Sunday, January 21, 2018

Don't Go in the House, Flamethrower Carnage

Alas, poor Kathy (Johanna Brushay). No doubt, Kathy's demise help fuel the anti-slasher film propaganda which accompanied these films in the 80s. A strong independent woman, cut down by a deranged maniac for the pleasure of an audience of impressionable young boys. This death was heartbreaking. A beautiful florist is abducted by a maniac, stripped and strung up in a specially built fire room. As she begs for her life and some mercy, our maniac broods over her for several seconds and then activates his flamethrower. As Kathy is engulfed in flames, we hear her screams for several more seconds. Hence 1979's "Don't Go in the House" (aka "Pyromaniac").
Kathy, well done
Donny (Dan Grimaldi) is a poor man's Norman Bates. With severe mother issues, he takes his mom's corpse and props it up in a chair where she continues to torment him. As a child, Donny was tortured by his mom with fire, and he has the scars to prove it. Now voices in Donny's head guide him to take out his vengeance on every attractive gal in New Jersey...with his flamethrower. Now Donny cruises the Garden State and abducts babes (a rarity in New Jersey...okay, stop it! I'm kidding!). But after Donny gets through with them, well, they're not pretty anymore. Their burnt corpses now make up a twisted menagerie in Donny's home.
As his mom still appears as a walking corpse, Donny continues to abuse his collection of babes even after their deaths.  As the voices in Donny's head increase in intensity, he gets bolder in his quest to collect NJ vixens.  This results in a priceless scene in a disco where he lights a gal named Farrah's (Nikki Kollins) head on fire...sort of an anti- Alberto VO5 commercial. With Donny's psychosis getting more and more deadly, a final fiery scene which includes more of the most beautiful New Jersey has to offer, probably tourists...(okay, I'm kidding again), a flamethrower, a priest on fire for the Lord, and charred ghosts will unfold before your eyes.
Awkward and uncomfortable, "Don't Go In the House" is not a date movie, unless you are dating a gal from Jersey...kidding!  Everything about Donny will make you cringe almost as much as a drive on the New Jersey Turnpike.  For a disturbing and heartbreaking horror film, enjoy "Don't Go in the House," directed by Joseph Ellison. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Fangs of the Living Dead, Vampire Lusts for Anita Ekberg

Anita Ekberg. Many will remember her as Sylvia, the babe in the fountain, in 1960's "La Dolce Vita." I saw that film...which makes me sound smart, probably because its an artsy-fartsy film with subtitles. In an even more gratuitous role, in 1969, Ms. Ekberg again plays Sylvia, this time in Amando de Ossorio's (the "Tombs of the Blind Dead" director) "Fangs of the Living Dead" (aka "Malenka").  This Italian horror work is best known for campy acting, vampire carnage, and cleavage.
Swimsuit model Sylvia has just learned that she has inherited a castle due to her mom's death. She leaves her fiance, Piero (Gianni Medici) temporarily to travel to rural Italy and claim the estate. Once she arrives she is met by her uncle, Count Wolbrooke (Julian Ugarte). Unbeknownst to the sultry super-model, the Count is a vampire. Uh oh...Sylvia is a spitting image of her grandmother, Malenka. Malenka was burned at the steak after dabbling in the occult and creating vampires. Townspeople can be so judgmental. The Count brainwashes Sylvia to believe she must succomb to the family curse and become a bloodsucker, herself. The count has pretty good taste and intends to bite Sylvia. In the meantime, the Count drinks the blood of the beautiful barmaid, Bertha (Diana Lorys).
Forced to send a letter to Piero breaking off the engagement, the cleavage queen...I mean Sylvia seems to be defeated.  But wait!  Sylvia may have a friend. The beautiful Blinka (Adriana Ambesi) is willing to help her escape, as she does not want a rival for the Count's affections. Now Piero rushes to the castle to help save his buxom swimsuit model, as well.  The Count is smart and won't be easy to deal with. As Sylvia seems increasingly under the spell of The Count, Blinka and Bertha may also spell doom for her.  By the way, in true Italian exploitation fashion, the buxom Blinka and buxom Bertha will spar in a rather nice cat-fight.
Will Sylvia fall victim to the century old family curse?  What does The Count plan to do with three buxom vampire babes? Er...okay...that's an easy one.  Can Piero fight off the vampire vixens and get a stake through the heart of his nemesis?  Anita Ekberg is wonderful in this and has some great one-liners. With gratuitous carnage, living and undead, lots of fangs, and Gothic castle terror, "Fangs of the Living Dead" will please any vampire film fan.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Slash Dance, G.L.O.W. does Slasher

The most famous bout in G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) occurred as The Southern Bells were humiliated and tortured and forced to bark like dogs and beg for their lives...and also do dog tricks to avoid being marred by fire. Gratuitous, I know. The second most famous G.L.O.W. bout was a tag team event in which the shapely Suzie Spirit, clad in a shiny red leotard, was destroyed...literally. We all remember her scream as her ulna and radius were dislocated leaving her arm a contorted mess.  The bout was stopped and Suzie was taken out on a stretcher...and this wasn't staged. The peril to the G.L.O.W. talent would continue as Americana, a sometimes partner of Suzie, would be put in deadly peril as she played a sultry policewoman in 1989's "Slash Dance."
Americana pummels Spanish Red in a GLOW match
Beautiful dancers are being murdered as they show up at an old theater to audition for a dance show. Undercover cop, Tori (Cindy Ferda, aka Americana), is tough and ambitious. We first meet her in a gratuitous bikini scene. After hearing of a whole bunch of missing beauties, she starts investigating. Tori determines that the young actress/dancers all showed up for an audition at the same theater. Now undercover, Tori does the same and joins the revue.  Now part of the show, Tori falls in love with Logan (James Carroll Jordan). They will suck face and have pre-marital sex. Tori's main subject is the pervert Amos (J. Buzz Van Ornsteiner), a prop hand. Amos loves drooling over the dancers as they shake their stuff clad in skimpy 1980s aerobic garb.
Dancer assumes room temperature
As Tori and her new friends perform lots of gratuitous dance routines, the killer stalks them. Fortunately for Tori, she has two friends (Beastie and Queen Kong of G.L.O.W. fame) watching her back. As Tori and friends shake more of their stuff, and Amos drools over them, Logan contemplates more sex with her. Tori must not only identify the killer, but also keep her new friends alive as the killer stalks them all.
Tori to the rescue
The ending will have Tori in mortal peril. Will Tori be beaten to a pulp as Americana was in her G.L.O.W. matches? Is Logan too suave and debonair to be real?  Is Amos too easy a suspect? Fans of G.L.O.W. will enjoy this one and also identify a few other wrestlers in this cast. A minor horror yarn with minimal gore, "Slash Dance" is heavy on gratuitous dance scenes. Though a sultry wrestler by trade, Ms. Ferda is a better actress than Mila Kunis or Megan Fox.
Click this link to see the Southern Bells humiliated Southern Bells Destroyed
Click this link to see Suzie Spirit's arm ripped out of socket Suzie Spirit Destroyed

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Vault, A Paranormal Dog Day Afternoon

A sure proof plan to rob a bank. Yep, nothing could go wrong. Just ask Al Pacino. Lots of guns, a small army, brains, brawn, and determination. The cops are nitwits and the bank employees are wimps.  There is a big problem looming, however. When criminals come up with a sure fire plan, we then find out that they weren't as smart as they first appeared.  It always starts out as burlap sacks being filled with small denominations, but ends up with hostages and a police barricade. Oh yeah...if you're really unlucky, a paranormal entity might show up.  Hence 2017's "The Vault."
Leah (Francesca Eastwood) is a no nonsense mastermind type.  Her sister, the ex-con Vee (Taryn Manning) is hot tempered and very unstable. These two sisters join forces with their dolt brother Michael (Scott Haze). Michael is in deep with some hoodlums and when he can't pay his debt, they force him to rob a bank. The hoodlums send a few henchmen with the trio. The invasion takes place at closing and seven bank employees are tied up and only a few shots are fired resulting in death and other carnage. Uh oh...where's all the money? Vee isn't amused at the slim pickings in the vault and is about to start executing employees. Michael develops a soft spot for head teller Susan (Q'orianka Kilcher) and promises no one will get hurt...he should've checked with Vee first.
In fright, an apparent assistant manager, Ed (James Franco) pleads for calm and lets Leah know there are millions in the subterranean vault. What? He explains where the vault is and the carnage is temporarily suspended as the team heads to a mysterious underground vault. This won't go well because waiting in the vault are...well...ghosts. Violent and ticked off ghosts! They start killing the bank robbers in horrible, gory fashion. Wait! All the bills in the vault are dated 1982. Leah remembers that Susan and the bank manager alluded the bank was haunted but she dismissed this drivel. Susan lets Vee and Leah in on a bloody backstory about a previous bank robbery in 1982 resulting in many murders. Oh yeah, that culprit in 1982?  He got away and no one ever saw his face. As bank robber heads are blown off and eyes gouged out, Ed pleads with Leah to keep calm and not hurt anyone. Oh yes, no surprise here, the cops have the place surrounded.
As the bank robbers are now the victims, Leah must figure out what exactly is going on and survive the evil specters.  Just what happened in 1982, and who was that mysterious bank robber? Does Ed have an ulterior motive for helping Leah?  Is "The Vault" a metaphor for unforeseen consequences of the ever increasing automated banking at our local branches?  New on Netflix, "The Vault" (directed by Dan Bush) is a minor but effective and well-acted ghost/horror story with some nice gore.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

My Bloody Valentine 3D, Pick Axe Carnage

"My Bloody Valentine" hit the silver screen in 1981 and is known as one of the best slasher films ever made. Beautiful dames, including the sultry Cynthia Dale in her red party dress, and their hunk beaus were ripped apart by a pick axe wielding maniac.  Every teen who was shafted by Valentine's Day found some sort of satisfaction with this flick. Then in 2009, this classic was remade.  Could a slasher classic be remade? Instead of Moosehead Beer and dying Canadians, the new one offers a modern day hunk (Jensen Ackles) and one of the most gratuitous slasher deaths ever put on film.
Sarah better run fast
Harry Warden wakes from a coma, kills dozens of nurses, orderlies, and doctors and then murders some great looking teens having a Valentine's Day bash in an old mine.  What a beautiful beginning. With dozens already shredded by a maniac, and the film not yet ten minutes old, we know that a classic can indeed be remade! Okay...ten years later. Survivors of the massacre are now adults. Sarah (Jaime King) is now married to Axel (Kerr Smith), who is the town's police chief.  Uh oh, one guy didn't hang around after the massacre...Sarah's old flame, Tom (Jensen Ackles).  But wait, out of nowhere, Tom returns...but from where? No one knows. He is back to sell the mine which he inherited after his dad died.
Jaw dropping terror
After Tom returns, and him and Jaime make lots of goo-goo eyes at each other (to Axel's dismay) more pick axe murders occur.  The townspeople are scared and believe the maniac is back and think Tom is the maniac...or is this too easy?  Then Axel's old flame, the skank Irene (Betsy Rue) gets it...and boy does she get it.  After some passionate pre-marital sex in a not-tell motel, she gets humiliated by a trucker and runs out after him, totally nude except for high heals and a gun.  This won't end well as our maniac pick-axes both of them in blood splattering fashion.  Axel believes Tom is responsible as video puts Tom at the crime scene just before the murders.  Uh oh, Axel may have some sanity issues as circumstances unfold that indicate he may be the maniac.  A bunch more killings and hearts plucked out and the buxom Sarah emerges as a victim-to-be.
Irene loses her heart
This film is in 3D and eyeballs will fly at you and so will a big pick-axe.  A sub-plot about a revenge scheme, years ago, undertaken by town elders against Harry Warden, plays well in enhancing the mystery of who exactly is the modern day maniac.  If you like gratuity of the nude and gory kind, you will love the scene depicting Irene's demise.  Directed by Patrick Lussier, and a  gratuitous acting effort by Betsy Rue, enhance 2009's "My Bloody Valentine" as a worthy remake to a beloved classic.
For my review of 1981's "My Bloody Valentine," click on this link 1981 My Bloody Valentine

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Surveillance, We'll Take it From Here Boys

In the film "Die Hard," the LAPD has Nakatomi Tower surrounded, then two FBI agents show up.  The two Agent Johnsons tell the LAPD, "We'll take it from here boys." I was an FBI agent for 25 years. At new agent training, we were shown that scene. Through the 1980s, this was the FBI's reputation among local law enforcement. Then we got a new Attorney General, Janet Reno. Ms. Reno made inner city drug gangs the priority of the FBI. New FBI Director, Louis Freeh implored all of us to work with our local partners. We did and relations between the FBI and the locals greatly improved. 9/11 happened and a national security minded director Robert Mueller did much damage to these relations and the uber arrogant James Comey destroyed many of these relationships beyond repair. Jennifer Lynch and Kent Harper give us 2008's "Surveillance." This horror thriller speaks to the heart of the tension that exists in the FBI's relationships with their local partners....or does it?
A horrible pair of serial killers are murdering their way through the Midwest.  As our film begins, two FBI agents, Elizabeth (Julia Ormond) and Hallaway (Bill Pullman) arrive to interview witnesses of the latest carnage. The local police force is problematic.  Their officers are sadists and their chief (Michael Ironside) is in denial.  With sensitivity, Elizabeth interviews a survivor of the murders. Stephanie's (Ryan Simpkins) family was offed by the killers as she stood by defenseless. Interviews of Officer Bennett (Kent Harper) indicate the police officers who happened on the scene may have a lot to conceal.  Our FBI agents are condescending and the locals seem to deserve that treatment. As Elizabeth and Hallaway pull more information from the survivors, not all adds up.  In flashbacks we are treated to blood splattering carnage and cruelty.  Cruelty from the cops and, as you will see, the killers.
The FBI agents will face numerous difficulties in piecing together the crime scenes. Their witnesses are sadistic cops, a frightened little girl, and a skank high on drugs (Pell James). They are all traumatized and have lost loved ones in horrible fashion.  Elizabeth appears to have what it takes to draw information out of traumatized Stephanie, but Hallaway seems cold and rigid.  As the witnesses become combative, Elizabeth makes great strides in gaining Stephanie's trust.  Uh oh...Stephanie is a lot smarter than most adults.
Director Jennifer Lynch and writer Kent Harper have some surprises in store, and they won't make you smile with glee.  Experienced horror fans will see through the obvious.  Are the locals that incompetent and sadistic?  Are the FBI agents really as pure as the snow in Saskatchewan (this film was shot there)?  Exactly what did little Stephanie see, and is she really out of peril as the FBI agents promise her?  Strictly from my perspective as a 25 year FBI agent, "Surveillance" is a terrific metaphor for the fragile relations between the FBI and local law enforcement.  Gritty, gory, and perhaps sadistic in tone...enjoy "Surveillance," a serial killer tale that is just a bit different.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Face of the Screaming Werewolf, Aztec Horror Meets Lon Chaney, Jr.

From Mexico, and bastardized in the U.S. comes our feature today....1964's "Face of the Screaming Werewolf." A wild and ambitious plot that seems like two movies pasted together to make one full length feature. This is not always a bad thing as "Jupiter Ascending" would have been a far better film if it was pasted together with "Cannonball Run." Besides, whose heartstrings are not tugged by seeing Lon Chaney, Jr. play a werewolf?
Okay, don't get too hung up on the plot...the makers of this film certainly didn't.  The sultry Ann (Rosita Arenas) is undergoing hypnotherapy. Dr. Edmund Redding (Ramon Gay) believes this therapy shows her to be a sacrificial virgin from an ancient Aztec culture. Later Ann leads a team to the Aztec pyramid in the Yucatan and finds a secret chamber where the sacrificial rite took place. Now the trouble starts!  In a tomb and mummified is Lon Chaney, Jr. Obviously not an Aztec. Also, guarding him is a zombie-like creature. The scientists subdue the zombie-thing and bring both it and Lon Chaney, Jr. back to America.
Lights out...Bang Bang...Lots of peeps dead, and chaos hits the streets. Lon Chaney, Jr. and the Aztec zombie have been stolen. Bad news, the scientists who stole Lon Chaney, Jr. knows that he is a werewolf and a full moon turns him into one. Now a werewolf is loose in the city looking for nubile babes and the Aztec-zombie searches for the beautiful Ann. Throw in an inept band of crooks and cynical cops and this becomes a very beautiful thing.
Will the nubile reincarnated virgin, Ann, be sacrificed by the Aztec-zombie?  What does Lon Chaney, Jr. have to do with any of this? Is this awkward mesh of Mexican and American film-making a metaphor for the lack of success of the Pancho Villa Restaurants?  A weird one, no doubt, but it is always good to see Lon Chaney, Jr. Directed by...well if you are Mexican Gilberto Martinez Solares, and if you are American Jerry Warren, "Face of the Screaming Werewolf" is a spirited, if not disjointed horror yarn.