Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 13: RED STATE


RED STATE (2011)
D. KEVIN SMITH
LIONSGATE
1.85


Kevin Smith's controversial thriller is by no means a horror film, no matter how much he or his fans try to tell you it is. But much to my surprise is actually IS a fine little film. Mostly sure handed, offering no easy answers, exciting when it should be, brutal and ugly when it needs to be, and forces a lot of thoughtful ideas into the laps o an audience that probably would never give any of those ideas a chance had Smith's name not been attached. The movie only falls down in the last reel when it seems that Smith himself seemingly just couldn't handle not throwing in his typical smarmy smartass humor,and a final walk off image that simply doesn't work. But 90% of the movie that leads up to it is challenging stuff.

The movie begins with a small scene in a high school class room where a very liberal teacher goes over the first and second amendment briefly and how it applies to the FIVE POINTS CHURCH and their leader ABIN COOPER (in a galvanizing performance by Michael Parks). This church are basically a version of the Fred Phelps clan protesting any and everything to do with Homosexuals. That they are agents of Satan. In the High School class are three teen boys
Jared (Kyle Gallner), Travis (Michael Angarano)
and Billy Ray (Nicholas Braun) have been talking to a middle aged woman online about meeting her for group sex. On the way to meet this woman they run into a parked car, inside of which a gay couple are having sex. Which turns out to be the town Sheriff and his secret gay lover, This is a key point of interest later in the story. The kids meet the woman (Melissa Leo) at a trailer park and she drugs them and takes them hostage for the FIVE POINTS CHURCH and Abin Cooper who intends to slaughter them during one of his sermons as a sacrifice to the lord to show he is cleansing the Earth of the filth and sodomites. The Sheriff has sent his Deputy out to find who hit his car, more to see who might have found out his secret than anything. The Deputy finds something amiss at the Church and gets shot for his trouble, Leading the Sheriff to call in the BATF lead by John Goodman who have been trying to find solid evidence that the church have been hiding guns on the premises. But when the BATF get on the site and their commands go south once the shooting starts, the government's involvement is as questionable as the church's.

The movie is a clear acid in the face of the WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH and their evil protesting of Gay rights issues, soldier's funerals and everything else they do. RED STATE could be easily summed up as THE WESTBORO CHURCH discovers the second Amendment and becomes THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS. But what makes it so unique is that for the most part Smith is careful to not lay too much of the blame at one one particular door step. The fanatical church is clearly shown as misguided people, blinded by their religion. But when the government is called in the decisions made by them are really no less fanatical or humane. Once again no easy answers are given, and no chance at true living or presented. Just as much faceless slaughter is there.

Kevin Smith loses his focus in two sections of the movie. In the last ten minutes of the movie he slips back int his normal smart ass, snarky writing with several new major characters making useless sexual/ comedic banter that is very out of place. Also the plotting ends up turning on a very loose bit of very lucky plot devices that feel like he had painted himself into a corner and needed something o get out quick. Also the handling of the gay Sheriff character is fumbled pretty badly, making him a drunk, insecure character, which would be fine, but with him being the only openly gay character in the film to make him a laughing stock and a loser it sends a bad vibe to the audience. Also killing him of violently sends a nasty message to the audience. But my theory is the Sheriff is the stand in for Kevin Smith himself, the very in the closet gay guy who can't come out at all under in circumstances, that it would ruin his life if he did. So it is ok to make that character a bit of a laughing stock. At least in Smith's own eyes.

But those are the few small complaints. For the most par I still say this is Smith's most mature film, even with the small slip ups, and if he intends to keep making movies in the this vein I will be glad to see what he is up to in the future.

Review © Andrew Copp

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 12: Adam Wingard Short Films


1000 YEAR DEATH (2005) and THE GIRLFRIEND (2007)
D. Adam Wingard
Synapse Films
35mm
Both are extras on the HOME SICK DVD


Both of these are extra feature short films on the DVD of Wingard's feature film HOME SICK. Both are in fact better than the feature film they are supporting.

1000 YEAR DEATH is a small short art film that quickly becomes a one joke movie that thankfully is a very funny joke. For the most part it is artfully short, erotically charged shots of four young teenage girls, two lesbians, and two other girls as they go about their day to day lives. A narrator begins to explain how these four girls are victims of a violent serial killer, That their lives have been cut short by his wrath that they will never go on to do the various things that young girls go on to do. We hear the lives of each of these girls WOULD have had, had they not met this violent man. We see them meet him, get strangled and drag their bodies to hide them. He narrates this while it is happening, especially that one of the girl's bodies will never be found. That is when a surprise ending comes to the forefront that changes everything we have just seen. Making it suddenly more of a comedy of errors than the brutal art piece we have been watching. But it actually IS very funny.

THE GIRLFRIEND is vastly different. A much more straight forward horror piece about a newer couple where the girl seems to be more committed than the man. She has convinced him to take her to meet his parents for the weekend, though it is clear he is not so into the idea. Pre-credits they stop at a late night convenience store so she can use the restroom and she runs into a some sort of evil entity that killed the clerk. Clearly what ever she ran into at the story has either possessed her or took over her body. Once they meet his parents the NEW version of the girlfriend charms his parents and is a much more erotically charged but clearly dangerous person. His sister, who seems to be more than a little bit sexually interested in him as well, seems to be clued into what is going on, but not before his family starts dying.

The first film is an exercise if formalism that gives way to suddenly comedy. THE GIRLFRIEND is a very creepy exercise in horror fully of atmosphere and tension. The performers and good, but it is the queasy feeling of ongoing dread and uneasy sexual tension that keeps this one alive.

Wingard shows a terrific visual mastery of the genre with these shorts. It is easy to see how they landed him enough dough to make a feature, It is too bad that feature was such a troubled production that it became HOME SICK. But I hear nothing but great things about his new film A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE. 

Review © Andrew Copp

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


ANDREW COPP'S THE MUTILATION MAN RETURNS
SPECIAL VHS COLLECTOR'S EDITION LIMITED TO 100 pieces!


Coppfilms is proud to release a very limited edition of Andrew Copp’s The Mutilation Man in a collector's VHS package. Only 100 pieces are being manufactured, each one hand numbered and signed by the director.
This new edition features a previously unseen longer edit of the film that includes 10 minutes of footage with slightly better visual quality than the older out of print DVD editions. The Collector's Edition VHS tape comes in a red clamshell case on an actual blood red VHS tape. The cover art comes in two different designs created by renowned underground filmmaker Andrew Shearer, each sold separately, with only 50 pieces available of each design for a total of 100 pieces. Extras on the tape include a previously unseen short film, trailers for other Andrew Copp films and a fun negative YouTube review for the film.
Andrew Copp’s The Mutilation Man came out in 1998 during the tail end of what can be considered the last wave of the 90's underground film movement. The film stars Terek Puckett (from My Sweet Satan) as a wandering performance artist in a burned out wasteland who does shows of self-mutilation to relive his miserable past of horrible child abuse. In flashbacks we see this abuse meted out by his drunken and psychotic father in a terrifying performance by underground filmmaker Jim VanBebber. The film approaches the subject matter in an obsessive, surreal manner that is comparable to the films of panic movement favorites like Alejandro Jodorowsky and Fernando Arrabal melded to the Italian gut slingers of the 80's.
"Andrew Copp's The Mutilation Man drags you, naked, over broken glass...The Mutilation Man is as hard to watch as it is impossible to look away." - HOLLYWOOD IS BURNING Yet, that same year on IMDB the film made the bottom ten worst films of the year with many casual viewers finding the film difficult, disturbing and just too much for them to stomach.
Due to the film being edited analogue and shot on a variety of film formats that were transferred to video for offline editing, the movie will probably never see a re-mastered HD presentation. This collector's edition may represent the last time the movie will be available to the public. So get them while they are still available; these tapes are already selling fast!
Price: $23 post paid in the United States. Overseas please add $5 more to cover extra shipping.


Halloween Horror Challenge OCt 11: VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL


VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL (2010)
D. Yoshihiro Nishimura, Naoyuki Tomomatsu

Sony
HD Video


From the directors and F/X teams behind the 2008 hit TOKYO GORE POLICE comes this outrageous gore, monster, comedy that, frankly, I don't even know how to begin to review. Is it a good movie? No, not really, but it IS a constantly inventive one. Watching VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL you are sure to see things you have NEVER seen before, and a few things you probably never will want to see again. Every frame of this movie is jammed packed with color, movement, texture and lots and lots of spraying gore. If ever there was a movie that was practically begging you to pay attention it is this one. It is NEVER boring, every second pops something new for you to lock your eyeballs onto. But Jesus, at some point it almost becomes sensory overload.



The movie opens with a crazy, crazy scene of our lead Vampire Girl (Yukie Kawamura) facing off with a trio of doll faced school girl monsters. She dispatches them them gorily, stripping their skin off in long spirals and popping their skulls out, stacking them on the beach before her boyfriend Jyugon Mizushima (Takumi Saitô) begins to narrate the tale ahead of how they met. Jyugon is the only real available boy in school and he is cornered by Keiko (Eri Otoguro) the pushy hot girl in class and soon he is her boyfriend. But the new transfer student Monami sets her eyes on him and gives him a chocolate candy with her own blood in it. Before he knows it he is craving blood and wanting to be with Monami the Vampire Girl. What none of them know is that the hot school nurse and school assistant principal are doing experiments in the basement. The two girls are out to fight each other over their new boy toy until he becomes a vampire too and Mizushima ends up with her head blasted open on the pavement. Soon she has become the experiment of the school staff and the nurse is murdering the best students of the school to collect the parts to recreate her as the best fighting monster possible.


This write up doesn't even begin to do justice to the complete insanity of this thing. From the opening scene of over the top of comedic slaughter to the scene in the classroom where we meet the students which is the most racist thing I have seen in a movie since THE ETERNAL JEW. There is a subplot about a group of girls who have remade themselves a faux Black girls by wearing make up and fake afros and big cup lips and giant spears and every other horrible stereotype and racist thing you can think of. I guess I can reason it out as to be a commentary about people trying to go to extremes to be people who they are not. But my god it is terribly extreme and offensive. I guess that is the point.


There is also another subplot about ritual cutters, a group of teenage girls who cut themselves to be part of a group. They end up in a competition of who can cut themselves the most and best, complete with a trophy. The girls are all anemic and eat cabbage to keep up their strength.

But the meat of the movie is the battle between the girls. It becomes a big F/X battle with body parts switching places, blood becoming solid becoming actual weapons. It really is the epic battle the directors set out to achieve, even if it is kind of stupid. With severed arms becoming spinning rotors to make people fly and things like that. Frankly this movie would probably work a lot better if you were really really high. I rarely say that since I am not a stoner, but in this case, well it fits.


I was a big fan of TOKYO GORE POLICE because with all the insane imagery, way over the top gore, and bizarre psycho sexual set pieces, there was a strong political and social subtext tying it all together. With VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL it is almost like they set out to make some really weird teen movie and are only lightly touching on any kind of social context at all. The stuff that makes that other movie hang together is mostly missing here,and that is a shame.

I'm not a fan of the new Japanese insane cinema like MACHINE GIRL or ROBOGEISHA with cute girls with machine guns pupping out of their assholes and thousands of gallons of blood. That shit is amusing for about a minute but then the twelve year old in me starts asking for a context for it and gets severely disappointed. TOKYO GORE POLICE had the whole package. This movie almost has it, then goes back to the candy colored insanity. It is never boring for sure, but it is pretty empty unfortunately.

Review © Andrew Copp

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MORE BRAINS: A Return to The Living Dead Documentary


MORE BRAINS: A RETURN TO THE LIVING DEAD (2011)
D. Bill Philputt.

CAV RELEASING


From the creative team behind the award winning four hour documentary NEVER SLEEP AGAIN on the NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. series comes this in depth exploration of THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. But unlike that film this is only a look at the first film in the series. At least as far as the first movie itself is concerned. Once you get into the extras they delve into the first two sequels at length (and for my money get a little more interesting, but more on that in a moment).

So all the expected criminal minds are present from producer Tom Fox from the original screenwriter John Russo, the entire cast and lots of crew people to even Suzi Q to talk about her musical contribution. In fact the only missing contributor is obviously Dan O'Bannon because he had recently passed away (but there is a lengthy interview with him as a DVD extra) and oddly enough Tobe Hooper who had originally signed on as director by left the project before shooting began and then Dan O'Bannon signed on and totally recreated it from the ground up. Apparently there is some animosity there.

For me there wasn't a ton of new information, but then again, I have followed the film for years, through the various video and dvd incarnations AND read and re-read the CINEMAFANTASTIC article that went into major depth about the troubled production back when the movie was released. But for fans who haven't spent years reading about the film there is a lot of news here. Stuff I found of interest was finally getting to hear the controversy about the effects work from the mouths of those involved and seeing actual pictures of F/X man Bill Munns' aborted work. I couldn't believe how truly awful it was, for years I read about his dismissal from the film, but couldn't believe it could be as bad as the people involved claimed. He is interviewed here and admits it is not his best work, but the pictures tell the story and it is, well, embarrassing. I give the man props for being willing to take part in this documentary and own up to what went down.

The actors have a lot of fun stories, but oddly enough not very many people have a lot of nice things to say about Jewell Shepard, and she herself comes off pretty jaded about the production. There is also some pretty insane stories about Glu Gulager not getting along with Dan O'Bannon including him going after him with a ball bat and a big metal can. 


Not shockingly John Russo down plays the successful nature of the film in his interviews where it is clear he just doesn't get it, the humor or what they were trying to do with the movie. The mind boggles at what kind of immense piece of crap this would have ended up as if he and his buddy's would have stayed at the helm. He talks at length about how he would have opened the movie, which ended up in his raping and pillaging of the 30 Anniversary of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.


The extras include fairly in depth explorations of Part 2 and Part 3. Part 2 sounds like an abortion from the get go, from the fact that director Ken Weiderhorn who was hired because he had done a few other horror films, said on set he didn't like making horror. Though that entry had probably the best actual effects of the three it is the most uneven tone wise. It is basically a kids film, the comedy is all over the place and it seems the the set was miserable at best. The actors all talk about how they did not have a good experience being there. They also all talk about how terrible the script was.

Part 3 has a lot nicer things to be said as everyone seems to have had a much more pleasant time on that set and agree it is more unique film. Though the film was basically green lit from a farming out of ideas until they found one that stuck. Everyone involved agreed that an undead love story was a fantastic approach that took the series into a new direction.

The interview with Dan O'Bannon is bittersweet at best now that he isn't with us. But his enthusiasm is infectious and his final walk off line about loving all his fans is quite beautiful. It is a sentiment that everyone should remember about being famous.

If you are a fan of this series there is no reason you shouldn't pick this up. 

Review © Andrew Copp

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 10: The Akwekning (2010)


THE AWAKENING (2010)
D. Vince Totenda
Blind Eye Films
DV


Boy if there ever was a bait and switch this is it. Just check the reviews on IMDB and they tell the story. We got suckered too. On Netflix streaming this has FOUR AND A HALF listed and the write up sounds like it COULD potentially be alright. So we added to the cue and watched what turned out to be the biggest piece of shit we have watched so far in the October Halloween Horror challenge this year. The four and a half star rating is clearly bogus, friends of the filmmakers jamming the star rating on Netflix (the film is also on Play Station and other streaming services so watch out for such jamming on those services too). Hey I don't blame them, I have myself have done it with movies I have out there on various places and every indie filmmaker has doesn't the same. Though I doubt any of us have gone to quite that extreme. But it doesn't change the fact that THE AWAKENING is a turkey of epic proportions.

It isn't that the story is super horrible, well it isn't good, but it isn't the worst. A group of annoying hipsters get an invite to a rave out in the middle of nowhere from some bimbo they meet in a bar. They set out to go to this expecting to find the greatest weekend long rave in history but find that a Mexican demon has possessed people and killed off everyone there, and in turn started killing off their annoying shit group of friends. Along the way they pick up an extremely cute archeology student who is studying the legends of the area so we can some insight on what is going on.

What we end up with is an endless confused mess of a movie that can't figure out if it wants to be a slapstick comedy for the first half, a ridiculous idie rock rave movie, or a road horror film. What it ends up being is a mess where nothing meshes, and most of it just comes off as laughable at best. This is the kind of movie where you sit watching it wondering if the people involved have actually seen other horror films or if this is just some sort of weird vanity project. There is a few almost workable moments in the final reel, but everything is completely telegraphed. I will say the movie is rather well edited, it does have that going for it.

Review © Andrew Copp

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 9th: The Baby's Room (2007)


SIX FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE
THE BABY'S ROOM (2007)
D. Alex De La Iglesia
Made for Spanish TV


This entry in the made for Spanish TV series that was the south of the border equivalent to our own lackluster MASTERS OF HORROR show is directed by Mexican insane man Alex De La Iglesia who brought us such amazing works as DAY OF THE BEAST and PERDITA DURANGA and this year's acclaimed THE LAST CIRCUS. Fan's coming to THE BABY'S ROOM expecting those kinds of cinematic fireworks might be a bit surprised to find that this is actually a fairly subdued, chilly affair that has more to do with a movie like THE SHINNING than the over the top work he is more identified with.

The story deals with a young couple (Played by JAVIER GUTIERREZ and LENOR WATLING)who have bought their first new home and have just had a baby. They are given a baby monitor and that night and they hear voices over it that kind of freak them out. This leads them to pick up a video monitor for the baby's room to make sure there isn't something really wrong going on. Naturally the Father at least, ends up seeing some very creepy things on that monitor such as a man in a suit sitting by his baby son's bed, and later a bloody body being dragged around the house. Unfortunately for him, his wife does not see these thing, but only him entering the room to pick up the baby while holding the knife he grabbed to confront the intruder. Which makes him look crazy. Or IS he crazy.


The story quickly becomes much more complicated, involving ghosts, looking into the future and of all things quantum theory. It is a heady stew that would be very difficult to swallow, but Iglesia keeps it all moving fast and when it gets absurd, be throws a terrific scare scene in to jolt you. By the end of the movie the jolts have become outright terror with a climax that actually works.

It is nice to see a horror movie that builds on story and actual scares, and not on trying to top itself with gory set pieces or out do other films in nihilism and brutality which is too much of the genre has become lately. This is a very fine piece of work and highly recommended. 

Review © Andrew Copp

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 08: Psycho Sleepover


PSYCHO SLEEPOVER (2008)
D. Adam Deyoe, Eric Gosselin
TROMA
S.O.V.

This movie starts off strong with some genuinely funny banter between a guy and his girlfriend Ginny (Emilia Richeson) about how far their relationship has reached. She is all about the Eskimo kisses and he wants a blow job. There is some witty and knowing dialogue about how they are 15 and 17 years old even though the actors both clearly look to be in their late twenty’s (a nice gesture since these kinds of movies always cast people too old to be teenagers). Felicia Rose appears on TV as a newscaster mentioning a maniac killer loose in the neighborhood. Soon their argument reaches heated proportions and she leaves the room only to hear the doorbell. When she returns her dumbass boyfriend is no where to be scene but a maniac clown is at the door. A struggle ensues with some funny gags along the way that ends with her leading him to a long stair case outside. Cue a funny pratfall down those stairs and her dispatching him.

This opening is shockingly funny, with some witty dialogue, fun performances and a very knowing wink to the audience that they know what they are getting. Granted the movie is cheap looking, but it is forgivable because it seems like we are in for something fun.

Then the movie starts proper and there are signs that things may be rotten are afoot. The first sign is that the gaggle of teen girls that are her friends has one of them played by a overweight guy in drag. You can either look at this as a homage to John Waters or just an act of desperation. I'm voting for desperation. Ginny's friends invite her over for a sleepover in hopes of getting her hooked up with a nice guy since she killed her last boyfriend. Turns out her dad was killed by a serial killer too. Once Home from school the doctor from the loony bin comes by to check on her, instead trying to get into her pants. The neighborhood nerds are all excited to peep in the sleepover because they “might to get see boobs and finally get to have a boner.”

At the loony bin the Doctor brags that he is going to go get busy with Ginny at the sleepover and blabs the address. Then leaves the door unlocked to the place and all the serial killers and crazies wonder out into the streets to start killing people. They be-line to where the sleep over is. Of course the doctor was given a false address so some innocent people are killed along the way. 


The movie is tolerable, but just silly until the boyfriends show up, then it just plows into stupidsville headfirst. Pretty much from this point on out the movie is just dumb jokes that wouldn't hit if you threw them against the wall. Silly sex jokes where they are clearly not having any kind of sex, juvenile gross out antics that are annoying instead of funny. The opening that seemed aware of genre conventions seems to get tossed out the window in favor of a kitchen sink approach of any possible joke just to see if it could work. The tedium of unfunny to funny wears out its welcome. By the time you get to a moment that does work you really have stopped caring.

There is a major plot twist by the later third when it turns out the girls running the sleepover are actually psychopaths themselves who lure guys over to kill them for fun. So outside are dozens of loons trying to get in, the girls inside are crazy too. The only normal people are Ginny and the virgin Peeping Tom Nerds. It all climaxes to a huge free for all blood bath that is more tedious than fun. Though to be fair the movie finally has some nudity from no name extras who come out of nowhere to play topless psychopath extras. So finally a movie about a sleepover gives a smidgen of naked flesh.

Ultimately PSYCHO SLEEPOVER is a resounding failure, which is a shame, because it started off so strong.

The DVD includes a commentary, outtakes, deleted scenes and several behind the scenes featurettes. So have fun with that stuff!!!

Review © Andrew Copp

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 07: RICKY 6

RICKY 6 (2000) 
D. Peter Filardi 
No Distributer 

This fairly serious attempt to make a dramatic film out of the true crime book “Say You Love Satan” is actually pretty good. It is the fourth attempt to tell the story of suburban Satanist killer Ricky Kasso falling behind Tommy Turner's 1987 WHERE EVIL DWELLS (which was never properly finished due to the drug addictions of many people involved), 1994's MY SWEET SATAN by Underground auteur Jim VanBebber which is heavily fictionalized but still the best of the bunch (and I worked on extensively as a crew person and can be seen in if you look quickly) and the 1998 film BLACK CIRCLE BOYS which is not too bad either but nose dives in the third act with a completely bogus resolution.

But for what it is worth this film seems to the the closest to the facts by all accounts. I personally have not read the book, nor am I up on the real case outside of seeing the pretty lame documentary SATAN IN THE SUBURBS so I can't comment too much on how much it keeps to reality. I can say that the feel of the film is a naturalistic one, with acting that is not over the top, and an eye toward realistic location work. The film is set in 1983 small town where there is nothing to do but get high and listen to rock music. This is where we meet our lead characters (names changed from the real ones) Ricky Cowen (Vincent Kartheiser) a high school kid with heavy emotional problems. He is being dropped off to the local teen group for drug users and troubled kids. Here he meets Tommy Portelance (Chad Christ). They don't make friends right away, but bond later at school over the fact they both like to smoke pot and both find the girl in group attractive. Soon they both are friends and sneaking off to get high. One day Ricky sneaks off to check out the girl of his dreams in the library while fucked up on angel dust and ends up spending the entire day reading witchcraft books instead and it bends his mind to Satanism. He meets the local loony Pat Pagan (an over acting Kevin Gage) in the local occult shop and soon he is dabbling in black magic, trying to raise demons and getting his friends involved in the occult. He is also pounding harder and harder drugs along the way. Soon Ricky and Tommy have decided they are full fledged satanists, with Ricky in particular buying into the life. During a bad acid trip he sees demons and then Jesus and attempts to kill himself. He claims Jesus found out he saw the light in Satan and tried to kill him. Tommy and Ricky decide to flee to California to meet Tommy's real father since he is adopted. To raise the money to start selling mescaline at inflated prices. A friend of theirs rips them off in a deal which sets the scene for the murder they end up being famous for.

For the most part the film is anything but a horror film, it is more a dark slice of teenage life with the trappings of occultism surrounding it. Anyone who grew up in the 80's will recognize the music, hair styles and jean jackets. That general malaise of being an outcast teenager in the 80's where you didn't fit in and the music of Judas Priest could easily be telling you to pick up a gun and waste some motherfuckers. But of course smoking all that angel dust could have a LOT to do with that too. RICKY 6 goes a long way to getting those details right. An early scene where Ricky is playing catch with his step father is one such scene. His Step Dad purposefully hits him with the ball and Ricky tries to run off, but the man grabs him and wrestles him to the ground yelling at him about how he wont throw a temper tantrum about every little thing. It is a power play in front of the whole family and you can easily imagine the dick doing this often. It is a scene that went down in suburbia all the time. The kind of thing that drove teens into drugs, fights and violence all their own. Still does every day. On the contrary the movie has several fantasy sequences that work in varying amounts. The first two that deal with Ricky's early paranoia and introduction to Satanism don't really work and come off forced. The meeting Jesus scene and later an effects heavy hallucination of his parents dead and demons in his home is completely off putting. But much later right after the murder he hallucinates he is walking through hell and comes up to Satan sitting up on a huge stump. This bit of fantasy is truly stunning and one of the most effective moments in the entire film. For one, the devil they have created is one of the most simple yet frightening creations I have seen in a movie. The whole scene works psychologically and as just simple scary imagery. Later there is one more hallucination where he imagines a party scene where the demons are asking him to kill himself that works well too.


But the movie is not without some major faults. The first big one is the casing of lead actor Vincent Kartheiser. His performance is actually pretty good. It is certainly shaded well, and he goes along way to make Ricky sympathetic. But the problem is that I never bought him as the kind of kid that the other kids would follow, which is what happens. He is too goofy, too wholesome. He is just the wrong guy in the part. He would have been good in the Tweasel role, the kid they ultimately kill. In fact when the movie starts I thought that was who he was supposed to be. Chad Christ as Tommy is very good and I believed him, the lead role needed someone more edgy like him in the lead. There is also some love interest that takes up the mid section of the film that is just dead weight, it goes nowhere and fills very little purpose. Finally the biggest problem is the final murder scene. It simply isn't vicious enough. Granted I am not the right person to give an unbiased review of this as I worked on another film of this story and the murder scene we worked on is widely considered among the most violent ever shot. I don't know what the real life details were but even if they are somewhere in the middle of the two films, this movie pulls back by taking the point of view of the side lined characters who are on drugs, thus being able to play it out in a surreal manner. It soft peddles the scene, confuses it at times and robs it of the final narrative punch. 

For the most part RICKY 6 is a fine film with a lot to offer. It really is too bad it isn't available to the general public. Though I can't imagine how audiences in 2000 would have reacted in the post Columbine panic. I have heard that is part of why the distributor pulled its release though I cannot find any actual proof of that. I have also read on several internet boards that the producer is in Jail for some sort of money scheme and that is why the movie is unreleased. Once again I have no hard proof of that as well, so who knows if that is fact. Third unfounded reason is that I have heard there were music rights issues as this is filled to the brim with 80's hair metal such as DIO and IRON MAIDEN and lots of others and there has been talk that not all of that music got properly cleared at some point. But that seems silly as it could have simply been replaced. None of it is integral to the film. The movie is all over torrents and grey market sites and even You tube in a really crappy version (but you kids love watching movies on the you tube anyway!) so check it out. It is worth the effort to track down. 

Review © Andrew Copp



Here is Tommy Turner's Unfinished version of the same story
WHERE EVIL DWELLS


Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Synapse Blu Rays: Maniac Cop and Frankenhooker

MANIAC COP (1988)
D. BILL LUSTIG
SYNAPSE FILMS.
Blu Ray


I haven't watched the original MANIAC COP since it originally came out back in the 80's. It was a movie that frankly I remembered liking, but not loving, and I remember liking the sequel more (though to be fair I haven't seen it since it came out as well). So checking the movie out on this new Blu Ray release was almost like getting to see it again for the first time.

The first thing that struck my right off the bat was just how deliciously detailed the new transfer from Synapse is. This is easily one of the best looking HD transfers I have seen. Admittedly I'm not a journeyman when it comes to Blu Ray having only been buying them for a little over a year. But from frame one, the MANIAC COP transfer floored me with how clean and clear it was. The opening credit sequence that shows the cop putting his gear on in ultra close up behind the credits, is rife with crazy detail. You can see thing likes the peach fuzz on the Maniac Cops gloves for crying out loud!

The movie jumps quickly into the meat of the film with a barely seen police officer murdering people on the street for what seems like minor infractions or even nothing at all. Hard nosed Police detective Tom Atkins is on the case but no one on the force wants to believe him including the Chief (played by SHAFT himself Richard Roundtree). Tom Atkins figures it out pretty quickly that the perpetrator is a cop. Meanwhile Bruce Campbell is a cop who is having an affair  with another female officer, When his wife discovers his indiscretion, she runs out on him only to be killed by the Maniac Cop, clearly being set up to take the fall. From this point Bruce will have to find out who is the actual Maniac to clear his name. Meanwhile lots of people are still ending up dead, especially at the exact wrong time to have his name cleared.


Lots of things set MANIAC COP apart form the late 80's tide of crap. First off is the smart script from Larry Cohen. As per usual for him, the script takes the more insane sounding ideas and makes them sound ridiculously plausible. That is his god given gift as a screenwriter. The other big deal of MANIAC COP is the slick, serpentine direction Bill Lustig gives the whole production. While it is obviously not a huge budgeted movie, clearly there is a little bit more money here than usual, and it shows on screen with some really solid stunt work, good locations (Seems a lot was shot in L.A. doubling for New York, but I was totally fooled) and a gliding, prowling camera the best Giallo film would be proud of. Then there is the roster of B-movie actors making a payday and bring their A-game from the great Tom Adkins, to William Smith and Richard Roundtree. The only performances in the film I am not crazy about is Bruce Campbell and Laureen Landon. Campbell I have just never felt was hard edged enough to fit the material , and Landon is just not that great of an actress, she is fine as eye candy, but when called to emote, she is not cutting the mustard, especially across the table from guys like Atkins or William Smith. There isn't much bad you can say about Robert Z'Dar in the roll, he is menacing, and scary, and in the main shower scene beat down, he takes it like a man.


If you are a fan of the film, this is worth the upgrade simply for the gorgeous Hi-Def transfer which really is one of the nicest I have seen. I guess there are some extras gone missing from the old releases to this one, but hey you can't have it all. There are some good interviews with Atkins and Z'Dar, and a whole host of trailers and a bunch of cut scenes dealing with the Mayor, that while interesting are obvious why they were cut as they slow the movie way down.So all that stuff is still here and pretty worthwhile. But it is the new transfer that is the star of this disc.

Also out from SYNAPSE FILMS.








FRANKENHOOKER (1990)
D. FRANK HENENLOTTER

SYNAPSE FILMS
Blu Ray

The first film made but second released, in the two picture deal with Shapiro /Glickenhaus pictures in the late 80's (the other film of course being BASKET CASE 2, and then eventually BASKET CASE 3) this is easily Henenlotter's funniest film to date and his most accessible.  While on paper the plot sounds outrageous and slightly misogynistic, the final film is anything but. It is a super silly, almost lighthearted parody of teen romance films and the FRANKENSTEIN mythology. It is FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN meets 16 CANDLES.

Jeffrey (played by the super talented and funny James Lorinz) accidentally kills his girlfriend (played by Penthouse pet Patty Mullen) in a horrible Lawnmower accident. But instead of sitting on his laurels crying he sets out to bring her back using his limited knowledge of science and biology. But first he has to gather enough parts to put her back together after the accident. He doesn't mind if she is a little "improved" along the way. But being a pretty nice fellow he can't bring himself to just go and cold blooded kill women so he invents "Super Crack" That will blow up anyone who smokes it. Thus letting the hookers he will meet choose their own demise. Then he can take the parts home and build his own bride.



Completely silly and over the top, with funny lead performances, FRANKEHOOKER has stood the test of time more than a lot of other films from that era that tried to be funny and failed,  such as something like GIRLFRIEND FROM HELL or DEATH SPA. That plays out from Henenlotter's expert sense of the absurd. Each crazy set piece mounting to top the last, from the exploding cracked out hookers to the mutant body parts becoming their own little monsters at the end. The movie continues to surprise at each turn. Henenlotter also peppers his movies with lots of funny and cool side characters like Zeus the pimp, or the googly eyes john who gets humped to death.

Then there is Frankenhooker herself an awesome make up creation but brought to life by a lighthearted performance by Patty Mullen who keeps the character child like no matter how crazy of shit she is called on to do. She is terrific and very memorable in the part. Probably the biggest reason the movie is still hanging around to this day. That and that great old "Wanna Date" VHS packaging.


The new Blu Ray from Synapse is as good as it will ever get for FRANKENHOOKER. The old extras from the special edition DVD are carried over here, but the new HD transfer is just  gorgeous with solid beautiful colors. This movie is saturated with purples and blues, all which looked washed out and faded on the old VHS and first edition DVD's. The Special Edition DVD from Unearthed looked very nice and was a great improvement, but this new HD transfer is well worth the double dip for fans. The movie never looked this good.

So both these flicks are essentials for your Blue Ray collections!

Review © Andrew Copp

 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 6th Pt 2: ZOMBIE GANG BANGERS (1997)


ZOMBIE GANG BANGERS (1997)
D. Walter Webster
Salt City Ent aka Sub Rosa
S.O.V.
I think I am going to try something a little different this time and actually blog this movie AS I watch it.

Music by The Devout Sound System!!! For a solid ten minutes into the movie we get no dialogue and dancing, dancing, dancing! Looks like they snuck into a really lame club and were going to make damn sure they got the most use out of the footage as possible. On the positive side there is a fairly hot stripper pole dancing during the entire scene too. Towards the end a zombie attack happens... I think. It is so damn dark it is really hard to tell.
Later a teen kid comes home to tell his drunk ass abusive dad he was attacked by “mean ass zombies” only to get beat for his trouble. A drunk brings home a hooker to meet his infantile adult baby brother, and another couple breaks up because he catches his women on the phone with some dude, All lite with horrible harsh red light that makes the video bleed and bleed and bleed to the point that it threatens to blow your video screen right open.


Baby Huey and his old man just killed that hooker and now grumpy old man is humping her. So far there is no plot. Just disconnected random scenes. Stephanie Beaton has sat at the bar for at least the first twenty five minutes of the movie. Is this going to be her entire role? Why are there Zombies running around? They just attacked her. They have ate everyone else but they are trying to rape her? Guess this is why it is called ZOMBIE GANG BANGERS huh?


The songs sound like DIE KRUPPS. 


Oh Nice. She is talking to the cops talking about how she tried to fight off her attackers and just whipped out her tits to prove how much they hurt her. To show off her bruises! This movie is CLASSY!!! Now they just made a crack about how the economy is shot to shit because the president is a Democrat! And the cop just threatened to rape her himself and he just slapped her to put her in her place! Wow! Annnnnnd Now the cop is raping her too... All because she is a “whore” as it has been explained...
This would be offensive if it wasn't such a bottom of the barrel below public access level piece of shit.
I think a fifteen year old with sever problems with women wrote it though.


You don't know what it's like to be raped by zombies!!!”

“You're a whore Alice, and now you are letting these slobs beat you and rape you. You need a good therapist!”

Professional dialogue. David Mammett would be proud.

Wait Kitten Natividad is now stripping. She's not young, but she's still got it. (obviously before her unfortunate bout with cancer. Still glad she beat that and is still with us though).

Holy shit, is that THOR hitting on Stephanie Beaton? Nope it isn't but it kind of looks like him.
Oh no. The Rapist Zombies are back and raping her again. And the fat Baby Heuy guy is one of them. And a Japanese Tourist is taking pictures too.

Seriously who makes a movie like this?

Hey the one Zombie has an afro...

It looks like the chunky adult baby one is fucking the hood of the car and not her actually.

Her friend Betty is a twat. Why does everyone keep telling her what a whore she is? Oh look a couple of dogs trying to hump in the street...

Hollywood is a fucked up place.

So now they have gone to the Hollywood mondo store to meet Dr. Mondo to have him make an “ass-kicking tough Zombie Ninja” to help them fight. She has gone through the litany of showing off her tits, ass and legs to convince him. Claiming that if her tits get any more bruised they will never be the same!

The Chroma levels on the tape are so bad right now do to shitty lighting that almost nothing can be seen through the pink and red blurring.

Oh shit. The ass kicking zombie is a rip off of Jim Carrey from The Mask by wearing a Jester outfit. Kill me now. Kill everyone now...


This has now turned into a complete and utter rip off of THE MASK but without the then ground breaking digital effects. For the last ten minutes we have has a cut rate Jim Carrey impersonator doing an ultra shitty impression of that character. This was more painful than anything else in the movie so far.

Now, more zombie rape.

Oh, no. It is ALL IN HER HEAD. She is in a mental hospital and she has been getting shock therapy the whole time!!! But the Doctor is a psycho too! Cue shock ending!!!

But wait the end credits list DIFFERENT a different director! Someone named Jeffrey Scott... What the fuck?

I bet SUBWAY is thrilled to be listed as catering on this movie!

Stephanie Beaton was kind of a hot property at the time this was made with those WITCHCRAFT movies and what not, why oh why make a humiliating piece of shit like this? The world may never know...

Review © Andy Copp



Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 6th: THE SLIT-MOUTH WOMAN

THE SLIT MOUTH WOMAN (2005)
D. Takaaki Hashiguchi
SACRAMENT USA
Full Frame (Streaming on Netflix)
Subtitled

This popular Japanese urban legend has been made into several films, but this one takes an unusual track in that it is primarily a sexploitation film with at least five full on soft-core sex scenes on display with bouncing breasts and tentacle like tongues probing around. The filmmakers seem to be far less concerned with delivering a scary movie then displaying hard nipples and those god awful snake like tongues of the cast. Yet for all the humping on display the movie is at heart a MESSAGE movie about, body image and how the media manipulates people's perceptions to a negative degree!

The story deals with a haunted cosmetic surgery hospital where a ghost of a woman with a split mouth haunts. For reasons that are not particularly clear the place seems to be a bit of a hang out for people to go to get busy. In the opening scene we get a huge breasted nurse and doctor taking a break from their job to play doctor only to get interrupted by the ghost. Jump forward to the place after being closed down and a spunky female reporter has been assigned to find out about this “Split Mouth Women” legend.


At home her husband is eyeballing her younger step sister in rather leering manner so we just know they will be making the beast with two backs before the movie is over. Meanwhile her little sister's boyfriend is creeping around the closed hospital with a young cutie that he seduces in front of a mirror, only to incur the wrath of the red dress wearing, huge smile ghost.

Eventually the ghost haunts pretty much every cast member in the film (but only actually kills one) and our reporter figures out who she and her tragic backs story which deals with a disfigurement and plastic surgery gone wrong. 


 
The movie is very strange in that it has a very sincere theme of people, women in general, needing to be happy in their own skin and not feeling they are not beautiful as they naturally are. There is a clear indictment of plastic surgery, fashion magazines and even mean fathers and boyfriends who push women to fit in and change to please them. YET, the movie fills the running time with soft core sex, with is in the end ALL about aesthetic pleasure and watching beautiful women, so it is sort of hard to rectify the message with the delivery...



The movie's biggest problem though is that it picks the wrong areas to be extreme. The sex is pretty graphic (though not by western standards) with the near constant tongue action becoming literally like watching a squid trying to climb into people's mouths. Yet when it comes to the horror scenes, the movie pulls back, every single time. When it comes time to present the “shock” climax it is the prefect set up for a character to have their tongue bitten out since that is ALL we have seen is tongues exploring everywhere. But alas it doesn't happen. The movie avoids graphic horror in exchange for subdued and it doesn't work.

The ghost is pretty scary with all her backwards cranked footage and creepy hair, but even that is something we have seen before. If you want Japanese sex and gore horror I just say check out the ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN/WHORE movies instead.

Review © Andrew Copp

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 5th: DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)


DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)
D. John Newland
Warner Brother's Archives
Made For TV


This 1973 made for TV horror movie has a lot of memories for old school horror fans and was recently remade by Guillermo Del Toro's production company. But many fans seem to prefer this low-fi original with it's tiny rubber monsters and hysterical leading lady. As I have been doing all month I have been dipping into the piles of horror flicks I have neglected to take a look at in the past and this mini classic was another of those movies.

Kim Darby (best known as the neurotic mom from 80's classic BETTER OFF DEAD) stars as a a young wife of a upwardly mobile businessman. They have just purchased a home in hopes to make a new life together. John Hutton plays her husband and from the get go it is pretty clear he doesn't value her the way he should, that his work comes first. In the basement of the new house if a bricked up fireplace they are warned not to mess with, but of course she cracks it open. Soon there are these tiny little creatures scampering around the house tormenting her. Naturally her husband doesn’t believe her at all, even when things aren't adding up. Finally it all climaxes on a stormy night after they little ghouls have managed to drug her.



While the movie is not really violent (only one person dies) it is consistently creepy, preying on those fears we all have of things we can't see in the dark. Those same primal fears that make us afraid of things like rodents, snakes and small animals. If you are afraid to go into a darkened room, or to have your feet hanging off the side of the bed this is the kind of the kind of thing this movie exploits effectively. Every-time the little creatures in DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK creep around a book case or are under a table it is the universal fears we all have.

The treatment of the lead female character in the movie is abominable though as every character in the movie treats her as she is stupid, hysterical or just being a child. Even well past the point when her Husband should be excepting there is something going he he clings to the idea that she is somehow at fault, until it is too late. There is even some dialogue taking the piss out of Woman’s Lib. Making this very much a sign of the times it was made.
But at the end of the day the movie is still very effective, and most if that is because of the creepy little monsters and creative photography involving them. It is no surprise people still remember this one.

Available remastered from the Warner Brother's Burn on Demand Archive. 



Review © Andrew Copp 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 4th: DOG SOLDIERS


DOG SOLDIERS (2002) 
D. NEIL MARSHALL
ARTISAN
1.85


This debut feature film from Neil Marshall put him on the map and made him a major player in the genre. This along with GINGER SNAPS went a long way to make werewolves interesting again. Then TWILIGHT came along and made them goofy as hell but that is a whole other ball game...


The movie explores how a group of soldiers in training run into a family of werewolves in the hills of Scotland. After losing a few of their own they hole up in a small house with a local female who saves them during a fight and it becomes STRAW DOG SOLDIERS for a little while, until some fairly obvious plot twists happen in the last third of the movie. 


The things the film have going for it are great designs on the werewolves themselves, a fantastic sense of action and terririfc frentic pace. Where it falls down is in the logic and script department. Neil Marshall is a terrific visualist and can wring suspence like few others, but as a writer he fails misreably at times, and this is a prime example (see DOOMSDAY for another example of his films which look great, is fun to watch but has a terrible script). Characters are faced with a supernatural situation, they appear to understand, but continue to treat it the same dumb way, never looking at it from a perspective that might save them. Characters in their midst is clearly a werewolf they even are given clues, but they never figure it out until it is too late. TWICE. Logic continually is thrown out in the face of forward moving action, and it ultimately hamstrings what starts out as a good, fun monster film. The first half is very recommended, but by the final third I found myself tunning out because the writing was just not working anymore. 




Marshall has gotten much better as I feel THE DESCENT is one of the best horror films of the last ten years, and CENTURIAN, though not perfect (it has some writing issues as well) is pretty great too. But this has a lot of the birth pains of a debut film. 


Review © Andrew Copp


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween Horror Movie Challenge Oct 3rd: PLAGUE TOWN


PLAGUE TOWN (2008)
D. David Gregory
Dark Sky Films/ Severin Films
1.85 - 35mm 


This debut feature film From David Gregory who is most known for his extraordinary work in the DVD world on extras for BLUE UNDERGROUND, and who went on to form his own company with SEVERIN. He also for many years fought the good fight against censorship in the UK with his older label EXPLOITED back in the 90's and he produced several amazing documentaries the British horror scene. So this film is something of major interest for those of us who have followed his career on the side-lines of the industry.

PLAGUE TOWN is an odd beast, a gothic fairy tale cum splatter film with a definite British horror vibe throughout. A film that begins with the family lost in the tough wilderness of such classics like THE HILLS HAVE EYES but becomes something much different as it progresses. A much weirder, more mercurial beast altogether that is hard to compare to much else out there.


The story begins with a wicked scene of a baby being born in a distant cabin and the local Priest pronouncing the unseen child an unholy abomination of the Devil. The Parents of he child wisely decide this is not what they are wanting to hear. Apparently the local church has been doing this around town for some time and the parents decide to take matters into their own hands in a scene of vicious brutality that sets a tone for the film that seems like it will be hard to match. The movie matches it.


Fourteen years later an American family and one European interloper are running around this same bit of countryside taking a vacation. They decide to hike through the ruins in an attempt to find some family time but end up running afoul of the incestuous brood that has come from the family that was allowed to live in the opening scene. Seems that they have for years been trying to have more kids by finding more people to breed with to attempt to cleanse the gene pool with no real results.

The film becomes a nightmare of every fairy tale you can think of in the second half as the mutant inbred children take center stage in the hunting and torment of the cast. The film plays on the rarely used primal fear of deformed children, but it also taps that fairy tale nastiness. Few movies attempt to do it, but even fewer do it well.


The design work in the film is the final element that makes it all work. The make up on the children, and especially the make up on Rosemary the teenage girl who was born in the opening scene are all top notch. Add to it the costumes and set designs that are more subtle than you would expect and it adds up to an amazingly well thought out and designed final film.

Some viewers may find the very European pace and atmosphere to be off putting, and occasionally the unlikable lead characters make it hard to find someone to cheer for, and add to that they now typical nihilistic horror ending and the film is far from perfect. But there is so much interesting, imaginative and breathtaking moments in the film that it cannot be forgotten or ignored.

Review © Andrew Copp