Friday, June 24, 2011

Be Kind, Review: The VHS Reviews ~ The Dark (1993)

"It Will Consume You."

Synopsis: The story involves two men who are searching for the same thing: an ancient creature who lives beneath the surface of a graveyard and feeds on recently buried corpses. The first man (Stephen McHattie, 'Watchmen', 'A History of Violence') is a scientist who wants to capture the creature for its remarkable healing properties, believing that humans can benefit from it. The other man (Brion James, 'Blade Runner', 'The Fifth Element') is a former F.B.I. agent who is obsessed with killing the monster to avenge his partner, who years ago had been killed by the creature.

My Thoughts: A few weeks back on my podcast we reviewed a fairly unknown sci-fi/horror flick from 1979 called 'The Dark'. Well, here's an even lesser known sci-fi/horror movie called 'The Dark'. Made 14 years later (and no, it's not a remake), this Canadian creature feature stars a young Neve Campbell right before her 'Scream' & 'Party of Five' fame.

If you're in the mood for a good late night popcorn movie, you could do a lot worse than 'The Dark'. This low budget monster movie is without a doubt a homage to the creature features of the 50's. It's certainly no classic, but it does have a kind of b-movie charm (and a few funny moments) that keep it from getting boring.
The acting is just okay. Stephen McHattie who has shown off his great acting ability in other films (like 'Pontypool') is just average here. Maybe it was just me, but he seemed to be impersonating Lance Henriksen for some odd reason. The casting of Brion James was perfect in his usual tough guy role. Neve Campbell was a different story, but it was interesting to see her trying to play a cop. She couldn't have been much older than 18 or 19. I guess in a movie like this, what's the difference.
The make-up effects were much better than expected for a movie of this caliber. The creature, who tunneled around the cemetery looking for his next meal, was really creative. It looked like some kind of mutated rodent. The kills were pretty well done, although not much gore (after all, it was the 90's).
6 / 10
My Rating: 6 / 10

Not too bad for a 1990's low-budget Canadian horror flick. I'm surprised that this one was never released on DVD during the height of Neve Campbell's popularity (1998-2000). Since it wasn't, once again VHS is our only option. It was released by 'Imperial Entertainment Video' in 1994 and used copies are going for about 8 bucks on amazon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Episode #3 Is Here!


.......In episode #3, Jeff and Rich rundown the upcoming horror flicks that'll be hitting the theaters this year reviews of the 1976 drive-in classic 'Massacre at Central High' and the lesser-known slasher/comedy 'Evil Laugh'.

.Music by: Daniel Baldwin and The Cramps

                             the trailers!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stake Land (2010)

The most dangerous thing is to be alive.

Synopsis: Martin (Connor Paolo, 'World Trade Center', 'Camp Hell') was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities, and it's up to Mister (Nick Damici, 'Mulberry St.', 'World Trade Center'), a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden.

My Thoughts: It’s been a few years since director Jim Mickle’s last film, the ultra low budget ‘Mulberry Street’. You would think after such an impressive debut we would’ve heard from him again a lot sooner. Although far from perfect, ‘Mulberry St.’ showed Mickle’s true talent as a director.

In his second effort, Mickle kept the same group together, including co-writer/leading man Nick Damici and his talented cinematographer Ryan Samul. He also added a couple screen veterans this time around with Kelly McGillis ('Top Gun', 'Witness') and the extremely busy scream queen Danielle Harris ('Halloween 4/5', 'Chromeskull: Laid To Rest 2').

The strength of this film comes from the quality of the acting and the incredible camerawork, not so much from the story. I’m not saying I didn’t like the story because it did keep my interest, it was just nothing special. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in just about every other lower budget post-apocalyptic movie. One thing that I could’ve really done without was the depressing narrator. The narrating thing is played out already and when you add that to the film’s overly dramatic score. It was just overkill. We get it, everybody’s sad.

As far as the horror stuff goes …the gore was really well done and there was a good amount of it, something that Mickle’s first film was dearly missing (most likely due to a lack of funds). The fight scenes were top notch with a few nice kills. I also thought the zombie look of the vampires was pretty cool.

My Rating: 7 / 10

Overall, I’d have to say I wasn’t blown away by it, but it was another solid effort from Mickle and his crew. Worth a watch.

"click here to see the trailer"

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Cliff Hangers! (1979)

TV Series

I thought that this week I would take a break from my usual 'Be Kind, Rewind' reviews and give some love to the long-lost NBC series, 'Cliff Hangers!'. For those of you who have never heard of the show let me fill you in.

'Cliff Hangers!' was produced by Kenneth Johnson ('The Incredible Hulk', 'Six Million Dollar Man', 'V') and had a 10 week run on NBC in 1979 from Feb 27th to May 2nd. This terrific shortlived series attempted to revive the genre of movie serials in a made-for-TV format. Each hour-long episode was divided into three 15-minute segments featuring different storylines (a horror story, a mystery and a sci-fi/western hybrid). It's abrupt cancellation was based on two things. It had pretty low ratings, but this was mainly due to the fact that NBC never gave it a chance. They aired it on Tuesday nights opposite ABC's two power-house sitcoms 'Happy Days' and 'Laverne & Shirley', which were #1 & #2 in the ratings at the time. Also, because 'Cliff Hangers!' was three entirely separate shows, combined it wound up being the most expensive TV series to date.

My Rating: 8.5 / 10

The Curse of Dracula

starring: Michael Nouri ('The Hidden', 'Flashdance')
Stephen Johnson ('The Fury', 'S.O.B.')

Now living in California, Count Dracula (Nouri) is working as a college professor ...night school, of course. With his youthful appearance, suave demeanor, nice hair and job teaching European history, Drac doesn't have much trouble finding nubile young women to whom to deliver his bite. Still on his trail after all these years is the von Helsing family, now in the personage of Kurt von Helsing (Johnson), grandson of the original, and Mary Gibbons (Carol Baxter, 'A Chorus Line'), daughter of one of Dracula's victims.

Stop Susan Williams

starring: Susan Anton ('Cannonball Run II', 'Goldengirl')
Ray Walston ('My Favorite Martian', 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High')

News photographer Susan Williams (Anton) ventures all over the world on the trail of the conspirators responsible for her brother's murder and stumbles on a vast international conspiracy. Susan narrowly escapes death episode after episode.

The Secret Empire

starring: Geoffrey Scott ('The Morning After', 'Hulk [2003]')
Mark Lenard ('Star Trek: The Motion Picture')

In this homage to the cliffhanger serials of the '30s and '40s, 19th Century Wild West Marshal Jim Donner (Scott) stumbled upon a secret underground city known as Chimera while chasing a gang of robbers, 'The Phantom Riders'. Chimera is lorded over by an evil despot named Thorval (Lenard). Donner teams up with the resistance rebels in their effort to overthrow Thorval's cruel reign, while simultaneously investigating the gold robberies on the surface.

I really love the cheesiness of this series. I think if you just take it for what it is, a lot of you horror/sci-fi fans out there will enjoy it as well. I doubt we'll ever see an official release of this one. However, it's available for purchase at I'm not sure about the quality, but it is available. In the meantime, you should check out on youtube.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ The Hook Of Woodland Heights (1988)

"Mason Crane....The Perfect Guest For Thanksgiving Dinner, Carving Is His Specialty."

Synopsis: We begin this late-80's slasher with a couple of teenagers, Tommy (Michael Elyanow) and Katie (Christine McNamara), who drive off into the woods to make out ...well, Tommy's there to make out. Now we cut to the Woodland Penitentiary, where a mental patient/serial killer named Mason Crane (Robert W. Allen) is in the process of being transfered from one cell to another. Mason murders the three guards and quickly high tails it to the nearby forest, coincidentally in the exact same direction of our two pre-occupied teens. He finds a BBQ fork, bends it into a hook and jams it into the stump where he's missing a hand and the rest you'll have to see for yourself....

Come on, it's only a half-hour long.

...and it's free on youtube.

My Thoughts: I'm not sure if i'd say this falls into the 'so-bad-it's-good' category, but it definitely has it's share of WTF moments (like the 'clipboard kill'). The dialog and the acting are both pretty funny and the killer is fuckin' hilarious. It also includes some kick-ass 80's rock for all you over-the-hill metalheads out there. The short running time really saves it. If this was a full-length movie I doubt I could have even made it all the way through.

My Rating4 / 10

This was originally released on VHS in 1990 from Media House Productions with Michael Savino's other film, "Attack Of The Killer Refrigerator" (also on youtube). I noticed the creators of these forgotten horror-shorts are selling autographed copies on-line (now only available on dvd, of course) for the ridiculous price of $25. If you're up for a quick laugh, then check it out on youtube.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Hunter's Blood (1986)

"Out There, No One Hears You Scream"

Synopsis: Our story follows the father/son team of Mason and David Rand (Clu Gulager and Samuel Bottoms) as they head out to the Arkansas wilderness to do a little hunting with a few friends. After one of the hunters makes a wise crack to a waitress at a local bar, an altercation occurs with a group of backwoods inbreds (who of course don't take too kindly to city folk). The city boys win the fight, but not the war and the hunters soon become the hunted as their peaceful vacation turns into a fight for their lives.

My Thoughts: If we learn anything from this movie, it's that Clu Gulager ("Return of the Living Dead", "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2") is a bonafide badass. He basically plays the Burt Reynolds role from "Deliverance" (the film that this movie borrows the most from), but he does it like only Clu Gulager can. He's one cool motherf#%ker. The rest of the acting is average at best, besides a couple pretty good performances from Sam Bottoms (“Apocalypse Now”, "The Outlaw Josey Wales”) and the always creepy Billy Drago ("Vamp", "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.") who plays 'Snake', perhaps the craziest of all the rednecks.

The director (Robert C. Hughes, "Memorial Valley Massacre", "Zadar! Cow From Hell") does a great job in that he never tries to pretend that this is anything more than what it is ...a hillbilly exploitation movie. Because of that, the audience could just shut off their brains, sit back and enjoy a movie that could have just as easily been called, 'Attack of the Killer Rednecks'.
This movie has just the right amounts of action and cheesiness to make a good 80's exploitation movie. It's also probably a bit more of a slasher film than most of the other films of it's kind. I would say it's a cross between "Deliverance" and "Wrong Turn". It could've used some nudity and a little more gore, but I always seem to say that. Overall, "Hunter's Blood" makes for a fun hour and a half.
* note: This is Billy Bob Thorton's first role. The only problem is, if you blink you'll probably miss him.

My Rating: 8 / 10

Okay, maybe we've already seen this story a hundred times before, but I just can't help it ...I love me some crazy rednecks. This one's definitely worth a watch. Unfortunately, it still hasn't been officially released on DVD in the U.S., so VHS or bootlegs seem to be your only options (not that I condone the buying or selling of bootlegs). A used VHS copy will run you about $12 on I've also seen it up on youtube now and again.

"click here to see the trailer"

"click here for more reviews at"
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