Monday, July 24, 2017

Love Camp

Director - Jess Franco (Vampire Junction, Helter Skelter)
Starring - Nanda Van Bergen (Call of the Blonde Goddess, Women Without Innocence), Ada Tauler (Call of the Blonde Goddess, We Are 18 years Old), and Monica Swinn (Female Vampire, The Demoniancs)
Release Date - 1977
Genre - Erotic
Tagline - "An inferno of warped women"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     After making my way through three Severin flicks and the amazing Belko Experiment I was faced with another important question...what film to review next?  I looked through my pile of check discs and review copies when I came across another Jess Franco Full Moon release.  The last one I reviewed, Women in Cellblock, was a huge disappointment but I expect that from time to time with Jess Franco.  I'm not always into all his films.  Sometimes they lack story while other times they lack substance.  Women in Cellblock 9 lacked both.  I wanted to give Jess another chance to redeem himself so I tossed in the 1977 flick Love Camp and hoped Franco didn't let me down again.
     The film follows a group of women from different walks of life who are kidnapped by a group of military insurgents acting on behalf of a revolution and turned into their personal playthings.  The camp they are placed in is controlled by Isla (Van Bergen) who is ruthless and slaughters anyone that opposes her.  When a young bride is kidnapped on her wedding night her husband joins them in hopes of seeing his love again.  We then follow her as she plots with counter-revolutionists to stop them and free all the sex slaves in their possession.
     When I about a Jess Franco film I immediately think of sleaze, eroticism, and plenty of sexuality.  He really enjoyed the human form and his female leads are always exceptionally beautiful.  Sadly, a lot of his films lack story and are used merely as a vessel to show off the female form.  Love Camp was one of those films but he was still able to hold my attention unlike Women in Cellblock 9.  The acting in this one is not the best I've seen but definitely one of the better acted exploitation flicks to come out of the 70s.  The cast does the best with the story they are given.  Some of the scenes are extremely sexy and the cast comes to life but some of the more serious scenes are awkward to watch.  They cast stumbles and have a hard time finding their footing.  The story for this one is just like what we have seen before especially with Jess Franco.  We follow a military group in an unknown South American country who rape, torture, and kill women.  This tosses in a little love triangle and some anti-political angles that I was not expecting.  The story is not that compelling but mixed with the sleaze and nudity delivers a decent good time.  Finally, those of you that want gore definitely went with the wrong movie.  However, if you want a filthy and depraved sleazfest then this one is for you.  Overall, Love Camp is one of the more fun Jess Franco sleazy adventures.  The story is nothing special but the film is still fun as fuck.  Check it out.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cathy's Curse

Director - Eddy Matalon (The Mad Dog, Sweet Killing)
Starring - Alan Scarfe (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tales from the Darkside), Beverly Murray (Friday's Curse, Street Smart), and Randi Allen
Release Date - 1977
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "She has the terrorize"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Horror and exploitation is so vast that I am constantly learning about new films, sub-genres, and movements.  I've been obsessed with horror since I was in middle school, late 90s, and was a member of several horror forums for many years.  I was an active member of the UHM horror forum for about 10 years before Myspace and Facebook took over.  I'd thought I had seen or heard of it all but that is far from the case.  A few months back my friends over at Severin announced that they would be released the canuxploitation supernatural horror flick Cathy's Curse.  This was the first I had heard of this film and the first time I've ever heard of canuxploitation.  I love horror and I love exploitation so diving into a Canadian horror exploitation was going to be fun.  I reached out to Severin and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way!  Thanks guys!
     The film begins when a man discovers that his wife has left him and took his son with her.  He becomes enraged and go searching for her with his daughter but his anger (and I'm sure a little alcohol) got the best of him and they crash the car presumably killing them both.  We move forward some years and the young boy is now a man with a family of his own.  He has decided to move his family into his father's home after his wife suffers from a mental breakdown.  It takes some time for his wife to adjust to the new surroundings but his daughter Cathy warms up to the house immediately.  However, the quiet home is not what it once was.  Something benevolent is living in the home and possesses Cathy and starts killing everyone close to her.
     Cathy's Curse hooked me with the artwork for the bluray.  I love when a film has simple artwork but uses colors that pop and stand out.  The mostly black artwork with Cathy's face and glowing green eyes is very effective and I fucking love it.  Would love to have this on a shirt...  Anyway, the artwork makes the viewer suspect that the film is dark and ominous but it really isn't.  The acting in this one is great.  Alan Scarfe is a face I am very familiar with but I rarely see in the driver's seat.  He is a very talented actors that seemingly consisted of playing secondary characters.  Beverly Murray was a pleasure to watch as well.  By the middle of the film the viewer feels for her character.  She is emotionally and mentally unstable resulting in her losing grip with reality.  Anyone with children will feel her frustration.  Now, with all that being said, I was never sold on Randi Allen.  I try to ignore the acting of children in films but she clearly showed her inexperience in this one.  Some of the scenes were better than others but overall I could see someone else making this character even better. The story for this one is not that original.  There has been other horror films centered around children possessed or acting evil against their will.  One quickly thinks of The Exorcist which was released in 1973 and The Omen which was released just one year before this one in 1976.  Evil kids are fucking terrifying but this film is not chilling.  The movie does not feel dark and Cathy comes across as nothing more than a little brat that never had her ass busted like I did growing up.  The story is still fun and full of moments that are highly entertaining but does not really feel like a horror tale until the last act.  Finally, the film does have some blood and with decent practical effects but the kills are not that entertaining.  Most of off screen with very little blood shown.  Some of the practical effects we see are solid while others were lacking.  Overall, Cathy's Curse is not a classic but was still worth a watch.  I enjoyed it for what it is and would recommend it to anyway wanting something different to see.  I will issue a warning that it is far from perfect but that only adds to the charm.  Check it out.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wild Beasts

Director - Franco Prosperi (Goodbye Uncle Tom, Mondo Candido)
Starring - Lorraine De Selle (House on the Edge of the Park, Cannibal Ferox), John Aldrich, and Ugo Bologna (Nightmare City, Zombie)
Release Date - 1984
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The wild beasts will get you"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     A few days ago I checked out the 1981 supernatural horror flick The Survivor that was recently released on blu by Severin.  I heard about the film back in high school but I was not really that interested in checking in out.  After some time and seeing the blu artwork by Severin I was quick to change my mind.  Sadly, the film fell very short.  It was worth a watch but holds no replay value.  I moved on to The Belko Exerpiment and fucking loved it.  As I looked for something to follow it up with I decided to give another Severin film a shot.  This time I tossed in the 1984 Italian horror film Wild Beasts.  The film seemed fitting considering I'm leaving tomorrow with my family to take our kids to the zoo.  I want to once again thank Severin for sending this one my way.  I truly enjoyed it.

     The film follows a group of employees working for a zoo nestled in a giant city.  However, their water source becomes contaminated with PCP which makes them all turn on their handlers and escape.  The zoo keepers and animal handlers must work together with the city officials to round up the escaped animals before the death toll rises.

     I've seen Italian zombies, cannibals, giallos, and slashers but I don't think I've ever laid eyes on an Italian killer animal flick before.  I actually enjoyed the film.  Sure, it had its fair share of problems but the overall film was very damn enjoyable.  I've glad I took the time to check it out.  The acting for this one is not the best I've seen.  In fact, there was times where the acting was pretty bad.  I was impressed by John Aldrich who does a solid job as the film's lead with no prior acting experience.  Sadly, that is about as far as I can give praise for the film's acting.  The story for this one is very simple but unique.  The animals in captivity becoming enraged by ingesting PCP and attacking an urban population is pretty fucking horrifying if you think about it.  What is even more impressive is how the film was able to work with all these dangerous animals and not get killed.  A lot of work and effort went into pulling it off.  The story does have a few hiccups here and there but leaves very little down time for the viewer.  Finally, the film has some on screen kills.  Due to the nature of working with dangerous animals some of the on screen kills are done using camera tricks where we look away.  The actually act is pretty boring.  We see the animal hug the actor and some fake blood and splattered on them before cutting away only to return and see the final product.  We do see some solid practical effects after the fact but the kills are still very boring.  Overall, Wild Beasts is a pretty entertaining Italian horror film that largely goes unnoticed.  Personally, I enjoyed it and recommend it to others with confidence.  Check it out.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Belko Experiment

Director - Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, Rogue)
Starring - John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane, Jonah Hex), Tony Goldwyn (The Last House on the Left, Dexter), and Adria Arjona (Narcos, True Detective)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Choose your weapon"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     James Gunn may be a new face to some of you with his recent blockbusters Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 but he has been in the film business for some time now.  He started out his film career as a writer where he wrote for Troma and even starred in one of the few romantic comedies in Troma's catalogue alongside his ex-wife Jenna Fischer who also directed it.  He would direct a few small segments for Troma before moving on to his underrated masterpiece Slither.  From there he would write and direct his short lived web-series PG Porn and the criminally underrated vigilante/super hero comedy Super.  Now that Guardians has exploded all over the universe James' is a very popular man.  His recent screenplay partnered him with Wolf Creek director Greg McLean for The Belko Experiment.  This is one I was really looking forward to seeing but work won out and I was unable to see it in theaters.  When a blu was announced I had to jump on.  The film was worth the wait!
     The film follows a group of corporate employees working in Colombia.  One day things take a drastic change when all the locals are forced to go home leaving mostly American employees there.  As the day starts out normal the employees get into their normal routine when an unknown person comes across the intercom system telling them that they need to kill a certain amount of employees within a certain amount of time.  If they fail to do so then double that amount will die. Once they fail to meet their kill count the people behind the sick game start detonating explosives that are implanted into every employee's head.  They then tell the survivors that they have so long to kill as many people as possible.  The one with the highest kill count will survive.  One of them is able to get his hands on some of the explosives from the heads of those slain.  When he wins he is taken to a man behind the game and learns that it is a social experiment and it was actually conducted in several other locations.  Disgusted by what he had seen, he plants explosives on them and makes his escape as another announcer, this time not yet revealed, announces the next phase in the experiment.
     When I first saw the trailer for The Belko Experiment I knew it was a movie I had to see.  Immediately I started comparing it to Battle Royale, The Condemned, Tag, and even The Hunger Games to an extent.  All, except Hunger Games, are movies I really enjoy especially Battle Royale.   Battle Royale has been one of my favorite films for years.  The two films do have a lot in common but there was some differences.  The acting in this one is great.  John Gallagher Jr. is a strong lead.  I enjoyed his performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane but felt he was underutilized or not taken advantage of.  Tony Goldwyn and John C. McGinley was great as well.  Both actors were fucking intense.  They started out calm and collected before becoming unhinged and fucking insane to watch.  The supporting cast is just as effective at bringing this story to life.  They don't overreact and make their expressions feel genuine.  The story for this one does share several similarities with Battle Royale ranging from a group of people forced to fight and if they did not an explosive placed on them would detonate.  I really liked the fact that it was placed in a corporate environment where it is already cut-throat.  I've worked retail for a corporate chain of cell phone providers for almost a decade now and this film is pure satire.  It has some subtle humor tossed in that does come at the perfect time.  The film has a slow build but once the shit hits the fan you are glued to the screen.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills.  Some are rather unique and not expected while others, mostly the gun kills, are easily forgettable.  The effects for these are top notch.  They use mostly practical effects with just a little visual effects to make the blood pop.  Overall, The Belko Experiment was fantastic and one of my favorites of the year so far.  It gives horror fans a lot of the things they want in a big budget film that most other films are lacking.  If you are in the mood for something bloody, violent, with a sense of humor and style then look no further.  Check it out.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Survivor

Director - David Hemmings (Werewolf, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color)
Starring - Robert Powell (Frankenstein, Tommy), Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Joseph Cotten (Screamers, The Abominable Dr. Phibes)
Release Date - 1981
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Tortured with guilt...why did he survive an impossible crash?"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I first found myself becoming obsessed with horror when I was in middle school which was roughly around the time that Raimi released Spider-Man.  I was picking up a copy of Spider-Man on DVD at Wal-Mart when two men approached me and told me to check out two movies from the same director.  They pointed at Evil Dead and Bruce Campbell vs. the Army of Darkness.  I was familiar with Evil Dead by that point but the DVD of Bruce Campbell vs. the Army of Darkness was a new one to me.  I bought them both and when I got home I learned that the second film was just a special release of Army of Darkness.  Either way, I was a fan of both films and was glad I grabbed them.  A few years later, I was a sophomore in high school, and I met another horror minded teen and we became friends.  We became friends after he noticed my Evil Dead sticker on my folder.  After we started talking horror he mentioned he had just ordered a copy of The Survivor on VHS.  He showed me the VHS cover and I was not impressed.  That was 12 years ago now and Severin released the film on blu.  They did not use the artwork I saw then but something very different and way more impressive.  This was the first time I actually wanted to see the film after hearing about it.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows pilot Keller (Powell) who is the only survivor of a plan crash where over 300 people were killed.  While the crash is looked into he begins to question why he is alive and how he is able to survive an inferno that killed 300 others.  The deeper he looks into the mystery the more he learns that his surviving may be connected to the supernatural.

     I wasn't expecting a splatter flick when I tossed in The Survivor.  I was, however, looking forward to a moody horror film with chocking atmosphere and some tension.  Sadly, the film didn't really have that.  The story is very fun but if you have seen Carnival of Souls you can see the ending coming a mile away.  The acting for this one is pretty damn good.  I really enjoyed seeing Jenny Agutter in a genre role.  Most of you may remember who from her performance in the classic John Landis horror film An American Werewolf in London.  She was great in that film and, to be honest, she is gorgeous.  She one again delivers a great performance in The Survivor.  Robert Powell is a very strong lead and quickly sets out to show why he was cast in his role.  I really enjoyed his performance and seeing him in this film may inspire me to check out his other films.  The story for this one is oddly similar to Carnival of Souls only the car crash has been replaced with the aircraft.  Not much in the way of originality.  The story also suffers from poor pacing.  Some of the scenes drag on for what seems like hours which can easily put the viewer to sleep.  I should know.  Finally, those of you wanting blood and gore will not find it here.  We do get a few charred bodies that look good but that is the extent of the carnage this film boasters.  Overall, The Survivor was a bit of a let down in some regards.  If you have nothing else to watch it can fill that hour and a half mark very well but has no replay value at all.  Collectors will want it but the casual horror fan will not enjoy it.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

All the Colors of the Dark

Director - Sergio Martino (Torso, Blade of the Ripper)
Starring - George Hilton (Macho Killers, My Dear Killer), Edwige Fenech (Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Strip Nude for Your Killer), and Ivan Rassimov (Eaten Alive, Death's Dealer)
Release Date - 1972
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "They cannot be exorcised from the world because their power has grown too strong...their numbers too many"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     How do you follow up Brain Damage?  I wanted to stay in the realm of horror comedies but a recent addition to my collection caught my eye and peaked my interested.  I enjoy Italian horror for the most part but I'm not that fond of the Italian cannibal flicks and giallos are hit or miss with me.  I adore the work of Dario Argento but a few other giallos I've seen over the years really lacked the imagination and beauty.  The movie I recently got that looked fun was All the Colors of the Dark and was sent my way from Shameless Screen Entertainment.  This 1972 flick was directed by Sergio Martino who has fell victim to my reviews before.  Thank you Shameless for sending this one my way.
     The film follows a young woman who is romantically involved with a man but the two have not tied the knot.  Sometime ago they were expecting a child but a car accident robbed them both of the bundle of joy and, in doing so, her sanity.  Since the accident she believes she is being stalked by a knife wielding maniac and tries to find help.  She visits with a doctor but it doesn't seem to help her any until one day she meets another woman that lives in her apartment building.  She recommends visiting a man she knows for help.  She does and it seems to work at first but what she doesn't know is that she is about to become a member of a Satanic cult where the only way out is death.
     Italian horror, and giallos in particular, tend to have a slow buildup before the bringing the story full circle.  The viewer is expected to have patience and to give the film your undivided attention because if you miss just the smallest of details you could clueless later in the film.  All the Colors of the Dark was a fun Italian film with giallo flair but didn't have the complexity.  This is an Italian film after my own heart.  The acting in this one is solid.  I really enjoy watching Edwige Fenech.  She is an actress I only recently discovered and instantly fell in love with.  She is naturally beautiful and has the acting chops to back it up.  Her supporting cast is great as well but they don't stand a chance next to her.  The story for this one reminds me a lot of one of my favorite Christopher Lee flick, The Devil Rides Out.  I was not expecting the cult angle and it played out very well.  This is very effective storytelling and writing.  The story is a little slow but the movie continuously tosses in things to hold the viewer's attention.  Finally, those of you looking for the bloodsplatter of an Italian horror film will be a little disappointed.  The film does have a few on screen kills but they are very weak with very little entertaining value.  Overall, All the Colors of the Dark is a very effective horror thriller set against the backdrop of the Satanic cult scare of the late 60s and early 70s.  The film makes very good use of time and does a great job building tension.  I recommend this well shot horror film.