Thursday, January 31, 2019

HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS (1987) Blu-ray review

Howling III: The Marsupials (1987) d. Phillipe Mora (Australia) (94 min)

Marsupial werewolves attempt to outwit and outlast their human counterparts in this offbeat horror sequel that has nothing to do with the previous two installments. Long ago, the now-extinct marsupial wolf (aka the Tasmanian Tiger) roamed the Australian Outback with its terrifying 180-degree jaw-opening capacity. Today, a werewolf colony that has descended from these marsupials has taken over the land. The race for survival is on as the humans struggle to contain these out-of-control creatures, and yes, it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds. Director Mora (The Beast Within, Howling II) claims the bonkers plotline and outrageous narrative and tone were intentionally designed to be over-the-top, but that doesn’t make the final product any less hodgepodge or inept or entertaining for all the wrong reasons.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

MANIAC (1980) Blu-ray Review

Maniac (1980) d. William Lustig (USA) (88 min)

Renowned character actor Joe Spinell creates one of the most memorable (and certainly the sweatiest) psychopaths ever to grace the grindhouses. Constantly moaning, mumbling and crying, Spinell’s Frank Zito conducts a reign of terror on the NYC streets, murdering young women and tacking their bloody scalps onto his ever-growing collection of female mannequins. Working from a script by Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg and aided enormously by Tom Savini’s gut-churning and (literally) mind-blowing f/x, William Lustig directs this notorious bit of nastiness with the grime and degradation piled on an inch thick throughout. Gorgeous Caroline Munro also stars as a fashion photographer, although her attraction to and ensuing relationship with Spinell are the weakest elements in the film (not to mention the fact that his “normal” behavior is completely at odds with the remainder of his unhinged performance).

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (2000) Blu-ray review

Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000) d. John Ottman (USA) (97 min)

At Alpine University, the most prestigious film school in the country, someone is determined to win the Hitchcock Award at any cost - even if it means eliminating the competition. No one is safe and everyone is a suspect. The making of a horror movie takes on a terrifying reality for students at in this lackluster, factory-assembled “follow-up” to 1998’s smash hit (our killer is inexplicably wearing a fencing mask as opposed to the all-purpose parka), with lesser stars, tenuous connections to the urban legend concept, and an uneasy balance between humor and horror.

Monday, January 28, 2019

URBAN LEGEND (1998) Blu-ray Review

Urban Legend (1998) d. Jamie Blanks (USA) (99 min)

While turning the scary little “true” stories that everyone has heard from “a friend of a friend” into horror films is nothing new (see When a Stranger Calls), this slick feature attempts to incorporate as many as possible into the context of a slasher movie with moderately successful results. First-time director Blanks (Valentine, Long Weekend) assembles an extremely photogenic cast to play students enrolled in professor Robert Englund’s college class on urban legends. Silvio Horta’s smirking script then proceeds to creatively eliminate the student body utilizing the syllabus’ grisly methodologies.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) Blu-ray Release!!

10 to Midnight (1983) d. J. Lee Thompson (USA) (102 min)

Charles Bronson plays Leo Kessler, a cynical Los Angeles cop on the trail of Warren Stacy (Gene Davis), a homicidal maniac who turns rejection from beautiful women into the ultimate revenge. When the legal system sets Stacy free, Kessler plants evidence to put him behind bars for good. But Kessler's plan backfires, leaving him with only one option: to hunt down Stacy on his own before the crazed killer can strike again!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966) Blu-ray Release!

The Plague of the Zombies (1966) d. John Gilling (UK) (91 min)

In a remote 19th-century Cornish village, an evil presence lurks within the darkness of the witching hour. A mysterious plague relentlessly consumes lives at an unstoppable rate. Unable to find the cause, Dr. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams) enlists the help of his mentor, Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell). Desperate to find an antidote, they instead find inexplicable horror: empty coffins with the diseased corpses missing! Following a series of strange and frightening clues, they discover a deserted tin mine where they discover a world of black magic and a doomed legion of soulless, murderous slaves ... the walking dead!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Civilian 2018 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!

Aaaaaaaaand we're back!

Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it’s time to give the Civilian flicks their moment in the sun. As always, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2018 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

As mentioned in the horror wrap-up post, I didn't spend a lot of effort keeping up with the current output - I only indulged in two or three cineplex binge-trip theater-hop voyages, with most of the current crop viewed in the latter half of the year once they’d hit home video. I also will admit to spending a fair amount of time revisiting films that I hadn’t seen in a while to see if my opinions had changed (or hey, just for fun - what a concept!)

I am also happy to report that after two years of less-than-ideal stats, I managed to climb back into the 300+ Club (not really a club) and, as you’ll see below, I devoted a healthy amount of time to several actor/director projects over the course of the year. In addition to another successful Scare-A-Thon/October Challenge, I decided to re-introduce the notion of a November Turkey Hunt, tracking down the best of the worst, tallying 30 Gobblers (plus a few fence-sitters) when all was said and done.

Many thanks to everyone for their support and feedback and conversation over the years. We'll see what 2019, the last year of the “teens,” has in store!

Let the OCD madness begin!!!


Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Eighth Grade
First Reformed
Game Night (*)
Leave No Trace
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (*)
Sorry to Bother You
Thoroughbreds (*)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Dr. AC's 2018 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

Clearly it's been a very productive year....

Howdy, folks!

I’m not even going to waste your time with the usual apology/justification this time around for not having seen all the latest and greatest, brightest and bloodiest objects that 2018 had to offer. That said, I’m pretty happy with the amount of newer flicks that passed my peepers, as well as the revisits I was fortunate enough to engage in either for review or recreational purposes.

To compensate, this year I’ve extended my field of view for recent fright films to include the past two (2) years since I was playing quite a bit of catch-up during the early months of 2018. (Hey, as I’ve said many a time before – we’re all on our own path. What’s important is that we keep walking it.)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Fool's Views (12/16 - 12/31)

"I can't feel my legs, my vision is blurry, and I can't use my words."
"Oh, that's right, it's January..."

And that, my friends, is that.

Ended the year in fine fashion, clocking an additional 25 films during the final two weeks, including bagging my last letter of the alphabet (“Y” for YellowBrickRoad) and the missing pieces in the chronology sweepstakes (1949, 1951, 1952, 1969, 1979), as well as a last-minute Share the Scare with the gang, adding another half-dozen flickers to the grand totals.

I won’t spend a lot of time chatting here – as per usual, it’s time to get to the Year-End Recap Madness – and as you’ll soon discover, you have some reading to do, Faithful AC-olytes! Let’s get to it, shall we?

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


Saturday, January 5, 2019

REVENGE (2017) movie review

Revenge (2017) d. Coralie Fargeat (France/Belgium)

Can a rape/revenge film be equal parts brutal, ridiculous, and thought-provoking? The answer appears to be yes, as writer/director Fargeat’s debut feature ably demonstrates. Sassy and sexy Jen (Matilda Lutz) shows up at handsome, rich, and married businessman Richard’s (Kevin Janssens) secluded love hut in the desert (accessible only by helicopter) for a weekend of dancin’ and romancin’, only to be surprised by his two hunting pals (Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchede) who show up early. They take a shine to the nubile one and while their host dashes into town to secure the licenses, Jen is assaulted; when Richard returns, she tells him and he attempts to buy her off. She refuses the hush money and threatens to tell his wife if he doesn’t send her home, whereupon he attacks her and leaves her for dead.

Friday, January 4, 2019

YELLOWBRICKROAD (2010) movie review

YellowBrickRoad (2010) d. Jesse Holland / Andy Mitton (USA)

The writing/directing team of Holland & Mitton conjure an incredibly rich scenario, then people it with an exemplary array of characters such that the first 45 minutes of this well-crafted yarn were literally spent on the edge of my seat. The wonderfully simple premise – a group of researchers seeking to unravel the mystery of a New Hampshire village’s population who, one quiet day in 1940, simply wandered out of town and disappeared forever – is so well cultivated, with creepy, organic atmosphere to spare, one feels like applauding each passing scene for its chutzpah and execution. (The high point is a mid-film gore set-piece aka “the leg scene” that had me squirming and muttering, “Holy crap, ain’t never seen that before... and I’m not sure I needed to.”)