Friday, June 23, 2017

Autopsy, The Naked Coroner

Remember the TV show "Quincy"? Jack Klugman played a medical examiner who went around solving murders. Fortunately Klugman kept his clothes on during that show. Today we look at 1975's "Autopsy" where the sultry Mimsy Farmer is cast as a medical examiner in Italy who keeps taking off her clothes to have pre-marital sex. When she doesn't take them off, some odd guy does it for her. Even the corpses in her morgue seem to be excited by her sex-appeal. Nothing says "Naked Raw Passion" like a babe with a corpse on her slab. Was "Quincy" inspired by "Autopsy"? You be the judge.
As our film opens we see several grisly suicides. It is August in Italy and sunspots might be causing these suicides. Simona (Farmer) sees many of these victims in her morgue and begins seeing visions of these corpses rising and either beckoning her or engaging in sex. Distressed, Simona goes home and has a chance meeting with her dad's young GF (Gaby Wagner). Simona next meets this vixen when she appears on a slab in her morgue with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Simona becomes suspicious that perhaps these suicides aren't suicides but homicides. On cue Father Lenox (Barry Primus) storms into the morgue and announces that the girl on the slab is his sister and she did not commit suicide. Father Lenox was a former Grand Prix driver and was responsible for 11 deaths during the "Massacre at Le Mans" (...don't ask).
Lenox and Simona team up, but really don't get along. Simona's beau, Ed (Ray Lovelock) appears and the two try to have lots of pre-marital sex. Simona pulls away each time as visions of corpses invade her mind. In fact the only way she can have sex is to imagine it is with her new priest friend. As more of Simona's friends, acquaintances, and relatives commit suicide, Simona makes a startling discovery in her morgue which puts her life in danger. As the sunspots continue, our babe coroner becomes unhinged causing us to wonder if she may be responsible for the deaths.
Is Simona the killer or the next victim? Just how is someone able to make dozens of suicides appear as murder? Is this film a thinly veiled metaphor for humanity's subconscious desire to have sexual intercourse with the dearly departed? Wait...where did that come from!  Erotic and creepy, enjoy this horror yarn from Italy, "Autopsy."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Strangeness, Sequel to The Boogens

I bet you didn't know The Boogens had a sequel. I guess it doesn't, in an official sense. However, when we speak of a toothy, tentacled, slimy creature dwelling in an abandoned mine which was closed a century ago because miners kept dying mysteriously...we think of "The Boogens." Today's feature, with similar plot devices, 1985's "The Strangeness." Much maligned and very low-budget, this feature has a really cool creature that grabs you, spits acid on you, then eats you slowly as the acid melts you down. Poetry!
America's newest widow...Cindy
The gold mine was abandoned after dozens of miners met with strange demises. Hemmings (Rolf Theison) buys it and accompanies a team to explore it and see if gold can still be mined. The couple he sent to open it?  Monster food! Joining the team is head miner Geoff (Dan Lunham) who has a penchant for leading his people to sure death. Dan Flanders (Mark Sawicki) is a writer chronicling the history of this cursed cavern. Cindy (Terri Berland), a sultry blonde, dressed in a very snug outfit, is Dan's wife and team photographer. Morgan (Keith Hurt) an English miner who drinks a lot and chews tobacco. And a few more that hardly merit a mention.  The team descends into the mysterious veins of this mine.
Hemmings meets the creature
Angela (Diane Borcyckowski), the team's geologist, will be the first team member, partially dissolved, ripped apart, and eaten. A cave-in then occurs trapping our team in this god-forsaken death trap. Still hungry the monster stalks the miners one by one. The survivors find the remains of their buddies and realize they are dealing with a monster. After tasting blood, the fiend gets really aggressive. Cindy screams a lot and is slapped around a bit after her husband gets it. Meanwhile, Hemmings grabs the now-available Cindy, leaving everyone else to die, and runs for an exit. Cindy fights back and gets her clock cleaned, but Geoff and the boogen-like thing pursue.
Morgan being digested
Will the shapely, and new widow Cindy find love in those mines? Will Geoff stop being a failure, save Cindy, kill the creature, and get him and the damsel to the surface? Directed by Melanie Anne Phillips, "The Strangeness" boasts of a cool monster, some excruciating death scenes, and a babe damsel...what more can we ask for. Instead of wasting your time on the newest "Wonder Woman" (Yawn!), see "The Strangeness" free on YouTube.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Spine, White Clad Victims

Nurses! Such noble souls. However, in the 1980s, these saints suffered unimaginable torture and carnage in slasher films. In "Halloween 2," the prettier the nurse, the more vicious her death. Who can forget when Michael Myers dunked Pamela Susan Shoop's face in a scalding hot tub? I'm sure this sequel to a slasher classic inspired the makers of the 1985 straight-to-VHS "Spine." Like "Halloween 2," we'll meet a lot of beautiful nurses, clad in white, who meet such bloody demises at the hands of a psycho with a knife....and a grudge.
Louise
 As our story begins, a pretty nurse (Kathy Rose) has been stripped of her white uniform and hogtied. A mysterious killer then stabs her 57 times, exposing her backbone and writing "Linda" in blood on the wall.  Who is Linda? Part of the mystery I'm afraid. The cute and perky Louise (Abby Sved) is next. She'll meet the same fate, I'm afraid. The cops are baffled as more nurses fall to this mysterious psycho. On the killer's radar is the beauty in white, Carrie (Janus Blyth). This pretty nurse has just invited another pretty nurse, Leah (Lisa Romanoff) to room with her. Now Leah is on the same demented radar. Both these ladies are spooked by the newspaper accounts of the killings.
The psycho and Carrie
Working his way closer to Carrie, our killer visits the hospital she's plies her trade. In the basement of the facility, our fiend grabs Lori (Marie Dowling), strings her up, cuts her clothes off with a knife, tortures her with the same knife, but is interrupted by Carrie before he can finish the job. Now the killer is determined to finish off Carrie and Leah and the police still have no clue. As Leah takes a shower (...oh yes, gratuitous is an adjective that describes this film well) and Carrie goes for a run in short-shorts, our fiend arrives for an orgy of blood. The two nubile nurses will soon be subjected to a very humiliating and tortuous fate...or will they turn the tables on our fiend? What does the killer have against nurses, and who is Linda?
The psycho and Leah
The killings are cruel and hard to watch and the nurses seem defenseless against this devil. The ending is weird, and many of you may not like it, but rest assured, it will be highly gratuitous. The acting? Well, it is straight-to-VHS quality, but better than any Megan Fox performance. For some vicious sexploitation and horror, take a look at "Spine" and remember not to discuss it in polite company.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We Love Selfies, ...at our own peril

Do you ever wonder what the creators of those classic urban legends, or those creators of the classic 1980s slasher films would have done with the concept of selfies from smart phones? If Laurie Strode had an iPhone, would Michael Myers have acted differently? How about all those camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake? Would Jason have had any goodwill toward the frolicking teens taking selfies of themselves in bikinis or making out? In Joseph Sorrentino's "We Love Selfies," those questions are answered. In gory and horrific fashion, the smart phone selfie is introduced into that old classic slasher film plot.
With a tip of the hat to "Halloween," and "He Knows you're Alone," and a few other memorable horror classics, we meet a very pretty babysitter, Dylan (Corrie Graham). Her charge is to tend to the very cute Brittany (Jordan King) as her parents are out for the night. Jordan's a good kid and the evening should be an easy one for Brittany.  Of course, in 2017, pretty babysitters have smart phones and don't only have to rely on UHF horror films for entertainment. Dylan has a smart phone in which she can still be connected to her boyfriend...or whoever is on the other end of the messaging stream.
No more of the plot, but "We Love Selfies" brings up a great questions for all of us in an age of texting and smart phones. Oh yes...there is a third major character in this short...Giggles (Barry Tangert). Yep, Giggles is no comedian, but an escaped serial killer who likes to...well...you'll see. Directed by Roger Glass, this 11 minute horror short will give you nightmares especially if you babysit. Fans of urban legends and 1980s slasher films will love the modern plot device inserted into those terrifying morality tales that keep us up at night clutching a flashlight.
For more information on "We Love Selfies" check out these links:
YouTube Trailer
We Love Selfies on Facebook
Twitter
We Love Selfies on LinkedIn

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Parallel, If you meet yourself...RUN!!!

Have you ever looked in a mirror and hated what you saw? Hence 2016's "Parallel." Do you remember that very deep scifi hit from 1969, "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun"? Terrific film that left you wanting more explanation as it abruptly ended.  Well "Parallel" is that elaboration. A word of warning, however, as many unanswered questions that are answered, this film may leave you with many more deeper queries. However fascinating the possibility of alternate universes are, perhaps this film is more about the potential of our own souls to sink to nefarious depths or rise to goodness, and what may trigger that voyage.
Aren't they cute?
Oh so cute! Neil (David Magowan) and Heather (Faye Sewell) meet at a party. The vulnerable Heather lets her guard down and the insecure but determined Neil hones in. The two bond and soon they move in together and engage in pre-marital sex. Uh oh...heaven forbid the lovebirds leave well-enough alone as they meet a strange but alluring old man in the park. Michalis (Brian Carter) is a medium, and guess what his gig is. Nope...no futures and no mind-reading. He can take you into a parallel existence and show you what you are up to in that alternate universe. Neil is skeptical but Heather is game.
You don't want to know what Heather is about to do.
Let us stop short of spoilers, but the other side is quite similar and quite different. The safe and satisfied Heather finds that her behavior, plight, and decision-making on the other side is colorful and risky...to say the least. Neil eventually dabbles in this alternate universe and what he discovers about himself is....well...you'll see. Guess what happens when our Romeo and Juliet see a side of themselves that might be possible but for different circumstances.  It won't be all seashells and balloons as both undergo major angst at who they could become. Are they repulsed?  Curious? Jealous of their twins?  You will gasp at the plight of these two (...or should I say these four).
Michalis takes them on a journey
Is Michalis legitimate or a skilled con-man? Is Heather's desire to see her alternate-self merely an admission of dissatisfaction with her safe existence? Shocking and thought provoking, "Parallel" will have you question your own psyche. I know...you are a good person...but is that written in stone? Or, are you merely a fiend just waiting for the opportunity to break out of your conformist shell? I know, we all have a dark side as Alexander Cooper (who acts and produces this film) reminds me. Most of us keep that dark side hidden, to some degree, but given the opportunity to set it free...would you? You'll be thinking about "Parallel" long after the end credits roll, and not all of that thought will be comfortable. See "Parallel," (directed by Ieva Makselyte) a terrific and provocative thriller.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Kiss of the Vampire, Blood Sucking Honeymoon

A Hammer Films vampire tale! No, not a Christopher Lee one. No Dracula and no Van Helsing in this one. Steaks through the heart? Not here. 1963's "The Kiss of the Vampire" is just a little different than most Hammer vampire films. Don't panic. We still have a ravishing damsel in much distress and a very charming and exotic vampire in an old castle. In fact, we have lots of handsome vampires and their very stunning vampire brides. Oh yes...bats! Oh, you'll love the bat carnage in this one.
Marianne gets dolled up for party
Honeymooners Gerald (Edward de Souza) and Marianne (Jennifer Daniel) break down on a remote country road. I guess the beach wasn't an exotic enough location for their honeymoon. The lovebirds check into the town's only inn, They are the only guests as vampires have pretty much scared everyone away. The gentlemanly Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman) is quite taken by Marianne's beauty and invites the newlyweds to his castle for dinner. Dr. Ravna charms them and has his vampire son, Carl (Barry Warren) performs his piano compositions for them. Marianne is almost hypnotized by the scores. Still trapped at the inn Gerald and Marianne accept an invite to Dr. Ravna's castle for a large gala.  The vampires are excited about these two as Dr. Ravna plans on changing Marianne at the party and his two babe vampire daughters, Tania (Isobel Black) and Sabena (Jacquie Wallis) will distract Gerald.
Gerald becomes Tania's dinner
The plan goes flawlessly and Gerald awakes back at his hotel. Only the weird Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans) is willing to help Gerald get his wife back. Zimmer's daughter was turned by Ravna many years ago and he has put together quite a plan to destroy his nemesis. As Gerald is content on charging the castle, which he does, Zimmer's plan is probably wiser, but has so many moving parts. As the beautiful Marianne falls further under Ravna's control, Gerald and Zimmer act.
Zimmer confronts Tania
Exactly what is Zimmer's plan to rid Europe of vampires? Will Gerald get Marianne back from the charming, but deadly, Ravna? If our newlyweds survive will they consult a travel agent for their next vacation? The final scenes are ambitious and carnage-filled. Directed by Don Sharp, "The Kiss of the Vampire" is a visually pleasing Hammer vampire film.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Black Sea, The Darkness Comes

Brian Padian, writer and director of 2015's "The Black Sea" told me that I might be disappointed in his film as it wasn't so much a horror movie but a dark existential drama. Perfect! My first thought was "..what's the difference?" Whether Jason or Freddie are coming after you, or the darkest elements of our own soul or some unseen, but present evil, both are fine with me. It looms, and it is getting closer...or has it been inside us all along?
A very un-existential description of our film would state that six friends at a beach house face awful truths after their friend Allison's (Corrina Repp) disappearance. Three couples plan a week-end getaway at an Oregon coast beach house. The wind is howling, waves are crashing, and the weather radio blurts out ominous storm forecasts. Yep...so many applicable metaphors. On the surface, which is a centimeter deep, our great looking couples look like normal people. Then again, who is normal among us? Charlotte (Erin McGarry) and Paul (Bill Sebastian) are the only married couple. Lainie (Cora Benesh) and Michael (Joe Von Appen) are an item, more like two locomotives rumbling toward each other on the same track than a pair of lovebirds. Then there is Allison, a dark artist, with doom oozing from her every pore. Her beau Eli (Matt Sipes), for a yet unknown reason has decided not to partake in the getaway...don't worry, he eventually shows.
Initially the unraveling is semi-harmless. Some bickering, hints of infidelity, and frustration at life. Uh oh! What did Paul just say? Is his sanity in question? His wife Charlotte, as beautiful as she first seems, may also have sanity problems. Then Allison goes missing. We'd think she just took off in a depressed state, but did something more sinister happen? Is someone a murderer? One of our gang exhibits some anti-social and violent tendencies.  The artist's diary doesn't present any cause for optimism, just more suspects in what may not even be a murder. Allison's disappearance brings out a very dark side of who these people really are.  As the storm nears, the film turns darker, and the fate of everyone one in this film starts to ooze the same doom which Allison was stricken with.
Allow me to be arrogant here. The ending?  Don't complain about it...just pay attention! Steeped with metaphor and symbolism, "The Black Sea" will unsettle you and quite possibly stick with you for a few days. A few years ago I recommended Kate Beckinsale's "Snow Angels" to a student of mine. She caught up with me a few days later and said "...thanks a lot, I saw it...now I need therapy." I'm not saying "The Black Sea" will drive you to a psychologist's couch, but may cause you to come to terms with your frustrations, disappointments, and fears.