Friday, May 30, 2014

COUNTESS DRACULA (1971) Blu-ray Review

Countess Dracula (1971) d. Peter Sasdy (UK)

Despite the slightly misleading title (no actual bloodsuckers ever show up), there is one very good reason to check out Synapse’s latest DVD/BR release of Countess Dracula and her name is Ingrid Pitt. Though the previous year’s The Vampire Lovers will likely remain her greatest onscreen triumph within the eyes of the horror faithful, the buxom and charismatic Polish-born actress sinks her unfanged teeth into the role of the notorious real-life Erzebet Bathory (or Elisabeth Nadasdy, as she’s called here) with equal gusto.

HOUSE IN THE ALLEY (2012) DVD review

House in the Alley (2012) Le-Van Kiet (Vietnam)

Following very messy, very bloody miscarriage, the lives of Thao (Thanh Van Ngo) and her well-meaning husband Thanh (Son Bao Tran) are shattered. Wracked with grief, Thao refuses to bury her baby’s body, the small coffin assuming a place of greater significance and gravity in the young couple’s bedroom as the days and weeks roll by. Thanh does his best to bolster his wife’s spirits, but he’s got his hands full with striking factory workers and a ball-busting mother/boss Nga (Bich Hang Tran), not to mention the strange children’s voices and the ghostly owners thereof he keeps seeing and hearing in and around the titular abode.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) Blu-ray Review

Sleepaway Camp (1983) d. Robert Hiltzik (USA)

The phrase “You can never watch the same movie twice” is one that I’ve used many a time to describe my shifting cinematic perceptions from one viewing to the next. The films don’t change, but as I continue to grow (I wouldn’t go so far as to say “mature”) and consume greater varieties of the wild and woolly, my entertainment palate waxes and wanes like the October moon. Pieces of celluloid gold turn to muck monsters upon revisit while crapfests become craptastic as familiarity breeds contentment. Case in point, when I first got around to seeing Robert Hiltzik’s late-phase slasher on video in 2004, I pretty much tore it to pieces, naming the WTF ending its only redeeming feature.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fool's Views (4/21 – 5/4)

Howdy folks,

This period represents the relative calm before the storm that was the Chicago Critics Film Festival and the avalanche of DVD/BR screeners that came my way in early May. A mixed bag with some amazing highs and lows, blockbuster to microbudget, from art-house to multiplex to ancient VHS to YouTube. Life is good.

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


SCANNERS (1981) movie review

Scanners (1981) d. David Cronenberg (Canada)

Convoluted yet compelling sci-fi tale from the unique imagination of writer/director David Cronenberg. Through an experimental drug given to pregnant mothers, a new race of psychic and telekinetic mutants emerges, and some of them just aren’t very nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

MR. JONES (2013) Blu-ray Review

Mr. Jones (2013) d. Karl Mueller (USA)

A young couple decide to drop out of society for a spell, retreating to a, wait for it, remote cabin in the woods where Scott (Jon Foster) plans to shoot the “ultimate nature documentary” with himself as the director/star. His inspiration is short-lived; the would-be auteur finds himself simply wandering around, sitting around, laying around, and just generally ticking off Penny (Sarah Jones) with his aimlessness. The discovery of a mysterious artist’s isolated abode, filled with terrifying scarecrow-like effigies, sparks visions of fame and fortune at sharing the notorious Salinger-esque hermit’s story, but some stories aren’t meant to be told....

CLOVERFIELD (2008) movie review

Cloverfield (2008) d. Matt Reeves (USA)

Produced by J.J. Abrams – who thankfully kept his lens-flare loving hands to himself – this hair-raising, motion sickness-causing creature feature utilizes the “found footage” gimmick (before it was mercilessly beaten into the ground in the wake of Paranormal Activity’s huge success the next year) to follow a handful of hipsters (Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman) as they try to survive a towering interloper’s surprise assault on Manhattan.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

FINAL EXAM (1981) Blu-ray Review

Final Exam (1981) d. Jimmy Huston (USA)

Released during the thick of the stalk n’ slash heyday, the setting for writer/director Huston’s seemingly standard programmer is that most popular of locales, a college campus, with an assortment of nubile characters trotted out for the slaughter at the hands of a homicidal maniac. However, Final Exam has a few tricks up its sleeve; whether fans will appreciate said deviations from the norm is another question altogether.

Friday, May 9, 2014

EVILSPEAK (1981) Blu-ray Review

Evilspeak (1981) d. Eric Weston (USA)

Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard) doesn’t have it easy. His parents were killed in an automobile accident, he’s a bit on the awkward and overweight side, he’s stuck at a military academy with a bumper crop of sadistic bullying jerkwads, the school authorities all think he’s a whiny sob story, and he’s assigned the most menial tasks conceivable, including mucking out the pigpen and cleaning up the chapel’s cavernous basement. It’s during the latter labor that he stumbles across an ancient book of spells, one which may reveal the power to revive the spirit of fallen 16th-century priest Father Esteban (Richard Moll), renowned for his knowledge of the dark arts and gleeful beheadings.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fool's Views (4/14 – 4/20)

So, how have those bee pollen supplements have been working out for you....?

Howdy, folks,

In a callback to the good ol’ days, it was Kitley’s Krypt and the Chicago Public Library that dictated the majority of this week’s viewings. Army duties and an impromptu Sunday afternoon Share the Scare session (accompanied by Film Deviant wunderkind Bryan Martinez) served up the frights, while CPL impulse checkouts handled civilian duties.

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


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Having traveled over hill, dale, oceans, and international borders over the past couple years, I've become a very big fan of the film festival scene. However, for the second year in a row, The Doc doesn't have to travel any further than his own backyard to get that special slice of pre-release big-screen cinematic goodness. It's time again for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, taking place May 9 - 15 at the historic Music Box Theatre!

Created in 2013 by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), with a program that included Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, Emily Hagins’ Grow Up, Tony Phillips, Katie Aselton’s Black Rock, Jonathan Levine’s All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Jason Lapeyre & Robert Wilson’s I Declare War, James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, and the remastered director’s cut of William Friedkin’s Sorcerer, the Chicago Critics Film Festival offers another cornucopia of films comprised of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers. The CCFF is the ONLY current example of a major film critics group hosting its own festival (Go Chicago!!!), showcasing works from around the globe and from all genres.

For horror fans, this year's lineup features some impressive Windy City debuts, including Housebound (which recently won the Audience Award at Scotland's Dead By Dawn Festival), Bobcat Goldthwait's found-footage Bigfoot flick Willow Creek, Tommy Wirkola's follow-up to his 2009 Nazi zombie hit, Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead, and Elijah Drenner's celebration of the life and career of one of Hollywood's best-loved character actors, That Guy Dick Miller (shown as a double feature with Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood, one of Miller's rare leading turns).

David Wain, Bobcat Goldthwait, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, David Dastmalchian, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Collin Schiffli and Dick Miller are among the special guests slated to attend.

Festival passes and individual tickets can be acquired by visiting the Music Box box office or online HERE

$150 = Full Festival Pass + Closing Night Party (May 9-15)
$100 = Weekend Pass (Fri-Sun – May 9-11)
$75 = Weekday Pass + Closing Night Party (Mon-Thurs – May 12-15)


To learn more about the Chicago Critics Film Festival, or the individual films, visit

Full Schedule below:

Friday, May 2, 2014

HIDDEN HORROR News and Reviews, Part IV!!!!

Waldemar says, "HIDDEN HORROR makes great bedtime reading!"

Howdy, folks,

It's an incredible thing to put something out into the world. You toil away at it in private, tinkering and tweaking, making little compromises, continuing to nudge it in the direction you want it to go. It's never exactly how you envisioned it, but at some point, you finally just say, "Enough."

For HIDDEN HORROR and all its contributors, that day was December 30, 2013, the day we all let go of the string and watched our bloody balloon sail off into parts unknown. We hoped others would love it as much as we did, that they would understand our love for the genre's misfit toys and join in the party. But, of course, there was no guarantee that they would.

So, we watched.

And waited...

And then the reviews started coming in.

And they liked us. They really, really liked us.

Which is pretty darn awesome.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

TIME LAPSE (2014) movie review

Time Lapse (2014) d. Bradley King (USA)

Blocked artist Finn (Matt O’Leary), his devoted girlfriend Callie (Danielle Panabaker), and his layabout pal Jasper (George Finn) are all semi-happily co-habitating, enduring the usual challenges of paying rent and finding fulfillment in their everyday twentysomething lives. But when they discover that their recently deceased housing-complex neighbor has been spying on them with an enormous and strange device that spits out Polaroid photos depicting events 24 hours in the future, their humdrum lives are turned upside down, inside out, and back to front as the desire to exploit their newly found toy slowly, inexorably takes hold.