Movie A Day 2017! 09-15: Golden Globes Girls

It’s inauguration week in the USA! What new horrors will 2017 release after the never-ending popular culture death knell that was 2016? Who cares! It’s movies we’re about here on the rarely read Movie A Day blog! Here’s what I tucked into this past week.

009 01/08 The 74th Golden Globe Awards (2017) 2/5   This show is only ever as good as it’s host, which means it was terrible since Jimmy Fallon is pretty much unwatchable. The real take away for me though is how completely out of touch I am with the modern day movie business. It’s crazy. I haven’t heard of 80% of the movies and shows up for these awards. Some movie blog writer, eh?

010 01/08 Come Deadly (1973) 2.5/5   This one was maybe the scuzziest film yet out of the Bizarre Art boxset. A murderer is on the loose, raping and strangling theatre folk. I can’t help but think someone saw a giallo, decided to make a hardcore version for a hundred bucks and this was the result. It doesn’t work as a suspense or a porn, but the theatre troupe “Hey guys, let’s make a movie!” no budget feel has its charms.

011 01/08 Mania (1971) 2/5   This one decides to show up “Come Deadly” by cutting the rape aspect and instead having the murders happen after consensual sex scenes, the features an incest subplot to keep everything gross and scuzzy. A strict headmistress and her son are running a boarding school for troubled girls and the girls are getting killed. Tries to set up a red herring despite showing the face of the murderer during the second killing. Ugly stuff that’s a bit too inept to be sleazy fun like “Come Deadly”.

012 01/10 Gilmore Girls Season 2 (2002) 3.5/5   Running the series before watching the Netflix update. This one finds the series getting a more serious tone as Rory discovers the joys of boy trouble as brooding “Jess” is introduced and Lorelai continues to be mostly self absorbed. The show is so well written it’s hard not to get caught up in it. Sean Gunn as the ever annoying “Kirk” is really starting to stand out. That said, all the men prospects for the girls are insufferable dip-shits. I’ve basically turned into their dad where “No man is good enough for my girls!”.

013 01/11 Daughters of Darkness (1975) 2.5/5   The weirdness continues with this one. A young writer rents a room from a Satanist hippy chick and gets enthralled by Satanic forces. Sort of. This is one of those old porns that are so cheap and bad while being so ambitious that it goes around the corner and ends up being pretty good.

014 01/13 The Unholy Child (1973) 2/5   The Bizarre Art Theatre set comes to a close with this one. A Navy man returns home to find himself stalked by a mysterious man. Flat out boring porn offering that never delivers outside of how awful it is.

This boxset is easily one of the weirder things I’ve watched. The appeal is there for nobody. The porn “action” is atrocious, the acting terrible, the plots are horrible, and the look is cheaper than dirt. They have a “Hey gang, let’s make a porn film!” vibe which makes zero sense. It all adds up to being pretty fascinating stuff. My only complaint with the set is there’s no notes, no explanation, you put the disc in and it starts playing. I want to know more! Where do these come from? Why do they exist? Who thought they were a good idea? You guys didn’t even hear about the Bigfoot one, I watched it before Jan 1st.


015 01/14 Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (2011) 4/5   Harryhausen is easily the most influential special effects man in the history of film, having perfected stop-motion animation. This documentary is the perfect round up of Ray’s career featuring himself and others talking about his films and process. It’s packed with clips both from the films and behind the scenes. If there’s any complaint it’s that it nearly all professional and doesn’t get much into his private life. Which may be fitting for a man whose life was largely spent alone with models. Great stuff, another must watch for film fans. The Arrow Academy disc I’m watching is feature packed. 

I’m at 15 films on Jan 15th, not bad! As new readers can see, I cheat a bit. Obviously the Golden Globes isn’t a movie. It is fucking long though so I count it. TV series get counted as a film when I watch a season. DEAL WITH IT!

Know a film friend with time on their hands? Any comments, shares, tweets etc are appreciated.

Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 3

The world continues to be scary, but not as scary as the past. Last October anyway when I ventured deep into the scary movie cannon and really started to binge hard. Join me, wont you?

054 10/20 Microwave Massacre (1983) Blu-ray 3/5   Call it low expectations, but this one is pretty good. Stand up legend Jackie Vernon stars as a man who’s so sick of his wife’s fancy microwave meals that he eats her. It’s played for laughs, but there’s few laughs to be found. It’s cheap, the acting is terrible, the gore is lousier than Herschel Gordon Lewis but it manages to work. This is one I would of skipped in the VHS era but it managed to surprise me.

055 10/20 Slugs (1988) Blu-ray 3/5   Another one from the VHS era I would of skipped, and another case of low expectations. Surprisingly they play this one pretty straight considering the stupid plot of slugs attacking an American small town. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to unseat Jaws or anything, more of a case of it’s not completely shit.

056 10/20 The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971) Blu-ray 3/5   Pretty typical giallo that focuses more on police procedure than the actual murders. The plot is the typical convoluted “Who done it?” thing, this time trying to find the “Park Killer”. That said, it’s good enough to keep you interested.

057 10/20 Vamp (1986) Blu-ray 3/5   A couple of frat boys looking for strippers stumble upon a club full of VAMPIRES! I had forgotten all about this one having not seen it since the VHS debut. It’s not bad. Grace Jones manages to pull off a silent performance, it’s garish in the 80’s look and it’s fun despite being a bit shit.

058 10/21 Dracula Bites The Big Apple (1979) Blu-ray 3/5   Short film from the director of Vamp is basically a mini-version of “Love At First Bite.” It’s fun and at 20 minutes, better than “Love at First Bite.”

059 10/21 Dead-End Drive-In (1988) Blu-ray 3/5   This one is more of a Mad Max style Ozploitation than a proper horror. People love this one but it left me a bit flat. Youths are corralled into a Drive-In Prison camp. If it didn’t have such good action set pieces I would have given it only 2.5/5. UPDATE: The Arrow blu-ray of this one is fantastic with a couple of shorts: The Stuntmen and Hospitals Don’t Burn that are both amazing!

060 10/21 Basket Case 2 (1990) Blu-ray 2/5   Continues right where the last one left off, this one finds the brothers being cared for in a home for freaks. It’s lacking all the charm that the first one had, and the make-up is terrible for the most part. It’s played mostly for laughs, only it’s not funny.

061 10/21 Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Continues right were part two left off, and finds the gang of freaks on a road trip to visit a Doctor to help with the birth of Belial’s child. It sucked, but it’s better that the second one. Skip these and watch the original cult classic. I give that one a 4 out of 5.

062 10/21 The Vampire (1957) DVD 3/5   A Doctor accidentally takes pills derived from vampire bats and becomes a Dracula. This is a typical cheap 50’s monster film, which means I enjoyed it and am probably rating it higher than I should. It had everything I look for in a cheap 50’s monster film: terrible monster make-up, incredibly stupid scientific explanations and a plot that moves briskly.

063 10/21 Fright Night (1985) Blu-ray 4.5/5   Loved this one in 1985, still love it today. Easily one of the best films of the 80’s. I continue to have no interest in the remake.

064 10/22 In The Mouth of Madness (1995) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Revisited this one and I still find it mostly boring. Carpenter does Lovecraft to a degree, only its more silly than scary and oh so serious.

065 10/22 The Green Inferno (2013) Blu-ray 4/5   Eli Roth does his take on the cannibal picture. This one seemed to get hated on by pretty much everyone but I don’t know why. It’s as good as any other cannibal picture (so your taste may vary…) only without the gross animal cruelty. I thought this one was just fine and one of the better ones.

066 10/22 The Cat and the Canary (1939) DVR 3.5/5   A group of heirs must spend the night in a haunted house in order to see who gets the inheritance of their deceased uncle. Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard star in this horror comedy, and they are perfect in it. The film manages to balance the spooks and the laughs. I might have to check out more Bob Hope films.

067 10/22 Knock Knock (2015) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Eli Roth updates “Little Miss Innocence” (though Chris Warfield gets zero credit since they technically remade “Death Game”). Two girls show up in the rain and torture a dad who has the house to himself while his family is away. I really liked this one. Roth goes subtle (which in Roth terms means no gore) with this one and allow Keanu Reeves to do some character work. It get’s a little over the top plot wise in the third act, but not enough to ruin the film.

068 10/22 The Witch (2015) download 4/5   A pilgrim family is banished from their town and must contend with the woods. I really enjoyed this one. It plays out like a drama with a rather slow burn and skips the typical jump scares and horseshit you typically get in modern horror. It makes for a spooky film that can stick with you.

069 10/23 The Blob (1988) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This remake amps up the gore but otherwise stays pretty true to the original. As updates goes, this one is not only pretty good but might be better than the original.

070 10/23 Hardware (1990) Blu 3.5/5   In a “Mad Max “like apocalyptic future a scavenger brings his girlfriend home a robot head that ends up being a military robot that terrorizes her in her apartment. It is at it’s bone a Terminator knockoff, but it’s done with such style and flair that it mostly holds up as it’s own thing. The problem is the small scale ends up compromising it.

071 10/23 Street Trash (1987) Blu-ray 3/5

072 10/23 Street Trash (short film) Blu-ray 3/5   A liquor store owner starts selling contraband hooch to the homeless that causes them to literally melt. The only thing missing from this one is the “Troma” label in that it’s plot is just an excuse for every gross out gag in the book. Which is fine by me. I just found it a little tedious between the gross outs.

073 10/23 The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) DVR 3/5   Roman Polanski does a Hammer Horror send up that largely left me flat. I didn’t find that the gags held up and it couldn’t seem to find it’s footing between broad spoof comedy and something more subtle.

074 10/23 Possession (1981) DVR 3.5/5   This one starts off more as a drama about a marriage unraveling in one of the most brutally portrayed ways I’ve seen. Then in the second half it gets completely fucked up. To say any more is to ruin it, just trust me, this is absolutely a horror film.

075 10/24 Sugar Hill (1974) Blu-ray 3/5   A woman recruits a voodoo zombie army to get back at the gangsters that murdered her boyfriend. Probably one of the more gonzo blaxploitation epics you’ll find. I didn’t think it held up as well on this second viewing, but that may be due to my first viewing taking place in a bar full of drunken film fans. That said, the plot is irresistible.

076 10/24 Blacula (1972) Blu-ray 4/5   It’s easy to write this one off as simply a “Black Dracula” movie, but it’s actually one of the better contemporary versions of the Dracula myths that helps it to transcend its exploitation bases. It ends up being a ton of fun.

077 10/24 Tentacles (1977) Blu-ray 2/5   I’m fine with a Jaws rip-off, and I can get by with cheap effects. There is no excuse though for horrendous plotting, stunt casting – I’m sure Henry Fonda didn’t spend more than a day on set – extraneous scenes that do nothing and worst off all, setting up a joke with no punchline. I hated this one. I’m only giving it two stars out of respect for Fonda, John Huston and Shelley Winters.

078 10/24 Dark Water (2002) Blu-ray 3/5   This one arrived yesterday fresh from Arrow Video so I thought I would spin it. Everything great about J-Horror is here, stylish atmosphere, creepy sound design and a unique ghost story. It just all leaves me flat.

079 10/25 Scream Blacula Scream (1973) Blu-ray 3.5/5   The sequel sees the good count resurrected by voodoo. It was fine for what it was but I prefer the original.

79 films and still not done! It was an epic challenge for me, so there will be one more post next week provided the internet isn’t abolished.

Movie A Day 2017! 1-8: HyperNormalisation of Uranus

The planet hasn’t burst into flames so it looks like I’ll get a start to the old movie blog. That’s a bit negative, let’s try to have fun this year, eh?

Friends, this one is smut heavy. I’m going though a boxset of sketchy 70’s horror-porn and whelp, you’re stuck with the terrible results. Things should get a little more mainstream in the future. A little anyways.

Here’s what I watched the first week of January. I kicked it off with a bang.

001 01/01 The Big T.N.T Show (1966) 3/5   This one is the follow-up to the legendary “The T.A.M.I Show”. “T.A.M.I” was the to be the start of a series of mega-concert films and was taped at the end of 1964. Featuring The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Beach Boys and others in a concert that frankly is so amazing to watch it’s exhausting. Rights to the film went off the rails (Chuck Berry demanded cash money up front and left them cash poor), the plan to have teens vote on acts for the next film never happened and the idea died with “The Big T.N.T Show”. It’s a real mash-up with The Byrds and The Loving Spoonful sharing the stage with Ray Charles and Ike & Tina Turner. It grinds to a halt with Donovan and melts your mind with Joan Biaz joining Phil Spector to sing blue-eyed soul classic “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. It can’t compete with the non-stop legendary acts of the first film, but as a snap-shot of popular music in 1965 it’s still worth a look. That said “The T.A.M.I Show” is an absolute must see.

kelly2

002 01/01 Turn On With Kelly Nichols (1984) 2/5   In the early days of hardcore pornographers were able to skirt the censorship laws by putting out “Educational” films with explicit footage. They were nicknamed “White Coaters” and by 1972 with the release of “Deep Throat” the genre was pretty much dead. The old ones are kind of dopey fun, mainly due to the very serious narration. Sadly none of that fun is found in this one, made a decade after the genre was dead and near the end of the film era of porno chic which was sliding into shot on video tape. It’s simply boring and no amount of star power or goofy narration can save it despite being technically well made.

003 01/02 The Sorceress (1974) 2/5   A woman pretends to be psychic as a front to service guys in this early hardcore feature. Nothing real great to offer, it’s sleazy and only notable for the shock ending.

004 01/02 The Scorpion (1975) 1.5/5   A nervous woman goes in search of her sister who has gone missing and has ties to a mysterious cult. My description is a billion times better than the film which is just a lazy series of horrendous hardcore scenes full of people in bad wigs.

005 01/03 Dr. Sexual & Mr. Hyde (1971) 2/5   A mad scientist makes a concoction that turns people horny. This one started out completely bonkers crazy and I thought I was watching one of the great, lost, underground films. Then the hardcore kicked in after about 10 minutes and it became dull, dull, dull. Those first 10 minutes or so though, man, amazing lo-fi stuff.

006 01/04 Rites of Uranus (1975) 2.5/5   A young woman gets roped into the Cult of Uranus, where a voice projects out of a horn jammed into a decorative plate hung on a wall and they stick candles in your bottom. You really can’t make up how bonkers these crappy early hardcore features are.

007 01/06 Waltz of the Bat (1972) 2.5/5   The Bat stole power from The Bee and survives by roping young women under his spell. It’s near the hundred year mark so the Bee has to sleep with the Bat and get her power back or she’ll turn to dust. You really can’t make this shit up. This one was actually lots of fun when it came to plot movement. The actual hardcore is as dire as the other films mentioned here.

008 01/07 HyperNormalisation (2016) 4.5/5   This is more of a visual essay than a documentary but it’s an absolute must see if you’re curious how we’ve ended up in this terrible part of history where facts don’t matter and our reality is a fiction. It’s maddening, it’s scary and it’s essential viewing despite being 2.5 hours long. WATCH IT!

Honestly can’t express enough how good HyperNormalisation is. It really feels like mandatory viewing at this point. Then again I’ve become obsessed with all the awful in the world so I’m most likely biased.

I realize in getting this started that I picked a bad time to start this thing. I’m going through a porn boxset (final disc starts next week), watching a TV series, and plan to catch up on some other series I never finished watching last year before getting back to my regular movie watching. I try to include poster art and what not, but most of these weren’t even on IMDB until Vinegar Syndrome put them out, much less have movie posters. You’re going to have to stick it out. It’s worth it. I promise!*

r

*I don’t actually promise.

Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 2

Here’s the next bit from the Scary Movie Challenge to hold you until I get my first week of watching done. From simpler times, when all the terror in the world wouldn’t prevent me from watching 4 different versions of the same crappy movie.

 

027 10/11 Dementia 13 (1963) DVR 3.5/5   Francis Ford Coppola made his writing/directing debut with this one. I think. I know he did some stuff prior but I think this is his first as writer/director. Anyway, it’s basically a “Psycho” rip with a “Who Done It?” smashed into it. Which sounds bad, but is actually really well done considering it was produced on the cheap with Roger Corman. Coppola squeezes every penny out of the budget, the film has style and totally works.

028 10/11 Nekromantik 2 (1991) Blu-ray 3/5   Follow up to the first one find Rob’s corpse being stolen by a Monica, another necrophile. She ends up meeting Mark, a voice over actor for porn films, and gets torn between him and the corpse. So it’s really a love story. This one is much more polished than the first film, but I found it a little draggy in parts, and plain silly in others. When you have two characters go to a movie, then show a bunch of the movie they are watching, it seems like filler. That said, Buttgereit is making a legitimate film that manages to rise above its exploitation aspects.

029 10/12 The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) DVR 2/5   Teenagers have a hot rod club (played by the “Hot Rod Gang” which is a shitty rip-off of the Bowery Boys, only a bunch of privileged pricks instead of poverty row scamps.) and like to dance to one song. There’s no ghost, there’s no dragstrip, there’s only one shown drag race. The only cool thing is the re-use of monster costumes from other AIP movies and the tall girl with glasses.

030 10/13 The Beast With A Million Eyes (1955) DVR 2/5   A less ambitious “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” type thing, with an invisible invader trying to control a ranch family. For a no-budget 50’s horror it’s not the worst thing you will see, it just never really gets going and plods along. Also: there’s no “Beast With A Million Eyes”. Most notable for being one of if not the first film Roger Corman had a hand at directing.

031 10/13 Schramm (1993) Blu-ray 2.5/5   The final film in the “SEX MURDER ART: THE FILMS OF JORG BUTTGEREIT”, this one left me flat. It’s got a great premise: the life of a serial killer as glimpsed in his final moments alive. The problem is that it’s missing the disturbing gore found in Buttgereit’s other films like “Nekromantik”, and has nothing to fill the space. So it just kind flops out and doesn’t do much. Maybe I had high expectations thinking this would be the most messed up film of them all.

032 10/14 Bone Tomahawk (2015) Blu-ray 4/5   Kurt Russell leads this one, a weird western about a group of men searching for townsfolk that have been taken by natives. It plays like “The Searchers” but with lots of spook. If it doesn’t sound like a horror, trust me, it is. Recommended, I loved this one.

033 10/14 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986) Blu-ray 5/5   One of the greatest movies ever made.

034 10/15 Operation: Titian (1963) Blu-ray 2/5   A murder mystery based around a copy of a Titian painting as opposed to a horror. How this ends up being a film called “Blood Bath” is beyond me. Anyway, this one feels longer than the run time. Pretty much says it all, eh?

035 10/15 Shocker (1989) Blu-ray 3/5   No one is going to mistake this one as one of Wes Craven’s best but I’ve always liked it. Mitch Pileggi eats the scenery like there’s no tomorrow as the killer, and the idea of an electricity based killer is fun. It has a few pacing issues, but on the whole it works.

036 10/15 Swamp Thing (1982) Blu-ray 3/5   As an adaptation of the comic book it’s pretty terrible. As a monster movie is pretty fun. Not the best film Craven ever made, but not a bad time either. Fun revisiting this one, I didn’t realize that David Hess (from Cravens infamous “Last House on the Left”) had a role in this one. That said, seek out the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing if you want the real deal.

037 10/15 Thundercrack! (1975) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This one is an underground horror porno film that is so earnest it has to be played for laughs. It’s certainly original. Plays like a John Waters film in many ways, you get the feeling that the filmmakers thought this was their last chance to make their dream project. A dream project where people get stranded as a old dark house in a rainstorm, have bizarre sexual experiences, a guy marries an ape and it all invokes “Gone With The Wind”. Genuinely completely out to lunch, this one won’t be for everyone but if you have an appetite for strange this one should fill you up. UPDATE: More I think about this one, the more I love it. 

038 10/16 Portrait Of Terror (1965) Blu-ray 2.5/5   The first re-cut of “Operation: Titian” became this one. It’s still not much of a horror film but it is better than the first cut. That said, it’s still not very good.

039 10/16 It (1990) Blu-ray 3/5   I remember watching this when it originally aired and being disappointed. Probably due to having the book fresh in my mind. The book continues to be one of my all time favourites. I liked it more this time around. The first half works and Tim Curry is fantastic as Pennywise. The second half with the adults kind of falls apart in comparison, partly due to the TV budget. I’ll put money down that this one will be better than the new theatrical version coming out, opinion based on that one image of the clown they released.

040 10/16 Phantom of the Opera (1989) Blu-ray 2.5/5   I’m positive I saw this one back in the day but I had zero memory of it when watching it. I think I might of had this one confused with “Phantom of the Mall.” Anyway it’s not very good with it’s mostly straight retelling of the story with some past lives time travel nonsense thrown in. I watched this due to watching Wes Craven films earlier and thinking I should watch “Nightmare on Elm Street” but not feeling like it so I spun this one since it had Robert Englund in it. Should of stuck with Nightmare.

041 10/17 Blood Bath (1966) Blu-ray 3/5   The third version of “Operation: Titian” drops all talk of Titian and adds Sid Haig, beatniks and a vampire. Completely unrecognizable compared to the other two versions, Jack Hill did a pretty great job hacking this thing together.

042 10/17 The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Blu-ray 4/5   Wes Craven’s follow up film after the classic “Last House on the Left” (not counting the porno “Fireworks Woman”) might not be as grueling but it still completely works. The film is an examination of class warfare, with city folk getting attacked by desert mountain folk. It’s good, moves quickly and best of all, plays like a bonkers Rin-Tin-Tin movie.

043 10/17 The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009) Blu-ray 4/5   Revisited this one since I have the sequels to watch for the first time. Some hate this one, I think it’s a modern classic. It completely delivers on the premise of a human centipede. Maybe it’s a case of the film shouldn’t be watchable at all with such a ridiculous premise. Instead, you find yourself caught up in the craziness and end up genuinely caring about the centipede.

044 10/17 The Brood (1979) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Cronenberg goes for the psychological with this one starring Oliver Reed as a doctor who’s analysis treatments result in physical manifestations. I had completely forgotten how messed up this one gets in the latter half, having first watched it during the 2007 challenge. Good stuff.

045 10/17 The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011) Blu-ray 3.5/5   I’m in the minority with this one since I actually really liked it. It’s completely different from the first one. The first film is closer to a modern day monster movie. This one is basically “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” only Henry is into arts and craft centipede projects. Gorgeous in black and white, it’s only black and white for self censorship. The colour version on the blu-ray is one of the most relentlessly gory films I’ve seen. This one won’t be for everyone, but it works and delivers on it’s premise which is all I ask for from a film like this.

046 10/18 Track of the Vampire (1966) Blu-ray 2.5/5   A re-cut of the Jack Hill cut of “Blood Bath”. I think. Who the fuck knows anymore. Watch “Blood Bath” and forget about these other versions. UPDATE: The documentary in this set going through the history of all these versions is better than any of the final movies! A must watch for filmmaking fans!

047 10/18 The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence (2015) Blu-ray 3/5   This one goes for a lighter tone and just doesn’t work. Main problem is it plays it mostly safe in comparison to the previous two and can’t maintain the premise of creating a massive human centipede as a prison population solution. It’s neat that they go full meta by bringing back the stars from the previous two and the director starring as himself, but it’s not enough.

048 10/18 Eyes Without A Face (1960) Blu-ray 3.5/5   The groundbreaking French horror classic holds up just fine. A girls face is destroyed in a car crash so her surgeon father snatches girls to replace it. It plays much more classy than that description, and it’s surprisingly graphic, especially for 1960.

049 10/18 The Stuff (1985) Blu-ray 4/5   I hadn’t seen this one since the VHS days and it’s nice to see it holds up just fine today. A bonkers mash-up of “The Blob” with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” about an alien dessert. It should be terrible, but they pull it off. Or maybe it is terrible and I just don’t care? (Nah, it’s rad.)

050 10/19 The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave (1971) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Pretty good Italian horror. Some guy is having a break down after his wife dies and starts finding duplicate women to abuse. Film stays on course and has enough mystery to keep you invested.

051 10/19 The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Another solid Italian horror. This one deals with a family curse that has come around on the 100 year mark. Like the previous film this one moves steadily and has a enough mystery to hold your interest.

052 10/19 Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) Blu 3/5   I actually actively avoided this one for years, due to liking the original and thinking this one would be total garbage. It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s not total garbage either. It ends up being a fun horror comedy. Worth it just to watch George Clooney give a masterclass in product placement.

053 10/19 Crimes of Passion (1984) Blue 3.5/5   This one plays more like a 1930’s pre-code melodrama than the horror/thriller I thought it was going to be after all these years, but it’s creepy enough for me to count. Kathleen Turner is great as the hooker not necessarily with a heart of gold and Anthony Perkins steals every scene he’s in as a twisted street preacher trying to save her soul. What is more interesting though it that the film is really an examination of sex, love and the use of each as a weapon by couples in a relationship. Interesting stuff, and through the bonkers-eyes of Ken Russell it’s worth a viewing.

Ah, such fond memories! Will I ever find my tall girl in glasses? Will I ever be a part of a human centipede?

Who knows? 2017 is wide open folks. Let’s stay positive!

r

Beginning with Failure. Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 1

2017. I think it’s safe to say that in the large scheme of things 2016 was a pretty rough year. It seemed to be the death of everything, our culture, our politics, the literal world. Things feel hopeless. I need to do something with my brain other than think about the BIG STUFF. At least until I’m able to dedicate time to actually do something about the state of the big stuff.

I’ve decided to restart my “Movie A Day” list. Let’s see if I make it past May before quitting. I am making no promises. The ultimate goal is to watch 365 new movies a year. As I get older, the odds of that happening become less and less. Still, movies are fun right? I’ll also be including TV Shows and whatever the fuck else I feel like writing about. I’ll try to stay away from current events.

New films will be in RED.

To start, I’m going to recap the scary movie challenge from 2016. Here’s the first bit.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan all these posts to be this long, just the scary movie catch-ups.

001 01/10 Evils Of The Night (1985) Blu-ray 2.5/5  Aliens are draining teenagers of their blood! This one is literally T&A and blood, with the emphasis on the former. There’s so much T&A that porn star Amber Lynn is cast in a bit part. Main cast of alien vampires is Tina Louise and Julie Newmar being lead by ancient John Carradine. It’s not very good, it’s more fun bad. Looks great though. (That is the Millennium Falcon you are seeing on the poster. Not featured in the film, sadly.)

002 01/10 Count Dracula’s Great Love (1973) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Paul Naschy is Dracula in this Spanish production. Typical “Dracula Needs Virgin Blood to Resurrect his girl” stuff, but it’s really well done with an atmosphere that reminded me of the Hammer Studio films. Gothic romance with some nice gore, lots to recommend and the Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray has it looking great.

003 01/10 Horror House on Highway Five (1985) Blu-ray 3/5   A killer in a Nixon mask, weird Nazi rocket science and students being hunted down. It barely makes sense, it might not make sense. It’s pretty much the definition of low budget psycho-tronic slasher. Vinegar Syndrome Blu looks good with some nice special features.

004 01/10 Salem’s Lot (1979) Blu-ray 4/5   I thought I had seen this one, but I was thinking of the Rob Lowe remake. Or I dreamed it. Anyways, this was excellent. It’s been way too long since I read the book to be able to tell how close it was, but it was fine all the same. Aside from some awkward edits where the commercial breaks are you wouldn’t think this was made for TV. A great balance of suspense and horror, with a fantastic cast. James Mason is always great to watch and Geoffrey Lewis steals every scene he’s in while Tobe Hooper keeps things moving. Recommended.

005 02/10 Hellbent (1988) Blu-ray 2.5/5   A punk rock deal with the devil for stardom film. By Richard Casey who directed “Horror House on Highway 5”, this one is more silly action/drama than horror. Good music, decent performances help but it’s still a near no-budget offering. The Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray looks great.

006 02/10 Doctor Butcher M.D. (1980) Blu-ray 4/5   A mad Doctor is doing terrible experiments in this Times Square classic. It’s more “Cannibal Holocaust” than “Mad Doctor” in that it’s a jungle picture, but boy does it deliver. Loved it, sleazy gory fun that you know you want. The blu-ray of this from Severin is spotless and feature packed, I’ll watch all those after the challenge. (UPDATE: The special features were as solid as I suspected)

007 02/10 Zombie Holocaust (1980) Blu-ray 3.5/5   The original film that turned into “Doctor Butcher”. It’s fine and while not much different, I liked the add-on bits to Doctor Butcher. Looks good on blu, but you can tell that Doctor Butcher got all the restoration love.

008 02/10 Carnival Of Souls (1962) Blu-ray 4/5   A woman survives a car accident to discover her life falling apart. Few films capture the nightmare life dreamscape as well as this one. It’s one of the few films where “less is more” actually works. I think this was my third time watching it, and it just keeps getting better. The Criterion blu-ray is definitive.

009 10/03 Black Sabbath (American Version)(1963) Blu-ray 3/5   First time watching this one after loving the Italian version last challenge. It’s good, but doesn’t compare. It’s missing the mood and style. Swapping around the stories is one thing, editing them is another. THE TELEPHONE becomes a clunky supernatural thriller instead of a proto-giallo, and none of the stories benefit from the music replacement which is jokey compared to the original. It’s also missing the fantastic Karloff closer! Italian version is a solid 4 stars.

010 10/03 Cat In The Brain (1990) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Lucio Fulci directs this one and stars as himself. Playing a director who fears he is losing his mind after making so many gory horror films, this one is pretty much a non-stop greatest hits of gore scenes. There’s not much else to say, I’m giving it a higher rating than it probably deserves, but I had fun with it and it delivered the gory goods.

011 10/04 Blue Sunshine (1977) Blu-ray 3.5/5   People are losing their hair and going on murderous rampages! It’s way better than that sentence makes it sound. An LSD based thriller more than all out horror, it manages to work really well. Zalman King of “Red Shoe Diaries” infamy is the star, and he’s not a great leading man but gets the job done. This is the second film I’ve seen him star in, and he just doesn’t have much personality but still manages to be pretty good. Weird. Anyway, the new blu-ray from Filmcentrix is gorgeous and packed with extras. If you buy it from their site you get all sorts of physical goodies. This is their first dip into non-porn (they previously did amazing work restoring “Opening Of Misty Beethoven” and “Barbara Broadcast” on blu-ray under their home banner of Distribpix) and it shows the same care and attention. I wish they would be more prolific, but it’s a one man show and that one man is doing the big work. I’ll watch the extras after the challenge. (UPDATE: The extras were fantastic.)

012 10/05 Planet of the Vampires (1965) Blu-ray 4/5   Mario Bava does sci-fi, at least for the first 15 minutes or so. A pair of spaceships are investigating a distress signal on a planet. Once in orbit, they’re forced to land, get hit with “space madness” and find that they’re very bodies are at risk of being taken over. Clearly an inspiration for “Alien”, Bava makes this cheapie work by pouring on the colours and atmosphere to create a genuinely creepy suspense film. I really need to pick up more Bava, every film of his I’ve seen is a gem.

013 10/05 The Sinful Dwarf (1973) Bluray 3/5   Olaf the dwarf and his mom run a boarding house that fronts for a sex slave and heroin ring. This Danish film is as grimy and sleazy as it’s reputation has absolutely earned. Reminded me a bit of “Blood Sucking Freaks”, only not as fun and with none of the crazy over the top gore. Still a sleazy trip to take, the hardcore inserts make it even more gruelling. Good stuff though in that it successfully does what it was aiming for. For Eurotrash/sleaze fans only, everyone else will want to stay away.

014 10/06 Hillbilly’s In A Haunted House (1967) DVR 1.5/5   A couple of country singers on the way to a jamboree in Nashville stop over night at a haunted house. Only it’s not a haunted house, it’s a secret base for spies. Ferlin Husky and the country folk have the personality of grass growing and old horror stars John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr. and Basil Rathbone can’t elevate the material. One whole star is given to the fact that Merle Haggard gets to perform two songs. Otherwise this one was a piece of shit.

015 10/07 Village of the Damned (1995) Blu-ray 3/5   John Carpenter updates the 1960 classic. Tells the same story and over does it a bit in typical remake fashion. Christopher Reeves is good as the lead, my main problem were the kids. The acting was fine, but why dress them the same as the 60’s version if you’re not doing a period picture? Anyway, it’s not the worst thing Carpenter has done and good enough to keep you entertained for 90 minutes.

016 10/07 Tenebrae (1982) Blu-ray 3.5/5   An American writer doing press in Rome gets involved with murders when a maniac starts to copy his book. I enjoyed this one. Argento is doing a giallo as opposed to the supernatural stuff I’m more familiar with and the film really works. The only thing I didn’t care for was the music. Too 80’s synth that I thought cheapened the production instead of enhancing it.

017 10/08 Body Bags (1993) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Anthology film, original pitched for TV. John Carpenter directs two stories, Tobe Hooper gets one. All of them are actually really good. Carpenter is a fun horror host in the EC Comics tradition, none of the stories look extra cheap and all of the stories are packed with fun horror cameos from directors and what not. Good stuff.

018 10/08 Deadly Blessing (1981) Blu-ray 3/5   A religious community comes under suspicion after a tractor accident leaves a woman widowed. Wes Craven is doing some interesting stuff in this one, but the real highlight is the bathtub scene that will get reused to better results in Nightmare On Elm Street. Not a bad film by any means, just a case of Craven having done better.

019 10/09 Why Horror? (2014) Stolen 2/5   Documentary feature many horror legends and experts talking about why we crave horror films and what not. Except they don’t get as much time as filmmaker host Tal Zimmerman who makes this a personal film because he had a baby. I’m really starting to hate “documentaries” like this where the focus is the hosts journey. The only guy that can pull it off is Louis Theroux, and that’s because he’s perfected the art of stepping back to allow the subject to come through. This one annoyed the shit out of me. Who cares what John Carpenter or George Romero have to say when you can sit in an MRI and have your brain scanned while watching a movie. (Don’t get this Canadian stated on the MRI use in this one.) Skip it.

020 10/09 Sleepaway Camp (1983) Blu-ray 4/5   First time seeing this one. It’s a low budget “Friday The 13th” knock off, but a nasty little sucker where the kids get attacked instead of just the councillors. Also had a hell of a twist ending that plays perfectly. It rises above what it should be, which I doubt the sequels do.

021 10/09 Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) Blu-ray 3.5/5   All the “Who done it?” stuff from the first one is out the door and they aged up the campers for nudity. It sends this one straight to typical slasher land, but it’s a pretty good slasher for what it is with an interesting enough bent in that the killer is pretty much the protagonist which is unusual. I’m sure it will all fall apart in the third one.

022 10/09 Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) Blu-ray 3/5   This one is another drop in quality. It’s not terrible, and I still like the killer as protagonist angle. It’s just a bit plodding and too cheap to stand up to the other two.

023 10/10 Witchboard (1986) Blu-ray 2.5/5   It’s exactly what you think it is. People dick around with a Ouija board, piss off an evil spirit and blah blah blah. It’s about as good as this type of film could be, which isn’t very memorable. I think my brain flagged this one as being better due to Tawny Kittan being in it, which would of been a big deal in 1986. Not so big a deal these days.

024 10/10 Dolls (1987) Blu-ray 3/5   A family gets stranded and stay in a house with a pair of old people who make dolls. They come alive and attack them. This one has a kid in the lead which never impresses me. The doll effects are good and it’s interesting, but it’s not on the level of the better Stuart Gordon pictures.

025 10/10 Night Of The Demons (1988) Blu-ray 3/5   I thought I had seen this one, but I had it mixed up with the Argento “Demons”. Anyway, this one wasn’t too bad. A gaggle of 80’s kids decide to party down in a mortuary only to awaken evil spirits since the mortuary is possessed. It starts out wanting to be “Return of the Living Dead’ mixed with “Evil Dead” and is kind of annoying, but once it gets going it’s pretty good.

026 10/10 Der Todesking (1990) Bluray 3.5/5   This is Buttgereit’s follow up to the notorious “Nekromantic”. This one is as much an art film as opposed to a horror like his prior film. That said, it still manages to get it’s hooks in you and be pretty disturbing. Seven episodes, one for each day of the week, on the theme of suicide, each bridged with imagery of a rotting corpse. So yeah, not a fun movie, but a good one.

Whelp, that’s the first 10 days of October for the challenge. Revisiting this I realize this is about the worst way to watch films in a critical manner. Films that are getting worse reviews than they deserve due to being watched alongside films that are probably not as good as I rate them. I’m rating films higher for being more interesting compared to the more standard fair. Oh well, it is what it is and I’ll make the same mistakes during the 2017 challenge.

Broken Record

So I’m behind on posting, and I’ve decided to end the blog rather than continue. No one reads it, I’m keeping a list as a document file, and I don’t have the energy anymore.

To those that enjoyed the blog, thanks for reading and good luck in your lives.

Movie A Day! 141-151: Sprout Wings Super Soul Brother!

So much for getting the blog under control. This one looks longer than it is, but it’s still pretty long. I watched some double feature stuff that hit around the five film marks and didn’t want to split them into two blogs. So you get a little extra and I’ll try to get this thing back to the fives next time.


141 04-27 Supersoul Brother (1978) 2.5/5
“Wild Man” Steve takes a page from Rudy Ray Moore’s DOLEMITE playbook and tries to make a his own blaxploitaton action comedy. He fails in almost every regard. Steve plays a wino who gets picked up by a couple of thieves to be injected with a super serum so he can be used to rob a jewel safe. It’s dirt cheap, the acting is atrocious, but it does have it’s charms as both a spoof on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (the original title, and the one on the print on Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD is THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER) and for the gusto of Wildman himself who tries his darn-dist to spin straw into gold and fails pretty much completely. A hell of a time capsule, and as the first in Vinegar Syndromes collaboration with the American Genre Film Archive, it’s going to be fun to see what they bring out next.


142 4-28 A Life In Dirty Movies (2013) 3.5/5
A pretty good documentary on Joe Sarno, one of the first and best of the sexploitation filmmakers at the dawn of the genre. This one mostly deals with Sarno at the end of his life trying to get one last film financed. I would of preferred more of an overview since I can only imagine some of the stories he has, but what we do have in here is still interesting. Having people like John Waters, Jamie Gillis and Annie Sprinkle on hand to discuss Sarno and his work also helps to keep the film moving. Now we need someone to tackle restoring Sarno’s surviving films.


143 4-30 Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980) 3/5
Les Blank skips the profiles of people and goes straight to food and music with this one. It’s a history of garlic, showing many of the ways it is prepared as well as the folklore. Some of the fanatics come off a bit hippie dippy and crackers, but it is a fun watch. Since it’s literally about the food, this one is missing the heart found in his other pictures.


144 05-01 When Taekwondo Strikes (1973) 3/5
A pretty good chop socky feature starring Angela Mao about Koreans revolting against Japanese rule. Lots of different styles of martial arts are in view, and it also features Jhoon Rhee, known as the father of American Taekwondo. So there’s lots of fun to be had in this one.


145 05-02 Little Miss Innocence (1973) 2.5/5
146 05-02 Teenage Seductress (1975) 2.5/5
This is a pair of softcore features from Chris Warfield that Vinegar Syndrome put out in their DRIVE-IN COLLECTION. The first features a pair of hippie girls who shack up and torture an older music executive when he picks them up hitchhiking in LA. It’s the most porn-y of the two since they emotionally abuse him with constant sex, and it’s as sleazy as it sounds. TEENAGE though downplays the sex to be more messed up dramatically as it features a woman who is out to find her father that skipped out when she was born, in order to sleep with him and try to ruin his life that way. Did I mention it was messed up? Anyway, the pair are actually pretty decent watches since they play more serious than the usual goofy that is sexploitation, and are looking great in these DVD restorations.


147 05-02 Escape From New York (1981) 3.5/5
John Carpenter’s cult classic features a breakout role for Kurt Russell who stars as Snake Plissken who in the future dystopia of 1997 has to retrieve the President of the United States who has crashed into the prison island of Manhattan. It makes zero sense, but Carpenter and Russell totally pull it off. I don’t love this one as much as others, but I have no knocks against it, it delivers and the cast featuring genre legends like Lee Van Cleef and Isaac Hayes doesn’t hurt either.


148 05-02 Champagne For Breakfast (1980) 3.5/5
Chris Warfield again, this time with a later porno chic effort that manages to work. The script, about a guy who plays gay in order to get a job as a chauffeur/bodyguard to a young woman who has recently become vice president of an ad agency, genuinely works on it’s own both dramatically and as a comedy. The actors, featuring stars like Leslie Bovee, John Leslie and Kay Parker all have the chops to pull it off, they could of cut the sex out and still had a decent late seventies comedy. A short comedy though since ther is a ton of sex in this one, which makes the story working aspect of it all the more unusual. Typical of everything they put out, the Vinegar Syndromes presentation is top notch.


149 05-03 Sprout Wings And Fly (1983) 4/5
150 05-03 Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge (1991) 4/5
151 05-03 My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1995) 4/5
Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank. SPROUT features fiddle player Tommy Jarrell, in his eighties when it was shot, telling stories of life in the Blue Ridge mountains (nearly all of them about whisky and death), and playing a ton of amazing fiddle songs. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and Jarrell is one hell of a storyteller. This Les Blank blu-ray set just never fails to please. JULIE was shot at the same time, and is a short film featuring Tommy’s older sister telling stories and singing a couple of songs, while MY OLD FIDDLE is more of Tommy playing and talking. As a whole, they are not only a entertaining films, but a record of a lost time.

See? It wasn’t so long and at least the movies were varied eh?