Monday, August 3, 2020

Fool's Views (7/1 – 7/30) (Part 1 of 2)

Ouch, you're on my hair
"Ouch, you're on my hair...."

Howdy, folks!

July was a wild ride, for sure. With Chicago’s public library reopening, health coaching classes in full swing, the garden yielding organic bounty on the regular, and personal training sessions increasing on a weekly basis, life is being lived at a rat-a-tat-tat pace. And, as if anyone needed further proof that I clearly require supervision, with June Claude Van Damme in the rearview, the stage was set for the inevitable sequel:


(You know, sometimes I amaze even myself.)

With Hammer time, Robocops, Shogun Warriors, and an unexpected Al Pacino film festival trading beats with the ongoing correspondence course that is Accademia Giallo and no fewer than a dozen Stallone features (most of which I had never seen before), there was a little something for everyone.

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


Saturday, July 25, 2020


Attack of the Super Monsters (1982) d. Toru Sotyama / Tom Wyner (Japan/USA) (83 min)

In the year 2000, we are informed via sonorous narration, a troop of dinosaurs living underground in a secret cave where they have been “developing an intelligence equal to that of Man and dreadful powers far beyond those of Humankind” finally decides to make their collective move and reclaim dominance over the Earth. With their chortling and taunting (yes, these dinos communicate via spoken word) leader Emperor Tyranus marshaling his minions with an iron claw, the cold-blooded behemoths mount a full-scale assault on our existing civilization, using a variety of brutal and bizarre methods. It’s up to the special forces team of Gemini Command to beat back the monstrous menace and save the day… over and over again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (1963) Blu-ray Review

Kiss of the Vampire (1963) d. Don Sharp (UK) (88 min)

When their automobile runs out of fuel on the way to their honeymoon, newlyweds Marianne (Jennifer Daniel) and Gerald Harcourt (Edward de Souza) find themselves stranded in a remote Bavarian forest. Towed by a horse-drawn wagon to the nearest village, they are invited by the hypnotic and aristocratic Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman) to attend a masked ball at his nearby castle. When Ravna reveals himself to be the leader of a dark arts-worshipping family of vampires, with an eye on Marianne as their most recent recruit, the young couple is plunged into a nightmare of horror and deception with the tortured Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans) their only potential savior.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Fool's Views (6/16 – 6/30)

"Carrie Bradshaw, I need you!!!"

Howdy, troops!

Rolled into the halfway point of 2020 with a slightly lighter cinematic payload, due in large part to my having committed to a six-month Health Coach certification course, adding another 5-8 hours to my weekly schedule because I had SO MUCH SPARE TIME DON’T YOU KNOW. Ahem. That said, I’m feeling pretty excited and engaged by the new tools I’m acquiring, so no complaints. Plus, since the entirety of the class is conducted remotely via laptop video, it’s almost like I’m watching movies every day, the main difference being that instead of watching evil entities eviscerating everything, I’m instead learning the Axioms of Inflammatory Foods and 50 Fancy Names for Processed Sugar. Not quite as many blood and beasts, but twice as terrifying.

However, we still managed to clock in an even dozen of the flickers, including a second Kryptic Army Mission, a fistful of Jean-Claude, and a trio from the Man of Gold, William Goldman. Hopefully, you’ll find a little something to satisfy your appetites, whatever they might be. If not, we’re already halfway through July, so more Views are on the way!

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


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Fool's Views (6/1 – 6/15)

"Seriously... you really want me to put on a mask? I feel fine..."

Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac 
A little voice inside my head said, ‘Don’t look back.’

You can never look back.

Hey everybody!

It’s been a crazy summer already, with cities starting to relax their COVID regulations even as the case numbers continue to rise. I feel like I’ve seen this scenario played out hundreds of times in various horror movies where our heroes watch helplessly as government officials make terrible decisions based on political gain rather than genuine concern for their constituents, opportunists seize what is not theirs, and the polite masses stand by to witness their own destruction. Personally, I’m adopting an extremely cautious attitude about all of it, practicing preparedness (not paranoia) and doing my best to stay safe and sane. This Fool is planning on coming out the other side and woe befall Any Other Fool who interferes with my plans.

The first half of June’s Views was dictated in part by Pals with Podcasts, expiring Redbox coupons, Kryptic Army missions, and punnage too juicy to pass up. (To give credit where credit is due, For It Is Man’s Number’s Kevin Matthews did a full month of “June-Claude Van Damme” back in 2018, but since I was the one who came up with the idea for him to do it in the first place, I feel like I can reappropriate it without fear of litigation. We shall see.) 

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


Friday, June 19, 2020

Fool's Views (5/23 – 5/31)

"Your motivation skills are very persuasive, Fraulein..."

Howdy, folks!

Apologies for the delay. I’ll be honest, I was having a hard time finding motivation casting my mind toward cinematic criticism in light of current events. I hope you are all doing okay. I know it’s been stressful on multiple levels and it’s not like we had a lot in the tank to begin with.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading numerous statements from organizations, as I’m sure you have, stating their positions on the state of the world and their place in it. For my part, I have been doing my best to show up, shut up, and listen up, because it is not necessarily my voice that needs to be heard at this time but rather my presence as an empathetic and supportive citizen of the world.

When the #metoo movement gained national attention a few years back, I felt confident that I was already on the “right” side. I identified as feminist. Previous October Scare-a-Thons had donated to Planned Parenthood, Resilience, American Women’s Self Defense Organization, and Chicago’s Greenhouse Shelter. I was even a member of an anti-sexual harassment organization, Not In Our House (Chicago). But, to be an effective ally, there was still more I could do. So I did more.

I feel the same way regarding Black Lives Matter. There is absolutely more I can do, more voices to be heard, more lessons to be learned, more action items to be taken, and I am dedicated to being a better ally. As in all things, it’s about gathering information, exploring options, and making choices, decisions, and commitments. I invite all of us to do the same. We can all do better – key word “DO.” Action is everything.

And that’s enough out of me about that.

We have a lot to get to, including the first-ever online version of Turkey Day in May, the first installment of Kicking the Seat’s "Accademia Giallo," another pair of rock docs, and stand-up people doing stand-up, so let’s just dive right in, shall we?

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


Friday, June 5, 2020

DREAMLAND (2019) Movie Review

Dreamland (2019) d. Bruce McDonald (Canada-Luxembourg-Belgium) (92 min)

In an unnamed European city, a hired assassin named Johnny (Stephen McHattie) foils a child-trafficking scheme, an assignment that he performs with righteous relish. Upon completion, he discovers to his dismay that his employer Hercules (Henry Rollins) has ordered the hit so that he could take over the booming kiddie prostitution business. Johnny contemplates breaking ties with the Herc, who asks him to perform one last job: procure the little finger of famed jazz musician The Maestro (McHattie as well) who has been hired to play at the upcoming wedding of the Countess’ (Juliette Lewis) brother, a honest-to-fangs vampire (Tomas Lemarquis) who has chosen one of Hercules’ latest acquisitions as his virgin child bride.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Fool's Views (5/11 – 5/22)

I'm not sure if this "shower optional" thing is really working out...

Greetz, my fellow fiends!

Whilst wending our way through May, in addition to a quartet of excellent review assignments, interests wandered toward the “real deal” section of the viewing library, with four feature-length documentaries and two concert films making up half the titles! I’m not complaining, since all were quite engaging, but it was a little surprising when doing the final tally. I guess sometimes it’s nice to be able to choose your own version of real life, you know? Besides, I never really got to mourn/pay tribute to the late Neil Peart (R.I.P.) back in January, so I’m giving myself that gift now.

Along those lines, I’d like to take a quick moment to say thanks to everyone who has dropped in lately to see what I’ve been watching, with a Power Thank You to everyone who has seen fit to share reviews and links within their networks. Being that I’m more or less out of the social media maelstrom, it’s been a struggle at times to get the Views into the public consciousness, but with the help of dedicated folks with questionable tastes like yourselves, the Dr. AC machine keeps rolling on through good times and bad. Salute!

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


Saturday, May 23, 2020

THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961) Blu-ray Review

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) d. Terence Fisher (UK) (93 min)

Set in 18th Century Spain, this (very) loose reworking of Guy Endore’s 1933 novel The Werewolf of Paris sees a ragged beggar (Richard Wordsworth) entering the disenchanted village of Santa Vera where a corrupt nobleman, the aptly named Marques Sinestro (Anthony Dawson), holds sway. In “service” for his supper, the Marques has the hapless homeless bark and crawl about like a dog before being imprisoned and forgotten by everyone except the jailer and his mute daughter (Yvonne Romain). 10 years of isolation drive the poor soul out of his mind such that, when the jailer’s daughter is thrown into his cell for refusing the lecherous Marques’ advances, he rapes her and promptly dies. Upon her release, the young victim murders the evil lord before escaping into the countryside, where she is discovered, pregnant and on the brink of death, by a kindly aristocrat, Don Alfredo (Clifford Evans). Her offspring, dubbed Leon (Oliver Reed), is raised by Don Alfredo to manhood where it is revealed that his unfortunate family tree and birth date (Christmas) have cursed him with bestial leanings whenever the moon is full and lust is on the rise….

Thursday, May 21, 2020

TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (2017) Blu-ray Review

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017) d. Issa López (Mexico) (83 min)

Set against the backdrop of Mexico’s drug wars, this dark fairy tale follows Estrella (Paola Lara), whose school is closed due to a shooting, an act that unleashes a mysterious, potentially malevolent force that marks the young girl, tracking her to her home where she discovers that her mother has gone unexpectedly missing. She ultimately falls in with a group of similarly abandoned children, led by the fiery pre-teen Shine (Juan Ramon Lopez) who has stolen the cell phone (and pistol) of a former drug cartel member, an act that has the young gang running for their lives. Estrella, having been given “three magical wishes” by her schoolteacher, is tasked with facing one of the criminals as an initiation into Shine’s gang, an assignment that only escalates their perilous situation, leaving them pursued by dark forces both of this world and from beyond.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

SWORD OF GOD (aka THE MUTE) (2018) Movie Review

Sword of God (aka The Mute) (2018) d. Bartosz Konopka (Poland) (100 min)

In the early Middle Ages, a contingent of knights embarks on a dangerous journey to spread Christianity and baptize the pagan inhabitants of an isolated village hidden deep in the mountains of a faraway island. After being shipwrecked, the two survivors, the elder Bishop Willibrord (Krzysztof Pieczynski) and a younger subservient (Karol Bernacki, credited as “Noname”), proceed with their mission, but as they attempt to convert the tribe, their diverging beliefs put them at odds with one another. Soon, love is confronted with hate, peace with violence, sanity with madness, and redemption with damnation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Fool's Views (5/1 – 5/10)

"G'day, mate! I'll have the Double Impossible Whopper...
What do you mean no substitutions? Let me talk to your manager..."

Hey there, kids!

Hope everyone is staying safe, staying healthy, and staying the course!

The opening May Day celebrations entailed knocking out the remainder of the Death Wish films (special thanks to Dan and Tim for riding shotgun), which was quite the cause for celebration. We also clocked a couple more Bronson flicks (over 30 for the year!), as well as sampling a double scoop of Stallone, a pair of peliculas peligrosas for Kitley’s Krypt, and kept things reel/real with another smattering of documentaries.

We’ve got a ton of fun stuff on the to-watch stack, so let’s get to it without any further delay.

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


Monday, May 11, 2020

WOLF CREEK 2 (2013) Blu-ray Review

Wolf Creek 2 (2013) d. Greg McLean (Australia) (106 min)

In 2005, audiences were introduced to Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) stalking tourists in writer/director McLean’s supremely nasty and well-executed slice of suspense and pain, based on Australia’s notorious “backpacker murders.” The young filmmaker’s debut outraged mainstream critics who ignored the slow-burn character development, palpable disorientation, excruciating suspense, and late great cinematographer Will Gibson’s breathtaking lensing of the bucolic Outback vistas, focusing their ire on the admittedly brutal third act of young bodies being bloodied and broken. Horror fans, however, immediately identified one of their own, embracing McLean and his psychotic creation with open arms.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Fool's Views (4/24 – 4/30)

"Is it safe to go out yet....? I need some Cheetos."

Hello again!

Hope everyone is staying healthy, staying hopeful, and staying at home as much as possible. With the exception of recent trips to the community garden to prep our plot for the summer (I swear, we’re not burying bodies!), we’ve been doing our best to flatten the curve without getting too curvy ourselves. Between the flicks, there have been push-ups, planks, squats, pull-ups, and crunches, at least 100 of each every day, in the hopes that once we’re allowed to re-enter this strange new world post-COVID, we’re not looking like total tubs of goo. So far, so good, building those good habits and trying to stay positive. After all, there are movie marathons on the horizon and we’ll need all our strength to see them through! THIS IS WHY WE TRAIN….

On that note, rediscovering the Chicago Public Library’s FREE streaming service Hoopla has been a total delight, stumbling across tons of films that I had been meaning to catch up with for months or even years. The “to-watch” stack just got a whole lot higher, for better or worse! For those in the Windy City area, I highly recommend it, and for those out-of-towners, try checking your own local library’s website and see what they have to offer. Despite all propaganda to the contrary, the world does not revolve around Amazon Prime and Netflix alone!

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


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

VFW (2019) Blu-ray Review

VFW (2019) d. Joe Begos (USA) (92 min)

After attempting to stretch with his modern vampire flick Bliss, Begos crashes back to earth, seemingly content in being the worst kind of Tarantino imitator, i.e. interested only in serving up “tributes” of established tropes and subgenres under his own byline. Having done body snatcher (Almost Human) and psychokinetic (The Mind’s Eye) flicks, he now offers up a siege film (Assault on Precinct 13 is the obvious model and, yes, I know that John Carpenter was himself riffing off Rio Bravo, thank you very much) combined with Stallone’s The Expendables series by hiring over-the-hill cult actors (Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Martin Kove, Daniel Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Fred Williamson) to play a group of retired soldiers defending their local watering hole from a horde of strung-out (and wildly ineffectual) druggies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Fool's Views (4/16 – 4/23)

"I'm alright. Nobody worry 'bout me..."

Howdy folks!

I wish I May, I wish I Might, post these Views before the fall of Night…..

This week’s offerings were kind of all over the place, with the Arrow Blu-ray stack, Chicago Public Library’s streaming platform Hoopla, the doc’s personal DVD collection, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and blood brother Dan Kiggins’ proffering their capable services. From cursed films to Argento’s origins, from worlds of water to Elvira’s cuttting comments and curves, we’ve got a little bit of something for everyone.

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


Saturday, May 2, 2020

A PERFECT DAY... for female-centric horror! (Guest Video)

Happy Belated May Day, everyone!

I'll be posting the latest batch of Fool's Views later on this weekend, but in the meantime....

My buddy Mackenzie Parker, professional actor, editor, and horror fan extraordinaire, put together this nifty batch of clips showcasing fantastic female frights throughout the ages. I enjoyed it mightily and I think you will too.

I'm including the video window below, but I know that the blog formatting doesn't always jive with it, so here's the direct Vimeo link as well.

Have fun!

Perfect Day (A Scream Queen Compilation) from mackenzie parker on Vimeo.

Monday, April 27, 2020

FURY OF THE DEMON (2016) / ANTRUM (2018) Movie Review

Fury of the Demon (2016) d. Fabien Dulage (France) (60 min)

Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (2018) d. David Amito / Michael Laicini (Canada) (95 min)

The concept of a “movie that kills” has been explored before, most notably in Ringu (1999) and its remakes/sequels, and also on the small screen with John Carpenter’s 2005 Masters of Horror episode, “Cigarette Burns.” Now, fans can enjoy a diabolical double dip of creepy cursed celluloid from both sides of the Atlantic, and while neither are perfect in execution, both offer enthusiastically macabre mythos designed to arouse imaginations and inspire conversations beyond the closing credits.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Fool's Views (4/1 – 4/15)

"Anybody need a hand? HAHAHAHAHA OH I LOVE THAT ONE."

Hey there, team!

I know, it’s shocking to have the Views actually up to date. Crazy what happens when you have a shorter commute (i.e. not leaving the house!) I even knocked out my Kryptic Army mission before the month was even halfway through. I was going to make a joke about that being one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse, but I'm not going to tempt Fate, if you know what I mean....

Pretty happy with how this year is going thus far in terms of hooking up the holiday horror with the corresponding dates. Not only did we do a double feature of My Bloody Valentine back on Feb 14, we got in an April 1st viewing of April Fool’s Day. (Both courtesy of Shout! Factory.) True, I missed seeing a Jason Voorhees feature back in March, but we have another Friday the 13th coming up in November, so I’ll have another shot at it. (I confess, I didn’t really work that hard to find anything Easter-related, but there are only so many times you can watch Night of the Lepus.)

Hope everyone is keeping healthy and hopeful out there. And remember: The only thing more fun than watching movies is talking to other people about the movies you’ve watched! (As long as they’re six feet or more away, of course.) So, make sure you’re doing plenty of both during these strange days.

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


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Fool's Views (3/23 – 3/31)

Still a little unclear about this social distancing thing....

Greetings, my friends!

The last week of March was not quite as frenzied in terms of intake of the fluttering image. (Although some may debate this, based on the number of flicks consumed, there was a little more structure and pacing than the week prior.) In addition to increasing the All Things Bronson tally, Amazon Prime graced me with three worthwhile documentaries about fright flicks and the creative forces behind them while Shout! Factory delivered the goods both on physical media and streaming.

I also knocked out my Kryptic Army Assignment just in the final lap (inspired by personal fears, mine being of sickness and infirmity – nice timing, right?), and sampled the debut features from two filmmakers who would change the face of cinema, John Hughes and George Lucas.

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