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John’s Horror Corner: Frightmare (1983), a different kind of slasher movie… that ends up being the typical kind of slasher movie.

January 30, 2023

MY CALL: Just another 80s supernatural slasher that’s just bad enough to call it “bad”, but just good enough not to regret. The highlight for me was seeing a young Jeffrey Combs. MORE MOVIES LIKE Frightmare: For more supernatural slashers with pretty random-style death scenes, consider Superstition (1982) or Death Spa (1989).

If you’re gonna’ talk smack about an egomaniacal actor deep in his tenure, it’s best to make sure he can’t hear you. Shortly after murdering two directors and then faking his own death, horror movie star Conrad (Ferdy Mayne; Warlock II: The Armageddon, Howling II) is abducted by a group of film student fans thinking he is dead. They party around his presumed dead body like Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) until they go to bed, when Conrad rises and stalks about the house. The catch here that at some point during his charade of faking his own death, Conrad actually died and came back with some ghastly powers. To be perfectly honest, I may have been looking at Instagram on my phone and totally missed something. The opening scenes were far from riveting even if nothing was particularly boring about them. Still, with this premise, I was optimistic we’d get a different kind of slasher movie. I was wrong…

From here the movie is like any 80s supernatural slasher with a house full of twentysomethings. They fool around, wander off to investigate a strange noise in the night, get picked off one by one, and die in hopefully entertaining ways. Conrad pulls out a guy’s tongue, goes full Firestarter and makes a girl catch fire and burn to death, uses some rather boring telekinesis, and cuts off a young Jeffrey Combs’ (Castle Freak, Necronomicon: Book of the DeadRe-AnimatorWould You RatherThe FrightenersLurking FearFrom BeyondCellar Dweller) head. The highlight here for me was simply ‘oh, Jeffrey Combs is in this.’

There are other minor (B-movie) actors one may recognize in addition to a before-he-was-famous Combs—Nita Talbot (Amityville 1992, Puppet Master II, Island Claws) and Luca Bercovici (The Granny, Scanner Cop)—and this movie isn’t padding their résumés.

The premise has some charm to it, but the charm is strongest in the early set up scenes introducing us to Conrad, his egomania, and his plans for his own funeral and thereafter. Another aspect of this film that catches my attention is how it opens feeling more 70s era in its stylings. But overall, this is just another among leagues of perfectly passable and just as forgettable 80s slasher-supernatural horror picking off college kids one by one.

John’s Horror Corner: Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell (1995; aka Japanese Evil Dead), with a title like that I don’t know what else you need to know.

January 29, 2023

MY CALL: Fans of ridonkulous, low budget gorefests, just stop what you’re doing and REJOICE for this B-movie excellence! Here is your buffet of chunky macabre nonsense. You’ll suffer 20 front-loaded minutes of slow backstory, but stick with it. Lots of nods to the gory greats of the 80s complement this looney flick and douse viewers in bloody delight. MORE MOVIES LIKE Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell: For more zany Japanese horror, go for Japanese Hell (1999) and Evil Dead Trap (1988). You want more crazy bonkers Asian horror from other countries? Then try Mystics in Bali (1981; aka Leák), The Boxer’s Omen (1983; aka Mo, Black Magic 4), Seeding of a Ghost (1983; aka Zhong gui) or Lady Terminator (1989).

Okay, this is a 63-minute movie shot on low quality video, and it is starring, written and directed by Shinichi Fukazawa. Let’s temper our expectations accordingly… or perhaps brace yourself for B-movie excellence!

A scorned lover in the 1970s tries to murder her cheating man so he can never marry another. Unfortunately, she dies in the scuffle. So in proper Japanese horror form, she becomes a Grudge ghost of sorts.

Our “muscle bodybuilder” as the title describes, Shinji (Shinichi Fukazawa), is the son of the man who killed his girlfriend in self-defense. Looking more Bruce Lee-svelte than bulging-Bolo Yeung, Shinji is not what anyone would call a bodybuilder, but he sure loves lifting weights. Shinji agrees to help his ex-girlfriend and a psychic investigate the allegedly haunted house. The psychic conjures up the inhabiting Grudge ghost, which kills him and possesses his body. Not a big man by any stretch of the word, Shinji slow-motion poses as he embraces his inherent weapon of “muscle” to combat this evil.

The influence of Evil Dead 2 (1987) is obvious. This movie has the alternate title Japanese Evil Dead, and it’s earned. There’s a lot of laughing deadites, a shovel decapitation, angry decapitated bodies, and Shinji even throws in a “groovy.” There are also stabs and impalements including one through the eyeball, and a healthy dose of blood. This film was made incredibly cheaply, and starts out sluggish. But despite a pretty low budget, it totally succeeds at becoming completely bonkers.

Truth be told, this zany flick does a good job honoring Evil Dead, but other influences are also apparent. Severed body parts rebel and attack. A hand and foot fuse (much as in Frankenhooker) to kick the crap outta’ Shinji, a severed hand makes the disembodied head mobile (much like the antics of Bride of Re-Animator), and projectile prehensile intestines smack of the Re-Animator (1985) finale. Some cheap Claymation reconstitutes a skeleton into a horribly misshapen melty-faced horror that is laughably awesome.

This movie starts out slow. Really slow. Honestly, I didn’t expect to like this at first. But, as its ridiculous title suggested, it really turned around for me. This movie has a LOT of chonky bloody goobeldygook. It’s so over-the-top that it’s… kinda’ great! Solid gold bad movie.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 476: The Movies We’d Watch During the Apocalypse Draft

January 29, 2023

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune 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) talk about the movies they’d watch during an apocalypse. They also talk about coffee, movie island, and the movies they’d avoid during an apocalypse. 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 Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: The Hatred (2017), a mediocre, horror-LITE “haunted house” movie.

January 28, 2023

MY CALL: So yeah, this is mediocre PG-13 horror—(I know it’s actually somehow rated R). I’d recommend it to early teens who scare easily. No one else. Really. It’s that mediocre. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Hatred: For more horror for beginners, consider The Wretched (2019), Séance (2021), Fresh (2022), Monstrous (2022) or the classic Silver Bullet (1985).

When Regan (Sarah Davenport; Deadly Detention, Bodysnatch), Samantha (Bayley Corman), Betaine (Alisha Wainwright; There’s Something Wrong with the Children) and Layan (Gabrielle Bourne) stay the weekend at a countryside house while babysitting the owner’s girl Irene (Shae Smolik; The Sandman, D-Railed), they come to find the house has a dark history.

The house has a basement full of Nazi paraphernalia and a long-undisturbed room that once belonged to a teenage girl (Alice) who was murdered in the 60s by her ex-patriated Nazi father. Irene thinks that Alice is responsible when strange things begin to happen to the other girls. The background story of the cursed Nazi house is complemented with small roles by Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster 1-2Graveyard Shift, Faust: Love of the Damned) and Tim DeZarn (The Cabin in the Woods, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Wrong Turn).

It takes this movie a long time to take us… not very far. The girls begin their weekend, they find clues linking the house to its Nazi past, and ghostly things start appearing. An out of focus figure in the background, something moving under the bedsheets, whispers from the ether, aaaaaand cue the screaming CGI lady ghost.

The scare tactics and special effects are weak. It’s very PG-13 and rather budget-limited… but it’s also vision-limited—i.e., in inexperienced director. The movie has one decent part, and it’s from the trailer. It’s the “look under the bed” scene. Sadly, it’s squandered by a CGI-filtered demon-wench crab-walking on the bed.

I’m not sure how this got an R-rating, it’s clearly (in my opinion, at least) a PG-13 movie. There are no swears, nudity, intense scares, gore or disturbing imagery or content outside of a drowning murder scene. The horror itself is really rather soft. So yeah, this is mediocre PG-13 horror at best. I’d recommend it to teenage girls who watch very little horror and scare very easily.

John’s Horror Corner: Monstrous (2022), a “family therapy” horror movie for beginners.

January 25, 2023

MY CALL: Just okay. The monster is “meh”; the story doesn’t build to anything worthy; the film is decently made; and it’s not scary. I didn’t like it. I guess I didn’t hate it. So I’m only recommending this as something that’s a good entry-level horror for scaredy-cats. MORE MOVIES LIKE Monstrous: For more for beginners, consider The Wretched (2019), Séance (2021), Fresh (2022) or the classic Silver Bullet (1985).

Trying to get away from her abusive ex-husband, Laura (Christina Ricci; After.Life, Cursed) moves to a new home in the remote countryside with her son Cody (Santino Barnard). Shortly after moving in, Cody discovers a sort of monster.

The monster is reduced to some very basic, PG antics. The so-so CGI creation fumbles its shoddy CGI limbs at the boy, the boy screams, and the monster disappears by the time Laura comes to the rescue. Yes, of course, no monster, right? The boy was just scared in a new house. Sure, mom!

After repeated contact, Cody forms a connection with this monster. He calls her the pretty lady from the pond, but Laura assumes this to just be an imaginary friend. At first, Laura blames Cody for the actions of the lady in the pond. As we encounter the lady from the pond more and more, Laura comes to believe in her and seems to lose her nerve. Her landlord and employer see her losing her grip, and they don’t like it at all. At this point I’m beginning to wonder… are we in for a Babadook (2014) situation here?

Boy those CGI tentacles were not effective. The scare tactics here are weak. Like, even for a PG-13 horror. They seem to “imply” horror more than actually convey it. Although the “lady” is skeletal, grimy, slimy, and has rooty tentacles. We only have a couple shots that might spook out a preteen.

Set in the 1950s, this soft PG-13 horror is free of the conveniences of cell phones, internet searches or smart devices. So successfully running away from a dangerous person in your life is far simpler. But whereas Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) and Lights Out (2016) brought us all of the horror with none of the R-rating, Monstrous seems to have forgotten its horror entirely with a more “hard PG” feel of Goosebumps (2015). And while not all PG-13 horror needs to push the gory and jump-scary tactics of The Gate (1987), my personal taste finds disappointment in these movies that I would best classify as horror for beginners.

I don’t think this movie had ever properly captured my attention or interest. Whatever it was trying to do, it never seemed to do enough… or well enough… or take its horror seriously enough. Still, it was capably made, acted and produced. It seems that director Chris Sivertson (All Cheerleaders Die, I Know Who Killed Me) continues to make watchable but forgettable fare. I don’t regret watching it. But I’m also only recommending this as something that’s a good entry-level horror for scaredy-cats.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 475: Dark Blue, Kurt Russell, and Goulash

January 24, 2023

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune 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 Leavengood (@MFFHorrorCorner on Twitter) discuss the 2002 Kurt Russell film Dark Blue. Directed by Ron Shelton, and starring Kurt Russell, Ving Rhames, Brendan Gleeson, and Scott Speedman, the movie focuses on what happens when Kurt Russell makes a run at an Oscar nomination. In this episode, they also talk about goulash, cheeseburgers, and David Ayer. 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 Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Lair (2022), Neil Marshall’s latest and quite underwhelming creature feature.

January 22, 2023

MY CALL: Eh, it’s a thing to watch with decent effects and gore and some passable monster action. But ask yourself how excited you’d be to see it if a no-name filmmaker was behind it. Because that’s how it felt. MORE MOVIES LIKE Lair: This feels like a Resident Evil (2002) sequel, but with weak acting, weak writing and careless monsters. Lair also reminds me of a much higher budget and much more monstrous D4 (2011).

After her fighter jet is shot down in Afghanistan, Captain Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk;The Reckoning) escapes armed hostiles fleeing to shelter in an abandoned, underground, Russian bunker. The facility is housing humanoid biological samples in tanks, and the staff has been reduced to long-dead skeletal remains. During freefire with the Afghanis, a tank is broken, washing its hulking contents to the floor… and it awakens. Aaaaand, MOVIE!

Sinclair is picked up by a unit of soldiers—including Sgt. Hook (Jonathan Howard; Skylines, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), Major Finch (Jamie Bamber; Pulse 2), Sgt. Jones (Leon Ockenden;The Reckoning, Dread), and many others. They team together to face this humanoid bunker experiment-gone-wrong.

Our monsters look monstrous, but move entirely like people with chafed inner thighs. I actually found this annoying. They scurry from one point of gunfire cover to another in the battlefield, they apparently have a clumsily haphazard 20’ vertical jump that feels really forced on viewers’ suspension of disbelief, and basically every time they swipe a big gnarly claw at a soldier he’s dead. So the action is kind of basic. And the monsters seem way too wisely tactical despite still roaring with their arms widespread like idiots and behaving otherwise like, well, feral quasi-intelligent monsters. They kind of feel like generic brand Resident Evil (2002) monsters—like bipedal “lickers” with twin-prehensile tongue-tentacles. Director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Hellboy) has a strong history making movies with engaging monsters, but this is not one of them.

Right, but how about the acting? The acting is moderate to poor, with no impressive performances to boast despite a varied cast of quirky soldier characters. But the real fault here is in the writing itself. The dialogue ranges from bland to painfully stiff, basic lines. It doesn’t even sound like how anyone would naturally talk at times. And the story…? Well, our soldiers basically got dropped into a videogame called “Russian Alien Experiment Shoot’em Up.” That’s pretty much the story. And that’s perfectly fine by me. I’m just saying that neither a cool story or plot development are creating saving graces here.

So what’s good about this movie? The blood, monsters, wound latex work, and gore were… decent. Not bad. But not enough to merit something I’d recommend someone watch. I’m not sure what happened here, but this does not feel like a Neil Marshall film to me at all. This feels like a whole lot of early 2000s, direct-to-video “meh” with some passable horror action and guts. I mean, it was moderately entertaining. But this totally forgettable flick fell far below my expectations.

John’s Horror Corner: Dead Space (1991), yet another silly Alien/s rip-off… but starring Bryan Cranston.

January 21, 2023

MY CALL: There are a lot of video-era Alien rip-offs out there… and this is among the more entertaining and at least moderately budgeted among them. We also have a decent cast and a lot of screen time for our monster. So this is a recommendation for anyone looking for a solidly enjoyable bad movie. MORE MOVIES LIKE Dead Space: For more low budget Alien/Aliens (1979/1986) rip-offs, check out Contamination (1980; aka Alien Contamination), Alien 2: On Earth (1980), Scared to Death (1980; aka Syngenor), Galaxy of Terror (1981), Forbidden World (1982; aka Mutant), Inseminoid (1982; aka Horror Planet), Parasite (1982), Biohazard (1985), Creature (1985; aka Titan Find), Star Crystal (1986), Creepazoids (1987), Blue Monkey (1987), Nightflyers (1987), Deep Space (1988), Transformations (1988; aka Alien Transformations), The Terror Within (1989), Shocking Dark (1989; aka Terminator 2, aka Aliennators), The Rift (1990), Syngenor (1990), Xtro 2: The Second Encounter (1991) and Zombies: The Beginning (2007).

Commander Krieger (Marc Singer; House Hunting, V, Beastmaster 1-3, Watchers II), as glistening and jacked as a middle-aged underwear model, awakens in his sleep pod to respond to a distress signal. So Krieger and his droid companion set a course for Phaebon to check on the distressed scientists.

Geneticist Dr. Salinger (Laura Mae Tate; Subspecies), bacteriologist Dr. Darden (Bryan Cranston; Godzilla, Total Recall) and Dr. Stote (Judith Chapman; Scalpel) have been working on a cure for an incredibly deadly virus. But to do so, they created an even more deadly virus to kill the incredibly deadly virus. In doing so, their even more deadly virus managed to create some sort of lifeform which breaks free from its containment and enters a human host up her nostril. After the facebugger-esque rip-off phase, we see a chestburster-like life stage emerge from her gory thorax and escape into the air vents. Again, this multicellular monster with a highly evolved and specialized metamorphosis was created from a virus. Because science!

So now, like in Alien/s (1979, 1986), the crew must hunt this rubber bug-lizard monster down. It’s the size of Frenchie and when it attacks the victim violently shakes the rubber creature to simulate its movement and attack. You know, classic B-movie techniques. Of course it grows, and it is as glorious as bad movie monsters get. Looking like a slimy dragon with insectoid limbs, this reptilian mantis thing continues to attack the crew in as clumsy a manner as one could imagine.

Eventually, the aberration is covered in web, perhaps meant to be the forming of a chrysalis or something, and it totally bites and rips of Darden’s head on-screen, which is way more ambitious than I’d expect from a movie like this! The special effects are a joy to observe as spaceships shooting laser blasters fly by a space station, a scientist’s melted face is gorily displayed, a scene after scene of giant rubber monster attacks.

I had read that this was just a cheap remake of Forbidden World (1982), which was also a cheap rip of Alien/s (1979, 1986). But the monster here looks way better. We see a lot of it, and we see it frequently. So as far as B-movies go, the pacing is actually pretty engaging.

I mean, was this movie awesome? No. But it ranks around the middle ground in terms of cheap Alien rip-offs. And I’d know. I’ve covered a LOT of them here.

John’s Horror Corner: The Convent (2000), a poor man’s Night of the Demons rip-off.

January 20, 2023

MY CALL: This is bad. Really bad. Though, often laughably bad. I’d call this an awful, very cheap reimagining of Night of the Demons 2. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Convent: For pretty bad movies that are less regrettably bad than The Convent, I’d recommend The Granny (1995), Rabid Grannies (1988) or Killer Tongue (1996). If you watched The Convent and want to see the far better source material—Night of the Demons (1988) and Night of the Demons 2 (1992). The Hazing (2004) was also a good NotD knock-off.

40 years after the slaughter of an entire clergy, uptight Clorissa (Joanna Canton; Masters of Sex), her goth friend Mo (Megahn Perry; The Perfect Host, The Gravedancers), and five more college friends head to the cursed convent. The local folklore is that Christine was impregnated by Father O’Malley, who kidnapped her and aborted her child against her will—hence the clergy slaughter vengeance and now present-day haunting. Almost immediately after breaking into the convent, the co-eds pair off, do drugs and get horny.

Some cultists capture Mo and sacrifice her on a pentagram of glow-in-the-dark paint. The result—Mo is now a glowing-veined, glowing-eyed, glowing-toothed demon-possessed murderer. After being killed by scalding water from a convent shower, a cultist likewise becomes another orc-faced “glow demon.” Their fake gnarly big-gummed teeth, general appearance, and method of demon possession/infection is a cheapened, out of focus, carbon copy of Night of the Demons (1988) and Night of the Demons 2 (1992). But truly, this is more like a copy of a copy of copy with a coffee stain on it, with much quality lost in the across the transfer.

The acting and writing are rough. This is so bad! Kind of fun bad, but mostly just bad bad. Lol. No regrets. This movie was lame. But I must admit, I shook my head with a disapproving grin quite a lot. Apparently the demons can use a virgin for the rebirth of the devil and such. So there’s that. This was the topic of the cultists’ dialogue, which leads to some laughable ends including some inoffensive homophobia (in that the straight guy was the butt of the joke from the very funny LGBT character and actor Kelly Mantle). Some additional laughs which suffered greatly from the writing come from smaller cameo roles by Coolio (Pterodactyl, Dracula 3000, Leprechaun 5: In the Hood) and Bill Moseley (Boar, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2House of 1000 CorpsesTexas Chainsaw 3-DThe BlobSmothered), and co-star Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Swamp Thing, Escape from New York, Creepshow, Two Evil Eyes).

The budget is very low. But I appreciate director Mike Mendez’ (Tales of Halloween, Satanic Hispanics) and his cast and crew’s efforts. A guy gets some fatal oral sex from a demon, a girl’s face is ripped off, someone’s head is partially punched off, and there’s loads of bright orange blood. None of it looks particularly “good,” but it’s nonsense fun. And that’s what this movie is—laughable nonsense. It’s not exactly the type of “so bad it’s good” I prefer, but it works juuust enough. And while this viewing experience isn’t completely regrettable, it makes me long for the good old days when my bad movies were more like The Granny (1995), Rabid Grannies (1988) or Killer Tongue (1996)—all more satisfying than The Convent.

Bonus Movies, Films and Flix Podcast Episode – The Tom Cruise Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Draft

January 20, 2023

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune 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 David Cross (@ItsMeDavidCross on Twitter) draft their favorite Tom Cruise fantasy and science fiction movies. In this episode they discuss Edge of Tomorrow, War of the Worlds, Vanilla Sky, Legend, Minority Report, The Mummy, Oblivion and Interview With the Vampire. 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 Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

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