With a special appearance by Danny Trejo…

Inevitably, horror king Danny Trejo will occasionally pop up in movies in my watchlist. He might have top billing, he might be featured front and center in the poster art. And yet…he will barely be in the movie. So, why not look at four such films in one post?


Danny Trejo is in this little creature feature for about five minutes total.

It begins with full Monty monster attacking some men in a cave. That leads to a comic book style intro set to hip hop music, making this feel like something on the SyFy network in 2003. And I was so there for that vibe.

Next, U.S. troops get into a gun battle in Afghanistan and are forced to retreat into a cave. Typical egos come into play as the group splits up to explore the tunnels. They stumble upon gas canisters, some of the soldiers begin having hallucinations, there are large spiders, bodies of decaying past victims are found…

…but no more monster until 58 minutes in. Even so, the monster delivers on the creature feature fun.

It looks a bit different than your usual underground creature and sees humans with some sort of X-ray vision. Cool.

The final battle is also a good time. My only complaint is that it turns out there are more than one of the monsters, which makes it kind of inexcusable that it takes almost an hour for them to start attacking invaders in their home.

CYBORG X (2016)

This is one of those movies you stumble upon on a streaming service that makes you long for the days when SyFy was pumping out cheap action/sci-fi/horror flicks that are campy and cheesy thanks to low budgets and bad CGI effects, and also endearing thanks to recognizable faces in the cast.

Cyborg X concerns a military group that has to fight back against cyborgs gone wild after a weapons supplier is taken over by a virus.

These cyborgs happen to look like muscular, shirtless knock-offs of comic book villain Bane.

The leading man is a very pretty hunk who delivers on the shirtless action (for lady lovers there’s also a hot babe as the female lead).

Danny Trejo plays a crazy team member who gets more screen time than expected, considering I figured he was going to be cast in a cameo just for name recognition. And funny man Adam Johnson of Vamp U plays a different role as a cigar-smoking, bearish military man. Hot.

Despite the CGI effects, there are practical gore effects during gun battles, which are mostly contained to the first act, smack dab in the center, and final act. The bulk of the film does get a little too talkie as the team makes battle plans.

L.A. SLASHER (2015)

This is a trendy, artsy “slasher” in which the whole is simply not as good as the sum of its parts. It’s an attempted commentary on people that are famous just for being famous (reality stars, socialites, influencers, etc.). They are being targeted by a killer that wants to expose them for the talentless hacks they are and make them pay the price for gaining success by doing nothing—and in the process becomes a sort of celebrity himself. Problem is there isn’t any aspect of the film that is truly developed, including the killing.

I will start by saying I was loving the 80s vibe. The film begins with “The Look of Love” by ABC, has plenty of neon-drenched party and club scenes set to faux 80s dance music, closes with the 1990 hit “The King of Wishful Thinking” by Go West, and uses Divine’s “I’m So Beautiful” as a theme song for the killer.

It’s everything else that has issues. There is essentially no lead character here to carry a story arc, leaving the audience flailing in the wind as irrelevant characters go through various scenes with no purpose.

Mischa Barton is the closest we get to a final girl, but she’s barely in the film. Other familiar faces that appear fleetingly include Brooke Hogan, David Bautista, Eric Roberts, and of course Danny Trejo.

The most cringey casting is Andy Dick as the voice of the killer. His irritating tone destroys what is otherwise a freaky killer in a white tuxedo, blank white mask, and long wig. I think the point of the killer’s appearance is to show that only beautiful people get noticed in L.A., because everyone in the city knows there’s a killer on the loose, yet the killer goes out on the town and parties in crowds and never gets a second glance.

The film is filled with flashy editing, trippy sequences, lots of drugs and parties, online social media commentaries on screen, and a sleek, stylized, all-white lair where the killer brings his victims to terrorize them. Unfortunately, while there’s plenty of blood splatters as aftermath, all the kills are cutaway, so this film offers nothing in the way of death scenes. It’s a bummer, because the visual presentation leading up to the kills is hot.


This low budget indie has a very direct-to-DVD circa 2001 look and feel. It’s not so much a vampire horror film as it is a romanticized vampire legend film—it’s about a female vamp who has longed to become human since she was a child. Huh? Vampires don’t grow or age, so how was she once a vampire child? I guess that tells you everything you need to know about lack of attention to details with this one.

Anyway, Danny Trejo gets about fifteen minutes of screen time in total, playing the vamp father—who has no vampire teeth while all his children do. Again, it’s all about the lack of attention to details. He informs his kids that their time on earth has come to an end due to lack of blood to drink—mortals have become to pure. Say what? I really struggled to get through this one.

Accepting that their time has come to an end, the family commits suicide together, but the daughter who wanted to become human shows up late and didn’t get the memo. So she sets out on a journey to figure out who and what she really is now.

She visits her therapist (played by Tom Sizemore). She visits her doctor, who seems to have ulterior motives while treating her and also sleeps with a blow-up doll. She goes to a Halloween party with the best friend she has lesbian feelings for. She becomes close to a cute young male detective who is investigating a series of murders for which she is one of the suspects.

If you’re okay with low budget films and like stories that feature a vampire as the protagonist, I guess you might like this one. It was all just a little too silly for me—although it did have some intentionally funny moments that gave me a chuckle.

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All the single supernatural ladies

It’s a trio of films that took me back two decades to the days of vengeful girl ghosts skulking around claiming victims. They may not be groundbreaking, but I was glad to indulge in a comfort marathon of familiar horror territory.

LULLABY (2022)

This is the kind of early 2000s throwback film I needed right now: sleek production, dark lighting and shadows, cheap scares, an evil entity preying on a newborn, and a mythological backstory.

A woman who just had a baby receives a “care” package including baby items that belonged to her sister, who has been locked away after the death of her husband and disappearance of her baby. I don’t know—I personally wouldn’t think it a good idea to then use those items for my newborn, but this woman apparently never saw any baby horror movies. Among the items she receives is an old book, and she fricking sings a lullaby she finds within its pages to her baby.

From that point on, the baby never stops crying.

Slowly but surely, an evil presence in the house starts to reveal itself. The beautiful thing here is that the hot husband doesn’t think the wife is crazy, because they’re both being terrorized.

Just like all the supernatural specter films of the early 2000s, the couple has to delve into the mythology behind this entity, and it turns out it involves Jewish lore and the story of Lilith, a woman believed to have been Adam’s first wife, who was booted from the Garden of Eden for not being subservient. My kind of evil bitch.

Things get retro cheesy as the couple is forced to confront Lilith in a mirror dimension to save their baby. So satisfying.


This fun twist on the true Lizzy Borden story with a supernatural slasher edge stars Odessa A’zion of the Hellraiser remake as a teenager who begins to think she’s losing her mind because she’s a distant relative of the famous, alleged axe murderer. I can’t imagine why they chose a title that doesn’t reference Lizzie’s name at all.

The parents are played by familiar faces: Leslie Bibb and Dermot Mulroney. They don’t get to do much for most of the movie, which focuses on Odessa having visions and nightmares about murdering people with an axe.

Good news is there are also people actually being murdered by someone with an axe, and although this isn’t a Halloween-heavy film, it does take place during the season, so we get a hint of seasonal atmosphere.

The body count is a bit low, and Odessa’s dream sequences feel like a desperate way to populate the film with (faux) horror, but the final act delivers good battle against “Lizzy Borden”.

There are some tight performances, enjoyable violence, and a good old silly passing of the torch—um, axe—in the final frame.

MARA (2018)

Several years old now, Mara would have been released around the time that sleep paralysis films were hot. Considering I can’t remember any of the ones I watched and covered at the time, I’m going to say this is the best of the bunch just because Mara is so awesomely creepy.

A police psychologist is investigating a series of deaths in which victims are found in bed, twisted like a pretzel.

Very quickly, she begins to experience sleep paralysis, and each time she does she sees a tall, lanky, decrepit woman from the corner of her eye.

Through group therapy sessions she oversees, the psychologist connects with a dude who seems crazy as he warns all the patients that Mara is coming for them.

The creepy-crawlie cracking joints ghost woman horror is reminiscent of movies like Lights Out and The Ring, and the paranormal research plot has been done to death, but that doesn’t matter. This is all about the Mara attack sequences. They are spooky good. There’s even a double whammy sleep clinic scene that rocks.

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Catching up with some indie horror creators

Filling in my viewing gaps of films featuring horror actor Nick Damici and movies by indie director Charlie Steeds, I ended up doing a marathon of four films, so let’s get into them.


Director Jim Mickle and Nick Damici had an awesome indie horror streak going on a decade ago, with Mulberry St., Stake Land, and this final film. Not sure why they opted to break the streak, but I can say We Are What We Are is my least favorite of the three films. It’s a slow burn that also focuses on religion. Even so, it’s moody, atmospheric, and has a satisfying payoff in the end.

After the unexpected death of his wife, a man in a small town pushes his two teen daughters into the matriarchal role of helping raise his young son, keep house…and keep their dark, religious rituals alive.

Meanwhile, Nick Damici plays the local sheriff, who is on the case when people go missing.

His younger deputy becomes close to one of the daughters while the investigation is underway, and clues soon begin to lead to the home of the recently widowed father.

The film doesn’t delve too much into the horror aspects of what the family is up to, so this plays out more like a drama/mystery for a majority of its runtime.

However, it’s the final act that gets vicious, delivering a juicy horror denouement.


By taking the familiar “demons at a cabin in the woods” premise and making a Black family the focus, this film embeds a commentary on race relations into an otherwise fairly straightforward and mundane horror movie. The film’s biggest fault is that it fails to visually deliver on any demonic aspects, leaving us with a plot in which everyone just starts accusing each other of being a demon. It’s sort of like watching The Crucible in hopes that someone, anyone, will start flying around on a broom. Heh heh.

Despite the lack of blatant horror, I liked the subtle exploration of being Black in a white world.

Arriving late to meet their family members at a cabin in the woods for a get together, our three main characters quickly run into Nick Damici, who is wielding a gun at them and demanding to know if they are demons.

Fearing for their lives, the trio finds a way to subdue Damici. In the meantime, one of the guys starts buying into Damici’s rants about demons that are hiding in human form.

Next thing you know, a white woman appears on the scene, claiming her husband was murdered and begging for help. But if you’ve been paying attention to reality, you’ll know this bitch’s behavior screams KAREN!

The trio struggles with what to do with the woman and if they should wait for the police to arrive. They start turning on each other…all over a white woman. Even the idea of Black women longing for their men to vow loyalty and marriage to them is addressed through the lens of the demon theme.

Even when the Black characters fear a group of white people pointing weapons at them might be demons, the white people look equally terrified of them and ask, “What are you?” Clever. It’s definitely an “us vs. them” metaphor movie.

FREEZE (2022)

As a fan of director Charlie Steeds, I was excited that he was delving into a fishmen theme, but The Pirates of Penzance period piece style came across as very cartoonish to me, so I just wasn’t feeling the horror aspects. Not to mention there’s a lot more dialogue than monster action.

Anyway, a captain and his crew go on a rescue mission to save his missing friend, who set out on some sort of expedition and never returned. Pretty soon the captain’s ship gets stuck in ice, a fishman creature gets on board, and those who aren’t eaten by it bail and find a cave to hide out in.

Wouldn’t you know the cave is the lair of the fishmen? Actually you won’t know it for quite some time, because this film is rather slow and has a lot of character side stories going on before the creatures finally come into play.

There’s some gore and the creature costumes are cool, but there simply isn’t much in the way of horror atmosphere here.


This feels like Steeds’ ode to the historical witch hunting films of the late 60s and early 70s starring the likes of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Paul Naschy. The difference is that those films were about the real-life horror and exploitation of women, while Steeds’ film has actually paranormal themes and the sexual torture of men instead. Eek!

The plot of this period piece focuses on the discovery that two young princes have been abducted and murdered.

After their bodies are found, a man confesses to the murders and is thrown in the dungeon, where he is terrorized by the ghosts of the princes.

As supernatural occurrences persist around the castle, a young priest turns against his own faith to work with a psychic medium who has also been arrested. In doing so, the priest is haunted by his own guilt.

And what’s fascinating is that much of his guilt stems from homosexual desires. Steeds cleverly keeps the gay issue somewhat masked—just as gay men would have needed to do during this time period.

There are a few fantastically creepy horror scenes throughout the course of this slow burn featuring otherworldly specters, but things get absolutely disturbing when the priest and his male “friend” are stripped and sexually tortured in the final act for their sins. There was never a scene this gruesome in any Hammer films, that’s for sure.

If you can make it past that heinous scene, the film delves back into supernatural horror in the last few minutes. Despite this not being a favorite subgenre of horror for me, I feel Steeds nailed the retro vibe here and brought elements into the mix that none of those classic witch hunt movies touched upon. This one definitely lands a place on the does the gay guy die? page.

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Blasting through the past at the speed of light guns

I was a total light gun game whore back in the early 2000s, but because there were so few horror-themed light gun games, I would also have to resort to crap like Time Crisis and Die Hard, where you go around riddling other humans with bullets, which was just never my thing. Even so, I decided to revisit the late 90s/early 2000s console light gun games I have that I hadn’t covered yet, including 3 Dreamcast games and 2 Playstation One games.


In Confidential Mission, you play an agent trying to stop a terrorist plot. It’s a very short game with only three missions, but it does have a cool branching concept that offers some replay value. However, branching is based on how well you handle the pressure of being faced with sudden timed challenges, like shooting a specific target in a matter of seconds to throw a rope across a courtyard. If you succeed you get sent through an easier route. If you fail, you go a longer way with more enemies.

Kind of sucks for me. I was playing the game on an old tube television with an officially licensed third party MadCatz gun, and it worked fine with the other two Dreamcast games I cover here, yet with Confidential Mission it had awful aim and response time, even after calibration. As a result, I never succeeded in completing the challenges, so I always had to go the harder route. Even worse, one of the challenges involved quickly and repeatedly hitting “B”, which is a tiny button on the side of the gun, a place I couldn’t conveniently or comfortably hit rapidly with my big bear paw. The basic control configuration of shooting off screen to reload was also a disaster. It would relentlessly fail to reload no matter how far away I pointed the gun, so I was constantly in a state of being out of bullets while getting my ass shot.

As with games like Virtua Cop, you go through various locations shooting enemies that pop out from behind corners. They shoot at you, they toss grenades you have to block with your gun shots, they slice you with knives, and eventually they target you in a variety of vehicles. There’s a sort of color-coded countdown system on each guy that limits how long you have to actually take him down.

As is typical with light gun arcade games, there are also helpful items you can shoot, like power ups, better guns that only last briefly (and never seemed to activate for me), body armor that is good for one hit, bonus lives, and items worth points. Meanwhile, you have to avoid hitting innocent people that pop up to distract you—shooting them will chip away at your life.

The first mission takes place in a museum, the second takes place on a train (which was my favorite), and the third takes place in a lab facility and totally ups the difficulty level. Endless enemies pop out at you, as do innocent people, so you’re much more likely to kill them, killing yourself in the process.

The bosses are mostly easy, have life bars, and hurl distractions your way—shoot them down to avoid being hit. The first boss is a dude that runs around and unleashes turrets on you occasionally. The second boss rides alongside the train in an army tank and also sends a helicopter after you. The final boss is another guy on foot who goes mostly invisible for the second part of the battle.

And then…then…what the fuck??? The boss hops in a submarine, and you get quick text instructions informing you that you have to use the D-pad to line up a target on screen to hit the submarine…and you only get ONE shot. WTF! It all happened so fast, and all I had in my hand was my crappy, off-caliber light gun! Needless to say, I failed the final challenge, in turn failing the whole game. I had no intention of playing again to try to beat it.


Although a more dated looking game, having come out in arcades five years before Confidential Mission, Virtua Cop 2 (available on the Sega Smash Pack disc) is more fun thanks to much smoother gameplay. It’s another good guys with guns vs. bad guys with guns game, and there isn’t much variation in the looks of the bad guys—the same graphic models are used over and over.

The biggest relief for me was that there’s an auto reload option, so I didn’t have to concern myself with shooting off screen to reload. Also, when you shoot different guns along the route, it automatically switches to that gun until it’s out of bullets. And finally, each of the three levels has a branching opportunity. Taking a branch is presented as a choice of shooting a sign for the branch you want to follow, which allows for systematic replay value—shoot the left path the first time through each mission, and on the second playthrough shoot the right paths.

The 1st stage takes place out on city streets and includes driving sequences in which you can shoot out tires to make enemies’ cars crash. The boss is funny—he’s a muscle dude who just stands on a scaffolding throwing lots of stuff at you, including a whole damn van.

The 2nd stage takes place on a boat. Careful not to shoot innocent people!

The third 3rd stage takes place in a subway, and there’s more than one boss at the end. Fighting them involves a lot of taking down of rockets they shoot at you.


Trashed as a bad House of the Dead clone, Death Crimson OX is simply a more sci-fi/hi-tech version, throwing a bunch of robotic enemies into the mix of monsters, and giving the settings a more sterile rather than scary vibe. Tight in terms of both graphics and gameplay mechanics, this is another smooth shooting experience compared to the mess that was Confidential Mission.

The longest game of the Dreamcast bunch, Death Crimson OX consists of 6 levels, and I was in my element because I was shooting at monsters instead of men. There are also what appear to be sudden challenges in which a particular symbol will appear in a grid format on the screen, and you’re goal is to hit as many of them as you can in a short period of time.

The 1st stage consists mostly of robots and skeletons. The boss has a weak sword, but actually hitting it is tough so he slices you with it a lot while you’re trying to take him down.

The 2nd stage has some zombies but they appear in an odd carnival shooting range style, with the same zombie popping up like three times in a row in the same exact position each time you shoot him. There are also big rolling bug bosses, along with floating spheres that meant something…I’m just not sure what.

In the 3rd stage, survivors really get in the way, and it’s absolutely infuriating. They seriously put you at risk of getting hit by cheap monster shots because you can’t shoot around them to hit the monsters. Argh. The boss is a jumpy bouncy woman, and I took her down by repeatedly shooting her in the head.

The 4th stage consists of robots and large caterpillar enemies.

The 5th stage is mostly a repetitive boss stage where you shoot small spinning spheres to weaken a large sphere in order to get in a few shots at it before going through the process all over again.

The 6th stage gives off the best horror vibes. It’s set in underground caverns, and you fight flying bat enemies plus previous enemies and bosses before taking on a series of big insect bosses.


Now on to the PlayStation One. I was excited to get to this one, because I remembered it as a pure silly arcade monster shooter. Pre-dating House of the Dead by only a year, the graphics are surprisingly blocky and jaggy, but that doesn’t detract from what a smooth and simple rail shooter it is. And bringing the camp to the crypt, the game is loaded with an urgent voice-over incessantly saying things like “go left!” and “look behind you!”, despite the game being on rails, thereby giving you no choice but to do what is being said.

The Egyptian vibe is cool, and you go through temples, caverns, forests, crypts, caves, and even underwater. Your guide is a prophetic talking head that tells you what you’re in for before each level, and there are six levels to choose from, each with 3 acts and a boss.

The odd thing is that at the end of each act you get to shoot one of two doors to take different paths, but paths are actually repetitive and recycled in other acts, so you can’t be methodical and just choose only the left or only the right doors during one playthrough and then the other side during a second playthrough in hopes of seeing every unique path.

The enemies and dangers are a nice mix of skeletons, zombies, bats, bugs, gargoyles, fishmen, fish, mummies, and more. Plus, there are falling dangers you have to shoot, flying projectiles, blocked passages to clear as your racing towards them, walking brick columns, and treasure chests you can blast open to then shoot the upgraded guns that pop out of them, giving you a temporary boost of fire power.

The bosses are pretty easy, and virtually every single one requires you firing at their face. We get Medusa, a King Tut head, a Ghidorah type monster that ironically does the Godzilla growl, a multi-armed Egyptian god, a winged lion, and a winged demon.

The great news is that the PS1 port gives you the option to turn on auto reload, so it’s all gunning, no thinking.


Area 51 offers a playtime of only about 25 minutes, and it isn’t bogged down by dramatic boss battles—I think there are boss battles of sorts, but they’re integrated smoothly into the nonstop movement and action and feature low-key enemies, so you won’t even realize you’re fighting “a boss”.

Light gun support for this game on PlayStation is abysmal. It isn’t GunCon compatible, so I used my Justifier gun, which worked horribly. Targeting was all over the place and there is no calibration system for the game in the options. In fact, there are no options whatsoever for using a light gun, but if you plug in your gun instead of the controller, you can aim and shoot through menus—an absolute nightmare when using the Justifier.

A straightforward path through warehouses, airfields, and offices buildings, this game is unique in that your team members, who you naturally have to avoid shooting when they pop up in front of you now and then, are created by giving a video game makeover to footage of actual people acting out their parts.

Enemies consist of skeletal zombie soldiers with guns, as well as monstrous aliens that are also armed. You can shoot power up symbols and ammo boxes in the surroundings, and if you score a grenade, you’ll see it in the bottom center of the screen. You simply have to shoot it to blow up every enemy on screen.

Secret rooms can be found if you shoot certain objects that look like part of the background, however you have to turn on an option to get the secret rooms or they won’t be available. These secret rooms feature quick challenges like shooting alien eggs, hitting as many power ups as you can, or saving a sexy woman being eaten by aliens.

One option that isn’t available is auto reload. You have to shoot off screen to reload, which seemed to work fine for me, probably because the gun aim was so bad it just unintentionally shot off screen quite often.

And finally, it’s totally worth dying at least once in the game, because the death animation rocks, showing you turn into a monster.

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STREAM QUEEN: holiday horror overload

It’s almost Easter time, so I dug up two more Easter horror flicks to add to the complete holiday horror page, along with two Halloween horrors and two Christmas horrors.


I only covered this one because it is a semi-Halloween horror comedy (using that term loosely). I was ready to turn it off about 20 minutes in, but I stuck it out for the full agonizing 106 minutes. Only in the last twenty minutes does the film arrive at Halloween, and the only Halloween-themed moment is when the main character gives candy to some trick or treaters.

I guess if you love the lowest of the low nonsense Troma puts out these days you might appreciate parts of this film. After an opening scene of a witch being chased through the woods by her husband and killed back in colonial times, we meet Larry and his wife…played by a man. The drag shtick doesn’t make this funny, and there’s no point in having a male play the role other than the immediate move to fart and shit humor, which I imagine plays into the heterosexual male mindset that fart and shit humor can only revolve around men…even men in dresses.

As if bowel humor isn’t enough, the nasty wife then goes and uses a shovel to kill a dog that poops on their lawn.

Anyway, what follows is over an hour of filler as Larry does random day-to-day shit. He also has a few nightmares about the witch and daydreams about killing his wife.

Eventually the wife disappears from the picture. A big bear of a neighbor suspects Larry killed her and calls in a pretty boy detective who gives good man spread.

With 20 minutes left, the neighbor kidnaps Larry on Halloween to torture him until he tells the truth about the wife.

In an odd twist—and in a very low budget way—the film becomes a sort of funny and campy horror comedy for a brief period as the wife returns, possessed by the witch, and chases the three leading men (Larry, neighbor, detective) around the house.

SLASHFM (2022)

This horror anthology opens with a total seasonal vibe featuring Halloween and autumn clips.

The wraparound is simply a voice-over of a radio station host, who mentions there were a series of mass murders in the town between Halloween and Christmas and the killer was never caught…which sounds like the perfect intro to a series of stories covering Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Instead, this becomes an anthology of unrelated tales, only the first of which takes place on Halloween. However, the majority of these stories rock, and are definitely fun for a night of frights. Here’s the breakdown:

1st story – a kid watching Vincent Price in The House on Haunted Hill on Halloween night must contend with a masked killer that comes to his door.

2nd story – in this perfectly campy tale, a successful female accountant—who also happens to be a serial killer—falls for the hot mailroom boy in her office and decides to shower him with gifts she gets off her victims.

3rd story – a speed dating session with a deformed man offers a twist on the idea that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

4th story – this was my least favorite story (not much energy), and concerns an Uber driver looking for a victim to kill.

5th story – this is a trippy, artsy short exploring the horror of being trapped in an elevator with a stranger.

6th story – this is a funny creature feature about a leading man who is just as scared of cats as he is of the pig lizard creature coming for him and his friends.

7th story – this is the best fully frightening tale of the bunch, and involves a young woman with psychological problems who sees her boyfriend’s mother as a freaky demon.


Running only 65 minutes long, this is a silly Polonia production that offers a basic plot, minimal characters, and simple effects.

It begins during World War II, when a nun is banished from her convent because American soldiers gang-banged her on Christmas. Krampus, in a fairly extravagant mask, gets revenge for her by killing all the soldiers and then…making her his bride? That’s why this is a Polonia movie.

In modern day Europe, two sisters on a trip (and wearing Santa hats so we know it’s Christmas) spend a lot of time talking to a few local women about the Krampus legend after witnessing some sort of ritual taking place in the woods.

Before long, a nun possessed by Krampus is terrorizing the sisters and their new female friends with the help of a dead American World War II zombie soldier.

It’s cheesy and low budget, plus it suddenly shifts to a weird comedic tone when the girls finally meet the real Krampus.


This is another “holiday horror” anthology in which only the wraparound focuses on the spirit of the season. Not unlike anthology The Christmas Tapes, which I covered recently, it features a psycho interrupting a family’s Christmas festivities to tell them scary stories using a videotape. In this case the uninvited guess is a guy in a Santa suit, and he’s the highlight of this whole movie. He is quite funny and even indulges in some homo-esque interactions with the men of the family.

As for the tales, this is where there’s a major problem. None of the segments feels complete. Every story seems to get cut short with no solid conclusion or zinger ending. This issue makes the movie virtually pointless to watch.

Anyway, here is the general breakdown of what each story was trying to be:

1st – a take on the classic urban legend of a hook hand killer stalking a couple parked in their car.

2nd – a priest is haunted by a decrepit woman ghost that wants something from him.

3rd – a babysitter receives ominous calls on a corded phone the family doesn’t use anymore.

4th – something (we never get to see) is killing livestock.

5th – a hot ranch hand starts dying of a broken heart when the girl he loves is sent away by her father.

6th – two guys at a cabin in the woods are terrorized by a weird, zombie-like guy. This is my favorite tale due to the fact that the guys fail to behave all macho like guys usually do in horror movies.

7th – a kid agrees to stay overnight in a house that’s supposedly haunted.

8th story – weird gross out tale of a corpse that wants its missing toe back.


I’ll make this brief. This is a sequel to Easter Bunny Massacre but mostly seems to have no connection to the first movie.

It blatantly “borrows” from Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

It only differs in that the killer wears a bunny suit…and because it lacks any scares, gore, or intense kill scenes.

So why did I find it worth watching? There’s a gay kiss and gay storyline that comes in just when you least expect it. However, you’ll have to watch almost the whole movie to get to the good gay stuff, which lands this one on the does the gay guy die? page.

The other fun aspect is that the killer motivation is related to the events in the first movie, provided you make it to the part that makes that obvious.



I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that a low budget indie director decided to make a killer Easter bunny flick 2 hours and 16 minutes long. How do these creators, who I assume are huge fans of horror, not see that a majority of even the most successful slashers they love run only about 90 minutes long? Oh yeah—this is a slasher, despite the title making it sound like some sort of zombie apocalypse movie.

With the running time burdening any chances of reasonable pacing, the movie also strays away from the basic plot (killer in an Easter bunny costume) to draw us into messy hillbilly drama with crude, Troma-esque “humor”.

If the film weren’t weighed down by all the pointless white trash shenanigans, it could have focused more on the sloppy horror elements…the killer Easter bunny and a cannibalistic backwoods family with a crazy mom, redneck dad, pre-op trans daughter, a slow son, and a woman they keep chained up.

After 90 minutes (the length the whole movie should have been) the bunny finally comes out to play.

It even disintegrates a woman’s face with acid puke. Apparently it has this ability because it’s supposed to be from another dimension.

Cool plot element—it’s up to a lesbian to stop the madness and close the portal to trap the bunny inside.

Really, despite the amateurish execution, if the screenplay had been streamlined, there may have been some redeeming value for fans of psycho backwoods family movies.

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The killer is in the house…and it is the house…and it’s across the street

It’s a trio of flicks that range from sleazy to stylish…and deliver death and despair, of course.

MARGAUX (2022)

It sounded like it could be fun. Pretty people party at a smart house controlled by an app, and then there’s a glitch in the system…

Instead, things immediately promise to be hokey when CGI mechanical octopus arms start coming out of the woodwork to service the guests in various ways. There’s an awful ballad played during a montage of everyone getting familiar with the house. There are plenty of faux buildups that make us think the Margaux app is about to get gruesome on guests.

Then…Margaux creates 3D printed versions of a couple of the guys in the house to teach them a lesson about having fantasies of seeing their same sex friends kiss. Awesome.

And this is where the movie misses the golden opportunity to focus solely on one aspect of its premise; Margaux prints 3D versions of the friends and those 3D versions go off to kill the actual friends. That’s all we needed.

Instead we’re served a pot of confusion including Margaux killing guests, Margaux splattering people in a white spooge used to make 3D printed products, and eventually Margaux just creating an assembly line of clones that start killing each other (and oozing white spooge) instead of actual real people being in danger.

This movie is a disappointing mess. But there’s that 3D printed gay kiss, plus this guy.

If I were there to make demands of Margaux, I would just ask her to repeatedly clone him and make him kiss himself.


At this point, the only thing I wanted from writer/director Steve Wolsh was for him to make the prequel and sequel to Muck, which was reportedly supposed to be the second film in an out of order trilogy that was never completed. Instead, he brings us Kill Her Goats. Because I liked plenty of what Muck had to offer, I fell for the social media hype promoting the limited edition 4k release of his new movie. Unfortunately, it’s even more of a mess than Muck, and that’s without having the distinction of being a single installment of an unfinished trilogy.

Kill Her Goats comes across as Wolsh making his wet dream come to life—he hired a bunch of playmates, told them they were going to be stars of a legitimate horror movie, and then just made them run around with their tits out and tight panties wedged up their coochies just so he could stick his 4k camera as far up there as possible to capture every fully waxed pore.

A lengthy title card intro describes a family in the past living in a house in Cape Cod that makes its occupants go mad.

Then we get a cool scene of a couple in a tent getting slaughtered by a goat-masked killer with a chainsaw. Awesome. This is the stuff that reminds us that Wolsh can pull off gritty horror if he sets his mind to it. Unfortunately, in this case he sets his mind almost exclusively to T&A.

We are then informed that what comes next happened earlier that day, leaving us clinging to hope for the good slasher the first scene promised.

Here is what we get:

A blonde, busty bimbo arrives at that Cape Cod house, which she just bought. While saying out loud that there’s no way that this house with a grisly past could make somebody crazy, this grown ass woman jumps up and down on her bed and skips around her property talking to herself, completely proving herself to be crazy.

Next, her two bimbo friends arrive. I think most of the budget of this film went to securing the rights to have the girls briefly sing Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”.

Then it’s filler galore in footage that will most likely only entertain fourteen-year-old boys…and the director. One thing I know for sure is that it killed the mood for me and the two other gays I watched it with.

Wine is spilled multiple times. There’s a long shower scene that seemingly begins in the morning and ends at night. The main girl changes crop tops three times so that we can gawk at her tits and so Wolsh can plug his movie Muck, the title of which is written across the front of all three shirts…and the back of the tiny shorts she squeezes into.

There’s a singing in the shower montage, after which the squeaky clean girl slips into skimpy clothes, goes downstairs to get wine, comes back upstairs, and removes the skimpy clothes. Wolsh then finds reasons to make her get out of bed three times (Oops! I forgot to turn off the lamp on the other side of the room!) just so he can get the same exact shot of her ass as she climbs back into bed. Then she has a dream that’s completely irrelevant to the movie and barely more than a screen full of fog machine in a cemetery. She actually awakes from this dream sequence to go talk to her friends at her bedroom door (for another one of those ass shots when she gets back into bed). However, the editor, who demonstrates repeatedly that they don’t understand what makes an editor an editor, seems to forget the girl woke up, because next thing you know, her dream sequence is back for more.

Then a goat comes on the scene to roam around the house. Confusing thing is it’s not the main girl’s goat. She has no goats. I’m not sure whose goats are being referenced in the movie title.

This takes us to the 57-minute mark, when two goat-masked killers arrive on the scene. The girls are chased, and we get the best line of the film from one of the girls when the goat runs by again: “Why are there goats?” I feel you, sister.

After some slaughtering and another shot of the ass Wolsh loves, a new girl comes on the scene. In about 30 seconds she reveals a new backstory and another character we’ve never even met so that when she unmasks one of the killers there’s an instant killer motivation. WTF? Even worse, we never find out who was in the other goat mask and what their motivation was, because that killer is never unmasked.

Now, just for the hell of it, we get what basically amounts to a pillow fight scene with axes instead. I guess this weird situation can be explained by the mere fact that the house is known for driving people crazy.

Just for good measure, we get another shot of the director’s favorite ass.

We never find out who the couple from the beginning in the tent was. And considering everything that happens during the movie happens “earlier that day” before the tent scene takes place in the timeline, it also makes no sense that the tent couple falls victim to one of the goat-masked killers after they’ve already been taken down by the main girls (hopefully to prevent a sequel).

Wolsh had a fricking goat-masked killer with a double-ended chainsaw at his disposal, but apparently his mind was too busy imagining the possibilities of what a double-ended dildo could do to these playmates.

WATCHER (2022)

Maika Monroe of It Follows fame stars in this take on the Rear Window concept.

She moves with her husband into an apartment in his home country and immediately feels isolated. He works long hours, and he tends to speak to everyone in his native language, rarely remembering to translate for her.

Then she notices a man across the way staring at her all the time.

Be warned that this is a very slow burn. There’s very little action as she learns that a serial killer is hacking off the heads of young women and then begins to grow paranoid of every man she sees.

Her husband and the audience begin to question her sanity.

Since nothing significantly suspenseful is really happening, almost an hour in she has a nightmare of being attacked in her bedroom—a totally unnecessary sequence that just makes it feel like the creators fear their movie isn’t keeping the audience engaged.

Despite the slow pace, Watcher did what it needed to do…it kept me wondering how it was going to end. And damn, the finale of this film is chilling and intense. making the slow burn end in fire.

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STREAM QUEEN: vampires, zombies, and a funny ghost

My latest triple feature was a smorgasbord of subgenres.

SLAYERS (2022)

Slayers is not only a satire of young people in horror movies making obviously stupid decisions, it also covers issues of doing anything for fame and fortune, control and manipulation on social media and in advertising, and government vaccines.

In an attempt to be quirky and sleek, the screen flashes a lot of social media feedback and also video game score keeping—even though the movie is only about social media, not video games at all.

Thomas Jane is a trailer home vampire slayer who tries to warn a handful of influencers away from an attractive offer to come to the mansion of a wealthy man.

The setup opened up the opportunity to deliver some suspense as the influencers slowly realize the hard way that they’ve walked into a vampiric trap.

Instead, they learn the fast, easy way. The movie feels underdeveloped in that sense.

Rather than being about the influencers after they take up the bulk of the beginning, the focus turns to Jane as the slayer infiltrating the mansion to save anyone that remains alive. There are some fun vampire battles, but in general the film leaves you wanting more.


The director of Freaky, Happy Death Day, and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse brings us a movie that’s a mashup of Beetlejuice, E.T., and Ghost (complete with meta jokes). However, it ends up leaning much more on the downer final act of E.T. than the funniness of a ghost comedy after the initial promising half hour.

Anthony Mackie moves his family into a new home, and they soon discover that David Harbour is a ghost haunting their house. They first decide to go viral on social media with videos of him, but that quickly backfires, leading to a bunch of chases as the government intervenes in hopes of capturing the ghost.

It’s a bummer how quickly the movie moves away from the funny haunting story in the house. It becomes overly long as the kids try to help the ghost remember his past and how he died so he can move on.

David Harbour definitely steals the show, but it’s inexcusable that they made everyone’s favorite hottie horror daddy look like a shlub with a horrible comb over. Jennifer Coolidge is sadly underutilized as a famous internet medium. The chase scenes as they escape the government are set to songs like “Words” by Missing Persons and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC. And naturally there’s some scandal concerning how Harbour tragically died, as well as sentimental moments as he fights back against those that want to harm him.

Despite my disappointment in the tonal shift, I still went with it. However, the 127-minute runtime really hurts the pacing, and I feel it needed to be paired down by about 30 minutes.


As much as found footage films can get on my nerves, I tend to really like first-person POV zombie movies, and Eyes of the Dead is no exception. Presented as a continuous, real-time shot from the perspective of the leading man’s eyes, it takes place in an awesome little farmhouse in the country, so it really gave me Night of the Living Dead vibes.

The film manages to stay quite focused with very few characters while also gently developing the tension between the main guy and the wife he is just returning to after deserting her following a family tragedy. The couple’s situation is emotionally explored without overdoing it, and it doesn’t become too dramatic or distract from the fact that this family is attempting to escape a zombie siege.

The plot is straightforward. Government workers come to the house after an issue arises with a crop duster.

A trip to a cornfield triggers the zombie situation, and the first person POV makes the terror in the stalks claustrophobic and suspenseful.

Then the action moves to the house as the family becomes trapped inside with zombies banging on the windows. The strength of this movie is that there are not loads of zombies (this is a small, rural town after all), so the unsettling quiet and isolation is amplified, and you never know when a zombie will suddenly be lurking around a corner. There are several attempts to escape the house, and the chase scenes with the zombies in pursuit in first person mode are great. Plus, the film takes place entirely during the day, so natural shadows and darkness are used to great affect inside empty houses. Eek!

Plenty of fun stuff happens along the way. The zombie makeup is just gnarly enough to get the point across in daylight, there’s a clever little comment about having a “decorative” gun, an hysterical girl gets slapped, there’s a nasty infected farm animal moment, and there’s a cool explanation as to exactly what motivates the zombies to eat people.

Thanks to a mirror, in the end we finally get to see the leading man, who happens to be played by the director. And even though he is looking rough around the edges after all he’s been through during the course of the movie, he’s a cutie, and it’s too bad he didn’t get any screen time due to the movie being presented through his eyes.

My only complaint is the pointless decision to show a scene from later in the movie as an opener. It completely spoils the final act. We didn’t even need a forced horror sequence at the beginning, because the zombie action kicks in pretty fast and it doesn’t let up. I’ll definitely be adding this film to my movie collection.

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Entering The Ring on Dreamcast

Amazing that The Ring video game was released for the Dreamcast two years before the U.S. remake of Ringu even made it to theaters. That’s why the supernatural threat in this game is Sadako, not Samara. Just like the Ringu movie franchise went off the rails quickly, so does this game. Don’t be expecting Sadako crawling from a well. This entire game takes places in a lab building and involves a virus spread via a video game.

The Ring: Terror’s Realm is relatively short if you follow a walkthrough, otherwise you’ll be running around in circles for hours trying to figure out what to do next. It’s crazy how convoluted survival horror games used to be compared to how streamlined they are these days, with rarely a question of what you need to do to move forward.

As horror games go, this one is ruined by an annoying soundtrack melody that plays continuously throughout the entire game. The only bright side is that you can just turn the sound low or off, because there’s also no voice acting (except minor scenes at the beginning and end of the game). All dialogue is presented as captions, and you have to hit a button every time there’s a down arrow to advance to the next lines of dialogue.

Your character comes to work at a lab after your friend dies. You discover the lab created a virus, and there’s a video game that is passing along the virus. You get the dreaded “seven more days” call, after which you have to solve the mystery of how to stop the madness by running around two different versions of the lab looking for clues. You have the ability to enter a computer video game to reach “terror’s realm” which is a poor man’s Silent Hill, with the whole lab given a dark and gloomy makeover. The trick is you can’t go back and forth until you finish doing all that needs to be done in each version of the lab at any given time, which would be hard to determine without a walkthrough. The terror realm is frustrating because there are no lights, so you need to keep finding and feeding batteries to your flashlight until you eventually turn the power back on later in the game. It’s important to use the flashlight sparingly, like turning it off in halls when you know there are no monsters.

Speaking of monsters, don’t expect to be battling Sadako throughout the game. This is a typical survival horror experience with a variety of monsters to fight. There are even some cheap jump scares, with monsters popping out of closets and bathroom stalls now and then. The first monster looks like Yeti. A green version of the enemy looks like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There are crawling enemies that are hard to hit and very aggressive. Later there’s a big gorilla enemy that seems to show up right when you’re at the point when you have no bullets or flashlight batteries left. Shooting enemies from afar is okay, but if they get too close you get stuck in a tedious loop; they grab you, you wrestle them off, you start to aim your weapon, they grab you again, etc. Argh!

You have a laser line to help with targeting, and the gun aims where your flashlight is pointed, but if you keep the flashlight on, monsters find you—supposedly. They found me in both light and dark. If you keep the flashlight off, you can’t see items you need to pick up. Argh! Even more argh is that moving is done with the d-pad, and aiming is done with the single thumb stick, which feels very counter-intuitive (Dreamcast seriously needed two thumb sticks). The auto reload is a bit slow, so you can go into the status screen to do it faster during battles, which makes the action stop so you can breathe.

You start with a pistol in the terror realm, and later you get a shotgun, assault rifle, and even bigger weapons. But here’s the thing that makes no sense to me—you spend a whole lot of time gathering powerful guns and bullets right near the end of the game in the terror realm, however, you end up back in the regular realm for the final battle with just a pistol and have no access to those big guns! There are item boxes in both realms, but the contents don’t transfer over, and neither do things you are carrying in your inventory. You literally spend all this time collecting massive weapons (which take up two fricking inventory slots each) and then never get to use them! I don’t get it. If I was doing something wrong or missing something, someone who has played this game please clue me in as to how to have full access to all your weapons in both realms.

The game options offer several controller schemes, including fixed camera, over-the-shoulder, and even first person. Meanwhile, when not playing first person, there is a button option so you can examine your surroundings in first person, but it’s mostly useless because you can’t move, shoot, or interact with anything while in first person mode. There’s a run button as well, but very often you’ll find that if you try to open a door and then run through it, your character gets stuck on the door frame and the door closes. You simply have to remember to walk through doors, not run. That applies to only certain doors though. Most doors are classic survival horror doors—you click on the door then wait for a slow animation of the door opening.

You can save your game any time you want at radios in certain rooms in both realms, but item boxes and save radios aren’t always in the same room, and in the terror realm, those rooms also aren’t “safe rooms”…you can expect to find enemies in them every now and then. It would be nice if the save and item box rooms were marked on the map (which you have to go through the inventory screen to check), but the map is pretty useless, with no room marked by its name. The map does at least mark rooms you’ve accessed and those you haven’t in different colors. Also, maps aren’t automatically in hand–you have to locate them on walls and pick them up.

There are two annoying timed events during the course of the game, but the majority of gameplay consists of typical fetching missions to find items to move forward in the game, until eventually you find The Ring video and watch it!

As the game nears the end, you’d never know to go to a certain office and examine a bookcase to move forward if you didn’t read a walkthrough. There’s a classic cut scene of the main bad guy turning into a boss monster near the end, but all you have is the damn pistol because of the world switch causing you to leave all your big weapons behind, and it sucks. You need tons of bullets to kill him…before needing tons of bullets to fight the final boss. This is where you’re going to want to have a Codebreaker disc around to fill yourself up with some infinite pistol ammo. How I miss the days of Codebreaker and GameShark.

When it’s time to battle Sadako, who’s nothing like the Sadako we know and love (this bitch is a fricking blonde!), you fight her on a roof. Oh well. Or rather no well….

You have to shoot her with the damn handgun until she turns into 5 crows, then shoot and kill all the crows. Sadako then comes back and you have to start the process all over again. You have to do that three times. There’s a napalm gun in one corner of the battle space for her final return a fourth time, but I couldn’t get over to it, so I just shot her with one handgun bullet and she died! Other than the dive-bombing birds, the only major danger is that if Sadako gets too close to you she whips you with her blonde hair. Overall it’s an anti-climactic end to a cheap knockoff of better survival horror games of the time.

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A Scout Taylor-Compton triple feature

My latest triple feature was a trio of films in which Scout Taylor-Compton appears, and they all also have a home invasion element to them as well.


Don’t watch this one hoping it’s a starring vehicle for Scout. She’s only in the first five minute.

After that, this becomes a psycho stalker flick in the tradition of the many thrillers released in the late 80s and early 90s. The simple plot has a young woman invite a guy she just met home, after which he begins to aggressively pursue her.

Oh. He also starts killing off anyone in her life that he feels will get in the way of their relationship.

It’s a typical suspense scenario and not gory or violent, but the performances are quite good. And what’s kind of a hoot is that this modern woman is generous with her pussy, so she just keeps getting any dude she becomes involved with killed off by the stalker without even realizing it.

Cliché plot and pussy aside, what is handled perfectly here is the ways in which the stalker forces his way into her life. The film really captures the terrifying experience that a woman can find herself in when she simple says “no” to a man. It’s initially chilling to see the vulnerable position she’s put herself in when she’s trying to get a stranger out of her apartment once he’s already in, and then infuriating to watch as she keeps giving him more chances because he smiles and charms her. Argh!


This home invasion flick takes place over the course of the holiday season, with Santas, snow, lights, and Christmas trees as a backdrop, which earns An Intrusion a spot on the holiday horror page.

The basic premise is that a husband, wife, and daughter are dealing with a recurring intruder in a mask and hoodie. The individual home invasion scenes sprinkled throughout are tightly crafted and a definite highlight.

What unfolds might be a little hard for some to swallow. The husband has some skeletons in his closet, and the stalker begins targeting him in other ways, threatening to expose his dirty secrets. This causes the husband to really start losing his shit and moving into dangerous territory to protect himself.

The big twist is one of those that you’ll never be able to figure out along the way because the identity of the stalker comes out of left field at the very end, and the motivation for the stalking has to be fully explained in a monologue by the stalker at the last second. It’s a situation in which the backstory could have been a whole movie of its own. It’s so disconnected from everything that happens before it, which is a bad risk to take when making a movie…but dammit, I found being bamboozled kind of awesome.

As a bonus, Scout plays the detective on the case, and it’s a refreshing performance compared to her usual scream queen shtick. And Erika Hoveland, the woman who plays the wife, gives a fantastic performance when she has an emotional breakdown later in the film.


I imagine we’ve all seen our fair share of movies about a person who heads to some remote location in search of answers about the family they never knew, only to learn that their lineage is ripe with Satanism, and they are the key to completing some sort of occult ritual to release hell on earth. The only difference between all these movies is the execution—some are terrifying, some are boring.

The Long Night is like a self-proclamation; it describes the evening you’ll have if you try to sit through this 90-minute movie. It is sloooooow.

Scout and her man head to a plantation house so she can explore her ancestry. Word of advice. If you have to go to a plantation to learn about your family history, you don’t want to fricking know about your family history. Meanwhile, even I know that despite the total bore that The Blair Witch Project was, the moment you find some Blair Witch shit in the woods behind the plantation you’re visiting to learn about your family history, it’s time to get the fuck out of there.

After finding some hints of Devil worship, Scout and her man spend most of the movie trapped inside the house while a cult stands outside staring at the house. Seriously, the cult refrains from going into the house for 55 minutes.

There are incredibly arresting setup shots of the cult in robes and horned animal skull masks, but suspense and scares are non-existent. Jeff Fahey makes a brief appearance, Alessa’s mom from Silent Hill now gets to play the leader of the cult instead, and there’s an early possession scene that essentially spoils the entire final act of the film.

Finally, despite being the lead in this movie, Scout somehow gets lost in the shuffle. She’s on screen most of the time, but you end up forgetting she’s even there. Weird.

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Crazy killer bitches

It’s a triple feature of movies about women gone mad, two with eating issues and another with religious issues. Best news of all is that along with these crazy killer bitches comes some man meat.



Indie director Brian Dorton has several movies under his belt that contain queer themes and characters, and he’s usually heavy on the exploitation tradition. He does low budget, locally made movies, which is very apparent with Truly, Madly. It has that look and feel, and grindhouse effects are applied to somewhat mask those shortcomings. If you read my posts regularly, you know how I feel about the forced grindhouse vibe, which is even announced on a title card at the beginning of this movie as an artistic choice and not a problem with the source you’re using to watch the movie. It’s an unnecessary call out considering we’ve been bombarded with this novelty in indie horror movies since the Grindhouse: Planet Terror/Death Proof double feature made it trendy again in 2007. Other than making Truly, Madly visually more reminiscent of old theater movies rather than a direct to-video film, the effects add nothing to the atmosphere, and it comes across as particularly gimmicky, especially considering there’s even a “missing reel” moment tossed in for good measure. The throwback I appreciate much more is the early 80s style synth score. It’s spot on and better captures the horror atmosphere than the filters in this case.

However, the filters and music don’t particularly coincide with what happens in the film. There are no suspense scenes, chase scenes, or intensely gruesome and violent kills. The plot is simply about a religious extremist mother who starts killing all her gay son’s friends after the death of her husband. She isn’t particularly scary, menacing, or over-the-top wacky. She matter-of-factly stabs people when she gets them alone and then goes on with her life.

The only death scene that comes close to delivering on grindhouse action is when she wields a chainsaw. While it’s still a bit restrained, it better captures what you might be expecting from a mental mom.

Religion and bigotry are the actual horror here, and it’s important to note the difference in viewpoint from a creator from Southern and Midwestern locations (as Dorton is) and creators from more progressive environments. Horror films are commonly presented as showing city folk venturing into the unknown of backwoods states and meeting up with crazy shit, but in a small town film like this, the vision is perhaps reflective of the creator’s lived experiences. The whole point is that there are people that don’t fit the backwoods mold yet have to live with the crazy shit every day of their lives, which is the horror movie in which they are trapped.

As a result, the focus is on hypocrisy of small town religious folk (the monsters) and the ways in which they judge and threaten the lives of those that are not like them. There’s a lot happening here, with the gay son, a trans character (played by Dorton), and themes of religious addiction, incest, mental health, self-harm, sexual assault, pedophilia, bullying, suicide, and infidelity. However, it’s all presented mostly just to counter the mindset of the mother and make a point, not to substantially delve into any one issue.

The good news about this being made by a queer filmmaker is that the gay content, which lands this on the homo horror movies page, is the one aspect that isn’t held back; we get a male shower scene and a scene of two men naked in bed. I fricking love the perspective of this shot. It’s a work of art all on its own.

And finally, in the tradition of classic horror that explores subversive queer issues, Truly, Madly isn’t as straightforward as it initially seems when we get to the final act.


Crazy Fat Ethel is a remake of a 1975 film called Criminally Insane (which I’ve never seen), and it comes to us from…Brian Dorton! Yay! This film feels better streamlined and focused than Truly, Madly, with scenes and sequences that feel much more intentionally crafted and planned out.

For starters, while this is clearly a full-fledged, subversive exploitation flick, there are no forced filters, yet the style comes through perfectly in the way the film is shot, the lighting, and the sets. The gore is nice and bloody (according to IMDb they used real animal meat to make everything icky), and the tone is sleazy and trashy.

The performances and editing also outshine Truly, Madly, which suffers from those weird pauses between lines of dialogue that create a disjointed delivery during conversations, a common occurrence in indie films. The only real bummer for me was that there’s something wrong with the audio on the Amazon stream of Crazy Fat Ethel, so a good chunk, starting about 30 minutes in, is drowned out by a constant audio glitch—I had to turn on subtitles so I could understand what was being said.

Ethel, who is portrayed as totally crazy (there’s nothing campy about her performance), is released from a mental institution and goes to live with her aunt, whose husband Ethel was believed to have murdered, which landed her in the asylum in the first place.

All Ethel wants to do is eat, so whenever anyone hinders her opportunity to stuff her face, she goes nuts and offs them. Awesome.

There’s plenty of gross, skanky shit happening along the way, and some clever techniques are used to capture the moments—like a heterosexual ass-eating caught from the perspective of the asshole. This is how you do low budget exploitation right. Yet at the same time there are wonderfully artistic elements, like a bizarre dream sequence that infuses gluttony and religious imagery.

And most importantly, the whole point of the film—Ethel’s obsession with eating—comes into play in the way we would hope in a nasty flick about a voracious killer.

PIGGY (2022)

A perfect movie to couple with Crazy Fat Ethel, Piggy is a Spanish film that brilliantly takes the bullying/revenge subgenre to a different place.

In a small village, an overweight girl named Sara works at her family’s butcher shop and is badly bullied by a group of popular girls.

She’s also bullied by her own mother, who is pressuring her to lose weight so she won’t be a target of the girls.

The intriguing and unexpected approach to the plot really keeps the viewer riveted. Sara goes for a swim when there is usually no one in the public pool, only to find she’s not alone in more than one creepy and disturbing way.

The bullying girls take her clothes, leaving her to walk home in her bikini. This is definitely a questionable detail, because chances are no self-conscious, overweight girl would ever wear just a bikini in a public pool, even if she thought she was alone.

What transpires next is wild. On a desolate dirt road, Sara sees the girls being abducted by a guy in a van. Adding a brilliantly effective touch, after the driver opens his door and drops her clothes on the ground for her, she gives him a wave of thanks that simultaneously seems to be a wave goodbye to one of the girls begging for help at the back window of the van as it drives away.

Essentially exploring the innate good or bad traits within people, the film is about emotionally battered and bruised Sara struggling with the conflict of doing the right thing or the wrong but much more satisfying thing. There’s a fascinating romanticizing of her connection to the killer (there are literally fireworks when the two first come intimately face to face), and he becomes somewhat of a guardian angel/Prince Charming for her even while we know he’s a psycho.

The best part of all this is that Sara is actually an attractive girl, and her killer is presented in a frighteningly sexy way—sure he’s a backwoods psycho, but he’s also undeniably masculine and hunky in a protective “daddy will take care of you as long as you do exactly what he says” kind of way, if you know what I mean.

The sexual tension whenever they meet is sizzling hot, and Sara seems to be basically falling in love with him even as he’s destroying her life. Not to mention, this silent creep driving around in a van was giving me serious High Tension vibes.

Yet despite the elevated concepts, the movie doesn’t forget it’s a horror flick, especially when we arrive at the final confrontation in the killer’s lair. And the film even addresses viewer bias when it presents us with the visual look of the “hero” at the end of the movie. Pretty sneaky, sis.

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