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.

Enjoy!



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) Blu-ray Review



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.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

DEATH WARMED UP (1984) Blu-ray Review



Death Warmed Up (1984) d. David Blyth (New Zealand) (80 min)

Using experimental mind-controlling drugs, Dr. Archer Howell (Gary Day) diabolically murders his partner (David Weatherly) and his wife (Tina Grenville) by turning their son Michael (Michael Hurst) into a homicidal, shotgun-packing zombie. Arrested and institutionalized for seven years, Michael is finally released back into society, and he’s not the happiest camper on the block. With his unwitting girlfriend Sandy (Margaret Umbers) and pals Lucas and Jeannie (William Upjohn, Norelle Scott) in tow, he plans a weekend getaway as an excuse to track down Howell on Trans Cranial Applications' secluded island hideaway and exact a long-overdue revenge….


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK (1993) Blu-ray Review



When a Stranger Calls Back (1993) d. Fred Walton (USA) (94 min)

Five years after a terrifying baby-sitting ordeal, Julia (Jill Schoelen) is trying to put her life together when the past comes back to haunt her. Someone is breaking into her apartment, moving objects around and toying with her. The police think she's just a “hysterical coed,” but student advisor Jill Johnson (Carol Kane), similarly victimized thirteen years earlier, is determined to nail Julia's stalker with the help of retired detective John Clifford (Charles Durning).


THE CLEANING LADY (2018) DVD Review



The Cleaning Lady (2018) d. Jon Knautz (USA) (90 min)

Professional aesthetician and self-described “love addict” (complete with AA-type meetings) Alice (Alexis Kendra) finds herself embroiled in an affair with married man Michael (Stelio Savante) who seems to have no intention of leaving his wife (Elizabeth Sandy). On the advice of her sponsor, she institutes a “no contact” rule and attempts to reset her life, starting with hiring her condo’s maintenance woman Shelly (Rachel Alig) to clean her house. The two begin a tentative friendship, Alice feeling sympathy for her shy and sheltered employee, who bears severe scarring on her facial features, and Shelly reveling in the attention shown her by this immaculately beautiful woman. But when Michael continues to call/text and Alice violates her vow of separation, Shelly’s image of her newfound “perfect” friend is threatened and steps must be taken – cleansing steps – to help.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Fool's Views (5/1 – 5/15)



Hello, troops!

The first half of the month was filled out in grand fashion with various spontaneous groupings of Views, from auto-related thrillers (Fender Bender, Submerged) to surgical theme nights (Scalpel, Suture) to the ongoing exploration of director Richard Fleischer (up to 11 for the year) to our fifth annual Turkey Day in May at the illustrious Krypt of Kitley!

But the biggest inspiration came out of the blue, with the realization that this summer marks the 20th anniversary of The Blair Witch Project's theatrical release. All the more fitting since, earlier this year, I had stumbled across David A. Stern’s The Blair Witch Project: A Dossier at the public library purely by chance and was once again dazzled by how these young filmmakers (Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, not Heather, Mike, and Josh) created such a deep and enduring mythology out of thin air. Looking forward to spilling a few hundred words in honor of their efforts.

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

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

THE NIGHT CREATURE FEATURES DIED (2018) DVD Review



The Night Creature Features Died (2018) d. John Stanley (USA) (105 min)

While not technically a film, this collection of the between-movie, in-studio high jinks of the last four episodes of Creature Features (hosted by Stanley, who invites his predecessor Bob Wilkins back for the final episode) is feature-length and does represent the gateway drug for many a Bay Area Monster Kid. While supremely silly and low-tech, it’s also deeply nostalgic and reverential toward a generation of horror fans who grew up (without growing up) watching their favorite fright flicks glued to Oakland-based KTVU Channel 2 on Saturday nights (and sometimes Fridays!) from Jan. 9, 1971 to Sept. 1, 1984.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

PHANTASM (1979) Blu-ray Review



Phantasm (1979) d. Don Coscarelli (USA) (88 min)

Following the death of their parents, teenager Mike (Michael Baldwin) develops a crippling fear that his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) will desert him as well. After one of Jody’s friends is murdered by a mysterious Lady in Lavender (Kathy Lester), bizarre occurrences start to transpire in the small town, seemingly connected to the Morningside funeral home and orchestrated by an enigmatic Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). Mike, Jody, and everyone’s favorite ice cream vendor Reggie (Reggie Bannister) join forces to combat the sinister elements at play, with the line increasingly blurring between reality and fantasy.


Friday, May 31, 2019

THEATER OF BLOOD (1973) Movie Review



Theater of Blood (1973) d. Douglas Hickox (UK) (104 min)

In reportedly his personal favorite role over a very long career, Vincent Price has the time of his life as critically-reviled Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart, who sets out to even the scores with his enemies in the press after being denied the illustrious Critics Circle Award. Interestingly, the film predates the trend of future body-count movies in that it’s less a question as to whether his victims will perish, but rather how they will meet their prescribed demise.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

FENDER BENDER (2016) Blu-ray Review



Fender Bender (2016) d. Pavia, Mark (USA) (91 min)

Following his auspicious feature debut, a much-lauded screen adaptation of Stephen King’s The Night Flier in 1997, we’ve heard precious little from writer/director Pavia until now. All the more regretful that his return to the genre is a relatively routine slasher flick, featuring a mild-mannered creep (Bill Sage) who bumps into unsuspecting motorists at stop signs, exchanges information with them, and then murders them later in their homes.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM (1967) Blu-ray Review



The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967) d. Harald Reinl (Germany) (83 min)

Sumptuously lensed German feature (aka Castle of the Walking Dead, Blood of the Virgins, and The Blood Demon, among others) that elicits favorable comparisons to the work of Mario Bava or Roger Corman’s AIPoe series with its colorful, occasionally avant-garde imagery. Christopher Lee assays the role of the sadistic Count Regula who, found guilty of the ritualized murder of 12 virgins, is condemned to death, swearing vengeance upon his judges before having a spiked gold mask smashed onto his face. (Hello, Black Sunday.) Regula’s prophecy seems to come true 35 years later after Roger Von Marienberg, a descendant of the head magistrate (both played by former Tarzan Lex Barker), arrives in town to claim his inheritance: a neglected castle filled with (wouldn’t you know it?) torture devices.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Prepare for the coming CINEPOCALYPSE!!!



Cinepocalypse, Chicago’s premiere festival for electrifying and provocative genre cinema, returns to the Music Box Theatre June 13th for eight days of features, shorts, events and surprises, including eight fantastic break-out world premieres!


We didn't get to partake in much of last year's installment due to theatrical obligations (other than showing up for the Q&A of the world premiere of GAGS), but 2019's schedule is looking bright and we're ready and raring to go. Just in time to start the summer horror season off right, the Music Box Theatre hosts the festival's third go-round under the Cinepocalypse moniker (formerly the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival, and all the better for disassociating itself from the Great Chin, in my humble opinion).

Monday, May 27, 2019

THE UNCANNY (1977) Blu-ray Review



The Uncanny (1977) d. Denis Heroux (Canada/UK) (89 min)

From the producing team of Milton Subotsky (purveyor of those awesome early ’70s Amicus anthologies) and Claude Heroux (the man behind such Canuck-horror efforts as Visiting Hours and Of Unknown Origin, as well as David Cronenberg’s The Brood, Scanners, and Videodrome) comes a tolerable triptych of terror tales… or should we say tails? Frantic scribbler Wilbur (Peter Cushing) appears at the door of publisher Frank Richard (Ray Milland) with his latest literary effort: a treatise on how the world is secretly ruled by – wait for it – cats. Yup, Wilbur is convinced that the felines are running the show, and proceeds to unspool several yarns (or balls thereof) as “evidence,” all of which are entertaining enough but without exception overstay their welcome.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

SUBMERGED (2016) Blu-ray review



Submerged (2016) d. Steven C. Miller (USA) (99 min)

When a local business magnate (Tim Daly) cuts a goodly percentage of his work force, the ensuing negative press prompts the decision to promote his head of security (Jonathan Bennett) to full-time bodyguard in order to protect his daughter (Talulah Riley). Cruising home from a club with friends, their military-grade limousine is sent careening off a bridge by a gang of ruthless kidnappers and the race is on to escape their watery fate.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

SUTURE (1993) Blu-ray review



Suture (1993) d. Scott McGehee / David Siegel (USA) (96 min)

The wealthy and self-assured Vincent (Michael Harris) meets his blue-collar half-brother Clay (Dennis Haysbert) at their father's funeral and is struck by their similarity. He decides to murder Clay and take his identity, only Clay survives the assassination attempt with no memory and is mistaken for Vincent. The fact that Vincent is white and Clay is black only complicates a film that probes deeply into the nature of identity.


Friday, May 17, 2019

HELL NIGHT (1981) Blu-ray review



Hell Night (1981) d. Tom DeSimone (USA) (101 min)

As a fraternity/sorority initiation rite, pledges Marti (Linda Blair), Jeff (Peter Barton), Denise (Suki Goodwin), and Seth (Vincent Van Patten) must spend a night in Garth Manor, twelve years to the day after madman Raymond Garth supposedly murdered his entire family. As the legend goes, the body of the youngest child, Andrew Garth, was never recovered and still haunts the now-deserted mansion… at least that’s the story spun by frat ringleader Peter (Kevin Brophy), who has designs on scaring the rushing quartet out of their wits. But amidst the projected pranks and skeletons-in-boxes, a real menace lurks in the corners, picking off the interlopers one by one, piece by piece.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

THE SEDUCTION (1982) Blu-ray review



The Seduction (1982) d. David Schmoeller (USA) (104 min)

L.A. anchorwoman Jamie Douglas (Morgan Fairchild) has it all: a glamorous career on a top-rated news show, a luxurious house in the hills, and a devoted young admirer named Derek (Andrew Stevens). But when Jamie ultimately rebuffs his “romantic” advances (after spying on her swimming nude in her pool, the increasingly unwelcome phone calls, flowers, candy, and visits to her house follow), Derek plays out a psychotic courtship with the frightened newswoman, threatening every part of her life, and secretly observing even her most intimate moments. When the cops (led by TV’s Ben Casey, Vince Edwards) can’t do anything, Jamie goes commando, shotgun-blasting away in a satisfying whirling dervish revenge fantasy conclusion.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

SCALPEL (1977) Blu-ray review



Scalpel (1977) d. John Grissmer (USA) (95 min)

Dr. Phillip Reynolds (Robert Lansing), a renowned plastic surgeon, has a bit of a conundrum. His wealthy and recently deceased father-in-law has cut him completely out of a vast inheritance, leaving the entirety of the estate to Reynolds’ daughter, Heather (Judith Chapman). Problem is his estranged offspring is unlikely to share, having run away from home after her overprotective daddy drowned her beau in the pond out back last year. One night, the disinherited doc crosses paths with a young exotic dancer, Jane, her face beaten beyond recognition, and hatches a scheme to reconstruct her features in the form of the missing Heather and split the $5 million pot between them. As her scars heal, the two grow closer, both to sealing the deal and to each other, but first they’ll have to convince suspicious Uncle Bradley (Arlen Dean Snyder) and the rest of the family that Jane is Heather... and make sure Heather doesn’t show up to ruin the party.


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

SLUGS (1988) Blu-ray review



Slugs (1988) d. Juan Piquer Simon (Spain/USA) (89 min)

Simon, the maestro behind the gut-busting splatter flick Pieces, delivers another heaping helping of the red sauce, this time with toxic waste-fed gastropods doing the honors. While the line readings and WTF moments are not as abundantly plentiful, there’s enough head-shaking banana boat wackiness to keep guts chuckling and gruesome sequences to keep lunches buckling. When several members of a quiet upstate NY community start turning up munchified, it’s up to public health inspector Michael Garfield (as a character named – snicker – Mike Brady) and his public works buddy (Philip MacHale) to save the day.


Monday, May 6, 2019

Fool's Views (4/16 – 4/30)


You're gonna need a bigger cigar box....

Greetings, my friends!

It’s funny how things fall out in the Doc’s office. I started off the year knocking out a bunch of director Richard Fleischer’s films, and I have made pretty decent strides to that end (up to 10 at this point), slowly and steadily plugging away. However, as fate would have it, I reviewed screeners for new Blu-ray releases of Takashi Miike’s Audition and Brian De Palma’s Obsession (tres apropos, no?) in February, which renewed an interest in their respective films I’d missed and/or revisiting those that I hadn’t seen in a while. As of this writing, the tally already stands at 12 (each) for the year, with a few on deck still to go.

To further complicate things, having just reviewed Shout! Factory’s release of Tarantula, I was inspired to dig out Bill Warren’s massive tome, Keep Watching the Skies! American Sci-Fi Movies of the 1950s, which led me to the underrated 1953 3D thriller The Maze (recently released to Blu-ray by Kino Lorber) and now I can’t stop talking about it.

Then, last week, my friend Daniel asked if I was interested in seeing the Pet Sematary remake, only to reveal that he hadn’t seen the directors’ previous film, Starry Eyes, so of course we had to remedy that. Then Jon Kitley tells me he’s covering a couple of toothy “Animals Attack” movies for his HorrorHound column, which had me digging through my old DVDs for some good ’gator action of my own....

And then Arrow throws its new Jose Ramon Larraz three-pack my way!

It just goes to show, folks. Even the best-laid plans give way to fits of spontaneous completism, random inspiration, and pressing deadlines. Hope you have fun with this batch. I know I did.

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

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

THE MAZE (1953) Blu-ray review



The Maze (1953) d. William Cameron Menzies  (USA) (80 min)

Adapted from the novel by Maurice Sandoz by Dan Ullman (who usually trafficked in large and small screen Westerns), this highly original, if somewhat melodramatic piece features It Came from Outer Space (released the same year) star Richard Carlson as Gerald MacTeam, a fine strapping lad about to be married to his best girl Kitty Murray (Veronica Hurst). Just before the wedding, Gerry receives a telegram summoning him to his ancestral Scottish castle; he leaves… and does not return. Hurt and confused, Kitty and Aunt Edith (Katherine Emery) book passage across the ocean to find the once-handsome fiancé unwelcoming and looking 20 years older. Against his demands, the ladies plot to stick around and uncover the mystery, which involves a topiary maze on the grounds with a pond at its center where mysterious lantern lights can be seen after dark. One night, Kitty and Edith sneak down to the labyrinth and discover… ah, ah, ah… that would be telling.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

STRANGE BLOOD hits bookstores this week!



Hey kids! I penned an essay on The Reflecting Skin for this compendium celebration of offbeat bloodsuckers, along with several other cool cats like Hidden Horror contributors Jon Kitley (Night of the Werewolf, Vampyres), Doug Lamoreux (Valley of the Zombies, The Vampire Bat), Gert Verbeeck (Vamp), J Luis Rivera (The Addiction, La peau blanche, Santo vs. the Vampire Women), Steve de Roover (Bordello of Blood, Daughters of Darkness, Embrace of the Vampire, Requiem for a Vampire, Vampyros Lesbos), Charles M. Kline (The Night Flier), Sven Soetemans (Blood for Dracula, Martin), Lee Gambin (Grave of the Vampire), as well as the mysterious madam herself, Vanessa Morgan (Cronos, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, Habit, Karmina, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, Rabid, Salem's Lot).

Free on Kindle and reasonably priced for the physical paperback version as well - definitely worth checking out!


Monday, April 29, 2019

ROGUE (2007) DVD review



Rogue (2007) d. McLean, Greg (Australia) (99 min)

As a follow-up to his unvarnished, viscerally effective serial killer flick Wolf Creek, writer/director McLean continues to thwart the Australian tourist trade with this derivative but reasonably entertaining creature feature. Pitting an enormous crocodile against a riverboat full of tourists on a leisure wildlife cruise, Rogue goes through the predictable series of chompings and near-chompings... and that’s about it, finding little new to do with the milieu.