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) 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.


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.