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Jun

Comments Off on Madman

Madman
1982 – R – Code Red
Starring – Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish – Directed by Joe Giannone

Ah, summertime. I believe Will Smith said it best when he said, “Every moment frontin’ and maxin’, chillin’ in the car they spent all day waxin’. Leanin to the side, but you can’t speed through, two miles an hour so everybody sees you.” This has nothing to do with this review, but man wasn’t that a good song? Especially in the summer?

Alright, now that the joke is out of the way, summer holds a special nostalgic place in most of our hearts. For me, going to camp was one of the most exciting parts. Getting together with all the other kids to play games, learning survival skills and telling spooky stories around the campfire. And let’s be honest, you felt so accomplished when they would slap a badge for that on your shirt, but instantly demasculate you with a baking badge. Nonetheless, I love the old feeling I get when I’m up late watching horror movies based around summer camp. Brings me back to a time when it was okay for adults to scare the living pee out of children.

One such tale is the legend of Cropsey. An actual story I’m familiar with since it was most popular in the upstate New York area, where I lived when I was young and went to camp. In a nutshell, the story is about a man returning to his familiar grounds and murder anyone who dares to camp there. Of course, this all depends on who is telling the tale, since, as with most legends, there are several versions of it, but this one seemed to be the most popular. So popular in fact, that someone decided to make a movie about and call it The Burning. However, another movie using the same tale was being made around the same time, but the good ol’ Weinstein’s beat them to the punch, so a small rewrite later, writer/director Joe Giannone unleashed Madman.

mm_2It’s the last day of camp as a group of kids are being horribly scarred for life by a ghost story that camp counselor sings to them as he prances around the fire. Chuckling at his amateur kid frightening skills, head counselor Max decides to one up him and calmly tells the children in the most trusting and soothing voice a supposedly true legend that will make sure no amount of therapy will ever help these children. That tale is the legend of Madman Marz, who murdered his wife and child with an axe, where he was shortly hung for his crimes (this was back in the day when lynching was encouraged… or the South), but his body had disappeared! Concluding, his name is never to be said above a whisper or else he would return to his sacred grounds and kill anyone who is present. So of course, the first thing the mouthy little punk Richie (who must’ve been a top contender for Mouth in The Goonies) does is scream his name and unnecessarily throw a rock an unknown amount of distance, which I’m guessing is at least half a mile away, judging by his solo march there later on, smashing out a window on a vacant house. This house seems so far off, it may as well have been Jenny’s house from Forest Gump. All have a good laugh as Max says his goodbye and goodnight to the kids, but Betsy (played by Dawn of the Dead‘s Gaylen Ross) disapproves of the story frightening the children, forever spoiling spooky campfire stories for everyone everywhere.

Betsy has a thing for TP and your guess is as good as mine as to why, since he snuffs her affection before they all return to their cabin. He quickly apologizes to the group about his outburst and to Betsy since it’s probably his last opportunity to hook up, as Max leaves to head into town to get supplies… and beer. Can’t forget beer.

But that’s not why you’re watching this movie. Camp cook and professional whiskey drinker Dippie is the first to fall victim, as Marz tears out his throat. I know we are all attached to this character and you’ll be in disbelief when you see him die, like when you saw Steven Segal die in Executive Decision. Still brings tears to my eyes.

What follows next is perhaps one of the most drawn out, semi-underwater, slow motion love scenes between TP and Betsy and lemme tell ya, you will be reaching for that fast forward button. It seriously drags out for several minutes, which normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, but Gaylen Ross keeps her puppies well hidden the entire time, while TP flexes his cheeks before climbing into the hot tub. While these two are contaminating the water, Madman Marz watches from outside. It’s about this time TP realizes he should probably check on the boys and notices that Richie is missing and goes out looking for him… alone… in the dark woods. Betsy offers to come with him, but he declines, as she sees a lumbering, shadowy figure darting around, but shrugs it off. I’m sure TP will be fine…

Did I say fine? I meant strangled and hung up like a pinata. To the actor’s credit, he really pulls of the excruciating pain that one must go through when being hung, as he actually choked himself by tying a rubber band around his neck! Now that’s “dead-ication.” Meanwhile, Betsy is back at camp complaining to Stacy that TP only wants sex when they realize he’s been gone for quite some time. Dave volunteers to go out alone into the woods to get killed next, bumping into TP’s body along the way and manages to dodge a few of Marz’s axe attacks before one finally manages to decapitate him. He was way in over his head anyway…

mm_3So now Stacy think TP is playing a joke (cause that’s what you did back then, play ineffectual pranks) and takes the car down to find everyone. Investigating something going bump in the night, she bursts in on the other two counselors, Ellie and Bill, about to bump uglies. She leaves them to their session of foreignication and has either very keen senses to where the others may be or this is the smallest wooded area in the world. She literally stumbles on Dave’s headless corpse (you starting to see a pattern here?) and runs back to the truck, but unfortunately the she has fallen victim to horror cliche #14: the stalling vehicle. Using all her mechanic knowledge, which I’m guessing is about none, she sticks her head right under the hood so Marz can cleverly jump on the hood to take off her head. That’s yer problem right there!

Bill and Ellie are hot on her heels searching for her when Ellie spots Marz standing over his trophy, which immediately sends her dashing toward Bill where she pleads with him to do the most rational thing; LEAVE! But what good is that? Bill suggests the most facepalming idea in history, to go check it out. Yes, go right toward the lumbering, superhuman maniac with an axe. Stacy’s body and Marz are gone when they reach the truck and oddly enough, neither of them see the blood splashed all over the front of the truck and decide to drive it back to camp, but if you recall, the truck does not start. Daves finds Stacy’s head in the engine and tosses it aside like an unwanted soggy melon and the truck starts (that’s got ‘er!) and they start to speed back to camp, but not before Marz rips Bill out of the driver’s side and snaps his back like a twig. After the truck crashes into a tree, Ellie runs back into camp and very cleverly hiding in the fridge. Seriously, if I were a killer (I’m not, I swear!), I would never in a million years think to check the fridge for my victims. Fresh ones anyway. That’s where you keep the leftovers. Unfortunately, it’s all for nothing. Once the noise quiets down, Ellie pokes her head out and checks the place out, only to be stabbed. The scene is really well paced and actually made me nervous!

Cut in between all this is the adventures of our young hooligan Richie, who has now stumbled upon the house he threw a rock at, which happens to be the home of Marz. After poking around a bit, he finds the dead bodies of all of the counselors in the basement. Good luck with therapy, kid!

So, if you’re doing your math correctly, this leaves lonesome Betsy, who is unaware that her friends have been brutally butchered. She’s making her rounds like a prison guard, which I’m sure all campers are familiar with that feeling, when she spots Ellie’s body and dashes off to grab a shotgun. Seems like the only smart characters in this movie are gossipy girls. Guys take note; just because your girlfriend talks constantly about makeup and their friend’s current boy toys, doesn’t mean she can’t properly load your hunting rifles and outgun you. Just ask Ellie, who managed to survive her stab wounds and creeps up to the door, who Betsy mistakes for Marz and blasts her friend’s face off. Whoops.

Betsy loads all the kids onto the bus and tells the eldest to drive the rest into town as she searches for her friends, which, remember, she has no idea are already dead. It’s probably a good thing a panicked woman who just emptied a double barrel 12 gauge shotgun at her friend’s head, probably isn’t in the best condition to drive a bus full of scared, jumpy children. Marz attacks the bus before they can leave, but retreats once the non harmful, padded door is shut on his hand and Betsy knows she has to end it once and for all, chasing him down to the house from before that Richie somehow managed to bust a window out from several miles away. After some creeping around, Marz attacks her, slashing her face open and impaling her on a hook Texas Chainsaw Massacre style, but happens to be packing a hunting knife, stabbing Marz who accidentally knocks over a candle, setting the place ablaze. Who knew her inner-pyro would come in handy? All for nothing though, as Marz escapes into the night.

mm_4Coming back from a long night of drinking, Max who is surprisingly not swerving all over the road spots Richie who is riddled with fear. Max asks the Richie what’s the matter, to which he exclaims, “Madman Marz… he’s real!”

To the movies credibility, it does pace the tension and build up very nicely. The scenes that build up to a characters death are drawn out to the point where you will be on the edge of your seat just waiting for something to happen and when it finally does in a glorious, blood splattered death, it pays off. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the scenes of the counselors interacting with one another. I would say it’s too close to real life, since they don’t really discuss anything interesting, but that’s what it is. Just conversations about things I don’t think people actually talk about or girls going on about guys and blah, blah, blah. Mostly, they serve as an excuse for one character to head out into the dark woods alone to find the previous character who went off into the dark woods alone, so at least at times it does get the plot moving along.

Also, for being a low budget horror film of the early 80’s, it does have some of the best atmosphere you can get out of a slasher. The scenes are dark and often backlit, filled with the wood’s cold fog that can make something as open as the outdoors feel claustrophobic and making Marz feel larger than life. Speaking of, Marz is a pretty interesting killer with a well developed back story. Some horror flicks take several sequels to build a character’s backstory and can’t even do as good of a job as this movie did in just a few minutes. I’m looking at you Saw! A sequel was actually planned, picking up shortly after the events of the first film, wherein Richie would be in a psychiatric ward and he and Max return to the camp ground to try and stop Marz, but sadly the movie was never made, most likely due to Madman‘s obscurity or maybe studios didn’t want to take a chance on a lesser known flick, since Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm St. sequels were the ticket.

Madman
I like to find any reason I can to talk about this film, as I mentioned Madman is one of my favorite slashers. Sure it’s filled with a number of cliches, but it’s fun. Heck, I even did a video review of it, which you can check out here. So join me next time around the campfire to tell more chilling ghost stories… and bring S’mores!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • The legend of Madman Marz, as told by the most trusting man ever.
  • Riche, all star quarterback.
  • Dippie.
  • Girl talk.
  • Hanging around.
  • Car trouble.
  • She was shooting her mouth off!
  • Gaylen Ross is Drew Berrymore in Firestarter.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Decapitations, bone snappings, mutilations and throat rips that even Patrick Swayze would be proud of.

3

blood

BREASTS

Two sex scenes and no boobs… something is wrong here.

9

beast

BEASTS

Shove off Jason, make room for Marz!

6.6 OVERALL
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Jun

Comments Off on Countess Dracula

Countess Dracula
1971 – PG – Synapse
Starring Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green – Directed by Peter Sasdy

When hearing the title Countess Dracula or upon a viewing of the box art, thoughts of traditional vampire imagery may flood your mind; fangs and drinking of blood, capes, widow’s peaks, sparkling… but none of that is actually in the movie. The film is more about the supposedly true story of Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Bathory who would be responsible for 600 deaths of virgin girls, through torture and mutilation, in her time, 1560 to 1614. This is, of course, all speculation, but possibly inspired the tales of Dracula and his thirst for blood to remain immortal. Wow, the more you know.

It’s Hungary in the late 17th century, so if it’s not the plague killing someone, it’s war, which has taken the life of Count Nádasdy. He was a well respected man, so of course his will reading is filled with bottom feeding friends and family dividing up his fortune and estate. Countess Elizabeth (played by the gorgeous and late Ingrid Pitt) is none too pleased about having to share her late husband’s estate with her daughter Ilona. Guess someone should have taught her that sharing means caring, but caring isn’t exactly Countess Elizabeth’s strongest feature, as we see when she talks with Captain Dobi, who has been in love with her for a very long time, she often uses him to gain what she wants.

cd_2If she wanted to stiff her daughter on her inheritance, you can deduce how she treats her chambermaid, constantly scolding and belittling her. All this poor woman needs to do is lay down so that Elizabeth may wipe her soles on her, but something tells me that the Countess is the type of woman who likes to grind her soles. If she were a smoker, I can guarantee she would call in her chambermaid to put her cigarettes out on her. But worse things can and will happen, as the chambermaid accidentally cuts herself, splattering her blood on the Countess’ face. But as cruel fate would have it, the blood from this young woman smooths Elizabeth’s face and removes wrinkles. If a little bit of blood can make her look ten years longer, how do you think every drop of blood in the chambermaid’s body would make Elizabeth look? After a morbid brainstorm with her with maid Julie, they seal the young chambermaid’s fate and use her blood to restore Elizabeth’s youth and she is ready to par-tay!

But how would you explain her sudden youthful look to the public? Not even Maybelline could cover that all up, even if she was born with it. Well, remember when I said she wasn’t the most kind or caring parent? Using Captain Dobi (thinking with his “head”), they carry out a plot to kidnap her very own daughter, so that the Countess may pose as her. Geez, Elizabeth makes Alec Baldwin look thoughtful and compassionate in comparison. With Ilona out of the way, Elizabeth is free to make googly eyes with the young studs.

cd_3Hey, even older people have a libido and need to bump and grind from time to time. Before medication like Viagra, people would have to bathe in the blood of virgins. It’s common knowledge. Having inherited the stables from the recently departed Count, Imre, whose father was a close friend and soldier of the Count, Elizabeth falls for his Errol Flynn like mustache and she manages to seduce him just as her age is returning. She manages to flee, but realizes she needs more blood to restore her youth again. Time to put out a Craigslist ad looking for young blood!

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with hooker blood as our hooligans discover when Captain Dobi tries to frame Imre for sleeping with a common streetwalker, which Elizabeth murders her and drains her blood, realizing that she hasn’t reverted in age.

cd_4It doesn’t take long for the nosey librarian to discover what’s going on and Captain Dobi is ready to snuff him out of the equation until the Countess realizes his knowledge of spells could be useful. Fortunate for him, his vast knowledge and newly inherited library that contains books on youth incantations will keep him alive, but for how long? As Countess Elizabeth transforms into her slamming young self again, who should finally arrive (unbeknownst to her), but her daughter Ilona, who has finally escaped from her captors after like the thousandth try. Seriously, you could make a montage of all her escape attempts, sync it to the Benny Hill music and it would be pure comedy gold. After all, Ilona isn’t the most nimble creature on Earth. She is quickly introduced to Imre who learns that she is the Countess’ daughter, but if Ilona is the real daughter, then who is… wha… woah. Someone isn’t who they are claiming to be, but we already know who.

Everything boils down to a dark ending that you see coming, but it’s still pretty gripping, being a Hammer Film and all. What, you were expecting a happy ending? Once a dead body is found inside the castle, the police, or whatever you would call them back then, evacuate all the help, but leave the residence, believing that no harm will come to them as they hunt for the killer in town. Our cast, however, know better and realize they are trapped inside this castle like a prison and must come up with a plan to reveal the Countess and escape.

This Hammer Horror release is sometimes forgotten or overlooked, as it’s a departure from the regular tales of Frankenstein and Dracula that the company is widely known for, but it still captures the same sleazy, gothic atmosphere (if not more so), which is captured phenomenally on Synapse’s Blu-ray release, which is a newly high definition transfer. If you’re a screen junkie or just happen to notice bad transfers, you may recall the previous DVD release from Carlton Visual Entertainment had a noticeable muddy colors and was obviously stretched to make it appear widescreen. Needless to say, it was an eyesore, but not here. Colors feel right, meaning that thing appear how they should and I should mention that Ingrid Pitt’s aged makeup looks pretty well done and this new transfer doesn’t show any weaknesses in it. I did find the audio to be loud at time, mostly with music stings, and quiet during others, but like with most cases, it will in no way ruin the experience for you. Dialogue isn’t muted or muffled, it’s nice and sharp, but seem to dip in levels from time to time. Overall, Countess Dracula has never looked more youthful.

Countess Dracula
There is plenty of deception, murder and betrayal to go around for every sinister feeling fanatic. The countess goes as far as to have her own daughter kidnapped for an indefinite amount of time and who knows, after some time, what her fate would be. It’s a dark plot is that will leave you satisfied, even if you were in it for the usual Hammer violence that isn’t as intense here as their previous films (did I mention there is plenty of sleaze?). And ladies, don’t try this at home (believe me, I tried)!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Ingrid Pitt looks good, even under all that makeup.
  • Virgin Blood by Revlon.
  • Is there a Necronomicon in that library?
  • The Great Escape, starring Ilona.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

These virgins may be drained of their blood, but there isn’t very much.

8

blood

BREASTS

Ingrid Pitt, some dead virgins and a hooker. Everyone wins.

7

beast

BEASTS

Looks can be deceiving. Ingrid Pitt is one nasty mother!

6.3 OVERALL
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May

Comments Off on Graduation Day

Graduation Day
1981 – R – Troma
Starring Christopher George, Vanna White, Linnea Quigley – Directed by Herb Freed

School kids are going to be graduating and soon, the streets are going to be littered with over privileged kids who think they know it all because they maintained a C average in Psych, drinking and driving during the day, being loud and rude in public places and throwing their trash on the sidewalks. Ah yes, the bright, young future leaders of our businesses and country. In honor of this most joyous celebration (or second most dreaded time of the year, the first being Christmas), we’re gonna sit back with a Troma flick and watch these dunces get hacked and slashed in the appropriately titled Graduation Day. This of course was in the wake of the slasher boom since, hey, Friday the 13th was successful, so let’s just do that.

But does copying its neighbors test make it a passing grade?

It’s the end of the school year and track star Laura collapses and dies after crossing the finish line at the 100 meter race. A metaphor for racing to the finish line in life perhaps? Most likely not, it’s just something that happens in the movie. Coach George Michaels (played by genre favorite Christopher George) is blamed for causing her death from pushing her limits too far and also from being one letter away from having the same name as the guy who was in Wham. Plus, he’s kind of a tool, so that doesn’t help. Laura’s sister Anne comes home after hitching a ride from a sleazy truck driver, which I feel is a one sided representation of a truck driver. Until Big Trouble in Little China, truck drivers were always portrayed as fat, lazy and stupid sleaze balls. Anyway, as another member of the track team jogs through the shady woods near the school, someone with a stop watch and a pair of black leather gloves approaches from behind and slits her throat in under thirty seconds! That’s gotta be some kind of slasher movie record.

gd_2So where does Anne fit into all this? Well, she is here to honor her during graduation and accept her diploma and to thank Laura’s boyfriend, Kevin, for all his support. The two meet up later on (no, it’s not what you think, perv) at Kevin’s grandmother’s house, who spends her last few dragging minutes of life sitting in a rocking chair and staring into space while shouting for people to leave or get out. So, basically every old person ever. Anyway, Anne wanted to meet up with Kevin to give him Laura’s track medal, which I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to pawn it for cigarette money.

Since this is a slasher in the early 80’s, we enter autopilot where no characters are really developed and only serve the purpose to add to the body count one at a time, as we watch the same set of gloved hands time his kills in under 30 seconds. Quick thought, Dead in 30 Seconds would make a great sequel to Gone in 60 Seconds, so someone get on that. What on Earth is he timing all these deaths for? Is there some sort of forum where he posts his time and competes? Actually, it does tie in with how Laura died and if you made that connection (as I’m sure most of you did during the first kill), you can already make a safe assumption about who the murderer is.

However, this doesn’t stop the film from trying to throw you off. For example, the principal of the school opens his desk to remove a switchblade to peel an apple (cause you know, just eating it regular would be weird…). We also see a stop watch in his desk, so if you didn’t have a brain, something along the lines of, “Duhhh, whaaa? Is he the killer?” may have popped into your skull, but anyone with the intelligence of more than a tangerine knows better.

gd_3*Editor’s note: I mean no offense to tangerines. I like tangerines. They are delicious.

So if you’ve been keep track of everything I told you, pretty much the remainder of the film is like a tame stag reel of random character deaths, which ordinarily isn’t exactly a bad thing. But believe it or not, this is where the movie really starts to feel like it’s dragging. Of all the scenes in a horror film, you should be excited to see characters get offed, but this is where Graduation Day really fails; none of these characters are truly developed. I’m not saying they have to have really emotional and in depth back stories, but ANY kind of character development would have helped to make their murders feel entertaining instead of random shots of people dying, which is truly surprising given that this movie has a fairly decent cast, which ultimately makes it feel like such a waste! Christopher George, Vanna freakin’ White and Linnea Quigley! Even when poor Linnea gets decapitated (surprisingly almost no blood for a decapitation, by the way) the only thing you know about her is that she is a promiscuous stoner. Which I’m sure may sound great to some of you after just reading that, but once you see the execution (both in character development and demise of), you’ll see what I mean.

By now you may have just realized that Anne hasn’t been in the film in quite some time and isn’t she the heroine of the story? Well just when you think that, Anne pays a visit to Coach Michaels and accuses him of murdering her sister to which he denies (I guess he gots to faith… ahem). We already knew this, but the film really wants to drill it into your head that he’s the killer, but since you’re smarter than that, you know it’s hogwash. So more scenes of randoms dying, mostly through virtually bloodless impalements, and the principal yelling at poor Vanna White for the flood of incoming calls about the school kids missing, which understandably brings in the local police. Not shockingly, the film really doesn’t do anything with this either. A detective shows up, states that they are all probably just out partying or running away with their ladies for the weekend. Really driving home the tired cliche of the uninterested local police force that doesn’t really do any police work. Normally this would be frustrating, but thankfully do to the film’s lack of character development, it’s easy not to care.

gd_4A few students find one of the victims stuffed inside a locker, which Coach Michaels (after having been fired) sees since he is nearby. Boy, they really want you to believe he is the killer. Gee, I guess he is and not who it obviously is… speaking of, Kevin is now locked in fistacuffs with Coach, blaming him for all the murders, but… yeah do I need to keep repeating myself? We know who the killer is, but regardless, the movie wants to drag out this false sense suspense for several more minutes as a chase ensues, resulting in Coach Michael’s being gunned down by the cops, leaving Anne to enter the movie once again just as you are thinking, “where the hell is she?”

So the murderer is dead and everyone can move on, right? Well in such a shocking twist, Anne pays a visit once again to Kevin to see how he is holding up, discovering Laura’s corpse in his room, which could only mean… he is the killer!? Duh, whaaaa?!?! Yeah you saw it coming since he stepped foot into frame. So once again, we partake in another chase scene, leaving you feeling like some exhausted dog; Go fetch the ball, bring it back… but to save us some time, Anne gets the upperhand after a struggle, kicking Kevin onto a giant board of huge nails. You know, even if someone wasn’t killing all the students, I’m sure they would have died anyway, since this school has walls of nails sticking out. And parents think their kids will get hurt playing touch football.

At the end of the day and as much as I hate saying things like this, Graduation Day is nothing more than a Friday the 13th clone and a boring one at that. It feels like something of a cash-in, riding on the coattails of more successful slasher flicks during the boom, than it feels like it actually tried to be something. All of the characters are very one dimensional, the film doesn’t exactly try to play it like the straight man horror film (like Halloween) or even take a chance to let the audience know it’s self aware and spoof the genre. This makes Graduation Day void of (almost) any humor or genuine tense or scary moments. You would think that something following a pretty simple formula would have been successful and make an moderately enjoyable film, but it seems to fall flat in those examples. It’s not that the film itself is confused in which direction it should take the tone or appears to be confused on what it wants to be. It will leave you, for lack of a better word, bored.

Graduation Day
Given the material presented in the movie and being an 80’s slasher, it’s not fun… not even cheesy fun, like something such as Blood Hook or Unhinged. Between the darkness of the film and the headache inducing score makes this one ugly film. It’s hard to believe Troma would later stamp their name on it, seeing as it lacks any elements they are known for. Still, it’s not entirely dreadful, nor is it the worst example of a slasher film. It’s just there, it exists and nothing it presented can save it or make it enjoyable. Not even when Linnea Quigley bears her top. And it takes some sort of bizarro talent to make that not worth the time invested in this film. You’re better of skipping school to avoid this.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • If the glove fits, you must murder.
  • Murder in 30 Seconds!
  • Track and Field… of Death!
  • Corpse kissing.
  • Relaxing bed of nails.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Surprisingly interesting kills with almost no blood.

7

blood

BREASTS

It’s always a pleasure to see Linnea’s pair, but unfortunately it’s in this movie.

1

beast

BEASTS

Blind grandma is far scarier than Kevin.

4 OVERALL
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May

Comments Off on Angry Nazi Zombies

Angry Nazi Zombies
2014 – Not Rated – Revolver
Starring Tina Barnes, Paul Kelleher, Cy Henty – Directed by Jim Eaves, Pat Higgins and Alan Ronald

Angry Nazi Zombies. There’s a title that puts a movie in your head, much like something such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, you’d be lead slightly astray and if you’re like me, you thought maybe it was along the lines of Dead Snow or Shock Waves, but you’d be way off. It’s actually an anthology featuring three thirty minute segments all set in England during World War II. So, do each of the segments contain zombies? Ehh, kinda. The first segment does, the second is more of a ghost story and the last is a creature feature. Ok, so the title is slightly misleading that way, but marketable since zombies are what the kids consider to be hip and when you say Angry Nazi Zombies out loud, it’s sure to grab attention.

Nazis and zombies have always been like chocolate and peanut butter; they go well together and offers one a variety of horror themed elements to exploit. How well does Angry Nazi Zombies pull it off? Well, clearly that’s what we are going to talk about. Sheesh.

nza_2Unlike some of the previously mentioned anthologies, there is no narrative tale that binds these stories stories together. Instead, we dive head first into the segment “Medal of Horror,” which I have to admit is a clever name and sports a stylish title card ala brand label on a bottle of whiskey. A soldier named George who writes those, “sorry about your loss” letters watches a sexy burlesque dancer, played by real life burlesque dancer Jeanie Wishes (check her out on the Facebook). She falls in love with George and the two have a night of fiery, passionate love, but no love for us, since her bosom is always covered up by his hands. Lucky hands! But you know how it is; she starts getting all clingy and you have to fake your death and write a grief letter using your honed skills. As fate would have it, her pappy happens to be a General and knows about his dirty little lie and sends George on a suicide mission to rescue his daughter who has been kidnapped by Jezebel of the SS! Wow, what a string of coincidences. As a character, George is pretty unlikable, seeing as he’s a sniveling coward, bailing on those who need his help and whimpering along the way. In fact, I believe all of his battles, complete with the most unnecessary slo-mo, and his encounters with the undead (I think a whole two or three zombies), he manages to escape through dumb luck. He even defeats his villains through sheer, blind luck, but as fate as been following him and his coward ways, it ends on a “what goes around comes around” note and justifiably so. The short does jump in between serious and comedic tones, which can be jarring since it’s not well transitioned, but when it does either, it does them well.

Moving along, we’re thrown into the supernatural in “Harriet’s War.” A young, attractive paranormal investigator named Harriet (I hope you picked that up from the title) travels to the podunk village Chapelton to investigate a bizarre murder, where the victims are covered in carved swastikas. And you thought getting a rash was bad! Harriet is likable and has that dry, British charm we come to think of. Plus, she is mighty cute, have I mentioned that? The victim was a young man of a grieving housewife who also lost her husband in the war and his girlfriend disappeared during the murder. However during a town meeting, to which the priest of the village openly despises Harriet, she turns up covered in swastikas. Harriet teams up with the local constable in order to solve this crime, which will bring them back to where they started… Using all her gadgets that look like proto-Ghostbusters designs, she tracks down the supernatural element responsible for the killings. It’s quirky, it’s silly and I want to see it in syndication, dammit!

nza_3They certainly didn’t save the best for last. For the curtains, we have “Devils of the Blitz.” As Ruth and her mother take shelter from a bombing in their wicked step father’s home, we see cuts to Ruth’s brother Graham at war, who just lost his best friend in combat, hiding from a Nazi soldier. But you can’t hide forever, as Graham is found by the soldier and the two duke it out. But suddenly to his rescue, a weird demon puppet thing! What? I’m not kidding. This thing looks like it was bought last minute at a Halloween store. I know these are extremely low budget films, but… I had to pause the movie and busted out laughing. It makes the imp from Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-O-Rama look well made. Believe it or not, this little toy chews off Graham’s face and he wakes in a hospital dressed like Darkman, his whole face wrapped in bandages. He begins seeing visions of his dead friend who tells him to take the chainsaw that is for whatever reason there in that hospital (and time period) and go nuts! Meanwhile, Ruth now not only has to deal with that douche of a step dad, but a hand puppet imp as well!

Which leads us to following complaint. While the first two segments are very well acted and shot and have decent effects, this is where the third seems to suffer, although I will say it is acted very well. The story is quite boring and I found myself drifting in and out of attention, but maybe it was due to the fact that it looked like it was shot on Mini-DV, which I don’t have a problem with, but it was boring to look at and the conversations between the family was the same stuff you’ve heard before in a drama and the sound quality seems flat. All dialogue and sound effects sound at the same level and nothing sticks out about this segment. Until you see the rubber demon puppet. That guy is bananas.

nza_4You know, even if they stress the word “zombie” in the title, I’m glad there are barely any zombies in it. You can count the number of zombies in this film on one hand. Given that the film market is oversaturated with zombie films, Angry Nazi Zombies could have suffered heavily from the “zombie-itus” and became obscured in the diarreha sea of crappy direct to video zombie movies, so it was a good move to make it an anthology with different ideas of what zombies are, even if the quality of stories were a mixed bag. Anthologies have made a bit of a resurgence in the past few years after successes with films like The ABC’s of Death and V/H/S or even Trick ‘R’ Treat if we want to go a little earlier than that and it’s nice to see that they can still be done with strong stories.

The quality of the segments seems to deteriorate as the film goes on. While I felt the first film was the strongest and certainly the most beautifully shot, what with great angles and the bar scene is lit wonderfully. I felt the characters were well developed, as unlikable as George was and at first it chugs along (but not unbearably so), but when it picks up, it throws you into all kinds of well directed action. The second segment sort of plays out like a CW supernatural show and given how this segment ends, I wanted to tune in to the next episode. I feel it is the best acted of the three and has some humor in it and I caught myself chuckling more than a few times and it’s, for lack of a better word, fun. The third segment, however, feels like a missed opportunity. They set up this character with a tragic origin that leaves him disfigured and seeing the ghost of his dead best friend warning him of end times, so he grabs a chainsaw and goes on a demon killing rampage, but instead we get the story of his family bickering at thome. Why did we not get that other movie? It would have been so entertaining and probably the fan favorite of the three, but no.

Angry Nazi Zombies
Overall, you may want to goosestep over to your video store (or Amazon) and pick up a copy. especially if you are fan of low budget, indie cinema, like myself. Although the DVD is bare (no extras, no commentaries, nada), it helps support and it’s not a bad film. The theme of the anthology, Britain during WWII, was a brilliant touch and the fact that it isn’t flooded with your typical zombies, makes this a fresh film, both in the zombie genre and anthologies. Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear a puppet demon in my basement.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Angry? Sure. Nazis? Most definitely. Nazis? Eh, sorta.
  • Jeanie out of the bottle!
  • Zombie vs. zombie martial arts.
  • Harriet the Ghostbuster, this Fall on CW.
  • Rubber puppet demon monster!
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Very sparingly, mostly showing injuries, but if the final segment did something write, it was give us chewed up faces.

5

blood

BREASTS

George’s hand cover’s up Jeanies pair, but we do get some elegant side boob.

5

beast

BEASTS

Nazis are always terrifying… until a rubber puppet gets thrown into the mix. No, I won’t let that go.

5.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer!

trailers

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May

Comments Off on Creatures From the Abyss (aka Plankton)

Creatures From the Abyss
1994 – Not Rated – Shriek Show
Starring Clay Rogers, Michael Bon, Sharon Twomey – Directed by Massimiliano Cerchi

Oh my goodness, where do I even begin? I honestly don’t know. I’m completely dumbfounded, like… my brain is trying to reboot. You know, I’ve been watching horror and all kinds of exploitation movies since I was a kid and it’s nice to know that a movie like Creatures From the Abyss can come along and make me say, “What the f**k is this?” Let’s be honest, Italy has made some of the goofiest movies mankind has to offer. Hundreds of years from now after humans have recolonized on a distant planet and are traveling to distant planets to study life from the past, they will stumble upon Earth, dig up this relic and think, “Wow, people in the past were dumb.” I could babble on in complete confusion, but I would only be going in circles, so let’s just start this rodeo.

Five friends frolic and play grab-arse on a Miami beach (because if Italians can’t film in New York, they film in Florida) in front of one of the worst blue-screen stop-motion effects ever. It’s nice that right out the gates the movie is setting the bar that low, as to crush all expectations that you would be seeing anything good. As if it’s saying, “Look pal, this is what you’re in for.” It’s a metaphor for “Abandon hope, ye who enter here.” While this crew of five mismatched dimwits go rafting in a lifeboat with no destination, somewhere else a crew of unknown old guys aboard a yacht are being killed by unknown creatures. So that’s your movie so far; a group of unknown kids are headed somewhere we don’t know to do something, meanwhile a group of unknown old guys somewhere else are being killed by something we don’t see for some unknown reason. That’s a good way to include your audience… by not including them in on anything at all. Well they can’t keep us in the dark forever, so let’s continue.

cfta_2It doesn’t take long for the uncontrollable forces of nature to want these teens dead. Caught in the middle of a storm, drifting in the middle of the ocean, they just so happen to bump into that same yacht and take refuge aboard. But this yacht must be owned by the mad scientists from Resident Evil, seeing as the first thing they walk into is a laboratory and in case you aren’t sure it’s a laboratory, the dweeb of the bunch, Mike (who is also unfortunately our hero), will point it out for you, “It’s a lab!” And don’t worry, he’ll point out many more things, since a rule of bad filmmaking is, ‘if your characters are stupid, your audience is stupider.’ Seriously, this guy makes Nick from Time Chasers look macho and bright. While they are piddling about, something with a wide angle lens is keeping a close eyes on them… very close. So close that it’s completely surprising nobody every sees it! Whatever it is.

They go about the ship, completely ransacking the place for new clothes without a second thought that it may belong to someone or they could intruding on someone’s ship… regardless if nobody is actually there (it’s not the point, dammit!). I may as well point this out now, but every time they walk in the main hallway, you’ll hear an ungodly, off pitched whale noise followed by a child like voice announcing the time from some stupid fish-clock. Oh, and it’s not just two or three times you hear this thing… oh no, they constantly walk by it. All. The. Time. Get used to hearing it ringing in the back of brain. It’s never going away.

But hey ladies, the men have been drifting in sea all day, so while we sit on these cozy sofas, how about you head into the kitchen and don’t come back until you’ve cooked something up, huh? I’m not saying that to be sexist, that’s kinda what happens. Two of the girls, one of which is Mike’s girlfriend, Margaret, go into the kitchen and cook up some fish, while Bobby the nitwit, lamebrain, dingbat, loudmouth or any other insulting way to call someone a neanderthal that I can think of, guzzles down brandy like it’s Capri Sun and sexually assaults Julie. Oh, sorry it’s not sexual assaulting when she finds his horrendous Elvis impersonation charming and giggles while saying, “no.” Meanwhile in the kitchen, the fish that’s being cooked catches ablaze and I don’t mean it catches fire… this thing sends flames shooting up in the air several feet and the fish oozes and gurgles green goo. Eh, Bobby will probably eat it.

cfta_3I hope these kids like their fish really well done. Bobby rams it into his face, belching while he chugs more liquor, clearly proving that men evolved from apes and Dorothy becomes ill, most likely in a combination of the ooze squirting fish and Bobby’s natural funk. She vomits up what looks like milk and egg yolk, followed by beetles to make it one of the most disgusting vomit scenes ever captured on celluloid. Suddenly a crash catches their attention, forcing the guys to investigate. Naturally, Bobby does that thing where he goes ahead, Mike calls his name, then Bobby jumps out and scares him. You know, that same shtick Ash and Scotty play in Evil Dead. Well much to their surprise, someone is alive (remember, Mike will remind you, so don’t worry) and it’s one of the scientists from the earlier cuts! Throughout the pretty much the remainder of the film, he’s in a catatonic like state, but I think that he’s in shock from being in this movie.

What were those scientists doing here? Mike finds his answers back at the lab, where he finds that these scientists found prehistoric fish and the fish broke loose, killed the scientists and blah, blah, blah, when suddenly they are attacked by said prehistoric fish! Good thing these fish can swim through air! Seriously, they do! Mike goes Margot Kidder level of crazy and grinds the fish in a meat grinder and smashes up the lab for good measure, while Bobby stands around with his jaw hanging open. Somewhere in this part of the movie, Margaret tells Mike she is pregnant and wants to get married. Subtle. Mike, with his new knowledge of the crew of this ship, questions the scientist, “How long have you been f***ing fish?” No disgust, no emotion, not even a follow up question. Just lays it out there.

But would you believe me if I told you the movie hasn’t even gotten ridiculous yet?

Upon reading some notes, Mike learns that it isn’t the fish being primordial that causes them to be violent, but from radioactive plankton. You see, earlier Bobby found bags and bags of what he thought was cocaine and was super excited about it. Turns out, it was the aforementioned radioactive plankton that turns people into horny mutant fish creatures…

cfta_4I’m gonna give you a second while that sinks in.

You good? Ok, anyway, Bobby finally talks Julie into sleeping with him, because it’s been awhile since we’ve seen boobs and since Bobby has done something to make you hate human beings. I guess several dozen ‘no’s’ mean ‘yes.’ During this, the armpit of sex scenes, Bobby begins to transform into a giant fish monster, to which Julie pretty much doesn’t notice until Bobby’s eyeballs pop out of his skull and into her mouth (you know, I was gonna make a balls in mouth joke, but this movie is crass enough, so I’m gonna take the high road). You have to know your career has hit a lower point than Courtney Love’s when you direct a giant fish monster thrusting and oozing all over a naked woman and in her mouth. I don’t think fans of tentacle porn would find this erotic. Margaret sees this and runs to get Mike, because if there is anyone that can handle that situation, it’s definitely Mike. However, Julie doesn’t remember anything that happened and Bobby opens the door, looking like his disgusting self (I prefer the mutated-monster-fish Bobby). What in tarnation is going on around here?

If the movie hasn’t repulsed you yet and killed your will to live, give it a few more moments. Soon, Julie begins having cramps and punches her self repeatedly in the stomach, because that’s what doctors recommend you should do for abdominal pain. Then Julie begins to “lay eggs,” which looks like caviar and egg white or melted icecream with crushed up Oreo’s pouring from her… you get the idea. Mike and Margaret finally realize that the ship isn’t so safe after all and that they should grab the scientist (that Mike has occasionally been nursing back to health by feeding him hard booze, because that’s what an unstable mind needs) and get out of dodge. However it won’t be that easy. At least not for people of this caliber of stupid.

The alarm is blaring and THAT STUPID, F***ING FISH CLOCK WON’T SHUTUP! Pouring gas all over the ship, Mike’s ready to blow that puppy sky high, when mutated-fish-monster-Bobby attacks him. Mike manages to wet his pants and flee, bumping into Margaret. While trying to escape from the ship with the doctor, Margaret begins to feel ill and feels something changing inside her. It’s a good thing she is pregnant and she and Mike are getting married, so there is no way anything bad could happen… But as she begins to change, she does the ballsiest things anyone has done in this movie; armed with a spear gun, she points it at her face and fires, freeing Mike from the horrible clutches of marriage. Maybe he and the doc can get a sweet bachelor’s pad.

cfta_5Suddenly the super-duper-monster-fish-destroyer-Bobby shows up for the final boss fight, but unfortunately for him, his weakness is crazy, male nourished, drunk scientists, as the scientist plunges a syringe (earlier he made some cocktail in the syringe) killing the creature as the boat explodes and Mike survives… or does he?! Do you really care? Do you really want a sequel?

That was truly… amazing. Wow, I mean, movies don’t get more entertaining than that. It’s a movie that makes Devil Fish look like Jaws. This plot is so, for lack of a better word, stupid, that they had to write even more stupid characters for their plot to seem intelligent. Which is a good segway into the dialogue of this movie. When Mike isn’t pointing out exactly what’s in front of you (again reinforcing that the plot is stupid, so the characters have to be more stupid, so therefor the audience must be incredibly stupid) and Bobby isn’t replusing you with every word farted out of his mouth hole, the screen is littered with revolting, yet incredibly cheap looking special effects that are dripping and oozing all kinds of goo. These are some of the silliest stop motion and animatronic creatures you will ever see. All of these stomach turning effects are filmed up close with wide angle lenses, as are the characters reactions. You thought Bobby was gross enough with food and offal smeared all over his face? Wait til you see it like it’s an inch from your face. Then watch as his face melts apart and he sweats as he heaves and thrusts while doing the nasty. Think about this jackhole procreating. Barf bags not included, but should be.

I don’t know why this exact thought is coming into my brain, but I want to see Andrew W.K. smash a brick into Bobby’s oily, stupid smirking face. Thankfully we do get a break from Bobby’s irritable self and the girls show off their gazongas, grabbing them and commenting that it’s time to get a new bra. At least the director was smart enough to realize he was going to lose the male audience if he didn’t throw in obligatory breast shots every so often. In between those money shots, the film could have gotten boring, but luckily an incompetent writer and director makes for some of the best and cheesiest dialogue. Someone, somewhere in this movie actually says, “They frighten me… they have an evil expression,” when commenting on the fish. It goes beyond over the top ridiculous, that you would swear whoever was atrociously dubbing them were just making stuff up. Like they just made the plot up as they went along, but if that’s the case, I would believe it more than someone was actually paid to write this. So even when nothing is happening, you’re still entranced by whatever they are talking about. It’s more than watching a collective group of numbskulls stammer and try to figure out a mystery that the Scooby Gang could’ve solved in their sleep, it’s… I don’t know how to describe it other than “magnificent.”

Creatures From the Abyss
This is one of those movies that should have become infamously “so bad, it’s good,” like The Room or Troll 2, but since it’s only been put out by Shriek Show in 2007 in the Mutant Monsters Triple Feature pack (along with The Being and The Dark), I don’t think it’s had much luck in the way of marketing, which is a shame, although that triple pack and the movie individually are widely available at a good price. With a little more push, this could have been seen by a wider audience and finally achieved that cult status it deserves or maybe it’s a good thing that it sunk to the bottom of the sea of bad movies, waiting to be discovered by cinephiles with love for the bad and the obscure. Time will tell.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Captain Obvious.
  • Radioactive plankton coke party!
  • Beetle regurgitation!
  • Bobby, the man who inspires contraceptives everywhere.
  • Mutated-melting-monster-fish sex scene!
  • Some caviar for the lady?
  • Face full ‘o’ spear!
  • Fish clock…
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Little but, but plenty of gooey, melty fish monsters.

7

blood

BREASTS

“I think it’s time to buy a new bra!”

3

beast

BEASTS

Laughable automatronic and stop motion fish are no match for Bobby.

5 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie… in Italian!

trailers

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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 >>