Thursday, April 28, 2011

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

”Under New Management”

Synopsis: After being found guilty of various murders, including the poisoning of his mother, Norman (played by former Anthony Perkins stand-in, Kurt Paul) is sent to the state mental asylum. Once in the institution, Norman (who is apparently rehabilitated) rooms with a troubled young boy named Alex West (Bud Cort, "Harold and Maude", "Invaders from Mars") and they start a friendship that lasts nearly twenty years. After Norman dies, Alex inherits the Bates Motel that has remained vacant since the time of Norman's arrest. Alex heads to Fairvale, California where he meets Willie (Lori Petty, "Point Break", "Tank Girl"), a teenage runaway who’s been living in the empty house, and they decide to re-open the motel together.

My Thoughts: Coming off a pair of fairly successful “Psycho” sequels, Universal and NBC attempted to cash-in on the franchise with a spin-off TV series in 1987. Completely ignoring the storyline from Psycho’s 2 & 3, writer/director Richard Rothstein decided the show’s pilot episode (which premiered as a NBC Movie of the Week) would begin with Norman Bates incarceration in 1960. 

Okay, this was obviously a bad idea from the start and the way it was carried out was just terrible. The idea that psychiatrists at a nut house would allow a serial killer to be a mentor to a troubled little kid is way too unbelievable. There’s also this unrelated side story, that doesn’t start until an hour into the movie, where this woman checks into the hotel and the whole thing turns into a really bad episode of Fantasy Island (which tells you what direction the TV series would have gone if it got picked up).

This poor excuse for a movie has none of the atmosphere of the other films. I realize it was made for TV and there were limits to what they could get away with, but this is so tame they could have aired it on a Saturday morning. Not one person gets offed the entire time and there isn’t even any decent scares.

The main actor (Cort) is so irritating and his performance is so bad that twenty minutes in you wish Mrs. Bates would pop out of her chair and stab him in the head. The funny thing is, as bad as he is, Lori Petty (who always plays the same annoying character) is worse. The two of them seemed to be in some kind of duel to see which one could act more retarded.

 Anthony Perkins actively boycotted this film in interviews and television appearances in the months leading up to its premiere. He thought the film was an exploitative cash-in on Psycho 3, which he had directed less than a year earlier. Perkins felt that the continuity of the "Psycho" franchise had been ruined by the Bates Motel storyline. My guess is that he just demanded too much money, so the studio decided to kill him off and make the series without him. Perkins did, however, get the last laugh. When the pilot was aired in July of ’87, the ratings were so low that both Universal and NBC shelved the idea of turning the production into a TV series. In 1990, Perkins was brought back as Norman Bates to tell the story of his childhood in Mick Garris’ Psycho IV: The Beginning, which follows the storyline of the original films and disregards the Bates Motel pilot entirely.

My Rating: 3 / 10

Bates Motel has only been released on VHS in Sweden and Finland by Esselte Video. There’s a ton of bootlegs out there, most of which look like they’ve been copied and recopied 50 times over. If you really wanna see this crap no need to buy iy, just click the link below and watch it on youtube.

"click here to watch Bates Motel"

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Repo Man (1984)

"…It’s 4 A.M., do you know where your car is?"

Synopsis: Frustrated punk rocker Otto (Elimio Estevez, "The Breakfast Club", "Maximum Overdrive") who quits his supermarket job after slugging a co-worker, and is later dumped by his girlfriend at a party. Wandering the streets in frustration, he is recruited in the repossession of a car by a repo agent (Harry Dean Stanton, "Alien", "Escape From New York"). After discovering his parents have donated his college fund to a televangelist, he joins the repossession agency (Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation) as an apprentice "repo man". During his training, he is introduced into the mercenary and paranoid world of the drivers, befriended by a UFO conspiracy theorist (Olivia Barash, "Tuff Turf", "Fame"), confronted by rival repo agents, discovers some of his one-time friends have turned to a life of crime, is lectured to near cosmic unconsciousness by the repo agency grounds worker (Tracey Walter, "Batman", "The Silence of the Lambs"), and finds himself entangled in a web of intrigue concerning a huge repossession bounty on a 1964 Chevy Malibu driven by a lunatic government scientist, with Top Secret cargo in the trunk.

My Thoughts: The “cult film” tag is thrown out there way too often, much of the time undeserved. British filmmaker Alex Cox’s 1984 classic truly warrants that title. This fairly unknown low-budget sci-fi/comedy still holds up, even 27 years after it’s release.

Alex Cox’s debut is so full of strange characters and sub-plots that it’s a miracle it doesn’t completely fall apart half way through. I gotta attribute that to not only Cox’s script, but to the great acting from his more than competent cast. Harry Dean Stanton practically steals the show as Bud, a smooth talking low-life repo man who has done and seen it all. His scenes with Estevez are classic and are responsible for some incredible quotes like, "What are you? A fuckin' commie? I don't want no commies in my car … No Christians either!". Tracey Walter also has a hilarious scene where he explains to Otto about what he calls the “cosmic unconsciousness” and how flying saucers are really time machines.

Repo Man has as much sarcasm, dark humor and inside jokes as you will ever find in a film. I’ve probably seen it over a dozen times and I’m still picking up on things that I’ve missed. On my last watch, I just noticed that everybody who works at the repo yard is named after a beer (Bud, Oly, Miller, Lite).

…and how can I forget about the incredible soundtrack, which is includes the Suicidal Tendencies classic, “Institutionalized”. Not to mention, songs by The Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Iggy Pop. The highlight of the album has to be Burning Sensations cover of the 1976 Modern Lovers’ tune, “Pablo Picasso”. A song consisting of just spoken word lyrics over a “Peter Gunn” riff, that contains the lyrics: "Well some people try to pick up girls/And get called assholes/This never happened to Pablo Picasso/He could walk down your street/And girls could not resist his stare/Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole …not like you." The Repo Man soundtrack is practically a time capsule of L.A.’s hardcore/punk scene during the early 80’s.

My Rating: 9 / 10

This film falls into the must-own category. I don’t even know why I didn’t rate it a 10 out of 10. Don’t take my word for it, check it out on Netflix instant. A blu-ray version has yet to be released, but I definitely recommend picking up the collector’s edition DVD. It’s a high quality transfer with some great extras, including scenes from the network T.V. version that weren’t included in the original film and were left off the DVD’s original release.

"click here to see the trailer"

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lost Signal (2007)

a.k.a. Dead of Winter
"If you would like to make a call. Please hang up ...and die again."

Synopsis: Kevin Healy (Al Santos, "Jeepers Creepers 2", "Killer Movie") and Tiffany Matthews (Sandra McCoy, "Cry Wolf", "House of Fears") head out to celebrate the New Year and a new beginning in their 7-year relationship. In the midst of the celebration the young couple decide to mark the occasion by experimenting with Crystal Meth. Unbeknown to them, town bad boy Randy Martin (Alex Boyd, "Karla") slips LSD in their drinks, setting into motion a night of life altering events which will leave one dead and the other forever scarred. The young couple leave the party and quickly begin to realize that they are not alone, or so they think. After a car accident the two run into the woods to escape their stalker, with no protection from the elements. Attempts to call for help are futile when they realize that their cell phone signal is lost. Alone in the woods with the delusions of being chased the couple slowly begin to turn on each other. On the verge of being rescued everything falls apart in this fast paced, psychological thriller, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats.

My Thoughts: This film's kind of a mixed bag. I liked the premise, although the execution was so-so. The acting wasn't bad for a lower budget feature. The two leads were pretty believable and actor/turned first time director Brian McNamara did a decent job creating a creepy mood when the couple was lost in the desolate forest. I know it's already been done to death, but I'm still a fan of horror flicks in the woods.

McNamara probably could have tightened it up a bit with some editing. The movie did seem to lag at times, enough to where I found myself dozing off in the middle. It did finish strong with some nice kills and a pretty dark twist ending.

I've read a few reviews that compare this to "The Shining", one even calling it a complete rip-off. I'd like somebody to please explain this to me because the movie I just watched wasn't even close.

My Rating: 5.5 / 10

Overall, it's a movie with a message that unfortunately drags a bit in the middle, but still not a bad rental. Oh, the message ...don't do drugs!

"click here to see the trailer"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Appointment With Fear (1985)

a.k.a. Deadly Presence
"Trapped in a world where death is not the end!"

Synopsis:  Our Story follows hard-nosed Detective Kowalski (Douglas Rowe, "Babysitter Wanted") as he investigates a series of brutal murders only to have his investigation lead him to an asylum inmate who is supposedly in a coma in a heavily-guarded monastary. Meanwhile, the inmate's dying wife hands over her baby to an unsuspecting teenager asking her to protect it from her husband. The inmate's döppelganger, who emerges from his cometose body, tracks down the teenager and her friends during a party at a house that's in the middle of nowhere ...of course

My Thoughts: Moustapha Akkad past away in 2005. He will be forever remembered as the executive producer for the original 8 films of the legendary "Halloween" franchise. In 1985, Akkad produced his only other horror film, a second rate slasher called "Appointment With Fear". While "Halloween" went on to become one of the most successful horror films of all-time (both financially and critically), "Appointment With Fear" can be considered the complete opposite.

Apparently, Akkad wasn't happy with what director Ramzi Thomas gave him, so he decided to have additional scenes shot and have the film re-edited. This led to Thomas having his directing credit removed from the film by the Directors Guild of America and replaced with the pseudonym "Alan Smithee". All of this makes sense after seeing this film. At times the story seems disjointed, which (as my Mom would say) is most likely caused by the film having too many chiefs and not enough indians.

The acting wasn't too bad, but the writing is so ridiculous that even Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't have pulled this off. Most of the characters seem to be half-retarded, e.g., one of the girls has a bum that lives (and sleeps) in the back of her pick-up. It's never explained??? That might be okay in a comedy, but this is far from that. Don't even get me started on the asinine dialog.

If there's anything positive I can say about this movie is that it has a pretty decent score, which is the only thing that brought any suspense to this forgettable film. I'd be interested to know how much they spent on this disaster. With all the production problems, I bet it's more than you might think. There's a good chance this is the reason Akkad went back to his bread & butter (the "Halloween" movies) and never tried any other horror films. After watching this, that could be a good thing.

My Rating: 3 / 10

As you might expect, this one never made it to DVD. You can pick up a VHS copy on Amazon for a few bucks, but I'd advise even hard-core 80's horror fans to skip this one.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Much of Madness/More of Sin" Podcast News

Could this be true? A Much of Madness/More of Sin pocast. No way!

It's true. God help us all. I'd like to confirm that the official Much of Madness/More of Sin podcast is officially in the works. It's in the early stages right now, so that's all I can really tell you. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, I expect the first episode to be ready to go by the first or second week of May.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Scream 4 (2011)

"New Decade. New Rules."

Synopsis: Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately, Sidney's appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger.

My Thoughts:  After my wife discovered the Scream 4 trailer while watching TV last week (probably during Dancing with the Stars), she ordered me to go with her to see it as soon as it came out. She had no idea it was even being made (she's not in the loop), so when she saw it she acted like a kid walking by a Baskin Robbins. What I'm saying is, I didn't have a chance. Although, I did man up and make her wait until Monday.

I'm not a Scream hater, like a lot of people. I really like the original. I liked it enough to be one of the many horror fans that dished out the cash to see the sequel. What, was it like 7 bucks back then? I can't remember. Anyway, I remembered it being a pretty disappointing and uninspired follow-up. Part 3 ...even more so. That doesn't leave a guy with much to look forward to when a Part 4 comes out from a franchise that's been dead for over a decade.

Before donating more money to the Wes Craven retirement fund, I decided to watch the original trilogy again, You know, revisit Woodsboro and see if I felt the same way about the series as I did 10 years ago. I originally intended to review each movie, but I think I'll put that on hold until they're finished with the series. I assume that'll be Scream 6, but who am I kidding?

One thing about Wes Craven, the guy's tough to figure out. When you sit down to watch a Wes Craven movie, you have no idea what you're gonna get. The guy will release a complete piece of garbage and follow it up with an absolute classic. I mean, he made "A Nightmare on Elm Street" right after "Invitation To Hell" and the first "Scream" came out after the horror/comedy disaster that was "Vampire in Brooklyn". Scream 4 is no classic, but anybody who has seen "My Soul To Take" knows actually what I'm talking about.

Let's face it, there's not much more you can do with this series. It's a part of pop culture that's so played out that it's turned most of it's fans into former fans. That's where I got to give Craven and writer Kevin Williamson tons of credit for picking a great young cast and breathing some new life into a once dead franchise.

Like I said, at this point there's not much you could do as far as the story goes. That's why giving the fans a fun fast-paced popcorn flick was the way to go. I thought, unlike in Parts 2 & 3, the new batch of characters mixed in really well with the series regulars. It had the right amount of red herrings to keep you guessing, some pretty good cameos and the usual goofy humor that you expect from a Scream movie. They even threw in some extra gore this time around, which never hurts.

My Rating: 7.5 / 10

A fresher movie for a stale franchise. I guess the extended vacation from the Scream series did Craven and Williamson some good. If you're a fan of the series, or even just the original, it's worth checking out.

"click here to see the trailer"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

River of Darkness (2010)

"Terror Flows Upstream"

Synopsis: When unspeakable evil falls on a quiet river town, Sheriff Will Logan (Kurt Angle) is thrust into a chilling nightmare of death and mayhem. He is confronted with a series of horrific murders, each more viscous than the last, and soon learns of the community’s seedy past and the evil that has risen from purgatory to exact revenge on the town. When Sheriff Logan discovers that the murders are committed by the spirits of old river squatters, the Jacobs Boys (Kevin Nash & Sid Vicious), the town explodes into an battlefield of blazing guns and zombies.

  Once The Jacobs Boys exact their punishing vengeance on the town it’s up to Sheriff Logan to unravel the shocking mystery of the past and slam the Boys back to hell.

My Thoughts: Q: What do you get when you take a bunch of washed up pro wrestlers and throw in b-movie legend Bill Hinzman (the lead zombie from Romero's Night of the Living Dead)? A: Hilarity

This movie is getting torn apart on just about every review site on the net. I can't believe that no one seems to see the so-bad-it's-good quality of this film. I gotta admit after the first 5 minutes or so I too thought to myself "WTF is this shit", but after listening to line after line of ridiculous dialog delivered by actors without an ounce of talent, it really won me over.

There's no doubt in my mind that this movie will someday take it's place beside films like Troll 2 in the best worst movie hall of fame. It's got it all, ridicious writing, bad directing, terrible acting, horrible zombie effects and no production value whatsoever. The only thing it's missing, which would make this the perfect bad movie, is some gratuitous nudity. I guess we can't have it all.

My Rating: 5.25 / 10

Get a group of friends together, pop this in and let the laughter begin.

"click here to see the trailer"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Night Life (1989)

a.k.a. Grave Misdemeanours and Zombie Academy
“There’s good reason to be afraid of the dark"

Synopsis: This is the story of Archie Melville (Scott Grimes, "Critters 1 & 2"), a down on his luck teenager that’s just trying to catch a break. Forced to work as an assistant mortician for his miserable Uncle Verlin (John Astin, "The Addams Family") as part of a deal he made in order to go to college. Charly (Cheryl Pollak, "My Best Friend Is a Vampire"), his only friend, tells him out of the blue that she’s been offered a job and is leaving town. The girl that he wants to get with (Lisa Fuller, “The Monster Squad”) is dating his arch-enemy (Kenneth Ian Davis, “The New Kids”), who leads a group of preppie snobs that are constantly tormenting him. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for the poor bastard, the shit really hits the fan.

After his tormentors are suddenly killed in a car accident , Archie’s given the gruesome task of preparing the bodies for burial. Later that night, the mortuary is struck by a bolt of lightning that (you guessed it) turns the corpses into bloodthirsty zombies hungry for revenge.

My Thoughts: Although you don’t actually see any zombies until the second half of the film, I still kinda liked this one. It starts out like your typical 80’s teen movie (except for the fact that some of it takes place in a mortuary). Canadian director David Acomba does a great job of developing the characters and keeping a pretty fast pace, so you never get too bored while you’re waiting for the fun to begin. He even flexes his directing muscles a little by throwing in some creepy dream-like sequences and gives the movie a bit of a darker tone, something that you don’t see too often in a horror comedy.

The acting wasn’t great, but what you’d expect. One exception was John Astin, who was perfectly cast as Archie’s heartless Uncle Verlin. Scott Grimes is who he is (never too bad, but never any good) and the rest of the mostly unknown actors were hit and miss. The zombie make-up was a little cheesy, but most of the gore was surprisingly well done and they came up with a few creative kills.

So overall, I’d have to say what this movie lacked in originally, it made up for in execution. I would probably describe it as a cross between the John Hughes movie “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Return of The Living Dead”. I thought most of the humor worked and it’s got some pretty nice gore, especially for it’s time. One of the best things about the horror genre is that most horror fans don’t ask for films to be perfect, just for them to be fun …and seeing a couple zombies having sex, that’s fun stuff!

My Rating: 7.5 / 10

Definitely worth checking out if you can get your hands on a copy. There’s no DVD to speak of, but you can always pick it up on VHS. Used copies are selling for a little over $20 on amazon, so I’d suggest searching around on eBay for a possible bargain.

"click here to see the trailer"

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Traveler (2004)

"Caught with nowhere to run!"

Synopsis: Deep in the woods of Pennsylvania, a terrible evil is about to be unleashed. An old, ramshackle house with a violent past. Abandoned. Forgotten. Seven people will come to this house. Two are here by accident. The rest are here for thrills. They will all come face to face with a force darker and more horrifying than their worst nightmares. A being of incredible power and unspeakable malice. A being known only as? The Traveler.

My Thoughts: Like every Brain Damage Films release, The Traveler had an extremely low budget. Imdb listed it at around $15,000, which is amazing when you consider the amount of gore in this film. Don't get me wrong, not everything in this slaughterfest looks entirely realistic, but for that amount of money it's a real achievement.

It was written and directed by Jonathan R. Skocik who also played the lead, Alan Chesterson. A lot to take on for a first timer. Hell, he even did the special effects. The Traveler was Skocik's first and last film. It's a real shame he never gave it another shot.

The movie does start a little slow, but once The Traveler makes his first appearance and starts his twisted version of Survivor the action picks up. All of the acting is horrendous, but in a ridiculously funny way. They had to just be friends of Skocik because there's no way in hell that they're real actors (well maybe the guy who played The Traveler was, even though he was pretty terrible too).

My Rating: 5 / 10

Recommended for gore fans. It's included in one of those Mill Creek 50-movie box sets called "Tomb of Terrors", which I picked up from eBay for $12. I've watched about 8 of them so far and this is the only one that stands out. Plus, they crammed 4 or 5 movies on each DVD, so the transfers aren't too great either. I would suggest picking up the Brain Damage release for a couple bucks instead, unless you're really into low budget horror.

"click here to see the trailer"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bear (2010)

"Play Dead."

Synopsis: Two young couples are driving through a remote forest when their car breaks down. When a run-in with a curious grizzly bear ends up with the bear being shot to death, the bear's mate arrives on the scene and vengefully attacks their van. The couples are trapped inside the disabled car and must come up with clever ways to survive. As they battle the surprisingly intelligent creature, and contemplate their uncertain fate, secrets begin to emerge that threaten to tear the group apart before the bear does.

My Thoughts: My biggest gripe with this film is the wasted potential. I do enjoy a killer animal movie now and again. What I don't enjoy is a movie whose cast of characters is made up entirely of annoying fuckin' drama queens. It's bad enough they were shit actors, but the constant arguing was just too much. I realize the writer wanted the viewers to dislike these assholes and see the bear as the victim, but it went way past hating the characters and lead to me hating the movie.

I thought the main purpose of watching a horror film is to escape real life for an hour or two and have a good time. That's pretty hard to do when the film you're watching is filled with the same type of dickholes that you spend most of your time trying to avoid.

I did enjoy most of the bear's attack scenes, even though they gave him super intelligence. I can't really think of anything else that I liked about it, so I gotta say ...fuck this movie!

My Rating: 2.5 / 10

If you find yourself standing in front of the redbox and there's nothing else to rent ...just go home and go to bed. You need some sleep anyway.

"click here to see the trailer"

Friday, April 8, 2011

Insidious (2010)

"It's not the house that's haunted"

Synopsis: The Lambert's move into an old house and begin to suspect they are under siege from otherworldly forces when their young son inexplicably falls into a deep coma. As devoted parents Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) struggle in vain to uncover the root cause of their son's condition, the stress of the situation gradually begins to take its toll on their once-strong relationship. Later, when darkness falls and specters appear to reach out for them from the shadows, the frightened parents realize they're dealing with powers beyond human comprehension.

My Thoughts: Before last night I couldn't remember the last time that a horror movie actually scared me. Thanks to Insidious, now I can.

This incredible ghost story from the creators of the Saw series, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, is without a doubt the most surprising film of 2011. For some reason my expectations were really low for this movie, even though I did hear some pretty good reviews. C'mon let's be honest, the quality of PG-13 horror flicks over the last 10 years or so has made us all a little gun shy. Going in to Drag Me To Hell my hopes were high because of Sam Raimi (obviously), but a PG-13 movie from the director of Saw ...not so much. Well, when you're wrong you're wrong.

Whannell's writing along with Wan's direction keep you on edge for almost the entire film. The story starts a bit slow, but that could have been done purposely in order to catch the audience a little more off guard when the crazy shit started to go down. I can't remember another movie where jump scares were used as effectively or as often.

I think it would be a shame if they ruined this with a series of shitty sequels, but I do hope they team up again for another ghost story. The horror world could really use it.

My Rating: 9 / 10

Just make sure you get to see this one before it leaves the theater. I'm gonna try to catch it on the big screen one more time, just to see if it has any rewatch value.

...oh, and the "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips" song was a nice touch.

"click here to see the trailer"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Sawbones (1995)

a.k.a. Prescription For Murder
"The hands of a surgeon... the soul of a madman"

Synopsis: Constantly put down by her medical student boyfriend, Brad (Nicholas Sadler, "Sometimes They Come Back") for being unfocused, hospital admissions secretary Jennie Sloan (Nina Siemaszko, "Lost Angels") decides to focus her energies on crimesolving after she discovers a mutilated corpse in an alley. The deceased woman is one of a string of victims slain by Willy Knapp (Don Harvey, "Creepshow 2"), a rejected med school candidate. Unable to match the brilliance of his late surgeon father, psychotic Willy makes barbaric surgery his hobby. Pressured to put an end to these brutal murders, police detective Burt Miller (Adam Baldwin, "Full Metal Jacket") prevails upon Jennie to provide hospital and med school information which he believes will help him identify the killer. 

My Thoughts: This Roger Corman produced slasher will always be considered a rip-off of 1992's Dr. Giggles, there's just no way around it. As a matter of fact, a couple changes in the script and this could have easily been the direct-to-video sequel of that film.

I'll be the first to admit that this film is far from perfect. As with all of Corman's movies, it was made on a limited budget. He hired on a fairly inexperienced director, Catherine Cyran (writer/producer of Slumber Party Massacre III) and while I wouldn't exactly say she did a bad job, she did give the movie that annoying Lifetime TV-movie feel. The acting wasn't the greatest either. Nina Siemaszko, although cute as hell, has never been mistaken for a good actress and Adam Baldwin mumbled most of his lines and seemed to be just going through the motions.

On the other hand, for a slasher flick that was made during the dark days of horror (late 80's-mid 90's) it had it's moments. Don Harvey is no Larry Drake (Dr. Giggles), but his portrayal of the delusional Willy Knapp is so insane it had make cracking up almost the entire movie. I was also really surprised with the amount of gore during the surgury/murder scenes, an element that was clearly missing from Dr. Giggles.

My Rating: 6.5 / 10

Sawbones is a lot of fun and worth a watch. Think of it as a lower budget Dr. Giggles that's way more deserving of an R-rating. You probably won't be seeing this one pop up on Netflix instant any time soon. Fortunately, unlike a lot of out-of-print movies, a used VHS copy of this will only run you a little over a buck (check for it on My advice, get the old beat-up VCR out of the garage and pick up a copy.

"click here to check out other reviews at"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Tribute To Horror Director Rolfe Kanefsky


I’d like to take some time to pay tribute to one of my favorite horror directors, Rolfe Kanefsky. Since making his first feature film in 1990, the horror spoof “There’s Nothing Out There”, he has been building an impressive resume of cult favorites in both the horror and comedy genres. When Rolfe was 20 years old, his father (film editor Victor Kanefsky) agreed to mortgage the family home in order to finance his first film. Although not the financial success the Kanefsky’s hoped for, “There’s Nothing Out There” has built a fairly strong following in the horror community over the years. The film’s claim to fame will always be the character of Mike (Craig Peck), who plays a horror movie aficionado who uses his knowledge of horror clichés in order to help his friends escape from certain doom. I don’t know, but I think Kevin Williamson might have rented this one in the early 90’s before he wrote “Scream”.

After over a decade of directing mainly soft-core films (“Emmanuelle”, “Sex Files”), Rolfe made his return to horror with 2004’s “The Hazing”, featuring a cameo by horror icon Brad Dourif. The film was well received by both fans and critics alike.

He followed that up with the noticeably lower-budget zombie film “Corpses”, which was released the same year. It starred scream queen Tiffany Shepis (who also starred in “The Hazing”) and Jeff “The Lawnmower Man” Fahey. Though not too happy with the way this one came out, stating various problems during the film’s production, I thought it was a pretty fun zombie-comedy flick.

In 2005, he made “Jacqueline Hyde” (a retelling of the classic Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde story). In this film, that Rolfe believes one day will get it’s just due, he again blends horror and comedy while bringing back traces of his past soft-core movie days.

The following year he finally got his shot at the big screen with “Nightmare Man”. After receiving multiple awards during it’s run on the film festival circuit, it was picked up by Lionsgate and released theatrically in November of 2007 as part of their annual After Dark Horrorfest.

In the years following “Nightmare Man”, Rolfe has released a couple of very underrated teen comedies (“Pretty Cool”, “Pretty Cool Too”) and a soon to be released thriller (“One in the Gun”). It’s been 5 years now since his last horror film, so I’m pretty sure his love for the genre should bring him back soon. In the meantime, if you’re looking for some fun horror movies that don’t take themselves too seriously, check out some of these flicks from a true independent filmmaker.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Respire (2009)

"Hold Your Breath"

Synopsis: The Ancient Romans believed that the soul escaped one's body with the last breath.  It was believed that last breath held the power to cure disease and prolong life.  In 1930's, Dr. Randolph Kaminsky (Timothy Dykes) devoted his life to finding out how to harness the power in the last breath. Susan Jordan (Tracy Teague) owns a local novelty shop.  One item in her shop, an antique box once owned by Dr. Kaminsky, draws the interest of two men: Raif Collins (Mathew J. Wright) who hopes it's contents can save his dying sister, and Alex Poe (Vince Eustace) whose motives are more mysterious. Susan quickly finds herself in a perilous struggle to protect the box and the secrets that it holds.

My Thoughts: If you're looking for a movie to throw on after having a few too many cocktails, I would definitely recommend picking something else. It's not that the story is overly complicated. It's that there's just so much going on that if you doze off for even a minute you're fuckin' lost. A mistake I made not once, but twice.

I have to give writer/directer David A. Cross (Ghostwatcher 1 & 2) a lot of credit. The plot was pretty imaginative and well thought out. It couldn't have been easy to make a movie that goes in so many different directions without any noticeable plot holes. Equally impressive is how he seemlessly blends in so many horror sub-genres into one film.

It's too bad Cross' talent as a director doesn't match his creative screenwriting, although he receives very little support from the cast. The acting and at times even the look of the film seemed to be right out of an episode of Gilmore Girls ...not that I watch Gilmore Girls. Some decent gore and a little skin could have probably helped, but appartently our director didn't agree.

My Rating: 5 / 10

Not perfect, but worth a watch.

"click here to see the trailer"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Confessions Of A Serial Killer (1987)

"Step inside the mind of a killer"

Synopsis: After being arrested, a Texas man begins confessing to the brutal murder of over 200 women. He recounts his random selection of victims and his traveling companions, his friend and friend's sister. But the police can't be sure whether to believe him or not until he locates a body and shows them some polaroids. Based on the true story of Henry Lee Lucas.

My Thoughts: This forgotten classic, which was filmed in the mid-80's, sat around collecting dust for over 5 years before finally being released by New Horizons home video in 1992. The Hannibal Lecter look-alike used for the cover art was no doubt an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Silence of the Lambs. It's not a surprise that this film has nothing to do with the Hannibal franchise what-so-ever, although it does have a few similarities to John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (also based on the notorious serial killer Henry Lee Lucas). McNaughton's Henry had gained a huge cult following in the years after it's release in 1990, so it doesn't take a genius to figure out what the folks at New Horizons were thinking when they came up with the title for this movie.

The acting in the movie was average with one exception. Robert A. Burns was incredible as the lead character. His passive and unemotional portrayal of Daniel Ray really made this movie for me. Not to mention, he's a dead ringer for the real Henry Lee Lucas. Burns, who worked as an art director on some legendary horror films (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes), was also used as the art director on this film. The gritty look of Texas Chainsaw Massacre is definitely on display here. The great efforts of Burns, along with the creepiness of the film's score, make this a very underrated horror flick.

*** On a sad note, Robert commited suicide in 2004 (shortly after being diagnosed with terminal cancer). He was 60 years old.

This movie was actually released on DVD a few years back on region 2 (with the same cheesy cover). Do not buy this version! The video and audio transfers are terrible and it's been cut to shreds. Stick with the New Horizons VHS version.

My Rating: 8.5 / 10

This one's definitely worth searching for, unfortunately a VHS copy will run you about $25 on eBay or amazon. You might be better off picking up a dvd-r copy off ioffer for 5 or 6 bucks. Make sure it was taken from the unedited New Horizons VHS release and not the shitty region 2 DVD.

"click here to see the trailer"
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