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Jul

Comments Off on The Perfect House

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.

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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

Comments Off on Curtains

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

Comments Off on The Addicted

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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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

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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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About the Highway

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