Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Other Hell (Severin)

By Mrparka 
                Sometimes an exploitation film surpasses its intent; either due to its cultural relevancy, social message, its sheer success at entertainment, or connectivity to the audience. This is not the case with “The Other Hell”. “The Other Hell” is pure exploitation without much to offer except sleaze, cheese, and absurdity. Severin films happily brings this unbashful, ballsy exploitation film to remastered blu-ray and DVD.
                Nuns at a convent begin to die in blasphemous and extreme ways; these tragic circumstances eventually lead to a detective priest trying to figure out what is happening. “The Other Hell” is a bit of a talkative fair, many scenes consist of a couple of robed men or women chatting about the strange occurrences without much else to offer. There is a semi-interesting subplot of two priests who share completely different fundamental values when it comes to demonic possession; these conversations are probably the most profound. When these scenes aren’t hogging the screen, it is business as usual; exploding glass, unexplained wind, creepy cats, and some scenes trying to be so utterly blasphemous that one can’t help but shake their head and smirk at the audacity. The scene guiltiest of this in particular is when a rotted head is found in the altar box, the most sacred of places! “The Other Hell” follows strange rules to set up scenes, for example our groundskeeper of the convent, Franco Garofalo (Hell of the Living Dead), has his very own kennel on the premise of the church. This is of course done so he can be destroyed by what he loves, vicious dogs. With scenes like this, the foreshadowing becomes fairly obvious but nothing seems to happen with purpose, most scenes appear to be shoe-horned in.  So when a few non-flesh eating zombies pop up out of their upright coffins and begin screaming, it’s not as shocking as the film thinks it is. The dubbing is fairly poor, although some of the performances are still solid, including Franca Stoppi, who plays the mother superior of the convent. She is stern, yet creepy, and over the top crazy when she needs to be. The film takes freely from “The Exorcist” and “Carrie”, but manages to have a creative muscle to flex here and there, including the hanging disfigured mannequins which resemble a secretive character and are the best piece of foreshadow in the film.
                The score is by Goblin mostly from the film “Beyond the Darkness” where they borrowed Franca Stoppi from as well; it works with the film and is almost immediately recognized by horror fans. The score and Stoppi aren’t the only things borrowed, “The Other Hell” was actually being filmed at the same time as “The True Story of the Nun of Monza” which also stars Franca Stoppi and Franco Garofalo. Some of the same sets appear in the both films. Bruno Mattei is credited as the director on both films, but it seems that Claudio Fragasso actually directed most of “The Other Hell”, according to the commentary. Both of these directors have sort of a schlock reputation which is held up here. The gore isn’t as plentiful as one would think, but the film has its share of Italian style violence.  The camera work feels like it comes from a director who isn’t afraid to try something new. This is greatly appreciated and helps the film while also seeming to help solidify Claudio Fragasso’s claims at being the film’s director, as he was in his mid-twenties at the time of the film’s creation.  All and all “The Other Hell” is worth checking out for fanatics of nunsploitation, exploitation, Italian horror cinema, and/or someone who might want to get a laugh out of it. 
                The Blu-ray features are ported over from the Shriek Show disc including a commentary with Claudio Fragasso (in Italian), a Trailer, and interviews with Franca Stoppi and Bruno Mattei.  The best of these features is the commentary where Fragasso laughs and argues with the moderator of the commentary. The film is an improvement from the old DVD, but the print isn’t in the best of shape and will most likely never look better.
The Other Hell
Label: Severin Films
Color 88 minutes In English Closed Captioned
All Regions Widescreen Anamorphic 1.66:1 Dolby Digital Mono
Production year: 1980 Horror Not Rated
Director: Bruno Mattei
Cast: Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo, Francesca Carmeno, Susan Forget

Bruno Mattei's 'Nunsploitation' Classic Now Uncut & Uncensored In HD For The First Time Ever!

At the peak of his '80s excess, Italian sleaze maestro Bruno Mattei - using the alias 'Stefan Oblowsky' - stunned audiences with this Nunsploitation shocker about a series of brutal murders in a depraved convent. And while his cinematic legacy may remain controversial, Mattei here delivers a surprisingly stylized yet undeniably blasphemous orgy of stabbings, stigmata, Satanism, sexual violence and graphic savagery that ranks among his very best. Franca Stoppi (THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA), Carlo De Mejo (WOMEN'S PRISON MASSACRE) and Franco Garofalo (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD) star in this filthy nugget (Mondo Digital) - written by the notorious Claudio Fragasso (RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR, TROLL 2) and featuring a score 'borrowed' from Goblin - newly transferred from a 35mm print discovered behind a false wall in a Bologna nunnery!

Special Features:

Audio Commentary With Co-Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso Moderated By Freak-O-Rama's Federico Caddeo
Sister Franca: Interview With Actress Franca Stoppi
To Hell And Back: Archive Interviews With Director Bruno Mattei and Actor Carlo De Mejo
Review Quotes:

GENUINELY UNHOLY... Just watching it, you feel as though you're damned to eternal Hellfire.
-Anticristo: The Bible of Nasty Nun Sinema and Culture



Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Crooked Man

Director - Jesse Holland (YellowBrickRoad, We Go On)
Starring  - Angelique Rivera (American Crime, Supernatural, Cameron Jebo (Power Rangers Megaforce, Killer Coach), and Michael Jai White (Spawn, Black Dynamite)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "No soul is safe"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Back in the summer of 2016 the sequel to The Conjuring hot theaters and became another success.  The film offered up several memorable moments but lost traction with me when it introduced the Crooked Man character.  The film lost all validity it had with me when I saw that scene.  I thought that Asylum would eventually give it the mockbuster treatment but I was way off.  The character, which has routes in nursery rhymes, would go on to be the basis for a film from director Jess Holland and starring Michael Jai White.  I received this film not long ago to review but I was on the fence about watching it.  Wish I would have skipped it.
     The film begins with a group of 12 year old girls having a slumber party when they decide to try something they saw on the internet.  The say the Crooked Man rhyme and he appears killing one of the girls while another holds a knife to protect herself.  She goes away for murder and appears 6 years later with the whole town shunning her but when the murders start up again she is forced to reconcile with her old friends to save their lives.
     I went into The Crooked Man with an open mind.  I grew up with Spawn and Black Dynamite got me through college.  White has taken some pretty fun roles over the years so I had some hope that this one would give him another fun and unique role.  Sadly, it didn't and he was very underutilized.  He character was very flat, generic, and easily forgettable.  Sadly, the entire cast delivers mediocre performances with very little attempt at creating a character other than a stereotypical day time soap.  The story for this one is one we have seen so many times especially after the release of The Candy Man.  There is several movies following urban legends and creepy pastas where someone does what they were told to do to bring about a benevolent spirit that kills people.  films like Urban Legend, Bloody Mary, and most recently Smiley all use this story.  Frankly, these films do it much better than this one.  Finally, The film has several kills but CGI ruins every single one.  The kills fit the whole Crooked Man theme and could have been fun but the CGI and cheesiness of the film completely ruins any enjoyment.  Overall, The Crooked Man is a huge waste of time.  The cast is just in it for a paycheck and the story lacks originality.  Skip it.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dark Waters (Severin)

By Mrparka
                Severin Films restores “Dark Waters”, the under-appreciated film by Mariano Baino.  “Dark Waters” opens with a church being decimated by a tidal wave.  The wave’s catalyst is a strange amulet that is shattered shortly after. Twenty years later, a woman from London is drawn to the convent to dwell into her mysterious past and meet with a friend.  During her journey she meets a myriad of strange individuals that play as herrings. When she finally arrives her friend appears to be missing.   Now stranded, with little hope at making it back to the mainland, she is forced to live with the secretive nuns who reside at the convent.  Quickly she begins to dig into her past which leads her to the mysterious amulet and soon reveals some troubling information about her family, the nuns, and the entire island.
                “Dark Waters” was released in 1993. It came late in the Italian film world but shares the high concept and imagination of some of the last gems from that era, such as the body of work from Italian director, Michele Sovia, and the film oddity “Spider’s Labyrinth” made in 1988. “Dark Waters” has shared similarities to these previously mentioned films, but also is its own beast. The film's tense dread sets it apart from a lot of its peers; everything seems to be crumbling in on our lead, including the church itself. This impending doom eventually comes to a screeching halt in the way of an insane reveal.  Nearly every scene in “Dark Waters” looks like a painting of beauty and misery, creating a vastly demented world; a world where the blind are the only ones who can truly see. These blind souls express these visions of hell through art, depicting a terrifying future with brush strokes on cave walls or through crochet. The constant dripping and dampness of the film makes the water feel like a character presence. Being set on an island, there is no escape from it; indeed, the most memorable death in the film involves water. A victim is stabbed violently over running water, the blood then mixes in and trails down the catacomb like walls.  Filmed in Ukraine on some wonderfully designed sets, the bleak location bleeds into the film with the crew’s experiences and hardships on set translating into it.  Our character is longing to escape such a dreaded place; it’s possible it mimics her desire to flee the actual location. The crew's mixture of Italian, Russian, and British creates a strange and not often seen dynamic, presenting a new flavor of film making, not quite like the other Euro co-productions we have seen in the past.  The film's score is creepy and fits right into the film’s paranoid nature, no one can be trusted and not everything is as it seems.  “Dark Waters” is a visual film and shows more than it tells, providing foreshadow throughout the entirety of the film. “Dark Waters” also manages to make the visual moments into memorable scenes; one that stands out in particular is where our lead munches on a dead fish uncontrollably surrounded by a shore of dead aquatic life.  From beginning to end “Dark Waters” deliverers on everything it should; a great location, an atmospheric score, cool special effects, a smart script, and a feeling of dread. It does all this while being mesmerizing to the eyes and leaving a lasting impression. This lasting impression is most powerful in its final frames as the bodies of nuns lay sprawled out on the rocky shore, mimicking the fish earlier.
                “Dark Waters” from Severin Films has been remastered and it looks and sounds great. The special features on the release are abundant.  Many of the features are ported over from the old 2 Disc NoShame release; the director’s shorts (all of which are worth watching, especially “Caruncula”), deleted scenes, a making of, and a commentary.  The old features give a look into what it was like filming in the Ukraine and having such a stressful time. The new features include Let There Be Water Featurette, Controlling the Uncontrollable Featurette, and Deep into the Dark Waters Featurette. These features give a nice look into some of the inspiration from the director. The entire disc is a treasure from film to making of. Thanks to Severin we have this atmospheric dread filled gem in HD.

Dark Waters
Label: Severin Films
Color 89 minutes In English Closed Captioned
All Regions Widescreen 1.85:1 Dolby Digital Mono
Production year: 1994 Horror Not Rated
Director: Mariano Baino
Cast: Louise Salter, Venera Simmons, Mariya Kapnist

It has been acclaimed as visually amazing (Videoscope), deeply disturbing (BBC Radio One), a must see for serious horror buffs (Film Review), and compared to the works of Bergman, Bava and Argento. Now experience the modern Nunsploitation masterpiece from co-writer/director Mariano Baino as you've never seen or heard it before: When a young Englishwoman attempts to discover her mysterious connection to a remote island convent, she will unlock an unholy communion of torment, blasphemy and graphic demonic depravity. Louise Salter (INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE) stars in this stunning and horrifying debut (Digitally Obsessed) - filmed on location along the grim Ukraine coast - now transferred in HD from the original 35mm negative and featuring over 4 hours of startling Special Features.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary With Writer / Director Mariano Baino
Lovecraft Made Me Do It Featurette
Let There Be Water Featurette
Controlling the Uncontrollable Featurette
Deep Into the Dark Waters Featurette
Director Intro
Deleted Scenes
Silent Blooper reel With Audio Commentary by Director Mariano Baino
Short Films Of Mariano Baino: Dream Car, Caruncula, Never Ever After
Making of Never Ever After
Review Quotes:


-Filmmaker Magazine

A SINGULAR EXPERIENCE... Baino is a master of light and shadow.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Honky Holocaust

Director - Paul McAlarney (Ungovernable Force, Gay Jesus)
Starring - Maria Natapov (The Resurrection of Victoria Wheeler, Silence), LeNecia Edmonds (In the Bedroom, Lungs), and Lucas Fleming (Enough to be Dangerous, Moonsmilers)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "If anyone needs to be wiped out, its US!"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Troma is a company I would follow to my death.  I fucking love Troma and will buy anything they release regardless of what it is.  Most of the time I find myself submerged in indie horror goodness but there has been a few occasions where I do get burned.  These are few and far in between.  Sometime ago I received the press release for the film Honky Holocaust and its addition to the Troma Now streaming platform.  An exploitation film centered around Charles Manson has my name written all over it.  I spoke with the Troma table at Cinema Wasteland just a few weeks after that and they informed me of the future blu release of the film.  I waited patiently for the release and one day it showed up in my mailbox.  My friends over at CAV sent me a review copy.  Thank you guys for hooking Horror Society up!
     The film begins with Charles Manson and his followers and Manson convincing them to commit those heinous murders.  Fearing a race war, Manson takes his family and followers to the woods where they build an underground bunker to wait out the devastation.  Sometime after entering their makeshift bunker Manson falls ill and dies but not before fathering a daughter.  When she grows up the family decides to leave the bunker and see the world after the white people has reclaimed.  However, what they find is a world where the white man is a second class citizen while the black man reigns supreme.
     I was very fucking excited to check out Honky Holocaust.  It looked like someone was fans of Dire Wit and Troma so they decided to make their own thing.  I can get behind that but the film was actually more than that which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  The acting in this one is surprisingly very well done.  Some of the scenes are inconsistent or out of place but the overall film is very well performed.  Maria Natapov is great as the daughter of Charles Manson.  She is the polar opposite of what one would expect the lineage of Charles Manson to act like which is what really carries the story.  She is very innocent and sincere which travels miles with the viewer.  She is very good and drawing emotions from the viewer.  Her supporting cast is just as great.  They make their character stand out and help move the story along at a tremendous pace.  The story for this one starts out promising but does hit a wall around the midway point.  The opening segment with Manson and his family sets a tone that isn't really touched upon once the film hits full swing.  We get a man in a cheaply put together fake beard as he prances around the woods portraying the stereotypical hippy but the film does not follow that outlandish set up.  Once the family emerges from the bunker we get a more serious flick set in a topsy turvy world where the social groups have switched sides and the white people finally see the injustices that the minorities have gone through for centuries.  This is a strong message that appears after the goofy beginning.  It seems out of place as if two stories were put together to create one full script.  Consistency is not there.  Finally, the film has plenty of blood and gore.  The film showcases several on screen kill scenes that match the tone of the film.  The effects are not the best but the film is able to make them work in the film's favor to add a few more chuckles in here and there.  Overall, Honky Holocaust is the finest bloodbath in exploitation history.  The story could use a lot of work but there is fun to be had.  Check it out.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Necro Files 3000

Director - Matt Jaissle (Revolution 666, The Necro Files)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Just when you thought it was safe to violate the dead"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
      I couldn't imagine being an indie horror filmmaker in the 90s.  Now people have the convenience of sharing their films in horror groups on social media and the dozens of horror dedicated sites but in the 90s all you had was yourself and anyone willing to buy it at cons, yard sales, and local video stores.  Sure, there was horror forums but in the 90s they were very basic and mostly dedicated to pop horror or faux snuff flicks.  Most of these no budget fright flicks have now fell into obscurity or found new releases with several indie distribution companies like Videonomicon.  Sometime ago I came across a post in a horror forum for the indie production company VidEvil Video.  Owner and director Matt Jaissle was sharing awareness of his then new film Revolution 666.  I spoke with him about the film and his label and he was kind enough to send a review copy my way along with a copy of his 1997 release The Necro Files.  This was completely new to me which really excited me.  I watched and really enjoyed it and soon Jaissle announced a sequel and was kind enough to send it my way as well.  Thank you Matt.
     The film picks up 20 years after the events in The Necro Files.  We follow a reporter who suspects that the killer from the murders in 1997 has made his return.  He tries to enlist a professor who studies the occult to help him but the professor refuses.  It's not until the journalist witnesses the murder of a cam model that he is able to convince the reluctant professor into helping him stop the killer before he takes over the world.
     I'm shocked by what Matt Jaissle and company did with Necro Files 3000.  The first Necro Files film is a trashy fun no budget production that has plenty of gore and what the fuck moments.  I love how ballsy the film is and how much it looks like a lost S.O.V. horror film from the late 80s and early 90s.  The fact that he took such a different approach really shocks me and I commend him for thinking outside the box.  The voice acting in this one is not the best but for an indie production it is pretty damn good.  I have seen some pretty entertaining indie animated/puppet films where the cast is speaking in monotone or didn't match the speed of the film.  This makes some important scenes lose impact when the viewer is trying to play catch up with the movement because the audio is out of sync by just a second.  NF 3000 did not have that problem but they did have a difficult time bringing emotion to the characters through their dialogue.  This doesn't make the film difficult to watch but it does make some of the scenes dry.  The story for this one is an absurd follow up to a story that is textbook example of what it meant to be an S.O.V. horror flick in the 90s.  The cult following the serial killer is almost clich├ęd in terms of S.O.V. horror but Jaissle completely flipped the script and tossed in many more horror elements along with modern trends.  The story mixes up the occult, zombies, slashers, and jungle cannibal films while tossing in modern aspects such as cam girls and so on to make this film feel totally different.  With all that being said, the film should be viewed as a comedy.  The humor is mostly low brow and is overlooked by the dialogue delivery.  The film was not meant to be taken seriously so the viewer should know this before hand.  Finally, the film has plenty of blood and gore.  In fact, it has more than I was expecting considering the style of film.  The effects are funny and cleverly done which added even more enjoyment to the overall film.  Overall, Necro Files 3000 is a fun sequel that gives the viewer's something they were not expecting.  I thoroughly enjoy a film that catches the viewer off guard and NF 3000 did just that.  Check it out.  If you don't laugh you may need to seek counseling. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Science Crazed

Director - Ron Switzer
Starring - Cameron Scholes, Tony Della Ventura, and Robin Hartsell
Release Date - 1991
Genre - Sci-fi/Horror
Tagline - "something is very wrong in research and development"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Many years ago, 20 years to be exact, I set out to collect movies.  A friend of mine had purchased a DVD player and upgraded a few of his tapes to DVD.  He was a close friend and gave me some of his tapes after he made the upgrade.  We were kids and this gesture struck me hard when he did.  I really appreciated the gesture and refused to get rid of them.  I would still have them to this day if someone hadn't stole them from me.  This one particular incident resulted in me collecting movies and since then I have never looked back.  Once I had some to call my own I wanted them all.  Now, my main goal is to collect every horror movie released.  I know it will never happen because there are thousands of films made that were never released or received a proper release.  One such film is Science Crazed.  This Canadian sci-fi/horror mash up was recently released on DVD for the first time by my friends over at Videonomicon who was kind enough to hook me up with a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows a scientist who is forcefully removed from a scientific institute after he is caught conducting unethical experiments.  He is on the verge of an important breakthrough so he rushes to his lab where he inject an unsuspecting woman with his special with kills her after she gives birth to a man sized monster.  Now the beast is killing everyone it comes in contact with.

     Science Crazed was one of those releases I heard about through several horror friends who picked up the Videonomicon release.  The film was cheap, horrible, and right up my alley. Sadly, it wasn't put together that well and did not sit well with me.  The acting in this one if horrible.  Not Ogroff or Bloodbath in the House of Knives bad but bad none-the-less.  The cast shows that they have no direction or idea where they are going with their dialogue.  I don't no if they had a script that they loosely followed or what but the acting is laughable.  The story for this one is almost wore out by this point.  There had been countless mad scientist flicks that pushed experiments too far resulting in a horrible creature being born.  This goes all the way to the fiction written by Mary Shelley.  What makes this story stand out from the others is...nothing.  Not a damn thing.  The film does nothing to try and differentiate itself from the hundreds of clones.  The film moves painfully slow and is very repetitive.  Once it gets in the groove it does nothing to break the cycle which gets old very, very quickly.  Finally, this film has plenty of blood.   The effects are very minimal and basic so the kills are not that impressive at all.  In fact, they are pretty lame and quickly forgettable.  Overall, Science Crazed is a mad scientist gone too far film done wrong.  Fans of obscure horror and no budget schlock will love it but those of you that was a well rounded film will be very disappointed.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

She Kills

She Gets Revenge the Only Way She Knows How... With Her STD Satan Infected Vagina!

Sadie's life is destroyed when a vicious gang called 'The Touchers' targets her for their sadistic fantasies after witnessing her sexy but innocent naked frolicking in a nearby field. On her wedding night they attack her and her husband Edward, brutalizing both of them. But during the attack the virgin bride discovers a dangerous secret about her body - she is cursed with the legendary 'Fire Crotch,' a condition where Satan has laid claim to her vagina. After visiting her fortune teller friend Casparella, a space exorcism is attempted on her meat flaps, but it only ends up unlocking secret hidden powers inside her. Her hatchet wound becomes lethal, her most deadly weapon in her thirst for revenge against The Touchers and her fight against lustful men everywhere! A comedy horror homage to Grindhouse and Drive-In movies of the 70's!

Trailer reel
Director Ron Bonk commentary
Director and lead actress Jennie Russo commentary
Director and producer Jonathan Straiton commentary
Director and composer Emmett Van Slyke comentary
Closed captioning

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Director - N. G. Mount (Dinosaur from the Deep, Brooklyn Cop)
Starring - Robert Alaux (Le Clown Necrophile), Francoise Deniel (Sanguine), and Pierre Pattin (Sidewalks of Bangkok)
Release Date - 1983
Genre - Horror
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     A few years back, possibly around 2013, an S.O.V. inspired slasher was released.  The filmmaker went above and beyond to make the film look authentic and for the most part he succeeded.  In fact, the film looked so much like an S.O.V. film rediscovered and transferred to DVD that it tricked a reviewer (not me) into believing that the film was actually a lost film. The review has since been removed.  Since I was shown that review I have been terrified that I will be tricked by an indie director into believing that he had found a lost S.O.V. flick.  Case in point, Ogroff aka Mad Mutilator.  I got the movie from my new friends over at Videonomicon to review.  A previously unreleased 80s horror film is a must see for me so I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Once I got the film I started looking for VHS art and other info before I checked it out and was shocked by how I could only find images for the Videonomicon releases.  Was this an authentic 80s horror flick or was I tricked?  Thanks Videonomicon for hooking me up!
     The film follows a maniac in a mask as he kills any and everyone that he crosses paths with.  We witness several innocent people who comes in contact with the masked man and find themselves on the business end of his ax.  Also, he dry humps his ax in his spare time.

     I'll be completely honest and say that I had very low expectations for this film.  If a movie was even halfway decent then someone would have picked it up and released it before now.  With that thought lingering in my mind like a beefy burrito fart I went into this film ready to be disappointed but was shocked by how much fun I actually had.  Don't get me wrong, the movie is horrible but it was still extremely enjoyable.  The acting in this one is atrocious.  The cast has no experience, shows no dedication to character, and makes no attempt at acting.  They get in front of the camera and act a fool until they are brutally murder.  This movie has some of the worst acting I have ever seen and I loved every minute of it.  It fit the movie perfectly.  The story for this one is non-existent.  We follow a masked buffoon as he kills people before stroking his ax.  Literally nothing to it and definitely not enough to make a movie that is over an hour long but by god they did and you can't stop watching.  Finally, the film is full of kills that use some of the cheapest effects I have ever seen.  They looked horrendous but, once again, it fit the movie perfectly and added even more enjoyment to the overall appearance.  Overall, Ogroff is a fucking train wreck of a film but you can't stop watching.  This is one of those films that is so bad it's good and I can't recommend it enough.  Check it out.