Skip to content

John’s Horror Corner: Panic Beats (1983; aka Latidos de pánico), this Spanish horror movie is mediocre 80s Euro-exploitation horror-LITE.

January 27, 2022

MY CALL:  Really just for those of you seeking a serviceably bad 80s Euro-exploitation. It tries at times, succeeds rarely, and mostly relies on empty nudity to entertain.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Panic Beats: This is a tough one… maybe Embodiment of Evil (2008) and its many, much older predecessors dating back to the 60s.

We open with… uuuhhhhhhh, a bloodied naked woman (who spends way too long naked and on screen) running through the woods fleeing a mounted knight (Paul Naschy) who proceeds to butcher her with a spiked flail? Yup. This sure feels like early 80s Euro-exploitation to me.

Then we tastefully cut to present day, when Paul (Paul Naschy; often starring in his own films) must relocate his (shockingly fully-clothed) ill wife (Julia Saly; Night of the Werewolf, Demon Witch Child) to their remote estate in the mountains for her recovery. Mabile (Lola Gaos; Blood Hunt, Furtivos) and her niece (Frances Ondiviela) staff the house and provide us with a history of the foul knight who once lived there, slaughtering his (naked) wife and much of his family before facing trial for murder, witchcraft and drinking the blood of men. Sounds like an interesting guy to me.

Shortly after their arrival to the manor, his wife’s nightmares begin. But after such a wild opening sequence, the movie slows down a lot for the next 40 minutes. Sure there’s a chunky throat gash, gory goop on dining trays, and visions of mutilated zombies. But it’s all very horror-LITE for my taste. Meanwhile, we know that “someone” is trying to drive his wife mad and, with her heart condition, a good scare just may be her end.

The greatest impact this movie had on me was how shocked I was by the amount of bush on screen. Super classy. At one point there were back-to-back scenes featuring different women and, well, all that. And all that bush is foliating the love quadrangle between Paul, his wife, his maid’s daughter, and his mistress (Silvia Miró). It seems that this movie could never decide if it was a horror movie or a sexy thriller, so every 10-20 minutes it switches from one to the other without ever being good at either.

Now I know what you’re thinking. How is it a bad sexy thriller with all this nudity? And the answer is that the nudity is actually rather empty. There are no sex scenes; there’s only we’re “about to have sex” or “almost sexy” scenes. It’s as if the director just wanted to see these actresses naked… a lot… all of them. And the horror side, well, never sticks a landing in the first 80 minutes. But in the last 10, the ax murder was actually quite unexpected and a gory blast of fun. Easily the best scene of the movie—not that we set the bar very high. And the finale includes some exceptional sloppy head trauma gore.

By the end everyone gets killed. I guess it was a sort of entertaining ride. But it’s a ride I never need to go on again. Despite the general averageness of this movie, writer and director Paul Naschy (Night of the Werewolf, The Beast and the Magic Sword, Howl of the Devil) has piqued my interest to try perhaps at least one more of his films… a hazardous decision I very well may regret.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 409: Jumping Scenes in Movies, Sprained Ankles, and Nosferatu

January 27, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and Nicholas Rehak (@TheRehak on Twitter) discuss their favorite jumping scenes in movies. In this episode, they talk about The Matrix, Fast & Furious 6, Cliffhanger, Reign of Fire, Skyscraper and Goldeneye. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

Meander (2021) – Review: A Fun and Thrilling Horror Film That You Should Watch

January 23, 2022

Quick thoughts – Grade – A- – Meander is a lean and mean horror film that is refreshingly straightforward. I love how it quickly gets to the action, and builds towards a satisfying conclusion. 

It’s been well over a month since I watched Meander and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I sat down and watched it again and I’m happy to report that it’s even better than I remembered. Normally I dislike the phrase, but it has definitely been living rent-free in my head since the first viewing. There’s something refreshing and admirable about the straightforward world building and dedication to creating an experience that stands alongside movies like Cube or The Descent. The 90-minute experience directed by Mathieu Turi is lean and mean and surprisingly easy to follow as the vast tunnel system in which the film takes place has a certain logic (horrible things happen), and every piece of death puzzle plays an important part.

Meander kicks off with a birds-eye view shot of a car driving through the deep woods towards the middle of nowhere. Soundtracked by the Shawn James song “Through the Valley,” it establishes the isolation and wide open terrain where a massive system of tunnels could be built to allow for the ensuing death and carnage to go unnoticed. This is where we meet Lisa (Gaïa Weiss), who is laying in the middle of the road hoping a careless driver uses her as a speed bump. Before she’s flattened, the car stops and we meet a stranger who may or may not be the killer people are talking about on the car radio. From there, things go dark and the next time we see Lisa she has been changed out of her clothes, and stuffed into a form-fitting Hunger Games-esque outfit meant to streamline her journey through a system of tunnels that are trying to kill her. In a smart filmmaking choice, her journey is lit by a large wristwatch-from-hell that emits a yellow light in the dark tunnels and turns red to let her know when things are about to get deadly. Immediately we’re thinking she’s part of a bored billionaires death game because it would take millions of dollars and loads of discreet contractors who signed non-disclosure agreements and didn’t ask about the acid traps or flame throwers that work on highly technical timers. In a neat almost spoiler-y twist, things soon take a turn towards science-fiction when we’re introduced to a skull-like contraption that might be the most interesting horror visual of 2021 (aside from the chair throw in Malignant) and burnt maniacs who crawl through the tunnels looking to violently bite, claw and throttle anyone unlucky enough to come across them. 

To spoil the rest would be a disservice, but it’s worth noting the journey of Lisa, who goes from being suicidal, to becoming an unstoppable and determined force of nature who isn’t about to let some tunnels kill her. In some of my favorite horror films such as Drag me to Hell, Crawl, and The Descent, I love watching characters draw from some hidden reservoirs of strength as they battle demons, cave monsters or hungry alligators who are trying to either send them to hell or eat them. It’s also nice that Lisa isn’t dragged down by too much backstory or drama. We know that her daughter died, and she was laying in the road because it would’ve been her ninth birthday. We also know that Lisa doesn’t really want to die, she was laying in the road because she just wanted to see her daughter again. It may be contradictory, but it makes sense when we see how far she goes to survive. A lot of credit needs to go to Weiss whose physicality and sense of urgency make you cheer for her, and you almost feel the pain when she’s crossing over a devious acid trap that has undoubtedly disintegrated the bones of dozens of past competitors. 

Director Mathieu Turi has been open about his love for Cube, and that love is evident in Meander. He wanted to create a fun horror experience and he totally succeeded. I love how streamlined the film is, and I appreciate the visual storytelling that slowly unravels a wild new world. I’m not sure if it will happen, but I’d love to see a sequel, and I hope Weiss and Turi continue getting solid work.

Mass (2021) – Review: Director Fran Kranz Has Crafted a Mature Look at Grief, Sadness, and Forgiveness

January 21, 2022

Quick Thoughts: – Grade – A – Director/Writer Fran Kranz has crafted something truly special. 

Shortly after finishing Mass, I immediately went online to see if the film had been adapted from a stage play that director/writer Fran Kranz had produced. I incorrectly assumed that he wrote the piece, and performed it hundreds of times to perfect the timing, speeches and tissue box placement that make it so rich. When I learned that he wrote it as a film, and not a play, it actually made a lot of sense because the actors aren’t playing to the back row in Mass, and instead it’s meant to be an intimate look at two families trying to reconcile with grief stemming from a mass shooting that left several teenagers dead. The intimate setting inside a church classroom, which acts as a neutral ground for the two couples feels believably lived in, with the circular folding table, stackable chairs, and the slightly askew horizontal blinds which let in welcome natural light. What follows is surprisingly mature and somber, and if you’re looking for melodrama, whopper monologues, and an ending gut punch, you’ve come to the wrong place as Mass is more interested in finding closure and peace for its characters

Mass begins with a moderator named Karen (Michelle N. Carter) searching for a suitable place to hold the meeting, which has been six years in the making. She’s worried about any distractions and wonders if the choir practice and accompanying piano music will be too distracting for the families. She, and church volunteers Judy (Breeda Wool) and Anthony (Kagen Albright) settle on a quiet room in the rear of the church that is far enough away from the noise, and will allow the families to talk without being interrupted by a rousing rendition of “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” What’s nice about this moment is that it sets up the importance of the meeting, as it requires a moderator, and could be waylaid by too many distractions. Also, I like how Mass begins with a slight comedic tone that doesn’t immediately drown you with sadness, this allows the viewer to settle in and get ready for what’s to come. 

The four people meeting are a married couple Jay Perry (Jason Issacs sporting wonderful bags under his eyes), and Gail (Martha Plimpton), whose child was killed during a school shooting. The other couple are the divorced parents of the school shooter, Linda (Ann Dowd) and Richard (Reed Birney), who have been largely quiet since the tragedy for fear of lawsuits or threats of violence from grieving family members or their friends. When they finally meet they exchange pleasantries (and flowers), and assure each other that there will be no lawsuits or issues that stem from the meeting. With all the chess pieces in place, Kranz guides us through an emotional discussion that is loaded with tears, denial and anger. Issacs and Plimpton clearly want to unload on Linda and Richard for raising a monster, and it takes everything in them to keep it civil as they’re asked to be fireworks who can’t actually explode.  

After years of grief and sadness the four characters are equally exhausted because they’ve had to live with tragedy, or know that their child grew into a killer who used homemade bombs to terrorize his victims. Their conversation is loaded with offense, defense, denial, truth, tears, raised voices, platitudes, and eventually mutual understanding. It’s thrilling to watch because it’s so intimate and real, it’s like you’ve been placed inside the classroom as a spectator witnessing the event and there’s nothing that can take you out of it because the performances are so solid, and the dialogue doesn’t feel stylized or manipulative. It’s easy to understand why the four actors took the roles, as they are wildly meaty and all of them are equally weighted. It seems like a true ensemble which is why they were bestowed the Best Ensemble award by the Atlanta Film Critics. and were nominated for Best Ensemble by the Georgia Film Critics Association (I’m a member of it – Licorice Pizza won, which is cool too).

A lot of credit needs to go to cinematographer Ryan Jackson-Healy who finds enough interesting angles to keep the conversation looking interesting. While filming inside a room seems easy, it’s not, as the four characters need coverage and Jackson-Healy never finds a flat shot, or an overly stylized angle to film the meeting. His camera work services Fran Kranz’s excellent script by knowing that it’s an excellent script, and the main goal is to get the actors in frame and not distract from the conversation. Looking back at Mass now, it is more impressive that Kranz made his debut with it. It doesn’t feel overly written (there are no moments that have exclamation points on them), and it’s very mature, and controlled. The performances are all top-notch, and while Dowd is receiving the lion’s share of the nominations, there isn’t a weak link in the group. 

Final thoughts: Between Holler, The Novice, Tick, Tick….Boom!, and Luzzu, 2021 was loaded with excellent movies by first time directors.  I’m excited to see what Kranz does next.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 408: Dragonheart, Exploding Melons, and David Thewlis

January 19, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and Adam Hodgins (of the GoFigure YouTube show) discuss the 1996 fantasy film Dragonheart. Directed by Rob Cohen, and starring Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, David Thewlis and Dina Meyer, the movie focuses on what happens when a dragon slayer teams up with a dragon to make some cash. In this episode, they discuss bratty kings, excellent VFX, and errant arrows. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast -Episode 407: Drop Dead Gorgeous, Beer Cans and 1999 Comedies

January 14, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and John (@MFFHorrorCorner) discuss the 1999 cult classic comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous. Directed by Michael Patrick Jann, and starring Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Amy Adams, Allison Janney and a beer can that becomes infused to Ellen Barkin’s hand, the movie focuses on the insanity that occurs during the fictional Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant. In this episode, they talk about step ladders, 1999 comedies, and the excellence of the all-star cast. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

MFF Data: Analyzing the Screams in the Scream Franchise

January 12, 2022

This morning, I woke up with this feeling, I didn’t know how to deal with, and so I just decided to myself that I’d count all the screams featured in the Scream franchise to see if there’s an ideal amount of screams, or whether they affect the Tomatometer/IMDb/Metacritic/Box Office results.

After some research, I found that there are a few infographics, lists and videos that attempted to count the screams, but they didn’t seem thorough enough to stop me from my quest. Thus, I felt like my idea to count the screams was justified (Hello Mickey from Scream 2). To prove I did the work, I’ve provided timestamps of all the screams I included in my count.

Here’s what I counted as a scream:

Scream – When a character belts out an “aaaaaaahhhh” or “eeeeeeeee” (you know the noise). I didn’t count when a character yells ‘Help me!” or “Oh, sh**!” No words, only primal screams.

I counted screams that occured during these instances:

  1. When a character is being chased or killed
  2. When a character screams in reaction to seeing someone being chased or killed
  3. When there’s a cheeky jump scare and people scream (think Scream 3)
  4. I didn’t include the screams featured in the Stab movie that played in Scream 2

Amount of screams per film

  1. Scream (1996) – 37
  2. Scream 2 (1997) – 51
  3. Scream 3 (2001) – 58
  4. Scream 4 (2011) – 43
  5. Total – 189

Results

Scream (1996)

  • Tomatometer – 79%
  • RT Audience Score – 79%
  • IMDb – 7.3
  • Metacritic – 65%
  • Average of all four – 74 (the 7.3 IMDb score became 73)
  • Worldwide box office – $175 million
  • How many people are killed by Ghostface(s) – 5

Scream features the least amount of screams and death. It also made the most money at the box office, when the audience/critic scores are averaged, it has the highest scores.

r/movies - I rewatched the Scream franchise and recorded every instance of screaming. Scream (1996) features the least amount of screaming (37) and it made the most money and has the highest averaged critical/audience scores. Scream 3 features the most screaming (58), and it has the lowest scores.

Scream 2 (1997)

  • Tomatometer – 81%
  • RT Audience Score – 57%
  • IMDb – 6.2
  • Metacritic – 63%
  • Average of all four – 65.75
  • Worldwide Box Office – $172 million
  • How many people were killed by Ghostface(s) – 8 (Mrs Loomis shoots Mickey, but he’s finished off by Gale and Sidney).

Scream 2 has the highest Tomatometer score of all the Scream films, but the drop off in IMDB and RT audience scores is notable. It’s an excellent horror sequel though. It successfully upped the amount of screams without leaning into self parody.

  • Best Scream – Best Scream – Maureen’s epic Scream is wonderful.
  • Worth Noting – the Scream movies (Scream, Scream 2) featuring a Loomis killing people are the most successful.

Scream 3 (2000)

  • Tomatometer – 41%
  • RT Audience Score – 37%
  • IMDb – 5.6
  • Metacritic – 56%
  • Average of all four – 47.5
  • Worldwide Box Office – $162 million
  • How many people were killed by Ghostface(s) – 9
  • I love Scream 3 (Parker Posey is hilarious), and I appreciate how hard they leaned into comedic screaming. However, critics and audiences did not. It’s the only Rotten film in the franchise and it has the lowest IMDb score.
  • Best Scream – The insane moment when Dewey keeps getting scared and screaming
  • Worth noting – it’s the only Scream movie with one killer.

Scream 4 (2011)

  • Tomatometer – 60%
  • RT Audience Score – 56%
  • IMDb – 6.2
  • Metacritic – 52%
  • Average of all four – 57.5
  • Worldwide Box Office – $96 million
  • How many people were killed by Ghostface(s) – 13

After the scream heavy Scream 3, the franchise took a break and came back with a less-screamy sequel. The franchise went back into Fresh territory, but it failed to restart the series at the box office. It shares almost identical IMDb and RT audience scores with Scream 2, so audiences must like screams in the 43-52 range more than 58+ screams.

r/movies - I rewatched the Scream franchise and recorded every instance of screaming. Scream (1996) features the least amount of screaming (37) and it made the most money and has the highest averaged critical/audience scores. Scream 3 features the most screaming (58), and it has the lowest scores.

Conclusion

  • Scream, the movie featuring the least amount of screams made the most money and has the highest critical/audience average.
  • Scream 2 has the highest Tomatometer score, but a big dropoff everywhere else.
  • Scream 3 is loaded with screaming people, which worked against it, and it has the lowest all around average
  • Scream 4 – Dropped the amount of screams and went back to Fresh territory. However, the huge kill count worked against it.

Conclusion – Scream features the least amount of screams and death, and it made the most money. Also, aside from it’s Tomatometer score, it has the highest Metacritic, IMDb, and RT Audience scores. Scream 3 has the most screams, and it has the lowest RT (critic and user), IMDb, and Metacritic scores. Scream 4 has the most kills, and it made the least amount of money.

Dawn Raid (2021) – Review: A Thrilling Documentary About Two Men Who Swung Big To Achieve Massive Success

January 10, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – A: Dawn Raid is a thrilling documentary that chronicles the rise and fall of the New Zealand based record label Dawn Raid Entertainment. The energy and personalities of the particpants are infectious, and you will find yourself loving the Oscar Knightley directed documentary. Also, you’ll need to create a new Spotify playlist so you can listen to all the Dawn Raid artists (If you haven’t already).

Directed by Oscar Knightley, who says the documentary  is a “achievement of cultural empowerment, and a narrative of failure, or crushing defeat and devastating loss,” Dawn Raid is an excellently orchestrated experience that showcases the rise and fall, and rise again of the New Zealand based music label Dawn Raid Entertainment. What makes Dawn Raid such an engrossing experience are the cast of characters who are open and honest about the record label which started in 1999, and was liquidated in 2007 after poor choices, and minimal business experience closed down the South Auckland business. Founded by Brotha D” Leaosavai’i and Andy Murnane, who named the label after the infamous dawn raids that took place in New Zealand between the 1970s and 1980s, Dawn Raid Entertainment exploded in popularity in the early 2000s as artists such as Savage and Mareko achieve worldwide fame. 

What I really like about the documentary is how Brotha D and Murnanae are open and honest about their strengths and failures which lead to the rise and fall of the record label. While I’ve never created a record label that sold millions of albums and singles, I completely understand how two kids in their early twenties could succeed on sheer will and naivety. The two entrepreneurs built a business with provocative T-shirts, then expanded into producing music inside a makeshift studio, and then went on worldwide tours before realizing they were deep in debt after not adapting with the music industry, or paying attention to creditors who were about to eat them alive. To succeed, they needed to spend money, and for a while that worked as artists like Savage and Mareko traveled to New York City, and were able to record with artists from the Wu-Tang Clan and Akon. However, with illegal downloads, several expensive social programs, and a huge staff (add in big houses and very expensive weddings), the roof caved in on them, and they were forced to liquidate everything. What’s neat about Dawn Raid, is how Brotha D and Murnanae never gave up, and because of that, the company rose from the ashes, as several of their songs (Savage’s Swing was/is HUGE) blew up in popularity due to the movie Knocked Up and TikTok videos. 

Most importantly, the energy in Dawn Raid is electric because of Brotha D and Murnaneu, who make for wonderful narrators because they’re filled with enthusiasm and love for their company and South Auckland. The editing in the doc is excellent too, and a lot of credit needs to go to editor Tim Woodhouse for combing through endless footage to create a well-balanced and dynamic experience. While some of the participants have complained about their portrayals in the documentary, it’s clear that both men understand that in their quest to be millionaires, they dropped the ball, and let a thriving and audacious empire crumble. Their ambition worked against them, and it’s totally possible to think they’d still be operating their studio, store and barbershop in South Auckland if they hadn’t shot for the stars.

If you are looking for an enlightening and charming documentary about two men who dreamed big, and achieved success (and failure), you should definitely check out Dawn Raid.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 406: Underworld: Awakening, Air Ducts, and Huge Werewolves

January 7, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The Underworld franchise conversation continues! Mark and David Cross (of the Award Wieners Movie Review Podcast) discuss Underworld: Awakening (2012), the fourth film in the Underworld franchise. Directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein , and starring Kate Beckinsale, Charles Dance, and Michael Ealy, the movie focuses on what happens when werewolves are foolish enough to mess with a famous death dealer. In this episode, they discuss huge werewolves, frozen people, and crawling through air ducts. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Tiki (2006), the killer doll movie that just might scratch your really bad movie itch.

January 5, 2022

MY CALL:  This is bad. Really bad. Like shot on “porn-video-quality” very, very bad. But if you’re looking for that, then I guess this works.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Tiki: Well, for more (and much better) killer doll movies go for Child’s Play (1988), and then I might skip all the way to Curse of Chucky (2013) and Cult of Chucky (2017)—not that I didn’t enjoy them all to some degree. There is also the excellent remake of Child’s Play (2019). Other quality evil doll films include The Boy (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017), Dolly Dearest (1991), Dolls (1987) and Puppet Master (1989).

From scene #1 writer and director Ron Ford (Witchcraft XI) really wants us to understand his cruise business owner’s villainous motives, which are far more elaborate than we need in a movie about a killer Tiki doll shot on porn-quality video… especially when we consider that this villain is only in this first scene! I keep watching, and this keeps feeling like a stale-acted adult movie that just never leads to a sex scene. But yeah, there eventually is nudity. You don’t get a low budget killer doll movie without nudity. So fear not, if that matters. Truly, among bad movies, the nudity is kind of phoned-in.

Thankfully, the effects are exactly the kind of “so bad it’s good” effects we needed: a skittering puppet literally moved across the screen by someone’s hand just below out of frame, clunking shadows of shaky doll figures “running” without limb movements, and little goblinoid snarls, babbles and laughs as the miniature fiend is running among the clutter of the set avoiding any efforts to find him or whack him with whatever object a soon-to-be-victim had at hand. This little demon toodles around the screen like a sprayed roach.

The gore might be better than I deserved when I bought this movie with this deplorable DVD sleeve and poster image. Fingers are sliced off (off-screen) but spew delightfully (on-screen). When this little monster appears behind a guy’s head and jimmies his eyeball out with his itty bitty spear, I knew I had a winner. And then this little tiny doll uses a wire to strangle a dude, murders a girl by jamming a shampoo bottle in her mouth and Mario-jumping on it to pound it deeper, and sloppily and brutally scalps a girl… pure incredulous nonsense. This movie is terrible, but I had my share of bad movie giggles.

Let’s be clear, there’s nothing “good” about any of this. But it’s so bad it’s fun, and they did the best they could executing some of these deaths considering the obviously tiny budget. I appreciate the effort and the chuckles that this clunky little killer doll afforded me.

All told, this was bad, as expected. But it was so bad it was enjoyable, for which I hoped it would be! I’ll call that a in.

%d bloggers like this: