Friday, August 30, 2013

PSYCHO II (1983) Blu-ray Review

Psycho II
d. Franklin, Richard (USA)

Being a dead-icated young pup, I dutifully read Robert Bloch’s 1982 literary follow-up to Psycho before seeing its celluloid counterpart on cable during its HBO run, even going so far as to ask the local bookmarm to conjure it via interlibrary loan. I found it satisfying enough, including its key twist of leaving Norman Bates by the wayside early in the narrative. However, with Anthony Perkins returning to the role that had loomed large over his career for the past two decades, it was even money that screenwriter Tom Holland would not be following Bloch’s game plan – even as a lad I knew that Hollywood couldn’t squander an opportunity like that for the sake of a clever plot twist. (Then again, Hitchcock had done something mighty similar 22 years earlier, to memorable success, so who knew...?)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

SCANNERS II (1991) / SCANNERS III (1991) Blu-ray Review

 In 1980, David Cronenberg continued to expand his "body horror" oeuvre, following up the rage dwarf/child custody drama The Brood with his most financially successful effort to that point, Scanners. Thanks in no small part to Chris Walas’ literal mind-blowing special effects and a ferociously menacing turn by Michael Ironside, Cronenberg’s flick changed the face of the horror landscape; we’d seen telepaths and telekinetics before, but the Canadian auteur imbued the fanciful tale with a combination of impressive biochemical gravitas and onscreen carnage that elevated it above the likes of Escape from Witch Mountain and Bewitched. However, somewhere along the line, he also signed away the creative rights to his story and characters, laying the path for original producer Pierre David and partner Rene Malo to line their pockets with a pair of belated and unrelated sequels (both released in 1991), now available on a DVD/Blu-ray pack from Shout! Factory.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fool's Views (7/29 – 8/18)

Howdy folks!

Some days it's good to be the Doc...

Wow, we’re actually caught up again. Amazing what a few quick rounds of Fool’s Views Haikus will do, combined with the fact that I haven’t been turning and burning the flicks the way I have during summer months of yore. Thanks to the good folks at Shout! Factory for providing most of the thrills and chills during the three week period covered herein, although Kitley’s Krypt provided a couple highlights as well. (Razorback, Yor)

Let’s see what kind of mischief we can get up to. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Monday, August 19, 2013


Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) The (2011) d. Six, Tom (Netherlands)

Centering around Laurence R. Harvey’s rotund, bug-eyed misfit’s unhealthy obsession with 2009's notorious midnight movie sensation, Six’s follow-up knowingly goes further in every respect than its predecessor and this glorious excess brings the film’s black humor to the fore. It’s hard to recall the last time someone married such vile screen imagery with such a sense of glee, including the viewer in the joke instead of merely assaulting us.


Human Centipede (First Sequence), The (2009) d. Six, Tom (Netherlands)

Even before its release, the jaw-dropping premise behind this notorious horror flick from the Netherlands had already made its way into the public vernacular. Roger Ebert even felt it necessary to reveal the entire plot as a “public service announcement” to his readers in one of his rare “un-starred” reviews. For myself, I never felt this necessary; in fact, the ideal scenario would be for someone to see the film without knowing anything about it, so it could deliver the true impact that writer/director Six deserves.

COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES (2012) Blu-ray review

Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012) d. Hoene, Matthias (UK)

En route to its home video debut, this scrappy undead flick with the dubious title has stirred up a passel of goodwill at a multitude of festivals on both sides of the Atlantic and so arrives on Scream Factory’s shiny silver Blu-ray disc (their first non-revival release) with a fair amount of buzz and expectations attached. While Hoene’s zom-com may not be the gut-busting gut-munching game changer you’ve heard, it does manage to deliver some well-earned chuckles and more than its fair share of eye-popping splatter gags.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

RAZORBACK (1984) movie review

Razorback (1984) d. Mulcahy, Russell (Australia)

During the Ozploitation heyday born of the success of George Miller’s The Road Warrior, music video veteran Mulcahy took the wheel for this surprisingly effective yarn about a giant killer boar menacing Outback locals. In the decade after Jaws scared everyone out of the water, the silver screen played host to all varieties of vicious oversized beasties, with the results ranging from tongue-in-cheek thrills (Alligator, Grizzly) to ludicrous camp classics (The Sea Serpent, Deadly Eyes). No one could have guessed that an carnivorous slab of bacon sporting giant tusks and a bad attitude would turn out to be one of the more successful imitators; Mulcahy’s approach of presenting the cloven-hoofed menace completely straight-faced, while simultaneously introducing the foreignness of the desolate sand-swept environs and its bizarre inhabitants, works like gangbusters.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fool's Views (7/1 - 7/28)

My head's gonna explode from all the awesomeness!!!

Howdy folks!

Back again with more More MORE. Almost the entirety of July, to be exact. Wasn’t able to watch as much as usual, but then, that gave me time to write more than usual. As for the horror flicks getting short shrift, ABCs of Death is more curiosity than film, Pacific Rim gets more and more sour the further away I get, and Beneath is from a filmmaker I love too much to properly skewer. Pretty much everything else gets the gala treatment – hope you dig the bounty.

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


Thursday, August 15, 2013

BLOOD FOR IRINA (2012) Blu-ray Review

Blood for Irina (2012) d. Alexander, Chris (USA)

I’ve been a fan of Chris Alexander for a long time. I first became aware of the inglorious bastard during his tenure at Rue-Morgue magazine where – among other achievements – he was one of the few brave journalists to step in the boxing ring with Uwe Boll as part of the “Raging Boll” exhibition match. After he jumped ship to Fangoria, I followed the exploits on his Blood Spattered Blog, which subsequently led to our first collaboration with me serving as copy editor on Midnight Marquee’s Blood Spattered Book. Not long afterwards, he was named the new Editor-in Chief for Fangoria when longtime ghoul Tony Timpone stepped down. No TT disrespect intended, but the magazine took an immediate upswing with this injection of fresh blood – like him or hate him, Alexander brings his distinct personality to whatever he does. I don’t always agree with his opinions or passions, but I respect the fact that he feels them as deeply as he does and staunchly (and articulately) defends them. So it goes without saying that when I heard he was going to be writing, directing, producing, editing and scoring his first feature film, Blood for Irina, I knew the end result would unequivocally be “A Chris Alexander Film.” The real question was, would I like it?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013) movie review

We Are What We Are (2013) d. Mickle, Jim (USA)

There’s a deep dark secret at the center of writer/director Mickle’s latest feature, his third following the acclaimed Mulberry St. and Stake Land. The irony is that this mystery, which enjoys its big reveal about an hour into the film, is a large part of the high concept pitch and is likely to be known to anyone who settles in to watch, especially if they are in any way familiar with Jorge Michel Grau’s original Mexican shocker. Because Mickle and co-writer Nick Damici have taken such pains to carefully unwrap this plot element, I will endeavor to do the same. But regardless of whether viewers know where the winding road leads, the experience is not diminished; this is powerful, assured filmmaking that overcomes the clunkiness of its predecessor and stands as the fiercely independent artist’s most fully realized effort to date. And – barring an excessively silly climax (thrown in to appease the gorehounds) – it’s also probably one of the finest remakes of the past two decades.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fool's Views (6/24 – 6/30)

And now a word from our sponsor...

A metaphor for something, I'm sure...

Hey kids,

Yes, it’s true. It’s mid-August and these are films that I saw back in June. You see, what had happened was....

No, no excuses. Just changes and life and adjustments and distractions and priorities and so on. As some of you might have noticed, I’ve also gotten quite a bit gabbier over the past year, at least about certain films. Once the master of the capsule review, now it seems I can’t stop yakking once I get started. And having spilled that much virtual ink, I then feel obliged to track down a few images to break up the wordy beast. Final result? It takes longer to write a review, and consequently, I don’t have as much time to watch movies (which was half the reason why I was writing capsule reviews in the first place!). Add in the ongoing time-management issues of rehearsals and performances and other artistic endeavors (such as a certain booky wook that will soon be seeing the light of day – stay tuned) and what you get is what you see.

The happy/sad news is people keep telling me that they really enjoy reading these longer reviews with all the pretty pictures, especially since most aren’t reading them until after they see the films in question anyway. (I can relate to this, being the spoiler-shy purist ninny that I am.) So, if it’s a post-show chat we’re looking for, might as well ramble on and that’s probably the direction we’re going to continue to head. As a result, there are going to be some films that get the “star treatment” and some for whom the time-honored Fool’s Views Haikus™ are going to have to suffice. Obviously, if you want to hear more about a certain flick, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to jaw on a bit about it.

What I don’t want is this nasty ongoing habit of finding myself weeks and months behind schedule in terms of a weekly Fool’s Views report. So, we’re going to get a little more rigorous about posting in a timely fashion, and then expanding our coverage as time and enthusiasm allows. How’s that sound, true believers?

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


Monday, August 12, 2013

SCHIZOID (1980) Blu-ray Review

Schizoid (1980) d. Paulsen, David (USA)

Written/directed by Savage Weekend’s Paulsen, who later enjoyed massive success as a producer of nighttime soaps like Dallas, Dynasty and Knots Landing, Schizoid exhibits hints of being a far more interesting film than the final result. Right around the same time advice columnist Marianna Hill begins receiving anonymous cut n’ paste letters threatening her safety, members of her therapy support group begin falling victim to a mysterious scissor-wielding maniac.

X-RAY (aka HOSPITAL MASSACRE) (1982) Blu-ray Review

X-Ray (aka Hospital Massacre) (1982) d. Davidson, Boaz (USA)

Cannon! Golan-Globus! Barbi Benton! Boaz Davidson! (Always a good sign when one finds oneself shouting the opening credits aloud.)

X-Ray, or Hospital Massacre as it was often known during its initial release, kicks off with little blonde Susan, excitedly playing with trains with her brother, spurning young admirer Harold’s ding dong ditch approach to Valentine’s romance. Payback comes instantly in the form of her sibling finding himself impaled through the neck and left hanging from the hat rack. (Okay, this little guy Harold is already terrifying on a superhuman level in in terms of lethal swiftness and strength. Give him a wide berth.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

DARK ANGEL (aka I COME IN PEACE) (1990) Blu-ray Review

Dark Angel (aka I Come In Peace) (1990) d. Baxley, Craig R. (USA)

While I distinctly remember the trailer for the bombastic '80s sci-fi actioneer I Come in Peace (released in 1990, but like that year’s other big-bam-boom-blammo alien assassin flick, Predator 2, this one screams the prior decade), I elected to pass on it both during its brief theatrical run nor did it ever make the final cut when dragging armloads of video rentals to the checkout counter. While I enjoyed the concept of an unfriendly E.T. having learned just enough English to catch his quarry off guard, it wasn’t enough to push me over the cliff. Chalk it up to the fact that I was still waist-deep in catching-up mode during the VHS boom, and well, headliner Dolph Lundgren wasn’t exactly someone whose filmography piqued much interest. Time passed, and in all that time, no one had ever come along to insist I had missed out on some kind of overlooked gem, so I continued to ignore it.