Monday, August 31, 2015

The Devil of Kreuzberg, Love Cursed

Ah, Linda!  Sweet. Devoted. Loyal. But wait! Her last name is Karnstein!  You fans of Hammer horror films know what that means.  Linda is exotic, beautiful, and of course....cursed.  Today we look at 2015's "The Devil of Kreuzberg," a film from Germany and directed by Alexander Bakshaev. Atmospheric with a soundtrack from a Lucio Fulci horror film, after watching this film you will feel compelled to smear blood somewhere.
Absolutely devoted to Jakob (Ludwig Reuter), Linda (Sandra Bourdonnec) is 100 % in love. An author mired in a prolonged slump, Jakob appears to lead an imprisoned existence.  He isn't as into Linda as Linda is into him.  In Jakob, Linda has, what she believes, a key into the world of light.  In Linda, Jakob believes death awaits.  Enter Kurt (Suleyman Yuceer). Kurt and Jakob are best friends. These two perhaps should be more than friends, but the conventions of western civilization dictate that they should just be good friends.  Just as well. Kurt is problematic.  He pays off his debts to gangsters by performing hits on those who don't pay debts.
Now fate knocks on the door.  Linda fights her destiny (...remember, she is a Karnstein). Jakob, sensing Linda is not quite mortal ( many of us are?) turns to his assassin friend.  Kurt, a very sensitive assassin, fights the path he is going down...but his best friend has asked a favor.  This will all play out in spooky cemetery scenes, a pursuit through a subway station with pseudo pagan designs, and dark and damp streets of Berlin.  No spoilers here.
Fans of horror know not to date someone named Karnstein.  No doubt Jakob wasn't a horror writer. No matter...these three were brought together, we sense, by much more than free will.  This relatively short film (49 minutes) goes at a brisk pace and is always on edge. Very well acted and masterfully directed, "The Devil of Kreuzberg" souldn't be missed.  The ending will chill you, and perhaps keep you up at night fighting those same nightmares Jakob battled.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Inner Demons, as if Reality Shows weren't Scary Enough...

What is the worst that could happen during a reality show?  The babe says no to the hunk's proposal? The biological parents end up being jerks? Throw a demon possessed teenager into the mix and we might actually have a reality show we all would watch. When I say demon-possessed, I'm not talking about a sassy girl screaming obscenities...or throwing a Bible across the room.  Nope....I'm talking some really gory and homicidal stuff....all documented for TV. So let us examine 2014's "Inner Demons," a horror film directed by Seth Grossman.  Be warned, this will not be the feel good movie of 2015.
Carson (Lara Vosburgh) is (...or was) a beautiful and smart high school girl.  As a little girl, she memorized the Bible.  Now..she is addicted to heroin and pills.  Her parents are at their wits end and have tried everything.  But wait!  Like a knight in shining armor, the reality show "Step Inside Recovery" shows up.  The gimmick of this show is that they script out an intervention and get the subject into recovery..all in front of millions of viewers.  At first the intervention goes bad (...which is great for ratings).  Carson flies across the room and tries to shove a letter down her best friend McKee's ( Susan Ateh) throat.  Cooler heads prevail and the troubled youth agrees to check into rehab at the Hope Center.  Now the fun really starts.
Her recovery will be filmed.  Carson tries to be honest with Dr. Kordis (James Cragen).  This won't work.  See, Carson is possessed by a demon and the heroin is the only way to keep it under control. Unfortunately for the patients and staff, when the drugs are weaned from her system...the demon becomes stronger.  Oh yes....the poor schmuck Jason (Morgan McClellan).  He is the camera man who falls in love with Carson....and the only one who believes her. As the demon gets stronger, it gets bolder.  Carson shrieks in Latin, knows secret dirt on the other patients, and reacts violently to holy water slipped into her drink.  The demonic horror in this film cascades and becomes quite shocking.  How powerful has the demon become?  Is Jason due to be it's victim? What secret does McKee hold that could provide a cure?  All those questions will be answered but beware....the truth will not set you free.
I am trying really hard to refrain from throwing spoilers at you.  I will say that this is a dark film and when you believe a tender moment, or a sweet exchange has occurred...well...get ready for shock and gore.  The ending will leave you agape, momentarily asking what just happened .  Available on Netflix, "Inner Demons" will give you nightmares and cause you to sleep with an eye wide open.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, Grab a Fosters and a Shotgun

"This morning I shot my wife and child with a nail gun, I don't know how to make that into a story." Yep...this quote early on from Barry (Jay Gallagher) sets forth a terrific...and different...zombie film. From Australia, director Kiah Roache-Turner gives us some really neat characters and some decadent carnage, plus some reminders of "Mad Max," for 2014's "Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead." In the "Mad Max" films, petrol is the lifeblood.  In "Wyrmwood," the lifeblood is the petrol.
Practically overnight most of Australia becomes flesh-eating zombies.  Nail-gun equipped carpenter, Barry,  is forced to put his family down as he sets out to rescue his sister, Brooke (Bianca Bradey, who is simply fabulous in this). Brooke has her own problems.  After the models in her goth shoot try to eat her, she is rescued by gas-mask wearing soldiers.  Rescue may not be the correct word as she is chained in a lab and experimented on by a mad scientist (Berynn Schwerdt).  As the evil doctor injects her with zombie blood as she shares her imprisonment with some of the undead, Barry makes his way to her.  On the way, Barry befriends Benny (Leon Burchill), a philosophical aborigine, and Frank (Keith Agius). There will be others, but they won't make it.  
Meanwhile, our scientist is bent on turning the apparently immune Brooke into a zombie, but a certain side-effect manifests which our mad genius didn't count on.  The real scientific breakthroughs hail from Barry and his merry-men.  Petrol ceases to burn...hence motors stop running.  By accident, Barry learns that zombie blood is flammable...and will serve well for a post apocalyptic fuel.  In a bloody trek to find Brooke, twists abound at our devious lab.  Barry is intent on rescuing his sister, but the military unit and our doctor are bent on keeping her to continue their experiments.  Will Barry find his sister?  If he does, will she still be human?  However evil the experiments, will they lead to a cure for what is making Australians into zombies?
Perhaps comedic in some spots, "Wyrmwood" works well has a horror story.  There are enough twists and creativity to make this film opposed to so many stale zombie films of late. What happens to good people when forced to make un-godly decisions?  The answer isn't pretty, but our protagonist, Barry, is probably an accurate answer to that question. Available on Netflix, take in this unique zombie film as "The Walking Dead" enjoys it's summer hiatus.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sorority Row, Sisters 'til the End...Which is Imminent

Now this is a slasher classic!  2009's "Sorority Row" has lots of stunning actresses.  Most of them will die horrible and gory deaths at the hands of a caped fiend.  Girls in bikinis....girls in evening gowns...girls in PJs....girls in the shower....then on the shrink's couch carnage...dumbwaiter carnage....mine shaft carnage...tire-iron carnage...and more! Oh yes...throw in pre-marital sex, drinking, orgies, gratuitous shower scenes...and a shotgun wielding Carrie Fisher. For you women out there, each of these babes have hunk BFs....and most of them will die similar horrible deaths. Let us begin.
Meghan (Audrina Patridge) dies (...accidentally murdered) in a prank.  Her sorority sisters, led by Jessica (Leah Pipes) dump her body in a mine shaft. All have reputations to protect and vow the secrecy of sisterhood. Will Meghan stay in the mine-shaft? We'll see.  Cassidy (Briana Evigan) is against the cover-up, but her sultry sisters threaten to blame her for the murder if she goes to the cops. As our shallow and superficial sisters plan for their next orgy, they all begin receiving texts from Meghan's phone.  These texts are pics of the grisly death.  Unnerved, they continue planning their party, and bicker.  Unfortunately for them, the texts are followed by murder.  The girls start falling as the same tire iron which killed Meghan is back...retro-fitted with four blades.  
Uh oh!  Guess who suddenly shows up!  Meghan!  Not really, it is actually Meghan's sister, Maggie,who is a spitting image of the doomed Meghan.  The girls are spooked by this as it appears that Maggy has a malevolent purpose for dropping in.  Now Ellie (Rumer Willis) is losing it, and Jessica worries if she will spill their secret.  Claire (Jamie Chung) also realizes they should have gone to the police, but her fate (see picture below) will prevent that.  Now, as the girls host a major post-graduation party, an uninvited visitor wielding the aforementioned tire-iron (see above picture) arrives.  Fire, explosions, Molotov cocktails, axes, flare guns, shotguns, and a spunky Briana Evigan will rule the last 30 minutes of this film.
The sexier the girl, the gorier the death.  Will Jessica, the biggest b***h have the most colorful death? Will the tenets of sisterhood go out the window as our babes begin to panic?  What about Meghan...will she reappear before the end of the film?  You can probably guess at the answers to those questions.  Available on Netflix, for lots of gratuity and exploitation, see "Sorority Row."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Scourge, A Sappy Love Story with a Slimy Parasite

We don't discuss enough cute, boy meets girl stories on this blog.  Today we will rectify that discrepancy by examining 2008's "Scourge."  Why not include a lovelorn young lady who is into scrapbooking and cheesy jewelry into our modern horror stories. Like many a romance novel, we will throw in a hunk, misunderstood by everyone else, and together, boy and girl will fall for each other. Even without a slimy, tentacled, and toothy parasite, we have a story that will appeal to us all.  Well, perhaps I exaggerate.
Scott (Nic Rhind), a hunk, rides back into town on his motorcycle.  His first stop?  Jesse (Robyn Ledoux), a really cute young lady, is happy to see her old flame.  Uh oh!  Though Scott falls instantly for, the now all grown up, Jesse, he has a date with the sultry Lydia.  Fortunately for Jesse, a chain of events begins which will have Lydia (Marina Pasqua) infected by a slimy, monstrous parasite, and dead before the day is out. old church has burned down.  Unbeknownst to anyone, kept in the bowels of the old house of worship is a creature that likes to take over bodies, use them, discard them, and find another host.  Unfortunately for Scott, the first few corpses found, in very bloody fashion,  just happen to be people he has motives to kill.  Now Scott is on the run, and the only one who believes his innocence is Jesse.  
The creature goes through townspeople like lice through a public school.  As Scott and Jesse fall in love, people in Scott's vicinity keep dropping.  Jesse uses her brains and conducts an investigation in order to uncover the true history and nature of our monster.  Now on the offensive, Jesse tries to prove Scott's innocence and concoct a method to kill her nemesis.  Some clever CGI and spurting gore will make this a love story you might want to view.
The acting is good, and the monster is menacing.  Don't worry...whenever this appears to tilt too heavily into a romance novel type of plot, a blood soaked, parasite infested victim buys the farm in most gory fashion.  Available on Netflix, treat yourself to a film, beautifully shot in British Columbia, "Scourge."

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Dunwich Horror, H.P. Lovecraft, Roger Corman, and the Necronomicon

As the drug culture of the 1960s stopped shocking people, the 1970s needed something to unnerve society.  Satanism and the occult would surface as a trendy menace, though it would soon bore the same society it originally frightened.  Perfect for this new menace, an author who lived several decades earlier, H.P. Lovecraft and his literary invention, The Necronomicon.  Despite being a creation of Lovecraft's, The Necronomicon was in the card catalog at many university libraries (...though always overdue or missing)  and was the fancy of those who professed occult philosophies. Hence today's film, 1970's, "The Dunwich Horror," from executive producer Roger Corman.
Nancy (Sandra Dee, who spends half this film in a state or orgasm) falls for creepy Wilbur (Dean Stockwell, still making amends for "The Boy With Green Hair").  Wilbur is a student of the occult and desires to study the Necronomicon, kept in the university library.  Wilbur, the last descendant of an occultic family, has plans for the beautiful and vulnerable Nancy, and easily puts her in a trance and brings her back to his home.  Nancy's boss, Professor Armitage (Ed Begley) and her beautiful friend, Elizabeth (Donna Baccala, pictured above right) will attempt to get her back, with no success.  In fact, Elizabeth will be raped and mutilated by a tentacled monster as a reward for her efforts.  Wilbur gets down to business and immediately turns Nancy into a vessel for sex.  Most of the carnal relations are on an altar at the ruins of weird temple (...we've all been there, done that...).
Nancy is aroused by the sexual relations and is totally under Wilbur's power.  Meanwhile, a monster locked in Wilbur's closet (the same one that feasts on Elizabeth) busts out of its captivity.  Professor Armitage, also an expert on the Necronomicon, figures out what Wilbur is up to.  Wilbur will use the Necronomicon to bring creatures from another dimension to Earth, and those creatures will wipe out mankind.  Exactly what is Nancy's destiny in this plan?   Professor Armitage and the town doctor (Lloyd Bochner) rush to the altar to save Nancy and mankind....but is it too late?  Remember, this is a Roger Corman film, so Nancy's fate may not be a surprise to you.
A cool monster, an erotic performance by Sandra Dee, lots of orgasms, and an overly dramatic musical score will make your day while watching "The Dunwich Horror."  Cheap special effects act only to enhance this B movie in our eyes.  Ominous and serious at times, playful and campy at times, this film will surely entertain.  Available on Netflix. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Undertaker and His Pals, Delicious Women on Special

This 63 minute film originally was a lot longer.  The 1960s lack of tolerance for blood on the silver screen demanded several minutes showing actual surgery footage be removed.  Don't fret, we do get to see some in 1966's "The Undertaker and His Pals."  A very black comedy with a cool mixture of lame-brain humor and gory kills of very shapely women entertain you for more than an hour.
As the film begins a motorcycle gang busts into the beautiful Sally Lamb's (Karen Ciral) apartment, knife her to death, and cut off her legs.  The next day at the local greasy spoon, Spike and Doc (Marty Friedman and Rick Cooper) serve up leg of lamb as their special. guessed it!  Playboy, Harry Glass (James Westmoreland) and his glamorous secretary, Ann (Sally Frei) come in for dinner, but insult the chef, hurting the feelings of Spike and Doc. Needing more food to serve, the gang tracks down the scantily clad Ann at her apartment and kill her in gory fashion.  For what?  Let's just say that the special the next day will be breast of chicken.  Enter the undertaker (Ray Dannis).  He does Ann's funeral home services.  Unfortunately for Ann..because Harry won't pay much, the undertaker does not use foam rubber where Ann's.....well...never mind.
The undertaker and the greasy spoon cronies have an arrangement. They butcher babes and split the corpses.  The undertaker has funeral fees and the others get free meat to serve to hungry patrons.  Harry gets personally involved when a sultry replacement for Ann arrives.  Friday (Warrene Ott). She doesn't last long as Spike and Doc abduct her, operate on her when she is alive (we see most of her organs) and put her in the meat grinder for tomorrow's  As the cops gather more clues, they close in.  Our gang starts making mistakes and Friday's radiant sister, Thursday (also played by Ott) starts snooping as well.  Thursday proves more of a challenge to the gang, and her spunk completely throws the undertaker and his pals.  Will Thursday's spunk be neutralized by the three fiends on motorcycles?  Will adversity test the cohesiveness of this monstrous trio?
This is a fun movie, but not for the squeamish.  Hatchets in foreheads, severed limbs, meat-grinder carnage, abdominal organs being fondled, and lots more gore await your viewing.  Perhaps in 1966 this film was far fetched, but as crazy as our country has gotten, we may see a news story soon mirroring the plot of "The Undertakers and His Pals."  Available on YouTube.

Monday, August 17, 2015

In Fear, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to..

....the concert!  Funny is not the word.  Horrifying is a better word.  2013's "In Fear" will end suddenly and you'll be saying, "What happened!" Don't try to figure this movie out before you watch the end credits, as Alice Englert, the star of this film, will perform the closing score, "Conversation with Death."  Listen to the lyrics, and pay lots of attention to the first five minutes of "In Fear" and you will have a pretty good idea of what happened.
Tom (Iain De Caestecker) asks Lucy (Englert) to accompany him to a concert in Ireland.  This cute couple have known each other for two weeks but seem very sweet.  They stop off at a pub in the opening scene, and what happens at the pub will be a mystery that will haunt them, and the viewer, for the rest of the film,  Tom is a smooth operator and convinces Lucy to stay at a quaint hotel with him that night.  Her options are limited, and Tom does seem really nice (...just wait), so she agrees. Our protagonists find a guide to lead them to the hotel, but they are dumped off in a maize of narrow roads and misguiding signs.  They drive for what feels like hours, and only end up going in circles.  Both begin to unhinge and early stages of panic creep into their psyches.  No longer a cute couple, but a bickering duo.
Lucy believes she sees a figure stalking them, but Tom doesn't believe her.  They argue and begin pulling away from each other as Lucy questions Tom's honesty and motivations. Then the stalker appears, attempting to drag Lucy away.  Tom saves her and the two speed away nearly killing Max (Allen Leech), who is on the road.  At first Max appears to be a victim of whatever evil is controlling fate, but it doesn't take long for Tom, Lucy, and us to realize Max is the antagonist. Max' manipulations of Tom and Lucy drive them apart even more and unsettle them further.  Then Max' deeds become horrific and deadly.  Lucy and Tom continue to unravel....but will they rebound?  What did Tom do that may have brought on this torment?  Does Lucy have any fight in her?  I won't deliver any spoilers, but this film will have you thinking long after Ms. Englert concludes her haunting ballad at the finish of "In Fear."
I finished watching this film about 30 minutes ago and there are three possible explanations, in my mind, for the ending.  All of them horrific.  Again, not the feel good film of the millennium, but perhaps a poignant fable of the impossibility of escaping our past.  Directed masterfully by Jeremy Lovering and filmed in Cornwall and Devon, see "In Fear." Available on Netflix, let "In Fear" serve as a warning to all you young people...."Two weeks is not enough time to know somebody!"

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Awaken, Tropical Holiday and Organ Harvesting

You venture to Beliz, or South, drink, party....then see a doctor about a tummy anomaly....and wake missing a kidney.  The price of a cheap vacation.  As long as the tequila is good, no problem.  But what if you don't want to donate a kidney?  Hence 2015's "Awaken." Natalie Burn doesn't just star in "Awaken," she also helped write it, served as it's casting director, and sang the closing score.  All three she did with perfection. Ukrainian born beauty, Ms. Burn assembled a fine cast to include Vinnie Jones, Christa Campbell (a favorite of this blog), Robert Davi, Edward Furlong, Daryl Hannah, and David name just a few.  Lots of shooting, carnage, and fighting, and a fair amount of gore highlight this very well made thriller.
Billie (Burn) wakes on a mysterious tropical island.  She meets up with with a half dozen similarly situated schmucks, and none of them know why they are there.  Uh oh, every few days a team of commandos arrives and captures one of them...and that poor schmuck will never be seen again.  Billie's arrival on the island occurred after she combed a third world hell-hole in search of her sister, who turned up missing five years ago.  As her fellow "prisoners" try to survive, Billie plots escape....and vengeance.  Billy enlists Nick (Michael Copon) and Stitch (Daz Crawford) and together they work on taking the fight to their tormentors.  Meanwhile, the weaker and more timid of them, led by Quentin (Robert Davi), stay on the defensive.  Our trio will endure initial setbacks until they begin outsmarting the mysterious commandos led by Sarge (Vinnie Jones).
After a raid yields gory results for the beautiful Chloe (Angie Duke), Billie and her pals turn commando themselves and plot an attack on their tormentors.  Uh oh...betrayals, sharks, and a small army stand in their way.  Meanwhile, we meet Rich (Jason London) and his beautiful aide, Kat (Christa Campbell).  They harvest organs and sell them to billionaires.  Arriving at their compound is Mao (Daryl Hannah) who needs a liver for her young daughter.  She wants Billie's.  As fate would have it, Billie is on her way, and not in a giving mood.  No spoilers here.  More plot twists, and lots of fighting, guns, knives, and organ harvesting gore will ensue.  Will Billie's spunk, and her two ill-equipped buddies be able to defeat a well armed commando unit?  Will she find her sister?  Will the psycho Mao allow her to succeed, as Billie's success will spell doom for Mao's daughter?
Ms. Burn is fantastic and displays brilliant judo skills in this action-fest. Do not turn this film off before the end credits roll as her rendition of "Awaken" is magnificent.  Shot in L.A. and Beliz, the scenery is awesome.  This DVD is reasonably priced on

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mutiny in Outer Space, Killer Fauna Chasing Space Damsels

A perfect combo!  Heroic astronauts, beautiful space-damsels, and an alien moss determined to take over a space station are included in 1965's "Mutiny in Outer Space."  This sleeper is very well acted and written with plenty of horror and red-hot romance. Set in the 1990s and containing some steamy lip-locks between the stars William Leslie and Dolores Faith, this film will have you screaming one moment and looking for a cold shower the next.
Returning to Earth from some space exploration, Major Gordon Towers (Leslie) and Cpt. Webber (Carl Crow) stop off at a space station with some samples of moon fauna from a lunar ice cave.  They are guided in by the beautiful Lt. Connie Engstrom (Pamela Curran).  This space-babe has her sights on the station commander, Col. Cromwell (Richard Garland).  Uh oh, Cpt. Webber has an annoying itch..little does he know, a lunar moss has infected him.  Maj. Towers has a sultry main squeeze waiting for him on the space station, Faith Montaine (Faith).  Faith is the bio-chemist on the station and waits for Towers in his bed chamber. As the two get down to business, they are interrupted. Cpt. Webber has collapsed, and is being overtaken by a strange moss.  Dr. Hoffman (James Dobson) and Lt .Engstrom get him to sick bay, but Col. Cromwell denies anything weird is occurring.  Cromwell is obviously sick, a la Cpt. Queeg, and fears his station will be quarantined.  
Sensing Towers will disagree with his command decisions, Cromwell orders all communications with Earth to stop and for Towers to be confined to his cabin.  Towers tries to take command, but a meteor shower wounds the station causing moss to grow out of control.  As Cpt. Webber dies and the moss chases Faith, daring plans are formulated, but will it be too late?  With more of the crew infected, and Cromwell insane, Towers must escape his confinement, save Faith, kiss her some more, and hatch a scheme to repel the moss.  
The space-men are hunks and the space-women are statuesque in this effective sci-fi thriller.  Suspenseful, steamy, and quick-paced, you will forget that this film is low-budget.  Treat yourself to a wild space ride and find "Mutiny in Outer Space" on YouTube.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Big Bad, Werewolves do Long Island

We always knew there was something about Long Island.  More like Connecticut than New York, the Islanders have a bit of an identity crisis. What's more, half the island is probably a lycanthrope. Today we look at 2011's "The Big Bad."  Written and starring Jessi Gotta, this film is dark, eerie, and a bit spunky.  Directed by Bryan Enk, this horror film is definitely a bit different, and at times unmerciful.  So say goodbye to the New York Islanders you Long Islanders, and say hello to the werewolves.
Frankie (Gotta) has lost everything..and everyone.  It appears as if she wants revenge as she searches for the elusive Fenton (Timothy McCown Reynolds).  In her quest, she steps into a seedy bar where she meets Molly (Jessica Savage).  Molly is a pathetic creature, hardened by horrific experiences.  Frankie knows Molly has knowledge of Fenton, as Molly has a neck wound.  The two women both sport still bleeding bite wounds.  Being bitten by a werewolf has some deadly side-effects, and Molly's short term future will prove hairy.  Whatever bond Frankie and Molly developed will end dreadfully when Molly turns.  Uh oh...some secret cabal abducts Frankie and brings her to the mysterious Annabelle (Alan Rowe Kelly).  Annabelle also has a score to settle with Fenton and believes Frankie can lead her to him. Without giving spoilers, her stay at this compound will prove quite gory and will have you turning your head.
Alas, Frankie is no longer human, and she escapes in icky fashion.  Now on to her original quest...find Fenton, which she does.  The woman Frankie wanted blood, but she is no longer a woman.  The lycan Frankie....well she wants blood and something else which might be impossible. The two have a very philosophical meeting which will result in a significant body count.  Now changed, and a servant of the full moon, will Frankie alter her tune about revenge?
For those of you who like horrific endings to your horror opposed to the "live happily ever after" model..."The Big Bad" is for you.  Ms. Gotta is superb in her acting and writing for this film, and I believe will remind some of Katharine Isabelle, at times.  Available on Netflix, do not miss this sleeper.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Literature Review #14: Sex Sells

Teenage sexploitation from our adolescent years....fine memories.  "Risky Business," "Porky's," and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" are just a few examples of films that decades later are still fresh on our minds.  We may not bring it up in mixed company but what guy doesn't remember the awkwardness and allure of that scene with  Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates from the latter mentioned classic? Awkwardness and allure!  However juvenile those films were, they were aimed at the most awkward members of our society....teens. Pimply faced, voice cracking, easily embarrassed categorized many teens.  So let us examine a screenplay that, on the surface, fits in with these teen comedies...."Sex Sells" by Brandon M. Wyse.
To delve into the plot of "Sex Sells" risks betraying a deeper meaning which this work is.  Ben and Marvin are awkward virgins and high school class mates.  Ben is deep into porn and Marvin may forever live in a world of awkwardness, as he has Asperger's Syndrome.  The two have a bond which is explained later in the story.  Most of their interactions centers around sex.  Then a new student arrives, Mikalyn (I picture her as Phoebe Cates).  She is the most beautiful girl either of our boys has ever seen.  Running away from her own demons, Mikalyn starts hanging with Ben and Marvin.  Unable to deal with the sexiest being they've ever seen, Ben and Marvin keep their talk centered around sex.  They are in for a shock.....Mikalyn is a virgin.
Uh oh!  Marvin's mom squandered his college savings.  The three are devastated as college is in all their futures.  As Marvin and Ben look at Mikalyn as life boat survivors look at the survivor they are about to eat, she is surprisingly amenable to the obvious fix.  The three agree to auction off their virginity on-line.  Enough of the plot.  Interspersed with apparent teen sex comedy are some very real indications that something heavier and more meaningful is ready to take control. In Mr. Wyse's tale, virginity isn't looked at as a curse, but is described as a gift and something not to be cavalier about. However shallow our trio might seem in a plot description, their caring, sensitivity, and proclivity to choose good over evil is always bubbling to the surface.
However crude Ben, Marvin, and Mikalyn may appear at times, the fact that they have chosen each other as friends displays they are deeper than their peers' expectations.  With a crass plan cascading through the pages, will our trio allow their moral compasses to interfere?  Kudos to Mr. Wyse for his portrayal of Marvin.  Marvin,with his Asperger's Syndrome, emerges as a kind, intelligent, and heroic figure.  We were 16 many years ago, and sexual conquest was what we wanted to see in our teen comedies.  Now we're.....well....older, and we are in suspense as we plead for maturity and some semblance of morality to win out.  In that sense, perhaps "Sex Sells"  is a suspense drama disguised as a sex comedy.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Creature From the Black Lagoon, My Favorite Movie

Technically a B movie, "Creature From the Black Lagoon" (1954) is known as one of the greatest monster films ever.  Last March I attended Monsterpalooza in Burbank, California.  Lots of celebrities were there to sign autographs...but I only wanted one.  Julie Adams!  Ms. Adams played the beautiful swimming biologist ( that white swimsuit).  She'll be 90 next year, but you'd never know it from meeting and talking with her.  After a short conversation, I purchased her book "The Lucky Southern Star," which she autographed with a nice inscription, and an autographed movie poster, also with a neat message inscribed.  She excelled in many movie roles other than CFBL, including westerns, and of course appeared in "General Hospital."  With some help from the best comic book artist in the world, Berk Balkac (all the artwork here is his), let us take a peek at one of the most fascinating films (...and this is a horror film) ever made.
 The question we all have, but never ask, is 'what was the creature intending to do with Kay (Adams)?' This question, which we all know the answer to, is a great reason why this film should never be remade.  A 2015 version of CFBL would undoubtedly delve into the creature's intentions.  In Roger Corman's "Humanoids From the Deep" (1980), the great movie maker obviously had our film in mind when beach babes were kidnapped by sea creatures know.  The purity of Kay (symbolized with the white swimsuit) should never betrayed by exploring this question on film. Perhaps Ms. Adams' character was the 1950s version of Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) in "King Kong."
Like the huge ape from the 1933 classic, our creature, the gill man, was not evil.  Lonely and misunderstood are fitting descriptors for our green friend. As the white swimsuit symbolized the purity of Kay and her intentions, the green, brought out so nicely by Mr. Balkac, symbolized nature and an organic existence.  Sure he killed...but only after his habitat was invaded by some very menacing figures with a mechanized boat and sharp weapons.  
Though saved, and reunited with her love interest, we the viewer understand that in the years to come, Kay will feel a sadness at the ultimate fate of her green admirer.  Though we were on the edge of our seats praying Kay would be rescued and unsoiled by the creature, when the gill-man sunk to the depths of the lagoon...a sadness came over us.  Why?  Maybe in the creature, we saw some of ourselves.  We all have secret desires for treasures we could never have.  Teenagers who would see this film in 1954 could relate to the outcast who would never get the cheerleader.
In Mr. Balkac's above sketch, the gill-man is wide-eyed.  Balkac correctly captured the awe of our creature as he first sets eyes on his goddess.  Unable to possess the intellect to worship, lust will guide his actions and basest emotions as he is drawn uncontrollably to Kay.  In one sense horrifying, in one sense cute, the attraction to Kay has a purity to it that perhaps escapes modern day male-female relationships.
"Creature From the Black Lagoon" has so much for us, and not just from a Freudian perspective.  Great acting, a neat monster, a classic Henry Mancini score, and shocking horror all contribute to cement this film's status as a classic.  May a remake never be made, "Creature From the Black Lagoon" deserves the respect of the ages.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Planet of Dinosaurs, Creatures Eating Space-Babes

If you are like me, the latest "Jurassic Park" film had absolutely nothing for you.  I know ...conventional logic is the JP franchise has something for the entire family.  We are told these movies are frightening (...I know, but some think these are scary movies).  We are told that they have comedic elements that will appeal to young and old alike.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  I find these JP films annoying, preachy, and boring.  The CGI heavy monster movie, which throws annoying characters at us has as much creativity and uniqueness as Disney World.  You can have it.  For some real dinosaur fun, let us look at 1977's "Planet of Dinosaurs."  Space-Babes, grouchy hunks, lots of creatures, and all out war between humans and beasts, this 1970s campy feature is perfect summer time fun.
A crash landing dumps five hunks and four space-babes into a lake on an alien world.  The astral castaways swim to shore, but the beautiful Cindy (Mary Appleseth) decides to strip to her bra and panties (see picture above) and go for a swim.  She is eaten by a gator creature right away.  The survivors plunge inland and realize they are on a world dominated by dinosaurs.  Lee (Louie relation to Lucy) is the leader, but no one respects him.  He always wants to run from the creatures, but everyone else, including the babes, want to fight them and hunt them.  Nyla (Pamela Bottaro) was thinking of romancing him, but Lee's cowardice and indecision causes her to start to romance the brute, Jim (James Whitworth).  Jim grunts where Lee whimpers.  Jim wants to kill, Lee wants to compromise with the new environment. Nyla wants a real man. 
When Nyla is attacked by a monster spider, it is Jim who saves her.  Under Lee's command, the monsters continue to look at the survivors as a buffet.  Everyone, except Lee, learns how to man-up, even the resident skank, Derna (Derna Wylde).  Group cohesiveness begins to crumble.  Lee's rank is losing its luster, and our group starts making weapons.  The space-babes begin selecting their men, and Lee looks like the odd man out.  After the very shapely Derna goes down fighting to a T-Rex, and Charlotte (Charlotte Speer), the shapely nurse, is attacked by a raptor, our group makes a momentous decision.
Will Lee regain the respect of our castaways?  Will the real men of the crew and the space-babes get together and propel the human race on this alien world?  History shows that in 1977 America was looked at as a wimpish nation.  President Carter did nothing to show the world that America would stand up for freedom.  Then..."Planet of Dinosaurs" comes out showing that men can still be men and women can still be space-babes...and America was good again.  Available on YouTube, see "Planet of Dinosaurs" and ignore the latest "Jurassic Park" bore.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Plague, Don't Marry a Wuss

Australians have a way of slipping in some weird social commentary in their horror.  So, in a tale where a plague spreads through kangaroo land, and survivors must battle the infected...and each other, this horror story from Down Under implores young women to choose their spouse carefully. So to you young women out there....DON'T MARRY A WUSS!  Hence, 2015's "Plague."
A plague has hit, turning most of mankind into homicidal lunatics (a la "28 Days Later").  Evie (Tegan Crowley) is holed up in a shack deep in the Australian country, with about five companions.  Evie wants to stay as she believes her husband will find them.  The others want to leave, as there is no way Evie's husband could have survived.  After some carnage and infighting, Evie stays and her companions go....they won't get far.  Miracle...her husband, John (Scott Marcus) arrives.  He is a dweeb (wuss).  A social science type professor, completely ill-equipped to handle an apocalypse.  That is most unfortunate because a real man arrives, Charlie ( Steven Jianai).  Yep...John has asthma attacks...Charlie has a truck.  John cries...Charlie hunts. John complains...Charlie gets things done.
One small problem...Charlie is a psycho.  When John has a near fatal asthma attack, he demands Evie give him sex in exchange for him going to town to look for medicine.  Oh yes...don't even ask what Charlie is carrying around in the back of his truck.  As Charlie gets more aggressive and rapes Evie, John just whimpers and cries.  But wait!  There is hope. Jet fighters are seen in the sky...might there be a safe zone?  Before that can be realized, Charlie believes Evie is his and figures on getting rid of John.  Will John man up and fight for his woman?  
I won't spoil the ending, but let us just say that this is a pretty average film until the final five minutes...then...well, you'll see.  Whatever the themes of the apocalypse, what we learn from this film is that women do not want wusses in their men. In an age where most men seem to be less than heroic, here comes a warning from an Australian horror film.  Kudos to directors Nick Kozakis and Kosta Ouzas for giving us something a little bit different.  Available on Netflix.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Almost Mercy, Mass Murder and Twisted Teens

Sometimes we succeed at making our family and friends believe we are normal.  Then we goof!  Something we just can't help.  I myself fall into this trap, often.  We describe a movie we just watched.  As we get animated and inspired by a work of art from the horror genre, our companions are aghast.  They shake their heads and let us know how sick and twisted we are. Be warned, "Almost Mercy" from 2015, is a movie that will earn you that sick and twisted label.  For those of you who like dark, gory, horrific to the bone screamfests, "Almost Mercy" will satisfy your yearning for something repulsive, though it will not win you any friends.
The dread and evil which will prevail in this film permeate the viewing experience from the first minute.  Emily (Danielle Guldin) and Jackson (Jesse Dufault) are doomed outcasts in a Rhode Island town.  They don't fit in, and are considered bottom feeders by their classmates and teachers.  Always bullied and teased, the two become friends.  Rejected by upstanding society, Emily and Jackson have also been victimized by that society.  Both our anti-heroes will be raped, beat up, and humiliated. When one of the bullies is killed in a murder-suicide, Emily remarks, " less a**hole in the world."  We sense where these two are headed, but if we are honest with ourselves.....we are on their side (perhaps that is what makes this story most horrifying).
We meet the scum who torment our duo.  Kane Hodder plays the high school gym teacher who has always desired to get into Emily's pants.  Sanity will not rule the day, and Jackson begins to act on his very taboo plan.  No spoilers here, but everything in this Tom DeNucci directed film is designed to make you uncomfortable, including the affection you will develop for Emily and Jackson. Uh oh....Jackson has amassed enough firearms to supply a third world nation.  We know Jackson's plan before he relates it to Emily, and it is on a grand scale....think Columbine.  The final 30 minutes of this film will be even more difficult to watch than the first hour.  Gore and vengeance (...disguised as revenge) will rule the day.  No good guys here, but you will take sides.
Whatever horror spurts onto the screen, the fact that Emily says and thinks a lot of stuff that we ourselves thought (...but never dared to say) when we were children, might be the real horror. Hard core horror fans, not looking for the feel-good film of the millennium, will love "Almost Mercy." Others....well, let's us just say that Tom DeNucci ("Self Storage") didn't mind crossing the line (...which is why we love his work).  Available on Netflix.