A recent review I did for Farsighted about the making of Pet Semetary. Definitely some ups and downs, but I am a excited to hear your thoughts.
A recent review I did for Farsighted about the making of Pet Semetary. Definitely some ups and downs, but I am a excited to hear your thoughts.
Here is a group review of THE NEON DEMON. Check it out and holler at me in the comments!
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
If you grew up in the 80s and early 90s you probably have some vague memory of seeing Daniel Stern in a (gritty) New York City movie called C.H.U.D. It was one of those films that always played after reruns of Star Trek and helped inform the tastes of a whole generation of burgeoning nerds. The truth is that I had not seen this film since my teens and I was excited to visit this movie again with fresh eyes. What I remembered was a very basic monster flick, but what I got was a smart and entertaining piece of Americana. In my younger years I never noticed all of the social commentary (and there is tons of it on display in this film)…but lets not forget that there are also some kick ass monsters too.
C.H.U.D. tells the story of a police captain (John Heard) who is investigating the mysterious disappearances of people in a neighborhood of New York City, including his wife. His investigation leads him to the sewers and he uncovers a gruesome monster (or monsters) that is preying on unsuspecting victims. He teams up with a local (Daniel Stern) and the two attempt to discover what is behind it all.
This film holds up and documents a lost era of a truly dangerous feeling New York City that my generation will only know from movies like this. Most monster movies have some thinly veiled social message, but C.H.U.D. addresses social issues head on. We are dropped into a world of homeless people and government cover ups that feel just as relevant now as it did in 1984. This Blu Ray release keeps the magic this film offered over thirty years ago and will (hopefully) expose a whole new generation to its subtle genius.
C.H.U.D. IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM http://www.arrowvideo.com/product/chud/762
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
I am not really sure who asked for a remake to the 1974 film Vampyres, but someone did it anyway. Why someone would revisit this sleazy classic is beyond me, but I was happily surprised at how this film turned out. What we got was a trashy, but wonderfully shot story of vampires. Sexy, lesbian vampires who have some sort of plan that does not really much make sense. Lets be honest, who cares, I just said sexy lesbian vampires and that should give you an idea what you are in for.
The film begins with two beautiful women who are vampires living in an English estate. Just feeding on travelers and holding a middle aged man hostage in their basement. Once three young adults accidentally set up camp on their property, the blood thirsty couple is disrupted and forced to start feeding on these interlopers. Will these uninvited guests compromise the vampire couple’s twisted lifestyle? Maybe, but they wont go without a very (very!) sexy fight.
I have a hard time not cracking jokes while discussing this film’s plot, but where this movie lacks in story it makes up in tone. Very few filmmakers could capture the tone of an old Jess Franco film, but Victor Matellano did. Between graphic sex and/or murder scenes, we are treated to beautiful scenery and the production value of a more expensive film. The capturing of this era does have its sour notes though. On top of nailing the vibe, it also nails the pacing…which is slow. Whenever characters are clothed (or not bound to posts in a makeshift dungeon) the film grinds to a painful halt. There is very little investment to be made in these one-dimensional villains and victims. But, who really gives a shit…there are lesbian vampires and loads (and loads) of blood. This may not win any major awards, but it is a fun way to spend a buzzed Saturday night. VAMPYRES IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON VOD AND DVD http://www.artsploitationfilms.com/film/vampyres/
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
Todd Sheets is a living legend of no-budget filmmaking and he is a filmmaker that I am always excited to see anything that comes from him. Movies like Zombie Bloodbath, Goblin and Nightmare Asylum were “go-to” films back in the VHS era and he has made a fantastic comeback over these past few years. Contributing to a couple anthologies and his impressive feature House of Forbidden Secrets. The title and one-sheet alone had me hooked for Dreaming Purple Neon, so when I had the opportunity to check it out I did not hesitate one bit. This film packs a lot of genres and ideas into its nearly 2 hour runtime and Mr Sheets manages to pull it off to an impressive degree.
Dreaming Purple Neon begins with two drug dealers/gangsters, Tyrone (Ricky Farr) and Ray Ray (Antwoine Steel), who are dealing with an associate who has clearly crossed the two. Once things go south, they kill the associate and scare the hell out of their employee Catriona (Millie Milan). She freaks out, steals the mysterious drugs and flees to one of her friends who works for a dentist. At the same time, Dallas (Jeremy Edwards) has returned to his hometown to try to settle things with his ex. It just so happens that this leads Dallas to the same dentists’ office as Catriona. Once all of these stories intersect it leads all of our players into the clutches of an evil Satanic cult that is manufacturing a drug called (you guessed it) Purple Neon. It is at this point that things get messy and our characters end up in a fight for their lives and sanity.
This film harkens back to a lot of what has made Todd Sheets early films so enjoyable, but the level of craftsmanship makes this film much more impressive than what you would expect. Scenes are shot well and scenes feel deliberate and lack the padding you would usually see in a film like this. Todd Sheets’ direction feels very confident and this confidence affects everyone involved in the film. The acting is a little rough around the edges, but the lines are delivered with that same confidence, which (instantly) sells the viewer into believing what they say (no matter how ridiculous).
The biggest star of this film is the practical FX on display in this film. They must have gone through gallons and gallons of fake blood. Gooey latex and prosthetics get torn to shreds by cleverly designed demons, people and monsters throughout. I can only imagine how much work it was to clean up after these scenes, but this film puts every single dollar if its budget on the screen. The sign of a true indie filmmaker that understands why we all love these types of films. The only complaint I found was that the (occasional) CGI really stood out. With these budgets it is necessary, but the top notch practical FX made the digital FX look worse. That tiny (and easily overlooked) gripe aside, this is an original horror that rises above your normal glut of low budget horror that fans deserve. Todd Sheets has blessed us with another great splatter-classic that gore fans will be singing praises of for years to come. DREAMING PURPLE NEON WILL BE RELEASING SOON AND I WILL UPDATE WHEN IT IS ANNOUNCED.
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
Sleaze Box and Gatorblade pictures are back at it again…just in time for the holidays. I am not sure who said “let’s make Bob Glazier Santa Claus”, but I want to personally thank them. Cannibal Claus is a Christmas movie, but it is not exactly fit for the whole family. It has all of the gore and naked breasts you have come to expect, but this time it is set to the jolly tune of Christmas carols. It may not be the best film from Director Sean Donohue, but it is one of his most enjoyable.
Cannibal Claus starts with a mall Santa (played by Bob Glazier) losing his job to his smug employer. This sets our central character into a tailspin of debauchery and violence, putting together “a list” of those who have been naughty and nice. This includes anyone who has ever wronged him and his methods are as brutal as they are funny.
The company of actors that Sean Donohue and Sleaze Box films continually work with really seem to be growing as a whole. These actors are clearly having a great time and it shows throughout the film’s brisk runtime. The direction is solid and feels cinematic, but it does lack a little of the polish we saw in Death-Scort Service. The scenes are a little choppier than his last film, but it’s not distracting and may help with the playful tone. What works best is how this film interweaves the two storylines, giving an explanation for our Santa’s quick decent into insanity. The family from the flashback sequences give great performances (They are played by a real family; Alberto, Mady and Lucio Giovannelli) and give the viewer a break from the non-stop gore flinging.
I would be remised if I did not mention the parade of lovely women in this film. There is a list too long to name, but they all deserve credit for giving fun performances and never wasting a moment of screen time. So if you prefer your Christmas movies a little sleazier, trading cheer and snow for blood and boobs, then give Cannibal Claus a chance! CANNIBAL CLAUS IS COMING SOON FROM GATORBLADE FILMS AND SLEAZE BOX
BY BLAINE McLARENThe good folks at Sleaze Box have been working overtime to bring us some of the best no-budget exploitation films since bursting on to the scene with Amerikan Holokaust a few years back. As rough-around-the-edges as that first movie was, there was something unique and fantastically DIY about their vision. Chris Woods and company have been putting out a lot of titles and each release has shown a progression in craft, but (thank God) not lost that charm and grittiness that I have come to love. Their name says it all. These are sleazy, fun exploitation films that make Florida seem even more dangerous than any twenty-four hour news cycle could ever imagine. They wear their influences on their sleeves, but they are not pulling from your typical pool of influential movie directors. Directors like Bruno Mattei and Todd Sheets have made major impressions on these guys and it shows up in a glorious way. Their most recent effort, Chaos A.D., is no exception. We are treated again to an ultra-violent world of naked ladies, over the top gore and way too much of actor Bob Glazier’s anatomy.
The story takes place on Halloween night and we are introduced to a housewife, a brother and sister and a hooker loving politician. Each of our central characters are kidnapped by a gang of viciously perverse weirdos that are ready to celebrate the night with torture and murder. Once our protagonists are forced into their world, its a non-stop game of blood thirsty cat and mouse.
Having seen all of Sleaze Box’s releases this film is a big leap in production and sets. Most of their films have been pretty minimalists, but they seem to go out of their way to mix things up this time around. Also, Chris Woods spends more time developing characters and establishing who these folks are. Ashley Lynn Caputo really shines as a housewife with a secret and I cannot believe how well she plays her role. Both her and Bob Glazier steal every scene they are in, not to mention giving brave (nudity filled) performances. Overall, the acting is pretty great. Most of these actors have worked with Sleaze Box before and seem to have a level of comfort that is rarely seen in no-budget filmmaking. My only complaint is very minor. The runtime is a little longer than expected, but luckily it doesn’t feel too padded. I just prefer these types of movies to be shorter and more briskly paced. Besides running a little long, this is another great “gore and gals” roughie that lives up to its provocative title. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the few who dig this kind of unapologetically filthy filmakking will love the shit out of Chaos A.D. The film has not been released yet, but is currenly available to pre-order at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/chaos-a-d#/
Holy Shit! Another year has come and gone and now its time to see which films rose above the rest. This year’s list includes all of the blood, guts and nudity that you would expect. But don’t worry, I included a few “classier” flicks for all you college grads out there.
15. The Duke of Burgundy (Directed by Peter Strickland)
A cold and confounding movie about a woman obsessed with moths who tests the limits of her relationship with her lover. An exercise in obsession and repetition, that is worth enduring.
14. Tantrum (Directed by James Bell)
There are a lot of words that can be used to describe Mr Bell’s most recent film, but there is one that I keep using: indescribable. Not narrowly fitting into any real genre of horror or scene. It blurs the line between avant garde film experiment and performance art in a masterful way.
13. Girlhood (Directed by Céline Sciamma)
On top of covering the usual coming of age drama, there is a naturalness that feels so real and universal. From the boring technical side it is nearly perfect. Camerawork is impeccable and its pace is perfectly meandering. The film may suffer from an unfortunate title, but hopefully people will see it without the looming Boyhood comparison.
12. Death-Scort Service (Directed by Sean Donohue)
A fun throwback to blood, guts and boobs. The sleaziest film of 2015 and should not be missed.
11. Circus Of The Dead (Directed by Billy Pon)
Great sense of direction and great acting by Bill Oberst Jr and company. Also, some of the most enjoyable gore gags in years. When it finally gets a release, it is worth a look.
10. R100 (Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto)
Like a blend of Quentin Dupieux and Sion Sono, with a little Bunuel on the side. I can’t decide if anything or everything matters (in this film) but there is something so unique and appealing about this film that really sticks with you.
9. Headless (Directed by Arthur Cullipher)
Found was one of my favorite movies of last year and this “lost slasher” is a excellent companion piece. Great effects, fun acting and some of the nastiest kills in the history of cinema.
8. Der Samurai (Directed by Till Kleinert)
A spectacularly violent and mysterious film that feels both existential and playful throughout its run time. This is the kind of movie that requires multiple viewings to truly grasp.
7. Flowers (Directed by Phil Stevens)
This is the kind of film that is missing from underground horror lately. A grotesque, but beautifully shot film that mutely tells the story of 6 women and their murderer.
6. Androgynym (Directed by Nick Iway)
This is a brave movie that does not gloss over things like addiction, loss and self identity. In fact, it barrels itself directly at it. There are scenes of extreme and shocking violence, but I hope they do not overshadow the beautiful experience that is Androgynym
5. The Interior (Directed by Trevor Juras)
There is very little when it comes to plot or story and instead focuses on the existential horror of being a young man who may not live long enough to figure out what he wants in life. That is much scarier to me than monsters or masked killers and there is no place better to experience this than deep inside of nature.
In the year 1997…
This is the movie that captures nostalgia without coming off as pandering.
A beautifully shot genre bending project from the guys who brought us Resolution.
2. Bone Tomahawk (Directed by S. Craig Zahler)
If there was any justice in this world this film would sweep the Oscars. From best screenplay to best supporting actor, this film would win it all. This first time effort is everything that a fan of cinema could ask for.
1. The Tribe (Directed by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky)
“Don’t tell me, show me!” That is my battle cry when watching movies and this film couldn’t tell you if it wanted to. If you do not already know, this movie is told entirely through Ukrainian sign language with no subtitles or voiceover. It is an unsettling, unique experience that cannot be compared to anything else. A great example of how a film can transcend genre and language to stands on its own.
Some honorable mentions: Metalhead, The World Of Kanako, Mad Max: Fury Road and Under The Rainbow
Thanks for checking out my list! Now let us know some of your picks in the comments below!
Lead Writer for Mondo McLaren
My favorite thing about being a genre fan is that there is never a shortage of strange, interesting movies to check out. Every few months I stumble on an oddity filled to the brim with bizarre, original material that reinvigorates my interest and sends me back to the web to find that next hidden gem. This current gem that I am discussing is this year’s Franklin: A Symphony Of Pain. It is a psychedelic freakout of faith, sex, torture and self-realization that is unlike anything that you have ever experienced. The director (Jeremy Westrate) takes the “kitchen sink” approach to storytelling and packs more ideas into this film than a corporate think tank. In case I am not being clear, this is an ambitious and absolutely batshit crazy flick that needs to be seen to be believed.
This won’t be easy, but I am going to attempt to explain the basic story. The titular Franklin spends a day out in nature and is quickly abducted by masked occultists who torture and exploit our protagonists until he submits to his pain. After waking in a new location, he is then assaulted by foul-mouthed 60’s “street toughs” who then beat the breaks off of him again. These run-ins repeat to differing effect and are inter-cut with hellish vignettes and dialogue with a less than comforting priest.
Each scene reveals a little hint of the developing story and is accompanied by a maddening score of both classical and pop-inspired music. Colors shift, as well as perspectives and the camera never sits in any kind of static state. “Break neck” is how I would describe its pace. With this kind of experimental filmmaking, not everything works. There are some scenes that may feel a little indulgent, but with a film like this, it is expected. Actors can be middling to cartoonish, but good writing and spot on camera work makes up for the performer’s shortcomings. There is very little to compare this film to and that (in itself) is a great reason I recommend this movie. If you like acid trip cinematography mixed with absurd levels of violence, then this is the flick for you. Franklin: A Symphony Of Pain is currently available on DVD and Vimeo.
Cannibal films have always held a very special place in my heart. These sleazy, gory films always resonated with me and in the early 2000’s I made it a point to hunt down as many as possible. From the great (Cannibal Holocaust, Man From Deep River) to the nearly unwatchable (Mondo Cannibal, Zombie Holocaust), I enjoyed the hell out of them all. Each movie had its own strange charm, mixing old school adventure with extreme violence. I would spend my time and money tracking down any italian movie with the word “Cannibal” in its title and wait for whatever bad VHS rip to come in the mail. Each film had its own take, but they all shared a structure that felt like home. Each would present a situation to get people in the jungle, a reason they would be captured and (most importantly) a reason to be eaten.
The obtuse dubbing and paint-red blood only added to my newly found obsession. But, like all obsessions, you eventually drain the well. I checked out a handful of recent movies that attempted to mine these ideas, but most failed and just presented neutered interpretations of what we had seen many times before. It was only a matter of time before someone was going to do it right and luckily Eli Roth came along and fulfilled my hopes. I am happy to say that The Green Inferno is the real deal! His premise is familiar, but avoids being just a cash in on nostalgia. Mr. Roth contextualizes and updates the subject matter without losing the spirit of those early Italian films. Its not perfect, but neither are those classic Amazon flicks of the late seventies and early eighties.
The movie is set in the modern world of armchair activists and introduces us to Justine (Lorenza Izzo). She is a freshman in college who is looking for where she fits in the world and falls in with a group of activists with big plans. The group’s leader, played brilliantly by Ariel Levy, puts together a plan to go to Peru and defend an isolated tribe that is being threatened by oil companies. Once there, things go awry and the group eventually falls into the hands (and teeth) of brutal cannibals.
The standout of this movie is the unrelenting violence and I was surprised to see this kind of visceral action on a big screen. The kills are brutal and funny, hitting that sweet spot that avoids being too mean-spirited or ugly. The director is familiar enough with the genre to understand what makes it great. You have to be allowed to laugh when presented with such grim situations or it becomes a chore to watch. The gags are nihilistic, but in a way that feels therapeutic and liberating,
With all that said, I do have a couple small quibbles with Roth’s latest movie. The camera work (especially in the first act) is shaky and full of quick cuts that can be a little exhausting to watch. The biggest issue that I had was with some of the digital effects. The realism and complete immersion is interrupted a couple of times by terrible CGI that looks unpolished and sloppy. But like I said, its not perfect but it is a lot fun. I know the horror fanboys love to hate Eli Roth, but The Green Inferno should shut them up, at least for a while. Its been a long time since Hostel 2, but this one was worth the wait. It is currently available in wide release.