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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Los ritos sexuales del diablo (1982)

...aka: Black Candles
...aka: Hot Fantasies
...aka: Naked Dreams
...aka: Sexual Rites of the Devil

Directed by:
José Ramón Larraz

Ultra trashy Spanish horror/ sex/ Satanism flick from the director of the cult erotic hit VAMPYRES (1974). Someone uses voodoo to kill a man during sex. Soon after, the dead man's sister Carol ("Vanesa Ashley"/Vanessa Hildago) and her professor husband Robert ("Martin Ren"/Mauro Ribera) arrive in England for a brief vacation and decide to stay with her eccentric, elegant sister-in-law Fiona ("Martha Belton"/ Helga Liné). Fiona takes them back to her large country estate, the same place Carol grew up, and immediately things start getting too weird for comfort. Fiona makes no attempt to hide her interest in the black arts, with a collection of framed demonic lithos and her use of black candles. She also uses a peephole to spy on her guests having sex, which is just the second of the many sex scenes (there are at least ten in this movie). The third comes immediately after during a nightmare sequence where Carol dreams she's running around in her lingerie being chased by brother Andrew, before the two of them get busy (!) in the same bed he died in. In turns out that Fiona is involved in some kinky Satanic sex cult, which promises Earthly success to its followers, and she wants Robert and Carol to join them. Using some kind of special herbal tea, she's able to neurotic Carol partially sedated, but she's still on edge and apprehensive because of Fiona's strange behavior, her nightmare and the fact she heard her brother's voice telling her to "Leave here forever" while visiting his grave. Robert on the other hand is an easier target and finds himself being seduced by both Fiona and by the cult.

Irritatingly, Carol's dumb ass doesn't leave when she should and is introduced to various coven members who regularly hang out around at the home. These include the intense, bearded "renegade" Reverend Hooper (who sports one claw-like fingernail), his sexy young god daughter Annalise (the girl Andrew was screwing when he died), the bisexual kleptomaniac maid Georgina, stable boy Peter, friendly Dr. Gold (who tries to give Carol tranquilizers at one point), married couple Mr. and Mrs. Consauli and others. I can't give you any of the actors' names who played those parts because the credits have been "Americanized" and are fakes (director/writer Larraz uses the alias "Joseph Braunstein" again). Anyway, Carol sneaks downstairs and catches her hubby in the middle of a full-blown sex orgy involving all of the people listed above. She goes upstairs and goes to sleep, saying nothing. The next day, her husband comes into the bedroom, anally rapes her, then tells her to shut the hell up and then smirks "You're a fucking drag." This barely seems to phase Carol (she's been pretty bitchy since the beginning anyway so...), and she remains in the house. Before long she finds herself being pinned down and initiated into the cult. Serves her right, pretty much. Certain aspects seem to have been influenced by ROSEMARY'S BABY (the tea, the husband being an easily swayed jerkoff, the doctor conspiring along with everyone else, etc.) Notice, I said certain aspects, this does have a few "moments" to distinguish itself...

Like goat sex! Yes, young Annalise and a black horned goat have ritualized (simulated) sex in the barn with everyone watching. There's some icky talk about mixing fluids of "the beast" that they need for their ceremonies to justify it. Georgina the maid (Carmen Carrión) is even show in an earlier scene prepping the goat by massaging its.... Well, no need to get too detailed about it. Speaking of Georgina, her husband John (Alfred Lucchetti) is getting sick of the cult and wants to go to the police. They remedy this by pinning him down and sticking a sword up his ass. And then there's all the sex and all the talk about sex, which is all fairly graphic and raunchy. And that brings me back to Helga Liné. I've always enjoyed her performances from the 60s (NIGHTMARE CASTLE) and 70s (HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB), and she does a fine job here as well. She's perfect for these roles as classy, almost regal women with a dark side. What is amazing is that she was almost 50 years old when this was filmed, looks fantastic for a woman of her age and is featured in many nude sex scenes. Talk about a gravity defying body. The other women in the cast (all of whom are seen fully nude) seem to vary in age from early 20s to late 40s/early 50s. The guys, well... You can't win 'em all.

So if you want Satanic sex with some sick elements thrown in, you should enjoy this. If you're wanting straight Satanic horror, you may be disappointed. I'm on the fence about it. A bit monotonous at times, but it's attractively photographed, with some nice soft focus work, and the other technical aspects (score, editing) aren't bad. Neither is the acting.

★★

Berserker (1987)

...aka: Nordic Curse, The

Directed by:

Jef Richard
While camping in the woods, three teen couples are killed by a possessed mountain man. The killer dons a bear suit, offs most of the victims by clawing them to death and is the victim of a Nordic curses (explained by prolific B/cult actor George “Buck” Flower in a brief appearance). A little blood and a little nudity don't save this from being a complete bore.

Beguiled, The (1971)

Directed by:
Don Siegel

Well-made, offbeat and surprising American gothic horror story was a great change of pace for Eastwood at the time, and still stands up quite well today. Review coming soon.

Score: 8 out of 10

Beast Within, The (1982)

Directed by:

Philippe Mora

Review coming soon.

★★

Beetlejuice (1988)

...aka: Beetlegeuse
...aka: Beetle Juice
...aka: Maitlands, The

Directed by:
Tim Burton


Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Beast That Killed Women, The (1965)

...aka: Beast That Ruined Women, The
...aka: Beast That Molested Women

Directed by:
Barry Mahon

Some movies, no matter how technically abysmal and brainless, are pretty much impossible for me to dislike. Case in point is this wonderfully awful full-color "nudie" effort from a guy who has plenty of experience in the field - Barry Mahon. The film revolves around a woman named Betty (played by Dolores Carlos from A TASTE OF BLOOD) who is obsessed with getting an "all over tan," and her hen-pecked husband Byron (played by future director Byron Mabe), who is so dedicating to making his pushy bride happy that her takes her to a Florida nudist colony... where the men wear shorts! The happy-go-lucky nudists are too caught up in topless sunbathing, shuffleboard, volleyball, square dancing and luaus (!) to notice when an escaped man-in-a-suit gorilla starts dragging people off into the woods and clobbering them to death! His first victim is a fully-clothed redhead wearing neon pink capri pants. Mary, a courageous policewoman, ends up going in undercover as a nudist to stop the monkey business. The all-too-few attack scenes where victims are cornered and then beat to death had my sides aching from laughing so hard. Two scared topless women cuddle in a bunk bed for comfort and speculate about the recent series of murders in another classic moment. The acting and dialogue (“She said it was big and hairy!”) are an almost indescribably bad and there's plenty of T&A (though no frontal nudity). This was filmed in Miami Beach and was Mahon's first color feature (and is surprisingly well photographed). No cast is credited, though it features many of the top nudie models of the era; some of whom are obviously foreign and don't seem to have a full grasp on the English language. For fans of bad movies, this one is a keeper.
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Something Weird Video comes through yet again on the DVD, which is a double feature with the almost equally hideous nudist camp horror opus MONSTER AT CAMP SUNSHINE (a black-and-white effort made in 1964). Also featured on the disc are some memorable shorts entitled BRING 'EM BACK NUDE (from way back in the 1920s!), EXPOSÉ OF THE NUDIST RACKET (1938), a nudie version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1952), BACK TO NATURE (1954) and THE NUDE FASHION SHOW (1963).

1/2

Beast of Yucca Flats, The (1961)

...aka: Atomic Monster
...aka: Violent Sun, The

Directed by:
Coleman Francis

Tor Johnson plays a Russian atomic scientist (!) who’s chased right into a nuclear blast by Communist agents. As a result, he turns into a club-carrying killer mutant. This mostly silent film is linked together with pondering, senseless narration. The run time is only 54 minutes and it's usually on list's of the worst movies ever made. No arguments here.

NO STARS!

Beast Must Die, The (1974)

...aka: Black Werewolf

Directed by:
Paul Annett


Invited to a secluded, heavily-guarded mansion under false pretenses by big game hunter Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart), a group of people are soon told by their host that he believes one of them to be a werewolf. This fairly popular British effort, while passable, could have been a lot better (at least in my opinion). I'm sure the premise seemed more high tech when first released, with some mild James Bond-like touches (video surveillance, automatic weapons, etc.), and elements of blaxploitation, Agatha Christie and monster movie woven into the storyline, but I don't think it was brought together all that well. I didn't really like the presentation of the "werewolf" (which is simply a big dog or a wolf), the cinematography was usually flat, murky and/or too dark and, as much as I like many in the cast, most were wasted and the dubbing was really distracting. Peter Cushing's accent seemed to come and go and bits of his dialogue appear to have been added later by someone else and sounds like a completely different person. No clue why they redubbed Marlene Clark either, as she's a fine actress in the other films I've seen her in. In addition, it was frustrating seeing Charles Gray (a suspect) and Anton Diffring (a surveillance expert) wasted playing colorless supporting roles, though the scene where the latter is killed was probably the highlight of the film for me.
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The "werewolf break" (narrated by Valentine Dyall) is kind of amusing, though in my opinion the film flat out fails as a mystery in the same exact way many other genre films fail as mysteries - it doesn't adequately flesh out its characters after cursory introductions, nor does it offer up any real clues to aid viewers in uncovering the killer. The identity is the kind of pull-it-out-a-hat crap shoot that annoys me, minus any kind of exposition or insight to tie it all together or make the big reveal satisfying. In other words, instead of giving us 30 seconds to think about what we've seen, only about 2 seconds are needed because one guess is as good as another. That said, there was one decent twist that did catch me a little by surprise, so I'll give it credit for at least providing that.

★★

Buio Omega (1979)

...aka: Beyond the Darkness
...aka: Blue Holocaust
...aka: Buried Alive
...aka: Final Darkness, The
...aka: In quella casa... buio omega

Directed by:
Joe D'Amato

Few people know that this popular cult film is actually a pretty faithful, though much gorier and more explicit, remake of an impossible-to-find 1966 film called IL TERZO OCCHIO (aka THIRD EYE). Just figured I'd give that film its due before diving into this one. Kieran Canter is Frank Wyler, a deranged young taxidermist who resides in a beautiful Italian villa with his companion Iris (the haunting and very creepy Franca Stoppi). After Frank's girlfriend Anna (Cinzia Monreale aka Sarah Keller from Fulci's THE BEYOND) passes away, he digs up her corpse and brings her home along with an obnoxious, pot-smoking hitchhiker, where in very graphic detail he removes Anna's clothes, slices her open with a scalpel, removes her bloody organs and tosses them in a bucket before stuffing her and eating the heart. When the hitchhiker awakens and stumbles onto this, Frank pins her down and rips out all her fingernails with pliers (!) before strangling her. Iris is in love with Frank and tells him "You'd be nothing on your own!," while helping him. In one scenes she hacks up a nude body with a butcher knife while blood splashes all over her face and clothes. Frank frequently visits and talks to Anna's corpse, and likes to seduce women into the same (big) bed where his rotting amore lays. When one girl sees the body, he bites a chuck out of her neck and eats the skin while blood gushes out of her wound. Bodies are disposed of with acid or burned in an oven. Investigators, a balding guy who seems to be on to things and Anna's lookalike sister Eleanor (also played by Monreale) add extra complications.

The gore effects are pretty disgusting and convincing and this is one of D'Amato's best genre films; an entertaining stomach churner with lots of shocks and good low-budget ambience. Memorable music score by Goblin, too.

★★1/2

Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1965)

Directed by:
William Beaudine

See the late, great camp champ John Carradine (then at the ripe ole age of 60) as Dracula for the umpteenth time, wandering into the Wild Wild West and setting his sights on lovely ranch owner Betty Bentley (Melinda Plowman), whose future husband just happens to be legendary outlaw Billy the Kid (Chuck Courtney). Title gives away the film’s entire plot as Dracula pursues, Betty screams and Billy saves… over and over and over again. Carradine claimed this low-budget horror comedy (which was filmed in just eight days) was his worst film, but I personally think he's done worse than this. Some of the dialogue in Carl Hittleman's silly Grade D script is mildly amusing, at least. Director Beaudine (who used to hold the record for live-action directorial credits... over 150!) also made JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER that same year, which this was often co-billed with.

1/2

Birds, The (1963)

...aka: Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds

Directed by:
Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock obliterates man's belief of superiority on this planet in the man vs. nature classic; one of his most violent and enigmatic features. Tippi Hedren stars as Melanie Daniels, a free spirit who arrives in the quaint seaside town of Bodega Bay just in time for birds of all varieties to start randomly attacking those in the town. Groundbreaking shots, suspense and shocks based on Daphne Du Maurier's short story, scripted by Evan Hunter (who's also known as novelist Ed McBain). A worthless 1994 "sequel" (with a cameo from Hedren) followed over two decades later. Full review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Bikini Island (1990)

Directed by:
Anthony Markes

Finalists for the coveted title of Swimwear Illustrated cover girl travel with photography crew in tow to a secluded island for a shoot, become trapped and are then systematically bumped off by a mysterious killer. All the elements needed to please B/trash/exploitation fans are here and accounted for; bad acting, stupid dialogue, sex watched through peepholes, endless modeling sessions set to cheesy rock songs, death by bathroom plunger, a van driven over a cliff, nudity, breast-bouncin' volleyball games with slow motion high-fives, a snake eating a mouse and ridiculous multiple suspects, including a gross Arabic (?) motel manager named "Frab" (read it backwards) who keeps caged chickens in his bedroom and sucks on his bottom lip while ogling stolen pictures of the beauties! However, we the viewer are slightly caught off guard when we realize the painstaking work it took the scriptwriters to justifying the eventual triumph and survival of lead blonde starlet Annie Kelly (Holly Floria). She's nice enough to lend out her string bikinis and suntan oil to the others and thus, dammit, she deserves to live!
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Even though this is dumb in the extreme, the filmmakers wear their stupidity like a badge of honor, play up on the silliness the entire time and have a sense of humor about all this. There's a lot of skin, but less actual nudity than one might expect. Incidentally, the soundtrack to this movie is great! If there were a CD released, I'd buy it! And thanks for finally giving us a song about "Little teeny weenie, French cut bikinis," that was so deserve.

★★

Il gatto nero (1989)

... aka: Black Cat, The
... aka: Dead Eyes
... aka: Demons 6
... aka: Demons 6: Armageddon
... aka: Demons 6: De Profundis
... aka: Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat
... aka: La posesión del gato negro (Possession of the Black Cat)

Directed by:
Luigi Cozzi

Someone could write an entire book trying to make sense out of Italian horror film re-titlings for foreign distribution. Now this'll get a little confusing, so please try to bear with me. Since Dario Argento was taking forever to conclude his "Three Mothers Trilogy" (which began with 1977's Suspiria, was followed by 1980's Inferno and then rested in limbo for nearly three decades), director Luigi Cozzi decided to step in and finish it for him. In some areas, it was advertised as the final chapter in Argento's trilogy. In others, it was released as Demons 6: De Profundis (or Demons 6: Armageddon), which makes it part of the series of films began by Lamberto Bava in 1985. However, this film has absolutely nothing to do with any of those films. This has also been given the wholly misleading title of Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat here in the States even though its connection to Poe is tenuous at best. So what exactly is it? A Suspiria sequel? A Demons sequel? A Poe adaptation? Actually, not really any of the above. Since Argento completed his own trilogy in 2007 with the release of La terza madre (Mother of Tears), I'd just refer to this one as a "Suspiria offshoot" that does some name dropping and borrows some of that film's mythology but is otherwise unrelated.

Now back to the movie...

Popular horror film actress Anne Ravenna (Florence Guérin) takes the lead role as Levana - a legendary witch burned at the stake in 13th Century Prague - in her director husband Marc's (Urbano Barberini) newest effort; described as an updating of Suspiria. Levana seemingly returns from the grave as a clawed, maggot-infested, lumpy-faced ghoul who causes death for the cast and crew members and makes Anne have a lot of disorienting nightmares and delusions. Adding to the fun/confusion are scenes in outer space (?!), a television set that spews guts and green slime, a helpful little girl "fairy" (played by the director's daughter Giada Cozzi) who shows up on a TV set, a neck slashing, an exploding body, sexy Caroline Munro (playing an actress here) in a bubble bath and in lingerie (sorry fellas, no nudity), a car going through a house and lots of pointless shots of black cats (the movie really has nothing to do with Poe other than that).

Cozzi's nutty movie is chock full of Italian horror movie references, as he pays due homage to the inventive directorial styles of directors Bava and Argento. Everything is drenched in bright color and the camera-work, music score (borrowing music riffs from Suspiria and even White Lion's cover version of "Radar Love") and sets are pretty good, along with special attention paid to Bava-esquire zoom shots. Though this is not really a very good movie, it's enjoyable absurd and interesting enough to hold your attention. Munro apparently didn't have a very good time on this shoot as evidenced by an article in a 1991 issue of Fangoria titled "Ripped Off in Rome," where she discusses in great detail being stiffed her salary and the numerous troubles the film faced; partially because of a shoddy co-production and distribution deal between director / producer Cozzi, producer Lucio Lucidi's World Pictures Corporation and Menahem Golan's 21st Century Film Corporation. Production had to be shut down several times due to the financing falling through in June 1989 but was picked back up and finished in September 1989. I still don't know whether Munro ever received her money or not.

The cast includes American actor Brett Halsey (Return of the Fly) as a film producer, Jasmine Maimone (who appeared in the original Demons, along with Barberini), Luisa Maneri (Body Count), Karina Huff (Fulci's The House of Clocks) and Michele Soavi in an uncredited cameo as a director. Though the film was released in Japan, Germany, Argentina (as La posesión del gato negro), Poland (as Czarny kot) and several other countries, it has never been officially released on VHS or DVD here in America, though the British and American video rights had been sold to RCA / Columbia back in 1989. The first time I ever saw it was on late-night cable TV at around 2am.

★★

Bloodbath at the House of Death (1983)

Directed by:
Ray Cameron

Horror parody that mixes England's "carry on" style of humor with a standard horror plot. Some paranormal researchers go to "Headstone Manor" to investigate a series of occult related murders. Third-billed guest star Vincent Price has a minor role as the head of the Satanic cult. One man is flushed down a toilet, plus there's death by mole (not the animal), a killer teddy bear and an amusingly overdone opening sequence (count the dead bodies). I've seen this, but it was too long ago to write a detailed review for it so I'll try to give it a rewatch sometime.

Score: Needs a rewatch.

Black Room, The (1982)

Directed by:
Elly Kenner
Norman Thaddeus Vane

Very interesting low-budget American horror film; this is definitely worth a look for fans of the bizarre. Myster-ious, sexy siblings Jason (Stephen Knight) and Bridget (exotic-looking Cassandra Gava - as "Cassandra Gaviola" - who is best remembered for her small role in CONAN THE BARBARIAN) lure swingers to their Beverly Hills mansion; seducing victims with the prospect of kinky sexual games, they lead them into the title room and kill them. It turns out they both suffer from a rare genetic disease and need fresh blood to survive, which they obtain by hooking victims up to a machine with clear tubes that drain their victims dry. Thrown into the mix are Larry (Jimmy Stathis), a married everyman with kids, who rents a room off the deadly duo following the mysterious murder of its previous tenant, and his sweet, but a little too trustworthy wife Robin (the very appealing Clara Perryman), who starts snooping around the home when she suspects he's being unfaithful.
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While not really 'great' in the traditional sense, this obscure and seldom-discussed film is still oddly engrossing. It's plenty bloody, darkly sexual, the four lead performances are all solid, there's a sick/perverse angle to the plot and the rough-around-the-edges production complete with dim lighting, seedy-looking sets and grainy photography add to the gritty, effective low-budget ambience. The ending may take you by surprise, but it's still a bit hard to swallow. Plus be on the lookout for small roles played by familiar character actor Christopher McDonald (THE FACULTY, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) and famous Scream Queen Linnea Quigley (as a babysitter). It was filmed in 1981, but not released until 1984.

★★1/2

Blades (1988)

Directed by:
Thomas R. Rondinella

JAWS meets CADDYSHACK in this TROMA-released horror parody, which follows the entire plot of Spielberg's film nearly scene-for-scene. The "Tall Grass Country Club" is the setting, when a possessed power lawnmower (a supposedly "menacing" machine that looks about as threatening as a pile of rolling scrap metal) goes on a killing spree. Three extremely dull people - a former professional golfer turned hard-drinking has-been needing to prove himself (Robert North), a female Golf Pro angry at losing a promotion (Victoria Scott) and the groundskeeper (Jeremy Whelan) - set out to stop all the carnage and, in slow spots, dumb jokes about "strokes" and "shafts" are made. The low level camera angles are cool, but there isn't enough violence, scares or action for horror fans and not enough laughs for comedy fans, though this has a handful of amusing moments. A dull cast doesn't help matters.
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There are cameo appearances from many Z-grade directors, including Jon McBride (CANNIBAL CAMPOUT), Donald G. Jackson (THE DEMON LOVER), John P. Finnegan (GIRLS SCHOOL SCREAMERS), Rondinella himself as a TV director and who could forget the profilic Alan Smithee.

1/2

Black Widow (1987)

Directed by:
Bob Rafelson

Interesting, but overall disappointingly minor psycho-thriller (with some definite horror elements), involves the suspicions of an ambitious, plucky female U.S. Justice Department investigator (appealingly played by Debra Winger), who suspects that a succession of dead, wealthy men are somehow tied together. Eventually, she's convinced that beautiful and seductive Catherine (Theresa Russell) is a cold-blooded serial killer who marries then murders men for their money... and she's right. After the mysterious deaths of a rich toy manufacturer in Texas (played by Dennis Hopper) and a likewise well-off Seattle businessman (Nicol Williamson), Winger follows Russell to Hawaii (where most of the film's best scenes take place), fueled not so much by capturing the guilty, but by a strange obsession of getting to know the rich, cold-blooded murderess. Slight parallels are drawn between the two strong but otherwise completely different women but unfortunately Ron Base's screenplay leaves too many loose ends, doesn't really flesh out the characters as much as they should have been and never seems to capitalize on the films true potential, foiling a good premise and two excellent lead performances contributed by the talented ladies. Despite being a very entertaining film, this just seems like it should have been more substantiative.
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Supporting parts are filled by good character actors and familiar faces such as Terry O'Quinn (THE STEPFATHER), James Hong (PRINCE OF DARKNESS), Diane Ladd, Lois Smith, Mary Woronov (in just one scene as a scuba instructor), Rutanya Alda, Leo Rossi, filmmaker David Mamet (as a poker player) and Anne Lockhart.

★★1/2

Blob, The (1988)

Directed by:
Chuck Russell

Review coming soon.

★★★

Bloodmoon (1990)

Directed by:
Alec Mills

An Aussie slasher/mystery about killings going on at a private school. Review coming soon.

★★

Blood Games (1990)

Directed by:
Tanya Rosenberg

Review coming soon.

Score: 4 out of 10

Blood on Satan's Claw (1970)

...aka: Devil's Skin, The
...aka: Devil's Touch, The
...aka: Satan's Skin

Directed by:
Piers Haggard

Bizarre and highly effective witchcraft thriller focuses on a small farming village in 17th Century England ripped apart after a young plowboy unearths a strange-looking skeleton. Soon, most of the teenage population (plus some of the adults) begins to worship Satan and hold human sacrifices. They're headed over by the wonderfully evil (and very attractive) Linda Hayden as the ironically named Angel. A scene of her presiding over a gruesome (and highly disturbing) rape/murder sequence is a memorable highlight of this overlooked gem, which also boasts excellent period detail and art direction, atmospheric photography, an unnerving score and strong performances (especially from Hayden and Patrick Wymark, who's also excellent in one of his final film roles as a stern, God-fearing judge). There's even an appearance by Satan himself, who appears here as a growling, hairy, clawed beast. It's theme, rural setting and cast of youthful Devil-worshippers may remind one of the CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984), but while that film was moronic and ultimately ineffectual, this one's fascinating; very vivid, haunting and lurid, with a pure horror atmosphere you don't come across too often.
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Made by the short-lived Tigon British Film Productions, who were around long enough to put out at least two excellent genre films; this one and WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968). The cast includes Barry Andrews (DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE), Michele Dotrice (AND SOON THE DARKNESS), Tamara Ustinov (Peter's daughter) and Simon Williams.

★★★

Yingyang jie (1974)

... aka: Blood Reincarnation
... aka: Yin yeung gai

Directed by:
Shan-si Ting

Uneven three-part horror anthology, with liberal doses of heavy-handed moralizing, is presented by Peter K. Yang and opens with a scroll that reads (at least according to the English subs) "Charm can do no good on ghost. You better believe it. This film is based on Cantonese legend and asks that people do good deeds." The first story, "The Treasure," opens on a dark and stormy night as pregnant young Ah Heung (Shirley Huang) is going through a traumatic labor. The woman's husband, Ah Tak (Shih Tien), notices that the eyes on an old ladies corpse (which is kept downstairs) won't stay closed and the image on a photo of her keeps changing. We then go into flashback mode to reveal that the dead lady - Gan Niang (Chi Shih Yong) - had tried to run off with a basket (presumably containing a treasure) that Ah Nak had unearthed. In a fit of rage, he killed her with a hoe. Somehow this results in a murderous demon baby that bites off a finger and chews out a throat. Pretty silly, and it runs only about ten minutes.

Next up in "The Wanton," an adulterous woman (Meng Li) and her lover (Yu Yang) hit the husband over the head with a hammer, trap him inside a trunk and sink it in the ocean. When they return home they find themselves cursed with water and visions of the murdered husband. In one scene, the guy can't stop urinating and nearly floods the street. Their bathtub becomes a bottomless portal to the sea. A mystic (who strangely looks identical to the dead husband) advises them to retrieve the trunk and replace the metal nails with wooden ones to trap the spirit inside. After doing so, they both have a nightmare about their bed bleeding and spinning around, before he becomes possessed by a dog (?!), pants, sniffs her, licks her and finally starts biting her. Again, this is short (about 20 minutes), goofy, overacted and doesn't really seem to take itself too seriously. Some of the lighting choices are colorful.

The final story, "Lau Tin Sok," runs nearly an hour and is more serious-minded than the first two segments. Yang Chuh (who also goes by the names Kwan Yeung and Peter Yang Kwan) stars as the title character, a nice, charitable doctor who specializes in acupuncture treatments. Royal court messenger/executioner Chiu Hung (Chi Lien Kuei) shows up asking for the doctor to help out a wealthy Madam (Wang Ting), who is suddenly suffering from fainting spells and seems to be delusional. Another man (Chang Pei Shan) doesn't want the madam to become lucid again because she'll spill the beans about them being lovers, so he steals the doctor's pins, kills the Madam with them and lets the good doctor take the blame. Dr. Lau is thrown in prison and learns from the executioner (who has befriended him because he helped cure his young son) learns of "Blood Reincarnation," a technique used by monk's to return from the dead for seven days. The doctor goes through with the ceremony (which involves facing a certain direction, saying where you're from and rubbing blood on your chest) before he's beheaded.

Immediately after, Dr. Lau returns home to his wife Siu Wun (Tang Pao Yuh), mother (Au-Yang Sha Fei) and son. His strange behavior (refusing hot food, refusing to bathe, casting no shadow and feeling ice cold to the touch) forces him to reveal to his wife what he truly is (a ghost), and he tells her he returned home to visit with them one last time, say goodbye to his patients and complete a book to give to his infant son. Meanwhile, the real killer hires an exorcist to try to capture Lau's spirit and conceal his earlier crime. This final tale gets a bit too mushy and melodramatic during the drawn-out conclusion, but it's far better than the two stories preceding it. The cast is very good (particularly the lead actor, who's excellent), the story and mythology are both interesting and there's an amusing little twist at the very end.

A bit difficult to find this one here in the U.S., and to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't really go out of my way to secure a copy of it even though there are worse examples of the anthology format out there.

★★1/2

Blood Salvage (1990)

...aka: Mad Jake

Directed by:
Tucker Johnston

Jake Pruitt (Danny Nelson) is a psycho, bible quoting tow-truck driver with a slight lisp who causes auto accidents, kidnaps people and sells their organs to black market dealer Mr. Stone (Ray Walston). Tubes, machines and moaning, half-dead people fill up his filthy barn, actually a secret lab (!) where victims are kept on life support until all of their organs can be removed. He also has two sons; the portly, innocent, retarded and sweet-natured Roy (Ralph Pruitt Vaughn) and the sadistic, mean Hiram (Christian Hesler), and a flesh eating pet crocodile that he feeds unfresh body parts to. Lori Birdsong co-stars as April Evans, a bitter, pretty, paralyzed teen girl in a wheelchair who Jake sees competing in a beauty pageant and decides to kidnap, keep hostage in his home and "help" by giving her injections of spinal fluid directly into her back. But the rest of April's family isn't so lucky. After Jake sabotages their RV and tows them back to his home/junkyard, dad Cliff (John Saxon), mom Pat (Laura Whyte) and kid brother Bobby (Andy Greenway), are all chloroformed, taken to the lab and promptly have their organs portioned out. With no one left to turn to for help, can handicapped, pampered April manage to survive life in the sticks with a nutjob on a psycho Robin Hood kick bent on stealing from the healthy to give to the sick?
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This independently-produced feature from Georgia is much better than expected, with decent performances (with an especially memorable one from Nelson), plenty of gore and black humor and an exciting car chase finale. Yes, it borrows a lot from movies like MOTEL HELL and several Tobe Hooper features, but it's entertaining and well-done nonetheless. Boxer Evander Holyfield (also an executive producer!) has a cameo and Elvis Presley even makes a special guest appearance.

★★★

Blood Relations (1987)

Directed by:
Graeme Campbell

Confusing, but very interesting little Canadian horror/thriller opens like your typical erotic thriller, then gets extremely ridiculous (and more entertaining) as it goes along, with lots of horror elements thrown in. Thomas (Kevin Hicks), estranged from his family, returns home to the family mansion with his sexy French girlfriend Lydie Denier in tow. The brain surgeon father (Jan Rubes) and ailing grandfather (Ray Walston) are the only two living there and before long everyone is in a sick competition for a multi-million dollar inheritance. The twist ending comes out of left field and is a surprising conclusion to the blackmailing, backstabbing and seduction which takes up the bulk of this film. The slick photography and broadly engaging performances help, and if this seems too slow-moving and talky during the first half, try to stick with it. There's a pretty good payoff. The cast includes Lynne Adams (THE CARPENTER) and Steven Saylor (who also wrote the film).

★★1/2

Blood Simple (1984)

Directed by:
Joel Coen

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Blood Sisters (1986)

...aka: Slash

Directed by:
Roberta Findlay

Possessed nightgown! Strangulation by garter belt! Lesbian hooker ghosts! While these things may seem like fun new additions to the slasher movie subgenre, this film flat-out fails to deliver on all counts. It begins with a psycho kid blasting a fat hooker and her trick with a rifle at a whorehouse, before cutting to modern times (13 years later) at the Kappa Gamma Tao sorority house. After wasting time at a bar and with a sex scene, sister Linda (Amy Brentano, who some claim is actually adult film actress Kari Foxx under another name) takes seven pledges (including redhead Shannon McMahon, star of another awful collegiate horror called PLEDGE NIGHT) to the now abandoned brothel for an initiation scavenger hunt. The house has been booby trapped by fun-loving frat guys (who look like they're pushing 40), but ghosts and a psycho killer show up to do them all in. It just takes forever to get to that point.
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Director/writer/cinematographer Roberta Findlay, who is probably one of the Top 5 most prolific female directors of all time, handles some of the supernatural scenes reasonably well given the budget (a standout being an interesting ghost/mirror sequence), but with its low-grade cast of unknowns, dark/dreary atmosphere, lack of on-screen gore, slow-moving script (it takes nearly an hour before the first sorority sister is killed!) and derivative plotline, BLOOD SISTERS isn't very much fun to watch. And I still have no idea why the house is full of ghosts of the people who used to work there (even the younger prostitutes) since only two murders were actually committed. One semi-decent touch is that most of the girls are given slight personality quirks. There's apprehensive girl, sarcastic girl, fitness girl, nerdy/whiny girl, frumpy girl, snobby girl and slutty girl. Guys wanting to see sexy babes cavorting around in little clothing might be somewhat disappointed that most of the ladies keep their clothes on, though there's a couple of topless scenes and a very awkward lesbian scene.

Small roles are also played by John Fasano (the director of ROCK N' ROLL NIGHTMARE and BLACK ROSES), Pam La Testa (who was in Findlay's THE ORACLE) and late 80s/early 90s Scream Queen Ruth Collins. What ever happened to Ruth, anyway?

1/2

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1990)

...aka: Picking Up the Pieces

Directed by:
Dean Tschetter

Uneven, but sometimes highly amusing horror comedy which has a few things in common with the slightly better known cult flick HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS (1987). Like many others of its type, the jokes either hit or they don't, but at least there are a few really good ones, the tone is consistently quirky and it really hits its stride during the last 30 minutes or so, which are genuinely fun and fast-paced. There's also plenty of the red stuff for gore hounds, courtesy of Tom Savini. Someone in a fez is going around Pittsburgh killing innocent women (mostly hookers). Two detectives; hard-nosed vet Sweeney Birdwell (Jake Dengel) and his weak-stomached partner Joe Blocker (Joe Sharkey), who strangely knows all of the victims from his days in Las Vegas, are on the case. They're joined by the daughter of a missing policeman (Susann Fletcher) who shows up in town and finally brings some competence to the investigation. The first victim has her brains scooped out of her head, and there's also death by industrial strength vacuum cleaner, industrial strength trash compactor, jackhammer and parking meter. A funny subplot involves Sweeney's obnoxious chain-smoking wife Erma (producer Beverly Penberthy), who uses one of those electronic voice box things to talk and is jealous of every woman in the same room as her husband. In one scene she tries to kick her smoking addiction by going to a clinic where she's forced to watch scare videos, is punched in the face and then shocked with electric cattle prods. Most of the cast is good, but former adult film actress Veronica Hart (Jane Hamilton) gives the standout performance as a timid roller-skating waitress with a couple of dark secrets. Some Pittsburgh area zombie film alumni - Pat Logan (the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake), Don Brockett and Debra Gordon (both of whom played zombies in DAY OF THE DEAD) and Taso N. Stavrakis (an fx man and stunt performer who played a motorcyle raider in DAWN OF THE DEAD) - round out the cast.

The Collector's Edition DVD from Lucky 13 (which is a decent print of the film) has a loads of extras, including deleted scenes, interviews with producer Penberthy and writer-director Dean Tschetter (who used the alias Alan Smithee on some of the prints), behind the scenes footage, press kit pictures, publicity stills, storyboards, the script and a whole bunch more stuff you pull up by popping the disc in your computer.

★★1/2

Bloody Movie (1987)

...aka: Terror Night

Directed by:
André de Toth
Nick Marino

1920s film star Lance Hayward is missing to the world at large, but people begin mysteriously dying around his abandoned estate. Three teen couples (including a woman who is a huge fan of the presumably deceased actor) end up going there on an otherwise boring weekend and rummaging through the place. They find old movie props, a locked vault, nitrate movie cans (that come in handy during the fiery finale) and some other interesting things until they start disappearing one by one. There are also a few barely-seen Zoot Suit-wearing phantoms who lurk around the woods and use two cars to pull a guy in half.
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Director Nick Marino's contribution to the 80s slasher cycle does not fully overcome the familiarity of the premise, but stylistically he is trying something a little bit different, beginning with mock silent screen credits and a great song by Ian Whitcomb which is also an effective evocation of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Before each murder, we get a flurry of movie clips from anonymous films and comic-book like shots of movie stills and lobby cards, all edited with quick precision and all tinted monochrome, so it doesn't look as sloppy as it otherwise would have. The clips may also explain why this film did not find a wide release until about fifteen years after it was made (the filmmaker may have come across some copyright problems when using this footage). The special effects are certainly bloody enough and there are a variety of murders here. A man is pulled apart by two cars, a hand is chopped off, someone is impaled on a picket fence and there's a pretty good decapitation (followed by a bloody head on a platter gag). Other deaths involve everything from a bow and arrow to fencing sword. The sets are minimal, but effective.
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However, the screenplay could have definitely used another polish; the stereotyped characters are thrown into the mix with a killer who is not only wholesale boogie-man material but whose motivations and reason for existing are so hopelessly muddled that you never know for sure just what he is or why he is doing what he's doing. The clarity is almost non-existent, but I supposed the man is a ghost since he pops up all over the place and appears in both youthful and elderly forms. But, hell, by the time it's all over with, you can't totally hate this one. After all, somehow it ends up letting the cultured heavy and lone female survivor do some passionate Shakespearian stage work somewhere in limbo!

As with most 80s slasher films, the performances are highly variable. The veterans in the cast all have about one scene each and get through BLOODY MOVIE with a bare minimum of embarrassment. Aldo Ray is a wino who gets a hook in the head, Dan Haggerty is impaled, Cameron Mitchell is a detective who is strangled and hung and Alan Hale, Jr. (The Skipper from Gilligan's Island) is a wide-eyed security guard (and the only one without a death scene). John Ireland receives top billing as the killer, but he doesn't even materialize on-screen until the very end (though to his credit, it is still a creepy cameo). Of the younger cast, we have some familiar genre regulars, William Butler (LEATHERFACE, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake), Ken Abraham (CREEPOZOIDS), Carla Baron and John Stuart Wildman (both from SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA), and Denise Stafford (who apparently is a porn actress who goes by the name Jamie Summers). Though leading lady Staci Greason (who played the first victim in FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART VII) is quite good and gives the most professional showing of the younger cast, it is Michelle Bauer who steals this film away from her co-stars with a full blown comedic performance. She carries on quite capably here and nails the most laughs as a drunken punker chick who ends up stumbling her way through the mansion with her annoying biker boyfriend before getting whipped and pushed down a flight of stairs. It's actually one of her very best roles, making this delayed DVD release an important one in keeping her cult legacy alive. I also appreciate the filmmakers for having the common sense to keep her around until near the end. Though I am sad to report that sleaze movie great Jay Richardson, who is in just as many of the schlock horror films as Michelle, is barely visible as one of the forest-lurking phantoms.

Originally titled TERROR NIGHT, this was worked on by a lot of prolific and familiar Z-movie production people. It was co-scripted by Kenneth J. Hall (who also helped cast the film), was co-produced by Nancy Paloian (DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?) and shot by Howard Wexler. The special effects are by Cleve Hall (who was also the 2nd unit director, along with porn purveyor Fred J. Lincoln) and John Vulich helped shoot and edit it. Given special thanks in the end credits are André de Toth (who lent directorial assist to Marino), David DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray.
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★★1/2

Bloody Wednesday (1985)

...aka: Great American Massacre, The

Directed by:
Mark G. Gilhuis

Harry (Raymond Elmendorf) is hired on as a caretaker at an old vacant hotel, and suffers from paranoid delusions that are making him lose a grip on his sanity, leading him on an eventual rampage. Low-budget attempt at a REPULSION-like psychological horror study (with a little SHINING thrown in) where a troubled past mixed with an isolated environment may lead to insanity, but the build-up (which lasts nearly the entire movie) gets extremely monotonous after awhile with its fantasy vs. reality plotting. The taut ending is well done if you can last that long. It was scripted by Academy Award nominee Philip Yordan (1945’s DILLINGER). Supposed based on a real-life incident.

★★

Boardinghouse (1982)

...aka: Boarding House
...aka: Family House
...aka: Housegeist

Directed by:
Johnn Wintergate

BOARDING HOUSE (aka HOUSEGEIST), was the first ever shot-on-tape no budget horror film to come out at the start of the growing video/beta revolution, so it's historically important in that respect, I guess. However, on its own terms it is undoubtedly one of the worst movies in existence. But boy, it sure is freakin' hilarious! This is the funniest and tackiest bad 80s movie I've seen in a very long time. It's also very, very entertaining if you can just make it past the first fifteen minutes or so, which involves reading a slowwww scroll on an ancient computer screen that's hard to make out, some horrid special effects of a red phantom face and supernatural spirits causing a guy to drown in a pool, a woman to ram her hand down a garbage disposal, a hanging and someone pulling out their guts. The film centers around one person obviously head over heels in love, and I don't mean head over heels in love with someone else, but head over heels in love with himself. And that person is director Johnn Wintergate, who also wrote the horrendous screenplay (under the name "Jonema"), did some of the cheesy special effects and also gets to show his complete lack of on-screen appeal playing the starring role (as "Hawk Adly"). It's a classic combination of huge ego meets nonexistent talent, and in the shot-on-video universe, fancying yourself a big fish in a small pond usually either provokes anger or hilarity. In this case, it's the latter!

Wintergate plays Jim Royce, who works in some office setting by day but chooses to spend his summer running an exclusive boarding house near L.A. He makes the decision early on only to rent the rooms out to young, attractive women... and his ridiculous house rules state the ladies cannot have a man up to their rooms. Well, except for him. Nearly all the women in this movie want to get him in the sack, try to seduce him and fawn over his "hot body" and what an interesting person he is because he's into all this New Age mumbo jumbo and metaphysics. Making this whole concept more than a little hard to swallow is the fact that Wintergate looks like a mutant version of Malcolm McDowell. He's scrawny, middle-aged, bug eyed and has bushy, bleached out hair with a rat tail. Not only that, but he's sporting some of the lamest fashions of the era; pink shirts, pink ties, pink daisy dukes and worst of all, skimpy bikini briefs, some of the tiger stripe variety. Every other scene he's lounging by the pool in bikini briefs or meditating wearing bikini briefs or running around on the beach in bikini briefs. There are even two scenes of him hanging upside down in some silly looking contraption wearing his patented skimpy undies. The horror! The horror! Jim also has the gift of telekinesis and can move things like soap and eggs around using the power of his mind. To accomplish this he goes into the zen zone, does some heavy breathing and bugs out his eyes in deep concentration. As if this isn't enough, Wintergate also gets to play an additional supporting role as a 'Nam vet gardener, who basically just wanders around outside scaring the girls.

Now Johnn isn't the only person here getting maximum screen time, so is lead actress Kalassu Kay. I think she may be involved romantically with the director in "real life" (perhaps they are or were married) because the two both had small roles in the 1980 film TERROR ON TOUR a few years earlier and both get special thanks credits on a 2007 movie according to IMDb. I could be mistaken, though. Anyway, Kalassu is just one of many ladies to take residence inside Jim's boarding house of horrors. The difference between her and the other females is that she's the only one to get any kind of character development. Her role is Victoria; a multi-talented actress and singer with a band called 33 1/3. Hilariously, she sleeps in a room with blown-up pictures of herself plastered all over the walls. Hey sister, why not just save yourself the trouble and strap a mirror on the ceiling? Kalassu seems to be a main target of evil spirits and is visited by some red eyed demon on occasion. She has multiple nightmares, is frequently seen topless or in skimpy lingerie, her kitten is smashed to death with a hammer and she also learns how to move things around by reading Jim's books.

The other ladies living in the boarding house include sexy blonde Deborah (played by Penthouse Pet Alexandra Day), a compulsive gardener (?) with a hard to place European accent, Sandy (Belma Kora), who, uh, likes to bake pies, Cindy (Mary McKinley), who is there to escape her rapist thug boyfriend, and Pam (Cindy Williamson), a frizzy haired blonde with hideously overdone makeup who gets stabbed through the hand with an ice pick. In addition, some other women pop in an out from time to time. One is black. She makes a pot of coffee, leaves and is never seen again. There's also an Asian woman who materializes out of thin air to seduce a guy ("You look wet. Let me dry you off."), take a bath and then she disappears from the rest of the film also. There seem to be a few other women around sometimes but it was hard to keep track of all of them. By the way, this same house is the place where a Nobel prize winning scientist and his wife (the drowning/garbage disposal deaths from the beginning) were killed years earlier. One of the ladies is the daughter of that couple and is using supernatural/telekinetic powers to injure or kill off the others, resulting in one of the most hilarious finales ever captured on film, er, video. And apparently at one point this managed to book theatrical showings back in the day!

In short, the dialogue is atrocious, the acting is abominable (check out the numerous monotone reactions to the "horror"), the storyline is senseless, the whole thing looks like a porno movie, it's full of cheap gore effects, cheap visual effects, continuity errors, nudity, flubbed lines and cheesy synthesizer sound effects (did I mention it was filmed in "Horror Vision?"). All in all, hilariously awful stuff and a must see for bad movie fanatics.

SBIG

Blue Velvet (1986)

Directed by:
David Lynch

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Blue Sunshine (1976)

Directed by:
Jeff Lieberman

A small group of Stanford college grads, who had taken a bad batch of LSD called "Blue Sunshine," start feeling the side-effects ten years later. Instead of bad acid flashbacks, they start losing their hair and deteriorate into erratic, sweaty, screaming, zombie-like killers that hate loud sounds. An ambitious low-budgeter with decent performances, a few good shocks and an interesting plot to offset some dated aspects to the story (like an unintentionally funny attack at a disco) and a seemingly incomplete ending (that seems to suggest this is based on an actual case!). Political satire remains relevant today and when one of the effected lurks around a mall at the end, DAWN OF THE DEAD (which was made later) will instantly come to mind. Star Zalman King, who was also in GALAXY OF TERROR (1981), went on to direct and produce a record number of 90s erotic movies and TV series (Red Shoe Diaries, et al). The director also made the killer worm flick SQUIRM (1976), the backwoods slasher JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981) and the bizarre sci-fi movie REMOTE CONTROL (1987), which are all above average low-budgeters. Deborah Winters, Mark Goddard, Robert Walden, Stefan Gierasch and Brion James co-star.

★★1/2

Body Puzzle (1990)

...aka: Misteria
...aka: Puzzle mortal

Directed by:
Lamberto Bava

Review coming soon.

NO RATING!

Boggy Creek II (1983)

...aka: Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II, The
...aka: Boggy Creek II: The Legend Continues

Directed by:
Charles B. Pierce

After THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1972) and RETURN TO BOGGY CREEK (1977) comes BOGGY CREEK PART 2 (?!), which is apparently the "official" sequel since "Return" was just a rip-off trying to cash in on the name. Director/writer/producer Charles B. Pierce narrates as University of Arkansas anthropology professor Brian Lockhart, who travels to the backwoods swamps of Texarkana with three young students; Leslie (Cindy Butler), Tanya (Serene Hedin) and Tim (real-life son Chuck Pierce) to hunt down the eight-foot-tall, 350+ pound Yeti-like Boggy Creek creature. They talk (a lot), camp out near sightings, set up tracking equipment, find mutilated animals, are attacked by a rabid dog and finally come face to face with the creature (and its injured baby). Flashbacks (including a large guy taking a crap in an outhouse while looking at bra pictures in a Sears catalogue) reveal eyewitness accounts of encounters with the beast. Eventually they end up on a boat ride and trapped in the sticks with crazed "Old Man Crenshaw" (Jimmy Clem), a fat, dirty redneck in shirtless overalls, who chews on tobacco and is holding the baby monster prisoner.
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Cut-rate in every respect, but you've gotta love those authentic Southern accents in lines like "I smayl ya!" and "What are ya'll doin' he-ah!?" It all ends with a nature-friendly speech. The film actually played in theaters as THE BARBARIC BEAST OF BOGGY CREEK, PART II in 1985 and was deemed bad enough for its own episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1999.

1/2

Boogeyman, The (1980)

Directed by:
Ulli Lommel

Before becoming one of the most hated directors of the new millennium with a very long series of downright awful direct-to-video dreck (usually based on real-life serial killers), German director Ulli Lommel was actually a filmmaker of some promise. THE BOOGEYMAN was made and released during that very busy period in the U.S. and Canada when slasher movies were all the rage. Borrowing elements from Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (including an eerie, similar sounding music score) and a few other movies, it's actually a more interesting, more ambitious and better-made film than most conventionally-plotted slasher flicks that flooded the market in the early 80s. Not to say this isn't without problems, because there are many of those here, but it's certainly a unique, vivid and original enough film attempting to merge slasher horror with supernatural themes. BOOGEYMAN also marked the first of several horror collaborations between Lommel and his then-wife, Suzanna Love. Love was a Dupont heiress who financially backed all of these projects as well as starred in and wrote or co-wrote them.
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In the opening sequence, a traumatized little boy named Willy stabs his abusive/neglectful mother and her lover to death. Many years later, the now-adult boy is a mute (Nicholas Love) living on a remote farm with his adoptive parents and is having a hard time getting over his past trauma. Willy's younger sister Lacey (Love), who witnessed the crime, seems to be getting along a little bit better and is engaged to be married, but still has her emotional issues. Trouble begins when an antique mirror, which was in the bedroom the night the couple was murdered, turns up again in the home. The spirit of mom's lover somehow became trapped inside and now it wants to kill; using shards of glass from the mirror as both a conveyance and a way to lash out at victims.
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Highly uneven in terms of acting and writing (and sometimes even unintentionally funny), but some of the directorial touches and visual effects are highly inventive and the cinematography and use of color are both excellent. John Carradine has a small supporting role as a doctor. Followed by two sequels; BOOGEYMAN II (1982) and RETURN OF THE BOOGEYMAN (1994), both of which liberally reused footage from the first film.

★★1/2

Boneyard, The (1990)

Directed by:
James Cummins

Detective Jersey Callum (Ed Nelson) and his dimwit partner Gordon (Jim Eustermann) coax troubled 300 lb. psychic Alley Oates (Deborah Rose) out of retirement when a series of unexplained homicides start adding up. Clues lead the trio to a mortuary one night where the dead bodies of three Asian children are resurrected into slime-spewing ghouls who trap the principal characters in the basement and go on a gory killing/possession spree. After a slowwwww start (and a "huh?" flashback that is SUPPOSED to explain things), this really picks up and becomes a nifty little horror comedy with a good sense of humor, attempts at characterization and some surprisingly cool comic book-style FX... like a giant mutant poodle! Good supporting roles for veteran character actors Nelson, Norman Fell as a mortician with a ponytail and Phyllis Diller (who promoted this film during the 1990 televised awards show THE HORROR HALL OF FAME) as the cranky night desk clerk who transforms into a creature that will make your eyes pop out of your head! The director also scripted and did the unique special effects for this fun feature.

★★1/2

Barón del terror, El (1961)

...aka: Baron of Terror, The
...aka: Brainiac, The

Directed by:
Abel Salazar

A sorcerer is burned at the stake way back in 1661, vowing revenge on the descendants of the executioners. "300 years later" he returns to Earth via a comet and goes on a killing spree, mutating into a beast from time to time with a long forked tongue that he uses to suck the brains out of his living victims. He also keeps a bowl full of human brains locked up in a chest for easy access. Some of the more colorful victims include a hooker and a horny chick who tries to pick up The Brainiac at a bar. I mean, what true-blooded woman could resist a monster with a foot long tongue? This silly b/w import (with awful dubbing) is one of the more famous Mexican productions from this era (at least here in America), but it's not one of the best.

★★

Bride, The (1985)

Directed by:
Franc Roddam

A revisionist semi-remake of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Thanks to lifeless acting from Sting (as the mad doctor) and Jennifer Beals (as his creation) in the lead roles, many of the scenes fail to deliver. An extremely charming subplot with the dwarf Rinaldo (David Rappaport) and Frankenstein's deposed first monster (Clancy Brown) are far more poignant than the main storyline and make it all bearable. Production values (cinematography, costumes, art direction, etc.) are all excellent.

★★

Brain That Wouldn't Die, The (1962) [filmed in 1959]

... aka: Head That Wouldn't Die, The

Directed by:
Joseph Carlton

Filmed in Tarrytown, New York, this trash classic from the swingin' 60s (well, it was actually filmed in 1959, but not released until 1962) is sure to amuse and delight any fan of Z-cinema. Jason ‘Herb’ Evers stars as mad doctor Bill Cortner, who’s been stealing limbs from amputee victims at a hospital to further his experiments. On the way to Bill’s country home and lab, his bad driving leads to a crash that decapitates his lovely fiancé Jan (Virginia Leith). He scoops up the head and continues to the lab where he manages to rejuvenate Jan’s brain using some special serum that he usually uses to fuse together body parts. The result is a cackling, severed noggin that sits in a lab tray hooked up to a couple of tubes, giggles insanely, whines, broods, cries and develops some kind of weird psychic link to a hideous cone head monster (7'8" former wrestler Eddie Carmel) the doctor keeps locked up in a broom closet. Dr. Bill’s tortured, harried assistant Kurt (Leslie Daniel) has a withered arm, continually paces around the lab and ends up having to deal with most of these problems. One of the funniest parts is when he puts tape over the head’s mouth to shut it up!

Meanwhile, Evers plots to find the appropriate new body for Jan and gets an eye-full (his lascivious lip-chewing look-overs are comic gold) when he attends a strip club (where a cat-fight breaks out backstage), a “Miss Body Beautiful” contest and an artist’s modeling session. He finally decides on Doris (Adele Lamont), a man-hating, facially-scarred figure model. He lures her back to his home, but the monster suddenly busts out of closet and attacks! I won’t spoil the ending, but the beast ends up ripping off an arm, biting a chuck out someone and spitting it out on the floor and basically making a complete bloody mess out of the lab. Great stuff! Don't miss it!

Avoid any version released by Warner Brothers because they are missing most of the violence (and run only 70 minutes). Other prints, such as the ones released by Chiller and Rhino, are the uncut, 82-minute version you want to see. Some sources claim a 92-minute cut is around too, but I doubt that. 1959 Playboy Playmate Marilyn Hanold (who had a better role in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER a few years later) and an uncredited Sammy Petrillo (BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA) also appear.

★★

Brain Dead (1989)

...aka: Paranoia

Directed by:
Adam Simon

Dr. Rex Martin (Bill Pullman) is a brilliant neurologist who’s obviously losing his mind. After being roped into doing bizarre experiments for a top-secret government lab and a strange encounter with a rather distraught colleague (Bud Cort), things start getting even weirder, people are murdered (or are they?), he's committed to an institution and his world turns into one big freakish fusion of reality and nightmare. Director Adam Simon (in his directorial debut) reworks an old, un-filmed Charles Beaumont script (both received credit) in a movie that often bites off more than it can chew and many will find incomprehensible, but still manages to maintain interest through unpredictable plotting, good performances (Bill Paxton scores as Dr. Martin's shady colleage and there are nice turns from Nicholas Pryor, George Kennedy and others) decent special effects and a few well done shock scenes. I thought the ending was a bit unsatisfying, but I definitely give this film full credit for at least trying to do something different.
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Simon followed this up with the lame killer-dinosaur film CARNOSAUR (1993), which was one of the highest grossing films for Corman's New Horizons company, and the excellent documentary THE AMERICAN SCREAM (2000).

★★1/2

Brain, The (1988)

Directed by:
Ed Hunt

A deranged scientist (played with gusto by RE-ANIMATOR's David Gale) has a nifty ally in his plot for world domination... a floating, killer brain boasting a mutated face, razor sharp fangs and a wiggly spinal cord. Using a bogus TV program called "Independent Thinkers," the doctor brainwashes the citizens of a small town. Will teen hero Jim (Tom Breznahan, from TWICE DEAD) and his girlfriend Janet (Cyndy Preston, from PIN and PROM NIGHT III) be able to stop him before it's too late? Taking cue from several Cronenberg films, THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and many others, this semi-schlocky movie overextends its budget with the ridiculous-looking brain design (which is pretty cool to watch either way), but other effects are just fine, it's fast paced and has occasional funny, bizarre and inspired moments to hold your interest. Certainly worth a look if you're into strange 80s science fiction horror flicks.
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No DVD release so far in the US (it was released to video by IVE and laserdisc by Image), but the UK has received one.

★★1/2
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