Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fool's Views (7/14 – 7/27)


Don't worry, he's really friendly once you get to know him...

My friends!!!

Been doing a lot of writing lately (wait, are we actually caught up????), but still managed to take a break from the smaller screen to the slightly larger one every once in a while. (Had the realization that this summer may mark my fewest excursions to the multiplex in recorded history; 2014’s popcorn crop just hasn’t looked very appealing to these old eyes. Do better, Hollywood.)

However, the home viewing has been an eclectic mix of new and old, as several bouts of martial arts traded time with she-wolves, melting men, golden boys, and giant female gorillas pitching woo. I think you’ll like, and if not, hey, you know there will be plenty more and different coming soon. Stay tuned!

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

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN (1977) movie review



Incredible Melting Man, The (1977) d. William Sachs (USA)

Combine a can’t-miss B-movie premise (an astronaut exposed to solar flares during a deep-space mission returns to Earth, where he slowly begins to dissolve) with rising makeup wiz Rick Baker, fresh off Dino De Laurentiis’ King Kong. Stir vigorously, and voila! Turkey dinner is served. Even as a kid, I knew something was awry with this riff on 1959’s First Man into Space as the trailer solemnly intoned, “He seems to be getting stronger the more he melts!” Um, what????


PROPHECY (1979) movie review



Prophecy (1979) d. John Frankenheimer (USA)

How things went so wrong is anyone’s guess. With usually reliable director Frankenheimer, Omen screenwriter David Seltzer, and a capable if not all-star cast in place, one might expect competence if not brilliance. Alas, after a promising opening, the film descends rapidly into a muddy cloud of social sermonizing (slumlords bad, big business bad, racial prejudice bad) and laughable special effects, never embracing the schlock that it so clearly is. In fact, everyone on hand takes things so seriously that most of the fun is sucked right out of this eco-horror yarn of a murderous mutant creature lurking in the Maine forests, killing off lumber company employees, Native Americans, and unsuspecting campers alike.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Fool's Views (7/7 – 7/13)


This is what I like to call the Lysol Punch...

Skreeeeeeeee-onk!

In the week leading up to and into G-Fest, it was expected that a few kaiju features would pass before our wondering eyes, but duty also called in the form of Severin’s recent Blu-ray releases. Not much to say except thanks to Dan Kiggins, Mark Matzke, and Tery Gallagher for Sharing the Scare.

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

Enjoy!

GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971) movie review



Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster) (1971) d. Yoshimitsu Banno (Japan)

The wildest, most anachronistic feature in the entire G-canon showcases an extraterrestrial life form named Hedorah that lands upon Earth and immediately begins thriving upon our overflowing supply of pollution. This movie is so batcrap crazy, it’s hard to know where to begin. There's composer Riichiro Manabe's wonky, drunken horn-filled score, hippie kids hallucinating, psychedelic dream sequences, animated vignettes, dancing freakouts, housecats covered in sludge, rockin’ “Save the Earth” theme songs, senseless bonfire-centric protest parties, and Godzilla flying (backwards, no less!).


Sunday, July 27, 2014

HALF HUMAN (1958) movie review



Half Human (1958) d. Kenneth G. Crane / Ishiro Honda (USA/Japan)

Following the international distribution template set by Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Toho sold off the rights to their 1955 abominable snowman film Ju jin yuki otoko (which also starred Gojira’s Akira Takarada and Momoko Kochi) to producer Robert B. Homel. Homel took it upon himself to lop out nearly 50 minutes of footage and insert a 20-minute framing story featuring paleontologist John Carradine in his office booming out endless pages of exposition to fellow incredulously dull and dully incredulous scientists Russell Thorson, Morris Ankrum, and Robert Karnes.


QUEEN KONG (1976) movie review



Queen Kong (1976) d. Frank Agrama (UK)

With all the ballyhoo leading up to the release of Dino De Laurentiis’ King Kong in late 1976, it was no surprise that other studios decided to ride the wave of free publicity, with numerous low-budget giant primate movies hitting screens beforehand, including Hong Kong’s Mighty Peking Man, South Korea’s A*P*E, and this bizarre mishmash of British sex comedy, parody, and monster flick. (News of the innocuous UK trifle raised the ire of Laurentiis, who sought to stop the film’s release by claiming it infringed upon his intellectual property. Money talks, the injunction was granted, and Queen Kong went largely unseen for many years until Fred Olen Ray’s Retromedia released it to DVD in 2003.)


Friday, July 25, 2014

Fool's Views (6/30 – 7/6)


The dog...um...rat...um...dogs-as-rats days of summer are here.

Back again!

Having spent the last couple installments building up to it, the Views this week culminated in the viewing of Jake West’s exhaustive, 7+ hour examination of the Video Nasty era, watching trailers and commentary from fellow fiends about the films on the chopping block. It’s probably my favorite home video release of the year, an essential purchase for genre aficionados.

Rewarding myself for having gone the distance, I sallied out to Jon Kitley’s and kicked back a quartet of quirks from around the globe (Spain, Canada, England, Russia), then returned home to kick off summer with a revisit to a certain croc-infested Maine lake to see if the water had gotten any better on second go-round. With killer rats, sexy witches, and trash-talking Betty White on the menu, it’s hard to go too far wrong.

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

Enjoy!

WAX (2014) movie review



Wax (2014) d. Victor Matellano (Spain)

On the one hand, this love letter to horror cinema delivers several cult figure cameos (Tombs of the Blind Dead’s Lone Fleming, Paul Naschy’s voice), some gooey eviscerations, and a welcome scenery-and-flesh-chewing showcase for Spanish horror icon Jack Taylor (gussied up as Vincent Price in House of Wax). The rest of the time, however, we’re trapped with smart aleck Jimmy Shaw (working his Brad Dourif features overtime) wandering around a supposedly haunted wax museum – where he has been challenged to remain until dawn – with an array of videocameras recording every snoozy, snarky move he makes.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

BURN WITCH BURN (1962) movie review



Burn, Witch, Burn (aka Night of the Eagle) (1962) d. Sidney Hayers (UK)

Terrific screen version of Fritz Lieber’s novel Conjure Wife (first seen as the 1944 Lon Chaney vehicle Weird Woman and then remade in 1980 as the little-seen Witches’ Brew), adapted with verve by the dream team of Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. Peter Wyngarde stars as a professor who seems to lead a charmed life, only to find out that he does . . . literally. Seems his beautiful bride (Janet Blair) does a little dabbling in the magical arts, and when practical hubby finds out and demands she dispense with her tools of hoodoo, his luck changes and not for the good.


VIY (1967) movie review



Viy (aka Vij) (1967) d. Konstantin Ershov / Georgi Kropachyov (Russia)

This breathtaking flight of dark fantasy, derived from the same Nikolai Gogol story that inspired Mario Bava’s gothic masterpiece Black Sunday, albeit wildly different in tone and content, combines the double charms of rural folktales and overt theatricality. You’re forgiven if you haven’t already seen or heard of it, but after viewing, you’ll likely be wondering, as I did, how it took this long and why someone didn’t clue you in sooner.


Monday, July 21, 2014

GINGER SNAPS (2000) Blu-ray Review



Ginger Snaps (2000) d. John Fawcett (Canada)

This sharp, blackly comic tale turns the old shapeshifting legend on its head, creating a metaphor for a young woman’s “change” at puberty, with the moon’s cinematic lycanthrope effects mirroring that of the menstrual cycle. Screenwriter Karen Walton’s crackling, acid-tongued, often hilarious dialogue perfectly captures the cynical tone of two outcast teenage sisters with a morbid fascination with death. When the eldest, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), is attacked by a werewolf (a harrowing, superbly shot sequence), the film proceeds to reflect her changing from girl to woman with her transformation from human to animal.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

THE NIGHT DIGGER (1971) movie review



Night Digger, The (1971) d. Alastair Reid (UK)

Curious, moody, secluded-English-country-manor chiller about a spinster (Patricia Neal) and her overbearing blind mother (Pamela Brown) whose humdrum lives are disrupted by a motorcycle-riding drifter seeking work as a groundskeeper (Nicholas Clay, who achieved cult status a decade later as Lancelot in Excalibur and Oliver Mellors in Lady Chatterly’s Lover). Despite her adopted daughter’s protests, the elder woman invites the mysterious youth to stay on – after all, it would be nice to have a man around the place, especially with this spate of ghastly murders going on in the area....


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fool's Views (6/23-6/29)


No...more...Nazisploitation. Got it?

Back again, my friends!

After the previous week’s gluttony, I found myself not only cleaning up the damage such a spree can cause (i.e. writing reviews), but wriggling out from under the weight of screener copies that had recently landed in my lap. To further complicate matters, I made a trip to the good ol’ Chicago Public Library to secure a few civilian flicks that had captured my fancy while on our recent road trip to the Colorado Plateau.

Finally, I felt compelled to round out the earlier Nazisploitation viewings by visiting (and revisiting) the pioneers of the subgenre, so those got chucked in the pile along with a Godzilla fan film for dessert. All in all, another diverse trip down the twisty, thorny path of terror. Never a dull moment.

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

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1975) movie review



Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975) d. Don Edmonds (Canada)

Inspired by the notorious real-life tales of Ilse Koch, a wife of a Nazi commandant who reportedly kept lampshades made from the skin of concentration camp victims, this Canadian exploitation sensation was much more interested in showing female flesh than shedding it. Former nude pin-up model Dyanne Thorne and her bustastic assets are put on full display as the titular tyraness of terror, turning women into experiments of extended torture while making men slaves in her bedroom.


THE BABY (1973) Blu-ray Review



The Baby (1973) d. Ted Post (USA)

After taking on the curious case of “Baby” Wadsworth (David Manzy), a grown man developmentally arrested at nine months, recently widowed social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) suspects criminal negligence. As her interest grows increasingly personal, a war of wills develops between Ann and the zealously protective Wadsworth women, who will stop at nothing to keep their family together.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

BLOODY MOON (1981) Blu-ray Review



Bloody Moon (1981) d. Jess Franco (Germany)

Gorgeous Angela (Olivia Pascal) joins her comely group of lasses at a remote spa/language school (nice combo, that) in Spain, unaware that the exotic locale was the site of a brutal murder five years prior. Wouldn’t you know it, the offending party, Miguel (Alexander Waechter), has just been released from a mental institution into the care of his sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff), the smokin’ hot chiquita with whom he previously shared an incestuous relationship. But wait, there's more! Further complicating matters is the fact that Manuela runs the school with the handsome Alvaro (Christopher Brugger), but is openly hated by her crippled countess aunt (Maria Rubio) who holds the purse strings. Needless to say, when pretty girls start turning up dead, there are suspects aplenty, including students, teachers, studly tennis instructors (Peter Execoustos), and drooling mongoloid red herrings.


DEADLY EYES (1982) Blu-ray Review



Deadly Eyes (aka Night Eyes) (1982) d. Robert Clouse (Canada)

Based on James Herbert’s classic novel Rats (and an earlier script from Lonon Smith), this hilariously earnest yet surprisingly bloody “B” ratfestation flick falls somewhere between the real-life rodent hordes of Willard and the costumed creepers of The Killer Shrews. Enter the Dragon director Clouse keeps the action moving along at a lively pace, perhaps to distract from the not-quite-convincing dachshunds-in-rats-clothing (no kidding) and the close-ups of snarling hand puppets.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981) Blu-ray Review



Bloody Birthday (1981) d. Ed Hunt (USA)

Gun-for-hire Hunt, who scripted alongside Barry Pearson, whipped up this fanciful tale of three children born during a solar eclipse on June 9, 1970, in the sleepy burg of Meadowvale, CA. Trouble is, at least according to our astrology-loving heroine Joyce (Lori Lethin), the sun and moon were also in the path of Saturn (which governs human emotions), leaving our diminutive trio devoid of any sense of morality. Now, just before their shared 10th birthday, they’ve begun strangling, shooting, and shoveling amorous teens in vans and cemeteries and bumping off town elders one by one. (Wait, why’d they wait until now to exhibit murderous tendencies? Oh, never mind.)


Monday, July 7, 2014

CHRYSALIS (2014) movie review



Chrysalis (2014) d. John Klein (USA)

In 2038, young couple Joshua (Cole Simon) and Penelope (Sara Gorsky) make their way across the blasted landscape of a dying world, scavenging and surviving whilst avoiding the infected mutants that now sit atop the food chain. As winter falls hard, the pair encounters another human survivor, Abira (Tanya Thai McBride), who explains that she is en route to rendezvous with another, larger group. As two becomes three, jealousies and conflicts arise, while their cannibalistic foes grow ever hungrier . . . and nearer.


VIDEO NASTIES: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE (2010) DVD Review



Equal parts cautionary tale and gorehound primer, this "must-have" three-disc release from Severin (originally released in the UK by Nucleus Films) delivers a one-stop shop for everything relating to the UK’s shameful period of censorship in the early 1980s, where 72 horror and exploitation film titles were deemed capable of debauching the free-thinking minds of anyone who might encounter them. These were the “Video Nasties.”


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Interview with GODZILLA: BATTLE ROYALE writer/director Billy Dubose!!



We’ve seen Godzilla fever sweeping the world in the wake of the 2014 Legendary Pictures effort, but for some, that burning love for oversized irradiated lizards and their ilk has been a lifelong passion.  Case in point: Billy Dubose, who has taken his fandom to a skyscraper-stomping new level. The 31-year-old native of Elmhurst, IL, is the writer, director, producer, editor, star, and driving force behind what has to be one of the most ambitious kaiju fan films of the 21st century, Godzilla: Battle Royale.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fool's Views (6/16 – 6/22)


"If you could only see what I've seen with your eyes...."

Hello, fellow friends and fiends,

As Faithful Readers might recall, the last FV entry (covering a full four weeks) was still a fairly dry season. Well, the juice got loose over the following seven days, as the Doc burned through nearly a full score of flicks, with Severin’s recent release of The Definitive Video Nasty Guide (review coming soon) kicking off a weekend-long quest to “do the Nasty,” knocking out 9 of the remaining 10 (leaving only Jess Franco’s Women Behind Bars yet to be seen).

In the process, I also knocked out a trio of Naziploitation “classicks,” which in turn led to a few more filthy Fuhrer flicks in the week that followed. I was further blessed to witness a classic of Polish cinema – on the big screen, no less – and a couple of new offerings from regular festival faves Alex de la Iglesia and Ti West; one good, one…well, less good.

That’s what I call coming back from a slump with a vengeance! As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!


MOTHER JOAN OF THE ANGELS (1961) movie review



Mother Joan of the Angels (1961) d. Jerzy Kawalerowicz (Poland)

When a tormented, self-doubting priest (Mieczyslaw Voit) is sent to a small Polish country convent suspected of being under Satan’s sway, he encounters a myriad of demons both personal and external. Shot in exquisitely sharp black-and-white, this is not your standard exploitation programmer, but rather a deeply ambiguous examination of faith and sin, with Lucyna Winnicka’s supposedly possessed titular Mother Superior the key to salvation or damnation.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

LAKE PLACID (1999) Blu-ray Review



Lake Placid (1999) d. Steve Miner (USA)

Ah, Black Lake, Maine, where women are shrill, heroes are dull, asses are smart, and the sailor-swearing incarnation of Betty White is born. Another high-profile 1999 Fox horror effort that failed to find an audience (see: Ravenous), TV heavyweight David E. Kelley’s (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) quip-laden dialogue must have looked great on the page, but without several seasons to flesh them out, his quirky, snarky characters barely register as human beings.


BEYOND THE GRAVE (2010) movie review



Beyond the Grave (aka Portos dos Mortos) (2010) d. Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro (Brazil)

Set in “Another Time, Another Place,” we are introduced to a mysterious black-suited, bespectacled, two-fisted ex-cop known only as “The Officer” (Rafael Tombini) who crosses paths with a young teenaged couple, a sardonic youth named Shooter (Ricardo Seffner) and his mute female companion Nina (Amanda Lerias). We learn that Officer is in pursuit of The Dark Rider, a body-jumping demon straight out of Fallen, The Other Side, or The Hidden (minus the slimy alien worm) that possesses each mortal vehicle until it expires and then bounces to the next and nearest. Continuing in this fashion, the Rider, the Ultimate Evil, is immortal and it falls to our triumvirate of antiheroes to somehow take him out.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

WITCHING & BITCHING (2013) movie review



Witching & Bitching (aka Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi) (2013) d. Alex de la Iglesia (Spain)

Next to Pedro Almodovar, Spain’s most celebrated modern cinematic provocateur is the fearlessly inventive Iglesia, who does not disappoint with his latest exercise in energetic excess, a tale of crooks, crones, and ancient crockeries, er, prophecies.


DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE SS SPECIAL SECTION (1976) DVD Review



Deported Women of the SS Special Section (1976) d. Rino di Silvestri (Italy)

Relative newcomers to the Nazisploitation subgenre (such as myself) might be unfamiliar with this wicked little trifle, but according to those in the know, it stands as one of the more successfully rendered entries in the short-lived movement. Though never reaching the gleeful excess of Gestapo’s Last Orgy or Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, it robustly rattles through the requisite nasty bits (nudity, lesbianism, torture), and is elevated immeasurably by John Steiner’s scene-stealing turn as the twisted, tormented camp commandant, Herr Erner.