Archive for the 'Horror movies' Category

Dec

Christmas Evil
“Better Watch Out… Better Not Cry… Or You May DIE!”

1980 – R – 100 Minutes – Vinegar Syndrome
Starring Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey Demunn, Dianne Hull – Directed by Lewis Jackson

The idea of Santa Claus is pretty creepy once you start to think about it. I mean, a man who wears the same suit every day of his life and shakes like a bowl full of jelly watches kids and everything they do every single day of the year, then if they are “good”, he breaks into their home to leave them gifts. And we actually let children believe this! That’s pretty horrific, but perhaps something more horrific than that would be a man driven so insane by the cheerfulness of jolly ol’ Saint Nick that he starts to believe his is Santa Claus!

Oh yeah, there’s a movie for that. Christmas Evil or as the title card would suggest, You Better Watch Out. Actually, that’s the title of the film. It was later changed before release to Christmas Evil to seem more appealing to the slasher crowds that were booming at the time. This debately only hurt the film over time, but luckily due to Synapse putting the DVD out a few years ago and now Vinegar Syndrome just recently releasing it on Blu-ray, it seems to be finding a bigger audience every year. It’s what John Waters calls “the greatest Christmas movie ever,” so let’s check it out.

On a totally unrelated note, star of the film, Brandon Maggart, is the father of Fiona Apple. Remember her?

ce_2Late Christmas Eve in 1947, young Harry sneaks from his room to see Santa, which is really his father dressed up, licking his mom’s leg like a lollipop. This sight is so traumatic that he smashes a snow globe open and gouges his hand with a shard of the broken glass. Cut to (non pun intended) present day 1980 and Harry is obsessed with Santa. You know those older guys that still collect toys (guilty) or are so obsessed with Spider-Man or something and they still wear the pajamas, watch the cartoons all day and hum the little jingles? That’s Harry. Thankfully, the guy doesn’t go around in public wearing his Santa jammies. He does, however, wear them inside his all year around Christmas decorated home. It’s kinda like the Cracker Barrel if they decorated for Christmas every single day of the year.

Harry also happened to land himself a supervisor position at the toy factory he works at, Jolly Dreams. It’s a non-union job, so nobody listens to him, treat him like crap and look down at him for taking the position, like he betrayed the other workers. But he’s still a good guy that he even takes crummy worker Frank’s shift for him that evening. Luckily, he has his hobbies to take his mind off things, like spying on the neighborhood kids from the rooftop with binoculars, jotting down who’s being a good or bad boy or girl in his naughty or nice books, of which he has several. Oh yeah, he’s been doing this for a long time. You may want to take a break from the film to scrub yourself clean right now.

Heading home from a long day at work, he spots Frank, the co-worker who shift he covered, getting nice and drunk and calling Harry a shmuck. Harry heads home in a hurry for some therapeutic squeezing a toy soldier until it breaks while humming a Christmas tune as he increasingly becomes more anxious doing so. Ah, doesn’t that feel better?

ce_3Thanksgiving passes, Harry blows off his brother Phil (played by Jeffrey DeMunn) and his wife and two kids, and his company’s Christmas party is in full swing. And brother, is it swinging! White people be getting drunk up in there! Through a televised announcement, Harry learns that Jolly Dreams will be donating toys to less fortunate kids, but only if profits increase. Harry asks his supervisors about how many toys are being donated and if all of the kids will receive something, but they don’t seem to care. But what of the little children and their toys? Harry decides to step in and take action! While the party is still in full effect, he marches right on down to the assembly and steals toys to give to the good boys and girls. Call the guy a shmuck all you want, but he has a good heart.

But if you are gonna play the part of Santa, you may as well become Santa. Harry finally melts down, making toys down in his basement, gluing a beard to his face and dressing in full Santa garb. He packs the toys in his van and does what would be considered the most charitable thing a man could do, if you didn’t know he was totally bonkers, and drops off toys to Willowy Springs State Hospital. It’s actually a very heartwarming moment to think those kids were just given a Christmas by a total stranger who cares about their well being, but then you start to dial that thought back once the night further unfolds.

Stopping by at a nearby church after mass where a few of his supervisors are attending, Harry waits outside for the place to empty with a glare Jack Torrence would shudder at. As the crowd exits, Harry starts to make a move toward his bosses, but is stopped by some yuppies, none of which are Patrick Bateman. They taunt and tease Harry, but he has more than toys in his sack! Jabbing one of their eyes out with a toy soldier, he then proceeds to hack them to death with a rather festive looking Hatchet and darts off into the night, taking cover in a Christmas party and giving the most chilling Santa speech to some children. Good thing Billy from Silent Night, Deadly Night was someplace else.

ce_4The night is still young and Santa’s work isn’t over. Harry stops by Frank’s house, first by trying to squeeze through the chimney, further validating his insanity and giving a claustrophobic like me anxiety. Realizing that won’t work, he breaks into Frank’s home like a normal person, through the door, dropping off some toys for his children under the tree… then paying a visit to Frank himself, who is tucked in bed, fast asleep next to his wife. Harry gives another dark speech, then tries to smother him to death with a pillow, but ultimately slashing Frank’s neck with a Christmas ornament, which is more fitting. Tis the season afterall.

Phil knows something is wrong when Harry (who is busting up toys at Jolly Dreams) is absent on Christmas day and comes to the realization that his brother is the psycho-Santa he heard about on the news. Later in the evening, Harry’s van breaks down on the wrong side of town… the kind where apparently they have frequent Frankenstein’s monster problems as he finds himself being chased by a torch carrying mob after his cover is blown. He manages to escape and seeks help from Phil, who greets him by strangling Harry over what he’s done and drags him back into his van. However, Harry isn’t dead and knocks his brother down with a punch and speeds off just as the lynch mob is catching up. Phil chases on foot only to witness what is debateably among fans either a miracle or a tragedy; Harry swerves to dodge the mob, only to have his van crash off a bridge as it soars into the sky as he recites the final lines ‘To All a Goodnight’. Did his van crash off the bridge, killing Harry or did he actually become Santa and soar into the sky? The sound certainly sounds like a crash, but the look on Phil’s face says otherwise… that is left up to the viewer, which ultimately makes for a better ending.

Christmas Evil is kinda like the Taxi Driver of Christmas. You watch as a man being bullied by coworkers, surrounded by greedy people who don’t care about the less fortunate, basically completely overwhelmed by the scum of the Earth as the needy are laughed at, loses his mind. He goes so far over the edge to actually believe he is Santa, much like Travis saw the same atrocities and believed himself to be some sort of equalizer or cleanser. Brandon Maggart’s performance as Harry is downright unnerving, as you watch a normal man who isn’t all there, be pushed over the edge to the point of no return. You feel sad for him, but your feelings are put to question once you begin to realize how sick he is and what he is doing is wrong. You want to help him, then he murders a few people and you aren’t sure how to feel. But that’s what the filmmaker was going for. This is more of a character piece than it is a slasher. And that’s a common misconception most people have with this film and as I stated earlier, it could be due to the way the movie was marketed, is that it’s viewed as a slasher, when it really isn’t. Sure it has slasher like elements and he slashes a few people, but the overall arch is about Harry’s fall into madness.

Christmas Evil
It’s a great film, swimming with two kinds of mood; the kind that gets you geared up and excited for the holidays and the other kind that sends shivers down your spine and cautious of anyone that is dressed like Santa Claus. The festive Christmas lights against the dark sky as Harry stands in the cold night, breath visibly exhaling from his body, in a dirty Santa suit is one of the scariest images I can think of. Although the pacing itself is slow and there isn’t much gore, there is still a chilling and shocking story to find here. Give yourself a gift this year and watch what is probably the best Christmas movie of all time. Eat it, A Christmas Story!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • A Travis Bickle Christmas.
  • Fiona Apple’s dad.
  • Crazy-Claus
  • Eye see toy soldiers.
  • Hatchet induced migraines.
  • Christmas star throat slashing.
  • Full size van sleigh.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

The eye gouge and hatcheting are heavily cut, but there is still some there to be enjoyed. Someone’s on the MPAA’s naughty list.

2

blood

BREASTS

No bewbs this Christmas, but a little leg.

10

beast

BEASTS

You better be good or else Santa will come for you.

6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer!

trailers

dripper
Nov

Burial Ground
“The earth shall tremble…. graves shall open…. they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nights of terror…. “Profecy of the Black Spider”

1981 – Unrated – 86 Minutes – Shriek Show
Starring Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Peter Bark – Directed by Andrea Bianchi

If there is one thing I love about Italiansploitation films (that’s Italian made exploitation films, which I’m sure you were able to figure out), it’s that they would take a preposterous idea seriously while having fun with it. Sometimes without even knowing that’s what they are doing. The producers tell them that the Dawn of the Dead movie is popular, so crank out a zombie flick as fast as you can. Someone writes a script over a lonely, drunken weekend, turns it in and the first director that says they can make it on the lowest budget wins. The gore is ramped up, a few quirky and disturbing character traits are added and the film is cast. Everything is turned up to ten. The actors take their roles very seriously and put their heart and soul into it. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to notice once these films are atrociously dubbed. The film is then haphazardly cut together in a short amount of time and released to your local grindhouse theater the next day for your viewing pleasure. Nethertheless, once those credits start rolling, you aren’t sure what the hell you just experienced, but you loved it.

I have no evidence to back this up, mind you. It’s something I’ve gathered from watching bonus features, reading stories and the overall impression I’m left with once the film is over.

Burial Ground comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Everything about this film is poorly executed, so why do I love it so much? I should hate this film by all accounts, but I don’t. It’s a film that you can’t really talk about or review without putting it under a microscope and fully analyzing it. So hunker down, this is gonna be a long review. I know what you are thinking, “Didn’t you already review a movie called Nights of Terror?” Well, no. That movie was Rats: Night of Terror. This movie’s subtitle is Nights, with an ’s’, plural, which is actually quite stupid since the film only takes place during one night. But seeing as how Night was already taken… or maybe they are being extremely technical since the opening of the film does take place on the evening before, but I don’t think they took that into consideration.

bg_2Mall Santa by day, back up ZZ Top member by night, Professor… ? (they just call him Professor or “the” Professor if they are being polite or perhaps in some cruel ironic ploy, his name actually was Professor) has just discovered the secret! A secret so secretive that it will be never be revealed what it is or even brought up by anyone again. He then wanders out to some tomb not to far from his mansion where zombies begin to rise and immediately eat him and by eat him I mean they rub identifiable lumps of gore all over their faces to mimic eating, even after his pleas that he is their friend.

First thing you are gonna notice about these zombies is that there seems to be a mix of pretty decent zombie makeup and some of the worst looking zombies you’ve seen. The makeup job can get so bad, that you can see the actors eyes and lips through the masks, even on a low quality VHS. The second thing you’ll notice is how slow they are are. And when I say slow, I mean S-L-O-O-O-O-W. Crawling doesn’t even define it. These zombies move so slow, you’ll think you’re watching a scene in slow motion. You have to wonder how they ever catch their victims to eat, but luckily we have a smorgasbord of daft idiots for them to feast on and I’m not sure where any of these people are in relation to the Professor, since it’s never really addressed (maybe as colleagues in passing, but I can’t recall). The stand out character from this group is Michael, played by Peter Bark, for a reason that will become glaringly obvious the split second he is on screen; he’s a dwarf in his mid 20’s with a bad toupee playing a ten year old. And if that isn’t creepy enough for you, he also has sexual feelings toward his mother.

Anyway, this evenly matched man to woman crew has returned after six months and what’s the first thing they do? Sex! Yeah, the film certainly knows how to maintain your attention, as you watch each of the three couples foreplay, until Michael interrupts his mother, Evelyn’s. She stands there totally nude, inquisiting the young lad about what he is doing, which I’m sure is in no way sexually confusing to the already sexually confused deviant. Without getting to far ahead of myself or psychoanalyzing the character, Evelyn seems to be sexually confused about her son as well, but it’s (surprisingly) more subtle.

The useless blonde archetype of the group, Janet, can’t help but feel that they are all in danger and wants to warn the others, but is discouraged by her lover Mark. The good ol’ ‘Prophet of Doom’. Most of these Italian films had them, even if they don’t fit into the story, like why is she suddenly getting these feelings? It’s never explained, so let’s move on to the next morning, where after some finely placed J&B Scotch product placement, we are finally giving a brief, but not open ended explanation as to why the zombies have risen.

bg_3The Professor was studying ‘the black arts’. There ya go.

And this is why all of the characters are here. This is what the Professor wanted to tell them. A simple phone call or letter would not do. Well, we needed a reason to group a bunch of dimwits together for a zombie, gut munching gore fest, so now we have one.

Now that all (and I do mean all) of the exposition is out of the way, we can move on to more exploitation! Each of the couples separate to do their own hobbies, like sketching, photography or George teaching Evelyn to fire a handgun (which, again, never comes back in the film, so take that, Chekhov’s gun!) Ultimately, all of these activities lead to heavy petting, leaving these fools to be distracted as the zombies emerge from the tomb and attack the profusely stupid and conveniently distracted couples. Janet and Mark are the first two to be attacked and although they aren’t sure what to make of the creatures, Mark intelligently states that, “Whatever they are, they aren’t human!” Thanks Mark, I wasn’t able to figure that out. As they escape, Janet runs around screaming and flailing, making Olive Oil look dignified, manages to get herself caught in a bear trap. Wait, why the hell is there a bear trap randomly placed there. Did I say bear? I mean’t nimrod trap.

Meanwhile, George is trying to seduce Evelyn, even while Michael is in the room (which I’m sure seeing random dudes grind on his mom is in no way adding to those sexual feelings toward her…). In a disturbing turn of the scene, Michael manages to gain his mother’s attention by finding a cloth, commenting that it smells like death, then showing George how to really seduce a woman as he kisses his mom’s hand all over while staring right into George’s eyes as if saying, “Yeah punk, let me show you how it’s done. I know what my mom likes!” I can’t believe I had to write that. This movie is making me feel ill.

Luckily before things go any further and turns into some weird fetish films, the zombies attack, killing George leaving Evelyn and Michael to defend themselves by throwing paint on the zombies and setting them on fire. James and Leslie, the other couple (sorry, that’s the best description I have for them) manage to save them in time, as they also previously saved Mark and Janet. They group takes shelter inside the house, with what looks like very helpful stage direction from a zombie who points for them to run in a certain direction. Finally inside with the butler and maid, Nicholas and Kathleen, they decide it’s best to check out the rest of the house to make sure it’s safe. Mark heroically volunteers defenseless Kathleen to go search the entire house by herself. Sorry lady, but we can’t spare any of these several people sitting around. After searching the house for a bit, Kathleen finds an open window to close on the second floor, but that doesn’t stop these zombies. These zombies are ninja like experts with their precise accuracy as one throws a tent spike right into her hand, pinning her in her spot and leaving them time to slowly cut off her head with a scythe, making this what could be the best zombie kill in a movie.

bg_4These zombies may look laughably stupid, but they know how to organize. Arming themselves with weapons from a nearby and conveniently placed tool shed, they march to the front door and begin smashing on it with tools. However James, who inexplicably now has a shotgun, starts blowing their heads off from an open window. Even these zombies aren’t that stupid, as after about a dozen of them have their brains reduced to mush, they begin to retreat. The group feels they are now safe for the night and Leslie heads off to find some bandages for Janet’s wounded leg, only to be jumped from a zombie outside as she passes a window, who uses a broken shard of glass to push through her brain. This calls for all the other zombies to infiltrate like a SWAT team and attack helpless Janet in a scene that feels like it goes on forever, until the others reappear and fight back.

That was pretty tense! I think everyone needs a break. As they all sit around and rest up, Michael uses this time to make a move on his mom by kissing her and groping, adding a whole new definition to breastfeeding, which she sickly seems to be going with, but snaps out of it and slaps him across the face and immediately apologizes. Yeah this kid is gonna be messed up for the rest of his life, which coincidentally isn’t too much longer. He darts off only to have his arm devoured by a zombie Leslie, who I thought had glass stabbed through her brain (but, how did she turn if she wasn’t bit?). Evelyn finds the now dead Michael and bashes zombie Leslie’s head up against a bathtub, leaking all kinds of grossly colored juices.

No time for mourning your weirdo son, lady. The zombies have made a homemade battering ram (holy moly, they are resourceful) and have broken down the door! If only they were really slow moving and weak, then maybe they would have a chance of escaping… instead the remaining survivors hide until morning when Janet spots what looks like a monk heading inside the tomb. Monks? Sure why not! I’m sure they are down right neighborly and will offer shelter and help or, as it turns out, they are zombies and kill James upon seeing him, who almost immediately rises from the dead.

So what are the qualifications for becoming a zombie in this movie? Do you or don’t you have to get bit? How long does it take? Who cares! Zombies, right?

The final three realize they are locked in the tomb’s… workshed? Yeah, why does this place have a workshed? I guess when monks and the Professor aren’t studying the black arts, they are heavy into home repair. I’m sure a workshed is in no way a setup for the final act and our remaining victim’s fate (wow, I am using a lot of sarcasm in this review). Michael returns as a zombie, with a whole new arm somehow and a nipple bite later, Janet and Mark are being surrounded and being pushed headfirst into saw blades. The movie closes on a freeze frame, telling of a “profecy” of a “nigths” and that’s not a typo on my part.

So the movie ends about as well as you thought it would. With obviously glaring typos over the survivors’ demise.

bg_5If it weren’t for the time that this movie was made, I would have sworn this is a spoof, otherwise there would be no explanation as to how bad things are in this movie. Complaints about some of the terrible and revealing makeup aside (at least during the close ups), these zombies are incredibly slow moving and weak. In order to make them a menace, the characters in this film are written to a point of stupidity so insane, that it is fiction. Nothing anyone does is something anything with a pulse would do. They stand around looking puzzled as zombies slowly shuffle toward them, then while escaping, they run head first into the undead, even though they have plenty of space to run around them. Of course, most zombie films are guilty of this, but here it’s overplayed. Thankfully, it plays for laughs and sheer entertainment. With the exception of Michael, I can’t say anything positive about the other characters. There is simply nothing to them, except to be a meal for the zombies. I’m not expecting deep character development, but literally all of these characters are the same. The guys are all faux masculine and the women just cry. In some sort of sick ironic sense, if it weren’t for Michael, there wouldn’t be any reason to watch these buffoons.

Playful jabs aside, the film isn’t horribly directed. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider it to be beautiful like a Mario Bava film or something like Fulci’s The Beyond, but mood is well established and the shots frame everything well to capture what is going on. The soundtrack is… interesting to say the least. It’s no Harry Manfredini score, but it’s odd keyboard ‘pokes’ and tense violin strings do accompany the film extremely well. And the gore. Oh yes, the gore. There is more than enough here to satisfy any like minded horror fan as these poor chumps are ripped apart and have their guts devoured, body parts torn or cut off and even the zombies themselves get their head smashed to bits. Also, I know I joked about some of the makeup looking pretty bad and it can be, but there are some good looking zombies thrown in, complete with maggot covered faces and all. And I do have to say, it’s refreshing to see zombies use some tools for a change and instead of mindlessly lumbering around, these zombies actually had something of a plan and did what they could to do it. I was often reminded of the first zombie encountered in Night of the Living Dead who uses a brick. There are very few breaks in between the carnage for you to sit back and relax, as something is always out to get you. Even the dubbing is fitting for the film. It’s as atrocious as you would expect (especially Peter Bark’s voice over) from an Italiansploitation film, yet it somehow fits into all of this.

Ever hear the phrase ’so bad it’s good?’ Well, this is what the are referring to when they say that. This is a movie that by all accounts (the special effects, acting, directing, etc.) should be a bad film, but it isn’t. Everything that is bad is what makes this film good. Laying beneath its serious demeanor is a smirk of devilish charm, a film that is (or at least it must be) self aware and having some fun with you. Underneath all the layers of cheese is a delicious blend of fun and hokiness. Burial Ground is what I consider to be the definitive example of the Italian zombie genre of the 80’s. It’s not revered as a classic in the way that George Romero’s earlier zombie flicks are, but the film is looked as a classic in terms of what to expect from an exploitation film of this genre.

Burial Ground
I really could go on forever about Burial Ground, but I think it’s easiest, and probably the best, to say you need to see it. I don’t think you can consider yourself to be a zombie fan or Italian film fan until you do.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • ZZ Top devoured.
  • Michael.
  • Sexy sexiness sex.
  • Bear trap troubles.
  • Maid decap attack.
  • Better Home and Garden, zombie edition.
  • Mother lover.
  • Home improvement, monk edition.
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Guts are eaten, heads are cut off, limbs are devoured, flesh is rotten… has the world gone mad!?

7

blood

BREASTS

Lots of nudity and sex… and the most uncomfortable breastfeeding.

5

beast

BEASTS

Slow moving, but not entirely braindead.

7.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer!

trailers

dripper
Nov

Werewolf Woman
“A true story so brutal and horrifying it was kept from the public for over a century!”

1976 – NR – 79 Minutes – Raro Video
Starring Annik Borel, Howard Ross, Dagmar Lassander – Directed by Rino Di Silvestro

You know what I think of when I think ‘werewolf’? Freakishly long nipples. That’s right, the kind you can hang coat hangers from. Yeah, Werewolf Woman isn’t your typical werewolf movie in the slightest. For starters, there isn’t really a werewolf in it or anything that would really qualify being of lycanthrope, definitely nothing you would consider especially by today’s standards. No hunky, shirtless teen dudes that travel with a pack of other shirtless hunky dudes battling for the love of an emotionless plank of wood (my apologies to planks of wood everywhere). Instead, what is presented here is a woman out of her gord, biting the neck of just about everyone she encounters for the first half of the movie. The movie has plenty of throat rips that put Patrick Swayze to shame. Then it becomes an odd amalgamation of other genres and goes back to kind of being a werewolf movie.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you all about it!

Daniela can’t stop having feverish dreams of an ancestor she believes to be a werewolf. She believes this, because in her dreams she sees her (or herself) dancing, fully nekkid, in a way that can only be described as losing your balance while trying to avoid a bee. She then transforms into a werewolf! Or at least what $20 worth of cheap Halloween store makeup and dog shavings will get you. Seriously, the werewolf effect here is passible for the world’s best Chewbacca costume on the smallest budget. As the narrator goes on about how a werewolf hunts during the full moon, as she pounces on a torch carrying villager and bites his throat. The rest of the villagers capture her and torch her at the stake. Was that the answer to every problem back then? Just burn it on a stake?

ww_2Daniela’s father, Count Neseri, is keeping a close eye on her since she was traumatically raped and she happened upon an ancestor’s journal, detailing the previously told events and believing herself to curse. Daniela, in her shocked state, believed every word of it. You see, back then, reading something in a journal was like believing everything you read on the internet.

As if believing you are a werewolf wasn’t a big enough problem, her sister Elena (played by Dagmar Lassander, the grouchy real estate lady from The House by the Cemetery) and husband Fabian visit from school where she studies nuclear physics. Seriously, that’s what she says. At first I thought she was going to turn her sister in to some sort of radioactive werewolf monster, but I’m going to crush that dream for all of us right now and tell you that doesn’t happen. That evening, Daniela flashbacks to the villagers burning (and iguanas… because it all ties together?) her at the stake and one of them looks just like Fabian. Daniela peeks in on the Elena and Fabian knocking boots and becomes aroused by it and takes care of ‘business’.

So at this point, you’re watching a woman masturbate while she watches her sister have sex. Feeling dirty, yet?

Fabian catches her and darts off to find her, which I have to wonder what kind of questions he has for her or do you think… no, that would be gross! He finds her outside where she successfully seduces him, taps into her werewolf ancestry and bites his throat out!

ww_3Daniela’s constant hallucinations land her strapped to a bed in the looney bin, where a nymphotic patient wanders about trying to mount everything that walks by. Well, even if it doesn’t walk. I guess it just needs a pulse (which is a good thing, because I just reviewed NEKRomantik) as she begins groping and kissing Daniela, who manages to convince the patient to unstrap her from the bed and repays her by biting her throat out.

The film wanders into slasher territory for a moment when she spies on a young couple then kills the girl by (would anyone like to guess?) biting her throat. Later, police begin to see a connection between this murder and Fabian’s, along with Daniela’s escape and the murdered patient, making these police look more competent than Chief Wiggum. Knowing that someone would notice a woman covered in blood a mile away, Daniela steals some clothes only to get spotted a moment later and murdering a few other sleaze bags that try to pick her up. Well, so much for that plan!

But not all guys are sleazy, as friendly Luca offers her a home cooked meal and a bed to sleep in without sex, which is odd considering he is played by Howard Ross who played the sleaziest character of all time, Mickey Scellenda, in The New York Ripper. As it turns out, this is just what Daniela needs to overcome her trauma, as she and Luca fall in love and do romantic things like laugh, eat dinner and reenact getting shot on a bell tower and falling on a crash mat… oh, I forgot to mention that he’s a stuntman, so it makes sense.

She realizes she can never leave Luca or their quaint little home, so she calls her father and apologizes for the murders and is never coming home. Since she apologized, I guess that means it’s okay to move on with her life, but history has a tragic way of repeating itself. A group of greasy, disgusting mean have been following her around, breaking into her home at night while Luca is away, raping her and killing Luca upon his return while trying to fight them off.

ww_4Being that it’s the 70’s and the rape/revenge genre is popular, Daniela doesn’t take this sitting down. She tracks her tormentors down, not unlike a feral creature would do and gives them their comeuppance. Maybe that’s the werewolf tie-in to this section? At first I was rooting for her to get her revenge, but then I remembered this was the woman who murdered innocent people by biting them to death. I’m not saying what she did here isn’t justified nor was what happened deserved, but it’s hard to see her as an anti-hero instead of a murderer. The police put all of this together and finally track Daniela down and things end rather, eh, anti-climatically, leaving you without a bang, but not exactly a whimper. It just doesn’t feel like it was all paid off.

So, you may have some questions. The main and most obvious one being, why was this called Werewolf Woman when it didn’t predominantly feature said werewolf? To possibly offer an answer, because it’s an Italian exploitation film that wanted to exploit several genres so it could be marketed to several different audiences. It feels like the same story is being told through several different genres that doesn’t blend well together. It starts off as a werewolf movie, moving on to slasher, then adds a rape/revenge element. Heck, there are even possession type elements thrown in (after all, The Exorcist was popular at the time). It doesn’t become a mess or incoherent to the point where it’s unwatchable or not understandable, which is odd since it does seem to be able to tell the same story without making it confusing, although at times you will have the thought, “wasn’t this a werewolf movie?” from time to time. The plot about her ancestor being a werewolf is enough of a story to base an entire film on, but this movie tends to overcompensate that, leading into several other side plots that, honestly, it could do without. It’s like the filmmakers wanted to exploit several of the exploitation genres at once, instead of making several different movies. The Howling or An American Werewolf in London this ain’t. Although instead of Sybil Danning dancing around a fire nude, you get Annik Borel, which is a fair trade.

Raro Video offers this new Blu-ray transfer, which does look pretty dang good, but not the best a transfer could be. Some parts still are quite noticeably grainy and scenes look dull at times, but luckily the cinematography is really nice to distract you from that. The audio, however, is nicely cleaned in 2.0 Mono in both Italian and English. Believe it or not, this can offer you two different viewing experiences, since the dubbing in English is laughably atrocious, it’s best to watch in Italian with the English dubs. There isn’t much in the way of bonus features, just about a twenty minute interview with director Rino Di Silvestro in Italian, but dubbed in English and a theatrical trailer.

Werewolf Woman
This is a film with just enough sleaze to make only make you feel uncomfortable when you stop and think about it. It’s a very well told story, even if it can’t decide which genre it wants to be. Maybe that was the way to go about it though. It leaves several different impressions in my head, all of them pretty good. I should also point out that the foxy Annik Borel spends a good amount of time in the movie completely nekkid. It’s the right kind of Euro-trash that’s got enough nudity, blood and a bizarre storyline that never reaches a ludicrous point, but just enough to make it satisfactory. However, this makes it unappealing to your average movie goer, since they now all expect werewolves to be shirtless, hunky dudes tied up in a love triangle (well, this story offers some of those).

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Werewolf on a were-budget.
  • Dirty sister secrets.
  • Lunatic throat lunging lycanthrope!
  • Never a never-nude.
  • Patrick Swayze Throat Rip Fan Club.
  • Werewolf revenge.
  • Naked fire dancing.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Teeth marks, chunks of flesh ripped and a man set on fire, but no mangled corpses.

9

blood

BREASTS

Annik Borel fully nude for a good portion of the film is more than enough for any creep.

6

beast

BEASTS

Sure that werewolf is laughably silly, but Daniela is a woman scorned with a deadly bite.

6.6 OVERALL
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Oct

NEKRomantik
“Death is just the Beginning.”

1988 – NR – 71 Minutes – Cult Epics
Starring Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt – Directed by Jorg Buttgeriet

Everyone has a fetish or a fear. Some are, to say the least, weird and that’s putting it lightly. Having sex with dead bodies? Yeah, that’s… that’s definitely weird. To center your movie around it? Yup, totally weird. So you can see why a movie called NEKRomantik, a title that implies romance with necrophilia, would be controversial. Now that I mention it, this is quite a controversial movie and rightfully so. It’s one of the few films that has earned it’s reputation and status alongside something like Salo. It’s a movie that starts with a crudely hand written warning and then on to something even more memorable…

And what better way to start off your film with an old woman pissing (talking about leaving an everlasting first impression, movie). To be fair, that’s lightly setting the tone for this film and things get a whole hell of a lot harder to watch. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband drive their car off the side of the road and die in a horrific accident. The next morning, Joe’s Cleaning Agency is called to the scene to clean up the grisly mangled bodies. Seems like something the police coroners would do, but then again this is Germany. Among these fellows is Rob, who really seems to love his job due to his ghastly obsession; necrophilia! This job allows Rob to take things from the scenes, like an organ here or there (you know, nothing that would clearly be missing…). He brings these home to add to his collection he and his girlfriend Betty have. Yes, even these two managed to find each. I wonder if there is a dating website for necrophiliacs?

nek_2While Betty baths in blood, Rob sits on the bed and plays with human organs while watching a program about overcoming phobias, which coincidentally enough does poetically tie into the film some way. While watching the program, Rob has a flashback of an older man who we assume is his father butchering his pet rabbit when he was a child. I have to admit I had trouble sitting through this scene since the rabbit was actually killed. I’m all for filmmaking, but I don’t believe an animal should have to die for your movie. This is intertwined with cuts of a man performing an autopsy on a human and I don’t know who either of them are or how or if it’s related to what’s going on or with Rob… let’s just move on. We could be here all day psychoanalyzing this film.

Luckily due to some drunk redneck taking popshots at birds with a rifle and accidentally killing a nearby gardener (and after ditching the body in a pond), Rob pulls off the ultimate score and brings home Betty their very own corpse! The two love birds rub the goopy cadaver all over, kiss it, then each other and then… oh no… why is Rob cutting a metal pipe that for some reason looks phallic like to size?! No, why are they attaching it to the dead body’s groin?! Well, at least they are safe about it. Betty slips a condom over the “instrument” and the two (or should I say three) go at it. The scene is shot with a blur effect making it dream like or almost like an outer body experience.

Ah, things seem to be going fine for the love birds and their new “toy” that they’ve hung on the wall with plates underneath to catch the dripping fluids (ew). Nothing could spoil this positive upswing. Or could it? Due to his constant tardiness and stinky overalls being left in his locker, Rob is fired from his job, but luckily he has kind, loving Betty there to emotionally support him. Once she stops straddling the corpse and reading love novels to it, she yells at Rob, calling him weak and that she doesn’t want to spend her better years with a loser. Shortly after, Rob returns home to find a note from Betty saying that she took the corpse and split. I know how you feel, man. My ex took the cat when she left. Harsh.

nek_3Rob spirals into depression and goes through all the things one goes through when they are down; heads to the theater to catch a slasher movie, kills the cat, tries to commit suicide with whiskey and pills, strangles a hooker and then defiles the corpse in a cemetery. You know, the classics. Upon being woken by a strange old man after killing the hooker, Rob decapitates the old man with a shovel, which results in a greatly grotesque effect (think Bad Taste) and after fleeing the scene, Rob realizes there is nothing left and there is only one way out as the film reaches its, dare I say, “climax”.

With the quotes around that word and given the nature of this film, I’m sure you realize what I’m talking about. But brother once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

There is an unclean feeling you’re left with after viewing NEKRomantik, which goes without saying. Rob has a pretty sick fetish that you would normally dislike a person for, but the way he is portrayed by Daktari Lorenz is more sympathetic, even when he is defiling a corpse or murdering a lady of the evening. He and Betty seem like that totally normal couple, except for, ya know, that one thing… Though the narrative and the uniquely striking way it’s shot, everything about it is like looking into something that on the surface appears normal, but there is something sad and tragic about it, even though we never truly learn what that may be.

There is quite a bit of shocking, and at time fortuitous, imagery. Perhaps even more strange about it is that it simultaneously takes you out of the moment, yet keeps you connected. As much as you want to look away, you can’t avert your gaze. You get where I’m going with this. For every negative about the film, there seems to be a positive that contradicts it. Writer/director Jorg Buttgereit found that balance between horrible and beautiful. Just about every little thing is this film is saying something about who we are as people. The scene where Rob goes to watch the slasher movie, for example. Everyone in the theater is groping their girlfriends, talking or drinking a beer while people are being tortured, sexually abused and slaughtered. Along with the entire tone of the film and what it’s about, is it saying we have become completely desensitized to sex and violence in media? Ow, my brain! Stop making me think, movie!

nek_4Of course it’s not all pretty. There are periods when the film does seem to drag during some of these scenes, but just as your about to get sick of watching it (if you haven’t already), the shot changes. Without a whole lot of dialogue in the film, your left to the imagery and what they are trying to connect to fully tell the story and some people may not be able to completely pay attention to this. It does require your full attention and once Betty leaves Rob during the second half of the film, it starts to feel like it’s beginning to drag as the story continues. This is most likely because we watch Rob literally putter around and slowly mentally deteriorate even further than he already is. The movie is only a short 71 minutes long, but it’s during this final part of the film where it feels like it’s breaking the two hour mark.

Given all the film’s content and how disgusting and morally corrupt you could claim it is, I have to say, the film is somehow beautifully artistic about it. Cult Epics has recently released NEKRomantik on Blu-ray and you certainly get a bang for your buck. Not only do you get an HD approved transfer from the original 8mm prints, but you also get a “Grindhouse” HD version taken from the 35mm theatrical print for a more gritty look, which adds that extra layer of filth to it. Make note, although it has been restored, this was an extremely low budget film, so there is still quite a bit of grain and dullness, but what do you expect? It’s not exactly IMAX here. You also get a few featurettes, including a ‘making of,’ Q & A with Jorg Buttgereit as well as an introduction to the film from him. He also provides an audio commentary to the film along with co-author Franz Rodenkirchen. Perhaps the “hottest” of all the bonus features is the never before released short Hot Love, which also includes a commentary and its very own featurette. Top it all off with the original motion picture soundtrack and you have yourself one hell of a Special Edition and since it’s limited to 10,000, you may wanna grab a copy real quick.

NEKRomantik
I know I’ve said this before, but it is more true here than it has ever been; NEKRomantik is NOT for everyone. Not even die hard horror fans. You have to be looking for a film that is beyond disgusting and sleazy, yet somehow mesmerizing. It embraces the moments of silence, only playing a fairly haunting soundtrack, depicting scenes of vile acts of weird perversion involving organs and gore, but tying it together with loneliness, the want for love and becoming completely lost in your life. Jorg Buttgereit tells an freakish and bemused story, while it may not be for everyone, those who do find an interest in it will adore it.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Road-killed.
  • Organ donors vs. organ collector.
  • Blood bathing Betty!
  • Necrophilia at it’s most artistic.
  • My baby left me for a man with no pulse.
  • Cat’s in the bag.
  • Cemetery “cream”ation.
  • Killer climax.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Blood baths, car crashes, organs, gunshots, a ghastly decapitation and a stabbing.

6

blood

BREASTS

Betty bears ‘em but under such odd circumstances.

5

beast

BEASTS

Rob is Frank Zito crossed with Peter Parker.

6 OVERALL
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Oct

The Video Dead
“The living dead are here, and they’re lusting for blood – yours!”

1987 – R – 90 Minutes – Scream! Factory
Starring Michael St. Michaels, Thaddeus Golas, Douglas Bell – Directed by Robert Scott

Remember when everyone use to nag at you when you would come home and plop yourself in front of the boob tube that “Television will kill ya!” It’s meant quite literal in The Video Dead, an interesting little zombie flick from the 80’s. This was back when not every zombie movie had to take place after a virus had spread and it’s now a post apocalyptic world, back when zombies moaned and shambled instead of hissing and walking at a fast pace. Ah, the good ol’ days. But enough of my old man gripes, let’s see what this movie has to deliver.

Speaking of deliver, two delivery men bring an alcoholic writer (is there any other kind?) a mysterious crate, with no COD! Remember those days? When you someone would send you something and you would have to pay for it when it arrived? Gee, thanks for sending me something that I now have to pay a fee on. Anyhoo, I wonder what could be inside? The suspense is killing me and apparently the writer can’t wait either, sense he bashes the thing open with a crowbar to reveal… a weathered ol’ analog TV. Oh. Great.

vd_2But there is something strange about this TV. For starters, only one station seems to come in and it apparently only plays one scene from a low budget zombie movie, but here’s the kicker; the zombies come to life and crawl out of the TV! You think 3D is the next big thing, well think again! Although, I think this is only a gimmick and won’t last long, since these zombies seem to kill whatever they come across.

Oops! Seems those delivery drivers made a mistake and need to pick the TV back up for the senders, who happen to be the subtly named the Institute for the Studies of the Occult. I wonder what they do there, how they get their funding and what you do with your degree once you graduate. Can we see that movie instead? No, instead we see the writer, strung up in birthday decorations, dead as a doornail. Aw, nobody came to his party, poor guy.

Three months goes by, which apparently is enough time to allow a home that is the scene of an unsolved murder to be sold and the new tenants are moving in. Well, their daughter Zoe is, since her parents are still overseas. Zoe is also majoring in aerobics, which doesn’t come back into the movie in any way. I’m not being sarcastic there either. It pops up during conversation once and that’s it. Anyway, it isn’t long before something in dirty, ripped clothing is dragging a leg, scuffling toward the house. Upon entering, much to her surprise, it’s her brother Jeff. Wait, why was he dragging his leg? He doesn’t for the rest of the movie. Did someone punch his leg and cause the muscle to tense up? I’m going to assume that’s what happened otherwise this serves no purpose, other than to make you believe it was a zombie.

vd_2Jeff. How would you describe Jeff? Well, he’s your average radical 80’s kid with spiked blonde hair, tattered clothing and has a chill attitude. The actor’s performance however… oh boy. Do you remember that kid from Troll 2, the one most known for his line delivery of, “They’re eating her! And now they’re going to eat me! OH MY GAAAAAAWD!” Yeah, he gives that guy a run for his money.

The next morning, a chubby man in a cowboy hat named Joshua Daniels, who could very well double for Joe Don Baker, arrives at the house asking Jeff about the TV. Jeff thinks nothing of it and dismisses Joshua, but shortly after, the seductress on the TV begins to call out for Jeff, luring him into the attic. Now, most people would think to themselves, “Hey, didn’t someone just come around asking about a mysterious TV?” But not Jeff. He decides to bring it into his room, the dolt. And to think this idiot is a total babe magnet. The next day (still wearing the same clothes he arrived in), his neighbor April comes by to introduce herself and tells him all about the murder that occurred in his new home (umm… aren’t realtors required by law to tell you if someone has been killed in your new home?). Jeff falls for her immediately, so much so that he even takes the heat for accidentally killing a dog she watches for some rich folk. Ladies, what has your man done for you today?

That night while toking on a doobie (that’s what the kids say, right?), the seductress comes out from the TV to tease Jeff into thinking he will get “some” and then disappears back into the TV to laugh and giggle at him. Jeff, doesn’t get the hint and desperately seeks out how to get in contact with her, but before he can score a six digit phone number, someone named the Garbage Man comes from behind and slashes her throat, revealing her true, hideous identity. Jeff’s line delivery here is flawlessly executed, a nonchalant, “There’s someone in the room with you… no.” I’ve seen more emotion come from Gillian Anderson’s lips in The X-Files. The Garbage Man tells Jeff about the creatures and to put the shiny side of a mirror up against the TV, since the zombies don’t like to see themselves. Believe it or not, but Jeff almost manages to screw this up. I wouldn’t trust this kid to put his underwear on right, if he wears any.

vd_4It seems like it was all for nothing, or perhaps just poorly written as zombies devour April’s father and the maid, along with a few neighbors… while having some fun about it. Actually, I shouldn’t say devour. They sorta choke their victims to death and you rarely see them eating anyone. April takes refuge with Jeff and Zoe as Joshua reemerges and I’m going to assume this time Jeff will listen. He tells them of the terrible creatures that come out from the TV and kill everyone they encounter… you know, stuff you already know. A new bit of information is offered, however. You see, these zombies don’t die like traditional zombies by destroying their brain. These zombies can be tricked into thinking they are regular folk and be convinced they’re dead. It’s the only way to stop them. As they continue to bicker about what to do with the zombies, April gets her useless arse kidnapped, so Joshua and Jeff wait until morning (gee, don’t make it a priority or anything) to rescue you her. Oh, great. Any elderly, chubby old man and a kid who probably needs reminders how to blink are your heroes.

There is actually some good back and forth between Joshua and Jeff, as they tease each other and we get a little insight into who they are and see their more human sides, as they search for April by shouting her name as loudly as possibly. This is when the movie kinda turns goofy, almost as if they were running out of ideas, but they knew they had about thirty more minutes to pad out and that’s how it feels. Not to say they don’t make it entertaining. Jeff and Joshua hunt down the zombies, setting all kinds of traps and what happens next for an expose of gore and violence, I didn’t see coming.

The zombies are now closing in on the home where Zoe is by her lonesome self and she’s left to do the only thing she can. Remember when Joshua was talking about treating them like regular folk? Sounded stupid, right? Well guess what? It actually works. The zombies die and Zoe’s parents come to visit her in the hospital since she is all traumatized shortly after and bring her a little gift so she have something to watch.

Talk about a tonal shift in movie. This movie went from semi-hilarious with a ridiculous premise to semi-serious and dark, although it never feels like you are watching a different movie. Another thing that seems to bog it down from time to time is the pacing, most noticeably in the third act. It feels like it’s starting to drag, but never reaches a point where it feels unwatchable. The Video Dead is quite the opposite of unwatchable, actually. I picked myself up the Scream! Factory two pack with TerrorVision (is that not the most awesome double feature?) and the Blu-ray transfer presented here looks crisp and sharp… unfortunately, it makes the makeup job on some of the zombies look even more laughable than they already had. Don’t get me wrong, some of them look great, like our main zombie that is all rotted. But then there are others, like the rock-a-billy looking zombie crossed with Ryan Stiles where his appearance is something to the effect of putting Elmer’s glue all over someone’s face and painting it blue. You can even see where they should have blended it. Luckily because of the silly premise of the movie, it’s not an issue and when the film tosses blood and guts your way (or a melting, exploding zombie head), you won’t even think twice about it. Too bad the same can’t be said about the music. That short loop will get stuck in your brain, you’ll wish it were your head that was melting. The music sounds like a two note version of the Halloween theme stuck on repeat. You keep expecting in to change, but it never does. All the flaws are forgivable, since it’s low budget and the thing had to be shot on weekends whenever the cast and crew could find time off from their day jobs.

The Video Dead
While it’s not the finest example of a zombie film, it has enough cheese to keep you entertained. It’s one of those so-bad-it’s-good type of flicks and I don’t mean that in an ironic sense. There are quite a few things in the bad that make this an absurd film that you can enjoy. While it’s not quite up to Troll 2’s high standards, I would certainly put it up there. I first discovered this little gem back on VHS when I was in highschool that an ex-girlfriend just so happened to have and I’ve watched it from time to time again ever since. Thankfully, it has found it’s way to Blu-ray and is much more available. If you’re looking for something to treat yourself with and have a good time, then tune in for The Video Dead!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • TV will rot your brain or zombies will crawl out of it and kill you.
  • Jeff and Zoe, this fall on Disney Channel.
  • Joe Don Baker’s long lost brother, Joshua.
  • Dead dog walking.
  • Zombie hunters.
  • Um, I think your soundtrack is skipping.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

The zombie classics eating limbs and guts, melting heads. S’all good.

2

blood

BREASTS

If this film were missing one thing, it’s this.

6

beast

BEASTS

Unfortunately, these zombies aren’t much of threat as long as you aren’t stupid.

5 OVERALL
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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>