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.

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) 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.


Sunday, June 2, 2019


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.