Saturday, July 31

Waxwork (ワックス・ワーク) (1988) - Japanese Vestron Video International VHS

Being one of my childhood favorites (old thoughts here), this one had to be mine upon seeing it spring up on eBay.

Some quick thoughts on My Bloody Valentine (2D Flat Blu-ray) (2009)

You've probably seen it already, so here's the outline from the IMDB: "Tom (Jensen Ackles) returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine's night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Instead of a homecoming, however, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, and it seems like his old flame is the only one will believes he's innocent."

Details of the wrangling between Tom, his "old flame" (Jaime King), her present husband/sheriff (Kerr Smith), and his infidelity with one of his wife's co-workers are thrown in for taste into the above plot sketch. Oh, and a decade prior Tom fucked up big time as a green coal miner and flambéed a couple of his fellow laborers that was the catalyst for the following massacre by one of the victims. You really won't care as this 3D re-imagining of the 1981 Canadian slasher of the same name lumbers through the histrionics of who struck John

To be honest, I've never quite warmed to this CG-laded hacker's nearly thirty-year-old source material. I can't place why, perhaps a lack of personal "spark", despite watching it straight through multiple times over the years. Maybe I'll come around, but for now I'll differ to fellow horror blogger extraordinaire Kevin over at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies for his thoughts on yesteryear's My Bloody Valentine. As Kevin points out, director George Milhaka focuses on simple follow-through, a measured pace, and character development above gushing arteries. This is certainly a spot-on assessment, and to director Patrick Lussier's credit, his "MBV3D" takes a valiant stab at refining its own important narrative tips.

Something clogs up along this ride of airborne pitchforks and the story arc involving the identity of the murderous miner quickly hits a wall with the climax arriving with that distinct "Oh, so this is the end" feeling. The entire midsection doesn't have any appetizing mini-revelations which most slashers use to hook the audience along to the conclusion. Everything kinda binds up into something you expect to conclude in a more "weighty" fashion than merely the secrets between the three principals being revealed. The fourteen deleted/extended scenes included on this Blu-ray (and DVD) might speak to My Bloody Valentine's structure being ironed out in the editing room instead of bolted down pat on paper beforehand.

I'm not meaning to make this offering sound terrible; it has a few redeeming points even at a lengthy 103 minutes. Horror favorite Tom Atkins gets a solid minor role as the town's retired sheriff who witnessed the original slaughter and put an end to it outside the law. Atkins's role and performance here is very natural and works as a perfect example of a pointed wink at aware genre fanatics not sticking out like a sore thumb. The wet red stuff is exceptionally wet n' red considering the R rating. The mix of borderline shitty CGI for the sake of 3D effect does distract though. The totally naked chick running around for a whole stalk sequence, 'nuff said. The pathos with the reveal of the killer's identity is a nice touch and is really the only thing to say about the particular actor's turn. And it should go without saying that the unchanged look of the pissed off miner complete with gas mask and head lamp is still as unsettlingly as it was in '81. Ultimately, not bad, not great...but still rather blah...    
I watched this on Lionsgate's 2D Blu-ray, bought at Wal Mart, which appears to not be available everywhere. All the extras are retained from the 2-disc 3D Blu, just without the three-dimensional version and a cover that lacks the "3D" after the title. Lussier certainly isn't known as a great director and the HD video shooting method only exacerbates this stigma. The director seems to frame most shots with too much useless room around the centered action. That might be a side effect of all the specialized conditions of filming, but the dull look of My Bloody Valentine along with the dull sheen of HD video doesn't make this Blu-ray worth it for the picture quality alone. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track fares better. Considering the glut of dirt cheap used copies of the DVD; it might behoove those interested to drop three or four bucks instead of buying this new on either format in-store.  

Friday, July 30

Monogram's Freddy and Jason Rubber Key Rings

I'm not trying to officially endorse Monogram International after posting about their cool resin Freddy bank, but here's another neat-o New Line Horror license product from the company. I found these this afternoon at F.Y.E. for $2.99 each. They also had an all metal Elm Street key ring for $5.99 as well. These two are cooler though with nice color and "3D" detail. The backs are black with each character's name and franchise in red lettering. Being rubber, it's probably not a good idea to ever use these as actual key rings if you want to keep them as future collectibles.

Thursday, July 29

More Thanks to Horrifying Destinations Yonder!

Just wanted to thank Joel over at Porkhead's Horror Review Hole and Zach from Z for Zombies for honoring this vapid place as a Versatile Blog! Always much appreciated! As for today's entry, this is it, as I'm impatiently awaiting the weekend. In the meantime, scope out the tweaks made to BoGD's columns and alignments!

Wednesday, July 28

BOG (1983) - 1987 Air Video/Ariel International Releasing Big Box VHS

I've been forced to resort to the top shelf from my laziness over the past few days. Don Keeslar's eternal masterwork for all man, Bog, isn't itself rare at all. Its horrid stench has long lingered on tape with a plethora of mostly crap EP-speed cheapies and naturally a terrible looking transition onto digital disc. Though this AIR Video big box is certainly the rarest of any of Bog's releases. Not merely super rare, but more like mega-über rare with a cherry on top just like any of the titles from this long extinct fly-by-nighter. 

Tuesday, July 27

The Halfhearted (Fumbled?) Video Distribution of The Collector (2009)

This is one of those entries where my speculation is probably entirely untrue and mostly unfounded, but I've observed some odd things regarding the video distribution of Marcus Dunsan's The Collector. Over the past weekends, even almost the weekend of the film's video release, I noticed folks at several different swap meets selling legitimate DVD copies. Okay, spotting a couple of new releases of dubious origin in places like that isn't new. Yet, these different peddlers had what seemed like piles of copies. I'm aware that this potboiler didn't ignite the box office or particularly go gonzo on video, but it's simply unheard of to find such an abundance of "real" overstock of any film at a swap meet.

Then we have The world's largest e-tailer simply doesn't sell either the DVD or Blu-ray directly. Other online merchants do (i.e. - DVDEmpire, DeepDiscountDVD), but Amazon only offers both editions through their seller Marketplace. The film's distributors, Vivendi Entertainment and Genius Products, are powerhouses in terms of video properties and you probably own a slew of discs from their stables. So it just doesn't calculate that Amazon, at least for the weeks I've been checking, never has and still doesn't carry the video releases. What gives?

The Blu-ray edition also appears afflicted. I can remember contemplating buying the BD upon its day-and-date release with the DVD. The DVD arrived on April 6th, but the high def release couldn't be found anywhere in-store. Checking around online yielded the same deal. It was only after a few weeks that I noticed the Blu-ray popping up for sale. Either Vivendi screwed the pooch on readying the BD on time or lost interest in releasing it. If they indeed figured it wasn't worth the trouble, deciding to sell off the initial run (usually numbering 3-5k), the Blu-ray might become rarer over time. Could be worth bumping this up on your purchase list if interested before seeing it quadruple over retail in a couple years.

Of course, I'm more-or-less throwing out hearsay, and the reality of the situation is probably much milder. I've personally never seen such strange circumstances surrounding a video release. It seems Vivendi doesn't particularly care or totally bumbled the handling of this film's home debut. You can certainly find The Collector, but something is off with its availability (or non-availability) through certain channels. As for the flick, I stand behind my prior assessment. With the plausibility of a polka dotted elephant, it's a nice little slice of overly stylish sadism and exactly the kind of horror junk food I can't resist from time-to-time.

Monday, July 26

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (死霊のはらわた2) (1987) - 2006 Universal Studios Japanese DVD

After waiting over a month, this one finally arrived in the mailbox. I was planning on a capture comparison between this Japanese disc and the two Anchor Bays, but the transfer is the same as the Anchor Bay THX edition--just interlaced. Despite that, the image quality still kicks the shit outta AB's Necronomicon-packaged abomination. The quality here is pretty much identical to the interlaced Hong Kong Panorama disc with better encoding. Zero supplements with Japanese, Chinese, and Portuguese subtitles on either English 5.1 or 2.0 tracks. Universal Japan is set to debut a Blu-ray on September 23rd. So maybe, just maybe, we'll finally see a real high definition presentation instead of the garbage North American, British, and French Blu-rays.

Sunday, July 25

Shock 'Em Dead (1991) - 1990 Academy Entertainment Promo Screener VHS

Be sure to check out my article on the new "director released" Shock 'Em Dead DVD release over at The Blood Sprayer!

Saturday, July 24

The Hills Have Eyes, Part 2 (1985) - Thorn EMI/HBO Video Betamax

This one is from those moldy Betas from PA and hurts the most out of them all. The cover, case, and cassette are in excellent shape, but the damn tape looks like someone dunked it in a box of white powdered Munchkins. I haven't actually seen this sequel since I've always heard it's pretty mediocre. This cover rocks though and it's one of my favorites from Thorn EMI. It's bold and colorful handdrawn design recalls a series of the video company's releases from the British studio HandMade Films. When Cannon bought Thorn EMI's film catalog in 1986, HBO/Cannon Films re-released this in a regular cardboard case as opposed to a white clamshell.     


Friday, July 23

BREAKING: The Return of the Living Dead (1985) Announced for Blu-ray

. have just posted a new Blu-ray sales listing for Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead from MGM Entertainment on September 14th for $24.99. The specs will likely change being a brand new listing, notice the 1.33:1 full screen ratio, but the number of discs is currently pegged as two. 


Some thoughts and factoids about Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight (1995)

With BoGD going through an impromptu spat of demonic horror viewing, an entry about Ernest Dickerson's Demon Knight was inevitable. The Cryptkeeper's first "official" foray onto the big screen is one of the best contemporary horror films of the '90s and the last great studio genre picture before Craven's postmodern slasher meanderings. Although some of that might be the sentimental value talking. This is one of the first "new release" features from my early days of discovering the genre. My mom even allowed me to watch it upon first renting the tape--a huge event for a 12-year-old.

I knew I had to revisit this one last night after flipping through the radio and landing on Pantera's Cemetery Gates on my way home from work. A song that you just don't hear on standard FM, let alone any Pantera, that's on Demon Knight's soundtrack along with groups like Ministry, Rollins Band, Sepultura, and Gravediggaz. I spend many a night listening to that battered CD doing homework.

Anywho, Demon Knight still holds up exceedingly well today despite never being particularly frightening. It's a brand of horror that steadily went straight-to-video after the effects of Scream and its malaise of derivatives. Demons just aren't winning box office fodder anymore and this outlandish screamfest inadvertently hammered in the final nail. A shame really, as some of the scariest and some of the most easygoing of modern horror involved Satan's servants. Preppy teens in self-aware peril and agonizing torture became the average movie-goer's new scare fare.  

The presence of strong, non-racially motivated African American characters is what might be the most refreshing aspect. There's no urban settings or Tyler Perry Madea stereotype bull here; just black and white characters desperately trying to maintain a unified front against man-about-Hell Billy Zane. Well, all except Thomas Haden Church's Roach. The actor then primarily known as the bumbling mechanic on the sitcom Wings delivers a perfect backstabbing asshole...with smokin' nipples. William Sadler, veteran of two episodes of HBO's Crypt series, conveys his lead's generations of divine right merely through his grisled visage. God of character actors Dick Miller gets a very meaty part, any film that does this automatically earns good boy points, and Miller should have patented the "loveable drunk" bit role which he can pull of masterfully in his sleep. Of course, the self-deprecating coolness of Zane's Collector steals the show out from everyone. It's performances like this that make one wonder why Zane never seemed to gain the popularity he should have, but then again, his abilities evoke those of Bruce Campbell and we all know of his "limited" mainstream status nowadays.

Onto the trivia, Demon Knight (along with Bordello of Blood) had the unfortunate fate of being one of Universal's horror titles licensed out to Image Entertainment for distribution on DVD while Uni handled the VHS and Laserdisc. Image didn't produce any special features, so Universal didn't feel the need to do so or have the option to port anything over from Image for their independent DVD re-release in 2003. Although a short EPK video was made (seen here). The following tidbits are from Tales From The Crypt: The Official Archives by Digby Diehl. An excellent, full color coffee table book covering (most comprehensively) the original EC comic run, HBO's television series, Crypt collectibles, Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood, and more. The book is out of print and can be pricey, so I felt the need to share these facts about Dickerson's film for those who don't have it.
  • Writers Reiff, Voris, and Bishop first penned the screenplay in 1987 while in college.
  • The Collector was originally known as The Salesman. 
  • The screenplay was shopped around Hollywood with director Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child's Play) initially interested with wishes for Chris Sarandon as Brayker and Tommy Lee Jones as The Collector. Holland instead went on to bomb with 1987's Fatal Beauty.
  • Pet Semetary director Mary Lambert was then interested, but after Semetary's sequel bombed her chance to helm was dashed.
  • The writers started to think their creation was cursed until their screenplay was optioned by Universal with Ernest Dickerson, a fan of the Crypt comics and Famous Monsters magazine, joining up with the writers to iron out the script.
  • Dickerson initially wanted Willem Dafoe and Val Kilmer as The Collector and Brayker respectively.
  • The way the demons are born was inspired by Hydra's teeth forming the skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
  • Shooting the demons in the eyes was inspired by the old adage "the eyes are the window to the soul"
  • EC Comics pioneer Max Gaines and comic censorship crusader Fredric Wertham would have particularly taken issue with the ocular violence in the film.
  • The original idea for the look of the demons was guys in black suits and sunglasses until effects man Todd Masters thought that was dumb.
  • Masters's extremely lean demon design was economical with batteries placed in the crotch piece for the radio-controlled tail.

Thursday, July 22

The Convent (2000) - Japanese Albatros Film DVD

I'm tired as hell today from the blistering heat, so please excuse yet another scan. I think this is a good one though. I've always enjoyed Mike Mendez's demonic nun, ass-kickin' Adrienne Barbeau-starring indie The Convent. Mendez exhibits great tact in delivering a brisk, funny, and gory ode to Night of the Demons with smatterings of The Evil Dead. This one has a freeing sense of not being afraid to be itself instead of either demanding or unrealistically believing in a trumped up self-importance--an attribute shared with the two '80s classics mentioned above. It's simply harmless fun--even with the appearance of Coolio.

The cover art of this disc doesn't quite have anything to do with the actual content. Only goes to show how the Japanese possess an unfailing knack to make anything look like a must-own. I'd recommend throwing this flick in your collection even without this wild art.

Wednesday, July 21

Tuesday, July 20

Troll II (1990) - 1992 Epic/Columbia Tri-Star Home Video VHS

Picked this up at the swap meet and I'm baffled as to why this tape still commands $15-20 with the double feature disc so cheap. I've also never seen a tape that lists the seconds of the runtime (94:33). Weird, must be the power of NILBOG!

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) - Ken Films Super8 Reel

Another five buck Pennsylvania find. The seller also had The Blob (1958) and The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) in badly beat up boxes for the same price. The plastic reel is just slightly over the circumference of an Excedrin bottle. The film is presented in black and white as opposed to properly in color. No way to play it, as this is my first Super8.           

Monday, July 19

Some quick thoughts on Night of the Demons 2 (1994)

Twenty-something teenagers at a Catholic high school run afoul of the always saintly Angela at nearby Hull House. After initially leaving without incident, the "kids" discover the demonic legend to be gory reality after one of them innocently takes a tube of possessed lipstick from the creepy old house...
Mid-'90s horror flicks like Night of the Demons 2 are reminiscent of the recent progression seen in mainstream comedies from Judd Apatow. I'm no expert in comedic trends, but Apatow's films seem to represent a sea change for on-screen laughs. Farce franchises like The Naked Gun and Austin Powers have fallen to more contemporary, "idyllically-realistic" comedy as the multiplex preference. At the time of NotD 2, horror was facing the same crisis, with far out terror scenarios/villains rapidly starting to stumble in revenue. Wes Craven's self-referential Scream (1996) re-vitalized the marketability of the genre. Much in the same fashion James Wan's Saw (2004) re-invented mainstream horror once again after the genre began hitting the box office ropes. That's not to say these two are superior to what came before, but they should be owed some gratitude for continuing the genre's march onward. If it weren't for horror cinema's panache for "theatrical" re-invention every so many years, we would no longer have it.

So NotD 2 feels especially like a relic, but it also manages to feel like a relic for 1994. It's very much in the late '80s look, sound (queue the metal tracks while in the Seattle grunge boom times), and tone of Kevin Tenney's original. Although it's hard to believe a party featuring a variety of (extremely old looking) high schoolers would ever willingly dance to death metal. There's more lighthearted comedy amongst the well done R-rated grue and Hades make-up, but at least this sequel isn't an exact retread of the first---for the most part. The very game Amelia Kinkade is back as Angelia and still looks great instead of sorta being "motherly frumpy" in the terrible third installment. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith is always one thing and that's dependable with some threadbare spooky atmosphere amongst the body-melting hellions. If you aren't in the mood for the original, this one would make a great chaser to Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), or The Convent (2000).

This Republic Pictures VHS is an EP-speed promotional screener sent to video stores to get the establishments interested in ordering copies. Being in EP, it looks like shit, but there's a five minute rental marketing pitch for the movie ("host an Angela look-a-like party evening at your video store!"), two NotD 2 trailers (unlike the extraless DVD), along with trailers for Scanner Cop and some Amityville sequel. The front cover pictured to the right gatefolds open to reveal more marketing appeal for businesses to consider.

Sunday, July 18

The Executioner Part II (1984) / Frozen Scream (1975) - 1985 Continental Video Big Box Betamax

Here's one of the better tapes from the weekend from a random yard sale in PA. I bought a few other Betas from the folks, all of their reels were powdered with mold, despite the cases being in very good shape. You tend to see this one in particular pop up faded as hell for some reason. I'll have to wait to find these again to see them because of the "unseen" damage. As usual, Bleeding Skull makes these sound like must-sees.


Saturday, July 17

Today was Horror Mag & Mega Awesome Poster Day on my Picking in the Sticks!

Traveling ninety miles in the wilds of Pennsylvania for two days straight to look for the types of stuff I geek out over is daunting. The state isn't particularity known as a haven of horror, despite the upcoming Horrorfind Weekend dropping in Gettysburg instead of Murderla...I mean Maryland. That's not a slight against the birth place of the modern zombie, but it doesn't come to mind as a natural place to unearth horror goodies. It's actually a hard place to find a certain type of most things.

Antiques and collectible shops can be found all over the lower half of Pennsylvania--most are shit. You either get that high brow garbage for people that can afford to blow thousands on darky wind-ups or gaudy eight hundred pound dressers. Or broken, old, and sun-bleached crap no one wants. Or crafts. Fuck crafts. There's also so much that you might walk into a place with nothing while the shop across the street you didn't even consider is a honeyhole. Whatever the case, VHS is treated with the same apathy, but with generally higher prices. No old dude, your tape of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever isn't worth four bucks along with your other two hundred easily found tapes that will never sell.  Ma'am, you're worthless Disney tapes have tripped into negative points of worthlessness from their covers being so faded that it's impossible to tell what the movie is unless you look at the tape. Take several trips to the dumpster.      

I also had ignorant assholes crowding me out with surprising frequency both days. As a guideline of courtesy, if someone is already looking at a small box or general section of movies, I make a point to wait at a distance until they move on. I don't stand pretty much right by their side, lean over right in front of them, and/or reach across right in front of their faces to grab something. I had this occur on five or six occasions from both sexes young and old. Stand the fuck back, especially if you're one of those idiots who has to look at the cover of every movie to identify it. Learn to read or get a new hobby. You'd think in a place with so much beautifully empty countryside...

I might sound just a touch bitter, but I'm pretty excited. All said and done, some badass stuff was saved from the clutches of the land of John Deere and cow shit. Most of these classic mags were only five bucks or less which is nuts considering their age and popularity on the collector's market. Also scored a few fresher horror movie mags for $2 a piece. But the real story are the two posters I absolutely had to make mine.

The first, a full size 27x40 one-sheet for Redneck Zombies for Trans World Entertainment's home video release. This isn't the film's original poster (seen here), but the TWE re-design either sent to or requested by video stores to help drum up awareness. I love Pericles Lewnes's feature way more than what's recommended to the general public, so I had to own this. There is some staining along the bottom left, but the huge graphic is bright and in great condition. The second, a 24x36 advert for Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors from Media's video release. Another favorite, this one (I believe) was part of a two poster set that were sent to video stores bound together. The perforated bottom edge indicates that the long sheet was probably tore in half to result in two posters. I see these posters marrying my prior love for the movies and my present love for the tapes and movies. I'll be framing these real soon!

TALES OF THE ZOMBIE #1, Curtis/Marvel 1973

MONSTERS UNLEASHED #1, Curtis/Marvel 1973

CREEPY #50, Warren 1973

ALIEN OFFICIAL MOVIE MAGAZINE, Warren 1979 (sticker on the outer bag)

(Ultra Violent #7 & 8, Dark Side #118, Filmfax #42, Rue Morgue #85)


Thursday, July 15

Battle of the Fasano Horror Headbangers

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987) - A group of metal honchos shack up in the sticks for some needed record time to meet a pressing deadline. The homestead has a nearby barn house converted into a professional studio, but little do the hairy gents and their "dates" know that the place was the scene of a horrid, unexplained accident involving an oven and barbecued boy. Satan and his one-eyed goblins are afoot and murderously working their way through each of the band's members. The band's lead, John Triton (Jon Mikl Thor), has a mighty ace in the hole upon finally facing the evil in his true form...

Black Roses (1988) - A controversial metal band, Black Roses, is kicking off their latest tour in the quiet town of Mill Basin much to the ire of the area's elders. Despite protest, the band begins a series of five concerts at the local high school (sound ridiculous much?). At first, the music appears fairly innocuous as the concerned parents let their guard down, but once the auditorium doors close, the group gets raunchy and their message quickly twists. With each successive show, the returning teens turn nastier and are eventually driven to demonically mutated cold-blooded murder. The only one wise to Black Roses's adverse affect on the children of tomorrow is their English teacher with gasoline and flares being the only hope at the band's fiery finale...

Before getting into these two, it's somewhat important to talk about a 'lil history. Given the popularity of the peaking heavy metal movement in the '80s, it's sad that the few mixtures between hairspray and horror never really came into their own. Not classics like the "rock" Rocky Horror Picture Show or "punk" Return of the Living Dead, but God's honest Fuck you, Tipper Gore can get hit by a bus metal.

The "mainstream" peak came with Charles Martin Smith's Trick or Treat in 1986. A lukewarm programmer detailing the exploits of an angst-ridden teen (Family Ties's Marc Price) channeling his rage through hidden messages from a beloved dead headbanger on an unreleased master acetate. Smith's film can see seen as the knee jerk reaction to the Parents Music Resource Center's bullshit senate "grilling" of Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, and John Denver in late '85. The media event quickly dissolved into farce as the three men tore into those presiding articulately defending freedom of speech and art...with Snider defiantly biting the American flag for the press afterward.

Trick or Treat touches upon this before giving way to formalism, with the Blackie Lawless-like artist threatening figureheads at a hearing, but this is where the potential of "hair horror" died. Every example, including John Fasano's double platinum '87/'88 duo, never "got" the potential of the commentary in the whole moralistic PMRC-driven battle against the deceptively smart music held. There's one excellent, insane, epic horror film in there somewhere, but real-life offerings gave way to their own cheapness or ease of marrying scary sounds with scary pictures. So we're left with more '80s goofy crap. I'm not complaining, it's just good to understand that point if it wasn't obvious already. Expecting any good even by traditional norms of the period is tough. Pop a few cans of Stella Artois and enjoy the feeling...

Fansano's Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (The Edge of Hell) and Black Roses typify these six string-infused cheese puffs well. Nightmare is written by and starring the buffed out Jon Mikl Thor, founder and lead of THOR, who surprisingly isn't that bad as the movie's band lead. The rest of the runtime, save the rollicking climax, is a chore without those trusty beers. You can immediately tell it'll be padding du jour by the protracted opening credits followed by a needlessly long drive to reach the farm in the band's gaudy van. There's a few nervous giggles throughout since one has a tough time gauging whether Fasano and Thor were actually serious or knowingly campy. A feeling shared with Black Roses since both feature cartoony looking puppets supposedly from Hell.

The narrative is conveniently broken up into noticeably "fractured" segments--the intro, some rockin', some killings, sex scenes...and then we come to the completely fucking nuts climax. In the final battle against good and evil, Triton reveals himself to be the "Intercessor", and struggles hand-to-hand with a towering, clunky A1 Sauce-slathered Devil puppet. Since I just spoiled it, the full effect is lost, but it's nearly impossible to avoid having some idea of Triton's oiled-up antics beforehand. Although short, this battle is hilarious with Thor mugging his face off, and would possibly be hernia-inducing if one walked in totally virginal. When you realize the shooting schedule was only seven days, all of Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare's many faults become endearing. Fasano, cast, and crew "hammered" something out in no time with no money that's harmless fun.

The following year, Fasano visited metal-plated "terror" again with Black Roses. The production values and schedule is obviously improved, but the film ends up being less charming. Starting off with a scene of the band performing fully "demonized", one can't help but be reminded of George Romero's lingering Diamond Dead project. That's one of the highlights as the flick settles in and fails to be particularly memorable aside from good tuneage from the likes of Lizzie Borden and Tempest. The one almost daring aspect is how none of the teen protagonists come away clean. All of the youngsters affected by Black Roses's negative waves commit horrible acts which ultimately damn them even when the band's spell is broken with the lead singer turning in a reptilian-man-puppet (another highlight).

I hate to nitpick what seems like one of the smallest aspects, but the synth score that plays over most of the non-concert sequences is terrible. I mean, it's so distracting that it's like a nude supermodel bending over two feet away from your face while watching--just not nearly as pleasant. The super "bubbly" track honestly sounds ripped from one of those idiotic toddler-oriented shows on public television. Every emotion or surprise is overbearingly punctuated to the point you reach for the mute button in disgust. When I stay up all damn night watching horror flicks that's the last thing I wanna hear. Some of the later, "creepy" music fares better, but the other crap is tantamount to tearing off your thumb and cramming it in your ear--not merely a sore thumb.

Both of John Fansano's hybrids aren't a complete waste, but one wishes that history was different and they melded into one. Both have juicy premises that might have been better served by a single decibel blowout. Still, the two or all three talked about here can make a decent all-nighter...just don't forget the Stella Artois...

Wednesday, July 14

Nekromantik (1987) & Nekromantik 2 (1991) - 1992 Film Threat VHS

Like every other release of Jörg Buttgereit's corpse fucking duo, these Film Threat tapes are sought after and collectible. The small zine-small distributor-turned webzine also released Buttgereit's Der Todesking (The Death King) in a hard "regular-sized" clamshell unlike these two slipcases. These flicks seem to make strange bedfellows, I found Nekromantik recently from an old guy with other comparatively mild horror titles and Nekromantik 2 years ago from an attractive Asian woman at a yard sale. Wonder went on in that house? I also have a copy of Nekromantik with a photocopied Film Threat cover on high grade S-VHS. Seems like overkill...

Tuesday, July 13

Thanks and Sub Rosa's Truth or Dare? Re-release

Just wanted to thank Joe Monster of From Beyond Depraved! and Strange Kid of Strange Kids Club for Versatile Blogger Award nods! I'm always humbled when sites I admire and think are way better than this little place come outta nowhere and bestow such nice gestures of appreciation. I have my own little blogger award memes so I'll reserve my picks for those later in the year. Thanks again guys and thanks as usual to everyone who visits! Like I've said in the past, BoGD was intended to be a place I'd enjoy stopping by daily, and I'm glad to see others are enjoying it as well.

Over at the The Blood Sprayer, I just posted a little thing about Sub Rosa's fresh re-issue of Tim Ritter's Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness (1986). It's one of my favorite '80s SOVs (well, 16mm) and the studio's prior DVD was going for upward of forty bucks after it went out-of-print. This one is only ten bucks on Amazon, includes all of the prior extras, and for some unknown reason came in a solid white case instead of black.

Monday, July 12

Bloodsucking Freaks (悪魔のしたたり, 1976) - Japanese Troma/ Tokuma Communications Co. VHS

I liked this one enough to snap up this tape. The extra bonus being the number sticker on the cassette's spine...


Saturday, July 10

The Night Child (Il medaglione insanguinato) (1975) - Cocktail Video Canadian VHS

I think this one left an annoyed eBay seller in its wake. After a week long auction with two hours to go, I threw out a maximum bid of twenty bucks. The then-current price was at $10 with one bidder. This tape is quite rare and I've seen it go for much higher than that in the past. It seems like "one of those tapes" that collectors pile on top of at auction. I figured my bid would be easily surpassed and went to bed without much expectation. After arriving home from work the next day, five bids were tacked on and I won within one dollar and six cents. Afterward, the seller changed all of his auctions to Buy It Nows with higher prices, even ones that aren't nearly as prized, than this tape. Ermm...sorry...

Friday, July 9

Halloween (1978) - 10.31.78 THE Limited Edition - 1998 Anchor Bay VHS Set

Being that there's forty-thousand copies, this double bright orange VHS set of John Carpenter's Halloween can be always found floating around on eBay. So I wasn't in any rush to pick this "Bible-cased" LE up, but it was a no-brainer after running across such a low number of 00033.


Thursday, July 8

Some quick thoughts on Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989)

After the all-woman Cycle Sluts biker gang roll into a sparsely populated desert town, battery-powered undead are unleashed from an abandoned mine retrofitted into a storage facility nearby. The local mortician (Return of the Living Dead's Don Calfa) responsible for the experimentation using the townsfolk has set his sights on the newcomers, but his dead will soon be more than enough for everyone to handle.

The best way to sum up Chopper Chicks is that it's the kind of trash bettered with the nostalgia of youth attached. One that will trick you into a revisit after hindsight tells you that it's better than it actually is. Dan Hoskins's lone directorial effort tries a bit too hard to be "purposeful" crap. The premise should write itself with a natural flow to its absurdity. Instead, the story quickly clogs with suddenly discarded events and relationships cast off for no real reason other than to thin the cast. An example being a young Billy Bob Thornton in desperate need of dental work appearing as the ex-hubby of one of the bikers. Time is spent wrangling with the details of their once love, only for Billy Bob to be killed off with nearly no reaction from his ex-wife. Members of the gang also disappear or die violently with an equally chilled reaction from their fellow compañeras. Yes, this is a dumb horror comedy, but it's hard to care about a film so sloppy with the basics.

Don Calfa was so great in O'Bannon's Return that it's painful to see his ability so wasted here. The actor does what he can; basically manically screaming and acting shifty whilst looking kinda like Raul Julia with his jet black slicked back hair and orange tan. The mortician pops up so randomly, even after being seemingly killed off/zombified, that Calfa's character loses any menace. The effect isn't comical; just another mismanaged component of Hoskin's screenplay. None of the chopper chicks particularly stand out. Catherine Carlen does deliver angry monologues well as the leader of the "Sluts", but like everything else in Chopper Chicks, her brewing conflict with her own gang seems slapdash.

The zombies, which mostly look like sweaty people stumbling around in dirty clothes, are oddly reminiscent of Romero's Land of the Dead in their human-like antics. They shoot guns, drive recklessly, and there's even one pushing around a reel lawn mower as seen in Land. Also the way they march towards the town and reach it for the climax echoes the 2005 film. The best aspect about the treatment of the undead is how the living populous recognize the dead as their dearly departed and refuse to kill them again. I've always felt too many zombie pictures forget that certain emotional connection relatives have with deceased family members. Nothing comes from it in this film though.

Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
ambles along well enough to be watchable. I didn't feel much viewer fatigue even after the realization that things weren't going to get better. Without any boobs, barely any blood/gore, and just some suggestive sexuality; this might actually be an okay outing to let a little fledgling horror fan see. This New Line/Turner VHS is rated R at 86 minutes with a few places with jumps in the score suggesting gorier footage might have been cut. The out-of-print Troma Team DVD has this cut, but includes scenes from the six minute longer Japanese cut with the original score and title ("Chrome Hearts") as an extra. Like the question with many Troma discs, why couldn't they have included that (perhaps better) version?

Tuesday, July 6

Dr. Jekyll's Dungeon of Death (1979) - 1985 Magnum Entertainment VHS

Found this big box over the weekend. An old man was getting rid of his collection and this was at the bottom of the last box I dug through. I nearly didn't even look completely through the box, but in doing so proved the importance of looking at every tape. All I could see was the back's phase "blood drenched hellhole" under the stack that was on top of it, but just from seeing that I was already sold before it was in my hands.

Monday, July 5

976-EVIL Version Comparison - 1989 VHS vs. 2001 VHS vs. 2001 DVD

Despite not particularly enjoying Robert Englund's first directorial foray, I had a lingering urge to figure out what the hell the deal was with the differences, if there were any, between the supposedly extended VHS and supposedly shorter DVD edition. Is the inserted footage more gore or just filler? Does the DVD have any gore cut? So I sat down last evening and essentially watched 976-EVIL twice on two different formats with pen in hand.

Information on the versions seems non-existent and the IMDB's alternate versions page only states the DVD is the 92 minute theatrical cut. The thing is both VHS releases list a runtime of 105 minutes on their back covers, but the actual cassette labels read 100 minutes. Fast-forwarding through the '89 RCA/Columbia Video tape and actually watching the '01 Columbia Tri-Star tape, both have a time from the first credit to the end of the closing credits of one hour and fourty-three minutes (1:43/103). The second markers are only within a few ticks between them. The '01 Columbia Tri-Star DVD runs exactly one hour, thirty-two minutes, seventeen seconds (1:32/92). Also if you wanna get extremely anal, the 2001 VHS's cover has a bit of blood painted on Hoax's cheek and chin while the 1989 tape and 2001 DVD covers are bloodless. No idea why...

So yep, the DVD that dropped at the same time as its VHS re-issue counterpart is roughly eleven minutes shorter than both tapes (and presumably the Beta and LaserDisc). It's really not a bad situation since all of the added footage is padding with no changes to the meek display of blood and violence. Actually, the added stuff comprised the bulk of my original complaints with 976-EVIL (mostly Sandy Dennis's turgid performance), so I'd say this leaner 92 minute cut is stronger and more enjoyable. Only pick up the tape(s) if you're a completist or die hard fan.

Nonetheless, I tried to break down all of the DVD's omissions for the sake of the film's eighteen fans as follows:
  • After the sky fish fall, Hoax and his Aunt picking up the fish and throwing them in a trash can is gone, as is Spike dialing the phone in the following shot.

  • Aunt Lucy's description of the "miracle" to the magazine writer is trimmed and his following remark about quacks making up stuff is gone.

  • The fish in the fridge, their subsequent spill onto the writer, and the writer in Lucy's nightgown waiting on the laundry are gone.

  • An establishing shot of the school before we see Hoax's head pulled up from the toilet is added.

  • Susie slyly trying to get a date with Spike after school is trimmed of the beginning.

  • The writer interviewing Hoax in his bedroom is gone.

  • The crane shot of the writer pulling up to the diner and his banter with the annoyed waitress is trimmed.

  • The diner conversation between the writer and Spike after the "personless" Vette attack is trimmed.

  • A few frames between the scene of Susie and Spike having sex and Hoax hearing his motorcycle leave are trimmed.

  • Mark Dark using several answering machines to avoid a bill collector is gone.

  • The conversation between the writer and high school principal on their dinner date is trimmed.

  • The glowing blue effects shot of the demon's transference into Hoax through the phone seems cleaned up of some bad black blotches.

Sunday, July 4

Raw Deal (1986) - 1986 HBO Cannon Video VHS

I gotta watch this one again, but remember it as Schwarzenegger's trashiest '80s flick. Brainless action so clichéd that the film is literally composed of nothing--or at least the hardest to recall and relate to others. Red Sonya was like Conan, Commando is that one with a fay Vernon Wells, Red Heat is the Russian one with Belushi, and The Running Man is well, The Running Man. Raw Deal is...? Dunno, but the Stones's Satisfaction plays over one of the shootouts. I'm always surprised that track has stayed with the film, given the tendency for such high profile artists to have crazy license renewals on film use, and Microsoft having to pay millions for the use of Start Me Up. I also love the badass-sounding Italian title, "Codice Magnum".

Raw Deal has been put through the ringer more than a middle-aged Thai whore on home video. This HBO/Cannon clamshell is the first with just HBO Video later releasing a "regular" slipcover version. Video Treasures released a shit EP-mode version while Anchor Bay had a bareboned widescreen "Collector's Edition" tape in their usual black rounded clamshell. Anchor Bay also released a DVD, but both of their releases are incorrectly framed at 1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1. Fox then released two discs and paired it in a double feature with Maximum Overdrive. Given all that came after it, this first tape is the one you don't come across often and matches the other white clam Thorn EMI/HBO tapes of the era.

Saturday, July 3

Intruder (Kong bu ji) (1997) - U.S. Tai Seng Video Marketing VHS (Parts A & B)

Here's an edition that seems to fallen off the face of the Earth. Intruder is a Hong Kong Category III nasty written/directed by Kan-Cheung Tsang who's presently known as a contributing writer to Stephen Chow's monstrous hit string. This became Tsang's only directorial effort and sunk into obscurity. The only editions I had ever heard of before this find are the China Star VCD and two German DVDs--one out-of-print uncut disc with English subtitles and another butchered of fifteen minutes for a FSK-16 rating. I didn't jump on the "good" German edition while available, but found this one last week, which doesn't seem to have a presence online anywhere besides a few posts from the seller on HK film forums.

No idea why the 87 minute film is spread over two tapes. Tai Seng seemed weird about doing this on random titles with others unaffected. The distributor does leave a bad taste in my mouth for other reasons. TS is notorious for slapping company logo stickers on already English-friendly Hong Kong DVDs (and Blu-rays) that sell from importers for a fraction of what they deem the U.S. MSRP to be. I remember always seeing discs that I could get for like $7 direct from Hong Kong online for $30+ in-store. That's horseshit. Also Tai Seng's "in-house" discs, like The Untold Story, don't justify their high prices and are usually no better than the cheaper HK editions.

Although this particular one is cool being so obscure. The "Part B" tape is in a whole other clamshell with the same cover just with "(Part B)" and two small red horizontal lines below the spine's title instead of just one. The wear on the back cover is supposed to be there, despite looking just like moisture damage. The covers and cassettes also have Chinese stamping over Tai Seng's logos.

Friday, July 2

Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom (1999) - 1999 Reel Gore Productions VHS

This one came in yesterday from a different seller. Now all I need is the tape of Violent Shit 2: Mother Hold My Hand and the Reel Gore quadrilogy will be complete. The aesthetics of this edition are the cleanest of the three. Very high quality cover in a black "puffy" clamshell with rounded edges as opposed to the "hard" clams of the other two. Best of the four features as well with David Zuzelo of the great Tomb It May Concern in agreement. Shock-O-Rama released VS3 on U.S. DVD as "Zombie Doom" paired with Zombie '90, but I'd wait for the Synapse set that's guaranteed to be better given the studio's badassery.

Also be sure to check out my articles at The Blood Sprayer for Italian Horror Week, The Self Defeating Nature of Late Era Italian Horror and Profondo VHS: Italian Horror Cover Art from Around the World along with everyone's work. We put a lot into it! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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