Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CANDYMAN (1992) movie review

Candyman (1992) d. Bernard Rose (USA)

Chicago grad student Virginia Madsen is working on her “urban legends” thesis and uncovers the tale of Candyman, a wrongfully murdered black artist with a hook for a hand, who appears if you say his name in a mirror five times. Of course, Madsen tries it out for herself, only to find that the avenging spirit is all too real and that his hook is all too sharp. Several gory slayings ensue, all of which seem to implicate our heroine, who slips further and further into madness.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Fool's Views (12/2 – 12/15)

"You've only watched HOW many movie this year???  Get ON with it..."

Howdy folks,

Running out of 2013 to work with here, so I'm going to keep the preambling to a minimum. These two weeks represented a hectic time of doing the last passes on HIDDEN HORROR (now available on Amazon), so I let Shout! Factory be my programming guide (at least as far as horror went) while the civilian viewings represented flicks that I'd been toting around for the better part of two years wondering when I would ever get to them. Luckily, all proved to be well worth my while.

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


ZOMBIE HAMLET (2012) movie review

Zombie Hamlet (2012) d. John Murlowski (USA)

First time director Osric Taylor (Travis Wester), hot off the success of his Planet of the Apes-inspired fast food chicken commercial, lands a deal to helm his longtime vision of Hamlet set during the Civil War. Unfortunately, as soon as things get underway, financing falls through and the decision is made to capitalize on the current zombie craze in order to secure additional funds. This bizarre creative compromise is only the first of many that Taylor must undergo to get the Bard in the can, including hiring a C-list action star (Jason Mewes) and the adorable but dim-witted niece (Emmalee Wilson) of the primary investor (June Lockhart) to assay the lead roles.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

RAZE (2013) movie review

Raze (2013) d. Josh C. Waller  (USA)

Two attractive women clad in white tank tops and gray sweatpants stand opposite one another inside a cylindrical brick room. The blinking red lights of surveillance cameras flicker in counterpoint to their panting as each sizes the other up. Then, without warning, they proceed to pound, punch, kick, pull, choke, slap, bite, and savage one another’s bodies until one lies dead and bleeding on the dirt floor. This scenario plays out over and over (and over) again in director Josh Waller’s feature debut, a film that resembles a live-action 90-minute Mortal Kombat video game session, only with more blood, tears, camera angles, and flash cuts (and only slightly more exposition).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

HERE COMES THE DEVIL (2012) movie review

Here Comes the Devil (2012) d. Adrián García Bogliano (Mexico/US)

A young Mexican couple (Francisco Barreiro, Laura Caro) takes a weekend jaunt to Tijuana with their two adolescent children (Alan Martinez, Michele Garcia). In a scene that recalls Peter Weir’s fascinating and haunting Picnic at Hanging Rock, the bored youngsters venture up a rocky hill, disappearing into a dark cave. As dusk falls and their offspring fail to return, the panicked parents call the police, haunted by guilt as they spend a sleepless, blame-filled night in a seedy hotel nearby. The next morning, the cops arrive with the kids in tow, but something is off – they seem distant, traumatized. Over the week that follows, the family is slowly torn asunder by dark forces from both within and without.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Interview with THE BATTERY director Jeremy Gardner!!

Every so often, horror fans encounter an independent venture that make us want to collectively stand up and cheer. Writer/star Jeremy Gardner’s directorial debut, The Battery (debuting Sept 16, 2014 on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory) is one of those films.

Forget the zombie trappings. Forget that it was made for $6K. Forget that it contains no major stars or studio backing or that you probably never heard of it before it started showing up on everyone’s “Best of 2013” lists. Just watch and revel in the breathtaking creativity, intelligence, resilience and filmmaking savvy on display. The Battery is the kind of microbudget horror effort that provides as much offscreen inspiration as it does onscreen entertainment.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CRAWLSPACE (1986) Blu-ray review

Crawlspace (1986) d. David Schmoeller (USA)

Despite having the estimable FX talents of John Carl Beuchler and John Vulich among the ranks, the greatest special effect in this mid-80s shocker from executive producer Charles Band’s Empire Pictures is its wackadoo headliner, Klaus Kinski. The Poland-born star commands every onscreen moment as the offspring of a notorious Nazi doctor, now living a quiet life as the landlord of a apartment building who spends his times spying on his exclusively female tenants and every so often – when they get too nosey – bumping them off with elaborate mechanical traps. Each murder is followed by a round of Russian Roulette, and – after clicking upon an empty chamber – the chilling whisper, “So be it.” Out goes the “For Rent” sign and in come the fresh victims.

THE BEAST WITHIN (1982) Blu-ray Review

Beast Within, The (1982) d. Philippe Mora (USA)

Lensed before (but released after) the shapeshifting one-two punch of The Howling and An American Werewolf in London, this bladder-blasting freakshow first entered my consciousness – as it did for many a youthful fright fan – via its terrifying and evocative poster art. (If anyone knows who the artist is, please drop me a line and let me know!) I assumed, as many did, that it was another lycanthrope movie, only to find out years later that the titular beast was, ahem, a giant were-cicada.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Initiation of Sarah, The (1978) d. Robert Day (USA)

It's easy to see why this this late-'70s TV-movie has been historically categorized as a low-fi rip-off of Brian De Palma's stellar screen version of Carrie, released two years prior to much critical and commercial acclaim. Both feature ugly duckling female teen protagonists with pyschic abilities, both have snotty popular cliques tormenting our hapless heroine, both have "beautiful swan" moments that end in humiliation, and both conclude with fiery climaxes of death and destruction. It's probably not too much of a stretch to say that the walking orders for screenwriters Don Ingalls, Kenette Gfeller, and Carol Saraceno (who wrote the original screen story with genre veteran-to-be Tom Holland) were to "crank out something along the lines of Stephen King's novel while making enough changes to avoid any legal proceedings." That said, The Initiation of Sarah still manages to be a fairly entertaining slice of mainstream fright fare.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fool's Views (11/25 - 12/1) (with Turkey!)

Howdy, folks,

With HIDDEN HORROR is about to take flight, Noises Off destroying Milwaukee audiences with unfettered hilarity, and a certain holiday celebrating thankfulness (followed by the annual pilgrimage to Kitley’s Krypt to assault eyes, brains, and stomachs known as Turkey Day), it turned out to be a good week for the Views. Like any self-respecting Thanksgiving feast, a balanced menu of horror and civilian offerings left me satisfied and built up my appetite for the remainder of the year. Doubtful we’ll reach to our usual 400+ films/year ratio, but I’m confident we’ll break 300; considering the bounty of offscreen adventures in 2013, that’s a tally I can live with.

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


Thursday, December 5, 2013

THE LOCH NESS HORROR (1981) movie review

Loch Ness Horror, The (1981) d. Larry Buchanan (USA)

Buchanan, having given us The Eye Creatures, The Naked Witch, and Zontar, the Thing from Venus, rings down the curtain on his genre efforts with this sublimely awful adventuRRRRRRRe yaRRRRRRRRn of a bRRRRRRash young AmeRRRRican (Barry Buchanan, son of Himself) coming to Scotland with his newfangled sonaRRRRRR to discoveRRRRRR the tRRRRRRuth behind the mysteRRRRRRy of the monsteRRRRRRR known as Nessie. He is aided in his effoRRRRRts by a bRRRRRave young lass (Miki McKenzie), heRRRRR gRRRRRRRouchy old gRRRRRAndfatheRRRRRR (Doc Livingston), and a local natuRRRRRalist (Sandy Kenyon), all of whom have wildly vaRRRRRRRying degRRRRRees of Scottish bRRRRRougue.

FRANKENSTEIN'S ISLAND (1981) movie review

Frankenstein's Island (1981) d. Jerry Warren (USA)

When you see a cast list comprised of Steve Brodie (The Giant Spider Invasion), Robert Clarke (The Hideous Sun Demon), Cameron Mitchell (Toolbox Murders, Silent Scream) and John Carradine (every movie ever made), your optimism might rise in spite of - or because of - the low IMDb rating (1.9!) and the presence of below-decks dreck merchant Jerry Warren. Lest ye be fooled, as I was, heede my warning: Abandon all hope and brain cells, ye who enter heere.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (aka Dracula contra Frankenstein) (1972) d. Jess Franco (Spain)

This is Franco in his “I ain’t got no money, but I got some actors and a castle to play in” prime. The “script” makes absolutely no sense at all, with Dr. Frankenstein (Dennis Price) deciding to revive Dracula (Howard Vernon) for no other reason than to, um, have a vampire around? Somehow, this is also supposed to prove that he has mastered the bridge between life and death, but he also delights in the fact that the Count seeks out a semi-crazed artist (Genevieve Robert) and turns her into an undead as well. (As one of my fellow viewers noted, “That guy writes 'Success!' on every page of his diary.”)

THE ATOMIC BRAIN (1963) movie review

Atomic Brain, The (aka Monstrosity) (1963) d. Joseph Mascelli (USA)

A mysterious scientist (Frank Gerstle) is revealed to be messing around with mysterious practices in his aging landlady’s Los Angeles basement, the ultimate goal being to transplant her gray matter into a fresh new body. To this purpose, they have sought out the services of three international housemaids/potential donors, hailing from Mexico (Lisa Lang), Austria (Erika Peters) and jolly olde England (Judy Bamber).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

SATURN 3 (1980) DVD/Blu-ray Review

Saturn 3 (1980) d. Stanley Donen (UK)

A pair of botanists (Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas), manning an experimental agricultural outpost on one of Saturn’s moons, is visited by a stiff-necked military gent (Harvey Keitel) bearing lots of attitude and a revolutionary new robot, Hector. Powered by strange colored liquids, electricity, and a huge tube of human gray matter, the android is designed to replace one or both of the current residents to increase productivity and feed a starving Mother Earth. But, as so often happens in movies of this sort, malfunctions occur during the programming stage – turns out our metal guest has a direct feed into the roughneck’s psychopathic nature, and both have a yen for the fairer sex. With communications blocked due to a solar eclipse, the battle of man vs. machine vs. man will be waged for the love of a beautiful blonde.

Monday, December 2, 2013

THE HORROR SHOW (1989) DVD/Blu-ray Review

Horror Show, The (1989) d. James Isaac (USA)

When word rolled around that Shout! Factory would be releasing a Lance Henriksen/Brion James horror flick from the late 80s, I was honestly perplexed at my ignorance of this title’s existence. I mean, I’ve seen a few movies in my time and of those that I haven’t seen, there’s usually a blip on the radar either through having seen the box art while combing the local video store’s aisles (pardon me while I weep for this younger generation that will never experience such pleasures) or reading back issues of various genre mags. After a bit of research, I realized I actually had heard of it, but under its international distribution title: House III: The Horror Show. Sean S. Cunningham, who produced the first two House films, explains on the audio commentary track that the foreign markets were more interested in the branding than the film. So, even though it bore no relation to its predecessors and doesn’t actually deal with a haunted house (unless you count Henriksen’s chatty furnace), The Horror Show became the third installment in the franchise for overseas distribution (leading to some confusion for U.S. audiences when Cunningham decided to make House IV in 1992).