Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DARK HARVEST (1992) DVD review

Dark Harvest (1992) d. Nicholson, James I. (USA) (1st viewing) 89 min

This may be the top-billed offering for Intervision’s double feature DVD, but while it leads the way in terms of low-budget nudity (really, almost everyone takes their top off here) and a few gore moments, it falls way, WAY short of its poor relation (the Vincent Price-hosted omnibus effort Escapes, which appears as a bonus) as a coherent slice of entertainment. Seriously, this does nothing to dispel the myth that most killer scarecrow movies flat-out suck. Because Dark Harvest flat-out sucks.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) Blu-ray review

Dawn of the Dead (2004) d. Snyder, Zack (USA) (3rd viewing) 110 min

“The world is in danger when a mysterious virus turns people into mindless, flesh-eating zombies. In a mall in the heartland, a handful of survivors wage a desperate, last-stand battle to stay alive ... and human!”

Sound familiar? To be fair, when Snyder’s remake of George A. Romero’s 1978 classic was first announced, the landscape was not cluttered with undead onscreen shamblers everywhere. In fact, with the exception of 28 Days Later and Resident Evil (both 2002), zombies were kind of, well, dead. But with the success of this worthwhile reboot, which in turn sparked Romero’s own return to the fray (for better or worse) with Land of the Dead later the following year, the stage was set for all manner of rotters, microbudget to blockbuster, and the face of horror would never be the same.

Monday, October 30, 2017

ESCAPES (1986) DVD review

Escapes (1986) d. Steensland, David (USA) (1st viewing) 87 min

You gotta meta-love it when a character in the movie you’re watching mirrors your own experience by describing the movie he’s about to watch onscreen to a friend on the phone as, “I don’t know where this movie came from. It’s got Vincent Price in it. It’s called Escapes.” Appearing as a bonus feature on Intervision’s recent release of the 90s SOV killer scarecrow flick Dark Harvest, chances are that most viewers will have the exact same assessment and will probably watch it with the same “Oh, what the hell, why not” attitude that both the aforementioned onscreen character Matthew Wilson (Todd Fulton) and your humble reviewer did.


Beyond the Seventh Door (1987) d. Benedikt, Bozidar (Canada) (1st viewing) 83 min

Upon learning that her boss is a certain moneyed Lord Breston (Gary Freedman), recently released thief Boris (Lazar Rockwood) hits upon the idea of having his ex-girlfriend Wendy (Bonnie Beck) get him into the mansion to make a quick buck. But Breston has taken more than a few precautions, having designed an elaborate series of puzzle traps that the unsuspecting duo must navigate – before long it becomes a question not whether they will escape with the loot ... but rather with their lives.

MADHOUSE (1981) Blu-ray review

Madhouse (1981) d. Assonitis, Ovido (Italy) (1st viewing) 92 min

Julia (Trish Everly) has spent her entire adult life trying to forget the torment she suffered at the hands of her twisted twin Mary (Allison Biggers)... but Mary hasn't forgotten. Escaping the hospital where she's recently been admitted with a horrific, disfiguring illness, Julia's sadistic sister vows to exact a particularly cruel revenge on her sibling this year, promising a birthday surprise that she'll never forget.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

THE ZODIAC KILLER (1971) Blu-ray review

The Zodiac Killer (1971) d. Hanson, Tom (USA) (1st viewing) 87 min

Creating a movie about a serial killer while said serial killer is still at large and still very much active is a strange and exploitative notion indeed, but producer/director Hanson’s backstory further wrinkles the equation. The owner of a chain of slowly-going-bankrupt Pizza Man restaurants claimed (and continues to claim on the audio commentary track for the American Genre Film Archive aka AGFA’s blu-ray release) that his reason for the film’s genesis was that he hoped to catch the murderer, suspecting that the killer would not be able to resist the urge to watch his (or her) exploits dramatized on the big screen. It was a wild scheme, but it’s somewhat charming to believe - however unlikely - that altruism could actually coincide with exploitation.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TONIGHT SHE COMES (2016) movie review

Tonight She Comes (2016) d. Stuertz, Matt (USA) (2nd viewing) 84 min.

Rural mailman James (Nathan Eswine), just finishing up his rounds, drops his buddy Pete (Adam Hartley) off on the side of the road to answer the call of nature while he makes one last delivery: dropping a letter off at the (wait for it) remote cabin in the woods where party girls Ashley (Larissa White) and Lindsey (Cameisha Cotton) are planning to meet their pal Kristy (Dal Nicole) for a little weekend of R&R. Unbeknownst to anyone, Kristy’s body has been tasked with hosting an unholy spirit and is now wandering the bucolic outdoors in the buff, a lethal pawn in a mystical ritual set into motion by a bizarre backwoods family (Frankie Ray, Brock Russell, Jenna McDonald).

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

FEED THE LIGHT (2014) Blu-ray review

Feed the Light (2014) d. Möller, Fredrik (Sweden) (1st viewing) 81 min

After losing custody of her daughter, Sara (Lina Sunden) learns that her ex-husband (Patrik Karlson) has disappeared with the child into some strange religious underground (both literally and figuratively) compound. She infiltrates the sect by getting hired as part of the cleaning crew, a plot device that would seem flimsy if not for the fact that it quickly becomes clear that no normal person would want this job: not only is she required to yield her cell phone (and any other means of contact) to the buttoned-down boss (Jenny Lampa), the interview takes place in a room with a naked dog-man (Morgan Schagerberg) crouched in the corner, and her job duties include sweeping up invisible sparkling dust that gathers under the various light sources.

Monday, October 23, 2017

WESTWORLD (1973) movie review

Westworld (1973) d. Crichton, Michael (USA) (7th viewing) 88 min

Located in the middle of some unspecified far-off location in the not-too-distant future, the latest revolution in escapist vacations is realized in the form of Delos, an immersive amusement park comprised of three different sections: Romanworld, Medievalworld, and Westernworld. As one might surmise, the different parks are themed accordingly, depending on whether your wardrobe tastes lean toward togas, chain mail, or leather chaps, and preferred activities being orgies, jousting, or gunslinging. In addition to the other guests, attendees are surrounded by anatomically correct robots happy to accommodate every wish, be it of a salacious or homicidal nature. Every fantasy is fulfilled and every safeguard has been put in place – what could go wrong?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

THE GLASS COFFIN (2016) DVD review

The Glass Coffin (2016) d. Zubillaga, Haritz (Spain) (1st viewing) 77 min

On her way to receive a lifetime achievement award, acclaimed actress Amanda (Paola Bontempi) finds herself rerouted into a world of humiliation and pain when her limousine is commandeered by a stranger, one with an axe to grind and the means (and desire) to wield it. The cavernous luxury vehicle, the epitome of opulence and privilege, is transformed into the world’s most posh rolling torture chamber, as the increasingly desperate thespian attempts to reason with the disembodied voice (conveyed, appropriately enough, through a voice modulator akin to Saw’s “I want to play a game.”) transmitting through the multitude of widescreen TV screens, as well as the masked chauffeur ready to obey his master’s cruel commands.

Friday, October 20, 2017

BEYOND THE GATES (2016) Blu-ray review

Beyond the Gates (2016) d. Stewart, Jackson (USA) (1st viewing) 82 min

When their video store-owning father goes missing, two brothers (Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson) are tasked with handling his affairs. Amidst the clutter, they come across a strange relic from the 1980s in the form of an old board game that uses a VHS tape to provide cues and moves. Upon popping it into the ancient player, a strange onscreen hostess (Barbara Crampton) begins to dictate commands that feel a little too organic to be pre-recorded. Soon they, along with the elder brother’s girlfriend (Brea Grant), are sucked into another dimension where the line between reality and nightmare becomes as blurry and fuzzy as the old-school 1/2" magnetic tape itself.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Children of the Night (aka Limbo) (2014) d. Noel, Ivan (Argentina) 100 min

A journalist (Sabrina Ramos) visits a secluded orphanage where the occupants suffer from an unnamed condition that makes them sensitive to daylight. Upon doing a little digging, she is shocked to learn first that these are all “missing children,” and even more so once it is revealed that they are in fact not kids, but (gasp!) vampires ranging in age from 4 to 120 years old who have been bitten at an early age, forever arrested in their youthful physical state.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WHAT WE BECOME (2016) Blu-ray review

What We Become (aka Sorgenfri) (2016) d. Mikkelsen, Bo (Denmark) (1st viewing) 81 min

I don’t want to pull the lazy critic card, but there’s not really much to say about this lean little zombie movie from the land of murderous Shakespearean princes and delicious spiral pastries except that it’s an excellent and utterly derivative undead shambler opus whose most distinguishing feature is that all of the characters are speaking Danish.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THE GHOUL (2016) Blu-ray review

The Ghoul (2016) d. Tunley, Gareth (UK) (1st viewing) 85 min

A homicide detective (Tom Meetan) is called to London to investigate a strange double murder wherein both victims are reported to have continued moving towards their assailant despite multiple gunshots to the face and chest. With the help of his former lover (Alice Lowe), he decides to go undercover as a patient to investigate the suspect's psychotherapist (Niamh Cusack), but soon discovers that Nietzsche knew what he was talking about when he warned against looking into the abyss too long….

THE HARVEST (2013) Blu-ray review

The Harvest (2013) d. McNaughton, John (USA) (1st viewing) 104 min

Recently relocated to her grandparents’ home following her parents’ death, lonely teenager Maryann (Natasha Calis) strikes up a random friendship with an unfortunate, bed-ridden lad (Charlie Tahan) stricken with a mysterious illness. Unfortunately for the two lost souls, his parents (Samantha Morton, Michael Shannon) shut down the play-dates in a hurry, clearly concerned with keeping an unspoken, perhaps sinister secret safe from the world.

Monday, October 16, 2017

BEYOND THE DARKNESS (aka BUIO OMEGA) (1979) Blu-ray review

Beyond the Darkness (aka Buio Omega) (1979) d. D’Amato, Joe (Italy) (3rd viewing) 94 min

In this unquestionably gruesome yet surprisingly accomplished and entertaining yarn by D’Amato (Anthropophagus, Ator the Fighting Eagle), reclusive rich young taxidermist Frank (Kieran Canter) steals his recently deceased girlfriend’s body (Cinzia Monreale) from the cemetery so he can embalm her and keep her around. As fate would have it, the out-of-the-way cottage becomes a high traffic route for attractive young female visitors who must meet their grisly end when they poke their noses where they don’t belong.

THE OTHER HELL (1980) Blu-ray review

The Other Hell (1980) d. Mattei, Bruno (Italy) (1st viewing) 88 min

Back in the day when he and fellow countryman and schlock merchant Claudio Fragasso (Rats: Nights of Terror, Troll 2) would pretty much wander back and forth between each other’s sets and trade off directing scenes, Mattei conjured this outrageous slice of Nunsploitation that does it utmost to shock and awe and urggghhhh at every turn.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959) d. Freda, Riccardo/Bava, Mario (Italy) (2nd viewing) 78 min

Led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale, Circus of Horrors), a team of archaeologists descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the unfortunate adventurers get more than they bargained for when their investigation of a sacrificial pool awakens the monster that dwells beneath its waters - the fearsome and malevolent (and radioactive!) god Caltiki.

FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (1971) Blu-ray review

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) d. Argento, Dario (Italy) (2nd viewing) 99 min.

Swinging rock drummer Roberto (Michael Brandon) finds himself the target of a maniac, stalking him relentlessly, driving him emotionally and mentally to the brink of sanity. Implicated in the accidental stabbing of a shadowy figure (a set-up cleverly captured on camera by the masked psychopath), the tortured musician seeks out assistance from a gay detective (Jean-Pierre Marielle) and his sympathetic wife (Mimsy Farmer), only to find the noose tightening further around his figurative neck.

Friday, October 13, 2017

THE CAT O' NINE TAILS (1971) Blu-ray review

The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) d. Argento, Dario (Italy) (2nd viewing) 112 min.

With the exception of a couple of nasty stranglings and a gnarly train-running-over-a-guy sequence, this relatively bloodless thriller represents the second installment in what has come to be known as Argento’s “animals trilogy” that began with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and concludes with Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Which is not to say that it doesn’t do a dandy job of keeping viewers on their toes following the twists and turns of a murderer targeting an experimental medical research facility that might be on the verge of a breakthrough discovery, even if its somewhat lengthy running time might challenge patience at times.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) d. Argento, Dario (Italy) (2nd viewing) 98 min

Having served his time in the cinematic trenches both as a film critic and a screenwriter (notably collaborating with Bernardo Bertolucci on Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West), the man who would become known as “The Italian Hitchcock” made his directorial debut with this snappy little giallo, the success of which cemented his path within the genre. Admittedly, there are only a few moments of outright horror and/or gore, but the newcomer’s sharp grasp of tension, atmosphere, camerawork, and pacing are beyond reproach in this telling of a vacationing American (Tony Musante) who on his last day abroad witnesses an attempted murder in an art gallery and is detained to help solve the mystery.

Monday, October 9, 2017

THE DEVIL'S HONEY (1986) Blu-ray review

The Devil’s Honey (1986) d. Fulci, Lucio (Italy) (2nd viewing) 83 min

The first 20 minutes of this erotic thriller from Fulci are outrageously soapy and naughty, packed with oodles of nudity and sex (including a howler of a sequence where our saxophone-playing hero (Stefano Madino) gives his lady fair (Blanca Marsillach, sister of Cristina, star of Dario Argento’s Opera) a “blow job” that must be seen to be believed. But after her tune-tooting tease dies on the operating table following a motorcycle accident, she decides to wreak vengeance upon the doctor (Brett Halsey, Return of the Fly) who failed to save her paramour’s life, not knowing that the sawbones has a few kinks of his own. (The nail polish sequence with Eulalia Ramon’s uncredited prostitute is another high point in silly/sexy.)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2001) movie review

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) d. Gans, Christophe (France) (3rd viewing) 152 min

Being that I’m currently performing in a stage production (The Man-Beast at First Folio) that addresses the same story, it was a no-brainer that I should revisit this unbelievably stylish, superbly produced period epic thriller. Springboarding from co-writer Stephane Cabel’s original scenario, Gans (who would go on to helm the big screen adaptation of Silent Hill five years later) serves up an incredible visual feast depicting the real-life period in history during which the 18th-century French province of Gevaudan was being terrorized by an enormous, bloodthirsty beast.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981) Blu-ray review

Night of the Werewolf (aka The Craving) (1981) (2nd viewing) d. Molina, Jacinto (Spain) 93 min.

Originally titled El Retorno del Hombre Lobo, this enjoyably souped-up redux of 1971’s The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women (which also starred and was written by Naschy) is directed by the actor himself (under his given name), and features one of the best wolfman makeups in the series, with great attention given to the lycan eyes and ears. Following a prologue featuring Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy, in his 8th iteration of the role) and Elizabeth Bathory’s (Julia Saly) execution centuries before, three college girls conspire to locate the dastardly duo’s final resting places and resurrect the fatal femme.

Friday, October 6, 2017

WOLF GUY (1975) Blu-ray review

Wolf Guy (1975) d. Yamaguchi, Kazuhiko (Japan) (1st viewing) 86 min

In this bizarre mixture of horror, action, sexploitation, and sci-fi, international superstar Sonny Chiba (Japan’s answer to Bruce Lee) is a cop who is also the only surviving member of a clan of ancient werewolves who relies on his supernatural powers to solve crimes! (After watching Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too, I’m starting to think that werewolves were the original superheroes – they’re able to box, play basketball, sleuth, pretty much anything!)