Monday, April 6, 2020

THE ASTROLOGER (1977) Blu-ray Review



The Astrologer (1977) d. James Glickenhaus (USA) (79 min)

The deep Deep DEEP undercover U.S. government organization Interzod, run by Dr. Alexei Abernal (Bob Byrd), specializes in tracking individuals’ life and career paths based upon their astrological birth coordinates. (Aren’t you glad you know where your tax dollars are going?) On the other side of the globe in India, the mystical leader Kajerste (Mark Buntzman) has been captured by the government and placed under arrest, but his captors are unprepared for his overwhelming hypnotic powers and he quickly escapes back to his cadre of devout followers. What do these two have in common? Both are searching for the exact time and location of the Virgin Mary’s birth, hoping that if another person’s zodiacal potential were to coincide, the outcome would be the Second Coming of Christ. Judging by the way Abernal is keeping a close eye on Kate (Monica Tidwell), to the point of wedding her but refusing to consummate the marriage, it’s pretty clear who he’s putting his money on.


Saturday, April 4, 2020

THE WITCH (2015) Blu-ray Review



The Witch (2015) d. Robert Eggers (USA) (92 min)

In 1630s New England, the pious William (Ralph Ineson) is banished from the Puritan homestead, along with his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie) and their five children, for speaking against the church elders for their fixation on wealth and status. He scorns their golden candlesticks and religious trappings, preferring to make his way in the wilderness alone with his family, closer to the land, closer to God. But when their infant child Samuel is spirited away into the woods whilst under the care of eldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), it sets in motion a crumbling of the familial unit, a dissolution spurred by suspicion, hunger, lust, jealousy… and perhaps a little help from beyond the veil.


Friday, April 3, 2020

FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973) Blu-ray Review



Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) d. Jack Smight (UK) (186 min)

Following the tragic drowning of his beloved brother William, the brilliant young surgeon/student Victor Frankenstein (Leonard Whiting) becomes obsessed with unlocking the mysteries of resurrecting life from dead tissue. While traveling to London to resume his studies, a chance encounter with a wounded man on the highway causes Victor’s path to cross with that of the drunken and unconventional maverick Dr. Henri Clerval (David McCallum). Finding kindred spirits in one another, Clerval takes Victor under his wing, showing him the results of his unconventional solar/electrical experiments, first reviving insects, then animals, and finally severed limbs. Their next step? To bring a human body back from the dead, an opportunity that arrives in the form of a bizarre quarry accident that leaves seven men badly mangled. Assembling the healthiest pieces of each, they create a piecemeal creature (Michael Sarrazin) that, sure enough, is able to walk, talk, and pass for a member of polite society. But when the process begins to reverse itself, Victor can only stand helplessly by as his “beautiful” creation turns monstrous.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

APRIL FOOL'S DAY (1986) Blu-ray Review



April Fool’s Day (1986) d. Fred Walton (89 min)

When Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman) invited her college friends up to her parents’ secluded island home for the time of their lives, she just forgot to tell them it just might be the LAST time of their lives. As soon as the kids arrive on the island, someone starts trimming the guest list... one murder at a time. What starts out as a weekend of harmless “April Fool’s Day” pranks turns into a bloody battle for survival.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

MUNSTER, GO HOME! (1966) Blu-ray Review



Munster, Go Home! (1966) d. Earl Bellamy (USA) (96 min)

Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) inherits a mansion in England (and a lordship in the process) and sails across the ocean with the entire Munster family in tow: his loving vampire wife Lily (Yvonne De Carlo), her mischievous fanged father Grampa (Al Lewis), their werewolf son Eddie (Butch Patrick), and their “abnormal” human niece Marilyn (Debbie Watson). Upon arrival, they encounter their European relatives, Lady Effigie (Hermione Gingold) and her two conniving offspring, Freddie (Terry-Thomas) and Grace (Jeanne Arnold), who are understandably disgruntled at having been cut out of the Munster will. Soon, there are schemes devised and plots afoot and hijinks aplenty, all the more complicated when Marilyn falls for the son of a rival family, the dashing Roger Moresby (Robert Pine).


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fool's Views (3/1 – 3/15)


"Don't mind me. I'll be in here for while....."

“Beware the Ides of March.”

“He is a dreamer; let us leave him. Pass.”

The month came in like a lamb and, almost as if on cue, March 15 came crashing in like a ton of bricks (if the bricks were all radioactive and labeled “Stay the #$%*&$#@ in your house!!!!”) and the world will never be the same again. It’s strange, looking back on this period of time, going through it thinking it was just another ordinary couple weeks. Not so, said the crow.

Truth be told, my main focus was to watch a few VHS movies that my buddy Gert had ordered from a U.S. dealer and get them relayed onto him in Brussels. It seems so benign in retrospective: plugging in the VCR and adjusting the tracking accordingly to viddy a few flicks the old fashioned way, and then repackaging them to send overseas. (Here’s hoping they arrive soon, amigo!!!!) Then I banged out a few other films that I had borrowed from friends (Tim, Jason, Jon), thinking, “Okay, I’ll finish these up and then set up a time when I can return them and we can watch a bunch more together.”

And now, here we are. Advised to stay indoors and avoid contact with anyone. It’s looking like it will be at least a few more weeks of the same, and no one knows when the communal viewings will resume. It’s a strange realization. But the femalien and I are both healthy and hopeful, which is about all anyone can ask. We’ve got food and shelter and each other, and we live in a world where most communication occurs online anyway, so the world – while undeniably different – isn’t all that different. And there are movies to be watched and Fools to View them. For this, I am extremely thankful.

I wish you, Faithful Reader, the very best to you and yours during these strange days. Thank you for spending a little time here at the Doc’s office. It means a lot.

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

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

NURSE SHERRI (1978) DVD review



Nurse Sherri (1978) d. Al Adamson (USA) (88 min)

Attempting to jump on two exploitation bandwagons at once, producer Sam Sherman and director Adamson (in their final collaboration) concocted this mash-up of The Exorcist and Roger Corman’s “Nurse” movies which features the titular character (Jill Jacobson) being possessed by the spirit of a religious nutbag (Bill Roy) and murdering off half the hospital staff and patients where she works, growling in a none-too-convincing dubbed male voice all the while.


Friday, March 27, 2020

DR. TARR'S TORTURE DUNGEON (1973) DVD Review



Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (aka Mansion of Madness) (1973) d. Juan Lopez Monteczuma (Mexico) (82 min)

Newspaper reporter Gaston LeBlanc (Arthur Hanel), interested in exploring his French ancestry, requests that his editor send him on assignment to a remote country sanitarium using the groundbreaking “soothing system,” where patients are encouraged to explore their emotions to the fullest without discipline, punishment, or confinement. Upon touring the facility, however, LeBlanc comes to the horrifying realization that the mental hospital is actually being run by the inmates and the mysterious and charismatic Dr. Maillard (Claudio Brook) is allowing them to live out their wildest and most bizarre fantasies.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fool's Views (2/15 – 2/29)


Look who's knocking out the Views! Cyber High Five!!!

Greetz and treatz!

Wrapping up the shortest month of the year with our Kryptic Army assignment (films starting with E, V, I, or L), most of which were accomplished courtesy of an impromptu Share the Scare at the Krypt itself. (Who knew it was going to be the last one for the foreseeable future? #socialdistancing) Seems Jon had picked up an array of discs from Sinister Cinema and was inclined to share the wealth. While not all were winners, there were definitely some jewels in the mix from all corners of the globe and, with Dawn working her usual magic in the kitchen, it was a fantastic way to wrap up the month.

I also started my Bronson-fest in earnest, hitting up the Chicago Public Library for a few lesser-known entries in the star’s CV, with many more on the way. For the record, prior to 2020, I had previously seen 17 of Charlie’s 95 films, a tally that includes his bit and supporting parts; I suspect I will be revisiting most of those along the way, but all the ones this month were First Time Views. Speaking of CB, one of his frequent co-stars, James Coburn (The Magnificent Seven, Hard Times, The Great Escape) popped up for the most recent installment of Kicking the Seat, so if you get tired of reading, just pop in the earbuds and have a little listen.

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

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

RETURN OF THE WITCH (1952) DVD Review



Return of the Witch (1952) d. Roland af Hallstrom (Finland) (80 min)

Released the same year as The White Reindeer, here is yet another surprisingly underviewed effort from the Land of Fin, with yet another supernatural menace taking the form of a beautiful woman. Here, the plot (adapted from a play by Mika Waltari) revolves around an archaeologist (Toivo Makela) who unearths a 300-year-old skeleton with a stake buried in its chest, but after he transports the bones indoors to be studied, the makeshift grave is filled once again – this time with the shapely naked body of a young woman (Mirja Mane)!


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

ONE CUT OF THE DEAD (2017) Movie Review



One Cut of the Dead (2017) d. Shinichiro Ueda (Japan) (97 min)

I don’t want to diminish anyone’s experience of this fantastic independent effort, one whose against-all-odds genesis and Cinderella success story mirrors its onscreen against-all-odds narrative. So, if you haven’t seen it, stop reading now and track it down because it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


Monday, March 23, 2020

DEEP RISING (1998) Blu-ray Review



Deep Rising (1998) d. Stephen Sommers (USA) (106 min)

A group of terrorists looking to hijack Simon Canton’s (Anthony Heald) luxury ocean liner find the vessel almost completely deserted, with something big, dark and slippery lurking in the shadows. Skipper John Finnegan (Treat Williams, doing his best Harrison Ford impression), sassy jewel thief Trillian St. James (Famke Janssen, doing her best Julia Roberts impression), and kooky mechanic Joey Pantucci (Kevin J. O’Connor, doing his best Bobcat Goldthwait impression) are the good guys matching wits against the thugs, while the bloodthirsty sea monster grabs and devours whoever is closest to its multitude of lethal tentacles.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fool's Views (2/1 – 2/14)


Better late than never, right?

Hello, hello.

Yes, it’s been a few weeks since I last reported in – anything new going on in the world?

I jest, of course. It’s an odd time we’re living in, with the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe and most of the U.S. on lockdown. My personal training career is at a bit of standstill, since our health club is currently closed, so I’m finally sitting down to catch up on the Views. I wasn’t really feeling motivated to do so over the past month, but thanks to a few inspiring emails from my Belgian blood brother Gert, I seem to have rallied for the time being.

This batch takes us to the halfway point of February, which I celebrated by watching a double-feature of Shout Factory’s extras-packed Blu-ray release of My Bloody Valentine and the surprisingly solid 3D remake from 2009. It also marked the spark for an unexpected deep dive into a certain action-star icon’s filmography which you’ll be reading about in FV reports to come. (You have Tim to thank/curse for this.) I also wrapped up the final lap (for now) of my animated features (itself inspired by legendary pun-meister Kevin Matthews’ Ani-May-Tion last year).

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

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Fool's Views (1/16 – 1/31)


Just... give me a second.

Wow. So far behind. But I’m here now!

I spent the latter half of January whittling through the stacks of DVDs and Blu-rays that had been covering my desk for months, especially with the Oscar-nominated fare off my plate, including hosting a little Angel-ic marathon as we crossed the halfway point. (And then, of course, I got preoccupied with doing non-movie stuff like getting my Box N Burn certification and so was spending less time on the couch or at the keyboard.) As a result, there were a lot of titles consumed and, considering the late hour, I’m going to keep the preamble short and the reviews shorter in order to get back to even keel. Hold on, folks. Here we go!

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

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

KILLER CROCODILE (1989) Blu-ray Review



Killer Crocodile (1989) d. Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman) (Italy) (94 min)

When a group of attractive young environmentalists descend upon an idyllic tropical island community looking for evidence of illegal nuclear waste disposal, they find themselves not only at odds with the corrupt local officials but with an enormous toothy behemoth lurking beneath the surface! Operating by the 1950s sci-fi horror playbook, it seems that the titular menace has contracted a nasty case of gigantism from exposure to the radioactive leakage, with an appetite to match. The idealistic outsiders recognize that Nature and Science have created the perfect killing machine, but the debate as to whether it should be captured for posterity or extinguished for the greater public good becomes a moot point after several of their party are munched into extinction themselves. Now they must join forces with island’s resident Great White Hunter Joe (Ennio Girolami) to stop the leathery lunatic in its short, stubby tracks.


Sunday, February 2, 2020

BLISS (2019) Blu-ray Review



Bliss (2019) d. Joe Begos (USA) (80 min)

Unable to finish her newest commissioned work, struggling visual artist, Dezzy (Dora Madison) looks to reignite her creative juices by boozing, swearing, and snorting her way through every house party and metal bar she can find. After a few nights in the company of her friends (and sometimes lovers) Courtney (Tru Collins) and Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield), Dezzy is finally painting again, but she also finds herself hooked on a new blend of sniffable narcotics and developing a strange desire for… blood.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/15)


"Doggone it, it's spelled Klaatu Barada NIKTO, those idiots!"

Howdy, folks!

Yep, it’s that time of the year again, where the prestige pics hold sway over our collective cinematic attentions (otherwise known as AC Catches Up With Everyone Else’s “Best of 2019” Lists), so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Civilian end of the cinematic pool. That said, I’m pleased that I was also able to find time to participate in the newly resurrected KRYPTIC ARMY hosted by the one and only Kitley’s Krypt.


What’s the Kryptic Army? So glad you asked!

From 2010 to 2014, Our Fearless Leader issued a monthly set of commands: Watch two horror movies (that you’ve never seen before) that conform to a given set of parameters and report back your findings. Along the way, we covered such themes as stars (Peter Cushing, Paul Naschy), directors (Lucio Fulci, H.G. Lewis), topics (Holiday Horror, Apocalyptic Horror), or titles (“Black,” “Night,” etc.) Over those six years, I think I only failed to complete one of those 60 missions, and that was because I picked two movies that did not feature the required “Snowy Backdrop.” (I mean, who would have guessed that neither Cadaver Christmas nor Track of the Moon Beast would feature nary a flake, considering their plot descriptions involved a Yeti and Christmas????) Anyway, thrilled that Jon has called back in the troops – hope you join us because WE WANT YOU.

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

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

ZONE TROOPERS (1985) Blu-ray Review



Zone Troopers (1985) d. Bilson, Danny (USA) (86 min)

In contrast to this month’s other KRYPTIC ARMY selection, while I had been aware of its indelible box art staring back at me for decades from the VHS shelves, Zone Troopers had never really struck me as “must-see material,” and being that I was never the biggest Empire/Full Moon fan growing up, it was never more than a blip on my radar. However, as the years rolled by and my tastes mellowed, I’ve learned to appreciate and enjoy quite a bit of Charles Band’s output, so it was with a mild degree of optimism that I pulled this one up off the interwebs. Happily, I was not disappointed.


Saturday, January 25, 2020

DEATH SHIP (1980) Blu-ray Review



Death Ship (1980) d. Rakoff, Alvin (Canada/UK) (91 min)

Crusty and cranky Captain Ashland (George Kennedy) is taking his luxury cruise liner out for one final spin on the ocean before retirement, with trusty second-in-command Marshall (Richard Crenna) along for the ride and waiting in the wings to take over. But when their ship is blindsided by another vessel, all passengers are sent down to Davy Jones’ locker with the exception of Ashland, Marshall and his family (Sally Ann Howes, Jennifer McKinney, Danny Higham), ship’s steward Nick (Nick Mancuso), his girlfriend Lori (Victoria Burgoyne), and kindly old religious nut Sylvia (Kate Reid). (Bandleader Saul Rubinek also ends up in the life raft, but is done away with so quickly, it barely counts.) Surprise, surprise, the derelict ship that took them out circles back around for another go, they all climb aboard, and mayhem predictably (and sporadically) ensues.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

BODY PARTS (1991) Blu-ray Review



Body Parts (1991) d. Eric Red (USA) (88 min)

Bill Chrushank (Jeff Fahey) is a criminal psychologist who loses his arm and nearly his life in a grisly car accident. Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsay Duncan) proposes an experimental medical procedure, successfully grafting a new limb on its place. Following a strenuous period of rehabilitation, things seem to be back to normal… until Bill’s new arm starts to exhibit a will of its own, striking out against Bill’s wife Karen (Kim Delaney) and children, while Bill begins to experience horrifying dreams of murder and bloodshed. Are these symptoms all in his mind or are they linked to the limb itself, residual traces of its former owner’s troubled life?


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971) Blu-ray Review



Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) d. John D. Hancock (USA) (88 min)

Following her release from a sanitarium, emotionally sensitive Jessica (Zohra Lampert) leaves NYC with her classical musician husband Duncan (Barton Heywood) and their like-minded hippie friend Woody (Kevin O’Connor) to find peace and quiet working an apple orchard in Connecticut. But when they encounter a strange, beautiful squatter, Emily (Mariclare Costello), residing in the farmhouse, Jessica’s unstable world begins to crumble. And, like our heroine, the viewer is never quite sure what is reality or nightmare, madness or sanity….


Monday, January 20, 2020

COLOR OUT OF SPACE (2019) Movie Review




Color Out of Space (2019) d. Richard Stanley (USA) (111 min)

Living with his family on their small and isolated farm, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) enjoys a laid-back existence, eking out a meager existence milking alpacas and cultivating tomatoes while his online stock-trader wife Theresa (Joley Richardson) does daily battle with their sketchy internet bringing home the proverbial bacon. Their kids are a relatively well-adjusted if offbeat brood, with older brother Benny (Brendan Meyer) holding down the level-headed fort between bong hits, aspiring spiritualist Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) trading time between healing spells to repress her mom’s cancer and complaining about living out in the boonies, and young dreamer Jack (Julian Hilliard) drawing and tinkering his home-schooled days away. Of course, all that changes one night when a strange purple glowing meteorite crashes down in their front yard and proceeds to slowly influence everyone and everything around it.


Monday, January 6, 2020

Civilian 2019 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!



Aaaaaaaaand we're back!

Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it’s time to give the Civilian flicks their moment in the sun. As always, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2019 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

However, first... A little context:

This was probably the first year in the last 20 years that I didn’t see a single movie at the multiplex and, with the exception of the Music Box of Horrors and Cinepocalypse, it was the first time that I didn’t see more than a single film in the theater with each trip. That’s right, no double, triple, quadruple features, just in and out and off to the proverbial snack bar to discuss. It was a fairly unique experience, but it also meant that my numbers for current releases were WAAAAAAAY down from usual. Also, since my focus tended to err toward chosen “projects” – most of which were of a certain vintage (007, Chuck Norris, various directors) – my home viewings rarely dabbled in the modern shiny stuff. Can’t say I’m really bummed about the results, they’re just not the norm.

Totally gratuitous pic of Denise Richards riding a dinosaur to entice you to click below the fold...

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Dr. AC's 2019 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!


Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter... I mean, hey, come on in!

Howdy, folks!

Wow, I’m almost impressed with myself for getting this done in such a timely fashion. I mean, hell, I haven’t even written my rent check for the month and I’m already posting this? WINNING.

Since (once again) I haven’t been breaking my neck to keep up with the latest and greatest, I’ve (once again) extended my field of view for genre releases to cover the last two years, both 2018 and 2019 releases. To be honest, I was surprised that I had seen as many as I had, but widening the field means we can plant more crops, if one might be allowed to explore the metaphor.


Please note: All the films listed below were encountered by your humble scribe for the first time over the past 12 months and, to acknowledge as many as possible, I've broken them down into various categories in alphabetical order, with my top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Fool's Views (12/16 - 12/31)


FINISHED!!! TELL ME THERE'S STILL SOME EGG NOG!

All right, last lap, everyone!

The back half of December was actually quite a treat, since I knew I had done pretty well in terms of total films and having finished up several projects, but I also knew that I had a few loose ends I wanted to tie up before the final bell rang. I was one film away from completing The Omen franchise, two films away from completing the Silent Night Deadly Night franchise, I had several gaps from the 1940s that I wanted to fill, and so on. I would find myself waking up and thinking, “Oh, yeah, that would be a good thing too…” and, even though I didn’t quite finish all the items on my wish list, I still did pretty well.

In short, it’s been a hell of a year (in many ways), and I was often reminded how lovely it can be to be transported to a different time, different place for a few hours and come back home, feeling just a little richer for the experience. Thanks to everyone who shared with the ride with me in one respect or another.

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

Enjoy!

Friday, January 3, 2020

SILVER BULLET (1985) Blu-ray Review



Silver Bullet (1985) d. Daniel Attias (USA) (95 min)

In the small rural Maine community of Tarker’s Mills, a maniacal killer is on the loose, viciously rending its victims to pieces, leaving the townsfolk terrified and the police stumped. But young Marty Coslow (Corey Haim) is convinced that a supernatural shapeshifter stalks among them, a werewolf who only shows its toothy maw every full moon. Problem is, Marty is 13, so no one believes him; worse yet, he’s stuck in a wheelchair, which leaves him vulnerable. With his only allies, sister Jane (Megan Follows) and boozy Uncle Red (Gary Busey), Marty sets out to devise a means of stopping the beast before it homes in on the one person who knows its true identity....


Thursday, January 2, 2020

Fool's Views (12/1 – 12/15)


We're here for the Old Year....

Howdy, folks,

Well, with the self-defense schedule relatively clear after the first week, December provided rich and varied cinematic terrain to explore and celebrate with others. Just in the nick of time, I held my first official Share the Scare of 2019, during which we knocked out eight, count 'em, EIGHT flicks in the course of one afternoon. I also started notating which years had been thus far neglected and rented accordingly from the local library shelves: 2005 (Tsotsi), 1963 (Bye Bye Birdie), and 1951 (A Place in the Sun). Sometimes – nay, usually – my OCD tendencies yield interesting fruit and these were no exceptions.

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

Enjoy!