Balls, Boobs & Rackets: The Tennis Edition, Part 1

(Submitted by Smutmaster Eric, of corpse…Thanks, Eric. This is a lovely way to be welcummed back to the land of Kinky Ho-dom. 🙂 xoxo)

Featuring: Carrie Fisher, Dillion Harper & Billy Hart

Shampoo (1975)

Fantasies Come True #2 (2014)

Comic Book Review: Kong of Skull Island

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“From James Asmus (Thief of Thieves, All-New Inhumans) and Carlos Magno (Lantern City, Planet of the Apes) comes the authorized origin of Kong. Two fractured and combative civilizations are forced to unite when their island is destroyed. Washing up on the shores of Skull Island, they must defend their people against an endless horde of dinosaurs and monsters. With the help of Kong lies hope for survival. Collects issue #1-4” (Boom Studios)

I know this is based on the original novels but seeing as I haven’t seen Kong: Skull Island yet (I will now on Blu-Ray), I thought it might be advantageous to read this first.  I’ll say this right off the start, I like this book.  Now, while you don’t need a Kong origin story to enjoy the character, it is nice to have one. To know how he came to be and how he ends up on Skull Island.  While Kong eventually becomes the last of his kind, before that he was part of a group of genetically manipulated and selectively bred apes. Sure, the creative team could have gone deeper into this but if you’re willing to accept Kong as an exceedingly large ape, you don’t really need much more.  These apes were created by island dwellers, who have since split away from each other on separate sides of the island.  When they come together to try and reunite their people again, they have two Apes known as Kong’s fight, as a form of entertainment and as a way for the winning Apes tribe’s to show superiority over the other.  Writer James Asmus uses the way each tribe treats their Kong’s, to drum up specific emotions of the reader, for each tribe.  The Atu treat the Apes as barbaric animals.  It’s also mentioned but never shown, that they sometime whip and throw rocks, to get the Apes, to follow their commands.  Meanwhile, the Tagu, specifically their Kong trainer Ewata, treats their Kong with compassion and respect, more like a human. We know who PETA would side with.  Any human with a conscious in fact, should side with the Tagu tribe.  It’s not only the treatment of the Kong that caused a schism between the groups.  Religious and political ideologies also cause conflict. While the kings of both “royal families” practice traditional sacrifices and believe in multiple gods, Prince K’Reti believes in one God.  This difference causes tension amongst the power brokers of the tribes, but trickles down to the tribes people as well.  Even politically there is disparity.   The Tagu are open and honest with their tribe, collaborating on political decisions.  Meanwhile, the Atu hierarchy decides what they feel is best for the group and implements their decision. Case in point, the real reason the tribes have come together. Tribal scholars have informed both tribal leaders that volcanic lava is rising. The Tagu leaders want to warn their people, allowing them to prepare to evacuate the island for a new settlement.  Yet, the Atu have already secretly started making evacuation plans, without informing their tribe as to why.  Both tribe leaders make a pact to marry off their children, K’Reti and Usana, as a way of appeasing the gods and pooling their resources to get off the island,  There’s only one problem, K’Reti is already secretly married to the aforementioned Ewata.  Despite this, for the good of his people, he agrees to the marriage.  When Ewata learns of the marriage, witnessing the royal ceremony, she is furious, resenting and giving her husband the cold shoulder.

I love how the story gives you the impossible with two giant genetically bred apes fighting. It gets us hooked on the spectacle, before grounding the story in real conflict such as religious and political differences. The people in the story may be tribal but here in 2017 real world, these issues are tenuous as ever.  Keep in mind, the single issues of this book were published around the U.S. election. I don’t think these themes being at play in the book is a coincidence.  I didn’t care for the secret marriage/arranged marriage love triangle between K’Reti, Ewata & Usana. It was a little to soap opera for my taste. The story gets extremely interesting, when the island begins to shake and the volcano is on the verge of eruption.  The boats at the Tagu/Attu’s disposal are only enough to fit about half the inhabitants on the island, along with the Kong’s. There’s some heartbreaking and down right cruel moments as it is decided to who stays and who goes.  As the survivors depart they veer off course and stumble upon Skull Island. Many of the characters are fearful of Skull Island.  That’s because native storytellers have whispered about it being inhabited by monsters, as told by wounded and feverish survivors. I love how mysteriously the wrier treats Skull Island and that he makes its legend a tale told passed down through generations.  It’s worth noting that the whole story we are reading is being transcribed a told by a native story teller, as we are reading it. I thought that was cool.  There are monsters on Skull Island in fact. Specifically dinosaurs.  There is no explanation as to how or why dinosaurs have survived on this island, however, once again, I say who cares. Is it really hard to believe dinosaurs exist in the same world as giant apes? I think not. Also, given that this story is being transcribed by native storytellers, it makes sense that they wouldn’t know the how’s or why’s about the dinosaurs..  The third act of the book sees the Kong’s and the newly united tribe fighting side by side, as they beat back the dinosaurs.  The book ends with the Tagu/Atu temporarily gaining control of the island, with the hint that more monsters await them.  We also have a murder mystery taking shape and a hint that Kong and crew will soon face more traditional human hunters we’ve become accustomed to in the books and films.

Art is drawn by Carlos Magno and I like it.  The Tagu & Atu tribes have a Mayan look about them and it’s fascinating.  It really solidifies the idea that these two tribes haven’t had any contact with the modern world.  The only issue that I have with this section of the art, is that both tribes look identical and it makes telling them apart visually, nearly impossible.  The Kong’s clashing together is the big, bombastic Earth shattering moment you’d expect and is deserving of the splash page it’s drawn on. These two particular Kong are distinguishable from each other but when they cluster together in a group, they too become indistinguishable from each other.  The wide shot image of the volcano on the verge of eruption look as dangerous and foreboding, as two giant apes fighting.  I loved the first view of Skull Island.  There’s a mist in the air, the tide is rough and the skull formed in Skull Island, protruding and sticking out like a sore thumb, commanding attention on the page.  The final battle between the Kong’s and the dinosaurs is the highlight of the book.  The rage and the chaos of the Kong’s as they trample over rabid dinosaurs, get bitten by pterodactyls and then turn around and rip off T-Rex’s heads is pulse pounding and fun to behold.  This is the closest thing to a Jurassic Park/Planet of the Apes crossover we will ever see, So I am going to continue enjoying this for as long as we can. This comic book was initially supposed to be a mini series but was since extended to a maxi series.  This makes me happy because while it’s not anything ground-breaking, it’s amazing ape madness and a ton of fun! A definite must buy! I can’t wait to read more of Kong’s origin and see what happens next!

Goon Review – Resident Evil: Revelations

(Submitted by his Goon-y Greatness, Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

Resident Evil jumped the shark long, long ago past the point that the story lines are convoluted and downright stupid and the characters act like they were born without brain stems, making the most idiotic decisions anything person could ever make all for the sake of moving the story along. Resident Evil: Revelations is the epitome of that.

I think this game is supposed to take place before Resident Evil 5, seeing as Chris and Jill are partners, but I’ll try to sum up the plot of Revelations; So, the game begins with Jill and her new partner, Parker, looking for Chris and his new partner, Jessica, but it turns out Chris and Jessica are looking for Jill and Parker, but neither party knows exactly where the other one is and is always one step behind… and these are the people that are committed to stopping bio-terrorism across the world.

Well, if this is the best and brightest, we’re fucked.

Of course, that crew looks like a bunch of Einstein’s when you compare them to BSAA’s bumbling pair of jackoffs, Keith and Jackass. For real. That guy’s name is Jackass. These two are basically the C-Squad when you know a mission is gonna fail, but you’re obligated to try anyway, you send them. They are so insipid and Jackass’ voice is like nails on a chalkboard. He’s always fumbling, tripping over something and dropping an important item or forgetting it. You have to wonder if it was like Police Academy when they were hired. Were the crime rates too high and the recruitments too low? I know, I’ve been arguing semantics for the last few paragraphs, but I want to impose the question; who is this game (or these multiple games) targeted at? The gore insists that it’s for adults, but the language is toned down and these characters are written to act so it’s slapstick type humor for a younger audience and the plot requires no thinking and a child could figure it out. Even the villains monologue about their evil plans.

This isn’t even going into all the backstabbing and obvious double crosses that you can expect from Resident Evil. Revelations takes place on a cruise ship, which at first admittedly sounds amazing. Zombies and other gross monsters aboard a luxury cruise ship, complete with a casino and swimming pool? Yes, please! This is going to be awesome! But slowly it dawns on you that none of this is actually really all that great. This setting is never used to its full potential. Also as the game progresses, you’ll most likely grow tired of the surrounding seeing as you’ll be backtracking through every section several times.

I enjoyed this game for the first hour, but then I began to notice the repetition and all of the unfavorable survival horror tropes (that began with the later entries in Resident Evil oddly enough), such as the overpowered boss battles, given you mass amounts of resources only to throw you in narrow hallways with far too many enemies (of which there is a very little variety of) just to dwindle down the resources you were just given, running around in circles with no clear direction and facing constant timers instead of allowing the player to explore the environment and become frightened to be in it. In a few words, I dislike Resident Evil: Revelations.

It’s a game that doesn’t fully understand the potential it had. You have a survival horror game that takes place on a cruise ship that offers up plenty of opportunities for scares and the use of claustrophobia, but instead it has you running back and forth doing predictable tasks. Like if you see an elevator, you know it’s not going to work. You’re gonna have to travel back to the other end, do a small, unchallenging puzzle and then travel back only to have something block you along the way. I can’t tell you how many times I saw the setup and groaned loudly. It becomes so tiresome and makes the game feel like a chore when you know what’s coming and you have no desire to play. It’s like taking the garbage bag out from the can and leaving it in the kitchen then going to work. I know I’m gonna have to take that out when I come home, I just don’t want to. The game often pits you against a timer or makes matters seem urgent, forcing you to rush through the areas instead of exploring them and figuring things out for yourself, regardless of the lack of puzzles that have been replaced with fetch quests. Some portions of the game take place under water, too. Yes, the cruise ship is sinking at some point and you’ll be deduced to rushing through areas faster as you don’t want to run out of breath, so once you get certain keys, you better be damn sure to backtrack to all those locked doors and get the goodies inside, because once this thing floods, there’s no going back.

But the two biggest offenders has to be the controls and, as always a problem in Capcom games, the piss poor AI. In the game, you work alongside a partner, but unlike Resident Evil: Revelations 2, you can’t switch and play as your partner to help you advance through a level or even for fun. Enemies will be surrounding you, bosses will be dominating you and your partner may… MAY… pop off a couple shots to help. They mostly stand around and do absolutely nothing. It boggles my mind that even back in 2012 that a game company so revered as Capcom would release a game with terrible AI. Then again, they did make Dead Rising which came out a few years prior and that has some of the worst AI I have ever experienced. The lesser of the two evils is the controls. The game is playable as in you can control it, but something about them doesn’t feel right. They feel a little… clunky, I guess is the word. I would often get hung up on objects, corners and especially on the edge of levels when underwater. Maybe it controlled better on the DS, but I can’t say the same for the PS4.

The one real positive thing I will say about it is that the Raid mode is a lot of fun. Just like with Revelations 2, the Raid mode stands out far better than the actual story mode. You can play Raid mode right from the start, but unfortunately you have to play the story mode to unlock more skins, levels and weapons. However, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has been out for sometime on current-gen consoles and has a far superior Raid mode that is more refined (especially with the weapon upgrade system… and the game is far more fun), so that even doesn’t make the $20 price tag worth it. In fact, the stories aren’t at all related, so you could easily skip this game and pick up the sequel.

 

Goon Review: Contra Soundtrack

(Submitted by His Goon-y Greatness, Mr. Andrew Peters…Much obliged, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxox)

Contra has the honor of being the first video game that left it’s opening screen impressed in my head. Everyone remembers the title card coming in from the right to the left as those few notes jingled and finally exploded when you pressed start (after frantically trying to enter the thirty lives code, of course). Immediately, you’re dropped into a jungle warzone, one that might remind you of Predator with the beat of the music synced perfectly with the action as you worked your way through HR Giger inspired levels and enemies.

Mondo’s recent release of Contra is one for the collection, without a doubt. There’s no considering it, if you’ve played the game or know anything about Nintendo, you need to grab this iconic soundtrack. Side A is the classic NES soundtrack you’ve come to know and love, starting with the aforementioned Title Card track and then creating a creepy mood with the Introduction before setting the action pace with the Area 1: Jungle track (I know, catchy track titles). This is the one we all know and love the most, I think, because of how many times you dropped into that beginning level when starting the game. Not only that, it also rocks more than most other NES tracks out there. My favorite track was always Area 6: Energy Zone which combines both the run and gun action and the creeping terror. Plus, that name is just perfectly ‘80s, it should have been a club somewhere.

 

I have to admit… I totally forgot this was an arcade game, but for a very good reason; not many people played it once the Nintendo version was out there. To be honest, the reason I don’t recall the arcade version is because I found the NES version to be superior in every way, especially with the music. This is one exceptionally rare cases where the Nintendo soundtrack is better than the arcade version. Yes, Contra’s NES music is better than its arcade counterpart. I know it’s hard to believe, but when you listen to Side B of the vinyl, which is the same tracks in the same order with the exception of Track 2: Introduction missing and Track 12: Ranking as a new addition, you will hear the difference. Now, one of these will work better for you and I’m sure for most of you it will be the Nintendo version. The arcade version is actually something more of a cleaner, perhaps a bit more clear Genesis version, what with a very metallic sound and tin clanks. You could argue that better represents the game, but for me, nothing will compare to the NES version.

With Mondo, the artwork is just as important as the actual soundtrack itself. Afterall, it’s all about presentation and Mondo usually always nails it. Usually. Eric Powell’s artwork on the cover is cool and kinda has a comic book style to it, showcasing the two heroes, Lance and Bill, albeit muted colors and to be honest, that’s the start of my disappointment with it. Contra is bright and colorful, full of Alien-esque creature designs and very little of that is present on the cover. Sure, the background behind the two muscle clad, gun toting protagonists shows a little bit of that, but there’s more negative space to be filled that should have been used with HR Giger imagery. It seems like halfway through creating an awesome cover, the artist ran out of time or just called it quits. Again, I’m not complaining about the quality, because I think it’s quite phenomenal, but underwhelming when you consider the source material.

The inside of the jacket is something that would jump at you out of your nightmares. Fold it open and the mother or queen, whatever it was called, dominates both sides and looking to be ready to jump out at you. I really like being able to see the sketchy pencil marks underneath the finished product, giving it a grittier look, but again, it’s just muted colors. Maybe I’m misremembering Contra, but the back cover shows maybe I’m not. That is more in line of what I’m talking about.

San Diego Comic Con goers had the option of getting an exclusive tri-color vinyl with red, orange and yellow, but personally I prefer the pressing that is available which is the classic blue and red. It represents the Player One and Player Two colors that dominated Nintendo games. It’s bright, vibrant and basic. It works so well.

I could go on forever about the Contra soundtrack, but then I would just be going in circles. For most of us that grew up with the arcade and Nintendo, this is one of the most definitive soundtracks to your childhood. I think it goes beyond playing into nostalgia… it’s just a kick-ass soundtrack that every collection needs.

Today’s Lesson: The Educational Edition, Part 1

(Submitted by our Kinky Ho-mie, Smutmaster Eric…Thanks fer learnin’ us, freaky fiend! 🙂 xoxo)

 Study Session Turns Sexual (2014)

Beautiful Bailey Bradshaw is studying with her man (Jake Taylor) at the kitchen table while her stepmom India Summer keeps them company and offers her help.

Here’s The Video!

#AnimatedAwesomeness Movie Review: Justice League Dark

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

SPOILERS

“Beings with supernatural powers join together to fight against supernatural villains. This team of supernatural beings include John Constantine, Zatanna and Jason Blood also known as the demon Etrigan.” (DC Entertainment)

I read the first volume of Justice League: Dark from The New 52 and loved it. I thought it was one of the best books of that initiative. So when I heard they were making this movie, I was so excited. I thought it would be a direct adaptation of that story but it wasn’t. It was its own story using DC’s more supernatural heroes. I love how this movie uses the main well known heroes from the Justice League proper team, to transition to this team of darker, mystical heroes. Now I know who these characters are, but the casual movie buyer may not. So this was a smart decision. The film opens with people seeing others around them as demons and monsters. Innocents are killed in the attack, which brings the Justice League, specifically the Trinity into action. Superman stops a husband from killing his wife, Wonder Woman stops an out of control driver, who is mowing down civilians with her car and Batman stops a mother from throwing her newborn out of a window. These scenes, plus Constantine’s language alone, make the film worthy of its R rating. Speaking of Constantine, The Justice League surmises that magic and the dark arts are behind these occurrences. Skeptical of this, Batman scoffs and heads back to Wayne Manor. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne goes through a series of blackouts and when he wakes, discovers the name Constantine seemingly written in blood on walls close by. They look as though they were written in blood. The way these scenes were filmed, it seemed as though Batman was being stalked and attacked by an unseen supernatural villain. We later learn that all this was the work of Deadman, possessing Batman’s body in an attempt to warn him. So Batman turns to my favourite Magician clad in fishnets, Zatanna, to find Constantine. She help Batman and, by extension, Deadman locate John Constantine. The next segment of the film sees John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Jason Blood aka Etrigan the demon and Batman, discuss the culprit of the recent events. Since the likes of John Constantine, Zatanna and of course Batman have all had stints on live action film and television, as well as animation before, the film spends some time on the more unknown quantities in this film. In briskly paced flashbacks, we get the FYI origin stories of Deadman and Etrigan the Demon. For Deadman we see his murder during a trapeze circus act and his post death encounter with a Hindu Goddess, who felt pity on him and granted him his ghostly existence and his ability. With Jason Blood, the flashback takes us back to Camelot, where Merlin magically bonds Jason with Etrigan the Demon after he is mortally wounded. I must confess, I didn’t know much about Etrigan but I absolutely love that his origin is tied to Arthurian legend. I l also got a kick out of the interplay in that scene. Zatanna and Constantine have a history, and their bickering highlighted a past relationship and some sexual tension. This actual played out quite similarly to volume one of the book. When you throw in Boston Brand’s commentary during the arguing, it felt like a episode of The Big Bang Theory, with Penny and Leonard arguing and Sheldon making smart ass comments. Batman’s reaction to the irrefutable existence of magic only adds to the humor. Every time magic is on display early on in the film, Batman grimaces and almost grunts in disbelief.

Magical weirdness kicks off, when the group visits a colleague of Zatanna’s, Ritchie Simpson for help. When they arrive at his doorstep, they find Shroud Spirits of Death waiting for Ritchie’s demise. The group enters his house and they learn Ritchie has a mystical form of cancer. The group surmises that whatever triggered Ritchie’s mystical cancer, likely caused people around the world to start seeing monsters and demons and go on killing sprees. They bring Ritchie back to the House of Mystery and use the mystical Keshanti Key to access one of the unconscious civilian rampagers mind. While inside his head, clues seem to reveal that the culprit for all this chaos is Felix Faust. While the group confronts Faust, Ritchie Simpson reveals himself to be a sinister magician Destiny, from the time of Camelot. He was the character who fought Etrigan in the flashback scene. He lay in hiding to gain access to the House of Mystery, where the other half of the dream stone resides. With the full stone in his possession he has the power to gain vengeance on Jason Blood and rule the modern world. While Batman and the rest of the core Justice League is present during the final battle, it is the teamwork of Etrigan, Zatanna, Constantine and Deadman that defeated Destiny and saved the day. I loved that their plan of action was a combination of mental trickery and magical force. I was happy it wasn’t just fisticuffs the whole way through. I was genuinely shocked that Ritchie Simpson was in fact Destiny. That reveal was deceptive and unexpected. While I don’t know much about Etrigan, this film changes his status quo in this animated universe in a big way. I have no idea if this has ever been done in the comic books before, but for the film to separate Jason Blood and Etrigan, essentially killing Jason Blood, I thought was pretty ballsy. This film is definitely the formation of the Justice League Dark. At the end of the film, Batman extends offers to Zatanna and John Constantine to join the Justice League. So while they took the characters from the New 52 comic books, they definitely went their own way in terms of origin story for the film. My only complaint of this film is the use of Swamp Thing. What a waste of a great character. If he’s in the film for more then 7 minutes I’d be shocked..

The animation is dark and very sleek looking. It definitely takes it’s cues from the art of Mikel Janin. One of my favourite scenes is the twister that occurs trying to conceal the House of Mystery. It’s like Twister, but better because it feature superheroes and the Batmobile. Though, I was cringing to see that beautiful Batmobile get swept up and destroyed. I loved the origin scenes where both Deadman and Etrigan were highlighted. Those scenes had different and distinctive looks and could have easily been their own separate short movies. Also worth noting is the scene where Constantine and Zatanna enter the mind scape of the unconscious rampager. It was very trippy. Like 70’s acid trip trippy. Then out in the real world, Batman is chased through the halls of the hospital by the Shroud Spirits of Death. They look like a cross between the Undertaker’s Druids from the late 90’s WWE and the liquid that spewed from Penguin’s mouth in Batman Returns. The third act finale features plenty of force fields, lit up mystical symbols of energy and corresponding energy blasts. You know, this movie has quite a bit in common with Marvel’s Doctor Strange film. By the way, that’s not a bad thing, as I enjoyed that film. The voice cast was all fairly solid. I am really getting used to Jason O’Mara as Batman. He has officially joined the Bat family in my opinion. By the way, knowing he voices Batman, makes his character on Agents of SHIELD so much cooler. It was great hearing Matt Ryan reprise the role of John Constantine. It was weird hearing him use some foul language but was great that the character was unrestrained by the R rating. By the way, it’s a shame that NBC cancelled the live action Constantine show. I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if Boston Brand is supposed to be from New York but Nicholas Turturro’s New York accent really fit the character. He was distinctive from the rest of the characters. Camilla Luddington is known as the voice of Lara Croft. Here though, she plays Zatanna. There is no trace of Lara Croft in here performance, and I give her a ton of credit for managing the backwards spell dialogue.

Justice League Dark takes the characters from the comic books and manages to tell a wholly original story. That in and of it self is quite the accomplishment. Add the fact that in character origin stories and its villain, this film is better than Marvel’s live action Doctor Strange. That’s an animated film is better than a live action feature film is an absolute win. If you’re a fan of DC’s magical characters, you can be happy they’ve been given the respect they deserve. Buy this movie so that Warner Brothers sees the interest, which will give them confidence to explore these characters in more animated and live action films

No Recipes Required: The Kinky Kitchens Edition, Part 1

(Submitted by the always awesome Smutmaster Eric…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie. I so dig how your monstrous mind works! 🙂 xoxo)

Kitchen Samurai

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Snoopy & Woodstock

 
American Werewolf In London XXX Porn Parody (2011)

Ratatouille (2007)


Pet Sematary (1989)

Ho-stess’s PS- #TBT to my Karnal Kombat review of An American Werewolf in  London XXX. (Spoiler Alert: It’s actually rad AF!! 😉 xoxo)

Goon Review – Madhouse (1981)

(Submited by our Ho-rror Ho-mie, Mr. Andrew W. Peters…Thanks, Madman Magee! 🙂 xoxo)

Ovidio G. Assonitis, like most Italian film directors, had a wide variety of films he’s directed, including the Jaws cash-in Tentacles and the Exorcist cash-in Beyond the Door. Hey, it’s Italy in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s and cash-ins or rip-offs were their thing. He’s also produced a number of films like Piranha II: The Spawning, The Curse, the excellent and often underrated The Visitor, as well as American Ninja 4 and 5. Needless to say the guy knows horror and he also knows movies, so I was psyched when Arrow released Madhouse, an overlooked slasher film from 1981, in a brand new 2K restoration.

However, upon revisiting it, I understood why it’s possibly overlooked. It’s not that I hated, in fact I’m probably one of the few people that rather enjoy it, but I can see why people might find it so underwhelming and that’s because, well, it is. It’s a well made movie and it does have a very interesting premise, but for an Italian made slasher flick, it’s actually kinda tame and falls into cliched trappings and then there’s the reveal of the killer… hoo boy, it’s pretty obvious from the get-go who the killer is and you really hope they don’t “go there,” but, yeah, they do. It’s not only that it’s painfully obvious, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear motivation and honestly it kinda dampers what they were setting up. I gotta say and sorry for sounding like a broken record, but for an Italian made slasher in the early ‘80s, this film feels kinda like it’s playing it safe.

I keep calling it a slasher flick when Italy was more commonly known for suspenseful giallos and while Madhouse toys around with the idea of being a giallo, it doesn’t commit to being one. The same can be said about it being more of a character drama between two twin sisters, one evil and the other good. There’s a fine variety of different ideas here, but the movie can’t seem to decide on which one it would rather be and ends up being a moderate, ho-hum horror flick and for being Italian produced film, a country known for reveling in gore, it’s pretty tame. I don’t know if this was due to budgetary problems or perhaps Ovidio G. Assonitis thought it would make his film more suspenseful and to his credit, it is wonderfully shot and full of dark shadows, so it at least has a very ominous mood.

It opens up interestingly enough; two young girls sit still and silently in blackness as the camera pans in until one starts smashing the other one’s face in with a rock. Alright, movie, you have my attention. I’m interested in finding out what that was about, but unfortunately, we never do. At least, not really. Fast forward years later and the girls are all grown up and you could say they took different paths. One grows up to be a school teacher for the deaf and a stone cold fox, Julia, played by Trish Everly. Who’s Trish Everly and what else has she been in? Exactly. According to IMDB, this is her only credit and she never forayed into the world of acting again which is a shame, because she puts in a terrific performance.

Her sister Mary, on the other hand, has been less fortunate, living her life in a mental institution with a skin disease that has left her disfigured. Talk about drawing the short stick. Mary is under close observation by Father James, a friend of the family who Julia refers to as Uncle. Father James seems a little too pleasant and a little off kilter, so if you know anything about slasher films, I’m sure you’ll be able to see what direction they are taking this character. About halfway through the film, after the reveal of the killer, his character takes quite a silly turn as he’s nonchalantly hauling a body bag into a basement and chasing Julia’s landlady around the her building, skipping and singing children’s nursery rhymes. It’s kind of a whiplash in tone of character and I’m assuming it’s because people are under the impression that just because children’s songs are in a horror movie that makes it’s creepy, but they forget it needs to have context. That’s not the case here. It seemingly comes out of nowhere and I found more puzzled instead of interested and laughed at this reveal. If anything, this dampens the Father character’s motivation for everything happening. In fact when questioned about it, he just giggles and spouts a nursery rhyme that has no bearing or meaning on the situation. It explains nothing or maybe it does. Either way, it doesn’t ever explain why he’s doing what he’s doing.

 

The big red herring or twist of events happens when Julia receives word that Mary has escaped the asylum just in time for their birthday. The birthday doesn’t really play into the main plot, but give a reason for something to happen (I guess), but it just echoes of desperation for the film to take place during a holiday or event to mirror something like Halloween. To the film’s credit, the slasher does have a very interesting weapon of choice; a rottweiler. Yeah, I bet you’d never see the day a slasher film uses an animal as their knife. I was worried for the dog’s health and safety when remembering this is an Italian production, but luckily Ovidio here takes the dog’s well being into consideration. You figure a dog tearing apart the victims would result in a blood bath and mangled body parts, but if there is one thing really disappointing about the film, it’s that it lacks gore. I know gore doesn’t make a horror film, but spectacularly bloody deaths in a slasher makes a better viewing. At most, it’s blood smeared all over someone’s face and the most shocking death in the movie, the death of Julie’s favorite student, takes place off screen, but there I actually feel it gives it more of a punch, especially when she has to break the news to the other students at school. It’s a scene, however, that involves the dog being put into a headlock by Julie and putting a power drill through it’s head that this film is most likely notorious for. Even with a noticeable puppet in use, it’s still a rough scene to watch listening to the dog squeal.

During the finale of the film, I couldn’t help but think of Happy Birthday to Me (a slasher film I like, but find it a tad overrated) and that may be because Madhouse feels like it’s borrowing from other popular slasher movies of that time rather than try to be something original or experimental. That’s kind of surprising for being an Italian horror film, in a way, because while they were more known for ripping a film off, they still took the idea in a wild direction and made it it’s own beast. This feels more of the American cash-in variety where it takes no risks and spends no money on the gore budget. To the film’s credit, it’s the finale where you see what is most likely the goriest moment in the movie where a character takes an axe to the back, spraying chunks of flesh and squirting blood. You can’t help but wonder why this approach wasn’t taken during the rest of the movie. Maybe Ovidio wanted to make not necessarily a classier horror film, but maybe a more suspenseful one with more dignity. It’s unfortunate that’s not what happened.

Along with this being a new 2K transfer, Arrow also includes a new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues. That’s sort of confusing as to why they would have the people from a comedy/horror podcast do the commentary for the film rather than the original cast and crew when they were able to get new interviews with them. You can also check out the alternate opening if you’d like and the theatrical trailer. I think the show stealer in this whole package is the newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach. Seriously a talented artist and that’s one hell of a spooky cover.

It’s not boring, but rather predictable and subdued. It is at least pretty to look with some creepy cinematography and it doesn’t hurt that it was filmed in a supposed haunted house in Savannah, Georgia. It’s more upsetting seeing what this movie could have been and what it turned out to be instead of it being an actual bad movie. It showed so much promise with a murderous twin angle and the classic black leathered gloved giallos and the end result is so disappointing. It’s tolerable and worth watching for a typical ‘80s slasher, but don’t expect anything beyond that.

Scary Shorties: Baby Monitor (Rajesh Naroth, 2016)

(A tidbit o’terror, courtesy of #SmutmasterEric…Thanks, Ho-rrific Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

A couple is woken by crying three times. The first two times are rewound to the beginning before a parent gets up to check on the infant.

The narrative structure makes the short more mysterious and suspenseful than if they were just woken once.

 

The Dark Tower Review

(Submitted with utmost sincerity by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie…As a Stephen King fangirl, I didn’t want to touch this one!! 😉 xoxo)

I’ve not read a single book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  At best, I have passing familiarity with the basics. However, I am aware of the enormity of its fanbase and the lofty expectations thrust upon this particular picture. For a good many years, Hollywood had attempted to bring this towering (Pun very much intended) series to the cinema, with the project being shuffled from one filmmaker/studio to another.  With each crumb of new information offered on the project, fans expressed extreme excitement. After many false-starts and failed attempts, the film was finally made. And it is because of this wait that my heart goes out to all the Dark Tower fans. Even in my vast ignorance of the series, I can tell that this is not the Dark Tower film readers were clamoring for.

As a man simply looking for a good time at the movies, I wasn’t entirely displeased. The film had some small delights to offer and was mostly competent. Sure, it was riddled with cliche, but that’s something I can stomach. For the casual viewer, this film might be a pleasantly forgettable romp. It’s a lean, mean fantasy adventure with a few thrills and chills to offer, if nothing truly special. But audiences expected more from this material, and I certainly don’t blame them for doing so. When you’re drawing from a story told in eight volumes, a 95 minute film just isn’t  likely to do the trick.
From what I’ve gathered, the movie picks bits and pieces from various books in the series for its plot. I’ve also heard it said it that, outside of those cherry-picked elements, has very little to do with the series.  As it is, the film’s plot concerns the last Gunslinger and his quest for revenge the Man in Black,  a devilish sorcerer out to destroy existence. The Gunslinger is joined by Jake, a young man with the gift of the “Shine”, first seen in King’s The Shining. With The Gunslinger’s skill and Jake’s Shine, they must stop the mad magician before it’s too late.

The primary reason to watch this film are for the performances by the actors. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t allow them to utilize their full potential, but they’re still rather good. Idris Elba is always a fantastic addition to any film and his gruff demeanor suits the Gunslinger well. Tom Taylor as the young Jake is very likable and his performance brings to mind some of the great family fantasies of the ’80s. Matthew McConaughey steals the show with a hammy portrayal of evil that’s delicious in its daffy depiction of deviltry.

The Dark Tower is far from the epic people had hoped for. As agreeable popcorn nonsense, it’s perfectly serviceable. As an adaptation, I feel that fans will likely be disappointed. However, a TV series is still in development, so perhaps that will put the franchise back on the right trail. Let’s hope that the Gunslinger’s next ride is a glorious one.