Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Fags in the Fast Lane




Director - Josh Collins (The Perv Parlor)
Starring - Chris Asimos (Danger 5, The Worst Alien in the World), Matt Jones (Night Shift, Neighbors), and Sasha Cuha (M is for Melt, Deadline)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Comedy/Adventure
Tagline - "A packed jockstrap of thriller rock n roll adventure"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):


     Writing for Horror Society has been a dream for me.  I've always been a movie minded person and I can't remember a time in my life where movies wasn't a huge part of it.  It opened the door to so many more films that I would have never heard of before hand.  As much as I love horror I often find myself drifting deep into exploitation cinema.  I love it all; hixploitation, bruceploitation, sexploitation, and Blaxploitation.  As much as I love exploitation I sometimes cross paths with a sub-genre I had never experienced before.  Sometime ago I was sent the Australian queersploitation flick Fags in the Fast Lane.   I couldn't wait to check it out and The Cult of Monster was kind enough to send me a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows The Cock Slinger Beaux (Asimos) and his partner Lump (Jones) to track down a group of ruthless burlesque dancers who attacked Beaux's mother and her geriatric whores.  Along the way he enlists the help of cross dresser Salome (Cuha) and a kidnapped homophobe but things go south for the gang when they learn that the leader of the burlesque gang has stolen the powerful golden cock and now plans on using it's power for evil.  Now The Cock Slinger and his group but revenge his mother and stop her from using the ultimate power against the world.
     I love how exploitation films go against society.  Most exploitation films are considered counter culture so it makes sense that in 2018 I would be watching an exploitation film centered around gay and trans characters.  I really enjoyed this one.  In fact, I liked it so much I watched it three times in just as many days.  The acting in this one is great.  The characters are bold, colorful, and in some cases very flamboyant and the cast does a fantastic job bringing them to life.  Every character was perfectly casted and they bring a ton of high energy to their performances creating several unforgettable scenes.  The story for this one is John Waters meets the wacky go-go films of yesteryear.  A lot of time and focus went into the characters which is something I really adore and the story is equally as fun.  Some of the scenes do nothing for the story but they are still fun.  Finally, the film does have some blood and minor gore.  The gags we get are funny and fit the film very well.  The effects are on a budget but they do the best with what they have and they work.  Overall, Fags in the Fast Lane is the most fun I've had with an exploitation film all year.  The humor is spot on, the story is amazing, and the cast is damn near perfect.  I cannot recommend this film enough. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dagon



Director - Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond)
Starring - Ezra Godden (Band of Brothers, Masters of Horror), Francisco Rabal (Talk of Angels, Moonfish), and Raquel Merono (Airbag, The Mark)
Release Date - 2001
Genre - Horror
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
      I've seen some amazing adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft's work over the years.  In fact, these adaptations are some of my favorite horror films.  Sadly, not all of his adaptations are fun.  There has been several attempts at his work and they failed miserably because they struggled to understand the concept of the story.  Lovecraft tends to not be straight forward.  The themes in his work are what makes his stories so much fun.  When I was in high school Stuart Gordon tackled Dagon.  I had read the story in middle school and was curious how the man that directed the near perfect Re-Animator would tackle this.  Umbrella Entertainment recently released the film on blu and was kind enough to send it my way with some amazing cover art. 
     The film follows couple who suffer a boating accident near Spain.  They leave two friends behind and travel to land for help and come across an isolated fishing town with unusual inhabitants.  They go different directions.  She goes to look for the police and he goes with a group of fishermen to get their friends but he quickly discovers that this small town is not as it seems and they are linked to his horrible nightmares centered around a mermaid with sharp teeth. 
     Dagon is one of the rare instances where the adaptation is not bad but easily forgettable.  I really enjoy Dagon and I always find myself having fun when I watch it but I tend to forget about it fairly quickly.  The acting in this one is fantastic.  I really enjoy Ezra Godden in this role.  He does an amazing job as the unconventional lead.  He's great and I feel like he was underutilized.  The supporting cast is phenomenal as well.  The characters are well written and attention to detail can be seen with each of them.  Their backstories, mannerisms, and how they handle themselves is all fun.  The story for this one is great but does feel a little repetitive as the film progresses.  I really liked the ancient cult angle and how the townspeople are slowing becoming sea-creatures after breeding with Dagon but the one man being chased through the town for most of the film does feel like lazy writing.  I get that this film is two short stories mashed together but it does drag on at times with these filler scenes added in.  Finally, this isn't a bloody horror flick but the film does showcase some fantastic practical effects.  The aquatic people look fantastic and I love how they were approached.  Sadly, there is some pretty rough looking CGI scattered throughout.  Overall, Dagon is a solid film and perfect for the Halloween season but you will find yourself quickly forgetting it. 
 


Friday, October 12, 2018

Beyond Re-Animator




Director - Brian Yuzna (The Dentist, Faust)
Starring - Jeffrey Combs (The Attic Expeditions, House on Haunted Hill), Jason Barry (Sons of Anarchy, F.A.R.T. the Movie), and Elsa Pataky (Giallo, Snakes on a Plane)
Release Date - 2003
Tagline - "Inject life into the dead"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     I'm one of the few horror fans that are always open minded about sequels, prequels, and remakes.  When I hear about a film I already like is getting the treatment I genuinely get excited.  I like how most take a story I already know and enjoy and take it in a new direction.  Sadly, a good portion of the time these films fall flat or fail to gain any steam.  One of my favorite horror films is Re-Animator and the sequel Bride of Re-Animator.  Both are outstanding in their own right and essential for any horror fan.  In 2003 director and producer Brian Yuzna turned the story of Herbert West into a trilogy with Beyond Re-Animator.  If memory serves, this film premiered on the Sy-Fy channel and then went on into obscurity until recently when Umbrella Entertainment released it on bluray with Bride of Re-Animator
     The film picks up several years after the events of the second film.  The dead broke free from the local morgue and killed several people.  Dan Cain rolled evidence on West putting him behind bars.  Before West was arrested he was found near the scene of the murder when a young woman was murdered by one of his experiments while her younger brother watched.  Now he has grown up and is a doctor who gets a job at the prison where West is held so he can work with West on his special serum. 
     I didn't know what to expect when I first watched Beyond Re-Animator.  I knew it wouldn't be the same as the first two films considering so much time had passes and Bruce Abbott was no longer part of the equation.  The movie wasn't bad but it just wasn't on the same level as the previous two installments.  It left some room for improvement and the story just didn't hold your attention like the other films.  The acting in this one is solid.  Jeffrey Combs once again shows why he was cast as West.  His portrayal of West is fucking phenomenal.  He is emotionless and calculated which reads very well on camera.  The supporting cast is solid as well but these characters are just not as fun as the characters from the previous films.  The story for this one would have worked well if it didn't pick up years after the first two films.  It does move slower than the first two films but it still delivers more of the West saga which is all we can ask for at this point.  Finally, the film still offers some pretty gruesome.  We get some fun death scenes and even more of the fantastic practical effects that we are accustomed to.  There is several segments where we see some very bad CGI effects.  Overall, Beyond Re-Animator may not  be on the same level as the previous films but it still delivers the fun we look for in a Herbert West film.  Check it out. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bride of Re-Animator



Director - Brian Yuzna (Society, The Dentist)
Starring - Jeffrey Combs (Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation, Star Trek: Enterprise), Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator, Interzone), and Claude Earl Jones (Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap)
Release Date - 1989
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "Date. Mate. Re-animate."
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I like remakes and sequels unlike most horror fans I know.  The idea of a story that I enjoy going a step further or reimagined really excites me.  Hell, some of my favorite films just happen to be sequels.  When I was younger I rented the original Re-Animator from Blockbuster and fell in love with it.  It quickly became one of my favorite movies.  It would be a few years before I was able to watch the sequel (thank you Columbia).  When I did I was blown away.  How could the sequel to the damn near perfect Re-Animator be better?  Recently Umbrella Entertainment released the film as a double feature with Beyond Re-Animator.  I was lucky enough to get a review copy in.  Thanks Umbrella for sending this one my way. 
     The film picks up several months after the events of the first film.  Herbert West and Dan Cain has left America for Peru where the country is torn by war giving them plenty of opportunities to try their serum on the recently deceased.  When their camp gets overrun they flee back to the U.S. and Miskatonic.  They continue their work and using parts from the morgue but a investigator starts snooping around West in hopes of uncovering the truth behind the Miskatonic massacre that unfolded earlier.  To make matters worse a doctor studying the bodies left over in evidence from the massacre beings Dr. Hill's back and he has a vendetta against West. 
     Re-Animator is one of those horror films that I can pretty much quote from beginning to end.  I've watched it so many times that I can start watching from any scene and enjoy it just as much as if I had watched the entire film because I have it memorized.  I was blew away by the sequel and how it not only turned up the gore over the first film but took the story in a direction I was not expecting.  The acting in this one is on the same level as the previous film.  Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott are fantastic together and their characters compliment each other so well.  I could have watched an entire saga centered around these two.  The supporting cast is great as well.  There is several other great performances and characters that are just as entertaining as West and Cain.  The story for this one follows what was established in the first film with West enlisting the help of Cain to resurrect the dead but this time they piece together the perfect body and use the agent to bring it to life.  This takes on a gruesome aspect and works very well.  The pacing is great and the laughs move in at the perfect time as to not take away from the tone of the film.  Finally, this film may not have a lot of deaths but there is still some fantastic effects and gruesome scenes.  These scenes use a high amount of imagination and practical effects in the same way the Yuzna directed Society does.  These scenes are highly entertaining and shows just how far practical effects can be pushed.  Overall, Bride of Re-Animator takes what fans love from the first film and amplifies it.  This is a must for any horror fan and fans of H.P Lovecraft a like. 


Monday, October 8, 2018

Child Eater



Director - Erlingur Thoroddsen (Rift, Patient Zero)
Starring - Cait Bliss (Towers of Terror, Consumed), Colin Critchley (Legends of the Hidden Temple, Are You Jokin?), and Jason Martin (The Blacklist, Gotham)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     A great writer with any kind of imagination can turn anything into a horrifying scenario.  Trapped on an elevator, riding a escalator, taking a shower, or even using the kitchen sink have all been the settings for iconic horror scenes that took imagination and solid writing to combine with amazing atmosphere to create something unforgettable.  With that being said, there is certain scenarios that require little imagination or writing skill to be terrifying.  I grew up with an irrational fear of being raped after watching American History X but that has since changed after becoming a father.  Now films centered around children and death often keep me on edge.  Sometime ago I was sent the 2016 horror film Child Eater to check out.  Honestly, I put it off because it made me feel uneasy but I decided to suck it up and check it out!  Thank you MVD for sending this one my way.
     The film follows babysitter Helen who is watching Lucas while his father is out for work.  Lucas is a young boy that loves horror movies and suspects that the old man he sees in the woods has been sneaking into his home.  What he doesn't know is that there is a local legend revolving around a blind man that believed he could eat the eyes of the living it would bring his vision back and the younger the eye the better.  They are about to discover the legend is true and they may not see it coming.
     I went into this expecting to feel uneasy and uncomfortable but what I was given was a drama bases around a pretty decent urban legend that doesn't come to fruition until the later part of the film.  This one had a story that could have worked but failed to put the pieces in the correct order.  The acting in this one works.  The cast works very well together and portray some very grounded characters.  Their emotions are in check and they do a great job at bringing the scenes to life.  The story for this one could be a truly horrifying horror film but it flows more like a dark drama until late into the film.  The film looks amazing and could have went either way but it fails to find it's footing in the horror genre.  Finally, the film does have some solid death scenes and gore.  The effects are great and so is the cinematography.  The story may be lackluster but the kills in this film are not easily forgettable.  Overall, Child Eater could be something truly amazing in indie horror but the fact the story is unable to capture the true terror this story had to offer.  Most of you have heard me use the term Wal-Mart Horror for generic horror flicks and that sums this one up nicely. 



Friday, October 5, 2018

Re-Animator



Director - Stuart Gordon (From Beyond, Dolls)
Starring - Jeffrey Combs (Bride of Re-Animator, House on Haunted Hill), Bruce Abbott (The Last Starfighter, Black Scorpion), and Barbara Crampton (Tales of Halloween, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich)
Release Date - 1985
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders...and another one on a desk"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I went dick first into horror there was a handful of movies I would watch so often that I could quote from beginning to end without missing a line.  Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead II, Return of the Living Dead, and Re-Animator were those films.  I first watched Re-Animator when I was in middle school and went to Tennessee to visit my brother and his wife.  We went to Blockbuster and grabbed a few movies.  I had forgot to bring my favorite movies to watch and hoped they had them there.  They did not but I decided to grab Re-Animator and fell in love with it.  In fact, I loved it so much that my brother tried to buy their copy.  A few days later I was able to track down my own copy on VHS.  Since then I have owned the film on DVD, blu, and most recently a second blu release from Umbrella Entertainment reached my ears.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to hook me up with a copy.  Thanks guys for sending this one my way!
     The film follows med students Dan Cain (Abbott) and Herbert West (Combs) who recently met and are now roommates after West transfers in from Switzerland.  West is an odd man and prefers to keep to himself conducting strange experiments which is why Dan's girlfriend Megan (Crampton) doesn't like him.  When the cat turns up missing Dan investigates and learns of West's secret serum that brings the dead back to life.  They work together on perfecting the serum but Dr. Hill discovers his serum and attempts to claim it as his own forcing West to kill him.  West refuses to pass up the chance to work with a fresh cadaver and reanimates Hill resulting in his consciousness remember West, the serum, and what he did to him.  West is forced to act or lose his work. 
     Re-Animator is one of those films that can be light hearted at times but the tone of the film can change and you are tossed deep into a gruesome horror tale.  I love how the humor is there but the tone changes when the film hits the more bloodier moments that way the gags don't lose impact.  The acting in this one is great.  Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott both solidified their spots as two of my favorite actors after seeing this film and the sequel Bride of Re-Animator.  Their chemistry on camera is unmatched and they balance each other out so well.  The supporting cast is perfect as well.  Barbara Crampton and David Gale are fantastic and their characters are great on screen.  The story for this one is an adaptation of the short story from H.P. Lovecraft for those of you that didn't know.  It unfolds very well on screen and has great pacing.  As each scene starts to slow down we re given something extremely interesting to then grab our attention again.  Finally, this film is pretty gruesome and bloody.  We have several death scenes with plenty of gore.  The effects are top notch and employ several camera tricks, classic gags, and makeup effects to pull them all off.  Overall, Re-Animator is essential viewing for any horror fan.  The cast is phenomenal, the story is great, and the effects are bloody.  This release does incorporate most, if not all, of the same special features already on the U.S. dvd and blu release but the artwork is untouchable.  Check it out!




Blood Child



Director - Jennifer Phillips
Starring - Alyx Melone (Talking Heads, O Negative), Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie (Time Rojak, Mister John), and Biden Hall (The Weather Files, The Boys)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Some bonds can never be broken"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Horror can take on many different forms.  Traditional horror preys on things that we truly fear.  For some this could be a fear of the dark, rape, bugs, animals, automobiles, and even losing an unborn child.  I've seen dozens of horror films centered around losing a child and almost all of them are approached in different manners.  A few years ago I reviewed James Cullen Bressack's Pernicious.  The film followed a group of a women who traveled out of the country and stayed in a home where a murdered child's corpse was dipped in gold and used as a shrine.  I was recently sent a film to review.  The movie, Blood Child, follows a similar story where a woman loses her unborn child in Singapore and uses the occult to raise the infant ghost.  Would this film hold up or would it fail?  You've looked at my rating so you know already!
     The film follows a young couple who has it all going for them.  They are expecting their first child, a lucrative job in Singapore, a live in maid, and great friends but one day they lose it all when she miscarries.  She goes behind her husbands back and visits someone in Singapore who uses the occult to locate the spirit of the lost child so she can secretly raise it.  They return to the states and a few years pass and they discover they are with child again.  This angers the spirit and she turns on her family in a jealous rage.
     I went into Blood Child with an open mind and expecting to see a pretty solid supernatural thriller but what I got was a family drama with supernatural elements sprinkled throughout.  The acting in this one is questionable.  The film has several scenes where the cast seems to have no direction and just goes through their dialogue with no attempt at getting into character.  Other scenes are better than others but the cast just doesn't feel invested in the film or the director was not hands on like he should have been.  The story for this one would work as a supernatural thriller if it focused less on the broken family and more on the supernatural events unfolding around them.  It took way too long to establish the husband is a piece of shit that cheats on his wife and she secretly has a ghost hiding in the house.  With that being said, I did enjoy what the story tries to establish.  As a father I couldn't imagine losing one of my children and would go to great lengths to see them again if it was an option.  Sadly, this angle is not fully explored and only briefly touched upon.  Finally, this is not a bloody or gory one.  There is no real deaths and the scares we get are very underwhelming and lackluster.  I did like the makeup on the ghost but that is the extent of the practical effects.  Overall, Blood Child was a huge disappointment.  The cast didn't feel right and the story could not establish itself as a supernatural drama or thriller.  I cannot recommend this one. 



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Toybox



Director - Tom Nagel (ClownTown, The Last Supper)
Starring - Denise Richards (American Satan, Twisted), Mischa Barton (L.A. Slasher, Cyberstalker), and Jeff Denton (One-Eyed Monster, Dracula's Curse)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Vacations can be deadly"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screeners)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     October is in full swing and most are binge watching horror flicks. Horror is an all year event so when the leaves turn orange and the wind get a cold chill to it I like to toss in Halloween flicks to watch.  Most are horror but some are more about the holiday at hand rather than the horror.  Before I could get to Halloween tradition I had to check out two films sent to me to review.  The first is the unusually brutal supernatural film The Toybox starring Denise Richards and Mischa Barton.  I had heard good things about this one and I couldn't wait to check it out!
     The film follows your average family on vacation.  The grandfather of the group had purchased a used R.V. and planned on going out into the desert to visit a cave with ancient paintings.  Along the way they pick up a brother and sister pair with car troubles but their misfortune is far from over.  The R.V. they are in once belonged to a prolific serial killer and used the vehicle to torture and kill many of his victims. Now his spirit is locked in his "toybox" and this family on vacation will become his next victims in a long line of bloodshed and misery. 
     The Toybox is a weird film that puts all of it's energy into being a brutal and savage paranormal flick but left several issues with the story unresolved. The acting in this one is pretty solid for the most part but there is a few scenes where the cast does not feel fully invested in the film.  The casting is a little awkward for this type of film with Denise Richards taking lead in an indie horror film like this.  She does a decent job but there is so many more qualified actresses that would have done this film justice.  The story for this one struggles to find what type of film it wants to be.  I really enjoyed the serial killer once owned this R.V. angle and I love the brutality that the film offered but a haunted R.V. with evidence hidden behind the drawer that police wouldn't find was a far stretch with the serious tone of the film.  Creep Van is a similar film and it didn't take itself too seriously resulting in a fun watch.  The Toybox had me laughing at times that wasn't meant to be funny because it was just so silly.  A different approach should have been made with this story.  Finally, This film is bloody.  The kills we do get to see are fucking gruesome and use great practical effects.  The film approaches the kill in an old school manner using solid camera angles and practical effects where the viewer can truly enjoy them.  Overall, The Toybox is an unintentional horror comedy with some fantastic kills and a story that just doesn't seem to fit the style of film they are going for.  It is still well worth the watch so check it out. 




Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich



Director(s) - Sonny Laguna (Blood Runs Cold, Withered) and Tommy Wiklund (Animalistic, The Girl Beneath)
Starring - Thomas Lennon (Reno: 911, Hot Tub Time Machine), Michael Pare (Sicilian Vampire, Blubberella), and Jenny Pellicer (Cocaine Godmother, State of Affairs)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "World War III begins on your toy shelf"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
    The horror bug bit me when I was in middle school and I found myself spending more and more time at the horror section at my local video store.  I loved to just stare at the box art and imagine what the movie was about.   This was how I crossed paths with Full Moon.  I remember renting Sideshow and The Seed People and falling in love with them.  Since then I have watched countless releases from them including their flagship franchise Puppet Master.  The series started out with a bang but, sadly, has ended with dud after dud.  When news of a remake broke out I was excited.  I couldn't wait to check it out and the time came when a review copy showed up at my doorstep.  Would it live up to the original film or would it be another dud?
     The film follows recently divorced Edgar (Lennon) who moves in with his parents until the dust settles.  While going through his deceased brother's belongings he comes across a puppet that he suspects is associated with the Toulon murders.  His father knows that he is in a rough spot and tells him to sell the puppet for some money.  He decides to take it to a convention where others with similar puppets linked to the Toulon murder to sell with his new girlfriend and boss from the comic shop.  What they run into is that all these puppets are alive and being controlled by the evil Toulon who is still alive and not that human anymore. 
     Most of you may recall a few months back when I went through the Toulon Trunk Puppet Master box set that included all the Puppet Master films to that point.  I really enjoy the series but the last few installments should have been skipped.  News of a remake excited me to an extent.  I had hopes that it would return to the film's roots and we get more mystical magic and puppet carnage.  What Littlest Reich delivered was chaos amidst a much darker story than the original series.  The acting in this one is up and down.  I really enjoyed seeing Jim Dangle aka Thomas Lennon in a more serious role.  He's known for his Dangle character in Reno:911 but he has some serious acting jobs and this film showcases that.  The supporting cast is solid as well but some of the characters are severely underdeveloped and lacking.  The story for this one is much darker than the original Puppet Master series.  In the original series the puppets are not evil in a sense.  Their master may be evil depending on the installment but they are anti-heroes for the most part.  In this film they are evil and we see them diving deeper into German Nazi ideology which is something Band did not do.  Band stayed away from the ethnic cleansing the Nazis were known for out of fear of being branded Anti-Semitic.  This film goes there which makes it a lot darker considering the history around it.  Sadly, the film takes a chaotic spin after 2 thirds of the film which really takes away from several of the fun scenes.  There is so much going on that the film can't slow down and the viewer misses out on some fun kills.  Finally, some of the kills in this are extremely bloody and violent with top notch practical effects while others are extremely cheesy which takes away from the tone of the film.  Overall, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich had potential but failed to pull it together into a film that can float above mediocrity.  Fans of the original series may want to check it out but don't expect a film worthy of the Puppet Master title.