Goon Review: Night of Something Strange (2016)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, you Ho-rror Heartthrob, you! 🙂 xoxo)

To me, horror comedies rarely work out. I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, but I feel that most of them fail at either being a horror or a comedy. Usually, the cast knows what kind of film they are in, so they tend to play it up and delivering each line as if they are winking at the camera. The characters are usually stock cliches and more often than not, they confuse blood and gore with horror. Now as nice as those things are, when put in the hands of someone who misunderstand what either a horror or a comedy are, the film comes off as inauthentic and, well, stupid. Not to mention, they seem to be poorly filmed. The shots aren’t well planned and it’s like the filmmaker has no idea where to point the camera. I get the feeling that most of the time they don’t.

Luckily, Night of Something Strange isn’t any of that. Sure, it falls into some of the cliches, but they are done right, if that makes sense. At first, even I was a little worried when the characters were being introduced, but as the film goes on, you understand why they are and how they play into the plot and some of them become likable. Maybe it’s due to the film’s low budget or how the cast has a connection to each other, but they come of as genuine in playing their roles. A lot of heart went into this movie, something you don’t see very often anymore. That’s another thing; it’s shot like a movie. The cinematography is impressive to say the least and the use of lighting is done to effect the overall tone of the film. Everything that most lower budget films seem to misunderstand and mimic are done right here. Indie filmmaking seems like it’s becoming a lost art, but every now and then you get something that restores your faith. Night of Something Strange did just that for me.

Night of Something Strange opens with a tall, brooding hospital worker named Cornelius (Wayne Johnson) who looks like he probably has some issues. Sure enough, he shows us what kind of issues he has when he wanders into a morgue and decides to bang a female corpse. You could say that Cornelius is getting lucky, but I would say he’s getting unlucky seeing as how this particular corpse seems to have a still active STD. Not just any STD, but something that causes a much more serious side effect; you turn into a sex crazed zombie. Cornelius heads home and as the virus takes effect, he pisses all over his bed and then rapes and infects his mother. Talk about starting your movie off with bang. Where else are you gonna find necrophilia, watersports and incest all within ten minutes? Well, the last one I’m only assuming is only incest since the relationship between the two characters isn’t established, but I get the feeling it’s mother and son. It’s easily unsettling and let’s you know what you’re in store for. You would think at this point, the film was only trying to set the bar for absurdity, but it’s only getting started.

With Cornelius now free to run amok, we turn our attention to our central cast of characters in a high school. Or college. I don’t know which. All I know is that I was surprised to see Brink Stevens appear as their teacher in a cameo. Regardless, these are the people you will be spending the run time with and like I said, at first they may seem like cliches and they are all kind of assholes in their own, but stick with them. You will come to like them. The core girl of the group is Christine (Rebecca C. Kasek) and is probably the least douchiest of them all. Her friend Carrie (Toni Ann Gambale), Carrie’s boyfriend Freddy (Michael Merchant) who is probably the biggest douche of the group, token stoner Brooklyn and chubby Jason are all headed for a little getaway with their friend Pam (Nicola Fiore) and her boyfriend Dirk (Trey Harrison) who has suspicions that his girlfriend is cheating on him when he takes a peek at her phone and notices a dick pic. Still, he hasn’t been laid in a while, so he’s gonna let this slide for a bit. At least until he gets laid.

No better place to do that than at the Redwood Motel ran by a rather creepy old man who feels like a runaway member of family from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now that Dirk has had some time to relieve from sexual tension, he breaks things off with Pam and befriends Christine outside and the two have a rather nice bonding moment and the chemistry feels rather genuine. Freddy, on the other hand, is doing whatever it takes to get some ass, including berating and threatening his verbal punching bag, Jason. Even Brooklyn falls victim to Freddy’s pranks when Freddy attempts a frat, but sharts on his face. You have to wonder why these people hang out with him, but I’m assuming it’s through his association with Carrie. Or I’m over analyzing what doesn’t need to be. Freddy’s sexual conquest – or his attempt at sexual conquest – could be a Porky’s style comedy on it’s own. After being denied sex, Freddy heads outside to the dumpster where he reckons is a great place to rub one out. His realistic style commentary over his fantasy where Jason comes into the room while he goes at it with Carrie makes watching a character beat off a little more comfortable. And funny. Even when Freddy knocks himself out by hitting his head on the dumpster, do you think that stops him from finishing. Not a chance. The champ picks up right where he left off when he comes to.

Now it’s time for shit to really start hitting the fan. Cornelius and the few others he infected show up at the Redwood Motel and begin their rampage, infecting a few more others. Poor Freddy now has this and another situation to deal with; having mistaken Jason for Carrie, Freddy becomes stuck in Jason’s butt and not only has to avoid having the others see him and the mental scarring this will cause, but also battle the undead. Gotta give props to Michael Merchant for spending half of the movie with his bottom hanging out and pulling off stunts while being stuck inside an unconscious man. Hey, give the guy a break. It’s dark in that room. Meanwhile outside, Dirk finds himself fighting off these zombies alongside Christine and they learn that a simple gunshot to the head doesn’t quite work like zombie films have taught us. As the chaos ensues, what are they to do?

I can’t tell you how much I was impressed with Night of Somethings Strange, perfectly blending the horror and comedy genres. I was reminded of Return of the Living Dead while watching and that’s never a bad thing. I laughed at the parts I was supposed to and I ended up even rooting for Freddy, the biggest asshole of the bunch. Maybe I’m a little biased knowing the actor, but every time he was on screen, you were guaranteed a raunchy gag and a laugh and the film uses a lot of sick, gross out moments for laughs. One in particular that comes to mind is when Carrie falls into a blood and shit soaked toilet while trying to pee in it or later when she gets kicked in the crotch by Christine and her shoe gets stuck right in there. There’s also little things, like Freddy getting a bloody condom on his face and the aforementioned sharting scene. It’s a film that would feel at home alongside any given Troma film. I also felt Trey Harrison was a great lead, commanding every scene he was in and Nicola Fiore was a treat and I wish she was in more scenes.

Being a zombie film, it does have some pretty decent special effects for the most part, but at times you can notice a change in the quality. Most times, I thought the makeup was gruesome and disgusting, but then there were times when it looked noticeably different and not for the better, primarily when CG was used. This is due to problems with the previous effects people, as the film unfortunately had to go through a few of them, but I don’t fault the film or the filmmaker for that. After all, it’s about getting lost in the story and the characters and it’s quite easy to do that in Night of Something Strange. It truly was a breath of fresh air in the indie zombie horror sub genre. I can’t tell you how many I’ve had to sit through in the last few years, the majority of which are unbearable to say the least. To see something that has heart behind it made this a pleasure to see. Director Jonathan Straiton really made one of the best indie horror films I’ve seen in a long time. He demonstrated that you can play with the stereotypes and cliches of the genre while also showing how to play against them. He made what should have been a purposely foul and raunchy shlock fest that would have otherwise been ineptly made into something that’s outstandingly terrific and will be remembered (and possibly imitated) for years to come.

Goon Review: I Drink Your Blood (1970)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, ya big Goon! 😉 xoxo)

If there are two problems tearing this country apart, it’s definitely rabies and LSD. And satanic hippie cults. Okay, so three things. And hippies, can’t forget them. But, who is going to inform us about these evils and the destruction they cause, leaving people’s lives in shambles? Who? I’ll tell you who! Director David Durston with his film I Drink Your Blood, although there is no blood drinking, except for the chicken’s at the beginning, but nothing that would imply “yours”. The title was actually thought up by the film’s producer in order to sell it as a double feature, as it played alongside I Eat Your Skin. I guess something like “I Accidentally Drank Rabid Dog’s Blood and Now I Have Rabies” isn’t nearly as catchy.

It’s a film that seemingly takes those things seriously during an era when we weren’t quite informed on what they are nor really had any scientific idea what they were, so it comes off as rather… hysterical. This is only reinforced by how absolutely bonkers things get throughout the movie as hippies and construction workers run amok, all because of tainted meat pies. I always knew that those would somehow be responsible for an outbreak resulting in many deaths. Never trusted a meat pie as far as I could throw it and believe me, I can throw one pretty dang far.

A satanic hippie cult, led by the almost Cesar Romero-Joker-esque quality Horace Bones, who call themselves “SADOS (short for Sons and Daughters of Satan),” have to hole up in a Podunk little town with a tiny population to avoid any detection from the fuzz, you dig? You see, one night during the group’s little get together for one of their little rituals, which they do totally butt nekkid, local girl Sylvia is spotted watching the festivity. However, locals aren’t allowed on the scene and she is beaten (to which her new-found friend of the group, Andy, seems a little too casual about this). While trying to leave this little town, their van breaks down and they do the next logical thing, which is buy meat pies from the local bakery run by Mildred, who tells them that most of the town is abandoned and awaiting demolition. Ah, good thing they decided to get some food from the Exposition Bakery! The group decides to whole up in a hotel indefinitely.

Let’s talk about the group for a minute. As I mentioned, the group is led by the Native American Horace Bones. Andy is the sensitive one, who isn’t happy with the group. Then you have Rollo, the angry black man. Shelley is the questionable member, never sure what his intentions are. There is also Sue-Lin, the group’s mystical Asian woman, there is also a promiscuous groovy chick (whose name I forget) and then you have Molly, the overweight woman who is pregnant with Horace’s spawn and the cute mute Carrie, played by an uncredited Lynn Lowry in her screen debut! It’s a diverse group and everyone is here to stereo-typically represent everyone!

Sylvia’s brother Pete, who steals the show with his “gee-golly-educational film” performance, is rather unsettled by them and knows they are up to something… probably because Horace is a cackling madman and the group isn’t exactly subtle, even though the townspeople never really catch on to this. Pete’s grandfather, the veterinarian (don’t worry, this will make sense in a moment), decides to take action against Sylvia’s abusers, but his plan is easily foiled by Horace who just simply takes his shotgun away from him. Good going, pops. The old man is beaten and drugged with LSD and trips serious balls in one of the most laughable scenes to follow.

So what is LSD? Well, don’t worry. The film seemingly pauses for a moment and switches over to ‘Educational Film Mode’ and lets Pete be the voice of the audience to ask what is that L.S… whatever you call it stuff and Sylvia explains what it is and the dangers it holds. Trust me when I say it’s going to take you out of the movie for a moment, but it’s going to leave you chuckling. And the best part is, the film hasn’t even kicked into high gear!

That night, a rabid dog is strolling around and making noise, so Pete puts the thing down with his granddad’s double barrel and devises genius plan. It’s so genius, I’m sure there are some twisted, evil kid tendencies with Pete that the film unfortunately doesn’t go into, but his family may want to have him checked out: He sneaks out with his granddad’s veterinary kit and uses a syringe to siphon the dog’s infected blood, injecting them into the meat pies the Sons and Daughters of Satan of been buying. Seriously, out of all the evil revenge plans in every movie ever, is that not one of the best? It’s unclear if Pete’s intentions were to kill them, make them sick or maybe he didn’t know what would happen, but you can definitely say he got more than what he bargained for!

The members of SADOS fall ill that night, sweating and gripping their stomachs in pain, until they start foaming out the mouth and becoming violent, even toward each other. Rollo severs the foot off another member with an axe and runs off, chasing the groovy chick after being thwarted by Horace and his sword, Molly and Carrie bolt and Andy heads off to hide at Sylvia’s since he was the only one who didn’t eat the meat pies. He takes shelter there and along with her, and no worries, Pete is there too to get in the way and do whatever it is that Pete does. Whatever is though is sure to make you laugh.

Having a group of rabid, Satan worshiping hippies is bad enough to unleash on an unsuspecting town, but the groovy chick offers herself to all of the construction workers (yes… ALL twenty or thirty of them) in order to feel protected, but unbeknownst to her, she infects all of them! Every rabies infected psychopath sets their eyes on Sylvia, Pete, Mildred, Andy and even grandpa and the most bat-sh#t crazy finale ensues, accompanied by some outstanding, hectic psycho music to play along to enhance the chaos. The survivors try to defend themselves and survive as the town runs rabid, quite literally, and all kinds of violence ensues including an epic sword fight, a decapitation and plenty of shotgun blasts… and of course a PSA about rabies in the guise of an exploitation film that’s gone completely bonkers.

Now the film does end with an open question, one that will be blindingly obvious, so I recommend checking out the deleted ending that not only ties that loose end up, but also ends the film on a very dark and grim, but fitting, note.

Grindhouse Releasing presents I Drink Your Blood in a brand new HD transfer and holy moly is this print all nice and cleaned up for you. It’s how I imagined it must have looked during its drive-in theater run. There’s little damage, some and the colors are nice and bright, which makes a film of this nature really pop. There are more than enough extras to go around, most of which are carried over from the previous DVD release, but there is a new audio commentary from actors Jack Damon and Tyde Kierney as well as a new interview with David Durston. The big additions to this release is the inclusion of David Durston’s previous films I Eat Your Skin and Blue Sextet making this the perfect exploitative triple feature.

If you were to ask me what an exploitation film is, I would point you to I Drink Your Blood as the prime example. This is without a doubt my favorite movie of all time. Everything about it is honest, meaning that it comes from a place of love for what it is. The filmmakers clearly loved horror films and wanted to tell an amazing story, no matter how wild or seemingly unreal things got it. It has that certain type of genuine feel to it that all of these movies that homage films of the 70’s and 80’s claim to have. Everything about this film works, right down from the comic-book bright red blood, the idea of a new disease and how little they knew about it at the time, making it more frightening, the groovy score mixed with some good old fashioned 70’s Satanic hippie cult fun, it’s not only educational, but it’s a pure bloody good time.

Goon Review: Burial Ground (1981)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you, freaky fiendster! :)xoxo)

If there is one thing I love about Italiansploitation films (that’s Italian made exploitation films, which I’m sure you were able to figure out), it’s that they would take a preposterous idea seriously while having fun with it. Sometimes without even knowing that’s what they are doing. The producers tell them that the Dawn of the Dead movie is popular, so crank out a zombie flick as fast as you can. Someone writes a script over a lonely, drunken weekend, turns it in and the first director that says they can make it on the lowest budget wins. The gore is ramped up, a few quirky and disturbing character traits are added and the film is cast. Everything is turned up to ten. The actors take their roles very seriously and put their heart and soul into it. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to notice once these films are atrociously dubbed. The film is then haphazardly cut together in a short amount of time and released to your local grindhouse theater the next day for your viewing pleasure. Nethertheless, once those credits start rolling, you aren’t sure what the hell you just experienced, but you loved it.

I have no evidence to back this up, mind you. It’s something I’ve gathered from watching bonus features, reading stories and the overall impression I’m left with once the film is over.

Burial Ground comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Everything about this film is poorly executed, so why do I love it so much? I should hate this film by all accounts, but I don’t. It’s a film that you can’t really talk about or review without putting it under a microscope and fully analyzing it. So hunker down, this is gonna be a long review. I know what you are thinking, “Isn’t there a movie called Nights of Terror?” Well, no. That movie is Rats: Night of Terror. This movie’s subtitle is Nights, with an ‘s’, plural, which is actually quite stupid since the film only takes place during one night. But seeing as how Night was already taken… or maybe they are being extremely technical since the opening of the film does take place on the evening before, but I don’t think they took that into consideration.

Mall Santa by day, back up ZZ Top member by night, Professor… ? (they just call him Professor or “the” Professor if they are being polite or perhaps in some cruel ironic ploy, his name actually was Professor) has just discovered the secret! A secret so secretive that it will be never be revealed what it is or even brought up by anyone again. He then wanders out to some tomb not too far from his mansion where zombies begin to rise and immediately eat him and by eat him I mean they rub identifiable lumps of gore all over their faces to mimic eating, even after his pleas that he is their friend.

First thing you are gonna notice about these zombies is that there seems to be a mix of pretty decent zombie makeup and some of the worst looking zombies you’ve seen. The makeup job can get so bad, that you can see the actors eyes and lips through the masks, even on a low quality VHS. The second thing you’ll notice is how slow they are are. And when I say slow, I mean S-L-O-O-O-O-W. Crawling doesn’t even define it. These zombies move so slow, you’ll think you’re watching a scene in slow motion. You have to wonder how they ever catch their victims to eat, but luckily we have a smorgasbord of daft idiots for them to feast on and I’m not sure where any of these people are in relation to the Professor, since it’s never really addressed (maybe as colleagues in passing, but I can’t recall). The stand out character from this group is Michael, played by Peter Bark, for a reason that will become glaringly obvious the split second he is on screen; he’s a dwarf in his mid 20’s with a bad toupee playing a ten year old. And if that isn’t creepy enough for you, he also has sexual feelings toward his mother.

Anyway, this evenly matched man to woman crew has returned after six months and what’s the first thing they do? Sex! Yeah, the film certainly knows how to maintain your attention, as you watch each of the three couples foreplay, until Michael interrupts his mother, Evelyn’s. She stands there totally nude, inquisiting the young lad about what he is doing, which I’m sure is in no way sexually confusing to the already sexually confused deviant. Without getting too far ahead of myself or psychoanalyzing the character, Evelyn seems to be sexually confused about her son as well, but it’s (surprisingly) more subtle.

The useless blonde archetype of the group, Janet, can’t help but feel that they are all in danger and wants to warn the others, but is discouraged by her lover Mark. The good ol’ ‘Prophet of Doom’. Most of these Italian films had them, even if they don’t fit into the story, like why is she suddenly getting these feelings? It’s never explained, so let’s move on to the next morning, where after some finely placed J&B Scotch product placement, we are finally giving a brief, but not open ended explanation as to why the zombies have risen.

The Professor was studying ‘the black arts’. There ya go.

And this is why all of the characters are here. This is what the Professor wanted to tell them. A simple phone call or letter would not do. Well, we needed a reason to group a bunch of dimwits together for a zombie, gut munching gore fest, so now we have one.

Now that all (and I do mean all) of the exposition is out of the way, we can move on to more exploitation! Each of the couples separate to do their own hobbies, like sketching, photography or George teaching Evelyn to fire a handgun (which, again, never comes back in the film, so take that, Chekhov’s gun!) Ultimately, all of these activities lead to heavy petting, leaving these fools to be distracted as the zombies emerge from the tomb and attack the profusely stupid and conveniently distracted couples. Janet and Mark are the first two to be attacked and although they aren’t sure what to make of the creatures, Mark intelligently states that, “Whatever they are, they aren’t human!” Thanks Mark, I wasn’t able to figure that out. As they escape, Janet runs around screaming and flailing, making Olive Oil look dignified, manages to get herself caught in a bear trap. Wait, why the hell is there a bear trap randomly placed there. Did I say bear? I meant nimrod trap.

Meanwhile, George is trying to seduce Evelyn, even while Michael is in the room (which I’m sure seeing random dudes grind on his mom is in no way adding to those sexual feelings toward her…). In a disturbing turn of the scene, Michael manages to gain his mother’s attention by finding a cloth, commenting that it smells like death, then showing George how to really seduce a woman as he kisses his mom’s hand all over while staring right into George’s eyes as if saying, “Yeah punk, let me show you how it’s done. I know what my mom likes!” I can’t believe I had to write that. This movie is making me feel ill.

Luckily before things go any further and turns into some weird fetish films, the zombies attack, killing George leaving Evelyn and Michael to defend themselves by throwing paint on the zombies and setting them on fire. James and Leslie, the other couple (sorry, that’s the best description I have for them) manage to save them in time, as they also previously saved Mark and Janet. They group takes shelter inside the house, with what looks like very helpful stage direction from a zombie who points for them to run in a certain direction. Finally inside with the butler and maid, Nicholas and Kathleen, they decide it’s best to check out the rest of the house to make sure it’s safe. Mark heroically volunteers defenseless Kathleen to go search the entire house by herself. Sorry lady, but we can’t spare any of these several people sitting around. After searching the house for a bit, Kathleen finds an open window to close on the second floor, but that doesn’t stop these zombies. These zombies are ninja like experts with their precise accuracy as one throws a tent spike right into her hand, pinning her in her spot and leaving them time to slowly cut off her head with a scythe, making this what could be the best zombie kill in a movie.

These zombies may look laughably stupid, but they know how to organize. Arming themselves with weapons from a nearby and conveniently placed tool shed, they march to the front door and begin smashing on it with tools. However James, who inexplicably now has a shotgun, starts blowing their heads off from an open window. Even these zombies aren’t that stupid, as after about a dozen of them have their brains reduced to mush, they begin to retreat. The group feels they are now safe for the night and Leslie heads off to find some bandages for Janet’s wounded leg, only to be jumped from a zombie outside as she passes a window, who uses a broken shard of glass to push through her brain. This calls for all the other zombies to infiltrate like a SWAT team and attack helpless Janet in a scene that feels like it goes on forever, until the others reappear and fight back.

That was pretty tense! I think everyone needs a break. As they all sit around and rest up, Michael uses this time to make a move on his mom by kissing her and groping, adding a whole new definition to breastfeeding, which she sickly seems to be going with, but snaps out of it and slaps him across the face and immediately apologizes. Yeah, this kid is gonna be messed up for the rest of his life, which coincidentally isn’t too much longer. He darts off only to have his arm devoured by a zombie Leslie, who I thought had glass stabbed through her brain (but, how did she turn if she wasn’t bit?). Evelyn finds the now dead Michael and bashes zombie Leslie’s head up against a bathtub, leaking all kinds of grossly colored juices.

No time for mourning your weirdo son, lady. The zombies have made a homemade battering ram (holy moly, they are resourceful) and have broken down the door! If only they were really slow moving and weak, then maybe they would have a chance of escaping… instead the remaining survivors hide until morning when Janet spots what looks like a monk heading inside the tomb. Monks? Sure why not! I’m sure they are downright neighborly and will offer shelter and help or, as it turns out, they are zombies and kill James upon seeing him, who almost immediately rises from the dead.

So what are the qualifications for becoming a zombie in this movie? Do you or don’t you have to get bit? How long does it take? Who cares! Zombies, right?

The final three realize they are locked in the tomb’s… workshed? Yeah, why does this place have a workshed? I guess when monks and the Professor aren’t studying the black arts, they are heavy into home repair. I’m sure a work shed is in no way a setup for the final act and our remaining victim’s fate (wow, I am using a lot of sarcasm in this review). Michael returns as a zombie, with a whole new arm somehow and a nipple bite later, Janet and Mark are being surrounded and being pushed headfirst into saw blades. The movie closes on a freeze frame, telling of a “profecy” of a “nigths” and that’s not a typo on my part.

So the movie ends about as well as you thought it would. With obviously glaring typos over the survivor’s demise.

If it weren’t for the time that this movie was made, I would have sworn this is a spoof, otherwise there would be no explanation as to how bad things are in this movie. Complaints about some of the terrible and revealing makeup aside (at least during the close ups), these zombies are incredibly slow moving and weak. In order to make them a menace, the characters in this film are written to a point of stupidity so insane, that it is fiction. Nothing anyone does is something anything with a pulse would do. They stand around looking puzzled as zombies slowly shuffle toward them, then while escaping, they run head first into the undead, even though they have plenty of space to run around them. Of course, most zombie films are guilty of this, but here it’s overplayed. Thankfully, it plays for laughs and sheer entertainment. With the exception of Michael, I can’t say anything positive about the other characters. There is simply nothing to them, except to be a meal for the zombies. I’m not expecting deep character development, but literally all of these characters are the same. The guys are all faux masculine and the women just cry. In some sort of sick ironic sense, if it weren’t for Michael, there wouldn’t be any reason to watch these buffoons.

Playful jabs aside, the film isn’t horribly directed. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider it to be beautiful like a Mario Bava film or something like Fulci’s The Beyond, but mood is well established and the shots frame everything well to capture what is going on. The soundtrack is… interesting to say the least. It’s no Harry Manfredini score, but it’s odd keyboard ‘pokes’ and tense violin strings do accompany the film extremely well. And the gore. Oh yes, the gore. There is more than enough here to satisfy any like minded horror fan as these poor chumps are ripped apart and have their guts devoured, body parts torn or cut off and even the zombies themselves get their head smashed to bits. Also, I know I joked about some of the makeup looking pretty bad and it can be, but there are some good looking zombies thrown in, complete with maggot covered faces and all. And I do have to say, it’s refreshing to see zombies use some tools for a change and instead of mindlessly lumbering around, these zombies actually had something of a plan and did what they could to do it. I was often reminded of the first zombie encountered in Night of the Living Dead who uses a brick. There are very few breaks in between the carnage for you to sit back and relax, as something is always out to get you. Even the dubbing is fitting for the film. It’s as atrocious as you would expect (especially Peter Bark’s voice over) from an Italiansploitation film, yet it somehow fits into all of this.

Ever hear the phrase ‘so bad it’s good?’ Well, this is what the are referring to when they say that. This is a movie that by all accounts (the special effects, acting, directing, etc.) should be a bad film, but it isn’t. Everything that is bad is what makes this film good. Lying beneath its serious demeanor is a smirk of devilish charm, a film that is (or at least it must be) self aware and having some fun with you. Underneath all the layers of cheese is a delicious blend of fun and hokiness. Burial Ground is what I consider to be the definitive example of the Italian zombie genre of the 80’s. It’s not revered as a classic in the way that George Romero’s earlier zombie flicks are, but the film is looked as a classic in terms of what to expect from an exploitation film of this genre.

Luckily, Severin Films is also a fan of the film and completely restored it in 2K and even though it does clean it up too much to the point where all the bad makeup becomes even more evident, it’s still amazing to watch in clear detail. It wouldn’t even be an official release if you didn’t toss in a bunch of new extras, most of which are interviews with the cast and crew, so that means you have to read it since they are in Italian. There’s also deleted and extended scenes as well as the theatrical trailer and Severin also offers a poster along with it with amazing artwork from Wes Benscoter.

I really could go on forever about Burial Ground, but I think it’s easiest, and probably the best, to say you need to see it. I don’t think you can consider yourself to be a zombie fan or Italian film fan until you do.

Goon Reviews: Firestarter (1984)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you, hot stuff!! 😉 xoxo)

Stephen King movies. Just opening up a review with that sentence makes me think about fortifying my walls and wearing body armor. I understand he has a very strong and faithful following and for a good reason; the guy is a phenomenal writer. That being said, I don’t think his films have always been well adapted when it comes to the big screen. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, his films often follow the same plot structures, contain ridiculous, one note, cliched characters and often conclude with an ending that’s less than satisfactory. This is just my opinion, of course, but then he has those films that kinda fall in the middle of the road.

Let’s talk about Firestarter, for example. I know there are a ton of people out there who love this movie and rightfully so, but something about it just didn’t click for me completely. I didn’t hate the film, but I didn’t love it. I just thought it was okay, which I know is blasphemy to not adore a Stephen King adapted film, especially an older work, but just because I don’t absolutely love the film doesn’t mean I didn’t find the performances to be fantastic or the story to be pretty decent. It just wasn’t what I expected and I felt it dragged and repeated similar scenes.

A very young, post E.T., Drew Barrymore stars as the film’s titular character, Charlie McGee, who has the ability to raise the temperature and start things on fire, hence Firestarter. She also has one of the most buck-toothed, back woods, Stephen King character names of all time. Rather than the film be about her discovering her powers and causing havoc or going out for revenge, she is already fully aware of her powers, but is still learning how to fully control it. She’s on the run with her father Andy played by David Keith (not to be confused with Keith David) who are trying to escape from some government faction that likes to experiment on people called The Shop. You see, Andy met his wife Victoria (Heather Locklear in a very small role) during one of The Shop’s experiments that gave Andy telekinetic powers they oddly call “shove” or “shoving.” It’s kinda like how they had to make Danny’s powers sound more exciting by calling it “shining” in, um, The Shining. So for you X-Men fans, Andy is basically Jean Grey and Charlie is Sunspot.

After a long night of running from the suits and accidentally setting some jerk’s foot on fire, Andy and Charlie wind up at a small farm, ran by the friendly Irv (Art Carney) and his wife Norma (Louise Fletcher) where their cover is quickly blown, but Irv is rather accepting of the truth and we get a look back at what happened to Victoria and why Andy and Charlie are on the run. It actually feels like that part could have been written out and used as the movie, which honestly I would have rather seen. Soon, suits from The Shop show up by the dozen and seemingly multiply when the shoot Irv in the arm and Charlie begins setting them on fire and blowing up their cars. It’s quite an intense scene and referencing X-Men once again, reminded me of the scene from X2 where Pyro is attacking the police cars outside of Bobby’s house. When all’s said and done, the remaining survivors run away leaving quite an awkward situation for Andy and Charlie. Norma demands that they leave and this important for the ending when Charlie arrives to Irv and Norma welcoming her with open arms. Oh okay, I guess Norma had some time to blow off some steam? Why the sudden change of heart other than that the ending called for it to be happy. I’m getting ahead of myself.

With the two on the run, we meet the real driving force of the film, the evil that sends the events into motion, Captain Hollister played by a very scratchy throated Martin Sheen. Hollister was probably my favorite character of the film, because you aren’t totally sure of his intentions. He wants to capture Charlie and use her as a weapon, yet he seems to think they can only use her so much before she becomes totally dangerous and wants to destroy her. However, at other times, he seems like he doesn’t really want to kill her… so his hired gun John Rainbird offers to do it and seems happy to do so. George C. Scott disappears into the role of John Rainbird, complete with a classic villain look with scars, ponytail and an eyepatch. His character is absolutely insane, befriending Charlie so that he can gain her trust to kill her, because he wants to absorb her spirit and rid the world of the danger that she’s capable of. He seems very tragic and George C. Scott plays both sides perfectly. He’s threatening and violent and will frighten you into hiding, but he can lure you out and be totally trusting and seemingly caring. You’re never sure exactly where he’s coming form.

John and Hollister finally capture Andy and Charlie and separate them at The Shop, promising them both that if they do what they say they will be reunited. Of course, we know that’s not true and neither does Andy who’s being forced to take medication to dull his powers while his daughter is being pampered and given false promises if she uses her powers. At this point, I’m not exactly sure what it is they plan to do with the evidence of her powers… I believe it was to try and duplicate it with more people? Anyway, Andy devises a plan to escape and contacts Charlie while duping Hollister about his suppressed powers that leads to a fiery and explosive finale that ends pretty much how you think it will. Also, I forgot to mention the synth poppy soundtrack by Tangerine Dream that is damn good. However at time it may not always fit the context of the scene, it’s always welcoming to hear. I’ve always enjoyed their work, especially on Near Dark and although they didn’t record new music for Firestarter (the director was given pre-existing music they recorded), it’s easily one of my favorite soundtracks.

Although I stated that Firestarter was pretty middle of the road for me, I do have to say that the performances from everyone are fantastic. At a very young age, Drew Barrymore manages to handle a range of emotions, even crying and being vulnerable and then flipping that and becoming wily and dangerous. David Keith does a pre James McAvoy Professor X touching his temples, but mixing in a bit of that face and eyes intensity in Scanners whenever he used his powers. He plays Andy as a very protective father and a damaged man who is tired and stressed out from running and using his powers. You can see the toll it’s taken on him. I already talked about George C. Scott and Martin Sheen, which really concludes the majority of the characters that you spend time with. Heather Locklear is barely in the movie, but she’s adorable, so you can see how Andy would fall her. She’s not really given many scenes and doesn’t have any depth.

Scream Factory presents Firestarter in a brand new 2K scan that looks phenomenally sharp and clean. I can’t recall many dust or scratches and yet it’s not like it looks like a brand new film, but rather if the original print had no damage. Director Mark L. Lester offers a brand new commentary and is even interviewed in a new featurette, Playing with Fire, along with Actors Freddie Jones, Drew Snyder, Dick Warlock and even Johannes Schmoelling of Tangerine Dream. There’s actually a featurette on Tangerine Dream as well as a live performance of ‘Charlie’s Theme’, because they knew how good the soundtrack was to this movie that they had to include some features about it. The disc is topped off with the usual trailers, radio spots and still galleries.

Firestarter is one of the better Stephen King adapted films, boasting incredible performances and a killer soundtrack, but with a typical evil government/good guy on the run plot and it ends pretty much exactly how you think it will. Even though I don’t love the film, I like it just fine and think it’s well made, but it feels a bit underwhelming to me.

Goon Reviews: Waxwork Collection

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you, Ho-rror Ho-mie! And yeah, we can definitely agree…Waxxx statues are creepy AF!! It seems like they were solely invented for murderin’ purposes!! 😉 xoxo)

Can we agree that wax statues are creepy? Something about their shiny complexion and mannequin-like thousand yard stares that seem to follow you no matter where you are in a room are perfect nightmare fuel and yet very underused in horror film. You have fantastic exceptions like House of Wax (I’m talking the Vincent Price classic) that uses wax shells over human corpses to display the madman’s work. Surprisingly, this is an idea that was never fully exploited in the horror genre. What about rampaging, killer wax statues? Well, something like that did happen and it was actually a lot of fun.

Waxwork was a really imaginative horror comedy from director Anthony Hickox that was fun, adventurous, scary and gory. Like, surprisingly gory. At times, these varying moods can seem confusing as to which age group or audience it’s aiming to please, but a majority of the time they mesh well and make the movie a complete blast to watch. It captures that whole high-school-teens-in-trouble-with-the-supernatural-but-nobody-believes-them concept that the ‘80s loved so much, yet also seemingly captures the whimsy and magical wonder of movies you loved as a kid, except with a lot more creatures eating people and head’s getting cut off. Honestly, at different points in the film I felt like I was watching a fun, enchanted kids fantasy film and then the language and gore will totally throw you for a loop, but it’s a small you loop you learn to accept and it’s blended pretty decently.

Gremlins star Zach Galligan plays rich, spoiled high school elite Mark who acts maybe a little too mature for his age when he isn’t playing the overly jealous and possessive ex-boyfriend role to China. Not the country (lawlz), but the beautiful Michelle Johnson’s character. There seems to be a love triangle between him, her, a couple other dudes and the shy, petite virgin, Sarah (Valley Girl’s Deborah Foreman). Guess who will end up together? This all takes up the first several minutes, probably more, of the movie and kinda sprinkled here and there throughout the movie, but ultimately it’s irrelevant to the main course. A Waxwork operated by the always commanding and charming David Warner appears seemingly out of nowhere overnight and Mark and his friends China, Sarah and Tony (Twin Peaks’ Dana Ashbrook) are invited to check out it’s grand opening. I get a feeling it’s gonna be killer!

I apologize for that last attempt at a joke. I’m writing this while getting over the flu for the second time this year already.

Tony almost immediately finds himself drawn into a werewolf display, quite literally. He instantly begins having a long monologue and believing he was somehow hypnotized and that’s how he can see, feel and smell his surroundings. Gotta give Bobby Briggs credit for keeping his cool and still being a dick about the situation. He comes across a cabin with John Rhys-Davies who turns into a werewolf, which is what I’m sure would happen in real life if you were trapped in a cabin with him. Tony is bitten and begins transforming, but not before some hunters with silver bullets put them down. The camera very artistically pulls out to reveal the aftermath as the display just as Mark walks by looking for his friends who seem to be having their own gory adventures, like China who gets drawn in my Dracula’s gaze or maybe it’s because Miles O’Keefe has that super intense stare. This is one of the more gorier sequences and it uses some of those moments to a more humorous advantage, like with a man strapped to a table missing the meat off his leg and people keep hitting it and he screams in pain as he’s trying to help guide Sarah how to kill the vampires.

With a few friends missing, Sarah and Mark leave and get the police involved, one of which is one of my favorite cliches, a chain smoking detective who has a short temper. This detective takes a walk through the Waxwork and can’t help but notice all of the victims in the displays look a lot like people that have gone missing. Could it be a coincidence? Time to investigate, but not tell any other cops what you’re up to so when you go missing, nobody comes looking for you. There is a point for David Warner to be doing this, I think, that comes out when Mark visits his godfather who reveals to him all kinds of things about the occult and Satan, so you know, typical evil stuff, but it all leads to an absolutely glorious, silly, batshit battle between the wax monsters and a bunch of old guys with sabers. At least watch it for an old man in an electric powered wheelchair covered in flimsy armor and spikes.

I would say that Waxwork is imaginative, creative and a lot of fun most of the time, even if it’s not consistent at those. It’s funny at times, can be creepy and I thought the makeup work was excellent and even with some of the gore cut, it’s still pretty gory, especially when you see an old man get his head yanked off. Each one of the sequences feels like a different short film directed in a different style or by a different person and yet it fits. I especially liked the black and white zombie sequence. The sequel, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, on the other hand, well, is something of the exact opposite of that, but not for the lack of trying. The film certainly tries to recapture that same humor, magic and excitement, but unfortunately feels misguided and nothing seems to work where it should. Most of the jokes aren’t funny, the plot pieces seem out of place and the overall idea seems lost in what it’s trying to do and nothing mixes.

The sequel picks up immediately where the original left off with Mark and Sarah escaping the burning Waxwork building with Mark having significantly longer hair and Sarah significantly being a completely different actress. Clearly some time has passed, plenty of movies have continuity issues between sequels, so let’s just ignore it and move on. Sarah goes home to an almost abusive stepfather played by George ‘Buck’ Flower who’s murdered by the escaped severed hand at the end of the first film, which Sarah then completely pulverised Evil Dead style in the dish drain. Ok, so now that that’s happened, where do you go? How about to a semi-serious courtroom drama about the aftermath of the events and Sarah being on trial for the murder of her stepfather, her friends and the events that happened at the Waxwork? I know this seems like it could be an interesting way to take the franchise at this point, but how do you follow up something that was somewhat lighthearted, magical and scary by throwing in the idea of ‘this is what would happen in real life’? It’s a little jarring and with what’s about to follow, it’s gonna be like mixing peanut butter and shaving cream. Sure, you can do it, but should you? It doesn’t blend well and what you get is a mishmash of ideas that should have been their own entities and an film that leaves you unsure of how to feel.

Shit seems to be getting pretty serious, so the Mark decides that if they travel through time, they can collect some evidence and prove that the magic is real and Sarah will be totally innocent. Yeah, sure, that makes total sense. See what I mean about tonal whiplash? Also at this point, you’re going to start to notice that this is kind of an in name only sequel, meaning the idea of a Waxwork or what you think of is no longer, but it’s more like a continuing adventure, which I have to hand to them for trying something different. We are taken to some rather cool places, like a Frankenstein story where you really learn that the physical humor was really cranked up, but is more noticeably ineffective, a House on Haunted Hill era where I don’t remember what the hell the point of this one was, but like the zombie sequence in the first film is the most memorable and humorous mostly due to Bruce Campbell’s role and his physical humor as well as the camera work and lighting. The last segment is a magical kind of King Arthur sort of story and it’s at this point I had to wonder why this was called Lost in Time when none of the things happening are accurate to time or at least the real world’s time.

Well, short answer is because it’s later explained by a goddamn bird – yes, a bird – that it’s a parallel world. Ok, fair enough, but wouldn’t the title Lost in a Parallel Dimension be more accurate? Probably not as catchy, but at least I wouldn’t be able to call bullshit. I digress, but at this point you’re probably starting to notice just how padded this movie is and it’s going to drag and drag… and drag, especially the ending sword fight, which offers some cool ideas, but at some point you will feel like screaming, “END!” at your television. And it will… nearly two hours later. Yes, this is almost a two hour movie and so much could have been cut out of it. Whereas in the first film director Anthony Hickox managed to find a fine line in between all these different styles and genres, Waxwork II couldn’t find that same comfort zone. Nothing really blends well and you constantly feel like you’re watching a different film.

This is number three in Vestron’s Blu-ray library as a double features and although it’s under one package, each film is on its own disc as new a HD transfer and has their own special features. Well the first film has special features, the second film just has a trailer and audio commentary from Anthony Hickox and Zach Galligan, but you know what mean. The first Waxwork film has a six part documentary called The Waxwork Chronicles, a vintage “making of” featurette, as well as a trailer and a still gallery. Waxwork is also presented uncut, so even if you don’t like the second film, it’s still worth picking up for that alone.

Goon Review: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest Soundtrack

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, ya big Goon! 😉 xoxo)

Castlevania without a doubt holds a place in video game history. It had some solid gameplay, cool tunes and it was creepy, plus what kid didn’t want to fight monsters, like Dracula? It help shape the side scrolling platformer and many would come to imitate it. Castlevania’s sequel, Simon’s Quest, however, is a totally different story. Although it was still the same side scrolling platforming style as the original, it tried to add some RPG elements to the game that didn’t mesh well and players were forced to wander back and forth between towns, farming for hearts. This was to pad out the length of the game and boy, did it feel like it. The game also confused gamers by adding cryptic text from villagers that were supposed to be hints at what to do next, except they made no sense and gamers were lost. Remember having to equip the red crystal and kneeling next to a wall for five seconds to make a tornado appear and then you could continue the game? Of course you do now, but the game never told you that!

Okay, so it wasn’t the best game. Or very well liked by fans. Or very well liked by critics for that matter either. But if there is one thing everyone universally agrees on, it’s that the soundtrack was – and still is – amazing. Arguably, it’s still one of the best out there and has some of the most iconic and memorable tracks by Konami Kukeiha Club. Having ventured from horror and sci-fi soundtracks over to video games, Mondo has “whipped” up a stellar release of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest on vinyl that’s worthy of any vampire slayer.

Being a company that loves and respects art, Mondo never skips on the presentation. First impressions and all, you know. Eric Powell’s artwork is an astonishing way to catch someone’s attention with Simon fighting a legion of skeletons. Kinda reminds me a Ray Harryhausen film. Behind him is a twisted path that leads up to Castlevania with skelefied version of Dracula over a full moon. Gotta hand it to Eric Powell there for capturing how Dracula looks in the game, since some people forget that he kinda looks like Death himself. Overall, it’s a perfect image that captures the good aspects of the game in one look. The backside is a werewolf beginning to reach out for you and I have to admit that it reminds me of old Nintendo Power Magazine images, which makes this packaging feel totally nostalgic. Once you open it, you’ll find the map of the whole world from Simon’s Quest with nothing labeled, like it’s something hand drawn… which it is, so this makes total sense. The vinyl itself is pressed on blue vinyl with green splatter, giving it a groovy effect.

Rather than split up the tracks on both sides, Mondo has done something unique that I am sure collectors and fans alike appreciate; Side A of the record presents the NES version of the soundtrack and Side B is the Famicom version of the soundtrack. For those of you who don’t know, the Famicom is the Japanese version of the NES and although both sides have the same nine tracks in the same order, the sound of them is different. The NES version sounds more rock/poppy (as much as 8-bit can) whereas the Famicom version sounds more rustic, like something you would expect an old vampire film to have. The Famicom version certainly fits the mood more and can create a haunting atmosphere (which I do love), I often prefer the NES version. Maybe it’s because that’s what I grew up with or certain tracks like the popular Bloody Tears sounds fantastic when it’s got more kick and gets you all energetic.

Listening to the whole album is like a quick walk through the game itself without all the backtracking and farming and it actually made me remember the parts of the game that I actually liked. It even made me feel that sensation of accomplishment when you finally figured out what to do next and continued further. I even found myself bobbing my head and tapping my foot to the tracks as it progressed and I continuously flipped the record over and over and replaying it for long periods of a time, because the soundtrack is that good and everlasting. Kinda like Dracula himself. It’s kind of a short experience, but video game music wasn’t that long to begin with. It was usually a short amount of music looped, but when it’s this good, you really don’t mind going back and playing it again. You can purchase the soundtrack at the Mondo site for only 20 hearts… I mean, dollars.

Goon Reviews: Wild Beasts

(The Animal Lover in me can’t with this movie, but I still appreciate Mr. Andrew Peters for sitting through it and sharing his thoughts with us. I’m now super certain I shall be avoiding it at all costs. 😉 xoxox)

Franco Prosperi doesn’t often get the credit he deserves, be it good or bad. He first exposed his work to the world in 1962 with Mondo Cane, the original “shockumentary” of mostly real archive footage displaying mankind at its most depraved and perverse, displaying bizarre rites, cruel behavior and bestial violence. He would try to outdo what he had previously done with his later works, Africa Blood and Guts and Goodbye Uncle Tom. Arguably, this is what started the whole Italian horror and gore genre, possibly even the cannibal movies. Later Italian horror films, like Cannibal Holocaust (and in this regard, Cannibal Ferox as well) seemed to revel in the animal cruelty and sadistic violence toward or from a culture.

His final film in 1983 would be a step away from the shockumentaries and more toward the nature strikes back genre with Wild Beasts, a film that feels like a mix of zombie outbreak spreading and animals run amok on a killer rampage. On paper, this sounds like it could be pretty damn fun! And then slowly the realization dawned on me that this was an Italian made film that featured scenes of people fighting against real life animals.

Real animals are gonna die in this film, aren’t they?

This is something I can never excuse. I’ve gone off about this once or twice, but an animal should never have to die for your goddamn movie. I’ve heard some people try and defend it by telling me that’s it’s because it’s a different time and things were different. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean morals didn’t exist. It’s not just mistreating animals, this film gets downright uncomfortably sadistic with it and seems to enjoy the fact that they are killing animals, ya know, for your entertainment. For example, a cat has a legion of rats attacking it and although apparently according to some sources I’ve read that both the cat and those rats lived, but the look of sheer brutality on their faces tells me they didn’t escape without injuries. The rats, however, were sprayed with high pressured hoses, which I’m sure some drowned or had bones broken and then they were lit on fire with flamethrowers. The camera shows this going on for minutes with little or no dialogue, like it wants to show off the fact that they are torching real rats. It was one of the most sickest fucking things I sat through. I seriously yelled, “are you fucking kidding me, Italy?” at my TV, paused it to catch my breath and then back at it.

If that was the reaction you were going for, congratulations movie. You proved that you can be a soulless, depraved piece of shit.

Okay, I had my little rant, so let’s talk about the actual film itself. In essence, PCP manages to get into a local zoo’s water supply, so as a result they go into a kill crazy rampage. The setup alone is a sleazy, exploitation movie waiting to happen and, oh, throw in the main chick from Cannibal Ferox for good measure and so the audience knows what kind of film they are in for, since she only seems to pop up in the real dirty and gritty Italian flicks. I could stop talking about it now, since that pretty much IS the film, but I’ll tell you a little bit about it.

Rupert takes care of animals at the zoo as well as does some other science-y stuff. I may have stopped paying attention or this was never explained. Neither would surprise me. He has a thing going with the aforementioned “chick from Cannibal Ferox,” Lorraine De Selle as Laura. I can’t quite recall what her purpose was either, other than to be damsel in distress and to assure those familiar with this type of film that you are gonna see some real carnage. She has a super bratty, obnoxious daughter, Suzy, that I could have sworn I recognized in the same role from other Italian horror flicks, but this was the only film this actress has ever done, so I’m assuming it’s whoever dubbed her voice I am confusing it with. Anyway, you don’t care about the daughter (in fact, I was hoping she would have been devoured at some point in the film) and Laura doesn’t seem to care about her that much either, always neglecting her and forgetting about her. So far, Rupert is the most likable character and I have to give kudos to this actor as he actually gets in close range with these animals and pets them. I’m guessing this was a “anything goes” kind of set, seeing as it was all about nature taking course, or something.

It’s pretty much immediately PCP gets into the water, although at the time you aren’t sure what exactly is going on, but it’s clued that something is wrong with the water supply by showing all the animals taking drinks before the outbreak. There’s some filler afterwards to get to know the characters a little bit, but it’s pretty muched described in the paragraph above and being from the “Godfather of Mondo,” he knew when to let all hell break loose. Elephants smash through down the brick walls of the zoo and all of the other animals bust outta the joint and endure on a kill crazy rampage, tearing some poor victims to shreds. It’s practical effects mixed with stuntmen (I only assume… this is Italy after all) being mauled and shredded to death. The practical effects of all the cuts and guts being torn out look spectacular and it’s sure what most of you paid to see and it pays off quite well.

Now the characters find themselves in one hell of a predicament as the animals roam the city and devouring anyone they come across. This is where the movie plays out much like an early ‘80s zombie knock off film as the characters try to find out what is going on, what’s causing the problem and how to stop it while the Police sit around and eat popcorn. Seriously, there is a detective who sits around and eats bags of popcorn as the scientists or zoo workers – whatever the hell their occupation was – try to find a solution and he’s just hanging back munching a snack without a care in the world.
Things seem to escalate when they realize the water supply was tainted and this could be more widespread than they think… and that people could be now infected. Meanwhile, Suzy is off at dance class and they have no idea that zoo animals are running around slaughtering everyone until a polar bear breaks into their class and eats their teacher. On a list of things that were unexpected, I bet that lady never would have imagined that would happen. The kids also stop for a water break, but Suzy decides to stick to her ice cold, delicious Coca-Cola, a product placement I’m sure Coke is totally happy about. As they find shelter from the polar bear, the kids arm themselves with knives and Suzy soon realizes that she’s in just as much danger hiding in a room with her peers as she was with the polar bear. I have to ask, is this some new strain of PCP that makes you kill crazy? Or is that how PCP actually is? I’ve never had an interest in doing something that stupid, so I don’t know. Either way, the outbreak has now spread to humans, so things are really taking an ugly turn. They don’t really go into it that much, nor do they resolve who decided to spike the water in the first place, although it’s hinted at and maybe that’s the way to do with that. It does keep it ominous and mysterious.

Finally after a long, long time, Wild Beasts is presented on Blu-ray in an all new cleaned up digital restoration. The quality is absolutely phenomenal to say the least. There is some grain here and there, but that sort of thing doesn’t bother me when watching an older film. In fact, I prefer a little bit of weather, because they don’t look right if they are completely polished, like something is being lost in translation. There’s also a handful of interviews with various cast and crew members as they talk about their experiences with the film, but it’s all in Italian, so for those of you who hate reading subtitles, I don’t know what to tell you other than you are being silly.

Wild Beasts can be laughably ridiculous, shocking or even appalling at times, but it’s always captivating. The film feels like a mix bagged of genres, being more than just an animals attack movie. It begins with an isolated incident that quickly escalates and in the last several minutes or so shows you that this has now become a widespread outbreak and this certainly isn’t the end, implying an apocalyptic, drug crazed doom of some kind. As much as I can dislike something for animal cruelty, Wild Beasts is absolutely gonzo and a unique, gory blend of various genres.

Goon Review: Muck (I Brought this on Myself… ;)

Mr. Goon reviews asked me if I wanted him to review anything specific for KH this week. Since Muck just came out and takes place on St. Paddy’s Day, I figured that’d be a good one for him to do. He asked if it was ok to be brutally Ho-nest about it, even though I’m clearly biased towards the film. I said, “Of course”!! He said…well, read his review and you’ll see. (Sometimes my Lasso of Truth is too darn powerful for it’s own good… ;)). xoxo


Muck, a review by Andrew Peters

There’s nothing wrong with 80’s nostalgia… most of the time, especially when it comes to horror films, slashers in particular. There within lied a formula that worked, but seems to get seriously misunderstood nowadays. Muck is a shining example of not only everything misrepresented about throwback horror films, but filmmaking in general.

So what’s the movie about? Why is it so bad? Well, I can try to tell you what it’s about and I can tell you exactly why it’s so bad. The premise of the film sounds easy enough on paper; a group of teens were doing something somewhere and then start being killed off by a cult of people. Sorry to tell you this, but that’s as detailed as the plot gets. Right as the movie starts, you are in the thick of it with no explanation as to what happened. These kids are already beat up and dirty and the girls are in their underpants for no reason. I seriously thought I blacked out for a moment and didn’t realize it, rewound to the beginning of the movie to see what I missed only to find out that nope, that’s exactly how the movie starts. Plot, who needs it? Ok, so if the filmmaker isn’t going to explain what happened, then who are these people killing them? That’s never explained either nor is there a mystery about it. Both of these are just frustrating, because the film is absolutely void of any atmosphere. You know, it’s a bold step to not include your audience as to what the hell is going on. Is “bold” the right word?

It wasn’t until afterwards when I researched this film that I found out this is planned to be the second film in a trilogy. Yes, this is part two of some trilogy (that we will hopefully never see the rest of). What was the logical thinking behind this, making a second film first? I guess it could have worked if we cared about anything happening or the characters. That’s Muck’s biggest flaw, is the lack of character and story. The characters are all “that guy.” You know, the guy who thinks the only things that matter in life are beer and pussy. They are all the comic relief character and won’t shut up. Basically everything out of their mouths is racist and sexist which are constantly mistaken for humor. The men are total loud mouth idiots with nothing but tits on their minds and the girls are airheads who can’t wait to show their tits. This is what the filmmaker thinks of people. Oh boy, I can’t wait to sit through two more movies with these people…

The formula I previously mentioned is narrowed down to three things: stereotypes, boobs and practical gore. Slasher movies usually contain all three of these, but most of the time when you think about it, filmmakers tend to think this is all the movie needs rather than likeable, interesting characters,  a good (but doesn’t have to be great) story and atmosphere or mood. Hell, I’ll take those over a high body count any day. Writer/Director of Muck Steve Wolsh is one of those filmmakers that seems to have thought those first three things are all a horror film needs, confusing horror fans with drooling primates. According to him, as long as there are tits, it’s awesome.

But hey, I like nudity just as much as the next person, but in context. Muck constantly will cut to sweaty, dirty, topless women when a scene is seemingly starting to drift away. It’s as if Wolsh knows that his film is getting boring, so he is trying to captivate the audience with pointless and overly gratuitous breast shots and personally, I find it insulting. Not that there is nudity, don’t mistake my argument, but the fact the film is constantly talking down to you and assumes you are completely stupid and your brain works on a completely primal level, only being satisfied with sex and violence. I never thought there would be a day where I complain about sex and violence in horror films.

And it’s of these misunderstood “rules” of a slasher film I’ve been talking about, Wolsh thought to himself, “Hey, I can do that,” without truly understanding what makes a great horror film. Not to say they are all great works of art. Let’s be real, a lot of them are garbage and some of them are downright exploitive, but a lot of them, even if they aren’t great, can still be a lot of fun through something they offer.

So what does Muck have to offer that is good? If I am to credit the film for anything, it’s for the use of fan favorite Kane Hodder and having practical effects. Yeah, surprisingly the movie has all practicals much like Hatchet, but they aren’t nearly as extravagant or over the top gory. It’s nice to see blood actually spray and squirt rather than opting for CG gore. Kane Hodder, who was referred to during my research as the main villain, is always a breath of fresh air to see, since you know some annoying teens are about to butchered. But even these good qualities have their drawbacks, if you can believe it.

I know it’s silly to complain about gore, but the majority of the gore is just the aforementioned practical effects is just blood squirting and spraying. No severed limbs of the sort, just blood oozing from stab wounds. And as for Kane Hodder being “the main villain” is total bullshit. I think his total screen time is just under a minute and he’s part of this cult that covers themselves in white body paint and growl and it’s totally unclear who exactly these people are supposed to be. In fact, a lot of things in this movie are quite unclear.

Whereas Adam Green’s Hatchet is one of the greatest examples, in my opinion, of a throwback to slasher films, Muck is the absolute worst example. It’s a movie that insinuates that you are stupid and your brain works at the most primordial level and offers you flashing images of breasts and blood to satisfy your inner caveman. I personally found this to be insulting, not because of the content, but because it’s a movie that talks down to you and feels proud of it.

Muck is without a doubt one of the worst films I have seen in recent memory and not in a fun way. It’s not like Birdemic that is terrible, but still has a charm and worth a laugh. No, Muck is a tortuous chore to sit through where minutes drag like fingernails on a chalkboard, an absolute painful cinematic experience, or should I say punishment.  

Goon Review: NekRomantik 2

aka “We All Have Our Little Kinks”… 😉 Take it away, Mr. Goo-n!! 🙂 xoxo


NEKRomantik 2 Review (by Andrew Peters)

Here at Kinky Horror, we believe in supporting whatever your little kink may be. Say you have a foot fetish… that’s cool with us (you hear that, Quentin Tarantino?). How about dressing up in cartoon animal costumes? Hey, it’s your thing, you freaky furry, you. I once read that Jenny McCarthy liked to eat while getting it in the stern. Seems like that would upset your stomach, but hey, she’s a tough chick.

Even if your thing is having sex with dead bodies, we’re not gonna judge you, although you should know that necrophilia is very much frowned upon. The more you know.

NEKRomantik 2 is a film that explores necrophilia in an artistic manner with a love story being its core, if you can believe that. This is very much the theme of the first film that it follows, so as a sequel, it’s a continuation of both theme and story as we pick up right where the first left off.

A beautiful blonde grave robber, Monika, has dug up the grave of the previous film’s lead, Rob (with a cameo from Betty appearing shortly after to steal his corpse, but to her disappointment, his body is missing) and has some fantasies to fulfill. Elsewhere, our protagonist Mark is dubbing pornos in German, which is actually an interesting lead in to the love scene between the decaying Rob and Monika.

It cuts back and forth between the two until Monika fails to orgasm and ends up retching into the toilet which is an interesting way of telling the audience she is into it, but isn’t able to do it. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t love Rob’s corpse, however. After bathing it, she dresses it and the two pose cuddly on the couch as she takes photos. Later that night, cupid’s arrow strikes Mark when his friend stands him up at the Movie Theater and Monika passes by. During a long scene of the film they are watching wherein two people eat hardboiled eggs while naked and discuss birds, the two hit it off.

At an attempt at a normal relationship, Monika disposes of Rob’s body after sawing it into pieces. Of course, she keeps pieces of the corpse. I’ll let you guess which two. Finally things seem to be getting to normal… sort of. After spending a long, long time at a carnival, the two finally have sex, but Monika wants Mark to lie still and not move. Along with that and discovering a certain “member” in her fridge, Mark is starting to have his doubts about this relationship. Starting? If I found someone’s junk in a girl’s fridge, I would be a quick memory.

After that, you can imagine normal will only last so long and the relationship starts to deteriorate (no pun intended). Monika must choose between which lover she wants and hopefully nobody gets hurt…

At its core, NEKRomantik 2 is actually quite a beautiful love story with a twisted perversion intertwined. Characters are fleshed out rather decently and you know what’s going on in their lives and in their heads, getting to know them quite well. It helps the experience, regardless of the necrophilia. Also like the first film, I have to comment on how wonderful the cinematography is. Shots are well focused and framed and it helps with the context of the scene. This does help making the scenes that drag out nice to watch.

I know this is more of an ‘artistic’ film, but I can’t help to feel there is way too much filler. Hell, there isn’t even any dialogue for about nearly twenty five minutes at the start. As I mentioned, these scenes are nice to look at it, but at some point you will reach for that fast forward button and say, “Ok, I get the point.” This happens several times throughout the film, padding the runtime to nearly 105 minutes and you could easily have cut 30 minutes from the film and made the same impact. The only part that really bored me was watching Mark and Monika fritter around at a carnival. It feels like the director needed more of a runtime and shooting at a carnival is free as long as you pay for your ticket. The film was shot shortly after the German reunification, so a lot that went into the film, but the emotion of that will most likely be lost on American audiences, like myself.

But where the film really shines is in the practical gore effects that are goopy, drippy and disgusting. It’s usually mixed with beautiful imagery, like Monika completely naked and straddling a corpse. There are plenty of severed body parts and blood spraying about to make even the most strongest of stomach feel weak.

Even though it can drag out for extended periods of time, director Jorg Buttgereit made a damn fine sequel, which is a hell of a lot more than you can say about most nowadays. The Blu-ray, fully restored and looking good even with lots grain (which just adds to the viewing experience) from Cult Epics, comes loaded with bonus features, like an audio commentary, still photo gallery, the soundtrack, A Moment of Silence at the Grave of Ed Gein short film my Jorg and plenty others to keep you busy. It’s also limited to 5,000 copies, so you’re gonna want to act fast and get yourself a copy to watch with your beloved.

Brand New Goon Review: Blood Car. :)

It’s time again for another edition of Goon Reviews, my groovy ghoulies…and this one’s making me feel very glad I never learned to drive!! 🙂 (I do know how to “ride”, though, if ya know what I’m sayin’… :))



Take a journey with me inside the brain hole of one Mr. Andrew Peters, as he tells us about life, love, and the pursuit of alternative fuel supplies in his latest Ho-rrific review. 🙂 xoxoxo



Blood Car Review  (by Andrew Peters…WOOT WOOT!! :))

Even though we are seeing a drop in gas prices (for the time being, but this is hardly the time for politics), it wasn’t long ago that gas prices were ridiculously high and the bleakness of our economy only made it seem like those prices would only increase. Can you imagine the chaos that would happen? How would it affect our lives and what would people do for gasoline? I guess that’s the idea behind Blood Car.

In a very near future where gas has reached over $30 a gallon, vegan Archie Andrews is just a simple Kindergarten teacher who happens to be working on a wheat grass engine. He buys his local produce from a stand, which is literally a small stand (think the Banana Stand from Arrested Development), run by fellow vegan Lorraine. Lorraine would love nothing more that to perform filatio on Archie and swallow his seed, as seen in her hentai-like illustration she is working on. Across from the produce stand is the meat stand, run by the sultry and seductive Denise. She is rude, foul-mouthed, crass and will providing most of the sex throughout the film.

After several failed engine tests, Archie gets drunk and accidentally cuts his hand on some broken glass and the blood drips into his test engine, providing enough power to make it run. This gives Archie an idea; what if he were able to provide enough blood to run a car engine? Archie donates a pint of blood by slicing open his arm and siphoning it out. Sure enough, his plan works and to his advantage, Denise is turned on by the fact that he can afford gas for his car… or so she thinks it runs on gas. Nevertheless, he takes Denise for a ride which she repays orally, until the car runs out of “fuel,” that is.

In need of more blood, Archie turns to hunting animals, a major no-no for vegans, but hey, the dude just wants to get laid. At first it’s small animals, and then he turns his attention to dogs, which he kills with several dozen shots of a BB gun. This, however, turns out to be insufficient and Archie needs more blood. Luckily, his landlord has just stopped breathing, so he tosses her into his homemade combine-like device in the trunk of his car that dices his victims up, so the blood and chunks flow right into his engine, powering his car. Realizing that human blood is essential, and that he can continue to bang Denise, he targets carjackers and such, but as his need for sex and the whole murdering thing that is slowly driving him insane, he targets anyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re fuel to him now.

The whole time, the black suited government has been keeping an eye on him and even making several attempts to steal the car themselves. They even try reasoning with Archie that they want to build a blood car, promising that the fuel will come from convicts, homeless or any other poor sap that isn’t a good ol’ US, taxpaying citizen. Archie is also promised riches, but can you really trust the government?

It’s an interesting notion, seeking alternative fuel sources during a time when prices are outrageous and our ever-growing need to better the world with an environment friendly fuel, that you have to wonder; would we really use (at first) delinquent humans as a fuel source? As long as people are happy and it’s making the streets safer, it sounds like a solid idea. But what happens when those resources start getting low? What about racial and class tensions? The divide between the wealthy and the poor will most likely get a whole lot larger. Of course, Blood Car only merely touches on this subject, not really delving too deep into something too political or philosophical, even though it could have. The film seems to be playing safe for a majority of the run time, never really asking any major questions until the very end when the big bad government gets involved, but it plants the questions I asked earlier into your head. Maybe that was the given intention the film had.

Much like most splat-stick comedies, like Evil Dead 2, this movie uses blood to its advantage, as poor saps are grinded into fuel and gore sprays from the trunk of Archie’s car. The blood is used very effectively in the film, but not necessarily as gross out, so don’t expect all kinds of gore frequently. The performances themselves are very funny and the entire cast does a knockout job. Archie is somewhat of a dweeb, but when he slowly starts to flip and go insane, you see it unravel before your eyes instead of some unexpected 180 degree turn. Denise brings the eroticism and degrading attitude toward everyone, looking down on them and you really want Archie to realize it’s not worth it and get with Lorraine, poor Lorraine. She’s sympathetic and goofy and most likely a good fit for Archie, but you can also see how clingy she can be, but still not deserving of her fate.

Even though the films raises questions it doesn’t answer or have the answers to, in a political sense, it still brings them up and does what it can with them, making itself and the viewer aware that maybe this is a future we are headed toward. Or maybe I’m thinking too much on this and it’s just a funny film poking fun at how ridiculous gas prices are.