Friday, April 19, 2019

SUPERSTITION (1982) Blu-ray review



Superstition (1982) d. James Roberson (USA) (85 min)

The old mansion by Black Lake, owned by the local parish, is rumored to be haunted by a witch drowned there in 1692. When an alcoholic minister (Larry Pennell), his wife (Lynn Carlin), his teenage temptress daughters (Heidi Bohay, Maylo McCaslin), and little son Justin (Billy Jayne) move into the cursed residence, an idealistic young priest (James Houghton) and a cynical police detective (Albert Salmi) start their own investigation into the unexplained violence. Has the daughter of Satan returned for a rampage of vengeance? Will the laws of the Church be strong enough to cast out this demon? And if evil has truly found a new home, is the entire neighborhood headed straight to hell?


Thursday, April 18, 2019

MASTER OF DARK SHADOWS (2019) Blu-ray review



Master of Dark Shadows (2019) d. David Gregory (US) (87 min)

In 1966, a phenomenon was launched when Dark Shadows debuted on ABC-TV as a daily Gothic suspense series. Airing in the late afternoon, the show attracted a massive youth audience as it shifted to the supernatural with the introduction of vulnerable vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid). Witches, ghosts, and scary storylines turned Dark Shadows into a TV classic that led to motion pictures, remakes, reunions, and legions of devoted fans who have kept the legend alive for five decades.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Fool's Views (3/16 – 3/31)


Sunscreen and proper eye protection is important year-round....

Spring has sprung!

For the back half of March, we came out like a lion, logging triple features of Brian De Palma AND Richard Fleischer, as well as taking in Jordan Peele’s and J.J. Abrams’ latest horror offerings. Scottish filmmaker Lawrie Brewster also scored some screentime, along with a certain Marvelous Captain. All in all, it was a dandy first quarter, with over 120 films under our belt. Here’s hoping the rest of the year follows suit!

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

Enjoy!

Friday, April 12, 2019

US (2019) movie review



Us (2019) d. Jordan Peele (USA) (116 min)

“A family's serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgangers appear and begin to terrorize them.” That’s the high concept behind writer/director/producer Peele’s second feature film and it’s a solid enough premise that is ultimately submarined by a nebulous third-act explanation that raises more questions than it answers. The “twinning” gambit has been done before (and more effectively) in films such as Plus One (aka +1) and Coherence, and whereas Get Out’s social commentary was seamlessly woven into its narrative fabric, here Peele trowels it on at the expense of logic and storytelling.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

THE FURY (1978) movie review



The Fury (1978) d. Brian De Palma (USA) (118 min)

Though on the surface, De Palma could be accused of returning to the telekinetic well a little soon following his smash hit Carrie, John Farris’ adaptation of his own novel expands the tapestry far beyond the small-town concerns of misfit teenagers and into full-blown international government conspiracies and training grounds for potential assassins. (If that device sounds similar to Scanners, it is... and it preceded Cronenberg’s film by three years.)


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

THE MANITOU (1978) Blu-ray review



The Manitou (1978) d. William Girdler (USA) (85 min)

What medical experts originally believe to be a tumor on the neck of patient Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg) proves to be a fetus growing at an abnormally accelerated rate. She reaches out to former lover and phony psychic Harry Erskine (Tony Curtis) for help, but when attempts at conventional surgery go horribly awry, it is revealed that Karen’s nervous system is now possessed by the spirit of a 400-year-old Native American demon named Misquamacus who is ready to be reborn!


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fool's Views (3/1 – 3/15)


I'll take that one and that one and that one....

Greetings, greetings, greetings!

The lingering Chicago winter led to a variety of Views, enhanced by a free month of Netflix streaming (I canceled it halfway through, but it was fun while it lasted), and some fantastic screeners from Shout! Factory, Severin, Arrow, and Artsploitation. My impromptu Brian De Palma film festival slowed slightly (we picked things back up again in the back half of March, so stay tuned) while Ian Simmons and I polished off the closing two features in our Saulnier School program. In all, it turned out to be a productive couple weeks, with a lot of cinematic ground covered, bringing us to a grand total of 100 films in a mere 2.5 months. Might be a good year!

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

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

PSYCHO (1998) Blu-ray review



Psycho (1998) d. Gus Van Sant (USA) (104 min)

Having embezzled a large sum of money from the bank where she works, Marion Crane (Anne Heche) takes refuge at a motel operated by Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn), a troubled man whose victims encounter a grisly fate at the hands of his mother. Marion’s disappearance prompts inquiries from her sister (Julianne Moore) and a private investigator (William H. Macy), who both discover the terrifying truth kept hidden within the Bates Motel.


Friday, April 5, 2019

YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY (1972) Blu-ray review



Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) d. Sergio Martino (Italy) (97 min)

Once-successful author Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli), already crippled by writer’s block (and an excess of alcohol and drugs), hits a new low when his more-successful mother passes away. He celebrates her wake by holding a colossally inappropriate orgy of sexuality and abuse, the latter directed toward Irina (Anita Strindberg), his long-suffering emotional and physical punching bag of a wife. Their less-than-idyllic existence is further complicated by the fact that several of Oliviero’s mistresses keep getting bumped off by a killer wielding a curved saber, and further still by the presence of his trampy niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech) who comes to stay and play (doctor, head games, et al) with them both. The result is a marvelous guessing game of who’s the victim, who’s the villain, and who will take their clothes off next.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

SCARED STIFF (1987) Blu-ray review



Scared Stiff (1987) d. Richard Friedman (USA) (84 min)

Following a nervous breakdown, recovering rock star Kate (Mary Page Keller) and her young son (Joshua Segal) are planning to move into an old colonial mansion with her handsome psychiatrist beau David (Andrew Stevens), unaware of the sinister occult habits of the previous owner, a tyrannical plantation owner named Masterson (David Ramsey). When pigeons (oh, so many pigeons) make their presence known in the boarded-up attic, the songbird stumbles upon a collection of bones and an ancient journal that may hold the secret to banishing the evil forever, but Masterson has other plans...


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

THE IGUANA WITH THE TONGUE OF FIRE (1971) Blu-ray review



The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (1971) d. Riccardo Freda (Italy) (96 min)

Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage launched a wave of “animal-in-the-title” offerings, including this high energy (and equally high nonsense) effort which boasts a rogues gallery of perverse characters, violent murders, and ridiculous plotting where anyone could be the killer! Possibly the only giallo set in Dublin, Ireland, things kick off with an audacious pre-titles, acid-throwing, throat-slashing set-piece, with the victim’s naked corpse unceremoniously deposited in the trunk of the Swiss Ambassador’s limousine. When the icy government official (Anton Diffring, The Man Who Could Cheat Death) claims diplomatic immunity, the cops recruit former badge John Norton (Luigi Pistilli, Twitch of the Death Nerve) to find the killer.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) Blu-ray review



The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) d. Roy Ward Baker (UK/Hong Kong) (89 min)

Black Belt vs. Black Magic! Hammer Horror! Dragon Thrills! The First Kung Fu Horror Spectacular!

After learning of a macabre vampiric cult, Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and his son Leyland (Robin Stewart) team up with student Hsi Ching (David Chiang), his sister Mai Kwei (Szu Shih), their five martial arts expert siblings (each skilled in a separate discipline), and heiress Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege), traveling en masse to the village of Ping Kuei. Throughout their journey, the group encounters numerous brutal attacks and ambushes until they arrive at the golden vampires' derelict temple, inhabited by Dracula in the guise of evil sorcerer Kah (Shen Chan), setting the stage for the ultimate clash between good and evil!


Friday, March 29, 2019

WARNING SIGN (1985) Blu-ray review



Warning Sign (1985) d. Hal Barwood (USA) (99 min)

BioTek Agronomics, a military-grade research facility located on the Utah plains, experiences an “incident,” with several of the employees exposed to a newly created virus that sparks homicidal impulses (along with some unsavory suppurating skin bumps). Button-pusher Joanie (Kathleen Quinlan) finds herself trapped inside, with the infected scientific team growing more and more hostile, while her lawman husband Cal (Sam Waterston) works alongside – and sometimes against – the officious Major Connolly (Yaphet Kotto) and cynical egghead Dr. Fairchild (Jeffrey DeMunn) to get her out.


Monday, March 25, 2019

DO IT YOURSELF (2017) DVD review



Do It Yourself (2017) d. Dimitris Tsilifonis (Greece) (98 min)

From the land of legendary god, heroes, monsters, and olive oil comes this clever, self-aware crime drama about a third-rate criminal, Alkis (Konstadinos Aspiotis), who makes a deal for early release – agreeing to a recorded confession exonerating a corrupt businessman, Daniel Bezerianos (Christos Loulis). The “shoot” goes off without a hitch, renting out a studio space at the local porn flick factory, but when it becomes clear that it’s much easier for the crooks to start with a blank slate (with their songbird dead), the bargaining stops and the battle of wits begins.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

MURDER PARTY (2007) DVD review



Murder Party (2007) d. Jeremy Saulnier (USA) (79 min)

Chris (Chris Sharp) doesn’t have much going for him in terms of a social life; his Halloween plans consist of a war of wills with his chair-dominating feline and watching a few scary movies rented from the local video store. When a seemingly random “Murder Party” invitation floats his way down the sidewalk, he seizes the opportunity to create an impressively off-the-cuff cardboard knight costume (designed and constructed by Sharp himself) and heads out for the night, pumpkin loaf in hand. He finds himself among an eclectic group of artists who have assembled in a secluded warehouse, only to discover that he is to be the object of the described festivity.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

THE BODY SNATCHER (1945) Blu-ray review



The Body Snatcher (1945) d. Robert Wise (USA) (78 min)

Arguably Boris Karloff’s finest onscreen performance, this is another great-looking piece of atmospheric horror from producer Val Lewton. Karloff’s Cabman Gray, oozing ill-intentions and menace while remaining innately likeable, emerges as one of the most intriguing characters in film, regardless of genre. Gray has been employed as a grave robber to provide cadavers for Dr. Wolfe “Toddy” MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) to use at his medical institute. When there are too few corpses to satisfy demands, Gray goes about supplying them through “other means.”


Friday, March 22, 2019

THE WITCHES (1966) Blu-ray review



The Witches (aka The Devil’s Own) (1966) d. Cyril Frankel (UK) (91 min)

Following a traumatic experience involving witch doctors and voodoo while in Africa, fragile but recovering Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) accepts an appointment in a small and secluded English village. Alan Bax (Alec McCowen), his sister Stephanie (Kay Walsh), and the entirety of the local community welcome the Haddaby School’s new headmistress with open arms. But beneath the quiet and quaint surface, a sinister secret society holds sway, singling out two young sweethearts (Ingrid Brett, Martin Stephens) for a dark and mysterious purpose and it’s up to Gwen to face her fears and challenge the forces of evil before it’s too late!


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….