Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

La semana del asesino (1973)

... aka: Apartment on the 13th Floor, The
... aka: Cannibal Man
... aka: Week of the Killer

Directed by:
Eloy de la Iglesia


Even though there's only a hint of (accidental) cannibalism in this misleadingly re-titled effort, Cannibal Man is an undervalued psycho-thriller / character study well worth checking out. Vicente Parra stars as Marcos, a disturbed slaughterhouse worker who lives in a small one bedroom house with his (usually-absent) brother. With his sanity barely in check as it is (notice the loud, ticking clock sound a la Repulsion, an obvious influence), Marcos finally snaps when a lecherous taxi driver attacks him and his girlfriend Paula (Emma Cohen). After fatally clubbing the man with a rock, Marcos and Paula can't agree on what to do and, during an argument about whether to go to the cops or not, Marcos ends up strangling her to death, sticking her under the bed and closing the door (out of sight... out of mind). His brother rolls into town, Marcos confesses to the murder and his sibling also tries to talk him into turning himself in and is immediately clubbed over the head with a wrench. More people will show up to the house (the brother's fiancée, her father, a slutty / lonely waitress from a cafe down the street...) looking for missing loved ones and none are ever heard from again.

The bodies, all kept in the bedroom, are beginning to stink and the neighborhood dogs aren't the only ones to notice. Marcos decides to dispose of the corpses a little at a time by chopping them up with a meat cleaver, sticking them into a small bag and taking them to work with him, where they're mixed in with the meat. He stocks up on perfume and air fresheners in the meantime. And all the while, he's befriended by a peculiar young man named Nestor (Eusebio Poncela) who lives on the 13th floor of an upscale high rise apartment right down the road and keeps an eye on what's going on around him with a pair of binoculars. It's this aspect of the film, the subplot about Nestor and Marcos, very different but social outcasts all the same, and their ability to relate to one another, that gives this film an extra spark of originality and much needed subtext.

Though there are some gruesome scenes at the slaughterhouse where real cows are butchered and some fairly bloody murder scenes, the climax is surprisingly non-gory, mature and believable and the director seldom dwells on blood-and-guts aspect of his film, but more on the psychological aspects of his characters. The production values are pretty good, the English dubbing is tolerable and the acting (particularly the two male leads) is competent, if not excellent, throughout, plus there are even a couple of black comic suspense scenes worthy of Hitchcock, particularly one with some neighborhood bullies playing keep-away with Marcos' bag.

Originally titled La semana del asesino ("The Week of the Killer"), but released to U.S. theaters first under the title The Apartment on the 13th Floor (with an exploitation ad campaign reminiscent of the one used for Last House on the Left). Supposedly banned in many countries upon release (it was a video nasty), the version I saw from Anchor Bay claims to be uncut and uncensored. Director De La Iglesia also made several other horror films. Too bad they're so hard to find. The cast includes Charly Bravo and Fernando Sánchez Polack (both from the director's MURDER IN A BLUE WORLD), Goyo Librero (from the director's NO ONE HEARD THE SCREAM, which also featured Parra in a lead role) and Rafael Hernández (the director's GLASS CEILING).

★★★1/2

Cat People (1982)

Directed by:
Paul Schrader

Review coming soon.

★★

Cataclysm (1979)

...aka: Nightmare Never Ends, The

...aka: Satan's Supper

Directed by:
Phillip Marshak
Tom McGowan
Gregg C. Tallas

CATACLYSM is the 92-minute, uncut version of a film also known as THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS and SATAN'S SUPPER. It's also available at a reduced length (with silly new fx inserts) in an unbelievable horror anthology called NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985). So, like it or not, if you're a horror fan you're likely to see this eventually in one form or another. The completely untalented Faith Clift (who had a bit part in HORROR EXPRESS and is an awful actress) stars as Claire Hansen, a female doctor who is plagued by nightmarish visions of Satan. Her husband James ("Charles"/Richard Moll before his stint as "Bull" on the popular 80s sitcom Night Court) is the Nobel-prize winning author of the sacrilegious nonfiction bestseller "God Is Dead." Claire discovers that Olivier (Robert Bristol, who gives the standout performance here); a wealthy, ageless, charismatic former ex-Nazi war criminal is actually Satan! Satan enjoys various social functions (including disco dancing!), has hooves when you see his feet and plots world conquest. Veteran character actors Marc Lawrence (as an aged Jewish Nazi hunter) and Cameron Mitchell (as the detective investigating the obligatory series of murders) are both after him. Although this one suffers from the usual low-budget restraints and laughable elements (some terrible acting, stiff dialogue), it's watchable thanks to some interesting and intriguing ideas in Oscar-winner Philip Yordan's screenplay, plus a couple of genuinely creepy moments.

All three of the directors had interesting careers. Director Marshak (along with his brother Darryl, who produced this) had just made the porno vampire movie DRACULA SUCKS, which was released in both R and X-rated versions. McGowan had worked with Russ Meyer (CHERRY, HARRY & RAQUEL) and Tallas had been editing and directing low-budget features since the 1940s.

★★

Cemetery High (1987)

...aka: Hack 'em High

Directed by:
Gorman Bechard

This is one of those films I'm almost embarrassed to admit I actually got some enjoyment out of. After being raped and/or assaulted, high school grads Kate (Debi Thibeault), Michelle (Lisa Schmidt), Dianne (Simone) and Kathy (Karen Nielsen) turn vigilante and aspire to wipe out all "scum-sucking assholes" in their town. Slobs, bikers, barflies, wannabe rapists, anyone who hits on them with a bad come-on line and, in one case, a guy who's just harmlessly walking down the street, are all immediately wasted. And other ladies in their hometown (and all across America!) prove to be quite impressionable, as they begin to do the same. Each time violence or nudity is shown, the warning gimmicks "gore gong" and "hooter honk" (a horn) are sounded. It's fun at first, but runs itself into the ground pretty quickly. The girls tell each other it's time to get naked, whine when they get blood on their shoes and fight over who gets to kill who. The mock documentary approach (also used in Bechard's PSYCHOS IN LOVE) where characters talk directly to the camera, is fun and used pretty well.
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Yeah OK, so this is desperate, stupid, senseless filmmaking and the cheap comic gags are often irritating, but it did make me laugh out loud several times, which is more than I can say for the entire Adam Sandler oeuvre. I was quite shocked to see this get a DVD release, too, as I was quite sure this rare video would just gradually disappear into oblivion. The director's next was the sci-fi comedy GALACTIC GIGOLO, which featured much of the same cast. Carmine Capobianco (who starred in PSYCHOS IN LOVE) co-wrote the script with the director and has a cameo here. Also with Ruth Collins (as a late edition to the "Scumbusters" who provides some topless-ness) and Frank Stewart as a coroner.
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The director claims that uncredited executive producer Charles Band butchered this film in post production (apparently it was originally to be called Assault of the Killer Bimbos - a title that was later used for an unrelated 1988 comedy), and claims the same fate befell his sci-fi comedy GALACTIC GIGOLO.

★★

Cassandra (1986)

Directed by:
Colin Eggleston

Review coming soon

★★

Chopping Mall (1986)

...aka: Killbots
...aka: R.O.B.O.T.
...aka: Shopping
...aka: Supermarket Horror

Directed by:
Jim Wynorski

An electrical storm turns three high-tech security robots into relentless killing machines that stalk a pizzeria worker/sweet new girl in town (NIGHT OF THE COMET's Kelli Maroney), a nerdy nice guy (Tony O'Dell) and three horny teen couples (newly married couple Russell Todd and Karrie Emerson, preppy couple Barbara Crampton and Nick Segal and trashy couple John Terlesky and Suzee Slater) trapped in a shopping mall. The robots are armed with lasers that make a girls head explode, claws (to slit a throat) and wires to electrocute victims. And they say "Thank you. Have a nice day" after each murder. This is fairly entertaining and professionally put together for a Wynorski film, but the best thing about it is the supporting cast, which includes pleasant in-jokes appearances by some very likeable Roger Corman (who was the executive producer) alumni. The always-welcome Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel show up as their EATING RAOUL personas during the first scene, plus Mel Welles has a scene as a cook, Dick Miller (who appeared with Welles in the original LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) has a fun bit as a janitor and Gerrit Graham plays an early victim.

Fans of the prolific director will also notice some of his regular rotation cast members in smaller roles; including Arthur Roberts (as Slater's stern father), Ace Mask (as a janitor who picks on Miller) and Lenny Juliano (as a burglar), all three of whom appeared in Jim's remake of NOT OF THIS EARTH, which also featured Ms. Maroney (who apparently was the off-screen girlfriend of the director for awhile). Hell, even Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man from PHANTASM) is in here somewhere. The "younger" cast (who look too old for the roles, of course) are better than average, the effects are decent and there's some female nudity provided by Crampton and Slater. ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS is seen on a TV and posters for Wynorski movies (such as THE LOST EMPIRE) are on the walls of a restaurant. Original title: KILLBOTS.

★★

Chilling, The (1989)

...aka: Gamma 693

Directed by:
Deland Nuse
Jack A. Sunseri

A low-budget zombie movie featuring cult stars Linda (THE EXORCIST) Blair, Troy (used to be a teen idol) Donahue and Dan (Grizzly Adams) Haggerty might sound like surefire cult movie material, but this represents the worst in bargain basement entertainment; not even good for cheap, unintentional laughs. Linda plays a nurse who works at a cryogenics lab under Troy. Lightning causes the frozen cadavers (who look like they were dressed in sheets of Reynold's Wrap) to come to life, attack and do the usual cannibalistic zombie things. The performances, special effects and dialogue are all terrible. But hey! Cool box art, huh? It was filmed in Kansas City.

C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud (1989)

Directed by:
David Irving

I don't know of anybody who actually wanted a sequel to the critical and commercial failure C.H.U.D. (1984), but here is one anyway. It’s pretty much just another stupid late 80s horror-comedy (there were far too many of these during this time), but the saving grace here is Gerrit Graham, who is pretty amusing and shows a gift for physical comedy as the titular bumbling ghoul. Some teenagers steal a corpse for a Halloween prank, not knowing that the seemingly docile dead body, when unthawed, will come to life as a flesh-eating zombie. Things get out of hand in town when characters that are bitten by "Bud" also turn into "C.H.U.D." (C.annibalistic H.umanoid U.nderground D.wellers., in case you've forgotten) and attack others.

Looking over the cast list, you'll probably recognize a lot of the familiar names (Robert Vaughn, June Lockhart, Norman Fell, Rich Hall, Priscilla Pointer, Clive Revill, etc.) but most are either completely wasted in cameos or just poorly used. Star Brian Robbins (then on the TV series Head of the Class) went on to direct GOOD BURGER, THE SHAGGY DOG, VARSITY BLUES and THE PERFECT SCORE. A horrifying list, indeed. Leading lady Tricia Lee Fisher is the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Connie Stevens. Robert Englund also appears in an uncredited cameo. Scriptwriter "M. Kane Jeeves" is actually Ed (HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS) Naha. Do not watch this movie!

1/2

Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, The (1989)

Directed by:
Peter Greenaway

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Confessions of a Serial Killer (1985)

Directed by:
Mark Blair


Although it didn't get released until 1992, Confessions is a surprisingly efficient and well done low-budget serial killer film. Unfortunately, many people probably passed it by because the packaging makes it look like a cheap rip-off of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), which it is certainly not. Robert A. Burns had already acted in the killer dog movie MONGREL and done brilliant production design/art director for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, RE-ANIMATOR and other horror hits. He makes his lead acting debut here as Daniel Ray Hawkins, white trash serial killer, who narrates this (uncredited) look at real-life mass murderer Henry Lee Lucas from behind bars. It's not quite as good as the brilliant HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986), of course, but it does predate that film by a year and might actually be a more accurate depiction of the actual murder spree. The flashbacks trace the development of this psychotic mind from childhood (with a hooker mother who flaunts her tricks in front of the kids and a crippled, depressed father driven to suicide), to his first murder of a prostitute as a teenager, to older "Hawkins" traveling around rural Texas constantly on the lookout for new victims. He eventually joins up with fat, slobbering, psycho-pervert Moon Lewton (Dennis Hill) and his equally unhinged sister Molly (Sidney Brammer), who becomes Hawkins common-law wife. The trio try to settle down and live a more straight life, getting jobs at the home of an often-absent doctor (Ollie Handley) and his spoiled blonde teen daughter (Dee Dee Norton), which will eventually lead to their downfall.

The violence is often brutal and disturbing, the performances are rough-edged and effective, there are some moments of effective black (sick) comedy and a semi-documentary approach that imbues this with an effectively quiet everyday realism. It's certainly worth a look if you like these kind of films.

★★★

Combat Shock (1984)

...aka: American Nightmare

Directed by:
Buddy Giovinazzo

First released to theaters as AMERICAN NIGHTMARE (in 1986), this is the story of a screwed-up Vietnam vet named Frankie (Ricky Giovinazzo, brother of the director) who is struggling to get by in New York City. His bickering, miserable wife (Veronica Stork) is constantly criticizing him because he can't get enough food to feed the family, which includes a horribly deformed little baby (one of several key elements swiped from ERASERHEAD). Frankie sets out to the streets to get rent money so they won't get evicted. The atmosphere is extremely grim, with drugs, crime and prostitution running rampant all over the seedier areas of the city where Frankie spends much of his days. He's hassled by cops while waiting in an unemployment line and is chased around and beat up because he is indebted to mobsters.
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Hampered by some uneven (and unconvincing) amateur acting, this extremely depressing tale has some potent nightmarish imagery, gritty photography and enough powerful, disturbing and/ or thought-provoking moments to make it worth one's time. It was the first effort from the director/producer/editor, who'd also make the unfinished MANIAC 2: MR. ROBBIE (1989), before heading to Germany to direct TV shows. It's one of the most interesting films in Troma's huge catalogue and is available in both a cut R rated version (85 minutes) and a director's cut version (92 minutes).

★★1/2

Collector, The (1965)

...aka: Butterfly Collector, The

Directed by:
William Wyler


Acclaimed psychological drama in which a reclusive, mentally unstable butterfly collector (Terence Stamp) kidnaps and holds an art student (Samantha Eggar) hostage in a large dungeon in his country home. Both actors won awards at Cannes, and the film was nominated for three Oscars (for best actress, director and adapted screenplay). Based on the novel by John Fowles.

★★★

Crawlers, The (1990)

...aka: Contamination.7
...aka: Creepers
...aka: Troll 3
...aka: Troll III: Contamination Point 7

Directed by:
Fabrizio Laurenti

Big city girl Josie (Mary Sellers) has just arrived back in her small Alaskan hometown for an extended stay with her mother and kid brother, and decides to try to reconcile with her former high school boyfriend Matt (Jason Saucier) while she's there. Down at the nearby nuclear power plant, illegal chemical dumping (part of an obligatory and half-assed cover-up subplot) has resulted in animated, super-intelligent, radioactive tree roots that are killing everyone off. Victims include an obnoxious sheriff, a female hitchhiker passing through town, a farmer and his wife, a hooker with a heart of gold and a gas station attendant and his pet dog Chester. The roots mostly just trip or strangle people and make a hilarious whip-cracking noise whenever they attack. They also make a (toy) helicopter explode by pulling it about two feet to the ground. During the film's one and only bloody scene, the roots go into a guy's mouth and then poke the eyeball out of a mannequin head. And that's about all she wrote with this dull-as-dishwater waste of time, which would be totally forgotten by now if not for a misleading title change linking it to the notoriously awful camp classic TROLL 2. So be forewarned, no trolls make an appearance in CONTAMINATION.7 (aka TROLL 3). Hell, there aren't even any goblins.

And unfortunately, while TROLL 2 failed in an enjoyably awful way, this one fails to reach that film's same level of redeeming unintentional hilarity. Though thoroughly inept, it's also boring, clichéd, slow-moving and far too tame to really be all that enjoyable in a junk movie way. The fact they used inexperienced local "talent" to fill out the cast, along with providing these laughably bad amateur thesps with truly rotten dialogue throughout the film, is the only point of possible enjoyment, though even that got old quickly.

Probably best known as THE CRAWLERS here in the States, though the version I viewed was titled CREEPERS. Don't know if that's a cut version of this film or not, but I highly doubt it. I'm also not sure of Joe D'Amato's actual involvement since his name (or "David Hills" for that matter) is nowhere to be found in the credits, but he's still listed as co-director on many sites. Only one director is listed in the version I viewed and that's "Martin Newlin;" the same alias used by Fabrizio Laurenti for the film WITCHERY (1988). The costumes were designed by none other than EMANUELLE star Laura Gemser and her husband Gabriele Tinti (who died in 1991) supposedly has a small role in the film as well, even though I don't recall seeing him anywhere.

NO STARS!

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

...aka: Black Lagoon

Directed by:
Jack Arnold

Review coming soon.

★★★

Creature (1985)

...aka: Alien Creatures
...aka: Titan Find

Directed by:
William Malone

Some male and female astronauts on the desolate planet of Titan get on the wrong side of a two-thousand year old extraterrestrial creature capable of controlling its victims. Klaus Kinski has a small supporting role as a neurotic doctor and is used mainly for comic relief. The director also made the monster movie SCARED TO DEATH (1980), which featured a similar monster. Review coming soon.

★★

Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)

Directed by:
Roger Corman

Ever heard of Roger Corman's 1957 effort NAKED PARADISE? Well he remade the same story twice, once as CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE and once as this. Yes it's cheap, yes it's silly as all hell, yes it might have the worst monster costume of all time, yes it frequently pops up on "worst of all time" lists, but this delirious high camp offering puts most other horror comedies to shame thanks mainly to a hilariously off-kilter script by Charles B. Griffith. So yes, against my better judgment I ended up liking this one quite a bit. Not quite up to the standard set down by the teams LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, but it'll do. More review coming soon.

Score: 6.5 out of 10

Creature of Destruction (1967)

Directed by:
Larry Buchanan

At the upscale Tanglewood Beach Resort, a honeymooning couple is found viciously murdered in their room. Or more eloquently put by a copper on the case, "...their neck bones were mutilated to a pulp!" Couldn't have anything to do with the arrival of shady stage hypnotist John Basso (Les Tremayne) and his miserable blonde hottie assistant Doreena (Pat Delaney), could it? Nah! One thing's for sure, pot-bellied resort owner and all around greed-monger Sam Crane (Neil Fletcher) could care less as long as he's getting his piece of the pie. Seeing how popular Basso's act has become, he has decided to promote them and potentially make millions on the side. I mean, who really cares if every once in awhile a couple of necking teens get slaughtered as long as the dough's rolling in? Sam's bland daughter Lynn (Suzanne Roy) is conveniently dating studly "air force parapsychologist" (?) Ted (Aron Kincaid) and he seems to know all about things of the other-worldly nature. He also believes the sudden rash of murders and rubber-lizard-monster-with-ping-pong -ball-eyes-and-over-sized-plastic-fangs sightings may somehow involve the newly hired resort entertainment. And he is correct. It all has something to do with Doreena being the reincarnation of some 17th Century British woman and having a "physical link" to a sea monster. Or something. Lt. Blake (Roger Ready) and company are on the case.
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This 16mm effort from Texas-based schlockmeister Larry Buchanan (a color remake of 1956's THE SHE CREATURE that was sold directly to TV by AIP) opens with a five minute pre-credit sequence that makes no sense whatsoever and doesn't really improve much from there. The film is not only bogged down by ultra-low production values (flat and too-dark cinematography, continuity errors galore, ragged edited, etc.), but is also far too slow-moving and talky to maintain much interest. Not only that, but there's precious little sea monster action in this one, the monster costume is completely laughable and the lame ass monster attack scenes all take place completely off screen. There's nothing really to recommend about this once, except for...
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Two cheesy Beach Party-style musical/dance numbers that came out of nowhere and keep this from scoring an otherwise well-deserved 1. The lead singer is some surfer-looking guy named Scotty McKay, who sings several songs at a beach dance party. The second one is about Batman and pretty cool. The most hilarious moment however is when Scotty sits down on the beach to sing a depressing song about "lonely people" and then suddenly a bunch of smiling teens jump up and start vigorously dancing! Afterward poor Scotty drives off on his motorcycle and gets mauled to death by the creature and we never hear from him again. Sigh.
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Horror fans should recognize Tremayne from one of his many horror/sci-fi outings (THE MONOLITH MONSTERS, THE SLIME PEOPLE, etc.) and may also know "Ann McAdams"/Annabelle Weenick (the sanitarium doctor from DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT), who has a supporting role as Sam's wife. And of course "Beach Party" viewers will know Mr. Kincaid. Apparently he tried to sue AIP before finishing out his contract so they forced him in to star in this film.

Crawlspace (1986)

Directed by:
David Schmoeller

A former Nazi war criminal (Klaus Kinski) crawls around his apartment building air shafts spying on women before killing them. Fairly well-photographed, but silly and borderline campy, effort filmed in Italy for Charles Band's Empire Pictures at least has some visual style and a dedicated wacko performance from Klaus. Pino Donaggio did the score. Director Schmoeller talks about what a pain in the ass Kinski was to work with in the documentary short PLEASE KILL MR. KINSKI (which he also directed). More review coming soon.

★★

Creepy Classics (1987)

Directed by:
Pamela Page

CREEPY CLASSICS begins with a psychologist talking about 1959's HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, informing us it was filmed in "Hypno Vista...the most fantastic advance ever to be made in motion picture entertainment!" Then it cuts to everyone's favorite campy charmer Vincent Price as he sits in a old movie theater making comments about a compilation of clips from classic vintage horror and science fiction movies of the 50s and 60s. There are over two minutes worth of clips apiece from INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956), I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957) and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and a running gag is made out of Christopher Lee's battle with the disembodied hand in DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1964). We also get the trailer for, and some funny scenes from, THE RAVEN (1963), the great pendulum scene from PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961), and trailers for ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE (1958), THE BLOB (1958), THE SCREAMING SKULL (1958), WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST (1958), DINOSAURUS! (1960), GORGO (1961) and THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1962). And that's about it in this harmless enough half hour view.

Not much ground is actually covered here, and die-hard horror fans have seen most - if not all - of these trailers and clips before, though when this was released back in 1987 that probably wasn't the case as I'm sure many of these movies were difficult to find. Price being the host, of course, helps considerably and makes this of more interest than it otherwise would be. He's full of his usual enthusiasm, makes some hilarious facial expressions and gets plenty of cheesy one-liners. After watching a zombie eating a bug he comments "Kind of makes you want to go to the refreshment stand, doesn't it?" After seeing the triffids in action; "Kind of makes you want to start watering your rhododendrons, doesn't it?" So if you're a Price fan, this'll be a half hour well spent. The original VHS release from Fox Lorber came with a ten-question trivia card.

★★

Spalovac mrtvol (1968)

...aka: Cremator, The

Directed by:
Juraj Herz

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Curse of the Living Corpse, The (1964)

Directed by:
Del Tenney

Review coming soon.

★★

Crash and Burn (1990)

Directed by:
Charles Band

It's the year 2030 and various characters (a elderly station director, his granddaughter, a deliveryman, a teacher, a sleazy talk show host, a pair of female porno stars and a handyman) end up stranded at an isolated television station during a nuclear storm. Characters start turning up dead thanks to a faulty android, who is hidden amongst the group of otherwise normal humans. The futuristic Ten Little Indians-style storyline is aided by David Allen's excellent stop-motion special effects, which are effective but scantly used in this low-budget production. A giant robot, similar to the one from ROBOT JOX (1990) and its sequel ROBOT WARS (1993) - from the same team of filmmakers over at Full Moon - shows up at the very end and the screenplay pinches numerous ideas from a variety of popular sci-fi and horror movies, such as WESTWORLD and THE TERMINATOR. The cast (many of whom appeared in other Band productions) includes Megan Ward (in her debut film), Ralph Waite (from The Waltons), Paul Ganus, soap opera actress Eva La Rue, Jack McGee, Elizabeth Maclellan (PUPPET MASTER 2), Bill Moseley and John Davis Chandler.

★★

Cutting Class (1989)

Directed by:
Rospo Pallenberg

If this was indended to be a slasher movie spoof - kind of hard to tell since many of them were so hopelessly cliched to begin with - it didn't go far enough. Regardless, it'll likely never go out of circulation because current mega-star Brad Pitt (one of the most overrated actors on the planet) has a early co-starring role, which naturally all of the new DVD reissues naturally play up on big time. Pitt plays the jock boyfriend of 80s teen Scream Queen Jill (THE STEPFATHER) Schoelen and the two were apparently an item off-screen as well. Donovan Leitch (who is the son of singer Donovan and also appeared in the good BLOB remake a year earlier) also stars as the troubled new guy in school, who has just been released from an insane asylum and peaks the leading ladies interest because he's, you know, a bad boy. Someone starts killing people off in "creative" ways like baking them in a kiln and smashing their head against a xerox machine. Poor Martin Mull spends most of his screen time crawling around in the muck with an arrow sticking out of his back. Roddy McDowell plays a mean teacher. A chick cheerleads without panties on. It's not very good.

1/2

Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987)

Directed by:
Ken Dixon

Energetic throwback to 1950s-style sci-fi/horror/action flicks features blonde, bikini-clad space captives Daria (ASSAULT OF THE KILLER BIMBOS star Elizabeth Kaitan, billed as "Elizabeth Cayton" here) and Tisa (Cindy Beal) escaping from their prison ship chains and ending up stranded on a desolate, sparsely populated planet. They stumble upon the castle home of a sadistic, black-clad hunter named Zed (Don Scribner) whose hidden trophy room contains animals, monsters... and humans. Eventually he sets the girls, plus Shala (Brinke Stevens), another stranded woman whose brother he has just killed, out into a mutant-infested tropical forest and hunts them down with a high-tech laser and two hulking robots. It's silly, the pacing is fairly brisk, the girls look great in and out of various skimpy outfits (and are quite often chained to castle walls to appease the slightly kinkier audience members), the sets and weapons (those laser-blasters look like something that might come with your video game system) are amusingly cheap-looking and the rubbery low-budget special effects (from John Carl Buechler) are pretty fun, making this B-grade MOST DANGEROUS GAME a decent effort for fans of B grade entertainment.

After a healthy ten+ year run in mostly low-budget films, Kaitan got married and retired from acting in the late 90s, then became a secretary for conservative activist David Horowitz. After being out of the spotlight since, she popped ten years later in the 2009 documentary HIS NAME WAS JASON. Brinke, of course, is still in the business and has amassed over 150 credits since the early 80s. Many of the space special effects (flying saucers and such) were lifted from BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980) and other Roger Corman productions (I've seen the same exact fx lifted for at least two dozen other low-budget productions) and clips from that (and this) were later used in the worthless compilation BIMBO MOVIE BASH! (1997). Charles Band was the (uncredited) executive producer. Director Ken Dixon also made the very fun zombie compilation video ZOMBIETHON (1986).

★★

Slaughterhouse (1987)

...aka: Bacon Bits
...aka: Pig Farm Massacre

Directed by:
Rick Roessler

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Bestia uccide a sangue freddo, La (1971)

...aka: Asylum Erotica
...aka: Beast Kills in Cold Blood, The
...aka: Clinic of Shadows, The
...aka: Cold-Blooded Beast, The

Directed by:
Fernando Di Leo

The 'hotel' of the title is actually a secluded country 'loony bin' where rich men drop off their inexplicably beautiful and unhinged wives. It is never made quite clear, but you get the strong impression that the husbands want rid of these women... permanently! How else can you explain a hospital staff so inept they spend more time in the front yard playing croquet than dealing with the patients? Or the fact that a blonde whack-job can attempt to club a doctor over the head with a log and never be restrained or reprimanded? Or a front lobby filled with Medieval torture weapons that anyone can pick up at any given time? A cloaked killer (seen only in shadow until the end) makes full use of the 'tools' and proceeds to whack off a head with a scythe, chop up a body with an axe, shoot an arrow through a neck and more. While this film may be stretching for the surreal (and I'm really stretching by even suggesting that), and there are a few interesting segments, it still is likely to be a big disappointment to many horror fans. Those looking for female nudity or soft-core porn, however, may want to give it a look. Klaus Kinski has very little to do here as Dr. Francis Clay. He basically spends time sitting around and talking to pouty-lipped recovering patient Cheryl Hume (Margaret Lee). But Kinski's the type of actor who could sit there clipping his toenails and still be a great red herring in films like this. Unfortunately, the script relies less on character quirks to make the actor seem like a suspect than it does on his similar hair-style. Oh well, let's forget about Klaus for a minute...

It is actually Rosalba Neri who has the film's most interesting role and gives the best performance, and she is why this movie isn't a total washout. Handed a throwaway super-slut character (an extreme nymphomaniac named Anne Palmieri), Neri refuses to walk through her role like most of the rest of the cast and injects her character with the proper air of desperation. One of the very best scenes in the film has her writhing in the shower, trying to keep her feverish sexual instincts in check. See, Anne is in such bad shape, she can't even shower without being distracted by thoughts of sex. Wearing an amazing black outfit (which rivals Erika Blanc's in THE DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE), she tries to sneak off to have sex with the groundskeeper several times, then tries to seduce two orderlies at once. She gets one guy in the sack... errr, greenhouse (her recklessness almost making her an early victim), then ends up slapping the guy in the face because he won't let her stay the night! Alas, Ms. Neri dies earlier than she should and the film comes to a halt without her energy and professionalism.

John Karlsen (BLACK SUNDAY) plays another clinic doctor and Monica Strebel is a lesbian nurse who seduces a young black woman (Jane Garret, who is about as animated as a rock throughout) by massaging her ass, bathing her and dirty dancing to some God awful Euro-pop song. The horror sequences are nothing great (unless you shiver at the thought of ketchup-smeared murders), but the director wears out the zoom lens when it comes to exposing female flesh in extreme close-up. In fact, there are several pretty graphic female masturbation sequences that make this one briefly cross into hard X-rated territory. One even features Ms. Neri. Since the heavy stuff is done in a solitary close-up, it's most likely another actress doing it, but you never can tell.

Original publicity tried to gain an audience by comparing the silly goings-on in this one to the Richard Speck killings! The Shriek Show SLAUGHTER HOTEL DVD release (which uses a print with the title THE COLD-BLOODED BEAST) is a pretty complete version of the film; a good-looking print with most of the nudity, sex and gore intact. It is very well photographed. Unfortunately, there's a major sound problem toward the end where the dialogue is not matched up with the action. Also on the disc is a brief interview with the director, who himself says this film is definitely nothing special but still appreciates the cult following it has. He also harps on the beauty (and figure) of Neri and claims Kinski (despite a difficult reputation) gave him no problems whatsoever and, in fact, ended up giving the entire crew a big tip when he finished filming his scenes!

1/2

Slayer, The (1982)

...aka: Nightmare Island

Directed by:
J.S. Cardone

A muddled, under-populated shocker about two vacationing couples; troubled artist Kay (Sarah Kendall) and her doctor husband David (Alan McRae) and Sarah's brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook), who travel to secluded Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia. A deformed mutant monster, which has been a frequent fixture of Kay's nightmares since childhood and has now somehow manifested itself in the real world, shows up to kill them all off. Stupid character actions, too many scenes of the couples wandering around the island and a plotline that makes little actual sense drag this movie down somewhat, but there are some excellent gore scenes including a head being smashed in with an oar, a pitchfork being thrust through the chest, a cigarette to the hand and hooks ripping off skin. The location work, music score and photography are all decent.
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Originally released in the U.S. by Continental Video on a double tape with SCALPS (1981). It was also a banned video nasty in the UK.

★★1/2

Slaughter (1976)

...aka: Dogs

Directed by:
Burt Brinckerhoff

Eleven dogs (that's what I counted) decide they've had enough of playing fetch and terrorize a town, wiping out everyone at and around a small California college. The story is stupid, boring and talky, everything is too dark, lead actress Sandra McCabe can't scream, a strategically placed shower curtain hides a potential nude scene for future TV star Linda Gray (after a rabid poodle attacks) and, oh yeah, beware of ferocious felines coming soon to a town near you. Also available under the ingenious title DOGS. Some videos claim it was made in 1972. David McCallum and George Wyner star as college professors, along with Jim Stathis (THE BLACK ROOM) and Russ Grieve (THE HILLS HAVE EYES).

Skull, The (1965)

Directed by:
Freddie Francis

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Silver Bullet (1985)

...aka: Cycle of the Werewolf
...aka: Stephen King's Silver Bullet

Directed by:
Daniel Attias

Review coming soon.

★★

Silent Scream (1979)

Directed by:
Denny Harris

What starts off as a so-so slasher flick finally picks up steam during the last half hour thanks entirely to a memorable guest appearance from horror queen Barbara Steele. Four California college students; spunky Scotty (Rebecca Balding), nice guy Jack (Steve Doubet), rich kid Peter (John Widelock) and pleasantly plump Doris (Juli Andelman), all looking for affordable off-campus housing, end up at a seaside mansion with several rooms (and even more secret passageways) for rent for less than 100 bucks a month. The home's stern, humorless owner, Mrs. Engels (Yvonne De Carlo) and her weird, geeky, voyeuristic grandson Mason (Brad Rearden) are strapped enough for cash that they risk all by revealing a dark family secret they've tried to keep hidden in the attic for years - mute, mentally disturbed murderess Victoria (Steele). When a drunken Peter ends up getting stabbed to death on the beach, police detectives Cameron Mitchell and Avery Schreiber are on the case.
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Quite restrained when compared to its early 80s slasher competition (there's some blood, but no explicit gore) and nothing really new script-wise, but this succeeds in a few areas others of its type do not. For starters, the level of exaggeration is kept to a minimum and the premise is a bit more plausible than usual. Secondly, the characters are at least tolerable and more appealing than the annoying clods who'd later start populating these types of films. Another difference is that there's little of that thinly-veiled conservative heirarchy with it comes to who lives and who dies. In other words, the victims aren't all "bad" kids who indulge is sex and drugs and our heroine isn't a holier-than-thou virgin. And finally, as mentioned earlier, the film really benefits from a creepy, intense, yet wordless, performance from Ms. Steele, who is able to convey much emotion through facial expression alone.
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The Media VHS, issued way back in 1983, is long out of print and as of this writing, the film has never been on DVD. Code Red announced they'd be releasing it in 2007, but have apparently handed over the reigns to a company called Scorpion Releasing, who promise to be getting this out by the end of the year. I guess we'll see!

★★1/2

Signalman, The (1976) (TV)

... aka: Ghost Story for Christmas: The Signalman
... aka: Signalman by Charles Dickens, The

Directed by:
Lawrence Gordon Clark

Feeling inexplicably "drawn" to it, a nameless traveler (Bernard Lloyd) stumbles upon a tiny, isolated building situated at the bottom of a ravine next to a railroad track. There he encounters a signalman (Denholm Elliott), who at first seems suspicious of the traveler and lives a quiet, lonely existence operating the danger light for passing trains about to enter through a tunnel. The two men quickly strike up a friendship and realize they can relate to one another, especially in regard to their feelings of isolation and loneliness. The signalman spends most of his time reading books and studying math, while the traveler is alone in his travels and reveals that he spent some time incarcerated (whether in a prison or mental home, it's not made quite clear). Something's obviously bothering the signalman; he's on edge, nervously jumps to his feet at the sound of the bell signaling an arriving train and runs over to the window to check on them, almost as if he's expecting the worst to occur. Seems that particular stretch of track has a bad history. There was a crash in the tunnel a year earlier which killed and injured many and, just sixth months later, a bride fell to her death from one of the passing trains.




Immediately before each of the horrific incidents, the observant signalman had noticed strange, almost supernatural things had occurred; a strange hum sounded from his warning bells, a mysterious telegraph was sent, a voice rung out from inside the darkness of the tunnel and the shadowy figure of a man was seen waving his arms in warning. And now, for a third time, the signs that a tragedy is about to occur are happening all over again...






Andrew Davies adapted the Charles Dickens story for this 40-minute "Ghost Story for Christmas" BBC TV presentation. It was the first time the series (which began back in 1971) deviated from the works of famed ghost story writer M.R. James, though the change in source author goes almost completely unnoticed here. Tonally it's right in tune with the other James-based films in the series, and both thematically and stylistically it is unmistakably the work of Lawrence Gordon Clark, a talented director who worked exclusively in television and whose ability to generate atmosphere and chills on the most modest of means is consistently impressive. Sadly, the man never really did get his due. The Signalman is an eerie, subtle piece of work with a palpable sense of isolation, solid performances from its two leads and supernatural elements left effectively ambiguous.





Clark also made The Stalls of Barchester (1971), A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972), LOST HEARTS (1973), The Treasure of Abbot Thomas (1974), THE ASH TREE (1975) and STIGMA (1977) for this series.

★★★

Shivers (1975)

...aka: Frissons
...aka: Orgy of Blood
...aka: Parasite Complex, The
...aka: Parasite Murders, The
...aka: They Came from Within

Directed by:
David Cronenberg

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Shock (1977)

...aka: Al 33 di Via Orologio fa sempre freddo
...aka: Beyond the Door II
...aka: Schock (Transfert-Suspence-Hypnos)
...aka: Suspense

Directed by:
Mario Bava

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Sex Killer, The (1967)

...aka: Girl Killer, The

Directed by:
Barry Mahon

Barry (THE BEAST THAT KILLED WOMEN) Mahon directed this black and white grindhouse "roughie" about a lonely, disturbed young stock clerk named Tony (whoever plays "Tony" decided he didn't want to be credited). Ostracized by his co-workers, Tony takes to the street with a pair of binoculars to spy on topless rooftop sunbathers. His girlfriend (whom he takes on a date to a coffee shop) is actually the head of a mannequin and she isn't very chatty, so he eventually starts spying on and strangling women who are conveniently in some stage of undress. One of his first victims is a hooker, whom he forces to strip before killing her. A blonde in a mesh top is dead after about five seconds of strangulation. In the most memorable attack, he jumps in on a woman wearing only a jacket over her shoulders and rips it off, sending the short-haired bitty streaking down the hallway buck naked in a panic. The plot is almost nil, there's very little dialogue (a good thing judging by what is shown) and the whole thing runs a measly 56 minutes (also a blessing for this type of film), but the black-and-white photography isn't bad, there's a virtual smorgasbord of female flesh (white, black, British...) and the location work is excellent.

By default, it's fascinating to just sit back and watch the hustle and bustle of New York City circa the mid 1960s and for that reason alone you may want to check this out if you're game for something otherwise silly. The cast includes a few 'nudie' movie veterans, including Rita Bennett, Sharon Kent (INDECENT DESIRES) and Uta Erickson (A THOUSAND PLEASURES). It was released on a "Sharpshooter Triple Feature" DVD from Something Weird Video, alongside ZERO IN AND SCREAM and THE ZODIAC KILLER.

1/2

Serpent and the Rainbow, The (1988)

Directed by:
Wes Craven

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Seeds (1967)

...aka: Seeds of Sin

Directed by:
Andy Milligan

Review coming soon.

★★

Seizure (1974)

...aka: Queen of Evil
...aka: Tango macabre

Directed by:
Oliver Stone

Review coming soon.

★★

Seconds (1966)

Directed by:
John Frankenheimer

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Scream of Fear (1961)

...aka: Taste of Fear

Directed by:
Seth Holt

Review coming soon.

Score: 8 out of 10

Scream Greats, Vol. 2: Satanism and Witchcraft (1986)

Directed by:
Damon Santostefano

Review coming soon.

★★
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