Category Archives: Horror

Who is Victor Salva?

Who is Victor Salva and should I watch Jeepers Creepers 3

 

 

Who is Victor Salva? Molestor or artist

Who is Victor Salva

Who is Victor Salva? On the surface it’s an easy enough question. Who is Victor Salva? He is the director of Jeepers Creepers, it’s sequel and the Disney film Power. But did just a little deeper, just a few extra lines on most search engine results and you get a little darker answer. Because Victor Salva is also a convicted sex offender. He’s either an individual with a troubled past trying to move on, or a monster who deserves to still be in prison…or worse.

I honestly had no clue who Victor Salva was when I first saw Jeepers Creepers, or even it’s sequel. I wasn’t as deeply into film then as I am now. I just loved watching them, and JC was one of my favorite. I saw it in the theater and later bought it on DVD (full disclosure I still have it). It wasn’t until years later that I heard about the directors past, and even then I didn’t really dig into it. Eventually curiosity did get the better of me and a quick Google search brought up the results.

The story isn’t pretty, and it’s not with much if any ambiguity. During the filming of Clownhouse, his debut film. One of the child actors accused Salva of sexually assaulting him. The police searched his home to find video taped evidence of him having sex with the underage boy, among other child pornography. Salva confessed to the crime. Open and shut case, Victor Salva was convinced, served 15 months of a three year sentence, and was placed on the sex offenders list. Who is Victor Salva? He is officially a sexual predator.

So where does that leave fans of Jeepers Creepers and his other work? Personally I haven’t been able to enjoy any of his work since I found out. If there was any doubt to his guilt, maybe, but knowing what I do I just cant. I don’t stand on my moral high ground and tell others not to watch his movies, everyone has to make their own choice. I made mine. But what about other fans? Fans who still don’t know about his history. Fans who are more casual, who really don’t know who directs what movie. Those people are out there.

Just the other day a friend excited posted a link to Jeepers Creepers 3. She was so happy the film was about to be released. Now I have posted about Victor Salva on Facebook before, but she had either missed it or maybe had no clue who he was and kept scrolling. So what do I do? Do I tell her? Do I ignore the post or simply “like” it? I waited several hours after she posted, and finally said, “Not sure how I feel about this, knowing what I do about Victor Salva.” “Who is Victor Salva?” She asked me, along with “please don’t ruin this for me.” What to do? I just said if she wanted to know more to do a Google search.

I am not trying to start a crusade to ban Victor Salva films. Part of me thinks I do have a moral responsibility to let people know who he is, and what he has done. Being in a family where sexual abuse happened, I know the damage that can come from it all too well. But another part of me just wants to let them enjoy whatever they choose to watch. It’s just entrainment right?

 

Cloownhouse by Victor Salva

Who is Victor Salva and what happened while filming Clownhouse?

And after all Victor Salva has served his time. He has a right to work and earn a living just like anyone else. Would any of us want our past misdeeds held against us forever? Doesn’t he deserve the same consideration’s the rest of us? A shit ton of people would say no. Plus he only served 15 months, out a an extremely short sentence for what most people would say is an unforgivable sin. His victim will have to live the rest of his life with what happened. Why shouldn’t Salva pay for the rest of his life?

If I thought Victor Salva was a reformed man, maybe I could forgive him. Maybe I could watch his films and not feel horrible. Salva’s fans and supporters will quickly tell you he has done his time. Others would say enjoy the art, regardless the sins of the artist. But that falls apart a bit when you look closely at his art. I have only seen Jeepers Creepers, it’s sequel and a few moments of Rosewood Lane. Powder never really appealed to me. I could have possibly seen Clownhouse long ago, but if so it wasn’t memorable enough, well for me to remember it. Clownhouse is a movie about a group of kids being terrorized by insane clowns. From my understanding the three male leads spent a lot of time in their underwear, and there was even a nude scene involving one. These things cant be overlooked when we judge Salva, not after forcing one of those kids to have sex with him. Was this even art or a successful attempt to get vulnerable boys into his grasp? As much as part of me wants to see this now, to try and understand it, I just can’t. Maybe someday, for editorial purposes only, but not now.

On to Jeepers Creepers, which on the surface is a horror movie about a monster chasing a group of teens. Granted these kids are older than the ones in Clownhouse, played by adult actors, but we still have kids in peril. For a large part of the movie, they are chased by what we think might just be a man, who fans affectionately call “the creeper.” The creeper chases the kids in an old beat up truck. See where this is leading, just slightly leading? We have an old creeper, in an old truck, chasing kids because he likes the way they smell…and taste. Nothing creepy or pedophillic about that, right? Not from a director who forced a young boy to perform and receive oral sex on him. Hell, the creeper even prefers boys, as he takes Justin Long’s character over the one played by Gina Phillips. This is just info pulled from my mind as I haven’t seen the film in over 5 years at least. I wonder what I would notice if I watched it again, knowing what I do about Victor Salva.

Jeepers Creepers is the sequel, set 23 years later, as the creeper reawakens to hunt again. This time one isn’t enough and he sets his eyes on a bus full of high school athletes. Once again he seems to prefer males and all high school (read minors) students. We are all so used to seeing teens in peril, we don’t even make a connection with the directors past. Powder I haven’t seen, but I know the premise. Powder is a pale, young man who doesn’t fit in. He’s an outcast, until it’s learned he has the power to awaken feelings inside people with his touch. Apparently he can even awaken a persons dormant sexuality with a touch, and there is a scene where the lead has his head softly and some might say seductively rubbed by an older male. Might I remind you this is a Disney film? Disney claims it was mislead to the extent of Salva’s criminal past. Remember this was the 90s when it wasn’t quite as easy to get information as it is now. Still it’s shocking to know that Disney would allow a convicted sex offender to work under their brand.

So three movies after his conviction, rehabilitation and released deal with older men stalking or obsessing over young boys. By the time Rosewood Lane came out, I had heard of his past and just couldn’t watch it. I didn’t have to ask who is Victor Salva.  I have read a brief synopses and I know it concerns a woman and her father being stalked by a psychotic paperboy. Maybe it’s not fair to make a call without watching it, but could this be the director’s way of saying “It wasn’t my fault. He came after me.” It’s pretty common for sexual predators to blame the victim. Maybe this is his final way of coming to terms with his past.

So now, what about Jeepers Creepers 3? Should you watch it? Should you support it? In the end that is a question you have to answer for yourself. Ignore his past and enjoy the film, or take a stand and say you can’t support Salva. Personally I just can’t watch it. Who is Victor Salva? He is a film maker that I just can’t support, can you?

 

PS. I cant link Salva’s work but here is a book wriiten by someone who lived through abuse. If you enjoy Salva and can still support him, I urge you to read this book

Innocence Lost: A Little Girl’s Life Changed Forever


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen

Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary

Leatherface is nuts

So last night I got to see the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen. The movie was shown at the Treehouse Cinema in Gulf Breeze Florida and hosted by local horror group Nightmare Theatre. This was my first time to actually see TCM on the big screen, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered  40th anniversay edition is absolutely beautiful. I’m not going to get into technical specs about sound, video, aspect or whatever because I’m not that guy. I will just say the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary version looks beautiful, it sounds beautiful and it is worth seeing on the big screen.

I have been a fan of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre since before I can remember. As a kid I saw the movie posters in the local theater, but never saw the film itself there. I’m not even sure it ever actually played there. TCM doesn’t sound like a good match for a small town theater in rural Mississippi in the 70s. I cant even remember when I first saw the movie. The commercials for it, and the sequels always intrigued me, but they also scared me a little. Okay, they scared me a lot. They promised blood, gore, and horror. Which was masterful advertising, since the first film has so little blood and gore.

Marilyn Burns in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre  remastered 40th anniversary

The Late Marilyn Burns as Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition

What The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre did have, that it’s gorier remake doesn’t have is insanity. The remake is bloody, it’s violent, and it’s gory. The characters are evil and they are unbalanced. But compare the families, the Hewitt family versus the Sawyer family of the original. Although they really didn’t get a family name in the original, it works for here. The original family was absolutely insane. Look at the cook, played by the late Jim Siedow. “I dont take no pleasure in killing” he says, completely serious one moment, and the next he is cackling, and urging Grandpa on in his attempt to kill Sally Hardesty. The whole dinner scene is insanity. People like this are capable of anything. This is horror, this is what modern filmmakers don’t get.

It’s one thing to show people doing bad things, doing horrible things, but show people doing insane things and it’s scary. Jason Voorhess is evil but his movies are no longer scary. Why? Maybe because he’s predictable. Is he insane? Probably? Crazy? Not so much, if anything Jason is predictable. Come to Crystal Lake and he will chase you, slowly, catch you and kill you, especially if you are having sex. Leatherface? Well now, Leatherface will chase you at high speed. He will chainsaw his door to pieces, even though he could probably just open it, or cut through the lock. Leatherface will put you in a freezer and sit down and have a moment of self doubt. Leatherface will spin in the road with a running chainsaw. Leatherface is fucking nuts. Even worse, he’s possibly the sanest member of the family.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition with the Sawyer family

The family is even crazier in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition

Probably the coolest thing about seeing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen was seeing, and hearing people’s reaction. It was a small crowd, which was sad, but there were people there, and at least a few who had never seen the movie before. It is nice to know with all the crappy PG films, with all the horrible CGI, that the meat hook scene can still cause a reaction. Yep, some one exclaimed out loud, not the loudest shriek, but a reaction nonetheless. Call me naive, but I think a proper release with full studio promotion this film would draw. Yeah, I’m naive. Kids today are too jaded, they wouldn’t give it a chance, but if they did they would walk away happy, and maybe a bit scared to go down those lonely deserted roads.

So if you get the chance check out the Texas Chainsaw remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen, or just buy the DVD. It really is a wonderfully restored version, and well worth having without even touching on the extras. This is probably the best the film will ever look. But even beyond the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition, if you are a horror fan, support when these films get shown on the big screen. Support the few small local theaters that still exist, and support your local horror community. For those of us living in the Lower Alabama, Florida Panhandle that is Nightmare Theatre and the Tree house Cinema in Gulf Breeze.

Nightmare Theatre will be hosting several cult horror films during the month of October, including Army of Darkness and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you are in the area I urge you to make the trip over the bridge and support these films, and the people hosting them.

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition is availbale now on DVD and Blu Ray, and playing in select theaters

Shock Waves (1977)

 

Nazi zombies from Shock Waves (1977)

Arise Zombie! Shock Waves

When it comes to the genre of Nazi Zombie movies, the field might be a bit small but it’s filled with good choices, and Shock Waves is probably the best choice of them all.  Wait there is a whole sub genre of Nazi zombie horror?  Yes, yes there is Virginia. Recent films like Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2, join the Outpost series, and  Jean Rollin’s 1981 Zombie Lake (and a few other odd entries) but the king of them all is Shock Waves from 1977.

Shock Waves stars Hammer Stalwart Peter Cushing as a former Nazi scientist along with Brooke Adams, who sizzles the screen in her bikini, and former Flipper star Luke Halpin all grown up. Shock Waves also stars one of the most iconic actors in horror, John Carradine playing one of his usual gruff, cantankerous characters.

The film starts off with Brooke Adams being found floating adrift, looking far worse then she does later in the film. She relates her story, which becomes the main body of the film. Carradine is the captain of a broken down boat taking Adams and a group of vacationers on an island tour, a three hour tour. Well actually it’s about ninety minutes. Halpin is his long suffering first mate, who has attracted the eye and attention of Adams.

Brooke Adams in a yellow bikini in Shock Waves

Brooke Adams helps make Shock Waves (1977) visually appealing

Things quickly go from cantankerous, to bad to worse, as the boat is enveloped in a strange orange haze, then side-swiped by a mysterious ghost ship. The crew and passengers find themselves scuttled on a mysterious island, sans the Captain and with a rusting hulk looming nearby. They go ashore to find a seemingly deserted hotel, where they run into Cushing and his strangely British sounding German accent.

Peter Cushing in Shock Waves

Peter Cushing gives his best go at a German accent in Shock Waves

People start to disappear and Cushing relates how he helped engineer Nazi super soldiers who could exist in any extreme and were virtually indestructible, When the reich was collapsing he was ordered to dispose of his group of water breathing zombies (is that an oxymoron? breathing zombies?). He accomplishes this by sinking the ship they are on, in what was probably not such a smart way to get rid of water breathing monsters.

The castaways aren’t buying it till the goggle clad undead attack in force, forcing a desperate fight and flight to get off the island.  This eventually takes us full circle, and spoiler free, to the opening scene.

I have a fondness for horror films from this era, and Shock Waves is one of my favorite. It is also highly under rated and gets no where near the buzz of other horror classics of the seventies. While it might not be a genre defining film, it is a one of those movies that still packs an impact today.

The effects aren’t flashy but they come across as reaslistic. No rotting, walking dead, type zombies but they look suffeciently water logged, and the goggles and Nazi uniforms add a chillingly creepy look to the undead.

The actors all do there job, Carradine is the same old Carradine as he is in so many movies, gruff, angry and mean.  Cushing gives his usual commanding preformance in his limited screen time. He is perfect in the role, even though the accent doesnt exactly fit. If I have one issue with Shock Waves, it’s that I would have loved to see much more of Cushing in the film.

Brooke Adams and her bikini almost steal the film from the two horror icons. Acting wise, she holds her own. Oscar worthy? No, but for one of her first starring roles it’s good enough, and doesn’t hurt the film. The scenes of her in a bikini though are truly epic. She wears a swimsuit like a swimsuit should be worn,and her underwater scenes rival those of Jacqualine Bisset in The Deep, without the wet t-shirt.

Brooke Adams in a bikini

Bikini clad Brooke Adams has a glow about her in Shock Waves

The one thing that makes Shock Waves a classic, in my opinion, is the armosphere. From the very opening a sense of dread hangs over the movie. From the lighting, to the sound, to the zombies themselves,Shock Waves is one creepy movie. The mood and atmosphere is also one of the things that make it just effective today as it was when it was released.

While so many movies, even the acknowledged classics like Halloween and The Hills Have Eyes, are heavily dated, and dont hold that same punch, Shock Waves still makes for great late night viewing.

Shock Waves is available now on Amazon video on demand and DVD and is scheduled to be released on Blu Ray later this year. Do yourself a favor and check it out on which ever format you prefer

Shock Waves


New From: 0 Out of Stock

Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Zombie Holocaust

Lori, Queen of the Cannibals

If you ever wondered what it would look like to cross the Italian cannibal genre and the Italian zombie genre, then Zombie Holocaust (1980), by director Marino Girolam, might be for you. Zombie Holocaust is also known as Zombi 3, but any attempt to make sense of the numbering of European zombies films is futile. Just go with Zombie Holocaust.

Now if you are one of those movie watchers who enjoy a tight script that actually makes sense, smart dialogue, and believable acting move along. Why the fuck are you reading about European zombie films anyway? But if you can get past the lack of real storytelling and just enjoy the gross out effects, buckets of gore and eye-popping nudity, carry on.

Zombie Holocaust (1980) is an unofficial sequel to the popular Fulci film Zombi, )or Zombi 2, or Zombie 2, or Zombie Flesh Eaters) however there is little in common between the films. Beyond the title and the casting of Zombi star Ian McCulloch in a similar role, similar settings, and the use of the undead, and nothing else is similar.

Like Fulci’s classic, Zombie Holocaust starts off in New York City. There are a series of cannibal attacks at a large hospital. When the culprit is caught it turns out he is from a group of Asian islands that was also the home of morgue assistant Lori, played by Alexandra Delli Colli. Investigating with Dr. Peter Chandler, played by McCulloch, they find there have been a rash of cannibal attacks across New York.

Screaming nurse in Zombie Holocaust

Shocked nurse in Zombie Holocaust (1980)


They head out to the islands and confer with a Dr.Obero, who assigns them guides and directs them to the furthermost island to investigate. They set sail to the island but boat trouble forces them to land on another island instead. Here they are attacked by cannibals, and most of their party is killed and eaten. Chandler and Lori are about to be put on the menu when zombies appear and frighten off the cannibals.

Fleeing from cannibal and zombie alike, they run into Dr. Obero who, learning of their plight, comes to rescue them. However it soon turns out Obero has a more sinister motive than just rescue. It seems Obero has been using the cannibals in his experiments to pressure the dead. Thus he now controls the zombies and intends to use Chandler in his next experiment.

Lori escapes Obero, but is quickly captured by the cannibals. They take her back to their cave lair where they strip her naked, paint her, and declare her queen of the cannibals. It seems these cannibals are always looking for a blonde chick to be their queen. After the ceremony, which gives the viewer some awesome anatomical shots of Lori’s body, the newly crowned queen leads her subjects to attack the doctor and his zombies. After the almost laughable battle, Lori and Peter escape, running from the wrath of Fulci fans and into the closing credits.

As far as European zombie films go, Zombie Holocaust isn’t the worst of the bunch (see Zombie 4:Killing Birds, or Zombie After Life for reference), but it is far and away from Fulci’s Zombi. The story and plot are pretty ridiculous, even for Italian standards, and the zombie effects are really shitty to be honest. The cannibal scenes are a bit more realistic and are bloody enough to keep the gore hound placated.

The overall plot is pretty standard, and similar to Fulci’s film. Attacks in New York send investigators to remote island to investigate. However the story with Dr. Obero is just confusing and goofy. I was never really sure what he was attempting with his brain transplants. Was that how he created zombies? Or was he actually experimenting in actual brain transplants?

Also you are never really sure why the cannibals hated him. He says he persuaded them to go back to cannibalism, he provides them with food, even gives them the scalps after his experiments. Hell you could even look at the zombies as meals on wheels almost, a mobile buffet. Still, none of this matters in an Italian zombie movie. It’s style over substance and you have to accept that.

So for style, the weakest part of the film were the zombies. Their make up was beyond amateur. It basically looks like guys in rubber masks with some gore smeared on. None of them really seemed to be rotting away either, in fact more looked pretty healthy and strong.

The zombies themselves seemed to be caught in some limbo between pre Romero Haitian voodoo zombies and modern fast track zombies. They didn’t ever really run but they were prone to bursts of speed near the end of the film. Early on they did nothing but shamble, like a good zombie should, but during they last half they were able to grab fleeing characters and hold them tight. Plus they were apparently able to be controlled by Dr. Obero.

The stronger parts of the film included the cannibals who were realistic enough, and there was plenty of bloodshed. Still it’s hard to fuck up cannibal make up. Just grab some exotic, native looking extras, put them in loin cloth and face paint and viola!

By modern standards the gore might look cheesy, but there is quite a bit of it. A man has his eyes pulled out by a cannibal who is munching on his guts, the eyes then become snacks. A zombie has his head shredded by a boat propeller. We see a woman who has been scalped alive. Beyond all this numerous shootings of cannibals, people caught in traps and murdered, and even scenes of cannibals eating a fighting zombie.

The acting is goofy, but I can’t knock it too hard since I watched a dubbed copy. Now before you start yelling about subtitles, I love subtitles. Whenever I am watching a serious foreign language film I opt for subtitles whenever possible. However when I am watching Euro Zombie, and some chop socky martial arts films, I like the dub. It adds to the already silliness of the script. My first experience with foreign cinema was dubbed Italian horror and westerns, and I guess it’s grown on me.

So while the dialogue and acting seemed silly, I can’t be sure how much was due to the dubbing factor. One of my favorite goofy lines, paraphrased, “The cannibals eat dead people. Last I checked we were all alive” and cue the first scream.

Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Not the way to get head in your bed-Zombie Holocaust

One of my favorite parts of Zombie Holocaust was the beautiful Alexandra Delli Colli as Lori. Tall blonde and shapely she undresses completely for the camera twice. Not shy we are treated to two full frontal scenes, one of them lying spread eagle on a table as it is raised, leaving little to the imagination.

Zombie Holocaust Lori in lingerie

Sexy Alexandra Delli Colli from Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Usually when watching a European movie from the 70s or early 80s, I have to make some comment about female pubic grooming. Well for the time period, Alexandra was groomed much tidyier, than the female leads in the Spanish Countess Perverse. Really there’s a difference between natural and abandoned homestead.

I liked Zombie Holocaust, but then I am a fan of these garish, gory, and at times silly movies. If you are able to enjoy a film without taking it too seriously, you might like it too. It’s no Walking Dead, no Romero, or even Fulci, but in the pantheon of European zombie films, it’s worth seeing.
Zombie Holocaust was released under the title Dr. Butcher M.D, with added scenes and a different score. While it was never officially on the video nasty list, it was only released uncut in the U.K in 2001. In the US, the original uncut version was released in 2002 on DVD by Shriekshow. Check it out.

Zombie Holocaust [Blu-ray]


New From: $49.98 USD In Stock

Halloween 3 review

Halloween 3 review
In celebration of the upcoming holiday, I thought I would do a quick Halloween 3 review. Halloween 3 is the epitome of a cult film. It flopped at the box office, was hated by fans, only to gain a huge following on home video. Halloween fans are still divided over it, but many consider it a classic. Personally besides the original, it is my favorite entry in the series.

Halloween 3:Season of the Witch, is probably the bravest entry ever in a horror franchise. That bravery is almost certainly the reason it was a box office failure, but it’s also one of the reason it is today held in high regard. Halloween 3 is one of the only entries in a horror franchise to not feature the series resident killer. If you don’t count the original Friday the 13th and Friday V, it’s probably the only one.

Now why would a film maker do something that stupid? Well apparently series creator John Carpenter wanted to take the series in a new direction. Instead of having a yearly slasher-fest each year with the same masked killer, he wanted to explore a different Halloween themed horror film each year. Thus was born Halloween 3.

Halloween 3 is the story of Dr. Dan Challis, who while investigating a strange death, finds a sinister mask maker with a diabolical plot to take Halloween back to it’s pagan roots. Conal Cochran makes the most popular masks on the market the Silver Shamrock. Silver Shamrock is also one of the most famous and popular ditties in horror.

On the surface Cocharn seems kind and generous, but underneath lies a murderous plot. He intends to use his masks, and a chip from Stonehenge, to murder every child in America as a traditional pagan sacrifice.We are treated to a test run on a family that results in one of the creepiest, and most disturbing death scenes in a mainstream horror film.

Dr. Dan manages to escape and apparently kill Cochran, but will he be in time to save the children? He only has till midnight on Halloween to stop the doom, and time is ticking.

Zombi, or Zombi 2, either way it’s the best of the Italian Zombie Films

Zombi eye gouge scene

One of the biggest knocks about Italian horror, like Zombi, from American audiences is that the narrative is often confusing and sometimes downright nonsensical. In Italian cinema, the look and the atmosphere of a film is much more important than the script for the most part. However Lucio Fulci’s Zombi has a relatively easy to follow narrative for Italian fare.

Zombi is an unofficial sequel to the Italian cut of Dawn of the Dead. The classic American zombie movie, a cult classic, in it’s own right, was recut by Dario Argento and rescored by Goblin for it’s Italian release. Since Argento’s Dawn was released as Zombi, Fulci’s film was dubbed Zombi 2 in Italy. I wont get into the myriad of names and miscellaneous names slapped onto the horde of zombie films released in Italy and other areas of Europe, as that would take a full post of it’s own.

Zombi

Zombi is the movie that made Fulci a horror sensation, and is in my opinion the best of thee European zombie films, with the possible exception of the first Blind Dead movie. I still think Zombi is technically better but the blind Templars hold a special place in my heart for pure coolness.

The Italians, especially Fulci had a way with gore and he spares no brain nor blood in Zombie. In Great Britain it made the infamous video nasties list, alongside such notorious movies as Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, and Fulci’s own House by the Cemetery. A full, uncut, authorized and legal version was not released in Britain until 2005. Progress marches on, but it marches slowly at times.

Zombi starts out in New York City where a strange ship drifts slowly into the harbor. Officers investigate only to be attacked by a hulking zombie. One officer is bitten and dies, the other officer shoots the zombie, who falls overboard.

Reporter Peter West is sent to investigate the boat, where he meets the boat owners daughter. They decide to investigate by sailing to her father’s last known location, the island of Matool. They join with a couple Bryan and Ann to help investigate the island. Apparently Ann loves to swim and scuba dive wearing nothing but a g-string. YES. Before they reach Matool, Ann decides to do just that. The scenes of her diving topless would be one of the most well remembered scenes in the movie (still is with me) if not for the next scene.

Here we are treated to probably THE most iconic scene in zombie movie history. Sorry Romero, you may have had the biggest impact on modern zombie film, but this scene is classic. So classic it was just used in a mainstream commercial. That’s right the shark vs zombie. Way before the Sci Fi channel decided to mix and match shit that should never go together, Fulci did it and made it work. No need for former teen pop stars past their prime. This scene is made of awesome. If you haven’t seen it, I wont give any details, just see it.

Zombi Shark vs zombie

After the attack the group heads on toward the island, where the dead are rising in ever increasing numbers. Dr. Menard is trying to find the cause of the outbreak, but is only holding his own. As night falls we are treated to another iconic scene and a Fulci trademark, when a woman’s eye is slowly impaled on a wooden splinter. When the group finally lands and meets Dr. Menard, the zombies are in full attack. Graves all over the island are starting to open and the dead, some centuries in the ground are rising. The survivors race to the boat to escape, fighting zombies along the way as their numbers dwindle. Who will survive? Will they make it to the boat and back to New York? And what will they find there. Like I said, got to watch it yourself.

Zombi

As far as Italian cinema goes, Zombi is pretty easy to follow. It’s a pretty straight forward plot, but still contains all the great imagery and atmosphere of which the Europeans are famous. Some of the scenes are iconic and part of cinematic history. A bloody part of history maybe but still, they deserve their praise. The eye gouging is hard to watch even today, and to me looks far more realistic than most CGI eye gags.

The shark versus zombie scene is another that is part of zombie history. The fact this was filmed with no visual tricks should amaze film makers and fans alike. The scene was filmed in a giant tank with a real shark, and a real stunt man. The shark was fed horse meat loaded with tranquilizers before filming began. Still bravo to that stunt man for getting in the tank.

Zombi, or Zombi 2, whichever you prefer is one of the goriest nastiest zombies the general public is every likely to see. Once confined to drive in, and late night showings it is now readily available in several different cuts. It rivals Day of the Dead, but for pure gore, I still personally give the nod to Day. The Salazar elevator scene still makes me wince to this day.

Don’t look for a huge amount of social commentary or deeper menacing. This isn’t a Romero flick, this is a pure zombie horror survival movie. It keeps the action moving, cutting between the island and those on their way there. The slowest moment in the film is when we are treated to the wonderful scenic view of Auretta Gay as Susan diving topless.

The ending is meant to foreshadow that inescapable doom, in the same way that Dawn, and to a lesser extent, Night did, but for me that was the weakest part of the film. I think by the time I had seen Zombi, I had already seen similar endings, in similar films till I am a bit jaded. Even though it’s my favorite, it was far from my first Italian zombie shocker.

Zombies in New York Harbor

As a kid in school back in the late 70s, and early 80s the papers were full of drive in ads. These ads were usually heavily saturated with European horror fare, especially zombie movies. I was too young to go to the drive in, but those wonderful ads were enough to set my heart on fire. I still have a special place in my heart for these films, even the really bad ones. Zombi isn’t one of the bad ones, it’s one of the best ones. People who only know a zombie from The Walking Dead or Warm Bodies, should definitely consider checking out Zombi. If you can take it

Zombie (2-Disc Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray]


New From: $24.97 USD In Stock

Billy the Kid vs Dracula

Billy the Kid Versus Dracula


New From: $3.00 USD In Stock

No, I’m not joking. This is a real movie about the meeting between the infamous Billy the Kid and the mythical Dracula. I had heard about this film long ago and was never able to track it down until the magic of Netflix. This is a film for those that enjoy a bad movie. The fact that everyone took this film completely serious is what makes it enjoyable. Be prepared for silly dialogue, sillier violence and a few major WTF moments. Then enjoy Billy the Kid vs Dracula.

The story centers on Dracula, played this time by John Carradine, who was no stranger to the role. He had played the immortal count back in the mid 1940s in Universal’s House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein. It might be noted that for an immortal he died in both films. Twenty years is a long time for a moral actor though and Carradine seems ill fit for Dracula. He seems much a threatening villain, and more a cantankerous senior citizen who has just found out casino night was canceled. I have a lot of respect for Carradine and his work in horror, but this wasn’t the right casting for a serious film. For fans of bad cinema though, it’s brilliant but sad casting.

For some ungodly reason  Count  Dracula is traveling on a stage coast out west.  In another weird move on of the fellow passengers, decides to show the leering old man a picture of her nubile young daughter. Dracula’s face turns red and his eyes bug out. Seriously, this is his “I’m a vampire face.” Ignoring this “I’m a perv with a hard on” look from the stranger, she goes on to tell him about her ranch and the cave full of bats nearby.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula with John Carradine

Since Dracula is an elderly immortal and apparently not much for conflict, he arranges for a group of Indians to attack the stage-coach. Killing everyone on board except him (he failed to get on at the last stop). After the slaughter, he pops in and assumes the identity of the ranch owners brother.  Did I mention he did all of this in the bright sunlight ? In fact throughout the movie Carradine’s Dracula moves about freely in the daytime without so much as a sparkle.

Now we cut to the ranch where, the nubile object of Dracula’s elderly erection, Betty, is target practicing with Billy the Kid. Now it seems that Billy has reformed and is living under the assumed name of William Bonney. Yeah, yeah, well that’s the way I understood it. Facts, smacks, we’re talking Hollywood baby.

Billy has settled down and now spends his days courting Betty, running the ranch, and beating the shit out of his pudgy ranch hand plated by Harey Carey Jr. Though usually Billy has to resort to pulling his gun and threatening to kill him. He is reformed ya know.

Billy the kid vs Dracula

Dracula shows up and moves into the ranch in order to woo Betty. Which with him pretending to be her uncle should be easy. This brings him into conflict with Billy. Billy begins to believe “Mr. Underhill” is a vampire. Why? Because a couple of Germans told him so. It might seem hard to belive but the townspeople are reluctant to belive Billy, a former cold blooded killer, when he tells them the kindly gentleman is a blood thirsty immortal demon. A blood thirsty immortal demon with wrinkles and a few grey hairs.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula vamping out

Battle lines are drawn between Billy, the Sheriff, and the local female doctor on one side, and Dracula, the mesmerized Betty and fatty the cow wrangler on the other. The climactic battle takes place in the abandoned silver mine. Where Billy shoots Dracula to no avail (Bullets wont hurt a vampire, you have to drive a stake through his heart) and then throws his pistol at him. While bullets had no effect, the thrown pistol knocks Dracula on his ass. He lays stunned long enough for Billy to stake him.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula

Staking not only kills Dracula but sends a bat flying out of the cave to crash and die, while Dracula lies inside wilting away. Once he is gone, Betty revives, and that’s pretty much it.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula is one you seriously have to see to believe. There are so many scenes that will leave you laughing. Most notably for me was the “vampire face”, which was simply a red light shown on Carradine while he bugged his eyes out, and Dracula getting floored by a thrown pistol. It’s stupid, silly fun. It does drag as a lot of these cheapos do, and it’s one of the things that hurt these so bad they are good films. Bad acting and bad plot add to the fun at times, but boring and slow takes away from that fun.

Also the girl playing Betty, was really boring. If I was Dracula, I would have nailed the Indian hottie that he drained and left to piss off the war party. Carradine was fun to watch but probably not in the way he hoped. Watching him move across the screen, you wanted to give him a hand more than run in terror. Carradine played Dracula again in the 70s, and I would love to see that when I get the chance. I really do love the old gent, and he’s a true horror icon.

So final verdict? If you can’t enjoy a bad film, don’t bother. But if you can, and you want to see a piece of Americana on film, check out Billy the Kid vs Dracula

Smash Cut

Originally posted at Lord Dixie’s Dark Domain

Smash Cut is former porn star Sasha Grey’s first venture into the world of horror film. In fact that’s one of the reasons I avoided it when it first came out. Other than Traci Lord few porn stars have really made the leap from adult to mainstream entertainment. Ginger Lynn Allen has had some success but mostly in small roles, but Jenna Jameson’s jump into horror in the horrible Evil Breed (which also featured Ginger Lynn) was what stuck in my mind whenever I saw Smash Cut on the video shelves.

Sasha Grey from Smash Cut

However I kept hearing good things about Smash Cut. Sasha’s other endeavors, such as her role on entourage, and her volunteering to read to school children, and resulting controversy, made me see her in a better light as well. Thus I went in search of Smash Cut. Unfortunately it was gone from the video shelves. I finally knuckled under and order a copy on Blue Ray. It was definitely not what I was expecting.

Smash Cut also stars the late David Hess, which any cult horror fan worth his salt will immediately recognize as the evil Krug from Last House on the Left. I am really sad I never got to meet David before he passed. Smash Cut was the perfect film for him, because he harkened back to a style of filmmaking that’s no longer around. In fact it’s nothing less than homage to the glory days of Hershel Gordon Lewis. While there is a huge stylistic difference between Craven who directed Hess in Last House and Lewis, both films were grindhouse splatter favorites. A lot of the criticism of Smash Cut comes from those who have no clue about HG Lewis, and have never seen one of his films.

David Hess from Smash Cut

The acting in Smash Cut is almost universally bad, so bad in fact that it has to be bad on purpose. The characters are almost carbon copy of Lewis and the dialogue made me think I was watching “Gore Gore Girls again.” The same with the effects, they are totally unbelievable, and have been shocked to see people attacking the special effects and then bringing up Lewis as an example of better filmmaking. Drop your nostalgia and watch one of HG Lewis films again and tell me how great the effects and acting are. Not to say that Lee Demarbre is as good (or as bad) as Lewis but he effectively channels and pays respect to him.

Jesse Buck could be a dead ringer in attitude and personality, from the intrepid investigator Abraham from Gore Gore Girls. He gives off that same vibe, and you are never really sure whose side he is on. His acting is probably closer to good acting than anyone else in the film, but it’s still bad as it should be.

Sasha Grey’s acting was laughably horrible. So horrible that her acting was wonderful, the blank stares, the painful pauses, the ridiculous lines she delivers so flat and deadpan. Ever her slightly off cue screams were all marvelous. Now I have seen Sasha act, both in Entourage, and in porn and I know she can act better than in Smash Cut. It was either a brave move or a brilliant move making this near spoof her first mainstream film. Brave in that many will assume this was her doing her best, or brilliant in that she can deflect any criticism to “acting bad on purpose.” Personally I think it takes talent to act that bad and Sasha has talent.

Despite all the attention to Sasha Grey, you can’t talk about Smash Cut without mentioning David Hess. Real horror fans were dealt a harsh blow when David passed, all too soon last year. He began, and made his career with a cult film, so it’s fitting that one of his last films is homage to cult films. Like the rest of the cast David’s performance will be criticized by those who don’t “get” Smash Cut and that’s very sad. David delivered the performance the film needed. Watching him in Smash Cut is pure joy, only tempered by the fact that he is now gone. He will be missed by those who knew him and respected his work.

Visually Smash Cut is a 70s film but with better technical quality. The colors are all intense and garish , with no muted tones. Everything is out there, watching Smash Cut is like walking into a strip joint on retro night. Either that or imagine a bomb going off in a day glow paints factory.

I read an online review where someone decried the music of Smash Cut as 70s porno music. The reviewer is right, but really what other music would fit. Watching and listening to this film was like being back in my giddy high school years and sneaking a forbidden VHS into the recorder while my parents were asleep.

The only thing missing was nudity, but I’m not going to tweak it for that. The film is actually better without nudity (bet you NEVER thought you’d see me type that didya?) Anyone who has never saw Sasha Grey naked probably doesn’t want to, and if they do all it takes is a Google of her name with “safe search” off.

Keeping her clothes on was probably a calculated, wise move to distance her a bit more from her porn past. It also harkens to those older films where there was more tease than tit. Sure HGL loved to show some nudity, but for the most parts those films promised way more than they actually show. C’mon who didn’t expect to see Sasha at least topless? I did till I was roughly half way through. What got me was that seeing the lovely Ms. Grey in a white sweater, sans bra, was so titillating despite all of her I have seen in the past. And yes, I have seen all of her.

The effects while gory are so unbelievable that only the faintest of heart will be disturbed. More than likely you will find yourself laughing at the death scenes unless you really do some suspension of disbelief. Like the rest of the movie you will either get it and enjoy it or hate it, and probably turn it off.

So final verdict? If you are a fan of Sasha Grey, and I mean real fan not just a fan of her sex games, you should enjoy it. If you are a real fan just get past the bad acting and lack of nudity and support Sasha. Fans of David Hess should likewise enjoy Smash Cut. His fans will also be more likely to “get” the film. Fans of HG Lewis and the gory cult days should also enjoy. Some may balk at the shoddy effects and weak plot, but most will get that it’s part of the charm of this film.

Smash Cut

People looking for a film that makes sense and has great acting should avoid it. Most of them simply won’t get the charm of Smash Cut. Sasha Grey’s fans from her porn days will probably be disappointed, some even angry. Tough shit, get over it, people move on in their careers and lives, let’s give Sasha a chance to shine in real films. So if you can deal with a film that has bad acting, horrible plot, bad effects and 70s porn music then pop in Smash Cut. If you are looking for the next Silence of the Lambs, keep looking, nothing to see here. All this and you get Michael Berryman in a Jewfro wig to boot!

Smash Cut [Blu-ray+DVD Combo)


New From: $9.96 USD In Stock

Werewolves on Wheels

Werewolves on Wheels
Werewolves on Wheels

Werewolves have long been a staple of horror films, just like bikers have long been a part of exploitation cinema. So like a Reeses Cup, it was only natural that these two great flavors come together. Right? Right. Well it happened way back in 1971 with Werewolves on Wheels. Biker movies were all the rage, and horror was a hot property so it was a sure thing. For fans of exploitation films it is a little known gem today. With the Sons of Anarchy making bikers and gangs popular again today, it’s time for people to look up Werewolves on Wheels and give it a view.

The Devil’s Advocates are as tough as they come. The movie opens with them beating up a group of rednecks who were, not to wisely, harassing them. Then they head to a gas station, where they engage in more mayhem with locals. This includes torturing the attendant by insulting him, shoving him around, and having one of their girls show him her tits. They were merciless.

Finally tiring of this, they decide to try something more hard core. Possibly crossing the street without looking, I mean these guys are tough. One of the members tells the gang about a church he knows about where monks perform satanic rituals. Well now that sounds right up The Devils Advocates alley. So as dusk approaches they head to the temple, and upon seeing the monks begin to insult them and call out to Satan. All seems to be going great until night falls, the monks serve them wine and bread and they club passes out. Personally I think it’s sad if you cant trust a group of Satanic monks who you were just insulting not to slip something in your drink, but that’s apparently what happened.

Werewolves on Wheels

The leader’s old lady (see how cool I am using biker lingo?) wakes up and heads to the temple where a black magic ceremony takes place. Then one of the highlights of the movie happens as she starts dancing and winds up bare ass naked. The bikers then rouse from their slumber grab the girl, slug the monks and take off on their bikes.

Not fully understanding what happened, they seem to wander the desert drinking, fighting, and playing grab ass like all tough bikers. Then suddenly they start disappearing and dying each night. After more driving, and drinking, and fighting, and dying they finally discover that their president and his old lady are werewolves. This leads to a fight scene where there actually are “gasp” werewolves on wheels. This may be the coolest scene in the film, other than the naked dancing girl, when the wolfed out gang leader is chased by the other bikers carrying torches.

They finally manage to subdue and kill the werewolves, and the gang, now eager for revenge, head back to the monastery. Or maybe they just want to wrestle and play grab ass with the monks for a change. Even though they have wandered for days they make it back to the monks in record time. They charge in ready for some non gay, man on monk action, only to stop when they realize……(ready for it?)…the monks are actually the bikers. Cut to end credits.

You will probably get tired of me saying this but, like a lot of old exploitation films, it’s hard to call this a “good” film in any technical sense. The acting, at least of the leads, is really not that bad for a film of this budget or genre, the sound track is actually excellent and the filming is adequate, but that’s about it. The story is about as silly as you would expect from a movie called Werewolves on Wheels, the pacing is beyond tedious at times, very little blood and gore, and the effects are also about what you would expect.

The magic in cult and exploitation films though, is that little of this matters. There is just something about them that makes them fun to watch. Sometimes that fun is in laughing at the silliness on screen, but that’s OK. I’d much rather spend an hour watching Werewolves on wheels, be that motorcycles or even scooters, than an hour watching Tom Cruise smile into the camera.

With a film like this you are also allowed a glimpse into another time. It’s more than just “wow this is how bikers dressed in the 70s”, but more of “wow this was what was acceptable in the 70s to be shown on film.” Films in the 70s were becoming less restrictive, and a film like Werewolves on Wheels was bound for the drive in, or grindhouse anyway, so they got away with things you might not see in a big budget film.

It came out 2 years before the Exorcist enraged Christians with it’s demonic plot, and four years after Rosemary’s Baby did the same with a much tamer plot. So Satanism was a hot movie topic, and it shows in Werewolves on Wheels with it’s mixing of lycanthropy and Satanism. The satanic references in the film surprised me until I looked at the time frame of these other two movies.

Still it’s interesting that the film contains the overt references to devil worship, quite a bit of nudity, and almost no profanity. Apparently a fully nude (although only her breasts and butt were shown, no full monty) woman was acceptable, “Hail Satan” was acceptable, but no cursing please. Maybe it’s me but one of the funniest things while watching the movie was seeing these tough bikers NOT curse. Plus for bikers, the level of violence was really low. Lots of fighting, but very little killing (except by the werewolves) or extreme violence. Another taboo of the setting.

dancing girl from Werewolves on Wheels

Werewolves on Wheels is one of my favorite finds in recent years. It really was just as much fun as I imagined it to be. While the mid point of the movie gets a bit tedious and slow, it’s not insurmountable, and worth sitting though for the payoff. Do yourself a favor, if you are feeling nostalgic, or just want to dive into the biker genre of the 70s, check out Werewolves on Wheels

I also need to add, that after a long wait, the sound track is now available from Amazon. If you watch the film, and want the sound track, I would appreciate you buying from the link below and supporting my blog. It’s not expensive to blog, but it isn’t free.

Werewolves on Wheels was directed by Michel Levesque. It stars Severen Darden, Donna Anders, and Steve Oliver

 

Werewolves on Wheels


New From: $9.92 USD In Stock

Mad Cowgirl

Mad Cowgirl definitely ranks up there with the weirdest films I have ever seen. It’s one of those movies that really defies being placed in a genre. I consider it a horror film due to it’s copious amounts of blood and gore, but it has elements of action, drama, romance,martial arts, exploitation, and really a little bit of everything.

Mad Cowgirls centers around Therese, played by Sarah Lassez (Lo), a meat inspector who MIGHT have mad cow disease. Or possibly she might just be going insane, or maybe she’s imagining everything. Her brother Thiery, played by James Duval (Donnie Darko, Sushi Girl) runs a meat-packing company. It’s the height of the Mad Cow scare and Therese finds out her brothers beef is contaminated.

This is when she becomes convinced she is infected with Mad Cow Disease.. We’re never sure exactly, but she does appear to have some type of brain disease. Since her doctor is from Sri Lanka and never speaks to her in English, honestly I was never really sure what he was telling her. There did appear that she had some disease, but there is always the chance she was just going insane and everything was from her fevered brain.

Walter Koening

One fact we know is that her love life is in shambles. Her husband has left her, and she s having a secretive affair with televangelist Pastor Dylan, played by Walter Koenig (Star Trek), which ends in a bad breakup. All the men in her life become her enemies, in a set of flashbacks that might or might not be real. She imagines battling them as in Hong Kong martial arts style scenarios, labeling them the “Ten Tigers of Kwangtung”. She also engages in an incestuous affair with her brother.

If all this seems weird, it’s because it is, and I am barely scratching the surface, and trying to be somewhat spoiler free. To be completely honest, I almost turned off Mad Cowgirl several times, but I just couldn’t. The weirdness kept me hanging on, during a few points when the films story really lagged. There were a few times when the weirdness just made me wonder why I was sitting though this, but I could not turn it off. Just like grabbing an electric wire, I could not ;et go even though I wanted to at times.

Mad Cow Disease or just insanity

The weak points are that the strangeness at times is overwhelming. Scenes seem random and thrown together. That and at times the story does drag. It takes a sense of the absurd, and a bit of patience to enjoy Mad Cowgirl. But if you can sit through it there are some gems.

Sarah Lassez

Sarah Lassez is wonderful as Therese. She is beautiful, and plays the part in a sad and tragic way that makes you feel for her, even in scenes that are disturbing. You really hope she is going to make it, even though you know she is doomed from the start. One of the most WTF moments for me was after her breakup with Koenig, when she lies back and spreads her legs against her big screen television while the Pastor is on the screen. As the camera zooms in for a close up she moans in ecstasy. It’s virtual head, with Chekov’s giant head on-screen. It’s more sexual than the head scene in Re animator, which was mostly played for laughs. The scene in Mad Cowgirl is just beyond surreal.

Probably the most controversial story line in Mad Cowgirl is the relationship between Therese and her brother Thiery. In all honesty, it is probably the best handling of incest I have ever seen in a film. It’s not gratuitous or explicit, and while it is shocking by it’s very nature, it’s mostly sad and desperate.

It’s no Game of Thrones, and you have to feel that this would be much closer to what would really happen in a relationship of this matter. You don’t feel her sickness drive them together, but something deeper, something that could be the root of her insanity. There would have to be something sad, and deeply painful to drive people into breaking that taboo.

With all the warped insanity of Mad Cowgirl, the scenes between the two was the most low-key, honest parts of the movie. The films doesn’t play it up or justify it, it just states it is a fact. It’s so matter of fact, that I had to rewind to convince myself they really were siblings.

Believe me I have only touched the surface of Mad Cowgirl’s weirdness. A lot of people won’t be able to handle the almost nonstop, and sometimes random insanity. But underneath the strangeness, there is a great little story with great acting and direction. It is underrated beyond my ability to measure. It deserves much more praise heaped upon it. Is it perfect, no. but for a low-budget film, with a cast of mostly unknowns, it accomplishes a lot. With all the mindless drivel out there, this gem of original insanity is refreshing.

So take a chance with this little morsel of fresh meat and don’t worry about the Mad Cow disease

 

 

Mad Cowgirl (Special Edition)


New From: $9.99 USD In Stock