Tuesday, November 17, 2020

RELIC (2020) Blu-ray Review



Relic (2020) d. Natalie Erika James (Australia/USA) (89 min)

When Kay (Emily Mortimer) receives word that her aging mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) has not been seen for several days, she reluctantly extracts herself from her manic work-obsessed lifestyle and heads out to the countryside with recently dropped out of college daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) to investigate. Upon arrival, they find a few things amiss (Post-it notes adorning the walls, chairs facing windows, food bowls set out for pets long gone) and no sign of Edna… at first. Our missing matriarch magically reappears one morning, behaving as though nothing has happened and dismissing her absence (and slight bruising on her chest) as nothing of consequence. Despite their casual estrangement, both Kay and Sam recognize that something is different and, as the days pass, they are witness to numerous troubling episodes that beg the question: are these are simply classic symptoms of dementia or is there something more sinister and supernatural at work?


Friday, November 6, 2020

ELI ROTH'S HISTORY OF HORROR (2019) Blu-ray Review



Eli Roth’s History of Horror (2018) d. Kurt Sayenga (USA) (294 min)

“Award-winning horror film director, writer, producer, and actor Eli Roth brings together the masters of horror – the storytellers and stars who define the genre – to explore its biggest themes and reveal the inspirations and struggles behind its past and present. Each one-hour episode will take viewers on a chilling exploration of how horror has evolved through the years and examine the genre's impact on society as well as delving into how horror maintains its fan base and why audiences are addicted to fear. Interviewees include Stephen King, Quentin Tarantino, Linda Blair, and many others.”

That’s the marketing materials on the back of the Blu-ray packaging from AMC Studios. Sounds pretty good, right? In the spirit of how so many great horror movies begin, let’s take a look inside, shall we, and see what’s hiding in the basement, the attic, and under the bed.


Monday, November 2, 2020

2020 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 2020!

As always, the Challenge itself is to watch (at least) one fright flick for each 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 $3,300 has been raised for BOXVILLE, with additional funds still coming in, making this the most successful Scare-A-Thon to date! (Yes, you can still drop a line at drach101@gmail.com if you wish to donate!)

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. It makes the long nights go by much easier knowing that one’s efforts are noticed and appreciated. Hope you 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 7 additional horror titles “just for fun” along with five additional civilian views just to break up the bloodletting. Beyond that, there are a bevy of additional OCD factoids you might get a kick out of… or you can just run for the exits like any sensible human being. The choice is yours.

Enjoy!

CHALLENGE STATS:
Total Movies Watched: 38
First Time Views: 16
Total Scare-A-Thon Donations: $3,329.71

Sunday, November 1, 2020

ZOMBIE FOR SALE (2019) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 31
Total First Time Views: 16
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $3,329.71

Zombie for Sale (2019) d. Min-jae Lee (South Korea) (112 min) (1st viewing)

The Park family, comprised of a father (Jong-ryol Choi), two brothers Joon-Gul (Jae-yeong Jeong) and Min-Gul (Nam-gil Kim), their sister Hae-gul (Soo-kyung Lee), and Joon-Gul’s pregnant bride Nam-Joo (Ji-won Uhm), eke out a living at their run-down gas/service station, bilking the occasional passerby with flat tire-inducing debris on the highway and a tow truck waiting in the wings. Their ramshackle lives change forever when Jjong-Bi (Ga-ram Jung), one of the brain-dead test subjects from Korea’s most prominent drug company, escapes from the lab and shambles into a literal collision course with the family. While Jjong-Bi looks and walks like a traditional Romero zombie, he prefers to munch on heads of cabbage rather than brains, and when he accidentally does bite the aging patriarch, his rejuvenated victim actually feels 20 years younger!


Saturday, October 31, 2020

YUMEJI (1991) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 30
Total First Time Views: 15
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $3,132,30

Yumeji (1991) d. Seijin Suzuki (Japan) (128 min) (1st viewing)

A most unusual ghost story, this final chapter in Suzuki’s Taisho Trilogy is at first glance a biopic about painter and poet Yumeji Takehisa (Kenji Sawada), yet ends up being far less concerned with realistic depictions of the artist’s life and more with exploring the elusive boundaries between man and woman, life and death, objectification and obsession. Takehisa’s relationships, specifically those with three women, highlight key elements of human nature, and Suzuki applies his painterly vision to nearly every frame, weaving a hypnotic spell that lingers in the heart even as the images ebb and flow through the mind.


Friday, October 30, 2020

SAW (2004) Movie Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 29
Total First Time Views: 14
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $2,462.68

Saw (2004) d. James Wan (USA) (103 min) (4th viewing)

A pair of strangers, Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and photographer Adam (Leigh Whannell) wake up in a grimy underground bathroom, each chained by his ankle to a drainpipe. Also in said bathroom are a dead body and two rusty hacksaws, too dull to cut through their shackles, but sharp enough to cut through… other things. As the narrative proceeds down its flashback-riddled path, we learn that they are captives of the Jigsaw Killer, whose calling card entails intricate scenarios designed to force victims to kill themselves or one another. It is in these flashbacks that the film’s power lies, depicting hellish scenarios and apparatus from H. R. Giger’s worst nightmares.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

X: THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES (1963) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 28
Total First Time Views: 14
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $2,349.76

X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (1963) d. Roger Corman (USA) (79 min) (5th viewing)

When the brilliant Dr. Xavier (Ray Milland) concocts a serum to improve human sight, he stumbles upon a formula for X-ray vision. Inspired by its awesome medical potential, but shunned by his short-sighted colleagues, the doctor tests the potion on himself, only to discover that a side effect of his enhanced vision is the insatiable desire to look further and deeper, perhaps more than any mortal can bear.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

WARNING FROM SPACE (1956) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 27
Total First Time Views: 14
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $2,222.64

Warning from Space (1956) d. Koji Shima (Japan) (87 min) (2nd viewing)

As Japan is rocked by mysterious sightings of UFOs over Tokyo and large one-eyed aliens attempting contact, scientists collaborate to investigate the unexpected rise in extraterrestrial activity. Unbeknownst to them, one of the aliens has already assumed human form and is about to deliver a very important message that could be humanity’s last hope for survival.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON (1982)



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 26
Total First Time Views:14
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $2,140.32

Violence in a Women’s Prison (1982) d. Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn) (Italy) (90 min) (1st viewing)

Convicted sex worker Laura Kendall (Laura Gemser) is sentenced to serve out her time at a remote penitentiary far from the prying eyes of good taste and housekeeping. Packed to the rafters with sadistic jackbooted watchdogs and overseen by the sneering warden (Lorraine De Selle) and her second-in-command Rescaut (Franca Stoppi), both depraved sexual deviants, Laura must create alliances with whomever she can if she is to survive her horrifying ordeal.


Monday, October 26, 2020

THE UNTOLD STORY (1993) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 25
Total First Time Views:13
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,958.00

The Untold Story (1993) d. Herman Yau (Hong Kong) (96 min) (2nd viewing)

In 1986, a bundle of severed hands and feet are discovered washed up on a Macao beach. At the same time, Wong Chi Hang (Anthony Wong, Hard Boiled), the head chef at The Eight Immortals Restaurant is striving to have his name transferred over as the new owner, seeing as how the previous proprietor has mysteriously gone missing, along with his family. Detective Lee (Danny Lee, The Killer) and his squad of goof-off cops suspect foul play and proceed to stake out the joint, waiting for the suspect to make a slip. Meanwhile, the shop’s famous hot pork buns seem to have incorporated an intriguing new ingredient...


Sunday, October 25, 2020

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE (1990) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 24
Total First Time Views: 13
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,836.18

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) d. John Harrison (USA) (93 min) (3rd viewing)

Betty (Blondie's Deborah Harry), an attractive, chipper, middle-aged suburbanite, is making preparations for a dinner party. On the menu: the paperboy Timmy (Matthew Lawrence), who is none too wild about being selected as the main dish. In an effort to keep his host distracted and stave off his time in the roaster pan, the lad reads selections from a collection of stories, entrancing her with tales of mummies and grad students and not-so-dead scrolls, crippled millionaires and hit men and vengeful felines, gargoyles and artists and promises made in the dark….


Saturday, October 24, 2020

A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN (1971) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 23
Total First Time Views: 13
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,755.36

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) d. Lucio Fulci (Italy/Spain) (104 min) (2nd viewing)

Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan), daughter of affluent London lawyer Edmond Brighton (Leo Genn), seeks out therapy to deal with both her insomnia and increasingly vivid, sexually tinged nightmares, the latter of which have begun to prominently feature her hedonistic next-door neighbor Julie Durer (Anita Strindberg). When Julie turns up demised in very much the manner that one of Carol’s dreams depicted, everyone – including Carol – is inclined to believe she is the guilty party. But when blackmail phone calls and stoned-out flower people start showing up on the fringes of Carol’s life, the local lawman assigned to the case, Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker), begins to doubt that things are as simple as they seem.


Friday, October 23, 2020

THE SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 22
Total First Time Views: 13
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,657.04

The Shadow of the Cat (1961) d. John Gilling (UK) (79 min) (1st viewing)

Wealthy Ella Venable (Catherine Lacey) is brutally murdered by her manservant Andrew (Andrew Crawford) at the behest of her cold-blooded husband Walter (Andre Morell) and the two, along with long-suffering housekeeper Clara, conspire to bury the corpse in the forest; at the same time, they produce a brand-new will and testament that conveniently leaves Ella’s fortune to Walter. So far so good, as far as murders go. However, the one spanner in the works is that Ella’s beloved feline, Tabitha, has witnessed everything and is seemingly intent on driving the trio insane and/or into their own shallow graves. The battle lines are now drawn, with innocent (and disinherited) daughter Beth (Barbara Shelley) caught in the middle of a full-on war of wills where humans tumble down stairs, drown in quicksand, suffer heart attacks, or fall from parapets while cats purr with demonic delight.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

THE REDEEMER (aka CLASS REUNION MASSACRE) (1978) Blu-ray Review




SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 21
Total First Time Views: 12 
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,518.72

The Redeemer (aka Class Reunion Massacre) (1978) d. Constantine S. Gochis (USA) (83 min) (2nd viewing)

The most unusual thing about this most unusual fright flick is that while the plotline (six former classmates show up at their 10-year high school reunion, only to find themselves hunted down by a vengeful killer) seems to come straight out of the 1980s slasher handbook, The Redeemer actually predates such classics as Halloween and Friday the 13th, as well as their countless brethren, including Terror Train, April Fool’s Day, Slaughter High, Prom Night, etc., yet seems to go to inordinate lengths to avoid the clichés it couldn’t have possibly known were just around the corner.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

QUEEN OF BLOOD (2014) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date: 

Total Movies Watched: 20 
Total First Time Views: 12 
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,446.40 

Queen of Blood (2014) d. Chris Alexander (USA) (77 min) (1st viewing)

A semi-sequel of sorts to writer/director Alexander’s 2012 offering, Blood for Irina, with our titular undead (Shauna Henry) relocated from her previous urban environs to a mystical wooded glade. Based on the period clothing and rustic setting, one might even consider it a prequel except for the fact that it seems to exist in a no-time world where even speech is out of fashion. Yes, it’s a silent, independent, art-house, vampire flick intended as much a tribute to Werner Herzog and Terence Malick (in terms of pacing and attention to the natural surroundings) as it is to the films of Jean Rollin or Jess Franco.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

POINT OF TERROR (1971) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 19
Total First Time Views: 11
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,374.08

Point of Terror (1971) d. Alex Nicol (USA) (88 min) (1st viewing)

Tony Trelos (Peter Carpenter), The Lobster House’s featured crooner extraordinaire, has dreams of becoming a big recording star. While sunning his finely chiseled body on the beach one day, he crosses paths with hot-to-trot Andrea Hilliard (Dyanne Thorne, four years before her breakout role as Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S.), wife of hotshot music producer Martin Hilliard (Joel Marston). Before you can sing the opening refrain of “Lifebeats” (and please don’t), Tony and Andrea are a not-so-subtle item, intended to drive the wheelchair-bound Martin off the deep end with jealousy. This queasy power triangle – in which no one really loves each other as much as they love themselves – persists until its breaking point (of terror!), and there will be no happy sing-a-longs come final call.


Monday, October 19, 2020

NIGHTWISH (1989) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 18 
Total First Time Views: 10 
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,301.76 

Nightwish (1989) d. Bruce R. Cook (USA) (96 min) (1st viewing)

A group of graduate students studying the science of dreams heads off to a remote mansion in the desert to partake in experiments of the paranormal variety, led by their fanatical professor (Jack Starrett) who hopes to communicate with entities beyond the veil. As the hours pass and unexplained occurrences arise, the researchers begin to wonder if they can trust the house, their instructor, their classmates, or even their own minds….

Sunday, October 18, 2020

DEMONS (1985) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 17
Total First Time Views: 9
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,212.44

Demons (1985) d. Lamberto Bava (Italy) (88 min) (5th viewing)

Classmates Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) and Cathey (Paola Cozzo) blow off their nightly lecture to attend a free screening at the newly renovated Metropol Cinema, mingling with a wide array of individuals ranging from pimps (Bobby Rhodes) and prostitutes (Geretta Geretta, Fabiola Toledo) to amorous teens (Fiore Argento, Guido Baldi) to a cranky old married couple celebrating their anniversary (Stelio Candelli, Nicole Tessier) to a blind gentleman (Alex Serra) and his niece Liz (Sally Day), as well as a couple of “nice guys” George (Urbano Barberini) and Ken (Karl Zinny). As they all settle in to watch a new horror movie, the terrifying events in the theater begin to mirror those occurring onscreen, resulting in a cavalcade of bloody, gory, outlandish, and thoroughly whacked-out proportions.


Saturday, October 17, 2020

THE OLD WAYS (2020) Movie Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 16
Total First Time Views: 9 
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,141.12

The Old Ways (2020) d. Christopher Alender (USA) (90 min) (1st viewing)

When Mexican/American reporter Cristina Lopez (Brigitte Kali Canales) returns to her ancestral home of Veracruz chasing a story on witchcraft and faith healers, she becomes the subject of her own story. Kidnapped by a local “bruja” Luce (Julia Vera) and her son Javi (Sal Lopez), Cristina is held against her will for a terrifying reason: They believe she has a demon within her and won’t let her free until they exorcise the malevolent force… no matter what it takes. As she struggles to make her escape, she slowly comes to believe they may be telling the truth after all. Along with her captors and her estranged cousin Miranda (Andrea Cortes), Cristina’s fight for survival turns into a fight for her soul.


Friday, October 16, 2020

THE MANGLER (1995) Blu-ray Review



SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 15 
Total First Time Views: 8 
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1069.80 

The Mangler (1995) d. Tobe Hooper (South Africa/UK) (106 min) (1st viewing) 

Unlike The Lawnmower Man, this actually IS an adaptation of a Stephen King story. However, it’s about a possessed industrial laundry pressing and folding machine… so there’s that. Yes, you read that correctly, and in spite of the fact that you’ve got Robert Englund headlining (and reuniting with his Eaten Alive director Hooper) and Ted Levine, Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill himself, playing our lead, there’s no denying that everyone involved and/or watching is asking themselves, “Wait, so, it’s a haunted mechanical laundromat? How is that going to work?”

Answer: It doesn’t.