Friday, July 6, 2012

November Son (2008)

... aka: October Moon 2
... aka: October Moon 2: November Son
... aka: November Sun

Directed by:
Jason Paul Collum

There are so many horrible homemade horror movies being released these days that most people are understandably discouraged about checking out films they've never heard of before. Can't say that I blame them since most of these are awful, amateurish excuses to showcase cheap gore effects and brain dead comedy. Trying to find something else is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, and that's why I personally feel that writer / director Jason Paul Collum is one of the more promising directors working in independent horror today. His films are wholly centered around the characters. They deal with how secrets, repression and past demons can come back to haunt people. They deal with prejudice and homophobia, and how traditional small town morals and values can destroy families, relationships and lives. The events that transpire in his films often have a rippling effect that touches even the secondary characters who inhabit the stifling small Midwest town where his films are set.

November Son is a follow up to 2005's OCTOBER MOON. If you plan on watching November, I strongly recommend viewing the other beforehand since events and characters from the first spill into the second.

The film opens with Jake (Jeff Dylan Graham) - whose boyfriend Corin (Sean Michael Lambrecht) fell victim to sexually repressed and mentally unstable Elliot (Jerod Howard) in the previous film - hanging himself. With the apartment now vacant, Eli (Sacha Sacket), who has just moved from Hollywood to the same small Wisconsin town, rents out the place and almost immediately finds himself entangled in Corin's past life and past relationships. His gay friendly "fruit fly" landlord Maggie (Darcey Vanderhoef) - a best friend of Jake's - instantly takes to him and decides to take it upon himself to show him around. Eli ends up getting a job as a photographer with a local magazine run by repressed Emily Hamilton (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD's Judith O'Dea), Elliot's spinster mother, whose unflinchingly negative attitude toward her son's sexuality in the first film was a chief ingredient to the tragedy that ensued. Eli's controlling and very negative father George (Lloyd Pedersen) shows up in town, and starts dating Corin's former coworker Nancy (Brinke Stevens). Eli's estranged mother Hillary (Debbie Rochon) and Elliot's former fiancé Marti (Tina Ona Paukstelis) also pop in to add extra complications. Eventually, strange things begin to happen and characters start disappearing one by one.

Sound complicated? It IS complicated. There's enough going on here to fuel a daytime soap for about a month. There seems to be a recurring theme about redemption here. Emotionally-unstable Emily is at the point of unraveling at any moment, but seems to want redemption for the way she treated her son by taking Eli under her wing. Hillary seems to want redemption for never being there when her son needed her, though she all but refuses to accept her son's sexuality. And Eli himself wants a fresh start by running away from his former life (and the problems he was facing) in California.

The film is far from perfect. It's extremely talky, which personally doesn't bother me a whole lot, but still much can be said in ways that don't need to be delivered via dialogue. The ending - which unveils surprises about several key characters - is also something of a mess. As I noticed with October Moon, the dramatic aspects that fill the majority of the film are far better staged, written and presented than the action / terror-oriented scenes at the conclusion, which are a bit sloppy. The acting is pretty spotty throughout, but most of the major roles are adequately performed. O'Dea is outstanding in her role (which is more fleshed out than it was in the first film) and this is easily the best film role she's had to date. Famous Scream Queen Stevens had made a career in the 80s and 90s by doing T&A heavy horror, but shows she's more than up to task playing non-exploitative character parts nowadays. Vanderhoef, Robyn Griggs (in a minor role as Emily's blonde, busty, cleavage-sporting secretary) and a couple of others are bright additions to the cast. Sacket, all white smiles, blue eyes and sculpted abs, was OK but lacked the necessary gravitas to pull off the role he was given, though he was tolerable for the most part (especially considering this is his first film). He also contributes an excellent song to the soundtrack that makes one suspect that his music career is also worth checking out.


Bikini Bloodbath (2006)

... aka: Bikini Blood Bath

Directed by:
Jonathan Gorman
Thomas Edward Seymour

Like it or not, there's no doubt that the 1982 slasher movie THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE went on to influence many films over the years. It was followed by at least two official sequels, a sort-of third sequel called CHEELEADER MASSACRE (2003), a truly terrible direct-to-video, shot-on-video rip-off called THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY (1987) and probably also led to the somewhat similar SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE series, as well as the spin-offs that series created, such as 1990's HARD TO DIE. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's easy to see why this concept caught on. When you get together a group of high school/college aged girls, put them in a house and throw in a killer, audiences are almost guaranteed plenty of the two most important ingredients in exploitation-horror; boobs and blood. The movies themselves can be produced rather cheaply and because of their popularity on DVD and late night cable, they probably always turn a profit. And that leads us to the newest installment in the half-naked-babes-in-a-house-with-a-killer subgenre, Bikini Bloodbath; a goofy parody of the 'slumber/sorority' films, complete with direct references to those earlier films. Was it needed? Not really. Many of the earlier films were already pretty self-aware of what they were, took a lighthearted approach and were already too busy poking fun at themselves to really require someone else to step in later and do it again. That's not to say this one is completely without merit. It's pretty amusing at times.

Cheaply shot on video in Connecticut, this one begins with girls in gym class followed by girls in the shower. Adding a welcome bit of early relief is an appearance from the always-welcome Debbie Rochon, who milks every last laugh out of her lip-licking lesbian gym coach character. The ladies discuss their upcoming sleepover party and give the cold shoulder to a nerdy girl named "Smelly Suzy." One of the girls is attacked in a graveyard while walking home, a bum is killed and someone breaks into Rochon's home and offs her too. Six of the girls make it to the party. They talk. The blow up balloons. They make strawberry daiquiris. They dance. They play twister. They hop in the hot tub and drink and talk some more. Two guys show up. And then the psycho (a bald, goateed guy dressed in a chef's outfit) pops in to kill them all off. Some of the gags / lines work and some don't. The film unfortunately cuts away from the main action to a gathering of touchy-feely football jocks who keep grabbing each other's butts and dancing in long montages (insert FLASHDANCE and FOOTLOOSE in jokes). There's a lot up in the air sexuality in this film. Not only Rochon's character, but most of the guys seem to be into other guys, the male coach (played by PSYCHOS IN LOVE star Carmine Capobianco) is into guys, two girls make out in the hot tub, etc. That aspect was kind of interesting, at least.

There's not much gore here and what there is is of the ketchup bottle variety. So be warned, the horror scenes themselves are pretty skimpy. Just about every girl has a topless scene and spends the majority of the movie in a bikini so that aspect is fulfilled for the target audience. The picture quality and sound are acceptable for the budget. Unfortunately, like many films in this budget range, this suffers a LOT from time padding. It seems a lot of independent horror directors these days rely far too heavily on dull, needless filler to bump their film to just an hour in length. I've seen movies with thirty second shots of trees and movies with three minutes shots of someone walking in a field. This one has multiple needless scenes like this. They are usually quickly edited, though, and some of them are at least set to different rock songs. Some of those songs aren't even bad. One very important thing this movie does have is enthusiasm. The cast look like they're having a pretty good time, so if you can turn your brain off for an hour or so, you might too.


Dismal (2009)

... aka: Bleed

Directed by:
Gary King

dis·mal (dzml) adj. 1. Causing gloom or depression; dreary. 2. Characterized by ineptitude, dullness, or a lack of merit. 3. Obsolete; dreadful; disastrous.

I think they had definition #2 in mind when they were making this one.

Mild-mannered teaching assistant Curt (Tim Morris) decides to take four biology students deep into Dismal Swamp to do some kind of research for extra credit. Squeamish Dana (Lydia Chandler) needs the points or else she'll fail and decides to go despite the fact her obnoxious frat jock boyfriend Brady (Brent Lovell) wants her to go to a keg party instead. Also coming along are Shelly (Capel Kane) and Gary (Will Triplett), who have a long-standing crush on one another, and Jamal (Jade Arnold), who brings along his sexpot girlfriend Eve (Meagan Reedy, who provides some T&A). The six arrive at their location and pitch their tents, the standard POV "someone's watching" camera-work kicks in and the film then basically spends the rest of its scant 79 minute run time poorly trying to copy THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. After about half of them are killed (via hook, bear traps and club), the survivors are captured, dragged back to a shack, chained up and have to endure an over-the-top redneck cannibal family who threaten to kill and eat them. Said family includes patriarch Dale (Bill Oberst Jr.) and a retarded giant that the credits refer to as "Idiot" (Jack Harrison), plus a surprise member hidden amongst the research group.

Though not the absolute worst of its type, there's still next to nothing to actually recommend here, especially for seasoned horror fans who have seen this same exact material countless times before. Aside from the general lack of originality, the acting is mediocre, the (digital) cinematography is murky, there's almost no directorial style to speak of and many of the price-cutting CGI effects (including blood splats, a trail of fire, a body sliced in half and an explosion) are completely laughable.


Platoon of the Dead (2009)

Directed by:
John Bowker

I'm a huge zombie movie fan always on the lookout for some unexpected hidden gem. This is not one of those. In fact, it's awful! Set sometime in the near future, the world has apparently been overrun by zombies and there's some kind of war going on between humans (who use some kind of advanced laser gun that dissolves zombies) and an intelligent and evolved "platoon of the dead" zombie army (who use a special laser gun that stuns people). Since this is a low scale, no budget flick shot on a low grade digital camera, the "war" basically amounts to a couple of guys dressed in camouflage running around in the woods. The most zombies ever seen on-screen at a single time is about six and that's at the very end of the film, so no actual threat for humankind is ever adequately established.

Inept, cowardly young soldier Private Dillon (Tyler David), obnoxious, sadistic Sergeant Butler (Tom Stedham) and their level-headed superior Lt. Roberts (Chris Keown) are the only three survivors after their squad is ambushed by the zombie soldiers. The three end up at a remote country home and discover three women; Heather (Ariana Albright), mute Jill (Amanda Bounds) and slutty Stacy (Michelle Mahoney), are hiding out there. The ladies behave strangely and secretive, but allow the guys to spend the night in exchange for an escort to a military safe point the next morning. Despite the war angle, it amounts to little more than yet another substandard revisit to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD territory but with the addition of some silly supernatural elements that don't come into play until the last 20 minutes. Usually a virus or scientific experiment gone awry gets the blame for zombie epidemics in these kind of movies, but here one of the characters claims it happened because of a OUIJA board (!?) Toward the end it's also revealed that someone is a demon and someone else is a savior the zombies want to protect and we quickly watch as something cheap and badly made becomes even worse by becoming something cheap, badly made and needlessly muddled.

The acting here is truly abysmal, even for the budget. Of the six main actors, only two of them are passable and one of those two is the mute girl. There seems to be an attempt at dry humored dialogue but none of the cast members are talented enough to deliver it for the desired effect. Not only is the acting and much of dialogue awful, but the film doesn't have nearly enough action (there's way too much talking), the characters do extremely idiotic things throughout (instead of locking a door they just let a zombie come inside and then scurry around the house looking for a hiding place!) and the presentation of the special effects (from the zombie designs to the laughable computer fx) is extremely weak. It's basically just an amateurish waste of time.

Sisterhood, The (2004)

... aka: Pledge of Evil
... aka: Sisterhood: Pledge of Evil, The

Directed by:
David DeCoteau

Director DeCoteau started out as a solid low-budget B-movie director with many fun genre credits to him name from the mid-80s until about the late 90s. Nowadays he has emerged as one of the worst and laziest "directors" working today in any genre, and it has nothing to do with his movies usually containing homoerotism and having guys run around in their matching boxer briefs. Remember... anyone in tight black underwear is satanic and evil and want to suck out your blood / soul... such deep symbolism here). I just sat through The Sisterhood to give him his fair shakes since I try to watch every horror movie I can and this one had the talented Barbara (FROM BEYOND, RE-ANIMATOR) Crampton in it (I had previously been sucked in to the world of DeCoteau thanks to Linnea Quigley, Adrienne Barbeau and several other actresses I typically enjoy). Sadly, Like nearly everything else the director has done the past ten years, it's the pits.

The paper thin plot involves lesbian vampires on a college campus. But never has a parade of hot young babes ("actresses" if you want) running around dressed in bras, panties and bikinis been so boring. The movie has no plot, no gore, no nudity and the dialog is ridiculous and seems like they made it up as they go along. Parts are put in slow-motion and repeated many times to push the running time up. About ten minutes of this one consists of characters just walking around on campus (oh, the excitement!) that looks more like a hotel resort than any college I've ever been to. And the acting is the absolute worst. The only thing these girls do well is lean forward and bend over to show off their bodies. The cast were so devoid of talent that I'd be shocked to see any of them get a one-day walk-on role on Passions in the future. Ditto for the guys. Yeah DeCoteau squeezed more hot guys in underwear in this one, too... Guys who should be in some K-Mart brochure instead of trying to act. Do these people actually have to audition or just show up in Dave's office and take their clothes off? I think the answer is obvious.

I am willing to give any movie a chance if 1.) it's intelligently written, well directed, original and competently acted (or hell, even ambitious and stylish)... Or 2.) it is chock full of gore, nudity, assorted trashiness and/or unintentional humor. David DeCoteau's movies deliver NONE of that and they do it on better-than-usual production values for direct-to-video flicks. What a waste! So what is the appeal, especially with the advent of porn of the soft- and hard-core variety that's easily accessible to anyone with a computer? I simply cannot answer that.

DeCoteau is a gay horror director and could use his resources to put a unique spin on the genre. Instead, he produces mind-numbing drivel without an ounce of talent or intelligence shining through. Ironically, when you think about it, his films are anything BUT pro-gay. They actually make homosexuality seem seedy, secretive and sinister. The obviously gay characters in his films are always trying to corrupt, seduce and/or kill off the innocent, sexually-confused leads. There's no shading here to make things interesting. The protagonists are naive and seldom prove themselves to be strong, assertive or confident in who they are. I would understand this plotting if Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps or Dr. Laura starting making direct-to-video horror films, but from a gay director, it just goes to show that he puts almost no thought into these beefcake cheese-fests.

Something to Scream About (2003)

Directed by:
Jason Paul Collum

Finally a documentary about low-budget horror / exploitation actresses done right. Filmmaker Jason Paul Collum seems more interested in painting an honest picture of the fringe industry, warts and all, and the women who populate it, than doing a simple sugar-coated love letter to the B-movie genre. Part of his success lies in the fact that he seems more interested in exploring the minds and opinions of his interview subjects than their bodies (a place where many other supposed documentaries and genre magazines fail to go). Nine women are interviewed here; from those whose genre career is limited to one or two films to those who are genre mainstays with considerable cult followings. Brinke Stevens is the perfect hostess for this (she also hosted the genre documentary MONSTER & MANIACS back in 1988, as well as the 1990-91 SHOCK CINEMA series) and does her job on a simple set with posters from films featuring the interview subjects. The photography, editing and sound are all very good as the ladies tackle such subjects as racism, sexism, fans, conventions, image, stereotyping, self-image and aging.

I was glad to see veteran Judith O'Dea (Barbara from the touchstone horror classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) here. She talked with fondness about her NOTLD cult success, the conventions, fans and her stage work and came off as smart, sophisticated, poignant and grateful; a total delight (with an infectious smile). I am happy to see that Judith will be seen in a few new genre pictures, as well. I was also taken back by Ariauna Albright. I'm not well versed in her work or Ariauna as a person, but she was well worth getting to know. She is a great conversationalist; subdued, mature, intelligent, witty, interesting and very knowledgeable about the genre. I plan on seeking out some of her work now. Denice Duff talks about getting started in the business, her cult following after her stint on the SUBSPECIES series and says "We're not in it for the cash, we're in it for the joy." Felissa Rose talks a lot about SLEEPAWAY CAMP, of course, but also about how her Italian background has given her limited mainstream opportunity (a big defense for the independent film community, who welcomed her back with open arms). Lesser known actresses like Debra DeLiso (SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, ICED) and Brandy Burkett (SPM3) seem like an odd choice for this documentary at first (one wonders where Michelle Bauer, Linda Blair and Linnea Quigley were when this was being filmed), but once they start talking you see why Collum chose them. They are both knowledgeable and insightful enough to hold their own against the better-known actresses. Gravel-voiced B star (and former professional dominatrix) Lilith Stabs, who's been in more genre films than DeLiso and Burkett combined, was the least visible of the ladies.

My two favorite interview subjects, by far, were Debbie Rochon and Julie Strain. Debbie comes off as intelligent, thoughtful, highly animated (she likes to play with her hair and often seems like she's about to jump out of her seat) and obviously loves acting and says she does what she does for two reasons; the fans and the creative love of the medium. She also has great and well-thought out insights about screen nudity, foreign film actresses vs. American actresses, what a "Scream Queen" really is, how she has to constantly work (25 films in a year!) just to pay the bills and many other subjects. Julie Strain is a very candid person, so I enjoyed listening to her as well. She's funny, knowing, bluntly honesty about her image, her plastic surgery, her skin cancer and her career, frustrated with the industry yet able to look back at it all with a sense of humor... It's amazing seeing a three-dimensional person you almost always see on screen in a one-dimensional stereotype.

There are plenty of stills and great movie clips from films like TERROR FIRMER, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, NOWHERE MAN, BLOODLETTING, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, HELLBLOCK 13, VAMPIRE RESURRECTION and many other films. There are also several different DVD versions to chose from. The one I saw had many extras, including the short JULIA WEPT from Jason Paul Collum, an interview with Brinke and a featurette "Introducing Lizzy Strain." Another version pairs this with the 1990 documentary SHOCK CINEMA (also hosted by Ms. Stevens). It also pops up in the wee hours of the night on Showtime every once in awhile.


Satan's Playground (2004)

Directed by:
Dante Tomaselli

This movie tries to blend ideas from several cult horror flicks from the 70s and 80s but fails rather miserably at pulling it all off. A grating Italian-American family consisting of husband Frank (Salvatore Paul Piro), wife Donna (Felissa Rose, of SLEEPAWAY CAMP fame), their mentally-retarded son Sean (Danny Lopes), Donna's sister Paula (Ellen Sandweiss) and Paula's infant son Anthony (Marco Rose) are headed somewhere in their station wagon and decide to take a short cut through the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Their car gets stuck in some mud, Frank decides to walk off somewhere to get help and ends up stumbling upon a creepy old house inhabited by an elderly palm reader named Mrs. Leeds (Irma St. Paule). Mrs. Leeds claims to have thirteen children, but only two of them - Boy (Edwin Neal) and Judy (Christie Sanford) - still live with her. All three of them turn out to be psychotic. They kill Frank and then set their sites on the rest of the family; basically killing anyone else who happens to wander into their path. Oh yeah, and there's also some kind of creature ("The Jersey Devil") flying around in the woods killing people that we never actually get to see.

The director has no problem citing his two primary sources; the POV floating-through-the-woods camera-work of THE EVIL DEAD (1981) and the warped backwoods family of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), here. Sandweiss naturally co-starred in the former; Neal in the latter. The character of Judy - a childish, deranged adult woman in pigtails who seems obsessed with babies - was copied directly from the so-so AMERICAN GOTHIC (1987). There are references to other horror films here too, if you want to look for them. What I had a major problem with was how moronic the characters were. Not only are they unlikable, they do one stupid thing after another throughout the movie. Some of the things that occur over the course of this film make absolutely no sense. And no, I'm not stupid enough to buy into the supposed "abstract nightmare logic" some people claim this movie has. Stupid is stupid.

At one point, a policeman shows up at the sinister home to investigate. Ms. Leeds tells him that muffled screams he's hearing from the basement are a cat, so he just leaves (!), goes back to his car and is killed by the invisible flying monster thingy. The next shot reveals that the police car is parked within just a few feet of the stranded family's car... which two of the characters are still sleeping in! So let me get this straight. The policemen sees a car parked in the middle of the road but doesn't even check on it? And the people inside the car don't hear him driving up the road, see his lights or hear him pulling up. And they don't hear him screaming when he's being killed? "Nightmare logic" or pure idiocy? You be the judge.

One of the characters survives the night and ends up in the safety of a hospital to recount the tale to police. So what happens next? Does the policeman do what all other policemen on the planet would do when faced with a potential massacre and organize a heavily-armed posse to raid the home? Nope! He just drags the survivor back to the house of horrors all by himself with no backup whatsoever. And the two examples listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to "Yeah... right" moments.

The locations are decent and the director throws in a couple of nicely-composed shots here and there (though the overdone POV shots get old after awhile). There's also a corker of a gore scene where a guy has throat cut and blood gushes out all over the place. Other than that, I didn't really care for this. The acting isn't very good, the characters are dull and moronic and the plot line is a nonsensical mess. I found myself more annoyed than entertained.


Slaughter Party (2005)

Directed by:
Buck Jones Jr.

Three schmucks wanting to check out a desert cave run into a delirious, nameless mad doctor (Ford Austin) instead. The doctor slaughters two of them, rips out and eats their guts, drinks their blood and then ties down and anally rapes the third guy - a dwarf named Craig (Mighty Mike Murga) - to give him "the gift that keeps on giving." I guess that gift is some kind of virus that causes insanity because Craig then begins sneaking into young women's apartments and murdering them. The sister of one of his victims, Tara (Felissa Rose), is trying to get over both the death of her sister and breakup of her relationship, so her friend Kerri (Sarah Rosenberg) drags her along on a camping trip. They meet up with six or seven other girls, immediately strip down to their bathing suits, go swimming, start partying and are attacked and killed by both the doctor and Craig (who hitches a ride there with a would-be victim). A couple of detective (including porno actor Adam Glasser aka Seymore Butts) are on the case.

According to the trivia section, this Troma release was shot on video for just 1000 dollars. It looks it. Nearly every scene was filmed in the daytime and most of it outdoors so the filmmakers don't have to worry much about things such as art direction and lighting. It's also very, very stupid in that amateurish we-know-this -is-awful-and-stupid -so-we-aren't-even- really-going-to-try kind of way. The only person who seems to be taking any of this seriously is lead actress Rose, who amusingly goes all out and tries to be as dramatic (and credible) as possible under the circumstance. Dead bodies move. Lines are flubbed. People mug for the camera. Lot of fake blood is flung around. Two girls go topless (and there's a mild lesbian scene that goes nowhere). Total screen time for guest stars Lloyd Kaufman (who seems to appear in every no budget horror made these days), Brinke Stevens and Ron Jeremy amounts to probably about five minutes. The camera-work and editing are frequently awful.

Every once in awhile something funny does actually happen, but it's hard not to laugh just a little watching a rabid dwarf clutching a knife chasing around bikini-clad girls who have a bad habit of always tripping and falling down. As the killer doctor, Austin is probably the best thing this film has going for it. The credited director is "Buck Jones Jr." not Fred Rosenberg as it currently says on IMDb. I think Jones / Rosenberg may be an alias for Chris Watson, who's responsible for another terrible Troma release called ZOMBIEGEDDON (2003).


S.I.C.K.: Serial Insane Clown Killer (2003)

... aka: Grim Weekend
... aka: Sick

Directed by:
Bob Willems

Lucky me! I got a sneak peak at this pathetic little shot-in-Texas 'horror' flick from Artisan Entertainment a week before it hit video shelves and let me tell you... I've rarely laughed so hard in my life as I did watching this atrocious megabomb fly off the rails and steal the title of 'worst killer clown movie ever made' from the insufferably stupid Full Moon fiasco KILLJOY (I'm sure many of us horror fans have suffered through that one!) From all indications, it was shot on DV, and it doesn't really 'look' all that bad quality-wise for digital, but boy does it ever fail miserably in every other area where it counts! The slight story goes as follows... An executive (Ken Hebert, who also scripted and co-produced with the director) takes skeptical co-worker Tracy (Amanda Watson) and horny married couple Mark and Susan (Hank Fields and Chris Buck) along on a weekend getaway to a (yawn) secluded cabin `12 miles' from the nearest town. On the way there, they pick up a bitchy/slutty hitchhiker (Melissa Bale) in a bar and end up at their destination where a nightly campfire tale about a murderous clown stalking the very same wooded area comes true when each of the profanity-yackin, pot-smokin ‘friends' disappears one-by-one, with only mutilated doll parts left behind to tell the tale of their fates.

The killer clown doesn't even show up in the film until near the end and it looks nothing like the demonic depiction of it on the video box (aside from being morbidly obese). It basically spends an hour prancing around in the woods, chopping up wood and blabbing nursery rhymes. I cannot say enough bad things about the cast, especially the two guys and the hitchhiker chick, who either deliver their insipid dialogue with a bare minimum of enthusiasm or overact at the most inappropriate times. Doesn't really help that the script is completely and utterly devoid of suspense, originality, intelligence, general coherence or humor. I could go on for days on how inept this film is, how many continuity errors there are and how amateurish the whole production is, but I'll just nod off by pointing out the whole package is quite a riot in that Boy-This-Sucks kind of way.

First released in the UK under the title Grim Weekend.


Spiders (2000)

... aka: Arachnofobia II
... aka: Cobwebs
... aka: Spider's Attack

Directed by:
Gary Jones

Marci (Lana Parrilla), a college student working for a student newspaper about extraterrestrials and other supernatural phenomena, plus two male co-workers (Nick Swarts and Mark Phelan), head out into the California wilderness following a report of alien sightings. There they witness a spaceship crash, see a scientist being shot by a corrupt military man, stow away on a truck that's loaded down with corpses (from the ship), and end up trapped in Majestic 12 headquarters; a military bunker / lab way underground (you need to take an elevator to get down there) where unorthodox experiments have been taking place. Some scientists have injected a tarantula with some alien DNA, said spider laid an egg inside one of the astronauts and said egg has hatched; resulting in a large, web-shooting spider monster with cell-regenerative properties that sinks its fangs into most of the supporting cast. The monster also grows bigger and bigger from one generation to the next, so at the finale we get a house-sized giant spider going on GODZILLA rampage on a college campus and through the city. It's up to Marci and a buff military dude (Josh Green), both in their matching white tank tops, to stop the monster.

Not to spoil the ending, but in features our heroine hanging out of a helicopter on a rope trying to shoot a missile out of a bazooka (that looks like it was made by Nerf) right into the monster's mouth. As one character says early on, "It's like a bad sci-fi movie!" Well, I've seen worse. The story and stock characters have been worn clichés for at least 40 years, the dialog is laughable ("We need bug repellent, not guns!"), the acting is bad to fair and the special effects are highly uneven (there's a pretty good animatronic-model spider by KNB and some lame, but scantly-used, computer fx at the end).

Filmed as Cobwebs, this was released in South America as a sequel to ARACHNOPHOBIA (1990). It did well enough to prompt the sequel SPIDERS II: BREEDING GROUND (2001). Director Jones also made the killer skeeter flick MOSQUITO (1994) and the killer croc flick CROCODILE II: DEATH SWAMP (2002).


Spiders II: Breeding Ground (2001)

... aka: Invasion of the Spiders
... aka: Spiders 2

Directed by:
Sam Firstenberg

Fair, watchable sequel takes place entirely at sea. Some pirates invade a pleasure ship and beat, tie up and abduct the people on board before blowing up the ship. The next day, a young couple; blonde photographer Alexandra (Stephanie Niznik) and her dimpled Golden Boy husband Jason (Greg Cromer), stumble onto the debris, find a corpse and then end up in the middle of a bad storm that sinks their boat. Jason is mildly injured, but they're picked up by another cargo vessel headed for New Guinea. On board is a seemingly hospitable captain (Daniel Quinn) who has the hots for Alex, a ranting doctor (Richard Moll), who looks them over and calls them "perfect specimens" and a bunch of rough-looking Russian crew members, who turn out to be the pirates from the beginning. Jason begins snooping around the ship and realizes something bad is going on when he uncovers a cooler full of frozen cadavers. But the antibiotics he has been given for his injured neck are actually drugs to incapacitate him so he can be used to incubate a spider. Other victims are kept in incubation chambers until the implanted eggs hatch. It's up to Alex to fend off the bad guys, elude the mutant spiders (which are eventually set free when the power is turned off) and find the antidote for her husband.

Though Alex is a little annoyingly slow to catch on at first, it is her character and the spirited performance by Niznik in the role that make this movie at least tolerable. She's a tiny blonde, but she's tough; responding to an aggressive sexual come-on by beating the crap out of the guy, kicking crotches, taking down two burly pirates on an elevator and using a mad-made blowtorch and spear to kill off the spiders, while dragging her injured hubby along for the ride. It may be Sigourney Weaver-lite in this context (right down to the tank top), but Niznik anchors the uneven film well through the finale. The other actors, especially bland, square-jawed Cromer and Moll, who seems to be playing the syringe-wielding mad doctor (who is looking to create a disease-free human race) strictly for camp value, don't fair near as well. I also can't explain why the spiders sound just like elephants, but what the hell. Special effects (again a mix of animatronics and CGI) are OK. It was filmed in Bulgaria.


Zombie Diaries, The (2006)

Directed by:
Michael Bartlett
Kevin Gates

Dear Diary, I just watched one of the worst zombie movies ever made. It's called The Zombie Diaries, and I feel the need to warn everyone out there what to really expect from this monotonous bore... When THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was released to theaters in 1999, it was actually something quite novel for its time. While not the first film to utilize the faux documentary approach, it proved that a film could use this format cheaply and efficiently to both develop a sense of realism and help build tension through frenzied camera-work. One thing that other filmmakers often employing this same technique don't seem to realize is that one of the other things that made BWP so successful is how subtle it is. The threat is kept off screen the entire time. We never once see it. The film successfully managed to engage the viewer and make them use their imagination. That, combined with the ingenious internet campaign, made the film the most financially successful independent horror production of all time (toppling the record set down by HALLOWEEN over 20 years earlier). Unfortunately, when it comes down to how BWP has influenced the genre since it was released, the 'horror of the unknown' aspect doesn't seem to have caught on, while the shaky POV video technique remains... In the wrong hands this spells disaster.

The Zombie Diaries is shot using the hand-held camera constant POV. We are seeing what the people involved are seeing, which seems to be mainly blades of grass and trees during the day, or "night vision" green-filtered scenes illuminated with a flashlight at night. It is broken down into three segments. The first involves a four person documentary film crew doing street interviews before heading out to a rural farmhouse, where their car promptly breaks down and they discover the living dead have already paid a visit there. The second segment has three people fleeing into the country from the city, doing some looting in a ghost town and encountering zombies along the way. The third segment is again set in the country; this time at some living commune where bickering survivors try to stay alive. The first segment takes place "One Month Earlier" and sort of links up with the third because a pair of psychopaths are around to prove that humans can be far nastier than the living dead. Yeah, we already got that back in 1968 when NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and in 1972 with CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS and again in 1978 with DAWN OF THE DEAD and so on...

I have a lot of respect for anyone who goes out there with little money and manages to make, market and release their own film. It's not easy. That said, I found almost nothing of interest here. In fact, I thought it bordered on unwatchable. Nothing even remotely scary happened during the short 80 minute (75 minus the credits) run time. It didn't even provide any decent jump scares. It's also loud, stupid, lacking tension and suspense and has horribly written dialogue (someone even tries to equate their feelings to how the people in the Twin Towers felt... oh please!) being delivered by unconvincing amateurs. There is no real attempt at characterization. I didn't like a single person in this film and could care less what happened to any of them. The zombies makeups were OK at times but were mostly very minimal and unimpressive. The camera-work was horrendous even by faux documentary standards. Three-fourths of the movie seemed like it was people standing around in fields arguing.

It's also filled with irritating character actions. Why do the idiots in this film continue to hold onto a video camera while they were being attacked by zombies? I understand filming them from afar but when one is already on you and is biting you I think it's time to drop the camera. Several people get killed because they are so busy filming. I understand the documentary people doing this, but most of the time it's just an Average Joe doing it. You'd figure a full month into a zombie outbreak you'd have plenty of home movies to show the grandkids that likely won't even exist. There's also one scene of an injured, probably infected man tied down to a bed... and his girlfriend goes to sleep right next to him with her hand resting on his shoulder! One of the worst scenes takes place after a man with two passengers sees a couple of zombies, swerves off the road and wrecks. Two of the guys, both with guns, get out and leave an injured, unconscious woman inside (who I think is actually one's wife). Not only do they just leave her there, but they leave the door wide open! And then they stand about five feet away and videotape while one of the zombies pulls out her guts. Incidentally, this is one of the only gory scenes in the entire film, but did they have to be so sloppy just to include a scene like this?

Bottom Line: It's poorly made, poorly acted, poorly paced, boring, brainless and thoroughly unoriginal. Not worth your time or you money. Watch George Romero's vastly superior DIARY OF THE DEAD (2006) instead.

Amateur Porn Star Killer 3: The Final Chapter (2009)

Directed by:
Shane Ryan

This isn't a film. It's a home movie "starring" an extremely whiny guy who pays porno stars to have sex with him while he films it with a camcorder and then jerks said camcorder around a little bit to simulate killing them after the sex is over. Repeated over and over and over again. Sound fun? It's not. At all. You will not seen one human being's complete and utter lack of talent, intelligence, imagination or ambition so evidently on display as you will right here. And the worst part of all is that this is just plain boring. The film does contain graphic nudity and flashes of hardcore sex throughout, but who cares? You can see better-looking actors and actresses performing in standard hardcore without the added annoyance of the camera constantly jerking around and going out of focus. As a horror film it's also a complete bust. It's never scary. It's never disturbing. It never once pulls off the fake snuff vibe it so desperately wants to capture. And the "acting" (especially from the lead male - who also happens to the director, writer and producer) fails to convince. At least with the AUGUST UNDERGROUND films you can expect some gore and over-the-top tastelessness to go along with the graphic nudity. This can't even deliver on that front.

Things begin with a young woman being forced to strip completely nude outside near a farm. The killer then forces her to do a couple of sex acts and finally hits her over the head with a stick. Next up is a silicone-enhanced blonde at a beach, who is coerced back to a hotel for more of the same. She's strangled. After three women are killed, the film then goes into one of the most boring stretches contained in any film as the killer and a proposed victim/hitchhiker/aspiring actress (played by tattooed / silicone adult film star Regan Reece) talk, argue, talk and argue some more while driving around in a car. Even if morbid curiosity gets the better of you and you find yourself wanting to watch this, I doubt you'll make it through this passage without use of your fast forward button. It's all worthless. In between the "action" we get random shots of trees, cows, buildings, road signs, cars and basically anything else that will fill up time. I guess they had to film something since the script probably was about 5 pages long.

There are already a ton of nasty humiliation pornos from the likes of Khan Tusion and Max Hardcore on the market that are easy to find. I've not watched any of these, but I've read descriptions and they make this sound like an episode of Sesame Street by comparison. So if you really want to see X-rated sex and women being abused, choked and berated, perhaps you'd be better off checking out one of those instead? I guarantee they'd be more shocking that anything you'll see in APSK3; the sad little tale of a sad little narcissist who uses the guise of horror filmmaker to have sex with women who probably otherwise wouldn't give him the time of day. Call him an inspiration if you like.


August Underground's Mordum (2003)

... aka: Mordum

Directed by:
Jerami Cruz
Michael Todd Schneider
Fred Vogel
Cristie Whiles

I remembering seeing the name August Underground on someone's list of the sickest films ever made, so I went ahead and watched it to see what all the fuss was. I also went into it having no clue what I was about to see. It wasn't until later that I found out this is actually part two in a series of three films (2001's AUGUST UNDERGROUND and 2007's AUGUST UNDERGROUND: PENANCE), even though I'm guessing they are all unrelated to one another. While I'll agree that this movie has some pretty sick and nasty scenes, I found it tedious and forgettable all the same. I had to fight the temptation to hit the fast-forward button several times and that wasn't because I was disturbed by what I was seeing, but because I started getting bored by how monotonous it was. So sad to say, I did not find this no budget homemade effort all that disturbing, nor did I find it very entertaining. I can name dozens of PG-rated vintage horror movies from the silent era to the 1960's that managed to disturb me more than this one did. Some of those actually have the ability to get inside your head, unlike this one, which has absolutely no insight into the sick minds it so gleefully likes to portray.

There's really no plot line to follow here. It's a loosely structured series of scenes following three people (two guys and a girl) as they videotape themselves torturing, degrading, raping and murdering people. That's about it. Oh except for all the utterly pointless filler where they run around on the street aimlessly, go to some lame concert, go to a tattoo parlor, go to eat and break into some person's house. As if anyone cared to actually see any of that. Unfortunately, the "characters" never shut up and bring obnoxious to a whole new level by cackling and screaming profanities at one another almost nonstop from beginning to end, which got extremely annoying after about two minutes. There's a certain spontaneity here when it comes to the amateurish camera-work/lighting and the fact that the pitiful "dialogue" all seems improvised. However, whatever realism the filmmakers were shooting for was ruined because the antics of the killer's were so ridiculously exaggerated and over-the-top it became almost cartoon-like after awhile.

Even the presentation of the psycho characters was hilariously clichéd. Naturally, one of them looks like he hasn't bathed or shaved in weeks a la Charles Manson. The female lead is all decked out in silly little Hot Topic punk/goth accessories right down to a ridiculous pair of spiked panties that scream "I'm a sadistic bitch." All of them have multiple facial piercings and are probably the types who describe themselves as "extreme" and "hardcore" to their friends, thinking they don't conform to a certain image or lifestyle like the rest of us boring folks do, when clearly they do. I've always found it amusing that some people equate being vile and disgusting with being "edgy" and anti-establishment, but I certainly wouldn't want to refer to any of these fine folks as degenerates because I'm pretty sure they'd take that as some kind of complement. And that's giving them way more credit than they actually deserve. There is a LOT of full frontal male and female nudity on display here. Obviously done just to shock. Not that it really matters all that much, but all of the female victims are on the hefty side and none of them are particularly attractive. Looks like they raided some pretty seedy dives, or street corners, or maybe even some truck stop parking lots, to come up with the "talent" they used here. Then again, it would have been difficult to find an attractive woman, or one with even a sliver of self worth, who's going to lay there and let someone puke into their mouth.

Even though I found this mostly worthless, I went ahead and gave it a 2 instead of a 1 because the gore effects are pretty good. So what gory goodies can you expect to find here? Well, a guy is forced to cut his penis off; then the stub is inserted into the vagina or his screaming, bound-and-gagged girlfriend. There are two nude women who look like lesbian rough trade that get puked on, are forced to kiss and lick each other and are then sliced to ribbons. One of those girls is even gutted and "made love to" in her abdominal wound by one of the killers. All of the torture scenes go on for what seems like an eternity. There's also a headless dead baby covered in maggots, a guy screwing a dead child in a bathtub and a little incest thrown in for good measure. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then sit back and "enjoy." Personally, I was just bored.

100 Tears (2007)

Directed by:
Marcus Koch

Two tabloid reporters, Jennifer Stevenson (Georgia Chris) and Mark Webb (writer / producer Joe Davison) are wanting to be taken seriously as journalists and begin investigating a serial murderer known as "The Teardrop Killer," who has been hacking up people over a 20 year period but has somehow managed to elude the police all that time by hiding out in an abandoned building's cellar. Jennifer and Mark piece the clues together, which lead them to a flea-bag circus (which seems to be right in the middle of some junkyard) and revelation that the psycho is actually an obese, jilted clown named Gurdy (Jack Amos) who murdered a few people decades earlier before disappearing. Also disappearing around the same time was Gurdy's lover Tracey (Leslie Crytzer), who has successfully managed to change her name and live in the same small town along with her and Gurdy's whorish cutter daughter Christine (Raine Brown) for two decades without being detected. Other characters include a dwarf and bartender who know the clown's whereabouts and a pair of ineffectual police detectives (Kibwe Dorsey and Rod Grant), as well as various victims (a real estate agent, partying teens, etc.) who show up just long enough to get killed.

This very low-budget film (shot on digital) excels at one thing and one thing only - gore. Heck, during the first fifteen alone the body count has already reached double digits as the clown killer goes around a halfway house hacking up anyone he can get his hands on with a huge meat cleaver. There are cut off limbs, slashings, decapitations, guts spilling out all over the floor, a head getting stomped in and blood literally gushing out all over the place. These scenes are actually pretty entertaining and well done. Unfortunately after the first fifteen minutes of almost non-stop carnage, the film then tries to add the plot and deal more with characters and this is where it starts to come apart. In fact, 100 Tears seems to falter any time it isn't being gory. The entire mid-section of the film is slow-moving, tedious and badly written, with uneven performances and a sense of humor primarily centered around farts and bowel movements. The ending is also rather sloppy, and the overdone gore scenes themselves start growing tiresome and monotonous after awhile.

A good point of comparison might be with Peter Jackson's DEAD ALIVE (aka BRAINDEAD), which has even more gore than this one but also managed to be entertaining and fun when it wasn't being disgusting. Jackson's film is also much more clever and inventive when it comes to creating new and original gore scenes, while the kills in this one - bloody as they may be - aren't particularly clever. Though in this film's defense, it only had a 75K budget while Dead Alive's was 3 million, so I guess they did a good job cramming as much blood and gore in as possible. It's just too bad the other areas of the film aren't quite as strong. From a technical standpoint (cinematography, score, sound, editing, etc.), it's pretty uneven, though again not bad for the budget.

So if you're looking simply for gore and a high body count, then this will satiate your blood lust. However, if you're looking for a scary or otherwise good horror film, you'll probably find less to like here.


Deepening, The (2006)

Directed by:
Ted Alderman
Jim O'Rear

New York City firefighter Ted (Ted Alderman) is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the events of 9/11. In an attempt to pull himself back together, he relocates to an uneventful small town and gets a new job at another fire department. Because Ted is quiet and a little odd, most of his co-workers make fun of him. The only one who doesn't is Jim (Jim O'Rear), a man whose entire world seems to revolve around getting laid. Jim hooks Ted up on a blind date with a girl who ends up dead at the end of the evening. No one is actually charged with the crime (though Ted is found covered in her blood!), more murders soon follow and a couple of police detectives investigate. Jim becomes the prime suspect after one of his lovers is killed and sets out to prove his innocence. Cheap gore, T&A and a costumed killer all wrapped up in a badly plotted mystery movie format? Yep. This one actually does manage to check all of the expected slasher flick boxes. I'll give it that much credit. A few guest stars - Gunnar Hansen as a police psychiatrist and Debbie Rochon as Jim's ex-girlfriend - show up in small roles, too. Aside from that, this has absolutely nothing of value to offer. The story is lame, the acting is bad, the lead character is thoroughly unlikable, the identity of the killer is painfully predictable and the last 30 minutes are a disaster. I know the budget was very low, but there is really no excuse for the photography to be as bad as it is here. Many of the shots are actually blurry and the lighting is consistently terrible.

... And holy vanity production! Co-director / writer / producer O'Rear is hilariously miscast as the town stud, who has numerous large-breasted woman wanting to jump his bones the minute they lay eyes on him. Now I might understand this if Jim were tall, dark and handsome, but he's short, bald and average-looking, so seeing all these women literally throwing themselves at him throughout the movie is pretty laughable. Then again, I suppose if given the chance most guys would gladly script themselves a role where they spend half their screen time fondling breasts.

Speaking of breasts, no less than six different actresses show off the goods here. One (Maria Kil) even goes beyond the call of duty by going full frontal. Just thought you might want a heads up in case you plan on fast-forwarding to the nudity. Rochon doesn't even appear until the second half in case you want to skip directly to her sex scene.


Zombie Campout (2002)

Directed by:
Joshua D. Smith

More ambitious low-budget filmmakers try to overcome their limitations, while the rest simply embrace them. This is definitely a case of the latter, where the director and cast pretty much know they're making a piece of silly crud and decide to have a little fun with it. It almost reminded me a bit of DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, a film whose "plot" basically consisted of a bunch of random people wandering into the woods just long enough to get killed by some maniac. Of course this one has zombies instead of a maniac, and an even lower budget if you can imagine that, but it's surprisingly similar in many ways; starting with four poorly-defined people going camping, then introducing a bunch of insignificant characters who exist just to die. Bunny (Misty Orman), her boyfriend Steve (John M. Davis), her best friend Tammy (Tiffany Black) and Steve's friend Trevor (Jeremy Schwab), who is being set up on a blind date with Tammy, decide to spend their weekend camping out near a lake. There they set up camp, sit around talking, make out (while some terrible song goes "Yeah... Oh yeah... So Nice..." in a deep Isaac Hayes like voice) and run into four bikini-clad girls who invite them to a party the next day. After about a half-hour of pointless filler that will bore most viewers into a coma, a meteor shower erupts and fragments hit a nearby graveyard, bringing the dead to life. The badly made-up zombies then go on a rampage around the campground, killing off and eating whoever crosses their path.

Make no mistake, this movie is completely and utterly awful. I cannot think of any redeeming qualities it has from a technical standpoint; direction, acting, script, zombie makeups, editing, sound and cinematography are all the pits. There are also several instances of atrocious CGI that make the effects in SyFy Channel flicks look Oscar worthy by comparison. However, this movie did make me laugh a lot. I'll admit it. I kind of enjoyed watching it. Whether it be the horribly delivered lines of dialogue or the fact that every single female cast member who wandered into frame was dressed in a bikini top and cut off jean shorts, this one had plenty to amuse bad movie fans. Strangely, there's no nudity aside from a two second shot of the top of an ass when a zombie girl's towel falls off. In fact, this movie makes a running gag out of the fact the director obviously couldn't afford to pay any of the ladies to take their tops off. The two female leads change into their bikins under the top they already have on. Another who is changing into a bikini is hidden behind a tree branch that keeps moving up and down to make sure nothing is seen. That had to be intentional, right? I hope that was intentional...

My absolute favorite scene in the whole movie, which I had to rewind and watch like five times because it was so hilarious, involved a pair of lesbian characters who get killed. One has her throat ripped out and sprays an exaggerated amount of blood on the other big-breasted girl who's wearing a flimsy white top. Then that girl tries to run away, but gets ambushed by more zombies, who grab her and rip both of her arms off. Well, they rip the arms off an obvious mannequin torso. Then the armless girl keeps on a running, trips over a tree limb and then falls down and smacks her head off a rock. That's the highlight (or is that lowlight?) of this particular flick.

After a painfully slow first half, this became a bit livelier toward the end, with more cheap gore effects, more cheap action and more cheap scenes of screaming girls in bikinis being pulled to the ground by three or four zombies. It's all stupid and amateurish as can be, but I had a bit of fun watching it and reveling in its stupidity. One thing that I absolutely hated were snippets of dialogue making references to it just being a stupid zombie film, as well as characters looking directly into the camera and mugging. Is that EVER funny? These movies, bad or not, always play better without being so obvious.


Corpses Are Forever (2003)

... aka: Nerve

Directed by:
Jose Prendes

Though far from being the worst film reviewed here, Corpses is certainly one of the most disappointing. What we have here is a movie that features a wonderful B horror cast all giving enjoyable performances in a film that's a completely frustrating, incoherent and over-stuffed mess. Director / writer / producer/star Jose Prendes, I've read, is a "trust fund baby" who sank a lot of his own inherited money into this project, so it's fitting in a way he's solely responsible for sinking the ship. What I didn't like is that people like Richard Lynch, Debbie Rochon, Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley and Don Calfa were on board with him. However, none of them have a thing to be embarrassed about; they all do their jobs well and earn this film a better rating that it otherwise would have gotten for their dedication, professionalism and talent. It is Prendes who curdles this proceedings with his amateurism both in front of and behind the camera. He truly is his own worst enemy. It's difficult to sum up the plot of this movie in comprehensible terms, but it's safe to say it tries to cram in everything but the kitchen sink.

Beginning in black and white, it starts with a confused, wounded man named Quint Barrow, played by Prendes, whose bizarrely awful attempt at a British (I think) accent must be heard to be believed. His voice-over narration goes on and on, his young son is missing and he thinks he's being trailed. After a few of these noir-ish scenes, the film suddenly switches to color and to one of the most poorly-choreographed fight scenes in recent history. Prendes now gets to play bad-ass and use some kindergarten kung-fu moves on some slow and incredibly non-threatening zombies. The color stock also denotes that we are now in the post-apocalyptic future, which is in a state of "permanent darkness" and over-run with the living dead (though after the first fight, the living dead don't make another appearance until near the end). Prendes is now an amnesiac government agent named Malcolm Grant and he drops the phony accent in favor of his real-life droopy-dog blandness and cue-card line delivery. Malcolm ends up at a secret government facility run by the sinister General Morton (Lynch), who is actually the devil in disguise. There's a truth serum administered by a friendly lady doctor (Stevens), a tough priest (Bill Perlach), a sexy back-stabber of a wife with her own agenda (Rochon), a young infected woman on the verge of becoming a zombie (Felissa Rose), lots of gung-ho soldiers and others that cross in and out of the senseless plot. More black-and-white flashbacks to the past feature Quigley (who is murdered, but returns in the present as some kind of giggly ghost) and Conrad Brooks.

This type of movie is pretty easy to defend by purists with one of those comments like "You just didn't get it." I can say, fine, maybe I didn't 'get all of it,' but what can be said about a movie that makes you not really care to? The material presented here is not over anyone's head and it is not enjoyable to try to wade through it all; this is just very bad writing that has no idea how to weave the multiple story threads together in any accessible or entertaining way. It is not enjoyably enigmatic like a David Lynch movie. He doesn't even approach the style and dream-like aesthetics of Lynch. There is just so much here to try to deal with that just about every plot device is given cursory treatment. Many ideas are introduced and not explored or just dropped altogether because there is no time to satisfyingly deal with them. It is not fun to try to piece together the half-assed elements of this film, it is just irritating.

Like I said earlier, watching the entertaining name value cast at work provides the best moments in this film. Richard Lynch injects a great deal of humor and professionalism to the film. Debbie is fine as the leather-clad femme fatale not to be trusted, though her role does not give her a lot to work with. Stevens, always better at these intellectual roles, is brainy and a bit quirky here. Linnea gets to play it both ways; serious and campy. Rose and Calfa (using the name "Lanc Fladoda") both have a scene apiece, and deliver. Brooks, eh... he's Brooks. I know I've been tough on Jose here; he does have a few good ideas and his direction is not entirely bad; there's a lot of energy and some style and creativity (a black-and-white scene with a glass of blood in color, a few elaborate trailing shots) present in this film. But next time he should find someone else to write the script (or at least co-author it with him) and definitely needs a new leading man; he is duller than David Schwimmer, has very little on-screen appeal and sucks the life right out of the scenes he is in... which is most of them.

Corpses started life as a short (called Nerve) before being expanded into a feature length film. Nerve featured Jose, Linnea and Conrad; the footage of which may have been incorporated directly into Corpses.


Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker! (2000)

Directed by:
Chris Seaver

Debbie Rochon is a great actress, but being a Debbie fan has one major drawback... Having to sit through some of the worst direct-to-video dreck on the market. Case in point is this monotonous "twisted horror comedy" from one of the lowest-of-low-budget directors; Chris Seaver, who directed, wrote, produced, did some of the make-up effects and co-stars. I've seen one reviewer call him a "juvenile idiot with a camcorder," but I'm willing to give him a little slack being pretty familiar with the low-budget film industry in general. Obviously inspired by Lloyd Kaufman and Troma (whom he attempts to emulate and frequently cross-references), Chris seems to have endless enthusiasm, but little actual talent when it comes to making a decent video. Equally inept at both the horror and comedy genres, he intentionally goes out of his way to make crappy films, succeeds and then expects the audience to laugh along at his crappy production values and juvenile in-jokes. Watch more than one of them and you'll just see the same overacting, the same awful gags and the same unfunny pop culture references recycled over and over and over again. Debbie has appeared in over half-a-dozen films for them and is always the best thing about these movies, even though it's depressing to see her wasting her talents on such crap.

Shot on the cheapest of digital video for around "2000 dollars" in Long Island, New York, Mulva follows the adventures of a brain-damaged, junk-food obsessed young Tromaville resident named, you guessed it, Mulva (played by Missy Donatuti, who was one of the producers and not the girl on the DVD cover). She has a dream-fantasy sequence being showered in bed with candy and a flashback sequence before scarfing down a breakfast of Franken Berry cereal, pop, sugar and chocolate syrup. She and her 'morbidly obese' best friend Cassie (played by "Callie the Hut") go trick-or-treating (with Mulva dressed as Egon from GHOSTBUSTERS) and encounter various oddball characters before doing battle with a slew of zombies. The director himself plays Mr. Bonejack, a jive-talking, Bill Cosby-obsessed neighbor with a Don King hair-do who also gets thrown into the mix. We also get cameos from Debbie as an aloof oddball in some weird Road Warrior-like get-up (that she designed herself out of football pads, deer antlers and fur), Trent Haaga as an amateur magician wearing a shirt proclaiming him "Cock God," Lloyd Kaufman (who seems lost as to what to say here) as the mayor of Tromaville, Doug Sakmann as the lead zombie, TeenApe, The Toxic Avenger and Sgt. Kabukiman. There are parodies of The Benny Hill Show and Michael Jackson's Thriller video (break dancing zombies), plus many digs at popular horror films (particularly DAWN OF THE DEAD).

There are a few dumb laughs, some major bad acting, hitchhikers talking about Romero, Savini and Fulci before being disemboweled by zombies, a Dragon Ball Z obsessed guy who is comically dubbed (by the director), music stolen from CHILDREN OF THE CORN and THE SHINING and plenty of amateur gore effects toward the end. It's about as 'home movie' as they come. In fact, you can actually hear people behind the camera laughing and even the director saying "Go!" to cue an actor!

The Splatter Rampage disc teams Mulva with FILTHY MCNASTY (2001). Each film comes with an introduction and several commentary tracks. Debbie contributes to the Mulva track, but Filthy has two of the worst tracks I've ever heard. I think I'd rather listen to two straight hours of a dentist's drill than this pointless inane chatter. Here you can listen to the humble director and his friends giving their unbiased remarks ("hilarious," "fantastic," "well shot," "creepy") on the film. You also get to hear the director offer such insight as "When it comes to writing the films, I try not to put much plot in them." If you must check out a movie from Low Budget Pictures, the two best I've seen thus far are the first FILTHY MCNASTY and MULVA 2: KILL TEENAPE (which stars Debbie and is a spoof of Tarantino's KILL BILL).


Delta Delta Die! (2003)

Directed by:
Devin Hamilton

Dumb, trashy, profane, exploitative... yet so much fun! I have been waiting a long time for just a silly, funny, trashy, entertaining direct-to-video movie with just the right B-movie attitude... and here it finally is! I must say that this intentionally hokey little piece of trash had me in stitches from beginning to end. It reminded me of those glory days in the 80s when Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer and Brinke Stevens were headlining fun minor B flicks like HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS and SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA. Of course, I grew up on those films watching USA Network's Up All Night, so I may be partial to this particular subgenre, but their tone, their campiness and their outrageousness is the current equivalent of the much missed drive-in movie experience of the 1970s. Just turn off your brain, sit back with some junk food, watch the movie and have a good time. Delta Delta Die! is one of the very few B movie revivals I've seen from the 2000s to actually capture the essence and spirit of the 80s schlock / exploitation movie favorites that haunted the back corners of video stores.

Things open at the Delta Delta Pi sorority house. House mother Marilyn Fitch (Julie Strain) and her current stock of four buxom sorority girls decide on the fate of Hannah, who has betrayed the stringent rules of their house. Her crime is so severe that the ladies decide the only appropriate punishment is to lock Hannah in the cellar for an entire month. What act could be so bad to require such cruel treatment? Why eating a penis, of course! Yes, these gals are actually (gasp!) flesheating cannibals. To keep their house thriving, they also sell meat pies and other gourmet treats on the side which, you guessed it, contain human flesh. Meanwhile, a male student named Tobias (Joseph Dain) catches on and enlists the aid of former sorority girl and ex-cannibal Rhonda Cooper (Brinke Stevens) to stop them.

The plot is somewhat similar to the seldom-seen horror comedy AUNTIE LEE'S MEAT PIES (starring Karen Black, Michael Berryman, Pat Morita and a gaggle of Playboy Playmates), but this much cheaper videotaped effort (the picture quality is a little dark but tolerable and the sound is alright) goes off in its own enjoyable direction. I don't want to give away too many of the silly gags or the cheesy one-liners, but I would like to talk about the two main reasons this extremely hokey little time-waster is extremely enjoyable when you're in the mood for this type of flick.

First off, I've never been a big fan of Julie Strain, but she really delivers the goods in this film, proving that some things just get better with age (and I am not talking about her looks). Though she has aged well (she's 40 now and looks pretty much the same as she did 15 years ago), she finally seems to have a handle on how to deliver an enjoyably campy performance. She's just so enthusiastic here and seems to have had a blast making this film and that sort of energy rubs off directly onto the viewer.

Tiffany Shepis, who plays Patrice, also has a leg up on her competition, both in this film and in the currently overloaded parade of up-and-coming Scream Queens. She's easily the best actress in this film (with a very sexy snarl and a confident, somewhat conceited way of delivering her lines) and she nails every laugh. She also proves her acting chops by getting in a bar fight with a couple of trashy hos and seducing two guys in the basement after a game of strip poker, performing a sexy strip to a hilariously bad techno song that repeats "make your body move" ad nauseum. I saw Tiffany in brief parts in some Troma movies and also in TED BUNDY (she's the one who escapes), but I must say, she won me over here and I can't wait to see more of her.

In short, those looking for a conventionally "good" horror film should probably steer clear of Delta Delta Die! Those looking for some sex (with both male and female skin scenes to please just about everyone), cheap gore and just a fun little B-movie should definitely give this one a thumbs up.

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