Thursday, February 20, 2020

KILLER CROCODILE (1989) Blu-ray Review

Killer Crocodile (1989) d. Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman) (Italy) (94 min)

When a group of attractive young environmentalists descend upon an idyllic tropical island community looking for evidence of illegal nuclear waste disposal, they find themselves not only at odds with the corrupt local officials but with an enormous toothy behemoth lurking beneath the surface! Operating by the 1950s sci-fi horror playbook, it seems that the titular menace has contracted a nasty case of gigantism from exposure to the radioactive leakage, with an appetite to match. The idealistic outsiders recognize that Nature and Science have created the perfect killing machine, but the debate as to whether it should be captured for posterity or extinguished for the greater public good becomes a moot point after several of their party are munched into extinction themselves. Now they must join forces with island’s resident Great White Hunter Joe (Ennio Girolami) to stop the leathery lunatic in its short, stubby tracks.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

BLISS (2019) Blu-ray Review

Bliss (2019) d. Joe Begos (USA) (80 min)

Unable to finish her newest commissioned work, struggling visual artist, Dezzy (Dora Madison) looks to reignite her creative juices by boozing, swearing, and snorting her way through every house party and metal bar she can find. After a few nights in the company of her friends (and sometimes lovers) Courtney (Tru Collins) and Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield), Dezzy is finally painting again, but she also finds herself hooked on a new blend of sniffable narcotics and developing a strange desire for… blood.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/15)

"Doggone it, it's spelled Klaatu Barada NIKTO, those idiots!"

Howdy, folks!

Yep, it’s that time of the year again, where the prestige pics hold sway over our collective cinematic attentions (otherwise known as AC Catches Up With Everyone Else’s “Best of 2019” Lists), so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Civilian end of the cinematic pool. That said, I’m pleased that I was also able to find time to participate in the newly resurrected KRYPTIC ARMY hosted by the one and only Kitley’s Krypt.

What’s the Kryptic Army? So glad you asked!

From 2010 to 2014, Our Fearless Leader issued a monthly set of commands: Watch two horror movies (that you’ve never seen before) that conform to a given set of parameters and report back your findings. Along the way, we covered such themes as stars (Peter Cushing, Paul Naschy), directors (Lucio Fulci, H.G. Lewis), topics (Holiday Horror, Apocalyptic Horror), or titles (“Black,” “Night,” etc.) Over those six years, I think I only failed to complete one of those 60 missions, and that was because I picked two movies that did not feature the required “Snowy Backdrop.” (I mean, who would have guessed that neither Cadaver Christmas nor Track of the Moon Beast would feature nary a flake, considering their plot descriptions involved a Yeti and Christmas????) Anyway, thrilled that Jon has called back in the troops – hope you join us because WE WANT YOU.

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


Sunday, January 26, 2020

ZONE TROOPERS (1985) Blu-ray Review

Zone Troopers (1985) d. Bilson, Danny (USA) (86 min)

In contrast to this month’s other KRYPTIC ARMY selection, while I had been aware of its indelible box art staring back at me for decades from the VHS shelves, Zone Troopers had never really struck me as “must-see material,” and being that I was never the biggest Empire/Full Moon fan growing up, it was never more than a blip on my radar. However, as the years rolled by and my tastes mellowed, I’ve learned to appreciate and enjoy quite a bit of Charles Band’s output, so it was with a mild degree of optimism that I pulled this one up off the interwebs. Happily, I was not disappointed.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

DEATH SHIP (1980) Blu-ray Review

Death Ship (1980) d. Rakoff, Alvin (Canada/UK) (91 min)

Crusty and cranky Captain Ashland (George Kennedy) is taking his luxury cruise liner out for one final spin on the ocean before retirement, with trusty second-in-command Marshall (Richard Crenna) along for the ride and waiting in the wings to take over. But when their ship is blindsided by another vessel, all passengers are sent down to Davy Jones’ locker with the exception of Ashland, Marshall and his family (Sally Ann Howes, Jennifer McKinney, Danny Higham), ship’s steward Nick (Nick Mancuso), his girlfriend Lori (Victoria Burgoyne), and kindly old religious nut Sylvia (Kate Reid). (Bandleader Saul Rubinek also ends up in the life raft, but is done away with so quickly, it barely counts.) Surprise, surprise, the derelict ship that took them out circles back around for another go, they all climb aboard, and mayhem predictably (and sporadically) ensues.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

BODY PARTS (1991) Blu-ray Review

Body Parts (1991) d. Eric Red (USA) (88 min)

Bill Chrushank (Jeff Fahey) is a criminal psychologist who loses his arm and nearly his life in a grisly car accident. Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsay Duncan) proposes an experimental medical procedure, successfully grafting a new limb on its place. Following a strenuous period of rehabilitation, things seem to be back to normal… until Bill’s new arm starts to exhibit a will of its own, striking out against Bill’s wife Karen (Kim Delaney) and children, while Bill begins to experience horrifying dreams of murder and bloodshed. Are these symptoms all in his mind or are they linked to the limb itself, residual traces of its former owner’s troubled life?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971) Blu-ray Review

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) d. John D. Hancock (USA) (88 min)

Following her release from a sanitarium, emotionally sensitive Jessica (Zohra Lampert) leaves NYC with her classical musician husband Duncan (Barton Heywood) and their like-minded hippie friend Woody (Kevin O’Connor) to find peace and quiet working an apple orchard in Connecticut. But when they encounter a strange, beautiful squatter, Emily (Mariclare Costello), residing in the farmhouse, Jessica’s unstable world begins to crumble. And, like our heroine, the viewer is never quite sure what is reality or nightmare, madness or sanity….

Monday, January 20, 2020

COLOR OUT OF SPACE (2019) Movie Review

Color Out of Space (2019) d. Richard Stanley (USA) (111 min)

Living with his family on their small and isolated farm, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) enjoys a laid-back existence, eking out a meager existence milking alpacas and cultivating tomatoes while his online stock-trader wife Theresa (Joley Richardson) does daily battle with their sketchy internet bringing home the proverbial bacon. Their kids are a relatively well-adjusted if offbeat brood, with older brother Benny (Brendan Meyer) holding down the level-headed fort between bong hits, aspiring spiritualist Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) trading time between healing spells to repress her mom’s cancer and complaining about living out in the boonies, and young dreamer Jack (Julian Hilliard) drawing and tinkering his home-schooled days away. Of course, all that changes one night when a strange purple glowing meteorite crashes down in their front yard and proceeds to slowly influence everyone and everything around it.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Civilian 2019 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, 2019 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

However, first... A little context:

This was probably the first year in the last 20 years that I didn’t see a single movie at the multiplex and, with the exception of the Music Box of Horrors and Cinepocalypse, it was the first time that I didn’t see more than a single film in the theater with each trip. That’s right, no double, triple, quadruple features, just in and out and off to the proverbial snack bar to discuss. It was a fairly unique experience, but it also meant that my numbers for current releases were WAAAAAAAY down from usual. Also, since my focus tended to err toward chosen “projects” – most of which were of a certain vintage (007, Chuck Norris, various directors) – my home viewings rarely dabbled in the modern shiny stuff. Can’t say I’m really bummed about the results, they’re just not the norm.

Totally gratuitous pic of Denise Richards riding a dinosaur to entice you to click below the fold...

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Dr. AC's 2019 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter... I mean, hey, come on in!

Howdy, folks!

Wow, I’m almost impressed with myself for getting this done in such a timely fashion. I mean, hell, I haven’t even written my rent check for the month and I’m already posting this? WINNING.

Since (once again) I haven’t been breaking my neck to keep up with the latest and greatest, I’ve (once again) extended my field of view for genre releases to cover the last two years, both 2018 and 2019 releases. To be honest, I was surprised that I had seen as many as I had, but widening the field means we can plant more crops, if one might be allowed to explore the metaphor.

Please note: All the films listed below were encountered by your humble scribe for the first time over the past 12 months and, to acknowledge as many as possible, I've broken them down into various categories in alphabetical order, with my top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

Saturday, January 4, 2020

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


All right, last lap, everyone!

The back half of December was actually quite a treat, since I knew I had done pretty well in terms of total films and having finished up several projects, but I also knew that I had a few loose ends I wanted to tie up before the final bell rang. I was one film away from completing The Omen franchise, two films away from completing the Silent Night Deadly Night franchise, I had several gaps from the 1940s that I wanted to fill, and so on. I would find myself waking up and thinking, “Oh, yeah, that would be a good thing too…” and, even though I didn’t quite finish all the items on my wish list, I still did pretty well.

In short, it’s been a hell of a year (in many ways), and I was often reminded how lovely it can be to be transported to a different time, different place for a few hours and come back home, feeling just a little richer for the experience. Thanks to everyone who shared with the ride with me in one respect or another.

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


Friday, January 3, 2020

SILVER BULLET (1985) Blu-ray Review

Silver Bullet (1985) d. Daniel Attias (USA) (95 min)

In the small rural Maine community of Tarker’s Mills, a maniacal killer is on the loose, viciously rending its victims to pieces, leaving the townsfolk terrified and the police stumped. But young Marty Coslow (Corey Haim) is convinced that a supernatural shapeshifter stalks among them, a werewolf who only shows its toothy maw every full moon. Problem is, Marty is 13, so no one believes him; worse yet, he’s stuck in a wheelchair, which leaves him vulnerable. With his only allies, sister Jane (Megan Follows) and boozy Uncle Red (Gary Busey), Marty sets out to devise a means of stopping the beast before it homes in on the one person who knows its true identity....

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Fool's Views (12/1 – 12/15)

We're here for the Old Year....

Howdy, folks,

Well, with the self-defense schedule relatively clear after the first week, December provided rich and varied cinematic terrain to explore and celebrate with others. Just in the nick of time, I held my first official Share the Scare of 2019, during which we knocked out eight, count 'em, EIGHT flicks in the course of one afternoon. I also started notating which years had been thus far neglected and rented accordingly from the local library shelves: 2005 (Tsotsi), 1963 (Bye Bye Birdie), and 1951 (A Place in the Sun). Sometimes – nay, usually – my OCD tendencies yield interesting fruit and these were no exceptions.

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


Sunday, December 29, 2019

MAN MADE MONSTER (1941) Blu-ray Review

Man Made Monster (1941) d. George Waggner (USA) (59 min)

When Dan McCormick (Lon Chaney Jr.) emerges as the lone survivor after a bus careens into an electrical pylon, Dr. John Lawrence (Samuel S. Hinds) is puzzled until he learns that McCormick is Dynamo Dan,” a carnival performer who regularly runs voltage through his body. The doctor theorizes that Dan might have actually built up an immunity to electricity and suggests that Dan stay with him at his house/laboratory so that further tests can be performed. Dan acquiesces, but Lawrence’s overzealous assistant, Dr. Rigas (Lionel Atwill), secretly bombards him with maximum doses of electricity hoping to create a race of superhuman atomic warriors. Dan grows more and more listless, increasingly dependent on the treatments and subject to Rigas’ will, even murdering Lawrence when the senior doctor threatens to expose the misguided experiments. In a bizarre twist of fate, when the wheels of justice attempt to execute Dan in the electric chair, they unwittingly create an unstoppable weapon capable of mass destruction!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Fool's Views (11/16 – 11/30)

Who is this Chuck Norris person and does he have a flashlight?

Howdy, folks!

Racing toward the 2019 finish line, but still need to recap the magic that was November! In addition to wrapping up our (perhaps ill-advised) Chuck Norris marathon, we also participated in our 15th annual Turkey Day with the good folks over at Kitley’s Krypt. FIFTEEN YEARS OF TURKEY, SUCKAHSSSS….

In all seriousness, I feel extraordinarily grateful to have been there from the beginning (or at least when Jon decided to start sharing the pain after two years of enduring it alone), watching the event evolve from a couple of dudes watching flicks and eating Thanksgiving leftovers to a glorious cavalcade of questionable cinematic adventures and delicious gourmet pizzas! There were 17 different varieties this year, including Miso, Paneer, Chili Dog, Crab Rangoon, Breakfast (meat or veggie), Rueben, The Drunken Billy (spaghetti pizza), Jalapeno Popper, Spinach/Artichoke, Italian Beef, Chorizo/Egg, Huevos Rancheros, Poblano/Corn, Mac and Cheese, Biscuits and Gravy, and Western (BBQ w/ sausage, bacon, onion). Many thanks to the rotating repertory of regulars for making the shared ride so enjoyable, and especially to the Kitleys for indulging our vast appetites for a decade and a half.

In other news, my Code of Silence viewing earlier in the month prompted me to dig deeper into director Andrew Davis’ C.V., splitting time between revisits (The Fugitive, Under Siege) and  previously unviewed fare (Holes, The Guardian). For some reason, he seems to have stopped directing since 2006 – not sure what the story is there since the dude was riding pretty high. Love to have him get back in the chair sooner than later.

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


Friday, November 29, 2019

EEGAH! (1962) Blu-ray Review

Eegah! (1962) d. Arch Hall Sr. (USA) (90 min)

“Love Breaks the Time Barrier!”

Arch Hall Sr. produced and directed this deliriously delightful train wreck under the pseudonym of Nicholas Merriwether, and then cast himself in a major supporting role under another aka of "William Watters." One assumes this was done to not call attention to his relation to the film’s nominal star, Arch Hall, Jr., who zips around in his dune buggy, squints and smiles a lot from under his zany blonde pompadour, and croons a couple of tunes to his girl Roxy (Marilyn Manning, The Sadist) – usually with other girls’ names as the titles.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

MARY (2019) Blu-ray Review

Mary (2019) d. Michael Goi (USA) (84 min)

Stymied by having to struggle to make ends meet working for other venues, over-the-hill captain David impulsively purchases an abandoned ship, much to the dismay of his practical wife (Emily Mortimer) and two girls (Stefanie Scott, Chloe Perrin). After pouring their savings into repairs and restorations, the family takes the Mary out for her maiden voyage, with first mate Mike (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and youthful family friend Tommy (Owen Teague) aboard. But as is so often the way with discarded seacraft, a sinister curse seems to hang over the ship from bow to stern, muddling the minds of passengers and crew alike and causing them to lash out at one another with increasing violence and unpredictability. Trapped in the middle of the ocean (near the Bermuda Triangle, as fate would have it) with nowhere to escape, the hours tick by with certain doom drawing ever nearer….

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

DRACULA (1979) Blu-ray Review

Dracula (1979) d. John Badham (USA) (109 min)

Fresh from his Broadway triumph in the titular role, a young and handsome Frank Langella smirks and smolders his way into the hearts of heroines Mina Van Helsing (Jan Francis) and Lucy Seward (Kate Nelligan), leaving the former bitten and drained, the latter smitten and stained with his tainted blood. Donald Pleasance provides a busy and eccentric turn as Dr. Seward, head of the local loony bin, while Laurence Olivier lends estimable gravitas as an aging but feisty Van Helsing, wrestling with undead demons and an unplaceable European accent (Dutch? Swiss? German?) with equal fervor.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Fool's Views (11/1 – 11/15)

"Eleven #$%@&% Chuck Norris movies??? Are you out of your mind, boyo??????"

Well, with the crush of Scare-A-Thon 2019 behind us, the past two weeks have felt nearly luxurious. And by luxurious, of course, I mean we got to watch more movies! In addition to polishing off the handful of first-time views I’d grabbed as potential October Challenge selections, I finally got around to seeing Avengers: Endgame, had a Robert Pattinson double feature, and (drum roll please), embarked upon my first – and probably only – Chuck Norris film festival… affectionately dubbed Chucktober.™

You see, back in June, my buddy Dan Kiggins and I got together for a little movie day and randomly pulled The Octagon off his creaking video shelves. The wave of ’80s nostalgia sparked viewings of Invasion USA and Lone Wolf McQuade later that week, as well as the dawning realization that I hadn’t seen a majority of The Man Who Would Be Walker: Texas Ranger’s cinematic efforts, despite the fact that he cranked out at least a movie a year for over a decade before launching his nine-year television run.

It took a few months to work up the nerve, but the first weekend in November, I took the plunge into the pool of bad hair, dodgy fight scenes, and dodgier plotlines as a means of revisiting my youth (when His Blondeness was the spin-kicking champion for pre-teens across the country) as well as attempting to understand how someone with such limited screen presence and acting ability somehow managed to will himself into the realm of movie stardom. 14 films later (with another 5-6 still to go), I’m not sure I’m any closer to an answer, but it’s been an interesting journey to be sure.

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


Saturday, November 23, 2019

PROPHECY (1979) Blu-ray Review

d. John Frankenheimer (USA) (102 min)

Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) and wife Maggie (Talia Shire) travel to Maine to research the impact of the lumber industry on the local environment. They begin to investigate a succession of mysterious and terrifying events: ecological freaks of nature and a series of bizarre and grisly human deaths. Something unimaginably horrible waits in the woods ... something unwittingly created by man, that will become an uncontrollable, merciless machine of destruction.