Sunday, May 31

Day of Unrest Odds and Ends

I completely forgot, but Anchor Bay in the United Kingdom will be unleashing a five-disc/nine-film collection of Coffin Joe's works the same day as their DVD/Blu-ray releases (07/06/09) of his newest Embodiment of Evil. So I updated the video guide and I'm totally hopping over to when they become available. I'm still trying to find any info on the Brazilian VHS releases. I know they exist but naturally details are hard to come by.

Went back to that kick ass yard sale and grabbed all the Universal Monster flicks they had. Never been a big fan of most of Universal's golden age horror output outside of the classics, but these came too cheap to resist at $12. Plus a few Pantera and Danzig video collection tapes and a Misfits Orlando '96 in-audience bootleg concert was throw in.

Pro-tip: Sunday is usually the best day to browse as many listings end during the course of the day with new and re-listed items appearing in the evening.

I've also been perusing eBay today and snagged Japanese pre-records (the dork name for VHS from Japan) of Mattei's '88 COP GAME and the '80s Horror standard HOUSE. Unsure why I'm capitalizing film titles. I was outbid on Dolph IMustBreakYou's RED SCORPION, dammit. Shit there I go again. Anyway, hang in there, JUNK might be tonight's selection...

Saturday, May 30

Some quick thoughts on The Day of the Beast (1995)

A.K.A. El día de la bestia

IMDB plot outline: A priest finds by means of a cabalistic study of the bible that the Antichrist is going to be born on Christmas day in Madrid. Helped by a heavy-metal fan and by the showman of a gimmicky psychic program, he will try to invoke the devil to find out the place of birth and kill the baby.

Been wanting to see this for quite some time, but appears to be rare on Spanish DVD and I'm unclear whether the U.S. VHS releases are uncut or subbed or what. I found a cheap VHS bootleg of the Spanish disc so I decided to settle on that for now. This is my first encounter with director Álex de la Iglesia and he has a great eye like Del Toro, but there's some rough patches.

First, either I didn't hear it or it was an unexplained detail, but how is the priest so certain Satan himself will tell him where the Antichrist will be born so that he can kill the child. Last time I checked, the child would be on Mr. Horn-Fire's side. While the film is great fun, being a horror comedy after all, it feels overlong at 103 minutes. There's an outstanding 90 minute film in here with some shaving especially in the final half. Also the climax seems marred as I couldn't quite understand the resolution...even after re-watching it. Almost as if the film is high on the well-done comedic elements that it flounders on whole point of the story.

Still, this is a must-see for fans of "new wave" Spanish horror. It has that oddly rich, rustic, and slick sensibility also found in the work of Del Toro and Balagueró. It's surprising an American DVD never surfaced.

Rabid Collector and the "Film Fan"

Set phasers to ramble...

The place of this altercation shall remain nameless, but a slow-burning flame war pitting me against a person who "owns films out of love for film" has been smoldering for a week or so now. After much back and forth (yea, I know about the old adage about arguing on the 'net), a quasi-stalemate was reached, but the most recent charge against lil ol' me is that I "own obscure films because I think others view me as cool for doing so."

The stumbling block for the "film fan" was a declaration by yours truly concerning my preference with not caring to own non-Horror "classics", and admittedly I don't. That's not to say I don't have a few, like the Godfather films, but I'm not an adamant supporter or viewer of them. I often find widely-considered "classics" out of my beloved genre a bit of a bore. Shit, I haven't seen even one scene from any of the Lord of the Rings films. Sure, I can sit down and enjoy them once in a blue moon, but where's the beef? They'll be in-print on home video until the sun burns out and Satan emerges from the Dead Sea. So there's little fun or future profit in actually owning them. Same goes for the majority of mainstream pap that infests Blockbuster and bloated listings on Amazon's Marketplace going for 1¢.

As a collector, I love the thrill of the hunt as much as actually finally locating the prize. My modus operandi is to buy now and ask questions later. If it looks odd, it's cheap enough, and I'm looking at it--to hell with me ever hearing of it before or not. To hell with what the critics say. To hell with my girlfriend's bitching. That fucker is mine and I will piss on your head if you attempt to pry it away.

I may not like it, but I just might. This is where the factor of the chance of finding it again comes in. What would happen if I didn't get it? I may not find it for years, run across a copy in poorer condition, or maybe find another copy next week. It's all luck and collecting movies naturally has the upside of an actual experience from the item being sought-after instead of just staring at stamps in a book. Striking fried gold upon watching is all part of the fun.

You simply don't get this feeling with "popular." Oh look, there's a copy of Saving Private Ryan. Hurray, throw the bitch on the bottomless stack. Now find a copy of say, Hauntedween, and you've found glory. Don't buy it and you've effectively sat on a cactus bare-assed. Don't buy Transformers? Just wait a week, it'll be even cheaper. Or wait until it's on Showtime again, or On-Demand, or Netflix, or Red Box, or Hulu, or until your dumbass cousin gets it. Also needless to say I'd much rather watch Reb Brown screaming like a girl than a drooling Brando keel over in his tomato garden or an aging Bruce Willis make an ass of himself. If said Reb is on some grotty bootleg with Dutch subtitles bought for a quarter then fuck man my night is made.

At the end of the day, I know what I like, so what if it's a pursuit with no end with an endless "to-watch" pile, and Fellini can still go suck a fatty.

Yard Sale Motherload: Titan Find

On my way home from work this morning I stopped by a yard sale. Nothing too appealing, loads of baby clothes, which seems to be the point of most family yard sales. Just as I was about leave, a fleet of guys carrying boxes came from the garage.

Horror tapes, a shitload, for only a buck a piece! Folks, I almost shat myself. I didn't get them all, lots of stuff commonly found on DVD, but in the end I walked away with one of the coolest finds I ever stumbled upon.

24 Anchor Bay tapes with most belonging to the Hammer Horror Collection, even the English and German versions of Herzog's Nosferatu and complete Ilsa series:

A few SWVs and other oddities (finally found the Thorn/EMI ROLD clamshell) :

Some MGM Midnite Movies and F13s:

Bunch of randoms (went apeshit here, but they're nearly all in like new shape)

Then I went over to the swap meet and found a few (Foxy Oil Wrestling...mmmmmmmm)

Friday, May 29

Coffin Joe Video Guide

If you don't like Coffin Joe, leave this blog forever. I'm serious. No, not the 12-year-old emo asshole from The Horrors, I'm talking about the undisputed king of South American horror, Zé do Caixão. For my and the benefit of others, I've complied a list of DVD and VHS releases of his works. The list isn't definitive, and I'll be updating it as I find more releases, but I hope it gives fans a pointer at where to start the hunt. So after the jump, check out Coffin Joe's horrifying, chilling, and wonderful videography!

José Mojica Marins - Director/Co-Director

Reino Sangrento (1952)

- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (NO English-subtitles)

À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma (1964)
... aka At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (USA)

- DVD: U.S. Fantoma (English-subbed)
- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (English-subbed)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver (1967)
... aka This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse

- DVD: U.S. Fantoma (English-subbed)
- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (English-subbed)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video VHS (English-subbed)

Trilogia de Terror (1968) (segment "Pesadelo Macabro / Macabre Nightmare")
... aka Trilogy of Terror

- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (NO English-subtitles)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed, see "One-Shots")

O Estranho Mundo de Zé do Caixão (1968)
... aka Strange World of Coffin Joe

- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (English-subbed)
- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

O Ritual dos Sádicos (1970)
... aka Awakening of the Beast

- DVD: U.S. Fantoma (English-subbed)
- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- DVD: U.K. Mondo Macabro (English-subbed)
- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (English-subbed)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

Finis Hominis (1971)
... aka The End of Man

- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (English-subbed)
- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

Quando os Deuses Adormecem (1972)
... aka When the Gods Fall Asleep

- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

O Exorcismo Negro (1974)
... aka Bloody Exorcism of Coffin Joe

- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

A Estranha Hospedaria dos Prazeres (1976)
... aka The Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures

- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

Inferno Carnal (1977)
... aka Hellish Flesh

- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

Delírios de um Anormal (1978)
... aka Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind

- DVD: Brazil Cinemagia (English-subbed)
- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

Encarnação do Demônio (2008)
... aka Embodiment of Evil

- DVD: Brazil 20th Century Fox (English-subbed, according to one source)
- DVD: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)
- Blu-ray: U.K. Anchor Bay (English-subbed, coming 07/06/2009)

Unsubbed Segments From Larger Works on Brazilian DVD

A Sina do Aventureiro (Adventurer's Fate) (1958)
Meu Destino em Suas Mãos (My Destiny is in Your Hands) (1963)
Estupro (Perversion) (1979)
24 Horas de Sexo Explicito (24 Hours of Explicit Sex) (1985)
48 Horas de Sexo Alucinante (48 Hours of Hallucinating Sex) (1987)

First two on Cinemagia's At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul DVD
Last three on Cinemagia's Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind DVD

Unsubbed Documentaries on Brazilian DVD

O Universo de Mojica Marins (1978) (Cinemagia's This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse)
Horror Palace Hotel ou o Genio Total (1978) (Cinemagia's Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind)
Demônios e Maravilhas (1987) (Cinemagia's The End of Man)
... aka Demons and Wonders


Coffin Joe's Visions of Terror (1994)
... aka Visions of Terror

- VHS: U.S. Something Weird Video (English-subbed)

Music Videos

- Necrophagia - Zé do Caixão (on their Nightmare Scenarios DVD w/ Coffin Joe introduction)

Thursday, May 28

Some quick thoughts on Shock-O-Rama (2005)

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

IMDB plot outline: Three horror comic tales connected to a wrap-around story involving a B-movie actress stalked by a blood-thirsty zombie.

I was unsure what to expect from this self-admitted time-waster, but I only ended up with exactly that. This isn't an anthology, basically two slimeball indie studio heads screen two films to find their new "babe" actress after firing their former star "Rebeca Raven" (Misty Mundae) while she retreats to a country home and is stalked by a zombie. Sadly, the two films shoehorned into the wraparound are talky, unfunny, and worst of all annoying.

Mundae proves once again to be an impressive actress regardless of the schlock and it's chuckle-inducing hearing her character rail on the state of her career and quality of projects she's handed--obviously lampooning her real acting persona. The ghoul attack wraparound isn't re-inventing the wheel, but the entertainment value is vastly more palpable. Shame it seems so much shorter than the other crap. I'm sorry, but couldn't director Brett Piper see the standalone potential of the wraparound? Especially with the funny, naked, and wholly competent Mundae? Oh well. At least I found it for $3, Amazon's Marketplace has a bunch of dirt cheap copies, but I'd advise against it. Cool cover art though...

Wednesday, May 27

Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness (1986)

"This isn't Halloween, ya know?"

Directed by Yale Wilson (Tim Ritter)
88 Minutes / Odeon Entertainment DVD (U.K./PAL/R2) / 1.33:1 Full Frame

After discovering his wife cheating, Mike (John Brace) suffers a severe break in his psychological state and reverts back to a traumatic experience as a child with a game of truth or dare. Ending up institutionalized with psychotic hallucinations, he gets well enough to be granted a release after just one year, but is he truly rehabilitated?

Wow, Ritter's third feature is a gigantic leap in quality on all fronts from Day of the Reaper. The Halloween influence is still obvious, but I kept thinking this actually bears more resemblance towards Zombie's remake. The buried childhood trauma for Mike's deeply troubled psyche is quietly ingenious in its simplicity and is the type of nuance sorely missing from Zombie's film. The truth or dare game convincingly dictates Mike's bloodlust and the character even dawns a crude copper mask during his stint in the quiet room. Brace does an excellent job of conveying the lead's murderous confusion and it's surprising to note one episode spot on Cheers is the actor's only other credit. In short, Ritter's breakthrough film goes a long way to prove Zombie squandered millions on what this micro-budgeted '80s indie "accidentally" accomplished over twenty years prior.

There are a few problems, but nothing too damaging to the end result. Primarily some shots lingering for too long, Mike obtaining a convenient arsenal for the final stretch, and some needless keystone cop-type filler. Otherwise, Ritter proves he certainly did have something to bring to made-for-video slasherdom, and this is wholeheartedly one to track down.

Odeon's now out of print DVD hailing from Britain looks terrible being a direct rip from the original U.S. Peerless Films VHS with rabid block artifacting from awful DVD compression. Basically, the VHS would look better. Find the tape or the sought-after (and valuable) Sub Rosa Special Edition DVD.

Film: 6.5/10
DVD Picture: 1/10
DVD Sound: 4/10

Tuesday, May 26

Day of the Reaper (1984)

Directed by Tim Ritter
75 Minutes / Sub Rosa Midwest (issued in 2002) / Letterboxed

A psycho adorned in a black executioner's mask and bloody apron escapes from an institution to slaughter some '80s babes.

Tim Ritter's (Truth or Dare?, Killing Spree) first feature-length outing shot on Super8 for a cool $1,000 in Florida. This is going to be a short review since this is damn near unwatchable. There's some semblance of a threadbare Halloween-influenced slasher plot, but the film looks absolutely terrible with equally abhorrent post dubbing, nearly no sound effects, and a constant Casio keyboard-helmed score. The several do-it-yourself gore effects are welcome, but you're likely to get a low grade migraine from trying to look through the incredible amount of video haze and massive damage. It should also go without saying there's the required gaping plot holes, run-on exposition, and endless scenes that last ten minutes too long.

Thankfully, this tape has an interesting inclusion, a running trivia sentence track along the bottom letterbox matting written by Ritter himself. He points out the standard stuff like influences, locations, connections with his future work, and problems encountered with shooting. Though he pokes fun at his work as well and throws out amusing anecdotes like closing a cassette deck for the sound of a car hood or chomping into a Big Mac for the effect of munching on a severed arm. Also this VHS transfer was created by taping the film projected out of a shoebox onto a you can only imagine the picture quality. For Ritter fans, this is essential, but everyone else should be as cautious as you would handling a rabid beaver with only latex gloves.

Film: -4/10 (but as Ritter asserts, get "something" made at all costs, hard to seriously condemn that gumption)
VHS Picture & Sound: 1/10

Some quick thoughts on The Signal (2007)

Why does everyone have a 42" silver framed flat panel?

The opening sequence, dubbed Transmission I, waves at the border of familiar brilliance by tapping into the fear of a quick and easy fall of civility bought upon society by a nearly unstoppable force. Much like Romero's seminal Dawn of the Dead. Raw, unpredictable, and dangerous.


Despite not being a zombie flick, something close to what I've always thought has been solely glossed over in such films is explored a little. The simple inborn revulsion humans have towards death and scenes of death. It's not so much that they want to eat you, but the human connection and horror of seeing and smelling death...and they're walking. Most work in this subgenre skim the top or don't touch upon this at all--opting to go with a more "let's create some mindless gore." Even Romero hasn't fully explored these possibilities, but he has dug the deepest in this respect for undead cinema. Here there's a small scene of a survivor letting go a flood of panicked logic after a night of terror to the first other "normal" person he finds. Capturing the desperation of applying reason to unspeakable chaos, the monologue emerges a stunning piece of memorable pathos and the kind of drama all-too-rarely found in the genre today.

the actors ponder the tarnished screenplay as the viewer checks his watch

Unfortunately, the second sequence seems determined to shatter this power and plunge into one of the most annoying problems with modern indie horror today--the compulsion to be cheeky. There's far too much cutesy levity and misdirected character focus that I actually felt bad seeing such starting potential burn away by the minute. It works in a broad sense, since the characters are under the disorganized spell of the signal, but that doesn't mean one has to like it. I will say the compelling notion of the ease that comes with rage, both in the "normal" and the crazed, is pleasingly fleshed out from the beginning. You just have to wade through proceedings that smack of a young director's forced calling card. Towards the end of this particular segment, the three central characters begin converging again, feelling like the first clear breathes after nearly drowning.

can't stop the signal...

The final sequence gets the story back up to almost full power and settles in for a solid finish. Still, the exhilaration of the beginning ultimately isn't unmatched. It's the fault of none of the actors, direction, or other elements seen on-screen, but a blemish for the tri-scribed screenplay to saddle the entire piece with such a languid midpoint. I'd give the overall film a score of somewhere between 7 and 7.5 with a few snippets well exceeding that. It could have very well been a classic...

Monday, May 25

Red Box? Fuck That: Fotomat Drive Thru Movies Presents DEATH WISH

Just finished revisiting the Winner/Bronson classic, Death Wish, on a heavily abused tape relishing every minute. This revenge template's greatest strengths being the unflinching depiction of brutality and taming the nitro-injected stoic badass that is Bronson down to an unassuming portrayal of a reasoned everyman. Bronson thin mustache's a career-defining performance that in hindsight became a plague upon the actor throughout the rest of his professional life.

That doesn't diminish this achievement from being forever iconic within its genre and a magnificent double feature with Dirty Harry. Is that enough platitudes for ya? We even learn before Jeff Goldblum became a shotgun-swallowin' insect and expounded existential with T-Rexs that he enjoyed killing "rich cunts." Also, I must state this, fuck The Brave One.

I never knew Fotomat rented tapes out (even features a Fotomat opening intro) and this is one of those tapes that's a golden representation of a particular work. The picture quality is perfect for the tone, being just gritty enough, muddy, and flush with color to make you feel like a fly on Kersey's shoulder. It's hard to describe, but I can't see getting this sticky seat, dank dollar theater experience on DVD. I don't even have the box and found it in a dumpster years ago. Awesome. I wish Fotomat was still around so I could return it by way of walking through the bad part of town and coldly kill a scum motherfucker. Okay, maybe not...

RAW FORCE (1982)

"I saw this in a Clint Eastwood movie once"
-- Cameron Mitchell realizing his career nadir cometh

Directed by Edward D. Murphy
86 Minutes / Media Entertainment / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

A group of American martial artists shove off to the high seas in search of a graveyard for dishonored kung-fu masters found on Warrior Island; an isolated dot said to be inhabited by monks that can raise the dead by feasting upon the barbecued flesh of hapless young girls. They first stop off in Shanghai to enjoy the local markets, beer, and carnal delights. Two of the guys visit a cathouse that's raided by a slimy jade dealer and his henchmen in cop disguise sending naked whores fleeing out of windows.

Back on the boat, the fighters enjoy a night of alcohol-fueled debauchery with the bar open and beds soft. Quietly the jade dealer's men, this time looking like fat Hell Angel's rejects, sneak abroad and fiery hell breaks loose as the group is forced to fed off the attackers and abandon ship. After days of raft floating, they reach dry land that happens to be the sought-after island, but run afoul of both the jade dealer and monks who see them as unwanted invaders. The dead are commanded to rise and soon it's every brawler for himself.

This is the brand of trash where the sheer frequency of goofball events occurring on-screen is so high catching the character's names and even the story points proves futile as your mind trips all over itself trying to keep up. I'm honestly unsure exactly why the martial artists want to find the island or what scam the jade dealer is trying to pull. There's so many tits, asses, gloriously hamstuffed lines, bloody brawls, giggling monks, and close range bazooka destruction wrought against defenseless trees that those things simply don't matter. I do know a sloppy Cameron Mitchell stumbled on set as the boat's captain and constantly looks a few mere pints away from an alcohol-induced coma. Raw Force also proved a career ender for several of the featured actors, including the second-billed Geoffrey Binney. I sadly missed spotting Camille Keaton (I Spit on your Grave, Tragic Ceremony) as "Girl in Toilet" and she was probably topless too...dammit...

Things aren't all roses, as the chaos and halfhearted action of the final twenty minutes does hamper the nearly out-of-control momentum the film builds. Despite this, there's something undeniably fun about director/writer Murphy's work. It's almost as if he was trying to emulate David Zucker's self-referential genre writing with many little random yet funny lines and sly send-ups of kung-fu, action, and horror flicks. This makes the film a bit of an anomaly in the annals of cult filmmaking, especially being a product of '82. Murphy went on to do some small acting roles and pull triple duty on what appears to be a straight action flick entitled Heated Vengeance two years after Raw Force. So it's tough to say what his exact intent was at this point.

This gem is buried in Video Asia's more easily found Grindhouse Experience DVD set along with nineteen other exploiters and I'd say it's just about worth the twenty buck price tag for the chance to see Raw Force alone.

Film: 7/10
VHS Picture: 4/10 (you could almost see the carbon shredding off the tape the first half hour)
VHS Sound: 5/10

Sunday, May 24

The end of skipping, Cenobites observing Hubble, and graverobbing in Texas

. shit?

Just some random crap not worth their own entries.

I forgot to mention last night that my Blu-ray copy of Shadow: Dead Riot was a dreaded rattler from Amazon. You know, a sealed case with the disc within obviously mimicking a pinball machine with the slightest jiggle. Upon opening to survey the damage, the disc was laying off-center in a pile of blue shards that used to be its holder spindle. Much to my surprise the disc was 100% unscratched, even when held under strong light. The data side was like new looking just like a coaster of polished glass. Now, this was my first Blu rattler, and even though the format has a mandatory anti-scratch hard coat, it's sorta amazing to finally see its benefit. We're all used to ugly skid marks from such instances with DVD.

I popped in Hellraiser: Bloodline from thespian phantom director Allan Smithee last night. You can probably tell I get into weird moods sometimes and dig up oldies-but-still-shitties to needlessly endure. I've always found the start of the flashbacks depicting a perverse aristocrat in 18th century France and his apprentice enlisting a toy maker to create a puzzle box for their gory experiments with Hell to be the strongest aspect. All is lost once moving to our modern day and beyond. Even if the film didn't suffer massive studio interference, the story should have firmly anchored itself to that setting and track. Who knows how the result would have turned out (a different set of Cenobites?), but I'm betting considerably better than the agonizing end of anything resembling quality in the series we have now.

Also I wrapped up a large portion of the immortal Texas Chainsaw just now to wash the taste of Henkel's shit out of my mouth. So enjoy some artsy captures I took from Dark Sky's fantastic DVD:

5/23-24 Swap Meet Finds

Demons (1985) (Anchor Bay)
Prime Risk (1985)
Raw Force (1982) (another copy)
Silent Scream (1980) (sealed)
Steele Justice (1987, sweep the leg)
The Video Dead (1987)
The Thirteen Reunion
(1980, Hammer House of Horror)
The Sleeping Car
Raiders of Atlantis (Deodato's I predatori di Atlantide) (1983)
(2007, DVD)
The Last House on the Left (MGM DVD)
The Signal (2007, DVD)
The Thirsty Dead (1974) (King of Video clamshell)
River of Death (1989)
ra Flesh (1980, Blue Video, came in a dirty white clamshell w/ no cover)
Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma) (1975, sealed Water Bearer VHS)

Saturday, May 23

Some quick thoughts on Shadow: Dead Riot (2006) on Blu-ray

Yep, I know I'm just fucking asking for it, aren't I? Without even seeing it, I knew I wouldn't care for it, but I went for it anyway. In my defense, I wanted to how Shriek Show handled one of their debut Blu-rays (the other Flesh for the Beast) and this edition can oddly be found cheaper than the DVD editions.

Anyway, Tony Todd's a rasta Candyman inmate resurrected by blood with a legion of undead to reap havoc upon his former prison now habituated by a few women and even fewer staff. It's up to a young Michelle Obama look-a-like (Carla Greene) to end it being fueled by injections of Todd's own mystical blood.

This flick only solidified my indifference towards WIP material. Watching frumpy women shower, lesbian advances by guards, and a prison doc sex up inmates gets real boring after about ten minutes into an hour of such action shoved at our feet. It also doesn't help the women are dressed in Old Navy's vibrant and sassy athletic Spring sweats. Misty Mundae's performance towers above all others here and I'm being honest. Also the zombie outbreak finally occurs with not even a half hour left.

The gore is fucked up in the wrong way as well. Even though this was the ten minute longer unrated version, the crimson seems all too reluctantly released from arteries. When it does get splashed about it's either a too bright raspberry jam color or nearly black. I'd like the ask the creators if they understood this was a direct-to-DVD production.

I wasn't expecting much from the Blu-ray, given Shriek Show's dubious track record of merely passable DVD transfers, but I was pleasantly surprised. The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC-encoded transfer generally looks great and probably matches the quality found in the HD source master. SS even threw in a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that really only goes on to nakedly reveal the indie originals of the sound design and abundance of stock sound effects. All of the extra features found on the unrated double DVD set are included here. Hopefully the studio can keep this up as they move to debuting non-homegrown properties on BD.

Favorite Cover Art of All Time? Imperial's Stage Fright (1987)


Couldn't Get Through It: Brotherhood of Blood (2007)

I honestly had no idea what this was about, even forgetting the vamp angle, except Haig and Foree had roles and I kinda wanted to see it on that basis. I accessed it on last night and hit the forty mark before opting out. Judging by the cover, I was thinking something akin to From Dusk Till Dawn, which is one of those films I'm always surprised people bust on.

But no, it's like a tomb-raidin', super loose Blade riff with the warmly diffuse look of a shot-in-high def softcore porn helmed by Fred Olen Ray. The proceedings felt real middling to the point I was nodding off a little with two minor genre notables woefully miscast. Haig looks like himself, only with what looks like gum stuck to his top teeth mimicking fangs and Foree some kind of swashbuckeling vampire pirate.

I plan on picking it back up sometime before final judgment, but it's forty minutes of vampire flicks like this that make Let the Right One In all-the-more revolutionary for the dead horse subgenre.

Friday, May 22

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

"Ain't no fuckin' biggie..."

A.K.A. The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Directed by Kim Henkel
84 Minutes (home video version) / Sony Home Entertainment DVD / Anamorphic 1.85:1 Widescreen

Henkel could be a unheralded genius. If the co-writer of the original Texas Chainsaw purposely fashioned this film to be a remake put through the grist mill of how generally shitty early '90s mainstream Horror flicks were, then yes, Henkel succeeded gloriously. Of course, this isn't the case, with the director/writer intent upon making a "real" sequel to the '74 classic. Boy, this is one epic fuck-up.

Apparently the film was besieged with production problems. That's no excuse for what's on screen as everything is wrong-headed. It's as if the original and the third sequel conceived a child whilst doing copious amounts of blow during the pregnancy with Henkel's work as the horrifying and sad result. It's a remake of the original with hints of Burr's sequel and no aspects denote this being a pseudo-second sequel "real" or otherwise.

maybe it was all a fluke?

The cast makes every character on screen incredibly unlikeable, even the supposed protagonists. You literally don't care if a bus fucking crushes their skeletons to bring the end credits after the opening drive conversation about sex and cancer. It's amazing Zellweger hit it big right after this landing a role in Empire Records being just as bland as the rest of the ladies. McConaughey enlivens the screen a little, basically creating a sporadic dust devil in a vacuum of suck, and what the fuck is with the robotic leg controlled by TV remotes. Though it is quite fun seeing Matthew repeatedly treat his fellow future millionaire like rough trade.

go fuck yourself

Robert Jacks' take on Leatherface is by far the worst offender. The musical composer doubling as an actor shits all over the role and we get an obese man constantly screaming like a woman with the character's subtle gender confusion taken to simply stupid heights. It's the worst performance of a fright icon yet without question. Yes, even including pudgy Bradley showing up for a check in Hellraiser's later direct-to-video hell. Henkel also greatly pushes him into the background for McConaughey, some idiot who knows historic quotes, and another idiot with rings through his belly skin.

the best part...all half a second

What was everyone thinking? You can't go home. The prospects for nothing but a trainwreck should have been obvious from the first kernels of thought rolling about in Henkel's head. This "return" only hurts the original (along with the others) in a roundabout way much like Russo's constant fixation with tarnishing Night of the Living Dead with his own laughable "re-imaginings" and recuts. The IMDB lists this as "Comedy/Horror" and if this was the intent all along that only furthers the condemnation. And to think diehards got all bitchy over Bay's '03 remake. This is the piece of shit they should have been railing against at full force to this day and beyond.

Film: 0.5/10
DVD Picture: 5/10 (doubt it could look much better, even in HD)
DVD Sound: 6/10

Finally, The Macho Scent

Splash a lil combo of these...

...and it's time to workout.

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

Directed by William Lustig
90 Minutes / Live Home Video / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

Officer Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) is back stalking his former beat, reaping mayhem against the innocent and tracking down those who wronged him from the first picture. Now a gruff detective (Robert Davi) and a cop psychiatrist (Claudia Christian) seem the only ones who believe Cordell has risen again and are determined to provide the justice he seeks.

Worthy sequel that's missing the power of Atkins and Campbell (well, pretty much), but manages to pull through on action-fueled momentum. Lustig and Cohen keep the pace extremely brisk and if you do find yourself bored--just wait a few minutes. Davi can do this type of role in his slumber and Christian makes for a better female lead this go than Landon.

One thing bothers me though, if Cordell is merely a man framed by the force and disfigured by inmates; why would he ever slaughter the innocent and help criminals to begin with? Sure, you wouldn't have the series if he didn't, but it seems a fundamental flaw to the concept that's not hard to see. Though that's probably over analyzing the fun car chases, police headquarter rampages, full body burns, and the jaw awesome of Z'Dar.

Film: 6.5/10
VHS Picture: 5/10 (pronounced ringing around edges)
VHS Sound: 7/10

Poor White Trash II (1974)

A.K.A. Scum of the Earth
Directed by S.F. Brownrigg
84 Minutes / Magnum Entertainment VHS (bootleg) /Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

A couple arrive at cabin retreat and not three minutes in the husband is axed to death sending his wife (Norma Moore) screaming into the woods. She comes upon a peculiar backwoods family and reluctantly stays having few options as night falls. The greasy man-of-the-house starts drinking and tensions begin flaring. But when the man's son shows up dead on their porch after trying to get help; the recent widow finds herself in perhaps even more peril than if she had braved the woods.

Yea, this is about 15% horror and 85% drama. Brownrigg wastes no time with the opening stinger, but soon smashes into a brickwall of patently stereotypical hicksploitation. Now, this wouldn't be bad at all, except the acting is surprisingly decent from everyone. This quality elevates the proceedings beyond the trappings of a traditional exploiter and ultimately dooms the viewer to draggy scenes of dramatic tension. It doesn't work, especially with the trite good ol' boy atmosphere, and the reveal of the killer feels pulled more from a soap than what this breed of flick should snap into. Brownrigg does a good job exceeding expectations in the wrong direction.

I noted this is a bootleg above, so here's the story. I purchased this tape off Amazon's Marketplace from a seller in good-standing who advertised it as "like new." Despite the big box being in amazing shape--the tape has to be a bootleg. The most obvious sign is the piss-poor inkjet label, but the cassette looks and feels like a blank tape in a four pack from Wal Mart. At the original '85 release of this Magnum VHS, cassettes were heavier in hand and seemed sturdier than nowadays. I e-mailed the seller and he swore up and down it was original, claiming it was a later release from Magnum when they were shutting down. Yeah right.

Film: 3/10
VHS Picture: 5/10
VHS Sound: 4/10 you dare tread upon the staircase?

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