PREVIEWS: a Clownado Seeds a Killer Sofa

None of these three upcoming films were fully what I expected, which was a good thing in one case, and not so good in the other two. Let’s take a look.

CLOWNADO (2019)

Todd Sheets has been making horror movies since the 80s, so if you’ve seen any of his films, you know what you’re in for to an extent. For me, his films are hit and miss. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don’t.

Clownado could have been my thing, but it didn’t work out for me…beginning with the 100-minute length. A clownado just shouldn’t spin for more than 80 minutes at most!

This is one of those low budget indies in which all the actors are caricatures—it’s like watching a local theater group performance. And the film seems to be catering to the gross out gore crowd but ends up exploiting the guts and squishy stuff so much that it becomes redundant and uninspired.

As for the plot, a wife decides to get revenge on her evil clown husband with the help of a spell.

Unfortunately, the spell sucks the husband and all his clown cohorts into a tornado and they come back down as vile murderers. In the meantime, a black Elvis impersonator, a trucker, a stripper, a teenager, and two tornado chasers join forces and must put an end to the madness.

All that wackiness alone does not make for a good midnight movie. Hell, this doesn’t even utilize the “nado” enough to make this as stupid fun as a Sharknado film. Not to mention, if you’re going to ride the wave of Sharknado movies, at least throw in a scene of a shark blowing by and make some bad meta joke about it.

For me, the best part of Clownado involved a waitress and a joke about the 1970s TV show Alice. Well, that and the tits with teeth.

Clownado is available from Wild Eye Releasing.

KILLER SOFA (2019)

While Killer Sofa has gotten plenty of campy attention, what was so satisfying to me is that it isn’t an absurd, “so bad it’s bad so viewers have to pretend that makes it good to justify watching it” production (which might disappoint those looking for exactly that kind of movie).

Instead, Killer Sofa takes the unique approach of mostly taking itself seriously despite being about a killer chair that even has button eyes and a mouth. I say chair because regardless of the title, the first thing I said and continued to say repeatedly throughout the film until a character in the movie finally agreed with me was, “That’s not a couch, it’s a recliner.”

It’s a minor detail except for the fact that the movie is called Killer Sofa. I guess it just sounds better than Killer Recliner.

Anyway, the goofy moments are darkly funny because despite the fact that it’s about a killer recliner, the movie presents itself as a genuine horror film. That’s what’s so satisfying about it; it’s not stupid just for the sake of being stupid. Hell, it even passes up the ass-eating opportunity that’s presented to it.

A young woman buys a recliner from a thrift shop, brings it home, and has some sort of erotic moment while writhing in it. Pretty soon the chair is targeting anyone who gets in between her and it, including her boyfriend (who her friend thinks is gay, although it’s never revealed for certain), a guy who is stalking her, and anyone who tries to help her rid herself of the chair.

The chair moves, chases victims, kills, dumps bodies, and eventually talks, making for an oddly entertaining slasher. The only thing I didn’t much care for was the unnecessarily complicated back story as to how the chair became possessed—including flashbacks. It took away from the basic killer chair plot for me.

Meanwhile, the film gets bonus points for featuring a guy with loads of shoulder hair wearing a tank top.

Killer Sofa coming in time for Halloween month from High Octane Pictures.

SEEDS (2018)

The poster art for Seeds is quite deceiving—despite the fact that the exact image comes to life in the movie.

I guess this could be considered a psychological horror, but for me it’s not a horror movie and not something I would have watched to begin with had I known what I was in for.

The “monster” is essentially symbolic, and we only see its buggy legs a few times and eventually see the whole thing once. It haunts the mind of the protagonist, a man being tempted and/or seduced into having an incestuous relationship with his niece. Really, that is the focus of this slow drama, not the big monster.

So the question becomes, is the monster real? Is he the monster? Is she the monster? Is there more to it than that? Will we ever know when all is said and done?

From a horror lover’s standpoint, it’s really a bummer, because this could have been one cool monster movie.

Seeds is available soon from Dark Star Pictures.

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PRIME TIME: not your usual slasher marathon

It’s a foursome of oddities I came across on Amazon Prime, but I found something to like about most of these slashers.

DERELICT (2017)

It’s all flashlights and narrow halls in a derelict building as three guys are hunted by a creep in a gas mask in this taut flick.

The atmosphere and claustrophobic feeling in Derelict are top-notch, but considering the group that goes exploring the wrong place at the wrong time consists of only three guys, expect a low body count.

Even the confrontations with the killer are few and far between. Much of the focus here is on the mounting tensions between the friends, but they get into plenty of predicaments to keep the film moving.

And it’s definitely worth sticking around for the final act, when the battles with the killer take fresh, unexpected approaches with some devious moments—that are infuriating! There’s also a jump scare you can see coming from a mile away…that scared the fuck out of me!

A KILLER AWAITS (2018)

Sort of a slasher/thriller/mystery mashup, A Killer Awaits is a little goofy and clearly low budget, but the kills are quite fun and there are some moments that looked like they were straight out of a 1970s horror flick.

A dude has a landscaping business, and pretty soon residents on his route begin getting killed. It seems like the killer is purposely targeting people he interacts with.

A pair of detectives is on the case, one believing he’s innocent, the other convinced he’s guilty.

There’s not much more to it than that, and at times it feels like a series of scenes strung together rather than a distinct story arc. But it really is worth it for the death scenes. Just be aware, this is a POV film, so we don’t see the killer, and there’s no mask.

8 BALL CLOWN (2018)

It could be considered a sort of blend of Stitches and Clownhouse, but this gritty, sleazy, low budget movie will probably appease a limited audience. There’s not much going on here beyond a cackling, drug addict clown tormenting, torturing, and killing people…and kids. Yay!

To gives you an idea what you’re in for, the clown abducts and drugs a pregnant woman and then…um…induces labor.

In between his ranting, ramblings, and killing of adults, the clown also seeks revenge on a bunch of kids that taunted him at a party.

If it were a bit more streamlined and shorter than 103 minutes long, focusing only on him terrorizing the kids in their house, 8 Ball Clown would be more my kind of movie. Question is, do I want to watch the sequel that’s already in the works? You so know I won’t be able to control the OCD, so keep an eye out for the blog.

CENTRAL PARK (2017)

Talk about a slasher made for NYers. Central Park focuses on a group of high school teens. One of the boys is coping with the fact that his dad ran a huge Ponzi scheme that has a huge impact on the African-American community.

The kids hang out after school, visit the 9/11 memorial, and then head into Central Park, not knowing they are being stalked by someone wearing a hoodie and a photo of the Ponzi kid’s dad as a mask. It’s held on with clear plastic wrap and it’s damn freaky!

Central Park takes a while to kick in, but as soon as it does, a mesmerizing series of unique kill sequences set it apart from your everyday slasher. The situations keep the movie twisting and turning, and while the characters make some of the dumbest decisions you could fathom, you can forgive because you’re so sucked in by the weirdness that unfolds, and can’t wait until it all becomes clear at the end.

The tragedy of this awesome slasher? Nothing EVER becomes clear. ARGH!

The film even seems to be determined to make several points about class, race, and power, but by the end, it all just feels like incomplete attempts at social commentary.

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Nobody Gets Out Alive when they suffer from Cinemaphobia!

Enthusiastic after my recent discovery of Don’t Look on Prime, I took a chance on two more slashers hoping I’d get lucky again. Will Nobody Gets Out Alive and Cinemaphobia fulfill your slasher needs?

NOBODY GETS OUT ALIVE (2012)

Although the kill scenes are really well done, and some are quite brutal, Nobody Gets Out Alive is about as generic as a slasher plot gets. There are no surprises, for the opening scene and the campfire story trope tell you everything you need to know about who the killer is and what’s about to happen to a group that goes camping in the woods.

When we meet the gang, there’s a whole lot of filler as they road trip to their destination. Naturally there’s a rest stop confrontation and a creep with a warning to stay away, and then eventually we get to the campfire scene.

There’s no inbred freak or psycho in a mask here—just a normal vengeful guy with sharp weapons, but he makes good use of them. I was momentarily inspired to become a backwoods killer when a dude taking a piss turned to find the killer sneaking up behind him, and his immediate reaction was “spectacular beard!”

There’s some juicy gore, there are some good chase scenes, and there’s even some torture that made me squirm.

But when the killer finally gets a monologue about his motivations, it’s totally redundant since the movie spelled out what he’s all about already. So this one should be watched just for the kills.

CINEMAPHOBIA (2009)

There is a lot going on in Cinemaphobia. So much in fact that it is distractingly unfocused until the final act.

The movie follows a bunch of people at a horror film festival, and the constant humdrum chats between them feels like Clerks at a movie theater (I totally used the word humdrum).

There are occasional kills along the way, some better than others, like my faves: one at a urinal (shocker) and one involving an arcade game (again, shocker). The film also intersperses death scene clips of the scuba diver killer slasher showing at the theater…which quite honestly looks a bit more exciting than the actual movie.

And finally, there are two wannabe horror film director guys that spend their time chatting up girls to be in their movie.

The pace picks up with just twenty minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the initial plan of the survivors to play dead so the killer will overlook them leads to a majority of the kills being dead duck situations; the victim pretends to be dead by remaining absolutely still, so the killer simply comes up to them and stabs the fuck out of them! This happens several times.

Finally, I don’t think veteran horror fans will be all that surprised with the twist. Best to watch this one mostly for the kills as well.

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Queers and Christians battle it out…with zombies!

It has been several years since director Israel Luna (Fright Flick, The Ouija Experiment, and Ouija Resurrection: The Ouija Experiment 2) announced his gay zombie film Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus. It has finally been released as Dead Don’t Die in Dallas, which might be a safer title to market to the mainstream, but  the mainstream will be in for a shock to discover this zomcom is unapologetically queer!

Queers should be prepared for this one to unapologetically drive home the conflict between hateful Christians and “we’re here, we’re queer” LGBTQs that we’re all pretty versed in by now. But don’t let several instances of overly long monologues from both sides get in the way of enjoying the indie zombie action and campy, comic fun.

A special miracle drug has been created, and the side effects eventually become apparent—zombie infection! In a small town, several LGBTQ folk and religious nuts that didn’t try the pills are thrust together as flesh hungry zombies sometimes shuffle/sometimes run around town looking for something good to eat.

The most obvious stereotypes are present—a butch lesbian, fierce and flamboyant drag queens, closet cases, an extremist pastor, secretly sinful Bible-thumpers—so the back and forth bickering between them might be a little obvious at this point in the evolution of gay horror. However, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Willam Belli absolutely steals the comedy show here and elevates the camp above the preachy parts. She rules.

Most of the performances are tight, with a few exceptions that drag things a bit due to stop and go delivery of dialogue. The minimal, basic zombie makeup gets the job done, and the gore is absolutely delicious, with a majority of it being practical effects rather than CGI.

I do have to note for the second time in a few blogs that we have a film that uses overdone grindhouse throwback gimmicks. Here, however, they definitely add to the midnight movie spirit of the film.

Dead Don’t Die in Dallas is a fun one to watch with a group of friends, as I did. We made a sort of drinking game out of repeated moments of characters hacking up zombies yet not closing their mouths to prevent infected blood from going in. EEK! We heckled minor flaws that give the film character, like an actress clearly pulling her clothes off herself when the zombies clawing at her fail to do so, or several instances when a spotlight meant to create a silhouette effect becomes the glaring focal point of the frame.

And we all questioned each other on whether or not we missed a plot point that would explain why there’s a huge CGI fiery explosion when a character kicks a zombie out of a truck.

Other highlights include a gay kiss, a thick bear butt on the run, and even a zombutt thanks to a drooping pants wardrobe malfunction!

Because I’m a fan of Israel Luna’s horror films, I blind bought the Dead Don’t Die In Dallas DVD (pressed disc, not DVD-R. YAY!), and I’m happy to say it is definitely one of the stronger titles in my gay horror movie collection. It’s also Luna’s first fully gay-themed horror flicks, so I hope he’ll bring us more in the future.

Finally, a little off topic, when I first posted about this one a few years ago, I noted that the description reminded me somewhat of my gay zombie novella Zombied Out from my Closet Monsters collection. Therefore, now would be a good time to mention that the novella is being reprinted as a bonus in the next installment of my Comfort Cove gay horror series, due out soon!

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PRIME TIME: a little Thanksgiving horror, a little Christmas horror

While I await a deluge of new Halloween horror flicks for the season, it’s time to jump ahead a few holidays with two I found on Amazon Prime. The score positions on my holiday horror page, but will they make the season dark?

THE YEARLY HARVEST (2017)

I’m doing this backwards to save the best for last, so we shall cover Christmas before Thanksgiving.

The Yearly Harvest has some unique concepts…drawn out for 120 minutes…yet none of them ever fully drawn. I’ll say off the bat that prolific indie horror director Ryan Callaway knows how to establish a great frightening scene and deliver a jump scare. There are plenty of them here, I just wish they had been closer together in maybe 80 minutes rather than two hours.

Seriously, any indie director should put the brakes on when their film is “post-editing” and still runs two hours long. Either that or reconsider turning your story into a book instead. The long stretches of exposition are more digestible in novel form.

Anyway, the plot has a young reporter come to a small town that seems to be the hub of the origin of many Christmas legends and traditions…yet no one celebrates the holiday or hangs decorations.

I love this plot. There was so much that could be done with it, especially when you have 120 minutes at your disposal. Unfortunately, The Yearly Harvest plods along and never quite focuses enough to deliver a clear story or bring to life any distinct, horror-tinged Christmas folk legends.

There’s much more heard than seen as the reporter teams up with a private investigator and they do a whole lot of researching and investigating, which leads to a series of anecdotal stories that never come to fruition on the screen.

However, like I said, several great horror moments are buried within the film if you stick with it. And although the whole point is that the town doesn’t celebrate the holiday, the main characters eventually do, so there is some Christmas spirit to be found here before all is said and done.

DON’T LOOK (2018)

Not only does Luciana Faulhaber direct, get partial writing credits, and appear in this Thanksgiving backwoods slasher, but in her beautifully brief 71-minute directorial debut, she nails the genre like few indie directors can these days.

I don’t know if Luciana saved up big time, got some great crowdfunding, knows the right rich people, or just made the most of a small budget, but this is the most satisfying no nonsense, practical effects slashers I’ve seen in ages.

A group of friends comes to a cabin in the woods for Thanksgiving and then we get everything we want from a straightforward slasher. There are some gruesome and ominous signs that everything isn’t right.

There’s a creepy confrontation with locals. There’s just enough character development. There’s a killer in a mask. And loads of unapologetic sex offer up both man butt and woman boob.

And there are intense, brutal kill scenes and chase scenes that are both gritty yet polished at the same time.

There’s even a gay guy who has the guts to try to play the hero, landing this one on my die, gay guy, die! page. I highly recommend this one to all you boys, bears, and other beasts that love slashers.

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PRIME TIME: the Tooth Fairy and a Maniac Farmer at a Deadly Reunion

I can always count on Prime to toss a fresh batch of low budget horror up for me to feast on.  So let’s get right into this trio.

TOOTH FAIRY (2019)

I’m always up for something by director Louisa Warren (Curse of the Scarecrow, Bride of Scarecrow), but that made this one a bit trippy for me. Because I’m familiar with her other movies, it was distracting to discover that not only is Tooth Fairy filmed at the same farm location as Bride of Scarecrow…it also features the same actors in the staring roles, including the lead female that reminds me of Alexis Arquette…

…and hottie Manny Jai Montana, who gets shirtless briefly again in this one (thank you, Louisa Warren!).

The intro scene is not quite smoothly presented, instead jarringly thrusting us into a situation involving kids running from the freaky tooth fairy. It comes across as if we came to the movie late.

The plot has a woman, her man, and her child coming to stay at her alcoholic mom’s farm. Mom soon spouts a scary story about the tooth fairy, and before long a drifter dude appears just so he can be the first victim…in a brutal tooth removal scene. It was a strong reminder of why I keep coming back for more Louisa Warren movies.

But then the movie turns into a crazy soap opera for a majority of its running time. After the film ended, I took a moment to step away my knee-jerk feeling about it and wondered if Louisa Warren’s approach to her main female characters is something that female horror fans might appreciate more—it all just seems too melodramatic and complicated for slasher films IMO, but perhaps female horror fans can relate to a main girl who’s more than just the virgin in her group of friends?

Along with the soap opera plot, there are also various scenes thrown in with a side story about neighbor characters, which I just found confusing, and it eventually appears the tooth fairy has a little accomplice. And I’m not talking about her toothbrush.

Unfortunately, after that initial killing of the drifter, the tooth fairy doesn’t get back into action until 66 minutes in! We definitely get a bit more gore and good atmosphere, and the tooth fairy looks freaky awesome, but I generally found this effort a little messy and chaotic with an anti-climactic ending.

DEADLY REUNION (2019)

I’m always up for a “deadly reunion” movie, and while director James Cullen Bressack  (13/13/13, Bethany, 2 Jennifer, Blood Craft) throws a grindhouse filter over the film, gives us some apologetic film malfunction title card moments, and has an on-screen body count meter (none of which has been original since Planet Terror and Death Proof revived the style), this is no 80s throwback slasher.

Instead it’s more of an overdone, modern plot.

Group of friends at a house for a reunion, they get text messages saying there is something that will kill them all by midnight if they don’t do as told, and then they begin taking the challenges thrown at them, like eating human flesh and drinking weird stuff.

It’s very plodding for most of its running time, but it does finally take a more interesting, complicated turn as what they’re doing causes the members of the group to start acting out in psychotic ways.

There is also a nicely bizarre twist once the evil mastermind is revealed, although I’m don’t know that it can save this movie for viewers. As for me, one of my favorite parts of Deadly Reunion is a horrorized version of the “let’s all go to the lobby” snacks animation sequence with which we are all familiar.

Like most of Bressack’s films, this is a relatively derivative, scare-free experience. I keep watching his movies waiting for him to really hit the mark, but it has yet to happen. Considering he hasn’t made a cult classic up to this point, it’s befuddling to me that he took a snarky jab at the cult favorite Napoleon Dynamite on Twitter one day. I mean, love it or not, that film did something right to have such a following. I just think it’s a bad idea for an aspiring indie director that hasn’t quite struck gold to trash other successful indies…just comes across as envy to me.

MANIAC FARMER (2019)

Even though it’s only 71 minutes long, Maniac Farmer could have been a nasty little short…or fine just as is if it had dared to go for something a little more sick and twisted in the middle. As it stands, the only part that is highly effective is the final scene.

Basically, a sadistic gang of metal heads is terrorizing a small town, but before we can even enjoy much proof of just how vile they are, they encounter a big bearish farmer and have the tables turned on them.

Despite the satanic gang initially being huge, it’s whittled down to about three people before they encounter the farmer, which is the start of where the film misses opportunity.

Instead of a throwback slasher with a good body count, so much of the time here is filled with scenes featuring law enforcement and a detective—which I guess is supposed to add comedy elements. Unfortunately, it’s not very funny and it feels really cheap compared to the grit of the rest of the film, right down to terrible green screen, for the men are driving in a car during most of their scenes.

More importantly, the farmer, a classic case of a mama’s boy killer, could have/should have been perversely Deliverance with the metal boys, especially since there are some hints of it—he straps one up shirtless before killing him, and keeps another on a leash as his pet.

Instead of really digging into his psychology, the focus is on the mind of the chained boy—the leader of the satanic gang—and even a disturbing dream sequence paralleling his past and his present with the farmer was ripe for better development if his and the farmer’s “relationship” had dared to go there…in a depraved way, of course.

Unfortunately, there’s just nothing horrific or gruesome enough about any of it to really make your stomach turn.

Bummer, because there was so much possibility of making some homo macabre perversion happen. Otherwise, why even bother casting a big burly bear and a bunch of pretty boys? Good news is, the final frame sure allows your mind to imagine the possibilities…

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The VHS days: devouring Blood & Donuts in a Paperhouse

Here are two rather obscure films—one from 88, one from 95—that don’t quite hit the mark as horror movies for me, but both probably have a sort of cult following at this point.

PAPERHOUSE (1988)

Before Candyman, director Bernard Rose brought us this film that is essentially a fantasy movie with one good horror sequence. We carried it in the video store I worked at in those days, but despite it having a creepy cover (the eyes remind me of Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist), all I remembered about watching it back then is, well, that I watched it back then.

Revisiting it now, I can see why I didn’t retain it; all but one darkly frightening part is a sort of child’s fantasy movie. A young schoolgirl—and major brat—falls ill and begins drawing images of a house.

She starts visiting that house in her dreams and discovers that whatever she draws into her picture becomes a reality in the house, most notably a young boy she draws in the window.

They strike up a friendship, which is all pretty boring for me as it leads to the film’s major point. The young girl’s father is MIA, she wants him back in her life, and she wants him to rescue the little boy from the house. So she draws him into the photo.

Unfortunately, her drawing sucks, because she unleashes the best part of the film—a ghoulish version of her father, who chases her and the little boy around with a hammer.

This predominantly plodding film gets this one injection of intensity, and it’s a goody. The father is shockingly brutal on his daughter in this scene, considering the rest of the film is like a family fairy tale. It’s really not my kind of movie at all, but now that I’ve blogged about it, at least I’ll be able to remember it a little more if I ever need a refresher.

BLOOD & DONUTS (1995)

Having never carried this one at the video store I worked at back then, I had never even heard of it until I found it on Prime. After watching it I can say not even 90s nostalgia is strong enough to make me want it in my collection.

What I like about it:

The soundtrack includes a mix of (from a GenXer perspective) oldies like “Blue Moon”, “Mr. Sandman”, “Twilight Time”, and “I put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, as well as songs from 1990s alternative bands like Concrete Blonde and Nash the Slash.

Also, the cast includes Gordon Currie (Terror Within II, Jason Takes Manhattan, Puppet Master 4&5, The Fear: Halloween Night, The Woods) as the vampire, Louis Ferreira (Prom Night II, Naked Lunch, Dawn of the Dead remake, Saw IV) as his roommate, and David Cronenberg as a crime boss.

That’s where the fun ends for me.

This mid-90s horror (supposedly dark comedy as well…) is a drab, dreary, boring mess (aka: mid-90s horror) about a dormant vampire that is awakened from a basement by a golf ball, falls for the local doughnut store clerk, is tracked down by a jealous woman from the last time he was awake, befriends a taxi driver he has to protect from mobsters, and…I don’t know what. This agonizing film goes nowhere slow.

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It came from the middle of the 1900s…in black and white

Time to take on some old school horror as I look at four films of disembodied heads, aliens, and satanic cults.

NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST (1958)

At a little over an hour long, this is a fun and silly little sci-fi creature feature.

An astronaut crashes back to earth, and scientists soon discover he has like…little seahorses floating in his blood? It’s actually babies of a big alien life form that soon makes itself known then runs off.

The scientists want to kill it, but the astronaut insists they give it a chance…even though it has committed murder and left the body hanging upside down for them to find. So…they agree!

The movie has too much talk, but the few encounters with the alien are good old 1950s monster fun. Not to mention, how often do we get a movie in which the aliens impregnate a topless man?

Plus, the final battle really does make you question the alien’s intentions…and how smart—or not—humans are.

THE HEAD (1959)

This is my kind of old school horror, especially because it defies expectations at a time when an obvious plot should have been laying groundwork for future movies.

A scientist has discovered a way to keep a dog’s head alive (missed opportunity for a freaky scene, because we don’t see it). When he dies, his own work is used to keep him alive for his brilliant mind. You’d think his severed head would orchestrate crazy experiments, but it’s a colleague responsible for the insanity instead. Hell, even the scientist’s head knows this is amoral and demands the colleague kill him, but he refuses.

The colleague gives a hunchback nurse the normal body she desires, using the body of a hot dancer at a club! The experiment is a success, but from the moment the nurse sees a big bandage wrapped around her neck, she fears something is up and begins unraveling the truth (but not the bandage).

Nothing gory (she never does remove that bandage), but it’s a creepy concept with some surprising subject matter for its time—like the nurse feeling up her new body in a mirror, and a sculptor telling her to embrace it when she discovers it’s not actually her body…then proceeding to make a move on the bod!

THE DEVIL’S HANDS (1961)

The surfer rock intro music got my hopes up for this one, as did the initial premise. An engaged dude keeps having dreams of a beautiful blonde.

All of a sudden she appears as a doll in a store window…and the store owner claims that the guy himself came in and special ordered it from a photo!

Then he actually meets the woman, she seduces him, she brings him to a satanic cult filled with boring people dressed in average clothes, and the whole tone changes to lame, despite the promise of human sacrifice. This one has no edge at all.

THE MADMEN OF MANDORAS (1963)

Sure, it’s a horrible low budget 1960s horror sci-fi flick, but I have to give the goofy and mostly boring movie credit for its plot only two decades after World War II.

An intelligence agent and a woman head to an island where her scientist father was abducted.

Turns out crazy Nazis preserved Hitler’s head to bring it back to life! Oh if only the movie were as good as its premise. Watch The Head instead.

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The horrors of Diego Boneta

Cutie Diego Boneta was pretty high profile for a hot minute, starring in Rock Of Ages and the first season of Scream Queens. He also appeared in the kick ass horror flick Summer Camp, one of my faves in recent years. So when I watched Monster Party and discovered he was in it, I checked to see what other horror he may have been in that I’d missed, which left me with just City of Dead Men. So how were these two?

MONSTER PARTY (2018)

This is a darkly odd and gory party for horror fans with a great cast. The family throwing the party includes main witch Sarah from The Craft, Cole from Charmed, main hero girl Starlight from The Boys, and YouTube star turned actor Kian Lawley (The Chosen).

Two guys and a girl work as servers at a dinner party for the rich family, where they plan to rob the place during the festivities. Little do they know the gathering of snooty wealthy people is sort of like an AA party…for serial killers.

As the celebration gets underway, there’s some good tension created, with the slow burn promising something crazy will happen. It does with full force, and it’s quite unexpected. Blood and body parts fly as the thieves attempt to escape while avoiding all the white collar killers after the house goes into lockdown.

It is loads of fun as the egotistical serial killers don’t only go after the threesome, but begin to turn on each other. Chaos ensues, massacres abound, and there’s even a gruesome surprise waiting in the bowels of the house.

So how does Diego Boneta play into all this? He is a guest, and while it’s fun to see him as one of the bad guys for a change, his role is minor.

CITY OF DEAD MEN (2014)

Well, Diego is the star of this film, but it’s unbearable to watch despite several promising plot points and cool horror color tones.

He plays an American traveling through South America. Having run out of money, he accepts an invitation to meet a group of guys living in an abandoned asylum.

Like some sort of bad boy cult, they have raves, take hallucinogens to connect with the spirit world and face their personal demons, and delve into extreme challenges to explore their mortality—like skateboarding down winding roads wearing masks and playing chicken with motorcycles.

Meanwhile, the asylum has a tragic history in which there was a mass suicide of children, and Diego has guilt involving the death of his brother. After his first initiation with his new buddies, he is soon imagining horrific things (like a snake slithering from his mouth), and encountering a little boy with a creepy mask…who he is convinced is his brother.

Oh how good it all sounds. Instead, it is agonizingly boring and disjointed, offering little in the way of horror scares or shocks. It mostly just feels like a movie about a bunch of homeless kids throwing raves in an abandoned building, doing drugs, and occasionally taking group dares.

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DIRECT TO STREAM: the demons of Ursula Dabrowsky

These two films from writer/director Ursula Dabrowsky both have “demon” in the title, but they are not related in any way. They’re also not cookie cutter horror films, so if you like something with a unique narrative, you might want to check these two out.

FAMILY DEMONS (2009)

In the end, Family Demons is a film about child abuse and alcoholism, but I’ve seen it criticized as not being a horror film, which is just one of the infinite number of stupid things people say on the internet. It is totally framed within the context of a horror premise and only horror fans could appreciate what goes on. So yes, it’s a horror movie.

A teen girl abused by her drunken mother (and her sleazy boyfriend) eventually fights back, landing her mother in the hospital. Back home alone, she’s horrified to find that she is soon being somehow terrorized by her mother once more.

It takes a while for the ghostly aspect to begin, but once it does, it has some eerie and effective moments. It does become a bit of a one trick pony though; the same effective styles are overused. For instance: close-up of main girl’s face with focus on her eyes darting to the side as mother’s form passes in the background.

There are some very odd moments near the end—like the girl running from the house, hiding behind a random bush for a moment, then walking back home—but the final twist and how it ties into the themes of the film is pretty good.

It’s way better than most first efforts of horror directors, and I imagine Ursula herself would see the issues when watching it back now that she’s made another film.

INNER DEMON (2014)

The title clues you in to what this film is eventually about, but it’s at least a different take on what someone does with their “inner demon”, and it’s most definitely not your usual horror film plot.

A teen girl is babysitting when a couple breaks into the house and abducts her. She manages to escape them on a deserted road and finds a house to hide in…which turns out to be their home.

That long, suspenseful opening act definitely draws you in. What happens next keeps you watching, but your attention might soon begin to wander. The main girl spends a while lot of time hidden in a closet listening to the couple and watching them through a crack.

In fact, even when it’s time to fight back in the third act, she doesn’t leave the closet. Something supernatural steps in to take care of things.

I can’t say that it totally makes sense, and what really transpires might be up for interpretation. It’s also not exactly terrifying, although it does give you a film with a twist to think about.

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