Wednesday, March 20, 2019

SKINNER (1993) Blu-ray review



Skinner (1993) d. Ivan Nagy (USA) (88 min)

“He’ll get under your skin!” So goes the tagline for this twisted little slice of serial killer madness, with an Ed Gein-inspired drifter Dennis Skinner (Ted Raimi) moving into the spare room of lonely young housewife Kerry (Ricki Lake) and her boorish truck driver husband Geoff (David Warshofsky). Dennis spends his days stalking the streets of L.A., picking up streetwalkers and separating them from their hides (visualized in graphic fashion by the goremeisters at KNB) and nights endearing himself to the neglected lady of the house. But unbeknownst to anyone except the manager of the sleazy hotel across town (David Schiff), a mysterious, trenchcoat-wearing blonde named Heidi (Traci Lords) has her eye on the freaky bladeslinger, her horribly scarred body a witness to his savagery and the whetstone for her revenge.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

KOLOBOS (1999) Blu-ray review



Kolobos (1999) d. Daniel Liatowitsch / David Todd Ocvirk (USA) (87 min)

An advertisement seeking individuals to participate in an “groundbreaking experimental film project,” one that involves living in a secluded mountain lodge together under constant observation via omnipresent videocameras, attracts a quintet of varied and attractive participants: troubled artist Kyra (Amy Weber), unfunny comic Tom (Donny Terranova), aspiring actress Erica (Nichole Pelerine), clean-cut college co-ed Gary (John Fairlie), and extroverted fast food worker Tina (Promise LaMarco). With their social dynamics primed to be exploited, things take a nasty turn when all the exits and escapes are sealed and an array of mechanical boobytraps make their lethal presence known. To make matters worse, a self-torturing sadist (Ilia Volok) dubbed “Faceless” has incorporated himself into the mix, seeking to hasten their collective demise.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

THE HOUSE (aka HUSET) 2016 DVD review



The House (aka Huset) (2016) d. Reinert Kiil (Norway) (88 min)

Set during WWII, two German soldiers, Nazi officer Kreiner (Mats Reinhardt) and German soldier Fleiss (Frederik von Lüttichau), are escorting a Norwegian prisoner (Sondre Krogtoft Larsen) back to base. But as their compass falters, maps conflict, and the sun sets in the south, it quickly becomes apparent that sinister forces are at work. With supplies running low and desperate from the cold, they stumble across an empty farmhouse near the forest. They take shelter (after replacing the Norwegian flag flying outside with the Swastika, naturally) and encounter warm stew bubbling on the stove and all creature comforts in place – but no visible inhabitants. However, there are those noises coming from upstairs, behind the door with the strange symbols….


Friday, March 15, 2019

JACK THE RIPPER (1959) Blu-ray review



Jack the Ripper (1959) d. Robert S. Baker / Monty Berman (UK) (81 min)

While other films had previously been produced based on the notorious Whitechapel slayings of 1888, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger (1927), this feature from producing/directing team Baker and Berman (and distributed in the US by legendary showman Joseph E. Levine) was the first to call the Ripper by name in its story (and title, for that matter). It also represents the first time the iconic imagery of a caped figure with top hat roaming the London streets had been seen on screen (though it had been referenced in literature). Despite the talents of legendary scribe Jimmy Sangster (The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula) and being as effective as many of Hammer’s post-Psycho black-and-white thrillers of the early 1960s, it failed to resonate with audiences on its initial release and slipped into relative obscurity.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

SNOWFLAKE (2017) Blu-ray review



Snowflake (2017) d. Adolfo K. Kolmerer / William James (Germany) (121 min)

Set in a near-future Berlin, the murders of two different families spark a collision course of revenge, with a supremely varied ensemble of bizarre characters bumping each other off en route to a final confrontation. However, the twist-within-a-twist is that their ongoing misadventures are apparently being conceived and manifested by a screenwriting hobbyist (Alexander Schubert) who has included himself in his own story. Now hunted by a pair of cold-hearted assassins (Erkan Acar, Reza Brojerdi) who have stumbled onto a partial draft of the script, it’s a race against time and fluttering keystrokes as to who will survive.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

LUCIFERINA (2018) Blu-ray review



Luciferina (2018) d. Gonzalo Calzada (Argentina) (111 min)

When a 19-year-old novice nun, Natalia (Sofia del Tuffo), reluctantly returns home to say goodbye to her dying father, family tensions reignite with her sister Angela (Malena Sanchez), as well as Angela’s violent boyfriend Mauro (Francisco Donovan). During her visit, Angela’s friends decide to travel into the jungle to meet up with a shaman who has distilled the liquid of a mystical healing (and potentially hallucinogenic/euphoric) plant. But instead of the ultimate high, they encounter terrifying visions, brutal slayings, and the sisters’ mysterious dark past rising up to haunt them.


Monday, March 11, 2019

THE DEADLY MANTIS (1957) Blu-ray review



The Deadly Mantis (1957) d. Nathan Juran (USA) (79 min)

After our titular prehistoric big bug is released from an iceberg in the Arctic Circle by an earthquake, it begins a southerly wave of destruction, eventually climbing up the Washington Monument and hiding out in New York’s Holland Tunnel. Released during the height of gargantuan screen mayhem, the menacing mantis murders everything in its path while military man Joe Parkman (Craig Stevens, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and paleontologist Ned Jackson (William Hopper, 20 Million Miles to Earth) work feverishly to stop the beastly insect, with beautiful photojournalist Marge Blaine (Alix Talton) livening up the scenery.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

THE CRAFT (1996) Blu-ray review



The Craft (1996) d. Andrew Fleming (USA) (101 min)

When new student Sarah (Robin Tunney) falls in with a trio of “bad girls” (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True), they are soon dabbling in the dark arts with squealing abandon. Courtesy of a relatively chintzy ritual, the feminine foursome conjure “Manon, the Spirit of All Things” to allay their personal hardships (poverty, racism, romance, physical scars). At first, everything seems rosy as the supernatural forces work in their favor. However, the desires to sample blacker magic create a rift with Sarah’s “natural witch” and the breezy movie turns marginally malevolent as the conflict escalates.


Friday, March 8, 2019

Fool's Views (2/15 - 2/28)


Forget Letterboxd - I've got a system of my own....

Greetings!

The second half of February yielded a wealth of fright flicks for review from the good folks at Severin Films, Arrow Video, and Shout! Factory, as well as an unexpected plunge into the De Palma pool. (We also reactivated our Netflix account for a brief spell in order to enjoy a few exclusives, which you’ll see more evidence of in next month’s installment.)

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

Enjoy!

Friday, March 1, 2019

INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS (1972) Blu-ray review



Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972) d. Ed Adlum (USA) (77 min)

After a local townsperson staggers into a Jefferson Valley bar gushing blood from every orifice before dropping dead, “renowned pathologist” Professor Roy Anderson (Norman Kelley) and his assistant Don Tucker (Bruce Detrick) are shocked to discover that the blood cells themselves are reproducing at a greatly accelerated rate. Along with Anderson’s daughter (Tanna Hunter), who also happens to be Don’s Best Girl, and police chief Frank Spano (Frank Iovieno), our heroes discover that a cult of druids have moved into one of their neighbors’ farmhouses with a nefarious plot to raise their beloved Queen Onhorrid from the dead.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

WILLARD (2003) Blu-ray review



Willard (2003) d. Glen Morgan (USA) (100 min)

Trapped in a dead-end job (his father’s former business stolen away by his boss, played with tyrannical glee by R. Lee Ermey) with no friends and no future, Willard’s (Crispin Glover) life seems hopeless until he discovers a horde of rats dwelling in the basement of his ailing mother’s cavernous house. The social misfit finds his tribe amongst the furry rodents, and soon is plotting wreak vengeance on all those who have made his life a living hell.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fool's Views (2/1 – 2/14)


I got your Blue Valentine RIGHT HERE....

Howdy, troops!

Well, it may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s been a fruitful time for the flickers. For the first half of February, with the Oscar hopefuls in the rearview, I was able to focus my attentions on the myriad of new blu-ray releases hitting the virtual shelves, as well as catching up with a number of random civilian flicks that had escaped my attention. (And, as you’ll see, sometimes those that had escaped others’ attentions.)

Additionally, I ventured up to Oshkosh, WI, to engage in a little Share the Scare (or Franchise Freak-out, as it turned out) with my sanguinary siblings John, Coye, Egan, and Ashley. The last time I’d indulged in this particular brand of madness was three years back when we did the entire Hellraiser series (which numbered 9 at the time); this time was a much easier ride since we were only tackling the quartet of Species features. Gotta say, there are few things more enjoyable in the world than feasting on delectable foodstuffs with good friends while the fright flicks unspool before our wondering peepers.

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

Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2019

THE SPECIES FRANCHISE (1995-2007)



Despite mixed to negative critical reviews, Species became a box office smash in the summer of 1995, grossing $113 million worldwide and ultimately leading to a theatrical sequel (Species II) as well as two direct-to-video sequels. Dennis Feldman wrote the script on spec after his initial treatment, "The Message," which approached the concept as a police procedural, attracted no attention from the studios. The extraterrestrial design was eventually assigned to H. R. Giger, responsible for the distinctive look of the Alien franchise, and his vision was brought to cinematic life through practical models designed by collaborator Steve Johnson and computer-generated imagery by Richard Edlund’s Boss Film Studios. But it was the high concept of “sexy, oft-naked female alien” that propelled the movie and its sequels, proving exploitation-film fundamentals just as reliable as ever.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

NEXT OF KIN (1982) Blu-ray review



Next of Kin (1982) d. Tony Williams (Australia) (89 min)

Jacki Kerin stars as a lass Down Under who, upon reading her recently deceased mother’s diary, discovers numerous dark secrets about the family nursing home. In addition to a glowing electronic score by Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream), Gary Hansen’s elegant cinematography, and the presence of John Jarratt (20 years before reaching genre-icon status with Wolf Creek), the slow-burn twists and turns of Michael Heath and director Williams’ script deliver the goods, effectively coupled with memorable screen imagery and flowing Steadicam magic. (The final reel is packed with moments of wonder, including an unforgettable overhead slow-motion hallway run, the diner’s tension-building sugar cube scene, and the wall-crashing, head-splashing, explosives-blasting climax.)


Saturday, February 23, 2019

THE VENGEANCE OF SHE (1968) Blu-ray review



The Vengeance of She (1968) d. Cliff Owen (UK) (101 min)

In this very loose sequel to the 1965 Ursula Andress vehicle (based upon H. Rider Haggard’s novel, itself first adapted for the screen in 1908 and remade at least a half-dozen times over the course of the century), a beautiful blonde amnesiac named Carol (Olga Schoberova, rechristened Olinka Berova by Hammer execs) is drawn toward the east, plagued by hallucinatory voices calling her “Ayesha,” better known as She Who Must Be Obeyed. After an encounter with a lascivious lorry driver, she arrives on the shores of Monte Carlo where, aboard the yacht of a wastrel millionaire, she meets up with Dr. Philip Smith (Edward Judd). Fascinated by the bikinied beauty’s tale, Smith travels to Africa with Carol, eventually arriving at the lost city of Kuma where she is greeted as the reincarnation of King Killikrates’ (John Richardson) beloved Queen. The lovestruck monarch, overjoyed by this apparent twist of destiny, encourages Ayesha to walk through the blue flame of immortality and stay with him forever, much to the dismay of Dr. Smith who smells a rat in the form of high priest Men-Hari (Derek Godfrey).


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

HORROR EXPRESS (1972) Blu-ray review



Horror Express (1972) d. Eugenio Martín (UK/Spain) (84 min)

Renowned anthropologist Prof. Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) boards the Trans-Siberian Express in China with a crate containing the frozen remains of a primitive humanoid which he believes to be the missing link in human evolution. The truth, however, proves to be far more complex, as the not-dead-yet cargo begins to exert its will over the passengers, sucking their brains dry and gaining their knowledge, leaving a trail of lifeless, white-eyed husks in its wake! That’s only the tip of the proverbial Iceberg of Weirdness (there is a proverb about that, right?) as Saxton and fellow passengers Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing), Countess Petrovska (Silvia Tortosa), Inspector Mirov (Julio Peña), and the sexy, mysterious Natasha (Helga Liné) attempt to contain the prehistoric menace before they reach Moscow.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) Blu-ray Review



The Mole People (1956) d. Virgil W. Vogel (USA) (78 min)

John Agar (The Brain from Planet Arous), Hugh Beaumont (TV’s Leave It to Beaver) and Nestor Paiva (Tarantula) star as three archaeologists who come upon the Sumerians, an unusual race of albino beings (led by Alan Napier) who shun all forms of light and have mutant mole men as their slaves. Because of their “magical cylinders of fire” (i.e. flashlights), the explorers are treated like gods, with Agar’s character even finding time for romance with the tannest and prettiest of the Sumerians (Cynthia Patrick), until they try to liberate the unfortunate enslaved creatures from their oppressors. Can the archaeologists escape this hallowed mountain in Asia ... or will they be trapped forever in this strange underground world?


Monday, February 18, 2019

THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1943) Blu-ray review



The Return of the Vampire (1943) d. Lew Landers (USA) (70 min)

In 1918, Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi), a 200-year-old Hungarian Vampire, prowls the English countryside, feeding from the jugulars of the villagers. But Tesla’s reign of terror is interrupted when a pair of scientists, Lady Jane (Frieda Inescort) and Sir John Ainsley (Roland Varno), drives a spike through his heart. The undead Tesla remains safely entombed for two decades until the impact from a stray Nazi bomb accidentally releases him. Along with his werewolf servant Andreas (Matt Willis), the resurrected vampire plots vengeance on the family that put a halt to his nocturnal feasting, setting his sights on the young and beautiful Nicki Saunders (Nina Foch).


Saturday, February 16, 2019

ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK (1972) Blu-ray review



All the Colors of the Dark (1972) d. Sergio Martino (Italy) (95 min)

The gorgeous Edwige Fenech (Strip Nude for Your Killer) stars alongside George Hilton (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh) as a couple recovering not only from a car accident, but also from her resulting miscarriage. She’s also been having some rather strange dreams in which Ivan Rassimov (Eaten Alive) attacks her with a knife. When pills and psychiatrists fail to resolve the nightmares, she is persuaded to go all New Age by lovely blonde Marina Malfatti (The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave), only to discover she’s been lured into a coven of lascivious Satanists.


Friday, February 15, 2019

AUDITION (1999) Blu-ray Review



Audition (1999) d. Takashi Miike (Japan/S. Korea) (115 min)

After seven years of mourning and encouraged by his teenage son to find a new wife, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) seeks the advice of a business colleague (Jun Kunimura) within the film company they work for. Together, they hit upon the perfect plan: Staging an audition for actresses, ostensibly for a new feature project, but in reality hoping to find the new ideal woman to share Aoyama’s life. While interviewing a series of candidates, the lonely widower becomes enchanted by Asami (Eihi Shiina), a quiet, 24-year-old woman, who is immediately responsive to his charms. The two seem to instantly fall for each other, but things take a very dark and twisted turn (or three) as we discover Asami isn't all she seems to be...


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

ALL THE COLORS OF GIALLO (2018) Blu-ray review



All the Colors of Giallo (2018) d. Federico Caddeo (USA) (89 min)

Direct from Severin Films comes this loving examination of the evolution of Giallo, Italian for ‘yellow,’ the color of the lurid pulp novels that inspired one of the most intense, extreme and influential genres in cinema. Brimming with exclusive interviews with directors Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino, Antonio Margheriti, and Umberto Lenzi, screenwriters Ernesto Gastaldi, Dardano Sarchetti, and Luciano Ercoli, and actors George Hilton, Daria Nicolodi, Barbara Bouchet, Edwige Fenech, and Nieves Navarro (aka Susan Scott), alongside all-new featurettes that take us even deeper into the genre’s origins, including that of the German “krimi,” the suspense films that predated and inspired their Italian successors.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

VALENTINE (2001) Blu-ray review



Valentine (2001) d. Jamie Blanks (USA) (96 min)

Four attractive young ladies are being stalked by the grown-up version of the awkward nerd they used to tease and torment in high school. Problem is, no one know what he looks like anymore, especially since when he exacts his sweet revenge, his visage is concealed by a Cupid’s mask. Broken hearts (and other mortal wounds) await! Blanks, following up his 1998 surprise smash hit, Urban Legend, unfortunately misses the bull’s-eye; while clearly emulating an ’80s slasher vibe, the murder and gore scenes have been trimmed down to a mere trickle and the strong and empowered female characters (yay!) conjured by the four, count ’em, four screenwriters (hmmmm) have no real spark or connection (boo!) and the men are even more nondescript (zzzzzz). Starring David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), Marley Shelton (Scream 4, Planet Terror), Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy) and Jessica Capshaw (aka Steven Spielberg’s stepdaughter).


Monday, February 11, 2019

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/31)


Someone shut that door, it's freezing in here....

Howdy, folks,

Kicking off the year in grand style, with an ample mix of horror and honors, atrocities and accolades from across the decades!

Other than catching up with a number of 2018 horror releases that I missed last year, Other areas of focus will include watching the films of the two Richards, Lester and Fleischer, as well as doing a little Charles Bronson retrospective. Also, realizing that in the past, my annual “projects” have been primarily male-dominated, one of my stated cinematic goals this year is to track down as many of the Best Actress Oscar winning performances that I have not previously seen as possible, a number that currently sits just north of 20 films. Should be a good year.

Without further blather, let’s dive in! Time’s a-wasting. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

SCREAMERS (1995) Blu-ray review



Screamers (1995) d. Christian Duguay (Canada) (108 min)

Set in the far-off future of 2078, a violent 10-year war rages on between the loyalist Rebel Alliance and the splinter faction of the New Economic Bloc, with Col. Joseph Hendrickson (Peter Weller) assigned to protect the distant Sirius 6B outpost from the NEBs. Assisting him in the cause are Autonomous Mobile Swords, manmade killing devices programmed to eliminate all life forms, dubbed “Screamers” for their high-pitched mechanical whine as they sweep underground like supersonic moles. Unfortunately for both sides in the conflict, the artificially intelligent Screamers have begun to evolve and mutate, transforming from easily identifiable robots to cybernetic creations that look disturbingly… human.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

OBSESSION (1976) Blu-ray review



Obsession (1976) d. Brian De Palma (USA) (98 min)

A 10th wedding anniversary celebration in New Orleans in 1959 ends tragically when Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson, Brainstorm) discovers that his wife Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold, Dead Ringers) and 9-year-old daughter have been kidnapped. When an attempt to thwart the captors goes awry, Courtland's wife and daughter are never recovered. 16 years later, while vacationing in Florence (where Michael first met Elizabeth), Courtland falls in love with a young woman, Sandra (also Bujold), an exact, if younger, double of his dead wife. On the eve of their wedding, Sandra disappears, with only a ransom note left behind ... a duplicate of the one found several years earlier.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

ZOMBIE (1979) Blu-ray release!!



Zombie (1979) d. Lucio Fulci (Italy) (92 min)

In Italy, it was released as Zombi 2, the unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead. In England, it was known as Zombie Flesh Eaters and banned as an official Video Nasty. In America, it was called Zombie and advertised with the depraved tag line, “We Are Going To Eat You!” Tisa Farrow (Anthropophagus), Ian McCulloch (Contamination), Al Cliver (Cannibals), and Richard Johnson (The Haunting) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by Lucio Fulci (City of the Living Dead, The House by the Cemetery) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, shark-chomping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!


Friday, February 1, 2019

SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) Blu-ray review



Scream for Help (1984) d. Michael Winner (USA) (89 min)

Terror invades an upper-class New York community as 17-year old Christie Cromwell (Rachael Kelly) cleverly uncovers her stepfather Paul Fox’s (David Allen Brooks) horrifying plot to murder her wealthy mother (Marie Masters). She's onto him, yet no one will believe her because she's just a kid. Suspense builds when a series of shocking events confirms her worst fears. Alone, afraid, and helpless, terrified Christie and her mother are held prisoner in their own home at the mercy of Paul and his ruthless accomplices (Lolita Lorre, Rocco Sisto).