Friday, February 16, 2007

Last Rites, aka Dracula's Last Rites (1980)

Mr. A. Lucard is the proprieter of the local funeral home. He and his blood sucking friends have a nice little set up going until Ted Fonda asks for the body of his wifes aunt. They want to have the viewing and funeral in her parlor, but the funeral home tells him that local laws forbid them giving him the body back at this point.

Ted shows up with another mortician who tells him there is no law that says they can not turn the body over to him or another funeral home. Lucard is furious when he finds out Ted has the body, as they remove the blood from the fresh bodies the old vampire way. After this they stake the bodies, and cover this up with mortician's wax and makeup.

Usually they do this immediately following the blood letting, but for some reason that is never explained, they neglected to stake old auntie, which is a problem as now she's lying in state in the downstairs parlor. Ted grows increasingly frustrated as the aunt's body disappears, burglars break into the house, and Lucard plots against him.

Yes, nothing is as it seems in this town or the funeral home.

Fresh Kill (1987)

Can someone tell me what this is on the cover? It appears to show male feet in sneakers, female feet in high heels, and an inexplicable thing on the ground that appears to be a two foot wide piece of grilled chicken and a pile of money. Surely it can't be chicken, but two out of three of us thought that's what it looked most like, while the third couldn't even hazard a guess.

This film has what must be the absolute WORST sound ever. You literally can not hear at least half of the film's dialogue due to traffic, wind, the ocean, background music, and ambient noise. It is truly unbelievable, as well as unforgivable. Often characters are obviously having a conversation, yet any sound that might be coming from their mouths is absent. Ultimately, we ended up fast forwarding through the last third of the movie because it didn't make any difference since the dialogue was buried.

This hideous little romp concerns a young man named Alec ( I think ) who goes to California to be an actor, but ends up working in a butcher shop. After a girl hides in the closed shop to elude two thugs, thing go terribly wrong when Alec accidentally kills one in self defense while waiting for a late night meat delivery. The girl then uses a meat cleaver to dispatch of the other. But instead of contacting the police, they speed off to the girl's mom's house, where Alec protests about how upset he is before succumbing to the girls sexual proposition.

Turns out the girl is the ex-girlfriend of the local drug czar played by Robert Zdar. While Alec and the girl take a helicopter ride, have a picnic, and eat pizza, crazy Zdar tries to find them, because one of the thugs was his brother and the girl is his ex-girlfriend.

Of special note is the scenic helicopter ride that they take to get to the romantic picnic in the field near the ocean. The picnic that is already set up and alone on the hillside. Sounds romantic enough, but ants would be all over that picnics hinder before that copter could even get there.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Tales From the Grave (2003)

Four tales of horror intercut with shadowy host segments featuring a second rate Cryptkeeper host, who spends the entire time in the shadow and with it's mouth out of sync with the words. The horror segments are shot on video, and sometimes the sun is so bright that any hope for a creepy atmosphere is dashed.

"Crazy Gunderman"
The town lunatic, hermit, and reputed warlock, Old Man Gunderson - white makeup in his hair, beard, and some smeared on his face - is rumored to curse anyone who messes with him, but that doesn't stop a stupid jock from beaning him in the back of the head with a basketball. After cursing the boy with nonsense chants and making it impossible for him to breathe, Gunderson wanders off muttering.

Todd tells his friend Mike - a horrible artist who appears to have let his grandmother decorate his apartment - how scary it was. This prompts Mike to declare that if they scare crazy Gunderman they will be famous. They go into the woods, find Gunderman's tent, and burst in on him during a satanic ritual. Oh crazy Gunderman, what will you do next?

Watch as Gunderman, who resembles Charles Manson, terrorizes the boys and makes every path in the woods lead back to his tent. Stare in disbelief as Todd ties Mike to a tree to keep him from sleepwalking. Look in jaw gaping confusion as crazy old man Gunderman's mind control makes Todd look like he's doing a bad 1950s dance. Isn't that scary, kids? Isn't it?!??!

How this movie got Joe Estevez is a puzzler that will haunt you for the entire story. Estevez is writer Vinnie who decides to rent a cabin to keep from going crazy. But from his actions, it seems to be far too late for that. Most of this segment is Vinnie's rantings and ravings. Of particular interest are Vinnie throwing a typewriter through a window, and the hysterical lemon/pipe cleaner spider that jumps at Vinnie's neck!

"Lab Rats"
A man wakes up in a straight jacket in a white room. He has no idea where he is and does not know his name. Eventually he starts walking around the maze of white halls, sees lots of blood, and a partially dismembered-but still living - man. What is going on? What is it? Unfortunately, this tale is predictable and you'll know what the ending is before it's offered.

"The Billywack"
Legend has it that out in these here woods, there is a creature called the Billywack. This is unfortunate as a young couple picks this woody spot to do some late night parking, and damned if they don't park right in the Billywack's spot. What is a billywack, you ask? Damned if I know, but it appears to be covered in faux fur that was used in the 1970s to make those big furry rugs shaped like feet. Another story of legends come to life and the stupid kids that get in it's way.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Up From the Depths (1979)

I've actually seen this movie twice. It was an accident. During the screening, I was so mind numbingly confused that I blotted it from my mind. So when Michelle suggested we watch it again, I couldn't even remember seeing it. But I chanced my sanity by viewing it a second time.

A sea monster awakens from his slumber and starts indiscriminately killing treasure hunters, as well as tourists at a tropical resort. The resort manager doesn't want anyone to know an arm has washed up on the beach, as he will lose money if the guests leave. Meanwhile on a jetty, an alcoholic captain and a smooth talking hipster take a couple from the resort out in their boat in an attempt to con them out of some money. Havoc ensues as the sea monster keeps a-killing and the resort manager keeps his guests in the dark. This culminates in a crazy sea monster hunt which lets us know that all the guests are idiots.

The strange thing is that this is a horror movie, yet many of the characters are comedic. They throw one liners out of nowhere. And do you see the cover art? Who was it that okayed this, surely with the words, "Just make the picture look a little more like Jaws." Still mind numbingly awful, but not as puzzling the second time.

Slime City (1988)

Alex, a slightly effeminate college student with a virgin girlfriend, moves into an apartment building which turns out to be inhabited by the spirits of an occultist named Zachary and his followers, all of whom committed suicide. After a strange dinner with the downstairs neighbor, Alex expresses his sexual frustration by having sex with the heavy metal skank next door. These two events cause him to become intermittantly possessed by Zachary's spirit, and become an evil slime oozing monster. While not a good movie, it's got a certain charm and I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Fog (2005)

A questionable remake of the 70s horror movie of the same name, The Fog fills itself with stereotypical beautiful twenty somethings, computer generated fog, and a lack of palpable tension. Unlike the first movie in which Adrienne Barbeau played the sultry voiced dj Stevie Wayne, this versions Stevie has an on air personality that is so annoying you want to throw a brick at her head.

This delightful little romp's storyline revolves around a town that becomes over run with a fog bank that moves under it's own volition. As if that isn't creepy enough, this fog is filled with the ghosts from a ship filled with lepers that the towns founding fathers murdered. Oddly enough, the heroes vagabond girlfriend, who has returned to town just before the fog, is a dead ringer for the ghost leper leaders young bride. Unfortunately, she's also the stupidest girl alive, and destroys the only evidence about what is really happening in town. Go lepers!!

Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo

When two smugglers with a plane load of coffee, unknowingly laced with tarantulas, crash lands in a small town, the excitement turns to panic once the poisonous spiders threaten not only their lives but their livelihood. The tarantulas are hungry...hungry for oranges! And wouldn't you know it, they arrived right in the week where the orange crop has to be shipped, or the oranges won't be any good. Watch as the town folks try to save their orange warehouse from the deadly, crawling, menace! Howard Hesseman aka Johnny Fever from WKRP is one of the coffee smuggling idiots.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Ancient Warriors (2003)

During a rescue mission, Aldo's father is killed by a villain with a snake tattoo on his arm. Oddly enough, Aldo looks to be at least in his fifties, yet his dad is a soldier in the same unit - probably not the best guy to send to rescue a hostage. Years later, Aldo finds that the school his daughter attends, which is for children who are mentally challenged, is going to be sold to a rich businessman who plans to mine something there, but in actuality is looking for a formula for eternal youth which was buried in a cave in during an ancient ritual.

Aldo gets the old team back together to take on the bad guys, and havoc ensues. Contrary to what you'd think by the cover, the ancient warriors are more of a promise than a reality. They barely figure into the movie at all, which is very disappointing.

The movie stars a greasy, smoking, peanut-eating Daniel Baldwin as Aldo's best buddy, and Richard Lynch as the evil business man. Good to see Richard is still acting, as he one of my favorite character actors. Aldo is played by Franco Columbu, a body builder who knew Arnold in his body building days. This was filmed in Malta using some of the same locations as the Joe Don Baker movie, Final Justice.

Cyborg 2 (1993)

Angelina Jolie is a cyborg with a liquid inside her that will detonate at some inconvenient time. She needs a hero - instead she ends up with a guy even she can beat up.

The sequel of sorts to Jean Claude Van Dammes "Cyborg", the movie tells the story of a cyborg in love with a combat trainer, and their escape from the complex which holds the cyborg lab. Billy Drago plays a very creepy bounty hunter type who is tracking them, not only for pay but for a personal vendetta. And Jack Palance stars as the disembodied voice Mercy, who speaks through any television in the world, even those that are trashed and not plugged in.

Snuff (1975)

The box for this movie claimed it was banned in New York as there was a possibility that it was a real snuff film. However, by today's standards, this is pretty tame. The film revolves around an actress with a rich boyfriend, and a group of hippie chicks with an odd sense of fun - shooting at, chsing and torturing each other, taking drugs, and spending time with a man named Satan (pronounced Sah-Taan).

The two stories ineptly, but unsatisfyingly, come together later in the movie, but by this time we've already been subject to much nonsense and too much stock footage of Carnivale. I've heard the end of the movie was just tacked on to the other footage which was shot for a different movie - which makes sense seeing as no one looked familiar.

In other words, this is the horror version of Godfrey Ho's caucasian ninja films.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Monster at Camp Sunshine (1964)

A model and a nurse are matched up by a roommate service, and discover that they both smoke and one is a nudist. The nurse tells the model all about her friend who owns a nudist camp and how relaxing it is to go there. As the model has just been asked to model a topless bathing suit, she agrees to head out to the camp to help rid her inhibitions.

Much of the film has olde tyme music that really doesn't fit the 60s nudist ideal. The 1920s flapper music gets in your head and won't get out. And you haven't lived until you've heard Way Down Upon the Swanee River played as a conversion van full of nudists sets up for their barbeque. Also I must mention that the sound is dubbed, and very badly at that. One girl even seems to be dubbed by two different people!

There isn't all that much talking since nudity is the point. Mostly there are narrative remarks from the model, and music montages of women and a man being modestly nude. The gang goes out of their way to avoid showing any full frontal nudity, and are quite adept at using books, towels, and even a zither(!?!) to cover their nether regions.

Oh yes, it must be mentioned that the doctor who works with the nurse has a potion that turns rats into killers. He disposes of the formula in a mason jar, which is reeled in by a local fisherman, who in turn spills it in the creek running alongside the nudist colony. The mentally deficient brother of the camp owner drinks from the creek, ingests the chemicals, and becomes an axe wielding monster.

You probably won't see anything like this again. So it's got that going for it.

Cassandra (1987)

What can you say about a woman who has visions of her aunt committing suicide while a strange little boy urges her on? Or has nightmares about murders seen from the killers point of view? Or goes back home to talk to her parents about the gruesome scenes in her head because she thinks they are memories? Or whose brother was institutionalized as a child, is now free and the family wonders whether he'd be upset that they've been living off his money?

I guess you could say it's similar to any early eighties horror movie, except that it's more about the dialogue and less about the slashing. The box says it's suspense, but I disagree. There is a limited cast, so we know it has to be one of them and the dull stare of Cassandra doesn't provide any emotional impact.

Yes, what can you say about Cassandra.... except that the killer turns out to be whiny and irritating, and you'll get sick of people repeatedly singing "who killed cock robin?"

Silent Trigger (1996)

Sunken-eyed, living-dead, Frankenstein-y Dolph Lundgren is an assassin who refuses to kill a lady politician because his shot is obscured by the baby she's holding up to the crowd. Dolph's female partner shows a complete lack of skill and knowledge in their profession, which makes one wonder how she ever got this job.

Amid a myriad of flashbacks -which could have been left out and it wouldn't have mattered - they are paired together for a mission based out of a semi-constructed highrise manned by Frick and Frack security guards. But most of the movie revolves around Dolph and the girl, how Dolph failed the last mission, and the coked up security guard who is hallucinating spiders.

Long scenes of talking will lull you into a stupor, as music that sounds like OMD plays annoyingly in the background and you find yourself wondering when the gang from Pretty in Pink is going to show up. The movie unintentionally dates itself by having Dolph listening to crappy music on a Discman. Then it smacks you upside the head with the dvd's "special features" which consist of a director and cast filmography. Hogwash!! Ain't nothing special about that.

The special features alone are enough to make you kick the dvd across the room, through the widow, and into the street where it is hit by a passing car. What can I say? Horrible. Annoying. Nonsense. Yup, that about sums it up. Oh yeah... I did learn that if you're a politician who doesn't want to be assassinated, you should wear a coat made out of babies. Even a professional assassin won't shoot a person covered in babies.