Monday, June 30, 2014

THE GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977) DVD Review


Gestapo's Last Orgy, The (1977) d. Cesare Canevari (Italy)

Often described as a remake of Liliana Cavana’s notorious art house classic The Night Porter, Gestapo’s Last Orgy is actually quite its own beast. Both films do feature a female concentration camp survivor reuniting with her Nazi oppressor years later, but whereas Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling’s S&M antics charted controversial waters, it’s clear that theirs is a consensual, if twisted, relationship. For Commandant Von Starker (Adriano Micantoni, billed here as Mark Loud) and Lise (Daniela Poggi, as Daniela Levy), the quirky relationship is forged in the fires of dominance and defiance. Von Starker seeks to crush the beautiful Lise’s will, but since she has already divorced herself from her emotions, he derives no satisfaction from torturing her. He must make her “love life” again, so that he may achieve the ultimate victory by depriving her of it. He ends up falling for her, while she in turn grows increasingly more powerful, more dangerous.


LOVE CAMP 7 (1969) movie review



Love Camp 7 (1969) d. Lee Frost (USA)

Because it got there first, this sloppy, schlocky Nazisploitation pioneer deserves some sort of notoriety, but it’s such a campy, ill-produced bore that it’s hard to properly celebrate or condemn. Two American WACs (Maria Lease, Kathy Williams) are sent to rescue a captured scientist from one of the infamous (and historically inaccurate) brothels where Nazi soldiers enjoy the fruits of POWs, said camp being run by the flamboyant and sadistic Commandant (Robert Cresse, who also assisted with the “script”).


THE BEAST IN HEAT (1977) movie review



Beast in Heat, The (aka SS Hell Camp) (1977) d. Luigi Batzella (as Ivan Kathansky) (Italy)

Clearly inspired by Don Edmonds’ Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, writer/director Batzella (with help from screenwriter Lorenzo Artale) stitches together a gruesome tale of an unscrupulous and uncommonly busty Nazi doctor (Macha Magall) performing rather ill-defined experiments that involve torturing female POWs with electricity, guinea pigs disguised as rats, or, worst of all, having them sexually devoured by a caged, hairy, barely-human monster (played with great enthusiasm by Italian strongman Sal Boris).


Sunday, June 29, 2014

KURONEKO (1968) movie review



Kuroneko (aka Black Cat) (1968) d. Kaneto Shindo (Japan)

The writer/director of Onibaba delivers a companion tale of horror set in feudal Japan, but whereas that 1964 classic focused on a mother/daughter-in-law team waylaying samurai and scavenging their corpses to survive their poverty, here we have a mother/daughter-in-law team waylaying samurai to avenge their own rapes and murders. Yep, it’s a Japanese ghost story, one that ultimately pits a young warrior Gintoki (Kichiemon Nakamura) against those he loved most in life.


THE LIVING SKELETON (1968) movie review



Living Skeleton, The (1968) d. Hiroshi Matsuno (Japan)

After robbing and murdering the passengers and crew of the Dragon King, a gang of crooks disappear with the loot, abandoning the ship to the tides. Three years later, young and beautiful Saeko (Kikko Matsuoka) is discovered still mourning the death of her twin sister, Yoriko, as she lives in a convent-type setting under the care of kindly priest Akashi (Masumi Okada) whilst secretly canoodling with seaside café owner Mochizuki (Yasunori Irikawa). A scuba-diving date reveals the Dragon King’s victims’ remains, with the haunted craft appearing on the foggy ocean surface. Boarding the boat, Saeko comes face-to-face with the ghost of Yoriko; soon after, the various thugs who perpetrated the start coming to untimely ends, with Saeko/Yoriko’s vengeful visage never far away.


THE SACRAMENT (2013) movie review



Sacrament, The (2013) d. Ti West (USA)

Utterly pedestrian, nonsensical, and cinematically frustrating retelling of the Jim Jones/People’s Temple massacre where over 900 American civilians lost their lives in 1978 in Guyana, either courtesy of the gun-toting camp guardians or by their own cyanide-laced Kool-Aid-bearing hands. More irritating than the uninspired appropriation of this real-life tragedy is writer/director West’s decision to tell the story “documentary-style” (a clear attempt to avoid the “found-footage” stamp, but let’s face it, that’s what it is), a formal choice that yields nothing except that which is lazy and sloppy.


GOJIRA (1954) / GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS (1956) DVD Review



Gojira (1954) d. Ishiro Honda (Japan)
Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) d. Ishiro Honda / Terry O. Morse (Japan/USA)

It’s nearly impossible to approach the subject of Godzilla with any objectivity, so I’m not even going to try. After all, it was my love for this fire-breathing, Tokyo-stomping behemoth from Monster Island that first piqued my interest in monster movies, from which my love for horror films consequently followed, ultimately leading me to my current state of being dutifully strapped to my television set every spare minute to take in the latest fright flick, then rushing to the computer to discuss and critique. It’s to the Big G that we must raise our glasses and shake our fists, because it all started there. 60 years, 28 official Toho films, and two U.S. remakes later, he still stands head and shoulders above the rest.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fool's Views (5/15 – 6/15)


He's on a roll, folks! Dig in!

Howdy, friends,

This period does cover a calendar month, but the final two weeks were spent off the grid marching around the Colorado Plateau with my best girl, and the earlier half was spent trying to get things in order before we left. As such, there wasn’t as much time for concentrated viewings what with wrestling articles into shape for the latest issue of HorrorHound or pounding out the remaining BR reviews below. Even so, there were some grand Views to be had, particularly the Jon Kitley-hosted Big-Bug-a-thon on May 24.

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

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CHICAGO CRITICS FILM FESTIVAL 2014 review round-up!!!


The AC and the BC (Bobcat, rocking an amazing Bigfoot sweater)

Having traveled over hill, dale, oceans, and international borders over the past couple years, I've become a very big fan of the film festival scene. However, this spring, The Doc didn't have to travel any further than his own backyard to indulge in a special slice of pre-release big-screen cinematic goodness.

Created in 2013 by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), with a program that included Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, Emily Hagins’ Grow Up, Katie Aselton’s Black Rock, Jonathan Levine’s All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Jason Lapeyre & Robert Wilson’s I Declare War, James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, and the remastered director’s cut of William Friedkin’s Sorcerer, the Chicago Critics Film Festival offers a rich cornucopia of films comprised of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers. According to their website, the CCFF is the ONLY current example of a major film critics group hosting its own festival (Go Chicago!!!), showcasing works from around the globe and from all genres.

For horror fans, this year's lineup featured some impressive Windy City debuts, including Housebound (which recently won the Audience Award at Scotland's Dead By Dawn Festival), Bobcat Goldthwait's found-footage Bigfoot flick Willow Creek, Tommy Wirkola's follow-up to his 2009 Nazi zombie hit, Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead, and Elijah Drenner's celebration of the life and career of one of Hollywood's best-loved character actors, That Guy Dick Miller (shown as a double feature with Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood, one of Miller's rare leading turns).


WILLOW CREEK (2013) movie review



Willow Creek (2013) d. Bobcat Goldthwait (USA)

I’ll admit from the outset, it might seem odd to the casual observer that, after my lambasting of the Drew Barrymore-produced Happy Camp a few months back, I should be any less brutal in my treatment of yet another Sasquatch-themed found-footage flick that borrows heavily from The Blair Witch Project’s template. The fact that one succeeds wildly while the other only succeeded in testing my patience vividly illustrates that mere story or narrative approach are far less important than how those elements are utilized. It also helps that Goldthwait has proven himself over the years to be a resourceful and savvy filmmaker, knowing how and when to push his viewers’ emotional buttons; within the single-camera confines, this is an essential skill set and the writer/director perfectly orchestrates the onscreen action to full effect.

If all hamburger buns came with toes, life would be infinitely better.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fool's Views (5/5 – 5/18)


Ah, the joys of summertime...

Howdy folks!

Yeah, yeah, it’s been a while (again) and the reviews below are sporadic (again) and while I’m not entirely okay with it, I kinda gotta be okay with it because time keeps marching on and movies keep getting watched and inspiration and opportunity are fleeting and who wants to hear excuses and apologies when they showed up to hear about the flicks?

Special thanks to David Canfield for his generosity in loaning me several of the selections listed below.

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

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959) movie review



Bucket of Blood, A (1959) d. Roger Corman (USA)

Step right in, Daddy-O, for the coolest combo of comedy and horror to make the scene. At once parody and time capsule, director/producer Corman and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith simultaneously slam and celebrate the “Beat” generation and its penchant for kooky poetry, groovy jazz, hipster slang, and the search for “the next big thing.”


Thursday, June 19, 2014

DEAD SNOW: RED VS. DEAD (2014) movie review



Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (aka Dead Snow 2) (2014) d. Tommy Wirkola (Norway)

I was a huge fan of Wirkola’s silly but enjoyable 2009 Nazi zombie epic, so as increasingly resistant as I’ve become to the pervasive sequel-itis that haunts every semi-successful release, I was eager to see how a return to his Norwegian roots would serve the young filmmaker (especially following his recent Hollywood stint with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters). The result is a decidedly mixed bag, one that provides as many groans as cheers, but since they all come at a machine gun pace, you don’t have to long to wait for the next splattery curve ball to come by and whack you in the kisser. I’d hoped for better, but there’s nothing so wrong that a good pair of editing shears couldn’t fix, so returning fans of the snowbound SS shamblers should find plenty to enjoy.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

HOUSEBOUND (2014) movie review



Housebound (2014) d. Gerard Johnstone (New Zealand)

Sentenced to eight months house arrest at her mother’s home, troubled wild child Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is saddled with an ankle bracelet, trying to co-exist with her amiable jabberjaw Mum (Rima Te Wiata), her barrel-chested ankle bracelet-supervising security officer, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), the creepy possum-skinning neighbor next door, and a restless spirit that seems to be residing within the walls of the family home.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Interview with HUMAN RACE director Paul Hough!!!



It’s a premise resembling a hybrid of Battle Royale and Stephen King’s The Long Walk: a broad racial/cultural cross-section of an unnamed metropolitan populace are spontaneously abducted, reappearing in a bleak and barren landscape save for a sidewalk leading in, around and through a few deserted structures. Then the “rules” start echoing in their heads and it’s everyone for him-or-herself until a single survivor remains.


RAVENOUS (1999) Blu-ray Review



Ravenous (1999) d. Antonia Bird (UK)

“It’s lonely being a cannibal. Tough making friends.” Heaping helpings of black comedy and gory carnage are served up in this hilarious and edgy slice of period-piece horror. Set in the waning days of the Mexican-American War, cowardly Army captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is stationed at a remote outpost in the Sierra Nevadas where daily routine is stultifying dull...until a bedraggled survivor from a failed wagon train expedition (Robert Carlyle) staggers in from the wilderness with tales of survival that would turn the hardiest soul into a vegetarian.