Friday, August 16, 2019

TENEBRAE (1982) Blu-ray Review

Tenebrae (1982) d. Dario Argento (Italy) (101 min)

American mystery author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) arrives in Rome to promote his newest novel, Tenebrae. Unfortunately, a serial killer is on the loose, taunting Neal and murdering those around him in gruesome fashion via straight razors and hatchets… just like the character in his novel. As the mystery surrounding the killings spirals out of control, Neal investigates the crimes on his own, with fiction and reality blurring as fear and madness take hold.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

VICE SQUAD (1982) Blu-ray review

Vice Squad (1982) d. Gary A. Sherman (USA) (97 min)

Princess (Season Hubley) is a single mom by day… and a Hollywood prostitute by night. After one of her friends (Nina Blackwood) is murdered by a sadistic pimp, Ramrod (Wings Hauser), ruthless cop Tom Walsh (Gary Swanson) blackmails Princess into helping him trap the criminal. When Ramrod escapes police custody, the race is on as to who will find who first. No matter which way Princess turns, Ramrod is coming for her, with Walsh and the entire police force out searching and hoping to stop another tragedy.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

THE REPTILE (1966) Blu-ray Review

The Reptile (1966) d. John Gilling (UK) (91 min)

A deadly epidemic is spreading through the remote Cornish village of Clagmoor Heath. As darkness falls, its victims are found foaming at the mouth, their skin discolored, with savage wounds on their necks. After his brother falls prey to the “black death,” Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) travels with his new wife (Jennifer Daniel) to Clagmoor to investigate his sibling’s mysterious demise. With little help from the unfriendly locals, Harry follows a trail of clues that leads him to the sinister Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman), the doctor's strange, but beautiful daughter (Jacqueline Pearce) ... and a horrific family secret.

Friday, August 2, 2019

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971) Blu-ray Review

Lust for a Vampire (1971) d. Jimmy Sangster (UK) (95 min)

Austria, 1830. Terrifying and erotic female vampire Carmilla Karnstein (Yutte Stensgaard) is brought back to life via a blood sacrifice, this time as a younger, blonder version of her previous incarnation (1970’s The Vampire Lovers). Seeking fresh flesh and drink, she is enrolled – as Mircalla Karnstein – in a prestigious finishing school for girls run by the very proper Miss Simpson (Helen Christie) and surrounded by a bevy of shapely students flitting about in various states of undress.

Her prime pickings are disrupted, however, by the arrival of rakish young author Richard LeStrange (Michael Johnson) who proffers his services to Miss Simpson as an English teacher in a thinly veiled attempt to mingle with the minxes. Before long, the class roster is dropping as quickly as the maidens’ blouses, LeStrange and Mircalla are engaged in a passionate if ill-advised love affair, and the local villagers are sharpening pitchforks and dusting off their torches for a climactic showdown.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

QUATERMASS 2 (1957) Blu-ray Review

Quatermass II (aka Enemy from Space) (1957) d. Val Guest (UK) (85 min)

After plans for the launch of his new space rocket are scuppered by governmental higher-ups, Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) becomes fascinated by the strange prevalence of meteorites falling near the Winnerden Flats production plant. Upon investigating the area, Quatermass’ assistant Marsh (Bryan Forbes) is incapacitated by one of the shell-like projectiles when it cracks open and releases a mysterious gas; even more troubling, armed troops show up and spirit away the fallen man and force the professor to depart the premises. Quatermass enlists the help of Parliament member Broadhead (Tom Chatto) to inspect the Winnerden Flats facility, only to uncover a horrible secret: extraterrestrials have taken over the minds of townspeople and high-ranking officials alike in the interest of making the Earth their new domain.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

THE LEOPARD MAN (1943) Blu-ray Review

The Leopard Man (1943) d. Jacques Tourneur (USA) (66 min)

Produced and directed by the winning team of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur, this third effort is as atmospheric as their previous The Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, yet is ultimately more a straight-ahead whodunnit than supernatural horror yarn. Authorities pursue an escaped panther in New Mexico, with suspicion slowly growing that a series of murders are being committed by a human pretending to be a panther.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967) Blu-ray Review

Quatermass and the Pit (aka Five Million Years to Earth) (1967) d. Roy Ward Baker (UK) (97 min)

While working on an extension of the London Underground in Hobbs End, a construction crew comes upon fossil evidence of humanoid creatures. Anthropologists Dr. Roney (James Donald) and Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley), as well as reluctant associates Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) and Col. Breen (Julian Glover), are brought in to investigate and speculate. Subsequent diggings unearth a mysterious vessel with an impenetrable surface; to everyone’s surprise, the spaceship (as it is eventually believed to be) begins to emit devastating sonic vibrations, resulting in mass violence among the neighboring London inhabitants.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fool's Views (6/1 – 6/30)

Howdy, folks!

Been a fair spell since I’ve done the full Fool’s treatment, mostly due to the fact that Cinepocalypse 2019 took up a large chunk of time and energy, but also I’ve been teaching more self-defense workshops both with IMPACT Chicago and through my home base of Lincoln Square Athletic Club, and have been subsequently spending less time in front of screens large or small. That said, it’s been a great year for movies thus far at the Doc’s office, averaging around 40 flicks a month for the first six months – it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out!

Kicked off a couple new movie projects in June as well. My pal Daniel and I decided that, in anticipation of Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 in Bond 25 (as it’s currently being called in the trades), we would start at the beginning and wend our way through the famed British secret service agent’s film exploits over the past five and a half decades. As it turns out, I haven’t seen most of these in well over 20 years, so in many ways it’s like seeing them for the first time.

Similarly, I stumbled across one of Chuck Norris’ early films, The Octagon, while over at my other pal Dan’s house and realized I hadn’t seen most of his flicks since they came out in the 1980s. So in a fit of Amazon retail therapy, I ended up buying about 17 movies starring His Beardness and will be picking my way through them as time allows. (I’m contemplating keeping them on the shelf until October and having the Chucktober Film Festival, but I’ve already got the October Horror Move Challenge/Scare-A-Thon on the books, so we’ll have to see if my penchant for puns rules the day.)

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


Sunday, July 21, 2019

FUNNY GAMES (1997) Blu-ray Review

Funny Games (1997) d. Michael Haneke (Austria) (108 min)

Austrian writer/director Haneke (Amour, The Piano Teacher, Cache) is not interested in pandering to audiences, especially not those glutted on bloodshed and slavering for more. Yet, in his astonishing self-reflexive meditation on onscreen violence and the fans of such fare (i.e, us), he walks the tightrope between catering to our baser desires while simultaneously implicating us in the crimes carried out onscreen. As we observe two young men (Arno Frisch, Frank Giering) insinuate themselves into a vacationing family’s (Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Stefan Clapczynski) lives, growing increasingly violent and demeaning, Haneke challenges us either to walk out or to admit to ourselves that we actually WANT to see these “innocent” people hurt, to see them tortured and humiliated; otherwise, why do we stay to watch? And what does it say about us if we do?

Friday, July 19, 2019

THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982) Blu-ray Review

The New York Ripper (1982) d. Lucio Fulci (Italy) (93 min)

For the slasher fan sick of the heavy-breathing, hulking, mute brute and/or the wise-cracking chatterbox psycho, this skeevy little thriller from Italian gore maestro Fulci might be just what you’ve been seeking. Set in the Big Apple, women of “low moral character” are falling victim to a killer armed with razor blades, butcher knives, broken bottles, and… a Donald Duck voice. Burnt-out NYPD detective Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) wades through a cornucopia of screwball suspects from the decks of the Staten Island Ferry to the sex shows of Times Square, with each brutal murder a sadistic quack in his general direction.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

THE BEAST IN HEAT (1977) Blu-ray Review

The Beast in Heat (aka SS Hell Camp) (1977) d. Luigi Batzella (as Ivan Kathansky) (Italy) (88 min)

Clearly inspired by Don Edmonds’ Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS, writer/director Batzella (with help from screenwriter Lorenzo Artale) stitches together a gruesome tale of an unscrupulous and uncommonly busty Nazi doctor (Macha Magall) performing rather ill-defined experiments that involve torturing female POWs with electricity, guinea pigs disguised as rats, or, worst of all, having them sexually devoured by a caged, hairy, barely-human monster (played with great enthusiasm by Italian strongman Sal Boris).

Thursday, July 11, 2019

THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955) Blu-ray Review

This Island Earth (1955) d. Joseph F. Newman (USA) (86 min)

After a series of unique scientific instruments are delivered to his lab’s doorstep, atomic scientist Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) is invited to take part in a top-secret research experiment in a remote lab, working with the odd-featured inhabitants of the planet Metaluna and an international assembly of renowned scientists such as Dr. Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue) and Dr. Steven Carlson (Russell Johnson).

Though the purpose of the collective, as stated by their Metalunan employer Exeter (Jeff Morrow), is to end war, Meacham’s suspicions that things are not what they seem are soon born out when he, Ruth, and Steven try to leave the facility… with dire consequences. Attempting to escape their fate, they jump aboard a nearby airplane and are promptly whisked away in a flying saucer to Metaluna, where the planet’s energy shield is slowly failing due to attacks by its sworn enemy, the Zahgons.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

SILENT HILL (2006) Blu-ray Review

Silent Hill (2006) d. Christophe Gans (France/Canada/Japan/USA) (125 min)

Rose (Radha Mitchell), desperate to cure her adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) of her nightmares and sleepwalking, takes her to the town of Silent Hill, WV, much to the dismay of her husband Christopher (Sean Bean). Following a violent car crash, Sharon disappears and Rose finds herself in the custody of motorcycle cop Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) amidst an ash-covered landscape. Together, the pair descends into the center of the twisted reality of the abandoned burg’s terrible secret in search of the lost child. Pursued by grotesquely deformed creatures and townspeople stuck in permanent purgatory, Rose and Cybil begins to uncover the truth behind the apocalyptic blaze that destroyed the town 30 years earlier.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986) Blu-ray Review

Night of the Creeps (1986) d. Fred Dekker (USA) (88/90 min)

“I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here.”
“What’s the bad news?”
They’re dead.”

In 1959, young police officer Ray Cameron (Dave Alan Johnson) learns that his girlfriend (Alice Cadogan) is two-timing him with football jock Johnny (Ken Heron), but he also has to deal with an axe murderer recently escaped from an asylum and an alien science experiment that has recently crashed to Earth… right near where the young lovers have parked. Needless to say, it’s a memorable night, the kind that boils cops hard. Twenty-seven years later, the would-be Romeo’s cryogenically frozen body is released by fraternity pledges Chris (Jason Lively) and J.C. (Steve Marshall) ... and the campus is quickly overrun by slippery alien slug creatures whose victims turn into zombies! It’s up to the grizzled and callous Detective Cameron (Tom Atkins) to solve the mystery before the entire student body is turned into shambling hordes. Thrill me, indeed!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

THE RAVEN (1935) Blu-ray review

The Raven (1935) d. Lew Landers (as Louis Frielander) (USA) (61 min)

While screenwriter David Boehm’s potboiler is hardly a faithful adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous literary work (welcome to Hollywood, folks), Universal’s second teaming of its titans of terror, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, still provides a hearty dose of Boston’s favorite literary son in the form of the various torture devices residing in the basements and behind the scenes of polite society.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Monday, July 1, 2019

CINEPOCALYPSE 2019 RECAP!!! (Part 3 of 4)

Ah, the late nights and early mornings that accompany festival life were starting to take their toll at this point, but knowing we only had one more long day to survive, we strapped on our Big Doc Pants and soldiered forward, fortified by good company in the form of The Blonde in Front herself, Cati Glidewell, (and good snacks in the form of the chocolate croissants she brought along in exchange for me holding a seat for her).


Sunday, June 30, 2019

CINEPOCALYPSE 2019 RECAP!!! (Part 2 of 4)

This summer in Chicago has been exceedingly damp, with thunderstorms nearly every single day. Saturday proved to be no exception and while the forecast stated that morning skies would be clear, I was not five minutes into my 15-minute bike ride to the Music Box Theatre before the clouds opened up and dumped about 9,000 gallons of water onto your humble narrator. While it was a soggy and chilly (the air conditioning was turned way up, although they managed to make things slightly less meat locker-ish for the remainder of the festival) day of viewing, spirits were high and the programming was tight.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

CINEPOCALYPSE 2019 RECAP!!! (Part 1 of 4)

Following its successful maiden voyage in November 2017, Cinepocalypse (formerly the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival) made a shift to a summer time slot the following year. Due to pre-existing obligations, I was unable to attend any of the 2018 festivities (with the exception of popping in for the final reel of GAGS), but this year the Doc’s slate was free and clear; as such, we were able to partake in nearly all the feature film offerings, including numerous world premieres (Glenn Danzig’s Verotika, Lucky McKee’s Kindred Spirits, Deadcon, The Swerve, Attack of the Demons, and the Chicago-set slasher The Lurker), special retro screenings (Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare, Total Recall, Flatliners, Tammy and the T-Rex (in its never-screened before R-rated "Gore Cut"), Hot Dog...The Movie, and Airheads), and oodles of special guests, including GWAR, Joe Bob Briggs, Michael Lehman, and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Michael Ironside (Scanners, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Top Gun).

Thursday, June 27, 2019

THE BLACK CAT (1934) Blu-ray Review

The Black Cat (1934) d. Edgar G. Ulmer (USA) (65 min)

Bearing no resemblance to the original story by Edgar Allan Poe, this atmosphere-drenched offering from Austrian expatriate Ulmer is a superior piece of filmmaking, made all the more historic for marking the first and finest on-screen teaming of horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

VEROTIKA (2019) Movie Review - CINEPOCALYPSE 2019

Verotika (2019) d. Glenn Danzig (USA) (90 min)

Festival filmgoers are adventurous by their very nature, oftentimes experiencing movies that have never screened before (or for very limited audiences). As such, it’s not buzz or marketing driving butts into these particular seats. Viewers are instead choosing to experience a particular film based purely on the director, star, plot description, or because they are excited to see which features the programmers have chosen to populate the festival, assuming that – in order to have been selected – said features must be something special indeed.

Never has that last statement been truer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

THE GREEN INFERNO (2013) Blu-ray Review

The Green Inferno (2013) d. Eli Roth (USA) (101 min)

Eager to “do something worthwhile,” college freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo) joins an on-campus activist organization led by the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Despite protestations from her politico dad (Richard Burgi) and apathetic roommate (Sky Ferreria), she travels with the group to the Peruvian Amazon to prevent the decimation of the rainforest and the extermination of the indigenous Yajes tribe by money-grubbing developers. Their efforts are seemingly successful, but on the return home their small aircraft suffers a mechanical failure; the ensuing crash leaves several dead and wounded. Worse yet, they are stranded among a particularly nasty group of natives who are hungry for justice and, well, just hungry....

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Fool's Views (5/16 - 5/31)

"Butch knows best..."

Back again! And just in time before the madness of Cinepocalypse 2019 begins!

The latter half of May was highlighted by three horror icons – Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, and Christopher Lee – all of whom share a birthday within a day of one another (PC on May 26, VP and CL on the 27th). With Severin Films releasing the feline-centric anthology The Uncanny on Blu-ray and The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (which I had never seen) as part of their Hemisphere Box of Horrors box set, the time seemed right to celebrate the trio in style. (It also occurred to me that I hadn’t watched Uncle Vincent in Theater of Blood in far too long, and had never given it a proper review. Consider that box checked.)

I also took a deeper dive into director Richard Lester’s filmography, as well as knocking out what may be the last of De Palma’s output for the foreseeable future, shared the mike (and snacks) with Kicking the Seat maestro Ian Simmons for another round of Argento, and then wrapped things up with Shout! Factory’s trio of Pride 2019 releases.

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


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

WHITE CHAMBER (2018) Blu-ray Review

White Chamber (2018) d. Paul Raschid (UK) (89 min)

Set in the near future, the United Kingdom rages through a savage period of civil war, with the insurgents having seized control of a governmental facility. An office worker (Shauna MacDonald) finds herself trapped in a mysterious, technologically advanced white cell where a certain General Zakarian (Oded Fehr) ruthlessly interrogates her for information. But as the film flashes back to the days prior to her capture, we come to learn that all is not what it seems and people are not who they appear to be.

Monday, June 10, 2019

THE ENTITY (1982) Blu-ray review

The Entity (1982) d. Sidney J. Furie (USA) (125 min)

Based on a documented case study from 1974, Barbara Hershey turns in a brave, harrowing performance as Carla Moran, a widow who is repeatedly raped by a trio of invisible forces, and then struggles to convince others that her plight is real. Her best friend (Margaret Blye), dubious about Carla’s claims, refers her to a sympathetic but arrogant psychiatrist, Dr. Schneiderman (Ron Silver), who attempts to explain away the attacks as a form of self-hating hysteria brought on by childhood trauma. As the spectral assaults continue and escalate, even occurring in front of her children, Carla finally recruits a team of parapsychologists who set out to document and ultimately vanquish the unseen foe.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) d. Terence Fisher (UK) (92 min)

Neatly rebounding from 1964’s quasi-Universal clunker, The Evil of Frankenstein, the fourth chapter in Hammer’s Frankenstein saga has the confidence to relegate Peter Cushing to a supporting role in this rich ensemble drama filled with engaging thesping. Producer Anthony Hinds’ (writing under his ordained nom de plume “John Elder”) script tackles the notion of “soul transfers,” an intriguing and original concept in a series that had heretofore concerned itself only with the physical elements of humanity and/or reanimation of dead flesh.