Friday, October 9, 2015


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched: 4
Total Movies Watched: 29
Total First Time Views: 14
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $501.70

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2015 (benefiting PLANNED PARENTHOOD and GREENHOUSE SHELTER) at any time, drop me an email at to say how much you would like to pledge. Your donation is tax deductible and, seriously, even a penny per film helps.

Hands of Steel (aka Atomic Cyborg) (1986) d. Martino, Sergio (Italy) (1st viewing) 94 min

A superbuff cyborg assassin, inexplicably named Paco Queruak (Daniel Green), is directed to do away with an eminent scientist, but when it grows a conscience at the moment of truth, the big musclegearhead is subsequently hunted down by John Saxon’s eeeeeeeeevil corporation. One of countless Terminator knockoffs in the mid-80s, this one turns our monster into the hero, a Frankenstein tale complete with romantic interests (Janet Agren), gunfights with automatic weapons, arm wrestling contests, and Italian exploitation staple George Eastman. Probably more sci-fi action than full-on horror, but there are a few solid head crushes and a snake gets karate chopped in half, so let’s give it a pass, shall we? Music by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti.

The Manster (1959) d. Breakstone, George P. / Crane, Kenneth G. (Japan/USA) (2nd viewing) 72 min

American foreign correspondent Larry Stanford (Peter Dyneley), stationed in Japan, is assigned the fluff story of scientist Dr. Susuki’s (Satoshi Nakamura) latest experiments in cosmic rays and mutations. Unfortunately, the amoral test tuber decides to recruit the unwitting Yank into the mix, injecting him with the latest batch of wackadoo juice and then setting his comely assistant Tara (Terri Zimmern) to keep him in country with her feminine wiles. As Larry starts to slowly transform into a beast heretofore unknown – beginning with a hairy hand and an eyesore of a growth on his right shoulder – his faithful wife (Jane Hylton) arrives from the States to bring her man home, in whatever condition he might be. Decidedly low budget monster movie somehow maintains an eerie sense of dread and mystery throughout, despite the goofy two-headed makeup and half-baked thesping.

Kaw (2007) d. Wilson, Sheldon (USA/Canada) (1st viewing) 92 min

The ravens are flying in this redux of The Birds, complete with that film's stat, Rod Taylor, in a supporting turn as the resident country doc. Sean Patrick Flanery makes the best of it as the local badge, waving his arms around at invisible aviarians to be later added digitally, while Stephen McHattie grumbles and growses as a barrel-bottom school bus driver. There’s also the ridiculous representation of De Cherman Acksented Mennonites, with even more ridiculous fake chinstrap beards, taking issue with the way the “English” live their sinful lives. The footage of real birds in action is actually quite effective; the crappy CGI bird footage is reallllly crappy. Question: if you’re going to make a point of them being ravens instead of crows, then why title the movie after the latter’s distinctive call? It’d be like calling a movie about killer buffalos Muuuu. Misses the point of Hitchcock's classic by explaining the attacks (mad cow disease), and then tacks on a lame "gotcha" ending.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) d. Robitel, Adam (USA) (1st viewing) 90 min

When this title was floating around last year, I took it for a kidnapping thriller a la The Disappearance of Alice Creed. But then it started showing up on many of my compatriots’ year-end Top 10 Horror Lists, and while I took my sweet time in catching up, it was never far from my mind. Having finally engaged with it firsthand, I concur that it deserves its plaudits. An elderly woman, stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease, finds her weakened mental state makes her susceptible to spiritual attacks, and lucky us, a college film crew just happens to be on hand to document the fantastic events as they unfold. Yes, it’s another found footage offering, but it commits fewer sins common to the subgenre (i.e. the completed project actually makes logical sense both in the capturing and assembling of the footage). The performances are all strong, especially All My Children vet Jill Larson as the tortured titular protagonist and Anne Ramsay as her troubled offspring, desperate to find answers. Produced by Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects).

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