What better than Pledge Night to kick off the gay 90s?

Pledge Night, which has just been released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, is about as bad as any other slasher that moved us away from the eighties and into the nineties back in the day. No atmosphere, no scares, no compelling score, weak attempts at a wise-cracking killer—it’s right up there with the tone of other post-awesome eighties era slashers like Slumber Party Massacre 2, Prom Night 2 and 3, and Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3. Yet…it’s not a crappy sequel. It’s just crap.

This slasher trash starts with 45 minutes of guys being perversely hazed—a delicious reminder of how simultaneously gay and homophobic frats (and horror movies) can be. These boys should have been made honorary members of an actual frat after this movie considering what they’re put through on camera. They get a paddle to the ass.

Unshaved ass gets branded.

The boys pick cherries off a block of ice with their asses while wearing jockstraps then eat them.

There’s even gross stuff like being forced to eat shit from a toilet bowl and being covered in bugs.

There’s also talk of how important it is to have one black guy and one Jew in the frat. The black dude is gorgeous, the Jewish guy is hot and hairy.

Most importantly, there’s a brief story of a kid drenched in acid as part of a hazing years before.

Finally, acid kid returns as some sort of biker hippie corpse to kill all the frat boys and their girls. He looks absolutely ridiculous, and his one-liners are no better.

And as with all these bad late 80s slashers, the plot is convoluted for no good reason. Before the supernatural killer takes full control of the situation, a psychotic pledge snaps and handles the initial dirty work for him. Weird.

The kills are over the top, including a toilet bowl kill and a cherry bomb up the ass—and yet the dude’s biggest concern when his pants are pulled down is that the killer is a homo.

Boobs and blood abound, the music is brought to us by Anthrax, a big sword comes into play to ensure the film is as absurd as a 1990 slasher should be, and what else do you need to hear before you take the plunge and add this shitty classic to your collection like I did?

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The only double feature I needed for Halloween 2019

Eureka! After blogging about a bunch of highly disappointing Halloween themed horror movies for 2019 (which have already been added to the complete holiday horror page), it’s the final two releases that are the winners and will definitely be making it into my movie collection. Here’s a quick look at what to expect from Trick and 10/31 Part 2.

TRICK (2019)

An opening massacre at a Halloween party seemed to promise a movie that would be too good to be true. It was really good, and that’s the truth. The director of My Bloody Valentine and Hulu’s Into the Dark installment Flesh & Blood doesn’t fuck around with Trick. It was all a treat for me.

HOLY SHIT! This is a non-stop slice and slash Halloween flick. Omar Epps plays a detective hunting down Trick, a seemingly supernatural killer who comes back every year to make mincemeat out of a new pile of people and becomes a man of mythological proportions on the Internet.

The action never ends as Trick taunts and terrorizes detectives in between hacking up victims each Halloween night, only to disappear for another year.

Trick is also a big fan of the holiday who delivers the seasonal spirit big time, plus there are plenty of suspenseful moments, but it’s not so much scary as it is a murder marathon.

Also in the film are Jamie Kennedy as a doctor…

…and Tom Atkins as an extraneous character who seems to be written into the movie just so they can have Tom Atkins in the movie acting very Tom Atkins. But he’s not too much of a distraction from the much more important focus of the movie.

While Trick may at first seem to be moving too fast and furious to have much of a story or character development, it actually comes together quite tightly with a really fresh, rockin’ twist at the end.

As a bonus, Trick introduced me to a new song for my Future Flashbacks modern wave show: “Lesson Learned” by Pale Honey.

 

10/31 Part 2 (2019)

The first 10/31 Halloween anthology was a blind buy for me, and I was quite satisfied. 10/31 Part 2 isn’t on physical media yet, so I had to rent the stream. While the completist in me demands that I own it if it does hit DVD or Blu, it’s definitely not as good as the first film, but it does have its moments, and sees the return of its horror hostess.

Here’s the breakdown of stories:

The faux trailers that open the film are super tight and nail the 80s with the style and type of synth score that made the first film so good. Honestly, most of them were more satisfying than a majority of the tales in this sequel. Now on to the stories.

1st story – Save the best for first. This one is so strong that all the others just can’t live up to it. A babysitter invites her heavy metal boyfriend over…and they discover something alive in the basement. Things get quite brutal and awesomely macabre.  There seems to be a perfect zinger moment for the story to end, but then it keeps going! It’s much more complicated than it needed to be, however, even the extended story is totally satisfying and freaky.

2nd story – This tale was agonizing. A guy picks up a hitchhiker on Halloween who isn’t quite right. It’s virtually entirely dialogue driven, and there’s way too much uninteresting exposition. It was like listening to an audiobook rather than watching a movie.

3rd story – This campy throwaway backwoods slasher spoof is fun, short, and silly.

4th story – Another slasher spoof about killers on the prowl on Halloween night, this one takes a while to get to its point…and then its point takes a bit too long to make its point, causing much of the humor to overstay its welcome. Sure, it could have been tightened up a bit, but the concept of the twist is good stuff, there are loads of kills, and it’s all about the holiday. Two highlights for me were a guy in Daisy Dukes…

…and my Facebook buddy David E. McMahon in one of the lead roles!

5th story – The fifth story is very metaphorical with a hellbent religious angle. A young nun must face her demons after she gives in to sin. Some gory bits and a clever tie-in to the first and best story make this a strong way to bookend the movie.  

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Do famous horror faces make everything better?

Holiday Hell, Portal, and Devil’s Junction are three indie horror films featuring at least one horror icon in a fairly significant role for a change rather than just a cameo and top billing. Is more screen time for some of our faves all it takes to make these three worth a watch?

HOLIDAY HELL (2019)

Just like the anthology film Holidays, Holiday Hell features stories that revolve around holidays. But don’t expect a whole year’s worth of seasonal tales. There are only four here.

Jeffrey Combs owns a shop. A young woman comes in for a last minute Christmas gift. He gifts her with some horror stories instead…

1st story – On Valentine’s Day, a group of friends is terrorized and killed by someone in a doll mask. This is simple, low budget slasher fun. It’s dirty and gory with a creepy killer, and one of my favorites in the movie.

2nd story – It’s killer doll horror and babysitter horror all in one…with the doll being an evil Hanukkah rabbi doll. An okay doll slasher, but I still prefer the first tale.

3rd story – This one takes too long getting to its predictable point. Treated like crap by his wife, a guy eventually snaps and does what most guys dressed in Santa suits do in Christmas horror.

4th story – Although Christmas is mentioned, the winter solstice seems to be the calendar date celebrated in this tale. A young woman rents a room in a couple’s home, and soon things seem to be going on outside at night…and the locals are weird. This is as derivative as it gets.

The wraparound conclusion is much longer and complex than the quick zinger endings wraparounds usually get, probably because they wanted to make the most of Jeffrey Combs while they had him. And since the wraparound is substantial and takes place on Christmas, they could have skipped the tired killer Santa story and taken on a different holiday instead. For a film about holiday horror tales, Holiday Hell is disappointingly lacking in holidays. Even so, it still gets a spot on the full holiday horror page.

PORTAL (2019)

Portal is yet another horror film about a ghost hunter show, but it’s refreshing that it doesn’t trap us behind the camera lens the whole time. Not only is it not found footage, it also runs a gloriously short 75 minutes long.

The downside? It is quite generic. Only moments of humor sprinkled throughout and the always likable Ryan Merriman (Halloween Resurrection, Ring 2) as the lead make it somewhat entertaining until something finally happens.

Ryan and his ghost hunting crew steal a secret, forbidden, haunted location from their “supplier.”

As with most of these movies, there is way too much setup as the team roams around getting to know the location, with things occasionally moving in the background to let us know something more substantial will eventually happen.

The only highlight here is that Heather Langenkamp shows up to help them close the portal they accidentally opened, which caused them to release, well, nothing all that frightening at all.

The best parts for me include one of the girls going sort of demonic and chasing her friends, and Heather outshining everyone when she reminds us how horror screams are supposed to be done.

DEVIL’S JUNCTION: HANDY DANDY’S REVENGE (2019)

I know people hate Night of the Living Dead 3D, but the director of that film makes a killer puppet film that’s so messy I finally feel vindicated in thinking Night of the Living Dead 3D isn’t half bad.

Devil’s Junction could have been simple, stupid, killer puppet fun. A group of kids sneaks into an old abandoned TV studio, couples off to have sex, and encounters a bunch of creepy puppets from an old kids’ show.

If only it were that basic. Instead, the movie seems to want to be deeper and more complicated than just another throwaway killer puppet flick—which, let’s face it, is what most of us would actually prefer from our indie horror.

Bill Moseley and Bill Oberst Jr. are on the scene and bogged down by so much plodding exposition I was convinced they were as uninterested in every word they were speaking as I was. They do try to make the best out of what appear to be action moments that weren’t officially blocked, but when two horror actors of this caliber are in scenes together that come across as local community theater, it makes me kind of wish they had just been relegated to one-minute cameos and top billing.

Even the puppets fail to entertain. There are some cheesy one-liners from the leader of the puppet pack, but the puppets do barely any killing, get little screen time, and seem just as bored as the live action actors. Meanwhile, the group of kids spends most of the movie walking around the building looking for a way out. Unfortunately, they also can’t find any tension, atmosphere, or scares.

Just for the hell of it, there are masked figures thrown in. One eventually takes the mask off and is actually related to the story being told, but the opening scene has another masked guy who feels like he accidentally walked onto the wrong movie set for a moment and they just forgot to edit the footage out.

The nail in the coffin is the use of a pop metal song for the opening and closing credits. It is definitely catchy, but it totally kills the possibility of establishing a horror tone right from the start. And since the rest of the movie isn’t very focused, it’s not much of a surprise that a performance video by the band is thrown in during the closing credits.

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A trio of upcoming horror flix in a variety of subgenres

I made a triple feature weekend out of forthcoming horror films Devil’s Acid, D-Railed, and The 11th Patient, and I personally have a favorite of the three. Let’s see which one.

DEVIL’S ACID (2018)

Devil’s Acid is going for the whole sleazy, over-the-top, offensive, surreal drug trip vibe. I’ve been looking forward to checking it out for a while, and now that I have I can’t decide if the movie was trying too hard to be trashy…or if it didn’t try hard enough.

It’s presented as a “scary” story a dad is telling his two kids. Scenes of this trio reacting to the plot as it unfolds are injected periodically throughout the film. While they aim to be humorous, they just weren’t funny to me at all, and therefore added nothing.

The plot focuses on a total douche bag little guy. We first meet his caricature of a racist character as he belittles his help—all people of color.

Next, he throws a party/contest for a bunch of friends at an abandoned prison. The challenge: take his special brand of acid and then dare to stay in select parts of the prison overnight.

Once the group splits up, everyone starts tripping and having sex. There’s lesbianism, puking, human sacrifices, the devil taunting everyone and messing with their heads (he’s just a dude in a cape with little horns glued to his forehead), dildos thrown in just so the film can appear more whacky than it is, and my personal favorite horror scene involving a woman give birth.

It is all acid trippy for sure, but there was nothing here that I found fun, funny, or scary, no matter what kind of weirdness was thrown at me.

To further drag out my disappointment, one of the kids listening to the story keeps interrupting and offering his own thoughts on how the story should go, so we are also subjected to alternate scenes that the dad then rejects.

THE 11TH PATIENT (2018)

I would describe The 11th Patient as Silent Hill (the video game) meets The Cell (the movie). The unique approach definitely had me hooked for a while. A teenage boy is found in a coma in the woods, and a specialist with the ability to go into his dreams, well, goes into his dreams.

A majority of the film has no dialogue. We follow the kid through his nightmarish experiences as he moves from one location to another with a lantern in hand.

A masked figure is chasing him, and he also runs into various hellish baddies, which is super chilling…at first.

Unfortunately, that’s the extent of what happens. He’s never actually in danger, so he repeatedly sees something, is chased by it, and simply gets it off his tail by moving to a new location. He even reacts with dream-like disconnect, never seeming as terrified as one would be in his situation.

The music has that eerie Silent Hill (the video game) clang, the kid reminded me of Stephen Geoffreys of the original Fright Night, and with about 30 minutes left there’s finally a little dialogue and an attempt to go into the dream to rescue him. For me, it was a highly anti-climactic finale.

D-RAILED (2018)

The opening credits borrowing the underwater POV of Jaws was the first sign for me that I was going to like this one. D-Railed is so my kind of creature feature.

It starts on Halloween night with a group of people in costume getting on a murder mystery train. I was a little bummed that once we board it, Halloween is totally forgotten.

The murder mystery segment is a little longer than it needed to be, but then things go horribly wrong, the train crashes, and one group is stranded in the middle of the water in a runaway car.

Before long, they’re being torn apart by a slimy sea monster reminiscent of The Creature from the Black Lagoon! The monster rox, there’s good gore, and it’s the fricking women who won’t take any shit whenever the attacks come.

The only part of D-Railed that didn’t do much for me was the end. Wouldn’t you know Lance Henriksen shows up just in time to reveal the twist, and it’s about as cliché as having Lance Henriksen in your movie.

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STREAM QUEEN: Dead Trigger vs. Little Monsters

Two films, both with familiar names and grisly zombies. But is that enough?

DEAD TRIGGER (2017)

Following up on his movies Battle of the Damned and Don’t Kill It, Dolph Lundgren stars in another horror film…that I’m surprised doesn’t air on SyFy in heavy rotation.

This is as SyFy as it gets, with minimal plot beyond a military team infiltrating an island, rescuing a scientist, and battling hordes of zombies and a Russian baddie. Yes, Dolph has come a long way, battling bad Russians instead of being one of them.

On top of that, while the zombie makeup is good, we have yet another zombie film that opts for CGI blood splatters for every kill. Why do filmmakers refuse to invest in blood squibs these days? I just don’t get it.

Despite its thin plot and absolutely nothing original in terms of zombie action, Dead Trigger has a little something different to offer. And I mean a little. There’s a minor subplot about recruiting video game geeks to help fight the zombies. It’s virtually an afterthought and is only fully explained at the last second.

While the movie takes itself seriously, there is a scene near the end that is comical, and I’m not sure if it’s intended or not. Even the zombies look like they want to laugh. Very weird.

Meanwhile, aside from Dolph, there are a few other familiar faces in very minor roles, including Lil’ Romeo and Grey’s Anatomy homophobe Isaiah Washington. What I’m saying is, if you watch just one Dolph Lundgren horror flick, watch Don’t Kill It.

LITTLE MONSTERS (2019)

This (supposed) zombedy got tons of hype because Hollywood “it” girl of the moment Lupita Nyong’o stars in it, coming off films like Us and Black Panther. Personally, I would think she made this film before either of those because, quite frankly, her performance is as forgettable as the film, especially since she’s not given much to work with.

The story focuses on a slacker who goes on a class trip to a park with his nephew and has to help teacher Lupita keep the students alive when zombies strike.

Along for the ride is Josh Gad as an asshole childrens’ entertainer who is only looking out for himself. His character is loud and crass—a tired caricature that is in no way funny.

There are a lot of zombies and some gory moments, but there are no scares, barely any funny moments (the few there are go mostly to the nephew), and the adults constantly break into sing-alongs with a ukulele to keep the kids from getting scared (Taylor Swift, Neil Diamond).

Essentially, this is a family film with zombies. I was bored, my hubba hubba gave up and went to bed, and I was left alone feeling like it was never going to end.

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PRIME TIME: When it’s not a werewolf or Bigfoot movie

When I recently did a multi-movie werewolf blog, I had American Beast and Fang all queued up, but it turns out neither is actually a werewolf film, so…they got booted to this blog. What exactly are they then? Let’s find out.

AMERICAN BEAST (2014)

I really didn’t expect anything this film delivers. The opening scene of a guy stumbling out of a bar and into the snowy woods to piss, inevitably getting dragged away by an unseen “American Beast”, definitely got my attention.

But then the movie spirals into territory that had me really close to giving up. If it weren’t for modern devices to keep me entertained, I wouldn’t have made it through the time it took for me to become interested in again. However, in hindsight, I actually love what was happening here. Unfortunately, not understanding what the film is going for could easily have viewers bailing at the point where I decided to stay—or should I say, where I chose to leave the movie playing in the background while I scrolled through social media.

See, there’s this guy who begins to piece together his family’s encounters with some sort of beast in the wilderness over the years—and with a Native American woman who kept trying to warn them not to fuck with the land.

The film presents the story as flashbacks to each generation being attacked by the creature. It’s the technique used that could easily lose the audience, especially if viewers have never seen a horror movie made before the year 2000. For starters, the first few segments are in black and white, the acting is corny, and the horror elements are weak. However, as I stuck with it, I began to realize that the goal is to intentionally present the horror in the style and tone of the time period in which it’s taking place. Brilliant.

Once color poured onto the screen, and we were hovering around the 1970s creature feature period, I was becoming nostalgic, and the horror and suspense were getting better.

And then…TOTAL EIGHTIES. Teens go camping in the woods, it looks like we’re watching a VHS tape, everyone is having sex, and there’s sleazy, gory slaying. I fricking loved it.

Segue into…found footage! Brilliant. Kids head into the woods with cameras to document the stories of the beast…

There was thought put into the details here, right down to there finally being a person of color in the found footage cast of characters now that we’re moving into horror movies in the new millennium.

When the guy researching all these happenings becomes the focus again, he goes into the woods himself. The final encounter at last shows us the beast, and it is actually way cool once you get over the shock of it being nowhere near what you expected (I’m not going to spoil it with a pic). Plus, there’s some fun gore for the modern day audience.

Sadly, American Beast will probably never get the credit or recognition for what it pulls off, and some filmmakers with a bigger budget and more name recognition will probably steal the idea and have a hit on their hands.

FANG (aka: Prairie Dog) (2015)

This film has a basic premise—people go missing in a small town and there are reports of a wild animal on the loose. So the sheriff teams up with an environmentalist to determine what’s going on.

Damn, the sheriff is sexy…

Early on we see a flash of animal teeth and POV as someone is attacked, but then we get 45 minutes of talk. If you can muster up the discipline to actually pay attention, there’s more going on than just the animal.

There are some eye-catching color palettes used that present scenes from creature POV, but sometimes these scene go on for a while and it’s hard to see what’s actually happening.

There are also a couple of eerie scenes—my fave being one with a little girl looking out a window during a rainstorm at night—but most of what doesn’t involve talking here just involves people walking or running through the woods.

This drags us along until we finally get some monster action at the end. I can’t say I know exactly what we were seeing, because I counted at least three different kinds of creatures, including humans that seem convinced they are some sort of feral beast.

The film is quite sterile for the most part, so there’s no gore. It feels kind of like a “family-friendly” horror flick from the 80s, because there’s major focus on two children.

While Fang has its moments, personally, American Beast is the winner for me in this double feature.

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HALLOWEEN HORROR ROUNDUP 2019: slashers and a couple of anthologies

Time to get to a load more Halloween flicks being released for public consumption in time for the holiday (for a full list of Halloween horror flicks, check out my holiday horror page). Some of these barely touch upon the holiday, some barely deliver complete, comprehensive stories, and one is a sequel. But are any of these five worth a yearly revisit in October?

THE CURSE OF HALLOWEEN JACK (2019)

The Legend of Halloween Jack was an okay indie Halloween slasher I picked up on DVD last year, so when I discovered there was a sequel, naturally I had to add it to my collection.

In classic sequel style, the scarecrow killer is resurrected through the most absurd means; a cult brings him back with a sacrificial ritual, and then Halloween Jack just goes around killing (mostly) random people.

In response to the killing spree in the first movie, the mayor decides to cancel Halloween. Yet the cancellation of the holiday has no bearing on the proceedings.

It’s only Halloween Jack who serves as a foil for the unfolding events—namely, kids decide to have a secret Halloween party.

The film introduces a few characters, including a gay guy who could have been fun and at least lands this one on the die, gay guy, die! page.

But unfortunately no core group is fully realized because they’re disposed of too quickly!

The only character that matters is the main girl. Luckily for her, some caricature wearing an eye patch comes out of the woodwork with all the answers about how to kill Jack.

While the first film had a nice, lengthy party massacre scene, the sequel falls disappointingly short—Halloween Jack busts into the party, but people run helter-skelter with no real payoff (aka: slaughter). If the goal was to avoid a mere repeat of the first movie’s massacre, then, well…maybe a Halloween party shouldn’t have been the focus of the movie again.

There’s a good body count, a number of meta references to other horror movies, and several scenes that seem to pay homage to John Carpenter films, but overall the film seems to just go through the motions. I much prefer the first film (but of course I’ll buy part 3 if one is made).

THE TRICK OR TREAT PICTURE SHOW (2019)

These days, the goal of trying to bring an 80s throwback feel to indie movies has become a huge cliché, and what’s worse is that most of them fail miserably.

Anthology film The Trick Or Treat Picture Show goes for the VHS tape vibe big time visually—the film quality is definitely hurting—and it’s drenched with 80s style synth music. However, it’s also padded with so many “intermissions” it gets annoying…not to mention, these clips look like they came from the 1960s, not the 80s.

The other big problem…the stories. Most don’t seem to bother to end. They go absolutely nowhere, an intermission begins, and then a different story starts and you’re left wondering why the previous one never concluded!

A few of the stories are even done documentary style…as in, a character is interviewed and essentially tells a story. There’s no actual visual story.

There is a total Michael Myers rip-off, and one of the documentary stories gets into the Amityville house a little, but none of that is enough to make this worth watching. Also important to note—the stories aren’t particularly Halloween themed despite the title. There’s more Halloween spirit during the intermissions.

ONE NIGHT IN OCTOBER (2017)

This anthology tries to interweave stories in the same universe, a la Trick r Treat.

However, it not only never ties them in fluidly, it also jumps back and forth between storylines throughout rather than focus on one tale at a time. And only one tale really relates specifically to Halloween.

One story follows two couples—straight and lesbian—that have car trouble after strolling through a cornfield, and begin getting hunted down by a scarecrow killer.

Another tale has a woman who just moved into a new home decorating her house for Halloween when she suddenly falls victim to home invaders in masks.

The third story barely feels like a story—just a guy and girl seemingly hashing out their relationship troubles—until it eventually presents a sudden horror element late in the film.

There are a few twists in the stories, but overall there’s nothing frightening or suspenseful here, and the way the stories progress is a little messy.

PUMPKINS (2018)

The title and plot make this an October movie, but not specifically a Halloween film, since the holiday is not referenced.

An old man protective of his garden is harassed and dies in his pumpkin patch.

His appreciative vines then resurrect him as a pumpkin-headed killer.

It’s not enough that he goes around killing random people camping in the woods, but the pumpkins from his patch also roll around chasing and killing victims.

It’s kind of goofy fun (for instance, there’s pumpkin POV), and there are some okay kills along the way, but overall the film and the characters run around aimlessly. For instance…the movie ends when the pumpkins simply decide to return to their home…leaving a whole bunch of the cast behind…and alive!

INTO THE DARK: UNCANNY ANNIE (2019)

Paul Davis, director of The Body, last year’s Halloween installment of the Hulu Into The Dark series, brings us a much less edgy, less unique, and less gory Halloween flick this year.

Uncanny Annie is generic teen horror stuff.


Cute, but inexcusable to dress for Christmas on Halloween…

Kids play a spooky board game on Halloween, get pulled into the game, and are terrorized by Uncanny Annie and her killer friends.

Basically the group dies off one by one as each player encounters the creepy figures drawn on the cards they select while playing.

And in true PG-13 horror fashion circa 2005, ghost girl Annie is pale-faced and riddled with cheesy flicker effects.

It’s serviceable if your itching for the familiar, but there’s nothing truly frightening happening here. I do love the title though.

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It’s Prime time for some indie werewolf flicks

Good or bad, once in a while I need a werewolf fix. So…were these four I watched on Amazon Prime good or bad?

BONEHILL ROAD (2017)

The first werewolf film up is the second film I’ve covered from director Todd Sheets in the past few weeks. While I didn’t love Clownado, I’ve been looking forward to Bonehill Road.

Here’s the catch. This is like two different horror films in one. The werewolves, which are wicked cool old school costumes and not CGI, barely play a part in the film until the last half-hour.

Before that, this is a sleazy, low budget psycho killer movie. A mother and daughter attempt to run away from mom’s abusive man, crash their car when they hit a “wild animal” on the road, and end up in a house in the middle of nowhere.

They encounter Linnea Quigley and a couple other girls being tortured and terrorized. This captivity segment is the bulk of the film until finally…the werewolves bust in!

For me the werewolf segment was so much fun, complete with a practical effects transformation.

And while I appreciate the approach of mixing genres, I just couldn’t get into the torture and gore part of the film that preceded it. Do make sure to stick around for the post-credits scene. It is possibly the best part of the film–fun and werewolf awesome, with my Facebook buddy David E. McMahon flashing his furries in a transformation scene that made me cough up a hairball.

CARNIVORE: WEREWOLF OF LONDON (2017)

There’s not much substance to this werewolf flick, and that’s fine by me. A couple goes to a cabin in the woods, has a lot of sex, and is watched then terrorized by a werewolf.

The woman looks like Selma Blair.

The guy is one of a kind and so damn hot, with a bald head, a beautiful, huge honker you could ride all night, and a tight bod.

The shots of chest and butt are just icing on the cake.

  The nose is the cake. Mmm. I just want to deep throat that big piece of perfection.

Anyway, the film initially feels like a suspenseful slow burn, with some effective flashes of the werewolf lurking around the house and peering through the windows. Unfortunately, that happens over and over and over, making the brief 82-minute length feel longer.

Eventually the couple starts to battle the beast, and while it’s great to have a costume werewolf instead of CGI werewolf, the beast is not as cool looking once we finally see it in full light.

There are barely any kills, but there is some nice gore when the werewolf does claim victims. Finally, the initial twist is obvious, however the film takes an unexpected turn at the end and even has a fun final scene.

WEREWOLVES OF THE THIRD REICH (2017)

Director Adam Jones is one of those prolific horror directors I’ll always check out because I’ve enjoyed some of his previous films, even if not every one of them. Werewolves of the Third Reich falls into the latter category.

I’m not sure what the thought process was behind this film, but when I tell you a majority of it is all talk with no werewolf action, if you don’t believe me and watch anyway, I say in advance… “Told ya!”

So what’s all the talk about? How am I supposed to know? I got bored and tuned most of it out. But there are Nazis, Americans, and a crazy scientific plot. There’s some talk between military men about racism in the military. And finally, 65 minutes in, there’s an injection and some cool old school transformation…into a semi-werewolf.

Before the end there are a few more semi-werewolves, and at least a little gore. You just have to decide if it’s worth sitting through all the talk to get to this bit of horror excitement. Personally, I’d rather just watch a hairier werewolf movie.

IRON WOLF (aka: Werewolf Terror) (2013)

More Nazi scientists making werewolves! They only do it in the opening scene and feed the thing some humans. It’s quite funny watching someone off-screen throws buckets of blood at the actor.

Then it’s modern day, and a punk band wants to have a concert in an old Nazi lab. Yeah…that Nazi lab.

Aside from too much exploration time at the beginning, once the leader singer opens the vaults and lets out a dude in a cheesy werewolf costume and Nazi uniform, I felt like I was catapulted back to the eighties.

It might not fly with anyone born after like 1990, but this is the kind of low budget werewolf crap I grew up with, and I loved every minute of it—the uneven acting, the poor lighting, the awesomely mediocre special effects, and a group of stupid kids running around getting slaughtered.

And don’t turn it off when the end credits start to roll, because the movie keeps going.

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Twice touched by Tara

I figured I’d make this a double feature blog since Tara Reid appears in both films—neither of which is a Sharknado movie. What The Fields and The Art of the Dead also have in common is that Tara Reid is barely in either of them, but gets top billing because she was in American Pie and Urban Legend twenty years ago.

THE FIELDS (2011)

I went in blind, so when the words “based on true events” flashed across the screen at the beginning of The Fields, I was immediately expecting to be completely uninterested.

But soon after Tara Reid drops off her son to live with his grandparents on their farm, my interest was piqued. We say goodbye to Tara for most of the film, and Cloris Leachman steps in to save the day with her performance as the grandmother. I can’t imagine who thought it made sense to have Tara Reid in the opening scene of a movie starring Cloris Leachman.

I was hooked once it became clear the film takes place during the Manson family trial. The boy is fascinated and terrified by the story, which infiltrates his everyday life and magnifies his trauma from having his life uprooted.

On top of that, his grandmother warns him to stay out of the cornfields, he doesn’t listen, and he discovers something horrific.

The film wonderfully builds a creepy slow burn and quite successfully puts us in the boy’s head. We are led to believe something terrifying awaits in the fields, but a lot of what the boy experiences seems surreal, as if he’s imagining it or directing all his fears into horror of his own making.

And that’s where this one can throw horror fans for a loop. It’s a hard film to market because of the approach it takes to make a mystery/thriller feel like horror.

The film becomes more muddied as it progresses rather than clarifying matters, and rather than a mind-blowing climax, it’s tame and grounded in reality, with a disappointing final scene that leads everyone to the field, including Tara. That’s what happens when shit is based on a true story…truth is rarely better than fiction.

ART OF THE DEAD (2019)

A crazy beast, plenty of blood, and cheap, tawdry, somewhat twisted sexual elements are a guarantee in a Rolfe Kanefsky horror movie, so they are always an instant blind buy on DVD for me. After Party Bus To Hell was released last year, I didn’t expect to get another film from him so soon. So…yippee for me!

Art of The Dead delivers bizarre, trashy horror reminiscent of the direct-to-video indies I devoured in the late 80s, and even has a few familiar faces to start things off…Richard Grieco and Tara Reid, of course…without them sticking around long enough to ruin it. However, Tara playing a minor role as an art dealer in this type of film just makes more sense.

The film is about a wealthy family that buys a series of animal paintings at auction…and doesn’t heed a one-eyed priest’s warning about the inherent evil of the art.

There are a few gratuitous gore scenes to warm us up, including one featuring horror daddy John Molinaro, then everyone in the family falls under the spell of the art, which affects each of them in a different way. The good news is it always involves blood and sex.

The hot leading man from Kanefsky’s The Black Room gets weird…after first getting some.

The hot son gets inspired to paint using blood sacrifices for inspiration…while shirtless.

The innocent daughter becomes a slut, the mother begins an affair with a demon beast…

There’s a lot going on here. This is definitely one of Kanefsky’s films that derails a little and also runs a bit too long, but I’m such a fan of his wacky style that I got back on board when all hell breaks loose at the end…including a character entering the world of the paintings and encountering some bizarre creatures.

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DIRECT TO DVD and Streaming: the horror of Andy Palmer

Having seen director Andy Palmer’s films Find Me and The Funhouse Massacre, I added a few more of his films into my watchlist. However, the one I really want to see isn’t readily available yet, but if the rumors I’ve heard about it are true, a whole lot of horror fans are going to want to see it. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick look at two more Andy Palmer films I checked out on Prime.

BADLANDS OF KAIN (2016)

Running 110 minutes, Badlands of Kain is beyond a slow burn—it is repetitively ominous without delivering on its promises until the very end and could have been streamlined to 80 minutes.

The opener alone sets us up for more than we get, with a bitchy wife being put in her place, permanently.

Then we meet two young women on a road trip. The car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they get towed to a small town, and have to stay overnight. The locals are eerily religious, and one of the girls begins seeing violent situations that aren’t really happening.

Virtually every suspense scene as the film crawls forward leads to a dead end, so we have to wait a long time to find out what’s really going on as the girls kill time in the town. The final twist is okay, but we’ve seen it dozens of times before, and this brings nothing new to the mix.

ALIEN STRAIN (2014)

Again, not one of Palmer’s most original ideas, this is a low budget alien abduction film.

A very cute guy is locked in a mental institution telling his story of what he actually thinks happened to his missing girlfriend when they went into the woods together…

Presented in flashbacks, the film tells the very slow and uninspired story of him trying to find his missing woman…with a little help from one of the girls from Badlands of Kain. There are some simple, alien-esque hallucinations along the way, but the leading man’s visual appeal is mostly what kept me interested, because this isn’t exactly Fire In The Sky.

Eventually the girlfriend returns, but she’s…different. The truth finally comes out when they go back into the woods. It’s the best part of the film, but is also basically spoiled by the cover art.

I definitely prefer Find Me and The Funhouse Massacre over these two. Here’s hoping Palmer’s latest film gets a wide release.

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