Thursday, January 31, 2013


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) d. McNaughton, John (USA)

John McNaughton’s unsettling chiller (inspired by the real-life exploits of Henry Lee Lucas) is simply one of the most disturbing and frightening horror films ever made. Grimly underplayed by Michael Rooker, Henry is an illiterate drifter who moves from job to job, killing at random.

VACANCY (2007) movie review

Vacancy (2007) d. Antal, Nimrod (USA)

While on a road trip, bickering couple Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsdale find themselves stranded when their car (surprise!) breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, they stumble upon a hotel where Norman Bates, um, I mean, Frank Whaley, provides our couple with a “room with a view” for the night. However, as they will soon discover, they are the view – thanks to hidden cameras – and the couple must spend the night fighting for their lives to avoid becoming the latest installment in the hotel’s unsavory snuff film cottage industry.

THE REAPING (2007) movie review

The Reaping (2007) d. Stephen Hopkins (USA)

When a river in a nearby bayou town turns red, professional debunker Swank is brought in, only to discover the God-fearing inhabitants suspect a poor family of practicing devil worship, bringing ancient plagues to their idyllic community.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

MAMA (2013) movie review

Mama (2013) (1st viewing) d. Muschietti, Andreas (Spain)

After he goes on a shooting spree, two young girls are kidnapped by their kookoo papa, ultimately ending up in a wooded cabin that turns out to not be so very deserted after all. Pater says “later,” and through an effective child’s drawing credits sequence (echoes of Children of the Corn’s three decades prior), the tykes transform from lovely lasses to rail-thin Gollum understudies.

NAKED MASSACRE (aka BORN FOR HELL) (1976) movie review

Naked Massacre (aka Born for Hell) (1976) d. Heroux, Denis (Germany)

Luridly titled shocker loosely based on the 1966 Richard Speck murders of seven Chicago nurses, effectively relocated to war-torn Belfast. Matthew Carierre (sporting a Speck-like “Born for Hell” tattoo) tenders an effectively chilling performance as an embittered, unbalanced and misogynistic AWOL Vietnam vet terrorizing and killing a houseful of attractive ladies one by one.


Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952) d. Brannon, Fred C. (USA)

A charmingly far-fetched and full-blooded Republic sci-fi serial based on the premise of those pesky green-skinned Martians plotting to obliterate the Earth and occupy its spot within the sun’s orbit. Talk about rude. Broken into 12 chapters, each concluding with a lively cliffhanger (usually a vehicle of some sort – car, speedboat, iron ore car – exploding or flying over a cliff with our hero presumably trapped inside), although Misery’s Annie Wilkes would have been losing her mind at the cinematic cheats on display. “He didn’t get out of the cockadoodie car!”

RARE EXPORTS (2010) movie review

Rare Exports (2010) d. Helander, Jelmari (Finland)

The femalien and I spent our Christmas Eve watching this awesomely dark fantasy film about the origins and resurrection of that not-so-jolly old Christmas elf from within the bowels of the frozen Finnish tundra, one that belongs on the same cult holiday counterprogramming shelf as Silent Night Deadly Night, Gremlins, and Christmas Evil.

Monday, January 28, 2013

THE UNCANNY (1977) movie review

Uncanny, The (1977) (1st viewing) d. Heroux, Denis (Canada/UK)

From the producing team of Milton Subotsky (purveyor of those awesome early 70s Amicus anthologies) and Claude Heroux (the man behind such Canuck-horror efforts as Visiting Hours and Of Unknown Origin, as well as David Cronenberg’s The Brood, Scanners and Videodrome) comes a tolerable triptych of terror tales…or should we say tails? Frantic scribbler Peter Cushing appears at the door of publisher Ray Milland with his latest literary effort: a treatise on how the world is secretly ruled by...wait for it...cats. Yup, Cushing is convinced that the felines are running the show, and proceeds to unspool several yarns (or balls thereof) as “evidence,” all of which are entertaining enough but without exception overstay their welcome.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fool's Views (1/14 – 1/20)

All right, I’ll just make my apologies right now, since I realize I spent much more time in the civilian quarter this week. Maybe I’ll have to start calling this blog 10% HORROR 101...

Truth of the matter is, a couple “hold” items came in at Ye Olde Publicke Librarie, I headed to the multiplex, and it’s Awards Time. As a result, I’m weeding through a lot of Oscar bait and haven’t been able to devote much time to the blood n’ beasts. But fear not, true believers, I’ll find my way back into darkness soon enough. In the meantime...

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


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TALOS THE MUMMY (aka TALE OF THE MUMMY) (1998) movie review

Talos the Mummy (aka Tale of the Mummy) (1998) d. Mulcahy, Russell

As some might have gathered at this point, Christopher Lee had no problems picking up a check for a day’s work and featured billing. Here, the venerable actor exits the scene at the eight-minute mark, having fulfilled his duties via a fateful 1948 excavation scene (that includes some truly horrible CGI). Flash forward to 1999, where Lee’s granddaughter Louise Lombard returns to recover the sarcophagus for display in the London Museum.

SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011) movie review

Season of the Witch (2011) d. Sena, Dominic

High profile B-movie starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as two wisecracking thrill-killing 14th-century Knights Templar who suffer a crisis of confidence after offing one innocent victim too many and desert, only to be captured and pressed into duty transporting a young witch to a remote abbey in the hopes of ending the Black Plague.

END OF THE WORLD (1977) movie review

End of the World (1977) d. Hayes, John

As a stranded alien and the priest whose body he replicates, Christopher Lee pulls double duty in this turgid early Charles Band production, lording over six alien nuns while blackmailing nosey brainiac Kirk Scott and bride Sue Lyon into procuring the mysterious elements necessary for their return trip home. Of course, once they’ve got the goods, Lee and his sister act reveal their darker purpose: they’re really here to exterminate the Earth’s population via a series of natural disasters.

CURSE III: BLOOD SACRIFICE (aka PANGA) (1991) movie review

Curse III: Blood Sacrifice (aka Panga) (1991) d. Barton, Sean

After American émigré Jenilee Harrison’s sister halts an African tribe’s ritual sacrificing of a goat, an evil sea spirit proceeds to hack its way through the film’s white populace. As the resident doc, Christopher Lee actually tenders some substantial screen time in his supporting role, even managing a bit of Afrikanese as well as two hefty monologues. However, Harrison’s vacant, stilted acting (10 years after her stint as Suzanne Somers’ replacement on Three’s Company) doesn’t help matters, though former soccer star Henry Cele fares well as the family’s native right hand man.

THE DAY THE SKY EXPLODED (1958) movie review

Day the Sky Exploded, The (1958) d. Heusch, Paolo

When the first manned space expedition goes awry, Paul Hubschmid’s rocket ship is abandoned and exploded, resulting in a rogue collection of asteroids being diverted from their orbit around the sun. Naturally they start heading towards Earth, wreaking all kinds of weather-related havoc (tidal waves, forest fires, etc.) en route to our certain extinction.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012) movie review

House at the End of the Street (2012) d. Tonderai, Mark (USA)

Jennifer Lawrence, probably still wondering how she got roped into this, headlines as a mopey Chicago teen recently relocated to the nonspecific boonies where the kids are either misunderstood freakjobs (a thuddingly dull Max Theirrot) or hedonistic jerks (everyone else). Theirrot would probably be in the latter group as well if not for the fact that his twisted sister murdered his parents nearly a decade ago; he now resides in the murder mansion alone…right across the way from Lawrence and mom Elizabeth Shue.

FLICK (2008) movie review

Flick (2008) (1st viewing) d. Howard, David (UK)
When socially awkward London “rocker” youth Hugh O’Conor is brutally beaten at a local dance, he whips out his switchblade, makes mincemeat of half the high school populace, then flees the bloody scene only to drown when he drives his car off the closest pier. Years later, after the waterlogged vehicle is recovered, the teen thug inexplicably revives from the dead and continues his quest for vengeance against those that wronged him. (Funny how he failed to kill any of his attackers during the original spree, but be that as it may…)

JOHN DIES AT THE END (2012) movie review

John Dies at the End (2012) d. Coscarelli, Don (USA)

The writer/director of Phantasm, Beastmaster and Bubba Ho-Tep is finally back behind the camera with a deliciously dark and hilarious adaptation of David Wong’s novel about a couple of self-anointed demon hunters who uncover (and accidentally partake in) a dangerous street drug from another dimension. Having not read the source material, I’ll assume that Coscarelli has taken his freewheeling cues from there; the result being a well-suited artistic blend where the delightedly off-kilter viewer has no chance of anticipating where the next paranormal curve ball will come from.

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013) movie review

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) d. Luessenhop, John (USA)

What to say, what to say? It’s been nearly 40 years since Tobe Hooper’s original insta-classic roared onto drive-in movie screens, a low budget masterpiece that has overshadowed anything he or anyone else involved have done since. But after three middlin’ sequels of varying quality, 2003’s Platinum Dunes reboot and ensuing ’06 prequel to said reboot, there seems little point in trying to preserve the integrity of the sacred Saw. This latest studio cashgrab starts off promisingly, setting itself up as a direct sequel to the events of the 1974 flick (even having the cojones to use Hooper’s actual footage in its opening sequence), with a Law vs. Saw(yer) face-off occurring presumably not too long after that pickup truck brought Marilyn Burns’ hysterical Sally into the next Texas burg over. Cameos from Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley and John Dugan offer a little goodwill, but after local redneck Paul Rae’s lynch mob instigates a clan-crisping bloodbath inferno, we’re launched into the present day world and the whole thing goes kerplooey.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/13)

Criminey. And here I thought these Fool’s Views would just write themselves in this wonderful brave new world of automation. What a dirty gyp. Ah well, if that’s the way it’s going to be, then I guess we better get on it.

Greetings, everyone! Hope ’13 has been treating everyone well thus far. Got off to a bit of a slow start this year, due to self imposed HIDDEN HORROR editing duties (which I should be working on right now, truth be told), rehearsals, social gatherings, etc., but that seems to be the way things have historically gone. The frantic race to the end of the year, followed by the slow ramping back up as the new. “Slow,” of course, being a relative term in the Dr. AC universe.

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


Saturday, January 19, 2013

PIECES (1982) movie review

Pieces (1982) d. Simon, J.P. (Spain)

“You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!” screamed the ad line, and boy, they weren’t kidding. This legendary Spanish splatterfest doles out the gore by the bucketload, but what really sets it apart are the astonishing lapses in narrative logic and the wealth of buh-rilliantly inept performances by Christopher George, Susan Day George, Edward Purdom, Paul Smith...heck, pretty much everyone involved.

THE VISITOR (1979) movie review

Visitor, The (1979) d. Paradisi Giulio (as Michael J. Paradise) (USA/Italy)

Ovido Assonitis, the visionary behind such schlock classics as Beyond the Door, Tentacles (and supposedly a goodly portion of Piranha II: The Spawning), wrote and produced this mind-blowing epic slice of cheese featuring an A-list cast in service of a sci-fi Christian parable comprised of equal parts The Omen, The Bad Seed, Rosemary’s Baby, Ice Castles, The Birds, Close Encounters, The Star Chamber and The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh.

MUTANT HUNT (1987) movie review

Mutant Hunt (1987)
d. Kincaid, Tim (USA)

From the 80s heyday of straight-to-video lunacy comes writer/director Kincaid’s (Breeders, Robot Holocaust) tale of cyborgs-gone-wrong, with healthy doses of futuristic fashion sense, buff dudes with great hair, crappy fight choreography, illicit drug use, impressive practical gore and animatronic f/x, and dum-dum comedy to keep the gears turning. 

THE WILD HUNT (2009) movie review

Wild Hunt, The (2009) d. Franchi, Alexandre (Canada)

Terrific Canadian indie feature set in the world of LARPing (aka Live Action Role Playing, i.e. turning your average group of Dungeons and Dragons players loose in the countryside to do “battle” armed with foam swords and Renn Faire-speak). What’s most remarkable about Franchi’s script (co-written with star Mark Antony Krupa) is that it both mocks and celebrates the participants’ imagination and dedication to the fantasy world they’ve created.

ALL THE KIND STRANGERS (1974) movie review

All the Kind Strangers (1974)
d. Kennedy, Burt (USA)

Stacy Keach stars in this TV movie as a freewheeling photojournalist who offers a ride to a towheaded lad walking home from the grocery store, only to find himself trapped by a family of orphaned youngsters looking to recruit a new father figure. Seems this brood has a habit of ensnaring unsuspecting passersby and if they don’t live up to their appointed role, to the bottom of the creek they go.

THE BLOODY JUDGE (1970) movie review

The Bloody Judge (aka Night of the Blood Monster) (1970) d. Franco, Jess (Italy/Spain)

A surprisingly well-mounted combo of historical war film, adventure, love story, and misguided justice/witch hunt horror, sparked by the success of Michael Reeves' Witchfinder General. In the third of the actor’s seven collaborations with the notoriously erratic Spanish filmmaker, Lee plays the infamous real-life Lord Jeffreys, mercilessly persecuting all who oppose King James II as well as numerous comely female “witches.”

BURKE & HARE (2010) movie review

Burke & Hare (2010) d. Landis, John (UK)

“This is a true story. Except for the parts that are not.” Engaging horror/comedy about the infamous pair of 19th century Edinburgh confidence men who resort to grave robbing (and eventually bumbling murder), embodied by the superb comic team of Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis. Tom Wilkinson stars as eminent surgeon Robert Knox, complicit in the duo’s crimes in the interest of furthering science. Pegg’s Spaced co-star Jessica (formerly Stevenson) Hynes is terrific as Serkis’ conniving bawdy bride while Isla Fisher’s fetching barmaid turns on the sexy-cute in the hopes of finding a financier for her theatrical aspirations.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

PANIC (aka BAKTERION) (1982) movie review

Panic (aka Bakterion) (1982) d. Ricci, Tonio (as Anthony Richmond)

A scientist meddling in things best left alone finds himself transformed into a slobbering, melting, moaning, limping freak lurching around a small English village draining the locals of their precious bodily fluids. Superstud cop David Warbeck (playing a character called…wait for it…Captain Kirk) proceeds to run around the country tracking the invincible beast, who is now inexplicably superstrong and impervious to bullets.

HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLAN (1970) movie review


How Awful About Allan (1970)
d. Harrington, Curtis (USA)

Anthony Perkins stars as a troubled mental patient, psychosomatically blinded by guilt over having accidentally set his father on fire and scarring sister Julie Harris in the process. After being released to stay with her at the old family abode, Perkins starts to suspect their new boarder is trying to kill him (but cannot identify the assailant due to his infirmity).


Equal parts cautionary tale and gorehound primer, this "must-have" three-disc release from Severin (originally released in the UK by Nucleus Films) delivers a one-stop shop for everything relating to the UK’s shameful period of censorship in the early 1980s, where 72 horror and exploitation film titles were deemed capable of debauching the free-thinking minds of anyone who might encounter them. These were the “Video Nasties.”

THINGS (1989) movie review

Things (1989)
d. Jordan, Andrew (Canada)

Seriously, there are no words to describe the astonishing transcendent awfulness of this Canadian DIY Super-8/16mm feature. Fellow cinematic adventurer and Liquid Cheese creator Dave Kosanke and I both looked at each other when it was over and said, "I can safely say I've never seen anything like that before. And that's saying something." Absolutely one of the worst-produced films ever to see legit release, and yet, so completely ineptly terrible on every single level that you just can't stop watching.

TICKS (aka INFESTED) (1993) movie review

Ticks (aka Infested) (1993) d. Randel, Tony (USA)
Low-budget, high-entertainment offering that delivers awesome buggy goodness as promised on the marquee. Delinquent teens camping in a northern California retreat are terrorized by mutant insects created by supercharged pot plant enhancers – much scurrying and burrowing ensue.

SLUGS (1988) movie review

Slugs (1988) d. Simon, J.P. (Spain)

Simon, the maestro behind the gut-busting splatter flick Pieces, delivers another heaping helping of the red sauce, this time with toxic waste-fed gastropods doing the honors. While the line readings and WTF moments are not as abundantly plentiful, there’s enough head-shaking banana boat wackiness to keep guts chuckling and gruesome sequences to keep lunches buckling.

NIGHT FRIGHT (1967) movie review

Night Fright (1967)
d. Sullivan, James A. (USA)

The solo feature directing credit from Larry Buchanan factory member Sullivan (production manager on Eye Creatures and Curse of the Swamp Creature, cojoling the latter’s John Agar to star) opens with a report of an innocent UFO sighting, but before long bodies are littering the landscape. The culprit: a hapless ape gone blood crazy after being exposed to cosmic rays as part of a deep space experiment. (We rarely get a good look at the “monster,” a wise decision since it’s clearly little more than a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a dinosaurized faceplate.) 

DEMONS OF THE MIND (1972) movie review

Demons of the Mind (1972)
d. Sykes, Peter (UK)
As Hammer struggled to keep pace with the times, it conjured this odd little Gothic curiosity piece focused on the twisted goings-on of the Zorn family and their supposedly cursed bloodline. Robert Hardy (best known as the elder vet on All Creatures Great and Small) is the doomed patriarch who keeps his young adult children (Shane Briant, Gillian Hills) secreted away from the world, fearing for their safety...or is it the safety of others he is concerned with?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Civilian 2012 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!

Back again!

Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it seems only fair to give the civilian flicks a moment in the sun, seeing as how they composed nearly half the total Views this year. As before, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2012 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with my top picks denoted with an asterisk.(*)

2012 Totals: 607 films, 520 1st time views, 362 horror, 166 cinema

(2011 Totals: 640, 419, 355, 59)
(2010 Totals: 364, 253, 242, 45)
(2009 Totals: 472, 276, 289, 38)
(2008 Totals: 384, 278, 226, 39)
(2007 Totals: 409, 284, 260, 40)


Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) *
Better Life, A (2011)
Django Unchained (2012)
Headhunters (2011)
Lincoln (2012)
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Raid: Redemption, The (2011) *
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Skyfall (2012)