Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Gate (1987)

"...Pray It's Not Too Late!"

Synopsis: Glen (Stephen Dorff) and his best friend, Terry (Louis Tripp), find that a gate to hell has opened when a rotten tree is removed from the backyard of Glen's house. When his dog dies and a friend of Glen's sister, Alexandra (Christa Denton), buries the animal in the hole, demons from an ancient civilization are released, seeking two human sacrifices to dominate the world. Glen, Al and Terry, who are spending the weekend alone in the house, fight to save their lives and close the gate.

My Thoughts: They just don't make'em like they used to. That's the first thing that came to mind after revisiting 'The Gate' after so many years. It could be just the nostalgia or maybe it's the beer, but I still really enjoyed this movie.

Since this movie's a part of my childhood it's hard to be 100% objective when rating it, so take that into consideration. I admit you don't get a lot of scary moments in this one, but it's still a really fun PG-13 horror flick. It's sort of a cross between the Goonies and the Ghoulies.

The story is fairly original and the director did a great job developing the characters, while keeping up the pace of the film. The acting was decent enough, especially considering the age of the main cast. We did get a little 80's cheeziness, but that's a big part of it's charm.

I also kinda dug the 80's style special effects. One image from this movie that always stuck with me was the scene where the zombie falls face first and explodes into a dozen little demon dudes. I was waiting for it and it didn't disappoint me. It was still as awesome as I remembered. Good stuff.

My Rating: 7.5 / 10

Overall ...if you haven't seen it, go rent it. If you collect 80's horror movies (or any horror movies), then buy it.

* a side note: After making this film, the director, Tibor Takacs, was offered the job to direct 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master', but declined because he wasn't given enough time to prepare his effects. New Line went on to hire Renny Harlin in his place and then delayed shooting by several months anyway. The good news is Takacs chose 'I, Madman' for his next project ...and that movie kicks ass.

* another side note: Actor turned director Alex Winter (a.k.a. Bill S. Preston, Esq.) has been claiming for years that a 3-D remake is in the works, but nothing has come of it. There were even rumors that Stephen Dorff was gonna be back to reprise his role as (a much older) Glen.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Devilfish (1984)

a.k.a. Shark: Rosso nell'oceano
"Sink Your Teeth Into Pure Terror"

Synopsis: Many questions arise when bodies begin to wash ashore along the Florida coast. Since the marks on the corpses don't lead to any known animal, scientist Dr. Stella Dickens (Valentine Monnier) suspects it's the work of an unknown life form and strives to catch it alive. It turns out, a group of scientists at the underwater-study institute have genetically created the 40 foot creature as a bio-weapon and it's been designed to reproduce by asexual means. She soon finds out that the company she works for is responsible and will stop at nothing to keep their secret from getting out.

My Thoughts: Originally titled 'Shark: Rosso nell'oceano' or 'Shark: Red on the Ocean', this long lost 'Jaws' rip-off from Lamberto Bava is a bit of a mess. I had no problem with the plot and the acting seemed passable, though it's really hard to tell with these English-dubbed Italian movies. The main thing that got under my skin was the terrible editing, something I have never noticed in other Bava films. I can only hope that this was just some bad American edit and the original film isn't as choppy. After all, different cuts of the film have been released in several countries under dozens of titles, such as 'Monster Shark' in Germany, 'Devouring Waves' in the U.K. and 'Jaws Attack 2' in Japan.

In addition to the crappy editing, the scenes with the 'Devilfish' were not convincing at all. Actually, all of the fish scenes were totally cheesy (and not in a good way). Bava and his crew obviously had no idea how to shoot underwater, though I did enjoy some of the out of the water gore effects.

One of those most interesting things about watching this movie was picking out all of the stuff that has been copied (or stolen) from it in recent years. The obvious one is the creature itself. It's the f%#kin' Sharktopus! Come on Bava, sue those motherf%#kers. Shit, I would. You know come to think of it, just about every movie that the Sci-Fi channel makes is based on this plot. The other noticeable thing was a few of the kills were lifted by Alexandre Aja for his 2010 'Piranha' reboot, which would have been a nice tribute if anybody even remembered this film.

My Rating: 4 / 10

Bava followed up this forgettable killer fish flick with one of the greatest horror films of all-time, 'Demons'. You can go ahead an argue that fact, but you'd be wrong don't bother. Because he made 'Demons' (and even 'Demons 2', for that matter), we'll forgive him for this one.

I'd probably say unless you're really into those Sci-Fi channel killer fish movies, you should skip it. I would suggest watching anything else he put out in the 80's, like maybe 'A Blade in the Dark' or 'Delirium'. Plus, it's not available on DVD and used VHS copies are going for over $15 on amazon. If you're just looking for a laugh, check out the MST3K version on Netflix instant.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Frat House Massacre (2008)

"Rush Week just became Death Week!"

Synopsis: This twisted horror flick, by Alex Pucci (director of 2005's 'Camp Slaughter'), follows the lives of Sean (Chris Prangley) and his little brother, Bobby (Rane Jameson). Bobby just graduated from high school and was all set for college where he was to pledge his big bro's fraternity, Delta Iota Epsilon, when his van was struck by a drunk driver and he slipped into a coma. He remained comatose until the exact moment another tragedy struck back at the frat house, this time to his brother, Sean. After hearing of his brother's death, a fully recovered Bobby goes back to school and pledges his brother's old frat in order to find out the truth behind Sean's death and punish those responsible. Well, it doesn't take him long to put his plan into action by falsely befriending the guilty frat brothers, led by their psychotic president, Mark (Jon Fleming), who's into extremely demented hazing rituals and has no problem disposing of a few unwanted pledges (not to mention what he does to the co-eds).

My Thoughts: Going by the film's title and after watching the opening sequence, there was no doubt in my mind that this was gonna be a homage to the slasher films of the late 70's/early 80's. Well, it kinda is ...I guess? As the movie went on I got a sense that I was seeing something else, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. Then about 20 minutes in, it hit me. This is a 1970's exploitation movie! ...and not just an exploitation movie, but an exploitation-revenge movie (my favorite kind). This film comes as close to cloning the feel of a true exploitation film (without spoofing it) as I've ever seen. The two main reasons for it has to be the acting and dialog, which most of the time was dead on (for what I think the director was trying to accomplish).

I must admit, after the bloody scene at the beginning and the awesomely cheezy disco montage used during the opening titles, the film lags for a bit. After that, something just clicked and it completely grabbed my attention. I liked how the director changed directions during the film, so even though you knew who the killer was gonna be you had no idea what was coming next.

I thought this movie was really well cast and everyone fit their role, basically the assholes played great assholes. The gore was also well done. Of course, cheezy at times, but fitting with the aforementioned theme. I also have to give a thumbs up to the music. Getting Claudio Simonetti of the legendary band, Goblin ('Deep Red', 'Suspiria', 'Demons'), to score the film just adds the movie's effectiveness. One negative, while I liked the film's gratuitous nudity, I could have done with a lot less man ass how 'bout none.

My Rating; 8 / 10

I know most people will think this is complete garbage, but this movie isn't meant for those people. So I say, for lover's of old school movies like 'Massacre at Central High', 'Savage Streets' and 'Last House on the Left' ...this one's for you! A definite must see.

This film, made back in 2008, finally gets released on August 9th by Synapse films, but for those who can't wait you can pick up the director's cut dvd today from TLA releasing.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Livestock (2009)

"Sit Back and Feed..."

Synopsis: A mysterious cult, known as 'The Pack', decide to promote one of their most loyal and hardest working members, Victor Corsi (Fiore Leo). Just as everything seems to be going Victor's way, his out of control underlings, who are growing tired of the monotony that goes along with following Victor's orders, make a foolish decision that can seriously effect his new position with 'The Pack'.

  Meanwhile, two friends, Annabel (Johanna Gorton) and Tina (Christina C. Crawford) are getting ready for a big night. Annabel is preparing for a date with a guy she met recently online, while Tina has a meeting that she hopes will lead to a great career opportunity.

  On this night, the lives of these three people will collide and the truth behind Victor's secret organization will be revealed.

My Thoughts: With his first feature film, Christopher Di Nunzio shows some promise. The indie filmmaker serves as the film's writer, director and producer. His story, though not original, has it's share of suspenseful moments. It throws a mafia twist on something we've seen before, Peter Medak's 'The Washingtonians' from the 'Masters of Horror' series comes to mind.

  I think the film's biggest downfall is the inexperience of the cast. Besides Fiore Leo, who stands out in the lead role, the majority of the actors didn't seem qualified enough to handle what was needed from them. This really becomes a problem during the dialog scenes between the female leads. If this were the average slasher flick it would've been fine, but this film tried to pull off a lot of dramatic scenes that just weren't very believable.

  The film does wrap up nicely and I did really enjoy how they decided to let the blood fly. The gore was well done for a lower budget film and got pretty extreme in the last few scenes.

My Rating: 3.5 / 10

  I do give the director credit for trying to make more than just another hack'em up slasher. I would say that fans of indie horror might wanna give it a look. I'll be on the lookout for more from Mr. Di Nunzio in the future to see if he can step up his game.

  You can pick up a copy on DVD at

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)

a.k.a. 'Attack of the Phantoms'
"Music & Mayhem at Magic Mountain"

Synopsis: The title pretty much gives away the plot of this 1978 NBC Saturday night movie of the week. Fed up with his lack of appreciation at the amusement park that he helped build, Abner Devereaux (Anthony Zerbe, 'The Dead Zone') plans to take over the park by turning the members of 'Kiss' into some sort of androids during the bands weekend of concerts at Magic Mountain.

My Thoughts: There's really no point in going on any further with the description of this movie. It has to be seen to be believed. If there was a bad movie hall of fame, this film would be a lock to get inducted. It's been said that the members of 'Kiss' were so ashamed of this movie that no one around them was even allowed to talk about it for years after it's release. I guess after the pink mesh half-shirts they wore on stage during the late 80's and Gene Simmons playing the role of a killer transvestite in that John Stamos movie this wasn't so bad. Not to mention 'Gene Simmons Family Jewels'.

So many stories have popped up about the making of this movie that they could write a book about it. Hell who knows, they probably already have. Most of the stories involve Ace and Peter's drug use during the filming, which led to Peter's lines getting dubbed by someone else and Ace's lines being reduced to a couple of noises resembling Curly from the 3 Stooges.

I absolutely love this film. The fact that all of the actors (and so-called actors) played it straight, even though the plot was so utterly ridiculous, help make this one of the greatest bad movies of all-time. This movie really deserves way more than just a short review. I'm definitely gonna have to include it somewhere down the line in one of my podcasts, because I can talk about this movie for hours. If you haven't seen it you should get your hands on a copy and don't worry there's no need to be a 'Kiss' fan to enjoy this disaster.

An inferior version, renamed 'Attack of the Phantoms', was recut for a European theatrical release in 1979. For obvious marketing reasons, most of the original score was replaced by songs from the bands recently released 'solo albums'.

My Rating: 9 / 10

This is a must have for lovers of extremely bad and cheezy movies. The original TV version had a very limited release from 'Cheezy Flicks' in 2005. The DVD's were pulled from the shelves because of copyright infringements, but you can still find some copies for sale on for around $30. A 'Good Times Video' VHS copy will on run you about 6 or 7 bucks (used). If you're looking for both versions, 'Attack of the Phantoms' is included on the 'Kissology: Vol. 2' DVD boxset and will set you back around $30, but just over $10 for a used copy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Feed (2010)

"There Is An Afterlife...And You Don't Want It."

Synopsis: The story involves a popular TV reality series, 'Ghost Chasers', which is preparing to begin it's fourth season on the air. To kick off the new season they've decided to broadcast their first show live from a historic movie theater in Pennsylvania, 'The Brenway'. Although the theater's current owner only claims to have witnessed some minor scares since inheriting the haunted movie house, it doesn't take the 'Ghost Chasers' crew very long before they get way more than they bargained for.

My Thoughts: 'The Feed' is what everyone really wants to see when they turn on one of those ghost investigation shows on the sci-fi channel. Basically, you finally get to see some freakin' ghosts. I'm not at all a fan of those programs or reality shows in general, so why did actually enjoy this? I liked the way the film's creator, Steve Gibson, set up the film by adding a documentary of the Brenway theater. This not only gave you a real idea of why the hauntings were taking place, but also in a way turned the theater into the film's lead character. Not to mention, I've always been a big fan of horror movies that are filmed in old movie theaters.

What separates this movie from the tons of other reality show horror films out there? Probably the way they decided to go at the reality angle head on ...commercial breaks and all. Adding the commercials to the 'Ghost Chasers' broadcast helped give the film an even more realistic feel and also adding a little comic relief to the otherwise 100% serious horror flick. Lloyd Kaufman's cameo as the personal injury lawyer, J.D. Woodley, was genius.

As far as the acting goes, you get the normal hit and miss performances that you'd expect in a lower budget film. It never got to the point where it distracted me from the story, which is the movie's biggest strength. I was impressed by how well-written and detailed they were with the theater's history, especially with the documentary at the beginning of the film.

One of the film's problems, which is something that couldn't be helped, were the scenes which involved the ghosts. I guess it's kind of a catch-22 for the director. In a movie like this, one of the biggest complaints is that they never show the ghosts enough. Because of that, I won't complain about how (in my opinion) they showed the ghosts a bit too much and took away from the film's suspense. You can't please everyone.

My Rating: 7 / 10

Overall, I had a good time with this movie. With the use of some good writing and a few fresh ideas, they took a not so original premise and turned it into a fairly original horror film. If you're into ghost stories and/or reality shows, you'll definitely have a lot of fun with this one. The 2-disc DVD is loaded with extras, including a behind the scenes look at their trip to Troma studios and the filming of Lloyd Kaufman's cameo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



    For our fourth episode, we've conjured up the 'Ghoulies' and squared them off against their arch-rivals, the 'Critters' for an epic battle between the two most successful "Gremlins' rip-off franchises. Will the 'Ghoulies' send their sworn enemies right back to outer space or will the evil space porcupines drop them into the fiery pits of hell where they belong? You can be sure that the blood will fly as Horrorphilia's Much of Madness/More of Sin podcast presents... GHOULIES vs CRITTERS

...we also discuss Ryan Convery's independent zombie-comedy 'Mourning Wood' from Fat Foot Films.

Music by: W.A.S.P., The Bloodhound Gang & The Cramps

Listen to Episode #4 here or at :

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mourning Wood (2010)

"A Very Very Different Kind Of Zombie!"

Synopsis: The unveiling of Dr. Jacob Pendelton's newest product, ShamPube, becomes a blistering catastrophe when it transforms the Slutton residents into 'humping' zombies. Now, it's up to an infomercial king, a used car salesman, four friends, and an array of peculiar townsfolk to join forces and stop the invasion. Prepare for the rise of Mourning Wood!

My Thoughts: I've always thought that horror-comedies were the toughest of all the horror sub-genres to pull off effectively. A good one is so rare that when I hear of one being released I tend to avoid it until I'm told otherwise (e.g. 2009's 'Doghouse'). Well, producer/director Ryan Convery and his crew really got it done here. I hope this doesn't make me sound like a total douche-bottle, but this was as much fun as I've had watching a zombie flick since 'Shaun of the Dead'. Yeah, that sounded kinda lame. F*#k it, it's still true.

There's really something to be said about the comradery between these guys. The sarcastic wisecracks and insults were as funny as the scripted jokes. Those wisecracks that seem effortless take guys years to perfect, not to mention the nonchalant reactions by the insulted friends. Believe me, I can call some of my buds a f*#kin' dickhole in front of their Mom and they won't even bat an eye. As a guy, I can appreciate that and in this movie it really shows.

In the 'making of' segment on the DVD's special features, Ryan emphasizes that anyone can make a movie and to just go and do it. I agree with that, though not everybody can make a movie like this one. This is no doubt a low-budget movie, but it was made by some very talented people. It was shot and edited extremely well, not to mention the sound and music editing was incredible. Also, I can't remember the last time I watched a low budget flick that didn't require me to adjust the volume level at least a hundred times during the movie. There's also some totally badass claymation that fits in perfectly during the opening title sequence.

My Rating: 8.5 / 10

This Ridiculously Twisted Zombie Flick Is For Fans Of Perverted Toilet Humor Only! If you're easily offended this isn't for you. Otherwise, if you're one of the cool kids, then I highly recommend it. Without this film I might have never known that trees didn't have vaginas. Links for 'Fat Foot Films' as well as the official 'Mourning Wood' movie site are listed below. You can watch it online for 99 cents or purchase the DVD for $12.99 (free S/H).

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dahmer Vs. Gacy (2010)

"The Two Most Infamous Mass Murders Battle For Top Spot"

Synopsis: The plot involves a secret government lab that apparently even the president doesn't know about. The scientists are using the DNA from some of history's most infamous serial killers (Dahmer, Gacy, Ramirez, Manson, Speck, etc.) in order to create the ultimate killers. After Dahmer and Gacy escape, it's up to a guy named Ringo (Ford Austin), a drunken hillbilly who's being trained by God (played by Harland Williams) to save the day. So he hits the road to hunt down the two killers, but first has to deal with his own inner-demons as well as fight off a gang of ninjas and X-13, the ultimate serial killer.

My Thoughts: I really hate it when I sit through a movie as bad as 'Dahmer vs. Gacy', then find out that it won a best picture award at some film festival. Okay, it was only the 'Bare Bones International Film Festival' in Muskogee, Oklahoma ...but still, c'mon! What the f*#k were the other movies these poor bastards had to sit through?

This film seemed to try to copy a typical Troma movie. Unfortunately, it has none of the Troma charm. Yeah, I said it ...Troma charm. Horror-comedies are pretty tough to pull off, so I guess I'll give the film's creators some credit for the effort. I just would've liked to have seen a few more of the gags in this movie actually work. They sure tried enough of them.

And as if the horrible jokes weren't bad enough, the director didn't help things with his constant use of choppy close-up camera shots. It was like watching an annoying 90 minute music video. Also, they could have at least hired on a qualified make-up effects crew. Even a terrible horror flick can be saved (a least a little) with a couple of decent looking kills.

My Rating: 2.5 / 10

I know a lot of us horror fans see a title like 'Dahmer vs. Gacy' and no matter how hard we try not to, we wind up watching it anyway. I do it all the time. Learn from my mistakes. Avoid it.

"click here to see the trailer"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Berserker (1987)

a.k.a. Berserker: The Nordic Curse
"A Campfire Legend of Flesh-Eating Terror!"

Synopsis: According to an old Nordic legend, a Berserker was a bloodthirsty warrior who would feast on human flesh, forbidden a restful death and fated to be reincarnated in their blood kin. Six college students accidentally stumble across the Berserker legend while vacationing at a Rainbow Valley campground, an area settled by Norwegian immigrants. The camp is filled with rumors of a wild bear killing people in the area, including speculation about an old couple who recently got lost in the woods. Is it really a bear ...or is it something much worse?

My Thoughts: Wikipedia claims Berserkers are legendary Norwegian warriors who fought in a nearly uncontrollable trance-like fury. Most historians believe that they would work themselves into a rage before battle, but some think that they might have consumed drugged foods. The Berserkers were known for wearing coats made from the pelts of a bear during battle ...and in this movie, they also wore masks made from the bear's skull and used the teeth to rip open their victims.

Okay, so we have Berserkers, bears, vikings and bunch of annoying campers that are lost in the woods. Sounds like the makings of a great 80's slasher movie, right? Unfortunately, even a really badass premise can't make up for the awful execution of an inexperienced horror director (Jef Richard). The biggest problem I had was the film's pacing. It seemed like every scene would drag on about 10-15 seconds too long. I don't know if the goal was to reach 90 mins or what, but if they cleaned it up a little during editing and lost about 10 mins of useless footage it would really help.

The acting got really bad at times (even for a slasher flick) aside from horror movie vets, George 'Buck' Flower & John Goff who both brought their A-game. The gore was pretty cheesy and there weren't any memorable kills, just a bunch of bloody claw marks. We did get some boob shots, but nothing to write home about. Overall, it was watchable, I guess. It just didn't live up to it's potential. I still thinks it's a cool idea and could definitely use a remake ...a really low budget blood-soaked remake.

My Rating: 5 / 10

Released by Prism Entertainment in 1990. It's a surprising good transfer and unlike most of the 80's 'in the woods' slashers, the night scenes are really well lit. This one will run you about 20 bucks for a used copy on amazon. Is it worth it? Probably not, unless you sick f*#kers got some kind of perverted viking fetish or somethin'.

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