), working on her “urban legends” thesis, uncovers the tale of Daniel Robitaille aka Candyman, a wrongfully murdered black artist with a hook for a hand, who appears Bloody Mary-style if you say his name in a mirror five times. Of course, the inquisitive intellectual tries it out for herself, only to find that the avenging spirit is all too real and that his hook is all too sharp. Several gory slayings ensue, all of which seem to implicate our heroine, who slips further and further into madness.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS (1961) Full Script and Movie Review

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) d. Coleman Francis (USA)(54 min)

Tor Johnson, the ex-wrestler who attained everlasting infamy in several Ed Wood features, is the nominal “star” of this hilariously misguided cinematic achievement. “Noted scientist” Joseph Javorsky (Johnson) is ambushed while carrying atomic secrets during a meet-up and chased onto an atomic testing ground. (Oh, sweet irony.) Before you can say Big Bang Boom, the hulking bald-headed brainiac is transformed into a hulking bald-headed maniac with a radiation-scarred visage and a pronounced hindrance in communication skills. Helpless women are kidnapped, kids are chased with sticks and a cuddly bunny bounces in for the greatest closing shot on celluloid.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Fool's Views (11/13 - 11/18) (with MORE Turkey!)

"You're going to watch THAT....?"

Happy Turkey Day, my friends!

Yes, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, which means I’m getting ready to head west to Aurora (yes, the “Chicago suburb” made famous in Wayne’s World) to partake in my 14th consecutive celebration of the best of the worst at Kitley's Krypt, amidst some of the finest people with the most questionable judgment. So, before we dive into the cinematic stuffing face-first, figured we should recap last week because oh, my, my, what a week it was. It was a glorious combo of good, bad, and ugly, capped by Jason Coffman’s 10-film gorgefest known as the Tomorrow Romance Halloween Marathon. (I only made it through six before tapping out, but I was happy to have been there longer than my schedule had ever allowed me before. Those half-dozen are designated with a (*).

Along with that, we tackled a quartet of Boris Karloff flicks (his final four, in fact), along with an additional Soderbergh and Argento flick each, taking our totals to six and four for the year, respectively.

Enough of my yakking – time to get on the road! Gobble gobble!


Thursday, November 22, 2018


Before we dive into the reviews proper, we pause now for a little background information, courtesy of Phil Hardy’s Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction:

“Just before his death in 1969, Karloff acted in scenes for four films by Mexican producer Enrique Vergara. According to Jack Hill, the production circumstances of these pictures were disastrous. Karloff had rejected the four scripts sent to him by Vergara, and Hill, who shared the services of Karloff’s lawyer, was asked to rewrite them. Karloff then agreed to do them provided all scenes involving him would be shot in Hollywood because it was exceedingly painful for him to move about. The scenes were shot [by Hill] in 1968. Shortly afterwards, Karloff died, but so did Vergara.

“All the remaining scenes were shot later in Mexico without Hill’s knowledge and the finished products, released in 1971, bore little relation to the scripts Hill had used to do the Karloff scenes. Apparently American International tried to buy the shots with Karloff in order to make other films with them, but the legal and copyright problems due to Vergara’s death made this impracticable. This Mexican episode put a sad end on Karloff’s long and distinguished career. Some credits list Juan Ibañez as being responsible for the scenes added after Karloff’s death, but since many of these credits contain pseudonyms, it may be an injustice to include his name as director.”

So, there you go.

"That was very well said, young man..."

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

BLACKENSTEIN (1973) Blu-ray review

Blackenstein (1973) d. William A. Levey (USA)

Considered by many to be the nadir of blaxploitation horror, Levey’s clunker actually gets off to a (relatively) decent start, with injured Vietnam veteran Eddie (Joe DeSue) returning Stateside minus arms and legs due to a land mine close encounter. His science-loving sweetheart Dr. Winnifred Walker (Ivory Stone) remembers her old teacher Dr. Stein’s (John Hart) groundbreaking experiments in skin grafting and before you can say, “Seda-give???” the pair have soldier boy on the gurney menu served up with a slice of limb-burger cheese.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

PHENOMENA (1985) Blu-ray review

Phenomena (1985) d. Dario Argento (Italy) (116 min)

Perhaps the only “insect detective” movie out there on the shelves, featuring a very young Jennifer Connelly (released one year before Labyrinth) as the daughter of a famous American movie star sent away to study at an exclusive Swiss girl’s academy, whose students just happen to be falling victim to a homicidal killer. But as this is an Argento movie, things are hardly what they seem.

Monday, November 19, 2018

HOUSEWIFE (2017 ) DVD review

Housewife (2017) d. Can Evrenol (Turkey) (82 min)

Two decades after her mother brutally killed her sister Hazel and father (an amazingly stylish pre-credits sequence), Holly (Clementine Poidatz) can still find no peace in her life and is increasingly terrified at the notion of starting a family of her own. She numbly endures lovemaking with her husband Timucin (Ali Aksoz) and has to urinate in sinks and tubs due to the trauma incurred by her sister’s toilet-related murder. When her former friend and lover Valery (Alicia Kapudag) returns, now a “family” member of the mysterious cult Umbrella of Love and Mind (ULM), Holly finds herself falling into a hallucinogenic realm where past and present crosscut and where charismatic leader Bruce O’Hara (David Sakurai) holds sway over her future.