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HORROR R - Z
RABID GRANNIES (1989) - Heavily edited (at least here in the States) but still outrageous horror-comedy from Belgium. A group of relatives gather at the mansion of their wealthy aunts (not grannies) to celebrate their birthdays. What a lovely bunch of people they are: A mistrusting lesbian and her beautiful lover; a cowardly husband and his wife and two bratty kids; a lecherous nephew who hits on the lesbian's lover; a truly repulsive child-hating priest; a man with a wife young enough to be his daughter; and, a bike-riding spinster. All these people have one thing in common: They are at this party to get on the good side of their aunts so they will be put in the will. While the party is going on a sinister-looking hag delivers a gift from a nephew who was disowned by the family for practicing black magic. The gift is an ancient box and, when it is opened, demons possess the two elderly aunts. They proceed to literally rip apart their family. From this point on the carnage doesn't stop. It is a shame that Troma, who distributes this film in the US and other territories, decided to release a severely edited cut, devoid of the gorier scenes to secure an R rating. The DVD they released in America is also full screen, with the edited out scenes as extras on the disc. In the United Kingdom they released the fully unedited version on DVD in widescreen. This is what you are missing in the R-rated version: People are ripped in half, beheaded, crushed between bars of an iron gate and one unlucky man gets his ass chewed off. Best scene: The two possessed aunts corner the priest and hand him an automatic rifle. They give him a choice: Either shoot himself where he will go to Hell for taking his own life or let the aunts poke out his eyes and eat his stomach where he will die and go to Heaven. He takes the easy way out. This is one of the most original scenes on film in years as it induces shudders as well as laughs. Bravo to first-time (and only time) director/screenwriter Emmanuel Kervyn for making something other than a run-of-the-mill, reading-of-the-will potboiler. The film is smothered in atmosphere and looks like Kervyn studied the horror films of Italy, especially Lamberto Bava's DEMONS (1985). This is a bloody good show. Starring Danielle Daven, Anne Marie Fox, Jack Mayar, Elliot Lison, Raymond Lescot and Guy Van Riet. A Media Home Entertainment and Troma Team Release. Rated R.
THE RAGE (2007) - Stop me if you heard this before: A mad scientist kidnaps innocent people and performs illicit experiments on them, only to have one of his guinea pigs escape, which leads to events where a group of annoying young teens are stalked and killed. Heard it before? I thought so, but the only things THE RAGE has going in it's favor are a heavy quantity of bloody gore and a smattering of nudity. Some viewers will find that enough to get through the next 86 minutes, but others will be asking for more, like logic and a coherent plot. Dr. Viktor Vasilienko (Andrew Divoff; FAUST: LOVE OF THE DAMNED - 2001), a mad Russian scientist, has been infecting kidnapped people for several years with his Rage mutagen, hoping to spread the infection throughout the free world (don't ask). One of his subjects breaks free, kills Viktor and escapes into the forest, where he kills a necking couple in a car. He then dies and his corpse is picked clean by a flock of vultures, which then become infected and attack weekend fisherman Uncle Ben (Reggie Bannister, who manages to get a PHANTASM reference in, even though his screen time is less than three minutes). After chowing down on his visiting niece and nephew (played by director Robert Kurtzman's children), Uncle Ben is then killed when he is run over by an RV occupied by a group of idiotic twenty-somethings (one of them portrayed by ultra-low-budget scream queen Misty Mundae, using the name "Erin Brown" here) on their way back from an outdoor rave. The vultures attack and disable the RV (in a scene that will either have you howling with laughter or shaking your head in disbelief), forcing the group to flee into the woods, where they are either killed by the vultures (who spit an acidic liquid out of their beaks!) or infected with the virus. The survivors manage to make it to Viktor's hidden laboratory, only to discover that the mad Russian has returned from the dead, infected with the Rage virus and anxious to continue his experiments. The doctor and his two mutant sidekicks (the results of his failed attempts) continue his research, but the final two ravers fight back using whatever sharp instrument is handy (and there are many) to make their escape. In typical modern horror film fashion, there's an unnecessary sting in the final shot that leaves this film open for a sequel. If it's blood and gore you want, look no further. All others stay away. The film nearly screeches to a dead stop once we meet the ravers, who are some of the worst actors this side of a H.G. Lewis film, but director Robert Kurtzman (THE DEMOLITIONIST - 1995; WISHMASTER - 1997, also starring Andrew Divoff), the former K of KNB Effects, tosses in so many bloody makeup effects, like decapitations, eye-gouging, impalements, axes to the head and bites out of flesh, that you can almost forgive the terrible thespians. Almost. The final thirty minutes, where a deformed Divoff (who is his usual professional, off-kilter self) reappears and explains his motivations for his hatred of western culture (It seems he found the cure for cancer, only to have his research stolen by U.S. interests and he was then placed in an insane asylum, where he was given electroshock treatments), becomes total inept insanity, especially his dwarf transvestite hunchback assistant (!), who carries around a stuffed monkey and screams "Kiss the monkey!" to the restrained ravers as he/she/it shoves the stuffed animal in their faces. While Kurtzman and his newly-formed Precinct 13 Entertainment effects crew manage to supply as many practical effects as possible (lots of squishy bladder effects and dismembered body parts), there are also some glaringly-bad CGI shots on view, especially whenever the vultures are in flight, which don't for a second look like anything but cheap computer animation. Some of the blood effects are also enhanced by CGI and they are just as noticeable as the damned vultures. THE RAGE delivers on the grue, but fails on nearly every other level. That can either be read as a ringing endorsement or a dire warning. I'll leave that decision up to you. And what's up with all these new horror films having headache-inducing thrash metal soundtracks? This one contains songs from Mushroomhead and The Fakers. Gary Jones, the director of such genre films as MOSQUITO (1995), SPIDERS (2000) and CROCODILE 2: DEATH SWAMP (2002), was Line Producer and First Assistant Director here. Also starring Ryan Hooks, Sean Serino, Rachel Scheer, Anthony Clark, Christopher Nelson, Matt Jerrams and Alan Tuskes. Available on widescreen DVD with many bonus features (including a behind-the-scenes doc that's longer than the film and twice as interesting) from Screen Media Films. Unrated.
THE RAT MAN (1987) - Who but those crazy Italians would remake Sondra Locke’s RATBOY (1986) as a horror film? Why would they want to? A scientist crosses the genes of a monkey and a rat and comes up with the title creation (portrayed by Guinness World Book title holder for the shortest human being: 27 inch-tall actor Nelson de la Rosa [in ridiculous make-up]). The creature breaks loose and kills anyone that gets in it’s way, including models on a fashion shoot. The sister of one of the models (Janet Agren of GATES OF HELL - 1980) teams up with a TV mystery writer (the late David Warbeck of THE BEYOND - 1982) to stop this pitiful tiny terror. Basically a series of stalk-and-slash scenes, this mundane film is real boring and will tax even the most patient viewer. Illogical to the extreme, THE RAT MAN pushes the believability barrier by giving such a small creature the ability to slaughter full-size humans without much of a fight. All rats and monkeys should protest this film. Directed by Guiliano Carmineo using the pseudonym "Anthony Ascott" (THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS - 1971; EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000 - 1983). Also starring Eva Grimaldi. This film is not available on any legal label in the U.S., but can be purchased from many gray market sellers. Not Rated. NOTE: Nelson de la Rosa died on September 22, 2006 of unknown causes. He is probably best remembered by movie fans as the diminutive sidekick of Marlon Brando in 1996's THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. He was also the blueprint for Mini-Me in the AUSTIN POWERS movies and sports fans on the East Coast also knew him as the pal of then-Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who used Nelson as a good luck charm during the Sox's 2004 World Series run. R.I.P. Nelson.
RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (1983) - In the year 225 A.B. (After The Bomb) there are two types of people who live on Earth: Those who live above the ground and those who live beneath it. A ragtag group of above-ground scavengers are searching for food and shelter when they chance upon an abandoned town. It seems to be an Eden to them because the town has a healthy supply of food, liquor and even a water purification machine. Eden soon turns into Hell however, as this town is populated by thousand of man-hungry rats who begin to attack and devour the new visitors. After three of the group are killed (one girl is eaten from the inside-out as she is trapped in a sleeping bag) the rest barricade themselves in a building, as the rats have chewed through their vehicles' tires and contaminated their food and water supplies. The rats manage to pick off the group one-by-one until only four are left. The quartet discover a recording device in which a scientist details the evolution of these rats. Prolonged exposure to radiation have evolved the rats into a new intelligent species. After spending years underground, the rats have returned to the surface to claim what is rightfully theirs. The rats begin an all-out assault and two more of the group are killed. When all seems lost, the remaining two are saved by the underground people who come to the surface wearing yellow radiation suits and gas masks. The duo thank them for saving their lives as one of them removes his gas mask, revealing the face of .......a rat! Guaranteed not to be endorsed by the Humane Society, this film has live rats being burned, impaled, stepped-on and generally mistreated. Call me twisted, but I found this more disturbing than the frequent shots of the rodents chewing through human bodies. This Italian production, directed by Bruno Mattei (using the pseudonym Vincent Dawn) and co-directed by Claudio Fragasso (a.k.a. "Clyde Anderson" of MONSTER DOG fame), has many gross effects and full frontal male and female nudity to hold your attention. The best part of the film is the character's names. Deuce, Video and Lucifer are some of the names you'll hear and the lone black cast member (Janna Ryann) is given the name Chocolate! As with most Italian genre films, the dubbing is unbelievable and the dialogue is hilarious. RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR is better than most of the Italian post-apocalypse films due largely to a different type of storyline (no MAD MAX-type action here) and a good, healthy dose of unrated gore. But did they really have to kill live rats? Starring Richard Raymond, Alex McBride, Ann Gisel Glass and Richard Cross. Also known as RATS OF MANHATTAN. A Video Treasures Home Video Release. Also available from Anchor Bay in pristine form on DVD. Now available in an even more pristine form as part of a double feature Blu-Ray with HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980) from Blue Underground. Unrated.
THE REDEEMER (1976) - Weird slasher film with religious undertones. The film opens with the following statement superimposed over a shot of a serene lake: "From out of the darkness the hand of the Redeemer shall appear to punish those who have lived in sin..." Then, a boy rises from the water and we see his shadow appear over the bed of a faceless sleeping man. The man then goes to the Stuart Morse Academy and murders the caretaker and makes a mask of the dead man's face. Meanwhile, the boy has hopped on a school bus and goes to church, where he puts on an altar boy uniform and joins the other children while they listen to a preacher deliver a fire and brimstone sermon. We are then introduced to short glimpses into the lives of six people, each of them sinners in their own way (vain movie star, abusive husband, rich uncaring lawyer, closet lesbian, etc.). What do they all have in common? They are all going to their high school reunion this weekend...at the Stuart Morse Academy. They all gather at the academy only to find that they were the only ones invited. They are greeted at the door by the imposter caretaker who leads them to a banquet hall. He then locks all the doors (all the windows have bars on them). Let the killing begin. After stuffing their faces and trying to one-up each other, the six characters realize they are trapped when they find the maggot-infested corpse of the caretaker and the killer taunts them outside while dressed as the Grim Reaper. The first guy is killed when a clown marionette carrying a blowtorch burns him to death. One girl finds a way out of the house, only to be shotgunned by the killer, dressed as a hunter. Even though the final four decide to stick together, the killer manages to do them in. One gets a sword dropped on his brainpan, another is drowned in a bathroom sink full of hot water and another is shot point-blank in the head (but not before seroiusly wounding the killer, who is now dressed as a lawyer). The final woman is killed by another clown marionette carrying a sword and then it immediately cuts to the preacher finishing his sermon. When the boy leaves the church (he touches the priest, telling him that "everything will be alright now"), be prepared for two "What The Fuck?!?" moments when the preacher removes his shirt. The best way to describe this film, directed by Constantine S. Gochis (his only directorial effort), is strangely twisted. Though we never know the motivation of the killer (Was he sent by God or did the six people do something to him when they were in high school?), the entire film is one big puzzle that must be watched very closely (it demands repeat viewings) if you are to receive the proper clues. When the killer, disguised as a magician says, "Guilt...is a hard-edged thing", just before dropping a sword on the movie star's head (the film's bloodiest effect), it will send a chill down your spine. While basically a riff on organized Catholicism (each person killed represents one of the Seven Deadly Sins), once you realize who the killer actually is, you'll see that screenwriter William Vernick may not be the biggest fan of religion in general. Without giving away too much, there's a scene in the beginning of the film where an altar boy is telling a dirty joke to the other boys while they're getting changed into their uniforms. When the boy from the lake doesn't laugh, the joke-teller threatens him with a knife. At the end of the film, we see the joke-teller dead with his throat slit, hidden in the back of the station wagon of a bible salesman. The entire film has an eerie vibe to it that cannot be described properly (the music helps immensely). It must be viewed to be fully appreciated. This film, along with SAVAGE WEEKEND (1976), are two unsung 70's gems just begging to be rediscovered. Starring Damien Knight, Jeanette Arnette, Nick Carter, Nikki Barthen, Michael Hollingsworth, Gyr Patterson, T.C. Finkbinder as the killer and Christopher Flint as the boy. Also known as CLASS REUNION MASSACRE (on the Continental Video Video label) and THE REDEEMER...SON OF SATAN. A Video Communications, Inc. (VCI) Release. Also available in a horrible VHS transfer from Genesis Home Video and on widescreen DVD & Blu-Ray from Code Red. Rated R.
RED SANDS (2009) - Director Alex Turner and screenwriter Simon Barrett, who previously teamed-up for the supernatural horror western DEAD BIRDS (2004), a film I didn't care for (but I'm apparently in the minority in that opinion), returns with this modern-day horror film, set in the beginning of President George W. Bush's "War On Terror" in the Middle East. I'm glad to report that I enjoyed this film immensely. The film opens with Army Specialist Jeff Keller (Shane West; DRACULA 2000 - 1999) being grilled by his superiors on why he is the only survivor on a mission he and a small platoon of soldiers were assigned to. The film then flashes-back two weeks earlier to show us what happened. Lt. Colonel Arson (J.K. Simmons; THE CLOSER - 2005-2012, in what amounts to a small cameo) assigns Staff Sgt. Marcus Howston (Leonard Roberts) and his men to patrol a stretch of road known to be used by Al-Qaeda (Arson asks Howston, "Do you like unicorns?" and a puzzled Howston answers, "Yes". Arson then replies, "What are you, some kind of faggot?" and quickly inserts that he was just "Fucking with you". Howston does not look amused, but if Howston was only going to deal with mythical unicorns in the next two weeks, he would be a happy faggot!). We then switch to the city of Kabul in Afghanistan (The movie was actually filmed in Kabul, Afghanistan and also in Morocco). It's September 2002 and Howston, along with Keller, Chard (Brendan Miller), Trevor (Aldis Hodge), Gregory (Callum Blue) and a few other soldiers (if this were STAR TREK, we would call them "red shirts") are patrolling the streets, both on foot and in vehicles, looking for traces of Al-Qaeda. It is a tedious mission filled with boredom and dust, with little children on the street asking the soldiers for a "biscuit?" One day, their convoy comes under attack from enemy fire while they are driving in the middle of the desert. They stop their vehicle to recon the area and come across a strange statue carved into the side of a mountain. Wise-ass Chard fires a bullet into the statue, which causes it to crumble into a million pieces. What Chard has done is release a vengeful Djinn, a human-hating spirit that was trapped in the statue for thousands of years. The soldiers make temporary headquarters at a bombed-out stone house (where the former residents were killed by phosphorous bombs that burned them alive to their bones) and pretty soon the Djinn begins fucking with their minds and then their bodies. During one of their patrols, they find an enemy camp that is eerily deserted, except for one dead enemy combatant that was buried up to his chest and stoned to death. Back at their temporary headquarters, they are hit with an unusually long sandstorm and the sudden appearance of an Afghani woman who seems scared shitless and rambles incoherently. Could this be the same woman Keller sees in his strange recurring nightmares? Is she the Djinn (That question is answered fairly early, as her arm stretches like Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards in FANTASTIC FOUR  when she reaches for a canteen of water.)? The Djinn uses each soldier's worst memories against them (Gregory is visited by an American soldier who he killed in a friendly fire incident; Howston gets radio transmissions from an Afghani girl he killed during a raid; etc), until they mentally crack and turn on each other. When Gregory is found brutally murdered (his eyes are all black) and the other soldiers start killing each other, only Keller keeps a level head about himself and survives the ordeal, but is it the real Keller that is being grilled by his superiors in the beginning of the film or the Djinn (That question is answered in the film's creepy closing shot.)? This is a slow (some horror fans would say it is too slow), methodical and psychological horror film that doesn't play its entire hand all at once. One thing this film does particularly well is show how American soldiers are truly "strangers in a strange land" when forced to occupy territories they really have no business (nevermind no understanding of traditions) to be in. While there is some blood and gore on display (especially the gaping head wound of the American soldier Gregory accidentally shot), this film is more about mood and atmosphere (you'll get dry mouth from all the sand on display here). Particularly telling is the scene where Howston (who is quite crazy at this point) catches Chard raping the woman and pulls him off her. Instead of being upset about the attempted rape, Howston takes offense to Chard calling him a "nigger" and stabs him to death. This is a film about identity, both real and perceived, and how being in an unfamiliar place for too long can fuck with those perceptions (as real-life American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan will readily tell you). The only disappointment here is the Djinn itself. When it is finally shown in the film's final twenty minutes, it is nothing but an obviously bad CGI creation, which is neither scary or believable. Other than that, RED SANDS is an effectively frightening film which evokes what scares us the most: Fear of our own worst memories coming back to life. This is one of many post-9/11 war horror flicks and would make a perfect companion piece with THE OBJECTIVE (2007). Also starring Theo Rossi, Noel G, Andrew Elvis Miller and Mercedes Masohn as the mysterious Afghani woman. A Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.
THE REDWOOD MASSACRE (2014) - There have been an awful lot of horror films coming from Ireland and Scotland lately (this one is from Scotland) and if you like gore, you'll probably love this film, but if you want a coherent plot with characters you give two shits about, look somewhere else. It could be because director/screenwriter David Ryan Keith (ATTACK OF THE HERBALS - 2011) took on six other important jobs in the film (cinematographer, editor, co-producer, digital effects supervisor, sound editor and camera operator), rather than give them to someone else to do, because the film has many continuity errors and an over-reliance of normal slasher film conventions to make it stand out from the pack. Sure, it's bloody as hell, but even that becomes boring after a while because many of the kills are the same and it then throws in a ton of torture porn, to boot. The film opens with a bloody girl with a bad stomach wound in the woods at night trying to avoid someone or something (it's never made clear whether we are dealing with a man or a demon). She is then attacked by someone dressed as a scarecrow (Benjamin Selway, who is listed as "Evil Maniac" in the credits), who stabs her over and over in the stomach until she falls on the ground. As she is trying to crawl away the Evil Maniac hits her three times in the back with and axe (really graphic) and then drags her away (The Evil Maniac does the same exact thing to a bloke taking a piss in the woods a few minutes later). When morning comes, four young adults decide to camp at the same place where the Evil Maniac struck the night before (Mark [Adam Coutts] has the nerve to bring his current and ex-girlfriend along! He prophetically says to his current girlfriend Kristy [Lisa Livingstone], "Trust me. This is going to be a weekend you'll never forget!" But don't they say that in all slasher films?). They are unaware that they are being watched closely by a hunter (Lee Hutcheon; director/star of such films as MY BROTHER'S KEEPER , featuring a lot of the actors in this film) a short distance away after he discovers the bloodpool of the girl from the night before. But why is he watching them? It will be answered. It wouldn't be so bad if every one of these four young adults weren't annoying as fuck and, of course, there is no cell service the farther they go into the woods. The last call they make is to Bruce (Mark Wood), who is traveling by mountain bike to meet them. Believe it or not, they are all going to a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a multiple murder that happened there (Who in their right mind celebrates a murder spree with a party?). Kristy tells everyone about the mass murder that happened 20 years earlier: A man known as "The Farmer" (Liam Matheson) and "The Redwood Massacre". The Farmer murders his wife by slicing open her stomach and eating her innards (we are shown it all in flashback). He then chops off his daughter's head (we don't see that) and murders his son (again, we don't see it) and then supposedly committed suicide, but his body disappeared from his grave. Bruce is almost at his destination when he falls off his bike and is dragged away by the Evil Maniac. The next morning, Kristy and Pamela (Lisa Cameron; LORD OF DARKNESS - 2012) wake up from their tents, only to discover Mark and and his ex-girlfriend Jessica (Rebecca Wilkie) are missing and think they have headed to The Farmer's house (Really? Without telling them?). They are actually being held captive in the Evil Maniac's slaughterhouse (Big continuity error. How did they get there? Is it possible director Keith was too involved with his other occupations on the film to recognize that he forgot to film the scene?), tied-up and gagged. Now it's time for torture porn. The Evil Maniac picks up Jessica, ties her to a table, stabs her in the stomach a couple of times with a small curved blade (twisting the blade while it is in her), takes off her gag and then stabs her over and over in the stomach so the guys next door can hear her death throes. It is very bloody, but we have already seen it done earlier in the film. The Evil Maniac then grabs Mark and ties him to a chair, while Bruce breaks free and grabs an axe, but instead of trying to save Mark (who has just had an axe planted between his legs and then has the top of his head cut off with a hacksaw; once again, nothing is left to the imagination), Bruce turns chicken and heads in the opposite direction, but the slaughterhouse is very big. The Evil Maniac puts bits of Mark and Jessica in mason jars in case he gets hungry later on. Meanwhile, Pamela and Kristy make it to The Farmer's deserted house, not knowing that it is the living area for the Evil Maniac (Jesus, I am getting tired of all these stupid young adults). They find a dead fox in the bathroom, but that will be the least of their problems. Bruce and the Evil Maniac play a game of cat and mouse (Guess who's the mouse?), where Bruce discovers the body of the girl killed at the beginning of the film in a wooden box. The Evil Maniac beats the shit out of Bruce and takes him prisoner again, where he kills Bruce with some unseen torture. Pamela and Kristy decide to spend the night in The Farmer's deserted house (Yes, these girls are missing a few brain cells). After killing Bruce, the Evil Maniac chases Kristy with an axe, catches her, stabs her in the stomach with a huge blade and then begins to pull out her internal organs while she watches, still alive. Pamela does the regular stupid young adult thing and runs towards Kristy's screams and ends up in the slaughterhouse, where she secretly watches the Evil Maniac chop someone into pieces with an axe. The hunter (remember him?) puts the barrel of a shotgun to Pamela's head and says, "Don't look at me." in a whisper. He is there to kill the Evil Maniac because he killed his daughter ten years earlier and he has been searching for him ever since. He says to Pamela, "You people. You think it's a fucking game. You have no idea what this thing can do. There is no end...this is just the beginning." (It's probably the most adult thing that Pamela has ever heard in her life.). He tells Pamela to leave because all her friends are dead, but Pamela refuses to leave and wants to help the hunter get payback. The Evil Maniac shows up and the hunter puts a shotgun blast into him with no effect. He gives Pamela the shotgun and tells her to run away. He faces down the Evil Maniac and tells him, "Makes no difference if I live or die. I died a long time ago." The Evil Maniac then runs him through with a machete and then stabs him through the top of his head (Ten years of searching for this? It just seems so...stupid.). The Evil Maniac then goes after Pamela (she has to run through a gauntlet of hanging bodies, some still barely alive and some of them her friends) and catches her, punching her over and over in the face until it becomes bloody filmic overkill. But, somehow, the hunter shows up to buy Pamela some time (but the Evil Maniac punches his fist clear through the hunter's body) to grab the shotgun and shoot the Evil Maniac in the face. Is it finally over? Pamela runs like hell through the woods until she comes to a road and is picked up by a man in a van. Pamela passes out from exhaustion, but the driver wakes her up a couple of hours later and tells her that he got lost and believes they have been driving in circles, ending back at The Farmer's deserted house (Really?). The Evil Maniac slits the van driver's throat and chases Pamela into an auto graveyard (Judging by the newer model of cars in the graveyard, I wouldn't be wrong to hazard a guess that these are the cars of the Evil Maniac's victims over the years). After the Evil Maniac delivers more punches to her face (She is going to be sore in the morning!), Pamela jumps into one of those giant magnet vehicles and drops a car on top of the Evil Maniac (How does she even know how to operate one of these big machines?). Before the closing credits begin to roll, Pamela says, "Fucking Farmers!" Besides THE REDWOOD MASSACRE being a lot bloodier than your normal slasher film (the closing credits thank the company that supplied them with gallons of fake blood!), this is just another mindless slasher flick that asks a lot of questions and offers no answers. Just who is the Evil Maniac? Is he The Farmer or something more supernatural? If the Evil Maniac can survive a point-blank shotgun blast to his face (which we never see since he never takes off the scarecrow mask), he sure as hell can survive having a car dropped on him. so I wouldn't be surprised if there will be a sequel in the future. And don't get me started on the continuity. It jumps from scene-to-scene with no connective tissue, like huge chunks of the screenplay were thrown away in the name of pacing (it is quick-paced, even though it took 35 days to shoot this 82-minute film). The next time, I hope David Ryan Keith just sticks with directing and writing and leaves the other jobs to qualified people. This way he could spend more time making sense of his films and not leaving us asking questions that we shouldn't be asking. If you are a gorehound, this film will delight you. If it's involving characters or plots you want, look somewhere else. This film does serve a purpose for a specialty crowd and, while I enjoy lots of gore just like every other horror film fan, I also appreciate some time building up the characters so we have people we care for. Keith fails miserably in that department. A little less H.G. Lewis and a little more John Carpenter. It's a well-made film, although it's apparent that some of the Scottish actors are trying a little too hard to speak American (especially Kristy) and there's also a total lack of nudity, so don't go looking for it here. Also featuring Claire Beam, Morgan Keith, Cheryl Bernard, Lindsay Cromar, Alec Westwood, Adam Huckle, Paige Henderson and Gina Hooper. An Uncork'd Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.
REEKER (2005) - Five college students, on their way to a rave in the desert, experience a strange phenomenon where they are seemingly stuck in time. They find themselves trapped at an abandoned motel/café, where, a few short hours before, it was teeming with customers. The students, Jack (Devon Gummersall; EARTH VS. THE SPIDER - 2001), who was blinded at the age of six by a lawn darts accident; Gretchen (Tina Illman, also one of the Producers), who plays everything a little too safe; Nelson (Derek Richardson; HOSTEL - 2005), a DJ; Cookie (Arielle Kebbel; THE GRUDGE 2 - 2006), the sexpot; and Trip (Scott Whyte; DEATH ROW - 2006), a wise-ass who has just stolen a fresh batch of Ecstasy from drug dealer Radford (Eric Mabius; RESIDENT EVIL - 2002), try to figure out why they seem to be all alone (a lone radio signal implies that there has been some kind of toxic spill which has closed down all the roads), while a creature called a Reeker (David Hadinger) goes on a killing spree. Only the blind Jack senses that something extraordinarily wrong is going on, as the stench of decaying flesh fills the air. Trip heads out on his own on his skateboard to look for help and runs into Radford, whose car has broken down. While Trip is trying to avoid the wrath of Radford, he meets Henry (Michael Ironside; WATCHERS - 1988, in what amounts to nothing more than an extended cameo), who is looking for his missing wife Rose (Marcia Strassman, also in a blink-it-and-you'll-miss-it cameo). There's something off about Henry, who drives Trip back to the motel and also confides in him that he's seeing dead people (This happens after Trip pulls a living dead trucker, missing the lower half of his body, out of a garbage bin and it scuddles away by walking on it's hands!). Trip tries to siphon gas out of Henry's RV (in a funny bit, Trip mistakenly siphons the RV's septic tank first), unaware that the Reeker has already killed Henry (whenever the Reeker kills someone, they literally see their lives flash before their eyes). Trip begins seeing all the dead people, which means that he's the next victim of the Reeker's wrath (which is a shame, because he's the film's most interesting character). Cookie and Nelson are the next to die, while Jack and Gretchen try to fit all the pieces of the deadly puzzle together. Trip turns up briefly (minus an arm), just long enough to fill Jack and Gretchen in on what they are dealing with (Trip says to Jack, "At least you can still whack-off!" to which Jack dryly replies, "Use your other arm."), before he is really dispatched by the Reeker (who has a huge mechanical drain snake-like device in place of it's right arm), leaving Jack to use his heightened sense of smell to try and save their lives. What happens next is creative, as well as poignant, even if it doesn't make a lick of sense. Not a bad little horror film considering it's low budget, director/screenwriter/co-producer Dave Payne (NOT LIKE US - 1995; SHOWGIRL MURDERS - 1995 [using the name "Gene Hertel"]; ALIEN TERMINATOR - 1996), who also composed the music soundtrack, manages to cram a lot of humor and tense situations into a story that is full of unique ideas, which is why Payne probably remade the film with a slightly larger budget as NO MAN'S LAND: RISE OF THE REEKER in 2008 (which I found a little more satisfying than this if only because it expands on this film's premise). Not everything works here (For starters, the Reeker is a terribly underwritten character), but Payne at least tries to be different from the countless other DTV horror flicks that don't have an original idea in their tiny little heads. The makeup effects, using both practical effects and CGI, are very bloody (the film gets off to a gory start when a vacationing family hits a deer with their car and suffer a far worse fate than the deer, including the family's poor pet dog), but are used sparingly, so when they do come into play, they are shocking and effective. While not everything succeeds in REEKER, I applaud Dave Payne for giving us a horror film that's funny without being overly jokey (some of the dialogue is inspired, including how Jack's blindness led to a lawsuit mandating that lawn darts be made out of plastic instead of metal) and complicated enough to actually make us use our brains (the finale is unique and well-done). Make sure to read to the final credits for Payne's funny take on film reviewers. I won't hold it against you, Dave. A Showtime Entertainment DVD Release. Unrated.
THE REJUVENATOR (1988) - In this bloody updating of Roger Corman's THE WASP WOMAN (1959), Mrs. Ruth Warren (Jessica Dublin), a wealthy old woman, funds a top secret project of Dr. Ashton (John MacKay). It's a youth serum he has developed by extracting fluids from the brains of the recently deceased. There's only one drawback: The serum is temporary and it also has some other serious physical and psychological side effects. Mrs. Warren, who was an actress in her younger years and wishes to be a young actress again ("Only young actors get the good parts."), pressures Dr. Ashton to use the serum on her before his animal testing is complete. He relents and injects her with the serum. At first, things go perfectly, as Ruth becomes a vibrant young woman (played by Vivian Lanko) but, since this is a horror film, things go horribly wrong pretty quickly. The serum is like heroin, as the more Ruth uses it, the more her body becomes tolerant to it. As her demands for the serum grows, the demand for cadavers rises in kind. You can see where this is heading. When the supply of dead bodies dries up, murder becomes necessary to keep Mrs. Warren beautiful. To hide her true identity, the young Mrs. Warren passes herself off as Elizabeth, the niece of Mrs. Warren. Elizabeth and Dr. Ashton begin an affair, much to the displeasure of her lifelong manservant Wilhelm (James Hogue), who has been holding a torch for Mrs. Warren for many years. Dr. Ashton should have kept a closer eye on his test rat. It has morphed into a hideous bloodthirsty monster, which is exactly what Elizabeth turns into when she doesn't get her injections in time. Elizabeth ends up cruising bars, killing men and women so Dr. Ashton can get the brain juce he needs to make the serum. She even goes as far as removing the brains of her victims with her bare hands. When Elizabeth discovers that eating the brains of her victims produces the same effect as the serum, Dr. Ashton must find a way to synthesize the serum before more people die. The best laid plans....... This splattery horror flick takes a while to get rolling but, once it does, it offers a lot of bloody imagery and gruesome goodness. Director Brian Thomas Jones (ESCAPE FROM SAFEHAVEN - 1988; POSED FOR MURDER - 1989), who co-wrote the script with genre vet Simon Nuchtern (SILENT MADNESS - 1984), patterns much of the film after RE-ANIMATOR (1985), right up to a sub-plot about a rival doctor trying to steal Dr. Ashton's work. Wilhelm's devotion to Mr.s Warren also brings up images of a similar plot in the classic SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950). The script is littered with witty lines, such as when two coke-sniffing party girls see Elizabeth get ugly in the ladies room. One of them says to the other, "As soon as a club gets hot, they let in the bridge and tunnel crowd!" There's plenty of gore, especially in the final third, as you will view brain removal and eating, a nasty neck-twisting (resulting in the head snapping off the body), a fist through the stomach and exiting out the back and various goopy transformations (effects supplied by Ed French [BREEDERS - 1986]). The finale is especially memorable and is sure to please fans of extreme horror. THE REJUVENATOR (also known as REJUVENATRIX) is a pretty good example of what you can do with a limited budget and a lot of imagination. This one's a keeper. Original music by the Poison Dollys. Also starring Katell Pleven, Marcus Powell and Roy MacArthur. A Sony Video Software Company Release. Rated R.
REST IN PIECES (1987) - Combination haunted house thriller/slasher flick filmed back-to-back with EDGE OF THE AXE by director Jose Ramon Larraz (using the pseudonym "Joseph Braunstein" on both films) and utilizing many of the same cast and crew. Helen Hewitt (Lorin Jean Vail) and her husband Bob (Scott Thompson Baker) fly from Los Angeles to Spain to say goodbye to Helen's dead Aunt Catherine (Dorothy Malone, a long way from her Academy Award®-winning role in WRITTEN ON THE WIND , because all she basically does throughout this film is smile, point directly into the camera and call-out Helen's name) and when they view her body in her coffin, she suddenly sits up, scaring the crap out of Helen ("Don't worry, it's a common occurrence", says the funeral director, which is a crock of shit). Aunt Catherine is then cremated and the ashes are given to Helen, but when she leaves the funeral parlor, a strange wind kicks-up, knocking the urn out of Helen's hands and blowing Aunt Catherine's ashes into the wild (When some of Catherine's ashes blow into her mansion, the maid says, "She has returned!" and the butler adds, "Just like she promised!"). Could this be an omen of things to come? You bet your ass. Catherine's lawyer warns Helen that her Aunt suffered from a mental illness and committed suicide in front of a video camera. That videotape became Catherine's last will and testament and Helen and Bob are about to watch the footage. Aunt Catherine comes on screen and rails against Helen's mother, saying "You should have been my daughter!", yet she bequeaths her entire fortune, including the mansion, to Helen, before she downs a drink laced with strychnine and passes away on-screen. Bob seems very happy about becoming an "instant millionaire", but Helen seems more worried about why the lawyer refuses to go to the mansion with them. Once at the mansion (it looks more like a split-level ranch than a mansion), Helen and Bob are greeted by Lisa (Carol James), the maid, and Luis (Tony Isbert), the butler/gardener and Helen notices a garage full of vintage cars, including a Rolls Royce that starts-up by itself. Before they even settle in, strange things begin to happen, like Bob's clothes changing position in the bedroom closet and the bathroom suddenly taking a life of its own, with the shower curtain nearly suffocating Helen while she is taking a bath. Helen swears she saw a smiling Catherine trying to kill her, but Bob thinks she just fell asleep in the tub and the shower curtain came loose (Yeah, right, shit like that happens every day!). Helen and Bob then meet all their strange neighbors, including blind author David Hume (Jack Taylor), lesbian Gertrude (Patty Shepard), Dr. Anderson (David Rose), Mr. Whitmore (Robert Case) and Reverend Flaherty (Jeffrey Segal), who all live in chalets on Aunt Catherine's property and don't pay a cent in rent (which Bob finds peculiar). The neighbors also attend regularly scheduled "concerts", which end in some deadly ritual we are not yet privy to. The neighbors feel that the sudden appearance of Helen and Bob will put a damper on their "concerts", but Helen has more serious problems on her hands, like seeing Aunt Catherine at the most inopportune times, getting obscene phone calls and being locked in the garage and nearly asphyxiating on the exhaust fumes. Is it possible that Aunt Catherine is still alive? And how is it tied to the neighbors' "concerts", where we find out that they kill the classical musicians they hire to play, chop-up their bodies and eat their flesh? Maybe the connection lies in the abandoned house across the street and the fact that all the neighbors committed suicide years ago? If Bob wasn't so interested in finding Aunt Catherine's hidden money (she didn't believe in banks and there is close to ,000,000 somewhere in the house), maybe Helen wouldn't have to put up with all this shit alone. Do you think you know how this is going to end? Director Jose Ramon Larraz (WHIRLPOOL- 1970; THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED - 1973; VAMPYRES - 1974; SAVAGE LUST - 1989) and screenwriter Santiago Moncada (THE SWAMP OF THE RAVENS - 1974) have fashioned a creepy, if far-fetched, horror film that touches on themes previously explored in films like PSYCHOMANIA (a.k.a. THE DEATH WHEELERS - 1971), whereby committing suicide under certain circumstances can lead to immortality, only REST IN PIECES adds the extra ingredient that you must resort to murder and cannibalism on a regular basis to maintain that immortality. Both Scott Thompson Baker and Lorin Jean Vail are stiff as boards (although Ms. Vail does look good in her many topless scenes), but the neighbors, which includes genre vets Jack Taylor (NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS - 1973), Patty Shepard (THE WITCHES' MOUNTAIN - 1972) and the hulking Fernando Bilboa (a.k.a. "Fred Harris"; EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000 - 1983), are the real stars here, whipping out knives and other bladed objects (Taylor has a retractable knife in his cane) and slashing people until they are bloody raw, then chopping-up their bodies with meat cleavers for chow and discarding the unwanted parts (like the feet) in a furnace. Some parts of the film are shocking in the matter-of-factness way these neighbors are shown killing their victims (including a classical string quartet who never see it coming). While not without its faults (especially the acting talents of the two leads and a flashback to a mass fake-stabbing that must be seen to be disbelieved), this film is still an entertaining and bloody horror film. Also starring Daniel Katz and Antonio Ross. Originally released on VHS by LIVE Home Video and not available on DVD. Not Rated.
THE RESURRECTED (1991) - Excellent horror thriller, loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward". The majority of the film is told in flashback (in some cases, there are flashbacks within a flashback within a flashback within a flashback!) as we follow the exploits of private investigator March (John Terry). He accepts a case offered to him by Claire Ward (Jane Sibbett) to find out what exactly her husband Charles (Chris Sarandon) is doing with the shipments of animal bones and blood that are delivered to his farmhouse in a small Rhode Island town. Slowly we learn that Charles has inherited the secret of resurrecting the dead (using only the bones or cremated remains from the deceased), a secret passed to him by his great great great great grandfather, who was identical in appearance to Charles. The resurrection process has a drawback: If the deceased remains are not complete, they come back to life in a hideous, mutated form. This is one review where I will not give away any more plot, except to say that Charles is not who he appears to be. The rest I will leave for your viewing pleasure. This terrifying and spellbinding feature starts out deliberately slow, drawing the viewer deeper and deeper into the unknown. The flashback device is never obtrusive. It instead allows the viewer to pick up clues along the way. There are some truly masterful sequences in this film, such as when Claire, March and his assistant (Robert Romanus) discover a secret passage in Charles' farmhouse and decide to investigate. What they discover you will not soon forget. All the performances are top-notch, especially those by John Terry (HAWK THE SLAYER - 1980), Chris Sarandon (CHILD'S PLAY - 1988) and Robert Romanus (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH - 1982). This is Dan O'Bannon's first directorial feature since his 1985 hit RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and he sure delivers the goods: Enough atmosphere for a dozen films, bloody and effective effects, a good sense of humor and above all, it never bores. THE RESURRECTED is a hundred times better than most direct-to-video fare, which raises the question: Why didn't it get a theatrical release? This filmed-in Vancouver, B.C. masterpiece richly deserved one! THE RESURRECTED is bound to become a cult classic. To see how Lovecraft should not be adapted for the screen, see the review for CTHULHU MANSION. A LIVE Home Video Release. Available on DVD from Lions Gate Home Entertainment. Rated R.
RETURN OF THE FAMILY MAN (1989) - Pretty bad South Africa-lensed horror flick that is full of characters you want to grab by the collar and punch in the face. A group of obnoxious overage teens, including pizza delivery boy Alden (Liam Cundill), who is on the run from drug dealers after witnessing a multiple murder in a deal gone wrong, vacation at a run-down mansion deep in (what's supposed to be) the Pacific Northwest woods. Trouble is, they are not alone in the mansion, as a notorious serial killer known as the Family Man (Ron Smerczak) has just escaped after killing everyone in the bus transporting him (including his fellow prisoners) and he has come home (the mansion was his family home before he killed them all and ten other families before being caught). Besides the nervous Alden, the rest of the cast are straight out of Stereotypes 101: English Billy Idol-wannabe Weasel (Adrian Galley); sexpot and bubblehead Libby (Debra Kaye); good girl Vickie (Michelle Constant, who has a nose as big as the great outdoors); Marty (Kurt Egelhof), a Hindi Indian who's great with electronics (aren't they all?); Vickie's unfaithful boyfriend Brian (Terence Reis); French foreign exchange student Sylvie (Dominique Moser); and plain jane Evelyn (Victoria Bawcombe). After 55 minutes of sexual hijinks, house cleaning and baseball practice (!), the Family Man finally arrives, kills Sylvie and the rest of the group go looking for her the next morning. Brian finds a room hidden behind a brick wall which contains the skeletal remains of the Family Man's family and a small fortune in money, but doesn't get a chance to tell anyone as the Family Man caves his head in with a sledgehammer. The rest of the gang bands together and, with the help of Marty's homemade weapons (including a bomb stuffed with nails and an aerosol flame thrower), try to defend themselves from the maniac. They fail, of course (he's virtually indestructable), but Alden, Vickie and Weasel manage to trap the Family Man in an abandoned well in the backyard and drop a huge propane tank on him that is detonated with the late Marty's bomb. Rest in pieces, Family Man! Directed (and co-written) by-the-numbers by John Murlowski (AMITYVILLE: A NEW GENERATION - 1993; CONTAGION - 2001), this is a slow-moving and rather bloodless slasher film. The violence is tame, as the camera tends to pull away just as it's about to get interesting. The best part is when Libby sets the Family Man's head on fire with the homemade flame thrower. Rather than running around screaming in pain, he calmly reaches for a towel, puts out the flames (his whole head is a charred mess) and shoves Libby's face into the spinning blades of a blender. What's really distracting about this whole production (besides Michelle Constant's huge honker) is that everyone talks in that English/German dialect that can only come from South Africa. Why is it set in America in the first place? When the sheriff (co-scripter Karl Johnson) says the word "peckerwood" in his fake American accent, you'll either laugh or throw your hands up in the air in disbelief. How come South African filmmakers think all Americans speak with a Southern accent and isn't this supposed to take place in the Pacific Northwest anyway? Even with his accent, Ron Smerczak is quite good as the family-hating serial killer. The problem is that director Murlowski refuses to let him go full-tilt bozo and keeps it restrained when he should be chewing up the scenery (as well as the cast). You can skip this one unless you are a slasher film completist. A Raedon Home Video Release. Not Rated.
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III (1993) - It's a rare occasion when a sequel matches or surpasses the quality of the original film and it's even rarer when a third film does the same thing. I'm glad to say RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III is that film, but with a few caveats. The original RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) is a classic gore comedy, a laugh-out-loud funny take-off of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) that works thanks to a talented cast, taut direction by Dan O'Bannon (THE RESURRECTED - 1992) and a script (also by O'Bannon) that never takes itself too seriously, but doesn't skimp on the scares. Ken Wiederhorn's RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART II (1987) is a vastly inferior sequel that's a total waste of time, as Wiederhorn's script goes the AIRPLANE (1980) route, parodying the genre with a non-stop barrage of unfunny jokes and visuals. Thankfully, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III goes in the exact opposite direction, playing everything with a deadly serious tone and not leaving room for much humor. Curt Reynolds (J. Trevor Edmond) steals his father's high security keycard and brings his girlfriend Julie (Mindy Clarke), who has an unhealthy obsession with death, to a top-secret government lab to secretly watch his father, Col. John Reynolds (Kent McCord), perform an experiment where he reanimates a corpse using the poison gas 2-4-5 Trioxin in hopes of creating the perfect undead military killing machine. When the experiment goes horribly wrong and a couple of technicians end up dead (one of them is portrayed by genre director Anthony Hickox), Col. Reynolds is immediately reassigned and must report to another base in a different state in two weeks. When he tells Curt that they will have to move yet again (being a military brat is tough), Curt rebels and takes off on hjis motorcycle with Julie as his passenger, only to end up getting into an accident where Julie slams into a telephone pole and dies. Curt gets the bright idea to bring Julie back to life using the 2-4-5 Trioxin, so he brings her back to the lab, opens a canister of the gas and revives her. He is not quite prepared to handle what he has just created. When Julie complains that she is "hungry", he brings her to a convenience store, where they run afoul of a Spanish gang led by Santos (Mike Moroff), that ends with Julie biting one of the gang members and the store manager getting shot. This sets off a series of events where Julie begins chowing-down on the brains of several people, leading Curt and Julie to escape into the sewers, where they are befriended by a crazy coot named Riverman (Basil Wallace). Santos and his gang follow them into the sewer, while Col. Reynolds is left with the chore of cleaning-up Julie's messes and containing the infectious outbreak. Julie is able to temporarily curb her hunger by self-inflicting severe pain, so she begins piercing every inch of her body with any sharp object she can find, including nails, coil springs and shards of metal and glass. She is not able to sate her appetite for very long, though, and soon begins putting the bite on everyone she runs across. Just as she is about to devour Curt, Col. Reynolds saves the day and stops her with an experimental rifle that instantly freezes the infected. Julie is brought back to the lab, where she is to be used in a new experiment conducted by Col. Reynolds' replacement, Lt. Col. Sinclair (Sarah Douglas). When Curt catches a glimpse of what is about to happen to Julie, he sets her free, which results in the entire facility going into lockdown when a horde of the infected undead are released in the melee. It all ends on a fatalistic, but fitting, note. Besides a few lapses in logic (Why in the hell would they bring Curt back to the lab and let him walk around freely?) and some hinky acting (especially by Pia Reeves, who portrays Alicia, the female member of Santos' gang), this film is a bloody good show that is bolstered immensely by Mindy (later known as Melinda) Clarke's nuanced performance as Julie. She's simply wonderful here as a girl who was clearly troubled when alive, which only makes her undead status all the more fascinating and tragic. Director Brian Yuzna (SOCIETY - 1989; THE DENTIST - 1996; PROGENY - 1998) gets a lot out of his obviously small budget, especially in the makeup effects department. People are gnawed, eaten, ripped apart (especially Santos getting his head ripped away from his body with the spinal column still attached) and shotgunned, but nothing comes close to Julie's ritualistic piercing of her entire body. It's a thing of unflinching beauty. If you want to view all this carnage, you'll have to search for a copy of Vidmark Entertainment's Unrated VHS tape (they also put out an R-rated cut, so be careful), because the DVD put out by Lionsgate Home Entertainment is the R-rated edit that omits nearly everything I have described in this review. Also starring James D. Callahan, Sal Lopez, Fabio Urena and Jill Andre. Unrated.
RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (2007) - DTV sequel to the 1999 theatrical film remake, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (one of the few modern horror films I can watch over and over and never grow tired of, thanks to Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen's acerbic performances as a husband and wife who truly love and hate each other at the same time). The only similarities between the 1999 film and its 2007 sequel are the return of Jeffrey Combs as the ghastly Dr. Vannacutt and the former insane asylum he ran, which holds the ghostly and vengeful spirits of the mental patients who died there, many at Dr. Vannacutt's hands. RETURN opens (after a lightning-fast series of edits in the opening credits showing Dr. Vannacutt being meted-out justice by his pissed-off head cases) with XTD Magazine reporter Ariel Wolfe (Amanda Righetti; FRIDAY THE 13TH - 2009), her photographer boyfriend Paul (Tom Riley), paranormal book author and college professor Richard (Steven Pacey), his assistant Kyle (Andrew Lee Potts), Michelle (Cerina Vincent; SASQUATCH MOUNTAIN - 2006) and Desmond (Erik Palladino; DEAD & BREAKFAST - 2004) investigating the mysterious death of Ariel's sister Sara (played in the 1999 film by Ali Larter), who was only one of two survivors of the original film. It seems Sara was killed by Desmond and his gang because she had Dr. Vannacutt's journal, which details the location of an ancient artifact known as Baphomet's Idol, which is highly sought after by Richard and Desmond, a former student of Richard's who now works for anyone who is the highest bidder for the idol. Sara mailed the journal to Ariel, so Desmond kidnaps her and Paul and heads for the titled house, only to find Richard and his assistants already there. The journal mentions that the idol is located in a secret room somewhere in the house's basement, so everyone agrees to split-up into groups of two (a horror plot device as old as film itself) to go look for it. As in the first film, the house goes into lockdown mode, so everyone is trapped inside and the killings begin. The first ones to die are two of Desmond's goons, Warren (Chucky Venice; WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD - 2009), who gets his guts ripped out by a ghost before being pulled through a tiny hole in the wall, and Harue (Kalita Rainford), who has her face cut off by Dr. Vannacutt (a well-done and gory effect) after being seduced by two naked female ghosts (another modern film fact: all female bad girls are lesbians). While Ariel gets psychic warnings from her dead sister and other ghosts, the killings continue, including musclebound goon Norris (Gil Kolirin), who gets drawn-and-quartered by sheets (!); goon Samuel (Andrew Pleavin), who has the top of his head removed and his brain twisted out; Kyle, who is drowned by ghosts in a basement pool; Michelle, who has a refrigerator dropped on her head; and Desmond, who is thrown in a crematorium and burned alive. Ariel finds Baphomet's Idol and she and Paul try to escape the house, while a possessed Richard, Dr. Vannacutt and the asylum's ghosts try their best to kill everyone. Like the first film, only two make it out alive. This is strictly a by-the-numbers DTV sequel, directed by Victor Garcia (who also directed the internet prequel 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: BLOOD TRAILS  for the defunct FearNet) and written by William Massa that has very little to offer storywise. The Baphomet Idol plotline is not only far-fetched (Why would Dr. Vannacutt possess such an item in the first place and where did he get it from?), the idol's powers are never fully explained. But if it's blood, guts and nudity you want, this film delivers all three in spades (much moreso than the 1999 remake). I'm also happy to report that most of the gore effects are practical in nature and CGI, while still present, isn't quite as obvious as most DTV productions. It's also apparent that this wasn't filmed in the same house as the 1999 original (this is supposed to take place in Los Angeles, but was actually filmed in Bulgaria). The original house had a personality all its own, while the house here seems more like an underground bunker than a house and besides some exterior shots of the original house and one interior set that tries to copy the first film's main room (complete with stained glass littering the floor and the table that had the miniature coffins that held the guns), it bears no resemblance to the original. Still, it's a quick 81 minutes and I've seen much worse. Stay tuned after the closing credits for a final stinger, which sets-up a sequel that takes the action away from the house. A sequel which, as of this writing, has yet to be made. RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL was the first DTV DVD released by Warner Bros. offshoot label Warner Premiere, which would later release such titles as LOST BOYS: THE TRIBE (2007) and THE HILLS RUN RED (2009). Unrated, and for good reason. NOTE: If you are going to watch this film, stay away from the version shown on cable channel American Movie Classics (AMC) since they edit out almost all of the gore and all of the nudity. This from the same channel that shows plentiful gore on their TV series THE WALKING DEAD. Go figure. NOTE #2: I have been informed by long-time reader Michael Prymula that the Blu-Ray version of this film has several alternate scenes and endings you can choose from. If that stuff interests you (since it is not available on the DVD), that may be the route you may want to take.
RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP (2008) - It's been 25 years since the infamous murder spree at Camp Arawak, committed by transgendered teen Angela Baker (Felissa Rose; CORPSES ARE FOREVER - 2003; DEAD AND GONE - 2007). Well, the camp has been reopened, renamed (to Camp Manabe) and restaffed by new owner Frank (Vincent Pastore; BLACK ROSES - 1988). Yes, it's a recipe for a new disaster. This film centers on fat, pug-nosed, loud-mouthed and repugnant camp member Alan (Michael Gibney), who doesn't get along with anyone, including the other kids in his cabin and camp counselor Randy (Brye Cooper), who seems to take pleasure in torturing Alan (It's not like Alan doesn't deserve it, though, because he's really an annoying sack of shit). When Alan goes to the camp's kitchen, run by Chef Charlie (the late Isaac Hayes in a cameo parodying his Chef character on SOUTH PARK), he gets into a fight with kitchen staffer Mickey (Lenny Vento) and almost kills Mickey by throwing a butcher knife at him. Frank wants to punish Alan, but he runs away into the woods (after calling Frank a "Big Pussy", a sly reference to Pastore's Mob nickname on THE SOPRANOS), so Frank sends Alan's half-brother Michael (Michael Werner) to go fetch him. A short time later, Mickey is dunked head-first into the deep fryer by someone wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black gloves, who then puts Mickey's body into a plastic bag and stuffs him in the trash compactor. Is it possible that Alan is the killer? Alan has the hots for female camper Karen (Erin Broderick), but fellow campers T.C. (Christopher Shand) and Bella (Shahidah McIntosh), as well as stoners Weed (Adam Wylie) and Stan (Chaz Brewer), who make Alan smoke a joint containing cow manure, are always picking on him and interrupting his romantic overtures (if you want to call them that). Later that night, the killer ties-up Weed, force-feeds him gasoline and sticks a joint in his mouth, forcing Weed to go up in flames from the inside out when the joint is lit. Is it possible Alan is the killer? Sheriff Jerry looks into the rumor that Angela Baker has escaped from the insane asylum, so he interviews Angela's brother Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten, returning from the first film), who assures the sheriff that Angela is still locked up. Alan keeps suffering humiliation after humiliation (everyone at paintball uses him as a target; Michael skins all of his pet frogs; T.C. gives him an atomic wedgie and throws him in the lake in front of all the other campers, where they learn he cannot swim; Karen tricks him into playing Spin The Bottle, only to have him appear with his pants around his ankles on the camp's stage), until he snaps and runs away. Then the killings really start. Frank has his head trapped in a birdcage while the killer sticks a rat in the cage to keep him company. Randy is tied to a tree and has his family jewels yanked-off with fishing line. Randy's girlfriend Linda (Jackie Tohn) gets a barb wire necktie. T.C. gets a sharp stick rammed through his eye and Bella dies when a bed of nails falls on her. Is Alan the real killer or is it someone else? Don't read the rest of the review if you don't want the answer. Oh my god, this is a bad film (originally lensed in 2003, but not obtaining a release until 2008), but it's bad in the best way possible. Director/screenwriter Robert Hiltzig, who performed the same duties in the original SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983; he basically ignores the two sequels, SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2: UNHAPPY CAMPERS  and SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND , both directed by Michael Simpson, as well as the unfinished third sequel, SLEEPAWAY CAMP IV: THE SURVIVOR , all available as part of Anchor Bay Entertainment's SLEEPAWAY CAMP SURVIVAL KIT DVD box set), tosses-in plenty of bad acting (Michael Gibney as Alan is so over-the-top, he transcends badness and enters a whole new plateau of "acting". Paul DeAngelo, one of the returning actors from the original film [he plays sympathetic counselor Ronnie here] proves he hasn't learned a lick of acting in 25 years) and red herrings, but the killer is so obvious, you'll have to be blind not to spot it. As soon as the character of Sheriff Jerry is introduced early in the film, it's quite plain to see that it is actress Felissa Rose under heavy makeup (a beard and a ridiculous fake nose). The fact that Sheriff Jerry can only speak with one of those electronic voice wands (supposedly because of cancer caused by smoking) is another plot device that tips its hand much too early, so when Angela finally reveals her true self in the film's closing moments (and she does the same scream she did in the finale of the first film, minus the penis shot), the only one who should be surprised is the family dog (and it would have to be one dumb dog!). I do have to say that this film does have its perverse charms and some of the effects are very gory, but this is by no means a whole-hearted recommendation on my part. It's terrible, but it wallows in its terribleness, which makes it slightly more watchable than the average badfilm. Make sure you stay until after the closing credits to see the film's bloodiest effect. Also starring Kate Simses, Jaime Radon, Paul Iacono and Jake O'Conner. A Magnolia Home Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.
REVENGE OF BILLY THE KID (1991) - Gross-out horror comedy from Britain. The MacDonald Farm (on an island that no one else lives on) is occupied by a family that can best be described as slobs and perverts, with one exception. There's hard-drinking father Gyles MacDonald (Ronald Balfour), who spits on pigs, throws buckets at chickens and takes extreme pleasure in milking the family goat every morning. And then there's the mother, Gretta MacDonald (Jackie D. Broad), an overweight sow of a woman whose missing teeth equals her IQ. Then there's their two sons, both named Ronald (Bryan Heeley and Trevor Peake), who are both so stupid, they couldn't count the fingers on one hand, even with the use of a calculator. The one exception in the MacDonald family is daughter Ronnie (Samantha Perkins), who is a bit fed up with her family's crude ways (When Granddad MacDonald [producer and co-scripter Tim Dennison] dies at the breakfast table [complete with several loud burps and farts], the Ronald brothers and Ma fight over his food and eventually dump his body on a rather large dung pile in the middle of their backyard) and yearns to get away from this slob of a family before it is too late (Dad named her Ronald, too, but she uses the name Ronnie instead). Ronnie, who is as bright as a broken light bulb, has fallen in love with a "mainlander", much to Ma's discontent (She calls Ronnie a "jezebel" for cheating on her brothers!), but Ronnie takes the rowboat to the mainland to meet her true love, Lance Abbott (Dean Williamson), whose father, Mr. Abbott (Norman Mitchell), owns the local butcher shop (Where they sell more gross items like maggots and condoms with feathers than actual meat). It seems the mainland is just as slovenly and unkempt as the MacDonald's Island, as the mainland streets are lined with drooling idiots, armless painters (a swipe at MY LEFT FOOT - 1989) and loonies of all types. Lance and Ronnie are the closest people in either place that would pass for normal, although if they were to have children, they would certainly be considered retards to even the most conservative society. Something awful happened years earlier between the MacDonald family and the mainlanders, something so bad, no one dares to talk about it, but it will never be forgotten. One day, Pa gets drunk and fucks the family goat (he took her out to pasture to stud but decided he would be the better stud instead!). A few months later, the goat gives birth to a mutant, which Pa wants to kill immediately, but Ronnie grows fond of it. She names him Billy and raises him as her pet, teaching him how to play fetch and giving him lots of love. Alas, Billy is a killer at heart and escapes from Ronnie, first eating small animals like rabbits but, as he gets bigger, Billy turns his attention to larger animals and eventually humans, starting with Granddad's rotting corpse on the dung pile. Pa grows tired of Billy's constant meddling with his still, so he knocks him out, puts him in a sack and drowns him in the ocean. Or so he thought. The rest of the film details the title of the film, as a pissed-off Billy makes life on the MacDonald's farm e-i-e-i-ouch! It's hard to grade a film like this when it is obvious director Jim Groom (ROOM 36 - 2002), who co-wrote the screenplay with Tim Dennison and Richard Mathews, wants to keep everything tongue-in-cheek, even the gore sequences. I have to admit, I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions in spite of myself. The humor here is of the lowest common denominator, but no one does this type of humor better than the British and this film won me over strictly because it doesn't pretend to cater to intellectuals. The various growth stages of Billy (listed as "Billy T. Kid" in the credits) is a hoot and a half to watch (especially Billy's inventive POV shots) and the gore is nasty and very well done. The sight gags, such as the entire MacDonald clan sleeping in the same bed; a torn EVIL DEAD poster on Lance's bedroom wall (a definite influence on this film); Pa lubing Ma with a bucket of lard before fucking her; Pa shotgunning a rooster for waking him up; and others too numerous to mention in this review, make this film move at a brisk pace. As long as you don't mind toilet humor (most of it literal toilet humor!) mixed with bloody gore, REVENGE OF BILLY THE KID is sure to get your blood pumping and give your laugh muscles a good workout. Also starring John Gugolka, John Abbott and a cameo by Hammer Films veteran Michael Ripper (this is his last film appearance) as a pub local. Never released legitimately in the U.S. on home video, you can purchase the British DVD from Medusa Pictures from most online retailers. Not Rated.
REVENGE OF THE LIVING ZOMBIES (1988) - Nearly every living dead film since NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD has followed the same formula: Something brings the dead back to life and they in turn go on to chow down and infect a group of trapped innocents. Some are done well, such as DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985). Some are okay, such as Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE (1979) and Umberto Lenzi's CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (1983). Some are bitter disappointments, such as this one (and countless others). It's a pity, too, because quadruple threat (Director, Producer, Screenwriter & Star) Bill Hinzman was also involved with the classic NIGHT, portraying the first onscreen zombie who attacks Russell Streiner and Judith O'Dea. In REVENGE, he basically plays the same role in the same makeup! A farmer unearths Hinzman's chained-up coffin and opens it, unleashing his living dead body, causing a series of zombie attacks which infects half the population of a small town on Halloween night. The rest of the film consists of people being bitten (some of the effects are bloody and well done) or of people fighting back, shooting the zombies in the head. The finale is a direct steal from NIGHT: The couple who have survived attacks throughout the film are mistaken for zombies and shot in the head by a hunting party. I was quite surprised at the high quality of the makeup effects on display here (many of the X-rated variety), but the sad fact is good effects do not make a good film. You also need a good story, professional acting and talent behind the scenes. You'll find none of that here. Hinzman, who also directed the interesting failure THE MAJORETTES (1986) and photographed the mega-bomb CAPTURED ALIVE (1995), stumbles and fumbles at every turn. There are no surprises, just telegraphed shocks that are highly unoriginal. There's an old saying that goes, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." REVENGE OF THE LIVING ZOMBIES, originally titled FLESH EATER, and also known as ZOMBIE NOSH, is just a quick means of making a fast buck. Also starring John Mowod, Leslie Ann Wick, Kevin Kindlin and James J. Rutan. A Magnum Entertainment VHS Release, who released the film in both R-Rated and Unrated editions. Available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Media Blasters. Unrated.
REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE REPORTER (1989) - Ace reporter Mike R. Wave (David Scammell) is working on a story about negligence at a nuclear power plant facility. When he confronts the board of directors of the facility about recent deaths and deformed babies being born because of radioactive leaks, he is tossed into a vat of nuclear waste where he transforms into the title creation: a hideously burned and deformed reporter in a hat and trenchcoat whose touch means instant death. Thinking Mike to be dead, the board decides to get rid of all the evidence, including Mike's fiance, Rochelle (Kathryn Boese). Easier said than done, as Rochelle has a toxic avenger protecting her. Rochelle joins forces with Mike's brother, Joe (Randy Pearlstein), to find the truth, while Mike disposes of the people responsible for his condition. This juvenile horror/comedy contains more infantile jokes than a school full of fifth grade children. Characters are given names such as Peter Spurtz, Dick Swell and Cher Noble and the jokes and one-liners are strictly sexual in nature (and you've heard them at least a hundred times before). The acting also leaves a lot to be desired, especially from Randy Pearlstein, who emotes like he is reading his lines off of cue cards. There are some good effects (face burnings, a head smashing and other body dismemberments), but the humor is so puerile that it makes Troma's THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984) seem sophisticated. Executive producer Howard Goldfarb was sentenced to six years in prison for bilking director Craig Pryce (THE DARK - 1993) and Pryceless Prods. out of more than 0,000 in distribution rights to this film. I have the feeling the wrong person went to jail. So will you after viewing this sophormoric mess. Also known as ATOMIC REPORTER. A Magnum Entertainment VHS Release. Not Rated.
RISE OF THE DEAD (2007) - After Sally Sherman (Brooke Delaney) kills her husband, Sam (Patrick Pope), with an eating utensil for seemingly no reason at all, Laura (Erin Wilk) is attacked while leaving a bar by a man (who moves in herky-jerky blurs, an editing effect I'm growing quite tired of), but Laura's boyfriend, Jack (Stephen Seidel), runs him over with a truck, killing him. How are these two murders connected? The police have a hard time believing Laura and Jack's story, since the man Jack killed was a well-respected lawyer in town. Laura is suddenly haunted by nightmares about the death of a little baby boy (the adopted son of Sally and Sam), who was tragically killed when he grabbed Sam's pistol off the coffee table and shot himself. Laura's roommate, Amber (Jaime Whitlock), is viciously stabbed to death by a stranger who breaks into their house and when Laura comes home with Jack, the stranger attacks Laura, forcing Jack to stab him in the back, killing him (Lucky for Laura that she has Jack around!). It doesn't sit too well with the police, especially Sheriff Brown (Peter Blitzer), that Laura and Jack have been involved in two deaths and when it's revealed that Sally and Sam's dead adopted son was actually Laura's illegitimate baby that she gave up for adoption, Sheriff Brown grows more suspicious of Laura, but he can't prove anything. Laura goes to stay at her mother's house (with a cop car parked outside for protection), but it's easy to see Laura and her Mom don't get along (Mom is a religious nut who got pregnant with Laura when she was sixteen). When Mom seemingly goes bonkers and tries to kill Laura and Deputy Greer (Executive Producer Chris Ferry; TRYST - 2005) with a golf club, Mom is committed to an asylum, the same institute where Sally Sherman is a patient. Sally tells Laura that her dead baby was cursed (yeah, the curse of being born a bastard!) and his ghost is possessing people to kill Laura (This is the first time Laura learns that her baby is dead). Sally also tells Laura that she must find the baby's first adoptive family to learn the truth. Deputy Greer becomes possessed by the baby and is shot dead by Sheriff Brown when he tries to strangle Laura, but when the Sheriff becomes possessed by the baby from Hell immediately after Greer's death, Laura is going to have to find the first adoptive family as quickly as possible. Laura finds them, Barbara and Hank Clemens (Emily Ackerman and Doug Sobon), only to discover that they are so uber-religious, they were deemed to be unfit parents. They cursed the baby as it was taken away from them and it seems the curse stuck. Laura and Jack must find a way to lift the curse and put the baby boy to rest before anyone remotely close to Laura ends up possessed or dead. How Laura does this is one of the worst "What The Fuck?!?" moments I have ever witnessed. This ultra-low-budget horror film (originally filmed on a budget of ,000 as TANTRUM and also known as GHOST BABY), directed by first-timer William Wedig and scripted by Joshua & Jeffrey Crook (directors/writers of SALVAGE , also starring Chris Ferry) and Kris Scotto, has a few effective scenes but is otherwise a pretty laughable affair. Especially funny is the way all those people possessed by the dead baby begin drooling from their mouths and dripping snot from their noses while making "goo-goo" and "ga-ga" noises on the badly overdubbed soundtrack. While there are a few bloody moments (a couple of gory stabbings) and instances of female nudity (including the obligatory shower scene), the premise is so ludicrous, it's hard to take anything seriously, which I doubt was the objective of the filmmakers. By the time we get to the outrageous finale, where Laura makes love to a possessed Jack (thereby fucking her own baby!) in order to plant her baby's seed into her to get pregnant, you'll either be throwing your hands up in the air in disgust or laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. I chose to laugh, because it is obvious that director Wedig and the screenwriters were trying to makle a statement about the insanity of religion (all the religious people in this film are either hypocrites or full-blown nut jobs), but they failed miserably. What they did do was make a 72 minute unintentional comedy about a killer baby ghost. Think about that for a minute. Is a baby even mentally capable to understand the complex mechanizations that is possession? Also starring Vickie Meyers (who died shortly after this film was finished), Matt Regney and Jack Gordon as Cade, the killer baby. A Lionsgate Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.
THE RITUAL OF DEATH (1990) - Incomprehensible Brazilian horror film about ancient Indian curses, human sacrifices and gory deaths. After a lecture by a professor on Egyptian and Indian rituals, male student Brad (Olair Coan) follows a sinister looking man (Sergio Hingst), who is wearing a bowler hat and walking with a cane, to the basement of a lecture hall, where he observes a group of Indians performing a human sacrifice on a stone altar. The sinister man tells Brad that he must find "the book", which the man holds in his deformed, green pus-oozing, hand. The man then disappears, taking the book with him, while Brad is grabbed by the sacrificed man and the Indians before they, too, disappear, leaving Brad by himself in an empty basement. Brad's friend Jim (Michael Kelly) wants to stage a play about how the ancient Egyptians influenced the Indians, but first he and Brad must find a way to steal an old manuscript from an elderly man (Serafim Gonzalez) in the school's library. Jim sends Brad, his girlfriend Carol (Carina Palatinik) and friend Mickey (Tiao Hoover) to steal the manuscript from the library and they do, but Brad is surprised to learn that it is actually the book that the sinister man was holding in his oozing hands. When Mickey opens the book, we watch as a naked couple make love in a bathtub while rubbing the blood of a decapitated goat's head on their bodies (What The Fuck?!?). During rehearsals for the play, Brad becomes distant to Carol and he refuses to make love to her (Carol retorts, "Go easy, sweetheart! I might just get tired of you!"). Brad begins to act strangely, like eating raw meat in his bedroom of his alcoholic mother's home and worshipping at a makeshift altar that contains candles, a goat's head (again?) and live frogs. When Brad almost strangles a girl during rehearsal in front of the play's sponsors, they pull their sponsorship, which infuriates Jim. Brad begins to have nightmares of the naked couple in the bathtub and of his face breaking out in gooey pustules. The elderly librarian has the police return the stolen book to him, but a now totally possessed Brad (whose skin has broken out in boils and green ooze drips from his mouth) steals the book back again and goes on a murder spree, killing Jim (by drowning him in a bathtub and ripping out his eyes) and a streetwalker who worked as an extra on the play (he stabs her repeatedly in the stomach and then some huge wheel appears out of nowhere and runs her over!). Brad begins murdering everyone involved with the play, while we discover that the sinister man was actually Jim's Uncle Parker, who was once the leader of a cult that practiced human sacrifice before he and his cult were killed. Uncle Parker is using Brad to bring him back to life, while the elderly librarian tries to help Mickey and Carol, the last survivors of the play, to defeat the evil in Brad. Can they do it before it is too late? If you thought the films of Jose Mojica Marins (a.k.a. "Coffin Joe") were disjointed and confusing, just wait until you take a gander at this train wreck, directed by Fauzi Mansur (SATANIC ATTRACTION - 1989) and written by Filipe Grecco and Anthony Roark. While the film is gory as hell, including a knife impalement in the mouth, disembowelments by hammer, a wind machine chopping a guy to pieces after Brad throws acid in his face, a spike driven into a woman's chin, a spear impalement and all of Brad's victims returning to life as zombies, the rest of the film is a bloody mess, as the dubbing and dialogue are simply horrendous (while most of the actors look as though they are speaking English, the actual dubbing sounds like it was recorded inside of a tin can) and the story makes about as much sense as a fever dream. Add to it editing that is downright hectic and acting that can best be described as amateurish (both Leo Robinson as the head police officer and Mara Husemann as Brad's drunk mother are so bad they become mesmerizing in their awfulness) and what you end up with is a film that can best be described as a gorehound's delight, but very little else. It's weird, I'll give it that, but weirdness without purpose loses its appeal mighty fast. Also starring Lillian Ramos, Vanessa Alves, Graca Costas, Ana Flora, Eduardo Panizza, Alfredo Gonzalez, Leticia Vota and Josie Bernades. Originally available on VHS by Complete Entertainment, Inc. and not available on DVD, but there are plenty of gray market sellers offering it on DVD-R. Not Rated.
ROCKTOBER BLOOD (1984) - Another turgid 80's stalk 'n' slash flick with a rock 'n' roll band as a backdrop, just as with TERROR ON TOUR (1980), HARD ROCK ZOMBIES (1985), ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE (1987), BLACK ROSES (1988) and many others. After a late night recording session, lead singer Billy Harper (Tray Loren) begins killing the technicians and groupies (slit throat, impalement on coat hooks) and is caught and executed after killing 25 people. Two years pass and former backup singer and now lead singer Lynn Starling (Donna Scoggins), whose testimony led to Billy's execution, has reformed the band, renamed it Headmistress and they are about to headline a huge rock tour. A person dressed as Death corners Lynn backstage and when he takes the mask off, it turns out to be Billy, who says, "I'm back!" Her manager, Chris (Nigel Benjamin), doesn't believe her and tells her to go to a secluded cabin in the woods with some backup dancers to relax before the tour starts. Bad idea. Lynn (who was under psychiatric care after witnessing Billy's first murder spree) begins getting obscene phone calls from Billy ("I want your hot pussy blood all over my face!") and sees him lurking in the woods, but no one believes her. Billy then kills everyone at the cabin, hides their bodies and terrorizes Lynn, leading her to accidentally stab Chris (he survives). Chris thinks Lynn is going crazy, especially when she wants to dig up Billy's body to prove he's still alive. She goes to the grave with Chris and Honey Bear (Cana Cockrell) and they find his rotting corpse in the coffin. So, is Lynn crazy or not? If not, who is this person killing all these people? You will find out on the opening night of the tour. It seems that Billy had a twin brother named John and he killed all those people two years earlier. Lynn sent the wrong man to his death. Now, John has come back and is chasing Lynn backstage, trying to tell her that he actually wrote all the songs, not Billy, and he's not happy with her performance of them (neither am I). It's going to be a killer opening show. This is one of a slew of regional films made by husband/wife team of Ferd and Beverly Sebastian (GATOR BAIT - 1973; BLOODY FRIDAY - 1973; FLASH AND THE FIRECAT - 1975 and many more). They usually co-directed all their features together, except for this one (Beverly directed it alone. They both co-produced and scripted.), which could explain why it's worse than most of their other films. The acting in this one is especially sub-par, as no one here could act their way out of a paper bag, but at least Donna Scoggins gets naked often (and looks good, too). The kills are rather tame and bloodless, consisting of a drowning in a hottub, a steam iron to the throat and a stabbing. The bloodiest part of the film is the concluding concert, where John dons the Death disguise, sings a song ("There's A Killer On The Loose") and actually disembowels one dancer with a lance and beheads another while the audience screams with delight, thinking it's part of the stage show. Things get surreal when John unmasks himself onstage, handcuffs himself to Lynn and the band plays on as if everything is normal! The only plus is that Tray Loren looks like he's actually singing (he's not) and the band (actually members of Sorcery of STUNT ROCK fame) is actually playing live (they are). The songs aren't really that bad if you compare them to the songs in other films of this sub-genre. The film has a non-ending, as it freezes on John's face when he sings the final song ("I'm Back"). Proceed at your own risk. Also starring Renee Hubbard, Tony Rista and Ben Sebastian (I smell nepotism!). Also known as ROCKILL. A Vestron Video Release. Rated R.
ROUTE 666 (2001) - I have to admit: I was expecting a lot more from this one than what I got. It is the first film from director William Wesley since 1988's SCARECROWS. It has a novel idea that concerns four convicts, murdered 30 years ago and buried under the titled roadway, who appear when they smell blood and slaughter people with jackhammers, picks and sledgehammers. And it stars Lou Diamond Phillips, Lori Petti, Steven Williams, Dale Midkiff and L.Q.Jones. So what is wrong with this picture? For starters, the characters are so totally unbelievable that I stared in utter amazement watching people do things that no normal person would ever dream of doing in the same situation. Phillips and Petti are Special Agents assigned to bring captured witness Williams ( "X" on THE X-FILES) to L.A. to testify in a mobster's trial. They, along with Agents Midkiff (NIGHTMARE WEEKEND - 1985; PET SEMATARY - 1989), Alex McArthur (RAMPAGE - 1988) and Mercedes Colon, take the titled shortcut to make up lost time and run smack dab into the aforementioned dead convicts, one of whom happens to be Phillips' dead father! How's that for coincidences? They are also being chased buy a Russian hitman (Sven-Ole Thorsen of THE RUNNING MAN ) and the Sheriff (Jones of THE WITCHMAKER ) who murdered and buried the convicts 30 years earlier. Every time blood is spilled the dead ones show up to pummel, hack and jackhammer in graphic detail the hapless victims. The whole film seems rather disjointed, like chunks of the screenplay were tossed out the window in favor of action. That would all be fair and good except the action scenes are so lazily shot (with what I call "shaken camera syndrome") and edited (one wooden crate explodes three times in one gunfight scene!!!) that one wishes that there were a coherent story to go along with this mess. How can you justify the scene of McArthur and Colon making out in their SUV while their charge is hancuffed to a car in the blistering heat? Or how about when Midkiff gets drunk waiting for backup? Professionals would never do this. Williams overacts to the point that you want to bitch-slap his ass (he does get in a sly X-FILES reference, though). Phillips underacts (even worse than his performance in BATS - 1999) and Petti, well, let's just say Petti is being Petti. On the plus side, there's the convicts themselves, a frightening concoction of burnt, cracked skin and lethal silent fury. There's also some nice desert scenery, an abandoned drive-in, some decent (if somewhat quick) gore and a strange final scene between Phillips and his dead father. It's also good to see L.Q. Jones back on the screen. He always lends an air of professionalism to everything he's in. One only hopes director Wesley picks a better script (he co-wrote this one) and doesn't wait another 13 years before he makes another movie. It seems he got rusty in between films. Better luck next time. A Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.
THE RUINING (1993/1997) - You know you're in for trouble when Troma President Lloyd Kaufman comes on screen and apologizes for the condition of the print that is about to be shown on their DVD. He's absolutely correct. It's scratchy, choppy, missing a lot of frames and the sound is mixed all wrong (all the sound comes from the back speakers on a Dolby system). He also should have warned you that the film itself is also a stinker that, besides a couple of scenes, is not worth the plastic it's pressed on. Two obnoxious couples become stuck in a hicktown after one of them accidentally shoots their SUV with a gun. They run into a farmer (Robert Silverman of SCANNERS - 1981) and his retarded adopted daughter Becky (who acts like a dog), who the farmer found 17 years earlier abandoned in a burlap sack, the product of an incestuous relationship. The farmer also sells the town psychedelic eggs, laid by a special chicken which cause the eaters to experience acid trips filled with strange visuals (including a mutated chicken hatching from a giant egg). The town is absolutely hooked on the eggs and are surprised when the two couples don't order eggs with their beers when at the bar! Not much of the rest of the films makes much sense as the couples bicker and cheat on each other, two are killed (one of the men smears peanut butter on his dick and has Becky lick it off until it goes too far and she ends up biting it off!), there's a barn full of body parts and the ending makes absolutely no sense. Director/writer/star Chris Burgard (who usually acted in films such as SYNGENOR - 1990) started this film in 1993 and had to halt production because one of the producers ran off with the money. He resumed over four years later with the same cast (it's obvious that some of them gained weight and lost some hair) and hasn't been able to get it released until 2004, thanks to Troma, who'll release anything. The DVD case states that the film stars Wings Hauser and Patrick Warburton. Hauser shows up in one scene playing a parody of himself and punches a local punk out when he calls him David Hasselhoff! Warburton shows up in one scene as a patron of the local strip bar. Nobody ever accused Troma of truth in advertising. The presentation of the film is nearly unwatchable in the state it is offered here but I doubt that all the restoration in the world would make this a better film. It does try to be something different but fails on all levels. It ruined my evening. A Troma DVD Release filled with their usual bunch of trailers, music videos, fake PSA's and a short behind the scenes documentary on the film. It's actually more interesting than the film itself. Not Rated.
SATANIC (2005) - Teenage miscreant Michelle (Annie Sorell) causes a car accident, which kills her father and sends her to the hospital with severe facial injuries. Dr. Barbary (Angus Scrimm; PHANTASM - 1979) drills a hole in Michelle's head to relieve the pressure when she starts to bleed profusely and he jokingly tells Michelle that in the Dark Ages, doctors performed the same procedure to release evil spirits from possessed peoples' bodies (Michelle then strangely asks, "Are they gone...the spirits?"). Michelle has no recollection of the car accident, but she does see the spirit of her eyeless father at the most inopportune times, as he pleads, "Why did you hurt her and why did you kill me?" Over the next couple of months, Dr. Barbary reconstructs Michelle's face with plastic surgery based on photos from her family album (hospital janitor Cliff [Mike Gaglio] calls her "Bride of Mummy" because of her bandaged face and she seems to scare him more than anything else he has ever seen in this hospital) and when the bandages are finally removed from her face, she is beautiful but she doesn't recognize her face in the mirror. When the Sheriff's Department finally releases her personal effects from the accident, one of the items is an evil-looking ouija board with a satanic-shaped planchette (a five-pointed star), which somehow flashes long-dormant memories into Michelle's mind as soon as she sees it. Later that night, some gloved figure kills Cliff and steals his keys, which brings Detective Joyner (Jeffrey Combs; THE HORROR STAR - 1981) to the hospital to investigate. Since Michelle has no living family, she is sent to Harmony Home, a halfway house for troubled, criminal and orphaned teens run by Mr. Bisson (the late Rick Dean; RAIDERS OF THE SUN - 1991; in his final role) and his wife Jackie (Diane Ayala Goldner). Mr. Bisson informs Michelle that she use to be a good girl, but when her mother died of cancer and her father started dating again soon after, she tried to stab her father's new girlfriend with a big-assed knife (Michelle has no recollection of this ever happening). Mr. Bisson allows Michelle to enter her father's house to pick up some personal items and Michelle discovers that her bedroom is decorated with all sorts of black magic items. Mr. Bisson finds a diary in her bedroom that is decorated with the satanic star and he even steals her pot stash! At Harmony House, Michelle meets troubled teens Dutch (Brian Burnett), Larry (Brett Erickson), Dalia (Eliza Swenson) and the uber-religious Jackie, who warns Michelle to stay away from her husband. Mr. Bisson likes to talk about going to strip clubs, sex and is possibly a rapist (He tells his wife, "Remember, they dropped the charges."). Michelle has more nightmares about her eyeless father (his body is now covered in leeches) and pretty soon a black-hooded figure begins dispatching the residents of Harmony House, making the deaths look like suicide. Larry becomes rightfully concerned and picks up an important clue from Dr. Barbary, while Michelle is chased around by bum Eddie (James Russo), who asks her, "What have you done with Kayla?" The totally not-unexpected finale answers that question. This is standard DTV horror fodder whose punch line can be guessed almost from the opening scene. Director Dan Golden, who showed much promise with his first film, NAKED OBSESSION (1990), but then seemed to lose it with films like BURIAL OF THE RATS (1995) and THE HAUNTED SEA (1997), doesn't even try to mask the "surprise" ending in this film. The screenplay, by first-timer Ben Powell, is full of stock, clichéd characters, including horny, wise-assed teens, a plot we all have seen a hundred times before (including using a ouija board to contact the dead and making Jackie such a drunk, religious nut that Dalia calls her "Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS" [I'm not a religious person, but portraying the ultra-religious as drunks is quite unfair and common in horror films]) and plot holes you could navigate a cruise ship through (For example: Why didn't Jackie confiscate the ouija board when she removed all of Michelle's other possessions? You would think the God-fearing Jackie would have tossed it in the garbage as soon as she saw the satanic symbols. And why does Michelle decide to take a shower after just discovering the butchered bodies of Mr. Bisson, Jackie and Dutch? How stupid do you think we viewers are?). The only person who registers here is Rick Dean (who died shortly after completing this film). He plays the role of Mr. Bisson as such a flawed character, you can't help but like him, even if he is a horndog. Everyone else, including Angus Scrimm, Jeffrey Combs and a cameo by James Russo (FREEWAY - 1988) are wasted in thankless, stereotyped roles. While there is a flash of female nudity and a modicum of blood and gore, SATANIC stacks up as nothing by a generic horror flick that offers nothing new to the genre, including a "surprise" ending (just after an awfully choreographed catfight) that leaves the film wide-open for a sequel that, thankfully, hasn't materialized yet. A Lionsgate Entertainment DVD Release. Rated R.
SATAN'S BABY DOLL (1982) - At the wake of Maria Aguilar (Marina Hedman), family and staff stand solemnly around her body when it suddenly sits upright, scaring the shit out of her daughter Miria (Jacqueline Dupre). The family doctor, Juan Suarez (Alfonso Gaita), explains to husband Antonio (Aldo Sambrell) that his dead wife's movement was nothing but a muscle spasm, but Antonio (who is a intravenous drug user) believes his wife was trying to tell Miria her secrets. While Antonio is shooting-up in his bedroom, his paraplegic wheelchair-bound mute brother, Ignazio (Joe Davers), is watching housekeeper (and soon-to-be nun) Sol (Mariangela Giordino) masturbate in her bed. When Antonio catches Ignazio getting an eyefull, he takes out his frustrations on Sol instead, berating her for performing such lewd acts. While Miria is lying in her bed, she hears her mother's voice calling her, so she goes down to the crypt in the cavernous basement, where she spots butler Isidro (Giancarlo Del Duca) geeking a chicken and she sees her dead mother's nude body open her eyes. Miria is convinced her mother wants to tell her something, but Dr. Suarez wants to put her in a psychiatric hospital instead. Before he is able to do so, Dr. Suarez has a heart attack in the crypt when he imagines that Maria (who was once his lover) has come back to life (And just what was the good doctor about to do with that huge hypodermic needle?). The ironfisted Antonio orders Isidro to hide the doctor's body in the castle's vast dungeon crypt and warns Sol to keep her mouth shut. Isidro performs another ritual in the crypt using a mummified corpse, which makes Miria masturbate in her bedroom and then again hear her mother's voice, who orders her to "kill mercilessly" everyone in the castle. Isidro is the first to die when the mummified corpse seemingly comes to life and strangles him while a possessed Miria stares into his eyes. Ignazio is the next to die when he also seemingly gets up from his wheelchair and falls into an open crypt. After Antonio shoots-up again, he imagines making love to Maria, only to realize a short time later that he's making love to his own daughter. He backs away in disgust and falls down a stairwell, killing himself. The last one left is Sol, who goes down to the crypt, lies naked on top of Maria's body and is crushed to death when Maria gives her a dealdy bearhug. With Miria the only person left alive (and the only truly innocent one), Maria can now rest in peace. This sleazy Italian/Spanish co-production doesn't make much sense, but it sure ain't boring. Director Mario Bianchi (THE BLACK MAID - 1976; THE MURDER SECRET - 1989), here using the pseudonym "Alan W. Cools", ladles on the sex and sleaze, including full-frontal male and female nudity, including a scene where Sol gives Ignazio a spongebath and spends most of the time with her hands on his penis. While it's clear that there's a lot of dark secrets in the Aguilar family (The question soon becomes, "Who didn't sleep with Maria?"), the biggest monster turns out to be the impotent Antonio, who finds great pleasure in bullying his family and staff, repeatedly calling them "wretched" and "nothing". Aldo Sambrell's (VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST - 1972; BEAKS: THE MOVIE - 1987) performance is the best this film has to offer. The scene where he is wheeling his helpless brother down to the crypt to die is chilling. As the camera, mounted to the bottom of the wheelchair and pointing up, looks into the faces of both Antonio and Ignazio, Antonio calmly and slowly pushes the wheelchair down to the crypt, all the while telling his brother how he is going to die of starvation while covered in his own excrement, unable to move or scream out for help. It's the film's standout sequence. While there's not much in the way of blood or gore, the tone of the film is relentlessly perverse, as well as sexy. At a little over 73 minutes long, it doesn't wear out it's welcome and you won't go longer than five minutes without seeing some eye-opening nudity. What more do you want? This film (a semi-remake of Andrea Bianchi's [no relation] MALABIMBA ) was also shot as a hardcore sex film (under the title ORGASMO DI SANTANA). That could explain BABY's short running time, but whoever edited this version did a masterful job because there are no jump cuts or obvious edits. Originally released in the U.S. in a severely-edited cut under the title A GIRL FOR SATAN. Now available in an uncut, widescreen print on DVD in the original Italian language with English subtitles under the title LA BIMBA DI SANTANA from Severin Films. Not Rated, but it goes way beyond an R-Rating.
SATAN'S BLACK WEDDING (1975) - A vampire priest (!) drools on himself as he watches a beautiful woman slash herself to death with a razor blade in her house in Monterey, California. Her actor brother arrives from Hollywood for her funeral. He stays at her house and meets a police detective who tells him he thinks it wasn't suicide. Her third finger of the left hand was cut off and there wasn't a drop of blood in her body. The detective says that there have been a series of similar mutilations in the area where the victims were found clutching pieces of black cloth which dates back 200 years. The vampire priest brings Sis back to life and instructs her to kill her entire family. She starts with her invalid aunt and her housekeeper. Brother finds a manuscript Sis was working on entitled "High Satanic Rites" which leads him to the church where the vampire priest resides. He learns that Satan appeared at the church hundreds of years ago and converted the priests and nuns to his side. Satan plans for the brother to marry his sister to produce an offspring that will take over the world.This awful amateurish production looks arid sounds like a porno movie without the nudity or sex. Jumpy editing, terrible music, atrocious acting and bad makeup effects are all this film has to offer. Thankfully it is only 60 minutes long. When I rented this turkey the leader snapped off the take-up reel. Maybe someone was trying to tell me something. I shouldn't have fixed it. Director Philip Miller is actually entepreneur Steve Millard. You may know him better as Nick Phillips, director of the ultra-cheap cult films CRIMINALLY INSANE (1975), the sequel CRAZY FAT ETHEL II (1987) and DEATH NURSE (1987) all starring the overweight and extremely ugly Pricilla Alden. SATAN'S BLACK WEDDING stars Greg Braddock, Ray Myles and Lisa Milano. I doubt you have ever seen them in anything else. A World Video Pictures VHS Release. Also available on DVD with CRIMINALLY INSANE and its sequel from Retro Shock-O-Rama/E.I. Independent Cinema. Rated R.
SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER (2004) - When director Jeff Lieberman releases a new film, you tend to sit up and take notice. Having directed such quirky films as SQUIRM (1976), BLUE SUNSHINE (1977), JUST BEFORE DAWN (1980) and his most recent film before this, REMOTE CONTROL (1987), Lieberman has always been a director involved in creating some of the most watchable films in the genre. This one is no different. Little Douglas Whooly (Alexander Brickel) is hooked on a video game called Satan's Little Helper, where the onscreen computer character helps Satan by kicking dogs, running over old ladies and generally causing mayhem wherever he goes. Doug is so involved in this game that he dresses up in a Devil's costume for Halloween, the day this story takes place. He, along with his mother (the always welcome and loopy Amanda Plummer), go to meet his collegiate sister Jenna (Katheryn Winnick) who is visiting their island community by ferry. Doug loves his sister and wants to marry her when he grows up (leading to a funny incest remark by Plummer who is talking to a friend on the phone) and especially loves going trick or treating with her. When Jenna shows up with new boyfriend Alex (Stephen Graham) in tow, Doug grows despondent and tries to find a way to get rid of Alex. While walking down the street, Doug sees a serial killer in a Satan costume (it's a great get-up) killing a neighbor and setting the body up as a Halloween decoration. Thinking that the costumed killer is the actual Satan and that all this is play-acting, Doug bonds with the serial killer and they go off on a murder spree. Doug thinks he is Satan's Little Helper and that everything that is happening is fake. Along the way, many mistaken identities are to be had, some funny and some downright dreadful. To give away any more of the plot would be destroying the viewer's enjoyment of this extremely black-humored film. There are a few great setpieces, one concerning a black cat (it's a jolt), another relating to Doug's dad (Wass Stevens) when Doug realizes that this is no joke and another that takes place during an adult Halloween party in a castle (where a reveler can be seen in a mask with worms coming out of it; a small salute to Wormface in SQUIRM). Amanda Plummer really shines in her role as the mother. It's quite remarkable how much she loves her kids and accepts them unconditionally, even when her daughter brings an uninvited guest. It's also commendable that she's open about her pot use and mentions getting stoned on several occasions. She's just generally a nice person who gets caught up in one of the worst days of her life (I'll never look at packing tape the same way again). Though gory in spots, this film relies more on humor and family relationships (including Alex's abusive father, who also happens to live on this island) to get it's point across. There's also a great scene where the serial killer trades his Satan costume for something more appropriate after shooting himself through the palm of his hand. Left wide open for a sequel, let's hope Jeff Lieberman doesn't wait another 17 years before making his next genre film. A Screen Media Films Release. Rated R.
SATAN'S SLAVE (1982) - The press materials say that this is an Indonesian version of PHANTASM (1979) but, truth be told, it's not, although I do see many references to other horror films of the period (including a scene stolen directly from SALEM'S LOT  in the film's opening minutes). After the death of their mother, a family begins to experience some supernatural occurrences, which may be tied to a family curse. Teenage son Tommy Munarto (Fahrul Rozi) wakes up one night to discover the decomposing corpse of his mother floating outside his bedroom window, calling for him to come outside and join her. Older sister Rita (Ruth Pellupessy; THE SNAKE QUEEN - 1982) witnesses Tommy walking outside, but fails to mention it to her father (W.D. Mochtar; MYSTICS IN BALI - 1981) the next morning at breakfast because she doesn't want to upset him. Tommy begins acting strangely, so some of his friends tell him to go to a fortuneteller for some help. He does and the fortuneteller doesn't like what the cards tell her, so she tells Tommy to protect himself using black magic, especially whenever he sees a coffin. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as Tommy walks out of the fortuneteller's home, a hearse pulls to the side of the road and several pallbearers pull out a coffin, with the head pallbearer pointing directly at Tommy, as if to say, "Climb on in!" (This is the only scene that resembles PHANTASM in any way). Tommy begins performing black magic rituals in his bedroom, which worries Rita, especially when she begins receiving phone calls where a female voice asks, "Is this Tommy's house?", the doorbell rings and no one is there and Tommy begins getting nosebleeds. Dad decides the kids need a housekeeper and hires Ms. Darminah (Diana Suarkom), who shows up late one night, seemingly out of nowhere. It soon becomes apparent that Ms. Darminah is the housekeeper from Hell, as she begins controlling the Munarto household, especially Tommy, who has a nightmare in which Ms. Darminah and some rubber mask-wearing Satanists sacrifice him on an altar. As the bodies begin piling up, a white witch doctor is called in to perform an exorcism on the Munarto home, but Ms. Darminah's black powers prove to be too strong. When the bodies of the recently deceased rise from their graves and lay siege to the Munarto household, a priest enters the picture and uses the power of faith to destroy Ms. Darminah and her satanic meat puppets. Praise be to Allah! This Indonesian horror film, directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra (PRIMITIVES - 1978; THE WARRIOR - 1981; HUNGRY SNAKE WOMAN - 1987; REVENGE OF SAMSON - 1987) is much more laid-back than most Indonesian horror flicks and has a much stronger religious subtext, too. That's not to say that this film is boring, because it's not. It's just that it lacks the non-stop weirdness that we've come to expect from films of this type. SATAN'S SLAVE (not to be confused with the 1976 British horror film of the same name, directed by Norman J. Warren) takes it's time to get to the payoff, borrowing themes from THE EXORCIST (1973), THE OMEN (1976) and countless haunted house thrillers, to tell it's story about family loss and the faith they must put in God (in this case, Allah) to defeat all the supernatural events happening in their home. There are still plenty of atmospheric chills on view, including the nocturnal visit Mom pays to Tommy; a visit to a morgue, where Rita must identify the body of her boyfriend Herman, who was killed in a motorcycle accident caused by Ms. Darminah; Tommy's nightmare of being sacrificed; the undead Herman (who, for some reason, is now a vampire with big-ass fangs) as he attacks Rita in her home; and many other sequences. Be forewarned: Those looking for the sheer lunacy of films like THE WARRIOR or THE DEVIL'S SWORD (1984) will be severely disappointed, but those adventurous enough willing to view SATAN'S SLAVE on it's own terms may just find themselves liking it. The script, by Putra, Imam Tantoni (THE WARRIOR AND NINJA - 1985) and Naryono Prayitno (THE HUNGRY SNAKE WOMAN - 1987), saves most of the bloody action for the finale, which involves grave robbing, zombies, rotting flesh being pulled off the bone and religious retribution. Also starring Simon Kader, I.M. Damsyik, Doddy Sukma, Siska Karabety, Adang Mansiur, Ali Albar and Moesdewyk. The widescreen print used for both Deimos Entertainment's Eastern Horror Vol. 4 (with CORPSE MASTER - 1987) and BCI's Eastern Horror Advantage Collection 10 Movie Set seems to be missing some picture information on the bottom third of the screen, probably masked-out to cover up foreign subtitles. New English subtitles are now in it's place. Not Rated.
SAVAGE INTRUDER (1968) - This low-budget horror variant of SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950) and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) opens with a long shot of the world-famous Hollywood sign, only to reveal, a few second later, the same sign in extreme close-up, decaying and full of holes. It's a terrific metaphor on how looks can be deceiving; especially when it pertains to people and the masks they wear to hide their inner demons. It seems someone is carving-up middle-aged women and carefully placing their body parts around Los Angeles (In the opening, we see a woman's dismembered head lying in the middle of her dismembered hands and feet directly under the Hollywood sign), leaving the police baffled as to the killer's motive. We then watch the killer (he wears an overcoat, a big-rimmed fedora and sunglasses to hide his face) following a middle-age bar floozy home, where he hits her over the head with a lead pipe and then begins dismembering her body with an electric carving knife, part of his killing kit that he carries with him in a backpack. When the poor woman wakes up (while he's cutting off her hand!), the killer finishes her off with a meat cleaver. We then switch to drifter Vic (John David Garfield; THE STEPMOTHER - 1972) hitching a ride on the back of a Movieland Tour bus (the bus driver is short-lived Three Stooges member Joe Besser). He jumps off at the mansion of aging alcoholic ex-movie star Katherine Parker (Miriam Hopkins; DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE - 1931), who has just broken her leg after taking a drunken stumble down her mansion's spiral staircase. Vic immediately ingratiates himself into the Parker household, including maid Mildred (Florence Lake), whom he introduces himself to as "Laurel N. Hardy" (!), and Miss Parker's stern manager Leslie (Gale Sondergaard; THE BLACK CAT - 1941), who begrudgingly gives him a job as Miss Parker's nursemaid. Vic soon becomes Miss Parker's closest confidant, much to the dismay of Leslie and the rest of the staff, who have been with her for years but have never been treated as well as she treats Vic. When it's revealed that Vic's a habitual drug abuser and has frequent flashbacks about his childhood, where he watches his mother willingly being gang-banged by four sweaty men before she has her hand chopped-off by someone swinging a hatchet, it becomes quite reasonable for the viewer to assume that Vic is the serial killer on the loose. Miss Parker's cook, Greta (Virginia Wing), becomes pregnant by Vic, only to end up chopped into little pieces by someone wielding a meat cleaver. It turns out, as no surprise, that Vic is quite mad, and when Miss Parker grows suspicious of his motivations, he kills her, replaces her with a mannequin and takes over the mansion, not allowing anyone to talk to or visit "Miss Parker". As the rest of the staff also grow suspicious, Vic kills them one-by-one until he is left alone in the mansion, where he is able to relive and reboot his childhood. Only this time, he's in control. This swinging 60's horror film, full of hippie dialogue, fashions and freak-out sequences, not to mention some surprisingly graphic bits of gore (all with that bright, almost neon, red blood that that era was so fond of), is a good time capsule of when horror films actually told a coherent (if freaky) story to go along with the scares. Triple threat director/producer/scripter Donald Wolfe (who never directed another film, although he was an editor on such films as THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS ) offers a fascinating glimpse of two distinctly different lifestyles facing each other head-on: The Old Guard, represented by Katherine Parker, who still dreams of making a comeback film (she sometimes drunkenly hallucinates about it, which leads to her broken leg), not knowing that her career is nothing but a footnote to most people (At one party thrown at her house by Vic, a midget offers her cocaine [She replies, "The only trips I go on are the nostalgic kind!"] and a young woman sarcastically asks her if she appeared in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN); and the New Guard, represented by Vic, who believes sex, drugs and taking advantage of an old woman's weaknesses is all he needs to survive. Miriam Hopkins (this is her last film; she passed away in 1972 of a heart attack) is terrific as Miss Parker, who relives her past successes with a combination of alcohol and watching her old films in a screening room in her mansion (using actual footage of some of Miriam Hopkins' old films). She even does a brief topless scene! John David Garfield (the son of actor John Garfield) is equally as good as the murderous, opportunistic Vic, who has yet to meet anyone he can't deceive or murder when his fragile psyche is exposed. The supporting cast of film veterans also raises this film a notch or two above the norm and help move this film to it's graphic conclusion. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this film, especially since it is steeped in drug and alcohol abuse and yet turns out to be a sobering experience. Also starring Lester Mathews, Riza Royce and Minta Durfee. Originally released on VHS by Unicorn Video. The version I watched, under the title HOLLYWOOD HORROR HOUSE (it is also known as THE COMEBACK), was sourced from a beat-up 16mm print that only adds to the ambiance. Now available on DVD under the title HOLLYWOOD HORROR HOUSE from Full Moon Video, but be aware that the DVD was taken from less than pristine sources so you may want to hold on to your Unicorn VHS. If sales are good enough, they will look for a pristine 35 mm source and repress the DVD. So what happens to the people who bought the inferior version? That's Full Moon for you. Rated R.
SAVAGE ISLAND (2003) - Steven and Julia (Steven Man and Kristina Copeland), along with their newborn baby, travel to her father's remote island for some rest and relaxation. Julia's brother Peter (Brendan Beiser), picks them up and accidentally hits a small boy, the son of a family of inbred squatters, led by the demented Eliah Savage (Winston Rekert of ETERNAL EVIL - 1985). Julia's father Keith (Don S. Davis of STARGATE SG-1) plans on turning the island into a resort paradise and is trying to get rid of the squatters. Eliah finds his dying son (he snaps his neck to finish the job) and demands that Keith give him Steven and Julia's baby as a trade-off. Keith, of course, refuses and runs off Eliah and his wife (Lindsay Jameson) with a pistol. The Savages kidnap Peter (after he digs up the Savage's dead son), cut out his tongue and offer him as trade for the baby. Keith and Steven go looking for Peter, only to have the Savage gang attack Julia and her mom (Beverly Breuer), killing mom by repeatedly stabbing her with butcher knife and taking Julia and the baby hostage. Keith catches up with them and gets staked in the stomach while being forced to watch Peter have his throat slit wide open. Steven turns out to be a coward as he watches in the woods as his family is killed and kidnapped. Even a threat by Eliah to shoot Julia in the head does not bring him out into the open. Lenny Savage (Zoran Vukalic) saves Julia when he says he wants her as his woman. Julia is drugged and forced to marry Lenny. Keith begs Steven to kill him ("How are you going to have the guts to save your wife and baby if you don't have the guts to finish me off?", Keith asks.). Steven kills Keith and goes out for his revenge. Filmed on digital video and edited by director Jeffrey Lando (whose next movie was the giant insect film INSECTICIDAL - 2005) on his Apple IMac G3 in his home, this movie is filled with grainy shots (apparently done purposely but very annoying to the viewer) and very strong acting. This is a good inbred family-in-the-woods film that were popular in the 70's & 80's (JUST BEFORE DAWN (1980), THE FOREST (1981), etc) that has it's fair share of outrageous dialogue (Rebecca Savage [Nahanni Arntzen] says to Peter: "Mamma told me I could have proper babies if I did it with a stranger.") and a few surprises (including an unexpected suicide) near the finale. If you can put up with the headache-inducing graininess, you'll probably enjoy this one. This one clocks in at a small 84 minutes and a supposed longer cut exists in Canada, where it was shot. An Ardustry Home Entertainment Release. Rated R.
SAVAGE LUST (1989) - This is a cheap, badly acted horror flick from director/screenwriter Jose Ramon Larraz (THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED - 1973; REST IN PIECES - 1987), but it is so goddamned weird and utterly mind-boggling, you'll be glued to the screen for the entire running time. During the opening credits, we see the after-effects of a motorcycle "accident", where the male driver and female passenger are both completely naked, bloody and dead on the ground as we glimpse the back window of a black limousine going up before it pulls away. We are then introduced to six stereotypical teens on their way to Lake Wappakanokee (no kidding!) for some fun, sex and pot smoking. They get hopelessly lost, but luckily (or not) they come upon limping hitch-hiker Jack (Clark Tufts, who was just dropped off on the side of the road by a truck carrying a statue of Bob's Big Boy!), who knows the way to the lake. After having a flat tire and almost getting caught smoking weed by a State Trooper (Douglas Gowland, who gives the teens a lecture on the "penny test", or how to tell when a tire has lost its tread!), Rod (Mark Irish) decides on his own to pull off on a side road to rest when Jack tells them they still have quite a ways to go before reaching the lake (It's one of the stupidest moves in horror film history). He continues to drive on the dirt road until it ends at a strange house that looks like it's deserted and has a weird "monument" in the yard: A wrecked black limousine sitting on a slab of concrete surrounded by four stone statues. Rod, Tony (Greg Rhodes) and Peter (Jerry Kernion) take a closer look at the monument and notice a framed photo of a young pretty woman in the limousine's back seat, like some sort of shrine. Helen (Claudia Franjul) notices someone peering out of one of the house's windows, so everyone goes to check it out (Helen says, "This house is evil!" to which Peter replies, "Hey, maybe you'll spit-up pea soup and your head will turn around!" What?!?). Helen refuses to go into the house and walks off into the forest (In a real asshole move, boyfriend Tony doesn't go after her, explaining to his friends that this is nothing but "foreplay"! Double What?!?), while the rest of them break into the houseand take a tour. They naturally decide to check out the basement first (Triple What?!?) and find two coffins, one marked "Alfred" and the other marked "Amanda". Tony loses his ring trying to open one of the coffins (Quadruple What?!?) and then everyone hears the destroyed limo's horn honk outside. Tony finally decides to go find Helen, but it's too late, as someone has slit her throat and is dragging her corpse through the forest (Tony's not getting any foreplay tonight!). Jack and the rest of the group, which also includes Susan (Liz Hitchler) and Anne (Kathleen Patane), decide to check out the house further and find that the whole house is plastered with photos of the same woman found in the back seat of the limo (We also discover that Jack is wanted by the police, but we don't know what his crime is). Tony returns to the house empty-handed (Peter makes a crass joke about Helen using her ample assets as a hitch-hiker, while everyone else roasts wieners in the fireplace. Quintuple What?!?) and Susan notices a crack in the only wall without photos that seems to be getting bigger. When they discover a closet full of pickled human scalps, you would think that they would make a hasty retreat, right? Well, think again. They decide to stay until morning because it is raining outside! It's not long before all these stupid, stupid motherfuckers get just what they deserve, as Alfred (William Russell), the facially-scarred husband of the ill-fated (and badly burned) Amanda (Jennifer Delora; BAD GIRLS DORMITORY - 1986), the chick in all the photos, begin killing them in various bloody ways. Finally, a man and a woman with common sense! I could write a book describing all the idiotic and bone-headed things these poor excuses for human beings do and say, but then I would be depriving you of a once-in-a-lifetime experience of pure inanity. With friends like these, who needs enemies? I wish I could say this is all because of director/screenwriter Jose Ramon Larraz's lack of command of the English language, but he's been making English language films since the early 70's (WHIRLPOOL - 1970; VAMPYRES - 1974), so I would like to believe this was his way of goofing-on or fucking-with the audience. These kids live in some alternate universe, where it is normal to sit in a wrecked limousine and smoke a cigarette or open a sealed casket to see if there's a body inside (C'mon, everyone's doing it!). Thankfully, Larraz offers us plenty of nudity (including disturbing naked photos of Alfred and Amanda's victims, both male and female, that he keeps in an album) and some graphic bloodletting in the final third of the film. The reveal of what's behind the cracked wall is also quite graphic and well-photographed. SAVAGE LUST (also known as DEADLY MANOR) is one of those films you find yourself enjoying for all the wrong reasons and there's nothing wrong with that. Filmed in Suffern, New York and Ramapo, New Jersey. Originally available on VHS by Action International Pictures Home Video and not available on DVD in the U.S., but there's a British DVD available (under the DEADLY MANOR title) from budget label Pegasus. Not Rated.
SAVAGE WATER (1979) - Here's an obscure, bad slasher flick that takes place during a white water rafting trip (filmed on location in Moab, Utah and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona). It's also guaranteed to put your ass to sleep. A group of diverse, stereotypical people, including Doc Rogers (Ron Berger), a psychiatrist; a widowed father and his snotty son; a elderly German couple (the German guy tells the snotty kid, after the kid calls him a Kraut: "Adolph Hitler ist dead und some day you vill be too!"); a Arab sheik; a couple of sexy female teenagers; a husband and wife (the wife is deathly afraid to eat in the dark!); and an overweight junk food fanatic in a Gilligan hat, head down the Colorado River in three rubber rafts with their tour guides. After being lectured by the tour guides about the horrors of littering (What, no crying Indian?) and what wild plants not to eat (apparently eating belladonna will make your heart race so fast, it will explode), our motley group get their first taste of the rapids and camp out for the night on the banks of the river. One of the sexy teenagers hits on the Arab sheik and he proposes marriage ("Will you be my American wife?"), while the tour guides smoke pot. After an unreasonably long stretch of useless hijinks and constant in-fighting, someone pushes one of the tourists off a cliff after he snorts some coke. Thinking he was high, lost his balance and slipped, the tour guides simply bury him and continue with the trip (!), not aware that someone in their group is actually a cold-blooded killer. After the snotty boy is bitten by a rattlesnake (the killer purposely put it in the boy's sleeping bag) and one of the tour guides ends up dead, the idiotic tour group still continues on their trip, even though their radio to contact the outside is out of commission. Yes, these people deserve entry into the "Idiots Hall Of Fame" and deserve everything that is about to happen to them. One of the sexy teenagers is stabbed to death in the back with a hunting knife and another woman is poisoned with belladonna. Everyone finally wises-up, but they try to hang Doc Rogers when they mistakenly believe he is the killer. Tour leader Dave (Gill Van Wagoner) saves him from the noose, but while rafting back to civilization, Dave is forced to kill him with the spinning propellers of one of the raft's outboard motors, even though to his dying breath, Doc professes his innocence. Back in civilization, the surviving tourists and crew are found innocent of culpability in a civil trial, but the epilogue reveals the identity of the real killer. It's no surprise. This is an embarrassingly dull mystery/horror film that's sub-par on every level. The acting by a cast of regional non-pros is especially excruciating to watch, as everyone flubs or steps on lines constantly (Rasheed Javeri as the Arab sheik Mahomed is about as bad as they come). It wouldn't be so bad if there were a little action to go along with the constant yapping, but 95% of the film is nothing but incessant, inane dialogue spoken by people who couldn't order a Happy Meal without needing a second take. Director/ producer/ editor/ photographer/raft inflator Paul W. Kener (whose only other contribution to cinema is the harder-to-find horror abomination WENDIGO ) forgot the cardinal rule of successful horror filmmaking: Put some fucking scares and blood into the damn film! Instead, he offers endless shots of people walking, talking and doing trivial things, like eating, waiting to go to the bathroom or acting like total idiots. Kener even manages to make white water rafting seem ho-hum, as the majority of the film takes place on dry land. The film isn't even good enough for an unintentional laugh, as most of the killings take place off-screen, there's no nudity (the film's idea of skinny-dipping is everyone jumping in the river with their underwear on) and the pacing is stagnant (the screenplay was written by Kipp Boden, his only film credit). I swore I actually saw the hands of my watch move counter-clockwise while viewing this. SAVAGE WATER is a loooong 95 minute viewing experience and makes director Byron Quisenberry's similarly-themed SCREAM (a.k.a. THE OUTING - 1981) seem like a masterpiece of suspense. Watching this film proves that some hard-to-find films deserve to be that way. The bad title tune was written and warbled (badly) by co-star Doug Warr. Also starring Bridget Agnew, Mike Wactor, Gene Eubanks, Steven Evans, Dirk Strickwerda, Clayton King, Pat Comer, Dawn DeAnne, Valerie Kittel and Doug Jones as Dean, the snotty boy. This has never been available on home video in the U.S., which only proves that we here in the States still have a modicum of pride. The print I viewed was sourced from a British VHS tape, proving once again that they will do anything to shame us. Not Rated.
SAVAGE WEEKEND (1976) - Another unsung gem from the 70's that, when it is mentioned in reference books, is usually maligned or unfairly labeled a "bomb". While the film is partly a stalk 'n' slash tale, it's quite refreshing in it's delivery, as there are no teenagers and very few children in sight, just adults acting like adults. A group of friends (each one with personal problems of their own) head to a house in Upstate New York for some business and fun. In the film's funniest scene, openly-gay Nicky (Christopher Allport of JACK FROST - 1996) stops at a bar for a drink and ends up beating the shit out of two brawny men making fun of his sexuality (and the extremely short swim trunks he is wearing). Once they reach the house, they find a dead bat nailed to the door (only Nicky is man enough to remove it). After a few BIG CHILL-like moments, where Mac Macauley (RE-ANIMATOR's David Gale) regales a story to two of the guests about how local borderline retard Otis (William Sanderson of FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE - 1977, in his first theatrical film) branded a woman years earlier with the letter "H" (for "whore"; I said he was borderline retarded), another couple make love completely naked in a field while Nicky watches nearby (and ogles the naked man) and they all watch Otis kill a renegade rat, a masked killer begins to kill them one-by-one for some unknown reason. Could it be Otis, who rides a bike and spends too much time in a graveyard talking to the headstone of his dead friend? Or Mac, who gets his rocks off by telling scary stories to everyone? Or could it be someone in the house? Since they all seem to have one problem or another, from jealousy, child custody trouble, sexual abuse to sexual identity, it is a definite possibility. As the story progresses, the group have a fancy dress dinner party and the killing begins. Jay (Devin Goldenberg) is hung in the barn and another is done in with a hatpin to the ear. A table saw is used to kill another, in the film's most suspenseful scene. A baling hook and impalement are used to kill another before the killer is unmasked and his motivations revealed. It all ends in a final showdown (a chainsaw and a machete are involved), where an unlikely character becomes the savior. This is one of my favorite 70's horror films. It's mature in it's approach to love and death, something you don't normally see in low-budget horror films. Director/producer/scripter David Paulsen (SCHIZOID - 1980) doesn't tip his hand that there's a killer on the loose until about the 45 minute mark (where we see the masked killer trying on one of the guest's clothes). Up until then, we see plenty of full frontal nudity (both male and female), the Otis flashback where he brands the woman and smashes her lover's head against a rock (this flashback may not be true, since Mac, who is telling it, does not like Otis to begin with), a cringe-inducing scene where Mac removes a fishing hook from a guy's foot and various sexual infidelities amongst the cast. What really is different about this film is the way it portrays the gay character. Nicky is not portrayed as a limp-wristed girly-man, but as a strong person capable of taking care of himself and others, a rarity in 70's cinema. The killer's motivation is not much of a surprise (it's basically revealed in the opening minutes), but the tense final minutes, coupled with a creepy banjo score, really toss you for a loop. The acting is uniformly good (most of the cast went on to have long careers, many of them in the horror genre) and the gore, while sparse, is well-handled. The only minus is the pesky boom mike makes several appearances at the top of the screen, but that could be a framing issue on the print I viewed. Originally filmed in 1976 as KILLER BEHIND THE MASK, released in 1979 as THE UPSTATE MURDERS and renamed in 1981 as SAVAGE WEEKEND. It would make a perfect double bill with another 70's undiscovered gem, THE REDEEMER (1976). Also starring James Doerr, Marilyn Hamlin, Caitlin O'Heaney (as "Kathleen Heaney", who would later star in HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE - 1980), Jeffrey David Pomerantz and a very young Yancy Butler (WITCHBLADE [2001 - 2002]) as the "Little Girl". A Paragon Video VHS Release. Also available on DVD in one of those 50 movie comps (DRIVE IN MOVIE CLASSICS) from Mill Creek Entertainment and plenty of gray market sellers as a stand-alone title. There was even a version converted to 3D in 2012 in hopes of getting people to buy it for the now long-lasting 3D fad. Scorpion Releasing/Kino Lorber Home Video are releasing the definitive HD anamorphic widescreen version on DVD & Blu-Ray sometime in late 2015. Rated R.
SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER (1990) - Decent follow-up to David Cronenberg's 1981 exploding head masterpiece about people with the ability to control and reshape other peoples' minds and bodies. This one deals with a police captain (Yvan Ponton) who enlists scanners to destroy those responsible for shortchanging his political career. He dupes a confused scanner (David Hewlett of CUBE - 1997) to help him control the female mayor's (Dorothee Berryman) mind, so she will appoint him as the new chief of police, after he has the old chief bumped-off by his horde of drug-addicted scanners. After Hewlett figures out Ponton's plans for the city, then the world's, domination, he flees to his parents' country home with the other scanners in hot pursuit. He finds out that he was adopted and has a sister (Deborah Raffin of THE SENTINEL - 1977) living by herself in the outskirts where city noise is non-existant. He finds her, and since she is also a scanner, they come up with a plan to defeat Ponton's iron-fisted scheme. This Toronto-lensed opus offers plenty of brisk action, good special effects (some gross enough to push past its R-rating) and some pretty good twists and turns in the story lines. Check out the weird-looking residents in the scanner group (Central Casting looks like they went out of their way to find the ugliest Canadians in the Toronto vicinity). Raoul Trujillo (THE SWORDSMAN - 1993) stands out as the head bad guy scanner and does a lot with his facial expressions to put fear in the viewer. Good acting raises this one a notch or two above most sequels. The open ending sets the way for more sequels including SCANNERS III: THE TAKEOVER, shot back-to-back with this one by director Christian Duguay, who made a bunch of respectable films until the stinker EXTREME OPS (2002) was released to theaters. Talk about a major disappointment! SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER is damned-good entertainment with a sense of heart and exploding heads. A Media Home Entertainment Release. Rated R.
SCANNERS III: THE TAKEOVER (1991) - For those who found satisfaction with SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER (1991), this second sequel should be even more enjoyable and is probably (God forbid) better than David Cronenberg's original. Scanner Alex (Steve Parrish) takes up residence in a Thailand monastery after accidently scanning his best friend off the balcony of a highrise apartment at a Christmas party. Alex's mild-mannered scanner sister Helena (the sexy Liliana Komorowska) suffers severe headaches and decides to use an experimental drug called EPH-3, invented by their adoptive father (Daniel Pilon). The drug is a patch which is worn on the back of the neck, and soon Helena starts going stark raving mad. She telekinetically explodes a pidgeon for taking a dump on her hand. She kills a doctor (head explosion) who runs a clinic for scanners and takes control of the Scanner population. When she discovers that her powers can be transmitted over the airwaves, she comes up with a plan for world domination. She kills her adoptive father and send a scanner over to Thailand to kill her brother so she can inherit her father's giant pharmaceutical business. Alex escapes, but can he save the world? This film is jam-packed with violent action and stunts. Beside the prerequisite head explosions, there's finger explosions, body parts shot off, kung fu fights, car chases and various bodies in stages of scanning deformity. Director Christian Duguay (who filmed this one back-to-back with Part 2) injects a healthy dose of humor into the proceedings and also has a fine visual eye, filling the screen with unusual camera angles and atmospherics. Duguay would later go on to direct LIVE WIRE (1992), the excellent horror film SCREAMERS (1995), the widely-praised espionage thriller THE ASSIGNMENT (1997) and the action film THE ART OF WAR (2000). He definitely has talent. As it stands, SCANNERS III: THE TAKEOVER is a great, head-swelling experience. SCANNER COP (1993) was next. A Republic Pictures Home Video Release. Rated R.
SCANNERS: THE SHOWDOWN (1994) - The SCANNERS series is, in my opinion, the best horror franchise available on video. The general rule of thumb is that sequels are inferior to the original. This film (originally titled SCANNER COP 2: VOLKIN'S REVENGE) breaks that convention. It is an exciting, horrific rollercoaster ride of thrills, chills and excellent special effects (supplied by John Carl Buechler and MMI, who have never done better). There are scenes in this film that push the envelope of endurance, making the viewer cringe and pray that the scenes will end soon. All this is done with quick editing, a pounding soundtrack (that really does affect your nervous system somehow if you listen to it in Surround Sound) and the aforementioned special effects that push the boundries of its R rating. It is a total sensory experience. Daniel Quinn returns from SCANNER COP (1993) as scanner cop Stan Staziak, who is searching for his long-lost mother with the help of scanner Carrie Goodart (Khrystyne Haje of TV's HEAD OF THE CLASS [1986 - 1990]), a trans-neural researcher who helps other scanners learn to lead a normal life. Staziak has a major problem on his hands: He is being hunted by Carl Volkin (Patrick Kilpatrick of DEATH WARRANT - 1990), an escaped convict and scanner who Staziak put away five years ago after subduing him and killing his brother in a botched robbery attempt. Volkin has discovered a way to increase his scanning powers by sucking the life force out of other scanners, leaving his victims nothing but burnt, shriveled-up shells of their former selves. Since Staziak is a much stronger scanner, Volkin must locate other scanners to increase his powers before he can confront his nemesis face-to-face. He breaks into Carrie's office to get her client list of scanner patients. When she catches him in the act (and dials 911), Volkin attempts to perform his talents on her. The police break in and distract Volkin. He dispatches the cops and leaves Carrie in a coma. The only information Volkin was able to obtain was Staziak's home address, so he breaks into the house and tries to take Staziak out using conventional means, namely a shotgun. Staziak is too smart for him and foils the attempt. They get into a scanning contest where Staziak proves to be the strongest. Volkin escapes in the nick of time and searches the streets for scanners to kill. He finds a few, which does increase his powers, but still not enough to defeat Staziak. He breaks into Carrie's office again and this time is able to get her client list. He then goes on a scanner killing spree, a delirious section of the film which is a showcase of imaginative and wickedly gross special effects. Volkin has now gained enough strength to take Staziak on, but first he wants to make him suffer. He attempts to kill Staziak's scanner mother, but she senses his presence and kills herself by jumping out a window so that her power will not be passed on to Volkin. Staziak, who arrives too late to save his mother, now knows that he is not strong enough to beat Volkin just by using his powers alone. He resorts to the art of illusion in a final battle that ends with a nifty head explosion (a staple in this series). Director Steve Barnett, who also made the Fangoria horror film MINDWARP (1990) and the excellent action feature MISSION OF JUSTICE (1992), imbues this film with a sense of foreboding and doom. He also injects some very dry humor into the proceedings. Daniel Quinn and Patrick Kilpatrick make for a grand battling duo and, when they go into their scanning routines, make it look downright painful. More than once I found myself digging my fingernails into my palms from the tension onscreen. Isn't that the whole point in watching horror films? This is the last film in the series. They should make more. Also starring Robert Forster, Stephen Mendel, Brenda Swanson and Jewel Shepard. A Republic Pictures Home Video Release. Rated R.
SCARAB (1982) - Incomprehensible Spanish/American co-production with an over-the-top performance by Rip Torn (THE BEASTMASTER - 1982) and a phone-it-in turn by Robert Ginty (THE GOLD RAIDERS - 1983). Torn portrays physics professor Wilfred Manz, a possible ex-Nazi who tries to raise an ancient spirit called Khepera, who uses scarab beetles as it's calling card. After unsuccessfully trying to summon Khepera in his laboratory (He has a scarab beetle, which is sitting atop a miniature pyramid surrounded by candles, shocked with jolts of electricity in a feeble attempt of raising the spirit), crazy Dr. Manz cuts his hand in anger and accidentally bleeds over his totem. Before you know it, Khepera appears and possesses the Professor's body, eventually turning him into a cult leader who swears to his many followers (the male members look like masked Mexican wrestlers and the female members walk around topless) that he will save the Earth from the people that would destroy it by nuclear war and famine; namely, politicians. Pretty soon, political leaders begin committing suicide for no reason at all (one stabs himself with his own rapier after practicing with his young son and another pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head at a press conference); the only thing they have in common with each other is that a tiny scarab beetle was placed on their persons shortly before they offed themselves. Womanizing reporter Murphy (Ginty), who was at the ill-fated press conference, begins following a nurse named Elena (Cristina Hachuel) when he notices her stealing the scarab from the dead politician's body. Elena, who has mystical powers (including the power to heal, as we watch her miraculously cure a serious head wound of one of her patients), may just be what the world needs to combat the possessed Dr. Manz. As Murphy ingratiates himself into her life, he also does some research into Khempera and discovers some disturbing facts. Meanwhile, the possessed Dr. Manz hangs out with some topless female followers in his temple, but every time he tries to make love to them, something awful happens, such as one girl's body morphing into that of a jackass (!) or another girl instantly becoming covered in boils and exploding (What the hell?). Murphy has multiple attempts made on his life and discovers that Elena is actually Dr. Manz's daughter. Together, they try to find her father and end the madness. By the time they reach that juncture in the film, you will either be sound asleep or wishing that you were. This boring horror film, directed and co-written by Steven-Charles Jaffe (