Thursday, December 20, 2018

Fool's Views (12/1 – 12/15)



Howdy, folks!

I know, it’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of another year, and even harder to believe that I’m actually only a few days behind schedule. It’s a doggone Christmas miracle, I tell ya.

Speaking of which, I kicked off the month with a solid smattering of holiday-themed horror ('tis the season, after all), as well as catching up on some buzzed-about recent genre efforts both older (Green Inferno) and new (Upgrade), classic (Kwaidan) and clueless (The Laughing Dead). I hope you dig the slay ride…

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

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

THE LAUGHING DEAD (1989) movie review



The Laughing Dead (1989) d. Somtow Sucharitkul (USA)

A faith-challenged priest (Tim Sullivan) leads a group of vacationers on an archeology tour in Mexico and stumbles into a legion of demons, both personal and literal. It seems our collared cruise director fathered a child out of wedlock a decade ago with a co-worker (a nun no less) and guess who has decided to join the excursion, foul-mouthed 10-year-old in tow? Further compounding the tour’s woes are a trio of Mayan priests who have unsavory designs for the recently reunited family, hoping to fulfill an ancient prophecy that includes, you know, the end of the world.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (1987) Blu-ray review



Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) d. Lee Harry (USA)

Despite sequel fever running rampant throughout the 1980s, the genesis of SNDN2 is surprisingly unconventional. Seems that producer Lawrence Appelbaum approached editor Lee Harry with the assignment of simply re-cutting the footage from the original 1984 flick and attempting to re-issue it under a different title, one without the stigma of the notorious ad campaign that led to protests by concerned parents and scathing reviews from top critics like Siskel and Ebert. Somehow or other, Harry convinced Appelbaum that it might be worthwhile shooting new footage and employ the original footage as flashback material, serving as a kind of “greatest hits” montage, which is exactly what happened. With this knowledge in mind, it’s easier to appreciate the fact that the first 40 minutes (yes, OVER HALF THE ACTUAL RUNNING TIME, not counting the ultra-slow ending credits) are comprised of pre-existing material which you more than likely already watched this holiday season.


CHRISTMAS BLOOD (2017) DVD review



Christmas Blood (aka Juleblod) (2017) d. Reinert Kiil (Norway) (104 min)

Norse attempt at an American slasher flick delivers plenty of splash without substance, giving us a seemingly immortal Santa-clad slayer who has been working his way through a literal “Naughty” list of victims (who have all committed some crime or another, although he’s not particularly choosy when it comes to collateral damage). After being shot, captured, and resurrected, he escapes from the mental facility (natch) and picks up where he left off, heading to a remote abode where a half-dozen attractive and extremely diverse females (it’s like a United Nations bruncheon) have gathered to cheer up their pal whose mum recently passed. (Yes, mum was on the Naughty list.)


Monday, December 17, 2018

THE GREEN INFERNO (2013) movie review



The Green Inferno (2013) d. Eli Roth (USA)

Eager to “do something worthwhile,” college freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo) joins an on-campus activist organization led by the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Despite protestations from her politico dad (Richard Burgi) and apathetic roommate (Sky Ferreria), she travels with the group to the Peruvian Amazon to prevent the decimation of the rainforest and the extermination of the indigenous Yajes tribe by money-grubbing developers. Their efforts are seemingly successful, but on the return home their small aircraft suffers a mechanical failure; the ensuing crash leaves several dead and wounded. Worse yet, they are stranded among a particularly nasty group of natives who are hungry for justice and, well, just hungry….


Friday, December 14, 2018

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984) Blu-ray review



Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) d. Charles E. Sellier, Jr. (USA)

After his parents are murdered by crook in a St. Nick outfit, young tormented Billy (Danny Wagner) is sent with his infant brother Ricky to stay at an orphanage where he is mercilessly abused by our resident Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). After growing to adulthood, Billy (now played by Robert Brian Wilson) lands a gig at the local toy store which works out fine until he’s pressed into wearing an all-too-familiar red suit and white beard to entertain the kiddies. Predictably, this pushes him over the edge, leading to a murderous Christmas Eve rampage dressed as Santa, claiming “naughty” victims right and left.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING (2018) DVD review



All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018) d. David Ian McKendry / Rebekah McKendry (USA)

While several horror anthologies have incorporated a single Christmastime story (1945’s Dead of Night, 1972’s Tales from the Crypt, to mention some of the classics) into the mix, there are precious few compendiums whose energies are directed exclusively toward celebrating the Santa season. (In fact, until 2015’s A Christmas Horror Story, there were exactly zero.) But the husband-and-wife team of David Ian and Rebekah McKendry (the latter being a longtime Fangoria alum, horror journalist, and Shock Waves podcaster) have arrived just in time to fill the shocking stockings and change the stats STAT with their quintet of deadly and droll hors d’ouevres, all present-ed within a snappy wrapping, er, wraparound.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

11/19 – 11/30 (Part 2 of 2) (Last of the Turkey!)



Howdy, folks!

Sorry, got a little distracted there in the real world with zero time to scribble or watch anything over the past couple weeks as I was prepping for and completing the final phase of my Suited Instructor certification with IMPACT Chicago, a extraordinary and empowering women’s self-defense program that is definitely worth your time and energy, whether you are male, female, or non-binary-identifying. Check them out at Impact Chicago.com (or wherever your closest IMPACT chapter is located). http://www.impactselfdefense.org/

With that tidy bit of justifying out of the way, here are the remaining Views for November, which included the glorious gorge-fest that is the Kitley’s Krypt Turkey Day Celebration, now in its 16th year. (I’ve been there since Jon started letting other people join the “fun” in 2005.) We also snuck in a couple more Tom Cruise vehicles along the way, bringing our total for the year to 10 (with more on deck before the clock runs out). And, in keeping with the November Turkey Challenge, we decided to throw a couple Civilians birds on the platter as well. (Hey, when the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars Christmas Special rolls around, you kinda gotta honor that.)

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

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fool's Views (11/19 – 11/30) (Part 1 of 2)



OMG, so fullllllllll.

Well, that was a month to remember… or maybe one to forget. I completed my November Turkey Challenge right in the nick of time, wrapping up with a grand total of 30 Gobblers, 17 of which were first-time views, and while I can definitely say that “challenge” was the right word for it at times, it was immensely rewarding to explore strange new worlds of awfulness and bold new flavors of cheese. Similarly, it was interesting to settle in, thinking that a Turkey was in order and discovering instead that the film in question really didn’t qualify, being either too competently made (Murderlust), too icky (Entrails of a Virgin), or just not enough fun to recommend to anyone else (Cabin Fever remake). There is foul and there is fowl, and never the twain shall meet.

Due to the sheer volume of views, I’ll be breaking this period into two installments, wrapping things up with the Kitley’s Krypt Turkey Day coverage in the post to follow, so stay tuned!

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

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

CANDYMAN (1992) Blu-ray review



Candyman (1992) d. Bernard Rose (USA)

Chicago grad student Helen (Virginia Madsen), working on her “urban legends” thesis, uncovers the tale of Daniel Robitaille aka Candyman, a wrongfully murdered black artist with a hook for a hand, who appears Bloody Mary-style if you say his name in a mirror five times. Of course, the inquisitive intellectual tries it out for herself, only to find that the avenging spirit is all too real and that his hook is all too sharp. Several gory slayings ensue, all of which seem to implicate our heroine, who slips further and further into madness.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS (1961) Full Script and Movie Review



The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) d. Coleman Francis (USA)(54 min)

Tor Johnson, the ex-wrestler who attained everlasting infamy in several Ed Wood features, is the nominal “star” of this hilariously misguided cinematic achievement. “Noted scientist” Joseph Javorsky (Johnson) is ambushed while carrying atomic secrets during a meet-up and chased onto an atomic testing ground. (Oh, sweet irony.) Before you can say Big Bang Boom, the hulking bald-headed brainiac is transformed into a hulking bald-headed maniac with a radiation-scarred visage and a pronounced hindrance in communication skills. Helpless women are kidnapped, kids are chased with sticks and a cuddly bunny bounces in for the greatest closing shot on celluloid.



Friday, November 23, 2018

Fool's Views (11/13 - 11/18) (with MORE Turkey!)


"You're going to watch THAT....?"

Happy Turkey Day, my friends!

Yes, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, which means I’m getting ready to head west to Aurora (yes, the “Chicago suburb” made famous in Wayne’s World) to partake in my 14th consecutive celebration of the best of the worst at Kitley's Krypt, amidst some of the finest people with the most questionable judgment. So, before we dive into the cinematic stuffing face-first, figured we should recap last week because oh, my, my, what a week it was. It was a glorious combo of good, bad, and ugly, capped by Jason Coffman’s 10-film gorgefest known as the Tomorrow Romance Halloween Marathon. (I only made it through six before tapping out, but I was happy to have been there longer than my schedule had ever allowed me before. Those half-dozen are designated with a (*).

Along with that, we tackled a quartet of Boris Karloff flicks (his final four, in fact), along with an additional Soderbergh and Argento flick each, taking our totals to six and four for the year, respectively.

Enough of my yakking – time to get on the road! Gobble gobble!

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

THE BORIS KARLOFF COLLECTION (2018) DVD review




Before we dive into the reviews proper, we pause now for a little background information, courtesy of Phil Hardy’s Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction:

“Just before his death in 1969, Karloff acted in scenes for four films by Mexican producer Enrique Vergara. According to Jack Hill, the production circumstances of these pictures were disastrous. Karloff had rejected the four scripts sent to him by Vergara, and Hill, who shared the services of Karloff’s lawyer, was asked to rewrite them. Karloff then agreed to do them provided all scenes involving him would be shot in Hollywood because it was exceedingly painful for him to move about. The scenes were shot [by Hill] in 1968. Shortly afterwards, Karloff died, but so did Vergara.

“All the remaining scenes were shot later in Mexico without Hill’s knowledge and the finished products, released in 1971, bore little relation to the scripts Hill had used to do the Karloff scenes. Apparently American International tried to buy the shots with Karloff in order to make other films with them, but the legal and copyright problems due to Vergara’s death made this impracticable. This Mexican episode put a sad end on Karloff’s long and distinguished career. Some credits list Juan Ibañez as being responsible for the scenes added after Karloff’s death, but since many of these credits contain pseudonyms, it may be an injustice to include his name as director.”

So, there you go.

"That was very well said, young man..."

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

BLACKENSTEIN (1973) Blu-ray review



Blackenstein (1973) d. William A. Levey (USA)

Considered by many to be the nadir of blaxploitation horror, Levey’s clunker actually gets off to a (relatively) decent start, with injured Vietnam veteran Eddie (Joe DeSue) returning Stateside minus arms and legs due to a land mine close encounter. His science-loving sweetheart Dr. Winnifred Walker (Ivory Stone) remembers her old teacher Dr. Stein’s (John Hart) groundbreaking experiments in skin grafting and before you can say, “Seda-give???” the pair have soldier boy on the gurney menu served up with a slice of limb-burger cheese.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

PHENOMENA (1985) Blu-ray review



Phenomena (1985) d. Dario Argento (Italy) (116 min)

Perhaps the only “insect detective” movie out there on the shelves, featuring a very young Jennifer Connelly (released one year before Labyrinth) as the daughter of a famous American movie star sent away to study at an exclusive Swiss girl’s academy, whose students just happen to be falling victim to a homicidal killer. But as this is an Argento movie, things are hardly what they seem.


Monday, November 19, 2018

HOUSEWIFE (2017 ) DVD review



Housewife (2017) d. Can Evrenol (Turkey) (82 min)

Two decades after her mother brutally killed her sister Hazel and father (an amazingly stylish pre-credits sequence), Holly (Clementine Poidatz) can still find no peace in her life and is increasingly terrified at the notion of starting a family of her own. She numbly endures lovemaking with her husband Timucin (Ali Aksoz) and has to urinate in sinks and tubs due to the trauma incurred by her sister’s toilet-related murder. When her former friend and lover Valery (Alicia Kapudag) returns, now a “family” member of the mysterious cult Umbrella of Love and Mind (ULM), Holly finds herself falling into a hallucinogenic realm where past and present crosscut and where charismatic leader Bruce O’Hara (David Sakurai) holds sway over her future.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

THE UNNAMABLE (1988) Blu-ray review



The Unnamable (1988) d. Jean-Paul Oulette (USA) (88 min)

Adapted from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, writer/producer/director Oulette offers a slight variation on the standard “monster in the old haunted house” saga, mostly by virtue of its source material. Set at our author’s favorite bastion of higher learning, Miskatonic University, students Joel (Mark Parra), Randolph Carter (Mark Kinsey Stephenson), and Howard Damon (Charles Klausmeyer aka Charles King) discuss the legend of the strange goings-on at the residence of suspected warlock Joshua Winthrop (Delbert Spain). It seems Carter’s ancestor was the priest who discovered Winthrop’s body with his heart torn out by a strange, “unnamable” creature whose image is supposedly burned into the glass of the attic window.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fool's Views (11/1 - 11/12) (with Turkey!)


Who's hungry?

Welcome back, everyone!

Usually, my November reports start off with the obligatory, “After the madness that was October…” but this year actually wasn’t too bad. Maybe I’m finally starting to get the hang of this Scare-A-Thon thing after nearly a decade? Thanks to everyone for their incredible support – financial and emotional – and looking forward to next year already.

Perhaps due to the lack of burnout or maybe it was just the caliber of Blu-ray and DVD screeners coming my way, but I felt inspired to attempt a new Challenge for the month. As longtime readers know, November has been the occasion for the watching of many a Turkey, particularly on the Friday following Thanksgiving aka Turkey Day at Kitley’s Krypt, which will be celebrating its 16th annual outing this year and I hear the line-up is a doozy. Back in the days of the IMDb horror message boards (R.I.P.), there used to be something called the Annual Turkey Hunt, where participants watched as many bad horror flicks (with a 4.0 rating or lower) as possible, with additional points for trifectas (watching three or more films from the same low-grade director).

I have not done the Hunt for years, due to the fact that the 4.0 rating scale is no longer a reliable indicator for finding a true Turkey. For me, there is still an intrinsic “quality” rating scale based on actual moviemaking competence, which does not have a direct correlation to the inherent “awesomeness” that a film due to its INcompetence. The Giant Claw (4.3) and Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (4.2) are not “good” movies by any stretch, but they are AWESOME Turkeys. So, rather than agonizing through truly bad (i.e. boring) flicks, I’m electing to enjoy a month of “so bad its good” material, as well as the usual assortment of “legit” Horror and Civilian stuff as well. Hope you dig.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

SUSPIRIA (2018) movie review



Suspiria (2018) d. Luca Guadagnino (Italy/USA) (152 min.)

When I heard that Dario Argento’s masterpiece concerning a coven of witches holding sway over an acclaimed German dance academy was being remade, I was not overly offended due to the fact that the 1977 film is so very much an exercise in style and WTF-ery. Like the ballet school at its center, the movie’s framework is but a front, an opportunity to let imagination run wild and not concern oneself with plot or character so much as the next eye-popping set-piece waiting in the wings. No one was going to try to out-Argento Argento, so I was looking forward to seeing what the inherent black magic plotline might entail.


Friday, November 2, 2018

2018 SCARE-A-THON FINAL RESULTS!!!



And that, friends and fiends, brings us to the end of yet another OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE and Scare-A-Thon 2018!

As always, the Challenge itself is to watch (at least) 31 fright flicks over the course of those glorious 31 days that make up the month of October, 16 of which must be first time views. I am happy to report that we have accomplished that lofty goal and that along the way, thanks to the generous hearts and minds of fans like you, over $2000 has been raised for Resilience (formerly Rape Victim Advocates) with additional funds still coming in. (The Scare-A-Thon 2018 fundraising site will remain open for another week, so if you are so inclined…)

https://resilience.salsalabs.org/supportresilience/p/scareathon/index.html

My thanks to everyone who participated in some way, whether it be reading the reviews, making a contribution, watching alongside, or just stopping by to chat here or on Facebook. It makes the long nights go by so much easier knowing that one’s efforts are noticed and appreciated. Hope you have found a few new suggestions for future movie nights along the way.

Below are the 31 “official” features viewed (with links to the full-length reviews), as well as 14 additional titles receiving the capsule treatment. (Only so many hours in the day!) Beyond that, there are a bevy of additional factoids you might get a kick out of… or at least feel better about your own OCD tendencies.

Enjoy!

Challenge Stats:
Total Movies Watched: 45 films
First Time Views: 17
Scare-A-Thon Pledges/Donations Total: $2,213.68

Thursday, November 1, 2018

HALLOWEEN (2018) movie review



Halloween (2018) d. David Gordon Green (USA) (106 min)

Truth be told, I have never been a huge fan of the Halloween franchise. Like most horror fans (and cinephiles in general), I hold the original in high esteem both for its skillful execution on a minimal budget and its lasting effectiveness despite an endless stream of imitators, but I never really bought into the “Strode-Myers-Lloyd-Thorn Family Curse” storyline introduced in Halloween II and extrapolated over another three decades. The key to Halloween ’78 was its brilliant combination of the simple and the mythic, the commonplace and the unimaginable, with a spritz of supernatural flavoring its final moments.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

TALES FROM THE HOOD (1995) Blu-ray review



Tales from the Hood (1995) d. Rusty Cundieff (USA) (98 min)

Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De’aundre Bonds), and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe, Jr.) sneak into the local funeral parlor, seeking to recover a rumored drug stash held by “professional and courteous” mortician Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III). Before the transaction takes place, however, Simms insists on leading the trio on a tour of the establishment, getting the stories straight from the corpses’ mouths.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

THE CHANGELING (1980) Blu-ray review



The Changeling (1980) d. Peter Medak (Canada) (107 min)

This stellar haunted house tale usually takes a back seat to the big-budget envisioning of Stephen King’s The Shining, released the same year. But in many ways, Hungarian director Medak’s smaller film, loaded with creepy atmosphere and tightly fashioned suspense sequences, surpasses any axe-swinging histrionics that Stanley Kubrick and Co. dish out.


Monday, October 29, 2018

MANDY (2018) Blu-ray review



Mandy (2018) d. Panos Cosmatos (USA) (121 min)

Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, everyone seems to be going crazy for this art-house revenge flick from the son of George P. Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part II, Tombstone) starring Nicolas Cage, and while I recognize there is plenty to admire, the overindulgent tone left a wicked aftertaste in my mouth both during and afterwards. With a pulsing, oversaturated color palette and (deliberately) lugubrious pacing, we are introduced to a couple (Cage, Andrea Riseborough) living a blissful existence in the backwoods (he’s a logger, she’s an artist) until a strange traveling cult-in-a-camper led by a long-haired Richard Lynch-looking gent named Jeremiah (an excellent Linus Roache) decides to kidnap Mandy with the help of their motorcycle-riding, escaped-from-the-Hellraiser-franchise Cenobites.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

BELL FROM HELL (1973) DVD review



Bell from Hell (aka La Campana del Infierno) (1973) d. Claudio Guerin Hill (Spain)

In an era when Spain’s genre output consisted primarily of Paul Naschy’s hirsute efforts and Jess Franco’s loopy zoom lenses, this atmospheric psychological horror offering from Claudio Guerin Hill (with uncredited assistance from Juan Antonio Bardem – more on that in a second) provides a splash of fresh blood. A dark and twisted tale of revenge and madness whose bleak tone never lets up, Hill and screenwriter Santiago Moncada (All the Colors of the Dark, Hatchet for the Honeymoon) also work in a vivid condemnation of the petty bourgeois during the last years of the Franco regime.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

THE DEVIL LIVES HERE (2015) Blu-ray review



The Devil Lives Here (2015) d. Rodrigo Gasparini / Dante Vescio (Brazil) (80 min)

Three teens head off into the countryside to meet up with their friend Apolo at his family’s remote honeybee farm for a little R&R... and perhaps a little occult raising of the dead. You see, every 9 months, as the legend goes, the spirit of a long-dead slave named Bento threatens to slip through the veil, and Apolo’s trusty service hand – who used to perform rites to keep the unquiet spirit at rest – has recently passed away. The kids treat the occasion as an opportunity to party and get frisky (because this is a horror movie), but as the shadows grow long, spooky things start to spin into reality with not only Bento’s restless spirit making its presence known but that of the sadistic Honey Baron (Ivo Muller) who lorded over Bento’s family in life.


Friday, October 26, 2018

[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE (2014) Blu-ray review



[Rec] 4: Apocalypse (2014) d. Jaume Balaguero (Spain) (95 min)

Angela (Manuela Velasco), our charming heroine reporter from the initial outbreak documented in [Rec]  (and who also put in a surprise final-reel appearance in its 2009 sequel), is rescued from the besieged apartment block by officer Guzman (Paco Manzanedo) whereupon both are quarantined aboard a repurposed oil tanker in order to contain the demonic virus. More importantly, an antivirus has been developed and is ready for testing, but when the test subject (an infected monkey) escapes its cage and bites the crew’s cook, the stage is set for yet another flurry of hyper-furious flesh-munching zombies decimating everything in sight.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

ESTIGMA (aka STIGMA) (1980) Blu-ray review



Estigma (aka Stigma) (1980) d. Jose Larraz (Italy/Spain) (86 min)

Angry young man Sebastian (Christian Borremeo) has powers and, as such, he has problems. Whenever he gets angry at people, tragedy befalls them and, well, being an angry young man, he is surrounded by a lot of tragedy. Are these all coincidences or is he actually causing these deaths? If the latter, is there any way he can control his emotions so that he doesn’t murder everyone he comes in contact with, knowing they will eventually disappoint him?