Thursday, September 12, 2019

THE VELOCIPASTOR (2018) Blu-ray Review



The VelociPastor (2018) d. Brendan Steere (USA) (75 min)

Following a horrific terrorist act that claims the lives of both his parents, young priest Doug Jones (Greg Cohan) attempts to restore his faith by traveling to China (complete with a big onscreen supertitle proclaiming “CHINA”). As he breathes in the restorative mountain air, Doug crosses paths with a frightened woman on the run from murderous ninja assassins (never mind that ninjas are native to Japan and not China) whose dying act is to place a tooth-shaped artifact into his hand. Oh, who are we kidding, it’s an actual tooth of the magical kind, and when our holy hero cuts his hand on its sharp surface, he inherits the ability to transform into a GODDAM, er, GODBLESSED DINOSAUR.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

THE CHILD (1977) Blu-ray review



The Child (1977) d. Robert Voskanian (USA) (82 min)

When lovely nanny Alicianne (Laurel Barnett) returns to her childhood burg to take a position caring for Rosalie (Rosalie Cole), a strange little girl whose mother recently passed away, she unwittingly enters into a bizarre small-town realm where small animals – and soon the human residents – are disappearing into the clutches of a growing army of resurrected corpses. Seems young Rosalie has been sending her undead “friends” to avenge her mother’s death… even though there isn’t a lot of evidence to support her claims that anyone actually contributed to it!


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

DARK AUGUST (1976) Blu-ray Review



Dark August (1976) d. Martin Goldman (USA) (87 min)

In what amounts to be more dramatic character study than straight-ahead fright flick, former New York illustrator Sal (J.J. Barry) flees the city and his current marriage to “find himself” in the quieter climes of Stowe, VT (where the film was actually shot). Unfortunately, one day he accidentally runs down a young girl crossing the country roads, whereupon her vengeful grandfather (William Robertson) lays down a curse on the urban interloper, setting in motion a series of events that threaten to rob Sal of both his sanity and his life.


Monday, September 9, 2019

DREAM NO EVIL (1970) Blu-ray Review



Dream No Evil (1970) d. John Hayes (USA) (84 min)

This offbeat, Psycho-inspired offering from writer/director Hayes (Grave of the Vampire, Garden of the Dead) is a meandering examination of young orphan Grace’s lifelong desire to track down her father (Oscar-winner Edmond O’Brien). After encountering our emotionally battered heroine in a pre-credits sequence, we flash forward and find a grown-up and curvaceous Grace (now played by Brooke Mills) dazzling the assembled masses via her high-fall act within a traveling salvation show headed by charismatic preacher Jessie (Michael Pataki), who just happens to be the brother of Grace’s beloved betrothed, Patrick (Paul Prokop).


Saturday, August 31, 2019

SCARS OF DRACULA (1970) Blu-ray Review



Scars of Dracula (1970) d. Roy Ward Baker (UK) (95 min)

Having already appeared in Taste the Blood of Dracula for Hammer and Count Dracula for Jess Franco, Christopher Lee wrapped up his exceedingly busy year (10 films!) with yet another toothy offering, but it seemed clear to anyone paying attention that the main vein was running dry. With “modern” horror on the rise, exemplified by the successes of Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead (both 1968), audiences seemed more interested in seeing their scares in a contemporary setting. And, as far as the pure exploitation elements (i.e. female flesh and Technicolor blood) that the studio had made its trademark since the late 1950s, Hammer was already beating itself at its own game with the lesbian vampire hit The Vampire Lovers (also directed by Baker), released a couple months earlier.


Friday, August 30, 2019

GAGS THE CLOWN (2018) (a film in which I also appear)



Howdy, folks!

So, I haven't been chatting this up nearly as much as I probably should have but HEY, I'M IN A MOVIE!

Yep, GAGS THE CLOWN (formerly known as GAGS) will be appearing in select theaters over the next few weeks courtesy of Doppelganger Releasing and Bloody Disgusting, and then on home video and streaming services shortly thereafter. Here's the press release:


Green Bay, Wisconsin, is terrorized by a mysterious clown who roams the streets late at night with nothing more than a handful of black balloons. The local news stations scramble to break the story on who he is and what he wants while a group of high schoolers see the clown’s arrival as an excuse to create a little trouble themselves. The police try to maintain order in a city that has gone clown crazy and a conservative podcast host vows to put a stop to the clown known as Gags while broadcasting his “clown hunt” on social media for the world to see.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Fool's Views (8/1 – 8/16)


Oh, sweetie, I told you SPF10 wasn't strong enough....

Greetings, my fine feathered friends,

Well, I don’t have nearly as involved an intro prepared as last time, so you can just relax. August has been a fairly uncomplicated month thus far, enlivened by a brief sojourn to our neighbors to the North where we took in the decidedly unconventional pleasures of The House on the Rock near Spring Green, WI. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you owe it to yourself to do a little research into the joint. The backstory is as fascinating as the exhibit itself, which includes the largest indoor carousel, a self-playing orchestra, and a 200-foot “SharkWhale Fighting Giant Octopus” tableau accompanied by the tune of “Octopus’ Garden,” and that’s just the tip of the proverbial crazycake. (There is a proverb about crazycake, isn’t there?)

In keeping with the randomness of our Wisconsin weekend, below are the assorted features viddied during the first two weeks of August, with a bevy of international horror leading the pack. (Apologies in advance: I also spilled a lot of virtual ink on the unofficial Bond spoof Casino Royale, which Daniel and I watched as a palate-cleansing act of completism before diving headlong into the Roger Moore era, but, be fair, there is a lot to say.) I also weighed in on Tarantino’s latest, because I’m sure my opinion was what missing from your day.

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

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (1990) Blu-ray review



The Dark Side of the Moon (1990) d. D. J. Webster (USA) (87 min)

While on a routine mission to repair a multitude of nuclear-armed satellites orbiting Earth in 2022, the crew of the Spacecore 1 are stymied by a mysterious malfunction that sends them drifting helplessly behind the moon and out of communication with ground control. Even more alarming, the ghost ship of the NASA space shuttle Discovery shows up on their scanners, despite having disappeared into The Bermuda Triangle nearly 30 years prior. Running low on supplies and oxygen, they decide to board the vessel where they encounter an array of literally unearthly horrors that could spell the end of Mankind.


Friday, August 23, 2019

BLOOD PARADISE (2018) DVD Review



Blood Paradise (2018) d. Patrick von Barkenberg (Sweden) (84 min)

Devastated by crippling negative reviews and her dim-witted lover failing in the bedroom, novelist Robin Richards (Andréa Winter) attempts to snap out of her funk by traveling to the exotic rural areas of Sweden. (You know, like you do.) In between periods of staring at her blank computer screen and nude swims in the nearby lake, she finds herself drawn into an increasingly bizarre web of characters, including enigmatic Farmer Rolf (Rolf Brunnstrom) who owns the property, personal driver and “#1 fan” Hans Bubi (Christer Cavallius), his fiery bride Elsa (Elinor Berglund), who trades time between tending her indoor garden and railing at her husband’s imagined infidelities, and a host of other local weirdees. But the bucolic and idiosyncratic atmosphere soon gives way to obsession and murder, with Robin left fighting for her very survival and perhaps her sanity as well....


Thursday, August 22, 2019

NIGHT KILLER (1990) Blu-ray Review



Night Killer (1990) d. Claudio Fragasso (as Clyde Anderson) (Italy) (93 min)

A rubber-masked serial killer starts working his way through the unsuspecting inhabitants of Virginia Beach, VA – and I do mean THROUGH, as in he punches holes through their torsos using a Freddy Krueger-type taloned glove – until he comes to beautiful, frustrated, and recently separated mother Melanie Beck (Tara Buckman) who he subjects to an hours-long ordeal from which she escapes alive but traumatized to the point of amnesia. Suicidal and emotionally distraught, she is subsequently stalked by a stranger (Peter Hooten) who stops her from killing herself on the beach, but then kidnaps her and forces to play kinky sexual games in a secluded hotel room. Meanwhile the murders continue unabated – are they being committed by the same person holding Melanie captive and will she recover her memory in time to identify the killer?


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

ROBOWAR (1988) Blu-ray Review



Robowar (1988) d. Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn) (Italy) (92 min)

After a platoon goes missing, Major Murphy Black’s (Reb Brown) elite team of mercenaries is sent into the bush to learn what happened and rescue any survivors, with company man Mascher (Mel Davidson) in tow. What they discover is a slaughterhouse of carnage, carried out by a high-tech android whose mission is to search and destroy all human targets with extreme prejudice. After locating a single survivor (Catherine Hickland) from a humanitarian group, Black’s team is slowly picked off one by one, their every move anticipated by the advanced cyber-warrior. Ultimately, it will be Man vs. Machine in a Mano a Mano of Mayhem!


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Fool's Views (7/1 – 7/31)


Light up the barbeque pit, folks!

Summer is a-comin’ in
Loudly sing Cuckoo
Grows the seed and blows the mead
And springs the wood anew.
Sing Cuckoo!

Howdy, folks! Well, summer is technically on its way out, but it’s never a bad time to throw a little Wicker Man into the mix. And what a summer it’s been! In addition to the ongoing self-defense workshops through IMPACT Chicago and Lincoln Square Athletic Club, I took a quick trip to my home stomping grounds of Colorado to visit family, help out with chores, learn way too much about Bonanza (my mom’s latest YouTube obsession is watching old episodes and fawning over Pernell Roberts), and play around with not one but two litters of Golden Retriever puppies. Never a dull moment, I tell ya.

Also, time for a little plug. My friend Jon Kitley’s new book, Discover the Horror, just hit bookshelves last month. It’s a fantastic autobiographical journey, detailing how he first tumbled into his appreciation for the genre and how he’s essentially devoted every spare moment to it, from his award-winning column in HorrorHound magazine to hundreds of conventions spanning coast-to-coast to his home base of Kitley’s Krypt, one of (if not THE) longest-running independent horror websites out there. Anyone with a passing interest in the genre – and I’m guessing that means you, since you’re reading this right now – will relate to the passions and obsessions expressed therein. Order a copy today, either via Amazon or from Jon himself at one of his many live appearances (which you can keep track of HERE).

All right! On with the program! It was another full month, with all manner of mini-festivals and themes (our ongoing 007 journey, a quartet of Hammer horror, Boris and Bela, Italian slicing and dicing, a trio of Richard Lester flicks, and a double dose of Keanu). Something for everyone, as they say….

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

Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2019

TENEBRAE (1982) Blu-ray Review



Tenebrae (1982) d. Dario Argento (Italy) (101 min)

American mystery author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) arrives in Rome to promote his newest novel, Tenebrae. Unfortunately, a serial killer is on the loose, taunting Neal and murdering those around him in gruesome fashion via straight razors and hatchets… just like the character in his novel. As the mystery surrounding the killings spirals out of control, Neal investigates the crimes on his own, with fiction and reality blurring as fear and madness take hold.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

VICE SQUAD (1982) Blu-ray review



Vice Squad (1982) d. Gary A. Sherman (USA) (97 min)

Princess (Season Hubley) is a single mom by day… and a Hollywood prostitute by night. After one of her friends (Nina Blackwood) is murdered by a sadistic pimp, Ramrod (Wings Hauser), ruthless cop Tom Walsh (Gary Swanson) blackmails Princess into helping him trap the criminal. When Ramrod escapes police custody, the race is on as to who will find who first. No matter which way Princess turns, Ramrod is coming for her, with Walsh and the entire police force out searching and hoping to stop another tragedy.


Saturday, August 3, 2019

THE REPTILE (1966) Blu-ray Review



The Reptile (1966) d. John Gilling (UK) (91 min)

A deadly epidemic is spreading through the remote Cornish village of Clagmoor Heath. As darkness falls, its victims are found foaming at the mouth, their skin discolored, with savage wounds on their necks. After his brother falls prey to the “black death,” Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) travels with his new wife (Jennifer Daniel) to Clagmoor to investigate his sibling’s mysterious demise. With little help from the unfriendly locals, Harry follows a trail of clues that leads him to the sinister Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman), the doctor's strange, but beautiful daughter (Jacqueline Pearce) ... and a horrific family secret.


Friday, August 2, 2019

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971) Blu-ray Review



Lust for a Vampire (1971) d. Jimmy Sangster (UK) (95 min)

Austria, 1830. Terrifying and erotic female vampire Carmilla Karnstein (Yutte Stensgaard) is brought back to life via a blood sacrifice, this time as a younger, blonder version of her previous incarnation (1970’s The Vampire Lovers). Seeking fresh flesh and drink, she is enrolled – as Mircalla Karnstein – in a prestigious finishing school for girls run by the very proper Miss Simpson (Helen Christie) and surrounded by a bevy of shapely students flitting about in various states of undress.

Her prime pickings are disrupted, however, by the arrival of rakish young author Richard LeStrange (Michael Johnson) who proffers his services to Miss Simpson as an English teacher in a thinly veiled attempt to mingle with the minxes. Before long, the class roster is dropping as quickly as the maidens’ blouses, LeStrange and Mircalla are engaged in a passionate if ill-advised love affair, and the local villagers are sharpening pitchforks and dusting off their torches for a climactic showdown.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

QUATERMASS 2 (1957) Blu-ray Review



Quatermass II (aka Enemy from Space) (1957) d. Val Guest (UK) (85 min)

After plans for the launch of his new space rocket are scuppered by governmental higher-ups, Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) becomes fascinated by the strange prevalence of meteorites falling near the Winnerden Flats production plant. Upon investigating the area, Quatermass’ assistant Marsh (Bryan Forbes) is incapacitated by one of the shell-like projectiles when it cracks open and releases a mysterious gas; even more troubling, armed troops show up and spirit away the fallen man and force the professor to depart the premises. Quatermass enlists the help of Parliament member Broadhead (Tom Chatto) to inspect the Winnerden Flats facility, only to uncover a horrible secret: extraterrestrials have taken over the minds of townspeople and high-ranking officials alike in the interest of making the Earth their new domain.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

THE LEOPARD MAN (1943) Blu-ray Review




The Leopard Man (1943) d. Jacques Tourneur (USA) (66 min)

Produced and directed by the winning team of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur, this third effort is as atmospheric as their previous The Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, yet is ultimately more a straight-ahead whodunnit than supernatural horror yarn. Authorities pursue an escaped panther in New Mexico, with suspicion slowly growing that a series of murders are being committed by a human pretending to be a panther.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967) Blu-ray Review



Quatermass and the Pit (aka Five Million Years to Earth) (1967) d. Roy Ward Baker (UK) (97 min)

While working on an extension of the London Underground in Hobbs End, a construction crew comes upon fossil evidence of humanoid creatures. Anthropologists Dr. Roney (James Donald) and Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley), as well as reluctant associates Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) and Col. Breen (Julian Glover), are brought in to investigate and speculate. Subsequent diggings unearth a mysterious vessel with an impenetrable surface; to everyone’s surprise, the spaceship (as it is eventually believed to be) begins to emit devastating sonic vibrations, resulting in mass violence among the neighboring London inhabitants.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fool's Views (6/1 – 6/30)



Howdy, folks!

Been a fair spell since I’ve done the full Fool’s treatment, mostly due to the fact that Cinepocalypse 2019 took up a large chunk of time and energy, but also I’ve been teaching more self-defense workshops both with IMPACT Chicago and through my home base of Lincoln Square Athletic Club, and have been subsequently spending less time in front of screens large or small. That said, it’s been a great year for movies thus far at the Doc’s office, averaging around 40 flicks a month for the first six months – it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out!

Kicked off a couple new movie projects in June as well. My pal Daniel and I decided that, in anticipation of Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 in Bond 25 (as it’s currently being called in the trades), we would start at the beginning and wend our way through the famed British secret service agent’s film exploits over the past five and a half decades. As it turns out, I haven’t seen most of these in well over 20 years, so in many ways it’s like seeing them for the first time.

Similarly, I stumbled across one of Chuck Norris’ early films, The Octagon, while over at my other pal Dan’s house and realized I hadn’t seen most of his flicks since they came out in the 1980s. So in a fit of Amazon retail therapy, I ended up buying about 17 movies starring His Beardness and will be picking my way through them as time allows. (I’m contemplating keeping them on the shelf until October and having the Chucktober Film Festival, but I’ve already got the October Horror Move Challenge/Scare-A-Thon on the books, so we’ll have to see if my penchant for puns rules the day.)

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

Enjoy!