Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ghastlies


Director - Brett Kelly (Homicycle, My Fair Zombie)
Starring - Kim Valentine (Monster Pool: Chapter Two), Eric Deniverville (Boy for Sale, Prisoners of Time), and Joel Elliott (Countrycide, Monster Pool: Seven Deadly Sins)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "They've traveled over a billion miles to come and crash the party"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     When I was getting into horror I started collected the essential horror flicks like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Hellraiser, and so on.  Once I obtained those I started working on other titles.  I found myself being drawn to little monsters.  The first movie I picked up was Gremlins using change I had collected on my dresser.  I still remember that little detail to this day.  After I grabbed the sequel I got the Critters series and then It's Alive.  For the longest time little monster flicks was my favorite.  Sadly, you don't see a lot of these types of flicks anymore.  Late last year news broke that Camp Motion Pictures was releasing the indie flick Ghastlies.  The artwork knocked me for a loop.  Horror Society was lucky enough to get the exclusive on the film and now I was able to finally review it.  Thank you Alternative Cinema and Camp Motion Pictures for sending this one my way!
     The film begins with a cult performing a ritual when they are interrupted by small alien creatures with a taste for human flesh.  We fast forward and a group of sorority girls are planning a weekend getaway.  They bring a new pledge along for initiation but she accidentally unleashes the beasts from a well and they go on a bloody rampage.

    

     Ghastlies has one of the greatest posters I have seen in recent years.  It's fun and just screams the 80s.  Sadly, the film did not match the poster.   The film doesn't create that fun environment the poster paints.  The acting in this one is fun.  The cast has fun in front of the camera and dives deep into their characters.  There was several scenes that showed the cast's inexperience but for the most part they did a fantastic job at carrying the film.  The story for this one just doesn't cut it as a feature length film.  I love a movie that takes the time to develop the characters but this film has more scenes than needed to establish which character is which.  The film does have clichéd characters that are fun to watch but so many scenes are dedicated to establishing who is which.  The pacing in the film is a little off.  The film flows like an uneven rollercoaster with some of the thrills bunched together and long periods of dry scenes.  My biggest gripe with the story is the lack of small creatures.  They are pictured on the cover but don't share that much screen time.  Finally, the film is bloody but the effects are horrible.  Some of the scenes left me scratching my head trying to figure out why they decided to film the scenes the way they did. The puppets are fun to look at but the deaths are laughable at best.  Overall, Ghastlies is the biggest let down of 2018.  It had all the makings of a modern classic but failed to bring it all together for an unforgettable film.  It still has a few fun moments and would be fun to watch with a couple beers. 




Essex Spacebin


Director(s) - David Hollinshead and Philip Thompson
Starring - Lorraine Malby (Born to be King, Jack Says), Caryl Griffith, and Joerg Stadler (Lazarus Rising, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Comedy/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "The worst story ever told"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Troma is a company that is near and dear to my heart.  I first witnessed the greatness that is Troma when a friend picked up The Toxic Avenger on VHS.  I watched it countless times the following week.  When he asked for it back I was devastated.  I was lucky enough to get the DVD box set that also included the Toxic Crusaders not long after so I can't complain.  Troma has released some of my favorite indie flicks along with some that I can't sit through.  I recently had a triple feature with three new Troma releases.  After watching the funny Middle Finger and the surprising melodramatic oddball release of The Thingy: Confessions of a Teenage Placenta it was time to move on to the sci-fi comedy Essex Spacebin.  Was this going to be another fun one or would I be finishing up the movie marathon with a dud?
     The film follows Lorraine and her family as they struggle with being different.  Lorraine was approached by a strange man when she was a child while playing on the beach where she learned about outer space and portals hidden around the globe called stargates.  She has spent her whole life dedicated to finding these stargates and proving that there is something more outside this plain of existence.  Her family deals with a lot from her but in the end is she right or is there a mental illness plaguing her?
     Essex Spacebin made me think I was going to watch a high-brow sci-fi comedy that would make the likes of Troma proud.  Instead, we get a rather down to Earth flick that is almost sad at times.  The acting in this one is fun.  The cast shows a lot of heart and dedication to their role but their inexperience and lack of direction makes some of the scenes fall flat.  The cast seems to have their head in the right spot but a lot of the scenes lack emotions.  The cast just spits out their dialogue and the story moves on.  The story for this one is more dramatic than comedy unlike the artwork portrays.  The film, though the acting lacked it, was rather sad.  The film's protagonist clearly suffers from a mental illness and succumbs to several traps including internet scams following a Rasta intergalactic guru who she pays monthly.  This was rather sad.  The film offsets this bleak angle with some rather over the top characters that do offer up some humor that lightens the film up.  With that being said, some of the scenes were rather pointless and difficult to sit through.  The pacing was all wrong and these scenes made me want to turn the film off several times.  It needs heavily re-edited.  Finally, this isn't a bloody film.  It does have some minor practical effects and a great deal of visual effects.  Sadly, the visual effects are laughable which only adds more fuel to the fire.  Overall, Essex Spacebin was one that I was looking forward to.  Sadly, it was a let down.  The comedy missed it's mark and the story fell flat.  The film couldn't achieve what it set out to do.  




Monday, February 19, 2018

The Thingy: Confessions of a Teenage Placenta


Director(s) - Joel Rabijns (Balloon-Men, Perverse Conclave) and Yves Sondermeirer (Blue Dead Fish, Marianne)
Starring - Pascal Maetens (Remise, Paradise Trips), Karel Vingerhoets (Coppers, Come as You Are), and Celine Verbeeck (Nachtwacht, The Last Summer)
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "The miracle of life"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Troma has released some crazy films over the years with films like Surf Nazis Must Die, Tales from the Crapper, and Killer Condom.  Troma's titles are known to push boundaries and shock viewers into watching their releases.  For the most part it works.  They are no stranger to controversy and the weirder the movie the quicker they are to release it.  Sometime ago Troma announced that they had acquired right to release the German horror comedy The Thingy: Confessions of a Teenage Placenta.  I knew I had to see this one.  A fuckin living and breathing placenta that I'm sure kills people?  Who wouldn't want to see that?  I reached out and was able to secure a review copy and I'm glad I did.
     The film follows the living placenta Luke who lives with his single mother.  His mother was once a competitive bodybuilder specializing in the gains of just one arm instead of both.  She took time off the competition circuit to raise her son but as he enters high school and needs a mother figure she decides to start training once again neglecting him.  He befriends one of the school bullies but that doesn't stop him from facing daily beat downs.  Luke has finally had enough when a girl he takes on a date turns on him and tries to eat him.  He gets a gun, kills his mother, and sets his sights on the infant wing of the local hospital.
     The Thingy was not what I was expecting.  I thought this flick was going to be a balls out bloodbath with a killer placenta in a weird Troma inspired coming of age horror flick.  Instead, the film is an odd drama that takes a bloody turn.  The acting in this one is weird but in a fun way.  The characters are very odd and flamboyant.  They remind me of the characters you can find in an early John Waters film but not as well written.  The cast makes the film fun without delivering traditional performances.  The story for this one is not what I was thinking when I initially heard of the film.  The film actually plays out like a very unconventional drama with unrealistic characters before the last segment takes control and drives the movie like a bus on fire straight into horror.  The film does a great job at tossing outlandish scenarios and characters at the viewer to hold their attention.  Finally, the film isn't really that bloody.  We get some practical effects like the mother's bodybuilding arm and the placenta puppet but not as much bloodshed as I was expecting.  Overall, The Thingy: Confessions of a Teenage Placenta is a must for any fan of odd cinema and Troma fans alike.  You will not be disappointed.  



Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Middle Finger

Director - Seamus Hanly (Buzzards, The Amazing Few: Live at the Button Factory)
Starring - Seamus Hanly, Casey Jones, and Simon Mulholland (The Tale of Sweeney Todd, Newton: A Tale of Two Isaacs)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Action/Comedy
Tagline - "He's our only hope...sorry about that"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     The last month or so I've been lucky enough to check out some pretty entertaining flicks with very few duds scattered throughout.  After watching a few entertaining horror flicks and the new thriller from Concept Media I decided to sleaze it up a bit with Infrasexum from Vinegar Syndrome.  This was a bit of a disappointment.  Wanting something better I took to my review stack to find the next film to pick apart.  After a few minutes I decided to have a Troma triple feature.  The last few weeks has saw the release of The Middle Finger, The Thingy: Confessions of a Teenage Placenta, and Essex Space Bin.  This was the perfect time to toss in the Irish superhero tale The Middle Finger.
    The film follows the socially awkward Dennis (Hanly) who was retained a year in school while his friends go off to college.  He tries to fit in but his best friend is ashamed of him and often humiliates him.  To make matters worse, the biggest asshole in school has it out for him.  When Dennis feels he can't sink any lower an intergalactic being speaks to him and offers him an once in a lifetime opportunity.  He empowers him with the power of the mighty middle finger to fight crime while looking for an evil being that can destroy the planet.
     Troma is one of my favorite indie labels but they have released a few turds here and there.  No one is perfect and neither is Troma's catalogue of films.  With that being said, The Middle Finger was fucking fun.  It has a few laughs and a story that hooked the viewer like a catfish.  The acting in this one is solid but left plenty of room for improvement.  Seamus Hanly creates a fun superhero but Hanly as an angsty teenage made me want to punch him in the mouth.  I guess that is a true testament to his acting chops because I really hated his character until he was wearing the finger.  The supporting cast is solid as well but their inexperience did pop up from time to time.  The story for this one was fun.  We have a bit of a slow start but when the film picks up it holds the viewer's attention very well.  I've seen my fair share of indie unconventional superhero flicks but The Middle Finger stands out.  It actually has some laughable moments but a good portion of the humor does fall flat. The film has decent pacing but a few scenes does drag on a little too long.  Finally, this isn't a bloody horror film that I am usually reviewing.  Instead, this no budget comedy has light practical effects with some visual effects.  Overall, The Middle Finger is a perfect fit for Troma.  The characters are absurd and the story fits right in.  This one needs to be checked out.




Saturday, February 17, 2018

Infrasexum


Director - Carlos Tobalina (Notorious Big Sin City, Sexual Kung Fu in Hong Kong)
Starring - Eroff Lynn (Marilyn and the Senator, Double Initiation), Carlos Tobalina, Marsha Jordan (Her Odd Tastes, Count Yorga, Vampire)
Release Date - 1969
Genre - Drama
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     After watching the turd that was Victor Crowley I set my sights on my movie collection in hopes of checking out something sleazy and depraved.  I had several flicks to pick from.  I had several from Impulse Pictures, a few from random outlets, and then a couple from Vinegar Syndrome.  I was sick and did not want to put time into finding a movie so I went with Vin Syn who usually doesn't let me down.  I grabbed the 1969 sexploitation flick Infrasexum.  What pulled me to Infrasexum was the fact that the back of the film promised a little gore with this sleazfest.  Thank you Vin Syn for once again hooking me up!
     The film follows a successful middle-ages man who finds it difficult to perform in the bedroom.  He runs his father's company and has made a name for himself in corporate America but feels he is missing something in his life.  He gives control of his company to two employees, buys a cheap car, and heads for Vegas where he gets lucky at the tables.  He takes his new found wealth and rents a small room.  He tells his new roommate of his current situation with the ladies and he vows to help him overcome his problem.

     I wasn't expecting much from this one but I did want some fun sleaze and the promised gore.  The film was sleazy to an extent but that was about it.  The acting in this one is decent.  No one is winning any awards or going above and beyond to showcase their acting skill.  Everyone offered up mediocre and easily forgettable performances.  Personally, I blame their performances on the poorly written characters that had as much depth as a cardboard cutout.  The story for this one is rather strange for a sexploitation flick.  I say this because we follow a middle aged man.  A sleazy flick where the film's main focus is a man who can't get it up is rather unique to say the least.  With that being said, the film is very bland with very little action to hold the viewer's attention.  Finally, the film does have a death scene that is rather drawn out but was a huge let down.  The director did not use clever camera angles or anything like that.  Instead, he let the actor "stab" the actress but turn the blade sideways right before it connects with bright red blood pouring out everywhere.  Overall, Infrasexum was a frustrating watch.  The sleaze wasn't really there like in other Vin Syn releases and the one good death scene we get isn't good at all.  




Victor Crowley


Director - Adam Green (Hatchet, Frozen)
Starring - Parry Shen (The New Guy, Hatchet), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Ghoulies Go to College), and Laura Ortiz (Holliston, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Return to his swamp"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Is everyone ready for unpopular opinion time?  When I was in college I bought the first Hatchet flick.  I had just finished re-watching Feast and decided to give it a go.  I fucking loved it.  I watched it a couple times that month.  It was a fantastic slasher.  I bought the sequel a few years later and was not satisfied with the film.  It was more of the same with very little new material added to it.  When the third was released I found it for $1.99 at Wal-Mart in a Halloween display.  I had no desire to watch it but needed it for my collection.  I've hard that for a few years now and decided to finally check it out when Victor Crowley was released.  I tossed it in and was shocked by how bad the film was.  Fantastic gore but nothing else.  After watching all the other films in the series I decided to give Victor Crowley a go and see if it was an improvement over the third film in the series.
    The film follows Andrew (Shen) who is the only survivor of the third film.  It has been 10 years since the massacre and he has written a book about his ordeal.  His publicist Kathleen (Felissa Rose) tricks him into going to the swamp with his ex-wife who is a daytime television host and a camera crew to show viewers the area where so many lost their life to the legendary Victor Crowley.  What they don't know is that a no-budget film crew is there to make a movie about Crowley and accidentally resurrect him.  Now everyone must fight to survive or become another notch on Crowley's bedpost.
     I love slashers and I am one of the few horror fans that actually get excited over remakes and sequels but the Hatchet series is just boring to me.  The first film has it all.  It has a great slasher story that is the perfect throwback to the "in the woods" slashers I grew up watching.  The killer has one hell of a backstory that is clichéd but it works for the film..and the gore.  The gore is fantastic.  The sequel is nothing but gore and the third film is literally the same gore with nothing new in way of the story.  Victor Crowley falls prey to the same faults as the third film.  The acting in this one is good.  I really enjoyed most of the cast.  It was cool seeing Parry Shen return.  When I was younger I visited my brother in Tennessee and he took me to my first drive-in which was playing The New Guy.  This is one of my favorite memories with my late brother and Shen is tied to that.  His performance is great.  I also enjoyed Scary Movie and The Walking Deceased star Dave Sheridan's performance.  His character was over the top but is a little more ground than his other performances.   My favorite performance belonged to Holliston alumni Laura Ortiz.  She was fantastic as the strong female lead.  The story for this one is repetitive by this point.  We once again follow Crowley as he closes in and kills everyone in sight.  The story is very predictable and has nothing new for the viewer except that it does toss in a YouTube angle that brings it to modern day but other than that the story is nothing new.  We get some jokes randomly tossed in but that is it.  Finally, if you want blood Victor Crowley has it.  The film is overflowing with gore.  We get some of the best practical effects I have seen and some of the most brutal kills.  When horror fans ask for gore I will be recommending this one for some time but if they are looking for story they will be let down.  Overall, Victory Crowley was a bit of a let down.  The cast consists of con regulars that deliver solid performances but the story was lacking.  The only upside to this film is the amazing gore and effects.  You have to see this film just for that reason.  Sadly, there is no replay value.