Archive for the 'Horror movies' Category

Jul

The Perfect House
2012 – Not Rated – 84 Minutes – Wild Eye Releasing
Starring Felissa Rose, Johnathan Tiersten – Directed by Kris Hulbert and Randy Kent

Have you ever found yourself walking around your empty, quiet house and thought to yourself, “I wonder what kind of dark, horrible things have happened here?” Then as you notice some scratch marks on the floor from where you moved furniture you think, “Oh, I bet someone being murdered was dragged across the floor there.” The latter is the case for the home in The Perfect House. The film certainly has a lot of elements being mixed into it, but they are hard to pick up on. For instance, when you pop this sucker in, you probably wouldn’t know it’s an anthology, especially since the synopsis on the back mentions nothing about it. For the first fifteen minutes, you will find yourself confused until you realize what it is.

I would also like to point out (or nitpick) the tagline, “There’s Terror on Every Floor!” Yet the only floor we really explore is the basement. And this is a two story house, so that tagline would be better suited for a skyscraper.

Your typical family comprised of the bickering husband and wife (played by Sleepaway Camp allum Felissa Rose) who are condescending toward one another, their sultry, smartphone addicted daughter and their two sons who always seem to be fighting are headed over to their neighbors house for dinner. What’s on the menu? Dastardly deception and torture! At this point, it’s hard to say what would make a man go crazy and tie up the family next door. They do mention a few times that his neighbor borrowed his weedwhacker and never returned it, then we find out that the dolt threw it away, claiming it to be an old piece of junk. So if there ever was motivation…

tph_2It cuts to sometime later as a young couple is looking to buy the home, which is implied has been on the market for sometime. This is when the movie shifts tonial so hard and suddenly you’ll get whiplash, as an erotic real estate agent embodying every fictional aspect of the female sex symbol gives them a tour of the home. As the male of the couple drools over her so comically, I expect him to turn into a cartoon wolf as his tongue rolls on the floor and his eyes pop out of his head. This scene is filled with so much lame sexual-innuendo that even most porns would be embarrassed of. At one point, she asks the couple if they would like to check out the “upstairs,” as she unbuttons her shirt as they walk upstairs to the bedroom where she proceeds to lay on the bed and trace the curves of the body. The husband plays along with the dialogue, while his wife is condescending toward him. The real estate agent then suggests that they check out the “downstairs” (in more ways than one), but warns them the basement is somewhat of a deal breaker. I really hope there is no double meaning to that.

As the couple descends into the basement, we launch into our first segment which takes place sometime in the 60’s (I think), as a husband and wife head into the basement with their two kids seeking shelter from a storm. We quickly see how mean spirited and condescending the wife is toward her family. By now, you are probably noticing two things: That every character is condescending toward each other and that none of the characters have names. While this may work for a single story, it’s going to quickly grow tiresome over the course of this movie. Anyway, during this storm as the light flickers out the parents turn up mutilated, leaving the kids to discover who the murderer is, which is clearly given away during flashbacks of their lives, giving motive to the killer. Also, this is the only segment that has a different theme than the rest. Rather than opting for torture porn, it’s… I dunno, who-dun-it?

This is when you realize this is a messy anthology and that the real estate segments are the narrative part and the first segment we saw is the book ends. So on to the second segment, yeah?

tph_3This one is definitely the longest segment (and you will start to feel it drag after a little while) which is most likely due to another Sleepaway Camp veteran, Johnathan Tiersten filling in the role of the cliched philosophical serial killer. I’m assuming this segment takes place during the 90’s due to his Godsmack style look, which was a bad idea even then. This bleach-haired, soul-patched serial killer uses the basement for caging and torturing victims, keeping a girl alive for years so she can watch his “art.” He brings another victim into the basement that she taunts as he cries, telling him he’s going to die in a few days and she knows this because her scheduled rape is the day after. I’m assuming that was supposed to come off as shocking and funny, but it just makes whoever wrote this look insensitive and stupid. I also want to point out that even though the female character does get the male victim to stop screaming by telling him, “Do you think someone that would do something like this is gonna leave us in a place our screams can be heard?” Which is true, but isn’t this house located in the middle of a populated neighborhood? Anyway, this segment is filled with more anal rape jokes as the serial killer dribbles on about how he’s changing society, thinning out the herd, creating art… you’ve heard heard all of this bulls#@t before and it sounds just as trivial now as it did back then. I can’t tell if they were trying to write this character with some depth or just following a list of stereotype serial killers in movies. And as for the woman, I get that she has been trapped for some time and is starting to lose her mind, but it’s her performance that makes her utterly loathable. Sadly, you feel nothing for this character, which is a tremendous feat when the opposing character is a serial killer/rapist. As I said, this portion of the film drags as he tortures these two in the basement, making jokes and you can’t help but ask yourself, “what is so popular about torture porn?” Sometimes it can shocking and gross, but this comes off as offensively wasting your time and insulting. Although this does tend to come off gross at times, like when he peels off a victim’s eyelids and smashes out their teeth with a 2×4, you can’t help but feel like the overall tone is someone is talking down to you.

And finally, we resume what we started with the neighboring families. The psychotic man gone over the edge from a tossed away weedwhacker, has his neighbors tied up and the film ventures into rape territory again as he tells their daughter to make herself pretty, tossing makeup at her and the film recalls her coming home with various boys in the middle of the night, implying she’s a slut and that this is fitting for her? It definitely makes you feel dirty, but only because you can’t help but feel this logic is severely misguided. He then pits the two boys to stab one another in order to save their mother’s life, because they always fought for her attention. Again, severely misguided view. All children fight, especially for mom’s attention and especially when they are about five and ten years old. The mother then has her ankles slashed open and has to rescue the surviving child, who now has a plastic bag over his head, which at this point you have to wonder what the hell the screenwriter was thinking. None of this is about redemption. None of this is about revenge. None of this is about justice or what goes around comes around. It feels like an extreme ends justify the means and a very delusional, poor quality snuff film version of it at that.

tph_4And so the film comes to end as three months later, some guy tosses another guy who wanted to look at the house again into the basement, implying that the house has some sort of evil power? Hell, I have no idea. On a final note, I’d like to point at that this film is called A Devil’s Inside in Australia, no doubt trying to name it closely to the found-footage crap fest A Devil Inside. Which when you think about it is rather fitting for this film; A film that misunderstands and poorly represents the genre it’s mimicking naming itself closely to another film that misunderstands and poorly represents the genre it’s mimicking.

All because of a weedwhacker.

When is all said and done, I had a few problems with The Perfect House, the biggest being the filmmakers and writer decided that most of the film would be cliched, tiresome torture porn. As much as I hate that term to describe a movie, I don’t know what else to call it when you spend the majority of your time with a captor doing heinous things to his victims and even with such a simple and pointless sub-genre, it seems to be mishandled. I can’t help but wonder why they would choose this route when an anthology opens up your spectrum of storytelling, allowing you to tell different elements of horror without making your overall story arc seem confusing. All of this makes the end of the film seem mean spirited and doing mean spirited things just for the sake of it. Issues like child murder or rape are handled poorly, almost with disrespect it seems, all of which seems to muddle to tone of the flick. Am I suppose to laugh? Be shocked? Scared? Who knows… not even the filmmakers it seems. Also, they didn’t explore much with the house, since we are stuck in the basement most of the time, but I guess the title ‘The Perfect Basement’ doesn’t sound as good.

That’s not to say that some of the performances are actually pretty solid, most of all by Felissa Rose. She really plays a victim here and brings it everything she has. It’s just too bad none of them have names. Seriously, do you know how hard it was to write this review calling every character “he” or “she”? It wouldn’t have been as difficult either if they all weren’t pretty much the same character being recycled. How many times can I write “husband and wife” while simultaneously be talking about several different people? Can you imagine trying to describe this movie to someone? It gets confusing! If you can come away from the film saying one positive thing, it’s that the practical effects are handled well and at times used effectively. Too bad the same can’t be said about the narrative.

The Perfect House
Now if you’ll excuse me, I better go return my neighbors tools before he ties me up and beats me with a garden hose.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Most awkward dinner ever.
  • Real estate agent/porn star.
  • Children of the darned.
  • Torture basement.
  • Weedwhacker revenge!
  • What’s down in the basement?
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Fairly decent practicals almost shine through with decapitations, finger removals and other mutilations.

2

blood

BREASTS

If you don’t mind em on a dead girl, then this is for you.

3

beast

BEASTS

Just a bunch of torturous jerks!

3.6 OVERALL
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Jul

Curtains
1983 – R – 90 Minutes – Synapse Films
Starring John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson – Directed by Richard Ciupka (as Jonathan Stryker)

Klondike brings up the most provocative question of all time by asking you, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” Or in Curtains‘ case, “What would you do for the perfect role?” Me personally, I would audition and send a gift basket with one really pricey gift in the middle of fine cheeses and jams, but some people are actually willing to kill for it! In the early days of all the shlocky Friday the 13th clones, this little diddy from Canada cuts to the top and shows that bacon and Rush aren’t the only good things to come from our neighbors to the North.

Samantha (Samantha Eggar, The Brood) rehearses on stage as the director of the film Audra, Stryker (John Vernon, Animal House), isn’t quite convinced of her performance. I, however, am not convinced that a man named Stryker should be directing, but instead should be a cop who doesn’t play by the rules or a man who spends most of his time selling homemade potato cannons to school kids. You see, the character of Audra is absolutely mad and if Samantha, a dedicated and methodical actress, is gonna pull it off convincingly it’s gonna take some serious… um, convincing.

It’s not long before they are sitting in front of a doctor with Stryker detailing Samantha’s violent history and threatening to end her film career altogether, so Samantha lunges at him with a prison shank, screaming in pure rage! She is quickly restrained and slapped in a straightjacket, but as the doctor and the orderlies leave the two of them in the room (wait, they are just gonna leave her in the room with him after she came at him with a knife?) Stryker and Samantha begin laughing, revealing this was all a ruse. Faking insanity for a starring role; that’s dedication.

cur_2Samantha is now institutionalized, living among the insane and observing them. Stryker visits occasionally for progress and for support, but that only goes so far, as the madness seems to be getting to Samantha. She’s constantly pointed at and laughed at. The girl she shares a room with every night wakes up screaming, until one day she is taken away in the middle of the night after a fit and Samantha wakes to find her lobotomized. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, as everything seemingly starts to be cracking Samantha. On his final visit, Stryker and Samantha don’t exchange any dialogue, but sit in silence until he slowly gets up and leaves. And he doesn’t just leave the room… he leaves her there for good.

Rather than do the right thing by telling the doctor it was a ploy and give the actress the role he promised her, Stryker decides to have himself a casting couch session at his remote home with six hot ladies who are all eager to play the role of Audra. This is cleverly told through the styling of stand-up comedy from Patti (Lynne Griffin, Black Christmas), one of the girls auditioning for the part. So we have our comedic relief, who else might we have? Filling out the roles of horror stereotypes, we have the snooty veteran actress Brooke, Laurian the rich girl, Tara the musician, Christie the young promising skater and Amanda. Amanda would have a description, but after having a nightmare about a melancholy looking doll in her room, she is stabbed in the stomach by someone in the shadows after spending the evening with her boyfriend, discussing all the kinky ways he can tap that. Meanwhile, at some other location, Samantha has escaped! All Bond villains, step aside and let Samantha show you how to film a sinister scene! Fireplace: check. Sipping on a fine alcoholic drink: check. Plotting your revenge and vowing to do whatever it takes to someone in the room whose identity is obscured: Oh yeah, big check. But there is no need to worry. The film has more surprises hidden away.

Now at Stryker’s home, the girls get acquainted and have themselves some girl talk. You know, who would do the dirtiest thing to Stryker. This is when he makes his grand entrance and circles the table, introducing each girl with a sentence that sums up their character, like they are all henchman to his Bond villain. It’s classic. I just imagine Stryker hiding behind the door eavesdropping and getting excited as the girls discuss what they would do for him sexually to get the roll. Then quietly he does a fist pump, then psyches himself to get back in the game, practices his lines about each one of the ladies and waits for the right cue to burst into the room. It all pays off. This dude is smooth. He then tells them that acting is only half of the audition, but they need to prove they are right for the role through dedication and sacrifice, setting the precursor to reality TV shows. Damn you, Stryker!

cur_3Guess who decides to show up for dinner? That’s right, Samantha! Later that night, Christie overhears Samantha and Stryker arguing about what happened in the looney bin, but before she can make sense of it, Stryker’s Spidey-Sense tingles and he rips the door open, surprising her. He quickly feeds Christie some BS about it being a scene from an old play and then coaxes her into sleeping with him (no doubt with a promise of the role and not to speak of what she overheard) and leaving her looking smug as she spends the rest of the night crying from guilt. Told you this guy was smooth.

Maybe what Christie needs is some therapeutic ice-skating to get her mind off the previous night’s dirty deed. As Christie skates her troubles away the next morning, she sees a familiar looking doll, partially hidden away in the snow. Suddenly in slo-motion, a figure decked head to toe in black careening toward her disguised with a hag mask and armed with a sharp sickle raised in the air. This sets up one of the most iconic slasher movie scenes of all time as the killer skates after Christie (yes, SKATES) in a cat and mouse game until she is finally done in. This is one of those scenes you really have to see to experience. It’s unintentionally memorable in almost a dream quality looking shot, complete with the image of a witch like looking figure. This scene easily could have been farcical, but everything I mentioned composed together makes it frightening wide awake nightmare.

Of course this is easily written off by Stryker as he tells the other girls that a note was left under his door and she left, but the show must go on! During the auditions, Stryker places the hag mask on Samantha and demands her to seduce him! After she fails at it, he humiliates her acting and moves along in his audition. Could Stryker be the murderer since he is in possession of the mask or is that too obvious? Soon after ridiculing Patti and taunting her into giving him a convincing audition, the hag mask goes missing… You get the feeling this guy isn’t so nice? In case you aren’t sure about Stryker’s motives, how about him using Brooke in a state of hysteria after she finds Christie’s head in the toilet (which vanishes after Stryker comes in the room and nothing is found)?

As the night closes in, the body count rises. Tara is next on the list, as she dances like what can only be described as a drunk robot trying to swim in molasses. Brooke and Stryker, embracing each other as she pleads for the role, are interrupted as someone bursts through the door with a revolver, firing a few shots! Laurian is chased endlessly through a nightmare maze of bizarre set pieces and props and Patti is approached and confronted by Samantha. The killer is revealed in not so much of a shocking twist, but more of a somewhat lackluster and questionable twist that you seem to go along with.

cur_4When all is said and done, two things about Curtains is glaringly obvious. The first being the some of the plot holes, while nothing major to deter you from the film, they will leave you with questions. The killer’s motive is ultimately weak, given that not much time is spent with them, but the biggest hole being the unknown person in the room with Samantha early on in the film after she escaped. We never find out who this person is, what their relation to Samantha is or what role they play in the movie. It was so mysterious and seemed to have set up a big reveal, but this character is never seen or heard from again. I have a sneaking suspicion that somewhere out there that there is a deleted scene explaining this and unfortunately there are no deleted scenes to be found on Synapse’s newly released Blu-ray.

This doesn’t mean the movie is terrible, mind you. In fact, it’s quite good. As I said previously, these questions and holes in the plot are absolutely minor and this is actually quite a suspenseful little horror film. Although not entirely heavy on violence, there is enough to keep all blood thirsty cretins at bay with just enough sleaze added to fill in the void for those craving more gore. There is plenty of titillating scenes showing off the naked skin of our beautiful leading ladies, who all pull in solid performances, by the way. The movie is tense when it should be and during the downtime, dialogue scenes, there is plenty of treachery and filth to keep you interested, but not too much to turn you off. There is enough mystery to keep you curious and overall, it’s a damn fine experience. Curtains is comprised of quite a few memorable, vivid scenes to ever be seen in a slasher film. Who knew these things could be somewhat artistic?

Which finally brings us to the newly restored Blu-ray from Synapse. I see a lot of films restored from the original 35mm prints, but I have yet to see one that looks as defined as this. All the lines are crisp and sharp and very little grain and scratch is detected and when there is, it feels like a part of the scene. Synapse’s painstaking 2k restoration paid off beautifully and was well worth the wait. Of course, the film’s audio is presented in newly remastered 5.1 for the young blood’s or original mono for the OGs. Not pops, no hiss, it’s as clean as you get, but even if you are having trouble hearing, English subs are available. There is even an audio commentary track from actresses Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin moderated by Edwin Samuelson that focuses on the their experiences on set. It makes for a good listen as they recall stories from filming. There are two other bonus features if you are looking for something a little more on the tech side, one being a six minute vintage video called Ciupka: A Film-Maker In Transition that gives you a look at director Richard Ciupka working and interacting with the cast and crew. The other is a new 35-minute documentary that chronicles the making of the film as the cast and crew recalls their experiences. Believe me, there is enough to keep you busy. You haven’t seen Curtains until you have seen this release from Synapse.

Curtains
So even though at times Curtains can be untenable, it does take itself very seriously and that’s for the better. Solid performances, amazing set pieces, a memorable killer and an overall enjoyable film all put together and presented handsomely by Synapse. I would put Curtains up there with poutine. It’s that simple of an idea and it’s that good.

Images courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Stand up comedy plot.
  • Dirty talk.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Ice-skating of death!
  • Stryker the playa.
  • Get your head out of the toilet!
  • Samantha be cray.
  • Who done it? Ehhh.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

A lot of stabbing and slashing, but nothing to lose your head about!

5

blood

BREASTS

The film is filled with fine, sexy ladies.

8

beast

BEASTS

Among a room full of people willing to backstab each other, someone is running around in a hag mask killing them!

6.3 OVERALL
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Jul

The Addicted
2014 – Not Rated – 90 Minutes – Revolver
Starring Jenny Gayner, Sean J Vincent, Thea Knight – Directed by Sean J Vincent

Ghosts, abandoned spooky place, masked killer, revenge plot… mix that all together and you have a vile, wretched cocktail so bitter that it’s hard to swallow and you get The Addicted. It’s a low budget film from England, that will bore you to tears and drive you to the verge of madness, you’ll wish customs seized it. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but you weren’t there, man!

The setup is simple and in retrospect, pointless, as a group of four adults posing as youngsters, two guys and their girlfriends, sneak into an abandoned rehab clinic with an Ouija board to summon the spirits that haunt the place. Rather than set up any type of mood or draw out suspense as they don’t even ask the departed questions with their mystical Parker Bros. game, an unseen entity, or an entity that looks like two stagehands dressed in black, immediately drag one of the girls into the dark. She returns with a pipe in her stomach and falls to the ground dead, setting the others into ’scatter and panic’ mode and are dispatched in a pretty mild fashion.

Pacing, tone and suspense are all set up within the first few minutes… nonexistent.

add_2Four “kids” go missing? That sounds like just the scoop for our reporter (I guess?) Nicole who is looking for that hot lead and that story might be the ticket. Especially since her father use to run the place. Wow, what a coincidence! You think that may have anything pivotal to do with the plot? It’s starting at this point where you are easily able to connect the dots and figure out what happens in the movie before anything happens.

Anyway if you’re still watching, a new security guard is brought in to watch over the clinic and mere moments into his first night, he is dragged off and killed, along with any possible tension or suspense. By now, you are probably realizing this is a movie that is clearly mistaking a pointless body count for actual horror.

But in an actual attempt to provide exposition, we flashback to 1987 when the clinic was open. David, a heroine junkie, is informed by his doctor that he hasn’t made any progress and will not be released… and then hands him some horse. Huh?! As David injects himself with the stuff, his doctor leans in and tells him in a sinister fashion that he is going to take his wife and money and makes sure that David rots there forever! Woah, evil ulterior motives? As the doctor makes moves on David’s wife, he spots David’s son looking down at him from the stairs, looking none too pleased.

Nicole, along with her boyfriend Adam, decide to go and investigate this place for unknown magazine or newspaper. But, you can’t have a movie with just two victims running around an abandoned place, that would require too much mood and tension. So they introduce another couple, Mike and Liz, whose personalities are so thin, they are transparent. After a pointless amateur music video that consist of stock footage of this group partying, they finally arrive at the clinic and the first thing they do? Sit around and talk about how they shouldn’t be there. Way to establish that your protagonist is a real go getter. They do manage to provide some plot, explaining why the place closed down, but the reason for it… is pure genius. Are you ready for it?

add_3Because a patient, David, committed suicide.

I’m not making a joke about suicide here, but if clinics closed because a patient killed himself, every clinic in the world would be shut down. What, do they expect to have a 100% success rate with their patients? Moving on, after Adam vanishes to go set up cameras and is apparently good at creeping up on people too, as evident upon his return. Finally realizing some plot needs to happen, they explore the place to shortly come to a door that Mike is volunteered to open. It pulls from his hand and they all scream and panic, while Mike is dragged off by two grips, I mean that ghost, which has the ability to set itself ablaze like the Human Torch composed of the world’s worst After Effects composite. Luckily Mike is rescued by Adam as smoke from… something (?) begins filling the room and the screen so intensely, that the effect actually goes over the aspect ratio bars.

Ok, if your editor can’t figure out which effect goes on what layer, it’s time to find someone else.

With the place locked down, they all vaguely recall a fire escape! Brilliant. Ok, so best course of action would be to stick together and go look… or Adam can venture off by himself once again. Gee, you think he is up to something? As the others wait for him to come back, Mike is in need of a fag (calm down, that’s what they call them in England) and goes off alone to find them and is dragged off into the dark again.

You know, it’s like Latent learning where you see if they change their behavior based on the result of what previously happened, but it never does. Lab rats are smarter than these people.

Mike awakens bound to a gurney to be greeted by a man in an orange jumpsuit and black skull/clown mask, who looks like the rejected member of Slipknot, shoots him in the leg with a nail gun for no reason, then injects him with heroine. I wonder where Adam could be… oh, there he is! He regroups with the others to search for Mike and almost immediately find him. Hopefully he isn’t dragged off again anytime soon. That would redundant and stupid… oh, sonuva…

add_4Remembering that they once had a point of finding a fire escape, Adam disappears, AGAIN, to go find it. Seriously, how hard is it to find a fire escape? It’s a fire escape! They are supposed to be easy to find in case of a, you know, fire! While Adam is looking for this obscure relic known as the fire escape, the girls are attacked by the ghost! Things sure are getting tense, as we see Mike waking up bound to a gurney once again (are we really doing this scene again?) and seeing as we seem to be stuck in an endless loop, you can guess what happens to Mike.

But it’s now that this masked psychopath reveals their true identity and it’s exactly who you’ve known it’s been the whole movie. The obvious continues to unfold, I mean drag out, as the killer’s plot is revealed and the connection with David’s ghost is explained and how Nicole fits into all of this as it boils down to her toughening up, by stripping down to a wife beater and tying her hair back like every heroine in most horror films ever and the movie ends on the most tired, predictable mirror jump scare in cinema history. But, you already guessed all of this. You’re smarter than this. Long ago, you probably shut this movie off and started doing something better with your time, like not watching The Addicted.

Within the first twenty minutes, the entire plot is set up, the reveal and all, so there is no wonder, there is no suspense… it’s all filler from here and it’s the worst kind. Boring, drawn out filler. It was at about this twenty minute mark I fell asleep, woke up toward the end just as the killer was about to reveal their identity and I guessed who it was with total confidence. That’s how cliched, tired and run of the mill this movie is. You can watch it in your sleep. This movie has the feel of ‘we have a dark, large empty space, let’s make a movie!’ And within this space they have to make a movie, they take one idea and repeat it continuously, you’ll think that the movie is broken as you think, “wait, didn’t I see this already?” Why yes, yes you have, but now it’s happening again… only the same. But that’s what happens when you don’t have things happen in your movie. The Addicted is like a one hit wonder CD a friend buys because of one song; He puts it in and puts that track on repeat over and over, until you finally snap.

This is a boring movie that relies on a huge coincidence too, doesn’t it? Part of your antagonist’s evil plan happens to be that you need to be somehow connected to the girl your revenge plot is against. Hey, didn’t Scream do that? Yeah, it was stupid then and it’s stupid now. Of course, maybe the film would have been a little more tolerable if they did some ADR or used better mics, as the movie sounds incredibly disembodied and muffled. Do you know how hard it is to hear an actor’s dialogue through a rubber mask in a hollow, echo-y room through an incredibly thick British accent? It’s not easy! Same can be said about the visuals. I understand this is a low budget film, but my god if you can’t pull off the bare minimum of decent looking effects, don’t have them. Not to mention that it’s a poorly lit movie, with lighting changing drastically between shots, that the scenes often look very muddy. On a fair note, some of the practicals are pulled off rather decent and if I have anything positive to say about the film, it’s that the actors do a bang up job. Everyone pulls of a convincing role and emotes well, but unfortunately it’s wasted in this film.

The Addicted
It’s a one note movie that feels like it drags on with very little thought put in, relying heavily on the same scare and idea to work repeatedly and then repeats the same ideas, the same scares, hell, even the same shots of those scares to a point where you feel like you are going insane or living in some sort of time loop. You have to wonder how a film like this got made. For a low budget indie film, this is one that isn’t worth your time. In fact, it should be locked away in solitary confinement forever and ever… and ever and ever.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Everytime someone is dragged off, take a shot.
  • Take a shot every time Adam vanishes.
  • Eye candy.
  • Nail gun massacre.
  • Oh and take a shot every time Mike is dragged off into the dark.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

The pole through the stomach is done nice, but the blood seems to be used sparingly.

1

blood

BREASTS

We are… for having seen this, but a point for Nicole’s awesome cleavage.

1

beast

BEASTS

These beasts are easily outwitted, but the victims own worst enemy is their very own stupidity.

2 OVERALL
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Jul

Don't Go in the Woods
1981 – R – Code Red
Starring – Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden – Directed by James Bryan

There’s a title that also works as warning sign in life; Don’t Go in the Woods or Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone if you are one of the many people that confused the oddly placed tagline right next to the title (the actual title card in the movie reads Don’t Go in the Woods). I won’t go on a tangent or anything, but this little issue has been confusing horror fans for years, but director James Bryan cleared the issue up on the DVD’s special features and even IMDB credits the movie as Don’t Go in the Woods and if it’s on IMDB, then it’s 100% accurate…

Camp slashers in the early 80’s had a dark and somewhat serious tone to them, whether it be Friday the 13th or (as silly as it was) Madman, but then comes along Don’t Go in the Woods and says, “We’re here to have fun!” And there’s a fun little analogy: if this film were a character in an 80’s slasher, it would be the beer drinking, pot smoking, prank playing, one liner spewing character. However, don’t mistake this for a comedy or a spoof. The tone is definitely horror, but the delivery is pure lovable cheese.

dgitw_2Right out the door, this film doesn’t hold back. A young woman dashes through the woods, screaming her lungs out and tripping and falling into a shallow river to soak her white shirt as blood begins to pool. Another poor sap who is enjoying the most boring hobby of all time, bird watching, has his arm is hacked off (which only seems to slightly knock him off balance) and clobbered over the head. In the first few minutes, the film let’s you know it’s going to be sleazy and filthy with ridiculous levels of violence and less than average acting… which is exactly what we are tuning in for!

While the happy campers of… whatever the name of this place is, are being hacked into pieces, let’s meet our group of four adventurers, Ingrid, Joanne, the misfit Peter and led by the lecturing outdoor connoisseur Craig. When you get down to it, they ultimately have no other goal than to just be camping in the woods. That’s no stretch of the imagination and from what I understand, people actually do that. No reason to bog this plot down with pointless exposition like, they are looking for a secret treasure, or it’s a getaway from the daily grind or claiming inherited property. They are just there to camp, so deal with it. Peter doesn’t take camping too seriously, dangerously leaping from a log and stomping on the ground as Craig scolds him about how risky and stupid that was. He could have been injured or there could have been snakes!

As they frolic about, our killer stalks more random prey, this time a chubby photographer and his wife. He drags her off and does who knows what to it and the husband is thrown off the side of a cliff for the crime of wearing too much pink. He clearly won’t be missed, as a group of teens splashes about in the water literally feet from where his bloated, lifeless body now defecates itself.

dgitw_2So what are the police going to do about this? Surely all of these people disappearing is pretty suspicious. Nah, it’s probably bears assumes our heroic law enforcement, as they brush it off with around of some office putt-putt. These men sure know how to prioritize.

It’s been several minutes since someone has been savagely torn apart, so who better to volunteer themselves as victims than a couple of randy, um, middle aged people? Huh, usually in this scenario it’s teenagers, but here it looks like mom and dad don’t have the kids for weekend and need to drive miles away from civilization in an RV to do the no pants dance. Our killer, not having premium basic cable packages provided out in his area (probably due to coverage), decides to catch the live Skinemax show. Dad isn’t having any of that and grabs his pea shooter, shouting into the night in a random direction, which upsets the maniac. He dispatches dad pretty quickly and rolls mom in the RV down a hill, which explodes at bottom after settling there for a few moments, which all vehicles were known for doing in the 80’s.

Well perhaps the portly Sheriff should look into things, as he takes to the sky in a helicopter, although he doesn’t seem too concerned with looking for anything suspicious… meanwhile, a young mother gets stabbed to death while painting, posing for the cover art and her baby is stolen and a poor helpless man in a wheelchair is decapitated. Yeah, nothing odd going on around here, just people vanishing by the handful. No need to concern yourself or exert any energy that isn’t going in to eating ham.

You’re probably starting to see a pattern happening. But to break the mold (and to kick some plot into gear), Peter decides he’s a bad enough dude to rescue the President from Ninjas go camping on his own and wanders off from his group, which is the best thing you can do when you’re in the wilderness, with little food and water and no knowledge in survival and first aid. It goes about as well as you think. He’s cold, hungry, miserable… the classics. I was expecting a montage of the silly mishaps that could happen to him, like getting his hand stuck in a toaster, a bucket stuck on his head, butt caught in a mousetrap all while slapstick music plays. But no, morning finally comes and he witnesses a fisherman get murdered by the now revealed crazy, bearded, homeless looking bear guy with beads on his face. Typical.

dgitw_3Before looking for Peter, the rest of the gang decide to play ineffectual pranks, as Craig strings up Joanne in her sleeping bag, just as the crazed woodsman stumbles upon them and kills Craig. Ingrid (now that I’m thinking of it, who the hell is named Ingrid that wasn’t born in the 20’s?) bolts the scene, leaving Joanne to be strung up like a pinata. Peter, now armed with a sharp stick, bumps into Ingrid and the two dash frantically through the woods, running smack into Rope Face Guy’s crazy kill shack, littered with garbage and dead bodies. Upon surviving an attack from the killer, Ingrid and Peter escape (but not before accidentally killing a hiker by mistake… which is oddly never brought up or seems to have an effect on either of their mental health) and check in to the local hospital, where the police FINALLY decide to do something about it and round up a posse for a good ol’ fashioned manhunt! Believing Joanne to still be out there, Peter sets forth on his own manhunt, against the wishes of the law enforcement.

Peter races against the posse to find this backwoods killer and stop him once and for all. And also to make sure his friend is still alive. It all boils down to a duel, with Ingrid somehow running out of the middle of nowhere and finding Peter to help him stop the maniac once and for all. I guess GPS tracking devices were invented while they were in the hospital and the doctors implanted one inside Peter without him knowing… or it’s just a coincidence.

Although the gore may not be the most amazing practical effects and at times laughable (although given the tone of the film, it’s a safe assumption it was intentional), it was enough to land this film a spot on the notorious Video Nasties list. Even though it was later removed (in 2007) because the effects are so laughable, it’s still noteworthy. The film has a certain sleaze feel to it and I get that feeling like I’m watching something that I shouldn’t be every time I view this and it makes me giddy, which is what I think was the reaction the James Bryan was looking for. It’s not a film to be taken seriously, so loosen up and have a good time with it. It’s actually surprising to read that there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding this film upon its release. Being an over the top slasher flick from the 80’s, depicting horrific death scenes makes it a perfect target I suppose. Some of the deaths feel like possibly the intent was to cause controversy, such as the woman being killed in front of her child and the man in the wheelchair having his head cut off, but the fact that the acting is so hokey, if you want to call that acting and the crew most likely intended to do it so. The film even has its share of pointless scenes, like where a roller skater (in the woods…) bumps into the Sherrif and they both go about their day. Why was she rollerskating in the woods? Where was she headed? Was that supposed to be a jump scare? I can’t believe people were so up in arms about this, even back then. Silly people looking for things to be upset about. Sigh.

Don't Go in the Woods
Don’t Go in the Woods is a simple, silly slasher flick not to be taken seriously. Sure, the acting is so cheesy that it’s stinkier than Munster cheese, but the kills are so entertaining! Sure, none of the characters are really likeable in a realistic since, but they are so goofy that you don’t mind hanging out with them for the duration of the movie. You’ll have more fun watching this movie than you would actually going camping. Plus you don’t have worry about getting killed by some crazy woodsman.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Don’t go in the woods alone, but you do anyway.
  • Bird watching costs an arm…
  • Peter of the jungle… or woods, whatever.
  • Bear trap headache.
  • Painting the canvas red.
  • Mountain man Ewok.
  • Lazy law enforcement.
  • Sleeping bag pinata.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Mutilations galore in a spectacle of over the top blood, made from BBQ sauce!

0

blood

BREASTS

I don’t even think we get any cleavage and coming from a director of adult movies, that is shocking.

6

beast

BEASTS

The grizzle killer is pretty scary, but I take away points for his weird Ewok costume and beads on the face.

4.6 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!

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Jun

Tagline: They eat the living!

Year: 1980           Runtime: 101 min

Director: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn) & Claudio Fragasso

Writer: Claudio Fragasson & Jose Maria Cunilles

Starring: Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay

There are any number of things that go awry that result in a b-movie: no budget, no talent in front of the camera, no talent behind the camera, no talent planning the film, etc., etc. There is no shortage of the preceding list which means there’s no shortage in b-movies. That’s great for the fans, and even better for us here on The Lost Highway, but the thing is, not all b-movies are “so bad they’re good.” That magic something that makes a bad movie entertaining is as elusive as Nessie and Sasquatch and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar.

Is it genius? Is it luck? Madness? A little column A, little column B, little column C? Like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

One avenue where I’ve noticed a high amount of success is where filmmakers ride the coattails of a more popular movie. The idea is simple: latch onto something that’s making money and exploit it with a cheap reproduction. Italian filmmakers in the 70s and 80s were particularly brilliant at capitalizing on this maneuver. Every genre is open to such exploitation, and infamous filmmakers were all too willing to slop something together for the fans lucre, I mean, enjoyment. Hell of the Living Dead sets the bar higher in that it tries to capitalize on three genres: zombies, cannibals, and natives (i.e. dark skinned people who are generally portrayed as cannibals) at once—and fails at them all.

There is no mistaking the je ne sais quoi of a spaghetti [fill-in-the-genre] film. Hell of the Living Dead reeks of it. One would think that in the light of such overwhelming ridicule these films received the filmmakers would call it quits after one, maybe two, flops. But no matter how far off the mark a exploitation movie landed, most of these filmmakers made many more schlock films. Unlike the specially designed javelin used to correct for Lamar’s limp-wristed throwing style, there is no correction possible for a Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso hot mess of a film.

Buddha be praised!

Word of Caution: because Hell of the Living Dead is a cinematic disaster of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink calibre, it will appear I am having a hard time staying coherent. If you find yourself wondering, “What in the hell is he blubbering about?” don’t worry, it’s not because I’ve stroked out. That’s just the movie. Don’t think too deeply about the incongruities. Attempts to untangle the jumble will only cause you stress related injures. Allow the madness to wash over, and away, from you. The hollow feeling and night terrors will pass. The rocking, though, is permanent.

Hell of the Living Dead

The film opens in an industrial complex, a Hope Center. There are lots of white coat clad people with clipboards walking about with airs of important business. These are the world’s top scientists working on world hunger and stuff. How does flipping switches in what looks like a nuclear power plant solve the problem? No idea. Thankfully the movie exposits that the Hope Centers’ mission is to achieve Satiety, Peace and Good Happiness Stuff through the top secret project, Sweet Death.

Oh, Sweet Death, huh? Makes less sense than flipping switches, but OK. Interesting name though.

What’s more interesting is Sweet Death is a gas which kills people and then reanimates them as flesh eating zombies.

Uhm… I suppose “hope” has a special meaning in Italian that doesn’t quite translate into English.

One of the capsules has a meltdown during this flurry of activity, or as one worker puts it, “a routine spot check,” and Sweet Death gets out. The whole facility is infected. Another generation of idiots are removed from the gene pool, just in the nick of time. It’s not too bad though, this Hope Center is off the coast of New Guinea, which means there’s still a chance to keep this mishap under wraps. Keeping this PR nightmare quiet is important because most (third world) people are happy to have Mosanto, eherm, I mean, the Hope Centers in their countries, helping them with hunger and stuff.

(The movie says there are Hope Centers, i.e. more than one. It only shows the one. It hints of the others in moments of exposition that serve only to confuse and annoy the audience. Are they all working together? Are they independent? Who is paying for all this? Who knows.)

But not everyone is blind to Evil Corporate Big Brother Reich’s real plans. A band of know-it-all college hippies takes an American embassy hostage to expose the truth, man. What they get for all their planning and effort is a special Interpol commando team (SICT) with itchy trigger fingers. Wearing protective gear wasn’t part of their course at university, and they’re too smart to duck and/or get behind cover, so another generation of idiots are removed from the gene pool, just in the nick of time.

That concludes the unnecessary but entertaining portion of the film. Now that the film’s introduced SICT, on to the zombie action!

Because the Sweet Death outbreak is confined to New Guinea the UN sics SICT on it. SICT is supposed to… well… the movie never says. Mike, the SICT leader admits, when they finally arrive at the Hope Center, that he doesn’t know what their supposed to do. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

SICT flies INTO the country, where they then have to make their way cross country to the coast, then out to sea to the Hope Center. While this would seem to be as smart a lighting your pubic hair on fire to remove a lice infestation, it turns out to be a necessary contrivance. It’s only in hindsight that one learns that this lame planning is to pad out the film’s runtime. Without the cross country adventure the movie would run about 30 – 35 minutes.

None of the journey is necessary to the story. Actually, there’s not really a story, so tacking this scene on to that scene and another to this other one is as good a plot as Hell of the Living Dead offers. Cutting through the country is simply an excuse to pick up Lia and her cameraman, show some natives doing native things, and have the zombie attacks.

To add realism to the native scenes the filmmakers incorporated a bunch of footage from a documentary.  They did the same for establishing shots of traveling through the jungle. As you can expect the footage doesn’t match up. The editing is so bad that it doesn’t come close to fitting in with the original footage. In one scene there’s a kangaroo rat running through a desert that’s supposedly next to the Landrover as they’re driving through the jungle. In another scene we see natives canoeing in a wide river, but the commandos are in a thick jungle nowhere near water.

But it’s the sound dub for the animals that’s the tops. I thought there was nothing funnier than seeing a Kung Fu movie dubbed into Spanish. I was wrong. Hell of the Living Dead does one better, they dubbed different animal sounds for the ones shown. The best is a scene of what looks like storks dubbed in turkey gobbles. Priceless.

What would a 80s B horror flick be with out gratuitous nudity? Not a 80s B horror flick, that’s what. At least not an Italian one. As there’s only one woman, it’s Lia who has to show one for the team. Why she does so is classic horny teenage boy logic. The only way to get into the savages’ village is for Lia to go in topless and a vine g-string. Why? Because she lived with the tribe for a year. Uhm. OK. Does that mean she ran around naked save for a vine g-string that year? Is this what all women do, or just white women? Eh, who cares. She jogs ahead of the vehicles for a bit for some nice jiggle action. Bonus (for the extras playing natives that day): All the tribe members get to touch the naked white woman. SUH-weet!

Ultimately Hell of the Living Dead is to zombie movies what Taco Bell is to Mexican food. It will give you diarrhea and shaves an hour and a half off of your life. Yet, for some crazy reason, you keep going back for more.

roadside attractions

  • Hear the racism in lines like: “What kind of terrorist? Palestinian? Iranian? New kind?”!
  • Gape as the characters do while their close friends and co-workers and lovers are eaten by zombies!
  • Witness a vicious zombie rat attack!
  • Learn what the UN truly is: a big theatre with 12 people waving and throwing papers at one another!
  • Wonder why everything is contaminated and turning people into zombies except for our heroes!
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Buckets of blood, black slime, and sundry goop.

2

blood

BREASTS

Lia, the sole woman, has to strip to get into the natives’ village.

10

beast

BEASTS

Loads of Poo-Faced™ Zombies.

7.33 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 >>