Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 4

Last week was the Presidential inauguration and I found it to be such a massive cluster fuck that I totally forgot to post this, the last of my Scary Movie Challenge list.The day that this posts is also the Bell “let’s Talk” day on Twitter, where every tweet using the hashtag  results in a $.05 donation to mental health initiatives. A large part of my mental health coping is watching movies.

I’m not sure if watching this many movies in one month helps your mental heath.

080 10/25 Leviathan (1989) Blu-ray 3/5   If I remember right this one came out the same year as The Abyss and was pretty much completely forgotten. The case claims it’s “Alien underwater!” and it really wants to be that. Sadly it’s just a really well done monster movie. No classic, but worth a watch.

081 10/25 Evilspeak (1981) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This is my favourite of the anti-Satan scare films of the early 80’s. A kid who’s being bullied at military academy finds a Satanic text and starts inputting it into his Apple II, awakening all sorts of evil stuff. Clint Howard is great in the roll of the kid, and the film gets totally nuts. Makes me want to track down Mazes & Monsters, the other great scare film from the era. It was also nice to watch this uncut on Blu-ray. My previous viewing was via a bootleg download that had the scenes cut during the Video Nasties period inserted but sourced from a bad VHS looking copy. Funnily enough, most of the cut footage was the goofy Satanic text on the Apple II as opposed to violence.

082 10/25 Attack of the Puppet People (1958) DVR 2.5/5   If your movie has something to do with people shrinking or growing into giants, odds are that Bert I Gordon is behind it. This one was too goofy to really enjoy. A weirdo doll maker is shrinking people into dolls for companionship. They never really “attack” either, and there’s a drive-in scene that showing Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man which is a massively superior film to this one and reminding the audience of that doesn’t help matters.

083 10/26 Cat People (1982) Blu-ray 3/5   It’s not as good as the original, but it’s not the worst thing either. It’s a case of style over substance, and it mostly works. I would rate it higher but it has some pacing issues. Gorgeous soundtrack though.

084 10/26 The Dark Half (1993) Blu-ray 2.5/5   George Romero tackles another Stephen King story and it’s just too much of a good thing. Basic story is a writer decides to “kill off” his more popular pseudonym, only to have the pseidonym manifest and start killing people. It’s not a bad idea, and the book is great. At 2 hours it makes for a plodding movie.

085 10/26 Bereavement (2010) Blu-ray 3/5   I forgot I had watched this one before. Not a bad movie that gets pretty crazy, about a madman that kidnaps a kid. I just found out this is actually a prequel to Malevolence so I guess I should track that one down.

086 10/26 Burnt Offerings (1976) DVR 4/5   This one is supposedly one of Stephen Kings favourite movies and you can certainly see aspects of The Shining in it. A family rents a house for the summer and starts to become affected. This one a really good, mainly due to Oliver Reed being so intense through out. The rest of the cast with Karen Black and Bette Davis were great too, but man Reed is shithouse bonkers in his intensity. Worth it just for Reed’s performance, with the movie being equally interesting.

087 10/27 The Believers (1987) Blu-ray 2.5/5  I had memories of this one being hot stuff and controversial on release but it ends up being a pretty boring thriller. Martin Sheen is a police psychologist who gets mixed up investigating Voodoo crimes in New York. Some neat ideas and fine acting but it never really adds up to much.

088 10/27 Mazes and Monsters (1982) YouTube 2/5   Evilspeak had me craving this one and I should have left it alone. I recall it being great, but it’s just plodding and stupid. Tom Hanks and his friends get way to into Dungeons and Dragons and the result is boring.

089 10/28 Deathrow Gameshow (1987) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Goofy comedy that doesn’t work as a comedy or a horror film where convicts compete for pardons. It’s over the top in 80’s smarm and is more annoying than good.

090 10/28 Nightmare Sisters (1988) Blu-ray 3.5/5   A trio a sorority girls become succubi after playing around with a crystal ball. It’s painfully bad in the acting department, but the trio is played by Scream Queens Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, and they turn into naked succubi which makes it all worthwhile. It ends up being a lot of fun.

091 10/28 Hobgoblins (1988) Blu-ray 2/5   Not as bad as Troll 2 as far as Gremlins rip-offs go, but it ain’t very good. When you can’t do better than Ghoulies as a horror comedy, you know you’re in trouble.

092 10/28 Pretty Maids All In A Row DVR 2/5   Rock Hudson stars in this thriller about a series of high school girl murders. Except the majority of the film is about a high school boy with boner problems. This one is supposed to be a black comedy but it never really worked and worse, felt like it would never end. Written and produced by Gene Roddenberry. Gene’s better in space.

093 10/28 Murder Weapon (1989) Blu 3/5

094 10/29 Deadly Embrace (1989) Blu 2/5   A pair of erotic thrillers, meaning “Skinimax” type fair in which women with big hair really get off on kissing guys bellies. Both star Linnea Quigley with “Murder Weapon” about a pair of mob daughters getting out of an asylum being the better of the two mainly due to how insanely gory it gets in the latter half. “Deadly Embrace” sounded like more of the same but sadly it’s just a mediocre skin flick about a neglected wife who hires a pool boy. It’s boring.

095 10/29 The Exorcist (1973) (Theatrical Cut) Blu-ray 5/5   First time watching the original version in years and it still holds up as one of the greatest films ever made. It’s genuinely spooky, of course, but what’s equally impressive is the craft behind it. The score, sound design, acting, shots, editing, all in perfect harmony.

096 10/29 The Doctor & The Devils (1985) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This one is a retelling of the story of “Burke and Hare” legendary grave robbers turned murderers who sold bodies to the London Medical College. This one was really well done. It’s shot more like a drama as opposed to a comedic horror film that the story usually gets. Really worth checking out.

097 10/29 The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) blu-ray 2.5/5   This one isn’t actually one of the worst films ever made, as it’s routinely championed to be. It is a mess though. Adding a bunch of unnecessary psychic mumbo-jumbo to the story doesn’t help. It’s full of ambition and big ideas, it just never actually works. I think this is at least my 3rd time seeing it, and I have to admit it didn’t drive me crazy like it did previously. That said, why Martin Scorsese thinks it’s so great is still a mystery.

098 10/30 The Exorcist III (1990) Blu-ray 4/5   This is one that I never found that great but really clicked with it on this viewing. George C. Scott takes the role of Detective from the first film, this time investigating the murders of the “Gemini Killer”. This one ditches the psychic stuff and concentrates more on the nature of evil. It’s also hilarious while being scary.

099 10/30 Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Better than the Renny Harlin re-shoot, but it still doesn’t work. This one follows the story of Father Merrin that is mentioned in the original film, but they change the entire thing for reasons unknown. It’s interesting, but ends up being too muddled to work.

100 10/30 The Puppet Masters (1994) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Another retelling of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This one switches things up a bit by concentrating on a government agency trying to figure out and contain the invasion. Think “The X-Files” only with Donald Sutherland. It works, though it plays more like an action film that a horror.

101 10/30 Darkman (1990) Blu-ray 4/5   Mix-up the best traits of the Universal Monsters and slam them into a pulpy superhero story and you get another winner from Sam Raimi. Raimi nails this stuff with style and humour and the cast featuring Liam Neeson and Francis McDormand manage to pull this one off.

102 10/30 The Conjuring 2 (2016) Digital 3.5/5   I’m a big fan of the first one so I was looking forward to this one. It’s good, and I found it to be pretty spooky. Only problem is they go too big in the second half so it loses a bit of its charm. That said, it’s still a fun journey.

 

103 10/31 The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976) Youtube 2/5   After hearing about this one for years I finally gave it a watch. I have zero nostalgia for Paul or the 70’s, so my interest was only out of the cult/campy aspects. It’s simply bad. Painful skits, painful jokes, Kiss rock and are hilarious and yeah, it all adds up to being weird. It’s still not any good.

104 10/31 The Initiation (1984) Blu-ray 3/5   The latest from Arrow arrived in my mailbox so I gave it a spin. It’s an okay slasher but nothing special despite one of the most convoluted plots I’ve encountered yet. An amnesiac college girl is being stalked by a killer from her past, only it’s way more complicated.

And that is it. I broke 100 films in the 2016 challenge, the “winner” was 149. Oh well, there’s always next year.

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.

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.

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?

Movie A Day! 131-140 : Hot Pepper Pleasure

Late posting this one, and since last week was busy, it’s a ten title affair. We should return to regular programming.

131 04-19 Dry Wood (1973) 3/5
132 04-22 Hot Pepper! (1973) 3.5/5
Another great pair of documentaries from Les Blank, both dealing with Creole life. DRY WOOD mostly features the people of a small town and a pig roast while HOT PEPPER! is a profile on Zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier. Both are pretty great, and like the previous Blank films show a joy of the simple life and community we seem to be lacking these days.

133 04-23 The Ernie Kovacs Collection Vol 2 (2012) 4/5
Another collection of Ernie’s morning, evening, specials and game shows. Similar to volume one, but a smaller collection. Still a fantastic bit of history that’s funny too. Amazing stuff.

134 04-24 Lenny (1974) 3.5/5
Bob Fosse takes a time out from musicals to do this biopic on comedian Lenny Bruce. I’ve been wanting to revisit this one since watching Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ earlier this year, and I enjoyed it about as much as I remember liking it the first time I saw it. It’s not the perfect picture, but Fosse’s direction and editing hold your attention, and Dustin Hoffman nails the intense Bruce. Worth checking out if you’re curious, but you might find it a little lacking since it doesn’t really check of the milestones of Bruce’s career.

135 04-24 Come Under My Spell (1979) 1.5/5
Another Carlos Tobalina Peekarama double feature from Vinegar Syndrome. This one finds Tobalina attempting a story! A hapless exchange student can’t score with American girls until he finds a book on hypnotism. It’s not as rape-y as it sounds, but with zero star power, piss poor acting and the typical hallmarks of Tobalina’s directing featuring out of focus shots, rough editing and to top it all off, some crewman sitting in the frame of the action, this one is a miss.

136 04-25 Tootsie (1982) 4/5
Dustin Hoffman plays a struggling, tough New York actor who to prove a point, dresses in drag to get a part on a soap opera. This one could of been painful to watch these days, but it holds up nearly perfectly. It’s laugh out loud funny, but the humour comes out of the situation as opposed to at the expense of Hoffman in drag. Mostly anyway. As a straight white guy, I might be insensitive. I loved it regardless, and Bill Murray and Teri Garr are both brilliant in supporting roles, as is Jessica Lange. The music however dates the film horrendously in the era it’s from, the early 80’s with the “Go Tootsie Go!” song that plays over montages (it is an eighties movie, it has montages) especially cloying. Not enough to ruin the film though, thankfully.

137 04-25 Lady Dynamite (1979) 2/5
The other Tobalina feature paired with COME UNDER MY SPELL, this one fares a bit better. A woman finds out that despite being faithful to her husband for ten years, she’s caught the clap. So she decides to make up for lost time and go on the prowl. It’s more polished than COME, but it’s still pretty dull stuff. I think Tobalina is the most artless of the directors that Vinegar Syndrome features. If you could ever get the sense he was trying, it could be fun to watch like an Ed Wood picture. You can tell though that he’s only interested in having product for his theater chain. To bad.

138 04-26 Blind Woman’s Curse (1970) 3.5/5
Half yakuza samurai picture, half ghost story and totally awesome. Meiko Kaji (LADY SNOWBLOOD) plays a young woman who takes over her fathers yakuza clan after he is killed. While attacking rivals for vengeance, she accidentally blinds a bosses sister, and believes herself cursed for it. That’s all in the opening minutes, and that’s the best I can figure it out since the film is bonkers. It never fully makes complete sense, but it’s a hell of a ride with some cool sword fights balanced out with horror elements and gore. Another great pick from Arrow Films to put out here in region 1!

139 04-27 Always For Pleasure (1978) 3.5/5
140 04-27 Lagniappe (2006) 3/5
Another pair of films from Les Blank, this time showing the details around Mardi Gras in New Orleans. ALWAYS is pretty much the perfect New Orleans documentary, showing a variety of parades from funeral procession to St. Patricks Day to the big Mardi Gras event itself. The best thing though is like his other documentaries, he concentrates on the music, the food and the people. So when it get’s to Mardi Gras, he shows the side street parades with the local tribes, spy boys and flag boys, it’s a side you never see on TV. LAGNIAPPE is made up of outtakes and musical performances shot during the same time that the original doc was made, and is a nice little extra glimpse.

That’s about it. The big news the past couple days of writing this is earthquakes in Nepal and more race riots, this time in Baltimore. It all makes me feel a bit helpless. I mean, I can scoot some cash to the red cross and whatever, but not much else. Awful times ahead I think, though we’re not nearly in as bad of shape as we were last year where every month seemed to spawn a new horror.

UPDATE: This is even later posting than expected. I wrote this Monday night, April 27 to post the following morning, and then got busy at work and forgot. Total failure. At least this one isn’t a lost blog and I’m posting it now. I guess this going live late at night for me will give people overseas a big thrill.

Yeah, right,

Movie A Day! 121-125: Lightnin’ Vermeer Burns

It’s late and I need to go to bed. So not much of an intro this post. It’s a Thursday night, the wind is trying to bring in the rain. Saturday is Record Store Day, a typical day of panic for me but this year I’m not feeling it. I’ll probably go, but I’m not sure I’m going to line up before the store opens in an obsessed fever. I’ll see how I feel on the day.

Another weird mix, but I feel a documentary film jag coming on, so that should balance the odd porno review that typically sully the blog and keeps readers away.


121 04-12 The 2015 MTV Movie Awards (2015) 3/5
A bunch of people I never heard of from movies I haven’t seen won some awards I don’t care about. It was hosted by Amy Schumer, and she’s the best and as good a reason to watch anything.


122 04-15 Powder Burns (1971) 2/5
Vinegar Syndrome dug deep on their latest Peekarma release of Alex deRenzy films. This one, billed as a “Meta-Western”, was so rare I think it was once disputed to exist at all. Anyway, I believe this one is future porn auteur deRenzy’s first attempt at a narrative film after concentrating on documentaries and loops. It’s a total mess. It want’s to be a wonky Russ Meyer romp, but it never get’s going with the amateur acting and what not. Plus it does go hardcore right at the end, so it was never going to play like a Russ Meyers film. Which is too bad, because despite the heavy print damage, the thing is actually made really good. Some of the shots of the cowboys out on their horses look really good and the idea isn’t a bad one, it just never quite works despite how much you might wish it did.


123 04-15 Tim’s Vermeer (2013) 4/5
Such a simple premise for a documentary. Johannes Vermeer was one of the Dutch Masters and known for painting photo realistic paintings. Penn & Teller’s inventor friend Tim is interested in figuring out how he did it. To say Tim is mildly obsessed is being polite, but he’s just the right amount of bonkers to be pleasant to watch on his journey to see if he can replicate the techniques, with no background in oil painting. It makes for a great documentary that reminded me of the smaller pictures that Errol Morris made focusing on individuals. The biggest surprise is that there are no tricks, with Penn & Teller attached, it’s directed by Teller, I kept expecting an Orson Welle’s type hoax to pop up and thankfully it never does. Good stuff, and worth your time.


124 04-16 The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins (1969) 4/5
125 04-16 The Suns Going to Shine (1969) 3.5
This is a pair of documentary short films by Les Blank featuring blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins. They’re quite brilliant. The first is the main film, and mostly captures Hopkins in his hometown in Texas playing the blues and capturing the community around him. It’s spellbinding. There’s a long sequence where Hopkins “explains the blues” via a song he’s making up on the spot. You wish the movie was three hours long, the less than 40 minute running time isn’t long enough. THE SUNS GOING TO SHINE is a second film made at the same time (probably an outtake), detailing the story of Hopkins leaving home at the age of eight to escape the cotton fields to become a musician. This is part of the Criterion Collection’s LES BLANK: ALWAYS FOR PLEASURE, so there are actually a couple more little shorts included on Hopkins, and it’s STILL NOT ENOUGH! (Also, watch the movie LOUIE BLUIE while you’re at it.)

One of the weird things that struck me watching Lightnin’ Hopkins tonight is the realization that the form of country blues he played is pretty much a dead form now. Anyone playing like that now would probably be labeled a poseur, and as far as a Black cultural thing, Hip Hop has taken it’s place as a form of speaking of the current Black experience. What Chuck D called “The News” for Black America. It makes one appreciate films like this even more. It’s truly a record of what is now lost. I’m sure there are people paying tribute to this music, but that seems different than creating it. Watching Hopkins play, the music flows out of him, the art being as effortless as breathing. A sign of the time and the years he put into it’s craft, art isn’t effortless to anyone if they care about it. Not a tribute of what others did, but the only music he is capable of creating. It’s a blessing that Blank was able to capture a piece of it. Hopkins didn’t want to do the film, Blank won him over finally over a card game. Hopkins made up a song about beating Blank at cards as a joke. Natural brilliance that can’t be helped.

Off to bed.